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Why Are We Waxing Ourselves Totally Bare? The Sexual Politics of Hair Removal

March 28, 2015 in Blogs

By Rebecca M. Herzig,

The mania for hair removal goes way beyond pubic regions now.

When asked about pubic hair removal, most American women tend to describe their efforts as a form of “self-enhancement”—a way to feel cleaner and more attractive. While some report opting to remove hair in accordance with their sexual partners’ preferences (and specifically, to encourage their partners to perform oral sex), most instead stress themes of hygiene and sexual desirability. Beginning in the early 2000s, popular media reinforced these themes, tying complete genital waxing to celebrity glamour. Gwyneth Paltrow’s relatively early adoption of total genital waxing was widely reported to have “changed her life”; Kirstie Alley described the feeling as “like a baby’s butt, only all over.” The enhancement provided by complete genital waxing also became a plot element in popular film: in the 2006 comedy “The Break-Up,” the newly single female protagonist, played by Jennifer Aniston, goes “full Telly Savalas” and walks naked through the condominium she still shares with her ex in order to tease and entice him.

Male hair removal, too, was promoted and understood as a form of self-enhancement, as signaled by the coining of the term “manscaping,” generally traced to a 2003 episode of the television program “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” Much of the attention to male waxing in mainstream popular culture focused on chests and backs, as in the actor Steve Carell’s expletive-laced chest wax in the 2005 Universal Studios comedy, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” (a scene that spawned dozens of imitative, homemade videos on YouTube). But the advent of male fashion trends, such as low-riding jeans, that focused on the pubic area and buttocks also drew scrutiny to previously covered areas of the body. Some commentators further speculated that both gay and straight men, influenced by pornography, began removing their pubic hair as a way to make their penises appear longer. Male privates, too, were now public, and were subject to elective enhancement.

The cultural unveiling  of genitalia in popular film, television, and online forums stemmed from the steadily increasing commercialization of erotic images over the twentieth century, and particularly …read more


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Chuck Schumer—Friend Of Wall Street and War—Ready to Be Anointed Head of the Senate Democrats

March 28, 2015 in Blogs

By Zaid Jilani, AlterNet

Here’s why the ascendance of the Democrat from New York is worrisome.

Last week, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid announced that he would be retiring after a career that spanned three decades. Less than 24 hours later, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) had secured the support of numerous senators, including Reid himself, to succeed him as the next leader of Senate Democrats when he retires at the end of 2016.

It's not surprising that Schumer would be able to collect so much support in such a short period of time. Recall that he was head of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, and helped recruit as many as one-third of the current Senate Democratic caucus – and that he was the one who set about raising the funds necessary to bring them to power in the first place. There's also the power of personal loyalty. “Schumer goes out of his way to address the concerns of his members, especially the classes he helped elect in 2006 and 2008,” says one former senior aide to a Senate Democrat. “He will take everyone's call and ostensibly try to help them with their concerns. With Chuck, they know what they're getting, and for a lot of them, they know their voice will be at least heard in leadership if he becomes majority leader.”

Which would explain why other senior Democrats such as Sen. Patty Murray (WA) and Sen. Dick Durbin (IL) have failed to gather similar support (Durbin himself has thrown support to Schumer). 

While the behind-the-scenes machinations are interesting,  the policy implications of Schumer's ascendance are what are most troubling to Democratic voters. While the role of Senate Democratic Leader involves building consensus – bringing together opposing wings of the caucus, maneuvering the procedural process – the particular politics of the senator remain important. For example, Reid used his influential position as leader of the Senate Democrats to prevent nuclear waste from going to the Yucca Mountain site in his state.

So what are Schumer's particularities? In what ways does he significantly differ from his colleagues – …read more


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Police Allow Georgia Man's Mother to Die, Then Arrest Him For Swearing

March 28, 2015 in Blogs

By Jay Syrmopoulos, The Free Thought Project

A local law prohibits obscene language during a 911 call.

Rocky Face, Ga. – In an almost unbelievable case out of Georgia, 58-year-old Boyd Green was arrested and jailed for swearing during a 9-1-1 call. Green was arrested after police allowed his elderly ill mother to die by refusing his numerous requests to perform a welfare check on her.

Green never once raised his voice during the call and simply uttered the phrases “damn bullshit” and “sorry damn asshole” in reference to police actions, or rather inaction, that resulted in the death of Green’s 83-year-old mother.

Georgia law prohibits the use of “obscene, vulgar, or profane language with the intent to intimidate or harass a 911 communications officer,” and the vague language of the law that allowed police to jail Green.

Eventually, the charges against Green were dismissed, but due to the outrageousness of the arrest he filed a lawsuit in federal court.

What makes this case even more appalling is revealed in Green’s complaint:

On June 20, 2013, a City of Dalton police officer arrested Green for driving under the influence. Green told the arresting officer that his mother was ill and alone. He implored the officer to have someone check on her. No one checked on Ada Green.

Once incarcerated, Green again notified officials about his mother’s condition. He asked jail staff to send someone to ensure that she was safe. No one checked on Ada Green despite Green’s pleas. Green was still in custody, five days later, when Ada Green was found in her home by a friend, deceased. Devastated, Green was subsequently released from jail and placed on probation for the DUI conviction.

Nearly a year later, on June 2, 2014, Green dialed 911 and was connected to a 911 dispatcher. Green told the 911 dispatcher that he wanted to see the Dalton police officer who arrested him for DUI in 2013. The 911 operator asked Green ‘What’s the problem?’ Green responded: ‘The problem is he let my momma lay up here and die. That’s the problem.

During the 82-second 911 phone call, Green did …read more


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Is Patrick Stewart's New Character Modeled on Bill O'Reilly?

March 28, 2015 in Blogs

By David Ferguson, Raw Story

A new show seems heavily inspired by the culture of Fox News.

This summer, the Starz network will begin airing Blunt Talk, a comedy series featuring Patrick Stewart as a cocaine-snorting, liquored-up cable news shouter who appears to be modeled on Fox News’ top talker Bill O’Reilly with maybe a bit of Piers Morgan stirred in for color.

“Why is he sniffing like that?” a production assistant asks in the opening frames of the show’s teaser clip, before the camera cuts to a shot of Stewart snorting up a line of white powder.

Stewart is playing Walter Blunt, a British veteran journalist turned right-wing U.S. cable news pundit. The clue that the character is modeled on O’Reilly comes when another production assistant tells Blunt that he’s been maligned on a radio show.

“This Brit flouting his credentials as a former Royal Marine wounded in the Falklands…,” reads the assistant.

“Did he say ‘Falklands’ sarcastically?” Blunt demands.

O’Reilly has taken heat in recent months for his reportedly inflated claims of reporting from various war zones and seeing atrocities firsthand which he’d only seen in pictures or on TV.

The show’s executive producer is Family Guy‘s Seth MacFarlane and it is directed by Jonathan Ames.

Watch the video, embedded below:


…read more


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4 Right Wing Lunacies this Week: Phil Robertson's Insane Bloody Atheist Fantasy

March 28, 2015 in Blogs

By Janet Allon, AlterNet

And an Arizona Senator proposes a law requiring everyone to go to church.

1. Phil Robertson is a deeply disturbed man with a fantasy about beheading atheists.

Apparently, the version of Christianity that ‘Duck Dynasty’ patriarch Phil Robertson believes in is a very bloody, vengeful, sexually sadistic and psychopathic one.

Either that, or the dude is just insane.

The right-wing darling got off this week on spinning out a fantasy involving raping, decapitating and castrating an atheist family during a speech he gave at a Vero Beach Prayer Breakfast.


“I’ll make a bet with you,” Robertson said in that aw shucks folksy way he has. “Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him. And then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now is it dude?’”

Just a few points: first, he did not make good on that offer of making a bet. Second, decapitating her head off? Third, and yeah, sort of the most important. The definition of atheism is a little off. It’s not believing in God, Sir Duck Commander, not the inability to distinguish between right and wrong.

Robertson’s fantasy continued, we’re going to say, perversely. “Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood and hold it in front of him and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if this [sic] was something wrong with this? But you’re the one who says there is no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong, so we’re just having fun. We’re sick in the head, have a nice day.’”

Wait, who’s sick in the head?

2. Tucker Carlson and his brother Buckley are …read more


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Why a Gay Man Like Me Is Going to Make It Hard for Indiana Shopkeepers to Exercise Their 'Religious Liberty'

March 28, 2015 in Blogs

By John Moyers, AlterNet

Am I responsible for their damnation if I let'em serve me without mentioning that I'm gay and they don't guess it?

The following is not snark. It's an honest and practical inquiry: How will merchants in Indiana determine which customers can now be refused service under the state's new “religious liberty” law

Take sexual identity. If every LGBT person out there were a flamboyant drag queen, it might be easier for a merchant to decide who to refuse. But some gay people, like me, are just average white guys — I don't swish, lisp or call everyone “honey,” and if there's a song on my lips, it's more likely Jerry Garcia than Judy Garland. 

What's a God-fearing Indiana merchant to do if I walk in the door? Am I responsible for his damnation if I let him serve me without mentioning that I'm gay and he doesn't guess it? Must he ask all customers about potential offenses to his faith? 

Complicating things is the fact that some straight men are a bit effete and some straight women are kind of butch. Just because God made them like that doesn't mean their dry cleaning should get turned away.  

So, perhaps Indiana now needs a law requiring I.D. cards for all citizens — yellow for the hets, pink for the homos — to protect both the souls and the profits of faithful, freedom-loving Chamber of Commerce members. Or maybe gays should be required to tattoo their foreheads for quick identification. If so, the same should go for straight people who practice oral and anal sex, since what offends some religious beliefs is “sodomy” defined more broadly, not merely loving someone of the same gender.

What about Jews? Some conservative Christians believe God does not hear the prayers of a Jew. If He can discriminate that way, why can't a car salesman refuse to sell a Chevy? And what about adulterers? Indiana's new law is so broad, it clearly protects the freedom to deny service to adulterers if that offends sincerely held religious beliefs. If so, and there's going to be some sort of I.D. system adopted, it could incorporate a scarlet “A.”  

If the …read more


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Terrifying: Why Are People in Kazakhstan Falling Asleep for Days?

March 28, 2015 in Blogs

By Joanna Rothkopf,

The mysterious sleeping sickness comes with significant memory loss.

Hundreds of residents of Kalachi, a small town near a former Soviet Union uranium mine in Kazakhstan, have been suffering from a mysterious sleeping sickness that causes them to fall asleep for two to six days and wake up with significant memory loss.

While the eerie sickness was first reported in 2010, cases have been emerging in droves since March 2013. Other symptoms include feeling dizzy, being unable to stand up and extreme fatigue. The Russian Times reports that eight children fell asleep within an hour during the first week of school, and several months later, 60 people were hit with the disease on the same day.

Mashable’s Elif Koc reports:

Scientists and doctors have flown into Kalachi to determine the root of the illness, but after conducting several tests ranging from environmental toxicity to patient data, results have been unsubstantial. Bacterial and viral tests have come up negative, knocking out the possibility that this is a parasitic disease such as African trypanosomiasis, which has similar effects. 

In an interview with the Siberian Times, Sergei Lukashenko, director of Kazakhstan’s National Nuclear Centre’s Radiation Safety and Ecology Institute, said he is “positive this is not radon,” a colorless and odorless radioactive gas, but carbon monoxide could be to blame.

“We have some suspicions as the village has a peculiar location and weather patters frequently force chimney smoke to go down instead of up,” he continued. Carbon monoxide poisoning often results in a headache, vomiting and dizziness, but that wouldn’t account for the bizarre sleeping element.

Olga Samusenko, 21, a resident of the village, is looking to relocate her husband and two young children.

“We were at the parade of schoolchildren on September 1,” she continued. “My children are small, so we just went to look at the celebration. After that [two-year-old] Stanislav played outside in the yard, then he came home at about 4 p.m. and just fell down on his face. He couldn’t sit, he couldn’t stand. I tried to put him on his feet, but he was falling. His eyes were looking …read more