By Daniel Luzer
October 29, 2013
Since the classification of modern homosexuality in the 19th century (PDF), society’s perception and acceptance of people who have sex with others of their own gender has grown considerably. One continued argument against the widespread acceptance of individuals who belong to that group, though, has to do with its relative size.
At The Atlantic Garance Franke-Ruta wrote that Americans seem to think there are a lot more gay people in the world than there actually are. As she explained last year, “surveys show a shockingly high fraction think a quarter of the country is gay or lesbian, when the reality is that it’s probably less than 2 percent.” Anthropologists, a notably tolerant group, often consider homosexuality, due to its rarity, an aberrant behavior, like alcoholism or drug abuse, promiscuity or violence.
But new research indicates that the real prevalence of homosexuality might be a lot higher than previously thought.
The most-cited guess as to what percentage of individuals are homosexual is around 10. Some LGBTQ college groups have even named their clubs things like The 10% Society, despite the fact that, at some schools (e.g. Bob Jones University), the percentage of past and present homosexual students is likely much lower, and at some others (Sarah Lawrence or Smith) it might be a considerably higher.
That number is based on Alfred Kinsey‘s 1948 study, “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male,” in which the Indiana University researcher concluded that 10 percent of American men “were predominantly homosexual between the ages of 16 and 55.” While Kinsey also said that “males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual,” and, mixing his metaphors here, “the world is not to be divided into sheep and goats. Not all things are black nor all things white,” the 10 percent number has been repeated for more than 60 years now. (Engaging in homosexual sex between the ages of 16 and 55 is not exactly everyone’s idea of “gay”—in contemporary understanding it’s something more like the idea of being attracted to a member of one’s own sex, regardless of regular sexual interaction—but Kinsey’s estimate is the closest we’ve come to a widely-agreed-upon percentage.)
By David Edwards
Monday, November 11, 2013
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins on Monday argued that companies should have the religious freedom to deny contraception coverage for women because “that’s why the Pilgrims came here.”
Earlier this month, a the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit became the latest to rule on a mandate in President Barack Obama’s health care reform law that requires all health insurance plans to provide birth control without a co-pay.
The court ruled that company owners Francis A. Gilardi Jr. and Philip M. Gilardi should not have to provide coverage if it was against their Catholic faith.
There have been more than 40 challenges to the mandate across the country so far, and the Supreme Court was expected to rule on one case before the end of the month.
Perkins told the hosts of Fox & Friends that he expected the high court to pick up even more of those cases.
“Obviously a debate over whether the owner of a company can speak up and voice their personal beliefs versus the corporation themselves, right?” host Elisabeth Hasselbeck said, adding that the Obama administration was also trying to curtail religious expression in the armed services.
“This administration has not confined their attack on religious liberties simply to the workplace,” Perkins agreed. “It’s really started in the military. I mean, this administration, the Obama administration, I believe, all evidence would suggest, they’re on a search-and-destroy mission as it pertains to religious liberty.”
Members of Congress have introduced almost 30 separate bills to rein in NSA spying, increase transparency, or rework the secret court process that has sanctioned these programs. Two pieces of legislation, however, have momentum, and they couldn’t be more different.
The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence – the body charged with oversight of these very programs – advanced legislation introduced by its chair, Senator Dianne Feinstein (Democrat from California), last week that would entrench the current spying programs and give them explicit Congressional authorization to continue.
The legislation would make clear in no uncertain terms that communication records like phone, email, and internet data can be collected without even an ounce of suspicion, pursuant to the so-called privacy rules already in place. Being silent on other types of data like location information or financial records, it passively condones their collection too, but without even the benefit of the paltry protections in place now. For the first time in history, Congress would explicitly and intentionally authorize dragnet domestic spying programs targeting every day Americans.
The Feinstein bill also makes the current situation even worse. It gives the government a 72-hour grace period to warrantlessly spy on foreigners who enter the US, without even the attorney general approval that is currently required in emergency situations. It explicitly states that none of its provisions should be read to prevent law enforcement from digging through massive NSA databases for evidence of criminal activity. By doing so, it authorizes that specific practice in a roundabout way. Finally, it sets up the prospect of all members of Congress accessing important court orders and other information, but then undercuts this requirement by endorsing current rules and practices that have been used to prevent members of the House from reading foundational documents that could inform the votes they must make on whether to continue these programs.
The counterproposal is called the USA Freedom Act. Introduced by Rep James Sensenbrenner (a Wisconsin Republican) and Senator Patrick Leahy (a Vermont Democrat) of the powerful House and Senate Judiciary Committees, the bill has already picked up over 100 bipartisan members of Congress as cosponsors. Unlike Sen. Feinstein’s bill, the USA Freedom Act would start to rein in the NSA’s dragnet surveillance programs by banning the suspicionless collection of Americans’ phone calls. It would also amend the Patriot Act so that it could not be used for bulk collection of other forms of communications data under other abused authorities, like national security letters and pen registers.
From The Dallas Observer: http://blogs.dallasobserver.com/unfairpark/2013/11/in_a_matter_of_weeks_crude_oil.php
Almost a year ago, I drove out to the East Texas pine country, where young men and women were fastening themselves to heavy excavation equipment, enduring scalding blasts of pepper spray from chuckling local sheriff’s deputies.
Being there, you could almost believe that these kids were slowing the Keystone pipeline’s progress through Texas to its massive gulf refinery complex. Even if it were only for a few days, it felt like it amounted to something. Meanwhile, nearby tiny hamlets were banding together to safeguard their water supply against the very legitimate threat of a diluted bitumen spill. One landowner whose property was bisected by the pipeline even managed to secure a brief injunction against pipeline company TransCanada. Other landowners challenged the company’s use of eminent domain to secure right of ways through private land.
But this is Texas, a land woven with mainlines and gathering lines and distribution lines, where property rights generally take a backseat to almighty crude. They were never going to win. TransCanada just announced that the southern portion of the Keystone pipeline — stretching from the Cushing, Oklahoma, oil hub to the Texas coast — is 95 percent complete.
It will begin carrying oil to refiners in a few weeks.
The section carrying diluted bitumen from the Alberta tar sands mines to Cushing remains under review. The mines represent a huge reservoir of carbon. The State Department says the mines get developed with or without Keystone. President Barack Obama has said he would not approve it if the pipeline exacerbates “the problem of carbon pollution.” How he interprets that equation remains to be seen.