Health experts ask Brazil to consider moving or delaying Olympics due to Zika virus.

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Health experts ask Brazil to consider moving or delaying Olympics due to Zika virus.

Health experts on Friday urged the World Health Organization to consider whether the Rio de Janeiro Olympics should be postponed or moved because of the Zika outbreak.

The 150 experts — including a former White House science adviser — issued an open letter to the U.N. health agency, calling for the Games to be delayed or relocated “in the name of public health.”

The letter cited recent scientific evidence that the Zika virus causes severe birth defects, most notably babies born with abnormally small heads. In adults, it can cause neurological problems, including a rare syndrome that can be fatal or result in temporary paralysis. The authors also noted that despite increased efforts to wipe out the mosquitoes that spread Zika, cases in Rio have gone up rather than down.

Several public health academics have previously warned that having hundreds of thousands of people head to the Aug. 5-21 Games in Brazil will inevitably lead to the births of more brain-damaged babies and speed up the virus’ global spread.

WHO declared the Zika epidemic to be a global emergency in February and in its latest assessment this week, said it “does not see an overall decline in the outbreak.”

“The fire is already burning, but that is not a rationale not to do anything about the Olympics,” said Amir Attaran, a professor at the University of Ottawa and one of the letter’s authors. “It is not the time now to throw more gasoline onto the fire.”

WHO has already advised pregnant women not to travel to Rio and says other travelers should avoid poor and overcrowded parts of the city. WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan said earlier this month that the U.N. health agency is increasingly worried about Zika but stopped short of recommending the Rio Olympics be moved or postponed. Chan, who is not of child-bearing age, noted that she herself would be going to the Games.

Among the letter’s signatories are experts from more than two dozen countries in fields including public health, bioethics and pediatrics. The letter also noted a potential conflict of interest, highlighting the decades-long collaboration between WHO and the International Olympic Committee.

The authors said that partnership “was last affirmed in 2010 at an event where the Director-General of WHO and president of the IOC signed a memorandum of understanding, which is secret because neither has disclosed it.”

They also pointed to a group that WHO established to help cities not only with health advice, but to potentially help them bid for major events including the Olympics.

“WHO cannot credibly assess the public health risks of Zika and the Olympics when it sets neutrality aside,” the letter stated.

WHO did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.

In an email to the AP, the IOC said it would “always consult the WHO for guidance and advice on health matters.”

Concerns over Zika have prompted USA Swimming to move its pre-Olympic training camp from Puerto Rico to Atlanta and Major League Baseball also scrapped a series of games that were going to be held in San Juan.

No Olympic Games have ever been moved from their host city due to medical concerns, but in 2003, FIFA decided to switch the Women’s World Cup soccer tournament from China to the United States on short notice due to the threat posed by the respiratory virus SARS.

Source: http://bit.ly/1WtZCJf

Saudi Arabian man shoots doctor who delivered his baby because he ‘saw his wife naked’

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Saudi Arabian man shoots doctor who delivered his baby because he ‘saw his wife naked’

Saudi authorities have arrested a man for shooting a male doctor who had helped his wife’s delivery, after arguing that a female doctor should have overseen the birth.

The doctor, Muhannad Al Zabn, delivered the baby in April at the King Fahad Medical City in Riyadh, Gulf News reported. The father offered his thanks to the doctor and asked to meet him at the hospital to show him his appreciation in person for the delivery.

The pair proceeded to meet in the hospital garden to talk about the delivery when the father unveiled a firearm and shot at the doctor, seriously wounded him.

The father ran from the scene but Saudi police later arrested him. Health workers transferred Al Zabn to the hospital’s intensive care unit but he is now in a stable condition.

Bassam Al Buraikan, spokesperson for the King Fahad Medical City hospital confirmed the incident to Gulf News and said that authorities were conducting an investigation using evidence from the scene of the shooting.

The incident divided opinion online, with most supporting the doctor but some questioning why the father was put in such a position.

One Twitter user wrote: “Just when you thought ‘jealousy’ can’t get worse.”

A prominent Arab Twitter user, Ahmad S. Algarni, asked why the hospital did not meet the request of the jealous father.

Source: http://bit.ly/1shtXy4

Metalcore Singer Renounces Christianity After Reading Richard Dawkins’ ‘God Delusion’

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Metalcore Singer Renounces Christianity After Reading Richard Dawkins’ ‘God Delusion’

The lead singer of the Missouri-based metalcore band The Order of Elijah announced on Saturday that he has renounced his faith, citing evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins’ book, The God Delusion with helping answer existential questions that he claims no Christian wanted to address.

On Saturday, Shannon Low, the lead singer of the band, confessed on the band’s Facebook page that he has decided to shed his faith “like a cocoon.”

In the post, Low explained that he was baptized at the age of 20, and once felt called to be a pastor. However, he derailed from that plan and spent over a decade doing drugs, having sex and playing guitar in metal bands.

It wasn’t until Low joined the Ignite church in Joplin, Missouri, and became friends with the pastor that he got his life in order and stopped drinking and doing drugs. Low eventually played guitar for the church’s worship team and became the leader of the church youth group.

“For the first time ever I felt I was doing what God had called me to do,” Low wrote. “The story short is it all fell apart. I’m just pledging this flag to let you know how passionate I was about Christ and having a ministry. This was the time when TOOE was taking root and forming.”

But after Low and his wife divorced about a year after his daughter was born, he explained that he fell back to his old drinking habits and entered a dark place in his life.

After returning from absence to church, Low said he began to question some of the injustices that he read about in the Old Testament and wondered how a just religion could promote things like sacrificing a virgin child for the sake of a battle victory and the mauling of children who insulted Elisha.

“This didn’t break me though. I still claimed Jesus, I said to myself ‘Jesus must have realized everyone was insane and there to set it straight,'” Low reasoned. “Which many people were quick to inform me that was blasphemous because Jesus condones and quotes the Old Testament quite frequently. I still stuck to my guns but received a lot of flak by my spiritual peers for not understanding why the OT God was so racist, ethnic cleansing, jealous as an insecure girlfriend, cruel and power hungry.”

Low said he then “picked up a book called The God Delusion which talks about how all of this chaotic puzzle adds up. It answered so many questions that my Christian friends would literally get furious for me to even address,” Low stated. “Sometimes I would lose Christian friends by simply pondering certain questions. I would see these same Christians publicly calling my other friends ‘abominations’ for being gay.”

Low then asserted that if God’s message was so important, it shouldn’t be filled with “contradictions.”

“Why allow his message to be spread by fallible humans and sit by idly while falsehoods are spread in his name?” Low asked. “Why sentence [two-thirds] of the world to Hell for being born in the wrong culture? I’d think a perfect God would never need to correct His Word if our literal souls depended on it.”

“After one of the most difficult decisions in my adult years, I had no choice but to accept that I had shed my faith like a cocoon,” he added. “It was scary yet liberating, it confusing yet simple, I felt at peace yet completely shaken, I pretty much had to reprogram my way of thinking about the world. Not only that, I felt I had lived a lie for half my life. I read books, tried meditating, hell sometimes I’d even try to talk to God.”

Low even argued that dropping his faith helped him to regain control of his life and his alcohol problem.

“After a few months I read about the science of addiction and life trauma. I stopped trying to pray my alcoholism away and began combating it with real methods,” Low wrote. “I began confronting my problems head on rather than ‘giving them to God.’ I became very interested in researching science and the culture of other religions daily. I eventually completely gave up alcohol, got my health back, and enrolled in college. I’m proud to say I have a 3.75 GPA.”

Low’s announcement comes as The Order of Elijah is set to take off on a multi-city tour in June. The tour is titled “God’s Unwanted Tour.”

“Look, I love you guys and I’m sorry I’m not a Christian anymore,” Low told the fans. “This is honestly me completely coming out of the faith closet, I tried to avoid throwing all my mental baggage into the road but you guys very important to me and the rest of the TOOE crew.”

Source: http://bit.ly/1OTfOf6

Muslim cleric says gay sex ‘disgusts Allah and causes earthquakes’

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 Muslim cleric says gay sex ‘disgusts Allah and causes earthquakes’

A Muslim cleric in Ghana has defended rising attacks on homosexuals in the country after claiming gay sex ‘disgusts Allah’ and ’causes earthquakes’.

Mallam Abass Mahmud made the comments amid reports of heightened hostility among Zongo communities in Kumasi and the capital Accra towards people in same-sex relationships.

He said in an interview: ‘Allah gets annoyed when males engage in sexual encounter and such disgusting encounter causes earthquake.’

Mallam Abass Mahmud made the comments amid reports of heightened hostility among Zongo communities in Kumasi and the capital Accra towards people in same-sex relationships (file picture)

Mallam Abass Mahmud made the comments amid reports of heightened hostility among Zongo communities in Kumasi and the capital Accra towards people in same-sex

Mahmud said Allah destroyed the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah ‘as the result of homosexuality’.

According to the British Government's travel advice for Ghana homosexuality in the country is illegal (file picture)

According to the British Government’s travel advice for Ghana homosexuality in the country is illegal.

The cleric added: ‘Should we allow such a shame to continue in our communities against our holy teachings?

‘Certainly no, and we are very happy to chase away such idiots from our Zongo communities.’

According to the British Government’s travel advice for Ghana homosexuality in the country is illegal.

The guide adds: ‘Although there is a small gay community, there is no ‘scene’ and most Ghanaians don’t accept that such activity exists.’

Source: http://dailym.ai/1sBb0Gh

Teenagers are picking and choosing religion to customize their needs on Facebook.

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Teenagers are picking and choosing religion to customize their needs on Facebook.

Regardless of what their religious tradition teaches, teenagers on social media platforms like Facebook are “picking and choosing” religion to customize their needs than those who do not use social media, researchers have revealed.

Women are more inclined to believe that all religions are true as opposed to that only one is true or that there is very little truth to religion.

Married people are less likely to accept the notion of many religions being true when compared with only one, the findings suggested.

“On Facebook, there is no expectation that one’s ‘likes’ be logically consistent and hidebound by tradition,” said sociology researcher Paul K. McClure from Baylor University.

Religion, as a result, does not consist of timeless truths. “Instead, the Facebook effect is that all spiritual options become commodities and resources that individuals can tailor to meet their needs,” McClure added.

Social media users also are more likely to see it as acceptable for others of their faith tradition to practice other religions.

However, the so-called “spiritual tinkerers” are not necessarily more likely to believe all religions are true.

“Social networking site users are between 50 to 80 percent more likely to be flexible about varied religious beliefs and practices,” according to McClure’s findings published in the journal Sociological Perspectives.

The study is based on an analysis of data from the National Study of Youth and Religion.

McClure used three waves of telephone surveys with youths and their parents from 2002 to 2013. More than 89 percent of young adults report using social network sites with some frequency.

“What this study suggests is that social technologies have an effect on how we think of religious beliefs and traditional institutions,” McClure said.

In particular, those who spend time on social networking sites like Facebook are more likely to think it’s perfectly acceptable to experiment with other religions and claim they do not need to remain committed to the teachings of a singular tradition.

“In this way, emerging adults may distinguish themselves from older generations not only in their use of technology, but in how they think of religion,” the findings showed.

Source: http://bit.ly/20tieHE

Oklahoma bill that would jail abortion doctors has been vetoed.

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Oklahoma bill that would jail abortion doctors has been vetoed.

The bill, part of an overt strategy to challenge the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling, had passed the state senate 32-12 without debate and had gone to the governor’s desk.

“The bill is so ambiguous and so vague that doctors cannot be certain what medical circumstances would be considered ‘necessary to preserve the life of the mother,’” Fallin, a Republican, said in a statement.

“The absence of any definition, analysis or medical standard renders this exception vague, indefinite and vulnerable to subjective interpretation and application,” she said.

Fallin is staunchly pro-life and has signed 18 bills supporting pro-life causes. Lawmakers can still attempt a veto override, which requires a two-thirds majority in each chamber.

Abortion-rights supporters said the measure was clearly unconstitutional, but the bill’s author said he hoped it would be a first step toward overturning the 1973 Roe ruling that legalized abortion.

“Since I believe life begins at conception, it should be protected, and I believe it’s a core function of state government to defend that life from the beginning of conception,” Republican Sen. Nathan Dahm, the bill’s author, said.

Under the bill, doctors who perform abortions would have faced three years behind bars and lose their medical licenses. There were no exceptions in the case of rape or incest but consideration would have been given if a mother’s life is in jeopardy.

Abortion rights supporters — including the state’s medical association – argued the bill was unconstitutional and vowed to fight it.

State Sen. Ervin Yen, the only doctor in the Senate and a Republican, described the legislation as “insane” and voted against it.

The Center for Reproductive Rights also slammed the bill, describing it as “cruel and unconstitutional.”

Source: http://fxn.ws/1TT99TU

‘Psychic’ arrested after charging $41,000 to remove ‘evil spirits’

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‘Psychic’ arrested after charging $41,000 to remove ‘evil spirits’

An East Rutherford woman who operated as a psychic out of an office on Fairview Avenue was arrested this week after a client told police she gave the woman $41,000 to remove spirits from her life, police said Thursday.

The victim said she began to meet with Holly Stanley, 25, in March for help with personal matters. She paid Stanley $100 for a crystal ball reading, police said.

“At the conclusion of the crystal ball reading, Ms. Stanley told the victim that there were spirits affecting her life,” Paramus Police Chief Kenneth R. Ehrenberg said in a statement.

Stanley told the victim she needed $5,000 to remove the spirits, Ehrenberg said.

The victim, who is from Glen Rock, paid the money, according to the chief.

After several more psychic sessions, Stanley allegedly told the victim she needed an additional $36,000 to help her.

“The victim gave Stanley the money,” the chief said.

On or about April 7, Stanley told the victim more money was needed to remove an unwanted spirit, according to Ehrenberg.

“Stanley at this time asked for an additional $90,000,” the chief said.

Instead of paying the money, the victim became suspicious and went to police several days later.

After an investigation, Stanley was arrested at the Paramus Police Department and charged with theft by deception.

She was released on $5,000 bail.

Police ask anyone with information about Stanley or the case to call them at 201-262-3400.

Source: http://bit.ly/1Ric32F

Muslim nations block gay groups from attending United Nations AIDS/HIV meeting.

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Muslim nations block gay groups from attending United Nations AIDS/HIV meeting.

A group of 51 Muslim states has blocked 11 gay and transgender organizations from attending a high-level meeting at the United Nations next month on ending AIDS, sparking a protest by the United States, Canada and the European Union.

Egypt wrote to the president of the 193-member General Assembly on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to object to the participation of the 11 groups. It did not give a reason in the letter, which Reuters saw.

Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, wrote to General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft and said the groups appeared to have been blocked for involvement in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy.

“Given that transgender people are 49 times more likely to be living with HIV than the general population, their exclusion from the high-level meeting will only impede global progress in combating the HIV/AIDS pandemic,” Power wrote.

U.N. officials said the European Union and Canada also wrote to Lykketoft to protest the objections by the OIC group, whose members include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia, Sudan and Uganda.

The issues of LGBT rights and participation in events at the United Nations have long been contentious. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has advocated for LGBT equality but faced opposition from African, Arab and Muslim states as well as Russia and China.

“We are deeply concerned that at every negotiation on a new General Assembly gathering, the matter of NGO (non-governmental organization) participation is questioned and scrutinized,” Power wrote.

“The movement to block the participation of NGOs on spurious or hidden grounds is becoming epidemic and severely damages the credibility of the U.N.,” she said.

In 2014, Ban said the U.N. would recognize all same-sex marriages of its staff, allowing them to receive its benefits. Russia, with the support of 43 states including Saudi Arabia, China, Iran, India, Egypt, Pakistan, and Syria, unsuccessfully tried to overturn the move last year.

In February, the 54-member African Group, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the 25-member Group of Friends of the Family led by Belarus, Egypt and Qatar protested six new U.N. stamps promoting LGBT equality.

The Group of Friends of the Family promotes the traditional family. It launched a photo exhibit, “Uniting Nations for a Family Friendly World,” at the U.N. on Tuesday, which is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

Source: http://reut.rs/22jhRAO

How Corporations Profit From Black Teens’ Viral Content.

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Black Teens Are Breaking The Internet And Seeing None Of The Profits.

Kayla Newman started her Vine account to record herself commenting on the minutia and mundanity of high school life. This was nearly two years ago, when she was 16. For her handle, Newman chose a nickname made up during an annual visit to her grandmother in Georgia: “Peaches Monroee.” She added the extra “e” because it looked playful, she explained over email.

Like a diary, Newman began filming herself daily, though she has since slowed down to meet the stresses of senior year. When she’s riffing as Peaches, Newman takes videos of herself from the passenger seat of her mom’s car in her neighborhood of South Chicago. She and her mom dance at a stoplight in one early Vine; she offers an impromptu speech on self-confidence in another. In the video everyone knows, uploaded on June 21st, 2014, Kayla admires her precisely arched eyebrows: “We in this bitch. Finna get crunk. Eyebrows on fleek. Da fuq.”

I know the line by heart. Such is the nature of internet virality. As of this writing, Kayla’s original “On Fleek” Vine has generated over 36 million “loops,” or replays. That’s where any sensible person stops the tabulation. A month after Newman’s upload, someone named Kevin Gadsden reposts her Vine to YouTube, where it acquires around 3 million views. The expression “on fleek” passes through the clutches of Ariana Grande, who vines herself singing it in August 2014 for another 9 million loops, and then through those of seemingly every other social media-literate celebrity outfit that fall; corporate entities like IHOP and its rivals employ the phrase in an effort to feign cultural relevance; talk show host Andy Cohen and Anderson Cooper exchange vaguely unpleasant jabs about its meaning. “On fleek” ascends to near-officialized language.

It’s impossible to track the chain of ownership from there on out. In fact, the chain becomes more like a swarm. Put plainly, there is no recognized ownership. The phrase Newman gave the world was used to sell breakfast foods and party cups, but it only belongs to her in an intangible sense, on the rare occasions in which people choose to give her credit.

“I gave the world a word,” Newman said. “I can’t explain the feeling. At the moment I haven’t gotten any endorsements or received any payment. I feel that I should be compensated. But I also feel that good things happen to those who wait.”

What things come to those who innovate? And who can be called an innovator? When we talk about technology, the designation of “digital innovator” is usually reserved for the engineers who create platforms or the entrepreneurs who instruct them to. Rarely do we see that language applied to the users populating those platforms, though they are tech’s bread and butter. A cursory glance at the user-generated content rising to the top of the internet heap reveals how much of it is produced by black teens, members of a burgeoning Generation Z who experiment with the iPhone gaze.

In an article for The Guardian, writer Hannah Giorgis argued that content-sharing among black users and consumers constitutes a “21st century meta-language” that gives place to dances, songs, memes, and other “sociolinguistic phenomena” that are compelling enough to make the leap from the producer’s specific context to even the most corporate of marketing campaigns. Evidence teems. In August 2015, Dancing with the Stars shot a promotional campaign featuring mostly white celebrity has-beens doing Silento’s “Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae),” a song and attendant dance popularized on Vine. In one breathless appearance on Ellen, presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton tried it too. In those moments, black teens’ internet production becomes a means for communication and entertainment. Their names as creators are harder to find.

Cultural sharing is ancient. That the speed and relative borderlessness of the internet makes cross-platform, global dissemination seem like a consequence of tech is a convenient amnesia.

Denzel Meechie, 20, was physically spent when he called me. After we talked, he headed back to an Atlanta dance studio to record a video of himself and his crew improvising to songs from Drake and Future’s just-released mixtape. Meechie is a dancer, first by habit and then by trade. He’s influenced by Les Twins and the fluid lines of ballet, but he isn’t inclined to rehearsing. In his videos, his preferred backdrop is the chrome of industrial spaces. He likes inventing dances that follow songs he’s moved by, something he posits elevates the impact of any given track. The Vines on his account, @SheLovesMeechie, have been viewed over 200 million times; his choreography has influenced the way many people move.

“It’s never planned,” Meechie said. “[We] just go for it, and after we have a lot of takes, me and my director will cut in and put the best six seconds on Vine. If we got a good longer take, we’ll put it on YouTube.” His first big break came as a surprise. “I went to the gas station one time, and I danced to this one song. It went viral, and all of a sudden my social media started growing because I was flooding it with dances.” The song was “Plug Snitchin” by the Houston group Yung Nation. It hadn’t been close to a hit before Meechie danced to it; afterwards, the crew found traction.

In mid-September, YouTube shut down Meechie’s channel, which had accrued hundreds of thousands of subscribers. “I had too many copyright strikes,” he said, referring to his use of songs without explicit legal permission from labels. According to Meechie, labels contact YouTube and demand his videos be taken down, often without the knowledge of their own artists, some of whom pay him directly to help boost their buzz. “And it’s crazy, you know, because the artists ask me to put the videos up.”

As prolific and internet-known as Meechie and his crew are, they are multiple steps removed from owning, in a tangible sense, their art, leaving them vulnerable to both YouTube’s whims and to having their creativity lifted by outsiders. Atlanta, where Meechie is from, is legendary as a place where teens generate culture, and then go uncompensated as their style and tastes are usurped by a corporate machine hungry for Black Cool. Cultural sharing is ancient. That the speed and relative borderlessness of the internet makes cross-platform, global dissemination seem like a consequence of tech is a convenient amnesia. The propensity to share predates the young black creators doing so online. But they ought to claim lineage. Remember, for instance, the blues.

K.J. Greene’s 2008 essay, “Lady Sings the Blues: Intellectual Property at the Intersection of Race and Gender,” published in The Journal of Gender, Social Policy & The Law, situates the American conundrum of race and proprietorship at the specific moment of blues music production. Blues leans on an unpredictable meld of instrumental prowess and rapid improvisation, and not on a premeditated, capitalist-conscious calculus. “Black artists had no input in [copyright law], and examination reveals that it is in some respects incompatible with Black cultural production in music,” writes Greene, arguing that multiple copyright standards were specifically structured to preclude black blues artists, especially women, from claiming ownership. “The idea/expression dichotomy of copyright law prohibits copyright protection for raw ideas,” Greene wrote. “I contend that this standard provided less protection to innovative black composers, whose work was imitated so wildly it became ‘the idea.’”

Intangible things like slang and styles of dance are not considered valuable, except when they’re produced by large entities willing and able to invest in trademarking them.

Part of the reason the originators of viral content are stripped from their labor is because they don’t technically own their production. Twitter does, Vine does, Snapchat does, and the list goes on. Intangible things like slang and styles of dance are not considered valuable, except when they’re produced by large entities willing and able to invest in trademarking them.

Dana Nelson, founder of D.F. Nelson PLLC, a New York City firm specializing in copyright and music law, says outmoded intellectual property law needs updating for the digital age. “Copyright law and intellectual property in America does not follow the creative production of artists. Rather, it protects the interests of companies,” she says. “I think it is now harder to distinguish a non-commercial (fair) use from a commercial one.” Whereas Meechie’s dance videos are considered a threat to record companies’ bottom line, his cultural production—and Kayla Newman’s “on fleek,” too—is treated as ripe for the taking by those same companies.

In some sense, the roaring debates over white appropriation of black slang, music, and dance have worked as an avatar for circumstance of the independent black creator in the digital age. But the analog is insufficient. Intellectual property and viral content should be interrogated from a legal standpoint, Nelson argues. The copyright statute under which Meechie’s YouTube account got flagged and then taken down should be re-examined, as should the legal gray areas that leave individual creators like Newman in the cold.

But Meechie is young, and he has plans. The immediate one is editing the video of him and his crew dancing to Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean?” As of this writing, the clip has been viewed over 135,000 times on his new YouTube channel, but he still has a ways to go before he can reach the numbers on his old account. When I ask him how feels about his position as a simultaneously powerful shape-shifter of music and a disenfranchised net artist, he simply says he’s “dancing for now.” And, like Newman, he’s still waiting on those things good things to come.

Source: http://bit.ly/1XuCiu2

Whether it’s prostitutes or Uber drivers, we’re seeing a fight over what people can be tricked into doing ever more cheaply.

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Whether it’s prostitutes or Uber drivers, we’re seeing a fight over what people can be tricked into doing ever more cheaply.

On Thursday, 900 police descended on Club Artemis in Berlin, one of the biggest brothels in a country packed with such sex warehouses. They were hunting sex traffickers, but mainly they were cracking down on a tax scam that resembles the Uber fight we’re having here.

Few industries are as fraudulent and exploitive as prostitution. Are Artemis prostitutes employees? Or freelancers? Since opening in 2006, Artemis had allegedly evaded $25.5 million in social security payments by forcing the women to call themselves “self-employed,” though many of them worked and lived there, following house rules and sleeping upstairs in dormitories.

The club, a white barracks of a building near highways and a convention centre, attracts locals as well as men across Europe stopping in for sex with village girls from destitute Eastern Europe. The women pay €80 to enter, just as buyers do (Sundays and Monday half-price for seniors), charge €60 for an initial half-hour of sex, and then charge whatever the greasy market in their flesh-toned bathrobes will bear. Anal sex costs €150-200.

I managed to visit Club Artemis in 2014 only because its owners were excited about the possibility of setting up shop in Canada, perhaps near Pearson airport. The place was harrowing. It was huge, windowless and warm, with strange odours. I still dream about it.

The Supreme Court of Canada had given the Harper government one year to come up with a new law to make prostitutes safer. Otherwise it would allow brothels in Canada. So Canada basically adopted the Nordic Model, which penalizes buyers rather than sellers, though Harper offered almost no money to help women escape the trade.

Feminist in intent, the Nordic Model began in Sweden and is being made into law across European nations.

Not in Germany. The Artemis setup was designed to make the prostituted women look independent, with sex so cheap they were practically volunteering. The hard “feminist” left won its campaign to have prostitution legalized in 2002, labelling it a victory for women. There are said to be 400,000 prostitutes in Germany but almost none have registered as such, fearing that the licence will label and doom them to restrictive life where they will be unable to cross borders.

Germany has now become the bordello of Europe, and it’s not happy about it. A new law next year might help, mandating condoms and banning “flat rate sex” which means gangbangs. It’s ironic that the recent sex attacks in German train stations were said to be committed by immigrants who think very little of women. But Germany as a nation has never treated women well, its rape laws lax and workplace equality still distant.

Meanwhile, France, which has up to 40,000 prostitutes, many foreign, has finally criminalized paying for sex, fining men up to $5,500 and sending them to john school.

But I notice a pattern in the resistance to the Nordic Model. There’s the old verbiage battle between “prostitute,” which sounds ugly, and “sex worker,” which sounds as though sex with strangers is like being regional sales co-ordinator for your own genitals.

In these times, the battle is over defining jobs and job conditions. We’re told that prostitutes, like Uber drivers, are cool entrepreneurs doing casual “ride-sharing” for extra money. And we’re seeing a battle in Toronto city council over how Uber drivers can be exploited. I say they’re cabbies, and they need commercial insurance, snow tires, vehicle inspections and so on. They must charge HST and pay tax on their earnings, which are digitally tracked.

But whether it’s prostitutes or Uber drivers, we’re seeing a fight over what people can be tricked into doing ever more cheaply, taking on personal risk. The definition of precarious modern jobs — are they permanent, part-time, contract or on-call — is a crucial part of this.

Are you an Airbnb “host” or are you running an illegal boarding house? Think before you answer.

The sex-work lobby does this too, muddying definitions. They say they want to fight stigma, but there will always be a stigma in exploitative work. Do you want your small daughter to dream of selling her body when she grows up? No, you don’t.

But I say the stigma should land on the sex buyer, the men who exploit their economic power. Prostitution is the last gasp of an ancient male belief in the right to dominate and abuse women. It’s time to call prostitutes, Uber drivers and Airbnbers what they are: not happy campers but people in a real economic squeeze.

Source: http://on.thestar.com/1TfX1jt