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New PrEP Studies Show 86% Reduction In HIV Transmission Rates, Even As 'On-Demand' Treatment


Truvada taken as an HIV preventative is shown to be an incredibly effective way of stopping the spread of HIV. In 2014 the iPrEx OLE study showed that when taken between 3 and 7 times a week, seroconversions were close to 0%. A new study from Britain called PROUD has come out with some slightly different numbers, but numbers that are still encouraging: 86% of the men studied were protected by a Truvada regimen. Not as great as 99.99%, but still a good notch better than the 76% offered by condoms alone. Naturally, the best results are achieved when multiple prevention tools are used in tandem, and condoms plus PrEP make for an even more solid barrier.

Here's where things get interesting: the IPERGAY study out of Canada and France showed that the 86% efficacy can be achieved even when taken "on-demand", which is defined here as once 2 to 24 hours prior to sex and once after.

These "on-demand" results could completely change everything, as both cost and potential side effects are some of the biggest concerns voiced against Truvada. The cost per pill is still somewhere in the neighborhood of $50, unsubsidized, so it's still not within everyone's reach, but being able to drop $100 without insurance for a preventative measure broadens the reach far beyond the standard of uninsured or underinsured people going without because they can't pony up $3k+ for a month's supply. Also, while the side-effects of the pill are minimal and typically reversible, just two pills could provide the needed benefit without being enough to make most of those side effects kick in.

Stand by for Michael Weinstein to rehash his accusation that Truvada is a party drug...though if Truvada is a party drug, does that make condoms party balloons?

'Fallstreak Hole' Cloud Formation Causes 'Oohs' and 'Aahs' in British Columbia: VIDEO


Skywatchers in British Columbia are freaking out about two separate intense cloud formations seen there in the past two days.

"Fallstreak holes" or "hole punch" cloud formations happen when cloud layers made of supercooled water droplets get disturbed by something (most often an airplane) causing their center to drop out the middle as ice crystals.

Sacramento meteorologist Mark Finan explains one which appeared in that area a few years ago, AFTER THE JUMP...



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Canadian School Under Fire for Hiding Student Mural of 2 Boys Kissing After Complaints Surface


Students at Onoway Jr/Sr High School in Edmonton, Alberta are pushing back against an administrative decision to cover up one student's mural depicting two boys kissing, CBC reports:

"At the time we should have put more thought into the bigger picture," said principal James Trodden.

"There are a bunch of issues … What is appropriate? Should it be in a school, should you allow kissing?" he asked.

"Should you allow same sex couples to have a picture of kissing?"

The mural was hidden from view with a bulletin board, but students angry with the censorship removed the board Thursday. The mural is uncovered for now and the principal has said he hasn't yet decided if it will stay up when classes resume Monday. 

On Friday, a Facebook group entitled "Petition for OHS painting" was created to help build support for 16-year-old Kaela Wilton's mural. 

CTV News reports:

WiltonWilton told CTV Edmonton that when she pitched the concept a few weeks ago, her art teacher and principal gave their approval. Her painting, which features two men embracing and exchanging a kiss, was inspired by her desire to deliver a positive message about gay rights.

"I wanted to do something controversial," she said.

"Gay rights are something I've always felt strongly about," she added.

The school has a long tradition of allowing art students to empress themselves on school walls.

Wilton is in the process of creating a cover up for the mural in case it is censored permanently. She added:

"I want the comfortable to feel uncomfortable and the uncomfortable to feel comfortable."

Watch a CTV report on the story here

Kim Fu's ‘For Today I Am A Boy’: Book Review


Early in this uncommonly moving debut novel—the last book I read in 2014, and one of the best—the young narrator, Peter Huang, goes to the movies with his adored older sister Adele. The theater plays old movies, and they watch Sabrina, the classic film starring Audrey Hepburn. Sitting with his beautiful sister, heartbroken that in a few weeks Adele will leave for college, Peter sees in Hepburn an impossible ideal, an embodiment of the kind of woman he feels sure he was meant to be.

FuBut everything in Peter’s life seems designed to keep him from anything like an authentic self. The child of Chinese immigrants in a small Canadian town, Peter is the only boy in a family of four children, the answer to his father’s prayers. Peter’s father is in some ways desperate to assimilate—he refuses to speak Cantonese and forbids his wife from cooking their native cuisine—but he has deeply traditional ideas about gender and the duties of children. He gives Peter the Chinese name Juan Chaun, “powerful king,” and expects him to act accordingly.

But Peter can’t be the son his father wants, and he lives for stolen moments when he can imagine himself into a different life. Alone in the afternoons after school, he puts on his mother’s apron and cleans the house, then cooks a meal his sister will take credit for. When his father discovers that his son has been doing “women’s work,” his response is immediate and cruel.

Peter does find allies in his small town, people he can begin to share his secrets with, but it isn’t until he moves to Montreal as a young man that he has his first glimpses of queer life. And even here he can’t let himself make use of his new freedom. Years after he leaves home, even after his father’s death, Peter is still ruled by his parents’ expectations. He feels not just shame at being trans, but absolute certainty that anything like a full life is impossible.

It’s not surprising, then, that Peter’s first sexual experiences are bound up with violence. In one of the book’s most powerful sequences, he enters into an abusive relationship with a much older woman, who stages scenes of sexual sadism and racist humiliation. In a devastating scene, this woman dresses Peter as a woman and then chokes him in front of a mirror, so that “I could watch my own blissful face white out slowly, glowing like an angel’s, until I passed out.”

Kim FuStructured in short, intense fragments and poetic scenes, Kim Fu’s novel follows Peter’s life over three decades, and one of its strengths is that Peter’s coming of age doesn’t fit into any easy narrative of liberation. Even when he does fall in with a group of young people who seem entirely comfortable with their queer identities, with rich lives and loving relationships, Peter’s response, at least at first, is to feel less relieved than enraged. 

“Who were these kids?” Peter asks himself. “What right had they to be born into a world where they were taught to look endlessly into themselves…To ask themselves, and not be told, whether they were boys or girls?”

The novel doesn’t offer any easy answers to Peter’s questions, or to other questions he asks about family and gender and sex. It certainly resists any sense that there are ready-made answers to those questions, or that they can be resolved in anything other than individual, divergent, and partial ways.

In fact, the novel suggests, Peter’s best chance at happiness may not be in the urban queer community Montreal offers, but instead where he began, within his difficult, fractured family, and especially in his relationships with his three sisters, each of them desperate for a wholeness their lives seem to refuse them.

For Today I Am a Boy is an extraordinarily accomplished first novel, and Fu is a thrilling new voice. She’s at once compassionate toward her characters and uncompromising in her refusal of the usual novelistic resolutions of questions that remain intractable in lived experience. Lyrical, sometimes brutal, always beautiful, this is a brilliant book. 

Previous reviews...
Joyce Brabner’s ‘Second Avenue Caper
Shelly Oria’s ‘New York 1, Tel Aviv 0’
Colm Tóibín’s ‘Nora Webster’
Saeed Jones’s ‘Prelude to Bruise’
Garth Greenwell is the author of Mitko, which won the 2010 Miami University Press Novella Prize and was a finalist for the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award and a Lambda Award. His new novel, What Belongs to You, is forthcoming from Farrar, Straus and Giroux in September 2015. He lives in Iowa City, where he is an Arts Fellow at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.

Canadian Gay Adult Film Actor Found Guilty In Savage Murder, Dismemberment Of Chinese Student


The Quebec Superior Court found Canadian gay adult film actor Luka Rocca Magnotta guilty of first degree murder, among four other related charges, and sentenced to life imprisonment with no chance of applying for parole for 25 years for the brutal dismemberment and shocking murder of Chinese student Lin Jun reports Global NewsLin Diran, the father of Lin Jun, was present at the trial for the verdict while the rest of Lin's family lives in China. Lin Diran read an emotional statement after the conclusion of the trial.

Said Lin Diran:

"In one night, we lost a lifetime of hope, our futures, parts of our past. We do not want to tell our story because it is too sad to repeat. We cannot talk much about Lin Jun without talking about his murder. The murder has robbed us not only of Lin Jun but our ability to think and talk about him without feeling pain and shame."

Magnotta did not testify throughout the duration of the trial. Several defense psychiatrists testified Magnotta was schizophrenic and was in a state of psychosis when he killed Lin; others, testifying for the prosecution, said Magnotta had a personality disorder, with some citing his narcissistic behavior, and had the capacity to know the difference between right and wrong.

Screen Shot 2014-12-23 at 3.46.34 PMThe macabre nature of the crime made news around the world, with the story of Magnotta recording his murder of Lin Jun and mailing one of Jun's feet to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, while scattering the rest in public around parts of Canada is straight out of a horror movie. Magnotta's violent history began when he recorded himself on video killing kittens and posting the videos to the web. In 2010, an animal rights group connected Magnotta to the videos however, Magnotta spoke with the British tabloid The Sun, denying his involvement in the killing of the animals.

Magnotta also claimed he was dating Canadian serial killer Karla Homolka who, along with her husband, raped, murdered and tortured three school children including Homolka's younger sister. In May 2012, Magnotta kidnapped Jun and another man (whom he later let go), and videoed himself murdering Jun with an ice pick, which appears to be a sick homage to "Basic Instinct," and later committed necrophiliac acts on Jun's body. Magnotta posted "teasers" of the killing to the web calling the act, amongst others, "1 Lunatic, 1 Ice Pick."

After the mailings, Magnotta fled to Europe. In June 2012, a patron at a Berlin internet cafe recognized Magnotta, who was reading articles about himself on one of the computers, and called the police who arrested the deranged killer. At the conclusion of the trial, Magnotta did not apologize, or express remorse, about the killing to the court or Jun's father. Quebec Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer thanked the jury for performing their duties, especially after being subjected to horrifying video and image evidence of the crime.

Said Cournoyer: 

"We’ve asked a lot of you and you rose to the occasion and indeed proved that real and substantive justice is a reality in action. While it may not always be obvious to everyone, a jury trial is one of the most unfailing tests of a civilized country."

Peter LaBarbera Found Innocent Of Mischief In Canada, Says He's 'Sorry To Disappoint All The Nasty Gay Activists'


Anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera was found not guilty in a Canadian court Monday of a mischief charge stemming from his arrest in April for protesting at the University of Regina.

LaBarbera, of Illinois-based Americans for Truth About Homosexuality, and Canadian anti-gay activist Bill Whatcott were arrested after they refused to leave campus despite an order from police.

Officials alleged LaBarbera and Whatcott were violating the university's Respectful Workplace Policy, because students said they felt discriminated against during previous protests by Whatcott. Police asked LaBarbera and Whatcott to leave because they were in possession of graphic anti-gay materials, including a large sign saying "Sodomy is sin" and T-shirts showing a woman who was murdered by a gay man. 

CBC News reports on the not guilty verdict:  

Today, Bill Whatcott reacted to the not guilty ruling by saying he'll return to the campus some time next year.

"They need to be a free and open place that allows debate and so I hope they reconsider their position and that they welcome debate or at least tolerate it," Whatcott said. "People with views that differ from theirs have a right to try to make their case on a publicly-funded campus."

Peter LaBarbera is in the United States and didn't attend court.

At their trial in October, court heard they were asked to leave the campus because their activities violated the U of R's policy on maintaining a respectful work environment.

The Leader-Post reports that Whatcott, who'd been arrested before for protesting on college campuses, uttered "thank you lord" upon hearing the verdict from Judge Marylynne Beaton of the Regina Provincial Court:

At the time, U of R provost Thomas Chase called the materials "graphic" and "disturbing."

But "the validity of (their) beliefs are not in issue," Beaton wrote in her decision.

"I find that the purpose of (their) attending the University of Regina was to communicate information and their actions were passive and non-aggressive," Beaton wrote. "The university's response was disproportionate to the peaceful distribution of flyers."

Whatcott said he plans to return to the University of Regina in January. No word on whether he'll bring LaBarbera. 

In any case, the not guilty verdict is probably a good thing, because it avoids turning this lovely pair into martyrs for free speech, which may have been what they wanted.  

LaBarbera, who spent the night in jail and was voluntarily deported the next day, said in a statement on AFTAH's website

“Hopefully, this ruling will open up door to a resurgence of true tolerance and freedom in Canada. The Left in Canada, as in the United States, does not want debate but rather control. They fear unfettered exposure to moral truth and compelling facts about homosexuality–hence their campaign to silence Christians and others who speak out against sexual immorality and gender rebellion.

“The very fact that I was detained and searched at length twice by Border police upon entering Canada–merely because I and AFTAH espouse historic, biblical, Judeo-Christian teachings on homosexuality–reflects escalating ‘thought tyranny’ and anti-intellectualism in Canada which, if allowed to take root, will only lead to more rigid repression against believers in this great land.”

LaBarbera also reacted to the news on Twitter: 


h/t: Joe.My.God. 

Read the judge's full decision here

Listen to The Leader-Post's video report on the not guilty verdict here, and watch video of the arrests, AFTER THE JUMP ... 

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