Category: Uncategorized

A rape victim’s fight for justice in Nepal

Justice, Nepal
Click to enlargePhoto by Navesh Chitrakar

When Pooja Bohara heard that the two men who had dragged her into a toilet and raped her had been released from prison nine months ago, the Nepali teenager, seen above through a door of the Raksha Nepal rehabilitation centre, went into shock.

But despite being blamed and stigmatised by some in her community in western Nepal for reporting the rape and forced to seek refuge in the capital, the 17-year-old says she is not giving up her fight for justice.

“Society and some family members blame me. My uncle even suggested that I should be placed in a heap of straw and burnt to death, but my father was for justice,” said Bohara, sitting in the rehabilitation centre in Kathmandu.

“It is not our fault that we are raped. Victims should come out and tell their story to the courts and seek justice.”

The two men, who had been convicted and sentenced to 13 years imprisonment in March 2013, were acquitted by an appeals court last April due to a lack of evidence…

Growing awareness in Nepal of crimes against women has helped an increasing number of victims like Bohara to challenge a culture that often blames or shuns them into silence, say police and activists…

But despite improvements and greater awareness, most women still remain unaware of their rights and do not come forward to report crimes due to fears of stigmatisation, said Menuka Thapa, head of Raksha Nepal, the charity sheltering Bohara…

Mustering the courage to come forward and report violent crimes is just the first step in a long and often painful process to get justice. But Bohara is not waiting. The teenager has appealed to the Supreme Court, which is expected to hear her case later this month.

Another important chapter in Reuters’ “The Wider Image” series.

Converting Sunlight into Liquid Fuel” — this is what Obama was talking about

Barack Obama wants to convert sunlight into liquid fuel. It was a passing reference in the State of the Union address…If scientists can figure out how to do this, he said, it could “unleash new jobs.”

Currently there are three main ways to use solar power to propel cars and airplanes, but they all have problems:

Put solar panels on your vehicle. Given space limitations on a car, even very efficient solar panels would produce only two kilowatts of power…

Use solar panels to charge batteries or make hydrogen for fuel cells. Battery-powered cars are good for short trips and commuting, but batteries struggle to compete with gasoline, in terms of cost and weight, for longer driving…So far.

Use sunlight to grow plants and convert those plants into biofuels. Plants only convert 1 to 6 percent of the energy in sunlight into sugars and other biomass. So they require a lot of land, as well as tractors and fertilizer involving fossil fuels. The process of converting biomass to liquid fuels also consumes energy…

Obama is talking about using sunlight to produce energy-dense liquid fuels more directly. There are several ways to do this.

One is to engineer the microörganisms that make biofuels from sugar to get their energy from electricity instead…

Another option is to use solar panels to generate electricity, then use that electricity to perform electrochemistry. For example, you could split water to make hydrogen and break down carbon dioxide to get carbon, then combine the hydrogen and carbon to make hydrocarbon fuels much like gasoline or diesel.

A variation on this, known as artificial photosynthesis, would involve redesigning solar panels so that the electrons they produce do not generate an external electric current but drive electrochemical reactions inside the panel…

It all looks good on paper, but in reality there are big hurdles to making the technology work. Researchers have demonstrated parts of these processes, but never put them all together in an efficient, economic package.

Practically speaking, the only jobs these efforts will unleash in the near term involve doing the necessary research.

Which only means the research hasn’t traveled much further than proof-of-concept. Doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t happen within a reasonable period of time.

Truly ignorant folks will sit back and rely on gasoline staying under $2 a gallon forever. I remember when it was going to stay under 30¢ a gallon – forever.

First electric biker to earn Iron Butt

When someone tells Terry Hershner that an electric motorcycle can’t do a certain feat, he immediately begins trying to figure out how to prove them wrong. Seriously, the man is on a mission to show the world that electric transport is superior transport, with the two-wheeled mode being his validator of choice. The most recent example of this obsessive compulsion has led to him acquiring an iron butt.

For those unfamiliar with that term, relax, it’s not a medical condition. Rather, it means that he has officially traveled 1,000 miles or more in less than twenty-four hours on a motorcycle. In this case, an electric 2012 Zero S that he’s extensively modified, including the addition of an aerodynamic body kit created specifically for him by Craig Vetter, bunches of batteries (now 21 kilowatt-hours!), and nine separate chargers…

According to Hershner, he’s been told many times that this trip, with its lengthiness and time constraint would be impossible on a battery powered bike. So, he decided that the first day of National Drive Electric Week would be a good time to surmount the insurmountable.

Starting at 1:00 PM at Chargepoint headquarters – he would use that company’s chargers for the entire trip – he headed towards the Mexican border, about 500 miles away to the south. After covering 1,047 miles in 22 hours and 57 minutes, making nine charging stops along the way, he pulled back into that same parking lot with a big smile and joined the 53,000-plus members of the Iron Butt Association (IBA). Yes, there is such a thing.

I’m tired and tender just from watching his achievement.

Masturbation has health benefits


Joycelyn Elders – Surgeon General forced to resign by Republican backwardness, Democrat cowardice

Conduct an Internet search for “masturbation,” and you will find hundreds, if not thousands, of slang phrases for the act. This proliferation of slang phrases suggests people want to talk about masturbation, but are uncomfortable about doing so directly. Using comedic terms provides a more socially acceptable way to express themselves.

So before we talk any more about it, let’s normalise it a bit. Masturbation, or touching one’s own genitals for pleasure, is something that babies do from the time they are in the womb. It’s a natural and normal part of healthy sexual development.

According to a nationally representative US sample, 94% of men admit to masturbating, as do 85% of women. But societal perspectives of masturbation still vary greatly, and there’s even some stigma around engaging in the act. Related to this stigma are the many myths about masturbation, myths so ridiculous it’s a wonder anyone believes them.

They include: masturbation causes blindness and insanity; masturbation can make sexual organs fall off; and masturbation causes infertility.

In actual fact, masturbation has many health benefits…And there are plenty of additional benefits from orgasms generally, including reduced stress, reduced blood pressure, increased self-esteem, and reduced pain…

Talking about masturbation also has benefits. Promoting sex-positive views in our own homes and in society, including around masturbation, allows us to teach young people healthy behaviours and attitudes without stigma and shame.

Parents and guardians who feel embarrassed or need extra guidance to do this should seek out sex-positive sources of information, like ones from respected universities.

Or you could be truly stupid and talk to a priest or listen to some politician who worries about offending 14th Century sexual mores a heckuva lot more than supporting educated reason.

Acid-head shows up at pizza shop wearing just a towel, carrying a gun!

Engle jail

A Michigan man allegedly decided to drop acid and take a trip down to a local pizza place while only wearing a towel. Staff members at Happy’s Pizza in Muskegon Township were not too pleased to see Phillip Andrew Engle show up because he allegedly had a gun and three children with him when he arrived.

The 27-year-old began banging on the glass at the front of the pizzeria and his gun went off. He may have been angry about not being able to eat at the business, although it was open at the time and two employees were working.

No one was injured and Engle walked home after the gun discharged. Police found him sitting on his porch with his 40 caliber semi-automatic in hand. Officers asked him to drop the weapon and he complied.

According to Muskegon Township Police Chief Ken Sanford, Engle admitted to taking four hits of acid before the incident

After the officer defused the “potentially very dangerous situation,” Engle was arrested and brought to a local hospital to be evaluated.

Who says life in small town America is never interesting?

Colbert lampoons Steve Pearce – New Mexico’s primo Republican hypocrite

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 3.20.46 PM

Like any politician skewered by Colbert, Pearce has now passed beyond the deer-in-the-headlights stage and has his minions running hither and yon – trying to soften the effect of Colbert and his army of fans who laugh at what passes for a conservative in 21st Century America.

Thanks to Steve Terrell

Testicle-eating fish caught by Florida fisherman — fortunately. Unfortunately – he put it back in the water!


A Pacu caught in Michigan — WTF?

A Florida fisherman is thankful that he is still in one piece after an encounter with a member of the piranha family that purportedly has a penchant for poaching men’s private parts.

Tom Rigby was fishing in Sarasota when his line started jerking like crazy. After a battle with the fish, Rigby hauled it aboard his boat. When he examined the animal, Rigby realized he didn’t recognize the fish.

He took a photo of the unknown specimen, released it back into the water and then sent the picture to Mote Marine.

They quickly informed Rigby that he had caught a pacu, a member of the piranha family.

“I’m looking at all of the teeth, saying this thing can do some serious damage to another fish or something…”…Rigby was right to be nervous about the potential damage the pacu’s mouth could cause…”I found out it has a reputation for going after men’s testicles. I was just worried about it biting my finger,” he said.

Eeoough!

Everyone but complete idjits now supports background checks for all gun buyers

More than nine out of 10 U.S. voters support background checks for gun buyers and almost as many say the mentally ill should be barred from buying guns.

A Quinnipiac poll released Thursday found that gun owners are almost as likely as the general public to support background checks. And 89 percent of Republicans agree on the issue, only 3 percentage points lower than Democrats.

But only 50 percent said the country needs stricter laws to regulate guns, while 47 percent said they oppose such laws.

Which is a non sequitur.

“Americans are all in on stricter background checks on gun buyers and on keeping weapons out of the hands of the mentally ill,” said Tim Malloy, the Quinnipiac University Poll’s assistant director. “But when it comes to ‘stricter gun control,’ three words which prompt a negative reflex, almost half of those surveyed say ‘hands off.'”

After Adam Lanza killed his mother and 20 students and six teachers at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., and then took his own life, there were calls for stricter gun regulations. But the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups have lobbied successfully against new laws.

Lobbying – to describe what the NRA does – is a farce. The word is “threaten”. Money changes hands to cajole what faint conscience may exist in Congress. But, when the only question is “How high should I jump, boss?” – we’re only discussing athletic ability as a measure of cowardice.

Like civil rights and other questions requiring backbone, it will take a mighty grassroots movement to nudge most of our elected officials into an upright position.

BTW, the Quinnipiac poll is battling the Rasmussen poll for the position as cheapskate Republican poll – when they can’t afford Gallup. The tell on that is clear enough if you wander back to their numbers for Romney. So what? Even when conservative polls support sensible regulation of access to guns, the nutball fringe and their industry pimps in the NRA still scare Congress enough to stonewall action.