Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mainstream media silent so far about lesbian couple who rescued 40 teens from Norway massacre

Pulling someone out of the water is being a good Samaritan. Doing so while someone with a rifle is trying to pick you off, is authentically heroic (i.e., saving other people's lives at the risk of your own.) We at AKSARBENT think these two girls meet the strictest definition of the word in an age when it seems rather promiscuously applied. Diane Sawyer and Brian Williams, please take note.

From Band of Thebes:
Hege Dalen and Toril Hansen [adidas] were eating at their campsite when they heard shots and screams across the water. Did they run and hide? No, they're lesbians, so they jumped in their boat and sped toward the slaughter. The women pulled terrified teens from the water and the rocky coast as the insane far-right gunman shot through their vessel... Hege and Toril ferried the group to safety, then hurried back to the massacre, rescuing another boatload. Then they did it yet again. And still again. Altogether in their four trips they saved forty people from the scene where seventy-six died.

Norway
photo: Maija Tammi/HS

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Internet privacy: snooping bill advanced in House; Chuck Grassley (R-IA) sponsors similar bill in Senate; assault on consumer privacy; increases data breach risks; police organizations back bill

The National Sheriff’s Association, the Major County Sheriff’s Association, the International Union of Police Associations and the Fraternal Order of Police are backing a bill in the house which would force ISPs to retain customers' names, addresses, phone numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and temporarily-assigned IP addresses for 12 months.
     CNET reports that the so-called "Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011 (H.R. 1981)" was sponsored by House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL).
     Xbiz Newswire reports that a Senate version of the measure — S. 1308 — was introduced June 30 by Utah Republican Orrin Hatch and cosponsored by Republican Senators Charles Grassley of Iowa and Jeff Sessions of Alabama, and Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
     The Raw Story quotes Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, which advanced the bill 19-10: "The bill is mislabeled. This is not protecting children from Internet pornography. It's creating a database for everybody in this country for a lot of other purposes."
     The Electronic Frontier Foundation had this to say about the bill:
"The data retention mandate in this bill would treat every Internet user like a criminal and threaten the online privacy and free speech rights of every American, as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have recognized," Senior Staff Attorney Kevin Bankston of the Electronic Frontier Foundation said.
     "Requiring Internet companies to redesign and reconfigure their systems to facilitate government surveillance of Americans' expressive activities is simply un-American. Such a scheme would be as objectionable to our Founders as the requiring of licenses for printing presses or the banning of anonymous pamphlets."
That's My Congress reports the roll call of the vote in the House Judiciary Committee in favor of H.R. 1981′s expansion of online surveillance through private internet service providers revealed the following "yes" votes:
Lamar Smith, Howard Coble, Elton Gallegly, Bob Goodlatte, Dan Lungren, Steve Chabot, Randy Forbes, Steve King, Trent Franks, Tim Griffin, Thomas Marino, Trey Gowdy, Dennis Ross, Sandy Adams, Howard Berman, Sheila Jackson Lee, Pedro Pierluisi, Mike Quigley, Ted Deutch

The bill is opposed by the following groups, which signed on to an ACLU letter opposing the bill:

Advocacy for Principled Action in Government
American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
American Civil Liberties Union
American Library Association
Association of Research Libraries
Bill of Rights Defense committee
Center for Democracy & Technology
Center for Digital Democracy
Center for Financial Privacy and Human Rights
Center for Media and Democracy
Center for National Security Studies
Consumer Action
Consumer Federation of America
Consumer Watchdog
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Defending Dissent Foundation
Demand Progress
DownsizeDC.org, Inc.
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Electronic Privacy Information Center
Friends of Privacy USA
Liberty Coalition
Muslim Public Affairs Council
National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
National Workrights Institute
Patient Privacy Rights
Privacy Activism
Privacy Journal, Robert Ellis Smith, Publisher
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
World Privacy Forum

Friday, July 29, 2011

Red Willow, Nebraska supercell provides dazzling rave light show



In the early morning hours of June 20, 2011, photographer Stephen Locke documented this incredibly prolific, lightning-producing supercell thunderstorm at Red Willow Lake, 10 miles north of McCook, NE. (Via DavidMixner.com)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Michele Bachmann again dismisses federal funding questions about her quack 'Christian counseling' clinic



When it suits her convenience, Michele Bachmann incessantly casts herself as a "job creater." When questions about the jobs she claims to have created become more specific (i.e., "If you're so good at job creation why did you take tens of thousands of federal dollars in job training?") she refuses to answer the question.

In this video, she arrogantly dismisses two such related questions.

The first question she refused to answer was about the validity of ex-gay 'therapy.'

Michele Bachmann can run, but she can't hide from the verdict of mainstream professional organizations on what she and her charlatan husband perpetrate, at taxpayer expense (both in job creation funding and in paying for the "treatment" dispensed by the Bachman clinic to its gay victims, some of which may be are minors and may be coerced by their families.)

The below reminders of what respected professional groups think of so-called "reparative therapy" were compiled and published by Jeremy Hooper of Good As You here.

American Medical Association: "opposes,  the use of "reparative" or "conversion" therapy that is based upon the  assumption that homosexuality per se is a mental disorder or based upon  the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her  homosexual orientation"
AMA Policy Regarding Sexual Orientation [AMA]

***

American Counseling Association Ethics Committee: Clients  may ask for a specific treatment from a counseling professional because  they have heard about it from either their religious community or from  popular culture. A counselor, however, only provides treatment that is  scientifically indicated to be effective or has a theoretical framework  supported by the profession. Otherwise, counselors inform clients that  the treatment is "unproven" or "developing" and provide an explanation  of the "potential risks and ethical considerations of using such  techniques/procedures and take steps to protect clients from possible  harm" (Standard C.6.e., "Scientific Bases for Treatment Modalities").

Considering all the above deliberation, the ACA Ethics Committee  strongly suggests that ethical professional counselors do not refer  clients to someone who engages in conversion therapy or, if they do, to  proceed cautiously only when they are certain that the referral  counselor fully informs clients of the unproven nature of the treatment  and the potential risks and takes steps to minimize harm to clients  (also see Standard A.2.b., "Types of Information Needed"). This  information also must be included in written informed consent material  by those counselors who offer conversion therapy despite ACA's position  and the Ethics Committee's statement in opposition to the treatment. To  do otherwise violates the spirit and specifics of the ACA Code of  Ethics.

Exploring ethical issues related to conversion or reparative therapy [ACA]

***

American Academy of Pediatrics: The  terms reparative therapy and sexual orientation conversion therapy  refer to counseling and psychotherapy aimed at eliminating or  suppressing homosexuality. The most important fact about these  “therapies” is that they are based on a view of homosexuality that has  been rejected by all the major mental health professions. The Diagnostic  and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American  Psychiatric Association, which defines the standards of the field, does  not include homosexuality. All other major health professional  organizations have supported the American Psychiatric Association in its  declassification of homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973. Thus,  the idea that homosexuality is a mental disorder or that the emergence  of same-sex attraction and orientation
among some adolescents is in any way abnormal or mentally unhealthy  has no support among any mainstream health and mental health  professional organizations.

The idea that homosexuality is a mental disorder or that the  emergence of same-sex attraction and orientation among some adolescents  is in any way abnormal or mentally unhealthy has no support among any  mainstream health and mental health professional organizations.

Despite the general consensus of major medical, health, and mental  health professions that both heterosexuality and homosexuality are  normal expressions of human sexuality, efforts to change sexual  orientation through therapy have been adopted by some political and  religious organizations and aggressively promoted to the public.  However, such efforts have serious potential to harm young people  because they present the view that the sexual orientation of lesbian,  gay, and bisexual youth is a mental illness or disorder, and they often  frame the inability to change one’s sexual orientation as a personal and  moral failure.

Because of the aggressive promotion of efforts to change sexual  orientation through therapy, a number of medical, health, and mental  health professional organizations have issued public statements about  the dangers of this approach. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the  American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association,  the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor  Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the  National Association of Social Workers, together representing more than  480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that  homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that  needs to or can be “cured.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises youth that counseling may  be helpful for you if you feel confused about your sexual identity.  Avoid any treatments that claim to be able to change a person’s sexual  orientation, or treatment ideas that see homosexuality as a sickness.
Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth [APP]

***

The American Psychological Association: The  American Psychological Association adopted a resolution Wednesday  stating that mental health professionals should avoid telling clients  that they can change their sexual orientation through therapy or other  treatments.
The "Resolution on Appropriate  Affirmative Responses to Sexual Orientation Distress and Change Efforts"  also advises that parents, guardians, young people and their families  avoid sexual orientation treatments that portray homosexuality as a  mental illness or developmental disorder and instead seek psychotherapy,  social support and educational services "that provide accurate  information on sexual orientation and sexuality, increase family and  school support and reduce rejection of sexual minority youth."
The approval, by APA's governing Council of Representatives, came at  APA's annual convention, during which a task force presented a report  that in part examined the efficacy of so-called "reparative therapy," or  sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE).

"Contrary to claims of sexual orientation change advocates and  practitioners, there is insufficient evidence to support the use of  psychological interventions to change sexual orientation," said Judith  M. Glassgold, PsyD, chair of the task force. "Scientifically rigorous  older studies in this area found that sexual orientation was unlikely to  change due to efforts designed for this purpose. Contrary to the claims  of SOCE practitioners and advocates, recent research studies do not  provide evidence of sexual orientation change as the research methods  are inadequate to determine the effectiveness of these interventions."  Glassgold added: "At most, certain studies suggested that some  individuals learned how to ignore or not act on their homosexual  attractions. Yet, these studies did not indicate for whom this was  possible, how long it lasted or its long-term mental health effects.  Also, this result was much less likely to be true for people who started  out only attracted to people of the same sex."

Based on this review, the task force recommended that mental health  professionals avoid misrepresenting the efficacy of sexual orientation  change efforts when providing assistance to people distressed about  their own or others' sexual orientation.
Insufficient Evidence that Sexual Orientation Change Efforts Work, Says [American Psychological Association]

***

The British Medical Association: Meeting  at its annual conference in Brighton, has passed a motion saying that  the National Health Service should not fund sexual orientation change  therapy and called on the British Department of Health to investigate  cases where conversion therapy has been funded with NHS money, and to  prevent it happening in future.
British Medical Association: Ex-Gay Therapy Should Not Be Funded By NHS [Box Turtle Bulletin]

Right-wing WHO radio uncritically lets Bob Vander Plaats try to spin his "Good one!" response to fag joke: 'We speak the truth and love.'

Now that Vander Plaats has shown his true colors in an unguarded moment, prompting a boycott of his biggest benefactor, Wells Blue Bunny producer Wells Dairy, he continues to reject accountability for his bare-knuckled politics of intimidation and his calculated exploitation of homophobia.



Watch the video below. What is significant isn't his response to the fag joke, but the cynical way that he first baited the homophobe in Audubon, Iowa by claiming that gay marriage in Iowa is causing the state to be ridiculed elsewhere. (Presumably by other heterosexual supremacists.)

Police war on photography: Rochester, NY edition



When Rochester community activist Emily Good recorded a police arrest with an iPod from her front yard, she was arrested and charged with obstruction of governmental administration.

Mike Mazzeo, president of the Rochester Police Union, excused this misconduct by asserting, "The issue here is the officer's attention was distracted from a potentially very dangerous situation. All she had to do was comply. Go up on her porch. Go into her own house for her own safety."

What the officer in the video said at the time (before arresting Good after she didn't go inside her house) was "I don't feel safe with you standing behind me."

Right. Even though he was armed and at least one other officer was at the scene to protect his back from an unarmed woman viciously and menacing standing in her yard with a lethal iPod.

Notice how the Rochester police can't even get their ridiculous excuses straight. The ridiculous excuse of the officer at the scene was that he didn't feel safe. The ridiculous excuse of the Police Union's Mazzeo was that she needed to comply "for her own safety."

Anyway, if you're ever stupid enough to be exercising what you thought was your right to photograph in the public domain in Rochester, NY and you get arrested, remember Mike Mazzeo's claim that it's for your own safety.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Michele Bachmann ally, pastor Bradlee Dean, who claimed average gay molests 117 kids and adults, sues Rachel Maddow and Minnesota Independent for libel




The Minnesota Independent reports that Pastor and rock musician Bradlee Dean filed suit Wednesday in federal court alleging defamation by the Minnesota Independent as well as MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and her show in reporting the May 15, 2010 installment of Dean's radio show.

Below is a partial transcription of his remarks, as published by the Minnesota independent:
“Muslims are calling for the executions of homosexuals in America,” Dean said on YCR’s May 15 radio show on AM 1280 The Patriot. “This just shows you they themselves are upholding the laws that are even in the Bible of the Judeo-Christian God, but they seem to be more moral than even the American Christians do, because these people are livid about enforcing their laws. They know homosexuality is an abomination.”
“If America won’t enforce the laws, God will raise up a foreign enemy to do just that,” Dean continued. “That is what you are seeing in America.
“The bottom line is this … they [homosexuals] play the victim when they are, in fact, the predator,” Dean said, before going on to make a claim that has no basis in fact: “On average, they molest 117 people before they’re found out. How many kids have been destroyed, how many adults have been destroyed because of crimes against nature?”
On June 4, 2010, the Minnesota Independent published a follow-up article to the one referenced above, in which Dean said he does not support executing homosexuals. Dean specified that he may not have been clear.
The American Independent News Network released the following statement in regards to the Dean press conference in New York City Wednesday morning:
The allegations by Bradlee Dean and You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International (YCR) are completely without merit. The American Independent News Network stands firmly behind our news site, The Minnesota Independent; our reporter, Andy Birkey; as well as their reporting on Dean and his ministry. The complaint describes Birkey as taking “a ‘special interest’ in Plaintiffs Dean and YCR because he is a secularist and/or atheist and gay activist with a politically left ideology who despises people of faith.” However, in giving Birkey and The Minnesota Independent first prize for Best Continuing Coverage of their reporting on YCR, the 2010 judges for the Minnesota Professional Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalist’s Page One Awards stated, “the reporter [Birkey] takes a deep-dive with an even-handed approach into a weighty subject sure to provoke controversy from various standpoints. Leads readers to think about serious public policy and constitutional issues.”
We are confident that the courts will agree that this lawsuit is completely frivolous and is a blatant attempt to chill freedom of the press.
MSNBC’s statement regarding the lawsuit:
This suit is baseless and we stand by our reporting.
Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, who has missed 37% of house votes since formally entering the race, has close ties to Dean Bradlee. Some have called him her Jeremiah Wright. Last May, Mother Jones wrote the following:
Bachmann has helped raise money for Dean’s traveling youth ministry, You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International; guest-starred in his television series; and prayed for his ministry to multiply 10-fold.

...As the Minnesota Independent has chronicled extensively, You Can Run But You Cannot Hide's performances have sparked walkouts from students and public apologies from school administrators, who thought they were spending $1,500 for an anti-drug lecture. (As one student put it, "It seemed like total propaganda. It was like a cult.")

Lee Terry forces rushed decision of toxic Keystone XL pipeline route through Ogallala Aquifer in Nebraska

All Nebraska/Iowa House Republicans voted to fast track the toxic Keystone XL pipeline through the Ogallala Acquifer except Jeff Fortenberry. Clockwise from upper left: Steve King (5th district, Iowa), Adrian Smith (3rd District, Nebraska), Lee Terry (2nd district, Nebraska), Tom Latham (4th District, Iowa), Jeff Fortenberry (1st District, Nebraska)
His bill, HR 1938, which he laughably called the "North American-Made Energy Security Act," was approved 279 to 147. Surprisingly, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry of Lincoln was one of three Republicans who voted against it.

Fortenberry told The Omaha World-Herald:  “This is too serious. I don't think Congress should artificially cut off the time for that important analysis. Additional public hearings have been called, giving citizens the chance to speak on this. I also think that's important.”

As expected, Rep. Adrian Smith voted for fast-tracking the pipeline and against the interests of his Third District constituents who have been bullied by TransCanada over eminent domain and trespassing issues even though the company doesn't yet have a permit.

The bill would require the President to approve or reject the pipeline permit by 11/1/11,

Terry said: "“I'm vastly positive that any leaks that would occur are going to be minimal and not hazardous to the Ogallala Aquifer,” despite the fact that the original Keystone pipeline, to which the XL would be an extension, has leaked about a dozen times in its first year of operation.

On Tuesday, Terry's office was picketed over the issue.

On its website, Bold Nebraska recommended that Nebraskans email, Tweet or write on Terry's Facebook wall letting him know his pipeline bill was reckless.

The following reactions from leaders in Nebraska on Rep. Terry's bill to rush the pipeline were published by Bold Nebraska in its post about the issue:
John Hansen, Nebraska Farmers Union
"...Representative Terry and the House Energy and Commerce Committee want to force the State Department to make a decision without the necessary time to consider and process Nebraska and U.S. citizen and landowner input.  Apparently, they have little regard for the concerns of our landowners and citizens" Hansen concluded. 

Jane Kleeb, Bold Nebraska

"Rep. Terry's reckless bill will only bring regret for America's energy policy and Nebraska landowners.  Instead of encouraging a thorough, scientific analysis on the risks of the Keystone XL to the Ogallala Aquifer, the bill rushes the process.  Last summer's tarsands oil spill in Michigan showed that we cannot blindly trust foreign oil companies to be good stewards of our natural resources.  Rep. Terry should be holding companies like TransCanada accountable and protecting landowners not helping TransCanada bully their way through America's land and water. It is time Terry stands with landowners like Randy and not foreign oil companies like TransCanada. His vote today shows us whose side he is on and its not with Nebraskans."

Ken Winston, Nebraska Sierra Club


"This bill is a partisan attempt to support a foreign corporation and the profiteering of big oil companies. These Washington politicians evidently believe Hillary Clinton and State Department bureaucrats should make a decision about the future of America's most valuable resource, the Ogallala aquifer, without obtaining the necessary scientific input to protect this vulnerable resource. They should instead follow the reasonable recommendations of respected Nebrasa scientists to conduct studies and heed the request of a bipartisan group of Nebraska legislators for time to enact appropriate standards to protect our precious clean, fresh water for our nation's future."
Contact information:

Steve King:
1131 Longworth Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202.225.4426
Fax: 202.225.3193

Tom Latham:
2217 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Toll Free:866-428-5642
Phone: 202-225-5476
Fax: 202-225-3301

Lee Terry:
2331 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-4155 phone
(202)226-5452 fax

Jeff Fortenberry:
1514 Longworth House Office
Washington, DC 20515
p (202) 225-4806
f  (202) 225-5686

Adrian Smith
503 Cannon HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone (202) 225-6435
Fax (202) 225-0207

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Wells Blue Bunny owners sponsored Iowa Family Leader and its vicious anti-gay propaganda, soaked Iowa taxpayers and engaged in criminal school milk price fixing in three states



Note: AKSARBENT's first post about the gay boycott of Wells Blue Bunny was here; the boycott was lauched on facebook because of the longstanding financial enablement by the Wells family of this homophobic Iowa anti-gay activist. A comprehensive "How to" guide to boycotting Wells Blue Bunny will appear by clicking the so-named tab at the top of this page.

The Iowa Family Leader, the PAC of which received at least $25,000 from Wells Blue Bunny owners, is well known for disseminating nasty propaganda by discredited homophobic academics like Paul Cameron as well as junk statistics and biased studies unpublished and untouchable by responsible professional organizations. The video above shows the down-and-dirty underbelly of Bob Vander Plaats' organization.

But gay people aren't the only ones Wells Blue Bunny's owners exploit.
The South Plant was designed to produce a new low-fat, low-sodium dessert created jointly by Wells' Dairy and Omaha's ConAgra, as well as to expand Wells ice cream production by some 20 million gallons annually. The new plant [1992] was built with the aid of a $600,000 forgivable loan to Wells' Dairy from the Iowa Department of Economic Development. Since the new plant planned to employ some 245 new workers, government officials offered the incentive to promote Iowa's economic health. However, some critics referred to the loan derisively as a form of corporate welfare...
  
Mike Wells, CEO of Wells Dairy,
Inc., and friend/funder of Bob
Vander Plaats' campaign to recall
all Iowa Supreme Court Justices
In 1997 the company pled guilty to federal charges of fixing milk prices in contracts with Minnesota, South Dakota, and Iowa school districts from 1986 to 1992. In this case, heard in the U.S. District Court in St. Paul, the dairy accepted a $1 million criminal fine and agreed to cooperate with investigations into price fixing in the dairy industry. The company also agreed to negotiate restitution settlements with the school districts, while prosecutors agreed not to bring criminal charges against any company leaders.
Wells' luxurious current corporate headquarters was built in 2005 at a cost of $30,000,000. Legislators had hoped that government subsidies for the well-heeled firm would be taken care of by tax credits through the New Jobs and Income Program, which helped "needy" companies like Wells Dairy by exempting them from sales and use taxes on building materials for new capital investments.

But that wasn't enough for the greedy Wells family, which had threatened to build the company's HQ in Nebraska or South Dakota. As the Cedar Valley Courier reported:
Wells' officials, however, have indicated they would prefer to lease their new building. Legislators say they want to expand the tax incentive program to companies that lease their buildings, a growing business trend.
     Rants said state economic development officials were in his office Monday morning asking for the changes to the incentive program, and lawmakers have put the issue on the fast track with the goal of getting it done by the end of the week.
     "Wells' Blue Bunny is supposed to be making their decision in the very near future, and we want to make sure the Department of Economic Development has as many tools in the tool box as they think they need," Rants said....
     The Iowa Values Fund board is scheduled to meet Thursday, and it is possible other incentives for Wells' could be on the agenda.
How to boycott Wells Blue Bunny
 
Wells Dairy makes not only its own Blue Bunny brand products but produces ice cream and other items for Con-Agra, Pillsbury's Haagen-Dazs line, General Mills, Weight Watchers, and Walt Disney Company.
     The dairy's products include Mickey Mouse bars, Mississippi Mud, Health Smart, The Champ, Bomb Pops, Pink Panther, and Cyberbyte. Store brands made by Wells Dairy include Great Value, Hy-Vee, Fareway (reputedly owned by the wealthy Mormon Beckwith family which donates generously to antigay politicians like Sam Brownback), Shurfresh and Country Rich.
     Well's products are carried by facilities management services company Sodexo. A poster on the Boycott Blue Bunny facebook page recommends writing to Sodexo and urging them to drop Wells products.
     Ben and Jerry's and Anderson-Erickson (of Des Moines) are good choices for Iowans boycotting Wells Dairy.

Justin Bieber, dad, get matching tatoos

Justin Bieber, a.k.a. the singing fetus or Canadian Jesus, — take your pick — doesn't interest AKSARBENT at all. We were checking out his old man, who looks like he could be a lot of fun sometime if, say, he were to drink enough Vodka Stingers to temporarily forget he is heterosexual.

Matt Baume: Marriage News Watch, 7/25/2011

Stephen Colbert: 'Gentlemen, point your crotches at the TV. Because they're about to get empowered.'

Miami Beach to fire two cops for beating and falsely charging gay tourist of trying to break into cars after he called 911 to report them beating a man and kicking his head like 'a football'

David Smiley and Steve Rothaus report that City Commissioner Michael Góngora said he was told by Miami Beach’s city manager that the city intends to kick officers Frankly Forte and Eliut Hazzi off the police force.

Sgt. Alejandro Bello, president of the Miami Beach chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, said Hazzi and Forte are being fired unjustly.

Bello said the officers were doing their jobs, and said Strickland’s story that he was checking out his old neighborhood at 1 a.m. wasn’t believable.

Michele Bachmann's deep ties to 'no homo promo' policy of Minn. school district; epidemic of gay teen suicides

Mother Jones reports on Michele Bachmann's support of what is essentially a carbon copy of Tennessee's "don't say gay" initiative in the Anoka-Hennepin school district, the largest in Minnesota, which is inside her congressional district. CNN aired an excellent report on this issue; now, so has MSNBC:


(Via towleroad; see blog list.)

Wells Blue Bunny: bankrolling bigotry; boycott launched following Vander Plaats refusal to apologize for 'Good one!' reaction to fag joke

On December 8th of last year, AKSARBENT reported the Vander Plaats-Wells Blue Bunny connection by noting, in passing, that "the finance chairman of the Vander Plaats for Governor Council of Advisors was Mike Wells, then-President of Demand Group at his family's business, Wells' Blue Bunny Dairy, in Le Mars, Iowa." This prompted one reader to comment "And I just ate my last spoonful of Wells Blue Bunny Ice Cream."

Apparently, that sentiment is spreading. A Boycott Blue Bunny facebook page, put up days ago, already has about 95,000 likes and 2000 posts, one of which urges people to also boycott store brands made by Wells Dairy, such as Great Value, Hy-Vee, Fareway, Shurfresh and Country Rich.

The Iowa Independent reported that Dean Genth of Mason City, the president of the Iowa Coalition of PFLAG Chapters, started the boycott of Blue Bunny ice cream and dairy products following Vander Plaats' refusal to comment on his "Good One!" reaction to a fag joke by a conservative Audubon, Iowa supporter caught on tape by Think Progress, which notes that Vander Plaats would have floundered in obscurity had it not been for the backing of well-connected and deep-pocketed donors, particularly the Wells family behind Wells Dairy.

Mike Wells, CEO of Wells Dairy,
Inc., and friend/funder of Bob
Vander Plaats' campaign to recall
all Iowa Supreme Court Justices
The company, headquartered in Le Mars, Iowa, is the third largest ice cream maker in the United States and sells its products under the Blue Bunny label. Wells Dairy has 5 percent market share behind Nestlé (Häagen-Dazs, Dreyer’s, Mövenpick) and Unilever (Ben & Jerry’s and Breyers Ice Cream), licenses the Weight Watchers brand of ice creams, sells Chef Duff’s ice cream (of Ace of Cakes fame), and partners with Disney to offer Disney-branded novelties. But the Wells family is interested in more than frozen desserts. Mike Wells, the president and CEO of the company, was a member of Vander Plaats’ council of advisers during his gubernatorial campaign and public records reveal that Wells family members have contributed at least $456,000 to Vander Plaats and his affiliated organizations and campaigns:

    – $184,500 from Wells family members for his 2010 gubernatorial race, his largest contributors.

    – $246,000 from Wells family members for his 2006 gubernatorial race.

    – $25,500 from Wells family members for his 2002 gubernatorial race.

    – $25,500 to the Iowa Family Center PAC, a group associates with the FAMiLY Leader.

Mike and his wife Cheryl Wells have also started at least two ministries, including The Living Center and Side by Side Ministries, aimed at spreading “the Word of God to others.” Vander Plaats also serves as a channel of the Almighty — and a loyal customer for the family’s product. As one local NBC news story concluded, after his loss in 2010, Vander Plaats “celebrated the end of the night with ice cream. [He] went 100 days without eating his favorite treat.”

Monday, July 25, 2011

'Liar, liar, liar:' reaction to Anoka-Hennepin School Dist. Supt. Dennis Carlson's denial of bullying-suicide connection; System is in Michele Bachmann's district


(Via Joe.My.God; see bloglist)

Photo: gay marriages begin in New York State

Pictured: Louis J. Lefkowitz State Office Bldg., Lower Manhattan NYC - 07/24/11. Photo: Asterix611 via Flickr.

Clinton still defiant after second EPA report critical of State Dept. whitewash of Keystone XL pipeline threat to country's biggest underground aquifer

Clinton: stubbornly supporting
a pipeline which will almost
certainly poison the US's most
important aquifer.
In its second editorial against the Keystone XL pipeline, even the New York Times is taking note of the belligerent intransigence of a State Department, which, according to WikiLeaks, (Thank you Bradley Manning!) made up its mind long ago to support what will be the most toxic and risky oil pipeline in America. (Keystone XL is an extension to a new pipeline which has already leaked 11 times in less than a year and it will carry abrasive, highly corrosive tar sands at extremely high pressure (1400-1600 PSI) at temperatures up to 160 degrees below the water table of North America's biggest underground aquifer, even though it could be routed elsewhere.)
For the second time in a year, the State Department has issued an environmental impact statement about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry diluted bitumen — an acidic crude oil — from the tar sands of northern Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast.
     And for the second time in a year, the Environmental Protection Agency has excoriated the State Department for the inadequacy of its assessment.
      The department...must demonstrate that it can be an honest broker — appraising the pipeline on the merits, not because of politics or pressure from the Canadian government, Big Oil and the industry's friends in Congress.
     ...Keystone XL would cross sensitive terrain where a spill of diluted bitumen would be especially damaging, including the porous Sand Hills of Nebraska and the shallow Ogallala Aquifer, which supplies much of the Midwest with water.
     The risks are real. An earlier pipeline — carrying tar sands oil to the Midwest and built by TransCanada, the company planning to build Keystone XL — has had several spills, including recent ones in North Dakota and Kansas... And, the agency notes, both of the environmental assessments failed to consider alternative routes.
     ...We oppose this pipeline for several reasons besides its threat to the aquifer... The extraction process also destroys precious boreal forests, pollutes regional water supplies and creates substantially more greenhouse gases than conventional crude, though Canada insists it is making significant progress toward reducing emissions.

Pilots take on US Airways for escorting pilot out of Airport and threatening to arrest crew

The imbroglio was over a balky power component that the pilot wanted fixed before departing on a trans-Atlantic flight. The device could have eliminated all power on the flight. Before removing the pilot in question, two other pilots refused to fly the plane. Afterward three more pilots also refused to fly the aircraft.

Even if only half of the union's allegations are true, US Airway's behavior was appalling.

US still owes $55,757 on 1790 bond for Revolutionary War

An interesting article in last Friday's USA Today explored the country's "old debt" (pre-1917, unaffected by Congress' first debt limit, and amounting to 1.3 million.) The reason the 1790 bond amount is still outstanding is that neither the bondholders nor their heirs have redeemed them and the government won't take them off the books.

Now trending on Twitter: #fuckyouwashington

Well, it's certainly bipartisan, isn't it?

Rick Santorum takes potshot at Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Twitter

At a forum in Colorado, after declaring himself opposed to gay marriage, Texas Governor Rick Perry said:
“Our friends in New York six weeks ago passed a statute that said marriage can be between two people of the same sex. And you know what? That’s New York, and that’s their business, and that’s fine with me,” he said to applause from several hundred GOP donors in Aspen, the AP reported.
     “That is their call. If you believe in the 10th Amendment, stay out of their business.”
Shortly thereafter, Rick Santorum shot back on twitter:

Comic-Con: Spielberg, Jackson show more footage from upcoming Belgian comic strip movie,The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn

Wired reports that Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson surprised audiences at Comic-Con with stunning new 3-D footage of The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn.

The Tintin footage they presented showed a lot more action than has been revealed in previous trailers (including the boy reporter’s first encounter with Captain Haddock). Each frame of Tintin took five hours to animate, and Jackson noted that about 2,000 computers are currently in use at Weta Digital

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Quartzsite, AZ police chief Jeff Gilbert arrests woman for speaking at council meeting; Martial law declared after video posted to YouTube; Longstanding corruption alleged; Police chief suspends nine officers critical of him

As corruption allegations become more pervasive and specific, the Police Chief of Quartzsite, AZ spins out of control suspending nine of 13 law enforcement officers in the town of less than 4,000 people. Appeals by the Mayor for state and federal action have not been acted on by Gov. Jan Brewer's administration or the F.B.I.

The repeated admonition: "You are in violation of my rules of order," was spoken by the Mayor to the Police Chief as he had Jennifer "Jade" Jones arrested.



BBC Video: Amy Winehouse found dead at 27 at London home

Friday, July 22, 2011

Retired Major General Dennis Laich quits American Legion over its stubborn support of DADT

Part of his letter of resignation:
Unfortunately, policy positions that the American Legion and several of its senior leaders have taken regarding gay and lesbian service in our military are repugnant to me and represent a bigotry and discrimination that demeans the service and sacrifice of gays and lesbians to our nation’s defense. I further believe that these positions on gay and lesbian service place the good programs supported by the American Legion in jeopardy as more current or potential American Legion members may choose to not be Legionnaires.

(Via ThinkProgress)

Rachel Maddow to Rick Santorum: Knock yourself out!



(Via Joe.My.God. See bloglist.)

CBS affiliate: Southern Poverty Law Center, National Center for Lesbian Rights and Faegre & Benson sue Minneapolis School district over anti-gay bullying

“There is something seriously wrong in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, and district officials know it,” said Kate Kendell, executive director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “This epidemic of harassment — unlike anything we’ve seen in neighboring districts — is plainly fueled by the district’s shameful and illegal policy singling out LGBT people and LGBT people alone for total exclusion from acknowledgement within the classroom.”
Lawrence O'Donnell notes that the 40,000-student Anoka-Hennepin School District, the largest in Minnesota, is in Michele Bachmann's district.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

DOMA hearing: weasel Sen. Chuck Grassley claims phantom witness bolted due to gay "threats and intimidation" against herself, friends, family; Grassley won't name woman; Maggie Gallagher says it's not her

The Washington blade reports on a stunt by Iowa Senator Charles Grassley in which he claimed his witness couldn't make it because she succumbed to "threats and intimidation" from gays.
“The minority very much hoped to call a witness today at this hearing to testify in support of DOMA, I’m sure she would have done an excellent job,” Grassley said. “She declined, however, citing one reason the threats and intimidation that have been leveled not only her but her friends and family as a result of her support of DOMA. She will continue to write on the issue but will no longer speak publicly.”
Then Grassley said that the woman he refused to name — the shrinking violet intimidated by gay "threats" — "will continue to write on the issue...”

The Blade also reported that Maggie Gallagher, of the National Organization for Marriage, said the phantom woman wasn't her.

Grassley could easily be Washington's Weasel of the Week, if the Family Research Council's Tom Minnery hadn't already cinched that honor by trying to hoodwink Al Franken.

Focus on the Family tries lying to Congress; Sen. Franken not fooled; Sen. Leahy cuts through the crap

Think Progress has two video excerpts of today's Defense Of Marriage Act hearing. Sen. Al Franken's dramatic evisceration of Focus on the Family weasel Tom Minnery is absolutely masterful. Franken's experience in line reading has never been put to better use.



Woody Harrelson's turn as gay Jersey boy in Friends With Benefits

This is refreshing...

OneIowa: Tell Vander Plaats to quit bullying Iowans

OneIowa, the state's largest LGBT organization, has posted a petition on its website after a video surfaced showing the Family Leader head laughing and complimenting a joke insulting gay people last March at a whistlestop during Vander Plaats "Capturing the Momentum" Iowa bus tour. The joke, employing a gutter term for gay people, was cracked by a conservative supporter in Audubon, Iowa at a Subway sandwich shop meeting held by Vander Plaats

Though the news broke less than 20 hours ago, 923 people have already signed. The verbiage:
Dear Bob,

Throughout the debate on marriage, you have claimed that you want to have a civil discussion on the issues affecting loving, committed gay and lesbian Iowans. Yet, as you continue to use hurtful and derogatory language, you are showing more and more that you are not interested in a civil debate, but only furthering your political career. Your comments have hurt not only gay and lesbian Iowans, but all Iowans, and have made our state a joke throughout the country.


Mr. Vander Plaats, you do not speak for me, and I demand that you issue an apology to gay and lesbian Iowans for your hurtful comments and actions.

Video: Head of Iowa Family Leader
cracks up over lame fag joke in Audubon;
How Vander Plaats incites homophobia in Iowa bigots



Here, Bob Vander Plaats appears to laugh at a dumb fag joke (or humors a rube he is manipulating) at a gathering of Audubon, Iowa bigots conservatives at a Subway restaurant during a March 28 whistle stop of his Capturing Momentum tour. His organization, the Iowa Family Leader, claims to have nothing to do with the national Mormon-led organization with an identical name and a similar agenda. You can believe that if you like. Video via Think Progress.

What is most sinister about Vander Plaats isn't him laughing at an offensive joke. It's how cynically and skillfully he baits the hook when politically seducing rural homophobes. He actually uses the "Stand with us because people are starting to think Iowans are queer!" approach. Apparently this ploy works in Audubon.

This is what Vander Plaats said just before the joke:
You wouldn't believe how many people call us who grew up in Iowa or have Iowa ties... Denver today or Chicago or whatever; they said "They're [Iowans] the butt of a lot of jokes..." You know, around the office... "Iowa! You know how those guys are." You know?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Now a repository of surreptitious subway photos on tubecrush.net

England's population is already the most ubiquitously video-monitored in the world, so the site TubeCrush.net, which provides an outlet to subway riders who secretly photograph their fellow commuters, (and on this site, the emphasis is certainly on fellows) probably doesn't up the privacy-invasion ante all that much.

Onion: How facebook saves the CIA millions


CIA's 'Facebook' Program Dramatically Cut Agency's Costs

AKSARBENT, which will have nothing to do with facebook, wonders what the ratio of parody to truth in this video really is...

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Gainer into pool chair



This video seems to have elicited a lot of jealous, snarky comments. To whit:

"That looks like a major sausage party."

"Just think, if they knew any women he'd probably have got laid for that!"

3-year-old Cornhole™ prodigy



This is totally awesome and AKSARBENT did NOT write the headline. Apparently there is an association for this activity.

Matt Baume: Marriage News Watch, 7/11/2011;
Gay USA: July 5-11, 2011



Dan Savage on Bill Maher's Real Time: Bachmanns are 'grifters'



Savage then proceeds to step off the curb by asserting that he'd like to whip up some Santorum (see Google) inside Santorum, an observation probably better left to cocktail parties than to television.

Nude, rope-bound body found at famed Spreckles Mansion owned by CEO of Medicis, maker of Restylane and Solodyn

                                    

Protege of Fox News owner Rubert Murdoch, Rebekah Brooks, finally arrested; now she won't have to give evidence or answer questions before Parliament

CBS' Bob Schieffer: Why we have a Congress incapable of doing what it is supposed to do



In the U.S., campaign contributions are constantly being "capped" and soft money inevitably finds a way around those caps. Other countries limit the amount of money that can be spent on campaigns. The U.S. Supreme Court has absurdly ruled that to be an abridgement of free speech.

In 1995, Steven Hill, of the Christian Science Monitor, reminded his readers why political campaigns in other countries do not approach the obscene prices of those in the U.S.:
The ceiling for legislative candidates ranges from $6200 in New Zealand, $15,000 in Great Britain, $22,000 in Canada, to $75,000 in France. Belgium, Spain and Israel restrict the amount of "soft money" campaign spending by parties. In the U.S. there are no such limits, and costs for legislative races often exceed a half a million dollars.

Atlantic Magazine national correspondent compares House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to Eddy Haskell; Cantor invested to profit on gov't default

eddieh.jpgAnd if a leading party in a very important set of negotiations has shown that he'll walk right out of the "bargaining" room, release a distorted version of what has just been discussed, and use it to whip us his side to more demands, that makes a difference too. For the worse. The prospects for an agreement now are worse because of Rep. Cantor's presence in them. That's not because he's a conservative -- so, obviously, are Boehner and McConnell. It's because he's acting like a weasel." — James Fallows
225px-Eric_Cantor,_official_portrait,_112th_Congress.jpg
Daily Kos: Cantor to profit from government default
In 2009... when Eric Cantor took the trouble to pick individual investments,  he chose the following:
$1-15,000: ProShares Trust Ultrashort 20+ Year Treasury ETF (TBT)
$1-15,000: iShares Barclays TIPS Bond Fund (TIPS)...
      So yeah, that acronym TIPS ring a bell? It should if you read Paul Krugman..
      TIPS, as I read it is basically the interest difference between nominal U.S. Bonds and Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities.
     Eric Cantor's bet on the iShares Barclay's TIPS Bond Fund is ANOTHER bet that U.S. Treasury Bonds will lose value (relative to inflation)...
     There are huge implications here:
     1. When Eric Cantor had a spare $2,000 to $30,000 laying around, he didn't just go and buy some extra shares of Exxon or FOX stock or gold... He literally bet against America.
     2. Eric Cantor is in the Republican leadership, and has been making open threats that he may push the United States toward defaulting on their bond obligations. If he does this, he has set himself up to profit from it. This is a really big conflict of interest.

Austrian Atheist wins 3-year fight to wear pasta strainer as hat in driver's license photo; claimed to be Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster 'Pastafarian'

Now, NPR says he claims to be an athiest.
"The Republic of Austria is still very closely attached, is trying to serve religion and churches without any apparent need," Alm said. "And that's just another thing I pointed out... that something is going wrong here that there is a part of the population that can exert certain special rights that people like me, that atheist people or non-believers cannot have."
Niko Alm's driver's license.

Alm says he is an atheist. He was baptized Roman Catholic but he was never a believer...
     He claims to be an advocate "for the clean separation of church and state" — and wants freedom from religion.
     "There shouldn't be any special rights for anybody because of their religious belief or non-belief," he said.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Omaha World-Herald pretends that bogus Bachmann denial of gay slur can't be refuted after MSNBC did so

A mostly-sympathetic article on poor, picked-on Marcus Bachmann ("...husband in unwanted spotlight") published today by the Omaha World-Herald ended with the following:
In the Star Tribune interview, Marcus Bachmann said that interview clip was doctored and that he would never call gay people barbarians. "That's not my mindset. That's not my belief system," he told the newspaper.

The original interview was not available on the Point of View website, and the company was unable to provide a copy of it Friday.
Had the World-Herald wanted to, it could easily have exposed as false Bachmann's denial of his gay slur by viewing the unedited context of the interview from which the supposedly "doctored" segment was taken.

MSNBC aired it and it was available on YouTube before the World-Herald published its story.

Perhaps the Herald is Google-impaired.

Or perhaps it likes to provide cover for those liars who happen to be political conservatives.

Or perhaps it doesn't consider to be newsworthy the fact that a major cable news network proved Bachmann's 'doctored' claim to be an outrageous falsehood and that such proof was available to anyone in the world with internet access the day before before the World-Herald edition which implied that an unedited version of Bachmann's toxic remarks was unavailable.

Friday, July 15, 2011

University study busts TransCanada's absurdly lowball estimates of Keystone XL pipeline spills, damage

On July 11, Dr. John Stansbury, Ph.D., P.E., Associate Professor of Environmental/ Water Resources Engineering at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln released a study of worst-case spills that could result from the proposed Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline.

Stansbury is the author of numerous studies on water resources and hazardous waste management published in peer-reviewed journals. The full study with complete references is available at http://watercenter.unl.edu

You can also see the study's summary of key findings at the Friends of the Earth website here.

The first paragraph of the summary, which is beyond ugly, begins:
A major spill from the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline on the Platte River in Nebraska could spill 5.9 million gallons of toxic, corrosive tar sands oil and spread pollutants such as carcinogenic benzene in excess of federal health standards hundreds of miles downstream, contaminating drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people as far south as Kansas City, Mo. Even a small, undetected leak from an underground rupture of the pipeline in the Nebraska Sandhills could pollute almost 5 billion gallons of groundwater with benzene at concentrations exceeding safe drinking water levels – enough water to form a plume 15 miles long, posing serious health threats to anyone using the underlying Ogallala Aquifer for drinking water or agriculture. And a worst-case spill at the pipeline’s crossing of the Missouri or Yellowstone Rivers in Montana could spill well over 5 million gallons of tar sands oil, contaminating drinking and recreational water in North Dakota with harmful levels of benzene and other chemicals.
Not to be missed is the study's examination of TransCanada's outrageous attempt to minimize the risks of its project.
TransCanada’s Flawed Assumptions

According to TransCanada, significant spills (more than 50 barrels) are expected to be very rare (0.00013 spills/year/mile, or 11 major spills over a 50-year design life). However, TransCanada made several highly questionable assumptions, including:
  • TransCanada ignored historical data on almost one-fourth of pipeline spills by excluding all spills for which the cause is not known.
  • TransCanada assumed, without supporting data, that Keystone XL will be constructed so well that it will have only half as many spills as existing pipelines, even though the tar sands crude to be transported through the pipeline is more likely to leak than the conventional crude in other pipelines.
     Therefore, a more realistic assessment of expected frequency of significant spills, based on historical data, is 0.00109 spills per year per mile, resulting in 91 significant spills over a 50-year design life of the pipeline (including more than 12 spills from holes greater than 10 inches).
     TransCanada consistently states the frequency of spills in terms of spills per year per mile. This is misleading; a more appropriate way to state the frequency would be the frequency of a spill somewhere along the length of the pipeline. Stating the spill frequency in terms of spills per mile is comparable to acknowledging that, although some 33,000 deaths from automobile accidents occur annually in the U.S., the average annual fatality rate across 350 million people is only 0.000094; therefore, fatalities from automobile accidents are so rare as to be unimportant.
     TransCanada’s other major flawed assumption – again, unsupported by any data – is that in case of an accident, the Keystone XL can be shut down in 11.5 minutes. This is wildly optimistic. In the June 2010 spill on the very similar Enbridge pipeline in Michigan, the time to finally shut down the pipeline was approximately 12 hours, and during that time the pumps operated for at least two hours. Therefore, a more realistic estimate of shutdown time is two hours. When applied to a hypothetical spill at the Keystone’s pumping station in Hardisty, Alberta, the difference between TransCanada’s assumptions and the appropriate values is a spill of 41,504 barrels vs. one of 87,964 barrels.

Tea Party chickens come home to roost

Perhaps newspapers which purport to worry about dangerous levels of political brinkmanship should be more careful about which candidates they endorse in their editorial pages.

Lee Terry shows up at Koch bros. astroturf gathering, parrots American Petroleum Institute propaganda

Bold Nebraska caught up with Nebraska Rep. Lee Terry recently, as he repeated Koch brothers / American Petroleum Institute talking points at a poorly attended Americans for Prosperity rally. AFP is an astroturf group funded by the Koch brothers. Here's an excerpt. Click the link above to read Bold Nebraska's complete story.
Rep. TransCanada recently spoke at poorly attended rally hosted by the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity.  There, he opined on the need to make our country energy independent (which we agree on) and how President Obama is to blame for our high gas prices (which we disagree on).

     But showing up at an AFP rally isn’t the only evidence we have against Congressman TransCanada.  We were just as disturbed by his presence as we were by his actual speech.  He tried to paint some half-brained picture of TransCanada’s Keystone XL being a choice between Venezuelan oil and Canadian oil that are essentially the same thing.
     Well, we know that’s 100% wrong.  Comparing the Venezuelan crude with Canadadian tar sands is like comparing American football with international football (aka "soccer").  Sure, they've got the same name, but they're totally different games.
     The Keystone XL will carry tar sands oil that has to be heavily diluted with chemicals so that it can flow through pipes.  It’s highly corrosive which means the pipeline is much more likely to leak than traditional crude pipelines. [It's also under enormous pressure, 1400-1600 PSI and the sand is, of course, abrasive. It's also hot — up to 160 degress — AKSARBENT]  We’ve seen the proof of that this summer with the first Keystone pipeline having 12 leaks in less than 1 year.
     What’s more, we’ve heard this “Venezuela vs. Canada” rhetoric from someone else: a spokeswoman for the American Petroleum Institute.  API is a mouthpiece for TransCanada and the Koch brothers.  We wish we were shocked to hear Rep. TransCanada parroting special interest lobbyists, but he’s done it before.
     Instead of listening to citizens like Randy Thompson, Nebraska’s congressman from the Second District has become the spokesman for TransCanada.  Instead taking our concerns to DC, he’s telling us what TransCanada and the Koch Brothers want.

Esquire's clever August Cover

Thursday, July 14, 2011

WikiLeaks disclosure shows State Department tar sands pipeline bias even before dubious study

A 2009 cable from the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa released by WikiLeaks suggests that the U.S. State Department was already inclined to approve the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline even before it made a study of the issue that was so vigorously criticized that a supplement was issued.

From the Chicago Tribune:
The cable, obtained by WikiLeaks, describes the State Department's then-energy envoy, David Goldwyn, as having "alleviated" Canadian officials' concerns about getting their crude into the U.S. It also said he had instructed them in improving "oil sands messaging," including "increasing visibility and accessibility of more positive news stories."

Goldwyn now works on Canadian oil sands issues at Sutherland, a Washington lobbying firm, and recently testified before Congress in favor of building the 36-inch underground pipeline, Keystone XL.

Iowa GOP runs Christian carpetbagger Air Force attorney involved in 'classified projects' against Mike Gronstal

Former Air Force lawyer Al Ringgenberg
(Campaign website photo)
The Iowa GOP has announced that retired Air Force lawyer Al Ringgenberg will challenge Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal for his Council Bluffs senate seat.

Gronstal has been an impenetrable bulwark against attempts to introduce anti-gay marriage amendments in the Iowa Senate.

Gronstal has vowed never to allow a vote on the issue, following the Iowa Supreme Court's unanimous decision to allow gay marriage in the state.

Ringgenberg wrote this on his website: "I support an amendment to the Iowa constitution that restores marriage as a union of one man and one woman. Senator Gronstal, as the majority leader, blocked consideration of a constitutional amendment referendum before Iowa voters."

The amendment Gronstal blocked would also have prohibited civil unions and domestic partnerships, facts Ringgenberg disingenuously omits.

Ringgenber is just now moving into Gronstal's district.

His website claims that voters are entitled to know his core values, the first of which is that he is a Christian, whatever that means.

"I have very little political experience beyond some passionately held beliefs as a lawyer and a conservative," Ringgenberg, told KCCI TV in Des Moines

In 2004 Ringgenberg took a job at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska in 2004 where the attorney says he was involved in "classified projects."

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Idiotic Bob Vander Plaats / Iowa Family Leader pledge mocked by comedians; Romney calls it 'undignified and inappropriate'; Bachmann, Santorum sign, then make excuses

(Via towleroad; see blog list)
 
Iowa's Family Leader, headed by Bob Vander Plaats of Sioux City, shares its name with an identically-named national group whose board is LDS top-heavy. The Iowa Independent's Andy Koposa reported that Iowa Family Policy Center President Chuck Hurley insists the new incarnation of his organization has no affiliation whatsoever to the Mormon-led national group, despite sharing a name, numerous connections and an anti-gay marriage agenda.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) targeted by attack ad group set up by Karl Rove to hide donors from voters

Karl Rove, advocate of more tax breaks
for billionaires
It accuses Nelson and 4 other Democratic senators, in virtually identical ads (See them here), of voting for the "failed" stimulus package — you know, that package that saved the US from another Great Depression because of Bush II's kamikaze economics of lowering taxes on the super rich and increasing spending on a $2,000,000,000,000 war in Iraq based on false claims of weapons of mass destruction.

The group, American Crossroads GPS (Grassroots Policy Strategies), is a sister organization to American Crossroads and is now raising more money than it. American Crossroads GPS It will spend $20,000,000 in the next two months to target Obama's economic policies as Congress decides whether to restore taxation of wealthy Americans to earlier levels.

Bloomberg reports:
Republican strategist Karl Rove helped start the Crossroads groups last year after the Supreme Court ruled, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, that corporations and labor unions can spend unlimited amounts of money advocating the election or defeat of political candidates...

American Crossroads is a political group registered with the FEC and must disclose its donors. Crossroads GPS is organized as a non-profit social welfare organization that can keep its donors’ identities secret as long as it spends less than half its budget on politics.

There are severe financial penalties on 501(c)(4)organizations like American Crossroads GPS who don't follow the rules, and Karl Rove may have been playing fast and lose with those rules.

Authentic marriage? Michele and Marcus Bachmann according to Second City TV

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Calen, age 5, meets his first gay couple

In the scary, but lucrative, anti-gay for pay fantasy world of the National Organization for Marriage, American Family Association, Family Research Council, Mission America, et al., the most terrifying scenario is children — impressionable children — being exposed to self-identified homosexuals. It's the horror show that has launched a thousand campaign ads from Anita Bryant to Maggie Gallagher.

In the real world, where people have regular jobs that don't involve professionally grinding homophobic axes, the above scenario plays out much differently.



“I usually see husbands and wives,” 5-year-old Calen says, speaking to a gay couple in a 2010 video. “But this is the first time I’ve seen husbands and husbands. How funny. So, that means you love each other? Yeah. You’re much alike — you’re much alike. Okay I’m going to play ping-pong now. You can play if you want to.”

Man loses gunfight to paper target



(Via towleroad via Gawker)

Kent Sorenson's boss, Michele Bachmann, and her quack husband's taxpayer-funded scam business exposed by ABC Nightline



Minnesota is one of the few places in the USA in which unlicensed people can open a mental health practice. Perfect for someone whose credentials are as dubious as Dr. Marcus Bachmann's.
(Via Joe My God; see blog list.)

Below, Bachmann exhibits incredibly arrogant hypocrisy by refusing to answer questions about her and her husband's clinic. Her excuse: "I'm here to talk about jobs." Too bad the interviewer didn't ask why — if Michele is as good at "job creation" as she claims — the Bachmanns slopped like pigs at the government trough to get tens of thousands of state and federal dollars for "job training" at their Christian counseling clinic, which cynically perpetrated the debunked hoax of "reparative therapy" for homosexuality — at $73 per hour.

Actually the Bachmanns were shamelessly double-dipping: government money for job training for their staff and more government money (well over $100,000) in Medicaid payments for the hapless gay victims (and others) that they may have made worse by professionally discredited "therapy."

Nice work if you can get it. Even better if you can get the government to pay for it by fleecing taxpayers and you get to pocket the money.

Small wonder that Bachmann's Iowa campaign and its chairman, Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson (R-Indianola) won't provide meaningful answers about the clinic.

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