Left-wing candidate François Hollande has defeated incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy in Sunday's runoff, exit polls say, becoming the first Socialist to win a presidential election since François Mitterrand in 1988.
François Hollande has won France’s presidential election, giving the country its first Socialist president in almost two decades, exit polls showed Sunday.
According to Ipsos polling institute, the left-wing candidate took 51.7% of the vote to incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy’s 48.3%.
Celebrations are underway at the iconic Place de la Bastille in central Paris, the same spot where the last Socialist to win a presidential election, François Mitterrand, celebrated his first victory back in 1981.
American politics: worse than it looks.
The writer's father came, but seemingly never all the way:
It was around the time that Bart died of AIDS that things began to get really bad. That was when my dad had dyed his bangs platinum, which didn’t go over so well with the congregation he then served and would not serve much longer. This was around the time that in a fifth- or sixth grade art class I made a painting of a male seraph sealed in a black box in the center of an otherwise Edenic scene and wrote, in black block letters across the top, Who are you forcing into the closet? A nasty debate ensued over whether it could go up on the middle-school wall. I can only imagine that my dad had gone to see “Angels in America,” talked about it at home. It is, however, also possible that this episode lends credence to his idea that I knew all along ...
Anti-gay Nebraska football coach Ron Brown attracts media attention for not testifying against Omaha's anti-discrimination law. Why isn't he testifying? Because he doesn't want to attract media attention:
Brown, who the university has said is within his rights as a citizen to express his religious and political views publicly, says he doesn't want his appearance to make news.
"A number of fellow Christians who have been working on legislation and working on the nuts and bolts of this issue told me, 'Look, there's going to be so much media attention over you, it's going to take away from the issue,'" Brown told the Lincoln Journal Star on Saturday.
"Everything inside of me said, 'I don't want the media to stop me from going.' Then I realized it was going to be a circus, and everybody already knows how I think. My views stand the same.
"As I prayed about it, I thought it was not in the Lord's will for me to testify."
In One Person: John Irving's new novel about a "sexual suspect."
Here's an astounding excerpt from the upcoming book Queer and Present Danger, in which Kate Borstein recounts how one star-crossed encounter with a Swiss banker led to her excommunication from Scientology's hierarchy:
... they kept asking me those kinds of questions for a total of six hours, carefully watching the e-meter for any signs that might reveal my evil deeds. Six hours, no evil deeds. Finally, the guy across from me played his ace. He said I’ve got a choice: I can do three years of hard physical labor, sleeping a maximum of six hours a night on a cold cement floor, eating only table scraps, and talking only with other bad people like me who were relegated to the months-old Rehabilitation Project Force. I could either do that, he said, or I could leave and be excommunicated from the Church of Scientology for the remainder of all my lifetimes ahead of me. The young officer told me that he’s going to live into the future as a hero.
“Without Scientology, you are gonna degrade into a mindless slug of a spiritual being. You’re gonna be a body thetan, attached to the toe of some street bum.”
Apparently homophobia, like homosexuality, isn't really a choice.
A handy guide to Mittian Mormonism:
If the doctrine itself is a problem, stick around for a while and wait for it to change. If you think it unlikely, for example, that multiple advanced civilizations, descended from Israelite tribes, thrived and warred for hundreds of years in pre-Columbian upstate New York without leaving any archaeological evidence behind, the church now cheerfully entertains the possibility that the hill where Smith “found” his golden plates is one of two named “Cumorah,” with the other one — the one repeatedly referenced in the Book of Mormon — likely standing somewhere in Central America.
The racism underpinning the whole of the original Book of Mormon, which tells the story of a virtuous light- skinned tribe warring with an evil dark- skinned tribe (the “sons of Ham,” cursed with dark skin for eternity by God for their wickedness), was wiped away by decree in 1978. Significant changes to the hallowed “temple endowment” ceremony in 1990 got rid of the bit where women had to promise to be subservient to husbands. Even the “Temple Garments” (yes, the magic underpants) have gradually become easier and easier to conceal under “normal” clothes.
The modern Mormon aesthetic is deeply indebted to Walt Disney, but somehow even more square ...
9/11 defendants say trial is "rigged."
Bill Maher's MO is to take one excellent idea and coat it with a fine dusting of nuttery. (Maher is, for example, vocally pro-science and pro-reason, but he's famously skeptical of the germ theory of disease and "Western Medicine" in general.) That's what he was up to on Friday, in a generally hilarious segment in which he pointed out that, despite Mitt Romney's claims to the contrary, the candidate doesn't really give huge, tax-deductable donations to "charity." He gives huge, tax-deductable donations to the Church of Latter Day Saints, which is very different. Contributing money to an organization which builds "castles" for itself (Maher's apt word for Mormon temples) and spends millions to deny rights to LGBT Americans is charity in only the most attenuated sense of the word.
Maher then suggests that donations to cultural institutions, such as symphonies, aren't really charity either, and shouldn't count as tax-write offs. That's probably a less valid point. (Culture really is a necessary public good, just like public education, and unlike the promulgation of somebody's favorite brand of divisive supernaturalism.) Whatever. The segment's cool anyway. Watch AFTER THE JUMP ...
Ediage Valerie Ekwedde's life, which was probably never very easy, allegedly became a great deal more difficult when he celebrated his last birthday at a bar in Yaounde, in his native Cameroon. In a moment of drunken indiscretion, it seems he briefly caressed his boyfriend -- an illegal act in Cameroon, which in this case inflamed the bars' other customers and led to Ekwedde's arrest, his beating at the hands of the police, and -- after several days spent bleeding in a jail cell -- in a trip to a nearby hospital.
Once there, 26-year-old Ekwedde managed to give the slip to his doctors, his jailers, and to Cameroon itself. He escaped to Europe, and then to the UK, where he made friends and entered a new relationship. But he was an illegal immigrant, and the UK Border Agency didn't mean to grant him amnesty. Despite letters from Ekwedde's boyfriend, the Border Agency claimed to find "no credible evidence" that Ekwedde is gay, and therefore no compelling human rights concern to prevent the Border Agency from sending Ekwedde home -- where, even if he's not gay, all the claims to the contrary in the western press could very likely result in his imprisonment.
Ekwedde was to be flown back to Cameroon in chains on Saturday morning aboard an Air France jet. To forestall the deportation, Ekwedde's friends have bombarded the airline in recent weeks with letters containing this appeal:
The Cameroon High Commission in London is given a list of people due to be removed on European Union travel documents and this list is sent on ahead of the flight to the police in Cameroon. [Upon his arriva in Cameroonl, Ekwedde] would certainly be arrested and subjected to brutal treatment and is unlikely even to emerge from the airport after being handed over by the UKBA escorts.
Air France is a highly reputed airline carrying willing passengers to destinations all over the world. Air France is not an arm of United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA), carrying out their immigration enforcements.
In the light of the UKBA’s acknowledgement that "Airline captains have the right to refuse carriage of a passenger and will do so if they feel appropriate for security or commercial reasons", I urge Air France not to carry out this forced removal of Ediage Valerie Ekwedde.
Incredibly, the letters may have worked. Last night, the BBC reported that Ekwedde's plane took off without him:
Air France said its 07:10 BST flight was delayed on Saturday morning due to "operational difficulties".
Campaigners said [Ekwedde] managed to get a message to the Air France pilot saying that he would "make a fuss" because his life was in danger.
The pilot is said to have abandoned the flight out of consideration for other passengers.
... or maybe Air France has a heart, but doesn't want to anger British law enforcement.
Regardless, Ekwedde's still in the UK, at least for the moment -- probably at the Harmondsworth Detention Center near London. If you think he should be allowed to stay in the country, please let the Secretary of the Home Office know. That's the Rt. Hon Theresa May, MP, and she's reachable at email@example.com.
Watch Joe Biden on Meet The Press AFTER THE JUMP...
Here's a transcript of the relevant part of the interview:
Gregory: You write social policy. I'm curious. You know, the president has said that his views on gay marriage, on same sex marriage, have evolved. But he's opposed to it. You are opposed to it. Have your views evolved?
Biden: Look -- I just think that, uh, the good news is that as more and more Americans come to understand what this is about, it's a simple proposition. Who do you love? Who do you love? And will you be loyal to the person you love? And that's what people are finding out. It's what all marriages, at their root, are about. Whether they're marriages of lesbians, or gay men, or heterosexuals.
That's what you believe now?
That's what I believe!
And you're comfortable with same sex marriage now?
Look. I'm Vice President of the United States of America. The president sets the policy. I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women and heterosexual -- men and women marrying – are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties. And quite frankly, I don’t see much of a distinction beyond that.
In a second term, will this administration come out behind same sex marriage? The institution of marriage?
Well, I, I can't speak to that. Uh, I, I, I, I don't know the answer to that. But I can tell you --
Sounds like you'd like to see it happen. If that's where the president ...
Well, the president continues to fight. Whether it's Don't Ask Don't Tell, or whether it is making sure, across the board, that you can't discriminate -- look at the executive orders he's put in place. Any hospital that gets federal funding, which is almost all of them, they can't deny a partner from being able to have access to their partner [who's] ill, or making the call on whether or not they, you know ... it's just, this is evolving. And by the way, my measure, David -- and I take a look at when things really began to change, is when the social culture changes. I think Will and Grace probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody's ever done so far.
And I think people fear that which is different. Now they're beginning to understand, they're beginning to understand that this -- as a base! -- I, uh, was speaking to a group of gay leaders in Los Angeles last, two weeks ago. And one gentleman looked at me in the question period and said, let me ask you, how do you feel about us? And I had just walked in to the backdoor of this gay couple and their, their two adopted -- and I turned to the man who owned the house, and said: What did I do when I walked in? He said: You walked right to my children. They were seven and five, and giving you flowers. And I said, I wish every American could see the look of love those children have in their eyes for you guys, and they wouldn't have any doubt what this is about.
This is the kind of off-the-script vice-presidential headline-making that any administration can either hurry to embrace or else attempt to slink away from. Interestingly, the Obama administration seems to be doing both.
[The Vice President] was saying what the President has said previously -- that committed and loving same-sex couples deserve the same rights and protections enjoyed by all Americans, and that we oppose any effort to rollback those rights.
On Twitter, President Obama's Communications Director, David Axelrod, is more succinct:
What VP said-that all married couples should have exactly the same legal rights-is precisely POTUS's position.
Good to know.
Watch Joe Biden on Meet The Press AFTER THE JUMP...
As Bill Clinton robocalls North Carolinians to explain the importance of civil unions to families, communities, and businesses, the pro-Amendment One people are getting weird.
One week ago today was the Sunday designated by North Carolinian homophobes as "Marriage Sunday" -- a day when pastors would organize to inspire their flocks to cast votes against equality. At Beacon Baptist Church, which draws some 1,500 worshippers to praise each sabbath, Pastor Tim Rabon devoted his entire sermon to Amendment One. One of his remarks is getting special attention in the blogosphere:
Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington, plus the District of Columbia, have already redefined marriage to include the union of any two people. May I just insert here: what is stopping them from refining marriage as between a person and a beast? We're not far from that.
But, really, if you're interested in hearing how homophobic North Carolinian Baptists discuss weighty matters in their natural habitats, it's worth listening to the whole sermon. Fascinating stuff. Example: Shortly after reading from Genesis, Rabon explains, somewhat gnomically, that the reason marriage is immutably between one man and one woman is that Jehovah created the institution on the sixth day of creation. Which sounds like the usual craziness -- until you realize that he's predicating the Baptist argument for Amendment One on a literal reading of Genesis, and therefore on Young Earth Creationism. That and much more is available AFTER THE JUMP.
Meanwhile, a 44-year-old mother by the name of Heidi Thompson was arrested Wednesday on her way to her home in West End for stealing anti-Amendment One signs out of people's yards. From WRAL:
"I didn't feel like I was stealing signs at the time," she said. "I just looked at it as picking up trash along the side of the road."
Thompson was driving with her 13-year-old daughter at the time, and she bid the girl assist in the thievery. She's now been charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor:
"I know it's making me look like a bad parent, but we've taught that it's not right for men to be married to men and women to be married to women, so we stopped and picked them up," Thompson said. "Had I known it would be such a political issue, I wouldn't have done it."
... There is nothing political about the charges, [said Pinehurst Police Chief Earl Chipps].
"We don't weigh any favoritism one way or another in an investigation. We look at the evidence," he said.
Thompson, however, disagrees.
"I just think they're making a statement out me," she said.
NOTE: The sermon in the below video is now restricted and un-embeddable. You may still see it here.
I mentioned last night that Bill Clinton's recorded a robocall attacking North Carolina's anti-gay Amendment One, which shall very possibly be voted into law on Tuesday. Now, courtesy of ProtectAllNCFamilies.org, you can hear the audio. Listen AFTER THE JUMP ...