Archive | March, 2012

Celine Dion gives Winslet upset stomach

30 Mar


“I wish I could say, ‘Oh listen, everybody! It’s the Celine Dion song!’ But I don’t, I just have to sit there, you know, kind of straight-faced with a massive internal eye roll. [It makes me] feel like throwing up. It’s thrilling for people to surprise me with the Celine Dion song.”

Kate Winslet

China’s death row interview show a hot format for American TV?

30 Mar


The lovely Ding Yu interviews a man about to die

Considering how fond so many Americans are of capital punishment (you know they’d bring their picnic baskets to public executions if they could, kids in tow to enjoy this family-friendly entertainment), I imagine this kind of show would have monster ratings here. Unfortunately, it’s been canceled in China. Can syndication on the new no-gays LOGO be far behind?

From The New York Times:

Until it was taken off the air last December, one of the most popular television programs in China’s Henan province, which has a population of 100 million, was “Interviews Before Execution.” The presenter was Ding Yu, a pretty young woman, always carefully dressed with colorful scarves and blouses; in each episode, she would interview on camera a condemned murderer who was about to face a firing squad or a lethal injection.

While Beijing has long been known for its use of capital punishment, the practice has usually been kept out of official media apart from exceptional cases. For some years, the Chinese government has been charged by Amnesty International and other human rights groups with having executed thousands of people—far more than all other countries combined, according to human rights groups. (Iran is a distant second, although with its far smaller population it has a higher per capita death rate, followed by Yemen and the United States.) There are 55 different crimes (recently reduced from 68), ranging from tax evasion to unspecified “crimes against the state,” that now qualify as capital offenses. The number of people executed for committing these crimes is a state secret.

With Ding Yu’s five years of interviews, however, capital punishment was brought directly into Chinese homes—and with government endorsement. As theBBC explained in its airing of a recent Chinese-made talk show about the program that will soon air on PBS, the channel on which it appeared is supervised by the state; the State Propaganda Department and the judges who handed down the sentences also had to approve each program. The interviews were launched in 2006, and there were over 200 in the program’s five-year run. Of the 55 capital crimes, Ding Yu chose only clear-cut cases of murder: out of over 200 condemned murderers only five refused to be interviewed. She claims most wanted to have their say. Her director says, smiling, “If you feed someone a banana, they will follow you.”

NYC soon to add Sixth-and-a-Half Avenue

29 Mar


Or is that Avenue of the North Americas?

From the New York Times:
First came the bike lanes, creeping like overgrown ivy across the city streetscape.


Then there were the open-air pedestrian plazas, sprouting from the concrete in hubs like Times Square and Union Square to make the insufferable clamor of crosstown traffic a little less so.

Now, by summer, New Yorkers may find themselves in the throes of the Bloomberg administration’s latest roadside intervention: between-avenue stop signs, speed humps and pedestrian crossings along six blocks in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, forging what some have dubbed Sixth-and-a-Half Avenue.

The Transportation Department plans to connect the public plazas and arcades that run from 51st to 57th Streets, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, creating a quarter-mile walkway through open-access lobbies and canopied spaces between office buildings that offers refuge from the tumult of the city’s main arteries.

Though midblock pedestrian crossings do exist elsewhere in the city, most notably near Rockefeller Center, the proposed stretch is on track to become Midtown’s only extended thoroughfare governed by an authority more often found in the suburbs: the stop sign.

For years, the passageway, linked by a series of privately owned public spaces, has been an open secret among the area’s inhabitants, presenting perhaps the most tantalizing jaywalking opportunity in the city. Residents can finish off a lunchtime sirloin at the Capital Grille on West 51st Street, take in a movie at the Ziegfeld Theater three blocks north and retire to West 57th Street for drinks at the Russian Tea Room without ever setting foot on an avenue. Soon, it seems, they will be able to do so legally.

NYC soon to add Sixth-and-a-Half Avenue

29 Mar


Or is that Avenue of the North Americas?

From the New York Times:
First came the bike lanes, creeping like overgrown ivy across the city streetscape.


Then there were the open-air pedestrian plazas, sprouting from the concrete in hubs like Times Square and Union Square to make the insufferable clamor of crosstown traffic a little less so.

Now, by summer, New Yorkers may find themselves in the throes of the Bloomberg administration’s latest roadside intervention: between-avenue stop signs, speed humps and pedestrian crossings along six blocks in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, forging what some have dubbed Sixth-and-a-Half Avenue.

The Transportation Department plans to connect the public plazas and arcades that run from 51st to 57th Streets, between Sixth and Seventh Avenues, creating a quarter-mile walkway through open-access lobbies and canopied spaces between office buildings that offers refuge from the tumult of the city’s main arteries.

Though midblock pedestrian crossings do exist elsewhere in the city, most notably near Rockefeller Center, the proposed stretch is on track to become Midtown’s only extended thoroughfare governed by an authority more often found in the suburbs: the stop sign.

For years, the passageway, linked by a series of privately owned public spaces, has been an open secret among the area’s inhabitants, presenting perhaps the most tantalizing jaywalking opportunity in the city. Residents can finish off a lunchtime sirloin at the Capital Grille on West 51st Street, take in a movie at the Ziegfeld Theater three blocks north and retire to West 57th Street for drinks at the Russian Tea Room without ever setting foot on an avenue. Soon, it seems, they will be able to do so legally.

As-Salamu Rainbow: gay-friendly mosques led by women look for change

29 Mar

From the Huffington Post:

At first, the devout Muslims who gathered in a Washington, D.C., conference center seemed like they could have come from any mosque. There were women in headscarves and bearded men who quoted the Quran.

But something was different. While mingling over hors d’oeuvres, they discussed how to change Islam’s future. A woman spoke about fighting terrorism; she had married outside the Islamic faith, which is forbidden for a Muslim woman. A Pakistani man mentioned his plans to meet friends for drinks, despite the faith’s ban on alcohol.

In a corner of the room, an imam in a long gray tunic counseled a young Muslim with a vexing spiritual conflict: being gay and Muslim. The imam, also gay and in a relationship, could easily sympathize with the youth’s difficulties.

On this brisk Monday night in late October, members of Muslims for Progressive Values, a nascent American reformist organization, had gathered from around the country to celebrate a milestone: In four years, the group had grown from a few friends to a thousand members and spawned a string of small mosques and spiritual groups that stretched from Atlanta to Los Angeles.

Today, as America’s Muslim leaders debate controversial topics like political radicalism inside mosques and states’ attempts to ban Shariah law, this growing network of alternative mosques and Islamic groups is quietly forging a new spiritual movement.

Children successfully recruited by NOM to denounce their gay parents

29 Mar

Do not look directly at them! I repeat, do not look directly at them!

“To me the most striking detail was that NOM had budgeted $120,000 for a project to locate children of gay households willing to denounce their parents on camera.

Whenever I hear NOM described as “pro-family” from now on, I will think of that fact.”

– Walter Olson (Independent Gay Forum)

Dolphins bisexual: now we know why they called him Flipper

29 Mar

From FoxDC.com:

NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. – Male dolphins conduct intense social relationships and are found to engage in extensive bisexuality, according to US scientists.

Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth studied more than 120 bottlenose dolphins in Shark Bay, Western Australia, and found their relationships were more complex than previously thought.

The creatures engaged in extensive bisexuality, combined with periods of exclusive homosexuality, co-author Richard Connor told Discovery News.

“I work on the male dolphins and their social lives are very intense; it seems there is constant drama,” he said. “I have often thought, as I watched their complicated alliance relationships, that their social lives would be mentally and physically exhausting, and I’m glad I’m not a dolphin.”

His team found that the dolphins also pair-up, or swim in groups of three, to herd individual females during the mating season.

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