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It seems Pope Francis needs to brush up on his Tertullian!

It has been reported (in The ChristLast Media, I must note) that the current Pope does not like the phrase "lead us not into temptation...

"Let no freedom be allowed to novelty, because it is not fitting that any addition should be made to antiquity. Let not the clear faith and belief of our forefathers be fouled by any muddy admixture." -- Pope Sixtus III

Friday, July 27, 2012

Government is theft. [Honestly, this could be the title and label of most of my posts.]

When the fascist left starts hanging "bankers" ["kulaks"]
from those high-tech lampposts that spy on you, remember that it is all your fault.

 From The American Spectator:
And You Thought the Housing Crisis Was Over!  


The Community Reinvestment Act is back, as if 2008 never happened.
Do you remember that thing about how the banks wouldn't lend to blacks and Hispanics because they were racists? And do you remember how they passed the Community Reinvestment Act so that banks were forced to reduce down payments practically to zero and lend to a lot of people they knew were bad credit risks? 

And do you remember how Wall Street bundled all these risky subprime mortgage and sold them to investors around the world so that when it became clear that those people weren't going to be able to pay their mortgages banks everywhere were left holding the bag and all five of the Wall Street investment houses either went under or had to be bailed out by the federal government?

And do you remember how, when it was all over, liberals said it was actually the banks' fault for "deceiving" all those people into thinking they could afford to buy homes and that the banks should be punished for it and some of those people be allowed to keep their homes anyway? And do you remember how all this cost the government close to a trillion dollars and put the whole economy in a hole that we really haven't begun to dig ourselves out of yet?

Well, get ready because the whole thing is about to happen again.

Yes, believe it or not, the federal government is now starting another initiative to force banks to lend to low-credit-rated blacks and Hispanics -- not just anybody but specifically blacks and Hispanics -- and is threatening -- and already imposing -- huge punitive fines if they don't. Moreover, this time they're going even further. 

They're going to take over the credit rating agencies and force them to change their standards to accommodate blacks and Hispanics so that nobody will have any idea who is a bad credit risk and who is not. In so many words, the government is about impose its will on the whole home-lending market and force another round of bad loans so that the banks are going to be looted once again so that even the federal government may not be able to bail them out this time.

The principle instrument this time is not the Justice Department, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as it was last time, but the brand-new Consumer Finance Protection Bureau, designed by good old Elizabeth "Nobody-Ever-Made-It-On-Their-Own" Warren, which should really be called the Bureau for Bringing Down the Entire Economy. As reported in last Sunday's New York Post by Hoover Institution Media Fellow Paul Sperry, the CFPB has just announced that it is adopting a 20-page "Policy Statement on Discrimination in Lending" issues by the Interagency Task force on Fair Lending in 1994 that kicked off Attorney General Janet Reno's draconic enforcement of the Community Renewal Act. Part of the policy statement reads, "Applying different lending standards or offering different levels of assistance to applicants who are members of a protected [i.e., minority] class is permissible in some circumstances. Providing different treatment to applicants to address past discrimination would be permissible if done in response to a court order." There are already plenty of court orders sitting around.

Just two weeks ago Wells Fargo caved to a Justice Department offensive and paid $175 million for alleged past discriminating against minority borrowers. All this occurred even though the bank received an "outstanding" grade in its most recent Community Reinvestment Act exam. The government did not even bother to prove discrimination in a single instance but relied instead on statistics showing lower rates of homeownership in minority neighborhoods. Thomas Perez, the Justice Department honcho who is spearheading this campaign, says banks discriminate "with a smile" and "fine print" and are "every bit as destructive as the cross burned in a neighborhood." Nice objective evaluation there.

As in most such cases, Wells Fargo chickened out about going to court and refused to admit any wrongdoing but agreed to all kinds of diversity training and sensitivity counseling. The bank will have to "prominently display" a notice informing minority customers that they cannot be turned down for loans just because they are receiving public assistance such as unemployment benefits, welfare payments or food stamps. (Maybe they can even use food stamps for the down payment.) Wells Fargo must provide minority customers $50 million for down-payment and closing-cost assistance, including "Borrower Assistance Grants" of up to $15,000 per individual. It was also ordered to pay $125 million to as yet unnamed victims of previous discrimination. But get this! If those past victims don't show up, the money must be handed over to community organizing groups. President Obama, you have a job waiting for you if you lose office this fall.

Almost a dozen banks are under similar investigation and will be soon falling like dominoes unless one of them musters the courage to stand up to the Justice Department in court.

But the real destruction is going to be wrought by CFPB, created by Dodd-Frank and just getting started. Last week Richard Cordray, who is serving as a disputed recess appointee without the consent of the Senate, announced that not only will CFPB be going after banks but will also target the credit rating agencies that evaluate people's creditworthiness based on past performance in paying debts. They too will be vetted for racial discrimination. In May 2011, the non-partisan Policy and Economic Research Council completed what it described as the first evaluation of Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, the three credit rating agencies. The report concluded that in less than 1 percent of cases was a score changed by more than 25 points after a dispute process and that "consequential inaccuracies are rare." Moreover, "95 percent of disputing participants were satisfied with the outcomes of their disputes, suggesting widespread satisfaction" with the process. In other words, credit ratings are pretty accurate. Banks rely heavily on them and say that, if anything, the agencies tends to underestimate the rate at which minority buyers will default on mortgages.

So guess what happens next? Under the pretext of "regulating" the agencies, CFPB will hammer away, forcing them to upgrade the scores of blacks and Hispanics. Standards will be diluted or abandoned entirely and within a few years the banks will be flying blind with no reliable information on who is a good credit risk and who isn't. Does that sound like the formula for another mortgage meltdown? It sure does to me.

At this point in my story, it is customary for the journalist to proclaim that he isn't trying to protect the lenders but is really concerned with those unfortunate minority individuals who will end up with bad loans. Sperry follows this pattern by declaring, "In the end, it will be the minorities Obama and [Eric] Holder are trying to help who will be hurt most."

I think I'm going to have to depart from the tradition. I think what we are witnessing is the looting of America on behalf of minorities in a way that better end soon or we are going to bring the whole system down upon our heads.

With the current administration in power, the perception is growing among minorities that everything in the economy can be had for free and that President Obama and his administration are going to provide it for them. For instance, there is a scam going on around the country right now where con artists call up homeowners and tell them that President Obama has a new program where he is going to pay their electrical bills. All the homeowner has to do is provide his Social Security number and other personal information. The con game started in Michigan among minority populations in depressed cities such as Flint and Grand Rapids. It has now spread as far as far as Florida and Mississippi. More than 2,300 people in Michigan were bilked out of $1 million, another 10,000 have been swindled in New Jersey.

What is amazing is that all these people actually believe that President Obama is ready to pay their electrical bills. It is symptomatic of a rising tide of dependency and the growing sense that nobody has to be responsible for anything anymore and we can all live off "the rich." If we don't get these people out of office soon, there isn't going to be much left to pick over in the American economy.

The GOP is dead! Long live Obamastan!

From Human Events:

In the long run, is the GOP dead?

Patrick J. Buchanan

Since 1928, only Dwight Eisenhower and George W. Bush have won the presidency while capturing both houses of Congress for the GOP.

In his 49-state landslide, Richard Nixon failed to take either House. In his two landslides, Ronald Reagan won back only the Senate. Yet Mitt Romney is even money to pull off the hat trick.

With this hopeful prospect, why the near despair among so many Republicans about the long term?

In his New York Times report, “In California, GOP Fights Steep Decline,” Adam Nagourney delves into the reasons.

In the Golden Land, a state Nixon carried all five times he was on a national ticket and Reagan carried by landslides all four times he ran, the GOP does not hold a single statewide office. It gained not a single House seat in the 2010 landslide. 

Party registration has fallen to 30 percent of the California electorate and is steadily sinking.

Why? It is said that California Republicans are too out of touch, too socially conservative on issues like right-to-life and gay rights. “When you look at the population growth,” says GOP consultant Steve Schmidt, “the actual party is shrinking. It’s becoming more white. It’s becoming older.”

Race, age and ethnicity are at the heart of the problem. And they portend not only the party’s death in California, but perhaps its destiny in the rest of America.

Consider. Almost 90 percent of all Republican voters in presidential elections are white. Almost 90 percent are Christians. But whites fell to 74 percent of the electorate in 2008 and were only 64 percent of the population. Christians are down to 75 percent of the population from 85 in 1990. The falloff continues and is greatest among the young.

Consider ethnicity. Hispanics were 15 percent of the U.S. population in 2008 and 7.4 percent of the electorate. Both percentages will inexorably rise.

Yet in their best years, like 2004, Republicans lose the Hispanic vote 3-to-2. In bad years, like 2008, they lose it 2-to-1. Whites are already a minority in California, and Hispanics will eventually become the majority.

Say goodbye to the Golden Land.

Asian-Americans voted 3-to-2 for Obama, black Americans 24-to-1. The Asian population in California and the nation is growing rapidly. The black population, 13 percent of the nation, is growing steadily.

Whites, already a minority in our two most populous states, will be less than half the U.S. population by 2041 and a minority in 10 states by 2020.

Consider now the Electoral College picture.

Of the seven mega-states, California, New York and Illinois appear lost to the GOP. Pennsylvania has not gone Republican since 1988. Ohio and Florida, both crucial, are now swing states. Whites have become a minority in Texas. When Texas goes, America goes.

This year could be the last hurrah.

The GOP must work harder to win Hispanic votes, we are told. But consider the home economics and self-interest of Hispanics.

Half of all U.S. wage-earners pay no income tax. Yet that half and their families receive free education K-12, Medicaid, rent supplements, food stamps, earned income tax credits, Pell grants, welfare payments, unemployment checks and other benefits.

Why should poor, working- and middle-class Hispanics, the vast majority, vote for a party that will reduce taxes they don’t pay, but cut the benefits they do receive?

The majority of Latinos, African-Americans, immigrants and young people 18 to 25 pay no income taxes yet enjoy a panoply of government benefits. Does not self-interest dictate a vote for the party that will let them keep what they have and perhaps give them more, rather than the party that will pare back what they now receive?

What are the historic blunders of the Grand Old Party that may yet appear on the autopsy report as probable causes of death?

First, the party, intimidated by name-calling, refused to stop a tidal wave of immigration that brought 40 million people here whose families depend heavily on government. We needed a time-out to assimilate them and see them move out of the tax-consuming sector of the nation.

Republicans acquiesced in the importation of a new electorate that may provide the decisive votes to send the party to the ash heap of history.

Second, Republicans, when enacting tax cuts, repeatedly dropped millions of taxpayers off the rolls, creating a huge class that contributes little to pay for the expanding cornucopia of benefits it receives.

Third, the social revolution of the 1960s captured the culture and converted much of the nation. According to a new Pew poll, the number of Americans who profess a belief in no religion at all has tripled since the 1990s and is now one in five of our countrymen.

If your racial and ethnic voter base is aging, shrinking and dying, your moral code is being rejected, and the tax-consuming class has been allowed to grow to equal or to dwarf the taxpaying class, the Grand Old Party has a problem. But then so, too, does the country.

To Glenn Beck et al.: Wrong church, right pew.

Glenn Beck Restoring Love 

Mr. Beck has picked up on an excellent idea, but hardly a novel one. Doing good works is as old as the Sermon on the Mount. [Appy-polly-loggies to our Jewish brothers, whose tradition of charity is even older. But even they have to admit that second generation carpenter from Nazareth took it up a notch.]

Beck's stated goal is to effect change by changing hearts, one person at a time. A noble goal inspired by noble sentiments. I applaud everyone involved in "Restoring Love" who is giving of himself to help the poor and needy. God knows we have plenty of those here in Obamastan.

Sadly, the goal of changing our decadent and corrupt nation will elude these well meaning citizens. They are doomed to fail because they are not equipped to succeed. In fact, the vast majority of them are no doubt infected with the exact pathogen that has landed us in our current dire condition.

I am speaking of the heresy that goes by the very, very broad name of "protestantism". [Mr. Beck himself is a convert to mormonism, which is a heresy on top of the ordinary prod heresy. Double secret heresy? Meta-heresy? Whatever you call it, he's even more messed up than most.] Once again I must issue my standard disclaimer on this subject: I have nothing against politically friendly forces per se. Most of the attendees in Dallas will vote to send the jug-eared one back to the oblivion from whence he slithered and I thank them for that with all my heart.

But that is not enough, not even by Beck's own standard. He has said this is not about politics, but love. [I'm willing to take him at his word, though I doubt he will mind if his devotees vote anti-commie.] Last week he said a revolution was a bad idea and I agree. The days of succesful armed insurrection against First World governments is long past. The technology of mass killing is firmly in the hands of the oligarchs and even the so-called "assault weapons" [Real assault weapons are fully automatic. That means they are machine guns, kiddies. They have not been available to the hoi polloi since the days of John Dillinger.] so vilified by the fascist left are worthless against modern armies.

The "protestant" heresy elevates individual will over the Will of God. [At the exact same time it denies the existence of free human will. I know, I know. You try making sense out the babblings of the arch-pervert Martin Luther.] In practice, this means when push comes to shove, these heretics can and do rationalize sin out of existence if doing so helps silence their consciences.

I'm not talking about a sin here, kiddies. I'm talking about Sin. We're all sinners who rebel against God and His good order all the time. The problem comes when you pretend a sin is no longer a sin because you enjoy it [fornication, for example] or it makes your life easier [abortion]. Try reading some some books on history with this in mind.

Of course this isn't an exclusively American phenomenon, it's the human condition. Without the strictures of God's Word and the tradition of His One, True Church guiding our application of it to our individual lives, we are lost.

The bottom line? Your will is defective and prone to error. Your conscience can be stifled and shouted down. Don't be afraid to listen to 2,000 years worth of men and women who were [and are] inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Come home to Rome, kiddies. Our doors are always open. We can't promise earthly success and you might be killed by those who hate the Faith, but who wants to be a slave to this world anyway?

If this blood-soaked jackass gets re-elected, you'll know the corruption is complete.


From AP via Yahoo News:

U.S. economic growth slows to 1.5%

Growth slows to 1.5 percent annual rate from April-June and consumer spending weakens.



Thursday, July 26, 2012

Ok. Just one more zombie story and its off to bed with you.

ABC asks [via Yahoo News] if zombie voters can take their state issued photo ID out of their wallets without having their fingers fall off.

Florida Voter Is a Two-Time Zombie

Constance Slate Smith is one of Florida's living dead-twice over. Florida election officials continue to bump Smith off the state voter rolls because they believe she is deceased.

Yet the 61-year-old College Park resident is not a zombie rising up to cast her vote in the November election - she's very much alive, going so far as to get a "non-death" certificate from the Florida Department of Health as proof to show state agencies.

The most recent letter from election officials arrived in the mail last week, along with the absentee ballot she requested from the state. Smith read the letter via phone to ABC News: "This letter is to inform you that the person named above has been removed from the Orange County vote rolls after we received notification of their death."

Smith, who also received notice of her death in 2008, when she volunteering for the Obama campaign, said she was overcome with frustration. State election officials told her in 2008 that her identity had been mistaken for the late Constance Simmons Smith of Miami, who was born on the same day as the living Constance Smith.

"For a short while, I sat down and cried. I can't believe I had to go through all this again," Smith said.

"Big zombies don't cry."

Perhaps "There's no crying in zombieball!"  works better...
County election officials told the Orlando Sentinel that the current mix up may have been caused by the Social Security Administration, which shares its data with the Florida Division of Elections and put Smith on the "death list" which it sends to local election offices.

Last time around, Smith had to contact several state agencies to verify that she was not dead, a bureaucratic nightmare that took six months to rectify. But it's not just her voter status - the Department of Motor Vehicles cancelled her driver's license, and now she has been notified that her Social Security information may be compromised.

Florida's efforts to clean up its voter rolls are the source of controversy in the state, as eligible citizens have come forward to say they have been mistakenly removed from the rolls.

Not even Florida's governor is immune to the death list. Gov. Rick Scott was declared dead by the Naples local election office in 2006. They actually meant Richard E. Scott, who also shared a birthday with the Republican governor.


Back to some wholesome real zombie news where all the murder and mayhem is make-believe. [OR IS IT?]

From Scientific American via Yahoo News:

Are Zombie Bees Infiltrating Your Neighborhood?

Zombie bees are not science fiction. They are real and real threat to already-threatened U.S. honeybee populations.

Honeybees (Apis mellifera) in California and South Dakota have been observed acting zombielike, wandering away from their hives at night and crawling around blindly in circles.

Crop circles?

These insects have been rendered insensate by a parasitizing fly that lays eggs in the bees’ bodies. After the bee dies a lonesome death, pupae crawl out and grow to adult flies that seek new bodies to infect.


From the Words Don't Kill, But Zombie Words Might Department at The Atlantic Wire [courtesy of the boils and ghouls at Yahoo News, of course]:

Zombie Words Are Coming for Your Brains

We'd like to draw your attention to a New York Times Opinionator piece from Helen Sword, author of Stylish Academic Writing, on a matter we love, i.e., words. She's discussing nouns that when formed with other parts of speech are called nominalizations. Sounds fancy, but you see them all the time, particularly in this crazy Internet world where grammar and "dictionary status" are often played fast and loose. Sword writes

Take an adjective (implacable) or a verb (calibrate) or even another noun (crony) and add a suffix like ity, tion or ism. You’ve created a new noun: implacability, calibration, cronyism. Sounds impressive, right?
Ah yes, the vile "ism" and "tion": Sometimes we make them up—Brooklynification, Disneyfication, blogism—but many versions of these are well established and dictionary-approved. They are hiding in our midst! (Gentrification, corporatism, politicization, and so on). As evidence of the horror and widespread destruction they wreak, and also because it's just catchier than nominalization, itself a nominalization, Sword refers to such words as zombie nouns. Politicians use them a lot, as do academics in their ivory towers, as do corporate types in their fancy boardrooms where they get to make up fake words, as do—uh—writers on the Internet.  

Sword continues:
Academics love them; so do lawyers, bureaucrats and business writers. I call them “zombie nouns” because they cannibalize active verbs, suck the lifeblood from adjectives and substitute abstract entities for human beings.
Zombie nouns are also bad because they make a writer seem pompous, she says, and possibly like he or she doesn't even know what to say since, couched in so much wordability, these sentences hide the very point. Worse, she says, nominalizations are hard to understand and may put readers to sleep. For example, "The proliferation of nominalizations in a discursive formation may be an indication of a tendency toward pomposity and abstraction," Sword explains, would be better and more clearly stated as "Writers who overload their sentences with nominalizations tend to sound pompous and abstract." We have to agree. In the de-nominalized format, too, we get an active rather than a passive sentence, something we all typically aspire to achieve. But under cover of zombie nouns, maybe people simply hope that what they're saying won't be understood at all and will simply be passed off as smart. This could in fact be called the "zombification" of writing.

 Sword's not all anti-zombie noun, though, saying that they do help us express complex ideas, sometimes. And probably, we're too far gone at this point to ever consider attempting to do away with them, in any case. At the same time, a highly complex sentence full of nominalizations is not going to be so successful at expressing anything, other than the need for its writer—and reader—to find a new way to express himself. This is a broader point about writing that goes beyond nouns made into "izations," "itys," or "isms," and it's a lesson even the best writer can remind him or herself of yet again: Humanize your writing. Use examples. Be clear and use simple language when it works; no need to make things flowery or overcomplicated. Above all, remember that you're using words to communicate with others, not simply to partake in a monologization with yourself. Right? Keep that stuff in your own brain(s). 

It's worth reading Sword's piece the whole way through for greatness like George Orwell's comparison of  "a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes with his own satirical translation":

I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
Here it is in modern English:

Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.
You can also, if you feel brave, test yourself on your writing caliber by inputting a sampling of your prose into The WritersDiet Test. (Needs toning!?) As for writing about zombies themselves, that's totally fine. Just apply humanization techniques for best effect. 


Castro: Commie butcher who doesn't have the decency to die OR animatronic immortal undead commie ZOMBIE?

From AP via Yahoo News:

Castro: Cuba willing to talk to U.S.

Cuban President Raul Castro said Thursday that his government is willing to mend fences with bitter Cold War foe the United States and sit down to discuss anything, as long as it is a conversation between equals...

Oh, it's Raul. He's definitely an indecent commie butcher.

Dumbass TV Line of the Day.

"I'm sure you did what you thought was right."

"So did Joseph Stalin."

- - A cute hallucination and brilliant psychotic professor Pierce [without any shred of sarcasm, mind you] gabbing on TNT's "Perception"

"You shoot 71 people, you didn't commit that. You think you're pretty evil, well let me tell you there are plenty of really evil folks out there. Some teacher that was bored. Some social worker who was just punching the time clock."

Yes, kiddies, let's take the jug-eared commie cretin at his word and talk about collective guilt. 

Mr. Holmes got his ammo on the internet that all-time great American statesman and politician Al Gorehound created and "government researchers" perfected.

The madman apparently went to public schools and somewhere along the way was labeled a genius or something by some don or another. He probably drank water fluoridated by local and state fiat for years. Who knows what that does to a child's conscience?

He drove to the theater on government roads and over government bridges. He paid for his ticket with government scrip. At the time, he was breathing air regulated by the EPA.

It is safe to say that Leviathan [at one level or another] had its tentacles wrapped over, around, and throughout Holmes' life.

Since the "shooter" can't be held individually responsible due to the fact we were all raised by the same Schicklgruberian village, I say let's cut to the chase and hold Benito Hussein Okhrana and the rest of our totalitarian oligarchy responsible.

I'll bet those giant ears of his will come in handy for his new prison boyfriends.

And now for a ray of light in the midst of the darkness...

From Yahoo's The Lookout:

Colorado shooting victim on James Holmes: ‘I forgive him with all my heart’

 It would be understandable for the victims of the Colorado theater shooting and their families to want to seek retribution.

But Pierce O'Farrill, a 28-year-old who was shot three times, says he has forgiven James Holmes, the suspected shooter in last week's Aurora, Colo., massacre.

"Of course, I forgive him with all my heart," O'Farrill told reporters shortly before his release from the Univ. of Colorado Hospital on Wednesday. "When I saw him in his hearing, I felt nothing but sorrow for him--he's just a lost soul right now."

O'Farrill--a staffer at the Denver Rescue Mission, a Christian charity organization that helps "people at their physical and spiritual points of need, with the goal of returning them to society as productive, self-sufficient citizens"--told the Denver Post he would eventually like to meet Holmes.

"I want to see him sometime," O'Farrill, one of 58 people wounded in the shooting, said. "The first thing I want to say to him is 'I forgive you,' and the next is, 'Can I pray for you?'"

Romney shows some spine, or, he thinks the media types are decent and honest people and his pals.

You decide:

Here's evrything you need to know before you vote in November.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Doy! [Double doy even.] 'Cause Chinese babes are hot.


Of course, kiddies, hot chicks in nice clothes mean nothing if the government owns you.

From the Old Gray Whore:

Fashion Magazines in China, Laden With Ads, Are Thriving

Zena Hao, a 24-year-old publicist, avid follower of fashion trends and proud owner of four Prada handbags, has a new passion: fashion magazines. She carries home hefty copies of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar and studies the pictures for inspiration.

“Before university, I didn’t read them that much because the photographs weren’t that good,” Ms. Hao said. “But now in the last three to four years, they’ve gotten so much better.” 

Ms. Hao’s enthusiasm for fashion magazines thick with advertisements for Louis Vuitton handbags and Chanel lipsticks are a welcome source of revenue for magazine publishers based in New York. While fashion labels are spending more on magazine advertising in the United States, they’re pouring even more money into magazines across mainland China. 

Publishers willing to contend with censorship, relationships with local business partners and low-level corruption common in many Chinese businesses are being rewarded so far. 

Late last year, Cosmopolitan editors in China started splitting its monthly issue into two magazines because it was too thick to print. Elle now publishes twice a month because issues had grown to 700 pages. Vogue added four more issues each year to keep up with advertising demand. Hearst is even designing plastic and cloth bags for women to easily carry these heavy magazines home. 

“We never take anything for granted. But so far this year, we look like we’re having a pretty good year of growth,” said Duncan Edwards, president and chief executive of Hearst Magazines International, which has agreements to have 22 magazines, including Elle and Harper’s Bazaar, published here. “There is an enormous hunger for information about luxury, and there aren’t many other places you can get that information than in fashion magazines.” 

Many Chinese women will spend far more of their income than their Western counterparts on these magazines and the products featured inside them. According to a 2011 study conducted by Bain & Company, mainland China ranked sixth in the world for spending on luxury goods ranked by country. In 2010, it was a $17.7 billion market. Louis Vuitton, Chanel and Gucci remain the most desired luxury brands. 

For example, both Vogue and Cosmopolitan cost about $3.15, which is significant when the average monthly individual income in Beijing is about $733. Mr. Edwards added that it was fairly common to find Chinese women who earn $15,000 a year spending $2,000 on one luxury item. 

“We’re going through this wonderful period where huge numbers of women are coming out of poverty into the middle class and beyond,” Mr. Edwards said. “Many of these women are choosing to spend on luxury goods.” 

Lena Yang, general manager of Hearst Magazines China, who oversees nine publications including Elle and Marie Claire, says that the typical reader of Hearst Magazines in China is a 29.5-year-old woman who is more likely to be single than married. She has an average income of about $1,431 a month and spends $938 a season on luxury watches, $982 on handbags and shoes and $1,066 on clothes. 

Ms. Yang says these women often live at home and turn to their parents and grandparents to pay for them. The study also showed that many readers in their 20s saved little. 

“Most of them, they are a single child,” Ms. Yang said. “That means they don’t have to pay for their rent. So all of that goes to pocket money. They have the parents support them and the grandparents. They actually have six persons to support them.” 

That’s why so many different advertisers want to appear in these magazines. Next to Gucci and Prada in the pages of women’s magazines sit some of these homegrown brands, with names virtually unknown outside China, like Ochirly, Marisfrolg, EIN and Mo&Co. 

IDG, which works with more than 40 magazines in China, said that advertising spending for women’s consumer magazines jumped 16.9 percent through June 1, even as demand to advertise in technology and business magazines slowed. Ms. Yang predicts plenty of growth potential in second- and third-tier cities, where 60 percent of all store openings have taken place in the last three years. 

“In China, for them it’s still a new experience,” Ms. Yang said. 

Ms. Hao, the daughter of engineers, is eager to embrace and spend on the goods she finds in these magazines. She said that she made more than $1,587 a month as a publicist and that her husband’s event planning business was also growing. While her mother has only one real Prada handbag, she continues to shop for them because, she said, “for my job, it’s important that I have the real thing.” 

But she also doesn’t want to read these magazines digitally. While China remains the second-largest market for iPads behind the United States, and magazine executives fear that readers could all migrate to digital publications, Ms. Hao prefers the paper version. 

“Magazines are just like books. People want the real thing, not just a flash on the iPad,” she said. “It’s different. Reading magazines shows you’re taking fashion seriously.” 

Of course, for publishers who often profit from licensing agreements, the arrangements in China come with a price. Mr. Edwards said that because all magazines are owned by the Chinese government, Hearst has relationships with two local companies that license the names of the magazines to local publishing companies. 

The first company, Hearst Magazines China, which the company bought from Hachette last year, includes magazines like Elle and Marie Claire. Hearst also profits from its 20 percent stake in the Trends Media Group, which has licenses to publish magazines like Cosmopolitan and Harper’s Bazaar. 

Bob Gutwillig, who introduced Elle to China in 1988, said that in the early days, the Chinese government was so involved in the magazine that it had an employee from the Communist Party assigned to sit in the editorial room. But Mr. Gutwillig said that Elle was largely spared the censorship challenges other types of news organizations faced because the official was less concerned with images in fashion magazines than what appears in traditional news outlets. 

Publishing in China also carries its potential for corruption. Magazine publishers interviewed for this article offered widely varying circulation data. There are no widely accepted independently audited reports the way there are in the United States. 

Additionally, Angelica Cheung, editor in chief of Vogue, said that advertisers’ paying for content was expected and even demanded in this business. She says the magazine stresses that it refuses to do under-the-table deals. 

Of course, the publishers recognize that this market could evaporate as the Chinese economy slows. They’re especially vulnerable because the magazine industry gets a much smaller overall percentage of advertising than other media, like television, Mr. Edwards said. But for now, as long as their stories of movie stars and fashion trends steer clear of censors, the magazine industry is enjoying the profits. 

“We’re pretty low-risk,” Mr. Edwards said. “Cosmo and Elle and magazines like this are not deemed to be highly likely to offend the relevant government bodies.” 

Bingo. It only took The Whore until the bottom line to get to the bottom line.

When rational people get shot at, they shoot back.

Straight outta Yahoo News:

Gun sales spike in Colorado after shooting, just like they did in Arizona

Gun sales in Colorado have spiked since last week's massacre, The Denver Post reports.

Background checks jumped more than 41 percent since Friday's shooting that left 12 dead and 58 injured during a midnight screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" at an Aurora movie theater. Over the weekend, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation approved background checks for 2,887 people who wanted to purchase a firearm, the Post said, an increase of 43 percent over the previous weekend.

"It's been insane," Jake Meyers, an employee at Rocky Mountain Guns and Ammo in Parker, Colo., told the paper.

Spikes in gun sales are not uncommon in the aftermath of mass shootings like the one in Colorado. Following the January 2011 shooting that killed six and wounded more than a dozen others—including former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords—in Tucson, sales of handguns soared more than 60 percent in the state, according to FBI data. Similar spikes were seen after the massacres at Virginia Tech and Columbine.

Some of those seeking to buy guns in Colorado over the weekend said they were seeking to arm themselves for protection in the wake of the shooting, according to the report. But many were likely fearful of a change in gun laws. Democratic state Rep. Rhonda Fields of Aurora told the paper she wants Congress to reinstate a ban on assault weapons.

"When something like this happens people get worried that the government is going to ban stuff," Greg Wolff, an Arizona gun shop owner, told Bloomberg.com after the rampage in Tucson.

They also get worried when a Democrat is about to take office. Before President Barack Obama's 2008 election, there was a spike in gun sales, and gun shop owners and manufacturers have reported similarly brisk buying in 2012.

"It's definitely the election year," Jason Hanson, a former CIA officer, told Fox News in March. "People feel that Obama will serve second term and with it their gun rights with taken away, so they are stocking up."

In December, the FBI reported a record number of background checks—1,534,414—sent by gun dealers. "Almost half a million checks were done in just the last six days before Christmas," according to CNN. In 2010, the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System received more than 14 million requests, more than in any other year.

James Holmes, the suspected shooter in Friday's massacre, was found with a military-style AR-15 assault rifle, two Glock .40-caliber pistols and a Remington 12-gauge shotgun when he was arrested outside the theater in Aurora. And like Jared Loughner, the accused killer in the Tucson massacre, Holmes purchased the guns legally.

Just put Bush in charge of stopping their use and it will be as if all the Syrian chemical and bio weapons never existed.

Our jug-eared [and addle-brained] Doofus-In=Chief, Nero The Zero, fiddles while the decent human beings pray that God will give Israel enough strength to handle this and the Iranian goat rapist regime before Tel Aviv is made to look like Treblinka.

From the CBC via Yahoo Canada News:

Can Syria keep control of its chemical weapons?

It was a bold admission on the part of the Syrian regime — that long-suspected chemical weapons existed within its conflict-ridden borders.

For decades, intelligence and military experts have cobbled together indirect intelligence about Syria's unconventional weapons capabilities.

On Monday, Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi acknowledged the presence of chemical and biological weapons when he said "all of these types of weapons are in storage and under security."

"No chemical weapons will be used" inside Syria against its own citizenry, said Makdissi, adding they would only be used if Syria is "exposed to external aggression."

Given the beleaguered regime of President Bashar al-Assad has repeatedly said the 17-month uprising is sponsored by foreign infiltrators and terrorists, Makdissi's statement created some confusion in some circles. Adding to that confusion, the government later backpedalled on Makdissi's statement, stating the policy applied only "if any" such weapons were present.

Whatever the case, the use of chemical weaponry on Syrians, while a horrifying prospect, is not the most likely or worrisome scenario, observers say.

"Even in desperate circumstances, I can’t see them resorting to chemical weapons," said Wesley Wark of the University of Toronto's Munk Centre for International Studies. "The Assad regime knows there would be swift military reaction from the U.S. and Israelis."

While the mere presence of chemical weapons is "alarming," Fawaz Gerges, a professor of international relations and director of the London School of Economics' Middle East Centre, says the true danger is if Syria implodes and the regime loses its grasp on its chemical weapons cache.

"The worst-case scenario is that chemical weapons fall into the wrong hands," said Gerges.

Among myriad dangers posed by any collapse of the Assad regime would be that its arsenal — secret and otherwise —passes over to the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah,or to some of the rogue Syrian military units or paramilitary organizations.

If the chemical weapons are left unguarded, experts say, they could fall into the hands of the opposition Free Syrian Army, which might employ them out of desperation; or the stash could even "simply disappear," says Wark.

"Any of those scenarios are really nightmare scenarios."

Syria is believed to have the most advanced chemical warfare capabilities in the Middle East.

In June, Israel's deputy chief of the general staff, Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh, suggested it has the "biggest chemical weapons arsenal in the world" with "missiles and hand rockets capable of reaching any part of Israeli territory."

Some believe that Syria began building its chemical weapons capability before the 1973 Yom Kippur War against Israel.

The country is not part of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which requires member states to be transparent about their stockpiles and destroy them. The international watchdog reacted to Monday's news, saying it has never received an official response from Syria about stockpiles and refused to speculate on the veracity of reports.

"There’s a lot that is unknown about Syria’s weapons program," said Omar Lamrani, military analyst for Stratfor, a strategic intelligence provider. "Most of the information we know is from either outside surveillance or inside reports. It’s not very clear."

What's more important is whether Syria has the precursor elements needed to make a chemical weapons stockpile operational, analysts say.

"The only recent clue we've had to the operational status is the reported movement of some of these chemical weapons from location to location, which would indicate that the Assad regime wants to make sure that they don’t lose control of them," said Wark. "They wouldn’t worry about them so much if they weren't operationally usable."

Syria is believed to possess a large number of Scud ballistic missiles that can be fitted with chemical warheads.

International concerns rose last week when Nawaf Fares, the former Syrian ambassador to Iraq and the highest-level political defector from the Assad regime, told the BBC that he was convinced Assad would draw on his stockpile of chemical weapons if cornered. He did not, however, offer any proof.

Lamrani notes, however, that it's important to "keep in mind that the Syrians have always thought of their chemical weapons as a deterrent," particularly regarding Israel.

While the Syrian government has sought to assuage the international community that the chemical weapons stash is in safe hands, so, too, have the rebels.

Last week, Gen. Adnan Silou, one of the most high-ranking of the Assad regime defectors to join the opposition Free Syrian Army, and a former general in the country's chemical and biological weapons administration, told the Daily Telegraph that the Free Syrian Army is creating a unit assigned to deal with chemical weapons and has been trained in "securing stores, in reconnaissance of possible threats, in how to purge supplies."

But "whether or not they’d have the capacity to secure chemical weapon stores and treat them properly is really anybody’s guess," says Wark.

Also among the unknowns is where the chemical weapons stash is being kept.
According to Global Security, Syria has four suspected production facilities.

One is believed to be located just north of Damascus, others are believed to be near the industrial city of Homs, in Hama and in the Mediterranean port of Latakia, an area dominated by the powerful Alawite minority. Specialists also believe about 45 smaller facilities exist across the country.

But military analyst Lamrani notes that even if the chemicals fall into the hands of groups outside the Assad regime, they would need expertise on how to assemble the weapons.

Still, with international action at a standstill after Russia and China last week vetoed the third UN Security Council resolution to impose sanctions, intelligence experts are now in the difficult position of trying to find ways to prevent a "loss-of-control scenario" regarding the chemical weapons stockpile.

"If Syria is left to fight it out, we’ll never be in a position to know when the sort of danger point will come until it arrives, and that's the problematic thing," said Wark.

Orgasm Über Alles!

And now the last of our troika of jerk-off stories [In more ways than one. The only way anybody still in the Party of Blasphemy, Buggery, and 'Bortion can get even the tiniest stiffy is knowing they're helping millions lose their souls.] from the Old Gray Whore:

He's Watching That, in Public?

On a recent morning at the main public library here, dozens of people sat and stood at computers, searching job-hunting sites, playing games, watching music videos. And some looked at naked pictures of men and women in full view of passers-by.

The library has been stung by complaints about the content, including explicit pornography, that some people watch in front of others. To address the issue, the library over the last six weeks has installed 18 computer monitors with plastic hoods so that only the person using the computer can see what is on the screen. 

“It’s for their privacy, and for ours,” said Michelle Jeffers, the library spokeswoman. The library will also soon post warnings on the screens of all its 240 computers to remind people to be sensitive to other patrons — a solution it prefers to filtering or censoring images. 

It is an issue playing out not just at libraries, but in cafes and gyms, on airplanes, trains and highways, and just about any other place where the explosion of computers, tablets and smartphones has given rise to a growing source of dispute: public displays of mature content. 

The subject can put personal media on a collision course with personal morality. This is an era, after all, that celebrates people’s ability to watch what they want, when they want, but it also forces bystanders to choose whether to shrug, object or avert their eyes. 

Some legislators battle against public displays of pornographic content, at least on the roadways. A bill is pending in the New Jersey legislature to criminalize the playing of obscene material in cars — say, on seat-back DVD players or in party buses — that could viewed by, and distract or offend, others on the road. State Senator Anthony Bucco, who sponsored the bill, said people who view such videos in public “don’t care what anybody around them thinks.” 

Similar laws have passed in the last decade in Tennessee, Louisiana and Virginia, and one failed last year in Pennsylvania, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. 

An antipornography group, Morality in Media, has in recent months launched a “no porn on the plane” campaign, and has contacted most major airlines to argue that they should commit to policing what people watch. 

The group took up the cause after its executive director, Dawn Hawkins, was on a flight in January and noticed a man in the row in front of her looking at images on his iPad of naked women whipping each other. 

She complained to the flight attendant, who told her he was powerless to force the man to stop, she recalled. The man eventually turned off the images, but Ms. Hawkins continued to press him on why he was looking at those images in public.
She said a woman then came up to her and said, “Be quiet, nobody cares.” 

“The fact of the matter is nobody did care,” Ms. Hawkins said. “I couldn’t believe people didn’t care that someone was watching pornography in public. I couldn’t believe society has come to this.” 

So said the last sane citizen of the Roman Empire.

For its part, Delta Air Lines says that it does not allow people to view “offensive content of any kind,” but also said that flight attendants are trained to make case-by-case assessments depending on circumstances and concerns of other passengers. 

A spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants said the issue is a bit of a “gray area,” handled case by case, adding that its members want to avoid offending passengers or playing the role of censors. 

One reason the issue is so thorny is that not everyone agrees on what might be considered offensive. That is the case even within Morality in Media, where Ms. Hawkins said people should also be careful with public viewings of violent content. 

But that’s not the view of the group’s president, Patrick Trueman, a former Justice Department official in charge of prosecuting child and adult pornography. “It’s not the same situation with violence,” he said, noting that graphic war scenes from a movie like “Saving Private Ryan” can provide a powerful history lesson.
Some people develop their own sliding scales for what is acceptable. 

At Cafe Ponte in the Noe Valley neighborhood of San Francisco, the owner, Bruce Ponte, 53, regularly sees people looking at Craigslist and other sites listing personal ads that can include naked photos. There is a parochial school next door, and he fears a parent will complain that he should restrict what people look at on their computers. He does not think he will. 

“This is an Internet cafe,” he said. “People come here to surf. Am I supposed to do something about that?” 

In fact, Mr. Ponte acknowledged that he himself sometimes sits at his cafe and surfs the hookup sites, and occasionally sees naked photos. But there are other times he takes a stand against what he considers a major public nuisance: patrons talking too loudly on their cellphones. He tells them to take it outside.
“They’re bothering everybody,” he said. 

He offers free Wi-Fi, like a growing number of cafes and restaurants. There have been a few reports of men being arrested over the last year for viewing pornography on their computers at McDonald’s. McDonald’s declined to comment for this article. Starbucks said it does not censor what people use its Wi-Fi for but reserves the right to ask someone not to view material that might offend patrons or employees. 

Some people choose to act as their own censor. Lewis Goldberg, 42, a partner in an investor relations firm in New York, occasionally watches shows like “Mad Men” or “Game of Thrones” on his iPad when he works out at the gym. But he fast-forwards through sexual or particularly violent scenes. 

“There’s a woman jogging behind me on the treadmill and I don’t want her to fall off,” he said. “I’m bringing my media into a public space, and it’s part of my responsibility in a civil society.” 

Christi Chidester, 32, who works in communications for a federal agency in San Francisco, was in the main library here recently when she walked past someone watching hard-core pornography. She complained to the librarian and was told there was nothing that could be done. 

Ms. Chidester said she has since spent a lot of time thinking about the issue, and while she wishes the library would create specific zones or rooms for those Internet users, she now likens seeing pornography on someone else’s screen to hearing someone curse in public. It is going to happen sometimes. 

Others fiercely defend the rights of people to watch whatever they want in public. When Ms. Hawkins, from Morality in Media, posted a YouTube video describing her encounter on Delta, she was bombarded with angry e-mails from people telling her to mind her own business. 

“People said, ‘Just look away,’ ” she recalled. “Their argument is that people can do what they want. This is America.” 

So said the last Roman as the Visigoths burned it all down, raped his woman, and bashed in his skull.

What can we do? We have to keep the economicc recovery going...

...or, I'd blame the women for this, but I'm sure the sodomites get headaches too.

From LiveScience.com via Yahoo News:

Porn Viewer Joins Mystifying Sex Headache Club

Every time a young man watched pornography over two years, he experienced a headache so severe he had to stop watching, according to a report of his case.

The headache would develop gradually, beginning within the first five minutes of the video, and would reach its most severe point within eight to 10 minutes, according to the neurologists who treated the man, a 24-year-old bachelor in India.

There are two types of "primary headache associated with sexual activity," as the condition is properly called, and it sounds as if this man had the less common type, which progresses slowly along with heightening sexual arousal, Dr. Amy Gelfand, a neurologist at the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, said after hearing about the case.

"The more common type is a sudden and severe headache that occurs at orgasm," Gelfand said. The seeming commonness of that headache may simply be due to the fact that people are more likely to bring them to medical attention, frightened by their timing, she added.

Regardless of the type, primary sex headaches are a mystery, Gelfand said  — no one really knows what causes them. Some have speculated that muscle contractions in the neck and jaw during sex may somehow trigger the headaches, while others have suggested they occur because blood vessels in the head are abnormally reactive to sexual activity.

The researchers who treated the man in India suggested his case was caused by changes in the pain-sensing nerves in the face and jaw, along with increased pain sensitivity due to "a heightened emotional state associated with viewing pornography."

Primary sex headaches strike 1 percent of the population at some point in life, and are more common in men, Gelfand said. About half of people who have them also have migraines, but it's not known whether having migraines raises the likelihood of having sex headaches, or vice versa  – or whether other untold factors are behind both.

The patient in India — an otherwise healthy man who worked as a software professional — had no history of migraines or tension headaches in general, and he reported no previous headaches linked with sexual activity, including masturbation. He'd had no head injuries or meningitis infections, the researchers said.

Previous studies have not suggested any link between the headaches and specific sexual behaviors, the researchers said.

The results of the man's physical and neurological exams were reportedly normal. Gelfand said that is often with the case in people with primary sex headaches. (In fact, if an exam revealed a physical cause of the headaches, then by definition, the person would be instead diagnosed with a "secondary sex headache," she said.)

The man was advised to take a combination of ibuprofen and acetaminophen half an hour before watching porn, and he reported the drugs signi?cantly relieved his pain.

In most people, the headaches occur over a period of a few months, rather than years, Gelfand said. Patients are often treated with a drug called indomethacin, which is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug available by prescription in the U.S., and is also used to treat other types of headaches.

The case report was published online June 14 in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Put that thing down [Sorry.] and get a life! And a wife!

From ANI via Yahoo India News:

Video games and online porn 'can kill men'

An e-book by a celebrated Stanford University psychologist has suggested that guys may be doomed by their addiction to Xbox video games and X-rated video dames.

Author Philip Zimbardo's more startling conclusion in "The Demise of Guys," co-authored by Nikita Duncan is "Video games and online pornography could kill you."imbardo, 79, warns of the possible annihilation of the species-apparently all because certain people can't be bothered to make their beds. 

In the townhouse Zimbardo has lived in for 40 years just off San Francisco's Crookedest Street, he and his 25-year-old co-author zigzag through their case for the coming guypocalypse. 

"The demise of guys is a disaster in the making," Zimbardo said.

For all the hand-wringing by parents and social scientists, there is little research linking the consumption of online sex and violent video games with the national crime rate, which has been going down as those two seemingly corrosive forms of entertainment have become more readily available. 

Certainly, there is more hard-core pornography available to any guy with access to a smartphone or computer than ever before, but if virtual sex is preventing males from forming lasting relationships with real women, the evidence at this point is more anecdotal than conclusive.

But Zimbardo is convinced the damage is already being done. He points to research connecting the dots between a 40-year low in boys' SAT scores, a National Center for Education Statistics study that reported boys four to five times more likely than girls to be diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and 30 percent more likely to drop out of high school and college.

"Guys are now spending a huge percentage of every day in a digital world. Playing video games, watching porn, doing YouTube, texting, watching sports-most of it alone," Zimbardo noted.

"There's no doubt that males in our society-whether out of sheer boredom or lack of coping skills in how to deal with stress-are numbing down in these ways," counters Donna Lera, a Peninsula family therapist. "But is it inhibiting them from entering college? I don't know. These are brazen statements to me."

The easy availability of hard-core sex online is sending boys to their rooms in ever greater numbers, said Leonard Sax, whose 2007 book, "Boys Adrift," anticipated the current wave of boy-on-the-brink books, such as "Why Boys Fail," by Richard Whitmire; "The Trouble With Boys," by Peg Tyre; and "Swagger," by Lisa Bloom. 

"The outcome of this is the decline of the United States as a global leader," Sax said.

Like Zimbardo, who says the isolation required for games and porn causes loneliness-and that lonely people die earlier-Sax insists the evidence of decline is all around us.

Why do the Russian people enjoy being the Czar's slaves?

Is it fear or inertia? I could ask the same of China...

Wait a minute. How could I be so arrogant? We've squandered every bit of our freedom and are about to reelect a despot. At least the Russians and Chinese can blame their pasts.

From AP via Yahoo News:

Russia flood brings volunteer spirit, and new law

A stooped woman in her 70s dropped off a kettle and about $600 in cash in Moscow, while a thick-necked businessman unloaded an SUV packed with brand new strollers and jumbo packages of diapers.

It was part of a spontaneous wave of charity for flood victims in the town of Krymsk, jumpstarted by social networking sites and through a handful of independent radio and TV stations. It was also part of a growing penchant for independent action that unsettles the powerful.

A week after the unprecedented flood volunteerism emerged, a Kremlin-linked body proposed a bill that regulates charity drives. Critics suspect the move is aimed at keeping a tight leash on popular movements that could snowball into anti-government protest.

In the wake of the massive opposition protests that erupted over the winter, officials are uneasy with signs of newly energetic independent initiatives. Recently passed laws put non-governmental organizations under intimidating scrutiny and impose ruinous fines on participants in unauthorized demonstrations.

While the eagerness of Russians to rise to the flood cause was seen by many as a heartening advance for civil society, it also appeared to be tacit criticism of Russian authorities as untrustworthy and ineffectual.

"The government is terrified of an awakening civil society," Genady Gudkov, an opposition member of parliament, said Monday on Echo Moskvy radio. 

"Volunteers and mass volunteerism have only just appeared, and there is a genuine fear that this volunteer movement will morph into something else."

The bill, to be taken up by Parliament when the lower house reconvenes in September, does not block volunteer efforts. It concerns itself only with the legal and financial liability incurred by volunteers and the organizations they work with.
But activists are concerned that it will add a laborious layer of paperwork that could bog down quick and effective response to disasters like the one in Krymsk.

They complain that the vagueness of the legislation creates an ominous atmosphere of government supervision that could have a chilling effect on Russia's budding volunteer spirit, at the same time as President Vladimir Putin intensifies his squeeze on the opposition.

At least 171 people died in Krymsk and nearby parts of southern Russia when flash floods triggered by extraordinarily heavy rains inundated the area on July 6-7.

Thousands of volunteers traveled to the area some 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) south of Moscow to help dig houses out from mud and aid the estimated 5,000 left homeless. Across the country, activists set up donation points for contributions of food, clothes and money.

The response was unusual in a country where the volunteer spirit is far less developed than in the West. In communist times participation at mass rallies and involvement in social groups was mandatory. After the fall of the Soviet Union, many Russians turned inwards, focusing on family and their jobs instead of on the public sphere.

Developers of the legislation say its intent is not to stifle volunteerism, but, in fact, to add clarity to the process.

Darya Miloslavskaya, a member of the Public Chamber and author of the bill, said that it was designed only to establish a more formal relationship between volunteers and the organizations they worked with.

"We have nothing to do with politics. There was no intention of saying that the government is bad and volunteers are good, or vice versa," Miloslavskaya, who had been drafting the legislation since April, told Echo Moskvy.

The Public Chamber is a state oversight body that monitors parliament and drafts legislation. It consists of members appointed by the Kremlin and representatives of public associations.

The bill would require volunteers and the organizers they work with to sign a contract if participants hoped to receive compensation for any expenses incurred.
Particularly in a country where many look suspiciously on government officials and corruption-riddled state institutions, Russian activists worry that the new law will only deter ordinary people from getting involved at all.

"If the first thing that a volunteer does is get in a car and go to look for some children who are lost in the forest, now according to this bill you'll have (the volunteer) talking to some bureaucrats and filling out papers," said Maria Baronova, an opposition activist who was one of the main organizers of the Krymsk relief effort.

"People will stop getting involved, because in general people don't want to be connected with either government officials or with bureaucracy," she said.

The Krymsk relief effort attracted scores of contributors to the collection site in Moscow, where Russians from all walks of life hauled boxes of food and clothes on buses bound for Krymsk.

"It's better to participate in something independent rather than something that belongs to any kind of party, so that no one can make PR out of such a tragedy," said 28-year-old Anastasia Kayumova, a choir teacher who came to the volunteer site in the morning and ended up staying until dark to help.

"Already on that evening (after the flood), I was telling myself that civil society does exist here," said Maria Baronova. "People have to understand that you have to do two things in life: go to work, and defend the place you live, that if you don't do that with your own hands then nothing will change."

In a public discussion Wednesday that brought officials and authors of the bill together with activists, charity organizers insisted that, while some kind of regulation of nascent volunteer movements was necessary in Russia, the law would go too far in giving the government oversight.

"There is a lot that needs elaborating," said Grigory Kuksin, leader of the volunteer programs of Russia's Greenpeace, during the public discussion. "But it doesn't demand a new law that will narrow the definition of volunteerism."

About Me

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First of all, the word is SEX, not GENDER. If you are ever tempted to use the word GENDER, don't. The word is SEX! SEX! SEX! SEX! For example: "My sex is male." is correct. "My gender is male." means nothing. Look it up. What kind of sick neo-Puritan nonsense is this? Idiot left-fascists, get your blood-soaked paws off the English language. Hence I am choosing "male" under protest.


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