Adorable, sassy short film about two lovers in an Italian town who dare to defy convention: watch AFTER THE JUMP ...
Wal-Mart is even worse than you thought. A New York Times investigation finds massive bribery network devoted to attaining and maintaining market dominance in Mexico:
The former executive gave names, dates and bribe amounts. He knew so much, he explained, because for years he had been the lawyer in charge of obtaining construction permits for Wal-Mart de Mexico.
Wal-Mart dispatched investigators to Mexico City, and within days they unearthed evidence of widespread bribery. They found a paper trail of hundreds of suspect payments totaling more than $24 million. They also found documents showing that Wal-Mart de Mexico’s top executives not only knew about the payments, but had taken steps to conceal them from Wal-Mart’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. In a confidential report to his superiors, Wal-Mart’s lead investigator, a former F.B.I. special agent, summed up their initial findings this way: “There is reasonable suspicion to believe that Mexican and USA laws have been violated.”
The lead investigator recommended that Wal-Mart expand the investigation.Instead, an examination by The New York Times found, Wal-Mart’s leaders shut it down ...
Fight between marines begins with anti-gay slur; ends with stabbing death.
US Rep. Charles Gonzalez, of San Antonio, is national co-chair of Obama's reelection campaign. He wants to add marriage equality to Democratic party platform:
The Democratic Party has been and always will be the Party committed to fighting for equality for all Americans,” Gonzalez said. “As an individual Member of Congress, marriage equality is an issue which I support. During the platform writing process, ideas and opinions will be considered from our diverse Democratic Party family, and I understand that the President and the Party are committed to crafting a platform that reflects our values and a belief that America is a nation in which everyone deserves a fair shot and hard work is rewarded. I fully expect that my opinion, and the opinions of others, will be an important consideration in reaching a consensus in drafting our party’s platform ...
He helped resurrect Richard Nixon back from political death in '68, pioneered the use of "dirty tricks" (aka: "rat****ing") in American elections, inspired the careers of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove, and turned to Jesus after going to jail. Now Chuck Colson is dead.
Fareed Zakaria chats up Andrew Sullivan.
Speaker of Australia's House of Representatives allegedly fell for gay staffer in the skeeziest possible way.
"Dilapidated" zoo in Gaza turns to taxidermy:
Owner Mohammed Awaida said he opened the "South Forest Park" in 2007, only to lose a number of animals during Israel's military offensive against Hamas that began in December 2008. During the three-week offensive, launched in response to rocket attacks on Israel, Awaida said he could not reach the zoo, and many animals died of neglect and starvation.
"The idea to mummify animals started after the Gaza war because a number of animals like the lion, the tiger, monkeys and crocodiles died," he said. "So we asked around and we learned from the Web how to start."
Formaldehyde and sawdust provided the basic tools, though Awaida acknowledges he is no expert.
At Lincoln Center, Paul Simon songbook gets jazzified. I really want the live record.
Andy wrote some months ago about the bizarre lawsuit filed against Rachel Maddow and MSNBC by rocker, activist, Christian, bigot, and noted crazyperson Bradlee Dean. Maddow, Dean claimed, misrepresented some remarks he'd delivered on a radio program. (Watch the original Maddow segment AFTER THE JUMP.)
Here's how Dean's edited remarks appeared on Maddow's show:
Muslims are calling for the execution for homosexuals in America. ... They themselves are upholding the laws that are even in the Bible, the Judeo Christian God. They seem to be more moral than even the American Christians do. Because these people are livid about enforcing their laws, they know homosexuality is an abomination. ... If America won't enforce the laws, God will raise up a foreign enemy to do just that's what you're seeing in America today.
Here's what Dean actually said:
Muslims are calling for the execution for homosexuals in America, this was just released yesterday and it shows you that they themselves are upholding the laws that are even in the Bible, the Judeo Christian God. They seem to be more moral than even the American Christians do. Because these people are livid about enforcing their laws, they know homosexuality is an abomination. And I continually reach out to the homosexual communities on this radio show, and I warn them, which ones love? Here you have Obama condemning it behind the backs of the homosexuals but to their faces he's promoting it. I say this to my gay friends out there the ones that continuously nitpick everything I say. Hollywood is promoting immorality and the God of the Heavens in Jesus names is warning you to flee from the wrath to come, yet you have Muslims calling for your execution. If America won't enforce the laws, God will raise up a foreign enemy to do just that's what you're seeing in America today. Read Leviticus 26 America.
(FYI: Dean has always asserted that he's not actually advocating the literal execution of actual gays -- a disclaimer which Maddow happily included in her segment.)
You'll note that the two quotes are identical in essence, though not in text. Nevertheless, Dean's suing MSNBC for $50 million. (He claims that the lawsuit's about principles, not cash.) Maddow and co. are now firing back: According to The Hollywood Reporter, they've hit Dean with an anti-SLAPP claim which could force him to pay their legal fees.
From the filing:
1. "One, the broadcasts truthfully reported on Dean’s May 15th statements. Those broadcasts re-played original audio of Dean speaking on the May 15th radio show. Dean does not – and cannot – allege that he did not make those controversial statements. The fact that NBCUniversal broadcast the essence but not the entirety of what Dean said during that radio show, as he now protests, does not change this analysis. Dean bears sole responsibility for the consequences of his words, however much he may try to distance himself from the backlash.
2. "Two, the commentary or rebuke Maddow offered about Dean’s statements was classic opinion and rhetorical hyperbole, and thus, cannot be actionable as a matter of law. As Dean is entitled to his opinions, however objectionable, so too is Maddow entitled to hers."
3. "Three, the fair comment privilege protects Maddow’s commentary. The broadcasts featured Dean’s actual statements and clearly indicated the source of those statements. Viewers were free to make up their own minds as to whether they agreed with Maddow’s remarks."
On Wednesday, Andy told the story of Cub Scout "den mother" Jennifer Tyrell, of Ohio, who was dismissed from den motherhood because she's a lesbian. Andy also linked to a petition authored by Tyrell, in which she asks Boy Scouts of America to reconsider their stance on homosexuality.
But Zach Wahls -- the Eagle Scout who famously and movingly spoke last year about his two moms during a hearing on marriage equality in the Iowa legislature -- points out that the BSA's stance on homosexuality is elective. Individual troops are free to respond however they see fit. At HuffPo, Wahls writes:
I know this because my moms, too, are lesbian parents, and as an Eagle Scout (the highest rank the BSA has to offer) I am acutely aware of the effects this policy has on families like mine. I joined the Cub Scouts when I was just 6 years old, at the lowest rank on the totem pole: Tiger Cub. The fact that my moms were lesbians was controversial in this conservative, central Wisconsin town of 20,000, but the Cub Scout Pack (the equivalent of a Boy Scout Troop) decided to adopt a wait-and-see approach.
Two years later, my moms had become a regular presence at our Pack meetings, offering their thoughts and advice. Slowly, the other parents learned that my moms were not, in fact, insidious agents advancing some nefarious agenda; they were simply concerned with making sure their son (me!) had an enjoyable and enriching experience in the Scouting program -- and this sounded strangely familiar to the other parents.
In 1998 our Pack had grown so much that they needed another adult leader, a Den Leader, to help with the boys in my age group. No other parents stepped up, so Jackie, my short mom, volunteered and became Pack 381's first lesbian Den Mother.
By all accounts, Jennifer Tyrell was an excellent den mother. Even those who dismissed her noted that their decision had no relation to her skills as a leader. They dismissed her exclusively because of her sexuality, they say, affecting an air of regret. But since it seems they needn't have fired Tyrell at all, it might be worth revisiting a few sentences from Tyrell's petition:
The revocation of my membership came shortly after I was elected treasurer of my pack and uncovered some inconsistencies in the pack's finances. Within a week of reporting these findings to the council, I received notice that my membership had been revoked, based on my sexual orientation, citing that due to being gay, I did "not meet the high standards of membership that the BSA seeks".
Today in Washington DC, LGBT Mormons and their allies gathering at the Circling The Wagons Conference will witness the premier of this video by Kendall Knox -- the same Kendall Knox who last month produced an It Gets Better video featuring gay Mormons at Brigham Young University.
This vid, too, is part of the It Gets Better series. It, too, features Mormons. Only these are straightfolk -- het Mormons who maybe once disliked or feared the LGBT community, but were turned around after a friend or family member came out. They're still devoutly religious, and they express their love of the LGBT community in explicitly Mormon terms. It's an odd thing to see. It's also very moving.
Watch AFTER THE JUMP ...
Maybe to coincide with his endorsement of the Student Non-Discrimination Act and the White House's screening of Bully on the National Day of Silence, or maybe to divert attention from his unwillingness to sign an executive order banning workplace discrimination against LGBT folk, President Obama and co. have taken to Twitter to explain what the Obama White House has done for the cause of LGBT equality. It's quite a lot:
When Palestinian gays want to party, they go to Tel Aviv. Today the Times of Israel published a story by Michal Shmulovich about the Palestinian Queer Party, held in an "underground Israeli nightclub":
People greeted each other in Arabic: Kif inta? Shu ’jdid? The stereo wailed, inti ‘omri! — you are my life! — as the DJ played hit after hit by Egyptian and Lebanese pop stars Amr Diab, Nancy Ajram and Sherine. No Eyal Golan or Justin Timberlake here.
And there were drag queens, dressed to the nines in high heels and short skirts, with bows in their very long, very straightened hair.
... The party is an anonymous safe haven. And that’s why it’s such a hit.
The group alQaws organizes the Palestinian Queer Party — its name for these monthly events. According to its website, alQaws works to “promote sexual and gender diversity in Palestinian society” throughout Israel and the Palestinian territories.
... Call it activism or pleasure seeking: The party celebrates both being Palestinian and being gay.
The Palestinians come from all over. From elsewhere in Israel, from the West Bank, from the Golan Heights -- from everywhere, it seems, except Gaza:
Abbud, a young Palestinian man from outside Ramallah, smiled when I asked him how he got to Tel Aviv. “Oh, we have our ways,” he said, hinting that it was not the first time he’d made the voyage. I asked him how he planned to get home at the end of the night. “Getting out is easier than getting in,” he replied.
When I asked him if he thinks people come from Gaza, he laughed and said it’s too dangerous, but added that they would probably like to. There have been rumors of over a hundred gay Palestinians from Gaza who have crossed into Israel to live, to avoid persecution for their homosexuality. However, the move remains dangerous.
The Palestinian Queer Party began a decade ago in Jerusalem, and moved to Tel Aviv "about five years ago." Most of the men who attend are closeted, including the organizer, "Tamer," who lives in Tel Aviv with his boyfriend and two gay roommates. Of the four cohabitants, only one is out to his family. Tamer's two sons from a previous marriage believe he's living with rooommates to save money.
To maintain both their personal safety and their social mobility, Tamer's two rooommates intend to marry women -- they both believe they can muster enough bisexual lust to be able to fulfill their husbandly duties. Talal, a young man Shmulovich interviewed at the Queer Party, hopes to escape the region with his partner, both to avoid anti-gay persecution and to avoid imperiling the political career of his brother, an official with the Palestinian Authority:
It would be a major blow to his brother’s high-ranking position ... if the community found out about Talal’s sexuality. And so, the young couple plan to move abroad for a while, they told me, hopefully to Europe, to try to “live in freedom.”
Lesbians, who by virtue of their sex enjoy few freedoms in Palestinian society, seldom make the journey to Tel Aviv for the Queer Party.
Shmulovich recorded a few moments of the Queer Party on what appears to be a cell phone. The footage betrays none of the cloak-and-daggerishness of the affair; it could have been shot a at any gay club in the world. Watch AFTER THE JUMP ...