Facebook has announced plans to renew its effort toward monitoring, and where appropriate, removing gender-related hate speech from its users, per a post on the company’s Facebook Safety page Tuesday, reports arstechnica: “In its most recent battle, Facebook appears to be trying to differentiate what is “cruel and insensitive” and what is “distasteful humor” in order to answer complaints from groups including Women, Action, and the Media.
“WAM wrote an open letter to Facebook on May 21 that asserted the company seems to apply its hate speech mandates unevenly when that hate speech is gender-based. The group cites several Facebook fan pages, including “Fly Kicking Sluts in the Uterus” and “Raping your Girlfriend,” which have now been removed but were presumably present at the time of WAM’s writing.WAM claims that pages like these and others that constitute hate speech toward women are allowed to exist while similar hate speech pages based on religion, race, and sexual orientation are quickly moderated. WAM cites hateful images or content that get a media spotlight as the exception:
“You have also acted inconsistently with regards to your policy on banning images, in many cases refusing to remove offensive rape and domestic violence pictures when reported by members of the public, but deleting them as soon as journalists mention them in articles, which sends the strong message that you are more concerned with acting on a case-by-case basis to protect your reputation than effecting systemic change and taking a clear public stance against the dangerous tolerance of rape and domestic violence. Continue reading “Facebook vs gender related hate speech”
For well over a decade now the United States has been “a nation at war.” Does that war have a name? This question is posed in today’s edition of Le Monde: “It did at the outset. After 9/11, George W. Bush’s administration
wasted no time in announcing that the U.S. was engaged in a Global War on Terrorism, or GWOT. With few dissenters, the media quickly embraced the term. The GWOT promised to be a gargantuan, transformative enterprise. The conflict begun on 9/11 would define the age. In neoconservative circles, it was known as World War IV.
“Upon succeeding to the presidency in 2009, however, Barack Obama without fanfare junked Bush’s formulation (as he did again in a speech at the National Defense University last week). Yet if the appellation went away, the conflict itself, shorn of identifying marks, continued.
“Does it matter that ours has become and remains a nameless war? Very much so.
“Names bestow meaning. When it comes to war, a name attached to a date can shape our understanding of what the conflict was all about. To specify when a war began and when it ended is to privilege certain explanations of its significance while discrediting others. Let me provide a few illustrations. With rare exceptions, Americans today characterize the horrendous fraternal bloodletting of 1861-1865 as the Civil War. Yet not many decades ago, diehard supporters of the Lost Cause insisted on referring to that conflict as the War Between the States or the War for Southern Independence (or even the War of Northern Aggression). The South may have gone down in defeat, but the purposes for which Southerners had fought — preserving a distinctive way of life and the principle of states’ rights — had been worthy, even noble. So at least they professed to believe, with their preferred names for the war reflecting that belief.Schoolbooks tell us that the Spanish-American War began in April 1898 and ended in August of that same year. The name and dates fit nicely with a widespread inclination from President William McKinley’s day to our own to frame U.S. intervention in Cuba as an altruistic effort to liberate that island from Spanish oppression. Continue reading “The nameless war”
Television’s latest animated superhero sports a purple skirt and cape, pink gloves and white go-go boots – and is, you might say, a transformer.
She is also a he.
“Meet SheZow, the star of a cartoon debuting Saturday on the Hub, a kids’ cable channel co-owned by cable programming giant Discovery Communications and toy manufacturerHasbro Inc. The story is being reported widely. Below is coverage from the LA Times.
“In “SheZow,” a 12-year-old boy — named Guy — uses a magic ring to transform himself into a legendary crime fighter. When evil lurks, Guy says, “You go girl!” and becomes SheZow.
“When I first heard about the show, my reaction was ‘Are you out of your minds?'” said Margaret Loesch, chief executive of the Hub. “Then I looked at it and I thought, ‘This is just funny.'”
“The Hub is hoping some of SheZow’s magic powers rub off on it so it can better battle the giants of children’s television:Nickelodeon, Disney Channel and Cartoon Network.
“Launched in October 2010, the Hub has barely registered a blip in the highly competitive kids’ TV marketplace. It has a few minor successes including “My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic” and “Transformers,” but overall its ratings are tiny. Among kids 2 to 11, the Hub’s primary target, it averages 56,000 viewers a day, according to Nielsen. Disney and Nickelodeon each average 934,000 kids in that group. Continue reading “SheZow has arrived”
Fifty-four percent of Americans say the federal government today has too much power, reports Gallup. “Despite the recent controversies facing federal agencies such as the IRS, these views are only marginally higher than in 2012, and slightly lower than in 2010 and 2011. At least half of Americans since 2005 have said the federal government has too much power, whereas in the three years prior to that, Americans were more inclined to believe federal power was “about right.
“Americans’ views of federal power have become a renewed focal point in recent weeks with allegations that the IRS used its power to selectively audit certain types of organizations, and news reports of Justice Department investigations into Associated Press and Fox News records and emails. It does not appear, however, that these news stories have dramatically altered Americans’ views of the federal government’s power. The 54% who now say the federal government has “too much power” is in the same general range as it has been since 2005.
“Only 8% of Americans say the federal government has “too little” power, while 36% say the government has about the right amount of power.
“As would be expected, there is a major gulf between Republicans’ and Democrats’ views on this issue. More than twice as many Republicans (76%) as Democrats (32%) say the government has too much power, with a majority of independents coming down on the same side as Republicans.”
More at: http://www.gallup.com/poll/162779/views-gov-powerful-little-changed.aspx?utm_source=tagrss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=syndication
The use of the word “illegal” to describe non-citizens who are present in the United States without authorization is finally beginning to die a much-deserved death, at least in the mainstream press, reads a piece in today’s Salon.com ” The announcement by the Associated Press on April 2, 2013, that it would no longer use the word “illegal” to describe a person, only a status or an action, was soon followed by a number of other major newspapers, including the New York Times — which announced on April 23, 2013, that while it would not ban use of the term “illegal immigrant,” it would encourage editors and reporters to consider alternatives — the Los Angeles Times and the Denver Post. Other news organizations, including the Miami Herald, had long since replaced the term “illegal immigrant” with “undocumented immigrant.” (Of course, even the word “undocumented” is imprecise. Non-citizens present in the United States without lawful immigration status possess all manner of documents — just not the right ones.) Continue reading “Retiring the term “alien””
A new Veteran Mental Health Strategy to support contemporary Australian veterans and their families was released Monday by Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Warren Snowdon, reports Xinhuanet.
“The strategy sets out a ten-year framework for providing mental health care to veterans, underpinning the 26.4 million Australian dollars (25.89 million U.S. dollars) veteran mental health package announced in the 2013 federal budget.
“Initiatives include 14.6 million Australian dollars (14.32 million U.S. dollars) to extend access to treatment without the need for compensation claims and 6.4 million Australian dollars (6. 28 million U.S. dollars) to introduce counselling for peacetime service and family groups.
“The launch also coincided with the inaugural meeting of the Veteran Mental Health Clinical Reference Group, which will support the implementation of the strategy. Snowdon said supporting the mental health needs of all veterans, including those who have recently left the defence force, is a high priority for the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) Continue reading “New mental health support for Aussie vets”
The Department of Veterans Affairs is being criticized for the shortfall in care for almost a million veterans who can’t get timely compensation and have been waiting hundreds of days for help, often to no avail, reports NPR today.
“Frustration with the agency came to a head last Thursday when VA Secretary Eric Shinseki was called before a closed-door meeting of the House Appropriations Committee.”We are aggressively executing a plan that we have put together to fix this decades-old problem and eliminate the backlog, as we have indicated, in 2015,” Shinseki said after the meeting.“So this is a challenge [and] we’re making tough decisions that make it possible for more people to apply for and receive benefits.
“Glenn Smith, a 28-year-old Army veteran from St. Louis, joined the military in 2004.”I joined because I loved tanks, believe it or not,” Smith tells Jacki Lyden, host of weekends on All Things Considered.Smith was deployed to Iraq twice between 2006 and 2010; he spent most of four years in combat. He now has an irregular heartbeat, and attributes it to one of the many IED blasts he went through. The irregular heartbeat, discovered during a routine training exercise, led to him being discharged last spring.
“Smith described an anxiety attack in March in which “things just [closed] in” on him. It’s even happened while he was driving.”I didn’t feel like I had any release or way to break free of it,” he says. “I’ve had memories and nightmares of my experiences while I was in Iraq. Any all that just came rushing to the surface.”Smith also says he has a bad case of PTSD. His PTSD has been so debilitating, he needs help navigating the VA. He submitted his initial claim about a year ago, but still lacks regular treatment for the disorder. Continue reading “Veterans’ PTSD options are lacking”
A new study from the Brookings Institution shows that poverty in American suburbs increased by 64 percent over the last decade, more than twice the rate of poverty growth in cities, reports the Village Voice. ” In the New York/tristate metro area alone, the number of suburban poor grew 28 percent since 2000, while the number of poor in the city grew 2 percent.
“Alan Berube, one of the authors of the report, says that while the city becomes more expensive and popular, low wage economies are increasingly found outside them. The recession coupled with population growth in the suburbs contributed to the explosion of poverty there. “And in the end,” ze adds, “Where poverty is–is where affordable housing is.”
“Still, the study doesn’t really support the conclusion that gentrification is ruining everything, that “reverse white flight” is displacing low-income communities and exporting them to places like Ossining or New Rochelle. The report looked at Census data across the last decade, but Berube says that the study didn’t examine who was displacing whom–and much of the population growth in the suburbs came from new immigrants, from those who didn’t stop in the city first.
“Poverty is a structural feature of the American economy today,” Berube says, while noting that the disparity between rich and poor in the city is as stark as ever. But if disasters likeSandy are an example, the Brookings data could also support the idea that cities are awful at fostering opportunities for low-income communities to find affordable housing–which is why it may be easier for those living under the federal poverty line to survive in the ‘burbs after all.”
More at: http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninscared/2013/05/richer_city_making_suburbs_poorer.php
This month, Merck was hit with a $100 million sex discrimination suit alleging that the company engaged in systemic gender bias, reports Fortune. “The complaint could be used in a law school as a way to teach virtually every gender-based claim that could possibly be brought against an employer.
“The case includes many allegations of discrimination against female and pregnant employees, and staffers who chose to take family-medical leave. The suit also claims that Merck engaged in discriminatory promotional and payroll practices. And the case also includes less tangible “Boys’ Club” allegations, which have become increasingly common in gender bias cases.
“In particular, the complaint against Merck alleges that “male junior employees have opportunities to socialize with male senior management to the exclusion of women. Female employees are excluded from these events, and thus excluded from opportunities to develop relationships with senior management that provide opportunities for advancement within Merck due to the company’s ‘tap-on-the shoulder’ promotion policies …”
“But Merck is far from alone. In a 2011 paper, Holland & Hart’s John M. Husband and Bradford J. Williams list private employers who have settled class actions in the tens — or even hundreds — of millions of dollars, noting that it “reads like a who’s who of Fortune 500 companies.” Many, but not all, involve sex discrimination. Continue reading “The boys at Merck”
A new Pew Research report on emerging economies finds that almost a quarter of Americans have trouble affording food. “This reported level of deprivation is closer to that in Indonesia or Greece rather than Britain or Canada,” the report says.
Why is this the case?
Quartz reports that “according to numbers from the USDA, the moderate costs to healthfully feed a family of four a week costs $191, including meals and snacks, up 38% from 10 years ago. Food inflation was about 5% last year after a drought led to an increase in corn, wheat, and soybean prices, which in turned raised the price of chicken, pork, and beef. With continued unpredictability in weather affecting crops and higher demand from a growing population, it’s likely that food prices will only continue to rise.
“But the US has the worst income inequality among developed economies; 15% of the population uses food stamps. As economist, Joseph Stiglitz has argued, the income inequality in the US is not only holding back a recovery but also setting up the nation for future economic instability.
“The technorati is busy brewing up a single-source omnifood, the FAO has been urging people for years to eat insects, and NASA wants astronauts to eat 3D-printed food. But here on earth, an estimated 40% of the food produced in the US is wasted.”
More at: http://qz.com/87761/almost-a-quarter-of-americans-struggle-to-afford-food/
McDonald’s Corp. Chief Executive Don Thompson, presiding over his first annual shareholders meeting since taking the helm of the fast-food chain last summer, defended the company’s efforts to market to children, reports the Wall Street Journal
“Several speakers associated with Corporate Accountability International, a nonprofit corporate watchdog that put forward a proposal calling on McDonald’s to conduct an assessment of its nutrition initiatives, accused the company of contributing to the country’s obesity problem by targeting children, particularly minorities. McDonald’s CEO defended mascot Ronald McDonald, saying the fast-food chain isn’t the cause of obesity.Mr. Thompson, McDonald’s first African-American chief executive, said the criticism hits close to home and staunchly defended McDonald’s marketing practices.
“We are not the cause of obesity. Ronald is not a bad guy,” Mr. Thompson said Thursday “He’s about fun. He’s a clown. I’d urge you all to let your kids have fun, too.” Continue reading “Defending Ronald”
Years ago, Trinh T. Minh-ha famously wrote that “there is a third world in every first world, and vice-versa.” In todays le Monde Jo Comerford and Mattea Kramer write about the growing reality of this in the United States:
“The streets are so much darker now, since money for streetlights is rarely available to municipal governments. The national parks began closing down years ago. Some are already being subdivided and sold to the highest bidder. Reports on bridges crumbling or even collapsing are commonplace. The air in city after city hangs brown and heavy (and rates of childhood asthma and other lung diseases have shot up), because funding that would allow the enforcement of clean air standards by the Environmental Protection Agency is a distant memory. Public education has been cut to the bone, making good schools a luxury and, according to the Department of Education, two of every five students won’t graduate from high school. Continue reading “Third World in Every First World”
Much has been made of Fallon Fox’s participation as a fighter in women’s mixed martial arts competition, and specifically in Championship Fighting Alliance’s women’s tournament, reports YahooSports
“Nearly everyone has an opinion on the situation. Several women in the sport have said that they believe the 37-year-old Fox – born a man, but having undergone gender reassignment surgery and hormonal treatments – has a physical advantage over her female-born counterparts. UFC women’s champ Ronda Rousey and her next challenger, Cat Zingano, have both gone on record saying they believe Fox has a physical advantage.
“Fox, however, says that she does not have an advantage over her opponents. In fact, she believes, if anything, it’s the opposite.“I’m actually at a disadvantage,” Fox said on a recent edition ofInside MMA. “Before the surgery, I started on hormone replacement surgery, back in 2002, 2003.”
“She continues the hormone treatments to this day. “I have to. If I don’t take estrogen hormone replacement therapy, I can get osteoporosis,” she continued. “So any of the women I’m competing against, my testosterone levels are drastically lower than theirs; it’s almost nothing.” Dr. Marci Bowers, a gender reassignment surgeon who has also undergone the procedure, concurred. Continue reading “The Fallon Fox discussion”
The Supreme Court has agreed to revisit the issue of church-state separation and decide whether a town council can begin most of its monthly meetings with a prayer from a Christian pastor,, reports the Los Angeles Times
“Thirty years ago, the court upheld a state legislature’s practice of beginning its session with a nondenominational prayer. The justices said that “to invoke divine guidance on a public body entrusted with making laws” did not violate the 1st Amendment’s prohibition on an “establishment of religion.”
“But since then, several lower courts have said that a city council or county board may violate the 1st Amendment if its opening prayers favor one religion.
“Last year, the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the town of Greece, N.Y., near Rochester, had crossed the line by inviting Christian pastors to deliver nearly every opening prayer. Though the town’s policy does not favor one religion, the appeals court said its practice had been to favor Christianity to the exclusion of other faiths.
“In practice, Christian clergy members have delivered nearly all of the prayers relevant to this litigation and have done so at the town’s invitation,” the appeals court said. Continue reading “Supreme Court to examine church-state”
Now don’t laugh at this. Apparently more and more parents are showing up at the emergency with injuries inflicted by their kids.
Although much attention is paid to the safety of infants and toddlers, their sudden jabs, bites, head-butts and kicks can inflict injuries on caregivers, usually parents, reports today’s New York Times. ” After her 2-year-old daughter “clocked” her under the eye, leaving a significant shiner, Alaina Webster, 31, coined a term on her blog to describe this common problem: “unintentional parent abuse.”
“In a “public service announcement” on the blog, Absolute Uncertainties, Ms. Webster called for battered parents to rise up: “Will you fight back against the 2-foot 6-inch tyrants taking over our subdivisions, or will you continue to let unsuspecting parents be beaten into submission simply for loving their child too closely?”
“According to emergency room physicians, pediatricians and other experts, U.P.A. is no laughing matter. With unpredictable infants and toddlers, meals, bath time or even cuddles can go terribly wrong. Though statistics for injuries caused by young children are difficult to find, parents routinely suffer concussions, chipped teeth, corneal abrasions, nasal fractures, cut lips and torn earlobes, among other injuries. Continue reading “Dangerous kids”
William von Schneidau, an intrepid butcher in Seattle, is giving a whole new meaning to “potbelly pig.” Lately, he’s been feeding marijuana refuse to the pigs he turns into prosciutto for BB Ranch, his butcher shop in the city’s famous Pike Place Marke, according to NPR.org.
“Pot-scented bacon? Well, not quite.
“The stems, leaves and root bulbs von Schneidau recoups from Top Shelf Organic, a medical marijuana dispensary, don’t season the meat, he says. But the meat from the first few “pot pigs” he’s butchered has been “redder and more savory” than what he usually works with, he says.
“It’s not clear whether the pigs feel anything from the weed in their feed, or how much, if any, THC — the psychoactive substance that gets humans high — ends up in the meat. Rather than an attempt to develop a new meaty treat for stoners, the “pot pig” experiment seems mostly to be an (effective) publicity stunt. Von Schneidau’s first Pot Pig Gig event — where he promoted the product, as well as other local foods — sold out quickly. And he says all the media attention he has gotten is generating lots of interest in the next event he’s planning. Continue reading “No kidding, pigs on weed”
Eight years ago, in December 2005, community members, organizers, artists, friends and sweethearts poured through the doors of a small gallery on the Lower East Side to join the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, founded by Dean Spade, at the first annual art auction benefit, Small Works for Big Change. Today’s Huffington Post carries an informative article about SRLP. “Forty artists donated their art, helping SRLP raise $9,000 to support a movement for gender self-determination centered in racial and economic justice, and to celebrate the dynamic and visionary artists among us.
“SRLP is a collective organization that works to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine their gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination or violence. SRLP roots its work in an understanding that gender self-determination is inextricably intertwined with racial, social and economic justice.
“Transgender and gender-nonconforming communities, especially communities of color, face persistent and severe discrimination and violence in employment, housing, health care and education, leading to disproportionate poverty. Because the state criminalizes trans people’s limited survival options, such as sex and drug work, and low-income trans people and trans people of color are already commonly profiled by the police, these factors lead to disproportionate incarceration. In prison, trans people suffer additional harms, including harassment, violence and denial of gender-affirming health care. For trans immigrants, disproportionate targeting and its consequences multiply exponentially. All these factors combine into an interlocking system of oppression. Continue reading “On the Sylvia Rivera Law Project”
Reports recently released by the American Association of University People indicate a gender pay gap not only still exists in the American workforce but often reveals itself the moment people accept their first job.
“People working full time one year after college graduation are paid an average of 18 percent less than people also working full time one year after receiving a bachelor’s degree, according to “Graduating to a Pay Gap.”
“Some of the difference may be because many people pursue majors and enter careers that offer less pay. Some of it could be caused by varying levels of salary negotiation skills or other factors. But in many cases, the study suggests, part of the gap results from gender alone.
“So many times people hear about the overall pay gap and say ‘That’s because people are making different choices,'” said Christianne Corbett, AAUW senior researcher and one of the report’s authors. “We were really trying to get at a group that was as close to the same as possible right out of college … and we still found a gap.” Continue reading “Pay gap isn’t going away”
There are a number of tools economists, government agencies and lawyers use to translate a death or injury into financial terms, says today’s Wall Street Journal. “These include deriving estimates from surveys about how much value people would place on, say, losing a limb or their sense of hearing; creating a life plan for medical care to estimate long-term expenses; and basing the value of a lost life on how many years it likely would have lasted if not for the unforeseen event that ended it. Feinberg said ze doesn’t take any of these into consideration. “It simply is not doable in the timeframe needed to streamline the program and get money out the door,” ze said. “I don’t think external resources are going to help you very much in what is essentially an emotional assignment.”
“As for parsing such factors as the age of victims, Feinberg said, “Spare me. You’re tying a program like this up in knots.” Ze added, “There is no substitute for getting money out the door.”
“Also, no donors specifically indicate they want their contribution to go to the neediest victims, Feinberg said.
“Kaitlynn Cates, a marathon spectator who suffered a severe calf injury, said ze understood a “sense of immediacy” demanded Feinberg disburse the funds quickly, and not based on a forensic analysis of need. If one victim was no longer able to provide for five children, “I would be the kind of person who says give it to the five children before you give it to me, but I understand from higher levels that would cause problems,” Cates said. Continue reading “Accounting for victims”