October 8th, 2009

soldier / bodie

American troops in Afghanistan losing heart

American soldiers serving in Afghanistan are depressed and deeply disillusioned, according to the chaplains of two US battalions that have spent nine months on the front line in the war against the Taleban.

Many feel that they are risking their lives — and that colleagues have died — for a futile mission and an Afghan population that does nothing to help them, the chaplains told The Times in their makeshift chapel on this fortress-like base in a dusty, brown valley southwest of Kabul.

“The many soldiers who come to see us have a sense of futility and anger about being here. They are really in a state of depression and despair and just want to get back to their families,” said Captain Jeff Masengale, of the 10th Mountain Division’s 2-87 Infantry Battalion.

“They feel they are risking their lives for progress that’s hard to discern,” said Captain Sam Rico, of the Division’s 4-25 Field Artillery Battalion. “They are tired, strained, confused and just want to get through.” The chaplains said that they were speaking out because the men could not.

The base is not, it has to be said, obviously downcast, and many troops do not share the chaplains’ assessment. The soldiers are, by nature and training, upbeat, driven by a strong sense of duty, and they do their jobs as best they can. Re-enlistment rates are surprisingly good for the 2-87, though poor for the 4-25. Several men approached by The Times, however, readily admitted that their morale had slumped.

“We’re lost — that’s how I feel. I’m not exactly sure why we’re here,” said Specialist Raquime Mercer, 20, whose closest friend was shot dead by a renegade Afghan policeman last Friday. “I need a clear-cut purpose if I’m going to get hurt out here or if I’m going to die.”

Sergeant Christopher Hughes, 37, from Detroit, has lost six colleagues and survived two roadside bombs. Asked if the mission was worthwhile, he replied: “If I knew exactly what the mission was, probably so, but I don’t.”

The only soldiers who thought it was going well “work in an office, not on the ground”. In his opinion “the whole country is going to s***”.

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Jon Stewart - Rave
  • mhael

Amazing story on last night's Daily Show.....

The following interview made me think of this story featured here on ONTD_P, and demonstrates PERFECTLY how important and integral libraries are to their communities and society in general. The story of this young man's drive and ingenuity is astounding.

That's right. A United States funded LIBRARY. So.... with that in mind, haters of libraries can officially step off..... a fucking bridge over a boiling sea of molten lava. If they need any help, I'm willing to push.


Harry Connick Jr. Blows Up at Blackface Michael Jackson Impersonator

Because Australia doesn’t cop enough flack for being a racist backwater, the good folk propping up the reanimated corpse of Hey Hey It's Saturday** decided last night that no nostalgia trip into the country’s murky cultural past would be complete without reviving some ol’ fashioned 20th century bigotry.

Asked to appear on the Australian variety hour show as a guest judge, Harry Connick Jr. sputters in disbelief when a Jackson 5 impersonation group entirely in blackface appears onstage. He first gives the group a 0 scorecard for the performance while the audience boos; later, at about 4:40 into the clip, Connick launches into an impassioned race-relations lecture explaining why blackface is a bad thing. "If I knew that was going to be a part of the show, I definitely wouldn't have done it," Connick declares on live TV. The host (Daryl Sommers) appears genuinely surprised.

Yes. They put on a Minstrel Show. And it seems a few people got a little offended. And by “a few people”, we do mean “pretty much the entire world”.

Naturally, the fallout started pretty early on the pulse of the people, Twitter. Ironically, Daryl Somers himself had anointed #HeyHey and #Plucka as the “official” hashtags prior to the show, which ended up providing a neat little way of collecting the world’s grievances over the stunt.

The show’s 10:30pm finish time (which was more like 10:50pm, because three hours just wasn’t enough time to contain all that fun) meant it ended just in time for those across the pond to wake up to clips of the “sketch” buzzing around the social media web. It didn’t take long for the outrage to begin — and it came thick, fast and dripping with scorn and sarcasm.

In The Guardian: Harry Connick Jr weirdly unimpressed by Australia’s blackface Jackson 5:

In Australia, of course, it is perfectly acceptable, and we thank the nation for yet another important contribution to the annals of human culture.

For The AV Club: G’Day, Blackface!

In case you were wondering what the country of Australia in 2009 has in common with fictional 1960s advertising exec Roger Sterling, well, apparently, they share an unbridled love of blackface. Really, they just can’t get enough.

Still Fresh And Funny In Australia: Blackface, scoffs The Awl:

You know what never gets old for the folks on Prison Island? Blackface! Oh, how they chuckle!

And you know you’ve really cocked-up when the world’s leading media industry gossip snarkers, Gawker, project some of their particularly acidic bile in your direction:

Wow, an American is being the voice of cultural sensitivity? Australia must be really messed up.

And the fallout continues, from the likes of New York mag, Movieline, dlisted and more.

For the 1980s anachronism Hey Hey, it was a harsh lesson in just how differently the media works in 2009: just because your target demographic is slack-jawed suburbanites and pensioners, the whole world is now watching. And once again, the whole cringe-worthy affair has hammered home just how out-dated the show really is. On the upside, the international scorn virtually guarantees this is the last time we’ll ever see Hey Hey rear its tired, shoe-polished face on our screens again.

Combined source 1 and commentary from Crikey.

**Poster Note: This was actually a "comeback/reunion special" of a show that was popular in Australia decades ago. Suffice to say, they apparently thought bringing back the antiquated humour with zero irony was also a good idea. The worst part is looking at the comment sections on Australian news websites and seeing how utterly ignorant 90% of the responders are. SERIOUSLY MY COUNTRY NEEDS TO COOL IT WITH THE SECOND HAND EMBARRASSMENT.


The performer has "apologised", saying that it's ironic that he is being called racist, because he himself is Indian. Clearly only white people can be racist:


BEST PART OF THIS APOLOGY: When asked if he would do the same skit in America, he replied "Absolutely not."
Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

No immunity for Berlusconi

Top court overturns Italian premier's immunity

ROME – Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi vowed to stay on and "go forward" Wednesday after an Italian court struck down a law granting him immunity from prosecution and allowed trials for corruption and tax fraud to resume in Milan. There were immediate calls for his resignation.

The decision by the Constitutional Court dealt Berlusconi one of the most serious blows in his 15-year-long battle with the Italian judiciary. It handed prosecutors another chance to ask for his conviction and added to a list of problems that already includes a headline-grabbing sex scandal.

The billionaire businessman-turned-politician dismissed any suggestion of resignation, and his conservative allies, who dominate parliament, quickly rallied to his support.

"Nothing will happen, we will go forward," the premier told reporters in front of his residence in Rome.

"The trials they will hurl at me in Milan are real farces," he said. "I will detract some hours from taking care of the government to go there and show them to be liars."

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Oooh, this is getting good.

Nearly 1 in 4 are Muslim. (Alternate title: JESUS SAVE US THEY'RE *EVERYWHERE*!!!)

Nearly one in four people worldwide is Muslim -- and they are not necessarily where you might think, according to an extensive new study that aims to map the global Muslim population.

India, a majority-Hindu country, has more Muslims than any country except for Indonesia and Pakistan, and more than twice as many as Egypt.

China has more Muslims than Syria.

Germany has more Muslims than Lebanon.

And Russia has more Muslims than Jordan and Libya put together.

Nearly two out of three of the world's Muslims are in Asia, stretching from Turkey to Indonesia.

The Middle East and north Africa, which together are home to about one in five of the world's Muslims, trail a very distant second.

There are about 1.57 billion Muslims in the world, according to the report, "Mapping the Global Muslim Population," by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. That represents about 23 percent of the total global population of 6.8 billion.

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GOP Forgets Women Are Also Their Constituents Too. Or That They Have Voting Rights.

Arizona Mothers Storm Kyl's Senate Office, Denounce GOP as Sexist

Dozens of local mothers descended on the office of Republican Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona Wednesday to denounce what they say are sexist attitudes held by Kyl and the Republican Party in general. The demonstration was organized by Phoenix area mothers in response to Kyl's recent quip during a Senate committee meeting that he doesn't "need maternity care."

The protest was organized by local mothers, but a few fathers and children also attended. They carried signs saying, "Maternity Care Is Not a Joke" and "Women Are Your Constituents Too."

The protest comes at the same time Democrats across the country are denouncing Republican leaders for holding what they see as outdated views of women.

Chris Christie, Republican gubernatorial candidate from New Jersey, has come under fire for a remark he made that critics say equates preschool to babysitting. In Virginia, gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell is drawing fire for his college thesis, written in 1989 when McDonnell was 34 years old, in which he seems to call working women detrimental to families.

On Tuesday, 30 Republican senators voted against an amendment put forth by Senator Al Franken (D-Minn.), that would have barred companies that discourage female employees from filing sexual harassment suits from securing government contracts. This coincided with a press release issued by the National Republican Congressional Committee saying Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi should be "put in her place."

A Democratic Party spokesperson said today, "These are not isolated incidents. This is a view and an attitude that the Republican Party has toward women," adding, "Kyl is the second highest ranking Republican in the Senate.

Representative Kyrsten Sinema, Democrat of Arizona, said at the Phoenix protest, "This is just outrageous. When Senator Kyl scoffs at the importance of maternity care, it begs the question, who does he represent?"

"Women all over Arizona are paying for health insurance policies that do not include maternity care," she said. "Senator Kyl and Republicans seem to be against everything these days, including something as basic as medical care after a woman gives birth."

Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said, "I think they have an outdated view, sometimes an extreme view, and a lack of understanding of what women's lives are like today."

The Democratic National Committee also launched Facebook ads on Wednesday drawing attention to the sexist views expressed in McDonnell's college thesis. The ads now appear wherever McDonnell's name appears on Facebook, and they link to a webpage that details what the DNC calls the "far right wing views on women and families" espoused in his thesis and votes for his dismissal as a public official.

Liberals have a hero! Wait, no, we should think he's an asshole.

Could a little-known freshman Democrat from a conservative-leaning Florida district be just what the doctor ordered for liberals wary of what they view as a timid president too ready to compromise on overhauling health care?

A little more than a week ago, few Americans had heard of Rep. Alan Grayson, who represents the Orlando area, and more than a handful of his congressional colleagues may not have been able to pick the 6-foot-4, 51-year-old out of a lineup.

But that was before the combative Bronx-born congressman and Harvard-educated lawyer took to the floor of the House of Representatives last week, shocking the few Republicans within earshot when he dramatically declared the GOP health care plan is "Don't get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly."

The after-hours tirade quickly made the rounds online and on television the next morning, energizing Republicans and Democrats alike -- many of whom from both parties appear eager to keep the rhetoric surrounding the health care debate at a fever pitch.

For Republicans, Grayson was the long-sought answer to Rep. Joe Wilson, the South Carolina Republican who yelled "You lie" to President Obama last month and faced a torrent of Democratic criticism for breaching congressional protocol and basic principles of human decency.

But many Democrats so outwardly critical of Wilson's behavior quickly rallied to Grayson's side, seemingly thrilled a Democrat finally had showed a level of brazenness that's long been more characteristic of those on the other side of aisle.

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More About The Bush Legacy, Or "How He F#@k Us All"

STUDY: Bush Administration Added To Crisis By Preempting State Anti-Predatory Lending Laws

A new report suggests that the the Bush administration's hard push to preempt state anti-predatory lending laws may have added fuel to the fire of the mortgage crisis.

Barry Ritholtz first had news of the study by the University Of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (check out his blog here) -- and he suggests the Bush administration added fuel to the mortgage crisis by stripping states of their power to reign in lenders that prey on unsuspecting borrowers. Anti-predatory lending laws, Rithholtz points out, usually limit fees and prepayment penalties and require banks to secure proof of a borrower's ability to repay loans,

No surprise, then, that states with these restrictions had far fewer defaults. That is, until the Bush administration stepped in. Here's Ritholtz:

Why did the US preempt state APL laws? There was the ideological belief that states were interfering with profits and "financial innovation:" In February 2004, the Bush White House, working through the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) officially preempted national banks from state laws regulating mortgage credit, including state anti-predatory lending laws. (This was far broader than the 1996 regulatory preemption by the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) applied to federally chartered S&Ls).

The Bush White House claimed that banks should "only be subject to federal laws regulating mortgage credit."

To be fair, the report states that in 1996, during the Clinton administration, the Office of Thrift Supervision preempted federally-chartered savings banks from state anti-predatory lending laws.

Here's more from the report:

Overall, we observed a lower default rate for neighborhoods in the APL states, in states with requirement on the verification of borrowers' repayment ability, in states with broader coverage of subprime loans with high points and fees, and in those with more restrictive regulation on prepayment penalties. We believe that these findings are remarkable, since they suggest an important and yet unexplored link between APLs and foreclosures. Moreover, given the wide range of factors influencing foreclosures, including house price declines, rising unemployment, and differences in state foreclosure processes, these descriptive statistics are likely to result in an underestimation of the positive impacts of APLs. These descriptive findings lend weight to our contention that federal preemption of more stringent state APLs may have allowed national banks and federal thrifts to increase their origination of loans with risky characteristics.

Why Must The Rightwingnuts Impeach Obama? He is a: Commie, Nazi, Mooslim, Black, Socialist, or Other

Obama Impeachment Suggested By GOP Dirty Trickster

A popular, ideologically extreme website has begun pushing the idea that President Obama should be impeached. And the person leading the charge is the notorious Republican dirty trickster responsible for the infamous (and racially explosive) Willie Horton ads that derailed the campaign of Michael Dukakis.

WorldNetDaily -- the hard-right website that has trafficked the most outlandish rumors about the Obama presidency, including pushing the "birther" conspiracy -- is now circulating an article suggesting that the president should be booted from office. The effort is being spearheaded by the longtime GOP operative Floyd Brown, who has launched his own online Impeach Obama Campaign. On Thursday, Floyd took to WND to ask: "Is it time to whisper the word 'impeachment'?"

That story, quickly picked up by the progressive media tracker Media Matters, doesn't actually point to any particular impeachable offense committed by the president -- just the crazed notion that Obama has malevolence towards the country.

"'[H]igh crimes and misdemeanors' does not refer to a criminal act," Brown writes, referring to the grounds for impeachment. "Our Founding Fathers fully intended to allow for the removal of the president for actions which include: gross incompetence, negligence and distasteful behavior.

"For those who mistakenly hold the illusion that impeaching Barack Hussein Obama would be a simple matter of 'playing politics,' the founders fully intended that the impeachment of a sitting president be a political act."

The exercise is a hilarious expression of conservative angst and paranoia that would be funnier if it not for the clout that Brown and World Net Daily have in Republican circles. A known brass-knuckle strategist, Brown has worked for several prominent GOP candidates -- most notably Ronald Reagan. In 2008, he wasn't associated with the McCain campaign, but he did put up inflammatory television ads attempting to tie Obama to gang violence in Chicago.

WorldNetDaily, meanwhile, has become a virtual townhall for Obama conspiracy theorists. But It is also a place where the Republican National Committee likes to spread its political message. The committee has rented access to the WND email list and uses it to blast out calls to action and press releases.

The association is a source of
frustration even for some conservatives. But when pressed about the partnership, the RNC has declined to distance itself from the controversial site.

OMG GUYZ!! Drinking Pepsi Will Turn You Teh Geys!!!

500,000 to boycott Pepsi over its ‘homosexual advocacy’

'God hates Diet Pepsi'

A group that advocates "traditional family values" claims it has the signatures of 500,000 people who have pledged to boycott Pepsi over what it says are the company's activities promoting gay rights.

The American Family Association, which boasts "2.5 million online supporters," "asked PepsiCo to be neutral in the culture war and not support the homosexual agenda," it said in a press release Tuesday. "PepsiCo refused. The company continues to give financial support to homosexual organizations."

The AFA launched its boycott campaign in January over PepsiCo's "continued support of same-sex marriage and homosexual advocacy." The group said it had received a "condescending letter" from Pepsi that "refused to address Pepsi's support of the homosexual agenda."

In particular, the AFA decried PepsiCo's donations to groups that funded the effort against California's Proposition 8 last year. The AFA said PepsiCo gave $500,000 to the Human Rights Campaign, which had worked to defeat Proposition 8.
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I have to admit I had been boycotting Pepsi for years... only because I think Coke tastes better... Suck-it You Pepsi-lovers! (I kid)

Rightwingnuts Forcing GOP To Eat Their Own... Could Cost Them Terribly...

GOP pick sparks revolt on right

The nominee in a looming House special election is at the heart of an angry dispute between conservatives and Republican House leadership, a rift so serious that it threatens the party’s chances of keeping control of the upstate New York seat.

At issue is the National Republican Congressional Committee’s support for Dede Scozzafava, a New York assemblywoman who conservatives assert is so liberal that they absolutely cannot support her candidacy. Instead, many conservative groups are rallying behind Doug Hoffman, a third-party candidate running on the Conservative Party line, even though their support for him might pave the way for a Democratic takeover of the seat recently vacated by GOP Rep. John McHugh.

At a private Washington luncheon attended by activists last week, frustrations spilled over, and several attendees demanded to know why NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions of Texas, who was the featured speaker, was supporting Scozzafava over the more conservative Hoffman.

After Sessions conceded that Scozzafava’s record on gay marriage and abortion fell short of where those at the lunch wanted it to be, he sought to defend her record on taxes. At that point, according to two sources who were present, the Texas congressman came under forceful pushback from several conservative leaders who insisted Scozzafava fell far short in that area as well.

“I was flabbergasted that he could come into a meeting of conservatives and be as defiant as he was,” said one person who was at the Free Congress Foundation’s Paul Weyrich lunch meeting, adding that the Texas congressman “stuck a finger in our eye.”

“It was heated,” remarked another person present at the lunch. “There were some raised voices.”

As one of three nationally watched contests taking place on Election Day, the highly competitive New York special election race is being closely monitored for clues about the design of the 2010 midterm election landscape.

But unlike the two other key contests taking place in November — the Virginia and New Jersey gubernatorial races, where Republicans have rallied behind their nominees — the New York contest has revealed deep unrest in the GOP ranks over what many view as a decision by state and national party leaders to put politics ahead of conservative principles.
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Irony: –noun, plural -nies, eye-roh-nee. See also: LMFAO

The new French culture minister, Frédéric Mitterrand, is fighting to save his brief ministerial career after opposition politicians expressed disgust at his autobiography, in which he justified sex tourism and admitted "paying for boys".

Mr Mitterrand, 62, the nephew of the late president, François Mitterrand, was thrown on to the defensive after rival MPs homed in on memoirs in which he described his delight in visiting Asian brothels.

The revelations, in his 2005 best-seller La Mauvaise Vie (The Bad Life), were unearthed by far-right politicians angered by his outspoken defence of the film director Roman Polanski, who was arrested in Switzerland for extradition to Los Angeles to face charges of having sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977.

Socialists from the party created by Mr Mitterrand's uncle also voiced outrage and suggested that his three-month tenure as Culture minister should be brought to an abrupt end.

The furore is deeply embarrassing for Nicolas Sarkozy, who claimed to have struck a blow for "political openness" when he brought Mr Mitterrand, who is openly gay, into his centre-right government in June. The choice was reportedly influenced by the President's wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, who has been trying to broaden the her husband's cultural horizons.

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Date rape-preventing lip gloss debuts. But does it come in cranberry flavor.

A lip gloss that comes with a date rape drug testing kit has been launched in the UK with plans to make it available in vending machines in bar and club toilets.

The five 2LoveMyLips gloss products contain a drug testing kit in the form of a pink taper that can detect GHB and Ketamine.

Managing director of the company 2LoveMy, Tracy Whittaker, explained that girls on a night out with suspicions about their drink can just dab the taper in, and watch to see if the colour changes to blue.

“If they turn blue tell your friends immediately and get help from security and the police,” she explained.

Sales have already proved 'positive'

Sales of the product to UK beauty salons are positive, according to Whittaker, who is planning to launch the product in USA and Asutralia.

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Statement from Salt Lake City Police re: Hate Crime/Vigilante Justice

Most recent update: http://community.livejournal.com/ontd_political/4263796.html


Press Release


South Salt Lake Police Department:  Police Department Administration: (801) 412-3606





Gary Keller, Public Information Officer, Administrative Bureau  Office: (801) 412-3635


Email: gkeller@southsaltlakecity.com




October 7, 2009


In the early morning hours of July 5, 2008, a violent altercation broke out between next-door neighbors and their guests in reaction to a suspected kidnapping of two toddlers by Mr. DJ Bell. Mr. Bell has now been acquitted of kidnapping charges.


During the altercation, Mr. Bell and Daniel Fair, Mr. Bell’s roommate, sustained injuries.


South Salt Lake Police quickly responded to multiple 911 calls and took control of the situation.


An investigation was conducted and the information was presented to the District Attorney’s Office for its decision whether to pursue both kidnapping charges against Mr. Bell and assault charges against the parents and guests.


The South Salt Lake City Attorney’s Office also reviewed the results of the police investigation and consulted with the DA’s office. The decision whether to file assault charges against the alleged assailants of DJ Bell and Daniel Fair is still pending with the DA’s office.


Because Mr. Bell has been acquitted and because possible criminal charges arising from the incident are still under consideration, the Police Department will not discuss the specific facts of the case.


Notwithstanding, the Police Department feels a responsibility to respond to public criticism of its handling of the matter.


Accounts of the incident that have been presented in the media do not accurately reflect the evidence obtained during the police investigation. Both the police response and investigation were proper. Any allegation to the contrary is based upon either a poor understanding or misrepresentation of the investigative facts.


There will be no further comment by the Police Department at this time. 



They are unbelievable.  THERE WAS NO EVIDENCE COLLECTED!!!  That is why "Accounts of the incident that have been presented in the media do not accurately reflect the evidence obtained during the police investigation."

I don't know how there were no arrests made for assault when they looked like this:

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Oh, and they called Dan his "roommate" ?!?  Really???

I really hope that DJ and Dan sue the police department. 

I will have more info coming soon...

What CIGNA Really Think of Your Dead Daughter: "F@#K You!!"

CIGNA Employee Flips Off Mother Of Dead Girl Denied Transplant

A CIGNA employee gave the finger -- literally -- to a woman whose daughter died after the insurance giant refused to cover her liver transplant.

Hilda and Krikor Sarkisyan went to CIGNA's Philadelphia headquarters, along with supporters from the California Nurses Association, to confront the CEO Edward Hanway over the death of her 17-year-old child.

In 2007, Nataline Sarkisyan was denied a liver transplant by the company, on the grounds that the operation was "too experimental" to be covered. Nine days later it changed its mind, in response to protests outside its office. It was too late: Nataline died hours later.

"CIGNA killed my daughter," Nataline's mother Hilda told security. "I want an apology." Sarkisyan was not able to speak to Hanway; a communications specialist talked to her instead. After their conversation, employees heckled the group from a balcony; one man gave them the finger. CIGNA called the police and had the family and their friends escorted from the building.

A CIGNA executive apologized for the incident in a letter about a month later.

"I was very disappointed to learn of the behavior of one of our employees when you were at our company's headquarters," wrote John M. Murabito, executive vice president for human resources.

"I sincerely regret this individual's offensive and inappropriate action," he continued. "Please know that he did not represent the views of our company or the views of other employees who work here. We deeply empathize with you and wish you peace and comfort in your loss."

Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Obama picks openly gay lawyer for ambassadorship

Obama picks openly gay lawyer for ambassadorship

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama said Wednesday he planned to nominate an openly gay lawyer as the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa. If confirmed by the Senate, David Huebner would become the third openly gay ambassador in U.S. history and the first pick by this administration. In a statement released from the White House, Obama said he looked forward to working with Huebner and is confident he will represent the United States well in the Pacific region.

Huebner is based in Shanghai, where he handles international arbitration and mediation cases for a U.S. firm. A graduate of Princeton University and Yale Law School, he is also the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation's general counsel and previously served on the group's board.

He also has chaired the California Law Revision Commission, served as president of the Los Angeles Quality and Productivity Commission and taught at the University of Southern California's Gould School of Law.

Obama's announcement is a gesture just days before he speaks to a gay rights fundraising dinner on Saturday and gay activists march on Washington on Sunday.

Obama's relationship with gay activists has been rocky since his election. Gays and lesbians objected to the invitation of evangelist Rev. Rick Warren's to participate in Obama's inauguration because of Warren's support for repealing gay marriage in California. Obama responded by having Episcopalian Bishop V. Gene Robinson, the denomination's first openly gay bishop, participate at another event.

As president, Obama hasn't taken any concrete steps urging Congress to rescind the Clinton-era "don't ask, don't tell" policy that allows gays and lesbians to serve in the military as long as they don't disclose their sexual orientation or act on it. Some former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have acknowledged the policy is flawed.

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Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Thousands mob Detroit center in hopes of free cash

Thousands mob Detroit center in hopes of free cash

DETROIT – Scuffles erupted as several thousand Detroit residents jockeyed, pushed and shoved Wednesday to get free money being offered to only 3,500 of the city's recently or soon to be homeless.

Several received medical treatment for fainting or exhaustion while frantically trying to obtain the applications for federal housing assistance. The long lines and short tempers highlighted the frustration and desperation that Detroit residents feel struggling through an economic nightmare.

The line around Cobo Center, a downtown convention center, started forming well before daybreak. Anger flared within a few hours as more people sought out a dwindling number of applications for the program.

Members of the Detroit Police Department's Gang Squad and other tactical units were called in for crowd control. Several people reportedly passed out from exhaustion and had to be treated by emergency medical personnel. Some minor injuries were reported, and no arrests were made.

"It's a sign of the times, and we can't deny we have people here who are in need," said Karen Dumas, communications director for Mayor Dave Bing. "It's scary and very disappointing. It also shows a need for redirection for our city."

One in four working-age adults in Detroit is without a job, and the city's home foreclosure rate continues to be among the nation's highest. One in four families and three out of every 10 individuals live below the poverty level, according to the U.S. Census.

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I think that headline is kind of misleading. :/

This is also a pretty sad state, that so many people are so close to losing their homes, and the number of unemployed in Detroit is just staggering. A lot of people are only just barely able to keep their heads above water. I'm glad the government is trying to do something to help, and it's sad that this just isn't enough.

On a lighter side of the news

Somali Pirates Mistake French Military Vessel for Commercial Ship

PARIS — Somali pirates in two skiffs fired on a French navy vessel early Wednesday after apparently mistaking it for a commercial boat, the French military said. The French ship gave chase and captured five suspected pirates.

No one was wounded by the volleys from the Kalashnikov rifles directed at La Somme, a 3,800-ton refueling ship, said Rear Admiral Christophe Prazuck, a military spokesman.

La Somme "was probably taken for a commercial ship by the two small skiffs" some 250 nautical miles off the coast of Somalia, said Prazuck.

"They understood their mistake too late," Prazuck said.

One skiff fled, and La Somme pursued the second one in an hour-long chase.

"There were five suspected pirates on board. No arms, no water, no food," Prazuck said.

France is a key member of the European Union's naval mission, Operation Atalanta, fighting Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden. It has aggressively tracked and caught suspected pirates and handed over at least 22 to Kenya. An additional 15 suspects were brought to France for prosecution after allegedly seizing French nationals' boats.

President Nicolas Sarkozy called for tougher action against piracy last year after dozens of attacks.


oh my god what

A French politician has refused to quit over comments that he enjoyed paying for "young boys" in Thailand.

Frederick Mitterand, the culture minister, denied that passages of his book, The Bad Life, described sexual encounters with underage boys.

Interviewed on French TV, he condemned sex tourism, paedophilia, and said he paid for sex with men his own age.

Mr Mitterrand, nephew of late President Francois Mitterand, has faced criticism from left and right in recent weeks.

His book returned to the headlines after he made an impassioned defence of film director Roman Polanski, who was recently arrested in Switzerland on child sex charges.

Condemnation Mr Mitterand appeared on a French TV news programme on Thursday evening visibly angry and far from apologetic.

He insisted he retained the confidence of current President Nicolas Sarkozy and said he had not offered to resign over the controversy.

"I absolutely condemn sexual tourism [and] I condemn paedophilia in which I have never in any way participated, and all the people who accuse me of that type of thing should be ashamed," Mr Mitterand said.

His comments were little-noticed when the book was written four years ago, before Mr Mitterand joined the government. Instead of generating controversy Mr Mitterand's work received few comments other than literary praise.

When he was appointed to the French government in June 2009 Mr Sarkozy described his new minister as "talented and courageous".


Snowblog: "Is Berlusconi thwarting free press?"

Is Berlusconi thwarting free press?
By Jon Snow.

At the conference I attended in Rome last month I encountered a remarkable political correspondent. In the margins of the meeting she unfolded the true scale of what independent journalism suffers in Italy. The decisions of the constitutional court in Italy that Berlusconi’s self-serving law grants him immunity from prosecution, is unconstitutional, throws into sharp relief the reality that in the very heart of the cradle of European democracy – Rome – lurks a true enemy of press freedom and worse.

My friend works for an old and extremely established medium which under edict from Berlusconi himself prohibits any political correspondent covering either his doings, pronouncements or his announcements unless they are individually approved by Berlusconi himself. Effectively the only journalists who report Berlusconi in more than 50 per of the television and print outlets in Italy that he owns, are fully paid-up members of his political coterie.

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Links are as they were in the delicious snowblog source. The British spin on this (mentioning Tony Blair) is because it's a UK source (Channel 4 News & Jon Snow +++++++).
  • Current Music
    The Crystal Maze
Pushing Daisies (Anna Friel) Silly

O'Reilly and Rep. Michele Bachmann talk about ACORN and left-wing haters on the Factor

More whining about Al Franken and ACORN.
O'Reilly and Bachmann talk about Rep. Bachmann causing the far-left angst and if NBC News' attacks against her are bothersome.
O'Reilly thinks Bachmann's nice, so why does she bother the left. Bachmann says it's because conservative women are happy and don't need the government to be successful.
O'Reilly hypothesizes that the left hate Bachmann and Palin because they're relatively young, HOT, successful moms that regular women can relate to.


Michele Bachmann at It Again With "Sex Clinics"... Why is She So Obsessed with Sex Clincs?

Bachmann Repeats Sex Clinics In Schools Warning

For the second time in as many weeks, Rep. Michele Bachmann, (R-Minn.) insisted on Thursday that Democratic-conceived health care legislation would set up "school-based health clinics" encouraging promiscuous sexual behavior and dangerous medical procedures among the nation's youth.

Speaking on the House floor, the Minnesota Republican read a letter from a local constituent named Jamie, who at the age of 14 found herself popping morning-after pills, abusing birth control, lying to her parents about it all and skipping class to go back to the clinic. It's a generally horrid tale that would seem relevant if, in fact, it had anything to do with the current health care reform debate.

As Bachmann sees it, the legislation being considered by Democrats in Congress would allow the government to grant abortions on demand and bring groups like Planned Parenthood into education facilities. The section she refers to in the legislation, however, makes no mention of abortion at all.

And yet, despite being roundly scoffed at for her first go around, the conservative congresswoman was back on the floor Thursday, using the letter from Jamie to demonize a provision that didn't exist.

"Madame Speaker," she said, "this is a story of tragedy by one girl in Minnesota. Minnesota has experience with the school-based sex clinics that are being proposed in the bill that would have government takeover health care in this country. Surely we can do better by our children then encourage them to gain experience in a lifestyle that will bring them only heartache and perhaps physical devastation."


GOP Wymin To Return Back To Teh Kitchen... and Waive Away Their Voting Rights

Female GOPers Silent On Controversial NRCC Pelosi Remark

In the two days since the National Republican Congressional Committee said that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) should be "put in her place" for her comments on Afghanistan, not a single Republican female lawmaker has weighed in on the matter.

The Huffington Post on Wednesday contacted fifteen female lawmakers (fourteen from the House or Representatives) as well as two Republican women's issues groups to see if they were concerned by the sexist undertone of the statement. Not a single office offered to provide a statement. Several said they would not comment on the matter. Others promised to get back to us and didn't. So, on Thursday, we tried again, making follow-up calls to those very same offices. Again, there was silence.

"We don't comment on stuff like this," emailed Alex Cruz a spokesman for Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). "Thank you."

Likewise, an aide to Rep. Mary Bono Mack's (R-CA) said: "there has not been a comment issued. And if there were one it wouldn't come from her official office... it would come from the campaign office." The campaign office never sent word.

A spokesperson for Rep. Sue Myrick's (R-N.C.) office thanked the Huffington Post for its call. "Rep. Myrick has no comment on the release the NRCC sent out re: Speaker Pelosi," wrote Taylor Stanford in an email.

An aide to Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-Ohio) said, "No, no comment."

Approached in the House of Representatives by a Huffington Post reporter, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) declined a chance to weigh in on the remarks.
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Kids are awesome. News at 11

US-based toy retailer Toys"R"Us has been reprimanded for gender discrimination following a complaint filed by a group of Swedish sixth graders about the store’s 2008 Christmas catalogue.

Last winter, a sixth grade class at Gustavslund school in Växjö in south central Sweden reported Toys"R"Us to the Reklamombudsmannen (Ro), a self-regulatory agency which polices marketing and advertising communications in Sweden to ensure they are in line with guidelines set out by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

According to the youngsters, the Toys"R"Us Christmas catalogue featured “outdated gender roles because boys and girls were shown playing with different types of toys, whereby the boys were portrayed as active and the girls as passive”, according to a statement from Ro.

The group’s teacher explained to the local Smålandsposten newspaper that filing the complaint was the culmination of more than two years of “long-term work” by the students on gender roles.

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Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

(no subject)

Israeli foreign minister: No chance for peace deal

JERUSALEM – Israel's powerful foreign minister declared Thursday that there is no chance of reaching a final accord with the Palestinians any time soon, casting a pall over the U.S. Mideast envoy's latest effort to get peace talks moving again.

Peacemaking policy in Israel is decided by the prime minister's office, and not the foreign ministry. But Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman carries significant weight in Israeli decision-making, and his is a sentiment common among confidants of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

President Barack Obama brought Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas together in New York last month in an effort to jumpstart talks that broke down months ago. So far, no breakthroughs have been announced.

Since the New York summit, U.S. envoy George Mitchell met with representatives of Netanyahu and Abbas in the United States, and returned to the region this week. He was to meet with Lieberman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday and has sitdowns planned with Netanyahu and Abbas for Friday.

Israeli media reported that a Mitchell aide told Israeli journalists Wednesday that the enovy's visit was not likely to conclude with an announcement on talks resuming.

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It seems like there's never really going to be any kind of peace--neither side wants to compromise in any way. Especially Israel.

Georgia Republican Cites "Ghetto Grandmothers" to Promote Proof-of-Citizenship Legislation

--Zaid Jilani, Think Progress at 4:00 PM on October 5, 2009.

One of the most frequent targets in the Georgia GOP gubenatorial primary has been undocumented immigrants. Candidates have repeatedly harped on the threat of undocumented immigrants voting in Georgia's elections, and have even used dirty tactics to unfairly disenfranchise legal voters -- the overwhelmingly majority of whom were racial minorities, according to the Department of Justice -- in the name of stopping the undocumented from voting. This scare-mongering climbed to new, dangerously racially-tinged heights this past Saturday when gubenatorial candidate Rep. Nathan Deal (R-GA) cited complaints about "ghetto grandmothers" as the reasoning behind proof-of-citizenship legislation he is supporting:

DEAL: We got all the complaints of the ghetto grandmothers who didn't have birth certificates and all that. We wrote some very liberal language as to how you can verify it. My mother was born in 1906 and she didn't have a birth certificate. They didn't give birth certificates back then. But we got her one, because you can do it under the proper procedures of your state.

Watch it:

This morning, Deal released a statement in response to the uproar his comment has created: "I regret my choice of words and in no way meant to offend anyone."


The Onion: Obama Assures Us He Will Kill Seniors The Way They Want To Die.

Obama: Health Care Plan Would Give Seniors Right To Choose How They Are Killed

President Barack Obama held a nationally televised address Tuesday to "clarify any misunderstandings" about his health care proposal, assuring Americans that under the new bill senior citizens—and not the federal government—will have the right to choose how they are executed.

"Let me dispel these ridiculous rumors once and for all and set the record straight: Under my plan, seniors are going to be killed the way they want to be killed, end of story," said the president, who acknowledged that "wiping out" the nation's elderly population has always been his No. 1 priority. "If your grandmother would rather be euthanized in the privacy of her own home than be gutted and hanged on a high school soccer field, she is entitled to that right."

"Once again, let me be perfectly clear," Obama continued. "Seniors, rest easy knowing that I will never, under any circumstance, sign a bill that doesn't give you the option of being murdered by my administration in a manner of your choosing. I promise you that."

During his 45-minute address, the president repeatedly stressed his deep and abiding respect for the nation's 65-and-over citizens, saying that murdering them in ways they wouldn't want to be murdered would be both un-American and "flat-out wrong."

Obama also accused his opponents of using scare tactics to score political points, manipulating seniors' fears with misinformation about their upcoming state-mandated deaths.
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Ben's Chili Bowl Founder Dead at 82

WASHINGTON -- The District of Columbia got some really sad news Thursday morning, as news spread about the passing of the founder of a local institution.
Ben Ali of Ben's Chili Bowl fame died peacefully at about 9 p.m. Wednesday at age 82, a family member told the Washington City Paper.

Ali had been fighting off-and-on health issues. He had recently returned from a cruise with his wife, Virginia, City Paper reported.

The couple was approaching their 51st anniversary.
Alongside a picture of Ali and beneath the caption "June 13, 1927-October 7, 2009," the Ben's Chili Bowl website reads:

"The Ali Family and all of th Ben's Chili Bowl and Ben's Next Door Family want to thank Ben Ali for leading this legacy and allowing us to follow in his dream. We miss you and love you."

D.C. Council Chairman Vincent Gray said the District "has lost a well-respected and iconic figure in the shaping of the historic U Street corridor."

"Through the riots of the 60’s, and neighborhood transformation, Mr. Ali, his wife and sons have kept Ben’s Chili Bowl a thriving business and community meeting place," Gray said. "So much so, that it caught the attention of even President Barack Obama and the nation during his inauguration. Many D.C. residents have enjoyed a chili dog at the U Street establishment and been greeted by the warm reception of the people behind the counter, which emanated from Ben Ali’s spirit and the way he and his family ran the business. In fact, I am a regular patron. Mr. Ali truly will be missed by those of us who appreciated the mark he and Ben’s Chili Bowl have left on the U Street corridor and across the District of Columbia."

"Ben Ali not only established what has become an institution in our town, Ben Ali and his family themselves have become an institution," Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton said in a statement released Thursday. "Ben’s Chili Bowl not only renders a service to the public, but the family is also well-known for its wonderful service to the District of Columbia."

Ben's has been a U Street fixture since the Alis started the restaurant as newlyweds in 1958. Starting with $5,000, they renovated the building at 1213 U St. NW, which was built in 1910 and served as a movie house and pool hall before the Alis began serving their chili on Aug. 22, 1958.

The restaurant's a destination for tourists and residents alike -- as much for its history and celebrity customers as for its delicious chili-smothered half-smokes, dogs, burgers and fries.

Known as Black Broadway, the U Street corridor teamed with legendary African-American entertainers in the '50s and '60s. Ben's website lists the likes of Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Bessie Smith, Ella Fitzgerald, Cab Calloway, Nat King Cole, Redd Foxx, Dick Gregory and Bill Cosby as regulars over the years, and their pictures -- along with the pictures of many more celebrities and professional athletes who visited the establishment -- cover the walls.

When the assassination of another famous patron -- Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. -- sparked riots in 1968, Ben's stayed open while much of the city shut down.

The Bowl survived U Street's tough times in the '70s. Though business improved in the '80s, Metro drove it away with the construction of the Green Line across the street, but the Alis stayed open with a reduced staff. The restaurant has thrived over the past decade with the revival of the neighborhood.

When Ben and Virginia Ali retired, they left the business in their sons' capable hands. The ever-present line out the door keeps getting longer.

Since Nationals Park opened in 2008, Ben's has been serving baseball fans from several stands at the stadium, including the club level Ben's Chili Nacho Bar. And the day after Christmas, Ben's Next Door opened at 1211 U St. NW, offering more formal dining, a full bar and nine flatscreen TVs.

Another celebrity created a new Ben's buzz in the winter. President Barack Obama joined Mayor Adrian Fenty there for lunch. Then during inauguration week, the line stretched for blocks as Obama fans followed in his footsteps.

No doubt many a loyal customer will pack the restaurant in the coming days and weeks to celebrate Ben Ali's life and work and hoist a half-smoke in his honor.


feel my feminist rage, now with fixed cuts

 Dear Mom, Beck has history of sexist comments

October 06, 2009 5:52 pm ET 

Recently, Glenn Beck has claimed that his audience has seen an increase in its proportion of women and has promoted the website AsAMom.org -- a "Network of principled mothers, grandmothers, daughters, & guardians of our nation's children dedicated to" the 9 Principles & 12 Values Beck established -- and hosted its members on his Fox News show. However, Beck has a history of outrageous sexist comments including calling then-Sen. Hillary Clinton a "stereotypical bitch," telling a CNN Headline News colleague that she was "looking hot in leather" on the air, and reportedly once calling a rival radio host's wife and ridiculing her on the air for having a miscarriage

Beck claims large female audience and promotes "9/12 Moms"

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But Beck has history of outrageously sexist comments

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Gov. Schwarzenegger gets hostile reception at Dem fundraiser


California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger received a hostile reception after showing up announced at a democratic Party fundraiser at San Francisco's Fairmont Hotel last night, including shouts of "you lie" and "kiss my gay ass," reportedly made by State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano.

Ammiano later said: "This isn't a chamber where someone suffers through. This is our house -- and it's like someone came in and took a big dump. He showed up; it was rude, he got up there and it felt to us that he was trivializing all the issues we care about. You have a few options, and along with the labor people, we walked out."



&#39; jules
  • schmiss

We're here, we're queer, whatever

Barney Frank on the National Equality March: Everybody Stay Home, Obama Doesn't Need the Pressure

Barney Frank was a guest on Michelangelo Signorile's radio show yesterday and spoke about the hate crimes bill (which is still attached to a DoD appropriations bill despite a challenge this week) which should get a vote next week and be along to Obama's desk for signature, ENDA, the DOMA repeal, and the National Equality March.

Of the March, Frank said: "I literally don't understand how this will do anything. People are kidding themselves. I don't want people patting themselves on the back for doing something that is useless. Barack Obama does not need pressure."

According to Signorile, "He says we should model ourselves as lobbyists on 'the National Rifle Association.' He says people should not come to Washington and should stay home and lobby their members of Congress. 'Nobody in Congress even knows they're there, he says, and he is not attending the March: He is going to California to raise money for himself and other Democrats.'"

We won't be taking his advice, and we'll see some of you in D.C.

On that note, Emma Ruby-Sachs in the Huffington Post has written a speech for Obama to give at the HRC dinner, and Jose Antonio Vargas has a wish list in the Huff Post as well.

Also, Freedom to Marry's Evan Wolfson offers his $.02.

Listen to Signorile's interview with Barney Frank here.


What do you think? I don't have an opinion, I only found this cause I was looking for information about Levi Johnston's Playgirl shoot.

ps- just in case it still needs to be said... don't read the comments.

In the GOP equal rights are only for white straight males, apparently.

AP WASHINGTON — Assaulting people because of their sexual orientation would become a federal hate crime in legislation the House is set to vote on Thursday. The bill would significantly expand the hate crimes law enacted in the days after Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination in 1968.

With the expected House passage and eventual approval by the Senate, federal prosecutors will for the first time be able to intervene in cases of violence perpetrated against gays based on their sexual orientation.

Many Republicans, normally stalwart supporters of defense bills, declared they would vote against it because of the addition of what they referred to as "thought crimes" legislation.

"The very idea that we would erode the freedoms for which our soldiers wear the uniform in a bill that is designed to provide resources those soldiers need to get the job done and come home safe is unconscionable," said Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana, a member of the Republican leadership.

Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said the inclusion of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in the defense bill was "an abuse of power" by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who was pursuing her social agenda "on the backs" of the troops.

House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) also declared his opposition.

GOP opponents were not assuaged by late changes in the bill to strengthen protections for religious speech and association – critics argued that pastors expressing beliefs about homosexuality could be prosecuted if their sermons were connected to later acts of violence against gays.

Supporters countered that prosecutions could occur only when bodily injury is involved, and no minister or protestor could be targeted for expressing opposition to homosexuality.
Story continues below

Civil rights groups and their Democratic allies have been trying for decades to broaden the reach of hate crimes law. This time it appears they will succeed. The measure is attached to a must-pass $680 billion defense policy bill and President Barack Obama – unlike President George W. Bush – is a strong supporter.

"It's a very exciting day for us here in the Capitol," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., saying hate crimes legislation was on her agenda when she first entered Congress 22 years ago.

She said it's been 11 years since the gay Wyoming college student Matthew Shepard, whose name is attached to the legislation, was murdered.

The late Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., was a longtime advocate of the legislation.
The bill also creates a new federal crime to penalize attacks against U.S. service members on account of their service.

Hate crimes legislation enacted after King's assassination defined hate crimes as those carried out on the basis of race, color, religion or national origin. It also limits the scope of activities that would trigger federal involvement.

The proposed expansion would include crimes based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability. It eases restrictions on federally protected activities.

Some 45 states have hate crimes statutes, and the bill would not change the current situation where investigations and prosecutions are carried out by state and local officials.

But it would provide federal grants to help with the prosecuting of hate crimes and funds programs to combat hate crimes committed by juveniles.

The federal government can step in after the Justice Department certifies that a state is unwilling or unable to follow through on a purported hate crime.

While Republicans said they would vote against the defense bill because of the hate crimes addition, openly gay Democrat Jared Polis of Colorado said he would vote for it despite his opposition to U.S. military presence in Iraq. The reason hate crimes are so odious, he said, "is that they are not just crimes against individuals, they are crimes against entire communities and create environments of fear in entire communities."

Tom McClusky, vice president of the conservative Family Research Council's legislative arm said the next step likely would be contesting the legislation in court. "The religious protections are pretty flimsy," he said. He contended that Democrats were trying to move their "homosexual agenda" this year because it would prove unpopular with voters next year.

The FBI says there are some 8,000 hate crimes reported around the country in a year. More than half of those are motivated by racial bias. Next most frequent are crimes based on religious bias at around 18 percent and sexual orientation at 16 percent.


The defense bill is H.R. 2647.


I will never understand the existence of gay republicans.