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Community: Mpls. Public Housing Authority CEO Greg Russ Appointed To Lead NYC Housing Authority

Mpls. Public Housing Authority CEO Greg Russ Appointed To Lead NYC Housing Authority

Community WCCO | CBS Minnesota

Minneapolis Public Housing Authority Executive Director and CEO Greg Russ has been appointed as the next Chair and CEO of the New York City Housing Authority.
'MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis Public Housing Authority Executive Director and CEO Greg Russ has been appointed as the next Chair and CEO of the New York City Housing Authority. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Russ’ appointment Wednesday. “In a national search, Greg Russ stands out as someone with the guts to make big changes and the heart to do right by public housing residents. Greg has shown he can secure residents the repairs they’ve been waiting for and strengthen public housing for the next generation. He’s shown again and again that he can listen to residents, build trust and improve people’s lives. I’m thrilled to welcome him to NYCHA,” de Blasio said. Russ has worked with low-income families through public and subsidized housing programs for more than three decades. In Minneapolis, Russ is credited with starting initiatives to provide housing to families experiencing homelessness, preserve and reinvest in aging public housing units, find paths to new economic opportunities, among others. In a statement, Russ wrote to MPHA employees, “In recent weeks I have heard from the mayor of New York City, along with HUD and other federal officials, making their strongest case to convince me that I could make a difference addressing the deep challenges and urgent need to turn around the struggling New York City Housing Authority. In the end, it proved a challenge and an opportunity that I could not ignore.” He is expected to leave the MPHA on August 2.'

Assembly Passes Bills to Help Homeless

Community urbanmilwaukee.com

Also approves grant program changes that could attract more minority teachers.
'Jim Steineke. Photo from the State of Wisconsin Blue Book 2011-12. State lawmakers on Tuesday voted to approve proposals to combat homelessness in Wisconsin and create exceptions to so-called “step therapy” prescription drug prescribing protocols in the state. The homelessness bills passed by the Assembly on unanimous, voice votes, would increase funding for homeless shelters and a number of support programs, including employment and training services. Republican lawmakers have made homelessness a focus of legislation  for several years . “We need to continue to do whatever we can to highlight the big issue that this is,” said Rep. Jim Steineke , R-Kaukauna, before the votes. The proposals include plans to: Increase state grant funding for homeless shelters by $1 million over the next two years , a 50 percent increase, and add performance metrics to help incentivize shelters to move people into stable housing. Provide $600,000 over the next two years  for a “housing navigator” grant program that connects homeless individuals and families to landlords with available housing. Require state and local workforce development boards  to consider homeless populations in their work. Increase funding from $250,000 to $500,000 in each of the next two years for  skills enhancement grants for homeless individuals . The bills have yet to be taken up in the state Senate. Step Therapy Proposal Moves To Governor’s Desk Assembly lawmakers also voted unanimously to approve a bill that would create exceptions to so-called  “step therapy” prescription drug prescribing protocols in Wisconsin . The proposal passed the state Senate  earlier this month  and now moves to Gov. Tony Evers ‘ desk. Step therapy occurs when health insurers push for patients to try the least expensive drug before more costly or riskier therapies. Some argue that can prevent patients from getting the treatment their doctors say they need. “I think this is a good day for patients in Wisconsin to get the treatment they really need without bureaucracy standing in the way,” said Rep. John Nygren , R-Marinette, who sponsored the legislation. The bill had bipartisan support. “Our No. 1 priority is to benefit the people of our state who want to have patient control and patient access to what might be the best therapy for them,” said Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz , D-Oshkosh. Possible Statewide Expansion Of Minority Teacher Program A bill that would expand a program aimed at bringing more minority teachers into classrooms was also approved on Tuesday afternoon. The measure passed on a unanimous, voice vote of the Assembly. Under  the proposal , a grant program that offers loan forgiveness for minority teachers who teach in schools that have at least 40 percent minority students would be expanded statewide. Right now, only teachers in Milwaukee schools are eligible for the program. Rep. Amy Loudenbeck , R-Clinton, who sponsored the legislation, said research has shown minority teachers improve classroom performance among minority students. “When we talk about closing the achievement gap, this is something we can do,” Loudenbeck said before the vote. The proposal has yet to be voted on in the state Senate. Listen to the WPR report here . State Assembly Approves Bills On Homelessness, Step Therapy was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.'

Today The Nation Joins Texas Celebrating Juneteenth

Community CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

Today is Juneteenth the day our nation commemorates the de facto end of slavery in the United States.
'NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Today is Juneteenth the day our nation commemorates the de facto end of slavery in the United States. It was on this day in 1865 when Union soldiers told enslaved African Americans in Galveston, Texas, that the Civil War had ended and they were free. The war had actually ended in April, but that information wasn’t readily disseminated to African Americans. Although President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation two years earlier, on January 1, 1863, it declared that “all persons held as slaves” within the rebellious states “are, and henceforward shall be free,” it only applied to states that had seceded and left slavery intact in border states like Texas and Southern states under Northern control. When Major General Gordon Granger and his troops arrived in Galveston with the news there were approximately 250,000 people still being held in slavery. Granger delivered General Order No. 3, which said: “The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.” The next year, the now-freed slaves in Galveston started celebrating Juneteenth.'

Children’s Minnesota Walk For Amazing Fundraiser

Community WCCO | CBS Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Children’s Minnesota is celebrating the amazing kids across the state at its newest fundraising event, Walk for Amazing this Saturday, June 22 at U.S. Bank Stadium. To learn more click here.
'MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Children’s Minnesota is celebrating the amazing kids across the state at its newest fundraising event, Walk for Amazing this Saturday, June 22 at U.S. Bank Stadium. To learn more click here .'

Agency marks World Refugee Day with update forum

Community The Columbian

Every quarter, the Vancouver Lutheran Community Services Northwest office hosts a forum to update people on its refugee resettlement work. Employees often refer to refugees as “global citizens.” The next forum is Thursday, which happens to be World
'Every quarter, the Vancouver Lutheran Community Services Northwest office hosts a forum to update people on its refugee resettlement work. Employees often refer to refugees as “global citizens.” The next forum is Thursday, which happens to be World Refugee Day. Recognized every year on June 20, the global observance is intended to bring awareness to the plight of refugees. Lutheran Community Services Northwest is the only agency in Vancouver providing reception and placement of refugees — a program that’s served fewer and fewer people over the last few years. In 2016, the organization resettled 376 people, then 281 people in 2017 and 241 people last year. Andrea McAllister, community outreach specialist at the Vancouver office, said this is due to the Trump administration lowering the cap on refugees admitted annually, from 75,000 in 2015 to 45,000 in 2018. (About half that amount were actually resettled last year.) McAllister said that this year the cap is 30,000, the smallest since the passage of the Refugee Act of 1980. Fewer refugees coming in means fewer people are placed and served in communities like Vancouver. It also means those organizations receive less federal funding and may struggle to stay afloat. “We’re hoping to hang on and do the work,” McAllister said. “Awareness and support are really important right now especially.” Lutheran Community Services Northwest, which is based in SeaTac and also has offices in Portland, is one of five agencies resettling refugees in Washington. By law, refugee households receive 90 days of services. Before households arrive in Vancouver, Lutheran Community Services Northwest secures housing, furnishings and food. They meet refugees at the airport and connect them to services that build self-sufficiency including medical screenings, employment programs, job coaching, English as a Second Language classes, temporary cash assistance and registering children for school. This year, the organization’s goal is to resettle 250 people in Vancouver. With limitations put on who can travel to the United States, most refugees are from the former Soviet Union, McAllister said. According to UNHCR The UN Refugee Agency, an unprecedented 68.5 million people around the world have been forced from home, including 25.4 million refugees; more than half of those refugees are children. “That’s a huge number, and we’re doing the best we can,” McAllister said. “We want to the see the number of people we welcome increase. We know Vancouver is a place where people can thrive.” The UN Refugee Agency says every day 44,400 people are forced to flee their homes due to conflict and persecution. More than half of refugees worldwide came from South Sudan, Afghanistan and Syria. “We just want people to be aware of the crisis,” McAllister said. “People aren’t choosing this. This is something that’s traumatic and forcibly happening to them.” Learn more about local refugee resettlement and the work of Lutheran Community Services Northwest at Thursday’s forum or online at lcsnw.org . If You Go What: Refugee Community Forum. When: 1 to 2:30 p.m. Thursday. Where: YWCA Community Room, 3609 Main St., Vancouver. More info: Contact Andrea McAllister at 360-787-4726.'

'I Want To Go Back': The Yazidi Girls Who Did Not Want To Be Rescued From ISIS

Community NPR

The girls, ages 10 and 11, were held captive for years and remember nothing of their Yazidi heritage. They miss the ISIS woman who looked after them and tell rescuers they want to return to her.
'The girls, ages 10 and 11, were held captive for years and remember nothing of their Yazidi heritage. They miss the ISIS woman who looked after them and tell rescuers they want to return to her. (Image credit: Jane Arraf/NPR)'

Vital Statistics

Community The Columbian

'Marriage licenses APPLICATIONS FILED Dills, Malissa Quinn, 28, Vancouver, and Cook, Alexander Steven, 29, Vancouver. Hoisington, Whitney Breanne, 28, Portland, and Tremain, Shane Alan, 29, Portland. Holtzlander, Paris Elizabeth, 21, La Center, and McCutchen, Dalton Grady, 22, Owasso, Okla. Martin, Namon Earl, 51, Ridgefield, and Orick, Christina Renee, 31, Ridgefield. Mitchell, Justin Kyle, 37, Vancouver, and Elizondo, Elizabeth Ann, 37, Vancouver. Pacholl, Natalie Whitcraft, 40, Vancouver, and Hughes, David Craig Jr., 46, Vancouver. Rose, Aiden Douglas, 19, Ridgefield, and Liddle, Isabella Grace-Katleen, 18, Vancouver. Schaller, McKenzie Mae, 21, Columbia, S.C., and Danberg, Preston Douglas, 21, Columbia. Schaub, Courtney Jo, 26, Vancouver, and Kulu, Alec Taylor, 26, Vancouver. Simonds, Brandon Alan, 28, Vancouver, and Douglas, Megan Marie, 25, Oak Grove, Ore. Trajanovska, Sandra, 34, Vancouver, and Morrow, Darryl Heron Jr., 32, Vancouver. Yates, Jonathan Carlock, 23, Portland, and Ostic, Kylie Ann, 24, Portland.'

Cruising in the Age of Consent

Community theatlantic.com

Gay men once developed unspoken codes to ensure safety in the hunt for sex. Can they help #MeToo do the same?
'Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series about the gay-rights movement and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. H unting for answers to one of life’s great questions, the lesbian writer Rita Mae Brown pasted on a mustache in 1975 and walked into a bathhouse for gay men. “The adventure attracted me, but besides that I’ve been raised with the constantly repeated notion that women’s sexuality and men’s sexuality are absolutely different,” she wrote in her essay “Queen for a Day: A Stranger in Paradise.” The all-male zone of Manhattan’s The Club would, she hoped, teach her how male and female sexuality diverged. To hear more feature stories, see our full list or get the Audm iPhone app. A robe hiding her female form, she marveled at the sex being had around every corner, from a dimly lit “maze” of semi-blind groping to an “unbelievable orgy room” of group activities to a corridor of cubicles in which men lay waiting for partners. Quickly, she began to form theories. “Men look at each other differently than men look at women,” she observed. “The leer is gone, the thinly disguised hostility of the street vanishes … The transaction boils down to: curiosity, no connection, disconnection.” The way people touched felt foreign, too. As a stranger reached for her groin, Brown’s “first response was to turn around and smash the offender’s face in.” Later, to one man who hugged her from behind, she whispered, “Thank you but I’ve been here for an hour and I’m tired.” The man left her alone. “The easiness of refusal is incredible,” she wrote. “If you say ‘no’ it means ‘no,’ that’s all, and that simple ‘no’ also protects fragile egos. Sex isn’t a weapon here, it’s a release.” Read during today’s #MeToo wave, Brown’s vision of a “paradise” packed with men groping unabashedly yet respectfully may sound like a hallucination. But many gay men might not find the scene so strange. Yes, assimilation and smartphones—and, before them, legal crackdowns amid the AIDS crisis—have thinned the ranks of spots like The Club. Even so, 50 years after a police raid on the Stonewall Inn catalyzed the mainstream LGBTQ movement, gay people still maintain spheres of separation from the wider world: nightclubs, vacation spots, and dating apps where like can meet like. In those places, folks who otherwise might edit themselves for the straight world find the miraculous-seeming freedom to directly pursue their desires. This pursuit can take forms as mild as dinner and a movie. It can also involve a crossing of physical boundaries that bears an undeniable resemblance to the surprise kisses and below-belt grabs called out in the recent reckoning with sexual harassment. In Provincetown, Massachusetts, where I’ve spent portions of the past few summers, I’ve found it impossible to avoid comparisons. Long a queer haven, the Cape Cod artist colony grew into an internationally renowned LGBTQ party spot during the same era when Brown made her New York–bathhouse visit. Now day-trippers of all sorts (heterosexuals, too) pop in, and the particular flavor of queer varies from week to week: lesbians for Memorial Day and the “Girl Splash” event, ab-flaunting men around Independence Day, scruffier types for July’s “Bear Week.” What’s constant is that an otherwise ironclad rule of life gets flipped to glorious effect. Instead of figuring that everyone is straight, you can figure that everyone isn’t. I’ll never forget my first run to the Provincetown Stop & Shop, during Bear Week. The store was as overlit and Clorox-scented as any suburban supermarket, but the near-total absence of women pushing carts lent an almost science-fictional vibe. Shoppers scanned not only the wares on the shelves, but one another, in a way that recalled Larry Kramer’s description of “cruising” in his 1978 satirical novel, Faggots : “You give it a little look, pretending not to look, but being able to see, out of the corner of your eye only, if anyone else is pretending not to look back at you. If you see someone else pretending not to look, you look the other way. Only after a few moments do you look back, to see if he’s still looking.” On offer in Provincetown are all the summer adventures typical of a quaint seaside destination: dining, sailing, pool lounging, beach-going. There is also easy sex for those who want it. Bars nestle close enough to houses and hotels that it’s common to meet someone, take him home, and then go out again. Certain establishments feature certain corners where men huddle and unzip. Other spots, though smaller than the bathhouse of Brown’s essay, function a lot like The Club, right down to her description of the orgy room: “The silence amazed me. Seventy-five to one hundred men packed [in] … and not one word was spoken.” Sex spaces such as these call back to when queer life had to be furtive, for fear of danger, but also when, almost paradoxically, gay men found safety and eroticism by surrendering privacy together. Cruising in gay America now mostly happens online, but some patterns of behavior haven’t died. Whether in a hushed hookup spot or against the blare of a nightclub, encounters can begin with a nod or an eye-flick. Some begin with a touch. To dance on a summer night at Provincetown’s Atlantic House, one of the country’s oldest gay bars, is to feel the loss of bodily autonomy that comes in any crowd supercharged by the wide presumption of flirting. No one’s lower back, at the very minimum, goes ungrazed by strangers. I haven’t experienced anything traumatic amid the casual manhandling. Still, uneasy situations do arise. You might hear someone at Tea Dance—a jam-packed seaside cocktail hour—dissect the previous night with a joke about how what happened was dicier than anything Aziz Ansari was accused of. You might see a couple fend off an uninvited set of limbs inserting themselves into a leather-party make-out session. Last summer, a man wearing a kilt and nothing under it paid a social visit to the house I was staying in and, without warning, lifted his hem and straddled a housemate who’d been reading on the front lawn. The guy’s behavior was gross, we agreed. It was also laughed off as “gays being gays,” as my somewhat rattled friend put it after he pushed his way out from under the kilt. Gays being gays sounds a lot like the boys will be boys excuse-making that the #MeToo movement has discredited. But it also recalls Brown’s conclusions about the bathhouse. There, she wrote, “you get groped, but it’s gentle compared to the kind of grabbing a woman gets on a subway.” She understood gay male spaces as different—not just because of the force of the grabs, but also because of their context. In the straight world, despite the “sexual revolution” (she put it in quotation marks), men were “geared to pursue you,” and refusals were fraught. For women, sex remained “a bargaining tool”—something too socially significant to be casual, and something that could be taken , possibly by violence. At The Club, by contrast, everybody really was after the same thing: sex for the sake of sex. Brute coercion didn’t appear to be an issue. She walked away wishing that she had her own bathhouse to go to—that such free pleasure might be possible for women, too. And yet something still nagged at her. “Is this fuck palace the ultimate conclusion of sexist logic,” she wondered, “or is it erotic freedom?” Today, a related question looms for gay men. The handsiness that can arise between guys has been condemned as a sign of male entitlement and predatory sexuality. It has also been celebrated as the liberated practice of a minority that fought hard for the right to its desires and for places to express them. In truth, gay male spaces—physical, digital, cultural—reflect a long and imperfect process of managing what happens when masculinity, homosexuality, and an often hostile wider society intersect. They deserve scrutiny both on their own terms and for what they reveal about the problems that gave rise to #MeToo. E ven as the queer movement has popularized an ever more fluid understanding of gender, #MeToo has highlighted a stubborn reality: Men violate boundaries in ways that women rarely do. A 2010 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey found that even among lesbians who had experienced sexual violence other than rape, 85 percent of them reported that their attackers had exclusively been male. That’s not to say women don’t ever abuse. Nor is it to suggest that patterns of sexual misconduct neatly fit a binary conception of gender (bisexual and trans people face some of the highest rates of sexual assault). And lots of men, of course, don’t harass. But the male gender is the one that is most urgently being called to account lately—and a room full of gay men is a room full of men. Sure enough, gay men joined the reckoning almost as soon as #MeToo went supernova, in late 2017. Just weeks after the fall of Harvey Weinstein, the actor Anthony Rapp alleged publicly that Kevin Spacey had tried to “get with me sexually” when Rapp was 14 and Spacey was in his 20s. More than a dozen men, some professionally subordinate to Spacey, came forward with their own accounts of sexual harassment and assault; many of them said Spacey grabbed their crotch without warning. ( Spacey tweeted that he did not remember the encounter with Rapp but apologized for “what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior.” Spacey’s representatives have since denied at least two of the men’s allegations , and Spacey is currently fighting two lawsuits arising from other accusations .) As the list of alleged same-sex predators began to grow, the film director Bryan Singer and the Metropolitan Opera conductor James Levine appeared among the names. (Both men deny any wrongdoing.) [ Read: Bryan Singer’s accusers speak out ] These stories fit a familiar pattern of powerful guys taking monstrous advantage of their status. What, if anything, such accusations reveal about queer men hasn’t prompted much discussion beyond suggestions that the closet (whether the victim or the aggressor or both are in it) makes reporting crimes harder. Yet as alarm has intensified about drunken, horny subcultures of straight folks—nightclubs, frat parties, music festivals where women report rampant abuses—some gay men have begun to wonder whether their own confabs are consent catastrophes . Broaching that idea in public risks reviving old images of gay promiscuity and predation at just the moment when such stereotypes are losing their bite, thanks to the growing visibility of the queer experience in all its variety. But now that harassment of every sort is on trial, the issue seems unavoidable. “How does Harvey Weinstein happen? Visit a gay bar with me,” the journalist Marc Ambinder wrote in a 2017 USA Today column about the way queer guys grind and grope on the dance floor. In a 2018 piece in the LGBTQ magazine Wussy , the writer Alex Franco recounted his memory of an app-facilitated hookup that turned menacing when the other man tried to prevent Franco from leaving. Gay men, he wrote, “can either start the work now, making clear-communicated consent a foundation of our interactions, or we can wait for a scandal to ignite.” That unwanted advances frequently harm gay men is already clear. According to a CDC survey based on self-reports, the share of gay men who have experienced sexual violence other than rape is almost as great as the share of straight and lesbian women who have. Though gender difference is out of the picture, the worst cases of same-sex abuse still tend to involve power inequalities: disparities of wealth, age, clout, physical size, and intoxication levels. Race can figure in too, as when a black man at a predominantly white bar risks being taken for the threat rather than the victim if he resists harassers. Gay men often don’t report attacks to authorities out of fear of being outed, mistreated by homophobic cops, and subjected to stigmas that cast male victims as weak. Among competing explanations for the particular maleness of predation, one theory rests heavily on biology, and the gay cruising mentality can serve as a prop for that case. “Remove women, and you see male sexuality unleashed more fully, as men would naturally express it, if they could get away with it,” the columnist Andrew Sullivan wrote in an online piece for New York magazine titled “ #MeToo and the Taboo Topic of Nature .” “It’s full of handsiness and groping and objectification and lust and aggression and passion and the ruthless pursuit of yet another conquest.” This testosterone-focused view—which paints the #MeToo movement as hopelessly naive about gender—comes close to excusing male lechery as inevitable. It also implies a depressing perspective on homosexuality. Those guys who were called sissies throughout their youth? They grow up to embody the very aspects of masculinity now widely seen as destructive. An alternative analysis of predatory male sexuality comes to the same sad conclusion by pointing to nurture—the way men are raised in a sexist society—rather than nature. Here, too, gay men can be deployed as an object lesson. In a 2017 essay for the queer web publication them , the activist and writer Darnell L. Moore fretted that even his quietest ogling of attractive men was, fundamentally, rooted in rape culture. “I was taught that people are bodies, are things, are objects, are ours to own and consume,” he wrote. “The ardent faith in the superiority of maleness, manhood, and masculinity (even among men who rightly deviate from those ideas) is the reason so many men believe the exterior and interior parts of another person’s being are ours to access and dominate.” Plenty of gay scenes are indeed steeped in machismo: Just check out self-proclaimed “Masc4Masc” Grindr users who sneer at lisps and loose wrists. But the queer art of cruising the street—born of lonely, thwarted yearning for touch—has always relied on a silent, probing gaze. In Moore’s telling, that gaze is inseparable from the piggish entitlement of catcallers and casting-couch creeps. By this logic, it’s not behavior that most urgently needs reforming, but desire itself. A ny portrayal of gay men as a lab-pure reduction of maleness—whether inborn or socially constructed—is too simple. Maybe many queer men do believe that male valor is proved by conquest. Or maybe they’ve transcended traditionally blinkered social messaging about sex and moral virtue. Maybe they’re living out some evolutionary drive. Maybe they’re propelled by all of the above, to different degrees, depending on who they are. In any case, sexism does not bear down on them in the same way that it does on women. Gay men’s classic sources of trauma and violence stem less from being hit on than from being literally hit by homophobes. Safety hasn’t typically meant freedom from carnal pursuit; safety has meant the possibility of it. Which is to say that gay men have long needed to balance the free, equal, and even crass seeking of sex against the possibility of its abuse. If the #MeToo movement has asked men to rethink their desires with an eye toward the danger those desires can entail, that’s not a new challenge in queer history. Nor, however, is the worry that the wider world’s moralizing could destroy the refuges that have been built. “It’s inevitable that during this cultural shift, gay men should question their leniency regarding the grope,” the writer and dancer Rennie McDougall observed in Slate . “But the sanitization of gay spaces—a total cleaning up of our sometimes messy brushes with desire—would be a profound loss.” Many fear that treating gay people’s #MeToo issues as identical to straight people’s will end up equating safety with, to use McDougall’s term, the “sex-phobic propriety” that gays have battled against. That battle over the past half century has led to a radical cultural achievement. Walk around Provincetown at the height of summer and you’ll see gaggles of drunk young bros, throuples in padlocked chain collars, and also actual daddies doting on their actual children. You’ll see singlets and jackboots and tutus and wigs. You’ll hear casually misogynistic comments alongside exceptionally woke ones, sometimes sparking loud arguments about sexism. (Do straight guys do this?) On display is the wide range of gay male life—the variety of ways in which a group of people move past being told that they’re not men, that they must hide, that their desires are perverse. In the process, gay men have helped make room in the broader culture for different kinds of manliness. Situationally sensitive rules of the road have developed—evidence, perhaps heartening for #MeToo, that men can be made to moderate themselves. In 1975, Martin S. Weinberg and Colin J. Williams of Alfred Kinsey’s Institute for Sex Research visited gay bathhouses across the U.S. and made observations very similar to Brown’s about the nonverbal cues that men used to negotiate liaisons. “Sexual invitations follow an etiquette involving simple and nonabrasive rituals … that are characterized by their gentleness,” they wrote. “Usually they are not forceful or persistent.” Such codes of conduct were often “an import from the wider homosexual culture,” which is to say that how people cruised appeared to be learned behavior. The generally nonjudgmental Kinsey researchers compared getting a lay at the baths to browsing at a shopping center, but more than two decades later, in a 1999 essay about bathhouse design and etiquette , the artist Ira Tattelman wrote that Weinberg and Williams had overstated the “impersonal” aspect of cruising. “By the late 1970s, men were lining up to get into the baths and arriving at the baths in couples,” attesting to a new “intersection of private lives and public personas” for gay men, he wrote. Sex could be social. Even the most secretive kind of hookups have relied on community. “One man I interviewed was only half joking when he argued that the Rambles in Central Park was the safest place in New York City at night,” the sociologist John Hollister reported in a 1999 article on men who have sex with men in public. “Some met regularly with the same people and sat at picnic tables watching who was following whom, and occasionally intervening if someone was threatened by a predator.” In his 1998 essay collection, Times Square Red, Times Square Blue , the novelist Samuel R. Delany described his decades-long habit of having sex with men in the seats of New York City’s now-shuttered pornographic cinemas as not just titillating but downright edifying. Strangers across social strata made connections as they got off together and kept watch for troublemakers—predators, narcs, thieves. Delany once brought along a female friend curious to gawk (a reprise of Brown). “I thought it would be more frenetic—people just grabbing each other and throwing them down in the shadows and having their way,” she told him afterward. “But it was so easygoing. And you didn’t tell me … that so many people say ‘no.’ And that everybody pretty much goes along with it.” The Eros 1 theater feels a long way away from 21st-century gentrified gay bars, where a vodka-soda can cost $10 and a too-sloppy make-out session can result in expulsion. For queer folks to find one another may once have involved groping in the dark, but now all the courtship rituals that straights partake in—from meet-the-parents holiday dinners to elaborate wedding preparations—are available. At the same time, explicit adventuring clearly retains its appeal. As before, what may look like free-for-alls can actually be governed by a sort of forbearance. A friend of mine noticed last summer that during the sweatier shirtless gatherings of Provincetown’s Bear Week, the grope had been replaced by a chummier form of contact. “Someone would lightly rub your tummy and look at you as a way of gauging if you were interested in anything,” he observed. “You could just touch their hand lightly and respond ‘No thank you’ without any ill will.” He’d been annoyed by unwanted touching at parties in the past, but found this variant—rooted in a specific place and set of people—charming. Meanwhile, the anonymous cruise has gotten an update with apps such as Grindr and Scruff, where the hunt for sex is assumed and where conversations sometimes kick off with the sending of an explicit picture (a male tendency notoriously irritating to women on Tinder). Faces can be obscured, and the exchange of names an afterthought. Though abuses do occur, conduct on these platforms is ritualized for safety and mutual understanding. Many profiles include HIV status, and asking when someone was last tested for STDs is pro forma. Banter also inevitably involves the question “What are you into?,” which invites discussion of who tops and who bottoms, whether both parties just want to cuddle, and so on. What are you into? could be thought of as the unfussy, even hot, prelude to something often derided as a feminist pipe dream: affirmative consent. The popular sex columnist Dan Savage, who’s gay, frequently advises straight people to import this norm. It starts a conversation about expectations, can be a form of dirty-talk foreplay, and recognizes that a hookup doesn’t necessarily mean penetration. “If a man is getting with a woman, the conversation about consent usually ends with ‘Let’s go to bed,’ ” Savage told me. “Because what’s next is assumed. It’s vaginal intercourse.” But with gay men, “half the time, when somebody says ‘What are you into?,’ they just want to do oral, or mutually masturbate, or some fantasy thing.” Widen the conversation to a range of possibilities, he suggests, and a less fraught sexual paradigm—less all-or-nothing, conquest-or-defeat—emerges. It was just this kind of openness about naming and pursuing one’s most visceral desires that Brown coveted as she left The Club in 1975. “Despite changing attitudes toward sex, we can’t create our version of the baths because, for most of us, sex for the sake of sex is still wrong—whether you are a heterosexual woman or a lesbian,” she wrote. “We scramble to invest sex with love and we call men dogs because they’ve been taught to separate the two.” Much has changed for women since then, of course, including anti–“slut shaming” campaigns to cheer on the female pursuit of casual sex. Bathhouses catering to women of all sexualities, though rare, have cropped up to offer experiences that, by reputation, seem aligned with Brown’s dream: “Our Xanadu would be less competitive than the gay men’s baths, more laughter would ring in the sauna, and you’d touch not only to fuck but just to touch.” Yet being allowed to “distinguish between sex and love and her needs for both,” as Brown put it back when that freedom felt out of reach for a woman, has not stopped the kind of abuses that have inflamed #MeToo. Take the case of Brooklyn’s much-publicized House of Yes , a female-founded “temple of expression,” where sexually charged events like the “Pants Off Dance Off” take place. Since its 2015 opening, the venue has heard complaints about the same male groping of women that has long plagued nightlife. Now the dance floor is patrolled by “ consenticorns ”—trained volunteers wearing light-up horns, part of a consent program that includes cautionary signage and waivers—who watch to make sure that everyone parties respectfully, and are ready to intervene if necessary. “People think of this as an ‘anything-goes’ kind of club,” one of its co-founders, Anya Sapozhnikova, told Vice . “But by ‘anything goes,’ we mean extreme self-expression, rather than extreme sexual harassment. There is a difference.” Consenticorns might seem like a parody of safe-space coddling. But to judge by the continued sold-out crowds at House of Yes, and by the hot-and-heavy atmosphere of the disco extravaganza I dropped into recently, the initiative hasn’t tamped down the fun. Indeed, in spirit if not in specifics, the consenticorn agenda resembles the sort of policing to protect pleasure that queer subcultures have long experimented with. Bringing casual sex into the open—for the gay world, yes, but also the straight one—was a first step. If participants, and especially men, turn out to need some taming, the goal is not to chasten them but to enable more fun. For gay guys, the choreography of cruising—the nod of encouragement, the welcomed touch, the ascertaining of who wants what—will keep evolving as people become freer to talk about the ways in which it can go wrong. Recently, the friend who told me about the Bear Week belly rubs showed me an emailed invitation to a private all-male sex party in a major city. It warned that “NO MEANS NO,” but also got specific with a rule “not to pile onto another couple or group” without the participants clearly expressing interest—the opposite of the impromptu grab-and-parry paradigm Brown described in the orgy room of 1975. Yet laden with pictures of muscled bodies and information about the sex supplies on offer, the invitation could hardly be called prudish, unliberated, or panicky. Why would it be? The excitement of any queer enclave relies not on risk but on shared security, the core of a Xanadu that many might welcome—and that is still under construction. This article appears in the July 2019 print edition with the headline “Cruising in the Age of Consent.”'

Triangle UFO sighting: New York Post reporter reveals close encounter

Community New York Post

In this episode of “The Basement Office,” Steven Greenstreet reveals a close encounter he had with a black, triangular UFO in Provo, Utah, in 2003. Nick Pope helps Steven come to terms with what he saw, and helps explain why so many similar UFO
'In this episode of “The Basement Office,” Steven Greenstreet reveals a close encounter he had with a black, triangular UFO in Provo, Utah, in 2003. Nick Pope helps Steven come to terms with what he saw, and helps explain why so many similar UFO sightings go unreported. They discuss why it couldn’t have been a..'

Disability Is Not a Tragedy

Community theatlantic.com

The real problem is that families are primed to see a fetal anomaly as a catastrophe in waiting.
'Despite the fear and anxiety that many parents of disabled children initially have, published research shows that—with the proper support—they routinely end up satisfied with their lives and optimistic about their children’s chances for future happiness. Moreover, the lives of adults with impairments are hardly devoid of joy. One of us is able-bodied; the other was disabled by a spinal-cord injury. Because public facilities now have ramps and elevators, we are regularly able to eat out together, frequent local watering holes, and travel to a big city. The same goes for most of our wheelchair-using friends. The political rhetoric around abortion tells a different story. Unwittingly, abortion-rights opponents are reinforcing the dangerous idea that disabilities are an unbearable burden and, in the absence of government coercion, might be snuffed out altogether. In recent years, legislators in a number of states have debated or enacted measures that prohibit selective abortions on the basis of fetal sex, race, or disability. Some measures specifically forbid abortions prompted by the discovery that a fetus has Down syndrome. In a lengthy opinion in a case involving Indiana’s ban on selective abortion, Justice Clarence Thomas noted that, when Down syndrome is diagnosed prenatally in the United States, the pregnancy is usually terminated . Thomas claimed that abortion is being used to “achieve eugenic purposes.” As it happens, Thomas was concurring in the court’s decision not to rule on the Indiana law, thereby leaving intact a lower court’s ruling striking it down. But the issue will surely be back. Meanwhile, in supporting laws like the one in Indiana, a bevy of conservative pundits have echoed Thomas’s concerns and his language. For many people, including us, the thought of aborting a fetus because of an impairment is a troubling one. But legalized abortion is not the problem to be solved. Beyond undermining women’s autonomy unfairly, bans on selective abortion also worsen the stigma against people with disabilities—while doing nothing to address the practical issues they and their families face. Rather, what needs to be challenged is the notion that a physical or developmental disability is a tragedy. To reassure parents that they can, in fact, raise children with significant impairments, American society must to do more to emphasize that disability is a normal part of human diversity—and must provide more cultural, social, and emotional support for the families that experience it. Unfortunately, popular depictions of disabled people in literature, film, and elsewhere make this difficult. Figures such as Shakespeare’s villainous Richard III or the rebarbative Mr. Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life have long signaled that living with an impairment must be miserable. But those who actually engage with disabled people—rather than avoiding them on the street or cordoning off their children for fear of seeming rude—will begin to create a far more complex picture. Interacting with impaired individuals—and reading their work—will also impress upon able-bodied people that disability can offer the kinds of benefits we now attribute to other marginalized identities. An increasing number of employers are realizing the advantages of hiring individuals on the autism spectrum, for instance. Disabilities vary widely in their severity, of course. Yet while there is no denying that certain fetal anomalies result in quick and devastating loss of life , many of the impaired bodies at the center of this most recent abortion debate are shrouded in other misconceptions. Contrary to popular perception, myriad individuals with Down Syndrome live normal lifespans, read, play sports, and enjoy relatively independent, happy lives. Studies have also debunked the assumption that they derail their parents’ marriages or the lives of their siblings , many of whom report that they’ve learned to be more caring and tolerant as a result of growing up with someone who’s disabled. Even so, these families still need a broader embrace. Let’s start by realizing that disability and reproductive rights can be mutually informative. For a woman to have a genuine choice about whether to carry a pregnancy to term, her  access to safe and legal abortion must be coupled with the freedom to continue her pregnancy without fear of ruining her career, finances, or health. In our society, the physical and emotional costs of raising a disabled child far exceed those of bringing up able-bodied children. That should be as central a concern to advocates of reproductive rights as restricted access to birth control and abortion. In some cases, existing policies can help close this disparity. The embattled Affordable Care Act , for example, prohibits various forms of discrimination by insurance companies and—at least in certain states—has allowed more families of disabled children to enroll in Medicaid. (The Trump administration’s proposal to cut spending on Medicaid is already hurting disabled people.) We also need new policies that better support the more than 16.8 million individuals who take care of disabled children in the United States. Female caregivers—few are male—are 2.5 times more likely than non-caregivers to live in poverty, and 23 percent of people who have cared for a family member for five years or more report poor health . This wouldn’t necessarily be the case if the United States did more to educate employers about the needs of their employees with disabled kids, insisted that child-care professionals become more adept at interacting with these kids, and offered more resources for caregivers, including the ability for them to take time off. To that end, friends and local community members could educate themselves and volunteer their time to offer respite care for the impaired children in their lives, or at least make sure their families aren’t shunned . The empirical evidence is clear: The more social support that parents of children with disabilities receive, the easier they can cope . A world where disabled fetuses are brought to term is one in which mothers do not bear complete responsibility for the care of their children, and where disability itself is destigmatized . Ensuring that disabled individuals, and their families, have the assistance they need will do far more to protect disabled lives than any selective abortion ban ever could.'