Thursday, April 30, 2009

Amsterdam Park Designates Areas for Gay Sex

De Oeverlanden park in Slotervaart in Amsterdam is posting signs designating the areas where "gay cruising" occurs. Apparently "gay cruising" includes both finding partners and engaging in sex acts. According to Agence France-Presse, the municipal spokeswoman Manon Koffijberg explained:
The sexual activities of cruisers, she said, kept mostly to the bushes in the park, and the new signs sought to ensure that they stayed there.

"There are various groups of users of the park; people with small children who bathe on the beaches, those who walk their dogs, gays cruising and nature lovers," said Ms Koffijberg.

"Things are arranged so that each group can relax in their own area without intruding on each other."

But this doesn't mean the law against having sex in public has been revoked:
Ms Koffijberg said that while having sex in public was against the law, the park has been used for this purpose for so long that it has become "gedoog", a Dutch word for tolerating unwanted behaviour.

This seems very coy. The word "cruising" is used on the signs and is commonly not understood to include actual sexual acts. So the park is not actually officially sanctioning illegal behavior with these signs. The park is not sanctioning gay sex, only gay cruising. But, the municipal official understands that the cruising will be followed by sexual activities "kept mostly to the bushes". The implied reason is provided at the end of the article:
There had been recent complaints of gay bashing in the Slotervaart area, populated by a large group of immigrants of Muslim origin, with reports of robberies and violence against gay men in De Oeverlanden park.

This reminds me of the Telegraph news article I read about on Stand Firm last year requiring dog owners to keep their dogs on leashes so the dogs would not disturb the gay men having sex.
Mr van Grieken stresses that tolerance to "cruising" gays, aimed at protecting homosexuals from violence, will have "strict rules attached".

"Thus, condoms must always be cleared away, it must never take place in the neighbourhood of children's playgrounds and the sex must be restricted to the evening and night-time," he said.

In both cases, it seems that public sexual activity is being permitted and facilitated with the motivation being to protect gays against violence.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Shared Genetic Variation for 65% of People with Autism

The Los Angeles Times is reporting on a new study published in the journal Nature:
The first of two Nature studies released Tuesday found that 65% of autistic participants shared a variation between cadherin 10 and cadherin 9, a region of the genome that controls cell-adhesion molecules in the brain. Those molecules help brain cells connect, and autism researchers have long suspected that trouble there may be linked to the disorder.

However, as Science News reports on the study, the variation is also shared by more than half of of people without autism:
One of the new studies encompasses more than 14,000 people and has uncovered a variant found in about 65 percent of people with autism. More than half of people without autism or related disorders also have the variant, indicating that other genes and environmental factors are necessary to trigger autism. Still, the variant may account for up to 15 percent of autism cases, a team led by researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, also in Philadelphia, reports online April 28 in Nature.

Some people have suspected that the mercury was used as a preservative in some children's vaccines was the environmental factor triggering the increase in the number of autistic children. This theory has been discredited, but no competing theory has been provided. What explains the high incidence of autism among Somali children in Minnesota?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Lila Rose visits Planned Parenthood in Memphis TN

Lila Rose visits Planned Parenthood in Memphis TN.

The LA Times has an great article about Lila Rose that includes the information that she is working from the Saul Alinsky playbook Rules for Radicals:
They also found an unlikely source of inspiration: "Rules for Radicals," a handbook on grass-roots organizing by Saul Alinsky, a legendary left-wing activist who was an inspiration to President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Among Alinsky's most famous admonitions is one that O'Keefe said he and Rose took to heart: "Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules."

Hat Tip Mollie at Get Religion

Swine Flu from Cancun

I've been noticing that the cases of swine flu in Sacramento, New York and Nova Scotia seem to have been contracted from Cancun and the Yucatan Peninsula. Cancun is the large tourist destination of the Yucatan Peninsula.
UPDATE: Add the cases in Vancouver and Scotland to those contracted in Cancun.

As the San Jose Mercury News reports:
Dawn and Iain Askham became ill over the weekend, a few days after returning from Cancun.
And from the Vancouver Sun:
Ryan said he flew to Cancun on April 14 with a friend, but began feeling sick before his return flight last Wednesday.

The cases of swine flu in New York are associated with a trip to Cancun, according to the Sun Times:
Some of the Queens students had recently traveled to Cancun.

And from this San Francisco Chronicle article:
A seventh-grader at St. Mel who recently returned from a family vacation to Cancun, Mexico, felt ill last Monday and went home. On Wednesday, a classmate also missed school with flulike symptoms, and by Friday seven students were out, including four who complained of flulike symptoms, said Kevin Eckery, a spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento.

Note that it is not yet confirmed that this Sacramento case is swine flu

The Nova Scotia cases are also associated with the Yucatan Peninsula although the city of Cancun is not specifically mentioned:
Earlier, Nova Scotia's chief public health officer, Dr. Robert Strang, said the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg confirmed late Saturday that four young people in the province are recovering from "relatively mild" cases of the H1N1 virus.
Strang said the four are between the ages of 12 and 18 and all attend King's-Edgehill School in Windsor, N.S. However, only one of those students had been on a recent school trip to Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, headmaster Joe Seagram later told reporters.

Monday, April 20, 2009

More Cases of Measles in US Capitol

Are you as surprised as I am to see these old childhood diseases are not eradicated in our nation's capitol? The Washington Post is reporting that there have been five cases of measles in the region this year:
Health officials said today that a D.C. man was diagnosed with measles late last week, prompting authorities to retrace the his steps throughout the area to identify anyone else who may have exposed to the highly infectious disease and prevent it from spreading further.

This is the fifth case of measles in the region this year, but it is not related to the other cases. Still, the rare outbreak has prompted health officials in the District, Virginia and Maryland to focus on the small pockets of unimmunized individuals: Mostly, babies who have not yet been vaccinated and people who were born outside the U.S.

The District man contracted the virus during a three-week trip to India but did not show symptoms until after he returned home, said D.C. Department of Health Director Pierre Vigilance. Doctors believe the man's wife also has measles but they are still awaiting test results. Vigilance said the man had never been immunized, but wouldn't comment on his citizenship or why he had not been immunized.

Over at Little Green Footballs, Charles Johnson has been posting stories about people who don't get there children vaccinated because of concerns that the mercury in the vaccinations may cause autism. Some of the commenters have noted that in some Islamic communities, people are also suspicious of vaccinations.

This Washington Post article indicates that there is a problem of adults who have not been vaccinated because they are from countries where vaccinations are not normative. The Washington Post article does say that vaccinations are required to get citizenship and for children entering public school. I think most private schools also require the vaccinations.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Afghan Women Slaves of Radical Islam?

Anglican Pewster had sent me this video from NBC Nightly News on the courageous women in Afghanistan who are protesting the government's new marriage language.

Yesterday's Wall Street Journal had an op/ed piece Speaking Truth to Muslim Power that included these words:
We may not choose to dispatch the U.S. Navy to protect women's rights, as the British once sent men-of-war to put down the Muslim slave trade, but we can underscore clearly our disdain for men who see "child brides" as something vouchsafed by the Almighty. There is probably no issue that angers militants more than women's rights. Advancing this cause in traditional Muslim societies caught in the merciless whirlwind of globalization isn't easy, but no effort is likely to bear more fruit in the long term than having American officials become public champions of women's rights in Muslim lands.

Wouldn't it be terrific if our First Lady, Michelle Obama, and/or our Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton could take up this cause? I am thinking that they cannot, because somehow the Democrats have a political strategy that requires ignoring this women's rights issue. In a weird way, doesn't that make them slaves, too.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Afghan Men Hurl Stones "Death to the Slaves of Christians"

The Daily Mail Online reports:
Some 300 Afghan women have been pelted by stones as they gathered to protest a new law that critics say legalises marital rape. Police struggled to keep counter-protesters away.

The law says a husband can demand sex with his wife every four days unless she is ill or would be harmed by intercourse. It passed last month.

Women's rights activists scheduled a protest today attended by about 300 mostly young women.

But the group was swamped by counter-protesters who shouted down the women's chants.

Some of the protesting men picked up gravel and stones and threw them at the women.

The men shouted 'Death to the slaves of the Christians!'

Female police held hands around the group to create a protective barrier.

Hat Tip Jihad Watch

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Is China Aborting Its Baby Girls?

Today the New York Times reported on a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ)on the imbalance in the the number of boys and girls in China. The study claims that there are 32 million more boys under the age of 20 than girls. The imbalance is attributed to selective abortion of girls in China due to the preference for girls and China's one child policy.

We do know there is a strong preference for girls in China. The New York Times actually did an article last Sunday on boy children being abducted in China and sold to other families there. According to that article, "most of the boys are purchased domestically by families desperate for a male heir, parents of abducted children and some law enforcement officials who have investigated the matter say."

But are girl babies really being aborted in China in large numbers?

We can imagine it might be true because infanticide was common in China in the early 20th century and we do know the orphanages were a substitute for that practice and filled up with girl babies.

But the article says the imbalance is greatest in the rural area and I am skeptical that the ultrasound equipment needed to practice selective abortion is so available in rural areas. One possible alternative explanation is that the people in rural China are still practicing infanticide, waiting for the birth to determine the sex and then leaving female babies out to die.

Alternatively, the ratio may be due to the difference in the the registering of female and male babies. The BMJ study is based on the 2005 census. As I understand it, this reflects registered population. A study published in the American Journal of Public Health ten years ago showed that the excess ratio of boys disappeared when actual household surveys were done.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Students disciplined for praying can sue

Another public California community college is being sued for its treatment of religious expression by students. In this case, the students were threatened with suspension and future expulsion for having prayed in view of a teacher, as far as I can tell. Apparently the threatening letters that were sent to the students did not explain the offense. When the students sued, the college sought to have the case dismissed. The good news in this morning's San Francisco Chronicle is that a federal judge has ruled that the students may sue the college:

Two students who were threatened with suspension at the College of Alameda after one of them prayed with an ailing teacher in a faculty office can sue the community college district for allegedly violating their freedom of speech, a federal judge has ruled.

The students, Kandy Kyriacou and Ojoma Omaga, said college officials at first told them they were being suspended for "disruptive behavior," then held disciplinary hearings and sent them letters warning that they would be punished if they prayed in a teacher's office again.

The women sued, and U.S. District Judge Susan Illston ruled in San Francisco that their case could proceed, saying a college student has the right to pray in private outside the classroom.

The students are represented by the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI). According to the PJI website:
Just before Christmas, 2007, two students at the College of Alameda, Kandy Kyriacou and Ojoma Omaga, were sent letters declaring the school's intent to suspend them, and warning that further infractions could result in expulsion. The students at first thought the letters were a mistake, since they never stated how the students had violated school policies. School officials later said that Kandy was disciplined for praying outside of class for a sick teacher who bowed her head to receive the prayer. Ojoma was not part of that prayer, and her only offense appears to be that she met Kandy afterward within view of another teacher who complained.

When the College of Alameda refused to rescind the suspension letters or give the students clues as to what future prayers might get them expelled, PJI attorneys filed suit. Last week, U.S. District Judge Susan Illston rejected the College's attempts to dismiss the case, agreeing with the students that their allegations had merit.

PJI affiliate attorneys Steven N.H. Wood and Christopher J. Schweickert, of the Walnut Creek firm Bergquist, Wood and Anderson, LLP, represent the students along with PJI. Steven Wood commented, "To this day, the College of Alameda has never provided a real explanation for its threats to expel these students. But it has disciplined them for non-disruptive, private prayer between consenting adults. We will not stand by and let a college trample these fundamental rights."

Los Angeles City College is being sued over the treatment of a student who made a Christian speech to satisfy an assignment in his Speech class. The Alliance Defense Fund is representing that student, Jonathan Lopez.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Golf Ball Walks On Water for Hole in One

Vijay Singh makes hole in one on practice round Tuesday at Augusta National Golf Course. Watch his ball bounce off the surface of the lake and onto the green, rolling back into the hole in this video by Andres Lopez.

As Bill Byler described it in the Augusta Chronicle:
A big roar erupted Tuesday afternoon when Vijay Singh made a hole-in-one at the par-3 16th hole -- by skipping his shot across the water.

Players often indulge fans by skipping their tee shots across the pond that guards the green, but Singh set a standard that is unlikely to be matched.

According to a tournament official, Singh's ball skipped across the water, hit the bank, landed on the green and rolled about 15 feet into the cup.

Playing partner Ken Duke teed it up after Singh, but he thought better of trying to match the 2000 Masters Tournament winner's feat and put his ball into his pocket.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I guess Robin Tyler's plans for a Million Gay March are moving forward. Yesterday SoulForce, the LGBT group that "visits" conservative churches, and Join the Impact, the GLBT group organized in the aftermath of the passage of Prop 8, announced that they have formed a coalition to "take it to the streets" to demand same sex marriage.

In other news, the civil disobedience five day March to Sacramento to demand gay marriage was a bomb. Only 150 people showed up for the rally Monday at the State Capitol according to KCRA. The event was billed as "One Struggle One Fight" and had a civil rights focus to show solidarity with oppressed minority groups, claiming:
"We're not just here for same-sex marriage...we're trying to build a movement and to support others in their fight for social & economic justice!"
But failed to take into account that the legislative offices would be closed Monday for the Cesar Chavez holiday.