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Fri, 01 Dec 2023
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Fed up with online trolls, author pledges $5 to women's, LGBT groups for every insult

© Photo: Author John Scalzi (Flickr user quinnums)
The internet might have given unprecedented freedom to writers, but with it comes inevitable exposure to trolls. Now one US author has decided to tackle online baiting head-on, in a move that could see payouts of tens of thousands of dollars to four civil rights, women's issues and LGBT charities.

John Scalzi is the author of several books, including the Old Man's War series and Redshirts, published in the States by Tor and the UK by Gollancz. He's also the president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Fed up of being constantly targeted on his website by one particular individual and his followers, Scalzi decided to take action, pledging US$5 every time "the Racist Sexist Homophobic Dipshit in question posts an entry on his site in which he uses my name (or one of his adorable nicknames for me)".

Scalzi put a ceiling on his "troll tip jar" of US$1,000, figuring that gave his bête noir 200 opportunities to abuse him over the coming year, and said he'd give the cash to four charities: RAINN, America's largest anti-sexual violence organization; Emily's List, dedicated to electing pro-choice Democratic women to office; the Human Rights Campaign, which works for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Equal Rights; and NAACP: America's oldest and largest civil rights organization.


It's a really bad idea to give a judge the finger

Put yourself in Penelope Soto's shoes. You're 18 years old and the cops nabbed you for drug possession. You're in a Florida courtroom (it's always Florida in these stories... except when it's Ohio) to face the charges.

How do you act?

Do you attempt to bully the judge, laughing at his words and defiantly running your fingers through your hair? Do you try to avoid answering any questions, even though you're under oath?

If you're Penelope Soto, that's exactly what you do.

Eye 2

Texas man guns down couple over dog poop on his porch

© via KTVT
Police say a 75-year-old man in Dallas is being charged with Capital Murder after he allegedly shot and killed two neighbors because they had dumped dog feces on his porch.

According to The Dallas Morning News, Chung Kim had repeatedly complained to management at Sable Ridge Apartments that Michelle Jackson and Jamie Stafford, who lived above him, had dumped dog feces on his porch and allowed their dog, Selena, to urinate on the upstairs balcony which dripped down to his patio.

Tension finally boiled over on Monday when Kim was on his patio and shot 31-year-old Jackson multiple times as she stood on the patio above him, police said. He then reportedly went upstairs and shot Stafford, who was also 31, as he was trying to escape. After Stafford fell from the second floor, Kim is accused of going back downstairs and shooting him again.


3-year-old South Carolina boy killed after mistaking pink handgun for toy

A 3-year-old boy in Greenville, South Carolina was shot in the head and killed on Friday after he started playing with a pink handgun because he thought it was a toy.

Police responding to the shooting at Haywood Plantation Apartments said that Tmorej Smith was found with a gunshot wound to the head, according to The Associated Press.

Investigators determined that Tmorej and his 7-year-old sister had been playing with a pink handgun when the incident occurred.

Deputy Coroner Jeff Fowler ruled the shooting an accidental homicide.


U.S. prison population seeing "unprecedented increase"

© prisonpath.com
The research wing of the U.S. Congress is warning that three decades of "historically unprecedented" build-up in the number of prisoners incarcerated in the United States have led to a level of overcrowding that is now "taking a toll on the infrastructure" of the federal prison system.

Over the past 30 years, according to a new report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS), the federal prison population has jumped from 25,000 to 219,000 inmates, an increase of nearly 790 percent. Swollen by such figures, for years the United States has incarcerated far more people than any other country, today imprisoning some 716 people out of every 100,000. (Although CRS reports are not made public, a copy can be found here.)

"This is one of the major human rights problems within the United States, as many of the people caught up in the criminal justice system are low income, racial and ethnic minorities, often forgotten by society," Maria McFarland, deputy director for the U.S. programme at Human Rights Watch, told IPS.

In recent years, as a consequence of the imposition of very harsh sentencing policies, McFarland's office has seen new patterns emerging of juveniles and very elderly people being put in prison.

"Last year, some 95,000 juveniles under 18 years of age were put in prison, and that doesn't count those in juvenile facilities," she noted.


YouTube study shows children 'three clicks away from explicit material'

© AFP Photo
Children who view clips of Sesame Street and Peppa Pig on YouTube are on average just three clicks away from explicit adult material on the site, including nudity and violence, according to research.

A study released to mark Safer Internet Day on Tuesday found that graphic footage was available to children who had viewed clips of popular kids' TV programmes.

In one example, YouTube users were two clicks away from footage of a woman giving birth after viewing a Sesame Street video, said the security company Kaspersky, which carried out the research. The list of recommended videos, displayed on the right-hand side of the page after a video has shown, provided a path to the explicit material, the researchers found.

A separate study of 24,000 young people found that 27% of seven- to 11-year-olds and nearly half of 11- to 19-year-olds had come across something they thought was "hurtful or unpleasant" online in the past 12 months.


Record number of Americans buying guns, new FBI figures show

© Photograph: Elaine Thompson/AP
'America is crazy for guns,' says Pam Bosley, mother of a young student shot dead in Chicago. 'We love guns more than life.'
More than 2.4m gun background checks were initiated in January, topped only by last December's 2.7m

Americans are lining up to buy guns in unprecedented numbers in the wake of the Newtown school shooting and the debate around tightening gun controls, with federal background checks on prospective buyers running at record levels.

New figures released by the FBI show that 2,495,440 gun background checks were initiated in January. That is the second highest number since records began in 1998, and is exceeded only by the entry for December 2012, which reached a peak of 2,783,765.

The Newtown shooting, in which 20 young children and six of their school carers were killed in Connecticut, took place on 14 December.

Since 1998, anyone wanting to buy a firearm from a licensed dealer such as a gun shop must undergo a federal background check to ensure that they are not a criminal, mentally ill or otherwise disqualified from ownership. The check is carried out in reference to a national database, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, operated by the FBI.


2 Los Angeles students lose fingers during tug-of-war

Two teenagers whose fingers were severed during a tug-of-war game at a California high school were recovering Tuesday, but it was unclear whether doctors were able to reattach the digits.

The boy and girl, both under age 18, had stable vital signs after undergoing hours of surgery, Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center spokeswoman Rosa Sacca said.

"They're awake and alert. Parents are at their bedsides," she said.

Sacca said she could not release any information on whether surgeons were able to reattach the fingers.

The teens lost four fingers each from their right hand, and the girl also lost the thumb on her left hand, she said.

Bizarro Earth

Sexual encounters allegedly an 'everyday thing' among students at California preschool

© ABC News
A Carson, Calif., preschool is shutting down as allegations of sexual activity between students surfaced.
Sexual encounters between 4- and 5-year-old students were allegedly an "everyday thing" at a private California preschool that is closing its doors after coming under attack for a lack of supervision, the mother of a 5-year-old former student said.

"It's unfathomable on so many levels. For one, that it actually happened. For two, where it happened. For three, how often something happened," the mother of the girl told ABC-owned station in Los Angeles KABC-TV in an exclusive interview.

Some students in the preschool class at the First Lutheran Church of Carson School in Carson, Calif., would engage in oral sex during nap time, in the tunnel slide on the playground and in an outside bathroom, attorney Greg Owen told ABCNews.com.


China one-child policy enforcer runs over baby

Beijing: A Chinese official demanding a couple pay a fine for violating the country's one-child policy crushed their 13-month-old boy to death with a car, a local spokesman said Tuesday.

Under China's population controls, instituted more than 30 years ago, couples who have more than one child must pay a "social upbringing" fine, while in some cases mothers have been forced to undergo abortions.

Authorities in the eastern city of Wenzhou are investigating how the infant ended up beneath the vehicle, a Mayu county official surnamed Zhou told AFP.

"The family was agitated," he said, "After starting the car to bring the family to the office to discuss the matter, the official discovered the child had been crushed underneath the car."