Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I Charleston in San Francisco

But the one made in Seattle is way hotter...

Nikon D5100 vs. Canon EOS 600D (Rebel T3i)
'Brokeback Mountain, Hong Kong version.
You wanna handle my rake? Yeeaah...'

If you like camera reviews but can live without seeing the 5000th picture of one of Ken Rockwell's kids, then you should be watching Kai W's Hong Kong-based reviews on youtube.

Somehow, AKSARBENT doubts that the politically reactionary Rockwell would ever make the comment (at 3:10) that we transcribed in the headline to this post.

Hmmm, was that a Kai W reveal?

Maybe not... as later he says (of his colleague):
...If you look in the "more Info" box, you'll find her address and phone number...

Omaha World-Herald: Skilled and experienced Omaha police investigators know how to separate fact from fiction... except when they don't

Last Friday, in an editorial sharply critical of the Omaha Public Schools, the Omaha World-Herald read OPS the riot act for apparently not immediately notifying law enforcement authorities following a first report of a possible sexual assault on a child by a teacher, as required by state law.

While AKSARBENT rarely jumps to the defense of the shark-like bureaucrats at OPS, we had to laugh at the following World-Herald assertions:
...Perhaps there is a city or town somewhere with a Police Department that cannot be trusted to handle sensitive cases or to adequately investigate serious accusations. Perhaps there are places where unfounded accusations are often mishandled and the reputations of innocent people harmed. That is not the case in Omaha.

The Omaha Police Department has skilled and experienced investigators who know how to tackle a case and separate fact from fiction. They are led by senior officers who are professionals with a history of integrity, discreetness and sound judgment.
Really? Try telling that to Ed Brodnicki, who was falsely accused of attempting to kidnap an Omaha girl in 1992. He went $30,000 into debt and faced a prison term before his 9-year-old accuser recanted her lie. He claimed the cops wouldn't take seriously the polygraph test he had his own, hired investigators administer and that the police never administered one of their own to him. He also had issues with the fact that the cops drove the girl over to his house to identify him (!) instead of having her pick him out of a lineup.

AKSARBENT finds the World-Herald's heroic idealization of Omaha police procedures and personnel rather less persuasive than its editorial writers might wish.

In its own reporting of the case the World-Herald published this quote from Brodnicki:
"There was a certain point where the legal machinery made up its mind that I was guilty," Brodnicki said. "There was very little I could do or say to clean it this up... The dropped charges and financial settlement provided some relief. But prosecutors and police never apologized..."

Monday, May 30, 2011

Japan's Hard Gay stages a comeback

Straight Japanese comedian Masaki Sumitani, who shattered his foot during a return to wrestling following the decline in popularity of his "hard gay" schtick, is attempting to make a comeback, saying that he isn't a one-hit wonder but a two-hit wonder. His latest gig is a promotion clip for The Devil's Third, the upcoming game from Dead or Alive creator Tomonobu Itagaki.

Below: Hard Gay Visits Yahoo Japan (Yahoo got an auction site in Japan running before eBay invaded, and successfully warded off eBay's attempt to duplicate its American success there. It was one of then-CEO Meg Whitman's more conspicuous business failures.) Some of the English translations below are probably far more offensive than the original Japanese.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Peter Tatchell: Moscow police colluded with thugs

Noted gay activist Peter Tatchell has described for Pink News  the degree of collaboration between antigay skinsheads/thugs and the Moscow police who roughly broke up the latest attempt in Moscow to publicly protest that country's treatment of its gay citizens. His account differs markedly from the whitewashed Russia Today coverage of the incident.
We witnessed a high level of fraternisation and collusion between neo-Nazis and the Moscow police. I saw neo-Nazis leave and re-enter police buses parked on Tverskaya Street by City Hall

Our suspicion is that many of the neo-Nazis were actually plainclothes police officers, who did to us what their uniformed colleagues dared not do in front of the world’s media. Either that, or the police were actively facilitating the right-wing extremists with transport to the protest.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Gay USA: May 10-16 & 17-23

Andy Humm co-hosts with Utahan gay activist Doug Jennings (r.) this week and with associate producer Bill Bahlman, who took this picture, next week. Ann Northrop returns to the show in two weeks. The gay world and the world of theatre lose two giants: playwright Doric Wilson (1939-2011) who wrote gay-themed plays before Stonewall and participated in the Rebellion and Arthur Laurents (1917-2011), the man who wrote "West Side Story," "Gypsy," "The Turning Point," "The Way We Were" and much, much more. Two foreign same-sex spouses of Americans are given temporary reprieves from deportation after Attorney General Eric Holder asks an immigration board to reconsider a decision. Learn more at www.immigrationequality.org. Big push for opening marriage bureaus in New York to same-sex couples, though chief sponsor says votes are not there yet. Get involved at www.prideagenda.org. The Navy said it will do gay weddings on bases in states where same-sex marriage is legal once DADT is gone, but Republicans in Congress invoke DOMA to try to stop them. NOTE: After our taping, the Navy put the policy change on hold. Tony Kushner is denied an honorary degree by the City University of New York's board of trustees until an uproar ensues and the decision is reversed. Out lesbian Speaker Christine Quinn defends City funding to anti-gay religious parades in New York. See Andy's article here. A teacher in San Diego is fired for putting a sex ad on Craig's List. Uganda's Kill-the-Gays Bill is on the front burner again in that nation's parliament. Learn more at www.iglhrc.org. Brazil's high court unanimously rules that committed same-sex couples are entitled to most of the same rights as married couples. A Derek Jacobi opens in triumph as "King Lear" in Brooklyn. Go to www.bam.org for more information on this production playing through June 5.

Guest co-hosting with Andy Humm this week is our longtime associate producer Bill Bahlman, himself a gay activist since 1971 and a veteran AIDS activist as well. Ann Northrop reunites with Andy next week.
  • It was a BIG week for prominent people coming out: a CNN anchor, a basketball executive, and a former college basketball star
  • At a New York rally against same-sex marriage, an out lesbian confronts her grandfather who is the leader of the movement against same-sex marriage here. For updates on the marriage equality bill in New York, go to www.prideagenda.org
  • Minnesota moves to ban same-sex marriage in its constitution, but a poll shows Minnesotans aren’t buying it. To keep up with the struggle there, go to http://www.outfront.org/home
  • House Republicans try to stop repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
  • The Presbyterian Church USA opens its ministries to out LGBT people
  • Out lesbian Representative Tammy Baldwin poised to run for the US Senate in Wisconsin
  • On the International Day Against Homophobia, Moscow again moves to ban any pride celebration defying a court order
  • Uganda’s Kill-the-Gays bill dies in parliament but could be back in June
  • And a report on the famous Berlin Patient who is the first person who had HIV to have it cleared from his body

Maine boyfriends voted King, Queen of Prom; not everyone happy

Video: civil union protests and counter protests in Chicago; Moscow breaks up another gay rights demonstration; Russia Today's selective outrage

Meanwhile, Russia Today, which was totally outraged at the treatment of gay people in Tennessee earlier this month, was rather more muted at anti-gay actions in its own backyard this weekend when Moscow police again broke up a gay rights demonstration. RT cast the actions of the authorities as even-handed: "Gay or Straight, You're Coming With Me!"

Nebraska Supreme Court shuts down Atty. Gen. Jon Bruning's attempt to use illegal drugs; Omaha cab operator Matt Butler considers recall revenge on all judges except Republican Mike Heavican

New Nebraska Network reports that the Nebraska Supreme Court has stayed the execution of Carey Dean Moore due to Atty. Gen. Jon Bruning's insistence that Nebraska use a drug made in India, which is illegal in the U.S.
    In response, Nebraska Watchdog says that Republican activist Matt Butler, operator of Happy/Yellow/Checker cabs in Omaha, has said he's considering a recall initiative against all Nebraska Supreme Court justices except Chief Justice Mike Heavican — a Republican.

Video shows where pictures sent by fans to Leonard Nimoy end up

(Via Joe.my.god. See blog list.)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Grand Rapids, Michigan vs. Newsweek:
'Dying' city takes on moribund magazine

Drew Grant of Salon.com reports that after taking issue with Newsweek's inclusion of Grand Rapids in a list of Top 10 "Dying Cities" in America, 5,000 of that city's residents made a kickass lipdub in lieu of a mere letter to the editor.

Newsweek responded via Facebook:
...we want you to know it [the list] was done by a website called mainstreet.com -- not by Newsweek... it uses a methodology that our current editorial team doesn't endorse and wouldn't have employed...
When a commenter wondered why Newsweek posted the list if it didn't endorse MainStreet's methods, the newsweekly's FB team punted: Different editorial team = different methods.

Grant concluded:
...On the Newsweek site, there is no way to tell that the "10 Dying Cities" article was originally written by another publication, except for a small sidebar that lists "Main Street" as the author of the piece...
     And why wouldn't readers assume that Newsweek's editorial approved an article that appeared on its site? There's no Op-Ed note saying "These views do not reflect those of Newsweek."
After watching the lipdub of Grand Rapids, which showed 5,000 residents singing, dancing, kissing, pillow-fighting, etc., AKSARBENT has concluded by the glaring absence of any gay couples whatsoever that "experiencing" Grand Rapids has caused many of them to move elsewhere.

New Video: Fastrip convenience store in Joplin, Missouri revisited after tornado

The dark video taken of staff and customers cowering in the beer cooler of a Fastrip gas station/convenience store during Joplin's F-5 tornado (upgraded from F-4 after the fact) was widely viewed on television and the Internet during the week because it (meaning mostly its audio) conveyed unusually well the stark terror of what happened.

Now, one of the people trapped has returned, in daylight, to show how lucky the people in that store really were.

Via Towleroad. (See blog list.)

Facebook CEO to become more cutthroat this year

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has gone beyond benign self challenges like learning Chinese or dressing up in a suit and tie every day.
     This year he has vowed to eat only meat he kills himself (Are you reading this, Winklevoss twins?)
     So far this year he has wasted a lobster and dispatched chickens, pigs and goats.
     California cuisine star Jesse Cool noted approvingly that Zuckerberg "cut the throat of the goat with a knife, which is the most kind way to do it."

Pima County, Arizona swat team shoots young father with no criminal record 70 times in botched drug raid, then forces paramedics to let him bleed to death for an hour, then spins itself straight to hell

Radley Balko, of the Huffington Post, had the unfortunate task of reporting the most despicable thing AKSARBENT has read all week.

What kind of lies do you tell the world when you botch a marijuana raid and shoot a former marine with a night job, a wife, a kid, and no criminal record 70 times when he didn't shoot at you (the gun recovered from his body still had the safety engaged) and you don't find anything in the house that was illegal?

And what do you say when you escort the 26-year-old's son and wife out of the house and refuse to allow paramedics inside, ensuring that he spends his last hour on earth bleeding to death alone?

If you're the Pima County, Arizona sheriff's office, you say this.

There's so much more to this story: endless spin, coverups, lies, incompetence and, at the end of the day, a passel of so-called public servants in Arizona who can't even fake morality convincingly enough to credibly lecture a fourth estate that, in telling the truth about them, has stripped away any evidence they might proffer that they deserve to be considered part of the human race, much less the recipients of badges, guns, government salaries and pensions.

Piano Briefs: Mr. Bark's titillation gimmick gets a pass from Aksarbent because a) he's completely unaffected, b) he's absurdly adorable and c) he plays good

(Via Queerty)

Happy Memorial Day: How the US military (and its advertising agencies) dupe naive young men...

This week the New York Times published an article about how the military is using social media and movie tie-ins with the latest X-Men film, complete with ads voiced over by actor Gary Sinise (the thinking man's Toby Keith.) The difference between the hucksterism and the reality of military life was beautifully captured in the following excerpt relating the comments of the army officer in charge of social media recruiting:
Describing rappelling and other activities that recruits go through in boot camp, the general said: “It’s exciting stuff. Would I love to have those young people tweeting about that.”

Why can’t they? Well, “in the first three weeks of basic training, we take away your smartphone,” General Freakley said.
In 2004, Mother Jones published an article about how the Pentagon has bullied movie producers into showing the U.S. military in the best possible light since at least the 1920s. Example? The first movie to win the best picture Oscar, Wings, cost Paramount a then-astonishing $2 million. But the US military's contribution to the film was $16 million.

Wings, 1927

Some recent samples of preposterously fake military advertising aimed at young men whose critical thinking comes courtesy of Nintendo, Xbox and PlayStation...

Marine Corps:

Air Force:

Finally, the reality of what the military often does (and will do almost anything to hide.)

(The third version, of course, had to be WikiLeaked to the public because the Pentagon refused to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests to release it, and now the person accused of the leak faces decades in prison. Free Bradley Manning.)

The Pentagon's mantra when it presents its crushing budget requests may be that it defends freedom, but it certainly doesn't practice it.

Paypal attacked on two fronts: today's happy news!

PayPal, which is planning a mobile phone payment service, is suing Google, which announced yesterday a similar service, called Google Wallet. PayPal is alleging intellectual theft and betrayal.
     Its suit alleges that Google hired a former PayPal employee, Osama Bedier, in order to steal PayPal's trade secrets and to pick Bedier's brain.
     Meanwhile, three of the biggest banks in the U.S., JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America have announced a joint venture which will allow customers to use computers or smartphones to pay other parties via their checking accounts. Their venture, called clearXchange, won't require them to set up a new account or disclose personal information, as PayPal requires. Eventually clearXchange will be open to all financial institutions.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Minnesota Family Council again caught purging vicious, discredited antigay propaganda from its website; now you see it, now you don't

Image of Joseph Stalin with water commissar Nikolai Yezhov
Image of Stalin after he had Yezhov shot on 2/4/1940
Yesterday, the Minnesota Independent noted G.A.Y.'s observance that The Minnesota Family Council, lead proponent of a ballot initiative that would add a ban on same-sex marriage to the Minnesota Constitution, removed documents contained in its "Legislative Manual" from its website.
     The documents in the manual contained crackpot "research" by authors like Paul Cameron, claiming gays and lesbians are prone to engage in scatology, pedophilia and bestiality.
     Today, G.A.Y. discovered that the Minnesota Family Council, which is working with the National Organization for Marriage, has quietly deleted another document, which described homosexuality as "sexual confusion," and stated as fact the following bundle of preposterous assumptions:
Open-ended questions regarding sexual behavior are designed to influence the moral concepts of the students — easily leading them to the conclusion that homosexuality is normal and natural. This is psychological tampering that violates the trust of parents and renders teens incapable of recognizing harmful behavior.

With over 7.5 million youtube hits, we suppose Eric Saade's refrain 'I will be popular' has become a self-fulfilling prophecy

Popular, Sweden's entry for the Eurovision 2011 Song Contest, sung by Eric Saade, placed 3rd. Were anyone to ask us about the song's merit, AKSARBENT would diplomatically say "Ah, we liked the lighting!"

Life after boybands: for Ricky Martin, superstardom; for Jeff Timmons of 98°, Chippendales

TMZ's report about ex-98° star Jeff Timmons' re-signing with Chippendales was either a wink and a nod or self­conscious self-loathing. How many times must one say "For The Ladies" for it to be one or the other?

National Organization for Marriage defector Louis J. Marinelli announces tour to support marriage equality; plans to speak in St. Louis, Des Moines and Omaha

(Via Joe.My.God; see blog list)

Louis J. Martinelli, who built NOM's facebook page, is planning a nationwide series of speaking engagements to counter his former employer's efforts to outlaw gay marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships.
Last year, I helped organize the 2010 Summer for Marriage Tour with the National Organization for Marriage. Over the course of 30 days, we traveled more than 10,000 miles to spread a discriminatory message I once believed in to oppose same-sex marriage.

Ironically, it was that very summer tour that led me to change my mind and come to support marriage equality. This new tour will serve as a testimony to that change and will seek to spread two messages.

Firstly, that marriage equality is not an ideological issue. Too many see support for gay rights as strictly a liberal issue. That’s a mistake. Supporting the constitutional rights of all citizens is a conservative issue, too.

Secondly, the tour will seek to demonstrate to conservative legislators across the country that more and more people are coming to support marriage equality. Eventually, that truth will start reflecting changes among conservatives, too. If I, an opinionated conservative can change my mind, it won’t be long before many other conservatives do, too. Not to mention independents.

Video: Tenn. Gov. Haslam spins his quick signing of bill voiding Nashville antigay discrimination ordinance; claims he doesn't know if his own company, Pilot Oil, allows antigay discrimination

(Via towleroad; see blog list)

Fox News chief Roger Ailes had bomb-proof glass installed in office to protect him from gay activists

The Raw Story reports that Roger Ailes, media consultant to Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush before hiring on to Rupert Murdoch to create the Fox News Fear Factory, had bomb-proof glass installed in his office because of fears he would be attacked by gay activists, according to a former colleague.

Dan Cooper, a former managing editor at Fox News, told Rolling Stone for its upcoming June 8th issue that Ailes insisted on having bomb-proof glass installed in his second story office windows in Manhattan.

"They’ll be down there protesting," Ailes allegedly said. "Those gays."

Roger Ailes owns an expansive weekend retreat in Garrison, in the township of Philipstown in Putnam County, New York, where he also owns two newspapers (whose reporters he has apparently had followed and spied on) and is said to bully the owner of a third. Historical fact: George Washington evidently never slept in Garrison but Benedict Arnold did.

Newt Gingrich's Tiffany jewelry fetish mocked by David Letterman, Conan O'Brien

Compare and contrast. AKSARBENT likes the O'Brien version better, though we give Letterman points for going for the tiara over the crown.

No More Down Low: Black LBGT news

Via Joe.My.God (See blog list)

Video: Rich Benjamin explains his New York Times editorial 'Not Going to the Chapel' about why he's boycotting straight marriages

Last Saturday, the New York Times published a guest editorial, Not Going to the Chapel, by Rich Benjamin entitled explaining why he is boycotting the marriages of his friends and relatives, specifically that of Zacharay, his longtime buddy and college classmate.
Though Zach falls into that slim majority, he scolds me for being “peevish.” He says he resents me for blowing off his special day, for putting political beliefs ahead of our friendship and for punishing him for others’ deeds. But screaming zealots aren’t the only obstacles to equal marriage rights; the passivity of good people like Zach who tacitly fortify the inequality of this institution are also to blame.

They’re proof of a double standard: Even well-meaning heterosexuals often describe their own nuptials in deeply personal terms, above and beyond politics, but tend to dismiss same-sex marriage as a political cause, and gay people’s desire to marry as political maneuvering.
In the video below, Benjamin explains why he wrote the column and why he's doing what he's doing.

Oftentimes, when we don't get social change or when we don't get equality in this country, it's not always because of the screaming zealots; sometimes the obstacle to that change is silent, good people who are very passive on an issue and so I feel now my friends will no longer be so silent and so passive.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

NASCAR star Kyle Busch cited in North Carolina for speeding uncontrollably in a Toyota; Queers4Gears' Mike Meyers has something to say about that

OK, we exaggerated a little.

The $450,000 car is really a Lexus LFA. But Toyota does own Lexus.

And yeah, we'll admit if you make us, that although Busch was popped for doing almost three times the 45 mph speed limit, that the car will go 202 mph and Kyle was only doing 128.

Blah, blah, blah.

In any case, Mike Myers, founder of gay NASCAR site Queers4Gears jumped on this right away via the two popular twitter accounts he set up in 2010 to poke fun at Kyle Busch after Busch talked early in that season about softening his abrasive personality.
@OldKyleBusch: Bite me Johnny Law!

@NewKyleBusch: Got confused between mph and kph! It's from Europe! The tach said 2500!. I'm not used to six gears! Top Gear audition!

Tennessee's two recent fits of homophobia may not be the only reasons to avoid the state...

North Carolina Republican Patrick McHenry repeatedly (and falsely) accuses Elizabeth Warren, tapped to head Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, of lying

From AlterNet comes a catalogue of the hypocrisy of Rep. Patrick McHenry, whose campaign paymasters include Wells Fargo (of drug cartel money laundering fame), Bank of America, the ABA and ethically-challenged PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Tuesday, McHenry accused Elizabeth Warren of lying about the advice she gave to Treasury Secretary Tm Geithner and state attorneys-general about foreclosure fraud committed by the very companies whose money propels McHenry's campaigns. The record shows she did no such thing.

Then he accused her of lying about how much time she could schedule for his hearing.

Legendary Omaha invester Warren Buffett, named the top money manager of the 20th Century by the Carson Group, has been an ardent supporter of Elizabeth Warren.

Here's a video she made about the coming collapse of the middle class:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Matt Baume: Marriage News Watch, May 23, 2011

From http://MarriageNewsWatch.com - It's almost all bad news this week, with an anti-gay measure gaining ground in Minnesota, slow progress in New York, a resignation in North Carolina, and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker staking out a position against LGBT hospital visitation.

Map of Joplin tornado path;
gay church trashed during services; gay dance club ok

Just Us dance floor

Just as Sunday night services were beginning, Joplin's gay church, the Spirit of Christ MCC at 2904 E. 20th, was destroyed, as well as the pastor's home, cars, and the cars of other members who were attending services. The congregants hid in the basement and only two were injured.
     Joplin's popular gay bar, Just Us, near West 5th and Main, was not in the path of the F-4 funnel.
    An interactive Google map of the damage is here.

Tonight Frontline looks at Bradley Manning and Julian Assange in WikiSecrets

In March PBS' Frontline broadcast The Private Life of Bradley Manning. Tonight comes WikiSecrets, a chronological account of the leak and an examination of both figures.

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.

What if gay rights advocates went after homophobes using their own tactics?

That's the provocative question Queerty raised in running a series of mock anti-National Organization for Marriage ads in response to the Family Research Council's quick appropriation and misrepresenta­tion of a Queerty post.

Minnesota Senator Al Franken's statement opposing antigay constitutional amendment

The Washington Blade is reporting that Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) has announced his opposition to a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage that will appear on the Minnesota state ballot in the 2012 election.
“Every Minnesotan deserves dignity and equal treatment under the law, and our state’s same-sex couples should have the same right to marry as anyone else — period,” Franken said. “This amendment would do nothing more than write discrimination into our state’s constitution and add to the barriers same-sex couples already face to the full recognition of their families. I’m hopeful that common sense and compassion will prevail and that this amendment will be defeated.”

Hacker Group Anonymous going after US Chamber of Commerce?

Today was the day Anonymous was supposed to launch an attack against the US Chamber of Commerce. Though there have been reports of difficulty accessing the site, AKSARBENT had no trouble in its attempt; in fact, www.uschamber.com loaded faster for us just now than many other sites typically do.

Lady Gaga to Letterman:
'I have a paper route. It's called Born This Way'

And the route of the paper on which Letterman had written a rumor list to ask Gaga about went directly from his desk to her hand and then to her mouth where she literally chewed it up and spit it out.

Nashville gay rights law killed by Tennessee governor; Haslam jumps at chance to sign HB600/SB632; no comment on signing

By Monday, several more members of the board of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry tried to disassociate themselves from HB 600/SB 632 which would nullify Nashville's new LGBT antidiscrimination ordinance. Even the Chamber reversed itself. But none were quick enough to keep antigay Republican Tennessee governor Bill Haslam from pouncing on the opportunity to strip Music City of its freedom to decide for itself on the matter. Haslam is the wealthy heir to the Pilot truck stop and convenience store fortune. In 2008, Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum issued subpoenas to Pilot for investigation of price gouging in the days following Hurricane Ike.

bintibee, Flickr

Monday, May 23, 2011

I-44 closed near Joplin after tornado; Lane and ramp closures from MODOT (MO Dept. of Trans.)

25-30% of Joplin is damaged. Interstate 44 near the city is closed (map here.)

The claim that "70% of Joplin is gone" was based on an inaccurate early estimate by a Red Cross worker.

World Doesn't End: Story, page 4A

AKSARBENT liked this unusually snarky/sanguine Omaha World-Herald headline much better than, say, "Harold Camping Lays An Egg: The Sequel."
    And may we remind our ungrateful readers how very lucky they are to live in a city with a Sunday Newspaper costing less than half the price of the New York Times, and which also provides them with headlines that can be strung together to form a cogent narrative, like those poetic refrigerator magnets.

Video of gay slur: Chicago Bull's Joakim Noah pulls a Kobe Bryant: F * * * YOU, F * * * * *

Well, at least he had the presence of mind to direct his two f-bombs at a fan, not an NBA official. 

Minnesota Republicans who defend traditional marriage but don't practice it

Andy Birkey, of the Minnesota Independent, takes note of the divorced Minnesota Republicans who are defending marriage from same sex couples. Till death do you part!
  • Sen. Pam Wolf, R-Spring Lake Park, was divorced in 2000.
  • Alexandria Republican Rep. Mary Franson got divorced earlier this year.
  • Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, was divorced in 1994.
  • The campaign website of Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, notes his divorce.
  • Court records matched the name, date of birth and city of Rep. Doug Wardlow, R-Eagan, for a divorce in 2005.
  • Rep. Tom Hackbarth, R-Cedar, is legally separated from his wife, which was revealed last November when he was stopped by the police in a Planned Parenthood parking lot with a gun in his vehicle looking for a woman he found on the Internet.
  • Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, is listed as divorced on her legislator biography page.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

New York is world's top gay tourist destination and David Letterman couldn't be happier

Quick, someone give the Omaha World-Herald a copy of Maine's statutes

Last Tuesday, the Omaha World-Herald, reporting on GOP redistricting shenanigans in Nebraska (presided over by TransCanada's little helper, State Sen. Chris Langemeier of Schuyler — the Unicameral's answer to Dick Cheney) made the following pronouncement:
The state [Nebraska] has a unique system of awarding an electoral vote to the highest vote-getter in each congressional district — a system Republicans have been trying to change since 2008.
Ah, "unique" means singular; one of a kind. So, is Nebraska's system (called the Congressional District Method) really unique? Let's compare it to oh, say, Maine's, shall we?
Nebraska: "Each congressional district presidential elector shall cast his or her ballot for the presidential and vice-presidential candidates who received the highest number of votes in his or her congressional district."

Maine: "The presidential electors of each congressional district shall cast their ballots for the presidential and vice-presidential candidates who received the largest number of votes in each respective congressional district."

AKSARBENT's point is this: any reporter can make a mistake, but the fact that Nebraska shares with Maine the distinction of being able to split its electoral votes is not an obscure fact. Google "split electoral vote" for Pete's sake.

The World-Herald should have corrected this by now.

But it hasn't.

Minnesota GOP House Speaker Kurt Zellers censors all reference to antigay pastor's invocation in legislative record

Zellers' Soviet Politburo approach to maintaining official Minnesota legislative records

Friday's Minnesota House invocation by GOP-invited homophobic Minnesota pastor Bradlee Dean has been struck from the body's official record by GOP Speaker Kurt Zellers, who said, "It was my decision, and I stand by my decision," according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
     Dean's invocation precipitated such a hue and cry among members of both parties that the GOP had to restart the session with a do-over by Rev. Grady St. Dennis, the House chaplain. The official House journal now lists only St. Dennis as offering the Friday prayer.
   The following day, the Minnesota House GOP voted to put a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage to Minnesota's voters.

The Minnesota Star-Tribune reported:
...On Sunday, Democrats entered a "protest and dissent" in that same Journal "over the actions that occurred on Friday," said Rep. Michael Paymar, DFL-St. Paul.
     "There are no do-overs," Paymar said. "Mr. Dean brought dishonor to the Minnesota House of Representatives."
     Zellers' decision to expunge mention of Dean from the record of the House meant, "there is no history of the shame that that man caused to this body."

Meet Embraer, board member of anti-gay Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Embraer, one of the board members of the Tennessee CoC that lobbied for legislation to kill Nashville's LBGT rights ordinance, is a Brazilian aircraft manufacturer which makes uncomfortably small commuter planes favored by Continental Airlines and its feeders.

In the wake of the Tennessee Senate's passage of statewide legislation outlawing municipal gay rights ordinances, Embraer has remained arrogantly silent on its role as a Tennessee CoC board member.

In Nashville, Embraer runs a aircraft maintenance facility. In March of 2011 that facility was described by a anonymous poster who identified as a contractor in a Nashville "Best of the Web" review as follows: "one of the worst sweatshops i ever worked in. no regard for saftey."

How uncomfortable are Embraer jets? Listen to Craig Ferguson describe his experience as a passenger in one...

Third arrest made in El Paso Old Plantation beating

Three of the six men suspected of beating 22-year-old Lionel Martinez outside an El Paso gay club, Old Plantation, have now been arrested. The third was Ivan Gallardo, 17, who was charged with aggravated assault and taken in custody on a $50,000 bond. Martinez, who his sister says isn't gay, was beaten May 7 while waiting for her outside the club. He is still in a medically induced coma. Roman Olvera, 19, was arrested earlier in connection with the beating and charged with aggravated assault. A juvenile, age 16, also has been charged.
Ivan Gallardo

Roman Olvera

Who voted for Minnesota's anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment?

J. Stephen Conn, Flickr
From the website of the Minnesota Legislature...

70 YEA and 62 Nay

Date: 5/21/2011

Journal Page -- * Please see the Journal of the House for official recorded roll call votes.

Those who voted in the affirmative were:

Abeler Anderson, B. Anderson, D. Anderson, P. Anderson, S.
Banaian Barrett Beard Benson, M. Bills
Buesgens Cornish Crawford Daudt Davids
Dean Dettmer Dittrich Doepke Downey
Drazkowski Erickson Fabian Franson Garofalo
Gottwalt Gruenhagen Gunther Hackbarth Hamilton
Hancock Holberg Hoppe Howes Kieffer
Kiel Kiffmeyer Koenen Lanning Leidiger
LeMieur Lohmer Loon Mack Mazorol
McDonald McElfatrick McFarlane McNamara Murdock
Myhra Nornes O'Driscoll Peppin Petersen, B.
Quam Runbeck Sanders Schomacker Scott
Shimanski Stensrud Swedzinski Torkelson Urdahl
Vogel Wardlow Westrom Woodard Zellers

Those who voted in the negative were:

Anzelc Atkins Benson, J. Brynaert Carlson
Clark Davnie Eken Falk Fritz
Gauthier Greene Greiling Hansen Hausman
Hayden Hilstrom Hilty Hornstein Hortman
Hosch Huntley Johnson Kahn Kath
Kelly Knuth Kriesel Laine Lenczewski
Lesch Liebling Lillie Loeffler Mahoney
Mariani Marquart Melin Moran Morrow
Mullery Murphy, E. Murphy, M. Murray Nelson
Norton Paymar Pelowski Persell Peterson, S.
Poppe Rukavina Scalze Simon Slawik
Slocum Smith Thissen Tillberry Wagenius
Ward Winkler

 A map of the vote is here.

GOP catfight: New Hampshire Republican says Iowa Republicans are too crazy to be taken seriously

Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican Party, thinks that the Iowa Republican Party has stepped too far off the curb to be taken seriously. Here is what he wrote in the Manchester Union-Leader and the Des Moines Register:
A Public Policy Polling survey found that 48 percent of Iowa Republicans don't believe President Obama was born in the United States, and another 26 percent said they weren't sure if he was or if he wasn't. It's hard to talk about real issues when three quarters of the audience wears tinfoil hats.

How stupid do Nissan and Deborah K. Wooley think gay people are?

Nissan, a board member of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, just presided over that organization's successful lobbying effort to pass SB632, which would kill Nashville's ordinance protecting its LGBT residents.

Here is the double-talk the company just released about its actions:
We believe that consistent statewide employment standards, rather than a cumbersome array of local laws and ordinances, are essential to maintaining our state’s economic competitiveness. However, HB600/SB632 has become more closely associated with eroding civil liberties than fostering a strong business climate and this we do not support. "
Get it? Nissan doesn't mind the collateral damage to tens of thousands of gay Nashville citizens when the State of Tennessee invalidates a Music City law to ensure "consistency" but it really hates it when you have a bad perception of Nissan because of what it supported as a board member of the Tennessee CoC.

Gee, clever deception must be in Nissan's DNA. Here's what you'll see on Nissan's web site when you attempt to compare the fuel economy of a gas-guzzling Nissan Frontier (made in Smyrna, TN) to that of a similar Ford Ranger. Bear in mind that the Nissan only gets 19/23 MPG while the Ford gets 22/27. Obviously an honest comparison wouldn't be in Nissan's best interest here, so it leverages the fact that Frontiers have bigger tanks (which they obviously need) to mislead shoppers:

Click to enlarge

But we digress.

How nasty are the people behind the bill that the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce officially lobbied for on behalf of board members Alcoa, AT&T, Nissan, FedEx, Pfizer, Comcast, DuPont, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Caterpillar, KPMG. Whirlpool, Embraer, and United HealthCare?

Well, here's one of the television ads aired by the so-called "Family Action Council" of Tennessee, implying that protecting gay and transgendered people amounts to sanctioning child molestation.

As if one needed further proof of the banality of the Family Action Council's evil, here is the commercial they changed to black-and-white as it was first broadcast in 2008 by a group peddling similar class hatred in Florida:

The President of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry is one Deborah K. Woolley. Why not let her know what you think of her Chamber of Commerce's political alignment with a group which crudely and viciously vilified an entire class of people on television? Do you think she's doing an effective job at showcasing Tennessee as a desirable place to do business? Or is she a crypto-Anita Bryant emblematic of an increasingly nasty state whose products should be boycotted by millions of people?

Deborah K. Woolley
President, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Saturday, May 21, 2011

ALCOA: 'We do not agree with the chamber on this issue and would ask that the governor veto the bill'

Americablog, which broke this story and continues to cover it like a blanket, reports that ALCOA, the Pittsburgh-based aluminum producer and member of the board of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, has now publicly repudiated HB 600/SB 632, a Tennessee state law which would strike down Nashville's recently-enacted gay rights protections and preclude the enactment of other similar laws by Tennessee municipalities.
     The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce lobbied for the law after secret meetings with right-wing religious activists in Tennessee. Other board members who have issued statements are AT&T, Nissan and FedEx (a senior vice president of which gave a large contribution to the antigay Prop 8 campaign in California and which disingenuously refers to itself as a mere "member" of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce when in fact FedEx has a seat on the board.) None of those companies has repudiated the law. Their statements are sheer PR.
     Other board members of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce (Comcast, DuPont, Pfizer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Caterpillar, KPMG, Whirlpool, Embraer, and United HealthCare) didn't even bother to issue press releases about the matter. (Of course if you're Caterpillar, supplying multimillion-dollar equipment to oil companies strip-mining an England-sized chunk of the pristeen forests of Alberta, Canada to get at tar sands oil, why would the concerns of gay people matter to you? They're really not your primary customers, are they?)
     On the other hand, Pfizer's drugs (like Viagra) have many worthy competitors (like Cialis) manufactured by companies which aren't lobbying for laws which squelch local gay rights ordinances...

Rachel Maddow: Hijacked Republican caucuses turning Iowa into antigay, fundamentalist irrelevant sideshow

When it comes to electing a president, Iowa as a state cherishes its first-in-the-nation role, but in recent years, Iowa Republican caucuses have been so hijacked by single-issue antigay politics and religious fundamentalists that Iowa is sort of becoming an irrelevant sideshow in the presidential race, rather than being a bell weather.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Nissan, other Tennessee Chamber of Commerce board members successfully lobby legislature for law killing Nashville's gay rights ordinance
Car shopping? Get a Ford instead of a Nissan!

Americablog has reported on the active lobbying by the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce for a bill just passed by that state's senate repealing current, and banning future, municipal civil rights laws in the state.

The BOARD of the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, which signed off on this, includes Nissan, FedEx, AT&T, Comcast, DuPont, Pfizer, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Caterpillar, KPMG. Whirlpool, Embraer, Alcoa, and United HealthCare.

The new state law will nullify Nashville's recent law protecting its gay residents.

Nissan's Smyrna, Tennessee plant produces the Nissan Altima, Nissan Maxima, Nissan Xterra, Nissan Frontier and Nissan Pathfinder.

AKSARBENT's advice? Buy a Ford. (Which is much more palatable now that the jingoistic Toby Keith has been replaced by San Francisco resident Mike Rowe in Ford's television ads.)

Having recently shopped for small pickups, AKSARBENT knows whereof it speaks, kids. The Nissan Frontier, for example, is rather expensive and gets terrible mileage. We chose instead a new Ford Ranger which gets the most MPG to be had in a small truck and is downright cheap. Also, Ford has as good a record of supporting its LBGT stakeholders as you will find in the auto industry.

A pox on Nissan, the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce, and the senate it manipulates.

2011 Ford Ranger

AKSARBENT asks its readers: Why in the world would you pay substantially more for a gas-guzzling Nissan small pickup made in increasingly homophobic Tennessee when you could have a smart-looking 2011 Ford Ranger for less than $13,900? (That's what we paid in January.)
     Before choosing Ford, we called a local Nissan dealer to follow up on an Internet ad for a great deal on a Versa.
     The Nissan salesman quoted a much higher price and feigned ignorance about his dealership's lower advertised price. When we called his attention to the disparity, he said (and we quote) "Well, it's a car dealership!" What we heard was: "Yes, you're being lied to by a Nissan dealer, but hear us out!"
     An Omaha Ford Dealership (Atchley), on the other hand, sold us a brand new Ranger at a ridiculously low advertised price (with no bullshit) and even waived the ad's stipulation that the vehicle had to be financed through Ford, as we wanted to pay cash. (Lest you think AKSARBENT is being a total tool, we should mention that we weren't too happy with the inflated "documentation fee" for the Ranger...)

"Don't Say Gay" bill, SB0049 passes Tennessee's Senate 19-11

A breakdown of the vote by senator appears not to have been posted yet on the Tennesee Legislature's website. Keep checking here. Aksarbent has another post on Tennessee's recent anti-gay legislative spree here.

The Tennessee Equality Project (TEP) reports on the text of the final version. House approval is not expected this year.
The bill including its amendment in purple now reads:

AN ACT to amend Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 49, Chapter 6, Part 10, relative to education. 


SECTION 1.  Tennessee Code Annotated, Section 49-6-1005, is amended by adding 
the following as new subsection (c) and by relettering the existing subsection (c) accordingly: 


(1) The general assembly recognizes the sensitivity of particular subjects that are best explained and discussed in the home.  Human sexuality is a complex subject with societal, scientific, psychological, and historical implications; those implications are best understood by children with sufficient maturity to grasp their complexity. 

(2)  Notwithstanding any other law to the contrary, any instruction or materials made available or provided at or to a public elementary or middle school shall be limited exclusively to natural human reproduction science.  The provisions of this subdivision shall also apply to a group or organization that provides instruction in natural human reproduction science in public elementary or middle schools   

SECTION 2.  This act shall take effect upon becoming a law, the public welfare requiring it.

Tennessee Equality Project observes that the amended version of SB0049 no longer makes direct reference to sexual orientation. However, SB0049 and its House companion (HB0229) remain a threat to safe schools in Tennessee. The State House of Representatives is expected to review HB0229 as early as January of 2012. TEP will continue to advocate against both versions of the Don't Say Gay Bill.

Minnesota House speaker is SHOCKED by Bradlee Dean's tirade/prayer; says he'll never allow it again

The Minnesota Independent reports on the reaction of Republican House Speaker Kurt Zeller to well-known homophobic zealot Bradlee Dean's invocation to the Minnesota House, after being invited to be House Chaplain for the day by that state's GOP. Bradlee has said that the average gay person is a sexual predator responsible for 117 molestations before he is found out.
     Despite his subsequent backpedaling, Zeller did not sound shocked or outraged at all in the video below when, after Dean's invocation, he introduced Dean to the members of the house and identified his church. Hours later, after fuming house members of both parties had another chaplain conduct an invocation do-over, Zeller had a sudden change of heart:
“Earlier today there was a prayer given by a man I personally denounce. The decorum and dignity of this body is my responsibility. I did not live up to that responsibility today. For that, I apologize. This is the people’s House. Each member deserves the dignity and respect of all of us,” he said. “Members I can only ask for your forgiveness. That type of person will never ever be allowed on this House floor again as long as I have the honor of serving as speaker.”

Zeller apparently preapproved Dean's appearance.

Minnesota Public Radio reported that it was Rep. Ernie Leidiger, R-Mayer who requested the appearance of Dean, Minnesota's most virulent homophobe, to give the prayer. The Minnesota House web site notes that in his office, Leidiger prominently displays an American flag propped up in a coffee cup promoting the Tea Party Patriots, an astroturf organization funded by the Koch Brothers.

UPDATE: More GOP buck passing: Fox News 9 is saying that Leidiger claims someone from Dean's ministry requested the invite. He says he only knew of Dean's past work educating students on constitutional issues and not his controversial antigay past remarks.

Of course he didn't. Why would a tea party activist like Leidiger have any idea that like-minded political nutcases in Minnesota held homophobic views? He must have been in the bathroom when the news coverage of Deans' antigay views flooded Minnesota's airwaves! He must not have seen the print coverage or the internet postings. He must have missed them all!

Because Dean is SO much more famous in Minnesota for his work educating students on constitutional views than for his vicious defamation of and violent exhortations against gay people...

AKSARBENT totally believes you, Mr. Leidiger. And we stand with you with all the loyal tenacity of your Republican colleague Kurt Zeller, after he sticks a wet finger into the winds of prevailing political opinion.

Ernie Leidiger, R-Mayer
415 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55155
E-mail: rep.ernie.leidiger@house.mn

Gay USA, May 17, 2011

The Atlanta law firm that agreed to defend DOMA on behalf of the US House pulls out of the case. A brutal beating of a transgendered woman at a Maryland McDonald's is videotaped and goes viral. 300 protested at the McDonald's, including the victim's mom and grandmother. The proponents of California's Prop 8 have moved to overturn Judge Vaughn Walker's decision declaring it unconstitutional because of his personal life. An indictment of Tyler Clementi's roommate at Rutgers over his streaming webcam of Clementi's sexual encounter with another man just prior to Clementi's suicide. An arrest of a rightwing pastor as an accessory to kidnapping of the daughter in the Jenkins-Miller custody case. Moscow Pride MAY finally be getting a green light. "Stonewall Uprising" premiered on PBS's American Experience this past week. We will review the Broadway productions of "War Horse" at Lincoln Center, the new musical "Wonderland" and the just-closed "High" with Kathleen Turner   A suppressed report on how New York City museums censored LGBT content is unearthed at http://outhistory.org/wiki/OutHistory.org_Releases_Unpublished_Art_Repor.

Liberty University graduate's homophobia costs LAPD $1,165,215

The Los Angeles Times is reporting a $1.1 million sexual harassment/retaliation payout (presumably not including department legal fees) over treatment of Sgt. Ronald Crump by Lt. John Romero, his direct supervisor. Apparently this financial and professional debacle is the result of the kind of education he received at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University, which received $445,000,000 in federal financial aid last year, according to Alex Parene at Salon. (That's $25,000,000 more than the government gave to NPR.)
     The massive sum was thanks to the growth of Liberty's online program, which enrolled 52,000 students last year. The school is the largest recipient of Pell grant money in the state of Virginia.

Lt. John Romero, LAPD,
Latin American Law
Enforcement Assoc.
"Lt. John Romero -- made derogatory remarks about his homosexuality. Romero, who has since been promoted to captain, allegedly described him as "the new Ruby minus the heels," in reference to the woman he replaced in the unit.
On another occasion, Romero allegedly told him, "I was a religion major at Liberty University. Jerry Falwell would roll over in his grave if he knew I had hired you."

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Is Michele Bachmann smarter than a tenth-grader?

Thousands of people on the facebook page "Ask Michele Bachmann to debate Amy Myers" apparently would like to find out.

The Cherry Hills, New Jersey high school student supposedly wrote the following open letter to Bachmann, although some Republicans are questioning her authorship, saying it was a little too polished.) This may or not be true, but none of these doubters seemed to have a problem with the suspicious written eloquence of Sarah Palin's otherwise rather dull teenage daughter.

Aksarbent thinks Amy Myers could have written it, though it does seem a couple notches better than most of the prose on her blog. We noticed two sentences which should have been edited: the one  containing the redundancy "factually incorrect" and the one which began "Hopefully," which is not music to the ears of grammar traditionalists.

And now the eviscerating letter, which Bachmann, the cynically fast, loose and self-serving progenitor of airhead agitprop, richly deserved:
Dear Representative Bachmann,

My name is Amy Myers. I am a Cherry Hill, New Jersey sophomore attending Cherry Hill High School East. As a typical high school student, I have found quite a few of your statements regarding The Constitution of the United States, the quality of public school education and general U.S. civics matters to be factually incorrect, inaccurately applied or grossly distorted. The frequency and scope of these comments prompted me to write this letter.

Though I am not in your home district, or even your home state, you are a United States Representative of some prominence who is subject to national media coverage. News outlets and websites across this country profile your causes and viewpoints on a regular basis. As one of a handful of women in Congress, you hold a distinct privilege and responsibility to better represent your gender nationally. The statements you make help to serve an injustice to not only the position of Congresswoman, but women everywhere. Though politically expedient, incorrect comments cast a shadow on your person and by unfortunate proxy, both your supporters and detractors alike often generalize this shadow to women as a whole.

Rep. Bachmann, the frequent inability you have shown to accurately and factually present even the most basic information about the United States led me to submit the follow challenge, pitting my public education against your advanced legal education:

I, Amy Myers, do hereby challenge Representative Michele Bachmann to a Public Forum Debate and/or Fact Test on The Constitution of the United States, United States History and United States Civics.

Hopefully, we will be able to meet for such an event, as it would prove to be enlightening.

Sincerely yours,
Amy Myers

Monday, May 16, 2011

Marriage News Watch; Matt Baume: May 16th

Merrick County reconsiders support of TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline

The Merrick County Board, which voted last month to write a letter supporting TransCanada's proposed Keystone XL pipeline (now under State Department review) will vote again on the issue May 24, Chairman Roger Wiegert has told The Grand Island Independent.