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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Daily Drift



Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
~ Dylan Thomas

Some of our readers today have been in:
Shunyi, China
Cape Town, South Africa
Phuket, Thailand
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Belgrade, Serbia
Waterloo, Canada
Petalin, Jaya, Malaysia
San Jose, Costa Rica
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Quito, Ecuador
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Bangkok, Thailand
Paris, France
Yerevan, Armenia
Sampaloc, Philippines
Sofia, Bulgaria
As, Norway
Johannesburg, South Africa
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Karachi, Pakistan
T, Philippines
Roubaix, France
Chisinau, Moldova
Beirut, Lebanon

Today is Poinsettia Day

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

1753 George Washington, the adjutant of Virginia, delivers an ultimatum to the French forces at Fort Le Boeuf, south of Lake Erie, reiterating Britain's claim to the entire Ohio River valley.
1770 The British soldiers responsible for the "Boston Massacre" are acquitted on murder charges.
1862 The Union loses its first ship to a torpedo, USS Cairo, in the Yazoo River.
1863 Orders are given in Richmond, Virginia, that no more supplies from the Union should be received by Federal prisoners.
1901 Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi receives the first transatlantic radio transmission in St. John's Newfoundland.
1927 Communists forces seize Canton, China.
1930 The Spanish Civil War begins as rebels take a border town.
1930 The last Allied troops withdraw from the Saar region in Germany.
1931 Under pressure from the Communists in Canton, Chiang Kai-shek resigns as president of the Nanking Government but remains the head of the Nationalist government that holds nominal rule over most of China.
1943 The German Army launches Operation Winter Tempest, the relief of the Sixth Army trapped in Stalingrad.
1943 The exiled Czech government signs a treaty with the Soviet Union for postwar cooperation.
1956 The United Nations calls for immediate Soviet withdrawal from Hungary.
1964 Kenya becomes a republic.
1964 Three Buddhist leaders begin a hunger strike to protest the government in Saigon.
1967 The United States ends the airlift of 6,500 men in Vietnam.
1995 Willie Brown beats incumbent mayor Frank Jordon to become the first African-American mayor of San Francisco.

Non Sequitur


Americans finding dozens of ways to mark 12-12-12

Signage for the "12-12-12" concert is displayed on the Madison Square Garden jumbotron, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012, in New York. The Dec. 12 concert, whose proceeds will aid victims of Superstorm Sandy, will feature artists Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, Dave Grohl, Billy Joel, Alicia Keys, Chris Martin, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, Eddie Vedder, Roger Waters, Kanye West, The Who and Paul McCartney. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
A Michigan sixth-grader will put aside her nerves and get her ears pierced on her 12th birthday. Two law-enforcement officials will exchange wedding vows at 12:12 p.m. in Pittsburgh's federal courthouse. And gamblers can take advantage of promotions some casinos are using to lure in patrons who want to test their luck.
With a once-a-century date arriving Wednesday, some people across the United Stated are betting on good fortune for 12-12-12.
In New England, Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut will offer $12 in free slots play to rewards cards members who sink $12 into the slots.
A southwestern Michigan casino is also betting that 12-12-12 is going to be a lucky day for opening its new hotel. A ribbon-cutting is planned for 12:12 p.m. Wednesday for the eight-story, 242-room hotel at FireKeepers Casino near Battle Creek.
Hours later, Anna Gandy, of Battle Creek, Mich., will head to the Lakeview Square Mall after school lets out. She realized last year that she would turn 12 on 12-12-12, her father Bryan Gandy said Tuesday. But between her sports team commitments and nerves, Anna decided to wait until Wednesday to get her ears pierced.
"She's been looking forward to it for a year," he said of the special birthday. "She obviously likes the number 12."
Fans of some of music's biggest names will feel lucky to see them share a stage Wednesday in New York's Madison Square Garden. The charity show for Superstorm Sandy victims has been dubbed the "12-12-12" concert and will include Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, the Who, Eric Clapton, Billy Joel, Kanye West, Alicia Keys and Bon Jovi.
For Green Bay Packers fans, Wednesday's date also will carry special meaning.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers wears No. 12, and the Wisconsin state Legislature has designated the day Aaron Rodgers Day in honor of the Super Bowl winner and last year's MVP. Some businesses are encouraging employees to wear Rodgers jerseys and make $12 donations to a charity fund.
According to Vicki MacKinnon, who practices numerology — the study of the occult significance of numbers — Wednesday's date represents two energies merging, including masculine and feminine energies.
MacKinnon, of Calgary, Alberta, author of "Please Take a Number: Numerology for Real Life and Everyday Success," said Tuesday that those kinds of energy are good news for couples planning to marry on 12-12-12.
Among them are Assistant U.S. Attorney Amy Johnson and Deputy U.S. Marshal Brian Allen. A federal judge in Pittsburgh will marry the couple at 12:12 p.m. as they exchange 12-word vows.
Johnson, 34, said the couple had been planning a small ceremony until word leaked out of their numerically unusual plans.
"A lot of people started thinking it was interesting and intriguing that we chose this day. Prior to that it was going to be a very small venture, but it's kind of spiraled into something," Johnson said.
Officials at the Milwaukee County Courthouse also expect the hallways to be bustling with brides and grooms. At least 27 couples are getting hitched on the 12th day of the 12th month of 2012, compared with about six on a typical Wednesday.
In Las Vegas, MGM Resorts spokeswoman Yvette Monet says all six of the casino wedding chapels the company has along the strip are close to fully booked for Wednesday.
But weddings aside, MacKinnon, said her reading of the date shows good fortune can come to anyone who demonstrates good intentions in whatever they do on 12-12-12.
"I just believe that as long as we conduct our lives with the highest intentions for ourselves and others, we can make very good use of the energy tomorrow for manifestation of what we want to bring into our lives."

Soledad O’Brien pins repugican Sessions over fiscal cliff proposal to cut food stamps to kids

Soledad O’Brien was not amused that Mr. Sessions plans on taking food out of the mouths of starving children.

Soledad O’Brien does it again.  As part of her ongoing crusade to ask serious people serious questions, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien asked Alabama repugican Jeff Sessions to explain why he thinks balancing the budget on the backs of starving children, by cutting food stamps, is a good idea.(Sessions is the worst of the worst. He’s a walking stereotype of your worst nightmare of a politician from Alabama.)
Sessions was speechless.  Nearly. It’s not often that journalists have the nerve to ask US Senator actual normal questions with normal follow-up questions when they don’t answer the first one.
Mother Jones does a great write-up of the interview, here’s one great quote:
Then, O’Brien went for the jugular. “I mean, it’s 61 percent of households in your state have children who are recipients of the food program they are on,” she said. At a loss, Sessions attempted to shift the conversation. “Do you think there’s no problem with the program?” he asked O’Brien. “Do you think it’s perfectly well-run?”
“I guess my question would be, when are you thinking of things to cut… Why not cut something else? There are other things that could be on the table before you pick a program that is feeding the nation’s poor children.”
And here’s a great pic of Sessions, just stone-faced, as O’Brien looks at her notes and says, wait, you just complained about the Food Stamp program growing, but you voted twice to expand it.  Priceless:
Soledad O'Brien asks Sen Sessions why he wants to starve poor children
Yes, my favorite 16 deadly Sol-splainin’ faces were out in full force.
Sessions didn’t have a chance.

The repugicans and America

The repugicans like to talk about their deep love of America - it was the repugican cabal that originally coined the phrase, "America - love it or leave it." But have you ever noticed how often they talk about how much they actually HATE about America? And now the talk about secession because they can't have their way? They have really become the cabal of whiners.

The repugican's Lost Civilization


The Mayans were right, as it turns out, when they predicted the world would end in 2012.
It was just a select world: the repugican universe of arrogant, uptight, entitled, bossy, retrogressive white guys.
Just another vanishing tribe that fought the cultural and demographic tides of history.

Someday, it will be the subject of a National Geographic special, or a Mel Gibson movie, where archaeologists piece together who the lost tribe was, where it came from, and what happened to it. The experts will sift through the ruins of the Reagan Library, Cheney’s shotgun casings, remnants of triumphal rants by Dick Morris on Faux News, faded photos of Clint Eastwood and an empty chair, and scraps of ancient tape in which a tall, stiff man, his name long forgotten, gnashes his teeth about the 47 percent of moochers and the “gifts” they got.

Instead of smallpox, plagues, drought and Conquistadors, the repugican decline will be traced to a stubborn refusal to adapt to a world where poor people and sick people and black people and brown people and female people and gay people count.

But they can't change.
Hate is what they stand for.
They bond over how awful it is to have to share "their" country with "them."

What are they supposed to do - suddenly accept women, Blacks and gays as equals?

The truth hurts

Why efforts to stop factory fires have failed

FILE - In this Dec. 7, 2012 file photo, Bangladeshi policemen sit outside the damaged Tazreen garment factory on the outskirts of Dhaka, Bangladesh. About a year before the November fire at the factory which killed 112 people, executives from Wal-Mart, Gap and other big clothing companies met nearby in the country's capital to discuss a legally binding contract that would govern safety inspections, but after a spokeswoman for Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, got up and said the proposal wasn't "financially feasible," the effort quickly lost momentum. (AP Photo/A.M. Ahad, File)
About a year and a half before a fire at a clothing factory in Bangladesh killed 112 people in November, executives from Wal-Mart, Gap and other big retailers met nearby to discuss ways to prevent the unsafe working conditions that have made such tragedies common.
Representatives from a dozen of the world's largest retailers and fashion labels gathered with labor groups and local officials in April 2011 at the three-day meeting held in the 15-story, glass-walled headquarters of the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers & Exporters Association in Dhaka, the capital. They were considering a first-of-its-kind contract that would govern fire safety inspections at thousands of Bangladeshi factories making T-shirts, blazers, and other clothes Americans covet.
Under the terms of the agreement, each company would be required to publicly report fire hazards at factories, pay factory owners more to make repairs and provide at least $500,000 over two years for the effort. They would also sign a legally binding agreement that would make them liable when there's a factory fire.
Discussions seemed promising. Then, on the second day, Sridevi Kalavakolanu, director of ethical sourcing for Wal-Mart Stores Inc., spoke up. "In most cases very extensive and costly modifications would need to be undertaken to some factories," Kalavakolanu was quoted as saying in the minutes of the meeting obtained by The Associated Press. "It is not financially feasible ... to make such investments."
The statement from the world's largest retailer, with $447 billion in annual revenue, essentially sucked the air out of the room, witnesses said. It also set the tone for the rest of the meeting, which ended the next day without a single company agreeing to the plan.
"I think that really had quite an impact on ... everybody who was in the room," said Ineke Zeldenrust, who was at the meeting representing the workers' rights group Clean Clothes Campaign. "It was quite clear that we were very far from a solution."
As if to underline how much still needs to be done, even as executives nixed the proposal over tea in an air-conditioned room decorated with flowers, scores of scarred survivors and their relatives gathered outside the same building to await compensation checks from another fatal factory collapse more than six years earlier.
The retailers' meeting and its aftermath highlighted a central issue for the $1-trillion dollar global clothing industry: What role retailers play — and should play — in making working conditions safer at the factories that manufacture their apparel.
Retailers often claim they know little or nothing about conditions at factories, because the long and intricate manufacturing chain runs through several contractors and sub-contractors. Wal-Mart and others whose garments were found in the ruins of the fatal Tazreen Fashions Ltd. on Nov. 24 say they had severed ties with the factory or were unaware their clothes were being produced there.
Yet some industry experts and labor activists say it is those major retailers, and the customers who buy their clothes, who ultimately set the price for how much factories get paid, and how much they in turn pay their workers. Safety, they say, can take second place to profits.
The retail industry hasn't released estimates on how much it would cost to upgrade Bangladeshi factories to Western standards. But one advocacy group, The Worker Rights Consortium, puts the cost at about $1.5 billion to $3 billion over the next five years. That's about 3 percent of the $95 billion expected to be spent on clothes manufacturing in the country during that time. It also amounts to about 10 cents added onto the cost of a T-shirt.
Building fires have led to more than 600 garment work deaths in Bangladesh since 2005, according to research by the advocacy group International Labor Rights Forum.
Major retailers such as Wal-Mart, Gap Inc. and Swedish clothing chain H&M have stepped up their own fire safety efforts, but they've stopped short of industry-wide standards that would hold them legally and financially accountable for fire hazards at factories.
Gap, which owns the Gap, Old Navy and Banana Republic chains, turned down the proposal because it did not want to be vulnerable to lawsuits, according to Bobbi Silten, senior vice president of global responsibility. The retailer also did not want to pay factories more money to help with safety upgrades, she said.
"It seemed very challenging to agree to," she said. "We don't own these factories and we're not the exclusive brands. It would be a different picture if we owned the factories."
Since then, Gap has hired its own chief fire inspector to oversee factories that produce Gap brands in Bangladesh. In addition to about $1 million spent on safety measures in Bangladesh in the last two years, Gap has committed to another $2 million to ensure that people laid off because of fire safety repairs are still paid. The San Francisco-based company has pledged to put factories in touch with financial institutions that can give them up to $20 million in capital for safety improvements. The chain has also said it will share anything it learns about safety issues in factories with the Bangladeshi and U.S. governments.
Silten acknowledged that such measures are not exhaustive.
"But we believe that in order to change (the system)," she said, "we need others to change."
Fashion chain H&M, which places the most apparel orders in Bangladesh, also did not sign on to the legally binding proposal because it believes factories and local government in Bangladesh should be taking on the responsibility, according to Pierre Börjesson, manager of sustainability and social issues, who attended the Dhaka meeting.
"We have the responsibility in Bangladesh to improve the situation, but this is through educating suppliers," he said.
H&M, which works with more than 200 factories in Bangladesh, is one of about 20 retailers and brands that have banded together to develop training films for suppliers. H&M has also started to do electrical assessments at the factories it does business with, an expense shared by the factories. It is pushing for suppliers to establish workers' committees to negotiate better wages and other issues with factory management, Börjesson said.
Wal-Mart, which ranks second in the number of apparel orders it places in Bangladesh, has also taken new steps. This year Wal-Mart is requiring regular audits of factories, fire drills and mandated fire safety training for all levels of factory management. Spokesman Kevin Gardner said Wal-Mart's comments during the April 2011 meeting, which were jointly edited by Wal-Mart and Gap in the minutes obtained by the AP, were taken "out of context."
"Wal-Mart has been advocating for improved fire-safety with the Bangladeshi government, with industry groups and with suppliers," Gardner wrote in an email to the AP. "We firmly believe factory owners must meet our (supplier standards), and we recognize the cost of meeting those standards will be part of the cost of the goods we buy."
Auditors hired by Wal-Mart, based in Bentonville, Ark., inspected the Tazreen factory in 2011, giving it an "orange" or high-risk rating. Months later, the third-party auditor did a second inspection, giving it another "orange" rating. And early this year the factory was no longer authorized to produce merchandise for the retail giant. The company said a supplier — who has since been fired — had moved Wal-Mart production there without its knowledge.
But Prakash Sethi, a professor of management at City University of New York, is skeptical that Wal-Mart has so little power or knowledge when it comes to safety conditions at factories.
"How long will it take Wal-Mart to identify a factory if they were making shirts or shorts that were uneven, or where the sewing was below acceptable quality? Less than two days," he said. "They would immediately figure out which factory, where it's being made and put a stop to it. Why is it that they can't do it about the workers?
Labor activists also doubt that the safety plans designed by retailers themselves will do the job.
"Voluntary codes of conduct are useless," said Charles Kernaghan, executive director of the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, who is best known for exposing the use of Honduran child labor to produce clothing for celebrity Kathie Lee Gifford's line in the mid-1990s. "The monitoring is completely phony."
In many ways, it is strong demand that has driven the problem in Bangladesh. Companies in developed nations like the U.S. move production from country to country in search of the lowest costs and least worker strife. Bangladesh is now second behind only China among the world's largest exporters of apparel, with a $20 billion-a-year garment industry.
Cheap labor, unlike materials, transportation and taxes, is one of the few costs retailers and brands can control. And factories in Bangladesh know they can get lucrative deals with retailers and designers by shaving pennies off the cost of making a T-shirt, so they often cut corners.
Bangladesh has the cheapest labor by far. The average garment worker in Bangladesh earns the equivalent of 24 cents an hour, compared with $1.26 an hour in China, 53 cents an hour in Vietnam and 34 cents an hour in Cambodia, according to The Worker Rights Consortium.
Yet growing competition to offer up-to-the-minute fashions at low prices in the weak global economy has led retailers and designers to demand even lower costs from factories. A few years ago, companies shipped new merchandise to stores every two to three months; now, the goal is a fresh supply each month. They are also asking factories to make last-minute changes to orders more often — add a button here or a belt there.
Factory owners can agree, or lose the order, sometimes to new factories that spring up overnight.
"Factory owners, in a certain sense, they're in a bind," says Robert Ross, author of "Slaves to Fashion: Poverty and Abuse in the New Sweatshop" and a sociologist at Clark University. "They're forced to be ruthless and brutal — and they are."
A year after the retailers' meeting in Dhaka to discuss the safety proposal, only two companies have signed the resulting joint memorandum of understanding.
Phillips Van-Heusen Corp., a New York City-based company that sells the Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfiger brands, in March signed the legally binding agreement after a national TV news report that chronicled the dangerous conditions in one of its Bangladesh factories. The company agreed to underwrite a two-year, $1 million program that allows independent fire-safety inspections and public reports of findings. But PVH, which did not return repeated calls seeking comment for this article, pledged to start the program only if at least three other major retailers sign on.
So far, only one has: A German coffee chain named Tchibo that also sells clothes.
Last week, Nanda Bernstein, the chain's head of vendor relations, said on a post on the company's website that measures by individual companies were not enough, and a sector-wide initiative was needed. Her quote: "As soon as two more companies join, it will come into force."

The truth be told

Understanding the NDAA

A US law that makes it possible to indefinitely detain people without charge or trial 


Omems sends us, "ProPublica's point-by-point discussion of why this year's NDAA might not allow for the indefinite detention of US citizens. As clear and concise a summary as I've seen, and provides a bit of hope that our rights aren't completely irrelevant to our representatives."
I don't know that I'd got that far. ProPublica concludes that some of the senators who voted for NDAA clearly believe (and intend) that it will be used to lock up American citizens and lawful residents forever, without a trial or any meaningful due process. And all of them expect that the NDAA will allow for indefinite detention without charge or trial for foreigners who are captured abroad, or who happen to visit the USA (tourists beware). As one of those foreigners who often visits the USA on a work-visa, I'm not exactly comforted by this news.
What about people detained in the U.S. who aren’t citizens or permanent residents?
They could still be indefinitely detained.
Human rights and civil libertarian groups criticized the amendment for falling short of the protections in the constitution under the Fifth Amendment, which says that any “person” in the U.S. be afforded due process.
In the floor debate, Feinstein said she agreed with critics that allowing anybody in the U.S. to be detained indefinitely without charges “violates fundamental American rights.” Feinstein said she didn’t think she had the necessary votes to pass a due-process guarantee for all.

France remains America's copyright crash-test dummy

They're about to ditch HADOPI, poised to adopt the dregs of SOPA instead

France is on the verge of killing its ill-starred HADOPI system, whereby people who are accused of multiple acts of copyright infringement are disconnected from the Internet, along with everyone in their homes. After two years, HADOPI has spent a fortune and has nothing to show for it. HADOPI was enacted thanks to enormous pressure from American entertainment companies and the US Trade Representative, and was the first of the "three strikes" rules to make it into law (New Zealand and the UK also both capitulated to Pax America shortly after).
But the new president Hollande is determined to continue to have France play the role of crash-test dummy for America's failed copyright policy. As a condition of dismantling HADOPI, his government has proposed enacting the worst provisions of SOPA, the US copyright proposal that America roundly rejected last year. Under SOPA.fr, the French government will make intermediaries (payment processors, search engines, web hosts) liable for infringement, with broad surveillance and censorship powers.

New York state's top court rules gang activity is not terrorism

A New York state anti-terrorism law enacted in the wake of the September 11 attacks cannot be used to prosecute a street gang member convicted of shooting a 10-year-old girl and paralyzing a rival gang member, the state's Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday.
The court ordered a new trial for Edgar Morales, 30, a member of the Bronx-based St. James Boys gang who was sentenced to up to life imprisonment for his role in the 2002 shooting.
Prosecutors had accused Morales and his gang of terrorizing the Mexican-American community in their neighborhood. They relied on a provision of a 2001 anti-terrorism law passed days after the September 11 attacks. Morales is the only gang member to have been prosecuted under the law, his lawyer said.
Under the law, a person is guilty of terrorism when he commits certain felonies with the "intent to intimidate or coerce a civilian population" or influence government policy.
But the Court of Appeals found that state lawmakers never intended to extend the definition of terrorism to traditional gang activities.
"The concept of terrorism has a unique meaning and its implications risk being trivialized if the terminology is applied loosely in situations that do not match our collective understanding of what constitutes a terrorist act," Judge Victoria Graffeo wrote for the court.
Morales' attorney, Catherine Amirfar, called the decision a "tremendous victory." A spokesman for Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson said his office would retry Morales without the terrorism charges.
According to the court, Morales and several fellow gang members attended a christening party in 2002 in the Bronx, where members of a rival gang were present. A brawl ensued, the court said, during which Morales shot and killed the 10-year-old girl and paralyzed an adversary.
Morales was charged under the terrorism statute with manslaughter, attempted murder and weapon possession. He was also charged with conspiracy. The prosecution's theory was that Morales and his gang had sought to intimidate the Mexican-American community in their Bronx neighborhood.
During trial, Morales moved to dismiss the terrorism charges, arguing there was insufficient evidence to support them. Acting Supreme Court Justice Michael Gross in the Bronx denied the motion.
Morales was convicted of all charges and sentenced to 40 years to life. Under the conviction, the first three crimes were considered acts of terrorism, which carry steeper penalties.
But a mid-level appeals court found in 2010 that Morales had engaged only in gang-related street crimes, and vacated the terrorism convictions. The court rejected Morales' argument that he had been denied a fair trial.
Tuesday's ruling went further, finding that the terrorism charges had a "spillover effect" on the trial because it allowed the prosecution to admit evidence of a number of uncharged crimes allegedly committed by Morales and his gang. The court ordered a new trial for Morales on the non-terrorism charges.
"Without the aura of terrorism looming over the case, the activities of (Morales') associates in other contexts would have been largely, if not entirely, inadmissible," Graffeo wrote.
"We knew the applicability of the terrorism statute was a novel legal issue, and that the statute would not apply to most street crimes," Bronx district attorney spokesman Steven Reed said.

California man accused of plotting al Qaeda support denied bail

A California man arrested in Afghanistan on charges he plotted to help al Qaeda militants was denied bail on Tuesday despite claims by his lawyers that injuries he suffered during capture diminished any public threat he posed.The defendant, U.S. Army veteran Sohiel Omar Kabir, 35, suffered a fractured facial bone, lacerations to his face and head, and an eye injury from a severe beating he suffered when apprehended last month in Kabul, his attorneys said in court.
As a result, Kabir was left with memory impairment, difficulty keeping his balance and distorted vision, defense attorneys stated. They said Kabir already suffered from epilepsy and had medical problems stemming from an automobile accident.
Kabir's lawyers cited his injuries and various medical issues in requesting that he be released from jail and placed under pretrial supervision, including electronic monitoring, while restricted to his parents' home in Southern California.
But prosecutors pointed to FBI evidence that Kabir had planned to engage in a suicide bombing mission while in Afghanistan, and noted the fierce resistance the Pentagon said he put up when military forces captured him.
"Mr. Kabir was extremely combative," Lieutenant Colonel Todd Breasseale, a Pentagon spokesman, said in an emailed statement. "In addition to attempting to strike military personnel and resist capture, he also attempted to grab grenades and weapons from military personnel conducting the capture operation."
The same assertions were made in court by prosecutors.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Oswald Parada also cited a past criminal record involving an arrest for an unspecified violent act and a history of substance abuse in deciding to order Kabir to remain locked up without bail.
Kabir, shackled and wearing red prison garb and a long beard, sat silently during the detention hearing, except to consult quietly from time to time with public defender Jeffrey Aaron. A small cut was visible under Kabir's right eye.
Kabir has been in federal detention since he was returned to the Los Angeles area from Afghanistan on December 3, U.S. authorities say.
He was taken into custody last month in Afghanistan under a U.S. criminal warrant charging him with conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, a federal offense that carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.
Kabir is accused of recruiting two younger men, Ralph Deleon, 23, and Miguel Alejandro Santana Vidriales, 21, to join him for training with al Qaeda and Taliban militants in Afghanistan, according to a criminal complaint.
Deleon and Santana, who the FBI says converted to Islam under Kabir's influence, are alleged to have then enlisted a third man, Arifeen David Gojali, 21.
The three co-defendants, all residents of communities east of Los Angeles, were arrested together in Chino, California, on November 16, two days before the FBI says they had planned to fly from Mexico to Turkey en route to join Kabir.
They each pleaded not guilty last week to a charge of conspiring to support terrorists. All four are accused of taking part in various activities in preparation for deadly attacks on Americans overseas, including U.S. military personnel.
According to the FBI, Kabir told at least one co-defendant he had planned to go on a suicide bombing mission without them, before they were due to arrive, but canceled because he got sick. No target of the purported mission has been specified.
Aaron disputed the FBI's assertion in court, saying, "There was no suicide mission. He didn't go on a suicide mission."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Susan DeWitt said, however, that evidence made clear Kabir's intent to carry out such an act.
"Clearly his client didn't have the chance to go on a suicide mission or he wouldn't be here today," she said. "It's irrelevant. We stopped him before he was able to carry it out."
The government's case, as outlined in the FBI complaint, rests largely on conversations recorded or related second-hand by a paid FBI informant previously convicted of drug trafficking, a point seized on by defense lawyers.
Breasseale, the Pentagon spokesman, said it remained unclear whether Kabir was initially apprehended by Afghan or U.S. military personnel or a combination of both.
According to the FBI, Kabir is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Afghanistan and had lived in the Los Angeles suburb of Pomona before going abroad in 2011, first to Germany and then to Afghanistan. Aaron said his client had lived in the United States since the age of 2.

Chicago man gets 10 years in suicide-bomber plot

FILE - This undated file photo provided by the U.S. Marshals Service shows Shaker Masri, 29, of Chicago. On Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012, Masri is scheduled to sentenced at federal court in Chicago for plotting to attend a Somalia training camp to become a suicide bomber for terrorist groups al-Qaida and al-Shabab. Masri was arrested in 2010. He pleaded guilty in July to attempting to provide material support and resources to a terrorist organization. (AP Photo/U.S. Marshals Service, File) 
A Chicago man was sentenced Tuesday to nearly 10 years in prison for plotting to attend a Somalia training camp with dreams of becoming a suicide bomber for al-Qaida and another terrorist group, al-Shabab.
Shaker Masri, 29, was sentenced two years after his arrest that relied heavily on an FBI informant. He pleaded guilty in July to trying to provide material support and resources to a terrorist organization. He declined to make a statement in court Tuesday and showed little emotion as U.S. District Judge Sharon Johnson Coleman announced the sentence.
The Alabama-born Masri allegedly discussed the possibility of killing a busload of U.S. soldiers and about the "heavenly rewards one would receive for martyrdom," according to a government presentencing filing.
Investigators also found copies of extremist literature on Masri's computer, including Osama bin Ladin's 1996 manifesto, "The Declaration of War Against the Americans."
"Shaker Masri did not simply want to offer himself as a soldier to fight in the ranks of a terrorist militia engaged in a bloody civil war, he wanted to die killing others," the presentencing filing said. "Masri's goal was to be a tool of indiscriminate murder."
Masri also allegedly expressed admiration for Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S.-born cleric who is believed to have inspired the 2009 Fort Hood, Texas, shooting rampage and the attempted bombing of a jetliner approaching Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009. A U.S. drone attack killed al-Awlaki last year.
The defense entered a letter from the defendant's older brother to the judge that describes Masri as lively and kind, and "our neighborhood's favorite boy" as they were growing up.
"Older people used to love chatting with him, because he had a wild imagination and would tell fantastic stories," Anas Almasri wrote in the letter filed with the court. "He took genuine interest in people's stories and was always one."
The plea agreement set a recommended prison term of just under 10 years. Had the judge disagreed with that recommendation, the plea deal would have been voided.
Masri is one of several Chicago-area defendants facing terrorism-related charges who decided plead guilty.
Masri's attorney, Thomas A. Durkin, said in July, "Suffice to say, there comes a time when the government makes offers that are difficult to refuse in the light of the potential consequences."
Another man who changed his plea before making it to trial was Sami Samir Hassoun. The Lebanese immigrant pleaded guilty in April to placing a backpack he thought held a bomb near Chicago's Wrigley Field. He is due to be sentenced early next year.

Random Photo

Tire Iron Knife

tire iron
Logan Pearce, a third-generation knifemaker, creates beautiful knives, often starting with wrenches and railroad spikes. He also makes elegant chopsticks and axes. Just be careful using this one to change a flat tire.

Excellent Idea of the Day: Indoor Lawns

Indoor lawns and furniture make sitting down indoors instantly gratifying. Read more sitting down indoors on grass is really nice

Science News

US military space plane launchesX-37B spaceplane

The mysterious US military space plane X-37B launches in Florida for the third unmanned flight in a secretive test program.

Does the brain become unglued in autism?

A new study published in Biological Psychiatry suggests that autism is associated with reductions in the level of cellular adhesion ...

Continue Reading 

Real-Life 'Hobbit' Face Revealed

She's not a classic beauty -- with small eyes and not much of a forehead. Read more Real-Life 'Hobbit' Face Revealed

Amazing Places

Machu Picchu

A Labyrinth Lies Within Mysterious Desert Drawing

Completely hidden in the featureless landscape, the labyrinth was identified after researchers walked its disorienting, 2.7-mile length.  
  Labyrinth Lies Within Mysterious Desert Drawing

Awesome Pictures


Recently Discovered Asteroid Zooms Past Earth

A new-found asteroid gave Earth a close shave early yesterday, zipping between our planet and the moon just two days after astronomers first spotted it. Read more Recently Discovered Asteroid Zooms Past Earth

Dinosaur-Killing Meteorite Wiped Out Lizards, Too

Reptiles that lived during the Dinosaur age were hard-hit -- just like the dinosaurs. Read more Dino-Killing Meteorite Wiped Out Lizards, Too

Ten Interesting Facts About Chameleons

There's no denying that chameleons are fascinating creatures if only for their awesome color-changing abilities and amazing eyes, but Twisted Sifter has a list 10 facts about these amazing creatures and you might be surprised what you don't already know about them. For example:
Almost half of the world’s chameleon species live on the island of Madagascar, with 59 different species existing nowhere outside of the island. There are approximately 160 species of chameleon. They range from Africa to southern Europe, and across south Asia to Sri Lanka.
Chameleons feed by ballistically projecting their long tongue from their mouth to capture prey located some distance away. While the chameleon’s tongue is typically thought to be 1.5 to 2 times the length of their body (their length excluding the tail), it has been recently discovered that smaller chameleons have proportionately larger tongue apparatuses than their larger counterparts.
The list also has some great chameleon pictures, but not the cute one I posted above, that was on another article on their site.

Dog Toys Found to Contain Dangerous Chemicals

The chemicals used to lend elasticity to many plastic and vinyl dog toys are known endocrine disruptors that mimic estrogen.  
  Dog Toys Found to Contain Dangerous Chemicals

Meet Migaloo, World's First "Archaeology Dog"

Anyone who has a dog will tell you they are pretty good at finding buried bones. But can a dog sniff out ancient human bones, apart from all the other organic material buried underneath us? Dog trainer Gary Jackson has been working with a female Australian rescue dog, a Labrador named Migaloo, to see if man's best friend can help scientists find our buried ancestors.
I like to experiment with things that have never been tried before. I've trained dogs to find cane toads, koalas, lots of unusual things. So I thought: Can you imagine the discoveries in archaeology that could happen around the world, if dogs could be trained to locate human bones? For years, people have been training cadaver dogs to find decomposed bodies. But the problem with that is at some point rot becomes the primary odor rather than the actual human odor. And many things are rotting throughout a forest. By training the dog on just human bones, you eliminate those distraction odors.
And Migaloo is doing well in her training. In a test, she found a 600-year-old grave in an acre size area in which even Jackson did not know the location. Read about how she was trained at National Geographic News.

Animal Pictures