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Beau and Joe: Why This Week’s Attack on Joe Biden Was Below The Belt

There are times in American politics that require people of good will in both parties to speak out.

Increasingly, that is a rare phenomenon. Candidates love it when their opponents (or potential opponents) are put on the defensive. After all, politics is a tough game and if you are not ready to take the ‘hits’ then get out of the game. This week there was an attack directed at Vice President Biden in an attempt to discourage him from what could be a knock-down, prolonged and tough primary. Joe knows the game well and certainly would not shy away from a good political fight if he decides to enter the race.

However, this attack crossed the line by any definition of decency.

All candidates running for President should have immediately spoken out against the obscene attack. Their silence speaks volumes about this election season.

This column is not going to make that mistake.

Edward-Isaac Dovere this week wrote for Politico that Biden had deliberately leaked that his son Beau’s ‘last wish’ was for his father to run for President. The article bluntly stated that in his moment of intense grief over his son’s death that Joe coldly calculated how to release that information to kick off his presidential campaign. It doesn’t get any more filthy or offensive in politics than that article. The journalist either was a willing participant in an effort to discourage Biden in the week leading up to his decision or he was motivated to fabricate a story that would get him more ‘column inches’. Either one is amoral and the article is a total blatant lie that should be called that by all the candidates running in the Democratic Primary.

It is no coincidence that it was published this week. Someone wanted to make sure Biden knew there would be ‘no limits’ in this campaign.

Anyone who has known Biden knows of his intense love for his family. There is no question that the death of his first wife and daughter left him devastated. Every day he commuted from Wilmington, Delaware to the Senate so he could be by the side of his two critically injured sons. There is no better example of a father in America. This year his pride and joy, his son, died of brain cancer. The grief in the family was real, hard to watch, and heartbreaking. Did he talk to others about Beau’s death? Did he mention his last conversations with his son?

You bet he did.

Anyone who has suffered great loss knows that one of the ways to process grief is to share with others the last days and last conversations. Joe is a talker. My guess is the best way he processes the unthinkable is to reach out to family and friends. Having to share one’s grief with the public is hard. However, anyone who saw Joe’s face during his son’s funeral and believes that he would take time in that moment to use it for politics is one cold-hearted mean son of a bitch.

In addition, the journalist claims Joe manipulated his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, through this horrible moment to support the race. Really, Mr. Edward-Isaac Dovere, really? The last person on earth who could be manipulated is Dr. Biden.

Joe Biden never ever would use his son’s death for political gain. Nor would he expect people to vote for him because of Beau’s death. He is a man of great integrity, dignity and love. Joe is not afraid to stand on the issues and fight the good fight if he enters the race.

It is not clear who planted this story. What is clear is that both Ms. Clinton and Mr. Sanders should loudly be condemning this story as the kind of journalism that has no business in politics. The article was sleazy, dishonest, and disgusting. Anyone associated with it should be ashamed.

No one should have the death of a son used against them politically but especially Joe who has shown the entire country a profile in courage.

David Mixner, Towleroad

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The Shady Group That Played Pope Francis

Around 8 p.m. on September 29, the Liberty Counsel, Kim Davis’s legal representation, tweeted a report from Inside the Vatican that Pope Francis had a secret meeting with their client. Robert Moynihan, the writer who broke the story, had gotten his information exclusively from the Liberty Counsel.

What started out as a rumor about a closed-door meeting quickly evolved into something much bigger—the claim that Pope Francis, for all of his kindness toward LGBT people, was really on the side of the Religious Right.

You can imagine how the secret meeting might have gone, said the Liberty Counsel: Pope Francis embracing a humbled Kim Davis, encouraging her to “stay strong,” and validating her fight against gay marriage. And then mere hours later, with poor, sweet Kim fresh in his memory, telling journalists that government officials—why, just like that Kentucky gal!—have the right to conscientious objection.

But many journalists with connections inside the Vatican, myself included, were having difficulty figuring out exactly what transpired between Francis and Davis because the Liberty Counsel’s story was so incredibly vague. Who, for instance, initiated the meeting—and why?

According to Davis’s lawyer, Mat Staver, the meeting came “from the Vatican itself”—which reads as his deceptive way of saying, “Pope Francis didn’t actually invite Davis to the embassy, but someone with Vatican connections did, so we’re going to keep saying Vatican over and over until enough people think the Holy Father actually invited our client to meet him.”

Though many pressed Staver to release the name of the Vatican official, he held out as long as he could until eventually the secret broke. The meeting was initiated by Archbishop Vigano, Vatican ambassador to the U.S., who is a strong opponent of same-sex marriage.

Last spring, for example, Vigano attended an anti-gay rally organized by the National Organization for Marriage. In a press release, NOM called Vigano the “official representative of Pope Francis,” which—as is implied by the designation—they took as a papal seal of approval for their fight against gay marriage. (This is why Vigano has won himself the ire of many Catholics—he should’ve known that when he wades into a culture war, he drags Francis unwittingly with him.)

The inconsistencies with the Liberty Counsel’s story were infuriatingly apparent from go. For example, Staver told CBS that Francis definitely knew who Kim Davis was, before their meeting: “Pope Francis,” he said, “has been following the story of Kim Davis and obviously is very concerned about religious liberty, not just in the United States, but worldwide.” But in an interview with Time, Staver said that he didn’t know if Francis knew who his client was, but he assumed the pope had heard of her because “her story has been published worldwide.”

The Vatican quickly realized they had to weigh in. Admitting that Francis had some brief encounter with Davis, the statement from the Holy See’s press office made clear that the meeting “should not be considered a form of support” for Davis’s refusal to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Moreover, the Vatican didn’t even consider Davis a “real audience,” saying she was just one of dozens paraded in front of the pontiff at the Vatican embassy.

That sounds like a diplomatic way of saying this: Francis met Davis, but he probably had no idea who she was. And regardless, as James Martin, the Jesuit priest and author, notes in America Magazine, “despite what Ms. Davis said, a meeting with the pope does not ‘kind of validate everything.’”

The Liberty Counsel didn’t back down at all. They argued that Pope Francis made clear in an interview that he does in fact support their client by virtue of the fact that he supports conscientious objection.

Staver argued that whether or not his story was factually accurate, it was symbolically accurate: Pope Francis supports conscientious objection, and since the Liberty Counsel sees Davis as a conscientious objector (many disagree with that assessment, by the way), then they don’t think it’s a lie to present Francis and Kim’s meeting the way they have.

To put it in theological terms, the Liberty Counsel expects us to ignore the letter of what they say and pay attention to the spirit of what they say. This explanation is an odd strategy for, you know, attorneys. “Your honor, you’re getting tripped up here on the evidence! Look at the big metaphorical picture!”

This kind of deceptive wordplay isn’t a new game to the Liberty Counsel. Just last month they pulled something similar.

Imagine this, they said. Tens of thousands of Christian opponents of gay marriage filling a field in Peru, for the sole purpose of lifting up Kim Davis, their sister in Christ, in prayer as she wages war on gay pagans. You can, in fact, imagine this because the Liberty Counsel, Davis’s legal representation promised that it happened. There are even pictures to prove it, they said.

Except, that story wasn’t true either.

The picture of a 100,000-strong rally in Peru that the Liberty Counsel tweeted out to prove that there was global support for their client was actually from a prayer rally from May 2014. It had absolutely nothing to do with Davis.

It now appears, a statement from the Liberty Counsel read, “the photograph presented to [Davis’s attorney] Mat Staver was an honest mistake.” What’s not a mistake, however, the Liberty Counsel said, is that “there is widespread support for Kim Davis. Last week she was recognized by many people as she walked through the Philadelphia, New York LaGuardia, and Washington, D.C. Reagan airports.”

Again, he argued, his lie was symbolically true. Spirit, not letter, and whatnot.

Founded in 1989 by husband and wife attorneys Mathew Staver and Anita Staver, the nonprofit’s goal is to provide legal services to those causes they feel are “dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family,” according to the group’s website. In other words, they provide pro bono legal representation to people who are fighting on their side of the culture war.

The group is notorious for opposing homosexuality and abortion, and fighting for its version of religious freedom. It’s also been extremely critical of President Obama. “I know for a fact salvation is not arriving on Air Force One,” Mat Staver once said.

Ahead of the Obergefell decision, Staver co-authored a Marriage Pledge, in which he “respectfully warned” the judges not to “cross the line” on God-ordained marriage.

“Make no mistake about our resolve. While there are many things we can endure, redefining marriage is so fundamental to the natural order and the common good that this is the line we must draw and one we cannot and will not cross.”

Staver organizes and is a key speaker at an annual conference called The Awakening, which bills itself as “an in-depth Prayer and Patriotism event where people are united by love for our country’s freedom and our faith in Christ.” According to a conference schedule from 2012, topics of discussion include Israel, Islam, the LGBTQ agenda, and abortion.

The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies the Liberty Counsel as a hate group. Importantly, the SPLC does not classify religious groups as hate groups simply because they believe or preach that homosexuality is sinful (religious groups have a protected right to that belief) but because they propagate known falsehoods, and often employ “groundless name-calling.”

For example, despite the fact that reparative therapy has been discredited by science, in 2006 the LC launched its “Change is Possible” campaign, to educate youth that “unwanted same-sex attractions can be overcome.” Railing against society-threatening values like diversity and tolerance, the LC encouraged students to start Gay to Straight Clubs on their campuses, and to ask faculty to include “the ex-gay viewpoint” in all discussions of homosexuality. These initiatives, they suggest, are life-saving: “Former homosexuals have lost their jobs and been physically assaulted because they dared to tell others that people can and do overcome same-sex attractions.”

Multiple requests for comment from the Liberty Counsel went unreturned, but last month Staver told the Orlando Sentinel he rejects the hate label, claiming that “critics have misconstrued his comments and maligned his motivations in service of their own agenda to smear anyone who doesn’t condone homosexuality.”

Staver is the author of the 2004 book Same-Sex Marriage: Putting Every Household at Risk, which argued that “sanctioning same-sex marriage would have a profound destabilizing effect on the health, welfare, education, and morals of the country.” The book is full of pithy, confusing Staverisms, like: “We should not play Russian roulette with marriage.”

“When it comes to anti-LGBT hate groups,” said a representative of the Human Rights Campaign, the Liberty Counsel is “in a class of their own.” The HRC has long followed the Liberty Counsel, noting that the group supports “despicable anti-LGBT criminalization laws abroad, compares being LGBT to drug addiction, and defends the abusive and scientifically discredited practice of ‘so-called’ conversion therapy.”

The Counsel’s involvement with Davis, said the spokesperson, is “merely the latest in a deplorable, decades-long record of attacking LGBT people, their dignity, and their rights.”

A well-researched article on the HRC’s website documents dozens of cases the Liberty Counsel has been involved with. Notably, the group represented the evangelical Scott Lively against charges of “crimes against humanity” for his alleged involvement in the creation of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Act. “This lawsuit against Pastor Lively,” wrote Staver on the Liberty Counsel’s website, “is a terrifying attempt to use vague international law to silence, and eventually criminalize, speech by U.S. citizens on homosexuality and moral issues.”

The suit against Lively should scare everyone, he continued, “because it is a direct threat against every American’s freedom of speech and free exercise of religion by the use of international law.”

Staver is an expert in peddling fear. For instance, an advertisement for one of his Awakening conferences warned, “A war is raging against our shared values. Our faith and freedom are under attack.”

This is a theme of many Liberty Counsel press releases. In a writeup on Kim Davis, Staver warns, “The PURGE of Christians in America has begun.” (The word “purge” is used five times in the release.) Staver warns, “If this judge’s decision is allowed to stand, then every American Christian will be at risk of facing the PURGING of their faith and ultimately the loss of their jobs.”

He then asked Concerned Christians Everywhere for—what else?—their money.

Staver’s fear-mongering tactics have certainly paid off, as Bethany Rodgers explains in the Orlando Sentinel. Since its creation, she writes, “the nonprofit has ballooned from a tiny venture collecting less than $200,000 in yearly donations to a multipronged organization that hauled in more than $4 million in the 2013 tax year.” The group employs 10 attorneys, and has several offices in the U.S., and another one in Israel.

To be clear: This is not some fringe right-wing group enjoying little to no influence in the world. Whenever there’s a fight to be had over gay marriage, abortion, or religious freedom, you can almost count on someone from the Liberty Counsel showing up. That’s why Staver’s stunt with the pope, though maddeningly unfortunate, is business as usual for the culture warrior.

The most glaring irony here is that evangelicals are notorious for their negative views of Catholicism, and in particular the pope. Some evangelicals believe the Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon described in the Book of Revelation. Those beliefs may be limited to a few denominations on the fringes, but it is absolutely the case that evangelicalism holds that Catholicism is doctrinally in error on several major points, including purgatory, prayers to saints, and its veneration of Mary. Indeed, the Liberty Counsel even responded to a few tweets from apparent evangelicals angry that the group would even mingle with the pontiff.

It’s certainly bemusing, then, to hear Davis talk about how humbled she was by Francis’s visit, and how encouraging it was to hear he was “on track” with her marriage crusade. It’s equally bemusing to hear Staver heap praise on Francis’s theological positions.

The Liberty Counsel’s intentions with Francis weren’t spiritual or religious. They were merely political. Everything about that meeting was calculated to further Staver’s anti-gay agenda.

Sadly, for Davis, Staver’s intentions with her also seem to be political. For all of his talk about how much his client loves Jesus, it’s tough to imagine Staver even thinks his client is a Christian. Staver is a Southern Baptist, and adheres to a statement of faith that is markedly different from the one Davis’s church believes. A big difference, and one that is an issue of orthodoxy for any Southern Baptist, is that Davis’s church doesn’t believe in the doctrine of the trinity.

At the end of the day, the Liberty Counsel is after political expediency. They play people, they use their clients like pawns to accomplish their agendas without so much as an afterthought about how they are hurting their clients’ lives. No one from the Liberty Counsel, for instance, spent six days in jail. Nor are any of them wanted by the FBI or Interpol.

True to form, the Liberty Counsel tried to play Francis. They knew that the Vatican, even if they wanted to, couldn’t throw Davis under the bus. First, Francis is a pastor, and he wouldn’t do that. Second, Francis already won himself the ire of plenty of American conservatives for what they consider to be his weak, not-loud-enough stance against homosexuality. Did Francis really want to risk driving those conservatives even further away from the church? It was as if the Liberty Counsel drove Francis into a corner, and dared him to call their bluff.

Unfortunately for the Liberty Counsel, he did. And he did it gloriously.

Remember how the Vatican’s official statement said Davis wasn’t a “real audience” for the pope because he only had one of those?

Well, that audience was with none other than Francis’s former student, who is gay, and his partner of 19 years. CNN broke the news in an exclusive interview with Yayo Grassi, the gay student.

While there’s no video took back up Davis’s story—which will no doubt change several more times, as it already has—there’s video of the Pope embracing his real audience. He knew both men were gay, and partnered. He didn’t use the moment to pray for their conversion to heterosexuality, or to give them a brochure on the ex-gay movement, or to lecture them on church teaching about sexuality. He welcomed them. He embraced them. He kissed them on the cheek. He smiled with them.

Is that meeting proof that Francis wants to change church teaching on homosexuality? No. But it is evidence of Pope Francis’s character—that in spite of his institution’s historical mistreatment of LGBT people, the judgment stops with him.

That’s who Pope Francis is.

Good luck spinning that, Mat Staver.

Brandon Ambrosino, The Daily Beast

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The Problematic Case of Danny Pintauro

Oh Jonathan Bower, you bowl-cut, 80s moppet. Your storylines on your 196 episodes of Who’s the Boss? cumulatively have not amounted to the drama your alter ego Danny Pintauro has drummed up in the past week. I feel like I have been on this rollercoaster with him, and where I was experiencing great pride a few days ago, now I have great anger and frustration.

The ride started with Pintauro’s appearance on Oprah’s Where Are They Now? in which he revealed both that he had previously used crystal meth as a means to more fully explore his sexuality and that he has been HIV positive for the past 12 years.

The cynic in me thought, “Ok, this was a press grab for a press-starved former child star currently working as a manager at PF Chang’s launching a ‘Beacon of Light’ tour when he hasn’t developed relationships yet with LGBT/HIV/AIDS-related organizations.”

But I quickly shushed my inner cynic as Pintauro had to have known he was opening himself up to the myriad trolls of the cyber-sphere and the conservative world who would now be using him as a beacon of sin, promiscuity and any anti-gay tail-pin that only needed a donkey. Sounds brave to me.

Then Danny Pintauro appeared on The View and it was a train wreck of an interview. He was completely shamed by Candace Cameron Bure in one moment and, in the next, was asked by Raven-Symoné on national television if he and his husband practice safe sex. The internet responded by blasting The View hosts for handling the topic in about as wrong a way as they could possibly manage.

The cynic in me yelled, “Who prepared Pintauro for this interview?!? Cameron Bure has been known to espouse conservative ideology and Raven-Symoné has previously said some wackadoodle things about the gay community. How was he not ready to correct Raven-Symoné when she conflated HIV with AIDS and, far more importantly, where was the indignation at the dehumanizing tone and content put forth by his fellow child-stars?”

I shushed my inner cynic, but not as quickly. As much as The View co-hosts were wholly unprofessional, I was frustrated by what I perceived to be Pintauro’s overall fumbling.

Then Danny Pintauro did an exclusive interview with that U.S. magazine, that reputable source of news and sensitivity, claiming that he contracted HIV through oral sex (“a compromised immune system, having been up for a long time, drugs, rough sex, all of that combined with lesions in your mouth, bodily fluids, it’s that easy,”) and shaming the nameless man from whom he contracted HIV. (“The lifestyle he was leading was really irresponsible.”)

The cynic in me was jumping up and down screaming, “Are you kidding me? Are you seriously kidding me?”

At this point, I’m making no move to shush my inner cynic.

Let’s put aside for a second the fact that contracting HIV through oral sex is unbelievably unlikely. The more important point is that it is essentially unprovable. By going out of his way to link his HIV transmission to oral sex, Pintauro has muddied the overall issue of how we talk about HIV/AIDS via a more palatable transmission method. It would have been one thing if he was suddenly putting himself forward as the poster-child for the dangers of oral sex, which aren’t currently part of the health class curriculum. Instead, he did the opposite, minimizing this detail with the horrid summary statement of “it’s that easy.” It only served to add insult to injury that he then went on in the interview to cast the man who gave him HIV in such a shameful light.

Look, the LGBT community can’t always choose our spokespeople. I get that. A former child-star is not the executive director of an LGBT/HIV/AIDS-related organization who has undergone an extensive vetting and interview process to ensure that messaging, outcomes and overall media savvy are all right on point.

But Danny Pintauro needs to put his Beacon of Light press tour on hiatus immediately and fully immerse himself in what it means to be out front representing those living with HIV in a society where the level of discourse around HIV/AIDS is riddled with misconceptions, misinformation and tactlessness (see: The View). He isn’t the spokesperson we chose. But he’s the one we currently have. And he needs to do better.

Ken Schneck, Huffington Post

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11-year-old ‘bully’ murdered 8-year-old neighbor with a shotgun after dispute over puppy: police

An 11-year-old Tennessee boy has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of an 8-year-old neighbor girl.

The Jefferson County sheriff said the boy, whose name has not been released, used his father’s 12-gauge single-shot shotgun to kill his next-door neighbor, McKayla Dyer.

The girl had been outside playing about 7:30 p.m. Saturday when the older boy asked to see her puppy, but she told him no, said Latasha Dyer, the girl’s mother.

She said the boy, who had bullied her daughter since moving to the mobile home park in White Pine, went home to get the shotgun and then shot her daughter in the chest.

“He was making fun of her, calling her names — just being mean to her,” Dyer said. “I had to go the principal about him, and he quit for a while, and then all of a sudden yesterday he shot her.

The girl was pronounced dead at an area hospital.

“She was a precious little girl, she was a mommy’s girl — no matter how bad of a mood you were in, she could always make you smile,” Dyer said.

The boy was charged in juvenile court, but a judge will later decide whether to transfer his case to adult court.

“Wanting to see a puppy, the little girl laughed and told him no, and that was it,” said neighbor Chasity Arwood. “Guns should be under lock and key if you have a child, nowhere in arms reach of a child.”


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Seeking President, No Experience Necessary

IF you are looking for evidence of the deep antipathy that exists in the Republican Party toward politicians, consider that the three candidates leading the race for the Republican presidential nomination — Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina — have zero years of governing experience among them.

In fact, for many Republican voters, governing experience appears to be downright disqualifying, even if you are highly accomplished, even if you have been a governor who is not complicit in any of the failures and dysfunction of Washington. According to a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, Republicans prefer an outsider to a candidate with experience in the political system by a 24-point margin (60 to 36). People who would never board an airplane piloted by a person who has never flown before, or even used a flight simulator, apparently want to elect as president someone who has never served in public office.

A phenomenon like this doesn’t arise ex nihilo; an ethos creates political openings that candidates, especially skillful manipulators of public opinion, can seize on. What’s happening right now is a reflection of the state of mind of Republican voters and bears close inspection, since it is shaping the narrative of the campaign.

This climate can’t be understood apart from the aftershock of President Obama’s winning re-election. Republicans could rationalize his victory in 2008. Mr. Obama was something of a blank slate, he presented himself as a nonideological, unifying figure, and the financial crisis, which heightened in the months before the election, virtually ensured his triumph. That year, the stars aligned in just the right way for Democrats.

But by 2012, President Obama was viewed by Republicans as a complete failure whose repudiation was inevitable. The fact that he easily won re-election, with 332 electoral votes to Mitt Romney’s 206, was a huge psychological blow to Republicans, much like the one Democrats experienced in 1984, when Ronald Reagan — despised by many liberals — won re-election in a landslide.

The way this has worked itself out is in rage directed at Republican lawmakers. Many on the right refuse to recognize the institutional constraints that prevent lawmakers from doing what they want them to do, which is use their majority status in Congress to reverse the early achievements of the Obama presidency. One telling example: Advocates for the 2013 government shutdown insisted that doing so could fully defund the Affordable Care Act, when in fact no such thing was possible. Obamacare’s subsidies are an entitlement whose spending levels are not set by the annual appropriations process, meaning a shutdown could not unilaterally defund or eliminate it. No matter; with Republicans in control of the House and Senate, the Obama agenda was expected to be undone root and branch. The fact that it could not be undone created fury. As one friend recently wrote to me, with reference to Mr. Trump, “We are frustrated by the impotency of Republicans we have elected. Maybe this loudmouth boor can actually accomplish something.”

Many grass-roots Republicans feel abandoned by and alienated from the Republican leadership — a September Fox News poll shows 60 percent of Republicans feel betrayed by politicians from their own party — and Mr. Trump, Mr. Carson and Mrs. Fiorina have been the means by which they express their unhappiness. Since elected politicians have failed so miserably, why not look to outsiders to shake things up?

But anger is not the only emotion coursing through Republican veins. There is also a widespread sense of doom. Republicans have spoken openly about feeling alienated from America, in part because of changing demographic trends. Rush Limbaugh, on the day after Mr. Obama’s re-election, admitted, “I went to bed last night thinking we’re outnumbered. I went to bed last night thinking all this discussion we’d had about this election being the election that will tell us whether or not we’ve lost the country — I went to bed last night thinking we’ve lost the country. I don’t know how else you look at this.”

Mr. Trump in particular gives voice to this feeling, declaring that “the American dream is dead” and that “our country is going to hell.” Ronald Reagan’s evocation of a shining city on a hill has been replaced by Mr. Trump’s decrepit castle on the rocks. Mr. Carson, for his part, recently declared Muslims unfit to be president. On several occasions he has compared the United States to Nazi Germany, the kind of thing one used to hear from the left.

More than at any point in recent times, then, the Republican Party — large parts of it, at least — is moving in the direction of insularity, defensiveness and discomfort with people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Many on the right now see things as a pitched battle between “us” and “the other.”

All of this presents a serious threat to the Republican Party. A party that is already at a disadvantage in presidential elections is on course to alienate huge numbers of nonwhite voters, including some of the fastest-rising demographic groups in America. Four years ago, Republican presidential candidates were talking about self-deportation and electrified fences; today the front-runner is talking about forced deportation, ending birthright citizenship and calling for a “pause” on green cards issued to foreign workers. The year 2012 was hardly a model when it came to appealing to nontraditional Republican voters, but this is a giant step in the wrong direction.

One way to correct this is by putting forward public policies that channel this anger toward constructive ends; that champions a conservative agenda to reform and modernize government in ways that better people’s everyday lives. There is no shortage of areas to focus on — our tax code and regulatory regime, our health care and entitlement systems, our schools and policies on energy and immigration, all of which are badly out of touch with the needs of our time. But temper of mind and disposition, the orientation of heart and spirit matter as well.

The struggle within the Republican Party right now centers on those who, figuratively speaking, want to rebuild the village and those who want to burn it down, those who want to fight irresistible demographic changes and those who want to responsibly embrace them, those who think they can win over new Americans and those who want to turn them away. There are a number of Republican presidential candidates — senators, governors and former governors — who, if given the chance, can make the Republican Party the party of aspiration instead of resentment, the party for this era instead of one seeking to reclaim a lost era.

In his autobiography, the Scottish novelist and former member of Parliament John Buchan wrote that he was “brought up in times when one was not ashamed to be happy, and I have never learned the art of discontent.” He added, “It seems to me that those who loudly proclaim their disenchantment with life have never been really enchanted by it.” Republican voters would be wise to choose leaders who embody enchantment rather than the art of discontent, who have known the uplands and can lead the rest of us there.

New York Times, Peter Wehner

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41 Signs You’re A Jaded San Franciscan

1. It’s a “corner store” not a “bodega”
2. When traveling, you get confused when there’s nowhere to put your recycling and compost.
3. You’re no longer eligible for 7×7′s Hot 20 Under 40.
4. You’re genuinely baffled by the sight of children.
5. You’re no longer fazed by human feces.
6. You think it’s cool that your band opened for Sleater-Kinney at the Tip Top.
7. You say you’re over Dolores Park… when you’re on your way to Dolores Park.
8. You go batshit insane and remove all your clothing the moment the temperature breaks 78 degrees.
9. You no longer yell “back door!” or “step down!” for fellow Muni riders because it’s more satisfying to watch them struggle.
10. You think people who call it “the BART” or “the Muni” should be immediately deported to North Dakota.
11. Same goes for people who eat a burrito with a knife and fork.
12. You know that tacos are the new burrito.
13. And pupusas are the new tacos.
14. You remember when the city was a gay mecca
15. You throw a tantrum every time you try to find food after 10 p.m.
16. You’ve gotten food poisoning twice from bacon wrapped hot dogs on Mission Street, and you will still get it a third time.
17. You’re completely blind to naked old men with cockrings.
18. You miss the days when you could do way too much E on Saturdays at Club Universe
19. You’ve STILL never been to Alcatraz.
20. You’ve actually taken a moment to look up who your District Supervisor is.
21. You’ve appeared in Gloss magazine.
22. You used to get drunk with Ana Matronic at Trannyshack when it was at the Stud.
23. You actually went to this cyber cafe.
24. Uber seems like a perfectly normal, affordable way to get around town.
25. You’ve lived here for more than two months.
26. You have four terrariums.
27. You know science museums are actually for grownups.
28. The F line just seems loud and annoying
29. You remember when Mecca was hip and Farallon was brand new.
30. You want a serious relationship just so you can split your rent.
31. You worked at The Industry Standard.
32. You remember when the Lion Pub was a gay bar.
33. You got laid at the Black House in the Castro.
34. You say things like, “I don’t go North of Geary.”
35. Aside from work, you never leave your neighborhood.
36. Napa sounds like a pain in the ass to get to.
37. Oakland sounds like a pain in the ass to get to.
38. North Beach sounds like a pain in the ass to get to.
39. You’ve stopped trying to compare San Francisco to New York.
40. The next time you step off a BART train from SFO, you’ll realize you secretly kind of missed the faint odor of weed and urine.
41. You may need a liver transplant.


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Pope Francis: Kim Davis Is A Liar And I Don’t Support Her Bigotry

Tea Party Christians were jubilant when their most recent patron saint, the homophobic county clerk Kim Davis was apparently invited for a secret meeting with Pope Francis during his first official U.S. visit. They saw it as a vindication of her stance on same-sex marriage and an endorsement of the idiotic stunt she pulled when she was jailed for refusing to do her job and issue judge-ordered marriage licenses. Unfortunately, Davis and Ted Cruz will be severely disappointed, as the Vatican has come out denying her version of the story:

The brief meeting between Mrs. Kim Davis and Pope Francis at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington, DC has continued to provoke comments and discussion. In order to contribute to an objective understanding of what transpired I am able to clarify the following points: Pope Francis met with several dozen persons who had been invited by the Nunciature to greet him as he prepared to leave Washington for New York City. Such brief greetings occur on all papal visits and are due to the Pope’s characteristic kindness and availability. The only real audience granted by the Pope at the Nunciature was with one of his former students and his family. The Pope did not enter into the details of the situation of Mrs. Davis and his meeting with her should not be considered a form of support of her position in all of its particular and complex aspects.

Pope Francis did not tell her to “stay strong” as Davis purports. The Pope did not know who Kim Davis was when the meeting occurred; a writer at Esquire believes it was a stunt organized by the papal nuncio, a supporter of the previous Pope. A senior official at the Vatican reports that there is a sense of regret about the meeting; they did not want to give the impression of endorsing Davis’ homophobia or her attention-seeking, self-imposed “martyrdom”.

The Pope actually met and embraced a gay couple he had previously worked with in Argentina before meeting Davis. While we should remember that the Holy Father isn’t quite the bastion of liberalism that we would like to believe, he is the most progressive pope we’ve had in some eighteen hundred years, and his refusal to be associated with the Kim Davis media circus should be taken as a condemnation of her bigotry.

Colin Taylor, Occupy Democrats

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Assistant DA Sharmin Bock Cleared in Investigation by Alameda County District Attorney Office

Bock Returns to Work in Alameda County D.A. Office 

Former DA Candidate Acted Legally, in Accordance with Campaign Finance Laws

Oakland—The Alameda County District Attorney’s Office today announced it completed an investigation of Assistant District Attorney Sharmin Bock and concluded that no ethical or legal campaign laws were violated in her unsuccessful bid for the Office of San Francisco District Attorney in 2011, according to the Office of Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley. 

Sharmin Bock returned to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office after the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office’s investigation cleared the 26-year legal veteran of any wrongdoing over campaign finance issues.

While on administrative leave, we conducted a thorough and comprehensive investigation to determine whether any ethical violations were breached when she (Bock) ran for San Francisco District Attorney.  We (Alameda County District Attorney’s Office) have concluded that no ethical rules were violated.  Agreeing to ask for contributions from respective donor bases was in compliance with the local campaign finance laws.  There was no violation of any federal, state or local law,” according to a memo from Chief Assistant D.A. Kevin E. Dunleavy on behalf of Alameda County District Attorney O’Malley.

“I am honored to be back at work and serving the people of Alameda County,” Sharmin Bock said.  “It is unfortunate that the false and reckless accusations of a criminal defense attorney caused this situation, but this case demonstrates the justice system does work.  An investigation by the Alameda County District Attorney’s office cleared me of any illegal or unethical behavior.”

Bock was placed on paid administrative leave in early August pending an investigation in to whether she violated any laws while attempting to retire campaign debt from her 2011 campaign for the Office of San Francisco District Attorney. 

The false allegations against Bock were made by a criminal defense attorney for Raymond Chow, who also targeted other elected leaders, in a desperate effort to deflect attention from his client who faces a significant prison term. The defense motion in which the claims were made was rejected by United States District Court Judge Charles Breyer.

Bock was in compliance with campaign finance laws when she and then State Senator Leland Yee solicited contributions from their respective contributors to retire campaign debt after they both lost their races. Bock was also completely unaware that Yee was involved in criminal activity.

“It is my privilege to work at the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office which has the very highest of ethical standards.  I have always and will continue to always uphold these standards with pride,” Bock said.

Sharmin Bock, Assistant District Attorney Alameda County District Attorney Office

Sharmin Bock, Assistant District Attorney Alameda County District Attorney Office

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“Curran: Under Construction” Continues With Geoff Sobelle’s “The Object Lesson”

The Curran is proud to present Geoff Sobelle’s The Object Lesson as part of “Curran: Under Construction,” the ground-breaking series of intimate and non-traditional programming curated by Carole Shorenstein Hays. The six-performance limited engagement will begin Wednesday, October 14 and run through October 18 at the Curran (445 Geary St). As recently announced, “Curran: Under Construction” kicks-off a new era for the historic theatre, which is undergoing a major renovation and will reopen as a full-sized venue in early 2017. Throughout “Curran: Under Construction,” audiences will enter through the Curran’s stage door alleyway and be seated on stage alongside the action.

The Object Lesson is an environmental performance piece created by theater artist and Stanford graduate Geoff Sobelle. With boxes stacked to the ceiling of the space, Sobelle transforms the theater into an epic storage facility of gargantuan proportion. The audience is invited – in fact, encouraged – to roam through the installation before the show begins, and peek into the boxes. The shown unpacks our relationship to everyday objects: breaking, buying, finding, fixing, trading, selling, stealing, storing, and becoming buried under a world of things. Hilarious and heartbreaking, The Object Lesson is a meditation on the stuff we cling to and the crap we leave behind.

The Object Lesson won the top prize at Edinburgh Fringe in 2014 and played a sold-out run at BAM’s Fisher Theater later in the year. Directed by David Neumann, the production features a scenic installation created by Steven Dufala.

“Curran: Under Construction” features an array of wildly inventive and diverse works, each with ties to the Bay Area. This ground-breaking festival began last week with The Events (September 23 – 26) and also includes Ghost Quartet (October 23-25 & 28-31), Steve Cuiffo is Lenny Bruce (November 19-21), Stew – Notes of a Native Song (December 3-5), Story Pirates’ Greatest Hits Show (December 12-13 & 19-20) and Taylor Mac’s 24-Decade History of Popular Music (January 17-31). Tickets for “Curran: Under Construction” offerings are priced from $25 to $50 and can be purchased by exclusively via Eventbrite by visiting SFCURRAN.COM, where you can also find all the latest information about “Curran: Under Construction” and plans for the new Curran theatre.

Built in 1922, the Curran has housed some of the most important productions in theater history and has maintained a reputation over the course of its life as one of the most prestigious live entertainment venues in North America. Now, nearly 100 years after it welcomed its first Bay Area audiences, the Curran is undergoing a major restoration and renovation. Under the curation of eight-time Tony Award winner Carole Shorenstein Hays, the Curran will reopen as a 1,600 seat venue in late 2016 with the new mission. Inspired by the unique entrepreneurial spirit of the Bay Area, as well as Ms. Shorenstein Hays’s lifelong passion for creatively daring, cutting-edge material, the Curran will provide a home for a handpicked selection of the most exciting stage works being conceived and created anywhere in the world.

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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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