Friday, July 31, 2009
From Love Exiles Foundation
Amsterdam, the Netherlands – Four hundred years after Henry Hudson first set sail from Amsterdam to Manhattan, more and more gay and lesbian Americans are making the journey in reverse – and not just for an enjoyable vacation.
On Saturday, August 1, five American citizens will marry their Dutch partners in a ceremony presided by Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen. While same-sex weddings are nothing unusual in the Netherlands, these ones will take place on a boat in the middle of Amsterdam's annual Gay Pride canal parade.
The unusual wedding venue is meant to highlight painful inequalities in U.S. marriage and immigration law. While these couples are free to marry and live in the Netherlands, they do not enjoy the same freedom in the United States.
Even in states that allow same-sex couples to marry, like Iowa and Connecticut, these couples are not recognized by the U.S. federal government, which controls all immigration matters. As a result, thousands of US citizens are forced into exile in countries like the Netherlands, where their relationships with their foreign partners are recognized and where they enjoy equal rights in family law.
Couples married overseas may even have trouble going to the U.S. for a short visit. Their marriage can be seen by U.S. immigration authorities as a sign that they intend to remain in the U.S. together. Same-sex spouses have been turned away at the border and refused entry for this very reason.
"The debate over immigration reform is about to get underway in the U.S. Congress," said Martha McDevitt-Pugh, a U.S. citizen who lives by necessity in Amsterdam with her Dutch-Australian wife. "The question is: will our families be included in this legislation and will we finally be able to return home?"
The City of Amsterdam has invited McDevitt-Pugh to represent the love exile community on their wedding boat. "These marriages send a message to our leaders in Washington: it’s time to honor and respect all our families”, she said.
The Love Exiles Foundation is a Netherlands- based organization that advocates for same-sex couples who lack the right to live in one or both or their home countries due to discriminatory immigration law. Love Exiles communities in the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain, Canada, and Australia provide support to US citizens who are forced into exile to be with their foreign partners.
Martha McDevitt-Pugh is the Founder and Chair of the Love Exiles Foundation.
Martha is available for interviews by calling 06 2150 4249 (in the Netherlands) or +31 6 2150 4249 (from outside the Netherlands) or emailing exiles@xs4all. nl
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Story from Charter97.org - News from Belarus
The US State Secretary Hillary Clinton has discussed the situation in Belarus with Slovenia’s Foreign Minister, chairman of the Committee of ministers the Council of Europe’s Samuel Zbogar.
It has been stated by Slovenian mass media in the reports about the visit of the Slovenian foreign minister to the US.
According to the STA agency, during the yesterday’s meeting of Samuel Zbogar with the US State Secretary Hillary Clinton, they mostly discussed problems of the Western Balkans and also touched on the Slovenia-Croatia border dispute that led to a stalemate in Croatia's EU accession talks. However, the sides also discussed other topics of international policy, including the Belarusian situation, Radio Svaboda informs.
As Mr Zbogar told to journalists, “the State Secretary agreed with the position of Ljubljana concerning the necessity to support the democratic processes in Belarus”.
In his latest public speeches Samuel Zbogar many times spoke in favour of returning the Special Guest status in the PACE to Belarus however after fulfillment of basic standards in the sphere of human rights by Minsk.....[Story continued here]
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Albanian Prime Minister Sali Berisha announced in a cabinet meeting on Wednesday that the government would push for a law that recognises homosexual marriages.
The prime minister said that the law had already been put to parliament and that MPs should treat it seriously because it provides a legal basis against discrimination, bringing the country into line with a framework already approved by the EU, which Albania aspires to join.
Although deeply secular, Albania is one of only two countries in Europe with a Muslim majority - the other is Bosnia - and it is unclear how the government’s decision will be accepted by the public.
While the Albanian parliament decriminalised homosexual relationships in 1995, more than a decade later, gays and lesbians are still heavily stigmatised, and a majority live clandestine lives, fearing that if their sexual orientation is discovered their safety will be endangered.
“The attitudes toward homosexuality have not changed much, and they have to protect themselves,” Genci Terpo a human rights lawyer based in Tirana told Balkan Insight in an earlier interview.
“It’s not that now, there is any real difference to what we have seen before. They continue to be subjected to discrimination in all walks of life, and that includes state institutions,” he said.
According to Terpo, who works for the Albanian Human Rights Group, AHRG, the homosexual community in Tirana is roughly 3,500-strong.
Human rights reports on Albania concede that ingrained attitudes among the public leave Albanian gays and lesbians on the fringes of society. AHRG reports that Albanian homosexuals face “intolerance, physical and psychological violence - often from the police - and discrimination in the workplace.”
Sunday, July 26, 2009
U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (L) and Soviet
Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko exchange toasts in
this March 27, 1974 file photo of the two men at a
luncheon hosted by Kissinger in Moscow. (UPI Photo)
Former U.S. Secretary of State remembers his eminent Soviet counterpart
By Henry Kissinger
Andrei Gromyko and I were sometimes adversaries and sometimes partners. I had enormous respect for his competence, for his dedication. And with the passage of time I developed great affection for him. He was a man who was always prepared, who always knew his subject. I found him totally reliable in his assertions. When he was asked by his government to change a previous position he did so with enormous pain but with extreme ability.
We worked together in a complex period. When the administration in which I served came to office, the crisis in Czechoslovakia - the movement of Soviet and Warsaw Pact troops into Czechoslovakia - was six months old. The Cuban missile crisis was still within vivid memory, and so we were in a succession of crises piling one on top of the other.
I’m sure, on the Soviet side there were similar examples of crises that, in the Soviet view, were generated by the United States. We were involved in the Vietnam War at that time and our country was divided on whether the administration was really dedicated to peace.
I had studied nuclear strategy and was confronted, as all of us were, by its dilemma: on the one hand we were building more and more destructive weapons; on the other, we could never imagine the circumstances in which we could use these weapons. So, the strategic efforts of the two sides were constantly out of sync with their political efforts. And we faced the problem in our country, which I’m sure the Soviet leaders faced in theirs, of demonstrating to our people that whatever crisis might occur, our government had made the maximum effort to avoid confrontation.
So, gradually, came the move toward what was called the policy of detente – partly for the reasons I mentioned and partly because some of the problems objectively required closer association.
In the 1960s Germany developed what was called the Ostpolitik - which was close association and direct negotiations with the Soviet Union. Some of us were concerned about this. At the same time, that policy could not be carried out without a new agreement on Berlin, which presupposed an agreement between the United States and its allies and Russia.
Andrei Gromyko was always prepared for negotiations. The Berlin agreement was an issue of enormous complexity. Andrei Gromyko and I usually met for up to an hour with just interpreters present before meetings of our full delegations. At these private meetings he must have had a certain advantage because he understood what I was saying, and he had time while it was translated to formulate his response. But the point of these private meetings was that we had a kind of an agreement that we would not surprise each other in the middle of the negotiations – we would not confront each other in front of our staffs with unexpected decisions, or the need to make such decisions. So when we ended the formal negotiations, we would not necessarily have agreed, but we knew where we were going. Even when we did not agree, we never worsened the situation.
I have discovered as time has passed that Gromyko had a tremendous sense of humor which was not obvious at first impression. He was absolutely superlative in formulating double meanings from which it took you five minutes to figure out what the joke was. We used to tease each other:. When we were in Moscow for the summit I said to Gromyko: “Our Xerox machine has broken down, Mr. Foreign Minister. If I hold my document up to the ceiling will you give me a copy?” And he said: “Unfortunately, the cameras were installed by the Tsars – they are very good for people, but they are not very good for documents”.
In 1972 during the U.S. presidential election he held the view, which was partly correct, that he looked like Nixon. And he suggested that if I proved more pliable in negotiations than I had been, he might be willing to wear a Nixon campaign hat that said “Nixon is the one” at a diplomatic reception at the UN....[Dr. Kissinger's reminiscences continue here]
Saturday, July 25, 2009
According to Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, your children should be the first target for mass swine flu vaccinations when school starts this fall.
This is a ridiculous assumption for many reasons, not to mention extremely high risk.
In Australia, where the winter season has begun, Federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon is reassuring parents the swine flu is no more dangerous than regular seasonal flu. "Most people, including children, will experience very mild symptoms and recover without any medical intervention," she said.
Sydney-based immunization specialist Robert Booy predicts swine flu might be fatal to about twice as many children in the coming year as regular influenza. Booy estimates 10-12 children could die from the H1N1 virus, compared with the five or six regular flu deaths seen among children in an average year in Australia.
“Cure the Disease, Kill the Patient”
Less than 100 children in the U.S. die each year from seasonal flu viruses. If we use Australia’s math, a very rough estimate would be another 100 children could potentially die of swine flu in the United States in the coming year.
If children are the first target group in the U.S. per Sebelius, that means we’re about to inject around 75 million children with a fast tracked vaccine containing novel adjuvants, including dangerous squalene, to prevent perhaps 100 deaths.
I’m not overlooking the tragedy of the loss of even one child to an illness like the H1N1 flu virus. But there can be no argument that unnecessary mass injection of millions of children with a vaccine containing an adjuvant known to cause a host of debilitating autoimmune diseases is a reckless, dangerous plan....[Read the rest of Dr. Mercola's article here]
For those of us living in the U.S. we cannot forget the 8 years of Bush monarchy. Besides being a moron, Bush was a devout born again Christian with beliefs and ideas that defied common sense. For example, he stopped funding research on embryonic stem cell which delayed meaningful results by years not only for U.S. citizens, but for most of the world.
Why did he stop the funding? Because according to born again nut jobs, harvesting stem cells from embryos which will probably end up in the toilet after a while was the same as killing babies. These same nut jobs don't have any problems bombing the crap out of Iraqi civilians. They justify these killings as collateral damage. In the words of the great John Stewart, "Right wingers will defend life with all they got until its born".
While it is Ironic to see Khomeini's grand son opposing theocracy, some credit needs to be given to him because he is on the right track. Only God knows why he is against theocracy; perhaps because he was excluded from the good old boys network. No matter what is the reason he deserves some credit because none of the other clerics have declared anything even close to this.
Khomeini's grandson and scores of Iranians must constantly be reminded that we must not stop at ending theocracy alone; NO! We must fight until Islam is pushed way back into the background of daily life. Islamic ideals and culture has set Iran back hundreds of years, if not more. Whoever wants to practice Islam could do so in the privacy of their homes. No more mosques because these places are cesspools of corruption of all kind. No more Friday prayers, no more "Besmellah e rahman ...... " and Allah and religous symbols in public places, at the top of government letterheads etc.
Islam in Iran should be treated like the Nazism in Germany. A new constitution should include this provision or else Islam will raise its ugly head just like it did in 1980.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
The guardians of Iran cannot tolerate curiosity. Is that why Canadian-Iranian journalist Maziar Bahari is in jail?
When we got the news about our friend, documentary filmmaker Maziar Bahari, there was the feeling it couldn't be real. Yet, it's happening again: A truth-teller becomes the pawn of a totalitarian regime. Only this time, it's more calculated, and the stakes are higher in Iran.
Mr. Bahari, a 42-year-old Canadian journalist working for Newsweek in Tehran, is a talented, curious and compassionate person. A dual citizen, he is being held exactly because he possesses those qualities. No one knows quite what the government has in store for him. He is a door opener on Iran, and has worked for a huge array of news agencies and independent NGOs over the years - the way documentary people do.He's made films about artists, veterans, HIV-positive people in Iran seeking love, people in Iraq seeking normal lives - this is not a polemical filmmaker....[Appeal continued here]
Saturday, July 18, 2009
By Andrew Cohen
I really am living in a new world. And it’s one I’ve been striving extremely hard to give birth to for over twenty years. I became a teacher of enlightenment at the ripe old age of thirty. Ever since then, it seemed obvious to me that unless the uncontainable positivity and inexpressible glory revealed when one experiences higher states of consciousness actually becomes manifest in and through one’s own life and actions, then spiritual experience doesn’t really mean anything in the end. But I soon found this was not as obvious to others as it was to me.
In those early days, I was teaching publicly every night. Each and every evening was a profound and powerful adventure of direct awakening to consciousness itself. One after another, people who came to hear me speak were having the most amazing experiences. As a matter of fact, the atmosphere around me became so spiritually charged that for a while there, I’m embarrassed to say, I actually thought becoming an enlightened human being might be as easy as showing up to see me. At least that’s how it seemed. It really, really did. Alas, like so many other teachers, I soon discovered that for most people, these dramatic experiences were in fact nothing more than mere glimpses of their own higher spiritual potentials. They were ecstatic and bliss-fueled rides to the other side of the rainbow, where all things become possible and one has no doubt that heaven has indeed come to earth. Those were the days . . .
Well, actually, they weren’t. They were extremely exciting and deeply thrilling times. But in the end, they were nothing more than a really good Fourth of July with the best fireworks display you’ve ever seen. And that was because I found, with very few exceptions, that most of those who were around me didn’t want to pay the price to make that other world they were glimpsing a permanent place of occupation. I spent the first five years as a teacher blowing people’s minds and showing them where God lived. I spent the next ten years trying in every possible way to get them to pay the price to make the radical leap from higher-state experiences to genuine spiritual attainment. Ken Wilber puts it beautifully when he says that the task is to transform “higher states into permanent traits.”
I couldn’t have tried harder or put more energy into this ultimately challenging aspiration: To get others to want this as much as I did. To get others to see what I see—not only the glorious potential of a new world, but the urgent necessity to make it manifest, here and now. To have not merely students who are followers or devoted disciples but students who are real life-partners in the grand endeavor of the evolution of our collective interior. More than once I wondered if I was mad or crazy, because it was pretty clear that nobody was seeing the miraculous possibility that I was seeing. I experienced many dark nights of the soul and struggled often with doubt. But then, slowly but surely, what had been up until then only an intuition and an awakened vision that was available to me, started to become available to others.
It took many years before it stabilized. First it would emerge like a tidal wave rushing in, a consciousness that seemed to collectively surge forth, consuming the awareness of all those associated with me. And then, just as quickly as it rushed in, like all waves do it would return back to its source and disappear. And, as hard to believe as it may sound, I would be one of the only people who seemed to remember what had happened. The reason is that Spirit, experienced as consciousness, is a higher and more subtle domain than our ordinary waking state. That’s why it’s so easy to temporarily awaken and see the face of God for oneself and then to not only lose access to that awareness but to even forget that it actually happened.
Over the last two years, to my deepest relief and inexpressible joy, I find I have been released from the torment of all those years. And the reason is that what I was seeing all that time has now emerged and become stable between enough of us to make all the difference in the universe. We’re not coming and going anymore. We’ve arrived. And the reason this means everything to me is that it means we can finally move forward.
To join Andrew's discussion about enlightenment, from his blog article "Other Side of the Rainbow," go to his blog--->Here
Stay healthy and happy, and enjoy as many years as you desire. Love, Madison
Nelson Mandela celebrates his 91st birthdayAFP
Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black president, celebrated his 91st birthday on Saturday with the launch of a special day for good deeds to be done in his name.
Surrounded by family and anti-apartheid stalwarts at his home in Johannesburg, the increasingly frail elder statesman was showered with messages of goodwill from world leaders to ordinary South Africans.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon led the international plaudits by describing Mandela as "a living embodiment of the highest values of the United Nations.
"His commitment to a democratic, multi-racial South Africa, his steadfast pursuit of justice, his willingness to reconcile with those who persecuted him most -- these are just some of the hallmarks of a remarkable man," Ban said.
The charitable foundation of the former South African leader called on people around the world to do good deeds on Saturday as it launched an official day in Mandela's honour.
"Mandela Day is an annual celebration of Nelson Mandela’s life and a global call to action for people to recognize their individual power to make an imprint and change the world around them," his foundation said.
The initiative received backing from senior UN figures.
"I warmly welcome the global campaign to recognize the birthday of Nelson Mandela, July 18, as an annual opportunity to celebrate this great man and the values and principles that he has come personify over the past seven decades," said president of the UN General Assembly Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann.
"I hope that Mandela Day will eventually be celebrated as a United Nations international day to serve as an inspiration, in particularly to our young people, and as invitation to join forces in the ever-more complex and urgent campaigns against poverty, racism, ignorance and violence." [AFP story continues here]
Friday, July 17, 2009
By Matt Comer
How thin of a line exists between violent word and thought, and violent action and deed? That’s a question answered plenty of times before, from Christian Crusades and Inquisitions of ages past to the modern day of radical Islamic terrorism. But, it is a question yet to be answered in Charlotte, N.C., where I believe there is a potentially dangerous and violent threat ramping up its efforts to counter the annual LGBT event, Pride Charlotte.
In times of great social change, there are often two opposing extremes: One path seeks to change society through violent and militant means. The other seeks change in the spirit of non-violence, a practice of living — in thought, word and deed — modeled most famously by Jesus Christ, Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.In Charlotte, it seems some religious leaders have chosen the former path, preaching and teaching with violent and militant theology and rhetoric, painting the social conflict over LGBT equality as a “battle” and a “war.”
This InterstateQ.com Special Report and commentary briefly examines Dr. Michael L. Brown, his group Coalition of Conscience and its God Has a Better Way rally, as well as preacher and spiritual leader Lou Engle and his involvement in the rally....[Matt's story continues here on his blog]
More related stories:
"The July riots in Urumqi are not just one more case of "every 30 years a small rebellion," as the Uighur-Han confrontation has been described. A new concatenation of claims is taking shape."
For years it's been a closely held secret: The People's Republic of China is an empire desperately trying to make the world think it's a state.
The riots by Uighurs in China's far northwest are not something new; the place really erupted back about the time of the American Civil War. Clashes between Han Chinese moving into the basin, range and uplands inhabited by the much different ethnic people of the Central Asian heartland began at least 2,000 years ago in the Han Dynasty. Some of the most powerful pieces in Chinese literature, like the Tang Dynasty Ballad of the Army Carts by the eighth-century poet Du Fu, tell of the bitter hardships of lonely soldiers sent to garrison military settlements far to the west of China proper.
The Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) conquered East Turkestan in the 18th century and began to consolidate control there in the late 1800s. But the Qing court, terminally beleaguered by Western encroachments along the China coast, was too feeble to impose central control on its far-flung takings.
The collapse of the Qing in 1912 intensified China's Search for a Political Form, as historian Jack Gray titled it. Mao Zedong's successful guerrilla wars and 1949 takeover imposed the form: a Communist internationalism under which the acquisitions of dynastic empires past, as well as ethnic and nationalistic movements, were swiftly and powerfully subsumed by a Marxist-Maoist ideology aimed at bringing world revolution. The new People's Republic of China declared the far northwest to be its "Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region."
Ever since the rise and conquests of the Arabs in the seventh century, waves of Muslim influence began to reach Chinese Central Asia. Arab traders, indigenous converts, mystical Sufi enthusiasts and, eventually, the radical Islamism of the Muslim Brotherhood arrived and even played a role in bringing about an end to the Qing Dynasty. Across the years, one constant theme was periodic rebellion by Muslim Uighurs and a growing sense in Beijing that the locals were intractable, treacherous and violent.
With China's rise to wealth and power in the post-Mao era, the PRC, now lacking the cover of world revolution, was forced to find some way to legitimate its possession of Xinjiang. World history's age of empire had ended by the mid-20th century. Communist China's evil twin, the USSR, had been the territorial successor to the Tsarist empire as Mao's PRC had been to the Qing.
At the Cold War's end, the Soviet Union came apart; its counterparts to China's Xinjiang became independent sovereign states and UN members. The PRC, determined to avoid a like fate, began a fervent campaign to convince the international community that all lands behind its borders, acquired in the imperial past, are inviolable internal possessions of its sovereign statehood.
Whatever the forum, notably in the United Nations and its associated international agencies, and whenever an issue touches on sovereign statehood, as when Kosovo was detached from Serbia in 2008, the PRC can be counted on as the most determined defender of the proposition that nonintervention in the internal affairs of a sovereign state within the Westphalian international system is the most sacrosanct principle of world affairs. China takes every care to present itself as the perfect, and most particular, international citizen.
It's no wonder why. China's vast borderlands today encompass a dizzying variety of languages, ethnicities, religions and nationalities: Manchus, Mongols, Tibetans and Uighurs are the most prominent; a lengthy list of other distinctive minority peoples are spread all along China's southern and southeastern marches.
And yet China's apparent ambitions beyond its borders seem to belie its insistence on tightly wound statehood. Some of the Qing possessions not still under PRC control are in its sights--Taiwan and the entirety of the South China Sea down to Brunei are included. As the U.S. Navy is starting to realize, a major PRC aim is to transform all the waters of maritime Asia--those between the continental mainland and the offshore states of Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and Malaysia--into a Chinese "lake." If nominally still in the category of international straits or high seas, these waters would become de facto a "no go" zone for the world's shipping. Chinese authorities would have to be prenotified and approve passage there--imperial-era influence regained.
The 1989 Tiananmen killings occurred when students confronted soldiers. The uprising was crushed but left a feeling that the Chinese Revolution, which might be dated back to 1911 or even 1839, was not over. Predictions were that when the next round came, it would not be students but urban workers who would have to be put down. The Uighur riots of July 2009 look something like that but with the added volatility of ethnicity and religion at work as well.
The epicenter of the Islamist war on world order (a more accurate term than the "war on terror") is now on the Afghan-Pakistan border, a fact that should be keeping China's leaders sleepless in Beijing as a restive Uighur population in "East Turkestan," as the locals call it, offers a new front for radical Islamist warfare. Perhaps this possibility was in President Hu Jintao's thoughts as he broke off from the G-8 summit in Italy to return to oversee the Xinjiang crisis.
The July riots in Urumqi are not just one more case of "every 30 years a small rebellion," as the Uighur-Han confrontation has been described. A new concatenation of claims is taking shape.
The Chinese will have to accelerate their program to overwhelm Xinjiang with Han-dominated population, culture, and economy--to complete their centuries-long imperial plan even as they insist on their privileges as a sovereign state.
The Uighurs and their external supporters in the World Uighur Congress will seek a solution in the autonomy promised by the original creation of the Xinjiang-Uyghur Autonomous Region, but they won't get it any more than Tibetans will be allowed true autonomy in their autonomous region, where another process of Chinese-ization has been long under way.
By frustrating legitimate Uighur aspirations, Beijing will provide al-Qaeda-inspired Islamist militants with the means to radicalize the Muslim population of China's northwest in a jihad. China's minorities policy recognizes the existence of ethnic nationalities like Uighurs and Tibetans but refuses to recognize religion. This plays into the hands of Muslim extremists. Beijing has already branded the Uighur uprising as "Islamic terrorism."
The idea of a 'clash of civilizations' may be superseded by a clash of 'spheres of influence,' an old concept in world affairs that has raised its head again. China is extending its de facto power westward to fit its de jure state boundaries. Russia is seeking a sphere of influence over its lost territories in Central Asia; Russia approves what the PRC is doing with the Uighurs because it wants approval for its own ambitions in the area. The U.S. has important interests there as a staging area for its 'Af-Pak' counter-insurgency efforts.
And the rising power Turkey has come on the scene to claim a sphere of influence across all the Turkic ethnic-linguistic Central Asian lands that range well inside China's borders. The Turkish prime minister has called the situation in Xinjiang a "genocide." There are layers of complex factors in play here involving power politics, economic exploitation, ethnic rivalries and religion. A new "Great Game" is under way, and the Chinese Revolution is still not over.
Charles Hill, a former U.S. diplomat, is a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, where he is co-director of the Hoover working group on Islamism and International Order.
16 Uighur Political Prisoners of Special Concern (uyghuramerican.org)
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Mostafa my brother, I love you!!! Pray for the world!
پیکر مصطفی غنیان دانشجوی مهندسی روز پنج شنبه تحت تدابیر شدید امنیتی در حرم امام رضا (ع) به خاک سپرده شد.این درحالی بود که از زمان کشته شدن مصطفی ، نیروهای امنیتی از تحویل جنازه او تا گرفتن تعهد از خانواده نامبرده جلوگیری کرده بودند.در این مراسم که شماری از مردم تحت عنوان وابستگان آن مرحوم شرکت داشتند هیچکدام از دانشجویان حضور نداشتند.شایان ذکر است این دانشجوی ترم آخر بعد از شنیدن صدای شلیک گلوله در حوالی میدان آزادی به بالای پشت بام محل سکونت خود رفته بود که با تیراندازی نیروهای بسیج به شهادت رسید.
روحش شاد و یادش گرامی باد
Even picking up local pastor Gary Hinchman's card, that I found sitting on a ledge yesterday at our downtown Huntington, WV Starbuck's cafe where I often spend my mornings, led me to Gary's website, which in turn led me to learn about this outstanding teacher, Dr. Stanley Toussaint, and then on to posting his video in my blog so that a new group of people all over the world can be enriched by it - is and example of our interconnectedness and the Law of Attraction at work.
Dr. Toussaint, is a Christian theologian. He's senior professor emeritus of Bible Exposition, and adjunct professor in Bible Exposition at Dallas Theological Seminary. In January he recorded a video called "Hypocrisy," that's well worth listening to. In it, Dr. Toussaint teaches from an enlightened biblical perspective, about what Jesus likely understood hypocrisy to mean, and why hypocrisy was considered the most loathsome of all sins. Toussaint's talk was both illuminating and uplifting to me. If only hateful Christian rightwingers could see and embrace biblical wisdom through the light of the Spirit the way Toussaint does, and wouldl live their lives as Christ exemplified, they wouldn't be busy destroying the Christian religion and the lives of so many other people. Toussaint speaks about the real meaning behind the Ten Commandments - a meaning that much of the Church has forgotten. It's fascinating. I believe the purpose of all religious laws that are received through divine inspiration, is to bring more love into the world - not more fear and hardship.
Not a Christian myself, and often filled with anger (and I'm working on that, because it's not healthy) over what the hate cults do in the name of Jesus, and have done to me as a gay man, Toussaint's video reminds me of the stark black against dazzling white contrast between the hate cults and the beloved Jesus - and that Christianity may still yet help heal the world of its pain. Now listen well to good Christian wisdom. Stan, we appreciate your faith!
Bi-national D.C. couple weighs options after residency jeopardizedStory by Will O'Bryan
One way to look at bi-national couples, couples of differing nationalities, is as a booming business. Enter "mail order brides" into nearly any search engine and it will return a bounty of hits from companies offering to facilitate introductions and dialogue -- for a fee. Some even offer helpful immigration advice, such as the Rose Brides site: "[I]f done correctly and with the right patience and necessary evidence, paperwork, and steps, filing for and having your Russian bride enter the United States is relatively simple."
Under different circumstances, such a Web site might even amuse Joe and Steve. But with the clock ticking, and the federal government poised to extinguish their nine-year relationship -- which it legally refuses to acknowledge to any degree, despite their D.C. domestic partnership and Connecticut marriage -- nobody's laughing. Instead, Joe and Steve are scrambling as the hourglass empties and Joe faces expulsion to his native Indonesia, and back into the closet of this majority-Muslim nation.
Steve and Joe
"I feel like a third-class citizen," says Steve, who met Joe in Pittsburgh nearly a decade ago, as Joe attended school, eventually earning a doctoral degree in structural engineering. "We don't have the same rights as heterosexual couples. We also don't have the same rights as gay couples who are born in this country."
Both Joe and Steve asked that their last names and other identifying information be omitted from this story, fearful of an overzealous immigration officer picking up on their case. After all, in one reading of the law, Joe has been in non-compliance of his visa since getting laid off from his job recently. To add to their troubles, the lay off comes just a few weeks after they signed the mortgage papers to their new Columbia Heights condo.
"If we were heterosexual, then we could just marry, no questions asked," Joe says with frustration. "Steve could sponsor me as family."
Some might cynically wonder why the two men, aware that U.S. immigration authorities make no allowances whatsoever for same-sex couples, despite marriage being among the simplest ways for heterosexuals -- and their children -- to gain U.S. residency, didn't stop this relationship before it started.
"I didn't choose to fall in love," Joe answers. In other words, the mystique that makes marriage so powerful an institution that it can bypass borders, is the same mystique to which Joe and Steve succumbed. [Steve and Joe's story continued here]
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
By David McNeill
Residents of Tokyo famously live in the planet's most seismically unpredictable capital, yet they could always boast that they enjoyed one of its most stable political systems – until now. Voters in the city's municipal elections have just triggered the first rumblings of what could be a national political earthquake, by handing a historic drubbing to the ruling Liberal Democratic Party of Japan (LDP).
The opposition Democrats ended 40 years of Liberal Democrat dominance in the metropolis, winning 16 more seats in local elections at the weekend. They also effectively torpedoed the career of the nation's Prime Minister, Taro Aso, who is now, politically, a dead man walking. The defeat prompted Mr Aso to call a general election in August, which on current form will see his party lose its almost unbroken, half-century grip on power over the world's second-largest economy. No one knows what impact that will have on Japan's relations with the rest of the world, but the guessing has begun.
Mr Aso is the latest in a string of dud leaders to test the patience of Japan's long-suffering voters. He has been in power just 10 months and is the fourth prime minister since 2005. Two of his predecessors, Shinzo Abe and Yasuo Fukuda, also quit amid controversy and dismal poll ratings.
In truth, Mr Aso's verbal carpet-bombs have left few untouched. The old, ethnic minorities, the overweight, the homeless, his political opponents and doctors have all been scorched beneath his undercarriage. His occasional attempts at a surgical strike, such as when he likened the Democrats to the Nazi Party last year, have invariably blown up in his face.
Mr Aso's big mouth only partly explains his party's fall from grace. Like his predecessors, he has been unable to tackle Japan's daunting structural problems. The country is snared in its worst economic crisis since the Second World War. At the end of 2008, it suffered the biggest quarterly contraction in 35 years, shrinking twice as fast as the eurozone and more than three times as fast as the US. An ageing population and a mountain of public debt – equivalent to 180 per cent of the country's gross domestic product – have added to what one commentator recently called "the stench of decay".
The LDP is powerless to stop this decline. Its factions are deeply split, and national policy under the party is a witches' brew of competing interests that has left the country rudderless and drifting. Its addiction to spending on public works – 700 trillion yen (about £4.7trn) has been budgeted for roads and railways over the next 10 years – is widely viewed as catastrophically wasteful.
Voters might have given Mr Aso the benefit of the doubt, had he demonstrated leadership and humility in the face of crisis, but he has shown neither. By turns petulant and defensive, he has been an inept communicator, luxuriating in a bon vivant lifestyle that mocked the growing hardship around him. As the recession began to bite early in his term of office, the press revealed that he spent almost every night of the working week at expensive hotels and restaurants. Official records published in one magazine showed he ran up a food and drink bill of well over £340,000 between 2005 and 2007, including £65,000 at his favourite bar. [Story continued here]
By Michael Tracey
Former President Bill Clinton has come out in support of same-sex marriage.
After speaking at the Campus Progress National Conference in Washington, DC, on July 8, the former president was asked if he supported same-sex marriage. Clinton, in a departure from past statements, replied in the affirmative.
Clinton opposed same-sex marriage during his presidency, and in 1996, he signed the Defense of Marriage Act, which limited federal recognition of marriage to one man and one woman. In May of this year, Clinton told a crowd at Toronto's Convention Centre that his position on same-sex marriage was "evolving."
Apparently, Clinton's thinking has now further evolved. Asked if he would commit his support for same-sex marriage, Clinton responded, "I'm basically in support."[....]A recent Gallup poll found that a majority of Democrats favor same-sex marriage.
[Story continued here]
As an Iranian America citizen I feel obligated to express my feeling of discomfort about the recent positions the Whitehouse has taken towards Iran:
Mr. President Obama,
As a proud Iranian-American citizen and as a voter for change and hope in the last election, I feel obligated to express my feeling of discomfort about the position that Whitehouse has taken in reacting to the recent uprisings in Iran.
How can we claim to be on the side of freedom and democracy, when we see those brave Iranian boys and girls who are ready to die for their basic human rights and not support them explicitly? How can we hold back our full support from a democratic movement which by all means and all definitions is on the right side of the history?
Just because we are entering into a negotiation with the government of Iran, is not a good enough reason to turn our back on the uprising of the Iranian people who are fighting for their basic human rights.
History of Islamic Republic of Iran shows that it does not have any respect for other countries,or the people of Iran, therefore they do not deserve a respected place in the international community. Indeed The ranking they deserve is not more than what AlGhaedeh deserves, because they both are terrorists. The difference is that Islamic Republic of Iran is older and is the government of a country.
Just because we do not want our plans of negotiations with Iranian government be interrupted, we should not stay silent and wait to see how the conflict is going to play out, as America should have not waited to see how the conflict in Rwanda was going to play out. We must give our full support to the people who are struggling for their basic rights.
Mr. President, in the last few weeks since the street demonstrations have started in the streets of all the cities in Iran, I have talked to many Iranian- American relatives, friends, and associates about the recent events in Iran and about our role in these perilous times. They all believe in full support from your administration.
America cannot afford to stay silent and do not say the right things just because the enemy might use that as a sign of interfering in their internal affairs. In another words we cannot be limited to what they like to hear from us. The irony is that they are going to put the blame on American government even if we play the game by their own rules. During the cold war we were negotiating with the soviets and were supporting the freedom movements of the Eastern Europe at the same time and we can do it again.
In spite of the long conflict between Iranian and American government, Iranian people have favored America continuously, and relate to our society more than any other nation. Just like us they have big hopes and dreams, hopes and dreams, that they know they cannot achieve under the back warded regime of Islamic Republic of Iran.
We are not saying the movement destiny is depending on American support, but we have to stay on the side of what is right and humane. We are hoping you give the voice of Iranian-American voice a serious consideration.
Thank you Mr. Presidentand God bless you.
Friday, July 10, 2009
Just so you know, Bart Ehrman says he's not the anti-Christ.
He says he's not trying to destroy your faith. He's not trying to bash the Bible. And, though his mother no longer talks to him about religion, Ehrman says some of his best friends are Christian.
Ehrman, a best-selling author and a professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is a biblical sleuth whose investigations make some people very angry. Like the fictional Robert Langdon character played by actor Tom Hanks in the movie "Angels & Demons," he delves into the past to challenge some of Christianity's central claims.
In Ehrman's latest book, "Jesus, Interrupted," he concludes:
Doctrines such as the divinity of Jesus and heaven and hell are not based on anything Jesus or his earlier followers said.
At least 19 of the 27 books in the New Testament are forgeries.
Believing the Bible is infallible is not a condition for being a Christian.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Desperate to regain control over a country that has been rocked by recent uprisings and mass protests, the Iranian government has made it clear that they will stop at nothing to restore order.
Urge Iran's leaders not to seek the death penalty for political activists who stood in support of dissident voices during post-election protests.
Dear fellow citizens,
Four prominent politicians are being held in the notorious section 209 of Evin prison, where incommunicado detention and torture are routine and deaths in custody have occurred. The men face indefinite detention all because they publicly supported either Mir Hossein Mousavi – who according to the Guardian Council lost the disputed election – or the other "reformist" presidential candidate, Mehdi Karroubi.
Powerful Iranian government officials want to make an example out of well-known opposition leaders by charging them with serious offenses, where if found guilty, they could be sentenced to death.
These four opposition leaders are at risk of facing this senseless and brutal punishment unless we show Iran's leaders that even the harshest of sentences will not silence the Iranian people's calls for justice and human rights.
Remind the Iranian government that the world is still watching. Demand the release of opposition leaders from Tehran's infamous Evin prison.
We have strong reasons to fear that these four men – Ali Abtahi, Mostafa Tajzadeh, Mohsen Aminzadeh and Abdollah Ramazanzadeh – are already experiencing Evin prison's infamous practices of severe torture first-hand.
For over three weeks now, these four men have been locked away without any official charges. Since being taken from their homes, they have had no contact with family members or lawyers. If the Iranian government thinks that it can coerce genuine confessions from these men using these disdainful tactics, then they are sorely mistaken.
But there are signs that Iran's wall is penetrable. Just last week, Mohammed Mostafaei, a lawyer mostly known for his work in defending juvenile defenders in death penalty cases, was released from Evin prison. While he must still face charges in court, he is at least free from the immediate threat of torture.
Call on Iranian authorities to release opposition leaders from Evin prison immediately.
Almost one month has passed since a flood of activism was unleashed on the streets of Iran. Over 2,200 people were arrested in the post-election unrest. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad most recently gave a speech on state television1 insisting that the meddling of Western nations was the cause of the violence. But as the fight shifts from off the streets and into the courtroom, it is imperative that all eyes stay fixed on those who stood up in opposition.
Since the post-election violence broke out, nearly 30,000 Amnesty activists have put the pressure on Iranian authorities by sending a firestorm of emails and letters to their offices. We've got to keep up this intensity if we want to get through to them that the responsibility for protecting human rights cannot be deflected, nor will it be forgotten.
This is an opportunity for the leaders in Iran to prove to the world that they are ready to embrace change. Until they do, we cannot lose sight of what continues to be the driving force for so many in Iran – an unrelenting need to protect human rights.
In Solidarity --
Elise, Zahir, Christoph and the rest of the Iran crisis response team
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
BOSTON – Massachusetts is suing the federal government over a law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.
filed the lawsuit Wednesday in federal court in Boston. It says federal interferes with the right of Massachusetts to define marriage as it sees fit.
The 1996 federal law denies federal recognition of . Massachusetts was the first state to allow the practice.
The Boston-based Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders has already sued over the federal law. It says it discriminates against gay couples and is unconstitutional because it denies them access to federal benefits that other married couples receive.
Yahoo News story from Associated Press (news.yahoo.com)