May 11th, 2012

Catholic Bishops Challenge Girl Scouts USA For Conflict With Church Teachings

NEW YORK — Long a lightning rod for conservative criticism, the Girl Scouts of the USA are now facing their highest-level challenge yet: An official inquiry by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

At issue are concerns about program materials that some Catholics find offensive, as well as assertions that the Scouts associate with other groups espousing stances that conflict with church teaching. The Scouts, who have numerous parish-sponsored troops, deny many of the claims and defend their alliances.

The inquiry coincides with the Scouts' 100th anniversary celebrations and follows a chain of other controversies.

Earlier this year, legislators in Indiana and Alaska publicly called the Scouts into question, and the organization was berated in a series aired by a Catholic broadcast network. Last year, the Scouts angered some conservatives by accepting into a Colorado troop a 7-year-old transgender child who was born a boy but was being raised as a girl.

Some of the concerns raised by Catholic critics are recycled complaints that have been denied by the Girl Scouts' head office repeatedly and categorically. It says it has no partnership with Planned Parenthood, and does not take positions on sexuality, birth control and abortion.

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DVDs and Blu-Ray disks to show 20 seconds of unskippable government messaging

DVDs and Blu-rays will now carry two unskippable government warnings

You know those FBI warning messages that appear at the beginning of DVDs and Blu-ray discs? They're getting an upgrade—and they're multiplying.

The US government yesterday rolled out not one but two copyright notices, one to "warn" and one to "educate." Six major movie studios will begin using the new notices this week.

The main change is that Immigrations & Customs Enforcement (ICE) has, in the last several years, made itself a key player in the copyright wars. The FBI has shown extremely limited interest in going after individual websites, but ICE has done so with gusto; it has so far seized more than 750 domain names after rightsholder complaints. This new prominence is reflected in the broader logos used.

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I thought this was interesting. It doesn't really matter to me personally since I don't buy a lot of DVDs. I used to buy a lot of DVDs though, and I always disliked ones with "mandatory content" (so much so that I have been known to rip the disk and burn a new disk with just the movie).
Murasaki Shikibu

TEPCO to Get Protective Custody in Nationalization Plan

TEPCO to Get Protective Custody in Nationalization Plan

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which had been a bastion of cronyism and corruption even before the triple meltdown at its Fukushima Daichii nuclear power following the March 11 earthquake, has today begun the process of being nationalized by the Japanese government. The announcement, made on Wednesday evening, explains that TEPCO will be state-controlled and put under strict government supervision. This is ostensibly to prevent the firm from going bankrupt and to ensure that victims of the disaster are duly compensated for damages. But there are other issues troubling the company. The Atlantic Wire reported on December 30 that TEPCO was on the brink of nationalization," partly due to its problems with organized crime infiltration.

Today TEPCO’s spokesman Masaru Saito confirmed that the company would be undergoing de facto nationalization under a special 10-year restructuring plan. Under the plan, the government will invest over a trillion yen into the firm and gain a majority of the stock. “However, the company will continue to exist, keeping its name,” he added. TEPCO also announced that Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and the current CEO will be replaced.

Yukio Edano, the Trade and Industry Minister, has said in taking over TEPCO that Japan will adopt the same model used “to salvage Resona Holdings Inc. in 2003, when it invested almost ¥2 trillion into the bank for 70 percent control." As part of the plan, TEPCO will receive ¥1 trillion in government money from the Nuclear Liability Facilitation Fund after the shareholders’ meeting in June approves the necessary proposals.

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Japan has really been cracking down on the yakuza lately (thanks in part to new laws making it illegal to pay off yakuza trying to lean on companies, so now it's better for people to go to the cops rather than pay the yakuza off). It's going to be interesting to see how this nationalization scheme for TEPCO pans out, but I'll be honest, I'm not expecting much.

And also, fuck TEPCO, because I haven't said it lately.
leviathans in the womb

Croatia to Offer Equal Rights for Gay Couples

According to the newspapers Jutarnji List, Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic believes that a "stronger civil rights foundation" should be given to same sex communities.

"It is essential to assure greater judicial security to people who are also part of our community," said Milanovic.

He also announced the need for a public discussion about a way to meet this objective.

The government does not want to strengthen gay rights through the Family Law because it wants to avoid "strong resistance from the Catholic Church and a [religious] part of society.”

It is likely that rights for gay couples will be granted through the Law on Registered Partnership.

"It is elementary social empathy and politeness to accept people of different sexual orientation as normal," said Milanovic.

The current law on same sex communities adopted by the Croatian parliament in 2003, doee not allow any form of marriage rights to gay couples.


The headline is somewhat misleading, since this is by no means a done deal, and it looks like the government is jumping through some legal loopholes to avoid a religious controversy. But still, good news for a part of the world where being openly gay is still very, very taboo.

Edited to unlock...idek how that happened.
Q // To have and to hold

My boyfriend remains on point, insightful and flaw-free

I know there's been a lot of contention and criticism among queer and trans communities about this. I'm in the camp that says this is of course a political move, one that Joey B forced a little sooner than had been planned. (I don't think on his part that was wholly unintended either. He's been in politics long enough to know that saying what he did would force Obama's hand. I like that.)

That being said, I always thought that Obama would only come out for marriage equality during his second term. It's nice to be proven wrong about that. So even with how pissed I am that the humanity of queer folks is being used as a bargaining chip, it's still fantastic to fucking
finally hear what we all knew already.

But like Jay says, the fight isn't over. We have to keep pushing, mainstream queer organizations would have us believe that marriage equality is the most pressing issue in our communities. It erases the struggle of so many, particularly trans folks. Obama needs to walk the walk.
  • chaya

Trayvon Martin gun range targets sold online

Seller admits he wanted to profit off controversy

An unidentified entrepreneur admits he is trying to profit off Trayvon Martin by selling gun range targets featuring the teen who's death has sparked a nationwide controversy.

Although Martin's face does not appear on the paper targets, they feature a hooded sweatshirt with cross-hairs aimed at the chest.

A bag of Skittles is tucked in the pocket and a hand is holding a can resembling iced tea.

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Source has a video.

oh holy shit
  • chaya

Marissa Alexander gets 20-year sentence

Last weekend, Melissa examined the case against Marissa Alexander, the Jacksonville mother of three who fired a single bullet into her kitchen ceiling two years ago to warn her husband, Rico Gray, against continuing his physical attack on her. Gray, who reacted in violent anger after discovering that Alexander texted pictures of their newborn child to her ex-husband, spoke out earlier this week in an interview with TheLoop21:

“Personally, I wish she would have taken the three years,” Gray said. “I don’t wish 20 years on no one.”

He's referring to the plea deal that Alexander reportedly turned down, a deal that took into account Gray's history of violence. Alexander presumably cast that deal aside because she genuinely believed that she was standing her ground -- both figuratively, and legally. But Florida's "Stand Your Ground" castle-doctrine law somehow didn't apply to her, despite the fact that her case appears to fit the statute to a T.

She was convicted of three counts of aggravated assault in a matter of minutes -- and today, she was sentenced to 20 years in prison, a sentence she will appeal:

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Nothing but bullshit today, I'm afraid, folks.

What the Effin' Eff?

She should audition for a permanent guest spot on Rush Limbaugh's show. Or Fox News.

Nebraska Woman Offers Graphic Homophobic Rant During Lincoln's Anti-Discrimination Law Hearings

Video footage of a surprisingly graphic, homophobic rant has gone viral in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) blogosphere in the wake of this week's non-discrimination ordinance proposal hearings in Lincoln, Neb.

Originally featured on Towleroad, the clip features a woman identified as Jane Skrovota, who offers a series of bizarre observations on gay sex, HIV/AIDS, Hillary Clinton and even Judas Iscariot as she denounces the "Fairness Ordinance," a measure that would add sexual orientation and gender identity to the city’s non-discrimination law, in her testimony.

"P- E- N- I- S goes into the anus to rupture intestines," Skrovota notes. "The more a man does this the more he'll be a fatality or a homicider."

After stating that "a huge percent of gay men in school grounds molest boys, partly because they don't have AIDS yet," she adds, "Hillary Clinton's roommate four years in college was a gay woman. To avoid going gay like Clinton did, college students need single rooms and single gender dorms...A college woman is seduced with illegal Rohypnol to go gay."

And finally, she proclaims, "Jesus was kissed by Judas, a homo, who tried to sabotage Jesus' kind ideas. Do you choose Jesus, a celibate, or Judas, a homo? You have to choose!"

The city council is expected to vote on the measure May 14. Other authorities have been considerably less critical of the proposal. "Dynamic cities have three things: technology, talent and tolerance," former Lincoln Sen. David Landis is quoted by LGBTQ Nation as saying. "Those cities are magnets for creative people to come and live. The fairness amendment is consistent with the most leading-edge data on what is good for a city."

Biden Apologized to Obama for Jumping the Gun on Gay Marriage

AP source: Biden apologizes to Obama over comments

WASHINGTON (AP) — Shortly before President Barack Obama voiced his support for gay marriage, Vice President Joe Biden apologized to the president for comments that led him to speed up his public pronouncement.

Biden and Obama spoke in the Oval Office on Wednesday, a person familiar with the exchange said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the private talk. Obama accepted his vice president's apology, saying he knew Biden was speaking from his heart when he declared in a television interview that he was "absolutely comfortable" with gay couples marrying.

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Submitting this since we've all been theorizing quite a lot on the circumstances of Biden's remarks and whether or not they were a "trial balloon" for Obama's endorsement. Also, Duncan's part in this has pretty much gone unremarked.
the love witch

Parents' despair at toddler's uncontrollable weight gain

The parents of an obese 18-month-old toddler can't explain her uncontrollable weight gain and are pleading with doctors for help.

Cheng Lichao and his wife Feng Xiaochun took their daughter Dan Dan to a local hospital in China weighing in at an incredible 19kg.

At 18 months, Dan Dan is double the standard weight for her height and age, and is still unable to walk, possibly because of her size.

Dan Dan's parents claim they have no idea why their daughter has grown so large, and have been to a number of hospitals to seek help.

"She started to grow quickly from one month old. When she was one-year-old her weight had reached 15kg," Dan Dan's mother told a local news agency.

"She has a big appetite. Each meal she must eat nearly a big bowl of rice and drink a lot of water."

The couple also has a five-year-old daughter who weighs six kilograms less than her younger sister.

They say there are no other members in their family are obese, and are searching for a medical explanation for their daughter's weight.


Wow I feel so bad for the parents! Hopefully they can figure out whats going on. 
No Enbridge
  • romp

A Night Shift at Jen's Kitchen

A woman sits in a doorway, feet apart and leaning forward with her elbows on her knees, posed like an athlete taking a break on the bench. She's had an injury.

"I had a date who bumped me on the head really hard," she tells us, rubbing her scalp with one hand. "I feel like I'm brain-dead."

A tuna sandwich is what we have to offer. It seems an inadequate response to her predicament; regardless she gratefully accepts it, along with a juice box and a piece of homemade banana bread.

For someone living in poverty in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, getting enough to eat can be a full-time job. There are numerous agencies providing free meals, but many only do so once a day or once a week. For survival sex workers who keep atypical hours, it can be even more difficult.

For the past seven years, Jennifer Allan has been trying to fill this gap with Jen's Kitchen, an advocacy, outreach and food relief service for women in Vancouver's survival sex trade.

Each Tuesday night, she and a team of volunteers -- usually three to six people -- roam the streets and alleys of the Downtown Eastside handing out sandwiches, snacks and juice boxes to any working woman who wants one.
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I didn't bold because it doesn't seem like something you skim for facts, you know?
anecdote: I know a woman in her 80s who was in a group looking at homelessness in Vancouver years ago. When she suggested the need for a shelter that admitted women and not just men, the rest of the group assured her that women were never homeless because they could always find a man to take them home. *shudder*