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Member since: Thu Feb 14, 2008, 10:58 AM
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SeaWorld Says It Has to Keep Orcas in Captivity to Save Them

Source: Mother Jones

SeaWorld Entertainment has had a rough year in the wake of Blackfish, the explosive 2013 documentary about its killer whales, most notably Tilikum, a 12,500-pound male who has fatally attacked two trainers. The film sparked protests at SeaWorld's three marine parks and attendance has been steadily dropping. Kids have petitioned to cancel field trips, musicians like Willie Nelson have nixed concerts, and brands like Taco Bell and Southwest Airlines have cut ties with the company. Lawmakers in California, home to the flagship SeaWorld San Diego, even proposed banning orca captivity in the state. The company's stock price has been sinking; in August, it fell nearly a third in one day.

In response, SeaWorld has launched a full-on PR counteroffensive. One of its main talking points is science: While slamming Blackfish as unscientific "propaganda," the park asserts that its killer whales provide a rare opportunity to do crucial research. "We create a controlled setting for science that is impossible to replicate in the wild," its website states. "Whales in SeaWorld's care help science better understand and conserve wild killer whales." It also notes that the park recently pledged to spend an additional $10 million on orca research.

That's a drop in the bucket of SeaWorld's total budget: Last year, 24 million people visited its 11 parks nationwide, bringing in $1.4 billion. Orcas are undeniably the main draw. SeaWorld trained the original Shamu and owns around half of the roughly 50 orcas living in captivity. Convincing the public that a SeaWorld ticket can help save wild Baby Shamus may be essential to keeping the company afloat.
While slamming Blackfish as unscientific "propaganda," SeaWorld asserts that its killer whales provide a rare opportunity to do crucial research.

Yet independent orca researchers say these arguments don't hold water. "If SeaWorld didn't exist, would our understanding of wild killer whales be significantly reduced? I think the answer to that is no, it would not," says a veteran marine-mammal researcher who works at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "It's a bit like having Walt Disney tell us about mouse biology," says Ken Balcomb, founder of the Center for Whale Research and a pioneering orca researcher.

Read more: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2014/12/seaworld-killer-whale-orca-science-blackfish

Michigan House stalls gay rights bill after pastor testifies there are no ‘LGBT water fountains’

Source: Raw Story


Pastor Stacy Swimp testified that it was offensive to compare LGBT rights to the civil rights movement.

“This proposed legislation is yet another step in the assault on religious freedom,” Swimp opined. “I asked the Commerce Committee today, can you truly define sexual orientation? Do you truly know what you are potentially aligning yourselves with?”

“There’s a comparison between the homosexual allegation of gay rights and black civil rights,” he continued. “And as a minister of the Gospel, and as a black American whose parents participated in the Freedom Rides — my ancestors were slaves in plantations in the state of South Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, Indiana and Mississippi — I stand here today rather offended.”

“I ask, has anyone from the LGBT community ever had to stand up or step off of the sidewalk whenever a straight person walked by? Lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, and transgender Americans have never been denied their voting rights, nor have they been denied the right to assemble. No one from the LGBT community has ever had fire hoses turned on them by the police department, they have never had to drink out of an LGBT water fountain. There is no record of LGBT — homosexuals, lesbians being forced to sit at the back of the bus in an LGBT section.”

Swimp argued that LGBT Americans already enjoyed a higher annual median income and employment rate than that of African-Americans.

“Therefore, the Commerce Committee should not consider voting out of committee and sending to the House floor a bill that would grant special privileges, guarantee special protections, or grant special status to a group — or in this case, the LGBTQ community — based solely on their choice of sexual behavior,” the pastor said.

Read more: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/12/michigan-house-stalls-gay-rights-bill-after-pastor-testifies-there-are-no-lgbt-water-fountains/

Fuck him, and kudos to Republican state Rep. Frank Foster & Democratic State Rep. Sam Singh.

Janay Rice on being slugged by NFL husband Ray: I find it hard ‘to accept being called a victim’

Source: Raw Story

Janay Rice, the wife of pro football player Ray Rice, spoke up for her husband in an interview with ESPN and explained what happened on the night he knocked her out inside an Atlantic City elevator, an incident that led to widespread criticism of the National Football League (NFL) for its policies regarding domestic violence.

“I still find it hard to accept being called a ‘victim,’” she said. “I know there are so many different opinions out there about me — that I’m weak, that I’m making excuses and covering up abuse — and that some people question my motives for staying with Ray.”


“We were drunk and tired and while I know that some people may find it hard to believe, none of the six of us can remember exactly what Ray and I were arguing about. It was that insignificant,” she recalled. “As we were arguing, he was on his phone and not looking at me. I went to reach for his phone, and when he grabbed it back, he spit at me and I slapped him.”

The couple then went into an elevator, where Ray punched her, knocking her unconscious. Janay told ESPN that she remembers nothing from the incident, but that he later told her that she slapped him again before he struck her. The security camera footage also shows Ray pick her up then put her on the floor face-down.

“The video didn’t make me rethink our relationship, but I did want more of an explanation from him,” she said. “I asked him why he left me on the floor like that. I asked him how he felt when he saw that I was unconscious. He told me he was in shock. I asked him what happened when we got out of the elevator. He told me he was terrified because security was there. I asked him how he felt seeing me like that. He said he was thinking, ‘What did I just do?” I didn’t watch the video again.”

Read more: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/11/janay-rice-on-being-slugged-by-nfl-husband-ray-i-find-it-hard-to-accept-being-called-a-victim/

I think it says a lot that: 1) she doesn't view herself as a victim, and 2) she didn't even rethink her relationship with a man that punched her to the point of being unconscious. I do not blame her, of course... domestic abuse is a very complex issue. I just hope she stays safe.

On Being a Black Male, Six Feet Four Inches Tall, in America in 2014

Source: Vanity Fair

Headline: Black Comedian, a Martial-Arts Expert Who Hated Cops, Fought with His Wife, and Was Clinically Depressed, Demonically Steals Frozen Treat From Local Merchant.

I am afraid of the cops. Absolutely petrified of the cops. Now understand, I’ve never been arrested or held for questioning. I’ve never been told that I “fit the description.” But that doesn’t change a thing. I am afraid of cops the way that spiders are afraid of boots. You’re walking along, minding your own business, and SQUISH! You are dead.

Simply put, I am afraid of the cops because I am black. To raise the stakes even further, I am male. And to go all in on this pot of fear, I am six foot four, and weigh 250 pounds. Michael Brown, the unarmed Missouri 18-year-old shot dead by police this summer, was also six foot four. Depending on your perspective, I could be described as a “gentle giant,” the way that teachers described Brown. Or I could be described as a “demon,” the way that Officer Darren Wilson described Michael Brown in his grand-jury testimony.

I don’t engage in any type of behavior that should place me in a cop’s crosshairs. I don’t live in “one of those neighborhoods,” or hang out with a “bad crowd,” (unless you count comedians). I am not involved in felonious activity. I’m not bragging. I’m just boring. But the fact that I’m not involved in any of that stuff doesn’t leave me any more confident I won’t be killed. That’s because I’ve been endowed with the triple crown of being killed for no good reason: big, black, and male.

On Monday night, I went out for ice cream at 12:30 A.M. I walked a while because I live in a pretty sleepy neighborhood in Berkeley, California. I had my hoodie up, because it was cold and it made it easier to listen to the podcast in my headphones. By the time I found a late-night convenience store, I had passed a few—by my eye—unsavory characters of all races. So, as I walked in the store I had to take some precautionary action. For starters, I took the hood down. I took it down even though my afro had become a flat-fro from being squashed underneath. I didn’t touch anything that I wasn’t absolutely sure I was going to buy. (Just like my mom had taught me.) I kept my hands out of my pockets with palms clearly visible so the clerk behind the counter could easily see that I wasn’t shoving things in—or maybe more importantly about to pull something out of—my pockets. And as soon as I decided on an It’s It ice-cream sandwich, I went directly to the counter and gingerly placed my selection down, again keeping my palms visible and only making the movements I needed to get the money out of my wallet.

Read more: http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2014/11/w-kamau-bell-black-in-america

Local Woman Latest To Come Forward Accusing Bill Cosby Of Being Sexual Predator (was only 15 y.o.)

Source: CBS Pittsburgh


Hill says when she was alone with Cosby the scenario was always the same. Cosby would insist she have a drink even though she was underage. She says she now believes she was drugged.

“One time, I remember just before I passed out, I remember him kissing and touching me and I remember the taste of his cigar on his breath, and I didn’t like it,” Hill said. “I remember another time when I woke up in my bed the next day and he was leaving, he mentioned you should probably lose a little weight. I thought that odd, how would he know that?”

Hill says after a while she began to put two and two together.

“I always thought it was odd that after I had this drink I would end up in my bed the next morning and I wouldn’t remember anything,” Hill said.

She says she doesn’t know if she was raped because she was unconscious.

“It just felt weird to me, and I remember being in high school saying to him, ‘I’ll come see you, but I don’t want to drink because it makes me feel funny,’” Hill said. “And he would tell me that if I didn’t drink, I couldn’t come see him.”


Hill says her family, including her husband and three daughters, were aware of her experience. She never told her story publicly, but after hearing Cosby’s attorney criticize the other women who have recently accused Cosby of sexual assault or misconduct, she decided to come forward.

She makes no apologies for waiting more than three decades to tell her story.

Read more: http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2014/11/20/local-woman-latest-to-come-forward-accusing-bill-cosby-of-being-sexual-predator/

Want to be a Scottish Laird, Lord or Lady?

Source: WDIV

A title company in Scotland is offering a unique opportunity -- one that they say is a great Christmas gift for someone who already has everything.

Highland Titles, an innovator in land preservation, is selling souvenir plots on its new estate in Lochabar, Scotland, which will grant owners the legal use of the Scottish title of Laird, Lord or Lady.

After many forests in Scotland have been destroyed by industry and farming, Highland Titles says by purchasing a plot you will be giving back and helping to increase the eco-conservation initiative around the world.

The idea of selling the plots is a new approach to land conservation, one that will help fund the rescuing of woodlands, tree planting, maintenance and acquisition of land, ensuring that it can't be purchased or developed on.

Read more: http://www.clickondetroit.com/news/want-to-be-a-scottish-laird-lord-or-lady/29845870

They even encourage you to visit your plot:

What can I do with my land?

As the new owner, you can come and find your plot; take a walk in the woods, take a photograph of your Estate, and picnic by the river.

The land is managed as a nature reserve, and you will be able to enjoy bird watching, fungi spotting, country pursuits and lots of tranquillity.

You are welcome to plant a tree or scatter ashes. If your estate is a large one (100 sqft or larger), you may wish to put your tent up and stay for a few days. As there may be a tree on your plot (it IS a wood), we permit large plot owners to camp anywhere on the estate.

Read more: http://www.highlandtitles.com/

Cool Christmas gift idea!

A pornographer (and atheist) explains why the science guy’s shirt crash-landed

Source: Raw Story

So, I’m a pornographer. I have written pornography, produced it, published it, edited it, sold it, bought it, reviewed it, modeled for it, narrated it, read it publicly, and performed in it. I have written, produced. published, edited, sold, bought, reviewed, modeled for, narrated, read, and performed in pornographic fiction, video, photography, comics, and probably other media I can’t remember now. (I’ve even written about erotic cave paintings. No, really.) I was a sex writer for decades before I was an atheist writer: in fact, my first several pieces of professionally published writing were for On Our Backs, the by-lesbians-for-lesbians sex magazine. I started working in pornography in 1989, and I’ve been doing it in some capacity, more or less constantly, ever since.


The particular incident that sparked this piece was the “sexy pinup girl” shirt that Rosetta Project scientist Matt Taylor wore while talking to reporters about the Philae comet landing. As a feminist — and as a pornographer — I think this was sexist, demeaning, and wildly inappropriate. There are appropriate places and times to wear clothing with sexual imagery on it — sex parties, erotica readings, erotic art openings, I can probably think of a few others. But the very public announcement of a major event in the history of scientific discovery — landing a robot on a comet! — is not one of those places or times.

Women in our culture, in case you haven’t noticed, are routinely reduced to purely sexual beings. We are routinely treated as if our brains, our talent, our imagination, our inspiration, are useless and trivial unless they’re applied to sex and sexual attractiveness. And the sexist treatment of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) is legendary, and very thoroughly documented.

So doing an interview about your team’s big science achievement while wearing a shirt with scantily-clad pinup girls does not say, “Sex is awesome!” It says, “Women are for sex.” It says, “Every woman working on this project, every woman working on a similar project, every woman working in STEM, every woman aspiring to work in STEM — this is what I think of you. Every girl dreaming of working in STEM someday — this is what I’ll think of you when you’re grown up. Tits and ass. That’s what you are to me.” And every one of Taylor’s colleagues and bosses, every person on the TV crew, who saw that shirt and didn’t say, “Dude, not cool” — every one of them said to all those women and girls, “Yeah, this is the norm in this field. If you decide to work here, this is what you’ll be running into — day after day after day after day after day. Get used to it, or get the hell out.” (Matt Taylor has since apologized for the shirt: however, there are still hordes of people who think the shirt was completely appropriate, as evidenced by the comments on the news story.)


And I am not a sexual prude because I bloody well want sexual imagery to be enjoyed consensually, in times and places that are appropriate, in times and places that don’t tell women, “Your intelligence, your insight, your hard work, your accomplishments — none of that will ever matter as much as your tits and ass.”

Read more: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/11/a-pornographer-and-atheist-explains-why-the-science-guys-shirt-crash-landed/

Smithsonian Announces BIG Plans for Campus Redesign (pics)

When the Smithsonian set out to find an architect for its south campus redesign—a 20-year project that will overhaul the Institution's oldest buildings—they cast an extremely wide net, searching both at home and abroad for a firm that could blend innovation with respect for historic buildings. After careful consideration, they settled on BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, a New York and Copenhagen based firm that bears both the name and vision of Bjarke Ingels, a 40-year-old architect from Denmark.

"The Smithsonian is the national museum of America, and it’s located right smack in the middle of the capital, framing the Mall on both sides. In terms of its cultural and historical significance, and of course also the content—the different museums and educational institutions that are a part of the Smithsonian—makes it a super interesting place to work with," says Ingels.

After nearly a year-and-a-half of planning, BIG has revealed its plans for the campus redesign, which includes renovations to the Smithsonian Castle, new entrances for the National Museum of African Art and the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and improved access to the Freer Gallery of Art and to the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.

"Where today each museum is almost like a separate entity, in the future, it’s going to be a much more open, intuitive and inviting campus to meander around," Ingels said.

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/smithsonian-announces-big-plans-campus-redesign-180953311/?no-ist

Men’s rights activist: Civilization fails when women and their vaginas are allowed in the workplace

Source: Raw Story

The founder of A Voice for Men, Paul Elam, went on “ManStream Media” to discuss how women have forever ruined the workplace and ended the possibility of humanity ever doing anything “excellent” again.

“There’s just a different way that men do things with each other,” he said, “and it results in excellence. In civilization. In the aqueducts being built. To people landing on the moon and cures being found to disease.”

Elam offered as an example of such excellence what happens at a construction site when some “newbie comes in and accidentally pulls the trigger on the nail gun and plants one in his leg. They’re not going to rush around him crying, they’ll say, ‘That’ll teach his ass. When he comes back to the job, he won’t do that again.’ But they will get him medical care.”

“I’m sorry, ladies,” he continued, “but if we want society to advance, we need to leave men alone to do their work — to do their thing and be with each other to get things done. Because that’s how it works.”

Read more: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/11/mens-rights-activist-civilization-will-fail-if-women-and-their-are-allowed-to-stay-in-the-workplace/

Michigan Lawmaker Poised To Resurrect Plan That Could Rig The Electoral College For Republicans

Source: Think Progress

Michigan’s legislative session is almost over, but an outgoing state lawmaker may still revive a voting bill that could rig the electoral college for Republicans.

Rep. Pete Lund (R) told Bridge Magazine that he plans to introduce a bill during the lame-duck session that would change the way electoral votes are counted. The new plan would make it more likely that a Republican could win the presidency, even though, as Bridge reports, “overall state voting patterns trend Democratic.” Twice before, Lund introduced bills that would achieve the Republican skew by changing how the electoral college works. Rather than having all 16 of the state’s electoral votes for president go to the candidate who gets the most state votes, as the system does now, the these proposals would give each congressional district one presidential vote, plus two extras for the winner.

The problem, as Bridge explains, is that “(b)ecause of the way the state’s congressional districts are drawn, Republicans dominate the vast majority of districts” despite state voting patterns that favor Democrats. In other words, the plan would magnify the impact of congressional gerrymandering designed to maximize Republican wins in Congress so that it would also shift the outcome of the presidential election.

This isn’t just a Michigan initiative. Over the past few years, several Republican lawmakers have coordinated behind a plan that would rig the Electoral College by shifting to plans like Michigan’s in several key blue states, while maintaining the current rules in red states.

Read more: http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2014/11/13/3592146/michigan-lawmaker-poised-to-resurrect-plan-that-could-rig-the-electoral-college-for-republicans/
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