Thursday, May 28, 2009

San Francisco: Must See Photos and Videos of Prop 8 Protest

Zombie has posted an incredible photo essay of the Tuesday protest in San Francisco against the California Supreme Court decision to uphold Prop 8. Some videos are also included. This one shows a Hispanic man on a bicycle who found himself caught in the rally. You can hear the white gay men screaming at him when he revealed that he opposed same-sex marriages, calling him a "f**king a**hole", etc. At the very end of the video, after he rides his bike away, you can hear one of the gay men who had screamed obscenities at him say "That was fun."

Zomboe has a great written analysis as well, including this:
The primary legal and social argument at the rally was to draw a close comparison between the civil rights movement of the '50s and the gay marriage movement of today; or, as this sign (and many similar signs) put it,
"Gay is the new Black!"

The goal is to position gay-marriage advocates as the defenders of civil rights, and to drag race into the discussion -- the implication being, the same type of racist bigots who opposed civil rights for Blacks 50 years ago are now opposing marriages for gays. ...
But hold on a minute. One of the main points of the civil rights movement was to guarantee that Black people have the right to vote, to get rid of Jim Crow laws which denied Blacks participation in the election process.

So, which side in this argument is trying to deny Black people the right to vote? When you consider that Black Californians overwhelmingly voted in favor of Proposition 8 (70% Yes vs. 30% No), not to mention that Hispanics also voted to ban gay marriage, whereas only white voters (by a narrow margin) voted against Prop. 8, one reaches a devastating conclusion: The white people at this rally are now trying to take away from minorities the power to vote. One could just as validly reverse the protesters' narrative and say that white Californians didn't like how the minorities voted, so the whites are trying to cancel the election and get their way by any means possible -- which entails negating the votes of Blacks and Hispanics. (Notice how 99% of the protest participants depicted in these pictures are white.)

Of course, the gay marriage post-election advocates don't like this narrative. Not one bit. And although I myself voted against Prop. 8, I am not joining in the move to have the election overturned -- which is why I distinguish "gay marriage post-election advocates" and "people at the protest" from gay marriage supporters in general.

I tagged along and eavesdropped on other reporters interviewing passersby; while most of the white interviewees were in favor of gay marriage, whenever a reporter interviewed a Black or Hispanic onlooker, most were unapologetic in their opposition to gay marriage. Which confirms the findings of the opinion polls published after the election.

There are so many great photos. I selected this one because it wasn't obscene. I guess this is a man and transvestite man who want to be married. And they think any objection is bigotry.

See it all, read it all here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Is Murder #1 Cause of Death for Pregant Women?

Northern Plains Anglican has a post up that refers to the risk of murder for pregnant women. I remembered that I had heard that murder was the #1 cause of death of pregnant women in Washington, D.C. and some other cities. I wondered if this was "urban legend" or fact, and decided to check.

Here's a May 2009 article from Baltimore news channel that says that murder is the #1 cause of death for pregnant women in Maryland, and sources this to a specific person at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene:
Across Maryland, pregnant women are being killed at an alarming rate. Forty-one pregnant women have been murdered in Maryland since researchers began keeping track in the 90s.

"We were completely shocked to find that homicide was the leading cause of death," said Isabelle Horon, Md. Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene.

The majority of these victims are young, single and African-American.

In December 2004, the Washington Post did a three part series on the murder of pregnant women. The lead article includes this:
Five years ago in Maryland, state health researchers Isabelle Horon and Diana Cheng set out to study maternal deaths, using sophisticated methods to spot dozens of overlooked cases in their state. They assumed they would find more deaths from medical complications than the state's statistics showed. The last thing they expected was murder.

But in their study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2001, they wrote that in Maryland, "a pregnant or recently pregnant woman is more likely to be a victim of homicide than to die of any other cause."

"It was a huge surprise," said Horon, who recalls paperwork covering the researchers' kitchen tables on weekends and evenings as they sought to understand the astonishing numbers. "We thought we had to have made a mistake. We kept checking and checking and rechecking."

Their findings, as it turned out, were no error. Homicide accounted for 50 of 247 maternal deaths in Maryland over a six-year period -- more than 20 percent. It had caused more deaths than cardiovascular disorders, embolisms or accidents.

"People have this misconception that pregnancy is a safe haven," Cheng said.

Building upon the Maryland study and others, The Post contacted 50 states and the District for all possible data about maternal deaths during pregnancy or postpartum months. Few states track homicides in a comprehensive way, but many states could provide some data, mostly from death certificates. The Post combined what it collected with cases culled from other sources.

The resulting 1,367 maternal homicides took place over 14 years.

"That's a formidable number -- and that's just the tip," said Judith McFarlane, who studies violence and pregnancy at Texas Woman's University and who described the void of reliable numbers as "embarrassing." She observed: "You can't address a problem that we don't document. You can't reduce them. You can't prevent them. In essence, they don't exist."

The Post did an indepth study of one year of the homicides they found to try to understand the motives:
One recent year of homicides -- 2002 -- was examined in greater detail to get a closer look at how and why the cases happened. For a group of 72 homicides in 24 states, The Post interviewed family members, friends, prosecutors and police. The analysis showed that nearly two-thirds of the cases had a strong relation to pregnancy or involved a domestic-violence clash in which pregnancy may have been a factor.

The dead included Ceeatta Stewart-McKinnie, 23, a college student in Richmond who was beaten to death by her boyfriend. The couple had dated on and off for years, and she had had abortions previously, prosecutors said. This time, he was married -- and she refused to end her pregnancy. Turkey hunters found her bludgeoned body in the woods.

In Chicago, Chavanna Prather, 17, was a high school student who played basketball and worked part time at McDonald's. Prather became intimate with her manager at work, then became pregnant and asked for money for an abortion, police said. She was found dead in a river on the city's South Side. He awaits trial.

In Rochester, N.Y., Zaneta Browne, 29, was at odds with her married boyfriend about her pregnancy in 2002 when he shot her with a .22-caliber rifle. The killer and his wife secretly buried her on rural land, hoping no one would find out. Browne left three children behind. She was nearly four months pregnant with twins.

Louis R. Mizell, who heads a firm that tracks incidents of crime and terrorism, observed that "when husbands or boyfriends attack pregnant partners, it usually has to do with an unwillingness to deal with fatherhood, marriage, child support or public scandal."

In the article, Pat Brown, a criminal profiler based in Minneapolis explains:
"It is certainly a more dangerous moment in life. You are escalating people's responsibilities and curtailing their freedoms."

For some men, she said, the situation boils down to one set of unadorned facts: "If the woman doesn't want the baby, she can get an abortion. If the guy doesn't want it, he can't do a damn thing about it. He is stuck with a child for the rest of his life, he is stuck with child support for the rest of his life, and he's stuck with that woman for the rest of his life. If she goes away, the problem goes away."

Jack Levin of Northeastern University is quoted as explaining:
"It seems to me that these guys hope against hope for a miscarriage or an abortion, but when everything else fails, they take the life of the woman to avoid having the baby,"

Friday, May 22, 2009

Tuesday May 26: Million Gay Riot Planned if Cal Supreme Court Upholds Prop 8

Will we see a million gay riot next week? The California Supreme Court has announced that the decision on Proposition 8, upholding marriage as between and man and a woman, will be released Tuesday May 26th at 10 am. Gay activists have plans for "civil disobedience" protests against the ruling if it does not overturn Prop 8. (Overturning Prop 8 but validating the existing same sex marriages would not be enough to avoid the protests.)

In Los Angeles, the local gay press is begging those planning to protest to spare West Hollywood (WeHo). In an op-ed titled "Don’t Trash WeHo When Protesting Prop 8" the author writes:
Unfortunately, there have been rumblings that otherwise responsible, level-headed folk are gearing up to throw bricks.

Equality California (EQCA) sent an E mail yesterday that began, “The decision we have been waiting for is coming any day now. While we hope for the best, we are prepared to do whatever it takes to win marriage back (emphasis added),”

However, same news website also has an article linking to the Day of Decision website which is organizing:
“Day of Decision” actions that will either:

1. Celebrate a positive decision and attempt to spread its impact, or
2. If the court rules against us, make sure that our angry voices are heard around the world. Anger for denying an entire group of people their civil rights is perfectly legitimate and appropriate.(my emphasis added)

The Day of Decision website page for the plans for San Francisco has a link to One Struggle One Fight, the group that has been using the Prop 8 backlash to foment "civil disobedience".

(One Struggle, One Fight is a recipient of a grant from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. I've decided to add a label "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence" and connect my various posts that reference them.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Episcopal Community Services to be Beneficiary of the Folsom Street Fair

The official poster for this coming September's Folsom Street Fair has been released by the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization Folsom Street Events. The theme seems to be mocking traditional marriage and family life, I suppose in response to the passage of Prop 8.

If you click on the image you get a large version. You can see at the bottom that one of the beneficiaries of the event is Episcopal Community Services. The money will go to the local branch, which does good work. But I am disappointed to think that the Episcopal Church would be in any way affiliated with this event. Clearly by doing so, the Episcopal name goes on the official poster, which is making a mockery of traditional marriage.

The Folsom Street Fair is one of the few occasions when sadomasochistic activities are encouraged and performed in public and people publicly engage in sexual behavior. Here is the link to the ZombieTime photo essay of the 2007 Folsom Street Fair. You may remember that the 2007 Folsom Street Fair Poster was infamous for its mockery of the The Last Supper:

(Again, you can click to see a larger version, and the beneficiaries are listed on the bottom. As far as I can tell, Episcopal Community Services was not listed on this 2007 poster.)

Every year, our old friends, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence serve to guard the gates of the Folsom Street Fair. (Hmmm, I see Episcopal Community Services of SF is listed among those who have received a grant from "the sisters".)

So, why would Episcopal Community Services allow their brand to be associated with the Folsom Street Fair? Notice that the beneficiary organizations had to submit grant applications to become beneficiaries, so it took deliberate effort to become a beneficiary.

You don't suppose this is part of the new I Am Episcopalian marketing strategy, do you?

UPDATE: In response to a comment/question from Andy, I found that the San Francisco Hotel Tax is used to provide a $22,000 grant to support this event. You can see on the list on the link that the tax is also used to fund the San Francisco Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride Parade to the tune of $77,200.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Egypt: Conversion from Islam Threatens Social Order

Compass Direct has an interesting brief article on the status of the case of Maher Ahmad El-Mo’otahssem Bellah El-Gohary, the man who sought to have his official government identity card changed to reflect his conversion to Christianity. The good news is that the lawyers are hopeful:
In the dilapidated office here of three lawyers representing one of Egypt’s “most wanted” Christian converts, the mood was hopeful in spite of a barrage of death threats against them and their client. At a court hearing on May 2, a judge agreed to a request by the convert from Islam to join the two cases he has opened to change his ID card to reflect his new faith. The court set June 13 as the date to rule on Maher Ahmad El-Mo’otahssem Bellah El-Gohary’s case, and lawyer Nabil Ghobreyal said he was hopeful that progress thus far will lead to a favorable ruling.

The bad news is this government report:
At the same time, El-Gohary’s lawyers termed potentially “catastrophic” for Egyptian human rights a report sent to the judge by the State Council, a consultative body of Egypt’s Administrative Court. Expressing outrage at El-Gohary’s “audacity” to request a change in the religious designation on his ID, the report claims the case is a threat to societal order and violates sharia (Islamic law). “This [report] is bombarding freedom of religion in Egypt,” said lawyer Said Faiz. “They are insisting that the path to Islam is a one-way street. The entire report is based on sharia.”

HatTip: Women Against Shariah

Saturday, May 9, 2009

2.5% of USA GDP Loss Attributed to Changing the Rules

I am posting a comment I read over at Little Green Footballs:
Cato5/08/2009 10:40:16 am PDT

The other day I attended a conference sponsored by a major bank's private banking group for its high net worth clients in the real estate industry. I saw there probably a dozen people and families that at one time or another had a billion dollar net worth. The most recognizable name was Sam Zell, but to me there were a lot more interesting people whose exploits have become the lore of the business in NY. I wanted to share some of the discussion because even I had not appreciated how in 100 days the president had permanently alienated this group.

The conference started with a professor of the Wharton School noting that: "The US is now no different from Russia or Zimbabwe in the eyes of investors since no one can rely on the law anymore."

He said this started with Bush but quickened with Obama. Using some econometric models he demonstrated that 2.5 pct GDP loss was contributed by changing the rules alone.

A variety of other speakers from public and private institutions demonstrated how capital was flying from the US as we speak.

But the most interesting was lunch. There were probably 90 people at lunch. Someone asked a couple of questions and then asked how many people voted for Obama. About 80 pct raised their hands. Then they asked whether they would do it again. No hands.

He asked for volunteers to explain why. In a word, the answer was Chrysler. Knowing the people involved, Israel would be the answer next time.

"The rule of absolute priority has been violated. If the government can change my lien's priority, I won't lend and I won't borrow."

"He's a thug. What president inserts his office into a bankruptcy?"

"I hear that the company doesn't have to pay back the TARP money that Congress voted against giving them. So my tax money went to buy the UAW control."

"Yeah," responded another. "I am not going to pay my taxes to go to the union. I hear Namibia doesn't have extradition laws. Screw the government."

One guy who voted for McCain and who was a lawyer who became a developer said, "I didn't vote for him because he could have done anything out of law school, but instead became a community organizer. It means he wanted remain uneducated about either business or the law. He is purposefully unknowing."

"He has violated his fiduciary duty to the people. He permitted that atrocity of a budget and now he gives tax money to a union"

"I hate the crazy religious republican nuts and I'm forced to give money to them."

Since I never supported the President, I do not feel betrayed. But there was a palpable sense of betrayal by this very, very rich group who largely voted for him.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

100% of UK Muslims Say Gay Sex Unacceptable But Violent Acts May Be OK

Ruth Gledhill reports in The Times on an interesting new Gallup Poll in partnership with the Coexist Foundation that provides responses to questions that indicate the degree of integration of Muslims in France, Germany and the UK. There were some interesting differences between the response of the Muslims and the general population in the countries to some questions about moral issues.

There were five questions about sexual morality. The statistics below are from pages 33-35 of the report. I've added in a calculation of the "gap" for each country on each question and bolded the gap for the country with the largest gap on each question. The responses confirmed the stereotypes that the French are more tolerant of married men and women having affairs and that the Germans are most tolerant of pornography. The Muslims in each country seem to have adapted a little to the local context, but we do see the gap is greatest in France on the married affair and in Germany on pronography. For each of the other three questions, the UK had the widest gap.

Now I'm going to read to you a list. Please tell me whether you PERSONALLY BELIEVE that it is MORALLY acceptable or MORALLY wrong?
% who say "morally acceptable"

Homosexual acts

France- General Population 78%
France- Muslims 35%
France Gap - 43%

Germany-General Population 68%
Germany- Muslims 19%
Germany Gap - 49%

United Kingdom- General Population 58%
United Kingdom- Muslims 0%
United Kingdom Gap - 58%


France- General Population 78%
France- Muslims 35%
France Gap - 43%

Germany-General Population 47%
Germany- Muslims 19%
Germany Gap - 28%

United Kingdom- General Population 55%
United Kingdom- Muslims 5%
United Kingdom Gap - 50%

Viewing pornography

France- General Population 43%
France- Muslims 16%
France Gap - 27%

Germany-General Population 58%
Germany- Muslims 18%
Germany Gap - 40%

United Kingdom- General Population 35%
United Kingdom- Muslims 1%
United Kingdom Gap - 34%

Sex Between an unmarried man and woman

France- General Population 90%
France- Muslims 48%
France Gap - 42%

Germany-General Population 88%
Germany- Muslims 27%
Germany Gap - 61%

United Kingdom- General Population 82%
United Kingdom- Muslims 3%
United Kingdom Gap - 79%

Married men and women having an affair

France- General Population 46%
France- Muslims 14%
France Gap - 32%

Germany-General Population 24%
Germany- Muslims 6%
Germany Gap - 18%

United Kingdom- General Population 15%
United Kingdom- Muslims 2%
United Kingdom Gap - 13%

The widest gap of all was in the UK on the question of unmarried men and women having sex. Only 3% of Muslims thought that was morally acceptable while 82% of the general UK population thought it was acceptable, leaving a gap of 79%.

The difference in the responses becomes problematic when we consider the possibility that social control may be implemented through violent means. Another question about morality on page 33 addressed the death penalty, and we see that in the UK, the Muslims are unusually prone to support the death penalty:
Now I'm going to read to you a list. Please tell me whether you PERSONALLY BELIEVE that it is MORALLY acceptable or MORALLY wrong?
% who say "morally acceptable"

Death Penalty

France- General Population 35%
France- Muslims 24%

Germany-General Population 27%
Germany- Muslims 27%

United Kingdom- General Population 50%
United Kingdom- Muslims 63%

The Muslims in the UK show an unusually high level of support for the death penalty. Now consider the results for this question about violent acts from page 40:
There are many acts some people may do in life. I will read out to you a number of these acts, and I would like you to indicate to what extent it can be morally justified.
Scale of 1 to 5 with:
1=Cannot be justified at all and 5 =Completely justifiable

Use of violence for a noble cause

French Muslims 1=75%, 2=6%, 3=12%, 4=1%, 5=5%

German Muslims 1=80%, 2=5%, 3=10%, 4=1%, 5=2%

British Muslims 1=48%, 2=3%, 3=13%, 4=31%, 5=6%

Only 6% of French Muslims and 3% of German Muslims answered that violence for a noble cause is almost completely or completely justified. But there are 37% of British Muslims answering that violence for a noble cause is almost completely or completely justified.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

San Francisco: Constant Battle Against Bedbugs

In addition to concerns about old diseases coming back, we have insects I thought were "myths" turning out to exist. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that bedbugs are real, and they are real hard to get rid of:
When she and her husband moved into an upscale apartment in an "emerging" neighborhood near Civic Center, Katie Beckheyer may have had some concerns about crime, gritty streets and panhandlers. But she never expected what would be the real nightmare.


"I am covered in itchy red welts," she said in an e-mail, "and drained to the core from six months of insomnia, paranoia (I wake up every morning at 3 a.m., searching my sheets for signs of them feeding on me) and incessant itching."

Beckheyer had their apartment sprayed six times. But they were still getting bitten, so they finally paid for one last treatment to make sure their belongings were clean, and then moved out.

Before you extend sympathetic wishes to the poor folks who are infested with bedbugs, here's a piece of advice - better check your mattress.

Like the rest of the country, San Francisco is experiencing a bedbug boom. Dr. Johnson Ojo of the Department of Public Health said bedbugs are popping up everywhere, from "low-income housing to high-priced hotels."

It's an all-out war on the tiny, creepy, blood-sucking predators. And the bugs are winning.

Read it all.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Support for Abortion Declines by Almost 10%

The most recent poll from the Pew Research Center has some interesting news. Support for abortion has gone done in the last year so that we no longer have a majority who say abortion should be legal in most or all cases:

Hat Tip Mollie at Get Religion