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  • What A Naked Body Really Looks Like Nadav Kander

    In an age when airbrushing the naked body has become a photography standard, the works of Nadav Kander are absolutely refreshing. The Israel-born, UK-based artist captures a wildly diverse survey of form and flesh, exquisitely displayed in a new exhibit titled "Bodies, 6 Women, 1 Man" at London's Flowers Gallery.

    Kander's exhibit harkens back to Renaissance masterpieces, featuring classically styled female and male nudes baring and contorting their bodies. Covered in white marble dust, the models appear like pristine sculptures or a figure from an ethereal period painting.

    Yet as photographs, the works are innately modern, a characteristic not lost in the subjects' tendency to actively hide their faces from the camera. Unlike the pensive gaze that can be seen in works by Raphael or Bellini, the eyes of Kander's alabaster nudes almost always avert the lens, hiding behind outstretched arms or backwards facing bodies. Present yet private, archaic yet contemporary, familiar yet newly distinct; the efficacious project puts forth a new definition of the nude that alerts us to paradox after paradox.

    “I don’t want to make art that’s simple, ‘correct for the times,’ or merely to fit a gap in the market," Kander explained in a recent interview with TIME magazine. "I make things that nourish me.”

    The unabashed artist will be showing his work until February 9 at Flowers Gallery in London. Scroll down for a preview of his work and let us know what you think of his "Bodies" in the comments section.

    Tate Stevens Signs $5 Million Deal with Simon Cowell Record Label

    ‘The X Factor’ Season two champion Tate Stevens has signed a record deal worth $5 million with Syco Music/RCA Records Nashville.

    A news release Tuesday reported that the 37-year-old country crooner from Belton, Missouri has relocated in Nashville and is already writing and recording for an untitled album that will be released in the fall on Simon Cowell‘s record label.

    Tate hit Twitter late yesterday with the news, “This is really a dream come true, signed with Syco Music, RCA Nashville.  I am blessed because of you! #tatenation”

    The newest ‘X Factor’ winner began as the lead singer with Outlaw Junkies in 2005.  He moved on in 2008 to form the Tate Stevens Band, a six-man ensemble that has toured extensively in the Midwest.

    He auditioned in early 2012 in Kansas City and was selected to go to boot camp where he had to sing for survival.  The entertainer ended up competing as part of the top 24 in the “Over 25s” category and was mentored by L.A. Reid.  He was chosen to be part of his mentor’s top four and went on to win the top prize.

    Stevens married his high school sweetheart in 1997, and they have a son Hayden and a daughter Rylie

    Megan Fox Slams Lindsay Lohan, Believes in Leprechauns

    Oh my goodness, Megan Fox, what have you done? I can tell you part of what you’ve done … and you’re going to have to just go ahead and surmise the rest for yourself, because wow. Girl.

    No, what you did was unexpectedly get pregnant, drop off the radar and didn’t exploit your pregnancy for all it was worth (like you just know some people have done and—ahem—are going to do), disappeared after your little son was born and then, when you finally did emerge, it was like this new person took your place. It was like everything formerly Megan Fox had dropped away, and there was this demure, intelligent, in touch person in Megan Fox’s place, who luckily looked the same as Megan Fox. I almost had a brain crush on Megan Fox for a minute, especially when she said that she wasn’t going to be posing in bikinis anymore—for the sake of her son, of course.

    This new spread and interview with Esquire, though? Holy hell. It’s … well, here. This is what it is. Here’s Megan talking about Lindsay Lohan:

        “She [Marilyn] was sort of like Lindsay [Lohan]. She was an actress who wasn’t reliable, who almost wasn’t insurable … She had all the potential in the world, and it was squandered. I’m not interested in following in those footsteps.”

    On what it’s like to be famous:

        “I don’t think people understand. They all think we should shut the f**kk up and stop complaining because you live in a big house or you drive a Bentley. What people don’t realize is that fame, whatever your worst experience in high school, when you were being bullied by those ten kids in high school, fame is that, but on a global scale, where you’re being bullied by millions of people constantly.”

    On posing half-naked all the time, and then making the decision to not (after this shoot, of course):

        “I felt powerless in that image. I didn’t feel powerful. It ate every other part of my personality, not for me but for how people saw me, because there was nothing else to see or know. That devalued me. Because I wasn’t anything. I was an image. I was a picture. I was a pose.”

    On her belief the prior-mentioned leprechauns and other things:

        “I like believing. I believe in all of these Irish myths, like leprechauns. Not the pot of gold, not the Lucky Charms leprechauns. But maybe was there something in the traditional sense? I believe that this stuff came from somewhere other than people’s imaginations … Loch Ness monster? There’s something to it. … I [also] believe in aliens.”

    On the bible:

        “I’ve read the Book of Revelation a million times,” Megan Fox says. “It does not make sense, obviously. It needs to be decoded. What is the dragon? What is the prostitute? What are these things? What is this imagery? What was John seeing? And I was just thinking, What is the Antichrist?”

    And, ahem, on speaking tongues in church:

        “I have seen magical, crazy things happen. I’ve seen people be healed. Even now, in the church I go to, during Praise and Worship I could feel that I was maybe getting ready to speak in tongues, and I’d have to shut it off because I don’t know what that church would do if I started screaming out in tongues in the back.”

    London helicopter crash Two die in Vauxhall crane accident

    Two people were killed and 12 were injured when a helicopter crashed into a crane in central London.

    Police said the helicopter hit the crane on top of The Tower, One St George Wharf at about 08:00 GMT.

    About 80 firefighters were at the scene near Wandsworth Road in South Lambeth. Pilot Pete Barnes was killed in the crash, while the other person killed was on the ground.

    The pilot had asked to be diverted to a nearby heliport because of bad weather.

    Jon Horne, chief executive of Redhill Aerodrome Ventures, where the helicopter began its flight at 07:35, said it was owned by the Rotormotion private charter firm.

    Metropolitan Police Commander Neil Basu told BBC News it was "miraculous" the crash was not much worse.

    Burning wreckage lay in the road but the fire was brought under control within 25 minutes, the fire brigade said.

    Five people were taken to hospital. One had a broken leg and the others had minor injuries. Seven people were treated at the scene.

    Pauline Cranmer, from London Ambulance Service, said: "There were a number of injuries that would potentially be consistent with being hit by debris."

    The Civil Aviation Authority said pilots had previously been notified of the crane involved in the crash.

    White House now requires ‘We the People’ petitions to have 100,000 signatures for official response

    President Barack Obama’s deputies have quadrupled the number of signatures that petitioners on the administration’s “We the People” website must collect to get an official response from the White House, following a series of popular, provocative and disrespectful signature drives by his critics.

    Some of the petitions sought approval for states to secede after Obama’s re-election, while others called on the White House to disavow executive orders that restrict gun rights, or to deport CNN’s British-born, progressive host Piers Morgan.

    “Starting today, as we move into a second term, petitions must receive 100,000 signatures in 30 days in order to receive an official response from the Obama Administration,” said an early evening Jan. 15 statement from Macon Phillips, the White House’s digital strategy director.

    Usage of the petition site has spiked since the election, partly because more than 600,000 people have signed various secession petitions. (RELATED: Secession petitions deluge White House website) “In the first 10 months of 2012, it took an average of 18 days for a new petition to cross the 25,000-signature threshold,” said Macon’s statement. “In the last two months of the year, that average time was cut in half to just 9 days, and most petitions that crossed the threshold collected 25,000 signatures within five days of their creation.”

    Pregnant Amber Rose Shows Off Huge Baby Bump

    Just last week, Amber Rose shared a photo of her sizable baby bump (in fact, tweeting bare-belly pictures seems to be a trend for pregnant celebrities lately).

    And now comes another glimpse of the mama-to-be, who looks as if she's due any moment. Rose, 29, stepped out to a salon in West Hollywood, Calif., Monday, looking ready to pop in a black Lycra ensemble and pink leather jacket.

    The model and fiance Wiz Khalifa, 25, recently made headlines for their candid remarks about how Khalifa's penchant for pot will affect their parenting.

    "Of course, I'm not going to be smoking right there over the baby, because smoke in general and being high is not good for a kid. None of that," Khalifa told E! News. "But definitely he's going to know what it is—and he'll know the difference between being a child and not being able to use it and being an adult and knowing how to use it."

    Stacie Halas, California Teacher Fired For Porn Star Past, Loses Appeal

    A middle-school science teacher fired after students learned she had appeared in pornographic movies had hoped not just to get her job back, but to set a precedent for people looking to escape an embarrassing personal history.

    A three-judge commission put a decisive stop to both, saying firmly and unanimously that Stacie Halas should not be in the classroom.

    "We were hoping we could show you could overcome your past," Halas lawyer Richard Schwab said Tuesday. "I think she's representative of a lot of people who may have a past that may not involve anything illegal or anything that hurts anybody."

    Judge Julie Cabos-Owen said such a past matters in an age when technology makes porn easy to access and hard to bury.

    "Although her pornography career has concluded, the ongoing availability of her pornographic materials on the Internet will continue to impede her from being an effective teacher and respected colleague," Cabos-Owen said in the 46-page decision issued Friday by the Commission on Professional Competence.

    Halas, 32, was continually deceitful about her nine-month career in porn before she went to work at the school, the judges said.

    Schwab said Halas "was being honest and forthright, but was embarrassed and humiliated by her past experience in the adult industry."

    Halas was fired in April from her job as a science teacher at Haydock Intermediate School in Oxnard after online videos of her in porn were discovered by students and teachers.

    Student claims that the teacher was moonlighting as a porn star were initially dismissed after school officials said they couldn't find any images of her on the Internet – but they were using the school's computers, which don't allow access to porn.

    Teachers then showed administrators downloads of Halas' sex videos from their smartphones.

    In hearings, former assistant principal Wayne Saddler testified that at the start of a sex video, Halas talked about being a teacher and he felt her effectiveness in the classroom had been compromised.

    Porn star teacher 'Tiffany Six' loses appeal to get job back

    A former porn star teacher who went by the name of "Tiffany Six" lost her appeal to get her job back, according to a Jan. 16 My Fox 8 report. When students discovered Stacie Halas, a middle school biology teacher, had a porn star past, she was removed from her classroom at Haydock Intermediate School in Oxnard.

    Even so, the former porn star turned teacher appealed to get her job back despite her adult film past. However, the three judge panel denied petition made by Stacie Halas and her lawyer. Her lawyer Richard Schwab said,

        "We were hoping we could show you could overcome your past. I think she’s representative of a lot of people who may have a past that may not involve anything illegal or anything that hurts anybody."
    It does seem that people deserve a chance to overcome their past, but one of the problems is that Stacie Halas was not up front about her porn star past as "Tiffany Six" when she applied for her teaching position. It is possible that former porn stars will not be able to effectively teach in middle schools.

        "Although her pornography career has concluded, the ongoing availability of her pornographic materials on the Internet will continue to impede her from being an effective teacher and respected colleague."

    It certainly does pose a problem when students can access explicit films featuring their teachers. What do you think? Should this porn star teacher formerly known as "Tiffany Six" be allowed to remain in the classroom? What about other former adult film stars? Is the avenue of teacher completely closed for them?

    Florida property rights showdown lands at the Supreme Court

    A land battle that has been raging for nearly two decades landed Tuesday at the Supreme Court, which will decide whether the government went too far in regulating a development in Florida.

    Coy Koontz in the 1970s bought a parcel of land, the majority of which later was classified a wetland. When he sought a permit to develop a portion of it in the 1990s, the Florida agency in charge of the area said Koontz would need to take steps to remediate the damage he would cause.

    Koontz offered to give the agency 11 of the 15 acres, in exchange for a permit to develop the remaining land. In addition, the state government said he would need to undertake other improvements. Options ranged from numerous changes to the original plot to paying for enhancement of 50 government-owned acres miles away from the Koontz plot.

    Though Koontz continued to offer the 11 acres, he refused to go along with the government's other requirements and decided to sue.

    On Tuesday, the justices at the Supreme Court considered whether the land dispute amounts to a "taking" -- whether by denying Koontz the opportunity to further develop his land unless he spent thousands to meet government demands, it deprived him of its potential value.

    His attorneys called the offer a "government shakedown,” but the government’s lawyers say Koontz simply walked away and refused to negotiate. Koontz has since died, and his son -- Coy Koontz Jr. -- has continued the case.

    Though Koontz Jr. and his legal team felt confident following the arguments Tuesday, they had to acknowledge the tough questions from Justice Antonin Scalia. Arguably one of the court's most conservative justices, he seemed unconvinced that the government's actions violated the Fifth Amendment.

    "I can't see where there's a taking here," Scalia said, adding, "Nothing's been taken."

    But his colleague, Justice Anthony Kennedy, seemed to think the Koontz case is the classic example of an unlawful, unconstitutional taking, asking why the government can "force you, as a condition to using your property to its highest and best use, to pay them money?"

    Koontz Jr. says he never considered dropping the fight.

    "It is important for anyone to understand that the government can at times be a creeping blob, absorbing your rights, and hopefully this will at least put a halt to that," Koontz Jr. said as he stood on the plaza in front of the Supreme Court.

    How 19-year-old activist Zack Kopplin is making life hell for Louisiana’s creationists

    For Zack Kopplin, it all started back in 2008 with the passing of the Louisiana Science Education Act. The bill made it considerably easier for teachers to introduce creationist textbooks into the classroom. Outraged, he wrote a research paper about it for a high school English class. Nearly five years later, the 19-year-old Kopplin has become one of the fiercest — and most feared — advocates for education reform in Louisiana. We recently spoke to him to learn more about how he's making a difference.

    Kopplin, who is studying history at Rice University, had good reason to be upset after the passing of the LSEA — an insidious piece of legislation that allows teachers to bring in their own supplemental materials when discussing politically controversial topics like evolution or climate change. Soon after the act was passed, some of his teachers began to not just supplement existing texts, but to rid the classroom of established science books altogether. It was during the process to adopt a new life science textbook in 2010 that creationists barraged Louisiana's State Board of Education with complaints about the evidence-based science texts. Suddenly, it appeared that they were going to be successful in throwing out science textbooks.
    A pivotal moment

    How 19-year-old activist Zack Kopplin is making life hell for Louisiana's creationists "This was a pivotal moment for me," Kopplin told io9. "I had always been a shy kid and had never spoken out before — I found myself speaking at a meeting of an advisory committee to the State Board of Education and urging them to adopt good science textbooks — and we won." The LSEA still stood, but at least the science books could stay.

    No one was more surprised of his becoming a science advocate than Kopplin himself. In fact, after writing his English paper in 2008 — when he was just 14-years-old — he assumed that someone else would publicly take on the law. But no one did.

    "I didn't expect it to be me," he said. "By my senior year though, I realized that no one was going to take on the law, so for my high school senior project I decided to get a repeal bill."

    Indeed, it was the ensuing coverage of the science textbook adoption issue that launched Kopplin as an activist. It also gave him the confidence to start the campaign to repeal the LSEA.

    Encouraged by Barbara Forrest, a philosophy professor at Southeastern Louisiana University — and a staunch critic of intelligent design and the Discovery Institute — Kopplin decided to write a letter that could be signed by Nobel laureate scientists in support of the repeal. To that end, he contacted Sir Harry Kroto, a British chemist who shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Robert Curl and Richard Smalley. Kroto helped him to draft the letter — one that has now been signed by 78 Nobel laureates.

    In addition, Kopplin has introduced two bills to repeal the LSEA, both of which have been sponsored by State Senator Karen Carter Peterson. He plans on producing a third bill later this spring. And along with the Nobel laureates, he has the support of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), New Orleans City Council, and many others.

    But as the early results of his efforts have shown, it's not going to be an easy battle.

    "We've had gains over the last few years," he says, "But our first attempt to repeal the LSEA was defeated 5-1 in committee, and in our second attempt we lost 2-1." Kopplin is hoping to get out of committee this year.

    He also has his eyes set on vouchers. After an Alternet story came out about a school in the Louisiana voucher program teaching that the Loch Ness Monster was real and disproved evolution, Kopplin looked deeper into the program and found that this wasn't just one school, but at least 19 other schools, too.

    School vouchers, he argues, unconstitutionally fund the teaching of creationism because many of the schools in these programs are private fundamentalist religious schools who are teaching creationism.

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