Wednesday, April 23, 2014

NYT writer Jo Becker's new book chronicling fight for marriage equality raises hackles by giving short shrift to everyone except HRC's Chad Griffin and Prop 8 lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies

Andrew Sullivan called it a "troubling travesty of gay history,"  blasting the tome in a long blog post that not once mentioned the title of Becker's book.
     That was only the beginning. Piling on were:
writer-activist Dan Savage (“a bulls--t ‘history’ of the movement for marriage equality”), former New York Times columnist Frank Rich (“For a journalist to claim that marriage equality revolution began in 2008 is as absurd as saying civil rights struggle began with Obama.”), and White House strategist Jim Messina. Bussfeeds legal reporter, Chris Geidner
You can listen to Teri Gross' interview with Jo Becker on NPR here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Boy Scouts have revoked charter of Seattle Church because it won't remove gay scoutmaster

The Boy Scouts of America has revoked the charter of Seattle's Rainier Beach United Methodist Church because it refused to fire a gay scoutmaster.
     The United Methodist Church is BSA's second-largest chartered organization, with more than 10,700 units and nearly 350,000 members, according to the Boy Scouts website.
      Disney, Lockheed Martin, Caterpillar, Major League Soccer, Merck, Intel, UPS, Alcoa and AT&T have terminated their partnerships with the Boy Scouts because of its antigay policy, according to Scouts for Equality and the Human Rights Campaign.
     Said Pastor Monica Corsaro:
"It's a part of our values that the spirit of inclusion is also reflected in the Boy Scout Troop we charter. The congregation stands with Geoff, because his work with this Troop reflects the spirit and the values of Rainier Beach United Methodist Church. In light of the BSA's decision to infringe on our religious liberties, sending us such discriminatory communication on Good Friday, we have acquired legal council to assess our options."

Typepad blogging platform hit by cybercriminals for fifth day in a row; a demand for ransom; popular gay blogs affected

As this is written, Towleroad, perhaps the most popular gay blog in North America, is down, as is GoodAsYou. Their blogging platform, Typepad, is being hit by on-again, off-again DDoS (distributed denial of service attacks). Typepad's owner, SAY Media is working with the F.B.I.
     That this is happening at all is more evidence that the NSA (National Security Agency) is not doing its job effectively.
     Recently Bloomberg News claimed that the NSA knew about the Heartbleed OpenSSL security breach for two years, quietly exploited it to spy on Americans, but neither said nor did anything to protect U.S. businesses and individuals from having passwords and data stolen.
     More about the TypePad attack from TechCrunch:
     The attack appears to be similar in nature to those which have hit several other high-profile tech companies in recent weeks, including Meetup, Basecamp, Vimeo, and others. Though Typepad has not yet publicly shared much information about its attackers, the typical scenario involves an attacker knocking the victim’s site offline using a flood of traffic, then refusing to stop the barrage until the victim company pays a small amount of “ransom.” The initial amount is usually fairly insignificant, but once the victim agrees, it tends to go up, as they’ve now confirmed themselves as an easy mark.
     While DDoS attacks have always been difficult to handle, many victims today are facing a newer, more powerful sort of attack that exploit flaws in older Internet protocols which were never secured particularly well., for example, fell after being hit by an NTP-based DDoS attack – meaning, an attack that leveraged NTP (Network Time Protocol), which is used to sync time clocks between multiple servers.
     It’s not uncommon for NTP attacks to be in the 10 Gigabits range, which only a couple of years ago would have been a record-breaking size, said Matthew Prince, CEO at CloudFlare, a company which has been stepping in to help get victims’ sites back online. (Meetup’s attack was 8 Gigabits in size, and knocked the site offline for several days in March).

Monday, April 21, 2014

Gay Nebraskans: Does your attorney general work for you — or against you?

Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller, left and Nebraska AG Jon Bruning
Today, 13 states and the District of Columbia filed an amicus brief with the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal in support of Virginia's marriage equality plaintiffs. Among the signatories was Tom Miller, Attorney General of Iowa. Absent was Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning, who only spends your taxes to file briefs opposing marriage equality.
     Related: Are you registered to vote yet? Voter registration in Nebraska ENDS THIS THURSDAY, APRIL 24 and FRIDAY April 25th (if registering by mail.) Call or visit your county election commissioner's office for further details.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

#1 homophobe in NE Senate manfully assaults his Obama dolly in new campaign ad

Above: Sen. Beau "I'm on a horse!" McCoy
The bad news: McCoy, running for governor against four other GOP aspirants, is being supported by $50,000 in ads from one of the country's biggest dark money organizations, Iowa's American future fund. The good news: the same group is running $130,000 in attack ads against NE AG Jon Bruning, also a vitriolic homophobe.
     In 2012, McCoy tried to ban all municipal LGBT anti-bias legislation in Nebraska with LB912, which never made it out of the Judiciary Committee. Earlier this month, McCoy and Imperial Senator Mark Christensen led a filibuster to kill LB485, an LGBT employment bill outlawing LGBT bias in hiring by introducing 22 amendments to it.
     McCoy, a homeschooled global warming denier, is regarded by some as not much smarter than the fence post off which he knocked an Obama doll, which did not amuse Nebraska Democrats:
     “Beau McCoy hit a new low in his ad, where he is seen striking the president off a fence post,” said Dan Marvin, executive director of the Nebraska Democratic Party.
     “No matter what party you belong to, the depiction of violence displayed in McCoy's ad is completely disrespectful to the office of the presidency and sends the wrong message to our children.”
     Vince Powers, state Democratic chairman, called on McCoy to pull the ad.

Unrepentant Putin apologist Franklin Graham attacks gay parents again

The execrable Graham doubled down on recently-made gratuitously and outrageously insulting comments about gay people when he claimed on ABC's This Week Sunday that adoption of orphans by gay parents constitutes “recruiting” and that Russian President Vladimir Putin was justified in prohibiting same-sex adoptions.

Evangelistic political influence peddler Ralph Reed piled on, citing junk science statistics from the discredited University of Texas Regnerus Study  as evidence that the social science is "irrefutable" that hetero households are superior for rearing children than gay households; then, as JMG pointed out, when he was challenged, he claimed that the "social science is just simply not in yet on same-sex couples,” though he had said just the opposite a few seconds earlier.
     The 14,000-member American Sociological Association would beg to disagree.
Below Christopher Hitchens debates Ralph Reed after the death of Jerry Falwell. Reed's Faith and Freedom coalition is a bid to win back the allegiance of many of the Christian followers he had duped and double-crossed while working with now-convicted felon Jack Abramoff.

Lincoln, Nebraska elementary school, named for principal of Dick Cheney's alma mater, tells bullied students to suck it up

If you're keeping this story to yourself, you're just damn selfish. Tell your friends via
the Facebook, Google+, Reddit, Twitter, or email buttons at the bottom of this post.

NOTE: Though this rogue handout reflects the talking points of an adversary of conventional anti-bullying approaches, it should be noted that Lincoln has produced a national model for anti-bullying efforts, a fact AKSARBENT blogged about in 2011, here.
     Now that an unnamed functionary of Zeman Elementary School in Lincoln has given the place more viral Internet  infamy than it has ever had, by sending the above tips about bullying home with students, the school has called the whole mess a miscommunication.
     The Internet has been more critical. From
    Were these rules written by Kim Jong-il before he died? That's the only reasonable explanation for how this kind of bullshit could exist. "Do not tell on bullies" might be the most terrifying, stupid thing I've ever seen a school try and impose on young minds. I can't even bother with a line-by-line breakdown of what's wrong with all of the points in this flyer, because honestly I think all of you are way too smart for that. Just like I don't have to tell you what a serious issue bullying is and how awful the consequences can be.
     These "rules" shouldn't be labeled as advice for dealing with bullies. They should be called "Ways We Can Get You Goddamn Kids to Act So We Never Have to Deal With Your Problems Ever."
     Lincoln teachers can be badass. Recently, one of them set fire to a box of papers on the desk of a supervisor, subsequently destroying the school district's $20 million headquarters.
     Unrelated but fun fact: Zeman School is named after Anna F. Zeman, who was once the principal of Calvert elementary school, attended by Vice President Dick Cheney after he was kicked out of Randolph School for reasons that, even after half a century, Lincoln Public Schools will NOT discuss, but thank you for asking.
     This is the second time this week Lincoln has been in national News of the Weird accounts. A few days ago, a three-year-old Lincolnite escaped his apartment while his mom was in the bathroom. He was later found across the street in a bowling alley, INSIDE A CLAW MACHINE playing with the stuffed animals. Time reported that the vending machine company had to get the kid out, but that no one seems to know how he got in.
     Don't laugh. Someday that scamp may join the GOP and become Vice President of this formerly great nation.
     Full disclosure: This post was written by a proud graduate of Calvert Elementary School (national ranking: low), who personally met Anna F. Zeman — before she became a building — several times, in the principal's office, for reasons that the Lincoln public school system also is not at liberty to discuss.

Cara Hartmann: 'It was so cool. I tricked 27,000,000 people on the Internet'

Saturday, April 19, 2014

What a gay porn actor does in his spare time

It's musical, but he ain't no discaire. More about the piece he wrote from his husband, also in the business, here.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Nebraska, 38th in population, is 5th in marijuana arrests

Gee, the sparsely-populated Cornhusker State either reeks of pot heads or of cops looking to make easier busts than they could if they were, say, fifth in the nation in recovering stolen cars or fifth in the nation in catching burglars or fifth in the nation in solving murder cases or fifth in the nation in putting rapists behind bars.
     Massachusetts, with about 4.5 million MORE people than Nebraska, had fewer than 4% of the number of marijuana arrests.

Princeton study:
U.S. is now an oligarchy, not a democracy

Below: study coauthor Martin Gilens discusses influence of the affluent over government policy.

Insights With Martin Gilens from Princeton University on Vimeo.

From Talking Points Memo:
     Asking "[w]ho really rules?" researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page argue that over the past few decades America's political system has slowly transformed from a democracy into an oligarchy, where wealthy elites wield most power.
     Using data drawn from over 1,800 different policy initiatives from 1981 to 2002, the two conclude that rich, well-connected individuals on the political scene now steer the direction of the country, regardless of or even against the will of the majority of voters.
From the study:
     The failure of theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy is all the more striking because it goes against the likely effects of the limitations of our data. The preferences of ordinary citizens were measured more directly than our other independent variables, yet they are estimated to have the least effect.
     Nor do organized interest groups substitute for direct citizen influence, by embodying citizens’ will and ensuring that their wishes prevail in the fashion postulated by theories of Majoritarian Pluralism.
     Interest groups do have substantial independent impacts on policy, and a few groups (particularly labor unions) represent average citizens’ views reasonably well. But the interest group system as a whole does not. Over-all, net interest group alignments are not significantly related to the preferences of average citizens.
     Of course our findings speak most directly to the “first face” of power: the ability of actors to shape policy outcomes on contested issues. But they also reflect – to some degree, at least – the “second face” of power: the ability to shape the agenda of issues that policy makers consider.
     ...Our results speak less clearly to the “third face” of power: the ability of elites to shape the public’s preferences. We know that interest groups and policy makers them selves often devote considerable effort to shaping opinion. If they are successful, this might help explain the high correlation we find between elite and mass preferences. But it cannot have greatly inflated our estimate of average citizens’ influence on policy making, which is near zero.

     What do our findings say about democracy in America? They certainly constitute troubling news for advocates of “populistic” democracy, who want governments to respond primarily or exclusively to the policy preferences of their citizens. In the United States, our Gilens and Page Testing Theories of American Politics findings indicate, the majority does not rule -- at least not in the causal sense of actually determining policy outcomes. When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or with organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system , even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.
     A possible objection to populistic democracy is that average citizens are inattentive to politics and ignorant about public policy; why should we worry if their poorly informed preferences do not influence policy making? Perhaps economic elites and interest group leaders enjoy greater policy expertise than the average citizen does. Perhaps they know better which policies will benefit everyone, and perhaps they seek the common good, rather than selfish ends,when deciding which policies to support.
     But we tend to doubt it. We believe instead that – collectively – ordinary citizens generally know their own values and interests pretty well, and that their expressed policy preferences are worthy of respect. Moreover, we are not so sure about the informational advantages of elites. Yes, detailed policy knowledge tends to rise with income and status.
     Surely wealthy Americans and corporate executives tend to know a lot about tax and regulatory policies that directly affect them. But how much do they know about the human impact of Social Security, Medicare, Food Stamps, or unemployment insurance, none of which is likely to be crucial to their own well-being?
     Most important, we see no reason to think that informational expertise is always accompanied by an inclination to transcend one's own interests or a determination to work for the common good.
     All in all, we believe that the public is likely to be a more certain guardian of its own interests than any feasible alternative.

Incredibly successful Imperial, Nebraska family's "Heaven is Real" scam now a movie

The kid, Colton Burpo, who says he visited "heaven" for three minutes and whose dad just happens to be an Imperial, NE, preacher, is now 12 and already incredibly shifty-eyed (see below video from Fox, along for the ride, as always.)
      "Heaven is for real," the book, has sold more than 10 million copies and now hits cinemas as a film directed by the director of Braveheart. Burpo says that in heaven everyone has wings, but you have the option of walking, not flying, if you wish. Oh — and in heaven, everyone is in their prime — late twenties to early thirties, even if they died at 97, which leads AKSARBENT to wonder about people who spent their twenties and thirties as tubs of lard, then exercised, slimmed down, and looked terrific in their forties or even fifties. Um, what age do they appear, Colton?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Evidently, few L.A. men will blame a guy for trying

Years ago, Hugh Hefner confirmed that Stephen Watts' biography of him, Mr. Playboy: Hugh Hefner and the American Dream "is all essentially true."
     The book revealed that:
Hefner once had a gay sex encounter, which occurred in an unspecified time and an unnamed bar in Chicago... “...He was propositioned [by a man] and, thought, 'What the hell...'"
     Hef was said to have found it “an interesting experience."
     Since Hefner is still alive, so perhaps might be the man who successfully hit on one of the 20th century's most dedicated male heterosexuals and scored.
     AKSARBENT thinks that the International Gay Conspiracy needs to find this man and write down everything he says before it is too late and relay any tips to the dude who made the video below, who might have better luck in his endeavors, unless he really is straight, in which case he may not want to increase his success rate. (Via Towleroad and yes, there is a girl-on-girl version.)

Even more evidence of cronyism, corruption and coercion in Bradstad administration

From Jason Clayworth at the Des Moines Register:
Top staffers of Gov. Terry Branstad pressured the state's employment board to hire a longtime friend of the administration as an administrative law judge in an attempt to stack the deck against public employee complaints, the chairman of the board told The Des Moines Register this week.
     Iowa Public Employment Relations Board Chairman Jim Riordan said Branstad's former chief of staff, Jeff Boeyink, and current staff attorney, Brenna Findley, threatened to cut the office's budget if its three board members failed to comply with their demand.
     To keep the office on stable financial ground, the board hired Robert D. Wilson, a former Polk County district judge, Riordan said.
     Riordan's statements marked the second time in less than a month that the Branstad administration has been accused of interfering with the workings of the state's judiciary system...

Billy Eichner picks the wrong guest to yell at

The segment, featuring Joel McHale competing by himself in the 2014 Mo-Limpics, quickly degenerates into a queer-baiting, insult-swapping screaming match, so what's not to like? Via Towleroad.

New postal service stamps depict drawings of gay bondage porn, at long last

That's the good news (Thank you, Gawker, et al.)
     The bad news is that Finland's post office has issued will issue them — in September — and they're self-adhesive (contrary to a BBC report) so you really don't have any credible excuse to lick them.
     These are suitable for posting letters from Finland to anywhere in the world, but most especially to Saudi Arabia, Beau McCoy, Mississippi, Brunei, Jon Bruning, Oklahoma, Russia, Nigeria, Uganda and Franklin Graham.
     You also can buy Tom of Finland cross-stitching kits and soon you will be able to see Tom, The Movie.
     Unlike Norway, Finland isn't in Fat City due to the North Sea oil bonanza, so it does what it has to do. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

After 5 years of marriage equality, more Iowans say they're proud of their state than disappointed

Radio Iowa reports on an Iowa poll on gay marriage taken by Selzer and Company revealing a sea change in attitude:
 “We found the plurality of Iowans say ‘it doesn’t really matter to me, it’s not my issue.’ And more say they’re proud than say they’re disappointed,” Selzer said.
     The piece included Rob Gilmer and his husband Rene Orduna who left neighboring Nebraska, moving their popular restaurant, Dixie Quicks (tell them AKSARBENT sent you) — and themselves — from Omaha, across the Missouri River to Council Bluffs, Iowa.
     Also interviewed were Kate Varnum — the "Varnum" in "Varnum vs. Brien," the now-famous case brought to the Iowa Supreme Court in 2009 which unanimously decided that gay couples were denied equal protection. Varnum subsequently married her girlfriend, Trish, with whom she is raising an adopted two-and-a-half-year-old son in Cedar Rapids.

Dixie Quicks: Nebraska's loss, Iowa's gain

Omaha's not-so-progressive mayor, Jean Stothert (back when she was on the city council voting against an LGBT anti-bias ordinance), displays the very attitude that caused the owners of Dixie Quicks to leave her city and state:

Onlookers cheer arrest of professional homophobe, Peter LaBarbera, charged with mischief at U. of Regina after being told to leave

Even though Canada's hate speech laws must have been explained to him during his brief border detention and (by virtue of that detention) he must have known that he would be watched closely, LaBarbera still made sure he was arrested, even sporting a tee-shirt silk-screened in advance, portraying himself as a victim.

From the CBC:
     ...Before their arrival, the university issued a news release saying the pair would be monitored to ensure they did not engage in any activity that would promote hatred.
     At one point, with news cameras rolling, an unidentified university official approached Whatcott, 46, and LaBarbera, 51, and asked them to leave. During that encounter, Whatcott said he had attempted to get permission to set up an information table and, since he was denied, proceeded to set up a table anyway.
     ..."I'm not leaving," Whatcott told the official, "You guys are intolerant and should be ashamed of yourselves for shutting down our message without even considering it."
     A short while later, several Regina police officers arrived and Whatcott and LaBarbera were handcuffed and taken off campus.
     University officials defended their decision to call police.
     "We are a diverse campus, we are a welcoming campus," Tom Chase, one of the vice presidents of the university said. "We celebrate that diversity and our staff felt that the material and some of the things they had with them simply contravened that policy and we asked them to leave."
Bill Whatcott is a well-known Canadian anti-abortion, anti-gay activist who, in his youth, prostituted himself to other males and who once defecated on a document before sending it to Canada's Governor General.

Collabro: What makes you think that after a month [together] you're good enough to win Britain's Got Talent?

It's always good when people underestimate you. Skip to 1:36 if you're pressed for time. From Towleroad.

Six Nebraskans from Astroturf group Americans For Prosperity sign open letter complaining about another Astroturf group, Freedomworks, bankrolling Ben Sasse

How much ultra-right wing hypocrisy can you stand?
     A group including members of the Nebraska chapter of the notorious Koch Bros.-funded front organization, Americans for Prosperity, are mad that another Tea Party Astroturf group, Freedomworks, founded by Dick Armey*, has raised a huge amount of money in D.C. to bankroll Ben Sasse's Senate run. Part of their indignant sputtering:
We are not million dollar Washington DC special interest groups with strong ties to Capitol Hill.
     No, you're extremists working for a different fake grassroots special interest group funded by the politically carpet-bagging billionaire Koch Brothers — of Kansas, not Nebraska.
     Below: Sasse's anti-Washington special intersts ad, bought and paid for by conservative D.C. PACs, lobbyists and special interests. This is 100%, straight-up, unadulterated bullshit evidently aimed at voters whose intelligence Sasse and his backers surely must regard with limitless contempt.

*In 1995 Armey referred to openly homosexual Congressman Barney Frank as "Barney Fag". Armey said it was a slip of the tongue. Frank did not accept Armey's explanation, saying, "I turned to my own expert, my mother, who reports that in 59 years of marriage, no one ever introduced her as Elsie Fag."

Monday, April 14, 2014

Field near Neligh, in pipeline path, sports a #NOKXL hashtag

Not everyone who will never vote for Hillary Clinton is a tea partier; some people resent her State Department's collusion with a foreign oil company threatening the land of midwestern farmers and ranchers via eminent domain condemnation papers even without a pipeline permit in hand.
     The Keystone XL pipeline, according to the Omaha World-Herald, will not have state-of-the-art leak detection systems to safeguard the largest underground fresh water aquifer in North America, which in large part makes Nebraska's $20,000,000,000 ag industry possible.
     Look at the center-pivot irrigation circles in the photo and consider where the water for that comes from.
     So far, that water has stayed pure enough that people and cattle can drink it straight from the well.
      But after TransCanada gets through with it, who knows?

Open-pit tar sands moonscape in Alberta
From Rainforest Action Network:

Tar sands oil is the worst type of oil for the climate, producing three times the greenhouse gas emissions of conventionally produced oil because of the energy required to extract and process tar sands oil. Tar sands consist of heavy crude oil mixed with sand, clay and bitumen. Extraction entails burning natural gas to generate enough heat and steam to melt the oil out of the sand. As many as five barrels of water are needed to produce a single barrel of oil.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Video: NE football coach takes cat with him to spring scrimmage; a Lion King moment in front of crowd

Nebraska head football coach Bo Pelini is the subject of a very funny twitter parody, Faux Pelini, which depicts him as a cat fancier, among other things.
     He has tried to ignore the account and its snark (samples here and here) but @fauxPelini now has a stadium's worth of followers, so Coach decided to have some fun with his alter ego during Saturday's spring scrimmage. (Check out attendance in video of the stands, shot in football-mad Lincoln, and remember: this isn't even a real game.)
     The cat, that Pelini held aloft a la The Lion King, isn't his.
     More from SportsCenter, which had its own fun with the event:

Saturday, April 12, 2014

7.9 magnitude earthquake hits Solomon Islands; tsunami warning issued for Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Papua New Guinea

The Solomon Islands, independent from Great Britain since 1976, cover a land area the size of Massachussetts. The capital, Honiara, is on the island of Guadalcanal, scene of fierce WWII fighting.
     U.S. Geological Survey reported that the earthquake struck at about 7:15 am, tomorrow, April 13th about 62 miles southeast of Kirakira at a depth of 18.2 miles. (The nation is on the other wide of the International Date Line)

Ad promoting civil unions debuts in Peru

Interesting that no gay couples are depicted. Regardless, hope it persuades. AKSARBENT has no idea what the announcer is saying. Via @blabeando.

Silent LGBTs at their school offended Christian haters, so they wore antigay t-shirts. Religious freedom, baby!

Canada briefly stiff-arms entry of U.S. LGBT hate promoter, Peter LaBarbera

LaBarbera has been busy nailing himself to the cross at the border station but in fact it was a group of Canadians who petitioned the government to keep him out. A professor who has examined LaBarbera's inflammatory rhetoric says that because he deliberately, repeatedly and falsely equates homosexuality with pedophilia, his actions do fit the government's definition of hate propaganda.
     Video via JMG, who has dubbed LaBarbera "Porno Pete" because of his penchant for "exposing" various gay sex fetish gatherings by personally (and unecessarily) attending them, camera at the ready, despite the fact that such affairs are usually enthusiastically documented by exhibitionist participants on Flickr, Picassa, Instagram and Twitter.

Practical homosexuality: a gay boxing club in New York

Photo: Martin Fitzpatrick
Vance Garrett and Francisco Liuzzi have started a boxing club for gay men in New York City, because:
"Every man needs to learn how to throw a jab, hook and uppercut, even if he never uses them."
This is probably a very good idea. As the Boy Scouts say, "Be prepared."

Bloomberg: NSA knew about Heartbleed OpenSSL security breach for two years, quietly exploited it, but said, did nothing to protect U.S. Internet security

(Via JoeMyGod)

From Bloomberg:
     The Heartbleed flaw, introduced in early 2012 in a minor adjustment to the OpenSSL protocol, highlights one of the failings of open source software development.
     While many Internet companies rely on the free code, its integrity depends on a small number of underfunded researchers who devote their energies to the projects.
     In contrast, the NSA has more than 1,000 experts devoted to ferreting out such flaws using sophisticated analysis techniques, many of them classified. The agency found Heartbleed shortly after its introduction, according to one of the people familiar with the matter, and it became a basic part of the agency’s toolkit or stealing account passwords and other common tasks.

From Mashable:
...By not alerting anyone to the bug, the NSA could have left the door open for other intelligence agencies across the world to exploit Heartbleed, provided they found the bug. This revelation also seems to contradict one of the NSA's core missions, which is protecting and defending American cybersecurity.
     "Given the scale of Heartbleed, deciding to exploit this vulnerability rather than fix it, makes a mockery of any claims that the NSA defends the networks of the U.S.A.," an employee on the security team of a major Internet company, who asked not to be named, told Mashable...
     "Utterly, indefensibly shameful," tweeted Kevin Bankston, the New America Foundation Policy Director. "Way to be evil, guys."
     Matthew Prince, the CEO of security firm Cloudflare, tweeted that it's "hard as a tech company today to not feel like we're at war with our own government."

IA Gov. and spiritual leader Terry Branstad's proclamation invites Iowans to humbly repent according to Christian Bible

His Eminence, Terry Edward Branstad, who stoops to rule
Iowa with loving, if partisan discipline and a heart as pure
as the driven slush
Via GoodAsYou comes the just-issued proclamation (below; click to view or enlarge as a jpeg) which specifically recommends the Christian guidance of II Chronicles 7:14 available to all Iowans be they Atheist, Agnostic, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Rastafarian, Pastafarian, etc.
     AKSARBENT wonders what kind of GOP repentence the very spiritual Branstad will himself offer for soaking Iowa taxpayers for $370,599 (and counting) on a defamation, harassment, sexual discrimination and extortion lawsuit filed after he forced a gay worker's compensation commissioner to resign.
     Or for retaliating against a state trooper who stopped the state-issued SUV in which he and his Lieutenant Governor, Kim Reynolds, had been tearing down Iowa Highway 20 at 90 mph last April.
     Or for being pulled over again for ignoring Iowa speeding laws in Franklin County four months later.
     Or for vacationing in sunny Arizona while letting Lt. Gov. Reynolds pretend she had no idea that $280,000 in secret severance payments were made to Democratic Iowa state employees the Branstad administration wanted to get rid of in order to hire GOP cronies.
     Or that such severance payments were accompanied by tightly-worded confidentiality clauses as well as further inducements amounting to thousands of dollars each to at least two employees to sign additional agreements mandating secrecy, all of which caused Carol Frank, a former construction and design engineer who was laid off in September 2011, to liken the Branstad administration to “a group of renegades,” adding, “They just didn’t care about anyone else or about rules or law. They were just hiring their friends.”
     II Chronicles 7:14 says: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land."
     AKSARENT humbly recommends that Brandstad also open up a can of Luke 4:23 containing the famous exhortation "Physician, heal thyself."

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Guardian: Country music stars still kicking down the closet door

Believe it or not, Lavender Country's 1973, in-your-face, first (and only) album, which includes the astonishing Crying These Cocksucking Tears, was, after its 2000 re-release, ensconced in the Country Music Hall of Fame because of its historic value.
     The aforementioned cut from the album cost a DJ her license when she played it (sample verse: "I'm fighting for when there won't be no straight men.")
     In its piece, The Guardian quoted Chely Wright, who:
...believes the notion of Nashville as a deeply conservative town is simplistic. "People in the industry – studios, labels, radio programmers – are generally open and understanding," she says, "but the fanbase is a different thing." Attending a country concert recently, she looked around and decided it would be unwise to hold hands with her wife Lauren. "I wouldn't call the industry homophobic, but they're afraid of the fear lots of fans have about gay people. So they package us as straight, and we let them." Why? "Because we all want to be part of the big game."
Below: Jerry Jeff Walker (real name: Ronald Clyde Crosby), who is straight, cheerfully slides the apparent subtext of Jaded Lover under the gaydar of a television audience in the early 90s.
I can see you are an angel, whose wings just won't unfold...
Goodbye you jaded lover, you undercover queen for a day...
Well, keep sittin' on it darlin'...