Society's ChildS


DNA Marketing: The Next Step Beyond Behavioral?

dna graphic
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A SXSW presentation took a dramatic look at a new kind of marketing that reaches far beyond behavioral understandings about people---looking at our personal DNA genome, and marketing to us as a result of this information that is literally in our bones.

"Influence, It's In Your Genes," presented by Paul Saarinen, of the agency Yamamoto in Minneapolis and Dr. Scott Fahrenkrug of the University of Minnesota, a genetic scientist.

The fight over personal privacy and sharing social information is already upon us. There was a firestorm of controversy from an article in the New York Times that exposed market research practices at Target Corporation that involved some creepy data crunching about personal information of consumers.

The New York Times story began with the tale of an angry father confronting a store manager at the local Target. He was angry because his teen age daughter had been receiving discount coupons from Target for products related to pregnancy and babies. The manager was baffled, but promised to find out what he could.

The manager called the father back a week later to check in and again apologize. The father sheepishly admitted that he had talked with his daughter and she admitted that she was in fact pregnant.

So how did Target know the teenager was pregnant?


Best of the Web: Corrupted and Evasive Language Now a Core Template of Our Social Behaviors

Nixon press secretary Ron Ziegler
© n/aNixon press secretary Ron Ziegler
Though I was fairly young at the time, I will always remember the moment in the Spring of 1973 when Nixon's Press Secretary, Ron Ziegler, tried to explain away his and his bosses previous lies about the fast-progressing Watergate scandal with the words, "mistakes were made".

If the truth be told, I can't say I have a very clear recollection of actually seeing president's spinmeister say the famous phrase live on TV. Rather, my "memories" of the event are derived almost wholly from the comments Ziegler's words evoked among the adult members of my family.

Particularly memorable were (and are) the derisive hoots of my Aunt Kathleen, a fiercely intelligent women who, I am pretty sure, never voted anything but a straight Republican ticket in the course of her long and eventful life.

Why was Kay, as we called her, so exercised with the chief spokesman of her party's President?

Because his clumsy attempt to have the "chalice" of responsibility "pass from his lips", violated everything she had been taught about how individuals and collective entities engender better futures. She understood quite fundamentally that without reckoning for deeds done, there could be no meaningful move toward moral renewal.

Brick Wall

Propaganda?: Putin builds walls round Kremlin

Putin Victory
© Rueters
Vladimir Putin won re-election this week largely by campaigning on a few themes: fear, paranoia, and an obsession with loyalty and betrayal, according to his critics.

And to hear those close to Mr Putin tell it, this is a faithful reflection of the former KGB colonel's own mind as he heads into a third term as president of the world's second largest nuclear power.

In numerous speeches, Mr Putin alluded to the presence of foreign plots against his rule and internal enemies of Russia's sovereignty, accusing protesters of responding to "signals" from Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, and being part of a foreign-inspired effort to "show us that they can rock the boat".

While this may have been scripted for public consumption, analysts say that the behind-the-scenes Putin is very much like the one he projects in public, his behavior symptomatic of the same outlook he evokes in political speeches.

Heart - Black

'Emo' Killings Raise Alarms in Iraq

© The Associated Press/Alaa al-MarjaniIn this picture taken on Wednesday, March 7, 2012, Iraqis who identify themselves as so-called Emos smoke a traditional "shisha" water pipe, as its smoke obscures their identity, in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad, Iraq.
Baghdad - Young people who identify themselves as so-called Emos are being brutally killed at an alarming rate in Iraq, where militias have distributed hit lists of victims and security forces say they are unable to stop crimes against the subculture that is widely perceived in Iraq as being gay.

Officials and human rights groups estimated as many as 58 Iraqis who are either gay or believed to be gay have been killed in the last six weeks alone - forecasting what experts fear is a return to the rampant hate crimes against homosexuals in 2009. This year, eyewitnesses and human rights groups say some of the victims have been bludgeoned to death by militiamen smashing in their skulls with heavy cement blocks.

A recent list distributed by militants in Baghdad's Shiite Sadr City neighborhood gives the names or nicknames of 33 people and their home addresses. At the top of the paper are a drawing of two handguns flanking a Quranic greeting that extolls God as merciful and compassionate.

Then follows a chilling warning.

"We warn in the strongest terms to every male and female debauchee," the Shiite militia hit list says. "If you do not stop this dirty act within four days, then the punishment of God will fall on you at the hands of Mujahideen."

All but one of the targets are men.


Sex on the Company Dime

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Employees who expense prostitutes are more common than you'd think

As awkward explanations go, the one given for Dominique Strauss-Kahn's alleged involvement with a French prostitution ring may have set the bar lower than ever before. During a recent radio interview, Strauss-Kahn's lawyer acknowledged that his client did indeed participate in an orgy at the upscale Carlton hotel in Lille, France, but stressed that he could not have known the women were prostitutes. "People are not always clothed at these parties," said Henri Leclerc. "I defy you to tell the difference between a nude prostitute and a classy lady in the nude."

The sensational case, dubbed the "Carlton affair" by French newspapers, is merely the latest sex scandal to envelop the former head of the International Monetary Fund, who lost his job after being accused of sexually assaulting a New York hotel maid last year (the charges were later dropped). It's also the most recent example of a company - in this case a French construction firm - being accused of improperly using corporate funds to throw so-called "sex parties" for employees and clients. In fact, some experts say using sex to grease the wheels of commerce is far more common than most people think - even in a relatively conservative country like Canada. "We like to paint ourselves as better than other countries," says Al Rosen of Toronto-based forensic accounting firm Rosen & Associates. "But we're absolutely not."

Heart - Black

Egypt Army Court Acquits Doctor Over Virginity Test

© Reuters/Mohamed Abd El GhanyArmy doctor Ahmed Adel, who was accused of carrying out a forced virginity test on a female detainee, speaks to the media after being acquitted in Cairo March 11, 2012.
Cairo - A military court acquitted an army doctor on Sunday charged with carrying out a forced virginity test on a female detainee during protests last year, said a court source, in a case that has fuelled anger against the ruling generals.

Activist Samira Ibrahim, who defied taboos in the conservative Muslim country to raise her case, said she was forced to undergo a virginity test in March last year after she was arrested during a protest in Cairo's Tahrir Square.

Ibrahim's and similar cases stoked criticism of the generals who took control of Egypt after Hosni Mubarak was driven from office on February 11, 2011 by a popular uprising.

"The army doctor Ahmed Adel was found not guilty in the case of virginity tests because of conflicting witness accounts," said the military judicial source, who asked not to be named.

Egypt's state news agency confirmed Sunday's court ruling, adding that the accounts of three witnesses in the case conflicted with a fourth.

Ibrahim declined to comment to Reuters after the ruling.

Light Saber

12-Year-Old Girl Sues School for Spying on Her Facebook Account

The ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of a 12-year-old middle school student who was detained and interrogated by Minnesota school officials who demanded her Facebook and email passwords.

According to CNN, the girl claims she was "'intimidated, frightened, humiliated and sobbing while she was detained in the small school room' as she watched a counselor, a deputy, and another school employee pore over her private communications."

The "interrogation" of the student stemmed from an incident where the girl wrote on her Facebook wall that hall monitors in the school were being "mean" to her and that she hated them, which the school determined was enough justification to demand a review of all her private communications.

The ACLU says that the Minnewaska School District violated the student's First Amendment right to free speech and her Fourth Amendment right to privacy and protection from unreasonable search and seizure.

"Students do not shed their First Amendment rights at the school house gate. The Supreme Court ruled on that in the 1970s, yet schools like Minnewaska seem to have no regard for the standard," said Minnesota's executive director for the ACLU in a statement about the case.

The school district maintains that its actions were "reasonable and appropriate."


Meet the awesome dogs that are stamping out elephant poaching

The Democratic Republic of the Congo's Virunga National Park employs a lean, mean team of crime-fighters to take on evil elephant poachers. These elite commandoes are fearless trackers, work for practically nothing, have exceptional loyalty, and are a pack of adorable puppies.

Meet Carla, Stella, Lila, Dodi, Lily, and Sabrina. The bloodhounds - or Congohounds, as they're called in Virunga - are currently being trained to protect the National Park's animals from poachers. Rangers rely on the hounds' especially keen sniffers to track and apprehend suspects - bloodhounds can identify a single scent out of 5 million competing smells.

The goal of the program is to better protect Virunga's critically endangered mountain gorillas and other wildlife from poachers, and in general, help enforce the rule of law, which is critical to re-establishing Virunga's tourism trade. The program will also greatly improve the park's ability to quickly find lost and critically injured rangers, many of whom have died needlessly while awaiting help.


Gloria Allred seeks Rush Limbaugh prosecution

Gloria Allred
© AP PhotoAllred said he 'engaged in unwarranted, tasteless and exceptionally damaging attacks.'

Rush Limbaugh has drawn the ire of celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred, who sent a letter to the Palm Beach County state attorney requesting an investigation into whether the popular radio host should be prosecuted for calling a law student a "slut" and "prostitute" last week.

"Mr. Limbaugh targeted his attack on a young law student who was simply exercising her free speech and her right to testify before congress on a very important issue to millions of American women and he vilified her. He defamed her and engaged in unwarranted, tasteless and exceptionally damaging attacks on her," Allred told POLITICO Friday afternoon. "He needs to face the consequences of his conduct in every way that is meaningful."

In a letter dated March 8, Allred, writing on behalf of the Women's Equal Rights Legal Defense and Education Fund, requested that Palm Beach County State Attorney Michael McAuliffe probe whether the conservative radio personality had violated Section 836.04 of the Florida Statutes by calling Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke the two derogatory words.

Heart - Black

Remains of 167 Bodies Found in Southern Mexican Cave

Mexico City - Mexican authorities say they've found the bodies of 167 people in a southern Mexican cave, and forensic experts believe the remains are at least 50 years old.

Prosecutors in Chiapas state said in a statement Saturday that the remains were found Friday on the Nuevo Ojo de Agua ranch in an area frequently used by Central American migrants traveling north. The statement said there were no visible signs of violence on the remains, which "break easily."

The authorities say they will "not discard any line of investigation."

Mass graves have been found in the past two years mainly in northern Mexico containing the bodies of dozens of migrants and others allegedly killed by drug cartels.

Source: The Associated Press