The reason for the season.

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The cutesy little commercials and signs and even storefronts (guess where I won't be shopping) that say, "Remember, Jesus is the reason for the season" irritate me to no end.
Don't you remember anything from grade school science? The tilt of the earth's axis is the reason for the season.
Christians don't get to monopolize an entire season. They don't even get to claim the entire month of December. There's Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Bodhi Day, and in Islam there's either Eid ul-Fitr or Al-Hijra depending on their calendar.
Jesus is not the reason for the season. He's the reason for your holiday of Christmas, for which you stole the practices and traditions of Pagans. Get over yourselves.

Dear fellow Pagans/Wiccans/Witches and the like,

9:28 AM Posted In , , , Edit This 3 Comments »
It is spelled ALTAR, with an "A." Alter with an "E" means to change something. Here, I will even use them in sentences for you.
She altered her appearance with a spell.
He performed the spell at the altar.
Quit butchering the English language.
~SLiver of Jade

Argument for same-sex marriage

3:42 PM Posted In , , , , Edit This 0 Comments »
The following came up in a debate on a Ravelry forum by member Farfalla (note: you have to be a member to view it), which I found to be wonderfully and sadly true as are most of her posts and observations. Formatting imposed by me, but the rest is all her.
"An argument has been coalescing in my mind recently, as more and more religious people are making me understand that their definition of marriage is “a specific type of union that is sanctified by God according to their beliefs.”
I draw your attention to an adoptive mother. She is not, biologically, a mother. But she is legally (and socially and practically) a mother. But none of that will ever make her biologically a mother. Let’s say a group of people, for some reason, decided that it was patently ridiculous for someone to be legally allowed to use the term ‘mother’ and have all the rights & responsibilities associated with motherhood when they were clearly, factually, not a mother biologically. They decided that the definition of a mother was a female who had borne a child, and to that child, or children, she was now a mother. Well, that’s impossible to argue with, right? I mean, that’s the biological definition of mother.
To those religious people who believe that a marriage is any union between any one man and woman and therefore sanctified, that definition is as true to them as the biological definition of mother is a true definition. But that’s the key–it’s only one definition of mother. Legally, mother has another meaning. You can be an adoptive mother without having to call it “civil parenthood” or “nonbiological parenthood” or some other weird word whose rights were not clearly defined already and may not be recognized even if legal. You’re just a mother – a different type of mother.
So why can’t we do it this way with marriage? To be a biological mother or a legal mother you don’t have to fulfill the same criteria. It should be that to have a (sanctified according to some religions) marriage and a (legal; has nothing to do with religion) marriage you don’t have to have the same criteria, either.
The stranger who swats the cat away from eating my hair at night pointed out that in Connecticut, the reason they wound up with gay marriage was that they tried separate but equal (the civil union thang) and people weren’t recognizing it. Like, they passed a law saying they were supposed to be treated equally, but people weren’t. It’s not just a word. It’s over a thousand individual rights. That’s one definition of marriage. The one some Christians talk about is clearly another one. We don’t need another word, just like we don’t need to call someone a life parent or some other contorted phrase when they’re a mom of an adopted kid."

Outrage of the Day Part 2-Homophobia, rape, insurance, and pregnancy

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"Jury selection began in a federal lawsuit against two Chicago police officers accused of beating a gay man.
Alexander Ruppert claims that officers Vincent Torres and Kent Pemberton beat him and denied him his civil rights solely because of his sexuality in a 2006 altercation.
Ruppert, 37, says he was beaten nearly unconscious while the cops hurled anti-gay remarks at him and then placed him in a holding cell for two days without food or water.
The lawsuit also names the City of Chicago as a defendant.
The lawsuit claims Ruppert was removed by the two officers from the Uptown Lounge following a disturbance and placed in a squad car.
He was not initially charged with any offense and was not handcuffed, court papers say.
The suit says that Ruppert then was driven to deserted area behind a theater where he was beaten while the officers called him a “faggot” and other derogatory remarks.
The cops allegedly stopped the beating when Ruppert told them he had AIDS.
Ruppert was then taken to an area hospital where he received 16 stitches for injuries to his face and head.
The lawsuit says that following the hospital visit, he was taken to the Foster Avenue police station and held for 48 hours without food or water. The court papers say that Ruppert was forced to drink from a toilet.
He was charged with resisting arrest and aggravated battery against a police officer, and held for a week in the Cook County Jail, until he could make a $50,000 bond.
The felony charges were dropped after Ruppert agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor disorderly conduct charge."
"Prosecutors have asked two patrolmen to turn themselves in to face charges in the case of a man who claims he was sodomized during an arrest on a subway platform, the officers’ lawyers said Monday.
Officers Richard Kern and Alex Cruz face arraignment Tuesday on charges contained in a sealed indictment, the lawyers said. A third officer also is expected to surrender.
The lawyers were not notified of specific charges but said their clients would plead not guilty.
Representatives of the district attorney’s office declined to comment.
“We don’t know what the people’s proof is, but as far as I’m concerned my client is not guilty,” said Kern’s attorney, John Patten.
Cruz “never observed any misconduct nor engaged in any misconduct,” said his lawyer, Stuart London.
The two officers approached Michael Mineo on Oct. 15 outside a subway station because they believed he was smoking marijuana, police said. When Mineo fled into the station, they and two other uniformed officers wrestled him to the ground face down and handcuffed him.
Mineo, 24, a body piercer at a tattoo parlor, claims that during the struggle his pants were pulled down and one of the officers sodomized him. He has said he believed he was violated with the antenna of a hand-held radio, and that the assailant was Cruz.
A transit officer told a grand jury last month that he saw Kern place a baton near Mineo’s buttocks, according to a law enforcement official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the proceedings are not public.
The Police Department has said other eyewitness witness accounts don’t support Mineo’s claim.
Mineo was given a ticket for disorderly conduct. He was hospitalized for several days and treated for anal injuries, according to medical records reviewed by The Associated Press.
Meanwhile, in a separate New York City case, authorities say a 16-year-old boy has been charged with sodomizing a 14-year-old boy with a broomstick.
The Staten Island district attorney’s office says it is not ruling out more arrests.
Authorities said 16-year-old Joseph Lavalle was arraigned Saturday on a charge of aggravated sexual abuse and assault. He was released on his own recognizance and is due for another court appearance next month.
His attorney, Richard Kopacz, was not in his office for comment Monday morning.
Police say the incident occurred last week as the victim, the suspect and several other teens were hanging out together in the backyard of a Staten Island home."
"[Starla D.] Darling, who was pregnant when her insurance ran out, worked at Archway for eight years, and her father, Franklin J. Phillips, worked there for 24 years.
"When I heard that I was losing my insurance," she said, "I was scared. I remember that the bill for my son's delivery in 2005 was about $9,000, and I knew I would never be able to pay that by myself."
So Ms. Darling asked her midwife to induce labor two days before her health insurance expired.
"I was determined that we were getting this baby out, and it was going to be paid for," said Ms. Darling, who was interviewed at her home here as she cradled the infant in her arms.
As it turned out, the insurance company denied her claim, leaving Ms. Darling with more than $17,000 in medical bills."

Outrage of the Day-Man forfeits job to marry

11:52 AM Posted In , Edit This 1 Comment »
"One familiar sound during the holidays is the ringing of Salvation Army bells, beckoning passersby to spread good will and compassion for their fellow man.
One volunteer is forced to leave his job because he wants to marry a non-member.
But for Salvation Army Capt. Johnny Harsh, that same sound signifies quite the opposite. It is the sound of an entire life he will likely be forced to leave behind -- all because he fell in love and found himself in opposition to church doctrine that is nearly a century and a half old.
The Salvation Army, a church established in the 1860s and widely known for its charity work, expressly forbids officers to marry non-officers of the church.
That means that Harsh, after working for the church for 14 years, will have to forfeit his job in order to marry his girlfriend and non-member, Cia.
"This ruling, like a lot of other things in other churches, is a manmade rule," Harsh told "Good Morning America." "God does not look at a Salvation Army uniform." "
Compassion is not on the Salvation Army's agenda. I'll be donating my spare change elsewhere.

Cat Videos

4:23 PM Posted In Edit This 0 Comments »


Outrage of the Day-Woman Killed at Work Because of Race

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"Taneka Talley was stabbed to death in March 2006 while she was working as a clerk at a Dollar Tree store in Fairfield. Her killer’s only motive, prosecutors say, is that she was African American. That’s also the reason the store’s workers’ compensation insurer is denying $250,000 in death benefits to Talley’s 11-year-old son.

The boy’s grandmother, the child’s legal guardian, said Specialty Risk Services is taking the position that a racially motivated killing is personal, not work-related - even though the man charged with killing Talley had never met her before. The insurance company, Dollar Tree and their lawyers aren’t talking publicly about the case but are defending their position before a state appeals board that hears workers’ compensation disputes.

The opposition by Dollar Tree and its insurers to paying benefits to Talley’s son represents an attempt to set new limits on California’s workers’ compensation system, under which a company provides benefits to employees or their survivors for work-related deaths or injuries regardless of whether the firm was at fault.
“The doctors testify that Mr. Thompson’s motivation in stabbing Taneka Talley was purely race motivated,” attorney Kelly Hamilton wrote. “As such, it is our belief that our denial in this matter is proper.”

The compensation law doesn’t consider an on-the-job injury to be work-related if the
motives were entirely personal - for example, if an estranged lover or spouse comes to the workplace and attacks an employee because of a private grudge.

“Taneka Talley was at work, doing her job, when she was killed,” the lawyer said. “If she had not been in that store, she would not have been available to (the killer), and she would still be alive.

“It’s shocking that Dollar Tree and its insurance carrier are using the alleged racist motivation of a killer as an excuse to get out of paying benefits,” Stagliano said. (San Francisco Chronicle)"
via Feminocracy. Even the worker's comp aside, it's horrible that someone thought she should die because of the colour of her skin. Makes me sick.

The Colbert Report- Radical Knitting

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Here they go again.

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"Unfortunately for the little lord Jesus, his manger was placed in the Illinois Capitol, where it could draw criticism on many fronts. On the one hand, protests and demonstrations are allowed at the Capitol. Displays such as this, which use freedom of expression, are clearly allowed within the grounds of the capitol building.On the other hand, the Constitution states that the governments of the United States will be separated from religious connections. Putting a nativity scene inside of a government building runs completely against that idea. In fact, it is a blatant attempt at mixing religion and government.Unlike a Christmas tree, which despite the name can be decorated in many ways to support different religions and ideas, a nativity scene depicts the baby Jesus lying in a manger, a story directly from the Bible."
This shit happens every year, particularly in the Midwest and the South. Pisses me off because you know they would never allow a Goddess, also. (Jesus was a Sun God, however. Another note on changing carols to fit Paganism is I substitute "Sun King" for "Jesus"). If anyone even tried that in this area, I would be among the first in line to be displaying a lunar Goddess right next to the baby Jesus. And it wouldn't be a politically correct, "maybe She's really the Virgin Mary" type Goddess, either. We're talking pentagrams, Goddess symbols, and the like so there is no question, whatsoever.

I don't agree with...

4:13 PM Posted In , , , Edit This 0 Comments »
the phrase "I don't agree with." As in "I don't agree with your lifestyle." There is nothing to agree upon. You don't like it? Fine. Don't be whatever it is you take offense to. Don't be gay, of a certain religion, kinky, etc. I am not asking anything of you except, "Let me live as I choose/the way I am." The only thing that can even be agreed upon is that I won't hit on you, ask you to dance naked around a bonfire, or go to Fetish Night with me... Unless you want to.
"I don't agree with your lifestyle" is just a slightly more polite way of saying "I don't approve. You are wrong, and you are going to hell." That's nice. I didn't ask for your opinion, but while we're at it "I don't agree with yours, either." Which you know by now is a societally correct way of saying "You are a hate-mongering bigot whose head is so far up your ass that you condemn anyone who doesn't hold the exact same beliefs as you."

Dad, your white male privilege is showing.

12:11 PM Posted In , , , Edit This 0 Comments »
While people watching (and being watched in turn) with my dad over the weekend, I was reminded that he is somewhat of a "good, ole' boy" and lives in a conservative, small, primarily white Christian town. We were at Fry's in Wilsonville and he commented on how many Asians were shopping there, he guessed that a third of our fellow shoppers were and attributed it to so many electronics brands being based in those parts of the world. I wouldn't say that many, but I suppose that in his mind, more than one group is enough for comment. I did remind him that we were in an area with more diversity than where he lives.
He also referred to a singer as "a black guy from such and such." Really, is the race even an issue in the guy's performance? Would he refer to a white performer as "a white guy"? No. And yes, if the artist in question were a woman, he would refer to her as a "gal" with some size connotation. (i.e. "big gal" vs. "little gal"). I grew up hearing him say about cheerleaders while watching football, "Not bad for a bunch of fat chicks." Yes, he does mean it somewhat ironically. I do love him, but I have mentioned before that my father is the primary reason I am a feminist.
I remember a friend of my father's whom I had never met before came into the backyard of our rural farmhouse while I was jumping on the trampoline. I was about 8-10 years old. I stopped and watched him warily. He laughed and asked, "You're probably wondering what a strange black man is doing in your yard, aren't you?" He probably was the first black man I had ever met. I answered, "No, I am wondering why there is a strange man in my yard and who he is." In other words, the fact that there was a stranger at all in our yard was the only thing going through my head. (In case you are wondering, Dad had sent him out back to look at our aviaries as we raised exotic birds until he could finish his telephone call).
Now I am not saying that I am completely colour-blind, either. For example, last night at the crowded grocery store I noted that a gentleman who moved so I could squeeze by was tall and black. The woman he was with was short, and perhaps Latina, I don't remember exactly. There was also a very pregnant white woman in the soup aisle. While I was eyeing toys for my niece, I moved out of the way for a white man with a pot belly and a Hawaiian shirt. A male store employee (didn't note race, but I think he was white) almost knocked over a pallet of heavy boxes. And the checkout clerk was a white woman with long hair. There was a man and his daughter looking at seat covers for a car, I believe they were both Latino. The only racist thought that went through my head about any of them was that many Latinos in this area took good care of their cars and have pride in them, like putting religious stickers, keeping them very clean, and their names in gothic font in the back windshield. Then again, I also thought the Hawaiian shirt guy was rude for not even smiling when I made a crack that I was hogging the whole aisle to myself. And I noted that the pregnant woman was a bit older than the average for conceiving, I made a guess at her age being late 30's/early 40's.
I am just a horrible person for people watching, I suppose.

Blog-a-licious

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NZ columnist: Women would stop getting beaten if they'd just stop having abortions, Feministing.
In Italy, Feminism Out, Women As Sex Symbols In also at Feministing. I heard that this morning on NPR, also.
And another plug for Feministing, Walgreens harasses woman buying Plan B.
Update on Amanda Palmer at Shakespeare's Sister.
Shakespeare's Sister also has a wonderful quote from Robert Novak showing what a douche he is.
Eating disorders in children growing, the F-Word. No surprise there.

Knitting Madness

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Will be rather quiet this month as I have a pile of knitting projects to finish for the holidays. Yes, I did refer to holidays in the plural. I do celebrate Yule and then Christmas in a secular fashion with my family. The good news is, is that I have a little extra time to get my family's done. The bad news is, is that my friends' gifts have to get done first.

Knitting in Public

12:59 PM Posted In , Edit This 0 Comments »
While out shopping on Black Friday with my family, at one large electronics store my dad decided he would rather get off his feet and sit on the benches at the front of the store. Where we sat, everyone leaving had to pass by us. So I took out my knitting and worked on my first ever pair of socks.
People stared as they passed. I joked to my dad that I felt like I was on display, and he said, "On your left we have the rare and endangered knitter..." One male teenager told me that it was "cool." I felt special. :D

Promoting Christianity in the military

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"In March 2008, this presentation, titled "A New Approach To Suicide Prevention: Developing Purpose-Driven Airmen," was shown at a commander's call that was mandatory for an estimated 1,000 of Lakenheath's Air Force personnel, and sent out by email to the entire base of over 5,000 the following day. As the use of the phrase "Purpose-Driven" in its title implies, also incorporated into this presentation is the wisdom of presidential candidate inquisitor Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, a book that, second only to the Bible itself, is the most heavily promoted religious book in the military.
Following a slide stating, "Dr. Rick Warren's book, The Purpose Driven Life, provides a powerful model for Suicide Prevention, developing leaders, and making troops combat ready and effective," the author of the presentation, Air Force chaplain Capt. Christian Biscotti, brings up Charles Darwin for the first time in defining what he calls "3 Levels of Purpose."On one of the next slides, Capt. Biscotti states that if we don't know where we came from we are lost, and that knowing where we come from is the origin of hope. This is followed by a slide comparing "Chance" and "Design," a.k.a. evolution and creationism.
And, why not work a little religious nationalism into this "suicide prevention" presentation? (I'm still trying to figure out how Capt. Biscotti came up with the notion that Charles Darwin was a leader of the former Soviet Union.)
Another segment of Capt. Biscotti's presentation, titled "FAITH is Foremost," contains three stories -- his own personal story, the story of the woman who made the news a few years back by talking her way out of a hostage situation by reading to her captor from The Purpose Driven Life, and, incredibly inappropriately for a presentation promoting religion, the story of Pat Tillman. I'm sure everyone remembers Lt. Col. Ralph Kauzlarich's outrageous remarks that Tillman's parents' dissatisfaction with the investigation of their son's death was caused by their religious beliefs, or lack thereof, saying in an ESPN.com interview, "When you die, I mean, there is supposedly a better life, right? Well, if you are an atheist and you don't believe in anything, if you die, what is there to go to? Nothing. You are worm dirt. So for their son to die for nothing, and now he is no more -- that is pretty hard to get your head around that. So I don't know how an atheist thinks. I can only imagine that that would be pretty tough." I'm fairly certain that the Tillmans would not be very happy to find out that their son is now being used as an example in a presentation promoting religion to the military.
The presentation ends by asking the viewer to receive their fist tool, which is to "Impart Faith." According to MRFF founder and president Mikey Weinstein, "The shocking discovery of this hideously unconstitutional, mandatory, military PowerPoint presentation, which is essentially coterminous with Rick Warren's sectarian Purpose Driven Life, takes the quintessential cake as far as magnitude of odiousness of illegality is concerned. Indeed, it is arguably not only the most prominent example in MRFF's current Federal lawsuit against the DoD of the 'pervasive and pernicious pattern and practice' of unconstitutional rape of the religious freedoms of our honorable armed forces members, but an example of the reckless substitution of religious ideology for the real professional help that could save the life of a member of our armed forces considering suicide.
Bertrand Russell once sagaciously opined that very few people can be happy without hating another person, nation or creed. This 'Purpose-Driven Airmen' mandatory presentation is the epitome of military-sanctioned 'hatred of the other' and those commanding its viewing must face trial by General Courts Martial."
The entire "Purpose-Driven Airmen" PowerPoint presentation can be viewed here."
Sad to say, I am not all that surprised. My inability to believe in Christianity's doctrine that contributed to my suicidal idealogy when I was younger. I simply could not believe the bull and contradictions touted in the Bible, but the faith of my friends seemed to make them happy so it should work for me, right? Wrong. When I stopped forcing myself, I defined what I felt in my heart which then led me down what the military would see as the "path of sin."
When you join the military, you give up some rights. Evidently the freedom of religion is one of those.

Minestrone

12:16 PM Posted In Edit This 0 Comments »
Minestrone
1 can tomato paste or sauce
Half cup olive oil
Basil
Oregano
Thyme
Bay
Pepper
Cumin
Red pepper
Garlic
Vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, potatoes, cabbage, corn, carrots, celery, mushrooms, etc.
Beans such as pinto, northern, lima, green, kidney, etc.
Pasta such as spaghetti, bow tie, tortellini, etc.
I don't tend to use pasta as I'd rather have a slice of warm bread, but since minestrone's "supposed" to have it... I add cumin and red pepper because I like a little bit of kick. Heat until warm through and pasta is cooked. Or toss in a crockpot for several hours. As I discovered with my last batch, DO NOT OVERCOOK! It still tastes great, it's just really mushy.

Pagan Solstice Carols

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In case you haven't noticed, the Holiday Season is emminent. The songs are already on the radio. And it bugs me every time I hear the word "Christmas" in the music, which I actually do like. I feel like I'm being beaten over the head with it: "You are the weird one for not following a holiday which has been twisted and commercialized from its original meaning on another holiday that has been plagiarized from your religion." Yeah, I gots issues. And Pagan versions of songs will most likely never be played on the radio, at least, not in my lifetime.
But I did realize in my singing along to the radio (don't worry, no one was present for the audial atrocity committed) that "Solstice" and "Christmas" rhyme. So I substitued Solstice accordingly. It's only taken me six years to figure that one out. Yes, I are teh genius.
This website has some good Pagan-friendly versions of carols. Such as using "Yuletide" in "Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas." I figure it's only fair to use Christian carols since they did co-opt our holiday first.

Just when you thought...

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commercials couldn't get any dumber.

WWJD? Have sex.

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This has me utterly speechless.

Why bike?

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Last night was D'n'D night, and the DM's house is about a mile away from mine, two at the most. I pulled on three sweaters, gloves, scarf, bag full of gaming gear, and a headlamp and hopped on my bike.
Now the Green Machine had been sitting in a barn for a year, not through any choice of my own, but she seemed ok. The light kit I picked up the other day didn't work. Going to pick up yet another set of new batteries to see if the ones I used were bad right out of the packaging since they were a couple of years old. About halfway there I noticed the front tire was going flat. Add a bicycle pump to my shopping list, and perhaps a fix-a-flat or even a new tire. The kickstand was loose, and I had no tools immediately available to fix it. The front handlebars squeaked horribly every time they moved. No idea how to fix/oil that. I think the chain was having issues, will have to ride some more to determine if there is a problem.
Everyone at game asked if my car was ok. A perfectly understandable question as she was recently incapacitated, but no, Lilith is fine. The next question was: Why did you bike?
A: It's cheaper.
B: It's better for the environment.
C: It's healthier for me.
All the technical problems didn't even occur to me at the time. But if you think about it, it's really not so different from a car. Check the pressure in the tires. Check the fluids, refill or change as necessary. Fuel. Burnt out lights. Brake checks.

Christian policeman fired for anti-gay emails

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"A Christian policeman who circulated emails at work suggesting homosexuality was sinful has been sacked for misconduct.
Constable Graham Cogman, who had previously threatened to take Norfolk Police to an employment tribunal, claims the force has been "bombarded" by posters advertising gay events.
"The blatant support for homosexual rights in Norfolk Police makes being a Christian officer extremely difficult," he told the Mail on Sunday in July.
The complaints against PC Cogman stem back to 1995 when a gay colleague sent emails round to staff encouraging them to support Gay History Month by wearing a pink ribbon.
In response to this the Constable circulated emails quoting the Bible, suggesting homosexual sex was sinful.
He was sent to a disciplinary tribunal who fined him 13 days pay and barred him from using the internal messaging system.
Despite the ban, PC Cogman posted a link to an American Christian helpline.
When he was interviewed by bosses about it he said he had posted the link as he was trying to help people struggling with their sexuality."
Somehow, I think the only people who would be "struggling with their sexuality" are the ones he might have convinced are wrong and evil.

Just in time...

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"A British man was jailed Tuesday for raping two of his daughters and fathering nine children over 27 years, a case with echoes of Austria's Josef Fritzl.
The two daughters were made pregnant 19 times; there were nine births, five miscarriages and five terminations. Seven of the children are alive but suffer genetic deformities.
The father, who cannot be named for legal reasons banning the identification of his victims and the surviving children, pleaded guilty Tuesday at Sheffield Crown Court, northern England, and was sentenced to serve 25 life sentences to run concurrently.
The judge said the minimum term the 56-year-old rapist should serve in jail should be 19½ years.
South Yorkshire Police Chief Superintendent Simon Torr said, "The victims of these terrible crimes have asked me to state the following: 'His detention in prison brings us only the knowledge that he cannot physically touch us again. The suffering he has caused will continue for many years, and we must now concentrate our thoughts on finding the strength to rebuild our lives.'
Speaking for the police, Torr added, "The main concern ... is for those who have been so badly affected: the victims who have suffered a terrible ordeal. We will continue to offer them our full support to try and help them get on with their lives.
"As far as the sentence goes, we are satisfied that this offender has received the strongest possible punishment for his heinous crimes. Now we need to ensure continuing support for those who have suffered as a result of his actions.""

Oh, I would not say that it's the strongest possible punishment. Not unless he was raped and beaten on a daily basis while in prison. And not even then, because he would not be forced to give birth.

Burundi Criminalizes Homosexuality

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"The lower house in the central African nation of Burundi has passed legislation making homosexuality a federal crime.
The legislation, which must first be approved by Burundi’s senate, is part of a sweeping reform of the country’s legal system that for the first time abolishes the death penalty and creates laws on genocide.
The new law[s] also protect women and children from all forms of violence - especially sexual violence.
Burundi is struggling to emerge from a civil war that has resulted in more than 300,000 deaths since 1993. The provisions on genocide and the abolition of the death
penalty are considered part of the healing process, but increasingly, hardliners have blamed many of the country’s problems on gays."
Good job on protecting women and children from violence, major fail on outlawing gays. In case you have never heard of Burundi...

Florida judge strikes down ban on gay adoptions.

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"Today, a Florida judge ruled that the state’s strict law banning the adoption of children by same-sex couples is unconstitutional. Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman rejected the state’s arguments that there is “a supposed dark cloud hovering over homes of homosexuals and their children.” She noted that gay people are allowed to be foster parents, adding, “There is no rational basis to prohibit gay parents from adopting.” Florida was the only state with an outright ban, although Utah “bans any unmarried straight or gay couples from adopting or fostering children. Mississippi bans gay couples, but not single gays, from adopting.”"

Save Coal River Mountain

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"Coal River Mountain in West Virginia is a beautiful forested area surrounded by communities with long experience with coal mining as been practiced for decades. How long have these folks been settled around the mountain? Many are descendants of those who moved to the area on land grants given soldiers in the Revolutionary War. Now the mountain itself is threatened by coal mining as it's been practiced under the Bush administration -- mountaintop removal."
Article and petition here.

Women's Priorities for Obama

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"The YWCA released a new survey today entitled: "What Women Want: A National Survey of Priorities and Concerns." According to their press release, the survey (see PDF) interviewed 1,000 women between 18 and 70 years old by phone nationwide.The findings indicate generational differences between younger women (18-29) and older women, namely that younger women are more concerned than older women about discrimination based on race or religion.
Seventy-seven percent of women under 30 name civil rights and racial justice as top priorities for the Obama administration compared to a little over half of the older women surveyed. However, the survey indicated agreement across generations on naming violence against women as another top priority. Close to 75 percent of women want Obama to address violence against women in his first-year in office.
Lorraine Cole, Chief Executive Officer of YWCA USA, explained the generation gap on racial issues to the Associated Press: "Older women have seen more progress and are therefore more optimistic about racial status, race relations and racial justice issues in this country, so that may be part of the explanation." She added, "Young women do not have that firsthand knowledge, but only go on their personal experiences and experiences of women like them." "
Just because progress has been made, does not mean that the war is won.

Congo report

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"Congolese state security forces have killed an estimated 500 people and detained about 1,000 more, many of whom have been tortured, in the two years since elections that were meant to bring democracy, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The brutal repression against perceived opponents began during the 2006 elections that carried President Joseph Kabila to power, and has continued to the present.
The 96-page report, "‘We Will Crush You': The Restriction of Political Space in the Democratic Republic of Congo," documents the Kabila government's use of violence and intimidation to eliminate political opponents. Human Rights Watch found that Kabila himself set the tone and direction by giving orders to "crush" or "neutralize" the "enemies of democracy," implying it was acceptable to use unlawful force against them.
"While everyone focuses on the violence in eastern Congo, government abuses against political opponents attract little attention," said Anneke Van Woudenberg, senior researcher in the Africa Division of Human Rights Watch. "Efforts to build a democratic Congo are being stifled not just by rebellion but also by the Kabila government's repression."
On the second anniversary of Kabila's November 28, 2006 election victory, the Congo remains impoverished and in conflict. Those in western Congo who might challenge government policies face brutal repression, while in the east the armed conflict with renegade general Laurent Nkunda's forces has resulted in horrific atrocities by all sides.
The report is based on months of extensive field research including interviews with more than 250 victims, witnesses, and officials. Human Rights Watch documented how Kabila's subordinates worked through several state security forces - including the paramilitary Republican Guards, a "secret commission," the special Simba battalion of the police, and the intelligence services - to crack down on perceived opponents in the capital Kinshasa and in Bas Congo province.
Following the 2006 elections, which were largely financed by international donors, foreign governments focused on winning favor with Kabila's new government and kept silent about human rights abuses and the government's increasingly repressive rule. United Nations reports documenting government involvement in politically motivated crimes were deliberately buried or published too late to have any significant impact on events, Human Rights Watch found.
The report says that state agents particularly targeted persons from Equateur province and others thought to support the defeated presidential candidate, Jean-Pierre Bemba, as well as adherents of Bundu Dia Kongo (BDK), a political-religious group based in Bas Congo that promotes greater provincial autonomy and had considerable support in legislative elections.
At least 500 perceived opponents of the government were deliberately killed or summarily executed. In some of the most violent episodes, state agents tried to cover up the crimes by dumping bodies in the Congo River or by secretly burying them in mass graves. Government officials blocked efforts to investigate by UN human rights staff, Congolese and international human rights monitors, and family members of victims.
The detentions came in waves of arrests during the past two years. Detainees and former detainees described torture, including beatings, whippings, mock executions, and the use of electric batons on their genitals and other parts of their bodies. Some were kept chained for days or weeks and many were forced to sign confessions saying they had been involved in coup plots against Kabila.
In mid-October 2008, state agents arbitrarily arrested at least 20 people in Kinshasa, the majority from Equateur province, including a woman and her 3-month-old baby. Human Rights Watch estimated that at least 200 people detained in politically related cases continue to be held without trial in prisons in Bas Congo and Kinshasa.
Armed groups associated with Bemba and BDK adherents also were responsible for killing state agents and ordinary people, including in incidents in Bas Congo in February 2007 and in Kinshasa in March 2007. In these cases, the police and army had a duty to restore order, but often did so with excessive force.
Congolese officials have refused to acknowledge abuses committed by state agents despite inquiries by the National Assembly, the media, and other citizens or groups. The officials claimed that the victims were plotting coup attempts or otherwise threatening state authority, but they provided no convincing evidence of such charges and brought only a handful of cases to court.
Journalists who were linked to the political opposition or who protested abuses were threatened, arbitrarily arrested, and in some cases tortured by government agents. The government closed down radio stations and television networks that were linked to the opposition or broadcast their views. Several of these stations were later permitted to operate again.
The National Assembly has tried to scrutinize the conduct of the government. Opposition members sometimes boycotted sessions in protest of the abuses, with some limited impact. However, these efforts have not been enough to stop the killings or the wide-scale arbitrary arrests.
Human Rights Watch called on the government to establish a high-level task force under the authority of the Ministry of Justice with input from human rights experts to document the abuses by state agents and release those held illegally. It also called on Congo's National Assembly to conduct a public inquiry into the abuses by state security agents and to prosecute those responsible.
"The Congolese people deserve a government which will uphold their democratic rights, not one that represses opponents," said Van Woudenberg. "An important first step would be to bring to justice those officials responsible for killings and torture."
Selected accounts from the report:
"As they beat me with sticks and whips, the soldiers repeatedly shouted, ‘We will crush you! We will crush you!' Then they threatened to kill me and others who opposed Kabila."

- A political party activist detained and tortured in Kinshasa in March 2007 by President Kabila's Republican Guards.
"At 3 in the morning seven Republican Guards came into the prison. They took 10 of the prisoners, tied their hands, blindfolded them, and taped pieces of cardboard over their mouths so they couldn't scream. The captain who did this said he had received orders. He said he would drink the blood of Equateurians that night. They took them away.... I knew one of the guards and asked what had happened. He said the others had been taken to the [Congo] river near Kinsuka and killed."

- A Congolese army officer from the Ngwaka ethnic group, arrested by the Republican Guard on March 23, 2007 and detained at Camp Tshatshi.
"They started to hit me. They stripped off my clothes. They took four sets of handcuffs and tied my hands behind me and then to my feet. I was thrown on the ground in this position... They gave me electric shocks all over my body. They put the electric baton in my anus and on my genitals.... I cried so much that I could hardly see any more. I shouted I would sign whatever they wanted me to."
- A former detainee held at Kin-Mazière prison on the orders of the "secret commission."
"Kabila took a decision to beat-up on Bemba and to teach him a lesson."
- A member of Kabila's inner circle just before violence in Kinshasa in August 2006 following the inconclusive first election round.

"We all saw this coming, but again we did not do enough to avert the crisis."

- A European military advisor with close links to the Congolese army about the March 2007 violence in Kinshasa that left hundreds dead.

"You JED who do you think you are? If you don't agree with the regime, go into exile and wait until your champion takes power. If you don't leave we'll help to shut you up for good. We won't miss. Too much is too much. You have been warned."
- A threat received by the local organization Journalists in Danger (JED) in June 2007 after they raised concerns about repression against members of the media."

Violence Against Women Remains Widespread And Largely Unpunished

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"Violence against women is the least punished crime in the world, United Nations officials said today, urging governments to end the widespread impunity and to take measures to ensure that the laws and policies that aim to protect women and girls are enforced.
In separate messages to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, observed today, the heads of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) called on policymakers to harness the momentum generated by recent global efforts against the scourge.
UNFPA Executive Director Thoraya Ahmed Obaid described the battle to end violence against women as “a major challenge of our time,” alongside climate change and the global financial crisis.
Violence against women is the most prevalent and least punished crime in the world. It is also a grave threat to health and well-being
“Violence against women is the most prevalent and least punished crime in the world. It is also a grave threat to health and well-being,” Ms. Obaid said in a statement, adding that it was disturbing that it still persisted 60 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted."

I am incredibly jealous

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My brother's girlfriend went to a conference where she got to meet Adam and Jamie of Mythbusters. And she got to go to a Q and A session with them.

Criminalization of abortion

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This is horrifying.

The MRA Mirror

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"When MRA-types can be bothered to acknowledge rape as a problem at all, they inevitably claim false accusations of rape as a comparable problem, one that happens at least as often, and one that is—unlike rape, they claim—ignored and belittled. For the record, that is not true. But I thought I'd look through that MRA mirror and see what would happen if false rape accusations were really "taken as seriously" as rape."
Go read it. It really puts into words why I never reported my rape.

Justice!

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"Afghan authorities have arrested 10 Taliban militants in connection with this month's acid attack on schoolgirls, a provincial governor said Tuesday.
The militants confessed and said they were paid 100,000 Pakistani rupees ($1,265) to carry out the acts, said Rahmatullah Raufi, governor of Kandahar, where the November 12 attack occurred.
The men said high-ranking Taliban officials in Pakistan paid them to cross the porous border to carry out the attack, Raufi said.
The attackers used water pistols to spray acid on girls walking to school in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, blinding at least two of them, U.S. military officials said at the time.
Kandahar government spokesman Parwaz Ayoubi gave different figures on the number of girls injured, saying that six were burned, including one severely. He called the attackers "enemies of education."
Girls were forbidden to attend school under the Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, when U.S.-led forces removed them."
Good. Now how about they dunk the fuckers in acid?

Outrage of the Day- White Supremacy

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"Barely three weeks since America elected its first black president, noose hangings, racist graffiti and death threats have struck dozens of towns across the country.
More than 200 such incidents - including cross burnings, assassination betting pools and effigies of President-elect Barack Obama - have been reported, according to law enforcement authorities and the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups."
The Quaker Agitator has the rest of the article. And as QuakerDave says, don't stand for this. Zero tolerance for hatred and violence.

Why churches fear gay marriage

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"You said recently the real issue behind the anti-gay marriage movement is the crisis in the family. What do you mean?
American families are under a great deal of stress. The divorce rate isn't declining, it's increasing. And the majority of American women are now living alone. We are raising children in America without fathers. I think of Michael Phelps at the Olympics with his mother in the stands. His father was completely absent. He was negligible; no one refers to him, no one noticed his absence.
The possibility that a whole new generation of American males is being raised by women without men is very challenging for the churches. I think they want to reassert some sort of male authority over the order of things. I think the pro-Proposition 8 movement was really galvanized by an insecurity that churches are feeling now with the rise of women.
Monotheistic religions feel threatened by the rise of feminism and the insistence, in many communities, that women take a bigger role in the church. At the same time that women are claiming more responsibility for their religious life, they are also moving out of traditional roles as wife and mother. This is why abortion is so threatening to many religious people -- it represents some rejection of the traditional role of mother.
In such a world, we need to identify the relationship between feminism and homosexuality. These movements began, in some sense, to achieve visibility alongside one another. I know a lot of black churches take offense when gay activists say that the gay movement is somehow analogous to the black civil rights movement. And while there is some relationship between the persecution of gays and the anti-miscegenation laws in the United States, I think the true analogy is to the women's movement. What we represent as gays in America is an alternative to the traditional male-structured society. The possibility that we can form ourselves sexually -- even form our sense of what a sex is -- sets us apart from the traditional roles we were given by our fathers."
It reminds me of another article, can't remmber where, that argued that male homosexuals are seen as particularly "evil" because the "dominant male" is seen as "demeaning" himself and his role as a man by performing what is seen as the traditionally female role during sex. In other words, it messes with the religious and cultural mindset that the man should be in charge and the woman should be subservient to him. Although it didn't get quite so much into how lesbians twisted this alleged hierarchy.

16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence

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"As women around the world come together to celebrate the start of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, violence against women remains endemic in many forms, in all societies.
Just last month, Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was stoned to death by a group of 50 men in Somalia. The thirteen year-old was accused of adultery, though according to her father she was raped and had tried to report it. None of those accused of her rape nor murder have been arrested."
"Many women live with indescribable fear when walking out their front door each morning. Fears of being raped or becoming the victim of a violent crime plague their lives. Women are experiencing these fears in countries throughout the world.
Every year for 16 days, from November 25 through Human Rights Day - December 10 - we ask you to stand with us as we call for an end to violence against women.
The focus of this year's 16 days action is the International Violence against Women Act (IVAWA). Amnesty International, the ENOUGH Project and several other partner organizations are standing in support of this legislation aimed at ending violence against women worldwide.
Take action:
» Ask your Representative to support I-VAWA»
Ask your Senator to support I-VAWA
Learn more:
Here's what the International Violence against Women Act would mean to women around the world:
Increased efforts to prevent violence against women during conflict and in humanitarian settings
Increased pressure to find perpetrators and bring them to justice
Strengthened capacity of women's organizations working to bring such perpetrators of violence to justice
Increased opportunities for women, free from violence, to seek testing or treatment for HIV/AIDS or disclose their HIV status without fear
Increased economic and educational opportunities that would reduce the vulnerability of women at risk of violence "

Buying for Equality Consumer Guide

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"Human Rights Campaign provides consumers direction on where to spend their dollars to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality during tough economic times."

Outrage of the Day- Religion and custody battles

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"The state Court of Appeals on Wednesday declined to reconsider its decision in a child custody case in which the child's father claimed the child's mother practiced Wicca.Two judges dissented, accusing the majority of embarking on "a grand inquisition."
In a per curiam order, the appeals court denied without explanation a petition for rehearing filed by the child's mother, who claimed a Chicot County circuit judge's decision granting custody of her child to the child's father was based in large part on the judge's finding that the mother was involved in a "cult." "
Religion, as long as the child is not being harmed by the practice thereof, should not play any factor in custody battles. I can't believe this shit is still happening.
By the way, Wicca = not a cult.

Critiques of religion should not be criminalized.

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"A draft resolution scheduled for consideration by a committee of the United Nations General Assembly threatens to criminalize criticism of religion.
In its current form, the resolution would declare defamation of religion to be a violation of international law. The resolution’s drafters hope to circumvent free-speech statutes in other countries, including the United States’ own First Amendment."
It will be interesting to see how this turns out. Yes, that was meant to be an understatement.

Tillamook man shot by dog

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And this is why I believe that an IQ test should be required for gun ownership. It's a little thing called a safety. I do understand that this was an accident, and am glad that no one was seriously injured. But if I were out hunting with a dog that's likely to clamber around in the boat, I would sure as hell make sure the safety was on at all times that the shotgun was not in my hands.

More NRA'ers panicking

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At least it's stimulating the economy?

The article has details and references as to why most of the "Get yer guns" hype is untrue. And while I'm not currently edumucated on the finer points of gun categories, my current belief is that hunting weapons should not be curtailed beyond registration and whatnot. Handguns and the like are purely for killing humans, and I personally believe they should be banned. That is not likely to change any time soon, but I am sure that someone will come along and try to dissuage me of this view.

'Sexism's Coming Out Party'

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Excellent article by Hannah Seligson on the Wall Street Journal's website.

Duanna Johnson

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The following is from.

Shelby County Sheriff's media inquiries: steve.shular@shelby-sheriff.org

Memphis Police Dept.: mpd@memphispolice.org

District Attorney's media inquiries: jennifer.donnals@scdag.com

"...now we must remember why Duanna Johnson was so important. She stood up and said she wasn't going to take abuse and brutality by the MPD anymore. She shone a light into the darkness that is the MPD's practice of profiling trans women of color as prostitutes as well as their treatment of trans women in their custody. In the wake of that, the local progressive organizations have been trying to have a responsive dialogue with the Memphis City Council, the MPD, and the Shelby County Sheriffs Department, largely to no avail.

This is what we demand:

* An LGB and T liaison within the MPD and Sheriff's department.

* An end to police profiling and harassment of trans women of color.

* A TBI (TN Bureau of Investigation) investigation of the MPD and Duanna's murder. The FBI was already investigating the MPD when Duanna was killed; she had signed the paperwork to go ahead with the lawsuit against MPD shortly before being killed. While I am not suggesting that the MPD or anyone associated with the department killed her, it is a gross conflict of interest for the MPD to be investigating her death. The DA, Bill Gibbons, has not yet requested an investigation and until he does, the TBI does not have jurisdiction.

* An actual investigation of Ebony Whitaker's murder.

What you can do:

* Call DA Gibbons at (901) 545-5900 to ask why his office is not pursuing a TBI investigation of the MPD given the fact that Duanna was suing them and the glaring conflict of interest that an investigation by them into her death would be. Also remind him of the murders of Tiffany Berry and Ebony Whitaker and let him know that though he may want to forget, we have not forgotten.

* Call Police Director Larry Godwin at (901) 545-5700 to ask why, given the problems Memphis has had recently with transphobic hate crimes, there is no LGBT liaison within the MPD. Mention that many, if not most, major cities have one. And ask whether or not Bridges McRae and James Swain will face any criminal charges, or will Director Godwin will continue his witch hunt for who leaked the video. Ask why it took over 4 months and some bad publicity (after trying to recruit at Mid-South Pride, of all places) for them to be fired. Ask what kind of training in dealing with TS/TG people in custody are officers given? And while you're at it, remind him of Tiffany Berry and Ebony Whitaker, too.

* Call Sheriff Mark Luttrell at (901) 545-5500 and ask why there is no LGBT liaison. Ask what kind of training in dealing with TG/TS people in custody is done.

* Finally, email and write mainstream publications that purport to serve the LGBT community and strongly encourage them to give this story more exposure. While The Advocate did post a short news piece on its website, a publication with this much clout that claims to represent LGB and T people can do better. Same for Southern Voice and others."

More information here and here.

Quote of the Day

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"You should be more afraid of the new political climate in America, because, there is no place for you in it. In other words, stop being a hater, big bro." - Candace Gingrich, responding in the Huffington Post to her brother's appearance on Fox News.
Oh, to be a fly on the wall at the Gingrich's Thanksgiving dinner.

God Hates Fags, 4; PSU Queers & Allies, 100+

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"Blue-eyed Libby Phelps, grinning ear to ear, has a special message for Just Out readers: “God hates you and you’re going to hell.”Phelps, granddaughter of notorious Westboro Baptist Church scion Fred Phelps, was greeted by raucous laughter and a thick throng of counter-protesters just outside the Portland State University campus about 7:30 am this morning, as WBC made a stop on their “fag-bashing” Oregon tour in gay-friendly Portland, ostensibly to ridicule PSU for implementing “gender-neutral” bathrooms on campus."
I wish I could have gone.

Congo Update

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"Soldiers went on an overnight looting and shooting spree in a sprawling Congolese refugee camp, stealing from hungry and traumatized people who have fled fighting in the country's east, witnesses said Monday.
They said one woman was killed by a stray bullet Sunday night in Kibati, a village north of the eastern provincial capital of Goma that has been overrun by about 70,000 refugees.
Patrice Sebahunde, 60, said he was awakened at 10 p.m. by four soldiers pointing guns in his face. They took his family's food, clothes and their plastic water bucket.
"They came up, pointed a gun at me, and said, 'Wake up, wake up, give us money and everything you have,"' Sebahunde said.
Bernard Udafuye said his house also was looted by soldiers Sunday night who stole food and a bucket but he did not blame them.
"It was just an accident, that they stole from us," he said. "They are hungry."
Witnesses said the soldiers shot in the air, and that one stray bullet hit a 45-year-old woman in the head, killing her instantly. A 20-year-old woman was killed at Kibati on Thursday night when a bullet pierced her tent and hit her in the head.
U.N. refugee officials who had reported Thursday's shooting said they had no information about any violence Sunday.
"Shooting is not something you can easily hide," said spokesman David Nthegwe, who added that a 2-year-old girl died of sickness, possibly malaria, at the camp on Sunday night. "Our information on the ground last night says there was no looting and nobody was killed."
But at least 10 witnesses who spoke separately to The Associated Press told the same story.
"Last night soldiers came here to the camp to cause trouble," said Maria Mukawera, 47. "They came to steal. They started shooting in the air. I saw it with my own eyes."
Sunday's rampage followed an afternoon showdown between soldiers and U.N. peacekeepers outside the camp.
Soldiers stopped the peacekeepers' convoy at an impromptu roadblock and dragged 23 Congolese men off the trucks, accusing them of being rebels. U.N. officials said the men were rebels who had surrendered as well as national policemen and civilians.
During the incident, people hurled stones at the peacekeepers' vehicles, angry at the organization's failure to protect them. One peacekeeper was injured, U.N. military spokesman Lt. Col. Jean-Paul Dietrich said.
Dietrich said Sunday there were 10 surrendered rebels among the 23 and that they were to have been turned over to the military Monday. "But because of this incident, it was agreed on the spot to hand them over."
On Monday, Dietrich said he did not know where those detained had been taken. He said the U.N. was still gathering information.
"I think this is the first time a normal convoy carrying former rebels and militia has been stopped," he said. "We are not happy about what happened. There is a lot of anger, frustration and so forth."
Rebel leader Laurent Nkunda accuses the peacekeepers of siding with the soldiers.
The U.N. mandate orders the peacekeepers to give support to Congo's army — a ragtag, poorly paid collection of the defeated army of ousted dictator Mobutu Sese Seko and several of the rebel groups that helped overthrow him, including fighters of current President Joseph Kabila.
A quarter of a million people have been displaced in eastern Congo since August, when the latest round of fighting between the rebels and the government began.
Nkunda says he is protecting Congo's minorities, especially ethnic Tutsis he says are threatened by Hutu militias from Rwanda, many of whom fled to Congo's forests after participating in Rwanda's 1994 genocide. Critics accuse Nkunda of exploiting the instability to gain power, and say his attacks have increased resentment against Tutsis.
The government is refusing Nkunda's demand for direct negotiations."

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"Opponents of a voter approved measure banning unmarried couples from adopting or fostering children in Arkansas are calling on lawmakers to overturn it.
About 300 people gathered at the Capitol to denounce the ban, known as Act 1 and approved Nov. 4 by voters. Act 1 does not have the power of a constitutional amendment, but does change state law to make fostering and adoption by unmarried people illegal.
A two-thirds vote by the legislature could overturn it.
Protesters carried signs saying “Kids need loving homes: Repeal Act 1.” The rally was organized by a number of LGBT rights groups.
Among the speakers was Arkansas Court of Appeals Judge Wendell Griffen who said Act 1 ties the hands of judges to the detriment of children in state care.
“In the name of justice I am here to ask you to say to legislatures please respect the judges that the people of Arkansas have elected to do their job,” he said.
Griffen, who also is a pastor, drew on Biblical references to criticize Act 1, referencing Jesus and Naomi and Ruth from the Old Testament, saying “[none of them] would be allowed to foster or adopt a child according to Act 1.”
Act 1 passed by 57 percent of votes. The voter initiative was organized by the socially conservative group behind the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Although it does not specifically mention same-sex couples, Act 1’s target was gay pairs and grew out of a controversial state supreme court ruling last year.
Arkansas’s Child Welfare Agency Review Board had established a policy in 1999 that banned gay people from serving as foster parents, and the Arkansas Supreme Court struck it down after a seven-year legal battle between the state and the ACLU."
The thought of children who need loving homes and are being denied families who will care for them is enough to drive me to anger and tears. Why should children have to suffer because of the fear and hatred of small-minded, hard-hearted people?

Male Privilege Checklist

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"An Unabashed Imitation of an article by Peggy McIntosh

In 1990, Wellesley College professor Peggy McIntosh wrote an essay called “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”. McIntosh observes that whites in the U.S. are “taught to see racism only in individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group.” To illustrate these invisible systems, McIntosh wrote a list of 26 invisible privileges whites benefit from.

As McIntosh points out, men also tend to be unaware of their own privileges as men. In the spirit of McIntosh’s essay, I thought I’d compile a list similar to McIntosh’s, focusing on the invisible privileges benefiting men.

Due to my own limitations, this list is unavoidably U.S. centric. I hope that writers from other cultures will create new lists, or modify this one, to reflect their own experiences.

Since I first compiled it, the list has been posted many times on internet discussion groups. Very helpfully, many people have suggested additions to the checklist. More commonly, of course, critics (usually, but not exclusively, male) have pointed out men have disadvantages too - being drafted into the army, being expected to suppress emotions, and so on. These are indeed bad things - but I never claimed that life for men is all ice cream sundaes.

Obviously, there are individual exceptions to most problems discussed on the list. The existence of individual exceptions does not mean that general problems are not a concern.

Pointing out that men are privileged in no way denies that bad things happen to men. Being privileged does not mean men are given everything in life for free; being privileged does not mean that men do not work hard, do not suffer. In many cases - from a boy being bullied in school, to a soldier dying in war - the sexist society that maintains male privilege also does great harm to boys and men.

In the end, however, it is men and not women who make the most money; men and not women who dominate the government and the corporate boards; men and not women who dominate virtually all of the most powerful positions of society. And it is women and not men who suffer the most from intimate violence and rape; who are the most likely to be poor; who are, on the whole, given the short end of patriarchy’s stick.

Several critics have also argued that the list somehow victimizes women. I disagree; pointing out problems is not the same as perpetuating them. It is not a “victimizing” position to acknowledge that injustice exists; on the contrary, without that acknowledgment it isn’t possible to fight injustice.

An internet acquaintance of mine once wrote, “The first big privilege which whites, males, people in upper economic classes, the able bodied, the straight (I think one or two of those will cover most of us) can work to alleviate is the privilege to be oblivious to privilege.” This checklist is, I hope, a step towards helping men to give up the “first big privilege.” "
I have placed asterisks next to the ones I have personally been obviously affected by/experienced, as a woman.

The Male Privilege Checklist

1. My odds of being hired for a job, when competing against female applicants, are probably skewed in my favor. The more prestigious the job, the larger the odds are skewed.

2. I can be confident that my co-workers won’t think I got my job because of my sex - even though that might be true. (More).

3. If I am never promoted, it’s not because of my sex.

4. If I fail in my job or career, I can feel sure this won’t be seen as a black mark against my entire sex’s capabilities.

5. I am far less likely to face sexual harassment at work than my female co-workers are. (More).

6. If I do the same task as a woman, and if the measurement is at all subjective, chances are people will think I did a better job.

* 7. If I’m a teen or adult, and if I can stay out of prison, my odds of being raped are relatively low. (More).

* 8. On average, I am taught to fear walking alone after dark in average public spaces much less than my female counterparts are.

9. If I choose not to have children, my masculinity will not be called into question.

10. If I have children but do not provide primary care for them, my masculinity will not be called into question.

11. If I have children and provide primary care for them, I’ll be praised for extraordinary parenting if I’m even marginally competent. (More).

12. If I have children and a career, no one will think I’m selfish for not staying at home.

13. If I seek political office, my relationship with my children, or who I hire to take care of them, will probably not be scrutinized by the press.

* 14. My elected representatives are mostly people of my own sex. The more prestigious and powerful the elected position, the more this is true.

* 15. When I ask to see “the person in charge,” odds are I will face a person of my own sex. The higher-up in the organization the person is, the surer I can be.

* 16. As a child, chances are I was encouraged to be more active and outgoing than my sisters. (More).

* 17. As a child, I could choose from an almost infinite variety of children’s media featuring positive, active, non-stereotyped heroes of my own sex. I never had to look for it; male protagonists were (and are) the default.

18. As a child, chances are I got more teacher attention than girls who raised their hands just as often. (More).

* 19. If my day, week or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether or not it has sexist overtones.

* 20. I can turn on the television or glance at the front page of the newspaper and see people of my own sex widely represented, every day, without exception.

21. If I’m careless with my financial affairs it won’t be attributed to my sex.

* 22. If I’m careless with my driving it won’t be attributed to my sex.

23. I can speak in public to a large group without putting my sex on trial.

* 24. Even if I sleep with a lot of women, there is no chance that I will be seriously labeled a “slut,” nor is there any male counterpart to “slut-bashing.” (More).

* 25. I do not have to worry about the message my wardrobe sends about my sexual availability or my gender conformity. (More).

* 26. My clothing is typically less expensive and better-constructed than women’s clothing for the same social status. While I have fewer options, my clothes will probably fit better than a woman’s without tailoring. (More).

* 27. The grooming regimen expected of me is relatively cheap and consumes little time. (More).

28. If I buy a new car, chances are I’ll be offered a better price than a woman buying the same car. (More).

* 29. If I’m not conventionally attractive, the disadvantages are relatively small and easy to ignore.

* 30. I can be loud with no fear of being called a shrew. I can be aggressive with no fear of being called a bitch.

* 31. I can ask for legal protection from violence that happens mostly to men without being seen as a selfish special interest, since that kind of violence is called “crime” and is a general social concern. (Violence that happens mostly to women is usually called “domestic violence” or “acquaintance rape,” and is seen as a special interest issue.)

* 32. I can be confident that the ordinary language of day-to-day existence will always include my sex. “All men are created equal,” mailman, chairman, freshman, he.

* 33. My ability to make important decisions and my capability in general will never be questioned depending on what time of the month it is.

* 34. I will never be expected to change my name upon marriage or questioned if I don’t change my name.

* 35. The decision to hire me will never be based on assumptions about whether or not I might choose to have a family sometime soon.

* 36. Every major religion in the world is led primarily by people of my own sex. Even God, in most major religions, is pictured as male.

* 37. Most major religions argue that I should be the head of my household, while my wife and children should be subservient to me.

38. If I have a wife or live-in girlfriend, chances are we’ll divide up household chores so that she does most of the labor, and in particular the most repetitive and unrewarding tasks. (More).

39. If I have children with a wife or girlfriend, chances are she’ll do most of the childrearing, and in particular the most dirty, repetitive and unrewarding parts of childrearing.

40. If I have children with a wife or girlfriend, and it turns out that one of us needs to make career sacrifices to raise the kids, chances are we’ll both assume the career sacrificed should be hers.

* 41. Magazines, billboards, television, movies, pornography, and virtually all of media is filled with images of scantily-clad women intended to appeal to me sexually. Such images of men exist, but are rarer.

* 42. In general, I am under much less pressure to be thin than my female counterparts are. (More). If I am fat, I probably suffer fewer social and economic consequences for being fat than fat women do. (More).

43. If I am heterosexual, it’s incredibly unlikely that I’ll ever be beaten up by a spouse or lover. (More).

44. Complete strangers generally do not walk up to me on the street and tell me to “smile.” (More: 1 2).

* 45. On average, I am not interrupted by women as often as women are interrupted by men.

* 46. I have the privilege of being unaware of my male privilege.

(Compiled by Barry Deutsch, aka “Ampersand.” Permission is granted to reproduce this list in any way, for any purpose, so long as the acknowledgment of Peggy McIntosh’s work is not removed. If possible, I’d appreciate it if folks who use it would tell me how they used it; my email is barry-at-amptoons-dot-com.)

(This is a continually updated document; the most current version of The Male Privilege Checklist can always be found at amptoons.com/blog/the-male-privilege-che… . To see posts discussing the Male Privilege Checklist and various items on it, please visit this archive page).

And in other news...

3:08 PM Posted In , , , , Edit This 1 Comment »
Jean Claude van Damme is an ass.

Anti-Gay Church in Portland on Monday the 24th

2:24 PM Posted In , , , Edit This 0 Comments »
"Fred Phelps and a group from Westboro Baptist Church have a slate of picketing events planned in Portland from 7:30 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Monday, Nov. 24."
Counter-protests are planned, just as they counter-protested our Prop 8 protests. Via.

Greenhouse Gas Photography

2:18 PM Posted In , , , , Edit This 0 Comments »
"GHG is the scientific shorthand for Greenhouse Gases, the gases whose build up in the upper
atmosphere is the cause of anthropogenic climate change. GHG Photos is a coalition of science,
environmental, nature, and documentary photographers who have spent the last several years
focused on the emissions and effects of those Greenhouse Gas emissions, as well as attempts to
mitigate their release and adapt to the changing climate."
Go check it out.

Outrage of the Day-Gay Marriage Supporter Death Threat

12:59 PM Posted In , , , Edit This 0 Comments »
"Police are investigating a death threat against Vermont Senate Majority Leader John Campbell, made a day after the Democrat announced he would introduce a marriage equality bill in the new session of the legislature.
The threat was made by an anonymous woman angry over the proposed bill who telephoned Campbell. Campbell said she threatened to blow up his home.
“It is disturbing,” Campbell told the Times Argus newspaper. “You never can tell if this is someone who is giving an emotional reaction or if there is some seriousness to it.”
Campbell said the threat was not just directed at him but also at his family. “They should not be exposed to threats of this type,” Campbell said. “You don’t expect that in Vermont.”
Campbell already has drafted the same-sex marriage bill. It would amend Vermont’s landmark civil union law to allow gay and lesbian couples full marriage.
Vermont was the first state in the country to legalize civil unions in 2000."
I wonder, does this make the media liberal for reporting this? And if the woman in question is a pro-"lifer."
"His bill, which has already been drafted, would specifically exempt religious organizations from having to recognize such marriages, Campbell added. Campbell said it is one thing to have someone react with a threat against a lawmaker, however distasteful and worrisome. However, his family was also threatened by Wednesday's phone call, which police are investigating, he said."

Teh gays are coming! Teh gays are coming!

12:32 PM Posted In , , , Edit This 0 Comments »
"Residents of the small Arkansas town of Eureka Springs noticed the homosexual community was growing. But they felt no threat. They went about their business as usual. Then, one day, they woke up to discover that their beloved Eureka Springs, a community which was known far and wide as a center for Christian entertainment--had changed. The City Council had been taken over by a small group of homosexual activists. The Eureka Springs they knew is gone. It is now a national hub for homosexuals. Eureka Springs is becoming the San Francisco of Arkansas. The story of how this happened is told in the new AFA DVD “They’re Coming To Your Town.”
One of the first actions of the homosexual controlled City Council was to offer a “registry” where homosexuals could register their unofficial “marriage.” City Council member Joyce Zeller said the city will now be promoted, not as a Christian resort, but a city “selling peace, relaxation, history and sex.”
AFA’s “They’re Coming ToYour Town” documents the story of how and why this happened. And how homosexual activists plan to do the same in other towns. Order a copy of “They’re Coming To Your Town.” Watch it. Then take the 28-minute DVD and share it with your Sunday School class and local church. This is a story the liberal media will never tell, but one you need to know." (Via Shakespeare's Sister)
Yes, because equality is a conspiracy. Letting your City Council know that you married the person you love is a conspiracy. And I really don't think that bringing children into the discussion is a good idea. I don't think that the children I teach in my Sunday school should be taught anything about sexual relationships. Nor is it the appropriate place to do so. That's the parent's job. As a Sunday School teacher, your job is to teach them good things about your faith and how to be a good person. Then again, I teach kindergartners.
In case you were wondering about the sex quote, according to the Eureka Springs website:
"ROMANCE -- The lure of romance keeps Eureka Springs at the top of the list for getaway destinations. On any given day, somewhere in this historic hamlet, a couple is beginning their wedded bliss together, an anniversary is being celebrated, a marriage proposal is being proffered, or a spark is being rekindled. Eureka Springs has long been a special place for lovers."
Marriage, love, romance = SEX! It's really the religious conservatives that need to get their minds out of the gutter. They're the ones decrying homosexual activities (and hetero vanilla sex) as bad, evil, and disgusting. In fact, they can't stop talking about it. We're just saying, "We want to marry the ones we love."
I couldn't find the original "sex" quote anywhere other than the AFA's website, which also makes me highly suspicious.

Hallmark Same-Sex Wedding Cards

12:11 PM Posted In , , Edit This 0 Comments »
Since I'm still fairly new to this whole politcally aware/social activism thing, I'm not entirely certain how long Hallmark has been offering same-sex wedding cards. But PFLAG suggests calling Hallmark and letting them know our appreciation. I already did, and they're right when they say that expressing gratitude is good for the soul.

I can't come in to work today, I'm bisexual.

11:20 AM Posted In , Edit This 0 Comments »
They're advocating to call in "gay," but that wouldn't quite be correct as I do swing both ways and am currently in a monogamous heterosexual relationship.
" "On December 10th, you are encouraged not to call in sick to work. You are encouraged to call in "gay"- and donate your time to service."
The idea of 'calling in gay' could be an issue in the 30 states where lesbian, gay and bisexual employees have no legal protection against discrimination at work.
The organisers have provided a list of other activities that may not involve coming out in the workplace."
Day Without a Gay via Pink.