A HuffPo for HipHop

first_imgElliott Wilson, the former editor of XXL, the Source and others, is prepping the launch of Rap Radar, a Web site he says he’d like to see become the Huffington Post of hip-hop, a platform artists and producers can use to sound off on music, politics and culture. Wilson has a reputation for being outspoken. And given his reported tendency toward rants, when I spoke to Wilson yesterday, I found him to be surprisingly level-headed about everything, from the state of print (“If you’re a magazine, in this climate, you have to prove your value”) to the Web (“in the climate we’re in, launching this way makes the most sense”) to business (“creative people have to put their business hats on now … [the recession] is forcing all of us to grow up”) to marketing (“I’ve been doing the legwork on Facebook and Twitter”), branding (“we’ll do Rap Radar magazine, Rap Radar socks, lunch boxes, whatever”) and need for community (“Right now, the goal is to build a brand”).Once the ad-supported site is up and running, Wilson plans to invite artists and producers to post entries, Huffington Post-style. “If Jay-Z wants to express his feelings about Obama, there’s not really a forum where he can do that right now.” Whether or not he’s successful remains to be seen. (After all, if a guy like Jay-Z wanted to sound off on Obama, he could blog for the Huffington Post; if he wanted to renew his beef with Nas, he could post it on his own blog—as Kanye West has proven, if you blog enough, people will find you, wherever you are.)But he seems to have the right approach: Build your brand online first, and if there’s enough interest and a business rationale, launch a print product later.Read the full story here …last_img read more

HBOs chief the force behind Game of Thrones to step down

first_imgHBO chief executive Richard Plepler, here with Big Little Lies stars Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, oversaw HBO’s rise as an awards juggernaut.  Getty Images Richard Plepler, the longtime head of HBO who ushered the network to newfound critical and popular dominance with hits like Game of Thrones, is stepping down.  Plepler, whose departure was announced Thursday, oversaw HBO’s rise to dominate television awards ceremonies and audience ratings, most recently with blockbuster, critically praised hits like Game of Thrones. He also spearheaded HBO as one of the pioneers in TVs transition to direct-to-consumer streaming subscriptions. HBO was one of the first traditional networks to make its programming available online to people who subscribed directly with its app, rather than requiring a regular pay-TV subscription. The announcement comes the same week a court decision lifted the final question marks holding back AT&T from exerting its full control over HBO. AT&T agreed to take over HBO’s parent, Time Warner, more than two years ago in an $85 billion deal. But the Department of Justice took the companies to court, hoping to block the merger and, later, appealing to potentially unwind it. The US government lost its appeal Tuesday.”Hard as it is to think about leaving the company I love, and the people I love in it, it is the right time for me to do so,” Plepler said in a memo to employees. John Stankey, a veteran AT&T executive who was appointed to lead WarnerMedia last year (becoming Plepler’s boss), called him “one of the most successful executives in our industry.””I have been fortunate to have his support over the last months,” Stankey said in statement.  Share your voice 0 Tags Post a comment TV and Movies Digital Media Time Warner Game of Thrones HBO AT&T Netflixlast_img read more

Rape victims struggle to seek justice

first_imgProthom Alo illustration Covered in blood, a garments factory worker was brought by her friend and an auto-rickshaw driver to Mohammadpur police station in the capital on a night in March 2004. A gang-rape case was filed around 1:00am.Police seized the victim’s pyjamas, chemise, kameez and scarf, all blood-stained, as evidence of the incident.The case statement said the garments factory worker was returning home from work around 9:00pm. Two acquaintances came up, covered her mouth with their hands and dragged her to a slope on one side of the road. She was raped there by one of these men, along with two other strangers and the supervisor of a nearby building. They later left her in front of a shop.Police had detained the supervisor and accused him in the case. The two acquaintances were let off the hook as the police could not find their addresses. The other two unknown persons remained traceless.The trial has been underway at the women and children repression prevention tribunal-4 in Dhaka for 14 years. The accused supervisor has fled after being released on bail.There were 14 witnesses of the prosecution. The judge recorded the victim’s deposition in 2005. The deposition of four others, including a physician, was also recorded. But since April 2016, neither the police nor the public prosecutor (PP) could produce any witness before the court.The girl was treated at the one-stop crisis centre (OCC) of Dhaka Medical College Hospital. Later, a non-governmental organisation gave her shelter.She has been traumatised by the incident.A counsellor at the shelter centre said, for six months she didn’t talk to anyone and used to curl up in a dark corner for hours.Her family did not stand by her at that time.Senior researcher of the International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR,B) Ruchira Tabassum Naved, who has been working for around 20 years on violence against women, said, “Rape victim, women or children suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is something experienced by those who go to war or go through similar traumas.”It is very difficult for a victim to emerge from this situation on her own.“Filing a case or seeking justice is a huge task. The girl needs strong support to do something like that,” Ruchira said.In such cases family support is essential. But, the fear of disgracing the family, fear that no one would believe her, holds her back from seeking justice.Lawyer Maksuda Akhter, director, advocacy and lobby of central legal aid sub-committee of Bangladesh Mahila Parishad, said, “The fear is real.”She said, negotiations in salish (out-of court settlements) are sought first. Many on the prosecution side-police officers, physicians, and prosecutors-share a common tendency to put the blame on the woman if she files a case.In another incident, another garments worker filed a gang-rape case with Uttara police station in Dhaka in 2003. The statement said two previously acquainted men told her they had found a good job for her. They took her to a house and raped her there.Medical reports said she was recently subjected to forceful sexual intercourse while chemical tests said there was presence of “human semen” on her pyjamas.The investigation officer of the case submitted a charge sheet against the accused. He, however, also said he has come to learn from “open and confidential investigations” that both the accused had a love affair with the woman, who was abandoned by her husband. Both of them had maintained “objectionable” relations with her.The judge of the women and children repression prevention tribunal-2 in Dhaka released the accused person after 12 years of starting the trial as police and PP failed to produce any witness including the victim.According to Prothom Alo findings, out of 5502 cases filed over the incidents of rape, murder after rape and gang rape in the past 15 years, the accused were punished in only 3 per cent of the cases.The police stations which witnessed the highest numbers of rape cases were located in the areas where the number of poorer people and garments workers is high.Prothom Alo scrutinised 52 of the cases. Most of the cases were filed by low income persons, either day labourers or housemaids or garments workers.Proving rape is a very complex process. Negligence in investigations makes the case proceedings lengthy and these lengthy cases hardly see any results.The findings also revealed that support from the family members of the victims decline due to increasing litigation costs, complexities, and social pressure. This forces the victims to seek out-of-court settlements (shalish). Also, the suffering of the victims escalates in course of time as they do not have enough knowledge of the litigation process.They lose confidence in the judicial process. The atmosphere at the police stations and courts and medical centres are also devastating to the victims, show the findings.From police stations to hospitalLawyer Maksuda, who has been in the profession for 30 years, said in the beginning of a rape case, the victims face suspicion. She said, police ask the victims if they went there on their own or if they were paid.She added that the victims were even branded as professional sex workers.Maksuda also said, “They are suspected of being involved in a love affair or have had sex with consent.”Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) commissioner Asaduzzaman Mia said a female and child-friendly desk has been opened at every metropolitan police station.“Female police run the desk. The DMP women support and investigation division has female employees, too,” he added.DMP’s additional deputy commissioner (Motijheel division) Monalisa Begum said, “We are trying to remove the adverse environment at the police stations. Women-friendly officers are also required.”“Also, supervision of investigation by senior police officers must be intensive,” she observed.The physicians examine the whole body, particularly the vaginal area for signs of forceful sexual intercourse. This requires the victim’s consent. But the whole process adds to the victim’s trauma.Male physicians mostly conduct the medical tests due to lack of female forensic experts. This also discourages most of the victims, the finding added.The so-called two-finger-test, which has recently been prohibited by the High Court, has been used to examine the vaginal canal, its laxity along with the signs of injury and the condition of the hymen.Sometimes the physicians write that the girl is habituated to sexual intercourse. According to the forensic experts, the language is unscientific and irrelevant to substantiate rape incidents.A report on a raped child reads ‘old ruptures of the hymen’. Such comments are used to brand the woman or child to be of generally immoral character.There are allegations of bribery to change forensic reports.Asked about the matter, forensic expert Sohel Mahmud said he found this allegation ‘hard to believe’.Humiliation at the courtThe public prosecutors (PPs) at the tribunals say, they cannot make the witnesses, either the victim or the plaintiff, to come before the court for testimonies. This is one of the main reasons for delay in trial and lack of conviction.Tribunal-1’s PP Md Abdul Bari said, “Judges ask court officials to make phone calls to the plaintiffs. We also contact them, but they don’t receive our phone calls.”Lawyer Maksuada said, “The victims need coordinated support along with the case proceedings, which is not available.”Prothom Alo findings also show that a victim of the much-talked-about Banani hotel rape case had to come to the court for three days before she could give her testimony. She was not heard by the court on the first two dates set for recording her statement. On one such date, the Prothom Alo reporter was present at the court. He overheard many snide remarks directed towards her, even by the court officials.Prohibiting the two-finger-test, the HC asked the judicial court to ensure that the victims are not asked humiliating questions over the rape.Defence lawyers also try to prove a victim of rape immoral since, according to section 155 (a) of Evidence Act, questions can be raised about the deposition of an immoral victim.The Supreme Court advocate Shahdeen Malik said rape offence has nothing to do with whether the girl is moral or immoral.The section actually has added to the harassment of the victim, he observes.The victim has to recount before the court how she was raped. The special law of 2000 to prevent repression of women and children dictates, if the victim wants or the court decides it appropriate, then it can hold a closed-door hearing or camera trial in rape cases.Khandaker Mahbub Hossain, an experienced lawyer in criminal cases, doubts the number of petitions ever filed over this.”The PP should ensure the closed door hearing. It is the PP who must save the plaintiff from obscene questions of the defence party. And, it is the judge’s responsibility to save the victim from being humiliated.”The security of the witness is also a crucial factor in case of the defence party’s strong political liaison and wealth.Haunted by fearThe girl was 16-17 years old in 2013. She lived with her parents in Dhaka and was training in tailoring. One of her friends took her to the river Buriganga river for a boat ride one day.Three men from another boat forcefully boarded their boat and took them to a solitary char (river island). They raped her after tying up her friend. Later, seven more men raped her in turns.The girl was bleeding and injured all over. One of the rapists took her to his home. The girl told her sister everything over phone. Her sister came and admitted her to hospital. She also filed a case with Keraniganj police station alleging gang rape.The physician got rape evidence. The detailed statement the victim presented before the magistrate was horrific.The police arrested seven perpetrators. Two of them came up with a statement to the magistrate that the girl’s friend had negotiated to hand over her to them for Tk 1,500 and the girl also had consent.In this case, 10 persons including the friend were indicted. The tribunal-1 has completed recording testimonies by four witnesses. But, neither the girl nor anyone in the family showed up in court. The lawyers said they were not attending in fear of the defendants.When the Prothom Alo correspondent went to the family’s rented quarters in Dhaka, one of the relatives of the landlord said, they left the place soon after the incident. No member of the family could be traced even at her village when the correspondent went there too.’False’ caseAminul Haque Ghani, who moved as a defence lawyer in a number of such cases, says, “Most of the rape cases currently running in the court are to harass people.”The special law of 2000 to prevent repression of women and children has given right to file a counter case. But, such examples are rare.The additional DIG of CID police Sheikh Rezaul Haider said he had seen some false cases filed due to land disputes in villages.The DMP deputy commissioner Monalisa Begum added that most of the rape cases were genuine. There were exceptions in the cases connected with ‘relationships’ and ‘rape’ she added. “These cases are complicated in character.”Relationships and promises of marriageThe Women and Children Repression Prevention Act-2000 has defined rape after the section 375 of the 1860 criminal procedure code. It states that, rape involves intercourse with someone other than one’s wife, and over the age of 16, by force or by deception.Intercourse with a girl under 16 years of age is always a rape. Though, it is different in case of a wife. If she is not under 13 the penal code does not have any scope to considering this as a rape.Many of the police officers and PPs have questions on the issue of cheating. This section is used for accusations of rape on making promises of marriage.PP Abdul Bari has seen many such cases being filed long after the crime. If the woman is an adult, she claims she was picked up, bluffed that marriage was on the cards, and then raped. As a long time elapses following the incident, no evidence is found.Bari said, “It becomes evident that they lived together willingly. The defendant then says, nothing happened by force.” So the case cannot stand and settlements take place.A mother, in a case filed in 2008, complained that a youth known to their family raped her daughter who was a garments factory worker, after promising to marry her. They rented a house in Kamrangichar of the capital. The mother filed a case after the girl had conceived.The girl’s mother and brother said the girl gave birth to a baby while the case was under trial. They settled the matter with the rapist as he agreed to marry her.As per the settlement, no one went to testify before the court. But the youth left the girl once the Tribunal-2 acquitted him from the case in 2016.Now he does not even bear the child’s maintenance costs.Reality of settlementPP Abdul Bari said, he has seen the instances of acquittal in cases even though there were evidence of gang rape of a minor girl by her “lover” and his “friends”.Most of the rape victims come from impoverished families. They settle the matter outside court. In some cases, they either testify that no such incident happened or they do not even come forward to testify.Human rights lawyers said the pressure to negotiate intensifies once the trial procedure delays. The families of victims face different kinds of pressure, to which they ultimately give in.Dhaka district and session judge court public prosecutor (PP) Khandaker Abdul Mannan said practice of such settlement should be stopped by any means.The state or prosecution should strictly oversee the matter so that rape cases are not settled outside the court. Even the court should declare the witness as hostile if s/he tries to testify in favour of the accused.Settlement benefits allInvestigating some cases, Prothom Alo finds that complainants are not the only ones seeking arbitration or settlement processes. And such arrangements are lucrative for the third parties as well.Advocate Maksuda said powerful quarters like local political leaders and elected members of union council generally lobby for the accused. Police and prosecutors remain active in favour of the accused in police stations and courts. They sometimes arrange marriage between the accused and victim. They are financially benefitted from the settlement.Tribunal-5 PP Ali Asghar claimed they remain in the darkness about the settlement.“Defendants think that if we inform the PP, s/he would intervene. And the plaintiff thinks PP would ask for money if s/he knows about the matter.”He, however, agrees sometimes three parties get involved in the settlement process.“If someone is dishonest, it is solely his personal choice,” he added.Former inspector general of police Nur Muhammad says, there is no scope of denying allegations of bribery or unlawful transactions for detouring a case. And both the parties, those who take and those who give, are responsible for this. He thinks strong supervision by senior police officials could improve the situation.Lawyer Shahdeen Malik believes the state can easily hasten the process of justice. But it does not bother meting out justice for those poor women.No one cares!A 12-year-old girl was raped in 1999. She lived with her aunt in a slum in Dhaka. One day a neighbour took her to some security guards of a building. Two guards raped her on the rooftop of the house.  Then another man raped her.Police arrested four persons following the filing of a gang rape case with Gulshan police station.Tribunal-2 began the trial in 2002. But after 17 years, all the accused got acquitted as the police and PP failed to produce any witness. By the time, one accused died.What about the girl?Nobody knows as her details are not written anywhere. Her fading fingerprinted signature at the end of the case complaint remains to be the only proof that once she was there.*The report, originally published in Prothom Alo Bangla print edition, has been rewritten in English by Shameem Reza, Toriqul Islam, Nusrat Nowrin and Galib Ashraflast_img read more

Ted Cruz Leads Beto ORourke 4943 in Quinnipiac Poll

first_imgMarjorie Kamys Cotera: O’Rourke/Bob Daemmrich: CruzU.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-El Paso (left), is challenging Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.A new poll released Wednesday morning suggests a tightening race between U.S. Sen Ted Cruz and U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke.The newly released poll from Quinnipiac University gives Cruz a six point lead: 49 percent of registered Texas voters reported backing the Republican incumbent while 43 percent said they support O’Rourke, an El Paso Democrat. The poll’s margin of error is 3.5 percent. The results are closer than a poll Quinnipiac released in late May, which showed Cruz holding an 11-point lead over his opponent.“U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz has a slight, by no means overwhelming, lead,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac Poll. “Congressman Beto O’Rourke has done a good job making the race competitive. With three months until Election Day, he is clearly in contention. A Democratic victory in the Lone Star state would be a serious blow to GOP hopes of keeping their U.S. Senate majority.”The poll found 50 percent of Texas voters had a favorable view of Cruz while 42 percent had an unfavorable view. O’Rourke, on the other hand, had a 33 percent favorability rating, with 43 percent of voters not knowing enough about the congressman to form an opinion of him.Quinnipiac released its poll just hours after Texas Lyceum released polling that showed the race between Cruz and O’Rourke as in a dead heat.Texas Lyceum showed Cruz having a slim 2-point lead over O’Rourke: 41 percent to 39 percent. Nineteen percent of voters said they were undecided. Cruz’s lead in that poll fell within the 4.67 percent margin of error.“O’Rourke continues to nip at Cruz’s heels, but it’s a long way to go until Election Day,” Josh Blank, Lyceum Poll Research Director, said in a news release. “If this race looks different than the rest, that’s probably because it is because a strong Democratic challenger raising prolific sums of money and tons of earned media.”Even before it was released the Lyceum poll drew skepticism from Cruz supporters. Cruz’s pollster Chris Wilson published an article on Mediumquestioning whether it would be accurate.“Dating back to 2008 the Texas Lyceum has generously given Democrats a massive house effect boost of seven (7!!!) points,” he wrote, adding that the poll has historically overestimated the share of the Hispanic vote.With 97 days before the November general election, both polls revealed good news for Gov. Greg Abbott in his bid for re-election against former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez. The Republican incumbent — who’s sitting on a hefty war chest ahead of November — is leading his opponent by 16 percentage points with 22 percent of likely voters undecided, according to the Texas Lyceum poll. The Quinnipiac poll gave Abbott a 13 point lead over Valdez.And two other Republican statewides – Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Attorney General Ken Paxton – hold 10 point leads over their Democratic challengers Mike Coller and Justin Nelson, respectively, according to the Lyceum poll. Quinnipiac did not poll the lieutenant governor or attorney general’s races.Meanwhile, President Donald Trump is in a less comfortable position among Texas voters. Among those surveyed in the Texas Lyceum poll, 52 percent said they disapproved of the president’s job performance — including 85 percent of Democrats. Eighty-five percent of Republicans said they were satisfied with Trump. These numbers are on par with what Quinnipiac found: 46 percent of Texans said they approve of the job the president is doing, while 49 percent disapprove.In its news release, Texas Lyceum said its poll was conducted via a telephone survey of adult Texans. Respondents were randomly selected and questioned by live interviewers, pollsters said.Disclosure: Texas Lyceum has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here. Sharelast_img read more