Welcome to Sott.net
Thu, 23 Mar 2023
The World for People who Think

Society's Child


Rape in South Africa: Still All Too Common

SA Protest
© Flickr/Creative Common
South African media reported the horrifying details of the viral video that has shocked the world: a 17-year-old, mentally disabled girl being raped by seven men in a Johannesburg township.

She screams: "You are forcing me, you are forcing me."

The 10-minute cellphone video spread like wildfire until a tabloid paper alerted police on April 17. (Disclaimer: This reporter has not watched the video or searched for it online because it is child pornography. Officials have not said how many people have seen the video. Police have arrested suspects in the case.)

This is shocking. But in South Africa, it's less shocking than you might expect. A study (pdf) from the Medical Research Council found that more than 1 in 4 South African men have admitted to raping a girl or woman. More than 56,000 rapes were reported (pdf) to police, but the government group suspects that the actual incidence of rape is 25 times that number. That's 1,400,000 people -- roughly the population of Phoenix -- each year. By comparison, the U.S. Census Bureau said in 2012 that there were some 81,000 rapes or attempted rapes (pdf) in the U.S. in 2009, the last year for which the bureau gives figures -- in a country with more than six times the population of South Africa.

More worrying, the MRC's research into gender violence stretches back years, and it doesn't show that attitudes have changed much. Back in 1998 the group warned ominously (pdf) that "there needs to be a change in attitudes amongst all members in the community toward the 'normality' and inevitability of male use of force in relationships involving people of all ages."

The video drew condemnation from Lulu Xingwana, South Africa's minister for women, children and people with disabilities -- but her comments seemed to focus more on the evidence than on the crime. "This despicable crime does not belong to our free and democratic society," said Xingwana in a statement. She then reminded all South Africans that "distributing pornographic material is a criminal offense."

But women's-rights advocates say that this is not a lone incident and that the blame traces back to South Africa's potent history of repression. Lisa Vetten, executive director of the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre, says that the position of women has not improved despite South Africa's post apartheid laws.

Comment: Please read the Sott Focus: Losing Femininity in the Elusive Search for Kansas for more information on Women's rights , violence against women and gender inequality.


Atheists More Motivated by Compassion than the Faithful

© Ary Scheffer (1795–1858).
Mary Magdalene
Atheists and agnostics are more driven by compassion to help others than are highly religious people, a new study finds.

That doesn't mean highly religious people don't give, according to the research to be published in the July 2012 issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. But compassion seems to drive religious people's charitable feelings less than it other groups.

"Overall, we find that for less religious people, the strength of their emotional connection to another person is critical to whether they will help that person or not," study co-author and University of California, Berkeley social psychologist Robb Willer said in a statement. "The more religious, on the other hand, may ground their generosity less in emotion, and more in other factors such as doctrine, a communal identity, or reputational concerns."


Dark Days: Bill Nye Boo'd In Texas For Saying The Moon Reflects The Sun

bill nye
Bill Nye, the harmless children's edu-tainer known as "The Science Guy," managed to offend a select group of adults in Waco, Texas at a presentation, when he suggested that the moon does not emit light, but instead reflects the light of the sun.

As even most elementary-school graduates know, the moon reflects the light of the sun but produces no light of its own.

But don't tell that to the good people of Waco, who were "visibly angered by what some perceived as irreverence," according to the Waco Tribune.

Heart - Black

Sickening: Mother suspected of putting household bleach in toddler's eyes


When a little girl arrived at the Seattle Children's ER last year with swelling in her eyes and sensitivity to light, doctors sent her to the Opthalmology department. The 13-month-old was treated for a scratched cornea and a mild infection and sent home. But she didn't get better. It was weeks before the horrible truth about her injuries was revealed.
A Pierce County woman faces possible child abuse charges for putting household bleach in her child's eye medication. A Pierce County woman is charged with assault of a child in the first degree for allegedly putting bleach in her toddler's eye drops, causing what will likely be permanent eye damage.

The 13-month-old girl arrived at the emergency room at Seattle Children's Hospital last year with swelling in her eyes, sensitivity to light, scratched corneas and a mild infection. She was sent to the Opthalmology Department, treated and sent home. But she didn't get better. It was weeks before the horrible truth about her injuries was revealed.
Over the following days and weeks, the child's parents repeatedly brought the toddler back to Children's. She was given the standard treatment, including antibiotics and eyedrops, for a common problem. Still, she didn't improve.

Childrens' chief of opthalmology, Doctor Avery Weiss says with each visit, they did more diagnostic work and even quizzed the mother. "I'm sure we asked her, 'What are you putting on the eye?'" recalled Weiss. Her answer, "The antibiotics that you prescribed."

Arrow Down

Fear as UK manufacturing slows sharply

Export orders for Britain's manufacturers have collapsed at their fastest rate in almost three years, a key survey has found, raising fresh fears about the state of the economy.
© Unknown
Manufacturing output expanded for the fifth consecutive month in April, but at the weakest pace since December.

Poor export orders pulled activity in the UK's key manufacturing industry down to its slowest rate of growth in four months in April, according to the closely-watched purchasing managers' index (PMI), as companies reported fewer orders across the board - from Europe, the US and Asia.

Foreign demand for British goods has now deteriorated for two of the past three months as export orders dropped at their fastest pace since May 2009. The sharp decline in exports caused total new order books to shrink for the first time in five months.

The overall PMI reading fell from 51.9 to 50.5 for April, worse than forecasts of a decline to just 51.5 and the slowest pace of expansion since December.
© Markit/Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply

Economists said the figures, from Markit and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply, came as a blow following the economy's slide back into recession in the first quarter.

Light Sabers

Euro 2012 faces diplomatic crisis over Ukraine's jailed opposition leader

Germany leads west European and EU states threatening to boycott football tournament unless Yulia Tymoshenko is released

The 2012 European Championships were heading towards a diplomatic fiasco on Monday after more EU leaders said they would join Germany in a boycott of the event next month unless Ukraine freed the opposition leader, Yulia Tymoshenko.

On Sunday, Angela Merkel said that she and her cabinet would not attend any games played in Ukraine, which is co-hosting the tournament with Poland, unless the human rights situation under President Viktor Yanukovych improved.

On Monday, the president of the European commission, José Manuel Barroso, and Viviane Reding, the commissioner for justice, said they would not be travelling to Ukraine either. The Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, announced he was cancelling a visit to Yalta, while Germany's president, Joachim Gauck, called off a trip to the same central European leaders' summit last week.

An European commission spokeswoman said that "as things stand" Barroso had "no intention of going" to Euro 2012. She described Tymoshenko's predicament as "a very, very serious situation". "It gives rise to very serious concern," she added.


Censored: ISPs Ordered to Block the Pirate Bay

© Unknown
The Pirate Bay Logo
Looks like the Pirate Bay ship is sailing away from the UK.

British courts have ruled that internet service providers in the United Kingdom must block file-sharing site The Pirate Bay. Back in February, a British High Court ruling found that TPB and users of the service breach copyright on a major scale. Justice Arnold of the British High Court ruled that TPB went "far beyond merely enabling or assisting" copyright infringement. Now it seems access to The Pirate Bay will soon be blocked by ISPs across the country.

The BBC reports that today's ruling orders five major UK ISPs to block subscribers from accessing TPB. Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media will all have to block The Pirate Bay while British Telecom has asked for more time to review the situation. The case is a massive win for the music and entertainment industry as a whole but particularly for the British Phonographic Industry, which requested that the ISPs voluntarily block TPB late last year.

"The High Court has confirmed that The Pirate Bay infringes copyright on a massive scale," the BBC cites BPI as saying in a statement today. "Its operators line their pockets by commercially exploiting music and other creative works without paying a penny to the people who created them. This is wrong - musicians, sound engineers and video editors deserve to be paid for their work just like everyone else."

Speaking about the decision, a spokesperson for the Pirate Party UK said that today's ruling was a step toward web censorship in the UK.

"Unfortunately, the move to order blocking on The Pirate Bay comes as no surprise," Loz Kaye told the BBC. "The truth is that we are on a slippery slope towards internet censorship here in the United Kingdom."

The order to block The Pirate Bay follows similar proceedings that saw access to another file-sharing site, Newzbin2, blocked. ISPs were last year ordered to block access to Newzbin2 following a ruling from Mr Justice Arnold, the same judge that presided over today's Pirate Bay case.


Fascist Golden Dawn Aiming High in Greek Elections


Golden Dawn is looking to take advantage of Greeks' disillusionment of mainstream parties
The boxes are packed with warm clothes, the plastic bags full of long-life food. There is even a teddy bear in tow. All sit piled in a rickety blue van, winding its way through Athens to be delivered to the Greek capital's needy.

Behind the aid is not a humanitarian organisation but Greece's ultranationalist party, Chrysi Avgi - or Golden Dawn. Their critics call them violent extremists. But they are keen to show off their soft side - and it wins votes.

One of the recipients is 76-year-old Katerina Karousi. She breaks down in tears as she talks of battling with cancer.

"Why not vote for Golden Dawn?" she asks. "They're helping us, so I should give them something in return."

But beyond the benevolent facade is a party that strikes fear into many here. With a virulent anti-immigrant line, Golden Dawn are often labelled neo-Nazis.

Better Earth

Protesters out for May Day rallies

© Lefteris Pitarakis/AP
Workers and activists rally on May Day.
Protesters across the world hit the streets Tuesday on May Day to rally against austerity measures and call for higher wages and more jobs. In the United States, the protests are seen as the biggest test for the Occupy movement since many of its camps were shuttered late last year.

Occupiers in more than 100 cities across the country were expected to protest on the day that traditionally celebrates workers' rights.

Demonstrators in New York will hold a "free university" and a "Guitarmy" will lead a march; in Nashville, they will hold a torchlight procession to commemorate worker struggles and victories; and in Oakland, they plan to occupy Child Protective Services and picket business associations.

"We've got hundreds of people out already and I know a lot of people are going to be trickling in as the day goes along. We've had pickets at the Bank of America, Chase, Disney," Mark Bray of the Occupy Wall Street PR team said as protesters chanted "We are the 99 percent" in the background. "(The) mood is very spirited, the rain is lightening up... ."

Dorian Warren, an assistant professor of political science at Columbia University, said he thought Tuesday would be the "biggest test since the fall of where Occupy is."


Entrapment: Five arrested in bridge bombing plot

© Unknown
The FBI is displaying this map in the room where it will apparently announce the arrests of five people in connection [an alleged plot to blow up a bridge.]
Five people, claiming to be anarchists, have been arrested in Cleveland for trying to blow up a four-lane bridge across the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The public was never in danger from the devices, according to Fox News. The explosive devices were inoperable and controlled by an undercover FBI agent. Charges were against the suspects were filed Tuesday morning in Cleveland.

Douglas Wright, 26, Brandon Baxter, 20, and Anthony Hayne, 35, were arrested Monday and charged with conspiracy and attempted use of explosive material to damage physical property affecting interstate commerce, according to WEWS-NewsNet5 in Cleveland. Two other men, Connor Stevens, 20, and Joshua Stafford, 23, were also arrested, but not charged, the station reported.

The suspects were targeting the state Route 82 bridge that spans the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, according to WEWS. The suspects had bought fake explosives and placed them near the bridge Monday. The suspects were arrested after 9 p.m. Monday, the station reports.

The suspects had considered a series of plots over several months. Among the alternative targets was the Veteran's Memorial Bridge, according to WEWS. One of the suspects, Wright, had talked about driving a car into the Federal Reserve Bank to blow it up, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

The FBI's Cleveland office is displaying a photo of the apparent bridge in question, according to WEWS-NewsNet5 in Cleveland. The state Route 82 bridge is in Brecksville, south of Cleveland.

Comment: "The suspects had bought fake explosives and placed them near the bridge Monday." From who did they buy the explosives? The "undercover FBI agent" who knew the "explosive devices were inoperable" seems most likely.