Daily Archives: March 8, 2012

Libya Reburies Bodies Dumped in Mass Graves

On Monday, March 5, thousands of Libyans gathered in the former rebel capital of Benghazi to bury the bodies of 157 civilians and rebel fighters government officials discovered in a mass grave on Friday.

Libyan men carry coffins of victims discovered in the mass grave. Photo Courtesy The Houston Chronicle.

Omar al-Obeidi, head of the new government-run missing person’s office, reported that officials began excavating bodies on Friday and completed the excavation on Sunday.  Officials have identified eighty bodies.  All the bodies are from eastern Libya.

Most of the victims died between February and March 2011 from gunshot wounds and rocket strikes.  Some people died via execution. Rocket attacks severely disfigured others.

Mr. al-Obeidi noted that before his office opened the graves to identify the bodies, it obtained a fatwa from the Mufti, Sheikh al-Sadiq al-Gharyani, and permission from Attorney General Abdelaziz al-Hassadi.

The government will return the identified bodies to their families for proper funerals.

A forensic team is collecting DNA samples and photographs from the unidentified bodies in an attempt to match this information with DNA samples at the ministry.

Libyans mourned for the deceased by holding a “Martyrs’ Parade” on Monday.  Government officials escorted a caravan of twenty-three trucks carrying coffins, each draped in a Libyan flag, through the country’s eastern cities.  Libyans held an Islamic prayer service in honor of the “martyrs” in Tahrir Square after the delivery of coffins.

Via Impunity Watch.

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Filed under Activism, Sick Sad World, World

Eight Female Service Members Sue for Sexual Assault

Eight U.S. service members have filed a lawsuit alleging they were raped, assaulted, or harassed while serving and retaliated against once they reported the abuse.

Among the defendants are current and former Defense and Navy secretaries and Marine Corps commandants.

The suit outlines a pattern of abuse and portrays the experiences of the eight female service members (two former Marine Corps officers, one active duty enlisted Marine, one former enlisted member of the Marine Corps and four former enlisted members of the Navy).

Via CNN.

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Filed under National, Sidebar

Snowe’s Announcement Causes Shakeup in Maine

Sen. Olympia Snowe

Sen. Olympia Snowe (Photo credit: Talk Radio News Service)

Maine Republican Senator Olympia Snowe‘s decision to retire has caused a scramble among potential candidates just two weeks before a deadline to qualify for the primary.

Those who already announced they’re running could be joined by U.S. Representative Mike Michaud and former Governor John Baldacci. If Rep. Michaud runs, two of Maine’s four congressional seats would be up for grabs.

All candidates would have to send 2,000 signatures to the secretary of state’s office by March 15 to qualify for the ballot.

Governor Paul LePage has no plans to extend the deadline but would consider it if legislators introduced a bill to give candidates more time.

Sen. Snowe’s announcement creates one of the best opportunities nationwide for Democrats, who are struggling to keep control of the Senate with a 51-47 majority that includes two independents who caucus with them.

Via Huffington Post.

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Filed under Politics

Murkowski Regrets Voting in Favor of Religion and Not Women

English: Lisa Murkowski, United States Senator...

Over the weekend, Senator Lisa Murkowski learned the hard way not to get between women and birth control.

Back from Washington, D.C., for the start of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, the senator kept running into female voters who were coming unglued because of Sen. Murkowski’s support for a measure that would have allowed any employer to opt out of providing health insurance coverage.

She’s a moderate. She supports abortion rights and contraception coverage. She regretted her recent vote.

“I have never had a vote I’ve taken where I have felt that I let down more people that believed in me,” she said.

She’d meant to make a statement about religious freedom, she said, but voters read it as a vote against contraception coverage for women. The measure was so broad, it’s hard not to read it that way.

The vote came last week during a heated debate about the new health care law’s requirement that employers offer insurance that covers birth control. At first, only churches were exempt from the rule. Republicans, along with Catholic and other religious groups, objected, saying the rule trampled on religious liberties.

Because of their objections, the Obama administration changed the rule to allow religiously affiliated organizations to exclude birth control from their plans. In those cases, insurance companies would offer the coverage directly to women.

Sen. Murkowski was among the Republicans who supported religious organizations’ position before the compromise was announced. She sponsored legislation to reverse parts of the health care measure and aligned herself with the church in a letter, writing:

Unfortunately, the Obama administration unilaterally determined that religious hospitals, charities and schools will be required to go against their deeply-held — and constitutionally-protected — beliefs when offering health care services to current employees.

After the compromise announcement, she didn’t speak publicly about her position.

Sen. Murkowski said she voted for the Blunt Amendment to send a message that the health care law needed a stronger clause for religious conscience. It was supposed to be a vote for religious freedom, she said, but to female voters, it looked like a vote against contraception. The language of the amendment was “overbroad,” she said.

Sen. Murkowski said she believes contraception should be covered and affordable, except when it comes to churches and religiously affiliated organizations. She sponsored a contraception coverage bill as a state legislator in 2002. That bill exempted “religious employers.” She said her position hasn’t changed.

“I have always said if you don’t like abortion the best way to deal with it is to not have unwanted pregnancies in the first place,” she says. “How do you do that? It’s through contraception.”

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Filed under Health, Politics, War on Women

Senate Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline Measure

keystone pipeline

keystone pipeline (Photo credit: shannonpatrick17)

The Senate has rejected a measure that would have bypassed the Obama administration’s objections to the Keystone XL pipeline and allowed construction to begin.

Fifty-six senators voted in favor of the amendment, four short of the sixty required for approval.

The proposed 1,700-mile long pipeline expansion, intended to carry crude oil from Canada’s oil sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast, has become a political lightning rod.

Opponents say the pipeline may leak, and that it will lock the United States into a particularly dirty form of crude that might ultimately end up being exported anyway.

President Barack Obama rejected a bid to hasten the pipeline, arguing that a decision deadline imposed by Congress did not leave enough time to conduct necessary reviews. The President may still eventually give the project a green light.

Pres. Obama personally lobbied wavering Democrats to block passage of the amendment.

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Filed under Cheers!, National

Justice Department Plans to Sue E-Book Publishers

In December, the European Union announced that it had opened formal antitrust proceedings to investigate whether the same publishers had “engaged in anti-competitive practices affecting the sale of e-books” in Europe.

Apple gets 30% of the price of any e-book. The Justice Department believes that Apple and publishers have used this model to raise prices across the e-book industry.

According to a report from the Pew Internet and American Life project, e-book reader ownership doubled between December 2011 and January 2012, jumping from 18% to 29%. Media Bistro reported in late February that 2011 e-book sales in the United States were up in 117% over 2010, generating $970 million.

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Filed under Business, National, Sidebar

The Unfortunate Story That Dogs Romney

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts,...

Image via Wikipedia

I’m sure you’ve heard this story before. Mitt Romney once drove to Canada with the family Irish setter on the roof of the car.

Seamus the dog is an icon. There are Seamus T-shirts and Web sites. This week, the story was a New Yorker cover, with Rick Santorum playing the role of the Irish setter.

Neil Swidey, the Boston Globe reporter who broke the Seamus story in 2007, wrote recently that he had avoided a return to the topic for fear that some day the dog would wind up in the lead of his obituary.

In 1983, the Romney family made a twelve-hour pilgrimage from Boston to a vacation home in Canada. Romney, his wife, Ann, and five sons were in the station wagon. Seamus was in a crate on the roof.

At some point, Seamus developed diarrhea. Mr. Romney made an unscheduled trip to a gas station. He kept the family in the car while he hosed down the station wagon and the dog, then returned to the highway.

“It was a tiny preview of a trait he would grow famous for in business: emotion-free crisis management,” Mr. Swidey wrote.

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Filed under Politics, Stupid Is As Stupid Does