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United Kingdom: Free IVF for gay couples and women up to 42 years

In controversial government guidelines, gay couples and women in their 40s will be entitled to free fertility treatment for the first time.
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Louise Brown (top), from England, was the first ever child to be conceived through in-vitro fertilization. (RACHEL COBB/AFP/Getty Images)

Just as the US goes through the aftermath of President Obama’s same-sex marriage endorsement, a controversy of similar proportions is brewing on the other side of the Atlantic.

For the first time in UK  history, same-sex couples will be given the same rights as heterosexual couples for fertility treatment, The Telegraph reports. But that's not all:

“The NHS will also extend the upper age limit for IVF, or in-vitro fertilisation, by three years to 42, following advice that suggests many women in their late 30s and early 40s could conceive after treatment. The move will see thousands of women a year given the chance to become mothers without having to pay up to L8,000 to private clinics.”

According to The Telegraph, the new guidelines also call on health authorities in England and Wales to fund fertility treatment known as intra-uterine insemination (IUI), using donor sperm, for people in same-sex relationships.

If they fail to conceive after six cycles of IUI, they should be considered for IVF, which is much more costly and involved.

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Robert Mugabe: 25-years of gay-bashing

Zimbabwe’s president has been ranting against homosexuality since 1987. Here are some of his most vitriolic statements on the subject.
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Pretty in pink. Zimbabwe President and leader of ZANU PF Robert Mugabe arrives at the party's 12th National People's Conference in Bulawayo, on December 8, 2011. (JEKESAI NJIKIZANA/AFP/Getty Images)

Robert Mugabe became the president of Zimbabwe in 1987.

Since then, one of Africa's longest-ruling dictators has been on a public crusade against homosexuals.

Here is a closer look at some of the things that have come out of his mouth on the topics of homosexuality and gay rights.

Just last week, speaking in Harare at a Women Empowerment conference of all places, Zimbabwe’s president expressed his latest views on homosexuality, The Zimbabwe Mail reports:

“When a man says he wants to get married to another man, we in Zimbabwe don't accept it. We can't talk of women's rights at all if we go in that direction. It will lead to extinction," Mugabe said. "Mothers were given the talent to bear children. That talent doesn't belong to men."

He also said that gay people are “below dogs,” as he had said many time before.

According to The Zimbabwe Mail article, he also shared his views on women‘s equality in the same venue:

"Our customs look down on women as inferior. Men pay cattle and money to get a wife and expect women to obey them. Women will surely lose. Men say that women are not as knowledgeable as us. The attitude of men still despises women."

Call me old-fashioned, but in a culture where men apparently despise women, wouldn’t homosexuality actually make a lot of sense? I guess not.

In February, Mugabe called British Prime Minister David Cameron “satanic“ and told him "to hell with you" over his calls to respect gay rights, as reported by AFP:

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Skopje: After complaints, statue of naked Prometheus gets undies

Macedonians erect a bronze statue of Premetheus in the capital. It's not the crime, it's the cover-up.
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Prometheus statue in Skopje after cover up. (Balkan Insight/Courtesy)

It isn’t clear who exactly complained about the nudity of the Greek God Prometheus, whose bronze statue now graces the area opposite the Parliament building in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, but that’s part of the mystery behind this story.

According to this article in the Balkan Insight, the complainers were “unidentified women's organizations."

What is clear is that good old nude Prometheus — who in Greek mythology is a symbol of self-sacrifice because he stole fire from the gods — suddenly appeared a few days ago decked out in brand new tidy whities.

Made out of bronze, naturally.

The speedy official response and “cover up” have sparked debate in Macedonia, prompting some to speculate whether other statues, like the giant sculpture of a woman breast-feeding a child, which is yet to be erected just a few hundred meters from the Prometheus sculpture, will also get a cover up.

Vladimir Velickovski, Skopje-based art professor, told the Balkan Insight:

“Our environment is small and frustrated and this (speedy cover-up) reflects hypocrisy and self-censorship….In private everything is allowed while in public everything is disputed,” Velickovski said.

Then again, this isn’t the first time Macedonia has been accused of hypocrisy when it comes to their treatment of Greek heroes.

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North American nation too prudish for masturbation video. (Hint: It’s not the U.S.)

National science museum in Ottawa has removed an animated video showing youth masturbating after public outcry.
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A masturbating female statue at the "Love Land," an outdoor sex-themed sculpture park on Jeju Island, South Korea. (Chung Sung-Jun/AFP/Getty Images)

The new “Sex: A Tell-all Exhibition” at Canada’s Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa should probably rename itself.

“Sex: A Tell-Alll Exhibition, Without all the Weird Stuff About Nudity, Bizarre Sexual Practices Outside the Missionary Position and Masturbation” might be more accurate, or so says this global sex columnist.

According to The Star, the show features full-frontal nude photos of males and females. Life-sized, of course.

The exhibit also includes a “climax room" that shows animations of aroused genitals, as well as a male voice that describes orgasm.

"Sex: A Tell-All" did not delight everyone in Ottawa.

After a huge public outcry, an animated video showing youth masturbating was removed from the show, which opens Thursday.

The facility also raised the minimum age for unaccompanied children to tour the exhibit from 12 to 16 years.

Responding to the criticism, here's the museum's spokesperson Yves St-Onge:

“The exhibition is designed to present information in a scientific, frank and accessible manner, an approach that the Canada Science and Technology Museum supports.”

The exhibit tries to answer all the questions teenagers might be shy to ask elsewhere.

For example, clinical sexologist Jamy Ryan discusses anal sex, The Star reports: 

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Irish women have the most sex in Europe, are least satisfied

A study suggests women having the least sex claim to be the most satisfied. And vice versa.
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Kiss me, I'm Irish. Or not. A woman poses with Dracula at the St Patrick's Day Parade on March 17, 2004 in Dublin, Ireland. (ShowBiz Ireland/AFP/Getty Images)

Whoever said that “bad sex is better than no sex at all” was not a woman.

Definitely not a European woman. Let alone an Irish woman.

A study of the sex habits across the EU carried out by Women’s Health magazine revealed that those women who are getting the most action in bed are least satisfied with their sex lives.

Our condolences to all Irish women.

Seven out of ten Irish ladies say they are not satisfied with sex, yet it‘s not for the lack of trying. An astounding 42 percent of them have sex more than three times a week, The Irish Sun reports.

I abstain from speculating what all of this says about Irish men. Say what you say about their lovemaking skills, they are the most committed men in Europe.

According to the 2010 European Singles Survey, commissioned by PARSHIP, part of Europe’s largest premium online matchmaking service, 57 percent of Ireland’s single men hoped that their next relationship would result in some form of commitment.

Here are some of the survey's tips for dating an Irish man:

  • Overall, single Irish men have experienced 3.38 serious relationships and dated 5 different women over the last 12 months, resulting in 2 casual relationships
  • Half of Irish men haven’t had a serious relationship in more than three years but 60 percent think they’ll meet someone special over the next two years
  • 54 percent prefer to find women in a pub, although in the next 12 months 57 percent intend to go online to find love
  • The majority of single men – six out of ten – are happy and content being single
  • One third of men believe that, in an ideal world, one parent should stay at home to raise the family
  • Paris Hilton is the celebrity they would least want to date

Back to the sex survey.

To be fair to Irish men, it’s not just Ireland where people claim less sex is better.

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Swedish boys’ new hero: pram-pushing Spiderman

Gender roles are an outdated thing, thinks the CEO of Leklust, a Swedish company that's proudly reversing traditional roles of children.
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Why should boys have all the fun? (Leklust catalog/Courtesy)

A boy in a Spiderman outfit pushes a pink pram.

A young girl rides in a toy race car.

Those are just two pictures from a new toy catalog from "Leklust," a company with 17 toy stores in Sweden.

Company CEO Kaj Wiberg thinks it's time to move forward from old fashioned gender restrictions, The Local reports.

An image of gender-progressive toddlers might cause an outrage in most places in the world, but not so in Scandinavia.

Just last year, I reported about Norway’s gender-bending kindergartens.

Reporting from a region of the world where men routinely go on parental leave and where toddlers are encouraged to read a broad range of fairytales — including the one about the gay king — I was hardly surprised a Swedish store would “dare” to feature a male figure pushing a pram.

Even a pink pram.

"Gender roles are an outdated thing," the newspaper quotes Wiberg, the CEO, as saying. "I'm 71 years old, and those of us who have worked in this industry for a while know that boys play with doll houses. We know that boys can play with Barbie dolls.”

And in Sweden, they do. And no, they do not have a higher percentage of gay population. Just a highly educated and astutely aware population.

Take this example:

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Student banking: Now available with a happy ending

(VIDEO) A Czech banking commercial makes student bank accounts sound positively orgasmic.
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Why isn't banking in the US this much fun? (Screen grab/GlobalPost)

Collecting grossly inappropriate Eastern European advertisements is one of my long-time hobbies.

Yes, it is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel, but hey, it’s more fun than collecting stamps.

You may remember the billboard I saw in Slovakia last year.

It featured a nude woman with no pubic hair with a slogan that read: “Have you been neglecting your front year lately?”

It was, naturally, an ad for a hardware store.

Well, I think I can top that one today.

Straight from prime time Czech television comes this gem:

A young woman on the screen is having an orgasm for about ten seconds. You are not sure what’s happening. Has my TV accidentally switched to a German porn channel?

No, no, no.

Shortly, you find out it’s an ad for banking. For student accounts, to be precise.

The message is this: You wish your “first time” was as good as your first bank account.

The bank account package, by the way, is called G2. Students thus have their own banking G-spot in each branch of Komercni banka. Quite handy, eh?

The ad comes (literally) in two variations. One features a woman.

The other one features a man:

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Wanderlust Daily Trifle: Choreplay

Learn something new.
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A woman uses a vacuum cleaner to clean and prepare a stand at the 'Home Textiles' trade fair in Frankfurt, Germany on January 12, 2010. (Thomas Lohnes/AFP/Getty Images)

Studies have shown that women are more likely to be interested in sex if the house is clean. This is where "choreplay" comes in.

Ian Kerner, PhD, a sex and relationship expert and the author of She Comes First: The Thinking Man’s Guide to Pleasuring a Woman, claims that a bit a "sexual bribery" in a healthy relationship is a good thing.

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Volunteer sperm donor: 82 children and still going strong

A 42-year-old Dutch man has an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of all the kids he's fathered. Not bad for a guy who lost his virginity at 34.
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Ed Houben, 42. Quite possible the world's most prolific sperm donor. (EdHouben.eu/Courtesy)

According to his own meticulous record-keeping, Ed Houden has an 80 percent success rate in impregnating women.

That’s not the only procreation-related qualification he gladly publicizes.

His website advertising his “private sperm donor services” also lists that he is HIV-negative and does not have chlamydia.

His sperm count is more than 100 million per milliliter of ejaculate, which is — according to him — what makes him such a successful donor, he told Spiegel Online.

He admits he was a bit of a sexual “late bloomer.” He lost his virginity at 34, but has since more than made up for it, if fathering 82 children counts for anything (with 10 more on the way).

Simply put, Houden has found his inner purpose: spreading his seed to as many women as possible.

At 42, he is too old to donate sperm through clinics by the “official route,” which means clinics would use his sperm for insemination and IVF. So he sticks to the old-fashioned way: he knocks them up.

Here's how it works:

Houden finds women “interested in having a baby without a father involved” online through the sperm-donation site spermaspender.de, according to Spiegel Online:

He already has three children in Berlin. The remaining 79 live in other cities and countries, including Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Spain. Houben has entered their names, dates of birth and genders into an Excel table at home. The oldest child is almost nine, while the youngest is only 2 months old.

In short, Houben, a historian from Maastricht, volunteers his services to help women who lack time, money or opportunity to take the “official route” to becoming pregnant.

What he is doing isn’t technically illegal. There are no limits on how many children someone can have, or rules on how a child is fathered.

But still, he could potentially get in trouble.

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Transgender news: Scientist finds people who can “switch” between genitals

Further research on “phantom genitals” may call for a new category of transgenderism.
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Indian supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community participate in the 'Queer Azadi March' in Mumbai on January 28, 2012. (PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images)

Human sexuality, it appears, has never been more complex.

Not to mention elusive.

A scientist has studied a group of men and women who report that their sexual identity can switch involuntarily to that of the opposite sex and back again, Scientific American reports.

For some people, the switch can occur several times a day.

Most of them however, report the frequency is more like once a week.

The “switch” is accompanied by the sensation of phantom breasts or genitalia of the non-biological sex.

The study,  Medical Hypotheses, “Alternating gender incongruity: A new neuropsychiatric syndrome providing insight into the dynamic plasticity of brain-sex,” was published by Laura Case, a graduate student of renowned neuroscientist Vilayanur S. Ramachandran.

It is based on research with 32 respondents (11 anatomically female) from an online bigender forum that hosts about 600 members.

Scientific American listed the following fascinating quotes from research subjects:

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