By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
JERUSALEM — A group of ultra-Orthodox men attacked a woman on Tuesday as she put up posters in an Israeli town that has become a flashpoint for tensions between religious and secular Jews, police said.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the incident occurred in Beit Shemesh, which lies 30 kilometres (18 miles) west of Jerusalem, as the woman was trying to put up posters for Israel’s national lottery.
“A woman was driving in Beit Shemesh and putting up posters for the Israeli lottery when she was surrounded by a group of ultra-Orthodox men,” Rosenfeld told AFP.
By Evgeny Morozov
Posted Monday, Jan. 23, 2012
In its early days, the Web was often imagined as a global clearinghouse—a new type of library, with the sum total of human knowledge always at our fingertips. That much has happened—but with a twist: In addition to borrowing existing items from its vast collections, we, the patrons, could also deposit our own books, pamphlets and other scribbles—with no or little quality control.
Such democratization of information-gathering—when accompanied by smart institutional and technological arrangements—has been tremendously useful, giving us Wikipedia and Twitter. But it has also spawned thousands of sites that undermine scientific consensus, overturn well-established facts, and promote conspiracy theories. Meanwhile, the move toward social search may further insulate regular visitors to such sites; discovering even more links found by their equally paranoid friends will hardly enlighten them. Is it time for some kind of a quality control system?
People who deny global warming, oppose the Darwinian account of evolution, refuse to see the causal link between HIV and AIDS, and think that 9/11 was an inside job have put the Internet to great use. Initially, the Internet helped them find and recruit like-minded individuals and promote events and petitions favorable to their causes. However, as so much of our public life has shifted online, they have branched out into manipulating search engines, editing Wikipedia entries, harassing scientists who oppose whatever pet theory they happen to believe in, and amassing digitized scraps of “evidence” that they proudly present to potential recruits.
A new article in the medical journal Vaccine sheds light on the online practices of one such group—the global anti-vaccination movement, which is a loose coalition of rogue scientists, journalists, parents, and celebrities, who think that vaccines cause disorders like autism—a claim that has been thoroughly discredited by modern science.
by Brian Tashman
January 24, 2012
On Today’s Issues, a despondent Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Tim Wildmon of the American Family Association discussed the likely passage of a bill in Washington that will legalize same-sex marriage. Citing the stories of “ex-gays,” Perkins argued that gays and lesbians will always have “an emptiness within them” and will never be content with having the right to marry, as “they are operating outside of nature and outside of God’s plan and design.” He went on to say that gay rights advocates ultimately want “the indoctrination of our kids.” Perkins has previously said that gay youth are more likely to commit suicide not as a result of “inacceptance” but because they intuitively know they are “abnormal” and even blamed “the homosexual movement” for suicides.
From On The Issues: http://www.ontheissuesmagazine.com/2012winter/2012winter_Schvey.php
by Aram A. Schvey
What’s chutzpah? Until December 2011, I would have deferred to the classic definition in Leo Rosten’s The Joys of Yiddish: chutzpah is a man who kills his parents and then throws himself on the mercy of the court as a lonely orphan. But at the end of the year, Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) introduced a bill to teach the world the real meaning of chutzpah: the “Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act of 2011.”
The bill’s sanctimonious name belies its content: the bill invokes a feminist icon while attacking women’s reproductive rights, and a civil-rights hero while requiring doctors to engage in racial profiling of their clients.
This bill would make it a crime for a doctor to perform an abortion which a patient seeks “based on” the sex or race of the fetus or parent. Representative Franks claims his intention is to protect women who belong to communities of color and immigrant communities. In light of Franks’s voting record of consistently opposing legislation to combat sex- and race-based discrimination, that’s a tough sell. But, of course, Franks isn’t really interested in eliminating sex- or race-based discrimination. Rather, he is interested in eliminating abortion — a fact that’s made even more obvious by knowing that Franks has sponsored or supported every major piece of anti-choice legislation this Congress.
Franks is cynically cloaking himself in the garb of feminism and racial equality in an effort to chip away at Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that recognized a constitutional right to abortion. The bill, for the first time, would criminalize an otherwise-legal abortion simply because of a woman’s motivation in seeking it — something that is constitutionally impermissible prior to viability. A doctor who performs a safe and otherwise legal abortion on a woman could be sued by her parents or the man who impregnated her, and could even face up to five years in jail, merely because the woman’s motivation was wrong in the eyes of the bill’s author. The clear purpose of such a vague law is to threaten providers with prison and to even further chill the access of women, and low-income women of color in particular, to a full range of reproductive services.
Continue reading at: http://www.ontheissuesmagazine.com/2012winter/2012winter_Schvey.php
If you met Hanne Blank and her partner on the street, you might have a lot of trouble classifying them. While Blank looks like a feminine woman, her partner is extremely androgynous, with little to no facial hair and a fine smooth complexion. Hanne’s partner is neither fully male, nor fully female; he was born with an unconventional set of chromosomes, XXY, that provide him with both male genitalia and feminine characteristics. As a result, Blank’s partner has been mistaken for a gay woman, a straight man, a transman — and their relationship has been classified as gay, straight and everything in between.
Blank mentions her personal story at the beginning of her provocative new history of heterosexuality, “Straight,” as a way of illustrating just how artificial our notions of “straightness” really are. In her book, Blank, a writer and historian who has written extensively about sexuality and culture, looks at the ways in which social trends and the rise of psychiatry conspired to create this new category in the late 19th and early 20th century. Along the way, she examines the changing definition of marriage, which evolved from a businesslike agreement into a romantic union centered around love, and how social Darwinist ideas shaped the divisions between gay and straight. With her eye-opening book, Blank tactfully deconstructs a facet of modern sexuality that most of us take for granted.
Salon spoke to Blank over the phone about the origins of heterosexuality, the evolution of marriage and why the rise of the “bromance” is a very good thing.
Men and woman have been having sex for as long as there have been humans. So how can we talk about there being a “history” of heterosexuality?
We can talk about there being a history of heterosexuality in the same way that we can talk about there being a history of religions. People have been praying to God for a really long time too, and yet the ways people relate to the divine have specific histories. They come from particular places, they take particular trajectories, there are particular texts, and individuals that are important in them. There are events, names, places, dates. It’s really very similar.
Continue reading at: http://www.salon.com/2012/01/22/the_invention_of_the_heterosexual/