Complaints of gender discrimination as men’s and women’s Olympic teams fly separately

From The Washington Post:

By Associated Press
Published: July 20, 2012

BRISBANE, Australia — Men up front, women in the back.

Not so fast, Olympians.

Sports governing bodies from Japan and Australia are being skewered following complaints that male Olympic athletes flew business class to the London Games, while the women sat in the cheap seats.

Japan’s world champion women’s football team took exception to flying economy while their male counterparts sat in business en route to the games.

“It should have been the other way around,” Japanese soccer star Homare Sawa, the 2011 FIFA women’s world player of the year, said after arriving in Paris after the 13-hour flight, with just the short hop to London left. “Even just in terms of age we are senior.”

The Japan Football Association said the men’s under-23 Olympic team members flew in business class because they are professionals. The women, however, are likely be the bigger draw at the games. Only months after the devastating earthquake and tsunami hit Japan last year, they brought a sliver of joy to their country by winning their first World Cup title.

The Australian women’s basketball team has also been more successful than the men, earning the silver medal at each of the last three Olympics.

On Friday, Basketball Australia said it would make sure the flight flap doesn’t happen again.

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Public defender, health officials weigh in on police condom policy

From The Bay Area Reporter:

Thursday, July 19, 2012

An official with the San Francisco Public Defender’s office and the city’s public health director commented this week on the San Francisco Police Department using condoms as evidence of prostitution.

Meanwhile, the international Human Rights Watch organization released a report today (Thursday, July 19) on policies in San Francisco and other cities.

Police Chief Greg Suhr issued a department-wide bulletin last week reminding staff not to confiscate unopened condoms. However, in the document, he repeated remarks he’s made previously that police may still use photographs of condoms as evidence in vice cases.

Bob Dunlap, a felony manager for the public defender’s office, said in an email this week that practice is “contrary to common sense.”

“They’re sending a mixed message,” Dunlap said. “By giving the condoms back they are encouraging sex workers to use them, but by using the fact of possession against them they are discouraging such use.”

Reports of police confiscating condoms have raised concerns about people being less likely to carry them, thereby putting people at greater risk for HIV transmission.

Among other points, Dunlap said, “It’s ironic to prosecute prostitution cases in the name of public health in a manner which creates a much larger public health danger.”

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Just How Bad is the Largest Drought in Decades?

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“Wetbacks” Is Acceptable Language at National Review Online

I just love how Conservatives try to pretend they aren’t really racist Nazi Scumbags.

From Huffington Post:


On Tuesday, National Review Senior Editor Jay Nordlinger posted an online column entitled “Against Growth!” On the subject of conservative reaction, during the 1980s, to the Reagan presidency, Nordlinger wrote:

“Truth is, some conservatives lamented that he had indeed “grown” in office. He had gone out of his way to accommodate liberals and moderates, and to accommodate the Kremlin. He was raising taxes, spending like crazy, welcoming wetbacks, pursuing arms control.”

Apparently, it did not occur to Nordlinger that the word “wetback” is deeply offensive to the Hispanic community. In fact, in a follow-up post, Nordlinger responded to colleagues and online criticism about his choice of words. Rather than apologize, however, he expressed defiance:

Look: I am not a politician. I’m a writer. And if you don’t like what I write — for heaven’s sake, there are 8 billion others you can click on. I would further say to the complainers, using a phrase I’ve never liked, frankly: Get a life. Get a frickin’ life.

Nordlinger explained that his intent was to describe the mentality of Reagan’s critics. Yet he couldn’t help being dismissive, adding:

If people wet their pants on seeing the word “wetback,” this country is as far gone as the most pessimistic and alarmist people say it is. Two more words: Good grief.

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Spanish take to streets in protest as MPs pass €65bn austerity package

From The Guardian UK:

Spain’s cost of borrowing hits record high as Germany approves potential bond-buying with leftovers from €100bn banks bailout

in Madrid and Brussels, Thursday 19 July 2012

Protesters took to the streets of 80 Spanish cities on Thursday night after prime minister Mariano Rajoy’s People’s party (PP) pushed a €65bn (£51bn) austerity package through parliament and the country paid record prices to borrow money from sceptical markets.

More than 100,000 people were estimated to have joined in demonstrations called by trades unions, with about 50,000 gathering in Madrid. Police fired rubber bullets to disperse the protesters in Madrid.

Angry civil servants had blocked traffic in several main Madrid avenues earlier in the day, with protesters puncturing the tyres of dozens of riot police vans, amid growing upset at austerity, recession and 24% unemployment.

Rajoy was able to get the measures through parliament comfortably, using only the votes of PP MPs.

The finance minister, Cristóbal Montoro, who warned on Wednesday there was no money for civil service wages, said Spain could not go deeper into debt. “Financing public services with more deficit and more debt will doom us,” he said.

Proof of Spain’s growing financing problems came when it paid a record interest rate of 6.459% to sell five-year bonds, while rates on 10-year bonds rose back above the unsustainable 7% level.

France paid less than 1% for similar five-year bonds as investors shunned southern economies for what they saw as the eurozone’s safer core.

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Countrywide whistleblower reveals rampant mortgage fraud part of ‘everyday business’

From Raw Story:

By Sarah Jaffe, AlterNet
Saturday, July 21, 2012

Countrywide Financial was one of the subprime lenders at the heart of the financial crisis; its predatory lending practices resulted in disgustingly large payouts for executives while sticking low-income borrowers with explosive mortgages they hadn’t a hope of paying back. The New York Times‘ Gretchen Morgenson called Countrywide, “Exhibit A for the lax and, until recently, highly lucrative lending that has turned a once-hot business ice cold and has touched off a housing crisis of historic proportions.”

Eileen Foster was an investigator in charge of Fraud Risk Management at Countrywide when the ticking time bomb of its bad loans detonated. The practices she discovered shocked her and have also shocked those who’ve heard her story—including the producers of “60 Minutes,” who asked her on the program last December to discuss the lack of prosecutions of any of the bankers responsible for the crisis. But instead of cleaning house and admitting guilt, Bank of America—which purchased Countrywide as the financial crisis grew, in what the Wall Street Journal calls “one of the worst deals ever struck in corporate America”–drove Foster out and tried to discredit her findings.

In 2011, the Department of Labor ruled that Foster had been illegally fired. It said that her firing was retaliation for her whistle-blowing and ordered that she be reinstated and paid compensation. There have still been no prosecutions, and no officials have asked to hear Foster’s story—so she’s taking it public. Earlier this year, she was honored with a Ridenhour prize for truth-telling from the Nation Institute and the Fertel Foundation, and this week she spoke with AlterNet in an exclusive interview discussing what she saw at Countrywide—and what happened to her as a result.

Rampant Fraud”

“This is a mountain that people think is a molehill,” Foster told AlterNet. “As far as this type of financial crime, things are far worse than I would have ever imagined. In my furthest imagination I would have been challenged to come up with the things I have seen play out.”

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The Endless Summer

From The New York Times:

July 18, 2012

Here’s what American exceptionalism means now: on a per-capita basis, we either lead or come close to leading the world in consumption of resources, production of pollutants and a profound unwillingness to do anything about it. We may look back upon this year as the one in which climate change began to wreak serious havoc, yet we hear almost no conversation about changing policy or behavior. President Obama has done nicely in raising fuel averages for automobiles, but he came into office promising much more, and Mitt Romney promises even less. (There was a time he supported cap and trade.)

It has been well over 100 years since the phenomenon called the greenhouse effect was identified, 24 years since the steamy summer of ’88, when many of us first took notice, and, incredibly, 15 years since the Kyoto Protocol. That agreement stipulated that signatories would annually reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases and was ratified (and even acted upon) by almost every country in the world, including every industrialized nation but one. That would be the United States. Now that’s exceptionalism. (Bill Clinton signed Kyoto; George W. Bush, despite an election pledge, repudiated it.)

The climate has changed, and the only remaining questions may well be: a) how bad will things get, and b) how long will it be before we wake up to it. The only sane people who don’t see this as a problem are those whose profitability depends on the status quo, people of money and power like Romney (“we don’t know what’s causing climate change”), most of his party, and Rex Tillerson, the Exxon chairman, who called the effects of climate change “manageable.”

Which I suppose they are, as long as you’re wealthy and able to move around at will. But it’s not manageable to the corn farmers losing their crops (many are just chopping them down), the ranchers selling off their cattle, the thousands of people in Colorado burned out of their homes in fires caused by the worst drought since 1956 or those who will lose their homes or jobs to fire, flood, drought or whatever in coming years. How will they “manage”?

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