Francis Cardinal George clarified remarks he made equating gay activists with the Ku Klux Klan during a few pastoral visits on Christmas Day. According to ABC News Chicago he said:
"Obviously, it's absurd to say the gay and lesbian community are the Ku Klux Klan, but if you organize a parade that looks like parades that we've had in our past because it stops us from worshipping God, well then that's the comparison, but it's not with people and people - it's parade-parade," said George.
Watch his remarks on the second page.
What the Cardinal is trying to do is evoke images of a rather famous march by the KKK in Skokie Illinois and by associatiion tie gay activists to it. This a reather common practice on both the left and the right. [Hated Group] = [Hated Group] Beside being compared to the KKK, gay activists are frequently called Nazis and pedophiles. The only thing that is surprising here is the uproar over his statement. The Cardinal surely did not expect it. Considering the opposition of the Catholic church to ALL gay rights measures it is hard to understand why the Cardinal doesn't grasp that it might be thought of as ane enemy.
The ABC article mentions that next month Cardinal George will have his 70th birthday and will submit a resignation to the Vatican. It will be interesting to see if it is accepted. Making anti-gay statements seems to be a way to endear oneself to this pope.
Someone should break it to this lady that the unity in question was not meant to include her. And guess which of the Seven Principles you are violating if you buy a Kwanzaa card from Hallmark. Those white folks try to take over everything! My friend Jasper said, "Actually...who eats cocoa cinnamon cake with apple filling?" I replied, "I don't know... Just hearing it makes me want to get in touch with my African ancestors--you know, way, way back in the Olduvai Gorge."
As I wrote in 2003, Maulana Karenga's main guiding philosophy for Kwanzaa, behind its amalgam of African elements, is Marxism. What does Karl Marx have to do with Africa? To quote my article, "Ujamaa, the fourth principle of Kwanzaa (Swahili for 'familyhood,' from the Arabic for 'community,' translated by Karenga as cooperative economics), was the very word used by former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere when he forcibly relocated tens of thousands of his citizens to collective farms in a disastrous socialist experiment. Nyerere actually suppressed an existing coffee cooperative that did not conform to his theories, while demonizing the Swahili concept of soko huria, or free markets."
I mentioned the heavy Arabic influence on Swahili to show that Karenga, in fleeing Western cultural influences in favor of African traditions, embraced language traceable to the Arab slave trade in Africa. Swahili is certainly euphonious, but that doesn't make any of this liberating or more authentic (to invoke a slippery word). Actually, in my experience, most African Americans don't practice Kwanzaa. But hey, it's an excuse for a party.
Yesterday's season opener at Madison Square Garden between the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics included this bit of drama between Celtics power forward Kevin Garnett and Knicks small forward Bill Walker. The guy in the beard intervening is new Knicks point guard Baron Davis, who is not in uniform because he is recovering from a herniated disc. Garnett is likely to get a suspension; but I'd kind of like to see them fight.
As I said to fellow GLAA veteran Craig Howell over a pleasant Christmas lunch, I admire the late Christopher Hitchens and have cheered the many well-deserved "Hitchslaps" he administered against religious authoritarians and assorted other rogues; but I do not in the least share his dislike for Christmas festivities. Why wear oneself out or make oneself miserable growling and sneering at all the Christmas goings-on that begin before Halloween? Better to spend your energy on something else. Of course, Charles Dickens ensured that the story of Christmas includes a role for a curmudgeon, so the "Bah, Humbug" chorus has long since been annexed no matter how much they squawk.
I have always sympathized with Ebenezer Scrooge's incorrigibly cheerful nephew; also with his long-suffering clerk Bob Cratchit, except that I could never endure so much abuse without saying, "Screw you, you miserable old bastard." Indeed, without the job protections built into the federal civil service, I am sure I would have been fired long before I qualified for an annuity. My competence and reliability helped, but that can only carry an outspoken person so far. But for all my resistance to dogma and authority of various kinds, I don't think Christmas in a cultural sense is mainly about that. It is inextricably interwoven with ancient winter solstice festivals, and I share the common impulse to light candles and share good food and drink with friends and family on the longest nights of the year.
The last two weeks of the year are also among the quietest here in the nation's capital partly because so many leave town to be with loved ones elsewhere, and partly because those who remain are largely inclined to relax a bit. The First Family is generally away at Camp David or some other retreat (in the present case, the President's original home state of Hawaii), the Capitol empties out, civil servants take their use-or-lose annual leave, and the streets are quieter. A few minutes ago, one of the destitute 17th Street regulars came by to ask for some food, and I shared some of the goodies I'd received.
Craig went off after lunch to the E Street Cinema, and I am relaxing at home. Turner Classic movies just started showing the 1961 film King of Kings, starring Jeffrey Hunter as Jesus Christ. Ben Mankiewicz, who introduced the movie, mentioned the fact that Hunter played Captain Christopher Pike in the original Star Trek television pilot. Besides Hunter, the film includes Hurd Hatfield (star of the 1945 film The Picture of Dorian Gray) as Pontius Pilate; gay Australian actor Frank Thring (who played Pontius Pilate in the 1959 Ben Hur) as Herod Antipas, and narration by Orson Welles. But I've seen the film before, so I think I'll catch up on some reading. For one thing, the second volume of Sondheim's collected lyrics beckons me.
Monday morning will be a good occasion to catch up with the denizens of my favorite coffee shop who stayed in town. In the afternoon I'll head to Maryland for the Rosendall family gathering, a pot luck affair to which my contribution is a couple of bottles of liquor. There'll be emails and phone calls to catch up with various friends. On Christmas Eve I phoned my boyfriend, who is in Thailand for a few weeks on business, and sang him "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" from the 1945 Meet Me in St. Louis (the lyric "Someday soon we all will be together" having brought it to mind). He said (as he has very sweetly said before) that I should be a professional singer, though he helpfully added that I was too old to start such a career; then I learned that he had never heard of Judy Garland. It did not come as a shock to me, after ten years, that a man who grew up in the Congo River valley did not share my cultural signposts. A little perspective and humility are useful in this season.
Last night, Pope Benedict XVI at Christmas Eve Mass gave a predictable critique of the commercialization of Christmas. (If I hear one more priest pompously telling me that I forgot the baby Jesus, I'll do something drastic; but there's Hitch's ghost again.) Dozens were killed across Nigeria by a radical Islamic sect in a series of Christmas bombings. People in Christchurch, New Zealand were recovering from an earthquake. An Afghan lawmaker and a score of others were killed in a funeral bombing in northern Afghanistan. I said something nice about Catholic Charities to a gay friend who was chagrined at a donation having been made to them in his name for Christmas (many people have done admirable work for the organization, notwithstanding the nasty boys in red hats who hold authority over them). On television, Salome has just demanded the head of John the Baptist. And so it goes. "Peace on Earth" is a valuable sentiment precisely because of the general lack of it. Here's wishing it to you and yours.
(Christmas Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. Photo by Andrew Medichini / AP)
I remember the moment when my friend David Kato, Uganda’s best-known gay activist, sat with me in the small unmarked office of our organization, Sexual Minorities Uganda. “One of us will probably die because of this work,” he said. We agreed that the other would then have to continue. In January, because of this work, David was bludgeoned to death at his home, with a hammer. Many people urged me to seek asylum, but I have chosen to remain and fulfill my promise to David — and to myself. My life is in danger, but the lives of those whose names are not known in international circles are even more vulnerable.
Still, I continue to hope. There are encouraging times when my fellow activists and I meet people face to face and they realize we aren’t the child-molesting monsters depicted in the media. They realize we are human, we are Ugandan, just like them.
Standing on David’s shoulders, we are no longer alone. Political leaders like Mrs. Clinton and religious leaders like Archbishop Desmond Tutu are willing to publicly state that being gay is just one of many expressions of what it means to be human. I call on other leaders — particularly my African-American brothers and sisters in politics, entertainment and religious communities — to come to Uganda, to stand with me and my fellow advocates, to help dispel harmful myths perpetuated by ignorance and hate. The lives of many are on the line.
In an eerie echo of attacks on President Franklin Roosevelt's "little dog, Fala," Republicans spread a claim that Presidential dog Bo was secretly flown back to the White House last week from Hawaii for a photo-op with President Obama.
A tourist gets a thrill of a lifetime: an up-close encounter with wild mountain gorillas near Uganda's Bwindi National Park. A young gorilla grooms the tourist, and an adult female kisses him, while a silverback and several others look on. This recalls a beautiful moment in the 1988 film Gorillas in the Mist in which Sigourney Weaver, playing primatologist Dian Fossey, encounters one of the magnificent animals. The animals in these scenes with Weaver are wild gorillas. You can see that Weaver had studied how to behave in such a situation so as to appear non-threatening, as the tourist had also been taught to do. The gentleness and curiosity of these endangered creatures are both moving and a reminder of how vulnerable they are to the poachers who have killed so many of them as indeed the poachers killed Fossey, who fought to protect the gorillas.
Good news. The Washington Postreports that the federal budget for the Smithsonian Institution for 2012 is $811.5 million, which is $52 million more than for 2011. This is despite the controversy a year ago over the exhibit "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture" at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. NPRreported on the controversy on Dec 1, 2010.
In the clip above, the exhibit's co-curator, Jonathan Katz, introduces the exhibit and discusses a few of the paintings. Below, Katz and co-curator David C. Ward discuss the controversy. Craig Howell's citation for his presentation of GLAA's Distinguished Service Award to Ward is here.
The New Republic has unearthered a collection of Ron Paul's early newsletters and published an article with the most incendiary quotations. This has raised the question: Is he more of a racist or an anti-gay bigot? Read the full article before deciding, but here are a few selections to ponder:
An October 1990 edition of the Political Report ridicules black activists, led by Al Sharpton, for demonstrating at the Statue of Liberty in favor of renaming New York City after Martin Luther King. The newsletter suggests that “Welfaria,” “Zooville,” “Rapetown,” “Dirtburg,”and “Lazyopolis ” would be better alternatives—and says, “Next time, hold that demonstration at a food stamp bureau or a crack house.”
On gay issues:
The June 1990 issue of the Political Report says: “I miss the closet. Homosexuals, not to speak of the rest of society, were far better off when social pressure forced them to hide their activities.”
There are people wondering if Andrew Sullivan may want to rethink this. Considering the fact that the Repulican presidential candidates have been having a contest to see who could be the most anti-gay it is the racial views that will be most damaging. But will this hurt him in Iowa?
Katharine Hepburn talks to her mirror in a scene from one of the best movies set at Christmastime, 1968's The Lion in Winter. It's 1183, and the English court gathers at Chinon. This earned Hepburn her third Oscar. Below, Tired Old Queen at the Movies talks about this classic, which also features Peter O'Toole, Anthony Hopkins, and Timothy Dalton. There are few screenplays that set off as many sparks as this one by James Goldman based on his play; they include the one by Joseph L. Mankiewicz for All About Eve (1950) and the one by Robert Bolt for Lawrence of Arabia (1962). Bolt also wrote the screenplay for A Man for All Seasons (1966), based on his play.
Another moment from the October 2009 Intelligence Squared debate in London, which I quoted in my column on the late Christopher Hitchens. Sitting beside openly gay actor Stephen Fry, Hitch says this:
Amazing! No one, though they were asked repeatedly, would say whether they thought Stephen Fry, my friend, was in a state of mortal sin or not. They wouldn't tell you. Something about the question brought out their inner coward. Well, I say that homosexuality is not just a form of sex, it's a form of love, and it deserves our respect for that reason; that when my children were young, I'd have been proud to have Stephen as their babysitter, and I'd've told them they were lucky; and if anyone came to my door as a babysitter wearing holy orders, I'd call first a cab and then the police.
The Washington Nationals yesterday acquired Oakland Athletics All-Star left-hander Gio Gonzalez. MLB reports:
The Nationals were able to land a top starting pitcher on Thursday, acquiring left-hander Gio Gonzalez from the A's in exchange for pitching prospects Brad Peacock, Tommy Milone and A.J. Cole and catching prospect Derek Norris, according to two sources.
CBSsports.com reported that Washington also received right-hander Robert Gilliam in the deal. The trade is official pending a physical. Gonzalez is expected to take his physical on Friday.
ABC Newsreports on the New York premiere of 'Sherlock Holmes':
Despite the frigid temperatures, it didn't take much detective work to get to the bottom of the much-buzzed-about alleged Holmes-Watson love story between Robert Downey Jr. (who plays the famous detective, Sherlock Holmes) and Jude Law (who plays his sidekick, Dr. John Watson). The two men walked the red carpet separately and were quick to dismiss rumors of any homosexual subtext in the movie's plot.
"People are enjoying that aspect of it but really I think [the film is] about a brotherhood as much as anything else, and...it's about Victorian England," Downey Jr. told Abcnews.com.
Oh, yes, and there was nothing gay about Victorian England. (Or is he saying that everything was so gay back then that it rubbed off on everyone? Or is he playing with the old notion of all Englishmen being gay? Or what?) My straight friend Mark saw the film yesterday and commented:
Just saw Sherlock Holmes. Ambiguous and very gay subtext. Gratuitous innuendo.... Gratuitous enough to be insulting. The innuendo competes with what's supposed to be the audience's attraction to the Sherlock Holmes franchise: his genius at deduction. Knowing you the way I do, I'm sure you'd find it insulting if not laughable.
Last weekend, when a few of us were at the multiplex to see another film, we commented on how gay the Sherlock Holmes movie posters looked. Judging by Mark's reaction, I think I'll skip it.
It's been almost a year and a half since the July 2010 closing of the Starlite Lounge, the oldest Black-owned LGBT bar in New York City and one of the oldest such bars in the nation. Two filmmakers are producing a documentary about about the now-shuttered historic lounge in Brooklyn, reports the NY Daily News....
For more than 40 years, the location at 1086 Bergen Street in Brooklyn's Crown Heights was home to the Starlite Lounge. The Starlite had been a fixture since the 1960s and became a rite of passage for many black LGBT New Yorkers.
An opposition member in Zimbabwe's parliament has been arrested after saying their notoriously anti-gay despot Robert Mugabe has "practiced homosexuality", report Kenya's Daily Nation.
"Mrs Lillian Kirenyi, a legislator from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party was on Tuesday charged with undermining the authority of President Mugabe. The court was told that the MP committed the alleged offence during an address to party supporters on December 9.
"She allegedly said: "Zanu PF (President Mugabe’s party) members been attacking MDC president Tsvangirai alleging he is pro-homosexuals yet Robert Mugabe has practiced homosexuality with (Professor) Jonathan Moyo (former Information minister) and Canaan Banana (Zimbabwe’s first ceremonial president)." The late Mr Banana was jailed for sodomising his bodyguard."
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai—Mugabe's political rival—has called for greater tolerance and promised "not to prosecute anyone who is gay." Tsvangirai says he will continue to call out for tolerance despite an onslaught of criticism after his remarks.
What amazes me is the willingness of Zimbabweans to say such provocative things despite Mugabe's long record of brutality. But my main reaction to the suggestion that Robert Mugabe has been having gay sex is:
This week Rick Perry told a 14-year-old openly bisexual girl who questioned him after a town hall in Decorah, Iowa, that he doesn't believe gays should serve openly in the military because "homosexuality is a sin." I sure hope young Rebecca Green saw the iconic image days later of two female Navy petty officers, Marissa Gaeta and Citlalic Snell, sharing the first same-sex kiss at ship's return. Because that sweet and wonderful photo is the future. And Rick Perry is the ugly and wretched past that we can hopefully move on from after this hideous GOP primary campaign.
A presidential candidate telling a teen she is damned to hell because of her sexual orientation is heartless enough. But in an atmosphere of reports almost every week of gay teens committing suicide because of the condemnation and rejection they experience it is downright diabolical. How cold-blooded and ruthless is this guy?
A lot of people are saying Rick Perry is gay. Personally, I don't care. I look forward to his disappearance from the political stage early in 2012, after which he can go back to his ranch with the racist name.
At the suggestion of gay and Ward 8 community activist Phil Pannell, organizers of D.C.’s Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday parade, set to take place Jan. 16, 2012, are inviting members of the LGBT community to take part in the event.
Lead organizer Denise Rolark Barnes, publisher of the Washington Informer, the city’s African-American community newspaper, said a parade organizing committee has been reaching out to all communities, including the LGBT community, in an effort to boost participation in the parade.
She noted that 2012 will mark the first time in seven years that the King parade will take place on the Martin Luther King Day holiday, which commemorates King’s birthday.
Personally, I loved the Obama's holiday card, which arrived in the mail a few weeks ago. But the proud and unscrupulous ignoramus whom John McCain raised to undeserved prominence in 2008 as his running mate has to use it as an excuse for religious demagoguery. The L.A. Timesreports:
So much for the holiday spirit. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is once again targeting the Obama administration, leveling a critical glare at the official White House holiday greeting card for not emphasizing Christmas.
The card, seen above, was created for the Obama family by L.A. artist and designer Mark Matuszak. It features an image of Bo, the Obama family dog, in front of a fireplace in the White House library with a poinsettia and other decorations. The card, which makes no direct mention of Christmas and doesn't feature a Christmas tree, states: "From our family to yours, may your holidays shine with the light of the season."
Palin told Fox News that she found it "odd" that the card emphasizes the dog instead of traditions like "family, faith and freedom." She also said that Americans are able to appreciate "American foundational values illustrated and displayed on Christmas cards and on a Christmas tree."
Dear Sarah, Merry Christmas and Happy Kwanzaa. Your fifteen minutes were over a long time ago. Please shut the fuck up. Blessings in Christ.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State celebrates:
The Religious Right’s rigid mindset dictates that its adherents can do things on their own terms no matter what the law or anyone else says. As a student at a Georgia university and the Alliance Defense Fund recently discovered, federal courts don’t support that mentality.
Jennifer Keeton was pursuing an advanced degree in counseling at Augusta State University until it became clear that she intended to impose her religious beliefs on clients in violation of the professional standards of her academic program.
Our friend (and GLAA Distinguished Service Award Honoree) David Mariner includes the following note with this slide-show retrospective on the DC Center's busy year in 2011:
Dear Friend of the DC Center,
On behalf of everyone at the DC Center I would like to wish you happy holidays. This has been an exciting year at the DC Center, and a year of many firsts:
The first year of free Second-Saturday HIV Testing for the HIV Working Group
The first year of the Friendly Visitor Program for SAGE Metro DC
The first Annual LGBT Book Festival for OutWrite
Our first Foster Parent Information night for Center Families
The first National Great American Smokeout event for the Tobacco Working Group
The establishment of our first ever arts-advisory committee for Center Arts
Programs and services like GLOV, Center Women and Center Careers continued to do great work this year, and we added new programs such as the Youth Working Group. We also established stronger online presence for the local Bisexual Community and Transgender Community.
As we look to the future, there is of course, some uncertainty. We expect that we will need to relocate to a new physical space before the end of 2012.
I can't tell you where or when we will move in 2012, but what I do know for sure is that with your continued support the DC Center will continue to grow and thrive. Your support makes this work possible.
During this holiday season, I hope you will consider financially supporting the DC Center:
The Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C. (GLAA), a nonpartisan political organization for the LGBT community and the oldest continuously operating one of its kind in the country, released its "Agenda: 2012" guide to local LGBT issues, along with the group's candidate questionnaire, Dec. 19.
The guide is a policy brief that serves as a summary of the major actions the organization has deemed necessary to improve the lives of LGBT residents in the District. The guide is divided into six subject areas: marriage and family, public health, public safety and the judiciary, human rights, youth and seniors, and consumers and business. The items outlined in the guide are the result of feedback from a number of LGBT activists and organizations, according to Richard J. Rosendall, GLAA's vice president for political affairs....
Specific agenda items include defending civil-marriage equality, maintaining the domestic partnership law, improving collection of data in both the health care and crime statistics as they relate to sexual orientation and gender identity; providing LGBT-inclusive culturally competent training to law enforcement officers, government employees, employers and social service providers; and measures aimed at combating the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Newer items addressed in the brief include removing the prohibition of surrogacy agreements in the District, defending the District's needle-exchange program and medical marijuana law, opposing the implementation of prostitution-free zones, allowing for the issuance of new birth certificates for people undergoing gender transition, and expanding anti-bullying efforts in D.C. public and charter schools to protect sexual-minority youth.
"People always say, 'Now that you have marriage equality done, what's left?'" says Rosendall. "This policy brief is the answer to that."
Update: Riley also reports on the Dec. 8 hearing at which Bob Summersgill and I testified in favor of a bill to allow same-sex couples who were married in D.C. but live elsewhere to get a divorce, which is a problem in states that do not recognize same-sex marriages. As Councilmember Phil Mendelson, the bill's author, tells Riley, there is no sign it will cause controversy on Capitol Hill. It would be peculiar indeed if Congress would get upset over letting gay couples divorce after it did nothing to overturn our law allowing them to marry in the first place.
Since all the problems predicted should DADT be repealed have failed to appear, you have to wonder why all of the Republican candidates seem to want to reinstate it. That is, other than pandering to the religious right.
On Friday, December 16, 2011, DCTC filed a friend of the court brief in the case of De’Lonta v. Johnson urging the Richmond-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to find that the Virginia Department of Correction’s housing policy for transgender inmates violates the Equal Protection, Due Process and Cruel and Unusual Punishment clauses of the U.S. Constitution. VDOC’s current policy is to assign inmates to male or female facilities based solely on their genitals, without taking into consideration where they would be safest. The failure to treat transgender women in the same way that non-transgender women are treated is discriminatory, the brief argues. Further, the brief alleges that automatic placement of transgender women into facilities where they are at high risk of being sexually abused is cruel and unusual punishment and the lack of availability of an appeal procedure deprives inmates of due process. Many jurisdictions, including the District of Columbia, have implemented policies that are more flexible and sensitive to the needs of transgender inmates, according to DCTC’s brief. The federal Bureau of Prisons is expected to follow DC’s lead by mandating individualized determinations of where to house transgender inmates and detainees when Department of Justice regulations implementing the Prison Rape Elimination Act are finalized.
Bravo to DCTC. Follow the link above to read the brief in full.
It’s Tuesday morning around 10:30 a.m. when the Oak Hill finally comes into view, its steel-gray bow peeking out from behind a grove of green trees at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek.
It’s been three months since the dock landing ship left home for Central America, and all of the usual fanfare is waiting to greet its crew: crowds of cheering families, toddlers dressed in sailor suits, and the lucky, excited woman who’s been chosen to take part in a time-honored Navy tradition, the first homecoming kiss.
In this case, that woman is 22-year-old Citlalic Snell. She’s a sailor herself, assigned to destroyer Bainbridge, but today she’s in civilian clothes – jeans, boots and a stylish leather jacket. Watching pierside as the Oak Hill pulls into port, she absent-mindedly twists the small diamond ring that’s on her left hand.
Ah, but it's the first lesbian homecoming kiss. This moment is a small but glowing example of what is at stake in the coming election.
BTW, this story is the top item at HuffPo as I write this.
Frank Kameny brought the first civil rights claim in a U.S. court relating to sexual orientation (the Supreme Court rejected his petition in 1961) and ran for Congress as an openly gay candidate in 1971. He faced ridicule, assault and arrest. Although his early attempts at gaining equality were unsuccessful, they sparked more activism across the country. Today's vibrant, proud and vigorous LGBT community has leaders in the boardroom and the highest levels of government who follow the example he set. Kameny's fire burned exuberantly. His activism helped change the course of history and many lives. We can only hope more people like him will continue to eradicate injustice.
The Wall Street Journal is none too happy with the ineptitude of the Republican leaders in Congress. Here's the beginning of today's editorial:
GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell famously said a year ago that his main task in the 112th Congress was to make sure that President Obama would not be re-elected. Given how he and House Speaker John Boehner have handled the payroll tax debate, we wonder if they might end up re-electing the President before the 2012 campaign even begins in earnest.
The GOP leaders have somehow managed the remarkable feat of being blamed for opposing a one-year extension of a tax holiday that they are surely going to pass. This is no easy double play.
As Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and other Democrats are saying, this is a battle between the right and the far right of the Republican Party. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was shown high-fiving a Republican colleague as he emerged from a meeting in which he achieved the compromise on extending the FICA tax cut that has now been rejected by House Republicans. The GOP has been working furiously to spin this as a failure by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Democrats, but they can't escape the fact that it was the House Republican leadership that canceled a floor vote on the Senate version of the bill because it had become clear that enough Republicans were going to vote for it that it would have passed.
So the Republicans, in thrall to the House Tea Party caucus, have put themselves in the unenviable position of causing a tax increase for middle-class Americans, and ceded the tax-cutting mantle to Democrats.
A research organization is growing human skin in the hope of using it to trial cosmetics and medicines, reducing the need for animal testing. The synthetic skin is made using cells from infant foreskins.
The idea of a "skin factory" may sound sinister, but that is exactly what scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute in Stuttgart have created. Their so-called Hautfabrik grows tiny swatches of skin - not for skin grafts, but for testing consumer products.
The renowned institute is presenting their ground-breaking invention as an affordable and sustainable alternative to animal testing, which many consider unnecessarily cruel.