“Foes of equality see the writing on the wall,” writes Chad Griffen, President of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) in a letter to supporters today:
“State by state, they are losing the fight for marriage equality. So they are resorting to an insidious new tactic to undermine lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights:
“Using religion as a weapon to legalize discrimination against LGBT people. Last month HRC supporters helped shut down abominable “License to Discriminate” bills in Arizona and, for now, Kansas and South Dakota. Unbelievably, the bills – thinly veiled ploys to allow discrimination against LGBT people – could have made it legal to discriminate against individuals on the grounds of “religious freedom.” If these bills had gone through as intended, private businesses in these states could have legally refused an LGBT person anything from a seat at a restaurant, to photography services for their wedding, to accounting and tax counsel – all because of who they are or who they love.Tens of thousands of HRC supporters, fair-minded business leaders and people of faith said “NO!” to these sickening anti-equality ploys because treating people differently based on who they are is discrimination. Lawmakers listened, and many of these hateful bills have stopped in their tracks – at least for now.
“But this new and dangerous form of attack on LGBT equality is just the beginning. We have concerns that efforts like these could be revived in any of the 33 states that do not protect LGBT people at the state level. Even in states like Maine, where there are state-level protections for LGBT people, we recently had to fight back efforts to carve out an exception that would have deliberately exposed LGBT people to legalized discrimination. We must be prepared to move swiftly to shut down these efforts to divide and discriminate wherever they appear. Our immediate goal is to raise $150,000 by March 31st to fight back against these efforts and continue to press forward for non-discrimination initiatives in the next 90 days. Continue reading “On state licensing of bigotry”
The thought-provoking installation “SELFMADE” (2013), currently on display at The Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin, reveals the importance of microbes in our environment. Microbiologist Christina Agapakis (US) & scent artist Sissel Tolaas (NO) teamed up to create artisanal cheese made from lactobacillus swabbed from the skin of human beings. Lactobacillus is the bacteria responsible for curdling and preserving milk and giving cheese its characteristic smell and texture. Agapakis maintains that the cheese in the exhibit is not intended for human consumption but for investigating the unique microbial environment that humans participate in daily.
Through the installation Agapakis calls into question the prevailing paradigm of good/bad bacteria and offers a more complex view of the world of microbes, both biologically and culturally. She emphasizes the paradox of the modern paradigm: “We not only live in a biological world surrounded by rich communities of microorganisms, but in a cultural world that emphasises (sic) total antisepsis.”i Noting the inconsistency between modern human habits of consumption and bacterial intolerance in the environment, she asks: “Can knowledge and tolerance of bacterial cultures in our food improve tolerance of the bacteria on our bodies?”ii
Agapakis’ use of traditional cheesemaking methods underscores the connection between microbial culture and human culture. In her Pop!Tech lecture, she explains the biological and artistic process of her installation and of creating, by accident, the famed Sardinian “maggot cheese” casu marzu. The cheese can only be consumed when its larvae are, in fact, living. While some might recoil at the idea of consuming “rotten” cheese replete with squirming insects, Agapakis argues through her example of “encountering prejudice toward the macrobiological” for an increased awareness of cheese and its relationship to culture. Cheese, she notes, is about three things: “culture,” “biological context,” and “care” or “the way that we interact with and take care of the environment around us.”iii
Her exhibit poignantly illustrates cheese as a living object. Cheese, by its very nature, can never be an aseptic environment. Each cheese is filled with living organisms that interact with and mirror its culture both physically and sociologically.
More at; http://thecheesetraveler.com/tag/science-gallery/
Primitive society was not driven by war, scientists believe.
Researchers from Abo Academy University in Finland say that violence in early human communities was driven by personal conflicts rather than large-scale battles, reports an article today posted by the BBC from a recent study. “Findings suggest that war is not an innate part of human nature, but rather a behaviour that we have adopted more recently.
“Patrik Soderberg, an author of the study, said: “This research questions the idea that war was ever-present in our ancestral past. It paints another picture where the quarrels and aggression were primarily about interpersonal motives instead of groups fighting against each other.” The research team based their findings on isolated tribes from around the world that had been studied over the last century Cut off from modern life and surviving off wild plants and animals, these groups live like the hunter gatherers of thousands of years ago.
“They are the kind of societies that don’t really rely on agriculture or domestic animals – they are primitive societies,” explained Mr Soderberg.”About 12,000 years ago, we assume all humans were living in this kind of society, and that these kind of societies made up about for about 90% of our evolutionary path.”Using the modern tribes as an analogy for earlier society, the researchers looked at cases where violent deaths had been documented. They found 148 such deaths but very few were caused by war. “Most of these incidents of lethal aggression were what we call homicides, a few were feuds and only the minority could be labelled as war,” Mr Soderberg said. Continue reading “War is not innate”
This month, President Obama unveiled a breathtakingly ambitious initiative to map the human brain, the ultimate goal of which is to understand the workings of the human mind in biological terms.
Many of the insights that have brought us to this point arose from the merger over the past 50 years of cognitive psychology, the science of mind, and neuroscience, the science of the brain, the New Yorktimes reports: “The discipline that has emerged now seeks to understand the human mind as a set of functions carried out by the brain.
“This new approach to the science of mind not only promises to offer a deeper understanding of what makes us who we are, but also opens dialogues with other areas of study — conversations that may help make science part of our common cultural experience.
“Consider what we can learn about the mind by examining how we view figurative art. In a recently published book, I tried to explore this question by focusing on portraiture, because we are now beginning to understand how our brains respond to the facial expressions and bodily postures of others. Continue reading “How the brain “sees” art”
In trying to get back on track, Yahoo is taking on one of the country’s biggest workplace issues: whether the ability to work from home, and other flexible arrangements, leads to greater productivity or inhibits innovation and collaboration, reports The New York Times. Across the country, companies like Aetna, Booz Allen Hamilton and Zappos.com are confronting these trade-offs as they compete to attract and retain the best employees.
“Bank of America, for example, which had a popular program for working remotely, decided late last year to require employees in certain roles to come back to the office. Continue reading “Yahoo says work is better at the office”
People in the richworld should become “demitarians” – eating half as much meat as usual, while stopping short of giving it up – in order to avoid severe environmental damage, scientists have urged, in the clearest picture yet of how farming practices are destroying the natural world, say today’s The Guardian
“They said the horsemeat scandal had uncovered the dark side of our lust for meat, which has fuelled a trade in undocumented livestock and mislabelled cheap ready meals. ‘There is a food chain risk,’ said Professor Mark Sutton, who coined the term demitarian and is lead author of a UN Environment Programme study published on Monday . ‘Now is a good time to talk to people about this.’
“The quest for ever cheaper meat in the past few decades – most people even in rich countries ate significantly less meat one and two generations ago – has resulted in a massive expansion of intensively farmed livestock. Continue reading “Eat less meat, the scientists now say”
A recent article published on Tea Leaf Nation, and tweeted by Tricia Wang, explains what the flesh searches are
and how they change China. SmartMods reports that “Despite their ghoulish resonance, they refer to grassroots, collaborative efforts to share and probe personal information online with the goals of romance, kinship, justice, or vindication.They are netizen initiatives to solve cases of injustice and cruelty left unbalanced by a society that is not democratic and has no rule of law, where the government officials show innefficiency, detachment, or even smugness in the face of public tragedies or social injustices.
“Which was the case of Yang Dacai, a government official, who’s grinning face while watching the burning bus that killed 36 people in August was tweeted via Sina Weibo, the China’s Tweeter. His dispassionate smile, contrasting the tragedy he was witnessing, and his expensive tastes in watches, belts, and eyeglasses that didn’t match the his meager wage as a government employee triggered the “cyber vigilatism” of the netizens (as Rebecca MacKinnon called it in her article) and prompted a flesh search. Yang was eventually dismissed from his position as chief of Shaanxi Safety Supervision Bureau. Continue reading “Human flesh searches explained”
Eugenics is the practice of interfering (often coercively) in human reproduction to encourage or discourage certain traits from being passed along to offspring.
Reports from Sweden this week indicate suspension of a 40-year old Swedish law, requiring transexuals to
divorce their spouses and undergo involuntary sterilization. Enacted in 1972, the law had been imposed by Swedish authorities on those seeking to change their legal identities following sex change surguryd
The forced sterilization of transgender men and women was officially banned on Jan. 10. After appeals were made by the European Convention on Human Rights, the law was deemed unconstitutional.
Transgender women and men who underwent sterilization procedures in order to have their new identity made official are now asking the government to provide compensation for emotional and financial damages they may have endured at the hand of the 1972 law. As reported in examiner.com, “The head of the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights (RFSL) Ulrika Westerlund commented: ‘If lawmakers take the initiative to adopt a law outlining damages, we will not file a lawsuit.’ Sterilization is not a topic to be taken lightly. Many people wrongfully assume that if someone undergoes a sex change they cannot or do not want to have children. In fact, attitudes toward parenting within the transgender community are quite diverse and continue to change as views and definitions of the concept of family itself continue to evolve and change. organization like transparentcy.org provide information and resources on the issue.
Full story at: http://www.examiner.com/article/transgender-forced-sterilization-ban-sweden-effective-jan-10
“Last May I had the pleasure of hearing Mariela Castro, daughter of current Cuban president Raúl Castro and niece of the infamous dictator Fidel Castro, speak while she was visiting on her extremely controversial trip to the United States,” writes David Duran on todays’ Huff Post. “ The following night I was fortunate enough to be granted direct access to her at a private event where I was able to hear more about her efforts to change Cuba with respect to human rights issues, particularly LGBT rights”.
“Mariela’s mother, Vilma Lucila Espín Guillois, was a revolutionary who was the head of the Federation of Cuban Women and helped change policy and the lives of women in her country. Continue reading “Cuba still leading in human rights”
In recent weeks the United Nations passed a sweeping resolution condemning extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, with specific reference to vulnerable groups, those targeted due to sexual orientation or gender identity. As Huffington Post reports today,
“This week the U.N. opened its doors to the international lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community with a panel entitled Leadership in the Fight against Homophobia, headlined by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, human rights defenders Blas Radi (Argentina), Olena Schevchenko (Ukraine), and Gift Trapence (Malawi) and celebrity guests Yvonne Chaka Chaka Continue reading “UN resolution condemns LGBT executions”
Yesterday, the White House issued the statement below on the occasion of U.N. Human rights Day. Say what you may about American government, sometimes it gets it right. This statement by UN Ambassor Susan Rice was featured in today’s JoeMyGod:
“Today, we pledge to live up to Eleanor Roosevelt’s inspirational example, for in far too many places human freedoms are still denied. As long as a family anywhere is tormented by a state-sanctioned killer; a peaceful agitator is hounded by a violent brigade; an artist is locked away for expressing what she thinks; an LGBT individual is harassed because of whom he or she loves; a community is beleaguered because of how it worships; a person with a disability is marginalized by those who ignore plain injustice; or a girl is threatened for having the audacity to pick up a book; all of our rights have been violated. Continue reading “World Human rights”
This month the United Nations declared access to contraception a basic human right. In its new State of World Population 2012 report titled “By Choice Not By Chance,” the U.N. addressed the issue of family planning and stressed the importance of making contraceptives accessible in developing countries. According to the UN, an estimated 222 million women worldwide at risk of unintended pregnancy.
The report stated that “voluntary family planning should be available to all, not just the wealthy or otherwise privileged.” That concept, of making accessible forms of contraception Continue reading “U.N. declares contraception a basic human right”
Now we can add Sandy to the list of reasons to worry: about the environment, our bad habits, other people, and where all of it may be leading. And certainly lots of recent evidence seems to suggest that we have plenty of reasons to worry. But let’s be careful here. History shows that panic and fear have a way of infecting human thought, often feeding their own destructive patterns. In a recent essay in the Los Angeles Review of Books, K.C. Cole juxtaposes two works that manifest both the alarmist end-of-days perspective and a more nuanced consideration of the human mind. The essay entitled “How to Save ourselves from Extinction (One System at a Time)” begins thus:
“No one in their right mind would deliberately create the means of their Continue reading “Writing about saving the world”