Lesbian students threatened with suspension for holding hands on campus

From The South Florida Times: http://www.sfltimes.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7111&Itemid=199

Written by Elgin Jones
Wed. May 18, 2011

POMPANO BEACH – The nation’s sixth largest public school district has cleared a high school principal accused of lecturing and threatening two female students with suspension for holding hands on campus. The students say the principal also “outed” them to their parents.

The South Florida Times is not identifying the students, who are an interracial couple, one a junior, the other a senior. Both have good grades and one is an honor student.

The two were holding hands while walking to class on May 3 at Blanche Ely High School in Pompano Beach. School Principal Karlton Johnson confronted and took them to his office.

“We were walking to class when he rolled up on his golf cart and said, ‘Didn’t I tell you two to stop doing do that?’ and then he took us to his office,” one of the girls told South Florida TImes. “He gave us a speech and then separated us before calling our parents, which was wrong. My mother already knew but my friend’s mom didn’t know she is into girls.”

One of the teens says Johnson had warned them about holding hands on previous occasions but they continued anyway because straight couples were allowed to do so without incident. The students reacted to Johnson’s action by complaining to school officials.

“There has been a situation in my upcoming [sic] school, Blanche Ely High, dealing with discrimination against the gay/lesbian community,” one of the students wrote in an e-mail complaining to school officials. “Our principal here has tried to suspend me and my friend for holding hands. And I would like to know if such actions are necessary for something so fragile.”

Continue reading at: http://www.sfltimes.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7111&Itemid=199

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Leaving The Church of Free Market Miracles

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/05/17-6

Where does one find succor and seeds of renewal in times such as these?

by Phil Rockstroh
Published on Tuesday, May 17, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

“Everything that everyone is afraid of has already happened: The fragility of capitalism, which we don’t want to admit; the loss of the empire of the United States; and American exceptionalism. In fact, American exceptionalism is that we are exceptionally backward in about fifteen different categories, from education to infrastructure. But we’re in a stage of denial: we want to re-establish things as they used to be, to put the country back where it was.” — James Hillman

Most of the men I grew up with in Alabama and Georgia deny the veracity of climate change. They are unwilling to make the connection between their ownership (actually the bank’s) of SUVs and oversized pickup trucks and the super storms and massive floods that, now with alarming regularity, ravish the region.

Because their besieged sense of self is intermeshed with their motor vehicles, they hold fast to these symbols of the fading world they know. In their imaginings, these gruesome, noxious (and obnoxious) machines represent power and mobility — exactly the aspects of their lives that have been diminished by the demands and degradations of oligarchic capitalism.

By their self-imprisonment in these sorts of compensatory fantasies, they choose to risk their children’s future, rather than, as one victim of his own curdling testosterone expressed to me recently on FaceBook, “[give up his over-sized pick-up] and drive a 4-wheel vagina, algore-mobile.”

A deep-rooted, malignant anger regarding their diminished sense of manhood seethes at the core of pronouncements such as that, and the following, shared on my FaceBook scroll, this past Earth Day: “Happy Earhart day!!! How did you celebrate? I clubbed an adorable baby harp seal, dumped a barrel of waste oil down the storm drain, and started a giant tire fire!!! Good times….”

The sentiment expressed above is an imprecatory prayer, borne of uneasy submission i.e., the callow voice of deep denial, a manifestation of a culturally re-enforced, self-protective cynicism — a reflexive negation of novel ideas that masks a besieged psyche; it is the nihilistic rage appropriated by the powerless serving as a bulwark against the anxiety created by shifting circumstances and buffeted verities.

In the U.S., life keeps changing for the working class — and not for the better. Hence, an inner voice of doubt and despair falsely informs these men that the agents and effects of change will be of no help to them personally…that no one (especially smug, know-it-all liberals) can be of service to you, and, worse, what little you have amassed will be lost.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/05/17-6

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International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

From The US Department of State: http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2011/05/163529.htm

Press Statement

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
May 17, 2011

In every part of the world, men and women are persecuted and attacked because of who they are or whom they love. Homophobia, transphobia and the brutal hostility associated with them are often rooted in a lack of understanding of what it actually means to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT). So to combat this terrible scourge and break the cycle of fear and violence, we must work together to improve education and support those who stand up against laws that criminalize love and promote hate. As we mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia this May 17, let us resolve to redouble our efforts.

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I am proud to reaffirm our support for LGBT communities at home and abroad, and to call for an end to discrimination and mistreatment of LGBT persons wherever it occurs. Whether by supporting LGBT advocates marching in Belgrade, leading the effort at the United Nations to affirm the human rights of LGBT persons, or condemning a vile law under consideration in Uganda, we are committed to our friends and allies in every region of the world who are fighting for equality and justice. These are not Western concepts; these are universal human rights.

Despite these gains and hard work, there is more to do to turn the tide of inequality and discrimination against the LGBT community. If you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, know that the United States stands with you and we are unwavering in our commitment to ending this cycle of hate.

In Final Marriage Push, Cuomo Faces Increased Pressure

From Gay City News:  http://www.gaycitynews.com/articles/2011/05/17/gay_city_news/news/doc4dd2fb6b0a020769400009.txt

As advocates of every stripe join Albany battle, governor’s words given careful scrutiny

BY PAUL SCHINDLER
May 17, 2011

With just five weeks left in the state legislative calendar –– and Governor Andrew Cuomo committed to getting a marriage equality bill enacted before senators and assemblymembers head home on June 20 –– advocates are stepping up their efforts to move at least six senators from the undecided or no column to a yes.

On May 17, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and out lesbian City Council Speaker Christine Quinn traveled to Albany to lobby on behalf of the legislation (see related story by Simon Garron-Caine), which was introduced last week in the Assembly by out gay Upper West Side Democrat Daniel O’Donnell but has yet to be submitted to the Senate.

The governor’s response to O’Donnell filing his bill –– which has passed the Assembly on three occasions since 2007 –– created a stir, with some questioning whether Cuomo was qualifying his insistence all year that he wanted to get the job done during the Legislature’s regular session.

“This has never been about a vote in the Assembly, primarily,” Cuomo said, when asked why a bill had not yet been filed in the Senate. “The Assembly has passed it before; we expect they will pass it again. The question really is what’s going to happen in the Senate.”

Alluding to a group of advocates, including the Empire State Pride Agenda, the Human Rights Campaign, Freedom to Marry, and Marriage Equality New York, that he and his top aides have been meeting with regularly since early March, the governor added, “The discussions that I’ve had with the collective group that is working on this in a unified way is we want to pass a bill. We don’t want to bring a bill up in the Senate that would fail. Nobody wants to have an instant replay of last year. We’re not having a vote for the sake of a vote.”

In December 2009, out gay Chelsea Democratic Senator Tom Duane’s bill was debated on the floor, but defeated 38-24

Since then, the number of committed supporters of the legislation has increased to 26 out of the 32 needed. All but four of the Democrats are in the yes column, but no Republican has yet endorsed the bill. The GOP currently holds a razor-thin 32-30 majority in the Senate.

Continue reading at:  http://www.gaycitynews.com/articles/2011/05/17/gay_city_news/news/doc4dd2fb6b0a020769400009.txt

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Jobs disappear as America “races to the bottom.”

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Republi-Nazi Gov, Scott Walker seeks to stop defense of state’s domestic partner registry

From the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/121956273.html

By Patrick Marley of the Journal Sentinel
May 16, 2011

Madison – Gov. Scott Walker believes a new law that gives gay couples hospital visitation rights violates the state constitution and has asked a judge to allow the state to stop defending it.

Democrats who controlled the Legislature in 2009 changed the law so that same-sex couples could sign up for domestic partnership registries with county clerks to secure some – but not all – of the rights afforded married couples.

Wisconsin Family Action sued last year in Dane County circuit court, arguing that the registries violated a 2006 amendment to the state constitution that bans gay marriage and any arrangement that is substantially similar.

Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen refused to defend the lawsuit, saying he agreed the new law violated the state constitution. Then-Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, hired Madison attorney Lester Pines to defend the state.

Walker, a Republican, replaced Doyle in January and fired Pines in March. On Friday, Walker filed a motion to stop defending the case.

“Governor Walker, in deference to the legal opinion of the attorney general that the domestic partner registry…is unconstitutional, does not believe the public interest requires a continued defense of this law,” says the brief, filed by Walker’s chief counsel, Brian Hagedorn.

Hagedorn told Dane County Circuit Judge Daniel Moeser that if he could not withdraw from the case, he would like to amend earlier filings to reflect Walker’s belief that the registries conflict with the state constitution.

Continue reading at:  http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/121956273.html

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The Obama Deception: Why Cornel West Went Ballistic

From Truth Dig: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_obama_deception_why_cornel_west_went_ballistic_20110516/

By Chris Hedges
May 16, 2011

The moral philosopher Cornel West, if Barack Obama’s ascent to power was a morality play, would be the voice of conscience. Rahm Emanuel, a cynical product of the Chicago political machine, would be Satan. Emanuel in the first scene of the play would dangle power, privilege, fame and money before Obama. West would warn Obama that the quality of a life is defined by its moral commitment, that his legacy will be determined by his willingness to defy the cruel assault by the corporate state and the financial elite against the poor and working men and women, and that justice must never be sacrificed on the altar of power.

Perhaps there was never much of a struggle in Obama’s heart. Perhaps West only provided a moral veneer. Perhaps the dark heart of Emanuel was always the dark heart of Obama. Only Obama knows. But we know how the play ends. West is banished like honest Kent in “King Lear.” Emanuel and immoral mediocrities from Lawrence Summers to Timothy Geithner to Robert Gates—think of Goneril and Regan in the Shakespearean tragedy—take power. We lose. And Obama becomes an obedient servant of the corporate elite in exchange for the hollow trappings of authority.

No one grasps this tragic descent better than West, who did 65 campaign events for Obama, believed in the potential for change and was encouraged by the populist rhetoric of the Obama campaign. He now nurses, like many others who placed their faith in Obama, the anguish of the deceived, manipulated and betrayed. He bitterly describes Obama as “a black mascot of Wall Street oligarchs and a black puppet of corporate plutocrats. And now he has become head of the American killing machine and is proud of it.”

“When you look at a society you look at it through the lens of the least of these, the weak and the vulnerable; you are committed to loving them first, not exclusively, but first, and therefore giving them priority,” says West, the Class of 1943 University Professor of African American Studies and Religion at Princeton University. “And even at this moment, when the empire is in deep decline, the culture is in deep decay, the political system is broken, where nearly everyone is up for sale, you say all I have is the subversive memory of those who came before, personal integrity, trying to live a decent life, and a willingness to live and die for the love of folk who are catching hell. This means civil disobedience, going to jail, supporting progressive forums of social unrest if they in fact awaken the conscience, whatever conscience is left, of the nation. And that’s where I find myself now.

“I have to take some responsibility,” he admits of his support for Obama as we sit in his book-lined office. “I could have been reading into it more than was there.

“I was thinking maybe he has at least some progressive populist instincts that could become more manifest after the cautious policies of being a senator and working with [Sen. Joe] Lieberman as his mentor,” he says. “But it became very clear when I looked at the neoliberal economic team. The first announcement of Summers and Geithner I went ballistic. I said, ‘Oh, my God, I have really been misled at a very deep level.’ And the same is true for Dennis Ross and the other neo-imperial elites. I said, ‘I have been thoroughly misled, all this populist language is just a facade. I was under the impression that he might bring in the voices of brother Joseph Stiglitz and brother Paul Krugman. I figured, OK, given the structure of constraints of the capitalist democratic procedure that’s probably the best he could do. But at least he would have some voices concerned about working people, dealing with issues of jobs and downsizing and banks, some semblance of democratic accountability for Wall Street oligarchs and corporate plutocrats who are just running amuck. I was completely wrong.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_obama_deception_why_cornel_west_went_ballistic_20110516/

The People vs. Goldman Sachs

From Rolling Stone: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-people-vs-goldman-sachs-20110511

A Senate committee has laid out the evidence. Now the Justice Department should bring criminal charges

By Matt Taibbi
May 11, 2011 9:30 AM ET

They weren’t murderers or anything; they had merely stolen more money than most people can rationally conceive of, from their own customers, in a few blinks of an eye. But then they went one step further. They came to Washington, took an oath before Congress, and lied about it.

Thanks to an extraordinary investigative effort by a Senate subcommittee that unilaterally decided to take up the burden the criminal justice system has repeatedly refused to shoulder, we now know exactly what Goldman Sachs executives like Lloyd Blankfein and Daniel Sparks lied about. We know exactly how they and other top Goldman executives, including David Viniar and Thomas Montag, defrauded their clients. America has been waiting for a case to bring against Wall Street. Here it is, and the evidence has been gift-wrapped and left at the doorstep of federal prosecutors, evidence that doesn’t leave much doubt: Goldman Sachs should stand trial.

The great and powerful Oz of Wall Street was not the only target of Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: Anatomy of a Financial Collapse, the 650-page report just released by the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations, chaired by Democrat Carl Levin of Michigan, alongside Republican Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. Their unusually scathing bipartisan report also includes case studies of Washington Mutual and Deutsche Bank, providing a panoramic portrait of a bubble era that produced the most destructive crime spree in our history — “a million fraud cases a year” is how one former regulator puts it. But the mountain of evidence collected against Goldman by Levin’s small, 15-desk office of investigators — details of gross, baldfaced fraud delivered up in such quantities as to almost serve as a kind of sarcastic challenge to the curiously impassive Justice Department — stands as the most important symbol of Wall Street’s aristocratic impunity and prosecutorial immunity produced since the crash of 2008.

To date, there has been only one successful prosecution of a financial big fish from the mortgage bubble, and that was Lee Farkas, a Florida lender who was just convicted on a smorgasbord of fraud charges and now faces life in prison. But Farkas, sadly, is just an exception proving the rule: Like Bernie Madoff, his comically excessive crime spree (which involved such lunacies as kiting checks to his own bank and selling loans that didn’t exist) was almost completely unconnected to the systematic corruption that led to the crisis. What’s more, many of the earlier criminals in the chain of corruption — from subprime lenders like Countrywide, who herded old ladies and ghetto families into bad loans, to rapacious banks like Washington Mutual, who pawned off fraudulent mortgages on investors — wound up going belly up, sunk by their own greed.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-people-vs-goldman-sachs-20110511

Thom Hartmann: Could it be that Republicans REALLY DO wants US to default?

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The Christo-Nazi Right is Aiming to Destroy All Things Public

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/belief/150936/insider%3A_%22the_christian_right_is_aiming_to_destroy_all_things_public%22/

The Right has pushed for the state to hand over its public duties to private companies, including military operations, prisons, health care, public transport, and all the rest.

De Capo Press / By Frank Schaeffer
May 13, 2011

The following is an excerpt from Frank Schaeffer’s new book, Sex, Mom, and God: How the Bible’s Strange Take on Sex Led to Crazy Politics — and How I Learned to Love Women (and Jesus) Anyway (Da Capo Press, 2011). Raised in Switzerland in l’Abri, a utopian community and spiritual school his evangelical parents founded, Schaeffer was restless and aware even at a young age that “my life was being defined by my parent’s choices.” Still, he took to “the family business” well, following his dad as he became one of the “best-known evangelical leaders in the U.S.” on whirlwind speaking tours. While rubbing shoulders with Pat Robertson, James Dobson and Jerry Falwell, Schaeffer witnessed the birth of the Christian anti-abortion movement, and became an evangelical writer, speaker and star in his own right.

****

Ironically, at the very same time as Evangelicals like Dad and I were thrusting ourselves into bare-knuckle politics in the 1970s and 80s, we were also retreating to what amounted to virtual walled compounds. In other words we lashed out at “godless America” and demanded political change—say, the reintroduction of prayer into public schools—and yet also urged our followers to pull their own children out of the public schools and homeschool them. The rejection of public schools by Evangelical Protestants was a harbinger of virtual civil war carried on by other means. Protestants had once been the public schools’ most ardent defenders.

For instance, in the 1840s when Roman Catholics asked for tax relief for their private schools, Protestants said no and stood against anything they thought might undermine the public schools that they believed were the backbone of moral virtue, community spirit, and egalitarian good citizenship.

The Evangelical’s abandonment of the country they called home (while simultaneously demanding change in that society) went far beyond alternative schools or homeschooling. In the 1970s and 1980s thousands of Christian bookstores opened, countless new Evangelical radio programs flourished, and new TV stations went on the air. Even a “Christian Yellow Pages” (a guide to Evangelical tradesmen) was published advertising “Christcentered plumbers,” accountants, and the like who “honor Jesus.”

New Evangelical universities and even new law schools appeared, seemingly overnight, with a clearly defined mission to “take back” each and every profession—including law and politics—“for Christ.” For instance, Liberty University’s Law School was a dream come true for my old friend Jerry Falwell, who (when I was speaking at his school in 1983 to the entire student body for the second time) gleefully told me of his vision for Liberty’s programs: “Frank, we’re going to train a new generation of judges to change America!” This was the same Jerry Falwell who wrote in America Can Be Saved, “I hope I live to see the day when, as in the early days of our country, we won’t have any public schools.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/belief/150936/insider%3A_%22the_christian_right_is_aiming_to_destroy_all_things_public%22/

Health Insurers Making Record Profits as Many Postpone Care Due to Insurers Manipulation of Coverage

Great Profits=Great theft…
In other words the Health Insurers are those with the actual “Death Panels”

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/14/business/14health.html?ref=health
By
Published: May 13, 2011

The nation’s major health insurers are barreling into a third year of record profits, enriched in recent months by a lingering recessionary mind-set among Americans who are postponing or forgoing medical care.

The UnitedHealth Group, one of the largest commercial insurers, told analysts that so far this year, insured hospital stays actually decreased in some instances. In reporting its earnings last week, Cigna, another insurer, talked about the “low level” of medical use.

Yet the companies continue to press for higher premiums, even though their reserve coffers are flush with profits and shareholders have been rewarded with new dividends. Many defend proposed double-digit increases in the rates they charge, citing a need for protection against any sudden uptick in demand once people have more money to spend on their health, as well as the rising price of care.

Even with a halting economic recovery, doctors and others say many people are still extremely budget-conscious, signaling the possibility of a fundamental change in Americans’ appetite for health care.

“I am noticing my patients with insurance are more interested in costs,” said Dr. Jim King, a family practice physician in rural Tennessee. “Gas prices are going up, food prices are going up. They are deciding to put some of their health care off.” A patient might decide not to drive the 50 miles necessary to see a specialist because of the cost of gas, he said.

Continue reading at:   http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/14/business/14health.html?ref=health

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