Saturday, October 10, 2009

Alexander, Corker Vote No On Punishing Rapists

Tennessee Senators Alexander and Corker decided to vote against a proposal to allow victims of rape to have a day in court - along with 28 other Republican senators this week. I'd bet that vote will not be mentioned in their campaign fliers and stump speeches for re-election. Tennessee voters and Tennessee media outlets should ask them to explain why they oppose allowing rape victims to prosecute their attackers in a court of law.

The case has been lightly covered by the national media, despite congressional hearings which examined the sexual assault of a 19 year old American woman, Jamie Leigh Jones, who was working in Iraq with Defense contractor Halliburton/KBR. Jones was drugged by male co-workers and gang raped in 2005, she was sodomized and her breast implants were ruptured during the attack. When she complained to her bosses, they locked her into a shipping container with no food or water for 24 hours under armed guard. She was able to get a cell phone thanks to a sympathetic guard and contacted her parents, who then contacted Congressman Ted Poe, a Republican from Texas, who helped encourage the State Department to remove her from KBR custody.

A long battle then began - KBR argued that Jones signed an agreement that disputes with her employer would be handled via arbitration only - no public court hearing allowed. They added a new policy for employees, too, banning the use of cell phones for personal calls. In September of this year, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that she does have a right to bring her case to court, that being gang-raped, drugged and held prisoner are not actions to be regarded as "work-related".

Sen. Al Franken introduced and passed legislation to withhold tax payer dollars and contracts to Defense companies if they restrict employees from taking cases of sexual assault and battery to court. And 30 Republican senators - including Alexander and Corker - voted against the legislation. Even America's Chamber of Commerce lobbied against the legislation.

Senators who voted No include Sen, John McCain and others:

Alexander (R-TN)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Bond (R-MO)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Burr (R-NC)
Chambliss (R-GA)
Coburn (R-OK)
Cochran (R-MS)
Corker (R-TN)
Cornyn (R-TX)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Ensign (R-NV)
Enzi (R-WY)
Graham (R-SC)
Gregg (R-NH)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Isakson (R-GA)
Johanns (R-NE)
Kyl (R-AZ)
McCain (R-AZ)
McConnell (R-KY)
Risch (R-ID)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Thune (R-SD)
Vitter (R-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

Since Jones first brought her case forward, many more other women working with the contractor have told how they too were sexually assaulted by Halliburton/KBR employees.

It's a shame the Senators Alexander and Corker support lawless and brutal crimes, hold Defense contractors above the law and consider rape and assault worthy of secrecy.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Giants Mark 20th Anniversary of the Fall of Berlin Wall

The Boston Globe has some amazing pictures of part of the ongoing celebration of the fall of the Berlin Wall, part of a massive photo essay. The story being enacted is performed by the French street theater company, Royal de Luxe. It tells a story of a young girl and her uncle, a deep sea diver, who helps to destroy the wall which separates him from his niece and is entitled The Berlin Reunion.

Estimates of the crowd say nearly 2 million people watched the unusual giant marionettes enact their story on the streets of Berlin.

Here's a sample of the images taken as the giant diver strolls past the Reichstag, Germany's parliament building and below an image of his giant niece. The full photo essay is here.

Glenn Beck Sees No Humor In Joke Website

A website which parodies the witless and base tactics employed by radio and TV talker Glenn Beck does not seem amuse Beck, so he's trying to shut it down. The satiric website has the grim name of Did Glenn Beck Rape and Murder A Young Girl In 1990?

Very rough stuff, no doubt, and what's worse, the site uses all the exact same rhetorical style Beck himself uses to concoct their outlandish posts, usually by demanding someone disprove or prove a negative comment, akin to the old cliche question of "Have you stopped beating your wife?"

Representatives from the parody website note "
... the owner of the website "has merely presented Mr. Beck with a mirror. If Beck does not like what he sees, the Respondent is not to blame."

Beck filed a formal complaint with an international Internet governing body asking the domain name be stripped from the current owner. And even that action is good material for the parody website, which posts: "
We find it ironic that Glenn Beck, realizing that the U.S. Constitution would stand in the way of trying to shut us down via the U.S. court system, decided to bring action against us before an international domain name arbitration panel. We're not saying he's not patriotic, but why would a patriotic American seek relief outside the U.S.? ... [we] will ensure that no matter which panelist is assigned to this case, the First Amendment will illuminate these proceedings like rays of light from the Torch of Liberty."

Ed Brayton at ScienceBlogs points out some pretty funny and fierce defense of the owner of the website from their attorney's filing about the complaint:

There is no indication that the Respondent has intentionally attempted to confuse anyone searching for Mr. Beck's own website, nor that anyone was unintentionally confused - even initially. Only an abject imbecile could believe that the domain name would have any connection to the Complainant.

We are not here because the domain name could cause confusion. We do not have a declaration from the president of the international association of imbeciles that his members are blankly staring at the Respondent's website wondering "where did all the race baiting content go?" We are here because Mr. Beck wants Respondent's website shut down. He wants it shut down because Respondent's website makes a poignant and accurate satirical critique of Mr. Beck by parodying Beck's very rhetorical style. Beck's skin is too thin to take the criticism, so he wants the site down. Beck is represented by a learned and respected legal team. Accordingly, it is beyond doubt that his counsel advised him that under the First Amendment to the United States' Constitution, no action in a U.S. Court would be successful. Accordingly, Beck is attempting to use this transnational body to circumvent and subvert the Respondent's constitutional rights."

Read more of Ed's take on the controversy here.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Still Some Fun Left In American Politics

Here's a political announcement that's one-of-a-kind. (thanks to Brittney for pointing this one out, and like she says, just watch it through to the end, it is worth it):