Monday, August 31, 2009

BlogActive Outs Conservative SC Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer


The Interwebs are once again abuzz with the latest scandal concerning a conservative, homophobic, southern politician accused of being a down-low nancy-boy.

Blogger Michael Rogers of BlogActive.com wrote Monday that he has confirmed that South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer is secretly gay.

"I am now able to confirm a rumor that has circulated in South Carolina for years. South Carolina Lt. Governor Andre Bauer is a closeted anti-gay politician who stands to replace Mark Sanford should Sanford resign or be impeached (a real possibility as Sanford is caught in his own sex scandal.)

So, what is the deal with Bauer? I have confirmed and spoken to four individuals who I have no doubt are telling me the truth. These men have been hit on by Bauer, with one of them telling me it happened at least five times since Bauer's election in 2003. To a varying degree I have met with and believe the sources."

Rogers writes that when he interviewed one source who claimed he knew for a fact that Bauer is gay. When asked how he knew, the source replied, "Because I've had sex with him on two separate occasions.

Rogers claims a 100% track record that includes outing Sen. Larry Craig ten months before he was busted in an airport men's room soliciting an undercover cop for sex. He also blogged about disgraced Florida Congressmen Mark Foley's affinity for very young men a year and a half before Foley's indecent e-mails and text messages to underage congressional pages were made public. Rogers says he only targets closeted gays who are actively working against full equality for LGBT Americans.

Read the full story at BlogActive.com.
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King's Dominion Hosts After Hours Gay & Lesbian Night


The Kings Dominion Annual Gay and Lesbian Night benefiting Brother, Help Thyself will take place Saturday September 12, 2009, starting at 8 p.m. While other Kings Dominion guests are leaving the Park, you'll just be entering to enjoy a night of fun-filled festivities. In addition to the rides and attractions at Kings Dominion, which will be open from 8-11 p.m., there will be a party on International Street featuring DJ DREW G from NYC from 11 p.m.-1 a.m.

Tickets can be purchased at Lambda Rising (Washington, D.C., location) or purchased online. To purchase online, follow this link then enter the code gaynight. Tickets are $30 in advance and $34 at the gate.

Brother, Help Thyself is a community based organization that provides financial and other support to non-profit organizations serving the GLBTQ and HIV/AIDS community in the Baltimore/Washington, D.C. metro area.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Circumcision as HIV Prevention? A reader tells the ugly truth.


On Friday I wrote about the U.S. Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) half-baked recommendation of circumcision as a method of HIV/AIDS prevention. I received a comment from a reader named Willie from South Africa, which I believe tells the real story of the insanity of the CDC's proposed plan. I am posting Willie's comments because they give a first person account or how our leaders can lull citizens into a false sense of security in matters of public health by proposing what can only be called insanity.

First, I want to clarify a couple of things. In 1989 The National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a service of the U.S. Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, released the results of a study conducted in 37 African nations to determine if circumcision had an impact on HIV infection. Researchers chose the test sites based on what they believed was a low incidence of circumcision among Africans in those countries. The study was not able to prove cause and effect when it came to HIV infection in circumcised vs. uncircumcised men.

What the study did show was a gap of 0.5% to 4% in HIV infection between the two groups, with circumcised men being slightly less likely to test positive. I chose to use a figure of 1%, as that was the figure I had heard historically and it fell within the margin in the report. (My bad.) However, the the results still back my position that the proceedure is not an effective means of HIV prevention.

Here is what Willie had to say:

The truth is: Circumcision is common under the Black people of South Africa but not under the [Caucasians]. It is not a “Gay thing” under the Black South Africans, but a true heterosexual disease. Circumcised or not will not make any difference in South Africa. The fact is that most Africans are circumcised and the HIV rate among African men is the highest.
It is estimated that one of the
Townships (Xhosas) in the City where I live 95% of the people are HIV positive and circumcision is compulsory in the culture of the Xhosa people (as well as in most of the other tribes in South Africa). What worries me the most is an article in a Johannesburg News Paper, about a boy of 18 who went for a circumcision. “I’ve heard we must come and circumcise so that we cannot get sick,” he said. “My parents think it’s a good thing.” Maiko is one of about 100 men aged 15 and up who come to the center every day and briefly occupy one of seven curtained-off beds in a one-room surgery” (see article) The whole aspect about circumcision is scary. If the message is understood that HIV cannot be contracted if you are circumcised, the HIV rate in South Africa will increase considerably in the next few years. I think the best way to stop a lot of new cases is to educate students not to have sex until they are married. Otherwise to have protective sex if they cannot do without sex. My question is: Is this not only a moneymaking business? I was circumcised as a baby due to medical reasons but I would have preferred to not circumcise.
It's no secret that the people of Africa are suffering the devastation brought on by AIDS, with whole generations being wiped out and millions of children growing up HIV-infected and alone.

Why haven't we learned? U.S. infections are on the rise as new medications make HIV "manageable" for those who can afford them. More and more gay men are engaging in bare-backing because it feels better than with a condom or because they think AIDS is a thing of the past.

In the straight community, teenage pregnancy and STD's are increasing every year. I have news for you, Bristol Palin. If you can get knocked up, you can get HIV.

When it comes to preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS, don't believe the hype. Protect yourself and your partner. Use common sense and use a condom, every time.

Thank you Willie.
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Separated at Birth?


This just in from Kevin in the (212):

"I was catching up on my DVR'd "D-List" episodes last night when I realized my dear Kathy Griffin is starting to remind me of a slightly less attractive version of another fave of mine, Miss Coco Peru. (Are you taping your wig to give yourself a faux facelift now, Kath? Come on!)"

Chelsea Handler Dumps Silver Fox Boyfriend/Boss


My mother always said, "You don't shit where you eat." (She also had a few things to say about wire hangers.)

The Interwebs are abuzz with reports that comedian Chelsea Handler, star of late night talk show, "Chelsea Lately" on E!, has reportedly kicked her boyfriend/boss, Comcast CEO Ted Harbert out of the house.

The couple had been together for about three years leading to speculation about how Handler got her job at E!, which is owned by Comcast.

Honestly, if her goal was to sleep her way to the top, Chelsea could have aimed higher than basic cable.

Personally, I love me some Chelsea. She's genuinely funny and I love her slant on life, show-biz and celebutards. Her book, "Are you there Vodka? It's me Chelsea." is a must read for anyone who's from New Jersey, had a screwed-up family, and left it all behind to make a life of their own.

The stand-up comic/chat show host told People Magazine "I only comment on other people's lives, not my own."

Of course, in late night talk show splits, it's always the sidekicks that suffer, which begs the question," Who'll get custody of Chuy?"

Friday, August 28, 2009

"Queen of Disco", Donna Summer Wows the Crowd at Free Concert


The soundtrack to my coming out in the late 70's was provided by the Queen of Disco, Donna Summer. I have fond memories of club hopping around D.C.'s DuPont Circle and dancing the night away to the thumping sounds of "MacArthur Park", "Bad Girls" and "Last Dance".

The disco diva gave a free concert in Coney Island, NY Thursday night and proved she's still got it.




FAIL! CDC Recommends Circumcision for HIV Prevention


Hold onto your willies (like you need to be told). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released a statement this week recommending male circumcision as a means to prevent the spread of HIV.

CDC.Gov posted this rationale for the procedure:

Biologic Plausibility

Compared with the dry external skin surface, the inner mucosa of the foreskin has less keratinization (deposition of fibrous protein), a higher density of target cells for HIV infection (Langerhans cells), and is more susceptible to HIV infection than other penile tissue in laboratory studies [2]. The foreskin may also have greater susceptibility to traumatic epithelial disruptions (tears) during intercourse, providing a portal of entry for pathogens, including HIV [3]. In addition, the microenvironment in the preputial sac between the unretracted foreskin and the glans penis may be conducive to viral survival [1]. Finally, the higher rates of sexually transmitted genital ulcerative disease, such as syphilis, observed in uncircumcised men may also increase susceptibility to HIV infection [4].


In plain English, this means that the tissue on the head of your uncut Johnson is more like the mucous membrane in your mouth. It's more sensitive (duh!) and more susceptible to abrasions which might provide an entryway for sexually transmitted disease. Also, the area between head and foreskin is an environment that is more favorable to all kinds of cooties. Makes sense so far, right?

However, in June of 1989, The National Institutes of Health and the U.S. National Library of Medicine released the results of its own study of HIV infection in African countries where circumcision is rare that showed the infection rate was only about 1% lower in circumcised males. (source: www.pubmed.gov)

The study concluded: "Although strong population level correlation between circumcision and HIV seroprevalence exists, it does not prove a cause and effect relationship."

So lets do the math on preventing the spread of HIV:

Proper use of a condom: 99% effective

Circumcision: 1% effective

I hate to agree with Rush Limbaugh on anything, but it looks like we're on the same page for all the wrong reasons when it comes to this sensitive issue.

If the Obama Administration really wants to set itself apart from the "abstinence only" Bushies, they really need to do their homework when it comes to HIV/AIDS prevention and education. A better tactic would be to advocate the use of condoms by all sexually active males regardless of whether they've been snipped.

Obama Report Card Update:

Repeal of DADT - FAIL!

Repeal of DOMA - FAIL!

HIV/AIDS - FAIL!

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Romanian Audience Boos Madonna's Pro-Gay Speech

Love her or hate her, we can always count on Madge to have our backs. Maybe because she knows the gays are the only ones still buying her music.

(From PinkNews.co.uk)

"Romanian fans of singer Madonna showed their displeasure during a concert yesterday when she condemned discrimination against Roma people and gays.

The 51-year-old American performer is currently on tour.

During her concert in the Romanian capital, Bucharest, she said:

'We don't believe in discrimination against anyone.'

'We believe in freedom and equal rights for everyone…right?'

'Gypsies, homosexuals, people who are different — everyone is equal and should be treated with respect, OK?'

'Let's not forget that.'

There were loud boos from the crowd as well as some cheering.

Romania joined the EU in 2007, but it remains socially conservative.

A poll conducted last year found 68% of Romanians in the poll thought homosexuality is a 'bad choice' and 36% think punitive measures should be taken against gays, from fines to jail.

Nearly half of the 1,200 respondents said they would not want contact with someone living with HIV or AIDS. Two thirds said they would be uncomfortable with a gay neighbour.

30% think children with AIDS should be segregated in school.

Romania was one of the last European countries to decriminalise homosexuality, in 1996, and a further law banning "manifestations of homosexuality" was finally repealed in 2001.

In 2002 the age of consent was equalised at 15.

Roma people, sometimes called Gypsies, suffer violence and discrimination across Europe, including incidents in Italy.

A EU Fundamental Rights Agency report on the Roma revealed a bleak picture for the estimated 12 million Roma in the EU.

Roma reported the highest overall levels of discrimination across all areas surveyed. 66-92% of Roma (depending on the country) did not report their most recent experience of discrimination to any competent authority.

65-100% of the Roma respondents reported lack of confidence in law enforcement and justice structures."


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Thursday, August 27, 2009

JAM!

This song has been stuck in my head since I got home from work last night. I thought if I posted this video, it might go away.

Update: Okay, this is actually my private little joke. I got bitched-out last night for opening a jar of strawberry jam when there was already one open in the fridge.

I do hereby solemnly swear, from this day forward, to be more observant when looking for breakfast condiments.

The moral of this tale is that a guy with a blog always gets the last word. This one's for you, baby.



Sports Videos, News, Blogs

What's the deal with these weird links?

Image representing Zemanta as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase

Okay, I'm trying something new. I found some software that I thought I'd try out. It's called Zemanta and it's a tool for blogging that suggests links and graphics about your subject matter and supposedly makes your blog more searchable. It seems to be working, as traffic has been up slightly over the last few days. But that could also be due to the end of summer vacations with folks returning to their usual interweb viewing habits.

It also makes it easier for other bloggers to repost and link to your content, which is sort of how it all works in the blogosphere.

The downside is it that it puts these annoying little icons next to each link, which can be distracting. I'm still getting the hang of it, but I'll try to keep it to a minimum.
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Cool Site of the Week: "Kiss Me I'm Queer"

The weekend is coming and you want to wear something to the club that says "I'm here, I'm queer!", but rainbows aren't your style? Check out KissMeImQueer.com for some really creative and clever LGBT t-shirts.

From "Cops are Gay", featuring two hunky cops in a lip lock, to a 70's style "Smile if you're Gay." to SNL's Ambiguously Gay Duo, there's a lot to choose from to freshen up your pride wear.

My favorite is "She-Man", with a graphic of He-Man (Masters of the Universe) in a skirt, high-heeled boots and a purse.

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Iceland's Out P.M. Makes Forbes List of Most Powerful Women

(From Forbes.com) Elected to office in February after former Prime Minister Geir Haarde became the first world leader to leave office as a direct result of the global financial crisis. The tiny nation of 300,000 nearly collapsed as its three largest banks were felled by debt. Working vigorously to fix the broken banking system, [Johanna Sigurdardottir] promoted entry into the European Union as one solution. Signed stability pact in June, the cornerstone of the government's plans for economic reconstruction. The former stewardess oversees the world's oldest parliament, the Althingi, which dates back to 930 A.D. —Tatiana Serafin
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Wave Wednesday: "Talking Heads"


Okay, folks, I've decided to go all retro on your asses with a new weekly feature called New Wave Wednesday. In the late 70's Punk Rock was shaking things up on the international music scene. Kids were putting safety pins through their noses, spiking their hair with technicolor Jello, ripping up their favorite jeans and t-shirts and generally scaring the shit out of their parents.

Then there was New Wave. This punk offshoot was more techno in sound and most of it was danceable. The look and sound was both futuristic and retro. The clothes were more geometrically constructed, with overly broad shoulders and lots of brightly colored plastic accessories. Of course the look, which set the tone for fashion and style in the 80's, wouldn't have been complete without a set of Buddy Holly horn-rimmed classes.

Where Punk had the raw, gritty feel on New York and London, New Wave was all about LA. (See Bette Midler's house in "Ruthless People".)

One of the best examples of the New Wave sound was Talking Heads, lead by David Byrne. Here's Talking Heads with their classic "Burning Down the House".


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Q-TV: GLAAD's "What to Watch" for Wednesday, August 26


Here's today's list of GLAAD-approved TV viewing for those of us LGBTers with no social lives. It's not "must see" TV. It's more like "you might wanna check this out if you're bored and there's nothing better to watch" TV.

Tonight, we say good-bye to the criminally lovely ladies on Logo’s Bad Girls. May they continue to love and betray at the Larkhall Women’s Prison Facility so that next season will be just as filled with drama.

9:00 pm Bad Girls, Logo (1 hr) SEASON FINALE
The hit British series continues to delve deeper into the drama, love and betrayal that unfolds between the inmates, correctional officers, and prison administrators of the Larkhall women’s prison facility.

10:00 pm The Real World: Cancun, MTV (1hr) NEW
Watch and see what kind of shenanigans gay housemate Derek and bisexual Emilee get into this week as all seven housemates continue drinkin’ and soakin’ in the Cancun sun!

10:00pm Top Chef, Bravo (1 hr) NEW
Battle lines are drawn and the guys and girls face off in a contest to cater a poolside bachelor-and-bachelorette party. So out chefs Ashley Merriman and Preeti Mistry are cookin’ for the ladies versus Ash Fulk repping it solo on the guy’s team. Who will win? Better watch and find out!


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EDNA Supporter, "Lion of the Senate" Ted Kennedy dies at 77


Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Ma.) has died at the age of 77 after an 18-month battle with brain cancer. The last of the Kennedy brothers served over 46 years in the U.S. Senate and became the patriarch of America's most enduring political family after the assassinations of brothers John and Bobby in the 1960's. Eldest Kennedy brother Joe died while serving in World War II.

Ted Kennedy's life was plagued by controversy. His exploits as a womanizing playboy were well documented by the press throughout the 60's and 70's. In July, 1969 a car driven by Kennedy after a party, went off the road and into the water off Chappaquiddick, Ma., killing passenger Mary Jo Kopekne, a young woman who worked on the presidential campaign of older brother Bobby Kennedy.

The younger Kennedy was only charged with leaving the scene of an accident. What became known as the Chappaquiddick Incident would dog the senator throughout his career and was seen as the primary cause for his loss in his 1972 run for president.

Ted Kennedy was truly a fierce advocate for LGBT rights. He tried for many years to pass a gay-friendly Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). This year he saw his dream fulfilled when the senate passed a version of ENDA that not only included anti-discrimination protections for gays, lesbians and bisexuals, but also transgendered Americans.

Most recently, Ted Kennedy lead the charge for health care reform, fighting to ensure that all Americans had access to affordable, quality medical care.

Growing up in a large Irish-Catholic family, we always identified with the Kennedy Clan. My dad's family is from Massachusetts, so the Kennedys' signature New England accent, which sounded odd to most Americans, sounded warm and familiar to us. In the sitting room of my grandmother's modest Sudbury, Ma. home were three photographs on the wall, hung vertically. From top to bottom, they were Jesus, John F. Kennedy and the pope.

He was a political lightning rod who was able to reach across party lines to get the job done. Love him of hate him, there will never be another Ted Kennedy.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Don't Get Mad, Get GLAAD


Media watchdog the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), which recently gave failing grades to most of network TV for their lack of LGBT characters and story lines, posts a daily list of recommended viewing of TV shows with positive depictions of the queer community.

Who knew?

While I (and the rest of us) appreciate the work this group has done over the years to foster a more accepting environment for LGBT people, they really need to get a better publicist. You can rage against the machine all you want, GLADD, but it doesn't help if nobody knows you doing it!

Wait a minute. That sounds a lot like what I do. :-/

So here's a list of GLAAD's recommended viewing for Tuesday, August 25, 2009:

8:00 pm Hell’s Kitchen, FOX (1 hr) NEW
Gordon Ramsey is back and this time he has a new crew behind him. Mainly, season two-winner, lesbian Heather West as his new sous chef. Maybe she can give lesbian contestant Tennille a few pointers on how to deal with Ramsey’s outbursts.

8:30 pm Ruby & the Rockits, ABC Family (30 min) NEW
Ruby, an up can coming young rock stars, gets new bass player, Nils, who she soon falls for. But sorry Ruby, your bassist has a secret!

9:00 pm Big Brother, CBS (1 hr) NEW
Tonight will determine who has the Power of Veto. Let’s see if Kevin can win it on behalf of gay roommates everywhere!

10:00 pm Flipping Out, Bravo (1 hr) NEW
Jeff Lewis and crew are back for a third season, but with the economy in the toilet, flipping houses isn’t such a lucrative option. Maybe they can take a page from Zoila’s book and clean them? Yeah, right! Better watch and see what happens!

10:00 pm Addicted to Beauty, Oxygen (1 hr) NEW
If you needed one more reason to fear cosmetic surgery and medi-spas here it is. Watch as these catty six work and play together all while trying to take care of customers needs.

I'm especially intrigued by "Ruby and the Rockits", featuring ex-Partridge turned Las Vegas cheese ball, David Cassidy as a middle-aged man who finds out he has a teen-aged daughter who wants to be the next Miley Cyrus. (That's right, shoot for the stars, kid.) This show should be a lesson to all of us about the dangers of unprotected sex.

I haven't watched this one yet, but it may be worth a visit just to see if Cassidy will be wearing his signature ruffled puffy-shirt and red velour vest with matching bell-bottoms.

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"Viking Zombie Boyfriend", by Jeremy Rizza 08-25-09


(Click to embiggen.)

Posted with the permission of the artist.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Salt Lake City Mayor Introduces LGBT Protections Bill


Finally some good news for LGBT folks in Utah.

(From OnTopMag.com)

"Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker has proposed a nondiscrimination bill that includes gay protections.

Becker, a Democrat, began circulating a public discussion draft of the proposal on July 21. The mayor is expected to introduce a final bill to the City Council in mid-September.

The current language of the bill would ban discrimination based on race, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity (trangender protections) in the areas of employment, public accommodations and housing. Religious organizations and state agencies would be exempt from the law.

Becker, 57, has asked for public comments on the draft bill, which he says will be taken into consideration before drafting the final ordinance.

A July discrimination report by the 8-member Salt Lake City Human Rights Commission is being given credit as the catalyst for the proposed measure. The commission found that discrimination remains a problem in the city."

NC Court Upholds Adoption Rights for Lesbian Senator

(From Q-Notes.com)

"The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday, Aug. 18, to preserve an adoption by the state’s only openly gay legislator. Sen. Julia Boseman’s (D-New Hanover) former partner, Melissa Jarrell, had sought to void Boseman’s parental rights. Jarrell gave birth to the couple’s six-year-old son, whom Boseman later adopted.

The three judge panel said Jarrell’s and Boseman’s status as a former same-sex couple had no bearing on the case and that the result would have been the same in a case involving a former heterosexual couple.

Boseman’s tumultuous personal life has become public in recent years. The custody battle over the former couple’s son led to revelations that Boseman had smoked marijuana in 2003, a year before election to her Senate seat.

Despite her personal setbacks, Boseman has had a successful legislative career and was re-elected to a third term last November. Boseman was the primary sponsor of the LGBT-inclusive School Violence Prevention Act, which passed the General Assembly this session.

North Carolina law allows single LGBT people to adopt, and has been unclear on the issue of joint adoption and second-parent adoption by same-sex couples. Although North Carolina has no state constitutional amendment addressing the issue of marriage, lawmakers approved in 1996 a statutory Defense of Marriage Act denying same-sex couples any of the rights or privileges of marriage."

Dayton, Ohio May Honor Hometown Lesbian Writer

(From Advocate.com)

"A historical marker honoring a lesbian writer is being proposed for Dayton, Ohio, and the planned memorial will make clear the writer's sexual orientation.

Dayton's Cooper Park could soon be home to a memorial for Natalie Barney, an author born in Dayton in 1876. Barney, who died in 1972, wrote extensively on lesbian and feminist themes.

Working with the Ohio Historical Society's Gay Ohio History Initiative, the gay community center in Dayton helped raise the $2,300 cost of the marker. The city commission will vote August 26 on whether to allow the marker, and according to a local news station, two commissioners have already voiced support for Barney's memorial.

Earlier this week, Ohio's second-largest county enacted domestic-partner benefits for its employees."

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Breaking: Michael Jackson was a Chubby Chaser!


With the passing of Michael Jackson two months ago, it was only a matter of time before the publicity-starved vermin scurried out of the woodwork. I promised myself when I started this blog that there were certain kinds of stories I wouldn't write or report on and this is definitely one of them. The only reason I'm writing anything is that it's just too bizarre to ignore.

The Daily Mirror, the UK's version of the NY Post, is reporting that a man named Jason Pfeiffer, claims that he had an ongoing sexual relationship with Michael Jackson. Apparently the late singer was into bears. Pfeiffer, like MJ's baby momma, Debbi Rowe, worked for the singer's dermatologist, Dr. Arnold Klein. I guess Dr. Klein wasn't making enough doing unnecessary nip/tucks for vain celebs and decided to earn some extra cash by pimping out his staff.

I remember back in the day, when Michael had his original face and skin tone, there was a lot of speculation and rumor that he might be gay. This was mostly because he was so talented, sensitive and good looking and except for the occasional photo-op with Brooke Shields, had never really dated women. There were no gay celebs back then. Even Elton John and Liberace were in the closet. Later, when MJ started morphing into a sideshow freak, even the gays wouldn't claim him.

I wonder if Pfeiffer pulled a Monica Lewinski and kept an article of DNA-stained clothing (like a glove, maybe?). If they compare it to MJ's kids' DNA, they'll never prove a thing.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Former DHS Head, Tom Ridge: "I Was Pressured To Raise Terror Alert To Help Bush Win."

This just in from the "Duh!" Department: former Homeland Security chief, Tom Ridge, admits in his new book, "The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege...and How We Can Be Safe Again," that he was pressured by the Bush administration to raise the Terror Alert threat level in the lead up to the 2004 presidential elections to influence the outcome.

You remember the color-coded system that was a rip-off of our Rainbow Banner? Yeah, that one. Republicans frequently use homophobia and the fear of a terrorist attack to rally their base. I don't think it's a coincidence that the color-coded Terror Alert system resembles our symbol of Pride.

The Huffington Post reports that according to his new book, "Ridge was never invited to sit in on National Security Council meetings; was "blindsided' by the FBI in morning Oval Office meetings because the agency withheld critical information from him; found his urgings to block Michael Brown from being named head of the emergency agency blamed for the Hurricane Katrina disaster ignored; and was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush's re-election, something he saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over."

Cry me a river! Why didn't he do anything at the time, like tender his resignation? Apparently when you reported for work at the Bush White House, you had to check your balls at the door.

Ridge's "tell all" really isn't news. I remember that the Terror Alert level always went up before an election, or whenever Bush's popularity dropped. It became a running joke. Like the boy who cried wolf, it happened so often, we stopped paying attention.

The real story should be that during the eight long, dark years of W's reign, the press bought into Carl Rove's strategy of calling Bush/Cheney critics unamerican. It was an effective tool that silenced the truth, kept their dirty little secrets hidden and allowed the neo-con nitwits to run roughshod over the constitution.

With congress away for summer recess, pundits and talking heads will be feeding on this non-story for weeks, but they'll conveniently leave out the part where they were asleep at the switch.

South African Athlete Faces Gender Testing


(From The Los Angeles Times)
"The South African athlete was often teased about looking like a boy. Her mother -- and many of her compatriots -- are outraged by the questions and the request for testing.

Caster Semenya started to run almost as soon as she could walk. She played soccer with the boys in her rural village. At school races, she'd lap the other girls -- sometimes twice or more.

Even then, according to friends quoted by South African news reports, girls teased her about looking like a boy.

Semenya shrugged it off and kept on running.

But after she exploded onto the athletic stage Wednesday in the World Championships in Berlin, beating her nearest rival in the women's 800-meter race by a whopping 2.45 seconds, the question was back: Is she really a she?

An Italian rival, Elisa Cusma Piccione, called her a man. Russian runner Mariya Savinova agreed. "Just look at her," she told journalists in Berlin.

Semenya, 18, smiled broadly as she accepted her gold medal to strong applause Thursday in Berlin. She has said little in public so far, but her mother, Dorcas, 50, is fierce in her defense. "She's a girl. I'm the mother of that girl. I'm the one that knows about Caster. If they want to know about Caster, tell them to come to me."

Other black South Africans find something more sinister in the controversy erupting around Semenya: another example of demeaning Western attitudes toward black Africans, particularly women.

The International Assn. of Athletic Federations has asked the 5-foot-7, 140-pound athlete to undergo a battery of complex gender tests, and it could take months to get the results. If found to be male, Semenya could be disqualified from competing and stripped of her medals.

Semenya, who comes from a poor rural background in Limpopo province in northern South Africa, has grappled with the consequences of looking boyish all her life.

She grew up with four sisters and a brother in the dusty village of Fairlie, about 40 miles from the nearest town. Being a girl in an African village meant girls' chores: fetching water, washing dishes, cleaning the house. But in her free time, she ran off to play soccer with the boys.

The newspaper Beeld quoted high school principal Eric Modiba as saying that Semenya always wore pants instead of skirts, played rough-and-tumble with the boys and that he didn't realize she was a girl until she was in the 11th grade.

Friends and family say Semenya went for long runs in the countryside, often alone. If the teasing hurt her, she kept the pain hidden, said her grandmother Maputhi Sekgala.

Her mother watched Wednesday's world championship race on television, shedding tears of joy when Semenya streaked to victory.

"I am very happy," she said in a phone interview with The Times. "I feel I am in the . . . " She trailed off, searching for words. "I don't know what to say, that's what."

She refused to let the questions about her daughter's gender dilute the moment of triumph.

"They're jealous of my daughter," she said. "It's the first girl in the black people doing such things. That's why they say those things."

Nick Davies, spokesman for the IAAF, said it was clear that whatever the results of the gender tests, "clearly it was not her fault."

"It's a medical issue. You're talking about someone's life. She was born, christened and grew up a woman," he said in an interview with the BBC. The aim of the tests, he said, was to discover whether anything gave her an unfair advantage.

The tests may be particularly intrusive for a teenager from a rural family who burst onto the international scene only last month, winning a race at the African Junior Championships in Mauritius.

Hennie Kriel, manager of the University of Pretoria athletics club where Semenya trains, said she joined the club in January. When she arrived, she was not a world-class runner, he said, but she worked hard and developed quickly. She trains on the same track as double-leg-amputee Oscar Pistorius, whose effort to make South Africa's Olympic team last year created its own controversy.

Kriel said he met Semenya and her coach after she started training in January and that the issue of gender was discussed. He was satisfied that she is a woman.

"I discussed that with her and her coach and Athletics South Africa. We were all happy that things were fine," he said in a phone interview.

South Africans have rallied around Semenya, angered by Western judgments over the appearance of an African woman. For many black South Africans, the questions about her gender and identity are culturally inappropriate and demeaning. Many feel the issue has been handled insensitively.

Both South Africa's ruling ANC party and the Young Communist League of South Africa have backed the runner.

"It feeds into the commercial stereotypes of how a woman should look, their facial and physical appearance, as perpetuated by backward Eurocentric definition of beauty.

"It is this culture which has forced many African women to starve themselves with the objective of reaching the model ramps of Paris and Milan to become the face of this or that product or magazine," the league said.

Athletics South Africa President Leonard Chuene, speaking by phone from Berlin, said Semenya was an inspiration to rural girls, some of the most powerless and disadvantaged people in the country, yet she was being raked over the coals with questions on her gender.

"I'm angry. I'm fuming. This girl has been castigated from day one, based on what?" Chuene said. "There's no scientific evidence. You can't say somebody's child is not a girl. You denounce my child as a boy when she's a girl? If you did that to my child, I'd shoot you."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Morning Wood Acres: August 20, 2009


Country living has taught me to appreciate the simple things in life:

A cat sleeping on my lap.

The sound of the ducks fussing at each other wafting through the kitchen window.

My husband fixing the toilet so I don't have to hold the handle down when I flush.

Life is good.

Judge Sets January Date for Prop 8 Trial


(From PinkNews)

"A California judge has set a date in January 2010 for a lawsuit challenging the state's ban on gay marriage.

The case, brought by two gay couples who argue the ban violates their constitutional rights, will be heard on January 11th.

US district judge Vaughn Walker told the couples' lawyers and supporters of the ban to immediately begin exchanging evidence and interviewing each other's witnesses.

He barred a number of gay rights groups and social conservatives from joining the case, saying both sides were adequately represented.

Walker also appealed to California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger to give his "thoughts and views". Although Schwarzenegger supports gay marriage, he has said his administration will remain neutral during the case.

The gay couples are being represented by Ted Olson and David Boies. The two have joined forces after going head to head in the Bush v Gore case of 2000. The choice of the pair, with Olson a conservative and Boies a liberal, is seen to make the point that the lawsuit is a human rights issue rather than a case of left against right or Democrat against Republican.

The gay couples are Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, of northern California, and Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo, who live in southern California."

Gay marriage was legalised in California in May 2008. However, Prop 8 defined marriage as being between a man and a woman last November. Supporters of gay marriage argued the initiative was unconstitutional and discriminatory.

In May, Supreme Court judges rejected an argument from gay marriage supporters that the ban was unconstitutional but unanimously ruled that the 18,000 gay couples who married while gay marriage was legal will stay wed.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Barney Frank Deals Town Hall Smackdown


All summer long we've been hearing news about right-wing nut-jobs and their insane rantings at town hall meetings called by elected officials to discuss health care reform. Thanks to folks like Ex-Gov. Sarah "I'm-a-loser-and-a-quitter" Palin and Rush "Bow-down-and-worship-me" Limbaugh, efforts to educate the public about Pres. Obama's proposed health care overhaul have been met with shouting matches, accusations of socialism, paranoia about death panels pulling the plug on Grandma and comparisons to Nazis.

When faced with the lunatic fringe (or what Republicans call their base) doing their best Chicken Little impressions, most Democrats have turned tail and skipped out the service entrance.

Leave it to Congressman Barney Frank to put these idiots in their place. Love him or hate him, you've gotta admit that Barney's got more balls than Bill and Hilary Clinton combined. Check it out:






John Edwards' Baby Momma Moving To Be Near Her Baby Daddy


This just in from the National Enquirer (so you know it's true).
"John Edwards is moving the mother of his love child into his North Carolina neighborhood and will help raise their baby, The ENQUIRER reports exclusively.

In a stunning change of heart, the disgraced 2 time presidential candidate loser - who's denied being the child's father for more than a year - has embraced fatherhood and wants to be intimately involved in the life of daughter.

The ENQUIRER also learned that his cancer-stricken wife Elizabeth exploded in a rage when he told her of his parenting plans and that he's moving his mistress and baby to Wilmington, near his plush $2.6 million mansion."

Breaking: LGBT Groups Disappointed By Court’s Denial To Join Federal Prop 8 Case


SAN FRANCISCO — Today Judge Vaughn R. Walker of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco denied the request of Our Family Coalition; Lavender Seniors of the East Bay; and Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) to join Perry v. Schwarzenegger, a federal lawsuit challenging California’s Proposition 8.


A statement by Lambda Legal, the ACLU and the National Center for Lesbian Rights:


On behalf of our clients, we are disappointed that the court did not permit organizations that represent California’s diverse lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community to participate in the case as the Court weighs the harms inflicted by Proposition 8. The significance of this case for our entire community is enormous. To exclude the people whose very freedom is at stake is troubling.


Our commitment to restoring marriage for all Californians is unwavering, and we will continue to do everything within our power to secure full equality and justice for LGBT people.

Survivor Whiner, er... Winner Richard Hatch says Tax Evasion Trial Judge was Homophobic


Survivor's, Richard Hatch says the only reason he was jailed for not paying taxes on his $1 million reality show winnings is because he's gay.

Reality TV's official "Ugly Naked Guy" told The Today Show's Matt Lauer that the judge in the case had a homophobic agenda. "My personal opinion - he was trying to discriminate against me," Hatch said. "I don't think you or anyone else can deny that we, as homosexuals, face discrimination."

Hatch added, "I know without question that there are personal issues involved for the prosecutor. I don't know why. The prosecutorial misconduct has been egregious."

That's right, Richard. The U.S. government does have a long homophobic history and gays and lesbians do face discrimination on a daily basis. That's why LGBT-Americans feel so disenfranchised as law-abiding, tax-paying citizens. We work hard, contribute to the community, treat others with respect and demand the full and equal status from our government.

Because we pay our taxes, we deserve equal treatment under the law, regardless of the petty personal agendas of those who don't like us. Even though LGBT couples still can't legally file jointly, we pay our taxes anyway.

It's so unfair.

By the way, Richard, Tax Day is April 15th next year. You might want to write it down.

Music Video: "Freedom Is Mine" by Charles Gray

Have you ever Googled an old friend just to see what they're up to? It's especially hard when they have a name that's fairly common. Tonight I Googled my old friend Charles Gray. Not the British actor who played the narrator from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show".

This Charles Gray, from Annapolis, MD, is an immensely talented, classically-trained singer, Broadway actor and dancer that I was lucky enough to know back in high school. We dated for a few months during senior year, and remained best friends for many years afterward. He was the one who showed me that there was more to me than my family ever gave me credit for. I will always love him for that.

Our mothers were neighbors for several years back in Maryland and now and then I'd hear bits and pieces about the shows he was performing in all over the world. Charles appeared in the original Broadway production of "The Color Purple", shared the stage with Brooke Shields in "Grease" as the Teen Angel, toured Ireland in "Riverdance", and was in the road company of "Five Guys Named Moe", which I saw him perform in several years ago when it played at Ford's Theater in Washington, DC.

We haven't seen each other in a while, but my Google search found this video of what he's been up to lately. You can check out the rest of Charles' music on his MySpace page.



Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Durham, NC Council Passes Resolution Supporting Same-sex Marriage

The debate over who should be able to wed legally took center stage Monday evening as the Durham City Council passed a resolution supporting same-sex marriage.

Joshua Weaver asked the council to consider the resolution in April.

"I want the American dream. I want to be able to get married and have that big house with a couple of kids playing in the yard, and that is why it is so important to me. For someone to tell me that I can't do that (because I'm gay), I just don't think that's right,” Weaver said.

Same-sex marriage is legal in Connecticut, Iowa and Massachusetts. Beginning in September, it will also be legal in Vermont and Maine.

Durham council members do not have the authority to change state law, but Monday’s resolution was aimed at showing support for same-sex marriages. Chapel Hill and Carrboro have also passed resolutions supporting same-sex marriage.

"I think what it says is that Durham is a community that is very diverse. We are accepting of a lot of different opinions and beliefs,” Mayor Bill Bell said.

However, not everyone was in favor of the resolution.

"There are many of us who are Christians and we are totally against the same-sex marriages, constitutionally as well as biblically,” Durham resident Victoria Peterson said at the meeting.

The executive director of the John W. Pope Civitas Institute, a conservative public policy advocate, also spoke against the resolution.

"This resolution flies in face of public opinion. As a large majority of North Carolinians of all backgrounds and parties oppose defining marriage as anything except marriage between one man and one woman," Francis De Luca, executive director of the Civitas Institute, said in a statement.

De Luca has backed proposed legislation for a state constitutional amendment that would clarify a valid marriage as one only between a man and woman.

Introduced this year into the General Assembly, Senate Bill 272, "The Defense of Marriage Act," and a similar House bill – failed to make it through legislative committees.

Proponents of the bill – including NC4Marriage, a bipartisan coalition of voters, lawmakers and clergy, have argued that it will protect marriage and protect children from being taught in schools that homosexuality is normal and that a same-sex union is the moral and legal equivalent to marriage.

Meanwhile, North Carolinians appear to be split on the issue.

An Elon University poll in March found that 50.4 percent of respondents opposed a voter-approved amendment protecting marriage while more than 43 percent supported it.

While respondents opposed the amendment, only 21 percent of said they support full marriage rights for same-sex couples. About 28 percent said they would support civil unions or partnerships but not marriage. About 44 percent of respondents said they oppose any legal recognition for same-sex couples."



No, you're not having an LSD flashback...


Some of you are probably wondering why you keep hearing the Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" every time you visit the site. It's not my new theme song, although that might be pretty cool.

On Sunday, I posted a video of the band's performance of the song at Woodstock to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the event. What I didn't know at the time was that this particular video is set on auto, so that it runs whenever you pull up the site. I thought about changing it, but it's a relatively short clip at about 2 1/2 minutes. When the posting gets archived later this week, you won't hear it unless you click on it in the archive list.

Here's an interesting bit of trivia. "White Rabbit" is actually an anti-drug song, the first in rock and roll history. In the psychedelic 60's when LSD guru Timothy Leary urged kids to "tune in, turn on and drop out", it was a bold move for a band to take the opposite position.

The song was Grace Slick's response to a question about why kids were taking hallucinatory drugs. In her view, parents who read fairy tales like "Alice in Wonderland" to their kids while hording prescription drugs in their medicine cabinets were actually encouraging the behavior.

Update: Replaced the video with another. I still love it, but it was interfering with other videos I posted.
 
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