Sen. Lindsey Graham urges government contractors to lay people off just before the election:
I’m urging every defense industry that could be affected by sequestration to put your employees on notice before November ... The more it becomes real to us as to what comes the nation’s way, the more likely we are to solve the problem.
Stop The Deportations responds to the big DHS announcement:
After a two-year campaign urging the Obama administration to stop the deportations of spouses of gay and lesbian Americans, we welcome the announcement by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that it will formally recognize same-sex marriages as part of its year-old ‘prosecutorial discretion’ deportation policy and other related enforcement matters.
... This move is significant beyond the immigration context, as it constitutes the first time any agency of the federal government has created a policy explicitly recognizing same-sex marriages.
At least six dead in shooting at Sikh temple:
The shootings occurred about 10:30 a.m. at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in the town of Oak Creek, just south of Milwaukee, officials said ...
The New York Post didn't think much of Friday's Chick-fil-A kiss-in, but did at least offer this hilarious description of a homophobe:
... Nearby, an older gent who refused to give his name was freaking out.
“Why don’t they go to Sbarro and do that? Why don’t they go to Subway?”
There is such a thing as a "Chick-on-chick" sandwich, and you can get it in Houston.
A BuzzFeed contributor builds a treacly but compelling case for Matthew Mitcham's adorableness.
Vietnam's first Pride Parade:
... it was a scene that was unimaginable a few years ago, when Vietnam still labeled homosexuality a "social evil" alongside drug addiction and prostitution. The country's gay community was once so underground that few groups or meeting places existed, and it was taboo to even talk about the issue.
Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas Sands Corporation is under investigation for money laundering.
Mass death at the beginning of the last millenium linked to a super volcano:
Scientific evidence – including radiocarbon dating of the bones and geological data from across the globe – shows for the first time that mass fatalities in the 13th century were caused by one of the largest volcanic eruptions of the past 10,000 years.
Such was the size of the eruption that its sulphurous gases would have released a stratospheric aerosol veil or dry fog that blocked out sunlight, altered atmospheric circulation patterns and cooled the Earth’s surface ...
Dick Cavett: Gore Vidal hates being dead ...
... unless of course we die and go somewhere where you can write, drink, have sex, appear on TV and, above all else, talk.
... he was -- I feel safe in saying -- the best talker since Oscar Wilde ... You felt you had just had a lovely bath in the elegant and witty use of our sadly declining English language. Gore's talk, if transcribed, could be printed without editing. If there seemed to be some preening in his prepared remarks on television -- and he knew a good line was worth repeating -- it was outweighed by the quality of the verbal prose.
This link will bring you to one of the saddest stories you'll read this month. It's the story of an Iowan named Nick Rhoades; a person with HIV who has always strictly adhered to his medication regimen. In the summer of 2008, his viral load was so puny as to be undetectable.
One evening in June of that year, Rhoades hooked up with a man named Adam Plendl. He used a condom, but declined to disclose his status until afterwards. When Rhoades did disclose, Plendl panicked. From CNN:
Plendl, 22 at the time, says his life was forever changed ... and that he was severely depressed and suffered panic attacks while waiting to find out if he was infected.
"It was 181 days of pure fear, that six-month window when you don't know," he says.
"Individuals that are HIV positive have a moral and currently legal obligation to inform any of their sexual partners of their positive status. Individuals should have the choice as to whether or not they would engage with someone who is HIV positive when they are not. In this case, that choice -- and what I also consider a right -- was not afforded to me."
Plendl called the police. Three months after the June hookup, Rhoades was arrested, and charged with "criminal transmission of HIV" -- even though medical tests then and later showed that there was no transmission of HIV, and Plendl remains negative. Rhoades's attorney advised him to plead guilty to the charge, which he did. His bail was set at a quarter million dollars, and Rhoades couldn't pay that. He spent nine months in jail, much of it in solitary confinement, before being sentenced to 25 years in prison. That sentence was subsequently commuted to time served, five years of probation, and life on the sex offender registry. Says Rhoades:
My life is forever changed. Do a Google search for my name and some pretty horrific stuff comes up. I have had to change a private medical condition and a private life to public domain.
That's not to say I can't be happy, find employment, have a satisfying life, but it's never going to just go away.
Read all about it here.
The right-wing blogosphere is going slowly batty over the plight of Pastor Jack Hakimian of Miami's Impact Miami Church. Impact is a sort of theologically generic Protestant outfit, where Hakimian, a former gang member, is given to saying things like:
... there is an aggressive approach by … gay theologians that says the Bible never spoke about homosexuality in a way that contemporary Christians understand it. It’s all over — it’s on YouTube, its on CNN, and its on 60 Minutes. They are not just saying, ‘accept us’ — and I believe we should protect, and not bully, and treat all people with dignity and respect. But they are going beyond and above to change the very meaning of Scripture.
No one thus far has questioned Pastor Hakimian's right to say such things. However, Impact is currently located on property rented to the church by the Miami-Dade School District -- located, in fact, on the campus of North Miami High School -- and the school district now plans to evict them. From the appalling rag called New American:
... the school district’s superintendent, Alberto Carvalho, responded to the sermons with a statement that Hakimian’s take on homosexuality “appears to be contrary to school board policy as well as the basic principles of humanity.” Carvalho told ABC television news affiliate local10.com that he had asked “for immediate legal review to seek the termination” of the church’s lease contract with the school district. “I am making this decision not on the basis of policy or politics, but as a rejection of prejudice and intolerance,” claimed Carvalho.
A spokesman for the district followed up Carvalho’s comments, saying that the school board and superintendent had reviewed the “allegations” against the pastor and found his words “disturbing and appalling."
Liberty Counsel's gotten involved, writing the district a letter opining that eviction would constitute a breach of Impact's 1st Amendment rights:
The nondiscrimination and antibullying policies of the Miami-Dade School Board are not applicable to the situation at hand. Pastor Hakimian and the church have violated no law or policy. The district cannot discriminate on the basis of his Biblically sound viewpoint. Any attempt by the school board to modify, change, or revoke the lease agreement would be unconstitutional.
“The district must respect the First Amendment rights of Pastor Hakimian and the church,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel.
Pastor Hakimian, who seems to have excellent PR instincts, has turned Carvahlo's charges on their head, claiming that he, Hakimian, is the victim of intolerance and bullying, and publicly demanding an apology. See him do it AFTER THE JUMP (and note his fascinating pronunciation of the word "tyranny") ...
Mitt Romney tentatively, meekly, quietly, through spokeswoman Andrea Saul, took a position on something this weekend. He believes now, as he believed 18 years ago, that gay people should be allowed to participate in the Boy Scouts, though he doesn't believe the Scouts should be compelled to adjust policy in accordance with his personal opinion.
The news is buried very near the bottom of this AP story, which is otherwise about Eagle Scouts returning their medals:
In contrast to Obama, Republican candidate Mitt Romney does have a public position on the Scouts' policy -- he politely disagrees with it.
Back in 1994, during a political debate in Massachusetts, Romney said this: "I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue. I feel that all people should be able to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation."
A Romney spokeswoman, Andrea Saul, said in an e-mail that this remains Romney's position today.
The way in which this news was made suggests Romney doesn't want to make headlines, but the saucy people at GLAAD don't care. They issued a press release yesterday, which reads, in part:
Romney joins hundreds of thousands of Americans including politicians, celebrities, and corporate leaders from AT&T and Ernst & Young (who also happen to be board members of the BSA) in speaking out against the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on LGBT scouts and scout leaders ...
One note, though. At the time Romney made the statement about his personal beliefs vs. the right of the Boy Scouts to self-determination, he was actually on the Boy Scouts' National Executive Board. Which means his personal opinion should have been part of the Boy Scouts' self-determination. Saying that "they," the Boy Scouts, have the right to decide whom to admit to their ranks makes little sense. He should have said "we," and then explained when, why, and how he and the rest of the scouting world had parted ways on the issue.
See Romney's original, 1994 answer to the scouting question AFTER THE JUMP ...
Andrew reported Thursday on the announcement by the Department of Homeland Security, made to BuzzFeed's Chris Geidner, that DHS now considers the marriages of same-sex binational couples a serious impediment to beginning deportation proceedings against gay "illegal" immigrants:
The statement — which comes in response to pressure from House Democrats and advocates — makes explicit that the Obama Administration will consider same-sex marriages a reason not to start deportation proceedings.
"[W]hen exercising prosecutorial discretion in enforcement matters, DHS looks at the totality of the circumstances presented in individual cases, including whether an individual has close family ties to the United States as demonstrated by his or her same-sex marriage or other longstanding relationship to a United States citizen," [DHS Deputy Press Secretary] Peter Boogaard told BuzzFeed Monday.
But this is essentially what the DHS has been saying since August 18th, 2011, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is unsatisfied. Early last week, Ms. Pelosi sent a letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, demanding that the Department's policy vis a vis the foreign spouses of gay citizens be codified and set in writing. The demand didn't change after BuzzFeed published Mr. Boogard's statement. From BuzzFeed:
Responding to Thursday's report, Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said today, "It’s a welcome development that a DHS spokesperson is explicitly and publicly acknowledging that DHS’s consideration of family ties includes same-sex couples and spouses. We look forward to the written guidance that we expect would be a logical next step."
... Although BuzzFeed requested a copy of any [written policy detailing DHS's current stance], the only policy to which BuzzFeed has been directed by any DHS officials is a 2011 policy that makes no mention of same-sex couples.
The Mars rover Curiosity will touch down tomorrow morning. It is the size of a big sedan, and it has been traveling through the near-vacuum of intrastellar space for eight months. If it lands safely, it will probe the rocks and dirt in and around Gale Crater in the hope of finally establishing whether Mars was ever a suitable environment for life. It will be a magnificent achievement; one all of humanity will be able to boast about for millenia.
But -- have you ever tried landing a sedan-sized rover on a planet that resides at an average of 225 million kilometers from Earth? On a planet with an atmosphere so thin that parachutes won't be sufficient to slow its descent? It's not easy. Ian Sample, of The Guardian, has written an excellent explanation of the process by which NASA scientists intend to get Curiosity aground -- an improbable, crazy-sounding sequence of mechanical feats which the involved scientists have begun calling "Seven Minutes of Terror." And NASA has produced a sharp, graphics-heavy video to explain the same thing. Harrowing stuff! Watch AFTER THE JUMP ...