Friday Night Fun and Culture: Talking Heads

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Pussy Riot sentenced to two years in prison colony for hooliganism

From The Guardian UK:

Punk band members Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich jailed amid global protests

in Moscow and agencies, Friday 17 August 2012

Three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot have been found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred and sentenced to two years in a prison colony.

Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 29, were handed the sentence by a judge in Moscow amid a wave of protests around the world.

The three stared ahead defiantly from inside a glass cage, their wrists shackled in handcuffs, as the verdict was read. Supporters and opposition activists blamed the case against the women – and the tough sentence – on Vladimir Putin.

“Whatever Putin wants, Putin gets. That is the only thing to say,” Tolokonnikova’s husband, Pyotr Verzilov, said on leaving the court.

Hundreds of people, many wearing Pussy Riot T-shirts, gathered outside the court to protest against the verdict. “We’re trying to remain peaceful,” said Maya Trapeznikova, 25. “But many are reaching their limits and waiting for the order to fight,” she said of the growing movement against Putin.

The judge said in the verdict that the three band members “committed hooliganism driven by religious hatred” and offended religious believers.

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See Also:

Pussy Riot prove the only professionals in sight

From their perfectly pitched band name to their academic court statements, these women know exactly what they’re doing

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Ahead of Pussy Riot Verdict, Supporters Ready Protests

From Moscow Times:

By Natalya Krainova
17 August 2012

As a Moscow court is set to deliver a highly anticipated verdict Friday in the trial against members of female punk band Pussy Riot, street protests in support of the group are planned in at least 54 cities worldwide.

On Thursday, the judge who is set to deliver the verdict in the case, Marina Syrova, asked Moscow City Court chairwoman Olga Yegorova to provide her with bodyguards due to the “incessant threats” she has been receiving, court spokeswoman Anna Usachyova told Interfax.

Meanwhile, former Beatles singer Paul McCartney voiced hope that authorities will pardon the defendants — Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22; Maria Alyokhina, 24; and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30 — who have been detained since March and face up to seven years in prison on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.

The charges stem from their alleged participation in a February performance at Moscow’s Christ the Savior Cathedral that denounced President Vladimir Putin and Russian Orthodox Church head Patriarch Kirill using obscene language.

McCartney, who joins such prominent musicians as Madonna and Bjork in voicing support for the women, posted a short open letter addressed to the defendants on his website Thursday.

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Trans Teen Murdered in Chicago

From The Advocate:

One 19-year-old’s life ends just blocks from the April’s trans murder.

BY Diane Anderson-Minshall
August 16 2012

A gender variant teen has been murdered in Chicago a mere three blocks from where Paige Clay, another trans women, was found murdered in April.

Tiffany Gooden, 19, was found in an abandoned building on the city’s West Side, according to Windy City Times. Reporter Kate Sosin says that Gooden had sufferered multiple stab wounds and incised wounds and the death has been ruled a homicide.

Brian Turner, an outreach coordinator at Taskforce Prevention and Community Services on the West Side, told Sosin that he wasn’t sure if Gooden identified as transgender or used a female name and pronouns exclusively.

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Men Throw “Flaming Projectiles” At Utah Gay Club

From The Advocate:

BY Daniel Reynolds
August 16 2012

A group of men launched several “flaming projectiles” into the patio area of a Salt Lake City gay bar Wednesday night, according to ABC 4 News, before fleeing the scene. There were no injuries, and police are currently investigating.

The incident occurred at approximately 12:30 a.m. during the nightclub JAM’s popular karaoke night. Witness Fernando Noriega estimated that between 30-40 people filled the outdoor space when the flares were thrown, and stated that it was “a miracle” no one was injured.

“At first I assumed someone on the patio was setting off fireworks for some reason and thought who would be crazy enough to do that in such a crowded area?” stated Noriega to local news blog “Then as soon as I realized it wasn’t and I could see them falling from above us, I knew what was happening.”

Reagan Mower, a neighbor whose apartment faces the bar, stated to police that he observed a group of men loitering by the parking lot prior to the incident. “Two or three of them then walked back behind a dumpster in the alley and that’s when I saw them throw the flares,” he said.

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Ultra Right Wing Hate Group FRC Blames SPLC for Wednesday Shooting

From Metro Weekly:

Southern Poverty Law Center counters that ”hate group” label fully warranted

By Justin Snow
Published on August 16, 2012

At a press conference today, the Family Research Council laid blame for yesterday’s shooting of a security guard directly with the rhetoric of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

According to FRC President Tony Perkins, suspected shooter Floyd Lee Corkins II was given a ”license” to fire by the charged rhetoric of the SPLC, which has labeled the FRC a ”hate group” for their opposition to gay rights.

It was a dramatic declaration from Perkins, who had been relatively silent about the shooting that occurred in the lobby of the FRC on Wednesday morning, Aug. 15. The FRC security guard was struck in the arm before subduing the suspect, but is in stable condition.

Although Perkins thanked LGBT organizations that have condemned the act of violence, including the more that 25 group leaders who signed a statement on Wednesday, he asked them to go a step further and condemn the SPLC.

Speaking outside FRC headquarters in downtown Washington with the words ”Faith, Family, Freedom” etched into the wall of the building behind him, Perkins said the Southern Poverty Law Center should be held accountable for its ”reckless use of terminology.”

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Watchdog agency approves $49,000 fine against Prop. 8 campaign

From The LA Times:

August 16, 2012

The state’s campaign watchdog agency gave final approval Thursday to $49,000 in fines against the campaign committee for Proposition 8, a 2008 ballot measure banning gay marriage in California.

The state Fair Political Practices Commission determined that the campaign committee—Yes on 8 failed to properly file public reports disclosing late contributions and political checks over $5,000, as well as failing to properly dispose of an anonymous $10,000 contribution. An investigation concluded that more than $1 million in contributions was not properly reported.

The campaign committee admitted to the violations and agreed to pay the fines.

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Catholic School and Helen Gurley Brown

From Huffington Post:


What I remember most from 12 years of Catholic school, is that everything having to do with boys is a sin. And we had better believe it. One day a classmate at Marymount raised her hand in religion class and asked, “Is French kissing a mortal sin?” The nun answered without hesitation: “Yes.” We all knew that if you died with a mortal sin on your soul, you went straight to Hell — so if we were even considering this French kissing thing, we were taking eternity into our own hands.

French kissing and murder — all the same in God’s book.

Imagine the thrill that sprang through all of us — we who grew up wearing those navy blue jumpers and white blouses — when, years later, we breathlessly leafed through the pages of Helen Gurley Brown’s explosive 1962 book, Sex And The Single Girl, which described in unblushing detail a step-by-step strategy by which women could embrace their most secret sexual urges. Three weeks after its publication, the book had sold 3,000,000 copies.

By then my Marymount classmates and I had left our blue jumpers far behind, along with the nun’s fiery lessons. But some part of those flames still burned.

Before there was Erica Jong or Fifty Shades of Grey, there was Helen Gurley Brown, the pioneering publishing icon who passed away on Monday at the age of 90. A secretary-turned-copywriter-turned author, Helen rocked the culture with her revolutionary ideas about women and sexuality — and she did so without fear or apology.

I know, I know, there is plenty to debate about Brown’s brand of feminism — her signature Cosmopolitan magazine referred to women as “girls,” and its covers regularly featured models with puffed-up cleavage and headlines that promised man-snaring advice.

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For Good Customer Service Go to Government, Not Corporations

From On The Commons

Have you tried to get through to your insurance company or bank recently?

by David Morris
August 16, 2012

In 2012 we accept as received wisdom that government is unresponsive while a competitive marketplace forces private business to offer quality customer service. So when Representative Henry Cuellar (D-TX) introduced his warmly received bill, The Government Customer Service Improvement Act, most people accepted his premise, “When taxpayers interact with a government agency, they deserve the same timely, reliable assistance they would expect from a private sector business,”

Ironically, just as we achieve a bipartisan consensus that to improve customer service government should act like a private business, the evidence—both the empirical and anecdotal—is telling us it should be the other way around.

Consider the results of a new study by the Commonwealth Fund that compares private health insurance companies to government Medicare. Government was the hands down winner. People covered by private health plans were much more likely than Medicare beneficiaries to forego needed care, experience access problems, encounter medical bill problems, and be less satisfied with their coverage. Is anyone who’s had a conversation, or tried to have a conversation, with his or her private insurance carrier surprised?

Indeed, the evidence that government is far better than private business at delivering health insurance is so compelling that anti-government Americans have adopted an ingenious strategy to avoid conceding the point. They have simply decided that Medicare is a private insurance program. Recall the protest signs and talk show host warnings that President Obama better “keep the government out of Medicare!” during the health care reform debate.

We no longer even expect personal customer service in the fastest growing part of the economy and the one with which we interact the most—internet based services. “Twitter’s phone system hangs up after providing Web or e-mail addresses three times,” the New York Times recently reported .

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Arrested for chalking

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Lawrence O’Donnell Raises the Most Critical Question About Romney’s Taxes: Amnesty

From Huffington Post:


President Andrew Shepherd: This is not the business of the American people!
A. J. MacInerney: With all due respect, sir, the American people have a funny way of deciding on their own what is and what is not their business. (The American President, 1995).

Lawrence O’Donnell scored a TV-journalist coup last night by raising the issue of amnesty with regard to former Governor Mitt Romney’s (R-MA) refusal to reveal his tax returns prior to 2010.

Amnesty is, for many reasons, the most critical and potentially damaging issue in the entire Romney tax shenanigans saga.

If it is revealed, for example, that Romney indeed paid little or no taxes in the last 10 years, as alleged by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), that is largely baked into the cake by now, so that the surprise would be if he actually paid more on his income for a number of those years.

Romney’s lying about it all these weeks might be a small problem, but that too is generally assumed — Romney has demonstrated his willingness to say anything to anybody to get what he wants. Absent from the Romney’s life is anytime he risked anything or sacrificed for anyone.

Consider this: if Romney did hide income at his Swiss UBS account and did not pay his required taxes on it until 2009 when he could get amnesty, he could correctly say, now, that he has paid 100 percent of the taxes he owed. Moreover, should he release his returns, the years since 2003 will have been amended to show the taxes he owed and paid, along with a 25 percent penalty for the year with the largest illegally hidden income.

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Rep. Maxine Waters On The Ryan Plan, Tax Cuts For The Rich And The War On Women

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Republican Party Officially Embraces ‘Garbage’ Agenda 21 Conspiracy Theories As Its National Platform

From Think (Climate) Progress:

By Stephen Lacey
Aug 15, 2012

If you want to understand just how extreme and conspiratorial many in the “mainstream” Republican party have become, look no further than a resolution on Agenda 21 passed quietly in January.

Agenda 21 is a completely non-binding international framework for sustainability passed in 1992 at the Rio Earth Summit. The framework, which sets out very loose aspirational goals for making communities more efficient and less carbon-intensive, was signed by then President George H.W. Bush and later upheld by Presidents Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush.

Since the framework was adopted, right-wing conspiracy theorists have pushed bizarre theories about Agenda 21 being a central tool for the United Nations to create a one-world government and take away the rights of local property owners. In recent years, elevated by the megaphone of extreme pundits like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, these conspiracies made their way into mainstream politics. Today, Agenda 21ers — many affiliated with the Tea Party and the John Birch Society — are peddling fears about Agenda 21 in order to stop basic efficiency and renewable energy programs on the state level.

Conspiracy theorists active in politics have called Agenda 21 “socialism on steroids” that would cause Americans to be “herded into centers like the UN wants.”

And in an April presentation on Agenda 21, activist Victoria Baer had this to say about John McCain’s support of ethanol, which she also claimed was part of a UN plot: “We should have left him in Hanoi with Jane Fonda…he is a traitor, a pure traitor.”

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Pennsylvania woman faces $600 a day fine for feeding needy children

From Raw Story:

By David Edwards
Thursday, August 16, 2012

A woman in Chester Township, Pennsylvania has been warned that she could be fined as much as $600 a day if she continues to feed needy children in her community.

Angela Prattis has been feeding lunch to as many as 60 children a day under a program funded by the state’s Department of Education and administered by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. But because Prattis allowing the children to come to her home, Chester Township has threatened fines of $600 a day if she continues to hand out the lunches, which consist of a sandwich, fruit and milk.

Prattis told KPLC that the town sent her a letter stating she needed a variance to use her personal residence.

“It’s a letter stating, ‘shut it down or face a $600 fine,’” she explained.

“We’re talking about children,” Prattis added. “Children. It’s unbelievable. They’ve never once said anything to me in reference to what to do to be in the right standing with the township.”

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