December 14th, 2010

News you can use.

City to Bill Motorists Who Crash and Need Aid

Attention New York City motorists: If you get into an accident and need the FDNY to come to the rescue, expect a bill.

Facing serious budgetary constraints, Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration has decided to join a growing number of municipalities around the country that are charging motorists involved in accidents for emergency-response services.

The FDNY plans to start sending out bills July 1.

This so-called "crash tax" or "accident tax" has left bill recipients in other places around the country outraged, and, already, a number of states have banned the practice.

The New York City Fire Department, the largest municipal fire department in the nation, "can no longer afford to provide" emergency services to motorists "at no cost to those who require them," a statement from the FDNY said.

A public hearing on the new charges will be held at FDNY headquarters Jan. 14. While FDNY officials promised to consider the public's input, the policy change doesn't need City Council approval and already has the support of FDNY Commissioner Sal Cassano and the mayor.

So, how much will this cost motorists?

A vehicle fire or any other incident with injuries will cost $490. A vehicle fire without injuries will cost $415. And incidents without fire or injuries will cost $365.

These charges apply to every vehicle involved in the incident.

"We want to relieve pressure on the taxpayer and place it on those at fault and their insurance," said Steve Ritea, a spokesman for the FDNY. "Right now if you're at fault at an accident or a vehicle fire, you get a free ride. And that should not be borne by the taxpayers."

But according to the rules proposed by the FDNY, the department will bill the "motorist to whom motorist services are provided."

Mr. Ritea confirmed that the motorist—whether that person is at fault or not—will receive the bill. The bill from the FDNY will include instructions informing motorists that they can refer the bill to their insurance company, he said.

Mr. Ritea said the FDNY will have discretion over whether it bills motorists.

"If we're talking about an act of God situation, a tree falls on car, then we have discretion, obviously not to bill in those cases," he said. "If the accident is exceedingly minor, we show up on scene and nobody needs medical assistance and there's no fire or anything like that, then, we have discretion."

While some fire departments have started charging people for services delivered to put out house fires, Mr. Ritea said the FDNY isn't currently considering that.

"We have no intention to move this beyond what we're talking about auto accidents at this time," he said.

Last year, the city responded to roughly 14,000 vehicle incidents in the five boroughs. Of those, about 2,900 involved fires and about 7,500 were accidents with injuries.

Officials in New York pointed to other cities that have already started charging motorists. In California, for example, 55 cities have enacted similar policies and another 20 are considering it.

Sam Sorich, president of the Association of California Insurance Companies, called these charges "bad public policy." Many insurance companies don't cover charges from emergency service providers, he said, leaving accident victims responsible for the payment.

"Firefighters and policemen who come to a scene of an accident are seen and should be seen as providing relief and service, not there as a fee-generating opportunity for the city," Mr. Sorich said. "The optics are not good."

New York City officials project this policy will generate $1 million in annual revenue.

New York City motorists reacted Thursday with outrage about the prospect of getting billed next year for accidents.

"That sucks," said Barret Ramnath, 48 years old, a Queens resident who makes his living as a driver. "Accidents happen, and you can't be held responsible. They need the money that badly that they are going to screw us?"

Chris Coppinger, 49, a sales manager who works at a music company and lives on Long Island, also denounced the plan. "It's a bad idea," he said.

"I already pay so much money right now," he said, referring to toll charges and the cost of parking in Manhattan.

"I don't choose to have an accident. It happens," he said.

Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, chairwoman of the council's Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services, said she is concerned about the new charges.

"I don't like the idea of passing a cost onto somebody who is driving a vehicle. However, if it's the insurance industry, I'm open," she said. "But really, at the end of the day, it will probably be passed onto the person purchasing the insurance."

Ellen Melchionni, president of the New York Insurance Association, said she views these charges as "double billing."

"If the police show up at your house for a domestic violence dispute or a break-in, are they going to send you a bill? Those are services that are typically covered when you pay your taxes," she said.

Ms. Melchionni said most auto insurance policies in New York don't cover these types of charges. And if the insurance companies are required to cover the charges, she predicted that premiums would increase.

Justin McNaull, a spokesman for AAA, called these charges "short-sighted."

"We have concerns that some motorists might be less likely to call police to crash scenes, allowing drunk drivers, uninsured drivers, drivers with suspended licenses, and others to go undetected," he said.

Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith said New York City is simply following the path blazed by other cities that bill motorists and their insurance companies.

"Now New York City will, too," he said. "We are going to search for other ways to shift costs away from overburdened taxpayers and towards accountable parties."

Wall Street Journal
Ponyo- Morse Code

'The One Drop Rule' Persists

'The One Drop Rule' Persists

The centuries-old “one-drop rule” assigning minority status to mixed-race individuals appears to live on in our modern-day perception and categorization of people like Barack Obama, Tiger Woods, and Halle Berry.

So say Harvard University psychologists, who’ve found that we still tend to see biracials not as equal members of both parent groups, but as belonging more to their minority parent group. The research appears in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

“Many commentators have argued that the election of Barack Obama, and the increasing number of mixed-race people more broadly, will lead to a fundamental change in American race relations,” says lead author Arnold K. Ho, a Ph.D. student in psychology at Harvard. “Our work challenges the interpretation of our first biracial president, and the growing number of mixed-race people in general, as signaling a color-blind America.”

In the United States, the “one-drop rule” — also known as hypodescent — dates to a 1662 Virginia law on the treatment of mixed-race individuals. The legal notion of hypodescent has been upheld as recently as 1985, when a Louisiana court ruled that a woman with a black great-great-great-great-grandmother could not identify herself as “white” on her passport.
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Dear Ryan Murphy: I Have Words About Glee

Dear Ryan Murphy,

Last night, at the behest of numerous readers who have asked for my take on the new “fat girl” on your show Glee, I braved the endless trailers for Tron: Legacy and ventured forth onto to pick up a couple of recent episodes.

It turns out my limit for Glee episodes these days is 1.35 — it was just over a third of the way through the second one that I became utterly convinced that some small furry animal, maybe a hamster high on meth, had worked its way inside my skull and was running around screaming like a man on fire. I closed the Hulu window and the sensation stopped. I think we can both agree that your show is not good for my head, though I already came to that conclusion awhile back, which is why I stopped watching it in the first place.

I don’t know, Ryan Murphy; by all rights I should love your show. It has singing and dancing and it is quirky as fuck and it features an ensemble cast. These are all things I like. Part of the problem is that at some point, Glee became self-aware, and, like Skynet, turned upon all of us, we who had given it life. The Glee of today no longer serves its audience, a cheery distraction on a Tuesday night, but has morphed into an unstoppable train of high-kicking solo-belting sermon-preaching cultural ubiquity. It is everywhere now; it cannot be killed. It is made of liquid metal. There came a moment when all of the characters suddenly turned loathsome and sanctimonious, and still I watched, fearful that the show would find me in the night and murder me as I slept if I should dare to ignore it.

But I did eventually manage to survive a separation, and our time apart has done little to rekindle the spark these characters once had for me. There are exceptions, of course. Though most of the cast leaves me feeling dead inside, Chris Colfer as Kurt is practically perfect in every way. I had no opinion of Dianna Agron, who plays Quinn, until she responded so memorably to the GQ photoshoot controversy on Tumblr, which made my wrinkled little chickpea of a heart go pitter-pat. My heart, she is easily wooed by anyone who can offer a few smart and rational words in the face of hand-waving controversy, and sadly she is not wooed so often these days.

But I am delaying the inevitable: there is also the marvelous Ashley Fink.

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How the police and then the BBC tried to humiliate Jody McIntyre

The story of Jody McIntyre has been referred to a few times across blogs and news reports since the last demo, but not enough to do it proper justice.

Late yesterday, as the full story came out once videos were uploaded to YouTube, the tactics of the Met Police and sneering BBC presenters was in full display. 20yr old Jody has cerebral palsy and went to the demo on a wheelchair. He was twice dragged out of his wheelchair by police officers.

The second time it happened it was caught on video (below). It clearly shows officer pulling him out of the wheelchair and dragging him across the road and pulling him to the pavement. Students watching in horror clearly shout: “What the fuck are you doing, the man is in a wheelchair,” but they are ignored.

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The Guardian and the Independent also have articles on this, but the BBC's utter fail wasn't included on them.

FIFA president says gays should refrain from homosexuality during Qatar World Cup

Sepp Blatter, the president of FIFA, has dismissed concerns that Qatar is unsuitable to host the 2022 World Cup because of its attitude to homosexuality saying that gay football fans should refrain from having homsexual sex while in the country.

The tiny country punishes homosexuality with up to five years in prison or lashes. Last week, gay football groups said gay fans would be unable to travel to the Qatar for the games because of its oppressive laws.

The Gay Football Supporters’ Network said it would boycott all activities related to the 2022 World Cup, although LGBTory suggested that the attention on the country could persuade it to become more tolerant.

The FIFA president was speaking in Johannesburg at a post-2010 World Cup legacy project launch.

When asked about gay football fans visiting Qatar, he is said to have joked: “I would say they should refrain from any sexual activities.”

But he added: “We are definitely living in a world of freedom and I’m sure when the World Cup will be in Qatar in 2022, there will be no problems.

“You see in the Middle East the opening of this culture, it’s another culture because it’s another religion, but in football we have no boundaries.”

According to Press Association, he continued: “We open everything to everybody and I think there shall not be any discrimination against any human beings be it on this side or that side, be it left, right or whatever.”

He added: “If they want to watch a match somewhere in Qatar 2022, I’m sure they will be admitted to such matches.”

Mr Blatter said that there was “too much concern for a competition that will be done only in 12 years”.

“But this gives me the opportunity to say that in FIFA, and this is in the statutes of FIFA, whether it is in politics, whether it is in religion, we don’t want racism, and we know what this means, and neither do we want discrimination,” he said.

“What we want is just to open this game to everybody and open it to all cultures and this is what we are doing in 2022.”

Source: Pink News

Oh fuck you.

UN secretary-general says culture must not override gay rights

The secretary-general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, has called for homosexuality to be decriminalised globally.

Speaking last Friday on Human Rights Day, Mr Ban said that people were “not put on this planet to live in fear of their fellow human beings” and that human rights must trump cultural attitudes.

His speech in full

He was speaking on a panel with US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice.

The panel condemned violence against LGBT and the continued criminalisation of gay people in more than 70 countries worldwide.

Ms Rice said that the US would seek to reinstate reference to gay people in a UN resolution condemning executions. Arabic and African countries successfully amended the measure in a vote last month.

Mr Ban said: “Where there is tension between cultural attitudes and universal human rights, universal human rights must carry the day.

“Personal disapproval, even society’s disapproval, is no excuse to arrest, detain, imprison, harass or torture anyone – ever.”

He said he had been asked by a Ugandan gay rights campaigner, Frank Mugisha, to call for the end of all laws against homosexuality.

“He asked us to rally support for the decriminalisation of homosexuality everywhere in the world,” Mr Ban said. “And that is what we will do.”

Mr Ban added: “Together, we seek the repeal of laws that criminalise homosexuality, that permit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, that encourage violence.

“People were not put on this planet to live in fear of their fellow human beings.”

He urged people to work together to change attitudes.

“Stigma and discrimination will end only when we agree to speak out. “That requires all of us to do our part. To speak out – at home, at work, in our schools and communities,” he said.

Cary Alan Johnson of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said Mr Ban’s statement was important and meaningful.

“It has been a challenging year for LGBT rights at the United Nations,” he said.

“We have seen conservative forces try to keep organisations like IGLHRC out of the UN and we’ve suffered some painful setbacks as these same governments work to eliminate or prevent human rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

“The importance of this event and the support of figures like the UN secretary-general and US ambassador cannot be underestimated.”

Source: Pink News

(no subject)

  • Published 18:36 13.12.10 Latest update 18:36 13.12.10

Iran summons U.K. envoy over 'inhumane' policing of student protest

U.K. Ambassador Simon Gass accuses Iranian authorities of depriving the nation of 'their fundamental freedoms' on the embassy's website.



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Hi y'all. I'm doing my final paper on how the media is portraying the student protests. Do y'all have any links or useful stuff to share?
Also... Any links on how the BBC is compromised by the government? 
  • sora50

Obama Should 'Man Up' Columnist Explains What He Meant

One of the most scathing criticisms of Obama came in a recent column written by The Washington Post's Courtland Milloy, an African-American, who dubbed Obama "the Great Placator" and demanded that he "man up."


Dade (interviewer): In your column, you describe him as the Great Placator. How does he balance these competing interests but, at the same time, show some authenticity as a black man, which is what you were basically asking for?

Milloy: I don't want to change Obama's personality. I'm told that in private he's a different kind of person. He gets angry, he shows emotion. On the basketball court he swings his elbows and talks a little trash—

Dade: Or gets elbows swung at him.

Milloy: I would like to meet that guy. The person who's in the White House now…I don't really know, I don't think. In my experiences growing up in the South, and then here in the Washington area, I've never seen a black guy like President Obama before.

Dade: Really?

Milloy: No. Never. … There's a person who appears on the podium; who you see walking from the helicopter to the White House that's clearly not the sum total of President Obama. There is a black guy who apparently talks stuff; who shows emotion. I'd like to see that guy.

I'll tell you, he'll be the first…president in my lifetime who had to be that constrained. When he goes out of his way to please those who can't be pleased—meaning the Republicans—and wants to make nice with the Tea Party and is willing to compromise on things that he campaigned on as principle, combined with this demeanor—which is almost a shrinking violet, in some ways—then it becomes problematic.

I remember when the congressman from South Carolina, Joe Wilson, shouted out [to] President Obama "You lie" and President Obama looked at him almost like a schoolmarm would a kid.


Full interview here Thoughts?

Italy: Silvio Berlusconi vote win sparks Rome clashes

Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi has narrowly won a vote of confidence in the lower house of parliament by 314 to 311, prompting street protests.

In Rome, violent clashes have left 50 police officers and at least 40 protesters injured.

The marchers set fire to cars, threw stones and overturned bins in Italy's worst street violence in recent years.

Mr Berlusconi's critics say he is too deeply mired in scandal and corruption allegations to remain in office.

The Italian prime minister, 74, is halfway through a five-year term but his position has been weakened by a series of scandals, largely involving his relationships with women.

He has also lost the support of his closest political ally, Gianfranco Fini, along with dozens of his supporters, depriving him of his automatic majority in the lower house.
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magic, geeking, angel

Godzilla Violently Wrecking Tokyo Too Violent for Tokyo?

Tokyo Anime & Manga Ban Passes

Tokyo’s ban on anime, manga and games featuring “virtual crimes” or which are “likely to interfere with the healthy development of youth” has passed after the DPJ agreed to support it.

The DPJ’s only addition to the critical portion of the law was a short rider which requests “prudent application of the law in light of any artistic, social, scientific or satirical merits the work might express” – it does not however add any legal obligation to consider these, or establish any clear or indepdently enforced criteria for judging whether a work can be declared “harmful” or not.

In response...

Kadokawa To Boycott Tokyo Anime Fair Over Ban

(some nsfw photos here)
Due to the size of Kadokawa’s vast publishing empire and its many subsidiary publishers, the move would see everything from Haruhi and Ore no Imouto to Gundam and Index removed from TAF (although anime adaptations of certain titles published by Kadokawa might still be present if produced by independent companies), denuding it of many hit titles and probably devastating the event, even without any other companies following suit.

To be honest, finding out this didn't freak me out but I did get interested while reading potential fallout from this. If businesses set up shop elsewhere, they take a huge chunk of economy with them.