Weekend Links

5 Recent Trends That Make It Hard to Trust the Police.

China, Cuba, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam were among the nations elected to three-year seats on the United Nations’ Human Rights Council this month. It’s almost like the U.N. doesn’t want to be taken seriously.

– China’s government has announced a series of reforms aimed at improving human rights in the country, including creating yet another exemption to the one-child policy, reducing the number of crimes eligible for the death penalty, and abolishing the system of “re-education through labor” (or “Laojiao”) camps. Well, at least they’re taking steps in the right direction.

The MPAA’s updated anti-piracy guidelines for movie theaters encourage theaters to adopt a “Zero Tolerance” policy on the use of cell phones or cameras during movies. The MPAA also warns theater employees to be on the lookout for video cameras concealed in cup holders or “built into eyeglass frames”, and urges them to immediately call the police on anyone suspected of illegal activity. Okay, I refuse to believe that there is a very lucrative market for low-quality cell phone videos of the newest Hunger Games movie. Besides, with today’s ever-shortening window between theatrical and DVD releases, who in his right mind is going to risk criminal charges just because his buddy is too cheap to shell out $8 for a movie ticket and too impatient to wait for the DVD?

– While discussing her new movie Don Jon (about a guy who’s obsessed with porn), actress Scarlett Johansson tells interviewer that porn “can be productive for both men and women.” Thank you.

The number of adult film permits filed in Los Angeles County has dropped from 480 last year to only 24 so far this year (a 95% decrease). This no doubt has something to do with the passage last November of Measure B, the controversial law requiring condoms to be worn in all adult films produced in the county. I still can’t wrap my head around the idea of requiring permits for adult films. (I get why you would need–and want–a permit if you were going to shut down a busy street to film an action movie, but why would a permit be necessary to videotape, say, a pansexual Latina with a strap-on sodomizing an androgynous dwarf in her basement sex dungeon? Just sayin’.)

The Florida couple whose address Spike Lee incorrectly tweeted as George Zimmerman’s are now suing the director for $1.2 million, despite having settled last year for $10,000. As much as I disagree with the director’s politics, this is just plain ol’ extortion. (Once you’ve reached a legal settlement, you don’t get to decide a year later that you want more money. That’s not how settlements work.)

– In yet another case of HOA thuggery, a homeowner’s association in Kentucky foreclosed upon and sold a 75-year-old woman’s home because she neglected to pay six years of HOA dues. (The woman paid cash for the house and did not realize that membership in the homeowner’s association was mandatory.)

One of Justin Bieber’s bodyguards was arrested this week for assault and property damage after attacking a photographer who refused to delete photos taken of the singer cliff diving in Hawaii. The bodyguard is already receiving job offers from Alec Baldwin and Kanye West.

Saudi religious police have arrested two men for giving out “free hugs” on the street, accusing the men of “indulging in exotic practices and offending public order.” Saudis should have learned by now that if it feels good, it’s almost certainly illegal in their country. (And since when is hugging “exotic”?)

– In Morocco, a 15-year-old boy and 14-year-old girl are facing up to two years in prison on charges of “violating public decency” after they were photographed kissing outside their school in the city of Nador last month. In response, activists have staged a “Kiss-In” outside the parliament building in Rabat, while human rights organization Amnesty International has called for the charges to be dropped, labeling the teens’ prosecution “absurd.”

– And finally, self-proclaimed “psychic” Sylvia Browne has died at the age of 77. Ha! Bet she didn’t see that coming!

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