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Welcome to the Overnight News Digest (OND) for Tuesday, March 4, 2014.

OND is a regular community feature on Daily Kos, consisting of news stories from around the world, sometimes coupled with a daily theme, original research or commentary.  Editors of OND impart their own presentation styles and content choices, typically publishing near 12:00AM Eastern Time.

Creation and early water-bearing of the OND concept came from our very own Magnifico - proper respect is due.


This diary is named for its "Hump Point" video: Let It Go by Jimmy Fallon, Idina Menzel and The Roots

News below Aunt Flossie's hairdo . . .

Please feel free to browse and add your own links, content or thoughts in the Comments section.

Any timestamps shown are relative to each publication.


Top News
McDonalds says wages could rise

By (BBC)
Fast food giant McDonalds has said that growing concerns over income inequality may force it to raise its wages.

It said the public focus on the issue "may intensify" over the coming months.

. . .

Fast food workers across the US have been demanding that the minimum wage in the sector should be raised to $15 per hour.

In December, workers in the fast food industry held strikes in 100 cities across the US.

The firm warned that such strikes "can adversely affect us or the suppliers, franchisees and others that are also part of the McDonalds system and whose performance has a material impact on our results".

NYC's free nicotine patch and gum helped 300,000 smokers quit

By (UPI)
A New York woman whose tobacco use caused the amputations of her foot, leg and some fingers, says the city smoking cessation program helped her quit.

The woman, only identified as Marie, said she was diagnosed in her early 40s with a disease caused by smoking, She has been smoke free since 2006 when she called the city's annual nicotine patch and gum program.

. . .

Eligible enrollees in the nicotine patch and gum program will receive a NYC Quits Kit booklet and as much as a four-week supply of free patches and/or gum depending on number of cigarettes smoked daily.

In addition, enrollees will receive follow up calls from the Quitline, as well as a relapse prevention email.

. . .

To coincide with the patch and gum giveaway, the New York City Health Department is scheduled to run a series of powerful television ads featuring Marie.

That old, rusty underwater pipeline? Nothing to worry about!

By Eve Andrews
. . .

To stave off disaster, Michiganians are loudly voicing their concerns about a section of oil pipeline that runs along the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac, a five-mile-wide body of water separating the upper peninsula of Michigan from the rest of the state, and conjoining Lakes Michigan and Huron. Called Line 5, the segment, part of a pipeline built in 1953, has undergone minimal repairs in the past 60+ years. As production from Alberta’s tar sands has soared over recent years, many are beginning to question whether Line 5 can handle more of that oil. Pipeline owner Enbridge expanded the line’s capacity by about 10 percent last year, to nearly 23 million gallons per day. The National Wildlife Federation released a video in October 2013 showing broken supports that suggest corrosion along Line 5, and is demanding that it be replaced entirely.

. . .
Enbridge already has a bad rep in Michigan after one of its pipelines burst in 2010 and poured over a million gallons of tar-sands oil into the Kalamazoo River watershed. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, that little oopsie was the costliest pipeline disaster in the nation’s history – and, because tar-sands oil is far more difficult to clean up than the standard variety,  the cleanup is still going on three and a half years later.

The Straits of Mackinac epitomizes a potential worst-case scenario for a pipeline accident: an iconic waterway, ecologically and economically significant, that could be fiendishly hard to clean up because of swift currents and deep water that’s often covered with ice several months a year.
Barrett Brown legal motion: linking is protected by the First Amendment

By Cory Doctorow
Kevin writes, "A motion just filed by the defense in Barrett Brown's case makes the argument that merely linking to information which is already publicly available should be protected by the First Amendment. The government has charged Brown with multiple counts of fraud and identity theft for copy and pasting a link from one chat-room to another. The URL pointed to data that was obtained during the late-2011 hack of Stratfor and the unextracted file happened to contain some credit card numbers."
As Hanni Fakhoury at the EFF has pointed out, this case would establish a precedent that "equat[es] the posting or sharing of a link with possessing the underlying information." If allowed to proceed it would criminalize a large swath of Internet behavior. . .
US judge rejects $9bn ruling against Chevron

By (Al Jazeera)
A US judge has upheld Chevron's allegations that an Ecuadorian court decision ordering it to pay $9.5bn for oil pollution in the Amazon jungle was fraudulently obtained.

. . .

Kaplan said Steven Donziger, the New York lawyer who has represented the Ecuadorian plaintiffs since the 1990s, and his allies secretly paid off the authors of an ostensibly independent report on the pollution damages that was requested by the court.

. . .

Kaplan's ruling bars the Ecuadorian plaintiffs from enforcing Ecuador's ruling in a US court, and said his decision bars Donziger and some allies in the case "from profiting in any way from the egregious fraud that occurred here".

. . .

Han Shan, a spokesman for Ecuadorian villagers, said they would continue to press to enforce the Ecuadorian ruling in other countries where Chevron does business. Chevron has no significant assets in Ecuador.

"The affected communities long ago gave up hope that a US court would provide them relief from Chevron's contamination, which has taken their loved ones, poisoned their lands, and imperilled their cultures," he said.

Secularism on the decline in France

By Emma-Kate Symons
. . .

With mayoral elections one month away, the country’s ruling socialists are worrying about mass abstentions and voters turning to the far right in protest against President François Hollande, who has failed to reduce high unemployment — still stuck at about 11 percent — as he promised.

 The appeal of previously fringe political organizations and ideologies is dragging the birthplace of revolution further from national republican ideals. Not only are liberté, égalité, fraternité (liberty, equality, fraternity) under threat, but also laicité – the republican value of secularism enshrined in France’s 1905 law separating church and state.

. . .

A new IFOP survey shows extremist ideologies are becoming normalized in France, home to Europe’s largest minority population of both Muslims and Jews. Fifty-five percent of French citizens agree with the FN that there are ‘too many immigrants’ and that Muslims have ‘too many rights,’ according to the survey.

. . .

 Sometimes members of the extreme right and Islamic extremists unite. Fundamentalist Muslims have joined forces with ultra-conservative Catholics, some of them staunch FN supporters, to oppose what they claim is the imposition of gender theory in the French primary school curriculum.

Court in Egypt bans Palestinian group Hamas

By (BBC)
A court in Egypt has banned all activities by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas and ordered the seizure of its offices and assets.

A lawsuit filed by an Egyptian lawyer had demanded the move because of its links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

. . .

Hamas, which governs the neighbouring Gaza Strip, was founded in the 1980s as an offshoot of the Brotherhood and the groups have close ties.

Since the overthrow of Mr Morsi, the authorities in Cairo have accused Hamas of interfering in Egyptian affairs and conspiring with jihadist militants based in the northern Sinai peninsula who have carried out attacks on government and security forces personnel, killing hundreds.

Looking for signs of life in Tomioka

By (Al Jazeera)
. . .

Triggered by an earthquake and tsunami, Japan was battered by the March 2011 disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima nuclear power plant north of Tokyo. It was the world's worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.

One of Tomioka's three zones is still so highly contaminated with radiation that officials allow only one six-hour visit per month, and that requires a special permit.

. . .

Signs of tsunami damage are still apparent on houses, the fishing port and fractured roads, but with so much radioactive debris to gather, perhaps a busted train station leading to a ghost town or a few dozen upturned cars isn't all that important.

. . .

Shinya Takehara, vice-chief of the Tomioka revitalisation department, told Al Jazeera so far only property owners south of the Tomioka River - which represents one-third of the town's total area - have been contacted with requests allowing workers to wash and decontaminate their homes and property.

. . .

Tomioka will need an estimated 3,000 people to decontaminate the two less-contaminated zones by the end of March 2017. There is no estimate for when the most contaminated zone will be habitable.

Report reveals 'extensive' violence against women in EU

By Jane Martinson
Violence against women is "an extensive human rights abuse" across Europe with one in three women reporting some form of physical or sexual abuse since the age of 15 and 8% suffering abuse in the last 12 months, according to the largest survey of its kind on the issue, published on Wednesday.

. . .

The FRA study provides ample evidence of the size of the problem, as well as suggestions on how to fix it. In a foreword to the report, Kjaerum calls for all member states to sign and ratify the Council of Europe Istanbul convention, which demands more protection for women, as well as action from private and public organisations. "Action to combat violence against women needs to come from different quarters – employers, health professionals and internet service providers."

. . .

The report's authors also urge special preventive and awareness programmes for young women who are "particularly vulnerable to victimisation" as well as a focus on men, who "need to be positively engaged in initiations that confront how some men use violence against women".

The report echoes a smaller study carried out last year by the World Health Organisation, which found that physical or sexual violence is a public health problem that affects more than one third of all women globally.

USA Politics, Economy, Major Events
Immigration Reform Is Dead Because of Bizarro Obama

By Kevin Drum
John Boehner says he really, truly wants to pass an immigration reform bill . . .

. . . according to the Speaker, immigration reform can’t pass because House Republicans don’t trust the president to faithfully execute the laws of the United States.

. . .

I think that translates as "nothing is going to happen." Boehner's excuse, however, isn't that tea party Republicans are obsessed about amnesty and fences and reconquista and all that. His excuse is that Obama has been so brazenly lawless that Republicans simply can't trust him to enforce whatever law they pass. This is all part of the surreal "Obama the tyrant" schtick that's swamped the Republican Party lately. Every executive order, every new agency interpretation of a rule, every Justice Department or IRS memo—they're all evidence that Obama is turning America into a New World gulag. Never mind that these are all routine things that every president engages in. Never mind that they just as routinely get resolved in court and Obama will win some and lose some. Never mind any of that. Obama is an Alinskyite despot who is slowly but steadily sweeping away the last vestiges of democracy in this once great nation.

Barack Obama! A president whose biggest problem is probably just the opposite: he's never managed to get comfortable throwing his weight around to get what he wants. He's too dedicated to rational discourse and the grand bargain. He hires guys who want to nudge, not mandate. He wants to persuade, not coerce. That's our modern-day Robespierre.

NY Times corrects 1853 article on '12 Years a Slave' tale

By (BBC)
The New York Times has published a correction to an article published 161 years ago on the case portrayed in the Oscar-winning film 12 Years a Slave.

The story published on 20 January 1853 chronicles the kidnapping and enslavement of a free black man named Solomon Northup.

In the piece Northup's name was misspelled twice, as Northrop and Northrup.

. . .

Rebecca Skloot, author of the best-selling non-fiction book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, brought the initial error to light, tweeting a link to the story on Monday.

Welcome to the "Hump Point" of this OND.

News can be sobering and engrossing - at this point in the diary, an offering of brief escapism:

Random notes related to this video:
Go ahead and hit pause on Adela Dazeem — sorry, Idina Menzel’s — performance of “Let It Go” at the Oscars, because now there’s an even better version of Menzel singing the Frozen megahit.

On Monday’s Tonight Show, Menzel stopped by to debut the latest holdover sketch from Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night days: “[Song] with Classroom Instruments.” Accompanied, as always, by Fallon and The Roots, Menzel sang the catchy tune and looked like she was having a total blast. (This is what happens when John Travolta butchers your name, and now everyone knows who you are.)

Back to what's happening:
Environment and Greening
Indonesia clerics issue fatwa against illegal wildlife trafficking

By Brooks Hays
Indonesia's highest Muslim clerical body, the Indonesian Council of Ulama, has taken an unprecedented move in issuing a fatwa against the illegal trafficking of endangered species.

A fatwa, or edict, is essentially a call to action. In this instance, religious leaders have called on Indonesian Muslims -- the largest population of Muslims in the world -- to play their part in protecting threatened species like tigers, rhinos, elephants and orangutans. That means conserving vulnerable habitat and curbing illegal wildlife trafficking.

. . .

Earlier this year, the United Arab Emirates' General Authority of Islamic Affairs & Endowments issued a fatwa forbidding Muslims from participating in a space mission to Mars.

How to make natural gas more climate-friendly

By Ben Adler
. . .

Recent reports in journals such as Science and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences have carried some depressing news: Natural gas, the “bridge fuel” touted by President Obama for its lower CO2 emissions and domestic abundance, may not actually be better for the climate than coal. Natural gas is mostly methane, which is half as carbon intensive as coal when it’s burned, but when it’s released directly into the atmosphere, it’s 86 times worse for the climate than CO2 over a 20-year time frame. Rampant methane leakage in the fracking process and from pipelines raises natural gas’s total greenhouse gas emissions; the studies estimate that more than 2 percent of gas in the U.S. may escape through leaks.

. . .

The bottom line in both reports is the same, though. The oil and gas industry could significantly reduce methane leakage for almost no net cost. And the groups agree on the biggest four steps needed, which would account for most of the methane savings:
Green completion technology. Sometimes a well is open briefly while not being tapped, because it’s being repaired or is in the process of being opened or closed. Gas can escape at those times, but green completion technology, which involves portable equipment, can capture that gas. The EPA already requires use of this technology at new natural gas wells.

. . .

If this really were profitable, as NRDC claims, one wonders why the gas industry isn’t doing it already. Some companies are, in fact. But gas companies are also weighing the costs and benefits of reduced methane leakage against other, more profitable ways of investing their capital, such as drilling new wells. Reducing methane leakage from 2 percent to 1 percent of the total volume of natural gas extracted would be enormously beneficial for the climate because methane released straight into the atmosphere has such a strong warming impact. But to a gas company, it’s just 1 percent more gas to sell. “If you have $10,000, would you put it into leak reduction or something else with a greater return?” asks Vignesh Gowrishankar, a scientist at NRDC.

. . .

But neither organization is naive enough to think that gas companies can simply be trusted to do this out of the goodness of their hearts. The EPA, they argue, has the authority and the obligation under the Clean Air Act to require gas well operators to adopt these measures. “We are pushing the EPA to do this,” says Gowrishankar, noting that President Obama’s Climate Action Plan contains a section on reducing methane emissions. The plan does not, however, actually state that the administration will promulgate new rules on methane leakage from existing wells.

Science and Health
Electronics based on a two dimensional electron gas

By (ScienceDaily)
Usually, microelectronic devices are made of silicon or similar semiconductors. Recently, the electronic properties of metal oxides have become quite interesting. These materials are more complex, yet offer a broader range of possibilities to tune their properties. An important breakthrough has now been achieved at the Vienna University of Technology: a two dimensional electron gas was created in strontium titanate. In a thin layer just below the surface electrons can move freely and occupy different quantum states.

. . .

Something remarkable happens when the material is irradiated with high-energy electromagnetic waves: "The radiation can remove oxygen atoms from the surface," Ulrike Diebold explains. Then other oxygen atoms from within the bulk of the material move up to the surface. Inside the material, an oxygen deficiency builds up, as well a surplus of electrons. "These electrons, located in a two dimensional layer very close to the surface, can move freely. We call this an electron gas," says Karsten Held. There has already been some evidence of two dimensional electron gases in similar materials, but until now the creation of a stable, durable electron gas at a surface has been impossible. The properties of the electrons in the gas can be finely tuned. Depending on the intensity of the radiation, the number of electrons varies. By adding different atoms, the electronic properties can also be changed.

. . .

The electron gas in the new material exhibits a multitude of different electronic structures. Some of them could very well be suitable for producing interesting magnetic effects or superconductivity. The promising properties of strontium titanate will now be further investigated. The researchers hope that, by applying external electric fields or by placing additional metal atoms on the surface, the new material could reveal a few more of its secrets.

Why Hospitals Are Failing Civilians Who Get PTSD

By Lois Beckett
Undiagnosed post-traumatic stress disorder is having a major impact on injured civilians, particularly those with violent injuries, as we detailed last month. One national study of patients with traumatic injuries found that more than 20 percent of them developed PTSD.

. . .

At, Chicago’s Cook County Hospital, researchers found that 43 percent of the patients they surveyed had signs of PTSD. A trauma surgeon at the hospital proposed spending about $200,000 a year to add staff focused on PTSD. But the hospital administration suggested that she look for outside funding. The taxpayer-subsidized hospital currently provides no institutional funding for systematic PTSD screening.

. . .

Another barrier to screening civilian patients for PTSD is a lack of mental health professionals in many communities.  

. . .

Finding mental health treatment can be challenging even for patients with health insurance, said Cooper, the Baltimore trauma surgeon. And for the uninsured, finding treatment can be an “exercise in frustration,” ending with hospital staff “begging for favors from contacts and friends, to make sure the patient gets the care he or she needs.”

. . .

Dr. Martin Croce is the medical director of the Elvis Presley Memorial Trauma Center at the Regional Medical Center in Memphis, Tenn. A few years ago, Croce said, he was skeptical about whether PTSD was a serious issue in civilian patients.  But the growing research has led him to do “a complete 180.”

Silk screws used to repair fractures

By Helen Briggs
US scientists say metal fixtures can potentially be replaced with plates and screws made from the natural fibre, which will eventually dissolve in the body.

. . .

In the new research, a team of medical engineers at Tufts University, Massachusetts, made screws from medical grade silk using specially designed moulds.

. . .

The low stiffness of silk, which is similar to that of bone, and its ability to break down in the body, make it a promising bioengineering material compared with traditional metal plates and screws, the researchers say.

. . .

He added: "They don't interfere with X-rays, they don't set off alarms and they don't cause sensitivity to cold."

Heart Implants, 3-D-Printed to Order

By Katherine Bourzac
It’s a poetic fact of biology that everyone’s heart is a slightly different size and shape. And yet today’s cardiac implants—medical devices like pacemakers and defibrillators—are basically one size fits all. Among other things, this means these devices, though lifesaving for many patients, are limited in the information they can gather.

Researchers recently demonstrated a new kind of personalized heart sensor as part of an effort to change that. The researchers used images of animals’ hearts to create models of the organ using a 3-D printer. Then they built stretchy electronics on top of those models. The stretchy material can be peeled off the printed model and wrapped around the real heart for a perfect fit.

. . .

“The next step is a device with multiple sensors, and not just more electrical sensors,” says Efimov. Sensors that measure acidic conditions, for example, could offer an early sign of a blocked coronary artery. Meanwhile, light-emitting diodes and light sensors could provide information about heart-tissue health by identifying areas with poorly oxygenated blood, which is less transparent to light. Light sensors might even help detect a heart attack, since the enzyme NADH, which accumulates during heart attacks, is naturally fluorescent.

. . .

To eliminate these wrinkles, which can interrupt contact between the tissue and the electronics, Efimov’s team built the devices on a 3-D-printed plastic model, designed using an image of an individual heart. They created the actual device on top of the plastic model, first laying down sensors and other electronics (and the wiring that connects them) and then coating them with a stretchy, FDA-approved polymer. Finally, the whole thing can be peeled off and wrapped around the heart.

How a Man Who Wore a Fake Uterus Is Reinventing Sanitary Pads

By Sarah Zhang
Back in 1998, the newly married Arunachalam Muruganantham bought sanitary pads for the very first time and was astounded to discover how expensive they were. Like most poor Indian women, his wife had been using dirty and unsanitary rags, instead. Cotton itself wasn't expensive, reasoned Muruganantham, so why were store-bought sanitary pads? He set to work tinkering.

. . .

He created a "uterus" from a football bladder by punching a couple of holes in it, and filling it with goat's blood. A former classmate, a butcher, would ring his bicycle bell outside the house whenever he was going to kill a goat. Muruganantham would collect the blood and mix in an additive he got from another friend at a blood bank to prevent it clotting too quickly—but it didn't stop the smell.

. . .

That's where his real invention comes in: a cheap, simple machine that turns blocks of cellulose into useable sanitary pads. "The process involves four simple steps," according to the BBC. "First, a machine similar to a kitchen grinder breaks down the hard cellulose into fluffy material, which is packed into rectangular cakes with another machine. The cakes are then wrapped in non-woven cloth and disinfected in an ultraviolet treatment unit. The whole process can be learned in an hour."

He took his invention to some of Indian's poorest states, where women are taught to make and even sell sanitary pads themselves. For Muruganantham, his invention is more about empowering women than making money. His work is breaking the taboos around openly discussing menstruation in India and it's giving rural women jobs. He expects to expand to some 106 countries worldwide, including Kenya, the Philippines, and Bangladesh. Not bad for a plan that started with a fake uterus.

China cyber-gangs use 'vast underground network'

By (BBC)
Chinese cybercriminals are increasingly targeting mobile users via a vast underground network of tools and services, according to a new report.

. . .

Such underground forums are thriving worldwide, particularly in Russia, China and Brazil.

. . .

It includes the selling of premium-rate phone numbers, which can be bought from 220,000 yuan (£21,400).

Such numbers are used in conjunction with malicious apps that reply to text messages and then delete confirmation messages so users end up paying vast sums to cybercriminals without realising.

. . .

"Cybercriminals are also making use of the 'deep web' to sell products and services outside the indexed or searchable world wide web, making their online shops harder for law enforcement to find and take down."

Can an Atheist Be in Awe of the Universe?

By Michael Shermer
After 64-year-old Diana Nyad completed her 110-mile swim from Cuba to Florida in September 2013, she was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey on her Super Soul Sunday show in what was to be a motivational reflection on the triumph of will over age. When Nyad announced, “I'm an atheist,” Oprah responded quizzically: “But you're in the awe.” Puzzled, Nyad responded: “I don't understand why anybody would find a contradiction in that. I can stand at the beach's edge with the most devout Christian, Jew, Buddhist—go on down the line—and weep with the beauty of this universe and be moved by all of humanity. All the billions of people who have lived before us, who have loved and hurt and suffered. So to me, my definition of God is humanity and is the love of humanity.” What Oprah said next inflamed atheists: “Well, I don't call you an atheist then. I think if you believe in the awe and the wonder and the mystery, then that is what God is.”

. . . Valdesolo and Graham divided subjects into three groups. One group saw a video clip of an awe-inspiring scene from the BBC's Planet Earth, another watched an emotionally neutral news interview by the late 60 Minutes correspondent Mike Wallace, and the last group viewed a comedy clip from the BBC's Walk on the Wild Side. Subjects then took a survey that measured their belief in God, belief “that the universe is controlled by God or supernatural forces, such as karma,” and their feeling of “awe” while watching the video clip. Subjects who saw the Planet Earth video experienced the most awe and, while in this state, greater belief in both God and supernatural control. The researchers concluded: “The present results suggest that in the moment of awe, some of the fear and trembling can be mitigated by perceiving an author's hand in the experience.”

What are the larger implications of these findings? “We showed that feeling the emotion (which even low awe-prone people are capable of) elicits uncertainty and a subsequent desire to resolve that feeling by explaining events in terms of purpose-driven causal agents,” Valdesolo explained. “One interesting hypothesis might be that the dispositionally awe-prone are less likely to show our effect since the uncertainty that they feel is not aversive.”

This brings me back to Diana Nyad and those of us who find our spirituality in the awe of the natural world without a need for supernatural agenticity. Instead of fear and trembling, we feel wonder and gratitude in discovering that the author's hand is nature's laws and nothing more, but also nothing less.

Blurred lines? Sexual boundaries are not really all that blurred

By (ScienceDaily)
Meeting people within a bar scene is not usually difficult. Unfortunately, not all contact -- whether romantic or sexual -- is positive or consensual. In fact, sexual aggression has become a common experience, whether it is related to misperceptions in making and receiving sexual advances, or reflects intentional harassment or other sexually aggressive acts. This study uses an objective observational design to examine bar-based sexual aggression, finding that it often reflects intentional sexual invasiveness and unwanted persistence rather than misperceptions in sexual advances.

. . .

"Recent data suggests that aggression related to sexual advances is very common nowadays," explained Kate Graham, a senior scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health at the University of Toronto as well as corresponding author for the study. "Last year, we did a study of bargoers in Windsor, across the river from Detroit. Participants were recruited on their way to bars, and then asked additional questions about two common forms of sexual aggression we observed -- unwanted sexual contact and unwanted persistence -- when they were leaving the bar district: more than 50 percent of women reported experiencing one or both types of sexual aggression on the evening of the exit survey." Graham is also affiliated with Western University in Ontario, and Curtin University in Australia.

. . .

"Signs can also be posted in the bar and restrooms indicating that 'bad' behavior, complete with examples, will not be tolerated and that perpetrators will have to leave the premises," said Norris. "A necessary component of this approach is to train staff to intervene: first, a warning, but if the behavior persists, the person will be asked or forced to leave. Men have to be given clear messages that there will be consequences for this type of behavior if we expect men to change. Conversely, the onus should not be placed on women for 'preventing' sexual assault. That said, women can often reduce their risk by clearly and firmly letting a man know that his behavior is not wanted or appreciated or seen as acceptable as soon as he commits an unwanted sexual act." Graham added that women can also vote with their feet by refusing to frequent establishments where sexual aggression is highly invasive or frequent.

Changes also need to occur at a societal level, added Norris. "There need to be clear messages to men about the inappropriateness of any type of sexual aggression. In addition, women need to learn to overcome messages they may have received early in life about being deferential or not wanting to cause embarrassment or 'create a scene.' Women need to be taught to stand up for themselves, to recognize that a sexually aggressive man is someone who has a problem and the onus should be placed on him to stop his unacceptable behavior."

Fashion designers benefit communities in Philippines with indigenous textiles

By Christine de León
Last month's International Fashion Showcase saw more than 30 foreign embassies and cultural institutions present young design talent to a London audience comprising press, buyers and fashion aficionados.

The Manila Wear showcase from the Philippines was the only one that highlighted how six designers incorporate indigenous sustainable materials into their designs. In addition, each designer had either a partnership with an NGO where profits are put back into community development, or was collaborating with local artisans and textile suppliers.

. . .

With a rising middle class and a new generation of designers who are engaged with international fashion markets in a way their predecessors weren't, the elements are coming together for a dynamic hub of Manila designers who combine inspiration from the tropical landscape that surrounds them with western design aesthetics.

. . .

This is where the harsh reality of the typhoon's legacy sets in. The Philippines is the largest producer of copra or coconut to the world market, a resource that was completely destroyed in the Eastern Visayas, where the typhoon landed. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, a million coconut farmers have been affected. While attempts to replant the crops are underway, it can take nearly eight years before the crops mature and are ready for market, presenting a problem for farmers in the short-term.

The government has put its weight behind the abacá industry and is currently seeking certification from the Rainforest Alliance to increase market value. The abacá crop could offer coconut farmers a choice beyond aid dependency. In automotive engineering, Mercedes Benz has used a mixture of polypropylene thermoplastic and abacá yarn in automobile body parts. In the fashion industry, an abacá and polyester mix is increasingly looked upon as an alternative to using cotton in denim production.

Why Lebanon censors Frank Sinatra, Puss in Boots, and The West Wing

By Tracey Shelton
At the entrance to the March Lebanon office in Beirut there is a well-stocked bookshelf. Its contents include classics like "Of Mice and Men," "The Diary of Anne Frank," "The Da Vinci Code," "Sophie’s Choice" and the slightly less classy "Little Book of Big Penis."

 Crack the covers and you’ll realize this isn’t any ordinary book collection. The pages are all blank. The Lebanese government has banned them. Turn it over and you might be surprised to read why. The reasons range from homosexual references and politics to religion and vague connection to things Jewish.

. . .

 Baroudi said many of the inconsistences exist because there is no centralized censorship body. Various ministries, commissions and general security can all legally ban material while religious authorities, political parties and even foreign embassies wield their influence on censorship decisions.

. . .

 Censorship records cannot be accessed by the general public. For several days GlobalPost attempted to contact General Security, one of the main bodies that censor material in Lebanon, but were told no one was available for comment. We were instead directed to the general security website which lists their duties as "fighting whatever endangers security" and preventing the "spread of rumours that could jeopardise security". This includes the surveillance of movies, media and the press and ensuring the "right implementation of the laws and rules verdicts related to the affairs of censorship and Media."

Meteor Blades is known to offer an enlightening Evening Open Diary - you might consider checking that out tonight if you haven't already.
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