Tuesday, February 28, 2006

U.S. House Recognizes Lesbian Baldwin's Spouse?

File this under small, but potentially significant. Democratic Wisconsin Rep. Tammy Baldwin, an open lesbian politician, has listed her partner Lauren Azar, as her spouse on at least one official travel disclosure form with the Clerk of the House.

In January Baldwin went on a junket to Israel paid for by the American Israel Education Foundation and Azar accompanied her.

The disclosure form asks for the name of the family member traveling with the representative, in this case Azar, and lists three choices in declaring the relationship of the traveling companion; spouse, child or other. Baldwin put an X next to the spouse option.

So on a certain level, the U.S. House of Representatives has recognized Baldwin same-sex partner, at least by the rules enforced by the Clerk of House for junketeering members and their spouses.

Baldwin trip to Israel this year was not the only instance when Azar traveled with the congressman on a junket. According to records obtained by the PoliticalMoneyLine, there have five other such trips. Seems to me the House has accepted on six occasions conferring official spouse status on the female partner of a lesbian member.

There's also one thing confounding the whole notion that Baldwin lists her lesbian partner Azar as her spouse on the forms, and that is, they're not hitched, or weren't in July 2003 when this bit of news appeared in The Hill:

> Since Ontario legalized same-sex marriage, Toronto, according to The New York Times, has become “the gay Las Vegas.” But Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), the only openly lesbian member of Congress, said she and Lauren Azar, listed in The Hill’s Congressional Directory as her domestic partner, aren’t heading north to tie the knot. And if they ever do, Baldwin said, they “would not share that with the news media.”

Can't think of a reason why she wouldn't want to garner some positive ink if she married her woman, but I could certainly understand if she did marry Azar and kept the ceremony off-limits to intrusion from the press.

Okay, for all I know Baldwin and Azar have not tied the knot since that appeared, or maybe they did and managed to keep it quiet. I'd like to think if these women took advantage of Massachusetts' gay equal marriage law, or any other jurisdiction's comparable gay marriage statutes, that they would be so kind as to inform the community.

The Latest HIV Rate For San Francisco

The San Francisco health department normally releases the latest HIV rate for the city in January, but not this year. Why? The answer can be found in the minutes of the January 2006 HIV Prevention Planning Council meeting:

> "Tracey Packer [head of HIV prevention for DPH] explained that at the first meeting of each year Willi McFarland, MD, PhD, usually reports on the most recent epidemiology data. This year, however, he is updating the consensus report through consultations with a number of people working on HIV/AIDS. The consensus report is used to prioritize populations for HIV prevention. Willi McFarland will present consensus estimates to the HPPC for its response and finalize the numbers after this meeting." (HPPC 01/06 minutes, page 2.)

Previous epidemiology updates can be found here: 2005, 2004, 2003.

Now you may think the DPH is only starting the 2005 HIV consensus report process, but it actually began seven months ago. From the San Francisco Chronicle story of July 20, 2005, about a big drop in HIV infections:

> City officials therefore are expected to convene within a month a panel of experts to consider lowering San Francisco's official estimate of annual HIV infections -- which would signal that the feared second wave of the epidemic detected in 2000 has crested without a return to the ghastly infection rates of 8.5 percent in the early 1980s. [...]

> At the forthcoming HIV "consensus conference" in San Francisco, experts will consider at least 11 different indicators that the city regularly uses to track the course of the epidemic.

The question arises of why San Francisco is taking a rather long time to develop the latest HIV infection rate consensus report. One possibility is that DPH fears officially reporting the current rate because it's decreasing or stable, and that means less federal funds coming here through the Ryan White CARE Act.

Starting in FY 2007, new regulations for Ryan White funds will allocate funds based on valid HIV infection data, instead of only using full-blown AIDS caseload stats, as has been the case in the 1990s. California presently lacks an HIV names reporting law, but that is expected to change very soon in order for the state to qualify for Ryan White grants at or near current funding levels.

Frankly, San Francisco's DPH and AIDS service organizations have much to worry about with new federal requirements demanding better HIV and AIDS stats, which, honestly, have been shamefully manipulated by the health department over the years to artificially inflate the numbers for increased funding.

For example, up until last July, San Francisco quietly counted non-residents of the city in its AIDS data. Last year's annual HIV/AIDS report contained a letter explaining that the city had included people with AIDS from surrounding areas in the stats, but this practice was ending to give a more accurate picture of actual caseloads for San Francisco. (2004 S.F. HIV/AIDS Report, page 12.)

Another example of how cities like San Francisco and states like California have pumped up federal grants in by double counting stats, something that should be eliminated in the Ryan White legislation. A press release last year from the Department of Health and Human Services, while not specifically citing this city or state, clearly laid out the problem:

> Currently, in major metropolitan cities, AIDS cases are counted once as part of a city count and a second time in the overall state count. Therefore, HIV/AIDS cases in major metropolitan cities are counted twice. In an effort to ensure that every AIDS case is counted equally and to make sure that Federal funds are distributed fairly to those most in need of assistance, we must eliminate this double counting.

We all know Congress is gearing up for reauthorizing the Ryan White CARE Act in the coming weeks and with billions of dollars at stake, many local and state health departments, along with AIDS groups, are going to fierce fight for pieces of the funding pie.

My one bit of advice for members of Congress to bear in mind when evaluating San Francisco's HIV and AIDS stats is that they demand independent verification of whatever numbers are presented. San Francisco and our health department should not be allowed to again get away with false claims of "sub-Saharan levels of [HIV] transmission" just to keep federal dollars flowing here, while other harder-hit parts of the country are denied their fair share of AIDS funds.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Victory! U.N. Grants Asylum Status to Gay Iranian

Do you recall Doug Ireland's reporting last September about Amir, a gay Iranian arrested and tortured by Iran's police forces? Amir was lashed 100 times for the crime, as the cops cracked down on gays using the web to find each other. A very depressing story, right?

Well, there's finally some good news to share about the case. An email arrived today from our friends at the Persian Gay & Lesbian Organization, with excellent news about Amir and his bid for asylum with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Here is the full-text of the email:

Amir was recognized as a refugee.

Amir is a 23-year-old gay man who was persecuted and arrested in Iran and tolerated 100 lashes and had fled to the UNHCR in Turkey and looked for asylum, after 7 months waiting the UNHCR recognized him on Feb, 25, 2005 and he is going to be sent to the 3rd safe country.

Today Amir in his last talk to the PGLO's representative said:

"I am so thankful for UNHCR and each person's efforts and supports and I will never forget you" also he replied:

"I am so happy. I thank God to save me from stress. Right now I can feel a new calm life. I am indebted to the PGLO, Ms. Jessica Stern and Scott Long from HRW, Mr. Ally from IGLHRC, Mr. Doug Ireland the American journalist and thousands of friends who sent their support letters to the UNHCR."

This is a very hopeful event for sexual minorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran. During last months the PGLO could have some meetings with the UNHCR and successfully saved some Iranian LGBT people.

Persian Gay & Lesbian Organization is thankful to all those people who have supported us by their letters, email, fax, specially HRW, IGLHRC, IOIR, IFIR and wishes one day that there is no refugee seeker in the world.

Please visit our website and sign our petition. (www.pglo.org)

Best regards,
Second Secretary of the PGLO

This victory for Iranian gays and lesbians and human rights activists around the world should be widely celebrated. However, we must not forget all of the other gays and lesbians in Iran who live in fear and daily risk being tortured or executed.

We all remember the two gay teenagers publicly hanged in July in Mashad for the "crime" of being homosexual. This act of barbarism was carried out because of Islamic law prohibiting gay love. The PGLO dutifully reminds us of what the law actually says:

Article 111: Lavat is punishable by death so long as both the active and passive partners are mature, of sound mind, and have acted of free will.

But this law is still not enough to force two American gay groups, the Washington-based Human Rights [sic] Campaign and the gay Muslim group Al-Fatih to adopt formal written positions opposing the death penalty. How many gays must first be executed before these organizations join the civilized world and demand an end to capital punishment?

Saturday, February 25, 2006

State v. DoD: Who Bombed the Mosque; Report to Congress Ignored by MSM

> [Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice] said the United States had no clear evidence showing who was behind the bombing of the Shiite mosque, the act that set off the destruction and bloodshed. But she, like others in Washington, seems inclined to blame Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Al Qaeda's leader in Iraq.

-- NYT, Feb. 25

> Al Qaeda in Iraq bombed the Askariyah Mosque in Samarra Feb. 22.

-- DoD's American Forces Press Service, Feb. 24

Hmmm. So the State Department puts out the word that there's no clear evidence on the matter, while the Pentagon is saying, without question, they know who bombed the mosque. Condi might want to pick up the phone and chat with Rummy about who was responsible for the bombing and get their facts aligned.

On a very important related matter, release of the latest quarterly Iraqi report to Congress, I've written this up and sent it around to a few news outlets:

Hello, mainstream media!

Many of you, with the notable exceptions of pundit Arianna Huffington on her blog, CNN's web site and the New York Times, haven't reported on the latest mandated assessment on the U.S. war effort in Iraq. From today's NYT:

> The report, "Measuring Stability and Security in Iraq," said 53 Iraqi battalions were able to take the lead in place of Americans in the battle against terrorists and insurgents, up from 36 three months ago. A battalion in Iraq varies in size, but usually has from several hundred to 750 troops.

> But while at least one battalion was said three months ago to have the ability to operate wholly independently of American forces, that number has fallen to zero.

However, believe it or not, the quasi-official Navy Times put the other three outlets to shame in covering the new report because the military publication wrote about a possible jump in troops serving in Iraq:

> At the end of the 56-page report, in a section titled “Withdrawing Forces,” the report repeats the Pentagon’s mantra regarding troop withdrawal, namely that as conditions improve on the ground, U.S. forces will be allowed to go home. But even the report hints at the possibility of a troop increase.

> “Coalition force levels will increase, if necessary, to defeat the enemy or provide additional security for key events like the recent referendum and elections,” the report said. [...]

The overwhelmingly gloomy news in the new document includes small glimmers of hopeful signs though, if you really look for them, such as the number of Iraqi civilian casualties, dipped ever-so-slightly, as did casualties for Coalition Forces. (See chart on page 28.)

An earlier report, presented to Congress on Oct. 13, 2005, was a sobering look at the situation over there. You should read it to see how far we haven't come in this battle to bring democracy and security to Iraq.

And before that, the July 2005 report wasn't much better in terms of good news or verifiable progress being made on the ground. Nevertheless, the report is full of the most colorful charts and graphs of assort stats. Check out the illustration on page 3 for eye-pleasing timeline of democracy supposedly taking root in Iraq, according to Bush's grand plans.

My question for the journalists and editors who've so far not covered the new report to Congress is: Did the Pentagon succeed in keeping the depressing news from being widely written about in releasing the report on a Friday?

Friday, February 24, 2006

SF Chron: Bush Happy Ports Not Sold to Gays or Blacks

Be honest now. You just knew there had to be a gay or black angle to the ports deal controversy, right? Well, you'll be happy to know the S.F. Chronicle has reported on this development today. ;-)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Salon: Bush Family, Ports Deal, Carlyle Group (NYT Link?)

Do you happen to know Salon writer Joe Conason? If you do, please put me in touch with him.

He's written a fascinating piece for Salon about the Bush administration's controversial effort to award a contract to the Dubai Ports World company and allow to operate several American seaports. Conason reports on the extensive links between the Carlyle Group and many tentacles of the Bush family's interests.

From Salon:

> Consider the Carlyle Group, the huge, politically wired private equity firm that has employed both the president and his father -- and from which the members of the Bush family and their closest associates, such as former Secretary of State James Baker III, have profited handsomely in recent years. With its sole Middle East office headquartered in Dubai, Carlyle has managed to attract substantial funding from the UAE government, which controls most of the tiny nation's oil wealth and channels that money into foreign investments.

> Last year, to cite only the most recent example, Carlyle's newest buyout fund won an infusion of at least $100 million from the Dubai Investment Corp. -- another state-owned outfit created by the ruling families to reinvest the enormous inflows of capital from rising oil prices and oil consumption. If that individual deal with Carlyle represented only a small fraction of the Emirates' investments, the upside potential of the relationship could be far greater in the future. The directors of Dubai Investment expect to invest as much as $5 billion every year for a long time to come.

> No doubt Carlyle will ardently bid to manage a slice of those billions -- and the president surely understands that maintaining good relations with the Emirates will enhance the prospects of the family's favorite equity firm. But to deprive Dubai of its $6.8 billion ports acquisition might well have the opposite effect. For a company that trades on its political influence as well as its business acumen, such incidents can be pivotal.

I want to contact Conason to make him aware of something. William E. Kennard, a managing director for the Carlyle Group, also sits on the board of the New York Times Company. Interesting that Kennard joined both companies in the same year, 2001. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it does raise at least one of my eyebrows that someone during a twelve-month period became a high-ranking director at these two highly-influential institutions.

Kennard also once was the head of the Federal Communications Commission, during the Clinton years.

I also want to ask Conason to do a LexisNexis search of New York Times articles since Kennard joined the paper's board of directors, just to see what the Times has published during that time on the Carlyle Group.

There's no reason to think the Times has in any way given favorably biased coverage to the investment firm, or that the paper has failed to mention, when appropriate and necessary, the link between Kennard/Carlyle Group and the Times.

But my curiosity is piqued and I don't have access to LexisNexis services, so if anyone can connect with Conason, I'd sure appreciate the favor.

DHS' Two Audits of Ports; Measuring Preparedness Undefined

All the hue and cry lately over the pending contact awarding some management control of five American ports to Dubai Ports World, a company based in the United Arab Emirates, jogged my memory about the security of our ports, an issue I addressed last autumn.

My initial concern then was the apparent resume-padding by the then-head of the Department of Homeland Security's Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness, which doles out grants to keep our ports safe from terrorism.

In poking around the DHS web site, I found the latest audit by the Inspector General on many divisions of the agency, including grants for port security. Guess what? The audit was critical of the program:

> The program has awarded approximately $560 million for over 1200 programs. We reported that the program's eligibility criteria are directed broadly at national critical seaports and the current design of the program compromises the program's ability to direct resources toward the nation's highest priorities [...]

> "In addition, grant award decisions were made with the intent of expending all available funding, and spreading funds to as many applicants as possible, leading the agency to fund 258 low-scoring projects at a cost of $67 million.

> "Moreover, the program lacks DHS criteria for granting awards to the private sector. Private entities received substantial funding, some of which went to projects that reviewers scored below average or worse, during the evaluation process.

> "Furthermore, after three rounds of grants, all grant recipients had expended only $106.9 million, or 21% of the total program awards as of September 30, 2004. [...]

> "The statutory intent and future direction of port security grants is unclear."
[Pages 27-28]

And that audit is not the only one providing insight about what is wrong with security for the ports system. The DHS Inspector General last February issued another audit, even more detailed about the failures of the grants programs to improve security.

From the NY Times Feb. 20, 2005, story:

> The Department of Homeland Security has given hundreds of millions of dollars to protect ports since Sept. 11, 2001, without sufficiently directing the money to those that are most vulnerable, a policy that has compromised the nation's ability to better defend the most critical ports against terrorist attacks, the department's inspector-general has concluded.

> Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been invested in redundant lighting systems and unnecessary technical equipment, the audit found, and "the program has not yet achieved its intended results in the form of actual improvement in port security."

You can read the 76-page audit here.

As if those two DHS audit aren't enough to frighten you about the current status of U.S. ports, read what ports experts had to say two short weeks ago about a Bush administration idea related to security in a Federal Computer Weekly news article:

> Representatives of the nation’s public seaports oppose President Bush’s proposal to lump a dedicated grant program to improve port security into a larger funding pool.

> Under Bush's fiscal 2007 spending plan, the Port Security Grant program, which was established in 2002, would be folded into the Targeted Infrastructure Protection (TIP) program within the Homeland Security Department’s new Preparedness Directorate.

> Last year, Bush tried to consolidate the port security program into the larger grant program, but Congress rebuffed him and chose to keep the grant program separate. TIP was created to enhance security at port, railway, mass transit and other critical infrastructure facilities.

> However, officials from the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), which represents 80 U.S. ports, said if the program is consolidated into a larger program, they would have to compete for funds against other transit systems, such as buses or rail. [...]

To further rattle my nerves, I read an interesting story in Government Executive magazine from January 2006 about the frustration of several U.S. mayors over the Bush administration's recent changes in homeland security grants. An excerpt:

> Tracy Henke, the department's executive director of grants and training, conceded that the department has yet to figure out how to measure preparedness, but said it was a priority for the department.

W-T-F? Ms. Henke, the DHS chief for domestic preparedness, including ports, admits to the mayors and at least one reporter that the agency, and America really, more than four years after the 9/11 tragedies, still can't define ways to measure preparedness. Precisely how many more years do the Bush administration and DHS need to measure preparedness?

With the two DHS audits, concerns from ports experts and managers about grants, and a top DHS administrator saying on the record her agency lacks the tools necessary to measure preparedness, I don't think now is an ideal time to listen to trust the Bush administration assurances on the proposed deal with the Dubai Ports World company.

And finally, the American Association of Port Authorities, an industry group for ports in the Western Hemisphere whose top priority is security, announced this week that they've not taken a position on pending contract involving Dubai Ports World.

If the Bush administration proposal is so good, why hasn't the AAPA endorsed it?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Santorum's Charity Gave to AIDS Groups Serving Gays

Pennsylvania's conservative and rabidly anti-gay U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum (R), is the subject of a fascinating package of stories by Will Bunch in the American Prospect magazine's March issue.

The cover story, all about Santorum's questionable financial dealings, raises troubling issues for him to address
, as the GOP Senate leadership contemplates naming him their go-to guy on ethics. I expect his Republican colleagues will dismiss Santorum's dubious ethical standards, in large part, because he's a fine standard-bearer for homo-hatred in the Senate and the GOP.

What most interested me though was the sidebar on Santorum's charity, the Operation Good Neighbor Foundation. Who knew he had a nonprofit? This was news to me. But what wasn't surprising in the least was this claim by the magazine: "[The foundation] isn’t very charitable and hasn’t filed the required papers with the state."

Even more surprising is the fact that the web site for Santorum's charity shows him awarding checks of $10,000 to two AIDS groups; AIDS Alive, a social support group, and MANNA, a hot-meals delivery program.

I called both groups and confirmed they provide services to gay men either living with AIDS, or at-risk of contracting HIV disease.

Maybe we shouldn't inform Santorum of the groups' nondiscrimination policies regarding gays. If he knew the groups don't discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, he might just ask for his money back because if there's one thing we know about him, it's that he hates homosexuals.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

"Brokeback": $106m Global Receipts; Congress Reacts

The gay cowboy movie "Brokeback Mountain" continues to rake in the buck at the box office. According to BoxOfficeMoJo.com its earned more than $106 million in domestic and worldwide release so far.

If that kind of money isn't enough to persuade Hollywood to make more gay-themed movies for both the gay community and other moviegoers, nothing will.

"Brokeback" is also a topic of concern for Capital Hill's two newspapers, Roll Call and The Hill. Roll Call teases on its web site with this bit of news:

Brokeback Resolution
By Mary Ann Akers
February 16, 2006

> They swear it has nothing to do with “Brokeback Mountain,” but a group of Senators, mostly from cowboy country, has introduced a resolution designating July 22, as “National Day of the American Cowboy.”

If you subscribe to Roll Call, you can read the full article here.

Those intrepid folks at The Hill found a Congressional angle to the movie. Honestly, before reading this article, I had no idea "Brokeback" had any connection at all to Congress, and I'm sure glad The Hill found a way to write about this Oscar-contender. Some excerpts:

> The question “Have you seen ‘Brokeback Mountain’?” is enough to send members of Congress running in the other direction and their spokespeople into a frenzy of excuses about why their bosses have no answer. [...]

> Lawmakers often decline to speak on subjects, and that’s often telling. Of 14 congressional Republicans’ offices called for this story, only three would comment. [...]

> Those in places such as Utah, Texas and Virginia, however, tended to shy away from the movie that has grossed scores of millions of dollars and earned eight Oscar nominations — more than any other this year.

> A spokesman for Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) said his boss has not seen the movie and “probably won’t go there,” as far as commenting the movie’s effect on politics. [...]

> The politics surrounding “Brokeback Mountain” are complicated for some lawmakers. Talk about it and risk alienating voters. Don’t talk about it and risk appearing insensitive.

> The movie has not only been seen as normalizing elements of gay life but also has created a new term for it. The term “brokeback” is now synonymous with “gay” and is often used in a derogatory way. The film has also been fodder for countless gay-cowboy jokes among late-night comedians. [...]

> Later that week, a reporter asked House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) if she had seen the movie. She claimed to have tried to see the movie five times, but each time that she went to a theater in her heavily gay San Francisco district it was sold out. According to a staffer, Pelosi has not had time to see the movie since then because of the State of the Union and other scheduling conflicts.

> Rep. Barney Frank (D -Mass.), one of two openly gay House members, would not say whether he had seen the movie. He said he does not discuss what films he attends or what restaurants he frequents. Nonetheless, he said the movie has had a strong political impact because it “demystifies how gay couples behave.” The beginning shows a “healthy gay couple” that is later confronted with “very difficult real-life issues.”

> Most conservative members whose offices were called for comment on this story did not respond. They include House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio), among others. Many more liberal offices were willing to respond. [...]

> This is not the first film to reverberate so strongly in the political world. Jack Pitney, a professor of political science at Claremont McKenna College, says movies have influenced politics since 1915. Pitney points out that when Woodrow Wilson hosted the very first White House screening, he chose “The Birth of a Nation,” which celebrates the Ku Klux Klan.

> “The film served as a recruiting device for the second version of the clan,” Pitney said. “It also mobilized the NAACP to protest.”

> “Brokeback Mountain” has not yet mobilized troops for a culture war, but a politician’s reaction to the movie is one way for voters to determine in which foxhole a politician lies.

Nice balanced and informative story, wouldn't you say? A few aspects surprised me though.

First, I can't believe Pelosi and her staff couldn't find a way to secure her a ticket to the movie in her own San Francisco district. I'd think after the first time or two of going to the box office and finding it sold out, someone on Pelosi's staff might have thought to buy an advance ticket for her. Or maybe ask the theater manager to hold a seat for the congresswoman, or perhaps buy a ticket online?

Second, I think this is one time when Barney Frank can break his rule about not discussing movies. C'mon Barney. You weigh in on practically every other gay social and political matter. Tell the reporter if you've seen this flick and what you thought of it.

And last but not least, openly gay GOP Rep. Jim Kolbe of Arizona has more of a link to the film and its setting than Frank, from urban Massachusetts, so, yes, I think he should also have a comment on "Brokeback" and if he's seen it. I wonder if The Hill tried to reach Kolbe or if his office had nothing to say.

Now, on to the Oscars for our gay cowboys!

-- UPDATE --

A friend in DC just sent me the full article from Roll Call. Here are some selections from the story:

> “This has nothing whatsoever to do with ‘Brokeback Mountain,’” Jude McCartin, spokeswoman for Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), told HOH, adding, “as it was first introduced last year long before this movie was on anyone’s radar.” (Or gaydar, as the case may be.) [...]

> The chief sponsor of the resolution, Sen. Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.), said in a radio interview Wednesday that “cowboys are highlighted in movies and have been for some time, but cowboys and cowgirls helped establish the American West.” No word on whether he saw the movie either. Thomas’s spokesman, Cameron Hardy, said Thomas sponsored the resolution last year “before the movie and again this year.” [...]

> And no, Snepp said, the Senator has not seen the gay cowboy flick. “The only Oscar nominated movie Sen. Allen has seen this year is ‘Walk the Line,’ which he greatly enjoyed while annoying his family by singing along to all of Johnny Cash’s great songs.”

> As for co-sponsor Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), well, he is always a co-sponsor, his spokesman said. “July 20 is his birthday,” spokesman Dan Whiting said. “Of course, that is just coincidence, I am sure.” [...]

> A spokeswoman for Sen. Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Elly Pickett, gave a very serious and thorough explanation of how Wyoming has played a critical role in establishing a national day to observe cowboys. She added, “Sen. Enzi has not seen the movie.” [...]

> Aides to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), another co-sponsor, also didn’t want to go there. The normally chatty Reid spokeswoman Rebecca Kirszner said only, “The American cowboy is part of Nevada’s history.”

> So there you have it: On a bipartisan basis, none of these cowboys in the Senate will broach the “Brokeback Mountain” issue. Maybe Willie Nelson made them nervous by releasing on iTunes on Tuesday the gay cowboy song “Cowboys are Frequently, Secretly (Fond of Each Other),” which was originally written in the 1980s.

Gosh, pardner. All this yakking in DC gives me a hankerin' to catch the flick agin!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

C.C. Caller-Times: Video Simulation of Cheney's Hunting Accident

The staff at the Corpus Christi Caller-Times yesterday provided a great public service to people like me who are woefully unfamiliar with firearms and hunting practices.

> People with no hunting experience might have a tough time visualizing the damage Harry Whittington sustained when he was sprayed with birdshot Saturday afternoon.

In order to give us a better understanding of what may have happened on Saturday when Veep Dick Cheney accidentally shot lawyer Harry Whittington, the Caller-Times made a video simulation and posted it on their web site.

For a non-hunter who's never been around guns or handled one, I found the video explanation incredibly helpful. Kudos to the Caller-Times for this beneficial act of explanatory journalism.

View the video here.
(Registration required.)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Silence From Mehlman, RNC on Cheney's Hunting Accident

It's been two days since the world learned of Veep Cheney's hunting accident in Texas and the circumstances surrounding the shooting of Harry Whittington.

With so many reporters and editorial writers, political pundits, average citizens and late night TV hosts opining on the incident, two important political components have been uncharacteristically silent on the affair-- the Republican National Committee and its leader, the deeply closeted Ken Mehlman.

I find it odd Mehlman and the RNC haven't said anything yet on their web site about the accident, how the Veep and the White House handled (withholding) information about the shooting, and the ensuing demands for real answers about it all.

Have Mehlman and the GOP lost their political playbook? Seems to me at this point they should be blaming the fiasco on gays in San Francisco who want to marry their partners, Bill Clinton's cigar-loving ways, Barbra Streisand's blogging, filmmaker Michael Moore's obesity, former Texas Gov. Ann Richards' bouffant hairdo or some other persons totally unconnected to the shooting on Saturday.

My queer mind wonders why Mehlman and the RNC aren't posting diversionary spin on their web site. Maybe he and his party need more time to develop bogus talking points?

I'm sure once they refine a talking point or two, GOP operatives will take to the airwaves and the web to spin the whole episode as part of our effort to never forget September 11 and why we must keep our brave troops in Iraq.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

GCN: 1-Year On; NYC Super HIV Case. How's the Patient?

Duncan Osborne
Gay City News
New York, NY

Hey Duncan:

Just read your update on the alleged super HIV case from last year.

Has it really been a full twelve months since Dr. David Ho, the NYC health department and the NY Times all sounded alarms about the one guy in NYC who was resistant to all known AIDS drugs? As you well know, the HIV-related hysteria in this matter began on Feb. 11 last year, and lots of homo-sex panic buttons were pushed as well.

Glad you've addressed some very necessary questions about the matter, but you didn't mention anything about the patient. The last I read he was taking mega-cocktail and doing well enough on some drugs.

Any idea how he's doing?

By the way, with the one year anniversary of the super HIV scare approaching, I am doubtful any mainstream or gay press will revisit the issue, so I laud your story as the _only_ article to delve into the case at this juncture.


Reply from Duncan:

Thank you, Michael. As you know, HIPPA prevents the man's doctor and some others involved in the case from discussing the patient so I know next to nothing about the man. Last I heard he was responding to medication with an increased T cell count and dramatically reduced viral load. In fact, he responded very rapidly to treatment. New York magazine reported last year that he had returned to work. The short answer is I don't know how he is doing currently.

Duncan Osborne
DoD Homeland Chief: Assessing Katrina, Still Blaming the Media

Don't you just love it when our Department of Defense examines its role in the Hurricane Katrina disaster and aftermath, and surprisingly finds the U.S. military did an excellent job?

A "news" story from the American Forces Press Service, a tax payer funded media service basically controlled by the Pentagon where seldom is heard a negative word about the military, detailed the supposedly wonderful effort to aid victims of Katrina. I'm sure the thousands of displaced New Orleans residents who lost their loved ones and homes will be happy to know the military is putting itself on the back for the assistance provided, while they waded in the infected waters, endured lack of food and water in the Superdome, and waited for rescue.

Let's go to the stunning piece of propaganda, er, news account that appeared on the Pentagon's site on Feb. 6:

> The U.S. military performed admirably as it responded to Hurricane Katrina during the largest, fastest civil support mission in U.S. history - but it needs to do better in the future, according to the Pentagon's chief of homeland security.

> Paul McHale, assistant secretary of defense for homeland security, praised the military response to the catastrophic hurricane in an address to civilian leaders who recently visited the Pentagon.

Admirably? I know a few folks who disagree with that glowing assessment.

> Within 10 to 12 days after Hurricane Katrina made landfall along the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29, the military had deployed 72,000 forces, including 50,000 National Guard members, to the region, McHale told the group. In addition, 23 Navy ships and almost 300 helicopters were on the scene, conducting search-and-rescue missions and delivering critically needed humanitarian aid and other support.

More than a week, not hours, after Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, huh? I wouldn't label that either admirable or a speedy or rapid deployment of military help for victims of the storm. If it's not too much trouble, maybe one day Paul McHale and his bosses will provide us with answers as to why their help took days to reach the affected disaster area.

> Among the supplies they delivered were more than 30 million packaged meals - "down to the limit of our war reserve and then a little beyond," McHale said.

Too bad the meals-ready-to-eat weren't in the mouths and bellies of the people going hungry in the Superdome in the critical first hours of the aftermath.

> But as well as the military performed during Hurricane Katrina, it's critical that it improve on that performance, he told the group. "We take great pride in the military response to Hurricane Katrina, (and) we believe the mission was a success," he said. "But we must do better."

No need to page George Orwell. Paul McHale and the Pentagon are quite well-versed in perverted the English language to absolve themselves of any real responsibility for their extremely inadequate response to Katrina. If their response was a "success," how the hell do they define "failure"?

> Despite Katrina's devastation, it's actually on the low end of the type of disasters the Defense Department could be called on to support, McHale said. "We now need to be prepared for the possibility of a catastrophic event that would exceed the loss associated with Katrina," he said.

Gosh, if Katrina was the "low end" of homeland disasters the DoD has to deal with, I'd hate to have to depend on the military for a catastrophe on the "high end."

> McHale outlined several areas where improvements are needed -- damage assessment, search and rescue, and communications among them.

Wait a minute. Didn't you just say the mission was a success? Well, then why do you need to improve such basic components of the mission?

> DoD needs a faster and more accurate way to assess damage, McHale said. He noted that media reports immediately after Hurricane Katrina made landfall were overly optimistic, with the true nature of the disaster not evident for another 24 to 48 hours.

This is priceless! Who's at fault for the military's late and lame response to the Katrina disaster? The big, bad mainstream media, of course, that's who!

I can't express strongly enough in words how terrified I am that a top person in charge of homeland safety in the event of a disaster is placing blame for inadequate assessments of the devastation and damage on the damn media.

And what is this crock of b.s. they're peddling about "overly optimistic" media reports immediately after Katrina hit land? Maybe Paul McHale and the Pentagon didn't read these papers on Aug. 30 or these Aug. 31 publications.

> "We cannot rely exclusively or even primarily on media reports, because the media can only cover a part of the picture," he said. "We need a more comprehensive vision of how much damage has been done and what kind of response is appropriate."

So all of the billions and billions of tax payer funds DoD receives annually can't give homeland safety personnel a good picture of a natural disaster on American soil, and our military leaders are only now realizing they can't depend on the media to help them deal with a crisis like Katrina.

> To ensure a faster, more accurate assessment in the future, the military needs a reconnaissance capability that's able to quickly deliver aerial imagery of the site, he said.

What the hell does this mean? The American military does not yet possess the capability for aerial shots of a disaster on U.S. territory? Someone in Congress should ask what happened to the billions of dollars spent by DoD for aerial surveillance of American soil.

> In addition, responders need better coordination for their search-and-rescue missions, he said. In the rush to rescue victims stranded in the stricken region, the National Guard, active-duty military and civilian agencies all provided helicopter response, but sometimes they were embarking on the same missions without realizing it, he said.

Okay, I'm impressed with this smidgen of acceptance of some responsibility for confusion during rescue operations. But it's way too little and too late.

> Hurricane Katrina also drove home the need for better communications among responders, McHale said. During the hurricane response, DoD responders realized their radios weren't interoperable with civilian first responders' radios and communications devices, he said. In some cases, active-duty and National Guard responders couldn't communicate with each other.

Hmmm, more than four years after September 11 when communications for responders in New York City were coordinated among the various law enforcement and first-aid forces, DoD admits we still need better communications? Exactly why communications were and are so deficient should be a top priority for the Bush administration, once the president and his advisors are done with shredding more of the U.S. Constitution in their war on terror.

> "I don't mean to exaggerate that deficiency. We were able to communicate," McHale told the group. "But we can do much better if we can design in advance of a crisis a fully interoperable system of communications - not just for voice transmission, but data transmission as well."

If? If the world's superpower can't design better communication capability, who can?

> About 7,000 National Guard members who deployed to New Orleans to help restore civil order provided desperately needed support to the city's devastated police force, McHale said. But it quickly became evident that nonlethal weapons could have been a big asset, he said.

You might not need to broach the subject of deadly weapons helping restore order, if the Bush administration and DoD had properly prepared for Katrina with essential items like free evacuation buses, shelters to stay in once out of Katrina's deadly path, food, bottled water and medical aid. Those things would have greatly helped prevent the breakdown of civil order.

> "In the United States, we should deploy security forces with the full range of capability - capabilities that include deadly force if that's required, but also capabilities that are less than deadly force," he said.

> This is particularly true when disorder arises from public panic rather than criminal intentions, he said. "So we are now looking at a range of capabilities that would allow us to tailor the package of deployable forces to meet the requirement of security without using excessive force in doing so," he said.

Sounds to me like the Pentagon wants permission to shoot the poor, minorities and anyone desperate for help from our government when the next disaster strikes.

> Since Hurricane Katrina, there's been a reassessment of DoD's role in responding to catastrophic events, McHale told the group. Under current law, the Department of Homeland Security takes the federal lead during major disasters of this type. But McHale said the president needs the flexibility to select whatever agency is best prepared to respond to a particular catastrophic event.

Maybe we also need a president who will cut short his endless summer vacation to deal with the next disaster first, then he can think about which agency is best suited for the job.

> Depending on the nature of a catastrophe or attack, that could be the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Justice or Department of Defense, he said.

> The lessons of Hurricane Katrina will help the Defense Department ensure it's better prepared to handle a future crisis, McHale told the group

Ha! About the only lessons DoD has learned is better p.r. spin and a new request to use lethal weapons on U.S. citizens during a disaster.

> "We are very proud of what those 72,000 men and women in uniform did and how rapidly they did it in order to relieve suffering and provide humanitarian assistance (during) what was arguably the most challenging natural disaster in U.S. history," he said. "But with pride earned through their effort, we recognize that the next time around, we have to do better."

Hurricane season is just around the corner and people living in areas prone to hurricanes should be aware the federal government and DoD may not be ready for the coming disasters.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Sen. Boxer's Media Web Site: No Gay, Minority Links

California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer's official web site has an extremely comprehensive page for news media outlets in the state. At least fifty daily, weekly and monthly publications, along with radio and TV stations, are all linked to from Boxer's site.

But this liberal politician fails to link to a single gay newspaper and there are dozens of them across the state.

Also missing from her list are the many Latino Spanish-language, Asian-American and African-American newspapers, TV and radio outlets.

If Boxer can take time out from her busy schedule of trying to stifle anti-war, pro-peace activist Cindy Sheehan and her possible challenge to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Boxer might also find the time to instruct her web site administrator to provide links on her site to media for gays and people of color.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Simply the Best Essay I've Read on "Brokeback"

An astute and very necessary reclaiming of "Brokeback Mountain" as the gay story that it is. Appearing where else? In The New York Review of Books.
Speaking. Truth. To. Power.

Just watch it.

"We know now there were no weapons of mass destruction over there [standing ovation]... but Coretta kew and we know that there are weapons of misdirection right down here. Millions without health insurance. Poverty aounds. For war billions more but no more for the poor."

Reverend Dr. Joseph Lowery, speaking at the Coretta Scott King funeral, with four presidents right behind him.
NYT's Lame Excuses for Not Running Danish Cartoons

Because Barney Calame, the public editor for the New York Times, posts so infrequently to his blog, I don't check it on a regular basis, but independent gay columnist Paul Varnell of Chicago alerted me this morning that Calame in the past few days addressed the matter of the controversial Danish cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammed and why they've not appeared in the Times.

From Calame's Feb. 4 blog posting:

> “We've had long and vigorous debate in the newsroom and concluded that publishing the cartoons is not essential to telling the story,” Bill Keller, the executive editor of The Times, wrote to me in an e-mail Friday evening. I had asked him how The Times was dealing with the cartoon issue.

> “On the one hand, we have abundant evidence that a significant number of people -- some of them our readers -- consider these cartoons deeply offensive and inflammatory,” Mr. Keller wrote. “Indeed, to publish them after seeing the outrage and violence across the Islamic world could be perceived as a particularly deliberate insult,” he said.

Huh? Sounds a bit to me like Keller is saying mobs of Muslim fanatics play a significant role in determining what gets into the Gray Lady these days.

> “On the other hand,” he continued, “we feel we can quite adequately convey the nature of the cartoons by describing them.” I quite agree. I doubt that the descriptions of the cartoons in Times articles over the past four days have left many readers with any major questions about why the drawings could offend Muslims or why some people might find humor in them.

Well, Barney, this reader and NY Times shareholder strongly disagrees with you and thinks the paper's audience should see what the Danish illustrations look like in the paper whose motto is supposed to be "All The News That's Fit to Print."

By not publishing the cartoons, the Times is willfully not giving readers all the news about this global story.

> “Like any decision to withhold elements of a story, this was neither easy nor entirely satisfying,” Mr. Keller wrote, “but it feels like the right thing to do.” It’s a tough call. I’m not going to quarrel with it.

How nice of Keller to honestly state the paper is withholding elements of an important story. Makes me wonder what else Keller and crew may withhold from readers because some may find parts of a story insulting or offensive.

> Recalling the newsroom discussions, Mr. Keller said some editors proposed publishing “a photograph that shows the front page of one of the European papers on which the cartoon was prominently displayed.” Others, he said, “argued that publishing it in context -- as information readers would find useful in forming their own opinions about the indignant reaction from many Muslims -- was the right thing to do journalistically.”

Too bad Keller, Calame and others at the Times lack the moral and journalistic courage of Amanda Bennett, editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, and her publication which ran one of the cartoons on Saturday.

Reading the lame excuses from Keller, and Calame's lazy support of Keller's weak arguments, I am more impressed today with the strong spine of Amanda Bennett and her news room in Philadelphia. Keep up the great journalism, Ms. Bennett!

And three cheers to Clinton Fein of Annoy.com for posting the Danish cartoons on his web site.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Glenn Reynolds, MSNBC: Wear the Danish Flag

From Glenn Reynolds' latest column for MSNBC.com:

The protests by Muslim extremists seem to be backfiring. Some people are suggesting wearing the Danish flag in support of free speech. Others are just exasperated.

Thanks for the link, Glenn, and for pushing the wearing of the Danish flag.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

In Solidarity With the Danes, Wear the Danish Flag

With Danish people and their democratic free speech principles under violent attack from fanatical Muslims around the world, I choose to stand with the Danes.

As a gay man in San Francisco, all this coming week, I will proudly display the Danish flag on my front door and on my jacket lapel to express symbolic solidarity with the Danes, who are not cowering in the face of death threats.

If you too feel the need to stand up to Muslim intolerance of a free press, then consider wearing a Danish flag button on your chest this week, hanging the flag in your window for your neighbors to see, putting a sticker of the flag on your bicycle or automobile, or placing the Danish flag on your blog or web site.

Even though it is a myth from World War II that King Christian X and the Danish population wore the Nazi's yellow star to protect their Jewish neighbors and resist Nazi policies, there is nevertheless an important lesson to be learned today from Denmark's behavior during the German occupation, and that is, standing up for freedom and minorities in the face of totalitarianism is the righteous thing to do.

From the King on down to average citizens, Danes actively opposed the Nazis and risked much to save Jews from the death camps. This is why an overwhelmingly number of Danish Jews escaped annihilation at the hands of barbaric Nazis.

While the Danes did not wear the yellow star in the 1940s, they still set a powerful example of how to resist intolerance and bigotry, and I intend to honor Danish resistance by proudly wearing and displaying that democratic country's flag.

[Greetings newcomers, coming here thanks to Glenn! If you're so inclined to support my efforts, give the PayPal kitty somethin' to nibble on. Thanks for stopping by, come back, and WEAR THE DANISH FLAG!]

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Philly Inky Prints Danish Cartoon! Buy Danish Products!

The Philadelphia Inquirer is the first major U.S. daily newspaper to run one of the controversial cartoons causing much anguish around the world. Let's applaud the paper for bravely going where few other papers have dared venture, and hope the Philly Inky is only one of many U.S. publications showing readers the cartoons in print.

Related to this, my Danish girlfriend Hanne in Washington, DC, called this afternoon to chat about Muslims outraged at Danish cartoons mocking Prophet Mohammed. She said it would help Denmark greatly if people would buy products from her country, to counter the expanding and successful Muslim boycott of Danish goods. Hanne, who especially loves Danish butter, recommended buying that and other such food items easily found on American grocery story shelves, which would also show tangible support for a free press and other democratic ideals.

Now Hanne's suggestion is one I heartily endorse and it turns out that historian Judith Apter Klinghoffer and her friends have compiled a list of Danish products you should could consider buying:

> Danish Havarti cheese

> Carlsberg and Tuborg Beers.

> Arla owns White Clover Dairy, a Wisconsin company so buy that brand. It comes under White Clover and Holland Farm.

> Danish Crown hams ( DAK (sold at Sam clubs)... baby back ribs, because they come from Denmark.

> You can shop online at The Danish Foodshop and Danish Deli Foods.

> You can also buy gorgious Danish porcelain and LEGO for the kids.

Good list. Thanks for the suggestions, Hanne and Judith.
Must Russert Condemn Rev. Phelps's Protest of Coretta King's Funeral?

Tim Russert found himself in a large vat of boiling hot water heated by liberal bloggers and pundits because of his boorish questioning of Sen. Barack Obama two weeks back on "Meet the Press."

Some simple facts, just in case you're not aware of them, need to be stated before we proceed. Russert is a straight white man and Obama is also straight and male, but he's multiracial.

On Jan. 22's "Meet the Press" Russert opened his questioning of the Democratic Senator from Illinois by asking about recent withering comments by entertainer and political activist Harry Belafonte attacking President Bush. What puzzled many was why Russert posed the questions he did to Obama when there was no obvious link between the singer and the senator, other than both are men of color, which probably meant to Russert that it was fair to question Obama about Belafonte's comments.

Let's go to the transcript:

> MR. RUSSERT: I want to talk a little bit about the language people are using in the politics now of 2006, and I refer you to some comments that Harry Belafonte made yesterday. He said that Homeland Security had become the new Gestapo. What do you think of that?

> SEN. OBAMA: You know, I never use Nazi analogies, because I think that those were unique, and I think, you know, we have to be careful in using historical analogies like this. I think people are rightly concerned that we strike the right balance between our concerns for civil liberties and the uniform concern that all of us have about protecting ourselves from terrorism.

> MR. RUSSERT: Mr. Belafonte went to Venezuela, as you well know, some time ago and met with Hugo Chavez, leader of that country, and said some things that obviously were noted in this country and around the world. Let’s listen, and come back and talk about it.

> (Videotape, January 8, 2006) Mr. HARRY BELAFONTE: And no matter what the greatest tyrant in the world, the greatest terrorist in the world, George W. Bush, says, we’re here to tell you not hundreds, not thousands, but millions of the American people, millions, support your revolution, support your ideas, and we are expressing our solidarity with you. (End videotape)

> MR. RUSSERT: Is it appropriate to call the President of the United States "the greatest terrorist in the world"?

> SEN. OBAMA: I don’t think it’s appropriate. That’s not language that I would use. But keep in mind that, you know, one of the great things about the United States is all of our citizens have the right to, you know, speak our mind about what’s going on politically.

Time for some political fun and games. I want to turn the tables on Russert and pose the following questions to him, since like the vile Rev. Fred Phelps, he's also a straight white man, which is reason enough for Russert to opine on Phelps' plan to protest at Coretta Scott King's memorial service on Tuesday in Atlanta, because she endorsed fair treatment of America's gay and lesbian citizens.

If I were to interview Russert, here are questions I'd want him to answer.

Q: I want to talk a little bit about the language people are using in the politics now of 2006, and I refer you to some comments that Rev. Phelps made yesterday in a flyer posted on his web site. He said revered civil rights advocate Mrs. King was a "fag-enabler." What do you think of that?

Q: Rev. Phelps has traveled to many parts of the country to protest at the funerals of murdered gays, U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and West Virginia miners, and said some things that obviously were noted in this country and around the world. Let’s read, and come back and talk about it.

(Flyer from Phelps, Feb. 3) "God Hates Fags! Fag-Enablers! Ergo, God hates Coretta Scott King and is now tormenting her with fire and brimstone where the worm never dies and the fire is never quenched, and the smoke of her torment ascendeth up for ever and ever."

Q: Your reply, Mr. Russert? Is it appropriate to call the First Lady of the Civil Rights Movement a "fag-enabler"?

For argument's sake, I'll accept that Russert had every right and good cause to ask Obama about Belafonte's political statements, and, that the senator is his brother's keeper. At the same time, it must also be alright to lump Russert and Phelps together in the brotherhood of straight white men, and to ask the newsman to condemn the reverend's hateful comments and actions.

Friday, February 03, 2006

SoVo: CDC New Gay Black Chief of HIV Prevention

Almost a month ago I blogged about the CDC appointing a gay black man to run our national HIV/STD/TB prevention programs and no one, either in the liberal AIDS establishment community or from conservative groups seemed to care, much less get excited or concerned enough to weigh in on the development. No stories on Fenton hit the papers in the U.S., but the Jamaica Observer profiled him and his family last month, failing to reference his gayness.

Things have changed. Atlanta's Southern Voice this week ran a piece on Fenton, the agenda he wants to execute for the CDC, and his sexual orientation. Here are the opening paragraphs, neatly summarizing the story up to now:

> As a gay black man, Dr. Kevin Fenton acknowledges his life experiences will influence how he manages his new post as director of the National Center for HIV, STD & TB Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

> But it’s his career as a public health official that will play the most important role as he works to curb the rising rates of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases in the U.S. and globally, Fenton stressed.

> "Yes, my experiences will have influence. But I have many identities. It is my commitment to public health and my commitment to serve the American people and the global community that is most important," Fenton said in an interview with Southern Voice Jan. 31.

> Fenton took over his new post at the Atlanta-based CDC on Jan. 23. He served as the chief of the CDC’s National Syphilis Elimination Effort during 2005 before being appointed to his new job in November. He has worked in research, epidemiology and the prevention of HIV and other STDs since 1995 and was previously the director of the HIV & STI Department at the United Kingdom’s Health Protection Agency.

> But though Fenton is gay, the CDC is not touting him as a gay official in its public press materials. Gay activist Michael Petrelis said he finds that troubling.

> "Why should we care? Because it is significant to have a black health official talking to other black people. If he isn’t known as a gay black man, the CDC loses an opportunity to be effective. Is the CDC closeting him because they fear conservative backlash from the Bush administration?" Petrelis said.

> Jessica Frickey, a CDC spokesperson, said it is agency policy to not release personal information to the public.

Um, yes, Dr. Fenton, we know you have many identities, one of which is being gay but that part of you was conveniently left out of the Jamaica Observer article, which doesn't appear to bother you in the least. To be honest my queer brother, I'd like for you to make good use of EVERY part of your identities, ethnic heritage, social skills and all your medical education in controlling diseases.

At the same time, I don't want to let the CDC off the hook. CDC spokesperson Jessica Frickey told Southern Voice the health agency does "not release personal information to the public."

Oh, really? Not so. Looking at these shocking details from the CDC chief's private life, as noted in her official agency bio:

> Dr. Gerberding resides in Atlanta with her husband, David, who is a software engineer. Dr. Gerberding relaxes by scuba diving, reading on the beach, gardening, and doting on her three cats.

So it's quite alright for the federal health authorities to promote Gerberding's heterosexual relationship, tell us about her husband's career and that she fancies felines.

If it's somehow pertinent to highlight a few humanizing facts from Gerberding's personal life, then an equal attitude at CDC should apply to learning more about the human side of Fenton.
Rev. Phelps to Protest at "Fag-enabler" Coretta King Funeral

As we watch Muslim fanatics around the world protest freedom of the press in the name of religion, let's not overlook the hatred of America's homegrown nutty religious bigots, specifically Rev. Fred Phelps and his awful family from Kansas.

The Phelps web site has posted a vile announcement to protest civil rights icon Mrs. Coretta Scott King's funeral on Tuesday in Atlanta.

Why? Well, Phelps and company are upset Mrs. King favored equal rights for gays and lesbians, therefore Phelps labels her a "fag-enabler" worthy of protest at her funeral. It's pointless to ask if the reverend has no shame because we know he doesn't and never has.

For an undiluted dose of hate, read this terrible flyer from Phelps and his God Hates Fags site.

(Hat tip: Keith Boykin.)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Editor & Publisher: Challenges for the Blade, Gay Papers

Editor & Publisher has just posted an excellent column about the troubles at the Washington Blade, its parent company Window Media and the myriad challenges facing many gay newspapers. If you're at all concerned with the state of the gay press, check out this article.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

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NYT Omits Cartoons Upsetting Muslims; See 'em Here

The controversy over unflattering cartoon depictions of Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper last September gained renewed attention in the last week, with boycotts launched of Danish products by Muslims offended by the cartoons who've also demanded apologies from newspaper editors and politicians because the images violate Muslim prohibitions on creating any likeness of the prophet.

America's leading newspaper, the New York Times, has twice reported this week on the protests in the Muslim world and calls in Europe for full support of free expression and freedom of the press to publish news and editorial cartoons that offend.

But neither the Jan. 31 story, nor the Feb. 1 article carry an accompanying illustration or photo showing the actual cartoons.

Leading newspapers in Europe, including Germany's Die Welt, have found space in their rags for the original cartoons and newer ones dealing with the controversy, also upseting fanatical Muslims, but I'm not aware of any U.S. paper doing likewise, so the New York Times is not alone in keeping the cartoons out of it pages.

It's a sad commentarty on the state of the Gray Lady and her American siblings that the cartoons roiling Muslims, causing tremendous concern for reporters and media watchdogs and advocates everywhere who want freedom _from_ religion have apparently not yet appeared in print in a one U.S. publication.

If Judy Miller didn't go to jail for 87-days to defend the Times' and the media's right to inform the public, like showing us the Danish cartoons, what did she go to jail for?

Hey, Arthur Sulzberger, why has the Times so far not printed these cartoons? If you want to see how they look in Die Welt, go here, and click here for France-Soir's spread. And this link takes you to all 19 of the cartoons.
Blade Reacts to "Bloodbath" Story

Date: Wed, 01 Feb 2006 14:17:38 -0500
From: Chris Crain

The article by Bob Roehr suggesting there was a "bloodbath" at Window
Media was written without any calls for comment to Window Media, William
Waybourn or any of the other individuals alleged to have been terminated.
I would caution any publication weighing whether to publish Roehr's
article to independently verify his assertions.

The article's only named source is a blog written by one of our part-time
web uploaders that included a post speculating about the events of his
workday, along with his plan to eat chicken piccata that evening. That
blog post was not based on access to the actual facts surrounding
William's departure. The blog's author has since apologized to William and
the company for the misunderstandings the posting has caused. Window Media
has released a joint statement with William that explains his departure.

I was very disappointed when Matthew Hennie, the long-time editor of
Southern Voice and, before that, the Houston Voice, let me know last month
that he was leaving us for a position outside journalism. I have enjoyed
our working relationship of almost eight years and have the utmost respect
for him. The decision to leave was entirely Matt's and was not at all
related to William's departure or any other changes at Window Media. I
wish him all success.

Laura Douglas-Brown, another long-term SoVo staffer and currently the
paper's News Editor, will be the new Editor. There have been no reductions
in the editorial staff of any Window Media publication, and there are no
plans for such a reduction. We remain committed to serving our readers
with accurate and balanced journalism.



Chris Crain
Exec. V.P. of Editorial
Window Media LLC
1408 U St., NW, 2nd Floor
Washington, DC 20009
202-797-7000 ext. 250