Saturday, July 12, 2008

Their Money Is Pink

I find it hilarious that the idiots in South Carolina killed the ad campaign, and yet the ads were already up in Britain:
South Carolina's tourism agency has slapped the wrist of its ad manager and is refusing to go ahead and pay for a campaign to attract gay tourists from Britain.

The state employee who gave the OK for the ad campaign resigned Friday.

"[He] exercised extremely poor judgment in approving participation in the program," state Parks, Recreation and Tourism director Chad Prosser told the State newspaper.

Prosser said the department will require more review in the future.

It was too late to stop the ads that proclaim "South Carolina is so gay". They've already gone up in the London subway to take advantage of gay pride in the British capital.

So gay.


McCain Squirms

It's nice to know that he doesn't think about important issues that he's voted on.

Video here.


Religious Persecution?

What will the fundies handle now?
Ten people have been arrested and another one cited by state conservations officers after a nearly two-year undercover investigation of the illegal possession, importation and buying and selling of venomous snakes and other reptiles.


The Fight Continues

Married gay couples still aren't married:
The U.S. Census Bureau, reacting to the federal Defense of Marriage Act and other mandates, plans to edit the 2010 census responses of same-sex couples who marry legally in California, Massachusetts or any other state. They will be reported as "unmarried partners," rather than married spouses, in census tabulations - a policy that will likely draw the ire of gay rights groups.


Not the Sixties Anymore

Going north is not necessarily a solution these days:
For American soldiers seeking an escape, Canada is no longer a guaranteed haven.

“It’s quite clear that the current Canadian government does not want to annoy the U.S. government on this issue and will not give any ground,” said Michael Byers, a professor of politics and international law at the University of British Columbia.

During the Vietnam War, the Liberal prime minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, welcomed American deserters and draft dodgers, declaring that Canada “should be a refuge from militarism.” Americans who arrived were generally able to obtain legal immigrant status simply by applying at the border, or even after they entered Canada.

But while the current Conservative government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper has not backed the Iraq war, it has shown little sympathy for American deserters. During a recent parliamentary debate, Laurie Hawn, a Conservative from Alberta, asked, “Why do they not fight it within their own legal system instead of being faux refugees in Canada?”


Friday, July 11, 2008

Civil War

Christmas is doomed. DOOMED!

There are still 167 days until Christmas, but the Amalgamated Order of Real-Bearded Santas will try mustering up some early holiday spirit this coming weekend in Kansas City at their convention.

If only they weren't at each other's bearded throats.

The Amalgamated Santas, one of the nation's largest Santa groups, are dealing with a schism in their ranks. The rift has left burly bearded men accusing one another of bylaw violations, profiteering and behaving in un-Santa-like ways. Some Santas have filed complaints of wrongdoing against others in Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

(Thanks to my father-in-law for the tip.)



Good for them:
Former faculty at Antioch College, which is temporarily closing amid financial problems, plan to teach in coffee shops, bookstores and parks to keep alive the spirit of the private school known for its pioneering academic programs.


Protecting the Children

Coincidence? Impossible!
The teen birth rate is up for the first time in 15 years, and homicides among teens are up for the first time in 12 years, a new government report finds.


Good Lawsuit, Bad Lawsuit

Good lawsuit:
A Buffalo, New York lesbian couple is suing Blue Cross & Blue Shield accusing the insurer of contravening state policy in denying spousal benefits.
Unfortunately, as noted recently here, the odds of actually getting money out of Blue Cross are quite slim.

Bad lawsuit:
A gay Michigan man is suing two Bible publishers over the inclusion of passages that call homosexuality sinful.

Bradley LaShawn Fowler, 39, filed separate lawsuits in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against Tennessee-based publisher Zondervan and Michigan-based Thomas Nelson Publishing.

Fowler, who is representing himself, said that the Biblical references have made him an outcast from his family and have contributed to physical discomfort, "demoralization, chaos and bewilderment."

The lawsuits also blames the publishers for causing "me or anyone who is a homosexual to endure verbal abuse, discrimination, episodes of hate, and physical violence ... including murder."


Thursday, July 10, 2008

Scary AIDS Activists

I'm so proud that Bush is going to attend the opening ceremonies of these Olympics:
As Beijing enters the final stretch before the August 8-24 Olympics, the government is trying to shut out anyone it believes might mar an event meant to showcase China as a modern nation. AIDS activists have been followed by police and beggars rounded up.

Lu, the hepatitis B activist, has campaigned for awareness about the disease, which infects the liver and is endemic in China, with an estimated 120 million sufferers. They often face discrimination and are sometimes denied jobs, even though it cannot be transmitted by casual contact. His Web site has become a lively forum attracting 300,000 members and often airing critical statements.

"This Web site deals with lots of discrimination and people criticize the government. These are negative things and they don't want to lose face during the Olympics," said Lu.

The growing police pressure on some activists is driving some to leave Beijing during the games, while others have been explicitly told to do so.

"Many people are keeping their heads down," said Sara Davis, executive director of Asia Catalyst, a New York-based group that works with activists in Asia on human rights, the environment and social justice.

Wan Yanhai, an outspoken, pioneering AIDS activist, plans to leave Beijing in August. He said authorities have put dozens of AIDS activists under house arrest or surveillance. Since late May, he has been repeatedly followed by police cars, sometimes 24 hours a day.


What a Jerk

He's just always a world-class jackass:

President George Bush signed off with a defiant farewell over his refusal to accept global climate change targets at his last G8 summit.

As he prepared to fly out from Japan, he told his fellow leaders: "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter."

President Bush made the private joke in the summit's closing session, senior sources said yesterday. His remarks were taken as a two-fingered salute from the President from Texas who is wedded to the oil industry.


More Priests Like This, Please

A very good man:
A priest who attempted to protect a 21 year old transwoman from four teens who were hitting and verbally harassing her was beaten in front of a shelter for gay and trans young people.

The teens were pelting Alessandra-Michelle Carver with garbage and yelling transphobic insults outside the Carmen's Place shelter in Queens when Fr Louis Braxton attempted to chase the youths away.

"One of them hit me with a garbage can," Carver told The Daily News. "Then his friends started joining in."

Braxton, who runs the shelter, was able to scare off the teens while Carver made it inside the building. But minutes later the youths returned with metal poles, belts, and construction equipment including empty paint cans and a miter saw, and began beating Braxton.

"Father was trying to make peace with them, but then one of them hit him in the back of the head with a paint can," Carver told the Daily News. "He fell to the ground, and they kept hitting him."

Carver said she and other teens fended off the attack on the priest. Two of the residents also were injured.


Eggs As Speech

An interesting notion:
Four of more than a dozen people arrested for throwing eggs at a gay pride march in Budapest on Saturday received minor fines on Wednesday, while charges against three others were dismissed and charges against the others were dropped.

Those fined were convicted only because they refused to obey a police order to disperse.

In delivering the verdicts in the case the court ruled that simply throwing eggs at a group you disagree with is simply an exercise in free speech Hungarian media reported Wednesday.

The court noted that police on the scene of the parade at first did not want to file charges against the protestors but were ordered to do so by senior officers.


The New Hoovervilles

Here's hoping these Bushtowns aren't a sign of things to come:

Every night at dusk in this wealthy California coastal town, Barbara Harvey puts down food for her golden retrievers, Phoebe and Ranger, and watches as they go for their evening walk.

Not long afterwards, the 66-year-old mother-of-three clambers into the back of her white Honda CR-V, pulls up a blanket, and beds down for the night, snuggling next to her beloved dogs for comfort.

"For the most part I sleep okay," says Harvey. "But it is very cramped. And my dogs are big. The CR-V wasn't designed for people to sleep in."

This was not quite the old age Harvey had been hoping for. Until recently she rented an apartment that featured a garden bristling with roses and heavy with the scent of jasmine.

But when Harvey's job as a 37,000-dollar-a-year (23,600 euros) notary evaporated in the US sub-prime mortgage crisis, she found herself penniless and destitute in a town where the average price of a home is one million dollars.

Harvey's nightly "home" now is the quiet carpark of the historic Santa Barbara Mission, one of 12 sites around the town that is part of a safe parking program run by a non-profit outreach group, New Beginnings.


Still a Freak

Pat Buchanan
just keeps on giving:
On June 29th, MSNBC personality and three-time presidential candidate Pat Buchanan appeared on a neo-Nazi radio program to promote his new revisionist history of the Second World War, Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World. James Edwards is the host of the program "Political Cesspool," the stated mission of which is to "represent a philosophy that is pro-White." Edwards and his colleauges seek "to revive the White birthrate above replacement level fertility and beyond to grow the percentage of Whites in the world relative to other races" and believe that "Secession is a right of all people and individuals. It was successful in 1776 and this show honors those who tried to make it successful in 1865."


Wednesday, July 09, 2008


As anyone with any sense knows, this tends to mean "no regulation":
The Federal Trade Commission indicated Wednesday that it would leave it to data-mining Web companies and Internet marketers to decide how best to protect users' privacy.

"Self-regulation may be the preferable approach for this dynamic marketplace," Lydia Parnes, the director of the commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection, told a Senate committee.

The FTC's decision not to step in — even as Microsoft and Google representatives testified that some regulation would be helpful — means that Washington won't address the matter before a new administration and Congress take office in January.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Staking a Claim

Argentina appears to be making a serious military move to the south:

Argentina's military is to take on the role of protecting the environment and interests in Antarctica under a shake-up being proposed by President Cristina Kirchner.

The reform aims to assert Argentina's sovereignty over its natural resources, but could also create friction as competition intensifies between countries looking to establish claims on the South Pole, where large oil deposits may lie.

"This world is no longer a world divided by ideology. It is more complex, and it is necessary to defend our natural resources, our Antarctica, our water," Kirchner told defence force representatives.

She noted that Brazil was also looking at using its soldiers to protect the Amazon after some foreign observers suggested that international organisations take over conservation of the rainforest, crucial to absorbing carbon dioxide.


Still Evil

Cheney just always does the wrong thing, doesn't he?
Vice President Dick Cheney's office pushed for major deletions in congressional testimony on the public health consequences of climate change, fearing the presentation by a leading health official might make it harder to avoid regulating greenhouse gases, a former EPA officials maintains.


Cost-Benefit Analysis Needed

Seems to me that this is fairly serious political blowback from pushing a missile defense system that is rather pointless and doesn't actually work:

Russia tonight threatened to retaliate by military means after a deal with the Czech Republic brought the US missile defence system in Europe a step closer.

The threat followed quickly on from the announcement that Condoleezza Rice signed a formal agreement with the Czech Republic to host the radar for the controversial project.


Trickle Down

The elderly are already beginning to suffer from high gas prices:
Early last month, Jeanne Fair, 62, got her first hot meals delivered to her home in this lake town in the sparsely populated southwestern part of the state. Then after two deliveries the meals stopped because gas prices had made the delivery too expensive.

“They called and said I was outside of the delivery area,” said Mrs. Fair, who is homebound and has not been able to use her left arm since a stroke in 1997.

Faced with soaring gasoline prices, agencies around the country that provide services to the elderly say they are having to cut back on programs like Meals on Wheels, transportation assistance and home care, especially in rural areas that depend on volunteers who provide their own gas. In a recent survey by the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, more than half said they had already cut back on programs because of gas costs, and 90 percent said they expected to make cuts in the 2009 fiscal year.


Toxic Housing

Heckuva job
, Army:
The U.S. Army knew that the site chosen to build a family housing complex at Fort Wainwright was a toxic dump but proceeded anyway, in violation of federal laws and service policies, according to an audit by the Army’s own Office of Staff Judge Advocate that was released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Despite creating a hugely expensive debacle, sickening workers, spreading pollution and retaliating against whistleblowers, the base command has absolved itself and issued an “outstanding” rating to the official who green-lighted the project.


Watching the World End on the Big Screen

What was it that Benjamin said about mankind being able to experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order?

The rising demand for flat-screen televisions could have a greater impact on global warming than the world's largest coal-fired power stations, a leading environmental scientist warned yesterday.

Manufacturers use a greenhouse gas called nitrogen trifluoride to make the televisions, and as the sets have become more popular, annual production of the gas has risen to about 4,000 tonnes.

As a driver of global warming, nitrogen trifluoride is 17,000 times more potent than carbon dioxide, yet no one knows how much of it is being released into the atmosphere by the industry, said Michael Prather, director of the environment institute at the University of California, Irvine.

Prather's research reveals that production of the gas, which remains in the atmosphere for 550 years, is "exploding" and is expected to double by next year. Unlike common greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, sulphur hexafluoride (SF6) and perfluorocarbons (PFCs), emissions of the gas are not restricted by the Kyoto protocol or similar agreements.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Yeah, Right

McCain continues to appear ever more desperate and pathetic as he seeks the most effective way to pander:
After yet another campaign staff shake-up, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., will try to repackage his economic plans by promising to balance the federal budget in four years.


Unfortunately, Facts Don't Matter

Yet more evidence that DADT is absurd:
Congress should repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy because the presence of gays in the military is unlikely to undermine the ability to fight and win, according to a new study released by a California-based research center.

The study was conducted by four retired military officers, including the three-star Air Force lieutenant general who in early 1993 was tasked with implementing President Clinton's policy that the military stop questioning recruits on their sexual orientation.

"Evidence shows that allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly is unlikely to pose any significant risk to morale, good order, discipline or cohesion," the officers states.



This sort of thing is exactly the reason why the government has the (now largely unused) ability to rescind corporate charters:
California regulators admitted Thursday that for more than a year they didn't even try to enforce a million-dollar fine against health insurer Anthem Blue Cross because it feared they would be outgunned in court.

In early 2007, the Department of Managed Health Care pledged to fine the state's largest insurer for "routinely rescinding health insurance policies in violation of state law."

But they never did.

The department's director, Cindy Ehnes, told The Associated Press on Thursday that, when it comes to rescissions, the agency has had success in forcing smaller insurers to reinstate illegally canceled policies and pay fines, but Blue Cross is too powerful to take on.

"In each and every one of those rescissions, (Blue Cross has) the right to contest each, and that could tie us up in court forever," Ehnes said of the approximately 1,770 Blue Cross rescissions between Jan. 1, 2004, and now.

"They have the largest number of rescissions, so as a practical matter for the department it does present some practical challenges that are different from a Health Net (of California) or a PacifiCare," referring to providers who, along with Kaiser Permanente, have made settlements with the state to reinstate health care coverage.

That means that although Anthem Blue Cross has the highest number of alleged illegal rescissions, it may face the least regulatory consequence simply because of its sheer size, and aggressive legal defense.


We Know There's a Problem

And we know who'll at least try to do something to fix it:
Americans are the least satisfied with their health care system, while the Dutch system is rated the best, according to new research.


Sunday, July 06, 2008

Bhopal: Union Carbide's Toxic Waste Just Keeps On Giving

From the New York Times:

Hundreds of tons of waste still languish inside a tin-roofed warehouse in a corner of the old grounds of the Union Carbide pesticide factory here, nearly a quarter-century after a poison gas leak killed thousands and turned this ancient city into a notorious symbol of industrial disaster.

The toxic remains have yet to be carted away. No one has examined to what extent...they have seeped into the soil and water. ... Nor has anyone bothered to address the concerns of those who have drunk that water and tended kitchen gardens on this soil...

More than 500,000 people were declared to be affected by the gas and awarded compensation, an average of $550. Some victims say they have yet to receive any money. Efforts to extradite Warren M. Anderson, the chief executive of Union Carbide at the time, from the United States continue, though apparently with little energy behind them.

...Beyond who will pay for the cleanup here, the question is why 425 tons of hazardous waste — some local advocates allege there is a great deal more, buried in the factory grounds — remain here 24 years after the leak?

[posted by Miriam]