Archive for the ‘children’ Tag

All God’s children: Life in the Quiverfull movement

All God’s children

Vyckie Garrison wasn’t sure she wanted to use her real name in this article. Until last year, Garrison (then Vyckie Bennett), a 43-year-old single mother of seven living in Norfolk, Neb., followed a fundamentalist pronatalist theology known as Quiverfull. Shunning all forms of birth control, Quiverfull women accept as many children as God gives them as a demonstration of their radical faith and obedience as well as a means to advance his kingdom: winning the country for Christ by having more children than their adversaries. This self-proclaimed “patriarchy” movement, which likely numbers in the tens of thousands but which is growing exponentially, bases its arguments on Psalm 127: “Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They shall not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.” Quiverfull women commonly give birth to families of eight, 10 and 12 children, or more.

[…]

But there’s a lot more to the Quiverfull conviction than you see on the Duggars’ folksy show. In 1985, homeschooling leader Mary Pride wrote a foundational text for Quiverfull, “The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality.” The book argued that family planning is a slippery slope, creating a “contraceptive mentality” that leads to abortion, and that feminism is incompatible with Christianity. As an antidote, Pride told Christians to reject women’s liberation in exchange for the principles of submissive wifehood and prolific stay-at-home motherhood. The core ideology was a direct contradiction of Roe v. Wade: Women’s bodies and lives did not belong to them, but to God and his plans for Christian revival.

U.S. judges admit to jailing children for money

U.S. judges admit to jailing children for money

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) – Two judges pleaded guilty on Thursday to accepting more than $2.6 million from a private youth detention centre in Pennsylvania in return for giving hundreds of youths and teenagers long sentences.

Judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan of the Court of Common Pleas in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, entered plea agreements in federal court in Scranton admitting that they took payoffs from PA Childcare and a sister company, Western PA Childcare, between 2003 and 2006.

“Your statement that I have disgraced my judgeship is true,” Ciavarella wrote in a letter to the court. “My actions have destroyed everything I worked to accomplish and I have only myself to blame.”

Conahan, who along with Ciavarella faces up to seven years in prison, did not make any comment on the case.

When someone is sent to a detention centre, the company running the facility receives money from the county government to defray the cost of incarceration. So as more children were sentenced to the detention centre, PA Childcare and Western PA Childcare received more money from the government, prosecutors said.

Teenagers who came before Ciavarella in juvenile court often were sentenced to detention centres for minor offences that would typically have been classified as misdemeanours, according to the Juvenile Law Centre, a Philadelphia nonprofit group.

Paging Mr. Dickens…

ACLU sues NC school system over recruiting access

ACLU sues NC school system over recruiting access

NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against a rural North Carolina school system that barred a peace activist from talking to high school students about alternatives to joining the military.

The lawsuit, filed Monday, says the Wilkes County school district and its superintendent violated the First Amendment by preventing Sally Ferrell from distributing pamphlets and other materials that warn students to think twice before joining the military.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Ferrell and Bill Towe, director of N.C. Peace Action.

“We’ve tried to find another alternative to bringing this lawsuit,” Katherine Parker, legal director of the ACLU’s North Carolina chapter, said Tuesday. “They just will not compromise.”

The legal group is asking a judge to issue an injunction to allow Ferrell, a member of N.C. Peace Action, to distribute the materials and give her the same access to students as military recruiters who are allowed in the schools.

Freedomain Radio: Cult or Community?

Recent weeks have seen a spate of articles in the news covering a controversial website known as Freedomain Radio (FDR). The site is based around the teachings of its guru, a Canadian man by the name of Stefan Molyneux. His teachings revolve around personal freedom – in particular, a belief that all human relationships, including those with family, are voluntary and that people should be free to end them.

The Globe and Mail sums up the situation as follows:

Unbeknownst to her, throughout the fall Tom had been writing on the Canadian website, Freedomain Radio, comparing family life to a prison, in posts with titles such as “Confirming the evil of my parents.”

The man running the website is a Toronto-area resident named Stefan Molyneux, who encourages people to cut contact with their parents, even outlining scripts they can follow in the breakup.

Ms. Weed’s was one of several cases in Europe and North America that appear to have followed the script of the pied piper from Canadian suburbia.

“It makes no sense,” Ms. Weed said.

Mr. Molyneux is a one-man Internet hub, churning out hundreds of online messages, essays, books, podcasts and videos of himself staring into a camera and talking intensely about relationships, politics or the economy.

And he isn’t shy about what he does. He says he knows of 20 cases where supporters left their relatives. His website, he says in an interview, is “a Canadian success story,” the most popular philosophy site in the world.

The site particularly attracts users in their late teens and early twenties, times at which many people feel frustration with their parents. Kate Hilpern, writing in the Guardian, reports

One Wednesday afternoon in May, when Barbara Weed’s 18-year-old son, Tom, was right in the middle of his A-levels, he abruptly left home. “Dear Family,” said the note he left on the doormat. “I need to take an indefinite amount of time away from the family, so I’ve moved in with a friend. Please do not contact me. Tom.”

He has not been in touch with any of his relatives since. But Tom is not a missing person. His family know roughly where he is. It’s just that he won’t talk to them and they suspect he never will. “He got hooked in by an online cult,” Barbara says. “The website convinces vulnerable people that they should hate their parents and should leave their family.”

Even the wording of Tom’s letter is from the website. Its founder says, “The letter should buy you six to 12 months before your family come looking for you and that will give you time to get used to living without them.”

Barbara did not wait that long. “I tried to respect Tom’s wishes and leave him alone, but once I discovered that the website was responsible for Tom leaving, I visited him at a cafe where he was working part-time,” she says. She worked out that if she ordered a cup of tea, he would have to listen to her for about a minute. She told him that if he ever wanted to come home, he could. “He just looked at me, shaking his head, as if to say, ‘You fool.'”

Former members of FDR, along with concerned friends and family members, can be found at the Liberating Minds forums. FDR maintains a page on them, describing them as follows:

Liberating Minds is a forum founded and mostly populated by a small number of malcontents who were banned from Freedomain Radio for various dysfunctional and destructive behaviours. It has literally thousands and thousands of posts written by a few people, viciously and personally attacking me and various listeners. (I have posted some examples below — be warned, though — the language is truly foul.)

The rather frantic tone of this post may sound familiar to anyone familiar with groups such as Scientology.

Further reports:
Daily Mail: A fearful mother reveals: The internet cult that stole my son
Jezebel: When an online community becomes your only community

The official FDR site can be found at http://www.freedomainradio.com

Greece: solidarity actions spread

Further actions have taken place in solidarity with the uprising in Greece, including:

Stockholm: picket of Greek embassy.

Spain: demonstrations and actions in eight cities.

New York: graffiti and vandalism targetted at Greek consulate.

Meanwhile, allegations have surfaced that the police officer who shot 15-year-old Alexis Grigoropoulos, the event which provided a trigger for the unrest, was a known neo-Nazi.

School and university students have carried out protests and occupations around the country. Riots continue, while workers return to their jobs following yesterday’s general strike which “standstill.”

Porn? On my internets?

Well…no, not really. Not that reality ever got in the way of a good moral panic.

In positive news, the Internet Watch Foundation – an unelected and largely unaccountable body whose goal is to shut down child porn on the internet – has removed its blacklisting of Wikipedia, restoring full access to the site for many users in the UK. The site was blacklisted due to its featuring the cover of Virgin Killer by the Scorpions. The cover features a naked underage girl. Following the blacklisting ISPs in the UK routed access to the site via a proxy server in order to prevent access to the offending article. As a consequence, Wikipedia blocked users from said ISPs from editing “the free encyclopedia anyone can edit.”

While the block has been lifted, the reason was not that the image, which featured nudity but not sexual activity, did not constitute pornography. Rather, in the words of the IWF spokesman: “in light of the length of time the image has existed and its wide availability, the decision has been taken to remove the webpage from our list.”

In other words, had the picture been taken yesterday and posted to only a handful of places, the chances are the ban would still be in place.

Meanwhile in Australia, a man has been found guilty of possession of child pornography. The image in question? A parody of a Simpsons cartoon featuring sexual activity between several of the child characters. The Judge, Michael Adams, made the following – rather stunning – pronouncement:

Justice Michael Adams said the purpose of anti-child pornography legislation was to stop sexual exploitation and child abuse where images of “real” children were depicted.

But in a landmark ruling he decided that the mere fact that they were not realistic representations of human beings did not mean that they could not be considered people.

The mind boggles.

Greek police shooting sparks riot

Greek police shooting sparks riot

Riots have broken out in several Greek cities after police shot dead a teenager in the capital Athens.

The unrest began soon after the shooting in the central Exarchia district, a regular scene of clashes between police and leftist groups.

Youths threw petrol bombs, burned cars and smashed shop windows.

Riots then spread to Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city, to the northern cities of Komotini and Ioannina, and to Crete.

Two officers have been suspended, and an inquiry is under way, after the worst such violence in several years.

The BBC’s Malcolm Brabant, in Athens, says that the rioters have set fire to banks and stores in the city’s main shopping district. A four-storey building has also been torched and many cars destroyed.

Brit ISPs censor Wikipedia over ‘child porn’ album cover

Brit ISPs censor Wikipedia over ‘child porn’ album cover

Six British ISPs are filtering access to Wikipedia after the site was added to an Internet Watch Foundation child-pornography blacklist, according to Wikipedia administrators.

As of Sunday morning UK time, certain British web surfers were unable to view at least one Wikipedia article tagged with ostensible child porn. And, in a roundabout way, the filtering has resulted in Wikipedia admins banning large swaths of the United Kingdom from editing the “free encyclopedia anyone can edit.”

On Friday, Wikipedia administrators noticed that Virgin Media, Be Unlimited/O2/Telefonica, EasyNet/UK Online, PlusNet, Demon, and Opal were routing Wikipedia traffic through a small number of transparent proxy servers as a way of blocking access to the encyclopedia’s article on Virgin Killer, a mid-1970s record album from German heavy band Scorpions.

At it stands, the article includes an image of the album’s original cover, which depicts a naked prepubescent girl. The cover was banned in many countries and replaced by another when the album made its 1976 debut. And apparently, the image is now on a blacklist compiled by the Internet Watch Foundation, a government-backed organization charged with fighting online child pornography in the UK and Europe.

The Virgin Killer article – FWIW it’s displaying the blank page for me at the moment.

The discussion page for (one of?) the Virgin Media IPs can be found here.

Edit: somewhat amusingly, while trying to access the page directly gives a blank, the Snapshot feature provided by certain sites shows it without a problem.

Out of this world: British teddy bears strapped to helium weather balloon

Out of this world: British teddy bears strapped to helium weather balloon

It’s not often that Britain can claim a win in the space race. But these teddy bears drifting nearly 20 miles above Earth have become the first soft toys to take part in extra-vehicular activity (to use correct NASA jargon) at such an altitude.

The soft toys MAT and KMS were named after the first initials of the pupils who helped make their space suits.

Along with their two intrepid colleagues, they were strapped to a beam attached to a foam-padded box containing instrumentation and cameras on Monday.

Article contains photos.

And awesome.

Evil paedos are secret BNP thugs

Evil paedos are secret BNP thugs :

TWO paedophiles jailed for sex attacks on schoolgirls last week are named on the leaked list of British National Party members, we can reveal.

Perverts Ian Richard Hindle, 32, and Andrew Paul Wells, 49, plied two 14-year-olds with alcohol before subjecting them to sickening abuse.

Both men appear on a 12,000 strong BNP membership roll, alongside police officers, soldiers, doctors, prison officers—and even vicars.

The sex beasts’ membership will bring further shame to the far-right party.