Gary Kamiya's beautiful tribute to deceased Times reporter Anthony Shadid:
... The fate of small people like Karima and her family, unknown, of no political consequence, is easy to forget as nations rush to war and powerful men plan and redraw maps. “Ordinary people are, as Karima recognized, only pawns on a giant board; if one or one thousand of them are swept off, no one notices.” It is one of the functions of journalism, perhaps the noblest, simply to bear witness to these forgotten ones.
Anthony Shadid bore that witness. He died at the age of 43 on the front lines of his profession, of an asthma attack while reporting inside violence-ravaged Syria. He joins the honored list of reporters who gave their lives to give the world the truth. Every journalist, and every American who cares not just the consequences of American wars, but about humanity, owes him a debt. His loss is incalculable.
Iran to French and British companies: "No more oil for you." (Saudi Arabia to same French and British companies: "Cool! Buy from us!")
Surprising things we learned from Rick Santorum this weekend: 1) It is good for presidents to govern according to a theology; 2) Barack Obama governs according to a theology; 2) But his theology's no good, because it's "not Christian":
Obama's agenda is "not about you. It's not about your quality of life. It's not about your jobs. It's about some phony ideal. Some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible. A different theology," Santorum told supporters of the conservative Tea Party movement at a Columbus hotel.
Harris poll shows that America now believes Ronald Reagan was the greatest president since WWII. NewsMax thinks this is great news.
(Naturally, NewsMax is keeping mum on Harris's latest re: Obama's electoral chances.)
JoeMyGod on some ugly possible fallout over the Sheriff Babeu story.
The Bodyguard Musical. It exists, and has for a while, but it seems to be on a publicity kick this week.
Basketball! When the Jeremy Lin-led Knicks concluded their miraculous winning streak with an ugly loss to the Hornets on Friday, ESPN led with the headline "A Chink In The Armor." Those responsible have been terminated.
(Just for the record, the armor's fine: This afternoon, Lin and co. beat the league's defending champs up and down the court.)
John Glenn and Project Mercury vets reunite on the 50th anniversary of Glenn's orbital flight.
Omaha wants to ban employment discrimination against LGBT employees. Nebraska's legislature wants to stop them.
Gael Garcia Bernal will be Zorro.
Colbert will resume taping.
On Friday, Miami's CBS affiliate aired a segment on the plight of homeless LGBT teens -- and floated the fascinating and frightening idea that a recent increase in the number of such teens has to do with the earlier and earlier ages at which teens are coming out of the closet. Watch AFTER THE JUMP ...
When goodhearted mayors across the country signed their names to the Mayors For Freedom petition in support of marriage equality, Kevin Johnson (pictured at bottom right), the First Ward City Councilman in Portsmouth, OH, wrote a very kind and well-reasoned letter to Mayor David Malone (pictured at right) asking him to do likewise. According to the Portsmouth Daily Times:
Johnson stated in his correspondence to Malone, “As you are probably aware, when I ran for Council in 2009, certain elements in our community suggested that I would bring a 'San Francisco gay agenda' to the forefront of my legislative goals. And, as you are most definitely aware, such has not been the case. I have not once suggested any legislation in support of, nor have I encouraged any elected official to support, any gay cause, issue or proposition. Until now.
... “Though this issue no longer affects me directly, given that my partner of over 30 years, Paul Eugene Johnson, passed away nearly three years ago, I firmly believe this issue will 1) not go away, and 2) will succeed in municipalities and states that seek and thrive upon economic and social diversity. In the areas of business and education, equal rights for gay and lesbian persons has become critical to success ... [F]or municipalities and states that have extended equal rights provisions, the benefits to individuals and the local economies have long been documented. Our educated young entrepreneurs and skilled workers find they thrive in equality environments; and tend to choose where to live and work based upon the perceived “equality” factor of an area — which, for example, both Cleveland and Columbus have recognized — to their economic benefit.
Councilman Johnson signed off by "humbly" asking that Mayor Malone "consider joining this effort as Mayor of Portsmouth." The correspondence between Councilman Johnson and Mayor Malone deteriorated from there. Mayor Malone sent Johnson a dismissive and -- especially considering its brevity -- remarkably unlettered response:
“Keeping this response very short and to the point,” Malone wrote. “Being that I am a minister of the Gospel and the BIBLE emphatically forbids such, there is absolutely no way that I will support this. Although this is your preferred lifestyle, I have the utmost respect for you as a person and the things you do for the city, I cannot support what God calls an abomination.
To which Councilman Johnson responded:
I decided that I should let my anger at your February 8 response abate before responding. ‘Preferred lifestyle’ my butt! Being homosexual is not a lifestyle as any reading of the subject matter will show. I had written to Mayor Malone but it seems I received a response from the Right Reverend Malone. And I immediately thought of Christ’s admonition to “render under Caesar…;” an admonition concerning responsibilities to the “state” as opposed to those to God ...
... there are many who oppose marriage between same-sex couples for various reasons. I can understand that. Paul and I long had difficulty with it after examining the disasters of so many heterosexual marriages made us suspect there is a curse upon the institution. However, for an elected official to be opposed to this or any other issue based upon their preferred book of religion, be it the Bible, Book of Mormon, Koran, Torah or the Vedas, begs credulity. But I suppose one must be thankful that our Mayor is not an orthodox, theological Shiite or Sunni Muslim.
It's a good reply, but I suspect Mayor Malone will not understand it. Especially the point at the end. "Sunni Muslim?" Malone will think. "Well, of course we're lucky I'm not a Sunni Muslim! That's the wrong religion. A Sunni mayor would be a disaster!"
Mayor Malone hasn't yet responded to Councilman Johnson's last note.
Not incidentally, a brief look around the mayor's webpage on Portsmouth's municipal website reveals no evidence of Malone's theocratic bent. On it, Mayor Malone promises to construct his administration on the pillars of "WISDOM," "HOPE," "DIRECTION," and "COMPASSION" (and, we may learn by inference, the expression of sincerity by the willful abuse of caps lock). Malone even promises to bring radical, progressive change to Portsmouth:
Change is threatening to the status quo! It is my lot to change the culture and the thinking of those who maintain that forward thinking and positive movement cannot be attained. I understand that cultures do not die; they are replaced. It takes a culture to replace one.
Nowhere on the whole page does mention the Bible.
El Paso! First, the city council decided to extend health benefits to the domestic partners of city employees. Then the city's godcrazy gayloathers were so offended that they got the council's decision put to a public referendum, at which point 55% of the city's voters decided that, no, domestic partners should not get benefits. And so the city government decided the voters were idiots and domestic partners should get benefits anyway. Then the godcrazy gayloathers decided to recall the officials involved. (And how many gay couples were sucking up those sweet government bennies? Two. Two!)
This venal drama concluded Friday. From The Dallas Voice:
In a victory for supporters of LGBT equality, a Texas appeals court has rejected an effort to recall El Paso Mayor John Cook and two other council members over their support of domestic partner benefits for unmarried city employees.
Texas’ 8th Court of Appeals ruled unanimously on Friday that recall organizers, led by anti-gay Pastor Tom Brown, broke the law in gathering petition signatures for the recall election, which had been scheduled for this spring.
That's Tom Brown, above right, who last year accused the bennies-giving council of "rewarding fornicators." Can't wait to hear what he has to say about the appeals court.
Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu ... announced at a press conference that he is a gay man and that he is no longer a part of presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign.
"I called the Romney campaign, and I told him I'm going to step away from the campaign," Babeu told a crowd of reporters. He says the campaign told him: "We support your decision, sheriff."
Babeu was serving as the Arizona co-chair of the Mitt Romney for President campaign.
... The sheriff and congressional candidate said his personal life was none of anyone's business, and said a couple times during the press conference that it was "almost a relief" for his orientation to be out in the open.
Sheriff Babeau still denies the central charge made by his former lover, Jose, in the New Times story: That he threatened to have Jose deported if Jose didn't sign an agreement to never reveal the nature of his relationship with the sheriff.
James "The Amazing" Randi, the legendary conjurer, performer, writer, debunker of frauds, and lifelong crusader for skepticism and reason is at long last getting his own documentary. It will be directed by Justin Weinstein, of Being Elmo fame, and there's no telling when it's coming out. (According to the doc's website, Weinstein and co. are still seeking backers.) But the trailer suggests it'll be cool. It's got interviews from Penn & Teller, Richard Dawkins, Bill Nye, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Adam Savage -- a whole galaxy of dudes of unsurpassable coolness and smarts. From the press release:
As a teenager, James Randi did what most kids only dreamt of: he ran away to join a traveling circus and never looked back. Dubbed “The Amazing Randi,” his feats of magic and escape, and acts of mentalism made him an international celebrity. At the same time, however, he saw those same powers being used by con men, faith healers, and psychics for thievery. Knowing that it takes a thief to catch a thief, Randi dedicated his life to expose these charlatans.
... An Honest Liar will chronicle how a curious child rose to the ranks of showman and then advanced to renowned demystifier of paranormal claims. We will hear firsthand about his celebrated debunking of the spoon-bending Uri Geller and his many visits to the Tonight Show where he exposed the faith-healing Peter Popoff. The film will bring to life such schemes as “Project Alpha,” where two magicians posing as psychics fooled a scientific study on paranormal powers, and the famous “Carlos Hoax” in which Randi unleashed a fake mystic upon the people of Australia.
Interspersed with episodes from his past, the film will go behind-the-scenes while Randi prepares for another grand scale debunking. With the precision of a seasoned magician, Randi will research, plan, and assemble an Ocean’s Eleven-type team for a carefully orchestrated exposure of a fraudulent religious organization.
Personal note: I met James Randi when I was a devoutly religious, very superstitious young teenager, and he took the time to befriend me and show me the beauty and power of science and critical thought. I hope this flick finds a wide audience, so his celluloid self can maybe do the same for some other confused kids. (Incidentally, Randi's gay. He's been with his partner since the late 80's, and he came out to the broader public in 2010.)
Watch the trailer for An Honest Liar AFTER THE JUMP ...