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Islamic State (ISIS) savages behead three Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers

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If you are still invested in the real estate of European cities, get out! A terrorist attack with chemical weapons will happen. There will be hoards of people who won't want to live in urban centers.

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First head transplant successfully carried out on monkey, claims surgeon

A surgeon claims to have carried out the first head transplant on a monkey ahead of plans to attempt the controversial procedure on a human by the end of next year.

Italian Professor Sergio Canavero, Director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group and researchers at Harbin Medical University in China posted pictures of the creature whose head appears to have been grafted onto the body of another animal.

Stitches can clearly be seen surrounding the neck, which looked to be entirely severed.

According to Prof Canavero, the team led by Xiaoping Ren, connected the blood supply to prove that the animal could survive without suffering brain injury. They have not yet attempted to join the spinal cords so if the animal survived it would be completely paralysed.

“The monkey fully survived the procedure without any neurological injury of whatever kind,” says Prof Canavero, but said it was only kept alive for only 20 hours after the procedure for ethical reasons.

Ren has also tested some experiments on human corpses.

“We’ve done a pilot study testing some ideas about how to prevent injury,” he said.

The experiments are reported in a set of seven papers which are due to be published in the journals Surgery and CNS Neuroscience and Therapeutics.

The papers also claim to have shown that spine fusion technology developed by Canavero ‘has a strong rationale’ and works in mice allowing them to recover motor function. The team claims that crucial nerve fibers regrew.

A press release ahead of the publication said: “A full monkey head transplant has been successfully accomplished by Prof Ren’s group in China with the goal of testing cross-circulation and hypothermia as an effective neuroprotective strategy.

“The first studies on human cadavers have already begun in China and will be expanded shortly.

"The plan for the first human head transplant is on schedule, towards its expected date of realization, Christmas 2017. “

Canavero shocked the world last year when he said that he would be ready to transplant a human head within two years. He wants the first patient to be 31-year-old Russian, Valery Spriridonov, who has a genetic muscle-wasting disease.

Spriridonov, the Russian patient, will only be able to receive a new body in Russia, which will require a commitment from Russian authorities.

It is claimed that initial talks with Russian surgeons have already taken place and the team are hoping to approach Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for finance.

In the meantime, Vietnam has offered itself to host future head transplants.

“I would say we have plenty of data to go on,” said Prof Canavero. “It’s important that people stop thinking this is impossible. This is absolutely possible and we’re working towards it.”

However the fact that the team has press released their work before it has been published an peer reviewed has left some scientists anxious about the validity of their claims.

“It’s science through public relations,” Arthur Caplan, a bioethicist at New York University School of Medicine told New Scientist.

“When it gets published in a peer-reviewed journal I’ll be interested. I think the rest of it is BS.”

Thomas Cochrane, a neurologist at Harvard Medical School’s Centre for Bioethics, also told the magazine Canavero’s press release was unorthodox. “It’s frowned upon for good reason,” he said.

“It generates excitement before excitement is warranted. It distracts people from actual work that everyone can agree has a valid foundation. As far as I can tell, that operation has mostly been about publicity rather than the production of good science.”

“If the so-called head transplant works, this is going to open up a whole new science of spinal cord trauma reconstruction,” says Michael Sarr, editor of the journal Surgery and a surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “

We are most interested in spinal cord reconstruction using head transplantation as a proof of principle. Our journal does not necessarily support head transplantation because of multiple ethical issues and multiple considerations of informed consent and the possibility of negative consequences of a head transplant.”

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'He wasn't prepared for a second-class life': why injured rugby star went to Switzerland to die

The Guardian

A 23-year-old who played rugby for England as a teenager has committed suicide in a Swiss euthanasia clinic after having become paralysed from the chest down in a training accident. Police are investigating.

Nuneaton rugby club hooker Daniel James felt his body had become a "prison" and lived in "fear and loathing" of his daily life, his parents said last night, having accompanied him to Switzerland from their home in Sinton Green, near Worcester. He had attempted to kill himself several times since March 2007 when a scrum had collapsed on him and dislocated his neck vertebrae, trapping his spinal cord and rendering him immediately tetraplegic.

West Mercia Police have begun an investigation into his assisted suicide, which took place on September 12. Details were made public yesterday when police published a statement relating to an inquest in progress. Assisted suicide is illegal in the UK, and family or friends who help face up to 14 years in jail. Officers have questioned a man and a women in the case and are preparing to submit a report to the Crown Prosecution Service.

James' parents, Mark and Julie, said last night that their son had been "an intelligent young man of sound mind" and "not prepared to live what he felt was a second-class existence".

He is one of the youngest Britons to have travelled abroad for assisted suicide. Earlier this month, Dignitas, the centre for assisted dying in Zurich, said that 100 Britons have travelled to Switzerland to make use of its more liberal laws. It is thought James attended a clinic in Berne.

James was a talented player who seemed destined for a professional career. He played for England at under-16 level and went on to play for Loughborough University, where he was an engineering undergraduate. The training accident happened four days after he helped England Students beat a France side in Oxford.

In a training session for forwards, he was practising a scrum when the pack came crashing down. Under their weight, he dislocated bones in his neck and trapped the spinal cord.

In the following weeks he had several operations and spent eight months in rehabilitation, including a stay at Stoke Mandeville hospital, before returning home; he only ever regained a small amount of use in his fingers. Early last month he travelled to Switzerland. His funeral took place in the UK on October 1.

"His death was an extremely sad loss for his family, friends and all those that cared for him, but no doubt a welcome relief from the prison he felt his body had become and the day to day fear and loathing of his living existence," the James family solicitors said last night. "This is the last way that the family wanted Dan's life to end, but he was, as those who know him are aware, an intelligent, strong-willed, and some say determined young man."

Yesterday the Spinal Injuries Association expressed shock. "When someone has an injury like this, you think its the end of the world as life is going to change for ever," said Daniel Burden, head of public affairs. "But our mantra is that life need not end if you are paralysed. We know of people with similar or worse injuries than Dan who have lived fulfilling lives."

The case comes as Debbie Purdy, 45, who has primary progressive multiple sclerosis, awaits a high court judgement seeking clarification of the legal status of family and friends who accompany people who commit assisted suicide.

Her action is being supported by Dignity in Dying, which campaigns for a law change to allow terminally ill and mentally competent patients to choose assisted death in the UK. James, who was not terminally ill, would not have been eligible under any such alteration of the law.

Prior to his death, James's uncle, Mark Roebuck, who started The Dan James Trust which raised nearly £25,000 for spinal research, paid tribute to his nephew.

"On Monday March 12 2007 Dan was just like thousands of 23-year-olds, full of life, hope, excitement and dreams. Whatever he chose to do, he would have done it with the good humour and lovely nature that made him a lovable young man."

The message boards on Nuneaton rugby club's website carried tributes yesterday. "This is really sad and tragic news, and it makes all the silly arguments with the rugby and football club very trivial and unimportant," said Nutty Nun. "My thoughts, sympathy and prayers are with Dan's family. RIP Dan."

Forbidden by law

Although suicide is no longer a crime in England and Wales, it is still an offence under the Suicide Act 1961 to "aid, counsel or procure the suicide of another"; the penalty is up to 14 years' imprisonment, and there have been 12 prosecutions since 2005.

The only jurisdictions where assisted suicide is not illegal are Switzerland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the state of Oregon in the US.

Although Swiss law does not specifically permit assisted suicide or provide any details about how it can be done legally, it does not prohibit it either. Several clinics have been established, providing facilities for terminally ill people to commit suicide, including Dignitas in Berne, the only clinic which offers its services to people not living in Switzerland. Since it opened in 1998 it has helped 868 people to end their lives, 100 of them from the UK.

Dignitas's motto is "to live with dignity - to die with dignity". It offers a service to the terminally ill and their families including accommodation, access to doctors and a dose of a drug causing a deep coma and painless death. However, anyone who accompanies a relative to Dignitas risks prosecution on their return for assisting suicide contrary to English law.

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Dictatorship is the only honest political system. Rulers rule for their own benefit, or maybe (maybe!) the interests of a ruling class. That is why warlordism is the political system of the future.

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How Botox Cures ED (men put on a smile)

Blue Heron Natural Health News

Is it possible elite male superstars and politicians loading their faces with Botox are actually doing it for a little naughty alternative reason?

Could it be more about the little friend’s function than their mirror image?

That’s actually a long shot theory. But nevertheless, a new study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine has revealed how Botox may actually cure ED… if used in a specific way.

When your prostate’s cells multiply and start to take up the space of your urethra, your urine can no longer pass freely through your urethra.

As a result, the muscles in your bladder start to contract powerfully to propel the urine through your narrowed urethra, and the smooth muscles in your urethra contract equally powerfully to get the urine through.

This creates a permanent uncomfortable feeling of having to urinate and even cramps in your urinary tract.

To treat this, some doctors inject Botox to relax the smooth muscles and prevent them from contracting.

Taiwanese researchers published a study in the journal BJU International in 2006 that tested this treatment on men with enlarged prostates, finding that it could indeed relieve what are called lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS).

The Canadian researchers then thought that, since many erectile difficulties result from the contraction of smooth muscles in your penis, and since Botox has proved successful to relax smooth muscles in the urethra, wouldn’t Botox also work to relax smooth muscles in your penis to restore your erectile function?

They tested it on a few rats who experienced an improvement in their erectile function, with promising results.

However, Botox is derived from the deadly neurotoxin, botulinum. It works by paralyzing muscles, which is why it works on wrinkles caused by muscles in the face.

You probably don’t warm to the idea of having a deadly poison injected into your manhood. And you don’t have to.

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Men with micro penises have a clear agenda: castrate all men with big dicks. Let horses fuck women who complain.

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India's female genital mutilation: a thousand-year-old secret

So little was known, until recently, about the secretive practice of FGM in a small Muslim community that India is not even on the UN’s list of FGM countries.

India’s Dawoodi Bohra community has been so closeted about its practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) that its recent disclosure shocked even women’s rights activists. It was the highly publicised criminal trial of the FGM of two Bohra girls in Australia, in 2010 and 2011, which shattered the secrecy around this practice. Following investigation and trial, the mother of the girls, the midwife and a Bohra priest in Australia were sentenced to 15 months in prison in 2016.

They are a Shia Muslim sect that migrated to India from Yemen in the 12th century. Their custom of FGM probably originated in Yemen as it’s still a widespread practice there. The Bohra population is only about one million in size, with most settled in western India, and smaller communities in other countries.

Perhaps what shocks most is that this practice is being carried out among the Bohras who are regarded as a progressive, prosperous and well educated community. In fact, the Bohras are proud that their daughters are encouraged to excel in their education and jobs in much the same way as their sons. Most Bohra women are not veiled and choose modern, western attire and lifestyles. Even the burkha of Bohra women, called the Rida, is designed to reflect the community’s view of itself as being innovative and progressive. The Rida leaves the face uncovered, with a flap as option, and instead of the conservative black, it is always in bright colours like deep pinks, reds and greens, with lace and designs.

Nonetheless, recent testimonies and initiatives by Bohra women indicate that FGM is practiced widely. In 2015 a group of women launched ‘Sahiyo’ meaning ‘female friend,’ an online platform that aims to create a safe, women-supported space for Bohra FGM survivors to share their personal stories and to lobby support via a petition for a law to ban FGM in India. As there is no law in India banning FGM, a survey by Sahiyo indicates that the ratio of Bohra girls who have been subjected to FGM could be as high as 80 per cent. The survey also includes Bohra women in the US, UK and Australia. After India, the second highest proportion of women in the survey, 31 percent, are in the US.

The Bohras practice Type-I FGM which involves the partial or complete removal of the clitoris or clitoral hood. The clitoris is referred to as the ‘Haram ki boti’ or ‘sinful piece of flesh’ a recognition of its biological role in women’s orgasms and libido. Even though FGM is called ‘Khatna’ or ‘circumcision,’ which is a ‘coming of age’ social ritual and fervently discussed and debated among women in other communities, what makes it odd among the Bohras is that it appears to be an extremely clandestine procedure. Aarefa Johari, one of the co-founders of Sahiyo says it is never talked about even among girls and women. Testimonies from Bohra women, discussed in agonising details, show the procedure is carried out by impoverished women practitioners, (who probably just need the income) in unhygienic environments, using a razor blade without anaesthesia.

FGM should be relatively easy to eradicate in India. Clearly many Bohra women want this custom abolished. Public testimonies of survivors show extreme angst. Many women have admitted that this has affected their sex lives adversely. Others speak of a much deeper psychological scarring caused by this childhood trauma. As one woman says, ‘The pain was blinding and ravaging… At 33, I feel sick and mentally disturbed because still I remember that day… I can only believe that most of our women feel like me. But consider themselves weak to change. But I ask still, Why? How can we put our children through this horror of FGM?’ Oddly, even though many Bohra women are extremely uncomfortable about the practice and want it to stop, there’s no clear answer as to why or how it continues.

‘People fear ostracism in the community,’ explains Aarefa Johari. She says families who don’t do FGM stay silent about their choice. Dilshad Tavawala, a child protection lawyer in Canada, who believes FGM is a violation of child rights, also speaks about how ‘the backlash [of ostracisation] is considerable and many just won’t do business with you.’

While ostracisation is a powerful tool of control in small, homogenous, rural communities, it is generally non-effective for the urban, middle and upper income, educated strata because the environment offers alternatives. However, what makes the Bohras an exception, is that the community’s structure and function is akin to that of a cult.

The community is tightly controlled by the religious head, the Syedna. Every individual, from birth, is issued a Bohra identity card without which they are not even allowed to enter their mosques. Bohras are required to take an oath of allegiance (misaq) to the Syedna, and must obtain his permission not just for religious issues, but for all personal, familial and professional decisions. Furthermore, they have to pay a compulsory tax to the Syedna for every activity – including birth, death, marriage, business and education. They must acknowledge him as the ‘Jan-O-Mal ka Malik’ (The Lord and Master of Their Life and Properties) and have the inscription `Abde-Syedna' or ‘Slave of the Syedna’ on their wedding cards. The Syedna also asserts himself as the sole trustee of all the mosques and associated properties, trusts and monetary contributions. As Asghar Ali Engineer (1939-2013), one of the fiercest spokesperson of the Bohra reformist movement had said, ‘You can’t literally breathe without their permission.’ The punishments for noncompliance are severe and include not being allowed to pray in the mosque, bury a parent, being forcefully divorced, being forcefully disowned by families, physical harm, and sabotage of businesses and careers. In 1978, the Citizens for Democracy appointed the Nathwani Commission to investigate charges of tyranny against the Syedna. In its 220-page report, the Commission recounted testimonies of victims and said it had found ‘large-scale infringement of civil liberties and human rights.’ Strangely, most Indian media did not report on this. The India Today magazine did but found that witnesses, who had agreed to speak to them, suddenly withdrew. After receiving threats, the magazine was forced to conceal the reporter’s name.

Successive Prime Ministers from Indira Gandhi to Narendra Modi have pandered to the immensely wealthy Syedna, conferring political clout on his totalitarian control on the Bohra community. The Syedna has encouraged the Bohras to embrace Modi despite widespread aversion to his role as chief minister in the 2002 carnage of Muslims in Gujarat for which he has been rewarded by Modi with a Padma Shri, one of India’s highest civilian awards.

In a 2016 public sermon in Bombay, the Syedna instructed the community to continue with FGM. He was responding to the FGM trials and arrests in Australia that year. The Australian authorities had arrested a senior Borah cleric for attempting to thwart investigations and for directing ‘members of the community [in Australia] to give false accounts to the police.’ Fearing a similar crackdown, the Bohra clergy in the US, UK and Europe told their communities to comply with the laws of the land. This was probably just lip-service for it is understood that the Syedna, whose seat is in Bombay, is the ultimate authority for Bohras the world over. In his public sermon the Syedna emphasised that ‘the act has to happen…Stay firm…Even [for] the big sovereign states…we are not prepared to understand.’

It is critical for India to have an anti-FGM law and to enforce its implementation, especially as India’s medical community has failed to address the ethics of FGM and is inclined to exploit it. The danger here is the medical legitimisation of FGM as Shaheeda Kirtane, co-founder of Sahiyo, points out.

A public petition to the Indian government by the advocacy group Speak Out on FGM to outlaw FGM in India has garnered more than 80,000 signatures. The groups founder Masooma Ranalvi, a Bohra FGM survivor, who has also been pushing for the UN to recognize FGM in India, has launched a second petition to the UN . Inclusion in UNFPA and UNICEF’s Joint Programme on the eradication of FGM would give Bohra activists the much needed global support to nudge the Indian government into action.

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'I'm a normal guy. I just fancy six-year-olds: 'Virtuous' paedophile who is aroused by girls aged under 13 but 'doesn’t act on his impulses' reveals why his British wife has stood by him

Daily Mail

A self-described 'virtuous pedophile' who admits to being sexually attracted to girls as young as six has spoken about how he lives with his urges - and his plans to help other people cope with theirs.

Gary Gibson, 65, of Oregon, has set up a non-profit organisation - the Association for Sexual Abuse Prevention - to help people like him who choose not to offend.

The Christian ex-teacher, whose family has a history of incestual child abuse, is one of 1,800 members of an online forum for non-offending pedophiles.

He detailed some of his alleged family history in a series of online videos.

'My grandfather sexually abused my mother and I think at least one of his sisters, and my father’s woman was known on the streets to be one that invited the little boys into her house and did things with them,' he said in a video published last month.

'So, I think, she is a pedophile. I know for a fact my father sexually abused several of my sisters – nearly all of them.

'When I was six, my two older sisters taught me to play "go to sleep". My understanding was I was to get them to take their panties off and get them ready to sleep. I don’t think it was abuse, but it left me with the impression that little girls want to be touched.

'When I was about 12, I spent a summer with my cousins and there was some sexual games that went on there… both of these girls were five years younger. I was 12, I think one of them was seven and one of them was five.

'I knew that it was wrong, but frankly in the fifties, every male I knew was sexually attracted to children and little girls.'

In the speech, he then questioned whether pedophilia was something that could be passed down among a family, before saying he never considered himself to be one throughout most of his adult life.

'I had never called myself a pedophile, but for more than 50 years I have been sexually attracted to little girls. I choose not to act on it,' he said.

'I knew I was attracted to little girls, I was always a little close, maybe I hugged them too tight, or did some things I shouldn’t have done, but I never penetrated a child, never – what I would call – had sex with a child.

'I choose not to do that, but I struggle with it.'
His struggles intensified when his first marriage broke down in the nineties, and he decided to 'spend some time out in the South Pacific', where he said there were 'a lot of little girls running around naked'.

After a couple of years he returned home, and met British nurse Tabitha Abel - woman who would become his wife - through a Christian singles dating site in 2004.

They married in 2005. Eventually, they built a log cabin in Oregon, which included rooms for their grandchildren.
But he was still dogged by his desires.

'The first time I remember changing my daughter’s diaper I thought, "Am I going to touch her" or something, but I made the decision right there that was not going to happen,' he said in the video, before explaining how he and his wife chose to adopt foster children because their grandchildren did not visit enough.

Gibson says the children eventually moved on for 'other reasons', however a 10-year-old girl who had lived with him and Abel developed what he called 'false memories'.

'Now you tell me, I mean society says children never lie about sexual abuse. But here the Oregon State Police show up at our door one day and say, "Do you know why I’m here?"' the 65-year-old said.

'They proceeded to tell me this girl disclosed that I lay on the bed naked with her. I said that never happened, and then they said: “Well, she said you put your penis inside of her.” I said that never happened, and they asked me to do a polygraph.

'So I contacted a lawyer, this was like two days before Christmas 2010, the attorney said don’t do the polygraph.'

He said it was that brush with the police that forced him to 'come out' to his wife.

'I told her I didn't do it, but this is where I'm at... I'm attracted to kids,' he said.

During a recent interview, Gibson explained why he is attracted to young girls - but not young boys or teenagers.

The 'comfortably out' pedophile, whose wife is a nurse, said he is normally not aroused by teenage girls and does not have any desire for young boys.

'When they pass 12 they tend to get into themselves, start to make themselves look older, and I like things natural - so there we are,' he told The Sun in the UK.

'When they start wearing lipstick and stuff like that I don't find it very appealing.'

Despite his attractions, Gibson added he is 'a normal everyday person'.

'I don't go around in a white van giving candy to kids in the park,' he said.

Gibson' wife then told the British newspaper she does not consider her husband to be a pedophile because: 'most people I consider a pedophile to be a child molester – which he isn't.'

The interview then went into some more graphic details about Gibson's sexual habits.

He told the newspaper he does not seek out pornography involving children when he masturbates, but added he doesn't 'beat himself up' if he does watch scenes involving young people.

'I don't feel bad it about because it's not reality, I can differentiate between fantasy and reality,' he said.

The 65-year-old also seemed to have come to terms with his life as a pedophile, despite understanding that it makes him unpopular with many.

'If people knew I was a pedophile they wouldn't like me,' he said. 'But overall my life has gone fairly well.'

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Homo Obnoxious: Is Toxic Masculinity Really Taking Over the Country?

San Diego Free Press

DECEMBER 26, 2016 BY SOURCE

Maybe the real problem is a lack of positive paths to manhood

It wasn’t supposed to turn out like this. We were said to be approaching the demise of a certain type of swaggering, predatory masculinity: let’s call him Homo Obnoxious.

As men like Roger Ailes, Bill Cosby, Anthony Weiner, and Billy Bush scrambled unsuccessfully to find cover in the old-boy bastions of privilege, Homo Obnoxious appeared to be lumbering around like a dinosaur under the weight of his own cultural baggage. His habitat was shrinking: it seemed as if men who defined themselves by devaluing women, putting down men who didn’t think like them and treating sexual relations — and most everything else — as power-tripping performances might be ready for mounting in a Museum of Masculinity Past.

Books like Hanna Rosin’s The End of Men hailed an era in which women, and men of a different mold, would rapidly pull ahead in every arena. In The Future of Men: Masculinity in the Twenty-First Century, Jack Myers heralded a seismic shift in human relations. “We are entering a new age of female dominance and a reshaping of the male psyche, the male libido, and the male ego,” Myers wrote. “This is the new reality, and it will gain greater and greater momentum. Nothing in the history of humanity can prepare us for this newly upside-down world.”

Reality check: Homo Obnoxious is moving into the White House. The world is upside-down, but not for the reasons Myers anticipated.

The president-elect is signaling to boys across the country what it means to be a successful man. He gets more thuggish with each passing day, appointing knuckle-dragging members of his tribe to run the country. Meanwhile, alt-right dudes who cope with masculine anxiety by proclaiming superiority over women and people of color are feeling validated, enjoying influence they could hardly dream of a year ago. As one self-identified “neomasculine” blogger put it, “I’m in a state of exuberance that we now have a President who rates women on a 1-10 scale in the same way that we do and evaluates women by their appearance and feminine attitude.”

Yikes. But before we concede that toxic masculinity has suddenly reasserted itself as the dominant force in the cultural universe, let’s pause to take a breath. Let’s admit, for example, that although arenas of male experiences differ depending on where you live and how much money you have, Homo Obnoxious was never just a creature of any one party, class or region. The truth is that he is nurtured at every stage of an American boy’s journey into manhood, and without trying to understand what our society does to promote his development and how boys and men might be persuaded to reject his allure, he will continue his rampage across the land.

Let’s take a look at three breeding grounds where Homo Obnoxious cuts his teeth.

The playground

So many have a story like mine. It was a day soon after I had transferred to a new public high school in North Carolina. Two popular senior boys — baseball stars on a winning team — approached me across a crowded stair landing. I smiled, then felt rough hands shove me against the wall as the two sang obscene lyrics in my ear. That was not the last or the most violent encounter I had with Homo Obnoxious-in-training during my education.

Aggressive misogyny, of course, permeates many school sports teams, as the recent case of the men’s soccer team at Harvard illustrates. There, at America’s most hallowed university, a spreadsheet compiled by male players portraying members of the women’s team in degrading sexual terms was brought to light. A student explained the commonplace nature of the behavior to the New York Times: “I think Donald Trump is so extreme that we like to believe that these extreme incidents of sexism and discrimination are, like, isolated to him,” he said. “But it’s important to recognize that they’re just as rampant in our generation.”

Responding to recent revelations of decades-long sex abuse by both faculty and students at St. Georges, a New England prep school where Billy Bush was an ice hockey star, a former student described the warped sexual atmosphere and lack of guidance from adults in a letter to the rector of St. Paul’s, another elite prep school where a tradition of predatory sexual competition bred danger:

“I went to St. George’s School in the ’80s and am a heterosexual, success-oriented, competitive guy. I remember being self-conscious about my not getting any action while some of my male friends got tons. I felt less-than, like a loser when it came to girls and sex…Nowhere in my development …did any adult ever reinforce in me that it is all right to go at your own pace, that sex isn’t competition. The cultural norm was that sex was another place to be competitive, where you could be classified as a winner or a loser.”

Let’s think about that. When competition is the preferred mode of group interaction, it’s no wonder boys end up stuck with obsessions about the number of their sexual encounters and a tendency to degrade the objects of their pursuits.

In A Bigger Prize: Why Competition Isn’t Everything And How We Do Better, Margaret Heffernan discusses the destructive role that competition plays in American education and how it turns kids off of many potentially valuable collaborative activities. A large percentage end up not wanting to participate anything, including sports, in which being the winner or loser is everything.

Heffernan points out that if we teach kids that success is all about individual performance, they grow up to be what she calls “heroic soloists.” In relating to others, they tend to focus on what’s in it for them, suppressing the instinct to be generous or share credit or empathy. Our president-elect, steeped in the values of self-interest capitalism and competition in everything from football and beauty pageants to reality TV tournaments, is the epitome of a heroic soloist — one who has been rewarded richly in celebrity, power and money.

Teaching kids the value of creative collaboration and offering rational guidance on sexuality or gender relations at school has to be a part of cultivating a different path to manhood. American sex education, for example, if it is taught at all, often consists of either shaming abstinence lessons or alarming medical discussions of STDs and pregnancy, with little acknowledgment of the need to develop compassionate ways to express sexuality or the importance of challenging sexual stereotypes in media and culture. It doesn’t have to be that way; in a New York Times op-ed, Pamela Druckerman highlighted how topics like the complexity of love are openly discussed in French sex-ed, while Dutch teachers work to inculcate respect for people who don’t fit traditional sexual and gender molds.

If they don’t have blueprints of masculinity that allow for confidence and strength without domination in the playground and in the classroom, boys grow up thinking that a hero is somebody who is in everything solely for himself. This does not mean that we send male students to re-education boot camps, as certain right-wing pundits have warned is the true agenda of coastal elites. It means that adults take it upon themselves to guide students, whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity, in imagining ways of being men that are not destructive to themselves and others. It means not shaming them because they are male, but rather encouraging them to develop pride in characteristics and values that are socially beneficial, like putting others before themselves, honesty and strength in caring and self-restraint. That would be a start.

The campus

When I arrived at the University of Georgia in 1988, a sophomore from my hometown issued a helpful warning not to ever hook up in a certain popular fraternity house. The guys, I was informed, videotaped girls through holes in the walls and watched the tapes together on Sunday morning. This foreshadowing of the age of digital shaming and abuse was my introduction to the group norms associated with Greek life. Some misogynist rituals were performed under the radar, but others were out in the open and normalized, from parties where lists trashing women in sexual terms were posted on walls to “mixers” with sororities in which fraternity guys inscribed phalluses and misogynist phrases on the T-shirts of freshman girls.

There is nothing wrong with guys wanting to hang out, share common interests and form lasting social bonds with one another. But as young men begin to leave home, there aren’t enough opportunities for them to do this in a way that breeds healthy, socially responsible attitudes and behavior. Beyond the sports field, college fraternities are another place where antisocial activity is too often the norm, a lot of it targeting women. The “Animal House” frat image grounded in the degradation of women, based on fraternity life at Dartmouth in the 1960s, has been ascendant for decades, linking manliness to out-drinking peers and egging them on in sexual exploits. (Was Donald Trump in a fraternity? Of course: he was a Phi Gam at Fordham.)

The negative image is based in reality. On alcohol consumption, a U.S. Department of Education’s Higher Education Center survey shows that 75 percent of fraternity members engaged in heavy drinking, compared with 49 percent of other male students. Some — including many college presidents — have argued that since the drinking age was raised to 21, alcohol consumption has gone undercover, causing students to associate drinking with transgression and pushing it far from the supervision of older adults and more open social events. Lowering the drinking age, they suggest, might bring alcohol back into a more normalized atmosphere where students mix with older adults in supervisory roles, thus obviating the need for secretive binge-drinking and its attendant hazards and regression.

Some say fraternities should accept girls, and in a few cases, colleges have banned frats altogether, arguing that they are obsolete. At Amherst in Massachusetts, where fraternities were prohibited in 2014, students and faculty have discussed ways to create social groups that get rid of some of the destructive things associated with fraternities while providing the cohesiveness and sense of belonging that make them attractive, like residential communities with selective membership centered around a particular theme.

This is all well and good, but how likely is it to spread into regions of the country far flung from elite coastal universities? Places where fraternities have emerged as a way of attracting less affluent students to college with the promise of bonding and bacchanalia, to be translated into fundraising dollars after graduation?

College men — and young men who don’t go to college —need to have positive narratives that allow them to feel good about being men and being men together. Challenging sexual assault is important, but they need to learn much more than “no means no”: they need guidance in emotional honesty and intimacy, the challenges of navigating relationships and masculine ideals to strive for in which cultivating large numbers of women as hookups and drinking into oblivion are not the marks of masculine status. Beyond this, they need to see that life offers them more than the prospect of being a loser in the workforce that awaits them when schooling is done, and they also need opportunities to see that work in areas like caregiving, for example, are rich in positive masculine values. When a male nurse can be viewed as stronger and sexier than a Wall Street parasite, we will have gotten somewhere.

Popular culture reflects a hunger for a vision of masculinity that rejects Homo Obnoxious. Jesse Pinkman, the young meth cook in the TV series Breaking Bad, illustrates the despair of recession-era young men without decent job prospects who search for status, meaning, and self-worth. There’s a lot wrong with Jesse, but in his evolution as a character we see his growing resolve to form intimate, caring bonds with the women in his life and the men in his posse, too. The blockbuster franchise Fast and Furious shows the need for even the most testosterone-driven men — racecar drivers in this case — to develop respect and lasting relationships with the men and women in their social group.

These fictional guys hunt for alternatives to a brutal, global capitalist system that casts them as losers. They want to find the dignity that dissolves when we mire them in student debt, consign them to dead-end jobs and say, Oh well, globalization happens. If we continue to do this, they will bond together in ways that can quickly become dangerous to society as a whole, and they will look for outsider narratives that offer something more that the empty promise of upward mobility currently on offer from politicians who think that the paltry social safety net and worker protections currently in place are over-generous (politicians from both major parties). Sometimes, in the case of the white supremacist groups that have begun to creep out of the woodwork, that something will be very scary.

The internet

There has been a lot of recent research on how online porn and video games are helping to inculcate alienation and destructive patterns in boys and young men. Stanford psychologist Philip Zimbardo’s book Man (Dis)Connected): How Technology has Sabotaged What it Means to be Male provides insight onto how Homo Obnoxious gets his brain wired.

Zimbardo discusses how young male brains can become shaped at a cellular level in ways that inhibit their social development through excessive time spent on gaming and porn, even losing their ability to read the social cues of face-to-face contact. Many, he points out, are drawn to these realms as a seemingly safe and easy way to gain a sense of achievement that may not be available in the winner-take-all competition of school and the workforce. These virtual worlds are tailored to provide an addictive system of goals and rewards that produce guys who are afraid of intimacy. They end up eschewing real-world experiments that might result in rejection, and real-time spontaneity that leaves them disoriented and frightened. Drained of self-confidence, they search for narratives of manhood that provide at least the simulacrum of power and dignity.

Some go on to find self-help, intellectual and political forums online collectively termed “the manosphere.” Some of this has merged with the recently designated “alt-right.” In the more benign forums, we find guys like mild-mannered Brian Begin, co-founder of Fearless Man website, who invites guys to join a brotherhood of men who have learned the secret of confidence and self-love. A shy video gamer who found himself working in a miserable office cubicle and unable to talk to women, Begin eventually threw away his games and launched a self-help journey that revealed to him he needed to learn to “feel” — to experience emotions at a deep, visceral level and connect to others despite fear of rejection. Although Begin’s quest for dignified masculinity rests in part on the fantasy of making piles of money and dating beautiful women, his hunger for self-esteem and the experience of genuine emotion seems real, as does his impulse to see women as something other than a collection of body parts. He doesn’t want to be a nervous “beta” male, and while much of his rhetoric is traditionalist and half-baked, he is on to something in pointing to the critical need for connection. In his workshops, the first thing he does is to hug the men who participate.

Unfortunately, much in the manosphere openly promotes the far more noxious stuff, like sexual predation in the pickup community, where guys give each other creepy tips on “mind-controlling” women and duping them into sex. Other sites, like Mensactivism, boil with anger at feminists and take a paranoid stance against what they imagine is an epidemic of false rape claims and women who will take advantage of them at every opportunity. Mensactivism buzzes with articles like “Men are the downtrodden sex” and blogs expressing hope that a Trump presidency “could radically change colleges’ response to sexual assault.” In these sites, loneliness and fear are vented as rage — the rage that comes when people don’t know what to do with their suffering.

Yet for all the bluster and bullying on such sites, you don’t have to dig far to find clues to what is bothering these young men so profoundly at their core. The blogger who likes Trump’s rating system for women asks a series of questions in a meditation on so-called neomasculinity, which despite its name, is mostly a throwback to outdated myths of male superiority: “What code of morality or principles should guide men in their daily lives? Is there a deeper life meaning that can help us set better goals?” The answers he comes up with may be bitter and sad, but the questions themselves are not stupid, and they point to a lack of compass to give direction. Online, the lost boys find each other, making up the missing codes themselves out of a mixture of bravado, hurt and bitterness.

The road ahead

When I sat down to write this article just after Trump’s election, I felt angry and confused swallowing the reality that the country is going to be led by a man who brags about sexual assault. But gradually, I’ve come to feel something else, a sense that the Trump election may in part be a sign that a giant population of American men — particularly the Trump voters but also men across regions and classes — are in turmoil, and that most are looking for a way out. If we simply shout them down and disparage them, we can be pretty sure that the worst among them, the already-committed members of Tribe Homo Obnoxious, will gain strength, not lose it. Some are likely already too far down the road of hate for redemption, but I believe these are a small minority. The rest are struggling, watching, looking for signs, searching for stories that might give them a sense of a more positive path ahead.

Over Thanksgiving, I attended Sunday services at a conservative Southern Baptist megachurch in Raleigh, North Carolina, partly because I wanted to hear and see for myself what men in that context were thinking and talking about it — men who were the most likely in town to have voted for Trump. If I were to believe the assumptions of some of my liberal friends in New York, where I currently live, they would be spewing racial hatred, misogyny and homophobia — a seething collection of “toothless rednecks,” as one New Yorker put it on my Facebook page.

That’s not what I heard. The sermon was delivered by a young minister with the demeanor of a kindly basketball coach, one who was not afraid of emotions and wept at times as he spoke. His message, it seemed to me, was tailored to deliver balm to the heart of hurt manhood. God was the benign father and Christ was a brother — even a lover — who valued those gathered so deeply he would give his life for them. Men were presented as the ones who went out into the world while moms stayed home, a 1950s trope to be sure, but they were also asked to give up their self-centeredness, their narcissism. The minister urged them to see power as something that could be used to confront their own shortcomings, to serve and protect others. The solo adventurer was not vaunted here. Trump was not the emblem of the kind of masculinity valued here.

As much as I reject his outdated gender framework, the minister appeared a man with whom I shared some basic concerns—about the allure of consumerism, for example. He was not an alien, but a person trying to confront the ills of modern society, many of which bother me as much as him, though our emphasis and answers are different.

Men are confused, and how could they not be? Ever since the 1950s brought women into the workforce en masse, and the Pill released them from reproductive shackles in the ‘60s, a profound change in human relations has been happening in painful fits and starts. In the grand scheme of history, a few decades is an incredibly short amount of time to adjust to such a cataclysm. No wonder we’re still flailing about trying to figure out how to cope. Identity, expectations, culture and hormones are a complex dance. Social construction is a dynamic process, and hardly linear.

And let’s face it: Hillary Clinton’s election was not likely to bring a great gender renaissance in America, or any kind of renaissance for that matter. If Clinton were on her way to the White House, there is much reason to believe that ordinary men — and women— would see little improvements in their lives. That would be the case as long as those in charge are stuck in paradigms of dysfunctional capitalism and neoliberal blindness. Anger would continue to fester, and many working-class white men, in particular, would become even more entrenched in their reactionary rage.

As America’s boys see Trump acting out, some will feel their own worst instincts validated. But for others, the idea of “being a man” might mean distancing themselves from his kind of behavior. I do believe that men—and women—are less likely to assert power by denigrating and dominating others when they have a sense of real agency in their lives. It may not be helpful to talk about the end of men, or the rising dominance of women, but rather to remember that for all of us—men, women and transgender—our ability to manifest prosocial behavior depends a lot on having a sense of power and purpose in our lives. Growing inequality, the gig economy, strangling oligopolies, widespread poverty, a shrinking middle class, and government policies geared to appease the rich do not promote this outcome.

For those who reject Donald Trump, figuring out how to achieve a better life for everyone in our society instead of condemning “deplorables” is, in my opinion, a more productive way to go. The co-creation of a more peaceful and fulfilling world requires our most dedicated efforts in imagination, connection and listening to those who do not share our particular vision. Homo Obnoxious will only have the last word if we forget our common humanity.

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Feminists have been attacking politicians or opponents with buckets of excrements without any or minimal judiciary consequences. Let's turn this game around and dowse feminists with buckets of excrements. Let's see what happens.

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Everything About Duck Penises Is Interesting

OMG, Republicans. STOP. Stop ruining everything that is hilarious. You know how once in a while conservatives get together and make a list of all the government-funded stuff they don't think is worth spending money on, in order to make liberals look like wicked cutpurses swindling bewildered old grannies?* (In this metaphor, America is the granny.) And also to draw attention away from things that are maybe actually expensive, such as defense spending and imprisoning millions and millions of low-level drug offenders? WELL. They're at it again, and this time one of the frivolities in their sights is a Yale ornithologist who received $400,000 to study duck penises. It's a relatively small amount of money, in the grand scheme of government spending, but it happens to combine conservatives' two least favorite things: scientific progress and sexy intercourse. Therefore, ABOLISH IT.

As Michael Tomasky at the Daily Beast points out, NO. NO NO NO. Not only are duck penises worthy of study, they are also hella interesting and weird. And if you, like me, have been having nightmares and daymares about that terrifying slow-motion video of the unfurling duck penis (see above, bladow!!!) for yeeeeeeeears now, you understand why it's important to get to the bottom of these things. Before they get to the bottom of you. Uncomfortable linemouth. '_'

Long story short, male ducks are rapists with exploding harpoon-penises.

Here, in Prum's words, is what he studied and learned:

"Most birds don't have a penis. Ducks do. They still have it from the reptilian ancestor that they shared with mammals," he said.

The duck's penis is stored inside the body, and when it becomes erect, the process of insemination is "explosive," Prum said. The duck's penis becomes erect within a third of a second, at the same time it enters the female duck's body. Ejaculation is immediate, and then the penis starts to regress. The length of the duck penis, as mentioned in the tweets, grows to 8 or 9 inches during the summer mating season. In winter, it shrinks to less than an inch.

In duck ponds, Prum said, a lot of forced copulation occurs. Forced copulation is what it sounds like — rape in nature. Even gang rape happens among ducks. And Prum found that while 40 to 50 percent of duck sex happens by forced copulation, only 2 to 4 percent of inseminations result from it (meaning times the female duck ends up with a fertilized egg).

But! But!!! The female duck literally has ways of shutting that whole thing down.

"The question is why does that happen? How does a female prevent fertilization by forced copulation?" he said. "The answer has to do with taking advantage of what males have evolved — this corkscrew shaped penis."

Prum said the duck penis is a corkscrew whose direction runs counterclockwise. Female ducks, he said, have evolved a complex vagina also shaped like a corkscrew — but a clockwise one.

"This is literally an anti-screw anatomy," he said.

When females choose their own partners — in other words, solicit copulation — the muscles in the vagina are dilated and expanded. So the anti-screw effect is negated.

"The females are enormously, amazingly successful at preventing fertilization by forced copulation," he said.

All of this is amazing and gross and hilarious and delightful and awful and fascinating. And, sorry, conservatives, you don't just get to stymie legit scientific research simply because it has the word "penis" in it. Dummies.

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Arson is the terrorism of the future. Attackers can buy their weapon at any gasoline station, and risk just 2 years in prison.

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