"A Northern California family is expected to be torn apart on Friday when Shirley Tan is scheduled to be deported back to the Philippines, leaving behind her life partner and their 12 year old twin sons.
Tan and Jaylynn “Jay” Mercado were married in San Francisco in 2004. Their marriage was voided, but even if it still were in effect the federal Defense of Marriage Act prevents Mercado from sponsoring her partner of 23 years for immigration. Were the women a married opposite-sex couple, Tan could be legal.
“From the moment my sons were born we have never been apart. It’s tearing me apart to have to leave without them,” said Tan.
Legislation was re-introduced in Congress last month that would allow Americans in a same-sex relationship to sponsor their “permanent partners” for legal residency in the United States."
"Afghanistan's President, Hamid Karzai, has signed a law which "legalises" rape, women's groups and the United Nations warn. Critics claim the president helped rush the bill through parliament in a bid to appease Islamic fundamentalists ahead of elections in August.
In a massive blow for women's rights, the new Shia Family Law negates the need for sexual consent between married couples, tacitly approves child marriage and restricts a woman's right to leave the home, according to UN papers seen by The Independent.
"It is one of the worst bills passed by the parliament this century," fumed Shinkai Karokhail, a woman MP who campaigned against the legislation. "It is totally against women's rights. This law makes women more vulnerable."The law regulates personal matters like marriage, divorce, inheritance and sexual relations among Afghanistan's minority Shia community.
"It's about votes," Ms Karokhail added. "Karzai is in a hurry to appease the Shia because the elections are on the way."
The provisions are reminiscent of the hardline Taliban regime, which banned women from leaving their homes without a male relative. But in a sign of Afghanistan's faltering steps towards gender equality, politicians who opposed it have been threatened."
The man, who cannot be named, committed suicide on January 28th, days before his hearing was due to start.
It is claimed he had been subject to discrimination and abuse from colleagues since coming out 15 years ago.
The complainant alleged he had been passed over for promotion and that colleagues would stuff his uniform and boots with gay porn, making it difficult for him to go out on call quickly."
"The Detroit Tigers have upset some Roman Catholics who are unhappy that the club’s home opener is scheduled during holy hours on Good Friday on April 10.
Traditional Christian belief says Jesus hung on the cross from noon to 3 p.m. on Good Friday.
All 30 American and National League teams play April 10, but the Tigers’ 1:05 p.m. game against the Texas Rangers is the only one during holy hours."
Is it really that important considering Easter is a roving holiday, occurring the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Equinox (which changes at least every couple hundred years)? So complaining about something being scheduled during the alleged hours of a changing holiday of one religion is ludicrious. Besides, we all know how historically accurate nutjobs tend to be (i.e. when it suits their purposes).
"I recently visited your Springfield location near Winco and was offended to find a menu item described as "man" sized.
Food is not gendered, and by buying into the notion that some food is for men and some is for women automatically alienates half of your customers.In case you happen to be visually impaired, all people come in various shapes and sizes. You would do best to remember this when dealing with the public.Please be aware that I will be notifying my friends and acquaintances as to the inherent sexism and sizeism in this failed marketing ploy."
"Starting in New Zealand's remote Chatham Islands, thousands of cities, towns, and landmarks around the world will start to go dark for Earth Hour on Saturday evening.
Up to a billion people worldwide are expected to participate in this global voluntary blackout by switching off their lights from 8:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. local time.
The movement, sponsored by the conservation nonprofit WWF, is designed as a symbolic gesture in support of action against global warming."
"All human actions have consequences, as we have seen amply illustrated in the world of money and economics. Bankers took risks that they thought they would never have to pay for; personal debts reached dismaying levels because borrowing and credit cards seemed easy. But consequences there will always be. And, as in the money markets, so in the field of personal relationships.
The spiralling rate of unwanted pregnancy – there are now 200,000 abortions annually, the highest number since legalisation in 1967 – as well as the exceptionally high rate of births to unsupported and very young mothers has prompted ever more energetic methods of addressing this problem. Schoolgirls in Oxford may now text the school nurse for morning-after contraception. Indeed, all women will soon be able to purchase this post-coital remedy in bulk over the internet."
"Police chiefs apologised today after it emerged that a man convicted of sex attacks against women was not arrested until four years after he became a suspect.
An independent investigation has been launched into police handling of the case against children's football coach Kirk Reid, 44, who has been found guilty of stalking and attacking women for more than 12 years.
Police left Reid free to attack women for four years, despite identifying him as a suspect in a notorious unsolved series of sex attacks in 2004. A litany of errors, inaction and oversights was revealed during the nine-week trial at Kingston crown court.
Following Reid's conviction, Commander Mark Simmons, of the Metropolitan police's territorial policing unit, said: "It is clear from the evidence heard in court that the standard of investigation was not what we as an organisation, or the victims, should have expected. Reid should have been arrested sooner and I, on behalf of the MPS [Metropolitan police service] and as head of Sapphire [the police sex-crimes unit], am sorry those women who were subsequently attacked by him have been caused unnecessary suffering.""
"A video message from President Obama tells the people of Iran and their leaders that the U.S. wants to engage with their country and end decades of a strained relationship, but not unless Iranian officials stop making threats. The message with Farsi subtitles is timed to the festival of Nowruz, which means "new day." It marks the arrival of spring and is a major holiday in Iran."
"The death of a New York radio newsreader has been described by authorities as a "gay slaying", according to reports.
George Weber, 47, who worked for ABC, was found stabbed to death in his Brooklyn apartment on Sunday.
Police sources said it is believed he was killed on Friday by a male acquaintance after
witnesses reported seeing an unknown man pacing outside the building before being buzzed in."
"A new walking, talking robot from Japan has a female face that can smile and has trimmed down to 43 kilogrammes to make a debut at a fashion show.
But it still hasn't cleared safety standards required to share the catwalk with human
Developers at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, a government-backed organisation, said their "cybernetic human," wasn't ready to help with daily chores or work side by side with people - as many hope robots will be able to do in the future.
"Technologically, it hasn't reached that level," said Hirohisa Hirukawa, one of the robot's developers. "Even as a fashion model, people in the industry told us she was short and had a rather ordinary figure."
For now, the 158 centimetre tall black-haired robot code-named HRP-4C - whose predecessor had weighed 58 kg - will mainly serve to draw and entertain crowds.
Developers said the robot may be used in amusement parks or to perform simulations of human movement, as an exercise instructor, for instance.
HRP-4C was designed to look like an average Japanese woman, although its silver-and-black body recalls a space suit.
It will appear in a Tokyo fashion show - without any clothes - in a special section just for the robot next week."
"Like many other soldiers who took part in the Gaza operation, Omer, 20, occasionally took a few moments to pray, but he did not pray to the Lord of Israel. Omer considers himself pagan, and has sworn allegiance to three ancient gods. During combat, he says they appeared before him, giving him strength during the most arduous moments. Omer is still in the army, and therefore refused to be interviewed for this story. Yet he did say he belongs to a religion whose goal is to revive worship of ancient gods. In an online Hebrew-language paganism forum, Omer's accounts of his Gaza experience are standard fare. Another user recalled how he prayed to Anat, the Canaanite god of war, while serving in an elite combat unit.
The two soldiers are part of a tiny community of pagans that has developed in Israel.
Influenced by movements in the United States and Europe, followers believe in multiple gods. "Modern paganism is comprised of a wide variety of religions and faiths, most of which are based on ancient pagan rituals," said Rinat Korbet, a Bar-Ilan University researcher who wrote her thesis on the pagan community in Israel based on its online presence. "People seek to take the essence of ancient paganism and suit it to our time period. Many of the followers have home altars where they can express their belief in nature and the gods. All the people I interviewed also took part in ceremonies and community rituals, in environments conducive to the spirit of paganism." Korbet will present her research at the First Israeli Conference for the Study of Contemporary Spiritualities which opens tomorrow at the University of Haifa.
Due to Jewish sensitivity to idol worship, which is perceived as a sin, most Israeli pagans reveal their beliefs only to those who share them. They usually keep religious gatherings, such as the "holiday of equality" (Vernal equinox) on March 21st, secret. Alon Kobets, 29, a neo-paganist from Rehovot, is one of the few who decided "to come out of the closet." "Some people live in fear, but I'm past hiding my faith," he said. "Some guys live with religious families. They can't tell their parents, 'I don't believe in Judaism, I'm a pagan.' They'd chop off their heads.""
"Police said two men were beaten unconscious Sunday morning because they are gay, and the people who assaulted them haven't been found yet.
Investigators said the victims, who are from Washington state, were on the beach near downtown Seaside at about 3 a.m. when three or four men attacked them. Investigators said the beatings are hate crimes.
The Seaside police chief said he has put two full-time detectives on the case and they are trying to find any witnesses who were on the beach Sunday morning and may have seen who was responsible for severely beating the two men.
"It's a small town. Only time it gets crazy is when there's a lot of tourists and people in town," said Evan White, who works in Seaside.Investigators said around 3 a.m. the victims were sitting next to a beach fire with three or four other people, and when the two men got up to walk to the ocean, they were attacked and beaten unconscious because they are gay. Investigators said when the victims woke up they helped each other to a nearby hotel where they called for help and were taken to a local hospital.
Mica Macdonald works at a Seaside hotel and said Seaside is not a dangerous place, but he said it's a bad idea to stay on beach after dark unless you're in a big group.
"It's a great place to hang out, but not a great place to hang out at night I don't think," Macdonald said.
There were several people who were sitting next to the fire in front of the Best Western Hotel at the time of the attack and police would like to talk to them.
Anyone with information in the case should contact Seaside police."
"A 15-year-old boy died after he was shocked with a Taser gun in Michigan on Sunday...A police news release stated that the boy – who has not been named – was shocked when he "attempted to fight" Bay City officers responding to reports of an argument between two males in an apartment. The boy was reported to have been in medical distress immediately after being shocked and was pronounced dead in hospital."
Ostara Cheese Scones
2 cups Flour
2 teaspoons Baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups Grated cheddar cheese
3 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup Butter
1/3 cup Milk
"Two southern Kentucky counties where officials posted copies of the Ten Commandments in courthouses have been ordered by a federal judge to pay more than $400,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union and citizens who successfully challenged the displays.
US district judge Jennifer B Coffman ordered Pulaski and McCreary counties to pay $393,798 in attorneys' fees and $8,133 in expenses to the ACLU of Kentucky and citizens.
Coffman's decision is the latest ruling in a court fight that began a decade ago. The counties don't have to pay immediately because aspects of the case are still being appealed. But if the counties ultimately lose, taxpayers could be on the hook for the bill if insurance doesn't cover it.
McCreary county judge-executive Blaine Phillips said he doesn't think the county's insurance policy would cover its share of the payment.
Phillips said McCreary county might seek donations if it has to split the cost of the Ten Commandments fight with Pulaski county.
He was reluctant to even mention taxpayer dollars as a possible source for the payment. "That'll be a hard pill to swallow" if the county has to pay, Phillips said."
"Human rights groups say a Turkish transwoman would be alive today if police had taken seriously her pleas for help. The body of Ebru Soykan, a prominent transgender human rights activist, was found in her Istanbul home on March 10.
She had been stabbed to death, according to news reports. Soykan was a member of Lambda Istanbul. The organization said police had refused rebuffed several times in the month before her murder for an order of protection from a man who had beaten her and threatened to kill her on several occasions.
The man was questioned by police after Soykan insisted to authorities her life was in danger. He was released after questioning several days before the murder. The man is now under arrest for with her murder, but charges have yet to be laid."
"A report by the international NGO ActionAid, backed by the South African Human Rights Commission, said the horrific crimes against lesbians were going unrecognised by the state and unpunished by the legal system.
The report called for South Africa's criminal justice system to recognise the rapes as hate crimes in an attempt to force police to take action over the rising tide of violence.
The ferocity of the attack became clear in April last year when Eudy Simelane, former star of South Africa's national female football squad, became one of the victims. Miss Simelane, and equality rights campaigner and one of the first women to live openly as a lesbian, was gang-raped and brutally beaten before being stabbed 25 times in the face, chest and legs. But scores more women have been deliberately targeted for rape, the Guardian reports.
"Every day I am told that they are going to kill me, that they are going to rape me and after they rape me I'll become a girl," Zakhe Sowello from Soweto, told the paper. "When you are raped you have a lot of evidence on your body. But when we try and report these crimes nothing happens, and then you see the boys who raped you walking free on the street." Research shows 86 per cent of black lesbians from the Western Cape live in fear of sexual assault. Triangle, a gay rights organisation, said it deals with up to 10 new cases of "corrective rape" every week.
"What we're seeing is a spike in the numbers of women coming to us having been raped and who have been told throughout the attack that being a lesbian was to blame for what was happening to them," Vanessa Ludwig, the chief executive at Triangle, told the paper.
Support groups claim an increasingly macho political environment led to inaction over attacks.
A statement released by South Africa's national prosecuting authority said: "While hate crimes – especially of a sexual nature – are rife, it is not something that the South African government has prioritised as a specific project."
Human rights and equality campaigners are hoping that the public outrage and disgust at Miss Simelane's death and the July trial of the three men accused of her rape and murder will help put an end to the spiralling violence."
"Jewellery company Genki Wear is about to launch a trio of scents (Tiberius, Red Shirt and Ponn Far) inspired by the original 1960s series of Star Trek.
Tiberius (which, as every fan knows, is Kirk's middle name) challenges the wearer to "boldly go" and is spiked with notes of "freshness and sensuality" – just like the great man himself. According to Genki, Kirk's aroma has sweet citron zest, black pepper and cedar as its top notes, and warm vanilla, white musk and sandalwood as its base notes. After all these years, perhaps this explains why the Starship Enterprise's captain had such an intoxicating affect on females of any species.
According to the book-jacket blurb of Captain Kirk's Guide To Women, "from gender-switching shape-shifters to emotion-deprived androids – they all swoon, acquiesce, and malfunction from just one kiss". So gents, if you fancy some action with an Orion slave-girl, drench yourself in Tiberius for the evening and beam yourself into another dimension of smell.
Red Shirt (tag line: "Because Tomorrow May Never Come") celebrates the often-nameless ensigns of the SS Enterprise who invariably died in the line of duty, while Ponn Far is a risque scent for ladies, named after the Vulcan mating ritual. Some Star Trek fans are against the idea, but most can't wait to smell like no man has smelled before."
"You can drive into this dusty fleck of a town near the Texas-Louisiana border if you're African-American, but you might not be able to drive out of it—at least not with your car, your cash, your jewelry or other valuables.
That's because the police here allegedly have found a way to strip motorists, many of them black, of their property without ever charging them with a crime. Instead they offer out-of-towners a grim choice: voluntarily sign over your belongings to the town, or face felony charges of money laundering or other serious crimes.
More than 140 people reluctantly accepted that deal from June 2006 to June 2008, according to court records. Among them were a black grandmother from Akron, who surrendered $4,000 in cash after Tenaha police pulled her over, and an interracial couple from Houston, who gave up more than $6,000 after police threatened to seize their children and put them into foster care, the court documents show. Neither the grandmother nor the couple were charged with any crime.
Officials in Tenaha, situated along a heavily traveled highway connecting Houston with popular gambling destinations in Louisiana, say they are engaged in a battle against drug trafficking and call the search-and-seizure practice a legitimate use of the state's asset-forfeiture law. That law permits local police agencies to keep drug money and other property used in the commission of a crime and add the proceeds to their budgets."
"One in seven people believe it is acceptable in some circumstances for a man to hit his wife or girlfriend if she is dressed in “sexy or revealing clothes in public”, according to the findings of a survey released today.
A similar number believed that it was all right for a man to slap his wife or girlfriend if she is “nagging or constantly moaning at him”.
The findings of the poll, conducted for the Home Office, also disclosed about a quarter of people believe that wearing sexy or revealing clothing should lead to a woman being held partly responsible for being raped or sexually assaulted.Although a majority of 1,065 people over 18 questioned last month believe that it is never acceptable to hit or slap a woman, the poll found that those aged 25-39 were more likely to consider that there were circumstances in which it was acceptable to hit or slap a woman."
"The congregation of a Grantown church has been alarmed by a year-long series of "pagan" attacks culminating in an incident in which a dead animal was used to deliver a message...Like previous notes, the latest contained verses written in red felt tip and a drawing of an "all-seeing eye" symbol commonly seen in mystical and masonic use – comprising an eye above a pyramid. "There have been a series of pagan-style notes over the past year," said Mr Fishwick, who has been deacon of the church for the past 20 years.
"We had a meeting after the rabbit was found, and people were leaving two or three at a time. There was 10 minutes between different groups going, so we know the note appeared while we were in the hall.
"That makes us think that someone was watching the hall and could see when to come up to the door."
He added: "The last one was a warning that we shouldn't bring in the authorities. It had a drawing of the all-seeing eye and said: 'We are always watching you'.
"It seems to be the work of a bit of a crackpot. They only ever pick out our church; none of the others have had this, but we don't know why.
"The notes are heathen quotations: things like 'Your days are numbered', 'Wrongs remain unrectified' and 'Judgement has been passed'.""
"A member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Franklin is prohibited from bringing his hunting knife to church after another member saw him with the blade at a Sunday service and got worried.
The knife carrier, Charles Rowe, said there is no reason to be alarmed by his utensil. He simply wants to wear his knife to church because, “It’s part of me and part of who I am.”
But even in Appalachia, where mountain men once thrived, Dr. Bill David, the complainant, said knives still shouldn’t be allowed in church.
“I’m opposed to bringing weapons to church,” David told The Smoky Mountain News from his home in Athens, Ga. “I didn’t confront him personally. He was sitting in front of me. I kept my mouth shut. I didn’t want him stabbing at me with that knife. He may get mad at someone. It should never be permitted.”"
"Retired barber Joe Godlewski says that when television chefs recommended kosher salt in recipes, he wondered, "What the heck's the matter with Christian salt?"By next week, his trademarked Blessed Christians Salt will be available from seasonings manufacturer Ingredients Corporation of America. It's sea salt that's been blessed by an Episcopal priest.
The company's president hopes to market the salt through Christian bookstores.
Rabbi Sholem Fishbane, kosher administrator for the Chicago Rabbinical Council, says all salt is inherently kosher because it occurs naturally and requires little or no processing.
He says coarse-grained kosher salt is named for the way in which it was traditionally used -- to draw blood from freshly butchered meat, because Jewish law prohibits consuming blood."