May 22nd, 2010

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  • mercat

Metafilter users save two Russian girls from sex trafficking

Way to go, internet. A Metafilter user was concerned that his friends, two Russian immigrants promised work as lounge hostesses, were potentially walking into a dangerous situation. Other commenters saw the signs of a human trafficking operation and intervened.

The Metafilter thread grew increasingly intense as the commenters cracked the case in real time, beginning with the suspicion that the girls' offer to be lounge hostesses in New York City wasn't quite that and ending, after a flurry of phone calls and online sleuthing, with a Metafilter commenter in New York intercepting the girls at the train station.

It's hard to say if they were, in fact, in for as dire of a situation as many of the commenters worried they were—though it's certainly a possibility—but it is clear that the girls were being lured into the work under false pretenses. The individual encouraging them to travel to New York, it turns out, was in no way affiliated with the agency sponsoring the girls' trip to America. This text message, supposedly sent by one of the two girls, speaks volumes:

D! Listen. I don't know how thanks you. Lux lounge is a strip bar, if we will go there, i don't know what would be... Thank you so much.! You saved our lifes. 3:33PM

This is one of those rare but powerful reminders of the internet's incredible capacity for doing good. You can read the full episode unravel in the Metafilter thread or read a recap at Gawker (potentially NSFW advertisement for the "lounge" in question).

Source and original Metafilter thread; Gawker article with a more detailed write-up, however does contain semi-NSFW image.

I know the source is Gizmodo but it's pretty much the best/only summary I could find of the situation, bar reading the original thread. But it's a fascinating read and I think good testament to the powers of the internet. =)
interlac k
  • kynn

Nebraska: Green cards thrown at Latino high school soccer players

'Green cards' bring suspensions

Several Lincoln East students were suspended Wednesday in connection with a postgame incident that sullied the high school's Tuesday night boys state soccer championship match against Omaha South.

The students admitted making and distributing “green cards,” a reference to immigration status aimed at South's largely Latino soccer team.

Also Wednesday, dozens of East students began forming a group to “plan action steps to mend bridges with the South High community,” said Dennis Mann, East's associate principal.

“Their foremost concern is not how to protect our reputation, but how to heal hurt relationships with South,” he said.

East won the game 4-2 in overtime. But what happened afterwards marred the victory.

Dozens of green paper rectangles were tossed into the air as fans and players celebrated on the field at Creighton University's Morrison Stadium. The “green cards” lay at midfield behind the Lincoln players and coaches as they received their trophy and medals.

As soon as the ceremony ended, several East administrators and a tearful student rushed onto the field and hurriedly scooped up the paper.

The incident offended South staff and supporters, many of whom had attended graduation ceremonies just before the game.

The incident turned what should have been a joyful Wednesday at East into “a day of mourning,” Mann said.

“The day after you win a state championship, there should be celebrations,” he said. “That's not what's happening. . . . It doesn't feel right to celebrate.”

Mann said that only one person, whom he would identify only as a “Lincoln East fan,” actually threw cards on the field.

“One fan threw a stack of cards,” he said.

He said video of the postgame celebration confirmed that.

When pressed whether the person was an East student, an adult or a college student, as some reports have claimed, Mann would say only, “I'm going to call him a Lincoln East fan.”

“We're taking ownership of this,” he said.

East students made the cards and distributed them, and some other students knew about it and didn't stop it, Mann said.

The students' original intention, he said, was to have the crowd hold up the cards en masse during the game, the way a soccer referee would hold up a red or yellow card.

“Very inappropriate, and very hurtful,” Mann said. “But we were able to put the kibosh on that, thanks to some students who did step up (and tell administrators). But we were appalled and ashamed to see the cards come out on the field.”

He said the students who had planned the green card stunt did not know about the fan's plan to throw them onto the field.

“The kids who have had disciplinary action taken against them are also agreeing to be part of the solution,” Mann said. “They have agreed to take actions, including writing letters of apology, to help heal the hurt that they have caused.”

Lincoln East Principal Susan Cassata said East's athletic director sent an apology to South's athletic director. Cassata said she planned to apologize to South Principal Cara Riggs.

“There are a number of students in some classes who are upset about this and are in the process of writing apologies on their own,” Cassata said.

She said East administrators and faculty will express their disappointment to students “and how that makes us look as an institution, and how we're going to grow from this.”

“It's probably the most heart-wrenching, disappointing event that I've ever been around with students and their behavior that tarnished an event that was otherwise spectacular on both sides,” Cassata said.

South players appeared to ignore the green cards, if they saw them. But many coaches and fans noticed them.

South Athletic Director Roni Huerta said the school had received several calls Wednesday morning.

She said the South community was offended and needs to be assured that Lincoln school officials “are dealing with this at the highest level.”

Riggs said Wednesday that South and East administrators are trying to work together to deal with the incident and prevent things like it from happening in the future.

“We're very grateful that they're being sensitive and responsive to what happened, and that they're taking it very seriously,” she said.

“Sometimes in our own school community, a few kids do something that can represent our whole school community, so we can feel for that, too.”

She said South leaders “don't want it to take away from a beautiful graduation and a beautiful (soccer) season and an amazing setting for most of the evening.”

Omaha Police Capt. Rich Gonzalez grimaced as the cloud of green paper fluttered onto the field in front of what was believed to be the largest crowd in state high school soccer history.

“To try to humiliate another team, especially when it has to do with race, is a complete act of unsportsmanship,” Gonzalez said.

A few minutes later, an East student was distraught as she picked up the paper.

“This makes me want to cry,” she said. “This does not represent my school.”

South coach Joe Maass called the tossing of the cards “classless.'' Maass talked to East coach Jeff Hoham about the incident.

“Fans do silly things,” Hoham told Maass. “Make sure your kids know it wasn't intentional.”

“It never is,” Maass replied as he walked away.


please note that this isn't hatred against illegal immigrants. undocumented immigrants don't have green cards. remember this when people try to tell you that anti-immigrant sentiments are purely against "those illegals" for breaking the law. okay that point didn't really make much sense. it may be true, but it's hard to tell exactly what they meant and i was sleepy when i posted this. :)
Murasaki Shikibu

The iPad Factory Suicides: A Fact Check

The iPad Factory Suicides: A Fact Check

To be suspicious of Apple manufacturer Foxconn, especially when it comes to treatment of workers, is reasonable: They have issues. But today's Telegraph report about a spate of suicide attempts at Foxconn's Longhua plant can be explained away by statistics.

The story, cynically titled "Four suicide attempts in a month at Foxconn, the makers of the iPad," effortlessly blends readers' established (and well founded) suspicions of the company with the release of the iPad, invoking last year's confounding and legitimately suspicious suicide of Sun Danyong, who fell to his death after allegedly misplacing a secret iPhone prototype. In the last month, four workers have apparently attempted suicide, all by jumping from their dormitories. It's unclear from the story's vague phrasing if two or just one of the workers died, but still: four attempts. A bizarre claim by Foxconn reps that one of the victims had been "fighting with her boyfriend." A patchy past. The iPad. The perfect news story. As Telegraph writer Malcolm Moore puts it, "[A] spate of four suicide attempts within a month is a sign that something is rotten in the Foxconn plant."

Here's the problem: As acknowledged in the article, Foxconn's Longhua plant is believed to house 300,000 people. China's suicide rate was last recorded by the WHO at 13.9 deaths per 100,000 people per year, though it is suspected by many to be higher—later estimates peg the number at 23. The lower number would translate to 41.7 suicides per year, or about 3.5 per month, per 300,000 people; the higher estimate would translate to 69 deaths a year, or 5.8 suicides per month. And remember, the report only claims that one—maybe two—of the victims actually died.

In any case, for the Telegraph to report that there were "four suicide attempts in a month" at Foxconn's factory as if it were a shocking story is disingenuous innuendo, because as far as I can tell, this is below the national suicide rate. The international media wouldn't report that the Chinese city of, say, Chiayi, which is also home to around 300,000 people, saw four of its citizens attempt to commit suicide last month, because it's not news. They don't make iPads in Chiayi.

Foxconn deserves scrutiny, as do the largely out-of-sight hardware manufacturers that we all indirectly support when we buy our gadgets. (And with repeated labor problems and multiple allegations of violence against workers and press, they've earned it.) And if suicide is endemic, or if the circumstances of campus suicides are suspicious, the world should know. But crying wolf and implying wrongdoing without almost any evidence will only dull peoples' interest, and make it harder to talk about real problems in the future.


So conditions may be horrific, but actually fewer people are committing suicide than the national average there. Conditions needs to be fixed, that's beyond a doubt, but maybe it's not just the working conditions causing the suicides, if fewer people than the average are killing themselves.

Texas OKs school textbook changes

AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas State Board of Education adopted a social studies and history curriculum Friday that amends or waters down the teaching of the civil rights movement, religious freedoms, America's relationship with the U.N. and hundreds of other items.

The new standards were adopted after a final showdown by two 9-5 votes along party lines, after Democrats' and moderate Republicans' efforts to delay a final vote failed.

The ideological debate over the guidelines, which drew intense scrutiny beyond Texas, will be used to determine what important political events and figures some 4.8 million students will learn about for the next decade.


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Art: Colored Pencils

Rep. Gutierrez wants path to citizenship for foreign-partners in same-sex relationships

Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez on Thursday endorsed a plan that would allow the foreign-born partners of gay and lesbian Americans to follow the same path to citizenship as heterosexual spouses, adding a new element to the howling national debate over immigration reform.

About six months ago, when Gutierrez first laid out plans for a House immigration reform bill, the inclusion of same-sex partner rights seemed too politically risky. But now, in an exclusive interview with the Tribune, the congressman said he believes the coalition in favor of reform is strong enough to make the bill, in his words, "truly inclusive."

"The underlying part of any comprehensive immigration bill is family unity," Gutierrez said. "We need to speak more clearly and more articulately and more frequently that the (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community, and same-sex couples and their bi-national relationships, are part of families."

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Ani: Amazon Warrior

Maryland girl's comments to Michelle Obama revive debate over mixed-status families

Even as immigration authorities promised they would not try to deport the mother of a Silver Spring second-grader, the girl's conversation with Michelle Obama reverberated through the family's community and the country Thursday, reviving a debate about mixed-status families.

As of 2008, 4 million U.S.-born Hispanic children had at least one parent who was an illegal immigrant, according to the Pew Hispanic Center. The number is growing, with 300,000 to 400,000 children born to illegal immigrants each year, said Jeffrey S. Passel, a senior demographer at the center, who said that families are often neglected in the immigration debate.

Almost half of the households of undocumented immigrants include couples with children, a much larger percentage than households of those born in the United States.

At her school Wednesday, the second-grader told the first lady, "My mom doesn't have any papers," and she asked why the president was "taking away everybody that doesn't have papers."

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creepy but cute

Jordan Romero, 13, 'becomes youngest to scale Everest'

Photo courtesy of Romero family

A 13-year-old American boy has become the youngest person to reach the summit of Mount Everest, his family says.

Jordan Romero, from California, telephoned his mother from the peak of the world's highest mountain, she said.

"Mom, I'm calling you from the top of the world," Leigh Anne Drake quoted her son as saying.

He was climbing with his father and three Sherpa guides. The previous record was held by a Nepalese boy of 16.

The 13-year-old has now conquered the highest mountains on six of the world's seven continents.

He climbed Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro aged 10. He just needs to scale the Vinson Massif in Antarctica.

He has also scaled Mount Kosciuszko in Australia, which some call the eighth continent.

The team set off from Nepal's capital, Kathmandu, last month, heading for the base camp on the Chinese side of the mountain.

While Nepal insists that anyone planning to climb Mount Everest must be 16, China does not impose any age restrictions.

Some mountaineers have criticised the Romero family for letting him attempt the feat but his father said the ascent from the Chinese side is less dangerous, the AFP news agency reports.

Last month, his mother told the BBC he would do some school work during the trip.

Also on Saturday, Apa Sherpa, 50, climbed Everest for the 20th time, surpassing his own record.


From earlier post on ONTDP: "According to his mother, Jordan is: "taking his algebra book and some writing assignments" on his ascent." Note impressed tbh. I wonder if he took his books up though ? After the fake Harvard kid (a fantastic commentary on the construction of the illusion of perfection in the privileged echelons of society), I can't take any of these people seriously.

Al Jazeera English - Focus - Shooting hope

Shooting hope
By Toni Oyry

The film Shooting Hope follows a project that uses photography to bring Palestinian and Lebanese teenagers together.

In this article, filmmaker Toni Oyry describes how the teenage residents of impoverished Palestinian refugee camps and their Lebanese peers are learning to see the bigger picture of their neighbouring communities through the lens of a camera.

Al Jazeera English - Focus - Shooting hope

The video on the page is really worth watching, no matter your opinion on Al Jazeera </small)

Sexual harrassment in the workplace: "She was asking for it"

Another edition of ABC's "What Would You Do"

This time a manager of a restaurant sexually harasses a waitress. At first many people step up and help her. Until she's replaced with a waitress wearing a tight dress. Unlike most of these "experiments", barely any women help the waitresses out, especially the one wearing the tight dress. One lady even says with that outfit she was asking for it.

movies | Impish Fräulein2

Picspam: The Vietnam War: 35 years later.

[April 30th] was the 35th anniversary of the Fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War, and May 4th was the 40th anniversary of the shooting of protesting students at Kent State University.

The Vietnam War and America's involvement in it affected the lives of millions for well over a decade, exacting a massive human cost with millions of deaths and countless injuries - both physical and mental - that plague many of those involved to this day. United States military involvement and troop strength grew rapidly after 1964 - at its highest level in 1968, with over 500,000 troops on the ground. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. now bears the engraved names of 58,267 of those troops. By this war's end, the Vietnamese had been fighting foreign involvement or occupation in various wars for over a hundred years.
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Rising maternal mortality rate causes alarm, calls for action

Rising maternal mortality rate causes alarm, calls for action
The U.S. rate nearly doubled in a decade and is higher than in 40 other industrialized countries. Experts cite numerous possible reasons and steps that could be taken.

After a difficult pregnancy, weeks of bed rest and an emergency cesarean section, Liz Logelin got only a quick peek at her daughter before the newborn, healthy but premature, was whisked away to the neonatal unit.

The next day, a nurse arrived with a wheelchair to take the first-time mother to see her baby. With husband Matt by her side, Logelin rose, took a few steps, said, "I feel light-headed," and died.

She was 30.

"She never got to hold her baby," said Matt Logelin, who lives in Los Angeles with the couple's daughter Madeline, now 2. "That is one of the hardest things for me."

Each day in the U.S., two women die of problems related to pregnancy or childbirth. The numbers have been rising, for reasons that are not entirely clear. After plunging in the 1900s, maternal mortality rates in California tripled between 1996 and 2006, from 5.6 deaths per 100,000 births to 16.9.

Nationally, the rate, defined as deaths from obstetrical causes within one year of giving birth, rose from 7.6 per 100,000 to 13.3 per 100,000.

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Source, Page 2

Tory MP says torture could be ‘a bonus’

The Coalition agreement makes a clear, unequivocal and welcome statement

We will never condone the use of torture.

Not all of its Parliamentary supporters agree.

As the Daily Mail reports, Monmouth MP appears to be not so much tacitly condoning torture as actively welcoming it, in the case of suspected Al Qaeda or Taliban members

The Conservative MP for Monmouth, David Davies, insisted that the Government should repeal the Act after the new commission has properly considered the legal implications.

‘Active members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban are living in this country and not being deported because of concerns about their human rights if something horrible happens to them if they are sent home,’ Mr Davies said.

‘Personally I would have thought that would be a bonus rather than a reason for not sending them back.

‘I don’t mind if the Act is torn up, changed or amended. But I hope that whatever this commission comes up with, the views of the vast majority of people in this country who believe it is fundamentally wrong are respected’

Source: Liberal Conspiracy

Liam Fox calls for faster UK troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

The Secretary of State for Defence Dr Liam Fox MP

Image by Defence Images via Flickr

The defence secretary, Liam Fox, wants to speed up the withdrawal of British troops from Afghanistan, saying that Britian is not a "global policeman".

His comments came as he joined the foreign secretary, William Hague, and the international development secretary, Andrew Mitchell, on a trip to Afghanistan to meet political and military leaders in the capital, Kabul.

While Hague indicated that the new coalition government was not planning a strategic break with existing UK policy on Afghanistan, Fox said expectations of Britain's role in the country needed to change. He also risked angering the president, Hamid Karzai, by describing Afghanistan as a "broken 13th-century country".

In an interview with the Times, published ahead of their arrival today, Fox said the goals of the mission in Afghanistan were primarily military rather than humanitarian.

"We have to reset expectations and timelines," he told the paper. "National security is the focus now. We are not a global policeman.

"We are not in Afghanistan for the sake of the education policy in a broken 13th-century country. We are there so the people of Britain and our global interests are not threatened."

Fox said he would like the forces to return to the UK as soon as possible, and ruled out any transfer of British troops from Helmand province to neighbouring Kandahar.

His comments were a contrast to those of Mitchell, who told journalists on the flight to Kabul that development was "absolutely crucial".

"We need to ensure that we help the Afghan people to build a functioning state," he said.

"That's about providing basic education and healthcare facilities, but it's also about ensuring there are opportunities for promoting livelihoods so that people have jobs.

"If we are going to prioritise making sure there is a functioning state in Afghanistan, then development, the work we are doing in that respect, is absolutely crucial."

Aides insisted there were no differences between the three ministers.

Hague told reporters on the flight that "the question is how to support the efforts of the Afghan government and our Nato partners, not whether to support them".

"We are taking stock as a new government, we want to see how things are working, we want to hear the military advice, we want to talk to the Afghan government themselves, we want to discuss the detail with the United States."

The visit was the first to Afghanistan by members of the new government and is intended to reflect the high priority being given to the conflict.

It came as the death of another British serviceman was confirmed yesterday, the 286th in the campaign and the first fatality since the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition took office.

On arrival the ministers, all Conservatives, met General Stanley McChrystal, the US commander of Nato operations in Afghanistan, and other military leaders.

Britain has about 10,000 troops in Afghanistan – part of a US-dominated force that is expected to grow to around 140,000 at its height in a few weeks. Washington is sending more troops in a bid to seize insurgent-held areas before a planned withdrawal starting in July 2011.

Source: The Guardian
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