October 4th, 2009


States That Allow Domestic Violence as Pre-existing Condition Claiming That There is No Problem...

Domestic violence as pre-existing condition? 8 states still allow it

Eight states and the District of Columbia don't have laws that specifically bar insurance companies from using domestic violence as a pre-existing condition to deny health coverage, according to a study from the National Women's Law Center.

The states are Idaho, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming. The study by the nonpartisan, nonprofit center focused on individual coverage, not group coverage.

Some of the states, particularly North Carolina, argue that other statutes on their books address the issue.

At least one of the health care bills circulating in Congress includes a specific federal prohibition on the use of domestic violence as a pre-existing condition. Other bills include blanket bans on pre-existing conditions.

Though domestic violence as a pre-existing condition isn't thought to be as widespread as it once was, lawmakers say it's yet another example of the need to overhaul the health care system.

"This is insane," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who's been trying to convince Congress to address the issue for roughly a decade.

Murray said she couldn't remember exactly when she first learned of it, but sometime in the 1990s she recalls a private conversation she had with a woman who broke down as she explained that she couldn't flee an abusive relationship because her children were covered under her husband's health care plan and she couldn't get her own. Another woman told Murray that she didn't report that she'd been battered because she feared losing her coverage.

"It infuriates me an insurance executive can sit in his safe world and decide how to make money," Murray said. "For them it's all about the bottom line. Abused women don't have a voice."

First lady Michelle Obama also took note, saying in a speech last month that insurance companies continue to practice gender discrimination.

Much of the evidence that domestic violence has been a factor in denying coverage is dated.

An informal survey by the House Judiciary Committee in 1994 found that half of the 16 largest insurers in the country considered domestic violence in deciding whether to approve health coverage. The Pennsylvania insurance Department reported a year or so later that nearly one out of four insurance companies factored in domestic violence when deciding whether to issue or renew policies.

Lisa Codispoti, senior counsel for the National Women's Law Center, said it was hard to know whether insurance companies had changed because they closely guarded their underwriting standards, and battered women had always been reluctant to speak out publicly.

"We don't know how many insurance companies still have that policy," she said, "but we are talking about an industry that once charged a race-based premium."

Codispoti said that while insurance companies didn't mention domestic violence outright in health policy applications, they could piece it together from such things as medical records.

A spokesman for an insurance industry trade group, Robert Zirkelbach, said he wasn't aware of any companies that used domestic violence as a pre-existing condition.

"We believe strongly that no one should be denied coverage because they are victims of domestic violence," he said.

Yet Murray and others said there was plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest that the practice continued.
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Comedian Frankie Boyle has quit as a panellist on satirical show Mock The Week "due to other television commitments", the BBC has announced.


A spokesman for the BBC Two programme, which has been commissioned for a further two series, said Boyle had been "a brilliant member of the team".

"The door is always open for him to come back," the spokesman added.

Dara O'Briain will continue to host the show which pitches two teams of comics against each other.

Boyle is leaving the show after seven series as a panellist.

In case the mod who decides whether this gets through or not is unfamiliar with MtW, it's like if, say John Hodgman left the Daily Show or something. So it's relevant to the comm's interests, dw. :)
Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

I have no sympathy for this 'American' Dad

Dad in Japan custody battle thought wife would take kids

On February 12, 2009, Christopher Savoie received an e-mail from his ex-wife that he had feared would come.

About a month after their bitter divorce, in which Noriko Savoie promised as part of the agreement she wouldn't return to Japan with their children to live, she threatened to do just that.

"It's very difficult to watch kids becoming American and losing Japanese identity,'' Noriko Savoie wrote her ex-husband in the e-mail, according to Tennessee court documents. "I am at the edge of the cliff. I cannot hold it anymore if you keep bothering me.''

Now she is in Japan with the children. Christopher Savoie sits in a Japanese jail accused of trying to kidnap them.

He practically predicted it would end this way.

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Now, for Noriko's side:

Friend: Japanese woman who took kids felt trapped

FRANKLIN, Tennessee (AP) -- A friend says Noriko Savoie felt trapped -- she was a Japanese citizen new to the U.S. whose American husband had just served her divorce papers.

Her disintegrating marriage likely would have ended with little notice had she not fled to Japan, where her ex-husband was arrested this week trying to get the children she took with her into the diplomatic protection of a U.S. consulate.

Noriko Savoie did not have court permission to bring the children to the country where they had spent most of their lives, and Christopher Savoie says he didn't do anything wrong when he tried to get them back.

Court records and conversations with a friend, Miiko Crafton, make it clear that Noriko Savoie was hurt and angry from the divorce and chafing at the cultural differences.

She had no income when she moved to the U.S. in June 2008, divorce court filings show, and appears to have been totally dependent on Christopher Savoie, who was still legally her husband but was involved with another woman.

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And now, the new wife:

Video of his new wife talking about things. Notice how her facts are very different from the ones given everywhere else (ie, Noriko wanted to come to US for the divorce, even though Noriko wanted to do it in the US) and how they superimposed the Japanese battle flag over Noriko's face, so her face is red. Yeah, that's some Othering right there.


So let me get this straight...you, your wife, and your kids are all Japanese citizens (Savoie became a Japanese citizen, and Japan does not allow dual-citizenship past the age of 20, Noriko has permanent residency in the US, and the kids both have Japanese citizenship and lived almost all of their lives in Japan), you never bothered to get a Japanese divorce and in fact made your wife come to the US for the divorce when she would have done it in the US plus she thought the two of you were going to try to work things out, you cheated on her wife and served her divorce papers almost as soon as she landed, treated her like shit with things like not giving her money for English lessons, you tried to bar her going back to her home country even for visits, had custody changed retroactively, and then you literally snatch the kids from in front of her as she's taking them to school, and run for the embassy...of a country you are no longer a citizen of.

To me? It sounds like this is totally trying to play the American system because he knows he wouldn't get jack under the Japanese...and that maybe he doesn't really deserve jack. It seems like he was trying to take advantage of the American system, she saw what was happening, and outmaneuvered him.

The CNN articles are very slanted (they never mentioned until this last article that Savoie didn't get sole custody until after Noriko left with the kids; before that SHE had custody, or mention all of the grade-A a-hole behaviour he engaged in; plus that coloring job they did on her face), and reading between the lines....yeah. Noriko may technically have been in the wrong when she took her kids, but I can see why she did. Neither of them is "right" and he tried to do the exact same thing she did.

And he's a Japanese citizen now. That means he should have to play by Japanese rules. Suck it up.
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Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Controversial former Japanese finance minister found dead

Controversial former Japanese finance minister found dead

TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- Former Japanese Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa, who resigned from his post after appearing intoxicated at a news conference earlier this year, was found dead in his home Sunday, police said.

The cause of death was not clear and no will was found, police said.

Nakagawa, 56, resigned in February, three days after he appeared intoxicated at the G7 news conference in Rome, Italy. Japan's prime minister quickly appointed Kaoru Yosano, the economics minister, to replace Nakagawa.

Nakagawa's resignation followed an announcement by Japan's main opposition party that it would introduce a motion to censure him.

He had apologized for his behavior, but denied that it was the result of heavy drinking. Nakagawa said he had alcoholic drinks on his flight to Rome and during the G7 luncheon, but that the real culprit was too much medicine taken because he wasn't feeling well, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported.

In video of the news conference, Nakagawa responds slowly to reporters questions, slurring his words. At one point, he closes his eyes.

The G7 meeting brought together finance ministers from the world's leading industrialized nations in Rome.


To refresh your memories, it's this guy:

I'm thinking maybe suicide. :(
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(no subject)

 Greene: Gays' good deeds not enough for church

Jesus hung out with a crowd of day laborers.

That's why the Catholic Church long has fed them, helped find them jobs and homes, and fought for their rights.

But solidarity met its limits last week when the Archdiocese of Denver broke trust with a group of day labor advocates for accepting funding from gays and lesbians. The church can't bring itself to contain its homophobia, even for an hour, to lease a banquet room to El Centro Humanitario.

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Who Is Killing The African-American Sitcom?

With dozens of new sitcoms premiering on major networks this fall, only two center on African-American families. Both programs, Brothers and The Cleveland Show, were picked up by Fox, and The Cleveland Show is voiced by mostly white actors. So how can it be that in an era when our country’s cultural balance is shifting faster than ever underneath the joint leadership of our first African-American president and American Idol’s soul judge Randy Jackson, black sitcoms are rapidly approaching extinction? And more importantly, who is responsible for their demise?

There was a period after NBC premiered Sanford and Son in 1972 when networks, inspired by the program’s ratings boon, hungrily sought out Norman Lear-produced series featuring an occasionally argumentative African-American patriarch. Thus, CBS’s Good Times and The Jeffersons (which is still the longest running black sitcom) were born. The growing market for minority casts extended through the ’80s and ’90s, when networks continuously scrambled to cash in on the next stage of black sitcom evolution. NBC hit ratings gold again with A Different World, the culturally significant monolith Cosby Show which bridged color-sensitive audiences when it earned five seasons worth of number-one Nielsen ratings, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. ABC scored with Diff’rent Strokes and Family Matters; CBS bought Family Matters and developed Cosby. You get the picture.

At some point in the early ’90s though, just as Fresh Prince was cresting in ratings, the three major networks shut down their black sitcom production trade. Maybe the abrupt stop was due to a focus group determining that the “trend” had been exhausted or just that the networks rode their plotlines into the airwave graves. Whichever the cause of death, Fox, the WB and UPN snatched up the carcasses and resuscitated them with fresh writers and talent over the late ’90s and early ’00s for notable hits like Living Single and The Bernie Mac Show.

Then in 2006, the genre hiccuped again when WB and UPN, the most supportive networks of African-American sitcoms, merged into the CW. After the CBS/Warner unit aired Everybody Hates Chris, the network’s programming ran lily white (One Tree Hill, Gossip Girl, Melrose Place and 90210) despite the successes of its more diverse parents.

Since The CW’s homogenization, black sitcoms have mostly been exiled to the cable ghettos. BET airs the shows for its largely African-American audience, and TBS has discovered rich ratings with Tyler Perry’s House of Payne. But what happens to the sitcoms when TBS runs out of gas with House of Payne and BET’s declining viewership results in network disintegration, especially considering the increase in cost-efficient reality programming? The prognosis is simple: The African-American sitcom is the latest host for network parasites and will not have long before it is pronounced dead.

Saucy TV

I remember a short discussion about this going on in the comments once. I'm curious to hear everyone's thoughts.

ETA: Went and found the ONTD post on this article here. Peeps have been saying it was surprisingly unwanky! I'll go and read the 1300+ comments there when I have the time :)
Helena Cain and Gina Inviere
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Bell acquitted in S. Salt Lake kidnapping case

David James Bell, center, celebrates with his attorneys Robert Kraft and Susanne Gustin on Friday after being found innocent of kidnapping in 3rd District Court. (Jeffrey D. Allred / Deseret News)

After acquitting David James "D.J." Bell of kidnapping two South Salt Lake children, jurors were asking why the case ever came to trial.

"We agreed, as a jury, that [the four-day trial] cost taxpayers at least $100,000, and our time was wasted, as well," juror Natasha Jorgensen told The Tribune .

"We were appalled because it had come this far," she said. "There was just no evidence."

Added Jorgensen: "I would hate to have a neighbor kid come to my house and become a D.J. Bell myself."

The 3rd District Court jury of five men and three woman took less than three hours to acquit Bell of two counts of first-degree felony child kidnapping and one count of second-degree felony burglary.

Bell, 31, was accused of taking two children, ages 2 and 4, from the home of his next-door neighbor -- where a loud drinking party had been going all night -- to his home on the morning of July 4, 2008.

But defense attorney Susanne Gustin said the wrong person was put on trial.

The defense team has long maintained that relatives of the two children, who severely beat Bell and his gay partner, Daniel Fair, should be prosecuted for burglary and assault.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office had previously declined to file charges against Bell's attackers. But prosecutor Alicia Cook said Friday that her office will take another look at assault charges, now that complications imposed by the kidnapping trial have been resolved.

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You can check out Bell and Fair's blog for more info.

tw: mumspiration

Interesting. [now with 100% less embedding fail]

N.Y. man accused of tweeting police actions at protests
Sunday, October 04, 2009

A self-described New York City anarchist, whose home was raided last week, is accused of tweeting the location of police officers to protesters trying to evade them during the G-20 summit.

Pennsylvania State Police arrested Elliot Madison, 41, on Sept. 24 in a motel room in Indiana Township, alleging that he used Twitter to direct the movement of protesters and inform them about law enforcement actions at last month's summit. He was freed on $30,000 to await a hearing Oct. 13 in Municipal Court on charges of hindering apprehension, criminal use of a communication facility, and possessing instruments of crime.

The New York Post yesterday reported that documents filed in federal court in New York by Mr. Madison's attorney said FBI agents executed a search warrant Thursday at his home in Queens. Agents seized items including computers, political writings, anarchist literature, gas masks and a pound of liquid mercury, according to the Post. His attorney argued that the search was illegal and sought the return of the property.


I had no idea that was illegal. I followed the various protests and police actions largely via Twitter (#g20 hashtag if anyone feels like searching), and there were multiple people tweeting information from police scanners as well as giving out links to streaming audio of the scanners. Of course, it worked the other way too, with protesters giving locations for convergence via Twitter and that then getting picked up on by the cops (who were heard on the scanner mentioning getting intel from tweets). This article makes it sound like there was one particular mastermind directing the actions of everyone from afar, and that was definitely not what I was watching happen (though there could have been some seekrit hashtag that all this was taking place with without anyone else seeing). There were at least 4 separate users tweeting what they were hearing from the police band and I didn't see anyone actually giving out instructions based on those, unless you count, "Um, you're about to get surrounded, please be careful" as a command.

ABC News: Georgia High School Bars Religious Banners at Football Games

Georgia High School Bars Religious Banners at Football Games

Students, Community Disappointed by Superintendent Decision to Prohibit Biblical Banners at Games


Oct. 3, 2009—

The Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe High School football team took to the field for Friday night's game with a show of solidarity, bursting through a banner held by the school's cheerleaders as they always do, only this banner had no biblical verse on it.
The Warriors used to begin each home game by crashing through a gigantic banner bearing an inspirational quotation from the Bible, such as "In God I have put my trust. I shall not be afraid."
Staring shortly after Sept. 11, 2001 to boost community spirit, it had become a popular tradition at this school tucked away in the Northwestern corner of Georgia. That tradition was abruptly ended last week after the parent of one of the football players told the superintendent someone might file a lawsuit over it. The superintendent agreed.
"It broke my heart to have to tell those girls that they could not display that message on the football field. It was hard to be the bearer of bad news. This is the law, and we will follow the law," said Denia Reese, superintendent for Catoosa County public schools.

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I am especially interested in this story because this is the high school my nephews will be attending within a couple of years. I agree with the decision to remove the signs, which is an unpopular opinion around this area of the country. What are your thoughts?

Video at the source.

I don't understand hate for public libraries

Telling her mother that she wanted to come to the aid of a library under attack, 11-year-old Sydney Sabbagha stood at the podium before the Oak Brook village board.

"I used to go to the library knowing there were people there to help me find a book. Now there is no one to help me," Sydney said solemnly. "It will never be the same without the people you fired."

Sydney nestled back into her seat, but that didn't stop 69-year-old criminal attorney Constantine "Connie" Xinos from boldly putting her in her place.

"Those who come up here with tears in their eyes talking about the library, put your money where your mouth is," Xinos shot back. He told Sydney and others who spoke against the layoffs of the three full-time staffers (including the head librarian and children's librarian) and two part-timers to stop "whining" and raise the money themselves.

"I don't care that you guys miss the librarian, and she was nice, and she helped you find books," Xinos told them.

"Don't cry crocodile tears about people who are making $100,000 a year wiping tables and putting the books back on the shelves," Xinos smirked, apparently referencing the fired head librarian, who has advanced degrees and made $98,676 a year. He said Oak Brook had to "stop indulging people in their hobbies" and "their little, personal, private wants."

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As a public librarian in the West Chicago Suburbs this fills me with rage. My library is such an important resource for my village. I'm sure the library needs to seriously work on their budget but to shut it down completely just seems unthinkable.


Did you spell that right?

Here's an amusing one. The upmarket British supermarket chain Waitrose is pulling its ads from Fox News (you can get Fox News in Britain on some digital services) because of customer complaints about the Glenn Beck show.

Waitrose's customers were reportedly incensed by "this particular form of rightwing cant".

Reading the comments left on the linked news report, some of the more snarkastic commenters have made observations like this:

I guess those who patronise Waitrose write longhand and don't have access to a spellchecker.


I think that's how you pronounce it in Chelsea.

Glenn Beck: A rightwing cant

EDIT: Okay, I think I need to add some clarification as half the people commenting don't seem to get the joke. The commenters on the news site are sarcastically suggesting "cant" is a misspelling/mispronunciation - just change one of the vowels and you get a word that your mother would wash your mouth out with soap and water if you said it out loud. There may be some cultural confusion here as the news story is from a UK site and "the c-word that isn't cant" tends to be more often used in the UK as a term of abuse to describe men rather than women. Hence the suggestion that Glenn Beck is a "rightwing cant".

Dammit, jokes just aren't funny if you have to explain them!