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NEWS -- 2010.09.09.Thursday

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  • James Martin
    1) Top US commander: Burning Quran endangers troops 2) Even pastor s old church condemns Quran-burning 3) A Niche of the Unreal in a World of Credulity 4)
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 9, 2010
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      1) Top US commander: Burning Quran endangers troops
      2) Even pastor's old church condemns Quran-burning
      3) A Niche of the Unreal in a World of Credulity
      4) Right Wing Round-Up
      5) Tom Tomorrow
      6) Add Values to Rights to Achieve Marriage Equality
      7) Net Neutrality: Debate Builds Ahead of Midterm Elections
      8) Tar balls coat Indian beaches after ship dumps oil
      9) The Beck Church
      10) My name is Glenn Beck, and I need help

      11) Glenn Beck rally sparks debate over crowd size
      12) Glenn Beck's anti-gay army of God
      13) Palin-Beck 2012

      Phone message received from a friend who has seen the Light, and now makes delicious, biting observations ---

      Jay, I just want to affirm Christ's holy principle that only a human being with a penis can stand before the altar in the holy Catholic church and stand for Jesus and make that bread and wine turn into his blessed body and blood. Thank God we have penises and not viginas. Amen.

      My comment ---

      *** That about sums up the male chauvinistic pig arrogance and bigotry from Rome. ***

      In all of this, remember that rightwingers will not listen to anything that questions their beliefs.
      That applies to all rightwingers -- Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, whatever.


      Top US commander: Burning Quran endangers troops
      By Kimberly Dozier, Associated Press Writer
      Tuesday 07 September 2010

      KABUL, Afghanistan - The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan warned Tuesday an American church's threat to burn copies of the Muslim holy book could endanger U.S. troops in the country and Americans worldwide.

      Meanwhile, NATO reported the death of an American service member in an insurgent attack in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday.

      The comments from Gen. David Petraeus followed a protest Monday by hundreds of Afghans over the plans by Gainesville, Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center - a small, evangelical Christian church that espouses anti-Islam philosophy - to burn copies of the Quran on church grounds to mark the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States that provoked the Afghan war.

      "Images of the burning of a Quran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan - and around the world - to inflame public opinion and incite violence," Petraeus said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

      Muslims consider the Quran to be the word of God and insist it be treated with the utmost respect, along with any printed material containing its verses or the name of Allah or the Prophet Muhammad. Any intentional damage or show of disrespect to the Quran is deeply offensive.

      In 2005, 15 people died and scores were wounded in riots in Afghanistan sparked by a story in Newsweek magazine alleging interrogators at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay placed copies of the Quran in washrooms and flushed one down the toilet to get inmates to talk. Newsweek later retracted the story.

      Responding to Petraeus' comments, Dove World Outreach Center's senior pastor Terry Jones acknowledged the Quran burning would be regarded as offensive and said the church was taking the general's words "very, very serious."

      "We are definitely weighing the situation," Jones told CNN. "We are weighing the thing that we are about to do, what it could possibly cause, what is our actual message, what are we trying to get across. It's very, very important that America wakes up."

      The church, which made headlines last year after distributing T-shirts that said "Islam is of the Devil," has been denied a permit to set a bonfire but has vowed to proceed with the burning. The congregation's website estimates it has about 50 members, but the church has leveraged the Internet with a Facebook page and blog devoted to its Quran-burning plans.

      The American's death brings to at least six the number of U.S. forces killed in Afghanistan this month, along with at least four other non-American members of the international coalition.

      Engagements with insurgents are rising along with the addition of another 30,000 U.S. troops, bringing the total number of international forces in the country to more than 140,000.

      At least 322 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan so far this year, exceeding the previous annual record of 304 for all of 2009, according to an AP count.

      Petraeus is asking for 2,000 more trainers and field troops for the international force, NATO officials said Monday. It was unclear how many would be Americans.

      Also Tuesday, authorities confirmed the ambush killing of a district chief by suspected insurgents in the northern province of Baghlan on Monday afternoon. Nahrin district chief Rahmad Sror Joshan Pool was on his way home after a memorial service for slain anti-Soviet guerrilla leader Ahmad Shah Massoud when rocket-propelled grenades hit his vehicle, setting it on fire, said provincial spokesman Mahmood Haqmal.

      Pool's bodyguard was also killed in the attack, and one militant died and two were wounded in the ensuing fire fight with police, Haqmal said.

      Five children were killed and five wounded in Yaya Khil district in the southern province of Paktika when an insurgent rocket fired at an Afghan army base hit a home Monday evening, provincial government spokesman Mokhlais Afghan said.

      Kidnappers also seized two electoral workers and their two drivers in the western province of Ghor, according to deputy provincial police chief Ahmad Khan Bashir.

      Insurgents have waged a campaign of violence and intimidation to prevent Afghans from voting, especially in rural areas, while some pre-election violence has also been blamed on rivalries among the candidates.


      Associated Press writers Slobodan Lekic in Brussels, Travis Reed in Miami, and Amir Shah in Kabul contributed to this report.


      My comment ---
      They see no irony in the name of their "church" -- Dove World.

      In addition, Southern Baptists are becoming "centers" rather than "churches".


      Even pastor's old church condemns Quran-burning
      By Liz Goodwin
      Wed Sep 8 2010, 12:14 pm ET

      It's increasingly looking as though the only spiritual or political figure who will not denounce Florida pastor Terry Jones' plan to commemorate Sept. 11 by burning copies of the Quran is Jones himself. Wednesday brings the news that even the church Jones founded in Germany in the 1980s is condemning the upcoming Quran-burning at his small place of worship in Gainesville, Fla.
      "We are surprised and shocked at the extreme radicalism being displayed [by Jones] right now on this issue," Stephan Baar of the Christian Community of Cologne told the Associated Press. The 60-member church kicked out Jones in 2008. Jones' estranged daughter says the eviction arose from her father's reported penchant for dipping into the church's till to pay his own expenses.

      Jones' wish to burn hundreds of copies of the Islamic holy book has drawn a wide chorus of protests. Gen. David Petraeus said on Monday the action could hurt U.S. troops, while hundreds of Afghans protested in Kabul and burned Jones in effigy. The Gainesville Fire Department has denied Jones a permit for the event -- but the pastor says he plans to go ahead with it anyway.

      Indeed, so many high-profile people have spoken out against the plan that they may now outnumber the fringe church's 50-member congregation, raising the question of whether the condemnations are magnifying the cause of a very small group of extremists.

      Here's a partial list of people who have condemned the planned bonfire:

      a.. "It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort," top commander in Afghanistan Gen. David Petraeus told the media. "It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems.
      a.. As "an act of patriotism," the media should not cover the burning, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said. She also said, "It's regrettable that a pastor in Gainesville, Florida, with a church of no more than 50 people can make this outrageous and distressful, disgraceful plan, and get the world's attention":
      The terrorist attacks of 9/11, says the Vatican, "cannot be counteracted by an outrageous and grave gesture against a book considered sacred by a religious community."
      a.. Attorney General Eric Holder called the plan "idiotic and dangerous."
      b.. Presumed presidential candidate Mitt Romney told Politico
      "Burning the Quran is wrong on every level. It puts troops in danger, and it violates a founding principle of our republic."
      [Photos: Quran-burning debate]

      a.. "I do not think well of the idea of burning anybody's Koran, Bible, Book of Mormon or anything else," Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour told reporters. "I don't think there is any excuse for it. I don't think it's a good idea."
      a.. "Any type of activity like that that puts our troops in harm's way would be a concern," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Tuesday.
      a.. "I appeal to people who are planning to burn the Quran to reconsider and drop their plans because they are inconsistent with American values and, as General Petraeus has warned, threatening to America's military," Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman said in a statement.
      [Related: Who is Terry Jones?]

      a.. House Minority Leader John Boehner spoke out against the event, comparing it to the planned Islamic center near Ground Zero. "Well, listen, I just think it's not wise to do this in the face of what our country represents. ... Just because you have the right to do something in America, doesn't mean it's the right thing to do."
      a.. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called it "boneheaded and wrong" but said the protesters are protected by the First Amendment. "He has a right to do it," he said.
      a.. Actress Angelina Jolie spoke out against the plan while visiting Pakistan to raise awareness about the devastating floods. "I have hardly the words that somebody would do that to somebody's religious book," she said:
      --- click on URL to see the video ---


      My comment ---
      You don't hear very many Southern Baptists speaking out against this burning of Korans. I wonder why.


      My comment ---
      The "Tea Party" are quacking about how it is the economy that is important now, not social issues.

      They sure do know how to lie and bear false witness. They are not about to forget social issues -- "no" to every one of them continues strong and silent.



      September 3, 2010
      A Niche of the Unreal in a World of Credulity
      Since 2008, ChristWire.org has emerged as the leading Internet site for ultraconservative Christian news, commentary and weather reportage.

      "Hurricane Earl Projected Path, Gay East Coast of America," ChristWire opined on Monday. One headline in late August proclaimed, "Warning! Black Music Infiltrates the Minds of Future Homemaking White Women." Last week, referring to Ken Mehlman, the former Republican Party chairman who came out of the closet last month, ChristWire asked, "Why does Ken Mehlman think that choosing the homosexual lifestyle is more important to him than the Republican values he once held so dear?"

      ChristWire has lately reached new levels of popularity, in part thanks to an Aug. 14 column, "Is My Husband Gay?" Written by Stephenson Billings, the piece is a 15-point checklist to help wives detect possibly closeted husbands. "Gym membership but no interest in sports" is one warning sign. So is "Sassy, sarcastic and ironic around his friends" and "Love of pop culture."

      "Is My Husband Gay?" was picked up on The Huffington Post and mentioned by Ryan Seacrest on his radio show; so far it has been viewed 8.3 million times.

      Oh, by the way: ChristWire is all one big joke.

      Not the readership - which hit a high of 27 million page views in August - but the content, the opinions and the fake authors who write the stuff. (There is no "Stephenson Billings.") Neither of the two founders is a conservative Christian. They are just like-minded 28-year-olds who met on the Internet, have never seen each other in person, and until this week had never given their real identities to a reporter.

      Bryan Butvidas is a software developer who works out of his house in Southern California. Kirwin Watson is a former Pepperdine student who moved back home to Kansas, where he now works "on the patient-care staff" of a local hospital. According to phone interviews with both men, they met online in 2005, when both were contributing to the news aggregator Shoutwire.com.

      They are fuzzy on the dates, but soon - "maybe it was 2007," Mr. Butvidas offers - they were posting collaborative humor pieces on the Web. Mr. Butvidas bought the ChristWire.org domain name, and the partners began to conceive the Web site that exists today, something like what The Onion would be if the writers cared mainly about God, gay people and how both influence the weather.

      "The first real post that we let stay up," Mr. Butvidas said, "was 'Gays Raising Stink Over Rick Warren Prayer at Socialist Obama's Inauguration,' and that is dated Dec. 31, 2008."

      Today, the expanded editorial staff, who all work free, includes "six to eight other monitors, who keep an eye on things," said Mr. Watson, "and 20 to 30 other regular writers." Mr. Watson usually writes the pieces signed "Jack Gould." Mr. Butvidas typically writes the pieces by "Tyson Bowers III," whom you may know from Wednesday's article, "Gays Now Using Santa to Entice Man Boy Love Relations."

      One of ChristWire's most prolific contributors, the author of "Is My Husband Gay?" remains mysterious even to his editors. [ http://christwire.org/2010/08/is-my-husband-gay/ ]

      "The kicker is we don't know who 'Stephenson Billings' is," Mr. Butvidas said. "He has been writing for us about a year. We get thousands of e-mails a week about his stuff. All we know is he is from New York City, and everything he touches turns to gold."

      Neither Mr. Watson nor Mr. Butvidas is a crusading atheist. Mr. Watson calls himself "an observant Catholic," and Mr. Butvidas is a nondenominational Protestant who is "religious for the most part." Their target, they say, is not Christians but those who do not question what they hear on the news.

      "There's just rampant idiocy in the media sometimes," Mr. Watson said. "People watch their favorite news channels, don't question it and will regurgitate it the next day at the office. That is no good at all."

      "Our main culprit," he adds, "is Fox News."

      A close reader of ChristWire will soon figure out (one hopes) that the site is not serious. But many of the columns are deft enough, just plausible enough, to fool the casual reader. Even - or perhaps especially - a reader whose beliefs are being mocked.

      Marie Jon, who writes for the quite earnest conservative site RenewAmerica.com, used to allow her stories to be reposted to ChristWire. After I called her for this column, her editor at RenewAmerica wrote a letter to ChristWire asking that Ms. Jon's writing - and her picture, which had run between photographs of men identified as "Jack Gould" and "S. Billings" - be removed.

      Later, in another telephone interview, Ms. Jon explained why she had allowed the satirical site to use her words.

      "I thought if somebody comes and stumbles upon my article and reads something that is actually the truth, maybe they will get a blessing from it," she said.

      I asked her if she knew the site was satirical, and she indicated that she had not really paid attention. "I might have mistakenly contributed in the past," she said, "because I didn't know the site, and then shrugged my shoulders because I didn't know how popular they were."

      Ms. Jon should take heart: she is in good company. As John Hudson reported on The Atlantic Wire, a Web site associated with the magazine, Katla McGlynn, a comedy blogger for The Huffington Post, initially bought "Is My Husband Gay?"

      On Aug. 19, she posted a takedown of Mr. Billings's piece, arguing, for example, that wearing tight clothes is not necessarily a sign of homosexuality. "It's 2010," Ms. McGlynn wrote. "You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn't own skinny jeans or check themselves out occasionally."

      Ms. McGlynn quickly rewrote her post, without indicating that the new post was a corrected version of an old one. The post now says of the ChristWire piece, "We're not sure if this is satire or not." When I tried to find out how Ms. McGlynn (tentatively) changed her mind, Mario Ruiz, a spokesman for The Huffington Post, wrote in an e-mail, "We did get hoodwinked."

      Later, on the telephone, he said Ms. McGlynn would not answer questions.

      Mr. Butvidas says numerous news outlets, like The Washington Post, New York magazine and The Onion, have tried to uncover the identities of the men behind ChristWire. "We don't even reply to them," he says.

      Now, Mr. and Mr. ChristWire have decided to give up their anonymity. We can only hope that public exposure does not undermine their project, eloquently summarized by Mr. Butvidas: "Let's write stuff to expose how stupid people are."

      E-mail: Mark.Oppenheimer@...;


      My comment ---
      That's one of the few intelligent statements I've heard lately.


      Right Wing Round-Up
      By Kyle
      Created Sep 3 2010 - 2:47pm
      a.. PFAW [1]: People For the American Way Congratulates Dolores Huerta on Attacks from Glenn Beck.

      b.. Evan Hurst @ Truth Wins Out [2]: Christian Polling Company: Millenials Strongly Support Marriage Equality.

      c.. Chris Rodda @ Talk To Action [3]: Beck Goes After HuffPost By Showing Off Rally Attendee's Fake Washington Quote T-Shirt.

      d.. Stephanie Mencimer @ Mother Jones [4]: Beck Admits to Lie About Archives Visit.

      e.. Media Matters [5]: Beck has plans for "traveling stage show" based on "Glenn Beck's Divine Destiny" event.

      f.. Finally, the New York Times profiles Christwire [6], the satire site so good it even fools the Religious Right.

      Source URL: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/right-wing-round-341
      [1] http://www.pfaw.org/press-releases/2010/09/people-for-the-american-way-congratulates-dolores-huerta-attacks-from-glenn-b
      [2] http://www.truthwinsout.org/blog/2010/09/10965/
      [3] http://www.talk2action.org/story/2010/9/2/174921/6526
      [4] http://motherjones.com/mojo/2010/09/beck-admits-lie-about-archives-visit
      [5] http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/201009030019
      [6] http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/04/us/04beliefs.html




      Rev. Dr. Janet Edwards
      Presbyterian minister; co-moderator, More Light Presbyterians

      Posted: August 30, 2010 08:54 PM
      Add Values to Rights to Achieve Marriage Equality
      What is marriage?

      From a legal standpoint, Federal District Court Judge Vaughn Walker's decision repealing Proposition 8 and reinstating equal marriage rights in California could not be clearer: Civil marriage with the person of one's choice is an established right under the law. All citizens, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, have equal access to that right and equal protection under that law. Period.

      However, we have learned from hard experience that establishing equality under the law does not necessarily translate into acceptance in American life.

      What truly will establish marriage equality is widespread recognition of the common values held by most Americans that provide the moral foundation for marriage in our society. Most Americans -- 77 percent -- profess to be Christian in their faith. It is time for Christians, far and wide, to speak out from our faith as clearly as Judge Walker has from the perspective of the law.

      This is exactly what Rev. Janie Spahr, Honorably Retired Presbyterian Minister, is doing this week in Napa, CA. Rev. Spahr is being tried by her church for presiding at the weddings of same-gender couples in the summer of 2008, when these marriages were legally recognized by the state of California. The question at hand is what marriage means in the church.

      The wedding service in the Presbyterian Church (USA) Book of Common Worship highlights the fundamental qualities of marriage: to be loving and faithful in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live. The rings are exchanged "as a sign of our covenant in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."

      But this vision of marriage, so familiar to us now, is not the historic Biblical model. From start to finish, the Biblical norm for human marriage is patriarchal dominance by the husband/father -- a far cry from the mutual love between equals that most American Christians value in marriage. The idea of mutual love emerges in Scripture in the image of marriage used to describe the loving relationship between God and God's people (Hosea 1-3:5, Ephesians 5:22-25, Revelation 21:2-3).

      This Biblical association between God's covenant and marriage picked up speed during the Reformation, inspiring a transformation of marriage in which the equality of the partners as children of God dislodged the hierarchy and set the stage for how we view marriage today.

      Christians today accept that Scripture and church history teach that the heart of marriage is the love and commitment between the partners, just as it is the heart of the relationship between God in Christ and each of us.

      Rev. Spahr's trial gives us all the opportunity to see that two men or two women, in their profound love and commitment for one another, can exemplify all the qualities we cherish in marriage. For example, Kathryn Mudie and Susan McDaniel have been together 22 years. Kathryn is now retired after 33 years as a registered nurse and Susan works as a physical therapy assistant in a skilled nursing facility. During their years as a couple, they have taken care of all four of their aging parents, each of whom received healthy and loving care.

      Then there is Jane Elizabeth, a high school language teacher, and Beth Buckingham-Brown, an ordained Presbyterian minister who also serves on the board of a nonprofit organization that is improving the lives of AIDS orphans. The list of these wonderful couples married by Rev. Spahr goes on and on.

      Through Rev. Spahr's trial we have a window onto the lives of many of the couples she married and the way their marriages arise from their faith in God. Their strong marriages sustain their families and their significant service in the world.

      So ask yourself, what do you value most about your own marriage, and why?

      My view of marriage as a covenant between two people -- including between two men or two women -- arises from my Christian faith. My tradition teaches that, at its core, marriage is about mutual love and committed relationship. It is about caring for family and community, and growing together as individuals and as a couple.

      When gay and lesbian couples, like those who will testify this week at Rev. Spahr's trial, find the courage to come out to their community of faith and testify to the sacredness of their relationship with God and one another, they remind us all how much we have in common.

      And once we have heard their stories, we as Christians have a responsibility to speak out in our own communities and congregations and remind one another every day what's most important in marriage: the sacred covenant between two people that mirrors our relationship with God.

      When we focus on shared values, rooted in our faith, more Americans will support marriage equality. And, as a nation, we will join in what God is already doing--rejoicing when two men or two women who love and cherish each other are wed in holy matrimony.




      Net Neutrality: Debate Builds Ahead of Midterm Elections
      By ALEX ALTMAN / WASHINGTON Alex Altman / Washington Wed Sep 8, 11:30 am ET

      On a Thursday night in August, some 750 people crammed into a high school auditorium in Minneapolis to discuss the future of the Internet. Most of them went to beseech members of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to act to protect Internet neutrality, the premise that all data on the Web should be treated equally. During the three-hour forum, organized by the pro-Net-neutrality coalition Save the Internet, an array of speakers warned that without safeguards in place, corporate behemoths would cut lucrative deals to prioritize some kinds of content and throttle others, turning themselves into the unofficial gatekeepers of the world's best leveling force. Net neutrality, said Senator Al Franken, is "the First Amendment issue of our time."
      In the weeks since Google and Verizon published a controversial proposal on the issue, Net neutrality has become the newest front in an ideological war waged by the pricey lobbyists, paid spokesmen, partisan media outlets and Washington ward bosses who feast on fractiousness. Relying on a now familiar playbook, a tableau of conservative interest groups has used the specter of a so-called government takeover of the Internet to mobilize Tea Party organizations. Liberal counterparts warn that corporate bigwigs are trying to cement their control of the Web at your expense. Their sparring has transformed a technical debate about the architecture of the Web into one of the pivotal issues in this fall's midterm elections. "Net neutrality has become a proxy fight for who you hate more - big corporations or big government," says Larry Downes, a nonresident fellow at Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society. "It works very nicely for that pointless, unending argument. The antigovernment people say [FCC regulation would be] a takeover of the Internet. Anticorporate people say a deal between Google and Verizon would ruin the Internet. And they're both wrong." (See "Is the Google-Verizon Plan Bad for Net Neutrality?")

      When you boot up your browser, any website you want to visit is allowed to load at the same speed. That's because Internet service providers have so far (with a few exceptions) hewed to the principles of Net neutrality, which prevent them from favoring some kinds of content over others. But as demand for broadband grows and mobile devices like the iPhone and Blackberry become ubiquitous, telecommunications giants like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T - who have spent hundreds of billions of dollars laying the pipes through which data travels to your computer - are eager to refine their business models. One way they could do this is by ditching flat-rate access fees and installing virtual tollbooths that would let customers pay for access to faster speeds or subscription content, much as cable providers ask you to fork over extra for channels like HBO. In a recent Economist Intelligence Unit survey, 55% of mobile executives said developing tiered pricing models was the way forward in mature markets.

      Advocates also warn that if Net neutrality rules aren't codified, service providers could strike pacts to prioritize certain types of data at the expense of others. For example, Comcast could theoretically agree to accelerate streaming video footage for one network's television programs, putting that channel's competitor at a disadvantage. The Google-Verizon framework opens the door to prioritization on wireless networks and carves out loopholes for traditional, wired connection. For Internet users, the upshot could be higher costs - particularly because they will be less insulated by competition as demand for broadband increases, says Susan Crawford, a former White House technology adviser and professor at Cardozo School of Law. The FCC's National Broadband Plan predicts that soon just 15% of the U.S. will be able to choose between top-speed carriers. "This is the arms merchants of the Internet making a deal that furthers their own business interests," Crawford says. (See the 50 best websites of 2010.)

      Net-neutrality advocates argue that the best way to keep the Internet free and open is for the FCC to assert its authority to regulate broadband, a process known as reclassification. Last month, a conservative coalition - free-market think tanks, antitax and antiregulation interest groups, Tea Party leaders and an array of GOP legislators - banded together to stanch the threat of FCC action. On Aug. 11, they sent a letter blasting the FCC for "relentlessly pursuing a massive regulatory regime." The missive, written by Kelly Cobb, government-affairs manager for Americans for Tax Reform, argued it could usher in additional taxes for consumers and companies, open the door to price-setting, curb free speech, slow Web-surfing speeds and dampen private investment. "Managing traffic online, which is what Net neutrality would eliminate, is actually a very good thing," he says. "It equalizes everybody's access to the Internet by ensuring the on ramp isn't congested." One of the damning adages about Net neutrality, oft repeated among opponents, is that it is "a solution in search of a problem."

      Read "Google, Verizon and the FCC: Inside the War Over the Internet's Future."

      See "The Fight Over Net Neutrality Goes to the Inner City."

      This argument resonates with Tea Party leaders, who are leery of government regulation. But in some cases their passion for the topic runs deeper than their knowledge of it. "The Internet is beautiful," says Honey Marques, one of the Tea Party leaders to sign the Aug. 11 letter. To her, Net neutrality is "about the government trying to control and regulate our free speech and control everything that's happening in our lives." Lisa Miller, a Washington-area Tea Party leader, says Net neutrality is the government's attempt to control "who should get access to the Internet and at what price." When asked why, she declined to comment further because she didn't have the letter she had signed to refer to at that moment.

      "Nobody called them on the phone and said, Hey, you should really get involved on this," says Cobb. "[But] in the past couple of months this has come up as a big issue for them because they view it as the government getting involved when it doesn't need to." By framing Net neutrality as more government meddling - as Glenn Beck did last fall, when he called it a "Marxist" ploy that would put a "boot on the throat" of taxpayers - conservative groups have carved out an effective wedge issue. "Net neutrality is not a political question," says Stanford's Downes. "It's a technical question. Neither [side] really gives a damn about Net neutrality. They both are pursuing other agendas and this is a convenient thing to hang it on." (See a primer on Net neutrality.)

      "We've definitely made it one of the major issues for our folks," says Phil Kerpen, vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a conservative advocacy group based in northern Virginia. "If we can't protect the communications system in our country from regulation, it prevents us from getting our message out on all these other public-policy fights." Since the start of the Obama Administration, AFP has fought to foment opposition to the Democratic agenda - organizing rallies to protest the stimulus package, mounting a campaign to cast doubt on the soundness of climate-change science and funneling health care talking points to the Tea Party, who lend an aura of grass-roots authenticity to the anti-Obama cohort. In May, AFP spent $1.4 million on a television ad that painted the Internet as the next domino to topple in a cascading series of "government takeovers." The group plans to make Internet regulation one of the four pillars of its fall messaging campaign, along with government spending, health care reform and cap and trade. (Comment on this story.)

      Opponents of Net neutrality, says Joel Kelsey, political adviser for the liberal advocacy group Free Press, "fall into two buckets. Some are genuine Astroturf groups who echo industry talking points with a veneer of public interest, even though they're funded by company money. Then there's the very real conservative philosophical opposition." AFP declined to say whether it received funding from telecom companies, citing a policy of protecting donors' privacy. But as a nonprofit organization devoted to enhancing free-market opportunities, AFP has cemented its stature - and perhaps endeared itself to donors - by stirring fears that Obama is driving a socialist agenda.

      See the top 10 technology bans.

      See pictures of Barack Obama's nation of hope.

      Conservative groups like AFP say the proper venue for a debate about the Internet's rules of the road is not the FCC but Congress. That may seem odd, given that conservative groups have been virulent in their criticism of the body. But they may be calculating that many lawmakers are unwilling to bite the hand that feeds them. Comcast has forked over $6.9 million in lobbying in 2010, while Verizon spent $4.4 million in the second quarter alone. AT&T has doled out more in political donations than any other company during the past 20 years, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. While the GOP has spearheaded the antiregulatory drive, Democrats have been big beneficiaries of the telecom industry's largesse. In May, a coalition of 74 House Democrats urged FCC chairman Julius Genachowski not to regulate broadband, which they argued would "jeopardize jobs." Of that group, 58 had received substantial contributions from broadband service providers, according to a New York Times analysis. A 2009 Net-neutrality bill stagnated, and Senator John Kerry, chairman of the communications subcommittee, has argued that any effort to codify a situation shrouded in uncertainty would almost certainly languish in this balkanized Congress.

      Meanwhile, Net-neutrality advocates have seen their alliances frayed by overheated rhetoric. In late August, Gun Owners of America, a Second Amendment lobbying group that had been a part of the coalition since 2006, severed ties with the Save the Internet coalition to dissociate itself from groups pushing FCC regulation. Craig Fields, director of Internet operations for Gun Owners of America, says the spotlight conservative media outlets have trained on the issue had no bearing on the decision. "The tail did not wag the dog," Fields says. But, he acknowledges, "It's fair to say that at times we've had difficulty explaining to our people, who are conservatives and libertarians and tend to have a free-market approach, that we are not in bed with George Soros and MoveOn.org." In a season when political argumentation can resemble a game of Mad Libs played with a few incendiary nouns, picking enemies can be as important as picking issues.

      When the fight over Net neutrality arrived in Minneapolis, Zach Segner, 25, showed up for the same reason as everyone else: to protect the Web. But his notion of how to accomplish that task was vastly different from that of most attendees. Thin and unshaven, Segner wore a black "End the Fed" T-shirt and unfurled a tattered bedsheet spray-painted with the dictum "Hands Off Our Internet." "The Internet's working fine right now," he said. He acknowledged he didn't grasp the fine points of Net neutrality, but said he cares deeply about an open Internet and is leery of the government wresting control away from businesses to usher in a "Chinese-style system." In some ways, his ideals seemed to align with those of FCC commissioner Michael Copps. "The Internet was born on openness, flourished on openness and depends on openness for its continued success," Copps told the crowd. "I suppose you can't blame companies for seeking to protect their own interests. But you can blame policymakers if we let them get away with it."

      And yet, even if Net neutrality is - as Al Franken said - the First Amendment issue of our time, for now the FCC seems bent on minimizing its explosiveness. On Sept. 1, the agency announced it would extend the public comment period to solicit further debate on the topic - nudging the deadline for action past November's midterm elections.

      - With reporting by Justin Horwath / Minneapolis

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      Tar balls coat Indian beaches after ship dumps oil
      By Mayabhushan Nagvenkar, Associated Press Writer
      Wed Sep 1 2010, 6:24 am ET

      PANAJI, India - Wave after wave of tar balls floated ashore Wednesday on the renowned Goa beaches after a ship dumped tons of waste oil off India's western coast, officials said.

      Semisolid lumps of oil formed layers up to six inches deep (15 centimeters deep) on beaches in the popular tourist destination. Scores of civic workers used brooms to collect and clear the oily debris, but still more tar balls were washing ashore about three days after officials believe a ship dumped burnt oil at sea.

      Indian navy and coast guard vessels were trying to trace the ship, said Aleixo Sequeira, the state's environment minister. He declined to say what action would be taken when the vessel is found.

      Ships regularly clean their fuel tanks and discharge the waste oil at sea, but this case involved careless dumping that exceeded all proportions, say scientists at India's National Institute of Oceanography, located in Goa.

      "Crude oil mixes with water to form an emulsion that looks like chocolate pudding. Winds and waves continue to stretch and tear the oil patches into smaller pieces, or tar balls," said S. R. Shetye, who heads the institute.

      Popular beaches such as Colva, Candolim and Calangute were badly hit. The beaches are not closed, but few visitors are there since tourism season begins in October.

      Goa's tourism industry is worried that news of the pollution could put off visitors to one of the most sought after and cheap beach destinations in India. Nearly 2.5 million tourists visit annually, including half a million foreigners, mostly from the U.K., Israel and Russia.

      "This should not have happened. It will not be good for tourism in Goa," said Gaurish Dhond, president of the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa.

      The tourist season in Goa lasts until March.


      Washington Post: The Beck Church
      In Uncategorized on September 2, 2010 at 6:43 am

      By Ruth Marcus
      Wednesday, September 1, 2010; A17

      I left the Glenn Beck rally worried that I didn't have much of a story.

      It was all revival meeting, no political fireworks. The news reports accurately likened the atmosphere to that of a church picnic - and no reporter wants to write about a church picnic.

      But then I realized: The abundance of religiosity was the news. Beck is offering - and whatever the precise crowd count on Saturday, a whole lot of people seemed to be buying - a new form of fusion politics, melding the anti-government, anti-spending, anti-tax fervor of the Tea Party with the faith-based agenda of the religious right.

      "America today begins to turn back to God," Beck proclaimed. On stage, he had assembled a "Black Robe Regiment" of religious leaders, modeled on a group of colonist-backing pastors during the Revolutionary War.

      For decades, the conservative movement has struggled to manage tensions between fiscal and social conservatives. There is an overlap between the two camps, but the libertarian urges of the fiscal conservatives also tend to rub against the antiabortion and, more recently, anti-gay-rights positions of the social conservatives. The successful Republican politician - Ronald Reagan, most prominently - is the one who manages to minimize that friction and get the two wings to work in unison.

      The Tea Partyers are not synonymous with the Republican Party, but they have reflected the fiscal conservative strain of the GOP. It has not been clear whether, or how, the Tea Party would seek to accommodate the religious aspect of the conservative movement.

      Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally illustrated one potential route. His is not Moral Majority religious conservatism, with opposition to abortion as a litmus test of political bona fides. Indeed, a few weeks back, Beck expressed the heretical view that same-sex marriage was not a threat to the country.

      Rather than fire-and-brimstone, Beck offered up more of a soft-focus religion, divorced from specific points of doctrine. This was new-agey spirituality as self-help, fortified by a hefty dose of patriotism garbed in religious imagery.

      There is every reason to think this is the thinnest veneer of tolerance: Fresh from the rally, Beck was back to dismissing President Obama's religious views. "People aren't recognizing his version of Christianity," Beck told Fox News' Chris Wallace on Sunday. This would be insulting from any leader, but it is particularly audacious coming from Beck, whose own faith - Mormonism - is viewed as a cult by some Christian leaders.

      But among those in Saturday's throng, the linkage between faith and libertarian-leaning politics seemed obvious.

      "We've lost our morality. The country is headed in the wrong direction by removing God from everything," said Bob Erdt, a retired Ford engineer from Michigan, explaining his participation. Then, Erdt shifted seamlessly to the fiscal side. "We're spending way too much money that we don't have," he said. "Anybody with any common sense or honor or morality knows we can't be spending like this and not bringing the country to ruin."

      Asked what had inspired her to fly to the capital from Colorado, Andrea Carrasco started with God and ended with light bulbs.

      She came, Carrasco said, to "ask God to restore the country. Our freedom is lost. My freedoms are lost. To be able to preach anywhere we want, to have God in our schools, to drive any kind of car we want and if I want to drive a gas guzzler, I can, if I want to eat a lot of sugar and salt, and I shouldn't be forced to buy medical care."

      Carrasco paused, but only briefly. "To be able to burn the kind of light bulb I want," she added. "The list goes on."

      It's too early to know whether Beck's bridge between social and fiscal conservatism is sturdy enough to withstand the conflicting pulls. Already there is edginess among traditional leaders of the religious right about Beck's bona fides.

      Another question is whether the linkage between the two wings risks limiting the Tea Party's appeal to independent voters worried about the deficit but at risk of being turned off by overt religiosity or hard-line social conservatism.

      Beck's brand of messianic politics feels creepy to me - but it is clearly compelling to thousands. Make that hundreds of thousands. This was one church picnic worth covering.


      For more Post opinions about Glenn Beck, read Dana Milbank's Civil rights' new 'owner', Kathleen Parker's 12-step Beck, Eugene Robinson's Even Beck can't mar King's legacy, Charles Lane's What Obama doesn't get about Glenn Beck and Ann Telnaes's animation The Glenn Beck show.

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      d.. Glenn Beck Is On Fire (observer.com)
      e.. Beck Wants to Lead, but will Evangelicals Follow? (beliefnet.com)
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      My name is Glenn Beck, and I need help

      By Kathleen Parker
      Wednesday, September 1, 2010; A17

      Despite all the words spilled in evaluating Glenn Beck's tent-less revival last weekend, the real meaning may have been hiding in plain sight.

      Beck's "Restoring Honor" gathering on the Mall was right out of the Alcoholics Anonymous playbook. It was a 12-step program distilled to a few key words, all lifted from a prayer delivered from the Lincoln Memorial: healing, recovery and restoration.

      Saturday's Beckapalooza was yet another step in Beck's own personal journey of recovery. He may as well have greeted the crowd of his fellow disaffected with:

      "Hi. My name is Glenn, and I'm messed up."

      Beck's history of alcoholism and addiction is familiar to any who follow him. He has made no secret of his past and is quick to make fun of himself. As he once said: "You can get rich making fun of me. I know. I've made a lot of money making fun of me."

      Self-mockery -- and cash -- seems to come easily to him.

      Any cursory search of Beck quotes also reveals the language of the addict:

      -- "It is still morning in America. It just happens to be kind of a head-pounding, hung-over, vomiting-for-four-hours kind of morning in America."

      -- "I have not heard people in the Republican Party yet admit that they have a problem."

      -- "You know, we all have our inner demons. I, for one -- I can't speak for you, but I'm on the verge of moral collapse at any time. It can happen by the end of the show."

      Indeed. After the hangover comes admission of the addiction, followed by surrender to a higher power and acknowledgment that one is always fallen.

      These may be random quotes, but they can't be considered isolated or out of context. For Beck, addiction has been a defining part of his life, and recovery is a process inseparable from the Glenn Beck Program. His emotional, public breakdowns are replicated in AA meetings in towns and cities every day.

      Taking others along for the ride, a.k.a. evangelism, is also part of the cure. The healed often cannot remain healed without helping others find their way. Beck, who vaulted from radio host to political-televangelist, now has taken another step in his ascendancy -- to national crusader for faith, hope and charity.

      It's an easy sell. Meanwhile, Beck has built a movement framed by two ideas that are unassailable: God and country. Throw in some Mom and apple pie, and you've got a picnic of patriotism and worship.

      Wait, did somebody say . . . Mom???

      Sister Sarah, come on down!

      Yes, Mother Superior made an appearance. Sarah Palin, whom Beck sainted a few months ago during an interview in which he declared her one of the few people who can save America, came to the Mall not to praise politics but to honor our troops.

      Palin is the mother of a soldier, after all, and God bless her, and him, and all those who have served. Unassailable. As Palin said, whatever else you might say about her, she did raise a combat soldier. "You can't take that away from me."

      Who you? Oh, that's right, The Media. Never mind that Beck is one of the richest members of the media. Or that Palin has banked millions primarily because The Media can't get enough of her. But what's an exorcism without a demon? And who better to cast into the nether regions than the guys lugging camera lights?

      Covering all his bases, Beck invoked the ghost of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who stood in the same spot 47 years ago to deliver his most famous speech. Where King had a dream, Beck has a nightmare: "It seems as darkness begins to grow again, faith is in short supply."

      Really? When did that happen? Because it seems that people talk about God all the time these days. Even during the heyday of Billy Graham, most Americans could get through 16 or so waking hours without feeling compelled to declare where they stood on the deity.

      And the darkness? Creeping communism brought to us by President you-know-who. Conspiracy theories and paranoia are not unfamiliar to those who have wrestled the demon alcohol.

      Like other successful revivalists -- and giving the devil his due -- Beck is right about many things. Tens of thousands joined him in Washington and watch him each night on television for a reason. But he also is messianic and betrays the grandiosity of the addict.

      Let's hope Glenn gets well soon.


      For more Post opinions about Glenn Beck, read Dana Milbank's Civil rights' new 'owner', Ruth Marcus's The church of Beck, Eugene Robinson's Even Beck can't mar King's legacy, Charles Lane's What Obama doesn't get about Glenn Beck and Ann Telnaes's animation The Glenn Beck show.

      View all comments that have been posted about this article.



      Glenn Beck rally sparks debate over crowd size
      By Michael Calderone
      Monday 30 August 2010

      Glenn Beck kicked off Monday's radio show by thanking the many attendees at Saturday's "Restoring Honor" rally in front of the Lincoln Memorial - at least 500,000 by his count. Beck said he's "still waiting on the real number" and plans to look closely during his 5 p.m. Fox News show at photos of the large crowd assembled on the National Mall.
      The rally - which took place on the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King's famous "I Have a Dream" speech at the memorial - drew a good deal of controversy, with civil rights leaders holding a countermarch. But the event largely kept free of overt political references, as Beck (a longtime scourge of the Obama White House) had pledged it would. It stressed religious themes, together with celebrations of noncontroversial virtues such as charity and national service.

      Even though Beck is still tabulating a crowd estimate, it can be expected to be significantly higher than the number CBS News reported over the weekend: 87,000.

      [Video: Thousands come to D.C. for Beck rally]

      CBS commissioned an estimate from AirPhotosLive, a company that provides crowd sizes based on aerial photos. CBS noted that there's a margin of error of plus or minus 9,000. So, by this estimate, there were as few as 78,000 attendees or as many as 96,000.

      Unlike CBS, most news organizations balked at getting that specific (or hiring professionals to make a head count). Some media outlets played it safe with "tens of thousands," a count that's indisputable. Others went with "hundreds of thousands." Perhaps the only thing the media agreed on - including this reporter on hand - is that a very large number of people assembled to hear Beck speak.

      [Related: Google Maps misplaces Lincoln Memorial]

      The media, in years past, would typically cite the National Parks Service estimate, along with the organizer's estimates (which tend to be higher). But the Parks Service stopped providing crowd estimates in 1997 after organizers of the 1995 Million Man March assailed the agency for allegedly undercounting the turnout for that event.

      Click image to see photos of Glenn Beck's 'Restoring Honor' rally

      Beck and other conservative commentators routinely criticize the mainstream media for what they consider unfair coverage of the right. Beck, early on, joked about just getting "word from the media that there is over 1,000 people here today." The conservative crowd ate up the line. A couple hours later, Beck told the audience about media reports of 300,000 to 500,000 people, which he said means the real number is even higher.

      Without official estimates, any numbers published by reputable news organizations - like the 300,000 estimate - quickly got picked up and repeated enough to almost become fact. Domenico Montanaro, an NBC News off-air political reporter, tweeted Saturday that a Parks Service official said there were probably 300,000 to 325,000 in attendance (even though the Parks Service wasn't officially counting). The New York Times cited NBC News' estimate of 300,000, and the Drudge Report amplified the tally even more.

      On Monday, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough repeated 500,000 several times during "Morning Joe." (That's the number organizers of the event gave to The Upshot on Saturday.) Beck said Monday that he didn't think there were a million people there as some have claimed.

      It's doubtful there will be a consensus any time soon. Most likely, Beck fans will cite the organizer's numbers in the half-million-or-more range. Critics might go with CBS's estimate. But those who attended the rally, or who watched it on television, may simply go with their own personal, unscientific estimate rather than the numbers furnished by either media reports or organizers.

      Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann told supporters shortly after the rally that "we're not going to let anyone get away with saying there were less than a million here today - because we were witnesses."


      Know your enemies --->

      Glenn Beck's anti-gay army of God
      September 07, 2010 5:46 am ET - 144 Comments
      As he attempts to rebrand himself as a spiritual leader, Glenn Beck has surrounded himself with religious and secular figures who share a fervent opposition to the "homosexual agenda."


      --- click on URL to read ---


      From: Ben Betz, People For the American Way <alerts@...>

      Date: August 30, 2010 3:17:09 PM PDT

      Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" rally this past Saturday at the Lincoln Memorial, was all about three things:

      1. Finally, and officially, fusing the Religious Right and the Tea Party;

      2. Making the Tea Party seem more palatable to the public as a moderate, commonsense movement - cloaked in the flag, Christianity, the Constitution, our Founders and even Martin Luther King; and, most especially,

      3. Promoting and aggrandizing Beck himself, as well as the other high-profile featured speaker, Sarah Palin.

      As scary as the prospect is of Sarah Palin capturing the Republican nomination for president in 2012, this is clearly what the loudest voices and most ardent activists on the Right have suggested: a Palin-Beck Republican ticket for the White House in 2012.

      Let's help them think of a good slogan nice and early.

      We want you to send us your idea for a Palin-Beck 2012 campaign slogan. We'll pick the best slogans and put them online for everyone to see and vote on their favorites.

      Get started now. The actual would-be Palin-Beck campaign's slogan would probably be, shall we say, a little bit less than candid. Here's your chance to be more accurate in your description about what such a presidential-vice presidential team would bring to this country.

      Have fun with it. In 2008, ideas to apply to the McCain-Palin ticket could have been "Repeal the 20th Century," "4 More Wars!" or "More of the Same" as just a few examples.

      Now, go ahead and have at it. Tell us your best idea for a Palin-Beck 2012 campaign slogan and then make sure you ask others to join the fun and submit their ideas.

      Ben Betz, Online Communications Manager


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