March 30, 2015

Dennis Hopper Dead at 74 in 2010 but his work still much Alive in 2015 and so is He

Did you notice on this morning article Dennis Hopper Dead at 74?   Anything wrong????????????.?That was the article 5 years ago, when he died. It was a year and a half after this blogging had been chirping a lots of stories a day. 
Instead this article today (below) is the article that was supposed to be published. I apologized for that, first time it happens may be someone or something is telling me something. I realized it early in the morning when a reader who happens to be a blogger himself Nelson Garcia wrote not to me directly but put a little comment on the story on G+ that he died in 2010, which I know but Dennis is the only actor with maybe a couple in his team that I don’t mind watching reruns( I don’t like reruns of anything at all-on the movies!), so to me He never really died. I loved him even when he played the bad guy because I could see something on his look that gave himself away. I saw wisdom mixed with mistakes that had given him that wisdom. I saw something that somehow connected with me but my intention is not to talk about me but him.
I hope you enjoy the story below if you enjoyed him and if you are too young, you need to know about him or you will never be an adult.
Please let me know if you realized there was something wrong with the tittle and story before you read this story. I was going to wait longer but don’t want to be seen as the onion of bloggers, too many of those already.

  Double Standard, 1961. Photograph: Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust

Lost books by great writers occasionally turn up but, in a literary context, "lost" usually means "not worth publishing in his or her lifetime". The history of photography, on the other hand, is constantly updated and rewritten as entire bodies of work – by EJ Bellocq, William Gedney and others – are discovered. Vivian Maier is the most recent and celebrated case: until her photographs came to light few people seemed to have any idea that she had even existed.
The same, of course, cannot be said of Dennis Hopper, though for chunks of his life people in close proximity to him – wives, friends and collaborators – experienced his existence as a frequently deranged threat to theirs. His mania found a perfect outlet, years later, when he invested the role of Frank with intensely psychotic charm in David Lynch's Blue Velvet. Former wife Brooke Hayward (the first of five, the second of whom stuck around for a total of two weeks) speaks tenderly and respectfully of him in the book accompanying the exhibition of her husband's "lost album" at the Royal Academy. She also remembers him as "a sweetheart" in Peter Biskind's book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, but that was before she had her nose broken and became scared that he was going to kill her. Peter Fonda, producer and co-star of Hopper's directorial debut Easy Rider, was scared of him too. Not so Rip Torn who, when Hopper pulled a knife on him, twisted it out of his hand and turned it on his assailant. These violent episodes occurred before Easy Rider became a paradigm-busting hit.

Irving Blum and Peggy Moffitt, 1964 by Dennis Hopper
 Irving Blum and Peggy Moffitt, 1964. Photograph: Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust

Film critic David Thomson considers this success one of the biggest disasters in the history of cinema (on the grounds that "'youth' was given the kingdom – not just as filmmakers, but as the controlling element in the audience"). For Hopper the consequences may have been even more catastrophic. The accruing combination of enormous wealth, acclaim as a revolutionary genius, freedom from studio constraints and massive use of cocaine meant that he pretty much went gaga. Hopper claimed that Easy Rider put coke on the map of mainstream US, but for him it was just another ingredient in the mix of booze, speed, pot and acid that fuelled his progress from bohemian to beatnik to hippy to casualty of the counterculture of which he was an icon. He came back from an LSD love-in in San Francisco in 1966, Hayward recalls, with blood-red eyes, a ponytail and "one of those horrible mandalas around his neck". But well before that, before things fell apart, Hopper – exactly as prescribed by Yeats's poem "The Second Coming" and Joan Didion's famous essay "Slouching Towards Bethlehem" – was full of passionate intensity. Nicely photographed by Hopper as a man high on the cosmic importance of his mission, Timothy Leary provided the happy mantra of the 60s – “Tune in, turn on, drop out" – but the decade's epitaph was spokThe aftermath of Hopper's first film as director saw the global superstar on a self-exiled binge in Taos, New Mexico. Wrangling footage of his second, The Last Movie, into something approaching coherence while remaining true to shifting principles of incoherence proved predictably tough – not least for anyone expected to sit through the result. Hopper's banishment was by then complete, but it was not unprecedented. By the time Hayward gave him a camera for his birthday in 1961 he had already been booted off the set of From Hell to Texasand was effectively blackballed in Hollywood. 
There were worse places to be out of contract. The LA art scene had just started to take shape and Hopper was in its midst as a collector (he bought one of the first Warhol soup-can paintings), participant, friend and witness. The history of photography is full of people who took to the medium because they couldn't draw (Fox Talbot for starters) so it made sense for the unemployable actor – who was also a painter and sculptor of enthusiastic but limited ability – to turn to the camera. As in a low-budget indie production, the nascent scene had a cast of dozens, some natives of this coastal paradise, others, like Hopper himself (Kansas) and Ed Ruscha (born in Nebraksa, raised Oklahoma City) from the mid-west. In opposition to the psychological depths plumbed by the New York-based abstract expressionists, LA art relished and reflected the mass visual culture of southern California. "Pop" may have been a conceptual import but its raw materials could be locally sourced. The streets were full of stuff that would end up in the paintings and photographs: cars, gas stations, billboards for the movie stars Hopper counted among his friends. They brought a glamour to the art which, in turn, celebrated the profundity of the superficial. The marriage of showbiz and art has been enduring; as merger it has proved stunningly lucrative.

Paul Newman, 1964 by Dennis Hopper
 Paul Newman, 1964. Photograph: Dennis Hopper, courtesy The Hopper Art Trust

A year after the first ever show of soup cans, at the Ferus Gallery on La Cienega Boulevard in 1962, Warhol returned to LA for another exhibition. Hopper, who had hung out at the Factory in New York, threw a party for the putty-faced maestro. "This party was the most exciting thing that had ever happened to me," Warhol recalled. "Vacant vacuous Hollywood was everything I ever wanted to mould my life into."
With the camera constantly around his neck, always snapping, Hopper's friends jokingly called him "the tourist" but he was, quite literally, at home among these artists, their creations (the walls were soon as crammed with art as a Paris salon) and the swirl of imminent happenings. As with Frank in Blue Velvet Hopper channelled this early version of himself as the camera-toting photographer at Kurtz's compound in Apocalypse Now, interrupting a crazed monologue to Martin Sheen with the image-addict's compulsion to score: "I wanna get a picture."
So although Hopper was in one sense an internal exile, the ability to stake a claim as some kind of outsider was fast becoming a requirement of admission and a sign of belonging, both in a local art scene freeing itself from the gravitational pull of New York and a movie business ossified by its own commercial might. More generally, since Rebel Without a Cause – playing alongside James Dean was the formative experience of Hopper's life – rebellion of one kind or another was emerging as a legitimate aesthetic option; Easy Rider would make it a fully institutionalised obligation. The urge was manifested most threateningly by biker gangs such as the Hell's Angels. Politically it was ennobled by the civil rights movement that reached a brutal climax in Selma, Alabama in 1965. Hopper was there for the third march, having been asked along by his friend Marlon Brando.
Hopper photographed all of this: artists, Angels, actors, marchers, and the streets (of Mexico as well as LA). Photographs of mini-riots in LA foreshadow escalating protests against the war in Vietnam, the sense of something not so much slouching as hurtling towards Bethlehem. So it bears stressing that these images have not ended up on the walls of the Royal Academy simply because Hopper was a famous actor who took a few pictures. He acquired a reputation as a photographer early on and was widely published before hanging up the camera in 1967. The retirement was sufficiently precocious that an exhibition in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1970 that might have served as a mid-career survey took on the character of a full-blown retrospective. "Without doubt", editors of The Lost Album insist, the work currently on show in London is the same as that in the Texas exhibition. The prints were selected by Hopper, attracted a lot of favourable attention – and were then lost: part of the flotsam and jetsam generated by someone swamped by the wake of his own legend. These vintage prints did not come to light again until after Hopper's death in 2010.
So what is his standing as a photographer now? How extensively does the history of 1960s photography need to be rewritten or reshaped in the light of this exhibition?
The answer requires some context. Robert Frank's book The Americans (1955-6) offered a radical reconception of what a photograph could be. A beneficiary of this legacy, Hopper didn't take photography into the realm where content almost overwhelms form, as did Garry Winogrand; he did not have the visual complexity of Lee Friedlander; nor did he have the obsessive eye of Diane Arbus. While he didn't invent or significantly extend a way of seeing he was fully articulate in the visual language of the time. As Fonda put it, he had an understanding "not just of the frame of the camera but the frame of the life".
And he had the simplest and most important gift of any photographer: he was there, not just in the same room, but on intimate terms with Warhol, beach-blond David Hockney and the strikingly handsome Edward Ruscha. We associate this kind of intimacy with Nan Goldin but whereas Goldin's photographs are like mirrors, recording their own historical importance, Hopper's are a source of biographical data about people who have helped make the world look the way it does. In them we can see not just history as it was happening but documentary evidence of myths in the process of formation. The value of such work only ever increases over time. In that regard Hopper's photographs seem more important now – when the dudes in them are either dead or grey-haired billionaires – than when they were taken. This is made more pronounced by the way the prints were lost from sight for so long, preserved like time capsules from another era.

Dennis Hopper Photography Selma, Alabama (Full Employment), 1965
 Selma, Alabama (Full Employment), 1965. Photograph: Dennis Hopper/The Hopper Art Trust

The Selma pictures do not have the front-page power we expect of a world-historic event; they seem instead like fairly discreet souvenirs of a day in the lives of the people who were there. For a raging megalomaniac, Hopper had a surprisingly modest visual style.
The photographs of bikers may not have the immersive narrative power of Danny Lyon's contemporaneous The Bikeriders, but they are shot through with the "lost angel of a ruined paradise" thing that Shelley found in Keats. Coming from Kansas, having starred in numerous westerns, Hopper sees the Angels both as oily descendants of the cowboy-outlaws – and as a bunch of rednecks. One picture in particular, of an Angel and (as the argot of the tribe had it) his "old lady", performs a service which seems almost prophetically useful. Looking at a photograph by William Klein of some kids in New York Roland Barthes famously noticed – was "pricked by" – "one boy's bad teeth". This guy's mouth is half full of bad teeth. It's like he and Hopper, between them, pre-emptively knocked Barthes's idea of the punctum, the accidental detail, down his throat before he even got a chance to say what it was.
Among an impressive haul of pictures there are a number of masterpieces. A famous shot of bare-chested Paul Newman (1964) rendered calmly feminine courtesy of the fishnet shadow cast by a chain-link fence is one of the most gorgeous pictures ever of a man – and a naked demonstration of the actor's subtle knack for manifested interiority. And then there's the so-called Double Standards photograph used as a poster for a 1964 exhibition of Ruscha's gas station paintings: a self-captioning view of two Standard Gas station signs through a car windshield, with another car reflected in the rear-view and a glimpse of sky through the sunroof. So much photographic traffic converges here – Walker Evans, Frank, Friedlander, Stephen Shore – that if you had to distil 20th-century American photography into a single image you could do a lot worse than choose this one.
 Dennis Hopper: The Lost Album was at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, until 19 October of last year. Geoff Dyer's new book, Another Great Day at Sea, is published by Visual Editions

Dennis Hopper Dead at 74 in 2010 “The Last of the Hell Raiser is Dead”


Dennis Hopper, the hard-living Hollywood star with acclaimed roles in films including Apocalypse Now and Easy Rider, died yesterday of prostate cancer. He passed away at his home in Venice, California, at the age of 74.
He was surrounded by his family and friends and died peacefully at around 9am local time. Hopper had been taken ill last September with serious flu-like symptoms. Doctors quickly discovered he had cancer which then spread to other parts of his body.
Hopper's career was one of the most long-lived in an industry which is notorious for chewing up its stars. It began in the era of the 1950s with a role opposite James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, flowered in art films of the 1960s and 1970s, and then transitioned into the modern era of the blockbuster, as he specialised in psychotic villains. "Great actor. Great director. Great American. Terrible loss. God bless the wild man with the gentle soul. May he rest in peace," wrote John Nolte, editor-in-chief of the Big Hollywood blog. "We all knew this was coming, but that does not lessen the blow."
Certainly not every role Hopper took was a great one. Especially towards the end of his career, he appeared in many movies that did little to impress critics or audiences. In his filmography cinematic duds such as Hell Ride and The Crow: Wicked Prayer sit alongside true classics including Blue VelvetGiant, and Cool Hand Luke and Speed. But Hopper's wild-eyed, scenery-chewing performances often lifted the quality of any B-movie, reminding viewers that he was one of the most watchable of Hollywood stars. "There are moments that I've had some real brilliance, you know," he reflected recently.  "But I think they are moments. And sometimes, in a career, moments are enough."
His private life was as variable as his professional one. He married five times and fathered four children. One of his marriages, to his second wife, Michelle Phillips, a singer in the group The Mamas and the Papas, lasted just eight days in 1970. Of the experience Hopper famously quipped: "Seven of those days were pretty good. The eighth day was the bad one." His final marriage, to actress Victoria Duffy took place in 1996. The pair were undergoing a bitter divorce when he died. So bitter, in fact, that a dreadfully ill Hopper sought a restraining order against his spouse even though he was dying and virtually bedridden.
Hopper's private life was often blighted by tales of hard-drinking and drug-taking. He confessed that he used cocaine in order to sober himself up so he could binge on more alcohol. His problems and lifestyle became the stuff of Hollywood legend – or nightmare. He once spent time on a New Mexico commune drinking spirits, taking drugs and firing machine guns. He was committed to a psychiatric ward in 1984 after experiencing violent hallucinations.
Nothing in Hopper's personal life could overshadow a handful of truly great screen performances. In 1969's Easy Rider, which he directed, co-wrote and co-starred in, Hopper explored the hippy counter-culture and the reaction to the Vietnam war. He dubbed the film his "state of the union" message and it was a roaring critical success, paving the way for the New Hollywood of the 1970s and directors such as Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola. Then in Apocalypse Now Hopper seemed to blend reality and fiction with his portrayal of a burned-out and insane war photographer. Finally, Hopper's portrayal of a sadistic brute, Frank Booth, in David Lynch's surreal Blue Velvet introduced the actor to an entirely new generation of fans.
He was born in Dodge City, Kansas, in 1936. After the second world war, the Hoppers moved to the relatively urbane metropolis of Kansas City, Missouri, where Hopper went to Saturday art classes. But after they moved again, to San Diego in California, Hopper was better able to express his interest in the arts.
He hung out with actors and actresses and eventually won a role playing opposite James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause. The young heart-throb, whose life was to be tragically cut short, left a major impression on Hopper. Dean's commitment to the art of acting profoundly influenced Hopper and left him reluctant to bend to the whims of directors – something that often caused friction throughout his career and, more than once, saw him written off as impossible to work with. Aside from the drug problems, he often refused to take a director's advice and instructions and wanted to go his own way. In one film, a western directed by Henry Hathaway, Hopper botched 87 takes of a simple line after disagreeing over how to play a scene. "Much of Hollywood found Hopper a pain in the neck," wrote critic-historian David Thomson.
In the end Hopper's career spanned more than five decades and 100 films – a huge triumph by anyone's standards. Last March Hopper, who received two Oscar nominations, got his own star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame. During the ceremony, a frail-looking Hopper, with a bandage on his forehead, told an audience of fans and Hollywood industry figures: “Everything I learned in my life, I learned from you."

North Korea is Confidential


The city of Chongjin, once stricken by famine, is today developing a rather different reputation. 
The city is still under the firm grip of the state, but among many North Koreans, Chongjin is now a fashion capital of sorts
The average person is still poor, but in this emerging capitalist era, this port city is growing in importance as a trading hub. Chongjin has become the first place where foreign fashions arrive. 

Kim Jong Un and his wife Ri Sol Ju, sporting a startling green dress
Even Pyongyang cannot match Chongjin in terms of style. This may seem surprising, since Pyongyang is the seat of both new money and old power. 
But security is much stricter in the capital, with conformity more rigorously enforced. 
This means that clothes that can be worn in the street elsewhere are only suitable for a young Pyongyang woman to wear at home. 
Pyongyang is supposed to be the city of regime loyalists; Kim Jong Il is understood to have once said that his government could survive as long as he retained a firm grip on Pyongyang. He was much less interested in the provinces — and this is reflected both in the distribution of favours and the enforcement of laws. 
Thus, Pyongyang is the only part of the country where the state is in full control of public order. The government will still crack down hard on serious dissent wherever it arises, but generally, it lacks the resources and respect to compel people in the provinces to adhere to the full range of its rules and regulations. 
Chongjin administrators in particular are understood to have a looser approach to public order. Chongjin is probably the closest North Korea has to a “Wild West.” 
Chongjin traders frequently receive 100kg packages of clothes by boat from Japan. 
The authorities frown on this — but not to the extent that local Chongjin officials cannot be paid to look the other way. 
The contents of such packages will be unknown until opened, and as a precaution, all the labels that identify each item’s country of origin are removed. And though the random jackets, jeans, skirts, and other items they contain are cast-offs that Japanese consumers no longer want, they are of a much higher quality and more fashionable than anything made in North Korea (or China, for that matter). 
For the young women of Chongjin, then, even Kim Jong Un's wife Ri Sol Ju’s style is not particularly impressive. One young female defector from the city states that Ms Ri’s red-and-black check outfit was “nothing special,” although she did praise a green dress the first lady famously wore when out in public with Kim Jong Un. She also claims that Ms. Ri’s hairstyle is “jom chonseuropda” (roughly translated, “a bit dowdy”), and the she never wears anything that other North Korean women could not get away with. Some Pyongyang sources, though, call Ms Ri a rule-breaker — thus highlighting the differences between the two cities. 
What are Chongjin people wearing today? For those who are interested in such trends, Chongjin is known as the place in North Korea where skinny jeans first became popular. One defector, who left in 2010, states that both jeans and any type of clothing that shows off the body were forbidden — but that she and many others were wearing flared skinny jeans that “make your legs look slim and good so you can show off.” For young women, showing off in this way seems to be a new and liberating experience. 
There is a common belief in East Asia that big eyes, with fold lines along the lids, are attractive. Some people are naturally born with them, but most are not. This is easily “corrected” with a simple surgical procedure called blepharoplasty, which requires very little in the way of medical skill, and can be com- pleted in under ten minutes. In North Korea, the wealthy can have it done properly, by paying a real surgeon. For most, though, the operation is done in a very “back street” fashion. In such cases the procedure costs as little as US$2, and is performed in the patient’s home — without the aid of anaesthetic. Many of those who perform the operation are not even doctors. It is in fact possible for anyone to learn how to make an eyelid fold, and start offering the service. Those who do it well will benefit from word of mouth, and be able to make a good living. 
As with all forms of plastic surgery, the double-eyelid procedure is illegal in North Korea. It is, however, so common among young urban women of all social classes that the authorities cannot do very much about it. Proving someone has undergone the operation is also difficult, since there are some who were born with double eyelids. Those caught may also be able to get friends and relatives to state that their double eyelids are natural. And even when guilt is established, this is nothing that a bribe cannot fix. 
In international media, the DPRK citizen is shown as either a blind follower of state propaganda, or a helpless victim of it. But the fact that there are young North Koreans who are prepared to risk severe punishment — as well as the strong disapproval of elders — simply to look good, should disabuse the reader of such a simplified, caricaturish notion. 
Those who adhere to the stereotypical view should consider the case of the growing “rooms by the hour” cottage industry that exists in all North Korean cities. As with people the world over, North Koreans have desires, and no amount of prohibition or social disgrace is going to stop those desires from being expressed in the end. In a country where premarital sex is frowned upon, and even holding hands in public can result in harsh words from Youth League goons, there are young people who engage in the risky business of renting private apartments merely for the length of time it takes to have sex. 
Young South Korean couples have the option of “love motels,” which form a huge industry there. But North Koreans have no such choice — and this has resulted in a grassroots, free-market solution. In any given big city neighbourhood, there will be an ajumma — a middle-aged lady — known to let out her apartment by the hour. Her preferred time will be in the afternoon, when her children are at school, and her husband is at work. An amorous couple will knock on her door, and hand over some cash. The ajumma then leaves them alone, perhaps for an hour or two. She may take a walk in a local park, or spend the money she received on goods at the nearest jangmadang. The process is very simple, but it acts as a reasonable summary of the people’s adaptation to post-famine North Korea: it is illegal; it is informal; it corresponds to basic human needs; and, it is one hundred per cent capitalist. 

The omnipresent North Korean leader inspecting new apartment buildings
* North Korean property market
The army is heavily involved in construction, as a source of cheap labour for the building of apartment complexes, hotels, roads, bridges, and so on. Contrary to the popular image of the North Korean soldier as a goose-stepping, brainwashed loyalist and ruthless killing machine, the average military man is likely to spend more time building things than working to crush the “puppet” regime in Seoul. Even state media often refers to them as “soldier-builders.” Military units are now little more than free labour teams. 
Some apartment complexes are built with specific tenants in mind — military veterans, star athletes, or scientists, for example. Ministry of Foreign Affairs apartments in Pyongyang are considered rather ritzy, as foreign ministry staff have grown used to such apparent luxuries as round-the-clock electricity on postings abroad, and expect nothing less when they return home. In a country where blackouts are very common and winters brutally cold, 24-hour electricity is a real indicator of who can be considered properly “elite,” and who cannot. 
Just as in any capitalist country, apartments in North Korea can be traded. Probably a majority of units in an upmarket newbuild apartment block will be sold on the market, rather than given to the state employees they were officially intended for. The only real difference is the lack of a formal system for apartment transfer, since owning private property is forbidden. If you live in any North Korean city, however, it will be possible to “sell” your apartment: people living in the same district are legally allowed to swap homes, so this may even be done in a semi-legitimate fashion, facilitated by a cash payment, though often, house trading is done without any registration at all. In Pyongyang, where apartment prices have risen more than tenfold since the turn of the century, trading may even be facilitated by an (illegal) estate agent. 
Apartments in ordinary areas and without lifts or reliable electricity may change hands for as little as US$3–4,000. Lower floors command higher prices, though. It is generally accepted that the poorer you are, the higher up you live. This contrasts with South Korea, in which the best views are prized. But when there are no lifts — or a power outage can get you stuck in one — the top floor suddenly seems less appealing. 
A decent apartment in the central Pyongyang district of Mansudae (which is now jokingly referred to by expats as “Dubai” or “Pyonghattan”) will change hands for US$100,000 or more. There are even those who talk of US$250,000 apart- ments. That is a lot of money to spend on a place that you don’t officially own. But if you have that kind of sum at your disposal in North Korea, you will be able to ensure that it stays yours. 

One of the new shops that has sprung up in Pyongyang
* Moonshine and house parties 
North Koreans have always enjoyed homemade moonshine. For the majority — especially those in the countryside, and with little or no disposable income — this remains the only reliable option. Typically, homebrewing will be of the most rudimentary form — corn, fruit, or ginseng, left to ferment in a bottle or jar, and buried under a pile of clothes for warmth. The end product can be consumed by the maker’s family, or even sold or bartered with neighbours. 
Home-made alcoholic drinks there are typically referred to as nong- taegi (or sometimes nungju). Most housewives know how to make it, and those who do it well become famous within their village. Such ladies will then even be able to turn their moon- shining into a small business, if they wish. 
Though nongtaegi is illegal, any efforts to stop its production are utterly doomed to failure. Those whose job it is to eradicate it enjoy it as much as anyone else. And according to one defector, around 80–90 per cent of North Korean men drink every day. There is even a popular song, “Weol, hwa, su, mok, geum, to, il Banju,” which can be translated as “Drink on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.” North Korean men drink more even than their famously bibulous Southern brethren. Northern women drink much less than those in the South, but this is also starting to change. As working class women are now often the breadwinners, they have much more freedom — but also, more stress to relieve at the end of the day. 
Unlike in South Korea, house parties are very common in the North. Those who have attended one will say that the amount of drinking at house parties would put South Koreans to shame. One defector states that she never had as much fun in Seoul as she did at house parties back in her home town. She and her friends would dance to South Korean and Western pop music (see below), whilst knocking back nongtaegi. They would connect a combined USB/DVD/MP3 player to large speakers and play music files obtained via USB drives. 
By , and James Pearson

Egyptian Gay Man Granted Refugee Status by NZ

A gay Egyptian man who was bullied and ostracised in his home nation due to his “appearance” and “demeanour” has been declared a refugee by the New Zealand Immigration and Protection Tribunal.
The man appealed a decision by the Refugee Status Branch denying him refugee status, arguing that he was at risk of being persecuted if he was returned to Egypt, because he is gay. 
The Tribunal decision says his predicament turns on the fact he is gay.
“While the social and religious dictates of Egyptian society make it impossible for him to overtly acknowledge this, he has faced continual harassment and prejudice as a result of looking and behaving in a way that was perceived to be different from the norm,” it reads.
“This created difficulties for him throughout his school years, with both fellow pupils and teachers alike. A paternal uncle convinced his father to send him to a military school to toughen him up. He was perennially bullied and on at least one occasion subjected to a sexual assault from which he escaped before it became significantly more serious than it was. 
“His early efforts to complain about his treatment in general were met with an unsympathetic response. He did not complain further.”
As an adult he worked as a laboratory assistant at a hospital, but left after 18 months due after he was ostracised. He was able to travel thanks to a trust fund, and came to New Zealand in 2005.
“Despite feeling much more comfortable with life in New Zealand, he still maintained a degree of privacy about his personal life. He did not feel the need to hide or deny his sexuality as he had in Egypt but, if asked about it, simply tended to divert the question,” the decision reads.
In 2012 he married a New Zealand citizen in exchange for money, something the Tribunal says doesn’t contradict his claim he is gay, but “simply reflects an ill-advised (and dishonest) attempt to try to remain in New Zealand”.
He is now in a relationship with a man and says he would be ostracised by his family if he had to return to Egypt, and it would be impossible to live there independently and safely. 
“While he has survived in the past by hiding his sexuality as best he can, he is at an age where this would be increasingly difficult. This is particularly so because for the past 10 years, while he has lived in New Zealand, he has become accustomed to not having to suppress his fundamental identity,” the decision reads.
The Tribunal has upheld the appeal and granted the man refugee status, saying it has taken into account evidence the Refugee Status Branch didn’t have when it made its initial decision, including clear evidence he is gay.
It says while there are no specific laws criminalizing homosexuality in Egypt, the authorities tend to target the gay community under the guise of public morality laws, which they use to justify making arrests and pursuing prosecutions.
The Tribunal says the man has a well-founded fear of being persecuted in Egypt.

The Stability of Gay Couples is Proven Firm by Time


Sue Wilkinson married her partner, Celia Kitzinger, more than a decade ago. But it was only last week, when she received a letter, that it hit home how attitudes to same-sex marriage in the UK have been transformed.
“The letter was addressed to ‘Mrs and Mrs’. That was the first time it has ever happened to us,” said Mrs Wilkinson. “It really brought home what a sea change there has been.”
Today is the first anniversary of the legalisation of gay marriage in Britain. The coalition’s Same Sex (Marriage) Act came into force on 13 March last year, but couples had to wait at least 16 days after giving notice to their local register office before getting married. It was not until 29 March that same-sex couples could finally say “I do” in public.
Mrs Wilkinson, 61, and Mrs Kitzinger, 58, married in Vancouver, Canada, in August 2003, a few weeks after same-sex marriage became legal in British Columbia. After returning to the UK several years ago, the couple, who are both academics, spent years lobbying the Government to have their relationship recognised as marriage. The High Court rejected their application in 2006.
Sue Wilkinson, left, and Celia Kitzinger married in Vancouver, Canada, in August 2003 (Alison Taylor)Sue Wilkinson, left, and Celia Kitzinger married in Vancouver, Canada, in August 2003 (Alison Taylor)Their union finally became legal a year ago. “The biggest change has been a symbolic one,” said Professor Wilkinson, a specialist in feminist and health studies in the Department of Social Sciences at Loughborough University. But there have been practical changes too.
“We made a point of referring to each other as ‘my wife’, and people used to be completely baffled by it. Now we can see a flicker of recognition in people’s eyes, she said. “It’s the little things like that which make us very pleased that equality is coming. It was incredibly important that our marriage was finally recognised in our own country.”
At least 1,409 same-sex couples have married since March last year, according to official statistics. Almost 100 had a ceremony in the last three days of March, rising to almost 500 in June. The figures for the rest of 2014 will be published in September.
Peter McGraith and David Cabreza, from north London, had been partners for 17 years before they tied the knot at one minute past midnight on 29 March last year. Choosing to read some of the comments posted online after news of their wedding appeared in the media, Mr McGraith was struck by one in particular: “They’ll be having children next.”
The couple already have two boys aged nine and 13, having adopted them when they were aged two and six respectively. Mr McGraith had taken them to the House of Commons on 5 February 2013 to witness the historic vote on same-sex marriage. 

A full-time father, Mr McGraith finds it difficult to conceal his frustration at those who question the stability of gay families. “The hypocrisy centres on notions about the instability of gay relationships with regard to our suitability to bring up children,” he said, “when, actually, the way ‘traditional’ heterosexual marriage is conducted and policed means that their splits are far more acrimonious and more likely to affect children’s sense of stability.”
Mr McGraith believes the “traditional” model of heterosexual adoption will almost certainly change as biomedicine advances. “There may come a time when gay parents are the majority when it comes to adopters,” he said.
Mr McGraith, who is from Lanarkshire, was pleased when SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon announced her support for the creation of a special envoy within the Foreign Office “to promote the rights of LGBTI people throughout the world, as an integral part of UK foreign policy”.
He said: “You need to see people shaking hands around the world and making statements about what’s not acceptable. I feel a genuine connection to gay men in Jamaica or Iran, and we can do something to help people persecuted in more intolerant countries than ours.”

One right, two laws

The legalisation of gay marriage was a welcome development, but homosexuals who wed do not yet enjoy the same rights as married heterosexuals, the human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said.
Gay couples are not guaranteed the same financial benefits as heterosexual couples if their spouse dies.
Mr Tatchell said: “It’s great that we’ve got same-sex marriage but it’s not equal marriage. We now have segregation in marriage law, with two separate marriage statutes: the 1949 Act for opposite-sex couples and the 2013 Act for same-sex couples. Separate is not equal.”
Mr Tatchell said the legalisation of gay marriage had not caused British society to “collapse”, despite “scare-mongering” by opponents. He said: “Life has carried on as normal, with the bonus of thousands of same-sex couples now enjoying the happiness and security of married life.”
Paul Gallagher

March 29, 2015

New Study; Vitamin D squashing Depression


Low serum levels of vitamin D are associated with clinically significant symptoms of depression in otherwise healthy individuals, new research shows.
Making a series of assessments of healthy women during a 1-month period, investigators found that more than one third of participants had depressive symptoms, that almost half had vitamin D insufficiency, and that depressive symptoms were predicted by vitamin D levels.
"Vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency occur at high rates in healthy young women, and lower vitamin D3 levels are related to clinically significant depressive symptoms," say the researchers, led by David Kerr, PhD, School of Psychological Science, College of Liberal Arts, Oregon State University, Corvallis.
Noting that vitamin D supplementation is a low-cost, simple, and low-risk intervention, they add: "Given the lifespan health risks associated with insufficiency, supplementation is warranted whether or not the modest role of vitamin D in depression observed here generalizes more broadly."
The study was published online March 6 in Psychiatry Research.
Explaining the background, Dr Kerr said that it is popularly believed that vitamin D levels may contribute to depression.
"I think people understandably think that, because they've heard that maybe depression could change with the seasons," he told Medscape Medical News.
"They've also heard that vitamin D levels can change with the seasons, since we make vitamin D through our skin when it's exposed to sunlight."
Although previous research has not shown a conclusive link between vitamin D and depression, Dr Kerr noted that many of these studies focused on special medical populations, such as older individuals and those with obesity.
For the current study, the investigators examined 185 female undergraduates living in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, administering the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CES-D) scale at baseline and then every week for 4 weeks.
In addition, serum vitamin D3 and C levels were measured at baseline and at the end of the study period.
Between 34% and 41% of participants reported clinically significant depressive symptoms, defined as a CES-D score of ≥16, during the study period. Vitamin D3 insufficiency (<30 42="" 46="" and="" at="" beginning="" end="" in="" ml="" ng="" of="" p="" participants="" recorded="" respectively.="" study="" the="" was="">
After taking into account season, body mass index, race/ethnicity, diet, exercise, and time outside, the researchers found that lower vitamin D3 levels across the study period predicted clinically significant depressive symptoms (P < .05). The only other factor to predict depressive symptoms was use of antidepressants.
Unknown Factor at Play? 
Commenting on the findings for Medscape Medical News, E. Sherwood Brown, MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry and director of the Psychoneuroendocrine Research Program at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, said the study highlights the importance of assessing vitamin D levels in individuals at risk for depression.
He also noted that the findings "probably strengthen the argument about the direction of the relationship."
For a causal relationship to be established, it would need to be shown that vitamin D supplementation was able to have a therapeutic or preventive effect on depression.
So far, results of studies that looked at causality have been mixed, and Dr Kerr pointed out that, again, the available studies have focused on special populations.
Both Dr Kerr and Dr Brown agreed that at this stage, further research is required before it can be recommended that individuals at risk for depression or those already suffering from symptoms take vitamin D supplements.
"I think one challenge with using it as a treatment is that, if you start someone on vitamin D, it takes quite a while to see much of a change in their blood vitamin D levels. It's certainly not going to be a rapid treatment," Dr Brown added.
It is also possible that the association between vitamin D levels and depression may be underpinned by another, as yet unknown, factor.
"There's always a possibility with epidemiological-type studies, or almost any study, that it's really just a consequence of an unknown third factor," Dr Brown pointed out.
Dr Kerr and colleagues did, however, take into account potential confounding factors, an aspect that Dr Brown noted, adding: "I thought this study did a good job trying to control for other possibilities."
Giving an example, Dr Kerr said: "People might say, 'Well, maybe spending less time outside is the common link, because depressed people are maybe more withdrawn and so they don't spend so much time outside, [which] means that they have lower vitamin D levels.' "
"We tried to account for that, but there may be other factors that are common links that are really the better explanation. That's why we would need an experimental design like a clinical trial," he added.
In conclusion, Dr Kerr stressed that the findings do not suggest that vitamin D supplementation should replace other types of treatments, nor that individuals with depression do not need to take antidepressants.
"Vitamin D, if anything, makes a small, preventative contribution, and it's certainly not a substitution for some of the other very well-known, effective treatments for depression. That's important to me as a public health message," he said.
The research was supported by grants from the Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation's John C. Erkkila Endowment for Health and Human Performance and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. The authors and Dr Brown report no relevant financial relationships.
Psychiatry Res. Published online March 6, 2015. Abstract



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