The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 40.0°F | A Few Clouds and Breezy
Article Tools

Los Angeles mandates condoms in sex films

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles City Council approved a mandate Tuesday requiring all actors in pornographic films to wear condoms during any filming that takes place within city limits. The law is the first of its kind, advocates said, and could have a significant impact on what some say is a $1 billion industry.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation has pressed for such legislation for years and last year secured nearly double the number of signatures needed to place the issue on the ballot in June, when the state is scheduled to hold its presidential primary.

But the ballot initiative would have cost the already strapped city roughly $4 million. Several council members suggested that voters were likely to approve the measure by a large margin anyway and that the Council should simply save the money by approving it. The Council did that Tuesday, without debate, in a 9-1 vote.

The new mandate will allow the Los Angeles Police Department to perform spot checks on any set once a film permit is issued. A group of officials from the Police Department, the state’s workplace safety agency and the city attorney’s office will make recommendations on how to implement the policy, which goes into effect in 90 days.

—Jennifer Medina, The New York Times

For some Internet startups, a failure is just the beginning

Every entrepreneur hopes to start the next big thing. But sometimes the first try doesn’t go as planned.

Bradford Shellhammer remembers the exact moment he realized his fledgling Web startup, Fabulis, a review site and social network geared toward gay men, was a flop. Last November, he and Jason Goldberg, one of his co-founders, flew to London, expecting to hold a festive party for their users there. Instead they found themselves among a sparse crowd at a tacky club in Soho.

“No one showed up!” said Shellhammer, burying his face in his hands at the memory. “It was so awful. We were just like, ‘what are we doing?’”

After that disaster, Shellhammer and Goldberg laid off more than half of their employees, threw out the code they had written, and changed course. Six months later, they introduced a high-end e-commerce site called Fab.com.

Theirs is just one example of a startup that decided to cut its losses and pivot — choosing an entirely new direction in the hopes of transforming a dud of a business into one that might have a shot at success.

To pivot is, essentially, to fail gracefully. While the term has been in the startup lexicon for decades, it is coming up more often in the current Internet boom, as entrepreneurs find that many investors are willing to keep the money flowing even if a startup takes a hard left turn.

—Jenna Wortham, The New York Times

Struggling Egypt seeks $3.2 billion loan from IMF

CAIRO — Egypt’s military rulers asked the International Monetary Fund on Monday for a $3.2 billion loan that they had previously rejected, bowing to the realities of a worsening economy nearly a year after the exit of the strongman Hosni Mubarak.

Egyptian officials said they might ask for even more. “It may increase,” Fayza Abul Naga, minister of planning and international cooperation, said at a news conference with a visiting delegation from the fund.

The loan request to the International Monetary Fund was essentially the same as the package that Egyptian officials had negotiated last spring, people familiar with the terms said. At the time, the military-led government had abruptly decided that debts to the IMF could impose conditions that the military rulers considered an infringement on Egyptian sovereignty.

Since then, however, Egypt’s economy has continued to suffer from the collapse of tourism and foreign investment amid the unrest and uncertainty of the military-led transition after the ouster of Mubarak in February.

—David D. Kirkpatrick, The New York Times

European court overrules
Britain on terrorism detainee

LONDON — The European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday that Abu Qatada, a radical Islamic preacher regarded as one of al-Qaida’s main inspirational leaders in Europe, cannot be deported from Britain to his native Jordan because his trial there would be tainted by evidence obtained by torture.

The preacher, whose real name is Omar Mahmoud Mohammed Othman, is in prison in Britain and has been convicted in his absence in Jordan of planning two bombing attacks. The British government had insisted that he be returned to Jordan as part of a wider strategy of dealing with international terrorism suspects by deportation.

Although it accepted Jordan’s assurances that Othman would be treated humanely, the European court in Strasbourg, France, said in its ruling that evidence against Othman in the Jordan bombings “had been obtained by torturing one of his co-defendants.” Deporting him would “legitimize the torture of witnesses and suspects,” it said, and “result in a flagrant denial of justice.”

The court’s decision can be appealed within three months, but if upheld, it would require that Othman be released or be charged in Britain.

The decision also emerged as the latest in a long line of disagreements between Britain and authorities in Europe that have taken on a particularly bitter character as Prime Minister David Cameron has clashed with his counterparts in France and Germany over the financial crisis in the eurozone.

It provoked right-leaning politicians and pundits, who railed Tuesday against what they described as yet another imposition of European restrictions on British life. The Conservative Party lawmaker Dominic Raab told reporters that the court had run “roughshod over decisions that should be determined by U.K. courts.”

—Ravi Somaiya and John Burns, The New York Times