October 5th, 2009

Norway tops human development index

PARIS, Oct 4: Norway has made it to the number one spot in the annual United Nations human development index but China has taken the biggest strides in improving the well-being of its citizens.

The index compiled by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) ranks 182 countries based on such criteria as life expectancy, literacy, school enrolment and gross domestic product (GDP) per capita.

Norway, Australia and Iceland took the first three spots while Niger ranks at the very bottom, just below Afghanistan.

China moved up seven places on the list to rank as the 92nd most developed country due to improvements in education as well as income levels and life expectancy.

Colombia and Peru rose five spaces to rank 77th and 78th while France — which was not part of the top 10 last year — returns to the upper echelons by moving up three places to number 8.

The UNDP said the index highlighted the grave disparities between rich and poor countries.

A child born in Niger can expect to live to just over 50, which is 30 years less than a child born in Norway. For every dollar a person earns in Niger, 85 dollars are earned in Norway.

This year’s index was based on data from 2007 and does not take into account the impact of the global economic crisis.

“Many countries have experienced setbacks over recent decades, in the face of economic downturns, conflict-related crises and the HIV and AIDS epidemic,” said the UN development report’s author Jeni Klugman.—AFP


Source: http://www.dawn.com/


And the winner for the most sexist statement is . . . God!

This is an award in Australia. It's not something you'd want to win. Anyway, this amused me (if I'm not amused, I'd be horrified).

It has some of the sexist things Australian politicans (and celebrities) have said over the years, and more recently. Joy.


An evangelical preacher has taken out an ignominious prize, the annual Gold Ernie for the year's most breathtakingly sexist public utterance for revelations that apparently came from the Almighty.

Channelling Him in his sleep one night, the Pentecostal church leader was presented with "'a flash from the Spirit of God", which he felt he should share via media release not long after the February bushfires in which 173 people died.

"God's conditional protection has been removed from the nation of Australia, in particular Victoria," Pastor Danny Nalliah, head of the Catch the Fire Ministries, had said, "'for approving the slaughter of innocent children in the womb." The anti-abortion message of the Messiah won a boo-off at a gala event at NSW Parliament House on Wednesday.
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A baby is just like a puppy but less cute!

She adopted a child — and then gave him up
Anita Tedaldi raised boy for 18 months before making heartbreaking choice
By Mike Celizic
TODAYShow.com contributor

No decision she ever made or ever expects to make was more agonizing or more controversial. After 18 months of pouring her love and efforts into bonding with her adoptive son, Anita Tedaldi realized it wasn’t working and gave the child to another family.

“I loved him and I cared deeply for him,” Tedaldi told TODAY’s Matt Lauer Thursday in New York. “I tried to do the same exact thing I did with my biological children, but over time it became clear that our family maybe wasn’t a good match for him, that we were unable to meet some of his needs.”

Tedaldi inspired both praise and condemnation when she wrote in The New York Times’ Motherlode blog about the orphan boy she and her husband adopted — whom, they learned, had been found abandoned at the side of a road .

The child’s exact age could not be determined (details that have been reported about the child’s age, place of origin, and new family have been altered to protect his identity). His legs were underdeveloped, and his head was flat in the back from being left in a crib unattended.

The controversy has spread to the blog written by TODAY’s Natalie Morales, who wrote about it after reporting Tedaldi’s story. After reading Tedaldi’s story in the Times, Morales observed: “It’s a piece that will bring you to tears.”

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Tina C.

Peace Corps volunteers face injury, death in foreign lands

On a clear Christmas night near a moonlit stretch of Pacific beach, a man with a pistol came from the darkness and forced Diana Gilmour to watch two of her fellow Peace Corps volunteers being gang-raped while a male volunteer was pinned helpless on the ground.One of the men — his breath reeking of alcohol — raped Gilmour, too. Then the attackers herded the volunteers at gunpoint to a field of high grass where they feared they would be executed.

"I was constantly waiting to hear a shot in the dark," Gilmour said.

Suddenly another volunteer approached with a flashlight, and the attackers fled.

Seven months later in neighboring Guatemala, on July 2, 1997, the same two volunteers Gilmour had watched being gang-raped that Christmas night were walking from the Magic Place movie theater in downtown Guatemala City when they were attacked by another group of armed men intent on raping them. One of the women fled; the other was abducted and, for a second time in seven months, gang-raped while serving in the Peace Corps.

"They put a white T-shirt over my head and told me if I uncovered my face they would kill me," the 25-year-old volunteer said in a written statement filed in a Guatemalan court. "He put the end of the pistol in my mouth and cocked it, and I waited for them to kill me."
Six days after that incident, another Guatemala volunteer reported being raped. Twenty-seven days later, another. Twenty-nine days later, another.

Last year, Guatemala volunteers reported 11 assaults of all types, the largest number since the Peace Corps began collecting statistics in 1990, and the number this year is on pace to be even higher.

Records from a never-before-released computer database show that reported assault cases involving Peace Corps volunteers increased 125 percent from 1991-2002, while the number of volunteers increased by 29 percent, according to the Peace Corps. Last year, the number of assaults and robberies averaged one every 23 hours.

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Bolded for the tl;dr crowd. This is an old article, from 2003, but I thought it raised some valid points. I had a cousin serve in the Peace Corps (Guinea Bissau and Togo) and she used to have more than a few stalkers, and told us about some of the administrative problems herself. Have any of you ONTDers served as a PCV or know of one? 


(no subject)


A proposal to allow same-sex couples on the school's Homecoming Court has been shot down by the governing student body at the University of North Texas, the Dallas Newsreports:

"Five of the senators at the meeting voted Thursday to amend the Student Government Association’s bylaws, 10 voted against and eight abstained. Jason Howeth, a junior who represents the College of Music, said he voted against the proposal because of opposition from parents who threatened to remove their children from the school and alumni who said they would withdraw their financial support. He also said that the current student regulations do not prohibit homosexuals from running for a homecoming court position. Current student regulations state that the homecoming couple comprises a man and a woman."


Helena Cain and Gina Inviere
  • doop

Obama to take on military gay ban at `right time'

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will focus "at the right time" on how to overturn the "don't ask, don't tell" ban on gays serving openly in the military, his national security adviser said Sunday.

"I don't think it's going to be — it's not years, but I think it will be teed up appropriately," James Jones said.

The Democratic-led Congress is considering repealing the 1993 law. Action isn't expected on the issue until early next year.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., recently wrote Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates asked to share their views and recommendations on the contentious policy. In Sept. 24 letters, Reid also asked for a review of the cases of two U.S. officers who were discharged from the military because of their sexuality.

"At a time when we are fighting two wars, I do not believe we can afford to discharge any qualified individual who is willing to serve our country," Reid wrote.

Jones said Obama "has an awful lot on his desk. I know this is an issue that he intends to take on at the appropriate time. And he has already signaled that to the Defense Department. The Defense Department is doing the things it has to do to prepare, but at the right time, I'm sure the president will take it on."

As a candidate, Obama signaled support for repealing the law. To the disappointment of gay-rights supporters, he has yet to made a move since taking office in January. The White House has said it will not stop the military from dismissing gays and lesbians who acknowledge their sexuality.

Last year, 634 members of the military were discharged for being gay, or .045 percent of the active-duty U.S. force, according to an Aug. 14 congressional report.

The largest number of gays who were ousted under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy came in 2001, when 1,227 were discharged, or .089 of the force.

The House is considering legislation to repeal "don't ask, don't tell" and allow people who have been discharged under the policy to rejoin the military.

Jones appeared on CNN's "State of the Union."


Hospital policy pains expectant mom

A pregnant woman's pleas not to have an unnecessary caesarean are being ignored by Page Hospital administrators.

Joy Szabo, 32, said she is upset with Page Hospital's general ruling in June prohibiting vaginal births after cesareans (VBAC). The mother of three children, she has given birth to all of her children at Page Hospital, the only hospital in the immediate area. A placenta eruption caused her to have an emergency cesarean delivering her second child, but the hospital allowed her third child to be delivered naturally two years ago.

Now pregnant with her fourth child, she is being forced to have a caesarean due to lack of hospital staffing.

"Page Hospital is, as many small communities are, challenged with resources," said Chief Executive Officer Sandy Haryasz. "Page simply does not have the physician resources to respond to an emergency. Currently, we have two physicians who are delivering babies and a third physician will be joining us next week.

"Three physicians cannot provide the coverage recommended by ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology). The physicians must be immediately available because of the risks of a VBAC and we cannot provide that in Page. In addition, we cannot provide an anesthesiologist to be readily available because we only have one anesthesiologist."

Joy thinks it is against her legal rights to force her to have unnecessary surgery that might place her and her baby at greater risk of harm than delivering naturally. Her only option to having natural birth is to travel to a women's care clinic in Phoenix or have unassisted home delivery.

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America + Science = FUCK YEAH

Three U.S. researchers were awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their work on how chromosomes are protected against degradation, the Nobel Foundation reported Monday.

Elizabeth H. Blackburn, Carol W. Greider and Jack W. Szostak will share the $1.4 million prize for research on structures at the end of chromosomes called telomeres and on an enzyme that forms them, called telomerase.

It is the 100th year the prize will be awarded.

Szostak told CNN he got the news Monday in "that classic early morning phone call from Stockholm."

The Nobels keep their selection process top secret.

Szostak described it as "surprising and exciting" -- perhaps particularly for him, because he has not worked on the subject for the last 20 years. "I've been working on other things," he said. "It started off as a collaboration with me and Liz [Blackburn] -- Carol was a student of hers."

The work began as "a long-standing puzzle that we were interested in solving," he said. He added, "It was only over later years that it emerged, through the work of many people, that this was probably important for aging and cancer."

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William Kamkwamba dreamed of powering his village with the only resource that was freely available to him.

His native Malawi had gone through one of its worst droughts seven years ago, killing thousands. His family and others were surviving on one meal a day. The red soil in his Masitala hometown was parched, leaving his father, a farmer, without any income.

But amid all the shortages, one thing was still abundant.


"I wanted to do something to help and change things," he said. "Then I said to myself, 'If they can make electricity out of wind, I can try, too.'"

Kamkwamba was kicked out of school when he couldn't pay $80 in school fees, and he spent his days at the library, where a book with photographs of windmills caught his eye.

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Akuma River

Employeers can't fill jobs paying 55-60k a year

As Layoffs Persist, Good Jobs Go Unfilled (October 04, 2009 - HuffPo - CHRISTOPHER LEONARD)

In a brutal job market, here's a task that might sound easy: Fill jobs in nursing, engineering and energy research that pay $55,000 to $60,000, plus benefits.

Yet even with 15 million people hunting for work, even with the unemployment rate nearing 10 percent, some employers can't find enough qualified people for good-paying career jobs.

Ask Steve Jones, a hospital recruiter in Indianapolis who's struggling to find qualified nurses, pharmacists and MRI technicians. Or Ed Baker, who's looking to hire at a U.S. Energy Department research lab in Richland, Wash., for $60,000 each. Collapse )

John Kyl's Comment Being Used Against Him. Tomorrow Will Declare He Was Taken Out of Context...

Kyl Hit with Local Ads Showing His No-Need-For-Maternity-Care Statement

The Democratic Party just bought airtime for an ad to air in Senator John Kyl's home state of Arizona featuring his infamous "I don't need maternity care" statement. The ad will begin airing Monday in the two largest media markets in Arizona, Phoenix and Tucson. A DNC spokesperson said the ad will run indefinitely.

Yesterday, the DNC announced that Kyl would be focused in its "Call 'Em Out" campaign and released a web video attacking Kyl for engaging in fear-mongering and lies. The DNC is also using traditional phonebanking and letter writing campaigns in conjunction with Twitter and Facebook as part of its Call 'Em Out campaign against Kyl.

Read the transcript of the ad:

TEXT: Do Republicans oppose requiring insurance companies to provide maternity care?

Kyl: Well first of all, I don't need maternity care...

TEXT: Of course you don't need maternity care...

Kyl: ...and so requiring that to be in my insurance policy is something that I don't need and will make the policy more expensive

TEXT: ...but how do you think you came into this world?

Sen Stabenow: If I could just object once with my colleague I think your mom probably did.

TEXT: Does Jon Kyl think all insurance policies should be required to cover maternity care?

Kyl: Yeah... over sixty years ago my mom did.


GOP to Steele: "Shud UP! You Just Need to Look Pretty and Stay Quiet!"

GOP leaders to Michael Steele: Back off

GOP leaders, in a private meeting last month, delivered a blunt and at times heated message to RNC Chairman Michael Steele: quit meddling in policy.

The plea was made during what was supposed to be a routine discussion about polling matters and other priorities in House Minority Leader John Boehner’s office. But the session devolved into a heated discussion about the roles of congressional leadership and Steele, according to multiple people familiar with the meeting.

The congressional leaders were particularly miffed that Steele had in late August unveiled a seniors’ “health care bill of rights” without consulting with them. The statement of health care principles, outlined in a Washington Post op-ed, began with a robust defense of Medicare that puzzled some in a party not known for its attachment to entitlements.

Elected Republicans urged Steele to focus on the governors’ races in New Jersey and Virginia and other political matters, such as fundraising, rather than on attempting to establish party policy.

Steele was taken aback by the comments from Boehner, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Senate GOP conference Chairman Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Senate GOP policy Chairman John Thune of South Dakota and grew defensive during the 10-minute discussion, according to two people in the room.

The RNC, according to one source, was planning to roll out more policy initiatives.
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  • luomo

Obama to Address Gay Rights Organization

By Jeremy W. Peters

President Obama will speak to a gathering of gay rights activists this weekend, a day before thousands of people are expected to march on Washington in a demonstration calling for greater legal protections for gays, lesbians and transgendered Americans.

Mr. Obama’s appearance on Saturday at the annual dinner for the Human Rights Campaign, a leading gay rights advocacy group, represents a significant show of support for gay rights at a time when many prominent gay and lesbian activists have been questioning the president’s commitment to their issues.

Many gay rights activists have become increasingly vocal about their frustration over what they see as tepid support from Mr. Obama. While the president has professed support for overturning the ban on gays in the military and called the law that precludes federal recognition of same-sex marriages discriminatory, he has not engaged on gay rights issues as actively as some had hoped.

The Justice Department is defending the federal marriage law, known as Defense of Marriage Act, much to the dismay of many gay rights advocates. And Mr. Obama has been noncommittal about when he will move to end the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy. In June, he acknowledged their irritations at the slow pace of change at a gathering of about 250 gay rights leaders who had been invited to the White House.

While it remains to be seen what Mr. Obama’s appearance at the dinner will do to his standing in the eyes of gay rights activists, his speech may mollify some of their concerns.

His appearance will mark only the second time a sitting president has spoken to the Human Rights Campaign. The first time was in 1997 when Bill Clinton spoke to the group. That was the first time a sitting president had ever addressed a gay rights organization.

A person with knowledge of Mr. Obama’s plans confirmed his appearance at the dinner. But this person spoke on the condition of anonymity because a formal announcement is expected later today.

The White House had no comment. A spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

Mr. Obama’s speech will coincide with the National Equality March, which is taking place on Sunday and is expected to draw thousands of gay rights supporters to the National Mall.


anyone else gonna be at the march on sunday?

Obama quietly tries to shore up Senate support for public option

Obama quietly tries to shore up Senate support for public option
The president has backed off from vocally supporting the idea of government-run healthcare, but he's working to build a coalition of supporters. The challenge: Find a version that can pass.

Reporting from Washington - Despite months of outward ambivalence about creating a government health insurance plan, the Obama White House has launched a behind-the-scenes campaign to get divided Senate Democrats to take up some version of the idea for a final vote in the coming weeks.

President Obama has cited a preference for the so-called public option. But faced with intense criticism over the summer, he strategically expressed openness to health cooperatives and other ways to offer consumers potentially more affordable alternatives to private health plans.

In the last week, however, senior administration officials have been holding private meetings almost daily at the Capitol with senior Democratic staff to discuss ways to include a version of the public plan in the healthcare bill that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) plans to bring to the Senate floor this month, according to senior Democratic congressional aides.

Among those regularly in the meetings are Obama's top healthcare advisor, Nancy-Ann DeParle; aides to Reid; and staff from the Senate Finance and Health committees, both of which developed healthcare bills.

The measure that goes to the floor will be an amalgam of the two committees' bills, put together by Reid and key Democrats. The health committee bill contains a national government plan; the finance committee version does not.

Obama has also been reaching out personally to rank-and-file Senate Democrats, telephoning more than a dozen in the last week to press for action.
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Tim with stick

A move in the right direction

Judge to Prop. 8 backers: Turn over your papers

(10-02) 18:10 PDT SAN FRANCISCO -- A federal judge has ordered sponsors of California's Proposition 8 to release campaign strategy documents that opponents believe could show that backers of the same-sex marriage ban were motivated by prejudice against gays.

Plaintiffs in a federal suit seeking to overturn Prop. 8 - two same-sex couples, a gay-rights organization and the city of San Francisco - contend that the measure's real purpose was to strip a historically persecuted minority group of rights held by the majority.

If the courts find that the ballot measure was motivated by discrimination, they could strike it down without having to decide whether gays and lesbians have a constitutional right to marry.

"The intent or purpose of Prop. 8 is central to this litigation," Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker declared Thursday in requiring backers of the November 2008 measure to give the opposing side their internal campaign communications.
Backers' argument

A day earlier, Prop 8's sponsors told Walker in a court filing that their opponents' claim of anti-gay motivation is legally irrelevant.

In a final round of arguments seeking to uphold the measure without a trial, defenders of the ballot measure said California voters were entitled to amend their Constitution to preserve the traditional, male-female definition of marriage for numerous reasons - including a belief that "extending marriage to same-sex couples carries a risk of weakening the institution of marriage."

Because there is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage, it wouldn't matter if the plaintiffs could show that Prop. 8 "was also accompanied by irrational attitudes such as animus," or prejudice against lesbians and gays, said attorney Charles Cooper.

The initiative, approved by 52 percent of the voters, overturned the state Supreme Court's May 2008 ruling that gave gays and lesbians the right to marry in California. The state court upheld Prop. 8 as a valid state constitutional amendment in May but also ruled that 18,000 same-sex couples who married before the election were legally wed.

Walker has scheduled an Oct. 14 hearing in San Francisco on whether to dismiss the suit or let it go to trial in January.

looks for bias

In previous rulings, Walker has said the constitutionality of Prop. 8 is not an open-and-shut legal question but could depend on a variety of factors, including whether backers were biased against gays and lesbians.

He amplified that view Thursday in ordering Prop. 8's sponsors to disclose documents, including notes and e-mails between campaign officials and consultants, that discussed their strategy and the message they wanted to send to the voters.

Although "voters cannot be asked to explain their votes," Walker said, a ballot measure's authors and strategists can be scrutinized to see what their motives were.

He cited a magazine article last year by the heads of the public relations firm that managed the Prop. 8 campaign in which they discussed their strategy, including plans to show how advocates of same-sex marriage would indoctrinate schoolchildren. Walker said the article undermined the campaign's insistence that its strategy discussions were confidential.

Bad precedent?

Andrew Pugno, a lawyer for the Prop. 8 sponsors, said Friday it was unprecedented to allow "the losing side of a campaign to pry into the most intimate strategy discussions of the winning side."

"This will make any citizen group think twice before attempting a ballot initiative," Pugno said. He said his clients might ask a federal appeals court to intervene.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs, Theodore Boutrous, said Walker's order would allow them to see whether the justifications Prop. 8's defenders are now claiming for the measure were part of the campaign or after-the-fact rationales.

"Our position is not dependent on the notion that everyone who voted for Proposition 8 was acting out of bad motives," Boutrous said. He said the plaintiffs would look for "evidence that bolsters our argument that Proposition 8 was irrational and disfavors a group in a way that's unconstitutional."

Source: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/10/03/BANH1A0DM8.DTL#ixzz0T5qr3z8z

I think this is a perfectly valid order.
  • cindel

Deed's Stutter Mocked. Virginia is still Fake.

Creigh Deeds's Stutter Mocked By Prominent Endorser Of GOP Candidate In Virginia Gubernatorial Race.

The Virginia gubernatorial race took an ugly turn this past weekend when a prominent endorser for Republican Bob McDonnell mocked the slight stutter of Democrat candidate Creigh Deeds.

At a rally for McDonnell's campaign, Sheila Johnson was taped discussing the importance of communication skills in the state's next governor.

"We need someone who can really communicate," she said. "And Bob McDonnell can communicate. The other people that I talk to, especially his o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-opponent... could not articulate what needed to be done."
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The guy I'm dating is a Republican and he think this is funny.

Eta: grammar fail.
Akuma River

Being China's Bitch...A US Capitalist Love Story

Obama's Meeting With the Dalai Lama Is Delayed - Move Appears to Be A Nod to Chinese (October 05, 2009 - WaPo - John Pomfret)

In an attempt to gain favor with China, the United States pressured Tibetan representatives to postpone a meeting between the Dalai Lama and President Obama until after Obama's summit with his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, scheduled for next month, according to diplomats, government officials and other sources familiar with the talks.

For the first time since 1991, the Tibetan spiritual leader will visit Washington this week and not meet with the president. Since 1991, he has been here 10 times. Most times the meetings have been "drop-in" visits at the White House. The last time he was here, in 2007, however, George W. Bush became the first sitting president to meet with him publicly, at a ceremony at the Capitol in which he awarded the Dalai Lama the Congressional Gold Medal, Congress's highest civilian award.
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*sighs* Obama...Obama...Obama... Sometimes it's a good idea to just say 'fuck them' instead of trying to placate. But if this does get talks between the Dalai Lama and China starting again...maybe it will be worth it? But I do wonder how this will look to China and Tibet.
panda bear

(no subject)

Egyptian Lawmakers Want To Ban Fake Hymen Kit

Conservative Egyptian lawmakers have called for a ban on imports of a Chinese-made kit meant to help women fake their virginity and one scholar has even called for the "exile" of anyone who imports or uses it.

The Artificial Virginity Hymen kit, distributed by the Chinese company Gigimo, costs about $30. It is intended to help newly married women fool their husbands into believing they are virgins culturally important in a conservative Middle East where sex before marriage is considered by many to be illicit. The product leaks a blood-like substance when inserted and broken.

Gigimo advertises shipping to every Arab country. But the company did not answer e-mails and phone calls seeking comment on whether it had orders from Egypt or other parts of the Middle East.

The fracas started when a reporter from Radio Netherlands broadcast an Arabic translation of the Chinese advertisement of the product. That set off fears of conservative parliament members that Egyptian women might start ordering the kits.

Sheik Sayed Askar, a member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood who is on the parliamentary committee on religious affairs, said the kit will make it easier for Egyptian women to give in to temptation. He demanded the government take responsibility for fighting the product to uphold Egyptian and Arab values.

"It will be a mark of shame on the ruling party if it allowed this product to enter the market," he said in a notice posted on the Brotherhood's parliament Web site on Sept. 15.

The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest political opposition group, holds 88 of Egypt's 454 parliament seats.

Prominent Egyptian religious scholar Abdel Moati Bayoumi said anyone who imports the artificial hymen should be punished.

"This product encourages illicit sexual relations. Islamic culture forbids these relations except within the confines of marriage," Bayoumi said. "I think this should absolutely not be allowed to be exported because it brings more harm than benefits. Whoever does it (imports it) should be punished."

In a country and a region where pre-marital sex is so taboo it can even lead to a woman's murder, the debate over the virginity-faking kit has revived Egypt's constant struggle to reconcile modern mores with more traditional beliefs – namely, that a woman is not a virgin unless she bleeds after the first time.

"Bleeding is not the only signal that yes, she's a virgin," said Heba Kotb, an observant Muslim woman who hosts a sex talk show on TV in which she fields calls from all over the Middle East.

Kotb noted that a medical procedure that reattaches a broken hymen by stitching is illegal in Egypt and can cost hundreds of dollars – prohibitively expensive for the poor. But many women still secretly seek it out in fear of punishment for pre-marital sex.

Such punishment could include slayings at the hands of relatives, a practice more commonly referred to as honor killings and common in the more conservative tribal areas of the Middle East.

The product is also causing a buzz on Egyptian blogs and news sites.

"If this thing enters Egypt, the country is going to go to waste. God protect us," commented a reader on the Web site of Egyptian newspaper Al-Youm Al-Sabie.

Marwa Rakha, an author and blogger who writes about dating issues, sees the product as a tool of empowerment for women in a macho Arab culture that restricts women's sexual urges but turns a blind eye to men galavanting.

"It sticks it in the face of every male hypocrite," she said.

Akuma River

Armed intruder reported on USF campus

Armed intruder reported on USF campus (Octobr 05, 2009 - )

TAMPA, FL -- University of South Florida Police say there is an armed intruder on campus.

According to the initial report, the intruder is near the library.

Campus police are asking students and staff to stay indoors and they are setting up a command center on campus.

The Bull Runner Transit System is not picking up passengers until an all clear is given. The school is instructing students to seek safe shelter and not wait at bus stops.

Police are searching the area, but no one has been found.

Below is the alert sent by the university to students:

Alert Tampa Campus - Armed intruder on Campus. Stay inside. Lock doors. Emergency personnel responding.

Information from WFTS ABC Action News


1 in custody after gunman reported on Fla. campus (October 05, 2009 - AP - CHRISTINE ARMARIO)

TAMPA, Fla. – The University of South Florida was locked down Monday after someone reported a man with a gun and a bomb near the library, and police had one person in custody.

There were no immediate reports of shots fired or injuries, and it was not clear whether the person in custody was tied to the original report and whether that report was real or a hoax.
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WellPoint, Inc. Subsidiary Sues State of Maine for Failing to Guarantee Annual Profit Margin of 3%

In December 2008, Anthem Health Plans, who controls approximately 79% of the Maine health care insurance market**, proposed a rate increase of 18.5% for the same level of benefits to its 12,000 policy holders. In May 2009, Maine's Superintendent of Insurance denied these rate increases, having found these predatory rate increases "excessive and unfairly discriminatory", and deemed that the state of Maine has no obligation to guarantee Anthem a profit.***

Anthem Health Plans proceeded to sue the state of Maine for not allowing them a guaranteed risk profit margin of 3%.

WellPoint has spent over $10 million* in D.C. fighting the public option as "socialized medicine." Lawsuit calls to question "socialized corporate profits."


Section 58A - the drama (and uncertainty) continues

Prime Minister Gordon Brown's assertion that it is not illegal to photograph a police officer, provided you have a 'reasonable excuse', has sparked confusion among photographers.

Brown issued the statement last week, as part of his response to an e-petition launched on the Number 10 website earlier this year.

The petition had called for Section 58A of the Terrorism Act to be withdrawn and for such 'photography restrictions' to be lifted.

In response, the PM said: 'Section 58A [introduced on 16 February] makes it an offence to publish, communicate, elicit or attempt to elicit information about any such persons which is of a kind likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism.

Brown added: 'Contrary to some media and public misconception, Section 58A does not make it illegal to photograph a police officer, military personnel or member of the intelligence services.'

The PM said that photographers have a statutory defence against criminal action if they can prove they had a 'reasonable excuse' to take the picture.

But John Tracy, chief executive of the Bureau of Freelance Photographers (BFP) told Amateur Photographer (AP): 'No 10's response to this e-petition once again clouds the issue. It implies that it is only legitimate to photograph a police officer if you are a press photographer or a tourist.

'Yet the fact is, it is perfectly legal to photograph a police officer - or anyone else for that matter - in a public place. It is not just press photographers or tourists who have a 'reasonable excuse' for taking such pictures. By definition, you do not have to have a 'reasonable excuse' to carry out a legal activity.'

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Amateur Photographer

In short, don't fuck with Cokie Roberts

Cokie Roberts gets medieval on Roman Polanski: 'Take him out back and shoot him'?!

Man, you really don’t want to get on Cokie Roberts’ bad side.

During a Web roundtable discussion for Sunday’s This Week With George Stephanopoulos, the esteemed political analyst weighed in on the ongoing firestorm over director Roman Polanski’s recent arrest 
with this blunt and rather chilling assessment: “Roman Polanski is a criminal. You know, he drugged and raped and sodomized a child. And then was a fugitive from justice. As far as I’m concerned, just take him out back and shoot him.” Wow. We might have expected a comment like that from crankypants pundit George Will. But there’s something jarring about hearing the words “take him about back and shoot him” come out of the mouth of a regular NPR commentator—let alone one with a chipper name like Cokie.

In the wake of Polanski’s arrest in connection with his 1978 conviction for unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old, more than a few luminaries have come out in the director’s defense. Polanski’s victim, Samantha Geimer, has made it clear that, after all these years, she’d like to see the case against him dropped entirely. Roberts, though, is having none of that. Still, even if you share her general point of view on Polanski’s case, surely her call to “take him out back and shoot him” goes a bit too far, no? Given the fact that Polanski is himself a Holocaust survivor whose mother died in Auschwitz and who, as a child, witnessed unspeakable horrors in the Krakow Ghetto, Roberts’ blithe call for vigilante justice is, if nothing else, a bit awkward. And that’s not even mentioning the brutal 1969 murder of Polanski’s pregnant wife Sharon Tate at the hands of Charles Manson’s gang of killers. What do you think? Should Roberts stick to dissecting the health care debate and crunching President Obama’s latest poll numbers? Or does her Charles Bronson-style take on the Polanski case strike an emotional chord with you?



GOOD NEWS: Hate Crime Twisted as "Vigilante Justice"

Original posts: original  , first updatesecond update , (final) 

Attorney Roger Kraft, DJ Bell and Attorney Susanne Gustin

David James Bell and his attorneys held a press conference today to finally give DJ the chance to tell HIS side of the story.

So far the story that has been in the media (and the courtroom) is this:

- DJ took two children from the next door neighbors house during a 4th of July party
- he had them in his bedroom
- the mother came over, found the children and panicked
- the adults from next door came to DJ's house and beat him and his partner (they later denied this)

DJ's side of the story (which he finally got to tell today):

- He went next door during their party because he was looking for his lost cat, spoke with neighbors and had a drink
- He saw the children in the yard
- The children wandered over to his house and asked for juice
- Their mother came over and found them in his doorway, she attacked him and left
- The adults from next door came to DJ's house and beat him and his partner nearly to death

DJ showing some of his scars from the attack (with his attorneys)

Additional facts:

- the South Salt Lake police department conducted a "shoddy" and "unacceptable" investigation:
          -- 4 eyewitnesses were not interviewed
          -- the crime scene was never sealed off
          -- minimal photographic and material evidence collected

- Police were originally called to the scene to investigate assault-- not kidnapping!
           -- police had one of the adults who beat DJ in handcuffs and ready to be charged-- as soon as the children and alleged kidnapping was mentioned the officer released the assailant and arrested DJ
          -- The original 911 call was another neighbor reporting a dead body on the street because the beating DJ received was so severe he was unconscious in front of the house

The good news:

DJ, Dan and their attorneys announced today that civil charges will be filed against their assailants and possibly the South Salt Lake police department. 

I will keep you updated as these new cases develop...

new links:

Salt Lake City Weekly
KSL channel 5 news
DJ and Dan's website
Deseret News