China’s New Social Enforcement Campaign: Beijing Turns to Social Media Tattletales in Battle Against SmokingPosted: April 13, 2015 | |
“To pump up attention for the WeChat account, the government is inviting people to vote for a hand gesture that residents can use to try and discourage people from smoking.”
Beijing’s government is rallying residents to help enforce the country’s new smoking rules, which will be implemented on June 1. The rules ban smoking in restaurants, bars and other indoor public places, with maximum fines of 200 yuan (about $33) for individuals and 10,000 yuan for organizations and companies.
“The government-suggested images include: I do mind（我介意）,which depicts a woman covering her nose with her hand, Don’t（不可以）, in which the woman is holding her palm like a stop sign, and Please stop（请停止）, in which the woman makes a time-out signal with her hands.”
The government this week launched an account on the social messaging app WeChat to allow residents to report violators, either by uploading images or videos of smokers caught in the act. In addition, the account offers a bevy of anti-smoking information including the full text of the regulations, anti-smoking videos featuring famous CCTV anchors, and warnings about the health impact of smoking (such as the fact that it can negatively affect the quality of one’s sperm).
“But the campaign will face an uphill push in a country where smoked-filled banquet rooms are a routine part of doing business, and the state-run tobacco industry generates a whopping 956 billion yuan ($156 billion) in taxes and profits.”
Asking the public to help police the nation is a familiar thread in Chinese history. During the Cultural Revolution, neighbors were encouraged to report anti-revolutionary actions of one another. More recently, the government has urged citizens to report polluters by calling an official hotline. Read the rest of this entry »
Elle Mallon’s Additional Grievance Against ‘We Are Oregon’
Kaylee Tornay reports this puzzling, mock-worthy University-as-young-adult-nursery-school update: Elle Mallon, who was the external vice presidential candidate on the Ducks F.I.R.S.T. slate, filed a second grievance against We Are Oregon regarding its response to her original grievance from April 3. Here’s how it played out:
We Are Oregon holds its kickoff event in PLC 180.
Mallon submits grievance against We Are Oregon for holding its kickoff event in a building with no gender-inclusive bathrooms.
The ASUO Elections Board rules that We Are Oregon broke the rules and as a result, it couldn’t campaign for 36 hours.
2:54 – We Are Oregon campaign manager Taylor Allison asks the Constitution Court to overturn the Elections Board’s decision, and We Are Oregon gets to keep campaigning while the Constitution Court makes that decision.
Allison’s appeal says that part of Mallon’s evidence was taken out of context.
6:21 – Mallon files a response accusing Allison of sexual harassment because she referred to Mallon as “Ms.” when Mallon identifies with the use of “Mx.”
7:30 – Allison apologizes in an email, saying:
“In every situation I’ve been in with Elle, Elle has said Elle’s pronouns were “She, Her, Hers,” including on the Ducks F.I.R.S.T website. With that information, I used “Ms.” when addressing Elle.”
Mallon submits a second grievance saying Allison chose to misgender her. Read the rest of this entry »
BREAKING: Fresh Protests Sweep Across Brazil as Hundreds of Thousands Seek President Rousseff’s ImpeachmentPosted: April 12, 2015 | |
SAO PAULO – Nationwide demonstrations calling for the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff swept Brazil for the second day in less than a month, though turnout at Sunday’s protests appeared down, prompting questions about the future of the movement.
“I was on the avenue on March 15 and without a doubt, today’s demonstration was much smaller. I will keep coming back to demonstrations like this one — big or small — because it is the best way for us to make our voices heard and demand an end to the Dilma government and the PT and end to corruption. The country cannot go on like this.”
— Antonio Guglielmi, a 61-year-old sales representative for construction materials company
A poll published over the weekend suggested the majority of Brazilians support opening impeachment proceedings against Rousseff, whose second term in office has been buffeted by a corruption scandal at Brazil’s largest company, oil giant Petrobras, as well as a stalled economy, a sliding currency and political infighting. Only 13 percent of survey respondents evaluated Rousseff’s administration positively.
“Sunday’s protests, which took place in cities from Belem, in the northern Amazonian rainforest region, to Curitiba in the south, were organized mostly via social media by an assortment of groups. Most were calling for Rousseff’s impeachment, but others’ demands ranged for urging looser gun control laws to a military coup.”
While last month’s protests drew substantial crowds in several large cities, Sunday’s turnout was lackluster.
In Rio, several thousand people marched along the golden sands of Copacabana beach, many dressed in the yellow and green of the Brazilian flag. The March 15 protest, by contrast, drew tens of thousands. Read the rest of this entry »
OH YES SHE DID: Mary Kay Letourneau Details Her First Sexual Encounter With Student Lover in Barbara Walters 20/20 InterviewPosted: April 10, 2015 | |
Former teacher Mary Kay Letourneau and her student-turned-lover, Vili Fualaau, have revealed the intimate details of how their controversial relationship started — including what went down the night they first had sex
For Hollywood Life, Jason Brow reports: Mary Kay Letourneau, 53, and Vili Fualaau, 31, didn’t hold anything back when they sat down with Barbara Walters for their 20/20 interview, which will air on April 10. The couple that made headlines for their affair — when he was only 12 and she was his sixth grade teacher — address how it all began, even detailing their first sexual encounter!
“After a highly-publicized trial, she was sentenced to six months in jail over the charges of rape. After her release in 1998, Mary Kay and Vili were discovered having sex in a car, resulting in her being sentenced to seven and a half years behind bars for violating the terms of her probation.”
Mary Kay and Vili spoke candidly about everything during their 20/20interview, according to the Daily Mail. They even discussed the night their relationship shifted from student-teacher to passionate lovers.
“The incident was a late night that didn’t stop with a kiss. And I thought it would and it didn’t.”
“I kind of thought, ‘why can’t it ever just be a kiss?’”
The then-34 year old Mary Kay and 12-year old Vili started flirting during the 1996 school-year. The two spent time together under the excuse of her helping out his drawing skills, but it all changed one summer night.
When Mary Kay was asked about the affair — since at the time she was married and a mother of four young children — she said that even back then, she knew she loved Vili very much. “I kind of thought, ‘why can’t it ever just be a kiss?’”
Vili Fualaau & Mary Kay Letourneau Sex — Details Revealed In ’20/20′ Interview
The rest is history. At the end of the summer, Mary Kay was pregnant with her and Vili’s first child. Her then-husband discovered the affair and contacted the police. After a highly-publicized trial, she was sentenced to six months in jail over the charges of rape. After her release in 1998, Mary Kay and Vili were discovered having sex in a car, resulting in her being sentenced to seven and a half years behind bars for violating the terms of her probation. Read the rest of this entry »
For the past decade, European soccer organizations have fought a public battle against racism. But now anti-Semitism appears to have emerged as a second front.
Michael E. Miller reports: It was a beautiful day for soccer in the Dutch town of Utrecht. Spring sunshine filled the stadium as the local team, FC Utrecht, kicked off against perennial powerhouse Ajax Amsterdam.
As the beautiful game slowly played out on the field, however, things in the stands quickly got ugly.
“According to Kick It Out, a British organization originally devoted to combating racism, anti-Semitic incidents are up in the English Premier League. A Kick It Out study released last month revealed that there were 59 reported instances of anti-Semitism during the first half of this season.”
“Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas,” sang a section of the home supporters towards the fans visiting from Amsterdam, a city historic in part for its Jewish community. “My father was in the commandos, my mother was in the SS, together they burned Jews, because Jews burn the best!”
“That was more than during the entire previous season. Anti-Semitism made up a third of the total instances of abuse, and was second in frequency only to racism.”
The anti-Semitism was caught on video and quickly circulated among Dutch media. FC Utrecht issued an apology as Jewish organizations demanded action by soccer authorities.
“The shocking chants weren’t an isolated incident, however. Instead, they were the latest in a string of anti-Semitic episodes that threaten to mar European soccer.”
Discrimination isn’t new to European football, or soccer. The sport has long struggled with racism, a problem which resurfaced recently when Chelsea fans pushed a black man off the Paris metro, chanting: “We’re racist, we’re racist, and that’s the way we like it.”
“We’ve had issues like this since the ’80s,” said Shimon Samuels, director for international relations at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a human-rights organization.
But anti-Semitism in European soccer appears to be getting worse. According to Kick It Out, a British organization originally devoted to combating racism, anti-Semitic incidents are up in the English Premier League. A Kick It Out study released last month revealed that there were 59 reported instances of anti-Semitism during the first half of this season. That was more than during the entire previous season. Anti-Semitism made up a third of the total instances of abuse, and was second in frequency only to racism.
One of this season’s worst episodes came when fans of the London club West Ham were caught on camera chanting “I’ve got a foreskin, how about you? F—— Jew” on their way to play Tottenham Hotspur, a team with a historically strong Jewish following. (Last year, several Tottenham supporters were arrested for chants referring to themselves as “Yids,” a derogatory name that some Hotspur fans have reclaimed.)
One outdoor marijuana plant requires approximately six gallons of water per day during its roughly 150-day growing season.
Ethan Epstein writes: California’s terrible drought has become — like just about everything else in the United States — a political issue. Many liberals have taken to blaming anthropogenic climate change for the drought, while some conservatives have placed the blame at the feet of “liberal environmentalists.” The political point-scoring is tiring and just plain silly, given that the drought is almost certainly a result of natural processes — processes that we humans, conservatives and liberals alike, have precious little to do with. Another problem is that our partisan pugilists are conflating two separate issues: the drought, which is the lack of rainfall that California has suffered over the past four years, and the water shortages, which may indeed have some man-made causes.
“Over California’s four-year drought, outdoor marijuana plants — based on the six-gallon a day estimate, and the 2006 figure — have used roughly 63 billion gallons of California water.”
To that end, a San Francisco-based author with a PhD in Nutritional Ethnomedicine floated an interesting theory regarding those water shortages earlier this week. Speaking on the radio, he suggested that California’s huge crop of marijuana plants is “depleting the water table,” and is partially responsible for the massive shortfalls in water that the state is now facing.
“…by some estimates, California now produces more marijuana than Mexico.”
It may sound outlandish, but it turns out that there may be something to the good doctor’s theory.
As anyone who has ever had the misfortune to visit, say, Santa Cruz can attest, there’s a lot of marijuana in California. (This despite the fact that it’s only legal for medicinal use in the state.) Indeed, by some estimates, California now produces more marijuana than Mexico.
The Hitler question was among a range of moral questions asked of 6,100 people in a study conducted by U.S., Canadian and German researchers.
Jim Algar writes: Here’s a question; if you could go back in time and kill Hitler – likely saving millions of lives – would you do it? Your answer, researchers were surprised to find, might depend on your gender.
New research published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology suggests that, given such a question, men seem more willing to accept the need for harmful actions for the sake of the greater good than do women.
“Women were more likely to fall into the deontology camp and agonize for a long time over a decision, while men were somewhat more likely to lean toward utilitarianism and make a quick decision.”
The Hitler question was among a range of moral questions asked of 6,100 people in a study conducted by U.S., Canadian and German researchers.
“Women seem to be more likely to have this negative, emotional, gut-level reaction to causing harm to people in the dilemmas to the one person, whereas men were less likely to express this strong emotional reaction to harm.”
— Lead research author Rebecca Friesdorf
Although both men and women carefully considered the consequences of their potential decision, women said they found it harder to commit murder and were more likely to let Hitler survive, the study found.
“Women seem to be more likely to have this negative, emotional, gut-level reaction to causing harm to people in the dilemmas to the one person, whereas men were less likely to express this strong emotional reaction to harm,” says lead research author Rebecca Friesdorf. A master’s degree student in social psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Friesdorf analyzed 40 data sets from previous studies.
“Although both men and women carefully considered the consequences of their potential decision, women said they found it harder to commit murder and were more likely to let Hitler survive.”
In the study participants were asked 20 questions, all of them involving a moral dilemma centering on such things as murder, torture, abortion, lying or the morality of animal research. Read the rest of this entry »
California Drought Leads to Historic Toilet Policy
Katy Steinmetz reports: California officials working to combat the state’s four-year drought are taking aim at everyday practices that use billions of gallons of water each year: flushing toilets and running faucets.
“We’re seeing serious dry spell here in California. And we need to make sure we are not only saving water right now but in the coming years.”
— Amber Beck, a spokesperson for the commission
The California Energy Commission took emergency action on Tuesday by mandating that all toilets, urinals and faucets sold in the state must conserve water. That means only low-flush toilets and low-flow sinks will be allowed for sale after Jan. 1, 2016, regardless of when they were manufactured. The mandate applies to both public places and private residences.
“These regulations come less than a week after Governor Jerry Brown imposed the state’s first-ever mandatory water restrictions, aimed at cutting the state’s usage by 25%.”
“We’re seeing serious dry spell here in California,” says Amber Beck, a spokesperson for the commission. “And we need to make sure we are not only saving water right now but in the coming years.” These regulations come less than a week after Governor Jerry Brown imposed the state’s first-ever mandatory water restrictions, aimed at cutting the state’s usage by 25%. Read the rest of this entry »
PANAMA CITY (AP) — Joshua Goodman and Peter Orsi report: From Mexico to Brazil, leaders in Latin America have largely kept silent amid charges of human rights abuses in Venezuela and are unlikely to speak out against their neighbor at this week’s Summit of the Americas.
“The Obama administration last month froze the U.S. assets and revoked visas for seven senior officials accused of human rights violations related to protests last year against President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government.”
Many Latin American heads of state gathering in Panama City are bound to oil-rich Venezuela by business dealings if not ideology, and are put off by recent U.S. sanctions against some of the country’s officials. Others do not want to be seen as doing Washington’s bidding, particularly as they face protests and plunging approval ratings at home.
“The unrest is blamed for more than 40 deaths and triggered a crackdown on criticism that led to the jailing of several opposition leaders, including February’s surprise arrest of Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma.”
“Venezuela has successfully played the history of U.S. imperialism and U.S. heavy-handedness cards, in a way that has made people want to back away from public criticism,” said Geoff Thale, an analyst at the Washington Office on Latin America.
“It was no surprise that leftist allies such as the governments of Ecuador, Bolivia and Nicaragua would leap to defend Caracas. All have a history of vocal opposition to Washington. But even more moderate governments and traditional U.S. allies in the region have been reluctant to criticize Maduro.”
The Obama administration last month froze the U.S. assets and revoked visas for seven senior officials accused of human rights violations related to protests last year against President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government. The unrest is blamed for more than 40 deaths and triggered a crackdown on criticism that led to the jailing of several opposition leaders, including February’s surprise arrest of Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma.
Human Rights Watch and other advocacy groups issued a statement on Tuesday asking the countries attending the summit to call Maduro’s administration to task for its alleged harassment of rights defenders.
But rather than highlight alleged abuses, the U.S. sanctions have drawn widespread condemnation in Latin America, denying Obama a hoped-for diplomatic victory lap at the summit for his decision to restore ties with Cold War nemesis Cuba. A reference to Venezuela as a threat to U.S. national security included in the sanctions declaration is standard bureaucratic language for the United States, but disturbing to a region with a long history of U.S. interference, from support for past military regimes to efforts to topple leftist governments.
Deputy National Security adviser Benjamin Rhodes argued Tuesday during a White House press briefing on Obama’s upcoming visit that the language in the executive order was the same typically used by the U.S. when it levies sanctions around the world. Read the rest of this entry »
Robby Soave writes: Sabrina Rubin Erdely, the author of Rolling Stone‘s much-maligned story about a gang rape at the University of Virginia, plans to formally apologize for her mistakes, according to CNN‘s Brian Stetler.
Erdely stopped responding to questions and interview requests at the beginning of December, as reporters began to call into question the details of the story. (Richard Bradley and I were the first to do so.) Since then, the story has completely collapsed and was essentially confirmed as false by The Washington Post and the Charlottesville police department.
Erdely plans to break her silence tonight, according to The Daily Caller:
But now, according to CNN’s Brian Stelter, Erdely plans to make a public apology nearly four months after Rolling Stone’s retraction. Her apology appears to be timed to coincide with the release of a Columbia School of Journalism report on Rolling Stone’s journalistic failings….(read more) Read the rest of this entry »
Acid Test: Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies Pursues MDMA as Treatment for Psychological DisordersPosted: April 4, 2015 | |
MAPS and PSTD: Scientific MDMA research works against the stigma associated with psychedelics
The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is attempting to legalize MDMA as a prescription for certain illnesses. In a newsletter sent to their constituents on March 16, MAPS said it had received approval from the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) on Friday, March 13 for a Schedule I license for Phil Wolfson, M.D., the principal investigator in a new MAPS study. This isn’t the only time the license has been awarded to MAPS — this is currently the seventh MDMA clinical trial with DEA approval.
“MDMA reduces activity in the amygdala where fear is processed and it increases activity in the frontal cortex where people put things in association and context. So people are able to look at traumatic memories.”
“Obtaining DEA approval was the last step in the complex, arduous, and lengthy
process of getting approval for our study,” Dr. Wolfson said in the newsletter.
This was the final step before initiating experiments regarding the safety and effectiveness of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy to treat anxiety associated with life-threatening illnesses. MAPS had already received approval from the Institutional Review Board, FDA and the Research Advisory Panel of California to conduct the phase-2 study.
“They’re able to separate out that it was happening then and not now. We’re saying that MDMA itself is not the medicine. It’s MDMA-assisted psychotherapy.”
— MAPS founder Rick Doblin, in an interview with CNN
Connor McKay, president of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter at Northeastern, said this type of scientific research works against the stigma associated with psychedelics. McKay will also be welcoming the founder of MAPS, Rick Doblin, and former Washington Post Editor Tom Shroder, author of “Acid Test: LSD, Ecstasy, and the Power to Heal,” to Northeastern on April 3 to discuss psychedelic research.
“I think studies like this play an important role…both medical and personal. It gives a personal story to these treatments. It gives medical legitimacy to these substances.”
— Connor McKay, president of the Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter at Northeastern
“I think studies like this play an important role … both medical and personal. It gives a personal story to these treatments. It gives medical legitimacy to these substances,” McKay said. “I don’t think people are going to stop using MDMA recreationally. I think people will see it as abusing medicine … rather than ‘you’re just doing drugs.’ This will open the medical discussion about these substances.”
MDMA, chemically called 3,4-Methylenedioxy-methamphetamine, is typically sold as ecstasy or molly, but these can contain adulterants or other substances. In a 2006 study by Vanderbilt University, only 39 percent of tablets sold as ecstasy were pure and 46 percent had no MDMA at all. Read the rest of this entry »
Indiana Governor Mike Pence Informs Clueless Agenda-Driven Media that He Signed Same Bill Barack Obama Voted for in IllinoisPosted: March 29, 2015 | |
White House doesn’t dispute it
John McCormack reports: In an appearance on ABC’s This Week, Indiana governor Mike Pence defended his state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act by noting that Barack Obama had voted for the same law as an Illinois state senator.
“Josh, you just heard the governor say right there this is the same law, he says, that Barack Obama voted for as a state senator back in Illinois.”
— This Week Host George Stephanoplous to White House press secretary Josh Earnest
“The Religious Freedom Restoration Act was signed into federal law by President Bill Clinton more than 20 years ago, and it lays out a framework for ensuring that a very high level of scrutiny is given any time government action impinges on the religious liberty of any American.” Pence said. “After last year’s Hobby Lobby case, Indiana properly brought the same version that then-state senator Barack Obama voted for in Illinois before our legislature.”
— National Review (@NRO) March 29, 2015
[For more on the controversy surrounding Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, see this article]
This Week Host George Stephanoplous later asked White House press secretary Josh Earnest to respond to Pence’s claim: “Josh, you just heard the governor say right there this is the same law, he says, that Barack Obama voted for as a state senator back in Illinois.”
Learning today that many who oppose religious liberty are struggling with some serious anti-religious bigotry. Which I guess makes sense.
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) March 28, 2015
Earnest didn’t dispute the Indiana governor’s statement….(read more)
— Dede (@Vikingdane1) March 29, 2015
She is defying the jihadi censors, the misbegotten hate-speech laws and the polite conventions of Western debate that all limit what can be said about the relationship of Islam to modernity. So what’s Feminism’s problem?
In theory, she fits the role on multiple levels: She’s an escapee from an abusive patriarchy.
She’s an African immigrant who made her own way in a Western country, the Netherlands. She’s a fierce advocate for women’s rights.
“Raised a Muslim in Somalia, subjected to genital mutilation and married off to a distant cousin, she is famously a critic of Islam.”
She’s a target for deadly violence by angry men who want to shut her up. She left her religion and became a scourge of its repressive practices.
Except for the blemish on her record: Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a dissident from the wrong religion.
“Ayaan Hirsi Ali has more confidence in Western civilization and its values than people who have never had to live outside it, or face down the enemies who want to destroy it.”
Raised a Muslim in Somalia, subjected to genital mutilation and married off to a distant cousin, she is famously a critic of Islam.
She has excoriated it at extraordinary risk to her own safety, and makes the case again in her latest book, “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now.”
When she collaborated on a film in the Netherlands in 2004 cataloging abuses against Muslim women, her fellow filmmaker Theo van Gogh was assassinated by an Islamist who left a note threatening her pinned to van Gogh’s chest — with a knife.
“In the fashionable neologism designed to be a conversation-stopper, she is “an Islamophobe’.”
But Hirsi Ali wouldn’t be silenced. She is truly a hero of our time. She is defying the jihadi censors, the misbegotten hate-speech laws and the polite conventions of Western debate that all limit what can be said about the relationship of Islam to modernity.
Our society, and especially the left, tends to reflexively celebrate dissenters. But some heretics are more welcome than others. Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Comedian and Former ‘Good Times’ Star Jimmie Walker Kicked Out of Seattle Hotel for Brandishing a Finger GunPosted: March 27, 2015 | |
Seattle Does Not Think That’s Funny.
SEATTLE — Comedian and former sitcom star Jimmie Walker says he was asked to leave a Seattle hotel for reportedly making his fingers into the shape of a gun and pointing it at a clerk.
Originally posted on TIME:
The last 24 hours haven’t been easy for Jon Hamm.
As the cast of Mad Men promotes the final season of their hit show (set to premiere April 5), the star has been forced to take his private struggle with alcohol addiction public after news broke Tuesday he recently completed a 30-day treatment program.
“Life throws a lot at you sometimes, and you have to deal with it as much as you can,” Hamm told Australia’s TV Week on Wednesday. “I’ve been very fortunate that throughout the most recent 24-hour period, I’ve had a lot of family and friends support me.”
And though it’s easy to draw parallels between Hamm and his troubled character Don Draper, the actor, 44, demurred to make a concrete connection between his personal life and onscreen work.
“Obviously there can be a lot of discussion about how much of this is related to…
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The president finally arrived eight minutes after being introduced, but did not offer an explanation
Today at 10:30 AM ET, President Obama was scheduled to speak at the White House’s “Health Care Payment Learning and Action Network Kickoff Meeting.” His introducer, seemingly sensing the president was tardy, gamely tried stretching out his remarks. Then, at around 10:35, apparently receiving word the president was ready to go, the audience was encouraged to applaud for the next speaker, “the president of the United States!” Read the rest of this entry »
President Obama had a simple message on the fifth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act: It’s working.
Speaking in the Executive Office Building next to the White House, Obama argued that his signature health care law was “working better than many of us — including me — anticipated” at increasing health insurance rates and improving the quality of care.
“The bottom line is this for the American people: this law is saving money for families and for businesses,” he said. “This law is also saving lives, lives that touch all of us. It’s working despite countless attempts to repeal, undermine, defund and defame this law.” Read the rest of this entry »