Archive for the ‘Obama’ Category

R-wordredskins

It’s one of the NFL’s bigger rivalries, the Cowboys vs. the Redskins. And intentional or not, Sunday’s game occurs during Columbus Day weekend, deepening the meaning of a fresh conflict about whether “Redskins” slurs Indians, their leaders say.

More than 500 years after Christopher Columbus’ encounter with the natives of the Americas, any enduring uneasiness between Indians and mainstream society is exemplified by the controversy over the Washington Redskins name, which took a new turn last week when President Obama spoke of “legitimate concerns” that the mascot is racist, some Indian leaders say.

Team owners strongly dispute any racism behind the mascot and won’t change it, saying the Redskins name honors “where we came from, who we are.”

But many Native Americans contend it’s incredulous that a major sports team in the nation’s capital fails to see the word’s offensiveness, especially in a game Sunday whose rival mascots conjure up the bygone real bloodshed between cowboys and Indians. Some news outlets and sports writers agree and aren’t printing “Redskin” in their stories about the NFL team.

“After 500 years, it’s pretty unbelievable that this issue is at the forefront right now,” said Jason Begay, a Navajo who’s an assistant professor and director of the Native American Journalism Project at the University of Montana. “Even in the last 50 years (of the civil rights movement), we learned so much. It’s just ridiculous that this is an issue.”

The NFL team disagrees. In response, the Oneida Indian Nation of New York began airing this weekend a radio ad protesting the Redskins mascot in the Dallas Cowboys’ hometown. The ad, entitled “Bipartisan,” quotes how Obama, a Democrat, and Rep. Tom Cole, a Republican leader in the House, disapprove of the Redskins name.

Washington team owner Dan Snyder stepped up his defense of the moniker this month. Last spring, he told USA Today he will “never” change the name.

“Our fans sing ‘Hail to the Redskins’ in celebration at every Redskins game. They speak proudly of ‘Redskins Nation’ in honor of a sports team they love,” Snyder wrote in a letter to fans.

“After 81 years, the team name ‘Redskins’ continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in the years to come,” he continued.

“I respect the feelings of those who are offended by the team name. But I hope such individuals also try to respect what the name means, not only for all of us in the extended Washington Redskins family, but among Native Americans too,” Snyder said, citing several polls conducted in recent years that show that a majority of people do not want the name changed.

But American Indians like Begay worry about the normalization of an epithet. He’s also vice president of the Native American Journalists Association, which launched last month a media resource page on its website about offensive Native American mascots in U.S. sports.

“We’re on the verge of laying back and letting this name run rampant when we can actually make a difference, which is what we all should be striving for,” Begay said. “I’m glad to see there are so many organizations like NAJA and the (U.S.) President who are standing against it.”

Obama said last week that if he were the team’s owner, he would “think about changing it,” referring to the mascot.

Obama added that “I don’t know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real, legitimate concerns that people have about these things.” The ad also airs a quote by Cole saying “the name is just simply inappropriate. It is offensive to a lot of people.”

The political leaders’ remarks are repeated in the radio ad advanced by the Oneida Indian Nation and its leader Ray Halbritter, who’s also CEO of Oneida Nation Enterprises, which operates a casino and other businesses.

Halbritter acknowledged his tribe’s “Change the Mascot” campaign faces an uphill struggle. He refers to the mascot as “the R-word,” without explicitly stating it.

“Well, history is littered with people who have vowed never to change something — slavery, immigration, women’s rights — so we think one thing that’s really great about this country is when many people speak out, change can happen,” Halbritter said.

When asked about other team mascots such as the Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Kansas City Chiefs and Chicago Blackhawks, Halbritter cited how “redskin” is defined in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged online dictionary as “usually offensive.”

“Let’s be clear. The name, the R word, is defined in the dictionary as an offensive term. It’s a racial epithet. It’s a racial slur. I think there is a broader discussion to be had about using mascots generally and the damage it does to people and their self-identity. But certainly there’s no gray area on this issue,” he said.

Halbritter asserted the word was born out of hatred — and referred to the long, ugly history between the native people of the Americas and the colonizers from Europe who followed Columbus.

“Its origin is hated, use is hated, it was the name our people — that was used against our people when we were forced off our lands at gunpoint. It was a name that was used when our children were forced out of our homes and into boarding schools,” he said. “So, it has a sordid history. And it’s time for a change, and we hope that — and what’s great is when enough people do recognize that, change will come.”

Fans are sharply divided about the issue.

A non-scientific online poll by the Washington Post shows 43% saying the team should change its name. But 57% say no, keep it. One respondent said the term is “a racist holdover from another day, a time when Indians were depicted as violent, ignorant, savages (by) whites (who largely were equally violent, ignorant and savage).”

But another respondent referred to political correctness and said: “The liberal PC society has gotten out of control, if you don’t like the teams name THEN DON’T WATCH THEM…!”

Redskins attorney Lanny Davis said the mascot is “not about race, not about disrespect.”

At games, he joins fans in singing “Hail to the Redskins” because “it’s a song of honor, it’s a song of tribute.”

http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/12/us/redskins-controversy/index.html?hpt=hp_c2

katrina

A large number of Louisiana Republicans think President Barack Obama is to blame for the federal government’s poor response to Hurricane Katrina, according to a new Public Policy Polling survey released Wednesday — despite the fact that the storm occurred three years before he took office.

The Democratic-leaning polling firm, which provided its results to Talking Points Memo, found that 29 percent of Louisiana Republicans said Obama was responsible for the Katrina response. Twenty-eight percent put the blame on President George W. Bush, whose administration did in fact oversee the federal response to Katrina. Nearly half (44 percent) of the Louisiana Republicans polled didn’t know who to blame.

Bush was heavily criticized at the time for the government’s response to Katrina, a storm that caused 1,833 fatalities, damaged an estimated $81 billion in property, and ranks among the five deadliest hurricanes in United States history. He remained on vacation in Texas as the hurricane rocked the Gulf Coast, before belatedly cutting his trip short and returning to Washington. An infamous photo of Bush peering out the window of Air Force One at the wreckage was also attacked as insensitive, and the former president himself later acknowledged the photo was a “huge mistake” in a 2010 interview.

Bush’s approval ratings plunged in the months following the disaster, and his administration was dogged by suggestions that race was a factor in its response efforts.

During a live concert for hurricane relief, rapper Kanye West said, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” a moment Bush later said was the “most disgusting moment” of his presidency. Condoleezza Rice, who served as Bush’s secretary of state, recalled in her memoir that there was clearly “a race problem” during Katrina, although she disputed allegations that Bush or his administration were racist.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/21/obama-hurricane-katrina_n_3790612.html

1984

With news of government spying and surveillance dominating the headlines, sales of Orwell’s classic novel have shot up more than 3,000 percent on Amazon.com. The book currently comes in at No. 5 on the site’s Movers and Shakers list of the biggest sales gainers of the day, and had been as high as No. 4 earlier in the day. Sales of the book began to jump on Monday, when it rose to No. 19.

In “1984,” English author Orwell presents a dystopian future with a totalitarian, tyrannical government where “Big Brother is watching you.”

Separately, a dual edition of “1984” and Orwell’s other classic, “Animal Farm,” comes in at No. 11 on Amazon’s list.

Orwell died in 1950, just a year after “1984” was published.

http://news.msn.com/pop-culture/sales-of-george-orwells-1984-surge-on-amazon

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the attention of the It’s Interesting community.

drone-proof-burqa
As debate over the use of unmanned aerial vehicles in the U.S. rages on, a fashion designer introduces clothing that blocks drone-mounted infrared cameras.

As the U.S. government draws up plans to use surveillance drones in domestic airspace, opposition to what many consider an unwarranted and significant invasion of privacy is mounting across the country, from rural Virginia to techopolis Seattle. Although officials debate anti-drone legislation at federal, state and local levels, one man is fighting back with high-tech apparel.

A New York City privacy advocate-turned-urban-guerilla fashion designer is selling garments designed to make their wearers invisible to infrared surveillance cameras, particularly those on drones. And although Adam Harvey admits that his three-item Stealth Wear line of scarves and capes is more of a political statement than a money-making venture, the science behind the fashion is quite sound.

“Fighting drones is not my full-time job, but it could be,” says Harvey, an instructor of physical computing at Manhattan’s School of Visual Arts and the creator of the CV Dazzle project, which seeks to develop makeup and hairstyles that camouflage people from face-recognition cameras and software.

Harvey’s newest medium, metalized fabric, has been around for more than 20 years. It holds in body heat that would burn bright for infrared cameras—a characteristic that could prove attractive to those who do not want unmanned aerial vehicles spying on them.

Metalized fabric
Metal is very good at absorbing and scattering infrared light, says Cheng Sun, a Northwestern University assistant professor of mechanical engineering. In that sense there is nothing exotic in how metalized fabric works—it “would strongly attenuate the [infrared] light,” he says. The metal would dissipate heat to surroundings as well, making the wearer harder to pinpoint.

To date, the fabric has primarily been used in tape and gaskets to protect electronics and communications equipment from static electricity and electromagnetic interference, according to Larry Creasy, director of technology for metalized fabric-maker Laird Technologies, based in Saint Louis.

Here’s how metalizing works, at least at Laird: Woven fabric, commonly nylon or polyester, is coated with a special catalyst—a precious metal Creasy declined to specify—that helps copper bind to the fiber. Once dry, the fabric is submerged in a copper sulfate–plating bath and dried. A nickel sulfamate bath follows to help the finished fabric withstand the elements and abrasions. The result is a flexible, breathable fabric that can be cut with ordinary tools but that protects against electromagnetic interference and masks infrared radiation, Creasy says. The process adds weight to the original fabric. An untreated square yard of nylon weighs about 42.5 grams. Treated, the same patch weighs more than 70 grams.

The fashion
Harvey’s fabric is coated with copper, nickel and silver, a combination that gives his scarves, head-and-shoulders cloak and thigh-length “burqa” a silvery and “luxurious” feel. The material blocks cell signals, as well, adding an element of risk to tweeting, texting and other mobile activities, as the wearer must break cover to communicate.

Stealth Wear is sold only via a U.K. Web site. The burqa goes for about $2,300, the “hoodie” is $481 and the scarf is $565—luxury items, but so, too, is privacy today, Harvey says.

The impetus
The high cost and limited availability are significant drawbacks—Harvey says he’s only sold one Stealth Wear item online, a scarf. But the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) predicts 10,000 commercial drones will ply domestic airspace by 2017—almost twice the that of the U.S. Air Force’s current fleet of unmanned aircraft. The number of drones flying in the U.S. today is hard to pin down because not every company and agency that gets FAA approval to fly a drone actually puts one in the air. In fact, 1,428 private-sector and government requests have been approved since 2007, according to the FAA. A Los Angeles Times report states that 327 of those permits are still active. Meanwhile, President Obama signed a law in February 2012 that gives the FAA until September 2015 to draw up rules that dictate how law enforcement, the military and other entities may use drones in U.S. airspace.

As of October 2012, 81 law agencies, universities, an Indian tribal agency and other entities had applied to the FAA to fly drones, according to documents released by the FAA to the Electronic Freedom Frontier following a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Government entities as diverse as the U.S. Department of State and Otter Tail County, Minn., are among them.

Discomfort rising
Although Harvey’s anti-drone fashions are not currently flying off the shelves, he could soon find himself leading a seller’s market if recent events are any metric:

•The Charlottesville, Va., city council has passed a watered-down ordinance that asks the federal and commonwealth governments not to use drone-derived information in court. Proponents had sought to make the city drone-free (pdf).

•Virginia, Minnesota, Oregon, Montana, Arizona (pdf) and Idaho legislators are trying to at least regulate or even prohibit, drones in their skies.

•Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn returned the city’s two surveillance drones after a hostile public reception.

•A bipartisan pair of U.S. Representatives has introduced legislation to limit information-gathering by government-operated drones as well as prohibit weapons on law-enforcement and privately owned unmanned aerial vehicles.

Drone advocates defend the use of the technology as a surveillance tool. “We clearly need to do a better job of educating people about the domestic use of drones,” says Ben Gielow, government relations manager for the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. Gielow says U.S. voters must decide the acceptability of data collection from all sources, adding, “Ultimately, an unmanned aircraft is no different than gathering data from the GPS on your phone or from satellites.”

GPS does not use infrared cameras, however, and satellites are not at the center the current privacy debate brewing in Washington—factors that could make Harvey’s designs all the more fashionable.

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=drone-proof-anti-infrared-apparel&page=2

Malik Obama

A politician named Obama who is running for governor in Kenya can boast of one big claim to fame on the campaign trail: blood relations with the president of the United States.

Malik Obama — a half-brother of Barack Obama — is running for a governor’s position in the country’s nationwide elections on Monday, though he said he’s not sure what impact his relationship to the American president has on his campaign.

“I’m going into it as Malik Obama,” he said in a phone interview with The Associated Press from western Kenya. “I can’t run away from my name and association with my brother, but I have the feeling that people somewhat want to see who the brother of Obama is.”

The president’s relative even invokes the message that Barack Obama leaned on during his groundbreaking 2008 political campaign: Change. Malik Obama says his platform is poverty eradication, infrastructure development and industrialization.

“I hope that you all out there will support me and vote for me for this important position so that we can bring change to the county of Siaya,” Obama said at a recent campaign stop.

Kenyans on Monday will cast ballots for a wide range of regional offices, but the most crucial vote is for president. Monday is Kenya’s first nationwide election since the 2007 vote devolved into massive tribal violence that killed more than 1,000 people and displaced 600,000 from their homes.

The 54-year-old Malik Obama hopes to become the first governor of Kenya’s western county of Siaya. He is running as an independent candidate. Kenya’s new 2010 constitution created 47 new political divisions known as counties, to be headed by governors.

Obama is competing against candidates who are from well-funded parties, and the political newcomer may be in need of campaign cash. He asked an AP Television News freelance cameraman to contribute to his campaign. No contribution was given. Obama said he was asking for the individual to contribute, not for AP to contribute.

This is Malik Obama’s first run for office.

Barack Obama’s father was from Kenya and the U.S. president has several relatives in the country. Malik and Barack Obama have the same father but different mothers.

Read more: http://world.time.com/2013/03/01/president-obamas-half-brother-runs-for-office-in-kenya/#ixzz2MUZtgYfo

trump

Donald Trump sent a letter to Bill Maher Tuesday demanding $5 million in regards to a request Maher made recently on air that Trump complied with.

On Monday’s “Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” Maher said he would donate $5 million to the charity of Trump’s choice (Maher suggested Hair Club for Men) if the “Celebrity Apprentice” host and real estate mogul could prove he is not the “spawn of his mother having sex with an orangutan.” The comment, which Maher said jokingly, was a nod to Trump’s publicized announcement in October that he would donate $5 million to charity if President Barack Obama would release his college records.

On Tuesday, Trump’s lawyer sent the letter to Maher at CBS studios with the birth certificate attached, asking the “Real Time” host keep his word. Yahoo! News obtained the letter and accompanied birth certificate:

“I write on his behalf to accept your offer (made during the Jay Leno Show on January 7, 2013) that Mr. Trump prove he is not the ‘spawn of his mother having sex with an orangutan.’ ”

Attached hereto is a copy of Mr. Trump’s birth certificate, demonstrating that he is the son of Fred Trump, not an orangutan. Please remit the $5 million to Mr. Trump immediately and he will ensure that the money be donated to the following five charities in equal amounts: Hurricane Sandy Victims, The Police Athletic League, The American Cancer Society, The March of Dimes, and The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.”

In October 2012, Trump announced he had “something very,very big concerning the president of the United States” to announce, something that could “possibly” change the election. In a YouTube video, Trump offered a check of $5 million to a charity of Obama’s choice if he would only give up his college records and applications, and his passport applications and records. Obama did not turn over the asked papers.

Read more at http://www.enstarz.com/articles/11468/20130110/trump-demands-5-million-bill-maher-following-sex-orangutan-comment.htm#Th0KLWM8fTsuWQAW.99

Platinum-nugget

What if the U.S. Treasury minted a coin from $1 trillion worth of platinum?

Such a coin would weigh 42,778,918 pounds — the equivalent of nearly seven Saturn V rockets — and occupy 31,947 cubic feet.

What would this coin look like?

If it had the same proportions as the U.S. dollar coin, it would be roughly 80 feet wide and 6 feet thick. Though not a very practical coin, it would have the benefit of being really difficult to steal. And you could see it from space.

But commodity money disappeared a long time ago, so let’s say the government decides to mint an actual trillion-dollar coin, and makes it out of pure platinum at the same size as the U.S. silver dollar; though the coin would be worth $1 trillion, the platinum itself would only be worth a bit more than $1,200.

[Calculations assumed $1,593 per troy ounce of platinum.]

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2013/01/1-trillion-platinum-coin/