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A federal judge in Chicago ruled this week that a lawsuit brought by female Ford employees over sexual misconduct at two Chicago plants cannot proceed as a class-action suit.

The ruling was a setback for the plaintiffs, who said they had endured groping, vulgarities and sexual violence despite the company’s efforts to change a longstanding culture of harassment.

The lawsuit, filed in 2014 by more than 30 women, accuses the company of not doing enough to ensure a safe and equitable work environment. It sought to include all women who worked at Ford’s assembly or stamping plants in Chicago from 2012 to the present.

But Judge Robert M. Dow Jr., of the Northern District of Illinois, ruled that the women’s experiences were too disparate to be considered as a single class. The plaintiffs can still sue as individuals.

The culture of harassment at Ford was described in a 2017 investigation by The New York Times that included detailed accounts from workers in the two plants dating back to the 1990s. It concluded that the company’s efforts to stamp out sexual misconduct had fallen short.

The accounts of the working conditions at the Ford plants threw into stark relief how little attention blue-collar workers had received as the #MeToo movement gained steam that year, following revelations of harassment by celebrities and white-collar professional women. A former worker at one of the Ford plants proposed a new hashtag: #WhatAboutUs.

The company’s president and chief executive, Jim Hackett, apologized for any harassment that had occurred in an open letter days after the article was published. In a statement on Friday, Ford said that it had a “comprehensive approach” in place to prevent and address sexual harassment and discrimination.

“While we are pleased with the judge’s decision,” the statement said, “we will continue to reinforce the importance of respectful, harassment-free environments at all of our facilities, including our Chicago plants.”

The company said that it had increased its human resources staff by 30 percent and put a number of new policies in place, including additional training and rules that employees disclose personal relationships.

Image
CreditAlyssa Schukar for The New York Times

Lawyers for the women did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company first faced sustained criticism about sexual harassment at the two plants in the 1990s, when dozens of women sued or filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. In a settlement with that agency in 2000, Ford agreed to pay $22 million, including $9 million in damages to at least 100 women. As part of the deal, the company denied liability but pledged to make changes overseen by outside monitors.

Conditions seemed to improve for a time, but complaints about sexual harassment surged once again around 2011. By then, the company was recovering from the Great Recession, and new hires had flooded into factories.

By August 2017, the E.E.O.C. and Ford had reached another settlement, for $10 million, over sexual and racial harassment at the two Chicago plants. On Friday, a spokeswoman for the company said that 835 workers had received checks as part of the settlement. The full terms were confidential, but the deal required more improvements at the company, including greater accountability for managers. Monitors will oversee the plants for five years.

The Ford plants, which offered good pay and benefits at a time when the nation’s manufacturing base was eroding, had once been the exclusive preserve of men. Some of the harassment was fueled by resentment at the presence of women on the factory floor.

Many of the female employees who sued are African-American, and accused black, white and Latino men of misconduct. Some of the women said they also endured racial slurs, and some who complained faced retaliation.

Their union, the United Auto Workers, offered limited recourse. The 2014 lawsuit accuses union representatives of harassment and of trying to stop women from filing complaints.

Catrin Einhorn contributed reporting, and Susan C. Beachy contributed research.

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*me, on the phone*

Yeah hang on mom, yeah, look I’ll have to call you back, I need to write an article on whether or not there’s a penis bone. No it’s very urgent. Ok speak to you later.

*hangs up*

is there a penis bone

It’s a question that occasions the mind of many young boys at one point or another: do we have a penis bone?

And the answer is obviously, ‘no, of course we don’t have a penis bone… anymore.’

You see, this question is not as silly or obvious as it seems. It’s actually quite nuanced, and absolutely fascinating. I remember mocking a schoolfriend of mine who believed that it was called a ‘boner’ because there was a bone that sat somewhere near your spine that sort of slipped down into your penis to make it hard. I thought it was the funniest, dumbest thing I’d ever heard, and he acquired the nickname ‘Bones’ as a result, a nickname he still goes by today. 

But, to my astonishment, he was right. Or he would have been, about 1.9 million years ago, which is when humans lost their penis bone. Rest in peace.

The baculum, referred to here as the dick bone because it’s funnier, is found all across placental mammals. Rodents, hedgehogs, dogs, bears, sea lions, actual lions, pandas, otters and many more all have one. The Icelandic Phallological Museum has a hamster’s 2mm dick bone under a magnifying glass. At least, I hope it still does. I’ll tell you when I go there because now that I know it exists, OF COURSE I’M GOING THERE. The range and shape and general variation of the dick bone makes it, according to actual scientists who never say stuff like this, ‘the most diverse bone to ever exist.’

Your Mate, My Mate, Primate

But most tellingly, virtually all primates have a penis bone, including our nearest cousins, chimpanzees, and the other great apes. There are only three primates that don’t: spider monkeys, woolly monkeys, and humans.

This tells us two things: first, HIGH FIVE spider and woolly monkeys, and second, that it’s FAR more likely that we had one and lost it, than that every other primate grew one spontaneously and independently, and we didn’t.

I can’t find any evidence that we’ve actually found one in the fossil record, but there’s enough other evidence to put the issue beyond doubt. For example, it still occurs sometimes. Just as a rare few are born with vestigial tails, itself a multi-million-year evolutionary throwback, a very, very, very rare few are born with a vestigial penis bone. Similarly, the penis occasionally generates bone when recovering from trauma. So, at least historically, it’s supposed to do that.

So, where did all our dick bones go? Well, that’s where it gets even more interesting. And you didn’t think an article about dick bones would be interesting at all, did you? Did you? No.

Monogamy? MonogaYOU!

Let’s talk about sex for a moment. This is LELO after all. In the natural world, it’s very common for sex to last several minutes. This allows the male to remain in place for longer, to allow a better chance of conception after ejaculation while fending off competition that might kill the female or impregnate her themselves. Sex is highly competitive in the animal world, and having a bone in your penis to keep it in place with the urethra open so you can stay mounted on your mate for as long as it takes to ensure contraception is an advantage. It’s so competitive amongst big cats that they don’t just have a bone – it’s why your cat also has hooks, or spines, on its penis. 

Polygamy is by far the dominant reproductive strategy in nature. Males will seek to impregnate as many females as possible, because of a biological urge to pass on its genes. It’s so competitive that female chimps will have sex with many male partners all at once, in order to make the males believe there’s a chance her offspring will be theirs, and therefore reduce the risk off the baby being killed by one of them.

Humans have always done things a bit differently though. Around two million years ago, probably somewhere around the area of Lake Turkana in Kenya, we had begun to develop social structures much more complex than our nearest cousins, and it led to a change in our mating habits.

In short: monogamy replaced polygamy as the dominant reproductive strategy. 

Thanks to the long and dangerous human pregnancy periods, which is a by-product of upright walking, it made sense for a male human to remain in the presence of his mate to ensure the baby was born safely, and defend it until it could defend itself – thereby ensuring his genes were passed on. So, ya know, in your FACE guys who excuse cheating by saying monogamy isn’t natural. Not only is it natural, it’s what separates us from the apes.

Anyway, as a result of humans becoming mostly monogamous, there was less pressure to fend off competition during the act of sex itself, and therefore less need to support the penis with a bone while the male stayed in place. So, over a million years or so, we lost our boner.

And there we are. To answer the opening question, is there a penis bone? The answer is no there isn’t a penis bone… anymore.

*picks up phone*

Hello mom? Yeah I finished. It was WAY more interesting than I expected.

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WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON!? First, women were shoving up garlic knots in their vagina’s. Then, they were getting so hot during the summer that they decided to shove freaking popsicles up there to cool down. Now, this woman decided to take it up a notch and do the most disgusting thing I have ever heard. What is she doing? She is using her own vaginal juice on herself to seduce men and encouraging other women to do it. NO, NO, NO, NO.

Turns out Sexologist Shan Boodram found that the secret to captivating a man and keeping him in the palm of your hand is to smell like your hoohah 24/7. Yes, according to Boodram, the “Love Potion Number Vagine” should be applied to your pressure points, that way you will seduce anyone traditionally attracted to women with vulvas.

Her research stated that pheromones transfer excitement. Those Pheromones are chemical molecules that are released to trigger hormonal changes and elicit behavior responses for others. These signaling molecules are contained in bodily fluids such as genital secretions.

Basically, she then went on to conduct an experiment with four of her brave friends. Who I want to believe were probably paid to spray their “natural scent” on their body or were incredibly drunk and ultimately agreed with this woman. They each went to a crowded bar wearing no perfume or scented products. For the first half of the night, the women then would go up and strike up a casual conversation with people. Then, after successfully connecting with the men, the group headed to the bathroom to apply vaginal fluids to their necks, chess, and wrist.

Boodram stated,

“I instructed them to wash their hands, get in a stall and then move their finger around their vaginal opening. The goal was to get a new sample from the Bartholin’s glands, which are the size of a pea but play a large role in vaginal lubrication. Once they got a good amount of wetness, they could rub it on the neck, collarbone and wrists.”

They then went around the bar a second time and sparked new conversations. The sexologist wanted to see if the application of the fluids made people subconsciously move closer or not. Now, I have nothing against Boodram whatsoever, but this whole thing seems so ridiculous. There is a longer conclusion to this whole experiment that you can read here, but I’ll just give you the short answer.

Basically, she concluded that people were getting really close to them, but she didn’t know if it was because it was really loud in the bar or if it was because of the fluids. But, being the optimistic sexologist she is, she stated that if you ever needed that extra boost of confidence, you can use it to serve you like a love potion.

“Regardless of if vaginal pheromones truly make a person irresistible or not, the fact that you think it does will cause you to act in a bolder, more confident manner. There are no health risks for others and unless you suspect you may have bacterial vaginosis, it will not make you smell bad. I’ve used this technique countless times in the past ten years and have had mixed results: sometimes people are flocking to me, sometimes I don’t notice a difference. So while I’m not sure how effective this experiment is, I am certain that every single time I employ it, it makes me feel like an enchanted goddess with a delicious secret.”

Now, I don’t know what you guys get out of this, but I’m just gonna go ahead and say exactly what this sounds like. A big fat lie. Why? Because well, she doesn’t know if it actually works or not. She clearly stated that. Plus, saying that using vagina juice all over your body to boost your confidence is just plain dumb, gross, and unhygienic.

How bad is your sex life that you have to resort to using vaginal discharge to attract people? Now, I’m not a sex therapist, but I can assure you that this is too much, this is what Tinder is for! Ladies, please don’t do this. The world already has enough weird smells coming from left to right, and we definitely don’t need one more. I’m done.

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Protesters march in June 2018 in Santiago, demanding an end to sexual harassment and abuse, including in educational institutions.

AP Photo/Luis Hidalgo

SANTIAGO—On 20 August, Chile’s Senate approved a bill requiring state-supported institutions of higher education to create detailed protocols to respond to sexual harassment. Under the law, universities would have to adopt a concrete definition of harassment and establish consistent punishments for harassers, or risk losing state accreditation and funding. The bill will now move to the Chamber of Deputies, the second half of Chile’s legislature, where the bill’s creators hope it will become law as early as next year.

The bill was originally a brainchild of the Chilean Network of Women Researchers (RedI), an advocacy group that promotes gender equality in science and research in Chile.

A 2017 study conducted by Chile’s National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research found that at least 39% of students and 41% of academics reported encountering unsolicited attention of a sexual nature.

The country’s laws protect employees of universities and other research institutes against sexual harassment, but students, postdoctoral scholars, and some others are left to fall through the cracks, says RedI President Adriana Bastías, a biochemist at Chile’s Autonomous University in Providencia. They cannot take their cases to labor courts and few institutions have strong procedures for dealing with sexual harassment internally.

As of November 2017, only about 12% of Chile’s state-accredited universities had protocols to deal with sexual harassment toward students and postdocs, according to a study conducted by the Center for Research on Education Policies and Practices, based here.

Since then, many more universities have begun to take steps to address sexual harassment on campus, but their plans have been “inconsistent and have proven ineffective in deterring such behavior,” says Leonardo Castillo Cárdenas, the new bill’s primary author.

Inspired in part by the National Science Foundation’s decision to make financial awards contingent on antiharassment policies, Castillo Cárdenas, a lawyer and legal sciences researcher at Chile’s La Frontera University in Temuco, wanted to create a bill with teeth. “You can’t do much without money,” he says. “So if we attack that specifically, we’re going to attain the cultural changes that we need.”

The new proposal lays out specific steps needed for higher education institutions to keep their accreditation and state funding, including shielding victims’ identities, helping them avoid direct contact with harassers, and providing appropriate legal and psychological resources. The proposed law was written with universities and research institutions in mind but would extend to other forms of state-supported higher education, including professional institutes and training programs for Chile’s police force.

Proponents of the bill have been encouraged by other recent steps to crack down on sexual harassment in Chile, including a law criminalizing street harassment, which passed earlier this year. They are hopeful that the proposal will be well received in the Chamber of Deputies.

“I’m very confident that it’s going to succeed,” says Chilean Senator Ximena Órdenes, one of five sponsors who first introduced the bill in May 2018. “It’s necessary for the future of society we want to create.”

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Riot Games has settled a class-action lawsuit filed by workers who said they were routinely subjected to sexual harassment and discrimination in the course of their jobs at the Los Angeles video game studio.

The suit originated last November
when
two women who had worked at the company, which is owned by the Chinese technology giant Tencent, alleged violations
of the California Equal Pay act and gender-based discrimination, retaliation and harassment.

Both parties declined to provide details of the settlement, which remains to be approved by the court.

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“We are grateful for every Rioter who has come forward with their concerns and believe this resolution is fair for everyone involved,” Nicolo Laurent, CEO of Riot Games, said in a statement. “With this agreement, we are honoring our commitment to find the best and most expedient way for all Rioters, and Riot, to move forward and heal. Over the past year, we’ve made substantial progress toward evolving our culture and will continue to pursue this work as we strive to be the most inclusive company in gaming.”

“This is a very strong settlement agreement that provides meaningful and fair value to class members for their experiences at Riot Games,” said Ryan Saba of Rosen Saba, LLP, the attorney representing the plaintiffs.

The lawsuit followed
a series of exposés, beginning with an article from the games website Kotaku, in which current and former employees described a corporate culture soaked in sexism. The suit itself echoed those accounts, alleging that Riot Games has a “men-first,” “bro culture” in which harassment and inappropriate behavior go unchecked.

Some of the behavior alleged in the suit included “crotch-grabbing, phantom humping, and sending unsolicited and unwelcome pictures of male genitalia” and managers circulating a “hot girl list” ranking female employees by attractiveness.

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The suit also alleged that Riot Games retaliated against outspoken female employees with “denied promotions, refusals to provide increased compensation or equal pay, demotions, reassignment with significantly different responsibilities, losses of benefits, suspensions, terminations, and other adverse employment actions.”

Alongside the class-action suit, two different employees filed individual wrongful termination and sexual harassment suits against the company in late 2018.

In response to the scandal, Riot Games committed to a series of internal initiatives to add more women to its leadership, close wage gaps, and change its company culture.

But the company’s decision to try to force arbitration in the two individual cases prompted another wave of backlash in May. Employees organized a walkout in protest of forced arbitration, marking the first mass worker action of its kind in the video game industry.

The company refused to give in to the walkout demands, though it did pledge to allow new hires the option to waive the forced arbitration clause for sexual harassment and assault “once current litigation was resolved.” In July, the court allowed Riot to force arbitration in one of the cases; the request to oppose arbitration and take the suit to court is still being argued for the other.

“Settling this class action is a victory for women in games,” the walkout’s organizers said in a statement. “This decision was made because of the hard work on the part of not only plaintiffs and their lawyers, but all of the people at Riot brave enough to fight against injustice in the workplace. We are proud to work with everyone who has collectively contributed making this happen.”

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