Monday, January 30, 2006

Bloodbath at the Blade; Heads Roll

Veteran journalist Bob Roehr, whose stories run in gay and health-related publications across the country, has graciously granted me permission to post his story on the troubles at the Blade.

Gay Publishing Chain Fires Senior Staff
By Bob Roehr - - freelance
30 Jan 06

There is blood all over the floor at Window Media as staff has been axed
in at attempt to raise profits at the gay media company that owns
publications in several markets. Its flagship is the Washington Blade.

Company president William Waybourn was the first head to roll. The Blade's
part time webmaster maintains a personal blog of his daily life, On January 15 he posted the scuttlebutt at work about
Waybourn's abrupt departure, along with fixing chicken piccatta for dinner
that night.

When Gay City News in New York City began inquiring, the company quickly
posted a press release of Waybourn's "retirement" on its website, on
January 20.

The release did not announce any other departures from the company.
However, a person familiar with the situation said that a number of other
senior employees also were terminated about the same time. They include
controller Barnette Holston and sales director Carrie Fisher in
Washington, and Southern Voice editor Matt Hennie in Atlanta, plus lower
level production and administrative personnel in both cities.

The source, and others who discussed the situation at Window Media, had
financial and personal reasons for not wanting to be quoted by name.

Waybourn and Chris Crain founded Window Media with a group of private
investors in 1996 to purchase Southern Voice in Atlanta. The company
subsequently purchased newspapers in Houston and New Orleans, though it
closed the latter.

The company's big expansion came in 2001 when it purchased the Washington
Blade and New York Blade for $3.6 million. That purchase required a
million dollar loan from the Silicon Valley Bank, which was later
defaulted on.

Avalon Equity Partners, a New York City venture capital group, also
bankrolled a big part of the acquisition and in the process became the
major shareholder of Window Media. Venture capital firms typically want
either high returns on their investment and/or a a relatively quick resale
of the company. Waybourn and Crain remained in charge of day to day

The transition at the Blades did not go smoothly. The staff was unhappy
with the new management and attempted to organize a union, but failed.
There was significant turnover in personnel, either voluntarily or not so

This history of playing hardball is known to the now former employees and
it has them publicly biting their tongues, at least until their final
paychecks have been received and cleared the bank.

Two of the previous owners of the Blades, Don Michaels and James Lamont,
had helped finance the sale by agreeing to deferred payments with interest
spread out over seven years. But little more than a year later they were
in court suing for nonpayment and attempts by Window to retroactively
lower the purchase price. That legal wrangling dragged on until 2005.

Window Media blamed their poor financial performance in 2002 on a drop in
advertising and an increase in newsprint costs that affected all US

The New York Blade had broken even on a good year but never made
significant profit in its history. After several years of trying to make
it profitable, the new owners ?merged? it with the New York bar Guide HX
in 2005 and it effectively disappeared.

But despite failing with publication in New Orleans and New York and
closing them, the group continued to acquire properties. They include
decidedly "lighter" publications in Atlanta and south Florida, plus the
national magazine Genre. Those subsequent purchases were made through a
different corporate entity but are managed by Window Media.

Chris Crain remains as executive editor of the publications. But given his
high salary and the attitudes of Avalon principal David Unger toward news
and profits, speculation is rampant as to how much longer Crain will be

Rummy's Metrics: "We're Certainly Not Losing" in Iraq

On October 23, 2003, a leaked memo out of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's office revealed a shocking lack of measurements, known as "metrics" at the Pentagon, to determine success or failure in the war in Iraq and on terrorism.

"Today we lack metrics to know if we are winning or losing the global war on terror," Rumsfeld said in the memo.

Now, more than two years later, Rumsfeld appears on conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt's program and metrics is a subject of their conversation.

Excerpted from their January 25 talk:

> HEWITT: In your press conference today you were trying to instruct some members of the press on how metrics have changed, especially in deployability of forces with the Navy. I'm not sure they were getting it. But it brought back your October 16, 2003 memo in which you said today we lack metrics to know whether we're winning or losing the global war on terror.

>Have we got those metrics now, Secretary Rumsfeld?

> SECRETARY RUMSFELD: I think we're developing some metrics in that area. For example, the Pakistanis are providing money to try to send home foreign students in their Madrasa schools that are extremists. They're using money to take the schools and convert them from schools that teach only extremist ideology, to schools that teach the kinds of things that people need if they're going to function effectively in the world. So there are things happening like that.

> There are other metrics that are taking place. The numbers of countries that are cooperating and sharing intelligence, the numbers of countries that we're assisting with training and equipping their forces to go after terrorists. The numbers of countries that are increasing security over their borders, for example, making it more difficult for terrorists to move from one place to another, making it more difficult to communicate with each other.

> HEWITT: So does that lead you to conclude we are winning now according to measurable statistics?

> SECRETARY RUMSFELD: Well we're certainly not losing. I do not have a comfort level that the metrics are sufficiently precise and the data sufficiently ample that I could prove what's happening.

> I do know that in some cities, I could name a city in Iraq, where they are now on their 12th al-Qaida terrorist leader. The reason they're on their 12th is because the first 11 are either captured or dead.

> HEWITT: That's a good metric.

> [Laughter].

A few reactions. First of all, two years after the memo came to light and America passed the grim milestone of suffering more than 2000 soldiers' deaths, Rumsfeld isn't comfortable with the precision of whatever metrics he's developed to measure the war. One might expect for all the billions of dollars spent on the war, the U.S. would have sufficient metrics, but that appears to be too demanding on our Department of Defense.

Secondly, if all Rumsfeld can say about the effort is that "we're certainly not losing," I believe it doesn't speak well to our strategy of winning if at this point since the Iraq and terrorism wars began, our defense secretary can claim we're not losing as real progress. We should be winning at this stage of the wars, yes?

And thirdly, in several Iraqi cities, U.S. forces have taken out a dozen Al-Qaida leaders, something Rumsfeld believes is a good thing, which it is on a certain level.

However, let's examine this success from different angles:

1. Before the U.S. invasion, Al-Qaida operative were not active in Iraq.

2. Since the invasion, and the U.S. failure to adequately secure the borders, Al-Qaida terrorists have established footholds.

3. There presumably is local support in the cities with the operatives.

4. Every one of the previous eleven Al-Qaida terrorists was quickly replaced.

5. No signs that more replacements wait in the wings to step in when the 12th or 13th operatives are neutralized by U.S. forces.

That's five metrics of failures, in my opinion, the Pentagon should take into consideration when creating its latest metrics.

And I'm not sure why Hewitt thinks the metric Rumsfeld boasts of is really all that good, but it certainly gave him and his guest a good laugh.

With some Iraqi cities giving aid and comfort to Al-Qaida leaders, with no shortage of other operatives apparent, it sure doesn't seem as though this is an insurgency in it's "last throes" as claimed by Vice President Dick Cheney.

Friday, January 27, 2006

oops: My Correction on AP Reporter's "Donation"

Leading up to the November 2004 election, I devoted much time and attention to donations made by reporters, editors and all sorts of media moguls to candidates and PACs.

Along the way, I learned that when a donation from a journalist showed up on Federal Election Commission records, generally in odd amount, like $341.32, not a nice round $1,000 figure, it often meant the journalists had to pay a fee for legitimate costs associated with newsgathering. But the campaigns, under FEC rules, report the fees paid as donations.

Well, out of the blue, an AP reporter has contacted me about an earlier posting of mine that gave the impression he'd donated to a party, so I'm making amends and sharing his letter.

Hey, Thomas Martello, I stand corrected. Not only am I posting your letter here, I'm also attaching it to my original, mistaken, posting. Thanks for keeping me on my toes.


I just stumbled upon your 2004 report about reporters who made political donations and noticed my name was among those you listed.

For the record, I made no political donation to the New Jersey Republican State Committee in 1992. I covered the New Jersey delegation to the Republican National Convention in Houston for The Associated Press that year. The money was sent to the Republican State Committee as part of the charges it made to news organizations that covered the delegation. I believe this charge was for a bus shuttle they had set up for reporters who wanted to tag along with the delegates; the Republican State Committee had predicted transportation would be a nightmare. I wrote the check and was reimbursed by AP.

The next year, I was surprised to discover the Republican State Committee had included on its list of political donors the names of reporters and news organizations that paid costs to cover the convention. I told the committee leaders this was pretty bone-headed of them, and the news organizations, including AP, pushed to get the names off the list. I can’t remember what eventually happened, but apparently there I am, in cyber-perpetuity, as a journalist who donated to a political party. I’m saying it ain’t so.

For the following decade, the Republicans thought I was a donor, sending me lots of literature, pleas for money and envelopes with elephants on them. It was interesting to see how much harsher the political dialogue gets when political parties think you’re one of their loyal subjects.

As for the check I wrote, it was money poorly spent. I was also assigned to cover the Tennessee delegation that year (go figure), and had little time to wait for shuttle buses. The New Jersey GOP had wrongly warned of traffic messes and taxi cabs were plentiful. I think I got one shuttle ride for AP’s $295.

Thanks for your time.
Sincerely, Thomas Martello
S.F. Lecture on Polish Gays, Women on Jan. 30

Many of us who follow gay issues beyond America's borders are painfully aware of how gays in Poland are struggling for tolerance, despite outrageous homophobia from the Polish government, too many average citizens and Catholic leaders. At times, it seems to me, Polish politicians and priests would like nothing better than to eradicate gays and their supporters from the country and no effort is spared to whip up hatred.

If you want to read some excellent background stories on this situation, check out the best U.S. source on the web for stories about brave Polish gays heroically demanding respect at veteran journalist Doug Ireland's always-informative blog.

For those of us living in the San Francisco Bay Area, we have a rare opportunity to attend a lecture about gays and women in Poland, delivered by University of California scholar Izabela Filipiak at the Commonwealth Club on Monday, January 30. The cost is $15 for nonmembers of the club, free if you belong to it. There's a reception starting at 5:00 p.m. and Ms. Filipiak's talk is at 5:30. The Commonwealth Club is located at 595 Market Street.

I'm planning on attending this important lecture to learn more about the lives of gays and women today in Poland, and hope to see other gay and human rights advocates in the audience.

Here's the listing from the club about the lecture:

The conservative Law and Justice Party that forms the majority in the newly formed Polish cabinet has pledged to defend Catholic values. How does this impact LGBT rights and their prospects? What are the unanticipated political ramifications of E.U. membership for the Polish women's movement? Renowned Polish author and scholar Filipiak will tackle this thorny issue.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Paul Newman, Angela Davis, Ellen DeGeneres, Eartha Kitt & me

What do we all have in common? We share January 26 as our birthdays. Today is also Australia Day down under and Republic Day in India.

As someone who was told in August 1985 that I'd be lucky to see 1986 never mind beyond 1987, I treat each birthday as special and a victory over AIDS. Actually, I look at every day as a true present to be appreciated and celebrated.

Besides still being alive, a blessed gift no matter the day, what do I give thanks for on my forty-## birthday?

My wonderful partner Big Mike, a loving family and wide circle of friends who've stood by me through good and bad days, a drug cocktail that works, a DVD of Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr's monumental seven-hour and thirty-minute movie "Satantango," goddess Judy Garland's voice singing loud and proud on my CD player, and a copy of the Lincoln Group's $100 million dollar contract with the Department of Defense arriving today in response to my FOIA request a few weeks ago.

Yes, life is beautiful.

And if you want to wish me happy birthday, please do so, but make sure you address me as Poppa Petrelis. I've earned my weathered face and grey hairs.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

U.S. Revises Terrorist, WMDs Watch Lists

The U.S. Treasury on January 18 quietly released a 222-page list of "Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons" of much interest to the American government and serves as a tool in the battle against terrorism. Hasn't received any blogger or mainstream press attention, as far as I can tell.

News to me that the thousands of names are publicly available, and, even though there is nothing in the document referencing the National Security Agency's surveillance of such individuals without warrants, I don't think it's much of a stretch to say many people on this list are some of the likely suspects whose communications have been spied on by NSA.

On the subject of hostile groups and people the U.S. government deems terrorists, as defined by federal regulations outlining sanctions and their enforcement, you can read their names in the 97-page file here at the U.S. Treasury site. This list was revised on December 19, 2005.

We've all probably had too much talk and outright lying by the U.S. government on the matter of weapons of mass destruction that were supposedly about to be unleashed by Saddam Hussein before we attacked Iraq, but you might be interested in reading a 3-page file titled: Blocking Property of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferators and Their Supporters.

This is Executive Order 13382, signed by President Bush on in June 2005, when only eight groups were listed, and it was amended most recently on January 4, 2006. The latest version now has dozens of foreign entities on an WMD-watch list.

What these lists may mean, if anything, about where we are right now as a nation in the Bush administration's war on terrorism, is best left to other political bloggers to assess. My purpose in calling attention to the lists is to stir some analysis of them from national security and foreign policy wonks. We can always do with more people examining every document this administration releases in its fight against terrorism.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Best New Blog Nominee: The Petrelis Files

You can't vote early and often in this political horse race, but I'd sure appreciate your vote for this blog of mine, which has been nominated for a web award of sorts.

Honestly, I'd never heard of these bloggie awards before now and I'm honored to be among such grouchy political bloggers, a few of whom are listed below.

I'll let Pam's House Blend sum up the Koufax "Best New Blog" nominees:

> If you love surfing the progressive blogosphere, you're going to see quite a few familiar stops along this list. Wampum has the Koufax nominees up for Best New Blog.

> These are just some of the fine blogs that I read that made the cut: The Adventures of the Smart Patrol, Agitprop, Blue NC,, firedoglake, Good as You, The Heretik, My Left Wing, Pensito Review, The Petrelis Files, The Reaction, Some Watery Thoughts, Street Prophets, Unclaimed Territory by Glenn Greenwald.

> There are many more over at Wampum, and all deserve your review this year.

Visit Wampum now and show your support for the Petrelis Files! Thanks much.
State Dept Omits Gays from Human Rights NGOs List

The following letter was transmitted via email and postal mail today.

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
U.S. State Department
Washington, DC

Dear Madam Secretary:

The State Department's bureau of human rights lists non-governmental organizations working on human rights protections and issues and is rather diverse, except for the fact that not one gay human rights group is among those listed.

I write today to request that you immediately add the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission to the list and that the State Department link to IGLHRC's web site.

As a gay American deeply concerned about human rights matters, I applaud my State Department linking to the following non-governmental organizations:

American Civil Liberties Union
American Center for International Labor Solidarity
Amnesty International
Committee to Protect Journalists
Forum 18
Freedom House
Human Rights Watch
International IDEA [International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance]
International Republican Institute
The Iraq Foundation
Lawyers Committee for Human Rights
National Conference on Soviet Jewry
National Democratic Institute
National Endowment for Democracy
National Urban League
U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Of course, a link from the State Department web site to any of those groups does not constitute an endorsement of them or the information contained on their sites.

Considering your agency's detailed attention to human rights practices pertaining to gays around the world, which are included in your annual human rights reports, I believe it behooves the State Department to include IGLHRC on your non-governmental organizations links page to better insure the annual report is as comprehensive as possible.

A prompt reply is requested and appreciated.

Michael Petrelis
San Francisco, CA

Saturday, January 21, 2006

CNN Chief Klein Gave to GOP Rep; CNNers Funded Kerry, DNC

CNN took some well-deserved punches this week when it hired conservative talk radio loudmouth Glenn Beck to host a show for the ratings-deficient network. As is my habit at times when a news personality is himself the news, I checked the Federal Election Commission files on Beck and no donations from him were found.

But in searching FEC files for CNN executives and journalists, I discovered that the head of CNN, Jonathan Klein, when he worked at CBS, made a $1,000 donation in 1996 to former New York GOP Congressman Bill Paxon. Interesting that Klein has made just one contribution over the years and it was to a Republican. Says something about his political leanings.

You can view the actual FEC report for Klein's donation here.

Using the search terms "CNN" and "Cable News Network" at the PoliticalMoneyLine's site, I found some CNN employees donated mostly to Democratic pols and committees in the past six years. Located one donation from a business consultant for CNN Asia to the GOP of Hawaii and one from a staffer in Atlanta who gave to the RNC.

The most surprising donation, albeit one made while she was working at Court TV, was Nancy Grace's $1,000 gift to Hillary Clinton. Don't know why, but I never thought Grace would be the sort of journalist to make any donation, much less a low four-figure one.

Seeing how the contributions decidedly went to Democrats again gets me thinking CNN might do itself a real favor and that is, instead of trying to match Fox News' conservative slant and talking heads, go with being proudly liberal. Putting more of the Democrat politics of CNN folks who donated front and center on the air would find an audience, perhaps even halt the network's ever-declining number of viewers.

Why can't America have a right-leaning cable news outlet, and another with leftist views, while still more featuring centrist politics, all competing in the media marketplace of ideas for viewers and loyal audiences? I'm one news junkie tuning in less and less to cable news, because it's either stale and predictable, especially the faux debates, or lacking left and Green Party spokespeople.

These CNN contributions caught my eye, but this list is in no way comprehensive.

Watson, Carlos Mr.
East Palo Alto, CA 94303
Achieva College Prep Ctrs.[Contribution]

Diamond, Rebecca Ms.
New York, NY 10024
CNN [Contribution]

NEW YORK, NY 10016
COURT TV[Contribution]

CNN [Contribution]

Press, Bill
Washington, DC 20003
CNN/Journalist [Contribution]

Tanonaka, Dalton
Honolulu, HI 96825
CNN- Asia/Business Consultant [Contribution]

Begala, Paul
McLean, VA 22101
CNN/television host [Contribution]

Young, Jonathan
Atlanta, GA 30308
CNN America/Technology Executive [Contribution]

Hughey, Lee
Chamblee, GA 30341
Cable News Network/Video Editor [Contribution]

Young, Jonathan
Atlanta, GA 30308
CNN America/Technology Executive [Contribution]

Young, Jonathan
Atlanta, GA 30308
CNN America/Technology Executive [Contribution]

Hughey, Lee
Chamblee, GA 30341
Cable News Network/Video Editor [Contribution]

King, Kate
Decatur, GA 30030
Cnn/Producer [Contribution]

Roberts, Suzanne Ms.
Coatesville, PA 19320
CNN's Headline News/Actress/Child T [Contribution]

Roberts, Suzanne Ms.
Coatesville, PA 19320
CNN's Headline News/Actress/Child T[Contribution]

Biggs, Barton
Atlanta, GA 30306
cnn/journalist [Contribution]

Biggs, Barton
Atlanta, GA 30306
CNN/journalist [Contribution]

Neblett, Toure
Brooklyn, NY 11217
CNN/Correspondent [Contribution]
Gay v. Gay: Rosendall Spars w/IGLHRC over Jerusalem Pride

Just how lame is the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission?

So lame that in their response to an insightful opinion column in the Jan. 19 edition of Bay Windows by veteran Washington-based advocate Rick Rosendall about IGLHRC's position on world gay pride in Jerusalem this summer, his name isn't mentioned once.

Here's some of what Rosendall wrote:

> In a Jan. 9 e-mail to members of the International Advisory Committee (IAC) of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), IGLHRC Executive Director Paula Ettelbrick and her board liaison for IAC, Adrian Coman, asked for input on whether IGLHRC should join the LGBT World Pride celebration scheduled this summer in Jerusalem. They stated that the consensus of their staff and their board’s program committee was not to participate.

> They explained, “While IGLHRC sees as its mandate the promotion of human rights everywhere, and would typically wish to support local organizations and activists, and participate in any world conference where the discussions and goals included LGBT rights, as a human rights organization, we do not feel it is appropriate to participate in a ‘world pride’ event in the middle of an occupation and in a location were our colleagues from the region could not travel to Israel to participate.”

Well, to IGLHRC, them's fightin' words and they had their spokesman, Geoffrey Knox, issue a response, posted on their site:

> The Bay Windows column cites part of a memo sent to IGLHRC’s International Advisory Committee soliciting their feedback about what the organization’s position should be. The columnist did not speak to anyone at IGLHRC to clarify where the organization was in its decision-making process. It appears that readers of his column were left with the erroneous impression that IGLHRC had decided to boycott World Pride in Jerusalem and/or had made a final decision not to participate.

In my opinion, the columnist, who is not a reporter and did not write a news story, was under no obligation to speak with anyone at IGLHRC before opining on anything related to the group. Like leaders of the Soviet Union, IGLHRC goes all out to deny legitimacy to those who disagree with their politics, literally erasing their names from the public record.

Since there is disagreement over IGHLRC's memo, cited by Rosendall, it would be helpful to this debate if the contents of the memo were posted on the web for all to read.

> One of the guiding principles of IGLHRC’s work is that the long-term advancement of human rights globally is accomplished through strengthening, supporting and collaborating with groups and individuals advocating for human rights within their own countries and engaging their social and cultural attitudes regarding sexuality.

Those are noble intentions, ones I heartily endorse, and there's no reason they should preclude IGLHRC from having a respectful and honest public dialogue with U.S. gays who work on global issues, but don't toe IGLHRC's party line.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

S.F. DPH: 60% Drop in AIDS Cases for 2005

You should know the drill by now. A new AIDS surveillance report for San Francisco is published, showing continuing dramatic falling rates and the usual suspects are silent, almost embarrassed by the diminishing epidemic that once ravaged the city.

In 2004, there were 413 cases and during 2005, the city recorded 250 diagnoses. But why say something about a 60% decline in full-blown AIDS diagnoses when so much funding depends on increases?

The list of who's suddenly been struck mute includes the local health department and the dozens of AIDS organizations receiving government dollars, all of the mainstream and gay press, and federal officials at the CDC. Not one institution has seized upon the latest AIDS surveillance report, I suspect, because the numbers are falling. Be assured though, if the stats were climbing even minimally, loud alarms would sound throughout the land.

(Can't tell those fags any good news about AIDS and how sexual safety may be reducing full-blown cases, right? There isn't much money in that approach, is there, now?)

If you've read this far, then I ask that you click here to read the actual document, paying keen attention to the "bell curve" chart on page 2, which illustrates the literal shape of AIDS cases, deaths and persons living with the disease. Like they say, an image is worth a thousand sets of data, a point driven home by San Francisco AIDS "bell curve" chart.

On to the actual stats:

Quarterly AIDS Surveillance Report
AIDS Cases Reported Through December 2005
Table 9, Page 8

AIDS Cases/AIDS Deaths



























Monday, January 16, 2006

NSA: "Technical Difficulties" Are Why FOIA Logs Can't Be Released

I've received word from the NSA that it has located most of the FOIA logs I requested last month.

The agency will soon send me their FOIA logs from 2000 through 2004, but, believe it or not, and I don't, NSA doesn't have the programming or some other such problem necessary to produce the most recent FOIA logs, for 2005.

Incredible. NSA can engage in extensive legitimate, and warrantless clandestine surveillance, around the globe, but its own FOIA logs from 2005, which they acknowledge are in a computer somewhere, can't be generated. Such a lame excuse is unacceptable to me, so I'll be transmitting this appeal on Tuesday.

Will keep you posted.

Louis F. Giles
Director of Policy, FOIA Office
National Security Agency
9800 Savage Road STE 6248
Ft. Meade, MD 20755-6248

Re: NSA FOIA Case Number 47887

Dear Mr. Giles:

This letter acknowledges receipt of your January 4 letter in response to my Freedom of Information Act request for your 2005 FOIA logs.

You state the following: “The two FOIA logs for 2005 (January through June and July through December) have not been generated yet due to technical difficulties with the automated reports function of our FOIA database.”

I frankly find it hard to understand how your agency, with a multi-billion dollar annual budget, does not have the technical ability to generate the FOIA logs for 2005.

What exactly are the “technical difficulties” that prevent you from operating your “automated reports function” of the NSA’s FOIA requests logs for last year?

Please provide further detailed reasons explaining why you are unable to provide me with 2005’s FOIA logs.

Furthermore, once those logs are generated, I ask that copies of the logs are immediately mailed to me.

If you have any need for clarification, please contact me.

Michael Petrelis
Jamaica Observer Puts Gay CDC HIV Chief in Closet

Let me get this straight, if you'll pardon me using such an expression.

The CDC's division of HIV/STD/TB prevention, after years of being headed by a temporary director, finally gets a permanent full-time at the helm, and no U.S. media outlet gives even scant attention to the development, never mind profiling the new director, Dr. Kevin Fenton. As the country grapples with controlling and reducing sexually transmitted diseases and federally-funded HIV prevention groups face unprecedented scrutiny, the nation's new chief for these areas is not worth writing about for the U.S. general public.

But the Jan. 15 edition of the Jamaica Observer in Kingston devotes major space to Fenton ascending a top health position in the U.S., running a very fact-filled profile on him, his medical education and research, the respect he earned as a leading health authority in the United Kingdom, hid duties at the CDC, details on his family and a few photos. The only thing missing is something about his personal life.

As with any decent profile of a public figure, the Jamaica Observer tells us about his heterosexual parents and siblings, and that "over time he developed interests in fine foods, music, clubbing, traveling, and is fluent in French and Spanish [who] is also a painter."

But does he have a companion, either male or female? Nothing is said on that topic. We are told, however, that "Fenton has no children of his own, but is a mentor to others."

If only the reporter had seen the CDC's November memo on Fenton's appointment, in which the agency addresses his personal life, his unnamed, gender-less partner and their dog. "Fenton now resides in Atlanta, with his partner of seven years. In December, their family was expanded to include a beautiful Basset hound named Avery," said the CDC bio for him.

That information might have made the profile much fuller and comprehensive.

Not only that, but if everyone in Jamaica who read the profile had read about his open gayness and longtime male partner, his extensive collaborations with black gay health organizations in the United Kingdom that resulted in greatly controlling gay STD rates and improving the lives of gay men of all colors, then it would have been a fully-rounded profile that educated readers on the gay aspects of Fenton's life.

In Jamaica, a country with anti-homosexual laws on the books, rampant violence against gays and lesbians that sometimes turns murderous and antigay attitudes hampering effective HIV/STD prevention work, it is not okay in my book that the profile omits any mention of Fenton's homosexuality, or even the words gay or homosexuals. In other words, the Jamaica Observer forced Fenton, and the issues of gay STD stats and gay in Jamaica, into a deadly closet.

Maybe I shouldn't be so harsh on the paper. After all, it at least given Fenton some proper attention, which no U.S. media has yet done.

Are American journalists so over reporting on the CDC's HIV prevention programs, which, as we know they've been covering for 25 years now, that they think readers don't want news stories on Fenton and how he soon will take the nation on his path to stabilize and possibly eliminate STDs? There's always the possibility, of course, that readers no longer want or read articles on HIV and the CDC.

Whatever the reason is, for those of us who still give a damn about HIV prevention, we've got the Jamaica Observer profile giving a few clues to Fenton and his resume.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

UK Gay News Editor Praises CDC HIV Chief

This informative letter was emailed to me late last week from the editor of Gay News UK and is well worth sharing because it helps create a better understanding of Dr. Fenton. It seems to me a media light needs to shine on him personally and professionally, his prevention work in the UK, whatever plans he has for reducing HIV/STD rates in the U.S. and how to revise current CDC prevention efforts.

I'm still scratching my head trying to figure out why Fenton has not been profiled in the U.S. press. In addtion to the issue of him being openly gay, the fact that CDC has appointed someone from within the agency to serve as the permanent chief of HIV/STD prevention should warrant gay and mainstream media attention.

C'mon health, HIV and gay beat reporters. Report on Fenton taking charge of CDC's HIV prevention branch.


Michael … Firstly, Kevin Fention has been at CDC in Atlanta for about a year. He was originally appointed as someone very high in the STI department, so probably the appointment you mention to head the HIV/AIDS department is a “promotion”.

Dr. Kevin Fenton is (or was, as he has been “lost” to the USA) one of the UK’s “experts” on HIV/AIDS and other STIs. From what I know of him, he is not only an “academic”, but he also a “practiconer”. Additionally, he does not live in an ivory tower and is therefore very approachable. If you write anything on him, remember he is NOT English. He was born in Scotland so he’s Scottish and British!!!!

I would suggest that he is not a “name” that the majority of gay men – or even the population in general – would instantly recognise in the United Kingdom.

He rightly sees HIV/AIDS and other STIs as something that affects all sections of society, not just gays.

He takes a realistic approach to HIV/AIDS and other STIs. He feels that much more should be done in the “education” field and even advocates a robust education programme in schools. He accepts that behavioural patterns have changed in society – and continue to change – and says that medical approaches to sexual health need to keep abreast of changes in behaviour patterns.

The loss of Dr. Fenton to the UK was a gain to the USA for certain! Gays in the USA have nothing to fear over his appointment! Has there been any outcry yet?

However, it is another matter for the country’s vocal Christian fundamentalists who will probably be after his scalp in months as he does not solely advocate abstainence as being the “cure” for prevention of the spread of HIV and other STIs. He does advocate a “just say no” policy when it comes to the young (lower and mid-teens), but not in the same way as Bush! Also the “fundies” don’t seem to realise that HIV does not confine itself to gay men, so they look on HIV as a “gay disease”!

Dr. Fenton is not in the “judgment” business. He is a caring person and a good “doctor”. As for is he is gay or not, who cares? He has given his medical expertise to all sections of the UK community, whether it is though the medium of a hospital or through specialist gay men’s health clinics.

He has appeared before the House of Commons (roughly the same as the House of Representative) Select Committee on Health and, in addition to being a former lecturer at University College Hospital Medical School and the Royal Free Hospital (both in the London area), he headed the HIV/AIDS-STI division of the UK’s equivalent of the Center for Desease Control, the Health Protection Agency.

My own personal contact with him was for some “guidance” in reporting annual findings on HIV/AIDS-STIs by the Health Protection Agency two years ago. He was most helpful.

I don’t know how long he has been working for the CDC – I think since January 2005. He has certainly been in Atlanta for about a year.

One of his more “famous” lectures was in 2004 at the Royal Institution in London. It was aptly titled: “Kiss and Tell: Breaking the Silence on Sexual Health”. Alas, the press did not cover this lecture, but it was about combatting educational, social and religious barriers when dealing with STIs.

UK Gay News

Saturday, January 14, 2006

"Brokeback" No. 14 on Top-Grossing Gay Flicks List

Can you believe it? "Brokeback Mountain" is already number 14 on the list of top-grossing gay films, or films with major gay characters, as compiled by the analysts at BoxOfficeMojo. Considering the film has been playing in theaters less than two months, I'm impressed it's already in the top-twenty on the gay films' box office receipts list.

If you're a fan of the movie, you're probably looking forward to "Brokeback" collecting many Golden Globes on Monday night when the awards are handed out.

One of the San Francisco Chronicle's film critics predicts this gay cowboy flick is going to sweep the Golden Globes. I don't expect anything less from the folks who bestow these awards.

I don't know about you, but I'm anticipating tossing lots of popcorn in the air in celebration when Heath Ledger and others associated with the movie are called to the podium to accept their well-deserved Golden Globes.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Black Gay Man Hired by CDC for HIV Prevention Branch

Suppose for a moment that a black gay man was hired by the CDC to run its national HIVSTD/TB prevention programs. Would you expect either the CDC or the press to inform the public of this positive development?

I would, but so far, the fact that the CDC has appointed Dr. Kevin Fenton to direct HIV/STD/HIV prevention efforts, and that he's a black gay man, has largely gone unnoticed and unreported.

This is what the CDC said about his qualifications when the agency announced his hiring on Nov. 23, 2005, and no mention was made about his sexual orientation:

> In addition, Kevin Fenton, M.D., Ph.D., was named director of the National Center for HIV, STD, and TB Prevention (NCHSTP). Dr. Fenton has served as chief of CDC’s National Syphilis Elimination Effort since January 2005. He has worked in research, epidemiology, and the prevention of HIV and other STDs since 1995 and was previously the Director of the HIV and STI Department at the United Kingdom’s Health Protection Agency. Dr Fenton has spearheaded the development of a number of national HIV, STD and behavioral surveillance and research programs in the U.K and Western Europe including the National Chlamydia Screening Programme in England, the 2nd British National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles and the European Surveillance of STI (ESSTI) Network.

But in an internal memo, that has not been posted on the web, the CDC hinted at his being gay:

> Family: A native of the U.K., Fenton now resides in Atlanta, with his partner of seven years. In December, their family was expanded to include a beautiful Basset hound named Avery.

Hmmmm. Fenton has a longtime partner and the CDC memo fails to name the partner or give a hint about the person's gender, but the agency provides more information about Fenton's family dog, including the pooch's name. Odd that the dog gets more attention than Fenton's human partner.

Here are a few links to UK black gay sites with more information on Fenton:

1. This links to his profile on the Blackout UK site last year during black history month.

2. Fenton was a co-author of an excellent, informative HIV prevention guidebook for black gay men, which can be found here.

3. While living in the UK, Fenton advised the Big Up! group on healthy sexual practices for black gay men. Learn more about their work here.

4. This is a picture of Fenton and it set off my gaydar.

Even though I heartily applaud the CDC hiring a highly-qualified professional, who just happens to be black and gay, to run the HIV/STD/TB prevention branches, I believe the federal agency and Fenton should face some criticism for not informing the public that Fenton is a black gay man.

Frankly, if the CDC and Fenton were to publicize all aspects of him and his life, he just might be able to be more effective at reaching at-risk black citizens; gay, straight, male female, and preventing transmission of HIV/STD/TB infections. Who could object to that?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

January 2006 Marks 25 Years of AIDS

Let the record show that a horrible plague began its deadly assault on gay men and the world 25-years ago this month.

What became known as AIDS was first reported by the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report of June 8, 1981, and one of the patients mentioned became ill in January of that year:

> Patient 3: A 30-year-old man was well until January 1981 when he developed esophageal and oral candidiasis that responded to Amphotericin B treatment. He was hospitalized in February 1981 for P. carinii pneumonia that responded to TMP/SMX. His esophageal candidiasis recurred after the pneumonia was diagnosed, and he was again given Amphotericin B. The CMV complement-fixation titer in March 1981 was 8. Material from an esophageal biopsy was positive for CMV.

Whereas 2006 marks the 25th year of the AIDS epidemic, it's important we remember and honor the dead, fight like hell for those living with AIDS and risk of contracting it, continue to raise our voices because "Silence = Death," and it's always time to ACT UP! Fight Back! Fight AIDS!

Let the record show in year 25 of AIDS, the cure still ain't here.
NYT: Mexico's Subcommander Marcos' Pro-Gay Politics

Did you know leftist rebel Mexican leader SubCommander Marcos favors gay rights and same-sex relations and is raising these issues in a quixotic political campaign, even though he's not on a single ballot? I wasn't aware of this until I read an article about Marcos and his followers' involvement in electoral politics in the Jan. 6 New York Times, which I read today.

Putting aside the significance of gay concerns playing any part in a Mexican election for a moment, when reading the Times story, it reminded me of how much I miss the old Fenceberrry LGBT newswire that was operated by Aleta Fenceroy and Jean Mayberry.

Those women gathered hundreds and hundreds of gay-related news stories from thousands of news sources in the U.S. and around the planet, then emailed the news clippings to many grateful readers, myself among them. If the Fenceberry women were currently providing their service, I bet they would have shared this Times story with their audience. It's a shame no one stepped forward to continue the work of Fenceberry when they retired, because there's a need for an email listserv like theirs.

Now, about gay issues and Mexico's elections this year and future news coverage in either the domestic press or Mexican newspapers, please send them my way. I'd like to stay informed on this story.

From the Times:

> Marcos, a captivating speaker who now calls himself Delegate Zero, even has a stump speech of sorts, in which he blames "savage capitalism" and the sins of the rich for everything from gay-baiting to racism to domestic violence. [...]

> This time he used the story of his crippled Penguin as parable for the disenfranchised with whom he hopes to build a coalition: indigenous people, women, unionists, the young and jobless, homosexuals, factory workers and small farmers. His goal, he says, is "to transform society," not "from above, but from here below."

> An adroit humorist, Marcos brought guffaws from the crowd as he described his rooster's attempts to find love in the barnyard, which always ended in Penguin falling over before he could mate.

> That anecdote was told to persuade people to accept other kinds of love between same-sex couples. When someone in the back of the crowd shouted that Marcos could not heard, Marcos handled it like a seasoned stand-up comic.

> "That's O.K.," he said. "This part is rated triple X. It's better you don't hear it." [...]

Monday, January 09, 2006

Sullivan's Mistake on Site of Dubya Library?

Methinks Andrew Sullivan has erred about a decision by Dubya on where his presidential library will be constructed in Texas. He writes:

> Lubbock, Texas, is the place the president often refers to when he talks about the heartland of America, and it's where his library will be sited.

I blogged about the matter of his library back in Sept. 2005, because the deadline for submitting proposals to host his presidential papers was in the Texas newspapers, and I didn't recall anything about a decision being made regarding a site.

From the Ft. Worth Star Telegram; 9/15/2005:

> President Bush, who is expected to make a decision sometime next year, guaranteed that the library will be built in his home state by inviting only Texas contenders to make a bid. Others in the hunt for the presidential library are Texas A&M, Baylor and a 10-city West Texas coalition that would base the library-museum at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, with a component in Midland.

A Google search today turned up no hits about Dubya arriving at a decision on which lucky university in Texas will house his White House archive.

Andrew, are you sure his library is sited for Lubbock?

Sunday, January 08, 2006

US Embassy in Jamaica Must End Silence on Gay Murders

January 8, 2006

Honorable Brenda La Grange Johnson
U.S. Embassy
Kingston, Jamaica
[FAXED TO: 1-876-929-3637]

Re: Deaths of Three Gay Men: Brian Willimason, Steve Harvey and Nokia Cowen

Dear Ambassador Johnson:

As you probably know, three gay Jamaicans have recently been murdered in Jamaica. Brian Williamson, murdered in June 2004; Steve Harvey, killed in November 2005, and Nokia Cowen, murdered at the end of December 2005. So far, the law enforcement authorities in Jamaica have failed to identify and apprehend those responsible for the deaths of Harvey and Cowen.

To my dismay, I have been unable to locate any statements on your embassy’s web site or anywhere on the web from you or your staff in Kingston condemning the murders of these three gay men and the rampant hatred and violence perpetrated against gays and lesbians in Jamaica. I sincerely hope that your silence about the murders is not indicative in any way of even a hint of acceptance by you regarding the deaths of gays and widespread homophobia.

I have also not found public comments from you, as the U.S. State Department representative, expressing our country’s expectation that Jamaican police will conduct a full, thorough investigation into the deaths of Harvey and Cowen in a timely manner. Indeed, you and the embassy staff in Kingston apparently have not publicly deplored the murders of Williamson, Harvey or Cowen, nor have you or embassy staffers publicly questioned why no one has been arrested in connection with the death of the last two men.

As a gay American deeply concerned about the human rights abuses and outright murder gay Jamaicans suffer, I ask that you immediately issue a statement of concern on behalf of the U.S. government, deploring the deaths of Williamson, Harvey and Cowen, and call on the Jamaican government to devote more resources to finding the killers. Additionally, I believe you have an unquestioned responsibility to the American public to forcefully speak out when hateful violence and human rights abuses targeting gays, and those perceived to be homosexual, occur.

I wish to remind you of a few things the U.S. State Department said about Jamaica’s treatment of gays in the most recent annual human rights report, for all of 2004, and published in February 2005:

> Violence against individuals suspected or known to be homosexuals occurred, as did discrimination against persons living with HIV/AIDS.

> The law prohibits homosexual relationships, and a culture of severe discrimination persisted. There were numerous cases of violence against persons based on sexual orientation, including by police and vigilante groups.

> The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All Sexuals, and Gays (J-FLAG) continued to report allegations of human rights abuses, including police harassment, arbitrary detention, mob attacks, stabbings, harassment of homosexual patients by hospital and prison staff, and targeted shootings of homosexuals. Police often did not investigate such incidents.

> Male inmates deemed by prison wardens to be homosexual are held in a separate facility for their protection. The method used for determining their sexual orientation is subjective and not regulated by the prison system. There were numerous reports of violence against homosexual inmates, perpetrated both by the wardens and by other inmates, but few inmates sought recourse through the prison system.

> Homosexual men were hesitant to report incidents against them because of fear for their physical well being. Human rights NGOs and government entities agreed that brutality against homosexuals, both by police and private citizens, was widespread in the community.
(Link to State Dept source.)

Furthermore, other recent U.S. State Department yearly reports on human rights abuse for Jamaica note the following problems faced by gays and those suspecting of being gay:

> In July 2003 three men chased a homosexual into a restaurant and began beating him. When the restaurant's security guard discovered that the man was homosexual, he joined the other men in the beating. The homosexual man freed himself and locked himself in the employee bathroom until the police arrived. Although the police took a report, they did not follow up or arrest anyone in relation to the incident. (Link to State Dept source.)

> In May 2002 a neighbor broke into a private home and caught two boys in a homosexual act. He called other neighbors who joined him in the home. The neighbors beat the boys until they fled, leaving their clothing behind.
(Link to State Dept source.)

> In January 2001 fellow students beat four university students with wooden boards because they were suspected homosexuals.
(Link to State Dept source.)

> In April 2000 a mob cornered a 25-year-old man in a Kingston church and killed him because they suspected that he was a homosexual.
(Link to State Dept source.)

Bearing these horrific facts in mind, it’s imperative that you, as the U.S. ambassador, and appropriate embassy staff are never silent about the hostilities, legal discrimination and too-frequent murder of gays in Jamaica.

I respectfully request a prompt reply.

Michael Petrelis

Friday, January 06, 2006

DoD's $100M Lincoln Group Contract FOIA'ed

The following request was made today via email and snail mail.

[From DoD's FOIA office]

This is your confirmation that we have received your FOIA request. Please note that it will be date-stamped as "received" on the next official business day.

You provided the following information:

Submitted: [06/Jan/2006:16:59:29]
Name: MIchael Petrelis
Phone number: 1-415-

City: San Franciscso
State: ca
ZIP Code: 94103

Your Request:

January 6, 2006

FOIA Office
Department of Defense
1155 Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301-1155

Dear Sir or Madam:

Pursuant to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request a copy of, or access to, contract number H92222-05-D-1010, which was awarded by the Department of Defense on June 7, 2005, and is in effect until June 6, 2010.

This is a $100,000,000 contract the Pentagon gave to the Lincoln Group, based in Washington, DC, for media approach planning, prototype product development, commercial quality product development, product distribution and dissemination, and media effects analysis for the Joint Psychological Operations Support element of DoD’s military operations in Iraq.

I am also requesting, as a news blogger who qualifies for status as a representative of the news media as stated in the Act, that this request be granted expedited processing and all fees for searching and copying be waived. My news site is at:

As you know, DoD regulations identify a media representative as “a person actively gathering news for an entity organized and operated to publish or broadcast news to the public,” which is from the Office of Management and Budget’s FOIA guidelines, Section 6.j., under the FOIA Reform Act.

Furthermore, the Department of Justice’s FOIA Guide of May 2004, Fees and Fee Waivers section, explicitly says the “definition of a ‘representative of the news media’ refers to any person actively gathering information of current interest to the public for an organization that is organized and operated to publish or broadcast news to the general public.”

I emphasize the words “any person” to ensure I am properly accorded media status by your office regarding expedited process and fee waivers.

If you have any questions or need clarification, please contact me.

Thank you in advance for your prompt response and assistance.

Michael Petrelis
NYT, Lincoln Group's Gay Execs?, AEI Slams Gray Lady

If you read the front page New York Times story on Jan. 2 revealing additional propaganda contracts between the Department of Defense and the Lincoln Group, for positive planted news and opinion in the Iraqi press, you may recall the paper highlighted the role Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute in the U.S. media campaigns over in Iraq.

> "I visited Camp Victory and looked over some of their proposals or products and commented on their ideas," Mr. Rubin said in an e-mailed response to questions about his links to Lincoln. "I am not nor have I been an employee of the Lincoln Group. I do not receive a salary from them."

> He added: "Normally, when I travel, I receive reimbursement of expenses including a per diem and/or honorarium." But Mr. Rubin would not comment further on how much in such payments he may have received from Lincoln.

> Mr. Rubin was quoted last month in The New York Times about Lincoln's work for the Pentagon placing articles in Iraqi publications: "I'm not surprised this goes on," he said, without disclosing his work for Lincoln. "Especially in an atmosphere where terrorists and insurgents - replete with oil boom cash - do the same. We need an even playing field, but cannot fight with both hands tied behind our backs."

Rubin is not at all pleased with the Times article and he's written a 2,000 word rebuttal that the Gray Lady has not yet seen fit to print. This is part of his response, as posted on the AEI web site:

> Second, I had no inside knowledge either of the Lincoln Group's newspaper program or, for that matter, of its program rewarding anti-incitement activists, the main subject of the January 2 New York Times's story. I have knowledge of other activities by the Lincoln Group and others. But discretion is important. Analysts are not bloggers or journalists. Their job is to understand what is going on and suggest ways to refine policy; it is not to expose proprietary or confidential information. I did not discuss the Lincoln Group with Shane. I felt the New York Times was fishing. Gerth had been after the Lincoln Group for months and was bitter at being scooped by the Los Angeles Times, something upon which his colleagues have commented. [...]

> Journalists likewise do not like competition. Numerous websites chronicle reporters' inane analysis. A whole website is dedicated to the foibles of the New York Times. Cloud asked me why I went to Camp Victory. I understood his implementation to be that only reporters can cultivate sources and investigate what policy is being made. Journalists like being the gatekeepers of information. They do not like their judgments second-guessed.

While I'm not in agreement with Rubin's hard-right conservative viewpoints related to the Iraqi conflict, there is one thing he says that gives me common ground with him. He's right about journalists covet and enjoy serving as gatekeepers of information. We need look only to the Times and how it held the National Security Agency surveillance story for more than a year before printing it.

On the topic of information gatekeepers, there's something the Times has been remiss in not reporting connected to the Lincoln Group contracts story. The Times has given minimal coverage to the firm's influential 30-year-old vice president Christian Bailey and his murky, quirky history, and his partner, Paige Craig.

This excerpt appeared in the Times on December 12, 2005:

> The two men who ran the small business had no background in public relations or the media, according to associates and a résumé. Before coming to Washington and setting up Lincoln in 2004, Christian Bailey, born in Britain and now 30, had worked briefly in California and New York. Paige Craig, now 31, was a former Marine intelligence officer.

If you want to learn anything of substance on Bailey and his politics from the mainstream media, you won't find it in the Times or any other U.S. newspaper. You've gotta cross the pond for such media reporting.

From the Independent in London:

> Much is unclear about the Lincoln Group, its youthful executive vice-president and his string of previous companies that have left only the faintest paper trail. Indeed, Christian Bailey may not be his real name: a number of student associates said at some point during his four years that he changed his name from Yusefovich - an unlikely surname for someone called Christian.

> The Independent has been unable to confirm this. Yet the details known about Bailey and the contract his company won provide a remarkable insight into the way influence and power operate in Washington. Just two years after arriving here, Bailey, 30, who has a penchant for socialising, has apparently developed contacts both within the Republican establishment and the world of private intelligence.

Hmmm. Maybe he's someone the Times would profile in-depth, to provide readers with a full picture of the contracts story, and scoop the competition?

> Yet it is clear the Lincoln Group and its contract with the Joint Psychological Operations Support Element, part of the Pentagon's Special Operations Command, is inextricably linked with Bailey. He apparently named the company and its various offshoots after Lincoln College, Oxford, from which he graduated in 1997 with an MA in economics and management.

> Many observers have been surprised Bailey, from Surrey, has been awarded such a sizable contract, give that he appears to have no experience in public relations. Indeed, since he moved to the US in the late 1990s, he has spent much of his time in private finance, working in hedge funds in San Francisco and New York.

Oh, no! My gaydar is on high alert because of the San Francisco reference.

> When he moved to Washington, his reputation as a networker continued. He often hosted parties at home and mixed with a set of young, up-and-coming journalists and congressional staffers. He enjoyed a reputation as a good cook, a welcoming host and for making cappuccinos with a machine in his kitchen. He also enjoyed flying: Federal Aviation Administration records show that he is qualified to fly aeroplanes and helicopters.

Hosting parties, a good cook and knows how to make a cappuccino, and has a penchant for aerial adventures? Could be clues to his sexual orientation, which is one matter the Independent doesn't broach.

> By last autumn Bailey had formed another Lincoln subsidiary, called Iraqex, which seems to have formed a partnership with another American PR firm called Rendon, famous in Washington for having promoted Ahmed Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress.

What an interesting connection between Bailey and Chalabi. If only the paper of record would get around to reporting on it.

> At some point Bailey also went into business with Paige Craig, 31, a former US Marine who served in Iraq and elsewhere. [Bailey and Craig are flatmates in a fashionable part of Washington, close to U Street. The flat is just yards away from Café Saint- Ex, popular with young professionals.]

I don't get the sense that Craig is married to a women, do you? And what is with two extremely wealthy young males sharing an apartment in a predominantly gay DC neighborhood, when they both can easily afford to live alone? They don't exactly need roommates to help pay the rent.

> But the real breakthrough came this summer when Bailey's company, having again changed its name to the Lincoln Group, secured a $100m contract for information and psychological operations. Part of the contract was for placing "faux" news stories in some of the 200 Iraqi-owned newspapers that now exist.

All that money spent, for little benefit in Iraq and continuing page 1 articles in the Times, highly critical of the Lincoln Group. Any of you DC gay boys back there have any dirt to dish on Bailey and Craig? Pass it along, if you do.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

"Brokeback" Cracks Top 10 Box Office List UPDATED

Time for some numbers crunching on "Brokeback Mountain" and its fabulous performance at the box office since opening back in December. BoxOfficeMoJo's figures for January 3 place the film at number nine on the list of top grossing films.

Yippee! Our gay cowboys have broken another movie-land barrier.

I find it amazing the film is at number nine on the list considering it's playing in only 269 theaters.

"Brokeback Mountain" also had the best per screen average of the top films; $2,472. Total amount taken in thus far: $15.7 million.

Let's hope this terrific performance at the box office gets the attention of Oscar voters, who should mark their ballots in several nominating categories for the film, its stars, the writers and director, along with the cinematographer.

Sure, the Oscars are about artistic merit, but the industry also likes to award prizes to films that do well with audiences, and based on the mounting box office receipts for "Brokeback Mountain," I'll be shocked if the movies doesn't receive at least eight major nominations later this month.



The new box office numbers for "Brokeback Mountain" show it's moved up a notch. It's now at number 8 on the top 10 list. Go, gay cowboys, go!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

WH Briefing: McClellan Obfuscates on Abramoff Donations

From today's White House press briefing:

> MR. McCLELLAN: Again, I think we're taking the appropriate steps in terms of this individual. It's similar to what we have done with previous individuals that may have been involved in wrongdoing that had contributed money, too. And I think in terms of others making those decisions, it's up to them, but there are certainly people on both sides of the aisle that ought to take a look at that.

> Go ahead.

> Q Scott, why would --

> MR. McCLELLAN: And I would remind you, too, that -- what I said yesterday, because this is an individual who has donated money from himself or his clients to Democrats and Republicans alike. That's based on press reports; press reports have shown that, that significant amounts have been contributed to both Republicans and Democrats alike.

Oh, that Scottie! So clever at conflating partial truths and obfuscating a clear picture of Jack Abramoff's personal donations to politicians, including Bush and Cheney. Nice how he says from "himself or his clients" instead of distinguishing Abramoff's personal giving from donations made by his clients. Sort of like putting 9/11 and Saddam Hussein in the basket?

In any event, how does Scottie know what he thinks is the case regarding Abramoff's donations? Why, he cites press reports to explain where he got his info. Um, can't the White House an underling or perhaps an intern to check actual Federal Election Commission files on who Abramoff gave money to, and their parties?

Maybe the White House can pull itself away from warrantless surveillance and cruise on over to any one of the many site tracking FEC donations, that is, if they want a dose of truth.
IRS Files on Abramoff Charity, Pam Abramoff's Donations to Bush

In September 2004, the Washington Post ran an excellent and very informative front-page article on Jack Abramoff's 501(c)3 charity, the Capital Athletic Foundation, and the numerous ethical questions raised related to the nonprofit.

As terrific as the Post story was, it didn't tell readers how they can read the IRS 990 filings on the web for Abramoff's foundation. To read the three most recent IRS 990's for his charity, which are posted on the Guide Star site, go here. (Registration required, and worth it!)

While I hate to tar Abramoff's wife Pamela with any legal or moral guilt based on her husband's myriad troubles, I feel it's okay to examine her money trail because she was co-director of the Capital Athletic Foundation.

No surprise here. She made dozens of donations over the years, all to GOP candidates or PACs, according to her Federal Election Commission file, as posted on the PoliticalMoneyLine site, including $3,000 to the Bush/Cheney campaigns in 2000 and 2004, along with a $5,000 to their recount 527 committee in 2000.



Abramoff, Pamela C
Silver Spring, MD 20901
Preston Gates Ellis[Contribution to a 527 organization]
Bush-Cheney 2000, Inc-Recount Fund

Question: Does the Bush White House feel any moral need to turn over Pamela's donations to a legitimate charity, like they are doing with the amounts donated by Jack?
Coal Group CEO Hatfield Gave to GOP, Ollie North, 2 Dems

After watching a few TV news stories about the tragic ending to the coal mine disaster in West Virginia, except for the one miner pulled out alive, I went looking for any political donations made by the mining company, International Coal Group.

According to Federal Election Commission records at the PoliticalMoneyLine, no donations from executives or employees of that corporation were made in the past decade or so.

However, the CEO of the mining company, Bennett K. Hatfield, before he took the helm of the company, worked for Arch Coal and Massey Coal, and during his employment with them, he wrote a few checks to politicians, both Republicans and Democrats. The following donations were listed at the PoliticalMoneyLine site:

Hatfield, Ben Mr.
Charleston, WV 25329
Arch Coal. Inc/Manager[Contribution]

CHESTERFIELD, VA 23838 [Contribution]

MASSEY COAL CO[Contribution]

MATEWAN, WV 25678 [Contribution]


$500.00 WILLIAMSON, WV 25661

Most of his other federal donations went to coal company's political action committees.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Scandal-tainted Abramoff's Full FEC Donations' List

In the grand scheme of the still-unfolding scandal surrounding Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff, his Federal Election Commission file is probably noteworthy only because he adhered to the law when making campaign donations. Oh, and all of his contributions, according to a breakdown by, were to GOP candidates or their PACs. He made no personal donations to any Democrats.

From his FEC file, as posted on, a great site for following the money:

Jack Abramoff , 47
lobbyist, GOP fundraiser; convicted of conspiracy, tax evasion and mail fraud

$172,933 Republican
$88,985 special interest
total: $261,918

Click here to read the entire list of who he gave money to, when he donated and how much.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Up, Down, Stable?: S.F.'s New HIV/STD Stats Released

The penultimate 2005 monthly sexually transmitted disease report for San Francisco was released in the last week of December and it is worth calling attention to, especially the syphilis and HIV stats.

Data through November shows a 27% reduction in syphilis, compared with this time last year, 461 cases in 2005 and 630 for 2004.

Looking at the number of HIV antibody tests performed and positive reactions, 2004/3482/120 versus 2005/3014/140, it is essentially a stable rate we're seeing.

Also worth mentioning is that the 120 and 140 poz test result stats includes repeat testers. Once the state of California begins HIV names reporting, we'll have a better sense of the current and recent infection rates because repeat testers will be weeded out, among other benefits of names reporting.

The lack of names reporting over the years has allowed HIV and public health advocates to use the syphilis rate as a surrogate marker for rates of HIV infections. I have always found that argument suspect because syphilis is much easier to contract than HIV, so when alleged syphilis surges were being tracked by the experts, they also sounded the alarm about a possible corresponding increase in HIV. Who can forget the page one scary stories in the San Francisco Chronicle and New York Times?

Well, syphilis is a names reportable disease, has been for decades, and it is clearly and abundantly decreasing in San Francisco, which for all intents and purposes means the "gay syphilis rate" is continuing to drop, but no one from the public health community is speaking out either about the falling numbers or what the decline may mean related to HIV infections. No stories are hitting the papers about the new stats.

One last thing. Let's examine the latest male rectal gonorrhea stats, 2004/425 and 2005/372. Yes, that is a rise in numbers, but it may be due to the public health department dramatically increasing the number of tests administered as part of a wide surveillance plan.

You can read about that expanded gonorrhea testing program at this link, on page 73.