Singapore bans game over lesbian scene
SINGAPORE – Singapore has banned an Xbox video game because it contains a sex scene between a woman and a female alien, the city-state’s censors said Thursday.”Mass Effect,” a futuristic space adventure published by Microsoft Corp., has been banned because of “lesbian intimacy,” Chetra S., deputy director of the Board of Film Censors, in a statement. Players can engage their avatars in a variety of sexual encounters during the game, though none between men or between men and male aliens, according to reports on several blogs. The human-alien duo are depicted kissing and caressing each other in a sex scene that The Straits Times English-language newspaper in Singapore reported ends with the alien saying, “By the gods, that was incredible, commander.”
Incredible Comet Bigger than the Sun
A comet that has delighted backyard astronomers in recent weeks after an unexpected eruption has now grown larger than the sun.The sun remains by far the most massive object in the solar system, with an extended influence of particles that reaches all the planets. But the comparatively tiny Comet Holmes has released so much gas and dust that its extended atmosphere, or coma, is larger than the diameter of the sun. The comparison is clear in a new image. “It continues to expand and is now the largest single object in the solar system,” according to astronomers at the University of Hawaii.
The coma’s diameter on Nov. 9 was 869,900 miles (1.4 million kilometers), based on measurements by Rachel Stevenson, Jan Kleyna and Pedro Lacerda of the University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy. They used observations from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. The sun’s diameter, stated differently by various sources and usually rounded to the nearest 100, is about 864,900 miles (1.392 million kilometers).
Former wrestler fighting charges he kept sex slaves
He’s known as “The Colorado Crusader,” “The Georgia Blond” and, most notably, “Hardbody Harrison.” But this week former pro wrestler Harrison “Hardbody” Norris Jr. is fighting off a far more sinister tag: violent sex lord. It’s one that could keep him out of the ring — and in prison — for at least 20 years. Norris, 41, is on trial in Atlanta on federal charges that he kept nine women as sex slaves in his two Cartersville homes.Serving as his own attorney, Norris has started countering a week of testimony about bloody head butts, maniacal mindgames and forced orgies called “cut parties,” in which women had to have sex with up to eight men at a single gathering. In reality, Norris contends, the women willingly entered his homes — living with his wife and one of his three children — because they wanted to train as pro wrestlers.
Norris says many of the women arrived on drugs and left in the best shape of their lives. The women say that may be true, but the push-ups, squats and strict diets were designed to prepare them for something else: prostitution. They say Norris pimped them out at Latino nightclubs, trailer parks and parties until three of them ran to police during a shopping trip in Smyrna.
During the two-week trial, Norris has sported a bright orange prison jumpsuit and trademark braids that, in the ring, were often dyed blond. He has cross-examined his alleged victims and successfully lodged objections to prosecution testimony. This week he began presenting his own witnesses.
Come on People! Bill Cosby is Right
As a controversy, Bill Cosby’s Come on People: On the Path from Victims to Victors is hardly controversial. The new book, co-authored with Harvard psychiatrist Alvin F. Poussaint, is an old-fashioned, conservative cultural critique that offers an eat-your-vegetables, teach-your-children, pull-your-pants-up polemic. In 2004, Cosby roiled the racial waters when he blasted the pathology of black failure at an NAACP dinner in Washington, D.C. The iconic comedian, known as the jolly JELL-O man and playful patriarch of The Cosby Show’s Huxtables, stunned the nation with a bitter diatribe against low-income African-American families.
Three years later, his words still sting: “The lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal. These people are not parenting,” he ranted at the stone-faced crowd of America’s black elite. “They are buying things for their kids—$500 sneakers for what? And won’t spend $200 for Hooked on Phonics!
“I can’t even talk the way these people talk. ‘Why you ain’t?’ ‘Where you is?’ … Everybody knows it’s important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can’t be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth.”
Cosby’s critics excoriated him for delivering his rant from an elitist ivory tower without offering solutions. They argue that the black poor are the helpless victims of white supremacy and institutional racism. In other words, it’s not their fault—the deck is stacked just too high.
Rare robbery case brings cries of racism
LAKEPORT, Calif. – Three young black men break into a white man’s home in rural Northern California. The homeowner shoots two of them to death — but it’s the surviving black man who is charged with murder. In a case that has brought cries of racism from civil rights groups, Renato Hughes Jr., 22, was charged by prosecutors in this overwhelmingly white county under a rarely invoked legal doctrine that could make him responsible for the bloodshed.
Prosecutors said homeowner Shannon Edmonds opened fire Dec. 7 after three young men rampaged through the Clearlake house demanding marijuana and brutally beat his stepson. Rashad Williams, 21, and Christian Foster, 22, were shot in the back. Hughes fled.
Baghdad in Middle America
Honoring vets means nothing at all unless it means honoring the deeply gouged personal truths each experienced during deployment. But the dismissal of such truths is as much a part of war, and its aftermath, as the propaganda and geopolitical whoppers necessary to launch it. The problem with these individual truths is that they seldom smack of glory. More often, they’re simply mundane and hellish, and slowly eat the vet’s soul. The clinical name for this is post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, and it’s the phrase I heard most frequently and most distinctly this past weekend, during the grim, pained acknowledgement -I can hardly call it celebration -of Veterans Day.
Ray Parrish, a vets’ counselor and Vietnam vet, was adamantly pessimistic as he spoke to 100 or so people gathered on a bitter, gray Sunday morning at the river in downtown Chicago, about the psychic toll our current wars are exacting on the ones who are fighting them.
Noting that the standard tour of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan is 15 months (three months more than Nam), that two or three tours of duty are common, and that maybe eight or nine months of continuous battle conditions -little sleep, ever-present terror, the necessity to kill -is about all a normal human being can take, Parrish said: “It is inevitable that every soldier is coming back with PTSD -without exception.”
- U.S. to Seek New Sanctions Against Iran
The Bush administration plans to push for new sanctions against Iran after the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency reported yesterday that Tehran is providing “diminishing” information about its controversial nuclear program, U.S. officials said. In a critically timed assessment, the International Atomic Energy Agency said that Iran provided “timely” and helpful new information on a secret program that became public in 2002, but that it did not fully answer questions or allow full access to Iranian personnel. Iran is even less cooperative on its current program, the IAEA reported. “Since early 2006, the agency has not received the type of information that Iran had previously been providing,” the IAEA concluded. “The agency’s knowledge about Iran’s current nuclear program is diminishing.”
The IAEA’s report also confirmed that Iran has 3,000 centrifuges in operation, which is the minimum needed to enrich a significant amount of uranium and represents a tenfold increase over last year. Having 3,000 functioning centrifuges is a major technical milestone for Iran. Uranium enrichment can be used to develop peaceful nuclear energy as well as nuclear weapons.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly stated in recent months that Tehran has reached that strategic threshold. If all 3,000 centrifuges are working efficiently, Iran could produce a weapon in a year. But the report indicated that the IAEA has no evidence Iran could produce bomb-grade fuel, and most experts think it still faces significant technical problems.
Traumatized Israeli Draftees Speak out
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Wrestling with memories of their compulsory military service that they would rather erase, six former Israeli female conscripts have spoken out in a new documentary about the darker side of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinians territories.“It’s easy to finish your military service and push it to the back of your mind,” director of the documentary “To See If I’m Smiling” Tamar Yarom told Reuters on Friday, November 16.
US Muslims Guide Ill-informed Media
CAIRO — Realizing that deep-seated misconceptions are propagated through ill-informed media, a leading US Muslims group is launching a nationwide campaign to help the media with accurate information about Islam and Muslims.“It is our duty, and that of the Muslim community, to make sure every journalist who writes about Islam or Muslims has access to accurate information,” Rabiah Ahmed, Communications Coordinator at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in a press release.
- Tolerance in Islam
One of the principles deeply rooted in Islam is tolerance. A human being, in the Islamic point of view, is a dignified creature (Al-Israa’ 17:70). He or she is the vicegerent of Allah on the earth and is supposed to develop the earth and make use of its resources (Al-Baqarah 2:30; Hud 11:61). At the same time, people are not of one and the same faith or belief. They have different thoughts and views, and to achieve their expected job of developing the earth, they need to work in cooperation and show tolerance towards each other. This does not necessarily mean abandoning one’s ideas and thoughts. Muslims do not compromise on their principles or give up their Islamic beliefs; they stick to their religion and present it to others without any coercion. By the same token, they deem tolerance as an obligation. Islamic sources and texts are abundant with provisions urging Muslims to show tolerance as much as possible. In the Qur’an, for example, we read:
(The good deed and the evil deed are not alike. Repel the evil deed with one which is better, then lo! he, between whom and thee there was enmity (will become) as though he was a bosom friend.) (Fussilat 41:34)
(The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah: for (Allah) loveth not those who do wrong.) (Ash-Shura 42:41)
Yepsen’s analysis: That’s why the lady is a champ
Give Thursday’s debate to Hillary Clinton.After two bad weeks in the 2008 Democratic presidential campaign, she recovered her footing and pushed back sharply at her opponents in a debate Thursday night.
The event, televised by CNN, was held in Las Vegas and was seen as an important milestone in the campaign. Clinton’s flawed performance in the previous debate and a series of campaign miscues in the weeks that followed indicated the national front-runner was stumbling. The evening gave her rivals a chance to trip her up some more.
They blew it. Barack Obama had only an average night, and on a couple of questions he seemed flummoxed. On the question of driver’s licenses for immigrants here illegally, his answer was as nuanced and fuzzy as Clinton’s was a couple of weeks ago. Moderator Wolf Blitzer underscored Obama’s fumbling by reminding him the question “is sort of available for a yes or no answer.” By contrast, Clinton gave the answer she should have in the last debate:
Also, Obama got booed when he accused Clinton of using logic worthy of Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani. (That did seem a little canned. His handlers need to provide him some fresh material.) He also needs a more cogent answer for what he proposes to do with all the nation’s nuclear waste until someone invents that new processing technology he wants.
John Edwards should have stayed home. Clinton took the wind out of his sails early in the evening by implying he was “throwing mud.” He never seemed to bounce back from that slap, and he also got hooted when he talked about her as a corporate Democrat.
Edwards also had a poor night because for the first time, the differences between his votes as a U.S. senator and his talk now came into clear focus. He voted for the Iraq war, the Patriot Act and using Yucca Mountain as a nuclear-waste disposal site. Those votes are at odds with the populist rhetoric he serves up today, and it will undermine the credibility of his message.
- Local audience finds no clear cut winner
Northern Nevadans who watched the Democratic presidential debate today differed on which candidate fared the best, but most agreed there were less personal attacks and more focus on issues than in previous debates.
“I thought it was a good debate,” said Lynn Brosy, who hosted a party for a group of Bill Richardson supporters. “All the candidates had a chance to be part of the discussion, so I like that. I think they did less mudslinging.”
The 90-minute debate looked as if it would have plenty of mudslinging at the beginning, with
U.S. Sen. Barack Obama and former U.S. Sen. John Edwards criticizing frontrunner Hillary Clinton, but the initial exchanges where short-lived.
“After that first four minutes, it seemed to settle down and focus more on the issues,” said Brent Busboom, a Reno High School teacher who joined about 100 people at watch party sponsored by the Obama campaign.
Clinton drew laughs from the crowd when she said she was wearing asbestos pants, and when she responded to a question about her “playing the gender card,” against criticism by saying, “They’re not attacking me because I’m a woman. They’re attacking me because I’m ahead.”
Clinton has a wide lead in national polls. A CNN poll of Nevada voters showed her with support of 51 percent of voters, well ahead of second-place Obama, who had 23 percent, and Edwards at 11 percent.
The seven Democratic candidates used most of their barbs on the Bush administration, blasting everything from the war in Iraq to dangerous toys being imported from China.
The Las Vegas debate, designed to include questions of importance to Nevada voters, touched on Yucca Mountain but not many other specifically Nevada issues such as mining and water.
“I think a lot of it like illegal immigration, Social Security and health care are Nevada issues just like they are national issues,” Brosy said.
Stephane Rector, an Obama supporter, said she felt her candidate did the best but also was impressed with Richardson, the New Mexico governor who has spent more time campaigning in Nevada than any other Democrat.
“I thought he had a lot of good moments,” she said.
Dorothy Nash Holmes, also an Obama supporter, said all the candidates handled themselves well, but she was staying with Obama.
“Obama is the first candidate I’ve been excited about in 15 years,” the former Washoe County district attorney said.
Ralph Stephens of Reno said he was impressed with U.S. Sen. Joe Biden’s performance.
“Obama and particularly Biden came off very strong,” he said. “I think Biden had the most credibility. His competencey, his character, he showed more charisma. I think that’s very positive.”
Iran wants Western “apology” after IAEA report
TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran called on its Western foes on Friday to apologize to the Islamic Republic after the release of a U.N. nuclear agency report which Tehran said showed it had been telling the truth about its atomic plans, according to state media.The United States, which accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear bombs, said Thursday’s report showed Tehran still defying the international community and that Washington would proceed with allies to draft broader United Nations sanctions against it.But Iranian officials said the country had been vindicated in the report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and that further discussion at the U.N. Security Council about the nuclear dispute would have no legal basis.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “urged the West to bravely apologize to the Iranian nation,” state broadcaster IRIB said without airing a direct back-up quote from the president, who often rails against the United States and its allies.
Lindsay Lohan Does 84 Minutes in Jail
LOS ANGELES (AP) – Lindsay Lohan was a jailbird for just 84 minutes Thursday, becoming the latest celebrity to serve less than a day for a drunken driving offense. Lohan, 21, turned herself in to the Los Angeles County women’s detention center in Lynwood at 10:30 a.m. She was searched, fingerprinted and placed in a holding cell in the inmate reception area but got to keep her street clothes, sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said.
Lohan was released at 11:54 a.m. Her original daylong sentence was reduced because she met criteria that took into account overcrowding at the lockup and the fact that her crime was nonviolent, Whitmore said.
In May, the star of “Mean Girls” and “Freaky Friday” was arrested after crashing her Mercedes-Benz into a tree in Beverly Hills. She was arrested again in July after the mother of Lohan’s former personal assistant called 911 to report that her car was being chased by an SUV. The chase ended in Santa Monica, where police arrested Lohan for being behind the wheel. In both cases, Lohan was found in possession of small amounts of cocaine.
Controversy Over Eurostar’s Shock Advert
An advert depicting a tattooed skinhead urinating into a china teacup is being used to promote tourism to London.The image is part of a new Eurostar campaign aimed solely at the Belgian market. Posters have gone up on billboards in Antwerp, Brussels, Liege and Ghent to promote the new high-speed train connection to the English capital.
- Anti-Romney, anti-Mormon calls being made in Iowa
In an apparent push poll, a research firm has called Iowa Republicans this week praising John McCain and critcizing Mitt Romney and his Mormon faith. An individual in Manchester, Iowa, contacted me on Wednesday night saying he received a call with information about McCain’s military service and anti-spending record.
Then there were “lots of negatives on Romney,” said the recepient of the call in an e-mail, including mentions of his “flip-flops,” hiring illegal immigrants as landscapers and extensive discussion of Mormonism.
How Barack Obama Broke the Law
Some conservative bloggers are furious about a photo showing Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama without his hand on his heart during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Obama has countered that the photo was taken during the national anthem, not the Pledge of Allegiance—so he didn’t have to. Is that true? No. According to U.S. law, a civilian like Obama is supposed to stand up when the anthem is played, take off his hat, face the flag, and put his right hand over his heart. Members of the military can keep their hats on and salute instead of placing their hands on their hearts.
The rules of conduct regarding the anthem, the pledge, and the American flag weren’t always a matter of law. At first, they were just tradition. “The Star-Spangled Banner” lyrics were originally written during the War of 1812. Later in the 19th century, the Army and Navy both began to use it during ceremonies, but it only became the congressionally recognized national anthem in 1931. Meanwhile, the Pledge of Allegiance was first used in public schools in 1892 to celebrate Columbus Day and only made it into the law books in the 1940s.