France may have taken a big step forward with parliament’s decision to legalize gay marriage, but according to the results of a European Union survey, discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community is still widespread in Europe.
Released Friday, the online survey of more than 93,000 LGBT people in 27 EU members states and Croatia found nearly half the respondents said that in the previous year they had “felt personally discriminated against or harassed on the grounds of sexual orientation. Continue reading “No holding hands in Europe”
Billionaires with an axe to grind, now is your time, writes Andy Kroll in Le Monde. “Not since the days before a bumbling crew of would-be break-in artists set into motion the fabled Watergate scandal, leading to the first far-reaching restrictions on money in American politics, have you been so free to meddle. There is no limit to the amount of money you can give to elect your friends and allies to political office, to defeat those with whom you disagree, to shape or stunt or kill policy, and above all to influence the tone and content of political discussion in this country.
“Today, politics is a rich man’s game. Look no further than the 2012 elections and that season’s biggest donor, 79-year-old casino mogul Sheldon Adelson. He and his wife, Miriam, shocked the political class by first giving $16.5 million in an effort to make Newt Gingrich the Republican presidential nominee. Once Gingrich exited the race, the Adelsons invested more than $30 million in electing Mitt Romney. They donated millions more to support GOP candidates running for the House and Senate, to block a pro-union measure in Michigan, and tobankroll the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other conservative stalwarts (which waged their own campaigns mostly to help Republican candidates for Congress). Continue reading “The Billionaire Boy’s Club”
The graduation rates of UC students came under more scrutiny Wednesday as Gov. Jerry Brown urged administrators and faculty to prod more undergraduates to earn a degree in four years, not six, reports today’s Los Angeles Times
“Brown recently proposed giving UC and Cal State more funds if they increase their graduation rates by 10% by 2017. UC leaders have said that is an admirable but unreasonable goal and that such issues as students’ outside employment and their desire to take double majors slow them down.
“The rates have improved in recent years, partly due to higher tuition pressuring students to finish on time, officials said at a UC regents meeting in Sacramento. About 60% of UC students who enter as freshmen now graduate in four years and about 83% in six years, according to a report from UC system Provost Aimee Dorr. Those are significantly better numbers than other public research universities but worse than top private campuses, she said.
“Brown, who attended part of the regents’ meeting, expressed exasperation with Dorr’s many statistics, what he implied was her lack of solid solutions and her lecture-like presentation. “This was a good first semester,” Brown said, with a touch of anti-academic humor. “But I want to get to the second semester” for answers.
“He urged UC to stop citing the six-year rate, which is widely used by the federal government and other schools. “For me the four year is the norm,” he said. And he asked UC to examine why various UC campuses have better rates than others and why a number show improvements in some years and not in others. He said he wanted to know if that might be caused by factors within UC or “in the outside world.”
More at: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-uc-regents-20130516,0,33245.story
In a story appearing on International Day Against Homophobia (May 17), it appears the Pentagon for the first time has officially recognized transgender service members. The move is being hailed as a breakthrough by the LGBT community, reports The Daily Mail
“The acknowledgement came in the form of a letter to veteran and transgender activist Autumn Sandeen confirming that the Navy had updated its records to show she is a woman.
“While still a long way from open transgender service in the military, OutServe-SLDN, an organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender service members and their families labeled the move ‘symbolic.’
“The letter from the Navy official, dated May 2, read: ‘Per your request the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS) has been updated to show your gender as female effective April 12, 2013.’
“Sandeen’s military identification card now reflects the change.
‘The fact that a process exists [to change the gender listed] indicates that there are people in the Department of Defense who are aware of the needs of transgender retirees and who are working to see those needs met,’ OutServe-SLDN executive director Allyson Robinson told BuzzFeed.
“‘And, in that sense, the significance of this symbolic act for our broader work and for our goal of open service becomes I think a little bit more apparent.'”
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2325737/Autumn-Sandeen-Pentagon-recognizes-transgender-service-members-time-symbolic-LGBT-community.html#ixzz2TathbWnG
The average age at which U.S. retirees say they actually retired is now at 61, up from 57 in the early 1990s, reports Gallup today
“These results are from Gallup’s annual Economy and Personal Finance survey, conducted April 4-14. The average retirement age has crept up by four years over the past two decades, from 57 in 1991 to the current 61. Because most of the uptick came before the 2008 recession, this shift may reflect more than just a changing economy. It may also indicate changing norms about the value of work, the composition of the workforce, the decrease in jobs with mandatory retirement ages, and other factors.
“Whereas the average current retiree stopped working at age 61, those still working expect to work well beyond that age. The average nonretired American currently expects to retire at age 66, up from 60 in 1995.
“Currently, 37% of nonretired Americans say they expect to retire after age 65, 26% at age 65, and 26% before age 65. The most notable change over time is the increase in those expecting to work past age 65 — the 37% this year is up from 22% a decade ago and 14% in 1995. Meanwhile, the percentage of nonretirees who say they expect to retire before age 65 has declined to 26% from 49% in 1995.The percentage who say they will retire at exactly 65 has held fairly constant over the decades. Continue reading “Bop till you drop: Forget early retirement”
This is sort of depressing. Dogs have been bred for generations to favor those slavishly faithful and attention-seeking traits that make them seem so stupid. No one would dare try such a trick with cats
Dog brains, as reports the The New York Times, “have become exquisitely tuned to our own minds. Scientists are now zeroing in on some of the genes that were crucial to the rewiring of dog brains.
“Their results are fascinating, and not only because they can help us understand how dogs turned into man’s best friend. They may also teach us something about the evolution of our own brains: Some of the genes that evolved in dogs are the same ones that evolved in us.
“To trace the change in dog brains, scientists have first had to work out how dog breeds are related to one another, and how they’re all related to wolves. Ya-Ping Zhang, a geneticist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has led an international network of scientists who have compared pieces of DNA from different canines. They’ve come to the conclusion that wolves started their transformation into dogs in East Asia.
“Those early dogs then spread to other parts of the world. Many of the breeds we’re most familiar with, like German shepherds and golden retrievers, emerged only in the past few centuries.
“Meanwhile, back in China, those early dogs lingered on for thousands of years. Today, they’re known as Chinese native dogs. “The Chinese native dogs live in rural villages, helping humans to guard homes,” Dr. Zhang explained in an e-mail.”
More at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/16/science/dogs-from-fearsome-predator-to-mans-best-friend.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0
The public paid limited attention to last week’s congressional hearings on Benghazi, reports the Pew organization. “Fewer than half (44%) of Americans say they are following the hearings very or fairly closely, virtually unchanged from late January when Hillary Clinton testified. Last October, 61% said they were following the early stages of the investigation at least fairly closely.
“The national survey by the Pew Research Center, conducted May 9-12 among 1,000 adults, finds that Americans are deeply split over how both the administration and congressional Republicans are handling the situation. Four-in-ten (40%) say the Obama administration has generally been dishonest when it comes to providing information about the Benghazi attack, but 37% say they have been generally honest. And when it comes to the GOP-led investigation, 36% say Republicans have gone too far in the hearings, while 34% say they have handled them appropriately.
“Not surprisingly, these reactions divide cleanly along partisan lines. Among Republicans, 70% say the Obama administration has been dishonest and 65% say the hearings have been handled appropriately. Among Democrats, 60% say the hearings have gone too far, and 62% say the administration has been honest. Continue reading “Americans care little about Benghazi”
Brendon Ayanbadejo is correct: “Gay” does not equal “feminine.” More to the point, as the Super Bowl-winning linebacker recently told Meet the Press, “gay” does not automatically equal anything at all.
As Huffington Post puts it: “People think that gayness has something to do with femininity, when really we just need to erase that stereotype from our minds, because LGBT people come in all different types and shapes and forms,” Ayanbadejo said shortly after Jason Collins became the NBA’s first out gay player.
“Way to go, Ayanbadejo. Double high-five, in fact. We already know he is awesome, but such continued challenging of these norms and stereotypes will not only promote LGBT rights and acceptance but stands to help prevent violence against women.
“Without diminishing current victories for LGBT rights, we also need to connect them with women’s rights and the increasing number of men stepping forward as leaders and partners in ending all forms of gender-based discrimination and violence.
“For far too long, popular culture and stereotypes have associated “gayness” with femininity. Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the traits traditionally associated with “femininity.” The problem is this: Boys and men are taught to be “men,” and certainly to be good athletes, by not being “feminine.”Don’t cry like a girl. Don’t throw like a girl. Don’t be a bitch. In this way, boys and men learn that femininity is inferior. Femininity is a threat. Femininity is the enemy. Continue reading “Sports figures help stop gendered violence”
In the consultations about what will replace the millennium development goals (MDGs) when they expire in 2015, there is pressure on politicians and political commentators to come up with the next “new” idea. The Guardian today reports that:
“The lack of focus on inequality was a key limitation of the MDGs and, rightly, this has become a major priority for the post-2015 agenda. But the discussion about inequality is evolving in a way that may undermine, and even reverse, the international commitment to gender balance. There are welcome efforts to define new ways of measuring income inequality, but gender and other social inequalities are invisible within these measures (pdf). And, while greater attention is finally being paid to social inequalities, there is a worrying tendency to treat gender as justone of many inequalities that generate poverty and exclusion. There is even a proposal to replace the current gender equality goal with a general and so far undefined “inequalities” goal.
“The fundamental premise behind the demand for a standalone goal is that gender is not just one of many inequalities but the most pervasive.
“First, it places women at a disadvantage at every level of income and within every disadvantaged group, including those disadvantaged by caste, race and disability.
“Second, gender is structured into the organisation of social relations of production and reproduction of every known society, in the same way class inequalities structure capitalist societies, racial inequalities structure South Africa, and caste inequalities structure India. Continue reading “Gender and U.N. Millennium Goals”
Outside the United States, the Pentagon controls a collection of military bases unprecedented in history, reports todays Le Monde. “With U.S. troops gone from Iraq and the withdrawal from Afghanistan underway, it’s easy to forget that we probably still have about1,000 military bases in other peoples’ lands. This giant collection of bases receives remarkably little media attention, costs a fortune, and even when cost cutting is the subject du jour, it still seems to get a free ride.
“With so much money pouring into the Pentagon’s base world, the question is: Who’s benefiting?
“Some of the money clearly pays for things like salaries, health care, and other benefits for around one million military and Defense Department personnel and their families overseas. But after an extensive examination of government spending data and contracts, I estimate that the Pentagon has dispersed around $385 billion to private companies for work done outside the U.S. since late 2001, mainly in that baseworld. That’s nearly double the entire State Departmentbudget over the same period, and because Pentagon and government accountingpractices are so poor, the true total may be significantly higher. Continue reading “America’s 1,000 Plateaus”
Political Cartoonists love to portray North Korea as an irrational and infantile force, reports today’s Asia Times “It’s either a baby with a nuclear rattle or a little truant in need of a timeout. The relative youth of the country’s leader, Kim Jong-eun, encourages such representations, but the practice predates his ascension to power. According to the dictates of their profession, cartoonists must exaggerate to make their points. But these exaggerations also frequently show up in the comments of pundits and politicians, who need not resort to caricature.
“So, for instance, observers describe North Koreans as “childlike” and their leader as a “spoiled child”. Chinese leaders, according to WikiLeaks, have viewed North Korean behavior as an attempt to get the attention of the “adult”. Even top US politicians fall prey to these stereotypes. In 2009, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton accused North Korea of “acting out” like an unruly child. And President Barack Obama said during the latest crisis, “You don’t get to bang your spoon on the table and somehow you get your way.”
“As we slowly step back from the edge of the current conflict, it’s important to revisit these characterizations of North Korea as a fundamentally immature creature. There are many problems with US policy toward the country, including lack of information, a limited number of policy options, and a preference to ignore the situation in favor of other hotspots around the world.
“But we also have a metaphor problem with North Korea. We commonly treat the country as if it were a donkey that responds only to carrots or sticks and doesn’t have an independent thought inside its equine head (not even horse sense). Or we view North Korea as a criminal that breaks every agreement it signs and whose recidivism rate is off the charts.
“But the metaphor that dominates our thinking about North Korea is even more insulting. Donkeys and criminals at least make calculations based on costs and benefits. Infants are nothing but unbridled ids whose pre-lingual motivations are largely opaque to the adult world. They go on crying jags and knock cereal bowls off trays for no apparently good reason. That North Korea is often cast as the “younger brother” in its relationships with both South Korea and China means that Pyongyang is acutely sensitive to any such infantilizing metaphors.”
More at: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Korea/KOR-02-130513.html
In those first minutes, they’ll be stunned. Eyes fixed in a thousand-yard stare, nerve endings numbed. Today’s issue of Le Monde carries a story on nuclear conflict in the Middle East. “They’ll just stand there. Soon, you’ll notice that they are holding their arms out at a 45-degree angle. Your eyes will be drawn to their hands and you’ll think you mind is playing tricks. But it won’t be. Their fingers will start to resemble stalactites, seeming to melt toward the ground. And it won’t be long until the screaming begins. Shrieking. Moaning. Tens of thousands of victims at once. They’ll be standing amid a sea of shattered concrete and glass, a wasteland punctuated by the shells of buildings, orphaned walls, stairways leading nowhere.
“This could be Tehran, or what’s left of it, just after an Israeli nuclear strike.
“Iranian cities — owing to geography, climate, building construction, and population densities — are particularly vulnerable to nuclear attack, according to a new study, “Nuclear War Between Israel and Iran: Lethality Beyond the Pale,” published in the journal Conflict & Health by researchers from the University of Georgia and Harvard University. It is the first publicly released scientific assessment of what a nuclear attack in the Middle East might actually mean for people in the region. Continue reading “The Middle East nuclear option”
“Anything that goes across a boundary becomes as disorder,” says psychologist and counsellor Mohana Narayanan. He is one of several mental health professionals cited in today’s Hindu Times in a story about the newly pathologised phenomenon of excessive time online. At Worlding we are a bit skeptical about these worries.
“With Internet Addiction Disorder all set to be published in the DSM-5 this year, the need to understand what it actually is and how to combat it is only growing. It is mostly found among kids, who spend most of their time surfing the Net and playing violent games online, or chatting away to glory. Internet addiction is also common among couples, who communicate with each other using social media while, in reality, they would be sitting next to each other!
“Many of the self-confessed addicted teenagers say that the Internet provides a safety blanket for them to escape from the trials and tribulations of real life. Faceless communication, which seems far less intimidating in comparison to face-to-face conversations, helps them to be honest about situations they would otherwise push under the rug. Constant neglect and isolation from real life peers and relatives also push people to seek comfort and an emotional connect with strangers online, which seems very satisfying at first. Continue reading “The internet addiction diagnosis”
The 21st century cupcake is a thing of wonder: a modest base of sponge groaning under an indulgently thick layer of frosted sugar or buttercream.
Now Salon.com asserts that “It’s made to look like a miniature children’s birthday cake – and, indeed, birthdays are the perfect excuse to scurry down to the local boutique bakery for a big box of them. The retro charm of cupcakes helps suppress any anxieties you might have about sugar and fat. Your mother made them! Or so the advertising suggests. Perhaps your own mother didn’t actually bake cupcakes, but the cutesy pastel-colored icing implies that one bite will take you back to your childhood. This can’t possibly be junk food, can it?
“Now let’s consider another ubiquitous presence in modern life: The iPhone, which started out as a self-conscious statement of coolness but which, thanks to Apple’s marketing genius, has now become as commonplace as a set of car keys. Millions of people own iPhones, making use of hundreds of thousands of apps, whose functions range from GPS-assisted mapping to compulsively time-wasting computer games. Your iPhone does everything you could require of a mobile phone and more, so you really don’t need the upgraded model that Apple has just released … do you? Continue reading “A nation of addicts”
Hundreds of people danced the conga through the streets of Havana to the beats of drums and trumpets in a government-sponsored march against homophobia.
The Havana Times reports that “members and supporters of Cuba’s LGBT community paraded on Saturday morning along the busy 23rd Street in Havana in the now traditional anti-homophobia campaign calling for respect for diversity and rejection of sexual prejudice. Many in the crowd waved Cuban and multicolored rainbow flags.
“This is the peak visibility in the Cuban Campaign Against Homophobia, held here since 2008, always around May 17. At the start of the activity, Mariela Castro, director of the National Center for Sex Education (Cenesex), called for dialogue between the Cuban population to eradicate prejudice in families.
“This year’s parade was especially focused on the family, one of “the most vulnerable areas in the rights of LGBT people, lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people,” Castro told reporters during the parade. Castro, who is also a member of the Cuban parliament, emphasized the need to approve changes to the Family Code, including the rights of sexual orientation, gender identity and recognition to same-sex couples.The debate has been suspended for years due to the strong disputes generated in Cuban society, but Mariela remains optimistic that the parliament will take up the issue again soon, noted DPA news.
“The hardest part is the time it takes to overcome prejudice, but I think conditions are improving,” said the daughter of Cuban President Raul Castro.The march is part of the activities of the VI Cuban Campaign Against Homophobia, taking place this year from May 7-31, featuring discussions, lectures, photo exhibitions, educational activities and a sports festival.”
More at: http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=92946
President Obama on Friday called for the elimination of any gender pay gap in the federal workplace, issuing an executive order requiring a full review of pay and promotion policies, reports GovExec.com
“The federal government is the nation’s largest employer,” Obama wrote in the order. “It has a special responsibility to act as a model employer.”
“Obama called for a report from the Office of Personnel Management within 180 days to provide a “governmentwide strategy to address any gender pay gap in the federal workforce.” The proposal should include any changes that need to be made to the General Schedule to address the issue and provide guidance to agencies on how to promote transparency with starting salaries, Obama said.
“The executive order also asked each agency to review its specific policies, focusing on treatment of employees who take extended time off or work part-time in order to serve as caregivers to family. Obama requested each agency share its best practices for improving gender pay equality.
“All agencies must report to OPM within 90 days.”
More at: http://www.govexec.com/pay-benefits/2013/05/obama-asks-federal-agencies-be-model-gender-pay-equality/63114/
The nation’s largest cardiovascular health organization has a new message for Americans: Owning a dog may protect you from heart disease.
The unusual message was contained in a scientific statement published on Thursday by the American Heart Association, which convened a panel of experts to review years of data on the cardiovascular benefits of owning a pet, reports the New York times: “The group concluded that owning a dog, in particular, was “probably associated” with a reduced risk of heart disease.
“People who own dogs certainly have more reason to get outside and take walks, and studies show that most owners form such close bonds with their pets that being in their presence blunts the owners’ reactions to stress and lowers their heart rate, said Dr. Glenn N. Levine, the head of the committee that wrote the statement.
“But most of the evidence is observational, which makes it impossible to rule out the prospect that people who are healthier and more active in the first place are simply more likely to bring a dog or cat into their home. Continue reading “The dog keeps you healthy”
Might America’s current “volunteer” military service be neutralizing opposition to the nation’s war-making? An article in today’s Salon.com says that the U.S. may be lacking to will to protest its involvements abroad because of the resulting appearance of “support” for it’s antagonisms.
“Few probably recall the name Dwight Elliott Stone. But even if his name has faded from the national memory, the man remains historically significant. That’s because on June 30, 1973, the 24-year-old plumber’s apprentice became the last American forced into the armed services before the military draft expired.
“Though next month’s 40-year anniversary of the end of conscription will likely be as forgotten as Stone, it shouldn’t be. In operations across the globe, the all-volunteer military has been employed by policymakers to birth what Gen. George Casey recently called the “era of persistent conflict.” Four decades later, we therefore have an obligation to ask: How much of the public’s complicity in that epochal shift is a result of the end of the draft? Continue reading “Dissent, the draft, and today’s military”
Tenure is getting more rare in the current academic world – and at some institutions much more difficult and inequitably awarded.
This recent article from USC’s Daily Trojan tells one horrific story, but also paints a broader picture of practices at that institution.
“On April 3, Assistant Professor of International Relations Mai’a Keapuolani Davis Cross, who had traveled cross-country from her tenure track position at Colgate University to join USC in 2008, was told she would not be granted tenure.
“Her position at the university will be terminated following the current academic year. Continue reading “The anti-tenure track”