Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Jerry Springer Out, Who Is In?

Update: Apparently Dustin Lance Black will not be appearing in Saturday according to an email Nick Padgett sent to me today which is copied below:

Hello,

Sorry, I just saw this in my spam box, and as I have been working around the clock on this benefit, my email overfloweth this week.

To answer your questions...here is the statement that was released last week in regards to this...

Upon our learning that there was concern with Jerry Springer's involvement in this play, we immediately took action earlier this week, and he will not be involved in this benefit performance in any way. It would never be the intent of myself or anyone involved to hurt, harm or offend anyone with anything we do...we felt it best to see that this event is presented peacefully in the intent and spirit in which it was conceived...in order to do that, we must make sure everyone in the community is comfortable, and therefore chose to re-cast the role which he was to play. This event was created to bring our community together and show positive support for Marriage Equality, as we make an impact through the power of the Arts with this historic event, and we hope that with these changes, the benefit can return to how it was intended to be presented, which is to show positive support for Equality right here in the Heart of America.

 Also, to further answer your question, this play is written by Dustin Lance Black, he will not be appearing in it.

 We hope that you will still join us for what promises to be a powerful evening, although it will be a very small audience, the room shall be full of heart. We hope that you will spread the positive word of this benefit, as we certainly do need attendance to make this benefit, well, a benefit for these great organizations, as of now, it doesn't look like it will even make up what it cost to put up this large scale event. Those who were part of the protest against Mr. Springer demanded a local rather than a celebrity, so we have been recasting with local talent, since this benefit was designed FOR the local community, we listened, in order to truly make this a collaborative community effort. I just wish we would see more support now from the LGBT community for this, as it took a lot of work to get a benefit of this scale to KC and by not having the support there, it will prevent even the consideration of future events in any similarity of scale.

 A much longer answer than you were probably hoping for, but we do hope you will join us and spread the love.

 Thank you for your time.

-Nick

 

 

Nick Padgett 

Producing Artistic Director, PADGETT PRODUCTIONS

"Bringing the Stars closer to YOU!"

Performer/Director/Choreographer 

Cell - 816-835-2281 

Email - actnmannick@aol.com 

Fax - 816-470-2129


Charles Ferruza of the Pitch wrote about this and subsequently updated the article with the news that Springer was removed after the threat of the boycott.

From the Kansas Equality Coalition:

Greetings KEC members -The KEC-led boycott of the Kansas City production of "8," which originally was to star Jerry Springer, has been called off. Responding to intense public pressure brought about by KEC's public call to action, the play's local producers have fired Springer and replaced him with Dustin Lance Black.

Congratulations to Kansas City Metro chapter chair Sandra Meade for leading this successful action!

The Kansas City Metro Chapter of the Kansas Equality Coalition is calling for a boycott of The American Foundation for Equal Rights & Broadway Impact's "8" by Dustin Lance Black, being held at the Muriel Kauffman Theatre in Kansas City, MO, on August 3rd.A press release from Padgett Productions of Kansas City has the headline “JERRY SPRINGER TO HEADLINE STARRY MARRIAGE EQUALITY BENEFIT AT THE KAUFFMAN CENTER”, and goes on further to say that the event will “feature an All-Star Celebrity Cast led by Television powerhouse Jerry Springer.”Jerry Springer is known by many in the LGBT advocacy community, especially the “T” advocacy community, as someone who has relentlessly profited from sensationalizing the suffering of thousands of participants on his television show, a great many of them being members of the transgender community. In the 20+ years of his show, Jerry Springer has had hundreds of shows which have perpetuated and reinforced the negative stereotype of transgender people as being deceitful and worthy of the constant stream of insults hurled at them by the audience, such as freak, she-male, tranny, and “it”. It is my personal opinion that Jerry Springer has done more harm to the transgender community than any other public figure, and those of us who are active in advocacy must constantly fight the stereotypes that he has spent years building up in order to overcome the negative public bias that hinder our access to legal equality.

In a subsequent email from the Producer of the show, Nick Padgett of Padgett Productions in Kansas City, he tried to minimize the importance of Jerry Springer’s involvement, and despite being used to hook people into buying tickets as the “headliner”, he may actually be reading a role during the stage reading portion of the show. It doesn’t matter what role Jerry Springer has. The fact that he is being used to make money in advertising for this effort, or playing any part in the show at all, while ignoring and trampling on the suffering he has caused to the transgender community for over 20 years is disgusting and cannot be tolerated.

Kansas Equality Coalition is a huge supporter of marriage equality initiatives. We initiated and coordinated the large DOMA/Prop 8 Decision Day event in Kansas City one month ago. But an entertainment company can’t make bad decisions in casting a person who has 20+ years of history harming part of the LGBT community, and expect everyone to say it is ok just because you are calling it a marriage equality benefit. This is unacceptable, and Kansas Equality Coalition is calling for a boycott of this event until Jerry Springer is removed from the event entirely, including all advertising and any role with the production itself.Please contact the following and let them know you are disappointed and will boycott this event until Jerry Springer is removed from any and all involvement with the event

Producer: Padgett Productions, Kansas City

actnmannick@aol.com

Kaufmann Center (Miriam Kauffman Theatre): contact@kauffmancenter.org

Social Bar, KC (partial sponsor of the event):http://socialbarkc.com/contact/

Saturday, July 27, 2013

My YouTube Favorites - Weekend Music Edition

Rufus Wainwright, Art Teacher, Venice (Teatro Verde)



I Think It's Going To Rain Today - Babs




Valentine's Day - David Bowie



Carefully Taught/Children Will Listen - Heartland Mens Chorus




Eric Whitacre's Virtual Choir 4: Fly to Paradise




My Funny Valentine - Bukeka Shoals at the Blue Room



I Can't Stand the Rain - In Performance at The White House |

America's Real Subversives: FBI Spying Then, NSA Surveillance Now

ReturnPublished on Friday, July 26, 2013 by Common Dreams

America's Real Subversives: FBI Spying Then, NSA Surveillance Now

As the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington nears, let's not forget the history of agency overreach and abuse of power

by Amy Goodman

As the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington approaches, commemorating that historic gathering where Martin Luther King Jr gave his famous "I have a dream" speech, it is important to recall the extent to which King was targeted by the government's domestic spying apparatus.

TheFBI operation against King is one of the most shameful episodes in the long history of our government's persecution of dissenters.Fifty years later, Edward Snowden, who is seeking temporary asylum to remain in Russia, took enormous personal risk to expose the global reach of surveillance programs overseen by President Barack Obama. His revelations continue to provoke worldwide condemnation of the US.

In a heavily redacted, classified FBI memo dated 4 January 1956 – just a little more than a month after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger – the Mobile, Alabama, FBI office stated that an agent "had been assigned by [redacted] to find out all he could about Reverend Martin L King, colored minister in Montgomery and leader in the bus boycott … to uncover all the derogatory information he could about King."The FBI at that time was run by its founding director, J Edgar Hoover, who was deploying the vast resources he controlled against any and all perceived critics of the United States.

The far-reaching clandestine surveillance, infiltration and disruption operation Hoover ran was dubbed "COINTELPRO", for counterintelligence program.The FBI's COINTELPRO activities, along with illegal operations by agencies like the CIA, were thoroughly investigated in 1975 by the Church Committee, chaired by the Democratic US senator from Idaho, Frank Church. The Church committee reported that the FBI "conducted a sophisticated vigilante operation aimed squarely at preventing the exercise of first amendment rights of speech and association." Among COINTELPRO's perverse activities was an FBI effort to threaten Martin Luther King Jr with exposure of an alleged extramarital affair, including the suggestion, made by the FBI to King, that he avoid embarrassment by killing himself.

Following the Church committee, Congress imposed serious limitations on the FBI and other agencies, restricting domestic spying. Among the changes was the passage into law of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa). Fisa compelled the FBI and others in the government to go to a secret court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, in order to engage in domestic wiretapping.Then came 11 September 2001, and the swift passage of the Patriot Act, granting broad, new powers of surveillance to intelligence agencies, including the FBI. Section 215 of that act is widely criticized, first for allowing the FBI to obtain records of what books people are signing out of the library. But now, more than 10 years later, and thanks to the revelations that have come from the Snowden leaks, we see that the government has used this law to perform dragnet surveillance on all electronic communications, including telephone "metadata", which can be analyzed to reveal intimate details of our lives, legalizing a truly Orwellian system of total surveillance.

In what is considered to be a litmus test of the potential to roll back the Obama administration's domestic spy programs, a bipartisan coalition of libertarian Republicans and progressive Democrats put forth an amendment to the latest defense authorization bill. Justin Amash, a Republican, and John Conyers, a Democrat, both of Michigan, co-sponsored the amendment, which would deny funding to the NSA to collect phone and data records of people who are not subjects of an investigation.The White House took seriously the potential that its power to spy might get trimmed by Congress. On the eve of the debate on the Amash/Conyers amendment, House members were lobbied by NSA Director General Keith B Alexander, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, as well as by hawkish members of the congressional intelligence committees.The amendment was narrowly defeated. A full bill that would similarly shut down the NSA program is currently in committee.Thanks to Edward Snowden, and the journalists who are writing stories based on his whistleblowing, we now know that the Obama administration is collecting oceans of our data. Martin Luther King Jr was a dissident, an organizer, a critic of US wars abroad and of poverty and racism at home. He was spied on, and his work was disrupted by the federal government.

The golden anniversary of the March on Washington is 28 August. Deeply concerned about the crackdown on dissent happening under Obama, scholar Cornel West, professor at Union Theological Seminary in New York, wondered if "Brother Martin [King] would not be invited to the very march in his name.

"Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column© 2013 Amy Goodman; Distributed by King Features

Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 1,100 stations in North America. She was awarded the 2008 Right Livelihood Award, dubbed the “Alternative Nobel” prize, and received the award in the Swedish Parliament in December.

printed from www.CommonDreams.org

Source URL: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/07/26

Saturday, July 20, 2013

RIP Helen Thomas

Obama Is Hailed For Telling The Truth About Trayvon Martin

"Remarks by the President on Trayvon Martin" http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/07/19/remarks-president-trayvon-martin

James S. Brady Press Briefing Room
1:33 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  I wanted to come out here, first of all, to tell you that Jay is prepared for all your questions and is very much looking forward to the session.  The second thing is I want to let you know that over the next couple of weeks, there’s going to obviously be a whole range of issues -- immigration, economics, et cetera -- we'll try to arrange a fuller press conference to address your questions.

The reason I actually wanted to come out today is not to take questions, but to speak to an issue that obviously has gotten a lot of attention over the course of the last week -- the issue of the Trayvon Martin ruling.  I gave a preliminary statement right after the ruling on Sunday.  But watching the debate over the course of the last week, I thought it might be useful for me to expand on my thoughts a little bit.First of all, I want to make sure that, once again, I send my thoughts and prayers, as well as Michelle’s, to the family of Trayvon Martin, and to remark on the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation.  I can only imagine what they’re going through, and it’s remarkable how they’ve handled it.

The second thing I want to say is to reiterate what I said on Sunday, which is there’s going to be a lot of arguments about the legal issues in the case -- I'll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues.  The judge conducted the trial in a professional manner.  The prosecution and the defense made their arguments.  The juries were properly instructed that in a case such as this reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict.  And once the jury has spoken, that's how our system works.  But I did want to just talk a little bit about context and how people have responded to it and how people are feeling. You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son.  Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.  And when you think about why, in the African American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.

There are very few African American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store.  That includes me.  There are very few African American men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars.  That happens to me -- at least before I was a senator.  There are very few African Americans who haven't had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off.  That happens often.

And I don't want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African American community interprets what happened one night in Florida.  And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.  The African American community is also knowledgeable that there is a history of racial disparities in the application of our criminal laws -- everything from the death penalty to enforcement of our drug laws.  And that ends up having an impact in terms of how people interpret the case.

Now, this isn't to say that the African American community is naïve about the fact that African American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system; that they’re disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence.  It’s not to make excuses for that fact -- although black folks do interpret the reasons for that in a historical context.  They understand that some of the violence that takes place in poor black neighborhoods around the country is born out of a very violent past in this country, and that the poverty and dysfunction that we see in those communities can be traced to a very difficult history.And so the fact that sometimes that’s unacknowledged adds to the frustration.  And the fact that a lot of African American boys are painted with a broad brush and the excuse is given, well, there are these statistics out there that show that African American boys are more violent -- using that as an excuse to then see sons treated differently causes pain.I think the African American community is also not naïve in understanding that, statistically, somebody like Trayvon Martin was statistically more likely to be shot by a peer than he was by somebody else.  So folks understand the challenges that exist for African American boys.  But they get frustrated, I think, if they feel that there’s no context for it and that context is being denied. And that all contributes I think to a sense that if a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario, that, from top to bottom, both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.

Now, the question for me at least, and I think for a lot of folks, is where do we take this?  How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction?  I think it’s understandable that there have been demonstrations and vigils and protests, and some of that stuff is just going to have to work its way through, as long as it remains nonviolent.  If I see any violence, then I will remind folks that that dishonors what happened to Trayvon Martin and his family.  But beyond protests or vigils, the question is, are there some concrete things that we might be able to do. I know that Eric Holder is reviewing what happened down there, but I think it’s important for people to have some clear expectations here.  Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government, the criminal code.  And law enforcement is traditionally done at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels.That doesn’t mean, though, that as a nation we can’t do some things that I think would be productive.  So let me just give a couple of specifics that I’m still bouncing around with my staff, so we’re not rolling out some five-point plan, but some areas where I think all of us could potentially focus.

Number one, precisely because law enforcement is often determined at the state and local level, I think it would be productive for the Justice Department, governors, mayors to work with law enforcement about training at the state and local levels in order to reduce the kind of mistrust in the system that sometimes currently exists. When I was in Illinois, I passed racial profiling legislation, and it actually did just two simple things.  One, it collected data on traffic stops and the race of the person who was stopped.  But the other thing was it resourced us training police departments across the state on how to think about potential racial bias and ways to further professionalize what they were doing. And initially, the police departments across the state were resistant, but actually they came to recognize that if it was done in a fair, straightforward way that it would allow them to do their jobs better and communities would have more confidence in them and, in turn, be more helpful in applying the law.  And obviously, law enforcement has got a very tough job.So that’s one area where I think there are a lot of resources and best practices that could be brought to bear if state and local governments are receptive.  And I think a lot of them would be.  And let's figure out are there ways for us to push out that kind of training.

Along the same lines, I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it -- if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations. I know that there's been commentary about the fact that the "stand your ground" laws in Florida were not used as a defense in the case.  On the other hand, if we're sending a message as a society in our communities that someone who is armed potentially has the right to use those firearms even if there's a way for them to exit from a situation, is that really going to be contributing to the kind of peace and security and order that we'd like to see? And for those who resist that idea that we should think about something like these "stand your ground" laws, I'd just ask people to consider, if Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?  And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman who had followed him in a car because he felt threatened?  And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.

Number three -- and this is a long-term project -- we need to spend some time in thinking about how do we bolster and reinforce our African American boys.  And this is something that Michelle and I talk a lot about.  There are a lot of kids out there who need help who are getting a lot of negative reinforcement.  And is there more that we can do to give them the sense that their country cares about them and values them and is willing to invest in them?

I'm not naïve about the prospects of some grand, new federal program.  I'm not sure that that’s what we're talking about here. But I do recognize that as President, I've got some convening power, and there are a lot of good programs that are being done across the country on this front.  And for us to be able to gather together business leaders and local elected officials and clergy and celebrities and athletes, and figure out how are we doing a better job helping young African American men feel that they're a full part of this society and that they've got pathways and avenues to succeed -- I think that would be a pretty good outcome from what was obviously a tragic situation.  And we're going to spend some time working on that and thinking about that. And then, finally, I think it's going to be important for all of us to do some soul-searching.  There has been talk about should we convene a conversation on race.  I haven't seen that be particularly productive when politicians try to organize conversations.  They end up being stilted and politicized, and folks are locked into the positions they already have.  On the other hand, in families and churches and workplaces, there's the possibility that people are a little bit more honest, and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can?  Am I judging people as much as I can, based on not the color of their skin, but the content of their character?  That would, I think, be an appropriate exercise in the wake of this tragedy.

And let me just leave you with a final thought that, as difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better.  Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race.  It doesn’t mean we’re in a post-racial society.  It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated.  But when I talk to Malia and Sasha, and I listen to their friends and I seem them interact, they’re better than we are -- they’re better than we were -- on these issues.  And that’s true in every community that I’ve visited all across the country.

And so we have to be vigilant and we have to work on these issues.  And those of us in authority should be doing everything we can to encourage the better angels of our nature, as opposed to using these episodes to heighten divisions.  But we should also have confidence that kids these days, I think, have more sense than we did back then, and certainly more than our parents did or our grandparents did; and that along this long, difficult journey, we’re becoming a more perfect union -- not a perfect union, but a more perfect union.Thank you, guys.

END1:52 P.M. EDT 

Photo: Getty Images

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Forgive them, for they know not what they do

Forgiveness is the only way. Forgive the jurors of the Trayvon Martin case for not convicting the person responsible and the tragedy that ensued.

Giuseppe Verdi - Macbeth, Act IV: Patria oppressa!, 'Chorus of Scottish Exiles' lyrics
Oppressed land of ours!
You cannot have
the sweet name of mother
now that you have become a
tomb for your sons.
From orphans, from those who mourn,
some for husbands, some for children,
at each new dawn a cry goes up to outrage heaven.
To that cry heaven replies
as if moved to pity,
oppressed land, it would
proclaim your grief forever.
The bell tolls constantly for death
but no-one is so bold
as to shed a vain tear
for the suffering and dying.

Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.
Amen.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Farewell Joe

I have mixed feelings about this. Feelings that I won't necessarily publish on this blog, but nonetheless are there. I do wish HMC the best and I believe that I will sing Joe's last show with HMC "Baby It's Cold Outside". Here's the text of the press announcement from HMC's site:

Heartland Men’s Chorus congratulates Dr. Joe Nadeau on his appointment as Artistic Director of the Gay Mens Chorus of Los Angeles. He will begin his new post in August and will lead HMC’s artistic efforts through the December 2013 concert.
A national search for the next Artistic Director of Heartland Men’s Chorus will commence in early fall, with the goal to announce the new appointment in early 2014. HMC maintains a consistently strong position administratively and financially, with a deep and broad base of community support.  The organization is well positioned to attract top artistic talent to lead the organization to the next level of excellence and success.
Joe joined the HMC staff in 1998. During his 15-year tenure, the Chorus has grown dramatically in terms of members/ singers, audience, and local and national recognition. More than 140 men now perform in a concert cycle to consistently sold-out houses.  A three-concert, four performance season has increased to a seven performance season, drawing the largest audiences for choral programming in our region.
Under Joe’s leadership, the Chorus earned a reputation for cutting-edge, relevant programming. This includes the development and pioneering of the unique musical documentary format, which has now been adopted by choruses all over North America. The musical documentary combines visuals, narration and other production elements, with excellent choral performance to illuminate timely societal issues.  Presentation topics have included: gays in the U.S. military; treatment of LGBT members in faith communities; gays in Hollywood and as portrayed in film; songs of the civil rights movements sung by women, people of color, and the LGBT community; and stories of the coming out process. Through these moving concerts that entertain and educate, Joe has enabled the Chorus to achieve its vision: Our Voices Enlighten, Inspire, Heal and Empower.
Joe’s artistic vision will continue in HMC’s upcoming 28th season as the Chorus carries out the concerts he has planned. His final concert with Heartland Men’s Chorus will be Baby, It’s Cold Outside on December 6-8, 2013. Guest conductors will be invited to lead the Chorus for the 2014 March and June concerts. The March 2014 concert, a Kansas City premier of Andrew Lippa’s new work, I Am Harvey Milk, showcases the Chorus’s artistic national impact: Joe helped position HMC to be one of seven co-commissioning choruses for the work. He also conceived the final concert of the upcoming season, Vegas, Baby, scheduled for June 13-15, 2014. Among the most ambitious productions the Chorus has undertaken to date, it will mark the first time HMC has presented three performances of its summer concert. All season concerts will take place at the historic Folly Theater, HMC’s performing home since 1994.
The HMC Family extends its thanks to Joe, and extends congratulations and all best wishes.
picture credit: HMC Farewell page

Fly To Paradise

Here is the final cut of the Virtual Choir that I participated in. So awesome! Here's an excerpt from the email that was sent from Eric Whitacre: 

The numbers this time are astonishing: 8,041 video submissions, more than doubling the numbers for Virtual Choir 3. 101 countries represented including Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Cuba and seven nations from the African continent. We have truly become a global choir.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Be In The Center Of It

Be a part of our exciting third season—volunteer at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts!

Summer is a perfect time to begin volunteering, as we gear up for another great season of amazing performances. Immerse yourself in the wonderful world of the performing arts through a one-of-a-kind volunteering experience. As a Kauffman Center Volunteer you might greet daily visitors, give tours of our world-renowned facilities, or usher nightly performances. No matter what your schedule is like, we can use your skills here at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

Volunteering at the Kauffman Center is fun and rewarding. You’ll learn new job skills and meet new people from many backgrounds, all while contributing to an organization with the unique goal of promoting appreciation and awareness of the arts.

Most of all, a Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts volunteer helps to create unique experiences that will surprise, delight, entertain, and educate tens of thousands of people each year.

Apply Now

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

No one is clean in "Dirty Wars"

KC Metropolis has a great review of the documentary based on the riveting book by Jeremy Scahill titled "Dirty Wars". I just finished this book last week and I would recommend it very highly. American forces are unleashed around the planet and Scahill raises the question of the Obama administration unilaterally killing United States citizens without due process. It's chilling to say the least.

No one is clean in "Dirty Wars" | KCMETROPOLIS.org - Kansas City's Online Journal of the Arts

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

We're Americans, We Kill People Because Well...We Can

from Lawfare Blog:

DoD Report on Adnan Latif Death

By 
Tuesday, July 2, 2013 at 12:30 PM
A sad coda to the story of Adnan Latif, the Guantánamo detainee found dead in his cell on September 8, 2012. As I mentioned in yesterday’s roundup, a classified military report released on Friday confirms that  Latif committed suicide by overdose; he swallowed 24 capsules of the anti-psychotic drug Invega. Latif  also had eight other drugs in his system and a case of acute pneumonia at time of death.
Released in response to a September FOIA request submitted by Jason Leopold of Truthout, the military report compiles the results of an investigation of officers and boards of officers conducted under Army Regulation 15-6. The report finds that prison guards and medical personnel struggled and failed to adhere to protocol in dealing with the clearly-ill Latif, identified by his internment number, ISN156:
ISN 156 had an extensive history of disciplinary and self-harm attempts while detained at JTF-GTMO. Because of his unique issues, guards and medical personnel frequently treated ISN156 differently than other detainees. Many guards and medical personnel indicated that ISN 156 was an exceptionally challenging detainee.
Guards and medical personnel repeatedly violate various Joint Detention Group (JDG) and Joint Medical Group (JMG) Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). In some cases the guards and medical personnel are unfamiliar with the SOPs. In other cases, the guards and medical personnel are familiar with the requirements but for various reasons, fail to follow them.
ISN156 hoarded medications and ingested them shortly before he was found unresponsive in his cell. Several factors contributed to the ability of ISN156 to hoard medications. These factors include inconsistent JDG and JMG SOPs with respent to Med Pass, confusion on the part of the guards, corpsmen, leadership (camp JDG, and JMG) regarding what the SOPs require, and in many cases, failure to coply with Med Pass SOP requirements.
By any account, the 79-page document is a disturbing read. It lays out Latif’s diagnoses for bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, his forced medication, his hunger strikes, his forced feeding, his repeated assaults on guards, the “discipline” measures to which he was subjected, and his “odd behavior”—such as literal backflips off the wall. It documents as well his repeated attempts at self-harm, including nineteen separate incidents in 2006 alone, of hanging, head-banging, self-induced choking and wrist-cutting.
A glance at his 2008 detainee assessment, meanwhile, shows that the Joint Task Force described his overall health as “fair.”
Latif was ordered released by a D.C. District Court Judge in a decision that was then reversed by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. See our extensive coverage of the case here.
Latif was the ninth man to die at Guantánamo and the seventh suicide.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Sims: Dignity in the House

Glenn Beck and Rand Paul Wonder If Gay Marriage Rulings Will Lead To Pol...

Louie Gohmert: Gay Marriage Signals Collapse of Civilization

Craziest Conservative DOMA Reactions

I posted a tweet last week about one of the best things about the two supreme court rulings was the wacko reactions from anti-gay people becoming apoplectic about gay people finally achieving marriage equality. Here's a brilliant article from Bilerico about the same subject. To see the videos referenced go to either the original article or the two following blog entries on my blog.

The Craziest Conservative DOMA Reactions
Filed By Terrance Heath

“If any of you can show just cause why these two may not lawfully be married,” goes the familiar line from the marriage liturgy, “speak now; or else for ever hold your peace.” After Wednesday, there is no just cause why same-sex couples may not be lawfully married. But that doesn’t mean the opponents of marriage equality are likely to hold their peace, now or ever.
First of all, no matter what you’ve heard, there have been no signs of the apocalypse since Wednesday. That’s got to be a disappointment to the anti-equality right wingers who were expecting something like this.

That hasn’t happened. The government is not turning everyone gay with chemical weapons . Not yet, anyway. But you wouldn’t know if from the reactions of these conservatives.
An unusually calm and restrained (for him anyway) Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) told reporters that the fall of DOMA signals the “end of a great civilization.”

Given that France, Uruguay, Denmark, The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, and New Zealand have not been wiped off the face of the earth, it’s probably too soon start digging a bunker.

Is your passport up to date? You might need to find another country to call home, because Rush Limbaugh declared that the DOMA ruling demonstrates the “disintegration of the United States.” Not to mention the “visible fracturing by the judiciary of American culture.”
Does this mean no Elton John serenade at Limbaugh wedding no. 5, assuming there is one?
Pennsylvania Republicans invoked “God’s Law” to stop a gay lawmaker from speaking about the Court’s ruling on DOMA. No seriously.
State Rep. Brian Sims, a Pennsylvania Democrat, was blocked by conservatives from speaking on the House floor about the Supreme Court's DOMA decision, which one Republican explained was because Sims would be violating "God's law."

WHYY-FM reports that Sims, who is the state's first openly gay lawmaker, was prevented from speaking about the decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act via a procedural move. "I wasn't planning on chastising anybody. I wasn't planning on discussing how far we have to come in Pennsylvania or that we really have no civil rights in Pennsylvania," Sims said. "It was really just going to limit my comments to how important the cases were."
Sims, to his credit isn't about to shut up. He took to the floor of the Pennsylvania House to demand those who blocked him from speaking be reprimanded.

The Pennsylvania House hasn’t heard the last of him. Rep. Sims plans to introduce a marriage bill that, if successful, will make Pennsylvania the 14th state to affirm marriage equality.
Sen. Rand Paul (R- Kentucky) appeared to agree with Glenn Beck that overturning DOMA could lead bizzare consequences, like people asking “does it have to be human?”

Paul has since tried to walk back his comments .

Now, Sen. Paul claims it was all a joke .
One-time GOP presidential contender Mike Huckabee took his tearing of hair and rending of garments to Twitter .

If anything, Huckabee is probably weeping because his 2011 prediction that the decision not to defend DOMA would “destroy” Obama. Not only did Obama win re-election, but now there’s not much left of DOMA to defend.
Huckabee wasnt’ alone in tweeting his disappointment that gay couples might have lower tax bills, along with hospital visitation rights, etc. Chick-Fil-A President Dan Cathy tweeted on behalf of the “founding fathers.”

If I had to guess, I’d say the founding fathers would first have to recover from learning that there’s a black guy on the Supreme Court, and another in the White House. Anyway, Cathy chickened out and deleted his tweet.
The American Family Association's Brian Fisher picked up where Sen. Paul left off.

Fox News Todd Starnes tweeted visions of apocalypse., that could have been lifted from the script of the next Left Behind movie.

You can almost hear the hum of black pink helicopters and the march of rainbow-painted jackboots in those last two of Starnes tweets.
Rep. Randy Weber (R-Texas) smells a conspiracy. At a House Republican Study Committee press conference, Weber actually stood up and accused the Court of being “in collusion with the President and his Injustice Department.”

He may not have burned down the Supreme Court over the DOMA ruling, but Justice Antonin Scalia blasted the majority with heated rhetoric. Scalia dismissed the ruling as “legal argle bargle,” and accused the majority of being terribly mean to the anti-equality crowd just for wanting to insure that same-sex couples had a thousand or so fewer rights and protections than married heterosexuals, including these :

Apparently, denying same-sex couples these protections does not “'disparage,' 'injure,' 'degrade,' 'demean,' and 'humiliate' our fellow human beings, our fellow citizens, who are homosexual.” At least, not in Scalia’s book.
But the best conservative DOMA-related freakout and the best response has to be the “exchange between Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R-Minnesota) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

The Supreme Court has given the GOP a huge gift: one more chance to get on the right side of history. The tide has turned. Six in ten Americans think same-sex marriage should be legal. Among those ages 18 to 20, 81 percent support marriage equality. And it’s not just young people. Support for marriage equality has increased in each generation; from 25 percent in 2004 to 43 percent by 2012, among Baby-boomers; and from 37 percent in 2004 to 53 percent in 2012 among Gen-Xers.
Conservatives are about out of excuses on this one. Democrats are already talking about repealing what’s left of DOMA, and they’re likely to have a lot of public support if they do. Republicans, on the other hand, can’t support a repeal because their conservative base won’t let them. GOP leadership would rather not talk about marriage equality between now and 2014, but they may not have a choice. Rep. Tim Hueselkamp (R-Kansas) has already promised to file a constitutional amendment to restore DOMA.
If Republicans can’t see the writing on the wall, and can’t bridge the generational chasm in their own party on this issue, Republicans risk being left behind -- trapped in the corner they painted themselves into. If so, then maybe they deserve to be.