January 28th, 2012


Challenger, never forget

1/28/1986. I was in 5th grade. My teacher rolled in a TV to watch and to remember. RIP.

I should have added some more thoughts on this. I was actually in a Young Astronauts club that my school had, so this event was particularly devastating to me. The teacher I had that year sponsored the club for the school. Our principal made an announcement over the PA system when it happened. It was one of the most vivid memories I had from my childhood.

One of my beloved 14ers (mountain peak over 14,000 feet) here in Colorado bears the name "Challenger Point" in memory of those brave astronauts. This is the plaque at its summit (note to mods -- image is hosted on my personal web server):

Ron Paul Lied, Lied, LIED About Not Knowing The Content Of Newsletters - & Did It For Cash

Ron Paul, well known as a physician, congressman and libertarian , has also been a businessman who pursued a marketing strategy that included publishing provocative, racially charged newsletters to make money and spread his ideas, said three people with direct knowledge of Paul’s businesses.

The Republican presidential candidate has denied writing inflammatory passages in the pamphlets from the 1990s and said recently that he did not read them at the time or for years afterward. Numerous colleagues said he does not hold racist views.

But people close to Paul’s operations said he was deeply involved in the company that produced the newsletters, Ron Paul & Associates, and closely monitored its operations, signing off on articles and speaking to staff members virtually every day.

“It was his newsletter, and it was under his name, so he always got to see the final product. . . . He would proof it,’’
said Renae Hathway, a former secretary in Paul’s company and a supporter of the Texas congressman’s.

The newsletters point to a rarely seen and somewhat opaque side of Paul, who has surprised the political community by becoming an important factor in the Republican race. The candidate, who has presented himself as a kindly doctor and political truth teller, declined in a recent debate to release his tax returns, joking that he would be “embarrassed” about his income compared with that of his richer GOP rivals.

Yet a review of his enterprises reveals a sharp-eyed businessman who for nearly two decades oversaw the company and a nonprofit foundation, intertwining them with his political career. The newsletters, which were launched in the mid-1980s and bore such names as the Ron Paul Survival Report, were produced by a company Paul dissolved in 2001.

The company shared offices with his campaigns and foundation at various points, said those familiar with the operation. Public records show Paul’s wife and daughter were officers of the newsletter company and foundation; his daughter also served as his campaign treasurer.

Jesse Benton, a presidential campaign spokesman, said that the accounts of Paul’s involvement were untrue and that Paul was practicing medicine full time when “the offensive material appeared under his name.” Paul “abhors it, rejects it and has taken responsibility for it as he should have better policed the work being done under his masthead,” Benton said. He did not comment on Paul’s business strategy.

Collapse )


So much for the "man of principle". Not only did he blatantly lie about not knowing about the content of the newsletters, but he did it solely to increase market share and make a profit, catering to the cranks and bigoted for dime. And then, when it turned into a political liability? He ditched the whole thing and tried to bury it. All for money. Who knows? Maybe this is TRUE libertarianism - make a buck at any expense.

Mayor Cory Booker's Spontaneous Marriage Equality Speech


'I've got very, very strong feelings about this... [...] But dear God, we should not be putting civil rights issues to a popular vote subject to the sentiments of the day. No minority should have their rights subject to the passions and sentiments of the majority. This is a fundamental bedrock of what our nation stands for. And I get very concerned that we have created in our state, we refuse to address, call it like it is... that we've created a second class citizenship in our state. That's what we have in America right now. We have two classes of citizens. Jackie Robinson said that the right of every American to first class citizenship is the most important issue of our time. Let's stop the ruse. We have two types of citizens right now in our state: citizens like me, who, if I choose to marry somebody, I can marry somebody from a different country and they have a right to United States citizenship. I talked to somebody last night, his spouse is looking to be deported.. their SPOUSE is looking to be deported. I've got a right, people against taxes, that if I die, I'm married, this first class citizenship that I have says that my estate taxes, my wife will get to avoid my estate taxes. The second class citizens in this country don't have those rights. There's over a thousand federal things, federal laws that create different classes of American citizenship because we're not treating everybody equally under the law. I read the 14th amendment clearly. It talks about "equal protection under the laws." And that was never something that should go up to a popular vote, whether blacks, women or other minorities should be equal first class citizens. Thank God Jackie Robinson, there wasn't a popular vote whether he should join.. be a professional baseball player. And so, to me this is INFURIATING.. that we are still in the 21st century and we haven't created equality under the law. And so I will be fundamentally in the fiber of my being supportive of equal citizenship for all people in this country because I know at the end of the day I would not be here, my family would not be able to put food on the table for me, if it wasn't for that ideal in America.[...] Don’t just point to the Governor – we had the chance to do this under the last Governor, and we didn’t have the courage to stand up and do the right thing. So I'm tired and exhausted that we have a country that has been able to overcome women having a second class position in this country, blacks having a second class citizenship in this country, Latinos having a second class citizenship in this country, blacks and whites who want to marry having a second class citizenship in this country. It’s about time we create first-class citizenship for every American, plain and simple. Every New Jerseyan. This should not be a popular vote. This is something we should do now... to me it's ridiculous and offensive that we're still having this debate in Trenton. It should have been done months, if not years ago.”

Source: Video

I think it pretty much says it all.
Pride & Prejudice

From homophobia to a moving apology in Turkey

Last week was tumultuous for Turkey's gay and transsexual people. A groundbreaking indie movie, Zenne Dancer, finally hit the screens, after winning five major awards at the country's foremost film festival, and receiving a shower of attention from the mass media – a shower that unfortunately quickly turned cold.

In daily parlance the word zenne refers to a man who dresses up like a woman and dances in front of an audience, a custom that goes way back to early Ottoman empire. The film itself is inspired by a true story, that of Ahmet Yildiz, a student who was gunned down by his own father for being openly and unrepentantly homosexual. His was not the first hate crime in Turkey, nor the first gay honour killing, but probably the first to draw such widespread attention. The film and the subsequent media coverage played an important role in increasing awareness about the hardships transgender and gay communities endure in Turkey's patriarchal society.

Collapse )

ontd → glasses!rdj

Prostitutes in Java's red light district get paid to quit

WITH its brightly lit glass cubicles displaying scantily clad women to the passing pedestrians, there's no place in Indonesia, or the Islamic world, quite like Surabaya's Dolly district.

The hub of the port city's expansive sex industry, Dolly is a narrow lane some 200 metres long, packed with brothels and bars, the touts jostling among the satay vendors and meatball soup hawkers to entice passers-by to ''jiggy jiggy''.

It's not exactly Bangkok's Patpong or Amsterdam's red light district, but it's not far off either. Named after a Dutch madam who set up a brothel in the area during the colonial era, Dolly has thrived for decades with the tacit approval of local authorities.

All that, however, may be about to change.

Collapse )


Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Welfare Drug Testing Bill Withdrawn After Amended To Include Testing Lawmakers

Welfare Drug Testing Bill Withdrawn After Amended To Include Testing Lawmakers

A Republican member of the Indiana General Assembly withdrew his bill to create a pilot program for drug testing welfare applicants Friday after one of his Democratic colleagues amended the measure to require drug testing for lawmakers.

"There was an amendment offered today that required drug testing for legislators as well and it passed, which led me to have to then withdraw the bill," said Rep. Jud McMillin (R-Brookville), sponsor of the original welfare drug testing bill.

The Supreme Court ruled drug testing for political candidates unconstitutional in 1997, striking down a Georgia law. McMillin said he withdrew his bill so he could reintroduce it on Monday with a lawmaker drug testing provision that would pass constitutional muster.

Collapse )

The GOP empire strikes back at Gingrich

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The revenge of the Republican establishment is a sight to behold. From one corner to another, those who have tangled with Newt Gingrich, who feel aggrieved toward Newt Gingrich or who fear Newt Gingrich have amassed to stop him. They know how much harder it will be to do so if the former House speaker wins Florida on Tuesday.

Collapse )

Pride & Prejudice

The benefits cap policy is based on myths

The benefit cap was announced by George Osborne at the Conservative Party Conference in October 2010. It means families will not be able to receive more than a total of £500 in benefits each week – regardless of local rental values or how many children are in the household. As the crucial votes on the cap take in the House of Lords on Monday, it’s important that the myths on which the cap policy is based are exposed.

Collapse )

Calvin & Hobbes: Sorry
  • calybe

Remembering Howard Zinn

Editor's note: Today, January 27, is the second anniversary of the death of Howard Zinn. An active participant in the Civil Rights movement, he was dismissed in 1963 from his position as a tenured professor at Spelman College in Atlanta after siding with black women students in the struggle against segregation. In 1967, he wrote one of the first, and most influential, books calling for an end to the war in Vietnam. A veteran of the US Army Air Force, he edited The Pentagon Papers, leaked by whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, and was later designated a "high security risk" by the FBI.

His best-selling A People's History of the United States spawned a new field of historical study: People's Histories. This approach countered the traditional triumphalist examination of "history as written by the victors", instead concentrating on the poor and seemingly powerless; those who resisted imperial, cultural and corporate hegemony. Zinn was an award-winning social activist, writer and historian - and so who better to share his memory than his close friend and fellow intellectual giant, Noam Chomsky?

Cambridge, Mass - It is not easy for me to write a few words about Howard Zinn, the great American activist and historian. He was a very close friend for 45 years. The families were very close too. His wife Roz, who died of cancer not long before, was also a marvellous person and close friend. Also sombre is the realisation that a whole generation seems to be disappearing, including several other old friends: Edward Said, Eqbal Ahmed and others, who were not only astute and productive scholars, but also dedicated and courageous militants, always on call when needed - which was constant. A combination that is essential if there is to be hope of decent survival.

Howard's remarkable life and work are summarised best in his own words. His primary concern, he explained, was "the countless small actions of unknown people" that lie at the roots of "those great moments" that enter the historical record - a record that will be profoundly misleading, and seriously disempowering, if it is torn from these roots as it passes through the filters of doctrine and dogma. His life was always closely intertwined with his writings and innumerable talks and interviews. It was devoted, selflessly, to empowerment of the unknown people who brought about great moments. That was true when he was an industrial worker and labour activist, and from the days, 50 years ago, when he was teaching at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, a black college that was open mostly to the small black elite.

While teaching at Spelman, Howard supported the students who were at the cutting edge of the civil rights movement in its early and most dangerous days, many of whom became quite well-known in later years - Alice Walker, Julian Bond and others - and who loved and revered him, as did everyone who knew him well. And as always, he did not just support them, which was rare enough, but also participated directly with them in their most hazardous efforts - no easy undertaking at that time, before there was any organised popular movement and in the face of government hostility that lasted for some years. Finally, popular support was ignited, in large part by the courageous actions of the young people who were sitting in at lunch counters, riding freedom buses, organising demonstrations, facing bitter racism and brutality, sometimes death.

By the early 1960s, a mass popular movement was taking shape, by then with Martin Luther King in a leadership role - and the government had to respond. As a reward for his courage and honesty, Howard was soon expelled from the college where he taught. A few years later, he wrote the standard work on SNCC (the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee), the major organisation of those "unknown people" whose "countless small actions" played such an important part in creating the groundswell that enabled King to gain significant influence - as I am sure he would have been the first to say - and to bring the country to honour the constitutional amendments of a century earlier that had theoretically granted elementary civil rights to former slaves - at least to do so partially; no need to stress that there remains a long way to go.

Collapse )

Source: Al-jazeera

Op: A day late, but nonetheless, rest in peace Mr. Zinn. We need many more people like you in the world.

Church-Burning Video Used to Promote Atheist Event at Ft. Bragg

Atheists are using a music video that celebrates the burning of churches and synagogues to promote an upcoming atheist-themed festival at Fort Bragg.

Collapse )

My husband is Active Duty military and an atheist. I thought this was going to be pretty kick ass, since non-believers seem to still be shamed by the military. My husband feels very uncomfortable going to his Chaplain if we wants to talk because he doesn't want God to be brought into it. I'm disappointed by this. This is not the light that non-believers want/need. And the website for RBB does say that this is an Atheist anthem. :(

Source 1
Source 2

Christina Hoff Sommers: CDC is overstating sexual violence in the US

Trigger warning for dismissive attitudes about rape stats, edited title from "you stay classy Christina Hoff Sommers" because "you stay classy" is classist

Collapse )

Oh fuck you and the horse you rode in on, Christina Hoff Sommers. I remember her from my college days - she spoke about how the Vagina Monologues are ruining Valentine's Day. Fuck that.


Year Of The Bible?: Pa. House Urges ‘Faith In God Through Holy Scripture’

Is the Bible the “word of God”? Pennsylvania House members apparently think so. They just passed a measure declaring exactly that.

Earlier this week, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 535, a resolution designating 2012 the “Year of the Bible.” Introduced by Rep. Rick Saccone (R–Elizabeth Township) and 36 other legislators, the measure insists that “biblical teachings inspired concepts of civil government that are contained in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.”

It also asserts that “renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through holy scripture can strengthen us as a nation and a people” and declares “our national need to study and apply the teachings of the holy scriptures.”
Collapse )

Won't somebody think of the YOUNGLING!?

Tony Perkins: Star Wars ‘surrenders to gay empire’

An evangelical leader is calling on his army of followers to take action against a software company for allowing same sex relationships to be represented in a new Star Wars video game.

Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council — a hate group, according the the Southern Poverty Law Center — took to the radio to denounce Bioware’s Star Wars: The Old Republic, a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game.

“In a new Star Wars game, the biggest threat to the empire may be homosexual activists!” Perkins announced during his daily radio commentary. “In a galaxy not so far far away, Star Wars gamers have already gone to the dark side. The new video game, Star Wars: The Old Republic, has added a special feature: gay relationships.”

“That surprised a lot of gamers, since Bioware had made it clear in 2009 that ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ don’t exist in the Star Wars universe. Since the announcement, homosexuals have been celebrating the news, but parents sure aren’t.”

He continued: “On the game’s website, there are more than 300 pages of comments–a lot of them expressing anger that their kids will be exposed to this Star Warped way of thinking. You can join them by logging on and speaking up. It’s time to show companies who the Force is really with!”

In a statement on their website, Bioware explained that same sex relationships were not yet possible in the game.

“Same gender romances with companion characters in Star Wars: The Old Republic will be a post-launch feature,” the company wrote. “Because The Old Republic is an MMO, the game will live on through content expansions which allow us to include content and features that could not be included at launch, including the addition of more companion characters who will have additional romance options.”

A quick search of Bioware’s forum shows that there are probably not “300 pages of comments” on the topic — and very few if any of the commenters were “angry” about the idea. In fact, most players were more concerned that the featured had not already been released.

“[I]t does feel a bit like bioware neglected the same sex community,” a player named Romanticyde wrote. “I hope this will be fixed, in any way.”


What I find rather funny, is for all the outrage, you'd never see romantic behavior unless you actively pursue it, and any sex is done offscreen.