aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, March 18, 2006
Which Superhero are you?
My results: Superman and Robin and Catwoman???
Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz
Gay pride in the British military
Gays have been welcomed in the British military since 2000:
The government removed the ban after it was ruled illegal in a case brought by the gay rights pressure group Stonewall.
Attitudes in the armed forces have changed so much since then that Stonewall now rates the Royal Navy 75th in its list of gay-friendly employers.
And gay service personnel in a civil partnership enjoy the same benefits as married staff.
Vice Admiral Adrian Johns is the services head of personnel. He was speaking at a gay workplace conference:
“My policy team is currently investigating the feasibility of utilising drama-based training resources, to reach some of those whose culture and behaviour need to be brought into line with 21st Century thinking.”
Vice Admiral Johns joked that Lord Nelson may have been “ahead of his time” when he famously asked Captain Hardy to kiss him on his deathbed at the Battle of Trafalgar.
He said final approval had yet to be given for Royal Navy personnel to take part in the EuroPride festival on July 1.
But he added: “I am heartened by the fact that a significant number of Royal Navy lesbian and gay personnel are very keen to march in uniform in the main parade and share in the celebration.”
Georgia’s God amendment failed
We have noted many times during this legislative session that many of the proposals smacked of election-year pandering. Lawmakers have put forth issues designed to hit voters’ hot buttons rather than doing anything substantive. Monday, “Crossover Day,” when measures had to be passed by one of the legislative chambers to be eligible for further consideration, helped cut some of the rhetoric.
This year, a couple of high profile measures didn’t make the cut - and with good reason. The one that has drawn the most attention is Gov. Sonny Perdue’s initiative to change the Georgia Constitution to allow state funding for religious organizations. The same proposal was unsuccessful last year. While the proposal was presented as a common-sense way to protect religious organizations that provide services to the state, it was actually a not-too-clever ruse. The effort was not really designed to make sure services religious groups provide the state could always continue. Rather, the proposed amendment’s purpose was to open up the door for school vouchers.
The Democratic minority was able to stop it, but the Republicans provided their strongest argument:
In remarks supporting the amendment, state Rep. Vance Smith (R-Pine Mountain) outlined the many wonderful programs such groups already operate on behalf of taxpayers, citing among others the 905 children served by Georgia Baptist Children’s Homes and several religiously affiliated hospitals that receive state dollars. The litany of good work already being done by religious groups with public money raised an obvious question:
Why does Georgia need a constitutional amendment to permit what is already established legal practice?
The answer is, it doesn’t, which is why House Resolution 1345 fell 25 votes short of the 120 needed to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot.
Under the Georgia Constitution today, the state can contract with any faith-based group to deliver nonreligious services such as feeding the hungry or housing the homeless. The only qualifier is that the religious groups do not use tax-funded grants to spread their faith. In other words, no taxpayer-subsidized sermons with the soup, no Bibles with the beds.
Critics say it was all a back door effort to get taxpayer funding of school vouchers. The fact that Democrats would have signed on and the amendment could have passed had a voucher exclusion been included suggests the critics are right.
Thursday on Marketplace:
DAN GRECH: Bottled water is a luxury in the US. At up to 2.50 a liter, it can cost more than three times the price of gasoline. But for the one billion people worldwide without a secure water supply, it’s become a necessity. In Mexico locals call the tap water “tamarind juice” because its yellow-brown color matches the tropical fruit. The country’s now the second largest consumer of bottled water after the US. Janet Larsen is a research director at the Earth Policy Institute.
Ms. JANET LARSEN: We’re finding in more and more places water moving from what was once considered a social good, water as something provided for everyone to a good that is sold at increasingly higher prices.
GRECH: In many poor countries, public water systems are under funded and polluted. That’s why bottled water sales are growing fastest in the developing world. Consumption has doubled in China, and tripled in India over the past five years. The $100 billion industry is dominated by giants like Coca-Cola, Pepsi and Nestle. That bothers Benoit Mailloux with the International Secretariat for Water, a Montreal based non-profit.
Mr. BENOIT MAILLOUX: Bottled water is all controlled by big conglomerates. And their main goal for existence is not taking care of water for the poor, it’s making money, period.
GRECH: Mailloux says water shouldn’t be something you pay for, it should be a basic human right like air. I’m Dan Grech for MARKETPLACE.
Friday on ABC News.com:
Groups of young demonstrators battled with police, smashing a patrol car and hurling rocks during protests that continued into Friday morning at the World Water Forum.
Police stopped a massive march late Thursday about a mile from the convention center where representatives of 130 nations were debating ways to bring more water to the poor. [...]
The seven-day forum, which began Thursday, pledged to focus on the world’s poor, many of whom live on less than 2 1/2 gallons of water per day one-thirtieth of the daily usage in some developed nations. But protesters said the conference represented big corporations interested in running water systems for profit.
Among the thousands of demonstrators were people who came from the ranks of those living daily with sewage pollution, Indians whose water is being diverted to supply big cities, and farmers whose lands are scheduled to be flooded by hydroelectric projects.
If you’re lucky enough to have good tap water, as most Americans are, don’t buy bottled water.
The infinite loop of the NSA spying debate
It has now been three months since the Bush administration reluctantly admitted that it has been conducting warrantless surveillance on American citizens, despite the explicit prohibitions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Since then, the public has been treated to endless and, unfortunately, fruitless discussion about the issue. We have experts and scholars earnestly responding, and responding yet again, to administration arguments (both legal and factual) that can best be described as protean, internally inconsistent, and occasionally evanescent. We have the administration refusing to explain the program, but enjoining everyone to “trust them.” And we have legislators trying to “fix” a problem that is undefined by proposing new laws that the administration doesn’t want. We are, in short, trapped in an infinite loop.