By Tracy Clark-Flory
Saturday, Oct 20, 2012
I picked up the phone and dialed the number for the local field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “I’ve found what I think is child porn,” I told the operator, my voice shaking.
I was researching a popular “jailbait” message board this week when I discovered a thread filled with webcam screengrabs and videos of what looked to be pubescent girls in various states of undress and sexual activity. I’ve come across “barely legal” porn before, but this was different: These girls looked like they weren’t a day over 13. The intimate webcam context lent an additional believability to it: It was easy to imagine someone convincing each of these seemingly underage girls via video chat to take off their clothes, all the while recording the action to later distribute far and wide or even to use as a bribe to get future “shows” out of them.
That is what so-called “cappers” do — and they are what brought me to the jailbait message board in the first place, and ultimately to the FBI. They screen-capture live webcam chats — which can involve anywhere from two to several hundred people — while pressuring girls and young women to strip down. It starts with “show your stomach!” and quickly progresses from there like an online game of Truth or Dare. Sometimes all they get is a quick bra flash; other times they get a full-on “bate” (when a girl masturbates on camera). In the capper community, the latter would be called a “win.”
To be sure, some of the stars of these “caps” are simply of-age exhibitionists, but the most in-demand videos are of unsuspecting minors — those like Amanda Todd. The 15-year-old committed suicide last week after enduring years of bullying, online and off. In a YouTube video that has since gone viral, she shares the story of how years ago, while still in middle school, she went on webcam chats with her friends. She was met with flattery and attention and was asked to flash, and she did. A man screen-capped her big reveal and then used the image to bribe her to “put on a show.” When she refused, he sent the photo to her family and friends. On note cards held up to the camera, she explained: “I then got really sick and got anxiety, major depression and panic disorder.” The nine-minute clip goes on to explain how the bribery and harassment led to bullying at school, as well as multiple suicide attempts.
Last weekend, the hacktivist group Anonymous revealed the name of an alleged capper it claims is behind the harassment of Todd. Officials have denied the connection.
Continue reading at: http://www.salon.com/2012/10/21/amanda_todds_only_the_start/
By Amanda Hess
Posted Monday, Oct. 15, 2012
Last week, Gawker’s Adrian Chen revealed the real-life identity of one of social news site Reddit’s most notorious users. Online, the man known as Violentacrez has been active in such Reddit forums as “Chokeabitch,” “Misogyny,” “Incest,” and “Creepshots,” a subreddit that encouraged men to snap sexualized stalker photos of women in public, then share them online with creeps everywhere. IRL, Violentacrez is a 49-year-old computer programmer at a Texas financial services company named Michael Brutsch. His outing on Gawker has reopened a longstanding debate surrounding anonymity, freedom of expression, and harassment online. The big question: Is the Internet real life?
In the early days of online communities, anonymity was the norm. Users relished in crafting their new online personas, and becoming anyone they wanted to be. (When I surveyed various Internet personalities about their first online handles last year, those thrilling new identities included “Darius007” and “PrincipalRichardBelding.”) The rise of social media has devalued anonymity. Now, we compete to boost our real-life profiles in Google searches and amass more Twitter followers. And in some networks, like Facebook and Google+, real names aren’t just encouraged—they’re required.
Not so on Reddit, where the only community value more important than saying whatever you want is not saying who anyone else is. The special mix of anonymity and anything-goes speech encourages radical conversation on the most taboo of topics. And Reddit’s most devoted users sink a lot of their real-life hours into this corner of the Internet, where no one holds them personally accountable for what they write, and the rules of society do not apply. Oddly enough, that freedom of expression often just frees users to engage in the same bottom-feeding commentary you see offline, too—the harassment of gays, minority groups, and women. “Under Reddit logic, outing Violentacrez is worse than anonymously posting creepshots of innocent women, because doing so would undermine Reddit’s role as a safe place for people to anonymously post creepshots of innocent women,” Chen wrote. After Chen outed the troll, many subreddits banned all Gawker links.
Users like Violentacrez may defend their online domain as a “thought experiment” divorced from real life. But the truth is that though Reddit users can always create a new handle, they can’t really change who they are. When Chen sought out the “man behind the troll,” he found a guy just as depraved as his online persona—a middle-aged white man who admits to an attraction to underage girls, boasts about having oral sex with his 19-year-old stepdaughter, and apologizes for nothing. Online, his reach goes that much farther—he’s not only empowered to exert his control over members of his own family, but also to exploit any 14-year-old girl from around the world.
Yes, the Internet is real life. But the trolls are correct—the rules of society do not always apply here. Reporters like Chen can help bring the Internet’s worst offenders back to reality, where the “free speech” of harassment is less valued. Violentacrez was canned from his real-life job soon after Chen’s story broke. But holding anonymous users accountable is hard work. When trolls are exposed in real life, they can always slip into a new skin and continue the destruction online.
The HBS Trolls are bullies, pure and simple.
They use anonymity to keep from being punched back by people fed up with their bullying.
I have a troll name Jennifer Usher who devotes at least a third of her blog to trashing and abusing me. This troll is so spoiling for a fight, she challenges me to come to her blog and debate her.
Sorry Jennifer, I have better things to do than get down and dirty wrestling you in a pig pen filled with mud and shit.
Others hide themselves behind masks and aliases. Claiming they are “stealth” when real stealth has become nearly impossible for anyone who transitions later than about two years old. There are literally dozens if not hundreds of private data collecting services that know your entire life history. Not to mention governmental ones.
Others act as though being transsexual or transgender is something so shameful they are only able to speak the truth from behind a screen.
That doesn’t cut it either when one rarely if ever hears anyone who defends TS/TG people claiming the they have to hide behind a mask to do so.
One of the things I like most about Facebook is how having pictures and profiles as well as monitors civilizes the discourse.
Perhaps it is time for bloggers to crack down on the Troll Bullies and plonk them from commenting.
I have a string of names on moderation, and others who are permanently barred form posting to this blog.
I’ve modeled this blog after a newspaper, albeit a progressive underground paper from the 1960s. It has a point of view. My position is if you don’t like it start your own blog that reflects your point of view. Commenting here is a privilege not a right to come here and use my platform to spread your bigotry.
From The American Prospect: http://prospect.org/article/voting-while-trans
A man walks into a polling place. The rolls list him as female. Can he vote?
October 18, 2012
Here’s the thing I loved about talking with Mara Keisling this week: her flat-out declaration that transpeople are winning their civil rights and cultural acceptance battles. I’m crazily Tiggerish on lesbian and gay issues: we’ve come so far so unbelievably fast, over my lifetime, that some days I bounce with glee. But given that the trans part of the LGBT coalition got started about 15 years later and has had very different challenges, I was still an Eeyore about their efforts. So it made my day to hear Keisling, the National Center for Transgender Equality executive director, declare a coming victory. “Science is on our side, first of all,” she explained. “Common sense is on our side. Decency is on our side. When you get that combination, you win every time.”
But of course, winning is not the same as has won—which is why we were discussing the right to vote, and whether transpeople will be able to exercise it this year. Until NCTE launched its “Voting While Trans” initiative, it had never occurred to me that there’s no need to list voters as either male or female. The 19th amendment is nearly 100 years old; I’m pretty sure that I have a right to vote whether “E.J. Graff” is male or female. At the polls, the only info that matters is whether I’ve registered to vote and whether I live at the qualifying address. Why identify my sex? Would I get a different ballot?
But ID, Keisling was explaining to me, can be one of the central hardships for transpeople, whose presentation and legal identification may not match. “It’s absurd,” Keisling told me. “We still put gender markers on things that don’t need to have them. For instance, driver’s licenses. The nice policeman doesn’t pull you over and say, So you’re a man, you can go 82, but if you’re a woman you could only go 72.” When I said that, presumably, my driver’s license has my sex so the cop knows it’s really me, Keisling pointed out that most identifying data has disappeared from driver’s licenses since states started putting pictures on those little pieces of paper. So I went and checked. Sure enough, my Massachusetts driver’s license no longer has my height or weight–people lie about both, and what does it matter, really? Nor does it have my race or ethnicity, since that’s insultingly irrelevant, and often complicated. So why does it need to list my sex?
You thought you hated going to the DMV. Imagine doing it if your gender marker and your appearance don’t match–and you’re not going to be able to file for new documents any time soon, whether because of laws or finances or some other reason. As NCTE reports on its website:
Continue reading at: http://prospect.org/article/voting-while-trans
By Zack Ford
on Oct 18, 2012
Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota continues to serve as a shining example of what not to do to support LGBT students who are being bullied. For years, the district had some version of a “don’t say gay” or “neutrality” policy that prohibited teachers from affirming LGBT students — or interrupting the bullying they were suffering. After a Rolling Stone article profiled the school’s negative climate for the nation to see in February, the superintendent tried to claim that bullying had nothing to do with the spate of student suicides the district experienced, changing his tune just two weeks later.
In March, the Department of Justice completed its investigation, finding that Anoka-Hennepin had not properly protected its students from harassment. In fact, detailed narratives showcased the many ways administrators allowed it to persist. The DOJ required that the district implement a new model policy for supporting LGBT students and reducing bullying. The Parents Action League, a vile anti-LGBT hate group that seems to exist solely to reinforce stigma in the community, insisted that its rhetoric — including promotion of ex-gay therapy and references to AIDS as “GRID” (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency) — be included in the new policies moving forward. Now it seems they might just have that opportunity.
Truth Wins Out points out that Anoka-Hennepin has made some troubling choices in who it has appointed to its new anti-bullying task force, and who it has rejected. Tammy Aaberg, whose son Justin was one of the students who committed suicide and who has since dedicated her life to anti-bullying efforts, was rejected from the task force. So too was Jefferson Fietek, an anti-bullying trainer who serves as the faculty advisor for the local Gay-Straight Alliance. But the task force has appointed Parents Action League spokesman Bryan Lindquist, an anti-equality activist who has described homosexuality as a “lifestyle choice” and who was the primary proponent of promoting ex-gay therapy in the school.
According to right wing Christian assholes transkids do not have the right to an education free from bullying and abuse, an education in a school that respects these kids for who they are.
From The Windy City Media Group: http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Aurora-school-board-repeals-transgender-protections-UPDATE/40022.html
by Jason Carson Wilson
East Aurora School District 131 now has no procedures to help keep transgender students safe. On Oct. 15, District 131 school board members had passed a policy, that detailed how transgender students should be treated. They reversed themselves during an emergency meeting Oct. 19.
School attorney Bernie Weiler said it was an amendment to an anti-bullying policy that would have add specific procedures for “handling gender identity issues.” Weiler said the policy was rescinded in order to get state guidance.
Johnson apologized for the board’s actions, while defending its commitment to District 131 students.
“I sincerely apologize that we didn’t watch closer,” she said. “[But] public education has to address everyone’s needs.”
With that said, Johnson tried making everyone understand she could relate to their struggles.
“I was a tomboy,” she said. “I know how it goes.”
With board members Mary Anne Turza and Stella Gonzalez absent, Board President Annette Johnson and members Richard Leonard, Raymund Hall, Anita Lewis and Ignacio Cervantes voted unanimously to end the policy.
Concerned parent Susana Alfero was among those packing the Student Service Center. Alfero is the mother of 7-year-old, Kayla, who identifies as a transgender youth. Kayla wore a red baseball cap, red sweatshirt and jeans.
By DAVID E. ROSENBAUM
Published: October 21, 2012
George McGovern, the United States senator who won the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination in 1972 as an opponent of the war in Vietnam and a champion of liberal causes, and who was then trounced by President Richard M. Nixon in the general election, died early Sunday in Sioux Falls, S.D. He was 90.
His death was announced in a statement by his family. He had been moved to hospice care in recent days after being treated for several health problems in the last year. He had a home in Mitchell, S.D., where he had spent his formative years.
In a statement, President Obama called Mr. McGovern “a champion for peace” who was a “statesman of great conscience and conviction.”
To the liberal Democratic faithful, Mr. McGovern remained a standard-bearer well into his old age, writing and lecturing even as his name was routinely invoked by conservatives as synonymous with what they considered the failures of liberal politics.
He never retreated from those ideals, however, insisting on a strong, “progressive” federal government to protect the vulnerable and expand economic opportunity, while asserting that history would prove him correct in his opposing not only what he called “the tragically mistaken American war in Vietnam” but also the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.
on October 21, 2012
For the better part of his American century, George McGovern was America’s most prominent advocate for peace with the world and justice at home,a progressive internationalist and prairie populist—from the cold war era when he grabbed a South Dakota congressional seat from Dwight Eisenhower’s Republicans, to the Obama era when he prodded a young president from his own Democratic Party to bring the troops home from Afghanistan.
McGovern, who has died at the age of 90, was an uncommonly human and humane national figure. It was that aspect of the man that made his 1972 presidential campaign as the most progressive nominee ever selected by the Democratic Party less of a political endeavor than a popular crusade.
As with all crusades, the measure of defeat or victory comes not in the moment but on the arc of history that assesses the value of the vision and determines whether it will remain vibrant for generations to come.
McGovern had that perspective, impishly recalling the people who stopped him in airports and on the street after the man who won in 1972, Richard Nixon, resigned in the Watergate disgrace of 1974. They all said they had backed the Democrat two years earlier. “If they actually had,” McGovern joked, “I would have been the one with the landslide.”
McGovern mounted his 1972 run as established champion of liberal causes who had served in the House and Senate before he carried the banner of his friend Robert F. Kennedy’s candidacy into the traumatic 1968 Democratic National Convention. And McGovern followed his 1972 defeat with another forty years campaigning as the elder statesman of an American left for which his name became a touchstone—even as right-wingers made “McGovernism” the name for the politics they most feared.
Continue reading at: http://www.thenation.com/blog/170712/george-mcgovern-touchstone-liberalism#
From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/20/trade-unions-march-against-cuts
Marchers in London, Glasgow and Belfast are on their way home after a TUC-organised protests against government economic policy and spending cuts. Police estimated 100,000 marched through London to a rally in Hyde Park although the TUC said there were 130,000 participants.There were few reports of trouble although disabled protesters blocked Park Lane and supporters of UK Uncut threatened to take over Starbucks coffee shops.
One highlight of the day was the meeting of Ed Milliband and James Smith, the actor who plays Glenn Cullen in The Thick Of It. Smith compered the rally at Hyde Park but so far there have been no leeks about the content of their conversation.
Milliband was booed by some of the crowd when he said that a Labour government would have to continue a programme of austerity if they win the next election in order to reduce the budget deficit.
A theme of the march was the size of youth unemployment which is estimated at a round one million. One leader pointed out that the government spent more money on benefit payments than job creation.
A succession of union leaders castigated the government but a few hinted at the need to plan for a general strike as the next step in the protests against government cuts.
Continue reading at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/20/trade-unions-march-against-cuts
See also Raw Story: Tens of thousands rally in London against austerity
A Virginia official is busted for tossing voter forms. Turns out he works for the national party, too.
By Brad Friedman
October 20, 2012
A man originally reported to have been working for the Republican Party of Virginia was arrested by the Rockingham County, Va., Sheriff’s Office on Thursday and charged with attempting to destroy voter registration forms by tossing them into a dumpster behind a shopping center in Harrisonburg, Va.
“Prosecutors charged him with four counts of destruction of voter registration applications, eight counts of failing to disclose voter registration applications and one count of obstruction of justice,” according to a report late Thursday afternoon from TPM’s Ryan Reilly . More charges could be forthcoming, according to officials.
But there is more to the story, as evidence emerges to document that it ties into a still-expanding nationwide GOP Voter Registration Fraud Scandal that the BRAD BLOG first began reporting in late September , after we’d learned that the Republican Party of Florida had turned in more than 100 allegedly fraudulent and otherwise suspect voter registration forms in Palm Beach County. The story has continued to widen ever since, to a dozen Florida counties and several other states, now including Virginia, and even to the upper-echelons of the Republican Party itself.
The man arrested today was 23-year-old Colin Small of Phoenixville, Pa. As it turns out, he does not only work for the Virginia Republican Party. According to an online profile, he appears to be working for the Republican National Committee and, prior to that, served as an Intern for Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Joseph Tanfani at the Los Angeles Times is reporting that Small was “working as a supervisor as part of a registration operation in eight swing states financed by the Republican National Committee.”
From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/sunday-review/candidates-and-the-truth-about-america.html
By SCOTT SHANE
Published: October 19, 2012
IMAGINE a presidential candidate who spoke with blunt honesty about American problems, dwelling on measures by which the United States lags its economic peers.
What might this mythical candidate talk about on the stump? He might vow to turn around the dismal statistics on child poverty, declaring it an outrage that of the 35 most economically advanced countries, the United States ranks 34th, edging out only Romania. He might take on educational achievement, noting that this country comes in only 28th in the percentage of 4-year-olds enrolled in preschool, and at the other end of the scale, 14th in the percentage of 25-to-34-year-olds with a higher education. He might hammer on infant mortality, where the United States ranks worse than 48 other countries and territories, or point out that, contrary to fervent popular belief, the United States trails most of Europe, Australia and Canada in social mobility.
The candidate might try to stir up his audience by flipping a familiar campaign trope: America is indeed No. 1, he might declare — in locking its citizens up, with an incarceration rate far higher than that of the likes of Russia, Cuba, Iran or China; in obesity, easily outweighing second-place Mexico and with nearly 10 times the rate of Japan; in energy use per person, with double the consumption of prosperous Germany.
How far would this truth-telling candidate get? Nowhere fast. Such a candidate is, in fact, all but unimaginable in our political culture. Of their serious presidential candidates, and even of their presidents, Americans demand constant reassurance that their country, their achievements and their values are extraordinary.
Candidates and presidents generally oblige them, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney included. It is permissible, in the political major leagues, for candidates to talk about big national problems — but only if they promise solutions in the next sentence: Unemployment is too high, so I will create millions of jobs. It is impermissible to dwell on chronic, painful problems, or on statistics that challenge the notion that the United States leads the world — a point made memorably in a tirade by the dyspeptic anchorman played by Jeff Daniels in the HBO drama “The Newsroom.”
From In These Times: http://inthesetimes.com/article/13986/rich_deserts/
Our new cult of money ensures that breeding shall evermore speak to breeding.
BY Chris Lehmann
October 20, 2012
On the first anniversary of the Occupy Wall Street protests, Americans got a pointed reminder of the country’s steady drift into plutocratic rule: Mother Jones magazine released the now-infamous video of GOP nominee Mitt Romney speaking at a Florida fundraiser. In his remarks—inconveniently delivered at the Boca Raton estate of hedge-fund manager Marc Leder, renowned for hosting raucous summer sex parties in the Hamptons— Romney dismissed half the country as professional “victims” so disfigured by their dependence on government that “I’ll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”
Of course it’s just not true that 47 percent of the nation’s population are indolent moochers who vote for Democrats as a unified bloc the same way that baby robins sing in unison at feeding time. But never mind. Romney is dealing not in policy prescriptions, but in social mythology narrowcasted to flatter his audience at the $50,000-a-plate event—to garland the fanciful notion that the biggest winners in today’s capitalist marketplace are also the possessors of the greatest swaths of plain human virtue.
But the real scandal is not what Mitt Romney professes to believe, but that this counterempirical canard is now the standard mantra of our commentariat. Consider one entirely representative specimen that appeared around the same time that Romney’s oligarchical bantering became public: Nina Easton, the Washington senior editor for Fortune, composed the September cover story “Is It Still OK to Be Rich in America?” Easton excitedly notes that the United States is not, strictly speaking, a hereditary aristocracy. “Most of the 1.4 million taxpayers who make up the top 1% gained their wealth through their own efforts rather than by inheritance,” she burbled, even though precisely no one within OWS was suggesting that the 1% was a class of coddled scions. And Easton duly intones the pet shibboleths of the overclass’s pet virtue-mongers: Wealth ultimately flows from the mystical provinces of education and culture—two realms that government can’t effectively control and that, by sheer coincidence, are taken to be the spontaneously won endowments of the model new rich in today’s America. “During the post-World War II decades, a period of extraordinary income equality that economists label the Great Compression, Americans had a relatively common and unifying set of incentives and values,” Easton primly marvels. She omits to mention that at the height of postwar prosperity, Americans enjoyed historic rates of union membership and enacted upper-bracket marginal tax rates of 90 percent.
Complete article at: http://inthesetimes.com/article/13986/rich_deserts/
By Gerry Bello and Bob Fitrakis
Sunday, 21 October 2012
As previously reported in by the Columbus Free Press, the Romney family, namely Mitt, Ann, G Scott and Tagg Romney, along with Mitt’s “6th son” and campaign finance chair have a secretive private equity firm called Solamere Capital Partners.This firms ties to Romney’s campaign and bundlers is already well documented, along with its connection to the manufacture and distribution of voting machines. What is not as well documented is a subsidiary of that private equity firm hiring employees of a failed firm tied to a Ponzi scheme that has a long history of money laundering for Latin American drug cartels and to the Iran-Contra scandal.
As reported by ThinkProgress, Solamere Capital Partner’s subsidiary Solamere Advisors is a investment advisory group, providing advice to Solamere clients and boosting sales. Would-be corporate pugilist Tagg Romney is a director. According to the New York Times, all but one of its 11 employees came from the Charlotte office of the Stanford Financial Group, the US investment arm of convicted felon R. Allen Stanford’s offshore banking and fraud network that comprised a host of companies including the Stanford International Bank, Stanford Capital Management, The Bank of Antigua, Stanford Trust and Stanford Gold and Bullion. Three of these employees, Tim Bambauer, Deems May, and Brandon Phillips, received incentive compensation related to their direct sales of securities linked to a fraud that brought down this banking network.
Tim Bambauer has left his position as managing partner at Solamere Advisors. May and Phillips remain employed as partner and chief compliance officer respectively.
Allen Stanford is currently serving a 110-year prison sentence for convictions on 13 counts of fraud. His companies were placed in receivership. $8 billion of Stanford’s stolen money has yet to be recovered and the victims are in court to recover those funds and incentive pay bonuses to Stanford employees (including Bambauer, May and Phillips) for fraudulently getting people to invest in an operation that later bilked many of them out of their life’s savings.
Stanford’s shady history and criminality did not begin with the fraudulent investments that lead to his downfall, nor was it unknown at the highest level of United State’s Government. In a 2006 diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, the US Ambassador to Antigua advised “Embassy officers do not reach out to Stanford because of the allegations of bribery and money laundering. The Ambassador managed to stay out of any one-on-one photos with Stanford during the breakfast. For his part, Stanford said he preferred to conduct his business without contacting the Embassy, resolving any investment disputes directly with local governments. It is whispered in the region that Stanford facilitates resolution with significant cash contributions.”