Friday, 31 December 2010

This Is Not An Invitation To Rape Me - Changing Attitudes on the Blame for Rape

Rape: treat the cause, not the symptom - The F-Word

After the rape attacks on female festival-goers this summer, platitudes are not the answer, argues Amy Nicholson

Safety advice given to festival-goers often covers the basics. Don’t leave valuables in your tent, don’t let fires get out of control, don’t leave camping gas cans somewhere they might explode. Since the despicable attacks at this month’s Latitude festival, standard safety advice will seemingly also extend to, if you are a female, be afraid of enjoying yourself, moving independently or wearing clothes that reflect the gorgeous weather we were able to enjoy.

Like every July for the past five years, I was at Latitude this summer. When word filtered through of first one, then a second rape attack, I was horrified, incandescent with rage and mightily sad for the women in question. This is nothing noteworthy - everyone, both male and female, I was with responded in roughly the same way.

In fact, a particularly bilious discussion followed on the mob justice that could ensue were the perpetrator found.

And it is this emotional reaction that often ensues in private discourse, no matter what the context of the rape. Crystal Castles, who played at Latitude, stunned and shocked a certain proportion of the family-filled crows on Saturday evening when vocalist Alice Glass urged the crowd to find and castrate the perpetrator. (The set hit the news for other reasons. Alice left the stage early, cutting short the Castles’ set because she got groped by someone in the crowd. I can’t decide if this is ironic or just really depressing.)

Melvin Benn of Festival Republic, organisers of Latitude, was immediately reported to be upping security and providing additional information on how to be safe to ‘young girls’, which included staying in groups after dark and avoiding unlit areas

Some argued this was unhelpful, and that quite rightly a violent response to violence is never justified, no matter what the motivation. This, I would agree with, but I wish that more acts that weekend, not to mention the organisers, had followed Alice’s lead, harnessed that rage reaction and shouted it from every stage and platform throughout the site. No-one wants to be reminded of a brutal attack when they’re on holiday, but to let it slide out of consciousness in the one forum in which any potential witnesses were to be found is a great disservice to the victims and a wider justice.

Boots.jpgThe subsequent reaction from the festival’s organisers, however, was an extra sucker-punch, a further swift kick that the women who were attacked, their friends and indeed everyone at the festival didn’t need. Melvin Benn of Festival Republic, organisers of Latitude, was immediately reported to be upping security and providing additional information on how to be safe to “young girls”, which included staying in groups after dark and avoiding unlit areas. This, I felt, was akin to banning cars because they keep getting stolen.

In doing so, Benn has followed the wrong path that so often happens in the light of such an attack - he has shifted focus from the attacker, and the attack, to the victim. The implication is that had the ‘girl’ (the victims were 19 and 17 respectively. The use of the word girl is diminutive at best) were in some part responsible for the attack. Had they followed the soon-to-be-issued security advice, they could have avoided such a dehumanising ordeal.

A woman’s body is not a security risk

But the responsibility here is not with these women, nor the women who were similarly attacked at T in the Park earlier this month. The responsibility for the attacks lies with the men who committed them in the first place and this, as ever, remains in the shadows. With the criminally low prosecution rate for rape in this country alone, it is time to effect a cultural shift in the way that we respond in the aftermath.

Rape cannot remain as dirty a word as it is an act. It should not be something restrained from polite company. As long as it is happening, it should be in conversations taking place on every level to make it known that rape is not something to bring shame to anyone except the attacker.

It seems facetious to say that men should be told more regularly not to rape - of course it is beyond comprehension for the majority. But without greater targeting of anti-rape campaigning at men (the vast majority of perpetrators are male) we will not escape the cultural suspicion that, in a lot of cases, it was at least partly the victim’s fault.

Rape victims are not to blame, and should not be held remotely accountable because of their clothes, their appearance, whatever they have chosen to imbibe. Stand up, Melvin, and say to your male festival-goers - don’t rape people. Say it again. Put up posters if you have to, write a jingle and advertise it on the radio, just say it and say it again.

There is a dearth of direct education about rape for people of all ages. There is, further, a lack of education pertaining to the importance of respect and trust, and the roles that these faculties play in a proper sexual relationship. This deficiency has led to a blurring of the definitions between what constitutes rape and what constitutes sex. And again and again, like throwing peas at a wall, we find ourselves returning to the problem of objectification.

Make the perpetrator, not the victim, the focus of your response.

A woman’s body is not a security risk. A woman’s body is not an unsecured fire, a wallet peeking out of a back pocket. A woman who wants to go to the toilet unaccompanied is not an invitation to a violent criminal, and the longer it is treated as such the more regularly attacks like this will be blamed on the victim.

I have been going to festivals since I was 14 and have had unilaterally brilliant experiences (unlike a friend of mine, who had the misfortune to be in a portaloo that got tipped at Reading) and I know that thousands of women every year continue to do so. Melvin Benn, Festival Republic, T in the Park, do not turn your attention to the women and frighten younger generations of music-lovers out of some of the most incredible experiences of their lives. Make the perpetrator, not the victim, the focus of your response. Horrific crime may be proportionally lower per capita at a festival, but it is still abhorrent. Do not let it slip from your minds and be forgotten, dismissed as something that is almost inevitable, a simple matter of probability.

While these horrific acts can happen in the shadows and remain the topics of hushed conversation, they will continue to carry the stigma of shame. It is time for the responsibility to be put where it belongs, and the fury and rage to be directed where it should - at the rapists - at not left languishing in private conversation and out of the public forum. Learn from Alice Glass and wear your anger on the outside.

Web SE38 Rape crisis 48-sheet-1.jpg

Wonder Woman wellies at Latitude festival: picture taken by D G Jones on Flickr. ‘This is not an invitation to rape me’ campaign poster from Rape Crisis Scotland. Details of this campaign are available on the campaign website

About the author

Writer, editor, stand-up and feminist Amy Nicholson lives in Norwich. When she’s not writing, editing, standing-up or feministing, she enjoys music, kung fu and being with her brilliant friends

Amy Nicholson
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Updated: 23 July 2010
Article ©Amy Nicholson. Compilation ©2001-2011 The F-Word.
All rights reserved. Used with permision.

White Ribbon Campaign UK Blog

Article in the Yorkshire Post  04 November 2010
By Sheena Hastings

“TOM” (not his real name) is now 43. He was psychologically and
sexually abused and beaten by people within his close family when he was a child. His parents were also violent towards each other. These experiences made Tom determined not to ill-treat others.

“But I did become this person I didn’t want to be and thought I wasn’t,” he says. “I married a wonderful girl and at the beginning we were so happy. But in time I started to treat her badly – first of all with emotional abuse and blackmail. After that the physical stuff began. I think I took out all my feelings about my own suffering on her. I don’t know how she put up with it, and I didn’t deserve her, but after each episode I would be genuinely ashamed and sorry.”

Tom and his wife had two children, but instead of parenthood settling Tom down, he continued to beat his wife regularly. “Drink was often involved, although I can’t blame it on the booze. It lessens inhibitions, but it was only an accessory. I had this pressure cooker building up steam inside me, and drink made it a bit easier for the top to blow off. I felt terrible sorrow after hitting her, but the old traits sneaked back time after time.”

Tom’s wife never reported him to the police – perhaps for fear of splitting up the family – but matters came to a head 16 months ago. The children were becoming badly affected and their mother had to protect them, so she threw Tom out.

“That was really what I needed to make me wake up,” he says. “I went to the GP and asked for help, and was told about the domestic violence charity STOP, which works with both male and female perpetrators of domestic violence to change their behaviour.

“I’ve been going there for a year, sitting in a circle with some of the most violent offenders in Yorkshire. There’s no such thing as a cure, but I have learned to think of the consequences if I behave violently again and have been given mechanisms to stop myself before I get started. I have also given up drinking.”

After more than a year apart, Tom’s wife took him back a few months ago. “She stuck with me through thick and thin, but she wouldn’t let me go home until I’d proven that I’d tackled the problem. Since going back, we have been happier than ever before. But many people had distanced themselves, including family members, and I still have to work at getting some of them to believe I’ve changed.”

Tom continues to attend a weekly two-hour session run by Leeds-based and Lottery-funded STOP, which acts as a debrief on his week, and involves sharing feelings about abuse and reinforcing techniques for controlling anger, with other violent men, some of whom have been to prison due to domestic violence.

Today, if Tom feels the tight chest and rapid heartbeat that signal anger, he goes for a walk for half- an-hour to calm down. “It’s awful to admit you were an abuser, but anyone can change if they want to,” he says.

Later this month, Leeds will become the UK’s first major city to be awarded White Ribbon status by the White Ribbon Campaign, a movement started in Canada, whose British arm is organised by Hebden Bridge-based Chris Green. White Ribbon is run by men to help put an end to violence against women, and the award to Leeds City Council is in recognition of the work undertaken across the city on domestic violence – a crime that is usually hidden from view unless a victim is brave enough to speak out or a perpetrator comes out and seeks help.

The council’s Safer Leeds team is responsible for anti-domestic violence strategy, which includes improving services to women, developing community support and developing preventative and educational work.

“Domestic violence is a massively under-reported crime,” says Michelle de Souza, head of the domestic violence team. “White Ribbon is about raising awareness among non-violent men and getting people talking about the problem. There is a lot of collusion – for instance, a group of men may know that their mate hits his wife and they disapprove but would never challenge.

“Male on male aggression is rewarded and male aggression to women is frowned upon, but in an abstract way. We need people to challenge the behaviour of abusive men.”

An important element in public education on domestic violence lies in tackling the attitudes and behaviour of the young, says Dave Downs, a former miner and professional rugby player who later ran his own business employing 300 night club bouncers all over the country. He has never beaten his wife, but he says working on club security “inevitably” led him to become violent.

After two sentences for GBH totalling six years, he knew he would end up in prison again if he didn’t change jobs. “I was luckily offered work as conditioning coach at Featherstone Rovers, and I specialised in wrestling techniques for rugby.

“While in prison I kept fit and was introduced to Tai Chi and Aikido. Aikido is not at all about aggression; it centres on calmness and concentration.”

Through Featherstone Rovers and other rugby clubs, Dave was invited to work with groups of young men who needed to learn anger management, and Dave’s regime is now in demand by schools and youth offending teams, to provide sessions to offenders given supervision orders rather than custodial sentences.

Dave has worked with schools in Leeds to widen awareness of the possible consequences of giving vent to aggressive feelings and teach anger management.

“I’ve done classes with kids who are on the verge of exclusion because of their violent behaviour and language,” says Dave.

“Because of my background – and I’m not proud of it, but it does make them listen – they know I’m telling them the truth when I describe the reality of life in prison. It’s not the ‘doss’ they think it is.

“I teach them about the benefits of martial arts in keeping them calm, and the positives they’ll get from good nutrition, regular sport and listening to others. They learn new triggers, like bringing to mind what they would most hate to lose if they went to prison.”

Youth Crime Reduction Officer Sergeant Bob Bowman says his work across the city, co-ordinating with police officers working in schools, is part of the city’s work in changing the attitudes of some young people.

“There are some young men who have learned bad attitudes and they come to school and act abusively towards young women. Some young women collude by acting as though this behaviour is okay. Staff identify students who need to be made aware of the offensiveness of their words and actions. Sometimes a whole family is called in to discuss what’s going on. We talk to problem teenagers about anger control and what ‘reasonable’ behaviour is. It seems hard to believe, but some young men don’t know they are breaking the law when they sexually assault a young women in the corridor.”

November 25 is International White Ribbon Day,


In the UK…

45 per cent of women have experienced some form of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

At least 32 per cent of children, mostly girls, experience some form of child sexual abuse.

At least 80,000 women suffer rape every year.

In a survey for Amnesty International, more than one in four respondents thought a women was partially or totally responsible for being raped
if she was wearing revealing clothing, and more than one in five held the same view if a woman had had many sexual partners.

On average, two women a week in England and Wales are killed by a violent partner or ex-partner. This constitutes nearly 40 per cent of all female homicide victims.

70 per cent of incidents of domestic violence result in injury (compared with 50 per cent of incidents of acquaintance violence, 48 per cent of stranger violence and 29 per cent of muggings).

Around 85 per cent of forced marriage victims are women.

Domestic violence is estimated to cost victims, services and the state around £23bn a year.

Between August 2009 and July 2010, West Yorkshire Police recorded 9,332 incidents of domestic violence.

70 per cent of domestic violence incidents result in injury. On
average, two women in England and Wales are killed each week by a partner or ex-partner.

White Ribbon UK

'Stop Blame' Campaign from Welsh Assembly

The Welsh Assembly Government is launching a new campaign on 17th December called "Stop Blame" aimed at challenging "blame culture" and common myths around rape and sexual assault. It's  and will be going live tomorrow. The campaign will consist of outdoor posters, radio adverts and a website (, which will include a video and further information to challenge common rape myths, focusing on:

  • Drink (myth that women who have consumed alcohol are responsible if they're raped)
  • Dress (myth that revealing clothing = "asking for it")
  • Demeanour (myth that flirting = asking for it / that a woman is to blame if she's raped following some consensual sexual activity)
  • Domestic (challenging the "stranger rape" myth and the idea that if you're in a relationship/married, it's not "really" rape)
    Dayncourt School and Nottingham DV Forum Support White Ribbon

    White Ribbon Campaign would like to thank Dayncourt Comprehensive School and Nottingham Domestic Violence Forum for all their hard work.   Jude Long Domestic Violence Coordinator at Nottingham Domestic Violence Forum has been working with Dayncourt School to promote White Ribbon issues in the school.  The activity she coordinated was with a group of 200 year 7-8 students forming a people white ribbon.  The school are set to receive their Silver Award in the New Year.

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Malgré les intérêts économiques de la Bolivie, dont les exportations vers les Etats-Unis sont appréciables, la relation bilatérale s’est détériorée par l’excès de rhétorique gouvernementale et la hausse de la production de cocaïne, à en croire les télégrammes du département d’Etat obtenus par WikiLeaks et révélés par Le Monde.

Le chef de cabinet, Juan Ramon Quintana, et le vice-président, Alvaro Garcia Linera, avaient pourtant sollicité une aide accrue des Etats-Unis dans la lutte contre les stupéfiants. En février 2006, M. Quintana assurait que l’agence anti-drogues américaine, la DEA, était la "bienvenue" dans la région du Chapare, fief de M. Morales, dirigeant des "cocaleros", les cultivateurs de la feuille de coca.

En octobre 2006, M. Garcia Linera exprimait à M. Goldberg sa "gratitude". Le vice-président se présente alors comme l’interlocuteur privilégié des Américains, prêt à répondre au téléphone à toute heure. Il propose même au nouvel ambassadeur de l’appeler par son prénom : "call me Alvaro".

Face aux fréquentes déclarations antiaméricaines du chef de l’Etat, M. Garcia Linera admet que le gouvernement devrait "baisser le ton" et demande à M. Goldberg "une bonne dose de patience". L’ambassadeur lui fait remarquer qu’être accusé de conspiration et de tentatives d’assassinat du président "est en dessous des normes acceptées de la diplomatie et du discours politique".


Dès décembre 2006, La Paz annonce son intention d’étendre la surface autorisée des plantations de feuilles de coca, passant de 12 000 hectares à 20 000. "Les stupéfiants restent au centre de la relation bilatérale, note un "mémo" de février 2007. Ce n’est pas surprenant, étant donné que le président Morales est le leader des fédérations de coca du Chapare."

Une note d’août 2007 souligne "l’incohérence de la politique du gouvernement bolivien à l’égard de la coca". En même temps, "pour distraire l’opinion des problèmes internes, les officiels utilisent la rhétorique antiaméricaine et accusent les Etats-Unis de financer l’opposition".

Les choses se dégradent assez vite. Washington est bientôt obligé de demander l’aide du conseiller diplomatique du président brésilien Lula, Marco Aurelio Garcia, pour que l’ambassade américaine à La Paz soit protégée des manifestations hostiles, révèle un télégramme de juin 2008. Brasilia accepte d’intervenir en ce sens. "Le Brésil a dit au gouvernement bolivien qu’il devrait modérer la rhétorique et régler ses disputes s’il veut avancer."

Le conseiller de Lula "ne voit pas comment un conflit avec les Etats-Unis peut être bénéfique pour la Bolivie". Brasilia fera savoir ensuite qu’il "avait transmis clairement au gouvernement bolivien l’importance de cesser de provoquer les Etats-Unis".


Lors d’une rencontre avec le secrétaire d’Etat adjoint Thomas Shannon, en juillet 2008, le président Morales s’excuse pour le harcèlement de l’ambassade à La Paz, mais les positions restent distantes. Peu après, en septembre, l’ambassadeur Goldberg est déclaré persona non grata en Bolivie. Cette mesure sera suivie en novembre par l’expulsion des agents de la DEA. Washington réplique par la suspension des préférences douanières dont bénéficiait la Bolivie (et les autres pays andins) au titre de l’effort fourni contre le trafic de drogues.

La principale accusation contre M. Goldberg a été d’avoir tenté d’"unifier l’opposition". Pourtant, un rapport secret montre, dès décembre 2006, le scepticisme de l’ambassadeur à l’égard des principaux opposants. Ainsi, les futurs candidats à la présidence Manfred Reyes Villa et Samuel Doria Medina sont traités de "dinosaures". L’ancien président Jorge "Tuto" Quiroga, très actif, est considéré "sans importance".

Aujourd’hui, les Américains ne sont plus les seuls préoccupés par la dérive bolivienne en matière de stupéfiants. Selon un "mémo" de novembre 2009, "les Européens notent l’augmentation de la production de coca, craignent l’introduction d’organisations criminelles d’autres pays et reconnaissent la perte de capacité des autorités boliviennes après l’expulsion de la DEA".

L’Europe, principale destinataire de la cocaïne produite en Bolivie, n’est pas en mesure de combler le vide laissé par l’agence américaine.

Selon les estimations de l’Union européenne, la surface cultivée de coca atteint 32 000 à 34 000 hectares (l’Office des Nations unies contre la drogue et le crime l’évalue à 30 500 hectares). En décembre 2009, les Boliviens eux-mêmes, du moins leur Force spéciale de lutte contre le narcotrafic, admettent l’explosion de la cocaïne à Cochabamba, Santa Cruz et El Alto. Environ 44 000 familles du Chapare et 26 000 familles de la région de Los Yungas (La Paz) vivent des plantations de coca (sur une population de 9 millions).

Paulo A. Paranagua

instant search google -

What people said about instant search google...

Search engine outfit Google has been accused of nicking its idea for instant search from a British developer.Pal Sahota claims to have "invented search-as-you-type" in 1989 and has proof.Instant Search for Google - Instant Search for Google brings Web, Local Phonebook, Video, News, and Blog search to Android. - Android Freeware Apps and Games.In support of natural search results so far Google Instant hasn't affected the ranking or the position of your site. On the contrary that doesn't imply that it will not have an effect regarding traffic visiting your site. ...A recent patent has been granted to Google for 'instant' search United States Patent 7836044. I understand that Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo and others have also patients on similar products. I believe this to be a prior art pioneered by me ...Google's new “Instant” is an interesting and not surprising addition to the online search world. Some have gone so far as to suggest it makes search engine optimization (SEO) irrelevant. I wouldn't go that far, and consider the notion a ...The availability of Instant Search, which Displays search results as you type, does not provide Google with more search requests, according to Comscore.We saw the onslaught of “optimizing for local search” promotions, the re-introduction of Bing, Google Instant Search, Google Places, and most recently, the confirmation that YES, Google is in fact paying attention to our online activity ...Then again, with Bing close on its heels (at least metaphorically), Google has recently put the petal to the metal, launching a slew of new features like Instant search (for desktop and mobile), Instant previews, Real time, ...So How It Impact the our search stat , traffic, keywords - a Data Comparison. Start : Select date range in Google Analytics before instant; Export all keywords in a spreadsheet; Again Select date range in Google Analytics after instant. ...During this time, it is no coinsidence that 20 of the 26 letters of the alphabet, now feature well known brands in the initial instant search results. it goes without saying that many people who type “A” into Google UK search may well ...

Happy new year to all my visitors! « Cliffsull's Blog

I would like to dedicate this blogpost to all those who have done and continue visiting my blogs.
Its been a funny old year.
It began with high hopes that change would come about in the UK with the election in May and all supporters of the Freegary were delighted to see the back of Labour – a party which had been eroding Citizens rights by bowing to USA demands when it came to Extradition.
The election of two men into Government who had stated publicly they believed the Extradition of Gary mcKinnon was wrong – gave Garys family and his supporters hope for change.
Unfortunately – despite the case being brought up with Obama personally while David Cameron was on a US visit – both leaders have done nothing substantive.
Yes – the Home secretary has halted the extradition – but only to allow for a re-assessment of Garys health and that assessment is to be carried out by a doctor who has NO full understanding of Aspergers – thus – its like sending an electrician to mend a hole in a submarine.
But the fight will go on!
Happy new year everybody – may all your dreams come true :)

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Dear Gay Teens :: Jeff Rago

Dear Gay Teens

September 30th, 2010

Jeff Rago

Gay Teens

Photo by Tina Phillips

My heart is breaking right now. A piece of my soul has died. Another shining light in our future has gone dark. With the news of the 4th LGBT youth committing suicide in September, we are on the road to an epidemic that I am having a hard time wrapping my head around.

I did not personally know these young men but I do know them.  I know their confusion. I know their longing for acceptance. I know their fear.

Lives are being lost as religion and politics struggle to define what is acceptable in our society. Twelve years ago next week, Matthew Shepard was beaten to death for being gay. Beating has turned to bullying. Both lead to the same outcome. This is unacceptable.

Gay. Straight. Black. White. Male. Female. We are all human. This is the thread that connects us. Christian. Jewish. Democrat. Republican. Adult. Child. We all need to be loved. This is the fabric that protects us.

Last night I came across a status update that my friend had reposted from a friend of a friend. Although I have never met Melissa, she was able to put into words everything I was and am feeling:

Dear Gay Teens:

Your life is worth living. I promise you that you will find love, you will find people who value you for who you are, and you will have a life that’s so much better than the haters will ever have. You will be loved and appreciated by an entire community of people, gay and straight, ready to accept you with open arms. Stay alive and meet us after high school in a city near you, my darlings.

Melissa Hillman

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

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21 Responses to “Dear Gay Teens”

  • I read about Tyler on BBC News this morning. It’s tragic that his roommate felt the need to embarrass him publicly. If convicted, 5 years is not enough time.

    Makes me wonder, where did we as a culture go so wrong?

  • And how does an Assistant DA post a hate blog about a gay student body president, hide behind it being a political campaign (what???? in essence – he is president of a STUDENT COUNCIL), and keep his job?

  • Just a reminder from our lady of liberty: Give me your tired, your poor,
    Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…

  • Enid Nichols says:

    This is indeed tragic. I can’t help but think of all of the wonderful men and women that I know that were once in this situation. I lost a friend shortly after high school due to the fact that his partner would never admit to being romantically involved with another man, along with a family that had already ostracized him. There are so many in the gay community that have made such amazing contributions to us all.

    The bottom line is that we are ALL God’s children. In the United States our pledge says,”…with liberty and justice for ALL.” See, it says – “ALL”, not just some, not just those that we think are deserving, but ALL.

    • Preach it, Enid. And Amen!!!

      • Enid Nichols says:

        You know Jeff, I just can’t stop thinking about this whole horrible situation. I know that this unfortunately, is not uncommon, but it has really hit a raw nerve with me. I go from being so very, very sad, to extremely angry, to horrified, you name it – the emotions have run the gammut. The cruelty of people is really stunning. This was not only a very bright and talented young man, he was someone’s friend, and beyond that he was someone’s son.

        The wonderful and amazing things that he would have accomplished in his life will never be. I am glad that you and others are bringing attention to this, and that as a result there will be fewer who feel that their situation is so hopeless. Again, I cannot help but think of all of the wonderful men and women in the gay community that I have been so priviledged to know over the years, and what joy and light that they have brought to so many on this earth. Thank you for giving so much, and for helping these young people through their struggles.


        • Many people including myself feel the same way. I hope that these tragedies will not be in vain and we as a society can learn and grow and become better humans because of it. I think the fact that we are talking about this is a step in the right direction.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m honored and deeply humbled.

  • I hope a lot of gay teens get to read this. Melissa’s message is very universal. It is indeed very lonely growing up gay. And Melissa’s message comes as an embrace freely given. Thank you Melissa. And thank you Jeff for sharing this.

  • As an educator, I have seen bullying first hand, even down to elementary kids, it’s got to stop. Thank you for caring Jeff.

  • Good post Jeff, I’d like to say that my interest in this topic is for the good of human nature regardless of anyone’s sexual preference or being for that matter. I hate bully’s.

    I often say if you want world peace, kill all the humans. Until we can learn to rise above our animal nature from youth to be better to our fellow man, our species will not evolve. We spend trillions killing people rather than feeding them. Until we can rise above our base nature of fear, ignorance and self loathing rage, can we improve. If you dont like something look in the mirror, its a reflection of yourself.

    We should start by teaching children from youth more about tolerance and about human nature. Instead of teaching them from ancient tomes designed for manipulation, control, money and enticing people to kill. Then we wonder why our society is a final product of that mess. People need to work at being the best products of good human nature they can to teach children a better way.


    Chris Voss

    • Thank you for your comment, Chris. The focus of the blog is on LGBT youth but the epidemic of bullying goes well beyond this demographic. My hope is that one day people can treat each other with dignity and respect and celebrate the differences that make us individuals. In the end we all want to be loved but sometimes fear and ignorance get in the way of human compassion.

      • chris voss says:

        Right on Jeff, we must learn tolerance and understanding of each other, regardless of demographic. Anger leads us blind. We are all, humans being, as such to be honored and respected. We should lift each other up, all of us for OUR betterment.


  • …and Jeff if I can respectfully add that this effort is not a flag raised, for which we begin to divide ourselves in prejudices. Us vs. Them? The flags are the problem, lifted against each other. Do not join their narrow mindedness We are all human flesh and souls fighting to endure, won or lost, its a team effort. We are organisms fighting for survival. I should not have to specify a subset of your interests beyond the reach of the fact that you have that flesh and soul struggling to survive against mother nature, not unlike I. Cancer and death eats at our organisms regardless of preferences, political party or whether we worship rocks. When I see an individual, I see a human seeking its being, to be extended. There should be no separation, but together we support each other to find the betterment of ourselves and each others being. We are all tested to stretch our limits, thats what makes us humans being. Our job under mother nature is to endure in any circumstance and mother nature knows no flag other than a surviving organism. The rest is academic time encapsulated redneck ignorance. “One thing Man can learn from Man’s history, is that man learns nothing from his history” His fallacy is his nature for division and his need for flags. Divided against ourselves we conquer ourselves and no one wins. Its a shame that there is a base is our medieval society you may feel prejudiced upon, but we rise unto the ethics and humanity of ourselves to the sets of beings that shine beyond example. Throughout history, people setting a higher example have always stood forth to give rise to the vision of human nature. Shine on. Take and give no slight and play not against yourself and humanities good, no flags taken against The Human.

    Chris Voss

    • Beautifully said, Chris. Thank you for these thoughts. We spend so much time categorizing people that sometimes we overlook the fact that no matter what we all belong to the “human” category.

  • I am not from your country but i am disheartened by these tragic deaths recently. I can’t believe how persecuting man can be against another for merely being different. Yes, we are all human but it takes a lot to be a “man”.

BBC News - Hackers crack open mobile network

31 December 2010 Last updated at 10:49

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Hackers crack open mobile network

Man using mobile, PA Security researchers have shown how to eavesdrop on any GSM call

Mobile calls and texts made on any GSM network can be eavesdropped upon using four cheap phones and open source software, say security researchers.

Karsten Nohl and Sylvain Munaut demonstrated their eavesdropping toolkit at the Chaos Computer Club Congress (CCC) in Berlin.

The work builds on earlier research that has found holes in many parts of the most widely used mobile technology.

The pair spent a year putting together the parts of the eavesdropping toolkit.

"Now there's a path from your telephone number to me finding you and listening to your calls," Mr Nohl told BBC News. "The whole way."

He said many of the pieces in the eavesdropping toolkit already existed thanks to work by other security researchers but there was one part the pair had to create themselves.

"The one piece that completed the chain was the ability to record data off the air," he said.

In a demonstration at the CCC, the pair took attendees through all the steps that led from locating a particular phone to seizing its unique ID, then leap-frogging from that to getting hold of data swapped between a handset and a base station as calls are made and texts sent.

Key to grabbing the data from the air were cheap Motorola phones which can have their onboard software swapped for an open source alternative.

"We used the cheap Motorola telephones because a description of their firmware leaked to the internet," he said.

This led to the creation of open source alternative firmware that, he said, has its "filters" removed so it could see all the data being broadcast by a base station.

Bunch of keys, BBC The eavesdropping work builds on earlier work to list GSM encryption keys

This allows attackers to home in on the data they need to eavesdrop, said Mr Nohl. The encryption system that scrambles this data can be defeated using a huge list of encryption keys, called a rainbow table, that Mr Nohl generated in a separate research project.

"Any GSM call is fair game," he said.

GSM is the name of the technology used on the vast majority of mobile phone networks around the world. The GSMA, which represents operators and phone makers, estimates that there are more than five billion GSM mobiles in use around the world.

The GSMA has not responded to requests for comment about the research.

Playing around

Simeon Coney, a spokesman for mobile security firm Adaptive Mobile, said the work looked fairly thorough.

"Especially interesting is how the attack is aimed at a specific target phone, which could lead to malicious interest of high value targets," he added.

"This isn't an attack that is today readily repeatable yet by the anyone unfamiliar with the underlying technology," he said. "However, it does illustrate the manners in which the mobile phone system could be compromised in a focussed attack in less protected markets."

Mr Nohl said that before now commercial equipment that could spy on calls cost upwards of £35,000. The kit demonstrated at the Berlin event cost far less than that, he said. For instance, the Motorola phones used to grab data cost only 10 euros (£9) each.

Despite showing off the entire eavesdropping kit, there were no plans to release all of it for others to use, said Mr Nohl.

However, recreating the missing parts would not be difficult for a tech savvy amateur, he added.

"I expect people to do it for the fun of doing it."

Mr Nohl said the motivation for carrying out the research was to create awareness around the problem and perhaps prompt operators to improve security.

A few simple steps could make it much harder for eavesdroppers, he said.

"Raising their awareness is the most likely outcome, but the technical changes would be better."

BBC News - In pictures: Australia floods

BBC News - Australia: Queensland floods spur more evacuations

31 December 2010 Last updated at 11:31

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Australia: Queensland floods spur more evacuations

Flooded streets in Emerald, Queensland There are major concerns for the town of Emerald, now largely cut off by water

Thousands more people are preparing to evacuate their homes as one of Australia's worst floods continues to inundate the state of Queensland.

Forced evacuations are being planned in Rockhampton as rising floodwaters threaten the town of 77,000.

Australian PM Julia Gillard has visited flooded Bundaberg, and flew over Emerald as evacuations there continued.

The floods have affected about 200,000 people over an area larger than France and Germany, Queensland's premier says.

An estimated 22 towns have been left isolated or inundated by the rising waters, with fears that damage could cost billions of Australian dollars to repair.

The situation in Emerald - a town of some 11,000 people - was particularly bad, Premier Anna Bligh told reporters.

There was also major concern for Rockhampton, where residents are said to be attempting to stockpile bread and fresh fruit and vegetables.

"We've seen lots of panic buying of food. Shelves in shopping centres are empty," Rockhampton resident Petros Khalesirad told the BBC.

"But I think people have been over-reacting. We have groceries arriving today and in the worst case scenario, the military will be involved in helping."

Continue reading the main story


  • North-eastern Australian state
  • Largely tropical climate
  • Area: 1.73 million sq km (668,000 sq mile)
  • Coastal regions, including Great Barrier Reef, designated World Heritage Site
  • Mining and cattle ranching important inland

Officials in Rockhampton - where the floods peak could be up to 48 hours away - said a shift was under way from voluntary evacuations to compulsory relocation.

"Police will order people in affected areas to leave their homes," Mayor Brad Carter said.

Elderly people and other at-risk groups would be the first moved out of their properties, officials said.

Speaking as she toured affected areas with the prime minister, Ms Bligh described the flooding as "a long way from over".

"Authorities think there will be a very large group of people who will be homeless in the next 24 hours.

"We now have three major river systems in flood; we have 17 evacuation centres active; we have more than 1,000 people in those evacuation centres and many more thousands staying with relatives and friends."

Helicopter evacuations

Officials said the situation in Emerald remained uncertain and could yet get worse if floodwaters continue to rise.

The Nogoa River was due to peak on Friday afternoon, and 1,200 residents had already registered as evacuees before the waters hit their peak.

Helicopters including army Black Hawks have been ferrying residents to safer locations.

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More than half of Queensland is now a disaster zone

Julia Gillard and Anna Bligh were due to visit Emerald on Friday but were unable to land, instead flying over the area to get an aerial view of the devastation.

Ms Gillard's first stop on land was in Bundaberg, which has seen its worst flooding for four decades and has been split in two by the swollen Burnett River. Waters there are now receding.

She spoke to evacuees and volunteers, and was briefed on the rescue and recovery effort.

"As devastating as these floods are, we are seeing a magnificent response by all levels of government and by emergency personnel," Ms Gillard said.

Two smaller towns, Theodore and Condamine, have been completely evacuated. In Condamine some residents had been refusing to leave their houses.

Recovery work following the floods is expected to cost billions of dollars, with officials warning of severe damage to homes, crops and livestock.

Sewerage systems have also been affected, raising public health concerns.

Petros Khalesirad told the BBC that Rockhampton was well-prepared but the effect on Queensland as a whole would be significant.

"These floods are going to affect the state, the whole nation. It's going to have a huge impact on mining commodities - several coal mines are under water and some won't be operational for months."


Are you in Australia? Have you been affected by the floods? Have you been forced to leave your house? You can send your comments and pictures to us using the form below.

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BBC News - NI Water examines its response to the crisis

31 December 2010 Last updated at 12:09

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NI Water examines its response to the crisis

First Minister Peter Robinson says the response of NI Water has been "shambolic"

The board of Northern Ireland Water will meet later to reflect on how the company has handled the ongoing water supply crisis.

They will report their findings in the coming days to Regional Development Minister Conor Murphy.

About 5,000 homes remain without running water.

NI Water has said that 20,000 properties will have an on/off supply, all of them in the east of Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, former Northern Ireland Water acting chief executive Christopher Mellor, who was sacked in March, has described the water crisis as a "disaster waiting to happen".

"I think this is what happens when you get rid of the directors at the top of NIW, who knew what they were doing, and replace them with people who have no experience of running a water utility.

"In my view, the politicians, as well as the company, must take some share of the blame.

"I think it was interesting but predictable to see the politicians lining up at Stormont to blame the company."

However, Conor Murphy, the minister with responsibility for NI Water, said he was "entirely correct" to sack the previous board.

"I would have been rightly criticised for leaving the board in place, on the basis that Chris Mellor alone had some experience in a water utility company, given the procurement practices that were going on," he said.

NI Water spokesman Liam Mulholland said on Friday morning: "Our sole focus at the moment is to get customers back on supply.

"There will be a review and there will be lessons we will take from this and try and improve things going forward.

"But right now it's about getting those 6,000 homes that are off supply completely back on."


An emergency session of the Executive was held on Thursday to discuss the problems affecting the water supply, after which First Minister Peter Robinson called NI Water's response "shambolic" and "ineffective".

He said he did not think anyone could suggest the state-owned company had "covered themselves in glory".

"People must assess their own position and of course if people don't assess their own position the (Executive's) review will look at where responsibility lies and decisions will be taken on the foot of that," he added.

In relation to the water company, Mr Robinson said: "It isn't simply a case of under-performing, we believe it has been shambolic at stages, it has been ineffective. It has not been the kind of organisation that is fit for purpose.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said NI Water's performance had been "totally unacceptable behaviour by an arms-length body".

Continue reading the main story

Start Quote

We believe it has been shambolic at stages, it has been ineffective. It has not been the kind of organisation that is fit for purpose.”

End Quote Peter Robinson NI First Minister

He said it was "disturbing" that people at a senior level at the organisation had not anticipated the scale of the difficulties presented by the recent thaw in temperatures.

"We are not prepared to accept this treatment on behalf of citizens. Arms-length bodies need to be held to account," he said.

He said it was a "key priority" that schools and businesses would be able to resume after the Christmas period.


NI Water warned it could be next week before all homes and businesses are reconnected.

The Royal Victoria Hospital, South Tyrone Hospital, Dungannon, and Lagan Valley Hospital, Lisburn, have been affected by the water supply crisis.

The Northern Ireland Secretary of State has warned there could be major changes in how the NI water supply is financed.

Owen Paterson said Northern Ireland's infrastructure had suffered over the years and that changes were now needed.

"What will be looked at here is the difference in the way that water is paid for in the rest of the UK and the way it is paid for in Northern Ireland, where it is just an element of the rates," he said.

Graph showing investment in NI water and sewerage

Eighty villages and towns have been affected as pipes burst in the thaw.

Trevor Haslett, director of engineering at NI Water, said the situation in urban areas was improving and should be better by Friday afternoon.

Burst pipes

However, he added: "It could be early next week before everybody is on supply."

Mr Haslett said over a period of 12 hours the company suffered more burst service pipes than he could remember for 35 years.

The Scottish government is sending further supplies of water to Northern Ireland. Five lorry loads of bottled water are being delivered on Friday, with another two lorries scheduled for Saturday.

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NI Water's Chief Executive, Lawrence MacKenzie, and Trevor Haslett, Director of Engineering & Procurement, take questions

'Big pressure'

NI Water, a state-owned company, which is the sole provider of water and sewerage services in Northern Ireland, said an unprecedented number of leaks caused by the thaw following the long period of freezing weather had been putting "big pressure" on its systems.

The thaw followed the worst snow in Northern Ireland in 25 years and record cold temperatures.

As temperatures rose, burst pipes drained reservoirs, forcing NI Water to turn off the tap to the 80 locations.

Local councils are working to supply water and offer free showers to people without a mains supply and information is being provided on the NI Water website.

More information on the water shortage is available from the NI Water website, or telephone hot line on 08457 440088, on Ceefax page 169 and BBC News Online.

Are you in Northern Ireland? Are you experiencing problems with your water supply due to the weather? Do you run a small business? How has it affected trade? Send us your comments and experiences using the form below.

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BBC News - World starts marking the new year

Bulletin Board - Facultad de informática-Facultad de informática(UPM)

2 November 2010. Researchers from the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid's Facultad de Informática have developed an application capable of human emotion recognition from automated voice analysis.

The application analyses the sound measurements of a conversation, output by another purpose-built program. Then, based on the rules described in the new application, it is able to identify the emotions hidden in an expression and determine whether the speaker is sad, happy or nervous. Even if the emotion is unclear, the application is able to specify how close the speaker is to each emotion in percentage terms. The application was presented by Susana Muñoz Hernández at the First International Conference on Fuzzy Computation, held in Madeira, Portugal, in 2009.

The application is based on a new tool called RFuzzy, implemented in the Prolog programming language. Prolog is able to represent and operate with what is known as fuzzy logic. Prolog is used primarily in artificial intelligence and expert systems applications.

RFuzzy is a programming support, which stands out for its ease of use and its expressivity. It is able to represent, handle and reason with subjective concepts like high, low, fast, slow, etc.

Apart from being applied to detect emotions in human conversations, RFuzzy has also been used to enhance robot intelligence. In this particular case, RFuzzy was used to program robots participating in the world robot soccer league (RoboCupSoccer), which has been held since 1996 with the aim of developing robotics and artificial intelligence. The experience was outlined in the book Robot Soccer, Inteh, Croatia, 2010, edited by Vladan Papic.

Being based on fuzzy logic, RFuzzy has important benefits for both conversation analysis and the enhancement of championship soccer robot behaviour. Its logical mechanisms are flexible and it leaves some margin of interpretation to the computer. The computer will then make the decision depending on a series of logical rules that take measurable parameters (volume, speech pitch and rate, position, speed or distance of the robot from the ball, etc.) as a reference.

The details of this research are to be published shortly in the INS- Information Science journal and can be consulted online at Science Direct.


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