Turning Point for Marriage Equality in New York

From The Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2011/06/13/Major_Breakthroughs_on_Marriage_Equality_in_New_York/

By Julie Bolcer

A statement of support from James Alesi, the first Republican state senator to publicly announce he would vote yes on the marriage equality bill in New York, capped a day of watershed developments on Monday as the legislature moved briskly toward holding a vote, perhaps as early as this Thursday.

“It has been an extraordinary day,” said Brian Ellner, senior strategist in New York for the Human Rights Campaign, a member of the bipartisan New Yorkers for United for Marriage coalition working to pass the bill before the legislative session ends June 20. He added, “There is tremendous momentum.”

Advocates said Alesi made his announcement in the afternoon following a private meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo in Albany. The Rochester-area Republican, long considered open to appeals from marriage equality advocates, had previously characterized his mind as made up but refused to declare his position. Last month he sent a favorable signal by appearing at the upstate dinner presented by the Empire State Pride Agenda, also a member of the New Yorkers United for Marriage coalition.

“This becomes a matter of equality for people, our sons and daughters, [who] deserve the same freedom and the same equality in this great country and in the state of New York that each of every one of us enjoy in our everyday life,” said Alesi, according to Gannett.

Continue reading:  http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2011/06/13/Major_Breakthroughs_on_Marriage_Equality_in_New_York/

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Gov. Perry: Economic Crisis Is Part of God’s Plan To Return Us To Biblical Principles

Next time I tell you someone from Texas should not be president of the United States, please pay attention.
Molly Ivins

From Think Progress: http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/06/13/234883/rick-perry-gods-plan/

By Marie Diamond
Jun 13, 2011

For the past week, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) has been roundly criticized by religious and LGBT groups alike for inviting other governors to join him at an anti-gay prayer event hosted by stridently bigoted American Family Association. Not only has Perry courted the radical wing of the religious right for years, he has a history of bucking responsibility for tough problems by invoking God. For instance, while Texas was facing a historic drought and rash of wildfires, Gov. Perry extolled Texans to “pray for rain,” as he tried to cut fundingfor the agency battling the wildfires.

As Perry is poised to sign the most draconian state budget in recent history that slashes essential services for the poor and middle class while potentially laying off 100,000 teachers, Kyle Mantyla of Right Wing Watch Kyle digs up this gem of an interview from May in which the governor sheds some light on his motivations. During an appearance on James Robison’s Life Today television program, Perry says he sees a silver lining to the devastating recession that has cost millions of families their jobs, homes, and livelihoods: it will return America to “Biblical principles” and free us from the slavery of big government:

PERRY: I think in America from time to time we have to go through some difficult times — and I think we’re going through those difficult economic times for a purpose, to bring us back to those Biblical principles of you know, you don’t spend all the money. You work hard for those six years and you put up that seventh year in the warehouse to take you through the hard times. And not spending all of our money. Not asking for Pharaoh to give everything to everybody and to take care of folks because at the end of the day, it’s slavery. We become slaves to government.

Continue reading at:  http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/06/13/234883/rick-perry-gods-plan/

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/06/13/texas-governor-rick-perry-addresses-l-a-anti-abortion-rally/

Texas Governor Rick Perry addresses L.A. anti-abortion rally

 By Reuters
Monday, June 13th, 2011

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Texas Governor Rick Perry, viewed as a potential 2012 Republican presidential candidate, ventured far from his home state on Sunday to address a largely Hispanic group at an anti-abortion rally in Los Angeles.

The governor’s English-language remarks to a crowd of about 5,000 came as part of a daylong, mostly Spanish-language event at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena to raise money for a new women’s health center in South Los Angeles.

He urged the crowd to keep up pressure to roll back the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion until “Roe v. Wade is nothing but a shameful footnote in our nation’s history books.

Perry, a frequent critic of the federal government, also bashed President Barack Obama for his administration’s policy allowing federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, saying he was deeply disturbed by studies that turn “the remains of unborn children into nothing more than raw material.”

Since Roe v. Wade, Perry said, “50 million children have lost their chance at life — a tragic legacy of judicial activism and a stark reminder that our culture and our country are still in peril.”

Continue reading at:   http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/06/13/texas-governor-rick-perry-addresses-l-a-anti-abortion-rally/

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There Are 10 Times As Many Atheists as Mormons: When Will Non-Believers Become a Political Force?

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/belief/151267/there_are_10_times_as_many_atheists_as_mormons%3A_when_will_non-believers_become_a_political_force/

The rise of atheists as political players would have positive effects on American society and possibly even the world as a whole.

By Adam Lee
June 10, 2011

The propagandists of the religious right shout it aloud as their battle cry: “America is a Christian nation!” And in the trivial sense that ours is a nation populated mostly by Christians, this is true. But in the sense they mean it, that Christianity was intended to occupy a privileged place in the law — or worse, that Christianity was intended to be the only belief professed by Americans — it couldn’t be more false. Although religion in general, and Christianity in particular, play a dominant role in our public life, ours is a secular nation by law. And befitting that heritage, America has always played host to a lively tradition of freethought, unorthodoxy and religious dissent, one that dates back to our founding generation.

To name just one example, Thomas Jefferson rejected miracles and special revelation — he famously created his own version of the New Testament, which kept only the moral teachings and parables and cut out all the miracle stories — and encouraged his contemporaries to “question with boldness even the existence of a God.” He himself was a deist, not an atheist, but this subtle distinction was lost on his contemporaries, who hurled accusations at him every bit as vicious as today’s TV attack ads. For instance, in the presidential campaign of 1800, the Gazette of the United States editorialized as follows:

At the present solemn moment the only question to be asked by every American, laying his hand on his heart, is ‘shall I continue in allegiance to GOD—AND A RELIGIOUS PRESIDENT; or impiously declare for JEFFERSON—AND NO GOD!!!’

Jefferson’s political opponents denounced him as a “howling atheist” and a “French infidel,” and paranoid rumors circulated that, if he became president, he would order all Bibles to be confiscated. Of course, in the end Jefferson was elected to two successful presidential terms, and the feared wave of atheistic persecution failed to materialize.

But stories like these aren’t just historical footnotes. Just as freethinkers have always had their place in our nation, the strategy of slandering and demonizing them for political gain is likewise alive and well, as I found out for myself in 2008.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/belief/151267/there_are_10_times_as_many_atheists_as_mormons%3A_when_will_non-believers_become_a_political_force/

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Too Gay To Judge?

From Slate: http://www.slate.com/id/2296862?wpisrc=newsletter_tis

The preposterous, appalling effort to disqualify Vaughn Walker from judging the California gay marriage case because he is gay.

By Dahlia Lithwick
Posted Monday, June 13, 2011

Today, a court in San Francisco heard arguments about one of the most contemptible legal claims advanced in decades: that Vaughn Walker, the federal judge who voted last spring to strike down California’s ban on gay marriage, was too gay to decide the case fairly.

The claim brought by ProtectMarriage, the group that sponsored the 2008 ballot initiative, tries to shimmy around a direct assertion that Walker’s homosexuality should disqualify him from having judged the Prop 8 case. They don’t say that Walker, who retired from the federal bench last February following his Prop 8 ruling, is biased in favor of gay marriage because he is gay. Instead ProtectMarriage argues—see this April 25 motion to vacate Walker’s ruling—that Walker, who has lived with his partner for 10 years, may have ruled for gay marriage so that he himself could get married and someday enjoy the benefits of marriage. The motion to vacate is thus rooted in their argument that “no judge is permitted to try cases where he has an interest in the outcome.” And since “no one would suggest that Chief Judge Walker could issue an injunction directing a state official to issue a marriage license to him, yet on this record, it must be presumed that that is precisely what has occurred,” his ruling, they insist, must be scuttled.

The problem for the proponents of Prop 8 is that there is no evidence in their motion that Walker ever sought to marry his partner, despite the existence of a decadelong relationship. So they rely instead on the argument that he is gay, and that’s enough.

Although rumors that Walker was gay had been floated—and largely ignored—at the start of the Prop 8 hearing, Walker confirmed, following his retirement, that he was in a committed relationship with another man. He added at the time that he never considered that a reason to recuse himself from the case.

Continue reading at:  http://www.slate.com/id/2296862?wpisrc=newsletter_tis

Warning: extreme weather ahead

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/13/extreme-weather-flooding-droughts-fires

Tornados, wildfires, droughts and floods were once seen as freak conditions. But the environmental disasters now striking the world are shocking signs of ‘global weirding’

John Vidalguardian.co.uk, Monday 13 June 2011

Drought zones have been declared across much of England and Wales, yet Scotland has just registered its wettest-ever May. The warmest British spring in 100 years followed one of the coldest UK winters in 300 years. June in London has been colder than March. February was warm enough to strip on Snowdon, but last Saturday it snowed there.

Welcome to the climate rollercoaster, or what is being coined the “new normal” of weather. What was, until quite recently, predictable, temperate, mild and equable British weather, guaranteed to be warmish and wettish, ensuring green lawns in August, now sees the seasons reversed and temperature and rainfall records broken almost every year. When Kent receives as much rain (4mm) in May as Timbuktu, Manchester has more sunshine than Marbella, and soils in southern England are drier than those in Egypt, something is happening.

Sober government scientists at the centre for hydrology and ecology are openly using words like “remarkable”, “unprecedented” and “shocking” to describe the recent physical state of Britain this year, but the extremes we are experiencing in 2011 are nothing to the scale of what has been taking place elsewhere recently.

Last year, more than 2m sq km of eastern Europe and Russia scorched. An extra 50,000 people died as temperatures stayed more than 6C above normal for many weeks, crops were devastated and hunderds of giant wild fires broke out. The price of wheat and other foods rose as two thirds of the continent experienced its hottest summer in around 500 years.

This year, it’s western Europe’s turn for a mega-heatwave, with 16 countries, including France, Switzerland and Germany (and Britain on the periphery), experiencing extreme dryness. The blame is being out on El Niño and La Niña, naturally occurring but poorly understood events that follow heating and cooling of the Pacific ocean near the equator, bringing floods and droughts.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jun/13/extreme-weather-flooding-droughts-fires

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Italy’s Voters Scrap Nuclear Energy!

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/06/13-5

by Tina Gerhardt 
Published on Monday, June 13, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

BERLIN, Germany – As polls closed today in Italy, voters had turned out in droves to scrap nuclear energy and water privatization.

Thus far, the 50% hurdle required for the voter turnout to count had been cleared. The latest count put the quorum at 57%.

Polling stations closed at Monday at 3:00 pm and elections results are anticipated by the end of the day.

Nuclear energy was one of four items on the ballot: the others include water privatization (two questions); and whether or not government officials must appear in court when they face criminal trials.

Following the Chernobyl disaster in 1987, Italy decided to shut down its four nuclear power plants. The last operating plant closed in 1990. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi reversed this decision in 2008.

After the Fukushima disaster, Berlusconi announced a one-year moratorium on his plans for new nuclear power plants. Yet he intended to rekindle Italy’s nuclear energy program in 2014.

The outcome of this weekend’s referendum sends a further crushing message to Berlusconi, who most recently lost heavily in regional elections in late May.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/06/13-5

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FBI Agent’s Accidental Document Dump—and Uncle Sam’s Fear of Antiwar Activists

From In These Times: http://www.theittlist.com/ittlist/ind/6001/fbi_agents_accidental_document_dump_underscores_fear_of_antiwar_activists/

posted by Candice Bernd
June 10, 2011

Once in a while, the federal government’s veil of secrecy is pulled back to reveal the inner-workings of the Pentagon or another department or agency. Usually a whistleblower does the pulling—think Daniel Ellsberg or Bradley Manning. But once in a long while, a federal employee accidentally exposes what the government is thinking.

That’s exactly what an FBI agent did last September while raiding the home of antiwar activists Mick Kelly and Linden Gawboy in Minneapolis. The couple’s home was one of more than half a dozen raided by scores of agents that day as part of a grand jury investigation into U.S. activists’ alleged “material support” for terrorist organizations. (See “Terrorist By Association,” our December 2010 cover story.)

On May 18, The Committee to Stop FBI Repression, organized by those targeted by the late September raids, released five secret documents the FBI left behind in Kelly and Gawboy’s home. They include the raid operation order, Kelly’s subpoena, photos of the outside of the residence, a list of items seized from the residence and a list of interrogation questions.

Kelly said the FBI emptied all of the couple’s filing cabinets on September 24. Filing folders were scattered throughout their apartment. After the FBI took the files they wanted, their own files became mixed in during the refilling process. Gawboy found the FBI documents on April 30 in a filing cabinet.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theittlist.com/ittlist/ind/6001/fbi_agents_accidental_document_dump_underscores_fear_of_antiwar_activists/

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