Society's Child

Heart - Black

Blaming the victim: Women in revealing clothes deserve to be raped says Brazilians - survey

© AFP/Yasuyoshi Chiba
Samba dancer participates in the opening night of Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on February 18, 2012.
In Brazil, the land of mini bikinis and voluptuous carnival dancers, most people say a woman who shows off her body deserves to be raped, according to a poll that has triggered outrage.

Of the 3,810 respondents of both sexes who responded to the government's Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA) survey released this week, about 2,480 -- 65 percent -- justified raping women who wear "clothing that shows off the body."

And 58.5 percent of respondents also agreed that "if women knew how to behave, there would be fewer rapes."

Most of the May-June poll's respondents -- 66.5 percent -- were women.

Brazilian women -- and some men, too -- promptly reacted angrily on blogs and social media to the study's findings.

Journalist Nana Queiroz launched an online protest event on Facebook that invited women to take pictures of themselves topless while covering their breasts accompanied with the phrase: "I don't deserve to be raped."
Arrow Down

Objects retrieved from Southern Indian Ocean by Chinese: floating garbage

The search for missing flight MH370 has turned the spotlight on to vast fields of floating rubbish.
A pilot searching for the missing Malaysian Airlines plane claims his crew spotted four orange objects floating in the Indian Ocean which could be a 'promising lead' in the hunt for the vanished aircraft.

Royal Australian Air Force Lieutenant Russell Adams said his crew saw the items during an 11-hour mission, each more than six-feet long.

Despite the potential breakthrough, the pilot stressed he could not confirm whether the objects were parts of the plane which disappeared three weeks ago.

It comes just days after debris pulled from the search area turned out to be fishing gear and items not related to the vanished flight MH370.
Eye 1

70-year-old man arrested, searched for marijuana solely for having Colorado license plate; files lawsuit

An Idaho state trooper arrested and fully searched a 70-year-old Washington man's vehicle solely because he had a Colorado license plate - a state where marijuana is legal - a federal "license plate profiling" lawsuit alleges.

Darien Roseen was driving along I-84 between his second home in Colorado and Washington state on Jan. 25 when Idaho State Trooper Justin Klitch "immediately" pulled out from the Interstate median and began "rapidly accelerating" to catch up to Roseen, according to the complaint in a Courthouse News Service report. Exiting at a designated rest area, Roseen says he became "uncomfortable" that Klitch had followed him though he had not "done anything wrong."

After pulling Roseen over, Klitch reportedly failed to explain why he made the stop, although he later said he made the stop because Roseen failed to use his signal when pulling off on the exit, and because he bumped the curb. Klitch rejected Roseen's reason for pulling into the rest area, telling him, "You didn't have to go to the bathroom before you saw me ... I'm telling you, you pulled in here to avoid me."

The mashed potato police: Tales from the front line of the TSA

tsa uniform
I recently had a bad flashback. I was lying in bed trying to fall asleep when I was hit with a vivid memory from my time as a Transportation Security Administration officer at Chicago's O'Hare Airport. It was 2008, and I was conducting a bag check when three of my TSA colleagues got into an argument with a passenger at the checkpoint. Things got pretty heated.

The subject of debate? Whether mashed potatoes were a liquid or a solid.

In the end, of course, the TSA agents had the last word: Since the potatoes took the shape of their container, they were determined to be a liquid - specifically, a gel. That's the official TSA line. "Liquids, aerosols and gels over 3.4 ounces cannot be brought through security." The potatoes were forcibly surrendered.

If you're anything like me, you may have thought, "Well, mashed potatoes are technically gelatinous, so..." - which sends one down the rabbit hole of bureaucratic absurdity that ends with a passenger looking a TSA officer in the eye and saying, "Do you really think my mashed potatoes are a terrorist threat?" And the officer, if he or she is just an all-around tool, saying: "Ma'am, possibly. Rules are rules."

I've had a lot of flashbacks lately - nearly buried memories that have come flooding back ever since Politico Magazine published "Dear America, I Saw You Naked," my first-person account of working for the TSA and anonymously blogging about my adventures in airport security.

Another one: It's 2010, and a passenger is trying to bring her live goldfish through security. One of my co-workers informs her that the fish can go through but the water cannot. The woman is on the verge of tears when a supervisor steps in to save the fish's life.

And another: Working alongside a screener who always demanded that pacifiers be removed from infants' mouths and submitted for X-ray screening before the babies and their mothers were permitted to pass through the metal detectors.

Suicides in the US Military since January 1st - an average of 22 per day

veterans suicide
© Elizabeth Harrington
Lt. Col. (Ret.) Dar Place was two feet away when his friend and fellow soldier took his own life during the Gulf War. Two decades later, like so many other veterans, Place is still haunted by the plague of suicide in the military.

"I personally saw my driver after Desert Storm in his tank put a gun underneath his mouth and pull the trigger, while I was no further away from him than I am from you right now," Place told the Washington Free Beacon at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. He was one of the dozens of activists with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) who planted thousands of flags to honor veterans who had killed themselves.

By noon, 1,892 American flags graced the Mall, representing the number of veterans who have taken their life this year alone since January 1st - an average of 22 per day.

Former soldiers and survivors gathered to raise awareness about the epidemic, and lobby Capitol Hill to pass a bill addressing gaps in mental health.

The message of the campaign is "We've Got Your Back," and for Place, serving in the Army is a "family business."

"My son is still in active duty, he's been an infantryman," he said. "I was in the 101st Airborne Division, he was in the 82nd Airborne Division, and just like his old man was when I was a young enlisted man, he kind of followed in my footsteps."

"I served in the 82nd in Desert Storm," Place said. "So twice, I was on the initial invasion into Iraq, and then later on he came in to Iraq as I was coming out. And then he went on to the 82nd Airborne, and he went into Afghanistan as my unit prepared to relieve his unit in place in Afghanistan."

Place retired in November. He is working with IAVA to help his fellow veterans get the help they need.

Steven Seagal loves Putin: "One of the great living world leaders"

© AP
Action guy Steven Seagal weighed in on the international dispute over Russia's annexation of Crimea this week. Spoiler alert: he's siding with his friend Vladimir Putin and not with President Obama, whom the action star believes is one Benghazi revelation away from impeachment. In an interview with the state-run Rossiskaya Gazeta, Seagal called Putin "one of the great living world leaders," adding that he "would like to consider him as a brother."
Black Magic

First Marius the giraffe, now four lions; Copenhagen Zoo kills again!

© Mads Nissen/EPA
A mother and a new member of the pride enter the Copenhagen Zoo's lion enclosure.
The Danish zoo that drew so much criticism for killing a healthy young giraffe named Marius and inviting schoolchildren to watch as he was dismembered and fed to lions is at it again.

This time, the zoo announced that it euthanized four healthy lions Monday to make way for a young male lion.

It did not say what it did with their carcasses, nor whether they were among those who ate Marius.

Of course it's tempting for any older person to anthropomorphize the situation (four old guys equals one young guy), but it turns out that only two of the lions were older -- 16 and 14 years old -- and one of them was a female. The other two were 18-month-old male cubs.

Having checked its humanity at the door in February when it so publicly killed and disposed of Marius, the zoo has a perfectly cold-eyed scientific rationale for the slaughter:

Comment: See also Killing of zoo giraffe raises questions of science, ethics and education


What freedom? Student loan debts top $1 trillion in U.S.

© Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel
The student loan industry is booming, saddling over 37 million college students and graduates with $1.08 trillion in loans in 2013, even as President Barack Obama and lawmakers work to rein in the crippling debt young people face in the US.

The average cost of a Bachelor's degree at a private college or university is $45,000, according to The College Board's Trends in Higher Education. Students attending public schools in their home state pay just under $23,000 on average, while those paying out-of-state tuition can expect to pay more than $36,000 a year. In 2012, The College Board says the average student carried over $6,000 student loans for the academic year.

Of the nearly 20 million Americans who attend college each year, about 12 million borrow, according to the Almanac of Higher Education. Estimates show that the average four-year graduate accumulates $26,000 to $29,000 in loans, and some leave college with debt totaling in the six figures. Those students who continue on to graduate school, especially law and medical school, see their debt balloon.

Singing Italian nun becomes fastest growing internet hit ever

© Daily Mail
  • Sister Cristina Scuccia stunned judges on The Voice in Italy
  • Her version of No One by Alicia Keys has been viewed 30-million times
  • The previous record holder was Gangnam Style by Korean pop star Psy
  • Sister Cristina who grew up in a small town outside Palermo
  • Starry eyed sister said she hoped to have a call from Pope Francis
Not since Julie Andrews has a singing nun caused such a stir in the abbey.

A Sicilian nun has become the fastest growing internet phenomenon of all time after performing on the Italian version of The Voice.

Sister Cristina Scuccia, who stunned judges with her version of an Alicia Keys song, belted out in full habit, has racked up 30-million hits on YouTube in just seven days.

The previous record holder was the unforgettable "Gangnam Style" by Korean pop star Psy which racked up 10-million views in 18 days, before going on to reach almost 2-billion clicks.

China's bloggers weigh in on Russia's Crimea annexation

© Pavel Golovkin/AP
A Russian national flag flies over Russian troops as they gather at a former Ukrainian military base in Perevalne, outside Simferopol, Crimea on March 27.
When it comes to Ukraine, Chinese officials are in a bit of a bind. On the one hand, they don't like the U.S. hectoring other nations, which they see America as doing to Russia. They also aren't at all averse to seeing others thumb their nose at the Americans. On the other hand, allowing the Crimea to vote on its own future sets a dangerous precedent for those in Tibet and Taiwan who want nothing to do with the mainland.

That discord goes a long way toward explaining the platitudes and verbal contortions we've been hearing from Chinese officials - not to mention Beijing's decision to abstain on the recent United Nations vote condemning Russia's actions.

"The complex history and reality bring Ukraine to where it is today. Under the current circumstances, China calls on all sides to exercise calm and restraint," said foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei on March 27. "China follows a just and objective position on the issue of Ukraine and is committed to promoting a political settlement of it," he continued.