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The Secret Life of Arabia

From the great album Heroes (1987).

by Odd Man Out

Stories like this one bring out the xenophobe in me until I remind myself that some people in this country would like to pass laws almost as primitive as Morocco’s:

The suicide of a Moroccan teenager who reportedly had been forced to marry her rapist has spurred calls from around the world to change criminal laws long lamented by Moroccan feminists.

Human rights groups complain that Moroccan law has been interpreted to allow someone who rapes a minor to escape punishment if he marries the victim. Moroccan media reported that was what happened to Amina Filali, a 16-year-old who reportedly swallowed rat poison Saturday.

“It is unfortunately a recurring phenomenon,” Fouzia Assouli, the president of the Democratic League for Women’s Rights, told the Associated Press. “We have been asking for years for the cancellation of Article 475 of the penal code, which allows the rapist to escape justice.”

The Moroccan government has argued that the law applies only if the victim agrees to marry, but activists say young women can be pressured into marriage to protect family honor. Her father told a Moroccan news website that the courts had pushed the idea, the Associated Press reported.

Pa voter ID battle not over

by Odd Man Out
Pennsylvania legislators on Wednesday pushed through a bill requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. Gov. Tom Corbett quickly signed the bill into law, and said it sets a “simple and clear standard to protect the integrity of our elections.”

Yes, integrity. Everybody knows this sneaky corporate stooge, this governor who is despised in all parts of the state not dominated by crackers, signed the bill to block as many Democrats as possible from voting, and that the bill was part of a voter suppression campaign fueled by rich Republicans and aimed at Republican-governed states.

On the bright side, passage of the bill was only Round One in the battle over voter rights in PA. From Reuters:

Pennsylvania joined several Republican-governed states, including Texas, Kansas and Wisconsin, that have adopted stricter voter identification laws, arguing they were needed to prevent ballot box fraud. Supporters say the laws are no different from needing identification to board an airplane or obtain a library card.

But some civil rights groups say such laws discriminate against the poor who may not be able to pay fees for copies of legal documents such as birth certificates, and that they could suppress minority votes. Democrats say voter identification measures are aimed at squeezing out university students and senior citizens who tend to vote for Democrats…

Other states have encountered setbacks trying to impose voter identification requirements. A judge issued an injunction earlier this week against Wisconsin’s law, and the U.S. Justice Department blocked a new voter identification law in Texas.

The Justice Department, which also blocked a voter identification law in South Carolina from taking effect, said the Texas law could harm Hispanic voters who lack identification documents.

“Our legal team is currently mapping a strategy for overturning this voter suppression bill,” ACLU of Pennsylvania Executive Director Reggie Shuford said in a statement…

Footnote: It’s interesting that the proudly penny-pinching Corbett eagerly backed a scheme that would cost the state so much money:

The Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center estimated the legislation would cost $11 million. In order to withstand legal challenges, the state must provide photo IDs for free, notify and educate voters about the new voting restrictions, hire more election staff, and purchase additional photo ID equipment.

You’ve changed

Eva Cassidy:


Ben Folds Five:

Woman of heart and mind

Been singing this one to myself a lot lately… Joni Mitchell:


Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of wingnuts:

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the IRS on Wednesday alleging that Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform violated federal tax law.

“It appears ATR and Mr. Norquist declared less than half of the political activity it conducted in 2010 on its tax return,” the complaint said. “Therefore, the IRS should investigate ATR and Mr. Norquist and, should it find they violated federal law, take appropriate action, including but not limited to referring this matter to the Department of Justice for prosecution.”

CREW found that ATR spent more than $4.2 million on ads in 2010, which urged people to vote against a number of Democratic representatives. The independent expenditures were reported to the Federal Election Commission. But on its tax return, ATR claimed it spent only $1.85 million on political activities.
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Bound for glory

Tedeschi Trucks Band:

Intel working toward conflict-free chip

Let’s hope that other companies will stop making excuses and work to catch up:

In a new video, Intel took a significant step beyond the commitments of other electronics companies by publicly stating its intent “to manufacture the world’s first verified, conflict-free microprocessor by 2013.” No other company from the electronics, jewelry, or automotive sectors have made a similar commitment, so this goal represents a serious step forward.

The video, released by Chief Operating Officer Brian Krzanich, is part of Intel’s Corporate Social Responsibility initiative, which is “intended to inspire employees and set a challenging target” for the company. “At the beginning of the project we considered banning all material from the country, but we quickly came to the conclusion that that wasn’t the right thing to do,” said Intel’s Jerry Meyers, in the video:

What we found when we were over there [in Congo] is that there’s really only two major industries: it’s farming, and it’s mining. So, if we were to ban materials from that country, we would be depriving the local people of one of two of their main sources of livelihood, and we wanted to avoid that at all cost. But we did want to ensure that we had a good conflict-free source of all minerals.

Instead of pulling its business out of Congo, Intel has decided to begin a ‘bagging and tagging’ system, in which bags of minerals from certified conflict-free mines are tagged, making it easy for companies to trace them and assure that the minerals they receive are clean. Of course, this system is not yet perfect. Meyers explains how, during Intel’s pilot run of the program, they discovered that someone had acquired a number of tags and was selling them illicitly, undermining their entire purpose and function. However, Intel was able to detect and halt this activity within a week.

By taking such determined steps towards creating a conflict-free product, Intel has essentially thwarted other companies who claim that implementing such traceability measures for their products is not feasible. Although manufacturing Intel’s microprocessors mainly requires tracing and auditing tantalum, and not the three other conflict minerals (tin, tungsten and gold), their projected timeframe for releasing a conflict-free product by next year clearly indicates the possibility for other companies to make similar strides with any or all of the minerals in question.

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