Thursday, January 28, 2010

Blackwater's Youngest Victim

The Blackwater manager asked Mohammed why it was so important to have an apology. Mohammed reminded him of Blackwater owner Erik Prince's Congressional testimony two weeks after the Nisour Square shootings. In his testimony, Prince said his men "acted appropriately at all times" at Nisour Square and that the company had never killed innocent civilians, except perhaps by "ricochets" and "traffic accidents." At that hearing, on October 2, 2007, a document was produced showing that before Nisour Square the State Department, Blackwater's employer, had coordinated with Blackwater to set a low payout for Iraqi shooting victims because, in the words of a Department security official, if it was too high Iraqis may try "to get killed by our guys to financially guarantee their family's future."
Mohammed said he wanted Prince to publicly reject this characterization of "Iraqis as mercenaries." The Blackwater manager, he says, told him Blackwater does not apologize. "You killed my son!" Mohammed exclaimed. "What do you want, then? Why did you bring me here?"
Blackwater needs to be brought to justice. Thank you Jeremy Cashill for covering this story.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Project for a Healthy American Future - Steve Benen

As anyone even passively familiar with the debate surely knows, the tens of millions of Americans with no coverage are struggling with a burden unseen in other major democracies. Thousands more join the ranks of the uninsured every day. Tens of thousands of Americans die every year because they have no insurance. Hundreds of thousands of others fall into medical bankruptcy — and most of these medical bankruptcies involve people who have insurance, but whose coverage proves inadequate.

To come up short now, or to pass a half-measure intended to respond to shifting political winds, would be more than just a political fiasco. It would be genuinely cruel.

The circumstances are incontrovertible. We pay too much and get too little. The system is bankrupting families, undermining businesses, hurting wages, and placing crushing burdens on government at every level. If reform falters right now, every easily-identified problem will get considerably worse. The current course is simply unsustainable for a country that hopes to have a fiscally responsible, competitive, and healthy future.

Steve Benen has an excellent article in Washington Monthly, "The way forward on health care reform in 2010." I hope House Democrats are paying attention.

Posted via web from Erik Kurtz - stream of consciousness

Proposition 8 trial at a crossroads - San Jose Mercury News

But legal experts, while unsure of the outcome, say the plaintiffs have presented a powerful cumulative case in their bid to overturn Proposition 8. Among other things, they point to experts who've testified about the extensive research showing that same-sex couples are equally qualified to raise children and that, in the words of one Harvard scholar, procreation "has never been a qualification for marriage." She cited George Washington, who never fathered a child, as a prime example.

Prediction: Prop 8 will be overturned. (I've been following the Twitter coverage). My guess is that SCOTUS, who just overruled McCain-Feingold and allowed corporations unlimited power in supporting or opposing candidates, will suddenly oppose the California ruling as "judicial activism."

Posted via web from Erik Kurtz - stream of consciousness

Saturday, January 23, 2010

When the Media Is the Disaster | World | AlterNet

I’m talking, of course, about those members of the mass media whose misrepresentation of what goes on in disaster often abets and justifies a second wave of disaster.  I’m talking about the treatment of sufferers as criminals, both on the ground and in the news, and the endorsement of a shift of resources from rescue to property patrol. They still have blood on their hands from Hurricane Katrina, and they are staining themselves anew in Haiti.

Dear Media, banish the word "looting" from your vocabulary.

Posted via web from Erik Kurtz - stream of consciousness

Friday, January 22, 2010

Hawaii Senate passes civil-unions bill with veto-proof majority, 18-7 | | The Honolulu Advertiser

The bill would allow same-sex and heterosexual couples to enter into civil unions and receive the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as marriage under state law.

Cheers to Hawaii!

Posted via web from Erik Kurtz - stream of consciousness

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Bahati Rejected From Prayer Breakfast | News |

The Ugandan politician who introduced the so-called kill the gays bill, has been disinvited to the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. David Bahati was invited in October, before the bill was introduced, according to the Box Turtle Bulletin, which has been closely following the situation.

Breakfast FAIL.

Posted via web from Erik Kurtz - stream of consciousness

Monday, January 18, 2010

Stop Uganda’s “Kill The Gays” Bill Author From Entering The U.S. | The New Civil Rights Movement

David Bahati, the author of Uganda’s now internationally infamous “Kill The Gays” bill, is scheduled to attend the National Prayer Breakfast on February 4th. We cannot allow him to enter this country.

Sign the petition, please.

Posted via web from Erik Kurtz - stream of consciousness

Dr. Martin Luther King's Economics: Through Jobs, Freedom

Without people taking action in the spirit of Martin Luther King's vision, a few Americans may continue to gather inordinate wealth, but many others, thrust against their will into idleness, insecurity or foreclosure by today's crisis, will have little recourse but to wait for relief from a capricious and uncertain economy.

MLK's thoughts on economic equality. Thanks Mark Engler.

Posted via web from Erik Kurtz - stream of consciousness

Friday, January 15, 2010

Haiti Earthquake Update: AIDG's Catherine Lainé, live from Haiti (BB Video) Boing Boing

Editorial - Help Haitians Help Haiti -

The Department of Homeland Security occasionally grants such status to immigrants stranded in this country by war, famine, earthquake or some other disaster back home. Protected immigrants are allowed to work legally and cannot be detained or deported. It’s a temporary amnesty, given in 18-month increments to those who qualify, and is currently available to citizens of El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia and Sudan.

I can't see how we expect Haitians to remain in Haiti while it is in ruins. Clinton advised outside the box thinking. The State Department should be making it possible to give Haitians temporary protection.

Posted via web from Erik Kurtz - stream of consciousness

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Haiti Earthquake Relief

Our thoughts tonight are with the Haitian casualties of the worst earthquake in 200 years. Donate to relief efforts:

Sen. Wyden Questions Uganda’s Preferred Trade Status & House LGBT Equality Caucus Speaks Out « HRC Back Story

I appreciate Oregon Senator Ron Wyden's leadership on LGBT human rights.

The New Times - Rwandas First Daily :: Issue 14139 :: Lawmakers seek to scrap article on homosexuality

KIGALI - After months of speculation, the Political Affairs Committee in the Lower Chamber of Parliament has requested fellow law makers to consider scrapping the article on homosexuality from the penal code in conformity with the International Charter on Civil rights , The New Times can exclusively reveal. 
The President of the Political Affairs committee; Bernadette Kanzaire told  parliament yesterday that the United Nations AIDS (UNAIDS) council had requested the government to scrap the article pointing out that it was contrary to articles 16 and 26 of the United Nations Convenant on Civil and Political Rights that seek protection of all citizens with disregard to sex, religion and others.
“All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law.
In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status,” artcle 26 of the Convenant says.
Kanzaire’s six-man team is charged with reforming of Rwanda’s 33- year old penal code.
However, Kanzaire informed lawmakers that several opinions gathered during consultations indicated that homosexuality shouldn’t be tolerated in Rwanda since it was against the cultural norms of the nation.
She said it was important to support the authorities in educating the youth to adhere to the cultural values which discourage homosexuality.
Kanzaire said that the draft article within  law, which is still under debate, proposes to punish those who use their sexual orientation to spread the gay gospel to minors. She said the proposal does not in any way spell out any punish for those directly engaed in the act.
Minister for Justice, Tharcisse Karugarama, who was present at the parliamentary discussions said that contrary to different opinions and suggestions, government had no intentions to criminalise gay people for what their sexual orientation. 
Karugarama emphasied Kanzaire’s point that the government did not have any intention to categorise any homosexual as a criminal unless he or she has sexually violated a minor.
“I think there was some kind of confusion on this particular article and yet the Law is clear. Anyone, whether homosexual or heterosexual, who involves a child in any sort of sexual activity will be held accountable by the courts of law. It doesn’t matter if you are gay or not,” Karugarama said
Karugarama said that the idea to criminalise homosexuality was a suggestion that came in a public request.
“There has been a lot of speculation. What people don’t realise is that the discussion about draft laws are open to the public. The criminalisation rumours stemmed from such open debates where everything is tabled and discussed openly,” he said
The members of the gay and lesbian community worldwide under their Umbrella Organisations; the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) had previously petitioned President Paul Kagame  to reconsider plans to include a provision that would penalize homosexuality as part of an overall revision to the Rwandan penal code
The Penal code reform talks are still ongoing and will end tomorrow. Upon revision, the Penal Code will clearly specify on the prosecution and subsequent punishment of culprits, rendering the work of prosecution easier and fairer.
Gay Rwandans face much of the same discrimination as gay Ugandans.

I’m Not Afraid « Playlist: the Blog of a Gay College Student in Minnesota

After 10 hours and 33 comments, here is the transcript of the huge debate that happened yesterday on my Facebook page:
(Ian) Vaughn Walker: If same sex couples can marry, will it change institution? Ted Olson: Won’t change it. Will fulfill it.
(Leah) Genesis 2:18-24
(Ian) The LEGAL institution of marriage, not the religious institution of marriage. I could care less about the latter.
(Leah) Legally, no one can really say anything is right or wrong. Secularism is without morals because morals entail religion. Right and wrong, if not defined by deity, are defined by humans. Which humans? The ones with the most power.
(Laura) Oddly enough, the bible does clearly state to not judge and love people unconditionally no matter what…. Thing is, a lot of Christians don’t exercise that belief. They may think they do, but they don’t. If they did, same sex marriage would be allowed in every state.
(Rebecca) Um, marriage ceremonies include the phrase “in HOLY matrimony.” Humans are not holy, God is. He defines marriage as man+woman. I’m not challenging Him on it.
And there used to be that whole “What God has brought together, let no man tear asunder” portion — or however they phrased it.
Relativism and subjectivism much? Relativism: I can date/live with/marry whomever I please as long as it makes me happy and I’m not hurting anyone. Subjectivism: I’m the one with the authority; there’s no authority above mine.
John 8:44 & Romans 1:18, 22, 25.
The Bible also clearly states many times that homosexual acts (among others) are sinful.
“They will know we are Christians by our love.”
Love is accepting, but not tolerant. If you love someone who’s ruining their life by doing drugs or something, you intervene; you don’t stand by and watch.
Or, at least, you SHOULD step in and TRY to help.
(Ian) Again, this is not for ANYTHING other than for us in the LBGT community to have equal freedom and protection under the LAW. There are around 1500 legal rights that are granted to a couple when they are legally wed, and denying this to a whole group of people because your RELIGION says it’s wrong is DISCRIMINATION and BIGOTRY, pure and simple. Ifyou don’t recall, people were using the Bible and religion to try and prevent interracial marriage back in the ’50s and ’60s, and now we look in hindsight and see how silly that is. But if you want to continue you’re closed-minded hatefulness, be my guest. Just don’t expect me to listen anymore, because I’m sick of people telling me that I’m not as good as they are.
And HOW DARE YOU slap that whole “homosexual acts are sinful” BULL. That’s like saying it’s sinful to not have both arms. What about people born without arms? Where does that lead them? SAME DEAL. I DO NOT choose my sexual orientation. I just deal with it. Why? Because it’s better to live happy and healthy doing what your body chemistry tells you instead of repressing yourself because some BOOK tells you you’re wrong. THAT I believe is sinful.
(Grant) “We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.” H.L Mencken
Please do not assume your religious delusion is something to quote and throw in other people’s faces. There are a number of people who do not actually care to hear or see your religious dogma, but people think it is taboo to say anything. Do us a favor and keep it to yourself.
(Sheila) Sorry, but, I’m gonna go Mommy on you here. No Ian, I don’t think that our faith Discriminating and being Bigoting, GOD”S WORD IS LAW. Therefore, the simple answer is, it is written in the Bible. It is written in the Bible that homosexual acts are sins, which they are. It is also written that murder is a sin. Do you disagree? And DO NOT come back and say that homosexual acts are not as BAD as murder, that goes without saying, but the fact is they BOTH are SINS. So what’s next, legalizing murder? You know, we LOVE you, otherwise you would hear nothing from us when YOU, ONCE AGAIN, post something that you know will spark this conversation. You know, I’ve never told you this, but I think it’s way past time. Morgan used to get so pissed at you, because you were struggling with wether you were gay or not. She used to say “Ian thinks he’s gay.” I can really understand her frustration now. She was so afraid that you would CHOOSE that lifestyle. Because she knew that lifestyle sets you way away from God. Again, sorry for going Mommy on you here, but I’m on cold meds and I’m really tired of hearing (reading) you whine. I have asked you several times this past year to come see me, and, I know Rocky (FCC Youth Pastor) has mentioned that to you as well. AND YOU HAVE NOT!! What are you afraid of? If you want to post something that is not going to get this reaction, stop being so BIGOTED about your lifestyle, and don’t DISCRIMINATE against us people of faith because (YOU THINK) you are gay.
(Jaimee) I don’t see why this is an issue. People of the same sex marry for love where as there are people that go to Vegas, get drunk and marry people while they’re not even coherent. Sanctity of marriage? I don’t think so. :P
(Leah) Ian, you’re getting very defensive. I have never ever said that I am better than you, nor have I showed it. I call my friends out on things, as friends should do. If you want to talk more about it, I’m all ears.
(Kalene) Leah: morality exists without the divine of the simple reason of the Golden Rule and how it came about through the growth of our species. Humans wouldn’t have gotten anywhere if we all just killed each other when we got mad. So we didn’t kill each other so we could survive, etc. Many of the atheists I have met are the kindest, most generous people I have met and they are so for the sole reason that they care about other human beings. I have a hard time finding such people of faith to genuinely care about anything unless they can later convert another person to their religion.
Also Leah, why would someone want to be a friend of yours when you condemns their lifestyle to hell?
Sheila: You are a horribly close minded person, shame on you for believing that everyone accepts your god as divine master. Also, your bible was written by humans. HUMANS make errors. It wasn’t even written in English originally, so unless you are fluent in the original language of the bible, much of the specific meanings of the verses are lost in translation. Regardless of this fact, the Leviticus verse your faith uses so often is followed by decreeing that it is against your god’s wishes for you to wear clothing of mixed fibers (like a shirt made of cotton and polyester), shaving your beard, or eating shellfish! Also context is important, but I guess context isn’t important to your faith?
Also, if someone is not a Christian, why the hell would they listen to anything you have to say if the only proof you were offering is a book that holds no authority to them? It’d be like someone throwing passages from the Koran at you to try and convince you of a stance!!
(Jaimee) Another thought of mine, whether you are religious or not, from my belief, God created us each uniquely and therefore created some to be gay and we should let them live their life in peace.
(Grant) Sheila – You have, more than likely unknowingly, used a fallacy of authority. You have miss used your authority as “mommy” in a discussion where being a mother has no relevant impact. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, but that in turn makes your argument, or statement, an unsound argument. You can emphasis choice all you want, but sexuality is based on a continuum scale, it is not binary like most commonly thought. If you disagree that is your choice, it obviously conflicts with your beliefs. If you do choose to disagree, then why would you not in turn just agree to disagree with Ian? According to his facebook information, Ian identifies himself as an atheist. As your personal beliefs would allow you to disagree with the argument that sexuality is based on a continuum, then you should allow him to disagree with your beliefs it is a sin. Aside from your obvious misunderstanding of Christian doctrine, you are an embarrassment to people who do identify themselves as a Christian, which is what lead me to post a second time since they were unable. Before this post gets too long, which I have refrained from discussing some issues, how dare you bring up your daughter to guilt Ian. You can argue all you want that it was in good intentions or that you are so frustrated that Ian is not following your delusional religion, but that is not fair to Ian or your daughter. Don’t be a monster. Saying stuff like that over facebook causes resentment, you will do more damage than you could possibly do good.
(Leah) Kalene: So humans have found out that the “I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine” is a great way of self preservation. What if there was some one who did something evil behind the backs of everyone. No one knew what they were doing… No one. Would their act be wrong? No one knew about their underhandedness…. So they were right in doing so? This theory implies that it’s only wrong if you get caught. And I’m sure most people would agree morals are a lot more than that. Atheists are kind, etc, etc, because they are humans. Like all humans, we are made in the image of God. Just because they don’t believe in him, doesn’t mean he doesn’t believe in them. As for Christians only caring about only people who convert: that’s totally false. Animals can’t covert, no way possible. So we don’t care for them? Humans are God’s creation. God cares, I care. I don’t love only Christians, that means I couldn’t love some of the dearest people in my life. You’re saying that I hate my dearest friends because they are not Christians, and I find that insulting. Why can’t I have the capacity to love other people outside my religion? Another thing, I have to approve of everything my friends do in order to love them? All of my friends sin, I sin, so I guess no one would consider myself their friend since sin is meant to be out of our lives. The difference is trying to follow God, we all fall short though.
Context is very important, Leviticus is not the only verse that talks about homosexual acts though. Leviticus’ rules are meant for the people of Israel, but are still applicable to our lives as we strive to know God more. The Bible is inspired by GOD.
We offer the Bible as proof because we believe it is the truth. Your argument states that, therefore, Atheist cannot use science as a proof because that’s all they have to lean on for proof. Christians use these both to reveal God currently working in the world.
(Grant) “All of my friends sin, I sin, so I guess no one would consider myself their friend since sin is meant to be out of our lives.”
Do you put them, your friends, and yourself under the same microscope as Ian? Do you seriously and honestly post/say/think those same things about yourself? Don’t bother saying you do because you don’t, if you truly did it to all your friends, family, and self you would have been taken aside and informed that in Christianity God is the one who judges, not you.
” Leviticus’ rules are meant for the people of Israel, but are still applicable to our lives as we strive to know God more.”
So if you’re going to say you don’t have to follow all the rules because they were meant for “people of Israel,” and don’t Christians consider themselves children of Israel? just saying, then none of the laws hold weight. You can’t just pick and choose which your going to “inforce” or “live your life by.” By the way… you can know all you want about God, in Christianity that doesn’t get you to heaven.
AND PLEASE! Learn the history of your book! Seriously, just because you say “…the Bible as proof because we believe it is the truth. ” does not mean it is truth. Learn in which context the New Testament authors meant for their letters to be taken. Find out what was going on in history in the location they wrote them for. Or find out more about the multiple authors of genesis, why there is two creation stories.
(Kalene) Leah: What is this evil act behind everyone’s back that no one knew about? Did it harm someone? Did it harm the so-called evil person? If it did no harm to anyone, I can hardly see how it can be evil.
According to Google dictionary:
Evil is
-that which causes harm or destruction or misfortune
-having the nature of vice
-morally objectionable behavior
None of these definitions work if no one knows about the behaviors of the “evil” individual through his or her “evil” actions.
Also, I did not intend to insult you. I did not imply that you do not love your friends. Perhaps you do, I don’t know your heart, only you do. I was stating that if you are doing as you are now and condemning a friend’s way of life, especially something they were born into (science has much proof in this direction of the “argument”), that your friend would be likely to break off contact with you. You can love them all you want, but they will probably withdraw their love for you since you cannot be accepting of something that they simply are.
(Ian) Wow, I get back on my computer, and return to this. I’m simply flabbergasted. There’s so much for me to cover. I’m going to do the best I can.
1. I am not afraid of the church. The only reason I have never made it to FCC is time. I started school now, and when I’m on break, I tend to be with my friends (who, btw, support me in all aspects of my life). I simply cannot find the time to drive into Willmar to be conditioned.
2. I did not post this to provoke controversy. This is the equivalent of any of you religious-types posting something filled with God or Jesus. I’m proud of who I am!
3. I’m whining about as much as Martin Luther King, Jr. was when called for black rights. There is a great inequality in this country, and those being discriminated against have the right to call out those who are repressing them. That’s all I did.
4. Arguing that, and then using “mommy” is almost insulting. I waited to come out to my mother until I was 18, because I thought she’d have a similar reaction. Instead, my mom is even more supportive than I could ever, ever hope for! She’s smart enough to know that I do not choose to be this way (why would I? I wouldn’t have to put up with THIS), and she is proud that I have the courage to go through all this.
5. For the short time I knew Morgan, she was always very supportive of me. She participated in the Day of Silence (an LGBT event) with me, defended me (sometimes almost to violence) when someone made a homophobic comment toward me, and even tried to hook me up with a (male) classmate I expressed feelings towards. If she was against my homosexuality, she never expressed it to me, probably because she knew something like this would happen. I’m proud of her for that. I can’t say the same for everyone else.
6. Reading some of the comments today have deeply, deeply saddened me. In my mind, one cannot be someone’s friend and then not support them – ALL of them – at the same time. I have friends who are both (some VERY) religious, and support me and gay rights. If you don’t approve of who I am, of something that is about as pre-programmed into a person as eye or skin color, than that’s fine. But DO NOT do that and then turn around and say you love me. That’s a lie and you know it. You either love me, as a tall, white, vision-impaired, right-handed homosexual, or you don’t. And if you don’t, then I don’t know if I want you in my life. So make up your mind and act accordingly. I’m sick of this.
I now have a clearer understanding of who I can call “friend.”
That’s all I’m going to say about this, unless I need to clarify something that might not have made sense. Now go about your business.
(Sheila) Grant – I bring up Morgan because, out of everyone I know, she had the absolute BEST insight into people’s struggles. I bring her up not to “guilt” Ian, but to remind him. His being gay was a choice. I use the term going “Mommy”. Becuase that is what she used to say. And yes I very well know that things said over FB can cause resentment, which is the reason I posted to begin with. Ian has this bad habit of lumping all Christians into the catagories of Discrimanatory and Bigots, and I resent it. Just FYI, some of the best friends (and family) I have are Athiests and Homosexuals. I have a friend who is a murderer, and many other people who have commited the sins of Adultry, Idol worship, heck I have a great friend who is a Satanic worshiper. I love them all. We have the best times together. Trust me, we have all learned how to agree to disagree, agreeably.
Kalene – do a little research and find out the process for translating the Bible. Very interesting stuff.
(Sami) Ian I am so sorry you are getting these types of comments from people who are supposed to be your friends. I’m shocked.
(Kalene) Sheila, I took a class on it thanks. You will never get the exact meaning of something directly from one language to another. Impossible. You can get darn close, but not exactly. And scholars today still disagree on how to translate from one language to another, because with language comes things like cliches and word choices that are not necessarily present in the language the work is being translated to. Why do you think there are so many different versions? Here’s a little info for you to look at from a non-biased source: (scroll to the bottom of the page and look at the table)
ESPECIALLY look at the “conservative bible project” features…. scary that other people can mess with what your god had to say?
Not to mention that even in each of the books original forms, they were copied by hand when other scholars needed a copy of the scriptures, or when they were getting a bit worn. Mistakes happen, we’re human. And they didn’t have Microsoft office back then. Not to mention weathering, misplacing a page or two, and vandalism/theft.
Also, please stop using Ian to fuel your persecution complex. It is not fair to him. He understands that not ALL Christians hate homosexuals, but there is quite a large, and vocal part of your religion that condemns him to a miserable life here on earth. And if you agree with them that homosexuality is a sin and that Ian does not and should not have the right to marry any man who he is committed to, then you, sadly, are in with those Christians who preach a gospel of hate towards their fellow human beings. If you don’t like it, then unfriend Ian and stop commenting on his page.
Sorry, Grant tipped me off to an EXCELLENT bloodbath and the more I read, the more I was intrigued.
UGHUGHGHGHG, I ten paragraphs written and deleted, I can’t even begin to write what I want to say (seriously, 3 more comments have been made since I started writing). so I guess here’s some outtakes:
What’s up with all the bible verse slinging? That only works when you are fighting other Christians (sometimes). Again, I just became Ian’s friend, so I don’t know his particular religious beliefs outside his “Religious Views” on Facebook. By the looks of it, he’s more lenient towards Atheism (and with how these series of posts look, he has a convincing reason to be). So how the heck are bible verses and Christian taunts going to help him?
I don’t think it’s our jobs as Christians to police the world. Our jobs are to serve those who are in need, and to love one another, sayeth the Lord. No bible translation can screw that up.
Ugh. I hate internet debates. Especially religious ones.
Ian, I’d like you meet you sometime.
(Andrew) everyone else had something to say so I thought I would too (althoguh I hate reading not to mention posting long blabbering things) God IS love, so to say that God doesn’t approve of “gay love” is like saying God doesn’t approve of himself, that will be all, thank you
(Phil) Man.. I love you Ian. You’re an awesome guy and nothing changes that. This is very heated and interesting and it has really given me a new understanding of people’s beliefs and how different perspectives may be. I have to say that despite any opinion, in the end you’re Ian and I never want you to be anyone else but you.
(Grant) Sheila – Saying you know all these types of people does not mean a damn thing. You can’t put together an arguement where don’t look like a bigot. Take the blinders off your eyes. You are making Christians cringe! If you truly knew, or understood, how to agree to disagree you would have then admitted that instead of throwing it back out that Ian made a choice. This is Ian’s facebook, if you do not like his status, or other things he posts, change your settings so they do not show up in your news feed. You came on here, there was no invitation for you to come. You decided you wanted to make a public statement about how Ian was living, what you consider, a life of sin. Great attempt at trying to “explain” your motives about Morgan, I can’t find a single person who is not appalled by what you did.
(Trey) When i first got on fb today and looked at this post, i was like “HOLY CRAP THATS A LOT TO SAY ON A STATUS POST!” but then i decided to read deeper into what was being said. This whole conversation really opened my eyes farther and helped me to understand. There is much that i agree and disagree about all this but i feel that enough has been said on both sides without me adding mine. the one thing that i honestly DO want do add in and is the thing that matters to me the most is that I love you so much ian! you have ALWAYS been a good friend and very kind to me and that i want you to know that i will always be there for you. :)
(Ian) Phil, Trey, I love you. :P
(Mom) To morgan’s mother: Keep your bigoted “Mommy” opinion to yourself. Ian has a mother who loves him just as GOD has created him. In addition, I think it is a terrible you feel the need to bring your dead child into an argument. And finally, there is not a single soul in this world that would CHOOSE to be gay. Who the hell would be so masochistic as to CHOOSE to be hated for nothing other than your desire to love someone outside of society’s accepted norm. I think maybe your should pray about your inability to love your neighbor.
(Grant) ^
Oh snap!
(Lucy) God’s greatest commandment was TO LOVE THY NEIGHBOR. The rest of the Bible just elaborates on that point- spin it any way you want. Men wrote the Bible. No doubt, speaking through their faith in the Trinity, but also, they wrote the Bible in the context of their society. They had no way to perceive how we would have grown and changed in the span… See More of 2,000 years (or longer in the case of some books). That’s why the Bible is a living, breathing document, and it takes immense faith, scholarship, and an acute level of open-mindedness to even begin to perceive the awesomeness of God. You can’t just read the words. You have to research and understand the times in which these people were speaking to understand the message they were trying to communicate. That being said, the Bible does consider homosexuality an ABOMINATION. But with a little research you’ll realize two things, among others: 1) the people living in what we now consider Palestine/Israel were a fragile, unprotected, and small society of tribes and were deeply concerned about growing their population and ranks, and so homosexual relationships were not allowed because everyone needed to produce children. 2) the Bible also says eating shellfish, wearing wool blend clothing, shaving, and ACNE are all ABOMINATIONS, as well (the more ridiculous, but just as real, LEVITICUS- look it up!). So do your homework, don’t get confused by the details, and keep loving each other and God at the center of your faith- not petty, antiquated, irrelevant rules.
Also, in the Ten Commandments, God said nothing about scorning homosexuals, but he did say THOU SHALL NOT BARE FALSE WITNESS (that’s lying). That includes a life of lying to yourself about who you are.
God loves you. God loves all of us. LOVE will never be a sin.
(Trey) OMG! those last two paragraphs pretty much come from my heart! beautifully said!
(Grant) I take my hat off you Lucy.
Ian's post reminded me of my own coming out in the conservative Midwest 20 years ago.

GayUganda: Tea leaves

Gug receives an anonymous threat in his blog comments.

Why don't they have an honest discussion about racism?

All too frequently when racism is covered in the news, the coverage is in reaction to a verbal gaffe of a prominent figure without exploring the context of that person's attitude, personal history, etcetera ... example given, the incessant coverage of Harry Reid.

Rather than admitting that racist attitudes are still widely prevalent in U.S. culture and, that as a result, racism is also still prevalent in social institutions, media, the corporate ladder, and so on, the pundit makes an example out of the individual for poor choice of words and moves on to the next story without having an honest discussion about racism.

A "debate on race?" Why phrase in terms of competition? A discussion would be helpful. This rather narrow approach to discussing race lets instututional racism off the hook by focusing on individual racism. This approach also allows those who deny any prejudice in their own personal attitudes to point out the obvious racist while enjoying a free pass, and eventually the media narrative wanes and the media consumer moves on to the next story without much discussion actually. Someone losing his or her job over racial insensitivity seems to settle the matter finally.

This collective amnesia is how someone such as Pat Buchanan can call out racism on Harry Reid without being called out on his own past racist remarks. This is how hypocrisy flourishes in any discussion of racism. If only addressing racism was a matter of deciding what terms are acceptable for discussing race. That's an important first step, but the conversation never seems to go much further (at least on television).

I don't think most people who voted for Obama voted for him because they believed that they would wake up the day after his inauguration in a post-racial society. Obviously racism still exists and will continue to exist until addressed with real conversation.

Institutional racism usually comes to the foreground with questions such as why when the economy tanks is it usually minorities who are most effected, why does law enforcement continue to incarcerate a higher percentage of brown and black persons, why are foreign nationals dehumanized and abused by government officials, and why are soldiers brainwashed into an "us" vs. "them" mentality that translates into beliefs of cultural, religious or racial superiority.

Rachel Maddow perhaps had the best coverage of racism on a mainstream media outlet today.

If the media is going to have an honest discussion about racism it needs to be talking about more than word choice.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Coverage of the Prop 8 Trial Day One

Because The Supreme Court blocked plans to provide YouTube coverage of the Prop 8 trial, I followed FDL's coverage and the Twitter coverage from Chris Geidner, Dan Levin, Ron Buckmire, and the ACLU of Northern California, among others.

Rod McCullom nicely summarizes the first day in court, including links to local coverage.

Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker's line of questioning about the term "marriage" indicated the possibility of recognizing only "civil unions" for both opposite and same sex couples. I agree that this is a reasonable solution, as long as both unions share equal rights. The issue is equality, and I thought the plaintiffs expressed the argument that separate but somewhat equal leads to feelings of being second class citizens.

Mount Saint Helens

Mount Saint Helens earlier today.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Black, gay and indisputably African -

The theme of homophobic African politicians is that gay identity is a perversion imposed on black people by white oppressors. The historical fact is the reverse, of course: Legal prohibitions on homosexuality were originally imposed by white colonial rulers. So it's no small twist in the plot that the new wave of threats to Ugandan gays should be reinforced by American religious extremists.
The proposed legislation places in stark relief the persistence of deadly prejudice. The roots of hatred can be traced to myriad traditions -- indigenous and foreign, white and black. What's more important than identifying the sources of the poison is to find the antidote. The first step is listening to the voices of African lesbians and gay men, and taking our cues from them about how to offer the most effective support.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Latest on Southridge High School And Uganda's Anti-Gay Legislation | Willamette Week | Friday, January 8th, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, we reported that students at Southridge High School were trying to organize a large demonstration in Beaverton to call attention to horrific anti-gay legislation in Uganda.
It's nice to see Oregon high school students involved in demonstrations against the anti-gay legislation in Uganda.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Bleg - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

What the Jews were to the right in the 1920s, the gays are in the 2010s. Unpleasant, dispensable, and if possible, wiped out.
Andrew Sullivan has a good question. Where is all the outrage in the right wing media about Uganda?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Uganda's bill to imprison gays for life is an outrage that should be rejected

THE ANTI-HOMOSEXUALITY Bill of 2009 is an ugly and ignorant piece of legislation being considered in Uganda. If it is approved, the gay people of that nation would be subject to life in prison. This retreat from the death sentence originally proposed should neither be celebrated nor considered a concession by the government in response to pressure from the United States and other nations. The proposal is barbaric. That it is even being considered puts Uganda beyond the pale of civilized nations.
The nine-page bill, which says that "homosexual behavior and related practices" are a "threat to the traditional family," is an offense from beginning to end. The framers say it is needed to "protect" the country from those "seeking to impose their values of sexual promiscuity on the people of Uganda." They say the bill is also needed because children and youth "are made vulnerable to sexual abuse and deviation. . . ." Among the corrupting influences are "uncensored technologies" and "increasing attempts by homosexuals to raise children. . . ."
The law would apply to citizens or permanent residents of Uganda, and would cover behavior both in and outside that country. The measure would turn neighbor against neighbor by requiring those with knowledge of a gay person to report them to police within 24 hours or risk three years in prison. A seven-year jail term awaits the Ugandan who "aids, abets, [or] counsels" homosexuals. And anyone convicted of "aggravated homosexuality," which could mean someone who is HIV-positive and is intimate with another person of the same sex, could "suffer death."
The legislation talks about the "cherished culture" of Uganda and its "legal, religious, and traditional family values." We respect a nation's right to defend its culture and values. But sentencing men and women to life imprisonment because of their sexual orientation is an atrocity. Gays and lesbians would be punished by their own government for who they are. Contrary to the backward thinking of the Ugandan government, being gay is not a choice. But pushing homophobic laws that foment hate is.
The United States and other nations have urged officials to shelve the bill. So far, their entreaties have fallen on deaf ears. Perhaps at the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit opening Friday in Trinidad and Tobago, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who will chair the gathering, can be persuaded to listen to the growing international outrage. If Uganda approves the anti-homosexuality bill, it risks making itself a pariah among nations.

Bravo Washington Post.

Blackwater and the Khost Bombing: Is the CIA Deceiving Congress?

Blackwater and the Khost Bombing: Is the CIA Deceiving Congress?

By Jeremy Scahill

January 6, 2010

In December, the CIA announced that the agency had canceled its contract with Blackwater to work on the agency's drone bombing campaign in Afghanistan and Pakistan and said Director Leon Panetta ordered a review of all existing CIA contracts with Blackwater. "At this time, Blackwater is not involved in any CIA operations other than in a security or support role," CIA spokesman George Little said December 11.
But Schakowsky said the fact that two Blackwater personnel were in such close proximity to the December 30 suicide bomber--an alleged double agent, who was reportedly meeting with CIA agents including the agency's second-ranking officer in Afghanistan when he blew himself up--shows how "deeply enmeshed" Blackwater remains in sensitive CIA operations, including those CIA officials claim it no longer participates in, such as intelligence gathering and briefings with valuable agency assets. The two Blackwater men were reportedly in the room for the expected briefing by the double agent, Humam Khalil Muhammed Abu Mulal al-Balawi, who claimed to have recently met with Al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri.
"It's just astonishing that given the track record of Blackwater, which is a repeat offender endangering our mission repeatedly, endangering the lives of our military and costing the lives of innocent civilians, that there would be any relationship," Schakowsky said. "That we would continue to contract with them or any of Blackwater's subsidiaries is completely unacceptable."

Under the Obama administration, Blackwater continues to work for the Department of Defense, the State Department and, as evidenced by the December 30 bombing, the CIA in Afghanistan. The company even maintains its own forward operating bases in Afghanistan, including one along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. "This is the closest base to the [Pakistani] border," Blackwater's owner Erik Prince recently bragged to Vanity Fair. "Who else has built a fob along the main infiltration route for the Taliban and the last known location for Osama bin Laden?"

Blackwater has been working for the CIA since at least April 2002. Prince recently claimed he was personally a CIA asset, conducting clandestine black operations around the globe. In June, Leon Panetta reportedly told Congress he had canceled the CIA assassination program involving Blackwater.

While the CIA said in December that Blackwater only continues its security and support role for the CIA, NBC News reported that the Blackwater men were not doing security at the time of the blast. The two Blackwater operatives killed in the bombing have been identified as Jeremy Wise, a 35-year old ex-Navy SEAL, and 46-year-old Dane Clark Paresi.
    I wonder how much innocent blood Blackwater has on its hands.'s Hero of the Year

    Posted via web from Erik Kurtz - stream of consciousness

    TAPPED Archive | The American Prospect

    Is 'Principled Opposition to Homosexuality' Different From Bigotry?

    The proposed bill in the Ugandan Assembly prescribing the death penalty for homosexuality, which was broadly condemned in a Times editorial yesterday, has highlighted the link between American evangelical Christianity and anti-gay extremism in Africa.

    Many Christian groups that oppose homosexuality have spoken against the bill (they say it goes too far) and have resisted being grouped with "extremists." But it's only a difference in degree. Anti-gay groups may not be calling for gays to be murdered, but Saddleback Church pastor Rick Warren and members of groups like Exodus International (Scott Lively, Caleb Lee Brundidge, Don Schmiere) have been instrumental in bringing virulently anti-gay forms of Christianity to Africa, and have been loath to criticize the Ugandan "kill gays" bill.

    The underlying assumption to their defense is that a difference exists between anti-gay bigotry and "principled opposition to homosexuality." But there is no such thing as principled opposition to homosexuality: It is always an axiomatic assumption, which is why it's so tough to argue with those with anti-gay attitudes.

    Despite pseudo-scientific claims that homosexuality is medically and psychologically harmful, major medical and psychological organizations have all condemned these propositions. Homosexuality has never been shown to be a threat to society. Without any concrete evidence, anti-gay activists are left with only the veil of religion to cloak their prejudice.

    It has always struck me that both anti-gay and anti-choice activism are premised on a contradiction. If abortion really is murder, why does the anti-abortion movement condemn the murder of Dr. George Tiller? In the same way, if homosexuality really is bad for society and those involved, and if it's deeply immoral like pedophilia (anti-gay activists love to make this comparison), why shouldn't it be criminalized? If it's a threat to society and children, why don't we imprison people who have gay sex? When most of society agreed with our "principled" opponents, we did.

    But thankfully our understanding of the science and psychology of sexuality -- along with our social mores -- have evolved to the point where society won't brook anti-gay activists calling for homosexuality to be criminalized. So while they hold the same retrograde views as their Ugandan counterparts, they are restrained from putting their prejudice into action.

    --Gabriel Arana

    Quoting scripture out of context does not make for an argument.

    Posted via web from Erik Kurtz - stream of consciousness

    Tuesday, January 5, 2010

    Warning over high HIV rates in gay African men - from Pink News - all the latest gay news from the gay community - Pink News

    According to researchers from Oxford University, stigma and discrimination against gays are to blame for the higher rates.

    I wonder can the U.S. stop funding faith-based initiatives that discriminate against sexual minorities? And abstinence only programs are a failure. There needs to be involvement from the world community in changing attitudes and perceptions and start saving lives.

    Posted via web from Erik Kurtz - stream of consciousness


    Frederick after his first ice-skating competition win. He says he is around 18 here. 

    Monday, January 4, 2010

    Are U.S. Forces Executing Kids in Afghanistan? Americans Don’t Even Know to Ask | The Public Record

    People of Narang district mourning for the civilians killed. Photo/RAWA
    The Taliban suicide attack that killed a group of CIA agents in Afghanistan on a base that was directing US drone aircraft used to attack Taliban leaders was big news in the US over the past week, with the airwaves and front pages filled with sympathetic stories referring to the fact that the female station chief, who was among those killed, was the “mother of three children.”
    But the apparent mass murder of Afghan school children, including one as young as 11 years old, by US-led forces (most likely either special forces or mercenary contractors working for the Pentagon or the CIA), was pretty much blacked out in the American media.
    Especially blacked out was word from UN investigators that the students had not just been killed but executed, many of them after having first been rousted from their bedroom and handcuffed.
    Here is the excellent report on the incident that ran in the Times of London (like Fox News, a Rupert Murdoch-owned publication) on Dec. 31:
    Western troops accused of executing 10 Afghan civilians, including children
    By Jerome Starkey in Kabul
    American-led troops were accused yesterday of dragging innocent children from their beds and shooting them during a night raid that left ten people dead.
    Afghan government investigators said that eight schoolchildren were killed, all but one of them from the same family. Locals said that some victims were handcuffed before being killed.
    Western military sources said that the dead were all part of an Afghan terrorist cell responsible for manufacturing improvised explosive devices (IEDs), which have claimed the lives of countless soldiers and civilians.
    “This was a joint operation that was conducted against an IED cell that Afghan and US officials had been developing information against for some time,” said a senior Nato insider. But he admitted that “the facts about what actually went down are in dispute”.
    The article goes on to say:
    In a telephone interview last night, the headmaster [of the local school] said that the victims were asleep in three rooms when the troops arrived. “Seven students were in one room,” said Rahman Jan Ehsas. “A student and one guest were in another room, a guest room, and a farmer was asleep with his wife in a third building.
    “First the foreign troops entered the guest room and shot two of them. Then they entered another room and handcuffed the seven students. Then they killed them. Abdul Khaliq [the farmer] heard shooting and came outside. When they saw him they shot him as well. He was outside. That’s why his wife wasn’t killed.”
    A local elder, Jan Mohammed, said that three boys were killed in one room and five were handcuffed before they were shot. “I saw their school books covered in blood,” he said.
    The investigation found that eight of the victims were aged from 11 to 17. The guest was a shepherd boy, 12, called Samar Gul, the headmaster said. He said that six of the students were at high school and two were at primary school. He said that all the students were his nephews.
    Compare this article to the one mention of the incident which appeared in the New York Times, one of the few American news outlets to even mention the incident. The Times, on Dec. 28, focusing entirely on the difficulty civilian killings cause for the US war effort, and not on the allegation of a serious war crime having been committed, wrote:
    Attack Puts Afghan Leader and NATO at Odds
    By Alissa J. Rubin and Abdul Waheed Wafa
    KABUL, Afghanistan — The killing of at least nine men in a remote valley of eastern Afghanistan by a joint operation of Afghan and American forces put President Hamid Karzai and senior NATO officials at odds on Monday over whether those killed had been civilians or Taliban insurgents.
    In a statement e-mailed to the news media, Mr. Karzai condemned the weekend attack and said the dead had been civilians, eight of them schoolboys. He called for an investigation.
    Local officials, including the governor and members of Parliament from Kunar Province, where the deaths occurred, confirmed the reports. But the Kunar police chief, Khalilullah Ziayee, cautioned that his office was still investigating the killings and that outstanding questions remained, including why the eight young men had been in the same house at the time.
    “There are still questions to be answered, like why these students were together and what they were doing on that night,” Mr. Ziayee said.
    A senior NATO official with knowledge of the operation said that the raid had been carried out by a joint Afghan-American force and that its target was a group of men who were known Taliban members and smugglers of homemade bombs, which the American and NATO forces call improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.’s.
    According to the NATO official, nine men were killed. “These were people who had a well-established network, they were I.E.D. smugglers and also were responsible for direct attacks on Afghan security and coalition forces in those areas,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the issue.
    “When the raid took place they were armed and had material for making I.E.D.’s,” the official added.
    While the article in the New York Times eventually mentions the allegation that the victims were children, not “men,” it begins with the unchallenged assertion in the lead that they were “men.”  There is no mention of the equally serious allegation that the victims had been handcuffed before being executed, and the story leaves the impression, made by NATO sources, that they were armed and had died fighting. There is no indication in the Times story that the reporters made any effort, as the London Times reporter did, to get local, non-official, sources of information.
    Moreover, the information claiming that the victims had been making bombs was attributed to an anonymous NATO source, though there was no legitimate reason for the anonymity (“because of the delicacy of the situation” was the lame excuse offered)–indeed the use of an anonymous source here would appear to violate the Times’ own standards.
    It’s not that in American newsrooms there was no knowledge that a major war crime may have been committed. Nearly all American news organizations receive the AP newswire. Here is the AP report on the killings, which ran under the headline “UN says killed Afghans were students”:
    The United Nations says a raid last weekend by foreign troops in a tense eastern Afghan province killed eight local students.
    The Afghan government says that all 10 people killed in a village in Kunar province were civilians. NATO says there is no evidence to substantiate the claim and has requested a joint investigation.
    UN special representative in Afghanistan Kai Eide said in a statement Thursday that preliminary investigation shows there were insurgents in the area at the time of the attack. But he adds that eight of those killed were students in local schools.
    Once again, the American media are falling down shamefully in providing honest reporting on a war, making it difficult for the American people to make informed judgements about what is being done in their name.
    Let’s be clear here. If the charges are correct, that American forces, or American-led forces, are handcuffing their victims and executing them, then they are committing egregious war crimes. If they are killing children, they are committing equally egregious war crimes. If they are handcuffing and executing children, the atrocity is beyond horrific. This indeed, would actually be worse than the infamous war crime that occurred in My Lai during the Vietnam War.
    In that case, we had ordinary soldiers in the field, acting under the orders of several low-ranking officers in the heat of an operation, shooting and killing women and children. But in this case we appear to have seasoned special forces troops actually directing the taking captives, cuffing them, herding them into a room, and spraying them with bullets, execution style.
    Given the history of the commanding general in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, who ran a massive death squad operation in Iraq before being named to his current post by President Obama, and who is known to have called for the same kind of operation in Afghanistan, it should not be surprising that the US would now be committing atrocities in Afghanistan. If this is how this war is going to be conducted, though, the US media should be making a major effort to uncover and expose the crime.
    On Jan. 1, the London Times’ Starkey, in Afghanistan, followed up with a second story, reporting that Afghan President Hamid Karzai is calling for the US to hand over the troops who killed the students. He also quoted a “NATO source” as saying that the “foreigners involved” in the incident were “non-military, suggesting that they were part of a secret paramilitary unit based in the capital” of Kabul.  Starkey also quotes a “Western official” as saying: “There’s no doubt that there were insurgents there, and there may well have been an insurgent leader in the house, but that doesn’t justify executing eight children who were all enrolled in local schools.”
    Good enterprise reporting by the London Times and its Kabul-based correspondent. Silence on these developments in the US media.
    Meanwhile, it has been a week since the New York Times reporters Rubin and Wafa made their first flawed report on the incident, and there has been not a word since then about it in the paper.  Are Rubin and Wafa or other Times reporters on the story? Will there be a follow-up?
    On the evidence of past coverage of these US wars and their ongoing atrocities by the Times, and other major US corporate media news organizations don’t bet on it. You’ll do better looking to the foreign media.
    By the way, given that we’re talking the allegation of a serious war crime here, it should be noted that it is, under the Geneva Conventions, a legal requirement that the US military chain of command immediately initiate an official investigation to determine whether such a crime has occurred. One would hope that the commander in chief, President Obama, would order such an inquiry.
    Any effort to prevent such an inquiry, or to cover up a war crime, would be a war crime in itself.  We just had one administration that did a lot of that. We don’t need another one.
    Author’s Note:
    As a teenager, I spent a year going to school in Darmstadt, in what was then West Germany. I used to have many discussions with German friends about how Germans could have allowed Nazism to happen, and how anyone could have allowed the kinds of atrocities which we Americans learned that German soldiers had committed during the war–the destroying of entire towns when one partisan fired on a German soldier, the killing of prisoners of war, etc. Of course we know now that Americans too committed equally heinous war crimes, culminating in the use of the two atomic bombs against civilian targets, not to mention the firebombing of Darmstadt itself by the Brits. But the larger point at the time was, how could Germans, who are decent people for the most part, have allowed the horror of Nazism to happen?
    Now we are confronted yet again with an example of American military forces (and it matters not a whit whether they are uniformed regular soldiers or paid mercenaries who executed those Afghan kids) apparently committing exactly the type of atrocity for which the German Waffen SS was known. And whether or not the charges are true, there is enough evidence at this point, with the special UN representative in Afghanistan saying it happened, for us to believe it probably did happen. Yet there has not been one editorial in the US media calling for an open investigation into this alleged atrocity. No Americans are marching in the street demanding answers. Obama, whose daughter Malia is 11–the same age as the youngest of the slain boys–has not said a word, although Afghan students are demonstrating en masse, and burning him in effigy because of this latest outrage.
    So what makes us Americans any better than the Germans of 1940? In a way, we are really worse. It would have taken considerable courage, as my German friends have pointed out, to take a stand against German atrocities in 1940, when such a stand could mean arrest, imprisonment and even execution, even execution of one’s family. No such risks are faced by Americans who take a stand against American atrocities. Here one faces, at most, social ostracism or a minor citation for arrest at a protest.
    We are, as a nation, only as good as our worst behavior and our worse impulses, and can be judged by how we respond to them when they are manifested in our name. And right now, Americans aren’t looking very good at all.
    NOTE: Kudos to David Swanson of for bringing attention to this story.
    Dave Lindorff is a Philadelphia-based journalist. He is author of Killing Time: An Investigation into the Death Penalty Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal (Common Courage Press, 2003) and The Case for Impeachment (St. Martin’s Press, 2006). His work is available at
    Obviously we are doing more damage than good in Afghanistan. A military strategy, if there is one, will not work in Afghanistan.

    Anti-Gay Evangelicals Attempt To Distance Themselves From Ugandan Anti-Gay Bill They Inspired

    Ten months ago, three American evangelicals trooped off to Uganda and, using the power of their words, helped convince officials there to create the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, that would make it illegal -- and punishable by death -- to be gay. If you hang in long enough while reading today's New York Times article on the matter, the reporter eventually gets around to naming them!
    The three Americans who spoke at the conference -- Scott Lively, a missionary who has written several books against homosexuality, including "7 Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child"; Caleb Lee Brundidge, a self-described former gay man who leads "healing seminars"; and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus International, whose mission is "mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality" -- are now trying to distance themselves from the bill.
    At this point, that's sort of like the Velvet Underground attempting to distance themselves from "rock music."
    But for his part, Don Schmierer says he feels "duped," and that he had "no idea some Ugandans were contemplating the death penalty for homosexuality" and that "some of the nicest people I have ever met are gay people."
    Yes, surprise, surprise: you go off to Uganda to talk about how "the gay movement is an evil institution" and how they have an agenda of "defeat[ing] the marriage-based society" and somehow, people take this to mean that homosexuals should be killed or something. How terrible that things like this get misconstrued. Right, Scott Lively, who said this on his website?
    On the positive side, my host and ministry partner in Kampala, Stephen Langa, was overjoyed with the results of our efforts and predicted confidently that the coming weeks would see significant improvement in the moral climate of the nation, and a massive increase in pro-family activism in every social sphere. He said that a respected observer of society in Kampala had told him that our campaign was like a nuclear bomb against the "gay" agenda in Uganda. I pray that this, and the predictions, are true.
    Today's Times article mentions the "nuclear bomb" comparison, but leaves out the perhaps important part where Lively "prays" that his campaign is like a massive explosion that kills tens of thousands of people in a disintegrating rain of atomic fire.
    [Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not? Also, please send tips to -- learn more about our media monitoring project here.]

    I doubt that this "distancing" has anything to do with concern about the plight of sexual minorities in Africa. It is more likely that these right wing extremists are aware that they could lose money and end up in the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.

    The Secret Political Reach Of 'The Family' : NPR

    And some of the, really the core rhetoric of The Family is this idea that most of us misread the New Testament, that Christ's message - the bottom line of Christ's message wasn't really about love or mercy or justice or forgiveness. It was about power. So Doug Coe, the leader of the group, tries to illustrate this, for instance, by saying, sort of posing a puzzle: name three men in the 20th century who best understood that message of The New Testament. And most people are going to say someone like Martin Luther King, or Bonhoeffer; or maybe they're more conservative, they're going to say Billy Graham. And Coe likes to give in answer: Hitler, Stalin and Mao, which just makes your jaw drop. And he will say - he's quick to say these are evil men, but they understood power. And that message recurs again, and again, and again in The Family.
    Rachel Maddow has been covering The Family's political influence, but I had somehow missed this NPR interview with Mr. Sharlet who went undercover to report on the The Family.

    Sunday, January 3, 2010

    After Americans Visit, Uganda Weighs Death for Gays

    KAMPALA, Uganda — Last March, three American evangelical Christians, whose teachings about “curing” homosexuals have been widely discredited in the United States, arrived here in Uganda’s capital to give a series of talks.
    Skip to next paragraph

    Marc Hofer for The New York Times
    Stosh Mugisha is going through a transition to become a man.



    Times Topics: Uganda

    Marc Hofer for The New York Times
    Demonstrators carried banners denouncing homosexuality in December in Kampala, Uganda.

    Marc Hofer for The New York Times
    Nikki Mawanda, 27, who was born female but lives as a “trans-man” in Uganda, described abuse by the police and others.

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    The theme of the event, according to Stephen Langa, its Ugandan organizer, was “the gay agenda — that whole hidden and dark agenda” — and the threat homosexuals posed to Bible-based values and the traditional African family.
    For three days, according to participants and audio recordings, thousands of Ugandans, including police officers, teachers and national politicians, listened raptly to the Americans, who were presented as experts on homosexuality. The visitors discussed how to make gay people straight, how gay men often sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” whose goal is “to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.”
    Now the three Americans are finding themselves on the defensive, saying they had no intention of helping stoke the kind of anger that could lead to what came next: a bill to impose a death sentence for homosexual behavior.
    One month after the conference, a previously unknown Ugandan politician, who boasts of having evangelical friends in the American government, introduced the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, which threatens to hang homosexuals, and, as a result, has put Uganda on a collision course with Western nations.
    Donor countries, including the United States, are demanding that Uganda’s government drop the proposed law, saying it violates human rights, though Uganda’s minister of ethics and integrity (who previously tried to ban miniskirts) recently said, “Homosexuals can forget about human rights.”
    The Ugandan government, facing the prospect of losing millions in foreign aid, is now indicating that it will back down, slightly, and change the death penalty provision to life in prison for some homosexuals. But the battle is far from over.
    Instead, Uganda seems to have become a far-flung front line in the American culture wars, with American groups on both sides, the Christian right and gay activists, pouring in support and money as they get involved in the broader debate over homosexuality in Africa.
    “It’s a fight for their lives,” said Mai Kiang, a director at the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, a New York-based group that has channeled nearly $75,000 to Ugandan gay rights activists and expects that amount to grow.
    The three Americans who spoke at the conference — Scott Lively, a missionary who has written several books against homosexuality, including “7 Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child”; Caleb Lee Brundidge, a self-described former gay man who leads “healing seminars”; and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus International, whose mission is “mobilizing the body of Christ to minister grace and truth to a world impacted by homosexuality” — are now trying to distance themselves from the bill.
    “I feel duped,” Mr. Schmierer said, arguing that he had been invited to speak on “parenting skills” for families with gay children. He acknowledged telling audiences how homosexuals could be converted into heterosexuals, but he said he had no idea some Ugandans were contemplating the death penalty for homosexuality.
    “That’s horrible, absolutely horrible,” he said. “Some of the nicest people I have ever met are gay people.”
    Mr. Lively and Mr. Brundidge have made similar remarks in interviews or statements issued by their organizations. But the Ugandan organizers of the conference admit helping draft the bill, and Mr. Lively has acknowledged meeting with Ugandan lawmakers to discuss it. He even wrote on his blog in March that someone had likened their campaign to “a nuclear bomb against the gay agenda in Uganda.” Later, when confronted with criticism, Mr. Lively said he was very disappointed that the legislation was so harsh.
    Human rights advocates in Uganda say the visit by the three Americans helped set in motion what could be a very dangerous cycle. Gay Ugandans already describe a world of beatings, blackmail, death threats like “Die Sodomite!” scrawled on their homes, constant harassment and even so-called correctional rape.
    “Now we really have to go undercover,” said Stosh Mugisha, a gay rights activist who said she was pinned down in a guava orchard and raped by a farmhand who wanted to cure her of her attraction to girls. She said that she was impregnated and infected with H.I.V., but that her grandmother’s reaction was simply, “ ‘You are too stubborn.’ ”
    Despite such attacks, many gay men and lesbians here said things had been getting better for them before the bill, at least enough to hold news conferences and publicly advocate for their rights. Now they worry that the bill could encourage lynchings. Already, mobs beat people to death for infractions as minor as stealing shoes.
    “What these people have done is set the fire they can’t quench,” said the Rev. Kapya Kaoma, a Zambian who went undercover for six months to chronicle the relationship between the African anti-homosexual movement and American evangelicals.
    Mr. Kaoma was at the conference and said that the three Americans “underestimated the homophobia in Uganda” and “what it means to Africans when you speak about a certain group trying to destroy their children and their families.”
    “When you speak like that,” he said, “Africans will fight to the death.”
    Uganda is an exceptionally lush, mostly rural country where conservative Christian groups wield enormous influence. This is, after all, the land of proposed virginity scholarships, songs about Jesus playing in the airport, “Uganda is Blessed” bumper stickers on Parliament office doors and a suggestion by the president’s wife that a virginity census could be a way to fight AIDS.
    During the Bush administration, American officials praised Uganda’s family-values policies and steered millions of dollars into abstinence programs.
    Uganda has also become a magnet for American evangelical groups. Some of the best known Christian personalities have recently passed through here, often bringing with them anti-homosexuality messages, including the Rev. Rick Warren, who visited in 2008 and has compared homosexuality to pedophilia. (Mr. Warren recently condemned the anti-homosexuality bill, seeking to correct what he called “lies and errors and false reports” that he played a role in it.)
    Many Africans view homosexuality as an immoral Western import, and the continent is full of harsh homophobic laws. In northern Nigeria, gay men can face death by stoning. Beyond Africa, a handful of Muslim countries, like Iran and Yemen, also have the death penalty for homosexuals. But many Ugandans said they thought that was going too far. A few even spoke out in support of gay people.
    “I can defend them,” said Haj Medih, a Muslim taxi driver with many homosexual customers. “But I fear the what? The police, the government. They can arrest you and put you in the safe house, and for me, I don’t have any lawyer who can help me.”
    Next Article in World (4 of 21) » A version of this article appeared in print on January 4, 2010, on page A1 of the New York edition.
    "Gug,", has been blogging daily about this developing human rights crisis.