POPE BENEDICT DECLARED THAT GAYS ARE ENDANGERING THE WORLD. IN A LESS REPORTED STATEMENT, AMERICAN BOYS UNDER THE AGE OF 14 SUGGESTED THAT THE POPE, THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND PEDOPHILE PRIESTS ARE ENDANGERING THE YOUTH OF AMERICA.
MEANWHILE PROFESSIONAL LIAR AND NOTED HAS-BEEN MELISSA ETHERIDGE AND WIFE NUMBER TWO (OR IS THREE?) WROTE A VALENTINE TO RICK WARREN WHICH MAY BE THE MOST RIDICULOUS THING ETHERIDGE EVER PENNED IF YOU FORGET HER BANAL LYRICS AND THE LAUGHABLE 'TRUTH' ETHERIDGE OFFERED ABOUT HER RELATIONSHIP WITH JULIE CYPHER IN THAT REALLY BAD BOOK LAUGHINGLY ENTITLED "THE TRUTH IS . . ." EVEN MORE IRONIC WHEN YOU CONSIDER ETHERIDGE AND CYPHER'S RELATIONSHIP WAS OVER WHILE SHE WAS OUT ON THE ROAD PROMOTING AN ALBUM OF LOVE & RELATIONSHIP SONGS BUT MELISSA ETHERIDGE DIDN'T FEEL "THE TRUTH" MATTERED TOO MUCH THEN.
MELISSA ETHERIDGE IS INFAMOUS FOR SUCKING UP TO BARACK OBAMA SINCE 2007 SO HER LATEST CRAVEN EMBARASSMENT WHERE SHE ATTEMPTS TO ENCOURAGE ALL GAYS AND LESBIANS TO -- LIKE SHE DOES -- SEE THEMSELVES AS LESS THAN A FULL PERSON IS PERFECTLY IN KEEPING WITH THE OTHER CRAP THE ONE HIT WONDER'S OFFERED FOR SOME TIME. ONE TOP 10 HIT IN 20 YEARS BUT A WHOLE S**T LOAD OF LIES. NO WONDER K.D. LANGE LAUGHS LOUDLY WHEN EVER ANYONE MENTIONS MELISSA'S NAME. OTHERS RESPOND TO MELISSA'S NAME WITH CURSES -- FOR GOOD REASON.
Be careful, also, when you worship at the feet of Al Gore -- there will be trouble. Of course, to get there, you'll have to kick Melissa Etheridge out of the way. As the cameras began to move in, one of us said, "Tom Petty looks awful." The other said, "I just saw Petty last month, that's not him." It was Melissa. Last week, Rebecca came up with the bit about Etheridge's career being over and we disagreed with that but agreed it was possible and, besides, it was funny. Well Rebecca built her fortune in the public relations business. We should have listened. Obviously NBC did. Which is why Melissa's face-time was reduced to this: "Now I want to introduce to you my hero and my friend" Al Gore!!!! No song broadcast from Etheridge, despite Al thanking her for that "amazing and brilliant wake up call."
A Melissa Etheridge story. Many years ago, when David Geffen still owned Geffen Records, there was a disgusting excuse for man-flesh who creeped everyone out. He was a sexist pig, not all that uncommon in that or any period of the music industry, and when he finally was shown the door, there were no tears. One of us (C.I.) bumped into him shortly after and there was an awkward moment before he finally said he was really into this new act: Melissa Etheridge. Since he reduced all women to the T&A scale this was surprising. Well, he explained, it was different with Melissa, looks didn't matter because she was a lesbian. Point?
Melissa Etheridge was never in the closet in the industry and the bulk of her fan base were also in on her "little secret" long before she finally got the guts to say "Yes I Am" well over a decade ago. Note, not, "I am." She merely confirmed what was well known. Five years after she became a name so, possibly, in 2008, she may find the courage to publicly call out the illegal war she opposes. Maybe not. The nonsense of 'bravery' with regards to Melissa is laughable. (And the only one who laughs louder than we do may be k.d.)
"She stands in the empty room, a deplorable, terrible, pitiful sight. Is it Margaret Hassan? Her family believe so, even though she is blindfolded. I'm not sure if videos like this should ever be seen -- or perhaps the word is endured -- but they are part of the dark history of Iraq, and staff of the Arab Al Jazeera satellite channel have grown used to watching some truly atrocious acts on their screens," wrote Robert Fisk (Independent of London) last August. He recounts the videotapes that emerged in November 2004, following Hassan's October 19th kidnapping in Baghdad, her call for then-Prime Minister Tony Blair to pull British troops out of Iraq. Fisk:
Then comes the last tape. She is standing in that bare room in a white blouse,
a blindfold over her face, her head slightly bowed and a man approaches her
from behind holding a pistol. He points it at her head and places what
appears to be an apple over the muzzle -- a primitive form of silencer? And
then squeezes the trigger. There is a click, an apparent misfire, and the
man retreats to the right of the screen and then reappears. Margaret Hassan
doesn't move although she must have heard the click. The man is wearing a
grubby grey and black checked shirt and ill-fitting, baggy trousers, a scarf
concealing his face.
This time the gun fires and the woman utters a tiny sound, a kind of cry,
almost a squeal of shock, and falls backwards onto the floor. The camera
lingers on her. She has fallen onto a plastic sheet. And she just lies
there. There is no visible blood, nor wound. It is over. Should such
terrible things be seen? Margaret's immensely brave Iraqi husband told me I
had his permission to watch this, but still I feel guilty. I think it was
only here, watching her death on a screen next to Al Jazeera's studios more
than three years later, that I realized Margaret Hassan was dead.
It was Margaret who took leukaemia medicines donated by readers of The
Independent to the child cancer victims of Iraq back in 1998 after we
discovered that hundreds of infants were dying in those areas where Western
forces used depleted uranium munitions in the 1991 Gulf War. She was a
proverbial tower of strength, and it was she -- and she alone -- who managed
to persuade Saddam Hussein's bureaucrats to let us bring the medicine into
Iraq. The United Nations sanctions authorities had been our first hurdle,
Saddam Hussein our second. It is all history. Like Margaret, all the
Today David Brown and Francis Elliott (Times of London) reports that Hassan's family members are accusing "British diplomats of refusing to help them to confront alleged members of the Iraqi gang that kidnapped her." Ali Lutfi Jassar al-Rawi goes on trial tomorrow with another man and Hassan's family have requested that a representative from England's Embassy be at the trial in attendance but they have been informed the Embassy considers it "too dangerous". In November of 2004, Jack Straw, then-British Foreign Secretary, declared that "it is repugnant to commit such a crime against a woman who has spent most of her life working for the good of the people of Iraq." Straw is now the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain and Secretary of State for Justice and, apparently, the Ministry of Justice has no interest in justice and Straw no longer feels as he once did?
When she was kidnapped, PBS' NewsHour addressed it (text, audio, video) via a discussion between Ray Suarez and the Washington Post's Rajiv Chandrasekaran:
RAJIV CHANDRASEKARAN: Margaret Hassan is just an incredible woman who literally has devoted the plus ten years of her life of helping the Iraqi people out. I first met her almost two years ago in my first trip to Iraq in the fall of 2002, and I wanted to find out what was really happening with Iraqi civilians living under the U.N. economic sanctions that were placed on the country.
Margaret was one of a very few number of international aid workers operating in there and she had been heading up the CARE office in Iraq for more than a decade. Prior to that, she had been teaching English for the British Council in Iraq, a position that made her very well known among educated Iraqis and even before that actually had a brief career reading the English news on Iraqi TV, so a very prominent person and a woman who really had devoted her life to helping the situation of ordinary Iraqis both before the war who were suffering under economic sanctions and after the war in the very sort of chaotic climate that was there helping out and directing projects involving water, sanitation and health care.
RAY SUAREZ: So there's that background you cite 30 years on the ground in Iraq. She remained in Baghdad when the invasion was under way. She even traveled to Britain to speak against the war and speak to the members of the British parliament to advise them against joining the invasion. Didn't these things make her an unlikely kidnap target?
RAJIV CHANDRASEKARAN: Certainly. I mean she's the last possible person you might imagine being at risk for kidnapping because she was... she had very clear views about the military invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq and really was somebody who was out in an apolitical way helping the people of Iraq. But this demonstrates yet again there really is no litmus test here for the sorts of work foreigners do in Iraq in the eyes of the insurgents; a number of foreign aid workers now have been kidnapped. Two Italian aid workers were taken, subsequently released, thankfully. But headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross was bombed last year.
Nothing is sacrosanct to the insurgents these days and even a woman like Margaret Hassan, although she holds Iraqi nationality being of British origin and holding British citizenship is seen as a prominent and legitimate target for the insurgents in Iraq.
All the programs covered Margaret Hassan. Former United Nations Assistant Secretary General Denis Halliday, for example, spoke of her to Democracy Now! November 17, 2004:
I worked with her in 1997 and 1998 in Iraq in Baghdad. I lived there. That's where she and her family lived. She ran a small CARE International program, some $7 million worth per annum and she produced hands-on results, clinics, health facilities, water systems which the poor of Baghdad and other cities needed desperately. I was there overseeing a $4 billion program and prohibited from doing the same sort of hands-on work by Washington and the London and Washington regimes. So I have nothing but respect for her work and for her commitment and her gentle nature, although underlined with steel. She's a quality that she delivered. She made things happen.
In December of 2004, Westiminster Cathedral was the site for a requim for Margraet Hassan that Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor presided over and during which he called her a martyr: "I use the word advisedly, because the word martyr means witness. Margaret witnessed, in both her life and her death, to the act of loving." November 18, 2004, France's then-President Jacques Chirac hled a press conference in the UK and opened with, "Before I begin, I would like us to think of Margaret Hassan, and I should like to express the depth of horror that what she experienced inspires in us, and, of course, give our fullest sympathy and solidarity to our British friends in this horrifiic business." And four years later, whent he family asks that an Embassy staffer attend Wednesday's hearing, they're rebuffed and ignored.
[. . .]
Turning to US politics, the Center for Constitutional Rights issues the following press release:
The Center for Constitutional Rights is outraged at President Obama's choice of the right wing Rev. Rick Warren to lead the convocation at his inauguration. This is "change" we can neither believe in nor support. Many of us have been looking forward to this inauguration as we have no other in the past, with great hope that the new administration will restore our Constitution and its place in a nation of laws. We understand, too, that the new president is working to reach across the aisle and make people of different beliefs welcome at his table.
But the choice of Rev. Warren is a callous slap in the face to all progressives and people fo conscience who cherish the equality of women and their right to a safe and legal abortion. Roe v. Wade is still the law of the land. It is a constitutional right. Women fought and died for it. A man who so vocally opposes such a hard won and important a constitutional right has no place at this inaugaration.
The choice of Rev. Warren is a slap in the face to all progrssives and people of conscience who cherish the equality of men and women in the LGBT community. His vocal support for the shameful California Proposition 8 pushes from the table those who have fought long and ahrd to be able to love and be loved without the interference of hate mongers. A man like Rick Warren who envisions a society where some classes of people are entitled to fundamental rights while others are not based solely on whom and how they love has no place at this inauguration.
We understand that there will be compromises and decisions we won't agree with in the coming years, and we will be right there challenging them. But to begin it all in this way, is a terrible signal to send to the people who worked day and night to elect President Obama. He should withdraw his invitation. At the very least, he should ask someone else to officiate as well, someone with decency and eloquence who can balance the presence of Rev. Warren. If the president is at a loss for ideas, allow us to suggest two women who could ably fit the bill: Kahtleen Jeffords Schori, an African American Epsicopal Bishop who supports the ordination of gay ministers, and Susana Heschel, a feminist theologian and daughter of Abraham Joshua Heschel, the Jewish leader who worked hand in hand with Martin Luther King.
In other news the American Sociological Association's periodical Contexts features an essay by independent journalist David Bacon -- whose latest book is Illegal People -- How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants (Beacon Press) -- entiled "Living Under the Trees" which focuses on "the experiences and conditions of indigenous farm worker communities." That's the description of the Living Under the Trees photo exhibit that won huge praise in San Diego, Sonoma and elsewhere throughout this year. In September Alicia Doyle (Ventura County Star) noted:
A reporter and documentary photographer for 18 years, he covers issues of labor, immigration and international politics and travels frequently to Mexico, the Philippines, Europe and Iraq. He also hosts a weekly radio show on labor, immigration and the global economy on Berkeley's KPFA-FM and is a frequent guest on KQED-TV's "This Week in Northern California."
His exhibit at the Santa Paula Family Resource Center -- consisting of 36 photographs and six text narrative panels -- explores the challenges these communities face while also celebrating the culture and community spirit that sustains them.
"This exhibit tries to show a certain reality that essentially indigenous immigrants are making important contributions in a lot of areas," Bacon said.
Chronicling the conditions of farmworker communities in California, the exhibit conveys the vibrant cultures of music, dance, food and traditional health practices that help these communities survive under very difficult circumstances, Bacon said.
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