Sunday, November 30, 2014

25 years of AIDS research starting to pay off; leading researcher says scientists now know what ingredients of cure will look like

Extremist Sen. Deb Fischer: voters should show ID, but billionaires who buy elections may do so anonymously

Voter registration fraud is so small (statistically, it's zero) you couldn't see it with a microscope and actual vote fraud is even smaller, but extremist members of the GOP like Sen. Fischer perpetuate the myth that it's a real problem in order to justify requiring housebound elderly minorities to go get state IDs or be turned away from the polls. Guess which party that helps.

The day an entire nation stopped driving on the left and started driving on the right

The switch was called "Dagen H" and was imple­mented on September 3, 1967 at 4:50 a.m., at which time traffic every­where in Sweden was directed over to the right side of the road and stopped.
     At the time, large numbers of Swedes still drove Ameri­can cars with the steering wheel on the left.
     On the Monday following Dagen H, there were 125 reported traffic accidents, compared to a range of 130 to 198 for previous Mondays, none of them fatal. (Probably because everyone was extra careful.) After that everyone got used to it and the number of accidents rose to previous levels.

'Gay sex pics' searched more by Kenyans than any other nationality

This photo of wildlife photographer Chris Du Plessis does NOT depict the
recording of 'gay sex pics' and it was taken in South Africa, not Kenya.
AKSARBENT would also bet that the phrase "gay sex pics" is now being used by unscrupulous bloggers as the first three words in blog post head­lines as a Google trol­ling ploy. We disap­prove of this and think it reprehensible to use the phrase "gay sex pics" as a bait-and-switch lure to build traffic.
     Prof Makau Mutua of the Kenyan Human Rights Commission thinks this discovery by Google may cast Kenyans as world-beating hypocrites or,
Perhaps the loud opposition to homosexuality in Kenya is propagated by a tiny, but well organized and powerful minority. The silent majority could be cowed and afraid to speak up because of the stigma of being branded “ungodly”or “un-African.” Kenya’s mainstream press, the Mosque and the Church, and the political establishment give vent and legitimacy to homophobia.

Twitter is now tracking your smartphone apps

Got a gay or straight hookup app installed? A banking app? A political app? A brokerage app? A cancer, HIV or diabetes app? (If you have all three of the latter, plus a brokerage app, your local PBS station will probably want to talk to you about a legacy donation right away.)
     Twitter is now tracking the applications you've installed on your phone to target you for advertisers.
     This is facebook-level creepy. HuffPost explains here what you have to do to opt out of this latest digital home invasion.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

IA Gov. Branstad's day-long deposition in antigay bias job suit filed against him; case has cost IA $648k so far

Chris Godfrey
GOP Gov. Terry Branstad has a history of thumbing his nose at the law, but this time he has to answer in court for his behavior, and the cost to Iowans of defending that behavior has risen to $648,000, payable to a Des Moines law firm, LaMarca & Landry, that is defending him and his administration against a discrimination suit by former Iowa Worker's Compensation Commissioner Chris Godfrey. From the Des Moines Register:
     Branstad asked Godfrey and many others to submit resignations so that he could name his own management team. Godfrey declined. He noted he had been confirmed by the Iowa Senate for a six-year term that lasted until April 2015, and that his job was supposed to be insulated from political influence so that injured workers could receive fair hearings about whether they qualify for benefits.
     After Godfrey declined additional requests to resign, Branstad cut his pay by $40,000 to the lowest amount allowed for the job. Administration officials painted Godfrey as a poor commissioner whose decisions were hurting employers — which Godfrey denied. Godfrey stayed despite what he called a hostile environment, leaving in August for a federal appointment as chairman of the Employees’ Compensation Appeals Board
Godfrey says he was singled out for harsher treatment because he was gay. Branstad says he had absolutely no idea Godfrey was gay. Branstad's prior shenanigans:
Only little people obey speed limits: IA Gov. Terry Branstad
     Retaliating against a state trooper who stopped the state-issued SUV in which he and his Lieutenant Governor, Kim Reynolds, had been tearing down Iowa Highway 20 at 90 mph in April of 2013.
     Getting pulled over again for ignoring Iowa speeding laws in Franklin County four months later.
     Vacationing in sunny Arizona while letting Lt. Gov. Reynolds pretend she had no idea that $280,000 in secret severance payments were made to Democratic Iowa state employees the Branstad administration wanted to get rid of in order to hire GOP cronies.
Reynolds, said she had no idea about the quarter-million in secret severance payments before a story appeared in Des Moines Register, even though she was contacted about the apparent cronyism by the reporter before the piece was published.
     (One thing Reynolds hasn't hidden is the fact that she's
kind of a bitch,  on display at a 2012 Council Bluffs campaign stop when she introduced Paul Ryan, who is no piker in that department himself if his aside to a kid in the audience was any indication.)
     The severance payments were accompanied by tightly-worded confidentiality clauses as well as further inducements amounting to thousands of dollars each to at least two employees to sign additional agreements mandating secrecy, all of which caused Carol Frank, a former construction and design engineer who was laid off in September 2011, to liken the Branstad administration to “a group of renegades,” adding, “They just didn’t care about anyone else or about rules or law. They were just hiring their friends.”

Friday, November 28, 2014

The fearless leaders of our Nebraska Democratic Party take a bold stand against pandering to the electorate...

...Even as they subtly reminded the body politic that Dems are NOT like those faithless Rethuglicans who recently allowed automated billion-dollar Google and Facebook data centers to be snatched away from Nebraska, together with their several dozen accompanying jobs, which now have been added to Iowa's economy.
     Granted, Nebraska GOP state senators led the way in hastily concocted Cornhusker tax incentive giveaways to lure Silicon Valley plantations to the Midwest, but ultimately they failed because of evil Iowa and its evil plots to forge ahead with evil progressive wind energy.
     Beat Iowa! But not if it involves adopting wind energy, for Pete Rickett's sake.

After almost 30 years, the 2nd best gay flick ever made gets the Steve Hayes treatment

Some unsolicited tough love from Miss Coco Peru

Mae West's long gowns hid her larger-than-life secret

Susan Stamburg at NPR just did a piece on Boston's Museum of Fine Arts' new exhibit, "Hollywood Glamour: Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen," which includes gowns designed by Chanel and Edith Head in "quiet" fabrics that did not rustle enough to attract the attention of early mics. The exhibit is open until March 8.
     West, who stood between 4'11" and 5'2", wore ferocious pumps that elevated her 8 1/2 inches and may have had a lot to do with her inimitable walk.
     Each double-decker shoe had ankle-strapped white platform shoes bolted to a wooden silver pump.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Harvey Milk was killed 36 years ago today. So was Mayor Moscone. Where is the LGBT respect due him?

It was much-beloved Moscone who made Harvey Milk's election possible by tirelessly promoting district seats over at-large ones for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
     So it is richly and achingly ironic that the diversity Moscone worked so hard to foster in San Francisco ultimately benefited the 13-year-old closeted gay kid whose first name was Jonathan and whose last name was shared with His Honor because he was George's son — a son whose true nature his father did not live long enough to share, but unknowingly worked to cherish, dying in the process at the hands of an unhinged bigot.
     A little more respect, please, LGBT community.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

How Dear Abby once dispatched a homophobe

Dear Abby: About four months ago, the house across the street was sold to a "father and son" — or so we thought. We later learned it was an older man about 50 and a young fellow about 24. This was a respectable neighborhood before this "odd couple" moved in. They have all sorts of strange-looking company. Men who look like women, women who look like men, blacks, whites, Indians. Yesterday I even saw two nuns go in there!... Abby, these weirdos are wrecking our property values! How can we improve the quality of this once-respectable neighborhood? —Up In Arms
Dear UP: You could move.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

World-Herald celebrates Black Friday with 300% price increase, er -300% discount! Thanks, Warren Buffett!

Normally a Thursday edition is 75 cents, but the Thanksgiving edition, with the Black Friday ads, is $3 — 20% more than even a Sunday edition and 300% more expensive than a regular Thursday edition. You could argue that the huge size involves more ad insertion effort and distribution costs, but isn't the paper also making extra money from those inserts, many of which it profits from even more by printing itself?
     Hey — Warren Buffett, the paper's new owner, didn't go from zero to $60 billion (or whatever) by leaving money on the table, suckers. Wanna save money in stores? You gots to pay the discount crier first. Capiche?

Chicago's Field Museum just not up to the high standards of homeschooling Christer mom

Megan Fox (not the actress, who is undoubtedly much smarter) is QUITE suspicious of all the unsupportable evolutionary claims of Chicago's Field Museum, respected by many, but CERTAINLY not by Fox, whose faith-based skepticism demands to know how the museum knows what happened hundreds of millions of years ago without any video camera evidence. Below, her indignant, learned audit of the museum's tetrapod exhibit:
     "Tetrapods took their first steps around 307 million years ago."
     Who writes this stuff? How do they know this? They don't!
     ...Maybe they always had feet like that. Maybe that's the way they were made. With feet. Like alligators, you know, that are in the water AND the land? It's not like their fins fell off and then they grew feet. That's what they want you to believe: that the fins eventually fell off and then they grew some feet and they started walking on the land. This is the dumbest theory I've ever heard in my whole life. It's not good. It's really not good. It's bad. It's very bad...

     Do you know how complex feet are? ...Human feet are so complex that people who make robots have not been able to replicate feet. They can't make a robot with the same-dimensioned feet as a human being 'cause it won't stand up.
     For some reason, comments on scholarly Megan Fox's video exposing the bad science of the Field Museum have been switched off, which is a shame since her startlingly revelatory discourse is rapidly going viral.

(Via JoeMyGod via Raw story)

Small businesses in Ferguson taking brunt of nonresidents' violence

Cops are not allowing some owners inside their torched and trashed shops. Maybe the police should have been as stern while the vandals were inside the stores.
"They allowed 30 people to roam one mile and burn down those businesses."

If you're not Swedish, you probably mispronounce Jake Gyllenhaal's last name. Here, Jake corrects you

At the 1:10 mark:

Gov. Heineman's efforts to promote Nebraska internationally have really had an effect!

For the second year in a row, Buzzfeed asked staffers in its London office to find Nebraska, among other states, on a map.
     Again, the results were as dismal as they are hilarious.
     Maybe the $3.5 million spent on the governor's new  Beechcraft C90GTx airplane will help promote the state in other countries!
     Oh wait — sadly, the turboprop doesn't have enough range to cross an ocean.

A year after Guido Barilla told Italian radio he'd never put a gay couple in a pasta ad, HRC gives Barilla a perfect LGBT rights score

Barilla plant in Ames, IA. Another is in Avon, NY.
But still, no gay-inclusive Barilla ads seem to have surfaced, anywhere. (If so, we'd love to see them. HRC, how about it?)
     Since the world-wide PR debacle, Barilla has done a thorough job of burnishing its image, including paying LGBT bloggers to participate in its "Share The Table" promotion but it apparently still hasn't done what the chairman of the privately-held corporation vowed he would never do, in the remarks that got the company in hot water in the first place.
   Eight months after Barilla's chairman insulted gays, a gay pasta ad did appear in Italy — from Findus, a frozen-food brand marketed by the Iglo Group..
     Despite this fundamental lack of change, CNN just reported "Barilla goes from worst to first:"
      The company created a diversity and inclusion board, launched a training program for employees and contributed to LGBT causes.
      "I think the speed with which Barilla invested in these policies and benefits is a model" for other companies, Fidas of HRC said.
     When AKSARBENT checked, we found an interesting fact CNN left out of its report: HRC's high rating was for Barilla America Inc., hq'd in Bannockburn, IL. Barilla's two U.S. factories are in Avon, NY and Ames, Iowa.
     So, to reiterate:  HRC now applauds the U.S. subsidiary of Barilla, even though its two factories were already in gay marriage states that prohibited anti-LGBT discrimination and despite the fact that over 12 months later, Barilla does not appear to have acknowledged gay people in any ads in Italy or elsewhere, even though a different company, which sells frozen pasta dinners, already has done so in Barilla's back yard.
     CNN's observation that Barilla has recently contributed to LGBT causes makes cynical us wonder how much HRC got.
     Below: Italian MP baits two gay colleagues with 'fag bag' contents: "Barilla's right. From now on I only eat his pasta."


Justin Beiber learns to box!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ooops! Patriotic troller running interference for Koch Industries accidentally admits most Koch jobs are for foreigners, not Americans

But look at the nice American flags! (Don't read the fine print unless you want to know that (according to the tweet) only 60,000 of 143,000 Koch jobs go to Americans — fewer than half!)
     If that factoid doesn't catch your fancy, take comfort in the fact that this troller can spin out six at least six tweets of canned agitprop per minute.
     We got 38 from "Tom Nichols" earlier this evening about how wonderful the Kochs and Koch Industries are, even before we mentioned either of them (not that we had planned to.)
     Very productive results for whoever is paying him or her.
     But pretty off-putting — in a ham-fisted, blunt Koch Bros. kind of way.

Matt Baume's Marriage News Watch weekly wrap-up

Baume doesn't mention last week's Nebraska ACLU news conference announcing the filing of its federal suit against Nebraska's ban on gay marriage (...and civil unions ...and domestic partnerships, which named Jon Bruning, Dave Heineman and ), but he did mention the impending suit last week, and even retweeted AKSARBENT's photo and link to our post about ACLU Nebraska's efforts on behalf of the state's LGBTs.

Dave Wingert talks about being fired from KGOR, Omaha Radio and what the medium has become

Wingert has been in broadcasting for at least 40 years and has one of the most recognizable voices in Nebraska. He's also the only openly gay member of the Nebraska Radio Personalities ("Legendary Personalities" Division) that we're aware of, as well as a talented actor and formidable fundraiser for the Blue Barn Theater. Ten minutes of him on YouTube discussing his career and the changes in radio over recent decades is not NEARLY enough, but we'll take what we can get.

Facebook's new data center, 'where your likes live,'
is now online

Via Silicon Prairie News: The Facebook building is powered by 100 percent renewable wind energy
through the Wellsburg wind project and a partnership Facebook established with MidAmerican
Energy. The wind project brought 140 megawatts of new wind energy to the grid in Iowa.
Two years ago, Kearney, NE tried to snag this $1.5 billion data center with the help of a groveling Unicameral. In Feb. of 2012, AKSARBENT wrote:
     Nebraska state senators are falling all over themselves in a rush to pass two bills of tax-break boutique legislation to lure a company they won't identify to their constituents, who will be subsidizing the creation of as few as 30 [turned out to be 75] jobs with millions of dollars in tax and utility rate concessions.
     Ultimately the facility was built in gay-friendlier Iowa in large part because Iowa's more developed wind energy infrastructure appealed to FB. (Nebraska has more wind, but doesn't exploit it as extensively as progressive Iowa.)
     Via Megan Bannister of Silicon Prairie News come the PR stats, which AKSARBENT has stolen thoughtfully rewritten in Q&A format even though we confess that we have never seen or spoken to Megan Bannister, who, we guess, will now NEVER speak to us:
Question: How much optical fiber is in the building and would it wrap around the earth or reach to the moon, Megan?
Answer: 25,000 miles of fiber—that’s enough to wrap around the circumference of the earth and still have some left over.
Question: Oooh-la-la!
Question: Is the data warehouse property, er, "campus" bigger than Adventureland?
Answer: Yes, by 22 acres and it's 42 acres larger than Disneyland!
Question: AKSARBENT hates GOP political hack Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds in part because she once said Obama had no "style"at a political rally for Paul Ryan outside an Uncle Buck's at a BassPro in C.B., like she knows anything about "style." Was that bitch at the grand opening?
Answer: Facebook executives were joined by Senator Chuck Grassley, Iowa Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds, Iowa Economic Development director Debi Durham and Altoona Mayor Skip Conkling
Question: In Q3, Facebook sold $2.96 billion worth of advertising. Will it donate stuff to local charities to show the world it's as stunningly philanthropic as Iowa's generous and much-beloved casinos?
Answer: The company donated 30 laptops to Altoona Kids Klub, a before- and after-school care program serving about 400 students in Southeast Polk District Elementary Schools, and Altoona’s mayor mentioned Facebook has already been involved with the city’s Shop with a Cop Fundraiser. In October, Facebook announced a Community Action Grant program in Altoona targeted toward “nonprofits that meet critical community needs and that promote connection, sharing, economic development and improve the overall vitality of Altoona and surrounding communities,” according to its site.

Reddit users scorch FCC commissioner for vague, paltry answers during Q&A

Dana Liebelson of the Huffington Post explains what prefaced the event:
     The FCC is currently weighing whether to classify the Internet like a utility and restrict Internet service providers from charging content providers for faster Internet access. This month, President Barack Obama announced his support for that approach, known as "Title II." But net neutrality advocates are concerned that the FCC might go with a different proposal, which would allow for some degree of paid prioritization. Opponents of this plan say that it would threaten the openness of the Internet by making it harder for smaller sites to compete.
     When asked about her position on net neutrality, Clyburn, who is one of five FCC commissioners appointed by the president, said that she supports "a free and open Internet." She pointed out that in 2010, she supported Title II and a ban on paid prioritization, which is what Obama is asking for now. But she did not explicitly say that she still supports this plan. Instead, she wrote that she has "many of the same concerns I did four years ago, but have vowed to keep an open mind." Clyburn did not go into detail about what those concerns are.
Reddit users were so incensed by the charade that they downvoted Commissioner Clyburn's answers to oblivion, but one member collated them:
To read, click text box to enlarge it
 Some livid Reddit comments on the unfolding farce:

The Young Turks had Mignon Clyburn's number some time ago...

Monday, November 24, 2014

UT cops offed more people than gangs; former Omaha PD chief: unnecessary deaths can still be 'legal'

The Salt Lake City Tribune (the SLC daily not owned by the Mormon Chuch) says the state's cops are so trigger happy that in the last five years, more Utahns have died at their hands than at those of gang members or drug dealers or child abusers. And in 2014, the Utah fuzz are even ahead of the most common cause of homicide — violence between spouses and dating partners.
     Fortunately Omaha's former police chief, Robert Wadman, has weighed in on all this and urges a properly nuanced view of police mayhem:
     But Robert Wadman, a criminal justice professor at Weber State University and former chief of the Omaha, Neb., police department, said the factors leading up to the decision to shoot a subject are more subtle than what prosecutors consider when reviewing the legal justification. Under Utah law, an officer is justified if at the moment of the shooting the officer reasonably believes deadly force is necessary to prevent death or serious injury.
     "Sometimes the line between is it legal and is it necessary becomes difficult to distinguish," Wadman said. "In the judgment of the officer, ‘Is my life in jeopardy? Yes.’ At that point in time, they’re legally grounded in using deadly force. But the question is, is it necessary? That’s something that needs to be firmly addressed, for example, in training."

At long last, the Latter Day Saints Senate Majority Leader talks about his manhood

AKSARBENT has not been this riveted by LDS manhood since Howard Stern asked Donny Osmond if he was circumcised. (We must have fallen asleep during the yes/no answer as we do not recall it, perhaps due to the fact that we tend to tune out D.O. due to his heterosexual supremacist tendencies.
     Or maybe Howard (Israel! Israel!) Stern's contrived creepiness invoked our mental block yet again once we were tricked by radio promotion teases into listening.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Dick Cavett's 10th tweet is one of nastiest things he's ever said publicly about anyone

And he said it about a fellow Dick who was also born in Nebraska:
Mike Nichols, celebrated Broadway/Hollywood director and husband of Diane Sawyer, died Wednesday. AKSARBENT's remembrance was here
A calculating-looking Dick Cheney, age 5, in his College View kindergarten class
in 1946 after "transferring" from his first kindergarten class at Randolph School
     In 2004, Vice President Cheney invited his 1946 Randolph Elementary School teacher, 86-year-old Margaret Van Neste, to a campaign breakfast in Lincoln for Jeff Fortenberry, then running for Nebraska's First District house seat.
     The previous year, Cheney had told Van Neste's former teaching assistant, Phyllis Acklie, that one of his fondest Nebraska memories was attending kindergarten at Randolph Elementary School and being in Van Neste's class.
     What Cheney didn't say was that Neste hardly remembered him (perhaps she was being diplomatic) because that fall, in 1946, five-year-old Dick Cheney was kicked out of Randolph School abruptly transferred to College View Elementary School (now Calvert School.)
     So Yale may not have been the first educational institution to have asked Cheney to leave.
     This story gets better.
     After friends and family of Miss Sylvia Harney (nee Korbel), Cheney's College View teacher, got wind of the slight, the White House sent a belated invitation to her as well as Van Neste.
     Harney did remember Cheney — vividly.
     "He just took over," she told the Lincoln Journal-Star.

     Full disclosure: This post was written by a proud graduate of Calvert Elementary School, AKA College View Elementary School (national ranking: low).

SNL ripped Keystone XL twice yesterday, associating it with slimed birds and genitalia

The first slam came during Weekend Update when Colin Jost (Host Jost! It rhymes!) announced: "Democrats in the Senate were able to stop a bill authorizing the controversial Keystone XL pipeline even though the project could have created thousands of good jobs cleaning off birds."

Later, SNL's first openly lesbian cast member, Kate McKinnon, impersonating German Chancellor Angela Merkel, also had some fun with TransCanada, and President Obama: "America has turned their back to him. I will turn my back to him, but in the fun way... His Keystone pipeline is XL!"

Bill Maher saves Christmas from Kirk Cameron!

Towleroad notes that Cameron's new film is still bombing at Rotten Tomatoes.
     Maher on his atheist affection for Christmas:
As a fable, it's cute. I kind of like the story about the virgin who has a god baby in the barn. It's like an early episode of Maury Povich. "In the case of Baby Jesus, Joseph, you are NOT the father!"

Cameron has launched a two-front damage control assault on attacks on his film and his wretched personality by begging his fans to distort the lousy Rotten Tomatoes reception of his new flick by flooding the site with positive reviews and simultaneously squelching (via copyright claims) a fair-comment video mocking his attacks on LGBTs.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Intel hires America's favorite gay nerd to tease new 3d camera technology in upcoming ads

UPDATE: Intel isn't the first, or even the second company with imaging technology allowing a user to refocus a picture after it has been taken.

Jim Parsons is already banking $1 million per Big Bang Theory episode, so you know Intel didn't get him cheap. But it's not like the microprocessor behemoth is impoverished...
     Some serious coin is being exchanged here, Poindexter.
     Meanwhile, from Out (8/6/2014):
     For perspective, David Hyde Pierce was previously the highest paid gay actor, reportedly making up to $750,000 per episode when he was on Frasier. Other gay actors’ deals pale in comparison.
      Neil Patrick Harris, who is currently wrapping up his Tony-winning Broadway performance as Hedwig in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, only made $210,000 in his final season of How I Met Your Mother.
Oh look, here's another ad:

How to talk to your kids about gay country musicians

This is quite a delicate topic which AKSARBENT expects to be fully addressed in yet another egg-sucking Public Service Announcement from Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning.
     Oh wait — he's not running for anything right now. Never mind.

(via Towleroad)


In case you missed it, here is the CMA's Song of the Year for 2014. Watch until at least the 1:08 mark.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A poignant vignette about a mother, her gay son's suicide and his password

From "The Secret Life of Passwords" published today in the New York Times.
Standing at the park watching my 11-year-old son climb on the jungle gym, I struck up a conversation with a woman walking her dog, and I told her about my keepsakes idea. Like most people, she did not want her name used in my article, because she said her vignette was too personal; she also feared being hacked. But she proceeded to tell me that several months after her son committed suicide, she found his password written on a piece of paper at his desk: “Lambda1969.” Only then, after some Internet searching, did she realize he had been gay.

New York Times publishes Thanksgiving table recipe that "evokes" Nebraska; but gets it totally wrong

The newspaper actually published one for each state, presumably to elicit indigenous cuisine. Here's what the Times thinks is authentically emblematic of the Cornhusker state:

Oh bullshit. Nebraska's indigenous cuisine would be a Swanson TV dinner (first produced in Omaha, in 1953) washed down with Kool-Aid, invented in Hastings in 1927.

A 1951 packet of  Kool-Aid and a 1953 Swanson TV dinner

Finally, some news AKSARBENT can use

Go here, under-read bloggers.

NU student newspaper, in gay marriage editorial, likens Gov.-elect Pete Ricketts, Gov. Heineman and AG Jon Bruning to George Wallace, Joseph McCarthy, David Duke and Roger Taney

Commenting on last week's ACLU suit to overturn Nebraska's constitutional ban on gay marriage the student newspaper, distributed to about 25,000 people on the Lincoln Campus, had this to say in an op/ed about Bruning, Heineman and cagey incoming governor Pete Ricketts, who said little about LGBT rights during his campaign, included nothing about them on his web site, and even placed Internet ads next to gay content: — until he was elected, at which point he loudly proclaimed that he would "defend" the state against the ACLU's marriage lawsuit.
     Governor-elect Pete Ricketts stated, “Our citizens here in the state voted overwhelmingly that marriage is between a man and a woman,” and vowed to defend the constitutional ban. While Ricketts is correct that our electorate voted to ban same-sex marriages, it’s indubitably unconstitutional and an example of the tyranny of the majority. In a constitutional democracy, Ricketts’ argument is fallacious. What if we voted overwhelmingly to allow slavery? Or only allow rich, white men run for political office? Or appoint the badger as the official Nebraska State mammal? Some things are simply inalienably wrong or violate the Constitution. 
     ...Governor-elect Ricketts, Governor Heineman, Attorney General Bruning and the rest of the defendants in Waters v. Heineman, your names will be included on a list littered with the likes of George Wallace, Joseph McCarthy, David Duke and Roger Taney. The oath of office requires you to support the Constitution, not betray it. Blame your generation, religious beliefs or support for states’ rights all you want. In the end, history will not reflect kindly on you.

Tar Sands Timmy is rooting for Keystone XL!

Sustainable Keystone XL from MarkFiore on Vimeo.

Extremist Sen. Deb Fischer now bragging about killing an attempt to revive broadcasting's Fairness Doctrine

How radically right wing is Deb Fischer, really? Read this, from her website:

Deb Fischer: thumbs up for right-wing, unbalanced
agitprop on public airwaves, thumbs down for the old
rule of presenting both sides of controversial issues
     Seriously? Does Fischer really think her base is that stupid? On what planet does requiring broadcasters using publicly-owned airwaves to present both sides of controversial issues constitute "speech regulation"?
     Fischer has the shameless chutzpah to call broadcasting's Fairness Doctrine "radical," even though it was in effect for almost four decades, from 1949 until Reaganites killed it in 1987, in order to clear the way for what is now a slew of right-wing radio nutbags like Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage.
     The only thing radical here is Fischer, herself.
      Here's a fair and balanced Wikipedia explanation of the government policy whose attempted resuscitation she called "terrible."
     The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC), introduced in 1949, that required the holders of broadcast licenses to both present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was, in the Commission's view, honest, equitable and balanced. The FCC eliminated the Doctrine in 1987, and in August 2011 the FCC formally removed the language that implemented the Doctrine.
     The Fairness Doctrine had two basic elements: It required broadcasters to devote some of their airtime to discussing controversial matters of public interest, and to air contrasting views regarding those matters. Stations were given wide latitude as to how to provide contrasting views: It could be done through news segments, public affairs shows, or editorials. The doctrine did not require equal time for opposing views but required that contrasting viewpoints be presented.
      The main agenda for the doctrine was to ensure that viewers were exposed to a diversity of viewpoints. In 1969 the United States Supreme Court upheld the FCC's general right to enforce the Fairness Doctrine where channels were limited. But the courts did not rule that the FCC was obliged to do so. The courts reasoned that the scarcity of the broadcast spectrum, which limited the opportunity for access to the airwaves, created a need for the Doctrine.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mike Nichols, Oscar-winning director of The Graduate and husband of Diane Sawyer, dead at 83

Nichols also had an Emmy, Tony and Grammy. He was already a celebrated Broadway director and half of the sketch comedy team of Nichols/May (Elaine May) when he directed his first film, Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf, nominated for 13 Oscars, including Best Director, an award he had to wait to win until his second film, The Graduate, which made Dustin Hoffman a star.
     The New York Times obituary is here.

Below: the dance scene from Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolfe, starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal and Nebraska's Sandy Dennis, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her Nichols-directed performance.

Country singers Ty Herndon and Billy Gilman have now officially stopped impersonating heterosexuals

2014 has been a terrible year for homophobes who wish gays would just STFU. Yesterday, the Country Music Asoociation chose a gay-affirming tune as Song Of The Year and now this: Ty Herndon came out here and Billy Gilman came out here.
     Below: Herndon's Living In A Moment and Gilman's She Wanted More (Let's hear it for coded messages!)

Minden, NE persuades resident to remove sign: "AIDS, Ebola, Obama — Thanks, Africa"

KLKN interviewed Minden resident Chris Nielsen, who
was not amused by the anti-Africa sign, saying it had
"tones of racism."
Minden, (pop. 3,000) calls itself Nebraska's Christmas City and puts on a holiday pageant, so the timing of a homemade billboard tirade (which borrowed a right-wing Internet meme) couldn't have been worse.
     Via Deena Winter of Nebraska Watchdog:
     Word of the sign in the central Nebraska town of about 3,000 spread quickly on Facebook, where outraged citizens immediately began talking about vandalizing, tearing down or painting over the sign. By Tuesday morning, the sign had been removed.
      One man asked what kind of poles it was erected on, saying “I need to know if I need a metal blade or wood blade for my reciprocating saw.”
     “Who’s got a paintball gun I can borrow?” another man asked.
     ...Brett Maline, a Minden native now living in Hollywood, spread the news of the “awful sign” on Facebook, saying he’s proud to be from Minden and the sign is not representative of the town.
     “I fear that people driving through will not know this,” he wrote on Facebook. “This angers, saddens and embarrasses me and I hope it would you too. Let’s get something done about it.”
     A city hall receptionist told Tuesday morning, “It’s been taken down.”
Nicholas Bergin of the Lincoln Journal-Star reported that it was Mayor-elect Ted Griess who talked to the unidentified sign-maker:
     ...Griess spoke Monday evening with the person who put the sign up and asked him to take it down. He did.
     “I tried to point out to him that a sign of that nature alongside a highway gives the wrong image for a community,” Griess said. “It was just a citizen who, I guess, was expressing his political viewpoint. He had the right to do so, but it was a sign I interpreted, and I think the vast majority of citizens interpreted, as being very distasteful.”
     ...Griess said many of those reacting had made a “mountain out of a mole hill.”     “I wish it would go away, but it hit the social media,” he said.
     Outgoing Minden Mayor Roger Jones said most people in town had not seen the sign.
    “It’s over, done and forgotten about as far as I’m concerned,” he said.

Keystone XL: Indefatigable head of Bold Nebraska almost loses it on the Ed Show pondering Obama surrender

Cows don't like benzene-flavored water polluted by pipelines
Photo: Alex Bartok

It's easy to understand why Jane Kleeb momentarily clutched (at the end of the first video) during a discussion of Keystone XL, the pipeline that will raise gas prices in the Midwest up to 40¢ per gallon.
     The pipeline the GOP claims is essential but that Canadian oil executives say isn't.
     The economic ruination of her farmer and rancher friends and neighbors was probably floating through Jane's imagination — not that it's much of a stretch to imagine the huge Ogallala Aquifer, literally the wellspring of Nebraska's $20 billion ag industry, fouled by the company whose last pipeline (Keystone 1) leaked at least 12 times (that we know about) in its first year.
     Here's the discussion after the the GOP attempt to force President Obama to approve the building of Keystone XL narrowly failed in the Senate Tuesday.

     Here's the discussion on the eve of that vote, in which Canadian oil execs reveal that the pipeline isn't indispensable. (But hey, what would they know about petroleum production next to Mitch McConnell, Kentucky's #1 oil slick?)


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Motown star Jimmy Ruffin, older brother of Temptations singer David Ruffin, died Monday at 78

Ruffin passed away in a Las Vegas hospital of unspecified causes. His brother David died at 50 in 1991.

From Ruffin's Wikipedia entry:
     In 1961, Jimmy became a singer as part of the Motown stable, mostly on sessions but also recording singles for its subsidiary Miracle label, but was then drafted. After leaving the Army in 1964, he returned to Motown, where he was offered the opportunity to join the Temptations to replace Elbridge Bryant. However, after hearing his brother David, they hired him for the job instead so Jimmy decided to resume his solo career. Jimmy Ruffin recorded for Motown's subsidiary Soul label, but with little success.
     In 1966, he heard a song about unrequited love written for The Spinners, and persuaded the writers that he should record it himself. His recording of "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" became a major success. The song reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #6 on the R&B Chart. It also initially reached #10 in the UK singles chart, rising to #4 when it was reissued in the UK in 1974. "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" remained Ruffin's best-known song.

The Country Music Association's Song of the Year is Kacey Musgrave's gay-affirming, pot-affirming Follow Your Arrow

Writing in Slate, J. Bryan Lowder took note of Jillian Mapes' observance that commercial country radio programmers lag the genre's fans in acceptance of LGBTs:
“Follow Your Arrow” may have received a modest amount of radio airplay — peaking at No. 43 on Billboard‘s Country Airplay chart — but it fared better on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart (No. 10), which is determined by streaming and digital sales in addition to airplay. Clearly, these are stories people want to hear, even if commercial radio programmers were hesitant to offer them up. “I wish I could play that song on my station” was a sentiment echoed in various forms by country programming directors in a Billboard story from last year.
Lowder also documented Musgrave's impatience with the reactionary shitheads who act as the broadcasting gatekeepers of country music:
When asked her about the need for country to embrace the LGBTQ community, she was crystal clear:

It never happens and I'm sick of it. It's ridiculous. Whether or not you agree with gay marriage or the fact that people don't choose to be gay, we share the same emotions, needs and wants. I just think that everyone should be included in that. It's definitely time. 
Unrelated: This morning, NPR announced that Billy Currington is 41 today.

Buffalo redefines "snowbound"

The snow fell in bands; parts of the Buffalo area have six feet and 2-3 more feet are expected from a different storm already on the way:
     Snow plunged off one family's roof with such force that it blew in the back door, filling a room with snow.
     "It was a huge crash. We all started running back there. We actually thought that it was the roof coming down in the house," said Chrissy Gritzke Hazard, who was home with her husband, five children and three of her children's friends Tuesday. "We were definitely not expecting it to be the doors blown out, the frame, everything, inside the house."

Popularity of Russian hate groups — "xenophobic, homophobic and racist" — is widespread and growing

Do not watch this at work.

(Via JoeMyGod)

Environmentalists react to Keystone XL Senate vote

Here's the press release, which we swiped from Bold Nebraska, which has a clever way for you to make sure President Obama vetoes the pipeline, should the new GOP Senate vote the other way in January. (Click on the link, above)
     Want to know how YOUR senator voted last night on this issue? Click here.

For Immediate Release: November 18, 2014
Contact: Jake Thompson,, 202-289-2387
Jane Kleeb,, 402-705-3622
Mark Westlund,, 415-977-5719
Karthik Ganapathy,, 347-881-3784
Jeff Gohringer,, 202-454-4573
Luísa Abbott Galvão,, 202-222-0716
Valerie Love,, 510-274-9713
Whit Jones,, 914-671-1880
David Turnbull,, 202-316-3499
Sabrina King,, 605-716-2200
Julian Boggs,, 202-461-2462
Elijah Zarlin,, 415-369-2014

Senate Votes Down Keystone Approval Bill
as Momentum Builds Toward Rejection

The Senate voted today to reject a bill forcing approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. In spite of heavy pressure from the oil industry’s friends in Congress like Sen. Mary Landrieu, key Senators held strong against the dangerous project, recognizing that the pipeline would not be in our national interest because it would threaten our land, water, and climate while bringing no economic benefit to the American people.
     Today’s vote is yet another blow to the pipeline’s prospects, as recent momentum has shifted against approval of the controversial project. Recent polling showed that as Americans have had more time to learn about the Keystone XL, support for the pipeline has waned. President Obama has also made it clear that he has serious reservations about the project, telling reporters last week that the pipeline would “[provide] the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else. It doesn’t have an impact on US gas prices.” The president has also reaffirmed his commitment to evaluating the pipeline based on its impact on climate, which experts agree would be significant.
     Environmental and landowner groups applauded today’s vote as one more step in the road to rejection for the pipeline.
     “Today’s defeat of Keystone XL should send a strong signal to the incoming GOP-led Congress that farmers and ranchers will never back down to their oil soaked intentions. We call on Pres. Obama to stand up and reject Keystone XL now,” said Jane Kleeb of Bold Nebraska.
     The bill would have turned Congress into a permitting authority, overriding environmental law, and giving a green light to a pipeline project that would worsen climate change and threaten water quality. The Senate did the right thing to reject the misguided bill, and now the president should do the right thing and reject the pipeline,” said Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
     “We applaud the Senators who stood up for the health of our families and our climate by fighting back against this big polluter-funded sideshow. There’s no good reason the Senate should have wasted all this time on yet another meaningless push for Keystone XL. Since day one, the decision on the pipeline has belonged to President Obama, and he has repeatedly said he will reject this pipeline if it contributes to the climate crisis. As there is no doubt that it does, we remain confident that is precisely what he’ll do,” said Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club.
     “Once again, Congress tried to play games with our future–and failed. Since Keystone XL has always been President Obama’s decision, this vote was never anything more than an empty gesture of political theater,” said Executive Director May Boeve. “Rather than letting Congress continue to play politics with our climate, President Obama should step up and reject this dirty tar sands pipeline once and for all. By dramatically accelerating the expansion of tar sands oil development, Keystone XL clearly fails President Obama’s own climate test. The pipeline is a lose-lose for everyone except for TransCanada. The President has all the information he needs to reject this pipeline now, and we’re going to stand by him to make sure he does.”
     “We thank all the Senators who voted against this dangerous Keystone legislation, and we’re more confident than ever that this pipeline will never be built. The decision remains right where it belongs – with President Obama and Secretary Kerry. In the last week alone, President Obama announced a game-changing climate change agreement with China, committed $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund, and raised his strongest concerns to date about Keystone XL. This outstanding leadership builds on the Clean Power Plan and other clean energy accomplishments, and we believe that President Obama will remain consistent with that approach by rejecting Keystone XL,” said League of Conservation Voters (LCV) Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Tiernan Sittenfeld.
     “It is likely that for the next two years we will be faced with one of the most anti-environmental congresses in US history. Today, the movement in opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline defeated Congress’s first salvo and showed that we will not let Congress attack our public health and destroy the environment,” said Ben Schreiber, Climate and Energy Program Director with Friends of the Earth.
     “This vote offers a glimmer of hope that there’s some sanity left in the Senate,” said Bill Snape, senior counsel with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Still, it’s really disturbing that the vote got this far. Keystone XL would be a disaster for our climate, environment and wildlife – we’ve got no business giving it serious consideration, especially for what it’ll do to the climate. Here’s hoping we can now move on to bigger, better energy policies that don’t put profits ahead of future generations.”
     “Keystone XL is breathing its last breath, and it’s time for President Obama to rise to leadership and outright reject it once and for all,” said Kendall Mackey, Tar Sands Organizer with Energy Action Coalition. “Young people have voted, sat-in, and made our voices heard, and now that Congress has rejected Keystone XL, it’s time for President Obama to put the final nail in the coffin.”
     “The pundits keep saying it’s inevitable that we will lose the tar sands pipeline wars, but activists just keep winning battles” said Steve Kretzmann of Oil Change International “This pipeline makes no sense in today’s oil market, before you even begin to consider climate and the rights of landowners. Republicans and oily Democrats need to face facts – Keystone XL will never be built”.
     “After the recent election the Republicans expressed the desire to work with President Obama. We hope that Congress is serious about this and that they will stop having these votes and let the Presidential Permit process play out as it has been designed to do,” said Paul Seamans, a Dakota Rural Action member whose land is crossed by the proposed Keystone XL.
     The approval of the Keystone XL pipeline is a line in the sand, but this isn’t the stuff of playgrounds. This dangerous project will threaten drinking water and make it extremely difficult to avoid the worst impacts of global warming. We applaud today’s vote and all those senators who stood up against tremendous pressure from the oil industry and its allies and did the right thing for our communities and our children’s future. Unfortunately, we know this isn’t the last time the Senate will attempt to do the bidding of Big Oil. Ultimately, we’re counting on the President to continue his leadership on climate and veto any measure to force approval of this dirty pipeline,” said Anna Aurilio, Global Warming Solutions Program Director with Environment America.
     “This is the president’s decision, and he is going to reject Keystone XL, as he steps up and at long last starts using his executive powers to combat climate change,” said Elijah Zarlin, CREDO’s senior campaign manager. “All this Senate vote proves is that a handful of Democrats are standing on the wrong side of history to join Mary Landrieu in a last ditch effort to protect the oil industry’s profits.”

Amy Goodman gets flashed by Russell Brand on TV

This was well into the show, recorded in London, and was followed by a clip of Noam Chomsky at the U.N. wishing out loud that the U.S. would at least obey its own laws if it can't obey international ones, citing its massive support of Israel in contravention of domestic legislation prohibiting support of governments which systematically suppress human rights.
     Brand may have been frustrated and seeking an outlet after Goodman's clear admonition to him that he would not be allowed to swear during his appearance because Democracy Now! is broadcast over the air in some locations.
     Following that, Ms. Goodman seemed to backpedal when reminded by Brand that she had revealed that Noam Chomsky once bit her father at summer camp.
     Goodman, clearly in a revisionist mood, now maintains that she might have confused Chomsky's biting wit for something more visceral.
     Brand then drew a connection between the alleged incident and the name "CHOMPsky."

NOTE: After seeing the above, AKSARBENT went to sleep and, upon waking, wondered if the memory of all this was from a bizarre dream (in which case it could not be blogged) or from reality. We were relieved to find the web page still open in our browser and the post almost completely written.

Sen. Deb Fischer: now a tool of cable/telecom Internet service providers, not just foreign oil companies!

Yeah, and we're disappointed in Sen. Fischer's revelation that she is now carrying water for the cable industry and telecom ISPs — by her opposition to net neutrality — as well as the outrageously dishonest spin she is trying to put on President Obama's attempt to preserve it.
     We guess trying to help a foreign oil company jack up oil prices in the Midwest just isn't doing it for Sen. Fischer any longer, and she has now branched out to new ways of double-crossing the voters who thought she might represent their interests and not those of corporate buccaneers.
     As for Fischer's professed concern about, we assume, United States jobs generated by the Keystone XL pipeline project she is trying to force on rural Nebraska, perhaps she would look a little less phony and contrived if she displayed any concern at all about the fact that TransCanada, is buying huge amounts of pipe from Indian, not U.S. steel mills.
     Just saying. 

First openly gay Navy SEAL, from Alabama, is interviewed about his new book

59 senators just voted to raise Midwest gas prices by up to 40 cents per gallon: here are their names

Robin Hoods in reverse: Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and
Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) both voted for the GOP-led attempt
to transfer billions of dollars from the wallets of Midwesterners
to the profits of a foreign oil company by forcing approval of
the Keystone XL pipeline.
The vote (S.2280) was another attempt to force approval of the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline from the Canadian border to Houston.
      This isn't an oil pipeline; it is diluted bitumen ("dillbit"), an abrasive pipe-destroying goo which won't flow unless thinned with carcinogenic solvents whose exact composition TransCanada refuses to disclose to the landowners it has threatened with eminent domain condemnations even though it doesn't yet have a permit to build the pipeline.
     Also, the stuff must be pressurized up to 1600 PSI (conventional crude flows at 600 PSI) and heated up to 160 degrees.
     Because unusually toxic dillbit isn't technically oil, TransCanada (and Exxon, for that matter) refuse to kick in eight cents per barrel to the Treasury Department's Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. Last week, when House Democrats tried to require the Keystone XL pipeline project to do that, House Republicans shut them down in a 224-192 vote Nov. 14th. 
     California Sen. Barbara Boxer led the charge to defeat the bill, which needed 60 votes to pass but got 59. The legislation fast-tracks the construction of the extension to TransCanada's leaky Keystone 1 pipeline (which averaged 1 spill per month in its first year) across an extremity of the largest, purest underground aquifer in North America, which, in Nebraska alone, fuels a $20 billion ag industry.
     Apologists have claimed that the pipeline will create lots of U.S. jobs.
     It won't; few of the jobs will be permanent. (TransCanada is even buying pipe from India.)
     Boosters also claim that the pipeline will create energy independence for the U.S.
     That is also nonsense; the pipeline is through the U.S., not to the U.S. The product will be refined in Houston and sold on the world oil market to the highest bidder.

     As Sen. Boxer correctly noted, Keystone XL WILL RAISE MIDWEST GAS PRICES. Consumer Watchdog says the increase will be up to 40 cents per gallon. 
     Don't believe it? Then read the TransCanada email revealing that the company thinks the pipeline could increase what U.S. Midwesterners pay for oil BY ALMOST TWO BILLION DOLLARS per year.

Here are the 59 senators who voted to increase TransCanada's profits at the expense of consumers in the Midwest: