Saturday, December 31, 2005

Friday, December 30, 2005

Two Students Expelled from Christian School for "Acting like Lesbians"

The case described below is an unprecedented one as it tests whether California state civil rights law (The Unruh Act) can be applied to private business entities as it was intended, in this case, a private school. The fact the principal of this Christian school expelled the students based on information he gained from invading their privacy is another issue for the courts. The principals' behavior, in my opinion, was outrageious, reckless, and homophobic in the extreme. The damage he may have done to these girls' psyches cannot be overstressed not becase there is anything wrong with being or not being Lesbian but the intimidating way these young women were treated by this idiotic narrow minded man and might I also say the very "UnChristian" way this man asserted his authority.

Sharon Raphael

Lawsuit Filed Against Private Lutheran School over Lesbian Expulsions
Friday, Dec. 23, 2005 Posted: 12:56:04AM EST

A private Lutheran high school is being sued by two students who say they were unfairly discriminated against when their principal expelled them for allegedly being lesbians

According to the lawsuit, the situation unfolded in the beginning of the school year when faculty suspected that the two students may be homosexual. On Sept. 7, the sudents were called into a meeting with the principal, the Rev. Greg Bork, who allegedly “interrogated” the students in a closed room and “coerced” one of the sudents to admit that she “‘loves’ the other,” the lawsuit stated.

By Sept. 15, Bork wrote to the students’ parents that “while there is no open physical contact between the two girls, there is still a bond of intimacy ... characteristic of a lesbian [relationship]. ... Such a relationship is unchristian. To allow the girls to attend [Cal Lutheran] ... would send a message to students and parents that we either condone this situation and/or will not do anything about it. That message would not reflect our beliefs and principles."

The lawsuit further states that the parents’ attempts to reverse the decision to expel their daughters were denied in October by the school’s board of directors.

According to a spokesman for state Attorney General Bill Lockyer, the lawsuit is groundbreaking in its potential implications.

"This is an unsettled area of the law," said Nathan Barankin, communications director for the attorney general. "The public policy issues are religious freedom versus the right not to be discriminated against."

Christopher Hayes, the students’ attorney, said he believed the law is on his clients’ side.

"We believe that California law is clear. The California Unruh Civil Rights Act ... prohibits businesses from discriminating against people for various reasons,” Hayes said to The Californian on Tuesday.

Hayes said he believes that law applies to private schools because “it is a fee-taking school.”

“This is not a church,” he added. “They accept non-Christians and … they accept Jews, who as a fundamental doctrine of their religion do not accept Jesus Christ. What can be more antithetical to Christianity than Judaism? California law says you cannot pick and choose who you discriminate against."

However, Tom Scott, vice president of operations for the Association of Christian Schools International, which represents some 4,000 religious schools nationwide, said such business standards do not apply to private, religious schools. Cal Lutheran is not associated with the ACSI.

“Private schools don't operate under public schools' standards," Scott said, adding that private, religious schools have the right to decide who attends.

In the case of Cal Lutheran, Scott said it is similar to public schools expelling students for drug use or violence. Both public and private schools have the right to expel a student if they have a cause to believe they are engaging in a destructive lifestyle, he said, according to The Californian.

The case was presented to the Riverside Superior Court last Thursday.

Elaine Spencer

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


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Monday, December 19, 2005

A First for Northern Ireland: Same Sex Unions

Shannon Sickles and Grainne Close say they are privileged

"The first set of civil partnership ceremonies for gay couples in the UK have been held in Northern Ireland.
Two women, Shannon Sickles and Grainne Close, exchanged vows at Belfast City Hall, followed by a gay couple and another lesbian couple. The new Civil Partnership Act provides same-sex couples with similar legal rights to married couples.
Similar ceremonies will be taking place in throughout Great Britian soon."

When one reviews the list of countries that recognize same sex civil unions provided below by Wikipedia, it makes one wonder why the USA is so backward on this issue. Five countries, Belgium, Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa, and Spain allow gay marriages. The state of Massachusetts in the United States also recognizes same-sex unions (although these marriages have no legal recognition at the federal level in the US). (information from Wikepedia)

Recognised nationwide in:
Denmark (1989)
Norway (1993)
Israel3 (1994)
Sweden (1995)
Greenland (1996)
Hungary (1996)
Iceland (1996)
Netherlands1 (1998)
France (1999)
South Africa (1999)
Belgium1 (2000)
Canada1 (QC and NS)2 (2000)
Germany (2001)
Portugal (2001)
Finland (2002)
Croatia (2003)
Luxembourg (2004)
New Zealand (2005)
United Kingdom (2005)
Andorra (2005)
Slovenia (2006)
(Approved 2005; Expected implemented 2007)
Recognised in some regions in:
Argentina (Buenos Aires, Rio Negro) (2003)
Australia (Tasmania) (2004)
Spain (11 autonomous communities)1 (1998)
Italy (8 regions) (2004)
Brazil (Rio Grande de Sul) (2004)
United States: CU: VT (2000) , CT (2005), OR (2005); DP: HI (1997), CA (1999), DC (2002), ME (2004), NJ (2004)
Other countries:
Czech Republic

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Legal Action against Undocumented Students in CSU's

"A group of out-of-state college students filed a class-action lawsuit Wednesday challenging a law that lets some illegal immigrants who graduate from California high schools pay lower in-state fees at the state's public colleges and universities. The 2002 law allows students who attend at least three years of high school in California to qualify for the same in-state fee break given California citizens, regardless of their immigration status." Associated Press

Many of the students who would be affected by this lawsuit if it were won have been residents in the US since they were very young children or infants. They have graduated from high school in the USA and would not be able in most cases to pay at the level of out of state student fees if the challenge described above is won by the out of state students. I don't see how it helps the out of state students to take money away from in-state undocumented students. Once again it is a case of hurting those most in need rather than taking a positive action and trying to get fees lowered without hurting a small but special group. Almost a million students enroll each year in the CSU's and less than two thousand are undocumented seeking discounted fee waivers which put them in same category as citizens who were born here or can prove residency and citizenship.

If it is necessary to reduce out of state students rates, that is fine, but please do not get reductions off the backs of those who will help this state the most by not ending up on the welfare or dependency rolls. These undocumented students will have good careers ahead of them and more productive lives as a result of meeting student requirements and being allowed to attend a CSU in the State where they reside.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Opinion on Iraq War: Late Stages

It has become increasingly clear that the main justification by the Bush administration for going to war with Iraq was to bring the war against terrorism whatever that really is to the Middle East, to Iraq, rather than to fight terrorism within our own borders. Oil mattered but not as much as the Neo-Con dream of the USA running the world but calling it democracy or democratic reform. It didn't matter that the country chosen to pursue these Machiavelllian ends was not one of the countries in the Middle East from which terrorism was emanating. It also did not matter that innocent civilians In Iraq would in large part be the victims of this military venture and that the country would be brought to the brink of civil war, although some think there is already a civil war happening between the Sunnis and the Shiites.

One question that could be raised is Did the ends justify the mean ?, (Gee I like mean better than means, in this case) , in other words, did going to war with Iraq make terrorism go away from US shores? At the same time, the administration states we are achieving our goals in Iraq, the administration warns us constantly that we are just around the corner from a major attack on the USA. Can they have it both ways or have all the Bush foreign policy goals re Iraq ended up in disarray? Yes, I know there is all that talk about bringing democracy to Iraq and both Democrats and Republicans for the War do point to the elections and drawing up of a constitution that happened last month (nov 05) as an important step in this direction. It seems there has been a trade off of a dictatorship of Saddam Hussein that has been abolished instead for a fake type of democracy with unceasing violence and death and the use of a country for another country's ends and means which are to pacify a citizenry far away made afraid and whipped up by fear using 9/11 as the catalyst for starting the war, keeping it going, and now justifying its continuation.

Where will it all end? The country is waking up from its long sleep on this question. The troops will be pulled out but many will still stay in the region watching the action from nearby borders I would guess. In the end, everything the pundits against the War predicted will have come true: Further destabilization of the Middle East, a post Viet Nam kind of depression will set in; and, Afghanistan will still not have gotten rid of the Taliban and Al Quaeda which is what I thought this fight was all about in the first place.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005


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What is the Future of Old Age?

There are two portraits that emerge about the future of old age in post industrial information age driven countries. One is an optimistic view that depicts the average middle class or professional person being healthy, content, independent, productive and living to a very old old age. The other picture is one of the have nots among the elderly who live with a variety of chronic illnesses that may go untreated as the health care system bankrupts itself as well as the country. This group of oldsters worry about how to pay the bills and many end up in nursing homes or their equivalent. Both depictions may turn out to be reality.

Many of the positive depictions revolve around the baby boomer generation which is expected to be more innovative and demanding about quality of life issues in later life as compared to their parents’ generation, many of whom seemed surprised, and satisfied that they lived as long as they did into their eighties and nineties with their economic nest eggs mostly intact. Most seemed realistic about both the benefits and deficits that attended old age. If there is one thing about the baby boomer generation that no one is predicting, it is that many will have a more difficult time accepting problems that might attend old age. Perhaps, it will be “the rising tide of expectation syndrome” that has already set in which is an attitude that says “I will outlive my parent’s generation and when I do I will outdo them in living to the very end with energy and verve”. (hypothetical quote)

This PollyAnnish expectation is a set up for failure, although there is no doubt that some will succeed in finding a way of life that suits them as well as also achieving a very old old age. It may end up being a different old age then any of these baby boomers ever predicted as most find the future when it comes a new and different reality than was ever expected. Who could ever have predicted for instance that someone born around the turn of the century would live to see telephones, television, a man on the moon, even the computer. More remarkably, who would have predicted Hippies, The Flower Children, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Cesar Chavez, The Rebirth of Feminism, Gay Liberation, The Transgendered Movement, Disabled Rights Movement and Gray Panthers.

Many predictions automatically assume that new medical breakthroughs, healthier life styles, and more demands for specialties that will meet the needs of the very old will ensure an increasingly older and healthier old age for each successive generation. The fact that the planet earth is being assaulted on a daily basis by the worst possible kind of pollutants in the air, water and the ground, that between high health care costs, inattention to poverty and famine around the world, the continuing tendency to foment horrible wars using weapons of mass destruction causing instability across the globe, concerns about pandemics, and other unforeseen consequences of the economic insensitivities of globalization in this postmodern world makes these kind of rosy scenarios of old age seem like some kind of idiotic lunacy.

It may be true that a smaller and smaller group of affluent persons who are still alive in the year 2035 -2050 may live to very advanced old ages (100-125 years of age or older). Many scientists are no longer speculating that humans, individual humans, cannot ever achieve an old age that goes beyond the approximate 120 year limit. Scientists are breaking the age barriers in their thinking about old age. Why not 150, why not 200? Who knows, it is theoretically possible, although no one states it quite this way. The Fountain of Youth is possible but will we want it and at what cost?

If the present keeps going the way it is now, the future is likely to hold both scenarios. Many continuing to die too young, never seeing even a middle age yet alone an old old old age. Middle age may begin at 60 and end at 100 for the elite who have all the benefits of futuristic medical stunts and endeavors but it is hard to imagine how this group of elites will manage to survive all the problems of living in an increasingly fragmented and war weary world. There are only so many walls that can be constructed around “The Leisure Worlds” and “Sun Cities” of the future.

Note: For demographic age pyramid prediction see

Sharon Raphael

posted by sharon raphael @ 11:38 PM   0 comments  

Monday, December 05, 2005

What a Shame! Cartoon by Mike Lane.

Tens of thousands of people gather at the Hong Kong Victoria Park before a huge march Sunday, Dec. 4, 2005 to pressure the government to speed up political reforms that would allow voters to pick the city's leader and entire legislature. (AP Photo)

Friday, December 02, 2005

Charlene Nguon, a 17-year-old honor student, is in the photo on the left. See article below.

Lesbian can sue school

The federal judicial decision described below is an excellent one that advances the rights of underage students and Gay people in general. Young LGBT persons often "come out" with their peers before telling their parents. These students have a right to have their privacy protected. Kudos to the ACLU and Christine Sun who took the case. It is my understanding that Charlene Nguon's mother supported her in this case in order to allow her daughter to sue the school not only for invading her privacy but also because Nguon was forced to transfer to another school to keep her away from her girlfriend and from "embarrassing" the school. What a crock, I mean that kind of cockeyed way the school dealt with the student. The whole situation developed when school officials observed Nguon and another girl kissing on campus.

Sharon Raphael

Judge Rules Lesbian Student Can Sue School

Charlene Nguon, 17, may go forward with her suit claiming violation of privacy rights, U.S. District Judge James V. Selna ruled in a decision dated Nov. 28 and announced Thursday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

The Garden Grove Unified School District had sought dismissal of a portion of the suit, arguing that Nguon openly kissed and hugged her girlfriend on campus and thus had no expectation of privacy.

However, Selna ruled that Nguon had "sufficiently alleged a legally protected privacy interest in information about her sexual orientation."

No trial date was set.

"This is the first court ruling we're aware of where a judge has recognized that a student has a right not to have her sexual orientation disclosed to her parents, even if she is out of the closet at school," said Christine Sun, an ACLU attorney who brought the case on behalf of Nguon and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network.

"Coming out is a very serious decision that should not be taken away from anyone, and disclosure can cause a lot of harm to students who live in an unsupportive home," Sun said.

Nguon sued after Santiago High School Principal Ben Wolf told her mother about her sexuality last year.

"It's a really good thing for the case and for other students," Nguon said of the ruling.

"Our family is really happy that the judge agreed Charlene can continue to stand up for her rights," her mother, Crystal Chhun, said in a written statement. "The person to decide when and how to talk with our family about this should have been my daughter, not her principal."

District officials have declined to comment on the suit.

The suit also claims discrimination, contending that Nguon was suspended several times because she ignored orders by Wolf to stop hugging and kissing her girlfriend.

Heterosexual couples engaging in similar behavior weren't disciplined, the suit contends.The suit seeks unspecified damages, an admission that the district violated Nguon's civil rights and a policy change preventing officials from revealing a student's sexual orientation.

12/02/05 14:14 EST Associated Press Report

Sunday, November 27, 2005


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Dawn Prince Hughes, Ph.D. author of Songs of Gorilla Nation

lowland gorilla

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Songs of the Gorilla Nation

I just finished reading a book by Dawn Prince-Hughes, Ph.D., titled Songs of the Gorilla Nation which is about the author's journey to healing and wholeness through her interaction with gorillas she meets and later works with in the Seattle Zoo. The author who is diagnosed at age 36 with the condition know as Asperger's Syndrome, a form of autism, has a powerful way of communicating with the reader who these gorillas really are-seemingly humans with souls. Somehow through her association with these gorillas especially the dominant male gorilla at the zoo named Congo who instinctively and with great success takes care of not only the other gorillas in his family but also gives emotional sustenance to his human caregiver who at times is emotionally overwhelmed by her situation in life.

No one will ever look at gorillas the same way after she or he reads this book. The poetry that is interwoven throughout the memoir adds intensity and clarity to the story that the author weaves about her life and the direction in which she is going. I was very moved and uplifted by the courage, honesty, and great homage this book is not only to these gentle and wonderful gorilla humans but to all living beings especially those in bondage or in danger of extinction which includes all of us that live and breathe. There is a Lesbian aspect to gorilla nation that will surprise and delight a Gay readership. I will not spoil the story by spelling out the details.

Sharon Raphael

Friday, November 25, 2005

The Vatican Scapegoats Gay Men

The Vatican will be issuing a document (Nov., 2005) that will state "the Church, while deeply respecting the people in question, cannot admit to the seminary and the sacred orders those who practice homosexuality, present deeply rooted homosexual tendencies or support so-called gay culture."

"Those people find themselves, in fact, in a situation that presents a grave obstacle to a correct relationship with men and women. One cannot ignore the negative consequences that can stem from the ordination of people with deeply rooted homosexual tendencies,”...

quotes cited:

This narrow minded policy is a continuation of Catholic church doctrine on “homosexuality” which runs against popular scientific opinion and reinforces the Catholic Church’s negative view and practices concerning Gay people in general. The new document is part of the the Vatican's answer to the Church’s involvement in the monumental number of child abuse cases that has received center stage in the media the last several years. The Church is trying to redirect attention away from the child abuse cases and focus its attention on its useful scapegoat “homosexual men” who plan to apply to be in the clergy or are already members of the clergy as some kind of warning for them not to ever “come out of the closet”.

The Church seems to be confusing pedophilia with Gayness as though both were one and the same thing which it is not. Most pedophiles (persons who have sex and prefer sex with under age children, usually pre-teens) do not care what sex their victim is and if the victim of the abuse is of the same sex it is still an issue of pedophilia not gayness. It is also my understanding that most of the cases that were or are being investigated that were perpetrated by priests were against young girls but of course, the cases involving boys were more readily covered in the press, as they were more sensational and juicier stories to sell to an unwitting public.

The immorality involved in picking on a group that is already stereotyped and vulnerable to misinterpretation by the public is monstrous. There is obviously not even a piece of moral filber left intact at the higher levels of the Church and for those involved in pulling off this cheap act of diversion at the expense of persons, the vast majority of whom, would have been and probably continue to be, although I do not understand why, loyal followers of the Catholic tradition and rituals.

Instead of scapegoating “ good people” the Vatican should have just said, if applicants for the priesthood cannot follow the precepts of celibacy, leave the priesthood or do not join in the first place. Sexual orientation should not have been made an issue. The Church will only be further weakened by its continuing hypocrisy on the topic of Gays in the priesthood.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Oldest Turtle on Earth Turns 175 !

"Harriet the Giant Galapagos Land Turtle celebrated her 175th birthday yesterday at an Australia Zoo. Harriet was collected by Charles Darwin in the year 1835, and is recorded as the worlds oldest living animal.Wouldn't it be great to see her live, and maybe ride on her back !?"

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Bob Barr re Chavez's Citgo Heating Oil Deal, "Nobody Dies".


Interview of Bob Barr and Larry Chretian by Kyra Phillipps of CNN re Citgo home Heating Oil Deal (Nov. 23, 05)

I heard Bob Barr, an attorney and a former Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from Georgia debating with Larry Chretian representing the interests of people in Massachussetts who will soon benefit from a deal Democratic congresssmen made to provide low cost heating oil which will be purchased from Venezuela's Citgo gas company, a deal worked out under the auspices of President Chavez of Venzuela. The deal which will help low income people was criticized by Barr as wrong as he says it is an attempt to embarass the Bush administration. The other guest on the show, LARRY CHRETIEN, from MASSENERGY CONSUMERS ALLIANCE, was asked by anchor Kyra Phillipps if the mainstream oil companies like Exxon Mobil had been asked to help out by supplying cheaper oil to low income people and the speaker said they had been asked year after year and responded in the negative. Then Barr added that "Nobody Dies" from not having this problem solved. It sounded very much like France's Antoinette saying "let them eat cake",, perhaps, worse. I was appalled but not surprised at Barr's remark. He also mentioned that these oil companies should be allowed to make as much money as they can get and obviously at the expense of all of us.

We have known for a long time in whose pocket Barr resides. Barr is just representative of most Republican thinking. When it comes to having to hurt somebody, protect the rich and let the poor and lower income people hang in the wind, even die if it comes to that. He may say that no one has died from being too cold or think that public utilities gives people a fair shake when they can't afford to pay for their heat but anyone with any brains know this cannot be true. Public health officials have reported thousands of deaths that are related to insufficient heating or no heating at all.; also see

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


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Monday, November 21, 2005

Mike Lane, Cagle Cartoon of Jack Murtha and Cheney

Marine Colonel, War Hero, Congressman, Murtha, is depicted in this cartoon as a giant turkey threatening the likes of Cheney who is standing firm behind staying in Iraq and objecting to criticism about how the war is conducted. Murtha has pointed to Cheney's lack of military service as a vulnerability, taking the ax to his incompetent running of this war and his seeming insensitivity to the many unnecessary caualties the war has inflicted upon US servicemen. Later on Murtha softened his comments regarading Cheny's lack of military service but I thought his remarks were right on target. Some think the tide on the Iraq War is changing in part as a result of Murtha's stepping into the firestorm on this issue. Given Murtha is a conservative Democrat serving on an important congressional committee on military matters and given he is a hawk on military issues, this is very good news for those of us rooting for a quick pullout or at least a major shift toward peace and a pull away from a failed war policy which Murtha also pointed out in his remarks this week Nov. 05.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Vice President of Torture

I think it was great (Friday, Nov. 18th) when Adm. Stanfield Turner, former CIA Director, called Cheney "...The Vice-President of Torture.... " So who may I ask is the President of Torture?


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Bob Woodward and Company

It appears that Bob Woodward, the reporter who was partly instrumental in bringing down Nixon and company by using his "Deep Throat" source and keeping that mouthpiece a secret for thirty years has got himself deeply involved in the Bush Whitehouse "Plame affair" recently apologizing to his newspaper The Washington Post that he did not reveal information in a timely way that he knew about a source who told of CIA agent Plame/Wilson's existence and in effect "outed" her as a covert agent before Scooter Libby, Cheny's right arm guy, is accused of doing it by the new independent prosecutor, Fitzgerald, who is investigating Bush's people on this score including Rove and Cheney.

Bob Woodward looks a lot like Judith Miller in this instance. Miller is seen as a sell out to the Bush administration. It appears Woodward is trying to protect Libby and perhaps, others close to the Whitehouse and close to Bush. I am not sure if that is one and the same or not. One wonders who is running the Whitehouse Bush or these "other" people who seem to come right out of a cloak and dagger novel. Cheney standing up for torture, Rove concocting ways of keeping Bush, the empty head, appearing "right' to the public, Rumsfeld bowing to and doing PR for the NeoCons, a brutal mob of imperialists, or is he one? Why in the world does it appear that Woodward wants to associate with these characters is beyond my comprehension.
I know he is writing a book about Bush and has been given easy access to information. perhaps, in exchange for his cooperation, a deal made with the "Devil" I would think. Only time will tell or is it as easy as understanding Woodward has been corrupted and just got too close to his sources just like Judy Miller. Let's hope it is something else but right now I doubt it is anything too deep.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Two Newspapers That Let Us Down

So what mainstream paper do I read now? The New York Times has the Judy Miller reputation to live down and now the LA Times has fired its most liberal journalist Robert Scheer after 30 years with the paper. The fact that the New York Times supported a Judy Miller and others who never questioned the information they were giving out to the public on the weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein supposedly possessed has really turned me off to the New York Times. And to make matters worse now the LA Times which I read on a daily basis as I live in LA County has summarily dismissed one of the few columnists I enjoyed reading. Robert Scheer never was fooled by Bush/Cheney's scare tactics leading up to the Iraq War. He was right about the War all along and now he is seen by the paper as politically too left of center. The paper has decided to cater to the center and pump out pablum and information sharing that does not excite people too much, keeping its target somewhere in the empty headed middle. Scheer who is out because The Editor (who said he hated every word Scheer wrote) and The Tribune from Chicago which owns the paper could care less about the quality of the paper. They also fired Michael Ramirez, an ultra right wing political cartoonist for the LA Times, and opted for not having an in-house cartoonist at all. It seems as though many papers are opting to not have political cartoonist working for them on a regular basis. Although I hated the Ramirez content, the reasons for getting rid of him were wrong and short sighted, namely it was cheaper to run the paper without him.

I still get to hear Robert Scheer on KCRW Radio's Left, Right and Center's weekly show. He also is writing for The Huffington Post and some other media outlets. I was surprised that the only mention of Scheer's firing on the last Left, Right, & Center Show was from Scheer himself at the end of the show. To add salt to the wound The Times is adding very right wing Jonah Goldberg to replace Scheer as a regular columnist. So in this decision the pablum is tipping to the right as far as I can tell but it is still pablum. It would have been good to have a regular discussion about it. I am glad that Patt Morrison will continue to be featured regularly in the LA times and a few other writers that have liberal reputations but they will not have regular columns like Scheer did. This drift to the right of the media is nothing new but it was a shock to lose Scheer and I really hated having to go through that pitiful show that Judith Miller put on trying to place herself in the category of a selfless heroine put on by the cruel injustice of the Law because she wouldn't name Libby or Rove or whoever her source was. As far as I am concerned Miller and her buddies were all in the "Big Lie" together and it looks like they will all go down together too. Too bad the powers that be still control the media when push comes to shove. The TV media is even worse than the newspapers when it comes to right wing propaganda. And it is not just Fox news I am thinking about. I can understand why many people are turned off to the news altogether. The progressive people and interests of California did outsmart reactionary California Governor Schwarzennegger by using a very effective media ad campaign, one ray of hope in a dark cloud of growing pessisism when it comes to the news business. I wonder if it will make a difference?

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Old Lesbians Organizing For Change

I recently attended a meeting of OLOC, Old Lesbians Organizing for Change, an organization that encourages old Lesbians to fight ageism especially as it affects women and Lesbians. The group also encourages women to accept the word "old" as a neutral designation and to avoid words that are used as euphemism for old age i.e. senior or mature adult. The organization was founded in 1989 and many of its ideas stem from the inspirational presence and writings of Barbara MacDonald who is now deceased. MacDonald with her partner Cynthia Rich wrote the book " Look Me in the Eye: Old Women, Aging, and Ageism". Baba Copper (also deceased) who wrote the essay "Over the Hill" was another writer who inspired OLOC women to combat ageism. OLOC promotes consciousness raising and facilitates educational projects that focus on aging issues for old women and Lesbians. The organization supports a project that conducts oral herstories on old Lesbians in their 60's 70's and 80's and 90's.

The first conference in the world that gathered old Lesbians in one place was held on the campus where I teach( CSUDH) in S.. California in 1987. Working on the conference event was a highlight of my career and life. The event was called the First West Coast Celebration and Conference By and For Old Lesbians. Barbara MacDonald was the keynote speaker and her speech inspired women to empower themselves and to in a sense liberate themselves from the oppression of ageism. Shevy Healy was another Lesbian, a speaker and writer, who influenced the direction of OLOC in its early years. The organization continues on under new leadership. I was very impressed with the members of the steering committee who run the organization. They are a wonderful group of vibrant and intelligent old women not afraid to make waves. The SC is working on its next major conference. If you are interested in learning more about OLOC, go to the website listed here:

Monday, November 07, 2005

I'm Blown Away: US Accused of Using Chemical Weapons on Civilians

"A news program on Italian satellite TV, RAI News 24, has substantiated the claim that the US military has been exploiting the dual use of white phosporus. In its siege of Fallujah, the chemical was used on the civilian populace. The story is in today's Repubblica.  The Bush Adminstration and the DoD are about to be shamed before the eyes of the world." (Huffington Post, Nov. 7, 2005) by paper tigress.

"In the investigative story, produced by Maurizio Torrealta, dramatic footage is shown revealing the effects of the bombardment on civilians, women and children, some of whom were surprised in their sleep." another source:

If the above is true, I would think it is all over for the Bush administration. Any shred of credibility in the Bush administration would be blown out of the water. I took the first quote from the Huffington Post. But if it is true, will Congress act and how will it happen-impeachment I would suppose. I guess all the dots would have to be connected back to Bush. Maybe they would just get rid of Rumsfeld. This makes one think fast and hard. How will the demise of all these despicable characters be conducted?

For a fuller report go to from Mary Shaw. Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist. She currently serves as Philadelphia Area Coordinator for Amnesty International. For more information, go to:

Go to (Amy Goodman Interview with independent reporter Dahr Jamail, Nov. 29th, 2004)

Go to (By Peter Popham, Sunday, Nov 6, 2005) (Tues Nov. 8. 2005) (Tues. Nov. 8. 2005)


Sunday, November 06, 2005

Thoughts on Jimmy Carter on Iraq

I heard Jimmy Carter being interviewed by Tim Russert today. The interview was based primarily on a new book Carter has published (2005) titled " Our Endangered Values" which takes issue with the negative fundamentalist influences we are experiencing throughout the country. I am definitely in agreement with the basic premise of the book but totally against some of Carter's take on the Iraq war. Although Carter speaks out in the interview against the Bush decision to go to war, he did an about face and surprised the hell out of me, when he said he was convinced that the Bush forces are in the process of setting up permanent military bases in Iraq and plan to never leave the place.

Carter believes this information should be shared with the public and Iraqis not to cause them to get us out but instead to help placate the Iraqis and convince them they will have us backing them up basically forever and therefore, according to his convictions, there would be less violence among the various factions, and although the insurgency would not end, this would go a long way toward the stabilization of Iraqi society. Carter's explanation does clarify the reason why so many mainstream Democrats i.e. Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, John Kerry and others seem to support the troops staying put, albeit with Iraqis being in the front lines eventually. No one mentions how many US forces would have to stay in the long run.

The pundits probably have no idea how many US forces would be needed. It is clear the killing would go on ad infinitum. This idea also assumes the American presence would be invincible and long lasting. Remember Lebanon. One more Lebanon and we would be out in a jiffy, right? It is really hard to digest how intelligent minds like Carter's can come up with this kind of brutal colonial thinking and all in the name of democracy. I don't get it and hope I am simply misunderstanding Carter, winner of the Nobel Peace prize, and that I am not comprehending our former President's true purpose and strategy in laying all this out. I do admit I have not read Carter's new book yet and take what I know from the Russert interview.

Given the majority of the American pubiic appears now, and belatedly so, against the Bush policy that allowed the U.S. to go to war in Iraq in the first place, this afterthe fact Democratic hawkish thinking creates a hell of a situation for those of us looking for leaders who can speak out and get the US and the troops out of harms way. It seems clear those of us who have always voted for the lesser evil cannot afford to wait around for the more thoughtful Dems to come around. I guess if we have no leaders to lead us, we have to invent new ones.

Sunday evening Postscript: After rereading other anti-war comments that Carter has made on Iraq I have come to the conclusion that Carter was only trying to explain Bush's hidden agenda on the war and trying to elucidate Bush and his handler's committment to staying in Iraq for as long as they can, making a permanent base there to control the oil interests and direct the course of Iraq to their own narrow interests. Carter wants the public to know what is going on which is a good thing. Carter does, however, believe we should not leave now as the anti war movement demands and I know that Carter would like to have multinational forces in place there not just US troops, which I see as an unrealistic position as no one wants to be there facing the insurgents and terrorists. If I misinterpreted Carter's remarks to make them seem the same as Bush's hidden agenda, I apologize but I think we should begin to pull the troops out now and too many Dems including Carter seem to take too conservative a position on pulling the troops out of this failed war. We should listen to what the public in the USA wants and what the public wants is us out of Iraq. If we begin now, then it will happen sooner rather than later. But, of couse, that will not happen with Bush in office and it is hard to imagine it happening with the Dems who might take office in 3 years either. The Dems seem to want to redo the Republicans on the issue of military might. Where is there backbone or do they really disagree? Just bringing Bush down for the sake of it and then not accomplishing anything different would be a real irony.

I would love to hear comments on this one.

Sunday, October 30, 2005


I am not at all inclined to see what is happening to President George W. Bush's trio of men, Libby, Rove, and Cheney in a positive light probably because the truth of what happened leading up to the Iraq war and the direction this country has gone is not unwinding fast enough for me. The Democrats, for instance, Harry Reid, say they will support a conservative candidate for the Supreme Court (since Harriet Miers withdrew her name from the appontment) as long as he or she is not far right conservative. Conservative is now okay, moderate is not even mentioned anymore. Why don't the Dems call for Bush's impeachment? He is not competent to lead. The Neo Cons who took this country and led Bush to war with no other reason than they thought the USA should be more influential in the middle east and equated spreading democracy with the most aggressive hawklike move on Bagdad and Iraq since Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. Theocracy reigns with Bush's blessing instead of democracy. If you don't believe in religion at all, you are now suspect in America, witness Bill Maher, the talk show host, quick exit from ABC for criticizing Bush's War and also I believe putting down religion. Bush's brain (Karl Rove) no longer has any credibility and that makes Bush bankrupt intellectually. Cheney may hang in there, although ethically he is totally corrupt, using the Iraq War as an excuse to enrich his corporate friends and companies i.e. Halliburton and Exxon.

Nothing is moving fast enough for me. Economically the country is suffering, costs of college tuition fees is going up, gas prices are outrageous, the poor continue to be shafted, health care costs continue to climb, potential retirees are losing on their pension coverage and right to health care coverage, hurricane victims still suffer, the era of abortion rights seems to be over, and it goes on and on. I don't know how we can realistically manage getting a humanitarian third party to win a presidential election or a way to, hopefully, turn this country around but we need something new to get out of the mess we are in now. The status quo has brilliantly figured out how to have a mostly uninformed public. Very belatedly people say they would have voted against Bush if only they had known then what they know now. Some of us, sadly too few of us, knew then and have know for a long time, something is wrong with the way this country is run and is running. The question now is how can we start over and move in a new direction? It will take a grassroots movement like Move-on to begin the thrust forward but we also need leaders who speak out. Where are they now and why aren't they speaking out?

Friday, October 28, 2005

WBNA Player Swoopes "Comes Out"

pics from

Sheryl Swoopes's "coming out" is important as the sports world and the women's sports world is very lesbophobic which is obvious as so many players "are in the closet" about who they are and forced by the commercial interests who think the public will not attend these events as faithfully or at all if it is known some of the players are Lesbians. Let us hope this will begin to change for women's basketball and other sports all thanks to Sheryl Swoopes's bravery. Kudos to her. From reading the various accounts, Ms. Swoopes has had a difficult time psychologically playing the game of pretending to be straight. Now she can relax and hopefully get on with her life and her great career.

Sharon Raphael

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Big News for LGBT Community and Sports World:Sheryl Swoopes Comes Out

For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2005


   ‘Sheryl Swoopes is a real hero on and off the court,’ said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

WASHINGTON — Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese made the following statement as three-time WNBA MVP player and Olympic gold medalist Sheryl Swoopes came out today in an interview with ESPN’sThe Magazine.

“Sheryl Swoopes is a real hero on and off the court. Being open and honest about your life is an act of bravery. This MVP player and Olympic gold medalist is helping to start real conversations about openness, honesty and authenticity. We commend her for this brave step that will mean so much to her gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and straight supportive fans and peers.”

In an interview with The Magazine, Swoopes said, “Some people might say my coming out after just winning the MVP award is heroic, and I understand that. And I know there are going to be some negative things said, too. But it doesn't change who I am. I can't help who I fall in love with. No one can.”

Read the Human Rights Campaign’s Resource Guide to Coming Out for African-Americans.

View the Human Rights Campaign's guide to conversations about GLBT issues.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


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On the Bus

Rosa Parks: A Tribute

She died peacefully at 92. She died last night Oct. 24th 2005.

Rosa Parks walked in no one else's shoes.

She was her own woman. A role model for the world.

She refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white man.

She refused to bow to indignity. And never pretended to not understand.

I heard Rosa Parks say there were others also who were angry about the injustice

And others who acted against the system like she did but it was Rosa Parks

Actions on that day December 1, 1955 which set the spark that would bring

Martin Luther King to Montgomery to begin the Montgomery Bus Boycott and to lead

What has come to be known as the modern civil rights movement in the U.S.A.

I have a famous drawing of Rosa Parks sitting on the bus that fateful day that hangs in my office.

I want my students to know that Rosa Parks inspired me a long time ago. I am a white woman.

I want my students to know who my role model is, to know Rosa Parks is my inspiration.

She is the one that has kept me going, kept me staying out of the closet, being myself

All these years. I have looked at her picture and remember why I can be who I am.

Sharon Raphael

From The Left Coaster Blog

Monday :: Oct 27, 2003

Happy Halloween, Dumbya!

Joyous Samhain!

In honor of the event, the spirits have decided to have a say in the way the realm of the living is being run:

Gertrude M. Jones

Word has been received that Gertrude M. Jones, 81, passed away on August 25, 2003, under the loving care of the nursing aides of Heritage Manor of Mandeville, Louisiana. She was a native of Lebanon, KY. She was a retired Vice President of Georgia International Life Insurance Company of Atlanta, GA. Her husband, Warren K. Jones predeceased her. Two daughters survive her: Dawn Hunt and her live-in boyfriend, Roland, of Mandeville, LA; and Melba Kovalak and her husband, Drew Kovalak, of Woodbury, MN. Three sisters, four grandchildren and three great grandchildren, also survive her. Funeral services were held in Louisville, KY. Memorial gifts may be made to any organization that seeks the removal of President George Bush from office.

Published in The Times-Picayune on 10/2/2003.

Happy Halloween

Monday, October 17, 2005

Racoon Relaxes at New Orleans Zoo (back to Normal for this one)


Subject:That's right 
Date:Sat, 8 Oct 2005 18:42:15 EDT 

George Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld are flying on Air Force One over New Orleans. Bush turns to Cheney and says, chuckling, "You know, I could throw a $1000 bill out the window right now and make someone very happy." 
Cheney shrugs and replies, "Well, I could throw ten $100 bills out the 
window and make ten people happy." 
Not to be outdone, Rumsfeld says, "Well I could throw a hundred $10 bills 
out the window and make a hundred people happy." 
The pilot overhearing this says to his co-pilot, "Such arrogant asses back there. Hell, I could throw them out the window and make millions of people happy." 

Will Bus Driver Be The Scapegoat in Fatal Crash?

The article below from The Associated Press states that the driver of the bus, an undocumented 37 yr, old Mexican citizen, attempting to flee Hurricane Rita which caught fire killing 23 elderly nursing home patients was charged with negligent homicide. It appears the brakes failed and as a result a fire broke out and people died, some were rescued. It is not clear if the bus driver rescued people or not, although unconfirmed reports from witnesses say he did.

The news item quotes a Sheriff Sgt. spokesman who said ..."Safe transportation from the nursing home to the final destination is his (meaning the bus driver) responsibility. Based on the end result, he failed in that responsibility." I find it outrageous that the blame does not to extend to the Bus Company that failed to keep its buses in good order which is also mentioned in the article. If it was the brakes not anything the driver did but the company's failure, how can the bus driver be charged with this serious offense? Is he being scapegoated because he is a Mexican without the proper papers? It is also easier to blame the little guy in a situation like this. We will have to wait and see who else is charged in this case but this situation bears watching.

Bus Driver Faces Homicide Charges

Vehicle Caught Fire While Fleeing Hurricane Rita, Killing 23


DALLAS (Oct. 17) - The driver of a bus that caught fire while carrying nursing-home patients fleeing Hurricane Rita was charged Monday with criminally negligent homicide in the deaths of 23 passengers.Juan Robles Gutierrez, a 37-year-old Mexican citizen, was taken into federal custody on an immigration violation five days after the Sept. 23 explosion near Dallas.
Sgt. Don Peritz, a spokesman for the Sheriff's Department, would not give any specific examples of any negligence by Robles, saying details will be released if he is indicted.

"The bus is under his care, custody and control, and so is everyone on board," he said. "Safe transportation from the nursing home to the final destination is his responsibility. Based on the end result, he failed in that responsibility."
There was no comment Monday from the bus company, Global Limo Inc., which was shut down by federal officials earlier this month because its drivers and the condition of its vehicles were "likely to result in serious injury or death." Its telephone has been disconnected.

Peritz said the investigation was continuing and additional charges could be filed.
The bus erupted in flames fire about 16 hours after leaving Houston. Some passengers and the driver escaped, but the flames, fed by 18 medical oxygen tanks, trapped many inside.From the beginning, investigators focused on the condition of the bus brakes. A motorist told investigators he motioned the driver to pull over shortly after seeing a rear wheel hub that was glowing red.

Authorities said Robles did not mention the encounter with the other driver when they interviewed him after the fire.
Sheriff Lupe Valdez said investigators also found no evidence that Robles helped several people off the bus before it was engulfed in flames, which was widely reported after the explosion."After an exhausting number of interviews, we have been unable to confirm any of those claims," Valdez said in a statement. However, Peritz said a failure to help crash victims was not part of the charges against Robles.

The Texas Department of Public Safety has said that the bus' right rear brakes failed because of the loss of bearings, and that the left rear brakes were "not maintained in good working order."

10-17-05 14:42 EDT

Friday, October 14, 2005

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Bush Supreme court Nominee Miers & 'Exodus Ministries'

Important information (see below) received based on Bush's recent speech (yesterday) praising Harriet Miers, The President's Supreme Court nominee. It appears that Ms. Miers supports a group that tries to convert Gays to Straight using methods that have been criticized by mainstream therapist and psychiatrists and goes counter to research that shows that Lesbian and Gays do not benefit from this type of homophobic motivation or method. I had a bad feeling about this nomination. Bush says he is sure Ms. Miers will stay very conservative on all the hot button issues they like and I think Bush's opinion is warranted. The only choice would have been for him to put in someone who has a better track record of opposing privacy rights and religious monopoly on our lives.

Sent: 10/4/2005 1:12:50 AM

Subject: Miers Anti-Gay, Exodus pro bono work

This morning When President Bush announced the Nomination of Miers to the Supreme Court the press overlooked a huge Anti-Gay factor, Exodus International.  Bush said:

 "She led by example. She put in long hours of pro bono work.

Harriet Miers has given generously of her time and talent by serving as a leader with more than a dozen community groups and charities, including the Young Women's Christian Association,

Childcare Dallas, Goodwill Industries, Exodus Ministries, Meals on Wheels and the Legal Aid Society." 

For those who are not aware according to its own website ( Exodus is a nonprofit, interdenominational Christian organization promoting the message of "Freedom from homosexuality through the power of Jesus Christ."

We should be very worried about Bush's Anti-Gay Nomination of Miers to the Supreme Court!

Monday, September 26, 2005

Lambda Legal Event

Mina and I attended Lambda Legal's Western Divison's 15th Anniversary Liberty Awards. We were recognized for our role among others in a case that defended the right to have the legal status of Domestic Partnerships in the State of California. Mina and I were the seventh couple to register as domestic partners in California. We have been together since 1971, 34 years. Delores Huerta, co-founder of the UFW, was honored at the event for her successful effort to help the State Legislature in California pass the Gay Marriage Bill which is awaiting Gov. Schwarzeneger's signature. Although the Governor is unlikely to sign the bill, this passage by the Legislature could have a beneficial affect on the courts system which is considering whether Lesbians and Gay men have the constitutional right to have Gay Marriage in California. Kevin M. Cathcart, the Executive Director of Lambda Legal National gave a main address. Our lead lawyer, Jenny Pizer, also gave an address. A number of Hollywood types were there including Bruce Villanch, the very famous comic writer who also performed in Hair Spray in LA, Peri Gilpin who used to be on Frasier, and Kathy Griffin who has her own tv show on cable. All told it was a fun and inspiring event.

Californians, Vote No on Props 74, 75, 76, and 77

The following article urges citizens of California to vote no on proposition 74, 75, and 76 which Governor Schwarzenegger has placed on the ballot for Nov. 8, 2005. Schwarzenegger is supporting regressive legislation that will weaken unions and take away protections and funding for hardworking teachers, nurses, police and firefighters. The governor is not a man of the people but is representing the corporate interests and powerful interests in California. It is also a shame that the Governor plans to veto the Gay Marriage Bill that passed through both houses of the California legislature. The Terminator seems to be living up to his name, attempting to terminate the advances that ordinary California have worked so hard to achieve. Also Vote no on 77 which is a redistricitng measure aimed at putting more Republicans in power and chaning the way redistriciting is done by putting the decision making in the hands of judges (3 of them) rather than in Sacramento. Critics say this process would be unwieldy especially at first and cause a major bureaucratic nightmare.motives of judges can be politica too.

Share with Familes and Friends NO Vote on 74, 75, 76
by Dianne K. Jones, CTA Director, District P, Miller Elementary

Welcome to the 2005-06 school year. The beginning of a new year is always exciting and this year we have new District leadership as well. We are all hopeful that this will mean a new era of respect and cooperation as we work together to improve the achievement of all students.

While we are returning to our classrooms the Governor is moving full steam ahead with fundraising to promote an agenda that will have a devastating effect on California's schools and our profession. We must see that the agenda of the Governor and his corporate friends is defeated on Nov. 8, 2005. We must defeat Propositions 74, 75 and 76.

Proposition 74 would lengthen the probationary period for teachers from two to five years. This would apply to teachers whose probationary period commenced during or after the 2003-04 fiscal year. It would also eliminate due process rights for permanent teachers.

This initiative is deceptive, unnecessary and unfair. It won't improve student achievement or reform public education in any meaningful way. It will hurt our ability to recruit and retain qualified teachers in California. Good teaching comes from mentoring, training and support, not from the kind of negative, punitive approach imposed by Proposition 74. Vote NO on Prop. 74.

Proposition 75 would silence the voice of public employees and strengthen the political influence of large corporations. It targets teachers, nurses, firefighters and police officers.

Recently teachers have made the public aware of the Governor's broken promises to education funding; the nurses have made their case on hospital staffing to protect patients; and police and firefighters have fought against the elimination of survivor's benefits for families of those who die in the line of duty. Now the Governor and his corporate friends want to silence these voices. Proposition 75 singles out public employees in an attempt to reduce their ability to respond when politicians set out to harm education, health care and public safety. The corporations already $24 to each dollar spent by the unions. We must defeat this measure. Vote NO on Prop. 75.

Proposition 76 will cut funding for schools, health care, police and fire. It will overturn Prop. 98 and allow the Governor to permanently reduce school funding without a vote of the people. It "terminates the repayment requirement" so the Governor would never have to pay back money owed to our schools, such as the $2 billion he borrowed last year. It is a power grab that allows the Governor to unilaterally declare a "fiscal emergency" and then requires cuts to education, health care, police and fire, but prevents cuts to road projects. These cuts could be made three times per year. California
cannot afford Proposition 76. Vote NO on Prop. 76.

We need the support of everyone to see that these measures are defeated. Become informed, become involved. Talk to your family, friends and neighbors and vote No to defeat Propositions 74, 75, and 76.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


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Cajun Country

I found a wonderful website that has photos of part of the region that is being flooded by Rita. The site is titled Cajun Life and the site included here has photos of the various town, marshland, and beautiful land that sits along and within the marshland. I had no idea that the area was so beautiful. Too bad it is flooded now but I am sure it will all return back to the old way of life featured here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Gay Marriage in California: Challenge to Schwarzenegger

I think the ad described below is a great idea. Gay rights activists challenge Arnold and ask him to turn his back on anti-Gay Marriage backers and challenges him to be a hero, standing up to bigotry, comparing a veto to Gov. George Wallace standing in the doorway in Alabama attempting to keep Black students from going to college at an all white school. Wallace is depicted in the ad as well as civil rights activists including Maria Shriver's father Sargent Shriver. And I am adding this thought for the Governor. Which side are you on? As a Lesbian who has been in a first class relationship with her partner for 34 years, I am angry to think we have a Governor who doesn't know yet which side he is on and who in effect thinks my partner and I should continue to be treated as second class citizens not worthy of marriage equality. I agree with the ad, Arnold stand up and be counted.

Ad asks governor to consider legacy before vetoing gay marriage

By Lisa Leff


9:13 p.m. September 20, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO – Gay rights activists plan to air a television commercial this week that compares Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's forthcoming veto of a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in California to the segregationist policies of former Alabama Gov. George Wallace.

The 30-second ad is scheduled to begin airing on cable television stations in Los Angeles and Sacramento on Thursday, the day before the gay marriage bill Schwarzenegger has repeatedly vowed to veto reaches his desk. The governor has until Oct. 9 to sign, veto or let the bill become law without his signature.

"The point of the commercial is to continue to build pressure on the governor to sign the bill," said Geoffrey Kors, executive director of the gay rights lobbying group Equality California. "His legacy and his place in history is very important to him. We need to remind the governor he is at that place."

The ad, which was funded by Equality California and produced by director Rob Reiner's Castle Rock Entertainment, starkly presents the choice facing Schwarzenegger in terms of the civil rights struggle of the 1960s.

Besides Wallace, who sealed his political legacy by blocking a doorway at the University of Alabama when the school's first black student enrolled in 1963, it includes images of civil rights champions such as labor leader Cesar Chavez, and John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, late uncles of Schwarzenegger's wife, Maria Shriver.

"Those who have made America great are the ones who have brought America together, who have stood for fairness and equality and against discrimination," a narrator intones. "Now, Governor Schwarzenegger will make a decision for which he will forever be remembered."

The ad goes on to challenge Schwarzenegger to "stand up for the basic rights of all Californians" or to "stand with the forces of discrimination," visually represented by a photograph of Wallace.

"Governor, the choice is yours. Be a hero," it ends.

California already gives same-sex couples most of the rights and duties of marriage if they register with the state as domestic partners, but earlier this month, the state Legislature became the first lawmaking body in the nation to legalize gay marriage without a court order.

Schwarzenegger, who has expressed an acceptance of same-sex marriage, has said he plans to veto the law because he thinks it's an issue that should be decided by voters or the courts.

Spokeswoman Margita Thompson said Tuesday that Schwarzenegger also thinks the Legislature acted improperly by passing the gay marriage bill because in 2000 voters approved a law stating that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

Under state law, voter initiatives can only be rescinded at the ballot box, although legal analysts on both sides of the issue have argued over whether the bill just passed was written to take advantage of a loophole in the 2000 statute.

Senior members of Schwarzenegger's staff are scheduled to meet with Equality California leaders and several gay and lesbian couples. "The governor is proud of the civil rights protections offered in California and does not believe same-sex couples should be discriminated against based on their relationship," Thompson said.

Nevertheless, Equality California's last-minute advertising blitz won't dissuade Schwarzenegger from vetoing the marriage bill, according to Thompson.

"The decision is made," she said.

photo by eldan

chagrin river road bridge in gates mills, ohio near cleveland

view of lake erie from edgewater park in cleveland

Monday, September 19, 2005

Trip Back to Cleveland, Ohio

Mina and I came back last Wed. from a trip to our old home town, Cleveland, Ohio. We actually grew up in Cleveland Heights on the eastside but when we gø back we explore all our favorite haunts from when we were young. The reason for the trip was a celebration of birthdays among Mina's first cousins and , of course, their children and their children's children also came to the event. The first day we took a trip out to Gates Mills which sits along the Chagrin River. Gates Mills and the surrouding countryside is place I always loved to explore because it is so green with woods, rolling hills and valleys, and Appalachian plateau beauty. Some of the roads around there are still made of brick.

We also spent time at our friend Arlyne's who lives in a picturesque spot around 148th St. located a few doors from Lake Erie. I love the lake. There is a bench above the lake near Arlyne's place I love to sit and look down at the few swimmers around and the dogs running after sticks thrown to them in the water. I find the Lake totally different than the ocean which I see in Southern California where we live. I don't know if it is the fact it is a lake or the fact that I grew up near the lake but I love the quiet ways and scenic beauty of all the sights and sounds of the Great Lake in Cleveland.

To get to the Lake, we always drive through Five Points or otherwise known as the Collinwood area, a run down section of Cleveland not far from the Lake that in the thirties and forties and even the fifties used to be hustle bustle hub where industrial workers from the area and nearby residents went to shop. This was the place where my parents owned a children's clothing and shoe stores for many years. It was called Jolly Kiddie Shop and was located near the corner of 152nd and St. clair across from Collinwood High School which is still there.* I always knew the business district but it wasn't until after my parents died that I have come to know the Collinwood area little bit more because Arlyne lives so close to that area.

We also used to drive through Collinwood on our way to a place called Euclid Beach, an amusement park on the water that is no longer there. But we go to the spot where it was whenever we return because it beckons up so many wonderful childhood memories of eating custard ice cream, caramel popcorn, and rides that were scary and games and everything fun and I remember it as a little seedy too but that was part its appeal . There is still an entrance that has been left that says Euclid Beach. Now senior housing stands in the amusement park's place and also a regular nice park where one can walk down to lake. Arlyne took us to a restaurant in North Collinwood called The Grovewood which is in the old ethnic Slovenian area, although I think the restaurant had Hunagarian type dishes as far as I could tell. It was a very nice place but probably very hard for most people to find as it is located in a residential rather than a business area.

Mina and I also visited the Cleveland Art Museum and Wade Park area which is one of the most beautiful spots on earth.There is a small lake in front of museum. Geese are there instead of swans I used to see gliding along when I was a child. I remember getting my first camera, a kodak brownie, and taking pictures of the swans. From the eastern side of the lake, we can see the oil can, a famous church with a green copper steeple and also what we used to call Silver's Temple, named after Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, with its beautifully designed black dome and brown stone walls. We can also see the Thinker, the statue that stands in front of the museum itself before one begins to ascend the steps leading into that great edifice of the arts. Behind us is the CWRU new library and the famous Severance Hall.

After sitting beside the Wade Park lake, we drove through little Italy, up the steep street known as Mayfield Hill. The brick streets with all the Italian restaurants and shops are still there too. Next stop is the Coventry area, which is known as a Bohemian area where lots of students and professionals from CWRU (Case Western Reserve University) and other places live or go to eat, shop, but not go to a movie as the old wonderful art theatre that used to be located there is gone. After that we head for Shaker Heights and pass through Shaker Lakes, those hidden lakes in the city of Shaker that few people seem to know about. We head to Shaker Square, the beautiful business center, that is ovally shaped with a street that you can drive a perfect circle around keeping in mind that all kind of other streets are crossing through there too. Nearby is the Shaker Rapid that takes people quickly downtown.

The Shaker Rapid is a yellow electric streetcar that was the first one created in the country ( that is what I was told). I wonder if it preceded the Red Cars of LA. I doubt it but who knows. Probably it did as Shaker Heights is named after its early founders, the Shakers late eighteen and nineteenth centuries, a religious sect who did not believe in procreation, who designed all that wonderfu furniture. I think their descendants lived in Cleveland but how did they get descendants? Well, that isn't hard to guess and it is beside the point.

We also made our way to Cedar and Warrensville Center (the old Jewish early shopping center district) then on toward Chagrin Blvd. and Van Aken and close to the 271 freeway where all the new hotels and many restaurants have moved including Corky and Lenny's which is a famous Jewish delicatessen which Mina and I and family used to frequent and still do whenever we return. They have the best pastrami sandwiches you can imagine. And then on to the Hampton Inn, near the freeway and Chagrin Blvd. where many newish hotels and tourist residences are located now. We found staying at the Hampton Inn very pleasant, breakfast was included, the bed was comfortable. The staff were friendly and helpful. They also give you vouchers for free appetizers at various restaurants located nearby. Arlyne visited us at the hotel the last day we were there and two of Mina's cousins took us out to eat next to the Inn at a place people on the far eastside of Cleveland seem to frequent called Bahama Breeze (mid range prices). We also ate one evening at a higher priced place called Flemings. I had wonderful Lake Erie fish there.

We stayed at the Hampton in Cleveland six days and then left by shuttle to go to the Cleveland Hopkins Airport which has a new facelift and looks totally different from what I remembered as the old airport. It is very post modern or it is just old modern and industrial white and functional looking but I like it that way. The airport has the look and feel of a major airport and the fact that Hopkins is the hub for Continental Airlines is probably the reason for that. The staff were also very helpful at the airport. At first I felt the air conditioning was not on strong enough inside the airport but after a while that seemed to be corrected. We had an fairly uneventful flight back to LAX and arrived ten minutes early. I would say our Cleveland adventure this trip was a big success.

* I remember in the early sixties a race riot that broke out in front of the high school. My Mother called me on the phone and told me pollice on horseback were standing in front of the shop. I think this was about the same time that Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis. Somehow my parents who were Jewish always seemed to muddle through those worst of times. They were the last white shopkeepers to stay on at Five Points. They never really left and I think their spirits still live on in that place, although I think their spirits are also at the Lake (Wildwood Park) and in Gates Mills too, places they liked to visit.


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picture taken from

This is a picture (from wesbite) of Reggie The Gator ( in his former home which belonged to an ex-police officer in Los Angeles.

Reggie The Alligator Still Living in Machado Lake

Rumors to the contrary Reggie the Alligator is still free in Machado Lake which is located in Harbor City of Los Angeles County.
The picture shown above is taken from Reggie's website which you can go to at The most recent alligator hunter to be defeated by Reggie was a guy named T-Bone who is a New Orleans hurricane survivor. T-Bone didn't have the right credentials; therefore the officials at the Lake thanked T-Bone for his efforts and sent him back to his temporary home in Hollywood, Ca. I read an article in the Daily Breeze hinting that Janice Hahn the LA Councilperson representing Harbor City and other cities nearby has recommended that Machado Lake be drained in order to not only capture Reggie but other gators that may be there. Higher up officials in the County and State have not yet figured out if this is feasible or if they want to follow up on Hahn's suggestion to flush out the Lake but I bet they are considering it strongly. Personally, it would be a shame to do it as the other creatures at the Lake would be negatively affected, although being eaten by alligators is also not the best thing for them either.

It is a real dilemma. My preference would be to let Reggie alone. They already captured a smaller alligator, some consider to be a brother of Reggie. I read an e-mail from Reggie's website saying one of Reggie's readers put an alligator in another wildlife Lake. The alligator was a pet that seemed to be too much for this reader. It seems this practice of releasing pet alligators into local lakes is not a totally unusual happening. It is a shame these people use, buy, capture, wild animals and reptiles in the first place. I saw a little boy on my street with a baby rabbit in his pocket the other day. Even that concerned me. What happens down the road when the animal becomes too much of a challenge for a family? The fate of all these disposable creatures usually does not have a happy ending. I am still a Reggie watcher and fan and hope the best for him.
I wonder what would happen if he was just left alone. Sometimes a remedy is worse than the cure.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Friday, September 16, 2005

Reaction to George W. Bush's Speech from New Orleans: The Race Issue

......"As all of us saw on television, there's also some deep, persistent poverty in this region, as well. That poverty has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America. We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action. So let us restore all that we have cherished from yesterday, and let us rise above the legacy of inequality. When the streets are rebuilt, there should be many new businesses, including minority-owned businesses, along those streets. When the houses are rebuilt, more families should own, not rent, those houses. When the regional economy revives, local people should be prepared for the jobs being created."

He also mentioned the race and poverty issue during the prayer service held on 9/16/05.

“As we clear away the debris of a hurricane, let us also clear away the legacy of inequality,” the president said. “Let us deliver new hope to communities that were suffering before the storm. And one day, Americans will look back at the response to Hurricane Katrina and say that our country grew not only in prosperity, but in character and justice."

Surprise, surprise George Bush has discovered racism as he mentions it above in his speech from New Orleans 9/15/05.
Better late than never I suppose but the motivation is pure politics I am sure. Whoever wrote the speech at least has some knowledge of the relationship between race, class and poverty. I think it is revealing that Bush only seems to want to deal with the effects of race and class in the Gulf Region. How about the rest of the country or does he think poverty that stems from inequality in treatment of the races is limited to the Gulf region? Perhaps, the focus on the poverty issue distracts us from the lack of disaster relief preparation on the federal level.

Of course, Bush does not see a relationship between the lack of response in the Gulf, he is just saying that the poverty became visible as a result of the hurricane because it affected poor people and lot of them were African Americans and many poor rural whites in Mississippi and Georgia also seemed affected. In my opinion, racism surrounded and made outcome of events surrounding the hurricane much worse. The fact there was no upfront plans for evacaution of people without transportation was simply put outrageous and unconscionable.

It was probably all the polls showing that African Americans saw racism and connected the dots to Bush that made him stand up and utter what seemed like the right words. I can only hope that some good will come out of what seems to me empty rhetoric. Bush's talk of rebuilding sounds like laundry list of Republican experiments, give a lot of the money to religious organizations and let them handle the charity stuff, give kids school vouchers, create enterprise zones, lower taxes for minority businesses, make it easy to buy homes, the latter two points sound good as long as self promoting type companies and real estate interests, friends of Cheney or the Bushes don't end up profiting from W's " great adventure".

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Don't We Wish

Paul O'Hanlon | 09.07.2005 12:40 | G8 2005 | Anti-militarism | Culture | Repression | London | World

"Too Late" by the poet Edward Field


Too late to hire a boat and break into attics
where the trapped are standing with water up to their necks

too late to set up the grid plan
and assign a rescue crew to each square

too late to set up the emergency phone network
that would have helped everybody know what was going on where

too late to get everybody out of the city before the hurricane struck
as Fidel Castro did

way too late to have a coherent plan
to organize the whole rescue operation

don’t even talk about it’s too late
to put money into the dikes, the wetlands

instead of pouring billions into failed savings and loans, the
pharmaceutical industry,
the oil war in Iraq, the thirty-year occupation of the Palestinians

but not too late to stand Bush and his crew
up against the wall


What Barbara Bush Did Not Comment on

Please Comment on Quote of Barbara Bush below

Barbara Bush, who accompanied the former presidents on a tour of the Astrodome complex Monday, said the relocation to Houston is "working very well" for some of the poor people forced out of New Orleans."What I'm hearing, which is sort of scary, is they all want to stay in Texas. Everyone is so overwhelmed by the hospitality," she said during a radio interview with the American Public Media program "Marketplace." "And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway, so this is working very well for them."


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Monday, September 05, 2005

Cartoon by Joe Willy (Daily Kos)

Dershowitz on Rehnquist

I thought Alan Dershowitz's article on Justice Rehnquist was important enough to include in my blog. My memory of Rehnquist is diametrically the opposite of all the flattering reports I have heard in the media. Too bad he will be replaced by someone just like him in terms of political persuasion.


Telling the Truth About Chief Justice Rehnquist

My mother always told me that when a person dies, one should not say anything bad about him. My mother was wrong. History requires truth, not puffery or silence, especially about powerful governmental figures. And obituaries are a first draft of history.

So here’s the truth about Chief Justice Rehnquist you won’t hear on Fox News or from politicians. Chief Justice William Rehnquist set back liberty, equality, and human rights perhaps more than any American judge of this generation. His rise to power speaks volumes about the current state of American values.

Let’s begin at the beginning. Rehnquist bragged about being first in his class at Stanford Law School. Today Stanford is a great law school with a diverse student body, but in the late 1940s and early 1950s, it discriminated against Jews and other minorities, both in the admission of students and in the selection of faculty. Justice Stephen Breyer recalled an earlier period of Stanford’s history: “When my father was at Stanford, he could not join any of the social organizations because he was Jewish, and those organizations, at that time, did not accept Jews.” Rehnquist not only benefited in his class ranking from this discrimination; he was also part of that bigotry. When he was nominated to be an associate justice in 1971, I learned from several sources who had known him as a student that he had outraged Jewish classmates by goose-stepping and heil-Hitlering with brown-shirted friends in front of a dormitory that housed the school’s few Jewish students. He also was infamous for telling racist and anti-Semitic jokes.

As a law clerk, Rehnquist wrote a memorandum for Justice Jackson while the court was considering several school desegregation cases, including Brown v. Board of Education. Rehnquist’s memo, entitled “A Random Thought on the Segregation Cases,” defended the separate-but-equal doctrine embodied in the 1896 Supreme Court case of Plessy v. Ferguson. Rehnquist concluded the Plessy “was right and should be reaffirmed.” When questioned about the memos by the Senate Judiciary Committee in both 1971 and 1986, Rehnquist blamed his defense of segregation on the dead Justice, stating – under oath – that his memo was meant to reflect the views of Justice Jackson. But Justice Jackson voted in Brown, along with a unanimous Court, to strike down school segregation. According to historian Mark Tushnet, Justice Jackson’s longtime legal secretary called Rehnquist’s Senate testimony an attempt to “smear[] the reputation of a great justice.” Rehnquist later admitted to defending Plessy in arguments with fellow law clerks. He did not acknowledge that he committed perjury in front of the Judiciary Committee to get his job.

The young Rehnquist began his legal career as a Republican functionary by obstructing African-American and Hispanic voting at Phoenix polling locations (“Operation Eagle Eye”). As Richard Cohen of The Washington Post wrote, “[H]e helped challenge the voting qualifications of Arizona blacks and Hispanics. He was entitled to do so. But even if he did not personally harass potential voters, as witnesses allege, he clearly was a brass-knuckle partisan, someone who would deny the ballot to fellow citizens for trivial political reasons -- and who made his selection on the basis of race or ethnicity.” In a word, he started out his political career as a Republican thug.

Rehnquist later bought a home in Vermont with a restrictive covenant that barred sale of the property to ''any member of the Hebrew race.”

Rehnquist’s judicial philosophy was result-oriented, activist, and authoritarian. He sometimes moderated his views for prudential or pragmatic reasons, but his vote could almost always be predicted based on who the parties were, not what the legal issues happened to be. He generally opposed the rights of gays, women, blacks, aliens, and religious minorities. He was a friend of corporations, polluters, right wing Republicans, religious fundamentalists, homophobes, and other bigots.

Rehnquist served on the Supreme Court for thirty-three years and as chief justice for nineteen. Yet no opinion comes to mind which will be remembered as brilliant, innovative, or memorable. He will be remembered not for the quality of his opinions but rather for the outcomes decided by his votes, especially Bush v. Gore, in which he accepted an Equal Protection claim that was totally inconsistent with his prior views on that clause. He will also be remembered as a Chief Justice who fought for the independence and authority of the judiciary. This is his only positive contribution to an otherwise regressive career.

Within moments of Rehnquist’s death, Fox News called and asked for my comments, presumably aware that I was a longtime critic of the late Chief Justice. After making several of these points to Alan Colmes (who was supposed to be interviewing me), Sean Hannity intruded, and when he didn’t like my answers, he cut me off and terminated the interview. Only after I was off the air and could not respond did the attack against me begin, which is typical of Hannity’s bullying ambush style. He is afraid to attack when there’s someone there to respond. Since the interview, I’ve received dozens of e-mail hate messages, some of which are overtly anti-Semitic. One writer called me “a jew prick that takes it in the a** from ruth ginzburg [sic].” Another said I am “an ignorant socialist left-wing political hack …. You’re like a little Heinrich Himmler! (even the resemblance is uncanny!).” Yet another informed me that I “personally make us all lament the defeat of the Nazis!” A more restrained viewer found me to be “a disgrace to the Law, to Harvard, and to humanity.”

All this, for refusing to put a deceptive gloss on a man who made his career undermining the rights and liberties of American citizens.

My mother would want me to remain silent, but I think my father would have wanted me to tell the truth. My father was right.

Alan Dershowitz is a professor of law at Harvard. His latest book is The Case for Peace: How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Can Be Resolved (Wiley, 2005).