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You Heard It Here: 2012 May Be Best Year Ever For Gay Rights

LE MONDE (France), WASHINGTON POST (US), BERLINGSKE (Denmark) MOSCOW TIMES (Russia)

Worldcrunch

PARIS - The lastest piece of good news for gay rights activists came from the Episcopal Church, which has become the largest U.S. denomination to bless same-sex unions. During the church's general convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, an overwhelming majority voted in favor Tuesday night of a blessing ceremony for same-sex couples.

The US Episcopal Church, which has over two million worshippers, also approved anti-discrimination language for transgender people that could lead some to become members of the faith's clergy.

Just past the midpoint mark of the year, 2012 is already shaping up to be the best year in memory for LGBT rights.

1. Barack Obama became the first President of the United States to publicly support same-sex marriage.

2. French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announces that French same-sex couples will get the right to marry and adoption in 2013.

3. A Canadian astronomer has named an asteroid after a US gay rights pioneer, Frank Kameny, who died last year. In 1957, Kameny was fired from his job as an astronomer for the US Army Map Service in Washington, D.C. because of his sexual orientation, and subsequently became an early militant activist for gay rights in the 1960s.

4. Denmark, the first country in the world to recognize same-sex civil partnerships back in 1989, passed a law to allow same-sex marriage in the country, including in the Church of Denmark, which came into effect on June 15.

5. In a landmark case, three men became the first people in Britain to be convicted for inciting hatred after distributing leaflets calling for gay people to be killed. Two of the men were jailed for 15 months and one for two years.

The gay rights movement still has a long way to go, however, in reaching worldwide equality:

Russia passed a controversial law in February to ban, what it deemed as "propaganda", material to promote LGBT rights awareness among minors. The Moscow Times reported that people from the LGBT community were attacked when protesting against the bill.

A similar proposed law to ban LGBT events, meetings and parades in the Ukraine was dropped at the last minute from parliamentary debate.

The 1980s action star, Chuck Norris was criticized last month for saying there is no place for gay people in the Boy Scouts. In an article in AmmoLand.com, he blamed Obama for pushing a "pro-gay" stance.

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Society

In Northern Kenya, Where Climate Change Is Measured In Starving Children

The worst drought in 40 years, which has deepened from the effects of climate change, is hitting the young the hardest around the Horn of Africa. A close-up look at the victims, and attempts to save lives and limit lasting effects on an already fragile region in Kenya.

Photo of five mothers holding their malnourished children

At feeding time, nurses and aides encourage mothers to socialize their children and stimulate them to eat.

Georgina Gustin

KAKUMA — The words "Stabilization Ward" are painted in uneven black letters above the entrance, but everyone in this massive refugee camp in Kakuma, Kenya, calls it ya maziwa: The place of milk.

Rescue workers and doctors, mothers and fathers, have carried hundreds of starving children through the doors of this one-room hospital wing, which is sometimes so crowded that babies and toddlers have to share beds. A pediatric unit is only a few steps away, but malnourished children don’t go there. They need special care, and even that doesn’t always save them.

In an office of the International Rescue Committee nearby, Vincent Opinya sits behind a desk with figures on dry-erase boards and a map of the camp on the walls around him. “We’ve lost 45 children this year due to malnutrition,” he says, juggling emergencies, phone calls, and texts. “We’re seeing a significant increase in malnutrition cases as a result of the drought — the worst we’ve faced in 40 years.”

From January to June, the ward experienced an 800 percent rise in admissions of children under 5 who needed treatment for malnourishment — a surge that aid groups blame mostly on a climate change-fueled drought that has turned the region into a parched barren.

Opinya, the nutrition manager for the IRC here, has had to rattle off these statistics many times, but the reality of the numbers is starting to crack his professional armor. “It’s a very sad situation,” he says, wearily. And he believes it will only get worse. A third year of drought is likely on the way.

More children may die. But millions will survive malnutrition and hunger only to live through a compromised future, researchers say. The longer-term health effects of this drought — weakened immune systems, developmental problems — will persist for a generation or more, with consequences that will cascade into communities and societies for decades.

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