By Jamal Thalji, Times Staff Writer In Print: Saturday, April 28, 2012
ST. PETERSBURG — The home page of Shefights.net — which sells Web videos of scantily clad women beating up, dominating and punishing homeless men — bills itself as the place where "fantasy meets reality."
But a different reality caught up with Shefights.net on Friday: police arrested owner Jeffrey Williams and one of the fetish website's performers after a yearlong investigation determined they had abused disabled adults.
Williams, 59, of St. Petersburg was arrested at his attorney's office on two counts of aggravated abuse of a disabled adult. Zuzu Irvina Vargo, 25, one of Shefights.net's fighters, was arrested at her St. Petersburg home on the same two counts.
Last year an advocate for the homeless interviewed homeless men who said they were offered $25 to $50 to be whipped, beaten and dominated by women in a garage or a back yard as an audience watched. The men said they were not allowed to fight back and had to endure the violence for 12 minutes to get paid.
"It's about time," said the advocate, G.W. Rolle. "I tried all sorts of things (to stop it.) I've gone to court. I'm really excited to hear about this.
"It's just the exploitation of vulnerable people."
The website offers more than 200 videos of women — sometimes topless — assaulting men ranging in price from $5.99 to $24.99. The site also offers custom videos, based on scenarios envisioned by the customer, starting at $600.
The St. Petersburg Police Department's intelligence unit launched an investigation last year. St. Petersburg spokesman Mike Puetz said the investigation took so long because of the time it took to determine which of the many homeless men in the videos was endangered.
"Identifying the participants in this was totally difficult," he said. "But establishing to the satisfaction of the statute that these folks were suffering from a mental disability was the issue that had to be dealt with. During the course of the investigation we did identify at least two men that fit that criteria."
Police did not identify those two men. Investigators believe that Williams recruited the two men, recorded Vargo beating them and did so at his own home.
Both Williams and Vargo were booked into the Pinellas County jail on Friday, where they were being held in lieu of $100,000 bond
All those groups are inactive and have been for a long time. This saddens me, so I want to either make a new group for UUs that will not become useless, or take over an existing on and remake it with new members. So who wants to help me with this effort?
This is an open letter to all those who profess the Islamic religion, including some that may be friends of mine.
Do you REALLY beleive in Allah, who is described throughout the Quran as ”the Merciful” as well as “Forgiving”? It seems that many of your comrades in faith do not and merely use His name to destroy people’s lives and freedom!
I have not forgotten how some of you threatened the life of Salman Rushdie in 1989 for writing his novel The Satanic Verses. Did it ever occur to you that if Allah really found what he did to be that offensive, he would have struck down Rushdie Himself? The fact that He never did is evidence to me that either Allah could not do it (why worship such a weak god?) , or that he didn’t see fit to (why do yourselves what He would not?). In short, Allah willed the act of “blasphemy”. So why not condemn Him too? Why is your faith in Allah so weak, that you deem yourselves to be more of a judge of what is worthy of death than Allah Himself? Note that the one who passed the death sentence on Rushdie with a fatwa, Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini, died soon afterwards, while Rushdie still lives today! It seems clear that it was Khomeini who was the blasphemer, not Rushdie!
Do not be so foolish as to make anyone or anything, including the religion of Islam and the deeds and words of the Prophet Muhammad, above criticism! Remember that Muhammad himself strongly criticised the Jewish and Christian religions, even while stating that their followers were “People of the Book”. Likewise, allowing criticism of Islam in public is in keeping with the verse in the Quran that declares: “There is no compulsion in religion.” (Sura 2:256). How can there be no compulsion in religion if you threaten critics of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad with death, you hypocrites!?
Islam is not superior to any other religion. If you think otherwise, then why would Allah will the existence of other faiths? Why is Christianity still the most popular religion at nearly two billion followers? Is it not possible that Muhammad intended Islam for Arabs only rather than for all the peoples of the world? Why insist on one truth for the whole world when science cannot even find the existence of Allah anywhere, let alone the dogmas of Islam?
The Quran is but a book, revealed by Muhammad. To say that it is equal to Allah himself is blasphemy, yet I always get the impression that you seem to think every word of the Quran should be beleived in and obeyed absolutely. NO! Don’t you know that the Quran was not even completely assembled until several years after the death of Muhammad? How can we be sure all of it is accurately transcribed and really from the Prophet?
I am disgusted by the practice of older Muslim men marrying girls as young as 12 and making them fall pregnant. What a violation of the girls’ dignity! Yes, I know Muhammad married a nine-year old girl. I also know that he and Aisha never had children, so it is possible that the marriage was never consummated. I'd rather beleive that than assume that he was a pedophile, as some have alledged! In any case, are you forgetting that the Prophet was a man and not to be seen as equal with Allah himself? Why assume that if Muhammad did something 1400 years ago, it must be right to do even today? Have you no minds of your own? If you are given brains by Allah and do not use them to determine truth from falsehood and morality from what is immoral, those brains are wasted and thus Allah is dishonored. If your only sources of truth and morality is Islam and the actions of Prophet Muhammad, what will you do if it is revealed to you on the Day of Judgement that Muhammad was not a Prophet at all? Honorable Skeptics like myself don’t worry about that, because we have morals that do not depend on any faith.
It is said among Muslims, “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his Prophet.” But an atheist would say, “There is no god and Muhmmad was no prophet.” If a Muslim denies Hinduism, the Baha’i Faith and atheism, why can’t the atheist and the Hindu deny Islam (the Baha’i would not; all Baha’is see Muhammad as a Prophet)?
How dare you claim Islam is Allah’s final religion! Why put any limits on the Word of Allah? Why tell him to be silent and speak no more? Isn’t that also blasphemy? I think so!
Remember what the Quran also says, in Sura 109: “Say: O disbelievers! I worship not that which ye worship; Nor worship ye that which I worship. And I shall not worship that which ye worship. Nor will ye worship that which I worship. Unto you your religion, and unto me my religion.” Follow THAT, and you will follow the example of Allah, who is Merciful.
Earlier this month, someone, appearantly from Russia, hacked into the e-mail server of the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia and stole hundreds, perhaps thousands of e-mails dating back as far as 1996, and made a file out of them on his own server in Russia. The hacker then passed those emails to global warming denialists, who then made them public. Hacking into private computer files and stealing the items within them is a crime, and thus the e-mails obtained would not be admissible in any American court of law, for that would be rewarding illegal behavior (Not even the police or the FBI could legally do such a thing without a warrant or a subpoena, let alone any private citizens.). Then denialists picked through the e-mails and cherry-picked a few out of context passages to try to “ prove” that the entire man-made global warming hypothesis (MMGWH) was a fraud.
Thus we have now seen the depths the denialists will go to attack their targets; most of them are willing to commit crimes and/or condone those crimes committed by others to advance their cause. Yet they have the gall to demand that, on the basis of the stolen e-mails, the writers of the e-mails should by charged with fraud and imprisoned. That is sheer hypocrisy.
At most, the scientists whose e-mails were stolen were guilty of “groupthink”, more willing that one might thing proper to engage in underhanded tactics to defeat their opponents for the sake of a good cause. But then again, so are promoters of most political parties. Scientists are people too, and are thus as flawed in their characters as any other. Such behavior should be condemned, but that does not automatically debunk the findings of the scientists responsible for the behavior, let alone the work of others not even associated with the CRU. It takes the actual application of the scientific method to do that.
Let’s look at what the e-mails do NOT refer to:
No references to Al Gore, let alone any communications from him.
No communications with other leaders of the Democratic Party.
No references to the chemical properties or increasing amounts of greenhouses gases.
No marching orders from agencies of the United Nations, not even the IPCC.
No plots to actually murder or injure denialists.
No references to direct measuments of temperatures.
No explicit admission by anyone that the MMGWH is a hoax.
What we do find are:
Attempts to account for uncertainties in the gathered data.
Awareness that such uncertainties generate doubt, so they discuss smoothing them over.
Bitter attacks on and attempts to discredit denialists
A threat to delete raw data rather than allow denialists access to it.
The sort of things that result from scientists (or anyone else, for that matter) under constant scutiny and attack.
Let’s assume that the research of this one institution was found to be not reliable. Well, since most of the questionable e-mails were about temperature proxies (tree rings, ice cores) referring to periods of time long ago, we could simply replicate the studies with new proxies. Denialists that hounded the climatologists for the “raw data” to support their claims could have gone into the field and gathered and analyzed their own sets of raw data instead. They never do! And I would recommend that just such a thing be done again. There are plenty of tree rings and ice cores that could be taken in the future to confirm or debunk the claims made by the climatologists of the CRU.
And the other findings, such as the known chemical properties of greenhouse gases, the fact that they are increasing in the atmosphere, the fact that deforestation and burning fossil fuels lead to such an increase, the increase in global average temperatures, and the shrinking of the Arctic ice cap, all support the MMGWH and can only be explained by it. Denialists can attempt to explain all that away, but only in defiance of the known laws of chemistry and physics. Of course, if you want to beleive that nearly ALL the scientists in the world for hundreds of years have been part of a conspiracy to promote a scam, be my guest. Just don’t expect me to take you seriously!
Introducing the self appointed hockey stick slayer:
McIntyre worked for 30 years in the mineral business, the last part of these in the hard-rock mineral exploration as an officer or director of several public mineral exploration companies. He has also been a policy analyst at both the governments of Ontario and of Canada. He was the president and founder of Northwest Exploration Company Limited and a director of its parent company, Northwest Explorations Inc. When Northwest Explorations Inc. was taken over in 1998 by CGX Resources Inc. to form the oil and gas exploration company CGX Energy Inc., McIntyre ceased being a director. McIntyre was a strategic advisor for CGX in 2000 through 2003.
Prior to 2003 he was an officer or director of several small public mineral exploration companies.
First, we see that there is a huge grey area prior to 1600, the result of there being fewer proxies available to study dating back that far. Thus the uncertainty of the measurements estimated from that period are fairly high. After 1600, more proxies are available and thus the uncertainties of the measurements are much less. Finally, after 1850, direct temperature measurements become available, so proxies are no longer needed.
I'd think if the hockey stick graph was faked, the uncertainties that appear here wouldn't even be shown. I myself have complained about that and agree that the measurements of periods prior to 1600 shouldn't have been an issue in the 2001 IPCC report, but the zealousness of scientists to "fill in the blanks" probably made that chart as long as it was. Stephen McIntyre later took advantage of that.
Here is the version I would have submitted instead to the IPCC:
Then there would have been no controversy over the appearant absence of the Medieval Warming Period on the chart, and thus nothing for McIntyre to bitch about!
There are TWO factors in global climate change that must be considered:
1. Solar Output (SO).
2. Greenhouse Gas Amounts (GGA).
So what happens when those two factors are either changed or remain the same?
1. SO same, GGA increased: Slight global warming.
2. SO same, GGA same: No global warming or cooling.
3. SO same, GGA dropping: Slight global cooling.
4. SO rising, GGA same: Slight global warming.
5. SO rising, GGA increased: HOTHOUSE EARTH!
6. SO rising, GGA dropping: Minimal temperature change.
7. SO dropping, GGA same: Slight global cooling.
8. SO dropping, GGA rising: Minimal temperature change
9. SO dropping, GGA dropping: ICE AGE EARTH!
From the 1970s to 2005, we were in situation 1. Since 2005, we are in situation 7 or 8. Which is exactly what we need, but there is no guarantee that the Sun will remain quiet.
We are still suffering some of the aftereffects of the warming we had from situation 1, and that's mainly due to the oceans being such a vast store of heat that they are now releasing. When we reach a state of thermal equilibrium with the oceans, land, atmosphere and polar caps, then the balance will be naturally established, but our continuing to produce greenhouse gases makes that equilibrium hard to determine.
I didn't write this, but I will edit it to make it less profane:
Damn you. No, I'm not joking. I'm sick of this nonsense.
I'm sick of the way you've corrupted the public discourse. The way you've made it acceptable to hurl any insult you like at public officials. The way you blame us for the current atmosphere of hatred by accusing us of starting it with hating Bush. Like Bush didn't come on the heels of eight years of your tireless efforts to destroy Clinton by any means necessary, like Bush didn't give us good reason to complain. A couple of posters on a website compared Bush to Hitler and you've used it as free license to compare Obama to Hitler 24/7 and I'm sick of your hypocrisy, where it's acceptable to say evil things about Obama that you would have had an apoplectic fit (and did) if anything remotely similar had been said about your guys. Keith Olbermann calls Cheney a fascist when he was actually using fascist tactics and you think that gives you the freedom to call Obama a fascist, socialist, Marxist constantly for no reason at all. Damn you and your false equivalency.
I'm sick of the way you've made the populace stupid. Around a fifth of your populace thinks the sun orbits the earth, over half think evolution never happened. Your populace actually believe the media has a liberal bias. Not because it has, you have the most conservative media in the free world, but because you've shouted it so loud and so often that you've brainwashed the public into believing it, like the battered wife who parrots her husband's insults. You've got a whole segment of the populace shouting about socialism and fascism and none of them know what the words mean. You've convinced them that fascism is a left-wing thing. You've got them so turned around that some of them actually believe global warming isn't happening. Damn you.
I'm sick of the way you try to destroy the whole concept of government. You've tricked the people into believing that government can't do anything right, always being careful to exclude the army because you love your bullets and bombs but you've so destroyed the public's ability to reason that they don't even think of interstate highways, the space program, the national parks program, etc. Government is always great when it's doing what you tell it and inevitably corrupt when it isn't. Damn you.
I'm sick of your rewriting of history. You've bleated so loud and long that Reagan was a great president, that the New Deal didn't work, that cutting taxes increases revenues, that you actually have the people believing this lunacy. And these are the same people who will go on to become teachers and fill their student's heads with this self-same lunacy. Reagan was a mediocre president at best who had the good fortune to be in power when the USSR collapsed under it's own weight and you bastards have turned him into the Second Coming. You've rewritten history so that everything foul and hateful and wrong can be attributed to a Democrat while everything worthwhile is a Republican's glory. Damn you.
I'm sick of your dragging the center ever further to the right. How many whackjob fringe ideas have you dragged into the mainstream? The aforementioned idea that tax cuts increase revenues, the Laffer Curve, the idea that Welfare harms the poor, the idea that there's rampant fraud in Welfare, the idea that whatever is good for corporations is good for the country. And you push these ideas through your corporate media and you do it so long and loud that they become part of the accepted political landscape and because it is easier to tell a lie than to debunk one, we never get away from this rancid nonsense. Damn you.
I'm sick of your casual criminality. Teddy Kennedy, a man who's boots you were not worthy to lick, was just buried and all I've heard from my rightist friends for days is Chappaquiddick, Chappaquiddick, Chappaquiddick. Your insane golden boy raped the Constitution, mainly because he wanted to; tortured random people (and waterboarding is torture, damn you too for denying it) essentially because he wanted to; spent like a drunken sailor, essentially because he wanted to; invaded a sovereign nation, essentially for the loot and destroyed people's lives, and you bastards are obsessed with an accident a Democrat had decades ago? You don't go on about Laura Bush killing some guy decades ago. Damn you.
I'm sick of you praising pure evil. You're letting Dick Cheney be the standard-bearer for Republicans. Dick Cheney, a man so nakedly evil that even his friends call him "Darth"; a man so callous that Lex Luthor would recoil in terror; a man who probably has dismembered hitchhikers in those man-sized safes and kills plants by his mere proximity. Damn you.
I'm sick of your attempts to tilt the playing field permanently in your favor. Democrats filibustered a few of Bush's most hateful judicial picks and you pricks started screaming about doing away with the filibuster but now you're in the minority, you're filibustering absolutely everything you can and whining when you don't get the chance. You ignored everything the Democrats had to say when you had power and now that you don't, you scream that everyone must be bipartisan. You don't budge an inch on anything but you insist that everyone must compromise to meet you. That's your idea of politics: Don't move an inch, force the other guy to come to the right to meet you and call the result a "compromise". Damn you.
I'm sick of your corporatism. You dress it up in false populism but anyone with half a brain can see that you're the brought and paid for subsidiary of big business. You keep pushing tax cuts as the answer for absolutely everything, you keep sabotaging every attempt to control the excesses of big business. You genuinely think the world would be a better place if it was a combination of Bill Gibson's dystopian vision of a corporate dominated world and Ayn Rand's deranged Objectivism, yet another entry in mankind's endless attempts to find a moral justification for naked greed. You've taken the clinically insane spewings of a woman literally to the right of Hitler (pardon my Godwins) and the 1984-like vision of a dystopian author and convinced yourselves that would be a good place to live. Big business is the enemy of the people, always has been. The ideal for the corporate class is to have a small pool of people rich enough to buy their crap and a much larger pool of people so poor and with so few options that they can be used and abused at the corporation's whim. A corporation's objective is not to look after you, it is to make ever-larger profits by any means necessary. You bastards want to reinstate slavery to the corporate class and you've made the public so stupid that they actually swallow the insanity you're serving up, they actually want to enslave themselves to the corporations that abuse them at every turn. They actually care more about the corporations right to make obscene profits than they care about their child's right to live on a habitable planet.
Before the right-wing extremists started scaring us this year with bogus claims about health care reform, they scared us in another way, by warning us about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that never were found. And before that they scared us about Communism. And before that they scared us about being disloyal to kings and emperors who they claimed ruled by God's will. Fear has always been their weapon to keep the masses in line. Fear, not hope. Hatred, not love. Arrogance, not honor. They scream about "socialism" in America this year and don't even care about the crypto-fascism we were subjected to over the previous eight years. When America felt weak and threatened after 9-11, they led us to a path that they claimed would avenge the horrible attacks, but never questioned why the attacks ever occured in the first place. To them, anything done by America must be right simply because we are by nature a good people, ignoring that even the Germans under Hitler were a basically good people who were ruled by an profoundly evil government. Might does not make right, no matter how powerful your military may be. And the older I get, the less tolerant I get about all this crap that "Conservatives", fueled by right-wing talk radio and corporate dominated media outlets like FOX News, proclaim as if it is somehow undisputed truth. No, it's not! One shudders to think if FOX News had existed at the time of the American Revolution, the Civil War, or the 1960s, and if it might have protrayed people like George Washington, Fredrick Douglass, or Martin Luther King Jr as radicals, thugs, or even traitors.
America, with its Constitution, was founded by LIBERALS, and it was Liberals who abolished slavery, who ended Jim Crow laws, and who got us out of the Great Depression and led us through World War II. And what have Conservatives done for us? Allowed corporations to ransack our economy, took credit for ending the Cold War (despite the fact that the Soviet Union fell from within instead of being defeated directly by us), and denied the ideal of church/state separation to promote a perverted and extreme brand of Christianity!
If they were merely content to demand financial restraint of our goverment and withdrawal from excessive entanglement in world affairs, I would respect their views and even support them outright when situations warrant it. But everything else they do is either self-serving (if they are corporate, military, or religious leaders) or idiotic (for their followers). And to all of them, now and forever, I have but one word.......
It seems that no matter which party is in absolute control of the American federal government, corruption and prejudice results.
Here are several ways the parties screw up the government, and with it, the American people:
RULE BY SHUTTING OUT THE OTHER PARTY - Never mind that the party out of power represents a considerable portion of the people who pay taxes just like the supporters of the party in power. And even that the party out of power has many legitimate concerns that most moderates and independent voters may share.
LET THE PRESIDENT OF THEIR OWN PARTY DO WHATEVER HE WANTS, BUT GIVE THE SHAFT TO HIM IF HE IS OF THE OPPOSING PARTY - Relates to the first point, but even more serious since the President in theory is representative of the American people as a whole. He is also Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. Thus, partisan matters shouldn't even be played so much here.
SPEND, SPEND, SPEND ON WHATEVER YOUR PARTY FAVORS - Never mind that we really need to curb spending completely to get our government out of debt!
We never needed political parties, because they are not even mentioned in the U. S. Constitution. If our Founding Fathers had thought more carefully, they might have prohibited them altogether. Maybe we still should!
In 2005, when Al Gore produced his film and the accompaning book of the same title, An Inconvienent Truth, neither he nor any of the scientists who were working on climate issues at the time could have predicted the following two events:
1. That the Sun’s activity would drop to low levels not known since the mid 20th Century.
While the latter has caused a slowdown in industrial output, the very thing that was the primary cause of global warming prior to 2005. Thus I have decided that it would be safe and prudent to put climate change on the backburner for a few years or so and concentrate on reviving our economy. Once we have made our economy strong again, and once we find solar activity rising once again, we can and MUST resume the focus on solving the global warming problem.
In the meantime, Al Gore, please find a new cause to champion. This one has run its course!
In the United States, big government and big business have ALWAYS been natural allies against the rights and dignity of the people, because corporations ARE governments, just lacking national territories. Indeed, it is entirely possible for a corporation (including a religious institution, or a military organization) to BECOME the government and in many nations of the world, that is exactly what has happened. Any time you have an organization of people ruling over others with some sort of authority, you have GOVERNMENT!
Corporations grow massively from their profits (which the people provide them) and government in turn grows from a percentage of corporate profits, as well as from individual income. Then the corporations use their economic power to appeal to the government to support them and in turn they support the government, which is exactly why libertarianism in its purity will never really work.....it is against human nature. The only way we can break the cycle of big business-big government-bigger business-bigger government is to break down both of them completely, as Karl Marx stated. But Marx's tragic mistake was to assume that somehow a "dictatorship of the proletariat" would work to right all the economic and social wrongs. He should have known that ANY government with absolute power would engage in discrimination, abuse and tyranny, and it doesn't matter what the government represents or what form it takes. The only way we can EVER have a truly just and productive society is to limit government and at the SAME TIME limit business. Restraining one while allowing the other to grow unchecked will ALWAYS lead to failure because it always has!
When you join Care2, you
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Sometimes it also happens