Friday, August 31, 2012

California Lottery now publishing surveillance photos of "apparent" lottery winners

Their excuse for publishing the image of the man they think has a $52 million lottery ticket:
"We see this as an integrity and transparency issue," said Russ Lopez, California Lottery Deputy Director of Corporate Communications, in a statement. “The California Lottery truly believes that when a person buys a lottery ticket with the hope and prayer of changing their lives, we should do all we can to connect them with their winnings. We believe this effort will make a lot of Californians very happy.”
Gosh, it's swell of the California Lottery to let what's-his-face know, in the most invasive and hamfisted way possible, that he's a winner — except that he already knows that, as lottery officials have also alerted the media to the fact that the winning ticket holder has evidently checked his ticket several times at various machines.
     What's really happening isn't a "transparency issue," obviously, but a quasi-government agency employing tabloid journalism tactics to further publicize and promote its ultra-long-shot gambling product, which Warren Buffett once called "a tax on the stupid."
     So know this if you buy a winning lottery ticket in California: You may wish to remain anonymous while getting your affairs in order and consulting with attorneys (and perhaps having an attorney claim the ticket for your trust so that every grasping friend and relative and burglar and stalker and grifter won't come after you) but the California Lottery may decide to veto your sensible choice and release security camera footage of you to the entire world, as if you were a bank robber.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

In The Family begins its US run

The film was rejected by 30 film festivals before being exhibited at the 2012 San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival (SFIAAFF). It opens in Chicago this weekend and will be shown across the country through December. Roger Ebert: liked it:
I was completely absorbed from beginning to end. What a courageous first feature this is, a film that sidesteps shopworn stereotypes and tells a quiet, firm, deeply humanist story about doing the right thing. It is a film that avoids any message or statement and simply shows us, with infinite sympathy, how the life of a completely original character can help us lead our own.

Your patent office at work: exclusive Apple rights for rectangular, rounded-corner phones and a 20-year 2009 gout drug patent to URL Pharma for a pre-1938 drug

If you thought it was outrageous that Apple was given, and able to enforce against Samsung, a design patent for rectangular phones with rounded corners, there is more depressing news in today's Omaha World-Herald, as reported by Rick Ruggles.
     Gout, perhaps the most painful chronic disease, afflicts at least 3 million Americans, and is treated with colchicine, a drug so old it was grandfathered in under a 1938 law requiring new drugs to be evaluated by the FDA. In 2009 the FDA awarded URL Pharma three years of market exclusivity for Colcrys (colchicine). But in the same year the patent office gave URL a 20-year patent. The drug now costs fifty times more than it used to, going from ten cents to five dollars per pill.

U of Texas finds no scientific misconduct in Regnerus gay parenting study; board member/investigator at journal that published study: 'It's bullshit'

Mark Regnerus
Ralph K.M. Harwitz reports that Robert A. Peterson, a University of Texas research integrity officer in the Office of the Vice President for Research, found no falsification of data, plagiarism or other serious ethical breaches constituting scientific misconduct after consulting with a four-member advisory panel of senior UT faculty members.
However, Peterson said the question of whether Regnerus' study has serious flaws is one best left to debate among scholars, future research and an expected release by Regnerus of the data underlying his research. He went on to cite university policy that says "ordinary errors, good faith differences in interpretations or judgments of data, scholarly or political disagreements, good faith personal or professional opinions, or private moral or ethical behavior or views are not misconduct."
     ...An internal draft audit by Social Science Research, the journal that published the study, found "serious flaws" in the peer review process and concluded that the journal never should have published his report.
     The allegations of scientific misconduct were leveled by freelance writer Scott Rosensweig, who uses the byline Scott Rose, in a letter to UT President Bill Powers. That prompted the university's inquiry....
     ...Rosensweig disputed UT's review, contending that some peer reviewers of Regnerus' study were also paid study consultants, "a most serious matter."
Princeton Professor Robert George, founder of the
National Organization for Marriage and board member
of the Family Research Council, also has positions of
authority in the Bradley Foundation, which gave a known
minimum grant of $90,000 for the Regnerus study, and the
Witherspoon Institute, which gave a known minimum
$55,000 "planning grant." Full funding for the study
was $785,000. The questionable study has been jumped
on by right-wing political organizations like NOM, and
may have been concocted as a 2012 political tool, to be
touted in states with Marriage Equality votes.
If so, IRS regulations were violated.
Yesterday, Scott Rosensweig, of the New Civil Rights Movement, published a blistering indictment of the study:
...a Golinski-case amicus brief analyzing the Regnerus study as scientifically invalid was jointly filed by 1) the American Psychological Association; 2) the California Psychological Association; 3) the American Psychiatric Association; 4) the National Association of Social Workers; and 5) its California Chapter; 6) the American Medical Association; 7) the American Academy of Pediatrics; and 8) the American Psychoanalytic Association.
     ...Separately, over 200 Ph.D.s and M.D.s sent a letter to the journal Social Science Research, which published the fraudulent Regnerus study, complaining of its lack of intellectual integrity and its suspiciously rushed publication schedule.
 In July, Tom Bartlett, of The Chronicle of Higher Education, wrote:
Like Regnerus, the editor of Social Science Research, James D. Wright, has been at the receiving end of an outpouring of anger over the paper. At the suggestion of another scholar, Wright, a professor of sociology at the University of Central Florida, assigned a member of the journal’s editorial board—Darren E. Sherkat, a professor of sociology at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale—to examine how the paper was handled.
     Sherkat was given access to all the reviews and correspondence connected with the paper, and was told the identities of the reviewers. According to Sherkat, Regnerus’s paper should never have been published. His assessment of it, in an interview, was concise: “It’s bullshit,” he said.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Continental (now part of United) accused of deliberately humiliating gay couple

The incident allegedly happened on May 21, 2011, as Bridgeman and Borger were returning from a vacation in Costa Rica. The men — who have been together for almost nine years — were flying back to Norfolk on Continental with a 90-minute layover at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston. (Continental merged with United in 2010.)
     Once they landed in Houston, the men collected their checked bags, went through customs, rechecked their luggage and boarded their flight to Virginia without incident.
     But when they arrived in Norfolk and went to the baggage claim area, the couple discovered a sex toy had been taken from one of their bags, covered in a “greasy foul-smelling substance” and “taped prominently” to the top of the bag, according to the lawsuit.
Tangentially related: a testimonial from another dissatisfied Continental customer...

Deaf Nebraska 3-year-old's hands run afoul of weapons policy of Grand Island 'educators'

The three-year-old's parents say teachers insisted that the kid change the way he signs his name. The school denies it. The conflict has blown up on the Internet, and may illustrate a side issue: American Sign Language vs. Sign Exact English.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Apple wants these phones pulled from US stores and banned: Galaxy S 4G, Galaxy S2, Galaxy S2 Skyrocket, Galaxy S2 Epic 4G, Galaxy S Showcase, Droid Charge, Galaxy Prevail

USA Today reports that on the heels of Apple's big US patent suit victory against Samsung, in which the Korean firm was found, among other things, to infringe Apple's inexplicably-issued design patent on rectangular phones with rounded corners(!), the iPhone maker wants the following phones pulled from shelves and banned in the USA: Samsung's Galaxy S 4G, Galaxy S2 (AT&T), Galaxy S2 Skyrocket, Galaxy S2 (T-Mobile), Galaxy S2 Epic 4G, Galaxy S Showcase, Droid Charge and Galaxy Prevail.
     In other news, AKSARBENT is filing for a patent on a slow-loading blog filled with erratic hyphenation, headline typos, runon sentences, inconsistent capitalization, alien grammar and dead links. When granted, AKSARBENT expects to quickly become wealthy enough through infringement lawsuits to buy Robin Williams' fabulous Napa estate.

South Carolina GOP AG Alan Wilson targets student voters for disenfranchisement: student IDs not proof of residency but military IDs are

During a break in a federal trial over whether a law he supports violates the Voting Rights Act, South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson...
...defended its provision that allows voters to use things like military identification and passports to cast a ballot but bans them from using student IDs. Wilson said the reason was that students were largely “transient” and a school identification card “doesn’t prove you’re a resident.” He said voters using passports and military IDs, even those with out-of-state addresses, were known to be residents of the state because they were registered to vote in the state.
     When TPM pointed out that college students who had out-of-state licenses were in the same situation, another attorney on South Carolina’s team jumped in to contradict Wilson, insisting the state law was about proving identity rather than residency.
     After that line of questioning, Wilson said he wouldn’t be speaking with reporters about the case until closing arguments on Friday.

Pope's choice to preside over 500,000 San Francisco Catholics, Salvatore Cordileone, is taken into police custody in San Diego

It was drunk driving. He should have let his mom drive; she was with him. Ronnie Cohen of Reuters notes:
Cordileone has been particularly outspoken in church opposition to same-sex matrimony as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, a role that has put him at odds with many Catholics in the largely gay-friendly Bay area.
     He also led church support for the 2008 voter-approved California state constitutional amendment, Proposition 8, that banned gay marriage.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Live webcast today at Noon (CST) of Des Moines Town Hall meeting on Iowa's marriage law and keeping Iowa's judiciary fair and independent

Here's the announcement from OneIowa, a cosponsor with Lambda Legal. If you don't live in Des Moines, you can watch (12-1 pm, CST) on the Internet here and you can tweet questions to the panel at #WhyMarriageMattersIA

(Des Moines, IA)—Today, August 27th, join One Iowa, Lambda Legal and Zach Wahls for a Town Hall discussion on Iowa’s marriage law, why marriage matters, and the importance of Iowa's fair and impartial judicial system.

Monday, August 27
Town Hall Hosted by One Iowa and Lambda Legal
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Drake University in the Drake Legal Clinic
Located at 24th Street and University Avenue, Des Moines
A light lunch will be provided at 11:30
RSVP requested

Featured Speakers:
Sharon Malheiro, Founder and Board Chair, One Iowa
Jim Bennett, Midwest Regional Director, Lambda Legal
Donna Red Wing, Executive Director, One Iowa
Zach Wahls, LGBT Advocate and YouTube sensation

Tweet your live questions directly to our panelists at #WhyMarriageMattersIA

Can’t make it to Des Moines? Click here to RSVP for the Virtual Town Hall event :

In 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision in Lambda Legal’s lawsuit Varnum v. Brien striking down Iowa’s marriage ban and extending the freedom to marry to gay and lesbian couples. Since then, gay and lesbian couples in Iowa have been able to legally wed.

In response, well-funded anti-equality groups launched an outright attack on Iowa’s courts and the freedom to marry, resulting in the ousting of three well-respected Iowa Supreme Court justices during a retention election. This mean-spirited campaign was designed to intimidate judges in Iowa and across the nation and fuel a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the judiciary in our democracy.

Join One Iowa, Lambda Legal and Zach Wahls for a Town Hall event to discuss the importance of fair and impartial courts, and why marriage matters to gay and lesbian couples in Iowa.

Who will profit from 2012's severe drought?

Corn In Drought, 7/28/2012. Photo: Theresa L. Wysocki, via Flickr
USA Today quotes Evan Smith of U.S. Global's Global Resources Fund.
With grain prices high and inventory low, farmers will aggressively plant next year to profit, he says. Monsanto, which has already seen its shares rise 22% this year following a busy planting season in 2012, will benefit again, Smith says. Meanwhile, fertilizer makers CF Industries and Potash are likely to see strong demand in 2013 as farmers look to boost their yields when they replant, Smith says. Shares of CF are up 43% this year; Potash's are flat.
     "Prices are going up all over the world," says DLS' Steinberg. "Nothing ends up being benign."

Bill Nye: Creationism is not appropriate for children

This is a good week for Atheists. Bill Nye's blast of Creationism is a top-trending YouTube video, and Playboy has a nice long interview with Richard Dawkins:
PLAYBOY: But you hear quite often that if you let atheists run things you end up with Hitler and Stalin.
DAWKINS: Hitler wasn’t an atheist; he was a Roman Catholic. But I don’t care what he was. There is no logical connection between atheism and doing bad things, nor good things for that matter. It’s a philosophical belief about the absence of a creative intelligence in the world. Anybody who thinks you need religion in order to be good is being good for the wrong reason. I’d rather be good for moral reasons. Morals were here before religion, and morals change rather rapidly in spite of religion. Even people who rely on the Bible use nonbiblical criteria. If your criteria are scriptural, you have no basis for choosing the verse that says turn the other cheek rather than the verse that says stone people to death. So you pick and choose without guidance from the Bible.

Esquire magazine still clueless about the Tammy Wynette / Hillary Clinton comparison

Esquire's September edition has the following sidebar, on page 110, to the piece by Stephen Marche entitled "The Contempt of Women."
...Hillary [Clinton] refused to be Tammy, and for refusing to be Tammy, to be the half-smiling, long-suffering wife, she was villified..."
     This half-baked, half-truth refers to Hillary Clinton's famous response to questions about her mate's philandering in a 60 Minutes interview during her husband's first presidential campaign.
You know, I'm not sitting here like some little woman standing by my man, like Tammy Wynette. I'm sitting here because I love him, and I respect him, and I honor what he's been through and what we've been through together. And you know, if that's not enough for people, then heck, don't vote for him.
     Naturally Hillary ended up publicly apologizing to Tammy Wynette, which probably wouldn't have been necessary if Clinton had ever listened to Wynette's incomparable classic, because, in that case, she probably wouldn't have cast such an ignorantly shallow aspersion.
     What Esquire still hasn't figured out, even after 20 years, is that Hillary Clinton actually is more like Tammy Wynette than Wynette ever was. Hillary, in fact did stand by her man. Wynette, who married five times, did not hesitate to get rid of a bum.
     Below: a great song has a life of its own, and Stand By Your Man will certainly outlast Hillary Clinton, to say nothing of this month's edition of Esquire... (Note: Wynette was alive when this never-aired ad was made. If she still had the rights to her biggest hit at that time, then she had to have approved its commercial use here, which doesn't surprise AKSARBENT, because Wynette, like Dolly Parton (and unlike Loretta Lynn), got a big kick out of her gay fans and supported them. Which makes us like her even more.)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Onion: Romney pulling out all the stops in order to keep elderly alive until election

Charlie Crist endorses — Obama?

Yup, the craven ex-GOP opportunist pulled a flip-flopping Romney right there in the pages of today's Tampa Bay Times:

...As Republicans gather in Tampa to nominate Mitt Romney, Americans can expect to hear tales of how President Obama has failed to work with their party or turn the economy around.
      But an element of their party has pitched so far to the extreme right on issues important to women, immigrants, seniors and students that they've proven incapable of governing for the people. Look no further than the inclusion of the Akin amendment in the Republican Party platform, which bans abortion, even for rape victims.
      The truth is that the party has failed to demonstrate the kind of leadership or seriousness voters deserve.
     ...President Obama has a strong record of doing what is best for America and Florida, and he built it by spending more time worrying about what his decisions would mean for the people than for his political fortunes. That's what makes him the right leader for our times, and that's why I'm proud to stand with him today.
(Via Politico)

Robin Williams' jaw-dropping 600-acre Napa estate is for sale — $35,000,000 and worth it

Mrs. Doubtfire our ass. Take the complete photo tour and by all means hit the full-screen button.

Here's the somewhat overwrought description:

Villa Sorriso sits majestically atop the Mayacama Mountains between Napa and Sonoma Valleys. Portuguese limestone envelopes close to twenty thousand square feet of luxurious living space, including five bedrooms, an oak-paneled library, state of the art home theater, family room, elevator, safe rooms, climate-controlled cellars for art as well as wine, and of course your very own tower and bridge. With summer lasting six months in wine country, you'll be grateful for the sixty-five foot infinity-edge swimming pool. Surrounded by antique European stone decking, a lawn and multi-tiered sculpture garden, this is an area that promises legendary outdoor events.
     Italianate and elegant, this is nonetheless, a true country estate because of the beauty and bounty of the land. Covering approximately six hundred and fifty-three acres in six parcels that also border a state park, this is a wild expanse with towering trees, rushing winter creeks and vast views. This is a pristine property within eighty minutes of the Golden Gate Bridge – a wilderness so convenient, yet so wild and haunting, that it summons even the softest city dweller.
     There are trails to blaze and ridges to ride, picnic spots to discover and lookout points to climb. You can fish in your spring-fed pond and round up your own cattle. And because this land borders Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, there are thousands more acres to explore. You could also have a herd of mustangs, or just a few purebreds.  With a seven-stall horse barn, you'll always have your own mount.
     The vineyard, ranch and house are cared for by an on-site manager, so that all you have to do is dwell in your delightful domain.
Architects: David Gast & Associates
Builder: Brian Nuss Construction
Landscape Architecture: Lutsko Associates
Landscape Installation: Landscape Innovations
Exterior Railings: Jim Austin, Alchemy Metalworks
Stone Carving: Gilham Erickson
Stone Work: Lanfhoff Masonary
Bronze Staircase Railing: Michael Bondi
Glass Art: Peter Mangan
Tile Mosaics: Max Beltrame
Tile: Sonoma Valley Tile
Inlaid Wood: Rick Wrigley
Mahogany Doors: Liberty Valley Doors
Plasterer: Honeycutt Plastering

Materials & Features
Portuguese Limestone exterior walls, sills and lintels
Copper gutters and downspouts
Venetian plaster on main and second floors
All trim paint is either milk or citrus-based
Reclaimed oak paneling and floors in library
Alder paneling in theater
His & her changing rooms for the pool have Jerusalem limestone floors
Radiant heat throughout, 28 zones
Air Conditioning throughout
Smart house by Crestron
3 Kevlar wrapped, safe rooms

Section of nine-month-old Chinese bridge collapses

A 330-foot-span of the 9.6 mile Yangmingtan Bridge over the Songhua River in Harbin, China collapsed, falling 100 feet and taking with it four trucks. Three died, five were injured.
     Why does this interest AKSARBENT?
     Because Harbin, China is where PolarLand threw an elaborate wedding for two of its gay penguins as a "reward" for exemplary parenting after the zoo stopped them from constantly trying to steal eggs from straight penguin couples by giving them a rare twin from a mother who was having trouble coping with two offspring.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

How much have Prince Harry's antics hurt Britain?
Not as much as those of his brother and his horse trainer/monarch grandmother...

Prince Harry passed out on Sir Richard Branson's
private island, Necker, days before his Vegas trip.
There has been a great deal of discussion about the damage that Harry's dissolute (but private) behavior may have done to Great Britain following his $50,000 sojourn in a VIP Las Vegas suite.
     (The Daily Mail says Harry is said to be ‘terrified’ that even more incriminating photos will emerge of an ‘even wilder’ week in the British Virgin Islands on Sir Richard Branson’s private island days earlier. Some of those have already been leaked to a newspaper. Harry has already shut down his "Spike Wells" facebook page.)
     Some perspective on "damage" is in order.
     When Harry's brother, William, and what's-her-name were married on Arbor Day, the last Friday in April, the hit to the British economy was ELEVEN BILLION POUNDS.
     Well, the British Confederation of Industry reckons that each national holiday costs the economy about 6 billion pounds.
     But there was more.
Elizabeth Alexandra Mary
pictured before acquiring the
power and influence to inflict
multi-billion-pound damage
to the British economy.
     Because Her Economically Reckless Majesty proclaimed a nonweekend day between the official Easter holiday and the May bank holiday to be another national holiday, as many as six million Britons may have taken advantage of an opportunity to take an 11-day vacation using only three vacation days. The result of that would have been an economy-wide productivity slowdown in the final two weeks of the month, cutting £5 billion or more from GDP for the quarter.
     Estimates of the sales and tourism boost to the British economy due to the Royal wedding were considerably less than a billion pounds. Quite a deficit incurred by an already extraordinarily privileged collection of aristocrats.
     Last June 5th, Queen Elizabeth declared another, extra bank holiday to accommodate a national party to celebrate the 50th year of her clinging to the #1 spot of the monarchy, which presumabaly cost the economy another six billion pounds, less a few hundred million pounds of tourism dollars and some souvenir revenue, of which most of the latter undoubtedly went to China.
     Just saying.

Fox News is helping al-Quaida assassins find Navy Seal on mission that killed Bin Laden

The president of Fox News, Roger Ailes, who installed
bombproof glass in his NYC offices to protect him from gay
activists, has allowed his network to publish the name of one
of the Navy Seals who got to Bin Laden, thereby recklessly
endangering his life.
NBC now reports death threats against the previously-anonymous Navy Seal who has written, under a pseudonym, a book about Seal Team Six's killing of Osama Bin Laden.
     The "Al-Fidaa" web forum, which al-Qaida uses to distribute its media and public communications, is already publishing assasination threats said Evan Kohlmann, an NBC News consultant and a terrorism analyst at Flashpoint Partners, a global security firm.
      From NBC:
Fox News Fox News on Thursday identified the author of the book, which is titled "No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden," as a 36-year-old former SEAL from XXXXXXXXX, Alaska. The Associated Press later said it had confirmed the author’s identity. (NBC News is not identifying the former SEAL.)

Aftermath of alleged Charlie Rogers hate crime hoax

Ken at Progressive Oasis was quiet during the investigation of the Charlie Rogers imbroglio, but has had some interesting things to say recently on his blog.
There were other things going on that raised red flags for me. The establishment of a separate fund that was presumably to be for Charlie’s medical bills.  Two board members of Forward Equality, including myself, very early on, were ordered to not speak out and to not ask local officials to speak out on the issue.  That didn’t stop Jim Suttle or Ben Gray from speaking at the Omaha vigil.  Forward Equality was never part of the circle receiving information from the LPD anyway.  If the Lincoln groups knew something and wanted to keep Forward Equality away from it, why did they not do the same with the groups holding the fundraisers, why not tell them to stop? ...
     Also, about a couple of weeks ago, I was told that a friend of Charlie’s, maybe even the neighbor, was ordered by Charlie’s counsel not to speak to any media about the situation or they would be sued. Even though she already spoke about the initial events in the case to members of the local media...

Neil Armstrong, first man on moon, dead at 82

Walter Cronkite once said that in 500 years the most famous man of the 20th century would be Neil Armstrong and he was probably right, as Cronkite usually had impeccable news judgement (except for the day that Elvis died, when Uncle Walter led with a tax story, causing CBS to be spanked in the ratings as millions of Americans switched to NBC and ABC.)

Mormon Church to ban NBC gay-themed sitcom, The New Normal, from its publicly-licensed airwaves in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Arizona and Nevada

Andrew Rannells, Tony-nominated for the Broadway smash
Book of Mormon, stars in The New Normal and grew up in Omaha.

Update: "We will air it on the weekends" on Channel 30, said Matt Jacquint, general manager of KUCW (Salt Lake City's ABC affiliate) and KTVX (Ogden's CW affiliate). "We’re looking for a time slot right now."

The Hollywood Reporter says Utah station KSL-TV has announced it won't broadcast The New Normal when it premieres this fall. The show depicts a single mother's life as she becomes a surrogate for a gay couple. KSL-TV has also blacked out Saturday Night Live.
Jeff Simpson, graduate of Brigham Young
University, former Boy Scouts of America
board member and CEO of KSL-TV parent
company, LDS-owned Bonneville
International, which axed gay-themed
NBC sitcom from Mormon-controlled
airwaves in 5 states. Photo source
"After viewing the pilot episode of The New Normal, we have made the decision to keep it off our fall schedule," Jeff Simpson, CEO of KSL parent company Bonneville International, told Deseret News. "For our brand, this program simply feels inappropriate on several dimensions, especially during family viewing time.”
     "Crude dialogue, explicit content and offensive characterizations" were the main reasons why KSL-TV would not bring New Normal to air when it launches Sept. 11. The same station opted not to broadcast the shortlived NBC drama The Playboy Club, which was canceled after three episodes last fall.
      Meanwhile, co-star Ellen Barkin -- who plays an often racist and homophobic character on the comedy -- took to Twitter to call out KSL-TV's decision...
     "Anyone in Utah interested in @NBCTheNewNormal please clog up @ksl5tv feed 4 their blatantly homophic decision 2 not air the show #KSLBigots," she wrote. Another tweet read: "Shame on u ‪@kslcom‬ not airing ‪@NBCTheNewNormal‬ So L&O SVU (rape & child murder) is ok? But loving gay couple having a baby is inappropriate?"
From Wikipedia: KSL-TV is an NBC-affiliated television station located in Salt Lake City, Utah, owned by Bonneville International Corporation, which is in turn owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). KSL-TV has a large network of rebroadcast transmitters which extends its coverage throughout Utah, as well as portions of Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, and Wyoming.

Apple wins billion-dollar patent infringement judgement against Samsung; 2.5 billion was sought

Deliberations were unexpectedly swift; The jury found infringement in six of seven contested patents and in five, willful infringement.

Said Samsung:
Today's verdict should not be viewed as a win for Apple, but as a loss for the American consumer. It will lead to fewer choices, less innovation and potentially higher prices. It is unfortunate that patent law can be manipulated to give one company a monopoly over rectangles with rounded corners, or technology that is being improved every day by Samsung and other companies.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Short Takes: Rembrandt lost in the mail; another crude oil pipeline planned through Ogallala Aquifer; Randy Travis arrested again; Michael Jordon's son pleads guilty in Omaha; Israel 'determined to attack Iran before US election'

Plans for another crude oil pipeline to cross Nebraska's Ogallala Aquifer

GOP Platform unwaveringly antigay

Michael Jordan's son pleads guilty to disturbing the peace

Giving in to the Surveillance State

Norway Post Office loses a Rembrandt

Randy Travis has another run-in with the cops. This time he was sober and had his pants on, but was still cited for simple assault

Gawker's Bain Capital document dump: Discovery of "blocker" entities, used to help IRAs avoid taxes, may help explain how Romney has been able to amass between $20.7 million and $101.6 million in a tax-free IRA, many times more than the typical amount an IRA can hold. Here's how IRAs with "blockers" work

Why the Family Research Council is a hate group

NPR: A well-informed military correspondent in Jerusalem reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is "determined" to attack Iran before the U.S. election

For a million bucks, you can be the proud owner of the Florida house where 30s gangster Ma Barker was killed, in one of the biggest shootins in FBI history. Personally, AKSARBENT would rather live in the apartment house in Montevideo where the two gangster boyfriends depicted in Plata Quemada died rather dramatically.

Attempts by billionaire Koch Brothers to defeat Bob Kerrey (and others) get some pushback

Below: Americans for Prosperity, the Koch Brothers Astroturf front group, is supporting Deb Fischer in Nebraska by running attack ads against her opponent, Bob Kerrey like this one, which preposterously implies that Kerrey, who grew up in Nebraska, has businesses here, and served the state as governor and senator, is somehow a carpetbagger — as opposed to the out-of-state Koch Brothers. "Our" state, indeed.

Empire State Bldg. shooting:
8 of 9 bystanders may have been shot by police

Detectives believe that Mr. Johnson had fired five shots at Mr. Ercolino and may have fired one shot at the police officers, the official said. There were two bullets left in the eight-round magazine of his gun so only one shot – the one apparently fired at the officers -- could have possibly hit one of the nine bystanders, the official said.
      One of the officers fired nine times and the other seven times.

Kansas Sec'y of State Kris Kobach compares drug use, polygamy to homosexuality at GOP Platform meeting

Adam Peck of ThinkProgress reports that during a meeting of the Republican National National Convention Platform on Tuesday, Kansas Attorney General Kris Kobach spoke out against an amendment that would have struck down the party’s longstanding support for the Defense of Marriage Act — which outlaws same-sex marriages — by comparing homosexuality with drug use and polygamy.

Ask and you shall receive: Sean Chapin gets the 49ers to make an It Gets Better video

Chapin rallied more than 16,000 people to sign his petition on encouraging the 49ers to make a video.

UK tabloid not cowed by royal threats of legal action; publishes nude Vegas photos of prince; 'Harry has compromised his own privacy'

Despite threats by Prince Charles' royal aides of legal action against British newspapers publishing nude photos of Prince Harry that have already circulated around the word, Rupert Murdoch's British tabloid, The Sun, has now done so anyway. Says The Sun:
...The Royal Family’s lawyers claim there is no public interest in The Sun running the photos. This is a favourite mantra of those who wish to muzzle the world’s most vibrant newspapers, here in Britain — stuffily declaring that a story has “no public interest”, as though it were an unassailable fact.
      But there is a clear public interest in publishing the Harry pictures, in order for the debate around them to be fully informed. The photos have potential implications for the Prince’s image representing Britain around the world.
      There are questions over his security during the Las Vegas holiday. Questions as to whether his position in the Army might be affected.
      Further, we believe Harry has compromised his own privacy.
      These are not pictures of him and a girlfriend at Balmoral. The Prince was in Vegas, the party capital of a country with strong freedom-of-speech laws, frolicking in the pool before inviting strangers to his hotel room for a game of strip billiards.
     Compare that with Prince William and Kate, whose desire for quiet privacy on their honeymoon was respected by the British Press in the kind of arrangement we have readily agreed to with the Royal Family in the past and will doubtless agree to again...

Homophobic comedian Larry the Cable Guy wants to sell you some Prilosec OTC

Hey fags and lezzies! Does my monologue make you sick?
Do I have a product for you!

AstraZeneca, the Swedish/British conglomerate which makes Prilosec OTC, is the fifth-largest pharmaceutical company on the planet but apparently lacks the resources to figure out that for millions of people, Dan Whitney (Larry the Cable Guy) isn't the person who helps relieve heartburn, he's the source of it.
     Oh wait... maybe they do... maybe there's method in this madness.
     Regardless, if you're gay and you suffer from acid reflux, why not try Prevacid 24 Hour, which isn't pitched by a bigoted spokesman who panders to and encourages homophobia?
     Better yet, since proton pump inhibiters like Prilosec and Prevacid interfere with the absorbtion of vitamin B-12, why not try some natural solutions to quell acid reflux?

Evidently, Dan Whitney/Larry The Cable Guy also has a lot of sneering contempt for individuals even lower on the IQ ladder than he himself is; below he takes a gratuitously mean swipe at mentally challenged people while simultaneously nailing his nasty, bigoted self to the cross:
...if I did a joke about an animal righter or railed on Kerry or told a joke about Rosie O'Donnell gettin' kicked in the nuts these same sum-bitches'd be protestin' in the streets cryin' bigot and homophobe and cryin' like a Retard trippin' on marbles!
You can tell AstraZeneca what you think of its new salesman here:
David R Brennan, Chief Executive Officer:
Executive Vice-President North America: 
 Prilosec OTC is distributed by Proctor and Gamble.

Paul Ryan rap spoof:
'I like to keep my ass tight just to frustrate more gays'

This is absolutely, positively NSFW.

National Organization for Marriage's antigay Maryland robocall mouthpiece crashes boat into vessel full of kids while legally drunk

Yesterday, Capt. Jerry Kirkwood of the Maryland National Resources Police said his agency was investigating the incident and as of last night, had not yet tested a blood sample taken from Maryland delegate Dwyer, (R-Anne Arundel) the night of the crash, Wednesday.
Just because someone has been drinking doesn't necessarily mean they were the cause of the accident," Kirkwood said, adding that the agency does not currently have plans to charge Dwyer with operating the boat under the influence because "we don't have any evidence that said he has violated any laws.

     Nine people were injured, four adults and five are children; seven were taken to hospitals including the most seriously injured, a 5-year-old child who was medevaced to Johns Hopkins Pediatric.

     The sole passenger in Dwyer's boat was a male companion, John Edward Moran IV.
     From JoeMyGod:

You may recall that last year Dwyer sat next to Maggie Gallagher during Maryland's marriage equality hearings, telling the committee that any state delegate that testified in favor of the bill should be "arrested for perjury" because saying that gay people deserve equality "is a lie and they know it." During the hearings Dwyer presented documents from the SPLC-certified hate group, MassResistance, claiming that gay activists want to introduce sadomasochism to grade school children. Dwyer also recorded an anti-gay robocall for NOM. 
In Iowa, the National Organization for Marriage is currently contributing $100,000 to evict Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins from the states highest court in an upcoming judicial retention vote because Wiggins concurred with every other Iowa Supreme Court Justice that refusing to allow gay couples to marry in the state violated the constitution.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Video: Seven gymnasts attempt backflip

Iowa State Bar Assn. President: Vander Plaats' scare tactics and misinformation do Iowans tremendous disservice

Guy Cook Update from Iowa State Bar Association on Vimeo.

August 12, 2012

The Iowa State Bar Association responds to misleading information in Family Leader message

The Iowa State Bar Association issued a statement Sunday to correct misinformation contained in a quote by Bob Vander Plaats during a Saturday gathering organized by the Family Leader organization.

Vander Plaats was quoted as saying that the Iowa Supreme Court justices who ruled in the same-sex marriage case in 2009 went “outside of the constitution” and “outside your [their] separation of powers” and “amend [amended] “the constitution from the bench.”

The truth is Justice Wiggins and the other Iowa Supreme Court justices who ruled unanimously in the Varnum decision on same-sex marriage did not “go outside of the constitution.” Iowa’s constitution proclaims that all citizens are to be treated equally. The justices simply applied the equal protection clause of the constitution.
  • The court and Justice Wiggins did not "amend the constitution from the bench." They applied the constitution. The constitution remains the same.
  • Removing more justices will not change the law; only Iowa's legislature can do that by amending the state's constitution.
  • Removing more justices will only serve to weaken our courts and deny individual freedoms and liberty.
“The courts are the final guardians of our freedom and liberty,” said ISBA President Cynthia Moser. “The scare tactics and misinformation being used by Mr. Vander Plaats do all Iowans a tremendous disservice."
Iowans, even those who may disagree with a ruling, should reject efforts to further politicize our courts. Iowa judges should not be politicians who rule in return for votes.
"Bob Vander Plaats’ efforts to politicize justice in Iowa is good for no one, including those who may disagree with a court ruling," added Guy Cook, ISBA president-elect and chair of the association’s Fair and Impartial Courts Committee.
We urge Iowans to become as knowledgeable as possible about Justice Wiggins and the other 73 judges up for retention in order to make an informed decision in the voting booth. Iowa’s courts consistently rank in the top five in the nation for being fair. Iowans have a reputation for being open-minded and fair. It would be a shame to throw away that record and that reputation.

The Iowa State Bar Association is a voluntary organization of more than 8,000 lawyers and judges who are licensed to practice law in the state of Iowa. Oldest of the voluntary bar associations in the country, The ISBA has been in continuous operation since its founding in 1874.

Nebraska Congressman Lee Terry is suddenly concerned about squandering your tax dollars!

Here's what he says on TV in his new campaign ads:

But here's what he does in Congress between elections:

John Ewing: Lee Terry's Vote Adds Another $1 Trillion To The National Debt
Aug. 2, 2012
Omaha, Neb—The easiest way to create economic security for small business owners in Nebraska would have been to support the bill already passed by the U.S. Senate maintaining tax rates for 98% of Americans. By holding the middle class tax cut hostage in order to preserve another tax cut for Congressman Terry's wealthy special interests, Congressman Terry is showing how little he cares about reducing the deficit and bringing down the unemployment rate. 
     "Lee Terry needs to listen to his constituents, Warren Buffet most prominently, when they tell him that the middle class is struggling in this country, but we simply cannot afford another $1 trillion dollars in tax cuts for the most fortunate. As much as he wants to claim this is a small business issue, Congressman Terry is merely seeking another way to line the pockets of special interests that make up 2/3 of his campaign contributions."
     According to the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation, tax cuts for the wealthiest in this country have increased our annual deficits by 12.3% since 2001.

Implosion: Last section of beloved Rosenblatt Stadium, College World Series home from 1950-2010, comes tumbling down

College baseball's field of dreams has been parted out. Many of the multi-colored seats have been sold to fans. The canopies in the parking lot are now in a park. The scoreboard has gone to a high school stadium. The arched "Rosenblatt Stadium" sign formerly atop that scoreboard will be part of a commemorative attraction, "Johnny Rosenblatt's Infield at the Zoo" which will resemble a miniature baseball field to be sited on what was once the infield. The rest of the site will be parking for the Henry Doorly Zoo. Below: the press box is lowered to the ground via an implosion so it can more easily be cut into scrap steel.

Below, Kevin Costner's preservation attempt, which fell on deaf NCAA ears. Rosenblatt was a neighborhod ballpark, not an island in a sea of downtown Omaha concrete, as is TD Ameritrade Park, Rosenblatt's glitzy, soulless and flood prone replacement. (The Blatt was on high ground.)

The new venue:

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Guess who's coming to dinner?
Dan Savage vs. Brian Brown in kitchen table debate

Again the question of civil same-sex marriage descends for extended periods into a bottomless abyss of Christer theology.

Savage at 1:00:15: Lyle Menendez, one of the Menendez brothers, who murdered their parents, is legally married — got married — they'll never consumate this marriage, they will never have children, you will never bring those two halves of humanity together in the Menendez marriage because Lyle Menendez is going to be in prison for the rest of his life without the possibility of parole. Lyle Menendez can marry and that does no harm to marriage, but somehow allowing Terry and I to marry — the parents of that child you had dinner with — is going to do irrevocable harm to the institution of marriage. How?

Supersensitive early detection pancreatic cancer test by 15-year-old outdoes efforts by billion-dollar pharmaceutical companies; NIH rejected his proposal

Jack Andraka, a 15-year-old Maryland student, developed a test using a single-wall carbon nanotube which detects pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer and lung cancer in their early stages when up to a 50% survival rate is possible.
     His test costs three cents and takes five minutes. It is 168 times faster, 26,000 times less expensive and 400 times more sensitive than the current diagnostic standard.
     He sent his proposal to over 200 professors at the National Institutes of Health and Johns Hopkins and got 197 rejection emails and one acceptance — from  Dr. Anirban Maitra, Professor of Pathology, Oncology and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
     Here's video of Andraka accepting the top prize at 2012's ISEF (the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair)

Andraka on how Internet research fueled his invention:
The Internet is invaluable for research because you don't have a college degree in biology or chemistry, you don't really have any of those textbooks. So the Internet offers up that information. So without that, such scientific advances by young people  and getting interested in science would be nearly impossible.

This story brings up another issue: the predatory pricing of publishers of academic journals. Had the information Andraka initially needed been locked up behind a confiscatory paywall, he wouldn't have been able to succeed.
It now appears that the major universities that generate so much of the world’s research (only to buy it back from publishers at huge mark-ups) could be getting ready to fight back.  Harvard University is publicly urging its faculty members to avoid publishing in journals that require paid access, and to publish instead in open access journals.  Open access literature can be defined as works that are digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
A revolt is forming against these companies.

Here's video of another ISEF winner:

(H/T JoeMyGod, Beeblemeyer)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Iowa Rep. Steve King says he never personally heard of a girl getting pregnant from incest or statutory rape

Iowa Rep. Steve King, Iowa's #1 draft-dodging, homophobic Republican, is evidently so eager to run interference for toxic Missouri GOP Representative Todd Akin's "legitimate rape" remark that he actually told an Iowa television reporter Monday that such a circumstance (a child getting pregnant from statutory rape or incest) has never been "brought to me in any personal way.”
     Well! Obviously King's personal experience is far more important than the fact that a 1996 review by the Guttmacher Institute found “at least half of all babies born to minor women are fathered by adult men.”
     On October 23, 2010, the Des Moines Register endorsed Matt Campbell in Iowa's fifth district congressional race, and called Steve King an "embarrassment to the entire state."

Flashback: Heartland Pride President Beth Rigatuso addresses crowd at Vigil Against Violence days after alleged Lincoln, NE hate crime hoax by Charlie Rogers

"I actually... this morning, had the profound privilege of meeting Charlie. I got to sit in the same room as she trusted for us to be there to share her story with the news. And I have to tell you, this is real. She is very real."
Star City Pride, PFLAG Cornhusker, UNL’s LGBTQA Resource Center, and Outlinc have released a joint statement. Heartland Pride evidently did not sign on to the statement.

From the Lincoln Police Department arrest warrant alleging that Charlie Rogers filed a false police report about being the victim of a hate crime:
After several days into the investigation, Your Affiant received information from the FBI that sometime prior to July 22, 2012, Ms. Rogers had sent a photo to a friend of a cross that had been cut into Ms. Rogers's chest. This cross was smaller but in the same general location as the cross that had been cut into her chest during this event of July 22, 2012. When questioned about this Ms. Rogers reported that her father had cut the cross into her chest, but she had not reported it to the police. Ms. Rogers's father was questioned and denied the allegations made by his daughter.

Arrest of gay Lincoln, NE woman, Charlie Rogers in alleged hate crime hoax: Nebraska gay organizations issue joint statement

Star City Pride, PFLAG Cornhusker, UNL’s LGBTQA Resource Center, and Outlinc have released the following joint statement:
Over the past few weeks, law enforcement has been very forthcoming in providing information to leaders of Lincoln's gay and transgender community. They recently discussed with our organizations the evidence and corresponding analysis in this case. We appreciate their openness during this process.
     Law enforcement has reiterated that serious hate crimes do happen in Lincoln. These crimes devastate the very fabric of every community in Lincoln. They cause people to turn their heads over their shoulder in fear. Any allegation of crime or violence motivated by hate deserves the most serious investigation by law enforcement. By working with the FBI and multiple independent analysts, we are confident that this crime has received a balanced and thorough investigation.
     We encourage anyone who has been a victim of a hate crime to contact law enforcement. Our recent experience gives us confidence that any crime in Lincoln will be thoroughly and fairly investigated.
     In this instance, the complaint was determined to be a false report. The false reports received by law enforcement every year do not invalidate the actual crimes that are committed and investigated by law enforcement in Lincoln.
     It is important not to focus on the actions of any single individual. As residents of Lincoln we must continue to bring our community together to declare that violence and hate are not the values of our city. We have come together to say that we will care for those in need. We must not forget what our city is capable of when we join together in one voice.
     Many people in Lincoln, not just those who are gay or transgender, will continue to have many questions, mixed emotions and confusion. If you need support, the websites below will be updating with information about support opportunities in the near future.

Exclusive video by KOLN/KGIN TV of Charlie Rogers, aka 'Rainbow Jane' at Lincoln, Nebraska police station before being charged with filing a false police report in alleged hate crime

False report arrest warrant issued for Charlie Rogers, aka 'Rainbow Jane,' Lincoln, NE woman who said she was victim of antigay hate crime

Above: AKSARBENT photos of Vigil Against Violence rally
in Omaha following alleged hate crime reported by
Charlie Rogers, now subject of arrest warrant
for making a false police report.
UPDATE: Rogers has pleaded not guilty. A news conference will be held at 2:30 CST.

The Lincoln Journal-Star is reporting that authorities have issued an arrest warrant for Charlie Rogers, and she is scheduled to appear in court at 1:30 pm.
“There was no apparent blood on the bedspread; even though Ms. Rogers reported she was rolled on to her stomach after she had been cut on her arms, abdomen, chest and front of her legs while being held down,” the warrant says...
     A forensic pathologist contacted by the FBI, which assisted in the investigation, said she believes Rogers made the cuts herself or they were done with her permission.
     The cuts looked superficial and symmetrical, avoided sensitive areas of the body and would’ve taken considerable time to inflict, pathologist Michelle Elieff said in the warrant. Moreover, they’re in places accessible to the victim and follow her frame of reference.
     Police found a pile of clothes, white knit gloves and a red box cutter on the living room floor. Rogers said the gloves did not belong to her, but DNA testing determined she was “the major contributor” of DNA inside of them, the warrant says.
     Investigators discovered that white knit gloves, zip ties, blades and a red utility knife were purchased July 17 at the ACE Hardware store at 945 S. 27th St. During an interview, Rogers told police she shops at that store.
     Investigators then showed a clerk at the store a photo lineup and the clerk picked Rogers from the lineup and identified her as the person who bought the items, the arrest warrant says.
False Police Report Arrest Warrant for Charlie Rogers

Quote of the week, from Paul Ryan and his gay friends

Our quote of the week comes from the Rexburg, Idaho Standard Journal, where in his op-ed piece Paul Ryan and his gay friends, Bill Hall wrote:

Ryan serves in the House of Representatives where gay staff members are almost as common as they are in Hollywood, that other arm of show business.

Playboy founder: Gay rights under conservative assault

Politico directs our attention to the editorial in the September issue of Playboy.
The fight for gay marriage is, in reality, a fight for all of our rights. Without it, we will turn back the sexual revolution and return to an earlier, puritanical time,” he writes. “Today, in every instance of sexual rights falling under attack, you’ll find legislation forced into place by people who practice discrimination disguised as religious freedom. Their goal is to dehumanize everyone’s sexuality and reduce us to using sex for the sole purpose of perpetuating our species. To that end, they will criminalize your entire sex life.

Terry Branstad evicted from Iowa governor's mansion — by black mold

Scott McKenzie, singer of San Francisco's Summer of Love anthem, is dead at 73

Scott McKenzie's only smash hit the charts just five years after Tony Bennett's valentine to the City by the Bay became popular, but it remains a siren call from to bohemians all over the word from a place now too expensive for any of them to inhabit.
     McKenzie, who recorded "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)" to promote the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967, died Saturday in Los Angeles. The song, written by John Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas, got to #4 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and was #1 in the UK and most of Europe. It sold over 5,000,000 copies worldwide. In Europe it became an unofficial youth anthem for freedom, played widely during Czechoslovakis 1968 Prague Spring uprising against Soviet rule. It was used in Forrest Gump and several other films. From a web site dedicated to McKenzie:
In retirement Scott lived in LA and became a big fan of Facebook where he had many friends in his "Asylum". Scott was in and out of hospital since 2010 after falling ill with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a disease affecting the nervous system. It is thought he may have had a heart attack in early August, 2012. Staff did not want him to leave the hospital, but he wanted to be at home and passed away on 18th August 2012.

Paul Ryan voted to force women to have rape/incest babies and to have unnecessary medical procedures

No wonder the Romney campaign was so quick to condemn Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin for his asinine and false comments about women's bodies being able to reject impregnation in instances of "legitimate" rape.
     Obviously Romney/Ryan hope their attempt to distance themselves will distract voters from the fact that Paul Ryan repeatedly voted WITH Todd Akin in the US House to force women to have babies which were the result of rape or incest.


Rachel Maddow:
Republicans, upon taking control of the House, in their third bill sought to redefine rape because the old definition of rape apparently included too many things that women wanted to be protected from and we all know they were the kinds of rape that are really no big deal! (Sarcasm.)
     Paul Ryan the Republican vice-presidential nominee, was an original cosponsor of the bill to redefine rape, to make it harder on rape victims who wanted to get an abortion. The bill eventually dropped the redefining rape language but Paul Ryan was a sponsor of the bill while the original language was still in there.
     He was also a sponsor of the federal version of the "personhood" thing that had failed in Colorado twice and in Mississippi because even in Mississippi "personhood" language that would ban all abortions with no exceptions at all including for rape or incest and would also likely ban hormonal birth control and some fertility treatments — that was too extreme for Mississippi but Paul Ryan sponsored it for the whole country.
     Paul Ryan also sponsored a federal version of Bob McDonald's forced ultrasound bill from Virginia in which the government forces women to have a medically unnecessary procedure against their will and potentially against doctor's orders... Paul Ryan's bill had no exemptions for rape or incest. The Republican party's national platform has supported criminalizing abortion since 1976 with no exceptions for rape or incest.