Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Apple lost another prototpe iPhone at a bar?


That's what CNET is reporting.

It says Apple never filed a police report, according to the SFPD, but company representatives contacted the cops, said the device was priceless and then showed up at a Bernal Heights home (to which Apple had electronically traced the phone) accompanied by police.
When San Francisco police and Apple's investigators visited the house, they spoke with a man in his twenties who acknowledged being at Cava 22 on the night the device went missing. But he denied knowing anything about the phone. The man gave police permission to search the house, and they found nothing, the source said. Before leaving the house, the Apple employees offered the man money for the phone no questions asked, the source said, adding that the man continued to deny he had knowledge of the phone.

Short takes: gay kisscam, a century of fashion, Jerry Lewis, cat bully, Gadhafi's son, Hangover 2 stunt suit

Hip-Hop homophobe Tyler, The Creator vs. has-been homophobe Billy Corgan 

A century of fashion in 101 seconds

Cat bullying: one feline stuffs another into a box, then sits on it as the prisoner tries to escape

A perceptive rumination about the end of Jerry Lewis' 45-year tenure as host of the Muscular Dystrophy telethon

Tonight: ABC News 'Primetime Nightline' Wednesday night to feature families of three transgender youths 

Queerty thinks the gay porn found in the house of Moammar Gadhafi's 38-year-old son Al-Saadi was planted and that the story is bunk 

Warner Bros. sued over Hangover 2 stunt that left Ed Helms Stunt double, Scott McClean, with brain injuries
Did SF Giants Jumbotrons show first kisscam gay kisses during Monday's 7-0 rout by Cubs? Facebook posters and Sean Chapin say yes

Zombie porn film made by Spanish soccer team with sagging attendance to breed new fans via DVD distribution to sperm donor clinics

This is not from the Onion. It is from AdWeek. And it's probably not suitable for work.

Tampa Bay makes Trevor Project / It Gets Better video

(Via Steve Rothaus)

Waterloo, Iowa Human Rights Commission holds 'Community Conversation' after beating death of Marcellus Andrews


The Waterloo Courier covered the meeting.
His sister, Nichella Andrews, 22, supports the police in ruling out a hate crime. Witnesses' accounts of what allegedly happened have been blown out of proportion, she said. A cousin, Renicia Haywood, 18, noted that a person who displays perceived feminine actions is not necessarily gay.
     "They didn't come to beat him up because he was gay," Haywood said. "There's more to the story."
     "Gay or not, perceived as gay still ends up being a hate crime under those conditions," said Jim Day, vice president of the Black Hawk County branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "Perception of gay and being gay still both qualify."

Ed 'Al Bundy' O'Neil gets Hollywood Walk of Fame star

AKSARBENT loved Married With Children and Al's whatever take on his gay acquaintances. Co-star Katy Segal once said that the show was the most popular sitcom in prisons. Really? Since when do advertisers care about the buying preferences of people who can't go shopping? Who would take such a survey, we wonder.

UPDATE: Why yes, Ed O'Neil's star is outside a shoe store.

Family Research Council FAIR Education Act propaganda busted by Equality California

Last week the Family Research Council, a virulent anti-LGBT organization with ties to the Ku Klux Klan and recognized as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, joined the effort to overturn the FAIR Education Act in California and released a video message to fundamentalist churches on behalf of the campaign. In it, the group's executive director, Tony Perkins, blatantly lied about and grossly misrepresented the FAIR Education Act, which requires California schools to include factual, age-appropriate information about the contributions, social movements and current events of, people with disabilities, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT), and Pacific Islander people in already existing social studies lessons.

Mount Dora High School teacher Jerry Buell's hate speech wasn't confined to facebook: he was even worse in the classroom

I'm watching the news, eating dinner when the story about New York okaying same-sex unions came on and I almost threw up.
—Jerry Buell, comment, July 25, 2011
After getting into hot water for his intemperate antigay facebook posting, Lake County, Florida's most publicly homophobic history teacher took to CNN recently with a lawyer from Liberty Counsel at his side.

Buell was asked the following question:
"I'm curious if you're worried or concerned at all about how your comments might be taken by a gay student who might be in your classroom."
His delusional answer:
"I explain to my students, my kids: You won't feel safer, you won't find a place you'll feel more respected, and you won't find a place you'll have more fun all day. I would challenge anybody to ask any one of my thousands of students if that has not proven to be true."
Now some of his gay former students are coming forward, and their take is quite different. Here's a blast from Buell's classroom past, circa 2003, courtesy of Equality Florida:
"I looked up when he said he supported gays in the military, stunned by the answer. He immediately followed that comment with the statement that we should then put them on the front lines, and pull back," Blaise said.
Kind of gives the lie to Buell's doubletalk about respecting his students when one of them was so shocked by the teacher's bareknuckled bigotry that he still remembered the remark eight years later, doesn't it?

New Mexico State Trooper has sex with a woman. Outside. During the day. On the hood of a car. Under a surveillance camera.

Your tax dollars hard at work in the Land of Enchantment. Well, ok, maybe Officer Friendly was on break, but as one man-in-the-street mentoned, do we really want a cop with this kind of judgement carrying a loaded gun? Uh, we mean a pistol. No, we mean a weapon. Oh forget it.

(Via Gawker)

Outserve Magazine on military newsstands 9/20

Concurrent with the end of DADT, September 20, Outserve magazine will expand. From the press release:
1) The magazine has launched an interactive website at: where readers comment, share articles by Facebook and Twitter, and order both digital and print versions of the magazine. The website will also feature exclusive videos and member blogs not found in the print edition.

2) Additionally, OutServe Magazine has received approval to be distributed on Air Force and Army bases, and will be releasing the magazine in limited Air Force and Army base exchanges beginning next edition. Specific locations are not being disclosed at this time.

3) Finally, the upcoming September 20th Repeal Issue of the magazine will honor the gay, lesbian, and bisexual men and women who have proudly served their nation by featuring pictures and bios of nearly 100 OutServe members.

Don vs. Jon: two homophobic scorpions in a bottle

AKSARBENT can only hope that the loser of the GOP Senate primary battle between Attorney General Jon Bruning and State Treasurer Don Stenberg damages the winner badly enough that he doesn't prevail in the general election and that they both consume large amounts of right-wing billionaire cash exposing attacking each other's character. Either would be a lousy senator. Here's what Don Stenberg said about Jon Bruning recently:
"I did not have partners in any investments while I was the attorney general. I did not become, or try to become, a multimillionaire while serving as Nebraska's attorney general," he said. "While I went to great lengths to avoid conflicts of interest, Jon Bruning seems to invite them."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

El Paso Times, your heterosexual supremacist news leader!

Google Maps
After reading the Advocate's description of an especially nasty full-page ad/diatribe against gay people from an El Paso Catholic-church-on-the-make, AKSARBENT learned more about the history of that fine Texas newspaper from the Dallas Voice:
An anti-gay Catholic priest took out a full-page ad (right) in the El Paso Times over the weekend calling gays “immoral,” “putrid” and “depraved.” The ad, taken out by Friar Michael Rodriguez of El Paso’s San Juan Bautista Catholic Church, has since been removed from the newspaper’s website, according to The Advocate, which contacted the newspaper about its advertising policy but didn’t hear back. It’s hardly surprising that the EPT ran this ad. In fact, it may represent an improvement since the newspaper used to give Rodriguez free space to spout his hatred. Just last year, the EPT published an op-ed piece in which Rodriguez compared homosexuality to rape and said those who don’t actively oppose gay rights are damned to hell.

Short takes: $25 PC; Diamonds aren't forever; Hell's Angels sue for copyright infringement; Did a cuckolded Bill O'Reilly have wife's cop boyfriend investigated?

How can you have a PC industry when computers cost $25?

Three charts to mail to your right-wing brother-in-law.

Did Bill O'Reilly have his wife's cop boyfriend investigated by internal affairs?

Steve Jobs is not well at all.

Hell's Angels sue for copyright infringement.

Diamonds are not forever — in fact scientists can't make a diamond-based UV laser that lasts for more than 10 minutes.

Thieves use sleeping gas to rob occupied villas at Italian billionaires' resort.

Acting ATF Director Kenneth Melson and the U.S. attorney for Arizona are pushed out after  Operation Fast and Furious gun-trafficking investigation failed miserably, allowing hundreds of firearms to fall into the hands of Mexican drug cartel enforcers and U.S. criminals.

Republican politicians banned from Wausau Wisconsin Labor Day parade.

Wisconsin: Ex-congressman Mark Neumann, a homophobe's homophobe, enters Senate race

Mark W. Neumann, who represented Wisconsin's 1st congressional district from 1995 to 1999, has entered the Wisconsin U.S. Senate race, promising to bring Senator Tammy Baldwin's record "to the forefront."

As a congressman, Neumann told the New York Times:
“If I was elected God for a day, homosexuality wouldn’t be permitted, but nobody’s electing me God.”
Later, he told the Christian Coalition:
“If somebody walks in to me and says, ‘I’m a gay person, I want a job in your office,’ I would say that’s inappropriate, and they wouldn’t be hired because that would mean they are promoting their agenda. The gay and lesbian lifestyle (is) unacceptable, lest there be any question about that.”
 Here he was in 2010 when he ran for governor:

Torchwood gay sex scene, edited for British viewers, still prompts 500 complaints according to tabloid

Alpha Airlock: Torchwood too gay for Britain?
Last Thursday's BBC broadcast of Torchwood, featuring an scene uncut on U.S. cable the week before but trimmed for Britain, prompted 500 complaints according to the Daily Mail, third-largest largest English language newspaper in the world, with a circulation of over two million and Britain's only tabloid in Britain with more than 50% female readership.

ATV Today reports:
The episode, Immortal Sins, featured flashbacks to 1920s New York where Captain Jack Harkness (John Barrowman) fell in love with an Italian immigrant named Angelo (Daniele Favill). The flashbacks featured the two kissing and enjoying a steamy sex scene which, according to the Daily Mail, has upset some fans. Despite the fact that Torchwood: Miracle Day airs in a 9pm slot, therefore after the watershed, the gay sex scene has still prompted hundreds of complaints.
The article's authors, Ian Westhead and Dominic Knight, note that overnight ratings put the audience of the episode at 3.4 million viewers.”

Rutgers Tyler Clementi case: Ravi's lawyers seek identity of 'M.B.,' Clementi's dorm room companion

The Star-Ledger of Newark reports that the Middlesex County prosecutor's office has filed a motion to ask a judge to withold the name of Tyler Clementi's dorm room companion, depicted in a surreptitious video that Dharun Ravi, Clementi's roommate, was accused of streaming on the Internet.

Ravi’s attorneys want to speak to "M.B." to prepare their client’s defense.

Ravi’s lawyers have rejected prosecutors’ offer to allow M.B. to be interviewed anonymously in the presence of a state investigator.

The next court date in the case is scheduled for Sept. 9.

Chicago: Gay Softball World Series

About 4,000 players and fans have descended on the Windy City.

Dan Choi trial over White House protest: How can you get off the sidewalk if you were never on the sidewalk?

Lou Chibbaro Jr., of the Washington Blade is covering the trial of Dan Choi, arrested after he chained himself to the White House fence in a DADT protest. Choi's attorney, Robert Feldman, is challenging the grounds of his client's arrest.
“It’s uncontroverted that Lt. Choi is no threat to the public safety whatsoever,” said Feldman. “Neither does he obstruct traffic, which is the second part of the regulation.”
     Feldman said he would also argue that the regulation used by authorities to arrest Choi applies only to the sidewalk next to the White House fence. He noted that Choi and the other protesters were standing on a masonry ledge that rises above the sidewalk and serves as an anchor for the White House fence.
     “It’s very clear that my client was never on the sidewalk,” Feldman said.  “He was on the masonry fence, which is above the sidewalk. And the warnings from Lt. Lachance said, ‘Get off the sidewalk.’ How can you get off the sidewalk if you were never on the sidewalk?”'

Video and photos taken on the scene clearly show that Choi was not standing on the sidewalk.

Gay friendly version of Groupon: Gaypon

sciondriver, Flickr
Scott Budman writes about a new website offering daily deals from companies deemed gay friendly, which means they've passed certain standards including no discrimination complaints and strong LGBT support. Gaypon is not associated with Groupon.

Gaypon says it donates a "healthy portion of proceeds" to charities and organization that support the gay community and uses "various tools, like the Human Rights Campaign's "Corporate Equality Index" as metrics to determine a business' gay friendliness.

Billionaires brawl over natural gas tax subsidies; T. Boone Pickens: Charles Koch working for Koch, Pickens working for America

Pickens, 83, has spent $82,000,000 promoting the use of domestically produced natural gas to power cars and trucks and wants tax breaks to purchase natural-gas fueled trucks.

Naturally he has companies which would benefit from such policies.

Charles Koch, 75, founder of tea bagger astroturf group Americans for Prosperity, would benefit from tar sands oil (the so-called 'carbon bomb' because its extraction and refinement requires huge amounts of water and energy) and the proposed TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline which would run through the Ogallala Aquifer, North America's largest underground source of fresh water.

TransCanada's Keystone 1 pipeline has leaked 12 times in its first year of operation.

Americans for Prosperty is running radio ads on KGOR in Omaha trashing Boone Pickens' natural gas initiative.

Since the Koch-led lobbying campaign against Pickens began, 14 House Republicans have withdrawn support for the legislation.

Marriage News: California hearing to release Prop 8 tapes and Matt Baume

Yesterday's California hearing on whether to release the video from the Proposition 8 trial was live blogged and archived here.

This was the press conference by the American Foundation for Equal rights:

(Via Towleroad)

Marriage News Watch, August 29, 2011

Monday, August 29, 2011

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad: Inappropriate to link homophobic killing of Waterloo teen to discussion tenor he sets as governor

Iowa Senate Majority Leader Gronstal and wife Carolyn
Compare and Contrast... Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, a Council Bluffs Democrat, vowed again to use his position to block debate over a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in Iowa. He has said repeatedly that he won't help write discrimination into Iowa's constitution.
     Meanwhile, today, at his weekly press conference, Republican Governor Terry Branstad was told by a reporter that the recent fatal beating of Marcellus Andrews might have been related to his sexual orientation and then was asked what he thought his role as governor was, to control the tenor of the debate about gay rights in Iowa, given its fierceness. printed his response:
     Refusing to connect any dots, Branstad replied, according to The Des Moines Register: "I think it's inaapropriate to try to link these two."
     “The fact of the matter is, we need to protect the health, safety and well-being of all the citizens, regardless – if somebody is murdered, it needs to be investigated and prosecuted and people held responsible for it.
     “But I see no link whatsoever and I think it’s inappropriate to try to blame people that are not associated with having committed a crime. I think we need to focus on the people who committed the crime and they need to be brought to justice.”
     Witnesses allege that Andrews’ attackers yelled “faggot” and other anti-gay slurs during the incident attack.

Gov. Branstad
In other Terry Branstad refusal-to-connect-the-dots news, his spokesman brushed off questions about the $56,000 that Derek Hill's wife and mother-in-law gave Branstad's campaign last year and Hill's subsequent appointment as administrator of the Iowa Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and his current status as a finalist for a top Iowa Air National Guard post.
    Speaking on behalf of the governor, Tim Albrecht said donations by an individual or a family member should not disqualify someone from serving the state.
     But wait, there's more Terry Branstad news! Democratic leaders and the state employees union are suing him for vetoing parts of a measure which would have prohibited shutting down 36 Iowa unemployment offices, then redirecting the money elsewhere. The plaintiffs say he can't do that with a line-item veto — and they cite a successful 2004 Republican court challenge against then-Democratic Gov. Tom Vilsack.
      Finally, Branstad defended the expense of his taxpayer-funded 43-city "jobs bus tour," coming on the heels of loud criticism by the Iowa GOP of President Obama's recent Aug. 15-17 bus tour, which it called a “fraud of a bus tour to spin his failure to put Americans back to work.”
     As always, the Iowa GOP made its accusations with a straight face.

David Pakman rips Michele Bachmann's deafening silence on fatal Waterloo gay bashing of Marcellus Andrews

Note: To read all AKSARBENT posts on the fatal beating of Marcellus Andrews, click on the "Labels" entry at the bottom of this post.

(Via Joe.My.God. See bloglist)

Michele Bachmann likes to talk about her prowess as a "job creator," but when someone asks her why she took tens of thousands of federal job training dollars and her clinic's patients got about $140,000 in state and federal funds for treatments which additionally funded its payroll, she doesn't have a thing to say.

When it suits her convenience, Bachmann paints a Norman Rockwell Americana  picture of Waterloo, Iowa (like when she announced her candidacy), but when a 19-year-old gets clubbed (or stomped) to death in her idyllic hometown  by thugs yelling homophobic epithets a few weeks later, she doesn't have a thing to say.

AKSARBENT thinks it sees a pattern...

Below: Michele Bachmann on Waterloo (skip to 3:45):
"How thankful I am for Waterloo. For this wonderful, decent, god-fearing community... This was such a fine community to be born in, to grow up in, to work in (Bachmann left Iowa at age 13), to be a part of. I'm just thrilled with pride when I think what Waterloo put into our family... This is what we need more of; we need more Waterloo...

Practical fractals:
there's probably one in your cell phone

Cellphones have to receive a variety of radio signals:
Bluetooth, GPS, WiFi, cell tower, etc. Fractal design
allows the fabrication of a versatile antenna that is very small.
AKSARBENT meant to watch 60 Minutes last night but got waylaid by NOVA's program about the discovery of fractal geometry by Benoit Mandelbrot.
     (Sometimes PBS cleverly pries AKSARBENT's eyeballs away from CBS on Sundays by dumbing science down and then walking it to us down that thin middlebrow line betwixt engrossing and inscrutable.)
     In case the only thing you know about fractals is that ubiquitous image on tie-dyed tee shirts, it is defined thusly according to WikiPedia:
A rough or fragmented geometric shape that can be split into parts, each of which is (at least approximately) a reduced-size copy of the whole," a property called self-similarity.
Anyway, trees are supposedly illustrative of fractal design because of their recursive branch structure.

This explains a lot! The reason AKSARBENT's reception of NOVA was so lousy was that the damn tree outside was stealing our free HD signal.

We need a fractal TELEVISION antenna to defeat the thieving Maple or Elm or whatever it is outside that is helping itself to our digital diversions.

Or a chain saw. Can you hear me now, stumpy?

Phillies — It gets better

If they made 'It gets better' MLB trading cards, AKSARBENT wouldn't trade this one for your Mariners AND your Giants AND your Cubs. Cuter players, less wooden delivery and better videography. What's not to like?

Rick Perry: Is he really Bush without the Brains?

“In terms of sheer brains and understanding policy at a deep level, he’d rank pretty low,” said McNeely, looking back at the chief executives he’s covered from John Connally on. “But as far power politics and control, he’s the most powerful Texas governor in history.”
      From what was historically designed to be a weak governorship, Perry has bent state government entirely to his will over a decade in office. He dominates the legislature, has effectively taken over the Texas’s expansive public university system and is relentless in his search for conquest

Apropos of nothing, Aksarbent shows why a crap Richard Gere flick is better than a crap Tom Cruise flick

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hartford plumber discovers men's room camera hidden by Starbucks employee, then gets his laptop and desktop confiscated by police

No good deed goes unpunished when dealing with some cops. Gothamist reports that last week a Connecticut plumber, Rafael Zeligzon, washing his hands in a Starbucks bathroom, decided to find out why there was no hot water and discovered a hidden, sound-activated camera taped under the washbasin, pointed at the toilet. Fearing he might have been photographed, he took the camera home and downloaded the pictures before returning the camera to Starbucks so they could notify the police, who then seized his desktop and laptop, which he needs for his business.


Hurricane Irene: New York hunkers down; Jersey Shore deserted in face of swells

Towleroad's weekend blogger, Penn Bullock, writing from Brooklyn, describes the scene there:
...some drizzle and an eerie wind that's been gaining strength all day. Out of the 370,000 people ordered to leave low-lying areas in the city, only 1 percent have turned up in shelters.

Rachel Maddow busts Florida Gov.'s absurd lie: poor people use drugs more than rich or middle class people

AKSARBENT already knew that Florida governor Rick Scott's drug-test-all-welfare-recipients program is costing Florida more in lab fees than it saves in welfare benefits, but what we didn't know was that Scott's wife has a financial interest in one of the companies doing the testing, as Joe.My.God (see bloglist) astutely pointed out yesterday

Marcellus Andrews slaying: new details emerge

Note: to read all AKSARBENT posts on this story, click on the "Labels" entry at the bottom of this post.

Kyle Munson, of the Des Moines Register, has written an unusually penetrating account of the aftermath of the beating death of Marcellus Andrews of Waterloo, asking questions that clarify a lot of murky but pertinent details that almost every other news account has either ignored or not followed up on.
     AKSARBENT, of course, has abbreviated and paraphrased and inserted its own opinion in brackets, so click on the above link to read Mr. Munson's perceptive, nuanced and intelligent recounting of this story up to now, not just AKSARBENT's crude bullet points.
  • Police have stressed they think the beating was prompted by a long-running dispute. [Yet they repeatedly have been unwilling to acknowledge that Andrews was on one side or another of said dispute. But they point to the long running "dispute" as the reason for Andrews' killing, not his perceived sexual orientation.]
  • Andrews wasn’t part of alleged vandalism to a car last week that preceded the Cottage Street confrontation in the early hours of Aug. 19, [Lt. Michael McNamee now says, unambiguously.]
  • Andrews happened to be sitting on the porch of his friend Nakita Wright’s home when he was accosted. (McNamee said there seems to have been a former romantic tie between one of the attackers and one of Andrews’ female friends.)
  • McNamee reiterated his claim that Andrews’ sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation had “nothing to do with the incident itself.”
  • Andrews’ family and friends thus far have chosen not to speak directly about his sexual orientation.
  • The pastor who will conduct Andrews’ funeral Saturday, the Rev. Marvin Jenkins of Union Missionary Baptist Church, has said that homosexuality is “not acceptable to God.”
  • Local DJs on African-American community radio station KBBG-FM 88.1 — which began broadcasting 35 years ago on Cottage Street — characterized Andrews’ death as “a clarion call to come together” and “a wake-up call for our children.”
  • McNamee characterized it as a “fairly quiet summer” for police before Andrews’ death. Some black community leaders agree that violence has been curtailed compared with just a couple of years ago.
  • Seven years ago, Thyanna Parsons, 23, also was a captain of the Crusaders when she was an innocent bystander killed in the middle of a gang shooting.
  • Andrews was an organ donor, and his kidneys, liver, heart and eyes will go to other people.

Cat vs. Dog duel

The video is funny but the reddit comments are better.

(Via towleroad; see bloglist.)

Donald Trump's $100 million 757 private jet

Aren't business expense tax write-offs for the wealthy wonderful? And hey... if you're in the business of gold-plating seat belt buckles, then the Donald may have helped you create a job! Don't you feel more prosperous?
     The plane cognoscenti are saying that this used 1991 build previously owned by Paul Allen couldn't have cost anywhere near $100 million, no matter how much more Trump may have pimped out the Microsoft cofounder's former toy.
     All disgust aside, AKSARBENT would NEVER purchase something so gaudy. Our bizjet would be a humble Honda, but unfortunately Honda doesn't make private jets. Oh wait... they do.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Marcellus Andrews' candlelight vigil in Waterloo, Iowa Thursday 8/25/11

Note: to read all AKSARBENT posts on this story, click on the "Labels" entry at the bottom of this post.

Kyle Munson, columnist for the Des Moines Register, described the scene in his YouTube annotation:
Jamodd Sallis, youth pastor at Union Missionary Baptist Church, speaks to mourners on Cottage Street as they gather around a makeshift shrine with their candles held aloft to honor Marcellus Andrews, the 19-year-old who was beaten to death Aug. 19 in Waterloo. Witnesses allege that anti-gay hate speech was used by Andrews' attackers in the beating.

Short Takes: Qaddafi's gay son, rich French willingly pay more taxes, FCC wants answers for 911 earthquake cellphone outages

The FCC is asking wireless providers the extent of, and why there was a logjam of 911 callers after Tuesday's earthquake. They don't like what they saw. 

While Muammar Qaddafi seems to have had a crush on Condoleeza Rice, his son al-Saadi seems to be more of a man's man.

Sixteen French tycoons, including L'Oreal Heiress Lilian Bettencourt, Total's Christophe de Margerie,  of oil firm Total, Societe Generale banker Frederic Oudea Air France's Jean-Cyril Spinetta offered, in an open letter, to pay a "special contribution" (more taxes) to curb that country's deficit and the government will oblige them.

Why I got arrested over the Keystone XL pipeline.

Hurricane Irene's impact on flights to and from Omaha's Eppley Airfield.

Here's a trippy Randy Halverson stop-motion video shot in South Dakota from June-August with Canon 5D Mark II, 60D and T2i cameras with Canon 16-35 and Tokin 11-16 lenses. Yes, that's a Whitetail buck at the 1:57 mark, he says. RAW format. Manual mode, Exposure was 30 seconds on most Milky Way shots, 20-25 on some of the storm shots, ISO 1600 or 3200 F2.8. Watch in full screen mode if you can.

Tempest Milky Way from Randy Halverson on Vimeo.

Bishop Eddie Long: Two accusers, Jamal Parris and Spencer LeGrande, will write a book about him

Their hush money settlement allegedly amounted to $15,000,000 split four ways before attorney fees (with $13 million paid by a church insurance policy.)
     Despite the fact that their share might be jeopardized by breaking their silence about the particulars of Atlantic gospel-of-prosperity charlatan Eddie Long's sexual exploitation of young males in his megachurch, two of Long's victims, Jamal Parris and Spencer LeGrande are speaking out anyway and plan to write a book about Long's behavior.

Goshen College in Indiana stops playing national anthem before games

Goshen College fountain. Photo: taygete05, Flickr
Actually, Goshen, a Mennonite college, never played the national anthem before games until 2010, when it began playing an instrumental version. Now it plays America The Beautiful instead, after complaints from the 58 percent of the students (and alumni) who thought The Star Spangled Banner inconsistent with a faith based on pacifism and global citizenship, and especially singled out lyrics like "the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air."
     While AKSARBENT welcomes the cessation of grandiose, enforced patriotic displays before public events and certainly supports the college's right to do whatever it wants, we would take issue with the characterization of The Star Spangled Banner as anything close to glorifying violence or jingoism.
     The lyrics in question, after all, depict the survival of the emblem of a small, new country, enduring a British bombardment, intact. We like that, subversives that we are.

Giant (Rock Hudson, Liz Taylor, James Dean) revisited by Steve Hayes in Tired Old Queen at the Movies

During filming in Marfa, Texas (also filmed in/around Marfa: No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood), Rock Hudson and James Dean briefly roomed together. Neither could stand the other.

Pittsburgh: gay protest outside Pleasure Bar on Liberty Avenue; five arrested — video

Stephen Goodman, 27, Ryan Lee Williams, 27, Adam Michael Staniszewski, 25, David Japenga, 22 and Chelsea Toone, 21 were charged with infractions which included obstructing highways and failure to disperse after they failed to move to Friendship Park. Police said they acted because the rally’s organizers failed to register for the proper permits and didn't alert them about the gathering.

Lauren Jurysta, 23, spurred the protest via a social-media video, text messages and word of mouth after she was threatened by a man with a gun Tuesday night while she was holding her girlfriend's hand. She said the assailant came out of the Pleasure Bar.

(If you don't see a video at the bottom of this post, click on the headline and it may appear.)

More video here:

Iowa Family Policy Center (now part of Iowa Family Leader) used tax dollars to fight gay marriage in iowa

An investigation by the Associated Press has revealed that Health and Human Services grants totaling about $2.2 million between 2006 and 2010 partially funded employee salaries and utility expenses as the Iowa Family Policy Center fought gay marriage.

The grant also paid for marriage counseling, though, according to one University of Iowa researcher who consulted on the grants, the IFPC refused to provide services to same-sex couples.

HHS documents reveal that in the final grant year, ended Sept. 30, the group used $192,000 of the money to pay part of the salaries and benefits of five employees, including longtime President Chuck Hurley, an activist known for lobbying and campaigning for a conservative Christian agenda.

The IFPC is part of the Iowa Family Leader, headed by Bob Vander Plaats, who is said to be paid about $120,000 per year.

Your tax dollars at work:

Video made by Iowa Family Policy Center in 2007

Vigils held for gay-bashed Iowa teen, Marcellus Andrews, murdered in Michele Bachmann's hometown, Waterloo, Iowa

Note: to read all AKSARBENT posts on this story, click on the "Labels" entry at the bottom of this post.

In Des Moines. (Click here to see KCCI report.)

(Jim Baldridge responded to Waterloo PD reasoning that hate crime charges could not be brought against the killers of Marcellus Andrews because they "had a history:" "It doesn't matter if they'd been fighting for ten years. "We're hoping that the state will step in and make Blackhawk County or the Waterloo PD look at this as a hate crime."

In Waterloo:

In Davenport:
(If video below does not appear in your browser, click on this post's headline.)

BP 1, polar bear SOL

Photo: ThePitcher, Flickr
Mother Jones reports that a security guard for oil giant BP at the company's oil field in Alaska's North Slope shot and killed a polar bear earlier this month.
BP Alaska spokesman Steve Rinehart said the guard thought he'd fired a bean bag round at the female bear but BP later discovered it was a "cracker shell" that mortally wounded her.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Capt. Owen Honors, maker of raunchy aircraft carrier videos, is allowed to keep his job

Captain Owen Honors was relieved of his command of the U.S.S. Enterprise when raunchy "XO Movie Night" video introductions that he made when he was execu­tive officer came to light.
A three-admiral board of inquiry unanimously agreed that Honors' actions constituted misconduct and substandard performance but that he could continue his Navy career of nearly 30 years.

Among the more inflammatory (among civilians) of the video scenes were those in which Honors playfully used anti-gay slurs, often directed at (nonstereo­typical) characters played by himself via trick videography. These nuances are seldom mentioned in news accounts and are a principal reason why few gay sailors were offended and many have come to Honor's defense.

Hours before vigils, Waterloo PD issues new press release on why it's not pursuing hate crime charges in death of Marcellus Andrews; no specifics cited

Note: to read all AKSARBENT posts on this story, click on the "Labels" entry at the bottom of this post.

It looks like Lt. Mike McNamee is no longer the go-to guy for police outsiders in this matter. After Waterloo police denied that any witnesses told any of its investigators anything about the homophobic slurs and taunts which those same witnesses later told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier preceded Andrews' beating death, the department now says:
Although offensive and disparaging words were being used during this incident, it does not rise to the threshold required by Iowa code to indicate a bias-motivated crime.
The applicable Iowa statute is this:
"Hate crime" means one of the following public offenses when committed against a person or a person's property because of the person's race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, political affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, age, or disability, or the person's association with a person of a certain race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, political affiliation, sex,
sexual orientation, age, or disability:
1. Assault in violation of individual rights under section 708.2C.
2. Violations of individual rights under section 712.9.
3. Criminal mischief in violation of individual rights under section 716.6A.
4. Trespass in violation of individual rights under section 716.8, subsections 3 and 4.
Click to enlarge

Now a movement is afoot in California, spearheaded by GetEQUAL via's website, to petition the F.B.I. field office in Omaha to investigate the matter as a federal hate crime.

How Koch Industries will profit from TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline

This video was made in May. Since then, the Keystone 1 pipeline, to which Keystone XL would be an extension, has leaked 5 more times.

What you can do

Bold Nebraska tells use that the US State Department has announced an additional round of meetings in the states along the pipeline route will take place in the state capitols of the pipeline states. Nebraska will get an additional meeting in the Sandhills and Texas will get an additional meeting along their coast.
We do not have the exact dates, but we know the meeting in Lincoln and the meeting in the Sandhills will take place in September.
     Detailed information on dates, times, and locations for public meetings will be published before the end of August on the website and will also be posted on Bold Nebraska's site.

Homophobic Iowa preacher in Bachmann for President ads fires 22 day care workers, makes them sign 'Christian Lifestyle Commitment Agreement' to reapply at reorganized daycare/preschool

Todd Ezren and Jeff Eckhoff of the Des Moines Register report that Jeff Mullen, pastor of Point of Grace in Waukee, Iowa will dissolve his church's Happy Time Daycare and Preschool in favor of a new creation, Point of Grace Children's Academy, beginning Sept. 6.

Last Friday, 22 employees were told that to keep their jobs they would have to reapply and sign a "Christian Lifestyle Commitment Agreement" forbidding sex outside marriage, pornography, drinking alcohol, using profane language and "behaving in a way that would question Christian testimony," whatever that means. Oh, and they also must attend church regularly.
Ben Stone, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa, said Point of Grace appears to be on solid legal ground based on rules that exempt some church-related jobs from discrimination complaints.

Nebraska Democratic Party embarrasses Omaha World-Herald into looking into AG Jon Bruning's suspiciously sudden wealth, accumulated while in office

"Only in the World-Herald?" Nah, how about "Cause and effect," in which the following ad in Wednesday's paper would be the cause...

...and today's front page World-Herald story would be the effect.

DADT: GQ says goodbye and good riddance

The current issue of GQ magazine (AKSARBENT's bible for everything military) includes a piece by Chris Heath, Do Ask, Do Tell, commemorating the end of Don't Ask Don't Tell (Ooh-rah, Hooah, and Hooyah) with interviews of several generations of current and past servicemembers. The article isn't on GQ's website, and since it's in the Fall fashion style issue, you have to flip through EIGHTY-SEVEN pages of serious-to-grim models in various states of hunger before discovering that the index starts on page 88. The reference to the article in question is on page 106 where any readers still alive are directed to page 232. You're welcome.

UDPATE: The article is now available to read on GQ's website here.

Marcellus Andrews death: Waterloo cops claim not a single witness mentioned any gay slurs to them (oddly, they did to the local newspaper)

Note: to read all AKSARBENT posts on this story, click on the "Labels" entry at the bottom of this post.

UDATE: Hours before vigils for Andrews start, Waterloo PD issues new press release

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier had this to say Wednesday:
Although witnesses told The Courier that they heard Andrews being taunted before the fight, police said the slurs weren't mentioned in interviews with officers.
So, the investigators at the Waterloo police department apparently considered a former cosmetology student turned interior design student so badass that a gang would want to make sure he never threatened them again by sitting in an enclosed porch?

Alright, let's suppose the investigators did ask the obvious and that none of the witnesses told them about the slurs.

Why would this happen?

Could it be because the witnesses felt that if the Waterloo police thought that Andrews was gay, that they wouldn't bother to fully investigate?

But if they really didn't say anything to the cops, why would they then turn around and spill the beans to the local paper?

Who's telling the whole truth?

Perhaps AKSARBENT is reading too much into this.

After all, Lt. McNamee has already told CBS affiliate KGAN in Cedar Rapids that Andrews and his killer/s "just happened to run into each other."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I-29 flood damage north of Council Bluffs

Now that Missouri floodwaters are receding, the scope of damage to I-29 is gradually being revealed. The Iowa Department of Transportation has released some very discouraging pictures.

Google forfeits $500,000,000 in Justice Department probe of AdWords ads by Canadian pharmacies

CNET reports that Google has agreed to forfeit half a billion dollars, covering the gross revenue it is estimated to have received as a result of Canadian pharmacies advertising through Google's AdWords program, and the gross revenue made by those pharmacies from their sales to U.S. consumers.
"We banned the advertising of prescription drugs in the U.S. by Canadian pharmacies some time ago," a spokesman for the company said in an e-mail. "However, it's obvious with hindsight that we shouldn't have allowed these ads on Google in the first place."
The U.S. Department of Justice had this to say in its press release:
...Under the terms of an agreement signed by Google and the government, Google acknowledges that it improperly assisted Canadian online pharmacy advertisers to run advertisements that targeted the United States through AdWords, and the company accepts responsibility for this conduct. In addition to requiring Google to forfeit $500 million, the agreement also sets forth a number of compliance and reporting measures which must be taken by Google in order to insure that the conduct described in the agreement does not occur in the future.
     The investigation of Google had its origins in a separate, multimillion dollar financial fraud investigation unrelated to Google, the main target of which fled to Mexico. While a fugitive, he began to advertise the unlawful sale of drugs through Google’s AdWords program. After being apprehended in Mexico and returned to the United States by the U.S. Secret Service, he began cooperating with law enforcement and provided information about his use of the AdWords program. During the ensuing investigation of Google, the government established a number of undercover websites for the purpose of advertising the unlawful sale of controlled and non-controlled substances through Google’s AdWords program...

Marcellus Andrews vigils, memorial and funeral schedule for Thursday, Friday and Saturday

Note: to read all AKSARBENT posts on this story, click on the "Labels" entry at the bottom of this post.

Nadia Crow of has provided a vigil/memorial/funeral schedule for Marcellus Andrews, who was beaten to death in Waterloo, Iowa on Friday, August 19, 2011.
Cedar Falls: University of Northern Iowa at Campanile at Central Campus at 8:30pm-11:30pm (no real candles allowed)

Cedar Rapids: Tree of Five Season on East Bank of 1st Ave Bridge at 8:30pm-10pm (will include speakers)

Des Moines: The Blazing Saddle at the State Capitol at 8pm-10pm

Dubuque: Town Clock Plaza at 8:30pm-10pm

Waterloo: at 200 block of Cottage Street, 8pm

The memorial for Marcellus Andrews is Friday at Union Missionary Baptist Church in Waterloo. His funeral will be at 11 am Saturday.

AKSARBENT asks: Do you live in Waterloo? Did you know Marcellus? Do you believe the Waterloo police are correct in claiming that his fatal beating was not a hate crime? Please comment below. Also, please let others know when Friday's memorial will start, as the time was not published by AKSARBENT's source, listed above. Thanks.

Gayest cities (well, towns) in USA, according to Census Bureau

White Party, Wood End, Provinctown, 9/8/9. Photo: Reflexblue, Flickr
...and the winners are: 1) Provincetown (with 163 same-sex couples per 1000 households, it's 8.4 times as gay as Manhattan (New York, not Kansas); 2) Wilton Manors, FL (140 gays couples per 1000 households) and 3) Palm Springs, CA (115 couples per 1000 households.

Source: The Williams Institute at UCLA Law School, via Gawker.

Oral Roberts' gay grandson speaks to CNN's Don Lemon on Joy Behar program

Waterloo police confirm they're not probing fatal mob beating of Marcellus Andrews as hate crime; Iowa Safe Schools and OneIowa think it is

Note: to read all AKSARBENT posts on this story, click on the "Labels" entry at the bottom of this post.

Still not listening: Waterloo Police spokesman
Lt. Michael McNamee
Waterloo police spokesman Michael McNamee has confirmed to the Des Moines Register that the Waterloo police department isn't probing the fatal gay-epithet-ridden beat-down of Marcellus Andrews last Friday as a hate crime despite ample evidence to the contrary.
“We've done multiple interviews and we have heard those allegations, but this was not because of his persuasion or the perception of his persuasion,” McNamee said. “These were all people who knew each other, and there was some bad blood between the two parties involved.”
     The disputes date back at least a year, and arguments escalated throughout Thursday and involved a vehicle being vandalized, McNamee said.
     “It all culminated in that area early Friday morning,” McNamee said.
     Detectives have identified suspects in the case, but no arrests had been made and no warrants had been sought as of late Tuesday, McNamee said.
(You may read more of the department's excuses here.)

The Rev. Marvin Jenkins of Union Missionary Baptist Church will officiate at Andrews’ funeral Saturday in Waterloo.

OneIowa and Iowa Safe Schools both see Marcellus Andrews' death quite differently. Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad has proclaimed Sept. 1., 2011, Safe Schools Day. Nate Monson, executive director of Iowa Safe Schools pointedly noted:
"A law is only as good as the dusty shelf it sits on, and we must heed the Governor's call to speak out against bullying and take advantage of the many resources available."

KCCI, Des Moines, says a vigil is planned in Des Moines on Thursday from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Blazing Saddle. In Cedar Rapids, a vigil is set for 8:30 to 10 p.m. at the Tree of the Five Seasons in downtown Cedar Rapids.

Against the back drop of Friday's homophobia fatality in Waterloo, Michele Bachmann's hometown, Mother Jones explores the school district in Michele Bachmanns district that Minnesota state public health officials have labeled a "suicide contagion area" because of the unusually high death rate among teens and especially gay teens. Many think there is a connection between bullying, desperation, suicides, and the policies of Michele Bachmann's antigay supporters in positions of power.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

'Question 1' looks back at 2009 Maine marriage equality loss at the ballot box

As Mainers gather signatures for another referendum on gay marriage, a new documentary, Question 1, filmed from within both camps, looks back at the 53-47 percent loss of Maine's 2009 ballot decision on marriage equality. Question 1 opens theatrically in September, first in Maine.

(Via Sofia Resnick, Iowa Independent)

GOP activist judge Charlie Prine bans gay dad from leaving kids alone with any male non-relative, including doctors, teachers and pastors

Texas Blogger Geoff Berg reports this story about a Harris County Judge who also just happens to be the Regional Political Director of the Republican National Committee:
A Houston judge entered an order on June 24 which prohibits a  father from leaving his children alone with any man they aren’t related  to “by blood or adoption.” Because there was no allegation of abuse in  the case, family law practitioners say the order is an unheard of  infringement on the rights of parents and a judicial condemnation of the  fact that the man, William Flowers, is not only gay but married to his  partner, Jim Evans.
     ...When William and his ex-wife divorced in 2004, they agreed that their  three children would live with her. Wanting to change the arrangement,  William recently filed for custody in Harris County. A jury found that  she should keep the kids, though his regular visitations would continue.  Neither William nor his ex-wife alleged that the children had been  abused or were in any danger of being abused.
     Following the trial, Harris County Associate Judge Charley  E. Prine, Jr.  issued a ruling which included an injunction applicable  only to  William. It prohibits him from leaving his  children alone with any male  to whom the kids are not related by “blood or  adoption.” So if, for  example, William wants to visit his  mother in the hospital (where she’s  been for several weeks), he can’t leave his kids at home with his  husband. As written, the injunction also prohibits male doctors,  teachers and pastors from being alone with the children...
     Teresa Waldrop,  who is board certified in family law and a member the of the Family Law  sections of the State Bar of Texas and Houston Bar Association, ...  said that not only had she never seen such an order, the provision is  “just not reasonable.” The fact that William can’t leave the children  alone with
any man to whom they aren’t related by blood or  adoption “strikes at the very heart of the fact that he’s gay…it’s  judicial activism, legislating from the bench,” and has nothing to do  with protecting the best interests of the children, said Cochran.
     William says he will appeal.
(Via towleroad; see bloglist.)

Can a geisha change the oil in a pickup? Yes!

Florida HIV disclosure law only applies to heterosexuals says appellate court

Todd A. Heywood of the Iowa Independent reports that an appellate court in Florida has ruled that the state’s HIV disclosure law does not apply in the case of a woman accused of having sex with another woman but failing to disclose her HIV-positive status.
The judges found that because the law referenced ‘sexual intercourse’ that it could only be applied to heterosexual activity since intercourse is only defined as “the penetration of the female sex organ by the male sex organ.” They overturned the woman’s conviction.

The ruling has already had an impact on a case in Treasure Island, where the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorneys Office threw out a case against a gay man charged with failing to disclose his HIV-positive status to his partner of four years.
Click here to see News13 video about Treasure Island HIV case.

Northwestern University scientists decide bisexuals exist after all

Northwestern University researchers have decided that the methodology which caused them to proclaim in 2005 that "it remains to be shown that male bisexuality exists" was flawed.

This time they picked their subjects more carefully, recruiting from online venues catering to bisexuals, not through ads in gay-oriented publications.

HRC's Road to Equality stop in Lincoln: 73% of Nebraskans don't approve of firing people for being gay; Most are surprised it's legal in Nebraska

The Human Rights Campaign interview begins at about 1:47
(Note: If the video window is absent, click on the headline.)

White House Keystone XL pipeline protest: '12 more days of this shit'—D.C. cop; New York Times comes out swinging against pipeline for the third time

Officer Cunningham turns to say "12 more days of this shit" as he awaits the arrest and processing
of remaining protestors on Sunday 8/21/11. Photo: Josh Lopez, Flickr
The New York Times has editorialized a third time against TransCanada's Keystone XL Pipeline:
...But a new report from Canada’s environmental ministry shows how great the impact of the tar sands will be in the coming years, even with cleaner production methods.
     It projects that Canada will double its current tar sands production over the next decade to more than 1.8 million barrels a day. That rate will mean cutting down some 740,000 acres of boreal forest — a natural carbon reservoir. Extracting oil from tar sands is also much more complicated than pumping conventional crude oil out of the ground. It requires steam-heating the sands to produce a petroleum slurry, then further dilution.
     One result of this process, the ministry says, is that greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector as a whole will rise by nearly one-third from 2005 to 2020 — even as other sectors are reducing emissions...
Six Nebraskans arrested Monday in White House pipeline sit-in