Tag Archives: adult

Trump admin lets Florida opt out of controversial offshore drilling plans.

People who lived through last year’s hurricanes may experience grief, anxiety, and depression for months or years, experts say.

“They’re grieving about the loss of what was,” Judith Andrews, co-chair of the Texas Psychological Association, told AP. Her organization provides free counseling to Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Following a natural disaster, people experience an arc of emotional responses. This usually starts with a “heroic” phase, when people rise to the occasion to survive and help others, Andrews says. Then disillusionment sets in as people come to grips with a new reality post-disaster.

In Puerto Rico, calls to the health department’s emergency hotline for psychiatric crises have doubled following Hurricane Maria, and the number of suicides has also risen.“Hurricane Maria is probably the largest psychosocial disaster in the United States,” Joseph Prewitt-Diaz, the head of the American Red Cross’ mental health disaster response, told Grist.

Hurricanes can have long-term effects on mental health. Five years after Hurricane Sandy, the rate of adult psychiatric hospitalizations in the Queens neighborhoods hit worst by the storm are nearly double that of New York City as a whole. The city’s health department is working with local organizers to connect residents with preventative care so that they can get help before reaching a crisis point.

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Trump admin lets Florida opt out of controversial offshore drilling plans.

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New York City is taking BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell to court.

People who lived through last year’s hurricanes may experience grief, anxiety, and depression for months or years, experts say.

“They’re grieving about the loss of what was,” Judith Andrews, co-chair of the Texas Psychological Association, told AP. Her organization provides free counseling to Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey.

Following a natural disaster, people experience an arc of emotional responses. This usually starts with a “heroic” phase, when people rise to the occasion to survive and help others, Andrews says. Then disillusionment sets in as people come to grips with a new reality post-disaster.

In Puerto Rico, calls to the health department’s emergency hotline for psychiatric crises have doubled following Hurricane Maria, and the number of suicides has also risen.“Hurricane Maria is probably the largest psychosocial disaster in the United States,” Joseph Prewitt-Diaz, the head of the American Red Cross’ mental health disaster response, told Grist.

Hurricanes can have long-term effects on mental health. Five years after Hurricane Sandy, the rate of adult psychiatric hospitalizations in the Queens neighborhoods hit worst by the storm are nearly double that of New York City as a whole. The city’s health department is working with local organizers to connect residents with preventative care so that they can get help before reaching a crisis point.

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New York City is taking BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, and Royal Dutch Shell to court.

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In New Jersey, Black and Hispanic Teens Are Far More Likely to Be Tried as Adults

Mother Jones

Black and Hispanic minors in New Jersey are far more likely to be prosecuted as adults than those in other groups, according to a new analysis of court records by WNYC. The consequence? Far more black and Hispanic youths are given adult sentences or, in some cases, sent to adult prisons.

All states have some kind of measure that allows for teens to be tried or sentenced as adults. A prosecutor only needs to make a request and have it approved by the judge. If tried and found guilty in adult court, minors receive adult sentences, which are longer than juvenile sentences and give them permanent, public records, unlike juvenile records that are usually sealed.

Of course, not all the minors were found guilty and not all of them were sent to prison, but the numbers provide a powerful look into New Jersey’s racial disparities in sentencing. WNYC analyzed five years of New Jersey state court records and found that 87.6 percent of prosecutors’ requests were for black and Hispanic kids, some as young as 14. In some counties, judges were twice as likely to approve those requests for black and Hispanic kids than they were for white juveniles, and black youths were tried as adults more than any others.

WNYC

WNYC

The data fits into larger trends: Nationwide, kids of color are disproportionately represented among those transferred into the adult sentencing system, and African Americans represent 62 percent of minors prosecuted as adults, according to a 2008 study by the Campaign for Youth Justice. They’re also nine times more likely to receive an adult sentence than white kids.

Here are some other findings from the WNYC report:

At least 152 inmates are still in prison today for crimes they committed as kids in the past five years. 93 percent of them are black or Latino. The most common crime they committed was robbery. 20 percent of them have sentences of 10 or more years. 2 are female inmates.

For more on the story, head to WNYC and its series on kids in prison.

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In New Jersey, Black and Hispanic Teens Are Far More Likely to Be Tried as Adults

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How to Talk About Consent Like a Porn Star

Mother Jones

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For the past several years, porn star James Deen has been at the top of his industry. Known for his mainstream crossover appeal and popularity among women, Deen once told reporter Amanda Hess it was his “nonthreatening, everyday look” that gave him a leg up in the industry. (Indeed, one woman called him “the Ryan Gosling of porn” on Nightline in 2012.) Though he doesn’t identify himself this way, lady mags and news outlets alike labeled him a feminist.

Then, on November 28, porn actor and producer Stoya tweeted that Deen, her former boyfriend, had raped her. The revelation rocked the relatively small adult-film community, and sparked a Bill Cosby-like cascade of allegations—some of which involved on-set incidents. At least 13 women have shared stories so far, ranging from excessive roughness to rape; Deen has since denied the claims.

American pornography, an estimated $10 billion industry, has years of knowledge to contribute to the cultural and legislative debate over how to define sexual consent: According to sexologist Carol Queen, porn has been grappling with these questions for decades. This week, as porn’s practices have come under scrutiny following the allegations against Deen, we decided to ask adult actors, researchers, and advocates about how they handle consent. Here’s what they had to say.

How does the porn industry talk about consent? “There is a more developed everyday conversation about consent that goes on in the industry than you can find anywhere else,” says Constance Penley, who teaches a class on the history of porn at the University of California-Santa Barbara.

The conversation starts during contract negotiations, Penley says, when actors, often represented by agents, agree to the number and gender of partners, the kind of sexual acts, and how much they’ll be paid for a shoot. The formality of the arrangement tends to increase with the size of the production company, ranging from verbal agreements on minor shoots to the three-page “limits” packet that performers fill out for Kink.com, a major producer of BDSM pornography.

Still, consent in a contract is just paperwork. Sovereign Syre, who’s been in the business for six years, says that before every shoot she’s done, she also has talked to her co-stars about boundaries and preferences. The conversation continues throughout the scene. Even directors she’s known for years, Syre says, will ask before tucking in the label on her underwear or rearranging her hair. If, during filming, things get too intense, actors on BDSM shoots use agreed-upon safe words. To stop, “red.” To slow down, “mercy.”

“Being on a porn set, there should be far more room for you to convey those boundaries,” says Cyd Nova, a porn performer, producer, and the program director of the St. James Infirmary, a sex-worker-friendly clinic in San Francisco. Even if someone doesn’t say no or use the safe word, professional adult actors are better equipped to notice when their partners are bothered or unenthusiastic, Nova says. “You’re paid to understand and engage with people sexually.”

Doesn’t money change things? Of course. The mental, emotional, and physical calculus that most people use to determine their sexual boundaries shifts on set, where adult actors also have to consider their income. When they’re under financial pressure, they might feel as if they can’t afford to have a strict “no list.” “When you’ve got $1,000 on the line, there’s a psychology at play that says, ‘I’m willing to do it because I need the money,'” Syre says. Still, “that doesn’t mean that they deserve to be abused.”

It helps to be able to say no. Newcomers to the industry might not know they have that power, or they might be concerned about losing work, explains Conner Habib, vice president of the Adult Performers Advocacy Committee. (APAC is the closest thing porn actors have to a union. Deen resigned from its board after the allegations began to surface, though it’s still headed by his girlfriend). In part, it depends on the director: Most are receptive when performers ask to stop or change the scene, while Habib says others have asked him to reconsider his limits. A few are more insistent. “I’ve said no and had a director be like, ‘You’re not the director,’ and I’ll be like, ‘Yeah, I don’t care,'” Habib says.

Performers also may agree try new sex acts on camera, signing up for more extreme shoots to make extra money, only to realize later that they felt traumatized by whatever they agreed to do, Syre says. “There’s this larger dialogue going on about how can you consent to an act that is dynamic,” she says. “There have been jobs I’ve gone on where I went home and I said, ‘I don’t want to do that again, or I don’t like that person.’ I don’t think I’ve been traumatized by it. But I see that potential.”

Habib says his consent has been violated on camera—it’s just not anything he would label as rape. “I’ve definitely done scenes where I had a performer who just kept sticking his thumb up my ass,” Habib says. He stopped the scene and told the man to quit it. “And then he did it again.” Habib walked away for a few minutes. “When I came back, he said, ‘I just totally forgot.'” They finished the scene, but Habib created what he calls an “inward boundary”: If the man did it again, Habib would quit the shoot. “In my opinion, he’s someone who shouldn’t have worked in porn because he wasn’t able to listen.”

What are porn actors’ options for reporting rape? For now, there’s no protocol for reporting rape aside from going to authorities outside the industry. One obvious option is law enforcement—not an attractive choice for many people facing the stigma of sex work. Tori Lux says she decided not to tell the police that Deen raped her on set because of the common belief that women in porn can’t be assaulted. Likewise, Nicki Blue told the Daily Mail that she was afraid the police wouldn’t believe her story about Deen: “When you’re an adult actress, especially in BDSM, and you go to a cop and say, ‘Oh I’ve been raped by this guy after doing a scene,’ they are not going to take you seriously, like if you were a normal person.”

Alternatively, actors could file reports with the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which investigates reports of workplace sexual assault (the industry is based in the San Fernando Valley, with 60 to 70 percent of US adult films shot in Los Angeles county). But several performers told us that battles over mandatory condom regulations have alienated workers from the agency, and Cal/OSHA has not received any sexual-assault complaints from the adult entertainment industry in the last 10 years.

Still, actors who consider reporting sexual assault to their producers and directors may be afraid of backlash, Habib says. A woman identifying herself by her initials, T.M., told LAist that she was afraid talking about Deen would hurt her career; Kora Peters says her agent at the time of her alleged rape told her she should be “honored” that Deen wanted her. The fear of blacklisting isn’t far-fetched, according to Nova: “If you say that you’re assaulted at work, some producers may decide they don’t want to work with you because they see you as a liability.”

In the absence of mechanisms for reporting and accountability on set, performers try to warn each other about actors who push limits—the same kind of rumors some performers reported hearing about Deen. According to Syre, some circles of performers have successfully shut out men who became known for abusing their girlfriends. But for those who are new to the industry or lack connections, word of mouth is “not very foolproof,” Nova says.

How will the Deen allegations affect porn moving forward? It’s difficult to say for sure, though at APAC’s last meeting of performers, directors, and producers, attendees discussed designing a possible industry-wide reporting system. What is clear is that just because porn has its own “best practices” doesn’t mean that people follow them. Even with Kink.com’s limits checklist, Ashley Fires, Nicki Blue, and Lily LaBeau all allege that Deen assaulted them under its supervision. There are rules, and then there are rule breakers—just as in any industry, Penley says. “This does not represent porn,” said Joanna Angel, a prominent alt-porn director and actor who spoke about her past relationship with Deen to radio host Jason Ellis last week. “This represents a specific individual, and I do not want the public to blame porn for anything.”

Yet several industry-specific factors, from the lack of reporting options or the stigma that keeps women from talking to the authorities—or convinces them that speaking out would invite attacks on their community—work to keep many sexual-assault victims in porn silent. “In the absence of people’s legitimate issues being taken seriously and addressed,” Queen says, “people tweet and write blogs and go to the court of public opinion.”

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How to Talk About Consent Like a Porn Star

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Giuliani’s Anti-Obama Rant Is a Big Opportunity for Jeb Bush

Mother Jones

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Here is Rudy Giuliani telling us how he really feels about President Obama during a private group dinner last night featuring Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker:

I do not believe that the president loves America. He doesn’t love you. And he doesn’t love me. He wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up through love of this country.

Classy, as always. But I bring it up to make a particular point. It’s unlikely, I think, that Walker will repudiate Giuliani’s comments. But Jeb Bush could—and if he’s smart, he will.

Here’s why. It would cost him some support among the tea party set, but he’s not going to get a lot of support there anyway. What’s more, he doesn’t really need it. All Jeb has to do to win is follow the Romney strategy: sweep up all the votes of the Republican moderates while everyone else fights over scraps of the tea party vote. Taking a public stand against Giuliani would cement his position as the adult in the Republican field, a position that Mitt Romney rode to the GOP nomination in 2012.

But the Romney strategy only works if Jeb is the sole adult running. Walker is trying to straddle the line between mainstream and tea party, and if he can pull it off he’ll win. Jeb’s team has to make sure he can’t do that, and the best way to accomplish this is to take a few high-profile stands—like denouncing Giuliani’s views—that Walker isn’t willing to emulate. If Jeb can force Walker to make some moves early on that paint him as a pure tea party creature, that could permanently hurt him. And with Romney out and Chris Christie looking weak, Jeb could then have the centrist Republican vote all to himself. That could put him in the White House.

But he has to go big and go fast. Denounce Giuliani in terms strong enough to get some attention, and in a way that’s likely to push Walker into making a mistake. The race is on.

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Giuliani’s Anti-Obama Rant Is a Big Opportunity for Jeb Bush

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I’ve Never Gotten an Annual Physical. How About You?

Mother Jones

Ezekiel Emanuel passes along the results of research about the value of getting an annual physical exam:

The unequivocal conclusion: the appointments are unlikely to be beneficial. Regardless of which screenings and tests were administered, studies of annual health exams dating from 1963 to 1999 show that the annual physicals did not reduce mortality overall or for specific causes of death from cancer or heart disease. And the checkups consume billions, although no one is sure exactly how many billions because of the challenge of measuring the additional screenings and follow-up tests.

How can this be? There have been stories and studies in the past few years questioning the value of the physical, but neither patients nor doctors seem to want to hear the message. Part of the reason is psychological; the exam provides an opportunity to talk and reaffirm the physician-patient relationship even if there is no specific complaint. There is also habit. It’s hard to change something that’s been recommended by physicians and medical organizations for more than 100 years. And then there is skepticism about the research. Almost everyone thinks they know someone whose annual exam detected a minor symptom that led to the early diagnosis and treatment of cancer, or some similar lifesaving story.

This is a funny thing. I’ve never had an annual physical. This isn’t for any specific reason. It just never occurred to me, and none of my doctors has ever recommended it. I’ve probably had half a dozen different primary care physicians over my adult life, and not one of them has ever suggested I should be getting an annual physical.

I’m not sure what this means. Is the annual physical something that doctors only do if their patients ask? Or have I just had an unusual bunch of doctors over the years? What’s your experience with this?

And as long as I’m noodling about stuff like this, here’s a thought that passed through my brain the other day. I was thinking about the fact that one of the indicators of the multiple myeloma that I was diagnosed with comes from blood tests. So why not test routinely for the markers of multiple myeloma? The answer is obvious: you’d be performing millions of blood tests every year with a vanishingly small chance of finding anything. What’s more, there are lots of different cancers. Are you going to draw a few pints of blood every year and test for all of them at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars? That makes no sense in otherwise healthy people.

But this got me thinking about that new blood testing technique I wrote about a few months ago. In a nutshell, it requires only a tiny amount of blood, and the tests themselves are super cheap. If this works as advertised—and presumably gets even cheaper with time—does it open up new possibilities for an annual physical that actually makes sense? Would it be possible to draw no more than a standard vial of blood once a year, and then perform a huge variety of tests at a cost of a few hundred dollars? The odds of finding anything would still be small, but it might nonetheless be worth it if the cost both in time and money was also small.

Of course, there are still problems with false positives and so forth, even if the cost of this regimen was small. So maybe it would be a lousy idea regardless of its feasibility. I really have no idea. But it’s an intriguing possibility.

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I’ve Never Gotten an Annual Physical. How About You?

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Jonathan Gruber Says Nothing New, Gets Hammered For It

Mother Jones

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Jonathan Gruber is one of the intellectual godfathers of Obamacare. Here’s what he said last year about it:

“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes,” he said during a panel discussion at the University of Pennsylvania in October, 2013. “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the ‘stupidity of the American voter’ or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.”

….”In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which explicitly said that healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed,” he said. “You can’t do it politically, you just literally cannot do it. It’s not only transparent financing but also transparent spending.”

I gather this has created a mini-firestorm, and obviously I understand why. If you imply that a bill was structured to take advantage of the “stupidity” of the American voter, that’s just bound to come back to haunt you. So the radio yammerheads are having a field day, and I guess I don’t blame them.

But if we can take just a half step up from radio yammerhead land, did Gruber say anything that isn’t common knowledge? I’m not playing faux naive here. I’m serious. Basically, Gruber said two things.

First, he noted that it was important to make sure the mandate wasn’t scored as a tax by the CBO. Indeed it was, and this was a topic of frequent discussion while the bill was being debated. We can all argue about whether this was an example of the CBO scoring process being gamed, but it has nothing to do with the American voter. Rather, it has everything to do with the American congressman, who’s afraid to vote for anything unless it comes packaged with a nice, neat bow bearing an arbitrary, predetermined price tag.

As for risk-rated subsidies, I don’t even know what Gruber is talking about here. Of course healthy people pay in and sick people get money. It’s health insurance. That’s how it works. Once again, this was a common topic of discussion while the bill was being debated—in fact, one that opponents of the bill talked about constantly. They complained endlessly that healthy young people would pay relatively higher rates than they deserved, while older, sicker people would get a relative break on their premiums. This was no big secret, but the bill passed anyway.

It’s true that the average Joe didn’t know anything about this, but not because the average Joe is stupid. It’s because most people simply don’t pay attention to this stuff even slightly. The fraction of the electorate that cares about the minutiae of policymaking could be stored in a pickle jar. That’s just life.

So basically, Gruber foolishly made a comment about the stupidity of the American voter—a comment that wasn’t even right, I think. But that’s it. Everything else he said was common knowledge during 2009 and 2010 among the pickle jar set. If you cared about policy, you knew this stuff. If you didn’t, you didn’t. But that’s true of everything, isn’t it?

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Jonathan Gruber Says Nothing New, Gets Hammered For It

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Republican Agenda Starts to Take Shape

Mother Jones

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Reading between the lines, I gather that Republicans are starting to coalesce around a legislative agenda to celebrate their recent midterm victory:

Ban abortions after 20 weeks.
Wipe out all of Obama’s new and pending EPA regulations.
Repeal Obamacare bit by bit.
Figure out a way to obstruct Loretta Lynch’s nomination as Attorney General.

Oh, there’s still some desultory happy talk about tax reform and fast-track trade authority and other “areas of agreement,” but that seems to be fading out. Poking a stick in President Obama’s eye is very quickly becoming the order of the day.

And no reason not to, I suppose. Republicans won, after all. But they shouldn’t be surprised if Obama continues to plan to poke back.

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Republican Agenda Starts to Take Shape

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Chart of the Day #2: Wage Growth Is Still Lousy

Mother Jones

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In my post earlier this morning about jobs growth, I mentioned that wage growth continues to be stuck at about zero after accounting for inflation. This probably deserves a chart of its own to make it clear what things look like, so here it is: wage growth after inflation since the recovery began in 2010. As you can see, real wages have been bouncing along slightly above and slightly below zero for four years now. If you use alternate measures of inflation, the trend is even worse.

This is the basic lay of the land. Yes, the economy is improving and jobs are becoming more plentiful. But most of us have seen our pay stagnate for four years and counting. That’s one of the reasons the public mood remains so sour.

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Chart of the Day #2: Wage Growth Is Still Lousy

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Profiles in Mainstream Media Courage

Mother Jones

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Laura Poitras, the journalist who first worked with NSA leaker Edward Snowden and later wrote groundbreaking stories with Glenn Greenwald about the stunning growth and reach of the US surveillance state, describes her initial interaction with the mainstream media:

Other journalists were afraid to work with Snowden.

There’s a strong culture of fear among journalists right now, because the government is cracking down on both journalists and sources….We involved Washington Post journalist Bart Gellman when Snowden wanted to release one document early, and Gellman used the Snowden archive to break the PRISM story about mass electronic surveillance. He was going to come with me to Hong Kong to meet Snowden, and the Post became very nervous and pulled out. They told me not to go. I felt like I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t go, so I went.

As they say, read the whole thing.

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Profiles in Mainstream Media Courage

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