June 28th, 2009

It's gay pride day in Paris and Berlin

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Liza Minnelli enchants Paris gay pride march

PARIS (AFP) — Hundreds of thousands on Saturday marched through Paris and Berlin in flamboyant Gay Pride parades with US showbiz diva and gay icon Liza Minnelli mesmerising crowds in the French capital.

Minnelli, who takes to the stage later Saturday in the French capital, a city which also holds fond memories for the star of her film director father, dazzled with a brief dance routine.

"Freedom," she cried, dancing on a float festooned with multi-coloured balloons in the gay movement's symbolic rainbow hues.

Organisers said about 700,000 people attended the event but police put the number at some 200,000.

"We knew that she had a concert this evening in Paris but when her agent told us that she could come, we thought it was a joke," said Philippe Castel, the spokesman for an umbrella grouping of some 50 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender bodies.

"It's really an honour and a great pleasure to have her with us, she's an icon," he said.

"This will bring greater visibility to our fight."

But Castel said several things including marriage and adoption rights continued to elude gays and lesbians in France.

The vibrant procession included two floats blasting pop and techno music.

The event paid tribute to Stonewall -- a spontaneous New York uprising which erupted exactly 40 years ago and launched the US homosexual rights movement.

The event took its name from a New York bar, called the Stonewall Inn, which shot to global attention when its gay clientele staged a revolt against police harassment, sparking clashes for five days.

"It's been a long march. The progress accomplished has been great and gives us confidence," said Jack Lang, who as culture minister took one of the first Gay Pride marches in France in 1982.

"But we have to think very seriously about all the homosexuals in Iran, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere who are being persecuted."

Berlin's 31st Gay Pride march drew about 550,000 participants and spectators, according to local media estimates.

The parade featured floats led by one emblazoned with the slogan "Step by step towards Gay Pride. Equal rights for all."

In related matters:

German activists push for constitutional amendment for gay rights
Forty years after the landmark "Stonewall uprising," German politicians and gay rights activists are demanding changes to the constitution to include equal rights for gay people.
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Some photos from Berlin:Collapse )

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I wasn't sure what to think about this fancy new environmental bill that everyone's been buzzing over lately. There were some good things, some bad things, and some things in between, but I admit to knowing very little about what it really contained. Fortunately, my main man Dennis Kucinich is here to help sort things out:

“I oppose H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009. The reason is simple. It won’t address the problem. In fact, it might make the problem worse.

“It sets targets that are too weak, especially in the short term, and sets about meeting those targets through Enron-style accounting methods. It gives new life to one of the primary sources of the problem that should be on its way out– coal – by giving it record subsidies. And it is rounded out with massive corporate giveaways at taxpayer expense. There is $60 billion for a single technology which may or may not work, but which enables coal power plants to keep warming the planet at least another 20 years.

“Worse, the bill locks us into a framework that will fail. Science tells us that immediately is not soon enough to begin repairing the planet. Waiting another decade or more will virtually guarantee catastrophic levels of warming. But the bill does not require any greenhouse gas reductions beyond current levels until 2030.

“Today’s bill is a fragile compromise, which leads some to claim that we cannot do better. I respectfully submit that not only can we do better; we have no choice but to do better. Indeed, if we pass a bill that only creates the illusion of addressing the problem, we walk away with only an illusion. The price for that illusion is the opportunity to take substantive action.

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Solar flares

Honduran leader forced into exile

Troops in Honduras have detained the president and flown him out of the country after a power struggle over plans to change the constitution.

President Manuel Zelaya was flown to Costa Rica from an air force base outside the capital, Tegucigalpa.

Mr Zelaya, elected for a non-renewable four-year term in January 2006, wanted a vote to extend his time in office.

His arrest came just before the start of a referendum ruled illegal by the Supreme Court and opposed by Congress.

There was also resistance within Mr Zelaya's own party to the plan to hold the vote.

Reuters news agency reports that police fired teargas at about 500 supporters of Mr Zelaya who had gathered outside the presidential palace.

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Hard to tell how big this story could become; at least so far there doesn't seem to be anyone injured.

GOP: Obamacare will kill us all! And we dont need Public Roads!

Axelrod, Grassley Spar Over Bipartisan Health Care

One of Barack Obama's chief advisers and one of the key Republicans in the Senate jousted on Sunday over what constitutes bipartisanship when it comes to health care legislation.

Appearing on ABC's "This Week," David Axelrod, the president's chief strategist, sought to allay criticism that the health care reform being pushed by the White House and Democrats on the Hill was being constructed without GOP support.

"The bill will be bipartisan by definition," said Axelrod. "The Senate health committee accepted 82 Republican amendments. Republican ideas will be included with this process, we hope it will come with Republican votes as well."

Host George Stephanopoulos followed the remark by noting: "That seems to be the new White House definition of bipartisanship." He appeared to be referencing the administration's approach to the stimulus package, which passed with no Republican support in the House but contained various GOP policy proposals.

"I don't think we should get consumed by process at a time when health care costs are -- you know they've doubled in this decade?" Axelrod responded. "Ultimately we'll bring the federal budget down. We have to act. We can't afford to get consumed in these types of Washington discussions."

That position was attacked in a latter segment on the same show when Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, scoffed at Axelrod's definition of bipartisanship.

"He said they put in 83 amendments," responded the Iowa Republican, missing the number Axelrod used by one. "Let me assure you, those were not changes in policy. Those were strictly technical. And Republicans are not going to hoodwinked into calling that a bipartisan bill."

Broad Support for Sotomayor's Supreme Court Confirmation. GOP wonder why there are so many racists

Broad Support for Sotomayor's Supreme Court Confirmation

Sonia Sotomayor enjoys broad public support for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, with large majorities of Americans rejecting the notion that her sex, race or ethnicity play a negative role in how she decides cases as a judge.

Sixty-two percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll say Sotomayor should be confirmed, among the highest levels of support for a high court nominee in polling data back to Robert Bork in 1987. The only numerically higher was 63 percent initial support for Clarence Thomas, which fell when his nomination turned controversial.
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Edwards And Mistress Made Sex Tape, Former Aide Says

Former presidential candidate John Edwards is out of luck if he hoped that the extramarital affairs of Gov. Mark Sanford and Sen. John Ensign would take people’s minds off his own cheating scandal.

Former Edwards aide Andrew Young says the ex-senator and his former mistress, Rielle Hunter, once made a sex tape, according to someone who has seen Young’s book proposal.

St. Martin’s Press just inked a deal with Young, who also says in his proposal that, contrary to his public statement last year, he is not the father of Hunter’s infant daughter — Edwards is. Edwards has denied that.

Young says that his belief in Edwards ran so deep that he agreed to take the fall for the candidate, inviting the pregnant Hunter to live with him, his wife, Cheri, and their three children. Later, after Hunter delivered the baby, Young and his family moved to a different home in California.

While he was unpacking, Young discovered a videocassette, according to the book pitch. Hunter had been hired by the Edwards campaign to videotape the candidate’s movements, but this one is said to have shown him taking positions that weren’t on his official platform.

The purported sex tape confirmed to Hunter that Edwards was even more reckless than he thought.

According to our source, Hunter confided to Young that she and Edwards talked about getting married should the candidate’s cancer-stricken wife, Elizabeth, pass away, even discussing what music they’d play at their wedding.

Elizabeth Edwards is said to hold Young partly to blame for her husband’s affair, since Young knew it was going on and sometimes used his cell phone to conference the senator and his girlfriend. Young has told friends that, in revenge, Elizabeth arranged for the media to learn about a youthful misdeameanor in which Young was arrested for stealing a sign from a biker bar.

Elizabeth also suspects Young stole the baseball card collection of her late son, Wade, according to a source who says that she told Young in an e-mail that other former staff members “have passed lie detector tests.”

Young’s proposal, which one editor said “was impossible to put down,” also contends that Sen. Edwards frequently clashed with running mate John Kerry during their 2004 race for the White House. And before Edwards owned up to his affair with Hunter, Young says he told him that Barack Obama had promised he’d make him attorney general if he didn’t pick him as his 2008 running mate.

Elizabeth Edwards and Young’s agent had no comment. An e-mail to John Edwards’ assistant wasn’t returned. Hunter couldn’t be reached.


Even people who do not use illicit drugs or get shot in the head have to contend with the reality..

So many great quotes. I'm swiping the article summary from Calculated Risk, an economics blog focusing on real estate that predicted much of the housing crisis.

Scientific American: Bubbles and Busts

Scientific American has a discussion of behavioral economics (Shiller's area) in the July issue. Here is a funny quote:

“Economists suffer from a deep psychological disorder that I call ‘physics envy'. We wish that 99 percent of economic behavior could be captured by three simple laws of nature. In fact, economists have 99 laws that capture 3 percent of behavior. Economics is a uniquely human endeavor ..."
Andrew Lo, a professor of finance at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

It probably isn't as dismal as Lo suggests!

Here is the article from Scientific American: The Science of Economic Bubbles and Busts (ht Jonathan) and a short excerpt:

... [T]he ideas of behavioral economists, who study the role of psychology in making economic decisions, are gaining increasing attention today, as scientists of many stripes struggle to understand why the world economy fell so hard and fast. And their ideas are bolstered by the brain scientists who make inside-the-skull snapshots of the [ventromedial prefrontal cortex] VMPFC and other brain areas. Notably, an experiment reported in March ... demonstrated that some of the brain’s decision-making circuitry showed signs of money illusion on images from a brain scanner. A part of the VMPFC lit up in subjects who encountered a larger amount of money, even if the relative buying power of that sum had not changed, because prices had increased as well.

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I've argued before that many buyers during the late stages of the bubble acted rationally. They could buy with little or no money down, and their house payments were below the comparable rent for a couple of years . If prices went up, they could sell as a profit - and if prices went down, they could strategically default. That was a systemic problem.

But animal spirits definitely helps explain the rush to buy that we saw at the peak of the bubble.

As an aside, I highlighted the one sentence because I've seen that behavior frequently. Some people are so afraid of losing money on each investment that they pass up on some very good investments. These individuals appear to assign a higher value to losing $1000, than gaining the same amount.

The original source has a long but interesting article about animal spirits vs rational behavior. According to the article, "[s]ome of this research is already being adopted as a guide to action by the Obama administration as it tries to stabilize banks and the housing sector." The company I work for has been automatically enrolling people in 401(k) plans and letting them opt out instead of making them choose to join, a strategy mentioned in the article. According to a guy I talked to from Human Relations about a year ago, almost no one opts out, but they have a much larger percentage of participants than they did before changing the policy.

Arizona moves to allow concealed guns in bars

"This might be one of the stupidest things that I have heard of," said Mike Nelson, who owns Pomeroy's bar in Phoenix and plans to post a sign on his front door outlawing guns in his bar as soon as possible. "Can you think of a single reason guns and alcohol should be intertwined?"

The bill is part of a nationwide push by the National Rifle Association. Georgia passed a similar law in 2008, as did Tennessee earlier this year in becoming the 40th state to allow bar or restaurant patrons to carry guns.

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AP story @ Yahoo! News


David Gregory Accidentally Accuses Jon Huntsman Of Having An Affair, Effusively Apologizes

The Republican Party is in such a state of disrepair and scandal that television news hosts can't keep track of which prominent figures are dealing with marital problems and which are simply abandoning ship.

On Sunday, "Meet the Press" host David Gregory offered an innocent but humorous slip-up, accidentally accusing former Republican Utah Governor and current China Ambassador Jon Huntsman of having an affair.

Gregory was going through the list of potential Republican presidential candidates and their various shortcomings when he exchanged Huntsman's name for that of Senator John Ensign (R-N.V.), who has admitted to an affair with a former staffer.

"Jon Huntsman has hurt his chances with an affair that came out," said Gregory. "Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, Ensign, [Mike] Huckabee. Excuse me. I said Huntsman. I meant Ensign. There was no affair with Jon Huntsman. He was taken out, has gone over to China to be ambassador. Excuse me. Excuse me."

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hp; bb harry; quidditch

Stonewall Revisited? Fort Worth, TX Gay Bar Raided Last Night

FortWorthBarRaidOvernight, the GLBTQ community “celebrated” the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City. While the gay rights movement far exceeds even the formation of the Mattachine Society nearly 60 years ago (in 1950), the events in Greenwich Village on that summer night in 1969 further organized, and arguably shaped a surge in the pursuit of those rights. We have fought ever since.

Well, except last night in Fort Worth, Texas.

This morning, the Dallas Voice reported that The Rainbow Lounge, a new gay bar in Fort Worth, west of Dallas, was raided early this morning. Numerous people were arrested and rough-housed without any specific reason. Some people were even thrown to the ground and handcuffed, allegedly for public intoxication. One report even stated that a young woman who was of age, and hadn’t even been drinking, received similar treatment, so it’s safe to assume that public intoxication wasn’t the real reason the police were there.

An unidentified Rainbow Lounge patron sent this message to Arnold Wayne Jones at the Dallas Voice this morning:

The not awesome thing was the paddy wagon of homophobic police that showed up … looking for trouble. My group and I were sitting on the back patio at a picnic table. Nobody was being wild out there. [The police] came through with flashlights, being loud asking what was going on out here, then asked why everyone was all the sudden being quiet. When one group started up their conversations again, they took one guy away. I left shortly after and as I walked through the front bar there were numerous cops with plastic handcuffs all ready to go. I [left] the bar and they [had] a big van in the parking lot and numerous cars on the street. And just so you know, it wasn’t fire hazard crowded or seedy wild in there. … The worst part is [friends later told me] that [the police] had numerous people face down on the ground outside.

Facedown on the ground outside? A big van in the parking lot and numerous cars on the street?

One patron told Dallas Voice reporter Tammye Nash, “It felt so very Stonewall, but without the standing up for ourselves.”

FWNeighborHouseChuck Potter, a patron of the bar last night (who took both pictures you see here), avoided being arrested, but indicated that as many as 20 folks were arrested during the raid. Many people fled from the back exit, and went to neighboring properties, out of sight from the officers, to avoid arrest. Others feared leaving via the front entrance, because some who did were put face-down on the pavement and handcuffed.

While many attempted to avoid the situation, or did not resist arrest, Potter was one individual who was angry above anything else. He said:

The raid at Fort Worth’s new gay bar the Rainbow Lounge really took place last night and some did exactly what the police wanted them to do… leave. This is absolutely unacceptable. I can not believe that on the eve of the 40th anniversary of STONEWALL that the fort worth police will show up with paddy wagon and take people at random and arrest them. If Robert H had stayed last night he would have seen anywhere from 15 to 20 people arrest mostly for public intoxication. Fort worth can not legally shut down the bar so they are harassing the bars patrons, we must put a stop to this!!

Lots of people will be showing their pride today in Dallas and participating in the Million Man March and that is great, but what happened last night in Fort Worth is proof that we have got to do more than simply march down the strip in Dallas’ “gayberhood”. We need to do like our brothers and sisters did 40 years ago and PROTEST where the harassment and injustice is happening. I am not saying lets riot in the streets of Fort Worth but I am saying lets take the Million Man March to Fort Worth and make our Voice heard.

Stop The Madness

I have a couple of friends in the DFW area, so I’ll be looking into this more, and getting back to you as soon as I can.

EDIT, 16h20: Kudos to Chuck Potter who is following through on his demand for anger and protest at last night’s incident. Here are the details:

They are asking that people gather at the Rainbow Lounge at 5 p.m. today. Then there will be a protest outside the Tarrant County Courthouse in downtown Fort Worth at 7 p.m.

Rainbow Lounge is located at 615 S. Jennings. The courthouse is on Weatherford at Main St. Parking downtown in all parking garages and at all meters. There is a parking garage very near the courthouse, at Weatherford and Throckmorton.


Update: 6:49 EST
TABC has confirmed participation on last night’s raid. Several people who were at the bar have confirmed that one patron was slammed to the floor and is now in ICU at JPS.

More updates from the original source:
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Happy Pride!
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(no subject)

US pastor opens church to guns

A pastor in the US state of Kentucky told his flock to bring handguns to church in what he said was an effort to promote safe gun ownership.

Pastor Ken Pagano told parishioners to bring their unloaded guns to New Bethel Church in Louisville for a service celebrating the right to bear arms.

He said he acted after church members voiced fears the Obama administration could tighten gun control laws.

When the service began, some 200 people were present, AP news agency said.

"We are wanting to send a message that there are legal, civil, intelligent and law-abiding citizens who also own guns," Mr Pagano told the congregation.

"If it were not for a deep-seated belief in the right to bear arms, this country would not be here today," he said.

The pastor also held a handgun raffle, as well as providing information on gun safety.

"I wish more churches did this, I wish more people did this," the Louisville Courier-Journal quoted one attendee, Doreen Rogers, as saying.

"For some reason, most people think that carrying guns is sinful. It's not. I think my life is worth protecting."

About 10 members of a private local militia also attended, the Courier-Journal said.

A coalition of religious groups and campaigners held a rival gun-free event at the same time on the other side of Louisville.

"The idea of wearing guns to churches or any sacred space I think many people find deeply troubling," organiser Terry Taylor told AP.

In the US, the right to bear arms is enshrined in the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. There are thought to be more than 200 million firearms in private hands.

But some gun owners fear that the new administration in the White House could try to challenge or amend some gun ownership laws.

Critics of the laws, meanwhile, link high levels of gun crime with high levels of gun ownership.

Puppet Angel WTF by cheesygirl

Because arguing with each other is so much more important than what's happening in Iran

Dana Milbank complains because because Nico Pitney gets to ask a question at the White House press conference. He and Nico duke it out on "Reliable Sources." Howie Kurtz decides it's appropriate to ask someone from the Washington Times, the Moonie paper, to act as arbiter. Wackiness ensues.

Additional links:

Huffington Post

Nico: "The only thing that surprised me was when Dana turned to me after our initial sparring and called me a "dick" in a whispered tone (the specific phrase was, I believe, "You're such a dick").

Washington Post

Think Progress

And those links link to other links as this kerfuffle echoes around the blogosphere. It sounds to me like Milbank misinterpreted Nico's post saying he was asking for suggestions for questions. Nico was asking Iranians, not the White House, what he should say. Milbank tried to make the White House seeking a genuine Iranian voice at the presser into a Jeff Gannon moment, sans gay hookers.

And after a search for kerfuffles past: Dana sends Keith a "Dear John" letter, KO says he was going to dump Dana anyway