Monthly Archives: January 2011

Fox News: We Totally Know Where Egypt Is

Presented entirely without comment…

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On This Day…

American jurist Sandra Day O'Connor (b. 1930),...

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five years ago, Sandra Day O’Connor completed her last day as a United States Supreme Court Justice. She was on the court more than two decades and was the first woman to hold the position.

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Prominent Ugandan Gay Rights Activist Killed

Kampala Road looking towards the station in ea...

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On Wednesday, David Kato, a prominent Ugandan gay rights activist, was found murdered in his home outside Kampala.

Kato became internationally famous after a Ugandan newspaper published his name and photo and announced his homosexuality. Above the picture was the caption “Hang Them.” After the article was published, Kato received death threats. Kato sued the newspaper and won a victory in court exactly three weeks before his murder. The newspaper was enjoined against publishing any more pictures of homosexuals in Uganda.

It is believed that an intruder entered Kato’s home around noon on January 26 and struck him in the head with a hammer. In Uganda, being killed by an iron instrument is called an “iron-bar killings.”

Ugandan security forces have arrested one suspect and continue to look for others. The police have noted that this crime could be linked to a series of other murders that have taken place in the neighborhood. They also speculate that the murder could have been part of a burglary and not related to his homosexuality.

Homosexuality, however, is illegal in Uganda. The punishment is a term up to 14 years.

Via Impunity Watch.

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United Nations Investigates Abuse in Indian Nation

Seal of the United States Department of Justice

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On Friday, Rashica Manjoo, the special rapporteur for the United Nations on violence against women, stopped in Cherokee, North Carolina to discuss assault on Native American women.

According to the Department of Justice, one of three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime, and three of four will be physically assaulted.

The Indian Civil Rights Act limits tribal courts’ sentencing authority over Indians accused of sexual assault and domestic violence. Additionally, non-Indians cannot legally exercise jurisdiction over members of the Indian Nations.

Advocates are pushing for greater jurisdiction and services for victims of sexual and domestic abuse.

Via Impunity Watch.

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Indian Government Officials Protest Murder of Their Own

Nashik is known for its pleasant climate co-ex...

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Hundreds of thousands of Indian government workers are protesting the brutal murder of Yashwant Sonawane, an official in the western state of Maharashtra.

Sonawane was burnt to death Tuesday while trying to prevent a gang from stealing fuel on the Nashik-Manmad highway. He was attacked, doused in kerosene, and burnt alive.

The protesting government workers have met in Mumbai to mourn Sonawane, call for the strictest possible punishment for his murderers, and demand protection as they carry out their official duties.

Nine people have been arrested in connection with Sonawane’s murder. The government has blamed the “fuel mafia” – criminals who steal petroleum, mix it with kerosene, and sell it. Maharashta Home Minister R.R. Patil said the fuel mafia’s strength is increasing daily.

Via Impunity Watch.

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Japan Gives $11.7 Million More to Khmer Rouge Tribunal

Japan announced Friday that it will provide another $11.7 million to the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, the United Nations tribunal trying former Khmer Rouge leaders.

Nearly $9 million will go to the international arm of the ECCC, with $2.9 million for the domestic arm. Japan is the single largest contributor to the ECCC.

The ECCC has spent more than $80 million to date. It has tried and convicted Duch, the former guard of S-21, the largest Khmer Rouge prison, where 14,000 people were imprisoned before their executions.

The ECCC has also investigated evidence against four top Khmer Rouge cadres, and it will be trying them next year.

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Pros and Cons: Football Players Who Commit Sexual Assault

Tuesday night, during the State of the Union Address, President Obama said, “We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair.”

I’ll be honest and begin by saying that I couldn’t care less who wins the Super Bowl. As a former Clevelander, I would love it if the disastrously terrible Browns were to take the title, but only so the city can feel good. They have harsh winters, loads of unemployment, and bad sports teams. They could use the lift.

In any case, the Browns haven’t made it to the Super Bowl. The teams who have made it, though, both have players who have faced sexual assault allegations.

I’m guessing you’ve heard of the Ben Roethlisberger sexual assault scandal.

However, the Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t the only ones with sexual assault charges in their pasts. Last summer, two women called the police to a resort in Wisconsin, alleging that several Green Bay Packers held them down and sexually assaulted them. Linebackers Brad Jones and Clay Matthews, guard Josh Sitton, safety Khalil Jones, fullback Korey Hall, and quarterback Matt Flynn were cleared of charges after the women changed their stories. Brandon Underwood, however, is currently under investigation.

You may be surprised, like I was, to find out the number of allegations of sexual assault against the players in this year’s Super Bowl. Apparently, though, this kind of criminal activity is just par for the course. (Please excuse a golf analogy in an article about football.) A 1998 study, Pros And Cons: The Criminals Who Play in the NFL, announced that more than one in five (21%!) NFL players has been accused of at least one crime.

Although we haven’t heard about a lot of these crimes, many of them have made the news. Last year, Lawrence Taylor (a two-time Super Bowl champ from the New York Giants) was accused of raping a 16-year-old girl in a New York hotel. He pled guilty to much lesser charges, solicitation of a minor, and will have to register as a sex offender.

In 2009, David Meggett (former Super Bowl Champion and two-time Pro Bowler) was found guilty of rape and received a 30-year prison sentence. It was his second sexual assault charge.

In 2007, Michael Irvin (former wide receiver for the Dallas Cowboys) was accused of rape.

Eric Green (former Arizona Cardinal) was sued by a transgender woman who claims he raped her in 2009.

While we can’t assume that all of the men mentioned in the article above are guilty of crimes, I think we can all see a disturbing trend. Rape is a depressingly underreported crime, and with the media that surrounds football players, accusers are probably even less likely to bring charges to a conclusion. It might be a failure of our criminal justice system that people who have committed sexual assault face no jail time, but it’s also a failure of our own personal standards when we glorify these men. When the Super Bowl finally showcases two teams with clean sexual assault records, then I’ll be watching. Until then, I’ll just have to check out the good commercials online.

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Taco Bell’s Beef

Beef Cuts - Where They Come From

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You’ve probably heard by now that Taco Bell is being sued because its beef isn’t really beef. In fact, the “beef” is made of a mixture called “Taco Meat Filling.” Here are the ingredients:

Beef, water, isolated oat product, salt, chili pepper, onion powder, tomato powder, oats (wheat), soy lecithin, sugar, spices, maltodextrin (a polysaccharide that is absorbed as glucose), soybean oil (anti-dusting agent), garlic powder, autolyzed yeast extract, citric acid, caramel color, cocoa powder, silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent), natural flavors, yeast, modified corn starch, natural smoke flavor, salt, sodium phosphate, less than 2% of beef broth, potassium phosphate, and potassium lactate.

It really doesn’t look that out of the ordinary to me (but I don’t eat meat, so what do I know?). According to an Alabama law firm, however, only 36% of the mixture is beef. The firm alleges that the other 64% is additives, flavoring, and coloring.

The firm is presenting a class action for false advertising. The claimants are not asking for any money; they’re just asking for a correction.

Under USDA rules, any product called “beef” must be “flesh of cattle.” “Ground beef” is likewise defined as

Chopped fresh and/or frozen beef with or without seasoning and without the addition of beef fat as such, shall not contain more than 30 percent fat, and shall not contain added water, phosphates, binders, or extenders.

The law firm claims that 64% of the mixture is additives, and the law requires no more than 30% of a meat mixture to be additives. Even food labeled “meat taco filling” should be at least 40% meat under USDA guidelines. So what’s the next level below “meat taco filling”? I don’t think I want to know.

If the law firm’s claim is accurate, they have a great case because calling a beef mixture “beef” may lead consumers to believe that they’re eating one thing when they’re eating something else. If it’s labeled “beef” and advertised as beef, then it must be beef. Consumers have the right to know what they’re eating… even when it comes from Taco Bell.

That said, even if the law firm is correct, there is nothing wrong with the mixture that they’re selling. Sure, it’s processed, but it’s not exactly like you’re heading to Taco Bell thinking you’re going to be eating only the finest. In fact, it’s a lot of oat, wheat and soy, so it’s probably even healthier it would be were the mixture just beef.

Taco Bell has responded with a pretty detailed breakdown of its beef taco filling.

This is the statement that was provided by a Taco Bell representative:

UPDATED STATEMENT REGARDING CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT

“The lawsuit is bogus and filled with completely inaccurate facts. Our beef is 100% USDA inspected, just like the quality beef you would buy in a supermarket and prepare in your home. It then is slow-cooked and simmered with proprietary seasonings and spices to provide Taco Bell’s signature taste and texture. Our seasoned beef recipe contains 88% quality USDA-inspected beef and 12% seasonings, spices, water and other ingredients that provide taste, texture and moisture. The lawyers got their facts wrong. We take this attack on our quality very seriously and plan to take legal action against them for making false statements about our products. There is no basis in fact or reality for this suit and we will vigorously defend the quality of our products from frivolous and misleading claims such as this.”

What is in Taco Bell’s recipe for seasoned beef?

“We’re cooking with a proprietary recipe to give our seasoned beef flavor and texture, just like you would with any recipe you cook at home.

For example, when you make chili, meatloaf or meatballs, you add your own recipe of seasoning and spices to give the beef flavor and texture, otherwise, it would taste just like unseasoned ground beef. We do the same thing with our recipe for seasoned beef.

Our recipe for seasoned beef includes ingredients you’d find in your home or in the supermarket aisle today:

  • 88% USDA-inspected quality beef
  • 3-5% water for moisture
  • 3-5% spices (including salt, chili pepper, onion powder, tomato powder, sugar, garlic powder, cocoa powder and a proprietary blend of Mexican spices and natural flavors).
  • 3-5% oats, starch, sugar, yeast, citric acid, and other ingredients that contribute to the quality of our product.

Our seasoned beef contains no “extenders” to add volume, as some might use. For more information about our ingredients go to http://www.tacobell.com.”

Greg Creed
President and Chief Concept Officer
Taco Bell Corp.

Frankly, it’s hard to argue with Taco Bell here. We all know that ingredients on packaging is in descending order, from the ingredient that makes up the greatest to least volume. If beef is only 36% of the final product, then we’re expected to believe that 64% of the filling is spices and fillers? If 64% of the meat filling were made up of salt, sugar, and spices, wouldn’t the beef tacos be nearly impossible to eat – or wouldn’t it be just like eating ground spices with little bits of beef here and there? I think this point goes to the Bell.

Via Gizmodo.

UPDATE: Taco Bell has written a full-page ad thanking the law firm for suing. Check it out here.

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2011 Oscar Nominees

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams, The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter, The King’s Speech
Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit
Jackie Weaver, The Animal Kingdom

Best Supporting Actor

Christian Bale, The Fighter
John Hawkes, Winter’s Bone
Jeremy Renner, The Town
Mark Ruffalo, The Kids Are All Right
Geoffrey Rush, The King’s Speech

Best Actress

Annette Bening, The Kids Are All Right
Nicole Kidman, Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence, Winter’s Bone
Natalie Portman, The Black Swan
Michelle Williams, Blue Valentine

Best Actor

Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Jeff Bridges, True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network
Colin Firth, The King’s Speech
James Franco, 127 Hours

Best Director

Darren Aronofsky, Black Swan
David O. Russell, The Fighter
Tom Hooper, The King’s Speech
David Fincher, The Social Network
Joel & Ethan Coen, True Grit

Best Original Screenplay

Another Year – Mike Leigh
The Fighter – Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy & Eric Johnson
Inception – Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right – Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
The King’s Speech – David Seidler

Best Adapted Screenplay

127 Hours – Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network – Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3 – Michael Arndt
True Grit – Joel & Ethan Coen
Winter’s Bone – Debra Granik & Anne Rossellini

Best Foreign Film

Biutiful (Mexico)
Dogtooth (Greece)
In a Better World (Denmark)
Incendies (Canada)
Outside the Law (France)

Best Animated Film

How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

Best Picture

Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

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Afghan Children Addicted to Opium

Raw opium

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In rural Afghanistan, opium is doled out to children for a number of ailments. “If a child cries, they give him opium, if they can’t sleep, they use opium, if an infant coughs, they give them opium,” says CNN’s Arwa Damon.

Most of the poor families in rural Afghanistan have no idea that opium is addictive or dangerous.

Adults use opium, as well, to work longer hours or relieve pain.

A recent surge in opium prices could encourage Afghan farmers to expand opium cultivation.

Via Impunity Watch.

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