December 9th, 2010

Murasaki Shikibu

We all knew Anonymous was going to arm up...

Hackers strike back to support WikiLeaks founder

WikiLeaks supporters struck back Wednesday at perceived enemies of the site and its jailed founder Julian Assange, launching hack attacks against Mastercard, Swedish prosecutors, a Swedish defense lawyer and a Swiss group that froze Assange's bank account.

Internet hacktivists operating under the label "Operation Payback" claimed responsibility in a Twitter message for causing technological problems at MasterCard, which pulled the plug on its relationship with WikiLeaks on Tuesday.


MasterCard said it was "experiencing heavy traffic," but spokesman James Issokson told The Associated Press the company would not confirm whether WikiLeaks was involved. Issokson said MasterCard was trying to restore service Wednesday but was not sure how long that would take. The website's technical problems have no impact on consumers using credit cards for secure transactions, he added.

MasterCard is the latest in a string of U.S.-based Internet companies — including Visa, Amazon.com, PayPal Inc. and EveryDNS — to cut ties to WikiLeaks in recent days amid intense U.S. government pressure.

The online attacks are part of a wave of support for WikiLeaks that is sweeping the Internet. Twitter was choked with messages of solidarity Wednesday for the group, while the site's Facebook page hit 1 million fans.

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Honestly, I'm a wee bit surprised it took Anonymous this long to start.

Sad news...

Hello, everyone.

cattyhunts, also known as TotallyFierce for a long time, passed away on Monday.

http://www.facebook.com/TotallyFierce?v=wall

Obituary:

http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/charleston/obituary.aspx?n=nicole-elaine-fairchild&pid=146983433

I was priveleged to be Nikkie's friend for the past three years or so. She was an amazing and smart person. She LOVED this community. LOVED it. I joined because of her, she was such a booster for it.

She was a very passionate person, and was into wrestling, graphic making, comics, cooking, baking, politics...she created ontd_p_cooks as well. I'm especially sad she passed away around the holidays, when she should be cooking and baking and getting ready to be with her family.

She was so good and amazing and fun and I'll miss her greatly. As I know many others will. She touched so many lives, in those she met in life and here on the internet. I don't know what else to say about her, other than she was loved very much and will be missed for a very long time.
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Mississippi school: Bikini photo negates lesbian's suit


A Mississippi school district hopes photographs of a teenage lesbian in a bikini will help lead to the dismissal of a lawsuit claiming her rights were violated when a picture of her in a tuxedo was left out of the yearbook's senior section. In the latest documents filed in U.S. District Court, the Copiah County School District attempts to shoot down Ceara Sturgis' argument that her right to gender identity was violated.

Sturgis has said she likes to wear masculine clothes and that's why she donned a tuxedo instead of a drape to appear in the 2010 Wesson Attendance Center yearbook.

The district, which is asking the court to dismiss Sturgis' lawsuit, contends that the teenager had maintained the drape was offensive and a form of sex discrimination. Yet, Sturgis chose to wear a bikini to the senior party, which is a school function, according to the documents. Pictures from the pool party also appear in the yearbook.

"Indeed, it is hard to conceive of an item of clothing more sexualizing and feminine than a bikini," the district said in the documents.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed the lawsuit on Sturgis' behalf, said Sturgis also had on a pair of long shorts in the swimsuit photo.

"They're just trying to bully her into dropping the suit," Bear Atwood, legal director for the ACLU of Mississippi, said Wednesday.

"The point is did the school engage in gender stereotyping when they made her wear a specific outfit designed only for girls" in the senior portrait, Atwood said, referring to the drape girls were required to wear.

Sturgis, who graduated from Wesson Attendance Center in May, is now a student at a community college, Atwood said.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit against the school district in August, months after another Mississippi lesbian teenager, Constance McMillen, sued the Itawamba County School District over its policy against same-sex prom dates.

The ACLU claimed the central Mississippi school district discriminated against Sturgis on the basis of sex and gender stereotypes. Her photo and name were kept out of the senior section of the yearbook. However, Sturgis' photo in the tuxedo did appear on a personal page in the yearbook that was purchased by her mother.

The suit challenged the district's policy allowing male students, but not female students, to wear a tux for senior portraits. The suit alleges a violation of Title IX, the federal law prohibiting discrimination based on gender.

The district said in court documents filed Dec. 3 that Sturgis "has no constitutional right to be included on the senior portrait page of the yearbook in a tuxedo."
 


source
Pride & Prejudice

Wikileaks cables reveal Shell's grip on Nigeria

The oil giant Shell claimed it had inserted staff into all the main ministries of the Nigerian government, giving it access to politicians' every move in the oil-rich Niger Delta, according to a leaked US diplomatic cable.

The company's top executive in Nigeria told US diplomats that Shell had seconded employees to every relevant department and so knew "everything that was being done in those ministries". Collapse )Source
WTF 3, oh god my head, duck, Kaidan

Do people need nutrition? Wingnuts are skeptical.

I have seen some serious stupid in my time while dealing with wingnuts online. Just this morning, I had to gently correct a wingnut who assumed that not wanting children or marriage personally means that I hate parents or married people. (My mother would be so surprised!) I also saw a really cute example of stupid plus overstretching with one of my favorite wingnut tics, which is using the word “nihilism” without having the ability to open up a dictionary to discover its definition. (Alas, there was no discussion of ”Kantian nihilism”, which really puts this pseudo-intellectual bamboozling on the next level.) But by far, the dumbest wingnut assumption I’ve seen all week is Matthew Boyle at the Daily Caller, who appears to believe that poor people only eat one dinner a month.

Boyle decided to do an “investigation” into what he believes is a scandalous fact about food stamps, which is you can buy food with them. Boyle’s investigative technique appears to have been to defraud the government by lying about his rent to get food stamps---he claimed to pay $1,375 in rent, when in fact his parents pay for it---and he got what he believes is a ridiculous $105 a month for food for a single man.

To prove how ridiculously high this is, he went to Whole Foods and spent $51.10 on a single meal.

To be fair, Boyle did buy more food than a single meal’s worth. He also bought---after letting his money roll over into December---$100 worth of candy. We are meant to believe that people on assistance are sucking down gourmet meals and sugar on our dime, and then probably getting taxpayer-funded orgasms. And you, incredulous reader, aren’t getting any partner orgasms, even though you work so hard by explaining carefully to women you meet on online dating sites that most women are crap. The unfairness of it!

Of course, most of us with working brains immediately see the flaw in this argument, because we actually buy food for our houses, and whether we have assistance or not, we usually budget for it. Therefore, when we got to the store, we don’t spend our entire food budget on a single meal and a bunch of candy, because then we will have nothing left for the rest of the month. Let’s assume the average month has 30 days in it, and most people eat 2-3 meals a day. We could, like Boyle, make entirely different assumptions, of course, but I prefer to have my assumptions align with reality. That means that if you blow your entire food budget on one meal, you have no money for an average of 74 meals a month. (By the way, according to my math, that comes down to an average of $1.33 a meal, if you skip half of your breakfasts, which I’m assuming many people do. However, children often don’t, so things get tighter if you factor that in.)

After looking at these inconvenient facts that should be obvious and should put a kink in Boyle’s outrage generating, I came to the only conclusion possible: Boyle thinks the poor don’t eat more than once a month. And even then, they do it just for pleasure, because they have no nutritional needs.

Which makes me wonder if Boyle is a creationist or otherwise subscribes to views that are hostile to basic, proven biology. He’d almost have to be, because it would be sort of weird to be like, “Well, yeah, evolution is true, but I believe that people who make below a certain income don’t need nutrients to survive.” I’m reminded of Rush Limbaugh’s rants against food stamps that are based around the fact that some people living in poverty are fat. Again, a calculator plus a 7th grader’s grasp of basic biology would dispel the notion that depriving someone of all food altogether would be an effective response to obesity, but perhaps Limbaugh is also in denial about the nutritional needs of human bodies.

Hey, I know it sounds weird to accuse conservatives of perpetuating nutrient denialism, i.e. the belief that people don’t need food to survive. But there’s all sorts of subterranean wingnut beliefs that are passed around in email forwards, fundamentalist churches, and other social occasions that only come to the light of day when there’s a political conflict that brings them to the surface. So why not? They believe all sorts of other crazy shit, so why not add “people, at least poor people, don’t need to eat” on to the pile?

Source.

Ladies and gents, Privilege Denying Dude in the FLESH.
panda goes wheee!

Way to serve and protect, guys. >:(

Despite court order, Aurora refuses to return seized cash
December 9, 2010 8:24 AM | 6 Comments

Aurora is trying to keep a little more than $190,000 it seized from two brothers after one of them was pulled over in a traffic stop that didn't even result in a traffic ticket.

Officials have refused to hand back the money even though a judge has sided with the brothers. The matter is due back in court today.

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Source
absinthe, wormwood

Tuition fee Vote

MPs have backed government plans to raise university tuition fees to a maximum of £9,000 a year in England.

Following a impassioned five-hour debate, the motion passed by a majority of 21, despite a rebellion by several Lib Dem and some Tory MPs.

The debate took place while hundreds of students protested at Westminster.

Ministers said that the fees increase, from £3,290 a year, was necessary and fair, but Labour argued it would deter the poor from going to university.

All Lib Dem MPs said before the election that they would oppose any rise in tuition fees, although the coalition deal included an agreement to allow them to abstain in any vote on the issue.

Several rebelled against the government, but all Lib Dem ministers present backed the plans.

Lib Dem MPs Mike Crockart and Jenny Willott resigned as junior ministerial aides to enable themselves to vote against the fees rise.

Former Lib Dem leaders Sir Menzies Campbell and Charles Kennedy were also among those set to oppose the government.

As well as Labour, all 12 MPs from Northern Ireland are thought to have reject the proposals, as are SNP and Plaid Cymru members and Green Party's Caroline Lucas.

But the government, which has a majority of 83, won the vote - meaning 42 of the two parties' MPs would have had to oppose a measure for it to be defeated, assuming all other MPs also voted against.

The motion, which still has to be backed by the House of Lords, raises the ceiling on annual tuition fees for English students to £9,000 - although the government says that would only apply in "exceptional circumstances" where universities meet "much tougher conditions on widening participation and fair access".

Another motion, due to be voted on soon by MPs, says the "basic threshold" for fees should rise to up to £6,000 a year, and would be introduced for the 2012-13 academic year.

source

321 for, 302 against. Close. We need to keep fighting this.

Also, the police tactics today we massively sketchy. Will upload video asap.
turkey dance

Indiana boy denied life-saving treatment

An Indiana baby needs life-saving surgery, but the state health care agency -- whose budget was slashed this year -- won't pay for it.

Six-month-old Seth Petreikis suffers from complete DiGeorge syndrome, which keeps him from developing a thymus, an infection-fighting glandular organ. He needs a transplant that's been pioneered by a specialist at Duke University in North Carolina.  But the procedure costs $500,000, and the state's Family Social Services Administration won't pay for it under the state's Medicaid, reports the Northwest Indiana Times.  It claims that the treatment is "experimental" -- even though 58 of 60 children to receive it have survived.

We last wrote about Indiana's FSSA after some of its staffers told parents to drop off their developmentally disabled children at homeless shelters. The parents had failed to receive schedule Medicare waivers to pay for care, after Gov. Mitch Daniels -- who is now weighing a possible 2012 GOP presidential run -- cut the agency's funding to deal with a budget shortfall.

As we've reported, Arizona, suffering from its own budget crunch, has cut funding for certain medical transplants for people with diseases such as leukemia and hepatitis B.

Seth's parents have set up a fund for those who want to contribute to the cost of his treatment.

Source

This is just sick. I hope somewhere, there are charities that can help because it seems like the state is set on letting this child die. Unbelievable!

eowyn

challenging the prison-industrial complex

GA Prison Inmates Stage Historic 1-Day Peaceful Strike


By: Bruce Dixon
Thursday, December 9, 2010 10:57 am

In an action which is unprecedented on several levels, black, brown and white inmates of Georgia’s notorious state prison system are standing together for a[n] historic one day peaceful strike today, during which they are remaining in their cells, refusing work and other assignments and activities. This is a groundbreaking event not only because inmates are standing up for themselves and their own human rughts, but because prisoners are setting an example by reaching across racial boundaries which, in prisons, have historically been used to pit oppressed communities against each other.

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Did state prisoners protest or not?



By Rhonda Cook
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
4:36 p.m. Thursday, December 9, 2010

At least four Georgia prisons were locked down Thursday in an effort to head off an expected inmate protest demanding pay for the work they do, more education opportunities and better living conditions.

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When I saw reports on this I thought it would make for a good follow up to the excellent recent post and discussion we had on the prison-industrial complex and racism.

eta: Mods - I wonder if we could get a "prison" and/or "prison-industrial complex" tag created?
Home of the enslaved.

Going to a club -- or boarding an airplane?

The War on Fun — a term coined by the Guardian in 2006 to describe the crackdowns on nightclubs, special events, and urban culture by police, NIMBY neighbors, and moderate politicians — continues to grind on in San Francisco.

The latest attack was launched by Mayor Gavin Newsom and the San Francisco Police Department, which has proposed a series of measures to monitor and regulate individuals who visit bars or entertainment venues, proposals that the embattled Entertainment Commission will consider at its Dec. 14 meeting.

Perhaps most controversial among the dozens of new conditions that the SFPD would require of nightclubs is an Orwellian proposal to require all clubs with an occupancy of 100 persons or more to electronically scan every patron's identification card and retain that information for 15 days. Civil libertarians and many club owners call this a blatantly unconstitutional invasion of privacy.

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San Francisco Bay Guardian
bartlet for america

And now for some good news!

EUROPEAN PATENT OFFICE: "BROCCOLI PATENTS" ARE NOT LEGAL



The EPO's Enlarged Board of Appeal
has now rendered its decisions in the so-called "broccoli" (G 2/07) and "tomato" (G 1/08) cases, bearing on the correct interpretation of  the term "essentially biological processes for the production of plants (or animals)" used in the European Patent Convention (EPC) to exclude such processes  from patentability.

The Enlarged Board of Appeal is the highest instance in the EPO's judiciary and, as all other Boards of Appeal of the EPO, acts in full independence of the Office in carrying out its duties. Its task is to ensure a uniform application of the patent law under the EPC.

In its decision the Board concludes that a process for the production of plants involving sexually crossing whole plant genomes, and the subsequent selection of plants is not patentable. The mere inclusion of a technical step which serves to enable or assist the performance of the steps of sexually crossing the whole genomes of plants or of subsequently selecting plants does not override this exclusion from patentability. While technical devices or means, such as genetic markers, may themselves be patentable inventions, their use does not make an essentially biological process patentable. The Board held finally that processes for producing plants by inserting or modifying a  trait in the genome by using genetic engineering do not rely on sexual crossing of whole genomes and may therefore be patentable. However, in such a case sexual crossing and selection steps should not be in the claims, since adding further technical processing steps before or after the steps of sexual crossing and selection does not render such processes patentable either.

Sauce is really a press release.

This is really good news, actually. Some of the dangers of patenting food that go beyond it's WTF -ness: farmers can be harassed by seed companies (like Monsato does to corn and soy farmers in the US), it generally really increases the power of industrial farming as opposed to small family farms, keeps natural variety and biodiversity down (which is total BS) and generally makes our vegetables less natural. I couldn't find any English-language coverage of this at all, save for this press release, which I think is symptomatic for the way people tend to not even think of these things. Wikileaks' next big target should be the food industry.

Also, because I only just discovered it: