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Pope Francis met privately with Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, Vatican confirms

Pope Francis met with Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis during the pope’s visit to the United States, the Vatican confirmed.

“I do not deny that the meeting took place, but I have no comments to add,” Rev. Manuel Dorantes, a spokesman for the Vatican, told The Washington Post on Wednesday.

The meeting between Davis, who went to jail for six days after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and the pope was announced late Tuesday by Liberty Counsel, a religious freedom nonprofit that is representing the elected Rowan County clerk in her ongoing legal struggles.

Mat Staver, Davis’s attorney and the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, told The Post that Davis and her husband, Joe, met privately with Francis at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington last Thursday afternoon. The meeting was brief, lasting less than 15 minutes, Staver said.

The pair chatted about bravery, then hugged and exchanged promises of prayer, according to the Liberty Counsel.

“He held out his hand and she clasped his hands and held them,” said Staver, who did not attend the meeting between Davis and the pope.

Davis, Staver said, told Francis “she would pray for him. She asked the pope to pray for her, and he said he would pray. He said to ‘stay strong.’”

The pope “spoke in English the entire time,” Staver said. A Liberty Counsel news release said Francis thanked Davis for her “courage.”

Staver said the Davis and her husband were then presented with two rosaries.

The attorney said he waited several days to announce the visit because the group “didn’t want the focus on Kim Davis” during the pope’s U.S. trip. Staver declined to say how the meeting came together or who was involved in arranging it, but said it was set up several days in advance, as Davis prepared to travel to Washington for the Value Voters Summit.

“We were planning to arrive Thursday afternoon,” he said. “We rearranged our schedules to arrive Wednesday night.”

Staver said he is expecting to receive photos from the Vatican photographers who were present. On Wednesday, the Liberty Counsel released photos of the rosaries given to Kim and Joe Davis.

Kim Davis’s parents are lifelong Catholics, Staver said, and she gave the rosaries to them. Davis herself is an Apostolic Christian, a term that can refer to a couple of different Christian groups. Davis attends the Solid Rock Apostolic Church in Morehead, Ky., which is listed in the directory of churches for the the Apostolic Pentecostals.

The Archdiocese of Washington declined to comment on the matter. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops did not immediately respond to requests for comment to The Washington Post.

Since his election as to the papacy in 2013, Francis — with his outspoken criticism of global warming and income inequality, as well as his perceived support of the gay community (“Who am I to judge?” he said) — has become a favorite of some liberals. His reported meeting with Davis could feel like a slap to progressives who, wrongly or rightly, see him as their ally on the topic of LGBT acceptance.

The pope outlined his — and the Catholic Church’s — position on religious liberty Saturday in a speech at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall. Francis largely avoided addressing specific issues under the religious liberty umbrella during his public remarks in the United States, but several times indicated his support of a campaign from U.S. bishops to prioritize a defense of it.

On an overnight flight back to Rome after his three-city U.S. visit, the pope said government employees had the “human right” to say they cannot discharge duties that they believe go against their conscience. The response was given to an ABC News reporter who specifically mentioned issuing marriage licenses to gay couples as an example. Francis did not mention Davis by name.

“I can’t have in mind all cases that can exist about conscience objection,” the pope told reporters on the plane. “But, yes, I can say the conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right. It is a right.”

The meeting with Davis was not the only private discussion the pope held with Americans involved in religious liberty cases. In Washington, Francis also met with the Little Sisters of the Poor — a visit that was intended as a sign of support for the nuns in their legal battle against a contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act.

The Vatican revealed that meeting at a U.S. news conference hours after it took place. The meeting with Davis was kept private until late Tuesday, days after Francis had left the country.

Francis often holds private meetings at the Vatican and during his travels. In the United States, he met with five victims of sex abuse — and announced the meeting himself, during an Sunday address to a collection of international bishops and clergy in Philadelphia.

The pope also met privately earlier this year with a transgender man from Spain.

While in the United States, Francis blessed Bella Santorum, the daughter of Rick Santorum. Bella Santorum was born with a genetic disorder known as Trisomy 18.

Davis has said that her refusal to issue same-sex marriage licenses was “a Heaven or Hell decision” and that she is refusing to issue the documents “under God’s authority.”

“I was humbled to meet Pope Francis,” she said in a statement. “Of all people, why me?”

She added: “I never thought I would meet the Pope. Who am I to have this rare opportunity? I am just a County Clerk who loves Jesus and desires with all my heart to serve him.”

The pope, she said, “was kind, genuinely caring, and very personable.”

Staver told The Post that his client’s meeting with Francis is consistent with the pope’s statements on religious liberty, including what he told reporters on the papal plane.

“When you look back, those statements fit his actions,” Staver said. “He specifically mentioned that you should have religious freedom even if it’s a government official required to issue marriage licenses. He did the same thing with Little Sisters of The Poor. He had broad messages and broad strokes, but the fact that he met with Little Sisters and Kim Davis was very consistent with the message of religious freedom and marriage.”

By Abby Ohlheiser, Sarah Pulliam Bailey and Justin Wm. Moyer, Washington Post

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The Pointless Cowardice of John Boehner

The mainstream reaction to the forced resignation of John Boehner as the Speaker of the House has been a kind of weary admiration. He fought the good fight against the extremists in his Republican caucus, the narrative goes, but his solid Midwestern virtues (he’s from Ohio) were ultimately no contest for the extremism of the Tea Party. This interpretation is far too generous to Boehner, whose failures, political and substantive, were due mostly to cowardice. The tragedy of Boehner is that he could have been a great Speaker, even on his own terms, but instead his legacy is one of almost complete failure.

Boehner long made it clear that he was a dedicated party man, who believed that what was good for the G.O.P. was good for the country as well. This is how the issue of comprehensive immigration reform came to be the true crucible of his speakership. Following President Obama’s reëlection, in 2012, it was clear that Republicans had to try to appeal to Hispanic voters. In March of 2013, Reince Priebus, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, released a report saying that the Party “must embrace and champion comprehensive immigration reform.” In short order, many Republicans in the Senate, including such prominent figures as John McCain and Marco Rubio, did just that, and a bill which included a path to citizenship for a majority of undocumented immigrants passed by a vote of sixty-eight to thirty-two.

Boehner also supported immigration reform, at least in its broad outlines—because he correctly saw that it was good for both his party and his country. And there was no doubt that the reform bill could pass the House, with the support of most Democrats and a substantial number of Republicans as well. But Boehner’s Tea Party colleagues in the House opposed immigration reform. So the choice for Boehner, who controlled the House floor, was clear: pass a historic bill that would be good for the Republicans and for the republic, or appease the extremist elements in his party in hopes of hanging on to his position as Speaker.

Boehner caved, refusing to bring the bill to the floor for a vote, and he suffered the fate of all those who give in to bullies; he was bullied some more. This year, the fight was over the highway bill, another piece of popular legislation that Boehner himself and a majority of the House (as well as the Senate and the President) supported—as well they might, given that maintenance of roads and bridges represents some of the basic work of government. But again the Tea Party intimidated Boehner into keeping the bill off the floor, depriving the Speaker of another major accomplishment.

Boehner adopted an extreme version of the so-called Hastert rule, named for his predecessor as Speaker, Dennis Hastert, who is now under indictment for alleged financial crimes connected to blackmail payments (he has pleaded not guilty). The Hastert rule holds that the Speaker should never allow a vote on a bill unless it’s supported by a majority of the Republican caucus. But Boehner’s approach was to keep bills off the floor that were opposed by a minority of Republicans—the Tea Party caucus, which only numbers about fifty—effectively giving them a veto over the work of the House. Nothing came to the floor without their say-so, so that meant that nothing much came to the floor except for symbolic exercises like votes to repeal Obamacare or to defund Planned Parenthood.

When Boehner announced his impending departure, he expressed pride that he had kept the government open (after a sixteen-day shutdown in 2013) and raised the debt limit. This, to paraphrase a famous Republican, reflects the soft bigotry of low expectations. Keeping the government open and paying its debts are the minimal undertakings of an elected body, not legislative triumphs. But Boehner could point to almost nothing else that happened on his watch, because the Tea Party would tolerate nothing else.

And what did Boehner’s cowardice in the face of the Tea Party stalwarts get him? They forced him out anyway. Boehner built his career around keeping his job, and he still failed. If Boehner had allowed the passage of immigration reform, it’s entirely possible that the Tea Party would have rebelled and evicted him—but at least he would have had a substantial accomplishment to his credit. Instead, Boehner tried nothing, accomplished nothing, and lost his job anyway. It’s the legacy he deserves.

By Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker

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GOP rep: ‘The crazies have taken over the party’

Outgoing House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is leaving on his own terms, at least insofar as the timing is concerned. The Republican leader faced the likelihood of an attempted coup – whether or not the rebellion would have succeeded is an open question – but by quitting, Boehner finally has some agency over how his career ends, if nothing else.

But there’s no denying the fact that his hand was forced. No one has suggested, and few would believe, that Boehner started this Congress with the intention of resigning mid-way through the term. There were likely multiple factors that contributed to his surprise decision, but were it not for his far-right flank – its obstinacy, its contempt for compromise, its insatiable appetite for confrontation, its ambitions for tearing him down – Boehner would very likely have held onto his Speaker’s gavel through January 2017.

Given this, Rep. Peter King’s (R-N.Y.) assessment seems more than fair.

The abrupt resignation of House Speaker John Boehner shows that “the crazies have taken over the party,” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said Friday.

“I think it signals the crazies have taken over the party, taken over to the party that you can remove a speaker of the House who’s second in line to be president, a constitutional officer in the middle of his term with no allegations of impropriety, a person who’s honest and doing his job. This has never happened before in our country,” King said in an interview on CNN. “He could have stayed on.”

In a separate interview, King added that at “every stage” of his tenure as Speaker, Boehner “was undercut by people in his own party. And there’s 40 or 50 and that’s it. A small minority, but they were willing to hijack and blackmail the party.”

Those same “crazies,” as King called them, are hardly satisfied.

A co-founder of the conservative Freedom Caucus has a warning for any Republican hoping to replace outgoing Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio): No one will get the promotion without our blessing.

Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.), a sharp critic of Boehner, said Friday that there are roughly 40 members of the group – and another 20 conservatives outside of it – who won’t back any new Speaker who fails their litmus test for conservative purity. And the group’s leadership endorsements, he warned, will be “a collective, corporate decision.”

Huelskamp added, while talking to The Hill, “We have enough votes in the House Freedom Caucus to prevent anybody from being Speaker. We will be a voting bloc.”
The Freedom Caucus has even begun “pushing to slow down” the process of choosing a new Speaker, “hoping to force a broader shake-up in House Republican leadership as the party tries to move forward.”

It’s still not altogether clear Freedom Caucus members understand how Congress works – they certainly didn’t understand the limits Boehner faced as Speaker – but their antics serve as a reminder of the drama yet to come.

Steve Benen, MSNBC

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Where is the Outrage

Larry Kramer from the Advocate:


I beg of you. Attend these words. We are approaching a time of our potentially greatest power and we are not ready. We are not prepared. We are not united in our brotherhood and sisterhood, our peoplehood. We must capitalize on these suddenly available opportunities. Who knows if such a favorable constellation will come again.

I refer to the recent Supreme Court rulings that have ushered us into a certain equality. Freedom to marry had been beyond imagining until very recently. These rulings, now just settling into the miasma that is bureaucracy and “democracy,” convey more than just the right to marry and have children, even to welcoming the transgendered. These rulings have set the course for our future fights. Rest assured that for the rest of our lives we are going to be defending challenges in courts across the land, where our enemies will unceasingly strive to little by little chip away at these rights. This is what has happened to the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court rulings, which have been drained of much of their lifeblood in the never-ending and exhausting fight over abortion rights.

Where are we going? How do we get there? Are we even thinking of questions like this about our very future? Who are our leaders? Where are our leaders? Who is there to speak for us that we all can listen to? Who is there to remind us over and over that we still have not been allowed all the guarantees of the American Revolution, a very long time ago.

As with those of color, indeed with most minorities, we have been a long-suffering people. And as with most minorities, we are not very good at fighting back. We are not very good at joining together in activities except those for having fun. There is a strange disconnect among gays from gay cultural drivers, writers, and even recent history. What is lost if we can’t learn our history and pass its stories on to those who follow us, much as generations of slaves and their followers related their history, much as generations of Jews constantly are haunted by their Holocaust in their determination to proclaim “Never again.” If gay people don’t support gay writers and historians then we have no past or future beyond just “having fun.” Why and when have we decided to ignore what we’ve experienced? It’s well-known in the publishing industry that gays do not buy gay books, except for porn.

For many years I have been researching our history for my two volume novel, The American People. Volume One, just out, is subtitled “Search for My Heart.” Volume Two, which I am still writing, is subtitled “The Brutality of Fact.” The one overwhelming conclusion I came to as I research and write this is that I believe this plague of HIV, of AIDS, call it what you will, is intentional. That it was allowed to happen and is allowed to continue. Mine is a history of gays and other minorities through all time, yes, but it is a history of where AIDS came from, why it is here, why it is still ignored, who is murdering us, and naming names. It is about the intentional destruction and elimination of the homosexual population of America that has been going on since the beginning of our country’s birth.

In other words, intentional genocide.

And, in other words, it’s still going on at this very minute.

After 34 years there still are “50,000 new infections per year in the United States and two million new infections worldwide.” (Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the NIH.)

After 34 years there are 35 million people living with HIV worldwide. By 2013 an estimated 1.5 million had died of AIDS-related causes. (Poz magazine.)

I am tired of hearing that HIV is a slippery virus and that’s why it’ s taking so long for a cure. America is a country that built an atom bomb, that put a man on the moon. When it wants to do something, it does it.

From the very beginning, America has not wanted to end AIDS. There were 50,000 cases and 50,000 dead before Reagan would even say the word disparagingly. Not one congress has dealt with this plague seriously. Not one president has either. Despite what we are hearing, the state of research into a cure is in the toilet. And Congress is refusing to fund it to the degree it needs. Indeed, Francoise Barre-Sinoussie who discovered the virus, recently said she thought that HIV could never be eliminated from the body because it was everywhere in the body. The red tape and mess that is the NIH is heartbreaking. And the pharmaceutical industry is greedy beyond belief.

AIDS is out of control. You don’t know it. The New York Times isn’t writing about this again, just as it did not write about AIDS for its first horrendous years.

So what is National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day all about? I’ll tell you one thing, I don’t think it’s about outrage and fighting back. It was anger and fear and finally outrage that got us our HIV meds. Enough of us were so scared to death that we finally got off our asses and learned how to fight together.

But the outrage of yesterday has become the complacency of today. If you think sending Facebook messages back and forth is doing anything sufficient to our needs, it isn’t.

Where is outrage about no cure in 34 years, about the tragic ineptitude of the NIH, about rising HIV rates for black gay and bisexual men, about the appalling evil greed that is the pharmaceutical industry, about gay history not being taught in the schools, about our lack of community that I am told young gays are actually longing for. Oh, there’s plenty to be outraged about if you let yourself really look and think about it.

“You’ve got the meds, you’ve got marriage, when are you going to shut up, you loudmouth?” Straight critics of my novel and many a gay have actually said that to me. “You’re 80 years old and you’re lucky you’re still alive, so stop complaining.”

We need power. We don’t have power. We have no power in Washington. We need power in every town and city and state and organization that we inhabit. How do we get such power? Well, you start by talking about it, everyone talking about it, all of us realizing that the Supreme Court has given us this great gift and platform to fight from, and how do we do that most effectively. ACT UP showed us how we could do this successfully. Its template is as relevant and useful today. It’s not all that complicated. But it requires anger, outrage, hope, and love. As I said we’re much too complacent at this crucial moment in time.

I want to end this by quoting two great gay activists who were also great gay writers, both of whom have given me great inspiration to never shut up…

“I am a moral agent. My stories are complicated. They are intended to educate our capacity for moral judgment. To be a moral human being is to pay, be obliged to pay, certain kinds of attention. The nature of moral judgments depends on our capacity for paying attention.” Susan Sontag

“You know my fury about people is based precisely on the fact that I consider them to be responsible, moral creatures who so often do not act that way. I wouldn’t sound the way I sound if I did not expect what I expect from human beings, if I didn’t have some ultimate faith and love, faith in them and love for them. What I am demanding of other people is what I am demanding of myself.” James Baldwin

…and with this quote from Timothy Snyder, a professor of history at Yale (straight but with a gay brother) who is expounding revolutionary new theories of the Holocaust (his new book is Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning):

“Those who wish to kill large numbers of people will end by doing so. And they will find more or less sophisticated reasons for ensuring that this can happen, just as they will lay hands on the means of execution.”

Snyder is telling us to pay attention, that holocausts are now happening all over the world.

Well, we have been living through one that’s lasted for hundreds of years.

So we’re experienced.

So what are we going to do about it now and at last?

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Shanti’s 41st Anniversary Dinner – Compassion is Universal fundraiser is October 14

‘Compassion is Universal’, a benefit for Shanti, begins at 5:30pm on October 14 at the Palace Hotel.  The evening will include a cocktail reception and silent auction, dinner, entertainment, and an awards program. The 2015 Nancy Pelosi Lifetime Achievement Award Honoree is The Honorable James C. Hormel, U.S. Ambassador.  The evening is hosted by LGBT rights activist Omar Sharif Jr.

Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available at: universal_2015.html and see or call 415-674-4712.  To volunteer contact Melody or call 415-674-4739.

Kaushik Roy began at Shanti as a peer support volunteer in 2004, joined their staff in 2006, and became Executive Director in 2008.  He and wife Stacy had an office romance at Shanti and this year celebrated the birth of their daughter Neela Shanti Roy.  Kaushik serves on the Board of Directors for San Francisco’s Interfaith Council and is an Executive Officer of the HIV/AIDS Providers Network.

“Compassion is Universal is not just a way to honor our legacy, but to also raise awareness within our community of the immense challenges our clients often face. Many of our clients consider Shanti to be their sole source of compassionate care, and with the community’s continued support, we are able to continue to enhance the quality of life, health, and well-being of San Francisco’s most vulnerable populations with women’s cancers or HIV/AIDS.”

This event October 14 is expected to raise a substantial portion of Shanti’s annual $4.1 million budget.  Their private fundraising efforts from individuals and corporate giving accounts for almost 60% of their budget.

Founded in 1974 by Dr. Charles Garfield, Shanti has been at the forefront of a growing national movement to enhance the quality of life for persons living with life-threatening or chronic illnesses by providing volunteer-based emotional and practical support.

Shanti is a Sanskrit word meaning “inner peace” or “tranquility”. It is an appropriate name since, ultimately, all of Shanti’s direct service and educational programs are aimed at easing the burdens and improving the well-being of people in difficult life situations

The Shanti L.I.F.E. Program® is the nation’s leading HIV self-management and health-enhancement program. L.I.F.E. provides participants with the knowledge, motivation, skills, and support necessary to establish and maintain health-protective routines.

Building on the successes of their HIV/AIDS program and responding to changing community needs, in 2001 they established the Breast Cancer Program to mitigate factors that lead to the disproportionate rates of breast cancer mortality among vulnerable San Francisco populations.

Paul Margolis  Our Town SF,

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Halloween: Rocky Horror Anniversary at the Symphony with Peaches Christ

Entertainer Peaches Christ and Theremin player Dorit Chrysler are special guests


The San Francisco Symphony celebrates Halloween at Davies Symphony Hall with spooky film music, and a special 40th anniversary screening of the film The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The evening begins at 7:30pm with a one-hour concert with the San Francisco Symphony performing spooky film favorites including music from Psycho, Godzilla, The Exorcist, Poltergeist, and more, featuring Dorit Chrysler on the Theremin in music from Ed Wood. A 40th Anniversary film screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show follows (without orchestra), with commentary and instructions for audience participation by guest host, entertainer Peaches Christ. Patrons are encouraged to dress in Halloween costumes.

Peaches Christ is the alter-ego of writer / director Joshua Grannell. Grannell attended film school at Penn State, where his senior thesis film Jizzmopper: A Love Story won the Audience Award upon graduation. It was during the production of this film that the character Peaches Christ was born played by Joshua himself. Joshua is the creator of Midnight Mass, a summer series of classic and contemporary cult cinema which ran for 12 years at Landmark’s Bridge Theatre with much of the notoriety coming from Joshua’s infamous pre-show extravaganzas. Peaches Christ has been featured on VH1’s Totally Gay!, AMC’s Movies That Shook the World,  Gus Van Sant’s Academy Award-winning film Milk,  HBO’s original series Looking, and the upcoming feature film Diary Of A Teenage Girl starring Kristen Wiig and Alexander Skarsgard.  In 2007 HDNet provided Peaches Christ with her own national TV series, entitled Midnight Mass with Your Hostess Peaches Christ. Joshua Grannell is also the writer and director of the feature film All About Evil, and enjoys making people scream with fright, and laugh hysterically.

Theremin player Dorit Chrysler is known for her collaborations in both the contemporary music and pop worlds, and is a superior wizard of the theremin. An Austrian-born, New York-based composer and musician, she is the founder of the NY Theremin Society and one of the few theremin virtuosos worldwide. Her Solo work ranges from electronic pop to film soundscapes, most recently for the soundtrack of the HBO documentary Going Clear. Her compositions have been commissioned most recently by the Venice Biennale and the New York MoMA Film department. Chrysler produced a ten-piece orchestra performance at Disney Hall and has played at Lincoln Center, the Modern Arts Museum in Seoul, Karlskirche Vienna, MoMA, the Louisiana Museum, Palais Tokyo Paris, St. Petersburg Hermitage, Venice Biennale, Berlin Biennale and Liverpool Biennale.

Invented 1919 by Russian electro physicist Lev Sergejewitch Termen, the theremin generates sound without being touched. It is one of the first electronic instruments to inspire the creation of synthesizers.

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Warriors Plans for S.F. Arena Slammed by UCSF National Academy of Sciences Leaders


 Mission Bay Proposal is “Disaster” for Life Sciences, UCSF

Leaders Call on S.F. Mayor Ed Lee to Abandon Proposed Arena and Protect Biotech/Life Sciences in S.F. from “Critical Harm”

Joe Lacob and Peter GuberJoe Lacob and Peter Guber Asked to Abandon Mission Bay Warriors Plans to Protect Live-Saving Research, Science

San Francisco – A coalition of world-renowned scientists from the University of California at San Francisco and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences today said the proposed Golden State Warriors’ Arena in Mission Bay would be a “disaster” for the City’s growing biotech and life science hub and called for San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee to abandon the proposed plans.

The UCSF scientists joined the California Nurses Association and the Mission Bay Alliance, a coalition of UCSF employees, stakeholders and neighbors who oppose the 18,500-seat arena and entertainment center, in their decisive opposition of the proposed project, saying it would threaten “the entire future of UCSF as the center of a world-class academic/biotech/medical complex.”

“Our major fear is that the Mission Bay site will lose its appeal – not only for the new biomedical enterprises that the city would like to attract here, but also for most of its current occupants,” according to the letter, which was delivered to Mayor Lee and signed by more than 20 of UCSF’s leading scientists and researchers.

“The result could critically harm not only UCSF, but also the enormously promising, larger set of biomedical enterprises that currently promises to make San Francisco the envy of the world,” the letter said.

The letter sites traffic gridlock as a leading concern for both residents accessing UCSF’s emergency services and for the hospital workers and scientist and researchers who have turned Mission Bay into one of the most “prominent academic-industry biotechnology/medical complexes in the world.”

“It is unavoidable that terrible, and possibly even life-threatening, traffic congestion will be associated with the planned complex, given that it is intended to be the site of some 220 events per year, held both in the evening and during the day,” wrote the scientists. “Many of us have experienced the hours-long gridlock that paralyzes all Mission Bay streets before and after San Francisco Giants home games. The absolute paralysis that it creates is already a non-trivial problem, which the planned stadium promises to both greatly expand and intensify.”

The UCSF faculty who signed the letter are among the most prestigious and acclaimed scientists in the world and include Bruce Alberts, UCSF Chancellor’s Leadership Chair for Biochemistry and Biophysics for Science and Education, who is the former president of the National Academy of Sciences, a membership organization of the world’s leading scientists and Noble Prize winners.  Other signatories include:

  • Elizabeth Blackburn, Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, and Nobel laureate
  • James Cleaver, Professor of Dermatology and Pharmaceutical Chemistry
  • John A. Clements, Professor of Pediatrics and Julius H. Comroe Professor of Pulmonary Biology, Emeritus
  • Robert Fletterick, Professor of Biochemistry, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, and Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology
  • Carol Gross, Professor of Microbiology
  • Christine Guthrie, Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • Lily Jan, Professor of Physiology, Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • Yuh-Nung Jan, Professor of Physiology
  • Alexander Johnson, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, and Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • Cynthia Kenyon, Emeritus Professor, UCSF, and Vice President, Aging Research, Calico Life Sciences
  • Gail Martin, Professor Emerita, Department of Anatomy
  • Frank McCormick, Professor Emeritus, UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer CenterDavid A. Wood Distinguished Professorship of Tumor Biology and Cancer Research
  • Ira Mellman, Professor (Adjunct) of Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • William J. Rutter, Chairman Emeritus, Department of Biochemistry, and Chairman, Synergenics LLC
  • John Sedat, Professor Emeritus, Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics
  • Michael Stryker, William Francis Ganong Professor of Physiology
  • Peter Walter, Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics
  • Arthur Weiss, Professor of Medicine, and of Microbiology and Immunology
  • Zena Werb, Professor of Anatomy

The scientists said special traffic routes proposed to protect UCSF employees would not work.

“Those of us at Mission Bay have experienced the unruly behavior of frustrated drivers stuck for long times in traffic jams,” they wrote. “In fact, there is no believable transportation solution for two very large complexes placed in such close proximity at Mission Bay.”

Bruce Spaulding of the Mission Bay Alliance said he commended the courage of UCSF’s preeminent scientists and researchers for taking a stand and protecting the growth of Mission Bay’s biotech and life science community.

“These concerns are consistent with those shared by Mission Bay Alliance and the healthcare employees, neighbors and others who recognize what a disaster this project would be on the thousands of people and budding industries in this growing community,” Spaulding said. “This is a significant community and a quality of life issue in San Francisco.  We hope the Mayor recognizes the danger to public health and life sciences of this ill-conceived project.”

Anchored by UCSF’s new, $1.6 billion hospital and research campus, Mission Bay has given rise to San Francisco’s flourishing life science and biotech industry, generating nearly $4 billion in economic activity, $1.4 billion in income and 21,000 jobs.

The City’s Mission Bay project – the largest ongoing biomedical construction project in the world – can be credited for the City’s biotech success and would be jeopardized by the proposed stadium.

“We face increasing competition from other rapidly growing complexes of this type, both in the US and abroad,” the scientists wrote. “It will be critical to keep moving aggressively forward, if we are to continue to attract the very best talent – both academic and private sector – to SanFrancisco….We are seriously concerned that this future is threatened by the plan to construct a very large sports, entertainment, and event arena in our midst.”

 About the Mission Bay Alliance

 The Mission Bay Alliance is a coalition of UCSF stakeholders, donors, faculty, physicians and the working men and women of San Francisco who are concerned about the impact of the proposed Golden State Warriors’ stadium on the future of the vibrant community and medical campus at Mission Bay. The Alliance fully supports the Warriors’ team and congratulates its tremendous championship win. However, the Alliance believes the proposed arena and entertainment center is ill-conceived for this site. For more information about the Mission Bay Alliance, visit

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Foreign Students Who Contracted HIV in Israel Find Out ‘Full’ Insurance Won’t Cover Treatment

Some policies allow insurance firms to send students back to their homelands, citing public health concerns.

Foreign students who contracted HIV during their time in Israel have discovered that their insurance policy doesn’t cover treatment of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, despite the insurance being sold as a full and comprehensive policy. An AIDS nonprofit has teamed with the National Union of Israeli Students (NUIS) to combat the problem.

Thousands of students come to Israel each year from Europe, the United States and elsewhere to attend academic institutions. Usually, foreign students purchase the insurance policy offered them through the institution they are attending. However, in recent months, the Israel AIDS Task Force has identified a number of foreign students who were infected with HIV during their time in Israel and subsequently learned, when attempting to obtain treatment, that HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases are excluded from their policy. Subsequently, some of the students had to halt their studies since they could not afford to pay for the expensive medical treatment in addition to their academic programs.

In addition, the language and culture barrier – often combined with the lack of a strong and supportive social network – makes it that much harder for these students to cope with their difficult situation and insist on their health-care rights.

Some of the policies also give the insurance companies the right to send students who are HIV carriers back to their country of origin for reasons of public health – which can be seen as a demonstration of the insurance companies’ retrograde attitude toward the disease, given the fact that medications can significantly reduce the chance of transmitting the virus.

The Israel AIDS Task Force contacted the insurance companies and requested that they cease excluding treatment for HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases from their policies. At first the insurance firms refused, but later agreed to cancel the exclusion for HIV alone, starting from June 2016. However, they left the exclusion for other sexually transmitted disease unchanged.

NUIS entered into a negotiation process with the insurance companies with the aim of providing comprehensive coverage that does not exclude sexually transmitted diseases. So far, the best and most comprehensive proposal has come from the Ga’ash insurance agency, which is the official insurance agency of the student union. The insurance covers infection with sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV, and service at health maintenance organizations across the country. This policy is not just unprecedented in what it offers foreign students, but is also the first policy to operate in accordance with the new guidelines issued by the insurance commissioner, which says that, as of 2016, HIV carriers may not be excluded from the range of policies on the market.

“It’s really ridiculous. The policies that were offered until now covered much rarer diseases than HIV and other STDs,” says Ram Shefa, deputy chair of NUIS. “Students’ health and their studies were being severely affected, and we couldn’t sit by and not try to offer a real alternative. It may not help the students who were already harmed, but at least the same kind of thing won’t happen in the future.”

Dr. Yuval Livnat is director-general of the Israel AIDS Task Force. “We believe that the institutions of higher education, which want to attract foreign students, also have a duty to look after their welfare, including their health, and not leave them alone in their time of distress,” said Livnat. “We also regret that, despite the insurance commissioner’s directive, there are still insurance companies that, instead of taking care of the students, are going to wait another year before adopting the new guidelines. We are grateful to NUIS for its cooperation, which is helping to maintain and improve the students’ health, and to the Ga’ash agency, which became a pioneer in implementing the new guidelines for not excluding HIV-carriers from insurance coverage.”
Ido Efrati, Haaretz

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Coming out as a bi male in pro sports

I wanted to bring up a topic that I feel like is not brought up often: the potential for a male professional athlete to come out as bisexual. I know that Tom Daley initially did not label himself when he announced that he was in love with a man, but has since come out as gay and I was wondering if there may be examples of professional male athletes coming out as bisexual and continuing to live as such (by that I mean not later coming out as gay or considering themselves straight, etc.).

I think there is a lot of stigma in society at-large and the LGBT community about bisexual individuals, especially men. There is often the idea that bisexual people don’t really exist, that they’re only one step out of the closet and will eventually come out fully, or are just straight guys in a “phase” or getting attention. I admit that I am someone who has contributed to this stigma because I initially came out as bi and promised everyone around me that I was truly bi when I knew in my heart that I wasn’t but I was only able to accept that I was into guys, not that I was only into guys.

Since then, I have come out as gay, but I do feel a sense of guilt for creating this mentality that bi people (specifically guys) don’t exist when I truly believe they do and studies such as a NY Times study within the last 2 years found that there are just as many truly bisexual guys as there are gay guys, though some people believe that there is a larger spectrum at play.

Anyway, I was kind of wondering what people think about the stigma attached to bisexual males. Do you think this stigma is preventing some male professional athletes who are bi from coming out?

There is also the thought among these athletes and other bi males in society of whether there is the real need to come out because they think they can get by fine in life by just living through their attraction to women even though I really believe that people will be the happiest when they can be 100% themselves.

Also, do you think that if a male professional athlete were to come out as bisexual, there would be a harsher reaction within society, the locker room, etc. than when a professional athlete comes out as gay? I think in many ways there might be a less welcoming reaction due to the stigma attached. Among the straight community, they may use words such as “phase,” “promiscuous,” or “one step out of the closet.”

When it comes to the LGBT community, I know of a number of gay guys who truly don’t believe that bisexuality exists, especially when it comes to bisexuality for men despite research that suggests otherwise. I know that when I had initially come out as bi, there was a lot of skepticism given to me by both the straight and gay communities and I definitely specifically felt judged by the gay community who in many ways excluded me and made me feel like an outcast. With all that said, can a male professional athlete come out as bisexual and be welcomed in this day and age or do you think more time is needed for bisexuality, especially among males, to be accepted in society prior to that happening?

P.S. I’m bringing this topic up due to personal experiences, one of which was me initially coming out as bisexual and not feeling as though I was accepted by the straight and gay communities as much as when I later came out as gay. But I do want to STRESS, I DO BELIEVE in bisexuality and feel bad for adding to that stigma.

And secondly, I’m bringing this up because I do actually know two major male closeted pro athletes who are bisexual. I know that as a fact so I don’t want to hear that they may really be gay. I know they’re bisexual for several reasons. I am not going to name these athletes obviously, but from speaking with one of them pretty frequently, I know that he has not concluded that coming out as bi is fully necessary considering he does well with girls and is planning on marrying a woman and does not feel as if the fallout from coming out would be worth it considering he feels happy living his life going for women. Also, he is actually out to a few people including one of his ex girlfriends who he considers a very close friend of his. Is the stigma worth coming out as a bi man at this point?


Swagster11, Originally posted in OutSports

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Who was Junípero Serra — the ‘saint’ Pope Francis will canonize?

During his trip to the United States, Pope Francis plans to make Junípero Serra, an 18th century Spanish priest who helped Spain colonize California, a saint. While statues of Serra stand in both San Francisco and the U.S. capital of Washington, Serra’s canonization has been questioned by some California Native Americans who consider him the father of a colonial system that led to the systematic death of about 100,000 Native Americans.

Some Native American groups have opposed Serra’s canonization since the pope announced it in January. Others have said that Pope Francis’ decision to canonize Serra is an attempt to appeal to more Latin Americans, as Serra is a popular religious figure within the Hispanic Catholic community. Despite his popularity, Serra is known to have led the missions that kept Native Americans enslaved and ravaged by diseases brought from Europe.

Serra was born on the Spanish island of Majorca in the Mediterranean Sea in 1713. Born into a humble family, he eventually went on to become a Franciscan friar, or a person who adheres to the teachings of Saint Francis of Assisi.

After serving as a professor for many years in Spain, Serra wanted something more adventurous, so he traveled to do mission work in 1749 near Mexico City, then part of Spain’s empire. By 1769, the Roman Catholic Church had ordered him to what is now California to force the Native American population there to convert to Christianity, NPR reported.

The Native Americans near the mission in San Diego ended up there for many reasons — some seeking food, some because they were lured there by missionaries with gifts. Others were taken from their homes by Spanish soldiers to labor in the missions.

All of the Native Americans who came there were forced to abandon their native languages and identities in favor of Spanish ways of life and the Roman Catholic faith. Serra himself founded nine missions, and 12 more were built after his death in 1784.

“I think it’s really sad to see someone that enacted genocide on an entire group of people elevated and canonized, made into a saint, when he did things that were absolutely not saintly,” Tara Houska, a Native American activist in Washington, told local TV station WUSA-9.

Native American leaders have already asked Pope Francis to renounce the Doctrine of Discovery — the more than 500-year-old decree that allowed European explorers to enslave Native Americans. The doctrine called for explorers to declare war on all non-Christians during colonial times. It has remained in place despite past popes’ condemning the poor treatment of Native Americans  and excommunicating Catholics who had Native American slaves.

Pope Francis has tried to extend sympathies to Native Americans ahead of his visit. In July, he apologized to Native Americans and asked them to forgive the church for its role in the colonization of the Americas.

Pope Francis plans to canonize Serra Wednesday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington during his stop in that city. Pope Francis plans to be in the United States through Sunday.

International Business Times, Adam Lidgett

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Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the Greek Theatre to be Streamed And Broadcast Live


Classical KDFC 89.9, 90.3, KUSC 91.5 FM Radio To Broadcast Live

Digital Content Harvested From This Inaugural Berkeley RADICAL Residency To Be Available on Cal Performances’ iTunes Boutique

Cal Performances at UC Berkeley today announced webcast/broadcast plans and partners for the inaugural project of Berkeley RADICAL.  The performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, with Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela, to take place on Friday, September 25, 2015, at 7:30pm PT, at the Hearst Greek Theatre, in Berkeley, CA, will be streamed live (audio and video) and available for viewing on the websites of Classical KDFC, KUSC, Univision,,  Cal Performances, and Gustavo Dudamel. Following are specific viewing locations:




Medici TV:

Cal Performances:

Gustavo Dudamel:

Additionally, the performance will be broadcast live on Classical KDFC 89.9, 90.3, 104.9FM in the San Francisco Bay Area, and on KUSC 91.5FM in the Los Angeles area; and streamed live (audio and video) on and For more information visit

The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem 2015 Orchestra Residency, featuring Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela (SBSOV), the inaugural project of Berkeley RADICAL, will take place September 22–26, 2015.  Cal Performances’ Berkeley RADICAL initiative, announced in February 2015, is a framework to cultivate public artistic literacy and create cultural access for diverse current and future audiences in the context of the digital age and transitional generations.  Collaboration and interaction with the research and academic resources of the University of California, Berkeley, is key to Berkeley RADICAL.  For more information, visit Cal Performances’ Press Room.

Exclusive video and audio content harvested from residency activities will be released on a variety of digital platforms, including Cal Performances’ iTunes boutique. Content will include a short documentary on the multiple pathways traveled by K–12 and UC Berkeley students and faculty to understanding of and engagement with Beethoven; an exploration of cultural access points (lifelong learning, social media, pop-up concerts, film) that create engagement for people unfamiliar with Beethoven and his works; and a podcast of the music in performance.  Content will be made available within a month of the residency.

Berkeley RADICAL, September 22–26, 2015

The Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem 2015 Cal Performances Orchestra Residency

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Saudi Teenager Ali Mohammed al-Nimr Has Been Sentenced to Death by Crucifixion

A Saudi teenager is facing death by crucifixion in his home country of Saudi Arabia on charges activists say are politically motivated.

In 2012, Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, then 17, was arrested in the country’s Qatif province on reportedly shaky charges of illegal protesting and gun possession, the International Business Times reported Wednesday. There was never any evidence to support the guns charge.

After being arrested, al-Nimr was held in jail and not allowed to speak to a lawyer. According to the British legal aid group Reprieve, al-Nimr was subject to torture to extract a forced confession. A closed appeals process — which he was not invited to and occurred without his knowledge — dismissed any remaining possibility that the nation’s legal system would prevent his biblical execution.

“No one should have to go through the ordeal Ali has suffered — torture, forced ‘confession’ and an unfair, secret trial process, resulting in a sentence of death by ‘crucifixion,’” Maya Foa, director of Reprieve, said in a statement.

Al-Nimr was reportedly targeted because his uncle, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, is a noted critic of the kingdom, and is scheduled to be executed Thursday. Foa continued in the statement:

Ali was a vulnerable child when he was arrested and this ordeal began. His execution — based apparently on the authorities’ dislike for his uncle, and his involvement in anti-government protests — would violate international law and the most basic standards of decency. It must be stopped.

Saudi Arabia is one of the world’s last absolute monarchies, and its legal system has long been criticized as arbitrary and unjust. While most nations have moved away from capital punishment, Saudi Arabia had done the opposite. Under new king Salman, executions are up, with dozens carried out this year. The kingdom recently made headlines after the Ministry of Civil Service posted an official notice seeking qualified executioners.

The Saudi regime’s harsh stance toward political and religious dissent stands in contrast toward the kingdom’s treatment of mostly Sunni terrorists, many of whom have avowed desires to attack the Unites States and Saudi Arabia itself. Prisons, which stress a “rehabilitative” approach, shower inmates with perks like expensive food and laundry. “Without the program, thousands of those who were released would have been exploited by terrorist organizations,” Maj. Gen. Mansour al-Turki, a spokesman for the Saudi Interior Ministry, told Arab News last year.

The treatment of al-Nimr, however, demonstrates the fault lines of official Saudi tolerance. “Saudi Arabia is one of the countries that executes the most people in the world, often after people have been tortured into confessions or had unfair trials,” Reprieve press officer Alice Gillham told Mic. “It’s pretty shocking that this person was convicted as a juvenile and is now set to be executed.”

Online, meanwhile, the Internet protested against the planned execution, under the hashtag #FreeNimr.


Jon Levine, World.mic


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This Old Bag Fundraiser for BCEF is October 23

On 10/23 This Old Bag: The Power of the Purse will take place at Bently Reserve 301 Battery St. San Francisco benefitting Breast Cancer Emergency Fund (BCEF) For one special night, designers, retailers fashionistas and the hottest celebrities come together to help women in need. A chic Silent Auction offers an extensive array of handbags, clutches, manbags and handled delights. An exciting Live Auction pairs the most coveted designs with fabulous experiences and travel packages. This Old Bag raises 1/4 of BCEF’s annual operating budget To purchase tickets or make a donation


BCEF was founded in 2001 by AIDS Emergency Fund to honor the female community responders to the AIDS pandemic Leslie Ewing and her partner Rebecca LePere. two long-time LGBT and AIDS activists.

BCEF is the only Bay Area organization dedicated to providing emergency financial assistance to low-income women and men battling breast cancer. To date, they have delivered over $2,500,000 in quick, compassionate care to help reduce financial hardship, improve quality of life and enable people focus on their health and their families. They are unique in that they have never denied assistance to a qualified applicant nor created a waiting list for aid.

BCEF grew quickly and in early 2009, expanded its service area to include San Mateo County. In June 2011, BCEF expanded services again by offering emergency financial assistance to Santa Clara County – a county with extensive urban and rural poverty that is twice the population of San Francisco and San Mateo counties combined.

Many people with breast cancer have inadequate or no health insurance. Most will be unable to work throughout their treatment, adding a huge financial toll to an already difficult struggle. BCEF helps people in need continue life-extending medical treatments, avoid utility shut-off, prevent eviction and maintain stable housing during they battle Since 2001, Breast Cancer Emergency Fund (BCEF) has served more than 2,500 low-income women and their families.

BCEF does not receive City, State or Federal funds. 100% of their funding is from private foundations, corporations and individuals. They produce two signature events: This Old Bag plus Beats for Boobs each January. Each year, BCEF also receives over $100,000 through smaller community events such as Sisters Crush Breast Cancer 2015 10/17 in Yountville.

Per Susannah Dunlap, managing director of BCEF, September through November are crucial to their fundraising effort. This is when 1/3 of their budget is raised at community and special events, grants and private fundraisers. Lance Holman hosts one such fundraiser named Lick It at the Powerhouse. Susannah says “while BCEF’s roots are in the HIV/AIDS/leather community, our allies are a significant part of our foundation. We are a collective of what is best about the Bay Area - we are a diverse group of people responding as one to a diverse community need.”

Update your wardrobe with the latest handbags or join in for the philanthropy 10/23 at This Old Bag. Breast Cancer Emergency Fund hopes you can come out and play!

Paul Margolis,

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Colorado Becomes First State In History To Collect More Taxes From Pot Than Alcohol

The marijuana legalization experiments underway in Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington have attracted a lot of attention around the country as test sites for the effects of legalization and exploring pot’s potential as a source of tax revenue. The first numbers are in, and they point to a resounding success: the state of Colorado’s Department of Revenue announced that legal marijuana pulled in some $70 million in taxes last year- almost double the amount made from alcohol taxes ($42 million)! This has led to a massive budget surplus in the state- $257 million, the majority of which is going to the state’s public schools.

It’s been so successful that the state has declared a tax holiday on marijuana products. “Marijuana taxes have been incredibly productive over the past year, so this tax holiday is a much-deserved day off,” says Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project. “This will be the one day out of the year when the state won’t generate significant revenue. Over the other 364 days, it will bring in tens of millions of dollars that will be reinvested in our state.”

Marijuana users tend to smoke habitually and are willing to spend far more on their vice of choice than alcohol or tobacco users- on average, $1800 a year. Tvert remarked that it was “crazy how much revenue our state used to flush down the drain by forcing marijuana sales into the underground market. It’s even crazier that so many states are still doing it. Tax revenue is just one of many good reasons to replace marijuana prohibition with a system of regulation.

The findings are a vindication for marijuana activists and convincing evidence that the benefits of legalizing the drug far outweigh the cons. Lifting the burden of dealing with minor drug offenses from both users and law enforcement would be a great boon for both groups, and would start alleviating some of the devastating effects of the failed “War On Drugs”, which disproportionately fall on African Americans- who are three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites. Enforcing marijuana laws also costs our nation $3.6 billion dollars a year, for little to no results. It’s far past time we stopped wasting our time on busting pot-smoking teenagers and focus on the real problems affecting this country.

Colin Taylor, Occupy Democrats

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An Evangelical responds to Sanders’ speech at Liberty U

An Evangelical pastoral counselor and Liberty University graduate posted a short sermon about Bernie Sanders’ speech at Liberty University to reddit yesterday:

Bernie is the voice of Justice crying out in the desert. Evangelicals like me are convicted by his message.

He was convicting the Christian leaders and the religious leaders in that university, and calling us out for being complicit in the abandonment of those who suffer, the least of these, and siding with the powerful and rich, the masters of this world.  And he was convicting us and calling us out, and we scorned him, and we stared him down; and, with sour faces, we thought, “Who is this wacko, and why do all these people seem to follow him, seem to like him – this wild-haired Jew, crying out from the wilderness of the political left, in his hoarse voice?”

When I heard Bernie speaking in that way, when I saw that guy on stage at Liberty University, I saw John the Baptist…crying out to the religious leaders, the Pharisees of his day, calling them corrupt and complicit with those who have all the power and all the money and all the wealth, and abandoning the people that God loves, that God cares about…

As I heard Bernie Sanders crying out to the religious leaders at Liberty University, in his hoarse voice, with his wild hair – this Jew – and he proclaimed justice over us, he called us to account, for being complicit with those who are wealthy and those who are powerful, and for abandoning the poor, the least of these, who Jesus said he had come to bring good news to. And in that moment something occurred to me. As I saw Bernie Sanders up there, as I watched him, I realized Bernie Sanders for president is good news for the poor. Bernie Sanders for president is Good News for the poor. Bernie Sanders is gospel for the poor. And Jesus said “I have come to bring gospel” – good news – “to the poor.”And lightning hit my heart at that moment. And I realized that we are evangelical Christians. We believe the Bible. We believe in Jesus. We absolutely shun those who would attempt to find nuance and twisted and tortured interpretations of scripture that they would use to master all other broader interpretations, to find some kind of big message that they want to flout. We absolutely scorn such things, and yet somehow we commit to the mental gymnastics necessary that allows us to abandon the least of these, to abandon the poor, to abandon the immigrants, to abandon those who are in prison.

I listened to Bernie Sanders as he said he wanted to welcome the immigrants and give them dignity, as he said he wanted to care for the sick children and mothers and fathers who do not have health care, as he said he wanted to decrease the amount of human beings who are corralled like cattle in the prisons, as he said he wanted to do justice for those who have nothing and live homeless. And I remembered the words of Jesus who warned his disciples that there will be judgement, and on that day he will look to his friends, and he will say “Blessed are you for you cared for me, for I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you cared for me, I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was in prison and you came to visit me, I was homeless and you gave me shelter.” And his disciples said, “When did we do any of those things for you?” And he said, “If you have done it for the least of these, you have done it for me.”

Those words echoed in my heart as I listened to that crazy, hoarse-voiced, wild-haired Jew standing in front of the religous leaders of the Evangelical Movement, calling us to account, as a Jew once did before, telling us that he intends to care for the least of these, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, to care for the sick, to set the prisoners free.

I wouldn’t be much of a Christian if I didn’t stand on the side of gospel for the poor, because, the last time I checked, that’s where my master Jesus stood, and I’ll stand with Him. And,  for now, that means I stand with Bernie Sanders.

Daily Kos


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Are You A Christian? Feeling Repressed? Here Are 7 Ways To Tell If You Are Really Being Persecuted

ll this talk of “religious liberty” and “persecution” got me thinking… how can Christians tell if they are being persecuted? I mean, maybe they are and don’t know it? There has to be a way to know for sure?!

We here at Addicting Info are here to help. Because nowadays, with the Supreme Court saying that gays are actually people who have rights in America, “religious freedom” is so hard to ascertain. Why, one can’t even bully a gay couple anymore without being called a bigot! And all of those dirty sluts women using birth control– how dare they think that they can control their own reproductive health? Not being able to tell others how to live infringes upon the “liberty” of American Christians, right?

Maybe no, maybe sí… Below, are seven tell-tale signs that you are being persecuted. Just answer the question. If you answered “yes,” you’re NOT being persecuted. If you answered “no” to any question, contact your local ACLU chapter.swoop divider.

Are you allowed to go to a religious service of your own choosing? If you are, then you are not being persecuted. If you still think you are being persecuted even though you can meet with others of your faith wherever you wish, think again. In other countries, such as North Korea, Christians cannot meet with other Christians. If they do and are found out, they may be tortured or executed. Maybe you should meet with your prayer group to discuss.

Are you allowed to pray in the privacy of your own home? Lucky you! In many Islamic countries, praying — even at home — can be punished. Maybe send up a prayer of thanks that you can pray whenever you like in your own home. Without worrying about being arrested.

Can you purchase, read or possess religious books or material? You can walk into a Barnes & Noble anywhere in America — and beyond — and buy a Bible. So many kinds of Bibles, too! 5,675 in an online search at the B&N website. And you can even have them sent to you or download them! You can keep them safely in your home, too. You can even have other religious material: books, video, music, coloring books. In North Korea, that’s another infraction that can get you killed. The Gideons (those nice folks who provide those Bibles in your hotel room) have a list of countries (pdf) in which the Bible is banned. Go read your Bible in good health and with no threat of death.

Is your religious group allowed to build a house of worship in your community? Do you have a church building? Did anyone protest its being built? Were there “fixes” in at City Hall to hold up or deny the building permits for it? No? Then consider yourself lucky. In Saudi Arabia, churches are forbidden (yes, Sean Hannity got one right). Even here in America, some faiths have considerable trouble in building a house of worship, if it can be done at all. On September 10, 2015 the city planning commission of Sterling Heights, Michigan voted 9-0 to deny the construction of a mosque. Crowds cheered the decision. Funny how there are a lot of churches there, yet not one Muslim protested any of them. So next time you head to church, think about how great it is that you have one.

Can you teach your children about your faith at home? Good deal! Many Christians do this without complaint, understanding that home and church is the place to provide this education. Others think that they can impose their religious beliefs on the public schools. In Texas, Fundamentalist Christians have forced their beliefs — religious and political — into the very textbooks that are used in most public schools. This is a clear violation of the Establishment Clause. Because public schools are paid for by the public (hence the “public” part), and not everyone is Christian (gasp!), public monies (aka taxes) cannot be used to teach Christian beliefs. Or any other religion’s beliefs. So, teaching your kids about your religion at home and at church should be good enough. If you can do this, you are not being persecuted.

Is your religious group allowed equal protection under the establishment clause? That is to say, is the government taking their side against you? All religions are protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution. The government is not allowed to give any one religion preferential treatment. Of course, we know that Christianity has, in the past, received such treatment merely by brunt of numbers. But, in the 21st century, we are holding the government to the letter of the First Amendment. This is why we expect all religions to be treated the same under the law. This came as a big surprise in Oklahoma when, in passing a bill to allow religious monuments on state property, all religions had to be given this right. So When the Satanic Temple pressed the issue, the Oklahoma legislature tried to gut their own state constitution. So Remember, if the government promotes one religion over yours, that’s bad. If the government enforces the law in regards to other religions being equal to yours, that’s good. And it’s not persecution.

Are you threatened with violence/injury/death in your country? Were you grabbed by a mob and whipped because of your beliefs? In some African countries, Christians were beaten and killed (pdf) this year: over 2,400 in Nigeria alone, over 4,300 total. Here in America, violence against Muslims has skyrocketed since 2001. On average, 100-150 violent crimes against Muslims occur in the U.S. every year. In Papua New Guinea, at least 2,100 people who were accused of being witches have been killed since the turn of the century. When you lock your door before your bedtime prayers tonight, send up thanks that you don’t have to worry about an angry mob or state police kicking that door in tonight.

All over the world Christians are actually being persecuted. Here in America, people of other faiths — mostly Muslim — are being persecuted. The claims by certain pseudo-Christians that they are also being persecuted are false and self-serving. These claims are nothing more than the childish whining of people who are finally learning that the Constitution doesn’t give them preferential treatment.

“Religious liberty” does not mean the right to dictate the law of the land. It does not mean that you can bully, badger or otherwise worry individuals based on their not following your faith. It does not give you the right to stop doing your government job because of your beliefs (looking at you, Kim Davis).

You are not being persecuted if you are called a bigot because of your beliefs; freedom of speech doesn’t exclude you from the consequences of practicing that right. You’re not being persecuted if you are not allowed to drag your religious beliefs into the public schools. Or build a 10 commandments monument on government (read: public) property.

American Christians seem to think that not getting their way is “persecution.” For American Christians to claim that they are being persecuted is a huge disrespect for those who actually ARE being persecuted in the rest of the world.

T. Steelman, AddictingInfo

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While European countries are being lectured about their failure to take in enough refugees, Saudi Arabia – which has taken in precisely zero migrants – has 100,000 air conditioned tents that can house over 3 million people sitting empty.

The sprawling network of high quality tents are located in the city of Mina, spreading across a 20 square km valley, and are only used for 5 days of the year by Hajj pilgrims. As the website Amusing Planet reports, “For the rest of the year, Mina remains pretty much deserted.”

However, as the Washington Post reports, wealthy Gulf Arab nations like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and others have taken in precisely zero Syrian refugees. Although Saudi Arabia claims it has taken in 500,000 Syrians since 2011, rights groups point out that these people are not allowed to register as migrants. Many of them are also legal immigrants who moved there for work. In comparison, Lebanon has accepted 1.3 million refugees – more than a quarter of its population.

While it refuses to take in any more refugees, Saudi Arabia has offered to build 200 mosques for the 500,000 migrants a year expected to pour into Germany.

Saudis argue that the tents in Mina are needed to host the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, but given that the Arabic concept of Ummah is supposed to offer protection to all Muslims under one brotherhood, surely an alternative location could be found so that Mina can be repurposed to house desperate families fleeing war and ISIS persecution?

While Europe is being burdened by potentially millions of people who don’t share the same culture or religion as the host population, Gulf Arab states refuse to pull their weight, resolving only to throw money at the problem.

The likelihood of the Saudis inviting Syrian refugees to stay in Mina is virtually zero, but the thousands of empty tents serve as a physical representation of the hypocrisy shared by wealthy Gulf Arab states when it comes to helping with the crisis.


Paul Joseph Watson, InfoWars

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Corporate Ad Mocking Burning Man’s Corporate Influence Is So Accurate That Burning Man Might Sue

A new advertisement that mocks Burning Man’s corporate influences and was itself produced by sandwich company Quizno’s (as a faux-installment of The Maze Runner movie franchise) is so meta and self-aware as to be nearly sentient. At once brilliant and sordid, this is the kind of meta-TV that David Foster Wallace warned us about, may he rest in peace. Oh, and perfectly completing the meta-mind-fuck of this whole episode, Burning Man officials are considering a lawsuit against Quizno’s — for commodifying its culture.

As the Reno Gazette-Journal reports, Burning Man isn’t very amused, perhaps because the ad strikes such a nerve. Spokesperson Jim Graham Burni says legal action is being considered because the video is theft of the event’s intellectual property. “We are pretty proactive about protecting our 10 principles, one of which is decommodification,” Graham said. “We get a quite a number of requests each year from companies wanting to gift participants with their product or to capture imagery or video of their products at the event, and we turn them all down.”

Quizno’s and Burning Man have not yet been in contact.

“We’ll be coordinating with our legal team to see what action we can take,” Graham said. In the past, Burning Man has sued the Girls Gone Wild filmmakers on similar grounds and won.


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Kareem Abdul-Jabbar eviscerates Kim Davis and Mike Huckabee for anti-gay unAmericanism

Hall of Fame NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar took hasn’t shied away from activism through visibility and his leadership. In 1971 he famously and publicly changed his name to reflect his Muslim heritage. He has not hidden his use of marijuana for medicinal purposes (he suffers from migraines). He has been outspoken on race issues and recently got into a feud with Donald Trump.

This week he took aim at Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, Mike Huckabee and others who are trying to force their own religious beliefs on other people, most notably to prevent same-sex couples from marrying. Writing for Time, he took shots at Davis’ lack of patriotism and the long history in American of using religion to keep classes of people disenfranchised.

Following this tradition in America, should the Kim Davises of the country be allowed to refuse marriage licenses to divorced people because Jesus spoke against divorce? Or deny licenses to interracial couples because of the story of Ham? Or stone rebellious children because of Deuteronomy? The reason we separate Church and State is because the Founding Fathers believed government should be guided by a balance of morality and reason, not blind religious faith. There are about 35 major Christian denominations in the U.S. Various denominations don’t always agree with each other on what the proper moral action is in the same situation. Then we add in all the other religions and belief systems in our country—all protected by the Constitution—and we see why we don’t go to any one religion to decide what should be legal. The Orthodox Jewish clerk at the DMV cannot deny you a driver’s license because you eat ham. The Muslim clerk at the Social Security office can’t deny you benefits because you drink liquor. The Christian Scientist clerk at the IRS cannot audit your taxes because you chose medical help. Practice your religion in freedom; just don’t make everyone else practice your religion.

You have to read the whole piece, which is one of the best shots at the nonsense surrounding the canonization of Davis by anti-LGBT hate-mongers. And big thanks to Kareem for so eloquently and pointedly eviscerating Davis, Huckabee and their anti-Americanism.

, OutSports

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All of us know “that guy.” He might be a crazy uncle, an annoying co-worker, or that one person who shows up at all the parties and tells you about the merits of the gold standard for currency.

They hate government, they hate everyone else, they might even hate themselves. They are the Teabaggers.

Here is the perfect pledge to make them read aloud and then sign in front of everyone present at any discussion, gathering, rally, or other such gathering of more than just themselves talking to the TV. There is nothing more I can add to this perfect document, so I present it to you now:

I, ________________________, do solemnly swear to uphold the principles of a socialism-free society and heretofore pledge my word that I shall strictly adhere to the following:

I will complain about the destruction of 1st Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 1st Amendment Rights.

I will complain about the destruction of my 2nd Amendment Rights in this country, while I am duly being allowed to exercise my 2nd Amendment rights by legally but brazenly brandishing unconcealed firearms in public.

I will foreswear the time-honored principles of fairness, decency, and respect by screaming unintelligible platitudes regarding tyranny, Nazi-ism, and socialism at public town halls. Also.

I pledge to eliminate all government intervention in my life. I will abstain from the use of and participation in any socialist goods and services including but not limited to the following:

  • Social Security
  • Medicare/Medicaid
  • State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP)
  • Police, Fire, and Emergency Services
  • US Postal Service
  • Roads and Highways
  • Air Travel (regulated by the socialist FAA)
  • The US Railway System
  • Public Subways and Metro Systems
  • Public Bus and Lightrail Systems
  • Rest Areas on Highways
  • Sidewalks
  • All Government-Funded Local/State Projects
  • Public Water and Sewer Services (goodbye socialist toilet, shower, dishwasher, kitchen sink, outdoor hose!)
  • Public and State Universities and Colleges
  • Public Primary and Secondary Schools
  • Sesame Street
  • Publicly Funded Anti-Drug Use Education for Children
  • Public Museums
  • Libraries
  • Public Parks and Beaches
  • State and National Parks
  • Public Zoos
  • Unemployment Insurance
  • Municipal Garbage and Recycling Services
  • Treatment at Any Hospital or Clinic That Ever Received Funding From Local, State or Federal Government (pretty much all of them)
  • Medical Services and Medications That Were Created or Derived From Any Government Grant or Research Funding (again, pretty much all of them)
  • Socialist Byproducts of Government Investment Such as Duct Tape and Velcro (Nazi-NASA Inventions)
  • Use of the Internets, email, and networked computers, as the DoD’s ARPANET was the basis for subsequent computer networking
  • Foodstuffs, Meats, Produce and Crops That Were Grown With, Fed With, Raised With or That Contain Inputs From Crops Grown With Government Subsidies
  • Clothing Made from Crops (e.g. cotton) That Were Grown With or That Contain Inputs From Government Subsidies

If a veteran of the government-run socialist US military, I will forego my VA benefits and insist on paying for my own medical care

I will not tour socialist government buildings like the Capitol in Washington, D.C.

I pledge to never take myself, my family, or my children on a tour of the following types of socialist locations, including but not limited to:

  • Smithsonian Museums such as the Air and Space Museum or Museum of American History
  • The socialist Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson Monuments
  • The government-operated Statue of Liberty
  • The Grand Canyon
  • The socialist World War II and Vietnam Veterans Memorials
  • The government-run socialist-propaganda location known as Arlington National Cemetery
  • All other public-funded socialist sites, whether it be in my state or in Washington, DC
  • I will urge my Member of Congress and Senators to forego their government salary and government-provided healthcare.

I will oppose and condemn the government-funded and therefore socialist military of the United States of America.

I will boycott the products of socialist defense contractors such as GE, Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Humana, FedEx, General Motors, Honeywell, and hundreds of others that are paid by our socialist government to produce goods for our socialist army.

I will protest socialist security departments such as the Pentagon, FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, TSA, Department of Justice and their socialist employees.

Upon reaching eligible retirement age, I will tear up my socialist Social Security checks.

Upon reaching age 65, I will forego Medicare and pay for my own private health insurance until I die.


_____________ _________________________

Signed Printed Name/Town and State

Source: Daily KOS

Your average Teabagger participates in Socialism every day of their life. They LOVE Medicare and Social Security when they are on it, and they feel “entitled” to it personally. They sure do get excited over the idea of new sports stadiums funded by public tax dollars, even though they never really return a solid economic boom to the cities they are built in. And they demand their right to travel unrestricted on public roads (again publicly funded through what they call “illegal theft” but is just really paying taxes), without having to stop at sobriety checkpoints. If there was a malfunctioning traffic light, which caused them to get in an accident, they would sue the city for not repairing it with taxpayer money sooner. No, your average Teabagger is usually more dependent on the government than anyone else, and they survive through socialism. However, you sure wouldn’t know it from reading their crazy emails or drunken rants.



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Elizabeth Warren: I agree with Donald Trump on taxes

Elizabeth Warren has endorsed Donald Trump — on taxes, anyway.

Warren, the Massachusetts senator and populist champion, said Tuesday that she supports Trump’s proposal to levy higher taxes on the rich.

“There are a lot of places where he gets out and talks about important things,” Warren said during an appearance on “The View.” “Donald Trump and I both agree that there ought to be more taxation of the billionaires, the people who are making their money on Wall Street.”

Warren rejected co-host Joy Behar’s suggestion that Trump had taken a “liberal position.”

“It is a pretty right position,” Warren said, arguing that the majority of Americans share that view.

Warren’s praise is likely to give more ammunition to the conservatives who insist that Trump, the current frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination, is actually a liberal. The billionaire developer said last month that he’s in favor of raising taxes on wealthy Americans, winning the approval of another progressive icon: New York Times columnist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman.

But Warren made it clear that she’s not in Trump’s corner, saying that his pledge to deport 11 million immigrants should disqualify him for the White House.

“You can’t be president of the United States if that’s your view about how we’re going to solve immigration reform,” Warren said.

Warren offered other election observations on “The View,” the 19th season premiere for the talk show. She praised Bernie Sanders for “generating an enormous amount of interest, and said she didn’t know if Vice President Joe Biden will run for president. When asked if she would consider serving as Biden’s running mate, as has been rumored, Warren dodged.

“This isn’t about me,” she said. “I’m going to be out there talking about what I believe in, no matter what.”

However, there was one prominent candidate who didn’t get much attention during the interview: Hillary Clinton, whose name was mentioned only briefly by Behar. Warren never brought up the former secretary of state.

The show was friendly turf for Warren, who also made an appearance there last year. Behar, making her return to “The View” after a two-year absence, said Warren is “presidential material.”

“I wish that you would run,” Behar told the senator.


CNN Money

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Cheney’s Iran lie exposed in dramatic fashion

Former Vice President Dick Cheney is scheduled to speak today at a D.C. think tank, delivering remarks intended to condemn the international nuclear agreement with Iran. If an ignominious exchange over the weekend was evidence of his expertise, however, Cheney might want to reschedule, brush up on the details, and rethink his approach.

The underlying challenge for the failed former V.P. is the degree to which his own Iran policy failed spectacularly. Iran didn’t have a meaningful nuclear weapons program until Tehran developed one – during the Bush/Cheney administration. At the time, in response to Iran’s nuclear program, the Bush/Cheney administration did nothing – except, of course, strengthen Iran’s regional power by invading Iraq.

With this in mind, Fox News’ Chris Wallace reminded Cheney over the weekend that Iran “went from zero known [nuclear] centrifuges in operation to more than 5,000.” The Republican’s response was extraordinary.

The Fox News host flashed that data on screen so no one could miss it, and added: “So in fairness, didn’t you leave – the Bush-Cheney administration – leave President Obama with a mess?”

“Well, I don’t think of it that way,” Cheney countered. […] “But the centrifuges went from zero to 5,000,” Wallace pressed.

“Well, they may well have gone but that happened on Obama’s watch, not on our watch,” Cheney replied.

That’s the exact opposite of the truth, as Wallace, to his credit, quickly reminded the former V.P. Iran’s nuclear program blossomed, not under President Obama, but during the Bush/Cheney era.

Cheney wants Americans to blame Obama for a mess Cheney created. Indeed, either Cheney doesn’t know what happened in Iran on his watch, in which case his ignorance effectively disqualifies him from the debate, or Cheney simply doesn’t care about the facts, which renders his misguided opinions meaningless.

I’m afraid there is no third option.

It remains unclear whether Cheney is ignorant or dishonest, but either course leads to an unsettling direction. When it was the far-right former V.P. helping guide the nation’s foreign policy, Iran benefited tremendously. New York’s Jon Chait recently explained:

Bush and Cheney may have rhetorically opposed the Iranian nuclear program. In reality, they allowed it to blossom. As Marc Champion explained several months ago, “at the start of Bush’s presidency, Iran had no operational centrifuge cascades and no stocks of enriched fuel, so it had no means of making a nuclear weapon.” Then things got bad: “By the time Bush left office in January 2009, Iran had just under 4,000 working centrifuges and an additional 1,600 installed. These had, to that point, produced 171 kilos of low-enriched uranium. Oh, and Iran had covertly built a new enrichment facility under a mountain at Qom.”

Measured by results, rather than sound bites, Cheney was the greatest thing that happened to the radical regime in Iran since it took power.

Even Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), an aggressive hawk and no ally of Democrats, conceded not too long ago, “I think the Bush administration, they were a miserable failure when it came to controlling Iran’s nuclear ambition.”

Given all of these inconvenient facts, perhaps it’s not too surprising that Cheney would repeat demonstrably ridiculous talking points on national television. If I were Cheney, I’d feel humiliated by the truth, too.

But if the former vice president wants to play a role in the drama surrounding Iran, he’s too late – we already have enough jesters, and Cheney isn’t qualified for any other role.

Steve Benen, MSNBC

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Last Hurrah For The Old, White, Angry Crowd

This has been a heady summer for old, angry, white men and women.

They have been enraptured as Donald Trump tells respected TV anchorman Jorge Ramos to ”go back to Univision” and suggests that a woman who dares ask him a tough question had “blood coming out of her wherever.”

(You do have to admire Trump’s ability to hold back just a little — “Go back to Univision” was perilously close to “go back to Mexico,” though even that would not have harmed him, and would likely have caused gleeful paroxysms among his supporters.)

But the bad news for this crowd: it is your last hurrah.

I am old and white (well, not old, but old enough to squirm in embarrassment when Hillary Clinton, perhaps the unhippest human in public life, makes reference to Snapchat). And I get angry now and then.

But I don’t get angry about immigration, legal or otherwise, or about women in power, or about people with Asian or Spanish accents trying to make lives for themselves or their families in the United States.

This is, old angry people, the future of America. You can rage against it and try to build fences and you may win in the very short run.

But in the long run, you will lose.

The numbers tell the story, and even if a fence could be built (it can’t) or Donald says he can round up 11 million people and put them on buses headed south (he can’t), the country is changing. Whether that is for the better or worse, it is an unstoppable development.

So fight it and be seen as the xenophobes you may well be, or embrace it — or at least accept it — and participate in the change.

The angry white man who told Jorge Ramos to “get out of my country” after Ramos was briefly removed from Trump’s “news conference” didn’t appear to be Native American, so one has to assume that at some point in this nation’s history, someone told his great, or great-great grandparents, to get out of their country.

When I look at the people in back of Trump when he takes the podium, I wonder: Is it by design that there are so few non-white folks in his audience? Would including such people send a message to Trump supporters that he doesn’t want to send?


Every pundit — most of whom dismissed Trump at first — has concluded that he has “touched a nerve.” Maybe. But even as Trump’s support hovers around 30 percent of Republicans, remember that is 30 percent of roughly 40 percent of people who describe themselves as Republican, or about 12 percent of the general population. (Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina are touching that same anti-Washington nerve, but their base does in fact include a broader demographic.)

But yes, he has touched that nerve and made it scream a loud, ugly scream.

I don’t discount the pain these mostly older and mostly white angry people feel. It is real. They do believe they are losing or have lost their country, and they do want to “take it back” and “make America great again.” But take it back from whom? Who has actually “taken” their country?

I don’t doubt they are hurting. They may feel they have lost jobs or opportunities to the immigrant population, or that their children or grandchildren will.

Those are hard facts to accept. But that is the new reality, and yelling at people to go back to where they came from or hatching absurd schemes to send 11 million people packing won’t change that.

I have two beautiful grandchildren who are half Hispanic, and if my son and his girlfriend’s plans materialize, I may have half black grandchildren in the near future (or Jew-maican, as they have dubbed them).

I may have lost out on jobs and opportunities to women, minorities and certainly, to younger people. But I am not angry about that. It is the history of our country that people come for a better life and face ignorant hatred along the path. I choose not to be part of that ignorance, that hatred.

So enjoy your summer of Trump. Or maybe fall and winter of Trump. But it will end soon. The world and the country are changing, and no amount of anger will hold that back.

Joe Seldner, Huffington Post

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Thanks, Tanks, and Transformation: An Open Letter to Kim Davis

Dear Sister in Christ,

I want to write you this letter to express my sincerest and heart-felt thank you for what you are doing, but not for the reasons you might think. I am quite sure there are many opponents of Marriage Equality who are writing you letters supporting your willful insubordination to the duties of your office in the name of Christ. To many Christians you are taking a stand for “righteousness” and, even if you are jailed or forced to resign from your office because of your actions, you will be celebrated through this country as a martyr for Jesus Christ. No doubt you will be offered a book deal, be invited on news broadcasts, and go on a nationwide speaking tour. The name “Kim Davis” has already been associated with the “Tank Man,” the brave man who ironically and defiantly stood against government oppression by using his body to block the column of tanks rolling through Tiananmen Square in 1989. To many you are a freedom fighter, a veritable patriot opposing government tyranny. You have taken up your cross of righteousness and willingly bear it for truth.

 Except that you are the government. You hold an elected position as clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky. Upon taking your office, you took an oath to support federal and state constitutions and laws. You are not the “Tank Man,” Ms. Davis; you are the Tanks. You have not taken up your cross; you are the Roman legions nailing innocent LGBTQ people to the cross of your faith. The power you hold as clerk is power you willingly took to yourself when you ran for and were elected as county clerk. It is power that, if your conscience is truly stricken because of your deeply held religious beliefs, you can and should willingly lay aside.

So why am I, an openly gay Episcopal priest, thanking you, a brazenly heterosexist Christian? Because your actions have offered me a challenge to excel in love as the Gospels command us, and I love a good challenge. “Love your enemy,” Jesus says in Matthew’s Gospel. “Pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” I willingly admit that it is quite easy to love people who agree with me, who hold my beliefs, who pray like I do, and who believe in the ever expansive and inclusive truth of God like me. It is harder for me to love people who take the Gospels of Jesus Christ and apply them recklessly and without love and, as a result, do spiritual and emotional damage to the very people we are called to love and serve.

I know all too well the debilitating pathology of myopic religion. You view the world in deeply divided absolutes. Right and wrong. Black and white. In and out. Righteous and wicked. Good and evil. Those are your beliefs. As with all religious beliefs, they work until they don’t. The problem with the way that you view the world is that you have effectively cut yourself off from relationship and community with many other people. If God is found “where two or three are gathered,” you have chosen to limit your options to encounter the holy. In your sharp demarcation of creation, you miss the God who swirls at twilight or moves at the margins. You miss God in poor man Lazarus outside the Beautiful Gate, or in the Samaritan Woman at the Well, or in the community of lepers outside the city.

And yet the Gospels compel me to create room for you even though you would not create for me. My invitation to the table obliges me to set a place for you, even though you’d let me starve at yours. I am compelled to take the high road of love, which makes me carry your name in prayer, not that God would change you, but that God would support you and nurture you in all goodness and love. I am compelled by this Gospel to which I am a prisoner in chains to tear down the boundaries of my heart and to welcome you in, even though I would be refused the same hospitality in yours. You would willingly dehumanize me. It is my meet, right, and bounden duty that I affirm your humanity. Like our Lord who willingly offered himself in love to those who could not or would not return it – I am duty-bound to do the same. Why? Because creation will know that we are Christians, not by the way we argue right versus wrong, but by the way we love one another. That’s my journey towards what Joan Chittister, Benedictine nun, calls the “unboundaried heart.”

Prayer is a practice we engage in, not so that we can change God or change other people, but so that we can change ourselves. Including you in my prayers is not so that God will change your heart, but so that God can change mine. The process of conversion implicit to the spiritual life is the process wherein God overthrows the temples of our hearts, removes all the idols and false gods that we have raised upon our small altars, and enthrones himself as Lord. Through that process we learn to see as God sees, not through eyes of division and darkness, but through eyes of love and welcome. Enlightenment, Ms. Davis, does not come through raising walls around our hearts, but by tearing them down and exposing them to the God who comes to us over and over, day after day, in unexpected ways.

Some will attack your appearance. Other will attack your past (though I do find it hard to rationalize your serial remarriages with your desire to uphold the sanctity of marriage… but that’s an aside). I will try to do neither, though I do ask for you patience as God ain’t through with me yet.

Instead I will pray for you. Not in the polite, passive-aggressive, “Bless her heart” Southern meaning of “pray for you,” but really pray for you. I will hold you in my words until I can hold you in heart because when there is space enough to hold you in my heart, that will be the evidence I need to know that God is real and that God is still in the business of conversion and transformation. My initial response to your actions have revealed a darkness in me, and my choice to pray for you is an invitation for the love of God to break this heart of stone.

Until then, I offer my wounded, broken, and fortressed heart on the altar of God’s love and pray that God will transfigure me with the light of Jesus Christ until I shine with his glory.

In the meantime, I pray “Gracious God… help me not be an ass.” Yep, that seems like a good place to start.

Your Brother in Christ,
Fr. Marcus Halley +


From Black and White and in Living Color

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SF Spikes Hosting National Gay Indoor Soccer Tournament September 25-27


The San Francisco Spikes Soccer Club will be hosting the 3rd Annual Folsom Weekend Indoor Soccer Tournament  September 25-27.  For more info see   Spikes allows our entire community the opportunity to compete in local leagues, represent San Francisco in tournaments worldwide, and play recreational soccer. Their president Trey Allen says “we’re excited to welcome LGBT soccer players from teams such as the Albany Empire, Chicago MSA, Long Beach Waverunners, WeHo, NY Ramblers, Philadelphia, Portland and Vancouver and their allies from all over the US who will be competing in this year’s tournament taking place in Bladium Sports Arena 800 W. Tower Ave., Alameda.”

At this traditional tournament you may register as an individual and they will help find you a team. Spectators are welcome and volunteers are still needed to help out as water boys and time keepers.  The weekend festivities begin with a panel discussion hosted by Commonwealth Club San Francisco and the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) “A New Era of LGBT Openness in Int’l  Soccer” including Jaiyah Saelua from American Samoa, the 1st transgender player to compete in a FIFA qualifier.  The panel discussion is hosted by the San Francisco Commonwealth Club.

The San Francisco Spikes Soccer Club was founded as a team in 1982 to represent SF in the 1st Gay Games.  All are welcome to join including any  skill and income levels.   ”We offer fun competitive, intermediate and recreational soccer programming. We offer indoor and outdoor programming, too.”  Becoming a Spike is easy. Register online or show up at one of their indoor intramural nights (Mondays during the late Fall to early Spring) or their Thursday night outdoor practices (Spring- Fall). Click the calendar link on their website   for upcoming practice dates. Email for more info.

Trey Allen (he’s Spider Man in photo), a native of Bakersfield is working on his Master in Public Administration at SF State and has served as president of the SF Spike’s since 2014.  He and I met up at none other than Spike’s Coffee and Tea on 19th St (one of their community partners). He has increased membership overall as well as at their indoor league.  Under his leadership fundraising has increased and registration at this year’s tournament has nearly doubled.  Over a dozen community partners have been recruited.

This year’s 3rd Annual Folsom Weekend Indoor Soccer Tournament from September 25-27 promises to be even better than last year! Join in the fun with the numerous local and out-of-town athletes.  Ask to see if they’re wearing a harness along with their shin guards or the other way around.

Paul Margolis,

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