Russia has undergone no shortage of bad press in recent months. Its newly adopted anti-gay propaganda hve prompted outrage the world over, and have already put a damper on events such as the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, months or even years in advance.
Now, The Atlantic is reporting that Lansing, Michigan, is joining the growing list of global municipalities that are loooking to sever ties with their Russian "sister cities", which already includes the likes of Milan, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Reykjavik. Thus, as Russia inists on moving contrary to the global march toward human rights, the consequences could prove to have political and economic impact:
"St. Petersburg was, for hundreds of years, a city that took pride in its relative openness to global culture. When Peter the Great founded the city in 1703, he envisioned it as a "window on the West," a place where the values of the Enlightenment could be explored and celebrated. It was designed and built by the finest talents from around the world.
"Now, St. Petersburg is leading the way backward. Russia and its cities, by pursuing draconian anti-gay policies, are shutting themselves out of a global community where the benefits of an open society are ever more apparent."
It's no secret that international events such as the Olympics and the World Cup have the potential to generate a host of financial benefits for its host city and host nation. This is, of course, why so many cities vie for a chance to host such events. That said, should hosting a global event prove to be the potential source of controversy for the event's governing body, it would almost certainly deter them from coming back to that same city of country in the future. That's also not counting international boycotts of Russian products, which already have large companies such as SPI Group looking for ways to completely sever ties with the anti-gay nation. Let's also not forget the tourism dollars that Russia stands to lose in the future, from both gay tourists as well as those whom support human rights in general.
Finally, as The Atlantic illustrated by presenting the story of journalist and activist Masha Gessen, Russia's anti-gay laws have prompted an exodus of gay citizens, as well as their advocates. This only exacerbates the country's appartent desire "to shut down intellectually," and cost the country potentially vital intellectual capital. Thus, while the short term costs of losing "sister city" partnerships may be small, in the words of The Atlantic, "They are losing their future."
Laura Prepon had originally auditioned for the lead role in the show but was eventually cast as lesbian drug trafficker Alex Vaus. Canada.com interviewed Prepon about how excited she is to portray a lesbian on television as well as her fanbase in the LGBT community. Read a segment of the interview below:
Do you think there’s still a stigma to playing a lesbian on television?
"...there are a lot of lesbians on this show. Besides the L Word there aren’t lesbians portrayed like this on television. For me, I’ve never played a lesbian before and I think it’s awesome. As a learning experience playing this love for someone on camera and having it be a women was very interesting because I’m straight and I’ve only done it with men on camera.
There is a big gay and lesbian community out there and it’s good to have more relationships on television that they can relate to and I’m glad we could be a part of that.
Have you gotten any fan letters from that community?
Dude, lesbians love me. I’m tall, I have a deep voice, I’m like, ‘Hello, catnip!’ Now that this show’s out I’m curious what happens from here because whenever I go out lesbians try to, y’know, ‘turn me.’
One of my really good friends in L.A. manages one of the biggest gay bars in L.A. and I’m usually there with all of my girls and immediately everyone thinks we’re lesbians because we don’t act like normal girls do — meaning that I grew up with guys and the reason I hang out with these girls is because they’re not girly girls. We go out with no make-up and our hair in a pony-tail just rocking it out like ‘Who cares?’ So when I’m hanging out at this place there’s been a couple of instances where I’ve had to say to girls ‘You’re awesome, but I’m straight.’ And they never believe me! But whatever, we’re all just looking for love so who cares?
Read the entire interview here.
There have been conflicting reports this week about Prepon leaving the show. The official word from Netflix is that those rumors are "not accurate."
During a recent speech which announced the creation of the State Department's Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives, John Kerry described "global climate change" as "a challenge to our responsibilities as the guardians--safe guarders of God's creation." Those comments apparently didn't sit well with the likes of Rush Limbaugh, who spoke out against Kerry's remarks on his soon-to-be-dropped radio show earlier this week:
"See, in my humble opinion, folks, if you believe in God, then intellectually you cannot believe in manmade global warming … You must be either agnostic or atheistic to believe that man controls something that he can’t create."
Thankfully, ThinkProgress presented overwhelming evidence to the contrary in their report, stating that:
"In reality, millions of church-goers in the United States already recognize that the evidence for climate change is undeniable. A December 2012 survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute found that strong majorities of most American faith traditions agreed that the recent string of natural disasters were the result of climate change, especially among mainline protestants (65 percent) and Catholics (60 percent)."
Of course, those attempting to support Limbaugh's assertion may argue that popular opinion does not necessarily dictate the rules and teachings of any particular church. Luckily, ThinkProgress goes on:
"What’s more, scores of religious institutions have responded to our shifting environment in ways that fully acknowledge humanity’s role in creating the crisis. The United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America have all issued statements or launched initiatives aimed at acting on global warming, and the United States Council of Catholic Bishops has an entire section of their website dedicated to combating climate change and its disproportionate impact on the world’s poor."
Apparently, Pope Francis even recognizes the existance of the phenomenon, and made it apparent as part of a prayer earler this year:
"Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of good will: let us be ‘protectors’ of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment."
Unfortunately, according to ThinkProgress, Limbaugh isn't alone in expressing this erroneous sentiment, and chronicled similar statements made by members of Congress:
"On Tuesday, Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) told constituents that 'It wasn’t just a few years ago, what was the problem that existed? It wasn’t global warming, we were gonna all be an ice cube. We’re not ice cubes. Our climate will continue to change because of the way God formed the earth.' North Carolina Republican Virginia Foxx lamented that some environmentalists 'think that we, human beings, have more impact on the climate and the world than God does.' Representative John Shimkus (R-IL) told a congressional hearing: 'The earth will end only when God declares it is time to be over. Man will not destroy this earth. This earth will not be destroyed by a flood.'"
Perhaps all of these public figures should consult those sitting next to them on Sunday before speaking on behalf of their entire congregations (or religion).
Google's minutes-long outage yesterday caused web traffic to plummet by 40 percent.
Lady Gaga and Perez Hilton are engulfed in a war on Twitter.
The CIA officially confirms what everyone has known for years: Area 51 exists.
What this summer's monumental DOMA ruling might mean for married gay couples' retirement.
The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles marks 35 years.
Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott openly boasts about redistricting during the 2011 elections: "...both houses of the Texas Legislature were controlled by large Republican majorities, and their redistricting decisions were designed to increase the Republican Party’s electoral prospects at the expense of the Democrats."
Frank Ocean's ex strips down for the sake of art.
The awful tragedy of Internet shame for the current youth.
Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark resumes after yet another accident.
The commercially available jet pack will become a reality next year, thanks to the Martin Aircraft Company - for $150,000: "The structure consists of an engine and two ducts — those wing-like structures coming out of the side — and a pilot console. The pilot can stand on the console, strap in and use joystick-style controls to fly around."
Push for marriage equality in the Aloha State: "The state's four-member congressional delegation issued statements Friday urging Hawaii lawmakers to pass immediately a state measure for marriage equality."
Fired lesbian phys ed teacher Carla Hale will not return to her old job.
Singer Chris Brown ordered to perform 1,000 more hours of community service.
The effects from this past February's Russian meteor lingered for months: "Some of the asteroid's remnants crashed to the ground, but hundreds of tons of dust remained in the atmosphere."
Deciding to take a break from being a homophobic loony, the Ender's Game author is in the media for being a racist loony. In Orson Scott Card's own words:
Obama will put a thin veneer of training and military structure on urban gangs, and send them out to channel their violence against Obama's enemies.
Instead of doing drive-by shootings in their own neighborhoods, these young thugs will do beatings and murders of people "trying to escape" -- people who all seem to be leaders and members of groups that oppose Obama.
Police released sketches of two of the six suspects wanted in an anti-gay attack on couple in NYC's Chelsea neighborhood. The two men were walking hand-in-hand shortly after midnight on Wednesday before being attacked by the mob of men.
Peter Nortman and his boyfriend, Michael Felenchak, had left the Chelsea Cinemas just after midnight early Wednesday when they were confronted by two men on West 24th Street, according to police.
One said "what are you looking at, you f------." The attackers then started punching the victims while hurling anti-gay slurs. Police say four more men approached, who were believed to be friends of the suspects, and joined in the assault.
Nortman and Felenchak tried to fight back, but were ultimately overpowered.
"We did what we could," Nortman told NBC 4 New York. "It was six of them and two of us."
The victims were both taken to the hospital, Nortman with a bruise to the head and Felenchak with a wound under his bottom lip that required seven stitches.
On Thursday, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn held a press conference with both Nortman and Felenchak in attendance.
The attack has forced Nortman to avoid the area. According to the NY Daily News:
"I’m not going to take that corner (for granted) anymore,” said Peter Nortman, who was pummeled during the anti-gay attack on W. 24th St. and Ninth Ave. just after midnight Wednesday. “I’m going to walk a little further and see what’s going on first.
Police are investigating the attack as a hate crime.
Watch a CBS2 news report on the attack, AFTER THE JUMP.