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Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 23,862

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NOTE: Anyone can join Democratic Underground. They can claim anything. Democratic Underground gives no warranty that the people with which you interact on Democratic Underground are Democrats or even Progressives. They may be Republicans, other political agitators or merely the mentally-unstable, heavily intoxicated or deranged personalities whose behavior is best described as "shit-stirring assholes". Furthermore, reading the first two sentences again, realize that their irrational, inflammatory or destructive behavior may appear to be supported by other individuals or even the bulk of respondents to a given post. However, always applying the above paragraph to certain phantasmagoric situations you may witness in given threads in our fora, you are best served by believing only those ideas that you agree with to be real and the rest, highly suspect.

Journal Archives

Bullied NY woman sets up anti-bullying foundation

GREECE, N.Y. — The former upstate New York school bus monitor whose videotaped bullying by students spurred more than $700,000 in donations to her is using some of the funds to start her own anti-bullying foundation.

Very short article, so I only excerpted the opening paragraph. Click the link to read more!

The world is full of fabulously unexpected turns of fate, my friends: An elderly schoolbus monitor is cruelly berated and the taunts, some of them so cruel as to involve her son who committed suicide, are captured on film. Thousands, then millions watch her bear the abuse until she breaks down in tears. And every person watching remembers the tears they had to wipe away when the bullies came for them.

In a whole 'nother part of the country, one man sees the video and is driven to do something- but what? In this new age of crowdsourcing and kickstarter, he sets up an account where people can send the woman donations. Hundreds, then thousands, then hundreds of thousands, then almost a million dollars of donations flood in from all over the country and the world. The woman turns around and takes some of that money to help fund a foundation to stop bullying.

You might think the story ends there but, of course, it's now the prologue to something greater.

And all of this...distilled from the cruel taunts of schoolchildren!

The modern parable here extends passed the elements of the story: It's about never underestimating the power that you, alone, have to change the world with a single decent act, a defense of an innocent, a goodness shared. None of us know the real impact of our kindness and compassion. We might think them little things, insignificant against the bigger evils of the world.

But it goes the other way, too: Collectively, the little acts of kindness and compassion you and I commit today can and do ripple out, harmonize, and help make our world a better place.

We should all remember that.


Transnistria: The story of arms dealing from a country which does not exist.

Ever hear of "Transnistria"? No? Neither did I, until I watched this very unusual documentary. Transnistria is a very small country between Moldova and the Ukraine which has come under fire for arms dealing, including radiological (dirty) weapons. This documentary goes into Transnistria, explores the strange North Korean-like atmosphere of the country and just when you think you have a good idea where the doc is going, it takes an entirely different turn, switching gears to closely follows another reporter (not associated with the documentary crew) who also infiltrates Transnistria's strange, secretive society in order to purchase a radiological missile while pretending to be a buyer for a terrorist organization.

The beginning is interesting, the middle lags a bit but once they hookup with the second reporter the groundwork has been laid for an extremely disturbing expose into the world of arms dealing at the feet of the Russian army.

WARNING: There is one scene which I found shocking and out of place. It takes place at the one minute and ten second mark of Part 1, runs for two seconds, and shows a child soldier shooting a man on the ground. There is no other graphic material in the documentary that I noticed.


"What if we had a WikiLeaks in August of 1964, when we were told the North Vietnamese fired on...

...on a U.S. ship? Which in fact was a lie. It was a concocted lie at the Pentagon. And we didn't find out about that until Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers some 6-7 years later. But what if there had been a WikiLeaks? What if someone could have gotten that information out? Told the American people at the beginning of the Vietnam War: 'My fellow Americans, you're being lied to. This was all made up."

"I think anybody who supports WikiLeaks is commiting an act of patriotism. Because it guarantees, I think, I hope, that we have a better shot the next time the bad guys try to pull one off on us."

These quotes from an excellent Keith Olbermann interview of Michael Moore. With all the slime and smearing going on, it's important to remember that if we do not have access to the truth, we will be misled by those in power.


REUTERS: Assange berates United States from Ecuador embassy balcony

Credit: Reuters/Olivia Harris

(Reuters) - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange berated the United States on Sunday from the balcony of the Ecuadorean embassy where he has sought refuge from arrest, challenging President Barack Obama to end what he called a witch-hunt against his whistle-blowing website.

Speaking from within the London mission to avoid being detained by British police who want to extradite him to Sweden for questioning over rape allegations, Assange said the United States was fighting a war against outlets like WikiLeaks.

"As WikiLeaks stands under threat, so does the freedom of expression and the health of all of our societies," Assange said, dressed in a maroon tie and blue shirt, flanked by the yellow, blue and red Ecuadorean flag with dozens of British policemen lined up on the pavement below.

"I ask President Obama to do the right thing: the United States much renounce its witch-hunt against WikiLeaks," Assange said in a 10-minute speech which he ended with two thumbs up to the world's media.

More at the link! With the Obama administration's war on whistleblowers, Assange and Wikileaks are the a chilling reminder of how far "the freest nation on earth" will go to control the press. This open letter to The Guardian newspaper, entitled Rescind President Obama's 'Transparency Award' now, drafted by FBI whistleblowers Sibel Edmonds, Coleen Rowley and co-signed by (among others) Daniel Ellsberg, describes in detail this administration's attacks on transparency and journalistic freedom.

Obama will not change on his own, he must be pressured by his constituents in order to counterbalance the pressure on him from the MIC. It's that simple.


3 reasons Obama and Romney aren't talking about Afghanistan (+2 Mr. Fish cartoons)

The Week:3 reasons Obama and Romney aren't talking about Afghanistan


Well-Rounded: Sun Stays Nearly Spherical, Even When It Freaks Out

The 11-year solar cycle swoops between peaks of intense magnetic activity—apparent as sunspots, coronal loops and flares—and relative quiescence, when the sun's face is free of blemishes. New research shows that despite this tumult, the sun remains remarkably constant in its globular shape—findings that have left researchers scratching their heads.

Earth's closest star is one of the roundest objects humans have measured. If you shrank the sun down to beach ball size, the difference between its north-south and the east-west diameters would be thinner than the width of a human hair, says Jeffery Kuhn, a physicist and solar researcher at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. "Not only is it very round, but it's too round," he adds. The sun is more spherical and more invariable than theories predict.

Not the world's longest article so I only excerpted two paragraphs. Short, but I though it was interesting.

I fear the shit out of the Sun. I don't trust the Sun. The fucker is one giant continuous pile of nuclear explosions. That always struck me as being flakier than a volunteer at a hemp festival. News such as the article provides is somewhat comforting for my condition.


Megaupload case: New Zealand court wants FBI evidence

US authorities must show evidence of internet piracy before Megaupload boss Kim Dotcom is extradited, a New Zealand court has ruled.

Justice Helen Winklemann said that the defence team needed access to the evidence ahead of the extradition hearing, due in March.

Mr Dotcom denies FBI claims he copied and distributed music, films and other content on a huge scale.

Following his arrest in January the case has been beset by delays. In June a judge ruled that the warrant for the initial raid on his mansion and the way evidence was seized were illegal.

Any kind of delays in the extradition of Dotcom work against the US government's already tenuous case.

I wrote about this previously:
Kim Dotcom Goes on Mega-Offense Against U.S. Copyright Case


US, UK Betray Basic Values To Get Assange At Any Cost

While I've covered numerous aspects of Wikileaks, I've shied almost entirely away from the arrest of Julian Assange and the extradition fight to have him sent to Sweden, as well as the questions involving asylum in Ecuador. For the most part, I considered those things to be outside the scope of what's normally interesting around here. Whether or not you think the claims of what he did in Sweden were legitimate or trumped up, it was wholly separate from what he did with Wikileaks. That said, with the news today that Ecuador has, in fact, granted asylum to Assange, there are a few tidbits that have made the story extra interesting.

First up, is the absolutely astounding and shocking news -- as released to the public by the Ecuadorian embassy -- that the UK literally threatened to enter the embassy in order to get Assange and ship him to Sweden:

"You need to be aware that there is a legal base in the UK, the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act 1987, that would allow us to take actions in order to arrest Mr Assange in the current premises of the embassy. We sincerely hope that we do not reach that point, but if you are not capable of resolving this matter of Mr Assange's presence in your premises, this is an open option for us."

If you don't follow diplomatic and embassy issues, this might not seem like a big deal, but it's huge. While it's mostly a myth that embassies are considered the sovereign territory of the countries they represent, under the Vienna Convention, the UK has agreed that such premises "shall be inviolable" and that its agents "may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission." The UK's very direct threat here s that it would ignore that international agreement just to get Assange. That the UK would be willing to take such an incredibly drastic step to extradite Assange seems completely disconnected from the nature of the accusations against him. It would also put UK diplomats at risk around the globe, as other countries would note that it did not respect the Vienna Convention, so why should they?

Well worth clicking on the link to read the full article! The article goes into the enormous pressure the US is putting on the UK behind-the-scenes in order to get Assange into a position where they can take custody of him. Leaked StratFor e-mails indicate that the U.S. has a sealed indictment against Assange, something Obama's DoJ refuses to confirm or deny. However, just today a former British ambassador confirmed that the Obama administration is putting immense pressure on the UK to get Assange for them, including his possible seizure from the Ecuadorean Embassy. Once he has been extradited to Sweden, the Swedish government could turn him over to the United States.

Julian Assange and the Ecuadorean government have both offered to allow questioning at the Ecuadorian embassy and Assange also indicated he would be willing to travel to Sweden to answer any questions as long as the Swedish government could assure him they would not extradite him to the United States for a completely unrelated matter to their investigation.

In telling responses, the Swedish government has flatly rejected both options.

The Europen women's organization Women Against Rape said it appeared the zeal with which Assange is being gone after appears more related to executing a political agenda than protecting women't safety.


LOL. I deem this thread an INSTANT DU CLASSIC!


Court: Injured intern can't sue Oregon chimpanzee sanctuary

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Court of Appeals upheld a ruling that an intern whose thumb was bitten off by a chimpanzee four years ago can't seek damages from the sanctuary that employed her.


Howard's lawsuit claims the sanctuary was negligent in failing to secure the doors to the cage, failing to control Kimie before and after the first attack, and in minimizing the dangers associated with chimpanzees.

The appeals court found that chimps at the sanctuary attacked humans seven other times between 1995 and 2009. In three cases, the victim totally or partially lost a finger or thumb. The court noted, however, that several attacks occurred while people were disregarding the sanctuary's safety policies and not one was analogous to Howard's situation, in which a tunnel door was left unlocked.


The sanctuary's training manual states that 9-1-1 is to be called only in a life-threatening situation, and only Day and two other officials are authorized to make the call. The court opinion says when another intern phoned 9-1-1 after Howard was attacked, Day said: "'Who called 9-1-1? It's just your thumb.'"

The whole article is worth reading because my choice of four paragraphs is intended to point out what I thought was interesting and it doesn't contain all the facts of the case. Still, I feel pretty sorry for the girl. She's a young college student (anthropology major) and 10 days in she's viciously attacked in what appears (according to the articles I've read so far) to be negligence on the part of the organization she was doing free work for.

From another article, which doesn't mince words:
The Oregon Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that a college student who filed an $828,000 lawsuit against a chimpanzee sanctuary after one of the animals bit off most of her thumb can't go forward with her suit because a liability waiver she signed is ironclad.


Howard's attorneys alleged that the nonprofit protected the image of chimpanzees to a fault: Scolding another intern for calling 9-1-1 after Howard was attacked because the sanctuary's training manual states only the founder and two others should call 9-1-1 in life-threatening situations. Founder Lesley Day said the sanctuary was trying to avoid "receiv(ing) any unnecessary scrutiny over safety concerns," according to the opinion.


Howard, an anthropology student, applied for an internship at Chimps Inc. and signed a liability waiver stating she understood the risks of being at the sanctuary and that she wouldn't sue even if injuries she suffered were due to the "negligence or carelessness" of the sanctuary.

Ten days into her internship, she was attacked after entering an empty cage to clean it, she said in a deposition. An employee had told her chimps couldn't enter the cage through tunnels that led to it because the doors in the tunnels were locked, she said. But a tunnel wasn't locked and Kimie entered the cage and attacked her, she said. According to the appeals ruling, the Tumalo sanctuary requires all interns to agree that they will never talk about their experiences at the organization.

Again, for a clearer view, please read the full article. But...come on! I've worked for high tech companies which had less stringent NDA's than that.

Maybe you've guessed my OP isn't about chimps or animal sanctuaries at all. It's about how much liability an organization can contractually shift to an employee even when the organization may be entirely reponsible for injury or death due to negligence. With more and more Americans choosing unpaid internships in order simply to get a good recommendation for their résumé, are there other situations like this happening where interns are unpaid and without any sort of recourse?

Have any DUers been in a similar situation as an intern or heard of someone in a situation where they were injured but had no recourse?

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