Friday Night Fun and Culture II

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UN Condemns Mass Rape: Same as Mass Murder

Feminist News:

August 13, 2010

In an exchange with reporters outside the United Nations late last week, a high-ranking UN official described sexual violence during war as one of the greatest security risks of our time. Margot Wallstrom the UN’s Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, told reporters that using rape as a tool of war is no more acceptable nor inevitable than committing mass murder.

Wallstrom stressed the importance of recognizing rape as a crime against humanity and warned against creating a hierarchy of such crimes. She noted that “Rape is not a side effect but is actually a new frontline. Widespread and systematic sexual violence is both a crime against the victim and a crime against humanity. And sexual violence is the only crime against humanity that is routinely dismissed as being random or inevitable.”

The United Nations is fighting wartime sexual violence through their Action Against Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative. Its mandate includes providing strategic support for Peacekeeping Operations, raising awareness of the issue, and advocating for further political action to prevent wartime sexual violence. According to CNN, the UN is currently monitoring conflicts in the Republic of Congo, Liberia, Darfur, Chad and Cote d’Iviore because of the high incidence of sexual violence in those regions.

Media Resources: CNN 8/12/10; UN Radio 8/6/10; Stop Rape Now Website

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Friday Night Fun and Culture

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Opinion on Same-Sex Marriage Appears to Shift at Accelerated Pace

From Five Thirty Eight: Politics done Right
by Nate Silver @ 8:44 AM


In April, 2009, when we last took a survey of gay marriage polls, we found that support for it had converged somewhere into the area of 41 or 42 percent of the country. Now, it appears to have risen by several points, and as I reported yesterday, it has become increasingly unclear whether opposition to gay marriage still outweighs support for it.

Here is a version of the graph we produced in 2009, but updated to include the dozen or so polls that have been conducted on it since that time, as listed by I have also included opinions on gay marriage from the General Social Survey, which asked about gay marriage as long ago as 1988.

The LOESS regression line now shows 50 percent opposed to gay marriage and 49 percent in support — basically too close to call.

One caveat is that LOESS regression tends to be fairly sensitive on the endpoints, and so yesterday’s CNN survey, which showed the pro-gay marriage position leading 50.5-48.5, makes a fair amount of difference. But even if we ignored that survey, support for gay marriage would instead be in the range of 45-46 percent (and opposition between 51-52 percent): that would reflect acceleration in the rate of support for gay marriage, about a 4-point gain over the past 16 months, faster than the long-term rate of increase, which has been between 1 and 1.5 points per year.

Something to bear in mind is that it’s only been fairly recently that gay rights groups — and other liberals and libertarians — shifted toward a strategy of explicitly calling for full equity in marriage rights, rather than finding civil unions to be an acceptable compromise. While there is not necessarily zero risk of backlash resulting from things like court decisions — support for gay marriage slid backward by a couple of points, albeit temporarily, after a Massachusetts’ court’s ruling in 2003 that same-sex marriage was required by that state’s constitution — it seems that, in general, “having the debate” is helpful to the gay marriage cause, probably because the secular justifications against it are generally quite weak.

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Judge doubts gay marriage ban’s backers can appeal

From Raw Story

By The Associated Press
Friday, August 13th, 2010 — 8:06 am

The federal judge who overturned California’s same-sex marriage ban has more bad news for the measure’s sponsors: he not only is unwilling to keep gay couples from marrying beyond next Wednesday, he doubts the ban’s backers have the right to challenge his ruling.

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker on Thursday rejected a request to delay his decision striking down Proposition 8 from taking effect until high courts can take up an appeal lodged by its supporters. One of the reasons, the judge said, is he’s not sure the proponents have the authority to appeal since they would not be affected by or responsible for implementing his ruling.

By contrast, same-sex couples are being denied their constitutional rights every day they are prohibited from marrying, Walker said.

The ban’s backers “point to harm resulting from a ‘cloud of uncertainty’ surrounding the validity of marriages performed after judgment is entered but before proponents’ appeal is resolved,” he said. “Proponents have not, however, argued that any of them seek to wed a same-sex spouse.”

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Liberal groups push to exploit Target backlash

From Yahoo News:

Liberal groups try to exploit backlash against Target for helping anti-gay marriage candidate

Martiga Lohn, Associated Press Writer, On Friday August 13, 2010, 9:32 am EDT

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Protesters have been rallying outside Target Corp. or its stores almost daily since the retailer angered gay rights supporters and progressives by giving money to help a conservative Republican gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota. Liberal groups are pushing to make an example of the company, hoping its woes will deter other businesses from putting their corporate funds into elections.

A national gay rights group is negotiating with Target officials, demanding that the firm balance the scale by making comparable donations to benefit candidates it favors. Meanwhile, the controversy is threatening to complicate Target’s business plans in other urban markets. Several city officials in San Francisco, one of the cities where Target hopes to expand, have begun criticizing the company.

“Target is receiving criticism and frustration from their customers because they are doing something wrong, and that should serve absolutely as an example for other companies,” said Ilyse Hogue, director of political advocacy for the liberal group, which is pressing Target to formally renounce involvement in election campaigns.

But conservative organizations are likely to react harshly if Target makes significant concessions to the left-leaning groups.

The flap has revealed new implications of a recent Supreme Court ruling that appeared to benefit corporations by clearing the way for them to spend company funds directly in elections. Companies taking sides in political campaigns risk alienating customers who back other candidates.

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