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NEMA Tried To Erase The Castro And Chinatown From Their Map Of S.F.

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Luxe apartment complex NEMA, whose ridiculous and vaguely offensive marketing efforts have already inspired plenty of blog ire as well as a satirical Twitter account, published a map of San Francisco on their website that seems to want to pretend that gays and Chinese Americans don’t exist here anymore.

The map, which you can see above as it was three days ago, turns the Castro into “Eureka Valley/Dolores Heights” and washes over Chinatown altogether. It appears to be a co-opting of the neighborhood designations made by the San Francisco Association of Realtors and MLS a few years ago on this map, because realtors also like to pretend there’s no such thing as The Castro, for all the man-sex and dildo shops that that name connotes. But it’s another fine example of how NEMA’s marketing team is clueless.

After Twitterer EC and Vanishing SF called out the map, and after the satirical Rent Enemamocked it, the NEMA folks quickly published a new map which you can see below. Now there is no Eureka Valley, only The Castro in big letters, and they managed to squeeze Chinatown in there after all.

Nice work, everyone. Can’t wait for the next gaff.

 

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Football Player Flaunts Sexual Orientation On Live Television

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AJ McCarren didn’t seem to care that television cameras were on him when he decided to flaunt his heterosexual relationship with Katherine Webb.

“All of a sudden they were making out,” said ESPN viewer Roger Jellyton. “I couldn’t believe my eyes, and my children were in the room. How was I supposed to explain what they were seeing? What, that it’s OK for two people who love each other to kiss in a moment of joy and celebration? Ugh. What is this nation coming to? Enough is enough.”

When Free Wood Post interviewed McCarren on his decision to kiss his female partner on television he said, “I didn’t really even think about it. I love her and wanted to share the moment with her. That’s about it.”

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LGBT Youth Advocate Wins 2014 SF Peacemaker Award

Anayvette Martinez of LYRIC to be honored at Community Boards Luncheon on June 6

Anayvette Martinez, Founder of the School-Based Initiative for Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center (LYRIC), has been named as the 2014 winner of the Raymond Shonholtz Visionary Peacemaker Award, given to an outstanding individual who has made or is making significant contributions to peacemaking, community building and/or anti-violence work in her or his respective San Francisco neighborhood and community. She will be recognized by Community Boards, San Francisco’s non-profit conflict resolution center, during the fourth annual San Francisco Peacemaker Awards luncheon on Friday, June 6.

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“Martinez exemplifies the Raymond Shonholtz Visionary Peacemaker Award by turning a problem for LGBT students into an opportunity for all students to make peace and build community in San Francisco schools,” says Community Boards Executive Director Darlene Weide. “We are thrilled to recognize her contribution to making San Francisco a more peaceful and better place to live.”

Martinez will be honored alongside two other winners of the 2014 SF Peacemaker Awards. Lincoln High School Senior Sasha Rodriguez, peer mediator and peer counselor, will receive the Gail Sadalla Rising Peacemaker Award, which is awarded to a youth peacemaker (ages 12-24) who is making a difference in his or her school or community, setting an example for other youth in anti-violence and peacemaking activities. Bayview Hunters Point Foundation for Community Improvement will be presented with the Community Boards Leadership Peacemaker Award, presented each year to an organization that is making a meaningful track record in contributing to community building and peacemaking in San Francisco. Bios of all the winners are included below.

The 2014 Peacemaker Awards luncheon is slated for Friday, June 6, from 11 am to 1 pm, at the City Club of San Francisco, located at 155 Sansome Street. Tickets are available online for $175 for individuals, with discounts available for additional guests and for Community Boards members. Table sponsorships are also available, starting at $1000 and including 10 tickets to both the awards luncheon and the morning workshop with continental breakfast.

The Honorable Judge Cruz Reynoso, first Chicano Justice of the California Supreme Court, will present the keynote address, focusing on Restorative Justice. Claudia Viera, Esq., will teach the morning workshop at 9 am, focusing on implicit bias in the mediation process and in court.

About Community Boards

The mission of Community Boards is to empower the communities and individuals of San Francisco with the strength, skills and resources needed to express and resolve conflicts peacefully and appropriately for their culture and environment. Mediation, training and facilitation services are offered in English, Spanish, Mandarin and Cantonese to all San Francisco residents. Community Boards serves over 2,000 residents, nonprofits and businesses a year with its pool of 300+ volunteer mediators. Since 1976, Community Boards has assisted 46,000 San Francisco residents and trained more than 16,000 community members to be skilled mediators. More information is available at www.CommunityBoards.org.

About the Peacemakers  Anayvette Martinez: The Raymond Shonholtz Visionary Peacemaker Award

Anayvette Martinez believes every student deserves a safe learning environment, including the 3,000+ lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQQ) youth in the San Francisco United School District. That’s why she joined Lavender Youth Recreation and Information Center (LYRIC), and it’s why she founded the organization’s innovative School-Based Initiative.

According to Martinez, “To create LGBTQ and gender-inclusive schools, we need a holistic strategy. School community transformation doesn’t happen with once a year workshops; we need to envelop these conversations in school norms, curriculum, monthly activities, and bring everyone to the table.”

So, three years ago, she launched and took the helm of LYRIC’s School-Based Initiative. Based on a Restorative Justice approach, the program promotes allyship over tolerance, while giving participants practical tools to address harassment, bullying, and other violence against LGBTQQ youth. Under her leadership, the initiative is making public schools in San Francisco safer for LGBTQQ students by providing a year-long gender/sexuality-emphasized social justice course for students, a professional development training track for teachers and school staff, and discussion circles and support groups for families. Not only has her work made a substantial and immediate impact at Everett Middle School, Balboa High School, Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8, and Mission High School, it serves as a model for schools throughout California and across the nation.

Sasha Rodriguez: The Gail Sadalla Rising Peacemaker Award

“I like feeling like I am actually helping; it brings me satisfaction. I am helping make a difference by helping people make a difference in themselves. When I help other people it actually helps me figure out ways to solve problems in my own life,” she explains.

As a Peer Mediator and Peer Counselor, the Lincoln High School senior helps her fellow students by offering a safe venue and expert mediation skills to resolve conflict between students and with teachers. As one of only two student members of the Restorative Practices Leadership Team, she is working with teachers and staff to introduce and promote Restorative Practices at her school. As a Peer Mentor, she has taken a Freshman under her wing, working one-on-one with her in a support role. And as a Peer Educator, she teaches other young people – at Lincoln High and city-wide – to know their rights with law enforcement.

Teachers and peers describe Rodriguez as a bridge-builder, bridging the often-wide gulf between adults and youth. She actively and consistently amplifies the youth voice at Lincoln High, where she is seen as a role model for collaborative problem solving, effective communication and peacemaking in a diverse environment.

After graduation, she plans to attend Skyline College and work part-time, eventually transferring to a University to study and pursue a career in Marine Biology.

 

Bayview Hunters Point Foundation for Community Improvement:  Community Boards Leadership Peacemaker Award

Residents of Bayview Hunters Point are far too familiar with violence and crime in the neighborhood. And one organization has been working for more than 40 years to ensure they’re just as familiar with resources and opportunities to create an empowered, clean, safe and healthy community. Established by Bayview citizens in 1971 to serve the needs of residents of the community, Bayview Hunters Point Foundation for Community Improvement tackles youth gang violence and other crime head-on by connecting community members with – and fostering collaboration between – existing neighborhood services. Their Community Response Network (CRN) provides counseling at crime scenes as well as continuing support at the hospital, in the home, and in the neighborhood, connecting crime victims, their families, and witnesses with trauma recovery and mental health services, job training and placement, alternative education, health services, and recreation opportunities.

Their Youth Services program provides a safe space for 11-18 year olds to congregate and connects them with counseling and treatment, community beautification projects, and positive educational and recreational opportunities. The ROSIE Project provides hands-on, ongoing support to help 14-25 year old women meet court obligations and follow up with positive life choices in school and the community. The programs are all modeled on a vision of youth advocacy which honors the individual needs of participants, and supports and enhances individual, peer, and family life.

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Jurors Beg Judge Not To Send Occupy Wall Street Protester To Prison

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Nine members of the jury that convicted an Occupy Wall Street protester of felony assault of an officer have signed a letter asking that the judge not sentence her to any prison time. “We the jury petition the court for leniency in the sentencing of Cecily McMillan,” the letter reads. “We feel that the felony mark on Cecily’s record is punishment enough for this case and that it serves no purpose to Cecily or to society to incarcerate her for any amount of time.”

One member of the jury told the Guardian a day after the verdict that they weren’t aware that McMillan was facing up to seven years in prison for their verdict: “Most just wanted her to do probation, maybe some community service. But now what I’m hearing is seven years in jail? That’s ludicrous. Even a year in jail is ridiculous.”

In the trial that lasted nearly four weeks, McMillan claimed that her arresting officer, Grantley Bovell, violently grabbed her breast, which caused her to rear back and strike him with her elbow. Officer Bovell testified that it was intentional. Photographs show a deep bruise on McMillan’s right breast, but the jury told the Guardian they were swayed by a grainy video.

Judge Ronald Zweibel has not shown sympathy for McMillan; he sent her to Rikers without bail after the verdict (and denied her appeal), denied a request to unseal evidence that may have cast more doubts on Officer Bovell’s credibility, imposed a gag order on McMillan’s attorneys, and on more than one occasion acted angrily towards her supporters in the courtroom.

McMillan’s sentencing is on May 19th

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‘Anti-gay’ Republican candidate outed as having worked as a DRAG QUEEN under the name ‘Miss Mona Sinclair’

A North Carolina Republican candidate campaigning against same-sex marriage has been outed as a former drag queen performer known as ‘Miss Mona Sinclair’.

Steve Wiles, a conservative state Senate candidate, donned a wig and fake lashes for eight years at the now defunct gay-friendly lounge Club Odyssey, where he directed and emceed a weekly drag show. 

The club’s former owner Randy Duggins told Winston-Salem Journal he broke his silence because he wants voters to know that Wiles is, he believes, a ‘hypocrite’ and ‘liar’.

Wiles, 34, initially denied the bombshell allegations, but came out yesterday admitting his past.

‘For me, from a religious standpoint, just for my life, for me, it just was not something that I wanted to continue,’ the fledgling politician told Business Insider about being a drag queen.

‘Of course it was an embarrassment, but you know, you move on. You live life, and you change, and you make yourself what you want yourself to be. And that’s where I am now.’

Revelation: Outspoken gay marriage opponent Steve Wiles, 34 (pictured) has been outed as having worked as a drag queen performer known as 'Miss Mona Sinclair'

Revelation: Outspoken gay marriage opponent Steve Wiles, 34 (pictured) has been outed as having worked as a drag queen performer known as ‘Miss Mona Sinclair’

Wiles, who doesn’t consider himself ‘anti-gay’, supports a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in North Carolina. He considers marriage a religious institution, which he argues makes gay marriage un-Christian.

The real estate agent is competing against two other GOP candidates in a competitive primary scheduled for Tuesday, with observers noting he is up against well-connected politicos.

Wiles has not indicated whether he believes news of his past will hurt his chances, but said he has no intention of quitting.

Today, he responded to his critics in a long post on Facebook (see below) in which he claimed he ‘is for’ all Americans, regardless of their sexuality, and believes ‘state control of the institution of marriage is unconstitutional’.

Wiles, who refuses to comment on his own sexuality, said that he doesn’t believe being against same-sex marriage is the same thing as being anti-gay.

‘I don’t really understand how you can separate the fact that marriage is a religious institution,’ Wiles told Business Insider.

However to his former boss Randy Duggins, Wiles’ refusal to acknowledge his former days as a female impersonator while opposing marriage equality is a sign of hypocrisy.

HIs Reaction:
Reaction: Steve Wiles today posted a response to his critics on his Facebook page, saying that he makes mistakes but tries to live a life that reflects his beliefs

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HGTV Network Greenlights Show Starring Anti-Gay Campaigners

Last month, HGTV announced a new reality show, Flip It Forward, following two twin brother realtors as they “leverage their good-natured sibling rivalry to help families find a fixer-upper and transform it into the dream home they never thought they could afford.”

What’s not readily apparent is that the brothers are David and Jason Benham, sons of Flip Benham, an evangelical preacher who has campaigned against abortion, LGBT rights, Islam and more. Oh, and at least one of the two brothers – the stars of this new show, lest we forget – is a right wing activist much like his father, who has campaigned and protested on similar issues.

Right Wing Watch reports that David Benham held a prayer rally in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2012 which he said was necessary to stop “homosexuality and its agenda”:

“We don’t realize that, okay, if 87 percent of Americans are Christians and yet we have abortion on demand; we have no-fault divorce; we have pornography and perversion; we have a homosexuality and its agenda that is attacking the nation; we have adultery; we have all of the things; we even have allowed demonic ideologies to take our universities and our public school systems while the church sits silent and just builds big churches.”

In that same interview he said that his brother Jason, the other star of Flip It Forward, joined him in organizing the prayer rally. David also discussed his work campaigning for North Carolina’s Amendment One, which banned same-sex marriage and civil unions at a constitutional level:

“In North Carolina, you know, we just fought for Amendment One, which was a constitutional amendment that simply said, this is exactly what the amendment said is the only legal marriage in North Carolina was between a man and a woman. We received—it was such a battle in North Carolina, it blew me away.”

The Benhams’ father, Flip, heads up the abortion clinic protest group Operation Save America, and is responsible for gems such as condemning the interfaith Sandy Hook memorialprotesting in front of mosquesprotesting LGBT pride eventsstalking an abortion doctor and blaming 9/11 on abortion.

 

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Supreme Court Unanimously Slaps Conservative Appeals Court For Botching Police Shooting Case

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Last year, an unusually conservative panel of the conservative United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued an opinion dismissing a black shooting victim’s lawsuit against a white police officer. On Monday, the Supreme Court unanimously reversed this decision in a rare order handed down without oral argument or full briefing from the parties. The order is even more rare because the conservative Roberts Court unanimously reversed a lower court from the left.

This case arose out of an incident on New Years Eve in 2008, when a Texas police sergeant named Jeffrey Cotton shot Robbie Tolan. Tolan is professional baseball player and the son of longtime Major Leaguer Bobby Tolan.

Around 2 in the morning on the day of the shooting, another officer ran the license plate of a black SUV that he saw take a turn a little too quickly and then park in front of a house, but the officer miskeyed the plate number — leading his computer to incorrectly tell him that the vehicle was stolen. The cop then exited his car, drew his gun, and ordered the two men who had just exited the SUV to the ground. Soon, Tolan’s parents, who lived in the home where the car was parked, emerged from the house in their pajamas and tried to explain that the car belonged to their family and that no one had committed a crime. Nevertheless, the cop radioed for backup.

Things escalated quickly after Sergeant Jeffrey Cotton arrived at the scene. Tolan and his family claim that Cotton grabbed Tolan’s mother’s arm and slammed her against the garage door with sufficient force that she fell to the ground. They also claim that, while Tolan rose to his knees after this incident, he never stood up or approached the officers. Cotton claims that he used less force on Tolan’s mother and that Tolan rose to his feet. No one disputes what happened next, however. Tolan told Cotton to “get your fucking hands off my mom” — and then Cotton drew his pistol and fired three shots at Tolan. Though Tolan survived, the bullets collapsed his right lung and pierced his liver.

After Tolan sued Cotton, his case wound up in front of a very conservative panel of the Fifth Circuit. Judges Edith Jones and Rhesa Barksdale once voted to allowa man to be executed despite the fact that his lawyer slept through much of his trial. Judge Leslie Southwick once joined a court decision upholding the reinstatement of a white state worker who was fired for calling a black colleague a “good ole n*igger.” These three judges ruled in favor of Cotton.

As the Supreme Court explained on Monday, however, Jones, Barksdale and Southwick bungled this decision. In federal courts, a party which believes that there are no real factual disputes in a case can seek something called “summary judgment” The court considering a request for summary judgement, however, must view all evidence “in the light most favorable” to the party that isn’t seeking such a judgment. Essentially, in order to win a summary judgment, a party must show that they would win their case even if every factual issue in the case were decided against them.

Yet, as the justices explain in an unsigned order, that’s not what happened in Tolan’s case. Cotton claimed that the Tolans’ porch was “dimly-lit,” that Tolan’s mother did not remain calm, that Tolan stood up and that he was ‘verbally threatening” — and that these facts justified a spur of the moment decision to shoot. Even if all of these facts are true, however, it is not the job of the Fifth Circuit to assume that they are true before the case is even tried. In the words of the Supreme Court, “[t]he witnesses on both sides come to this case with their own perceptions, recollections, and even potential biases. It is in part for that reason that genuine disputes are generally resolved by juries in our adversarial system.”

The upshot of this the Supreme Court’s opinion is that the Fifth Circuit will have to try again. Tolan could still lose, but he is entitled to have his case considered under the proper legal standard first.

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DIvided Court Backs Prayer at Town Meetings

The Supreme Court ruling doesn’t come as too big a surprise, but for proponents of church-state separation, this morning’s decision is nevertheless disappointing.
The Supreme Court on Monday ruled that a town in upstate New York may begin its public meetings with a prayer from a “chaplain of the month.”
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in the 5-to-4 decision, said “ceremonial prayer is but a recognition that, since this nation was founded and until the present day, many Americans deem that their own existence must be understood by precepts far beyond that authority of government to alter or define.”
In dissent, Justice Elena Kagan said the town’s practices could not be reconciled “with the First Amendment’s promise that every citizen, irrespective of her religion, owns an equal share of her government.”
Let’s back up and revisit what this case was all about. At issue are town board meetings in Greece, N.Y., a Rochester suburb, which hosts a “chaplain of the month” before board members begin their official business. Nearly all of the invited chaplains are Christian, and “more often than not,” the Christian clergy “called on Jesus Christ or the Holy Spirit to guide the council’s deliberations.”
This would appear to be out of step with the First Amendment. Americans are, of course, welcome to pray or not as they wish, but for the local government to incorporate Christian prayers as part of the official community meeting was problematic.
Some local taxpayers, Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens, reached out to my friends at Americans United for Separation of Church and State, which filed suit to keep board meetings secular. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously in their favor.
The usual suspects on the high court – Republican appointees Roberts, Alito, Kennedy, Scalia, and Thomas – disagreed.
The underlying legal dispute has been litigated before, though the cases weren’t identical. Thirty years ago, in a case called Marsh v. Chambers, the Supreme Court cleared the way for legislative prayers, which remain quite common nationwide. But in legislative prayers, members of the public are simply spectators, whereas the public actually participates in town board meetings.
In other words, in Greece, N.Y., government-sponsored Christian prayers are more likely to make Americans feel like second-class citizens in their own community. Under the guise of “ceremonial” religious endorsements, the court majority was unmoved.
The entirety of the ruling is online here (pdf). A statement from the group that filed the case is online here.
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White House Ducks Questions On Biden’s Openness To Executive Action On LGBT Discrimination

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Thursday dodged questions about Vice President Joe Biden’s apparent support for an executive order banning job discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees of federal contractors.

The White House has long avoided explaining why President Barack Obama won’t take executive action on the matter, even though he made a 2008 campaign promise to do so. But on Tuesday, Biden seemed to offer an opening, telling The Huffington Post in an interview, “I don’t see any downside” to doing it — a small win for LGBT rights groups perplexed by the president’s reluctance to act.

Carney demurred when asked if the president agrees with Biden. Instead, he shifted the focus back to Congress and said the most effective way to stem LGBT job discrimination is to pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act — something Biden also emphasized in his remarks. That bill is stalled in the House.

“I just don’t engage in discussion about speculative executive orders,” Carney said. “There is legislation on Capitol Hill that we strongly support and we’d like to see passed by the House.”

When it was noted that Biden was willing to weigh in on a speculative executive order, Carney said, “No, I think he answered a question about it, as I have repeatedly. And I’m happy to … I try not to engage in speculation about any executive action the president may or may not take.”

To be sure, ENDA would go much further than an executive order. If passed by Congress, the bill would make it illegal nationwide to fire or harass someone at work for being LGBT. In contrast, an executive order would only apply to employees of federal contractors. But such an order would still protect as many as 16 millionworkers, and LGBT rights groups say both executive action and legislation are needed, given their different penalties and remedies.

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Dick Cheney denies war criminal allegations at KPU event

Former Vice President Dick Cheney refuted accusations that he is a war criminal during his speech to students and members of the AU community in Bender Arena on March 28. The Kennedy Political Union hosted Cheney as part of a stream of speakers coming to campus.

“The accusations are not true,” Cheney said.

20140327_kpucheney_anasantos_c_0088Former VP Dick Cheney Talks Politics, Responds to Controversy at KPU Event

 

During his vice presidency, three people were waterboarded, Cheney said. Waterboarding refers to either pumping a stomach with water or inducing choking by filling a throat with a stream of water, according to a report by NPR.

“Some people called it torture. It wasn’t torture,” Cheney said in an interview with ATV.

Students protested the event due to the accusations of war criminality against Cheney, The Eagle previously reported.

According to Cheney, the enhanced interrogation tactics used do not fall under the scope of the 1949 United Nations Geneva Convention, which outlaws cruel, inhuman or any degrading treatment or punishment because the Geneva Convention does not apply to unlawful combatants.

The Bush administration considered terrorists as unlawful combatants and considered those undergoing enhanced interrogation tactics as terrorists.

“If I would have to do it all over again, I would,” Cheney said. “The results speak for themselves.”

Cheney: ‘Weak’ response on Syria, Crimea
Cheney told The Eagle that Obama’s response regarding Syria and Crimea has been weak dating back to the Syrian conflict.

“The president indicated that if the Syrians used chemical weapons there would be consequence,” he said. “They used chemical weapons and there were no consequences. That conveyed a sense of weakness; that you don’t have to pay attention to what he [the president] says because he won’t follow through.”

A lack of U.S. leadership created a vacuum for extremist Islamist groups to sweep through Syria, Cheney said.

Obama is again showing weak leadership in Crimea, according to Cheney.

“Putin has gotten away with Crimea,” Cheney said regarding the recent annexation of Crimea to Russia.

Cheney said he advises Ukrainian officer training and military exercises with Poland in order to combat Russian influence in the Ukraine.

Snowden’s whistleblowing is ‘devastating’

Cheney said he fully supports National Security Agency surveillance and phone tapping.

“I don’t have any problems with our people doing that,” Cheney said about NSA surveillance.

The U.S. needs to take advantage of technology in the face of constant threat of cyberwarfare because the country needs to protect itself, according to Cheney.

Cheney also discussed his opinions on NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, calling him a traitor. However, he considered the possibility that there are undiscovered NSA internal leaks.

“I’ve always wondered, although I haven’t been able to prove one way or another, if he [Snowden] had more help from the inside,” Cheney told the audience at the KPU event. “What he’s done to the U.S., it is devastating.”

 

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Justice Scalia makes embarrassing error in latest dissent

Justice Scalia makes embarrassing error in latest dissentAntonin Scalia (Credit: Jeff Malet, maletphoto.com)

Justice Antonin Scalia is famous for his acerbic, caustic and highly readable dissents. So when his latest was released on Tuesday, in which Scalia rails against the court’s 6-2 decision to uphold the Environmental Protection Agency’s right to regulate coal pollution that crosses state lines, observers of the court were ready to dive into another delicious Scalia attack.

But there’s a problem — it turns out that Scalia’s dissent makes a rare, clear and somewhat embarrassing factual error.

“This is not the first time EPA has sought to convert the Clean Air Act into a mandate for cost-effective regulation. Whitman v. American Trucking Assns., Inc., 531 U. S. 457 (2001), confronted EPA’s contention that it could consider costs in setting [National Ambient Air Quality Standards],” Scalia writes in his dissent. But as Talking Points Memo’s Sahil Kapur notes, Scalia’s gotten the earlier case almost completely backward.

“The EPA’s position in 2001,” writes Kapur, “was exactly the opposite.” In that case, the EPA was defending its right to not use cost concerns as a counter to health effects when writing certain air quality standards. The EPA won that case unanimously, with all nine justices taking its side. And the author of the opinion for the court on that case was none other than Scalia himself.

“Scalia’s dissent … contains a hugely embarrassing mistake,” wrote University of California-Berkeley law professor Dan Farber. “He refers to the Court’s earlier decision in American Trucking as involving an effort by EPA to smuggle cost considerations into the statute. But that’s exactly backwards: it was industry that argued for cost considerations and EPA that resisted.”

Farber continued, writing, “Either some law clerk made the mistake and Scalia failed to read his own dissent carefully enough, or he simply forgot the basics of the earlier case and his clerks failed to correct him. Either way, it’s a cringeworthy blunder.”

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DES VOIX… FOUND IN TRANSLATION Biennial 2014 A Festival of New French Plays and Cinema

Playwrights Foundation (PF) Cutting Ball Theater and Tides Theatre announced the Des Voix…Found In Translation Biennial 2014, a Festival of New French Plays and Cinema in San Francisco May 1-25, 2014.  Des Voix…Found In Translation is an international exchange project that initiates the translation of vanguard French and American playwrights, supporting  the presentation of their work to audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. Des Voix…Found In Translation features new play readings-May 8-11 at Tides Theatre and also includes: A Festival of New French Cinema May 4, 11, 18 & 25 featuring some of the most dynamic French screenwriters in this generation, concurrently at Tides Theatre; A rare “Bal Littéraire” A New Play Nightclub  on Friday May 9 at 7 PM , Hosted with Nathalie Fillion of La Coopérative d’Ecriture (Cooperative Writing) at The French American International School. Go to www.desvioxfestival.com for the full schedule.

This San Francisco festival features new translations of provocative plays by four of the most innovative playwrights working in France today – Christophe Honoré, Leonore Confino and Riad Gahmi will be showcased with new play readings-May 8-11 at Tides Theatre. Samuel Gallet’s play COMMUNIQUÉ10 translated by Rob Melrose in the 2012 Des Voix Festival is receiving its American Premiere (May 1-25) as part of Cutting Ball Theater’s 15th Anniversary season for this Des Voix… festival. Three plays will be performed in English during the month-long Festival at Tides Theatre with COMMUNIQUÉ10 at Cutting Ball  in San Francisco.

The fabled “auteur” Christophe Honoré, (an heir apparent of the French New Wave)  Christophe Honoré‘s first play, ‘Les Débutantes,’ was performed at Avignon in 1998. Christophe, a filmmaker and screenwriter, has had many outings at Cannes, closing the fest in 2011 with ‘The Beloved,’ featuring  both Catherine Deneuve and daughter Chiara Mastroianni. He returned to Avignon with his play ‘Dionysos Impuissant’ (in 2005), with Joana Preiss and Louis Garrel playing the leads. .

Leonore Confino is known for her recently completed trilogy of plays about lifes obsessions, Her play ‘Building,’ was one of the highlights of the last Festival Off d’Avign. The second play ‘Ring’ is 17 rounds of boxing between couples, in which the actors play ten characters dealing with life as a couple. This past January, the third part of Léonore’s trilogy ‘Les Uns sur Les Autres,’ a play about a French suburban family, played at the Théâtre de la Madeleine in Paris, starring Agnès Jaoui as the exhausted mother.

Riad Gahmi is a passionate raconteur, who in a long-term collaboration with Philippe Vincent, co-writer of the spectacle/play ‘Un arabe dans mon miroir’ (An Arab in My Mirror), which is a spectacle of scenes combining theater, film, and music. The play was workshopped in Cairo and performed at various theaters in Germany, France, and New York In each country a local  actor and cast speaks in her native language, rebuilding  every time, becoming a simple witness of the war in Algeria in the Egyptian revolution through the September 11 attacks.

Samuel Gallet is an emerging writer who has made his mark as one of the most prominent young playwrights of his generation, with plays staged by top Parisian directors. His play ‘Encore Un Jour Sans’ was a finalist for the Grand Prix de Littérature Dramatique. Inspired by the 2005 Paris riots, his play ‘Communique N°10,’ was translated by Rob Melrose for the inaugural 2012 Des Voix Festival.

Playwrights Foundation’s Artistic Director Amy Mueller comments on the collaboration: “It takes a village to build a bridge across cultures, and we are thrilled to be working with two of San Francisco’s most globally minded Artistic Directors – Rob Melrose of Cutting Ball Theater and Jenifer Welch of Tides Theatre – and one of the foremost translators in the world, Laurent Muhleisen, to build this project that connects the Left Bank with the Left Coast.”  Collaborator Rob Melrose, an acclaimed translator and director observes that “These four works are simply extraordinary plays, theatrically brilliant and singular in the ways each story tackles the culture-quake of the 21st century – using a quintessentially French lens to express the universality of the current cultural zeitgeist in the West.”

The Plays

The Festival will feature Cutting Ball Theater’s American Premiere of Samuel Gallet’s ‘Communique No. 10.’ Exploring the tensions of the underclass in a city that is bursting at the seams, ‘Communique N°10′ was inspired by the 2005 Paris riots led by North African youth. Performances begin April 25 (Press Opening May 1), and the production will run through May 25. At the heart of the Festival in mid-May will be the Des Voix Festival itself, a non-stop weekend showcasing three brand new translations: Leonore Confino’s newest work ‘Les Uns Sur Les Autres,’ a fast talking, fast sleeping, fast eating, non-sensical family satire driven by an over abundance of electronic devices – the world of a proper family connected to everything but itself; Christophe Honoré’s ‘Un Jeune Se Tue,’ a disturbing and tragic nocturnal ghost story about love, death, and unearthly beings. Riad Gahmi’s darkly comedic work ‘Où Et Quand Nous Sommes Morts,’ which satirically confronts European xenophobia, anti-Arab racism and media’s sensationalist conjuring of empathy, which results in social division rather than social unity.

Film

A series of new French cinema will run concurrently every Sunday evening (May 4, 11, 18. 25) at Tides Theatre .  Featured films are ; (Partial List)  Antonin Pertjallo, La Fille du 14 Juillet (The girl of the 14 July);and  Mila Hanson , la Pere des Mes Enfants, Love (father of my children)*. Jennifer Welch of Tides, who curates the films remarks, “Expanding the scope of the Des Voix Festival, and deepening the cultural exchange.  We are curating a series of contemporary French films that speak to American audiences, bring these voices to a community eager for new and provocative foreign cinema.” At Tides Theatre, (*programing subject to change)

Bal Littéraire

The festival features a rare Bal Littéraire  (A New Play Nightclub) on Friday, May 9th at 7 PM. This tradition is wildly popular throughout France, typically created in 48 hours by multiple writers, and performed for one evening only, is a unique hybrid of flash performance, club dancing and play reading – and includes audience participation. The Bal will will tap the talents of six writers – three French and three American – in collaboration. Hosted with Nathalie Fillion member of La Coopérative d’Ecriture, the originators of “Bal Littéraire” in France.

Festival events are scheduled throughout the month of May at three venues between Union Square and the vibrant Market Street corridor, the hub of the city’s artistic and cultural action.

Go to www.desvioxfestival.com for the full schedule.

The goal of the  translation project is to exchange ideas and perspectives of today’s world, and to increase and deepen cultural exchanges between France and the U.S. that began began with Des Voix…Found In Translation 2012. This project is a collaboration between Playwrights Foundation, a legendary (for over 3 decades) new play development center in San Francisco, Cutting Ball Theater, named  SF’s “Best Experimental Theater Company” , and The Tides Theatre, an innovative new theater making its mark in SF Culture, and the Maison Antoine Vitez], an International Centre for Drama Translation in Paris.

The French playwrights will be in residence in San Francisco for the duration of the festival in May, and will participate in the rehearsal and performance process of their newly translated plays. Translators include Kimberley Jannarone and Erik Butler (Un Jeune Se Tue), Michelle Haner (Les Uns Sure Les Autres), and Rob Melrose (‘Communique N10′ & Où Et Quand Nous Sommes Morts), who also directs his translations. Each of the three new plays will be performed as staged readings during the festival by many of the Bay Area’s finest actors and directors. For the erudite scholarly theater-goer, the festival will also include a colloquium entitled “The Left Bank Meets The Left Coast: Transmigration of Theater and Culture”

The Paris festival is being produced by the Maison Antoine Vitez, and will be presented May 25, 2014 at the Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, founded by Peter Brook, and known worldwide as the place to see groundbreaking work. The Paris festival will feature translations of exceptionally gifted, early career American playwrights Rajiv Joseph, ‘Bengal Tiger At The Baghdad Zoo,’ Marcus Gardley, ‘Every Tongue Confess’ (as a radio play) and Liz Duffy Adams, ‘The Reckless Ruthless Brutal Charge Of It or The Train Play’ all performed in French. Commissioned to translate these three works are Dominique Hollier (Gardley), Laurent Muhleisen (Joseph) and Isabelle Famchon (Adams).

The producers are working closely with the Cultural Services of the French Consul General in San Francisco on the presentation of the American festival.

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New Technologies to Stop Texting and Driving

Despite the dangers, we just can’t seem to keep ourselves from texting and driving. For those having a difficult time putting down their phones to pay attention to the road, new technologies may provide an answer.

There are already applications to keep us from texting or answering calls while driving. Apps like Textecution, tXtBlocker, and AT&T DriveMode all block calls and messaging features while the phone is in motion. Some apps include additional features for parents (or employers) to be notified of particular activities.

It’s interesting to note that many of the hands-free applications do not actually reduce the amount of distraction, and in some cases end up being equally, if not more, distracting to the driver. This has increased the call for mobile devices to be put down completely while driving.

There are some shortcomings, however. Applications that automatically turn on when detecting speeds higher than 10 mph can be limiting usage for passengers in the car. Similarly, drivers can easily bypass the application by simply clicking the passenger option.

For the most part, keeping people from texting and driving is an awareness issue. Campaigns like It Can Wait and the Safe Texting Campaign are aimed at educating drivers, in particular young drivers, about the dangers of being distracted.

We’re likely to continue to see an increase in these as we become more and more intertwined with our mobile devices.

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Reflecting on $1 Trillion in Student Debt, and Why We’re Headed for $2 Trillion

This week marks the two-year anniversary that student debt hit $1 trillion, and like any milestone anniversary, it’s worth taking some time to reflect on how we got here—and where we’re headed.

Roughly, outstanding student debt sits at $1.2 trillion. For some perspective (and depending on which source you prefer), this figure was around $250 billion in 2003. This, suffice it to say, represents a staggering rate of growth in student loans in a very short period of time. The growth rate of outstanding student loans exceeded 12% in the middle of 2011-12 alone, before slowing down a bit to 8.5% in 2013.

Even at the current (slower) rate of 8.5%, the $1.2 trillion in outstanding student loan debt will become $2 trillion in just 8 years, sometime around 2022.

There are million (trillion?) reasons for why total student loan debt has shot so high over the past decade—increased college enrollment (until recently), huge increases in the cost of graduate education, the high cost of for-profit education, income stagnation among middle class and low-income households and the loss of wealth sources that previously were used to fund college (home equity, for example). One enormous and consistent driver, however, is the systematic disinvestment in institutions where 75% of college students attend: public colleges and universities.

New data this week from the State Higher Education Executive Officers bears this out. The good news is that 2013 was the first in many years in which states actually increased appropriations for higher education. Unfortunately, the increase was only 1.4% per full-time student. But in a year in which total state funding increased slightly, 20 states still cut per-student funding. Arkansas alone cut funding by 17.5%.

And even factoring in the increase, state funding per student is down 23% since 2008 and down nearly 29% over the last 25 years. States spend $2,685 less per full-time student than they did in 2001, the height of state funding. In this context, a 1.4% increase amounts to very little. (Note: these numbers are consistent with Demos’ recent post-recession update to the Great Cost Shiftwhich used data through 2012)

And indeed, students are shouldering more of the costs at—and this bears repeating—public institutions. The percentage of total educational revenue (that is, what funds college) covered by tuition reached a high of 47.4% in 2013. In other words, nearly half of college costs at public schools are being funded by students. Again, for perspective, tuition covered only about a third (35.6%) of educational spending just five years ago, and less than a fourth (23.8%) 25 years ago.

The shift from public higher education to something resembling a private system has been swift, indeed. And this shift has a lot to do with why we’re on our way to celebrating the $2 trillion anniversary sooner than many of us would have hoped.

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FINALLY: Boehner concedes ACA repeal ‘isn’t the answer’

Three weeks ago, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) responded with a simple message to the news that Affordable Care Act enrollment had exceeded expectations: “House Republicans will continue to work to repeal this law.”
Three weeks later, it appears even Boehner doesn’t believe Boehner’s bluster.
Speaker John A. Boehner said Thursday that changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act make it impossible to just repeal the health care law unless Congress has a replacement ready as well.
Speaking at a Rotary Club meeting in his Ohio district … Boehner said simply repealing the Affordable Care Act “isn’t the answer” and it would take time to transition to a new system.
According to the account from the local paper, Boehner specifically told his audience, “(To) repeal Obamacare … isn’t the answer. The answer is repeal and replace. The challenge is that Obamacare is the law of the land. It is there and it has driven all types of changes in our health care delivery system. You can’t recreate an insurance market overnight.”
Hmm. Let’s take a brief stroll down memory lane.
In 2011, Boehner tried several times to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
In 2012, shortly after the national elections, Boehner suggested he was done trying to repeal the law. “It’s pretty clear that the president was re-elected,” he said. “Obamacare is the law of the land.”
In 2013, Boehner returned to trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act and even shut down the federal government in part over ill-defined opposition to the law.
In 2014, just a few weeks after saying his caucus will keep up its repeal crusade, Boehner has returned to the realization that the ACA is “the law of the land” and full repeal “isn’t the answer.”
And to think some House Republicans aren’t satisfied with the quality of the Speaker’s leadership.
I suppose the obvious next question for Boehner is this: when, exactly, did he come to the realization that trying to “repeal Obamacare … isn’t the answer”?
On the one hand, if this just recently dawned on the House Speaker, why did it take him so long?
On the other hand, if Boehner has been aware of this for some time, then why has he allowed House Republicans to waste so much time with several dozen votes to repeal some or all of the federal reform law?
The clarification from his office didn’t help much.
Spokesman Brendan Buck downplayed Boehner’s comments. “For four years now the House Republican position has been repeal-and-replace,” he said.
The GOP, however, has taken a number of votes to repeal the law, including bills that would have completely repealed the law without replacing it. The party hasn’t unified behind a replacement, let alone voted on one, since Boehner took the speaker’s gavel.
The Speaker’s occasional incoherence notwithstanding, Boehner’s underlying sentiment reinforces the fact that the health care debate has shifted considerably just over the last several weeks. Between all of the positive news surrounding implementation of the law, the remarkable enrollment data, Democrats starting to look at the law as a political benefit, Republicans hedging on ACA issues like Medicaid expansion, and the nation’s top GOP lawmaker abandoning full repeal as “the answer,” Obamacare proponents finally have the wind at the their backs.
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New Program in China for High School and College Students to Travel with Stanford Lecturers to Learn About Urban Development

A new two-week Global Leadership program in China for English-speaking high school and college students is accepting applications for summer 2014.  Walking Tree Travel, an organization that specializes in service, conservation, and leadership programs in 18 countries, just announced the China Global Leadership Program itinerary.  The program includes stops in four of China’s most famous and fascinating cities – Hong Kong, Beijing, Shenzhen and Guangzhou. On this program, participants will get an inside look at changing social and economic environments in these cities, and learn how urban planners are dealing with unprecedented population growth.

“We have just passed the halfway mark and 51% of the earth’s population now live in urban environments,” said Deland Chan, Stanford University Urban Planning Lecturer and guide for the China Global Leadership Program.  “This program is an excellent start for young people who are looking to lead in areas of communications and city planning.  This program gives an insider’s look at a growing economy with an emphasis on urban sustainability.

The program will take students to four very different urban centers in China, each facing challenges of employment, sustainability, environmental protection, and transportation.  Students will get to engage with important current events, all while enjoying Chinese culture, entertainment, and food. Chan’s fellow guide Kevin Hsu (also a Lecturer in the Urban Planning Department of Stanford University), added that  “this will be a tour of China for future leaders who want an incredible cultural experience and want to prepare for the challenges of the 21st Century by honing their leadership, problem solving, and communications skills.”

The 15-day program is from June 30 – July 15, 2014.  For additional information, contact Walking Tree Travel at 303-242-8541 or visit the website at www.walkingtree.org.

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Shipwreck: San Francisco’s Worst Remains Undiscovered — Along with Millions in Silver

Amazing scenes were witnessed today when it was revealed the elusive wreckage of the City of Chester has been located 216 feet beneath the waves, not far from the Golden Gate Bridge.

That ship’s 1888 sinking killed 16 people; it was the second-worst disaster recorded on the waters of San Francisco Bay.
The worst disaster, however, vanished without a trace. And, as is the case with so many horrendous incidents later rendered insignificant by the Great Quake of 1906, it has equally vanished from public memory.
There is, however, a story to tell. It was 1901. It was the extreme tail end of a journey from Hong Kong to San Francisco.
And it was foggy.
CityofRDJ.jpg
Golden Gate National Recreation Area Archive
Happier times

 

On Feb. 22, 1901, the City of Rio De Janeiro steamed through the Golden Gate; had it not been so perilously foggy the city’s lights would have beckoned.

The voyage from the Far East was ostensibly 99.9 percent complete. But 99.99 percent is not 100 percent. Some 130 people would soon learn this in the most unforgiving manner possible.
San Francisco’s worst maritime disaster didn’t take long to unfold. The City of Rio de Janeiro sank in just eight minutes after striking submerged rocks near Fort Point. The ship’s underside was ripped nearly completely open and its hold flooded rapidly. Rescue crews only hundreds of yards away remained oblivious due to the dense fog; their first clue of the unfolding tragedy came when lifeboats floated by two hours later.
By the time rescue vessels could be dispatched, it was too late to save many passengers. A few were found clinging to scattered bits of wreckage, but, of the 220-odd people aboard the boat, only 82 were saved — many by Italian fishermen on the scene far sooner than official personnel.
Captain William Ward, who always said he’d go down with his ship, went down with his ship. So did silver ingots with a present-day value exceeding $22 million.
Detritus from the wreck washed up throughout the bay; luggage and chairs were found as far off as Suisun. In 1931, a man known to history only as “Captain Haskell” told gawping news reporters that he’d discovered the vessel with a two-man sub of his own devising. He filed a claim on the wreckage and hatched plans to become a millionaire.
Instead, in July of that year, he would disappear, never to be seen again.
The City of Rio de Janeiro has long since been forgotten. Its wreckage was never recovered.
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Guest Conductor James Conlon Leads The SF Symphony In Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1

Guest conductor James Conlon returns to conduct three concerts with the San Francisco Symphony (SFS) April 24-26 at Davies Symphony Hall, with pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet and the orchestra’s own Principal Trumpet Mark Inouye in Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 1, along with works by Tchaikovsky and Schulhoff. Conlon, devoted to programming the music of composers whose careers were silenced by the Nazi regime, will conduct the Scherzo from Symphony No. 5 by the Czech-born composer Erwin Schulhoff (1894-1942). These are the first SF Symphony performances of this work. Schulhoff’s music was blacklisted by the Nazi party in the 1930s due to his Jewish descent and radical politics, and he was eventually deported to the Wülzburg Concentration Camp where he died in 1942.

Another rarely performed work on the concert is Shostakovich’s officially titled Concerto in C minor for Piano, Trumpet, and String Orchestra; the SF Symphony has performed it only twice in its history. Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet is a frequent guest of the SFS, and Inouye has been featured several times with the orchestra this season; his recent performances in Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 earned critical acclaim, and he will be a soloist in J.S. Bach’s Cantata No. 51, Jauchzet Gott in allen Landen in the coming SF Symphony’s Bach concerts under the direction of Ton Koopman, May 1-4. Tchaikovsky’s beloved Pathétique Symphony No. 6 concludes the concert.

James-Conlon,-credit-Dan-Steinberg-for-LA-Opera-4

James Conlon, one of today’s most versatile and respected conductors, has cultivated a vast symphonic, operatic and choral repertoire. Through worldwide touring, an extensive discography and videography, numerous essays and commentaries, frequent television appearances, and guest speaking engagements, Conlon is one of classical music’s most recognized interpreters. Since his 1974 debut with the New York Philharmonic, he has conducted virtually every major American and European symphony orchestra. Colon made his debut with the San Francisco Symphony in 1978, and has since led them in both vocal and instrumental works; his most recent concert at Davies Symphony Hall was Verdi’s Requiem in 2011. He has been Music Director of Los Angeles Opera since 2006; Music Director of the Ravinia Festival, summer home of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, since 2005; and Music Director of America’s oldest choral festival, the Cincinnati May Festival, since 1979, where he has provided the artistic leadership for more May Festivals than any other music director in the festival’s 140-year history. Conlon’s extensive discography and videography can be found on the EMI, Erato, Capriccio, Decca and Sony Classical labels. He has won two Grammy Awards for Best Classical Album and Best Opera Recording for the LA Opera recording of Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, among many other honors.

 

thibaudet-webfile118441-BIG

Pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet has performed with the San Francisco Symphony almost every season since his debut in 1994. He plays regularly throughout Europe, North America, Australia and the Far East, collaborating with virtually every major orchestra, and with conductors such as Alsop, Ashkenazy, Blomstedt, Chailly, Dutoit, Gergiev and Levine. Equally at home with chamber music, recitals, and the orchestral repertoire, he has appeared and recorded with artists including Cecilia Bartoli, Brigitte Fassbaender, Renée Fleming, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Angelika Kirchschlager, Yuri Bashmet, Joshua Bell, Truls Mørk and the Rossetti String Quartet. He appears in a variety of settings in the 2013-2014 season, with repertoire that runs from the early 19th century to the present day. Thibaudet began the season with orchestral concerts in China, Australia and Europe, and continues with a seven-city tour of the US. Known for his style and elegance on and off the traditional concert stage, Thibaudet has had an impact on the world of fashion, film and philanthropy.

 

Inouye,-Mark-1112-v2

Mark Inouye is Principal Trumpet of the San Francisco Symphony and holder of the William G. Irwin Charity Foundation Chair. Both a classical and jazz musician, he has held principal trumpet positions with the Houston and Charleston Symphonies and has performed with the New York Philharmonic and the Israel Philharmonic. He made his San Francisco Symphony solo debut performing Copland’s Quiet City in 2010. Inouye has performed the Tartini Violin Concerto, arranged for trumpet, with the Houston Symphony and was a soloist with the Tanglewood Wind Ensemble under the direction of Seiji Ozawa. He toured the United States with Toccatas and Flourishes, the nationally acclaimed organ and trumpet duo, and was a member of the Empire Brass Quintet, which toured the United States, Europe, Asia, and Canada. Inouye is also an active composer and has released his debut jazz album, The Trumpet & The Bull.

 

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LGBT group boycotts Beverly Hills Hotel after its owner, the Sultan of Brunei, will institute policy condemning homosexuals to death by stoning

  • Brunei is planning to implement the Sharia Penal Code, which calls for the stoning of people who commit a variety of sexual ‘crimes’
  • Currently, homosexuality is punishable by up to 10 years in prison
  • The United Nations already has warned that Brunei’s new penal code violates international human rights standards
  • The Sultan also owns The Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles, 45 Park Lane in London and Le Meurice in Paris

By DAILY MAIL REPORTER

An LGBT advocacy group has moved the location of a conference it is planning to hold later this year from the Beverly Hills Hotel to a different location in protest of anti-gay policies being adopted by the Sultan of Brunei – the owner of the hotel – that calls for homosexuals to be stoned to death.

The Gill Action Fund, which was founded by activist Tim Gill, was scheduled to host its ‘Winning the Heartland’ conference for political donors at the Hotel from May 1-4.

However, because of the draconian laws regarding ‘sexual crimes’ Brunei is set to adopt later this month, the group has canceled its conference at the Beverly Hills Hotel and is looking for a new location.

Iconic: The Beverly Hills Hotel is owned by the Dorchester Group, which is controlled by the Sultan of Brunei

Iconic: The Beverly Hills Hotel is owned by the Dorchester Group, which is controlled by the Sultan of Brunei
Sharia: Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah plans to implement a Sharia Penal Code, which calls for the stoning of gays

 Sharia: Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah plans to implement a Sharia Penal Code, which calls for the stoning of gays

 

‘In light of the horrific anti-gay policy approved by the Government of Brunei, Gill Action made the decision earlier today to relocate its conference from the Beverly Hills Hotel to another property,’ Gill Action Executive Director Kirk Fordham told washingtonblade.com. ‘We are seeking a return of all deposits.’

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah announced last year that his tiny, oil-rich nation would begin to implement a Shariah Penal Code in his country, which calls for grisly executions of anyone committing a variety of sexual ‘crimes,’ including sodomy, adultery and rape.

‘By the grace of Allah, with the coming into effect of this legislation, our duty to Allah is therefore being fulfilled,’ the sultan said at a legal conference in Brunei’s capital last year.

The law would apply only to Muslims, who comprise about two-thirds of the population of nearly 420,000 people. The others follow mainly Buddhist, Christianity and indigenous beliefs.

Boycott: The Gill Action Fund, started by activist Tim Gill, is taking its business elsewhere

Boycott: The Gill Action Fund, started by activist Tim Gill, is taking its business elsewhere

 

Brunei’s Mufti Awang Abdul Aziz, the country’s top Islamic scholar, said last year that Shariah law ‘guarantees justice for everyone and safeguards their well-being.’

‘Let us not just look at the hand-cutting or the stoning or the caning per se, but let us also look at the conditions governing them,’ Awang said. ‘It is not indiscriminate cutting or stoning or caning. There are conditions and there are methods that are just and fair.’

Under secular laws, Brunei already prescribes caning as a penalty for crimes including immigration offenses, for which convicts can be flogged with a rattan cane.

The United Nations already has criticized Brunei’s adoption of the Sharia Penal Code, claiming it does not meet international human rights standards.

‘Under international law, stoning people to death constitutes torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and is thus clearly prohibited,” UN High Commission on Human Rights spokesman Rupert Colville said last week.

Even before the new penal code was adopted, homosexual acts were punishable by up to 10 years in prison in Brunei.

Dorchester: The hotel is owned by the Dorchester Group, which is controlled by the Sultan and owns other hotels throughout the world

Dorchester: The hotel is owned by the Dorchester Group, which is controlled by the Sultan and owns other hotels throughout the world

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This Week in God, 4.19.14

First up from the God Machine this week is an interesting faith-based dispute involving Hobby Lobby’s corporate owner – but it’s probably not the dispute you’ve already heard about.
 
Hobby Lobby, an arts-and-crafts chain owned by Christian conservative Steve Green, is perhaps best known in political and legal circles for its pending Supreme Court case in which Green’s attorneys believecorporations are people with their own religious beliefs. It’s this corporate spirituality, the argument goes, that entitles Hobby Lobby to deny contraception coverage to its employees.
 
But as Sarah Jones reported this week, this isn’t Green’s only interest in church-state policy.
An Oklahoma school district has approved the use of a Bible curriculum designed by Steve Green, the controversial owner of Hobby Lobby. The Mustang public schools will begin offering the curriculum next academic year.
 
As reported by Religion News Service, Green’s curriculum is designed to correspond with his planned Museum of the Bible, which is currently under construction in Washington, D.C. Jerry Pattengale, who heads the Green Scholars Initiative and is overseeing the curriculum’s development, said the ultimate goal is put the curriculum in “thousands” of schools.
 
Little is known publicly about the details of the curriculum. However, in a 2013 speech he delivered to the National Bible Association, Green explained that it’s divided into three sections: the history of the Bible, the story of the Bible, and the impact of the Bible.
It’s worth emphasizing that public schools are legally permitted to offer classes related to religious history and religious texts, so long as the curricula is secular and objective. A scholarly, historical analysis of scripture is consistent with the First Amendment’s separation of church and state; public-school evangelism is not.
 
What does Hobby Lobby’s Green have in mind for public high-school students? The Green Scholars Initiative insists lesson plans will honor the law and remain religiously neutral, but in Green’s 2013 speech, he specifically told his audience, “The history is to show the reliability of this book…. When you present the evidence, the evidence is overwhelming.”
 
Now that Green’s Bible curriculum has been embraced by an Oklahoma school district, don’t be too surprised if Hobby Lobby’s owner ends up in another major church-state court fight.
 
Also from the God Machine this week:
 
* State lawmakers in Louisiana are moving forward with their plans to make the Christian Bible the official book of the state. Litigation appears likely.
 
* A New Jersey woman tried to get a personalized license plate that reads “8THEIST,” but the state DMV apparently rejected it. She’s taking the matter to federal court.
 
* As if the “war on Christmas” didn’t seem quite foolish enough, Fox News has also been talking up an alleged “war on Easter.”
 
* A fascinating story out of North Carolina: “A new religious statue in the town of Davidson, N.C., is unlike anything you might see in church. The statue depicts Jesus as a vagrant sleeping on a park bench. St. Alban’s Episcopal Church installed the homeless Jesus statue on its property in the middle of an upscale neighborhood filled with well-kept townhomes. Jesus is huddled under a blanket with his face and hands obscured; only the crucifixion wounds on his uncovered feet give him away. The reaction was immediate. Some loved it; some didn’t.”
 
* And at the close of the White House’s Easter Prayer Breakfast this week, President Barack Obama “unexpectedly turned the floor over to Gene Robinson, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop…. Robinson retired as bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire in early 2013. He is now a senior fellow at the liberal think tank the Center for American Progress.”
 
Rachel Maddow, MSNBC
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Mayor Lee & Board President Chiu Launch Ellis Act Housing Preference Program

New Law Gives Displaced Tenants Preference for City’s Affordable Housing

Mayor Edwin M. Lee and Board of Supervisors President David Chiu today launched the Ellis Act Housing Preference Program (EAHP) for tenants who are evicted under the State Ellis Act. Displaced tenants will now be given preference for the City’s affordable housing programs.

“This gives San Francisco’s longtime tenants and working families the much needed and urgent help they need after an Ellis Act eviction,” said Mayor Lee. “While we work on Ellis Act Reform to eliminate speculative evictions in our City, we are also providing some relief to tenants who can now more easily participate in San Francisco’s affordable housing programs, so that we remain a City for the 100 percent.”

“We must do everything we can to help San Franciscans facing Ellis Act evictions,” said Board President Chiu, who began this legislative effort in October 2013. “This safety net measure assists our most vulnerable tenants and reinforces our commitment to building more affordable housing as quickly as possible.”

The Ellis Act Displacement Emergency Assistance Ordinance, which responded to concerns in the rise of Ellis Act Evictions that paralleled rising market-rate housing prices, was unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors and signed into law by Mayor Lee on December 18, 2013.

Landlords subject to the Rent Ordinance must have “just cause” to evict existing tenants. Of several allowable reasons for eviction that are not the tenant’s fault (“No-Fault Evictions”), Owner Move-In and Ellis Act Evictions are historically the most numerous. No-Fault Evictions rose significantly in 2013.

In response, the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development created the EAHP to assist the rising number of tenants displaced due to Ellis Act evictions and for whom a market rate rental unit is unaffordable.

The EAHP gives displaced tenant preference in City affordable housing programs. Tenants who have been or may be displaced by Ellis Act Evictions that took place in 2012 or later may apply for an EAHP certificate from the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development. An EAHP Certificate will give tenants priority consideration to obtain a housing unit in a City-funded or Inclusionary housing development. Applicants must meet program eligibility rules.

For more information on the EAHP and the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, go to sf-moh.org.

 

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Louisiana’s bold stand against sodomy

The culture war’s focus has narrowed quite a bit in recent years. Whereas the political combat over hot-button social issues used to include issues like school prayer, access to pornography, and Ten Commandments displays, the contemporary culture war tends to focus on sexual health (access to abortion and contraception) and gay rights (most notably marriage equality).
But once in a while, anti-sodomy laws return to the fore.
It was, after all, just last summer that Virginia’s Ken Cuccinelli (R), at the time the state Attorney General, fought in support of an anti-sodomy measure that had already been struck down in the courts. This week in Louisiana, meanwhile, state lawmakersprotected an anti-sodomy law that’s already been deemed unconstitutional.
The Louisiana House of Representatives rejected legislation, on Tuesday, that would remove the state’s symbolic ban on certain kinds of sodomy. The bill failed by a wide margin on a vote of 27-67, with 11 members not voting.
Louisiana’s anti-sodomy law was overturned and declared unconstitutional in 2003, with the U.S. Supreme Court ruling such state statutes could not be enforced. Still, the Legislature has been unwilling to officially strike the measure from state law, even though it can’t be used as a cause for arrest.
A House Committee passed the legislation onto the body’s floor by a vote of 9-6 last week. But one of the state’s most powerful lobbying groups, the conservative Christian Louisiana Family Forum, opposes striking the sodomy ban.
And in this case, the Louisiana Family Forum won.
Keep in mind, everyone involved realizes that Louisiana’s anti-sodomy statute cannot legally be enforced. It’s effectively legal window dressing – it’s just sitting there, serving no practical purpose. But rather than removing unenforceable clutter from their books, Louisiana’s state House, with the overwhelming support of its Republican majority, agreed with the Louisiana Family Forum’s assessment that the unconstitutional anti-sodomy statute is “consistent with the values of Louisiana residents who consider this behavior to be dangerous, unhealthy and immoral.”
It’s tempting to think it this is largely a fight over symbolism, but it’s worth noting that last July, the East Baton Rouge Parish sheriff’s office began arresting men for agreeing to have consensual sex with other men. When asked to defend the arrest, the sheriff’s office pointed to the statute that’s “still on the books of the Louisiana criminal code.”
That the statute is dead-letter law didn’t seem to matter.
None of those charged faced prosecution – lawyers couldn’t find any evidence that a crime had been committed – but the incident served as a reminder that it’s generally not a good idea to leave unconstitutional laws in place just for the heck of it.
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Dancers’ Group in association with Yerba Buena Gardens Festival presents a new site-specific work by Sara Shelton Mann

Dancers’ Group in association with Yerba Buena Gardens Festival is pleased to present The Eye of Horus, a series of site-specific solos by Sara Shelton Mann, presented free outdoors at Jessie Square in San Francisco, April 24-May 3.

Acclaimed choreographer and teacher Sara Shelton Mann is “an iconoclast who has performed to great acclaim and inspired others for decades” wrote San Francisco Bay Guardian critic Rita Felciano in a recent article awarding the artist a 2014 Goldie Lifetime Achievement Award. In The Eye or Horus Mann investigates archetypes through her five dancers: Christine Bonansea, Sherwood Chen, Jesse Hewit, Jorge de Hoyos and Sara Yassky.

Conceived as both a very intimate work and a large-scale spectacle, each solo incorporates DIY sound, media and light elements constructed by Production Designer David Szlasa to interact with the dancer, cityscape and audience.

Mann took her inspiration from Sacred Contracts, a book on archetypes by bestselling author Caroline Myss in creating this new series of solos. Of the work Mann said, “I’m interested in creating solos from the performers’ specific areas of interest and skill that will rub up against the social and political landscape of San Francisco. My goal is to have many archetypes and their aspects in a performance dialogue. Within each of the solos there is one of us. Imagine seeing many parts of our own internal lives as if looking into a mirror.”

“Dancers’ Group is thrilled to be supporting the work of a dance artist who has had such a deep impact on the Bay Area dance scene,” said Dancers’ Group Executive Director Wayne Hazzard. “The Eye of Horus provides us with an opportunity to bring together many generations of dance audiences and expose younger ones to Sara’s work and legacy.”

Located at 3rd and Mission Streets in front of the Contemporary Jewish Museum, Jessie Square is a highly visible public site, attracting both local business-people and tourists visiting the museum and the adjacent Yerba Buena Center for the Arts as well as shops and businesses. “Jessie Square makes for the perfect space where to present The Eye of Horus,” said Mann. “Its rich history, as a state at bay, as a landing pad that used to be a substation, as a place where buildings jut out and careen upward next to one another. If energy never dies, then that energy is still underground rising up through the stones of the once called historical lane. Somehow Jessie Square seems to hold at bay the past as well as the future.”

The Eye of Horus is presented as part of Dancers’ Group’s ONSITE Series. Through the ONSITE series, Dancers’ Group presents large-scale public projects that allow the organization to engage new audiences and to increase the visibility of local dance and dance artists. Previous ONSITE projects have included The Shifting Cornerstone by Joanna Haigood and Zaccho Dance Theater in August 2008; Spirit of Place at Stern Grove, by Anna Halprin in May 2009; Hit & Run Hula by Patrick Makuākane and company, Nā Lei Hulu I Ka Wēkiu in August 2009; Love Everywhere by the Erika Chong Shuch Performance Project in February 2010; Intimate Visibility by LEVYdance in March 2010; We Don’t Belong Here by Katie Faulkner in 2011; Niagara Falling by Jo Kreiter in 2012; and He Moved Swiftly But Gently Down the Not Too Crowded Street: Ed Mock and Other True Tales in a City That Once Was… by Amara Tabor-Smith in June 2013.

Sara Shelton Mann is an educator, choreographer and writer who has created an interdisciplinary training and performance style dedicated to the enlightenment of the individual and the integrity of one’s relationship with the social and natural world. Early in her career, she danced in the companies of Alwin Nikolais and Murray Louis, before serving as artistic director of the Halifax Dance Co-Op in Nova Scotia. In 1979 in San Francisco, she formed Contraband, a group of collaborative artists dedicated to the evolution of an interdisciplinary dance vision. Over the next decade, Contraband staged 7 full-evening productions at abandoned building sites, warehouses and public housing projects destroyed by arson fire, and Mann established a complex interdisciplinary performance style and movement vocabulary that significantly influenced the evolution of contemporary dance in the Bay Area.

From 1996 to 1999, Mann collaborated and toured internationally with Guillermo Gomez-Peña, and since 2000, she has created 11 major works in collaboration with John O’Keefe, Austin Forbord, David Szlasa, Rinde Eckert and others. Mann is a Master NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) Practitioner, a certified Reconnection Healer(TM), a Dowser, and has years of study in various spiritual traditions, shamanic practices and healing trainings.

Mann has received 6 San Francisco Bay Area Isadora Duncan Awards, a 2000 Guggenheim Fellowship in Choreography, two CHIME mentorship awards and an award from the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation. Her work has been funded by the NEA, California Arts Council, American Dance Touring Initiative (Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Fund), and Dance/USA, among many others. She has held residencies at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts as a Wattis Artist; Granada Artist at UC Davis; Potsdam International Festivalof Dance & Theater, Germany; Archstoyanie Festival, Russia; and the Djerassi Artist in Residence Program. She has created work extensively and toured nationally and internationally since 1985.

Dancers’ Group promotes the visibility and viability of dance and serves San Francisco Bay Area artists, the dance community and audiences through programs and services that are as collaborative and innovative as the creative process. As the primary dance service organization in the Bay Area, we support the second largest dance community in the nation by providing many programs and resources that help artists produce work, build audiences, and connect with their peers and community.

Recognized as a national model in the field of dance, Dancers’ Group has roots that are broad and deep within the Bay Area dance community. Begun in 1982 as a small collective of dance choreographers in need of studio space, Dancers’ Group has always been, first and foremost, an artist-centric organization closely connected to its constituents, with programs, services and advocacy work developed to address both the specific and broad needs of those involved in dance. Through a network of partnerships that have given it access to artists working across the broad spectrum of styles, forms, cultures and practices in the Bay Area, Dancers’ Group has built programs and services designed to fulfill the wide-ranging needs of the region’s diverse dance community. In 1983, it began to develop a menu of presenting programs, which now serve as a central part of its operations and reach an audience of more than 30,000 per year.

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The Bundy crisis in Nevada: Don’t like a law? Get a gun.

It’s not uncommon for conservative media to put a very different spin on current events than major news organizations. For example, news consumers who surround themselves with nothing but conservative media might believe right now that the Affordable Care Act is in a death spiral, the IRS “scandal” is heating up; the nation is facing a debt crisis; the Benghazi conspiracy will soon rock the White House; etc.
But once in a while, conservative media doesn’t just put a unique spin on the news, it also identifies stories that exist largely below the radar. Over the last week, for example, far-right news consumers have been captivated with coverage of Cliven Bundy, while for much of the American mainstream, that name probably doesn’t even sound familiar.
If you don’t know the story, it’s time to get up to speed.
U.S. officials ended a stand-off with hundreds of armed protesters in the Nevada desert on Saturday, calling off the government’s roundup of cattle it said were illegally grazing on federal land and giving about 300 animals back to the rancher who owned them.
The dispute less than 80 miles northeast of Las Vegas between rancher Cliven Bundy and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management had simmered for days. Bundy had stopped paying fees for grazing his cattle on the government land and officials said he had ignored court orders.
Anti-government groups, right-wing politicians and gun-rights activists camped around Bundy’s ranch to support him.
By any fair definition, this was an intense standoff with a very real possibility of significant casualties.
But to understand how and why the crisis unfolded as it did over the weekend, we have to start with how it started in the first place.
Ian Millhiser did  a nice job summarizing the backstory.
This conflict arises out of rancher Cliven Bundy’s many years of illegally grazing his cattle on federal lands. In 1998, a federal court ordered Bundy to cease grazing his livestock on an area of federal land known as the Bunkerville Allotment, and required him to pay the federal government $200 per day per head of cattle remaining on federal lands. Around the time it issued this order, the court also commented that “[t]he government has shown commendable restraint in allowing this trespass to continue for so long without impounding Bundy’s livestock.” Fifteen years later, Bundy continued to defy this court order.
Last October, the federal government returned to court and obtained a new order, providing that “Bundy shall remove his livestock from the former Bunkerville Allotment within 45 days of the date hereof, and that the United States is entitled to seize and remove to impound any of Bundy’s cattle that remain in trespass after 45 days of the date hereof.” A third federal court order issued the same year explains that Bundy did not simply refuse to stop trespassing on federal lands – he actually expanded the range of his trespassing. According to the third order, “Bundy’s cattle have moved beyond the boundaries of the Bunkerville Allotment and are now trespassing on a broad swath of additional federal land (the “New Trespass Lands”), including public lands within the Gold Butte area that are administered by the BLM, and National Park System land within the Overton Arm and Gold Butte areas of the Lake Mead National Recreation Area.” The third order also authorizes the federal government to “impound any of Bundy’s cattle that remain in trespass.”
So, on the one hand we have Bundy, who’s said, “I don’t recognize [the] United States government as even existing.” It led him to repeatedly ignore federal law, repeatedly blow federal court rulings, and refuse to pay federal fines for his transgressions. On the other hand we have the United States government – which does, in fact, exist – showing considerable restraint in trying to resolve the problem.
All of this started to come to a head last week, with federal officials going to the area late last week to enforce the law and seize the cattle Bundy has been illegally grazing. Except this proved to be problematic – Bundy’s heavily-armed allies, egged on by conservative media, showed up from a variety of Western states to confront U.S. officials.
Facing the very real possibility that the anti-government forces might open fire, U.S. officials backed off in the interest of maintaining public safety.
“Based on information about conditions on the ground and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision to conclude the cattle gather because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public,” U.S. Bureau of Land Management Director Neil Kornze, said in a statement.
Bundy’s cattle, which had been rounded up, were released. The Bundy supporters and assorted militia members were pleased, the crowds dispersed, and no one was shot.
But you probably see the problem: it’s unsustainable to think a group of well-armed extremists can simply block the enforcement of American laws in the United States. It’s perfectly understandable that the Bureau of Land Management saw a crisis unfolding and pulled back to prevent bloodshed, but there’s an obvious problem with establishing a radical precedent: you, too, can ignore the law and disregard court rulings you don’t like, just so long as you have well-armed friends pointing guns at Americans.
To put it mildly, that’s not how the American system works. Indeed, that’s not how any system of government can ever work.
Tensions eased over the weekend, but it seems likely that this story isn’t over yet.
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Judge: Ohio must recognize out-of-state gay marriages

Proponents of marriage equality have been on quite a winning streak in the courts, targeting anti-gay laws in states across the country. That streak continued this morning in Ohio.
U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black has formally ruled that Ohio must recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states, but he put a hold on his order for the time being.
“Ohio’s marriage recognition is facially unconstitutional and unenforceable under any circumstances,” Black said in an order he announced verbally 10 days ago.
“It is this court’s responsibility to give meaning and effect to the guarantees and of the U.S. Constitution and all American citizens and that responsibility is never more pressing than when the fundamental rights of some minority citizens are impacted by the legislative power of the majority.”
To be sure, the judge in this case had already made clear that this ruling was coming, but for civil-rights advocates, that doesn’t detract from the satisfaction that comes with another victory.
Indeed, note that Black was fairly aggressive in smacking down Ohio’s argument, concluding that the record “is staggeringly devoid of any legitimate justification for the State’s ongoing arbitrary discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”
The case did not address whether or not same-sex couples can be married in Ohio, only whether same-sex marriages performed in other states should be legally recognized in the Buckeye State.
As for the current state of the law in Ohio, in light of the ruling, Chris Geidner reported, “The ruling is stayed, or put on hold, with Black inclined to issue a stay pending appeal as to the full recognition ruling. Black wrote, though, that he is inclined not to issue a stay ‘as to the as-applied claims of the four couples who are Plaintiffs because they have demonstrated that a stay will harm them individually due to the imminent births of their children and other time-sensitive concerns,’ but he announced in his ruling that he will be taking views from both the couples and the state on the question over the next day before deciding whether to issue a stay as to the four couples.”
For those keeping score, the Ohio ruling this morning comes on the heels of related victories in Michigan,VirginiaKentuckyOklahomaUtah and Texas, just from the last few months.
Steve Benin, MSNBC
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