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GOPer Cooks Up Alternative Name for Same-Sex Marriage to Avoid Confronting Reality

October 10, 2014 in Blogs

By David Ferguson, Raw Story

A Utah lawmaker suggested that same-sex marriages be called something else keep them distinct from heterosexual marriages.

A Utah Republican state lawmaker suggested this week that same-sex marriages in the state be known as “pairages” to keep them separate and distinct from heterosexual marriages.

According to the Salt Lake City Tribune, the alternate wording was just one of the measures in a bill sponsored by state Rep. Kraig Powell (R) designed to throw obstacles in the path of statewide marriage equality.

Conservatives nationwide are scrambling to fight same-sex marriage on the state level after Monday’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court not to take on a number of marriage equality cases. By deciding to let lower-court rulings stand, the Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in a number of states, including Utah.

Powell filed his bill within hours of the Court’s decision. The Heber City Republican said that a uniform set of state laws regarding same-sex marriage could take years to finalize.

For instance, he said, “Utah code doesn’t have a chapter heading called ‘Marriage.’ It is actually titled ‘Husband and Wife,’ and all the statutes on marriage refer to ‘husband and wife.’ So we have a lot of work to revise statutes, and have many details to decide.”

The Court’s decision, Powell said, “kick[ed] the ball back to state legislatures” to define marriage, which could lead, he said, “to what can be many years of tinkering with marriage laws.”

Democratic state Sen. Jim Debakis — who is gay and married — warned that state lawmakers should not take the Court’s decision as a mandate to undermine the rights of same-sex couples at the state level.

“Anyone who is saying we can twist the wording of state law into anything other than full complete equal marriage is going to be in for serious disappointment,” he said.

“Nitpicking is not going to be successful,” he said. “Clearly there is a number of issues that need to be worked out. But there is a framework there, and the framework is for equality.”

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There Is a Social Network That Allows Strangers to Control Each Other’s Sex Toys From Afar

October 10, 2014 in Blogs

By Jenny Kutner, Salon

LovePalz Club is cybersex for the Tinder age: a little creepy, but just what the people want.

Recently, I was given the opportunity to try the We-Vibe 4 Plus, a teledildonic vibrator that connects with both a remote control and a mobile app to allow a partner to control the toy’s vibration patterns. The manufacturers tout the We-Vibe’s benefits for long-distance couples that might want to foster some intimacy with the help of a Bluetooth connection, just like other sex toy companies selling similar products. I can’t say I’ve used  the toy for that purpose, but I can say this: When I opened the box, I set the vibrator on my coffee table and went in my room to try the app. It worked, and my mind was blown.

Maybe I’m alone in this, but I find cybersex’s leap from the AOL chatrooms of my youth to the camera-tipped vibrators and Bluetooth enabled sex toys of today pretty astounding. But there is one new development, I think, that embodies near-perfectly just how far cybersex has come (pun intended,, I guess): LovePalz Club, a Taiwanese social network that allows complete strangers around the world to control each other’s sex toys from afar. It works like Tinder, except without the same potential for IRL intercourse.

“We expect all kinds of users,” LovePalz spokesperson Viv Lu told the Daily Dot. “LovePalz Club is a platform for people who get tired of old-fashioned social networks and [are] looking for stimulation.”

And stimulation the app provides, in conjunction with the company’s teledildonic toy, Twist. The toy comes in two different styles — one for women and one for men — and has vibration speeds and patterns that can be controlled online. LovePalz users can flip through photos of other users anonymously until they’ve found a match, and can then decide whether or not they’d like to engage. The app does allow for texting and video calls, but solo play with a Twist device is strongly encouraged.

So… what does this mean? First of all, as Betabeat notes, it could mean fewer real-life hookups or one-night-stands, which isn’t the …read more


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Bob Herbert Tells Bill Moyers How Corporations and the Big Banks Have Hijacked the Country

October 10, 2014 in Blogs

By Bill Moyers,

The former New York Times columnist says we need to start voting against the excessive power of the great moneyed interests.

Three years ago, reporter and former New York Times columnist Bob Herbert took to the road and traveled across the United States to gather research for his new book, Losing Our Way. In it, Herbert tells the stories of the brave, hard-working men and women he met who have been battered by the economic downturn. He found an America in which jobs have disappeared, infrastructure is falling apart and the “virtuous cycle” of well-paid workers spending their wages to power the economy has been broken by greed and the gap between the very rich and everyone else.

He tells Bill: “[W]e’ve established a power structure in which the great corporations and the big banks have allied themselves with the national government and, in many cases, local government to pursue corporate interests and financial interests as opposed to those things that would be in the best interests of ordinary working people… Once you do that, you lose the dynamic that America is supposed to be. It’s supposed to be an egalitarian society, a society of rising standards of living, a society of a vast and thriving middle class. And we are getting farther and farther away from that ideal.”

As for solutions, Herbert says, “People need to start voting against the excessive power of the great moneyed interests. But more than that, we need a movement, a grass-roots movement that will fight for the interests of ordinary men and women…”

Herbert is a senior distinguished fellow at the public policy and analysis think tank, Demos. He is also a board member of the Schumann Media Center, from which he is presently on leave working on a major documentary.

Read the full transcript below:

BILL MOYERS: Welcome. I’ll wager that in the first seven pages of this book, “Losing Our Way,” you will be hooked. And when you close the …read more


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America’s 400 Ridiculously Richest People: 2014 Edition

October 10, 2014 in Blogs

By Sam Pizzigati, Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and Inequality

The new numbers on these grand fortunes don’t just stagger the imagination. They stagger common sense.

Imagine yourself part of the typical American family. Your household would have, the Federal Reserve reported last month, a net worth of $81,200.

Not much. But 50 percent of America’s households would actually have less wealth than you do. The other half would have more.

Now imagine that your net worth suddenly quadrupled to about $325,000. That sum would place you within the ranks of America’s most affluent 20 percent of income earners. You would be “typical” no more. On the other hand, you still wouldn’t be rich, or even close to grand fortune.

So suppose we quadrupled your wealth still again, enough to get your net worth — your assets minus your debts — all the way up to $1.3 million.

Congratulations. You now hold 16 times more wealth than the typical American. You probably have paid off your mortgage. You have a healthy balance in your 401(k). You have investment income. You have it made.

But not really. You still have to worry financially, about everything from losing your job to helping your kids with their college tuition.

So let’s quadruple your net worth once again — to $5.2 million.

You now sit comfortably within the ranks of America’s richest 1 percent. You can afford, well, just about anything you want. A getaway in the mountains, another getaway on the shore. Two beamers in the driveway. Impressive philanthropic gestures. Direct access to your U.S. senators.

Enough already? Actually, no. With a fortune of just $5.2 million, you still have to put up with the inconveniences of mere mortal existence. Yes, you can fly first class anywhere you want. But you have to fly with the great unwashed back in coach — and they take forever getting their carry-ons up in those overhead bins.

You need relief. We’re going to give it to you. We’re going to multiply your $5.2 million fortune 1,000 times over — to $5.2 billion. Now you can buy your own private jet.

Even better, now you get your name printed in the annual Forbes magazine list of America’s 400 richest. At $5.2 billion, …read more


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5 Lies About Marijuana That Won't Die Easy

October 10, 2014 in Blogs

By Owen Poindexter, AlterNet

We must shred the myths that underwrite prohibition.

With the evidence against cannabis legalization failing again and again to materialize, opponents to reform are left to amplify whatever negatives they can find well beyond what the evidence will support. A 20 year study by Dr. Wayne Hall on the effects of marijuana came out on October 6 in the journal Addiction, and it largely confirms past research on the side effects of getting high. Certain alarmist mainstream publications took this as an opportunity to decry the dangers of weed, despite nicotine and alcohol’s greater danger being more obvious than ever.

Though there is new research to work with, the claims we hear from people with an anti-cannabis agenda are the same ones that get dredged up every time someone needs to make the case against legalization. As always, the only way to make a case against full legalization is to claim that pot’s largely innocuous side effects are some kind of scourge on society.

Here are five recent media lies about marijuana:

1. Pot is addictive. In drugs with high rates of addiction, such as nicotine, cocaine and alcohol, we can see a clear pattern of abuse. The drug hijacks the brain’s reward system, so that a smoke, line, drink, etc. is treated with the same urgency and necessity as food and sex. On the behavioral level, there are clear signs of dependency and withdrawal. Marijuana opponents have spent decades trying to show analogous patterns in pot smokers, but the results simply aren’t there. The closest they can get is to show that some people have difficulty quitting, and show signs of anxiety, difficulty sleeping, and other disturbances when they try to quit, as was demonstrated in the Hall study. That does show a non-zero level of dependency in a minority of users, but even in these cases, marijuana has nowhere near the capacity to ruin or end lives the way alcohol and heroin can, and is less addictive than tobacco or even caffeine. As an earlier AlterNet article points out, “9 percent of people who use …read more


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Are You 'Too Hot to Hire'? The Surprising Tactic Attractive Women Should Use to Get Jobs

October 10, 2014 in Blogs

By April M. Short, AlterNet

What to do if an employer is discriminating against your appearance.

It may be hard to summon up much sympathy for the beautiful woman. She tends to have better self confidence, higher income than the rest of us, better social skills—not to mention her likely ease in attracting romantic partners. But, when it comes to job searches, it turns out pretty women have a harder time than most getting hired if the job they are applying for is considered traditionally masculine.

As a recent piece in Pacific Standard pointed out, this is called the “beauty is beastly” effect and was discovered 30 years ago. At the time researchers “didn’t exactly scramble to find solutions for this not-so-oppressed minority,” as Pacific Standard points out. But a recent study soon-to-be-published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes provides some tips to help all those sexy job-seekers out there to ward off discrimination.

Apparently it helps to acknowledge your attractiveness during a job interview. It’s probably best not to fling an egotistical “I know I’m pretty,” at your prospective employer, though. Rather, the study provides some templates for acknowledging the stereotypes that might be influencing employers' decisions. As Pacific Standard writes:

In the first study, undergraduate students rated ‘employment suitability’ of four different candidates for a construction job, one of whom was a woman, based on a photo and interview transcript. Some saw the photo of a beautiful woman, while others saw one of a not-so-beautiful woman. In the interview transcript, the woman said ‘I know that I don’t look like our typical construction worker,’ ‘I know that there are not a lot of women in this industry,’ or neither. In the control condition, where the women did not acknowledge any stereotypes, the unattractive woman was rated as more suitable for the job than the beautiful woman. However, the attractive woman received significantly higher ratings if she acknowledged either her appearance or sex than if she didn’t.

The results of this first study were mirrored in a second study that used construction workers as participants. Follow-up …read more


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ISIS's Nightmare: Fierce Kurdish Women Fighters

October 10, 2014 in Blogs

By gjohnsit, DailyKos

In the battle for Kobani, Syria, Kurdish women warriors are said to terrify ISIS.

On Monday the Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said that the isolated Kurdish enclave of Kobani was “about to fall” to a massive, sustained assault from ISIS.

Also on Monday, Rooz Bahjat, a Kurdish intelligence officer stationed in Kobani said the city would fall within “the next 24 hours.” By now ISIS was expecting to be slaughtering civilians by the score.

Instead, something totally unexpected happened - ISIS has been forced to pull back.

A local Kobani official, Idris Nahsen, told AFP that fighters from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) had managed to push ISIS fighters outside several key areas after “helpful” airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition

“The situation has changed since yesterday. YPG forces have pushed back ISIS forces,” he said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, confirmed that ISIS fighters had withdrawn overnight from several areas and were no longer inside the western part of Kobani. They remained in eastern parts of the town and its southern edges, said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman, whose group relies on a network of sources inside Syria. The number of dead in the overnight fighting was not clear, but Mustafa Ebdi, a Kurdish journalist and activist from Kobani, wrote on his Facebook page that the streets of one southeastern neighborhood were “full of the bodies” of ISIS fighters.

Kobani has been under attack by 9,000 ISIS jihadists, armed with tanks and heavy artillery for nearly a month. This is the largest manned assualt by ISIS in its short existence.They are being opposed by just 2,000 Kurdish fighters with the YPG, the armed wing of the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), without access to any heavy weaponry and short on ammunition.

To put this into perspective, 800 ISIS fighters routed 2 divisions of the Iraqi Army, totaling 30,000 heavily armed soldiers, in June.

In other words, the Syrian Kurds of Kobani weren't supposed to stand a snowball's chance in Hell.

My father used to say, “It's not the size of the dog in the fight that matters. It's the size of the fight in the dog …read more


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Sen. Paul Holds Listening Session in Ferguson

October 10, 2014 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. – TODAY, Sen. Rand Paul visited Ferguson, Missouri to attend a listening session with local leaders in the wake of the civil unrest over the past two months. The NAACP, the Urban League and several local business and church leaders participated in the event. The discussion centered around Sen. Paul’s belief that the underlying problem in Ferguson-and many other troubled areas of our country-is a broken criminal justice system that unfairly targets minorities.
‘I came to Ferguson today to listen to leaders in the community and to learn more about how we can fix the problems of criminal injustice together,’ Sen. Paul said.

‘Senator Paul’s decision to meet with the St. Louis county NAACP and local leadership in Ferguson speaks volumes about the NAACP’s strength and influence in the civil rights community. Local leadership was encouraged by his decision to call a meeting with us to have a round table discussion and discuss common sense solutions. We were honored to have an informative discussion about the Senator regarding ways that he can help to assist our civil rights agenda in Washington and help to end police militarization,’ said John Gaskin III, spokesman for St. Louis County NAACP

Senator Paul has previously noted that anyone who thinks that race does not still, even if inadvertently, skew the application of criminal justice in this country is just not paying close enough attention. He has often noted that prisons are full of men and women of color who are serving inappropriately long and harsh sentences for non-violent, youthful mistakes.

‘Given the over-militarization of our law enforcement and the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for minority communities not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them, ‘ noted Senior Advisor, Doug Stafford. ‘Senator Paul will continue to work to fix the broken system and in the meantime, let us continue to pray for the people of Ferguson, citizens, police and officials alike.’

Senator Paul has introduced six pieces of federal legislation that reforms the federal criminal justice system and addresses the underlying economic reasons for high crime areas:

Justice Safety Valve Act – S.619 – The bill introduced on March 20, 2013, and cosponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) would allow a federal judge to depart from mandatory minimum sentences under certain circumstances.
Economic Freedom Zones Act – S.1852 – The bill, …read more


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How Saving Grows the Economy

October 10, 2014 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken


Mises Daily Friday by Dan Sanchez:

Dan Sanchez examines Irwin Schiff’s timeless comic book on how savings, innovation, and risk are the building blocks of productivity, progress, and wealth.

…read more


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Why Jennifer Lawrence, Emma Watson and Beyoncé Are Not the Feminists We Need

October 10, 2014 in Blogs

By Roxane Gay, The Guardian

It's great when celebrities embrace feminism, but the movement is much more.

Recently a young woman asked me how we can make feminism more accessible to men. I told her that I don't care about making feminism more accessible to men. In truth, I don't care about making feminism more accessible to anyone.

I care about making the liberties that men enjoy so freely fully accessible to women, and if men or celebrities claiming feminism for themselves has become the spoon full of sugar to make that medicine go down, so be it.

But it irks me that we more easily embrace feminism and feminist messages when delivered in the right package – one that generally includes youth, a particular kind of beauty, fame and/or self-deprecating humour. It frustrates me that the very idea of women enjoying the same inalienable rights as men is so unappealing that we require – even demand – that the person asking for these rights must embody the standards we’re supposedly trying to challenge. That we require brand ambassadors and celebrity endorsements to make the world a more equitable place is infuriating.

Around this time last year, as part of an effort to rebrand feminism – a notion that comes up in far too many discussions, as though there might be a magical combination of words and images that will make gender equality more palatable to the masses – Elle UK invited three British ad agencies to develop campaigns to promote feminist messages. I recognized the motivation behind the campaign but I resented the idea that with a better marketing message, the world might get right with feminism. I don’t truck in magical thinking.

Celebrities, of course, are often used as part of all vague “rebranding feminist” efforts, and in the last year or so, many famous young women – Jennifer LawrenceLena DunhamMiley Cyrus – have openly claimed feminism. This shouldn’t be news, but it is, because all too often famous women – <a target=_blank …read more