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Chinese internet censorship machine revealed
Topic: Society 3:05 pm EDT, Oct 12, 2007

The Chinese government has instituted an elaborate system for Internet censorship that employs tens of thousands of censors and police responsible for maintaining control over the flow of information, a report released by international free press advocates showed.

Despite self-censorship and the filtering of government-banned words or phrases from articles, sites do occasionally broach subjects inadvertently. Penalties for such mistakes range from criticizing the site, imposing a fine, ordering the dismissal of the employee responsible, or closing down the site section or the entire site, the report said.

Chinese internet censorship machine revealed

Gay Rights Backers Split on Bias Bill
Topic: Society 2:25 pm EDT, Oct 12, 2007

Associated Press Writer
AP - Friday, October 12

WASHINGTON - Rep. Barney Frank, a leading gay rights champion in Congress, on Thursday urged fellow gay rights advocates not to let their dispute over protecting transgender workers doom a job discrimination ban that could mark a major civil rights advance for gays in the workplace.

The debate over including transgender people has sharply divided gay rights activists, many of whom are trying to kill a stripped-down bill without protections for transgender workers that Frank and Democratic leaders hope will win House passage this year.

"We're not going to be split off this way," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "We're driven by principle. No civil rights movement has ever left a part of its community behind - and we're not about to be the first."

Frank, D-Mass., one of two openly gay members of Congress, supports transgender protections, but said they don't have the votes.

"Politically, the notion that you don't do anything until you can do everything is self-defeating," he said.

Frank said the public has more awareness because gay activists began educating people about the unfairness of prejudice based on sexual orientation a long time ago.

"These things take awhile," Frank said. "The transgender issue is of relatively recent vintage."

Legislation banning workplace discrimination against gays, lesbians and bisexuals _ but not those who have had sex-change surgery or cross-dressers _ has stalled after an outcry from the transgender community and its allies, including many gay rights organizations.

"Transgender" is an umbrella term that covers transsexuals, cross-dressers and others whose outward appearance doesn't match their gender at birth.

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act would make it illegal for employers to make decisions about hiring, firing, promoting or paying an employee based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Churches and the military would be exempt.

But when Democrats took vote counts and realized the measure would fail, they substituted a new scaled-back version dropping transgender people from the bill. A second bill to ban workplace discrimination against transgenders was also drafted.

Gay rights groups that oppose a ban that leaves out transgender people have waged an aggressive lobbying campaign.

"Fighting your friends can sometimes be difficult," said Frank.

Foreman agreed.

"I never thought in a million years we would be on the opposite side of Barney Frank and it is painful," he said.

Federal law bans job discrimination based on factors such as race, gender and religion. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have laws against sexual orientation discrimination.

However, only nine states specifically protect transgender people from discrimination: New Jersey, Minnesota, Rhod... [ Read More (0.4k in body) ]

Gay Rights Backers Split on Bias Bill

Lake of Fire - New documentary takes unflinching look at abortion in US
Topic: Society 10:24 am EDT, Oct 11, 2007

"From the moment I started making the film I thought I have to show an abortion, which at the time had never been done before," Kaye, best known for his 1998 neo-Nazi feature "American History X," told AFP in an interview. "There was no question about whether or not that was the right thing to do because if I'm documenting two sides of the argument, that is one side of the argument and you have to show it," he said.

Even after spending years working on the project, Kaye, however, admits to not knowing where he stands in the debate. "My position on the subject is that I don't really know what's right. I didn't know much in the beginning... and at the end I was just as confused."

Lake of Fire - New documentary takes unflinching look at abortion in US

Exploding New York City Councilman Refuses To Get 'Punked'
Topic: Society 4:01 pm EDT, Oct 10, 2007

Here's the YouTube video (language not safe for work).

NEW YORK — New York City Councilman James Oddo may have had a meltdown during his first experience with gotcha satire media, but he wasn’t about to go down without a fight.

Dropping the “f-word” no fewer than 16 times in the course of what has become a popular You Tube video, Republican Oddo became irate when he realized the attractive, seemingly harmless young reporter who sat before him last week for an interview in his office was really a comedienne of note for the Norwegian program "Rickets Rost," a sort of Scandinavian "Daily Show w/Jon Stewart."

The video, which garnered more than 44,174 hits on YouTube as of midday Wednesday, shows Oddo exploding at reporter Pia Haraldsen, 26, after she asked whether Obama could legally run for office because he is African American, and about Hillary’s “cigar,” an obvious reference to President Bill Clinton’s scandal-ridden affair with intern Monica Lewinsky.

He blasted the woman, telling her repeatedly to “get the f—ck out of my office,” at one time telling her he would beat “the sh—t” out of them if she and her camera crew didn’t get out fast enough.

Oddo, who is up for borough president as a representative of both Staten Island in 2009, was unapologetic in a follow-up interview with FOX News.

Anyone who thinks they are going to come in and waste time while mocking him and other American leaders like the Clintons, while implicitly saying “America is a racist nation ... I’m going to throw you out of my office,” Oddo said. He apparently did apologize to his mother for the curse words.

The city councilman was somewhat more introspective in a NY1 cable news television interview.

“My language was inappropriate, I'm apologetic for it, I regret it,” said Oddo. “I don't regret the sentiment. In fact, I think that people across the country will see that I reacted the same way any Staten Islander walking down Hylan Boulevard would have reacted.”

Meanwhile, according to the Staten Island Advance on Wednesday, Oddo is not, so far, feeling the heat from thwarting a successful satire, or being "punked" — a format made popular by The Daily Show, and Sacha Baron Cohen’s Borat and Da Ali G Show, where interviewees believe they are engaging in sincere and legitimate interviews and typically are made to look foolish.

"It could be hurtful in that everyone expects their representatives to be civil. However, it is tough to be civil when you’re being set up,” New York Democratic consultant and lobbyist George Artz told the newspaper. “This is such a miniscule issue. It won’t affect anybody, and he was scammed.”

Others have suggested the video celebrity will boost his image with no-nonsense New Yorkers.

For her part, Haraldsen, 26, seemed unruffled and even jazzed by the interview and the media attention she was getting for it.

When asked by FOX News in an on-air phone interview on Wednesday, the “reporter” said she was used to angry responses, and in the case of Oddo thought it was an attractive character trait.

“I think Mr. Oddo’s reaction was quite normal and I’ve always been fond of men with a temperament,” the heavily-accented Haraldsen said, adding that she wouldn’t mind having Oddo as a “rumba and salsa” partner on "Dancing with the Stars," a reference that indicates she is perhaps more of an American celebrity-seeker than an Ali G protégé.

Exploding New York City Councilman Refuses To Get 'Punked'

Review: Is Powerful, Free, and Kind of Dull
Topic: Technology 4:58 pm EDT, Oct  8, 2007

Nothing special here... it's just nice to see an article about Open Office posted on a mainstream news website.

Review: Is Powerful, Free, and Kind of Dull

Vishy Anand is the new World Chess Champion
Topic: Games 9:38 pm EDT, Sep 29, 2007

GM Vishwanathan Anand is the new world Chess Champion of 2007, after drawing with Peter Leko, in the 14th and last round of the World Chess Championship in Mexico, 2007.

In the press conference, the new champion mentioned "You can imagine how I feel. I won a big tournament last year and this is something very special for me. I want to thank all my friends that helped me a lot. I want to thank my wife that has done everything to keep me in a good shape for competing. I also want to thank my trainer. And most of all I want to thank Mexico for its hospitality, not in so many places you can find as many chess fans as here. I always feel great in Mexico. At this moment, I can recall Mr. Saggiante's words that this would be an unforgettable championship."

On the other hand, the Hungarian Peter Leko congratulated Anand, the new champion for his triumph. "I congratulate him because he deserves it. The organization was excellent, and as far as I can tell, I will keep on fighting for the title."

Vishwanathan Anand was born in Madras, India, on December 11, 1969; he obtained the GM title at 16 years of age. In 1987 he was the World Juvenile Champion in Philippines. In the year 2000, he won for the first time the World Title, and according to the contract he signed with FIDE in the beginning of next year he will have to renew his title playing against the last champion Vladimir Kramnik.

I cleaned up the English a bit.

Vishy Anand is the new World Chess Champion

Halfway Through The World Chess Championship
Topic: Games 6:32 pm EDT, Sep 20, 2007

Round 7: Thursday, Sept. 20th 2007, 14:00h
Peter Svidler ½ - ½ Levon Aronian
Vladimir Kramnik (in progess) Boris Gelfand
Alexander Morozevich (in progress) Peter Leko
Viswanathan Anand (in progress) Alexander Grischuk

At the time of this posting, three games are still being played in the seventh of fourteen rounds (click on "Live Games" under the crosstable). Of today's four games, three of them began 1.e4 e5 (one Scotch and two Ruy Lopez), so I'm enjoying that! Of course, Kramnik played a boring Queen's Gambit. Anand and Gelfand are currently tied for first. Leko has his work cut out for him, but I'm still optimistic.

Halfway Through The World Chess Championship

Surgeons to Try to Remove 26 Sewing Needles from Woman
Topic: Society 11:26 am EDT, Sep 12, 2007

Friday, September 07, 2007

BEIJING (AFP) - Doctors have discovered 26 needles embedded in the body of a woman in China, believed to have been inserted not long after she was born by grandparents upset she was not a boy, state media said Friday.

The sewing needles were found in an X-ray after the 29-year-old, Luo Cuifen, went to a hospital in Yunnan province complaining of blood in her urine, the Beijing Morning Post reported.

Doctors plan to operate to remove as many of the needles as they can, it said, but face "great difficulties" as the images show several had penetrated vital organs including her lungs, liver, bladder, small intestine and kidneys.

She also had needles in her head, neck, and shoulder -- some of which are dangerously close to major arteries -- and one in her brain that has broken into three pieces, the paper said.

"Her grandmother and grandfather are suspected of doing it because they had wanted a boy, but as they are dead now there is no evidence," the paper said.

Luo, who comes from a poor farming community, said two needles were removed by doctors when she was a child, the paper said. But she has had no health problems until recently giving birth.

Due to the difficulty in removing the remaining needles, the unnamed hospital is organising a 16-member team of doctors, including some from as far away as Canada, for consultations ahead of an operation expected next week.

"Taking out the needles will be like dredging for needles in the ocean," the paper quoted one doctor as saying.

"But if we don't operate, her life could be in jeopardy."

Under China's "one child" family planning policy, the traditional preference for boys remains strong in the vast and poor rural countryside, and reports of aborted female foetuses and infanticide remain common.

I'm trying to imagine grandparents (or anyone else) shoving needles into a baby, in hopes that she'll die, so that her parents can try again for a son. I certainly understand just how strong some cultural pressures can be on individuals, but it still amazes me that some persons are capable of doing such horrible things to others.

Surgeons to Try to Remove 26 Sewing Needles from Woman

PhreakNIC 11 Volunteers
Topic: Miscellaneous 4:57 pm EDT, Sep 11, 2007

I'm sure everyone is aware that PN0x0b is coming up on October 19, but I wanted to remind everyone who plans on volunteering to please sign up ASAP using this form. I'm the Volunteer Director this year, so please let me know if you have any questions. We need help with Registration and Hospitality.

To address one question I received... Speakers are also welcome to volunteer, but if all you'll be doing is speaking (which is a lot, and very much appreciated), then you don't need to use the volunteer form. Dolemite is handling the presentations. If you're going to speak and volunteer, please use the form.


PhreakNIC 11 Volunteers

New 'Tron' Races On: Kosinski Will Program Disney Sequel
Topic: Arts 4:00 pm EDT, Sep 11, 2007

TORONTO -- Commercial director Joseph Kosinski is in final negotiations to develop and direct "Tron," described as "the next chapter" of Disney's 1982 cult classic. Sean Bailey is producing via the Live Planet banner, as is Steven Lisberger, who co-wrote and directed the original film.

Kosinski, who last month signed on to helm the remake of "Logan's Run" for Warner Bros. Pictures, will oversee the visual development of the project and have input on the script, which is being written by "Lost" scribes Eddie Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. Story details are being kept secret.

Are these sequels and remakes really necessary?

New 'Tron' Races On: Kosinski Will Program Disney Sequel

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