Sweden votes to legalize gay marriage

Sweden will allow homosexuals to legally marry from May this year after parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of the move. The change in the law, which currently allows gay couples to register unions but not formal marriage, comes into force on May 1 this year under the timetable set out in the bill.

Scandinavian countries, known for their liberal attitudes toward gays and lesbians, were among the first countries in Europe to grant same-sex partners the same rights as married couples…

The passage of the bill was widely expected and the final tally was 261 votes in favor of the bill and 22 opposed

The Christian Democrats, part of the four-party coalition government, refused to back the bill.

A certain measure of consistency. Politicians who pander to Christians – who devote their ideological life to turning their back on modern life and science – support each other’s foolishness and phobias.

Five European countries now allow gay marriage. We haven’t five states that advanced that far.

Now, we know the real secret of a long happy life

oldsmoke

Nigeria’s anti-narcotics agency confiscated 6.5 tones of marijuana Tuesday from the home of a man who claimed to be 114 years old.

The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) said it had found 254 sacks of cannabis at the home of Sulaiman Adebayo in Ogun state, north of the commercial capital Lagos.

“The quantity of drugs suggests a large scale involvement … There is more to the case than Pa Sulaiman,” NDLEA chairman Ahmadu Giade said in a statement.

Adebayo, who said he had been a farmer all his life, told police he thought the sacks contained rice.

Get the munchies? Turn it all into Rice Krispies.

Google forms $100 million venture capital fund


Daylife/Getty Images

Google is launching a $100 million venture capital fund to develop start-up companies in a range of industries, the company announced in a blog post.

Google Ventures will find and fund “exceptional start-ups” in such fields as consumer Internet, software, biotechnology and health care.

“They’ve been investing and acquiring smaller companies for years,” said Marianne Wolk, analyst at Susquehanna Financial Group. “This announcement is a natural extension of that.” Plus, she added, the $100 million is a relatively small investment compared to the $2 billion Google spent on research and development in 2008…

Great ideas come when they will,” the blog post said. “If anything, we think the current downturn is an ideal time to invest in nascent companies that have the chance to be the ‘next big thing,’ and we’ll be working hard to find them.”

Confidence in technology. Confidence worldwide and domestically. What a comparison to the reactionary politicos who sit back and whine about taxes and change.

Puerto Rican ID theft ring sold document sets of ID to illegal immigrants

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As many as 12,000 Puerto Rican schoolchildren, teachers and school administrators are believed to be victims of an identity-theft ring that sold stolen personal documents to illegal immigrants in the mainland United States, according to the FBI.

A federal grand jury this week indicted eight people on charges of identity theft, aggravated identity theft and Social Security fraud.

“In search warrants, we found over 5,000 different types of identification documents — originals and copies, Social Security cards and birth certificates,” FBI spokesman Harry Rodriguez said.

They were selling them as a set; an original birth certificate and Social Security card sold for $150 or more. Copies sold for $40 or more,” he said.

Authorities believe the suspects broke into about 50 public schools and stole personal files belonging to students, teachers and school administrators. In Puerto Rico, students must provide an original or a copy of their birth certificate to be registered in a school.

Should get them some sort of award for enterprise in entrepreneurship, eh?

Hedge fund was “feeder” for $7 billion to Madoff fraud

A US hedge fund, Fairfield Greenwich, has been charged with fraud for pumping nearly $7 billion of its clients’ money into Bernard Madoff’s corrupt investment empire with “total disregard” for any checks on the renegade financier’s activities.

The action, by Massachusetts’ securities regulator, is the first to be taken against any of the so-called “feeder funds” that channelled billions of dollars in the direction of Madoff, who was jailed last month…

The Fairfield Greenwich hedge fund caught up in the scandal is run by Walter Noel, a high-profile New York society figure whose glamorous family was once described by Vanity Fair magazine as “shoring up the virtues of a nearly extinct aristocracy”.

Charges filed by Massachusetts’ secretary of state, William Galvin, said 95% of the firm’s $7.2bn Sentry fund was invested with Madoff, who admitted in court last month that he had barely done any genuine trading for nearly two decades.

Through a 1% commission fee, Fairfield earned $100m a year from pushing money in Madoff’s direction.

Galvin’s charges said: “They were blinded by the fees they were earning, did not engage in meaningful due diligence and turned a blind eye to any fact that would have burst their lucrative bubble.”

Crooks paying commissions to crooks surely sounds like conspiracy.

Applying for food stamps? Republican says, “Pee in a cup, first!”

If Craig Blair gets his way, anyone filing for unemployment or food stamps must show that they are drug-free. He’s a state lawmaker in West Virginia who has introduced a bill to require random drug testing for benefits.

Craig Blair says unemployment, designed to get people back to work, is impossible if the recipient uses drugs.

“The message that we’re trying to send is, first of all, we need to respect taxpayers and how their monies are spent,” the Republican said. “And drug addiction is in epidemic proportions, and not only in West Virginia but throughout the United States.”

His bill would require random drug testing for any government assistance: welfare, jobless benefits or food stamps.

Someone who failed the drug test would get the benefits and 60 days to clean up. If he failed the next test, he would lose benefits for two years…

Graham Boyd, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Drug Law Reform Project, calls it “typical political theater…If anything, [you’d think] people would be more compassionate now that people have lost jobs,” Boyd said.

How about including lie detector tests for elected officials, members of Congress, bureaucrats?

Prosecutor agrees to special terms in case murder victim comes back to life.

A Maryland woman involved with a group described as a religious cult pleaded guilty in the starvation death of her son, but insisted that the charges be dropped when he is resurrected.

The condition was made a part of Ria Ramkissoon’s plea agreement, officials said. She entered the plea Monday in Baltimore, Maryland, to a first-degree felony count of child abuse resulting in death, her attorney, Steven Silverman, said Tuesday.

Ramkissoon, a member of a group called One Mind Ministries, believes Javon Thompson, her year-old son, will rise again, and as part of her plea agreement, authorities agreed to the clause….

Ramkissoon and the others are accused of denying Javon food after the group’s leader, a 40-year-old woman who goes by the name Queen Antoinette, decreed the boy was a demon since he refused to say “amen” after meals, Silverman said.

“Ria would cling to him every day and try to get him to say ‘amen,’ ” Silverman said. Eventually, Queen Antoinette ordered that Ramkissoon be separated from the child, he said.

Javon is believed to have died in December 2006, court documents allege. Following his death, the group members put the boy’s body in a back room, and “everyone was directed to come in and pray,” according to the documents. “The Queen told everyone that ‘God was going to raise Javon from the dead.’ Javon remained in the room for an extended period of time (in excess of one week). The resurrection never took place.”

There’s truly no end to the downward spiral once you decide to separate your intellect from your search for the truth.

Prominent on the stage of the ‘war on terror’


…during the funeral for police killed in Lahore this week
Daylife/AP Photo

The admission by the chief of the Pakistani Taleban, Baitullah Mehsud, that his group was behind Monday’s attack on a police academy in Lahore comes as little surprise.

Analysts and officials said in the immediate aftermath of the attack that the most likely connection was with Mr Mehsud’s Tehrik-e-Taleban (TeT) organisation.

What has caught many off guard is how quickly and openly Mr Mehsud accepted responsibility…

It is another indication of how much the power of the Taleban has grown and how secure they feel in their safe havens along the border with Afghanistan. In particular, the Waziristan tribal region – part of which is controlled by Mr Mehsud – stands out as the place which currently harbours some of the most wanted men in the world.

For Pakistani security forces and the US, it has increasingly become centre stage in what was once called “the war on terror”.

Everybody from Osama bin Laden to the trans-Atlantic bombing suspect, Rashid Rauf, has at one time or another said to have been based in this territory.

If there is a place in the world which can continue to provide shelter for al-Qaeda, this is it.

RTFA and learn something of the world so unfamiliar to American idealogues. Less so to the Brits, those anyway who journey beyond the confines of tragically-mediocre journalism.

Syed Shoaib Hasan is a brave and curious man. He’s been at this a long time.

California lawmaker wants to sell off San Quentin prison

If one California lawmaker has his way, his cash-strapped state may have an arresting real estate listing on the market: San Quentin State Prison.

State Sen. Jeff Denham is proposing selling the 432-acre prison, which offers a breathtaking view of San Francisco Bay, to garner money for California. “Our inmates just don’t need an ocean view. Let’s level it off,” said Denham, a Republican.

“Let’s rebuild something for the community there and reap the benefit for the state by having that money come in,” he added.

Denham estimates that the property could sell for as much as $2 billion, even amid a down market.

They could sell it to the Republican National Committee – who could easily raise the money for a good cause. [They do raise money for good causes once in a while, don’t they?]. Then, move it to Texas to be the George W. Bush Memorial Library. Staffed with former staffers – doing time.