Daily Archives: March 14, 2011

Charles Taylor Trial Ends


The International Criminal Court, where space was rented by the Special Court of Sierra Leone to try Charles Taylor. Photo by Lindsay.

The 3-year trial of former Liberian president Charles Taylor has ended. Taylor was indicted in 2003 – while still in office – for atrocities committed in neighboring Sierra Leone. He has been tried by the UN-backed Special Court for Sierra Leone.

In closing arguments, the defense argued Taylor was the victim of politically motivated prosecution and that rebel groups were responsible for the atrocities. The prosecution argued that Taylor used the rebel group Revolutionary United Front (RUF) to gain control over Sierra Leone to exploit its mineral resources. The prosecution argues that Taylor gave the RUF and other rebel groups weapons in exchange for blood diamonds.

The RUF terrorized Sierra Leone for ten years, using rape, murder, and torture to take over the country.

The trial heard the testimony of 115 witnesses (many of whom were former child soldiers) and saw 1,097 exhibits.

It will be months before a verdict is rendered. If convicted, Taylor would serve his sentence in the United Kingdom.

Via Impunity Watch.

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PBS Relies on Pledges

Public Broadcasting Service

Image via Wikipedia

PBS’ current pledge drive ends March 20, but another one will be returning in just a few months.

Since 2005, the time PBS stations have devoted to on-air pledge drives has increased by 9%, with some stations devoting 10 full weeks a year to pledge drives.

Last year, individuals provided 24% of the funding for local TV stations. Since local governments are cutting public broadcasting, that figure will likely go higher.

PBS is looking for other ways to earn pledges, such as offering music downloads. This spring, PBS will begin an online giving system as well.

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Death Toll in Japan Rises

The earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Japan late last week has left more than 10,000 people dead. In one northern coastal town alone, the dead are feared to number 10,000, more than half the pre-quake population.

Many more thousands are homeless, and millions are without heat, power, transportation, or water.

Japan’s most pressing concern at this hour, however, is to prevent two nuclear reactors from melting down. An explosion at one of the reactors today did not harm it, Japanese officials announced.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company announced a series of rotating blackouts to conserve power. The blackouts will be the first controlled power cuts in sixty years in Japan.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said at a news conference, “I think that the earthquake, tsunami and the situation at our nuclear reactors makes up the worst crisis in the 65 years since the war. If the nation works together, we will overcome.”

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Fetus Refuses to Testify

If you’ve read this blog before, you no doubt remember the story of the fetus who “testified” before the Ohio legislature about a bill that would make abortion illegal after the time the fetus has a heartbeat.

Basically, the fetus was going to “testify” by way of an ultrasound, which would, ostensibly, show the fetus’ heartbeat for one and all to see. Things were going fine until the fetus’ heartbeat failed to show up on the monitor or speakers.

(Head over to Wonkette to see the video; for some reason I couldn’t link it.)

“When we did this earlier the baby cooperated very nicely,” the anti-choice lunatic who staged the “testimony” said as she struggled to find the fetus’ heart with her laser pointer.

Hilariously, the bill would make it illegal to have an abortion after the fetus’ heartbeat is visible. I won’t continue to point out the irony because I assume you’re drawing the connection there.

Via Wonkette.

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Man Hawking “Taste… Worth Dying For” Dies

A sad, sad story here. Blair River, a 29-year-old man who worked as the spokesperson for the Heart Attack Grill, has passed away. River, who weighed 575 pounds, died from pneumonia.

The Heart Attack Grill, in case it’s not clear from the name, serves some pretty revoltingly greasy food. Its burgers are huge and its french fries are (naturally) cooked in lard. According to advertising, people weighing in excess of 350 pounds eat free at the Heart Attack Grill.

The website of the Arizona “restaurant” shows a video of River “tossing away a pair of pants that don’t fit, having his waist measured and chomping down on a huge burger.”

Via Wonkette.

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Tennessee State Senator Writes Bill She Can’t Explain

Mother Jones reported on the radio appearance by Tennessee state senator Mae Beavers. (That’s quite a name, huh?) Beavers wrote SB 1091, which “would require presidential candidates to present a long-form birth certificate in order to qualify for the ballot.” Here is a transcript of the radio interview:

Host: What are the specific requirements in the bill?

Beavers: That they have to have the long form birth certificate.

Host: What is the long form birth certificate?

Beavers: Now, you’re asking me to get into a lot of things that I haven’t really looked into yet.

Thanks, birthers, for bringing people like this to my attention.

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