February 1st, 2010

Separation of church and state? Why, what a quaint idea!

Mayor of Lancaster, California announces his city to be "growing a Christian community"


Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris drew criticism from a leading Muslim group today after saying in his annual State of the City address that the high desert town was “growing a Christian community.”

"We're growing a Christian community, and don't let anybody shy away from that,” Parris told the audience of ministers gathered for his address.

“I need [Lancaster residents] standing up and saying we're a Christian community, and we're proud of that," the mayor said.

The Greater Los Angeles area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations denounced the statement and said it plans to file a complaint about the mayor's remarks with the civil rights division of the U.S. Justice Department.

“Elected officials should not use their public positions to impose their religious beliefs on others," said Hussam Ayloush, executive director of the Los Angeles chapter of CAIR.

The mayor, reached by telephone today, said his remarks did not intend to impose his faith on others, and he said he would make no apology. 

“This is just about very few people wanting to get their 15 minutes of fame,” he said. “I guess they got it.” "

Remind me to stay away from Lancaster. Far, far away. Not that I ever wanted to go there in the first place, but I certainly don't want to go now....

ETA: "growing a Christian community" is often dominionist codespeak for "we want our community to be Christians only." I wish to apologize for making it look like the mayor was literally saying what he likely is figuratively saying :)

Obama budget targets women amid complaints

WASHINGTON — With women's advocacy groups voicing growing unease with administration policy, President Barack Obama will propose a $3.8 trillion budget on Monday that would exempt programs for women and girls from spending restrictions he's proposed for other programs.

Obama aides denied that political calculation was behind the emphasis on programs for women and girls, detailed in a budget document obtained by McClatchy entitled "Opportunity and Progress for Women and Girls."

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Christian Bale

Atheist Group Opposes Postage Stamp Honoring Mother Teresa

President Reagan presents Mother Teresa with the Medal of Freedom at a White House Ceremony, 1985

A group of atheist and agnostic “freethinkers” opposed to religion has criticized the United States Postal Service for honoring Mother Teresa with a stamp that it says goes against postal regulations.

Last month, in announcing the Mother Teresa commemorative stamp, the USPS praised the internationally famed Catholic nun for her 50 years of service to “the sick and destitute of India and the world,” as well as her “humility and compassion” and “respect for the innate worth and dignity of humankind.”

According to the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF), however, the decision to recognize Mother Teresa with a stamp violates USPS policy.

Specifically, FFRF pointed out, the decision violates the postal service’s ninth regulation, which states “stamps or stationery items shall not be issued to honor religious institutions or individuals whose principal achievements are associated with religious undertakings or beliefs.”

“Mother Teresa is principally known as a religious figure who ran a religious institution,” commented FFRF spokeswoman Annie Laurie Gaylor.

“You can’t really separate her being a nun and being a Roman Catholic from everything she did,” she added.

Notably, however, the atheist group has no objections to existing images of Martin Luther King, a Protestant clergyman, and Malcolm X, a Muslim minister.

The two men, FFRF explained, were better known for their civil rights work than their religious beliefs.

The Mother Teresa commemorative stamp is expected to be issued on Aug.26, 2010 – the 100th anniversary of Mother Teresa’s birth.

Magneto puppet
  • drbat

Lesbian Mom Pleads for Daughter's Return

On the steps of the courthouse in Rutland, Vt., Janet Jenkins pleaded for help in finding her daughter, Isabella.

"Please help me find my daughter," Jenkins told reporters. "She's only 7 years old. She needs to be safe, and she needs to be in a stable, constant environment. ... Isabella has been missing for 22 days. Every day I wonder where she is and if she's OK. Every time the phone rings, I hope it is someone calling to tell me they found her."

Isabella wasn't abducted by a stranger. The girl with the blond hair and the big grin went missing along with her custodial parent at the end of last year. But this is not the typical mother-father divorce dispute: This is mother versus mother.

Watch the full story tonight on "Nightline" at 11:35 p.m. ET

"My goal has never been to separate Isabella from her other mother, Lisa," said Jenkins. "I just want what is best for our child, and that is to know both of her parents."

Isabella's parents are Jenkins, 45, and Lisa Miller, 41, who traveled from Virginia to Vermont to be joined when civil unions became legal there. They moved to Vermont in 2002 and opened an in-home day care center.

"We fell in love and wanted to have a family together, just like any other couple," said Jenkins.

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New Orleans politics retains its unique flavor

I've been having a hard time keeping up with LJ and the internets generally, but I couldn't find this posted.

The idea that you would elect a coroner seems a bit odd to begin with, but leave it to Louisiana to move the crazy up a notch.

The source assures us this is a real ad, running on local TV.

ETA: For once I can encourage people to read the comments at the source for some interesting backstory on the issue.

At one time in my life I had to review death certificates, and I learned that in many rural communities the local coroner is also the guy who owns the local tow truck. Saves time processing all those corpses after car accidents.

Missouri bill would require drug testing for welfare recipients

Welfare recipients in Missouri would have to undergo drug testing under legislation expected to hit the state House floor this week.

Supporters of the proposal say the state shouldn't subsidize drug use. But critics say the law targets the poor and that the state's drug treatment programs already have lengthy waiting lists, leaving few options for people who want to get clean.

Applicants for the state's welfare program who tested positive for drug use would be ineligible to receive benefits for some time under the proposal, at most three years.
However, other family members would still be eligible for assistance through a third-party provider.

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Sit-in vet: 'Never request permission to start a revolution'

As the elderly white woman approached the four black students at the Woolworth's whites-only lunch counter, Franklin McCain braced for the worst.

"I was thinking to myself, she must have knitting needles and scissors in that handbag of hers and they're about to go right through me," McCain recalled. "I mean, we were invading her space, a space we were told we could not inhabit."

Fifty years ago Monday, McCain and three other freshmen at North Carolina A&T University took a stand by sitting at the lunch counter in the national chain's Greensboro, North Carolina, store.

The store had no qualms selling toothpaste or light bulbs to blacks, but a cup of coffee at the lunch counter? Out of the question. The Greensboro Four, as they came to be known, were fed up.

Instead of pulling a knitting needle on the young men, the woman placed her hand on McCain's shoulder and smiled warmly.

"She says, 'Boys, I am so proud of you. I only regret that you didn't do this 10 years ago,' " McCain said.

"That was the greatest source of inspiration to me, probably for all my life, primarily because it came from a very unexpected person," he said. "You picture 1960 in the South in a little old white lady's space and you are acting out of place, and she compliments you."

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Prop8 Q & A then some song and Dance.

ETA The last video inside is a musical about PROP 8 trial being censored and it's Awesome! It's produced by the same guys who did 3rd Rock from the Sun. btw.

Prop 8 trial: post testimony press conference.

Boutrous in particular discusses how the Supreme Court again and again has ruled that marriage is a fundamental right, letting even murderers behind bars to get married and people who are complete strangers.

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This post brought to you by the honorable gay gentleman Bertie Wooster and his Man for life Reginald Jeeves.

Aubrey Beardsley

Post protesting-the-protest post.

This is not "news" in the strictest sense of the word. However, I left a comment on the post about the WBC counterprotesters the other day saying that the WBC was coming to picket the Jewish Community Center in Dallas and that my roommate and some of our friends were going to have an absurd counterprotest of our own... and people made me promise to post pictures, and I can't just go and let them down now can I? So mods, I hope you will approve this one for the lulz.

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asoneill - Yahoo Me

Study Finds Abstinence-Only Education Can Work

Study finds focus on abstinence in sex-ed classes can delay sexual activity

By Rob Stein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 1, 2010; 4:19 PM

Sex education classes that focus on encouraging children to remain abstinent can convince a significant proportion to delay sexual activity, researchers reported Monday in a landmark study that could have major implications for the nation's embattled efforts to protect young people against unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

In the first carefully designed study to evaluate the controversial approach to sex ed, researchers found that only about a third of 6th and 7th graders who went through sessions focused on abstinence started having sex in the next two years. In contrast, nearly half of students who got other classes, including those that included information about contraception, became sexually active.

"I think we've written off abstinence-only education without looking closely at the nature of the evidence," said John B. Jemmott III, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who led the federally funded study. "Our study shows this could be one approach that could be used."

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' jules
  • schmiss


Palin endorses Rand Paul

Rand Paul's Senate campaign announced Monday that it has been endorsed by Sarah Palin.

The former Alaska governor is endorsing against the GOP establishment favorite in the race, Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson.

“Governor Palin is providing tremendous leadership as the Tea Party movement and constitutional conservatives strive to take our country back,” Paul said in a statement. "Sarah Palin is a giant in American politics. I am proud to receive her support."

Paul's campaign also found out Monday that it outraised Grayson in the fourth quarter, $650,000 to $446,000. Grayson still has more cash on hand, with $1.4 million in the bank, but his fundraising performance is a continuing cause for concern among Republican leaders.


Palin's statement: "I'm proud to support great grassroots candidates like Dr. Paul. While there are issues we disagree on, he and I are both in agreement that it's time to shake up the status quo in Washington and stand up for common sense ideas."

hmmm.... Rand Paul is exactly like his dad on the issues (despite what Palin's fans are now trying to convince themselves) and won't even state his views on the 9/11 Truth movement. Oh and he recently had to fire a spokesman for having racist images and text all over his myspace. But this is great because the Democrats actually have a top-tier candidate (Attorney General Jack Conway, who can totally out-generically handsome Scott Brown anyday). Also the Lt Gov is running on the Dem side but he kind of sucks so whatever. Anyway if Palin helps Rand Paul win the primary then the Democrats have a good shot at picking up this seat! yay~

Good to Know Even Trashy Gossip Sites Can Spot Racism

Bringing this over from the mothership!

What does "Young Hollywood" look like? According to Vanity Fair, it's pretty, thin, female and white. Amanda Seyfried, Anna Kendrick, Kristen Stewart, Carey Mulligan, Abbie Cornish, Rebecca Hall, Emma Stone, Mia Wasikowska, Evan Rachel Wood: There's not a single woman of color on the cover of Vanity Fair's "Young Hollywood" issue. Two of the ladies — Kristen Stewart and Amanda Seyfried — were already on the August 2008 "Hollywood's New Wave." issue. There were two women of color — Zoe Saldana, America Ferrara — on the cover of 2008's "Hollywood Issue," but apparently the next decade is not about diversity.
VF's "Young Hollywood" is much like the golden age of Hollywood: There was a fetishization of the lithe, gorgeous, virginal ingenue, whose virtues and ambitions were pure, and therefore desirable. You either wanted to be her or sleep with her. She was the photographed wearing white, and her "All-American" good looks meant that she was a WASP or a fresh-faced farmgirl. Certainly not black, definitely not fat, and never both. Looking at the March 2010 issue, has anything changed? Even Evgenia Peretz's descriptions of the actresses — "Ivory-soap-girl features," "patrician looks" "dewy, wide-eyed loveliness" — reinforce the idea that a successful actress is a pretty, aristocratic-looking (read: white) actress.
It's hard to say if fault lies with the editors of the magazine, or with Hollywood itself — trying to come up with some projects employing new, young Asian, black or Latin actors and actresses is a tough exercise. The few names which come to mind — Jaden Smith (The Pursuit Of Happiness, The Kung-Fu Kid), Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire, Julian Schnabel's Miral, Woody Allen's next film), Gianna Jun (Blood: The Last Vampire, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan) — are up-and-comers with just a few roles under their belts. The Hurt Locker's Anthony Mackie recently did a Q&A with VF.
Gabourey Sidibe — cover girl for the March issue of Ebony — is an obvious choice, though she admits in the accompanying interview:
"I don't try to live up to the standards of Hollywood or any of that – I know that I'm different and I celebrate it. In a weird way, I kind of really, really love being the alien in the room. I dig it."
And it's good that Gabby doesn't care about living up to Hollywood standards. Because judging from the VF cover, the "Hollywood" standards need to change.


What do you get when you cross corrupt unions and spineless politicians?

The New York City teacher's union.
A Queens teacher who collects a $100,000 salary for doing nothing spends time in a Department of Education "rubber room" working on his law practice and managing 12 real-estate properties worth an estimated $7.8 million...

Alan Rosenfeld hasn't set foot in a classroom for nearly a decade since he was accused in 2001 of making lewd comments to junior-high girls and "staring at their butts," yet the department still pays him handsomely for sitting on his own butt seven hours a day...

A hearing officer gave him a slap on the wrist -- a week off without pay -- for "conduct unbecoming a teacher." He was cleared to return to teaching. Instead, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein has kept the scruffy 64-year-old in a Brooklyn rubber room, deeming him too dangerous to be near kids, officials said.

The DOE can't fire him. "We have to abide by the union contract," spokeswoman Ann Forte said.

So Rosenfeld simply collects his $100,049 salary -- top scale for teachers -- plus full health benefits and the promise of a fat pension, about $82,000 a year if he were to retire today.

His pension will grow by $1,700 each year he remains. He could have retired at age 62, but he stays.

He has also accumulated about 435 unused sick days -- and will get paid for half of them when he retires. With city teachers trying to negotiate a 4 percent pay hike, Rosenfeld stands to get the raise.

All this largesse comes as Mayor Bloomberg threatens to cut 2,500 teachers to help close a $4 billion budget gap.

Dang, time to apply for a job as a NYC teacher!

Looks like New York City is also in dire need of leaders who can prioritize and budget properly...and who have spines.

ETA: New York Post article.

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Futurama--Angry Dome


Thursday, January 28, 2010
EDITORIAL: Kill Big Bird


Congress can save a quick $420 million a year by zeroing out the budget for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. It's a needless drain on the public coffers that has outlived its usefulness.

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Fuck you, you pieces of shit. Also, citing public RADIO data to make a case against public TELEVISION? WAY TO GO, MORONS!!
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Beauty Pageant Inspires India's Transgender Community

As Sonia swayed to a popular Bollywood song, striking model-like poses, a small crowd of activists and journalists cheered her on.
She was the first of about 20 contestants at auditions held in the Indian city of Mumbai (Bombay) for the "Super Queen" - India's first transgender beauty contest. Auditions to become India's first "Super Queen" are going to be held in cities across India over the next few weeks. The semi-finals will be held in Mumbai and the finals will be hosted in Delhi on 21 February.

Nishi Nishi Sheikh, a crowd favorite.