position:first lady

  • Women Once Ruled Computers. When Did the Valley Become Brotopia? - Bloomberg

    Lena Söderberg started out as just another Playboy centerfold. The 21-year-old Swedish model left her native Stockholm for Chicago because, as she would later say, she’d been swept up in “America fever.” In November 1972, Playboy returned her enthusiasm by featuring her under the name Lenna Sjööblom, in its signature spread. If Söderberg had followed the path of her predecessors, her image would have been briefly famous before gathering dust under the beds of teenage boys. But that particular photo of Lena would not fade into obscurity. Instead, her face would become as famous and recognizable as Mona Lisa’s—at least to everyone studying computer science.

    In engineering circles, some refer to Lena as “the first lady of the internet.” Others see her as the industry’s original sin, the first step in Silicon Valley’s exclusion of women. Both views stem from an event that took place in 1973 at a University of Southern California computer lab, where a team of researchers was trying to turn physical photographs into digital bits. Their work would serve as a precursor to the JPEG, a widely used compression standard that allows large image files to be efficiently transferred between devices. The USC team needed to test their algorithms on suitable photos, and their search for the ideal test photo led them to Lena.

    According to William Pratt, the lab’s co-founder, the group chose Lena’s portrait from a copy of Playboy that a student had brought into the lab. Pratt, now 80, tells me he saw nothing out of the ordinary about having a soft porn magazine in a university computer lab in 1973. “I said, ‘There are some pretty nice-looking pictures in there,’ ” he says. “And the grad students picked the one that was in the centerfold.” Lena’s spread, which featured the model wearing boots, a boa, a feathered hat, and nothing else, was attractive from a technical perspective because the photo included, according to Pratt, “lots of high-frequency detail that is difficult to code.”

    Over the course of several years, Pratt’s team amassed a library of digital images; not all of them, of course, were from Playboy. The data set also included photos of a brightly colored mandrill, a rainbow of bell peppers, and several photos, all titled “Girl,” of fully clothed women. But the Lena photo was the one that researchers most frequently used. Over the next 45 years, her face and bare shoulder would serve as a benchmark for image-processing quality for the teams working on Apple Inc.’s iPhone camera, Google Images, and pretty much every other tech product having anything to do with photos. To this day, some engineers joke that if you want your image compression algorithm to make the grade, it had better perform well on Lena.

    “We didn’t even think about those things at all when we were doing this,” Pratt says. “It was not sexist.” After all, he continues, no one could have been offended because there were no women in the classroom at the time. And thus began a half-century’s worth of buck-passing in which powerful men in the tech industry defended or ignored the exclusion of women on the grounds that they were already excluded .

    Based on data they had gathered from the same sample of mostly male programmers, Cannon and Perry decided that happy software engineers shared one striking characteristic: They “don’t like people.” In their final report they concluded that programmers “dislike activities involving close personal interaction; they are generally more interested in things than in people.” There’s little evidence to suggest that antisocial people are more adept at math or computers. Unfortunately, there’s a wealth of evidence to suggest that if you set out to hire antisocial nerds, you’ll wind up hiring a lot more men than women.

    Cannon and Perry’s work, as well as other personality tests that seem, in retrospect, designed to favor men over women, were used in large companies for decades, helping to create the pop culture trope of the male nerd and ensuring that computers wound up in the boys’ side of the toy aisle. They influenced not just the way companies hired programmers but also who was allowed to become a programmer in the first place.

    In 1984, Apple released its iconic Super Bowl commercial showing a heroic young woman taking a sledgehammer to a depressing and dystopian world. It was a grand statement of resistance and freedom. Her image is accompanied by a voice-over intoning, “And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like 1984.” The creation of this mythical female heroine also coincided with an exodus of women from technology. In a sense, Apple’s vision was right: The technology industry would never be like 1984 again. That year was the high point for women earning degrees in computer science, which peaked at 37 percent. As the number of overall computer science degrees picked back up during the dot-com boom, far more men than women filled those coveted seats. The percentage of women in the field would dramatically decline for the next two and a half decades.

    Despite having hired and empowered some of the most accomplished women in the industry, Google hasn’t turned out to be all that different from its peers when it comes to measures of equality—which is to say, it’s not very good at all. In July 2017 the search engine disclosed that women accounted for just 31 percent of employees, 25 percent of leadership roles, and 20 percent of technical roles. That makes Google depressingly average among tech companies.

    Even so, exactly zero of the 13 Alphabet company heads are women. To top it off, representatives from several coding education and pipeline feeder groups have told me that Google’s efforts to improve diversity appear to be more about seeking good publicity than enacting change. One noted that Facebook has been successfully poaching Google’s female engineers because of an “increasingly chauvinistic environment.”

    Last year, the personality tests that helped push women out of the technology industry in the first place were given a sort of reboot by a young Google engineer named James Damore. In a memo that was first distributed among Google employees and later leaked to the press, Damore claimed that Google’s tepid diversity efforts were in fact an overreach. He argued that “biological” reasons, rather than bias, had caused men to be more likely to be hired and promoted at Google than women.

    #Féminisme #Informatique #Histoire_numérique

  • Working-Class Journalism in the Age of Oligarchs

    I found the demand for my kinds of stories diminishing. Editors urged me to write less about economic inequality and more about “feminine” topics like the first lady’s fashion choices and the secrets of success of female CEOs. I could no longer make a living in journalism, and had to find other ways to support myself.

    #journalisme #oligarques

  • The Real Ice Queens: Women Who Conquered the Cold Wearing Corsets

    Can’t bear the winter cold anymore? Consider for a moment, this photograph of a woman climbing a glacier in a billowing Victorian skirt. As it turns out, there were more than a few females who braved the ice in petticoats and traversed the world’s harshest environments at a time when wearing trousers was still a serious scandal for a lady. Decades before women even had the right to vote, we were climbing to the top of the highest mountain in Europe and exploring the arctic. So if like me, you’re feeling a little sorry for yourself with your runny nose and thermal layers, it’s time to toughen up as we meet history’s true ice queens…

    Let’s start with Josephine Diebitsch Peary, aka, the “First Lady of the Arctic”. This 19th century explorer traveled farther North over the ice fields than any woman recorded in history before. And I say « ‘recorded in history’ because, let’s not forget the countless Inuit women who would have also travelled into the Arctic unrecorded, saving the fate of numerous expeditions thanks to their expertise in tailoring and food preparation. Male explorers often failed to mention these women in their expedition diaries, their names obscured by the prejudices of the day.

    Josephine however, was certainly the first white woman to establish a profile as a female Arctic explorer, a feat made even more surprising by her upbringing as a wealthy, white-gloved society lady. But then, she fell in love with Robert Edwin Peary, an American Navy officer who had discovered a passion for exploring the mysteries of the Arctic and would become the first white man to do so. Within a few years of their marriage, Josephine found herself swapping white gloves and champagne glasses for seal gloves and a rifle. She accompanied her husband on six of his Arctic expeditions; on the second of which, she was eight months pregnant.

  • Watch: Ronald Reagan and his ‘War on Drugs’
    An American tragedy in three acts.

    On October 14, 1982, President Ronald Reagan declared a “war on drugs,” doubling-down on an initiative that was started by Richard Nixon. Reagan declared that illicit drugs were a direct threat to U.S. national security and through a series of legislation, like the mandatory minimum sentencing laws of 1986, made a hard right turn away from a public health approach to drug use. Drug offenders faced lifetime consequences for minor infractions, yet the focus on tough sentences for crack and not powder cocaine meant the people going to prison were largely black and brown. The media seemed to play along, hyping up threats with racist coverage that largely ignored rampant cocaine use amongst whites and sensationalized the crack problem in inner-city black neighborhoods.

    In his effort to “make America great again” (yes, that was originally a catchphrase from Reagan’s stump speeches), Reagan enlisted his wife, Nancy. The First Lady orchestrated the “Just Say No” program, which became a cornerstone of her legacy. But that tagline — while memorable — was a flop when it came to helping kids cope with complex situations. Meanwhile, the U.S. government put money and military resources behind Central American groups known to be trafficking cocaine, which played a major role in the creation of America’s inner-city crack cocaine problem.

    Act 1: Building hysteria about the crack epidemic

    • ça me fait penser à l’histoire vraie de la « French Connection »
      un documentaire de David Korn-Brzoza que j’ai vu y’a pas longtemps sur france t.v

      dans les années 1970. A cette époque, l’héroïne « made in Marseille » – réputée pour être de très grande qualité – fait des ravages dans les rues américaines. Tous les milieux sociaux sont touchés. Les morts par overdose se comptent par milliers à travers l’Amérique, et particulièrement à New York, où certains endroits ont été rebaptisés « Needle Park » (« parc aiguille »). Le gouvernement américain est impuissant à enrayer ce trafic, organisé en toute impunité ou quasiment, par les truands corses de la « French Connection », basée à Marseille.

      Comme les américains trouvaient que les stups français rechignaient pour démanteler les labos clandestins marseillais. Ils ont envoyé leurs experts. Et là, on était bien en 1970 mais quand même, j’en croyais pas mes yeux. Ces gros cons de ricains avaient équipé des minis van WW avec la technologie de l’époque, des espèces de gros minitel relié à un tuyaux sur le toit du van sensé renifler les labo. Tu vois ces WW débouler dans les rues de Marseille et dans la campagne avec leur tuyaux de près de deux mètres avec ce qui semble une bête grille d’aération.
      Même les flics français sont mort de rire. Je ne sais pas si cette histoire a un lien avec les avions renifleurs. Un autre scandale, c’était sous Giscard je crois.

  • Why Power Brings Out Your True Self - Issue 46 : Balance

    At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Michelle Obama told the crowd, “Being president doesn’t change who you are. It reveals who you are.” Growing up, Michelle said, she and Barack learned important lessons from their families about “dignity and decency” and “gratitude and humility.” “At the end of the day,” she said, “when it comes time to make that decision, as president, all you have to guide you are your values, and your vision, and the life experiences that make you who you are.” Research in cognitive science reveals the former First Lady is right: Power exposes your true character. It releases inhibitions and sets your inner self free. If you’re a jerk when you gain power, you’ll become more of one. If you’re a mensch, you’ll get nicer. So if you happen to all of a sudden become (...)

  • Why Power Brings Out Your True Self - Issue 46 : Balance

    At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, Michelle Obama told the crowd, “Being president doesn’t change who you are. It reveals who you are.” Growing up, Michelle said, she and Barack learned important lessons from their families about “dignity and decency” and “gratitude and humility.” “At the end of the day,” she said, “when it comes time to make that decision, as president, all you have to guide you are your values, and your vision, and the life experiences that make you who you are.” Research in cognitive science reveals the former First Lady is right: Power exposes your true character. It releases inhibitions and sets your inner self free. If you’re a jerk when you gain power, you’ll become more of one. If you’re a mensch, you’ll get nicer. So if you happen to all of a sudden become (...)

  • Africa’s First Lady

    Barack and #Michelle_Obama have barely left the stage — it’s been a month — and already the U.S. press are gripped by nostalgia. In an era of ubiquitous images, no matter where you live in the world, the scenes of their kisses and hugs, their loving gazes and their fist bumps, are inescapable. Even…

    #ESSAYS #First_Ladies #Leadership #Presidency #South_Africa #The_Mandelas #The_Obamas #Winnie_Mandela

  • Michelle Obama’s Dress May Have Looked Simple, but It Spoke Volumes - The New York Times

    But unlike another reality TV star, Mr. Siriano has built his career on being inclusive: on catering to women regardless of size or age.

    Most recently, he was, for example, the designer who stepped forward (via Instagram) when Leslie Jones, the late-40-something six-foot-tall star of the movie remake “Ghostbusters,” complained that no designer wanted to dress her, making a custom off-the-shoulder red gown for her premiere that became something of an internet moment. He also has a collaboration with the plus-size store Lane Bryant, for which he held a runway show at the United Nations this year, and has dressed other celebrities, including Kate Hudson and Zendaya.

    “I just don’t think anyone should be excluded from having a beautiful dress,” he said to me when we were talking about the Jones brouhaha, and why he had volunteered to play fairy godfather.

    Lest you think Mrs. Obama’s wardrobe choice was just happenstance, however, know that the convention appearance was only the second time she has worn Mr. Siriano; the first time was this month, at the funeral for the police officers killed in Dallas.

    Throughout her time in the White House, the first lady has made something of a secondary cause out of supporting new, independent American designers, and choosing her clothes not only because she likes them but because their back story has a certain resonance that goes beyond the aesthetic. Monday night was no different. Fashion is not known for its embrace of togetherness (more for its exclusion). But Mr. Siriano is.

    Pas que je sois fan de ramener les femmes à ce qu’elles portent, mais ce choix est intéressant quand on voit les caricatures sexistes (et racistes) des supporters de Trump :


    #racisme #sexisme #mode

  • Bernie Sanders’ Democratic National Convention speech / Boing Boing

    La journée commence avec un type qui a du culot.

    Thank you. Good evening.

    It is an honor to be with you tonight and to be following in the footsteps of Elizabeth Warren, and to be here tonight to thank Michelle Obama for her incredible service to our country. She has made all of us proud.

    Let me begin by thanking the hundreds of thousands of Americans who actively participated in our campaign as volunteers. Thank you.

    Let me thank the 2 1/2 million Americans who helped fund our campaign with an unprecedented 8 million individual campaign contributions . Anyone know what that average contribution was? That’s right, $27. And let me thank the 13 million Americans who voted for the political revolution, giving us the 1,846 pledged delegates here tonight – 46 percent of the total.

    And delegates: Thank you for being here, and for all the work you’ve done. I look forward to your votes during the roll call on Tuesday night.

    And let me offer a special thanks to the people of my own state of Vermont who have sustained me and supported me as a mayor, congressman, senator and presidential candidate.

    And to my family – my wife Jane, four kids and seven grandchildren –thank you very much for your love and hard work on this campaign.

    I understand that many people here in this convention hall and around the country are disappointed about the final results of the nominating process. I think it’s fair to say that no one is more disappointed than I am. But to all of our supporters – here and around the country – I hope you take enormous pride in the historical accomplishments we have achieved.

    Together, my friends, we have begun a political revolution to transform America and that revolution – our revolution – continues. Election days come and go. But the struggle of the people to create a government which represents all of us and not just the 1 percent – a government based on the principles of economic, social, racial and environmental justice – that struggle continues. And I look forward to being part of that struggle with you.

    Let me be as clear as I can be. This election is not about, and has never been about, Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump, or Bernie Sanders or any of the other candidates who sought the presidency. This election is not about political gossip. It’s not about polls. It’s not about campaign strategy. It’s not about fundraising. It’s not about all the things that the media spends so much time discussing.

    This election is about – and must be about – the needs of the American people and the kind of future we create for our children and grandchildren.

    This election is about ending the 40-year decline of our middle class the reality that 47 million men, women and children live in poverty. It is about understanding that if we do not transform our economy, our younger generation will likely have a lower standard of living then their parents.

    This election is about ending the grotesque level of income and wealth inequality that we currently experience, the worst it has been since 1928. It is not moral, not acceptable and not sustainable that the top one-tenth of one percent now own almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent, or that the top 1 percent in recent years has earned 85 percent of all new income. That is unacceptable. That must change.

    This election is about remembering where we were 7 1/2 years ago when President Obama came into office after eight years of Republican trickle-down economics.

    The Republicans want us to forget that as a result of the greed, recklessness and illegal behavior on Wall Street, our economy was in the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Some 800,000 people a month were losing their jobs. We were running up a record-breaking deficit of $1.4 trillion and the world’s financial system was on the verge of collapse.

    We have come a long way in the last 7 1/2 years, and I thank President Obama and Vice President Biden for their leadership in pulling us out of that terrible recession.

    Yes, we have made progress, but I think we can all agree that much, much more needs to be done.

    This election is about which candidate understands the real problems facing this country and has offered real solutions – not just bombast, not just fear-mongering, not just name-calling and divisiveness.

    We need leadership in this country which will improve the lives of working families, the children, the elderly, the sick and the poor. We need leadership which brings our people together and makes us stronger – not leadership which insults Latinos, Muslims, women, African-Americans and veterans – and divides us up.

    By these measures, any objective observer will conclude that – based on her ideas and her leadership – Hillary Clinton must become the next president of the United States. The choice is not even close.

    This election is about a single mom I saw in Nevada who, with tears in her eyes, told me that she was scared to death about the future because she and her young daughter were not making it on the $10.45 an hour she was earning. This election is about that woman and the millions of other workers in this country who are struggling to survive on totally inadequate wages.

    Hillary Clinton understands that if someone in this country works 40 hours a week, that person should not be living in poverty. She understands that we must raise the minimum wage to a living wage. And she is determined to create millions of new jobs by rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure – our roads, bridges, water systems and wastewater plants.

    But her opponent – Donald Trump – well, he has a very different point of view. He does not support raising the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour – a starvation wage. While Donald Trump believes in huge tax breaks for billionaires, he believes that states should actually have the right to lower the minimum wage below $7.25.

    Brothers and sisters, this election is about overturning Citizens United, one of the worst Supreme Court decisions in the history of our country. That decision allows the wealthiest people in America, like the billionaire Koch brothers, to spend hundreds of millions of dollars buying elections and, in the process, undermine American democracy.

    Hillary Clinton will nominate justices to the Supreme Court who are prepared to overturn Citizens United and end the movement toward oligarchy in this country. Her Supreme Court appointments will also defend a woman’s right to choose, workers’ rights, the rights of the LGBT community, the needs of minorities and immigrants and the government’s ability to protect our environment.

    If you don’t believe that this election is important, if you think you can sit it out, take a moment to think about the Supreme Court justices that Donald Trump would nominate and what that would mean to civil liberties, equal rights and the future of our country.

    This election is about the thousands of young people I have met all over this country who have left college deeply in debt, and tragically the many others who cannot afford to go to college. During the primary campaign, Secretary Clinton and I both focused on this issue but with somewhat different approaches. Recently, however, we have come together on a proposal that will revolutionize higher education in America. It will guarantee that the children of any family this country with an annual income of $125,000 a year or less – 83 percent of our population – will be able to go to a public college or university tuition free. That proposal also substantially reduces student debt.

    This election is about climate change, the greatest environmental crisis facing our planet, and the need to leave this world in a way that is healthy and habitable for our kids and future generations. Hillary Clinton is listening to the scientists who tell us that – unless we act boldly and transform our energy system in the very near future – there will be more drought, more floods, more acidification of the oceans, more rising sea levels. She understands that when we do that we can create hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs.

    Donald Trump? Well, like most Republicans, he chooses to reject science. He believes that climate change is a “hoax,” no need to address it. Hillary Clinton understands that a president’s job is to worry about future generations, not the short-term profits of the fossil fuel industry.

    This campaign is about moving the United States toward universal health care and reducing the number of people who are uninsured or under-insured. Hillary Clinton wants to see that all Americans have the right to choose a public option in their health care exchange. She believes that anyone 55 years or older should be able to opt in to Medicare and she wants to see millions more Americans gain access to primary health care, dental care, mental health counseling and low-cost prescription drugs through a major expansion of community health centers.

    And What is Donald Trump’s position on health care? Well, no surprise there. Same old, same old Republican contempt for working families. He wants to abolish the Affordable Care Act, throw 20 million people off of the health insurance they currently have and cut Medicaid for lower-income Americans.

    Hillary Clinton also understands that millions of seniors, disabled vets and others are struggling with the outrageously high cost of prescription drugs and the fact that Americans pay the highest prices in the world for the medicine we use. She knows that Medicare must negotiate drug prices with the pharmaceutical industry and that drug companies should not be making billions in profits while one in five Americans are unable to afford the medicine they need. The greed of the drug companies must end.

    This election is about the leadership we need to pass comprehensive immigration reform and repair a broken criminal justice system. It’s about making sure that young people in this country are in good schools and at good jobs, not rotting in jail cells. Hillary Clinton understands that we have to invest in education and jobs for our young people, not more jails or incarceration.

    In these stressful times for our country, this election must be about bringing our people together, not dividing us up. While Donald Trump is busy insulting one group after another, Hillary Clinton understands that our diversity is one of our greatest strengths. Yes. We become stronger when black and white, Latino, Asian-American, Native American – when all of us – stand together. Yes. We become stronger when men and women, young and old, gay and straight, native born and immigrant fight together to create the kind of country we all know we can become.

    It is no secret that Hillary Clinton and I disagree on a number of issues. That’s what this campaign has been about. That’s what democracy is about. But I am happy to tell you that at the Democratic Platform Committee there was a significant coming together between the two campaigns and we produced, by far, the most progressive platform in the history of the Democratic Party. Among many, many other strong provisions, the Democratic Party now calls for breaking up the major financial institutions on Wall Street and the passage of a 21st Century Glass-Steagall Act. It also calls for strong opposition to job-killing free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
    We have got to make sure that the #TPP doesn’t get passed by Cogress during a lame-duck session.

    Our job now is to see that platform implemented by a Democratic Senate, a Democratic House and a Hillary Clinton presidency – and I am going to do everything I can to make that happen.

    I have known Hillary Clinton for 25 years. I remember her as a great first lady who broke precedent in terms of the role that a first lady was supposed to play as she helped lead the fight for universal health care. I served with her in the United States Senate and know her as a fierce advocate for the rights of children, for the women, and for the disabled.

    Hillary Clinton will make an outstanding president and I am proud to stand with her tonight.

    Thank you all very much.

    #USA #politique

  • A new Russian first lady? Putin is not saying - yet | Reuters

    Russian President Vladimir Putin lowered his guard a fraction about his private life on Thursday, saying he may one day tell the Russian people if he is in a romantic relationship.

    Since he divorced his wife Ludmila in 2013, rumors have swirled around Putin. One Russian newspaper report said he was in a relationship with Alina Kabaeva, a former Olympic gymnast, though Putin rejected the assertion.

    During a televised phone-in, an annual event where Putin fields questions from ordinary Russians, one woman asked Putin if he was going to re-marry.

    A visibly uncomfortable Putin avoided giving a direct answer, saying he believed Russians were more interested in his performance as president than they were in his private life.

    But at the end of his answer, he softened, saying: “Maybe one day I will be able to satisfy your curiosity.

    #VVP #courrier_du_cœur

  • Et pendant ce temps-là, en #Azerbaïdjan,…

    Azerbaijan : Aliyev Family, Friends Cruise Aboard SOCAR Super Yachts

    Le Prima

    Friends and family of President Ilham Aliyev make free use of two luxury yachts worth US$ 59 million that are owned by the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR), the organization charged with managing the country’s oil wealth for its citizens.
    That means the yachts deprive Azerbaijani citizens of about US$ 12 million per year in oil profits—the amount experts say such yachts typically cost to run. That’s in addition to the US$ 2,000 worth of fuel per hour that the yachts consume.
    It’s not the first time SOCAR has been so accommodating to the Aliyevs. The First Family previously used SOCAR to register their US$ 25 million London mansion.

    avec visite du Prima et du Sedation A, les 2 yachts en question.

    Yet another ex-crew member shed light on why the Aliyevs were seldom seen aboard Prima: on one occasion when Aliyev and his wife, Mehriban, were on board, the First Lady is said to have felt seasick and the presidential staff complained that the yacht was too small.

    During a short trip the wife felt sick and said that the boat was too small. So then her staff started to talk about buying a bigger boat, of 70 or 100 meters,” the crew member said.


  • Settlements, Iran and Hamas: Hillary Clinton’s Israel policy - Israel News, Ynetnews

    Settlements, Iran and Hamas: Hillary Clinton’s Israel policy
    After finally announcing her bid for the US presidency, Ynet takes a look back at Clinton’s positions on Israel, starting from her time as a first lady, then as a senator, until leading US foreign policy as secretary of state.
    Yitzhak Benhorin

  • President Aliyev meets Pope Francis - AzerNews

    Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and his spouse Mehriban Aliyeva have met head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis in the Vatican during an official visit.


    Mehriban Aliyeva meets Vatican’s Culture Minister - AzerNews

    Azerbaijan’s First Lady, Mehriban Aliyeva met with Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, Vatican’s Minister of Culture, during her visit to the Vatican on March 5.
    The minister hailed Aliyeva’s role in expanding bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and the Vatican.
    Ravasi lauded the humanitarian and cultural projects implemented between the two countries.
    He noted the first lady’s role toward the restoration and digitization of Roman catacombs as well as some rare manuscripts of the Vatican Apostolic Library, and implementation of other projects as an “important historic step of Muslim Azerbaijan.

    (quelques jours avant, c’était la culture, avec Madame. Sans foulard, mais toujours avec talons ?)

  • The Economist explains : Saudi Arabia’s dress code for women | The Economist


    COMMENTATORS, mainly non-Saudis, made a hullabaloo when Michelle Obama, America’s first lady, turned up in Saudi Arabia on January 27th in colourful, loose-fitting clothing and no headscarf. The oil-rich kingdom is known for its women being swathed in long, black cloaks known as abayas, usually paired with the hijab (headscarf) or niqab (which leaves a slit for the eyes), or a burqa (which covers the body from head to toe, with a mesh for the eyes). So what do women, Saudi and foreign, actually have to wear in Saudi Arabia?

    The key to understanding Saudi customs is the country’s history. When the modern nation was founded in 1932, it was based on an 18th-century pact between the ruling Al Saud monarchy and a devout bunch of clerics who followed a fiery version of Islam, dubbed Wahhabism (after its founder Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab). Ever since, Saudi Arabia’s laws have been based on this creed’s strict version of sharia, or Islamic law, which in reality incorporates many desert traditions that have been cloaked in Islam. The full covering for women is considered to be one of these customs. But today it is enforced by the religious police and zealous volunteers.

    #arabie_saoudite #michele_obama #droits_des_femmes #droits_humains

  • The Trials and Tribulations of #Simone_Gbagbo

    Simone Gbagbo, ex- First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire, is currently on trial in her home country. She faces charges of “undermining state security” during the post-electoral conflict of 2010-11. Although.....


  • The Rise of #Grace_Mugabe of #Zimbabwe

    Anybody watching political developments in Zimbabwe can’t miss First Lady Grace Mugabe’s entry into national #POLITICS as a presidential candidate. It is not uncommon that First Lady’s are part of.....

    #AFRICA_IS_A_COUNTRY #EDITORIAL #Joyce_Majuru #Robert_Mugabe

  • The Rise of #Grace_Mugabe of #Zimbabwe

    Anybody watching political developments in Zimbabwe can’t miss First Lady Grace Mugabe’s entry into national #POLITICS as a presidential candidate. It is not uncommon that First Lady’s are part of the political process, in fact engagement in politics is part of the First Lady’s job description. It is required that the wife of the president […]

    #EDITORIAL #Joyce_Majuru #Robert_Mugabe

  • Hilary Clinton 2016: A Recipe for Endless War? | Heroes and Villains

    Abby Martin calls out former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton over her lucrative speaking tour in the run up to the 2016 presidential elections as well as outlining the former first lady’s...

  • Syrians vote in presidential election


    Syrian President #Bashar_al-Assad watching on as his wife Asma casts her vote at a polling station in Maliki, a residential area in the centre of the capital Damascus, in the country’s presidential #Elections on June 3, 2014. (Photo: AFP-Official Facebook page of #syria's First Lady) Syrian President Bashar al-Assad watching on as his wife Asma casts her vote at a polling station in Maliki, a residential area in the centre of the capital Damascus, in the country’s presidential elections on June 3, 2014. (Photo: AFP-Official Facebook page of Syria’s First Lady)

    Syrians lined up outside polling centers around Syria on Tuesday to cast their ballots in a presidential election that Syria’s current President Bashar al-Assad is (...)


  • Comment un journal (ici Le Figaro) monnaye sa réputation à des institutions étrangères qui l’utilisent ensuite dans leur pays : Trend.Az http://en.trend.az/news/politics/2167340.html

    French authoritative Le Figaro Magazine prints article about Azerbaijani First Lady’s activity

    In connection with the Week of Azerbaijani Culture to be held in the city of Cannes of France within the international music festival, Le Figaro Magazine has printed an article entitled “Mehriban Aliyeva - an attractive ambassador”

    #azerbaïdjan #diplomatie_culturelle

  • Will Barack #Obama get a frosty reception when he visits South Africa this weekend?

    In a way, Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille’s decision to award US president Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama the Freedom of the City (Cape Town’s highest honor), sort of makes sense, if you stretch your imagination. The thinking behind it is captured in that iconic photo from 2009 of President Obama bending [...]

    #FEATURED #Latest #POLITICS #drones #Freedom_of_Cape_Town #NOBama #ObamainAfrica #University_of_Johannesburg

  • These dates in Gay History AUGUST 11, AUGUST 12, AUGUST 13, and AUGUST 14 « MasterAdrian’s Weblog

    These dates in Gay History AUGUST 11, AUGUST 12, AUGUST 13, and AUGUST 14
    October 11, 2012

    Gay Wisdom for Daily Living…

    from White Crane Institute
    Exploring Gay Wisdom
    & Culture for over 20 Years!


    AN ANNOUNCEMENT — Please bear with us today. You’ll see that we’re including not only today’s Gay Wisdom entry but this weekend’s too.
    This is one of those rare occasions when both of us are completely out of pocket the next few days. Family business calls for both of us this weekend and it’s callin’ early. So we didn’t want to leave you without your Gay Wisdom these next few days. We’ll see you on the other side of the weekend. Have a great one!

    This Weekend In Gay History
    THURSDAY, AUGUST 11, 2012
    National Coming Out Day

    Today is National Coming Out Day!
    If you’re not very out, try to come out to one person today that you haven’t already.

    Already “came out” you say? Well perhaps today could be seen as a day to tell the story.

    Try to find someone and share the story of how you came to discover, claim, and or celebrate who you really are. Those stories are important and we need to offer a space for folks to share them. Perhaps see if you can ask a Gay friend to tell you their story. Today’s just the day for telling our stories.

    This week is also ALLY WEEK.
    It’s the time to take a moment to thank our straight allies in the struggle for full equality.

    1884 - on this date ELEANOR ROOSEVELT, iconic First Lady of the United States, was born (d. 1952).

    One of the most influential non-elected American political leaders of the twentieth century who used her influence as an active First Lady from 1933 to 1945 to promote the New Deal policies of her husband, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as well as taking a prominent role as an advocate for civil rights and international cooperation. After FDR’s death in 1945, she continued to be an internationally prominent author and speaker for the New Deal coalition. She was a suffragist who worked to enhance the status of working women, although she opposed the Equal Rights Amendment because she believed it would adversely affect women. During the 1932 Presidential Campaign, Lorena Hickok of the Associated Press was assigned to cover Mrs. Roosevelt. At first the business relationship was rocky. Hickok didn’t believe it was worth the paper’s time and money to report on Mrs. Roosevelt, and Mrs. Roosevelt wasn’t happy about the intrusion on her privacy. Besides that, Mrs. Roosevelt came from a high class, aristocratic background, and Hickok came from a brash and rustic one. She was at home playing poker with the guys, smoking, and drinking. In time, their friendship became very close and intimate. Franklin D. Roosevelt didn’t seem to mind, as he was busy with his own romantic affairs.

    Due to the public nature of Mrs. Roosevelt’s life, she and Hickok were often separated. Even so, they wrote daily letters to each other. Roosevelt wrote ten to fifteen page letters daily to Hick for a time. In one Hickok writes: “Good night, dear one, I want to put my arms around you, and kiss you at the corner of your mouth. And in a little more than a week – I shall!” and Mrs. Roosevelt writes
    “Hick darling, All day I’ve thought about you & another birthday I will be with you & yet tonight you sounded so far away & formal. Oh! I want to put my arms around you. I ache to hold you close. Your ring is a great comfort. I look at it and think she does love me, or I wouldn’t be wearing it.”

    In 1941, Hickok moved into the White House with the Roosevelts when she took a post in Washington. Some of the passion between the two seems to have died by this point. Mrs. Roosevelt was not able to give Hickok as much from their relationship as she wanted, yet Hickok remained because at least they had something. They remained friends until Mrs. Roosevelt’s death in 1962. Hickok destroyed many of the letters Mrs. Roosevelt sent to her and edit personal references out of many others. Those that remain still hint at an intimate love between the two women.

    1918 - the American choreographer, JEROME ROBBINS, was born on this date (d. 1998). Among the numerous stage productions he worked on were On The Town, High Button Shoes, The King and I, The Pajama Game, Bells Are Ringing, West Side Story, Gypsy: A Musical Fable and Fiddler on the Roof. For much of his life, Robbins pursued a career in both ballet and Broadway theater. He lived in a world of like-minded collaborators, most of whom were his age, Jewish, New Yorkers, leftist and — among the men Gay.

    1926 - today’s the birthday of American stage, television, and film actor EARLE HYMAN.

    Born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina Hyman is best known for his recurring role on The Cosby Show as Cliff’s father, Russell Huxtable.

    He made his Broadway stage debut as a teenager in 1943 in Run, Little Chillun, and later joined the American Negro Theater. The following year, Hyman began a two year run playing the role of Rudolf on Broadway in Anna Lucasta. He was a member of the American Shakespeare Theatre beginning with its first season in 1955, and played the role of Othello in the 1957 season.

    In 1959 he appeared in the West End in the first London production of A Raisin In the Sun alongside Kim Hamilton. The show ran at the Adelphi Theatre and was directed again by Lloyd Richards.

    Throughout his career, Hyman has appeared in productions in both the United States and Norway (he is fluent in Norwegian) where he also owns a home on Norway’s west coast and an apartment in Oslo. In 1965, won a Theatre World Award and in 1988, he was awarded the St Olav’s medal for his work in Norwegian theater.

    In addition to his stage work, Hyman has appeared in various television and film roles including adaptions of Macbeth (1968),Julius Caesar (1979), and Coriolanus (1979), and voiced Panthro on the animated television series ThunderCats (1985-1990). One of his most well known roles, that of Russell Huxtable in The Cosby Show, earned him an Emmy Award nomination in 1986 where he played the father of lead character Cliff Huxtable, played by actor Bill Cosby despite only being 11 years senior to Cosby.

    1947 - today’s the birthday of SHERIFF LUPE VALDEZ. Valdez is an Latino-American law enforcement official and the Sheriff of Dallas County, Texas. She is Texas’s only elected female sheriff, as well as being the only openly Lesbian holder of that office. Her election in 2004, combined with the fact that Valdez is female, Hispanic and a lesbian, made national headlines and was even reported overseas. She immediately faced opposition by the “good old boys” in the department who resented her election and her commitments to reforming the department.

    In 2008, Valdez was re-elected Sheriff of Dallas County with 388,327 votes to her opponent’s 322,808 votes, a margin of roughly 65,500. Valdez received over 99,000 more votes than the “Straight Democratic” option as many described it during the race. She won in precincts across Dallas County, including formerly-Republican areas including Irving and Mesquite. Her opponent won most precincts in far North Dallas, Richardson, Coppell, and the southern part of Irving. She began her second four-year term in 2009.

    1963 - on this date the French writer and artists JEAN COCTEAU died (b. 1889). He was many things: poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, boxing manager and filmmaker. His versatile, unconventional approach and enormous output brought him international acclaim. In his early twenties, Cocteau became associated with Marcel Proust, Andre Gide, and Maurice Barr s. The Russian ballet-master Sergei Diaghilev challenged Cocteau to write for the ballet – “Astonish me,” he urged. This resulted in Parade which was produced by Diaghilev, designed by Pablo Picasso, and composed by Erik Satie in 1917.

    Cocteau is best known for Les enfants terrible the 1929 play, Les parent terribles the 1948 film, and the 1946 film, Beauty and the Beast.

    Cocteau died of a heart attack at his chateau in Milly-la-Foret, only hours after hearing of the death of his friend, the French singer Edith Piaf. He is buried in the garden of his home in Milly La Foret, Essonne, France. The epitaph reads: “I stay among you.”

    1987 - The Second National March on Washington For Lesbian and Gay Rights. More than a half million people (between 500,000 and 650,000, according to organizers) descended on the capital to participate in the second national March on Washington. Many of the marchers were angry over the government’s slow and inadequate response to the AIDS crisis, as well as the Supreme Court’s 1986 decision to uphold sodomy laws in Bowers v. Hardwick.

    With the first display of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt, the 1987 march succeeded in bringing national attention to the impact of AIDS on Gay communities. In the shadow of the U.S. Capitol, a tapestry of nearly two thousand fabric panels offered a powerful tribute to the lives of some of those who had been lost in the pandemic. It was the first time the quilts were displayed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. It covered a space larger than a football field and included 1,920 panels. Half a million people visited the Quilt that weekend.

    The overwhelming response to the Quilt’s inaugural display led to a four-month, 20-city, national tour for the Quilt in the spring of 1988. The tour raised nearly $500,000 for hundreds of AIDS service organizations. More than 9,000 volunteers across the country helped the seven-person traveling crew move and display the Quilt. Local panels were added in each city, tripling the Quilt’s size to more than 6,000 panels by the end of the tour.

    The march also called attention to anti-Gay discrimination, as approximately 800 people were arrested in front of the Supreme Court two days later in the largest civil disobedience action ever held in support of the rights of Lesbians, Gay men, Bisexuals, and Transgender people.

    The 1987 March on Washington also sparked the creation of what became known as BiNet U.S.A. and the National Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Organization (LLEGO), the first national groups for Bisexuals and GLBTQ Latinas and Latinos, respectively. Prior to the march, Bisexual activists circulated a flyer entitled “Are You Ready for a National Bisexual Network?” that encouraged members of the community to be part of the first Bisexual contingent in a national demonstration. Approximately 75 Bisexuals from across the U. S. participated and began laying the groundwork for an organization that could speak to the needs of bi-identified people and counter the animus against Bisexuals that was commonplace in both Lesbian and Gay communities and the dominant society.

    By 1987, Latino GLBTQ activists from Los Angeles, Houston, Austin, and elsewhere had been meeting for two years, discussing ways to work together to further the basic rights and visibility of GLBTQ Latinas and Latinos. But with AIDS having a disproportionate impact on Latino GLBTQ communities throughout the United States, the activists recognized the need for a national organization and met at the March on Washington to form what was then called NLLGA, National Latina/o Lesbian and Gay Activists. Renaming themselves LLEGO the following year, the group has since expanded to address issues of concern to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Latinas and Latinos in other countries.

    Along with the formation of new national groups, the most lasting effects of the weekend’s events were felt on the local level. Energized and inspired by the march, many activists returned home and established social and political groups in their own communities, providing even greater visibility and strength to the struggle for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender rights. The date of the march, October 11th, has been celebrated internationally ever since as National Coming Out Day to inspire members of the GLBTQ community to continue to show, as one of the common march slogans proclaimed, “we are everywhere.”

    Speakers at the rally included former National Organization for Women president Eleanor Smeal, union president and Latino civil rights figure Cesar Chavez, actor and comedian Whoopi Goldberg, and activist Jesse Jackson.

    FRIDAY, AUGUST 12, 2012
    Today is NATIONAL COMING OUT DAY in the United Kingdom.

    Today’s also FREETHOUGHT DAY, the annual observance by freethinkers and secularists of the anniversary of the effective end of the Salem Witch Trials. The seminal event connected to Freethought Day is a letter written by then Massachusetts Governor William Phips in which he wrote to the Privy Council of the British monarchs, William and Mary, on this day in 1692. In this correspondence he outlined the quagmire that the trials had degenerated into, in part by a reliance on “evidence” of a non-objective nature and especially “spectral evidence” in which the accusers claimed to see devils and other phantasms consorting with the accused.

    1875 – on this date the English occultist and author ALEISTER CROWLEY was born (d. 1947).
    Crowley is best known today for his occult writings, especially The Book of The Law, the central sacred text of “Thelema,” an initially fictional philosophy of life first described by Francois Rabelais (16th century) in his famous books, Gargantua andPantagruel. Other interests and accomplishments were wide-ranging — he was a chess player, mountain climber, poet, painter, astrologer, hedonist, drug experimenter, and social critic. Crowley was a highly prolific writer, not only on the topic of Thelema and magick, but on philosophy, politics, and culture. He left behind a countless number of personal letters and daily journal entries. He self-published many of his books, expending the majority of his inheritance to disseminate his views.

    Within the subject of occultism Crowley wrote widely, penning commentaries on magick, the Tarot, Yoga, Qabalah, astrology, and numerous other subjects. He also wrote a Thelemic interpolation of the Tao Te Ching, based on earlier English translations since he knew little or no Chinese. Like the Golden Dawn mystics before him, Crowley evidently sought to comprehend the entire human religious and mystical experience in a single philosophy.

    Crowley gained wide notoriety during his lifetime, and was infamously dubbed “The Wickedest Man In the World.” There is little wiggle room with Crowley. Either you consider him to be nuts, bonkers, loony, albeit brilliant, fascinating and perhaps a touch of con-man – or you are completely in his thrall. Much depends on how you feel about his central thesis: Do whatever you wish. No wonder he was so popular in the 1960s. Crowley also wrote fiction, including plays and later novels, most of which have not received significant notice outside of occult circles. In his The Book of Lies, the title to chapter 69 is given as “The Way to Succeed – and the Way to Suck Eggs!” a pun, as the chapter concerns the 69 sex position as a mystical act.

    Largely despicable, and larger than life, the hashish-smoking, yoga-practicing, occult-preaching, self-described religious prophet probably would do even better today. The man knew how to cause a stir. To say he slept around is to practice understatement that borders on the naive. He was an outspoken racist an anti-Semite and sexist. To give the reader a sense of his contradictory and maddening character, Crowley, according to his biographer, Lawrence Sutin, used racial epithets and brutal verbal attacks to bully his Jewish lover Victor Neuburg. And while he slept with men, women, and virtually anything that moved, his background was distinctly pederastic. His writings reveal this nature with, for example, a poem beginning “I was bumming a boy in the black-out…” Known his whole life for a cutting wit, once, when a woman asked him which American college would be most suitable for her daughter he replied, “Radclyffe Hall.”

    1942 - the gay rights advocate and author ARTHUR EVANS was born on this date (d. 2011). Born in York, Pennsylvania, Evans was most well known for his book Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture (1978).

    When Evans graduated from public high school in 1960, he received a four-year scholarship from the Glatfelter Paper Company in York to study chemistry at Brown University. While at Brown, Evans and several friends founded the Brown Freethinkers Society, describing themselves as ‘militant atheists’ seeking to combat the harmful effects of organized religion.

    The society picketed the weekly chapel services at Brown, then required of all students, and urged students to stand in silent protest against compulsory prayer. National news services picked up the story, which appeared in a local York newspaper.

    As a result, the paper company informed Evans that his scholarship was cancelled. Evans contacted Joseph Lewis, the elderly millionaire who headed the national Freethinkers Society. Lewis threatened the paper company with a highly publicized lawsuit if the scholarship were revoked. The company relented, the scholarship continued, and Evans changed his major from chemistry to political science.

    Evans withdrew from Brown and moved to Greenwich Village, which he later described it as the best move he ever made in his life. In 1963, Evans discovered gay life in Greenwich Village, and in 1964 became lovers with Arthur Bell who later became a columnist for The Village Voice. In 1966, Evans was admitted to City College of New York, which accepted all his credits from Brown University.

    Evans participated in his first sit-in in 1966, when students occupied the administration building of City College in protest against the college’s involvement in Selective Service. A picture of the students, including Evans, appeared on the front page of The New York Times. In 1967, after graduating with a BA degree from City College, Evans was admitted into the doctoral program in philosophy at Columbia University, specializing in ancient Greek philosophy. His doctoral advisor was Paul Oskar Kristeller, one of the world’s leading authority on Renaissance humanist philosophy. Kristeller had studied under Karl Jaspers and Martin Heidegger in Germany but fled to the US after his parents were killed in the Holocaust.

    Evans participated in many anti-war protests during these years, including the celebrated upheaval at Columbia in the spring of 1968. He also participated in the protests at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. While at Columbia, Evans joined the Student Homophile League, founded by Nino Romano and Stephen Donaldson, although Evans himself was still closeted. On December 21, 1969, Evans, Marty Robinson, and several others met to found the early gay rights group Gay Activists Alliance.

    In November 1970, Robinson and Evans, along with Dick Leitsch of the Mattachine Society, appeared on The Dick Cavett Show, making them among the first openly gay activists to be prominently featured on a national TV program. In 1971, Evans and Bell separated. Bell died from complications of diabetes in 1984.

    By the end of 1971, Evans had become alienated from urban life and the academic world. With a second lover, Jacob Schraeter, he left New York in April 1972 to seek a new, countercultural existence in the countryside.

    Evans, Schraeter, and a third gay man formed a group called the ‘Weird Sisters Partnership’. They bought a 40-acre spread of land on a mountain in Washington State, which they named New Sodom. Evans and Schraeter lived there in tents during summers. During winter months in Seattle, Evans continued research that he had begun in New York on the underlying historical origins of the counterculture, particularly in regard to sex. In 1973, he began publishing some of his findings in the gay journal Outand later in Fag Rag. He also wrote a column on the political strategy of zapping for The Advocate, the gay newspaper.

    In 1974, Evans and Schraeter moved into an apartment at the corner of Haight and Ashbury Streets in San Francisco, in which Evans remained until he died. Schraeter returned to New York in 1981 and died from AIDS in 1989.

    In the fall of the 1975, Evans formed a new pagan-inspired spiritual group in San Francisco, the Faery Circle. The Circle combined countercultural consciousness, gay sensibility, and ceremonial playfulness. In early 1976, he gave a series of public lectures at 32 Page Street, an early San Francisco gay community center, entitled ‘Faeries’, on his research on the historical origins of the gay counterculture. In 1978 he published this material in his ground-breaking book Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture. It demonstrated that many of the people accused of ‘witchcraft’ and ‘heresy’ in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance were actually persecuted because of their sexuality and ancient pagan practices.

    Evans also was active in Bay Area Gay Liberation (BAGL) and the San Francisco Gay Democratic Club, which later became the vehicle through which Harvey Milk rose to political prominence.

    In the late 1970s, Evans became upset at the pattern of butch conformity that was then overtaking gay men in the Castro. Adopting the nom de plume ‘The Red Queen’, he distributed a series of controversial satirical leaflets on the subject. In a leaflet entitled Afraid You’re Not Butch Enough? (1978) he facetiously referred to the new, butch-conforming men of the Castro as clones, initiating use of the now widely used term ‘Castro clones’.

    In 1984 Evans directed a production at the Valencia Rose Cabaret in San Francisco of his own new translation, from ancient Greek, of the Euripides play The Bacchae. The hero of Euripides’ play is the Greek god Dionysos, the patron of homosexuality. In 1988, this translation, with Evans’ commentary on the historical significance of the play, was published by St. Martin’s Press in under the name of The God of Ecstasy.

    As AIDS began to spread in 1980s, Evans became active in several groups that later became ACT UP/SF. Evans was HIV-negative. With his close friend, the late Hank Wilson, Evans was arrested while demonstrating against pharmaceutical companies making AIDS drugs, accusing the companies of price-gouging.

    In 1988, Evans began work on a nine-year project on philosophy. Thanks to a grant from the San Francisco Arts Commission, it was published in 1997 as Critique of Patriarchal Reason and included artwork by San Francisco artist Frank Pietronigro. The book was an overview of Western philosophy from ancient times to the present, showing how misogyny and homophobia have influenced the supposedly objective fields of formal logic, higher mathematics, and physical science. Evans’ former advisor at Columbia University, Dr. Kristeller, called the work ‘a major contribution to the study of philosophy and its history’.

    Diagnosed in October 2010 with an aortic aneurysm, Evans died in his Haight-Ashbury apartment of a massive heart attack on 11 September 2011.

    1946 - today’s the birthday of U.S. educator, activist, and award-winning poet, essayist, and theorist MINNIE BRUCE PRATT.

    Pratt was born in Selma, Alabama, grew up in Centreville, Alabama and graduated with honors from the University of Alabama and received a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of North Carolina. She is a Professor of Writing and Women’s Studies at Syracuse University where she was invited to help develop the university’s first Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender Study Program. She emerged out of the women’s liberation movement in the 1970s and 1980s and has written extensively about race, class, gender and sexual theory. Pratt, along with Lesbian writers Chrystos and Audre Lorde, received a Lillian Hellman-Dashiell Hammett award from the Fund for Free Expression, an award given to writers “who have been victimized by political persecution.” Pratt, Chrystos and Lorde were chosen because their experience as “a target of right-wing and fundamentalist forces during the recent attacks on the National Endowment for the Arts.” Her political affiliations include the International Action Center, the National Women’s Fightback Network, and the National Writers Union. She is a contributing editor to Workers World newspaper. Pratt’s partner is author and activist Leslie Feinberg.

    Her latest book, Inside the Money Machine is one of the best new books of poetry to come out this year.

    1971 - the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs recommends the repeal of a city law banning homosexuals from working in or going to bars.

    1998 - MATTHEW SHEPARD died on this date (b. 1976). Shepard was an openly Gay American student at the University of Wyoming who as we noted last weekend, was attacked near Laramie, on the night of October 6th in what was widely reported by international news media as a savage beating because of his sexuality. Shepard died from severe head injuries at Poudre Valley Hospital in Fort Collins, Colorado, on October 12, 1998. His murder brought national attention to the issue of hate crime legislation at the state and federal levels. His two assailants were convicted of the crime and imprisoned. One is currently serving two consecutive life sentences and the other is serving the same but without the possibility of parole. After his death, Shepard’s parents became full-time advocates for the passage of hate crime legislation that would include sexual orientation.

    The Matthew Shepard Act (officially the “Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act”), was a bill in the United States Congress that expanded the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. After years of attempting to pass the act, on October 22, 2009, the act was passed by the Senate by a largely party line vote with Republicans opposing the Act and Democrats supporting it. During debate in the House of Representatives, Republican Representative Virginia Foxx of North Carolina called the “hate crime” labeling of Shepard’s murder a “hoax.” Shepard’s mother was said to be in the House gallery when the congresswoman made this comment. President Obama signed the measure into law on October 28, 2009. Proving once again that elections do matter.

    SATURDAY, AUGUST 13, 2012

    1307 - on this date – Friday, October 13, 1307 (a date sometimes linked with the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition) the French king Philip IV ordered all French TEMPLARS to be arrested. The Templars were charged with numerous heresies and tortured to extract false confessions of blasphemy. The trials were based on these confessions, despite having been obtained under duress, caused a scandal in Paris. After more bullying from Philip, Pope Clement then issued the bill Pastoralis Praeeminentiae on November 22, 1307, which instructed all Christian monarchs in Europe to arrest all Templars and seize their assets.
    Brian Lacey, in his wonderful book Terrible Queer Creatures: Homosexuality In Irish History writes about the use of same sex male relations in the purging of the Order of the Knights Templar.

    The respect for same-sex male relationships, which Lacey paints as characteristic of the pre-Christian era in Ireland and which carried over well into the Christian epoch, began to wane as the power of the Catholic Church grew. The first known homosexual purge in Ireland concerned the Order of Knights Templar, established in Ireland in the 1170s under the auspices of the English King Henry II.

    The purge had its origins in the desire of the impoverished 14th century French King Philip le Bel (the Fair) to get his hands on the Templars’ wealth. Philip engineered the election of the bishop of Bordeaux to become Pope Clement V on condition that he put an end to the Templars, and Clement duly set up an inquisition in which allegations of homosexuality against the knights were in the foreground. “They were said to have included homosexual acts in their private rituals and to have insisted on sexual intercourse with new recruits,” Lacey wrote. “It is an indication of the negative feelings against homosexuality in that period that this could be made as one of the principal charges against such a powerful institution.”

    The homosexual English King Edward II was ordered by Pope Clement and pressured by the French monarch to seize the Templars’ extensive holdings in Ireland, and the Irish Knights Templar were arrested en masse in February 1308. The inquisition opened its trial of the Irish Templars in January 1310 at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin. While only a few of the Knights confessed to the charges of sodomy, the order was abolished and much of its property expropriated.

    1929 - today’s the birthday of distinguished American poet, literary critic, essayist, teacher, and translator RICHARD HOWARD.

    He was born in Cleveland, Ohio and is a graduate of Columbia University, where he now teaches. He lives in New York City. Howard had a brief early career as a lexicographer. He soon turned his attention to poetry and poetic criticism. He has won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, the PEN Translation Prize, and the American Book Award. Howard was a long-time poetry editor of The Paris Review and is currently poetry editor of The Western Humanities Review. A former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, he is Professor of Practice in the writing program at Columbia’s School of the Arts.

    In 1982, Howard was named a Chevalier of L’Ordre National du Mérite by the government of France

    1966 - the American actor, dancer and singer CLIFTON WEBB died on this date (b. 1889). He was best known for his Oscar-nominated roles in such films as Laura, The Razor’s Edge, and Sitting Pretty. In the theatrical world he was known for his appearances in the plays of Noël Coward, notably Blithe Spirit.

    The never married Webb lived with his mother until her death at age ninety-one in 1960, leading Coward to remark, apropos Webb’s grieving, “It must be terrible to be orphaned at 71.”

    Actor Robert Wagner, who co-starred with Webb in the movies Stars and Stripes Forever and Titanic and considered the actor one of his mentors, stated in his memoirs, Pieces of My Heart: A Life, that “Clifton Webb was gay, of course, but he never made a pass at me, not that he would have.”

    1967 - today’s the birthday of ARTURO BRACHETTI, the Italian transformation artist and director, born in Turin. In theGuinness Book of Records 2006 and 2007, he is described as the fastest quick change artist in the world. Quick-change is a performance style in which a performer or magician changes quickly within seconds from one costume into another costume in front of the audience.

    You can watch him in action on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4XUvWwaPFI

    SUNDAY, AUGUST 14, 2012

    1856 – the French Victorian writer VERNON LEE was born on this date. Also known as Violet Paget, she was responsible for introducing the concept of “empathy” (Einfühling) into the English language. Empathy was a key concept in Lee’s psychological aesthetics which she developed on the basis of prior work by Theodor Lipps. Her response to aesthetics interpreted art as a mental and corporeal experience. This was a significant contribution to the philosophy of art which has been largely neglected. She fell in love with three women in succession, and fully expected, being the Victorian she was, to live out her life with each of them, falling swooning into her fainting bed each time the friendship ended. She kept a faded portrait of her first love over her bed. Her second love announced her marriage to (horrors!) a Jew, which required liberal application of smelling salts and her third simply drifted away.

    1888 – the New Zealand born author KATHERINE MANSFIELD was born on this date.

    Considered to be the British Chekhov and her quiet stories are painful commentaries on the inadequacy of human relationships. Although she had many affairs with men and was married to John Middleton Murry, her diaries and letters reveal her to have been a Lesbian, and a troubled one at that, with a “slave” by the name of Ida Baker.

    1959 - the swashbuckling acting legend ERROL FLYNN died on this date (b. 1909).

    1977 - on this date Minneapolis Gay rights activist THOM HIGGINS threw a banana cream a pie into the face of Anita Bryant during a news conference in Des Moines, Iowa. The former beauty queen (Bryant) was in the middle of a nationwide campaign to criminalize Gay behavior and overturn the few Gay rights ordinances in the country.

    1979 - The First Gay Rights March On Washington D.C. was held on this date and called for “an end to all social, economic, judicial, and legal oppression of Lesbian and Gay people.” Marking the tenth anniversary of the Stonewall riots and coming in the wake of the lenient jail sentence given to Dan White for the assassination of openly Gay San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk, the First National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights on October 14, 1979 was an historic event that drew more than 200,000 people from across the United States and ten other countries.

    In the wake of the Milk/Moscone assassinations, the Anita Bryant campaign to roll back protections extended to sexual orientation, and years of community building around the nation, the support for a massive demonstration in the nation’s capital grew. There were strong reservations on the part of those who worried that anything less than massive numbers would negate the demonstration and undermine political activism. However, by the late summer of 1979 it was clear that the March would be a large media event. Locally, the National Coalition of Black Gays and the DC Coalition of Black Gays supported the March from the beginning.

    Both groups were also involved in planning and holding the first Third World Conference, held at Harambee House on Georgia Avenue. The Third World Conference concluded with a march by persons of color down Georgia Avenue to the Mall where they joined the March on Washington. This walk down Georgia Avenue was the first public demonstration by Lesbians and Gays in the heart of the African-American areas of the city.

    The plans for the 1979 March were determinedly more inclusive of persons of color and the Transgendered. The souvenir booklet for the March includes an article by Jim Kepner summarizing GLBT activism leading to the March and an article by Brandy Moore detailing the preparations for the March. Speakers included Richard Ashworth and Adele Starr (PFLAG) Marion Berry (then D.C. mayor), S.F. Councilman Harry Britt, Lesbian feminist theorist, Charlotte Bunch, poet Alan Ginsberg, activists Flo Kennedy, Morris Kight, poet and activist Audre Lorde, musicians, Robin Tyler and Tom Robinson, Leonard Matlovich, Arthur McCombs (Gay Atheist League), feminist theorist Kate Millett, Rev. Troy Perry (listed as a “cameo” appearance”!), Juanita Ramos (Comite Homosexual Latinamericano), Betty Santoro (NY Spokeswoman for Lesbian Feminist Liberation), Eleanor Smeal (N.O.W.) and labor activist, Howard Wallace. Recordings of speeches, including Audre Lorde’s keynote address to the masses on the Washington Mall, and Alan Ginsberg reading his poetry and warning Congress can be heard here:http://www.rainbowhistory.org/mow79.htm And a wonderful collection of photos from the events can be seen here:http://www.queermusicheritage.us/march79.html

    1990 – LEONARD BERNSTEIN, the American composer and conductor, died on this date (b. 1918)

    2006 – on this date the Democratic Congressman from Massachusetts GERRY STUDDS died on this date (b. 1937).

    Community Notices

    For great conversations and more material about the people and events we feature each day!

  • French President’s Residence ‘Busted’ For BitTorrent Piracy | TorrentFreak

    Located near the Champs-Élysées in the French capital, Paris, the Élysée Palace is the official residence of President Sarkozy. As husband of ‘first lady’ and musician Carla Bruni, Sarkozy has helped promote and push through some of the toughest anti-filesharing legislation to be found anywhere in Europe.

    Those provisions include Internet disconnections for persistent pirates, and as of October this year 60 French Internet subscribers were on their third and final strike.

    This morning, however, we’re left wondering if Sarkozy, his family and French ministers will be able to answer any emails in the months to come.

    As reported to TorrentFreak this morning by Nicolas Perrier of Nikopik, people using IP addresses allocated to the Élysée Palace ( – have been very naughty indeed.

  • Obama Jumps on the Homebrew Bandwagon | Death and Taxes

    President Obama and the First Lady began a program to cultivate better eating in America through example. Now they’re raising the bar—through better drinking. At the president’s Super Bowl party this year, guests were treated to a homebrewed White House Honey Ale, which was made on premise by the staff chefs.