Category: News

Afternoon Edition

Afternoon Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Haiti reveals ambitious $11.5 bln reconstruction plan

by Andrew Gully, AFP

Wed Mar 17, 5:15 am ET

PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) – Haiti has unveiled the first draft of its grand reconstruction plan, saying 11.5 billion dollars would be needed to help the country rebuild after January’s devastating earthquake.

Prepared by the government with the help of the international community, the Preliminary Damage and Needs Assessment (PDNA) will provide the framework for discussions at a major donors conference in New York on March 31.

The plan, published online Tuesday, goes far beyond the immediate priorities of post-quake reconstruction and looks at the massive economic and governance challenges Haiti faces if it wants to become a fully functional state.

Newspapers are Folding, and We’re Part of their Problem!

The fact that Newspapers are folding, left and right, is hardly News. It’s a long-term trend playing out, due to the ‘Market Forces’ of the Internet.

What is News is the effect that Internet Bloggers (aka Citizen Journalists) are having on the long, slow fade of “Traditional” News.

It seems fewer and fewer people are willing to pay for their News, these days — and WHY should we when we can find it FREE on-line, often with a dash of humor and wit throw-in, for free too!

One Problem though — Bloggers to maintain credibility, have this little habit of citing those very same “Traditional” News Sources who are quietly fading away, as we speak Type.

I think there is a “Chicken and Egg” thing going on here — just few of us have yet to realize it.

Could be someday we go out to get our Information Breakfast — and it turns out that both “nutritional items” have turned up MISSING! (the Blogger and the Source)

Wednesday Morning Science Supplement

Wednesday Morning Science Supplement is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Despite ban, African ivory flows to Asia

by Anne Chaon, AFP

Tue Mar 16, 7:08 am ET

DOHA (AFP) – A booming black market in African ivory linked to Asian crime syndicates may scupper efforts by Zambia and Tanzania to hold a one-off sale of tusks, experts and delegates at a UN wildlife trade meeting say.

At its last gathering in 2007, the UN-backed Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) voted for a nine-year moratorium on exports of African ivory.

The ban went into effect in 2008, after South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe carried out a one-time sale to Japan and China of stockpiled ivory.

Afternoon Edition

Afternoon Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Technology helps Liberia turn the page on ‘blood timber’

by Zoom Dosso, AFP

2 hrs 20 mins ago

MONROVIA (AFP) – Liberia’s rainforests, once ravaged for blood timber sold to fund one of Africa’s bloodiest civil wars, are being primed as a lucrative and legal industry using cutting-edge tracking technology.

One by one an electronic tag — similar to bar codes used on consumer products — is attached to trees in the thick woodlands covering 45 percent of the West African nation, a painstaking process that will allow consumers to trace the end-product right back to the stump.

While the use of “blood diamonds” to fund wars in the region is better known, it was timber that propped up armed factions, notably those of former president Charles Taylor, during 14 years of Liberian conflict that left over 250,000 dead.

Afternoon Edition

Afternoon Edition is an Open Thread

30 Top Story Final.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Sarkozy party grapples with French vote setback

by Roland Lloyd Parry, AFP

1 hr 31 mins ago

PARIS (AFP) – President Nicolas Sarkozy’s party fought on Monday to recover from a first-round beating by opposition Socialists in French regional elections that also saw the far-right National Front surge back.

Final results showed the Socialists set to crush Sarkozy’s governing UMP party in Sunday’s second-round polls — the last major ballot before the 2012 presidential vote.

In a vote seen as a key test of Sarkozy’s popularity, the Socialists picked up 29.5 percent in the first round in the 22 regions, ahead of the UMP with 26.3 percent, the interior ministry said.

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Tens of thousands rally against Thai govt

by Thanaporn Promyamyai, AFP

Sun Mar 14, 11:25 am ET

BANGKOK (AFP) – Anti-government demonstrators vowed Sunday to march on military barracks housing Thailand’s top leaders as their icon, deposed premier Thaksin Shinawatra, urged them from exile not to give up.

The red-clad protesters — assembled amid tight security in public spaces near government offices in Bangkok — have vowed to step up their campaign if the government does not dissolve parliament within 24 hours.

“We will leave here to listen to the government’s answer at the 11th Infantry Unit,” Red Shirt leader Nattawut Saikuar told reporters. “If they fail to answer our demands we will announce our next step.”

Lady Gaga and Emergent Feminism

In these days of musical famine, where the industry responsible for bringing new talent to the forefront is very much still hemorrhaging money left and right, the latest buzz frequently focuses on Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, better known by her stage name, Lady Gaga.  But, as often is the case, Lady Gaga’s politics and provocative behavior frequently overshadow the songcraft and the melody.  Her videos and stage act are sexually subversive and highly controversial affairs, focusing in particular on willfully flipping gender roles and gendered assumptions upside down.  She has spoken out vocally on behalf of LGBT rights and is herself openly bisexual, though she has since expressed regret at the admission, stating that she recognizes that the confession might have been perceived purely as a means of attaining cheap attention.  When the stigma of being out for much of the community is still a liability rather than an asset, Lady Gaga did not want to be seen as another bisexual-for-headlines celebrity.  

Meanwhile, young Feminists are often lumped together into a catch-all umbrella term known as the Third Wave, a construct that satisfies no one and yet has to suffice since no one can think of anything better.  It’s an unsatisfying qualifier at best, but does nonetheless capture the general sympathies of Generation X and Generation Y women’s rights activists.  Though its mere existence remains frustratingly lodged under the radar of many people, just as invisible and unknown as the broad extent of its stated agenda, it lives and thrives for those who have tapped into it.  Those committed deeply to its continued health recognize the challenges at play, the sort that keep it in line with a niche interest group rather than a fully integrated part of the discussion.  So this is why that a movement desperate to find a point-to spokesperson for its causes has adopted Lady Gaga, even when the woman in question has bristled and hedged a bit at adopting the label for herself.  Any organization or movement looking for increased visibility and instant identification in the wider world often seeks a celebrity or highly public figure to call its own and so it is with the Third Wave’s courting of Gaga.

Feministing and Feministe, two of the largest, most established, and longest running feminist blogs routinely feature the output of or miscellaneous content pertaining to Lady Gaga.  One can be sure that the instant the latest video is posted, Gaga’s most recent interview is published, or some snippet of criticism finds its way into the public consciousness that it will quickly appear on the front page of the bigger sites.  After being posted, the participation and interest level among readers and regular contributors will very noticeably spike.  The purely sensationalist aspect of Lady Gaga’s public persona is, of course, to be attributed to much of this massive fascination, but to reduce her to merely a provocateur would be an unfair characterization.  She does have quite a bit to say, though how she says it can easily be confused with or sometimes even muted by her means of presentation.

Survey Third Wave communities and one descriptive phrase keeps coming up over and over again regarding Lady Gaga—badass.  In such spaces, no higher compliment could ever be paid than that.  When so many women feel that their voices are routinely stifled or that they’ve been conditioned to stay silent while men talk first and act first, young feminists understandably find something courageous and enviable about women, particularly women their own age, who force the world to accept them on their own terms.  Furthermore, Lady Gaga’s music videos in particular have directly, though a bit clumsily at times, taken on questions of same-sex attraction between women and done so in terms that are far closer to the way it actually exists in reality.  The pure fantasy and grotesque parody of lesbianism, itself a construct clearly adopted by men, is at least pushed to the background of her work rather than set forth as the truth.  

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Lady Gaga has recently been the subject of wild, unsubstantiated, often internet-driven speculation as to whether or not she is really a hermaphrodite.  In her latest video, entitled “Telephone”, she has seemingly put that rumor to rest, so to speak, though I would be shocked if others just as bizarre and scurrilous were not to follow.  Feminist communities in the Third Wave have deliberately made room to incorporate queer voices into the discussion, so Gaga’s let-it-all-hang-out style resonates well with a group eager to dissect and deconstruct homophobic and sexist attitudes as a means of properly dispensing with the bigotry in an attempt to get at the truth underneath.

Still, Lady Gaga’s output, be it as a recording artist or as an activist isn’t a complete, satisfying fit with Feminism.  Her entire shtick, be it her music or her music videos, traverse the same basic ground as many others who have come before her.  I find what she stands for much more interesting and original than the music itself, which is rather derivative to these ears.  I suppose as well that I have a different attitude regarding the objectification of the female form.  Far from a prude, I still believe that while it might seem empowering for a woman to make a conscious decision to show off skin for whatever reason, rather than have that decision be forced upon her, the ultimate end is the same.  

Gaga’s latest video finds her in some version or another of undress, and regardless of the intentions, only a very few will be in on the gag.  The average viewer is bound to notice the titillation and miss the commentary.  While the obvious statement set forth does speak to the idea that women ought not be subject to nearly constant scrutiny regarding their own sexuality in ways that a man never would be, I’m not sure a brash response, one in effect throwing the sexist assumption back in the faces of those who hold it is the best strategy ever devised.    

Still, like my fellow feminists, I can’t fault her for her intentions.  Rather than lower the boom, I’d rather state that I appreciate anyone who is willing to risk being misunderstood.  As I age I find myself increasingly disinclined to split hairs.  After all, we come to a greater understanding in our own time, and each of us rests somewhere along that great continuum.  Learning continues forever, as does development.  Few of us fit neatly into the exacting parameters of any movement, and our unique humanity may be the reason why.  Though we ourselves would never appreciate anyone who put us in a confining and vastly limiting box, we are often frustrated when our heroes can’t manage the same trick.  We may need to understand that there’s a certain fluidity with labels just as surely as there is with human sexuality and gender.  The same goes with feminists, Lady Gaga, as well as you and me.

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Tuna, tuskers, tigers headline wildlife trade meet

by Anne Chaon, AFP

28 mins ago

DOHA (AFP) – Atlantic bluefin tuna is in crisis and meets the criteria for a total ban on international trade, the head of the UN wildlife trade organisation said on Saturday in opening a 13-day meeting.

The 175-nation Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), convening for the first time in the Middle East, is the only UN body with the power to outlaw commerce in endangered wild animals and plants.

Besides the sharply disputed proposal on bluefin, the Convention will debate the status of African elephants, polar bears and tigers.

This Week In Health and Fitness

Welcome to this week’s Health and Fitness. This is an Open Thread.

Scientists find why “sunshine” vitamin D is crucial

(Reuters) – Vitamin D is vital in activating human defences and low levels suffered by around half the world’s population may mean their immune systems’ killer T cells are poor at fighting infection, scientists said on Sunday.

The findings by Danish researchers could help the fight against infectious diseases and global epidemics, they said, and could be particularly useful in the search for new vaccines.

Vitamin D Pills May Prevent Fractures in Older Adults

Vitamin D supplements may help prevent fractures in people over 65, provided they take enough of the right kind. A new review of clinical trials appears to show a strong dose-dependent effect for vitamin D in lowering the risk for nonvertebral fractures in the elderly.

Aging: Vitamin D Levels Tied to Dementia Risk

Low blood levels of vitamin D may be associated with an increased risk for dementia, a British study has found.

The Claim: Sunscreen Prevents Vitamin D Production

Dermatologists routinely talk of the need to wear sunscreen. But the body needs sunlight to produce vitamin D, a crucial nutrient.

So is it possible that wearing sunscreen might interfere with the synthesis of vitamin D?

Yes. Studies have found that by blocking ultraviolet rays, sunscreen limits the vitamin D we produce. But the question is to what extent.

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin that is stored in the body’s fatty tissue. It aids in the absorption of calcium and regulate the amount of calcium and phosphorus in the blood. The few food sources for Vitamin D are cheese, butter, cream, fortified milk (all milk in the U.S. is fortified with vitamin D), fish, oysters, fortified cereals and margarine.  Anyone remember cod liver oil?

Vitamin D is also known as the “sunshine vitamin” because the body manufactures the vitamin after being exposed to sunshine. Ten to 15 minutes of sunshine 3 times weekly is enough to produce the body’s requirement of vitamin D. However, many people living in sunny climates still do not make enough vitamin D and need more from their diet or supplementation.

Too much Vitamin D can cause an increase of calcium in the blood that can result in an increase of calcium deposits in soft tissue such as the heart and lungs that reduces their ability to function. It can also cause kidney stones, muscle weakness and vomiting.

Too little Vitamin D can cause osteoporosis in adults and Rickets in children.

The tables for taking Vitamin D supplement can be found here

Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin D. However, before taking a Vitamin D supplement you should consult your doctor and or a nutritionist.

As is now custom, I’ll try to include the more interesting and pertinent articles that will help the community awareness of their health and bodies. This essay will not be posted anywhere else due to constraints on my time. Please feel free to make suggestions for improvement and ask questions, I’ll answer as best I can.  

Catholic Charity at Work

With the advent of Gay couples gaining the right to legally marry in the Nation’s Capitol, the Catholic Charities found it self with a dilemma. They would have to give health care coverage to the spouses of gay employees. Solution, just don’t cover any employee’s spouse, gay or straight.

Same-sex marriage leads Catholic Charities to adjust benefits

   Employees at Catholic Charities were told Monday that the social services organization is changing its health coverage to avoid offering benefits to same-sex partners of its workers….

  Starting Tuesday, Catholic Charities will not offer benefits to spouses of new employees or to spouses of current employees who are not already enrolled in the plan. A letter describing the change in health benefits was e-mailed to employees Monday, two days before same-sex marriage will become legal in the District.

So, just let them get sick and maybe die. What would Jesus say?

h/t Eli @ FDL

Afternoon Edition

Afternoon Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Twin suicide attacks kill 45 in Pakistan’s Lahore

by Sajjad Qureshi, AFP

1 hr 15 mins ago

LAHORE, Pakistan (AFP) – Twin suicide attacks seconds apart targeted the Pakistani military Friday, killing up to 45 people in the second attack to hit security forces in the country’s cultural capital this week.

The bombers walked up to army vehicles in the crowded R A Bazaar area of Lahore, blowing themselves up as people sat down to eat before the main Muslim weekly prayers were to begin, a senior official said.

Lahore, a city of eight million near Pakistan’s border with India, has been increasingly subject to Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked attacks in a nationwide bombing campaign that has killed more than 3,000 people in three years.

Afternoon Edition

Afternoon Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 41 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Violence flares at Greek anti-austerity protest

by John Hadoulis, AFP

15 mins ago

ATHENS (AFP) – Greek police clashed with hooded youths on Thursday as thousands demonstrated against austerity measures aiming to end a crippling debt crisis and the country was gripped by a new general strike.

Violence broke out around a union demonstration in the capital with riot police firing tear gas at hooded youths who hurled firebombs and vandalised stores near parliament and other areas of the city centre.

Police said they had detained 16 people, of whom nine were later arrested, and that 13 officers were hurt after being hit by objects thrown by protesters.

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