Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The west must not use women's rights to justify war.

The west must not use women's rights to justify war

Iranian women are being coopted into a NATO narrative pointing towards invasion.
A demonstrator dressed as a victim of a stoning execution joins Iranian exiles protesting against the possible stoning of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani in Iran. Photograph: Getty Images.
Despite an international outcry, Iran seems determined to have Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, 43, stoned to death for adultery. Her plight has become a test case for the global community's response to Iran's barbaric institutional misogyny, and Tehran has responded by thumbing its nose at the rest of the world, including forcing Ashtiani to confess her 'crimes' on television. In Britain, our outrage is unanimous, and rightly so.
It seems curiously inconsistent, then, that just a few weeks ago the Home Office was quite prepared to deport another Iranian woman, Kiana Firouz, to certain execution in her native country for sexual unorthodoxy. Firouz made the film Cul de Sac to raise awareness of the oppression of lesbians in Iran, outing herself very publicly and embarrassing the state in the process: both crimes punishable by death in Iran. Nonetheless, it took a coordinated campaign by LGBT activists and solidarity networks in the UK to shame the Home Office into granting Firouz leave to remain.
Bita Ghaedi, another Iranian woman facing execution for breaking her marriage vows, also escaped to Britain- where she was sent to a holding cell and repeatedly threatened with deportation. Ghaedi has been on several hunger strikes to protest at her treatment, but she still lives in fear of being sent back to Iran. Had the unfortunate Ms Ashtiani been smuggled to the UK, it is fair to assume that she too would currently be detained in Yarl's Wood, subjected to the indignity of pleading for her life with a government whose professed solidarity with Iranian women has not yet overcome its prejudice against immigrants to extend support to the hundreds of women who arrive on these shores fleeing violence every year - all of whom, unlike Ms Ashtiani, we could actually do something materially to help.
State violence against women has long been used to justify military interventionism. The government of Iran is rather unusual in taking it upon itself to employ the executioners, but plenty of states with whom the US and UK have no military disputes currently allow men who feel their women have besmirched their family honour to carry out the killings themselves on the understanding that punishment will be minimal or non-existent.
Article 340 of the Penal Code of Jordan states that "he who discovers his wife or one of his female relatives committing adultery and kills, wounds, or injures one of them, is exempted from any penalty." Similar laws were struck down only very recently in Syria, Morocco and Brazil; in Pakistan, incidences of women and girls being slain by their families for sexual transgressions (including having the gall to be raped) are routinely ignored by police and prosecutors.
Moreover, across the world 68,000 women are effectively condemned to agonising death each year - 5% of them in developed countries - for the crime of wanting sexual and reproductive self-determination in states with sanctions against abortion. There has, as yet, been no systemic global outcry at their plight. And in at least one European country, the defence of 'provocation to murder' - the so-called 'cuckold's defence' - was enshrined in law until just two years ago, allowing husbands to plead for a reduced sentence if the wife they had killed was unfaithful. The country in question was Great Britain. Were the US or UK to launch a systemic offensive against every country brutalising its female citizens because of their sex at the level of policy and culture, it'd be World War Three on Tuesday - and we would have to start by bombing our own cities.
In this context, it could well be construed that there is another, more sinister agenda at play beyond concern for women's rights. Yesterday, Iran told the west to butt out of its right to murder Sakineh Ashtiani, making it clear that this case is now less about the wellbeing of one woman than about moral and militaristic positioning between hostile states. There is clear precedent for this callous ideological long game.
This month, Time magazine published a cover photograph of a young woman, Aisha, whose nose and ears had been cut off by her father-in-law. The cover ran with the unambiguous title "what happens if we leave Afghanistan". However, as Afghan women's rights activist Malalai Joya told France 24, Aisha was attacked under Western occupation, and such atrocities have arguably increased since the 2002 invasion. "Eighteen-year-old Aisha is just an example - cutting ears, noses and toes, torturing and even slaughtering is a norm in Afghanistan," said Joya. "Afghan women, are squashed between three enemies: the Taliban, fundamentalist warlords and troops. Once again, it is moulding the oppression of women into a propaganda tool to gain support and staining their hands with ever-deepening treason against Afghan women."
In March, Wikileaks published a CIA briefing that outlined a strategy to counter growing opposition in Europe to participation in the US-led occupation of Afghanistan. It recommended using a narrative about the oppression of women in the country that highlighted the Taliban's misogynist violence while ignoring that of the pro-occupation warlords and the occupation armies. A similar story is now being disseminated about the plight of women in Iran, and poor Ms Ashtiani has become a tokenistic figure in that absolving narrative.
Instead of the solidarity they deserve, solidarity that might first be extended by treating asylum seekers with something less than contempt, Iranian women are being coopted into a NATO narrative whose trajectory seems to point inexorably towards invasion. That the state of Iran hates and fears women is not up for debate, and if even one person can be saved from fascistic, fundamentalist woman-haters, an international campaign is more than justified. However, if, as seems likely, Iran executes Sakineh Ashtiani anyway, it would be beyond distasteful for NATO governments to cannibalise her corpse as part of the moral groundwork for further bloodshed.
Tags: Iran

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Apple manager charged with taking kickbacks from suppliers

Apple manager charged with taking kickbacks from suppliers

A manager at Apple has been indicted on 23 counts of money laundering, wire fraud, and accepting kickbacks of over $1 million from would-be Apple suppliers in Asia. Paul Shin Devine, a global supply manager, and Singapore resident Andrew Ang are accused of soliciting payments from suppliers in exchange for confidential information that would enable the companies to win contracts from Apple.
According to the indictment, Devine had the companies bidding to supply iPod and iPad components wire numerous small payments to a number of US and offshore bank accounts held by him and at least one shell company. Devine is currently in custody in California, while an IRS agent declined to tell the The Mercury Newsif Ang was in custody.
Apple condemned Devine's alleged actions in a statement. "Apple is committed to the highest ethical standards in the way we do business," spokesperson Steve Dowling said. "We have zero tolerance for dishonest behavior inside or outside the company."
Devine will appear in federal court on Monday afternoon.

First Drive: 2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor 6.2

Thursday, August 5, 2010



 You have not only taught me Hitch about Myths but have inspired me to be a truthful person with those whom I love. hope you get better!

The Hitch will never die! Your books Hitch will forever deprogram the masses.(world)
Prop 8 may still be enforced if it wasn't for you four!

Monday, August 2, 2010

In India, Using Facebook to Catch Scofflaw Drivers

Mukesh Gupta/Reuters
Traffic in New Delhi, a city with just 5,000 traffic officers to police the often-clogged roads.
NEW DELHI — This city is famous for its snarled traffic and infamous for its unruly drivers — aggressive rule-breakers who barrel through red lights, ignore crosswalks and veer into bicycle or bus lanes to find open routes.
A photo posted to Facebook showed a man riding a motorcycle without a helmet.
Now, the city’s overburdened traffic police officers have enlisted an unexpected weapon in the fight against dangerous driving: Facebook.
The traffic police started a Facebook page two months ago, and almost immediately residents became digital informants, posting photos of their fellow drivers violating traffic laws. As of Sunday more than 17,000 people had become fans of the page and posted almost 3,000 photographs and dozens of videos.
The online rap sheet was impressive. There are photos of people on motorcycles without helmets, cars stopped in crosswalks, drivers on cellphones, drivers in the middle of illegal turns and improperly parked vehicles.
Using the pictures, the Delhi Traffic Police have issued 665 tickets, using the license plate numbers shown in the photos to track vehicle owners, said the city’s joint commissioner of traffic, Satyendra Garg.
Despite some concerns about privacy, and the authenticity of the photos, the public’s response has been overwhelmingly positive, he said.
Mr. Garg said the Facebook page never told people to take pictures of lawless drivers. “We wanted a forum where people could express their views and suggest changes,” he said Friday.
With just 5,000 traffic officers in this city of 12 million people, the social networking site is filling a useful role, he said. “Traffic police can’t be present everywhere, but rules are always being broken,” Mr. Garg said. “If people want to report it, we welcome it. A violation is a violation.”
Mr. Garg acknowledged that it was possible photos could be manipulated to incriminate someone who was not actually breaking the law. But, he said, drivers can contest the tickets if they think they were wrongly issued. The police advise residents not to let personal animosity influence their photo-taking, and not to do anything to compromise their own security, like antagonizing law-breakers while snapping photos.
Some city residents have applauded the effort. “This is a good use of police resources,” said Vijyant Jain, a 27-year-old manager with Orange Business Services, who drives a minivan. He posted an alert on the Facebook page on Friday about a traffic obstruction.
“Up until now, any driver about to break traffic laws, including me, used to look around,” Mr. Jain said, to see if there was an officer nearby before doing so. Now, drivers will be much more vigilant, he said, because “it is not only traffic cops they need to worry about.”
Critics say these methods could set a dangerous precedent. Relying on people to turn in their neighbors online is “Orwellian,” said Gaurav Mishra, chief executive of 2020 Social, a social business consultancy based here.
“When you start using the Internet as way for the government to keep tabs on its citizens, I start getting really worried, because you don’t know where it will end,” he said. The popularity of the page shows that the ability to publicly humiliate wrongdoers “taps into a very basic primal part of who we are as human beings,” Mr. Mishra said, and it is not a pleasant one.
While the Facebook page reaches thousands of people, the vast majority of residents here are not connected to it. Just one in four people in urban India has Internet access, and Internet users tend to be the wealthiest. Facebook said in July that users from India passed the 12 million mark.
The authorities have embraced the Facebook informants in part because the dangers of driving in India are ever-present. India has more traffic fatalities than any country in the world, and the number of new, untrained drivers has skyrocketed in recent years as the Indian middle class grows. The system of roads and the police are ill-equipped to handle the crush.
Nowhere is the problem more pronounced than in this traffic-choked city, which must contend with an additional four million more people in the metro area on top of its own population. From the beginning of the year until July 15, the police stopped 247,973 drivers who ran through city traffic signals. At the beginning of 2010, there were 6.5 million motor vehicles registered in the city, and road experts here estimate that it is adding about 1,000 motor vehicles each day.
The Delhi Traffic Police now have a dedicated team of four officers who monitor the Facebook page around the clock, Mr. Garg said. In addition to examining potential violations, they also post information about closed roads and traffic jams, respond to tips about traffic snarls and answer questions.
Almost 50 of the tickets issued based on photos on the site were given to police officers who were breaking traffic rules, Mr. Garg added.
Social networking services are playing a growing role in court cases and law enforcement, but the Delhi Traffic Police’s use of Facebook appears to be unique.
Dozens of police departments in the United States have Facebook pages, which are often used to keep the public informed of changes in laws, warn them of dangers and solicit participants in fund-raisers.
Some departments use Facebook to connect with residents and show the human side of the force. The Houston Police Department, for example, has more than 16,600 followers, in part because of posts about the ducks that join its cadets for roll call in the mornings, and photos of recent burglary arrests taken through night-vision goggles.
On rare occasions, American police departments ask Facebook users to become involved in law enforcement. The police in Baker, La., for instance, posted a photo on Facebook of a truck involved in a theft, asking for tips. It was unclear whether the post had led to any arrest, but one user did comment that the truck looked like one owned by a friend’s brother.
In New Delhi, Mr. Garg acknowledges that there are complications to issuing tickets based on Facebook posts. People might use the site to settle scores, for example. But, he said, the response has been positive so far, and he does not want to discourage anyone from posting photos.
He also had some practical advice for Delhi’s would-be citizen traffic officers. “We advise while you are driving not to take a photo” of a fellow driver who is breaking traffic laws, Mr. Garg said. Using a cellphone camera while driving “in itself is a violation.”

Empire Avenue Putting a price on your online popularity.


Empire Avenue

Putting a price on your online popularity
Social networks often leave users in an arms race stockpiling friends by reaching out to people they hardly know, like elementary school classmates, or...Dad? Creating a stock market on the show: Empire Avenue.

Fashioning itself as a "stock exchange of friends", this just-launched Canadian marketplace uses an array of methods to determine your personal value in the realm of social media, then allows others to buy or sell virtual shares in your future online worth/popularity in hopes of improving their own, a process that, similar to high school, should involve lots of inside-her trading. Pick a ticker name and link up your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, etc.) and EA'll use a super-secret proprietary formula -- factoring in everything from your activity level to the scope of your reach (i.e., friends, followers...) -- to determine your value in a super-cool-sounding virtual currency called "Eaves"; you’ll also be auto-awarded a bank of seed Eaves with which to buy up other people -- choose wisely, or it'll beyou in the cellar. You garner mores Eaves every time someone buys stock in you, plus you'll bank daily dividends on the stocks you own (if they're particularly profitable your personal stock price'll go up too); potential investments can be screened by wealth, share value, or daily change, and every user’s profile includes deets on their recent share price fluctuation, latest daily earnings, and additional stuff like their number of Facebook friends and how frequently they Tweet, which is totally for losers! (P.S. follow @Thrillist).

In the coming months they're planning to roll outa rewards program allowing "influential" users to redeem their virtual currency for discounts on partnered brands & advertisers most relevant to them, hopefully in time for...Father's Day?
See if it pays to be your friend at