Archive for the ‘History’ Category
Vincent Autin (L) and Bruno Boileau (R) kiss on the terrace of the city hall after they were married in Montpellier, May 29, 2013. The two men are the first same-sex couple to marry in France under a reform which has stoked some of the ugliest protests in the country in decades. The law, backed by most French and feted by gay and lesbians as it came into force this month, makes France the 14th country to allow same-sex marriage despite heated street protests by conservatives, Catholics and extreme-right groups.
The Republican view, nowadays
America’s working mothers are now the primary breadwinners in a record 40 percent of households with children — a milestone in the changing face of modern families, up from just 11 percent in 1960.
The findings by the Pew Research Center…highlight the growing influence of “breadwinner moms” who keep their families afloat financially. While most are headed by single mothers, a growing number are families with married mothers who bring in more income than their husbands.
Demographers say the change is all but irreversible and is likely to bring added attention to child-care policies as well as government safety nets for vulnerable families…
While roughly 79 percent of Americans reject the notion that women should return to their traditional roles, only 21 percent of those polled said the trend of more mothers of young children working outside the home is a good thing for society, according to the Pew survey.
Roughly 3 in 4 adults said the increasing number of women working for pay has made it harder for parents to raise children…
The trend is being driven mostly by long-term demographic changes, including higher rates of education and labor force participation dating back to the 1960s women’s movement. Today, more women than men hold bachelor’s degrees, and they make up nearly half — 47 percent — of the American workforce.
But recent changes in the economy, too, have played a part. Big job losses in manufacturing and construction, fields that used to provide high pay to a mostly male workforce, have lifted the relative earnings of married women, even among those in mid-level positions such as teachers, nurses or administrators. The jump in working women has been especially prominent among those who are mothers — from 37 percent in 1968 to 65 percent in 2011 — reflecting in part increases for those who went looking for jobs to lift sagging family income after the recent recession.
Andrew Cherlin, a professor of sociology and public policy at Johns Hopkins University, said that to his surprise public attitudes toward working mothers have changed very little over the years. He predicts the growing numbers will lead to a growing constituency among women in favor of family-friendly work policies such as paid family leave, as well as safety net policies such as food stamps or child care support for single mothers.
In other words, we’ll start to catch up with the rest of the educated Western industrial world.
Like so many aspects of life in “modern” America, the modernizing part stopped with the introduction of the Cold War, McCarthyism, collaboration by compliant labor union leaders and liberal politicians alike – maintaining the TweedleDeeDumb party twins as the only choices in federal government.
Meanwhile, Fox Noise fell apart after Megyn Kelly attacked her peers – like Lou Dobbs – for offering a sexist analysis, convinced this change describes the end of American families and the natural leadership of men. WTF?
Brooklyn Bridge under construction – picture of the day at the Guardian Unlimited.
A photographic highlight selected by the picture desk. The Brooklyn Bridge opened on this day in 1883 linking the two New York boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn.
Two men stand on a high catwalk, surveying the construction of the Brooklyn Bridge, with Manhattan in the background. Large ships and ferries sit in docks in the East River.
Yes, I fiddled with the photo before posting it. I imagine the original photographer might have also done so – given today’s hardware and software.
In one of their most dramatic choices in a century, local leaders of the Boy Scouts of America voted Thursday to ease a divisive ban and allow openly gay boys to be accepted into the nation’s leading youth organization.
Gay adults will remain barred from serving as Scout leaders.
Of the local Scout leaders voting at their annual meeting in Texas, more than 60 percent supported the proposal.
Casting ballots were about 1,400 voting members of BSA’s National Council who were attending their annual meeting at a conference center not far from BSA headquarters in suburban Dallas.
The vote will not end the wrenching debate over the Scouts’ membership policy, and it could trigger defections among those on the losing side…
Of course. Would you expect bigots to accept democracy – along with civil rights?
The BSA’s overall “traditional youth membership” – Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturers – is now about 2.6 million, compared with more than 4 million in peak years of the past. It also has about 1 million adult leaders and volunteers.
Of the more than 100,000 Scouting units in the U.S., 70 percent are chartered by religious institutions.
Those include liberal churches opposed to any ban on gays, but some of the largest sponsors are relatively conservative denominations that have previously supported the broad ban – notably the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Southern Baptist churches.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced in April that it was satisfied with new proposal, and the National Catholic Committee on Scouting did not oppose it.
The frustration felt by those who oppose full civil rights for all Americans is nothing new. The nation listened to their whine and breast-beating over accepting non-whites, witnessed the transformation of local chapters of one or another organization or institution into something designed to maintain racial purity. Some of the same will take place over sexual orientation, now.
And, then, time and tide will continue to roll forward over the reactionaries who always think half-measures are all they can bear.
Plans to legalise gay marriage in England and Wales are to proceed unimpeded in Parliament after ministers reached agreement with Labour…MPs backed a Labour plan to consult on changing civil partnerships – a move criticised by some Tory MPs.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Culture Secretary Maria Miller thanked other parties for their “unwavering support” for the principles of the same-sex Marriage Bill and said a review of civil partnerships could take place “very swiftly”.
Labour said the review could potentially take place within the next few months – enabling its findings to be reflected in the final legislation…
MPs gave their support in principle to gay marriage in February but are now discussing proposed amendments on Monday and Tuesday amid calls from some Conservatives for the government to focus on other priorities.
The bill is being debated over two days, with its third reading – the final hurdle in the Commons – on Tuesday. If approved, it will go to the House of Lords on Wednesday, where it is expected to face further opposition.
David Cameron has said equal marriage would help build a stronger and fairer society but nearly half of all Tories voted against it in February and many party activists remain deeply opposed to it in principle…
It does’t seem to matter which Western nation moves forward on civil rights for all. There always are conservatives who apparently feel equal opportunities for all somehow diminishes their tiny little lives.
While failing in their attempts to amend the legislation in any form, Conservative MPs voiced their concerns in large numbers on a range of issues. Blah, blah, blah.
Stonewall, which campaigns for equality for gay, lesbian and bisexual people, said it would be a “terrible pity” if the legislation got “bogged down” and urged MPs from all parties not to “play politics” with it.
Under the bill, the Church of England and the Church in Wales would be banned from offering same-sex marriages because of their strongly stated opposition, unless they changed canon law.
Other religious organisations would be able to “opt in” to holding ceremonies. There are currently no plans for similar legislation in Northern Ireland, but there are already plans for a bill to allow same-sex marriage in Scotland.
The UK debate comes the week after France became the ninth European country, and 14th in the world, to legalise gay marriage. Earlier this month Rhode Island became the 10th US state to allow same-sex marriages.
I wonder if the United States will join the ranks of nations with full civil rights, say, below number 50?
City College of New York Assistant Professor of Physics Cory Dean, who recently arrived from Columbia University where he was a post-doctoral researcher, and research teams from Columbia and three other institutions have definitively proven the existence of an effect known as Hofstadter’s Butterfly.
The phenomenon, a complex pattern of the energy states of electrons that resembles a butterfly, has appeared in physics textbooks as a theoretical concept of quantum mechanics for nearly 40 years. However, it had never been directly observed until now. Confirming its existence may open the door for researchers to uncover completely unknown electrical properties of materials…
Douglas Hofstadter, a physicist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, first predicted the existence of the butterfly in 1976, when he imagined what would happen to electrons subjected to two forces simultaneously: a magnetic field and the periodic electric field.
The energy spectrum, or pattern of energy levels, that these dueling forces create is said to be “fractal,” that is, infinitely smaller versions of the pattern appear within the main one. This effect is common in classical physics, but rare in the quantum world.
“When you plot the spectrum, it takes on the form of a butterfly. Zoom in on the spectrum and you see the butterfly again, zoom in and see butterfly again,” said Professor Dean. The light and dark sections of the pattern, respectively, correspond to light “gaps” in energy level that electrons cannot cross and dark areas where they can move freely.
“The existence of gaps changes the way electrons move through a material. Copper for example, has no gaps, whereas an insulator, like glass, has very large gaps,” explained Professor Dean. “The relationship between energy and how dense the electrons are in a material – energy density – determines all electrical properties. That’s why copper conducts, glass or ceramic doesn’t, and other materials weakly conduct, like semiconductors.”
“What you see in a Hofstadter spectrum is a very complicated structure of gaps arranged in a fractal pattern,” he continued, which suggests as yet unknown electrical properties.
The team produced the effect by sandwiching together flat sheets of graphene – a single-atom-thickness of carbon – and another material, called boron nitride, and twisting them against each other to create what is called a superlattice. “Graphene has hexagonal chicken wire structure and boron nitride does too,” he said. “It is as if you take screen door material and put one sheet on top of other. As you rotate it you see a periodic pattern appear. You get an interference effect – a ‘moiré’ pattern.” In the case of the chicken-wire structure of graphene and boron nitride, the pattern forms a fractal butterfly of energy states.
Moire patterns drive me nuts. Sometimes I think there must be some pre-industrial part of my brain stuck into dizziness by the phenomenon.
A comprehensive report on drug policy in the Americas released Friday by a consortium of nations suggests that the legalization of marijuana, but not other illicit drugs, be considered among a range of ideas to reassess how the drug war is carried out.
The report, released by the Organization of American States walked a careful line in not recommending any single approach to the drug problem and encouraging “flexibility.”
Prompted by President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia at the Summit of the Americas last year to answer growing dissatisfaction and calls for new strategies in the drug war, the report’s 400 pages mainly summarize and distill previous research and debate on the subject.
But the fact that it gave weight to exploring legalizing or de-penalizing marijuana was seized on by advocates of more liberal drug use laws as a landmark and a potential catalyst for less restrictive laws in a number of countries…
The report said “the drug problem requires a flexible approach,” and “it would be worthwhile to assess existing signals and trends that lean toward the decriminalization or legalization of the production, sale and use of marijuana.
“Sooner or later decisions in this area will need to be taken,” it said. “On the other hand, our report finds no significant support, in any country, for the decriminalization or legalization of the trafficking of other illicit drugs…”
“The region’s leaders expressed their frustration with the limits and exorbitant costs of current policies and their hunger for a fuller, more creative debate,” said John Walsh, a drug policy analyst at the Washington Office on Latin America, a human rights group.
But the United States has so far rejected legalization as a solution to drug violence…A State Department spokesman, William Ostick, said “blah, blah, blah”…
Yes, the OAS statement on decriminalizing is rather like the American Institute of CPA’s noting that little solid-state hand calculators work as well as pencil and paper and may be faster. Still, even an acknowledgement of solutions without prior approval from the US State Department is an achievement for the OAS.
The state-owned Harpa concert hall and conference center
…Before my first visit to Reykjavik in August 2012, my law school thesis was settled – a study of cyber warfare and the Geneva conventions.
But a week in Iceland changed my perspective. I was pleasantly flummoxed by what I saw.
Violent crime was virtually non-existent. People seemed relaxed about their safety and that of their children to the point where parents left their babies outside and unattended.
I’d spent time in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, but those countries now appeared plagued with crime by comparison.
Once I got back to America, I changed my thesis topic…I wanted to know what Iceland was doing right…
According to the 2011 Global Study on Homicide by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Iceland’s homicide rate between 1999-2009 never went above 1.8 per 100,000 population on any given year.
On the other hand, the US had homicide rates between 5.0 and 5.8 per 100,000 population during that same stretch…
First – and arguably foremost – there is virtually no difference among upper, middle and lower classes in Iceland. And with that, tension between economic classes is non-existent, a rare occurrence for any country…
On one of three visits to Althing, the Icelandic parliament, I met Bjorgvin Sigurdsson, former chairman of the parliamentary group of the Social Democratic Alliance. In his eyes – as well as those of many Icelanders I spoke with – equality was the biggest reason for the nation’s relative lack of crime.
“Here you can have the tycoon’s children go to school with everyone else,” Sigurdsson says, adding that the country’s social welfare and education systems promoted an egalitarian culture…
Crimes in Iceland – when they occur – usually do not involve firearms, though Icelanders own plenty of guns…
The country ranks 15th in the world in terms of legal per capita gun ownership. However, acquiring a gun is not an easy process -steps to gun ownership include a medical examination and a written test…
RTFA for more details.
I love Iceland. Haven’t been there in years; but, the standards I always found in Icelandic politics I felt reflected the matriarchal side of the legal system. For centuries and generations, property rights descended through the women of any family. Governance always offered a higher priority for evenhanded and fair decisions than the contested immediate context in the rest of the West.
A quick survey of the breadth of Icelandic culture that’s reasonably accurate IMHO is over here.
Yueyaquan Crescent Lake in Dunhuang, north west China is completely surrounded by sand dunes. The arid region barely gets any rain each year
Delightful success at preservation.
Rios Montt and the politician who bankrolled murders of “civilian support” for guerillas
Former Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt was found guilty on Friday of genocide and crimes against humanity during the bloodiest phase of the country’s 36-year civil war and was sentenced to 80 years in prison.
Hundreds of people who were packed into the courtroom burst into applause, chanting, “Justice!” as Rios Montt received a 50-year term for the genocide charge and an additional 30 years for crimes against humanity.
It was the first time a former head of state had been found guilty of genocide in his or her own country.
Rios Montt, now 86, took power after a coup in 1982 and was accused of implementing a scorched-earth policy in which troops massacred thousands of indigenous villagers thought to be helping leftist rebels. He proclaimed his innocence in court…
Prosecutors say Rios Montt turned a blind eye as soldiers used rape, torture and arson to try to rid Guatemala of leftist rebels during his 1982-1983 rule, the most violent period of a 1960-1996 civil war in which as many as 250,000 people died.
He was tried over the killings of at least 1,771 members of the Maya Ixil indigenous group, just a fraction of the number who died during his rule.
A throng outside the court chanted “Justice! Justice!” when the guilty verdicts were handed down on Friday…
“He had full knowledge of everything that was happening and did not stop it,” Judge Yasmin Barrios, who presided over the trial, told a packed courtroom where Mayan women wearing colourful traditional clothes and head-dresses closely followed proceedings…
Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan provided support for Rios Montt’s government and said in late 1982 that the dictator was getting a “bum rap” from rights groups for his military campaign against left-wing guerrillas during the Cold War.
He also once called Rios Montt “a man of great personal integrity”.
Birds of a feather and other similar dichos all apply here. All the Cold War crap rationales – from changing the name of the War department to supporting apartheid governments across the landscape of the Third World – are still grist for the propaganda mills of the Republican Party and their allies standing to the Right of Attila the Hun.