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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Save Taxpayer Money: Defund Non-Peer Reviewed "Complimentary and Alternative Medicine" Studies

Let the studies go through the regular process at the NIH. Go to the Obama change site and vote this idea up here.

Hat Tip: Orac.

Keith Ellison's Office Withholds Comment on Teen Challenge Earmark

Last week, I went over to Keith Ellison's office to try to get answers about whether or not he co-sponsored an earmark for Minnesota Teen Challenge with Senator Amy Klobuchar. Senator Klobuchar claims that Rep. Ellison co-sponsored this.

His office staff told me they would get back to me, and asked me to email them. I emailed them. They have never returned my email.

They also never responded to similar questions from friends of mine.

Keith Ellison will be having a listening session on January 29. I believe it's a good chance to ask him about Teen Challenge.

Join Keith for a Listening Session in Fridley
Thursday, January 29 - 6:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.

SD 51 Listening Session
Fridley Community Center, Room 114
6085 7th St NE
Fridley, MN 55432

Congress and President-Elect Obama are about to undertake the difficult work of getting America back on track. Join Keith for a conversation about how Congress and the soon-to-be President can work together to achieve the change we voted for in November.

To RSVP or with questions, please contact David at 612-522-4416 or

Nifty Little Tool

Sunrise/Sunset calculator.

Speaking of nifty little tools, I'll be taking a class in Geographic Information Systems tomorrow. I'm very much looking forward to it.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Commenter Reacts

Holly Cairns:

Holly Cairns said...
Okay, yep, it's that all or nothing thought that will slow down the gay movement. Good luck on that.

I think: Use the courts, allow Americans to become more familiar with certain thought and action-- set the frame-- (and then they will become more accepting), and ask for civil unions instead of using the golden word "marriage."

Asking a legislator to support something only a smaller percentage of the pop agrees with goes against 'majority rule' concept and will get you more Minnesota Republicans (IMO).

I'm not one who has as a goal getting more Democrats, and also don't think democrats pass gay friendly legislation when they are in power. President Clinton gave us DADT and DOMA. Gay individuals and gay groups have to hold politicians accountable, and only give money and time to those politicians who are supportive.

Margaret Anderson Kelliher, house speaker, quashed a very minimal goal - comprehensive sex ed - because she didn't want to force the governor to veto an education bill over this issue. She allowed the Minnesota Family Council to bully her. Kelliher has continually taken the position of doing the least for the gay community possible.

My question is where is the ROI (return on investment) for gays with democratic politicians?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Rick Garcia of Equality Illinois: Obama Pro-Gay Equality - Rahm Emmanuel, David Axelrod believe anti-gay actions are politically smart

Richard Rosendall has an interesting article in the Independent Gay Forum. He quotes Rick Garcia of Equality Illinois:

Rahm Emmanuel and David Axelrod still believe that being pro-gay is politically bad and anti-gay plays to the middle. These boys should give us pause and we have to keep an eye on them.

This isn't surprising. Emmanuel was a jerk to gays when he was in the Clinton White House also. Rosendall adds:

Here I diverge from Rep. Barney Frank, who said of Obama, “I believe that he overestimates his ability to get people to put aside fundamental differences.” Someone who overcame character assassination to win a landmark election can hardly be na├»ve enough to think he can take people on the right and “charm them into being nice,” as Frank puts it. Look at it another way: Warren will be blessing the presidency of a pro-choice, pro-gay liberal. Indeed, he has taken heat from fellow evangelicals for precisely that reason. It’s not so clear who is being played here.

Obama brings the prospect of nominating more moderate federal judges, repairing America’s standing in the world, reversing the assaults on the Constitution, reforming health care policy, and responding to critics without saying “So what?” or imputing disloyalty. Let’s also keep in mind that even a gay-friendly president cannot change things by himself. Each of us has a role to play, which should include encouraging the difficult conversations that we need instead of shutting them down.

Reality-based activism is about people with all their flaws and gifts, not saints and villains. There is nothing smart or empowering in rejecting a proven ally, or refusing to celebrate with him, because he is imperfect. Obama is a world-class talent, vastly better suited to the presidency than the smug, smirking scion of squandered privilege he replaces. Of course we must be vigilant and keep up the pressure, but that is done more effectively from the governing center than from an outpost of victimhood.

There will be plenty of battles ahead, as change does not come easily or all at once. Right now a political era is beginning, and with it will come new challenges and opportunities. This is a poor time to let one ceremonial sour note provoke us into sitting out the dance.

Points well taken.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Rick Warren's AIDS Work

Max Blumenthal exposes the myths and realities.

But since the Warren inauguration controversy erupted, the nature of his work against AIDS in Africa has gone unexamined. Warren has not been particularly forthcoming to those who have attempted to look into it. His Web site contains scant information about the results of his program. However, an investigation into Warren's involvement in Africa reveals a web of alliances with right-wing clergymen who have sidelined science-based approaches to combating AIDS in favor of abstinence-only education. More disturbingly, Warren's allies have rolled back key elements of one of the continent's most successful initiative, the so-called ABC program in Uganda. Stephen Lewis, the United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, told the New York Times their activism is "resulting in great damage and undoubtedly will cause significant numbers of infections which should never have occurred."

Warren's man in Uganda is a charismatic pastor named Martin Ssempa. The head of the Makerere Community Church, a rapidly growing congregation, Ssempa enjoys close ties to his country's first lady, Janet Museveni, and is a favorite of the Bush White House. In the capitol of Kampala, Ssempa is known for his boisterous crusading. Ssempa's stunts have included burning condoms in the name of Jesus and arranging the publication of names of homosexuals in cooperative local newspapers while lobbying for criminal penalties to imprison them.

Dr. Helen Epstein, a public health consultant who wrote the book, The Invisible Cure: Why We're Losing the Fight Against AIDS in Africa, met Ssempa in 2005. Epstein told me the preacher seemed gripped by paranoia, warning her of a secret witches coven that met under Lake Victoria.

"Ssempa also spoke to me for a very long time about his fear of homosexual men and women," Epstein said. "He seemed very personally terrified by their presence."

When Warren unveiled his global AIDS initiative at a 2005 conference at his Saddleback Church, he cast Ssempa as his indispensable sidekick, assigning him to lead a breakout session on abstinence-only education as well as a seminar on AIDS prevention. Later, Ssempa delivered a keynote address, a speech so stirring it "had the audience on the edge of its seats," according to Warren's public relations agency. A year later, Ssempa returned to Saddleback Church to lead another seminar on AIDS. By this time, his bond with the Warrens had grown almost familial. "You are my brother, Martin, and I love you," Rick Warren's wife, Kay, said to Ssempa from the stage. Her voice trembled with emotion as she spoke, and tears ran down her cheeks.

Joining Ssempa at Warren's church were two key Bush administration officials who controlled the purse strings of the president's newly minted $15 billion anti-AIDS initiative in Africa, PEPFAR. Museveni also appeared through a videotaped address to tout the success of her country's numerous church-based abstinence programs.

Barack Obama should answer some questions about this. Does he agree with this method of fighting AIDS in Africa?