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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 32,980

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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

An extraordinary win for the Raiders' cheerleaders

On July 1, about six months after being hit with a wage theft lawsuit that generated worldwide attention, the Oakland Raiders shipped out a new contract to the 40 members of its Raiderettes cheerleading squad, who call themselves "football's fabulous females."

The two-page document represents something almost revolutionary in the world of NFL cheerleading: a guarantee that the Oakland Raiders will no longer rip off the women who enliven its sidelines and work as team ambassadors when they are not performing.

The cheerleaders will now be earning $9 an hour.

Yeah, hardly a pretty penny, but a whopping raise.

In past seasons, Raiderettes earned $125 per game for 10 games, and virtually nothing for the hundreds of hours they put in for mandatory practices, rehearsals and public appearances. (Although cheerleaders can earn extra money at sponsored appearances, the money does not come from the team and such assignments are often doled out as favors to preferred members of the squad.)


Convicted Spy Arthur Walker Dies in Prison

Arthur Walker, one of four men convicted of selling secrets to the Soviet Union during the Cold War, has died in federal prison. He was 79.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons website confirmed that he died this month. A spokesman said he died over the holiday weekend, and Walker's family told Pete Earley, who wrote "Family of Spies: Inside the John Walker Spy Ring," that he died Friday of acute kidney failure.

Walker was serving three life sentences plus 40 years for copying and conspiring to deliver secrets to the Soviet Union. He was sentenced in 1985.

Earley said he was one month away from a parole hearing when he died.



Target security officer fired after reporting shoplifting cop

By Tom Jackman

Dallas Northington spent nearly eight years working for Target in loss prevention, roaming the stores and scanning the surveillance cameras. In an episode at the Leesburg Target store in May that he said was typical, a man was allegedly captured twice on video shoplifting, and Northington responded as he said he always did: He called the Leesburg police, made a report and provided them the videos of the two incidents.

But the man in the video may have been a Fairfax County sheriff’s deputy, Northington said he soon learned. And within days, two things happened: The deputy retired from the sheriff’s office and Target fired Northington, 29, a married father of two with a third child on the way.

Northington said Target officials told him that he had violated procedure by not filling out the proper paperwork before contacting the police, though he said his office had operated the same way for years. He said he also was told that he had been insubordinate for not seeking approval before calling police, though he said the standard practice was for him to act as needed.

But the man Northington said he and his supervisors identified as a deputy has not yet been charged with a crime though Northington said he had provided the man’s name and two color videos of him in action, his face clearly visible, to Leesburg police on May 27, the date of the second incident.



The Rio the World Cup didn't show

RIO DE JANEIRO -- There's shit in the water.

Two days after Brazil crashed out of the World Cup, on Thursday morning, one of Rio's foremost sanitation activists, Leona Deckelbaum, came down to Copacabana Beach to work.

She couldn't help laughing.

Tourists swam in the ocean across the street, and up and down the coast in both directions. In a city with a terrible sewage system even in the fancy neighborhoods and no complete sewage or water service in any of the 900-plus favelas, this is a terrible idea.

She had numbers, and a twinkle in her eye.



Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How far is Saudi Arabia complicit in the Isis takeover of much of northern Iraq, and is it stoking an escalating Sunni-Shia conflict across the Islamic world? Some time before 9/11, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, once the powerful Saudi ambassador in Washington and head of Saudi intelligence until a few months ago, had a revealing and ominous conversation with the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove. Prince Bandar told him: "The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally 'God help the Shia'. More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them."

The fatal moment predicted by Prince Bandar may now have come for many Shia, with Saudi Arabia playing an important role in bringing it about by supporting the anti-Shia jihad in Iraq and Syria. Since the capture of Mosul by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) on 10 June, Shia women and children have been killed in villages south of Kirkuk, and Shia air force cadets machine-gunned and buried in mass graves near Tikrit.

In Mosul, Shia shrines and mosques have been blown up, and in the nearby Shia Turkoman city of Tal Afar 4,000 houses have been taken over by Isis fighters as "spoils of war". Simply to be identified as Shia or a related sect, such as the Alawites, in Sunni rebel-held parts of Iraq and Syria today, has become as dangerous as being a Jew was in Nazi-controlled parts of Europe in 1940.

There is no doubt about the accuracy of the quote by Prince Bandar, secretary-general of the Saudi National Security Council from 2005 and head of General Intelligence between 2012 and 2014, the crucial two years when al-Qa'ida-type jihadis took over the Sunni-armed opposition in Iraq and Syria. Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute last week, Dearlove, who headed MI6 from 1999 to 2004, emphasised the significance of Prince Bandar's words, saying that they constituted "a chilling comment that I remember very well indeed".



Pastor Led Son’s Gay Wedding, Revealing Fault Line in Church

The Rev. Frank Schaefer and his son Tim last month.

Father and son had always been close, from the moment Tim Schaefer was born, six weeks premature, with blood poisoning, a weak heart and lungs, and a doctor who thought he would not make it through the night.

His father, the Rev. Frank Schaefer, a United Methodist minister, thought of his eldest son as a miracle child, saved by some combination of medicine and prayer, saved for something special.

“We couldn’t even touch him; he was in an incubator, and we had to reach in with latex gloves through those holes in the sides,” Mr. Schaefer said. “I begged God to please save his life.”

Their bond was such that, years later, facing a choice between upholding his church’s teaching and affirming his son’s sexual orientation, Frank chose to endanger his own career by officiating at his son’s same-sex wedding. The actions that followed — a rebellion in his congregation, a church trial, a defrocking and then, last month, a reinstatement — have made the Schaefers symbols of the conundrum facing much of American Christianity: How does religious doctrine on homosexuality respond to the longings for spirituality and community from congregants and family members who are gay?


There is that

Sunday's Doonesbury- The Fox Rumor Assessment Unit

Really hope this walking vagina shows up at the Koch Carnival


A giant pink vagina walking around the streets of Lithuania's capital turned a lot of heads and caused quite a clamor, so to say, during a weekend event intended to break down taboos about female health problems as part of a "Healthy Vagina World Tour."

The vagina, an almost body-length costume worn by an activist apparently undeterred by the summer sun, was accompanied by women handing out brochures with advice about vaginal health in downtown Vilnius.

But some locals were not too keen about the huge vagina, with its protruding red lips and fist-sized clitoris, parading through the city's streets on Sunday, a national holiday celebrating the coronation of a revered Lithuanian king.

"Maybe I'm too conservative, but this action shocked me," a local mother told the Delfi news outlet. "I understand the goal of the event, but the choice of time and place is wrong. July 6 is a statehood day, and in Vilnius there are a lot of people with children on the streets."

Pic at link.
The carnival:


ISIS Stole Some Shiny New Weapons From the Iraqi Army

Six months ago, as it swept into the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah in Iraq, ISIS was looking a lot less triumphant in Syria. Faced with a coordinated attack by a coalition of Syrian rebel groups, it was fighting for its survival on that front. Since then, ISIS has rampaged even further into Iraq. This is going to enable them to turn their attention back to Syria, but this time armed with a load of new pillaged weapons, making them a scarier prospect for their enemies.

According to Michael Knights, a fellow at the Washington Institute and specialist on ISF and the insurgency, roughly a quarter of the Iraqi Security Forces' (ISF) combat units collapsed within the first few days of fighting. ISIS has captured hundreds of US supplied upgraded Humvees, pickup trucks, tanks and armored vehicles, artillery pieces, and even reportedly a number of helicopters, not to mention huge stocks of ammunition and artillery shells. From the sheer quantity of captured equipment, Knights noted "ISIS has probably three sets of captured M16 rifles and body armor for every one of its fighters."

Although much of the captured hardware was in poor quality, and it is still unclear whether ISIS has the capability to use it, pictures of captured US supplied Humvees roaring down the streets of northern Iraq flying the group's distinctive black banner were obviously a bit of a propaganda coup. In a jab at their hated American enemies, ISIS's huge and vocal online fan base advertized the group's capture of US-supplied vehicles by mocking Michelle Obama's role in the #bringbackourgirls Twitter campaign, launching the hashtag #bringbackourhumvee.

Charles Lister, a fellow at the Brookings Doha Center, told me that, "ISIS's newly acquire fleets of Humvees, transport vehicles, and other APCs should prove valuable for the group, at least in the medium term. Of course, as time goes by, ISIS will need to maintain and repair the vehicles, which may raise some issues. But in terms of live capacity and coordination, ISIS can certainly make use of such an expanded vehicle fleet and potentially even exploit the more sophisticated radio equipment installed in Humvees.”


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