February 12th, 2012

Calvin & Hobbes: Superhero
  • calybe

Police attack Aafia demo in Karachi

Police have attacked demonstrators in Karachi demanding the release of Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, who is imprisoned in the United States.

On Friday, police beat protesters with batons, used water cannons, and fired tear gas canisters to disperse people marching toward the U.S. Consulate in Karachi.

About a dozen activists, including the sister of Aafia Siddiqui, Dr. Fouzia Siddiqui, were arrested.

The detainees were charged with attempting to enter the “red zone” of the city. The protesters were holding placards and banners bearing anti-U.S. slogans. They also denounced the Pakistani government for taking a hands-off approach in dealing with the Siddiqui issue.

The demonstrators had announced their intention to besiege the U.S. Consulate to highlight the plight of Siddiqui, who is currently detained at the Federal Medical Center Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas, which provides specialized medical and mental health services to female prisoners.

In September 2010, a court in New York sentenced Siddiqui to 86 years in prison after she was found guilty of opening fire on FBI agents and U.S. military personnel in a police station in Ghazni, Afghanistan, where she was being interrogated in 2008.

The mother of three vanished in Karachi with her three children on March 30, 2003. The following day, local newspapers reported that she had been abducted by U.S. forces and charged with terrorism.

Human rights groups say that Siddiqui had secretly been transferred to the U.S. base in Bagram, north of Kabul, and tortured for five years prior to the alleged incident in 2008. She was taken to the U.S. in July 2008 and was convicted in a New York court in February 2010.

In Karachi on Friday, a spokesman for the protest march expressed resentment over the arrest of their leaders and called for their immediate release.

He said the demonstrators’ intentions were completely peaceful but the police deliberately created a chaotic situation by using excessive force against the protesters, led by Dr. Fouzia Siddiqui.

According to one report, she was later released.

Source: Tehran Times
john stewart shocked
  • aviv_b

By A Nearly 2 To 1 Margin, Cable Networks Call On Men Over Women To Comment On Birth Control

By Faiz Shakir and Adam Peck posted from ThinkProgress Media on Feb 10, 2012 at 4:03 pm; TP interns Zachary Bernstein and Fatima Najiy conducted the research for this report.

President Obama’s regulation mandating that health insurance plans offer free birth control is an issue that most directly affects women. And yet, the cable news chatter over this controversy has been driven mostly by men, according to a new ThinkProgress analysis.

From Monday through Thursday evening, the leading cable news channels – Fox, Fox Business, MSNBC, and CNN – invited almost twice as many men as women onto their shows to discuss contraceptive coverage.

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I'm shocked, I tell you shocked! Apparently there is a shortage of women who are qualified to speak on the topic of women's health.

You know, we could really use a 'mansplaining' tag. 

Calvin & Hobbes: Rant! Rant! Rant!
  • calybe

Syria unrest: Arab League set to discuss next move

 Basic supplies are said to be running low in Homs

Arab foreign ministers are meeting in Cairo on Sunday to decide their next move after a resolution on Syria failed in the UN Security Council last week.

Officials say the ministers could discuss a joint observer mission with the UN and recognition of the main opposition group.

Syrian government forces have continued to bombard Homs and entered the town of Zabadani on Saturday.

Activists say at least 35 people died, while a general was killed in Damascus.

Brig-Gen Dr Isa al-Kholi , the head of a Syrian military hospital, was shot dead by members of an "armed terrorist group" as he left his home in the north of the city, the state news agency said.

It is believed to be the first assassination of a senior officer in the capital since the uprising began.

Draft resolution
Foreign ministers from the Arab League are due to meet on Sunday afternoon.

Officials said the ministers were expected to discuss a joint Arab-UN observer mission to replace the Arab League monitors who left in January because of continuing violence.

Formal recognition of opposition group the Syrian National Council could also be discussed, but there was not full agreement on this, an unnamed official told reporters.

The league meeting will be preceded by a meeting of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), which expelled Syria's ambassadors from its member countries during the week.

GCC and Arab League member Saudi Arabia is also circulating a draft resolution at the UN General Assembly, similar to the one vetoed in the Security Council by China and Russia.

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Source: BBC

OP: I'm surprised by how little coverage of the ongoing war in Syria there is in _p.
Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Tokyo Governor Ishihara keeps on being Ishihara.

Tokyo governor lashes out at nuclear referendum plan

Shintaro Ishihara, the outspoken governor of Tokyo, says he has no intention of supporting a referendum on nuclear power being sought by a citizens group.

“(An ordinance for the referendum) cannot be introduced. I have no intention of introducing it,” Ishihara told a news conference on Feb. 10.

The citizens group, Minna de Kimeyo Genpatsu Kokumin Tohyo, plans to file a petition with the Tokyo governor seeking the establishment of an ordinance for the referendum.

The group said Feb. 9 that the number of signatures supporting the petition is expected to reach 300,000, above the minimum required 214,236.

At the news conference, Ishihara was scathing in his criticism of anti-nuclear movements.

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I put up the two articles because they had different quotes from Ishihara, showing the full breadth of his douchery. The AJW article has more info, but the DY article has the quote that made me want to kick Ishihara in the shins. Yeah, people in Japan are anti-nuclear power because of "sentiment" over having been bombed. It has noooooothing to do with Fukushima Dai-ichi melting down and spewing radiation.

Even Critics of Safety Net Increasingly Depend on It

INDSTROM, Minn. — Ki Gulbranson owns a logo apparel shop, deals in jewelry on the side and referees youth soccer games. He makes about $39,000 a year and wants you to know that he does not need any help from the federal government.

“I don't demand that the government does this for me. I don't feel like I need the government,” said KI GULBRANSON, who counts on an earned-income tax credit and has signed up his children for free meals at school.

He says that too many Americans lean on taxpayers rather than living within their means. He supports politicians who promise to cut government spending. In 2010, he printed T-shirts for the Tea Party campaign of a neighbor, Chip Cravaack, who ousted this region’s long-serving Democratic congressman.

Yet this year, as in each of the past three years, Mr. Gulbranson, 57, is counting on a payment of several thousand dollars from the federal government, a subsidy for working families called the earned-income tax credit. He has signed up his three school-age children to eat free breakfast and lunch at federal expense. And Medicare paid for his mother, 88, to have hip surgery twice.

There is little poverty here in Chisago County, northeast of Minneapolis, where cheap housing for commuters is gradually replacing farmland. But Mr. Gulbranson and many other residents who describe themselves as self-sufficient members of the American middle class and as opponents of government largess are drawing more deeply on that government with each passing year.

Dozens of benefits programs provided an average of $6,583 for each man, woman and child in the county in 2009, a 69 percent increase from 2000 after adjusting for inflation. In Chisago, and across the nation, the government now provides almost $1 in benefits for every $4 in other income.

Older people get most of the benefits, primarily through Social Security and Medicare, but aid for the rest of the population has increased about as quickly through programs for the disabled, the unemployed, veterans and children.

The government safety net was created to keep Americans from abject poverty, but the poorest households no longer receive a majority of government benefits. A secondary mission has gradually become primary: maintaining the middle class from childhood through retirement. The share of benefits flowing to the least affluent households, the bottom fifth, has declined from 54 percent in 1979 to 36 percent in 2007, according to a Congressional Budget Office analysis published last year.

And as more middle-class families like the Gulbransons land in the safety net in Chisago and similar communities, anger at the government has increased alongside. Many people say they are angry because the government is wasting money and giving money to people who do not deserve it. But more than that, they say they want to reduce the role of government in their own lives. They are frustrated that they need help, feel guilty for taking it and resent the government for providing it. They say they want less help for themselves; less help in caring for relatives; less assistance when they reach old age.

Source has a lot more, including charts and maps.
lost // jack

James Deen: Porn Star

Saw this on ohnotheydidnt and thought it would make for a good discussion over here. Not sure if it's entirely relevant, but it's an interesting look at our society's pearl-clutching views about sex.

His fans speak of him as if he is the next teen pop sensation. But James Deen is not a singer and actually hides a more sinister secret - he is the hottest property in porn right now. The 25-year-old has attracted thousands of young female followers who are being drawn into his seedy world because of his innocent boy next door looks.

They have called themselves "James Deen loyalists" and have been trading pictures of him and following him on Tumblr - as if he were somebody like Justin Bieber. Deen’s success is one of the first instances that a male porn star has managed to break through in a profession where women are usually the stars. But parents will be deeply disturbed that their daughters are looking up to man who appears in hard core porn films - and claims that underage sex is "not necessarily a bad thing." [OP Note: He doesn't actually say this in the interview. Rather, he says it's not necessarily a bad thing if underage internet users are looking at porn.]

On Deen’s blog there are details about his personal life but vile pictures and links to porn films like "Belladonna's Butthole Whores 3." Alongside is a picture of Deen wearing jeans and sneakers looking like more like an unassuming office worker than a porn star.

Teenage fans spoken to by ABC News said that Deen seemed approachable and was just "a guy you would get to know in the neighbourhood." Student Christina Ahlsen, 20, from upstate New York, said she was one of his biggest devotees and checked up on him on Tumblr. She said: "The first time I saw him, it was kind of really relieving. Because in porn, the males are usually guys I'm not even close to being attracted to. He is just accessible, he looks like somebody that I could see at, you know, a coffee shop or something and actually approach, I mean, if he were, you know, just a regular guy. He is a regular guy."

She added that when she watches his films, she feels that Deen - not his real name - is more genuine than in other porn. She said: "It's much more personal. You will remember these moments in fantasies and that's what it does. It's not often just the visual, it's the whole package. It's very, very much, you know, brain-based too. Like words, like vibrations, sounds, there's a lot that goes into it."

In an interview with ABC News Deen said that his success was because he was "kind of average, normal-looking, I don't know, I'm approachable." Originally from a Jewish family in Southern California, he got into porn when he was just in kindergarten and picked up a porn magazine by accident. He said: "I picked it up and I'm like: ‘Oh my God, this is the cool, this is awesome.' It was this weird moment that I will always remember where I was like, this is what I want to be when I grow up. I want to do this."

As to whether or not he was setting a bad example to children, Deen was unrepentant. He said: "If there was a 15-year-old girl, an underage girl, an underage guy, an underage person that is viewing a scene that I'm in or any sort of porn, chances are they're doing that because either they're curious. They're horny, whatever it is. They're sexual enough that it is something that they desire, that they crave, that they want, and it's not necessarily a bad thing. I would like to think that I'm opening up their sexual experience, and being able to, they'll be able to take their boyfriends and say: ‘Hey, I saw this in a porno, I want to try this.'"

At this year’s porn convention in Las Vegas Deen was mobbed with fans fawning over him and begging him for autographs. He has appeared in 4,000 porn films and is the youngest person to win the ‘Male Performer of the Year’ award.

A recent entry from his blog read: "ok so my day was f****** amazing. i showed up to work and there were three chicks banging on the floor, one of whom was daisy marie who i have a major crush on… was that grammatically correct? oh f*** it. who cares?"

Source (with video)!

I love everything this guy chose to be in his interview. The reporter was clearly disdainful of him, but he gave some very pragmatic answers. Also, I think it's telling that all this hysteria is about teenage girls liking a porn star - would any of this fuss be made if it were, say, a female porn star with a huge following of teenage boys? Somehow, I doubt it.

Also, 4,000 videos? Damn.
Huh?  From cail
  • sesmo

Black, Female And An Inspirational Modern Artist

Just in the last year, 96-year-old American artist Elizabeth Catlett has had her work featured in exhibitions from Istanbul to Mexico to New York. Young artists use Catlett's technical expertise and insights into gender, race and class as a jumping-off point for their own work, yet she's still unknown to much of the general public.

The 'Invisible' Artist

An exhibit at the Bronx Museum of the Arts last year juxtaposed Catlett's work with pieces from 21 other artists. Along with her sculptures and prints, it also included her drawings of women with powerful legs and hips, the very act of their standing imbuing them with a force like nature.Collapse )

I had never heard of Catlett before, but her art is just gorgeous.
Some pictures at the source. Her website has more.

Edited to correct HTML fail.
oh holy shit
  • chaya

Mystery epidemic devastates Central American region

Jesus Ignacio Flores started working when he was 16, laboring long hours on construction sites and in the fields of his country's biggest sugar plantation.

Three years ago his kidneys started to fail and flooded his body with toxins. He became too weak to work, wracked by cramps, headaches and vomiting.

On Jan. 19 he died on the porch of his house. He was 51. His withered body was dressed by his weeping wife, embraced a final time, then carried in the bed of a pickup truck to a grave on the edge of Chichigalpa, a town in Nicaragua's sugar-growing heartland, where studies have found more than one in four men showing symptoms of chronic kidney disease.

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Source has distressing pictures of ill people.
C // That's the Question

I'm Not Okay With Chris Brown Performing At The Grammys And I'm Not Sure Why You Are

TW: Domestic abuse, victim blaming, general asshattery

I’m sick and tired of people acting like it’s no big deal that Chris Brown will be performing at the Grammys.

I’m frustrated that the mainstream media is covering this story like it’s any comeback story, like an exiled prince’s return to a former glory, like this is another political timeline — as though some rich and powerful old white men in the music business have not just issued an enormous ‘f**k you’ to every woman who has been, is or will be on the receiving end of domestic violence.

We should be furious.

Why aren’t we?

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Source does not at all like Chris Brown

So, when Chris Brown won a Grammy today and got a standing ovation like he'd conquered some great hardship instead of, you know, beating his then-girlfriend I wanted to break things. He preformed twice tonight. Apparently the Grammys missed him so much that they couldn't get enough of him. I fucking hate everything.
oh holy shit
  • chaya

Catholic Priest Tells Child Victim Horrible Effed Up Things, I Can't Even

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This has a lot of rehash of old news we already know, but some of the cover-up information is new, the victim's testimony is new, and the connection to Santorum's problematic statements about rape is new.

There is something about the quoted statement in there that made my soul twinge in a way I can't completely describe. I was originally raised Catholic and there is a special kind of twisted blind faith in people in leadership positions that just... there's no significant oversight. There's lots of room for darkness, with carte blanche from a 'higher power' for whatever you do or whoever you harm.