Churchgoing Americans most likely to be in favor of torture

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The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey.

More than half of people who attend services at least once a week — 54 percent — said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is “often” or “sometimes” justified. Only 42 percent of people who “seldom or never” go to services agreed, according the analysis released by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified — more than six in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only four in 10 of them did.

The religious group most likely to say torture is never justified was Protestant denominations — such as Episcopalians, Lutherans and Presbyterians — categorized as “mainline” Protestants, in contrast to evangelicals. Just over three in 10 of them said torture is never justified. A quarter of the religiously unaffiliated said the same, compared with two in 10 white non-Hispanic Catholics and one in eight evangelicals.

Is anyone surprised? The question is about believing in hate as much or more than love, retribution as much or more than forgiveness, bigotry over understanding and knowledge – every day of the week. It’s as American as mom and apple pie.

Father delivers baby son after watching instructions on YouTube

A father managed to deliver his baby son after watching DIY baby delivery video clips on YouTube.

Feeling nervous about the imminent birth of his child Marc Stephens had a look at childbirth videos on his home computer.

Four hours later his wife, Jo, went into labour three weeks earlier than expected and, as paramedics rushed to help, Stephens was able to put his new-found knowledge into action and helped deliver 5lb 5oz Gabriele.

Stephens, 28, a naval engineer, told yesterday how he had already learned how to play the guitar and solve the Rubik’s Cube puzzle from YouTube videos. So it didn’t seem too much of a leap for him to check out the whys and wherefores of childbirth.

He said: “I spent about half a hour on Google and watched a couple of videos on YouTube…After he finished looking at the sites at about 10.30pm the couple went to bed, only to wake up at 2am with Jo, 28, in labour…

The baby was delivered safely and both mother and child are doing well. Jo, who has three other children, said: “I was quite relaxed. I have to say, out of all my four labours, that was the one I enjoyed the most. Marc is one of those people who can put his hand to anything.”


Immigration Agents turn their focus on employers

In an effort to crack down on illegal labor, the Department of Homeland Security intends to step up enforcement efforts against employers who knowingly hire such workers.

Under guidelines to be issued to Immigration and Customs Enforcement field offices, agents will be instructed to take aim at employers and supervisors for prosecution “through the use of carefully planned criminal investigations.”

Senior officials of the Homeland Security Department said Wednesday that illegal workers would continue to be detained in raids on workplaces. But the officials said they hoped to mark an abrupt departure from past practices by making those arrests as part of an effort to build criminal and civil cases against employers.

Under the Bush administration, the officials said, most raids were conducted largely on the basis of tips that an employer was hiring illegal workers, rather than on information gleaned from audits of employer records or undercover investigations. As a result, agents rounded up thousands of illegal immigrants but rarely developed the evidence necessary to show whether businesses were knowingly using illegal labor…

“Enforcement efforts focused on employers better target the root causes of illegal immigration,” say the guidelines, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times. “ICE must prioritize the criminal prosecution of actual employers who knowingly hire illegal workers because such employers are not sufficiently punished or deterred by the arrest of their illegal work force.”


Q and A on Chrysler Bankruptcy

Still my favorite Chrysler product

Q. Will Chrysler cease to operate?

A. No. Chrysler is reorganizing under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. The law allows companies to shed assets, restructure debt, cancel contracts and close operations that normally would have to continue running. Once they secure financing to leave bankruptcy, these companies are reconstituted as new legal entities…

Q. How long will this take?

A. The Obama administration spoke of a “surgical bankruptcy” which it said could be completed in 30 to 60 days. It plans to use Section 363 of the bankruptcy code to sell assets, rid the company of liabilities and restructure its debt, creating a new Chrysler…

Q. What happens to Chrysler dealers?

A. Chrysler Financial will cease making loans for Chrysler vehicles; GMAC, with support from the government, will provide financing for Chrysler dealers.

Q. What happens to Chrysler employees?

A. The White House said it did not expect any reductions in white- or blue-collar jobs as a result of the bankruptcy. However, Chrysler employees who are not union members do not have any job security.

RTFA for details – though it’s just a starter. Chrysler-Fiat merger is on. That bodes well for Chrysler dealers who will begin to pick up salable, economical small cars.

Cripes – I would even consider adding a Fiat 500 to the family fleet though I’m still holding out for a Dakota Pickup with the Sprinter turbo-diesel.

Barbie grooves with tattoos

The Barbie doll has been given a make-over for her 50th birthday and been given tattoos.

The doll now comes with a set of sticker tattoos so children can make her look like their heroes, such as Jordan, Amy Winehouse or Cheryl Cole…

Customize the fashions and apply the fun temporary tattoos on you too. Choose from Barbie or Nikki dolls, both include additional fashions, tattoo stamper and tattoos.”

But parents have expressed concern.

So, would you buy this doll for your kids? What’s your answer when your daughter says, “I want a tattoo like Barbie?”

What if she’d like to be tattooed like this Barbie Doll?

Immigrant schoolboy charged for hitting back at bully – UPDATED

He had heard his white classmate throw an angry racial slur in his direction after an argument during a gym class game of speedball, and now the student was shoving him backward, refusing to retract the smear.

The white student swung first, hitting the 15-year-old with a punch to the mouth.

The 15-year-old heard his father’s voice running through his head: Fight only as a last resort, only in self-defence, only if given no choice, and only with the left hand – his weaker left hand.

His swing was short and compact, a left-handed dart that hit the white student square on the nose.

The nose broke under his fist, igniting a sequence of events – from arrest to suspension to possible expulsion – that has left the Asian student and his family wondering whether they are welcome in this small, rural and mostly white community north of Toronto, one that has been touched by anti-Asian attacks in the past.

The 15-year-old, the only person charged in connection with the April 21 school fight, faces one count of assault causing bodily harm.

But a remarkable thing happened this week. On Monday, 400 of his fellow students, wearing black in solidarity and carrying signs of support, walked out of Keswick High School to rally in protest in front of their school.

Organizer Mathew Winch, a Grade 12 student, said the school has fewer than 10 Asian students, but everyone wanted to stand up against bullying and racism.

After the public outcry, the York Regional Police hate crimes unit reopened the case. Although the other student has not been charged…

The town, the region, has a history of racist crime especially against Asian immigrants. That doesn’t explain away inaction by school officials and the police. They are charged with being above bigotry – whether it feels good or not.

It’s about time for them to start acting like representatives of a free country.

UPDATE: The school board has revoked the boy’s suspension.

Apple conference booked in record time – 2nd year in a row!

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Apple says that WWDC 2009 has completely sold out, marking the second time in as many years that its annual developers conference will fill to capacity as programmers descend on San Francisco to hear the latest on Mac and iPhone software development.

This year’s conference sold out in a little over four weeks, nearly twice as fast as last year’s event, which was the first time in the show’s history that Apple was forced to halt the registration process.

WWDC has grown dramatically in recent years, prompting Apple to move the event from the original underground Moscone Center into the modern new Moscone West building. In 2007, Apple set a record for WWDC attendance with 5,000 developers from around the world. This year’s conference will see even more attendees…

The Cupertino-based company is expected to use its opening keynote at this year’s conference to show off a feature complete version of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. It’s also a likely stage for the electronics maker to take the wraps off its third-generation iPhone hardware, a move which would mirror that of years past.

With my background in sales, I look at news like this very differently from pundits who only count their analysis in fanboys or anti-fanboys. Essentially, this still is a conference for developers. There are dozens of workshops training and educating those who develop for – or support – the OS X platforms.

So, what this tells me about is opportunities to make a living, build a business. There will always be a tiny and tidy corner for naysayers to gather, point fingers and declaim about Apple’s lack of religious purity. Meanwhile, the fracking company not only makes money – they make it easier than most to make money on your own.

McCurry beats McDonald’s in Malaysia – UPDATED

Putting the first “c” back in McCurry since 2006
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Fast food chain McDonald’s lost a lawsuit in Malaysia on Wednesday after an appeals court overruled a decision that its trademark had been infringed by a local restaurant called McCurry.

“Where the learned judge, with respect, erred is to assume that McDonald’s had a monopoly in the use of the prefix ‘Mc’ on a signage or in the conduct of business,” Judge Gopal Sri Ram said, overturning a 2006 ruling in favor of McDonald’s.

The McDonald’s operation in this Southeast Asian country of 27 million people is run as franchise by prominent businessman Vincent Tan and has 185 outlets.

McCurry, by contrast, serves Indian fast food from one restaurant in Kuala Lumpur as well Malaysian dishes such as fish head curry and is short for “Malaysian Chicken Curry”.

I haven’t had a good fish head stew since I left Louisiana. Har!

UPDATE: McDonald’s won’t leave it alone. Back to appeals court, today.

And McCurry won, again!

Bravo! McDonald’s says they’ll leave it alone, finally.

Gordon Brown bruised after defeat over Gurkha immigration

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Gordon Brown was struggling last night to shore up his authority after suffering his first Commons defeat as prime minister when MPs voted to allow all retired Gurkhas to settle in Britain…

The political atmosphere changed yesterday after MPs backed by 267 votes to 246 a Liberal Democrat demand for “an equal right of residence for all Gurkhas”.

The defeat was a particular blow to Brown, who had strongly defended the government’s position when he faced sustained questioning on the Gurkhas from Cameron and Nick Clegg. Brown said an open policy could result in up to 100,000 Nepalese veterans and their relatives coming to the UK, at a cost of £1.4bn.

A Labour Prime Minister whose ideology sounds like a beancounter.

The vote was a personal victory for Clegg who was widely praised for putting in his strongest performance at prime minister’s questions when he condemned Brown for his “shameful” approach. “Can [the prime minister] not see that there is a simple moral principle at stake, and it is this: if someone is prepared to die for this country, surely they deserve to live in this country?” Clegg asked.

Clegg held a joint press conference after the vote outside the Commons with Cameron flanked by the actor Joanna Lumley, whose father fought with the Gurkhas in Burma. Lumley said: “Just before this vote was taken our spirits were nearly at zero. When it came through we saw it on the screen and I can’t tell you the sense of elation, the sense of pride – pride in our country, pride in the democratic system and pride in our parliament.”

We seem to be catching a few bright moments around the planet, lately. Some of the same old scum are still in power; but, maybe this is one of those days worth remembering.

Pakistan troops retake Buner Valley – kill over 50 Taliban in battle

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Pakistani troops took the main town in strategically important Buner Valley on Wednesday after dropping by helicopter behind Taliban lines, killing more than 50 militants in two days, the military said.

A U.S. drone meanwhile fired a missile into another region, the major al Qaeda sanctuary of South Waziristan, killing six militants in the latest such attack by U.S. forces in Pakistan’s border areas with Afghanistan.

The Taliban’s advance earlier this month into Buner, just 100 km northwest of the capital had sent shivers through Pakistan and heightened fears in the United States that the nuclear-armed Muslim state was becoming more unstable.

We assure the nation that armed forces have the capability to ward off any kind of threat,” military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas told a news conference in Rawalpindi, the garrison town close to the capital, Islamabad.

We got the same assurances – via military-to-military contacts – from President Obama, tonight, in his prime time press conference.

Pakistan had used jet fighters at the start of the operation on Tuesday then deployed helicopter gunships which inflicted more than 50 casualties, Abbas said. One soldier was killed.

The Islamabad government’s demonstration of military resolve will probably reassure U.S. President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai when they meet Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari in Washington on May 6-7 to discuss strategy.

RTFA. Lots of detail – even though the article serves as a catch-all while everyone tries to figure out [1] what is actually going on in Pakistan, especially the Tribal areas – and [2] has the Pakistan government gotten to where it has a coherent strategy to continue the process of building a strong and democratic state?