March 1st, 2012

The Gang

Russian election sees musical battleground

Vladimir Putin is expected to win next week's Russian presidential election, but the glory days when admirers wrote pop songs about him could be gone.

In the final run-up to the vote, a wave of anti-Putin sentiment expressed through music is being welcomed, even if the most controversial of the performers wish to remain anonymous.

Steve Rosenberg reports from Moscow.

Video at source

Featuring a women punk band protesting Putin and a group of rapping pensioners supporting Putin.

The Gang

Australian Senate calls for apology on forced adoptions

A Senate committee in Australia has called for a national apology to thousands of women who were forced to give up their children for adoption from the 1950s to 1970s.

The Community Affairs References Committee released its report on forced adoption practices based on submissions from hundreds of women

Many women said they were coerced into signing away their children.

Many did so because of stigma attached to unmarried motherhood at the time.

The committee urged the government to issue a formal statement of apology that "acknowledges, on behalf of the nation, the harm suffered by many parents whose children were forcibly removed and by the children who were separated from their parents".

Over one and a half years, the Senate committee heard stories from women affected by the practise - most of whom had been in their teens and unmarried when they had their babies.

Many said they signed consent forms allowing adoption only after being coerced. Some said they were drugged, while others said their signatures were forged.

"In many cases, the parents were threatened with the law of the day," said Senator Claire Moore. "To the people caught up in the horror of this history, we can now call it a horror and not pretend it didn't happen."

Some of the organisations involved in the forced adoptions were heavily criticised in the committee's report. The head of the Senate inquiry also said that actions of hospitals may have been illegal.

Some of the organisations have apologised - but many of the women say they also want the government to apologise, just as it did in 2008 to indigenous people who had also undergone systematic suffering.


Andrew Breitbart dead at 43

Conservative journalist and activist Andrew Breitbart died early Thursday morning in Los Angeles at the age of 43, says a report from Big Journalism, one of Breitbart’s websites.

“Andrew passed away unexpectedly from natural causes shortly after midnight this morning in Los Angeles,” writes Big Journalism writer Larry Solov. “We have lost a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a dear friend, a patriot and a happy warrior.”


ETA: Let the conspiracy theories begin!
helmetkid wtf

Student Essay at Center of Controversy

When school officials handed out copies of The Narrative Life of Frederick Douglass, they said they hoped students would connect with the abolitionist’s struggle learning to read at a time when African-Americans were largely prohibited from becoming literate.

That’s exactly what 13-year-old Jada Williams did, drawing a parallel between Douglass’ experience and those of many of her classmates in the City School District. And in an essay that she turned in at School 3, she compared illiteracy among city school students — about 75 percent cannot read at a level appropriate for their age — to a modern day form of slavery.

“When I find myself sitting in a crowded classroom where no real instruction is taking place I can say history does repeat itself,” Jada recently read from her essay. “The reality of this is that most of my peers can not read, and therefore comprehend the materials that have been provided. So I feel like not much has changed. Just different people. Different era. The same old discrimination still resides in the hearts of the white man.”

Now, Jada and her mother say that those words touched off a controversy at School 3, with Jada feeling persecuted for expressing her opinion. After Jada turned in the essay, her mother Carla Williams said that her daughter started getting in trouble in class and earning poor marks. She said one teacher even confronted the girl, telling her that she was offended. The family has the backing of the Frederick Douglass Foundation, Rochester Parents United and school board member Cynthia Elliott.

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Gryffindor corgi

Women's HERstory Month Day One: Why do we study women's history?


History, She Wrote

By Khurram Ali Shafique

History is a record of events. But there is a trap. The events recorded in history have been recorded by men, since most of the historians were males, with a few rare exceptions such as Gulbadan Begum, the author of Humayun Nama.

History has been written primarily for men, since more often than not, formal systems of education were restricted to male candidates only. Consequently, the events recorded in history were those which were of major concern to men. There was little or no place for things belonging to the so-called "feminine domain" of life, since those things were considered trivial, obscure and unworthy of men.

Over two centuries of feminism, the reading of history has also changed (perhaps a bit too slowly, though). In the process, the feminist historiography has passed through three distinct phases.
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Here’s a post to kick off Women’s History Month! This month I intend to have one post a day dealing with some aspect of women’s history, or herstory, dealing either with a single women, a collection of women, or the story of women in general. Some of them will be a bit long but I swear I will try my best to make every one of them worth it! As always, feel free to make any additions to the articles or the women in the comments!

HIV treatment to be free for undocumented migrants and non-UK citizens.

The Department of Health has announced that it will soon make HIV treatment free for all who need it, regardless of citizenship or immigration status. While the change may be politically controversial, ministers are justifying it on the grounds of public health.

For a number of years, treatment of other sexually transmitted infections, tuberculosis and malaria has been free to all, regardless of normal rules on entitlement to NHS services. HIV treatment will now be provided in the same way, as long as the person seeking treatment has been in the UK for at least six months.

While individuals who are in the process of claiming asylum and people who have refugee status are entitled to NHS care, this is not generally the case for people who have been refused asylum, people who have overstayed a visa or illegal entrants. Moreover, people who have a visa for studies or for a short visit are not usually entitled to healthcare.


OP: We're not bad, y'know, in this country when we put our minds to it and try a bit.

(no subject)

Bush-Appointed Federal Judge Sends Racist, Anti-Obama Email Comparing Interracial Sex To Bestiality

Chief Judge Richard Cebull, a George W. Bush appointee to the federal district court in Montana, admitted yesterday to sending a racist email forward comparing President Obama’s conception to sex with a dog:

“A little boy said to his mother; ‘Mommy, how come I’m black and you’re white?’” the email joke reads. “His mother replied, ‘Don’t even go there Barack! From what I can remember about that party, you’re lucky you don’t bark!’” [...]

Cebull said his brother initially sent him the email, which he forwarded to six of his “old buddies” and acquaintances.

“The only reason I can explain it to you is I am not a fan of our president, but this goes beyond not being a fan,” Cebull said. “I didn’t send it as racist, although that’s what it is. I sent it out because it’s anti-Obama.“ Let's not forget the wonderful misogyny of the 'joke' implying that the President's mother was a slut and she slept with animals.

Cebull’s email is inexcusable, and his explanation for sending it only makes things worse. At best, Cebull has admitted that he despises President Obama so much that he lacks the ability to exercise basic judgment when confronted with an opportunity to insult the president. This hardly a suitable trait in a man whose sole job duty is to exercise judgment.

Worse, Cebull’s poor judgment does not simply compromise his own reputation, it also undermines the very integrity of our legal system. Federal judges hear many, many race discrimination cases, and a good judge will deem many of these cases lacking in merit and rule that no discrimination took place. Every time Cebull does so — or has done so in the past — is now tainted by the question of whether his decisions were rooted in the law or in his own racial animus.

Nor does Cebull’s claim to not hate black people, only our black president, make the situation any better. Federal judges are also called upon to evaluate the legality of a president’s actions at times — often in highly charged and controversial cases. Every time Cebull is asked to judge the Obama Administration is now also tainted.

It’s not at all clear how Cebull can remain on the bench in light of this taint. The legitimacy of the law depends upon litigants being able to trust the unbiased motives of the men and women entrusted with judging. Cebull’s actions strike directly at the heart of that trust.

Pride & Prejudice

280,000 girls accept sex abuse as being normal

As many as 280,000 teenage girls are suffering from sexual abuse because they believe it is an accepted part of relationships or do not believe they can stop it, the NSPCC has warned.

In a disturbing report, the charity said fewer than 20 per cent of cases are reported by young people, as opposed to the majority of cases in which adults are abused. "Many girls are being forced to carry out sexual acts and in some cases are even being raped," said Jon Brown of the NSPCC. "We're not talking about 'horse play' or teenagers experimenting, this is often serious abuse. But unfortunately many of the girls don't see it that way. They think it's just part of a relationship they have with a boy or may be too embarrassed or frightened to tell anyone about it."

It added that the chance of a girl being sexually assaulted rises dramatically once they reach early teenage years.

"Frequently they will feel this is just part of growing up and won't recognise that it's wrong," said Sue Minto, head of ChildLine. "Fewer than six per cent of the 16,000 contacts we had last year about sexual abuse were from children saying they had been assaulted by another young person, so this seems to bear that out."

I bet the actual number's higher still.


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WASHINGTON (AP) – The Senate has defeated a Republican effort to roll back President Barack Obama's policy on contraception insurance coverage.

The measure sponsored by Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican, was defeated 51-48. The measure, an amendment to a pending transportation bill, would have allowed employers and insurers to opt out of portions of the president's health care law they found morally objectionable. That would have included the law's requirement that insurers cover the costs of birth control.

Republicans said it was a matter of freedom of religion; Democrats said it was an assault on women's rights and could be used to cancel virtually any part of the law


PARTY POST!!!!!!!!!!
leviathans in the womb

Anti-Gay Law Stirs Fears in Russia

St. Petersburg’s legislature passed a law on Wednesday aimed at eliminating what its backers called “propaganda” of homosexuality among minors, prompting fears among gay rights groups of an impending crackdown on their activities as other cities vowed to look into adopting similar measures.

The law, which follows similar legislation passed elsewhere recently, appears to be a reaction to increasingly vocal efforts by gay rights groups, particularly in St. Petersburg and Moscow, to attract attention to the issue.

Vitaly V. Milonov, the law’s principal drafter and an outspoken proponent of Russia’s Orthodox Church, who has referred to gay people as “perverts,” has accused gay rights activists of waging an aggressive campaign of conversion among Russia’s children with the backing of Western governments.

“This is a declaration of Russia’s moral sovereignty,” Mr. Milonov said in televised remarks shortly after Wednesday’s legislative session.

Under the new law, which passed 29 to 5, “public actions directed at the propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism among minors” will be punishable with fines of up to $17,000. The law defines propaganda of homosexuality as “the targeted and uncontrolled dissemination of generally accessible information capable of harming the health and moral and spiritual development of minors,” particularly that which could create “a distorted impression” of “marital relations.”

Igor Kochetkov, the head of the Russian L.G.B.T. Network, a rights group based in St. Petersburg, called the premise of the law “absurd.”

“You can also adopt a law against turning off the light of the sun, but no one has the ability to do this,” Mr. Kochetkov said. “Even if someone wanted to, no amount of propaganda is going to turn a heterosexual gay.”
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(no subject)

Limbaugh Doubles Down On Sexist Attack Against Sandra Fluke, Demands She Post Sex Tapes Online

Yesterday, as ThinkProgress noted, conservative shock jock and strident women-basher Rush Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown student who House Republicans wouldn’t let testify at a contraception hearing last week, a “slut” and a prostitute. “She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception,” Limbaugh said.
The remarks drew widespread condemnation, with House Democratic Leader Nancy Polosi (D-CA), demanding that “Republican leaders in the House to condemn these vicious attacks on Ms. Fluke.”

But on his radio show today, Limbaugh showed no remorse and instead reveled in the attention. Referring to Fluke, Limbaugh demanded that women post sex tapes online if they use insurance-covered birth control:

LIMBAUGH: So Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex. We want something for it. We want you post the videos online so we can all watch.

Limbaugh also said he found the outrage over his remarks “absolutely hilarious.” He again completely misrepresented Fluke’s testimony, saying, she “went before a Congressional committee and said she’s having so much sex she’s going broke buying contraceptives and wants us to buy them.” In fact, Fluke testimony was about a friend — who is gay — and needed contraception for medical reasons, but was denied coverage by Georgetown, a Catholic university.

He went on to say, “I will buy all of the women at Georgetown University as much Aspirin to put between their knees as they want” — a reference to Rick Santorum-backer Foster Friess’ home-spun idea of birth control.

You know, I'm willing to pay anybody a hefty sum to find Rush and rip out his cochlear implant so he can no longer have the pleasure of hearing himself talk.
That child is surely me...

R. Sen. Glenn Grothman Hates Single Parents

And implies that all single (female!) parents are abusers in his new bill! And only by having a husband can this abuse be prevented! (See the second to last line.)

February 23, 2012 - Introduced by Senator Grothman, cosponsored by Representative Pridemore. Referred to Committee on Public Health, Human Services, and Revenue.
1 An Act to amend 48.982 (2) (g) 2., 48.982 (2) (g) 4. and 48.982 (2) (gm) of the
2 statutes; relating to: requiring the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board
3 to emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and
4 neglect.

Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau

Under current law, the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board (CANPB) conducts various activities relating to the prevention of child abuse and neglect. Those activities include all of the following:
1. Awarding grants for child abuse and neglect prevention programs that
promote public awareness of the need for child abuse and neglect prevention and that
provide community-based education and services for parents, children, and
2. Awarding grants to family resource centers that provide parenting education
and referrals to other social services programs.
3. Administering statewide projects for the prevention of child abuse and
4. In cooperation with the Department of Children and Families and the
Department of Public Instruction, promoting statewide educational and public
awareness campaigns and materials for the purpose of developing public awareness
of the problems of child abuse and neglect and disseminating information about the
problems of, and methods of preventing, child abuse and neglect to the public and to
organizations concerned with those problems.
5. Providing, for use in its statewide projects and for use by organizations that
receive grants from the CANPB, educational and public awareness materials and
programming that emphasize the role of fathers in the primary prevention of child
abuse and neglect.
This bill requires the CANPB, in conducting those activities, to emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.

For further information see the state fiscal estimate, which will be printed as an appendix to this bill.

The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do enact as follows:
1Section 1. 48.982 (2) (g) 2. of the statutes is amended to read:
2 48.982 (2) (g) 2. Promote statewide educational and public awareness
3 campaigns and materials for the purpose of developing public awareness of the
4 problems of child abuse and neglect. In promoting those campaigns and materials,
5 the board shall emphasize nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child
6 abuse and neglect.
7 Section 2. 48.982 (2) (g) 4. of the statutes is amended to read:
8 48.982 (2) (g) 4. Disseminate information about the problems of and methods
9 of preventing child abuse and neglect to the public and to organizations concerned
10 with those problems. In disseminating that information, the board shall emphasize
11 nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect.
12 Section 3. 48.982 (2) (gm) of the statutes is amended to read:
13 48.982 (2) (gm) Provide, for use by the board in its statewide projects under sub.
14 (5) and for use by organizations that receive grants under subs. (4) and (6),
15 educational and public awareness materials and programming that emphasize
16 nonmarital parenthood as a contributing factor to child abuse and neglect and the
17 role of fathers in the primary prevention of child abuse and neglect.
18 (End)

Older Gay Men and Lesbians Get a Drop-In Center of Their Own

Day was ending. The small businesses scattered through the borderland between the garment district and Chelsea were turning out their lights. But the 15th floor of 305 Seventh Avenue, at 27th Street, was ablaze. Inside, a $2 meal of grilled chicken, brown rice and vegetables was being served to a few dozen diners ranging from their 60s to their 80s.

Clyde J. Robertson, 82, was recalling one of the gladdest memories of his youth: surviving the crawl under live machine-gun fire during basic training, on his way to Korea. “I was very proud of myself,” he said, “because I was considered a sissy back home.”

Mr. Robertson was dining at the SAGE Center, run by the nonprofit group SAGE (Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders), which believes this drop-in center to be the first of its kind in the nation. It is to open officially on Thursday, but dinners were served throughout February, Mondays through Fridays, as a preparatory exercise.

It’s not that there aren’t plenty of senior centers already. And it’s not that there isn’t a lesbian and gay community center. (You can almost see it, 14 blocks south, from the windows of the SAGE Center.)

But for SAGE’s clients, about 2,000 a month in New York, it can be “extremely hard to find a space that feels like home,” said Michael Adams, the executive director of SAGE. In existing senior centers, they may feel stigmatized, however subtly. At the Center, on 13th Street, where SAGE continues to offer programs, they may sometimes feel out of place among so many younger women and men. “It’s not about creating a parallel universe,” Mr. Adams said, “but everyone needs a home.”

Because it’s tougher every day to conduct personal business without knowledge of and access to the Internet and e-mail, the center on Seventh Avenue has a computer training room with 15 terminals. An audio induction loop has been built into the main hall, where meals are served, to assist those with hearing aids. The center also has a medical examination room where a nurse will be on duty. Mr. Adams said nearly one-fifth of SAGE’s clients are living with H.I.V. or AIDS, a situation that could not have been imagined 20 years ago. There is concern about the interaction of H.I.V. medications with the battery of drugs that older people take.


Source has more, including pictures
The Gang

Indian workers show their power

Snehal Shingavi looks at the background to India's massive general strike.

TENS OF millions of workers took part in a one-day general strike in India on February 28 in the country's largest industrial action since its independence in 1947.

This is the first time that India's main trade union federations, which are all affiliated to one or another political party, have come together to protest "neoliberal economic and labor policies" pursued by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), the governing coalition led by the Congress Party. The action was also supported by more than 5,000 independent unions.

This reveals two important things about India that are usually forgotten by the Western media.

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model: dusky
  • myrana

Anti-gay Christian couple lose foster care case

Court rules against Christian couple who claimed their beliefs on homosexuality should not prevent them becoming foster carers.

A Pentecostal Christian couple have lost their high court claim that they were discriminated against by a local authority because they insisted on their right to tell young foster children that homosexuality is morally wrong.

Eunice and Owen Johns, who are in their sixties and have fostered children in the past, claimed they were being discriminated against by Derby city council because of their Christian beliefs, after they told a social worker they could not tell a child a "homosexual lifestyle" was acceptable. The couple had hoped to foster five- to 10-year-olds.

The case was the latest to be brought by conservative evangelicals, led by the Christian Legal Centre, over their supporters' right to discriminate specifically against gay people and not be bound by equality regulations. All the cases have so far been lost.

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source: The Guardian

OP Edit: Realised after I submitted this that the story is a year out of date - 28th Feb last year, not this year, oops! But still an interesting read, I hope. :)

Your 'logic' and 'Facts' have no place here!

GOP Rep. On Birth Control: ‘We’re Not Talking About Scientists, I’m Asking About Religious Belief!’

The Senate voted to table an amendment that would permit an employer to deny contraception coverage to their employees on Thursday morning, but the debate over birth control raged into the afternoon, as HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

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van Gogh
  • rjdaae

Disney's Habit Heroes Accused of "fat-shaming"

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You wouldn’t think the people whose theme parks feature a binge-eating bear with a honey gut would put itself in the business of fat shaming, but that’s exactly what Disney did this month. In a boneheaded stab at promoting healthy lifestyle choices, the happiest place on earth became a considerably less hospitable environment when it debuted a new interactive “Habit Heroes” exhibit at Epcot. Guess who the villains were?

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Dear LJ: Prepare yourselves

LiveJournal: Russia's unlikely internet giant

As Russia prepares to elect a new president this weekend, voters are more fired up than they have been for a decade. It's partly due to an internet revolution that has challenged the state's power to control public opinion - and to the blogging platform LiveJournal.

A month before the election, a liberal opposition group carried out a brazen stunt, hanging a massive anti-Putin banner across the river from the Kremlin. It showed the prime minister's face crossed out, and the words "Putin, leave".

The banner was hastily removed, but photos of the action reached millions of Russians via the blog of Ilya Yashin, the group's leader and one of a small army of opposition activists currently spreading their word through the Russian blogosphere.

In a country with tightly controlled TV and few independent newspapers and radio stations, the internet is a vital space for alternative opinion. Almost all of it appears on the blogging platform LiveJournal, known in Russian as Zhivoy Zhurnal, or simply ZheZhe.

Set up by US developer Brad Fitzpatrick in 1998, as a way to communicate online with his friends, LiveJournal - complete with its mascot "Frank the goat" - may seem at first sight a strange medium for Russia's new-found political vibrancy.
Rest of article in link.
Pride & Prejudice

NHS bill: goodbye comprehensive healthcare, hello private insurance

Andrew Lansley and his colleagues assure us that under their plans to privatise the NHS, "services will still be free at the point of use". But they fail to add a key proviso: provided the services are still available. In reality, a growing list of services won't be available, and so won't be free.

Of course, some services that the NHS originally provided, such as long-term care for frail older people, have long been officially withdrawn; and others, like prescriptions and dentistry, are still provided but subject to charges. Under the health and social care bill there will be further contraction of what is provided free on the NHS. Local clinical commissioning groups, not the secretary of state, will decide what services it is "reasonable" to provide out of the budgets they are given, and the package will gradually contract.

This process has already begun under the pressure of the so-called productivity savings recommended by McKinsey. NHS services are being withdrawn in an unannounced, piecemeal and unaccountable way.

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Pride & Prejudice

Mormon Proxy Baptism Was Performed On Mahatma Gandhi, Researcher Says

Mahatma Gandhi, who employed nonviolent civil disobedience to lead India to independence after more than a century of British rule, was posthumously baptized by proxy by a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to information provided to The Huffington Post.

Helen Radkey, a former Mormon who has until now has focused on researching incidents of proxy baptisms being proposed for or performed on dead Jews, discovered the Gandhi records on February 16 in a genealogical database restricted to Mormons. She was prompted to search for his name after seeing a statement by a Nevada-based Hindu activist, Rajan Zed, who expressed concern the practice might be performed in the name of many Hindus.

A screen shot of the database page sent to HuffPost by Radkey shows a proxy baptism for Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was completed in a Salt Lake City Temple on March 27, 1996. The record has since been removed and Radkey said a subsequent search came up with "Unknown Name."

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