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SaferProducts.gov U.S. Consumer Web Site Aims to Enhance Sex Toy Safety: Scientific American

Posted: May 26th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on SaferProducts.gov U.S. Consumer Web Site Aims to Enhance Sex Toy Safety: Scientific American

Sex toy safety is finally being taken seriously by the US government. Long have these "novelty" products been relegated, rather than regulated, using "buyer beware." However, from "March 11, disgruntled sex toy users at least gained access to an empowering new outlet: a searchable public database for all kinds of products at SaferProducts.gov," Regina Nuzzo wrote.

Due to stigma, products like vibrators have been treated differently than, say, blow dryers. In some states, sex toys are considered "obscene"; their sale illegal. But with manufacturers coming under pressure from safety advocates for the dangers of ingredients like phthalates, and with their increasing ubiquity, why shouldn't toys be just as safe? "We take it for granted that our hair dryers won't send us to the emergency room and our toothbrushes won't make us go numb," Nuzzo writes.

We just hope reviews of all toy sorts will be there. Remember, leather floggers are porous, too.

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Playboy censors iPad app to pass Apple’s morality test – Telegraph

Posted: August 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Playboy censors iPad app to pass Apple’s morality test – Telegraph

Nipples. That's what's "obscene" and, according to Apple, needs to be censored in the App Store. To secure a spot in the App Store, Playboy Magazine agreed to self-censor the digital version of their magazine on the iPad, Matthew Moore reports. "The Playmate of the Month, one of the magazine’s most popular photo features, will only appear on the iPad as a tasteful headshot," he writes. In addition to Playboy, Apple has also not allowed a dictionary containing swear words or an application allowing users to replace the face of Jesus with a photo of themselves to exist in the App Store unchanged, all according to Steve Jobs' self-appointed role to define "moral responsibility" for his customers.

Gee, it almost sounds like the next step is restricting iPhone users from taking pictures of their non-orthodox weddings. Of course, anyone with an iPad can visit Playboy's website where uncensored pictures are still shown, nipples included.

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Google and Verizon Near Deal on Web Pay Tiers – NYTimes.com

Posted: August 6th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Google and Verizon Near Deal on Web Pay Tiers – NYTimes.com

When big companies and government agencies have "secret meetings," their spokespeople always say the interests of the consumer is at heart. But consumer advocate groups rightfully point out that such closed-door decision-making leaves too many stakeholders—like you and me—out of the discussions. That's what's been happening between Google and Verizon for 10 months, as they near a deal that could spell disaster for net neutrality, the sacred Internet tenet that demands all content on the network be delivered to the end-user with equal reliability. In other words: no favoritism, no censorship.

"The fate of the Internet is too large a matter to be decided by negotiations involving two companies," Gigi B. Sohn, founder of consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge, said. While business analysts say the deal "could eventually lead to higher charges for Internet users," Edward Wyatt reports, I'm far more concerned about the foothold such policies give to legislating sexual content—like us.

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Update: Friend of the show Nikolas points us to Google’s PR team who deny a deal is near approval. According to Google CEO Eric Schmidt, “I want to make sure that everybody understands what we mean about it. What we mean is that if you have one data type, like video, you don’t discriminate against one person’s video in favor of another. It’s OK to discriminate across different types…. There is general agreement with Verizon and Google on this issue. The issues of wireless versus wireline get very messy…and that’s really an FCC issue not a Google issue.”


Closed Court, Miller Time, and Joey Silvera’s Solidarity – Reason Magazine

Posted: July 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Closed Court, Miller Time, and Joey Silvera’s Solidarity – Reason Magazine

An important trial is pitting a politically outspoken pornographer, John Stagliano, against a gauntlet of questionable legal ethics. "The case against Stagliano concerns the selling of movies performed by consenting adults to entertain adult DVD viewers who have chosen to watch these films," Richard Abowitz reports. Using taxpayer money to get obscenity convictions for consensual erotic labor is bad enough, but Judge Richard Leon "is putting great effort into limiting public access to how justice is being administered in this case. […T]he strategic placement of monitors outside public sightlines reeks of the abandonment of the presumption of innocence." The case is being prosecuted with familiar anti-porn activist rhetoric. If Stagliano's relatively tame productions can earn years in prison, don't think you're safe from such anti-porn zealots.

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End of gay teen Web site sparks privacy concerns | Privacy Inc. – CNET News

Posted: July 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , , | Comments Off on End of gay teen Web site sparks privacy concerns | Privacy Inc. – CNET News

User profiles from the now-defunct XY magazine, which catered to gay teens, are at the center of a serious privacy controversy. Declan McCullagh reports, "In February 2010, XY founding editor Peter Ian Cummings filed a personal bankruptcy petition in federal court[…]. The only significant asset Cummings listed is the 'customer list, personal data, and editorial and back issue files of XY Mag and XY.com.' Cummings says he believes that giving the information to his creditors violates California privacy law and the FTC Act, which prohibits deceptive business practices."

Nevertheless, creditors want this information collected, potentially violating the privacy of up to 1 million gay or questioning teens who subscribed to XY.com. Revealing their information could out them to parents or others. While the question of what to do with a bankrupt Internet company is not new, this is the first time data as sensitive as identifiable details of GLBTQ youth is up for grabs to the highest bidder.

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Google to Add Pay to Cover a Tax for Same-Sex Benefits – NYTimes.com

Posted: July 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments Off on Google to Add Pay to Cover a Tax for Same-Sex Benefits – NYTimes.com

"On Thursday, Google is going to begin covering a cost that gay and lesbian employees must pay when their partners receive domestic partner health benefits, largely to compensate them for an extra tax that heterosexual married couples do not pay," Tara Siegel Bernard reports. Google says its own employees—they call themselves Gayglers—brought up the issue. "On average, employees with domestic partners will pay about $1,069 more a year in taxes than a married employee with the same coverage." That doesn't sound fair to many people, who see Google's move as compensating for the federal government's failure to guarantee equal socioeconomic standing for GLBT employees.

Some other companies, including Cisco, Kimpton Hotels, and the Gates Foundation already do this, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Of course, the anti-gay Christian group Focus on the Family isn't happy, saying a reverse discrimination lawsuit could be forthcoming since Google's policy excludes heterosexual couples.

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Why Do Women Leave Science And Engineering? – Forbes.com

Posted: June 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , | Comments Off on Why Do Women Leave Science And Engineering? – Forbes.com

According to Sylvia Ann Hewlett, coauthor of the report "The Athena Factor: Reversing the Brain Drain in Science, Engineering, and Technology," women leave careers in engineering and science more often than men. Professor of economics Jennifer Hunt, Ph.D., notes that "the most important driver of excess female exits from engineering is dissatisfaction over pay and promotion opportunities, a factor explaining about 60% of the gender differential in exit rates." This is concerning American policy analysts, who have noted a decline in scientific publishing.

Hunt further notes the career exit gender gap is most prominent in fields that have the highest portion of male students, i.e., engineering. She says this contributes to a culturally-induced cycle where women lack opportunities men in these fields have. "Explanations hinging on the precise nature of engineering work should be discarded," Hunt says. "Instead remedies should be applied to all fields with a high share of male workers."

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Law.com – Jury Finds Sex Bias by Novartis, Supports Punitive Damages

Posted: May 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Briefs | Tags: , , , , , | Comments Off on Law.com – Jury Finds Sex Bias by Novartis, Supports Punitive Damages

Multinational Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. was ordered to pay $3.3 million in compensatory damages after a jury of 5 women and 4 men found the company guilty of "discriminating against women in pay and promotion and on the basis of pregnancy," Mark Hamblett writes at Law.com. According to plaintiffs' lawyer, Steven Wittels, "this is the first gender bias class action in which a jury will have awarded punitive damages. [The judgment] is a resounding verdict for women all across the country, both at Novartis and elsewhere, who for too long have been underpaid and underpromoted and have suffered at the hands of male-dominated companies."

The company released a statement expressing disappointment in the verdict and "maintained the company believed plaintiffs' claims [of paying women less than similarly situated men are] unfounded." The defense team said "random or isolated acts of discrimination" only amount to "anecdotal evidence." Some 5,600 women are part of the class-action suit.

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Update: Two days after finding the company guilty of discriminating against women, a U.S. jury decided that Novartis Corp. must pay $250 million in punitive damages, Reuters reports. David Sanford, a lawyer for the women, “had argued in court on Tuesday that the jury should award between $190 million and $285 million in punitive damages, which is about 2 to 3 percent of the company’s $9.5 billion 2009 revenue.”