January 16th, 2010

  • amypond

I'm sooo sure you're doing this for the women.

France moves closer to banning full Muslim veil

LA VERRIERE, France – The man she married is French, her four children were born in France and she speaks French with only a trace of her native Arabic tongue. Faiza Silmi contends her clothes — a head-to-toe robe and filmy tissue covering her face — are the reason France has denied her citizenship in her adopted land.

The 32-year-old Moroccan may soon be facing an even fiercer blow. A top French lawmaker submitted a draft law this week that would ban such Islamic dress anywhere in public, a measure that would set a European precedent and trap thousands of women between their religious convictions and the law of the land.

"They say I'm too attached to my religion," Silmi told The Associated Press at an empty restaurant near her home southwest of Paris, her large eyes peering from a slit in her veil. "Lots of Christians live in Morocco and we don't make them wear scarves."

Unlike Muslim headscarves, full-body, face-covering robes are a rare sight in the streets of France, home to an estimated 5 million Muslims, the largest such population in western Europe. France's main Muslim leaders have declared that Islam does not require women to cover their faces with niqabs or burqas.

In a country whose national emblem is Marianne, a bare-chested woman, there is deepening concern over the all-encompassing garb, often black or brown and worn with gloves, attire typical in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Here, it is widely viewed as a gateway to radical Islam, an attack on gender equality and other French values, and a gnawing away at the nation's secular foundation.

President Nicolas Sarkozy opened the door to a possible ban in June, telling a parliament session in Versailles that such dress "is not welcome" in France. A parliamentary panel set to work in July on a six-month mission gathering information on the garments.

On Tuesday, the head of Sarkozy's conservative UMP party in parliament's lower house, Jean-Francois Cope, jumped the gun before the panel's report was finished, and filed draft legislation on a ban. "No one may, in spaces open to the public and on public streets, wear a garment or an accessory that has the effect of hiding the face," the draft text reads.

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I don't see this ending well.

Women Are Living Longer Than Ever ... So Have A Baby Already

The Times of London says women today could live to 120. But, the Times takes pains to remind us, we still have to worry about our biological clocks.

In a rather strange entry into the increasingly crowded field of people-are-living-longer articles, Linda Duberley writes, "News that scientists have discovered a gene that is known to treble your odds of living to 100 and may help you to ward off Alzheimer's merely adds weight to a wealth of research that states that women especially have a high chance of living until they are well over 100 years old." She also quotes life-insurance researcher Nigel Barlow, who offers this assessment of the coming gerontocracy:

If we think that the UK high street is likely to be swamped with women pushing their trolleys home for an early tea, we need to think again. These women bear no relation to our preconceived idea of female pensioners. They are exceptional super-grandmothers. There are instances of women applying for motorcycle licences and participating in charity parachute jumps in their eighties.

Barlow's words are somewhat heartening, but they also reveal the general lack of nuance in discussions of increasing life expectancy (not yet an issue, it's worth noting, in many parts of the world). Articles about our supposedly stretching allotments on this earth tend to either panic over the coming influx of infirm retirees, or paint a utopian vision of motorcycling super-grannies. The truth is probably more complicated than either — if we're really going to start living longer, we probably are going to have to deal with longer periods of reduced physical capacity. This would probably be a lot more manageable if we stopped thinking of youthfulness as an ideal to be sought throughout life, and if we accepted that most people suffer illness and infirmity at some point. Unfortunately, the culture of aging, at least in America, takes the opposite tack, pushing everything from Botox to human growth hormone on both men and women in an effort to "turn back the clock."

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Should Women Get Special Attention From Aid Groups In Haiti?

So-called men's rights blogs are enraged at the idea that women in Haiti might be getting special attention from disaster relief agencies. What's going on here?

Shortly after the quake, Tracy Clark-Flory of Salon polled experts and aid officials about how or why they might focus on the needs of women after a disaster, whether with particular provisions or with the distribution of emergency assistance.

The reasons are paradoxical: Women are both more vulnerable after a disaster (having begun at a disadvantage, and now at risk for violence) and yet have the capacity to be connectors in humanitarian efforts:

Women "are central actors in family and community life," says [Gender and Disaster Network co-founder Elaine] Enarson, and are more likely to know "who in the neighborhood most needs help - where the single mothers, women with disabilities, widows and the poorest of the poor live."

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Family Photos Now Considered Child Pornography. You Sick Bastards.

Billy Miller Gets Child Porn Charge In Afghanistan: Family Says Army Soldier's Photos Are 'Innocent'

The family of an Illinois National Guard soldier said Friday that he's been charged with possession of child pornography in Afghanistan over innocent snapshots of a 4-year-old relative in a swimsuit.

The U.S. Army has charged Spec. Billy Miller of Galesburg, Ill., with possession of child pornography and a related charge of failure to obey an order that troops in Afghanistan not possess pornography.

Army spokesman Lt. Mary J. Pekas declined to discuss details of the case or evidence against Miller. She said the charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
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  • drbat

Trial of gay couple in Malawi adjourned after accused collapses in court

A trial involving Malawi’s first married gay couple was adjourned today after one of the accused collapsed in court and was subjected to homophobic abuse from the public gallery.

Tiwonge Chimbalanga, who has spent more than a week in one of the country’s most congested prisons, vomited and stumbled onto the dusty court floor just before the case was due to start.

As he lay on the ground he was jeered by members of the public who had crowded in to watch what has become a cause célèbre and a test case for gay rights in the African nation.

“Auntie Tiwo ali ndi mimba” — or "Auntie Tiwo is pregnant" — people said.

With no one to assist him, Mr Chimbalanga, 20, dressed with a traditional dotted red and yellow striped wrapper around his waist and a red top, finally managed to stand and was allowed to leave to clean himself up.

A few minutes later he re-emerged with a mop and a pail to clean the vomit from the court floor — a chore that women in Africa typically have to perform even when they are sick.

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  • synesis

Tories' Shameful Record on Gay Rights

Gay rights would 'grind to a halt' under Tories, say Lib Dems
Party claims voting records of Conservatives reveal 'shameful' history of opposing equality legislation

Nearly a third of David Cameron's shadow cabinet voted against gay rights legislation at some point over the last two parliaments, demonstrating their "shameful" record in tackling discrimination, according to the Liberal Democrats.

They have compiled research on four examples of legislation where many Tories voted against equal rights laws. Chris Huhne, the Lib Dem home affairs spokesman, said progress on gay rights would "grind to a halt" if the Conservatives won the election. "The Tory record on supporting gay rights is nothing short of shameful," he said. The Lib Dem research shows:

• Ten out of 32 members of the shadow cabinet voted against at least one piece of gay rights legislation. The shadow Europe minister, Mark Francois, voted against all four.

• David Cameron, Kenneth Clarke, Mark Francois, Chris Grayling, William Hague, Francis Maude, Patrick McLoughlin, Andrew Mitchell, George Osborne and Sir George Young voted against legislation to repeal section 28, which had banned local authorities and schools from "promoting" homosexuality, in 2003.

• Nineteen members of the shadow cabinet joined the attempt to block the equality bill, which included a requirement for all publicly funded bodies to promote equality.

• Seven members of the shadow cabinet voted to allow only heterosexual married couples to adopt in 2002.

• Four of the shadow cabinet voted against powers which passed through the house in March 2007 giving the secretary of state the ability to bring in regulations with a new definition of discrimination and harassment on grounds of sexual orientation.

Thirty-five Tory MPs voted to allow only heterosexual married couples to adopt in 2002 and a third also voted against the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations in March 2007, allowing the government to make regulations defining discrimination and harassment on grounds of sexual orientation.

This week Nick Clegg has made a claim for some of the UK's sizeable "pink vote" with an interview in Attitude magazine. The Lib Dem leader is working hard to distinguish himself from the Conservatives after Cameron used his new year message to appeal to Lib Dems and claim he has turned the Tory party into the natural home for "liberal Conservatives".

Clegg proposed a series of measures including reversing the ban on gay men being allowed to give blood; a requirement that faith schools implement "anti-homophobia bullying policies" and teach that homosexuality is "normal and harmless"; a change in the law to allow civil partnerships to be regarded as marriage; and a guarantee of asylum to refugees who have fled a country because of persecution over their sexual orientation.

Source Plus ça change...
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  • drbat

Police shut down Mr. Gay China pageant

BEIJING - Police shut down what would have been China's first gay pageant on Friday an hour before it was set to begin, highlighting the enduring sensitivity surrounding homosexuality and the struggle by gays to find mainstream acceptance.

Organizers said they were not surprised when eight police officers turned up at the upscale club in central Beijing where the pageant, featuring a fashion show and a host in drag, was set to take place.

"They said the content, meaning homosexuality, there's nothing wrong with that, but you did not do things according to procedures," Ben Zhang said. Police told him he needed official approval for events that included performances, in this case a stage show.

"I kind of saw that coming," Zhang said.

Chinese police frequently cite procedural reasons for closing down gatherings that are deemed to be politically sensitive. Though the pageant did not have any overt political agenda, similar events in the past — such as a parade during the Shanghai Pride Festival last year — have been blocked by authorities.

"It totally has to do with moral standards and culture," said contestant Emilio Liu, 26. "If most people can't accept it, then the government won't let it happen."

Zhang had said he hoped the pageant would raise awareness of homosexuals in a country where gays are frequently discriminated against and ostracized. Eight men were competing for the title and a spot in the Worldwide Mr. Gay pageant, to be held next month in Oslo, Norway.

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An anti-choice ad? in MY Super Bowl? it's more likely than you think.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Tim Tebow is taking his star power to sport’s biggest stage.

The former Florida quarterback and his mother will appear in a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl next month. The Christian group Focus on the Family says the Tebows will share a personal story centering on the theme “Celebrate Family, Celebrate Life.”

The group isn’t releasing details, but the commercial is likely to be an anti-abortion message chronicling Pam Tebow’s 1987 pregnancy. After getting sick during a mission trip to the Philippines, she ignored a recommendation by doctors to abort her fifth child and gave birth to Tim.

The 2007 Heisman Trophy winner ended his college career with several NCAA, Southeastern Conference and school records, and two national championships. Tebow also has been very involved in his family’s Christian-based ministry.

Jim Daly, president and CEO of Focus on the Family, said the commercial comes at a time when “families need to be inspired.”

“Tim and Pam share our respect for life and our passion for helping families thrive,” Daly said. “Focus on the Family is about ... strengthening families by empowering them with the tools they need to live lives rooted in morals and values.”

Thirty-second commercials during the Super Bowl are selling for between $2.5 million and $2.8 million. Daly said all the funds for the ad came from a handful of “very generous and committed friends,” and that no money from the group’s general fund was used.

“Now that the ad has been shot, we’re excited to tell people it’s coming because the Tebows’ story is such an important one for our culture to hear,” he said. “You won’t want to miss it.”


Ah, yes. Another victim of "I CHOSE to have my baby so nobody else should be able to choose anything else ever" syndrome.
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Only Google can tell China to go to hell with its censorship *it was the best I could come up with*

Only Google Could Leave China

By Ryan Singel and David Kravets January 15, 2010 | 11:28 am | Categories: Commerce, Search

When President Richard Nixon opened the U.S. door into China in 1972, the transcript of his secret meeting with Chairman Mao Zedong at his Peking residence was classified for 25 years.

When Google announced Tuesday it wouldn’t censor its Google.cn search engine anymore — all but committing the “Don’t Be Evil” internet giant to a self-imposed China exile — it took just seconds for its blog post announcing the decision to careen around the world.

Google came to China in 2006, with much of the same optimism that Nixon brought — a belief that engagement would be good for both, and would lead to freedom and prosperity for China’s citizens. The sprawling new condos and shiny American-branded cars in Shanghai seemingly attest to some level of Nixon’s success.

“What brings us together is a recognition of a new situation in the world and a recognition on our part that what is important is not a nation’s internal political philosophy,” Nixon told the chairman, according to a declassified transcript of the historic meeting. “Therefore, we can find common ground, despite our differences, to build a world structure in which both can be safe to develop in our own ways on our own roads.”
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Rightwingers Just Love Deporting Foreigners, Even Better if They are Haitians.

Rep. King: Undocumented Haitians Should Be Deported Because Haiti Is In ‘Great Need Of Relief Workers’

Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti this week, many activists and politicians have heightened the cry for granting undocumented Haitians in the U.S. Temporary Protected Status (TPS). TPS is a longstanding cornerstone of U.S. immigration policy that is afforded to undocumented immigrants from a small number of federally designated countries suffering armed conflicts, natural disasters, or other extraordinary circumstances until conditions improve. Many claim Haitians should’ve received TPS after four consecutive tropical cyclones in 2008 left 800 people dead, hundreds missing, and made the Haitian city of Gonaives “uninhabitable.”

However, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) seems to think that not only were undocumented Haitians undeserving of TPS status then, undocumented Haitians living in the U.S. should now be deported back to their country to specifically serve as much-needed relief workers. ABCNews reports:
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Fox Nation equates temporary protections for Haitians in the U.S. with "Amnesty" for "Illegal Aliens"

A January 15 Fox Nation headline asserted, "Obama Moves to Grant Amnesty to Haitian Illegal Aliens." However, the article to which Fox Nation linked reported on the temporary suspension of deportations of undocumented Haitian immigrants and on widespread calls for the administration to grant temporary protected status to such individuals, making no mention of "amnesty to Haitian illegal aliens."

Fox Nation claims, "Obama Moves to Grant Amnesty to Haitian Illegal Aliens"

The following headline was posted on Fox Nation on January 15:

In fact, Obama administration suspended deportations to Haiti "for the time being"

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Help Haiti

Mods, if you could allow this, that would be fabulous and really appreciative. Thank you so much. If not, I completely understand.

I know if there's one community that's going to be passionate about helping Haiti right now, it's you guys. Hence why I am here asking for help.

help_haiti is a livejournal community created to raise money for the recent earthquake in Haiti. We are raising money via an online auction.

The rules are simple: if you are posting something to offer, you fill out a form in a comment for people to comment on. Make sure you comment on the correct post - the posts are organized by various categories. Then people bid on your item(s).

If you are doing the bidding, then you peruse the posts (separated by the type of services offered), and leave a comment naming the price you want to pay. Then, keep track of the thread to make sure your bid is the highest.

On January 20, the bidding stops and the highest bidder wins the item/service, just like an auction. However, instead of paying the user, you donate to a charity that is helping Haiti. You send a screencap that proves that you donated the money to the auctioneer, and then the auctioneer will send/make you your prize.

There's only about 800 members, with about 1000 people watching, which I think it pretty awesome.....but there's definitely room for improvement. There's 8,000+ members in here, and this is such an active community....I figured if I posted about it here, the numbers would definitely rise.

You can bid on literally ANYTHING. Fanvideos, fanfictions, fanmixes, graphics, tutoring services, handmade items, food, etc. The lists are endless. (I definitely recommend going over to the "misc" list, because one of the big items that people are offering are "x country/city in a box", and the person will ship a box full of items that represent their country or city. People are posting there from Japan, Israel, Africa, etc. It's really awesome.)

This is a really great opportunity for some of us poor college students in here, who really want to help out but have no money to do so. You could make graphics, write a story, etc. and raise money that way for Haiti. Or, reversely, if you're not too skilled in any area but want to put your money for a good cause, you'll get a gift in reverse.

Please, please consider joining and posting your services/bids. help_haiti would really appreciate it, and so would the people in Haiti right now.

Below are my specific threads where I am offering my services/items, if you are interested.

Here, Here, Here, and Here
ETA: I am now offering Philadelphia in a Box!

Thank you.

(P.S. If any of you know of any communities that you think this should be posted in, please feel free to tell me and I'll try and post in there. Or, if you want, just take this information yourself and post it in those communities. I included some facts about ontd_political, so make sure you change those ;). If you take it yourself and post it, just let me know, okay? Thanks. :D)
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Roger Ailes is the real head of the GOP (!?!?)

I've been trying to answer this question: does the Republican Party have a "leader"? Surely it's not Michael Steele, the loose-lipped chairman of the RNC. Not Mitch McConnell, the funereal Kentuckian who heads the Senate's rejectionist GOP minority. Not Sen. John McCain; he's too busy watching his own right flank back home in Arizona. And certainly not the Bushes, elder and younger, hunkered down in Texas. As for the 2012 wannabes, none gets more than a fifth of the GOP vote in the early polls.Collapse )


Thoughts? It makes a lot of sense, Ailes has way too much influence and Fox News isn't the first time he's done this sort of dirty politics. And with the news that Fox dominated the other news networks with its coverage of Haiti, it doesn't seem to have an end in sight. Anyone else a little scared? 

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  • homasse

And only Dr. Sanjay Gupta remains...

Security concerns cause doctors to leave hospital, quake victims

Port-au-Prince, Haiti (CNN) -- Earthquake victims, writhing in pain and grasping at life, watched doctors and nurses walk away from a field hospital Friday night after United Nations officials ordered a medical team to evacuate the area out of security concerns.

The only doctor left was CNN's Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta. He assessed the needs of the 25 patients, but with no supplies there was little he could do.

And more people, some in critical condition, were trickling in late Friday.

"I've never been in a situation like this. This is quite ridiculous," Gupta said.

With a dearth of medical facilities in Haiti's capital, ambulances had nowhere else to take patients, some who had suffered severe trauma -- amputations and head injuries. Others had suffered a great deal of blood loss, but there were no blood supplies left at the clinic.

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There's an extended video at the source.
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Child Porn Fears Block Under 18s From Full Body Scanners

Airport security personnel in British airports have been barred from scanning passengers under 18 years old with the newly adopted full body scanners due to warnings that the new devices may breach child pornography laws.

The full-body scanners adopted by British airports in the wake of the failed Christmas Day bombing attempt have come under fire over fears that the graphic images produced by the x-ray machines may violate child pornography laws.

The controversial scanners introduced recently at airports in the U.K. are capable of spotting weapons and explosives concealed under clothing by producing 'naked' x-ray images of passengers (see photo below).

The Daily Mail reports,

Child protection experts have warned that the image produced by the Rapiscan machines may break the law which prevents the creation of an indecent image or pseudo-image of a child.  
The legislation, the Protection of Children Act 1978, could potentially have led to security officers facing criminal charges for doing their job by examining the images.
According to the Daily Mail, airport security staff had originally planned to scan children 18 and under so long as they had the parents' permission, but later decided to block the scanning of minors after appeals from a civil rights group, Action on Rights for Children
Privacy advocates have denounced the machines for generating images so graphic they are tantamount to "virtual strip-searching." In addition to advocating for the protection of travelers under age 18, campaigners have demanded that safeguards are put into place to "ensure that images from the £80,000 scanners, including those of celebrities, do not end up on the internet."



I don't know about anyone else, but do you see that picture? I do not want to walk through that!
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President Obama updates on Haiti

I missed out on doing this yesterday and earlier today so I got three in one.

President Obama's Remarks After His Call with Haitian President Préval

Posted by Jesse Lee on January 15, 2010 at 06:19 PM EST
Earlier this afternoon the President gave another update on the situation in Haiti -- needless to say they still need help.

•Donate $10 to the Red Cross to be charged to your cell phone bill by texting "HAITI" to "90999."
Contribute online to the Red Cross.
Find more ways to help through the Center for International Disaster Information.

As we noted this morning, the President had the opportunity to talk with President Preval of Haiti, and that informed his remarks:

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The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund

Posted by Macon Phillips on January 16, 2010 at 12:40 PM EST

"How can I help?"

That's what former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton both asked as the devastating impact of the earthquake in Haiti became clear. This question brought them to a place they both know well, the Oval Office. There they met with President Obama and agreed to lead a major fundraising effort for relief: the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.
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U.S. Navy Stands Ready on Arrival in Haiti
Posted by Kaye Sweetser on January 16, 2010 at 06:38 PM EST

Responding to the President's call, the U.S. Navy moved at top speed to ready ships, load them with supplies and steam toward Haiti to provide humanitarian assistance after the devastating earthquake there Tuesday.
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ontd_political Photo(s) of the Day: Jan 16 2010.

US President Barack Obama (C) walks to the Oval Office alongside former US Presidents Bill Clinton (R) and George W. Bush (L) after speaking about relief efforts following the earthquake in Haiti, during a statement in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, DC, on January 16, 2010. Obama said the former presidents would lead a fundraising effort for Haiti to aid the Caribbean nation after the devastating January 12 earthquake.
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Saul LOEB (AFP/Getty Images)

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One for Us

Oink Admin Beats File Sharing Charges
•By David Kravets
•January 15, 2010 |
•1:21 pm |
•Categories: BitTorrent, Crime, intellectual property

A British jury on Friday cleared former Oink admin Allan Ellis of conspiracy to defraud the music industry for running one of the world’s strangest music file-sharing services with some 200,000 members.

Operators of the so-called Pink Palace banned low-quality sound files, enforced strict usage rules and mandated that all users’ avatars be “cute” — even taking pains to define exactly what made an avatar appropriately cuddly. All that came to an end in 2007, when the authorities arrested admin Alan Ellis, who created and ran the operation from his Middlesbrough apartment from 2004 to 2007.

After a seven-day trial, the 26-year-old Ellis walked from Teesside Crown Court, a free man Friday, the BBC reports.

Ellis, who said he crafted the site to brush up on his computer skills, testified the $18,000 a month he earned in “donations” was for rack space rental and servers.

Oink’s invitation-only policy kept it below the radar of most file traders, and the site’s operators apparently nixed repeated attempts to create a Wikipedia entry, so as not to draw attention.

The site prohibited games, videos (aside from tutorials), porn, nudity and the selling of invitations.

The always-clued-in TorrentFreak has been following the story.