Friday, February 13, 2009

Historical articles, photos will highlight gay struggle

by Nicole C. Brambila

Steven Finger is not a gay historian.

He didn't even know what "Stonewall" was until he Googled it after voters approved Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban.

Most historians trace the beginning of the modern gay civil rights movement to a police raid in Greenwich Village that led to rioting at the Stonewall Inn in 1969.

But that year can't be right, he thought.

When he bought the Los Angeles Free Press a couple of years back, he flipped through the archives looking for "hippy news" but instead stumbled across story after story about gays in Southern California protesting and pressing for civil rights. Those stories were about two years before Stonewall.

Documented in black and white are the first gay church, gay marriages, a gay-in and gay protests against signs at Barney's Beanery that told gays to "stay out."

"Straights will say it's all about sex, not civil rights," said Finger, publisher and owner of the online alternative publication.

"But, a ... "stay out' sign is really like a 'whites only' sign. There really is no difference. It's as blatant a prejudice as can be.

"What we're talking about is more than history. There was a bona fide civil rights movement that's not looked at that way because there's even less tolerance for gays than for blacks.

"No one has the full history because no one had the full archives."

Finger will exclusively display several historical articles and photos from the late 1960s documenting the gay struggle for civil rights at 7 p.m. today at the Desert Pride Community Center in Palm Springs. The event is free to the public.

Same-sex marriage is an issue that resonates in the Palm Springs area, which boasts one of the largest gay communities per capita in the U.S.

More than 1,200 same-sex couples married in the valley between June 17, the first day gays could legally marry, and Nov. 4, when voters approved a gay marriage ban.

Jack Newby, Desert Pride Community Center executive director, said the articles are particularly poignant in light of the struggle for marriage equality.

"It allows us to view the setbacks with Proposition 8 in light of how far we've come," Newby said. "It shows us how far we've come in 40 years and how far we need to go."

Proposition 8

Proposition 8 was the voter initiative in November that overturned a state Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. The high court will consider whether to nullify the marriage ban next month.

Proposition 8 passed with 52 percent of the vote statewide and 64 percent in Riverside County. Palm Springs was the only valley city to oppose the measure.

Since the ballot box defeat, gay community leaders have spoken critically of the No on Prop. 8 campaign, saying it didn't do enough to frame the vote as a civil rights issue for black and Latino voters, who largely supported the measure, according to exit polls.

"This is going to come up for a vote again and unless the public understands that this is a civil rights issue, they're going to vote it down," Finger said.

Established in 1964 and now headquartered in Palm Desert, the Free Press is often credited as being the nation's first underground newspaper.

Protesters Renew Fight For Gay Marriage

Same-Sex Couples Rally At Marriage Offices Across Nation In Annual Push For Equality

Same-sex couples seeking to wed showed up at marriage license counters nationwide Thursday to highlight a right they don't have in 48 states, part of an annual protest that took on renewed urgency given recent election setbacks.

In San Francisco, where same-sex marriage was legal for nearly five months last year before California voters approved a ban, many couples who came to City Hall had already tied the knot but wanted to express their gratitude and to show they're still part of the fight.

"All of our marriages are under the cloud of Proposition 8," said Stuart Gaffney, 45, referring to California's ballot initiative banning gay marriage. "Equality is an unfinished business in California."

In Las Vegas, couples gathered outside the downtown marriage bureau with signs that read "Don't hate my love" and "No laws on love." In New York, activists wore signs that said "Just Not Married." They were turned away empty-handed in both places when they asked for marriage licenses.

Wowwee’s Top 10 Love-Starved Androids (and yeah, the toys are on sale)

by Jason Perlow1266_lyn_robot_fulla

I get a lot of stupid pitches from PR folks for Tech Broiler. Most of them I ignore and go directly into the bit bucket. But as tomorrow is Valentine's day, this one particular well-thought distraction from the guys over at Wowwee, makers of those neato robotic toys (which are fun for girls and boys) gets a free pass:

If man and mannequin can find true love (see 1987 Kim Cattrall classic Mannequin), whoever said robots can't love and cherish for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health?

After all, Ally Sheedy did aid and abet one and Lindsay Wagner played one…what's not to love?

It's been a long, sometimes rocky, road bringing robots from the fringe to mainstream, so on February 14th take a moment to reflect on those forgotten heroes. Here's our Top 10 Robots in Need of Some Lovin':

1. Robby the Robot (Forbidden Planet)

2. Dot Matrix (Space Balls)

3. Johnny 5 (Short Circuit)

4. Vicki (Small Wonder)

5. Robot B9 (Lost in Space)

6. Jaime Sommers (The Bionic Woman)

7. Hal (2001: Space Odyssey)

8. Bishop (Aliens)

9. ED-209 (Robocop)

10. Bender Bending Rodriguez (Futurama)

And, oh yeah, their cool robot toys are on sale. I particularly like the Tri-bot thing, and his girlfriend Femisapien is half price (oh, what a deal!). My nephews got one for Christmas last year from us, and they love it.

Now, being a bit of a Sci-Fi dork, and having an opinion on the matter, I have to take exception to Wowwee's list. Not that I have issues with the particular order, but some of these robots just don't belong there.

robbie-the-robot-20020500 by you.First of all Robby The Robot has to be one of the most loved and most famous robots in all of classic golden age 1950s and 1960's Sci-Fi. He's been in more movies and TV episodes than any other robot you can possibly imagine, pretty much guaranteeing he's had more interaction with back stage assistants giving him tons of lube jobs and polishing his various rotator joints than any other robot in show biz, short of C3PO and R2D2.  I'm also pretty sure I've seen him grasping some screaming blonde or red-headed bink in a tight fitting space suit a couple of times on film, so I think it's safe to say he's gotten some.

Rachel Maddow's Amazing Rise from Geek to Big-Time Cable News Host

By Louise France


Maddow is a clever, idealistic and skeptical geek, and her growing audience can't get enough.

America's latest media darling -- not counting the one in the White House -- is kneeling on the floor like a big kid, scribbling notes on a scrap of paper. In eight hours' time 35-year-old Rachel Maddow will be sitting alone, in front of a teleprompter, about to present the highbrow political television program which bears her name.

For the moment she's brainstorming ideas with her production team. What should they focus on? President Obama's proposed closure of Guantanamo? The 45,000 jobs lost before nine o'clock this morning? The banking meltdown? More troops in Afghanistan? There's a level of intense and nerdy discussion in the room which makes John Humphrys and James Naughtie look like Ant and Dec. This isn't the kind of cheery material for which American television is generally known. But these are changing times, and The Rachel Maddow Show has become an unlikely hit.

Rachel Maddow -- in her own words a mannish lesbian policy wonk who doesn't own a television set -- is not your average anchorwoman in America, or indeed on this side of the Atlantic. Later today when she goes live on air she must swap her Red Sox T-shirt and baggy Levi's jeans for what she calls "lady clothes" -- a bland slate-grey trouser suit. (She won't say who it's by for fear of insulting the designer.) Her chunky Eric Morecambe glasses will be exchanged for contact lenses (which she's still getting used to). Reluctantly, there will be the merest smear of lipstick and blusher. She will, however, cling on to her trainers, safely out of sight under the desk. (The stylists at American Vogue recently offered her an array of extravagantly high-heeled Louboutin shoes for a photo shoot. She insisted on a pair of Converse boots.)


Radical extremist Avigdor Lieberman has become the kingmaker in forming the next Israeli government. The agenda: bombing Iran, crushing Hamas in Gaza, stopping negotiations and cracking down on Israeli Arabs -- even denying citizenship to those who speak their minds.

But many progressives in Israel share our feelings, Jews and Arabs too -- and they desperately need our help today.

$50,000 could support up to ten young activists to mobilise tens of thousands of other Israelis over the coming year - just $5000 would buy billboards in Jerusalem to launch their first campaign with a splash.

If 10,000 of us can give $10 (€8) each we'll be able to fund a major effort reaching all of Israel's constituencies -- let's give whatever we can afford right now to beat the extremists and help a new generation in Israel organise for peace, justice and change.

If global warming were caused by aliens

Court Awards Votes to Franken in Coleman's U.S. Senate Election Contest in MN

Even as the Republican argues to include ballots of voters who forged signatures and ballots they previously rejected

While Norm Coleman may believe that "God wants [him] to serve," the voters of MN, and a ruling yesterday from the 3-judge panel presiding over his U.S. Senate election contest, still seem to indicate otherwise.

Yes, at it turns out, something actually happened during Coleman's ongoing trial yesterday, and it resulted in still more votes for Al Franken.

That, and other late developments follow...

Franken Gets 24 More

A ruling from the court [PDF], found that some 24 Franken voters who'd filed to have their rejected absentee ballots counted, could, in fact, now have them counted. Eric Kleefeld of TPM does the heavy lifting for us on this one...

The Minnesota election court has now taken some kind of meaningful action, handing down a ruling [PDF] on a summary judgment motion that will now allow the counting of some --- but not all --- of a group of Franken-voters who filed a motion to have their rejected ballots counted. The ruling gives us some hints as to where things will go from here --- and it's not good news for Norm Coleman.

Out of over 60 voters who filed this motion, the court is ordering just 24 ballots to be counted at this time. The opinion lays out a pretty stringent standard for letting previously-rejected ballots in: It has to be demonstrated that the voter either fully complied with the relevant laws and procedures, and thus the rejection was wholly a clerical error, or that any actual non-compliance was credibly the fault of the election official.

An example of this second category would be if a voter pro-actively asked whether they were registered to vote, were told yes and provided an absentee ballot for a registered voter, but it turned out they really needed to re-register. This is a tough standard to meet, and will mean that the number of people who qualify for it will be a fairly limited number.
So how does this relate to Norm Coleman's chances? He's currently fishing in a pool of nearly 4,800 rejected ballots, trying to get a bunch of them in. But this ruling seems to indicate he's not going to get very many of them in --- indeed, these 60 were some of Franken's best cases, and he's only scored on just over a third of them. Norm is casting a much wider net, so the success rate will probably be far lower.

The additional 24 votes (actually, just 23 for the moment, since a question still remains about one of them), will not be added to the official total immediately, as the Franken camp has declined to do so until after the trial has run its full course. So the official tally still remains Franken +225 over Coleman, for the moment.

Ben and Jerry's Bush Memorial Flavors

by greendem

Ben & Jerry's ice cream created "Yes Pecan!" ice cream flavor for Obama.

This got a lot of people thinking.

What other flavors might have political resonance?

They then asked people to come up with a George W. Bush memorial flavor.

Some of the best responses:

- Grape Depression - Abu Grape - Cluster Fudge - Nut'n Accomplished - Iraqi Road - Chock 'n Awe - WireTapioca - Impeach Cobbler - Guantanmallow - imPeachmint - Good Riddance You Lousy Motherfucker... Swirl - Heck of a Job, Brownie! - Neocon Politan - RockyRoad to Fascism - The Reese's-cession - Cookie D'oh! - The Housing Crunch - Nougalar Proliferation - Death by Chocolate... and Torture - Freedom Vanilla Ice Cream - Chocolate Chip On My Shoulder - You're Shitting In My Mouth And Calling It A Sundae - Credit Crunch - Mission Pecanplished - Country Pumpkin - Chunky Monkey in Chief - George Bush Doesn't Care About Dark Chocolate - WMDelicious - Chocolate Chimp - Bloody Sundae - Caramel Preemptive Stripe - I broke the law and am responsible for the deaths of thousands...with

This is your body on pot

Let's give Michael Phelps a pass


Does anyone remember Eleanor Holm?

If you don't, it is understandable. But with half the world seemingly concerned about Michael Phelps, it seems appropriate to recall the stunning, blonde 100-meter backstroke champion of the 1932 Olympics whose consumption of a few glasses of champagne and late night dice playing with sportswriters in 1936 cost her a repeat of her earlier gold medal triumph.

On the boat over to the Berlin games, Holm ran afoul of Avery Brundage, the strait-laced, sanctimonious U.S. Olympic czar whose unrealistic defense of amateur standing probably cost U. S. athletes more victories over the years than any other single thing. He saw Holm as a threat to his ideals of how an athlete should act in or out of competition and kicked her off the team, sacrificing her to his own ideals about personal behavior.

There have been arguments over the years as to how much champagne the beauteous swimming star, who was later to become the wife of legendary showman Billy Rose and a movie and aquacade celebrity, actually consumed. A doctor on the boat charged she was suffering from acute alcohol poisoning. Holm vigorously disputed that, saying she had drunk only a couple of glasses during a toast to the team. Nevertheless, she sat helplessly in the stands as a Dutch swimmer won the event she was an odds-on favorite to capture a second time.

While the circumstances of her infamy are quite different than Phelps' or those who have violated strict anti-doping rules, Holm felt the pain of public scorn up until her death at age 91 in 2004.

LiteratEye: George Washington Lied About Taxes

by W.J. Elvin III

Prepare to be shocked and appalled

Minute Book 1756 page 463Few believe, surely, that George Washington never told a lie, or even that he confessed to chopping down one of his father's cherry trees, as his early biographer Parson Mason Locke Weems suggested. Weems saw nothing wrong with a bit of fabrication when it served his purposes. Neither, for that matter, did Washington.

Well, if that's so, what lie did George Washington tell? Name one. No doubt revisionist historians could provide a few dozen, but up until recently I certainly couldn't have done it. I ran across this little nugget while researching other matters in old newspapers, the sort of thing I do in putting together Fiona, a magazine about literary fraud and folly.

I ran my discovery past Rick Shenkman, editor of History News Network, and he replied that there is no mention of it in the papers of George Washington. I don't know if that means "and therefore it's a crock," or perhaps "good for you, you've rescued a valuable anecdote from the dustbin of history." Possibly neither.

The Amazing, Incredible, Shrinking, Colossal, Bikini-Crazed CREATURE FROM THE PUBLIC DOMAIN

Film Hound's E. Mitchell has a new film/humor book out entitled "The Amazing, Incredible, Shrinking, Colossal, Bikini-Crazed CREATURE FROM THE PUBLIC DOMAIN."

*Soon to be a bestseller! (as soon as 50,000 people buy it).

*Oprah loved it! (my neighbor's dog "Oprah" chewed the cover enthusiastically).

So find out what the excitement is all about (and then read my book): Creature info

Legal Guide for Bloggers

Whether you're a newly minted blogger or a relative old-timer, you've been seeing more and more stories pop up every day about bloggers getting in trouble for what they post.

Like all journalists and publishers, bloggers sometimes publish information that other people don't want published. You might, for example, publish something that someone considers defamatory, republish an AP news story that's under copyright, or write a lengthy piece detailing the alleged crimes of a candidate for public office.

The difference between you and the reporter at your local newspaper is that in many cases, you may not have the benefit of training or resources to help you determine whether what you're doing is legal. And on top of that, sometimes knowing the law doesn't help - in many cases it was written for traditional journalists, and the courts haven't yet decided how it applies to bloggers.

But here's the important part: None of this should stop you from blogging. Freedom of speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Internet bullies shouldn't use the law to stifle legitimate free expression. That's why EFF created this guide, compiling a number of FAQs designed to help you understand your rights and, if necessary, defend your freedom.

To be clear, this guide isn't a substitute for, nor does it constitute, legal advice. Only an attorney who knows the details of your particular situation can provide the kind of advice you need if you're being threatened with a lawsuit. The goal here is to give you a basic roadmap to the legal issues you may confront as a blogger, to let you know you have rights, and to encourage you to blog freely with the knowledge that your legitimate speech is protected.

Please note that this guide applies to people living in the US. We don't have the expertise or resources to speak to other countries' legal traditions, but we'd like to work with those who do. If you know of a similar guide for your own jurisdiction or feel inspired to research and write one, please let us know. We can link to it here.

Press body urges Obama to back journalists' rights

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – A journalism watchdog called on President Barack Obama on Tuesday to halt open-ended detentions of journalists by the U.S. military, saying they encouraged similar action by repressive governments.

The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists also called for fuller investigations of the deaths of journalists killed by U.S. forces.

The group's chairman, Paul Steiger, told a news conference that U.S. support for journalists' right to do their work without being shot at or imprisoned had slipped in recent years under the administration of former President George W. Bush.

"America has always stood as a beacon for freedom of the press, and I think it would be a great time for a new administration coming in to reaffirm those principles," he said.

The Obama administration, which took office last month, should pledge to "take care to investigate the deaths of journalists from fire by American troops and to make sure that this is indeed accidental and to end the practice of long-term incarceration of journalists without charge, such as has regrettably gone on in Iraq in recent years," Steiger added.

The committee made public a letter Steiger sent to Obama on January 12 saying the U.S. military had detained 14 journalists for long periods without due process in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Of these, all were eventually released without charge except for Ibrahim Jassam Mohammed, an Iraqi freelance photographer working for Reuters, who was detained in Iraq last September.;_ylt=Al203Ou3ZXdf36HLQG5H_vtxFb8C

Definition of congressional insanity!