June 28th, 2010


NH woman on oxygen dies after power cut to home

CONCORD, N.H. -- A woman who needed powered oxygen equipment to breathe died after she did not pay the power bill and a utility shut off her electricity, police said Friday. State officials were investigating whether any regulations were broken.

Kay Phaneuf, 53, died Thursday at Caritas Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, Mass. She had been in critical condition since her husband found her unconscious Monday about an hour after power was cut to their home in Salem.

"She can't survive without it," Salem Police Capt. Shawn Patten said of the oxygen equipment. "They cut the power to the house, the power to whatever machine she had went out, and that was it."

There was a backup battery on the machine, but it had not been activated, he said. Such devices often have alarms indicating when power is cut, but it wasn't clear whether Phaneuf's had one.

The electricity bill hadn't been paid, Patten said, but state regulations require written notice to be given two weeks before a shutoff.

The utility, National Grid, declined to say Friday why the power was shut off, citing privacy and confidentiality reasons. But it said it was possible Phaneuf and her husband hadn't kept the company apprised of her needs.

"It's my understanding that we followed the proper procedures that would include notifying customers that their service was going to be shut off," said National Grid spokesman David Graves.

A meter worker arrived at the house at about 9 a.m. Monday to shut off the power, Graves said. He knocked on the door and rang the doorbell but got no response and turned off the power.

National Grid got a call about an hour later from Salem police asking that a supervisor get to the house, Graves said. The supervisor arrived at 10:30 a.m. and was told by police that a resident had been taken to a hospital.

Police were not pursing criminal charges, but the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission was investigating. Gov. John Lynch asked the agency to conduct a broad review of utility companies' procedures on power shutoffs.

Customers who require electricity for medical equipment can prevent National Grid from shutting off service by sending a letter from their doctor. Under state regulations, customers need to renew such information every 60 days; Graves said National Grid gives customers 90 days to renew.

Phaneuf's account has had such a medical notice in the past, but it was possible it had lapsed, Graves said. Graves said he didn't know whether the power had been shut off there before.

Lynch said Friday that the Utilities Commission should assess the "adequacy of policies and safeguards related to power shutoffs" and whether utilities are following them. He asked for a report by July 30.

Utilities in every state keep "medical priority lists" designed to track who depends on power for life, but an Associated Press survey last year found huge state-to-state variations, suggesting only a fraction of patients know they're available.

In December 2008, when New Hampshire suffered one of its worst power failures in history during an ice storm, a disabled man who died without power to run his oxygen equipment had not told the fire or police departments to keep a watch over him during outages.
NH woman on oxygen dies after power cut to home

Paris Metro's cheaters say solidarity is the ticket

Reporting from Paris - Once more to the barricades! And over them too.

The fare dodgers who jump the turnstiles or sneak in through exit barriers on the Paris Metro are practically as much a fixture of the city as the subway itself.

Those who get caught without a proper ticket, though, face fines of up to $60. So what's a poor freeloader to do?

The answer, here in the land that gave the world the motto "All for one, one for all," is as typically French as it is ingenious: They've banded together to set up what are, essentially, scofflaw insurance funds, seasoned with a dollop of revolutionary fervor.

For about $8.50 a month, those who join one of these raffish-sounding mutuelles des fraudeurs can rest easy knowing that, if they get busted for refusing to be so bourgeois as to pay to use public transit, the fund will cough up the money for the fine.

It provides a little peace of mind, however ethically dubious, in a time of economic uncertainty.

But for many of these fraudeurs, cheating the system and forming a co-op isn't just about saving money; it's about striking a blow against a capitalist state that favors the haves over the have-nots. Fare dodgers of the world, unite!Collapse )

IB Claimants beware.

Ministers are to signal a tougher approach to incapacity benefit this week as the next stage of its welfare reforms, by reducing the benefit levels of those tested if they are found capable of doing some work.

Details are expected to be announced by the work minister, Chris Grayling, this week. Early pilots suggest half of those assessed are being taken off the higher rate benefit on the basis that tests reveal they are fit to do some work, government sources say.

Those deemed capable are likely to be required to do more to make themselves available for work if they are to continue receiving benefit.

Ministers have also looked at whether they can speed up the testing, but denied a suggestion that they could treble the number tested.

The chancellor, George Osborne, signalled tonight that efforts to take more of those on incapacity benefit off welfare will form a significant part of plans to cut the deficit, saying: "It's a choice we all face. It is not a choice we can duck."

Osborne said the trade-off between cutting the £192bn welfare bill and the level of spending cuts required in other government departments will be a central feature of the first meeting this week of his pivotal cabinet committee on public spending.

Ministers are looking to see whether existing incapacity benefit claimants can be passed to new private sector welfare-to-work providers.

Osborne, speaking in Toronto at the G20 summit, said: "Some of these benefits individually are very much larger than most government departments. Housing benefit is one of the largest. In its own right, it would be treated as one of the largest government departments.

"Incapacity benefit and employment and support allowance is a very large budget. We have got to look at all these things, make sure we do it in a way that protects those with genuine needs, those with disabilities, protects those who can't work but also encourages those who can work into work".

The need to reduce the welfare bill has been intensified by renewed commitments by David Cameron and Osborne this weekend to press ahead with real terms increases in the NHS budget, as well as not cut pensioners' winter fuel allowance.

Osborne has said he will need 25% cuts in departmental spending outside the NHS and international aid if he is to eradicate the current structural deficit by the end of the parliament. Osborne said: "We have given some very specific commitments on some benefits, we haven't given specific commitments on others, and that's what I want to be part of the spending review over the summer."

Faced by renewed calls from the former chancellor Lord Lawson to stop ringfencing the NHS budget, he said: "We have committed to real term increases in the health budget for a good reason. There are very significant demographic pressures on the health service which have to be taken into account."

But despite such assurances doctors' leaders warned tonight that the economic crisis could have "devastating" consequences for the NHS.

The British Medical Association has warned redundancies, recruitment freezes and service cutbacks are the "early signs of the impact of the economic crisis" on the NHS. The BMA said 72% of 92 doctors surveyed said their health trust had postponed or cancelled clinical service developments because of financial pressures.

Lawson also defended plans by the work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, to cut the housing benefit budget. He said Duncan Smith was dealing with "very legitimate concerns" about "the ability of people to move within the social housing sector". Duncan Smith had never suggested the unemployed should "get on their bike" to find work, in an echo of the notorious phrase used by Lord Tebbit in the 1980s.

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Source: The Grauniad
The Gang

Iran's Rural Vote and Election Fraud

I just heard a CNN reporter in Tehran say that Ahmadinejad's support base was rural. Is it possible that rural Iran, where less than 35 percent of the country's population lives, provided Ahmadinejad the 63 percent of the vote he claims to have won? That would contradict my own research in Iran's villages over the past 30 years, including just recently. I do not carry out research in Iran's cities, as do foreign reporters who otherwise live in the metropolises of Europe and North America, and so I wonder how they can make such bold assertions about the allegedly extensive rural support for Ahmadinejad.

Take Bagh-e Iman, for example. It is a village of 850 households in the Zagros Mountains near the southwestern Iranian city of Shiraz. According to longtime, close friends who live there, the village is seething with moral outrage because at least two-thirds of all people over 18 years of age believe that the recent presidential election was stolen by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

When news spread on Saturday (June 13) morning that Ahmadinejad had won more than 60 percent of the vote cast the day before, the residents were in shock. The week before the vote had witnessed the most intense campaigning in the village's history, and it became evident that support for Mir-Hossein Mousavi's candidacy was overwhelming. Supporters of Ahmadinejad were even booed and mocked when they attempted rallies and had to endure scolding lectures from relatives at family gatherings. "No one would dare vote for that hypocrite," insisted Mrs. Ehsani, an elected member of the village council.

The president was very unpopular in Bagh-e Iman and in most of the other villages around Shiraz, primarily because of his failure to deliver on the reforms he promised in his successful 2005 presidential campaign. He did have some supporters. Village elders confided, "10 to 15 percent of village men, mostly [those who were] Basijis [militia members] and those who worked for government organizations, along with their families."

Carloads of villagers actually drove to Shiraz to participate in the massive pro-Mousavi rallies that were held on the three nights prior to the balloting. And election-day itself was like a party in Bagh-e Iman. Many people openly announced their intentions to vote for Mousavi as they cheerfully stood in line chatting with neighbors, and local election monitors estimated that at least 65 percent of them actually did so. "Although some probably really voted for [Mehdi] Karubi, who also is a man of the people," said election monitor Jalal.

Of course, the Basijis with their mothers, wives and sisters did come out in force but were quiet, apparently timid about revealing their voting intentions "because they probably voted for Ahmadinejad," continued Jalal. But he insisted that they did not count for more than 20 or 25 percent of the vote.

By Saturday evening, the shock and disbelief had given way to anger that slowly turned into palpable moral outrage over what came to be believed as the theft of their election. The proof was right in the village: "Interior Ministry officials came from Shiraz, sealed the ballot boxes, and took then away even before the end of voting at 9 pm," said Jalal. In all previous elections, a committee comprised of representative from each political faction had counted and certified the results right in the village. The unexpected change in procedures caught village monitors off guard, as it did everywhere else in the country.

By Saturday evening, small groups of demonstrators were roaming the main commercial streets of Shiraz, a city of 1.5 million residents, and protesting the announced results as a fraud. People refused to believe that Ahmadinejad could have been re-elected. Larger demonstrations took place on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, beginning in the late afternoon and continuing long after the sun had set. These attracted carloads of supporters from Bagh-e Iman and other villages, including several that were 60 kilometers from Shiraz.

Although the crowds shouted slogans such as "Death to Dictatorship," most protestors shouted "Allah-o-akbar," the popular chant of the 1978-79 Revolution. Indeed, in Shiraz, thousands climbed unto the roofs of their homes Sunday to shout 'Allah-o-akbar' for several hours.

Most villagers are supporters of the Islamic Republic, but they are ready for the reforms that they say are essential so that their children will have a secure economic future. They saw hope in Mousavi's promise to implement reforms, even though he is a part of the governing elite.

But that political elite is divided over how Iran should be governed: a transparent democracy where elected representatives enact laws to benefit the people or a 'guided democracy' in which a select few make all decisions because they do not trust the masses to make the right ones. This astute political insight is one that is prevalent in Iran but seems to have escaped the notice of the Western reporters who are trying to explain Iran's political crisis with resort to simplistic stereotypes.

Eric Hooglund is professor of politics at Bates College, Lewiston, Maine, and editor of the scholarly journal Middle East Critique. He is an expert on Iran, and his most recent publication is "Thirty Years of Islamic Revolution in Rural Iran" in Middle East Report, no. 250, spring 2009.

Copyright (c) 2009 Eric Hooglund - distributed by Agence Global


Sufjan Smile

Across From White House, Coffee With Lobbyists

WASHINGTON — There are no Secret Service agents posted next to the barista and no presidential seal on the ceiling, but the Caribou Coffee across the street from the White House has become a favorite meeting spot to conduct Obama administration business.

Here at the Caribou on Pennsylvania Avenue, and a few other nearby coffee shops, White House officials have met hundreds of times over the last 18 months with prominent K Street lobbyists — members of the same industry that President Obama has derided for what he calls its “outsized influence” in the capital.

On the agenda over espressos and lattes, according to more than a dozen lobbyists and political operatives who have taken part in the sessions, have been front-burner issues like Wall Street regulation, health care rules, federal stimulus money, energy policy and climate control — and their impact on the lobbyists’ corporate clients.

But because the discussions are not taking place at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, they are not subject to disclosure on the visitors’ log that the White House releases as part of its pledge to be the “most transparent presidential administration in history.”

The off-site meetings, lobbyists say, reveal a disconnect between the Obama administration’s public rhetoric — with Mr. Obama himself frequently thrashing big industries’ “battalions” of lobbyists as enemies of reform — and the administration’s continuing, private dealings with them.

Rich Gold, a prominent Democratic lobbyist who has taken part in a number of meetings at Caribou Coffee, said that White House staff members “want to follow the president’s guidance of reducing the influence of special interests, and yet they have to do their job and have the best information available to them to make decisions.”

Mr. Gold added that the administration’s policy of posting all White House visits, combined with pressure to not be seen as meeting too frequently with lobbyists, leave staff members “betwixt and between.”

White House officials said there was nothing improper about the off-site meetings.
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Source: New York Times

Heeee he heee. Heee he hee heeeee! Heee haehe heeeeee~

Burned girl a symbol of Roma hate and hope

By Andrew Tkach, CNN

  • Roma Natalka Kudrikova lost 80 percent of her skin in hate attack
  • Czech neo-Nazis planned attack to coincide with 120th anniversary of Hitler's birth
  • In eastern Europe some far-right parties with anti-Roma rhetoric are gaining support
  • Czech Prime Minister who lost family to Nazis says people forgetting lessons of WWII
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Source: www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/06/25/roma.prejudice/index.html
Dragon with script

Deaf Rights and the G20

Deaf man arrested in G20 protest granted bail

By Sarah Boesveld and Anna Mehler Paperny

Globe and Mail Update

Emomotimi Azorbo charged with assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, but friends say he couldn't hear and follow police instructions

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Outside the courthouse, the Canadian Hearing Society's Gary Malkowski said the police failure to allow an interpreter who was not an officer to assist communication violates human rights and the charter.

"This is a serious concern," he said through an interpreter. "He has the right to access to communication. He was not aware of the rules of the Toronto Police. He was walking on the sidewalk and was not aware."


The Toronto Star had a much better write-up about it, including an excellent quote:
"Handcuffing a deaf person is like putting duct tape over a hearing person's mouth. It's a violation of their human rights" - Jeff Panasuik
However, they've replaced that article with a more general one about G-20 Ringleaders, with only a brief mention of this man.

There's also another story about the arrest here.

Also, as posted on The Facebook Group, the deaf community was having a lot of other problems with the G-20 related police activity, as demonstrated by this story:

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EDIT Just realized that Google has cached the original Toronto Star article here. I really think it was the best article, so I'll include it behind a cut, as I don't know how long the cache link will direct to the original article.

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French Fest 2010 feat. Queen Quitter, Confederate Noose Boy, and Lying Felon

Palin leads charge against Obama at conservative rally

Former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin headlined a boisterous rally Sunday night of conservative politicians, broadcasters and religious leaders who one by one blasted the policies of President Barack Obama.

Freedom Fest 2010, held in Old Dominion University's Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, was billed as a salute to the military and public safety workers, but with the exception of singer Lee Greenwood's musical performance, most of the comments were critical of Obama's actions in dealing with the economy, energy, federal budgets and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The audience filled less than one-third of the arena, but many who showed up said they were looking for something to cheer.

"We've been registered Democrats for 30 years," said Ronnie Cooper, who drove up with his wife from Currituck County, N.C. "The party has lost its way. It's been taken over by a bunch of left-leaning, socialist ideologues. Sarah Palin and the tea party look like the answer." (Translation: We don't want a n***** President!)

Palin, who was the last of eight speakers to take the stage, got a standing ovation as she was introduced.

Her fast-paced speech was filled with many lines for which she's been known since gaining national prominence with her failed 2008 vice presidential bid.

"Don't retreat. Don't retreat," she said. "Just reload. That's what we've got to do."

There's a marked difference in Obama's view of the country from her own, she said.

"He sees a country that has to be apologized for around the world, especially to dictators," the former Alaska governor said. "We want to be a dominant superpower. It's in America's best interest and the world's that we are."

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I live within walking distance of the Constant Center. Now I know what that stench was.
  • lesket

EU 27 and poverty

New survey reveals more people struggling to make ends meet

One European in six reports a constant struggle to pay household bills and three quarters believe that poverty has increased in their country over the past year. These are the key results from a new Eurobarometer survey on social impacts of the crisis, presented by the EU Commission today. The survey, carried out in May 2010, marks the halfway mark of the 2010 European Year against poverty and comes after EU leaders agreed on 17 June to lift 20 million Europeans out of poverty and social exclusion over the next decade.

Speaking to the media in Brussels, László Andor, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion said "The survey results confirm that poverty is a major issue in the EU and that the current economic and financial situation is aggravating the situation further. The crisis is taking its toll and a significant proportion of Europeans today are finding it difficult to make ends meet". He added: "The EU's new strategy for the next decade: Europe 2020 and its target to lift at least 20 million Europeans out of poverty by 2020 sends a powerful message about all countries' genuine commitment to visible results for a more just and inclusive Europe."

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Source has got the article available in 22 languages along with the background information I left out.

The study (with pretty graphs)

Immigrants in tents not seen by EU poverty radar

African immigrants who live in tents in Malta are living in absolute poverty but are not picked up by the EU's statistical radar because they are not considered homeless, a Maltese activist told a conference in Brussels yesterday.

Holger Saliba asked politicians present at the poverty conference whether the EU held accurate statistics on absolute poverty, in order to get an idea of the number of those who lacked basic necessities like food, water and housing.

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mus | like a bird in a cage

Not Being Evil Chucklefucks:Ur Doin' It Wrong

A BOAT captain working to rescue sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico said he saw BP ships burning sea turtles and other wildlife alive.

Captain Mike Ellis said in an interview posted on YouTube that the boats were conducting controlled burns to get rid of the oil, myFOXtampabay.com reported.

"They drag a boom between two shrimp boats, and whatever gets caught between the two boats, they circle it up and catch it on fire. Once the turtles are in there, they can’t get out," Mr Ellis said.

Mr Ellis said he had to cut short his three-week trip rescuing the turtles because BP quit allowing him access to rescue turtles before the burns.

"They're pretty much keeping us from doing what we need to do out there," he said.

Other reports corroborate Captain Ellis' claims. A report in the Los Angeles Times described "burn fields" of 500 square miles in which 16 controlled burns will take place in one day.

"When the weather is calm and the sea is placid, ships trailing fireproof booms corral the black oil, the coated seaweed and whatever may be caught in it, and torch it ... " the report said.

Mr Ellis said most of the turtles he saw were Kemps Ridley turtles, a critically endangered species. Harming or killing one would bring stiff civil and criminal penalties and fines of up to $50,000 against BP.


Artists to protest at Tate’s BP party today

The Tate is throwing a gala event in order to celebrate 20 years of BP sponsorship later today, according to a leaked invitation seen by the campaign group Platform.

A group of artists calling themselves The Good Crude Britannia, who want Tate to cut its ties with BP, will picket tonight’s party.

They come together to speak out against oil industry sponsorship of the arts in “Licence to Spill“, a new briefing being launched by Platform last week.

Tate’s five-year sponsorship deal with BP is up for renewal in spring 2011, and sources within Tate suggest the controversial issue of BP’s sponsorship will be on the agenda for the first time at the upcoming trustees’ meeting in July.

There has been growing activism in the UK against BP’s sponsorship of arts in the UK.

Last month, Liberate Tate disrupted Tate Modern’s 10th anniversary celebrations.

This week, Rising Tide and Art Not Oil targeted the BP Portrait Award ceremony at the National Portrait Gallery and Greenpeace mounted an alternative exhibition to coincide with the private view.

The magazine Don’t Panic also filmed their own protest against a BP event last week (video below)

Jane Trowell of Platform said:
BP is trying to repair its tarnished reputation and buy our approval by associating itself with culturally important institutions like Tate. The financial support provided by BP creates a perception of it being a cuddly corporate entity, and aims to distract us from the devastating environmental and social impacts of its global operations.

Public outrage over the Deepwater Horizon spill is creating a moment for change. We hope that, as happened with the tobacco industry, it will soon come to be seen as socially unacceptable for cultural institutions to accept funding from Big Oil
A letter has been published in the Guardian today by artists protesting against the BP sponsorship.

Source: Liberal Conspiracy

OP's note: Remember this post, and how the consensus seemed to be that it was BS? Link #4 is a video of it - turns out it was for real.

Lifetime of Tracking Killings Ends in Activist’s Own

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo — Floribert Chebeya Bahizire went about his work with an accountant’s meticulousness. He was trained to count numbers, and his life’s work became adding bodies: those jailed, those tortured, those killed by a repressive government.

Early on the morning of June 2, Mr. Chebeya, Congo’s best-known human rights activist, was found dead in his car in the Mont Ngafula area of this capital city, his hands tied behind his back. The Congo police inspector general had summoned him for questioning the afternoon before.

“I’m in front of the office,” Mr. Chebeya said in a text message to his wife at 5:20. “Keep track of me,” said his message sent two minutes later. That was the last she heard from him. She later received a message from his phone, but said she is certain it was not from her husband.

Now, more than three weeks later, the “Chebeya Affair,” as his killing has become known, continues to be told day after day on the front pages of Kinshasa’s newspapers. His death touched off an outcry that has not stopped, here or abroad. The United Nations secretary general said he was “deeply shocked” by Mr. Chebeya’s death, and the United States, European Union and French governments expressed concern and called for an independent inquiry.

The police inspector general, John Numbi, one of the most powerful men in the government of President Joseph Kabila, has been suspended. Officials have announced investigations, several officers have been arrested, and Interior Minister Adolphe Lumanu announced on national television that Mr. Kabila was “determined” to get to the bottom of Mr. Chebeya’s death. No cause of death has been released, and no charges have been filed, according to Human Rights Watch.


Read the entire article at the New York Times

I don't really know what else to say other than that I am in awe of those who are brave enough to fight against human rights abuses knowing full well that their work will likely end in their own death

Iran's Presidential Election One Year Later -- Why the Greens Failed

One year after his feverishly contested reelection as the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seems to be standing on firmer political ground than any other time of his presidency. Having withstood all the relentless destabilization plots, both from within and without, his government is now more confident at home and more respected abroad. On a broader scale, that is, beyond Ahmadinejad and his administration, one could also argue that today the Islamic Republic of Iran is in many ways stronger and more stable than ever before -- notwithstanding the continued demonization of Ahmadinejad and/or Iran by the wicked forces of global domination and their angry and frustrated allies at home and abroad.

Even on economic ground, where relentless pressures of sanctions, sabotage and psychological warfare continue unabated, Iran has weathered those pressures much better than expected. In its May 2010 report on Iran, the IMF points out that while unemployment and inflation still remain high, they have stabilized and, in fact, begun declining. The report notes that, for example, "In the past two years . . . inflation stood at 25.4 and 10.3 [percent] respectively: however in 2010 this rate will fall to 8.5 percent for the first time." The report further predicts that Iran's foreign exchange reserves "will increase $5 billion and reach 88.5 in 2010." This healthy accumulation of foreign exchange reserves stands in sharp contrast with the depleted reserves and huge debts of many countries around the world.

Iran has been quite successful in extending transportation, communication and electrification networks to the countryside; providing free education and healthcare services for the needy; and reducing poverty and inequality. As I have pointed out in an earlier article, "Iran has also made considerable progress in scientific research and technological know-how. All the oppressive economic sanctions by US imperialism and its allies have not deterred Iran from forging ahead with its economic development and industrialization plans. Indeed, Iran has viewed imperialism's economic sanctions and technological boycotts as a blessing in disguise: it has taken advantage of these sanctions and boycotts to become self-reliant in many technological areas.

"For example, Iran is now self-sufficient in producing many of its industrial products such as home and electric appliances (television sets, washers and dryers, refrigerators, washing machines, and the like), textiles, leather products, pharmaceuticals, and agricultural products and processed food and beverage products (including refined sugar and vegetable oil). The country has also made considerable progress in manufacturing steel, copper products, paper, rubber products, telecommunications equipment, cement, and industrial machinery. Iran has the largest operational stock of industrial robots in West Asia.

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CNN talks about bisexuality, doesn't completely fail

The last person out of the closet? The bisexual male.

Robert Winn met his wife, Christine, in college. He was a fraternity boy. She was a sorority girl. Early in their relationship, he made a confession, a thorny secret he camouflaged from his closest family and friends.

The truth sputtered out awkwardly.

Sensing his nervousness, she speculated he would announce he was sick -- or perhaps dying?

He told her he was bisexual.

On the surface, Robert Winn, now 40, and Christine Winn, 41, appear to be like any other blissfully married heterosexual couple. They boast nearly 18 years of monogamous marriage. He's a well-respected physician, who works with the LGBT community in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She's a successful hospital administrator.

The couple says they've grown closer over time, but like any marriage, two people can have differences -- including sexual orientation. Christine Winn is straight, and she has been supportive of her husband, who is openly bisexual.

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The article doesn't really say anything that's new to those of us who fit into the B in LGBT, but it's nice to see it talked about in the MSM (hah) without massive amounts of fail. Especially since even around here some people seem to need the reminder that we do, in fact, exist.

Also, wtf at the Gay World Series stripping the team with 3 bisexual guys of their second-place title? Gah.

U.S. Arrests 10 on Charges of Being Agents for Russia

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Ten people have been arrested for allegedly serving as secret agents of the Russian government with the goal of penetrating U.S. government policymaking circles.

The Justice Department announced the arrests Monday.

According to court papers in the case, the U.S. government intercepted a message from Russian intelligence headquarters in Moscow to two of the defendants. The message states that their main mission is ''to search and develop ties in policymaking circles in US'' and send intelligence reports.

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Oh boy.
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Spencer Can't Deal With Your Bullshit

Lesbian Woman Denied Name Change on her Driver's License

Authorities denied a new driver's license to a Tennessee woman who recently married her partner and wanted identification with her new legal name.

Traci Turpin, a Knoxville woman, married her partner in Washington, D.C., and returned to Tennessee to change her name on her driver's license and other legal documents. The Social Security office changed her name, but the Department of Motor Vehicles would not honor the name change.

Initially, the DMV gave Turpin a new license, but employees stopped her as she was leaving to tell her they would need it back, according to WUSA News.

DMV employees called the police when Turpin would not return the license. She argued that her license was different from her Social Security card and that she was only hassled because of her sexual orientation.

Eventually, she gave the license to the police.

Tennessee state law requires a legal document verifying the reason for a name change on a license. The state does not honor Turpin's marriage license as the necessary document because gay marriage is not legal there.


PRIDE PotD: June 28, 2010.

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Next Pride installment: Belarus + Sofia + Moscow + Bucharest + Vilnius

Full Galleries:
Anchorage PrideFest 2010 @ yksin's photostream | Flickr
Los Angeles Pride 2010 @ M. Dolly's photostream | Flickr
LA Pride 2010 @ Mark Luethi's photostream | Flickr
SF Gay Pride 2010  @ Jason Permenter's photostream | Flickr
SF Pride Parade '10 @ bior's photostream | Flickr

"Chicago Pride" | DayLife
[Chicago] Pride 2010 @ ellajphillips' photostream | Flickr
Tree House Stray [Chicago] Pride 2010 @ Taekwonweirdo's photostream | Flicker
Chicago fest season 2010 @ kellyhafermann's photostream | Flicker
Chicago Pride Parade, 2010 @ feastoffun.com's photostream | Flicker
Wall E

A Year at War

Pvt. Johnnie Stevenson spent his final hours at Fort Drum alone, trying to put his game face on. He played some Ludacris on his iPod, then turned it off. He unpacked his 72-hour bag, then repacked it. Did he have enough toothpaste and spare socks? Had he paid his bills? Was he ready for war? For a year?

Capt. Adrian Bonenberger took a drive through the farmland of northern New York to absorb one last view of the St. Lawrence River. To drink one last cup of coffee at the Lyric Bistro in Clayton. To savor one last moment of real peace and quiet before heading to Afghanistan. For a year.

Sgt. Tamara Sullivan pulled out her cellphone charger and braced for a night of tears. She called her children in North Carolina, ages 3 and 1, and told them she would soon be going to work in a place called Afghanistan. For a year. She reminded her husband to send her their artwork. She cried, hung up, called him back and cried some more.

“I asked for him to mail me those pictures, those little sloppy ones,” she said. “I want to see what my children’s hands touched, because I won’t be able to touch them.”

These are the faces of the new American surge in Afghanistan. For the next year, the First Battalion, 87th Infantry of the 10th Mountain Division from Fort Drum, N.Y., will be living, working and fighting in the fertile northern plains of Afghanistan, part of the additional 30,000 troops who will make up the backbone of President Obama’s plan for ending the nine-year war.

The president said last week that the strategy — which calls for securing population centers, reducing civilian casualties and strengthening the Afghan police and army — would continue despite his firing the top Afghanistan war commander, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal.

In the increasingly restive provinces of Kunduz and Baghlan, the 1-87 will be opening a new front and waging a different kind of war. Its job will be to train the local police, secure a vital highway to Central Asia and expand the shaky writ of President Hamid Karzai’s government in the north.

The soldiers will be living with the police in mud-walled outposts and conducting daily foot patrols alongside them into contested areas. The goal is to build public support for the police — no simple task, given its reputation for corruption and ineffectiveness.

Over the course of the next year, The New York Times will be visiting the battalion to chronicle its part in the surge and explore the strains of deployment on soldiers, many fresh out of basic training, others on their fifth combat tour in nine years.

If their mission cannot succeed in the relatively stable north, the policy seems unlikely to work anywhere in Afghanistan.

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Read the entire article at the New York Times and check out the interactive feature as well.


McDonald Gun Case: More Deaths, Unending Litigation

The winners in today's Supreme Court decision in McDonald v. Chicago?

The gun lobby and gunmakers.

Each seeks nothing less than the complete dismantling of our nation's gun laws in a cynical effort to try and stem the long-term drop in gun ownership and save the fading gun industry. Today's decision, which applies nationwide the Court's 2008 ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller that there is a Second Amendment right to keep a handgun in your home for self-defense, is viewed as a vital step in expanding this battlefield.

The losers?

America's communities and the victims of gun violence.

The 30,000 lives claimed annually by gun violence and the families destroyed in the wake of gun homicides, suicides, murder-suicides, and mass shootings mean little to the gun lobby and the firearm manufacturers it protects. Today's decision will only add to this toll. At the same time, the decision will result in an inevitable tide of frivolous pro-gun litigation that will force cities, counties, and states to expend scarce resources to defend longstanding, effective public safety laws.

More guns means more gun death. States with lax gun laws and higher gun ownership rates consistently lead the nation in per capita gun death, while states with strict gun laws and lower gun ownership have lower gun death rates. In 2007, the most recent year for which data is available, the five states with the highest per capita gun death rates were Louisiana, Mississippi, Alaska, Alabama, and Nevada. Each of these states had a per capita gun death rate far exceeding the national per capita gun death rate of 10.34 per 100,000 for 2007. By contrast, states with strong gun laws and low rates of gun ownership had far lower rates of firearm-related death. Ranking last in the nation for gun death was Hawaii, followed by Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York.

And contrary to the claims of the gun lobby, America's cities are not waiting expectantly to exercise this newfound right offered by the Court. According to DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier, in the two years since the 2008 Heller decision overturning DC's handgun ban, only 900 firearms have been registered in the District that otherwise could not have been registered before the ruling. The citizens of DC have thus far rejected the wrong-headed notion that more guns make us safer.

One can only hope that Chicago's citizens will do the same.


Extra props for those who will read the DC Police Chief's article.

Heritage of Pride - New York City

After seeing some of the most incredible photos for the last few days of Gay Pride events around the world, my contributions will seem wanting in quality and sheer beauty, but I would thought I'd post a few of them with the community. These are of the Heritage of Pride Parade in New York City, one of the longest parades in New York in terms of length of distance marched, and sheer time (I think it's from 12 noon until 5:30) and it grows every year! A million people line the parade route and it's one of the coolest things in this city (barring a New York Mets World Series win ;).

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afa_mom definitely should invest in these....

Even Solomon had a goodie bag — at least that’s the theory from the folks at Book22.com.

Kevin and Joy Wilson are a Christian couple who have been married for more than 14 years. But the Bible Thumpers from Bend, Oregon made national headlines last week after news of the sex toy business became a Hot Topic of Debate on The View Thursday.

The Wilsons market a line of “Sin Free” adult thingamajigs for married Christians. That’s right, now the Born-Again and righteous can get their moan on with everything for Ben-Wa Balls to double-headed dildos without dousing themselves with Holy Water beforehand. They’re even vibrators and warming massage oils up for grabs.

It all comes courtesy of the website Book22.com. Kevin and Joy promise that God-fearing freaks won’t spontaneously combust for patronizing their business — just as long as they are married.

The Wilsons write: “It is our company’s policy that the products we sell be purchased for married couples only….We have prayed every step of the way for guidance on what products to offer on this site. The Special Order page and many of the products we sell came about by couples sharing their hearts and issues with us. We found that we were naive about different peoples sexual hurdles and impairments. Elderly and disabled couples have been open with us on what they would like to see us offer and it has really changed our view of what is okay in the marriage bed. We take a lot of pride in running this business and work as unto the Lord each day….”

Original ONTD post
Article SOURCE isn't that holy
If you want to be scarred for life, visit the actual site

My reaction to this:

Gilmore: Pope’s words comfort anti-gay thugs

The Pope’s anti-gay rhetoric "gives comfort" to thugs carrying out violent homophobic assaults, Labour leader Eamon Gilmore has warned.

Mr Gilmore said Benedict XVI should "temper" his language as his hard-line stance encouraged discrimination.

"We have many examples of where there is not only discrimination against gay people, but there has been nasty homophobic bullying and assaults on gay people and I think opinions like that give comfort to that," he told the Irish Examiner.

Mr Gilmore urged the Pope and others in positions of influence to "bear in mind" the effects of their language when dealing with the issue after the Pope sparked controversy with a spate of anti-gay statements, including one in which he said "saving" humanity from homosexual behaviour is just as important as saving the rainforests.

Research by the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN) shows that 80.4% of Irish gay, lesbian and transgender people reported facing homophobic verbal abuse, 42.5% said they had been threatened with physical violence, 24.4% reported being punched, kicked or beaten, and 7.9% said they had been attacked with a weapon.

The Catholic Church teaches that while homosexuality is not sinful, homosexual acts are. Its opposition to any move towards gay marriage saw Irish Catholic bishops call for a free vote on civil partnership legislation in the Dáil this week as the proposals would see same-sex couples get some of the rights afforded to heterosexual couples if passed.

Mr Gilmore made it clear that "legislators should legislate" and Church and state should be kept separate.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Irish Examiner as an opinion poll showed he was the first choice for Taoiseach with 40% of the electorate, Mr Gilmore insisted he could only become head of Government in a coalition if Labour gained more seats than Fine Gael at the next general election as he was "not into" a compromise such as rotating the office with Enda Kenny in a post-election deal.

Mr Gilmore also warned Fianna Fáil not to try and regain support by fighting dirty at the next election and dismissed repeated attacks from opponents that his success in the polls was due to him avoiding taking unpopular positions on national issues.

The Labour leader also came out strongly against any form of water charging for the first time, and he voiced public opposition to the extradition of former official IRA boss Seán Garland to the United States on counterfeiting allegations.

Green leader John Gormley has also called for the Catholic Church not to become involved in parliamentary matters regarding civil partnerships.

The Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference was unavailable for comment.

Source: Irish Examiner