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Students at George Mason University organize graduation walkout on Apartheid profiteer Shari Arison

gmu walkout
© Haaretz
Students Against Israel Apartheid campaign, Virginia, December 2013.
Tomorrow, December 19th, George Mason University is presenting renown billionaire Apartheid profiteer Shari Arison, member of the Arison settlement-building family and Israel's richest woman, an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the university's winter graduation ceremony. Arison will also be a speaker at the event.

George Mason University Students Against Israeli Apartheid (GMU SAIA) as well as Craig Willse, Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies, have authored an open letter (below) stating GMU's name is being used to "whitewash the activities of the Arison Group" diminishing "the academic autonomy and reputation of George Mason" and undermining the possibility "for teaching, learning, and practicing social justice on our campus."

Haaretz:

Students Against Israeli Apartheid wrote a letter accusing the Arison Group of involvement "in the illegal occupation and colonization of Palestine ... and turns the repression, discrimination and displacement of the Palestinian people into profit." The letter charges the company's various holdings with offering mortgages in the settlements, mining for minerals in an occupied portion of the Dead Sea, financing the Jerusalem's light rail, construction at checkpoints and the separation barrier, and involvement in the Bedouin resettlement plan by financing a new military compound in the Negev. The letter also says Israeli Arabs are discriminated against at branches of Arison's Bank Hapoalim.

In their opinion, the connection with Arison runs counter to GMU's declared values and hurts its reputation. "Honoring Arison," they state in an open letter, "makes Mason appear to be a PR machine for robber baron billionaires, rather than an autonomous public research university."

No Entry

The French LICRA: a modern book burner ?

Citoyens Effaçons La LICRA
© unknown

The judge ordered on Wednesday, November 13, at the request of the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism ( Licra ), the prohibition of a book and partial censorship of four others for anti-semitism. Those books were edited by essayist Alain Soral. Anthology of words against Jews, Judaism and Zionism by Paul-Éric Blanrue published in 2013 and sold on the Kontre Kulture editions website, must be removed from sale "within a month", according to the decision.

Some parts of the four other works from the nineteenth and twentieth century, republished by the publishing company will be removed: Jewish France by Edouard Drumont, Salvation through the Jews by Leon Bloy, The International Jew by Henry Ford and The Controversy of Zion by Douglas Reed.

This sentence is a first in France about the exceptionality of its extent and the violation of a number of principles yet established on freedom of opinion and expression, the retroactivity of laws or the necessary transmission of historical knowledge.

Bell

The case that could topple Obamacare

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© Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
A little-known challenge wending through the system may represent detractors’ last best hope of quashing the law
Obamacare may have its problems, including more bugs than you can find in the cornfields of Nebraska, but its legal worries were meant to end after the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate, the heart of the Affordable Care Act.

Now, as the technologists charged with making healthcare.gov work report progress, lawyers are re-entering the fray. A little-heard of challenge currently making its way through the court system may represent opponents' last best hope of, as they are fond of saying, driving a stake through the heart of the law.

It all started in 2011, when Jonathan H. Adler, a conservative law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, shot an email to his friend Michael Cannon, a health policy expert at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. Adler thought he had spotted an error in Obamacare that could unravel a significant portion of the law.

At issue are the federal subsidies for individuals buying insurance in their state's health care exchanges. The law stipulates that those subsidies should be allotted for plans purchased "through an Exchange established by the State under Section 1311" (italics added), a reference to the section of the law that establishes state-run exchanges.

Bomb

Fightin' Words! U.S. Army seeks removal of Lee, 'Stonewall' Jackson honors

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Confederate Gen. Thomas Jonathan 'Stonewall' Jackson (L) and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee
The U.S. Army War College, which molds future field generals, has begun discussing whether it should remove its portraits of Confederate generals - including those of Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.

Nestled in rural Pennsylvania on the 500-acre Carlisle Barracks, the war college is conducting an inventory of all its paintings and photographs with an eye for rehanging them in historical themes to tell a particular Army story.

During the inventory, an unidentified official - not the commandant, Maj. Gen. Anthony A. Cucolo III - asked the administration why the college honors two generals who fought against the United States, college spokeswoman Carol Kerr said.

"I do know at least one person has questioned why we would honor individuals who were enemies of the United States Army," Ms. Kerr said. "There will be a dialogue when we develop the idea of what do we want the hallway to represent."

She said one faculty member took down the portraits of Lee and Jackson and put them on the floor as part of the inventory process. That gave rise to rumors that the paintings had been removed.

Sheriff

Cop in trouble for alleged anti-Obama rant on Facebook

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© RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images
The Westchester County village of Pleasantville has placed a police officer on administrative leave, after he was allegedly caught making a racist rant - reportedly about President Barack Obama - on Facebook.

In a statement, Pleasantville police Chief Richard D. Love reported that the officer had been placed on leave and relieved of his duties following the alleged rant, which was posted using an alias.

"Such statements are totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated," Love said.

Love said the department has launched an investigation that could result in disciplinary proceedings against the officer and ultimately his dismissal from the force.

Heart - Black

Blind man who survived getting hit by subway must give up dog that saved his life

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© JOHN MINCHILLO/AP
Cecil Williams pets his guide dog Orlando in his hospital bed after he fainted and fell onto the subway tracks Tuesday in at the 125th St. station in New York.
Cecil Williams, 60, and his black Labrador retriever, Orlando, 11, fell onto the tracks from the A train platform at 125th St. - the faithful guide dog trying valiantly to save its master, who escaped with minor injuries. Now, unable to afford to care for Orlando, Williams says he must put him up for adoption.

It was the miracle under 125th St.

A blind man and his loyal service dog fell from a subway platform in Harlem Tuesday morning and together ducked beneath an arriving train without a second to spare - suffering little more than a laceration between them.

Orlando, a black Lab, stood by Cecil Williams in the railbed after the 60-year-old Brooklynite fainted and tumbled off of a northbound A train platform at the 125th St. station.

Williams was dazed. The train was quickly rounding the corner into the station and transit flagman Larmont Smith was screaming for him to lie down in the trough between the rails.

X

Boycott Reddit: Site bans truth about Global Warming!

West Antarctic Ice Sheet
© unknown
A content editor on Reddit's science forum wrote Monday that the site has banned climate-change skeptics, and asks why more news outlets haven't done the same.

"About a year ago, we moderators became increasingly stringent with deniers," Reddit content editor Nathan Allen wrote in grist. "When a potentially controversial submission was posted, a warning would be issued stating the rules for comments (most importantly that your comment isn't a conspiracy theory) and advising that further violations of the rules could result in the commenter being banned from the forum."

Allen explains that climate change became an ironically heated topic among commenters on Reddit's science forum, /r/science, which he described as "a window into the Ivory Tower" for "non-scientists" to connect with experts like himself.

Stock Down

Facebook, earning more than $1 billion in revenue, won't pay any taxes on its income this year - will get refund from taxpayers - and other gov waste...

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© AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
While the Senate debates the bipartisan budget plan, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a longtime deficit hawk, outlines his annual “Wastebook,” which points a critical finger at billions of dollars in questionable government spending, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Facebook, the hot technology company that is earning more than $1 billion in revenue, won't pay any taxes on its income this year and instead probably will get a major refund from federal taxpayers, according to Sen. Tom Coburn's annual roundup of wasteful spending.

Among the nearly $30 billion of unnecessary spending that the Oklahoma Republican identified in this year's "Wastebook" were taxpayer dollars going to buy human urine, to purchase crystal goblets at the State Department, and to pay $18,000 apiece to "pillownauts" - people whom NASA recruited to lie on a bed for two straight months.

The book was released Tuesday morning, minutes before Mr. Coburn and fellow senators took a key test vote on a budget agreement that will boost spending in 2014, going back on a 2011 deal that was supposed to limit discretionary spending to less than $1 trillion.

People 2

Number of American atheists doubled since 2007, but more still believe in witches or UFOs

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© Shutterstock
About one-fourth of Americans say they're not religious at all, a figure that has nearly doubled in six years, but that is still fewer than the number of people who believe in witches and alien spacecraft.

A new Harris Poll found that 74 percent of U.S. adults believe in God, but that percentage has dropped from 82 percent who claimed religious faith in previous polls conducted over the past eight years.

Absolute certainty in God's existence dropped to 54 percent, nine percentage points fewer than in 2003, and just 19 percent of those polled described themselves as very religious.

Four in 10 respondents said they were somewhat religious, down from 49 percent in 2007, while 23 percent of Americans claimed no religious faith at all, up from 12 percent in 2007.

Belief in Darwin's theory of evolution rose from 42 percent to 47 percent over that same period - more than those who believe in ghosts (42 percent), creationism and UFOs (36 percent), astrology (29 percent), witches (26 percent) and reincarnation (24 percent).

Wine n Glass

Ethan Couch, 'Affluenza' teen, facing 5 lawsuits

ethan crouch

Ethan Crouch
Ethan Couch's troubles aren't over yet.

On Dec. 10, the Texas 16-year-old was sentenced to a decade of probation after killing four people while driving drunk. During his trial, a psychologist called by the defense testified that Couch suffers from "affluenza," meaning that on the night of the crash he did not understand the consequences of his actions because of his privileged upbringing. Prosecutors had sought a maximum sentence of 20 years.

Couch is facing five lawsuits brought by families of the crash victims. The suits also target Couch's father, Fred Couch, as well as Fred's company, Cleburne Metal Works, which owned the pickup Couch was driving during the fatal wreck.

Comment:
So now a 'privileged upbringing' constitutes a legitimate courtroom defense? Ethan Crouch is facing 5 lawsuits, but why isn't he facing significant jail time? 4 people are dead because of his 'failure to understand' how to safely operate a motor vehicle or the illegality and inherent dangers involved in driving while drunk - important lessons he apparently failed to learn during his 'privileged upbringing'.