Friday, April 24, 2009

Obama At The Holocaust Museum

Courtesy of JMG:

Yesterday while speaking at the U.S. Holocaust Museum, President Obama mentioned homophobia in a list "hatred that degrades its victim." Obama:
"To this day, there are those who insist the Holocaust never happened - who perpetrate every form of intolerance — racism, antisemitism, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism, and more — hatred that degrades its victim and diminishes us all. Today, and every day we have an opportunity, as well as an obligation to confront these scourges. To fight the impulse to turn the channel when we see images that disturb us, or wrap ourselves in the false comforts that others' sufferings are not our own.

View video here.

The Big Read

In June, ONE and the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) will present a book called The Big Read to President Barack Obama, urging him to keep his promise to ensure children in developing countries have access to basic education through a U.S. contribution of $2 billion to a Global Fund for Education.

The Big Read book includes the stories of people around the world involved in the fight against extreme poverty. Because of the important work ONE members do in advocating for global education, a ONE member's story will be published in The Big Read book—alongside the writings of Nelson Mandela, Queen Rania, Desmond Tutu and other world leaders.

Learn more and send in story for consideration before April 29 click the pic to get the info:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Other Contestants Disagree With Miss CA

Once again - thanks JMG:

Other Contestants Disagree With Miss CA

Miss USA contestants from states where same-sex marriage is legal are speaking out.

Miss Vermont: "Everyone has a right to their own actions. But I totally disagree with Carrie. I have a very different perspective on gay marriage and I would have never said what she said."

Miss Connecticut: "In general, when you're answering a question like that, you have to be politically correct about it. I would've answered differently to help accommodate all beliefs. It's a decision between two individuals, and not just a man and a woman."

Miss Massachusetts: "It's really hard to think that people still think that way. But at the same time, there's a lot of girls in pageants who wear their religion on their sleeve. If that's what she thinks, I give her credit for expressing that, but that's not how I feel. If two people are in a loving relationship, regardless of their sexual orientation, I think they should have equal rights."

Miss Iowa:
"Being from Iowa, I'm proud to say that our state has interpreted the Constitution to say that gays have the right to marry."

And the overlooked winner of the pageant, Miss USA Kristen Dalton, sort of punts on the question: "In short, I would say everyone should be able to enter into a civil union, where they're legally recognized as a couple and earn the same rights as a married couple. I'm not going to say whether or not I think it should be defined as marriage because that's up to our politicans and our elected officials."

Tell Chevron: Fire the lawyer behind Bush torture

Dear Friends,

President Obama says it's up to Attorney General Holder whether to prosecute the individuals responsible for the Bush administration's torture policies. One of the top names on Holder's list should be William J. Haynes II.

As General Counsel for the Pentagon under Donald Rumsfeld, Haynes authored the legal strategy for some of the most heinous torture techniques authorized by Bush - techniques that were, according to the New York Times, "interrogation practices based on illegal tortures devised by Chinese agents during the Korean War."

Haynes left the Pentagon when Rumsfeld did, but instead of going into exile - or better yet, prison - Haynes instead went to a cushy gig as chief corporate counsel for Chevron.

I just took action to tell Chevron CEO David O'Reilly to fire Haynes - I hope you will, too.

Bullied to Death

Courtesy of JMG:

Today the Boston Globe published an editorial titled Bullied To Death in which the paper decries anti-gay bullying and points out how much worse the situation can be for children in the inner-cities.
Relentless bullying, including anti-gay slurs, by students at the New Leadership Charter School in Springfield pushed sixth-grader Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover to take his own life, according to his mother. The quality of interventions by school officials is unclear. But an act so desperate by one so young is a clear reminder of how schools can become torture chambers for students perceived as different.

Massachusetts led the nation in 1993 by crafting an anti-discrimination law for gay and lesbian students. But the law is only as effective as the educators who implement it. And the stakes can be higher in poor, urban districts like Springfield, where nonconformity too often draws aggressive attention. Teachers or administrators who ignore even a single degrading comment in that environment can open the door to a world of pain.
Gay blogger Rod McCullom: "Bullying is much more intense in poor, urban school districts because this is where children (and their "parents") are taught to glorify "thug" culture. So it becomes unfortunately all-too-common in the black community to taunt and harass boys and young men who do not act like thugs. How many more children have to be bullied to death until we learn this wrong?"

Initiative to be Submitted to Voters In California

The following is an article from the March/April 2009 issue of Cal-liope, a newsletter for members of an EDD-related professional organization. See attachments for the actual Initiative and Legislative Analyst’s response.

Initiative to be Submitted to Voters In California

In January 2009 “The McCauley Public Employee Pension Reform Act” was registered with the Secretary of State in California and if passed will change the California Constitution Article 1, Sec. 9 to allow state and local governments and taxing districtsto renegotiate public employee pension contracts, including reducing vested benefits for existing and prospective retirees to enable governments to meet public services needs or to meet long term public investment needs.

The proposed initiative requires the collection of 694,354 signatures by June 22, 2009 to get this initiative on the statewide ballot.

The proposer of this initiative believes that past promises made to public employees for future pension entitlements were excessive at the time and have resulted in excessive financial burdens on taxpayers to pay the promised pensions and to meet funding requirements of existing pension contracts causing an unacceptable level of job loss and unemployment.

What does this mean in simple terms? Retirees and future retirees, i.e., all public employees, may have their retirement plan renegotiated and current and future benefits reduced!

What can you do? Do not sign the petition required to get this on the ballot and encourage your friends and neighbors not to sign the petition. If this initiative should get on the ballot, work to get it defeated. The Secretary of State’s tracking number on this initiative is 1350.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Miss California goes Norm Coleman

Courtesy of Alex Blaise on Bilerico:

"I know that the Religious Right feels that they have a right to do absolutely anything and not have to live through any of the consequences because their definition of "freedom of religion" means freedom for them but not for anyone else."


Monday, April 20, 2009

Increases in the National Debt

Courtesy of JMG:

srael plans to use the plight of gays in Iran as part of their campaign to whip up international condemnation of Tehran's government.
The new campaign, to be overseen by the Foreign Ministry, aims to appeal to people who are less concerned with Iran's nuclear aspirations and more fearful of its human rights abuses and mistreatment of minorities, including the gay and lesbian community. The campaign plans to recruit the international gay community, which Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed in 2007 when he said there were no homosexuals living in his country. The campaign will also reach out to Jewish groups who want to bring more attention to Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial and some members of the Iranian regime's anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist views. About NIS 8 million have already been budgeted for the new campaign, which also includes increased briefings for foreign journalists on the Iranian nuclear program and greater use of the Internet and sites such as YouTube.

4/20 might be the right time to consider legalizing marijuana, but tax revenue will be the reason

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spring Pictures of Sacramento

Courtesy of LivingInUrbanSac

Urgent Appeal by the Baha’is of Shiraz

Urgent Appeal by the Baha’is of Shiraz

Editor’s Note: Iran Press Watch has received the following urgent request from the Baha’is of Shiraz. It is requested that this note be posted in as many other sites as possible.

By the Baha’is of Shiraz

Imprisoned Baha’is in Shiraz are being kept under inhumane conditions. They are held in small cells, in solitary confinement. These cells are about 2.2 meters x 2.2 meters wide, with an open washroom at the corner, and without any sort of windows, openings or ventilation system. Their bedding consists merely of two blankets on the cement prison floor. At present, there are seven Baha’i detained in the city of Shiraz.

Among them, the situation of Haleh Houshamandi-Salehi (arrested March 18, 2009), is the gravest (see She has a heart ailment and her physician has stated that any stress or trauma will have an extremely serious impact on her health. Under the intense psychological and physical pressures of solitary confinement and ongoing interrogations, she developed numbness on the left side of her body to the point that she could not get herself up from the floor. After 22 days in solitary confinement, authorities transferred Halah Ruhi (detained since October 2007), to Haleh’s cell. Although Haleh Houshamandi-Salehi is being given some medication in the prison, she is in urgent need of proper medical care and the attention of a heart specialist. Her family has taken her medical records to the detention centre, hoping for compassion and understanding.

However, in response to her family’s ongoing inquiries into Haleh’s condition, the judiciary investigator recently said: “What happens if one of you dies, one less the better”.

Sooren Salehi

Sooren Salehi

Haleh Houshmadi-Salehi’s 8-year old son, Sooren, traumatized by the raid of his home and the detainment of his mother, often bursts into tears. The mothers of his classmates help their children with their homework, drop them off and pick them up from school, but the authorities have left Sooren without his mother. He says, “I feel like crying, but I try very hard and stop myself. I worry that my classmates will make fun of me”. He often asks when his mother will be home, but no one has any answers to comfort this broken-hearted child.

On April 4, a bail was set by the Prosecutor General of Fars province for the release of four of the prisoners arrested in the last two months. However, the judiciary investigator stated that under no condition would he accept the instructions of the Prosecutor General and allow these Baha’is to be discharged on bail (see,

A few days ago, an arrest order was briefly shown to a Baha’i that was being questioned by Islamic authorities. The arrest order was entitled: Arrest Warrant of all Connected Individuals. This revelation is very alarming as it indicates the authorities’ intentions to use such broad reaching statements to justify numerous arrests. With such a vague and ambiguous warrant, any and all family members of the detained Baha’is can be considered “connected individuals” and any Baha’i can be considered a “connected individual” by virtue of their faith and their common beliefs. Their use of elusive terminology on warrants allows them to detain, question and arrest any individual for any period of time, at will, and without any further justification or clarification.

It is the urgent hope of the detainees’ families that the ongoing atrocities against Baha’is are stopped, and that their loved ones, detained solely because of their beliefs, are released.

Secretary Of Education Arne Duncan Notes Observance Of Day Of Silence

Thanks to JMG for this:

On Friday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan noted the observance of the Day Of Silence and the suicide of 11 year-old Carl Walker-Hoover, who killed himself over anti-gay bullying.
Today, many Americans will honor the Day of Silence called for on behalf of victims of harassment and bullying around issues of sexual orientation, including a recent suicide who would have turned 12 today. On Monday, we will memorialize the Columbine High School victims from a decade ago. Through these painful remembrances, we must all acknowledge our collective role and responsibility in preventing student deaths and ensuring that our schools and universities remain safe havens of learning.
Thank you, Secretary Duncan.

Baha'is and rights groups say Iranian president must address discrimination at home

GENEVA, 19 April (BWNS) - The Baha'i International Community joined two human rights organizations in calling on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to address discrimination in his own country when he speaks this week at the conference known as Durban II.

The statement was issued as a joint news release by the Baha'i International Community, the Iranian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LDDHI) and the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH).

In addition to calling on the Iranian president to address discrimination against ethnic minorities, women and religious minorities, the three organizations also ask him to redress the problem of incitement to hatred.

"Of particular concern is the manner in which the government-controlled news media has vilified adherents of the Baha'i Faith," the statement said, citing the hundreds of articles, radio and television programs, Internet postings and pamphlets containing hate speech that have been disseminated in Iran in recent years.

The Durban Review Conference is being held under the auspices of the United Nations. The purpose is to evaluate progress towards the goals set by the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban, South Africa, in 2001.
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