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8405NEWS -- 2014.05.09.Friday

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  • James Martin
    May 9 4:50 PM
      Friday 09 May 2014, 16:50
      Charlotte      69f - 21c
      Tupelo         70f - 21.5f
      Washington  71f - 22c
      1) Mom Pays Off Every Student's Balance Following Denial of School Lunch to Son
      2) Sympathy for the Christian bigot
      3) North Korea unleashes racist slurs against Obama
      4) These are the 'essential skills' needed to be an Obama ambassadonor
      5) Cecily McMillan's Verdict Shows Our Acceptance of Police Violence
      It's a small group of people found in most cultures who cause most of the trouble.
      It's a large group of people found in most cultures who do good.
      Something really good ---

      Mom Pays Off Every Student's Balance Following Denial of School Lunch to Son

      By Lauren Tuck, Shine Staff | The Good News – Friday 09 May 2014
      When Amanda Keown got a call at work from her son last week, the news she received made her furious. Dominic Gant, a junior at Dowagiac Union High School in Dowagiac, Michigan, told his mother that he had not received his hot lunch that day because of an outstanding balance. But instead of just fixing her son’s situation, she decided to help the rest of the students dealing with the same situation.

      More on Yahoo Shine: School Lunch Is on This Generous Third-Grader’s Tab

      Keown, a single mother who holds two jobs to support her family, didn’t realize there were insufficient funds in Dominic’s account (a total of $4.95 was still owed on his account). Though he offered to pay $2 of the $2.45 tab that day with the money he had on him and then bring the remainder in the next day, his offer was turned down and his lunch was thrown in the trash by a school official. Not only was the 16-year-old humiliated in front of his peers by the very public incident, but his name was also posted, along with that of lots of other students with delinquent expenses, on a list in the cafeteria for everyone to see. "I was very angry to the point I was sick to my stomach," Keown tells Yahoo Shine.

      More on Yahoo: Employees Put on Leave After School Lunches Taken

      Upset that Dominic went the day without eating all because of an outstanding bill totaling to less than $5, Keown immediately rectified the situation. She paid the balance but, concerned about others like her son, offered to settle all of the other kids' overdue balances, writing a check that included an additional $200 to be divided between the 19 teenagers named. She knew there were more children to help, though, so she didn’t stop there. “I kept picturing the elementary kids and what they have to be thinking going through the same thing,” she says. Keown aired her grievances on Facebook and friends and acquaintances sounded off with corresponding stories. Then she posted a petition to Care2.com to bring more attention to the issue.

      Mark Daniel, the superintendent of Dowagiac Union Schools, explains that there are policies in place throughout the district to avoid instances such as these, especially for the younger students. If someone doesn’t have enough money to pay for a meal, then he or she is instructed to talk to an administrator on duty, who in most cases will arrange to get the child a lunch. “It would be a very rare situation for a student not to receive their lunch,” he tells Yahoo Shine. But, Daniel adds, he is very grateful to Keown for bringing this circumstance to his attention and for her donation. “We were doing some things that probably needed to be corrected and I personally want to make sure that we’re consistent throughout the district.”

      This isn’t the first noted instance of students being denied a hot lunch. Earlier this year, an eighth grader at a Norwalk, Iowa, school couldn’t eat because of a miscommunication between her parents and her school over bills. And in April, some 25 students at Coelho Middle School in Attleboro, Massachusetts were allegedly refused or forced to dump their food by a worker for the district's service provider due to missed payments. Additionally, a survey of Minnesota public schools in February found that 94 percent of districts in 2013 deprived kids in some way for not having enough money.

      While some argue that Keown and other parents who missed their payments are the ones to blame for the incidents, she doesn't believe that young people should be punished for an adult's mistake. “The bottom line is that the food is taken from them,” she says. “It doesn’t matter whose fault it is. The kids shouldn’t have to pay for that.”

      More on Yahoo Shine:
      The Controversial School Lunch Policy I Fully Support
      Pink Slime Returns to Cafeteria Lunches in Four States — and School Officials Allowed It
      This Ambitious 10-Year-Old Donated 500 Books to His School 

      The comments at the URL are uplifting, as well.

      Sympathy for the Christian bigot

      Posted on Tuesday, May 6 at 7:39pm | By Mark Morford

      “We quickly learned that according to some, there are some questions you just can’t ask – or you’ll suffer the consequences.” – Jim Daly, Focus on the Family

      Do you have a moment? Would you mind entertaining a humble question?

      Here it is: Is it really so wrong to believe that white people really are superior to all other races in every way imaginable – just as, you know, an obvious and general truth?

      Before you answer, let me also ask you this: Why has it become improper to suggest that men really are better and more capable than women at just about everything in life, except maybe needlepoint, soothing a wailing baby and making margaritas while wearing booty shorts and twerking?

      Hey, I’m just asking. Am I wrong to even pose the question? Are you trying to censor me? Are you suggesting that I, a straight white male of boundless cultural privilege, inherent power and obvious superiority to females and minorities and (most) dolphins, can’t force such ugly discussion points into the national dialogue? Whatever happened to free speech? What did Jesus die for, anyway? So I can say anything I want, that’s what.

      Besides, I’m hardly out of line. My humble questions stand proudly alongside those of another pious patriot, Jim Daly, president of America’s very own fundamentalist Christian sect, Focus on the Family, “Brutally judging you in the name of a spiteful and terrified God. Since 1977.” I’m pretty sure that’s their slogan.

      Do you remember Focus on the Family? James Dobson’s famously malicious, anti-everything crew from the Bush years? You might. Next to the Heritage Foundation, FotF established itself as one of the nation’s foremost fundamentalist hate groups, advocating everything that makes you just a little embarrassed to be an American: abstinence education, creationism, school prayer, Prop 8 – and opposing all the usual Christian phantasms: abortion, gay marriage, gay adoption, pre-marital sex, gambling, porn and all flavors of basic human joy you can name. Remember?

      FotF is still here, only with a new president, the slightly nicer, less openly antagonistic Jim Daly. What’s more, it turns out they just made a movie. A “documentary,” called Irreplaceable, featuring a sad-looking Aussie guy named Tim Sisarich (good luck finding a bio), wandering the world, asking questions very similar to mine – except his all zero in on one topic and one topic only: family. And there’s only one right answer.

      Let me confess one thing right now: The trailer for Irreplaceable, while completely absurd in its premise, is actually quite lovely. There is no sign of FotF’s usual hate speech, misogyny or homophobia. It’s just Sad Aussie Guy, looking sort of lost, asking a bunch of carefully chosen humans why the idea of “family” is being so horribly destroyed (Hint: it’s not – it’s just being reinvented).

      Sad Aussie Guy talks to various white people. He speaks with cute children. He speaks with “experts.” He seems to genuinely want to know if God-sanctioned Christian families really might be the balm that can heal the world’s nastiest woes – despite how many of those woes were caused, in large part, by organized religion, numb groupthink and fundamentalist dogma. Whoops, sorry – getting ahead of myself.

      So, fair enough, yes? Hey, I’m all for a curious soul – even an evangelical soul whose organization aggressively condemns everything you and I stand for – honestly asking profound questions of the world.

      But here’s the thing: the trailer gives you the idea that Sad Aussie Guy is open to hearing a wide variety of possible answers – such as how same-sex couplings and sodomy are rampant throughout the animal kingdom, or that traditional marriage was essentially invented by the church to codify its own power, or that gay couples are proving to be as good (if not better and more stable) parents than heteros, or that the godless blue states have lower rates of divorce, abortion and teen pregnancy than the religious red, or that huge numbers of Americans, particularly those under 30, believe marriage and traditional family structures to be archaic and not a little bit stifling (not to mention a statistical failure by nearly every measure), long overdue for transformation.

      You might think that. You would be wrong.

      Here’s the sinister catch: While the words “gay marriage” appear nowhere in the trailer, the entire movie is anti-gay/anti-independent thought propaganda, masquerading as a feel-good documentary. It pretends to listen to alternative views. It allows others to speak about their hook-ups and their non-traditional families. It then comes right back to the main point: only God. Or else.

      How do I know this, given how I haven’t actually seen the movie? For one thing, the film was written, produced, and released by Focus on the Family, which means its agenda is screamingly clear. For another thing, Mike Huckabee loves it.

      But I also know because Jim told me so himself. And so did his publicist:

      “Irreplaceable” covers major societal pressures that have contributed to the breakdown of the family. The film explores how deviating from God’s design for family causes society to suffer, but embracing it allows society to thrive. While the movie does present the forces harming today’s families, it also empowers viewers with this message: no matter what kind of pain you have experienced in your family – either as the result of your own poor choices or someone else’s – there is hope for redemption and restoration.” –PR email (excerpt)

      (Side note: I’m delighted to report I’m still on Focus on the Family’s PR mailing list, which is a bit like getting email from some ancient, creepy civilization. On Uranus).

      So Irreplaceable is obviously just more groupthink propaganda from one of the most intolerant sects in America. Big deal, right?

      That’s not the worst part. Re-read the quote at the top of this column. That’s Jim Daly, responding to all the liberals criticizing his film, demanding it be yanked from theaters for its message.

      Did you get the gist? Jim Daly is actually claiming persecution. He’s claiming censorship. He’s actually asserting that people are judging his movie’s obvious message of intolerance unfairly – the same one-sided message, mind you, that’s sanctioned violence and abuse against gays – not to mention women, minorities and those with differing religious views – for centuries.

      Poor guy. It’s as if Donald Sterling made a movie “innocently” asking all his fellow racists why it’s so wrong to not want black people to come anywhere near his car. It’s like an Egyptian pharaoh complaining that his slaves are saying mean things about him on Instagram.

      Note to Jim Daly – you are free to make any kind of movie you like, asking any kind of questions you want. Show it to your friends. Post it on YouTube. But try to release such an obviously homophobic hit piece out into the public sphere, and a backlash is completely appropriate, and well deserved.

      And one more thing, Jim: How dare you. How f—king dare you try and appropriate the language and cultural position of those who’ve been repressed, silenced, beaten and killed for centuries, simply for wishing to openly embrace – and even marry – the person they love, when it’s groups exactly like yours that have done the oppressing.

      How dare you suggest the fault for many of the world’s ills lies with those millions of humans who refuse to obey your pseudo-traditional, one man/one woman, “God’s law” Christian family dictum, the same dictum that’s proven a near-complete failure in your very own country. Have you no shame? Does your God?


      North Korea unleashes racist slurs against Obama

      By HYUNG-JIN KIM, Friday 09 May 2014, Associate Press

      SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — After bombarding South Korea's female president with sexist invectives, North Korea's state news agency has fired off racist insults against President Barack Obama that U.S. officials condemn as "disgusting."

      North Korea is notorious for inflammatory, warlike rhetoric against its rivals South Korea and the U.S. but had rarely used racial slurs in its verbal attacks. Pyongyang's tone has grown angrier in recent weeks as it threatens to conduct a fourth nuclear test.

      In a lengthy May 2 dispatch released only in Korean, Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency published comments from a factory worker who said Obama has the "shape of a monkey" and made many other crude insults.

      "It would be better for him to live with other monkeys at a wild animal park in Africa ... and licking bread crumbs thrown by onlookers," worker Kang Hyok at Chollima Steel Complex was quoted as saying.

      Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, said Thursday that the North Korean dispatch was "offensive and ridiculous and absurd."

      "I don't know how many words I can use up here to describe the rhetoric ... It's disgusting," she told reporters at the Foreign Press Center in Washington.

      Yoo Ho-yeol, professor of North Korea studies at Korea University in South Korea, said North Korea is trying to get attention by publishing such comments through its state-run news agency. But he added that it tried to distance the government from the remarks by attributing them to a citizen.

      "If it was to publish such a report in the voice of the authorities it would entrap them, whereas reporting the story under some ordinary citizen's name will give them leeway," Yoo said.

      The North's rhetoric against Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-hye intensified after they held a summit in Seoul late last month. During his visit, Obama said at a joint news conference with Park that it may be time to consider further sanctions against North Korea, and that the U.S. will not hesitate to use its military might to defend its allies.

      Recent state media dispatches criticizing Park are full of sexist tirades such as "old prostitute coquetting with outside force."


      Associated Press writer Jung-yoon Choi contributed to this report.

      10,251+  comments posted.  Here's one from Vance ---
      Let's not kid ourselves, my fellow Americans, these comments are on par w/ what is said in the good ol' USA every day. I hear this same (crud) and worse from practically every #$%$, t-cracker, hate radio host and wingnut anytime they think they have something to say politically. In the same vein as the DPRK, the GOP itself doesn't go to the racial extremes, but finds these types of comments very useful in their non-stop propaganda campaign. i.e. Boehner saying it was not his job to disabuse the (after) birthers of their nonsense, etc. America, don't bother to point out the splinter in your brothers eye when you have a beam in your own. Thought I'd throw in a little Bible teaching since I run into so many self-described "good Christians" who within a few minutes of the conversation turning political, call the President everything but a child of God and then proceed to slander and give false witness by repeating lies they have no way of knowing their veracity or even their source. BTW- I wear your far right wing anti-American comments to my posts as a badge of honor and certitude. God Bless America.

      These are the 'essential skills' needed to be an Obama ambassadonor

      By Olivier Knox, Yahoo News, Thursday 08 May 2014,Yahoo News
      They might not speak a relevant foreign language or have any diplomatic experience, but big donors to President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign have “essential skills” qualifying them for ambassador jobs, according to State Department documents obtained by Yahoo News.

      The assertions can be found in documents dubbed “Certificates of Competency,” which the administration is required by law to produce to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for each ambassadorial nominee. The documents have not been made public.

      Earlier this year, three of Obama’s “ambassadonor” picks raised eyebrows in their confirmation hearing testimony. Real estate investor George Tsunis, nominated to be envoy to Norway, did not seem to know what kind of government that country has and attempted to bluff his way through questions about anti-immigration sentiment there. Soap opera producer Colleen Bell, tapped to go to Hungary, could not list any of America’s strategic interests there. Consultant Noah Bryson Mamet admitted he had never been to Argentina.

      But each “will bring essential skills” to the job of chief U.S. diplomat, according to their certificates, which were obtained by Yahoo News.

      Big donors or prominent political figures can make fine American diplomats. Caroline Kennedy has won strong reviews as ambassador to Japan. Charles Rivkin went from ambassador to France to assistant secretary of state for economic and business affairs, a post to which he won Senate confirmation in a 92-6 vote.

      In Mamet’s defense, it’s not unusual for career diplomats to never have been to the country to which they are posted, though they usually possess strong regional credentials.

      Moreover, the practice of naming big donors to prominent ambassadorial posts did not start with Obama — nor will it end with him.

      In recent history, presidents have largely stuck to a 70-30 ratio of career diplomats to political appointees, according to data compiled by the American Foreign Service Association. In his first term, Obama nominated 63 percent career to 37 percent political. His second term so far shows nominees running at 51.2 percent to 48.8 percent.

      But Tsunis, Bell and Mamet drew fire because they appeared to have been picked only because they bundled up vast quantities of cash to get Obama back in the White House.

      Their “Certificates of Competency” are unlikely to douse that fire.

      Tsunis is the founder, chairman and CEO of Chartwell Hotels, which runs hotels in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic States. “He is known for his legal and business acumen — particularly relating to land use and zoning, real estate, corporate law, municipal law, and commercial litigation — and strong commitment to public service.”

      “A talented leader and experienced negotiator, Mr. Tsunis will bring essential skills to the task of furthering bilateral relations with the Government of Norway, a key U.S. ally in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization,” it says.

      The certificate notes that Tsunis serves as a trustee of the Brookings Institution Foreign Policy Group — but that appears to be an error. Tsunis himself testified that he serves on the organization’s Foreign Policy Leadership Committee, whose members “provide financial support” and receive semiannual briefings from the institution’s members.

      The last line in Tsunis’ certificate underlines that he “speaks conversational Greek.”

      Bell “has a strong history of accomplishment in the television industry,” her certificate says.

      “Known for her successful leadership in high-profile and influential social service, environmental and arts organizations, she has a wealth of experience in a wide range of fields from the economy, human rights and climate change to foreign policy, public health and education,” it says. And Bell “will bring essential skills to the task of furthering bilateral relations with the Government of Hungary.”

      Her arts resume is truly impressive. But a “wealth of experience” in “foreign policy”? The only seemingly relevant entry is her membership in the “Los Angeles Leadership Council and Global Leadership Council of the Natural Resources Defense Council” since 2004.

      “She speaks conversational Spanish.”

      Mamet’s consulting company “works closely with a number of the nation’s leading business and philanthropic leaders.”

      “He is known for his management expertise and talented leadership in both the private and public spheres, his knowledge of pressing international issues and his experience working closely with top U.S. officials over the past two decades.”

      Mamet’s certificate lists nine campaign or fundraising posts and notes that he served as an election monitor for the National Democratic Institute in Sierra Leone in 1997, when he would have been about 26.

      And, you guessed it, he “will bring essential skills to the task of managing bilateral relations with the Government of Argentina.’

      But Mamet, at least, “speaks conversational Spanish.”

      Click on the URL to read George Tsunis's Certificate of Competency. (State Department document, obtained by Yahoo News)
      and to read some of the 2,168 comments. 
      My comment ---
      This shows that Obama is out of touch and has lost his way.
      The Republicans are worse.

      Cecily McMillan's Verdict Shows Our Acceptance of Police Violence

      By Molly Knefel, Guardian UK

      06 May 2014

      The hyper-selective retelling of events mirrors the popular narrative of Occupy Wall Street – and how one woman may serve seven years while the NYPD goes free

      The verdict in the biggest Occupy related criminal case in New York City, that of Cecily McMillan, came down Monday afternoon. As disturbing as it is that she was found guilty of felony assault against Officer Grantley Bovell, the circumstances of her trial reflect an even more disturbing reality – that of normalized police violence, disproportionately punitive sentences (McMillan faces seven years in prison), and a criminal penal system based on anything but justice. While this is nothing new for the over-policed communities of New York City, what happened to McMillan reveals just how powerful and unrestrained a massive police force can be in fighting back against the very people with whom it is charged to protect.

      McMillan was one of roughly 70 protesters arrested on March 17, 2012. She and hundreds of other activists, along with journalists like me, had gathered in Zuccotti Park to mark the six-month anniversary of the start of Occupy Wall Street. It was four months after the New York Police Department had evicted the Occupy encampment from the park in a mass of violent arrests.

      When the police moved in to the park that night, in formation and with batons, to arrest a massive number of nonviolent protesters, the chaos was terrifying. Bovell claimed that McMillan elbowed him in the face as he attempted to arrest her, and McMillan and her defense team claim that Bovell grabbed her right breast from behind, causing her to instinctively react.

      But the jury didn't hear anything about the police violence that took place in Zuccotti Park that night. They didn't hear about what happened there on November 15, 2011, when the park was first cleared. The violence experienced by Occupy protesters throughout its entirety was excluded from the courtroom. The narrative that the jury did hear was tightly controlled by what the judge allowed – and Judge Ronald Zweibel consistently ruled that any larger context of what was happening around McMillan at the time of the arrest (let alone Bovell's own history of violence) was irrelevant to the scope of the trial.

      In the trial, physical evidence was considered suspect but the testimony of the police was cast as infallible. Despite photographs of her bruised body, including her right breast, the prosecution cast doubt upon McMillan's allegations of being injured by the police – all while Officer Bovell repeatedly identified the wrong eye when testifying as to how McMillan injured him. And not only was Officer Bovell's documented history of violent behavior deemed irrelevant by the judge, but so were the allegations of his violent behavior that very same night.

      To the jury, the hundreds of police batons, helmets, fists, and flex cuffs out on March 17 were invisible – rendering McMillan's elbow the most powerful weapon on display in Zuccotti that night, at least insofar as the jury was concerned.

      That hyper-selective retelling of events to the jury mirrored the broader popular narrative of OWS. The breathtaking violence displayed by the NYPD throughout Occupy Wall Street has not only been normalized, but entirely justified – so much so that it doesn't even bear mentioning.

      After the police cleared the park that night, many of the remaining protesters went on a spontaneous march, during which a group of officers slammed a street medic's head into a glass door so hard the glass splintered. It is the only instance of which I know throughout New York City's Occupy movement where a window was broken.

      Still, it is the protesters who are remembered as destructive and chaotic. It is Cecily McMillan who went on trial for assault but not Bovell or any of his colleagues – despite the thousands of photographs and videos providing irrefutable evidence that protesters, journalists and legal observers alike were shoved, punched, kicked, tackled, and beaten over the head. That mindset was on display during the jury selection process at McMillan's trial, when juror after juror had to be dismissed because of outright bias against the Occupy movement and any of its participants.

      It's impossible to understand the whole story by just looking at it one picture, even if it's McMillan's of her injuries. But that is exactly what the jury in McMillan's case was asked to do. They were presented a close up of Cecily McMillan's elbow, but not of Bovell, and asked to determine who was violent. The prosecutors and the judge prohibited them from zooming out.

      This is, of course, how police brutality is presented to the public every day, if it is presented it at all: an angry cop here, a controversial protester here, a police commissioner who says the violence of the NYPD is "old news". It's why #myNYPD shocked enough people to make the papers – because it wasn't one bruised or broken civilian body or one cop with a documented history of violence. Instead, it was one after another after another, a collage that presented a more comprehensive picture – one of exceptionally unexceptional violence that most of America has already accepted.