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December 18, 2014

14-year-old exonerated, 70 years too late

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George Stinney, wrongly convicted and executed in 1944 at age 14 in South Carolina, was exonerated Wednesday by circuit court Judge Carmen Mullen. When he went to the electric chair, he was so small he had to sit on a phone book for the execution.

We do not have the knowledge of gods. There are too many people with motives to lie, to make false accusations, to seek out a scapegoat, to set an example. We should abolish the death penalty if only for this reason. It is good for Stinney's name to be cleared at long last; but his life was stolen. The sadness of this is beyond adequate expression.

December 17, 2014

Cutting Holes in the Law

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My column for this week is now online at the Blade. Here is an excerpt:

The Michigan House of Representatives recently passed a bill modeled on the 1993 federal Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, which featured in the Hobby Lobby case. The Michigan measure may allow emergency medical technicians to invoke sincerely held religious beliefs in refusing to serve LGBT people.

Where will religious demands in daily commerce end? If you view conscience clauses only in terms of gay families, the problem might seem limited. But what about people who object to interracial marriage or to second or third marriages after divorce? Assuming that gay conservatives are motivated by more than axe grinding against gay liberals, why does their solicitude for the religious right appear reserved for gay-related cases?

If an anti-gay Christian receives legal exemptions, why should a Christian Scientist parent opposed to modern medicine not be exempt from child welfare laws? Why should a Muslim devoted to the subordination of women (which, to be fair, is disputed within Islam) not invoke Sharia Law? Satanists, amusingly, have already responded to a Ten Commandments monument at the Oklahoma state capitol by demanding equal placement of a monument to the demon Baphomet.

Read the whole thing here.

Obama announces historic change in Cuba policy

Bravo, bravo, bravo, Mr. President. This is long overdue. Thank you for showing leadership.

December 16, 2014

Cory Booker defends D.C. home rule

I neglected to post this several days ago when Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) spoke out against congressional interference with D.C. voters' choice to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Thank you, Senator.

Cleveland's Hawkins: 'A call for justice shouldn't warrant an apology'

Cleveland.com reports:

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Andrew Hawkins defended his wearing a "Justice for Tamir Rice" shirt during warm-ups before Sunday's game against the Bengals.

"My wearing of the T-shirt wasn't a stance against every police officer or every police department," Hawkins said. "My wearing of the T-shirt was a stance against wrong individuals doing the wrong thing for the wrong reason to innocent people."

Hawkins made the statement the day after Cleveland police union president Jeff Follmer called Hawkins' shirt "pathetic" and said Hawkins should stick to playing football.

Bravo, Mr. Hawkins.

December 15, 2014

Stop Corizon from running D.C. Jail healthcare

GLAA sent letters like this one to all D.C. Council members on Monday afternoon:



Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance
Fighting for equal rights since 1971
P.O. Box 75265, Washington, DC 20013


Monday, December 15, 2014

The Honorable Phil Mendelson, Chairman
Council of the District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20004

Dear Chairman Mendelson:

We urge you to vote against the Office of Contracting and Procurement's recommendation to award the new five-year D.C. Jail healthcare contract to Corizon, a for-profit company with a bad track record.

This is especially scary for people with HIV, transgender people, and anyone with mental health or medical issues. Quality mental healthcare during incarceration is important to successful reintegration into society.

Continue reading "Stop Corizon from running D.C. Jail healthcare" »

Andromeda, if it were brighter

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From ScienceDump, Andromeda's actual size if it were brighter.

Shift Happens. Seriously.

Brian Steinberg at Variety reports that as of today, Phil Griffin at MSNBC is rolling out a streaming video portal called "Shift by MSNBC." You can see their opening slogan in my retweet above, "Shift happens" (hashtag #ShiftHappens). Here are a few telling excerpts from Sternberg's piece:

Among the new offerings is “The Briefing,” a political program hosted Monday and Fridays by Luke Russert

Luke Russert, because experience (doesn't) count. And this:

[Richard] Wolffe, who has written extensively on the Obama presidency and Spanish cooking, will host a show on books.

(Hat tip: Matt Yglesias)

December 13, 2014

Somehow, a horse in a wedding dress refutes marriage equality

Why is a horse in a wedding dress any more related to gay couples than to straight couples? Gay people are not seeking to marry horses, but other human beings. But somehow, this sort of stunt seems to persuade some people.

Fischer: Terror suspects have no right not to be tortured

More of the angry tribal deity perspective from AFA's Bryan Fischer.

Sen. Warren goes after Citigroup and its bailout provision

Sen. Elizabeth Warren lets Citigroup have it.

Update:

Thousands gather in D.C. to protest police killings

A shot of Freedom Plaza Saturday as protesters gathered. Associated Press reports.

Johnny Gill takes lie detector test

Those rumors about a gay affair with Eddie Murphy were affecting Johnny Gill's love life, so he took a lie detector test to put his girlfriend's mind to rest.

December 11, 2014

Ted Osius III sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam

NBC News reports:

The first openly gay U.S. ambassador to serve in East Asia, Ted Osius III, was sworn in Wednesday by Secretary of State John Kerry, signaling another important step forward for LGBT rights in the region as well as for the government agency.

Osius, who will serve in Vietnam, now becomes the 7th openly LGBT person named as an ambassador under the Obama administration, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

"Not long ago, that would have literally been impossible. And when Ted first joined the Foreign Service, being open about who you love was grounds for having your security clearance yanked," Secretary Kerry said in a statement. "Today, the LGBT community is embraced by the Foreign Service and well beyond."

Dept. of New Toys (Military Division)

The U.S. Navy demonstrates its new Laser Weapon System (LaWS) aboard the USS Ponce.

December 13 - #Justice4All march in DC

Perkins says conversion therapy ban will help gays recruit children

Because he says so. Pay no attention to the science. Just make stuff up. Sorry Tony, but you're losing the argument.

Congress and Initiative 71

Also:

Chris Rock explains it all for you

Or this

Chris Geidner mistaken for Harvard professor in Chinese takeout dispute; hashtag #BlameChrisGeidner

Chris_geidner

Poynter reports that our friend, BuzzFeed reporter Chris Geidner, has somehow been confused for the Harvard Business School professor who got into a big fight over a $4 overcharge at a Chinese takeout.

One of my unhelpful comments was:

Screw you PC weaklings! Geidner doesn't apologize! #GeidnerianExceptionalism

Also:

It is a damned lie that Chris Geidner engaged in classified pillow talk with Dianne Feinstein!

And:

Or was it Lindsey Graham that Chris Geidner didn't sleep with? #ewww

(Hat tip: Chris Geidner)