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Shenanigans Friday: April 18, 2013. [18 Apr 2014|07:42pm]



59 got me feeling couture ¤

The US is not a democracy ... [18 Apr 2014|03:28pm]


The US is not a democracy but an oligarchy, study concludes

"The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on US government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence,”

Oligarchy is a form of government in which power is vested in a dominant class and a small group exercises control over the general population.

A new study from Princeton and Northwestern Universities concluded that the U.S. government represents not the interests of the majority of citizens but those of the rich and powerful.

More...Collapse )
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Yorkshire pilot’s Cold War secret revealed [18 Apr 2014|02:38pm]



A former bomber pilot has revealed one of the secrets of the Cold War – exploding chocolate teacakes.

The treats were carried onboard V bombers during the 1960s for crews to eat.

But the Tunnock’s teacakes were banned after they exploded at high altitude.

Former squadron leader Tony Cunnane, 78, who joined the RAF in 1953, said: “Crews would take lots of rations on long flights to snack on.

“One day we were given teacakes by chance and the crew loved them so we asked if we could have more.”

Crews noticed the mallow in the teacakes would expand as the air pressure changed at altitude giving an indication of height.

Experiments on effects of altitude pressure continued until several were left unwrapped on the instrument panel of a V bomber – and exploded on a test flight.

Tony, of Wakefield, added: “We noticed that the teacakes would swell and expand when we reached high altitudes and the chocolate would crack.

“It became a bit of a signal to the crew when the altitude was increasing and during one flight, someone noticed that as the cabin altitude increased above about 15,000 feet, the marshmallow in a teacake would expand.

“Word quickly spread and this discovery kept different crews fascinated for weeks.”

The teacakes were carried on V bombers stationed at Gaydon airbase in Warwick for six weeks during the summer of 1965 before one exploded during a training mission – ending their days as an inflight snack.

A spokesman for Tunnock’s, Britain’s biggest teacake maker, said: “It never ceases to amaze us what people get up to with our products.”

Yorkshire Evening Post
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Phyllis Schlafly Claims Women Paid The Same As Men Won't Find Husbands [17 Apr 2014|07:45pm]



Days after Senate Republicans unanimously blocked a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, Phyllis Schlafly, founder of "pro-family" organization Eagle Forum, claimed that providing women with equal pay for equal work would deter their chances of finding a “suitable mate” in a Christian Post op-ed published Tuesday.

Since a woman prefers to marry a man who makes more money than she does, Schlafly argued, decreasing the gender pay gap would leave women unable to secure a husband.

Schlafly, a longtime opponent of the Equal Rights Amendment, wrote:

"Another fact is the influence of hypergamy, which means that women typically choose a mate (husband or boyfriend) who earns more than she does. Men don't have the same preference for a higher-earning mate.

While women prefer to HAVE a higher-earning partner, men generally prefer to BE the higher-earning partner in a relationship. This simple but profound difference between the sexes has powerful consequences for the so-called pay gap.

Suppose the pay gap between men and women were magically eliminated. If that happened, simple arithmetic suggests that half of women would be unable to find what they regard as a suitable mate."

The conservative activist also noted that women do not deserve equal pay because they "work fewer hours per day, per week, per year” and “place a much higher value on pleasant working conditions: a clean, comfortable, air-conditioned office with congenial co-workers.”

Schlafly concluded that the best way to empower women "is to improve job prospects for the men in their lives, even if that means increasing the so-called pay gap."

Earlier this month, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) defended Republicans’ opposition to equal pay legislation, insisting the GOP has long "led the fight for women's equality." Previously, she voted against the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.

“I find this war on women rhetoric almost silly,” Blackburn said on CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday. “It is Republicans that have led the fight for women’s equality. Go back through history -- and look at who was the first woman to vote, to get elected to office, to go to Congress, four out of five governors.”

By Shadee Ashtari. Posted: 04/15/2014 3:15 pm EDT. Updated: 04/16/2014 10:59 am EDT.

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Heliocentrism is a Jewish Conspiracy! Flat Earth Theory to be Taught in Schools. [17 Apr 2014|12:57am]


Why are geocentrists trying to undo centuries worth of accepted science? (Hint: The Jews)

Most people probably assume the scientific debate over the Earth’s place in the universe has been settled for centuries, but a small group of conspiracy theorists have been quietly pushing the idea that Galileo was wrong.

The Raw Story brought them blinking into the light earlier this week with a report on their plans to release “The Principle,” a film narrated by “Star Trek: Voyager” actress Kate Mulgrew and featuring interviews with several prominent scientists, that questioned the Copernican principle placing the sun at the center of the universe.

Mulgrew and scientist Lawrence Krauss both reacted to the controversy by claiming they’d been duped by the geocentrists — and two of their ideological opponents say the group intends to dupe the public.

The film’s producers deny it promotes geocentrism but instead focuses only on the Copernican principle that lends the movie its name.

“The difference between geocentrism and denying the Copernican principle is not subtle,” said physicist Alec MacAndrew. “In the former case, the claim is that the Earth is stationary at the center of the universe. In the latter case the claim is much more vague – that the Earth is somehow in a privileged or unusual position.”

While he called the geocentric view “utter bunkum,” MacAndrew said the Copernican principle offered “a nice cosmological and philosophical question.”
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[16 Apr 2014|05:06pm]


‘Major Breakthrough’ In Hepatitis C Treatment Is Way Too Expensive For Anyone To Afford

Solvadi, a new drug that can help combat hepatitis C, is being hailed as a “turning point” in the treatment of the liver disease. A new study into the drug treatment found that it cured hepatitis C in more than 90 percent of participants who were previously suffering from an advanced form of the virus. “It is fantastic. I am so excited for the patients. There is finally hope for their future,” the lead researcher said.

There’s just one problem. Solvadi, which is manufactured by Gilead Sciences Inc., is too expensive for most people to afford. It costs $84,000 over the course of 12 weeks of treatment — which works out to be a staggering $1,000 per pill.

That’s particularly concerning considering the fact that the people infected with hepatitis C are disproportionately low-income. More than half of the three million Americans who are living with the virus are veterans, prisoners, uninsured, or covered through Medicaid. So ever since Solvadi was officially approved at the end of December, lawmakers have been worried that it will end up being too big of a big taxpayer burden.

Last month, members of Congress sent a letter to Gilead asking the company to justify its high prices. Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-CA), Frank Pallone Jr. (D-NJ) and Diana DeGette (D-CO) explained they’re concerned “a treatment will not cure patients if they cannot afford it.”

And they’re not the only ones raising concerns. Insurers are also expressing frustration with a system that requires them to pay dearly for breakthrough drugs. Kaiser Permanente, one of the country’s biggest not-for-profit plans, has called Solvadi’s price “outrageous.” Industry officials told the San Francisco Chronicle that “there’s some component of this that’s touched a nerve” and “the payer community is frustrated to the point to where they believe this could actually break the system.”

The controversy has stretched beyond the United States’ borders, too. About 150 million people around the world are infected with hepatitis C, and it’s an issue that’s more prevalent in developing nations. Those countries are working with Doctors Without Borders to secure a more affordable price for Solvadi. Last week, the World Health Organization called for a “concerted effort” to lower the price of the drug to ensure that it’s accessible to everyone who needs treatment.

Gilead officials have defended their pricing, pointing out that the drug will save money in the long run by curing people of the hepatitis C virus. Gregg Alton, the company’s executive vice president of corporate and medical affairs, recently said that Gilead is “very committed” to making sure that people can afford Solvadi, but also that “we think the price is fair. It’s a one-time cost that is your lifetime cost.”

On the other hand, liver specialists have expressed concerns that it’s possible some low-income people may die before they’re able to afford the pricey medication. The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has spearheaded several protests against Gilead, condemning the “unbridled greed of the pharmaceutical industry.”

Prescription drug prices are a persistent issue in the American medical industry, particularly because pharmaceutical giants often resist introducing more competition into the market. The cost of brand name medications has skyrocketed over the past several years, and struggling Americans have been forced to cut back on their medications because they can’t afford them. Meanwhile, Big Pharma companies are raking in big profits, even at expense of expanding access to life-saving drugs. Fortunately, there are some signs that a few Solvadi competitors may be on the horizon, which could eventually help drive down the cost.


OP: "recently said that Gilead is “very committed” to making sure that people can afford Solvadi..." How can they even say that? 1k a PILL makes Gilead "very committed" to keeping prices affordable? Dear god, I'd be scared to find out what they'd consider unreasonable pricing. I guess that would probably go more in the 'sell organs on the black market' sort of expensive (probably the liver.)
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Finland to feature homoerotic bondage art on their stamps, starting September [15 Apr 2014|03:11pm]


The United States has some pretty cool stamps and, once the Harvey Milk stamp is released next month, at least one commemorating an openly LGBTQ American. But it’s difficult to imagine a future where America’s stamps are as amazingly, graphically gay as Finland’s. This fall, the country will begin selling stamps that feature the “confident and proud homoeroticism” of Tom of Finland, an artist renowned as “beyond question the most influential creator of gay pornographic illustration.”

Itella Posti Oy, the Finnish equivalent of U.S.P.S., boasts that Tom of Finland—also known as Touko Laaksonen—is “considered one of the most well-known Finnish artists around the world”:

His emphatically masculine homoerotic drawings have attained iconic status in their genre and had an influence on, for instance, pop culture and fashion. In his works, Tom of Finland utilized the self-irony and humor typical of subcultures. … The drawings on the stamp sheet represent strong and confident male figures typical of their designer.

The release of the stamps will coincide with an exhibition of Laaksonen’s work at Finland’s Postal Museum. To select which of Laaksonen’s more than 3,500 drawings would appear on the stamps, Posti consulted graphic artist Timo Berry as well as Susanna Luoto, the Finnish representative of the Tom of Finland Foundation, which is “dedicat[ed] to protecting, preserving and promoting erotic art.”

To commemorate the centenary of beloved bisexual writer and artist Tove Jansson, Posti is also selling Jansson stamps—though they aren't quite as exuberantly queer as the Tom of Finland collection.

Oddly, Finland isn’t notably LGBTQ-friendly; gay marriage has yet to be legalized, and citizens can only legally change their gender if they are surgically sterilized. (Before you gasp, note that 16 other European countries require the same.)
Personally, I’d take marriage equality and reproductive freedom over gay bondage stamps. But if gay Finns can only get half a loaf, I guess this isn’t a terrible half to have.

source: Slate has pictures. NSFW at all.

more info on Finnish postal website

for those that can't look at pictures at work, the full image is shown on the stamp sheet in all its glory. The stamps themselves are only portions of the full image and thus less explicit. somewhat. But not by much. I expect some countries may send mail back to Finnland if they have those stamps, so they may not work so well as STAMPS. but I'm sure they'll be super popular to collect.
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South Korea ferry: Hundreds missing as ship sinks [16 Apr 2014|08:22pm]


Almost 300 people remain unaccounted for after a ferry carrying 459 people capsized and sank off South Korea.
The ferry, carrying mainly school students, was travelling from the port of Incheon, in the north-west, to the southern resort island of Jeju.

Emergency teams are using floodlights and flares to search the stricken vessel through the night. Those rescued have been taken to a nearby island.

Four people are now said to have died and dozens of others have been hurt.

South Korean officials had earlier said that 368 people had been plucked to safety, but later said there had been a counting error.

They have now revised down the number rescued to 174.

Images showed the ferry listing at a severe angle and then later almost completely submerged, with only a small part of its hull visible. It sank within two hours of sending a distress signal, reports said.

There are fears this could turn out to be South Korea's biggest maritime disaster for more than 20 years, says the BBC's Martin Patience in Seoul.

Cause unclear
Several coast guard, military and commercial vessels were involved in the rescue effort, which unfolded rapidly on Wednesday morning.

Pictures from the scene showed rescue teams balanced on the sinking hull pulling teenagers from cabin windows. Some of their classmates jumped into the sea as the ship went down.

Reports suggest some of those rescued were picked up by nearby commercial vessels.

The US Navy has sent an amphibious assault ship, the USS Bonhomme Richard, to assist with the search, officials say.

Teams of navy divers were now searching the scene for those unaccounted for, officials said, but the work was challenging.

"There is so much mud in the sea water and the visibility is very low," said Lee Gyeong-og, vice-minister of security and public administration.

One body, of a female crew member, had been recovered from the ship, the coastguard said. Another person, a male high school student, died after being rescued.

One student told local media her friends became trapped.

"Currently, I am in the middle of being rescued. At the time, the ship was turning on its side, and none of us were moving as we were told not to move as it was dangerous," the unnamed student said.

"So, I am not well aware of the situation, but I am told that my friends and other friends could not escape as the passage was blocked. It seems that there are many students who could not get out as the passage was blocked by water."

It is not yet clear what caused the incident, but witnesses described hearing an impact, before the ship listed and quickly sank.

One passenger told the YTN news channel: "We heard a big thumping sound and the boat stopped."

"The boat is tilting and we have to hold on to something to stay seated," the passenger said.

Another passenger said the ship was "shaking and tilting", with people tripping and bumping into each other.

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Kid uses Apple iPad to record bullying, ends up busted for illegal wiretapping [15 Apr 2014|04:51pm]



The saying "Man plans, God laughs," never applied so perfectly as to the predicament that befell a high-school sophomore in Pennsylvania. After complaining to his mom about being bullied in school, he decided to obtain some proof. Using the Apple iPad given to him by the school, he planned to make an audio recording of his persecution.

The plan worked like a charm as our hero was able to record sounds of his daily verbal torture. Students were recorded making fun of him, which included some rude comments. While it appeared that there was no physical interaction, one of the bullies pretended to hit the sophomore just to scare him. The mother heard the recording, and as you would expect, she went ballistic. She set up a meeting with the principal, but here is where the story takes a wrong turn.

Yes, the principal called the cops, but not on the bullies. He arranged to have the iPad wielding sophomore arrested for felony wiretapping, explaining that the recording was made in a place where the other students expected privacy.

The kid had his day in court, and while the charges were lowered to disorderly conduct, he was found guilty by District Judge Maureen McGraw-Desmet. The bullies? They got off scot free and were never punished. The kid's attorney says that he is appealing the verdict.

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Statue Of A Homeless Jesus Startles A Wealthy Community [15 Apr 2014|03:08pm]



A new religious statue in the town of Davidson, N.C., is unlike anything you might see in church.

The statue depicts Jesus as a vagrant sleeping on a park bench. St. Alban's Episcopal Church installed the homeless Jesus statue on its property in the middle of an upscale neighborhood filled with well-kept townhomes.

Jesus is huddled under a blanket with his face and hands obscured; only the crucifixion wounds on his uncovered feet give him away.

The reaction was immediate. Some loved it; some didn't.

"One woman from the neighborhood actually called police the first time she drove by," says David Boraks, editor of "She thought it was an actual homeless person."

That's right. Somebody called the cops on Jesus.

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we can has Pope Francis tag, plaeze?
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White supermacist facing murder charges for Kansas City area Jewish center shootings [15 Apr 2014|02:34pm]


OVERLAND PARK, Kansas - Kansas prosecutors filed state-level murder charges Tuesday against the white supremacist accused in shootings that left three people dead at two Jewish community sites in suburban Kansas City.

Frazier Glenn Cross has been charged with one count of capital murder for the deaths of a 14-year-old boy and his grandfather outside the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said at a news conference. Cross also faces one count of first-degree, premeditated murder for the death of a woman who was gunned down while visiting her mother at a nearby retirement complex.

The capital murder charge carries the death penalty as possible punishment, Howe said, while the first-degree murder charge carries a life sentence with no chance for parole for at least 25 years. Cross is being held on $10 million bond, and is scheduled to appear in court later Tuesday.

Cross, a 73-year-old Vietnam War veteran from southwest Missouri, founded the Carolina Knights of the Ku Klux Klan in his native North Carolina and later the White Patriot Party.

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The IPCC's message is clear: it's the end of business as usual for fossil fuel users [14 Apr 2014|05:48pm]



The IPCC's message is clear: it's the end of business as usual for fossil fuel users

The UN's climate change panel is unambiguous – we need to make huge policy changes to wean ourselves off CO2 producers

greenhouse gases wind turbines
'There will be no single solution across the world but the expansion of renewable energy is likely to be ubiquitous.'

Frightening truths under the cut...Collapse )
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Police being taught to spot signs of psychiatric crisis [13 Apr 2014|10:09am]


NORRISTOWN, Pa. (AP) — When a 6-foot-5, 270-pound man with a history of violence broke out of a mental health ward near Philadelphia and tried to withdraw money from a bank, a confrontation with police seemed likely.
Related Stories

But Lower Merion Township police officer Matthew Freind used his mental health training to calmly talk to the man and defuse the crisis.

"No force was necessary," Freind said. "He thanked me. He said, 'You're the only person that's ever truly listened to me.' That was a situation where things could've gotten out of hand very quickly."

Sometimes they do, especially if police aren't trained how to respond to the severely mentally ill.
Dozens of people with mental illnesses die in run-ins with police every year.Collapse )

Source approves so much of this sort of training program. I work in the Services division of a Police department that is both the campus police for a major University and a major hospital, so we frequently deal with people who are not thinking clearly in some capacity. Sometimes, it is a student who is intoxicated or under the influence. More often, it is someone in the midst of a psychiatric crisis. Our officers need to be able to deal with all these difficult situations, and recognize when someone is in need of help rather than punishment or arrest. I hope more and more departments adopt measures to teach their officers how to handle these difficult situations. I think the exercise of having the officer try to follow commands while several people whisper and babble in their ears is really interesting.
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Funds For Investigating Rapes Blocked By Tennessee State Repubicans [12 Apr 2014|09:07pm]


Tennessee Republicans Shoot Down $2 Million For Untested Rape Kits, Some Going Back To 1980s

Tennessee state Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R) said now is not the time to give money to clear the backlog of untested rape kits

WASHINGTON -- The Republican majority in the Tennessee state Senate voted this week against a Democratic amendment that would allocate $2 million to start clearing the state's backlog of untested rape kits, arguing that the state must first do a full accounting of all the untested kits.

On Thursday, state Sen. Jim Kyle (D-Memphis) proposed an amendment to the state budget that would have set aside funds for processing rape kits. The money would have come from the General Assembly's reserve account -- money that was allocated in previous years but not spent. There's about $40 million there right now.

State lawmakers voted 22-8 to table the amendment until next year, with two Republicans joining the six minority Democrats.

Untested rape kits are a major problem. In Memphis, Tenn., alone, there are more than 12,000 untested rape kits going back to the 1980s, according to the Rape Kit Action Project. It's estimated that there are more than 400,000 rape kits nationwide that still need to be processed.Collapse )

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Creationist Politicians in S.C. Muck Up Bill to Make Columbian Mammoth the Official State Fossil [12 Apr 2014|10:27am]



The Columbian Mammoth gets caught in the crossfire of the culture wars

The Columbian Mammoth is about to become an official state symbol of South Carolina, but its path to the limelight was long and fraught with controversy. Let’s see if you can guess why. Here's the text of the bill that made it official:

Section 1-1-712A. The Columbian Mammoth, which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field, is designated as the official State Fossil of South Carolina and must be officially referred to as the 'Columbian Mammoth', which was created on the Sixth Day with the other beasts of the field.

This is actually the watered-down version of the bill; one version, proposed earlier, made even more explicit references to the role of a divine creator in the mammoth's history.

This all started when an 8-year-old suggested that the Columbian mammoth become South Carolina’s state fossil. Olivia McConnell had some good reasoning behind her suggestion: Mammoth teeth found in a South Carolina swamp in 1725 were the first vertebrate fossils identified in North America.Collapse )

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VA GOP candidate: No incest exception for abortion because sometimes it’s ‘voluntary’ [12 Apr 2014|08:16am]


A Republican candidate running for an open seat in Congress representing Virginia has defended his stance against abortion in all cases by stating that even incest can sometimes be “voluntary,” according to The Washington Times.

So much revolting douchebaggery I can't even....Collapse )
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Shenanigans Friday: April 11, 2013. [11 Apr 2014|09:26pm]



78 got me feeling couture ¤

Pope Francis asks forgiveness for priests who sexually abused children [11 Apr 2014|09:41am]


(CNN) -- Pope Francis made his strongest condemnation yet of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy on Friday, asking for forgiveness and pledging to impose penalties on "men of the church" who harm children.

"I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil which some priests -- quite a few in number, obviously not compared to the number of all the priests -- to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children," the Pope said in remarks quoted by Vatican Radio.

"The church is aware of this damage, it is personal, moral damage carried out by men of the church, and we will not take one step backward with regards to how we will deal with this problem, and the sanctions that must be imposed," Francis continued.

"On the contrary, we have to be even stronger. Because you cannot interfere with children."
The U.S.-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said it may be the first time a pope has spoken of sanctioning "complicit bishops."

"But that is all it is: talk," said Barbara Dorris, SNAP's outreach director.
"We beg the world's Catholics: Be impressed by deeds, not words. Until the Pope takes decisive action that protects kids, be skeptical and vigilant."

Read more...Collapse )

Source at CNN
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Has Twitter’s Hashtag Activism Jumped The Shark? [11 Apr 2014|05:46pm]



Via its Twitter account, magazine Marie Claire posted an image of Kendall Jenner in braids and declared them “new” and “epic.” The brand immediately received backlash, mostly comedic and largely from Black women who have been wearing cornrows and braids long before Jenner was born. The protests against Marie Claire’s casual erasure of black cultural influence were registered as “outrage,” which is hyperbolic and incendiary, and speaks to the larger issues of hashtag and outrage fatigue on social media.

Twitter’s hashtags have become a significant part of social and news media. They have moved beyond the social network and help shape conversations around everything from world events to late night talk show fodder. News sites aggregate tweets for responses to current events. In the last four years, more people have begun to use Twitter and its hashtags as tools of social justice, leading to the term “hashtag activism” and its gradual backlash. The majority of Twitter users are non-white, which is reflected in the number of popular topics that reflect concerns dealing with race, sex, the intersection of the two, and culture appropriation.

As surely as Twitter’s hashtags can leave an organization like Susan G. Kormen for the Cure or a celebrity like Paula Deen scrambling for image control, they also leave others wondering about their effectiveness, especially in light of the recent #CancelColbert campaign. There are rumors that Twitter is looking to move beyond hashtags, and it doesn’t seem unreasonable to question if various hashtag campaigns, their successes, and their backlash are influencing this possible decision. However, to be fair, questions about the use of hashtags have been floating around for a while now. Whatever one’s thoughts are about hashtags and hashtag activism, they can garner results, and Twitter’s majority users — people of color — take advantage of them to form communities of protest and humor.

Perhaps the main casualty in the various Twitter wars is that of nuance.Collapse )


is there a "posted for mocking purposes" tag
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New Rule Prohibits Voters In Miami-Dade County From Using The Restroom, No Matter How Long The Line [11 Apr 2014|09:18am]



During the 2012 presidential election, voters reportedly waited on line for upwards of six hours. That wait alone is enough to deter would-be voters from going to the polls. But now residents in Florida’s most populous county will have another disincentive: they won’t be able to go to the bathroom.

Earlier this year, the Miami-Dade County Elections Department quietly implemented a policy to close the bathrooms at all polling facilities, according to disability rights lawyer Marc Dubin. Dubin said the policy change was in “direct response” to an inquiry to the Elections Department about whether they had assessed accessibility of polling place bathrooms to those with disabilities.

“I was expecting them to say either yes we have or yes we will,” Dubin said.

Instead, he received a written response announcing that the county would close all restrooms at polling places “to ensure that individuals with disabilities are not treated unfairly,” a January email stated. “[T]he Department’s policy is not to permit access to restrooms at polling sites on election days,” Assistant County Attorney Shanika Graves said in a Feb. 14 email. Elections Department officials did not immediately respond to ThinkProgress inquiries.

Read more...Collapse )

Source at ThinkProgress.
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