Archive for April 2007

Two thousand seven hundred forty dead. Today. Same tomorrow…

April 25, 2007

Africa Malaria Day 2007

UNICEF Image
© UNICEF/ HQ04-1276/Giacomo Pirozzi
Katuwala Saruwai, 10, embraces his sleeping baby brother Kalu at a local health clinic in the Trobriand Islands in Milne Bay Province. Ten-month-old Kalu is suffering from severe malaria, a primary cause of child deaths in the country.

Malaria kills over one million people each year worldwide. More than 80 per cent of these deaths take place in Sub-Saharan Africa and most are among children under five years of age. An African child dies of malaria every 30 seconds.Malaria is one of the biggest killers of children in Africa, accounting for nearly one in five of the continent’s child deaths.

Yet this disease is both preventable and treatable. The solutions are available. For just US$10, a child can be protected against malaria by a long-lasting, insecticide-treated bed net (ITN). And an infected child can be treated with Artemisinin-based combination therapies (ACTs).

The good news is that there was a ten-fold increase in ITN distribution in sub-Saharan Africa between 1999 and 2003, and surveys in 2005 and 2006 are expected to even more progress. Countries such as Malawi, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo and Zambia have made great strides on the percentage of children sleeping under ITNs. Ethiopia, a country with around nine million malaria infections each year, quadrupled the number of ITNs distributed from 1.8 million in 2004 to 8 million by the end of 2006. This year’s target: 20 million.

But challenges remain, including the challenge of reaching children in remote areas with the prevention, testing and treatment that they need. Then there is the funding gap. An estimated US$ 3.2 billion is needed worldwide each year to fund the fight against malaria in the countries with the highest disease burden – US$ 1.9 billion for Africa alone. While funding has increased over the past decade, thanks to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria, the US President’s Initiative, the World Bank, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and others, estimates suggest that international funding for malaria control stood at only around US$ 600 million in 2004.

UNICEF is not only calling for greater resources for malaria control, but also for an integrated approach to combat the disease. Malaria control should be part of integrated, community-based health programmes. UNICEF supports integrated child survival programming, including ITN distribution alongside measles vaccination campaigns and routine immunization and as part of antenatal care and early detection and improved treatment through the integrated management of childhood illnesses, looking at the health needs of the child as a whole, rather than focusing on one specific health issue.

UNICEF works closely with national governments and with partnerships such as Malaria no More and Roll Back Malaria to scale up the availability of ITNs and ACTs and ensure that malaria is high on every national health agenda.

UNICEF is the world’s largest procurer and deliverer of ITNs, with over 24 million ITNs procured in 2006. More than 90 per cent of these were long-lasting, requiring no re-treatment.

For further information, please contact:

Angela Hawke, Press Officer, UNICEF NY: Tel + 1 212-326-7269; email ahawke@unicef.org

Jessica Malter, Press Officer, UNICEF New York: Tel +1 212-326-7412; email jmalter@unicef.org

Related press releases and news notes:

28 March 2007 – Spread the Net purchases 33,000 anti-malarial bed nets for Liberia 1

27 November 2006 – Fight against Malaria – A priority in Guinea-Bissau 2

9 November 2006 – Belinda Stronach and Rick Mercer launch anti-malarial bednet campaign:“Spread the Net” with UNICEF Canada 3

6 November 2006 – Serena Williams joins the fight against malaria in Ghana 4

28 September 2006 – Ethiopia can beat its biggest killer with historic push – UNICEF 5

8 July 2006 – Partners team up in Kenya to fights measles and malaria

NOT Off the Table — Strategies to Impeach Bush AND Cheney

April 24, 2007

Despite Nancy Pelosi’s early assertion that impeachment is “off the table,” it’s clear to me that we as a nation have moved beyond that initial statement. It’s bigger than any one person (in this case the Speaker of the House). Bush and Cheney are inept and corrupt and evil, and those they have put into decision-making positions are likewise inept and corrupt and evil. They all need to be swept from power, while there is still an America, and still a world.

As of last Friday, the number of dead Americans serving in the military in Iraq in April was sixty-five. Ten of those were from my home state of California, including two from the nearby town where I grew up, and one from the nearby town where I go to church. The average age of these dead soldiers was 24.84 years old. The youngest was 18 years old: Steven Walberg from Paradise, California (an irony in itself); the oldest was Philip Murphy-Sweet, a 42-year-old from Caldwell, Idaho.

George Bush and his meaningless war killed these heroes. This war is a series of high crimes and misdemeanors. It was never time for Bush to be IN office, and now it’s clearly time for him — and all of those in this administration — to go.

Urge your representative in Congress to do the right thing and impeach — and convict — these officeholders.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

ANALYSIS: US Rep. Kucinich’s Shift Towards Impeachment

By Matthew Cardinale, News Editor and National Correspondent,
Atlanta Progressive News
April 23, 2007

(APN) ATLANTA – US Rep. Kucinich (D-OH) is about to unveil Articles of Impeachment against Vice President of the United States Dick Cheney at a press conference tomorrow, Tuesday, April 24, 2007. Both Kucinich’s Campaign and Congressional Offices have thus far maintained a veil of secrecy about the rationale for the Articles.

Kucinich’s step is certainly bold and substantively appropriate, but it is only one stage in what has been the Congressman’s shifting in political posture towards impeachment as a remedy to the abuses of the Bush Administration.

This, of course, may still not be the end of the shift, because Bush himself still hasn’t been recommended for impeachment yet in this Congressional Session.

To illustrate this shift, consider the Congressman and Presidential Candidate did not cosponsor H Res 635, the bill in the 109th Congressional Session, which had 39 total cosponsors and would have created a Select Committee to look into the possible grounds for impeaching Bush. The bill charged Bush with misleading the public on the need to invade Iraq, retaliating against public officials who disagree with him, and encouraging torture.

Kucinich was one of 31 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus who chose NOT sign on to H Res. 635 at the time. The other 31 members, or exactly one half, of the Caucus did sign on.

The 39 total co-sponsors of H Res. 635 were US Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA), Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA), Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA), Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA), Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), Rep. Jackson, Jr., (D-IL), Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Rep. James Oberstar (D-MN), Rep. John Olver (D-MA), Rep. Major Owens (D-NY), Rep. Donald Payne (D-NJ), Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Steve Rothman (D-NJ), Rep. Martin Sabo (D-MN), Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA), Rep. Fortney Pete Stark (D-CA), Rep. John Tierney (D-MA), Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Dianne Watson (D-CA), Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), and Rep. David Wu (D-OR).

Kucinich also did not cosponsor former US Rep. Cynthia McKinney’s bill which called for Bush’s impeachment. Congresswoman McKinney shifted towards the idea of impeachment herself, telling APN that she first considered the idea in 2001 and her mother begged her not to do it.

Over the last year or so, Atlanta Progressive News has asked multiple sources as to why Kucinich chose not to support impeaching Bush.

One source close to the Kucinich Campaign told APN that Kucinich did not want to impeach Bush because of his belief in forgiveness and redemption and that even Bush could be redeemed.

The Kucinich Campaign also responded to an inquiry from one APN reader who contacted them several months ago, asking why the Congressman wouldn’t support impeachment.

“I have been watching intently the tally of Congress people who have signed on as sponsors or co-sponsors of H. Res 635, which would create a Select Committee to look into the grounds for recommending President Bush’s impeachment. So far there are 36. I notice that you are not among them and I find this to be virtually unfathomable. Is there some reason you are reluctant to do this?” Lyn Bernstein sent in an email to the Kucinich Campaign on May 02, 2006.

“It is my understanding that Congressman Kucinich is working for major systemic change rather than mere personnel changes. Also, he does not support efforts which are basically set up to rip people apart,” replied Kucinich volunteer, Gail Heyn, adding she did not speak on behalf of the Congressional Office.

A few weeks ago, the Kucinich for President 2008 Campaign released a remarkable YouTube video in which the Congressman asks Americans to provide him with feedback on the question “Is it time” for impeachment.

In the YouTube video, Kucinich said he was troubled by the prevailing idea in Congress that impeachment should be “off the table,” while an invasion of Iran should be left on the table.

At that time, it wasn’t clear why Iran was seen as a reason for impeachment now, when the Invasion of Iraq–which has been equally atrocious as well as fraudulent–was not mentioned as a potential reason.

Now, it’s not clear why Cheney is the sole target of impeachment and not Bush.

It will be fascinating to see which Members of Congress, if any, will support Kucinich’s bill. It will also be interesting to see whether the discussion of impeaching Cheney leads to possibly also impeaching Bush.

One function of Kucinich’s introduction of the Articles will be break the silence on the “I” word, which had been demanded by US Rep. Pelosi. It was largely viewed that US Rep. Conyers, the original sponsor of H Res 635, dropped his bill out of respect to Pelosi and his desire to be appointed Chair of the Judiciary Committee. Moreover, several Members of Congress have stated that they have followed in Conyers’s steps in choosing not to introduce similar bills of their own.

According to APN’s analysis, there are currently four (4) Members of Congress who would be willing to support impeachment. US Rep. Kucinich has been one of the people on the list for some time and we can now reveal this to our readers. US Rep. John Lewis told an Atlanta-based radio station WAOK that he would support Articles of Impeachment should they be introduced, although he did not support his colleague Cynthia McKinney’s bill when it was introduced. The other two Representatives cannot be named at this time.

One of the main arguments against is impeaching Bush is regarding the possibility of a President Cheney; however, the bill to impeach Cheney would eliminate this issue.

At the same time, when Pelosi said impeachment was off the table, implicitly she meant the impeachment of Bush.

For Kucinich to introduce Articles of Impeachment against Cheney is, thus, in a way, dispelling the stigma of impeachment, because many Members of Congress may be more inclined to support impeaching Cheney. It also brings up the general idea of impeachment into the mainstream media dialogue.

The corporate media almost completely ignored H Res 635. US Rep. Conyers recognized Atlanta Progressive News on his blog for being the only media outlet at the time to regularly cover this bill.

Last week, it was actually a blog on the WashingtonPost.com website, which revealed that Kucinich had sent a letter to other Members of Congress indicating his intent to file the Articles of Impeachment against Cheney.

Kucinich’s Congressional Office declined to comment at this time, and his Campaign was not expected to respond prior to the official announcement.

About the author:

Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor and National Correspondent for Atlanta Progressive News and may be reached at matthew@atlantaprogressivenews.com.

The Bloodiest Day… part 1

April 19, 2007

In no way am I downplaying the importance of the story at Virginia Tech this week. It sickened me. I watched the television coverage until I was so numb that I couldn’t watch it any longer. I haven’t seen any of the material that was sent to NBC–and I don’t care to see any of it.

But where is the parallel outrage, where is the sorrow over the Iraqi people who are dying? More than 140 people dead, and another 150-plus injured in one incident. (see post)

And then… there have already been 50 Americans who have died THIS MONTH in Iraq. (see post)

Where is the righteous indignation about the perpetrator of THIS violent act? One that, unlike the one in Virginia, will not be ending soon.

The Bloodiest Day… part 2

April 19, 2007

Car bombs kill nearly 200 in deadliest Iraq attacks

From correspondents in Iraq

April 19, 2007

  • 190 killed in attacks in Shiite districts
  • ‘Swimming pool of blood’ at crowded market
  • Iraqi PM blames extremist “vampires”

FOUR car bombs detonated in a co-ordinated attack have killed more than 190 people in Baghdad in the deadliest attacks in the city since US and Iraqi forces launched a security crackdown aimed at halting the country’s slide into sectarian civil war.

One car bomb alone at a bustling market in the mainly Shiite Sadriya neighbourhood killed 140 people and wounded 150, police have said.

“The street was transformed into a swimming pool of blood,” said Ahmed Hameed, a shopkeeper near the scene.

Among the other attacks to have struck the capital, police have said a suicide car bomber killed 35 people and wounded more than 70 at a checkpoint in Sadr City, stronghold of the firebrand cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

More were reported killed in two other attacks. All were apparently timed to coincide with each other, hours after Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Iraq would take security control of the whole country from foreign forces by the end of the year.

Mr Maliki blamed the attacks on infidels and Sunni extremist “vampires” and said the Iraqi Army commander responsible for the area had been detained and would be investigated over the “weakness” of his protection of civilians.

“This monstrous attack today did not distinguish between the old and young, between men and women. It targeted the population in a way that reminds us of the massacres and genocide committed by the former dictatorship,” he said.

Mr Maliki is under growing pressure to say when US troops will leave, but the attacks in mainly Shiite areas of Baghdad underscored the huge security challenges.

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said the US will not be shaken from its mission of pacifying sectarian tensions in Iraq and would push on with its new strategy to do so, in which 80,000 US and Iraqi troops are patrolling Iraqi streets.

“We have anticipated from the very beginning… that the insurgency and others would increase the violence to make the people of Iraq believe the plan is a failure,” he has said.

“We intend to persist to show that it is not.”

Burned alive

“I saw dozens of dead bodies. Some people were burned alive inside minibuses. Nobody could reach them after the explosion,” said a witness at Sadriya, describing scenes of mayhem at an intersection where the bomb exploded.

“There were pieces of flesh all over the place. Women were screaming and shouting for their loved ones who died,” said the witness who did not wish to be identified, adding many of the dead were women and children.

Firefighters doused nearby cars and buses, as dozens of ambulances and pick-up trucks ferried wounded to hospital and volunteers wrapped charred bodies in carpets for transport to the city’s overflowing mortuaries.

One man waving his arms in the air screamed hysterically: “Where’s Maliki? Let him come and see what is happening here.”

“Where is the security plan? We are not protected by this plan,” the bereaved shouted.

US and Iraqi forces began deploying thousands more troops onto Baghdad’s streets in February.

US military spokesman Rear Admiral Mark Fox has admitted commanders were frustrated at their inability to prevent such car bombings, but insisted Iraq was not witnessing any further escalation of sectarian violence.

Al-Qaeda is blamed for most of the major bombings targeting Shiites in Iraq and there are fears Sadr’s Mehdi Army – which numbers in the tens of thousands – may take to the streets to retaliate.

“There is no magic solution to put out the fire of sectarian sedition that some are trying to set up, especially al Qaeda,” Mr Maliki said in a speech made on his behalf before the attacks.

The Sadriya bombing was the highest death toll in a single attack in Baghdad since a truck bomb killed 135 people in the same area on February 3.

– Reuters and AFP

The Bloodiest Day… part 3

April 19, 2007

American Casualties in Iraq
April 1-17, 2007

NAME

AGE

HOMETOWN

HOME STATE

James T. Lindsey

20

Florence

Alabama

Harrison Brown

31

Prichard

Alabama

Ismael G. Solorio

21

San Luis

Arizona

Damian Lopez Rodriguez

Tucson

Arizona

Rodney L. McCandless

21

Camden

Arkansas

Gabriel J. Figueroa

20

Baldwin Park

California

Curtis R. Spivey

25

Chula Vista

California

Walter Freeman, Jr.

20

Lancaster

California

Daniel J. Santee

21

Mission Viejo

California

Jesse L. Williams

25

Santa Rosa

California

James J. Coon

22

Walnut Creek

California

Derek A. Gibson

20

Eustis

Florida

Joseph A. McSween

26

Valdosta

Georgia

Jay S. Cajimat

20

Lahaina

Hawaii

Curtis R. Hall

24

Burley

Idaho

Philip A. Murphy-Sweet

42

Caldwell

Idaho

David N. Simmons

20

Kokomo

Indiana

Jason J. Beadles

22

La Porte

Indiana

Bradley D. King

28

Marion

Indiana

Joseph H. Cantrell IV

23

Ashland

Kentucky

William G. Bowling

24

Beattyville

Kentucky

Gregory J. Billiter

36

Villa Hills

Kentucky

Phillip I. Neel

27

Maryland

Maryland

Gwilym J. Newman

24

Waldorf

Maryland

Anthony Palermo

26

Brockton

Massachusetts

Adam P. Kennedy

25

Norfolk

Massachusetts

Joseph C. Schwedler

27

Crystal Falls

Michigan

Levi K. Hoover

23

Midland

Michigan

Todd A. Singleton

24

Muskegon

Michigan

Daniel R. Olsen

20

Eagan

Minnesota

Jerry C. Burge

39

Carriere

Mississippi

Shane R. Becker

35

Helena

Montana

Kyle G. Bohrnsen

22

Philipsburg

Montana

Jonathan D. Grassbaugh

25

East Hampstead

New Hampshire

Miguel A. Marcial III

19

Secaucus

New Jersey

Clifford A. Spohn III

21

Albuquerque

New Mexico

Daniel A. Fuentes

19

Levittown

New York

Brian E. Ritzberg

24

Long Island

New York

Brian L. Holden

20

Claremont

North Carolina

Larry R. Bowman

29

Granite Falls

North Carolina

Ebe F. Emolo

33

Greensboro

North Carolina

Eric R. Vick

25

Spring Hope

North Carolina

Ryan S. Dallam

24

Norman

Oklahoma

Brett A. Walton

37

Hillsboro

Oregon

Jason A. Shaffer

28

Derry

Pennsylvania

Robert M. McDowell

30

Deer Park

Texas

Jason R. Arnette

24

Amelia

Virginia

Forrest D. Cauthorn

22

Midlothian

Virginia

Raymond S. Sevaaetasi

29

Pago Pago

American Samoa

David A. Mejias

26

San Juan

Puerto Rico

Thanks in part to Soulforce, BYU changes honor code about gay students

April 18, 2007

Three weeks after an on-campus visit from Soulforce during their second annual Equality Ride, Brigham Young University has tweaked its honor code statement about homosexuality. Certainly this change doesn’t change the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) into an open-arms community for LGBT people, but it’s a positive step.

I can’t imagine how bad it would be to be a sexual minority kid growing up Mormon, especially in  Salt Lake City.

I knew a man in the 1970s who was gay; he had been a grad student at BYU, and had gotten kicked out when he was discovered to be queer. At that time, he was very close to completing his Ph.D., but–because it was an honor code violation–they refused to credential the coursework that he had completed, so he couldn’t transfer any of his credits to another school. Having moved out of the area (and having my own life trauma at the time, the result of my own coming out), I lost touch with him, but I believe that he never completed his doctorate.

So I hope that this action on the part of BYU will mean that this never happens to another student. And that it’s a step on the road, not  the end of their progress there.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

BYU changes honor code text about gay students
It now says stated orientation is not an issue and clarifies which actions are violations

By Julia Lyon
The Salt Lake Tribune
Salt Lake Tribune
4/17/2007

What a difference just a few sentences can make.

A small but significant change in how Brigham Young University’s honor code may be applied clarifies gay students’ status just weeks after gay-rights advocates were arrested at the school.

The changes, which condemn behavior rather than sexual orientation, “remove a lot of the Gestapo atmosphere from the campus,” said Brett Condron, a BYU freshman.

The new section of the honor code application reads, in part: “Brigham Young University will respond to homosexual behavior rather than to feelings or orientation and welcomes as full members of the university community all whose behavior meets university standards… One’s stated sexual orientation is not an Honor Code issue. However, the Honor Code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity.”

The honor code is a set of rules students and staff at the school owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are expected to follow in order to live the “moral virtues encompassed in the gospel of Jesus Christ.” The honor code’s applications clarify the short set of rules. Students who disregard the code can be put on probation and, in rare situations, suspended.

Prior to the honor code application change, the section on homosexual behavior or advocacy read, in part: “Brigham Young University will respond to student behavior rather than to feelings or orientation… Advocacy of a homosexual lifestyle (whether implied or explicit) or any behaviors that indicate homosexual conduct, including those not sexual in nature, are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code.”

That version had too many holes leading to individual interpretation, students said.

In March, a mother and son from Kanab were cited with trespassing after trying to deliver a list of concerns from former and current gay BYU students about their treatment at the school. Their actions followed the arrest last year of 29 members of Soulforce Equality Riders, the group that also organized this year’s event.

BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said the revision is not related to Soulforce. Instead, it reflects the school’s response to student questions and concerns.

“I think what it does, it better explains our position,” she said.

Such changes occur on an ongoing basis. On Monday, students praised the administration’s willingness to listen.

“With the previous honor code there was a lot of fear attached to it,” said David Hulet, a senior. “[Now] we have clarity and understanding of what is acceptable and what isn’t.”

A former BYU student who is now an attorney in Seattle, Nick Literski was among bloggers buzzing about the news. Literski, a gay man who has withdrawn his membership from the church, said his daughter will attend the school this fall.

“What it’s reflecting is there’s a growing disconnect between church position on homosexuality versus what individual members are coming to see,” he said in a phone interview.

“As more and more members of the LDS Church are coming to know individuals who are gay and finding out that they’re human, that these are people just like them, that they’re good people, it becomes difficult for them to demonize homosexuality the way the church positions do.”

* JULIA LYON can be contacted at jlyon@sltrib.com or 801-257-8748.

Brigham Young University will respond to student behavior rather than to feelings or orientation.
Students can be enrolled at the University and remain in good Honor Code standing if they maintain a current ecclesiastical endorsement and conduct their lives in a manner consistent with gospel principles and the Honor Code. Advocacy of a homosexual lifestyle (whether implied or explicit) or any behaviors that indicate homosexual conduct, including those not sexual in nature, are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code.

New statement:

Brigham Young University will respond to homosexual behavior rather than to feelings or orientation and welcomes as full members of the university community all whose behavior meets university standards. Members of the university community can remain in good Honor Code standing if they conduct their lives in a manner consistent with gospel principles and the Honor Code.

One’s stated sexual orientation is not an Honor Code issue. However, the Honor Code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity. Homosexual behavior or advocacy of homosexual behavior are inappropriate and violate the Honor Code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings. Advocacy includes seeking to influence others to engage in homosexual behavior or promoting homosexual relations as being morally acceptable.

http://www.sltrib.com/news/ci_5684555

Rowan Williams to meet liberal bishops over gays

April 17, 2007

Melinda and I were in England in 2003 when Jeffrey John was elected as Bishop of Reading. It was widely known–both within the church and outside–that he is gay, and that his partner is another Anglican priest (although they don’t live together and never have, and profess to be non-sexual in their 20-plus-year relationship). Well, the conservatives went ballistic, using the old standby threat to storm out of the Communion.

[Sidebar: at that time, there was a cartoon in the Times of London on the front page, accompanying the article on the subject, in which this unsavory grizzled old man in clerical garb complete with tall pointed hat with a cross on it was sitting at the pub, leaning forward across the bar, smoking a cigarette, drinking, complete with beard stubble and flies circling around; the caption showed him saying something like, “I’ve just been appointed Bishop. Thank God I’m not gay.”]

Rowan Williams called Jeffrey John to London, where they had an hours-long meeting (five or six, as I recall), after which John announced that he would continue as priest but would not be serving as bishop. On television, John was shown making his announcement standing outside at the top of some steps, with all of the media people arrayed before him; Williams was a presence back behind him at the door, almost hiding–trademark eyebrows were the most evident feature.

People who knew both of them said that Williams had pulled every card from the deck, using “psychological torture tactics” to get John–a very strong character himself–to back down; these same people said that Jeffrey John would be fine, but that Rowan Williams was most likely changed forever, since he had been identified with the liberal wing of the denomination up to that incident.

Everything that has happened since then has, in my opinion, demonstrated this to be true. Of course, even though I have been disappointed with him as archbishop, I have great empathy for Williams–being in what is clearly a no-win position.

It will be interesting to see if this meeting does take place and what will come out of it.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Williams to meet liberal bishops over gays

By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent

The Archbishop of Canterbury bowed to mounting pressure today and agreed to meet the liberal American Anglican bishops in a last-ditch bid to prevent a disastrous split over homosexuality.

In a move that will dismay conservatives, Dr Rowan Williams said that he will meet the Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops later this year even though they are still refusing to toe the majority line on gays.

Speaking at a press conference in Toronto, Dr Williams, who is on a short trip to Canada, said: “These are complicated days for our Church internationally and it’s all the more important to keep up personal relationships and conversations …

“My aim is to try and keep people around the table for as long as possible on this, to understand one another, and to encourage local churches.”

Although no date was mentioned, it is understood that he will fly to America in September, accompanied by a small group of primates and senior advisors. Conservatives said they feared that Dr Williams will succumb to American pressure and weaken the hard line taken by the Anglican primates at their summit meeting in Tanzania in February.

One conservative leader said: “The worldwide Church is unraveling fast and he is doing nothing stop it.”

At the summit, the primates, the heads of the 38 provinces that make up the Anglican Communion, issued an ultimatum to the American bishops, giving them until the end of September to reverse their pro-gay agenda or face expulsion from the worldwide Church.

The Americans last month rejected a key part of the primates’ plan, saying that they could not accept to the creation of a “parallel” Church for conservatives in America who have rejected their liberal leadership.

They have yet to respond to the primates’ demand that they unequivocally agree to moratoriums on the consecration of actively gay bishops and on same-sex blessings, though a number have said they will not exclude gays.

They also called for an urgent meeting with Dr Williams and senior primates, complaining that he has listened far more intently to the conservative wing of the Church.

Dr Williams described their initial response to the primates’ ultimatum as “discouraging” and said that the situation needed further clarification.

Pressure on him to agree to the meeting with the American bishops before the September deadline mounted after they learned that he was taking June and July off as study leave and August as annual holiday.

Archbishop Andrew Hutchison, the liberal primate of Canada, urged Dr Williams to hold the meeting a week ago, just before Dr Williams’ trip to Toronto and Niagara to deliver a spiritual retreat to the Canadian bishops.

He also called on Dr Williams to postpone next year’s Lambeth Conference, the ten-yearly gathering of all Anglican bishops in Canterbury, in an effort to defuse tensions.

In a lecture to theology students in Toronto this evening, Dr Williams warned both conservatives and liberals against “rootless” and “limited” interpretations of the Bible on issues such as homosexuality.

“Take Scripture out of this context of the invitation to sit at table with Jesus and to be incorporated into his labour and suffering for the Kingdom, and you will be treating Scripture as either simply an inspired supernatural guide for individual conduct or a piece of detached historical record – the typical exaggerations of Biblicist and liberal approaches respectively,” he said.

“For the former, the work of the Spirit is more or less restricted to the transformation of the particular believer; for the latter, the life of the community is where the Spirit is primarily to be heard and discerned, with Scripture an illuminating adjunct at certain points.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/04/16/ngays116.xml

Iraq: a hard place… especially for queers

April 16, 2007

I’Iraqi LGBTve written about this before. Sadly, it appears to be getting worse…

The website for the organization Iraqi–LGBT can be found at http://iraqilgbtuk.blogspot.com/. News is available there, as well as a donation link.

“Sexual cleansing” of gays in Iraq

by: RadicalRuss

Mon Apr 16, 2007 at 15:24:14 PM EDT

It’s a good thing for the homosexuals of Iraq that we liberated them from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein and gave them freedom, democracy, and purple fingers, huh?

“In the past three months, more than 30 gays have been executed in Baghdad. The bodies have been found tortured, mutilated – sometimes with signs of rape,” said Mustafa Salim, spokesman for the Rainbow for Life Organisation (RLO), a Baghdad-based gay rights NGO.

“Notes were found near some of the bodies with messages saying that this is going to be the fate for any Muslim who denies the Islamic religion,” Salim added.

“The gay community continues to be subjected to systematic terror by Shia militias, especially the Mahdy Army controlled by the religious leader Muqtada al-Sadr. The government of Iraq is refusing to offer protection,” he added.

In an interview, one member of the Mahdy Army, Ali Hassany, said that the militia will target Iraq’s gays and lesbians. “They deserve death. Those people are an embarrassment to our society. Killing such people is a job for their families, but if they cannot do so by their own hands, we will do it,” Hassany said.

“Gimme that ol’ time religion, gimme that ol’ time religion, gimme that ol’ time religion… it’s good enough for me!”

The difference between the Mahdi Army and the Family Research Council? The Mahdi Army knows they can get away with it.

Harvey Fierstein in the NY Times: Our Prejudices, Ourselves

April 14, 2007

I was listening to Thom Hartmann’s program on Air America yesterday. At one point he was voicing the idea that America is beginning to say that we’ve had enough of hate speech.

Oh!

I wish that were so, but it certainly isn’t true across the board — because it’s still okay to use certain words. Words like “faggot.” Words like “dyke.” Ann Coulter got trashed a little bit for using the word faggot, but she’s still around, still flapping her mouth in the breeze… and making big bucks doing so.

And when General Peter Pace can express his opinion regarding our “immorality,” not only is he not fired for expressing such a hateful opinion (given his powerful position), but people who we LGBT people think of as our political friends and allies fall all over themselves backing away from expressing an opinion themselves. ARE YOU LISTENING, HILLARY CLINTON? (“I’ll leave that up to others…”)

Maybe there is outrage. Maybe the next time someone makes a homophobic remark in a major venue, the public will rise up like it did about Don Imus and his racist, misogynist vitriol. Maybe…

But I’m not holding my breath.

(As usual, see the related post on Pam’s House Blend.)

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Op-Ed Contributor
OUR PREJUDICES, OURSELVES
By HARVEY FIERSTEIN

AMERICA is watching Don Imus’s self-immolation in a state of shock and awe. And I’m watching America with wry amusement.

Since I’m a second-class citizen — a gay man — my seats for the ballgame of American discourse are way back in the bleachers. I don’t have to wait long for a shock jock or stand-up comedian to slip up with hateful epithets aimed at me and mine. Hate speak against homosexuals is as commonplace as spam. It’s daily traffic for those who profess themselves to be regular Joes, men of God, public servants who live off my tax dollars, as well as any number of celebrities.

In fact, I get a good chuckle whenever someone refers to “the media” as an agent of “the gay agenda.” There are entire channels, like Spike TV, that couldn’t fill an hour of programming if required to remove their sexist and homophobic content. We’ve got a president and a large part of Congress willing to change the Constitution so they can deprive of us our rights because they feel we are not “normal.”

So I’m used to catching foul balls up here in the cheap seats. What I am really enjoying is watching the rest of you act as if you had no idea that prejudice was alive and well in your hearts and minds.

For the past two decades political correctness has been derided as a surrender to thin-skinned, humorless, uptight oversensitive sissies. Well, you anti-politically correct people have won the battle, and we’re all now feasting on the spoils of your victory. During the last few months alone we’ve had a few comedians spout racism, a basketball coach put forth anti-Semitism and several high-profile spoutings of anti-gay epithets.

What surprises me, I guess, is how choosy the anti-P.C. crowd is about which hate speech it will not tolerate. Sure, there were voices of protest when the TV actor Isaiah Washington called a gay colleague a “faggot.” But corporate America didn’t pull its advertising from “Grey’s Anatomy,” as it did with Mr. Imus, did it? And when Ann Coulter likewise tagged a presidential candidate last month, she paid no real price.

In fact, when Bill Maher discussed Ms. Coulter’s remarks on his HBO show, he repeated the slur no fewer than four times himself; each mention, I must note, solicited a laugh from his audience. No one called for any sort of apology from him. (Well, actually, I did, so the following week he only used it once.)

Face it, if a Pentagon general, his salary paid with my tax dollars, can label homosexual acts as “immoral” without a call for his dismissal, who are the moral high and mighty kidding?

Our nation, historically bursting with generosity toward strangers, remains remarkably unkind toward its own. Just under our gleaming patina of inclusiveness, we harbor corroding guts. America, I tell you that it doesn’t matter how many times you brush your teeth. If your insides are rotting your breath will stink. So, how do you people choose which hate to embrace, which to forgive with a wink and a week in rehab, and which to protest? Where’s my copy of that rule book?

Let me cite a non-volatile example of how prejudice can cohabit unchecked with good intentions. I am a huge fan of David Letterman’s. I watch the opening of his show a couple of times a week and have done so for decades. Without fail, in his opening monologue or skit Mr. Letterman makes a joke about someone being fat. I kid you not. Will that destroy our nation? Should he be fired or lose his sponsors? Obviously not.

But I think that there is something deeper going on at the Letterman studio than coincidence. And, as I’ve said, I cite this example simply to illustrate that all kinds of prejudice exist in the human heart. Some are harmless. Some not so harmless. But we need to understand who we are if we wish to change. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should confess to not only being a gay American, but also a fat one. Yes, I’m a double winner.)

I urge you to look around, or better yet, listen around and become aware of the prejudice in everyday life. We are so surrounded by expressions of intolerance that I am in shock and awe that anyone noticed all these recent high-profile instances. Still, I’m gladdened because our no longer being deaf to them may signal their eventual eradication.

The real point is that you cannot harbor malice toward others and then cry foul when someone displays intolerance against you. Prejudice tolerated is intolerance encouraged. Rise up in righteousness when you witness the words and deeds of hate, but only if you are willing to rise up against them all, including your own. Otherwise suffer the slings and arrows of disrespect silently.

Harvey Fierstein is an actor and playwright.

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/13/opinion/13fierstein.html

Get Involved!

April 13, 2007

from Rolling Stone (http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/resources)

GET INVOLVED LINKS

Uncle Sam Wants You Illustration

Human Rights

www.hrc.org
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation: All families deserve protection

www.glaad.org
Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation: Fair, accurate and inclusive representation

www.naacp.org
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People: 94 Years of Making Democracy Work

www.oxfam.org
Oxfam International: finding lasting solutions to poverty, suffering and injustice

www.cesr.org
Center for Economic and Social Rights: Social Justice through Human Rights

schr.org
Southern Center for Human Rights: Fighting discrimination against people of color, the poor and the disadvantaged in the criminal justice systems in the South.

www.hrw.org
Human Rights Watch: Defending human rights

www.amnesty.org
Amnesty International: Working to protect human rights worldwide

www.aranet.org
Anti-Racist Action: Stopping racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of bigotry from harming communities

www.unitedhumanrights.org
United Human Rights Council

Research

www.brookings.org
Independent Research Shaping the Future

www.truthout.org
Get the full story

www.americanprogress.org
Progressive-minded think tank

www.bicusa.org/bicusa/index.php
Bank Information Center: amplifying local voices to democratize development

www.brettonwoodsproject.org
Keep an eye on the World Bank

www.ifiwatchnet.org
Getting to know the World Bank

www.clasp.org
Center For Law and Social Policy: helping out low-income families

www.ashoka.org
Developing social entrepreneurship around the world

www.indymedia.org
What else are they not telling you?

www.airamericaradio.com
Air America: hear Al Franken, Chuck D, Janeane Garofalo lobby for the left

www.workingforchange.com
Online journal of progressive news and opinions published by Working Assets

www.alternet.org
Independent news devoted to topics of global importance

mediastudy.com
Critical media studies: Provides resource links for conducting critical research in media studies and American studies

www.thenation.com
Progressive magazine providing unconventional wisdom since 1865

www.costofwar.com
Running total of the amount of money spent by the U.S. Government to finance the war in Iraq

www.voterpunch.org
Progressive Punch: Searchable database of Congressional voting records

Political Activism

www.moveon.org
Democracy in Action: Bringing ordinary people back to politics

www.rockthevote.org
Empowering young people to change their world

www.vote-smart.org
Dedicated to serving all Americans with accurate and unbiased information for electoral decision-making

www.michaelmoore.com
Michael Moore’s web site

www.axisofjustice.org
Tom Morello’s activism site

www.punkvoter.com
Fat Mike of NOFX’s political activism site

www.alfrankenweb.com
A fair and balanced look at the Right

www.teachingforchange.org
Building social justice, starting in the classroom

www.votenader.org
Why Ralph? Find out.

www.ourfuture.org
Take back America: campaign for our future

www.pih.org
Partners in Health: providing health care for the poor

www.grassrootsonline.org
Grassroots International offers grants fostering social change

www.ariannaonline.com
Arianna Huffington’s site

www.truemajority.com
Voice your opinion on the issues you care about

www.pfaw.org
People for the American Way: Taking action to defend democracy

www.notinourname.net
Pledge of Resistance: Building, strengthening an expanding resistance to stop the U.S. Government’s course of war and repression

www.unitedforpeace.org
Coalition of more than 750 local and national groups joined together to oppose the U.S. Government’s policy of warfare

www.newdemocracyproject.org
Seeks to provide policymakers and the public with thoughtful solutions that promote democratic participation, economic fairness and social justice

democracymatters.org
Getting private money out of politics and people back in

www.indyvoter.com
League of Independent Voters: Revolutionizing democracy

www.musicforamerica.org
Music and other social causes: Working to turn out this generation at the polls

www.americanprogress.org
Center for American Progress: Progressive ideas for a strong, just and free America

Drug War

www.drugpolicy.org
Reason. Compassion. Justice. Let’s put an end to the “war” on drugs

www.norml.org
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws

stopthedrugwar.org
Drug Reform Coordination Network: Working for reform of U.S. drug laws

www.csdp.org
Common Sense for Drug Policy

www.mapinc.org
Media Awareness Project: Worldwide network dedicated to drug policy reform

www.drugsense.org
Drug Policy Reform: Drug Sense means education

www.pdfa.net
Partnership for Drug Policy Facts and Alternatives

www.november.org
November Coalition: Educating the public about the destructive increase in prison population in the U.S. due to current drug laws

www.drugwarfacts.org
Get the facts

www.ssdp.org
Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Gun Control

www.nrablacklist.com
Join Jerry Seinfeld, Britney Spears, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and others

www.stopthenra.com
Help stop the NRA from shielding gun dealers who arm criminals

www.bradycampaign.org
Sensible Gun Laws Save Lives

www.csgv.org
Coalition to Stop Gun Violence: Organizing for progressive gun laws since 1974

www.lcav.org
Legal Community Against Violence: Educating communities about federal, state and local regulations

www.millionmommarch.com
United with the Brady Campaign to prevent gun violence

Youth

www.youthnoise.com
A smart site where teenagers discuss ethical and political issues and find out about opportunities for activism and volunteer jobs

www.campusprogress.com
Progressive youth organizers who provide advocacy training, grants for school publications and support for academic freedom, environmentalism and affordable education

www.advocatesforyouth.org
Informs young people about sexual health issues

www.youthactivism.com
Youth Activism Project: Encouraging young people to speak up and pursue lasting solutions to problems

www.youthventure.org
Non-profit organization that provides young people ages twelve to twenty the tools necessary to create civic-minded organizations, clubs or businesses

www.crin.org
Child Rights Information Network: All children are born with fundamental freedoms and the inherent rights of all human beings

www.protect.org
National Association to Protect Children: Pro-child, anti-crime

www.takingitglobal.org
Inspire. Inform. Involve.

Women

www.now.org
National Organization for Women: the largest feminist group in the country

www.codepink4peace.org
Women led grassroots movement for social justice and peace

www.choiceusa.org
Leading pro choice site

www.about-face.org
Promoting positive self-esteem in girls and women of all ages, sizes, races and backgrounds

www.naral.org
NARAL Pro-Choice America: Mobilizing pro-choice supporters to achieve better access to more effective contraceptives and other reproductive health care information

www.rainn.org
Rape Abuse Incest National Network: The nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization

www.feminist.com
Consciousness-raising portal of resources that supports women’s equality, self-empowerment, wellness and safety

www.feminist.org
Feminist Majority Foundation: Breaking news and feminism

www.nwaforchange.org
National Women’s Alliance: Working to improve the lives of women and girls of color

Civil Liberties

www.aclu.org
The American Civil Liberties Union: Defending the Bill of Rights

www.plannedparenthood.org
The world’s largest and most trusted voluntary reproductive health care organization

www.uniteunion.org
A union fighting for working people

www.ifex.org
International Freedom of Expression eXchange

www.cpj.org
Committee to Protect Journalists: Dedicated to the global defense of press freedom

www.afj.org
Alliance For Justice: Advancing the cause of justice for all Americans

www.bordc.org
Bill Of Rights Defense Committee

www.cnss.org
Center for National Security Studies: Protecting civil liberties and human rights

Environment

www.nrdc.org
The National Resources Defense Council: The Earth’s Best Defense

www.sierraclub.org
Explore, enjoy and protect the planet

www.aceee.org
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

www.afdc.doe.gov
The Alternative Fuels Data Center

www.ciel.org/
Center for International Environmental Law: Solving environmental problems, legally

www.greenpeace.org
Save the planet

www.usgbc.org
U.S. Green Building Council: engineering with responsibility

www.seac.org
Student Environmental Action Coalition: Uprooting environmental injustices through action and education

www.epa.gov
Environmental Protection Agency: Protecting human health and the environment

www.bark-out.org
Protecting national forests from eradication

www.cascadiaforestalliance.org
Working to inspire non-violent, grassroots involvement in regional forest protection

www.gracelinks.org
Global Resource Action Center for the Environment

www.ran.org
Rainforest Action Network: Protecting tropical rainforests

www.sustlife.com
What you need to live a healthier, more socially and environmentally sustainable life

Latin America

www.nclr.org
National Council of LA Raza: Making a difference for Hispanic Americans

www.chci.org
Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute: developing the next generation of Latino leaders

www.maldef.org
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational fund: advocate for Latino rights

www.nacla.org
North American Congress on Latin America: Providing information on political, social and economic issues in the Americas

www.mexicosolidarity.org
Mexico Solidarity Network: Coalition for human rights, economic justice and democracy in the U.S. and Mexico

Consumer

www.consumersunion.org
Know what you’re buying, before you buy

www.citizen.org
Public Citizen: advocating consumer rights

www.cpsc.gov
U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

www.consumerwatchdog.org
Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR): Activism to advance and protect the interests of consumers and taxpayers

www.faireconomy.org
United for a Fair Economy: Inspiring action to close the economic divide

www.ftc.gov
Federal Trade Commission: For the consumer

www.consumer.gov
FirstGov for Consumers: Your resource for consumer information from the federal government

www.consumerfed.org
Consumer Federation of America: The consumer resource for consumer information

www.digitalconsumer.org
Protecting fair-use rights in the digital world

www.naca.net
National Association of Consumer Advocates: Promoting justice for consumers

www.natlconsumersleague.org
National Consumers League: Advancing economic and social interests of consumers and workers

Miscellaneous

www.au.org
Americans United for Separation of Church and State

www.cuadp.org
Citizens United for Alternatives to the Death Penalty: Working to end the death penalty in the U.S.

www.nuclearpolicy.org
Nuclear Policy Research Institute: Creating consensus for a nuclear free future

www.nationalpriorities.org
National Priorities Project: Offering citizens and community groups resources to shape federal budget and policy priorities that promote social and economic justice

www.futureofmusic.org
Future of Music Coalition: Educating musicians and the public about issues shaping the debate in music/technology space

www.cdt.org
Center for Democracy and Technology: Promote democratic values and constitutional liberties

Why Marriage Matters — 2 days till tax time

April 13, 2007
 

2 Days ’til Tax Day: Marriage discrimination hurts the most at the worst of times.

The protections, rights, and responsibilities that come with marriage make couples and families more safe and secure, especially in hard times such as divorce and death.Tax laws for married couples protect them from paying hefty taxes when transferring property or receiving inheritance.

Ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage will protect all couples, and their families, from adverse consequences in good times, in tough times and at tax time.

Did you know…

  • Discrimination in marriage leads to discrimination in divorce. If a same-sex couple splits up and has to divide their assets in court, the IRS considers that transfer of assets subject to hefty �gift� or �income� taxes. Alimony and child support, to an unrecognized parent, are also heavily taxed as �gifts� or �income.�
  • Same-sex couples are also denied tax benefits after death. Sadly, if one partner dies the surviving partner may face losing their home due to the high rate of taxation for property transfer to a non-spouse.

Get Active! Get Engaged!

Now what should you do with this information? How can you help? When you are talking about filing taxes this week, talk about these inequalities. And keep talking… Talk to your neighbors. Tell your own story. Educate yourself. Contact your elected representatives. Get to know your local and statewide political advocacy organizations. Contact the leaders of groups of which you are a member. Write a newspaper, magazine, TV station, radio station or other media outlet. Create a visibility event. Host or sponsor a house party. Host or sponsor a family picnic. Ask someone you know — or everyone you know — to get engaged in this movement. Talk to your religious leaders about how to engage your faith community.

Who can you call to get answers to your specific tax-related questions?

Individuals, couples and families seeking tax advice should contact a personal tax preparer, accountant, or attorney.

If you are a reporter or an attorney with questions about tax time and marriage equality, contact Lambda Legal.

For a full list of the protections denied same sex couples and their kids, see “Appendix B” of Evan Wolfson’s book, Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality & Gay People’s Right to Marry.

For more information on Why Marriage Matters at Tax Time, or any other time, log on to our website at www.freedomtomarry.org.

2008 Presidential candidates — answer the question:

April 13, 2007

Answer the question

from pamshouseblend.com

Don Imus fired first by MSNBC, now CBS; Alberto Gonzales to follow

April 12, 2007

CBS has fired Don Imus

AP UPDATE: “CBS brought the tumultuous weeklong crisis over racially insensitive remarks by the radio host Don Imus to an end late this afternoon when it canceled the ‘Imus in the Morning’ program, effective immediately. The move came one day after MSNBC, which has simulcast Mr. Imus’s radio program for the past 10 years, removed the show from the cable network’s morning lineup. The two moves together mean that Mr. Imus, who has been broadcasting his program for more than 30 years, no longer has a home on either national radio or television.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Yeah, so Don Imus is fired from both TV and radio. Won’t Tom Oliphant and Tim Russert be disappointed? And we now know that the blonde what’s-his-name (and not the attorney what’s-his-name) is the father of Anna Nichole Smith’s baby.

I’m certainly not saying that racist and misogynist comments like that of Imus are unimportant. They are important, and they need to be stopped. But we, in our consumer society, stop the speakers by refusing to buy products from those who advertise on the programs, and letting the advertisers know what we are doing and why.

So now can we get back to things that are important and not diversionary? Can we talk about Alberto Gonzales and his mouth that can only lie? Can we talk about the war in Iraq and trying to bring home the members of the American military alive? Can we talk about impeaching George W. Bush???

Hallelujah!

April 12, 2007

If we are created in God’s own image,
and we are able to laugh,
then laughter must be a gift from God–
and God can laugh at this too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NQdlBqQAQ1A

(make sure to turn up your sound and to maximize the window using the little box on the lower right of the video)