March 17th, 2010

Towed away while making a bust: NYPD detectives irked as unmarked cars are hauled off

Source: NY Daily News

The NYPD is regularly towing unmarked police cars - leaving detectives stranded on the street with no way to transport suspects in handcuffs, the Daily News has learned.

Michael Palladino, head of the Detectives' Endowment Association, said tow operators working for the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau are meeting their daily quota - four tows and 20 summonses - by towing detectives who are legally parked or who have no choice but to double-park.

Recently, a Brooklyn detective investigating the hit-and-run that left a staffer for Mayor Bloomberg in a coma was called to the district attorney's office. When the detective left the meeting, his car was gone, Palladino said.

Palladino said unjustified tows have occurred while one or more detectives were:

- Arresting a Bronx murder suspect.

- Escorting a frightened witness to a Brooklyn murder scene.

- Notifying a murder victim's relatives and arranging to take them to the precinct.

- Arresting a burglary suspect - who laughed when the detectives realized their car was gone.

"It's embarrassing," Palladino said. "It takes our detectives four to six hours, often on overtime, to get the car back. In the meantime, another detective has to be called to come pick up the detectives who are stranded, or that third detective has to drive to court, or wherever, with the other two detectives and wait in the car."

In response, the detectives association turned the tables yesterday, tailing an NYPD tow truck and its Internal Affairs escort in order to witness the problem first-hand.

The DEA did the same thing last week and even photographed a tow truck parked in front of a hydrant.

The tow blitz appears to be a continuation of City Hall's crackdown, begun in 2008, on city-issued parking permits.

Palladino has been able to document 180 tows, including 40 from an informal survey of detectives. Most tows, he said, involved cars that were legally parked or weren't impeding traffic.

An NYPD spokesman, Inspector Ed Mullen, said the parking placards used by detectives prohibit parking "in front of hydrants or in bus stops and crosswalks."

But Palladino said that while patrol cars aren't being towed, probably because people would laugh, detectives are not given the benefit of the doubt.

"The department wants us to reduce crime, solve our cases and make arrests, and sometimes that requires us to park illegally," Palladino said. "If the practice continues, escapes and injuries are inevitable."


Two things:

Article didn't mention if there IS any way to tell if the car belongs to the NYPD since it is, yanno, unmarked. Is it standard practice to run a plat before a tow? Otherwise, how is this issue fixable?

Secondly: My mother used to write tickets. She once gave one to an unmarked car. The officer was inside a nearby store making an arrest. At the time my mother was bewildered at the guy's extreme anger, since its not like they were going to make him pay it. Its not like there wasn't proof of the extenuating circumstances!

Now we see he may have had a bunch of paperwork and stuff to fill out anyway.

My mom would also like to point out that undercover officers are supposed to blend in, and if other city workers can't tell that's a cop car, then you've done your job well!

(not to mention the irony of the city's ticket blitz being turned on itself by towing city-owned cars to make ANOTHER quota)
The Gang

TV industry a hostile place for working mothers, survey finds

More than half of television workers say it's difficult to get back in after a break to have children

The television industry sector remains riddled with sexist attitudes and is uncongenial to working mothers, a survey published today suggests.

Fifty-five per cent of the 179 TV workers interviewed for the survey said it is difficult to get back into television after a career break to have children.

According to 81%, it is better to wait until you are established in the industry before taking a career break to have children.

The survey was conducted by Production Base, an online freelance jobs service, with women comprising 89% of the respondents.

Working conditions, and evidence suggesting that women in their 30s are quitting in disproportionate numbers, will be discussed on Wednesday, at a MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television festival and Bafta event in London. Senior women in the industry, including BBC1's controller, Jay Hunt, and Lorraine Heggessey, chief executive of Talkback Thames, will be speaking.

Among the topics raised for discussion is the complaints that men get paid more than women (69% of those surveyed believed this to be the case) and that it is very hard to progress up the career ladder.

The survey chimes with a recent census by the industry training body Skillset, which found that the number of women in broadcasting had shrunk by 5,000 over the past two years.

However, a majority in the new survey, 58%, say women have the same career opportunities as men.

When invited to offer further comments, respondents said that sexism is inherent in the TV industry. There are many women at the top (executives, commissioning editors) and the bottom (runners, researchers, assistant producers) – but few in between (directors, directors of photography, editors), a reflection on how hard it is to progress in the industry as a woman.

One respondent said that women either have to give up the fight to survive in the industry at some point because of money or children. If they are lucky enough to have the financial means to keep going, there are a few opportunities for them to push on through as long as they stick to the traditionally female roles.

Among the handful of men who responded, the consensus was that the only way that women in the TV industry can have a career and children is if they have a staff job. These are now few and far between.

One of the men who responded said that industry-wide changes that apply to just one gender are not the answer and that perhaps the whole culture of TV needs to change to ensure that everyone has a better quality of life.

Others point to the nature of freelance work and unpredictable hours prevalent in the TV industry.

One female respondent said: "I think you need to have progressed to management by 30 to 35 to sustain your career in certain roles. But really, the problem is too much talent and not enough jobs. Employers know they can get younger talent cheaper and still get a good quality programme made."

• MGEITF and Bafta's Women Working in Television: Is it a Young Girl's Game? is on Wednesday 17 March at Bafta, 6.30pm

Magneto puppet
  • drbat

Hawaii considering law to ignore Obama 'birthers'

HONOLULU – Birthers beware: Hawaii may start ignoring your repeated requests for proof that President Barack Obama was born here.

As the state continues to receive e-mails seeking Obama's birth certificate, the state House Judiciary Committee heard a bill Tuesday permitting government officials to ignore people who won't give up.

"Sometimes we may be dealing with a cohort of people who believe lack of evidence is evidence of a conspiracy," said Lorrin Kim, chief of the Hawaii Department of Health's Office of Planning, Policy and Program Development.

So-called "birthers" claim Obama is ineligible to be president because, they argue, he was actually born outside the United States, and therefore doesn't meet a constitutional requirement for being president.

Hawaii Health Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino issued statements last year and in October 2008 saying that she's seen vital records that prove Obama is a natural-born American citizen.

But the state still gets between 10 and 20 e-mails seeking verification of Obama's birth each week, most of them from outside Hawaii, Kim said Tuesday.

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Push for Melancholia to be Listed as an Illness

SYDNEY psychiatrists are leading a controversial global push to stop doctors over-diagnosing depression, giving patients unnecessary treatments and putting lives at risk.

Gordon Parker, a professor of psychiatry at the University of NSW and director of the Black Dog Institute, is heading a team of 17 international psychiatrists who want the 2500-year-old condition, melancholia, listed as an illness in its own right in the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, used worldwide to diagnose mental illnesses.

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South Carolina democrat

SC reps almost pass abortion ban in rape/incest cases

Republicans tried to push through a bill that would have banned abortion in cases of rape and incest, unless the mother’s life was in danger in the State’s health care plan. The bill barely failed by a 57-54 margin.

...Wendy Nanney, a female representative from Greenville argued in favor of the ban. She said that women do not have a right to take the life of their child. Even in rape or incest, the child, she says is a gift.

SOURCE brings the fail

ETA: John O'Connor is The State Newspaper's political guy He had this to say not long after I submitted this:
S.C. House lawmakers will try to overturn the vote allowing state insurance coverage in cases of rape, incest and danger to the mother.
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UNI Panthers

Obama makes his NCAA picks.


Sauce: Facebook, of course.

Edit: video courtesy of latara
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panda bear

(no subject)

Kucinich To Switch Vote, Will Support Health Care Bill

After an intense White House lobbying effort, Dennis Kucinich announced on Wednesday morning that he has decided to vote for health care reform when it comes before the House in the next few days, reversing his previous position and giving a boost to President Obama, congressional leaders and the reform effort.

"In the past week it's become clear that the vote on the final health bill will be very close," Kucinich said at a Capitol Hill news conference. "I take this vote with the utmost seriousness. I'm quite aware of the historic fight, which has lasted the last century.

"I have doubts about the bill. This is not the bill I wanted to support," Kucinich said even as he promised that he would vote "yes" on the proposal.

"If my vote is to be counted, let it count now for passage of the bill, hopefully in the direction of comprehensive health care reform," the Ohio Democrat said.

Kucinich explained his decision in the following terms: He fought to make the bill better as long as he could. The bill is now written and the decision is not whether it's the bill he'd want but whether it is better to support it as it is or oppose it. If this health care reform effort failed, just as Clinton's effort failed a decade and a half ago, it would make future attempts at reforming the system that much more difficult. "This is a defining moment for whether or not we'll have any opportunity to move off square one on the issue of health care. And so even though I don't like the bill, I've made a decision to support it in the hopes that we can move towards a more comprehensive approach once this legislation is done," he said.

A health care failure could destroy any transformative potential left in Obama's administration, he worried.

"We have to be very careful that the potential of President Obama's presidency not be destroyed by this debate. And I feel, even though I have many differences with him on policy, there's something much bigger at stake here for America," he said.

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Emergency News: Socialist Hippies Now Haz Flying Nuns!!! Someone Hide The Rulers!!

Code Word: The Nun Haz Landed! Repeat, The Nun Haz Landed!!!

Catholic nuns break with bishops and urge passage of health care reform.

In recent weeks, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has been outspoken in its opposition to the Senate health care bill, saying that it doesn’t sufficiently restrict federal funds from being used for insurance coverage of abortions. However, in an “unusual public break,” a group of nuns — “60 leaders of religious orders representing 59,000 Catholic nuns” — has sent Congress a letter urging lawmakers to pass health care reform and ignore the “false claims” floating around about abortion. From the letter:

The health care bill that has been passed by the Senate and that will be voted on by the House will expand coverage to over 30 million uninsured Americans. While it is an imperfect measure, it is a crucial next step in realizing health care for all. It will invest in preventative care. It will bar insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. It will make crucial investments in community health centers that largely serve poor women and children. And despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions. It will uphold longstanding conscience protections and it will make historic new investments – $250 million – in support of pregnant women. This is the REAL pro-life stance, and we as Catholics are all for it.

The bishops are increasingly alone in their position. Last week, both the Catholic Health Association and a group of 25 “pro-life Catholic theologians and Evangelical leaders” also sent Congress letters supporting the Senate bill.

Rick Santorum: "Obama Will Bow To His Mooslim Masters"

How Dare Him! He Should Be Bowing To Our Chinese Overlords!

Santorum: Democrats Worried Obama Will 'Go To Indonesia And Bow To More Muslims' (VIDEO)

During an interview with Fox News' Greta Van Susteren last night, former GOP Senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) warned that Democrats feared that President Obama "may go to Indonesia and bow to more Muslims."
I think the Democrats are actually worried he may go to Indonesia and bow to more Muslims. That's sort of the concern that every time he seems to go to these other countries, he comes back or starts some sort of controversy that hits his popularity. I'm serious.
Van Susteren interrupted to ask if he was really being serious, or just sarcastic, and Santorum used the opportunity to backpeddle.
I'm being sarcastic about bowing to Muslims, but I'm saying he has not had his trips overseas go over well here in the United States.


:(, boyd, teen wolf

Students pitch in to help save town from flood

Some children lugged sandbags that weighed more than they did. Determined teens showed up just after dawn with groups of friends, ready and willing to shovel. New groups of kids arrived by the busloads, all ready to join the race to protect their city from the rising Red River.
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:') It's awesome to see people helping their community. I hope the damage from the impending flood is minimum.
Venture Bros

save the rainforest and orangutan, don't eat Nestle

It might give you a break, but it won't necessarily be such a good thing for the Indonesian rainforests and endangered orangutans, says a new campaign targeting Nestle's KitKat and other chocolate bars.

The campaign, launched by Greenpeace International on Wednesday, warns that popular chocolate bars such as KitKat and Coffee Crisp use palm oil from Sinar Mas, one of the largest forestry companies in Indonesia where rain forests and peatlands are being replaced by palm tree plantations that eliminate natural habitat and reduce carbon dioxide sinks.

While other companies, such as Unilever and Kraft, have already cancelled contracts with Sinar Mas, Nestle quickly responded to the Greenpeace campaign with a statement announcing it too, would cancel contracts with the supplier.

"We will continue to pressure our suppliers to eliminate any sources of palm oil which are related to rainforest destruction and to provide valid guarantees of traceability as quickly as possible," the company said on its website. "We will not portray palm oil as free of such oils unless such guarantees are clear and reliable."

The environmental group launched its online campaign at with a new report analyzing the evidence along with a video mocking Nestle's "take a break" slogan for its KitKat bars, one of the most popular chocolates in the world.

Greenpeace Canada senior campaigner Stephanie Goodwin said the environmental group does not oppose the use of palm oil or vegetable oil in chocolate bars, but is urging the industry to develop higher standards to ensure production is sustainable.

"Despite today's announcement, Nestle will still be using palm oil from Sinar Mas in KitKats, because they'll still be getting it from their other suppliers," said Goodwin. "The Greenpeace campaign will continue until Nestle has cut the Sinar Mas group from its supply chain completely."

In the meantime, she said consumers could write to chocolate companies urging them to take action. As an alternative, she said they could also buy certified organic chocolate or bars that don't contain vegetable or palm oil.

"We're not suggesting that people should stop eating chocolate bars, we think that everyone should eat chocolate at Easter," she said. "We think that consumers and the public need to be sending strong messages all the way back to Sinar Mas, saying: 'Change the way you do business.' "

Greenpeace estimated that Nestle's annual use of palm oil had almost doubled over the past three years, to 320,000 tonnes.

Four per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions are estimated to be coming from the destruction of the Indonesian rainforests, Goodwin added.

mmmm orangutan fingers

Seven hours after
Greenpeace launched the campaign, Nestle headquarters in Switzerland released a statement saying that they have stopped direct purchases of palm oil from rainforest destroyer Sinar Mas. However, Nestle has not stopped indirect purchases of Sinar Mas palm oil from third party suppliers including food giant Cargill.
Youtube also removed the video pretty fast.

source, found a better article
Sufjan Smile

Daily Beast Female Elites Denounce Global Human Rights Violations While Ignoring U.S. Crimes

Promising solutions for international women's rights problems, the Daily Beast's 'Women in the World' conference ended up supporting the status quo for US foreign policy.

On the last day of the Daily Beast's Women in the World summit in Manhattan, a weekend-long conference offering "stories and solutions" to some of the most serious human rights problems faced by women across the globe, "60 Minutes" reporter Lesley Stahl sat down with Barack Obama's senior adviser and confidant, Valerie Jarrett, for a pleasant conversation. After some initial "hard news" questions on health care -- no mention of Stupak or the public option -- Stahl invited Jarrett to provide some biographical bullet points tracing her early career as a Chicago real estate lawyer (the job made her so "miserable" she would sit in her office and cry), to the Daley administration (she was "scared to death" of the mayor), to the White House, asking her at one point, as a single mom, "How do you do it?"

As a preface to a broader discussion of the White House and its policies, all this would be fine and good. Jarrett is a public figure, and, as some of the conference speakers eloquently demonstrated over the weekend, personal narrative has its value (especially given the tough reality for single moms). But before long, the interview devolved into something resembling a PR show. Stahl gave Jarrett ample room to wax poetic about the great privilege of working for Barack Obama, an "extraordinary" man full of "tenacity," "empathy," "inner strength," and so on, without asking her a single substantive question about the policies his administration has adopted -- policies with significant implications for the rest of the world. "Every day I pinch myself," Jarrett mused.

Yes, Stahl touched on the uncomfortable fact that many Obama supporters are "disappointed" with the president. But she didn't offer much of a hint as to why, and Jarrett took the opportunity to say that it's not about Obama so much as the mess he inherited from George W. Bush. (Never mind that Obama has continued some of Bush's worst policies; the real issue is that the White House has had problems "getting the message out.")

Barack Obama is the most powerful man in the world. Jarrett is one of his closest advisers, "the person who gets the boss," as Stahl put it. This is an administration making life and death decisions every day -- not just on health care, but on Afghanistan and Pakistan as well. A basic question Stahl might have asked at an event titled "Women in the World" could have considered the real-life impact the Obama White House's policies have on women in the world, especially those under U.S. occupation or U.S. drone attacks.

An example: On Saturday, March 13, just one day before this genial conversation in midtown Manhattan, an investigation by Jerome Starkey of the Times of London reported that a "botched" nighttime raid last month carried out by U.S. and Afghan soldiers led to the deaths of two pregnant women and a teenage girl, which NATO then attempted to cover up.

Bibi Shirin, 22, had four children under the age of 5. Bibi Saleha, 37, had 11 children. Both of them, according to their relatives, were pregnant. They were killed instantly

Shirin was four months pregnant and Saleha was five months. The other victim, Gulalai, 18, was engaged. She was wounded and later died. "We had already bought everything for the wedding," her soon-to-be father-in-law, Sayed Mohammed Mal, the Vice-Chancellor of Gardez University, said.

Not only did this story apparently go unreported in the U.S., thousands of miles away, in the Bizarro World of the Stahl/Jarrett interview, the U.S. is not waging war in Afghanistan, or if it is, it's not worth asking the president's top adviser about it. Aside from an audience member's suggestion that Michelle Obama meet with African first ladies, the single question on U.S. foreign policy came from a different audience member, who asked whether the fact that Jarrett was born in Iran informs her sense of foreign policy.

Yes, Jarrett answered, noting that both she and President Obama spent "our formative years outside of the United States." Reminiscing about when the two first met, she said, "… I think one of the things that we both recognized is just how extraordinary the United States is and sometimes you see that a little bit better when you have some distance from it."

"... When you think of the human rights violations that occur in other parts of the world," she went on, "we are ahead on that."

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Source: AlterNet

A longie but a goodie. The Conference had a lot of really strong voices, as the article mentions, and made some alright strides on issues like FGM or forced marriage. But when it comes down to it, nobody wants to address our foreign policy, our continuation of Bush-era policies, or the impact this has on women in Afghanistan and Pakistan, or propose rational solutions to these things.

A link to the Daily Beast coverage of the summit, for reference.

Chancellor of Oxford University: Tuition Fees 'Preposterously Low'...

University tuition fees are "preposterously" low and must rise if British higher education is to remain world class, the chancellor of Oxford university said today.

Lord Patten, who was a Tory cabinet minister in the 1980s, said universities should be allowed to charge the fees they wanted, as long as they admitted students on intellectual merit and not their ability to pay.

The amount universities receive from tuition fees and government grants barely covers half the £16,000 it costs to teach an undergraduate at Oxford, Patten told the annual conference of the Independent Schools Council in London. The university had to make up the rest in endowments and alumni donations.

Tuition fees – currently £3,225 per year in English universities – are less than half the sum lecturers pay annually for their children's childcare, Patten, a former governor of Hong Kong, said.

He suggested ministers cap teaching grants for universities and, in return, allow institutions to set whatever tuition fee they think appropriate.

"It is preposterous that we can only charge for teaching an undergraduate less than half the cost that those who do that teaching would have to pay for creche facilities for their own children," he said.

Universities should not stop receiving public funds for teaching because it is a "common good which deserves to have public assistance," he said. "But I would be prepared to cap the funding of our teaching grant if we were able as a result to set whatever tuition fee we wanted. Oxford gets about half [the cost of teaching an undergraduate in a year] in teaching grants and tuition fees. I don't think it is realistic to say that the gap should be closed by the taxpayer; we have to use our endowments and alumni. But it is plain that we are going to require higher tuition fees."

Patten's comments come ahead of an independent review on fees, led by the former BP chief executive, Lord Browne. The review is due after the general election. On Thursday, the Government's Higher Education Funding Council for England will announce budgets for individual universities.

Patten attacked the government for "insulting" universities with plans for nearly £1bn of cuts.

Last month, universities were asked to save £449m in 2010-11. On top of this, Alistair Darling, the chancellor, announced higher education savings of £600m in the pre-budget report in December. The elite Russell Group of universities, which includes Oxford and Cambridge, warned that the cuts could bring universities "to their knees" within six months.

Patten said: "Whereas governments in France, Germany and the US have recently announced big increases in university spending, in this country higher education faces £1bn of cuts with more in the pipeline. With cuts on this scale, it is worse than insulting for Lord Mandelson – the business secretary in charge of universities – to tell us that the science budget is being protected and for the higher education minister to advise universities to apply to America for research funding."

Universities in the UK "purport" to do the same thing, he said. Instead, they should specialise in particular subjects.

"We pretend to give every 18-year-old qualified to go on to higher education the same experience at the same sort of institution," he said. "That represents an expensive and inefficient delusion.Collapse )
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Bachmann To Impeach Media and All Un-American Traitors For Treason!!

Bachmann Soon To Be Queen of Congress! Overthrow The Traitors!

Bachmann Accuses The Media Of ‘Treason,’ Claims Use Of ‘Deem And Pass’ Warrants ‘Impeachment’

Last Friday, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) began freaking out that House Democrats are considering the use of a common parliamentary procedure known as either a “self-executing rule” or “deem and pass” to finish health care reform. “If they do that then American citizens have standing to sue against this bill,” said Bachmann on Friday. The next day, Bachmann suggested that citizens “don’t have to follow” the health care law if it passes using that procedure. (In fact, there will be an up or down vote on the bill.)

On Sean Hannity’s radio show yesterday, Bachmann went even further by accusing the media of “treason” for “not telling this story” that Speaker Nancy Pelosi “would even consider having us pass a bill that no one votes on.” Bachmann then suggested that if health care passed through “deem and pass,” it would warrant calls of impeachment:

BACHMANN: Well, yeah, and the other thing is treason media. Where is the mainstream media in all of this not telling this story? This is a compelling story.


BACHMANN: That the Speaker of the House would even consider having us pass a bill that no one votes on.


BACHMANN: That should laugh her out of the House and there should be people that are calling for impeachment off of something like this. That’s how bad this is. I mean trust me, Dennis Hastert never could have gotten away with this.

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franklin sherman

File-Sharing and Link Sites Declared Legal in Spain

After early calls to shut down a Spanish file-sharing site were dismissed, music group SGAE pinned its hopes on success at the full trial. But, the outcome for them was nothing short of a disaster. The judge declared that both non-commercial file-sharing link sites and non-profit use of P2P networks are legal in Spain.

Despite many rulings which have declared file-sharing sites legal if they don’t profit directly from copyright infringements, in recent years its become something of a custom in Spain for music rights groups to attempt to close down sites in advance of a full hearing to assess their legality.

One such case involves eDonkey link site and although fairly low profile worldwide, the site will now start to set headlines.

Back in May last year, site and bar owner Jesus Guerra received a complaint from music group SGAE (Sociedad General de Autores y Editores) which alleged the site abused the copyrights of its members.

In a June court appearance, SGAE hoped to get an early injunction to shut Elrincondejesus immediately in advance of a full hearing which would happen at a later date. Guerra protested that his site is legal, carries no advertising and simply provides links like any other search engine.

Judge Raul N. García Orejudo threw out the request for an immediate closure of the site in July, declaring: “P2P networks, as a mere transmission of data between Internet users, do not violate, in principle, any right protected by Intellectual Property Law.”

Now the full case has been heard and the outcome is nothing short of a disaster for SGAE.

In order to assess if there had been a breach of Spain’s Intellectual Property Act, the court had to decide if simply providing links to copyrighted works was the same as making those works available to the public. Judge Raul N. García Orejudo decided that offering an index of links and/or linking to copyright material is not the same as distribution and noted that under current law there is nothing which prohibits such sites from operating.

In making his decision the judge also looked at the finances of the site. He said the site was not a business since the operator of Elrincondejesus made no direct or indirect profits from its operation. Apparently on a roll after confirming non-profit file-sharing sites are legal, he gave users of those sites a nice surprise too.

“P2P networks are mere conduits for the transmission of data between Internet users, and on this basis they do not infringe rights protected by Intellectual Property laws,” he declared. Therefore, if an individual uses P2P networks like eDonkey or BitTorrent to obtain copyright material for non-profit reasons, the act is completely legal.

The outcome of this case is such bad news for SGAE it’s expected they will appeal the decision. Or get the law changed. Or both.
The Gang

The Right to Choose: Family Lessons

by Shruti Swamy

Far from a generational divide, the author, as a young feminist, finds sustenance in the ways the women in her family handled their more limited life choices.

The author's grandmother, Baa, at her house in Mumbai.

It’s hard for me to imagine what my grandmother’s youth was like, spent in rural and then urban India. At 16, she was arrange-married to a man she had met once years before, at 17 pregnant with her first child, by 21 the mother of three young children. There are few pictures of her from that time, so I’ve made them up for myself; Baa on her wedding day in hot, heavy clothes; Baa working in the green fields through her first pregnancy, chewing ginger for strength; Baa with another baby in her arms, cooking dinner for her family.

I had been thinking of her when I first read in the New York Times about a perceived generational divide in feminist responses to the Stupak amendment (“In Support of Abortion, it’s Personal v. Political). Feminists who remembered a time when abortion was illegal expressed an urgency to take action that they felt was lacking in later generations. Sheryl Gay Stolberg wrote that long-time feminists like NARAL Pro-Choice President Nancy Keenan tend to view reproductive choice “in stark political terms—as a right to be defended, like freedom of speech or freedom of religion.” A later blog post for Newsweek quoted University of Maryland assistant professor Kristy Maddux, who specializes in historical feminism, saying younger women “don’t have any reason to believe that it matters if they go out and protest. Instead, they talk about their positions to friends and neighbors.”

In these discussions, I am caught again and again by the word “choice,” referring to a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion, and in a larger sense, to afford to women the same choices and freedoms as men. My grandmother, as a young woman, had few choices. She could not choose to stay single or childless or not work to support her family. And yet, she managed to change her life by staying in school—while many of her peers dropped out when they got married—and even made it through college. Years later, my mother also made a choice that she was not allowed to make when she enrolled in a prestigious engineering school in India where the student body was less than one percent female. And now, like other women in my generation, I am the beneficiary of the struggle of their choices, standing in front of so many more open doors.

It’s a temptation to say that too many choices have left young feminists apathetic, an unwritten implication hovering over these articles. I sometimes long for my understanding of what the sixties was like—a time when movements and marches were overwhelming and effective, and issues were urgent and full of moral certainty. Now, yes, we must fight for reproductive rights, but also for same sex marriage, and against global warming and the war in Darfur—all complicated and inextricably linked. Like activists who came before us, we must make the hard choice of which issues are the most urgent; while the idea of a feminist movement, or what it means to be a feminist, seems more fractured every day.

How do we measure a generation’s apathy? It’s true that many young people have, until the Stupak Amendment, taken reproductive rights for granted—more than 30 years have gone by since Roe v. Wade. And access to abortion has never come so directly under attack on a national level (though, of course, many women still face challenges in exercising this right, Stupak or no). Many older feminists do find young people in their ranks. “What’s becoming increasingly clear is that there are young, energetic feminists committed to fighting for equality for women,” observes blogger Karen. “Maybe younger feminists want to form their own organizations rather than build those that emerged from second wave feminism. Maybe they’ll do both.”

I baffle my mother with my inability to make small decisions; what to order at a restaurant, whether or not to buy a new blender. Her decisions are careful and she makes them without doubt or regret. When she was growing up, she tells me, it was easy to choose what dress to wear in the mornings—she only had three. Our decisions get tougher with more options. But the world will not sit still while we choose which way we will enter it to fight. With minute to minute updates, blog posts, YouTube videos, Twitter feeds, we can see horrors unspooling before our eyes if we look in the right places. We can hear always the voices of those who have come before us, choose something, choose quickly, choose now.

So what do we, as young feminists, owe to ourselves—and to the activists who fought for the choices we now can enjoy without thinking? What kind of choices do we want to leave behind for future generations? I can’t answer these questions for anyone but myself, yet it’s important to keep asking them. And the choice of what, how and when to fight, far from making us apathetic, can embolden us and widen our impact. If we are taking to the net as well as the street, if we are making the quiet choices as well as the loud ones, if we are engaging personal issues as well as global ones, well, we are choosing. We are answering the question—lucky us!—as a resounding “yes.” We will choose, and choose again, so that more people can have more choices. We choose everything.


team science

The Führer Cult: Germans Cringe at Hitler's Popularity in Pakistan

Germans are popular in India and Pakistan, but not always for the right reasons. Many in South Asia have nothing but admiration for Adolf Hitler and still associate Germany with the Third Reich. Everyday encounters with the love of all things Nazi makes German visitors cringe.

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I remember a lecturer at my uni telling similar stories about a business trip to Iran.
So I guess Godwin's Law doesn't apply to those countries?

I AM NO MAN: Can Fantasy Geekdom Be Feminist Friendly?

I know it's not exactly The Second Sex or The Women's Room or any of the other great titles you might expect to find on a feminist's bookshelf, but I love Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Well, OK I am: but only a bit.

And while I may have all the films on extended DVD, and the collector's gift box sets that came complete with the statues of the Argonath and Gollum; and while I may also have my own, almost complete set of collector's models, with display stands, that doesn't make me a nerd. And nor does the fact that I went to the Lord of the Rings exhibition when it came to London's Science Museum back in 2003 (where I came away with a fantastic poster of the Witch King). It just means that I'm a fan. Or something.

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Source A.

(And now, the rebuttal:)

Are geeks and feminists allies or enemies? One feminist geek tackles the question head-on with her praise of a Lord of the Rings heroine — but geekdom has more to offer than its (few) female characters.

Cath Elliott, writing in the Guardian, seeks to rehabilitate Tolkien's saga in the face of accusations of misogyny. She writes, "I don't hold with the theory that LOTR geekdom is an exclusively male preserve. In fact some of the most ardent LOTR fans that I've ever come across have been women." While acknowledging that the books don't have many female characters (Peter Jackson had to beef up the few roles there were to give his actresses some screen time), Elliott holds up Rohan warrior Éowyn as a feminist exemplar. She writes,

Éowyn is up there with all the best kick-ass feminist heroes. She's brave, she's rebellious, and most importantly of all, she's gender non-conformist. In fact, it's her refusal to bow to patriarchal conditioning and accept her designated gender role that ultimately saves the day.

Elliott knows her Tolkien, and musters some relatively "kick-ass" Éowyn quotes ("But no living man am I! You look upon a woman.") So at first I wasn't sure why I felt sort of peeved by her analysis. On further reflection, I think it has to do with her conclusion:

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Source B.

Anti-Abortion Extremists Go to “Hell”

In the escalating fury of anti-abortion groups since George W. Bush left office, Operation Rescue/Operation Save America (OR/OSA) has announced that protesters will storm “the gates of hell” to shut down family planning clinics in Charlotte, N.C. the week of July 17-24.

Even though OR/OSA’s head extremist, Phillip “Flip” Benham, was recently arrested in Charlotte for stalking and for violating a South Carolina law against residential picketing, his organization is still determined to harass doctors and patients. But as part of its National Clinic Access Project, the Feminist Majority Foundation is trying to prevent Benham and the other protesters from setting up ladders and scaffolding on the property of the Family Reproductive Health Clinic and using amplified sounds systems to scream at patients from ladders on the other side of a 6-foot fence.

Even more unsettling have been threats against abortion-providing doctors in Charlotte, as Benham has plastered the clinics and home neighborhoods of two doctors with menacing “WANTED” posters that include threatening language as well as their names and addresses of their private offices and homes. The posters encourage people to contact the doctors, “expose [them] to the powerful Gospel of Christ” and make them stop “killing babies.” At least three abortion providers who were murdered in the past had been similarly targeted with “WANTED” posters that were distributed publicly.

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disney || excited
  • brecho

women's history month with brecho: day seventeen

Don't have time to bold today. Sorry!

Reggae Girl pleads for women's football

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica -- Alicia Wilson's voice was laced with pain, but with a faint hint of optimism as she begged for the life of women's football in Jamaica.

Wilson, a senior player based here, said the axing of the senior and Olympic women's programmes by the cash-strapped Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) was a bitter pill to swallow.
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Stupak dismisses nuns’ letter: I don’t listen to them, I listen to ‘leading bishops’ and Focus on the Family.

Today, “60 leaders of religious orders representing 59,000 Catholic nuns” sent a letter to federal lawmakers urging them to pass the Senate health care legislation. They decried the “false” information floating around about abortion provisions and said that the bill’s “historic new investments” for pregnant women are the “REAL pro-life stance.” The nuns’ letter was a significant and unusual break with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which continues to denounce the legislation. This afternoon, Stupak dismissed the nuns, saying that he listens to only male religious figures and far-right religious organizations:

Congressman Bart Stupak, D-Mich, responded sharply to White House officials touting a letter representing 59,000nuns that was sent to lawmakers urging them to pass the health care bill.

The conservative Democrat dismissed the action by the White House saying, “When I’m drafting right to life language, I don’t call up the nuns.” He says he instead confers with other groups including “leading bishops, Focus on the Family, and The National Right to Life Committee.”

It’s Stupak and the bishops, however, who are increasingly isolated. The nuns join other prominent pro-life figures and organizations — including the Catholic Health Association — in urging passage of the bill.


Glenn Beck Makes Case for Profiling, Classifies Dogs as "Potential Canine Terrorists"

Finding Puts Dog Origins in Mideast

Borrowing methods developed to study the genetics of human disease, researchers have concluded that dogs were probably first domesticated from wolves somewhere in the Middle East, in contrast to an earlier survey suggesting dogs originated in East Asia.

This finding puts the first known domestication — that of dogs — in the same place as the domestication of plants and other animals, and strengthens the link between the first animal to enter human society and the subsequent invention of agriculture about 10,000 years ago.
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Dog domestication and human settlement occurred at the same time, some 15,000 years ago, raising the possibility that dogs may have had a complex impact on the structure of human society. Dogs could have been the sentries that let hunter gatherers settle without fear of surprise attack. They may also have been the first major item of inherited wealth, preceding cattle, and so could have laid the foundations for the gradations of wealth and social hierarchy that differentiated settled groups from the egalitarianism of their hunter-gatherer predecessors. Notions of inheritance and ownership, Dr. Driscoll said, may have been prompted by the first dogs to permeate human society, laying an unexpected track from wolf to wealth.

source wants a biscuit.
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