NEWS -- 2013.04.06.Saturday at rest
- 1) Tuning out the Stereotypes
2) Jon Stewart v. Muslim Brotherhood
3) Bill Maher was in rare form on Jimmy Kimmel Live Tuesday night 02 April
4) Aftershock Survival Summit -- A presentation by Moneynews and Newsmax -- [ rightwing economic stuff ]
5) Monsanto's Dark History
5) Hey Virginia -- Cuccinelli Campaign Won't Say If He's Committed Any Crimes Against Nature
6) Maj. Gen. Ralph Baker of US Africa Command fired over alcohol, sex charges
Virginia Law Weekly
The Newspaper of the University of Virginia School of Law Since 1948
5 April 2013 . Volume 65, Number 20
Tuning out the Stereotypes
By Aurora Heller '15
Last Wednesday, Lambda Law Alliance and the Rex E. Lee Law Society hosted an event entitled "Tuning Out the Stereotype: A conversation with Lambda and Latter-day Saints at UVA Law." The event, a town-hall style discussion, allowed professors and students to share their experiences with other members of the seemingly incompatible groups. The event proposed a "simple conversation to hopefully build some trust" between "two groups that don't often speak to each other, but past each other," as the moderator, Bart Hinkle of the Richmond Times Dispatch, put it.
James Barolo '14 of Lambda Law Alliance and Jon Guynn '13 of Rex E. Lee Law Society were the first to talk as the event was actually spurred by an experience they shared. Barolo was on a callback in San Francisco and desired to meet with an LGBT associate. As the meeting grew closer, Barolo was told that the LGBT associate was at trial, and he could instead have lunch with a fellow law student, Jon Guynn. Both students were given each other's resumes, and, as Guynn put it, "The reaction we both had was, 'Jeez, this other guy hates me.'"
As they describe it, the lunch started out awkwardly, with neither bringing up the glaring differences in their backgrounds, and eventually being asked, "Which one of you is the Mormon?" According to Guynn, "Due to the Church's involvement with Prop. 8 and, particularly, if this was the only data point one had, it's a fair inference to have that Mormons hate gays. It was a really awkward way to start lunch, but ended up being a great way to start a friendship."
Professor Coughlin spoke next, frankly admitting that the discussion was "very uncomfortable." She discussed her time as a clerk for Justice Powell, in particular her experience during Bowers v. Hardwick, a case which upheld a statute making sodomy a crime in Georgia. Powell was the swing vote to uphold the statute. One of Coughlin's fellow clerks was Mormon, and the other was gay but closeted. The Mormon clerk was the one working on Bowers, actively pressing Powell to uphold the statute. Coughlin described that experience as one of the "most painful, awkward, difficult situations in the world. People who loved each other were walking on eggshells."
Coughlin continued by discussing her experience working at Vanderbilt which, at the time, had a Lambda organization where not a single student would come out or identify as LGBTQ on campus. Comments on campus regarding whether or not her Feminist Legal Theory course should be added to the roster were filled with slurs, and, Coughlin said, that was when she became committed to fighting for the civil rights of the LGBTQ community.
Professor Armacost had seemingly very different views. After Coughlin described her initial uneasiness regarding a friendship with Armacost, Armacost responded by saying that she was "horrified to be told that she thought I would hate her for her views." Armacost continued by describing how difficult working relationships can be when people are at opposite sides of a heated issue. The key, she claimed, is to make an effort to walk in each other's shoes and not to demonize the other side. "We are all so guilty of that temptation," she said.
For the rest of the discussion, audience members put forward their own experiences and concerns. As the event was anonymous in order to provide an environment of openness, other names of students have been withheld.
The first student to speak pointed to her first days at the Law School to demonstrate that the two groups were "maybe not so incompatible." In one of her first social outings, she went to the Law Christian Fellowship picnic and met a Mormon student, and saw that same student the next night at a Lambda event. Another student likened the issue to that of Christians toward birth control-the official organization is putting forward a view to which many members do not subscribe.
"We're both pretty small minorities," one student said, "and we should be working together for tolerance of minorities." The overarching goal of the event was to open up a dialogue, and one student summarized the successful discussion perfectly: "I am different from you, but I am happy to be a friend."
My comment ---
Not to change the subject, but they should be told not to use only two digits for the year.
Jon Stewart v. Muslim Brotherhood
Fri Apr 5, 2013 2:35pm EDT
(David Rohde is a Reuters columnist but his opinions are his own.)
By David Rohde
(Reuters) - For Americans, it was Jon Stewart as national treasure. In a virtuoso performance Monday, the American satirist ridiculed the Egyptian government's crackdown on Cairo comedian - and Stewart protégé - Bassem Youssef.
"What are you worried about, Mr. President - the power of satire to overthrow the status quo?" Stewart deadpanned. "Just so you know, there's been a grand total of, uh, zero toppled governments we've brought about."
In Egypt, members of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood saw Stewart's show a bit differently. The comedian's skewering of Egyptian president Mursi was the latest insult from a nation that backed Egypt's pro-American dictators for decades. Told that cracking down on comedians was playing poorly in Washington, a usually moderate senior Brotherhood member argued that Western notions of free speech were being used, yet again, to denigrate Islam.
"Yes, the same West that supported the burning of the Koran!" the member told American journalist Lauren Bohn this week. "We need to draw red lines."
Egypt's political polarization is intensifying. Crucial parliamentary elections have been delayed until October. Both sides are increasingly engaging in street violence and vitriol. Opposition leader Mohammad ElBaradei compared the government to "fascist regimes" on Twitter this week. Mursi vowed to "break the neck" of anyone who throws a petrol bomb on the street.
"I'm worried," Nathan Brown, a George Washington University professor and leading Egypt expert, said in an interview. "This is a broken political system. It's a system that can't reach a consensus."
While it's tempting to avert one's eyes from Egypt's post-revolutionary political train wreck, no Arab country is more important to the United States. The Arab world's most populous nation, Egypt is the Middle East's cultural capital and the site of an epic power struggle between conservatives and liberals that will influence the region's politics, culture and faith for decades.
Opposition members have seized on the Youssef case as the latest example of overreach and intolerance by the Brotherhood. But the group's political Achilles' heel is its handling of the Egyptian economy and growing lawlessness, including a spate of sexual assaults that have polarized the country.
Showing extraordinary bravery, Egyptian women have publicly described horrific gang rapes in a series of stories broadcast by Egypt's newly independent news media, the New York Times reported. Religious ultra-conservatives have cravenly blamed the victims.
Inflation has nearly doubled since November, the country has lost $4 billion a year in tourism revenue since the revolution and unemployment is officially 13 percent, but actually far higher. To receive a $4.8 billion International Monetary Fund loan, Mursi must cut government food and fuel subsidies for average Egyptians. As Stewart dryly put it, post-revolutionary Egypt is "a work in progress."
It's a stretch, but there are silver linings. The Youssef case, for example, is a testament to the indomitable spread of globalization and technology. A Cairo surgeon-turned-comic has created a wildly popular Egyptian version of The Daily Show that skewers the country's political elite on one of Egypt's 30 new satellite television stations.
Since the 2011 fall of President Hosni Mubarak, criticism of authority has exploded across Egyptian society, a trend that the Brotherhood is now clumsily trying to stem. Youssef's case is one of up to 33 filed against comedians, activists, politicians and bloggers in just the past two weeks. Last month, protesters attacked television stations and at least three prominent journalists after Mursi criticized the press.
The response from the Obama administration, like its initial response to Egypt's revolution, has been confused. The U.S. embassy in Cairo initially tweeted a link to Stewart's monologue.
When Mursi's office tweeted in reply that it was "inappropriate for a diplomatic mission to engage in such negative political propaganda," the embassy shut down its Twitter account without conferring with Washington, according to Foreign Policy. The embassy Twitter account later reappeared, without the offending Stewart tweet.
In Washington, meanwhile, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland stated the tweet was "inappropriate." Yet she also bluntly criticized "growing restrictions on the freedom of expression in Egypt.
The mixed American response confused Egyptians, according to Bohn, the American journalist. In interviews this week, several Egyptians said they don't know what Washington wants.
Emboldened Muslim Brotherhood members, meanwhile, vow to press ahead. In the Youssef case, Brotherhood members filed formal legal complaints with prosecutors accusing the comedian of breaking antiquated laws that criminalize insulting Islam or the head of state. They are demanding that prosecutors, who are nominally independent of the government, fully prosecute Youssef.
In a blunt statement on its website, the group dismissed State Department calls for free expression.
"They will have only one interpretation in the Egyptian street," the group predicted, "the U.S. welcomes and defends contempt of religion by the media."
Peter Hessler, in a telling posting for the New Yorker on Thursday, suggested the Brotherhood may be right. Hessler described how his Arabic language teacher viewed the dispute. Angered by a wildly inaccurate description of Stewart's monologue in an Egyptian newspaper, the teacher saw Stewart as part of a Jewish conspiracy.
"Do you know who this Jon Stewart is?" the teacher asked Hessler. "He's a Jew, isn't he?"
The teacher also argued, however, that the Brotherhood was using the case against Youssef to distract Egyptians from the country's dismal economy.
For now, it's unclear whether the Brotherhood is losing the broad support that allowed it to sweep post-revolutionary elections. Public opinion polls show Mursi losing popularity in urban areas and among youth, but retaining strong approval in poor, rural areas.
Brown, the George Washington University professor, argued that the Brotherhood is politically vulnerable. He urged fractious opposition groups to reject calls for a boycott of the parliamentary vote, unite and run.
"The opposition has an opportunity here," he said. "They're not going to win the next elections but they could win the ones after that."
A free and fair parliamentary election must be held as soon as possible. The opposition should follow Brown's advice and begin the long, slow process of building political organizations. Washington should declare its $1 billion in promised American aid contingent on democratic elections. And Jon Stewart protégés must not face jail time.
Egypt is awash in conspiracy, distrust and despair. Mursi has miscalculated over and over. So have his opponents. Egypt's best hope is that the resolve their differences at the ballot box - not in court and on the street.
(David Rohde is a columnist for Reuters, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize, and a former reporter for The New York Times. His forthcoming book, "Beyond War: Reimagining American Influence in a New Middle East" will be published in April 2013.) (David Rohde)
Bill Maher was in rare form on Jimmy Kimmel Live Tuesday night 02 April.
Watch it at ---
Tuesday 02 April 2013
39:16 | Aired on 04/02/13
TV host Bill Maher; actor Giancarlo Esposito; Cold War Kids perform.
Aftershock Survival Summit -- A presentation by Moneynews and Newsmax -- [ rightwing stuff ]
OK, so here we go --->
'Scared the Hell Out of Me. It Was a Great Wake-Up Call
(Although I Wasn't Really Asleep)'
- Russell H., from Wichita, Kansas
Over 50 Million Americans Have United to View This Powerful Warning to Prepare for an Impending Economic Crisis! I Strongly Suggest You Take the Time to Join Them by Launching a Private Airing of This Broadcast Below . . .
Monsanto's Dark History
06 April 2013
From its beginnings as a small chemical company in 1901, Monsanto has grown into the largest biotechnology seed company in the world with net sales of $11.8 billion, 404 facilities in 66 countries across six continents and products grown on more than 282 million acres worldwide. Today, the consumer advocacy nonprofit Food & Water Watch released its report, Monsanto: A Corporate Profile.
"There is a growing movement of people around the country who want to take on Monsanto's undue influence over lawmakers, regulators and the food supply," said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch and author of the book Foodopoly. "People need to know about Monsanto's history as a heavy industrial chemical manufacturer; a reality at odds with the environmentally friendly, feed-the-world image that the company spends millions trying to convey."
"At the end of March, the American public saw first hand the unjustifiable power that Monsanto holds over our elected officials when an unprecedented rider, dubbed the 'Monsanto Protection Act,' was tacked onto the spending bill to fund the federal government," said Dave Murphy, founder and executive director of Food Democracy Now! "This is an outrageous interference with our courts and separation of powers and we cannot sit back and allow our elected officials to continue to take orders from Monsanto at the expense of family farmers and consumers."
The report offers a timeline of milestones in the company's history including chemical disasters, mergers and acquisitions, and the first genetically modified plant cell.
"Despite its various marketing incarnations over the years, Monsanto is a chemical company that got its start selling saccharin to Coca-Cola, then Agent Orange to the U.S. military, and, in recent years, seeds genetically engineered to contain and withstand massive amounts of Monsanto herbicides and pesticides," said Ronnie Cummins, executive director of Organic Consumers Association. "Monsanto has become synonymous with the corporatization and industrialization of our food supply."
The report concludes with recommended actions for the federal government to take to temper Monsanto's anti-competitive practices and control over agricultural research and government policies. It also suggests steps that regulators should take to better protect consumers and the environment from the potentially harmful effects of genetically engineered (GE) crops.
"Even though you won't find the Monsanto brand on a food or beverage container at your local grocery store, the company holds vast power over our food supply," said Rebecca Spector, west coast director of Center for Food Safety. "This power is largely responsible for something else we cannot find on our grocery store shelves-labels on genetically engineered food. Not only has Monsanto's and other agribusinesses' efforts prevented the labeling of GE foods, but they spend millions to block grassroots efforts like California's Prop 37 in order to keep consumers in the dark."
"The chemical pesticide industry, with Monsanto leading the way, took over U.S. seed industry and engineered bacterial genes into food crops with the primary purpose of selling more weed killer that contaminates our food, water and bodies," said David Bronner, the CEO of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps and leader in GE food labeling campaigns across the country." Just like the citizens of Europe, Japan and China, Americans deserve the right to opt out of the genetically engineered food science experiment."
Received from a friend --->
I found this amusing. And accurate. God, it's delicious to see moral scold posturers called out on the implications of their obsessions. Kind of like Gingrich impeaching Clinton for having an affair, when Gingrich was, and Gingrich justifying it to his wife by saying something like, "The values I preach are what's important, not whether I follow them."
Cuccinelli Campaign Won't Say If He's Committed Any Crimes Against Nature
-By Adam Serwer
| Thu Apr. 4, 2013 12:38 PM PDT
--- picture at URL ---
The campaign of Virginia state attorney general Ken Cuccinelli won't say if he's committed any crimes against nature.
Cuccinelli, who is running to be Virginia's next governor, recently petitioned a federal court to reverse its ruling that the state's archaic "Crimes Against Nature" law is unconstitutional. That statute outlaws oral and anal sex between consenting adults-gay or straight, married or single-making such "carnal" acts a felony. The law is unconstitutional because of the Supreme Court's ruling in Lawrence v. Texas, which invalidated such "anti-sodomy laws" across the country.
As my colleague Kate Sheppard notes, Cuccinelli's office claims that it is appealing the decision because the state's regular statutory rape law doesn't allow it to pursue the harshest punishment against a 47-year-old man who solicited oral sex from teenagers (who were above the age of consent at the time). But as Josh Israel recounts at ThinkProgress, Cuccinelli helped kill an effort to reform the Crimes Against Nature law in order to make it comply with the Supreme Court's ruling in Lawrence, possibly because the proposed law didn't focus on homosexuality. "My view is that homosexual acts, not homosexuality, but homosexual acts are wrong," Cuccinelli said in 2009. "They're intrinsically wrong. And I think in a natural law-based country it's appropriate to have policies that reflect that.They don't comport with natural law."
If Virginia's ban on "unnatural" sex acts applied nationwide, the Virginia law would make 90 percent of men and women in the United States between the age of 25 and 44 criminals. Here's a chart from the National Center on Health Statistics on sexual behavior in the US:
--- click on URL for graph ---
Violating Virginia's Crimes Against Nature statute was a class six felony in the state, and carried a penalty of between one and five years in prison. The Virginia Department of Corrections only has a capacity of around 30,000. Given that 64.6 percent of Virginia's 8 million residents are between the ages of 18 and 65, the state most likely lacks the prison capacity to house millions of Virginians who, in Cuccinelli's view, have committed crimes against nature.
But what about Cuccinelli and his aides? Mother Jones asked his campaign if Cuccinelli or anyone working for his campaign had ever engaged in any of the prohibited conduct and whether Cuccinelli would fire any campaign staff who had done so. We have received no response. But if Cuccinelli's campaign is being run by criminals against nature, don't the voters have a right to know?
Adam Serwer is a reporter at the Washington, DC, bureau of Mother Jones. For more of his stories, click here.
You can also follow him on Twitter. Email tips and insights to aserwer [at] motherjones [dot] com.
Maj. Gen. Ralph Baker of US Africa Command fired over alcohol, sex charges
Maj. Gen. Ralph Baker, commander of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, was fired from his command last Thursday, and he was fined a portion of his pay after an administrative hearing and review.
By Associated Press / April 5, 2013
An Army major general with the U.S. Africa Command has been relieved of his post in connection with alcohol and sexual misconduct charges, defense officials said.
Officials said Maj. Gen. Ralph Baker, commander of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa, was fired from his command last Thursday, and he was fined a portion of his pay by Gen. Carter Ham, head of U.S. Africa Command, after an administrative hearing and review. The officials said Thursday that Ham lost confidence in Baker's ability to command.
Baker has appealed the administrative action to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. But since senior commanders such as Ham have broad latitude in decisions to relieve subordinates of command, Hagel's decision may focus more on the financial punishment, officials said. Details of how much his pay was cut were not released.
The allegations against Baker involve harassment and inappropriate contact, said the officials, who were not authorized to talk publicly about the case so spoke on condition of anonymity.
Baker took over the task force, based at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti, last May and was scheduled to leave the job in the near future.
He has returned to Washington and is temporarily serving as a special assistant to the director of the Army staff while he awaits Hagel's decision. Such special assistant posts are routinely used as way stations for general officers who are under investigation and awaiting their fate, or for others who have been promoted and are waiting for their new job to open up.
Baker is one in a string of general officers who have been reprimanded or investigated for possible sexual misconduct.
Lawmakers in Congress have said that military and defense leaders have not done enough to combat sexual assault and harassment in the ranks.
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