Europe against GMO crops! Please, sign the Avaaz petition!
I already did. It's us who decide, not Monsanto!!!

Piracy or privacy, 2010

They say Internet piracy threatens to rob the industry with up to €240 billion in the next 5 years. Believe it or not. I don't. I thought nobody believed that study since it was done from the Industry for the Industry (in France!). However, it turns out that they not only believe it, they spread the word about it. Today in the news they showed a French official who signed a memorandum with Bulgaria against internet piracy! Our populist prime minister promised to consider new laws against piracy. And the worst is that he believed it!

Why it's so absurd to claim such losses. Because you cannot count stuff that people consume for free like stuff that they would buy if they couldn't get them for free. I would never buy most of the stuff I download. Would I suffer? Not at all. Most of the things are complete shit. When I like a movie, we go to a cinema. And I'm sure most people are just like me. And what's even more, the heaviest downloaders are kids. When you grow up, you stop having time to watch 10 movies a day or to play for hours and hours. You just don't have the time. So if a kid wants to play an expensive game and his/her parents don't have money what happens? Absolutely nothing! There's NO game. And that's it. So how exactly the industry manage to lose all that money is a mystery for me. Maybe they imagine they will take them from guilty verdicts and huge fines. If you fine 1000 people with $300 000 for few (or even if many) downloaded songs, then sure, you could eventually reach those $240 billions. But interestingly, after you make millions of the most addicted to the production of the industry people broke, who exactly is going to buy whatever you produce anymore.
You think I'm overreacting?The police broke into the house of a person I know, because his SON downloaded something. Can you even believe it? That son, who was probably 10, or 11 years old at the time. It was both ridiculous and absurd. But it happens. So when people like me worry about freedom of access to internet and human rights against the rights of the industry, maybe you should think about those stories. Stories of people fined to pay HUGE amounts of moneys or children arrested like criminals. Because they downloaded a game!
And yeah, notice the royalty an author gets for a book. And those people blame us for starving the creators? It's not our fault, it's the fault of the publishers. They are the ones that starve the artists of all kinds. I know people who write the best books ever (or almost ever), books that don't have an e-book variant. And those writers barely manage to make a living. Is this normal? No. It's not. So don't blame us!
And ultimately, think about freedom. It's not freedom to rob people from their lawful earnings. But it is not freedom to be punished beyond any possible scale. Because those billions, they are not lost because of us, the internet users. They are lost because of the absolute inability of publishers to adapt to the new situation and the new time and to learn how to earn from their products. And that's certainly possible!

  1. Study: Internet piracy taking big toll on jobs
  2. British Online Copyright Laws Draw Debates
  3. Math of Publishing Meets the E-Book
  4. Federal Judge Finds N.S.A. Wiretaps Were Illegal

Study: Internet piracy taking big toll on jobs

18 March 2010
Over a million jobs and up to €240 billion in business could be lost in the European Union over the next five years as a result of illegal downloading, according to a new study into Internet piracy.

The study, by Paris-based TERA Consultants for the International Chamber of Commerce, focused on piracy in Europe's music, film, television and software industries.

Those industries generated €860 billion and employed 14.4 million people in 2008. But in the same year, €10 billion and 186,000 jobs were lost to piracy, the study found.

If that trend continues – and the rapid increase in illegal downloads and advancing piracy techniques suggest it will – then up to 1.2 million jobs and €240 billion worth of European commerce could be wiped out by 2015.

The bulk of illegal downloading targets music, television and video sites, with consumers using 'peer-to-peer' formats to download songs and video clips onto their laptops and home computers from websites without paying a fee.

In that respect it has a disproportionate impact on the creative industries, with musicians, actors and artists standing to lose the most from unfettered downloading, experts say.

Haaland, whose group supported the study, said one of the best ways to reverse the situation would be stricter EU legislation to enforce existing laws against piracy. sourcMarch 4, 2010, 1:40 pm

British Online Copyright Laws Draw Debates

An article published on Thursday in, The Guardian, discusses a debate taking place in the British Parliament around a new “digital economy bill.”

One amendment in particular is stirring a lot of discussion about its impact on content online. The Guardian writes:

The new proposal – which was passed in the House of Lords by 165 votes to 140 – gives a high court judge the right to issue an injunction against a Web site accused of hosting a “substantial” amount of copyright infringing material, potentially forcing the entire site offline.

Critics say the major problem with this amendment is that a judge could shut down a Web site because of copyright infringement, even if the site’s manager didn’t put the content online.

What is left unanswered is how a company can be held accountable for every piece of content placed on its site. Many critics of this bill and others in Europe say it is most likely to result in the stifling of creativity, innovation and free speech. In the United States, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act offers some protection against liability to Internet service providers and Web sites that host copyrighted material uploaded by third parties.

There are similar tensions over Internet content and privacy elsewhere in Europe. Last week the Italian court held three of Google’s top executives accountable for a defamatory video placed on YouTube by teenagers. And the French parliament approved a recent bill that will crack down on Internet piracy by banning people from the Web if they are caught downloading copyrighted content more than three times. source

Math of Publishing Meets the E-Book

Publishers largely agree, which is why in negotiations with Apple, five of the six largest publishers of trade books have said they would price most digital editions of new fiction and nonfiction books from $12.99 to $14.99 on the forthcoming iPad tablet — significantly lower than the average $26 price for a hardcover book.

On a typical hardcover, the publisher sets a suggested retail price. Let’s say it is $26. The bookseller will generally pay the publisher $13. Out of that gross revenue, the publisher pays about $3.25 to print, store and ship the book, including unsold copies returned to the publisher by booksellers.

For cover design, typesetting and copy-editing, the publisher pays about 80 cents. Marketing costs average around $1 but may go higher or lower depending on the title. Most of these costs will deline on a per-unit basis as a book sells more copies.

Let’s not forget the author, who is generally paid a 15 percent royalty on the hardcover price, which on a $26 book works out to $3.90.

Without accounting for such write-offs, the publisher is left with $4.05, out of which it must pay overhead for editors, cover art designers, office space and electricity before taking a profit.

Now let’s look at an e-book. Under the agreements with Apple, the publishers will set the consumer price and the retailer will act as an agent, earning a 30 percent commission on each sale. So on a $12.99 e-book, the publisher takes in $9.09. Out of that gross revenue, the publisher pays about 50 cents to convert the text to a digital file, typeset it in digital form and copy-edit it. Marketing is about 78 cents.

The author’s royalty — a subject of fierce debate between literary agents and publishing executives — is calculated among some of the large trade publishers as 25 percent of the gross revenue, while others are calculating it off the consumer price. So on a $12.99 e-book, the royalty could be anywhere from $2.27 to $3.25.

All that leaves the publisher with something ranging from $4.56 to $5.54, before paying overhead costs or writing off unearned advances.

Another reason publishers want to avoid lower e-book prices is that print booksellers like Barnes & Noble, Borders and independents across the country would be unable to compete. . source

3:51am UK, Tuesday March 09, 2010

Matt Smith, entertaiment correspondent

Rock giants Pink Floyd are starting a legal battle in the High Court later today over claims they have not been paid enough royalties.

The band behind Dark Side Of The Moon, one of the biggest selling albums ever, have filed a case against their record company EMI.

They claim that the amount they get in royalties was miscalculated.

Pink Floyd signed with EMI in 1967 and have been one of the company's most profitable acts.

In the last 25 years, sales of their back catalogue have only been bettered by the Beatles. source

Federal Judge Finds N.S.A. Wiretaps Were Illegal

WASHINGTON — A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the National Security Agency’s program of surveillance without warrants was illegal, rejecting the Obama administration’s effort to keep shrouded in secrecy one of the most disputed counterterrorism policies of former President George W. Bush.

In a 45-page opinion, Judge Vaughn R. Walker ruled that the government had violated a 1978 federal statute requiring court approval for domestic surveillance when it intercepted phone calls of Al Haramain, a now-defunct Islamic charity in Oregon, and of two lawyers representing it in 2004. Declaring that the plaintiffs had been “subjected to unlawful surveillance,” the judge said the government was liable to pay them damages.

The ruling delivered a blow to the Bush administration’s claims that its surveillance program, which Mr. Bush secretly authorized shortly after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was lawful. Under the program, the National Security Agency monitored Americans’ international e-mail messages and phone calls without court approval, even though the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, required warrants.

The Justice Department said it was reviewing the decision and had made no decision about whether to appeal.

The ruling by Judge Walker. source

I get the feeling that there is a battle going on, a battle that very few of us know. And this is the battle for personal freedom. If you think about it, Internet and its anonymity is the best thing that ever happened to us. You can say what you really think without fearing retribution. You can be free to be what you really are, without the always reproaching eyes of the "society". You are free to pursue whatever dream you have and become whoever you wish - good or bad, polite or cruel. You're an actor who creates a new personality whenever s/he likes. It's freedom, actually.

It's the freedom we're all born with, but they always try to deny it to us. They create schools, jobs, marriages, institutions - they try to tell you that there's only one person you can be and that person usually is not very fun and free and good, in most cases, something mediocre. But that's not really you! That's only the image they want you to believe in.

You are an immortal being that is born free to be whatever and whoever wants to be. You are not your name, you're not your family or your education or your job. You're free to have an opinion no matter what you work or who you know. Then why should opinions be labeled with names. What's the problem - that when you don't have a label, you don't know how to weigh it easily? Well, don't! It's an opinion, it says what it wants to say! It's a compete statement and you have to take it for what it is. If I wanted my opinions to be weighed by my name, I would have put it in my profile. I'm not ashamed of what I write. People I work with know that this is my blog. However, ever since I made this information public, I have to always keep in my mind who's going to read it and if I say something I will always will to defend. It's very annoying situation. I never write offensive or rude posts, I never defend causes I don't believe in. However, I still have to be caution. Well, can someone tell me why? Why should I measure each and every word, when I'm not doing anything wrong? Is this the way the society should function - always between the fear and will to be free. And all that "weighing the comments" thing - are they trying to create internet hierarchy? Internet was the only place where the money and the look didn't really matter and now they are trying to take it away from us?! Who said our society needs hierarchy, who said it needs constant intimidation and control?

I don't want such society. Our society should be free, should be good, should always provoke the best withing people. And the fact is that current society doesn't do that. The only place people could be free, was Internet. Now, they're trying to take away this from us! Isn't this a battle worth to fight for?

Note, my post is mainly inspired by the last news, that medias consider banning anonymous comments. And also by the story how one of the journals made public the email and identity of a user who was rude against a lawyer. Should this happen? Isn't there a clause in the contracts people agree when signing in, saying that their email is to remain PRIVATE! Being rude is not illegal, but breaking the conditions of a contract is!

Anyway, I do believe the access to Internet is a fundamental human right. I do believe that we have to protect that right and fight to keep our anonymity. It's not about illegal downloading, I mean how much time the regular person has available to download AND watch/listen/play what s/he has downloaded (if that user isn't a kid)? I don't know about you, but I hardly find the time to watch 2 movies a week, one of which is a serial which is free to watch on the TV, anyway. I don't know how those immense losses accumulate, but this I will leave for the second part of this post. For now, all I can say is that anonymity in Internet makes statistically little damage, while it has great benefits for humans psychology. Then why should we give it up? I don't think we should. I think we should fight for it and now is the time. Make up your minds and take an action.

We have to protect that right if we want to see an evolution of our society towards something good. Because we know the other possibility! We see it around us - depressed people who find it so hard to admit what and who they are, they prefer to be black mailed than to say the truth. Well, is this what we want? I think not. People should be free and internet is a part of that freedom. They try to limit it, they try to control it, but it's us who decide. Because internet is not a product someone sells us! Internet is a connection between 2 or more computers sharing a cable and using certain protocol. If you want to, you can make an Internet of your own. There are already a lot of such projects. Internet is US and we decide what it will be. And I say, make it good. Make it free.

  1. Global treaty may make your ISP spy on you
  2. Internet access is 'a fundamental right'
  3. When American and European Ideas of Privacy Collide
  4. News Sites Rethink Anonymous Online Comments

Global treaty may make your ISP spy on you

Paul Marks, technology correspondent

Documents from talks on a secret global copyright deal have leaked online, various sources are reporting. The documents discussed are said to confirm that internet service providers could be compelled to constantly sift through their customers' data looking for copyright transgressions. The European Union's data protection chief has said that such requirements could curtail individuals' civil liberties.

It's the latest twist in the tale of ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which has been swiftly and secretly negotiated by the 27 nations of the European Union, the US, Australia, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, South Korea, Singapore, Jordan, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.

The leak, detailed by PC World magazine, covers ACTA's "enforcement procedures in the digital environment". The draft being circulated says that ISPs operating in nations that have signed up to ACTA would be forced to operate "automatic technical processes" to detect copyright-infringing activities.

Translated, that means they must examine data transferred by their customers for signs of copyrighted material, using the kind of deep packet inspection technology more typical of security services.

ISPs told New Scientist in December that such technology will not only slow downloads, but puts in place technology that could be used for snooping and censorship. source

Internet access is 'a fundamental right'

Almost four in five people around the world believe that access to the internet is a fundamental right, a poll for the BBC World Service suggests.

The survey - of more than 27,000 adults across 26 countries - found strong support for net access on both sides of the digital divide.

Countries such as Finland and Estonia have already ruled that access is a human right for their citizens.

International bodies such as the UN are also pushing for universal net access.

"The right to communicate cannot be ignored," Dr Hamadoun Toure, secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), told BBC News.

He said that governments must "regard the internet as basic infrastructure - just like roads, waste and water".

The survey, conducted by GlobeScan for the BBC, also revealed divisions on the question of government oversight of some aspects of the net.

Web users questioned in South Korea and Nigeria felt strongly that governments should never be involved in regulation of the internet. However, a majority of those in China and the many European countries disagreed.

Recently, the EU adopted an internet freedom provision, stating that any measures taken by member states that may affect citizen's access to or use of the internet "must respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of citizens".

In particular, it states that EU citizens are entitled to a "fair and impartial procedure" before any measures can be taken to limit their net access.

The EU is also committed to providing universal access to broadband.

The BBC survey found that 87% of internet users felt internet access should be the "fundamental right of all people".

Most of those questioned also said that they believed the web had a positive impact, with nearly four in five saying it had brought them greater freedom.

A majority of users in Japan, South Korea and Germany felt that they could not express their opinions safely online, although in Nigeria, India and Ghana there was much more confidence about speaking out. source

When American and European Ideas of Privacy Collide

... Fred H. Cate, a law professor at Indiana University was talking about last week’s ruling from an Italian court that Google executives had violated Italian privacy law by allowing users to post a video on one of its services.

In one sense, the ruling was a nice discussion starter about how much responsibility to place on services like Google for offensive content that they passively distribute.

But in a deeper sense, it called attention to the profound European commitment to privacy, one that threatens the American conception of free expression and could restrict the flow of information on the Internet to everyone.

“Americans to this day don’t fully appreciate how Europeans regard privacy,” said Jane Kirtley, who teaches media ethics and law at the University of Minnesota. “The reality is that they consider privacy a fundamental human right.”

Google understands.

“The framework in Europe is of privacy as a human-dignity right,” said Nicole Wong, a lawyer with the company. “As enforced in the U.S., it’s a consumer-protection right.”

But Ms. Wong said Google’s policies on invasion of privacy, like its policies on hate speech, pornography and extreme violence, were best applied uniformly around the world. Trying to meet all the differing local standards “will make you tear your hair out and be paralyzed.”

The three Google executives were sentenced to six months in prison for failing to block a video showing an autistic boy being bullied by other students. The video was on line for two months in 2006, and was promptly removed after Google received a formal complaint. The prison sentences were suspended.

Still, Judge Oscar Magi’s ruling, in effect, balanced privacy against free speech and ruled in favor of the former. And given the borderless quality of the Internet, that balance has the potential to affect nations that prefer to tilt toward the values protected by the First Amendment.

The differing conceptions can have profound consequences. “Europeans are likely to privilege privacy protection over both economic efficiency and speech,” Susan P. Crawford, who teaches Internet law at the University of Michigan, wrote in an e-mail message. “They’re willing to risk huge economic losses and erect trade barriers in order to protect privacy.” source

February 23, 2010 11:46 AM

News Sites Rethink Anonymous Online Comments

When news sites, after years of hanging back, embraced the idea of allowing readers to post comments, the near-universal assumption was that anyone could weigh in and remain anonymous. But now, that idea is under attack from several directions, and journalists, more than ever, are questioning whether anonymity should be a given on news sites.

The Washington Post plans to revise its comments policy over the next several months, and one of the ideas under consideration is to give greater prominence to commenters using real names.

The New York Times, The Post and many other papers have moved in stages toward requiring that people register before posting comments, providing some information about themselves that is not shown onscreen.

The Huffington Post soon will announce changes, including ranking commenters based in part on how well other readers know and trust their writing.

The Plain Dealer of Cleveland recently discovered that anonymous comments on its site, disparaging a local lawyer, were made using the e-mail address of a judge who was presiding over some of that lawyer’s cases.

That kind of proxy has been documented before; what was more unusual was that The Plain Dealer exposed the connection in an article. The judge, Shirley Strickland Saffold, denied sending the messages — her daughter took responsibility for some of them. And last week, the judge sued The Plain Dealer, claiming it had violated her privacy.

The paper acknowledged that it had broken with the tradition of allowing commenters to hide behind screen names, but it served notice that anonymity was a habit, not a guarantee. Susan Goldberg, The Plain Dealer’s editor, declined to comment for this article. But in an interview she gave to her own newspaper, she said that perhaps the paper should not have investigated the identity of the person who posted the comments, “but once we did, I don’t know how you can pretend you don’t know that information.”

Some prominent journalists weighed in on the episode, calling it evidence that news sites should do away with anonymous comments.

No one doubts that there is a legitimate value in letting people express opinions that may get them in trouble at work, or may even offend their neighbors, without having to give their names, said William Grueskin, dean of academic affairs at Columbia’s journalism school.

“But a lot of comment boards turn into the equivalent of a barroom brawl, with most of the participants having blood-alcohol levels of 0.10 or higher,” he said. “People who might have something useful to say are less willing to participate in boards where the tomatoes are being thrown.”

He said news organizations were willing to reconsider anonymity in part because comment pages brought in little revenue; advertisers generally do not like to buy space next to opinions, especially incendiary ones.

The debate over anonymity is entwined with the question of giving more weight to comments from some readers than others, based in part on how highly other readers regard them.

A few news organizations, including The Times, have someone review every comment before it goes online, to weed out personal attacks and bigoted comments. Some sites and prominent bloggers, like Andrew Sullivan, simply do not allow comments.

Some news sites review comments after they are posted, but most say they do not have the resources to do routine policing. Many sites allow readers to flag objectionable comments for removal, and make some effort to block comments from people who have repeatedly violated the site’s standards. source

These days, in Bulgaria, it's all about Big Brother Family. A variety of the show Big Brother in which couples play together and win or lose together. Some of them enter with their children, most of them don't.

There is a major public unrest, because of the families the producers chose to show - obviously, not the ideal family. Men are aggressive, women are evil and petty. It's not the most positive show ever, it's actually quite nasty at times. The question, however, is what are we protesting against? In Bulgaria a lot of women are victims of domestic violence - some surveys say as much as every 3-d woman has been molested. That makes 1/3 of the female population. If we include the men who are also victims of physical or psychological violence, and the children, maybe 3/4 of the population can be considered victims of domestic violence. Or maybe 1/2, I don't know, maybe the aggressors should be that much less than the victims. But people are rarely that monogamous that they pretend to be.

What bothers me is that people are not disgusted by the mere fact that another people are being violated and humiliated. No, they are disgusted, because they see it. Because the TV don't show them beautiful idyllic landscapes and perfect families, but it reminds them of the nasty reality. And the reality is that most people I know, who are not my age, have been victims. Then why do we have to hide? Instead of trying to shut down the show, I think it's more important to consider carefully how to help our society, how to help all those people. Victims or villains, they need help. Very few people are happy to be bad, to hurt the others. Usually, they are also victims, but of their lack of control, of their misunderstood emotions and hidden fears. They need help. And if people really care, they will offer them that help.

Interestingly enough, domestic violence don't get enough publicity these days. It's like people prefer to think it doesn't exist. Well, it does exist on so many levels and countries. And its core, it is usually violence against women. I have NO idea why some men think it's ok to beat women, but what amazes me is that the governments usually prefer to close their eyes instead of take action.

To give you some food for thought, I paste here 3 articles. One of them is about violence against women in Israel - a country that manifest itself as western-type one, but it still allows Orthodox sects to beat women. Since this is the second or third article from this type, I believe what is written in it is true. I hope people spend some time thinking about whether our image of Israel has anything to do with reality. Someone said " The biggest enemy of Israel is Israeli government". I think he was right. So if we cannot mess in their internal or external politics, because of the many factors, maybe we can at least try to require human treatment of their own women. After all, they are not the enemy, for sure. Right?

The second article is about teen pregnancy being on the rise for 3d year in USA. This combined with the shows like "Teenager Mom" and "16 and pregnant" and so on, make me think that this rise is a lot more dramatic than the statistic shows. And I wonder why nobody considers it a problem. Now-a-day the life expectancy is around 70, in USA more. Is it normal to give birth in the very beginning of your life, while you're still a child yourself? I think not. I actually hate the idea those shows are promoting - get pregnant, get a baby, if you can't take care of him/her, leave him/her for adoption. This isn't right! The best place for a baby is with his/her real, biological parents. Sometimes that's not possible, but to promote it as normal, that's pervert! And anyway, why should all those girls get pregnant, when they can use condoms or pills and choose when to have a baby? Is that so damn hard? I don't know, that article worries me a big time, because USA is still a global leader, it's not normal such things to happen. And because I believe every woman should be free to choose when to become a mother AFTER she becomes an adult! It's ridiculous to be considered too young to drink alcohol (or to drive), but to be old enough to be a parent! This is not a game after all.

The third article is about religion and its relation with morality. I think it's interesting, because it clearly states that the two things are not directly connected. You can be a good person even if you're not religious and vice verse. Good news for everyone I guess. Now someone should figure that marriage is one of the biggest enemies of the society and we'll all live in a better world.


Israel likes to portray itself as a Western Democracy. However on all accounts it fails miserably. You have an inherent lack of equality within the Zionist state, rampant racism, ethnic cleansing, sectarian and religious abuse, censorship and free speech abuses, civil rights abuses, religious fanaticism, a failure to adhere to international law, failure to recognize the Geneva convention or the Nuclear non-proliferation treaty or allow inspections of nuclear facilities. And I won’t even go into the years of war crimes. Even Israel’s reaction to the Goldstone report is un-democratic and totalitarian in nature. A blatant and willful despise and ignoring of any and all laws that could hold the Rogue state accountable to the world’s view of humanity and justice. But today let’s talk about the women in Israel, and during the examples set out below, please bear in mind that both Israel and the USA like to demean and criticize Muslim countries for their treatment of women, whilst all the while ignoring the disgusting backward policies and abuse of women in Israel. Israel is akin to the worst policies of the Taliban where women’s rights are concerned.

Today Seth Freedman writes in the Guardian:
With the gulf between the secular and religious camps in Israel continuing to widen, the issue of gender segregation on public transport has become the latest bone of contention. Activists from both sides are eagerly awaiting a ruling – due at the end of the month – from the minister for transport, whose decision will either bring an end to the forced separation of men and women on state-run buses or enshrine the partition in Israeli law.

ultra-Orthodox passengers have taken the law into their own hands on countless occasions on Egged routes used by both secular and religious Israelis. Regular reports surface of Haredi men using violence and intimidation to force reluctant women to move towards the back of the bus in order to comply with their religious rules – policies which the New Israel Fund has dubbed part of the "increasing Talibanisation of Israeli public life".
So women are sent to the back of the bus, this should sound familiar to Black Americans. But this is not the worst abuse or demeaning treatment of 21st century women in this "Wonderful Modern Western Democracy" called "Israel." They are beaten into towing the line by "modesty terrorist squads" More after this:
link Woman beat, threatened by 'modesty squad.' A Jerusalem woman who left ultra-Orthodox life after her divorce was gagged, beaten by group of self-proclaimed 'chastity guards'

A 31-year-old Jerusalem woman was cruelly beaten and threatened with death by members of the 'modesty squad' who took it upon themselves to interrogate her about her relationships with men. After seizing the woman, the men toppled her to the floor, kicked her repeatedly and then gagged her, warning she would be blinded with mace and stabbed if she dare open her eyes. She was then 'interrogated' by Buzaglo and his ilk, as they tried to force her to disclose the identities of men she had been in contact with. The group, which also hurled profanities at the woman throughout the ordeal, is also accused of threatening to kill the woman if she did not move from her apartment.

The men are also charged with the theft of two cell phones; it is believed the group took the phones with the intent of obtaining the phone numbers of men the woman was seeing. the modesty squad has declared a crusade against violations of Halachic law and what it views as 'unchaste' behavior. According to the indictment, the group has elected to employ intimidation and violence as the means to this end.
This women got off lucky, she was "only" beaten. A young teenager had acid thrown on her for simply wearing "pants" e.g. trousers. Yeah, Israel is a 21st century Democracy, mi arse:
link 'Modesty patrol' suspected of spilling acid on teenage girl A 14-year-old girl from Beitar Illite was taken to the Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem after an unknown person spilled acid on her face, legs and stomach

“the modesty guards have been threatening her for quite some time.” According to the paramedic the focus of the threats has largely been the victim's 18-year-old sister and some suspect the attacker mistook the younger girl's identity for that of her older sister's. According to Eini at the time of her attack the girl had been wearing loose-fitting long pants and a short-sleeved shirt.
Why do these "modesty Terrorist Gangs" operate? Here's why, the Rabbi's decree that Women must not wear pants, even in the dark, even when alone IN the dark. I say, shaking my head:
link Rabbi Aviner: One of Religious Zionism's most prominent leaders defines trousers as a 'self-prohibition,' says women 'must dress modestly also when alone and in the dark'
I guess that rules out wearing a pair of Pajamas then.....And to think, America supports these lunatics. Message to America: Keep sending them your hard earned tax Dollars, whilst you go jobless and homeless, so they can expand and commit more crimes in your name. Still there is more; Women elected to the Israeli Government are photoshopped out of the official cabinet photo, go ahead and click it to enlarge:
link Two women serve in Israel's new Cabinet, but some Israelis would rather not see them. The daily Yated Neeman digitally changed the photo, moving two male ministers into the places formerly occupied by the women. The weekly Shaa Tova simply blacked the women out, in a photo reprinted Friday by the mainstream daily Maariv.
Israel and America should not talk about the treatment of women in Iran, or by Hamas or the Taliban, not whilst supporting Israel, otherwise it's a case of "Pot-Kettle-Black" as usual...........I'll leave you with a VIDEO of a woman beaten by the "modesty Squad." Send more American Tax Dollars to this rogue lawless undemocratic state so you can continue to support war criminals and racist, sexist scum. source

After Long Decline, Teenage Pregnancy Rate Rises

January 26, 2010

After more than a decade of declining teenage pregnancy, the pregnancy rate among girls ages 15 to 19 increased 3 percent from 2005 to 2006 — a turnaround likely to intensify the debate over federal financing for abstinence-only sex education.

The teenage abortion rate also crept up for the first time in more than a decade, rising 1 percent from 2005 to 2006, according to an analysis by the Guttmacher Institute, a nonpartisan nonprofit research group.

While teenage pregnancy rates for whites remain far lower than for blacks and Hispanics, the pregnancy rates increased for all three groups.

As previously reported, births to young women ages 15 to 19 — a statistic that is available more quickly than pregnancy and abortion data — rose from 2005 to 2006, and again from 2006 to 2007.

Since the teenage pregnancy rate is made up of births, abortions and miscarriages, it is likely that the teenage pregnancy rate rose from 2006 to 2007, as well.

But several experts said it was too soon to predict whether teenage pregnancy and birth rates would continue to rise, and revert to the record high levels of the 1980s and early 1990s.

While it is difficult to pinpoint precisely how different factors influence teenage sexual behavior, some experts speculate that the rise in teenage pregnancy might be partly attributable to the $150 million a year of federal financing for sex education that emphasized abstinence until marriage, avoiding all mention of the possible benefits of contraception.

“This new study makes it crystal clear that abstinence-only sex education for teenagers does not work,” said Cecile Richards, the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

The Clinton administration began financing abstinence-only programs as part of welfare reform, but such programs got a large boost in the Bush administration.

The Obama administration has moved away from abstinence-only programs, creating a new teenage-pregnancy initiative in which most financing will go to programs that have been shown to prevent pregnancy, with some experimental approaches.

Meanwhile, there are continuing efforts to reinstate financing for abstinence-only education as part of the health-reform legislation. source

Morality research sheds light on the origins of religion

February 8, 2010

The details surrounding the emergence and evolution of religion have not been clearly established and remain a source of much debate among scholars. Now, an article published by Cell Press in the journal Trends in Cognitive Sciences on February 8 brings a new understanding to this long-standing discussion by exploring the fascinating link between morality and religion.

There is no doubt that spiritual experiences and , which are ubiquitous across cultures and time and associated exclusively with humans, are ultimately based in the brain. However, there are many unanswered questions about how and why these behaviors originated and how they may have been shaped during evolution.

"Some scholars claim that religion evolved as an adaptation to solve the problem of cooperation among genetically unrelated individuals, while others propose that religion emerged as a by-product of pre-existing cognitive capacities," explains study co-author Dr. Ilkka Pyysiainen from the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. Although there is some support for both, these alternative proposals have been difficult to investigate.

Citing several studies in moral psychology, the authors highlight the finding that despite differences in, or even an absence of, religious backgrounds, individuals show no difference in moral judgments for unfamiliar moral dilemmas. The research suggests that intuitive judgments of right and wrong seem to operate independently of explicit religious commitments. source

Nuclear deal? Yeah, right!

It's all over the news, Medvedev and Obama signed the new deal for nuclear arms. It sounds almost good. Sure, as long as you don't pay attention to the numbers.

"The pact will shrink the limit of nuclear warheads to 1,550 per country over seven years, about a third less than the 2,200 currently permitted."

1550 nukes?! WTF? As it was written somewhere in the articles, both countries have enough missiles to wipe out completely each other 7 times!!! The question I may ask is why the hell, the existence of USA or Russia is more important than the existence of the whole planet? Because both countries are pretty big, which means that if you detonate that many bombs, you're going to kill the whole planet (or severely damage it). So, when did the existence of certain country became more important than the existence of the whole human civilization. Don't get me wrong, I don't hate any of the two countries. What I hate is the arrogance that such deals are emitting. We are all important. I'm not saying that some countries should violate other countries and nobody should be able to stop them. But let's face it, nuclear missiles are not there to protect! They exist to destroy. To destroy BIG time! If you really want peace, you don't need 1000 missiles, you need probably 100 - well enough to stop an attack by another country. You need better shields. You need better way to stop flying missiles, you need better army for better protection. You DON'T need more missiles!

What's even more, it's obvious that the number of the missiles you have, should be less than the number of missiles that will destroy the planet or make it inhabitable. Anything above that is nonsense - why would you need those missiles if you can never use it. And why would you use it, if that would be the last thing to do in your life (and the lives of the whole specie).

I keep thinking about the craziness during the Cold War. I keep on wondering how did we survive at all - the two countries were ready to push the button at any time. Fortunately for us all, they didn't push that button. But even though currently the world is stable, you never know for how long. I think it's crucial not to EVER allow the situation to escalate to that point. Because that is the purpose of history - to teach us what we want and what we don't. And I think, that's something nobody wants. So, the question is, why do they reduce the missile so little? It's not realistic to believe you can win a war with them - if you do it, you lose, because nobody will ever want to play with you so to say. I mean what's the problem in fighting with conventional weapons? You want a war, you think you're right, I'm against it, but I can't stop you - go for it. But use normal weapons, use humans...if you want to kill, use humans to kill, not a button pushed from distance. This is not a war, but extermination. What does it mean that nukes can be used for stopping terrorists? What kind of terrorism will require destruction on such a big scale?! What is this that you can achieve with a nuke (or with 100 nukes), which you cannot with other types of bombs. Ok I can think of a thing or two, but that's it. And in most cases, there are better ways to achieve the same goal. If you're not after the total destruction, that is. Because nukes are not just another type of bomb. They are extermination devices. The radiation will kill 10 (?) times more people than the bomb itself. The soil will get polluted, the air, the water. That land will become unusable for a long while. Is this the goal? Because when I read how it's possible to use nukes against Iran and N. Korea, without being a supporter of those regimes, I don't get it. You want a war? Ok, fight. But what do you need the nukes for? Do you want to fight against certain regime or you want to fight against certain nation which you want to exterminate. Because this is how it looks like.

I sincerely hope that the whole stunt of the new deal has nothing to do with any future war or aggression against other nation, I so hope this kind of behavior is left behind in our past. But I really want to make people ask themselves - who are "we", who are "they" and why "we" are better than "they" are. And how far are we willing to go to ensure our lives. Because after all, none of us is immortal so far. So if we're going to die anyway, shouldn't we live our lives in a good and proud way, or we should simply live at any cost. I know it's a depressing thought, but it's late at night and I'm quite tired. But this is important. Someone who claims to be spiritually developed said "pacifism is stupid and naive". I was very shocked, because I can't believe anyone would approve wars. I mean why should there be wars - look at us now - yes there are few warring regions, but they are not essential for our good lives. We live happily without killing each other and without hating each other. We fly around the world, enjoy other cultures, enjoy our new friends. We're interested in what's happening everywhere. Why should we be at war with anyone, it simply doesn't make sense? We don't need it, if we don't need it, then why doing it? Because it's "fun"?! Because it's "human nature"?! It is not. We don't need wars. Sometimes they happen, that's normal, but we don't need them and we can live without them if we want to. I believe wars shouldn't exist. If I have to, if I have absolutely no other choice, I would fight. But we have a choice. And as long as we have a choice, I think we have to fight only against war. Because "we" is VERY rarely better than "they".

  1. U.S. Approves Targeted Killing of American Cleric
  2. Obama’s Nuclear Strategy Intended as a Message
  3. Obama, Medvedev sign treaty to cut nuclear arms

U.S. Approves Targeted Killing of American Cleric

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has taken the extraordinary step of authorizing the targeted killing of an American citizen, the radical Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who is believed to have shifted from encouraging attacks on the United States to directly participating in them, intelligence and counterterrorism officials said Tuesday.

Mr. Awlaki, who was born in New Mexico and spent years in the United States as an imam, is in hiding in Yemen. He has been the focus of intense scrutiny since he was linked to Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the Army psychiatrist accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Tex., in November, and then to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Dec. 25.

American counterterrorism officials say Mr. Awlaki is an operative of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the affiliate of the terror network in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. They say they believe that he has become a recruiter for the terrorist network, feeding prospects into plots aimed at the United States and at Americans abroad, the officials said.

It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing, officials said. A former senior legal official in the administration of George W. Bush said he did not know of any American who was approved for targeted killing under the former president.

But the director of national intelligence, Dennis C. Blair, told a House hearing in February that such a step was possible. “We take direct actions against terrorists in the intelligence community,” he said. “If we think that direct action will involve killing an American, we get specific permission to do that.” He did not name Mr. Awlaki as a target.

As a general principle, international law permits the use of lethal force against individuals and groups that pose an imminent threat to a country, and officials said that was the standard used in adding names to the list of targets. source

Obama’s Nuclear Strategy Intended as a Message

WASHINGTON — The 50-page “Nuclear Posture Review” released on Tuesday acknowledged outright that “the massive nuclear arsenal we inherited from the cold-war era” is “poorly suited to address the challenges posed by suicidal terrorist and unfriendly regimes seeking nuclear weapons.”

Nonetheless, the new strategy aims to use the arsenal to do just that, despite considerable skepticism that any new doctrine or set of White House announcements is likely to change the calculus for North Korea or Iran.

Mr. Obama’s new strategy makes just about every nonnuclear state immune from any threat of nuclear retaliation by the United States. But it carves out an exception for Iran and North Korea, labeled “outliers” rather than the Bush-era moniker of “rogue states.” The wording was chosen, Mr. Obama’s senior advisers said, to suggest they have a path back to international respectability — and to de-targeting by the United States.

Nonnuclear states that abide by the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty would not be threatened with nuclear retaliation by the United States — even if they conducted conventional, biological or cyber attacks. But, he added, “if you’re not going to play by the rules, if you’re going to be a proliferator, then all options are on the table in terms of how we deal with you.” The new strategy takes that effort one step further, warning both countries that the United States could still use its nuclear arsenal to counter any effort to sell or transfer the country’s nuclear technology to terrorists. source

Obama, Medvedev sign treaty to cut nuclear arms

PRAGUE – Casting aside years of rancor, President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Thursday signed the biggest nuclear arms pact in a generation, lacing the moment with new warnings of sanctions for an intransigent Iran.

The treaty, sealed after months of halting negotiation, is significant not just for what it does but for what it symbolizes: a fresh start for the United States and Russia, and evidence to a watching world that nuclear disarmament is more than a goal.

The pact commits their nations to slash the number of strategic nuclear warheads by one-third and more than halve the number of missiles, submarines and bombers carrying them.

That still leaves the two countries with enough nuclear firepower to ensure mutual destruction several times over, but the move sets a foundation for deeper reductions, which both sides are already pursuing.

"It sends a signal around the world that the United States and Russia are prepared to once again take leadership," Obama said moments after he and Medvedev signed the treaty in a gleaming, ornate hall in the Czech Republic's presidential castle.

Said the Russian president: "The entire world community has won."

The pact will shrink the limit of nuclear warheads to 1,550 per country over seven years, about a third less than the 2,200 currently permitted.

Looming over the celebration was Iran, which in the face of international pressures continues to assert that its uranium enrichment program is for peaceful purposes, not for weapons as suspected. Six powers — the U.S., Russia, Britain, France, Germany and now China — are in talks in New York about a fourth set of United Nations sanctions to pressure Iran into compliance.

"We cannot turn a blind eye to this," Medvedev said in a show of solidarity. But he said he was frank with Obama about how far Russia was willing to go, favoring only what he called "smart" sanctions that might have hope of changing behavior.

The nuclear arms pact now faces a ratification vote in the Russian legislature and the U.S. Senate. At home, Obama's team is struggling to get the necessary votes, and the president himself is directly involved.

Negotiations between the U.S. and Russia got bogged down in disputes, including Russia's objection to U.S. missile defense plans for Europe. The Kremlin is still concerned about the plan but sought to tamp down talk it would withdraw from the new treaty if there is a buildup in the missile defense system. Russia codified its option to withdraw in a statement in connection with the treaty.

Beyond slashing nuclear arsenals, the U.S. sees the new "START" treaty, as it is known, as a key part of efforts to reset ties with Russia, badly strained under the Bush administration, and engage Moscow more in dealing with global challenges, including the nuclear arsenal of North Korea and nuclear ambitions of Iran.

Other U.S. nuclear initiatives will follow the Prague signing. Leaders from more than 40 countries will gather in Washington next week to discuss improvements in securing nuclear materials.

The White House plans to lead calls for disarmament in May at the United Nations during an international conference on strengthening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. source

To celebrate the beautiful holiday that is coming, I decided to turn to the spiritual. And since I believe that the key to spirituality is experience, I won't write a long post. Instead I will paste some articles on relaxation. I hope you'll find the time and desire in yourself to try them, because obviously, stress is one of the number one killer of our time. The good news is that it's so easy to get rid of it, once you decide to do it.
The articles I offer you today are:

  1. Stress triggers tumor formation, researchers find
  2. Relax Your Way to Perfect Health
  3. The 5 Rules of Happiness
I hope you read correctly the warning from the first articles - it's quite clear, stress is dangerous for our body on many levels - psychological, organ-level and cellular level. So if we want to have a decent chance to live a healthy and happy life, we have to find a way to deal with stress.

The second article explains how relaxation greatly improves our body response to inflammation and other threats by switching on the genes that fight diseases.

The moral is crystal clear - we have to manage our stress levels every day. There are some methods described in the article, what I can add to them is what sometimes works for me (depending on how stressed and desperate I am) - first I try to root myself to my body by carefully feeling my limbs, my torso, my head, my skin. The most important part is to be in yourself and not to allow thoughts to carry you away. That could be hard if you're in a tough situation, but this is the key moment for success. If you find it hard to stay focused, try counting from 1 to 10 (or back if you prefer) being careful not to miss a count and not to take too long or to count too fast. After I'm rooted, I focus on my breathing, sensing my breath as it moves in and out. The final stage is to try to exhale your troubles, worries and stress and to inhale clean calm air, full of serenity and peace. Doing this 10-30 times is usually enough. When I'm in really really tough periods and nothing else helps, I try to lay still and do little auto-hypnosis - first repeating that my hands are still and heavy and then my feet. And then, whatever comes to my mind.

I hope this post will give you a good motive to relax yourself and find your inner peace. After all, it's our health at stake. You either use it or lose it. I want to use it :)

And hey, the articles miss the best stress relief method - SEX! Kisses, hugs, foreplay games and sex are the ultimate stress killers. The hormones that your body produces during sex and orgasm are so powerful nothing else can compare to them (well, reasonable nothing - I don't count deep spiritual experiences or narcotic induced trances). Combined with the body movement which is by the way another method to fight stress - by regular exercises, it's simply a bomb of good energy directly in the face of stress. So, if you don't have the time to make your daily routines and meditations, at least have sex. It's good for you, it's good for your skin, it keeps you youthful, it keeps you social and in the end, it could produce babies, which might be also nice. Of course, it's best to have sex with someone you're close with, not just a random someone, but I guess anything will do, as long as it's safe and good for both sides. But being with someone you love is always better, because it makes sex spiritual, beautiful and meaningful. And that's always good.

So let's fight stress with sex! And yeah, finally, to get back to the holiday, spending time outdoors can do miracles for anyone. After all, we spend most of our lives doing "virtual" stuff we never see the results of. Planting flowers and seeing them grow, or seeing the trees blossoming and the little kids and lams running around gives you a whole new idea of purpose and usefulness.

Have a happy holiday!

Stress triggers tumor formation, researchers find

January 13, 2010

Stress induces signals that cause cells to develop into tumors, Yale researchers have discovered. The research, published online Jan. 13 in the journal Nature, describes a novel way cancer takes hold in the body and suggests new ways to attack the deadly disease.

Until now, most researchers believed that more than one cancer-causing mutation needed to take place in a single cell in order for tumors to grow. The Yale team, led by Tian Xu, professor and vice chairman of genetics and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, illustrated that cancer-causing mutations can cooperate to promote even when they are located in different cells within a tissue.

The Yale team worked with fruit flies to study the activity of two genes known to be involved in development of human cancers: a gene called RAS that has been implicated in 30 percent of cancers, and a tumor-suppressing gene called scribble, which contributes to tumor development when mutated. Neither a mutated RAS nor the defective scribble alone can cause cancer. Researchers in the Xu lab previously showed that a combination of the two within the same cell could trigger malignant tumors.

However, the Yale team found that these mutations did not have to co-exist in the same cell to cause tumors. A cell with only mutant RAS can develop into a if helped by a nearby cell with defective scribble. They also found conditions such as a wound could trigger . For instance, RAS cells developed into tumors when a wound was induced in the tissue. The culprit underlying both phenomena turned out to be a signaling process called JNK, which is activated by environmental stress conditions.

"A lot of different conditions can trigger stress signaling: physical stress, emotional stress, infections, inflammation - all these things. " Xu said.

While the paper shows it is easier than previously thought for cancer to take root in the body, it also identifies new targets to prevent and treat one of the deadliest diseases in the developed world. The Yale team found that the JNK stress signaling travels from one cell to the next, but that the propagation can be blocked. source

Relax Your Way to Perfect Health

By Anastasia Stephens / Source: The Independent UK

It's a piece of advice that yogis have given for thousands of years: take a deep breath and relax. Watch the tension melt from your muscles and all your niggling worries vanish. Somehow we all know that relaxation is good for us. Now the hard science has caught up – for a comprehensive scientific study showing that deep relaxation changes our bodies on a genetic level has just been published.

What researchers at Harvard Medical School discovered is that, in long-term practitioners of relaxation methods such as yoga and meditation, far more "disease-fighting genes" were active, compared to those who practised no form of relaxation.

In particular, they found genes that protect from disorders such as pain, infertility, high blood pressure and even rheumatoid arthritis were switched on. The changes, say the researchers, were induced by what they call "the relaxation effect", a phenomenon that could be just as powerful as any medical drug but without the side-effects.

The experiment, which showed just how responsive genes are to behaviour, mood and environment, revealed that genes can switch on, just as easily as they switch off.

"Harvard researchers asked the control group to start practising relaxation methods every day," explains Jake Toby, hypnotherapist at London's BodyMind Medicine Centre, who teaches clients how to induce the relaxation effect. "After two months, their bodies began to change – the genes that help fight inflammation, kill diseased cells and protect the body from cancer, all began to switch on."

More encouraging still, the benefits of the relaxation effect were found to increase with regular practice – the more people practised relaxation methods such as meditation or deep breathing, the greater their chances of remaining free of arthritis and joint pain with stronger immunity, healthier hormone levels and lower blood pressure.

Benson believes the research is pivotal because it shows how a person's state of mind affects the body on a physical and genetic level. It might also explain why relaxation induced by meditation or repetitive mantras is considered to be a powerful remedy in traditions such as Ayurveda in India or Tibetan medicine.

"On a biological level, stress is linked to fight-flight and danger," explains Dr Jane Flemming, a London-based GP. "In survival mode, heart rate rises and blood pressure shoots up. Meanwhile muscles, preparing for danger, contract and tighten. And non-essential functions such as immunity and digestion go by the wayside."

Relaxation, on the other hand, is a state of rest, enjoyment and physical renewal. Free of danger, muscles can relax and food can be digested. The heart can slow and blood circulation flows freely to the body's tissues, feeding it with nutrients and oxygen. This restful state is good for fertility, as the body is able to conserve the resources it needs to generate new life.

But, he warns, deep relaxation isn't the sort of switching off you do relaxing with a cup of tea or lounging on the sofa. "What you're looking for is a state of deep relaxation where tension is released from the body on a physical level and your mind completely switches off," he says.

Take a deep breath... How to relax deeply

Harvard researchers found that yoga, meditation and even repetitive prayer and mantras all induced the relaxation effect. Have a go at one or more of the following for 15 minutes once or twice a day.

Body scan

Starting with your head and working down to your arms and feet, notice how you feel in your body. Taking in your head and neck, simply notice if you feel tense, relaxed, calm or anxious. See how much you can spread any sensations of softness and relaxation to areas of your body that feel tense. Once your reach your feet, work back up your body.

Breath focus

Sitting comfortably, become aware of your breath, following the sensation of inhaling from your nose down to your abdomen and out again. As you follow your breath, notice your whole body and let tension go with each exhalation. Whenever you notice your mind wandering, come back to your breath.

Mantra repetition

The relaxation response can be evoked by sitting quietly with eyes closed for 15 minutes twice a day, and mentally repeating a simple word or sound such as 'Om'.

Guided imagery

Imagine the most wonderfully relaxing light, or a soothing waterfall washing away any tension or worries from your body and mind. Make your image as vivid as possible, imagining the texture, colour and any fragrance as the image washes over or through you. source

The 5 Rules of Happiness

By Burt Goldman/ Creator of Quantum Jumping

Rule Number One: If You Like a Thing, Enjoy It.

Rule Number Two: If You Don't Like a Thing, Avoid It.

Rule Number Three: If You Don't Like a Thing, and You Cannot Avoid It, Change It.

Rule Number Four: If You Don't Like a Thing, Cannot Avoid It, and Cannot or will Not Change It, Accept It.

Rule Number Five: You Accept a Thing By Changing Your Attitude Towards It. source


How to Melt Away Stress and Sickness

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