Sunday, May 31, 2015

WIRED: U.S. tried to sabotage N. Korea nuke program with Israeli Stuxnet worm, but failed

     The targeted machines in Iran, like those in North Korea, are not connected to the internet. So the attackers had to devise ways to get the weapon onto those air-gapped machines. They did so by infecting five Iranian companies that are in the business of installing Siemens and other brands of industrial control systems at Natanz and other facilities throughout Iran. The attackers targeted these companies with the hope that contractors working at Natanz would carry the weapon into the well-guarded facility.
     While the plan worked beautifully in Iran, it ultimately hit a snafu against North Korea where the nuclear program is even more tightly controlled than Iran’s and where few computers—belonging to contractors or anyone else—are online and accessible via the internet.

15,000 right- and left-wing web sites block Congress to protest illegal NSA domestic surveillance

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum told NBC news he doesn't think the NSA and other agencies have abused the Patriot Act, up for reauthoriza­tion. The author of that law disagrees. The code that  blocks congressional IP addresses from accessing your website is below. Click the "How It Works" graphic to read the HTML code and copy it (Exactly! — no typos) into your website, if you wish.

HRC revisits Rick Santorum's repeated attacks on LGBTs

The clip about Rick Santorum's justification of his hostility toward LGBTs by citing his Catholicism reminded us of the recently concluded Unicameral session during which the Catholic hierarchy orchestrated a cut-and-paste email campaign against an LGBT employment bill outlawing bias but did not similarly lobby against the death penalty.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Bombshell: Rachel Maddow exposes squalid saga of Nebraska's attempt to score illegal execution drugs

It turns out that the DEA confiscated illegally-acquired execution drugs four years ago during the Heineman/Bruning regime and now the Ricketts/Peterson team is doing the same thing again — on the taxpayer's dime.
     The emails Maddow used to bust this latest GOP chicanery came from a public records request by the Nebraska ACLU.
     In researching this story Maddow discovered that two other as-yet unnamed states are trying the same ploy. Public records requests are now underway across the country to find out which states those are.
     Even the Omaha Police Union is helping to mislead the public about the probable success (nil) of this appalling endeavor.

Nikon very proud of its new "monocoque" camera

Above: screen shot composite from
two Nikon D750 promotional videos.
The Nikon D750 is Popular Photography's Camera of the Year for 2014, flare issues notwithstanding.
     Its body is a hybrid of magnesium alloy (top and back) and carbon fiber (rest of the camera), but it's OK with Nikon if you just call it "monocoque" because that's what they call it.
     Camera seller Digital Rev's snarky, irreverent reviewer, Kai W., noted that relative to the D810 and D610, the D750 is "kind of like a weird hybrid." (Referring to the camera's autofocus system, not the body).
     To illustrate this not-hard-to-grasp concept to Digital Rev's 500,000 subscribers, Kai had a buddy/model wear a skirt, er "hipster dress," commenting, "You're not quite there. You haven't gone, like, full lady-like... one ass cheek's lady, one ass cheek's dude."
     After those comments, we're guessing Digital Rev isn't being swamped with D750 orders from transgender photographers — even after assurances that cameras sold as new by the company are no longer repackaged after having been used for promotional shoots done on a really hot day:
     "Then I found other photos DigitalRev had taken with my camera, before it dawned on me that the images were actually from product reviews by DigitalRev TV."
     "When I watched the reviews, I saw that my camera was being used as part of their production equipment." To make matters even worse, the presenter handling the camera was featured complaining about being “particularly sweaty and odorous” that day and even wiped himself down with a feminine hygiene product.
     He also put his hands down his pants before using the camera again."

Friday, May 29, 2015

MSNBC: widely-reported gay marriage study may be bogus

UCLA grad student Michael LaCour's coauthor, Donald Green, has requested a retraction by the journal Science of their paper after LaCour's lawyer admitted that his client lied. The study claimed that short conversations by canvassers about gay marriage could change the views of people on the issue.
     The journal Science said it was looking into the allegations. In the meantime, it published an "Editorial Expression of Concern" to alert readers to the fact that the paper might be bogus.
     The study — which was picked up by many media outlets — claimed a 20-minute conversation with a gay canvasser produced a big change in attitudes toward same-sex marriage, and that the shift in thinking could last for nine months.

     The Stanford researchers said that when they contacted the survey firm LaCour supposedly used, it knew nothing about the project and they discovered the staffer they thought had carried out the work didn't even exist.
     Green said that when LaCour was confronted, he refused to turn over contact information for the survey respondents and claimed the raw data had been accidentally deleted.
     LaCour's lawyer has confirmed two false statements in the published study: that survey respondents were given cash incentives to participate, and that funding was provided by a number of well-known non-profits.

Nebraska ranked 8th-worst state for LGBTs

Source: Movement Advancement Project
Even if the US Supreme Court ruled Nebraska's constitutional ban of gay marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships uncon­stitutional, the state would still be among those which offer no statewide protection to LGBTs from being fired from their jobs, kicked out of their homes, or denied access to doctor’s offices and restaurant, or having their children protected from discrimination in school for having LGBT parents. And Nebraska would still permit parents to subject their children to harmful and discredited "conversion therapy.”
     Possibly related: Omaha's Gay Day parade will be held in another state this June for the third consecutive year.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Broadway/sitcom star Andrew Rannells recounts growing up gay in Omaha

AKSARBENT has done several posts about Rannells (here, here and here), but the best one was about him holding up a WOWT6 mug on Seth Meyers while discussing a scene in which he received  gave a hand job from> to another (male) actor (also from Omaha—Yay!)  in a scene from Girls. Although local TV loves to regurgitate network shoutouts, WOWT was strangely silent about this. Mute, even.

Satire: The Duggars explain their little PR problem

It's an ill wind that blows nobody some good: Today the New York Times is reporting that 20 sponsors of TLC's 19 Kis and Counting have bailed; meanwhile huge advertisers are reportedly "fed up" with rampant FIFA corruption.

Religious Freedom explained by Betty Bowers, America's best Christian!

Senators Beau McCoy, Mike Groene, Joni Craighead, Lydia Brasch, Bill Kintner, David Schnoor, Dave Bloomfield and Omaha's Roman Catholic Archdiocese understand this very well. Now you can too!
By repackaging prejudice as liberty, religious freedom is a magical back door to that happier time before civil rights. Because it's not prejudice if you call it religion!

Throwback Thursday: Etienne Daho — Tombé pour la France

I heard this 1986 European hit once in Lincoln back in the late 80s on a local show on KUCV and found it twenty years later on YouTube.

GOP Gov. Ricketts' execution drug con falls apart: FDA says he won't get the death penalty drugs you paid for

Gov. Ricketts' game of execution brinkmanship failed today. Following last week's 32-vote approval of a death penalty repeal, he promised a veto and strong-armed GOP senators in the Unicameral to get his way.
     One of the ploys, aside from lowballing or ignoring the cost of death sentence appeals in dozens of interviews, was to assure senators that he had solved the state's illegal execution drug problem by purchasing, with your taxes, over $50,000 worth of Kevorkian juice from India.
     But the FDA has something to say about that: Ricketts isn't going to get his poison anytime soon.
     Ricketts did manage to pick up a vote from Tyson Larson, who abstained in the LB283 vote last week but said that after today's vote to sustain the Gov.'s veto, he is ready to wash his hands of the whole death penalty business.,
     In the end Ricketts only flipped two senators: Jerry Johnson and John Murante, who, finger to the wind, actually blamed his opportunistic, too-clever-by-half flip-flop on the voters in his district lobbying him first one way, then the other. What's a spineless politician supposed to do in the face of that, huh? Larson notwithstanding, flipping two senators wasn't enough as it still left 30, just enough to override Ricketts' veto.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

NE Unicameral overrides GOP Gov. veto of death penalty abolition with no spare votes; how they voted

Click to enlage

Live, now: NE debates whether to override Gov. Ricketts' veto of death penalty abolition

Our entries so far...

Iona Institute patron says American money bought Irish gay marriage referendum

Her Wiki page says:
     "O'Brien is a patron of the Iona Institute, a conservative Catholic pressure group, and appears regularly in the Irish media as a contributor, supporting the teachings of the Catholic Church.
     In her Irish Times column, she has expressed her opposition to abortion in all circumstances, including rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality, and to same-sex marriage.
     Her stance on civil partnerships has changed. Initially opposed to them in 2008, and 2010 by 2015, in the run up to the Irish marriage equality referendum, she claimed to be in support of them.
     In 2015, The Independent reported O'Brien's opinion that gay couples, then prohibited from marrying, should abstain from sex like unmarried straight couples.
     Here's what O'Brien said just before the Irish referendum about the funding of the pro-marriage equality opposition:
According to Atlantic, GLEN [The Gay and Lesbian Equality Network] received $4,727,860 between 2005 and 2011.
     Yes, four and three quarter million dollars. (Incidentally, GLEN explained to The Irish Times in 2013 that it gets only half its funding from Atlantic.)
     In 2009, GLEN had 348 media appearances – 179 broadcasts and the rest ranged from national newspapers to the Law Society Gazette. Almost one per day.
     Let’s not forget Marriage Equality, whose name even ended up on the referendum ballot paper. They got a mere $475,215 from Atlantic.
     ...Oh, and the other part of Yes Equality, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL)? From 2001 to 2010, it got $7,727,700 and another $3,829,693 in 2010 and 2013.
      ...This is not Atlantic Philanthropies funding a hospital or school. This is foreign money being systematically invested to change public opinion, to deliver seamlessly a Yes in a referendum that has enormous consequences for family law for generations.
     All the while soothing us by spinning it as just “seventeen little words”. Can American money buy an Irish referendum?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Five hit songs with gay subtexts we didn't see coming

Hold Tight — Andrews Sisters
This 1939 hit was recorded by the original American female supergroup (sorry to all you who think that phenomenon started with the Supremes—who once traded songs with the Andrews Sisters because Sammy Davis Jr., made them do it, and trust us, you haven't lived until you hear the Supremes sing the Roll Out The Barrel polka.)
     The suggestiveness of the Hold Tight lyrics, it turns out, were well known at the time; several radio stations banned the song, which was called "obscene" by columnist Walter Winchel. Some say the song is a Harlem anthem to cruising the docks for sailors ("seafood"); others say "Hold Tight" was lesbian code in WWII.
     The below recording is a treat. In the 60s, the Andrews Sisters re-recorded some of their greatest hits for DOT records in stereo with terrific arrangements; song after song turned out better than the original Andrews Sisters recordings.

Jaded Lover —  Jerry Jeff Walker.
Walker (real name: Ronald Clyde Crosby) didn't write this (Zen Cowboy Chuck Pyle did) but liner notes quoting Walker about the generalized nature of the song pretty clearly indicate he knew what it really was about — or might have been about; he performed it before country music audiences anyway. The song has no female or male pronouns and the drama queen refrain is barely subterranean at all.
I can see you are an angel, whose wings just won't unfold...
Goodbye you jaded lover, you undercover queen for a day...
Well, keep sittin' on it darlin'...

I Think I Love You — Partridge Family 
This was the biggest surprise to us when we started compiling this short list, as we have heard it a million times without thinking about a queer subtext that was hiding in plain sight. Nothing else better explains the following lyrics by Tony Romeo, who must have been gay himself because the Internet Hive says so and we don't mess with hives.
This morning,
I woke up with this feeling
I didn't know how to deal with,
And so I just decided to myself,
I'd hide it to myself.
And never talk about it.
And didn't I go and shout it
When you walked into the room!
...I think I love you.
So what am I so afraid of?
I'm afraid that I'm not sure of
A love there is no cure for.

Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps — Doris Day
We always thought Doris Day was singing about a man who was just teasing her by jerking the chain — not one who was aiming at greener pastures by trying to escape the yard altogether. Then we read about Ang Lee specifically choosing this song for the alley scene in Brokeback Mountain (no, not Ennis's alley scene, stupid — Jack's) and realized that pop culture was trying to tell us something but we weren't listening. For Pete's sake, Doris Day got a gold record for singing the Gayest Song In The History Of Western Pop Music, Secret Love (presented to her on What's My Line?, trivia addicts), so what was to stop her from trying to repeat the feat? We ARE open to the suggestion that this song (a Spanish-language hit before it was an English one) was really straight but repurposed when sung by a woman — unless she was singing it to another woman. Hmmm. Oh geez, we're getting confused again; let's move on.

You've Got To Hide Your Love Away — The Beatles
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, we know. How could anyone not see this coming when all you need to is read the title, huh? Well, we missed it because it is a Beatles song and the Beatles didn't do gay songs.
     We were still suspicious, even after having been told it was about the Beatles' famously closeted manager, Brian Epstein, who (John Lennon, back when he was pathologically bitchy, mocked Epstein once by deliberately mangling the articulation of Epstein's autobiography A Cellarful of Noise, calling it "A Cellarful of Boys."
     Anyway, ever since we heard that in the Beatles' Anthology film, You've Got To Hide Your Love Away plays in the background during a discussion of Epstein, we became more sympathetic to the notion of a deliberate gay theme in this Lennon-McCartney song actually written by John Lennon.
Here's Eddie Vedder's rendition, just because we're tired of the excerpt from Help!:

Monday, May 25, 2015

Goat wants a fag. GIMME A FAG!

As we're sure you've already guessed if you didn't know in the first place, "fag" has more meanings across the pond than it does here in the USA.

Germaine Greer on Ireland's gay marriage referendum

Greer also read Jane Fonda the riot act.
 "In Ireland, you still can't get a pregnancy terminated. I don't think you can even get a morning after pill. But they've got single-sex marriage. Didn't they skip a beat there? 

Guardian: Northern Ireland under pressure after Irish gay marriage referendum win

Belfast gay day parade, via
Northern Ireland is now the only part of the UK without marriage equality. The Independent quoted Colum Eastwood, SDLP MLA for Foyle, who said Northern Irish politicians of “every hue” should consider the result of the referendum very carefully. “Soon the North will be the only area in these islands to enforce a ban against same sex couples expressing their love through marriage,” he said. “That cannot continue.”
     Gay marriage also has yet to come to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, where you'd think it would be a slam dunk. From The Guardian:
Politicians in Northern Ireland will face intense pressure from LGBT rights campaigners to “catch up” with the rest of western Europe after the Irish Republic overwhelmingly backed same-sex marriage in a referendum.
     The Irish Congress of Trade Unions [ICTU] will join Amnesty International and gay rights group the Rainbow Project to hold a mass rally in support of equal marriage rights on 13 June, while a legal test case has also been lodged with Belfast’s courts.
After Friday's referendum approving gay marriage in Ireland is enacted into law, Northern Ireland will become the last Western European country barring marriage equality.
     Attempts to legislate to allow gay marriage have been vetoed by the Democratic Unionist party [DUP] and a majority of Ulster Unionists in the devolved Northern Ireland assembly at Stormont.
     An ICTU spokesman said the region needed to catch up with the rest of democratic Europe – and in particular every other part of the UK.
     Amnesty’s campaign director in Northern Ireland, Patrick Corrigan, has called for a mass turnout at the rally, which will start from Belfast’s Writers Square at 2.30pm. Corrigan said people in Northern Ireland should show they are “sick of living in a discriminatory backwater for gay people”.
     Last month, a Sinn Féin motion on marriage equality fell after 47 Stormont assembly members voted in support while 49 unionists voted against. Even if there had been a small majority in favour, the DUP would have exercised a special veto drawn up under devolution.
     The so-called Petition of Concern allows any party to veto legislation if they can argue the law would not have sufficient cross-community/Protestant-Catholic support.
     ...DUP objections to a bill of rights that would cover Northern Ireland and the Republic are based more on religious than political grounds...  A source told the Guardian on Sunday: “The DUP now appears more obsessed with gay people and their demands than any traditional, sectarian objections to the bill of rights. It reflects the continued strong influence of the evangelical Christian lobby within the party.”

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Ooops. The NYT editorial board made a mistake in its otherwise excellent op-ed about Ireland's gay marriage referendum

You can bet the New York Times will be running a correction tomorrow after it hears from its readers in Washington, Maryland and Maine about this editorial:
...On Friday, love didn’t just prevail across Irish cities and villages. It triumphed.
     By becoming the first nation to approve same-sex marriage by popular vote, Ireland gave a powerful boost to the quest for gay equality, a movement that has achieved a string of victories around the world over the past decade but remains a distant goal in many countries where intolerant attitudes remain entrenched.
     ...The Yes victory was resounding. With more than 60 percent of eligible voters casting ballots, a phenomenal turnout, the referendum was approved by roughly two to one.
     The opposition, aided by some Catholic bishops who campaigned for No votes, peddled the hollow arguments that have same-sex marriage opponents around the world on a losing streak. They warned that legalizing same-sex marriage would undermine unions between a man and a woman and argued that marriage has an inherently reproductive purpose.
     In a statement conceding defeat, the Iona Institute, the main opposition group, said it would continue to affirm “the importance of biological ties and of motherhood and fatherhood.” The absurdity of that statement speaks for itself.
     As soon as the referendum is ratified by Parliament, Ireland will join 19 nations that have legalized same-sex marriage — an honor roll that does not include the United States.
     The Irish path to legalizing same-sex marriage was remarkable because advocates have long seen courts and legislative initiatives as easier paths to prevail
on an issue that continues to trouble many people on moral and religious grounds. Lawmakers in the United Kingdom approved same-sex marriage in 2013. In the United States, the expanding recognition of marriage rights in 36 states and the District of Columbia has been achieved through lawsuits and legislatures. The Supreme Court is expected to rule next month on a case that could establish a constitutional right to same-sex marriage...
     Well, not exactly. In nearly 10% of those states — Maryland, Washington and Maine — it was voters who OK'd gay marriage, not the legislatures or courts. And of the three, interestingly, Maryland and Maine each have larger populations that does beautiful Ireland, although none of the three states approved marriage equality as resoundingly as did Ireland last Friday in its lopsided 62%-38% approval. Below is what happened in Maryland, Washington State and Maine, courtesy of Wikipedia:
     Maryland: Question 6 was approved by 52.4% of voters on 11/6/2012. Washington State: Referendum 74 was approved by 53.7% of voters on 11/6/2012. Maine: On May 6, 2009, Maine governor John Baldacci signed into law a bill to allow same-sex marriage in the state, following legislative approval, but opponents of the bill successfully petitioned for a referendum vote before that law went into effect.
     On 11/3/2009 the referendum nullified the law, 53%-47%.
     In 2012 another referendum effort was mounted, this time to legalize gay marriage. It was approved by the voters on 11/6/2012 by the same margin, 53-47, that the anti-gay marriage referendum had received three years earlier. The law took effect on December 29, 2012, 30 days after the election results were certified by Governor LePage on November 29.

Irish gay marriage approval: why did "No's" vote that way?

CNN's post-referendum report is here and is far more faithful to the tenor of
the body politic than was NBC's tabloidy, gawking version
No one seems to want to pay for exit polls in the UK or Ireland, because either the media are too cheap or because their audience is willing to forgo U.S.-style immediate gratification and wait a few hours for poll workers to count the ballots.
     The Irish Times polled voters several times, right up to a week before the referendum and published the results. Following are responses to six questions probing voting attitudes about same sex marriage of both "yes" and "no" voters.

     The only constituency to reject marriage equality in Ireland (of 43) was Roscommon South Leitrim with 51.41% against (18,644 "no" and 17,615 "yes") and a 61.5% turnout. Nationally, the vote went the other way: 1,201,607 to 734,300 in favor (62%-38%).
     Roscommon's barely-prevailing attitude is now being subjected to everything from good-natured ribbing to a spit-roasting from other Irish. Even descendants of Roscommon stock, like American film star Tom Cruise have not been spared.
     "Rossies" have their reasons for being the most notoriously contrarian of Ireland's counties; a native, Patsy McGarry, explained them here.

How the Irish are mocking the only district of 43 that didn't approve gay marriage

Roscommon says "NO" was a popular meme in Ireland before the referendum and refers to a populist refusal in the Roscommon/South Leitrim constituency to pay Irish Water when thousands have been unable to drink their tap water for years.
    Though Roscommon/South Leitrim voted "NO" it has its defenders.
     By the way, Tom Cruise got dragged into the Roscommon mocking.


Shameless Gov. Ricketts now using Tecumseh prison mismanagement to defend death penalty

"Think about trying to protect our folks in our protections facilities. You know, we just had the disturbance in Tecumseh. Those people are hardened criminals. They got there because they made poor decisions. Poor choices. And we want to be able to protect our protections officials."

     That's what Ricketts actually said to Mik'l Severe on The Bottom Line.
If the governor is really worried about folks guarding prisons, why hasn't he addressed chronic understaffing at Tecumseh, the grievances brought by inmates and the raft of further resignations of the prison's staff immediately following the recent riot there.
     We're supposed to believe that the corrections mismanagement of the Heineman and now, Ricketts administration are the fault of inmates? And that the death penalty will do what Heineman and Ricketts didn't and won't?

Some Scandinavian won Eurovision

Måns Zelmerlöw, a handsome Swede with a funny nose, who once had a gay PR problemette, got whatever prize is awarded by Eurovision, a TV spectacular which looks like a golf tournament queer-married to a light show.
     And photographed by a robot camera operator who really digs meth.
     JoeMyGod says it's Europe's gay Christmas. OK, fine. Throw us a Dramamine, and we promise to catch it in our mouth.
     Anyway, Zelmerlöw won due to the "super-catchy" song performed below. We liked the laser projection a little better.

     By the way, the Scandinavian below, at an actual golf tournament, was way hotter than any dude we ever saw on Eurovision except for the smoking hot backup dancers for that obnoxious Norwegian twink who won two or three years ago in 2009.

The murder that galvanized Irish gays 23 years ago

Declan Flynn was 31 when he was beaten to death in Dublin's Fairview Park.
     His attackers were 19 year old Tony Maher, 18 year old Robert Armstrong, who were both members of the Air Corps, 18 year old Patrick Kavanagh, 17 year old Colm Donovan and a 14-year-old boy. “We were all part of the team to get rid of queers in Fairview Park,” Armstrong later said.
     In March 1983, in court, Justice Sean Gannon gave them suspended sentences for manslaughter and allowed the five to walk free. “This,” he said, “could never be regarded as murder.”
     The ruling caused outrage – as did the judge’s comments that the so-called vigilantes were “cleaning up the area” – and became the catalyst for Ireland’s fledgling gay rights movement, leading to the foundation of the main gay organisations in the Republic of Ireland.
     Outraged, hundreds from the gay community, the unions and supporters marched from Dublin city centre to Dublin’s Fairview Park.
     Said Senator David Norris, who was pivotal, along with other people, in the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Ireland: “I knew Declan quite well. He was a lovely person, shy and kind. His tragic death really was a turning point. It was significant because it got the whole community out together. People were revolted by the sentencing. There was solidarity amongst people against what had happened to Declan. It really was an early manifestation of support for gay rights.”

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Irish reaction to referendum approval of gay marriage

Below: Panti Bliss flirts a little with the female interviewer and with Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams.

Contrary to many assumptions, the resounding referendum support cut across gender, geography, age, income and political affiliation, as the measure attracted support from Prime Minister Kenny, of center-right Fine Gael party, his Labour coalition partner, which had pushed for the referendum and opposition party Sinn Fein as well.

“The personal stories of people’s own testimonies, as to their difficulties growing up being gay certainly struck a chord with people.”
— Jim Walsh, an Irish senator who opposed the marriage referendum

“Today Ireland made history. In the privacy of the ballot box, the people made a public statement.”
— Prime Minister Enda Kenny

“Congratulations to the Yes side. Well done.”
— David Quinn, director of the Iona Institute, which congratulated the yes side for “a very professional campaign that in truth began long before the official campaign started.”

“This didn’t change Ireland — it confirmed the change. We can no longer be regarded as the authoritarian state we once might have been perceived to be. This marks the true separation of church and state.”
— Alex White, the government’s minister for communications

“There are two Irelands, the elite Ireland and the hidden Ireland. And today the hidden Ireland spoke.”
— Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Fein

The New York Times added this sober reflection from a non-dignitary:
     Nick O’Connell, 42, who is from a rural area in County Kilkenny in the Irish Midlands, was cradling a celebratory drink in a Dublin bar, the Back Lounge. He said he had been too afraid to come out as gay until his mid-20s.
     “Today I’m thinking of all those young people over the years who were bullied and committed suicide because of their sexuality. This vote was for them, too.”
      Many Irish voters remembered the outrage which galvanized gay people, unions and other supporters after the suspended sentences of a group of thugs who murdered Declan Flynn in a Dublin Park 23 years ago.

National Organization for Marriage's three biggest lies about Irish marriage equality referendum

Said Brian Brown, NOM's head:
...We are disappointed but not surprised with the apparent passage of a referendum in Ireland providing for the redefinition of marriage in that country. This is a reflection on the increasingly secularized nature of Ireland, together with the utter abandonment of principle by every political party in the nation, all of whom endorsed the referendum. This, combined with intense harassment of any group or individual who spoke out in opposition to the referendum, made it difficult for opponents. Despite this, millions of Irish citizens stood to vote to uphold the truth of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

  • Lie one: Marriage was redefined. Nonsense; it is not defined in the Irish constitution and the amendment approved in the referendum doesn't define marriage either.
  • Lie two: Any group or individual who spoke against the amendment was "intensely" harassed. A transparent whopper which can't be possibly be defended.
  • Lie three: Millions of Irish citizens voted to "uphold" marriage as the union of one man and one woman. In fact, fewer than 750,000 voted against marriage equality.
One more thing: If NOM's increasingly clueless chief con artist wants people to believe that the "increasingly secularized nature of Ireland" and the "utter abandonment of principle," are due to the LGBT rights movement, instead of the slow-motion train wreck of child abuse and adoption profiteering revelations involving his church over the last few decades in Ireland, maybe he should figure out a way to stop people from reading newspapers or watching documentaries and movies like Philomena.

Final tally just in: Ireland is first nation to approve marriage equality in popular election, 62.1%-37.9%

Kelly Kiach of the Irish Times. See his report here.
Results from Cork East, Cork Northwest and Cork Southwest are now in. The vote was 1,201,607 to 734,30 with a referendum turnout of nearly 61% — unusually large. Just one constituency rejected marriage equality, Roscommon-South Leitrim.

Gov. Ricketts: Why no three-strikes-and-you're-out rule for police/prosecutor death penalty abuse?

Gov. Pete Ricketts, who says
the Unicameral isn't connecting
with average voters in Nebraska
Gov. Ricketts is busy blasting social media and putting the screws to disobedient Repubs over their legislative disgust over the implementation of the death penalty in Nebraska, expressed by last week's vote to kill the death penalty.
     We find that to be the the clearest groupthink we've seen within the Nebraska GOP in years. Too bad ideology- and talking point-driven Ricketts has not similarly evolved; he maintains (contrary to various studies) that the death penalty is "an important tool for public safety and public policy.”
     Oh sure. We're to believe that's what criminals think about, not the fact that overall, 35-40% of homicides in the U.S. go unsolved, leaving the perps Scot free and that the majority of homicides at dozens of big-city police departments are now going unsolved, according to a Scripps Howard News Service study of crime records provided by the FBI (2013).
     Our contempt for Ricketts' dishonest pandering grows by the day. If he (and the OPD, which supports the death penalty) were serious about striking fear into the hearts of murderous thugs, they could try solving more homicide cases, instead of trying to excite the most ignorant of the rabble with cheap, disproven rhetoric.
     Yesterday, Rickett's allies in the Hall County Board even scheduled an "emergency" meeting to spank express their concerns to State Senator Mike Gloor, but cancelled the meeting after the ACLU said it was a violation of Nebraska's Open Meeting Act. Gloor supports the death penalty but has decided that its implementation in the state has become hopelessly dysfunctional.

     The most compelling argument against the death penalty in this state is that since 1985, there have been repeated scandals in Nebraska involving crime lab chicanery and wrongful homicide prosecutions.
  • The so-called "Beatrice Six" — Thomas Winslow, Joseph White, Ada JoAnn Taylor, Kathy Gonzalez, James Dean and Debra Shelden were pardoned in 2008 after DNA evidence from the crime scene of the 1985 murder of Helen Wilson identified Bruce Allen Smith, who died in 1992.  Fortunately, none of them were offed by the state.
  • In 2008, the Cass County Sheriff's Department and the Nebraska State Patrol extracted a coerced and false confession from Matt Livers (implicating himself and another innocent man, Nick Sampson) in the murder of Wayne and Sharmon Stock, who were actually killed by a pair of teenagers from Wisconsin.
  • Douglas County Sheriff's Office crime scene investigator David Kofoed went to jail for felony evidence tampering in 2010 and is strongly suspected of tampering with evidence in at least two other homicide investigations.
     Anyone who repeatedly engages in reckless driving justifiably faces revocation of their operator's license. In our opinion Nebraska pointed out on its license to kill years ago.

Chris Hayes and Dan Savage examine the Duggar scandal and the family's toxic, homophobic hypocrisy

There's a whole lot more to this. Mother Jones reports that the Duggers were fans of Bill Gothard's homeschooling curriculum, which included the following bizarre lesson on sexual abuse:

     In 2014 Bill Gothard, stepped down from the clinic he founded, Basic Life Principles Training Center, which Josh Duggar attended after molesting his sisters, because more than 30 young women and teens accused Gothard of sexual harassment.
      This document from which the graphic above is excerpted was uncovered by Samantha Field, who wrote about it in her blog post How Josh Duggar is getting away with it.
     Field recommends that you read the following:

Friday, May 22, 2015

Trending on Irish twitter during gay marriage referendum: #PollingBoothPickupLines

At 5 pm Irish time, RTE Radio reported turnout "well ahead" of other recent referenda. And more young voters than usual. Some poll workers are predicting a 60+ percent turnout. Supplementary lists (reregistered voters) are described as "massive."

Good news so far for "Yes" supporters in Irish gay marriage referendum

The Irish broadcasting network RTE reports a "brisk" turnout with especially heavy voting in the locales and demographics that "Yes" supporters want to see and less where they don't:

     Approaching 1pm, there has been a turnout of 20% in parts of Dublin.
     The situation is similar in areas in Tipperary, Waterford, Galway, Wexford, Limerick, Clare, Laois and Offaly, where turnout is in the mid to high teens.
     Some presiding officers say this ranks as one of the busiest mornings they have ever seen, with some saying a greater number of younger voters are casting their ballots than usual.
     Turnout in some rural areas is lower, with South Kerry, North Mayo, South Donegal and North Monaghan experiencing turnout between 5 and 10%.

What today's Irish gay marriage referendum actually says

The Irish Times notes that today's referendum on a gay marriage amendment to the constitution will not constitutionally redefine marriage, as the constitution does not define the institution and neither does the amendment. It will however stop further civil partnerships.
Voters will be asked whether the Constitution should be changed so as to extend civil marriage rights to same-sex couples. 
      The proposed amendment to article 41 is the insertion of the line:
“Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex.”
     The Irish version, which takes precedence, reads:
“Féadfaidh beirt, gan beann ar a ngnéas, conradh pósta a dhéanamh de réir dlí.”
     If the proposal is passed, a marriage between two people of the same sex will have the same status under the Constitution as a marriage between a man and a woman.

#HomeToVote: Gay marriage referendum day in Ireland brings back Irish from all over the world

Irish immigrants cannot vote in today's referendum on gay marriage by mail (or if they've been away for longer than 18 months) so thousands, and probably tens of thousands are returning via trains (from the UK) and planes from the four corners of the globe. One emigrant emptied his bank account to return to vote from Australia.

Slate's Beth Ethier explained what Rachel Maddow couldn't: why many NE GOP lawmakers voted to abolish the death penalty

ALSO: Who killed LB586, the NE LGBT job rights bill?

First, kudos to Maddow's recognition — which escaped many lesser journalists — that the first red state in 42 years to abolish the death penalty was a significant story. It certainly was.
     What she missed in her occasional, mild condescension was why. (Clearly Maddow doesn't understand Nebraska much, or she wouldn't have feigned annoyance at the Unicameral's presiding officer calling time on Ernie Chambers — Ernie "loquacious" Chambers — as is done with equanimity to every senator.)
     But back to what Maddow was unable to explain to her viewers: the very conservative reasons many senators had for voting to abolish the death penalty in the Cornhusker State and the fact that conservative does not necessarily mean bloodthirsty.
    Here's how Slate's Beth Ethier perceptively explained it:
     Nebraska's use of the death penalty is relatively rare, with no executions carried out in the past 18 years and only 22 since 1901. Eleven inmates are on Nebraska's death row today, including one who has been there for 35 years.
     Given Nebraska's red-state reputation, the overwhelming legislative support for repealing the death penalty might seem shocking at first glance, but objections from the state's right-leaning legislators to capital punishment reflect many bedrock conservative principles: The AP notes that some of the driving forces behind the push to end executions in Nebraska are "conservatives who oppose the death penalty for religious reasons, cast it as a waste of taxpayer money and question whether government can be trusted to manage it."
     As the very conservative state senator from Crete, Laura "Extinction" Ebke put it:
“If government can’t be trusted to manage our health care … then why should it be trusted to carry out the irrevocable sentence of death?”
     Another comment from Ebke might illuminate more clearly for Rachel Maddow how conservatives in Nebraska could oppose the death penalty without exploding:
"The faith that informed my personal views on the question of abortion, which says that life is endowed by God, couldn't be reconciled in my mind with capital punishment when other means of punishment were available. Friends, we don't live as nomads. We are settled. And with that settlement comes a means of locking people away who are a danger to society." 
     Sen. Colby Coash, whom this blog has justifiably savaged for raising campaign funds by using Ted Nugent as bait, was instrumental and persuasive in marshaling support among conservatives, as the following honest, affecting and admirable confession poignantly illustrates:
"There was a side there that thought it was a party, and they had a barbecue, and they had a countdown like it was New Year's Eve," Coash said, according to a legislative transcript. "They had a band. Can you imagine that, colleagues? A band at an execution. And on the other side of the parking lot were people who were quietly praying, trying to be a witness to life, trying to understand how their government could end a life. And I was on the wrong side of that debate that night, and I never forgot it. ... The death penalty is not justice, it is revenge."
     Then there was Bob Krist, well aware that raw-meat fellow Republicans would trash him for voting to help kill the death penalty but bravely unrepentant anyway:
"I am Republican enough. I am conservative enough. And I am strong enough to follow through with my life convictions, which is life from conception to natural death. Thank you for listening."
     Krist was prescient. Nebraska's popular reactionary conservative blog, LeavenworthSt., immediately attacked him:
“I am Republican enough. I am conservative enough.”
Enough for whom?
For your own conscience?
Or how about for those that elected you?
    Finally, what Nebraskans, liberal and conservative, know and what Maddow evidently doesn't, are the three recent law enforcement/prosecutorial scandals that weigh heavily on the trust implicit in the death penalty process. A post on a gun aficionado website in Nebraska had the following to say (Yes, Rachel, even some of those 2nd Amendment crazies are not only leery of capital punishment, but articulate in their suspicion! Shocking, ain't it?):
     Agreed. I have no problem with the death penalty as long as it is absolutely certain that the accused person really is the perpetrator. I have more confidence in the judgment of a terrified homeowner, with a phone to 911 in one hand and a gun in the other, than I do in the competence and integrity of the judicial system to investigate a capital crime and find the actual perpetrator. We have three examples of such injustices here in Nebraska.
     There are the six from Beatrice who were convicted of a murder someone else committed. It's a good thing they weren't executed. At least, they can be compensated for their ordeal. A million or more each, so that they can live out the rest of their ruined lives in comfort and security, would not, in my opinion, be excessive.
     The second example is the two guys, one of limited intelligence, who were wrongfully accused of the Stock murders in Murdock. Even after the real murderers were found (two kids from out of state), the deputy sheriff and state patrolman investigating the murders wouldn't let go of their theory that their first two suspects were guilty. It looks like the two guys will make out like bandits. Good for them.
     Finally, there is former CSI David Kofoed who was convicted of planting evidence. He was caught only because he escalated to whoppers (undegraded DNA from a sample that had sat a the bottom of a dumpster for six months) that were beyond belief. The blood sample he "found" in one of the original Stock murder suspect's car encouraged the investigators to continue pressuring those suspects. CSIs in other jurisdictions have been convicted of planting evidence.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Words cannot express how terribly sorry Deb Fischer is about the death of that Omaha cop — and neither can her Senate votes

Ireland's gay marriage referendum is tomorrow. Here's how witty Irish "Yeses" are mocking the "Noes"

Although the "yes" contingent is comfortably ahead in polls, they don't trust them and are leaving no stone unturned in social and traditional media to become the first country in the world to approve gay marriage in a popular election.
     Right now trainloads of Irish emigrants living in England are on their way home to vote yes in tomorrow's referendum. One Irish man in Australia cleaned out his bank account to fly home to vote yes. (Dueling videos via Towleroad) Warning: audio in 2nd video is probably NSFW.

Talking to the gay sister of Nebraska's anti-gay marriage GOP governor

Also: Video of two Nebraska state senators telling arch-homophobe Sen. Beau McCoy to get himself a dictionary during rancorous debate of LB586, LGBT antibias job bill

In April, Marin Cogan profiled, for New York Magazine, Chicago lawyer Laura Ricketts, who is the daughter of Joe Ricketts (billionaire founder of Omaha's TD Ameritrade), the sister of anti-gay marriage Nebraska governor Pete Ricketts, a co-owner of the Chicago Cubs, a top Obama campaign bundler and a leading fundraiser for LGBT causes, including Lambda Legal.

On her childhood in Omaha:
“When I was 5, I wore a tie and I wanted to change my name to Larry, which probably tipped my parents off that I was gay.” Today, she says, she can’t imagine running for office. “I don’t really like politics, to be honest,” she says. “But it’s other people making decisions about my life, and my country, and my child’s education … I wish we didn’t have so much money in politics, but that’s not the world we live in. If we don’t play here, we forfeit. And I’m not willing to forfeit my rights.” Laura was an all-star softball player in the years after Title IX, the only daughter in a house full of boys.
How she came out:
“I wasn’t gay! I just kept falling in love with my best friend, that’s all,” she says, laughing. Only when she returned to Chicago after law school did she figure it out. She sat her parents down the day after Thanksgiving and delivered a statement she’d rehearsed. “I just said, ‘There’s something going on with me, it’s been going on for a long time. I’ve tried to deny it, I’ve tried to ignore it, but it’s just who I am.’ ” She was in her early 30s.
What her conservative GOP father told her:
“You’re a leader,” she says her father told her. “And you can help other young women to come out. You gay people don’t know how to market your cause. You need to do micromarketing — you need to get on the ball!” And then, she says, “He said, ‘You always be proud of who you are. Because I am.’ ” She pauses for a moment, chokes up. “And then he said, ‘If anybody ever gives you trouble you tell me.’ ” She apologizes, dabs her eyes. “I said, ‘Because you’re going to beat them up?’ He was like, ‘Oh, no. I would hire somebody to take care of it.’ ”
Read the entire interview, including how she cancels out the conservative efforts of her brother, Todd, here at New York Magazine.

Rachel Maddow on NE Gov. Ricketts' last-minute $54,400 lethal injection drug deal with India

The FDA is now looking into the dubious legality of the machinations of the state's GOP administration.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Slain OPD officer Kerrie Orozco was much beloved by both colleagues and community activists

Kerrie Orozco was esteemed not only by her fellow cops, but also by North Omaha community activists trying to put an end to violence and stem the influence of gangs. She was tirelessly involved in police youth charities, coached softball, worked with girl scouts, and even took in rescued dogs. It seems the better friends and acquaintances knew her, the harder they are taking her murder by a gang member. She was the real deal. Photo courtesy of Omaha Police Department. (Orozco is at left in the third row.)

Update: cop shot 97 minutes after NE voted to abolish death penalty has died

She was Officer Kerrie Orozco, a 29-year-old gang unit member so dedicated that she delayed her maternity leave until her newborn preemie, in the very hospital in which she died today, was scheduled to be released — tomorrow.
     In her spare time, Orozco took in rescued dogs and coached softball. She had two stepchildren.
     The gang member on whom she was serving an arrest warrant, Marcus Wheeler, also is dead. A semi-automatic handgun with a drum magazine was found near his body.
     In 2013, Senator Deb Fischer voted against banning large capacity drum magazines like the one used to kill Orozco.
     Thanks Deb.

Breaking: 97 minutes after NE Unicameral voted to abolish death penalty, Omaha cop, now near death, was shot serving felony warrant

Shortly before 1 pm. a female member of Omaha's fugitive task force, now in "extremely critical" condition, was injured in a shootout near 30th & Martin in North Omaha while serving a felony arrest warrant. AKSARBENT was in the area and counted 20 cruisers streaking past us. Witnesses report between five and 15 gunshots in two bursts. The suspect was shot too and is also in "extremely critical" condition. Both are at Creighton University Medical Center. Neighbors can leave the crime scene but are not allowed to return. A press conference will be held soon, but Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert won't be there as she is out of town on "personal business."

Breaking: Nebraska votes to abolish death penalty; first conservative state to do so in 42 years

Click to enlarge. Sens. Larson and Schilz were present but did not vote.
     The rancorous debate over LB268, filibustered by Sen. Beau McCoy, revealed a change in attitude buoyed by conservative senators opposing capital punishment for fiscal, religious and pragmatic reasons.
     Gov. Ricketts has promised to veto the bill, though the state hasn't executed a prisoner since 1997. Thirty votes would override his veto, two less than just voted to kill the death penalty.
     Although some lawmakers maintain that constant legal challenges will prevent the state from another execution, GOP Attorney General Doug Peterson, a conspicuous Christian, recently purchased a stash of lethal injection drugs in order to resume executions.
     During the debate Sen. Mike Groene deplored "lily-white" death penalty opponents who didn't know what it was like to see murderers escape "justice."
     Senator Tanya Cook, who is black, sarcastically answered that as a lily white person from North Omaha, she opposed supported the measure.

Even George Will, no friend of LGBT civil rights, finds Mike Huckabee's marriage stance 'appalling'

Public contempt for Huckabee, whom more demonstrators heckled in Cedar Rapids Monday than heard speak, is now plainly evident in Iowa, which legalized gay marriage six years ago. From George Will in the Washington Post:
     ...And if “someone” — who? President Huckabee? — decides that the court is wrong? In 1957, Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus decided the federal courts were wrong about integrating Little Rock Central High School, an idea President Dwight Eisenhower countered with the 101st Airborne. David A. Graham of the Atlantic notes that, if the Supreme Court rules against a clause of a state’s law defining marriage as a commitment between a man and a woman, this does not invalidate the rest of a state’s marriage laws, so the state’s legislature need not act. Unless, that is, it wishes to reassert the pre-Civil War doctrine of “nullification” — the right of states to disregard laws they deem unconstitutional.

     For many voters, a party is largely defined by the behavior of its presidential aspirants. For Republicans worried about broadening their party’s appeal, there is one word for Huckabee’s stances: Appalling.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

KC man convicted of LGBT hate crime skips NE sentencing; is now a fugitive

Langenegger (left) and Duncan
Gregory Duncan, of Kansas City, convicted in February of third degree assault with discrimination in his October 2013 attack on straight former Marine Ryan Langenegger outside a Pepperjax restaurant in Omaha's Old Market, didn't show up for sentencing last week in Omaha. A warrant has now been issued for his arrest. Below, his attorney suggests that perhaps he was abducted by aliens.

Huckabee, Santorum face gauntlet of gay protesters in Iowa

ALSO: Who killed LGBT employment antibias bill in Nebraska last week?

Judging from the TV footage, as many protesters turned out to protest Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee as turned out to listen to them at a forum organized by Bob Vander Plaats at Cedar Falls High School Monday night.
     Inside, Huckabee accused the protesters of being part of a war on Christians.
     You may recall that in 2012, in neighboring Waterloo, Paris Anding was convicted of killing Marcellus Andrews with a baseball bat after taunting him with antigay slurs.
     Cedar Falls is a progressive "gigabit" community visited by President Obama last January as part of his Net Neutrality push. Unfortunately, due to the efforts of politicians like NE Sen. Deb Fischer, high-speed community-sponsored broadband, like that in Cedar Falls and Chattanooga, is illegal in Nebraska.

KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

     Here's AKSARBENT footage of Bob Vander Plaats' war on Iowa Supreme Court Justice David Wiggins in 2012. Vander Plaats lost his battle to eject Wiggins from the Iowa Supreme Court for ruling that denying gay couples civil marriage was unconstitutional, in a unanimous decision.

Another Irish marriage equality ad before 5/22 vote

Although polls indicate that civil marriage will be soon extended to gay couples in the Emerald Isle, no one seems to be taking anything for granted. If successful, activists in other countries should take note; Irish supporters of gay marriage obviously have done their homework and carefully observed similar campaigns elsewhere.
     They're going full tilt on social media and on the phones, and have enlisted every possible supporter from the ranks of politics, art, theatre and from Irish living abroad. This is how it's done, folks. A "Yes" vote later this month will make Ireland the first country in the world to vote for marriage equality.

(Via JMG)

Here's an old Guinness ad for what is probably Ireland's most famous product. The commercial never aired because of the stink right-wingers in England made when they got wind of it. (Side note: unlike Loretta Lynn, some country artists, Tammy Wynette was a great friend to the gay community, which explains the approval of her music (assuming she still owned the rights) for this ad: