How big data increases inequality and threatens democracy - "A former academic mathematician and ex-hedge fund quant exposes flaws in how information is used to assess everything from creditworthiness to policing tactics, with results that cause damage both financially and to the fabric of society. Programmed biases and a lack of feedback are among the concerns behind the clever and apt title of Cathy O'Neil's book: Weapons of Math Destruction." [more inside]
"What do you say to a police officer who tells you to stop when you are legally and not obstructively filming their interactions?" [more inside]
China rates its own citizens - including online behaviour: "The Chinese government is currently implementing a nationwide electronic system, called the Social Credit System, attributing to each of its 1,3 billion citizens a score for his or her behavior. The system will be based on various criteria, ranging from financial credibility and criminal record to social media behavior. From 2020 onwards each adult citizen should, besides his identity card, have such a credit code." [more inside]
Samantha Bee of The Daily Show reports on women the effort to get legislature passed to protect rape survivors from seeing their rapists during custody visits (for rape survivors who bring their pregnancy to term) TRIGGER WARNING: Parenting with the Enemy. " [more inside]
An Argentina court has recognised an Orangutang as 'non-human person': “This opens the way not only for other Great Apes, but also for other sentient beings which are unfairly and arbitrarily deprived of their liberty in zoos, circuses, water parks and scientific laboratories.” - A similar case regarding a chimpanzee in New York was recently thrown out of court.
The Solace of Oblivion by Jeffrey Toobin [The New Yorker] "In Europe, the right to be forgotten trumps the Internet."
Equaldex: the collaborative LGBT knowledgebase! A crowd-sourced, verified, beautifully presented representation of equal rights (and how they are specifically denied) for LGBT folks. [via reddit]
A couple's final journey. "Chris MacLellan and Bernard Richard Schiffer never exchanged “for better or for worse” vows. As a gay couple, marriage wasn’t an option in Florida. Instead, they lived together and loved each other for 11 years."
In Conversation: Antonin Scalia "On the eve of a new Supreme Court session, the firebrand justice discusses gay rights and media echo chambers, Seinfeld and the Devil, and how much he cares about his intellectual legacy ("I don’t")." [more inside]
Bearing Arms: [New York Times] Articles in this series examine the gun industry’s influence and the wide availability of firearms in America. [more inside]
A photograph of breaker boys that changed history for millions of kids in America, who worked grueling lives as child laborers. What Charles Dickens did with words for the underage toilers of London, Lewis Hine did with photographs for the youthful laborers in the United States. Library of Congress collection of over 5,000 Lewis Hine child labor photos. Kentucky 1916. Previously. [more inside]
Many of America's biggest corporations rely on temp workers to make up an ever increasing portion of their work force. This has led to a boom in the temp agency industry and a sharp decline in temp workers' quality of life.
When police carried out a routine stop-and-search of her boyfriend on the London Underground, Gemma Atkinson filmed the incident. She was detained, handcuffed and threatened with arrest. She launched a legal battle, which ended with the police settling the case in 2010. With the money from the settlement she funded the production of this animated film, which she says shows how her story and highlights police misuse of counterterrorism powers to restrict photography. [more inside]
Makers: Women Who Make America is a sweeping 3-hour documentary of the movement for women's equality in the last half of the twentieth century. Airing this month on US public television, it's accompanied by an online archive of videos of interviews with individual women in leadership across a variety of fields. Leaders and activists, celebrities and pioneers, and everyday women retell the story of their awakening, organizing, and world-changing efforts.
Jennie Linn McCormack "isn’t the only woman in recent years to be prosecuted for ending her own pregnancy. But her case could change the trajectory of abortion law in the United States": The Rise of DIY Abortions. [more inside]
With the U.S. Presidential election about 3 months away, and voter ID laws headed to court this Wednesday in Pennsylvania and in other states like Texas and Minnesota, Propublica tells you Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Voter ID Laws. A solution to a nonproblem. [Previously] [more inside]
In July 2007, NPR published a two part series (direct links: 1, 2) about a four year old uninvestigated rape case at the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Sparked in part by a 2006 report (pdf) from Amnesty International that included a startling statistic: "One in three Native American women will be raped in her lifetime," NPR's investigation led to the reopening of the case and Congressional hearings. In February 2011, Harper's published an update of sorts: Tiny Little Laws: A Plague of Sexual Violence in Indian Country (Via)
Two days ago, U.S. President Barack Obama signed into law the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act), "with reservations about key provisions in the law — including a controversial component that would allow the military to indefinitely detain terror suspects, including American citizens arrested in the United States, without charge". [more inside]
Being gay was considered a mental disorder by psychiatry - until 1973 - when the battle lines were drawn. Reporter Alix Spiegel continues the gripping story that spurred a radical rethink. It's the story of a closeted cartel of powerful, gay psychiatrists; of confrontations with angry activists; a shrink dressed in a Nixon mask, and a pivotal encounter in a Hawaiian bar. [more inside]
Since 1988, the Center for Reproductive Rights has compiled a visual map of the laws regulating abortion throughout the world. Earlier this month, they released their 2011 Map in pdf and updated their online World Abortion Laws Map in a new interactive format which allows country comparisons and provides text of abortion laws for certain countries. (Via Good: Can I get an Abortion Here? The Abortion Rights Map of the World)
One year after the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision, which, overturning over 100 years of precedent, opened a floodgate of corporate money into election campaigns, Virginia Lyons (D-VT), has introduced legislation (full text of bill not yet available, articles here and here) in the Vermont State Senate to amend the United States Constitution to explicitly state that corporations are not persons. This would overturn the controversial notion of corporate personhood which was established in the 1800s. Controversial not only for the unequal distribution of rights and responsibilities among humans and corporations, some, like Thom Hartmann (previously), have claimed that the notion of corporate personhood was established as an intentional misinterpretation of the decision as recorded by court reporter J.C. Bancroft Davis, former president of the Newburgh & New York Railway Co. [more inside]
NOM Exposed collects information about the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a secretive front group for the Mormon and Catholic churches which funds other front groups across the country, in their fight against recognition of same-sex marriage rights in the United States. NOM Exposed pulls together biographies about the leadership behind the organization, the ties to extremist religious and other groups, the money trail and the shadowy outfits where the cash leads, the organization's ethical, campaign finance, and other legal violations across the country (such as that pointed to here), and various propaganda that NOM uses to spread its message.
Judge Rules "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Is Unconstitutional - Judge Virginia A. Phillips of Federal District Court struck down President Clinton's Don't Ask, Don't Tell (DADT) policy in an opinion (Scribd) issued late Thursday, ruling on the constitutionality of a complaint brought by the Log Cabin Republicans (PDF). President Obama's Justice Department has until a September 23 deadline to submit objections to the court regarding Judge Phillips's permanent injunction, which is uncertain given Obama's previous support of his Department of Justice defending the legality of DADT, despite his opposition to DADT in principle.
In its January 13, 2010 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the public broadcast of Perry v. Schwarzenegger, a U.S. District Court case challenging the constitutional validity of California's Proposition 8, despite the ruling of Judge Vaughn Walker. Working directly from court transcripts and first-hand accounts from bloggers who have been present at the trial, marriagetrial.com is re-enacting the trial, to provide a "non-biased, objective presentation" of the case for public benefit.
"Melissa" (name changed for privacy) is a transwoman who was badly injured in a car accident and is in hospital in critical condition. While in treatment, some of the medical staff and her family decided that since she still had a "male" body, to make things "less confusing", they will erase 4 years of her female identity by referring to her as a man and taking her off her hormone therapy. (Warning: possible triggers) As little light puts it:
And if she woke up as from a deep sleep, she’d wake up into a world where her best friend was dead, where her body had been forcibly edited back to its pre-transition state and given a few more years of the influence of testosterone to boot, where her memory and self were hazy and confusing and nobody was calling her by the right name and pronouns, they were in fact pretending four years of her life, the four years she finally got to be honest and true to herself, those had never happened, and shh, she’s just confused, shhhh, calm down, let’s work on fixing your memory some more.[more inside]
Queer female webzine Autostraddle, who interviewed media celebrity Tila Tequila shortly before the death of her fiancée, socialite Casey Johnson, uses the aftermath to discuss the complications of not having legal rights as a gay couple when the relationship becomes dysfunctional:
We don’t look at those crazy-ass toxic relationships that were so intense they carved a hole in your heart and you knew, no matter how deep the emotional connection, that at any minute your loved one could get up, walk out the door, and never speak to you again, and that it wouldn’t matter if you’d paid their bills or built a life around their demands. There is nothing tying you together besides your feelings. And that’s really frightening.
Today, the State of Washington becomes the first state in the history of the United States to pass a law supporting the equality of same-sex partners by popular vote. [more inside]
Yesterday, US President Obama signed a $680bn military policy bill, which cuts military spending, including $2bn in funding for new F-22 fighter jets. However, the bill also contained the first major piece of federal gay rights legislation, and fulfilled an Obama campaign promise: acts of violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people have now been added to the list of federal hate crimes.
"My answer is, I don't know. I don't know." US District Court Judge Vaughn Walker asked Prop 8 supporters to define the nature and extent of damage done by same-sex couples to the institution of marriage, and being unable to get any definitive answer, denied the request from supporters of Prop 8 to throw out Perry v. Schwarzenegger and ordered the case to trial in January 2010.
Being a same-sex, taxpaying couple is more expensive, overall, than being a straight, taxpaying couple, for the same services and benefits, when available.
"Natural communities and ecosystems possess inalienable and fundamental rights to exist, flourish and naturally evolve..."
Can you copyright a tattoo? Yes, you can. But there's more to it. The idea raises a lot of questions and concerns—for the artists, the inked-skin owners, and certain parties seeking to represent or showcase the work. Shortly after Marisa Kakoulas wrote The Tattoo Copyright Controversy guest article, featured at BMEZINE.com, she encountered a small legal battle of her own. [more inside]
SCOTUS Hears Oral Arguments On Case Determining Whether American Citizens Have the Right to Carry Hanguns under the Second Amendment
Oral arguments were heard today in District of Columbia v. Heller, the first occasion in almost 70 years for the Supreme Court to decide the question, "Just what does the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution mean?"
A Magistrate Judge in the U.S. District Court in Vermont has ruled that a man allegedly caught with child pornography on his laptop need not reveal his PGP password (yes, authorities shut down the laptop and now can't get at the alleged porn) pursuant to the Fifth Amendment's protections against self incrimination. The decision is here[PDF]. A decent write-up (from CNET of all places) is here. This appears to be the first decision ever to directly address this issue, and many commentators had thought it would come out differently. The major question is whether revealing one's PGP key is "testimonial" or not. According to the Supreme Court, giving up fingerprints or blood samples isn't, nor is standing for a lineup, nor is handing over the key to a safe, but if it's combination safe, well maybe that's different. Never let it be said that your Fifth Amendment rights are easy.
In the same spirit as the Open Net Initiative and Committee to Protect Bloggers that both track global internet filtering, Sami ben Gharbia's Access Denied Map tries to track the blocking of sites like Blogger, Flickr, YouTube and others by governments, as well as efforts by activists to keep them accessible or to challenge their blockage.
workplace protection--not as hotbutton as Marriage Equality or Don't Ask Don't Tell, but far more essential
ENDA House hearings start tomorrow --a record 94% of Fortune 500 companies now provide Sexual Orientation Discrimination Protection, and 89% of Americans polled believe Homosexuals should have equal rights in terms of job opportunities. Repeatedly introduced and then killed since 1994, the 2007 version--H.R. 2015--Employment Non-Discrimination Act (text of bill)--includes transgender protection for the very first time. The TVC is just one of many organizations fighting it. (there is a religious exemption, but groups like the TVC would be covered by it)
"Our main argument is that Hiasl is a person and has basic legal rights,” said Eberhart Theuer, a lawyer leading the challenge on behalf of a Vienna animal rights group. “We mean the right to life, the right to not be tortured, the right to freedom under certain conditions,” Theuer said. “We’re not talking about the right to vote here.” Some primatologists support the legal action, while others aren't so sure. Brazilian courts have already granted a chimp the right to a petition of Habeas Corpus.
The First Freedom Project --new from the Dept of Justice, announced at the Southern Baptist Convention along with a call for their help---specifically and only to protect the religious from discrimination against them. Many are not impressed: The administration has often ignored the importance of the no establishment principle by supporting attempts of governments to endorse a religious message, using tax dollars to fund pervasively religious organizations, allowing religious discrimination in hiring for federally funded projects, ... Legal strategies and actions from groups like the Alliance Defense Fund and ACLJ are now official DOJ policy, it appears. ...In his statement, Gonzales mentioned several cases litigated by ADF and its allies ...
The grooms wore khakis and leather boots. Two game rangers, Vernon Gibbs and Tony Halls, became the first same-sex couple to legally wed in South Africa on December 1, a day after President Thabo Mbeki's government authorised gay marriages. SA is the 5th country allowing fullly equal same-sex marriage rights--Worldwide timeline of advances here, from 1979 until now. (In other news: Israel just officially recognized full rights for marriages made abroad, and Mexico City just approved Civil Unions)
Sherri Finkbine --as reported by BBC News, on this day in 1962 (video clip too)--her travails and travels, the law, publicity, and what happened afterwards. (more here from American Prospect in 05: ...A Gallup Poll taken that year showed that the majority of Americans supported Finkbine, and her case was a turning point ...)
DHS's CyberStorm-- --Recognizing the imminent threat hippies and assorted leftists obviously pose to us all, a massive cyber terror simulation (international and involving 115 organizations) recently came to light: ...The attack scenario detailed in the presentation is a meticulously plotted parade of cyber horribles led by a "well financed" band of leftist radicals who object to U.S. imperialism, aided by sympathetic independent actors. At the top of the pyramid is the Worldwide Anti-Globalization Alliance, which sets things off by calling for cyber sit-ins and denial-of-service attacks against U.S. interests. WAGA's radical arm, the villainous Black Hood Society, ratchets up the tension on day one by probing SCADA computerized control systems and military networks ...
Ernest and Bertram --short film, formerly one of the best films you can't see after debuting at Sundance in 2002, with Sesame's lawyers then cracking down and forcing it to be pulled--now on youtube.
"If anything, a civil rights background is considered a liability." Meet the politically-appointed career staffers of the Justice Dept.'s Civil Rights Division: ... the kinds of cases the Civil Rights Division is bringing have undergone a shift. The division is bringing fewer voting rights and employment cases involving systematic discrimination against African-Americans, and more alleging reverse discrimination against whites and religious discrimination against Christians. ... Thorough Boston Globe article on how the administration disbanded the hiring committee in 2002 to appoint lawyers with a very different vision of what civil rights are, and the ensuring and ongoing results.
Texas Riparian Law I found this intriguing because I 1) live in Texas, 2) have walked many Texas creekbottoms, 3) have a lot of lawyer friends, and 4) as an English major, find the language somehow beautiful.
Eighth grader Anthony Soltero shot himself on Thursday, March 30, after the assistant principal at De Anza Middle School told him that he was going to prison for three years because of his involvement as an organizer of the April 28 school walk-outs to protest the anti-immigrant legislation in Washington. The vice principal also forbade Anthony from attending graduation activities and threatened to fine his mother for Anthony's truancy and participation in the student protests." Anthony was learning about the importance of civic duties and rights in his eighth grade class. Ironically, he died because the vice principal at his school threatened him for speaking out and exercising those rights," ...
...his boyfriend Josh. --beautiful story, made all the more poignant at a time of more and more state constitutional amendments ensuring second-class citizenship, and a Democratic party urging us to just shut up already, but still give.
what you need right now isn't the righteous anger the rest of the blogosphere will give you. You need more.
For the women of South Dakota: an abortion manual --building on the history and expertise of Jane, , an underground referral and abortion-providing group in Chicago in the 60s, Molly provides the vital info women in South Dakota (and maybe elsewhere soon) need.
Laurel Hester, RIP --because she and her partner fought, New Jersey police and fire department employees can now name anyone--not just a spouse--as a beneficiary for pension rights, helping to protect those they love after they're gone. Just one person who made a difference.
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