Saturday, March 26, 2011

Video Game's 'Capture the Babe' Mode Has Players Slapping Women

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By Jeremy A. Kaplan & Patrick Manning

A new videogame that requires you to abduct women and give them a "reassuring slap" if they freak out has gamers and women's rights-groups crying foul.

Brace yourself for the awfully sexist world of Duke Nukem Forever.

The game's 1996 precursor Duke Nukem 3D -- which sold 3.5 million copies, made millions for its developers and transformed the entire world of video games -- depicted women as strippers and prostitutes. The new iteration of the game, set for release this spring, takes sexism to a new level -- starting with Duke receiving implied oral sex from twins in school uniforms.

"It was offensive then and it's even more offensive now," Jamia Wilson, vice president of the Women's Media Center, told "These depictions of women are extremely harmful, especially to young women," she added.

Duke Ferris, editor-in-chief at, said sexism is an intentional part of Duke Nukem Forever. “The game is meant to objectify women -- that's the point,” he said.

Gearbox Studios bought the rights to the game last year, following 15 years of delays and disappointments that made the Duke a running joke among gamers. They described an especially controversial multiplayer mode called "Capture the Babe" in an interview with the Official Xbox Magazine.

The magazine described it as "more goofy than offensive."

"The 'Babe' will sometimes freak out while you're carrying her (somewhat understandably we'd say), at which point you have to hit a button to gently give her a reassuring slap," the magazine wrote.

The Entertainment Software Rating Board labels all video games as a guide for parents (E for Everyone, T for Teen). It described some of the sequences gamers will encounter: "A couple of missions within this level require players to recover sex toys and pictures of topless women. A few sequences strongly imply sexual acts: Two women appear to perform fellatio on the central character," reads one passage.

Our job is to provide consumers with information and guidance that helps them choose games they deem suitable for themselves and their families," Eliot Mizrachi, a spokesman for the group, told

The game will be available in stores and online, where customers must click a button stating they are 17 years of age or older -- the only barrier to children buying such a game.

The ESRB argues that its ratings effectively allow consumers to self-police: If you find that sort of thing offensive, simply don't let your kids buy the game.

"This game carries a Mature rating indicating that it’s intended for ages 17 and up, and retailers overwhelmingly enforce their store policies requiring that M-rated games not be sold to a customer under that age without a parent’s consent,” Mizrachi said.

Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford defended the Capture the Babe mode in an interview published in Xbox Magazine.

"Our goal isn't to shock people, but I think there's some stuff that'll be just a bit uncomfortable," he said. "We try to get right up to that edge and then relax enough so people don't reject it."

They may have crossed the line this time.

Following the what-were-they-thinking response shared across the gaming community, Gearbox announced Thursday yet another delay to the overdue game's release. Duke Nukem Forever, which had been slated for release May 3, is now scheduled for June 14.

The company did not say whether the delay was related to the controversy.

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WI - Green Bay sex offender home called model for other communities

Original Article


By Scott Williams

To the casual passer-by on Shawano Avenue, it looks like a typical residential duplex. But the 16 small black mailboxes tell a different story.

The former motel on Green Bay's west side houses the largest concentration of convicted offenders anywhere in Wisconsin, outside of prison.

Newly released sex offenders often go here when the city of Green Bay allows them to move into the community.

The state Department of Corrections pays a private contractor $200,000 a year to manage the operation, to help offenders transition back into society.

Largely concealed behind a white stone facade, the no-frills apartments provide the most basic of necessities: bed, bathroom, stove, sink, refrigerator, TV, couch and telephone.

The rent is $1 a day. In exchange, offenders agree to 24-hour electronic monitoring and unannounced searches as well as no visitors, computers or alcoholic beverages.

Most, but not all, are sex offenders.

As long as an offender obeys the rules, he can live there for at least 90 days and get some help while working to put his life back in order.

Break the rules, and it could mean going back to prison.

State officials say the experiment has been so successful since starting in 1994 that the unusual arrangement in Green Bay could become a model for other communities unsure of how to handle sex offenders placed in their municipalities.

"We don't like to take people out of prison and have them be homeless; that's not a recipe for success," said Roger Neveau, a state corrections field supervisor who oversees the Shawano Avenue program. "This is really unique."

No one tracks the recidivism rate of offenders who pass through the facility, but officials say at least 60 percent live there without any major incident and successfully complete the 90-day program of counseling and rehabilitation.

For most offenders, success means finding a job and a regular place to live.

"Our goal is to get them out of here," said Bridget Todd, an administrator with ATTIC Correctional Services Inc., the contractor that manages the facility.

The Madison-based nonprofit group keeps staff on site daily and overnight to enforce the rules and help offenders with job and apartment searches as well as life skills. Outside groups use a meeting room to provide drug addiction counseling and other assistance.

And, of course, state parole agents make regular visits to check on their assigned parolees.

The arrangement has proven effective in keeping a close watch on sex offenders while helping them become functioning members of the community, Todd said.

"We're seeing people become self-sufficient," she said. "They have proven that they can follow the rules."

The property, which once operated as the Bel Aire Motor Lodge Hotel, includes 12 apartments for up to 15 residents. No female offenders are allowed to live there.

Officially known as the TLP, or "transitional living program," the facility is across the street from St. Mary's Hospital Medical Center in a neighborhood that includes medical office buildings, other homes and apartments, and a public park.

Tax records show that the property is valued at $250,000 and is owned by the private Wagner Family Limited Partnership. A spokesman for the owners, Russ Roland, declined to comment about their decision to rent to the state corrections department.

Neighbors said they have not experienced any troubles with offenders living in the Shawano Avenue facility.

"It's just like a neighborhood," next-door neighbor Ken Kabacinski said.

Said Faye Petasek, another nearby resident: "We're all right with them. They've got to have a home, too, you know?"

Police records show that officers are called to the property about three times a month on average, often for minor issues such as trespassing and thefts.

Green Bay Aldermen Steven Deneys, who represents the area, said neighborhood concerns about the operation have subsided since the city enacted new sex offender restrictions in 2007.

"Nobody wants it in their neighborhood," Deneys said. But, he added, "I haven't heard too many complaints."

Under the city's restrictions, a sex offender must receive city permission to live or relocate within 2,000 feet of any school, park or other place where children gather. That covers virtually the entire community.

The city's Sex Offender Residence Board meets monthly to review applications from offenders, each of whom must appear in public before the five-member board and make the case that he does not pose a threat to the public.

Dean Gerondale, a member of the board, said more than half of newly released offenders want to live at the former motel on Shawano Avenue.

Gerondale also said board members feel assured that ATTIC Correctional Services can handle its residents, especially with the requirement that all of them accept electronic monitoring and allow their movements to be tracked.

Once an offender is ready to move out of the TLP, he must seek city approval again to relocate in Green Bay.

Gerondale said offenders are more likely to gain approval if they have successfully completed the TLP program. Offenders who have received the facility's rehabilitative services seem better prepared to return to society, he said.

"It's a place for a fresh start," he said. "We have good confidence in it."

CA - Father (Dominigos Oliveira) Accused of Murder For Hire Plot

Original Article


By Antonio Castelan

SPRING VALLEY - A Spring Valley father is behind bars for a murder for hire plot. The target - - his daughter's boyfriend.

La Mesa police say 50-year old Dominigos Oliveira somehow posted flyers at Grossmont College. The flyer reads 3-thousand dollar reward for the body of convicted sex offender.

Oliveira's 19-year old daughter is going out with one. Detectives say it seems Oliveira wanted the boyfriend taken out.

Domingos Oliveira's, neighbors and friends, know him as an entrepenuer skilled in candlemaking. La Mesa police say the 50-year old Spring Valley man was looking for the skills of a brash hit man.

Vern Howe is Oliveira's neighbor. He said, "I can't believe that he would carry that out."

Howe has called Oliveira "neighbor" for the past ten years. Friday morning La Mesa police stormed a house where Oliveira lives.

TX - Texas Legislature Considers New Sexting Bill

Original Article


Child pornography laws are aimed at protecting children. However, the phenomenon of teen 'sexting' has put legislators in a difficult position.

Child pornography laws are aimed at protecting children; by criminalizing the possession and distribution of child pornography, lawmakers aim to eliminate the harm to children when such materials are created. The penalties are steep--under Texas laws, possessing images of those under the age of 18 engaging in sexual conduct is a felony. Federal convictions result in long sentences. A child pornography conviction in any court will result in lifetime sex offender registration.

However, the phenomenon of teen 'sexting' has put legislators in a difficult position. The practice of 'sexting'--teens creating and sending sexually explicit text messages to one another--is on the rise. A 2008 study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy stated that 22 percent of teenage girls have electronically sent or posted nude or semi-nude images of themselves.

Though such acts are forbidden under existing child pornography laws, these acts often are not prosecuted even when they are discovered. Prosecutors are hesitant to press charges for these acts, given the severe penalties of conviction for these felonies--including mandatory registration as a sex offender, potentially for life.

To address this situation, Texas lawmakers have proposed new legislation that would crack down on sexting with offenses and penalties that are less severe.

Under Texas Senate Bill 407 (PDF), those under the age of 18 who are convicted of sending sexually explicit images of themselves or others under the age of 18 could face misdemeanor charges rather than felony charges. This effort to mitigate the harsh effects of law on those they were intended to protect may have unintended consequences. Will this give adults trafficking in child pornography the opportunity to use children as 'mules', to send these illicit images?

If both laws are on the books, could one prosecutor choose this sexting bill to prosecute and another use the older child pornography laws in her cases? In addition to these potential issues of the misuse of prosecutorial discretion, would other states recognize Texas' decision not to require sex offender registration, or would they require such registration if the convicted person transfers to their states? This is a significant issue in other areas regarding sex offender registration law.

Regardless of what happens with this bill, it is important to understand that teenage sexting may have serious consequences. If your child faces criminal prosecution for sexting, speak with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to discuss the options and the most effective way to mitigate any consequences.