Germany united by nudity, divided by attitude

From BBC:   http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18021714

By Stephen Evans
12 May 2012

Citizens of the former West and East Germany share many well-established customs, including naturism. But does a relaxed attitude to naked bodies mask some division over the freedom of women?

Sex in Germany, I imagine, is much the same as sex everywhere else.

It was, as we know, invented in the 60s, probably in California, and since then the techniques involved are probably pretty universal.

But attitudes to sex and sexuality and nakedness are not. And in Germany, I have to tell you that I have been surprised.

Not least when I was in the changing room of the gym to which I go.

There I was, naked from the waist down – very naked – wrestling to get a T-shirt off my head, and the T-shirt was wrestling back.

When I finally pulled the thing off, there before me was a woman – a pretty woman – in her 20s pushing her broom at my feet.

This very real vision was the female cleaner in the male changing-room. Our eyes met. I blushed. She pushed on blithely, unconcerned.

Continue reading at:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18021714

Mitt Romney’s anti-gay bullying has a human face now

Growing up being bullied leaves a lifetime of damage.

From The Toronto Star:  http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/1177427–mitt-romney-s-anti-gay-bullying-has-a-human-face-now

By Heather Mallick
Sun May 13 2012

I love guilt. I wish people felt more of this emotion so foreign to Mitt Romney that he claims not to remember what a brute he was in school, the boy being father to the man, a Bain consultant who killed so many jobs in the ’80s that many grown men must have come home weeping to their families and never worked again.

It was 1965. The prep school was Cranbrook, in Michigan. Mitt Romney’s posse took a dislike to a younger boy who had bleached his hair and wore it draped over an eye. “He can’t look like that. That’s wrong. Just look at him!” Romney told his friends.

And so his posse attacked young John Lauber, pinning him to the ground. As Lauber cried and screamed for help, big ole’ Mitt cut Lauber’s hair off with scissors.

The act still haunts the gang of five grown men who did it. One apologized to Lauber. “It was vicious,” says another. Romney’s friend, who held Lauber down, remains appalled.

A fourth encountered Lauber (who was later expelled for a minor school infraction) at O’Hare airport in the mid-90s. “Hey, you’re John Lauber,” David Seed said. Seed, now a school principal, apologized.

Lauber said, “It was horrible.” He described his terror and told Seed, “It’s something I have thought about a lot since then.”

Lauber led a difficult, ill-paid, itinerant life. In 2004, he died of liver cancer. Romney became rich, then richer. He felt no guilt last week when confronted with his past.

Continue reading at:  http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/article/1177427–mitt-romney-s-anti-gay-bullying-has-a-human-face-now

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Easy Useless Economics

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/11/opinion/krugman-easy-useless-economics.html

By
Published: May 10, 2012

A few days ago, I read an authoritative-sounding paper in The American Economic Review, one of the leading journals in the field, arguing at length that the nation’s high unemployment rate had deep structural roots and wasn’t amenable to any quick solution. The author’s diagnosis was that the U.S. economy just wasn’t flexible enough to cope with rapid technological change. The paper was especially critical of programs like unemployment insurance, which it argued actually hurt workers because they reduced the incentive to adjust.

O.K., there’s something I didn’t tell you: The paper in question was published in June 1939. Just a few months later, World War II broke out, and the United States — though not yet at war itself — began a large military buildup, finally providing fiscal stimulus on a scale commensurate with the depth of the slump. And, in the two years after that article about the impossibility of rapid job creation was published, U.S. nonfarm employment rose 20 percent — the equivalent of creating 26 million jobs today.

So now we’re in another depression, not as bad as the last one, but bad enough. And, once again, authoritative-sounding figures insist that our problems are “structural,” that they can’t be fixed quickly. We must focus on the long run, such people say, believing that they are being responsible. But the reality is that they’re being deeply irresponsible.

What does it mean to say that we have a structural unemployment problem? The usual version involves the claim that American workers are stuck in the wrong industries or with the wrong skills. A widely cited recent article by Raghuram Rajan of the University of Chicago asserts that the problem is the need to move workers out of the “bloated” housing, finance and government sectors.

Actually, government employment per capita has been more or less flat for decades, but never mind — the main point is that contrary to what such stories suggest, job losses since the crisis began haven’t mainly been in industries that arguably got too big in the bubble years. Instead, the economy has bled jobs across the board, in just about every sector and every occupation, just as it did in the 1930s. Also, if the problem was that many workers have the wrong skills or are in the wrong place, you’d expect workers with the right skills in the right place to be getting big wage increases; in reality, there are very few winners in the work force.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/11/opinion/krugman-easy-useless-economics.html

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California set to pass a bill to ban ‘conversion therapies’

From Pink News:  http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/05/09/california-set-to-pass-a-bill-to-ban-conversion-therapies/

by
9 May 2012

In a bill that is the first of its kind, California looks set to partially ban so-called ‘conversion’ or ‘reparative’ therapy that claims to ‘wean people off’ their homosexuality.

The bill, which outlaws such therapies for minors, and requires adults to be told that counselling is ineffectual and probably dangerous, is sponsored by Senator Ted Lieu, who has said that such therapies “can be dangerous” and cause “extreme depression and guilt” which may lead to suicide.” It passed its final Senate Committee yesterday.

The National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) quickly condemned the bill as a piece of social engineering. David Pickup, speaking for NARTH, said: “Any therapist worth his salt knows that homosexual feelings commonly occur in victims as a result of abuses. I ought to know because I was one of those boys.”

The ‘conversion therapy,’ which is often dubbed the ‘ex-gay’ movement, asserts that gay and bisexual people can alter their sexuality, and ‘become’ heterosexual, though the methods advocated by groups differ. ‘Aversion therapy’, which pairs electric shock to gay porn, and ‘therapy through prayer,’ which uses religion as the basis to advocate ‘conversion’ are the most common variants.

Complete article at:  http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/05/09/california-set-to-pass-a-bill-to-ban-conversion-therapies/

Obama’s vote of confidence in gay and lesbian families

From The Guardian UK:   http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/may/11/obama-vote-confidence-gay-lesbian-families

This was a moment I’d barely dreamed of: by his leadership, the president has empowered Americans to be their inclusive best


guardian.co.uk, Friday 11 May 2012

By now, the political implications of the president’s public support for gay marriage have been analyzed from all angles by hundreds of pundits. And while, of course, there are significant political ramifications from the president’s ABC interview, I, for one, would like to focus on those who will be most affected by it: the loving gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered couples and their children who this week heard President Obama not just assert a policy position, but affirm their way of life – their very being.

That’s partly why I was so moved by the president’s announcement. He made it in the context of America’s loving LGBT families: his friends, neighbors, staff members. Obama made a human announcement, not a political one.

I came out of the closet when I was 17 years old. And I was terrified: scared of what others would think, and convinced that it would be impossible for me to live a full and fulfilling life as a gay woman. I never dreamed then that, in my lifetime, a president would give me the hope, affirmation and validation that Obama gave to millions of LGBT kids and young adults on Wednesday.

His message was implicit but clear: gay and lesbian citizens not only deserve to be treated equally, but deserve their own fair shot at the “pursuit of happiness” – to lead successful, whole and affirmed lives. And in doing so, I am convinced that the president saved lives.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2012/may/11/obama-vote-confidence-gay-lesbian-families

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BREAKING: Senate committee agrees to hold hearing on ENDA

From The Washington Blade:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2012/05/10/breaking-senate-committee-agrees-to-hold-hearing-on-enda/

By Chris Johnson
May 10, 2012

A Senate committee has agreed to hold a hearing on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act following calls from advocates and senators for lawmakers to hear testimony on LGBT workplace discrimination.

In a statement Thursday, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee, announced he intends to hold a hearing on ENDA on June 12.

“Every American deserves an equal opportunity to earn a good living, judged by their talent, ability and qualifications free from discrimination,” Harkin said. “Workplace discrimination based on an employee’s sexual orientation or gender identity is reprehensible and has no place in our nation.”

Harkin continued, “This upcoming HELP Committee hearing will provide an excellent opportunity to build on the Committee’s previous work and help advance our shared goal of equal rights for all Americans. I am hopeful that working together, we will reach a point where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons enjoy the same rights and protections, and full equality, as all our fellow Americans.”

According to the statement, further details about the hearing will made be public at a later time. Justine Sessions, a HELP committee spokesperson, said she doesn’t have information yet on witnesses.

Continue reading at:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2012/05/10/breaking-senate-committee-agrees-to-hold-hearing-on-enda/

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Catholic bishops investigate the Girl Scouts

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/05/11/catholic-bishops-investigate-the-girl-scouts/

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, May 11, 2012

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has opened an official inquiry into the Girl Scouts to determine if troops may continue meeting at local community churches, according to a report published Friday.

The bishops are investigating the scouts to determine whether they promote contraception and abortion, The Associated Press claimed.

A letter sent by Bishop Kevin Rhoades, who chairs the committee leading the investigation, reportedly noted some “problematic relationships” with other groups like Doctors Without Borders or Oxfam.

Some conservatives have of late taken to attacking the Girl Scouts for ‘sexualizing’ young women and promoting a liberal reproductive health agenda. Even though Fox News jumped on that bandwagon, the line of attack has not been a popular one.

The scouts say that’s not true, however.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/05/11/catholic-bishops-investigate-the-girl-scouts/