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Category Archives: A Problem

The French parliament has adopted a formal motion declaring burkas and other forms of Islamic dress to be “an affront to the nation’s values.” Some have accused criminals, from terrorists to shoplifters, of wearing veils to disguise themselves.

A ban, which could be introduced as early as the autumn, would make France the second country after Belgium to outlaw the Islamic veil in public places.

But many have criticised the anti-burka lobby, which includes the French President Nicolas Sarkozy, for stigmatising Muslim housewives.

Read the entire article at the Times Online UK


New York Magazine: City Shutters La Esquina
Aileen Gallagher

Cancel those La Esquina plans: The restaurant is temporarily closed. “The Department of Buildings has determined that conditions in this premises are imminently perilous to life.” According to photos submitted by a Grub Street tipster, it’s the restaurant itself that’s the source of the trouble. “It is hereby ordered that all persons occupying any part or parts of the structure located at CELLAR LEVEL (EATING AND DRINKING ESTABLISHMENT) vacate such … parts of the premises forthwith.”

A closer reading of the vacate order gives us pause: “There is imminent danger to life or public safety … in that at cellar level arranged for over 284 occupants with wood combustible ceilings and inadequate Egress (illegal Egress through intervening spaces on 1st floor.” But why now? La Esquina has always been in a combustible basement with inadequate egress. Either someone just got around to inspecting them, or the Department of Buildings is in a crackdown kind of mood today.

The Wall Street Journal: Facebook Glitch Exposed Private Chats

Facebook Inc. scrambled to fix a software flaw that gave users’ unintended access to their friends’ private instant messages.

Jessica Vascellaro has breaking news that Facebook says it is fixing a bug that permitted some users’ chat messages and pending friend requests to be made visible to their friends.

The popular Internet hangout Wednesday temporarily shut down its instant-messaging function while it investigated the problem and patched its system.

The Palo Alto, Calif., company said the bug was caused by an update to its software and was in effect “for a limited period of time,” which a spokesman described as “hours.”

The spokesman said the company was still investigating how many users had chats exposed and believes the number is small.

“Someone would have to go through multiple steps to see anything—log-in, go to their privacy settings, use the preview tool, type in a friends name,” he said.

Facebook has had its fair share of bugs, partly reflecting frequent changes and additions to the company’s website. But some incidents have escalated to major embarrassments, because of their potential to allow peeks at personal information that Facebook’s users may not have intended to be widely viewed.

In one incident earlier this year, Facebook misrouted the private messages of a small number of users.

The incidents don’t seem to be affecting the site’s growth. Last month, Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said the 400 million-person service was adding users at its fastest-ever rate.

But the slip-ups could continue to serve as fodder for critics and regulators investigating how Facebook handles its users’ data more broadly.

The latest bug, which also revealed a user’s pending friend requests, was buried in a feature that allows account holders to see whether certain parts of their profile are hidden or accessible to one of their friends.

Facebook designed the feature to help enhance privacy by allowing users to see how their profile appears to others. But some users began reporting Wednesday that while accessing the feature, they were able to see other users’ live chats.

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Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the opening keynote address at the f8 Developer Conference last month.

News of the problem was reported by technology blog TechCrunch, which said it had been tipped off to the issue by a Facebook user.

Criticism of Facebook’s privacy practices keeps piling up. A new feature that allows users to indicate information they “Like” on the Web and share the information back on Facebook has drawn criticism from privacy advocates and lawmakers.

Some have voiced concerns that consumers aren’t aware of how the information will be shared. Facebook has been defending the feature, saying users must decide whether they want use the “Like” feature to note other Web sites.

Peter Eckersley, senior staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation in San Francisco, says that the site has had a lot of “grave privacy bugs” over the years.

While Facebook has gotten better about plugging them, he notes that the most recent problem was particularly troubling because a user could “really exploit it by accident.”

A Facebook spokesman said the company will “continue to invest tremendous resources— both in terms of top engineering talent, infrastructure and software—to protect people’s information and to enforce the privacy decisions make on Facebook.”

“It is important to recognize that no system is perfect and no company avoids errors all of the time,” he continued, “but we are committed to investigating all mistakes and to learning from them.”

AP: Arizona Faces Boycott Calls After Immigration Law

POLITICO: Napolitano: Arizona law ‘a shame’

Wall Street Journal: Napolitano Criticizes Immigration Law

OPED: New York Times: The Borders We Deserve

FOX: Clinton Says Arizona Immigration Law Invites Racial Profiling

CBS: Dobbs: Protests Against Ariz. Law Just “Theater” Says Nationwide Rallies Called for Saturday Are Taking on Measure That’s Now “Pristine,” With New Amendments in Place

Reuters: BP ready to pay “legitimate” oil spill claims-CEO

Huffington Post: Louisiana Oil Spill Photos

CNN: Oil slick awaits New Orleans’ new mayor

New York Times: Safety Fears Halt Fishing in Areas Affected by Spill

Greenpeace: BP Deepwater Disaster and Gulf Oil Spill

Want to volunteer? Contact Greenpeace

VENICE, La. — Another week of oil pouring from the seafloor. That is the best-case scenario for the Gulf Coast, where dead sea turtles washed ashore and a massive rust-colored slick continued to swell from an uncontrolled gusher spewing into the water.

BP PLC was preparing a system never tried before at such depths to siphon away the geyser of crude from a blown-out well a mile under Gulf of Mexico waters. However, the plan to lower 74-ton, concrete-and-metal boxes being built to capture the oil and siphon it to a barge waiting at the surface will need at least another six to eight days to get it in place.

Crews continued to lay boom in what increasingly feels like a futile effort to slow down the spill, with all ideas to contain the flow failing so far.

“I’ve been in Pensacola and I am very, very concerned about this filth in the Gulf of Mexico,” Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said at a fundraiser for his U.S. Senate campaign Sunday night. “It’s not a spill, it’s a flow. Envision sort of an underground volcano of oil and it keeps spewing over 200,000 gallons every single day, if not more.”

Fishermen from the mouth of the Mississippi River to the Florida Panhandle got the news that more than 6,800 square miles of federal fishing areas were closed, fracturing their livelihood for at least 10 days and likely more just as the prime spring season was kicking in. The slick also was precariously close to a key shipping lane that feeds goods and materials to the interior of the U.S. by the Mississippi River.

Even if the well is shut off in a week, fishermen and wildlife officials wonder how long it will take for the Gulf to recover. Some compare it to the Hurricane Katrina that Louisiana is still recovering from after nearly five years.

“My kids will be talking about the effect of this when they’re my age,” said 41-year-old Venice charter boat captain Bob Kenney.

Read the full Story at The Huffington Post

AP: Are school lunches a national security threat?

WASHINGTON — School lunches have been called many things, but a group of retired military officers is giving them a new label: national security threat.

That’s not a reference to the mystery meat served up in the cafeteria line either. The retired officers are saying that school lunches have helped make the nation’s young people so fat that fewer of them can meet the military’s physical fitness standards, and recruitment is in jeopardy.

A new report being released Tuesday says more than 9 million young adults, or 27 percent of all Americans ages 17 to 24, are too overweight to join the military. Now, the officers are advocating for passage of a wide-ranging nutrition bill that aims to make the nation’s school lunches healthier.

The officers’ group, Mission: Readiness, was appearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday with Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The military group acknowledges that other things keep young adults out of the armed services, such as a criminal record or the lack of a high school diploma. But weight problems that have worsened over the past 15 years are now the leading medical reason that recruits are rejected.

Although all branches of the military now meet or exceed recruitment goals, retired Navy Rear Adm. James Barnett Jr., a member of the officers group, says the obesity trend could affect that.

“When over a quarter of young adults are too fat to fight, we need to take notice,” Barnett said. He noted that national security in the year 2030 is “absolutely dependent” on reversing child obesity rates.

Recruitment isn’t the only problem posed by obesity. According to the report, the government spends tens of millions of dollars every year to train replacements for service members discharged because of weight problems.

This isn’t the first time the military has gotten involved in the debate over school lunches. During World War II, military leaders had the opposite problem, reporting that many recruits were rejected because of stunted growth and inadequate nutrition. After the war, military leaders pushed Congress to establish the national school lunch program so children would grow up healthier.

The program was established in 1946, “as a measure of national security,” according to the original bill language.

Today, the group is urging Congress to eliminate junk food and high-calorie beverages from schools, put more money into the school lunch program and develop new strategies that help children develop healthier habits.

The school lunch bill, currently awaiting a Senate vote, would establish healthier options for all foods in schools, including vending machine items. The legislation would spend $4.5 billion more over 10 years for nutrition programs.

The Army is already doing its part to catch the problem earlier, working with high schoolers and interested recruits to lose weight before they are eligible for service, says U.S. Army Recruiting Command’s Mark Howell. He added that he had to lose 10 pounds himself before he joined the military.

“This is the future of our Army we are looking at when we talk about these 17- to 24-year-olds,” Howell said. “The sad thing is a lot of them want to join but can’t.”

USA Today: Facing unfit recruits, military leaders target food in schools

Has anyone else seen the train wreck that is High Society (a show on the CW) and the clowns that make up it’s cast? It’s beyond horrifying. Not only is the show unwatchable but the cast consists of ignorant, uneducated, red-neck, bigots cloaked in Chanel dresses and Louboutain heels. Yes, I meant what I said. The most infuriating is Jule Kirby. Her parent’s should be beyond appalled by her behavior. To see her in action watch her here. Trust me this video won’t disappoint.

The New York Observer: CW Says They Couldn’t Write Jules Kirby’s Lines Even If They Tried

The folks at Gawker hate it too: High Society: You Should Never Make Love in This Town Again

The Daily Beast : The 40 Deadliest Fast-Food Meals

#1 Wendy’s The Baconator Triple — Calories: 1330

#40, Chicken McNuggets (6 piece) — Calories: 280

Growth of Unpaid Internships May Be Illegal, Officials Say
By Steven Greenhouse

With job openings scarce for young people, the number of unpaid internships has climbed in recent years, leading federal and state regulators to worry that more employers are illegally using such internships for free labor.

Convinced that many unpaid internships violate minimum wage laws, officials in Oregon, California and other states have begun investigations and fined employers. Last year, M. Patricia Smith, then New York’s labor commissioner, ordered investigations into several firms’ internships. Now, as the federal Labor Department’s top law enforcement official, she and the wage and hour division are stepping up enforcement nationwide.

Many regulators say that violations are widespread, but that it is unusually hard to mount a major enforcement effort because interns are often afraid to file complaints. Many fear they will become known as troublemakers in their chosen field, endangering their chances with a potential future employer.

The Labor Department says it is cracking down on firms that fail to pay interns properly and expanding efforts to educate companies, colleges and students on the law regarding internships.

Read the complete article here: New York Times