Social Issues

    Social Issues – It’s absurd, but it’s also great. Sweden, wonderful, beautiful, gentle Sweden has finally, after two years, accepted the Missionary Church of Kopimism as an official religion. Within these trying two years, the true believers did not give up, and for that they have been rewarded with legitimacy. If you are Swedish and a Kopimist, you may now feel free to practice openly. And if you don’t know what it is, Kopimism is the religious belief in copying, particularly in the form of electronic file sharing.

    The church has something of a social agenda (which church doesn’t?), and rather than stopping abortions, keeping marriage straight, or keeping homosexuals out of fill-in-the-blank, the Church of Kopimism seeks to end the stigma against “file sharing and remixing.”

    While I’ve not yet read enough literature to convert, I have to say that I enjoy the prospect of openness that the faith promises. Redefining our ideas of ownership isn’t new ground for a religion, and this faith may be in a position to best benefit from the increasingly electronic aspects of our identity. Who can really say, ya know?

    Of course, it will be ridiculed with terrible jokes. Kopimist heaven? Freeleech jokes go here. Kopimist hell? The answer is the cost/speed ratio for American high speed internet. Will there be an extremist sect like the Westboro Baptists who protest funerals because of the immoral acceptance of snatching? Something about a series of tubes? Something about the irony in digital files being more “tangible” proof than most, if not all, of the established religions can give of their divinities? I don’t know, but terrible, terrible jokes, I’m sure.

    Read More at Yahoo.

  • Women Only

    Social Issues

    In a world where men’s only clubs are still common (we’re looking at you Augusta National Golf Club), Kenya’s Umoja village is putting their own spin on it. For the last two decades, this women’s only village has been a refuge for many, and a place for women to learn, grow, and find happiness.

    Umoja is home to women from all over the country. Women are fleeing forced marriages, rape, sexual abuse, tribal violence, and even widows exiled by their previous communities have found a home in this Kenyan village.

    “In a traditional village, women may not have had the opportunity to exercise leadership, to be in control of their wealth or resources, and they would more likely experience domestic violence, female genital cutting, child marriage and other traditional practices that discriminate against and physically harm women and children.” Celena Green whose organization “Vital Voices” work with the women of Umoja, told Safe World for Women.

    “Ideally, no woman or girl should ever have to flee her home to come to Umoja in the first place,” she added. “But ultimately, the aim of Umoja is to provide an emergency safe haven for those women who are in distress, and more importantly to contribute toward building communities where everyone is valued and can succeed,” Green added.

    The women of the village sell beadwork and use the profits collectively to provide food and basic necessities to its villagers. Profits are also used for medical fees and operating a school serving the village’s children and adult learners. Women from nearby communities come to the village for workshops that educate them about human rights, gender equality, and violence prevention.

    While most may think of the village as a female man haters club, that it definitely is not. Males are allowed to sleep in the village, as long they are children being raised. Many younger residents of Umoja also still plan on marrying and raising families, the only difference is they plan to do it at their own will and terms.

    To read more about Umoja visit A Safe World for Women.


    Social Issues

    Social Issues – With the cost of health care reaching exorbitant levels these days, one cancer patient is turning to art to help his family pay his medical bills.

    That little boy, three-year-old Liam Myrick, has taken to painting as a form of mental and physical therapy. And in order to combat their medical expenses-totaling more than half a million dollars-his parents are auctioning off his works via a Facebook page.

    The toddler was diagnosed with stage four Neuroblastoma, a malignant tumor that forms in nerve tissue. In Liam’s case, the tumor was on his kidney and so far, he’s already had chemotherapy and a bone marrow stem cell transplant during his time at the Missouri Children’s Hospital.

    In addition to Liam’s treatment, the Myrick family is also still paying medical bills from their six-year-old daughter Natalie’s bout with the cancer, which is currently in remission.

    To bid for Liam’s artwork or buy supportive “Team Liam Miracle Boy 4 A Cure” elastic bracelets, visit the Official Team Liam Facebook page.

    Read more at WILX and Huffington Post.


    Social Issues

    “Right Here, All Over Occupy Wall Street,” a new documentary about the Occupy Wall Street Movement, gives an inside view of what is really going on in Lower Manhattan. Watch the seven-minute tour into the lives of the occupiers and make your own decision.

    Directed by Alex Mallis + Lily Henderson
    Cinematography by Ed David
    Edited by Lily Henderson + Alex Mallis
    Assistant Camera: Andrew McMullen + Diana Eliavoz
    Assistant Producers: Dana Salvatore + Jillian Mason
    Titles by Jason Drakeford.


    Social Issues

    Social Issues – Have you ever had that creepy feeling that someone is watching you as you sit alone and update your social media status from your smart phone about how high gas prices are, how you have the flu, the latest reports on the nutter from North Korea, your vacation in San Diego, how unreliable the Metro is, or even the incident at the club the night before that turned into a total disaster? Well, if you have, your feelings are probably justified because some of these words are on the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) “ping” list.

    The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), a privacy watchdog group, has released a copy of the DHS manual that lists “hundreds of key words” and “search terms used to detect possible terrorism, unfolding natural disasters and public health threats.” EPIC obtained the manual after it successfully “filed a Freedom of Information Act request and then sued to obtain the release of the documents.”

    Though the 39-page “Analyst’s Desktop Binder” includes words that should raise alarms, such as shooting, militia, hostage — (you get the picture, I’m already on the radar for being a reporter and using those words constantly), it also includes innocuous words like the eight I put in the first paragraph. Just in case you missed them: smart, gas, flu, North Korea, San Diego, Metro, incident, and disaster.

    In a letter to the Department of Homeland Security Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, EPIC stated, “these terms and others are ‘broad, vague and ambiguous’ and include vast amounts of First Amendment protected speech that is entirely unrelated to the Department of Homeland Security mission to protect the public against terrorism and disasters.”

    Although some contend that DHS monitors social media looking for comments that “reflect adversely on the federal government,” Mary Ellen Callahan, the chief privacy officer for the Department of Homeland Security, and Richard Chavez, director for the National Operations Center, “testified that the released documents were outdated and that social media was monitored strictly to provide situational awareness and not to police disparaging opinions about the federal government.” (did you catch that “strictly to” there?)

    According to the Huffington Post who spoke with a “senior Homeland Security official, on the condition of anonymity” the manual “‘is a starting point, not the endgame’ in maintaining situational awareness of natural and man-made threats,” and that the instructions in the manual that direct analysts to “‘identify media reports that reflect adversely on the DHS and response activities,’ was not aimed at silencing criticism but at spotting and addressing problems.’”

    “To ensure clarity, as part of … routine compliance review, DHS will review the language contained in all materials to clearly and accurately convey the parameters and intention of the program,” agency spokesman Matthew Chandler told HuffPost.

    Still, there are several words on the list that raise an eyebrow or two when looking at the manual, and even though the agency has said that the material “is in need of updating,” to clarify some of the vague terms, one has to wonder if EPIC is right in its assessment of the manual, especially in light of all the SOPA, ACTA, and PIPA activity going on, not to mention the FBI’s proposed social network monitoring system.

    Read the “Analyst Desktop Binder here.

    Watch as Rep. Patrick Meehan (R-PA), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence questions witnesses at a hearing entitled: “DHS Monitoring of Social Networking and Media: Enhancing Intelligence Gathering and Ensuring Privacy.”

    Read more at Huffington Post.

  • American Muslims

    Social Issues

    Social Issues – All-American retailer Lowe’s has decided to pull advertising from American Muslim, a TLC reality show, after receiving complaints from several conservative and/or Christian organizations.

    The show depicts American Muslims serving in typically American careers, including a police officer and a high school football coach.

    One organization, the conservative Florida Family Association, said in a statement it had sent three emails alerts that called on their disciples to email advertisers on the show and tell them to not support the possible increase in tolerance.

    “All-American Muslim is propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values,” it said.

    On its web site, the Association posted an email from a Lowe’s representative saying: “While we continue to advertise on various cable networks, including TLC, there are certain programs that do not meet Lowe’s advertising guidelines, including the show you brought to our attention. Lowe’s will no longer be advertising on that program.”

    While Lowe’s confirmed it had pulled the ad in a Tweet (of course), it claimed it “did not pull [the] ads based solely on the complaints or emails of any one group.”

    Read more at Gawker.

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