Wednesday, February 9, 2011

California porn studios denounced by AIDS advocacy group for not requiring actors to wear condoms

Sixteen adult-film studios in California have been named in a complaint by an AIDS advocacy group that they are violating workplace safety requirements for not making actors wear condoms.
Sixteen adult-film studios in California have been named in a complaint by an AIDS advocacy group that they are violating workplace safety requirements for not making actors wear condoms.

LOS ANGELES, Aug 20 - An AIDS advocacy group filed complaints against 16 adult-film studios in California on Thursday, accusing them of violating state workplace safety rules by failing to require porn actors to wear condoms.

The complaints, submitted along with five dozen DVD copies of pornographic films produced by the companies as evidence, formally call on the state's Division of Occupational Safety and Health to conduct an inquiry.

A former porn actress joined the filing with a complaint of her own against three additional production companies.

The agency swiftly vowed to investigate the complaints.

"We take it seriously, and it will be addressed," Cal-OSHA spokesman Dean Fryer said of the situation.

The filing marks the latest effort by the Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation to safeguard adult-film performers.

The $12 billion-a-year U.S. porn movie business is largely centered in the San Fernando Valley suburbs of Los Angeles.

Last month, the foundation sued Los Angeles County, accusing public health officials there of failing to enforce laws aimed at curbing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases within the adult entertainment industry.

The suit was filed after the disclosure that a porn actress had tested positive for HIV in June, leading health officials to reveal 16 more previously unpublicized cases among adult-film performers since a 2004 outbreak that prompted tougher testing and reporting rules.

The latest complaints say the films demonstrate that they were made without performers wearing condoms, in violation of state regulations requiring workers be protected from blood-borne pathogens in the exchange of bodily fluids.

"They have a valid point here," Fyer said of the filings. "The blood-borne pathogens standard is designed to protect workers where there is risk of transmission of diseases through bodily excretions that occur as part of adult film activity."

Public health figures show that more than 2,800 sexually transmitted disease cases were diagnosed among 1,884 porn performers in Los Angeles County, many suffering multiple infections, from April 2004 to March 2008.

Porn executives insist the industry has successfully policed itself with voluntary guidelines that call for monthly testing and quarantines of actors found to be infected.

"If Los Angeles County chooses to enforce mandatory condoms, what you'll see is all adult production leave California," Vivid Entertainment founder Steve Hirsch told the Los Angeles Times 

Lindsay Lohan to be charged with necklace theft

Lindsay Lohan will be charged Wednesday with felony grand theft.
Lindsay Lohan will be charged Wednesday with felony grand theft

Los Angeles (CNN) -- Lindsay Lohan will be charged Wednesday with felony grand theft relating to a necklace allegedly taken from a Venice, California, jewelry store last month, a prosecutor said Tuesday.

Lohan, 24, will be arraigned on the charge at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Los Angeles Airport Superior Court, Deputy District Attorney John Lynch said.

The charge comes five weeks after the actress was released from court-ordered drug rehabilitation and less than three weeks before a judge said he might free her from supervised probation from a 2007 drunk driving conviction.

The actress "allegedly walked out of the store with the necklace on January 22," a statement from the district attorney's office said. "The owner reported the theft to the Los Angeles Police Department, which investigated the allegation and presented evidence to the D.A.'s office last week."

The "one of a kind necklace," which is valued at $2,500, was handed over to police just before they were to execute a search warrant to look for the jewelry in Lohan's Venice, California, apartment last week, police said.

"We vehemently deny these allegations and, if charges are filed, we will fight them in court, not in the press," Lohan lawyer Shawn Chapman Holley said Saturday.

Lohan is on supervised probation for a drunk driving conviction. The judge overseeing her case told her in October that he would send her to jail for 180 days if she violated her probation rules before her next court appearance, set for February 25.

She left the Betty Ford clinic a month ago after three months in a drug rehabilitation program. The rehab stint persuaded the judge not to send Lohan to jail for failing a drug test.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

3 teens killed in Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez; at least 2 attended school in Texas

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico - Three teenage boys were shot to death in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, and at least two of them had been high school students in Texas, authorities said Monday.

The boys were killed at a car dealership in the city across the border from El Paso, Texas, Chihuahua prosecutors' spokesman Arturo Sandoval said.

He said there were no witnesses and no leads on suspects or a motive. At least 60 bullet casings were found at the scene.

One of the boys, Carlos Mario Gonzalez Bermodez, 16, was a sophomore at Cathedral High School in El Paso, said Nick Gonzalez, the Roman Catholic brother who is the principal. Another victim, Juan Carlos Echeverri, 15, had been a freshman at the private all-boys Catholic school last year but left to study in Ciudad Juarez, Gonzalez said.

The third teenager was identified as Cesar Yalin Miramontes Jimenez, 17.

It was unclear if any of the boys were U.S. citizens. A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City said he had no immediate information on the case.

The school principal said Gonzalez Bermodez mainly lived in Ciudad Juarez and commuted each day across the border. He said 20 percent of the 485 students enrolled at Cathedral are from Ciudad Juarez.

Gonzalez said the school's sophomore class had a prayer service Monday and officials planned a rosary service for the entire school later in the week.

"It's a lot of pain, a lot of sorrow, a lot of tears, a lot of coming together as a community to try to hold each other up and to try and make sense today," Gonzalez said. "How do you make sense of this meaningless tragedy? Hopefully this can really empower us to make a positive change in the border community because their deaths will have no meaning otherwise."

Many Ciudad Juarez residents travel across the border on a daily basis for work or study. Some Mexicans live in El Paso for safety reasons and commute to Ciudad Juarez.

Ciudad Juarez city has become one of the world's most dangerous cities amid a fierce turf war between the Sinaloa and Juarez drug cartels. More than 3,000 people were killed last year in the city of 1.3 million residents.

Gonzalez said students at the school have had a number of relatives killed in the violence in Ciudad Juarez. A graduate of the school was killed last fall, he said.

"Our Juarez kids knew all three" of the teenagers killed over the weekend, he said. "It's a very tight knit community. A lot of them car pool; that's how they know each other."


Thailand seeks talks, Cambodia urges UN help to end clashes at border near 11th century temple

Cambodian soldiers walk through the famed Preah Vihear temple as they head for the frontline of the Cambodia-Thailand border in Preah Vihear province, Cambodia, Friday, Oct. 17, 2008. Cambodia's prime minister called Friday for more talks with Thailand after a deadly armed clash raised fears the two neighbors were headed for a full-scale war over a patch of disputed land along their border.

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - Thailand accused Cambodia of refusing to negotiate to resolve a border dispute that led to the fourth straight day of fierce clashes Monday, as Phnom Penh said that only U.N. peacekeepers can stop the fighting near an 11th century temple.

Cambodia says the crumbling stone temple — classified as a World Heritage site — has been heavily damaged during several bursts of artillery fire over four days. The extent of the damage could not be confirmed.

The exchange of cross-border fire is highly unusual among members of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and has raised tensions in a region known for its stability.

Preah Vihear temple — which is in northern Cambodia, several hundred feet (meters) from the border with Thailand — has fueled nationalism in both countries for decades and conflict over it has sparked sporadic, brief battles in recent years. Repeated clashes over several days like this month's have been rare, however.

A one-hour clash Monday morning stopped after both sides agreed to an unofficial cease-fire. Fighting has erupted daily since Friday, leaving at least seven dead and dozens wounded.

In 1962, the World Court determined that the Preah Vihear temple belonged to Cambodia. Thai nationalists have never accepted that ruling, and land around the temple remains in dispute.

In recent months, Thailand's embattled Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has come under intense criticism recently from ultra nationalist groups who claim he has shown weakness in his dealings with Cambodia and hasn't done enough to protect Thailand's sovereignty in the border dispute.

The fighting at the border comes as those groups stage a prolonged protest outside Abhisit's offices in Bangkok to demand he step down over the border issue and a litany of other complaints.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen reiterated a call Monday for an urgent meeting of the U.N. Security Council, warning that the fighting poses a threat to regional stability.

"We need the United Nations to send forces here and create a buffer zone to guarantee that there is no more fighting," Hun Sen said. "There is only one resolution to solve this issue: It is to ask the U.N. Security Council for an immediate intervention."

U.N. diplomats heading into a regularly scheduled Security Council briefing about the Congo on Monday said the border dispute was expected to be discussed. But there was no sign that any action would be taken.

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said that Brazil in its capacity as rotating council president will submit the issue to the council — as requested by Cambodia. He said the U.S. had "not yet decided" what its position would be.

Thailand, however, insisted that the best solution was for the two neighbors to talk themselves, and a military spokesman accused Cambodia of refusing to speak.

"We are not closing communication channels. But we are not going to be the only one trying to establish talks," Col. Sansern Kaewkamnerd told The Associated Press. "If they keep firing we have to fire back. We are not going to stop at that point and try to ask to talk."

Crowley said the U.S. had raised its concerns over the clash to senior officials of both Thailand and Cambodia and was urging both sides to exercise "maximum restraint" and take all necessary steps to reduce tensions and avoid further conflict.

Thailand is the more economically and politically powerful of the two, so it likely hopes to avoid seeking outside opinions that could force it to lose ground. Thai government spokesman Panitan Wattanayagorn ruled out foreign involvement again Monday.

Each side blames the other for instigating each day's clashes, which have shattered a series of cease-fire agreements.

Cambodian officials say a Thai artillery barrage Sunday collapsed part of "a wing" at the Preah Vihear temple, but Thai officials have dismissed that account as propaganda. The extent of damage was unknown because it remained too dangerous to approach the temple, Cambodian authorities said.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was "deeply concerned" by the fighting and urged both sides "to exercise maximum restraint," his spokesman said in a statement.

Built between the 9th and 11th centuries, Preah Vihear (pronounced pray-AH vih-HEER in Cambodia and prah WEE-hahn in Thailand) is dedicated to the Hindu diety Shiva.

It is revered partly for having one of the most stunning locations of all the temples constructed during the Khmer empire — the most famous of which is Angkor Wat. It sits atop a 1,720-foot (525-meter) cliff in the Dangrek Mountains about 150 miles (240 kilometers) north of the Cambodian capital.

At least seven people have died in the border clashes that began Friday — one civilian and one soldier from Thailand, where 25 soldiers have been wounded. Cambodia's foreign ministry said five Cambodians have been killed, including at least two soldiers, and 45 people wounded.

By SOPHENG CHEANG , Associated Press

Monday, February 7, 2011

Egypt, Tunisia suffered for being servile to US: Iran’s Khamenei

Tehran: Iran’s Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said that the main cause of the protests of the Tunisian and Egyptian nations was the humiliation they suffered due to their governments' servitude to the United States. 

Ayatollah Khamenei made the remarks at Friday prayers at the Tehran University campus, in reference to the popular protests which have recently occurred in certain Arab countries. 

During his sermon, the leader called Mubarak the "servant" of Israel and the United States. 

He told worshippers, "For 30 years, this country (Egypt) has been in the hands of someone who is not only not seeking freedom, but himself is the enemy of the quest for freedom. Not only is he not anti-Zionist, but he is the companion, colleague, confidant, and in a sense, the servant of the Zionists." 

The ex-Tunisian president Zine al Abidine Ben Ali was also linked to the US and there are reports which show he had connections with the Central Intelligence Agency, the leader added. 

However, western countries are making efforts to deflect the world's attention from the main cause of the uprisings saying they occurred due to economic problems, Khamenei stated. 

He also described the developments in the Arab world as the "echoes of the voice of the Iranian nation”. 

This is the Islamic awakening that "was always talked about at the time of the victory of the great Islamic Revolution of Iran”, he added.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

U.S. hikers to stand trial Sunday in Iran

U.S. hikers Shane Bauer, left, Sarah Shourd and Josh Fattal will be tried in Iran on Sunday for spying and trespassing. Shourd was released on bail in September and will be tried in absentia.

(CNN) -- The lawyer representing two U.S. hikers jailed in Iran has been denied a request to visit his clients on the eve of their trial, he told CNN on Saturday.

"I asked to see them before the trial, but the judge told me I couldn't," said Masoud Shafii.
The judge has granted Shafii permission to visit Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal for a few hours on Sunday prior to the start of the trial, Shafii said.

Bauer and Fattal, both 28, and Sarah Shourd, 32, were detained July 31, 2009, after they allegedly strayed across an unmarked border into Iran while hiking in Iraq's Kurdistan region. Prosecutors in Iran have charged them with spying and trespassing.

Human rights groups have condemned their arrests and their lengthy wait for a trial in Tehran's notorious Evin prison.

Last September, Iranian authorities released Shourd on bail because of a medical condition. Shourd has not responded to a court summons this week to return and stand trial on Sunday, Shafii said.

Iranian authorities said she will be tried in absentia if she doesn't appear in court.

Shafii told CNN he has reviewed his clients' case file and doesn't see any evidence of a crime.

"In my opinion, they haven't done anything wrong," Shafii said. "The accusation of spying is baseless, and if they trespassed into Iran, it wasn't their fault."

Shafii said the border area where the hikers are accused of trespassing is unmarked and anyone could unwittingly cross over into Iran.

Source: CNN NEWS

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