Update: London-based Russia Today reporter Sara Firth has resigned in protest over the lies her employer demanded regarding the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. Good for her.
Update: London-based Russia Today reporter Sara Firth has resigned in protest over the lies her employer demanded regarding the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17. Good for her.
There have been reports that more than 100 of those aboard Malaysian Airlines Flight MH17 were on their way to the World AIDS Conference in Melbourne. If so (and there have been conflicting reports), the crime of the downing of the commercial jetliner might also be devastating for AIDS research.
One of the passengers was eminent AIDS researcher Dr. Joep Lange, executive scientific director of the Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development and former president of the International AIDS Society. Dr. Lange once said, "If we can get a cold can of Coke to any part of Africa, we can certainly deliver AIDS treatment." That remains true.
The Guardian reports that a team of OSCE inspectors was barred from the crash site by Russian-backed rebels:
The commander of the rebel unit, a man called Ilya who is known as Commander Glum, expressed annoyance as the OSCE team stood its ground, keen to access the scenes of carnage. 'OSCE came here without negotiating,' he shouted, as they prepared to leave...We didn’t agree to meet the OSCE here, go away,' he added, firing a warning shot. The five-strong convoy departed rapidly.
Ayman Mohyeldin, the NBC News correspondent who personally witnessed yesterday’s killing by Israel of four Palestinian boys on a Gazan beach and who has received widespread praise for his brave and innovative coverage of the conflict, has been told by NBC executives to leave Gaza immediately. According to an NBC source upset at his treatment, the executives claimed the decision was motivated by “security concerns” as Israel prepares a ground invasion, a claim repeated to me by an NBC executive. But late yesterday, NBC sent another correspondent, Richard Engel, along with an American producer who has never been to Gaza and speaks no Arabic, into Gaza to cover the ongoing Israeli assault (both Mohyeldin and Engel speak Arabic).
Mohyeldin is an Egyptian-American with extensive experience reporting on that region. He has covered dozens of major Middle East events in the last decade for CNN, NBC and Al Jazeera English, where his reporting on the 2008 Israeli assault on Gaza made him a star of the network. NBC aggressively pursued him to leave Al Jazeera, paying him far more than the standard salary for its on-air correspondents.
Yesterday, Mohyeldin witnessed and then reported on the brutal killing by Israeli gunboats of four young boys as they played soccer on a beach in Gaza City. He was instrumental, both in social media and on the air, in conveying to the world the visceral horror of the attack.
NBC, you are beneath contempt.
Mandela the master politician at work, a few months after his release from prison. In the full video of this 1990 town hall meeting in NYC (here and here), Madiba's questioners from the audience are stacked with right-wing tools trying to bait him. As this clip shows, they woefully underestimated him. At another point, he said, "Some people make the mistake of assuming that their enemies must be our enemies." Cheers erupted. I understand those cheers much better now than I did then.
Tony Merevick at BuzzFeed reports:
The World Health Organization announced Friday that for the first time, it “strongly recommends” that men who have sex with men should consider antiretroviral drugs along with the use of condoms as an additional method of preventing HIV infection.
The health agency said that new prevention options such as pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) — currently in the form of a daily pill containing two drugs — are needed alongside condom use to reduce HIV infection rates among men who have sex with men, a key population in which infection rates remain high.
A Russian politician is referencing his country's "gay propaganda" law in hopes of overhauling the design of a banknote he's deemed pornographic.
Roman Khudyakov, a member of parliament for the nationalist LDPR party, wants to change Russia's 100-ruble banknote (worth less than $3), which depicts an image of a statue of Apollo that appears atop the Bolshoi Theater, Reuters originally reported. Khudyakov said he opposes the design because "you can see clearly that Apollo is naked, you can see his genitalia."
How appropriate that the Bolshoi would be involved. Incidentally, and I hate to mention this, but in the photo of the sculpture it appears that the horses' penises have been cut off.
(Hat tip: Craig Howell)
Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council explains how those Israel is endangered by "those who are pushing to make homosexuality and other forms of sexuality that deviate from God's design not just acceptable by the broader society but in many cases preferred under our law." I'd love to hear the details of how he thinks we are seeking an advantage rather than equality. But more noteworthy is the entire tone of his remarks, which suggests that he is no mere cynic but actually believes the presumptuous, dire nonsense he spouts.
International poison merchant Scott Lively is unhappy over the above segment by "Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver, whom he calls "a liar and a fraud." Well he would know. Oliver, who recently moved from Comedy Central's "Daily Show" to helm his own show on HBO, is one of the best things on television. I ran a portion of his interview with Pepe Julian Onziema before, but if you haven't seen the full thing, including his intro, I recommend it. Oliver nails it, and Pepe's restraint and quiet confidence and poise in the face of ignorance and hysteria are simply astounding. I saw Pepe at the U.S. Capitol last week, and he is not someone you forget.
A crowd of irrational xenophobes blocks buses in which federal authorities were transferring undocumented immigrants who had been detained. Reuters reports:
As the buses neared their destination, some 150 protesters waiving American flags and shouting "Go home - we don't want you here," filled a street leading to the access road for the Border Patrol station, blocking the buses from reaching the facility.
The demonstrators disregarded orders from police to disperse, but officers did not attempt to intervene physically to break up the demonstration.
After about 25 minutes, the buses backed up, turned around and left. A board member of the union representing border patrol agents, Chris Harris, said the buses would likely be rerouted to one of six other Border Patrol stations in the San Diego sector.
Roman Catholic Cardinal Nicolás de Jesús López Rodríguez, the powerful Archbishop of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and Primate of the Americas, is continuing his vindictive anti-gay crusade against James "Wally" Brewster, the United States' openly gay ambassador to the Caribbean nation.
Cardinal Rodríguez, who made headlines last year when he called Brewster a "faggot," is using the occasion of LGBT Pride Month to attack him again, this time telling him to "take his gay pride elsewhere."
I have tweeted the following:
@Pontifex Your Holiness, why does your foul-mouthed cardinal in Santo Domingo still have a job? http://t.co/ADcZVRq31R
As the above report from NTV Uganda indicates, the White House has announced further steps in response to the anti-LGBT persecution represented by Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Act. The new U.S. actions include:
(Hat tip for video to Frank Mugisha)
Get the popcorn! Megyn Kelly on Fox News confronts Dick and Liz Cheney on their shameless blaming of President Obama for the Bush-Cheney debacle in Iraq. As a general principle, the arsonist should not criticize the firefighter.
A "go slow" protest in Trafalgar Square by taxi drivers against competition from Uber could prompt more people to use the Uber app. I can't believe that's what the protesters intended.
The Guardian reports:
The United Nations is facing a chorus of criticism over the inauguration as president of its general assembly of Uganda's foreign minister, just four months after that country enforced a brutal and widely denounced anti-gay law.
Sam Kutesa will become ceremonial head of the world parliament on 11 June. There will be no ballots cast and he will be "elected by acclamation", as he is the only candidate for the 12-month post, having been chosen by t he African Union for the job that falls this year to Africa on a Buggins' turn basis.
But as the appointment nears, questions are being asked about his track record of alleged corruption, as well as his role as cabinet member of a government that has enacted one of the most virulent homophobic laws on the globe. Voices of disapproval have spread from Uganda to the general assembly's home in New York and to the US senate.
Sign the Change.org petition against Sam Kutesa.
Elias Isquith in Salon has a good piece on mainstream media's scorn for Glenn Greenwald, zeroing in on Michael Kinsley. Hey, Mike: tough investigative journos are not always the nicest people. So what? I recall Kinsley a couple of decades ago insisting that his pal and fellow talking head Pat Buchanan was not a racist--despite overwhelming evidence that he was, which he has continued to provide. The establishment blinders can get pretty comical.
How can any society be threatened by people who go to such lengths to be together?
Six young Iranians have been arrested after they uploaded a video of themselves dancing throughout Tehran to Pharrell’s “Happy.”
“Happy in Tehran” was uploaded to YouTube last month and garnered more than 165,000 views before being made private. It shows three men and three women — all unveiled — looking, well, happy as they dance and lip-synch to Pharrell’s hit.
But authorities in Tehran are calling the video “vulgar,” and all six were arrested and forced to formally apologize on state television. (Under Islamic law, women are required to cover themselves from head to toe in public, a rule monitored by “morality police.”)
Do not take your freedom for granted.
Greek American actress Olympia Dukakis speaks her mind.
From the United Nations, on the above video:
The United Nations Free & Equal campaign presents a message on this International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). Share your story and change hearts and minds -- we are all the foundation for this movement for equality.
Click here for more information.
President Barack Obama issued the following statement yesterday:
As The Independent reports, "The Russian Orthodox Church’s condemnation of Conchita Wurst’s Eurovision victory is being ridiculed on social media."
God is great, and She has a sense of humor.
(Hat tip: Joel Lawson)
From Australia. The astrophotos begin at 2:21. Photographer: Mike Salvay. Soundtrack: Vangelis - Across the Mountains (2004). Project, concept and design, light effects and editing by Sandro Sansone. Source: www.mikesalway.com.au.
(Hat tip: Dickie Popp)
Austrian drag performer Conchita Wurst won the Eurovision Song Contest in Copenhagen on Saturday with "Rise Like a Phoenix." As others have observed, right wing heads must have been exploding yesterday.
Former GLAA President Lorri Jean, longtime CEO of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, speaks at a protest rally outside the Beverly Hills Hotel against its owner, the Sultan of Brunei.
The protests, and associated boycotts, are in response to the Sultan's announcement of Islamic criminal punishments, including death by stoning for sodomy and adultery and cutting off limbs for theft. The Guardian reports, "Earlier this year, many users of Brunei's active social media – the only avenue for public criticism of authorities – denounced the penal code as barbaric and out of step with the gentle Bruneian national character."
Justin Snow reports at Metro Weekly.
The depravity of abducting over 200 girls and attributing your crime to Allah is as hard to fathom as the laxity of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in seeking to find and rescue them. AP reports above. CNN reports here.
HuffPo reports that Rep. Darrell Issa has subpoenaed Secretary of State John Kerry to appear at yet another hearing on the fabricated Benghazi scandal, this time on May 21 (Frank Kameny's birthday, incidentally). Issa accuses the State Department, which has responded voluminously to his nonsense, of "a disturbing disregard for its legal obligations to Congress."
Issa is lying. There is no scandal. The Benghazi affair has been more thoroughly investigated than the deaths in several similar incidents under Obama's predecessor. My first reaction to this is to say that Obama should publicly forbid anyone in the executive branch from wasting any further time responding to this partisan smear campaign led by Issa, should tell Republicans who are so inclined to lose their frigging minds over it, and should tell the GOP-controlled House to go ahead and pass articles of Impeachment over it if they are that reckless and unscrupulous. It is time to stop reasoning with these aggressively unreasonable and morally treasonous opportunists and start fighting them.
British swimmer Adam Walker was joined by a pod of dolphins on April 22 as he crossed New Zealand's Cook Strait as part of a fundraising competition to help the conservation of whales and dolphins.
Walker's YouTube page states:
Swim coach Adam Walker is swimming the hardest 7 oceans in the world the Oceans Seven in aid of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation charity (http://www.justgiving.com/swim4whales). Adam is set to be the first British person to complete the Oceans Seven and only four people in the world have completed it so far! With the English Channel, Gibraltar Straits, Catalina Channel, Molokai Strait, Tsugaru Strait and now the Cook Strait under his belt, Adams final swim of the seven takes place this August in the Irish Sea. Check Adams website for more details http://www.oceanwalkeruk.com
Walker spotted a great white shark swimming beneath him at about the time the dolphins surrounded him. So they may have been protecting him. They stayed with him for over an hour, until after the shark left. What a beautiful encounter with another intelligence, not on a distant world orbiting Proxima Centauri, but in Cook Strait. How we can allow such wonderful creatures to be enslaved in water parks I do not understand.
(Hat tip: Rob Neighbour)
[Above, the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda tells the story of how hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina, played by Don Cheadle, hid and protected 1,268 Hutu and Tutsi refugees during the Rwandan Genocide. Rusesabagina's story was told by Philip Gourevitch in his book, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda.]
20 years ago the horror was already planned, and needed only surface-to-air missiles to set it off. Wiki reports: "On April 6, 1994, an airplane carrying [Rwandan President Juvénal] Habyarimana and Burundian president Cyprien Ntaryamira was shot down on its descent into Kigali, killing all on board. Genocidal killings began the following day: soldiers, police and militia quickly executed key Tutsi and moderate Hutu leaders, then erected checkpoints and barricades and used Rwandans' national identity cards to systematically verify their ethnicity and kill Tutsi. These forces recruited or pressured Hutu civilians to arm themselves with machetes, clubs, blunt objects and other weapons to rape, maim and kill their Tutsi neighbors and destroy or steal their property."
The commemoration to be held in Kigali tomorrow, April 7, will not include a representative of France. Al Jazeera reports:
WAMU reports the demoralizing details.
The Shondes’ singer and bassist, Louisa Solomon, said, "The occupation is illegal, brutal, and unjust, and it is hard to imagine anyone with both a heart and a mind concluding anything else." Well, we can't have that kind of talk at DCJCC.
As a longtime defender of Israel, I increasingly find myself asking: If willful moral blindness is necessary for that defense, does it not undermine itself? As J Street understands, the West Bank Occupation is itself an existential threat to Israel. A two-state solution is the only sane path forward. Given demographic trends, if Israel stays on its current path, it will either stop being a Jewish state or it will stop being a democracy. It is unfathomable how the denial exemplified by DCJCC on this situation can possibly help Israel or the Jewish people.
I wrote to the leaders of DCJCC on this subject a year or two ago in response to an email I received from them. I got no response. If you have to hunker down and shut out contrary views, including from friends like me, you are not headed down a sustainable or happy path. This makes me inexpressibly sad.
A World Vision board member has resigned in protest after the Christian aid group quickly reversed its decision to hire employees in same-sex marriages.
Jacquelline Fuller, director of corporate giving for Google Inc., said in an email Wednesday to The Associated Press that she remains a "huge fan" of the group's work on behalf of the poor, but she resigned Friday "as I disagreed with the decision to exclude gay employees who marry." ...
Last week, World Vision U.S. was at the center of an uproar after confirming it would hire employees in gay marriages. The charity, based in Federal Way, was started by evangelicals and grew to become a nearly $1 billion international relief agency.
Some prominent evangelical leaders condemned the decision, and several thousand donors canceled their child sponsorships over the new policy. Within two days, the charity backtracked, causing a separate backlash, this time from evangelicals and others who supported recognition for married gay employees. Washington is among the states that recognize same-sex marriage.
I emailed the following this morning. You may wish to send your own message.
|Date:||Monday, March 31, 2014|
|To:||Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, email@example.com|
|Subject:||Please denounce rally statements by Archbishop Ntagali|
Dear Archbishop Welby:
I have been reading the Twitter feed from Ugandan gay rights leader Frank Mugisha on the rally held today in that country celebrating the Anti-Homosexuality Act:
One of the speakers at the rally is Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali. He celebrated the Ugandan church's having cut ties ten years ago with the Episcopal church in America over homosexuality. His statements, as reported by Mugisha, include "Homosexuality is the devil's agenda in Uganda," and "We have to be focused, without fear to fight the battles facing us, battles facing our families."
Ntagali is effectively endorsing persecution and murder. He should be expelled from the Anglican Communion. Your predecessor was so afraid of schism that he allowed the African bishops to behave disgracefully with no consequences, and even pandered to their threats over the participation of Americans at the Lambeth conference. But a problem like the aggressive bigotry and inhumanity of the African bishops cannot be dealt with by avoidance. What is the point of keeping someone at the table who is poisoning the food?
I appreciate that you have publicly argued with Ntagali over the treatment of gay people by the church. You have stated that some gay couples have loving, stable, and monogamous relationships, and that we deserve the "best pastoral care and friendship," but you still support the Church of England's opposition to active homosexuality (that last phrase is according to the BBC). I am sorry, but this will not do. To be merely tolerated and told we must embrace lifelong celibacy is not acceptance and is not humane. Our love and its expression are as good as anybody else's. We are a threat to no one. We are entitled to equal protection as citizens.
I urge you at a minimum to denounce the participation and remarks by Archbishop Ntagali at the anti-gay rally in Uganda, and not to put a facade of unity before the rights of LGBT people whom some Anglican leaders are persecuting.
I have been in contact in recent days and weeks with persecuted and hunted Ugandan friends. I am grateful to hear from them at all, as it means they are still alive. Asylum efforts are not enough, because most LGBT Ugandans will remain in their country, whose leaders avoid addressing real problems in favor of scapegoating a minority. Words fail in expressing my admiration and respect for Frank Mugisha, who holds his head up and speaks out despite being in grave danger. Please add your respected voice for decency in the face of this mounting horror.
Richard J. Rosendall
I am reading Frank Mugisha's Twitter feed. One of the speakers at the rally in Uganda celebrating the Anti-Homosexuality Act is Anglican Archbishop Stanley Ntagali. Indeed, he is delivering the "message of the day." He celebrates the Ugandan church's having cut ties ten years ago with the Episcopal church in America over homosexuality. Here are some of Mugisha's tweets and retweets.
Ugandan Arch Bishop says, this is the first time all religious sectors are coming together to agree on one cause# anti gay law celebrations— Dr. Frank Mugisha (@frankmugisha) March 31, 2014
Arch Bishops says, homosexuality is the devil's agenda in Uganda .— Dr. Frank Mugisha (@frankmugisha) March 31, 2014
BuzzFeed reports. Bravo and best wishes to Frank Mugisha, Julian Pepe Onziema, and their fellow petitioners.
Mother Jones has published a lengthy profile of viciously anti-gay evangelical Scott Lively.
I missed this item from WaPo when it came out on Sunday. Good for the U.S. Embassy and the Russian athletes.
(Hat tip: Lisa Keen)
(Hat tip: Right Wing Watch)
Here's the latest on international affairs from the former half governor who can see Russia from her house, in an interview with Sean Hannity:
People are looking at Putin as one who wrestles bears and drills for oil. They look at our president as one who wears mom jeans and equivocates and bloviates.
Laura Clawson writes at Daily Kos:
Here's hoping the producers of Saturday Night Live have Tina Fey on the phone right now, begging her to appear this weekend. Because Sarah Palin just wrote their script for them, no revisions or edits needed.
Love the scarf. Will someone please strangle him with it?
German Chancellor Angela Merkel told President Obama after speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin that she was not sure he was in touch with reality.
Prediction: this is not going to happen. But Winter Storm Titan is headed for the eastern U.S.