Archive | Front Page

Wife of top Texas anti-gay crusader divorces him to be with lesbian partner

The leader of an anti-LGBT group who has joined with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to ban same-sex marriage had his own marriage end after his wife began a romantic relationship with another woman.

According to court documents obtained by Lone Star Q, Corrine Morris Rodriguez Saenz was dating another woman when she filed for divorce from Jonathan Saenz in 2011. Less than six months later, Jonathan Saenz took over as the president of the state’s top anti-gay group, Texas Values.

Corrine Saenz told the court that she wanted to end her marriage on the grounds that it was “insupportable due to discord or conflict of personalities … that destroys the legitimate ends of marriage and prevents reasonable expectations of reconciliation.”

Jonathan Saenz initially asked the court to refuse to grant the divorce, and to bar “any unrelated adult, with whom the parent has an intimate, romantic, emotional, and/or dating relationship to remain in the presence of the children, including but not limited to Ercimin Paredes, a/k/a Ercilia M. Paredes.”

Paredes was reportedly Corrine Saenz’s girlfriend, and the two worked together at as teachers at Becker Elementary School in the Austin Independent School District.

Nearly two years after the divorce battle began, Jonathan Saenz filed a counterpetition for divorce in May of 2013, accusing Corrine Saenz of adultery. The petition also asked that Paredes be permanently barred from access to the children.

The divorce became final on Aug. 1, 2013, and the Agreed Final Decree of Divorce made no mention of Paredes.

The Final Decree stated that both parents had the right “to direct the moral and religious training of the children.”

Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled that Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage violated the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. Jonathan Saenz has been working alongside Attorney General Abbott, the Republican Party’s nominee for governor, to overturn the decision.

“There is wide support for the state’s rights and for marriage to remain between one man and one woman. That cuts across political lines, across faith lines and across demographic lines,” Jonathan Saenz said earlier this month.

From Dave Edwards, The Raw Story

Continue Reading

The pastor of a church in Tampa, Fla., says he does not regret canceling a funeral service because the deceased man was gay

The pastor of a Tampa, Fla., church that canceled a man’s funeral because the deceased was gay is standing by his decision, despite negative reaction from around the nation.

“I don’t hate gay people,” Pastor T.W. Jenkins of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church told Tampa TV station WFLA, which first reported the news. Jenkins said he does, however, preach against marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Julion Evans was married to his partner of 17 years, Kendall Capers. In his obituary, Capers was listed as the surviving spouse, which Jenkins said caused church members to complain. “It would have been more of a negative response to hold the funeral than to cancel it,” the pastor said.

Evans, 42, died in July of a rare illness called amyloidosis, which destroys bodily organs. As reported last week, his mother, Julie Atwood, was baptized at New Hope Missionary Baptist, and some members of her family still attend services there. While her son and his husband did not go to the church, the family requested that the funeral be held there, as  the church offered a space large enough to accommodate the crowd of hundreds expected to attend. The service was scheduled for July 26, but canceled the day before by the church. The funeral had to be moved within 24 hours. As there was not enough time to notify all of the mourners, some people missed the funeral.

Otis Cooper, 29, who performed the ceremony, is a pastor at New Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa. Atwood attends his church, and he had initially agreed to perform the ceremony at New Hope, then helped the family find another location, Blount & Curry Funeral Home. He told WFLA that he “can’t make a judgment call for” Jenkins, just as Jenkins “can’t make a judgment call for me.”

Capers, Evans’s husband, said he would have understood the church’s decision not to allow the service, had it given the family proper notice. Meanwhile, Atwood said getting the call about the cancellation was “devastating. I did feel like he was being denied the dignity of death.”


Continue Reading

Tragedy in Nigeria as hundreds of Catholics found burnt alive by Muslims

This is a brutal example of how far the struggle between Muslims and Catholics in Nigeria has reached.

Muslims are determined to impose their ‘religion’ all over Africa as well as in other continents and countries of the world. Islam has but one goal: rule the world at any cost!

And where are the International Human Rights Organizations? Christians are burnt alive in Nigeria: a horrific Holocaust right in front of International indifference! As denounced by Father Juan Carlos Martos, on behalf of the Missionari Clarettiani, via del Sacro Cuore di Maria, Rome, Italy.

By publishing this graphic document on Facebook, I have intended to make the world aware of certain terrible events totally ignored or minimized by the mainstream media; an authentic genocide so cruel and inhuman only comparable with the most hateful and vile acts in the Nazi extermination camps.


To my great surprise, Facebook has criticized me for the publication of this graphic document as a proof of the Holocaust that Christians have been suffering in Nigeria in the last ten years. According to Facebook’s Security policy of the ‘social’ Network, this photo has been classified as ‘pornographic’, ‘violent’ or ‘inappropriate’ and hence I was disallowed to publish any picture for a week. And I was threatened drastic measures if I insist publishing any document that prove the terrible violations of Human Rights in Nigeria. This attitude by the (Spanish) Facebook Management is an attack to the freedom of expression as much as a
shameful insult to the 500 victims (only in this horrible episode) slaughtered by Islamic terror only for being christian.

I thought that this social network, originated in the United States , would not bend its knees in front of terror.
Especially, when still healing their wounds suffered in the gruesome 9/11 attack, just as our own 3/11 at Madrid railway station, all innocent victims of the wild fury and insanity of Islamic terror.

This seems even more unacceptable in Spain, a Democratic state, where the rights of opinion, expression and religion are guaranteed by the Constitution (Art. 16 and 20), if there is an attempt to limit such rights, let alone through threats and coercion thus weakening their freedom of expression by condemning as “inappropriate” a graphic document (not a photomontage) which reflects a brutal reality in all its crudeness.
Contrarily, the Administrators of Facebook Spain should welcome this public protest advocating that such a barbarian act will never be replicated and that its perpetrators will be brought to justice. This is a right and duty of every citizen: a service to society, ultimate goal, I feel, of any network that defines itself as ‘social’.

Regrettably, if the murders continue, this is greatly because truth is always hidden to the sovereign people, so that they may not be aware and ‘disdained’ by it: complicit silence by the mainstream media leads to the indifference of the international political community facing this unspeakable Holocaust! Let alone the cowardice already rooted in the western world facing the Islamic terror. A consequence of the stupid ” Alliance of civilizations”: another regrettable incident of our former Prime Minister Rodriguez Zapatero.

Can you imagine the reaction of the Islamic terrorist organization in the (impossible) case of a massacre of Muslims in a mosque, by the hands of christian terrorists? And how widely would our media cover and condemn the crime and the criminals??

Therefore, from this modest blog, I ask a favor from all people who are reading me: please distribute this photo and its comments using all the media you have. If only for commemorating these martyrs since, unfortunately, Facebook seems to be on the side of the executioners by preventing the publication of such tragic events.

Statement by Father Juan Carlos Martos cmf Secretariat of PV Clarettiani Missionaries

Posted by EU Times

Continue Reading

The Gorilla Foundation Announces New Focus, Key Hires and Important Organizational Changes

KoKo gorilla

Koko gorilla

San Francisco–The Gorilla Foundation announced a series of important changes today, including anticipated new management positions, potential new Board members and a certain new focus, all designed to strengthen one of the world’s leading organizations for great ape understanding, care and conservation. “We have come to a crossroads in our Foundation’s history, and we have recognized the need to do more for the cause of the great apes through building global empathy for their preservation and care”

These improvements, made after an extensive internal review with the help of the Foundation’s Scientific Advisory Board, Governing Board and outside consultants, seek to balance the vital goals of caring for and protecting the gorillas (Koko and Ndume) while refocusing and reinvigorating the organization’s core mission of learning about gorillas through direct communication, and applying that knowledge to advance great ape conservation and prevent their extinction through education, compassionate care and empathy worldwide.

“We have come to a crossroads in our Foundation’s history, and we have recognized the need to do more for the cause of the great apes through building global empathy for their preservation and care,” said Dr. Penny Patterson, the lead researcher behind the Foundation’s groundbreaking “Project Koko,” which is to date the longest running interspecies communication project in history and the only one involving gorillas.

“Koko and her family have taught us so much over many decades and now, more than ever, we feel it is incumbent on this organization to share what we’ve learned with people across the globe, as a way to help put an end to poaching and build compassion for enhancing the care of gorillas and other great apes everywhere,” she said.

The Gorilla Foundation was founded in 1976 by Dr. Patterson, Ron Cohn and philanthropist Barbara Hiller to expand the groundbreaking and unique work of “Project Koko,” the first-ever project to study the linguistic capabilities of gorillas through sign language. Today, after decades of research and learning, Koko is able to use more than 1,000 signs, understands as many words of spoken English, and demonstrates the amazing ability to communicate her thoughts and express her feelings through sign language.

With the goal of protecting and honoring this legacy for generations to come, the Foundation’s leadership today announced, in addition to organizational changes, a series of goals and programs that are designed to make better use of what Koko and her family have taught us over the years. These include:


1. Gorilla Emotional Awareness Study (GEARS) will provide an analysis of Koko’s awareness of her emotions (introspection) and the emotions of others (empathy), in research made possible by her unique communication abilities.

2. Digital Data Archival of Project Koko for Future Crowd-Sourced Research will involve a partnership with a major university to digitize and preserve four decades of unique Gorilla Foundation data and archive it in a form that will facilitate analysis and collaboration.


3. Koko Signing App will allow the public to learn to sign with Koko and to understand her in videos designed to advance the public’s knowledge about gorillas and learn about their need for compassionate conservation.

4. Project Koko Interactive Database will be made available to scientific colleagues and great ape facilities so that they can make use of our direct experience and data, gained through years of communicating with gorillas.


5. Publication of new book (with video), Michael’s Dream, about the remarkable life of Koko’s gorilla friend Michael, who, on several occasions, communicated (in sign language) his memory of witnessing his gorilla mother being killed by poachers in Africa. This was documented on video.

6. Wide Distribution of Koko’s Kitten & Michael’s Dream Books and Educational Curricula throughout Africa, to strengthen compassionate conservation values and support the preservation of endangered gorillas In their homelands. This builds on our successful distribution of Koko’s Kitten (and curriculum) to over 100,000 students in Cameroon.


7. Enhancement of Koko & Ndume’s facilities to enrich their lives, expand their options for exploration and privacy, and create capacity for a larger gorilla family.

8. Gorilla Interspecies Communication Work/Play-Station will provide the gorillas with the use of interactive computer technology (including “tough tablets”) to allow them to have fun, express their preferences and have more control over their environment.


9. Expanding the Foundation’s Board of Directors to include more experts in our highly specialized field, as well as strategically selected business, finance and fundraising experts.

10. Developing a new executive team for leadership, fundraising and building strategic alliances.

These changes are being made as part of a focused process with three primary goals: 1) to ensure the care and protection of Koko and Ndume now and into the future and 2) to better apply the lessons learned by the Foundation to protect and enhance the lives of gorillas and other great apes worldwide, and 3) to allow our enlightening dialogues with Koko, Ndume and other gorillas to continue.

The Foundation’s leadership is tremendously appreciative of the contributions of its Board of Directors, Advisory Board, and its many consultants and colleagues, who were integral to the development of this new vision.

For more information about the Gorilla Foundation, visit


Continue Reading

In Kansas Primaries Yesterday, The Kochs Lost. Badly. by

From The Daily Kos

The Kansas primaries yesterday taught us a great many things, but one lesson that we learned is that large money spending in races by Koch backed Americans for Prosperity and Kris Kobach backed Prairie Fire PACs backfired.

I’ll talk about the results in many races, but I want to highlight a few:

Kansas House District 122

R-J. Russell “Russ” Jennings     1,475     65%
R-Stan Rice     802     35%

Kansas House District 9

R-Kent L. Thompson     1,505     60%
R-Chad E. VanHouden     1,005     40%

Kansas House District 21

R-Barbara Bollier     1,777     59%
R-Neil Melton     1,215     41%

Kansas House District 19

R-Stephanie Clayton     2,322     68%
R-Jennifer Flood     1,107     32%

These numbers out of these Republican state Primaries should put a smile on the face of every moderate to progressive in Kansas and send a giant red flag up to the Kochs.  Why?

The Republican primary has long been the deciding ground for many races within Kansas.  In 2012, unhappy with the level of moderates in the Kansas Republican Party, Sam Brownback engaged in an effort to sweep them out by running primary opponents against them who would be lock step with his issues.   This campaign against moderates was largely successful, and we ended up with the current slate in the Kansas Statehouse.

Last night, however, the same tactic failed miserably.

Kris Kobach spent significantly in mail pieces and an ad campaign against Thompson and Russ Jennings.   He did so on the back of a single issue:  Kobach wanted Turn Gay Away legislation and they voted no.

But Kobach and Chamber of Commerce spending was all for naught, as the moderate Republican walked right through.    The real story of the night came out of Johnson County proper, where Stephanie Clayton – a moderate Republican who has been under fire, whipped her opponent, a hand picked Koch candidate who stood with them and against Stephanie on significant issues like Renewable Energy, education, etc.

Clayton faced a high money campaign against her, with mailpieces from Kansas Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity and door knocking campaigns going on to oust her from office.

What happened?   Clayton walked away with 68% of the vote in a clear rebuke of all the money spent.   Clayton couldn’t match AfP or Chamber in dollars, but her performance at the League of Women Voters and her ability to reach out to her constituents and explain the issues proved to be the ultimate trump card – and despite the big money spend, she was never in any real trouble it seems.

This is a huge rebuke of the way Koch, AfP and the Chamber of Commerce have done business in Kansas.

Numerous races in Kansas last night went much farther than they should have, and resulted in some odd moments.

Sam Brownback, facing a significant protest vote was ON VIDEO declaring that the reason why Pro-Pot Jennifer Winn garnered so much of the vote was because of Obama.  That’s right.   Obama caused people to vote for Jennifer Winn.

In Western Kansas, Tim Huelskamp went down to the wire, giving up 47% of the vote to “Not Tim Huelskamp” LaPolice in a primary.   People have written off District 1, but the momentum behind “Not Huelskamp” is in fact pretty real.   The question is, can Democrats capitalize on that?   We’re going to have to find out.

Margie Wakefield Had to have a wry smile as Lynn Jenkins found herself with a protest vote that also went over 20% – what makes that troubling for Lynn Jenkins is that Jenkins spent significant money in the last few weeks going up with ad buys in the Pittsburg/Joplin area and out of Topeka.   This was not an expected result, as most felt that Jenkins wouldn’t be sullied by the Brownback problem as part of the Republican leadership and unconnected with the Huelskamp fiasco, but she also couldn’t escape getting hit with some of the debris.

The one dark spot  For all the good news, there was one race in Kansas that had a pretty troubling result.  Kansas House District 30, Olathe Kansas had a potentially scary result in that Randy Powell, anti-choice, anti-gay minister managed to be one of the very few tea conservatives who cleared through the primary.   He’s in a district that is fairly divided and where a Democrat last ran with a micro-campaign netted 47% of the vote.

Randy Powell is one of those candidates that has a real shot to cause real damage in the state house, and Liz Dickinson’s campaign becomes much more important for Democrats to win and overturn.   Powell, who is openly committed to re-advancing Turn Gay Away legislation and ‘anything’ that can stop choice, birth control, etc. makes for a dangerous potential candidate.   The upside is that he won a divided Republican primary where the moderates split away and left him a thin margin win.

It is now pretty important that Democrats actually commit to helping Liz Dickinson win if we want to not just flip a house seat but we have a desire for sanity.


Continue Reading

Animal rights activists smash Star Grocery windows

The window that was vandalized at Star Grocery on Claremont Avenue. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

The window that was vandalized at Star Grocery on Claremont Avenue. Photo: Frances Dinkelspiel

Two FBI agents visited Star Grocery on Claremont Avenue on Monday to investigate a broken window the government believes was smashed by animal rights activists.

The large plate glass window of the market, which has been run by the Pappas family since 1922, was smashed around 2 a.m. on Sunday, July 27, according to Nick Pappas, the store’s owner. He wasn’t aware of the animal rights connection until the FBI contacted him a few days later, he said.

“They told us we were attacked,” said Pappas. “We didn’t know. We thought it was vandalism, a couple of broken windows.”

The FBI apparently had been monitoring the website of “Bite Back” an animal liberation organization based in Florida. The site posted pictures of the broken windows of Star Market in its “Direct Action” section. The magazine received news about the windows from someone who calls himself “veganarchist lone wolf.”

“On the night of June 26th two windows were smashed at Star Meats in Berkeley CA, a butcher shop that boasts about its organic and locally sourced meat,” according to the article. “Cage free, organic, murder is murder and death is death. This is a continuation of last years actions in which windows were smashed out of Waylands Meat Market in Oakland and windows smashed in an East Oakland Burger King.”


From Nosh

Continue Reading

Passengers Move Car Blocking Muni

by DEVIN HOLT, Bold Italic

Photo by Kim Lianthamani

Today in things to make you smile: SF Weekly is reporting that a group of passengers moved some fool’s car that was blocking the Muni last night. It happened at Carl and Arguello, right on the border between Cole Valley and the Inner Sunset. An N Judah driver pulled up to make the sharp turn on that corner and discovered an Infiniti parked in the red zone with its trunk blocking the train’s path. Instead of slamming the accelerator and smashing the car into a heap of metallic memory (which is what I would have done) the driver parked the train and opened the doors so anyone who wanted to could start walking. But some folks wanted to do more than the Muni-just-kicked-us-out-again shuffle.

Passengers quoted in the SF Weekly story (one of whom took the photo above) said it took 10 or 15 men about a half-dozen tries to move the car off the tracks. They described it as “a real community moment,” complete with high fives and a feeling of shared accomplishment. Muni passengers 1, anonymous bad parkers 0.

I just happen to live nearby and ride the N Judah with a regularity that would make Metamucil jealous. I’ve seen cars block the train several times — it’s a busy area with three difficult turns between the UCSF stop and the 9th/Irving corridor — and I’ve often fantasized about forcibly removing them. But I’ve never actually done it. So now this small group of civic doers can consider themselves my personal heroes.

My other N Judah fantasy is to block the street with a group of stranded passengers who have watched three “out of service” trains go by in the last half hour. Any takers?


Continue Reading

Elizabeth Warren slams banks for cruel treatment of parents of deceased daughter with student loan

Elizabeth Warren showed her disgust with banks in the manner in which they handle student loan issues with those afflicted with financial problems. She provided the following story reported by CNN Money.

When his 27-year old daughter Lisa died suddenly of liver failure five years ago, Steve Mason was as devastated as any father would be.He and his wife Darnelle immediately took in Lisa’s three children — ages 4, 7 and 9 at the time — even though they knew it would be a huge struggle to support them. Steve earns less than $75,000 per year as a pastor, while Darnelle earns even less as a director at the same church.

Then the student loan bills started coming.

Mason had co-signed on the $100,000 in private student loans that his daughter took out for nursing school, and the lenders wanted their money.

Unable to keep up with the monthly payments on top of all of the other mounting expenses, the $100,000 balance ballooned into $200,000 as a result of late penalties and interest rates of as high as 12%.

“It’s just impossible on a pastor’s salary raising three kids to pay $2,000 a month on loans,” said Mason, who has been searching for a second job.

Elizabeth Warren grilled Richard Hunt, President and CEO of Consumer Bankers Association about the banks being inflexible in working with situations like Mr. Mason. When he attempted to use smoke and mirrors to make it appear that banks were doing something about it, Warren would have none of it.

“They have not provided adequate relief,” said Elizabeth Warren. “… And I don’t know how many other families are in these circumstances. … So far what that bank has said is no, “The banks have not forgiven those loans. They have not provided adequate relief to this family and I don’t know how many other families are in those circumstances. … There really is no substitute for bankruptcy protection. But banks went out and lobby to make sure that they were going to be exempt from the bankruptcy laws. And now they won’t even provide the modest relief that is provided on federal loans for people who end up in terrible financial circumstances. I think this is wrong.”


Source:  Daily Kos

Continue Reading

Way too many people still believe these hideous stereotypes about Israelis and Palestinians

By Jill Jacobs

My heart jumped when I saw the poster at the entrance to the Muslim community center in Central Java, Indonesia, in 2009. I didn’t need to speak Indonesian to understand the photo of dead and injured Gazan children. Still, I asked for a translation. Uneasily, our group’s translator explained that the poster reported the amount of money the community group had raised in relief funds after Operation Cast Lead, just a few months before, and prayed for the health and safety of all Muslims . . . and for an end to “the Zionist entity.”

I had come to Indonesia with a delegation of U.S. faith leaders, organized by Legacy International and sponsored by the State Department, to speak at universities and community centers about religious pluralism in America. It wasn’t my turn to present that day, so I enjoyed a brief respite as I debated how and whether to address the poster with these members of Muhammadiyah, one of the largest Muslim organizations in Indonesia. In the end, I had little choice. “I have a question for the rabbi,” began one attendee during a Q&A session: “Why do Jews kill Muslim children?”

Heart pounding, I stood up. I spoke of my pain at the loss of life among Gazan civilians, tragically including so many children. And then I took a deep breath. “I noticed the poster in the entranceway,” I began. I praised the group for raising money for humanitarian relief. But, I continued, “When you call for an end to the Zionist entity, I want you to know that you’re talking about my family and my friends and my people.” I spoke of my own commitments to Israel, of the significance of Israel to the Jewish people, and of my firm belief that a two-state solution will allow both peoples to live securely and peacefully.

To my shock, the audience applauded. Afterwards, many of those present told me that they had never before thought about who might live in Israel. That they had never thought a two-state solution to be possible. That they had believed that Jews wanted only to kill Muslims. And they crossed out the final line of the poster.

This incident did not transform Israeli-Palestinian or Jewish-Muslim relations. It did not drastically shift the perception of Jews in Indonesia. I did learn, though, that a little empathy goes a long way. Hearing my own concern about the death of Muslims, the group could be open to imagining the suffering of Jews.

During the current war between Israel and Hamas, we desperately need radical empathy. By this, I mean opening ourselves to the pain of the other exactly at the moment when we are terrified of this other, and exactly at the moment when fear for our lives and for our loved ones pushes us inward.

This is not a new idea. As far back as the first century CE, in the shadow of the destruction of Jerusalem, Rabban Gamliel, one of the most important rabbis of his time, taught that “Anyone who has compassion for other human beings will merit compassion from above.”

Today, we suffer through increasingly vitriolic language from both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian partisans, and — even more frighteningly — violent protests in Europe, Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories and even the United States. Strident voices ignore or deny the painful narrative of the other.

The pro-Palestinian side places all blame on Israel and the occupation, dismisses or justifies rocket attacks on major Israeli cities, and allows criticism of Israel to slide into ugly anti-Semitism. “Rocket attacks from Gaza are a desperate response to these injustices [of occupation],” Waleed Ahmad writes in Mondoweiss. “No people would ever tolerate an oppressive occupation and an unjust siege, so why should the Palestinians?” Protesters in London, Paris and Berlin have held signs saying “Hitler was right” and encouraging the reading of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”

On the pro-Israel side, too, many respond callously to the soaring numbers of Palestinian casualties or even deny the veracity of these reports, place sole blame on Hamas for the deaths of civilians, and take Hamas’s actions as permission to demonize all Muslims. In the Wall Street Journal, Thane Rosenbaum wrote, “you forfeit your right to be called civilians when you freely elect members of a terrorist organization as statesmen.” A prominent settler rabbi justified killing innocents, and even destroying Gaza.

This lack of empathy does not confine itself to Israel and Gaza. Already, we have witnessed a synagogue firebombed in Paris, German protesters calling for gassing Jews, and protest signs that showcase classical anti-Semitic images. In Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, right-wing Jewish mobs, some wearing fascist T-shirts, have marched through the streets shouting “Death to Arabs,” and beating up Palestinians and Jewish leftists. In Brooklyn, worshipers at a mosque have suffered harassment.

This is what we need to hear instead: pro-Palestinian voices that empathize with the Israelis racing for shelter, that denounce terrorism and rocket attacks, and that refuse to tolerate any anti-Semitic tropes masquerading as criticism of Israeli policy. In one powerful and much-circulated op-ed, for instance, a Palestinian-American student calls for pro-Palestinian protesters to utterly reject anti-Semitism.

And we need to hear pro-Israel voices expressing authentic grief at the deaths of Palestinian children, calling for protection for civilian populations, acknowledging the damage inflicted by 47 years of occupation, and denouncing any language that dehumanizes Palestinians or Muslims. I’m proud that T’ruah, where I serve as executive director, was the only organization to issue a rabbinic opinion discrediting Rabbi Lior’s claim that Judaism permits murdering innocents. In Israel, organizations including B’tselem and Physicians for Human Rights-Israel humanize and protect Palestinians while remaining steadfastly committed to the security of Israel.

We have seen a few examples of radical empathy: the families of the kidnapped and murdered Israeli and Palestinian teens consoling one another in their houses of mourning; Jews and Muslims fasting for peace together; religious leaders who have reached across the divide.

Such empathy will not bring about a peace agreement tomorrow. Nor even a cease-fire. But radical empathy does force us to see the humanity of the other, to reject hate speech and violence, and ultimately to demand a political solution that protects the human rights of Palestinians and Israelis.


Rabbi Jill Jacobs is the Executive Director of T’ruah, which mobilizes 1,800 rabbis, cantors, and their communities to protect human rights in North America, Israel, and the occupied Palestinian territories. Her most recent book is “Where Justice Dwells.”


Continue Reading

Third Highest Winner At Twin Pine Casino Slot Machines

The second largest jackpot ever at Twin Pine Casino & Hotel was won on August 3rd, 2014. The lucky patron hit a slot machine jackpot of $3,060,857. The winning pull was on an IGT progressive “Mega Bucks” machine. This is coming off of a July win, which was the 3rd highest jackpot payout month at Twin Pine Casino & Hotel. This is also the second time that a “Mega Bucks” machine at Twin Pine has created an instant Millionaire. Back in December of 2012, a lucky guest hit a staggering 8.4 million dollar jackpot. In the last 5 years alone, there have been 3 winners of up to $8 Million and 3 of up to $600,000K with lots of other big winners in between. They call Twin Pine Casino the Home of the Big Jackpots.

The lucky winner was from the East Bay. He and his wife had only been here for a short time when fortune came calling. The gentleman repeatedly asked staff “is all of this real?” He is a regular patron at Twin Pine Casino & Hotel and knew that the Home of the Big Jackpots would someday call his name. With a big smile he said, “my daughter is going to college and I will be paying her tuition”.

Twin Pine Casino & Hotel is owned and operated by the Middletown Rancheria of
Pomo Indians of California, located in Middletown, California.


Continue Reading

Child Migrants Have Been Coming to America Alone Since Ellis Island

And no, we didn’t just send them packing.

It's hard to say exactly how many of Ellis Island's child migrants were unaccompanied, but Moreno says they were in the thousands.

It’s hard to say exactly how many of Ellis Island’s child migrants were unaccompanied, but a leading historian says they were in the several thousands. National Archives

An unaccompanied child migrant was the first person in line on opening day of the new immigration station at Ellis Island. Her name was Annie Moore, and that day, January 1, 1892, happened to be her 15th birthday. She had traveled with her two little brothers from Cork County, Ireland, and when they walked off the gangplank, she was awarded a certificate and a $10 gold coin for being the first to register. Today, a statue of Annie stands on the island, a testament to the courage of millions of children who passed through those same doors, often traveling without an older family member to help them along.

Of course, not everyone was lining up to give Annie and her fellow passengers a warm welcome. Alarmists painted immigrants—children included—as disease-riddenjob stealers bent on destroying the American way of life. And they’re still at it. On a CNN segment about the current crisis of child migrants from Central and South America, Michele Bachmann used the word “invaders” and warned of rape and other dangers posed to Americans by the influx. And last week, National Review scoffed at appeals to American ideals of compassion and charity, claiming Ellis Island officials had a strict send-’em-back policy when it came to children showing up alone.

Col. Helen Bastedo posted bond for 13-year-old Osman Louis, a Belgian stowaway, February 1921

Col. Helen Bastedo posted bond for 13-year-old Belgian stowaway Osman Louis, February 1921. Augustus Sherman/National Parks Service

That’s not true, according to Barry Moreno, a librarian at the Ellis Island Immigration Museum and author of the book Children of Ellis Island. The Immigration Act of 1907 did indeed declare that unaccompanied children under 16 were not permitted to enter in the normal fashion. But it didn’t send them packing, either. Instead, the act set up a system in which unaccompanied children—many of whom were orphans—were kept in detention awaiting a special inquiry with immigration inspectors to determine their fate. At these hearings, local missionaries, synagogues, immigrant aid societies, and private citizens would often step in and offer to take guardianship of the child, says Moreno.

In Annie’s case, her parents were waiting to receive her; they’d taken the same journey to New York three years before, looking for work. But according to Moreno, thousands of unaccompanied children came over without friends or family on the other side of the crossing, many of them stowaways. Moreno doesn’t know of an official count of how many children were naturalized this way, but he says it was fairly common. And he can point to at least one great success story, that of Henry Armetta, a 15-year-old stowaway from Palermo, Italy, who was sponsored by a local Italian man and went on to be an actor in films with Judy Garland and the Marx Brothers. “He’s one of the best known of the Ellis Island stowaways,” Moreno says.

Eight orphan children whose mothers were killed in a Russian pogrom. They were brought to Ellis Island in 1908. Augustus Sherman/National Parks Service

Other children journeyed to Ellis Island alone because they had lost their parents, often to war or famine, and had been sponsored by immigrant aid societies and other charities in America. The picture above shows eight Jewish children whose mothers had been killed in a Russian pogrom in 1905. The Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society had obtained “bonds” to sponsor their immigration, and they arrived at Ellis Island in 1908. As Moreno notes in his book, thousands of orphans came over thanks to such bonds, and after landing, many would travel on “orphan trains” to farms and small towns where their patrons had arranged their stay.

New York, N.Y. Children's Colony, a school for refugee children administered by a Viennese. German refugee child, a devotee of Superman.

A German refugee child and Superman devotee at the New York City Children’s Colony, a school for refugee children run by Viennese immigrants  Marjory Collins/Library of Congress

Ellis Island officials made several efforts to care for children detained on the island—those with parents and those without—who could be there for weeks at a time. Around 1900 a playground was constructed there with a sandbox, swings, and slides. A group of about a dozen women known as “matrons” played games and sang songs with the children, many of whom they couldn’t easily communicate with due to language barriers. Later, a school room was created for them, and the Red Cross supplied a radio for the children to listen to.

And of course, many of those kids grew up to work tough jobs, start new businesses and create new jobs, and pass significant amounts of wealth down to some of the very folks clamoring to “send ‘em back” today.

From Mother Jones

Continue Reading

Crowdfunding Campaign Is Launched to Keep the Music Playing at the Castro Theatre

David Hegarty, long-time Castro Theatre organist, and his nonprofit foundation SFCODA
turn to Indiegogo for further funding of the groundbreaking CASTRO SYMPHONIC THEATRE ORGAN
In keeping with the long tradition of organ music at the Castro Theatre dating from 1922, and the evolving functionality of the venue—now including the performing arts, an instrument of momentous artistic merit has been designed to replace the soon-to-be-removed Wurlitzer that was installed over 30 years ago by a private owner.
An equivalent theatre pipe organ has been donated by another nonprofit theatre foundation, and additional classical pipes will be added. The remaining portions of the instrument will take advantage of cutting-edge twenty-first-century digital technology resulting in a greatly expanded theatre organ—equivalent to the famous San Francisco Fox Theatre Wurlitzer, combined with a magnificent classical/symphonic organ, capable of every style of organ and orchestral music.
This will be the largest pipe/digital hybrid organ in the world. The stunning seven-manual console is already being built, and SFCODA is launching an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for the next phase of its construction—an intermediate goal of $60,000. Total cost of the project is approximately $700,000.
Major sponsorships by individuals and corporate foundations will be rewarded with significant name recognition at a venue that serves over 150,000 patrons every year.
To learn more about the project, visit the SFCODA website:
To contribute to this project, the Indiegogo campaign can be accessed here:
Or Google: Indiegogo Castro
Continue Reading

Language School Blogger Fired for Writing About Homophones

A social media specialist for a Utah language school that teaches English to non-native speakers says he was fired for writing a blog post about homophones—words that sound the same, but carry different meanings—because his boss was afraid readers would think it was about “gay sex.”

Tim Torkildson told the Salt Lake Tribune that shortly after his lesson went up, Nomen Global Language Center owner Clarke Woodger fired him, complaining “now our school is going to be associated with homosexuality.”

“I had to look up the word” Woodger said, according to the account Torkildson published on his personal blog, “because I didn’t know what the hell you were talking about. We don’t teach this kind of advanced stuff to our students, and it’s extremely inappropriate. Can you have your desk cleaned out by eleven this morning? I’ll have your check ready.”

It seems too ridiculous to believe, but Torkildson’s former employer confirmed the incident of homophonia actually happened.

“People at this level of English,” Woodger told the Tribune, ”may see the ‘homo’ side and think it has something to do with gay sex.”

Torkildson disagrees. He wrote that homophones are “one of the first subjects tackled when teaching ESL,” and said his piece about them was very straightforward. The Tribune points out the Nomen blog published another post on the topic in 2011, apparently without incident.

Torkildson, a 60-year-old who enjoys taking quirky selfies, had only worked at Nomen for three months. Although he claims Woodger told him he’s only suited for “clerical work,” he’s now seeking another social media job.

Posted from

Continue Reading

Iowa’s Ernst dabbles in nullification extremism

In 2010 and 2012, Republican primary voters nominated some pretty outrageous candidates who were so extreme, they alienated the American mainstream and helped deliver key victories to Democrats. The names are as familiar as they are infamous: Todd Akin, Sharron Angle, Richard Mourdock, Christine O’Donnell, et al.

There’s a sense that the GOP learned valuable lessons from these fiascos, and made a conscious, concerted effort to nominate fewer extremists for statewide contests in 2014

Iowa’s Joni Ernst is a notable exception.

As Rachel Maddow noted on her show last month, Ernst has said she would ban abortions and many forms of birth control; she would privatize Social Security and abolish the minimum wage; she would back an anti-gay amendment to the Constitution; she’s open to impeaching President Obama for unknown reason; and she believes there’s secret information that Saddam Hussein really did have weapons of mass destruction.

Yesterday, Ben Jacobs ran a report that’s arguably the more alarming revelation to date: the right-wing U.S. Senate candidate “appears to believe states can nullify federal laws.”

In a video obtained by The Daily Beast, Ernst said on September 13, 2013 at a forum held by the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition that Congress should not pass any laws “that the states would consider nullifying.”

“You know we have talked about this at the state legislature before, nullification. But, bottom line is, as U.S. Senator why should we be passing laws that the states are considering nullifying? Bottom line: our legislators at the federal level should not be passing those laws. We’re right … we’ve gone 200-plus years of federal legislators going against the Tenth Amendment’s states’ rights. We are way overstepping bounds as federal legislators. So, bottom line, no we should not be passing laws as federal legislators – as senators or congressman – that the states would even consider nullifying. Bottom line.”

Jacobs’ report added that Ernst, during her brief tenure as a state senator, hasn’t sponsored pro-nullification legislation, but she did back a resolution that says “the State of Iowa hereby claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States.” It was introduced in response to “many federal mandates [that] are directly in violation of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”

I can appreciate why issues like nullification may seem esoteric to everyday concerns on the minds of Iowa voters, but it’s important to appreciate how this fits into a simple truth: the more the picture of Ernst comes into sharper focus, the more radical she appears.

In this case, Ernst didn’t explicitly call for the nullification of a specific law, but that’s not really the point – Ernst seems to have a general belief that states can nullify federal laws they don’t like, which puts the right-wing Iowan on the furthest fringes of modern American thought

To be clear, this is not in a legal gray area. This isn’t a judgment call. It’s not a question that could go either way if tested in the courts. Rather, the question of whether states can invalidate federal laws they don’t like was decided in the middle of the 19th century – in something called the Civil War – and it was a dispute the nullification crowd lost.

That a competitive U.S. Senate candidate is making comments like these, out loud and on purpose, is pretty scary, to put it mildly. We’re not talking about the usual Democrat-vs.-Republican, left-vs.-right debate; this is settled American law vs. looney tunes.

Continue Reading




Having risen from the ashes of the great quake and fire of 1906, The City was ready to invite the world to a party.

To celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal and the rebuilding of the city, San Francisco played host to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915. Many architecturally rich, though temporary structures were built for this world event. One such structure, Festival Hall, was a large dome-shaped auditorium and served as the first home of the Exposition Organ.

The search for the perfect pipe organ befitting the fair’s tradition of exhibiting the latest advances in technology began in 1913. The new organ was to have a four-manual movable console, 7,500 pipes and not to exceed $50,000 (the equivalent of roughly $1.5 million today). Thirty-one American organ builders vied for the honor of constructing the instrument.

Competition among these prominent builders was fierce, but in March of 1914 the Austin Organ Company of Hartford, Connecticut was awarded the contract. The Austin firm had only eleven months to build and install one of the largest pipe organs in the world. The organ was so technologically advanced that its reputation alone attracted attention and brought notoriety to the Exposition.

San Francisco’s Felix F. Schoenstein & Sons, longtime installers of Austin organs, took on the heroic task of installing this monumental pipe organ. Eventually, four generations of Schoensteins would care for the instrument over several decades.

The organ was shipped in five large railroad cars and arrived in San Francisco in late October, 1914. A team of horses and a flat body truck were needed to move the material from the train and through the mud of the unfinished fairgrounds. Actual installation began on November 7, 1914. With carpenters, plasterers and painters still constructing Festival Hall, installation was frenzied. Pandemonium reigned in the huge structure as the various contractors took an “every man for himself” attitude. The fair had attached a $100 per day fine for unfinished exhibits to each of their contracts.

The Schoensteins had only three and a half months to finish the installation and eventually worked in double shifts: during the day they assembled the mechanical parts of the organ and during the quiet of night tuned each of the 7,500 pipes.


On the morning of February 21, 1915, whistles were blowing and spirits were high; it was opening day of the World’s Fair. Seated at the Exposition Organ’s console was the fair’s official organist, Wallace Sabin. With a large chorus and orchestra, Sabin opened the Panama-Pacific International Exposition with Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.

A lavish nine month program of musical entertainment followed. In addition to orchestral programs featuring the organ, daily recitals were given by some 60 of the nation’s leading organists. But none was more legendary than world famous Edwin H. Lemare.

Lemare’s contract with the Exposition Company forced him to leave his pregnant wife behind in Liverpool just days before the birth of his daughter. In the midst of the Great War, Lemare braved a U-boat infested Atlantic ocean and arrived in America mid-August.

Despite the urgency to reach San Francisco on time, Lemare’s first recital was heard by only 400, a mere 10% of Festival Hall’s capacity. Attendance however soared once word spread that the greatest living organist was performing. Soon the concerts were sold-out affairs. The front rows were filled with organists who paid the 50-cent admission to the fairgrounds just to hear Lemare play. His wife, son and new born baby would soon join him in San Francisco.

Nearly every day Lemare played at noon and again at 8:30 in the evening. Each performance with a different repertoire. At every concert Lemare improvised on themes sent up by the audience. His concerts became so popular that fair officials approved the expansion of seating in Festival Hall. By closing day, 18.5 million people had come to the fair and Lemare had played 121 concerts to almost 150,000 people.

Unlike most world fairs, the Panama-Pacific International Exposition closed with profits. The Exposition Company decided to donate these unexpected funds to the City of San Francisco. A large building called Exposition Auditorium had already been erected in the city’s Civic Center. It, along with the Exposition Organ, were deeded to the city. Felix F. Schoenstein & Sons was contracted to dismantle and reinstall the instrument in the new Civic Auditorium. The dismantling process began two days after the close of the fair. Lemare was contracted to supervise the revoicing and reinstallation.


Several months after the fair ended, Lemare was honored with the position of San Francisco’s first Municipal Organist in which he was contracted to perform two concerts weekly. San Francisco had become home.

Lemare’s salary was ten times that of the average worker and was guaranteed, regardless of ticket sales. Lemare was one of the highest paid organist in the world. But his impressive salary did not go unnoticed. City supervisor J. Emmet Hayden–earning a modest 15% of Lemare’s annual wage–publicly attacked Lemare’s salary and performance, encouraging city officials to reconsider the musician’s value to San Francisco.

When the time came to renew Lemare’s contract, the city offered a mere 60% of his original earnings. After heated negotiations, Lemare agreed to a salary that was only slightly better. This was to be only the first of many political battles to come.

Angrily clutching a handful of Lemare’s concert programs, rival Hayden questioned why a competent musician would play the same piece at every concert: “There it is in black and white,” he exclaimed, “Improvisation!”

The final blow came from the city elections of November 1920. A proposed ordinance submitted by Supervisor Hayden and the Board of Supervisors, would reduce the salary of the city’s municipal organist to $3,600, a far cry from the $10,000 salary originally paid to Lemare. Despite opposition by The American Guild of Organists and then Mayor James R. Rolph, the voters approved the ordinance. On Sunday, June 26, 1921, Lemare performed his 190th and last official concert on the organ he had come to cherish. Feeling rejected by the city he loved, Lemare accepted a position as the municipal organist for Portland, Maine and, later, Chattanooga, Tennessee. He eventually retired in Hollywood, California.

Throughout the 1920s and early 1930s the Civic Auditorium and organ would remain the cultural focal point of San Francisco. Both the symphony and the opera would perform in the auditorium until the new Opera House opened in September of 1932. Historically significant concerts by world famous organists and composers including Marcel Dupre and Camille Saint- Saens would over time be featured on the historic Exposition Organ.


Throughout the 1940s and ’50s the Exposition Organ was used occasionally for conventions, graduation ceremonies and large religious events. But for the most part, the popularity of organ recitals and interest in municipal organs began to decline. New sources of musical entertainment such as phonographs and radios, the growing popularity of big bands, distractions and restrictions during World War II and a tendency among professional musicians to disregard the artistic limitations of “average concertgoers” began the downward momentum.

In 1962 a $20 million bond issue was voted in by the citizens of San Francisco. These funds allowed for the rehabilitation, reconstruction and modernization of the Civic Auditorium. Considered a part of the building, the Exposition Organ was entitled to a small portion of these funds and underwent a thorough cleaning, releathering and installation of a new console. But the windfall proved to be a double-edged sword as the ill-conceived remodeling robbed the auditorium of its good acoustics, dampening the sonic character of the organ. Furthermore, a “casino-style” curtain was hung in front of the Exposition Organ muting its tone and concealing the great instrument from public view.

As a result of cost overruns on the Civic Auditorium reconstruction/modernization project, the city stopped appropriating funds for maintenance of the instrument and it fell into disrepair. Now cloaked in a curtain of darkness, the once distinguished Exposition Organ faded into obscurity.


In 1984 the Citizens Committee to Preserve the San Francisco Municipal Organ was formed. Spearheaded by organ historian Charles Swisher, the committee began an effort to renovate the instrument. Over a period of several years Schoenstein & Company (formerly Felix F. Schoenstein & Sons) began working pro-bono to restore the instrument to playing condition.


Just as the restoration was nearly complete and the Exposition Organ was ready to be brought back into the spotlight…tragedy struck. The wrath of the 1989 Loma-Prieta earthquake caused the back inner wall of the Civic Auditorium to crash down on the fragile pipework. Four feet of plaster and debris covered the floor of the huge pipe chamber. Unplayable and suspended in silence, the great Exposition Organ lingered in uncertainty…behind the velvet curtain.

Two years of political discourse ensued as the fate of the historical instrument was debated in City Hall. The Civic Auditorium needed major repairs, so it was determined that the organ would have to be removed. FEMA funds had been secured and the Citizens Committee persuaded San Francisco to go forward with repairing the organ rather than selling it.

A complete overhaul of the organ would be necessary. So in late 1991, the instrument was sent back to the Austin organ factory in Hartford, Connecticut. Seventy-five years after the great Exposition Organ was born, almost all of the 40-ton instrument was loaded into three tractor-trailers and moved nearly 3,000 miles back to its place of birth.

The staff at Austin Organs, Inc. was very excited to undertake the restoration of this important legacy from their past. Work began right away dismantling windchests, stripping reservoirs, revoicing reeds and repairing and replacing damaged pipes.

While work on the organ continued expeditiously, the large formerly occupied space in the Civic Auditorium was beginning to look quite useful to the city for other purposes. Several months after refurbishment had begun, a cease-work directive was received in Hartford. All organ components, whether whole or in pieces, were to be packed and shipped back to the West Coast for storage. The reason for the city backing away from the project was a combination of cost overruns on the Civic Center repair project along with the realization that the organ was occupying space that might be put to other purposes. The order was a bitter blow for the Hartford staff whose enthusiasm for the project was high.

The shocking news was also felt throughout the nationwide organ community. Here was a historic instrument on the verge of a rebirth–having survived physical abuse, a major earthquake and the indignity of changing tastes–now to be relegated to certain oblivion.

San Francisco historians and citizens were concerned as well. The San Francisco Fox Theater, considered to be the most elegant and opulent of all the Fox Theaters was lost to the wrecking ball in late 1963. The City of Paris Department Store, a beaux arts architectural master piece with its genuine Tiffany Dome, was lost in 1980 and The Fitzheau Building, the Train Station and several landmark hotels were also gone.



treasureIn late 1997 the City of San Francisco began the last phase of the Embarcadero reconstruction project. The Embarcadero looked nothing like it did before the Loma-Prieta quake. A beautiful tree-lined boulevard and rail system now replaced the ugly two tiered freeway. A new pier, wider sidewalks and new outdoor public spaces had also enhanced the waterfront.

In April of 1998 an article appeared in the newsletter of the San Francisco Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. It said “Flash! The City of San Francisco (with help from SF/AGO) is developing a likely new venue for the 1915 Exposition Organ (Austin Opus 500). Recent meetings with Mayor Willie Brown and Supervisor Sue Bierman have advanced the project…”

The site under consideration was a half-block of open space, bordered by the Embarcadero, Market, Steuart and Mission Streets. It was being developed as part of the Mid-Embarcadero Waterfront Transportation Project.

By mid-1999 the City of San Francisco had approved plans to install the Exposition Organ in a proposed pavilion at the waterfront. The project became known as the Embarcadero Music Concourse and Organ Pavilion. It would provide a large open space where downtown workers, tourists, waterfront visitors and ferry and streetcar commuters could take a break and enjoy free daily organ recitals, special concerts and even silent movies. The Music Concourse was designed to provide outdoor seating for 3,000, becoming the center for many community events.

By the early 2004, a ballot measure to raise funds for the organ and several other projects had been put before voters of San Francisco. It was defeated. Also numerous businesses surrounding the proposed Music Concourse site protested the idea for a music pavilion because they feared the volume of the organ would be too loud and disrupt their businesses. The Music Concourse faded into oblivion.

Determined not to let the Exposition Organ linger and perhaps be destroyed, The Friends of the Exposition Organ was formed to keep the fire alive and to safeguard the instrument from neglect and destruction.
Continue Reading

France’s Jews Flee As Rioters Burn Paris Shops, Attack Synagogue

France’s politicians and community leaders have criticised the “intolerable” violence against Paris’ Jewish community, after a pro-Palestinian rally led to the vandalizing and looting of Jewish businesses and the burning of cars.

It is the third time in a week where pro-Palestinian activists have clashed with the city’s Jewish residents. On Sunday, locals reported chats of “Gas the Jews” and “Kill the Jews”, as rioters attacked businesses in the Sarcelles district, known as “little Jerusalem”.

Manuel Valls, France’s prime minister said: “What happened in Sarcelles is intolerable. An attack on a synagogue and on a kosher shop is simply anti-Semitism. Nothing in France can justify this violence.”

Religious leaders gathered for an interfaith service on Monday to call for calm, and Haim Korsia, the chief rabbi of France, and Hassen Chalghoumi, the imam of Drancy shook hands on the steps of the synagogue.

Francois Pupponi, the mayor of Sarcelles, told BFMTV that the violent attacks were carried out by a “horde of savages.”

“When you head for the synagogue, when you burn a corner shop because it is Jewish-owned, you are committing an anti-Semitic act,” interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters at a press conference at the local synagogue.

  • A worker prepares to repair a shop windowin Sarcelles, a northern Paris suburb, a day after a rally against Israel’s Gaza offensive descended into violence
  • A man walks in Sarcelles, a northern Paris suburb, by broken windows as he enters a shopping center in Les Flanades neighborhood
  • The broken shop window of a restaurant in a shopping center in Les Flanades neighborhood, damaged on July 20 after a rally against Israel’s Gaza offensive descended into violence pitting an angry pro-Palestinian crowd against local Jewish businesses
  • MIGUEL MEDINA via Getty Images
    Projectiles were thrown at police, burned cars and looted shops
  • The Parisian suburb is known for its multiculturalism
  • Damages in a restaurant of a shopping center in Les Flanades neighborhood
  • A policewoman takes part in an investigation in Sarcelles, a northern Paris suburb in front of a chemist in a shopping center of Les Flanades neighborhood, which was burnt down
  • The Imam of the eastern suburb of Drancy, Hassen Chalghoumi, the President of the Central Jewish consistory of France, Joel Mergui, the Great Rabbi of France Haim Korsia, and the Bishop of Pontoise for the Conference of Bishops of France, Stanislas Lalanne attend an ecumenical ceremony at the synagogue of Sarcelles
  • STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN via Getty Images
    French singer Enrico Macias (4th L), French writer Marek Halter (C), the Imam of the eastern Paris suburb of Drancy, Hassen Chalghoumi (4th R), the President of the Central Jewish consistory of France Joel Mergui (3rd R_ and Bishop of Pontoise for the Conference of Bishops of France Stanislas Lalanne (2nd R) pose during an ecumenical ceremony at the synagogue of Sarcelles, north of Paris


Eighteen people were arrested for attacks on shops, including a kosher supermarket, a Jewish-owned chemist and a funeral home. Rioters, who carried batons and threw petrol bombs according to eyewitnesses, were yards from the synagogue when they were driven back by riot police who used tear gas.

“They were shouting: ‘Death to Jews,’ and ‘Slit Jews’ throats’,” David, a Jewish sound engineer told The Times. “It took us back to 1938.”

“We called our town ‘Little Jerusalem’ because we felt at home here,” Laetitia, a longtime Sarcelles resident, told France 24. “We were safe, there were never any problems. And I just wasn’t expecting anything like this. We are very shocked, really very shocked.”

Roger Cuikerman, head of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France told Radio France International: “They are not screaming, ‘Death to the Israelis’ on the streets of Paris. They are screaming, “Death to the Jews.” The community was not just scared, but “anguished.”

The government had banned a demonstration planned in Paris for Saturday, but posters were seen around the area which said “Come equipped with hammers, fire extinguishers and batons” and promised a “raid on the Jewish district”.

France has around half a million Jews, the biggest population in Europe, and around five million Muslims.

The Society for the Protection of the Jewish Community’s figures suggest that anti-Jewish violence is seven times higher than in the 1990s, and 40% of racist violence is against Jews, despite them making up just 1% of the population.

In March 2012, a shooting spree by Mohammed Merah in the south of France left three French soldiers, three Jewish schoolchildren and a rabbi dead. The gunman claimed a connection to al Qaeda.

More than a thousand Jews have made aliyah (the term used when Jews immigrate to Israel) in the past 10 days, according to the Israeli government.

“I came because of anti-Semitism,” said teary-eyed Veronique Rivka Buzaglo, one of 430 immigrants who arrived from France the day before. “You see it in the eyes of people. I see it in everything,” she told HuffPost.

Buzaglo says nothing would have stopped her from becoming an Israeli citizen this week – not even the rocket sirens frequently blaring in the south of the country, where she plans to live.


From the Huffington Post

Continue Reading

Looking Intently: The James Cahill Legacy

The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) presents

Looking Intently: The James Cahill Legacy

July 23, 2014–December 21, 2014


Dai Jin: Summer Trees Casting Shade, 15th century; ink and colors on silk

The late James Cahill, Professor Emeritus at UC Berkeley, was known as a brilliant scholar, exceptional teacher and writer, and extraordinary connoisseur and collector of Chinese and Japanese paintings. He began collecting in the mid-1950s as a Fulbright Scholar in Japan, where he encountered significantly undervalued Chinese paintings of the Ming and Qing periods. At the time few collectors were interested in these later paintings and fewer still understood their inherent value. But Cahill recognized their importance and so began a lifelong pursuit of fine paintings. His collection became known by his studio name, Ching Yuan Chai, given to him by his own teacher, Shimada Shujiro. As Cahill wrote, “It could be either Studio of Someone Looking into the Yuan (as I was for my dissertation) or, more prestigiously, Someone Gazing into the Abstruse.” Today paintings associated with that studio name are among the treasures that make up the core of the BAM/PFA Chinese painting collection. In fond memory of James Cahill (1926–2014), we present this selection from the collection in tribute to his tremendous generosity and commitment to Berkeley and to BAM/PFA.

Cahill, unlike some of his contemporaries as well as historic Chinese collectors, did not mark with a seal or inscription the paintings in his collection. Rather, he made his mark by donating—and encouraging others to donate—exceptionally fine paintings to BAM/PFA. This small exhibition presents just a handful of works, but they demonstrate the unparalleled range of Cahill’s collecting interests, fromSummer Trees Casting Shade, a large decorative painting by Dai Jin (1388–1462), to the quietly cerebral The Zhiping Temple by Wen Zhengming (1470–1559).

Cahill frequently used the collection for teaching, engaging students in dialogue about brushwork, connoisseurship, authenticity, and condition, and looking intently at real works of art, a tradition that continues today.

Continue Reading

Saturday, July 26 Grand Opening of SF’s New Independent Living Resource Center Marks Anniversary of the Signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Blind Bay Area Architect Christopher Downey Designed Cutting Edge Facility

 It’s the blind leading the blind. When the Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco ( opens its new state-of-the-art facility this Saturday, July 26  – the 24th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act – this often negative cliché will become a high compliment, especially to the facility’s architect, Christopher Downey of the Bay Area: one of the world’s very-few, working, blind architects.

“Both the visually impaired and the sighted rely on information and architectural cues to navigate the built environment,” says Downey, who lost his sight in 2008 following surgery to remove a tumor that was pressing on his optic nerve. “I draw upon my experience as an architect to help design teams and client organizations to create enriching environments for the visually impaired and, not coincidentally, the sighted as well.”

Downey, 51, starts each day rowing with the East Bay Rowing Club on the Oakland Estuary before commuting on public transit to his office in San Francisco. He has been featured in local, national and international media stories and speaks regularly about architecture and visual impairment including his inspirational TED Talks. He also teaches accessibility and universal design at UC Berkeley and serves on the Board of Directors for the Lighthouse for the Blind in San Francisco.  Downey consults on design for the blind and visually impaired, encompassing specialized centers as well as facilities serving the broader public. His work ranges from a new Department of Veterans Affairs blind rehabilitation center, to renovations of housing for the blind in New York City, and to the new Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco.

“With over 98,000 people with disabilities in the City of San Francisco, we know that our goal of expanding access for all was ambitious, especially given the current real estate climate, but that didn’t stop us, and Chris was integral to helping us realize our dream,” says Jessie Lorenz, Executive Director of the Independent Living Resource Center, noting that fully 25% of their clients are current conflict vets with disabilities.  “We exist to ensure that people with disabilities are full social and economic partners, both within their families and in a fully accessible community. What a perfect way to mark almost a quarter century of the ADA and the lives this law has improved.”

According to Lorenz, the Independent Living Resource Center’s new facility at 825 Howard Street is “truly a community center.” It is a purpose-built, ground floor, fully accessible location in the heart of San Francisco’s South of Market district. An integral part of its neighborhood, the new center is a welcoming place with street appeal where people with disabilities feel comfortable dropping in, participating in workshops, and seeking support and information as they establish or maintain their independence.

“Our new home was designed and built to anticipate disability as the rule, not the exception,” Lorenz emphasizes. “It has an open floor plan guided by a forward-thinking green design that is made expressly for enhancing community for people of all abilities. We endeavored to create space to allow for dynamic interaction and group presentations. The lobby will be for waiting, greeting, and exhibiting veteran and community artwork. The built environment will showcase the best principles of accessible design, responding to the growing needs of a technologically savvy disabled community.”

Additionally, Schindler Elevator Corporation, a pioneer in building mobility, has partnered with the Independent Living Resource Center to pilot the next generation of features for PORT Technology, an innovative destination-dispatching system that revolutionized the way people move through buildings.

Founded in 1977, the Independent Living Resource Center San Francisco exists to ensure that people with disabilities are full social and economic partners, both within their families and in a fully accessible community. ILRCSF core values are: Choice: the right of individuals and families to make informed decisions about their own lives. Persons with disabilities are experts on their own needs. Consumer leadership creates an accessible community. Full access to and inclusion in the community for all people with disabilities means the same range of choices as the general community. Universal usability means that services, housing and consumer products are designed to be used by all members of the community.

“Establishing a more accessible and visible office will position us as a model community-based center for independent living in an urban area,” Lorenz sums up. “We hope to move from a model of solely offering support and services to individuals with disabilities, to becoming an incubator and community center where the Independent Living Movement can build the next generation of leaders who will be empowered and engaged citizens who are fully integrated in their communities.”

This Saturday’s grand opening events features a free lunch catered by Buca di Bepo and guided tours from 10am – 12noon; 2pm – 3pm. The facility’s official dedication will take place at 1pm



Continue Reading

Old days in S.F. not so good

John Martini is an eminent local historian. He can see the past with a professional eye.

He writes about swimming at Sutro Baths, a Sunday outing in the park in Victorian times, how the Golden Gate looked before the bridge, the life of the soldiers at the Presidio long ago.

So, I asked him once, “Would you like to live in the past?”

“No,” he said. “No. But I would like to take a vacation there.”

He said he’d like to perhaps spend two weeks in San Francisco at the turn of the last century. “I’d head for my great-grandfather’s bar in North Beach,” Martini said. “He was a partner in a grocery store with a bar in the back on Broadway. His name was Giuseppe Martini, and he was born in Lucca, Italy.

“I’d sit back and watch the scene, be a fly on the wall. I don’t know what I would say to him, though. You can’t affect the future by going into the past.”

Martini smiled at the thought of seeing his own ancestor as a young man. Time travel is always intriguing.

One of the problems, though, is that a trip back in time might be a shock. The Good Old Days weren’t so good. “Living in the past in San Francisco would be great if you were white and male,” Martini said. “It would be a lot different if you were Chinese, or Mexican, or one of the tiny number of black people who lived here.”

Women couldn’t vote, much less become U.S. senators or corporate executives. Their lives were constricted in a hundred ways. Prostitution was open in San Francisco, and tolerated. It was one of the rackets operated under a corrupt city government.

The smartest man in the city was political boss Abe Ruef, a native San Franciscan who was one of the most promising young men ever to graduate from UC Berkeley. The big corporations bribed him, and he paid off the mayor and the supervisors.

If you think the streets are dirty now, think about old San Francisco, say just before the 1906 earthquake, when the streets were littered with the droppings of thousands of horses that pulled the freight wagons and delivery trucks.

Garbage was routinely dumped in the bay, and so was sewage. McCovey Cove at the site of the present ballpark was an open sewer. Despite its healthful climate, San Francisco was famously unhealthy. In 1900, there was even an outbreak of bubonic plague in the city, but the news was suppressed. It was bad for business.

Health insurance? Unemployment insurance? There wasn’t any.

People worked harder and were paid less than they are now. There was a huge income disparity between the rich and poor – and serious trouble was always on the horizon.

There were violent strikes and riots: Five people were killed in a 1901 teamsters strike; 31 were killed and over 1,100 injured during a streetcar strike in 1907; and in 1916, a terrorist bomb set off during the city’s largest parade left 10 dead and 40 injured. The district attorney framed two labor leaders for the bombing and they served time in San Quentin.

San Francisco was not the tolerant place it became later. It had an ugly edge.

You can still find people of a certain age in Chinatown who will tell you about being beaten up for crossing Broadway into North Beach. It took riots and sit-ins to get the city’s large hotels and auto dealers to share good jobs with minority workers – and that was in the ’60s, not long before the Summer of Love.

The city’s gay community operated in the shadows; police raids on gay bars were common. There was a certain agreed-upon standard in San Francisco, and the cops enforced it.

And yet San Francisco was always The City, even in its ugly moods. It always had something special. It attracted people like Mark Twain and George Sterling, the poet who saw stars at the end of the streets, and William Saroyan, who thought every block had a story. It has changed beyond belief and sometimes for the better.

The old San Francisco would be a great place to visit, but I don’t think most of us would want to live there. For people of this generation, these are the good old days.

Carl Nolte is a San Francisco Chronicle columnist. His column appears every Sunday. E-mail:

Continue Reading

Poll: Boehner’s pre-impeachment lawsuit is backfiring

If you think House Speaker John Boehner’s pre-impeachment lawsuit against President Obama for failing to implement Obamacare quickly enough makes him look like an obstructionist jackass who is more interested in political stunts than doing the right thing for the country,you’re not alone:

A majority of Americans view House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) lawsuit over President Obama’s delayed implementation of ObamaCare’s employer mandate as a “political stunt,” according to a new poll released Monday.The survey, commissioned by liberal advocacy group Americans United for Change, found that 51 percent of voters don’t believe the lawsuit is legitimate, versus just 41 percent who do.

Moreover, 56 percent say the lawsuit is wasteful spending, with just 36 percent saying it is a good use of taxpayer dollars.

Here’s the kicker:

The survey found that a plurality of Americans — 46 percent — say the suit makes them less likely to vote for Republicans in the upcoming midterm elections. By contrast, three in 10 say the suit makes them more likely to vote for the GOP.

And why is that? Perhaps because of this:

Some 58 percent of voters say the suit will not help improve the lives of people like them, and 63 percent say Congress should be more focused on taking action to create jobs.

On the one hand, these results are heartening, because it’s always good to know that a solid majority of the country hasn’t gone completely bonkers. On the other hand: Who the hell are the 37 percent of morons who wouldn’t rather see Congress focused on jobs instead of Boehner’s pre-impeachment lawsuit?\

Continue Reading

The Emmys are gayer than ever: ‘The Normal Heart,’ ‘Orange Is the New Black’ and …

It wasn’t long ago that shows like “Ellen” and “Will & Grace” made history for the LGBT community at the Emmys, but gay, lesbian, and transgender visibility made further strides in 2014.

Below-the-line Emmy nods may foretell Best Comedy win for ‘Orange is the New Black’
“Orange is the New Black” actress Laverne Cox made headlines as the first openly transgender acting nominee at the Emmys; she’s nominated for Best Comedy Guest Actress alongside co-stars Uzo Aduba and Natasha Lyonne.

“Orange” as a whole presents a progressive view of sexuality, and its six nominated actors play roles including straight (Red, played by Kate Mulgrew), bisexual (Piper, played by Taylor Schilling), and gay (Aduba as Crazy Eyes and Lyonne as Nicky Nichols), in addition to Cox’s groundbreaking role as transgender inmate Sophia Burset. Also, Jodie Foster, who came out as gay more or less officially at the Golden Globes in January 2013, is nominated for directing an episode of the series.

One of Foster’s rivals in that race is Emmy-favorite Paris Barclay, a gay director competing for the third time for “Glee”; he previously won a pair of Drama Directing prizes for “NYPD Blue.”

Elsewhere, HBO’s telefilm “The Normal Heart” racked up 16 nominations. Not only does the film explore the lives of gay men during the turbulent early years of the AIDS epidemic, it also features several out individuals nominated for their work in front of and behind the camera: actors Matt Bomer, Joe Mantello, and Jim Parsons, writer Larry Kramer, and director Ryan Murphy.

Parsons also earned his sixth Comedy Actor nomination for “The Big Bang Theory”; he has three previous wins.

Beau Bridges earned a Drama Guest Actor bid as a closeted hospital administrator in “Masters of Sex,” while Andre Braugher is up for Comedy Supporting Actor as an openly gay police captain in “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”

Braugher competes against out actor Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who picked up his fifth consecutive nod as Mitchell Pritchett in “Modern Family.” This past season, Mitchell married his longtime partner Cameron (two-time Emmy winner Eric Stonestreet) in a wedding organized by Pepper Saltzman, played by another out nominee, Comedy Guest Actor contender Nathan Lane

Even “House of Cards” got in on the action. We learned in season one that corrupt politico Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) had a gay relationship with a schoolmate, and season two revisited that side of his character with a secret service agent who went above and beyond the call of duty.

Out Emmy-winner Jane Lynch earned a couple more nominations this year: Reality Host (“Hollywood Game Night”) and Narrator (“Penguins: Waddle all the Way”).

Lynch isn’t the only gay performer nominated for a hosting gig: Ellen DeGeneres (“The Oscars”) and Neil Patrick Harris (“67th Annual Tony Awards”) are up for Best Special Class Program. It’ll be an interesting contest, since they’re competing against the “Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games Opening Ceremony”; Russia was widely criticized during the games for their recent crackdown against the LGBT community. Olympic opening ceremonies are usually strong contenders at the Emmys, but its association with a controversial host nation might hurt it.


By Daniel Montgomery, Gold Derby

Continue Reading

Dick Cheney says screw highways and food stamps, defense spending is all that matters

Boy, Dick Cheney really is determined to caricature himself:

During an event sponsored by Politico, Cheney said the next president needs to “turn around the whole trend” of cutting defense dollars.

“That ought to be our top priority for spending. Not food stamps, not highways or anything else,” Cheney said. “Your No. 1 responsibility as president is to support and defend the Constitution of the United States. [Obama] is the commander-in-chief and he’s absolutely devastating the United States military today.”

Since when are increasing the defense budget and supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States synonymous? I guess if that’s Cheney’s understanding of the Constitution, it might explain a thing or two. But, aside from the moral bankruptcy of his dismissal of feeding the hungry, let’s talk logistics. Let’s say you cease funding highways in order to buy more bombers and tanks. Do you then have to use the tanks’ capacity for driving across rough ground to take them off-road from the factory to the military base? Do military recruits prove their mettle by hiking to boot camp? For that matter, let’s get back to the food stamps for a second. Military food stamp use rose in 2013, and that doesn’t even take into account all the veterans on food stamps. Except as we’ve had ample opportunity to observe, Dick Cheney doesn’t give a single damn about the people who make up the American military. He just wants giant pallets of cash for defense contractors and an American political culture geared toward war rather than the economic strength of the nation and its people.
And, for the record, Mr. Cheney, American defense spending is still huge. Though maybe not quite as huge as your ego, your arrogance, your monumental callousness.

Continue Reading

President Obama Asks Joking Cashier If He Is Gay

President Obama and his entourage had lunch last Thursday at the Franklin Barbecue in Austin Texas. When it came time to pay, the cashier, part-time drag queen and comedian Daniel Webb, slapped the counter in front of the president and said enthusiastically: “Equal rights for gay people!”

The president replied good naturedly to Webb, “Are you gay?” Without missing a beat, Webb told the president “Only when I have sex.”

Webb’s quip earned a laugh from the president, who told Webb to “bump me” and exchanged a fist bump.

Continue Reading

Philip Wilder named new executive director of New Century Chamber Orchestra

Philip Wilder is the new executive director of San Francisco’s New Century Chamber Orchestra, Board President Mark Salkind announced today. Wilder, who brings multifaceted experience in leadership, programming, and management of several nonprofit arts and music organizations to the role, is also a musician and performer with deep experience in music education. He begins in the position July 21. He replaces Parker Monroe, who served as executive director for New Century Chamber Orchestra for 18 years. Monroe announced his retirement in December.

Wilder is well known in music circles in the San Francisco Bay Area. He was the founding director of education with acclaimed vocal ensemble Chanticleer, where he served also as artistic administrator and assistant music director during a 13-year period while singing with the ensemble in more than 1,000 concerts around the world. He launched the annual Chanticleer Youth Choral Festival for San Francisco Bay Area high school students, and led its nationwide Singing in the Schools program. He was associate director of the capital campaign for the Harman Center for the Arts in Washington, D.C., and was awarded a fellowship at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ DeVos Institute for Arts Management. As vice president of 21C Media Group public relations firm in New York, he represented clients including Yefim Bronfman, Susan Graham, Joyce DiDonato, Steven Stucky, and Jeremy Denk. Wilder has also consulted for artists and arts organizations, including Dallas Opera, the Grand Teton Music Festival and the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. He was executive director of communications for the Eastman School of Music, and most recently was the founding artistic and executive director with Sing With Haiti, a not-for-profit organization supporting the Holy Trinity Music School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

“Philip Wilder was the unanimous choice of our board and music director to take on the role of executive director,” said Salkind. “His breadth of experience, his many accomplishments as a leader and consultant to arts organizations, his fundraising and public relations experience, and his longtime Bay Area musical background with Chanticleer are all vital assets that will guide the vision of New Century Chamber Orchestra as we evolve and grow in the years ahead.”

“We owe a great debt and enormous thanks to Parker Monroe, our outgoing executive director, who is retiring after 18 years of creative and successful leadership of New Century Chamber Orchestra.”

“Philip’s background as a musician, his leadership experience with Chanticleer, and his professional guidance on behalf of so many classical music artists and organizations make him a perfect fit for New Century Chamber Orchestra,” said Music Director Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. “I’m excited to work together to create new opportunities for New Century Chamber Orchestra and to bring our music to more people, both here at home in the Bay Area and around the country.”

“It is a great honor to be chosen as New Century Chamber Orchestra’s next executive director, which brings me back to the city that gave me my start in music 24 years ago,” Wilder said. “After 11 years of appointments in Washington, D.C., and New York City, I return home with a wealth of experiences in the field of music to share with one of San Francisco’s most innovative arts organizations.

“I have been a fan of the New Century Chamber Orchestra since its early concerts in San Francisco in the 1990s. Since then, I have been a proud observer of the orchestra’s growing national and international reputation under the leadership of Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg. I look forward to joining with Nadja, the staff and board of New Century to lead the orchestra in the next chapter of its illustrious career.”

Philip Wilder is a classical music industry specialist with 24 years of multifaceted experience as an artistic programmer, administrator, educator, fundraiser, marketer, PR consultant, recording producer, and musician in the not-for-profit and corporate classical music industry. He was appointed as executive director of New Century Chamber Orchestra in San Francisco in July 2014. A graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy (major in piano and organ), the Eastman School of Music (Bachelor of Music in organ performance), and the DeVos Institute for Arts Management, Wilder began his professional career as a member of the San Francisco-based vocal ensemble Chanticleer, where he became artistic administrator, assistant music director and founding director of education.

During his 13-year association with Chanticleer, he performed as a countertenor in more than 1,000 concerts worldwide, and fostered collaborations with many composers and performers, including Sir John Tavener, Frederica von Stade and Dawn Upshaw. His 14 recordings for Warner Classics and Chanticleer Records garnered four Grammy nominations and two Grammy Awards. As Chanticleer’s founding director of education, he developed and implemented programs for music students in San Francisco and across America, including its Singing in the Schools program and the Chanticleer Youth Choral Festival, an annual event for San Francisco Bay Area high school students. Wilder also served as Chanticleer’s spokesperson, appearing on CBS, NBC, NPR, and other prominent national news outlets.

After leaving Chanticleer, Wilder took a position as associate director of the capital campaign for the Harman Center for the Arts in Washington, D.C., and was awarded a fellowship at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ DeVos Institute for Arts Management. While there, he managed the first American tour of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra for the United States Department of State, and collaborated with Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser on an instructional workbook for strategic planning for emerging arts organizations.

In 2005, Wilder joined 21C Media Group, the New York-based independent public relations, marketing, and consulting firm specializing in classical music and the performing arts. In 2012, he was named executive director of communications for the Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester.

During his seven years with 21C Media Group, Wilder developed an impressive roster of clients, including Grammy Award-winners Yefim Bronfman, Susan Graham, and Joyce DiDonato; Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Steven Stucky; and MacArthur “genius” Jeremy Denk. He also advised organizations, including the Dallas Opera, the Grand Teton Music Festival and the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. In 2009, founding partner Albert Imperato named Wilder vice president of 21C Media Group.

Currently residing in San Francisco, Wilder continues to consult for artists and arts organizations, and is a producer of new media content for Music Makes a City, a PBS documentary film and arts advocacy project produced by Owsley Brown Presents. He also served as the founding artistic and executive director of Sing With Haiti, a not-for-profit organization supporting the ongoing operations and rebuilding of the Holy Trinity Music School in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

Continue Reading

Newly Minted Insane GOP Candidate Wants to Force Atheists to Undergo Exorcisms

Gordon Klingenschmitt, who’s running on the Republican ticket for a state house seat in Colorado, has some serious words for atheists. According to Right Wing Watch,he thinks atheists need to undergo exorcisms, to get rid of the devil inside them, so they’ll feel comfortable in church. They’ll also then be “free to enjoy the worship of Jesus Christ.”
Klingenschmitt was referring to a court case that the Supreme Court refused to hear. In that case, a Wisconsin school district was under fire for holding its graduation ceremonies at a local church. Because the school in question is public, the 7th Circuit Court ruled that holding graduation ceremonies at a church was unconstitutional, according to theMilwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The Supreme Court refused to hear the case earlier this year.

Klingenschmitt said, according to Right Wing Watch:

“If the atheist complainer is so uncomfortable when they walk into a church that there’s something inside of them squirming and making them feel these feelings of hatred toward the cross of Jesus Christ, don’t you think it’s something inside of the atheist complainer that’s wrong?”

Well, no, actually. That’s just one of the many tropes that narrow-minded, tunnel-visioned evangelicals love to trot out when talking about atheists. They literally can’t imagine peoplereally thinking that way, so if someone does, obviously it’s demon possession. That’s the only possible answer. Other stupid tropes include: Atheists are angry with God, they can’t possibly know right from wrong, and they can’t be good people without knowing the love of Christ.

In short, evangelicals like Klingenschmitt don’t understand atheists at all. Atheists aren’t uncomfortable in a church per se, they’re uncomfortable with having religion shoved at them as though it’s the only “decent” way to live and breathe. They’re uncomfortable with someone deciding for them that they must go into a church to see a graduation, when a graduation is not a religious ceremony, and the school is not a religious school. Atheists would most likely see the situation completely differently if the ceremony in question was religious in nature, or at a religious school.

They might even “brave” the “discomfort” of entering a church if we were discussing a Christian ceremony. Sometimes, people who aren’t Jewish attend things like bar mitzvahs, which are held in synagogues. They’ll go into the synagogue for it, instead of protesting the location, because they know it’s a Jewish ceremony. For Klingenschmitt to assume that atheists are uncomfortable with merely even walking into a church shows that he’s like most evangelicals. He doesn’t get it

Continue Reading