Ankara favors human rights bill, homecoming, for Kurds


Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Measures under consideration in the Turkish government deal with discrimination and human rights for the Kurdish minority community, the interior minister said. Ankara is considering a series of provisions aimed at finding a political solution to lingering issues with Kurdish minorities and guerrilla separatists.

Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, called recently for PKK rebels in Iraq to form so-called peace groups who would surrender to Turkish authorities. Ankara, for its part, is considering a series of amnesty offers and cultural considerations as part of a broader reconciliation plan.

Turkish Interior Minister Besir Atalay said the government was preparing a human rights bill and anti-discriminatory measures to send to lawmakers for their approval, Turkey’s leading English-language daily newspaper Today’s Zaman reports.

Atalay added there were plans for a trilateral committee of U.S., Iraqi and Turkish officials to discuss the resettlement of PKK members from camps in northern Iraq to compounds inside his country.

The interior minister estimated that there were around 11,000 members of the PKK in Iraq. “I think more than 50 percent of them would return to Turkey,” he said.

Surely, Cheney and his brown shirts teabaggers will find some reason to whine about this bit of diplomacy in the Middle East.

Kurds returning home? Declarations of peace? Civil rights? Not the kind of change Republicans favor.

Student won’t have to repay loan – court says bank’s mistake!

A Canadian bankruptcy court ruled a Nova Scotia ex-student with bank loans worth $50,000 doesn’t have to pay it back as the bank wasn’t wise in issuing them.

What!?

Alfredo Abdo, now 23, took out the first loan worth $20,000 from the Royal Bank of Canada in Halifax in his second year studying engineering at Dalhousie University in 2004, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Despite having a grade point average of 4.06 and a scholarship, Abdo lost much of the loan through bad online investments, the court heard.

The bank then offered him a second loan of $30,000, which he took. After switching to commerce from engineering, Abdo told the court he began experiencing stress-related dizzy spells and he dropped out of school and couldn’t find work.

He filed for bankruptcy a year ago and now lives with his mother, the report said.

Bankruptcy registrar Richard Cregan ruled against the bank’s claims for at least a partial repayment.

Another good reason – I guess – for keeping my Canadian options open. Like if I ever want a loan I intend to default on.

Nutball guilty of shooting wife – while trying to shoot her dog

Talk Radio personality Shannon Burke, who accidentally shot his wife in the head in April while aiming at her dog, has pleaded guilty and was ordered to jail for six months…

He walked out of courtroom and gave his wife, Catherine Burke, who has since recovered, a big hug and kiss. He would not say whether he would spend the night at their home, where the shooting took place, but he asked her to make meatloaf for dinner.

Until today, they had been banned from seeing each other, except at marriage counseling sessions…

Burke had been facing a possible 20-year sentence. But on Friday, he agreed to a plea deal with a far more lenient penalty. Still it makes him a convicted felon. He pleaded guilty to cruelty to animals for shooting the dog. That’s the felony. He also pleaded guilty to using a firearm while under the influence of alcohol. That’s a misdemeanor and a lesser charge than he was facing, which was shooting in a building…

His dog had disappeared from the yard, she said in a sworn statement, and as payback, he threatened to shoot her dog, which was in the house.

The defendant walked to a closet, got a .40-caliber handgun and told her, “‘I’m going to shoot the dog in the head, and you are going to watch,’ ” she said in divorce paperwork.

He pulled the trigger, but the gun didn’t go off, she said, so he got another ammunition clip, put it in and pulled the trigger again, she said.

That time, the gun went off and a single bullet went through the dog’s back leg, kept traveling and cut a ridge along the right side of Catherine Burke’s head…

The dog, also, has recovered

Good old Clear Channel fired him – for shooting up his home, not his sleazy right-wing politics. Now, he’s starting over again with a talk radio show about how he’s becoming a “better man”.

Frankly, the dog is more worthy of attention than this thug.

US war crimes envoy appears at International Court


Bhopal

A US envoy for war crimes has appeared at the International Criminal Court for the first time.

Stephen Rapp spoke as an observer at the court’s annual meeting in the Hague, saying the US was keen to better understand the workings of the court. The US has in the past refused to join the ICC, which was set up in 2002 to try individuals for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

The court can only try people from countries which have ratified it

Mr Rapp attended the annual meeting of the Assembly of States Parties, which is made up of 110 countries that have ratified the Rome Statute that founded the court in 2002.

He mentioned again the US concerns over the term “aggression” in the statute.

“Our view has been and remains that should the Rome Statute be amended to include a defined crime of aggression, jurisdiction should follow a Security Council determination that aggression has occurred,” he said.

Once again, our government takes baby steps at repairing the damage of decades of conservative cowardice. Our politicians are so bloody afraid of being adjudged responsible for our actions – political, military and corporate – that we’d rather stay out of the legal process altogether.

Instead of being a force for good, we’ve been a force for non-compliance and copouts.

Most/Least affordable cities to buy a home in America


Googling for a minute, here’s a home for $95K just east of Indianapolis

Most affordable: Indianapolis

Median home price: $105,000
Median income: $68,100
Affordability score: 94.5%

America’s most affordable housing market is the 33rd largest metro area in the United States, with 1.7 million people…

The turmoil in the auto industry, which Indianapolis had been closely associated with, has hurt the city. But increased diversification, which has made pharmaceutical companies, banks government agencies and insurers all important employers, has helped keep job losses in check. The unemployment rate was just 7.7% in September, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, well below the national rate of 9.8% that month.

Least affordable: New York City

Median home price: $425,000
Median income: $64,800
Affordability score: 19.2%

Home prices can be staggeringly high in many New York City metro area communities, but median income is not commensurately high; it’s under $65,000. That combo makes it the country’s least affordable major metro area…

After holding up better and longer than most housing markets, sales and prices around New York City have started to experience greater declines. The market there is highly influenced by what’s happening on Wall Street; when financial markets sneeze, the real estate industry there says “God bless you” with feeling.

Here in New Mexico, we’re still <8% unemployment rate – for citizens and legal residents.

Though I've written in the past about new high tech incomers keeping up our growth – HP, Intel, solar mfg companies – home construction has long been a mainstay of state economy. We are, after all, not only a destination for tourism; but, retirees and just plain folks looking for clean air. Telecommuting makes a lot possible.

A regional biggy in home construction – who simply pulled up and went on vacation when the bottom fell out of sleazy sub-prime mortgages – reappeared a few weeks ago in Albuquerque. Debt-free, still solid ownership of the land where they had previously started subdivisions, they've sold 3 lots in a week and have started moving dirt. And the mortgages are worth more than paper, this time.

Rightwing churches kickoff campaign of fear

145 evangelical, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian leaders have signed a declaration saying they will not cooperate with laws that they say could be used to compel their institutions to participate in abortions, or to bless or in any way recognize same-sex couples.

We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence,” it says. The signers include nine Roman Catholic archbishops and the primate of the Orthodox Church in America.

They want to signal to the Obama administration and to Congress that they are still a formidable force that will not compromise on abortion, stem-cell research or gay marriage. They hope to influence current debates over health care reform, the same-sex marriage bill in Washington, D.C., and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation…

Ira C. Lupu, a law professor at George Washington University Law School, said it was “fear-mongering” to suggest that religious institutions would be forced to do any of those things. He said they are protected by the First Amendment, and by conscience clauses that allow medical professionals and hospitals to opt out of performing certain procedures, and religious exemptions written into same-sex marriage bills.

Have to watch out. There might be a Death Panel hiding under your bed.

More realistic. These paranoids have enjoyed a disproportionate measure of power from political opportunists and cowardly media. Their fears are those of discredited reactionaries everywhere. They thrive on an ignorant public accepting of their lies.

Certainly, their paranoia is laughable. But, automatic acceptance by an ignorant and ill-informed public perpetuates bigotry as thoroughly as any compliant legal system.

Pig out more at Thanksgiving – Shop less on Black Friday

In “We Are What We Consume: The Influence of Food Consumption on Consumer Impulsivity,” Arul Mishra and Himanshu Mishra show how the types of food consumed during Thanksgiving can influence impulsive choices; for instance whether consumers buy on sales the next day or not.

“Most of us don’t connect what we eat to our subsequent choices,” Arul Mishra said. “However, our research shows that types of food, such as turkey, make people behave less impulsively. Such people are less likely to buy products available at a discount and will find it easier to restrain their impulsive urges and choices.”

In other words, if you’re looking to spend less this holiday season, eat a good Thanksgiving meal…

The combination of tryptophan-rich foods like turkey and carbohydrates like mashed potatoes increases levels of serotonin, a chemical produced in the brain that affects many functions in the central nervous system, including mood, appetite, sleep and some cognition.

Serotonin levels have also been shown to correlate with impulsive behaviors. The researchers conclude people who have increased levels of serotonin, such as someone who recently ate a large turkey dinner, are less prone to impulsive purchases. Most meats (e.g., turkey, chicken) and tofu have the amino-acid tryptophan that synthesizes serotonin.

Har! Any excuse will do – like being too sleepy to get up the next morning and stand in line at Best Buy.

‘Fat for cosmetic injections’ killers arrested

Four people have been arrested in Peru on suspicion of killing dozens of people in order to sell their fat and tissue for cosmetic uses in Europe. The gang allegedly targeted people on remote roads, luring them with fake job offers before extracting their fat to sell it for $15,000 a litre…

Police said the gang could be behind the disappearances of up to 60 people in the region.

At a news conference in the capital, police showed reporters two bottles containing human body fat and images of one of the alleged victims…

Police said they suspect the fat was sold to cosmetics and pharmaceutical companies in Europe, but have not confirmed any such connection.

Gen Felix Burga, head of Peru’s police criminal division, said there were indications that “an international network trafficking human fat” was operating from Peru.

Throw away the key!