Category Archives: Sex

Branded Women: One literal, one metaphorical


Two documentaries from newspapers on opposites shores of the Atlantic Ocean focus on the forced identification of women exploited for financial gain.

The first video, from the Guardian, focuses on the shattering power of literal branding, albeit with a skin-piercing needle rather than red hot iron once used on slaves and criminals.

From Guardian Docs:

Survivors Ink: Erasing the marks of sex trafficking

Program notes:

Rebranded: how Survivors Ink is erasing the marks of the US sex trafficking industry.

Pimp-led prostitution is one of the most violent and prolific forms of trafficking found in the US, with hundreds of thousands of women sold annually for commercial gain. Many are branded with tattoos by their traffickers as a sign of ownership and control. After experiencing such an ordeal in Columbus, Ohio, Jennifer Kempton founded Survivors Ink, a grassroots project that helps formerly trafficked women to cover up their branding with their own symbols of hope and recovery. Kempton explains how she left years of abuse and drug addiction behind and is helping others to do likewise.

The second video, from the New York Times, focuses on the power of media to brand a human being, constraining identity to inflame and entice, creating a frenzy that depends on an externally imposed identity, a brand, complete with catch phrases and slogans.

The focus is an Australian media frenzy and criminally inept persecution and prosecution of a a grieving mother:

‘Dingo’s Got My Baby’: Trial by Media | Retro Report

Program notes:

In 1982, an Australian mother was convicted of murdering her baby daughter. She was later exonerated, but soon fell victim to a joke that distracted the world from the real story.

EnviroWatch: Health, climate, fuel, nukes


From RT, new hope for people like Ted Kennedy and our own mother who died of brain cancer:

Cannabis combined with radiotherapy can make brain cancer ‘disappear,’ study claims

Two cannabis components can have a significant effect on the size of cancerous tumors in the brain, especially when combined with radiotherapy, according to new research. The study says the growths can virtually “disappear.”

The research was carried out by specialists at St Georges, University of London and published in the Molecular Cancer Therapeutics journal.

There are some 85 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, but the two that had a demonstrably positive effect were tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

Combining their use alongside radiotherapy shows a drastic effect, the study claims.

And a possible source of the medication from the Guardian:

Can Zambia save its environment with marijuana?

  • Green party’s presidential candidate Peter Sinkamba is promising voters to cut country’s dependency on mining – by growing and exporting marijuana

For decades, Zambia has staked its economic fortunes on copper mining. But when voters in this southern African nation go to the polls in January to select a new president, at least one candidate will be looking to send that tradition up in smoke.

On Friday, Peter Sinkamba will announce his candidacy on the Green party ticket to replace the late President Michael Sata, who died on 29 October from an undisclosed illness. Sinkamba, regarded as Zambia’s leading environmentalist for his battles against the country’s big copper mines, is running on an unlikely platform, especially in this socially conservative nation: legalising marijuana.

His plan, first announced in April, calls for cannabis’ legalisation for medicinal use in Zambia, which would be a first in Africa. The surplus crop would be exported abroad, earning Zambia what Sinkamba claims could be billions of dollars.

A serious cause for concern from BBC News:

Warning over plastics used in treating premature babies

US researchers have warned that premature babies are being exposed to high levels of a potentially dangerous chemical in plastics.

A study suggested babies may be exposed to high levels of a phthalate called DEHP in medical equipment. Some US healthcare providers have banned the use of DEHP, and other products were available, the researchers said.

The UK is currently re-evaluating its position on phthalate use in devices. Evidence on the safety of phthalates in humans has been inconclusive, but European regulators have classified DEHP as possibly carcinogenic to humans.

Tragedy on the Subcontinent from the New York Times:

India Sterilization Deaths Linked to Pills Tainted With Rat Poison, Officials Say

The women who died after sterilization surgery in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh might have been given antibiotic pills contaminated with rat poison, a senior official said on Friday.

Sonmoni Borah, the divisional commissioner in the district of Bilaspur, in Chhattisgarh, said that tablets of the antibiotic ciprofloxacin that were seized in police raids of Mahawar Pharma, a small company supplying medicines to the state government, were found to contain the chemical zinc phosphide.

“If you do a quick Google search, you will find it is rat poison, and the women were displaying symptoms similar to poisoning,” Mr. Borah said in a telephone interview. State officials issued an urgent warning on Friday to practitioners across the state, telling them to stop distributing or using ciprofloxacin “with immediate effect,” he said.

Another outbreak threatens, from MercoPress:

Fears of a new Chikungunya viral strain in Brazil with the coming of summer

The Chikungunya outbreak which continues to affect thousands of Caribbean residents since it first appeared in St. Martin last year has been relatively self-limiting in the United States, due to the fact that the current strain only spreads through the Aedes egypti mosquito vector, which is uncommon on the US Eastern seaboard.

But recent diagnoses of a new viral strain in Brazil may turn the current hemispheric spread of the crippling disease on its head. The strain – which is prevalent in some African states and which has been the cause of several outbreaks in South-east Asian countries – readily infects the Aedes albopictus mosquito, a hardier species which is common along the US East Coast, and which is adapted to colder climates.

Brazil has recorded over 200 cases of Chikungunya – predominantly in the country’s east-coast Bahia state – but according to Kansas State University virologist Stephen Higgs, the African strain in Brazil has not yet developed the type of dangerous mutations observed in South-east Asia.

Such mutations could make the strain up to 100 times more infectious to mosquitoes, says Higgs, allowing the vectors to become more easily infected and pass the virus on to humans. The virus itself has been shown to develop rapid adaptive mutations, underscoring fears of eventual epidemic circulations of the new strain.

From Reuters, and closer to the U.S.:

Mexico detects first case of mosquito-borne chikungunya virus

Mexico has detected its first domestic case of the painful mosquito-borne viral disease chikungunya in the southwest of the country, the state government of Chiapas said on Saturday.

Chikungunya is spread by two mosquito species, and is typically not fatal. But it can cause debilitating symptoms including fever, headache and severe joint pain lasting months.

The government of Chiapas, which borders Guatemala, said an 8 year old girl became the first person to contract the disease in Mexico, and that she was treated in hospital in the town of Arriaga. The girl has since been released.

Polio-vaccine-pressured Pakistan, from the Express Tribune:

Travel restricted for Pakistanis without polio certificate, says IHC

In a meeting held by the International Health Committee, restrictions have been placed on Pakistani’s travelling abroad without a polio certificate, Express News reported Saturday.

The committee had declared Pakistan to be a nation responsible for spreading the polio virus across the globe.

Between July and now, three cases of polio have arisen in Afghanistan, for which the committee attributes blame to Pakistan.

In attempts to eradicate polio in six months, the International Health Committee have come down hard on Pakistan and ordered that no Pakistani could travel abroad without a polio certificate.

Infectious sausage, via BBC News:

One in 10 sausages ‘carries risk of hepatitis E virus’

One in 10 sausages and processed pork meat products in England and Wales could cause hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection if undercooked, experts warn.

There has been an “abrupt rise” in the number of cases in England and Wales as people do not realise the risk, scientists advising the government say. Sausages should be cooked for 20 minutes at 70C to kill the virus, they said.

Although serious cases are rare, HEV can cause liver damage or be fatal.

Wikidemiology, via the Los Angeles Times:

Scientists use Wikipedia search data to forecast spread of flu

Can public health experts tell that an infectious disease outbreak is imminent simply by looking at what people are searching for on Wikipedia? Yes, at least in some cases.

Researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory were able to make extremely accurate forecasts about the spread of dengue fever in Brazil and flu in the U.S., Japan, Poland and Thailand by examining three years’ worth of Wikipedia search data. They also came up with moderately success predictions of tuberculosis outbreaks in Thailand and China, and of dengue fever’s spread in Thailand.

However, their efforts to anticipate cases of cholera, Ebola, HIV and plague by extrapolating from search data left much to be desired, according to a report published Thursday in the journal PLOS Computational Biology. But the researchers believe their general approach could still work if they use more sophisticated statistics and a more inclusive data set.

Keystone pipelined, from BBC News:

Keystone XL pipeline approval passes House

The US House of Representatives has passed a bill to approve the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline.

The legislation will now be put to a vote in the Senate next week, where its prospects are unclear.

The 875-mile (1,408km) pipeline would carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, to the US state of Nebraska where it joins pipes running to Texas.

President Barack Obama is said to take a “dim view” of the legislation, but has not directly threatened a veto.

More from the Toronto Globe and Mail:

Keystone pipeline good for Canada, not U.S., Obama says

As a pro-Keystone XL effort gathered bipartisan steam in Congress, President Barack Obama suggested that the controversial pipeline may be good for Canada but doesn’t offer much to Americans.

The Republican-dominated House of Representatives passed – by a 252-161 vote – a pro-Keystone XL bill intended to force Mr. Obama to approve the Canadian oil export project.

It was the ninth time the House of Representatives has passed a pro-Keystone XL measure. The Senate is expected to take up a similar bill next week.

More from the Christian Science Monitor:

Keystone XL pipeline: Obama says he ‘won’t budge’

A Keystone bill swept to easy approval in the House Friday, with 31 Democrats joining the Republican majority, and a parallel bill is scheduled for Senate action next week.

Mr. Obama saying he’ll act on immigration reform because Congress has failed to, while Congress is acting on Keystone to try to end what many lawmakers view as presidential obstructionism.

And now Obama is squaring off formally against fellow Democrats, as well as Republicans.

A Keystone bill swept to easy approval in the House Friday, with 31 Democrats joining the Republican majority, and a parallel bill is scheduled for Senate action next week, with Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) of Louisiana as a lead sponsor. (Until now Senate majority leader Harry Reid has kept the issue off the Senate floor, in a bid to protect Democrats from a divisive vote.)

After jump, heads in sand in G20 climate protest as Obama shines a spotlight on Abbott and lobbyists battle over the Great Barrier Reef, one of climate change’s more striking effects, a legal battle over the humanity of chimps, then it’s on to Fukushimapocalypse Now!, starting with new questions over health risks, more radiation spikes, the new governor takes the tour, and a waste site decision delayed again, China mulls adding more new nuclear power plants, and an appetite for an Iranian nuclear deal. . . Continue reading

Wages and sexual harassment in restaurants


The nation’s most powerful lobby in terms of its impacts on large numbers of people is the National Restaurant Association, a political and economic force solidly in control of Congress and ensuring that the nation’s largest employer is its poorest paying.

In a brilliant and passionate presentation, attorney and University of California, Berkeley, lecturer Saru Jayaraman presents a saga characterized by economic deprivation, vulnerability, and overt sexual harassment. . .and worse.

From University of California Television:

Behind the Kitchen Door: Wages and Conditions for Food System Workers with Saru Jayaraman

Program notes:

UC Berkeley lecturer Sara Jayaraman gives a rousing talk describing the harsh and unequal treatment of the nation’s restaurant staff as she argues for increasing the minimum wage in what is now the second largest and fastest growing industry in the country. Jayaraman is presented as the keynote speaker at the Fall 2014 Board of Advisors Dinner for the Goldman School of Public Policy at UC Berkeley.

Chart of the day: Women targeted online


From a troubling new report [PDF] from the Pew Research Center:

BLOG Harrass

One of the differences between U.S. and France


Can you image any U.S. national art museum opening a major exhibit taking the same approach to a promotional video as the staff of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris did to an exhibition focusing on that most controversial of French writers, the man whoise name gives us sadism?

From TheLocal.fr:

Musée d’Orsay shocks with erotic promo video

This week The Local is handing its prestigious “Only in France” award to Paris’s famous Musée d’Orsay, whose promotional video for its new exhibition has got pulses racing beyond the French art world. Let’s just say it’s “Not Safe For Work”.

Dozens of people lie naked on the floor, all intertwined in a writhing, squirming mess, as arms reach up grabbing and groping at the bare flesh.

It might sound like a scene from one of DSK’s notoriously sordid sex parties, but it is in fact a video advertising a new exhibition at Paris’s famous Musée d’Orsay.

The Musée d’Orsay, which stands on the banks of the River Seine has been forced to defend itself this week over its provocative marketing campaign for its new exhibition “Sade: Attacking the Sun” (Sade. Attaquer le soleil), which opened this week.

And here’s the video [NSFW, sadly], via the Musée d’Orsay:

An exhibition, a look, “Sade Attacking the sun.

Program notes [via Google Translate and a tweak]:

The Musée d’Orsay video artists David Freymond and Florent Michel created this to offer a personal look at the exhibits. The event of the season, “Sade. Attacking the Sun”, inspired this clip.

Microsoft in the head: A corporateer’s faux pas


What would provoke editorial cartoonist Lee Judge of the Kansas City Star to create this?

BLOG Nadella

ABC News explains:

Microsoft CEO Says Women Should Not Ask For Raises

Program note:

Satya Nadella regrets telling a room full of women to have faith in the system and “good karma.”

More from BBC News:

The resulting commentary is the stuff of Microsoft public relations nightmares.

“Nadella achieved this emotional engagement by offering up the most deplorable and incorrect advice to women in the workplace since Joan Holloway told Peggy Olson to wear something that showed off her darling ankles,” writes Nitasha Tiku on the tech blog ValleyWag, referring to the television programme Mad Men, which depicts office culture in the 1960s.

At Time, Laura Stampler writes: “Gender pay gap got you down? Take a crash course from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s Etiquette Academy For Polite Young Ladies: Smile pretty and don’t be so unbecoming as to ask for a salary bump. After all, a raise is a lot like a male suitor, and if you pursue it, you might just drive it away.”

Although the “karma” portion of Nadella’s speech gained the most attention, Stampler reserves her sharpest words for “the system” that Mr Nadella says will take care of female workers.

“Unfortunately, that system that Nadella wants women to put all their blind trust in only provides them with 78 cents to the dollar of what men earn. And if we look closer at the women Nadella was specifically addressing, the reality is fairly grim: a gender pay gap exists on every level of Stem [science, technology and maths] jobs. In Silicon Valley, men with bachelor’s degrees earn 40% more than their female educational counterparts.”

In our experience working in a different field, journalism, we found that asking for a raise was the best way to get one, providing you did work to merit a pay hike. We also saw in our 50 years in and out of the business the first real influx of women into the news business, and in our reporting witnessed firsthand the disparaging attitudes that prevailed in all sectors of the corporate world toward “the girls.”

For Nadella, in effect, to tell women workers to shut up and take it is simply astonishing, his subsequent apology not withstanding. One has to wonder how he got the top job at Microsoft.

Map of the day: Legalized same sex marriages


Following today’s refusal to hear challenges by attorneys for anti-gay marriage activists in the heavily bordered states, the status of the institution in America today.

From the Los Angeles Times:

BLOG Gay wed