Wash. State Senate Introduces Marriage Bill

From The Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2011/02/14/Wash_State_Senate_Introduces_Marriage_Bill/

By Neal Broverman

February 14, 2011

Lawmakers in Olympia, Wash., introduced a marriage equality bill in the state senate Monday — Valentine’s Day — and a companion bill is set to be introduced in the state house Tuesday.

Story at:  http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2011/02/14/Wash_State_Senate_Introduces_Marriage_Bill/

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U.S. Chamber of Commerce Thugs Used ‘Terror Tools’ for Disinfo Scheme Targeting Me, My Family and Other Progressives

I first heard Brad Friedman discussing this on the Mike Malloy show on Friday evening.  The abuse of private police and para-military/intelligence organizations is absolutely chilling, especially since corporations are not held to the same legal standards as people and can be used to protect the people involved from the personal consequences of their actions.

From The Bradblog:  http://www.bradblog.com/?p=8354

By Brad Friedman


And why they are likely to get away with it…

“[W]ho better to develop a corporate information reconnaissance capability than companies that have been market leaders within the DoD and Intelligence Community.”
– ‘Team Themis’, from their 11/3/10 “Corporate Information Reconnaissance Cell” proposal delivered to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s law firm Hunton & Williams.

As I learned late last Thursday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the most powerful Rightwing lobbying group in the country, was revealed to have been working with their law firm and a number of private cyber security and intelligence firms to target progressive organizations, journalists and citizens who they felt were in opposition to their political activism, tactics and points of view.

As I went on the air Thursday night — my fifth in a six-day guest hosting stint on the nationally syndicated Mike Malloy Show — revelations about the planned multi-million dollar political hit job by the security/intelligence firms working to develop a scheme for the U.S. Chamber (and another one, almost identical to it, on behalf of Bank of America) were just beginning to come to light. Both plots were being developed by the Chamber and BofA by the very same law firm, Hunton & Williams and with the cyber intelligence firms HBGary Federal, Berico Technologies & Palantir Technologies.

As the show began, I was able to report the news, based on an exclusive report from Lee Fang at ThinkProgress, that internal emails from one of the firms, confirmed that VelvetRevolution.us (VR), a progressive non-partisan, non-profit organization co-founded by The BRAD BLOG, and its StopTheChamber.com campaign were specifically highlighted as targets of the Chamber’s plot which was proposed to include the planting of a “false document”, in hopes they’d be publicly released by VR or other progressive groups, so the U.S. Chamber could then claim the groups involved had created a forgery.

Continue reading at:  http://www.bradblog.com/?p=8354

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In Defense of Marriage, for All

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/14/opinion/14mon1.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

Published: February 13, 2011

The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act is indefensible — officially sanctioned discrimination against one group of Americans imposed during an election year. President Obama seems to know that, or at least he has called on Congress to repeal it. So why do his government’s lawyers continue to defend the act in court?

The law, signed by President Bill Clinton, denies married same-sex couples the federal benefits granted to other married couples, including Social Security survivor payments and the right to file joint tax returns. When December’s repeal of the noxious “don’t ask, don’t tell” law goes into effect, gay, lesbian and bisexual Americans will be able to serve openly in the military but may not be entitled to on-base housing or a spouse’s burial in a national cemetery.

Attorney General Eric Holder and Justice Department lawyers have sought to distance the administration from Congress’s justifications for the marriage act, one of which was to “encourage responsible procreation.”

But just last month, the department appealed two rulings by Joseph Tauro, a federal trial judge in Massachusetts, who found that the law’s denial of benefits to married same-sex couples could not pass constitutional muster. We did not agree with some of the judge’s reasoning. He said the marriage act exceeded Congress’s powers and infringed on the state’s right to regulate marriage — an approach that could undermine many of the biggest federal social programs, including the new health care law.

But the department’s appellate brief also recycled the flimsy argument that the law had a plausible purpose in trying to maintain the federal status quo while states debated the issue of same-sex marriage. This argument was peculiar since the law overturned the federal status quo, which was to recognize all legal marriages.

Continue reading at:   http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/14/opinion/14mon1.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

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Former USDA employee sues Breitbart over media prank

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/02/14/former-usda-employee-sues-breitbart-over-media-prank/

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, February 14th, 2011

Former US Department of Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod has made good on her word: she’s suing conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart.

Last year, he published a video of her describing to an NAACP conference how she long ago overcame her own racist attitudes. However, a video from that speech was deceptively edited to make it appear that she was describing how she used the power of the government against a white farmer.

She was fired from her post within hours of the clip hitting Breitbart’s website.

In truth, Sherrod’s story was about how she conquered her prejudice and used her power to help a family in need, and how that couple remained her friends even so many years later.

Instead, for the first day, the world believed Sherrod was a racist who abused her power to harm a white farmer.

Once it was all over, the government offered her the job back, but she declined. Even after a formal apology from the White House and an offer to talk to the president, Sherrod still refused.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack took it a step further and offered her a position dealing with civil rights and discrimination issues at the USDA, but Sherrod had other plans.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/02/14/former-usda-employee-sues-breitbart-over-media-prank/

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Today is Purity Day – Is Your Local School Pushing Chastity Pledges?

From RH Reality Check: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2011/02/14/stoking-fire-today-purity-your-local-school-pushing-chastity-pledges

By Eleanor Bader, RH Reality Check

February 14, 2011

Surprise: the Liberty Counsel, a 22-year-old rightwing advocacy group “dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of human life, and the family,” wants American teens to become part of the counter culture.

At least that’s what their website says. Perusal of the site makes clear that there’s a huge gulf separating LC’s vernacular from more progressive usage of the now-dated phrase. In fact, they’re advocating that youth participate in the ninth annual Day of Purity, using the occasion to declare, or in some cases re-declare, their devotion to “purity of mind and action,” AKA avoidance of sexual contact with members of the opposite sex until they walk down the aisle.

Purity Day takes place on February 14, a mid-winter holiday typically associated with chocolate hearts, cheesy greeting cards, and heartfelt expressions of love. Yes, Valentine’s Day.

“Today’s culture encourages youth to become sexually active at a young age and to experiment with sexual preferences,” LC’s website rails. “There is a concerted effort in the schools and media to turn our youth away from traditional values. The message is that sexual promiscuity and experimenting at an early age is normal.”

As they see it, waiting to have sexual intercourse until one enters into holy, heterosexual matrimony is akin to finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Again, their website touts the benefits—albeit without references for their specious data–of premarital chastity.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2011/02/14/stoking-fire-today-purity-your-local-school-pushing-chastity-pledges

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San Francisco: Gay Couples to Stage City Hall Sit-In to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

I hate the erasure of lesbians by people who think it is to hard to say gay and lesbian every bit as much as I hate how transsexuals are supposed to see themselves as part of transgender and feel included instead of erased.

From SF Weekly: http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2011/02/gay_couples_stage_sit-in_at_ci.php

By Erin Sherbert,

Mon., Feb. 14 2011

For many San Francisco gay couples, Valentine’s Day is just a bitter reminder of what they don’t have — marriage certificates.

So expect a huge turnout at San Francisco City Hall for the hallmark holiday today; gay couples across the nation will celebrate their love with a little civil disobedience.

Same-sex couples will line up at the county clerk’s office and go through some of the same motions they endured last year, which is to apply for their marriage licenses, and get rejected.

It’s much easier to take rejection when you already know it’s coming. It’s also a lot easier to organize a protest.

Continue reading at:  http://blogs.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2011/02/gay_couples_stage_sit-in_at_ci.php

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Los Angeles gets tough with political protesters

From The Los Angeles Times:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-protester-prosecution-20110211,0,6707905,full.story#

For acts of political protest that his predecessor treated as mere infractions, Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich is seeking jail time.

By Kate Linthicum and Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles TimesFebruary 11, 2011

Los Angeles City Atty. Carmen Trutanich is throwing the book at dozens of people arrested during recent political demonstrations — a major shift in city policy that has him pressing for jail time in types of cases that previous prosecutors had treated as infractions.

Some of the activists arrested, including eight college students and one military veteran who took part in a Westwood rally last year in support of the DREAM Act, face up to one year in county jail.

Trutanich’s aggressive stance is the latest episode in the city’s decades-long legal struggle over the rights of protesters. The Los Angeles Police Department‘s treatment of demonstrators at the 2000 Democratic National Convention and at a 2007 May Day rally at MacArthur Park led to lawsuits against the city.

Trutanich said in an interview that recent demonstrations, conducted without permits, had cost the city thousands of dollars for police response and disrupted traffic. Organizers of illegal protests should face consequences, he said.

Continue reading at:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-protester-prosecution-20110211,0,6707905,full.story#

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Wikileaks – Saudi asked US to stop oil lawsuits

From Steel Guru: http://www.steelguru.com/middle_east_news/Wikileaks_-_Saudi_asked_US_to_stop_oil_lawsuits/190706.html

Sunday, 13 Feb 2011

According to US diplomatic cables seen by Wikileaks, Saudi Arabia in 2007 threatened to pull out of a Texas oil refinery investment unless the US government intervened to stop Saudi Aramco from being sued in US courts for alleged oil price fixing,.

Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman Al Saud deputy Saudi oil minister said that he wanted the US to grant Saudi Arabia sovereign immunity from lawsuits by ordering a Department of Justice statement of interest on its behalf.

The cable said that Prince Abdulaziz told us that King Abdullah specifically had raised the lawsuit issue with Vice President Mr Cheney during his May visit and that the Saudi government would judge the administration’s willingness to file an SOI as a test of good faith.

It said that Prince Abdulaziz perceives the lawsuits as a threat right now, one that could derail the expansion of the Port Arthur refinery, possibly by the end of the summer.

Continue reading at:   http://www.steelguru.com/middle_east_news/Wikileaks_-_Saudi_asked_US_to_stop_oil_lawsuits/190706.html

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Rewriting History

I have to admit that I viewed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell fro a place of total apathy.  I’m anti-war, anti-conscription.  I believe that the only wars worth fighting are revolutions to overthrow tyrants.  Otherwise wars are where the poor of one country murder the poor of another country to enrich the wealthy who rarely send their children to murder or be murdered.

In international affairs, national interests are never really the interests of the working people but are rather the interests of the rich and powerful.

That said the rewriting of how the repeal of DADT was accomplished is already in progress.

Michelangelo Signorelli offers details in an article in The Advocate: http://www.advocate.com/Print_Issue/Features/Rewriting_History/

Advocate columnist Michelangelo Signorile says falling for a false narrative of how “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal came to pass gets us nowhere as the gay community continues to fight for its rights. By Michelangelo Signorile

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” is on its way to becoming history. And there are two things about history I feel compelled to point out: It’s often unpredictable (I never imagined it would take nearly 18 years for the United States to dump this embarrassing policy) and it’s often revised.

Look no further than false narratives about what the White House, Congress, and leading gay organizations did to make repeal happen. Some say it doesn’t matter now how it happened, that we should sweep it all under the rug, thank the president, and move on. I say not so fast.

There’s no question that this is Barack Obama’s victory, a great one for which he will be credited in the history books. He initiated the task, taking on the entrenched homophobia in the Pentagon. And we should be enormously grateful that he came through in the end. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look deeply at how we achieved the goal and realize the fundamental lesson for the LGBT movement: Only sustained pressure and continued media attention to the cause — which led to outright embarrassment for an administration and a Congress that failed to deliver all they had promised — will ultimately bring success. Remember that, because the revisionists are already trying to obscure it. Without an understanding of what really happened, we’re not going to win future battles.

Continue reading at:  http://www.advocate.com/Print_Issue/Features/Rewriting_History/