Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Anglicans: Email the Archbishop of Canterbury and ask him to condemn Akinola

Hs press secretary's email: jonathan.jennings@lambethpalace.org.uk

My email:
You may be aware that Nigeria's Senate is voting this Thursday on the
passage of laws that would make it illegal to advocate on behalf of
lesbians and gays in Nigeria. These laws have been under debate for
some time. They would impose a penalty of five years in prison for any
sort of public advocacy on behalf of gays and lesbians, or even
performing a same-sex wedding in a church. All Christians should
consider such laws to be a massive violation of human rights, and
against the will of God.

Unfortunately, the Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, has been a
vocal supporter of these laws. And as far as I am aware, no one in the
Anglican Communion has publicly opposed him. You have not confronted
him over his support of these laws, and I am astounded at your
silence.

The murdered Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Salvador, Oscar Romero,
asked this of then-US President Jimmy Carter: "You say that you are
Christian. If you are really Christian, please stop sending military
aid to the military here, because they use it only to kill my people."

If we Anglicans really are Christians, we should immediately ask that
Archbishop Akinola withdraw his support for these laws.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Bishop Wendell Gibbs of Michigan regarding the Primates' Communique: Pray for the church and sit tight

[Editor: No matter what happens, this church will survive and flourish. Let us all heed Bishop Gibbs' words.]

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

I have received some inquiries soliciting my response to the February 19, 2007 Communiqué of
the Primates’ Meeting in Dar es Salaam. Right now, beyond the comments made by the Most
Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, our Presiding Bishop and Primate, who was both present
and a participant in the meeting, I believe further comment would not be appropriate.

I will suppose your next question is “why.” There are two basic reasons: First, in the
Communiqué the Primates “request, through the Presiding Bishop, that the House of Bishops”
respond to several points. For this to happen with integrity, I believe it is imperative for the
members of the House of Bishops, to prayerfully come together to hear from those who were
actually there, to listen to one another, and to listen deeply to the Holy Spirit. Commentary at
this point could imperil my ability to be genuine to that task. Second, as you may know, as
President of the Province of the Midwest (Province V), I sit on the Presiding Bishop’s Council
of Advice. At this writing, the Council has not gathered, physically or electronically, with the
Presiding Bishop. That is scheduled to take place a few days from now. For me this adds
another layer of importance to my obligation to listen before speaking.

I know that the Communiqué has evoked a wide range of feelings and thoughts in many of my
sisters and bothers across this diocese ranging from delight to desolation. Please know of my
prayers for each of you.

I conclude with a singular request: Pray for the Church.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Gay and, interestingly enougn, pro-life
Anthony Chiorazzi of www.bustedhalo.com (http://www.bustedhalo.com/GayProudandPro-LifePart1.htm)

Steve Cook flinched as a heckler hollered, “You’re a traitor to the gay community.” One of the signs Cook held read, “Pro-Life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians,” and the other “Killing children never advances gay rights.” Soon others joined the chant of “Traitor! Traitor! Traitor!”

Cook was participating in the second-annual Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco last winter, the West Coast version of the March for Life held annually in Washington, D.C.

Cook said it was obvious that hecklers were singling him out more than the other marchers. One pro-choice protestor even yelled, “Oh, no! There’s a gay man among them.”

Cook, a bisexual and a member of the Pro-life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians (PLAGAL), is part of a growing movement in the gay and lesbian community to let people know that there is good reason to be pro-life and gay.

“As gays and lesbians, we are unwanted by society,” said Cecilia Brown, president of PLAGAL, “so we can sympathize with the unborn child, who is not wanted.” Brown believes that the terminating of those deemed undesirable is fraught with interesting paradoxes for the gay community: "What if one day the gay gene is found and women begin to abort babies because they don’t want to have a gay child? What will the gay pro-choicers say then?"

PLAGAL History
PLAGAL was established in 1990 in Washington DC and Minneapolis, MN by founders Tom Sena and Joe Beard. Beard, an attorney, worked pro-bono for many pro-life organizations but was frustrated when he was told that he had to be quiet about his homosexuality. Not wishing to hide either his homosexuality or pro-life views, Beard helped form PLAGAL.

“A disproportionate amount of the early pro-life attorneys were gay,” explained Maria Krasinski, a board member of PLAGAL. Krasinski said these attorneys were giving away thousands and thousands of dollars worth of their professional time to the pro-life movement but the pro-life movement was telling them that they couldn’t be honest about who they were.

Krasinski, a health care worker, likened it to telling people of color that they could only participate if they first put on a white face. “It was just unacceptable,” said Krasinski. “I thank God everyday for Tom Sena and Joe Beard.”

Today PLAGAL, a 100% volunteer organization with over 900 members nationwide, has chapters in Boston, Washington DC, Minneapolis and one developing in San Francisco.

Since its founding, members of PLAGAL have marched in pro-life rallies, set up tables at Gay Pride events, sponsored forums, published newsletters and op-ed pieces in both the straight and gay press.

"As gays and lesbians, we are unwanted by society, so we can sympathize with the unborn child, who is not wanted."
Though PLAGAL would like to see Roe v. Wade—the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in 1973— overturned, it is not the organization’s focus. Instead PLAGAL supports parental consent, women’s right to know laws, and supports laws that place guidelines and restrictions on how abortion clinics should be run.

A Painful Experience
Brown’s own journey to becoming a pro-life activist comes from a personal experience with abortion. In the course of getting an abortion herself, Brown said she made the mistake of looking over and seeing the jar that contained her aborted fetus. “I flipped out,” she recalled. “They told me it was just a blob of tissue, but I was able to see the jar next to me, and I could see an eyeball staring at me and also fingers and a little arm. That wasn’t a blob of tissue. That was a lie.”

Brown, a waitress in Ocala, Florida, also was told that it wouldn’t hurt and that there would only be slight cramping. “But that definitely wasn’t true,” she said. “It really hurt. It felt like my insides were being pulled out. They used a vacuum cleaner to suck everything out.”

Brown was hospitalized for a week after her abortion. “I was also very depressed," she said. "Which lead to drinking, taking drugs and doing other unhealthy things to try and deal with the pain.” In the end, Brown, who raises a one-year-old grandson whom she helped save from an abortion, said her abortion experience only made her life worse and she eventually dropped out of school.

Unlikely Allies?
According to Ann Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League based in Chicago, while the pro-life community is largely opposed to homosexual practice there is still much to admire about PLAGAL.

Scheilder believes it’s self-serving for a heterosexual man or woman to be pro-choice because it solves a problem for them if they don’t want to be bothered with an unwanted child. “But for someone who is gay—and not likely to be facing that choice—it’s a selfless and noble thing to be concerned about the unborn.”

As a Christian, Scheidler said, one needs to be kind, loving and accepting of all people. “There is never an excuse to be intolerant… Ultimately, the concern for life crosses all barriers, including political, religious and even sexual preferences."

“I think it was harder to come out as pro-life than gay,” a man at a gay Pride event in Baltimore once told Jackie Malone, executive vice president of Pro-life Alliance of Gays and Lesbians (PLAGAL). “Gay pro-lifers have been afraid to come out and say they’re pro-life because their chances of being ostracized by their community are very high,” said Malone.

Over the last ten years, PLAGAL—with a growing membership and volunteer base—has made inroads. “We don’t believe you have to be pro-choice to be a part of the gay community,” said Cecilia Brown, president of PLAGAL. Brown believes the gay community is becoming more diverse and gay pro-lifers are increasingly more visible.

A Green party member, Brown, who describes herself as far left on most issues, claims that it doesn’t bother her to be in the same pro-life camp as many on the right. “I can ignore their conservative flaws to work on the issue of life,” she joked.

In fact, Brown, argues that many on the right are not pro-life enough. By way of example, she cites President Bush’s advocacy for the death penalty, war and for cutting many social programs that help women choose life for their children. “Tell me what’s pro-life about that?” Brown commented.

Religious Wrong
“Sexual orientation is not ideology,” said Steve Cook, a board member of PLAGAL, and a proud Republican. “Just because a person is gay or bisexual doesn’t guarantee what their ideology is going to be. I have convictions that are conservative and liberal.”

Cook joined the pro-life movement during the Vietnam era when he was registered as a conscientious objector. Because he was taking a stand against soldiers killing children in Vietnam, Cook believed he should also take a stance against Americans killing their own children in the United States.

PLAGAL’s iconoclastic nature extends to the religious realm as well. “You don’t have to be a part of the religious right to be a part of the pro-life movement. We shattered that myth,” said Cook.

Though PLAGAL has no official religious stance, Brown, a Buddhist, said she gets along very well with the Christian right except for the fact they always want to convert her. “I tell them can’t we just stick to the issue at hand [the pro-life cause]?” Brown said. “I understand Christianity. I was a Christian. It’s just not my path.”

Feminist and Pro-Life
Malone, a homemaker in Pennsylvania, sees no inherent conflict in being feminist and pro-life because feminism is about advancing the rights of all women and that includes unborn women too. In fact, one-third of PLAGAL’s members are women, which is an interesting statistic when you consider that lesbians make up less than one-fourth of the gay population.

To be pro-women, Malone said, is to examine the reasons why women have abortions and then to address those problems, including giving hurting women more emotional and psychological support. “Abortion doesn’t solve those problems,” Malone said.

For Malone, pro-choice arguments that say a women has a right to do what she wants with her own body aren’t persuasive. “Because that other 'thing' inside them has a completely different genetic code,” she said. “It has a heartbeat at 10 days and detectable brain waves at 40 days. With all that, it’s hard to say it’s your body.”

“You don’t have to
be a part of the religious right to be a part of the pro-life movement. We shattered that myth.”
Strange Bedfellows
Maria Krasinski, a PLAGAL board member and health care worker, notes that the earliest feminist foremothers were Quaker women who were very much against abortion. “These women fought to make abortion illegal because they felt it was degrading to treat one’s unborn child like a piece of property,” said Krasinski. “They were also abolitionists. As far as they were concerned, the issue of abortion was one and the same with slavery.”

For the last two years, Krasinski has successfully brought her pro-life message, as a PLAGAL representative, to Boston Pride. But it hasn’t always been an easy road for PLAGAL in Boston. “Ten years ago, the PLAGAL [representatives] at Boston Pride found themselves surrounded by lesbians chanting for their blood,” Krasinski said. “They were going to be assaulted.” The police finally had to be called in to restore order.

Under Krasinski’s leadership, PLAGAL finally returned to Boston Pride in 2005. This past year, she says, they did brisk business handing out literature and signing up a lot of people.

Krasinski insists that the future looks bright for pro-lifers in the gay community. “It is no longer heresy for a gay person to be pro-life because the gays coming up now—thanks to PLAGAL—are prouder and more confident about being pro-life and gay than those that preceded them.”

Moreover, at the annual March for Life rally, Krasinski said, conservative pro-lifers are increasingly approaching them and saying that though they don’t agree with them on everything, they are happy PLAGAL is there.

Still Not Easy
Being pro-life and gay still isn’t without its horror stories. In 2002, at the annual March for Life Rally in Washington, D.C., two PLAGAL members were arrested for demonstrating without a permit.

According to Brown, their PLAGAL banner was destroyed when a member was dragged in it by police for refusing to hand it over. Brown and the other PLAGAL member were ultimately handcuffed and taken away. The March organizer, Nellie Gray “was the permit holder for the event and didn’t want PLAGAL marching in the event as open gays and lesbians,” said Brown.

In an open letter on March 19, 2002 to Gray, Brown wrote: “I want to convey to you my displeasure with your actions on January 22, 2002, in which you ordered the use of police force to deny open participation of a group of peaceful pro-life individuals who happen to be gay… How can PLAGAL convince pro-life individuals within the GLBT [Gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender] community to become active within the pro-life cause when they hear about the actions that ‘traditional’ pro-lifers inflict on ‘non-traditional’ pro-lifers?”

Since 2002, PLAGAL has been permitted to march with their banners and posters in every March for Life rally. In response to our request for comment about PLAGAL, The National Right to Life Committee issued the following statement: “[We encourage] all persons who promote a respect for life through peaceful and legal means to be pro-life and to be part of the pro-life movement.”

Jackie Malone feels that PLAGAL’s ability to straddle these seemingly incompatible worlds is a tremendous asset. “As a gay pro-lifer, I can reach people that a conservative pro-lifer will never be able to touch,” she said. “At the same time, there will be people that they will be able to reach that I can’t. We’re all needed. We’re all necessary.”

[Editor: I'm pro-choice myself. However, these guys seem to be the more sensible pro-lifers, and I'd respect their beliefs. If they ending up changing some of the views of conservative pro-lifers, I would be the last person to complain.

However, this particular statement, made by the exec director of Pro-Life Action League, is questionable: "But for someone who is gay—and not likely to be facing that choice—it’s a selfless and noble thing to be concerned about the unborn.”

It could be argued that because they won't face pregnancy unless they are very deliberate about it, LGBT people should not be the first voices we listen to on the subject. The Roman Catholic magisterium is fond of making pronouncements about birth control, but they can't get pregnant, and they can't get married, either. They have not the faintest idea what pregnancy entails.]
Triangle Foundation: Funeral arrangements set for Andrew Anthos

Andrew "Buddy" Anthos, 72, died Friday evening from injuries suffered in a brutal anti-gay attack. The following arrangements have been made for his funeral:

Public viewing and visitation from 2 - 9PM on Tuesday, February 27.
Funeral service will be held at 1PM on Wednesday, February 28.
The viewing and service will be at the Ford Funeral Home, 26560 Van Dyke, Center Line, Michigan 48015; (586) 754-2464

For information regarding the investigation please contact Melissa Pope, Triangle Foundation's Director of Victim Services at melissa@tri.org or (313) 537-3323 x112.

[Triangle Foundation is Michigan's leading LGBT advocacy organization. Their website is www.tri.org.

It absolutely should not have had to come to this, but I pray that this will spur Michigan's legislature to include sexual orientation and gender identity in our hate crime and ethnic intimidation laws.]

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Andrew Anthos of Detroit: killed in a hate crime attack



From the Detroit News:
"Andrew Anthos was on a city bus on his way home to the Windsor Tower apartments on Antietam in Detroit around 7 p.m. Feb. 13 when a man approached him and asked him if he was gay, Anthos’ family said he told police before he slipped into a coma. The man, who continued to harass Anthos and called him derogatory names, followed Anthos off the bus at the stop in front of his building and attacked him with a metal pipe, striking him from behind, police said. The attacker left him on the snowy sidewalk.

Anthos was taken to Detroit Receiving Hospital, where doctors performed emergency spinal surgery but were unable to reverse the paralysis. He is now in a coma and not expected to live past the weekend, his family said."

Indeed, Anthos passed away on Feb 23, at about 7:30pm.

"Detroit Police Sgt. Ryan Lovier said police are investigating whether the attack was a hate crime. His family said Anthos, who turned 72 on Monday, is gay.
So far no witnesses have come forward, and police have only a vague description of the attacker Anthos was able to give before falling into the coma. Lovier said he hopes someone from the bus saw something and will notify police."

Not sure how many of my readers are from the Southeast Michigan area, but there will be a memorial service, and I will post that info for those who are moved to attend.

Meanwhile, I invite your prayers. Christians hold differing views on homosexuality, but all major denominations oppose violence against the LGBT community. The problem is that it still occurs. Additionally, Michigan's hate crime laws do not explicitly address violence based on gender identity or sexual orientation. Even if they did, there will be those who commit hate crimes and escape justice. So, I ask your prayers for the safety of our LGBT brothers and sisters.

It does not help that Michigan's Republican-dominated legislature has stalled on adding hate crimes protections. From the "Log Cabin Republicans of MI website (LCR is a Republican gay group):
The current law provides for up to two years in prison for harassing someone because of their race, color, religion, gender, or national origin. Members of the LGBT community are among the most targeted groups for hate crimes. Adding these few words to the law would help protect the safety of Michigan's LGBT community.

Michigan's Ethnic Intimidation Act, on the other hand, was seriously flawed from the day it was signed into law. Any attempt to add either sexual orientation or gender identity protections was mercilessly crushed by the Republican Party’s right wing (including a sympathetic Governor). And this was after testimony from many experts (including Triangle, the ACLU, and others) mandated the need for these protections, the Legislature refused to add them to the law because then-Gov. Engler indicated he would have vetoed the law. Today, we have a chance to address that situation and right that wrong."

Additionally, I ask your prayers that Andrew's murdered will face justice.

LCR's petition to representatives in Feb 05 to clarify hate crime and ethnic intimidation laws:
http://www.logcabin.org/logcabinmi/alert-description.tcl?alert_id=1310062

A blog post about Andrew Anthos:
http://www.danielpwilliford.com/2007/02/andrew-anthos.html

An article about Andrew in happier times: he tried to get the Legislature to illuminate the Capitol in the national colors.
http://www.statenews.com/article.phtml?pk=12699

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Millstone award for March: the Exxon Mobil corporation, the American Enterprise Institute, and Lee Raymond

The only hard part about this decision was stopping myself from moving the March award to very early in February, when the articles were posted. However, March's Millstone Award goes to Exxon Mobil, the American Enterprise Institute, and Lee Raymond. Raymond is the ex-CEO of Exxon Mobil, who got a $400 million handshake. He is also the vice-chair of the board of trustees of the AEI, which has received $1.6 million from Exxon Mobil.

I've previously posted articles indicating that there are signs of hope at Exxon Mobil. The company had previously funded some quack science groups that questioned the premise of global warming. They stopped funding some of these groups.

I also posted an article about a damning report on global warming released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. They state that there is a 90% chance that global warming is caused by human activity.

The AEI is a conservative, pro-business think tank. I myself am pro-business. However, I also support human rights and environmental protection. These idiots do not. And it has come to light that the AEI tried to bribe IPCC scientists so that they would question the methods used in the climate change report. Ian Sample, the Guardian's science reporter, has this to say:

"Scientists and economists have been offered $10,000 each by a lobby group funded by one of the world's largest oil companies to undermine a major climate change report due to be published today.
Letters sent by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), an ExxonMobil-funded thinktank with close links to the Bush administration, offered the payments for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)."

"The UN report was written by international experts and is widely regarded as the most comprehensive review yet of climate change science. It will underpin international negotiations on new emissions targets to succeed the Kyoto agreement, the first phase of which expires in 2012."

"The letters, sent to scientists in Britain, the US and elsewhere, attack the UN's panel as "resistant to reasonable criticism and dissent and prone to summary conclusions that are poorly supported by the analytical work" and ask for essays that "thoughtfully explore the limitations of climate model outputs".

Climate scientists described the move yesterday as an attempt to cast doubt over the "overwhelming scientific evidence" on global warming. "It's a desperate attempt by an organisation who wants to distort science for their own political aims," said David Viner of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia."

"The letters were sent by Kenneth Green, a visiting scholar at AEI, who confirmed that the organisation had approached scientists, economists and policy analysts to write articles for an independent review that would highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the IPCC report."

Steve Hargreaves, a CNN Money staff writer, interviewed an Exxon Mobil spokesman, who had the gall to say that the company continues to donate to the AEI, but does not control what the group does, and that in fact, many corporations give to the AEI.

Well, I tell you what. I will call fire and judgment on ALL corporations or corporate-linked foundations who have given money to the AEI. But our friends at Exxon Mobil get the first blast.

According to Right Web, the following corporations/foundations are donors to these people as of late 06:
"According to People for the American Way, corporate donors to AEI have included the General Electric Foundation, Amoco, Kraft, Ford Motor Company Fund, General Motors Foundation, Eastman Kodak Foundation, Metropolitan Life Foundation, Procter & Gamble Fund, Shell Companies Foundation, Chrysler Corporation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, General Mills Foundation, Pillsbury Company Foundation, Prudential Foundation, American Express Foundation, AT&T Foundation, Corning Glass Works Foundation, Morgan Guarantee Trust, Alcoa Foundation, and PPG Industries. Wal-Mart is also a major contributor to AEI."

Finally, the AEI is also reputed to be very close to the Bush administration. Whereas the Iraq Study Group that Bush convened, and then ignored, tried to push in the direction of a diplomatic solution, the AEI's armchair generals pushed to send more troops. Bush is listening to them, although Congress may deny him.

Let's pray that they do, and let's pray that Exxon Mobil and the AEI come to face justice.

Sources:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/frontpage/story/0,,2004399,00.html

http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/news/archives/2007/02/02/a_bush_in_the_hand_is_priceless_for_aei.html

http://money.cnn.com/2007/02/02/news/companies/exxon_science/index.htm?section=money_latest

http://rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/1431

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday and a fast from ignorance


Today, we Christians celebrate Ash Wednesday. We never used to do this in church back home, but Anglicans do the whole imposition of the ashes thing, and remind each other that "you are dust, and to dust you shall return." We proclaim repentance from our sins, and often take up a Lenten discipline - for example, to pray daily, to exercise more, to abstain from coffee, chocolate, alcohol, or meat. I'm abstaining from meat, by the way. There is no way in hell I will ever abstain from alcohol, coffee, or chocolate.

Episcopalians are typically reluctant to discuss sin. In church back home, we would discuss sin all the time, remind ourselves how wretched we were, how we needed God's grace to repent, and how we had to bring others to Christ or they would die. All the sins we were guilted with were personal. The preachers I knew would usually use sexual sins. In time, I came to perceive this as a means of manupulation. We were being coerced into a certain orthodoxy by means of guilt, particularly sexual guilt.

We never talked about social sins, though. Racism is a personal sin, as well as a social one. So is sexism, so is homophobia. So is prejudice against those with physical or mental disabilities. If you obscure the social dimension of sin, you ensure that sin will remain unrestrained. Yes, human beings have sin in their nature. We will never be able to fix all social problems. But to give up and blind yourself and others to social sins, and focus only on a false personal holiness, is itself a sin.

That's why I chose Malcolm X - Malik El Shabazz - as my icon for Ash Wednesday. He was assassinated this day on 1965 (Ash Wednesday falls during a different day each year, and this year it happens to coincide with the day Malcolm was assasinated). He was a prophet, condeming the racism inherent in the social structure of America, as well as the racism that Americans - both Black and White! - had internalized. He called for it to end. His words below speak fire and judgment, but they also speak of hope and liberation. Let us heed his call!
Malcolm X: assasinated Feb 21, 1965


"Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and the overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colors and races here in this ancient Holy Land, the House of Abraham, Muhammad, and all the other Prophets of the Holy Scriptures. For the past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed all around me by people of all colors. . . .
You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought-patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions. This was not too difficult for me. Despite my firm convictions, I have always been a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds it. I have always kept an open mind, which necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth.

During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept in the same bed (or on the same rug) -- while praying to the same God -- with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the words and in the actions and in the deeds of the "white" Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan, and Ghana.

We were truly all the same (brothers) -- because their belief in one God had removed the "white" from their minds, the 'white' from their behavior, and the 'white' from their attitude.

I could see from this, that perhaps if white Americans could accept the Oneness of God, then perhaps, too, they could accept in reality the Oneness of Man -- and cease to measure, and hinder, and harm others in terms of their "differences" in color.

With racism plaguing America like an incurable cancer, the so-called "Christian" white American heart should be more receptive to a proven solution to such a destructive problem. Perhaps it could be in time to save America from imminent disaster -- the same destruction brought upon Germany by racism that eventually destroyed the Germans themselves.

They asked me what about the Hajj had impressed me the most. . . . I said, "The brotherhood! The people of all races, color, from all over the world coming to gether as one! It has proved to me the power of the One God. . . . All ate as one, and slept as one. Everything about the pilgrimage atmosphere accented the Oneness of Man under One God."

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Karl Rove said to have received 2003 Iranian proposal for negotiations: Gareth Porter, Commondreams.org

[Editor: in 2003, the Iranian PM was Mohammad Khatami, a far more reasonable man than the current guy, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In other words, Karl Rove may have deliberately lost us the chance to engage peacefully with the Iranians.]

WASHINGTON - Karl Rove, then White House deputy chief of staff for President George W. Bush, received a copy of the secret Iranian proposal for negotiations with the United States from former Republican Congressman Bob Ney in early May 2003, according to an Iranian-American scholar who was then on his Congressional staff.Karl Rove, then White House deputy chief of staff for President George W. Bush, received a copy of the secret Iranian proposal for negotiations with the United States from former Republican Congressman Bob Ney in early May 2003, according to an Iranian-American scholar who was then on his Congressional staff.

Ney, who pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced to prison in January for his role in the Jack Abramov lobbying scandal, was named by former aide Trita Parsi as an intermediary who took a copy of the Iranian proposal to the White House.

Parsi is now a specialist on Iranian national security policy and president of the National Iranian-American Council (NIAC), a non-partisan organisation that supports a negotiated settlement of the conflict between Iran and the United States.

Parsi revealed that the document was delivered specifically to Rove, in an exclusive interview with IPS. Within two hours of the delivery of the document, according to Parsi, Ney received a phone call from Rove confirming his receipt of the document. Parsi said the proposal was delivered to Rove the same week that the State Department received it by fax, which was on or about May 4, 2003, according to the cover letter accompanying it.

Ney was chosen by Swiss Ambassador in Tehran Tim Guldimann to carry the Iranian proposal to the White House, according to Parsi, because he knew the Ohio Congressman to be the only Farsi-speaking member of Congress and particularly interested in Iran.

Guldimann helped the Iranians draft the proposal and passed it on the United States.

The White House press office had not responded to a request for a comment on the account naming Rove as the recipient of the Iranian proposal by midday Friday.

The Iranian proposal for negotiations, which suggested that Iran was willing to consider far-reaching compromises on its nuclear programme, relations with Hezbollah and Hamas and support for a Palestinian peace agreement with Israel as part of a larger peace agreement with the United States, has become a contentious issue between the Bush administration and its critics in and out of Congress.

The identification of Rove as a recipient of the secret Iranian proposal throws new light on the question of who in the Bush administration was aware of the Iranian proposal at the time. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice denied in Congressional testimony last week that she had seen the Iranian offer in 2003 and even chastised former State Department, National Security Council and Central Intelligence Agency official Flynt Leverett for having failed to bring it to her attention at the time.

At a Capital Hill conference on U.S.-Iran relations Wednesday, sponsored by the New America Foundation and NIAC, Leverett responded to Rice's criticism by saying it was "unthinkable that it would not have been brought to her attention" and demanding an apology from her.

In May 2003, both Rove and Rice were considered to be part of Bush's inner circle on foreign policy matters, along with Vice President Dick Cheney. When Bush met with South Korea President Roh Moo-hyun on May 13, for example, the only advisers accompanying him were Rove and Rice.

The revelation that Rove received a copy of the Iranian negotiating proposal within days of the receipt of the State Department makes it appear very unlikely that Rice was not immediately made aware of the document.

The new account of the transmission of a second copy of the Iranian proposal to the White House coincided with the release Wednesday of both the actual text of the proposal as received in Washington and of the cover memo by Ambassador Guldimann which accompanied it. The two documents contradict the suggestion by Rice and by other State Department officials that Guldimann was acting on his own in forwarding the proposal, and that it did not reflect the intentions of the Iranian government.

The two documents were made available on the website of the Washington Post online edition in connection with a story by Post reporter Glenn Kessler. Kessler wrote that they had been provided by "a source who felt its contents were mischaracterised by State Department officials."

The memo from Guldimann, dated May 4, confirms previous reports that the Iranian proposal was drafted by the Iranian Ambassador in Paris Sadeq Kharrazi, in consultation with Guldimann but only after extensive discussions between Kharrazi and the three top figures in Iranian foreign policy: Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, then President Mohammad Khatami and his Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi.

As the memo notes, Ambassador Kharrazi, a former deputy foreign minister, was extremely well connected to the very top level of Iranian leadership. Khamenei's son is married to his sister, and the foreign minister is his uncle.

The memo recounts that a first draft of what was to be called a "roadmap" was done by Ambassador Kharazzi with Guldimann's help during a long discussion on Apr. 21, 2003. It was that document that Parsi later obtained from Iranian sources and has been reported in previous accounts of the proposal. After that initial meeting Kharrazi had two long meetings with Khamenei, President Khatami and the foreign minister which he reported as lasting a total of four hours.

According to Kharrazi's account, the three leaders agreed on "85%-90%" of the draft roadmap, with the president and foreign minister voicing no objection and Khamenei raising "some reservations as for some points". Guldimann reported in his memo that Kharrazi asked him at a meeting on May 2 to make "some minor changes in the previous draft," especially on the Middle East peace process.

In the final draft, which has now been made public, the bullet point on "U.S. aims" on the Middle East regarding the Palestinian-Israeli peace issue was changed from "acceptance of the Arab League Beirut declaration (Saudi initiative, two states-approach)" to simply "acceptance of the two-states-approach".

The intention behind that shift is made clearer by the only other substantive change in the newly released final draft. In the discussion of a possible "decision on the first mutual steps" the document suggests that the Iranians would issue a "statement that it supports a peaceful solution in the Middle East, that it accepts a solution which is accepted by the Palestinians and that it follows with interest the discussion on the Roadmap, presented by the Quartet." That formula would allow the Iranian side to maintain a position of support for "the Palestinians" in negotiations with Washington.

Guldimann's memo reports that Kharrazi told him all three leaders supported the initiative. But the Iranian diplomat asked him if he could pass the proposal "very confidentially to someone very high in the DoS [Department of State] in order to get to know the U.S. reaction on it." He also warned that, "if the initiative failed, and if anything about the new Iranian flexibility outline in it became known, they would -- also for internal reasons -- not be bound by it."

That was a clear indication that the Iranian leaders were afraid that their conservative critics would attack them if such a proposal did not bring desired results, charging that it showed weakness.

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines07/0218-06.htm

Monday, February 19, 2007

Global South Anglican website: twisting the witness of a martyr shepherd for their political ends
And other political comments on the goings-on in the Anglican Communion

I recently posted a commemoration of Archbishop Janani Luwum of Uganda, murdered on February 17, 1977 (he was last seen alive on Feb 16, and some celebrate him on that day). ++Luwum tried to ameliorate the abuses of Idi Amin's regime, but he ended up having to be martyred, possibly by Amin himself. Jesus said the good shepherd gives us their life for their flock; any reasonable person would agree that Janani Luwum was a good shepherd.

Janani Luwum was Ugandan. Archbishop Orombi, of Uganda, was one of those who walked apart from Communion at the recent Primates' Meeting. I do not know how ++Luwum would have responded to the present political crisis in the Anglican Communion. He might have walked away, and stood with Peter Akinola in his support of violating the human rights of LGBT Africans. He might have said stop this, this is not a doctrine central to our faith, and we have much bigger problems - African Anglican leaders like Archbishops Desmond Tutu and Njongonkulu Ndungane of South Africa and Bishop Mdimi Mhogolo of Central Tanganyika have said as much.

I do not know what he would have done, and I do not care. When I wrote my reflection, I mentioned nothing of our political crisis. ++Luwum's witness had nothing to do with this. It had to do with resistance to oppression, which is a theme of my blog.

The website Global South Anglican (www.globalsouthanglican.org) apparently had no such scruples. One poster wrote, "He would not compromise on Biblical truth and he paid the ultimate price," reminding Anglicans that Feb 16th was a very important day for them in direct reference to the current crisis.

Mark Harris, of the blog Preludium, had this to say: (anglicanfuture.blogspot.com)
"There is no doubt that the Archbishop was convinced and convicted by his faith that that that faith was biblically based. Was that a matter of not compromising on "biblical truth?" Yes of course if what is meant by biblical truth is justice for the poor and the oppressed, care for those in prison, praying with those about to be executed and suffering for that faith and witness."

Once again, ++Luwum's witness to Biblical truth had NOTHING to do with homosexuality. It had everything to do with resistance to oppression. Now, it's likely that he thought that homosexuality was wrong, given his social location. However, we don't know that. Biblical truth is also, as Harris points out, about justice for the oppressed etc. We can make a good case that ++Luwum would have taken the same tack as Desmond Tutu.

I posted a comment on the website criticizing them for using ++Luwum for political purposes. The comment was deleted - I expected no better of them. However, I didn't mention the Desmond Tutu angle.

(Right now, the GS Anglican website is down, and redirects to MSN.com. It is a good insight into the thinking of conservative Global South Anglican leaders, and has Asian and African contributors, so I suppose I hope it comes back soon.)

This particular call for witness among the GS Anglicans could have been because a sub-group, commisioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury, found that the Episcopal Church had mostly met the requirements of the Windsor Report - to apologize for consecrating Gene Robinson, to stop consecrating any other LGBT bishops, and to stop blessing same-sex unions. We passed the first two, they said, but need to work on the last; it is a valid local option in many Dioceses.

Well, the conservatives shouldn't have got so worked up. The Anglican Primates, as a group, have published a statement. They ask us to:

‘make an unequivocal common covenant’ not to authorize blessings of same-sex unions in their diocese or through the General Convention;

‘confirm that … a candidate for episcopal orders living in a same-sex union shall not receive the necessary consent’
(courtesy of Thinking Anglicans)

Liberal groups in the Anglican Communion have protested. On the flip side, ++Katharine Jefferts Schori asks Episcopalians to: (courtesy of Daily Episcopalian, blog.edow.org)

""It is clear that despite the subcommittee report, a number of the Primates were unhappy with General Convention's response, and clarification of that response is among the Primates' requests of the Episcopal Church," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, one of the Anglican Communion's 38 Primates, said after their meeting's final business session adjourned at 11 p.m. local time.

"There is awareness that these issues are of concern in many Provinces of the Communion, and that the Episcopal Church's charism is to continue to encourage the discussion," said Jefferts Schori, who will offer additional comment after further reflection and her nearly 20-hour journey back to New York."

"Overall, Jefferts Schori said the Primates' Meeting demonstrated "a positive sense of collegiality, especially in the Bible studies and among Provinces where these issues have been robustly discussed. In addition, a number of Provinces are engaged in the Listening Process, and that is positive.""


There will be difficult times ahead for all sides. Conservatives have been recommended not to consider seceding with church property (that's my understanding). On the flip side, TEC will need to respond to these demands, while honoring the faithful witness of our LGBT members. There are people throwing their hands up, saying "screw this, we don't need the Anglican Communion, it's full of shit anyway."

We are in a position where we may have to ask our LGBT members to wait for justice. Martin Luther King Jr reminds us that justice delayed is justice denied. By these words, asking them to wait for justice is a sin. This is especially true because the Church (in the catholic) sense has excluded them or forced them into the closet for so long - and we've seen what happens when people get forced into the closet with Rev Brent Dugan.

It would also be wrong, though to walking apart from the rest of the Anglican Communion without allowing them to engage us, and trying to engage them. That would be acting as if we know what's best for them, and to hell with them if they don't see that.

Now, frankly, this is exacly what I believe. With my words, I have called Global South Anglican leaders idiots and disgraceful. I have said that they don't know crap about interpreting the Bible. This is what I believe. However, this is not how I am going to act. I am going to act as a brother in Christ to them. If you've studied social psychology, you know that beliefs often don't correspond to actions. In fact, sometimes, when people are confronted with a situation, they act in a way that isn't consistent with their previously stated beliefs. And then if asked again, they change their beliefs.

My attitudes towards homosexuality and Biblican interpretation are not up for change. My attitudes towards Global South Anglicans are, and they will (hopefully) be changed by my actions of respectful engagement. This is how I hope my fellow liberal Episcopalians will act. Robert Ihloff and his Diocese's clergy decided not to do this, in response to the immense amount of hurt inflicted on us. My prayer is that other Episcopalians will do differently. The Global South has had hurt inflicted on them, but Jesus heals that hurt. Maybe we can trust in Jesus and start to talk with each other.
Latina prepares for Episcopal priesthood
Casper Star Tribune, Wyoming, US; found on epiScope (episcopalchurch.typepad.com/episcope)

By JESSICA RAVITZ
The Salt Lake Tribune Monday, February 19, 2007

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah -- Opportunities were limited where she came from, but Isabel Gonzalez never stopped dreaming. Even as a child, working beside her father in the fields of central Mexico, she saw herself serving God in big ways.

Raised in the Catholic tradition, however, the young girl never imagined what happened to her Feb. 10. Gonzalez was ordained a priest -- the first Latina priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Utah.

"I waited for this moment for so long," Gonzalez, 43, said before her ordination. "It means a lot, and I'm very excited."

She grew up in Tlaltenango, a small village in the state of Zacatecas, where Gonzalez said she was unable to attend high school. The closest high school back then, she said, was a five-hour commute, one way, from where she lived. She was one of 10 children, and despite the limitations in her sheltered life, she maintained her curiosity.

"I always wanted to learn more and more," she said. "My parents, they always encouraged us to do the best we can."

At 20, with her 6-month-old daughter in tow, Gonzalez moved to Salinas, Calif., to join a sister who had moved there. For five years, she spent her days surrounded by green onions -- first in the field, later in a packaging plant -- while attending evening classes to earn her General Educational Development diploma. One day, at the suggestion of a friend, she walked into an Episcopal church. Just looking at the female priest who led the service, her childhood dream morphed into something new, something bigger.

She married and had more children, eventually coming to Salt Lake City in 1994. She immediately began attending St. Mark's Cathedral. Within a couple years, after jobs that included one at a Midvale tortilla factory, she began to work full time for the Episcopal Diocese of Utah. Slowly, patiently, between running errands and doing maintenance jobs, she worked her way toward something higher.

But it wasn't until the Rev. Pablo Ramos arrived from Mexico in 1998 to expand the church's Latino ministry that Gonzalez got her break. For years she pursued independent studies with Ramos. They'd meet on Saturdays, and during the week she'd tackle her homework assignments. And while she was taking on greater responsibilities in the diocese, there still was something standing in her spiritual way. As a Spanish-speaking woman living in Utah, her options for seminary training were nil.

"There existed no way for Isabel to move ahead with her theological studies," Ramos explained. "The church wasn't sure how to deal with a Latino and make the ordination process work."

So they got creative. With help from the Episcopal seminary in Mexico City, Ramos devised a curriculum for Gonzalez. On top of that, two or three times a year, she'd leave her family for intensive coursework in Mexico. Her writings and competency were evaluated by long-distance instructors. Meantime, she began taking English classes at the University of Utah to ramp up her language skills.

The first big payoff, after eight years of study, came in June when she was ordained a deacon and began serving West Valley City's St. Stephen's Church and its Latino congregation, San Esteban. And now, her opportunity to serve God is even greater.

Gonzalez, a mother of four, will split her time between working with the church's growing Latino ministry -- which will include hospital chaplaincy -- and serving in the diocese. Her new responsibilities will be a welcome addition, Ramos said.

"She brings a female perspective and a voice for the Latino community that's very important," he said. "And she sets an example for other Latinas ... to try to accomplish what they want to be."

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Oh, dear: Bishop Robert Ihloff of Maryland disinvites Abp Kolini of West Africa, and my impassioned response

[Akrofi is one of the seven idiots who walked out of Communion, but that doesn't justify Iholff's actions; if he was still willing to come, I would have let him come. Jesus said to love your enemies; it heaps burning coals on their heads.]


+Ihloff's letter (posted on Titus 1:9):
The Most Reverend Justice O. Akrofi
Archbishop of West Africa and Bishop of Accra
Bishopscourt, P.O. Box GP 8
Accra, Ghana

February 17, 2007

Dear +Justice,

It is with sadness that I need to rescind my invitation to you to be with us in late March into early April, 2007. Yesterday I learned you were one of seven primates who have boycotted the Eucharist at the Primates Meeting in Dar es Salaam, and +Peter Akinola’s statement on behalf of the seven of you is in all the newspapers. I have received a number of emails from clergy in this Diocese expressing their disapproval of your action. The Diocesan Council met today and agrees that you cannot be welcomed in Maryland under the circumstances. For my own part, I am disappointed you would use the Holy Sacrament of our Lord’s Body and Blood as a political tool—I had assumed you sacramental theology was more thoroughly Anglican. Mostly I am sorry after so many years to end our personal relationship on this note.

It is obvious to everyone here that it would now be completely inappropriate for you to celebrate the Eucharist at our Cathedral on Palm Sunday. Surely, many parishioners would protest you visit by not receiving Communion from you. Since I do not allow such behavior in this Diocese, I cannot encourage it by your presence. Clearly it would be inappropriate for you to preach Tuesday in Holy Week to a combined group of Lutheran and Episcopal clergy, since you do not even share Communion with other Anglicans. Finally, it is sadly clear to Nancy and me that your presence at my retirement celebration is out of order as well. I give thanks for the eight years we have been in relationship; we have many friends in Accra and in Ghana, and I am aware that there are a number of them who will be shocked and grieved by your behavior. I have always shared honestly with you (even though I have not felt in the past two years you have been so honest in your sharing) and want to say we have great affection for the +Justice we knew in those earlier years. Since becoming Archbishop, you have changed and I do not feel I know you anymore.

I am not at this time calling for an end of the Companion Diocese relationship, although this development puts that relationship at risk. I am content to let the Holy Spirit guide our Dioceses into appropriate discernment (a discernment which will take place after my retirement and without my input). As a Diocese, Maryland is committed, as am I, to the continuation of projects already begun in Accra and relationships in Accra which I and many others here cherish. Our special Lenten offerings will go to assist children in your Diocese, I continue to be very supportive of Ghanaian Mothers’ Hope spearheaded by Debbi Frock, and we celebrate our ongoing Cursillo commitments.

Let me assure you I am not angry as I write this but deeply disappointed. The Diocese of Accra and its parishes remain on our Diocesan Prayer list from week-to-week, and you will remain in my prayers and those of our Diocesan family. Please continue to pray for us. There was much I had hoped to show you and tell you in your upcoming visit, much we had hoped to plan together, especially as it relates to youth ministry, a high priority for both of our Dioceses. Perhaps some of that can continue in some different form; personally, I am sad that I will not be a part of it.

Your faithful brother in Christ,

The Right Reverend Robert W. Ihloff
Bishop of Maryland

My (unsolicited) response:

Dear Bishop Ihloff,

I read your letter disinviting Archbishop Akrofi to your Diocese and to your retirement party, at the decision of yourself and the Diocesan Council. I know you did not ask for my advice, but here it is anyway: this action was irresponsible, gives a poor impression of Episcopalians, and makes the current situation worse.

I have no idea why Abp Akrofi would plan on coming to Maryland if he had decided to walk away from Communion with our Presiding Bishop, but that's irrelevant. If he was willing to come regardless, we would have had an opportunity to engage with him. If Maryland Episcopalians did not come to Communion with him, he would have had an opportunity to see for himself the hurt which his actions, and those of his colleagues, had caused Episcopalians. Who knows, at Lambeth or the next Primates' Meeting, there might only have been six Primates walking out: the seven who did this time minus Abp Akrofi. It should have been his decision whether or not to come, and whether or not to listen. It should not have been the Diocese's decision.

Additionally, there is a power dynamic at play. Akrofi is a Global South Anglican. His country has been colonized by Western nations, and Christians there have been denied a voice and access to institutional power for years. Our country continues to colonize Africa and other nations, economically, culturally, politically, and sometimes militarily. I know the Episcopal Church has often been at the forefront of fighting colonialism and its effects. But, your act of disinvitation comes from a superior to an inferior, in terms of nationality. It reinforces the power differential between our nations. It will only add to the hurt that the Global South Anglicans feel. Jesus, the one we follow, would have had none of this. He came to level differences in power, not to reinforce them.

I am not writing to excuse Abp Akrofi's decision to join his colleagues and refuse Communion with our Presiding Bishop. It was reprehensible. Having been born in Singapore (although I was confirmed as an Episcopalian), I have already written to Abp John Chew of SE Asia to express my anger. The problem is, disinviting Abp Kolini is not that different from him walking away. We are hurt and angry, but Christians love and are loved enough to overcome anger.

Yours in Christ,
Weiwen Ng
Canterbury House, University of Michigan Episcopal Student Ministry


Today's Dilbert cartoon is a funny but sad commentary on the US healthcare system. Uniquely among all European and North American countries, healthcare is linked to employment, and even more so than in Europe, employment is unstable for most people, even the rich (ie, people transition between jobs quite regularly). To compete successfully, companies have to cut costs. Healthcare costs are skyrocketing; the employer doesn't pay directly for healthcare (with some exceptions, like General Motors), but it does contract with an insurance company. The insurance company, to maintain profitability (or if it's a non-profit, just plain solvency) has to charge higher premiums or pass costs on to consumers. This cartoon is an illustration of the latter - only now, the costs have got so high that they apparently ditched the insurance plan.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Dear Archbishop Chew,

On the Church of Nigeria's website, there is a report that several Primates, yourself included, refused to share Holy Eucharist with the other Primates in Tanzania today. The report said, on behalf of the dissenting Primates, that this action was taken as a reminder of the brokenness of the Anglican Communion, and that it was a consequence of each province declaring its relationship with the Episcopal Church to be severely broken or impaired. It was also reported that you and Archbishop Peter Akinola met with Archbishop Rowan Williams before the Primates' Meeting started, apparently in an attempt to convince him to exclude the Episcopal Church's Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori, and Archbishop John Sentamu, from the Meeting.

This action pains me. As I understand it, the act of breaking bread together at Communion is what unifies us. We Anglicans do not demand uniformity of doctrine before coming to Communion. Some have accused the Episcopal Church of walking apart, but I have to wonder why it is seven Primates from the Global South who chose to walk apart at Communion. I also wonder why it's only seven this year - I recall more Primates chose to walk apart at the last Primates' Meeting.

The letter on the Church of Nigeria's website cites two passages of Scripture, Matthew 5:23-26 and 1 Corinthians 11:27-29, that purport to justify this decision. These passages tell us what to do or what will happen if we, individually, have unsettled grudges or are otherwise unworthy to receive Communion. They do not instruct us to judge others to see if they are worthy or not, and then to walk away or refuse them Communion. As I understand it, judging is God's job, not ours. Additionally, in Matthew 7, Jesus tells us: "Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you."

I was born in Singapore, your Diocese, and attended Anglican High School. I was actually raised Methodist, but my church also taught me that homosexuals were sinful and could change. However, I came to the US to study, and I met lesbian and gay Christians in the Episcopal Church and others, who were trying to live out their lives in accordance with God's will. I saw the love and faithfulness in their relationships. I also saw how the Episcopal Church was struggling to reconcile its understanding of the Bible with the witness of its gay and lesbian laypeople and clergy. I believe that the Windsor Report calls us to a listening process. Frankly, I see that many Global South leaders have failed to listen. Instead, they have insulted us by demanding that our duly-elected Primate be excluded from the Primates' Meeting. They have insulted us, as your predecessor did, by claiming that they do not recognize us as brothers and sisters in Christ unless we repent.

The Episcopal Church is not choosing to walk apart. We are trying to give all our members a place at the table while remaining in communion with other Anglicans worldwide. In frustration at the refusal to listen, some in my church are starting to get frustrated, and saying that we are better off without the rest of the Anglican Communion. Would you be willing to listen to their stories, and perhaps prove them wrong?

Finally, I have to remind you that your colleague, Abp Akinola, supports Nigerian legislation that would criminalize any attempt to advocate on behalf, or perhaps even meet with, gays and lesbians. The penalty proposed is five years in prison. Sodomy is already illegal in Nigeria, and carries a penalty of fourteen years in prison. The proposed legislation is widely recognized as a violation of human rights. Will you, as a Christian, stand by while your fellow Christian allows this to happen? All Anglicans should condemn this proposed legislation, and should in fact call for Nigeria to end the penalty against sodomy. Even if it is a sin, it should not fall under the purview of criminal law, or else we might as well imprison people for adultery or pre-marital sex.

Archbishop Chew, whether you recognize me as a brother in Christ or not is immaterial. I recognize you as my brother in Christ, and I ask you to consider if your actions were justified. I also invite you to respond to me, and to engage in dialogue with my Presiding Bishop, to whom I have copied this email.

Weiwen Ng
Canterbury House, University of Michigan Episcopal Student Ministry

[If he responds, I'll post it here, as well as my reply. I also copied our Presiding Bishop's office on this one. Let's see what happens. Keep in mind, though, Singaporean leaders don't tend to be very responsive to criticism.]
Seven Primates refuse Communion at Primates' Meeting

A statement posted on the Church of Nigeria's website is here: http://www.anglican-nig.org/GSPrimates_in_Tanzania.htm
These Primates apparently did this to remind us that communion has been broken by the Episcopal Church's actions. They demand our repentance before they can sit with us.

It is worth noting that there are a lot fewer Primates refusing Communion than at the last meeting, after TEC consecrated Gene Robinson. Anyway, the seven idiots are:

Abp. Peter Akinola (Nigeria)
Abp. John Chew (Southeast Asia)
Abp. Benjamin Nzimbi (Kenya)
Abp. Justice Akrofi (West Africa)
Abp. Henry Orombi (Uganda)
Abp. Gregory Venables (Southern Cone)
Abp. Emmanuel Kolini (Rwanda)

Archbishop John Chew's Province of SE Asia includes Singapore, my hometown. As such, I am especially ashamed of his actions. Are you listening, Abp Chew? In addition to this shameful act, it is reported that Chew and Akinola met the Archbishop of Canterbury before the Meeting, trying to persuade him to expell ++KJS and ++John Sentamu (whom was brought along to represent England, as ++Williams had difficulty doing that and playing the role of moderator at the same time).

Jim Naughton, of the blog Daily Episcopalian, has accused these Primates of making Communion about themselves, not about God. I agree. In the traditional Anglican understanding, the Holy Eucharist is what draws us into communion with each other. We do not demand complete theological agreement with each other, unlike some (and I emphasize, only some) Roman Catholic leaders who would exclude supporters of abortion rights from Communion. Among Anglicans, if you can't take Communion with some people, perhaps the problem is with you. No use telling that to a narcissist, of course.

In November 2003, after +Gene Robinson's consecration, John Chew's predecessor, Yong Ping Chung, released the following statement on the Diocese of Singapore's website (http://www.anglican.org.sg/break_communion_24nov2003.html).

"The Synod of the Province of the Anglican Church of South East Asia (‘the Province’) unanimously reject the purported consecration of Dr Gene J Robinson (‘Robinson’) on 2 November 2003 by the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (‘ECUSA’) in New Hampshire, as a bishop in the Anglican Church. The Province views the purported consecration as a flagrant disregard of the fundamental teachings of the Bible and the long established doctrines of the Church.

As Dr Gene J Robinson is a practising homosexual who had divorced his wife and has for the last 13 years been living with a male partner, the Province cannot and do not recognize his consecration and ministry in the Anglican church.

In view of ECUSA’s action in proceeding with the consecration despite the warnings and pleas of a large majority of Anglican churches worldwide, the Province regrets that communion with the ECUSA as well as those who voted for the consecration and those who participated in the consecration service is now broken.
This means that the Province no longer treats those in ECUSA who carried out and supported the act of consecration as brothers and sisters in Christ until and unless they repent of their action and return to embrace Biblical truths. At the same time, the Province remains in fellowship with the faithful believers within ECUSA who rightly oppose and reject the erroneous actions of their house.

This decision was made unanimously at an Extraordinary Meeting of the Synod held in Kudat, Sabah, Malaysia on 20 November 2003. A copy of the resolution is attached for general information."

Some Global South leaders are obsessed with homosexuality, even more than most of the actual homosexuals I know. When the Episcopal Church consecrates a bishop who is gay, that is seen as us forcing homosexuality on everyone else. It is an ugly truth, but repeatedly, TEC has been accused of imposing its will on the rest of the Anglican Communion. It is true that in the past, Western missionaries forced their cultures in addition to their religion onto indigenous people, at the expense of indigenous cultures. We are, to some extent, seeing the aftereffects of cultural and religious colonialism. Still, this is no excuse for their actions.

Even today, though, too many Global South Christians listen to quacks promoting extremist doctrines, rather than more moderate Christian scholars. I can say that because I learned those quack doctrines growing up. I was taught not to believe in evolution. I was taught that the Beatles were Satanic (partly because much of their music was written on drugs), and that I had to stop listening to them - that caused a very ugly fight with my mom. I was taught Christian Zionist eschatology, and the Methodist Church in Singapore utterly failed to condemn the Israeli occupation, despite the fact that Methodists are supposed to have a strong social conscience. And of course, I was taught to avoid "homosexual temptations". The aftereffects of colonialism only reinforce these false teachings.

Western churches must forever renounce colonialism in all forms, or else we will keep paying for it. We must reach out as partners - NOT as superiors - to our Global South counterparts, and help undo the legacy that some of our ancestors created. And we must hold our own governments accountable for their actions that continue to colonize the Global South.

That's a long-term solution, though. In the short term, we will have to ride this out. We will have to balance remaining in the Anglican Communion with ensuring that our LGBT members have an equal place at the table. It won't be easy.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Citizens Funds (a Socially Responsible Investing firm): inquiries on activities in Sudan

Citizens Funds is an SRI firm which invests only in companies that pass social and environmental screens. SRI is a growing trend worldwide. SRI firms will exclude companies that fail their screens, will engage as shareholders with companies to improve their social and environmental responsiveness, and will sometimes make investments targeted at low-income communities with low access to credit.

Many Americans are concerned with the genocide in Sudan, as they should be. Fidelity has blatantly refused to engage their clients and their fund shareholders who have demanded that they cease investment in companies that enable the genocide by providing funds (usually through oil royalties) to the government. They didn't answer my email, not even with a form letter.

Citizens, on the other hand, has queryed companies it believes may derive some revenues from Sudanese operations. The following companies have responded to their requests for information:

3M (Ticker MMM, diversified industrial)
Metlife (ticker MET, insurance)
Bank of New York (BNY, does what you think it does)
Ingersoll-Rand (IR, industrial machinery)
Baker Hughes (BHI, oil exploration)
Mellon Financial (MEL, financial)
Northern Trust (NTRS, financial)
Pepsico (PEP, you know what they sell)
Coke (KO, you know what they sell, too)
Volvo (VOLVY, sells automobiles and trucks)
Medtronic (MDT, medical devices)
Stryker (SYK, orthopedic devices)
Toyota (TM, cars, including the Prius, which I want someday)

Citizens has argued that instant divestment would deprive them of the ability to engage the companies as shareholders. Yes, it's a one dollar, one vote sort of deal, and there are firms out there that are a lot larger than Citizens. But the best companies do listen to their shareholders' concerns. Either way, there's value in both approaches to engaging corporations to align their behavior with human rights.

Of course, some corporations won't listen (like Exxon Mobil, Millstone Award recipient for March, and I doubt the Chinese oil companies involved in Sudan will listen, either). And most institutional shareowners (Fidelity, Vanguard, etc) don't consider these decisions their purview, which is monumentally irresponsible. But, we do try.
Janani Luwum, murdered Feb 17


O God, whose Son the Good Shepherd laid down his life for the sheep: We give you thanks for your faithful shepherd, Janani Luwum, who after his Savior’s example gave up his life for the people of Uganda. Grant us to be so inspired by his witness that we make no peace with oppression, but live as those who are sealed with the cross of Christ, who died and rose again, and now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.



Janini Luwum was the Anglican Archbishop of Uganda from 1974-77. This was during the time of Idi Amin's regime. Amin was a brutal, power-hungry dictator, and a murdered. The Langi and the Acholi were victims of state-inspired violence during his reign; Milton Obote, the Prime Minister of Uganda whom Amin deposed in a coup, was Lango, and Luwum was Acholi. The Asian population suffered violence from the military, and in 1972 they were expelled from Nigeria.

Luwum was elected archbishop in 1974, and allowed Amin to cultivate a relationship with him. Amin was likely seeking credibility. Luwum tried to moderate Amin's excesses.

But Amin was not a man whose excesses could be moderated. The Anglican and Roman Catholic churches increasingly worked together to try to respond to him, and Uganda's Muslims joined them.

“While the opportunity is there, I preach the gospel with all my might. My conscience is clear before God that I have not sided with the present government (Amin’s), which is utterly self-seeking. I have been threatened many times. Whenever I have the opportunity, I have told the president the things the church disapproves of. God is my witness.”

Luwum delievered a letter to Amin on February 12, 1977, protesting the security forces' use of disappearances and arbitrary killings. (Disappear: (of a person) go missing or (in coded political language) be killed). Amin arrested Luwum and two Cabinet ministers, Erinayo Wilson Oryema and Charles Oboth Ofumbi, on fabricated charges of planning a coup. They were tortured and shot to death. Some say that Amin personally shot Luwum.

Amin escaped justice, going into exile in Saudi Arabia. Luwum is commemorated as a martyr in the Church of England and in the Episcopal Church, and his statue is part of a gallery of ten 20th century martyrs at Westminster Abbey in London. Sadly, I didn't know of Luwum when I was in London this summer, so I didn't manage to get a picture of his statue. The picture here is from Westminster Abbey's own site.

http://www.westminster-abbey.org/tour/martyrs/3_jl.htm

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Sultan Assures Christians of Safety
The Tide News (Nigeria)

Sultan assures Christians of safety
• Wednesday, Feb 14, 2007
The Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, has assured Christians in the state of safety and religious tolerance.

The assurance was contained in a statement issued Sunday in Abuja on the Sultan’s visit to the Primate of the Church of Nigeria Anglican Communion), Most Revd. Peter Akinola.

Abubakar recalled that as a student at the Nigerian Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), Kuru, near Jos, he worked on a project on the promotion of Christian/ Muslim relationship.

He promised to make a copy of the study available to the Church.

I have told Christians in the state that whenever they are attacked, they should run to the palace. I will stand between them and whosoever wants to attack them,” he said.

The statement quoted the primate as expressing appreciation to the Sultan and urged him to be a father of all in the state.

He stressed the need for religious tolerance and mutual respect by the faithful of the two religions to ensure national unity and progress.

[Editor: There is much violence between Muslims and Christians in Nigeria. +1 for religious tolerance.]

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Anglican Primates meeting in Tanzania, likely to be acrimonious, Anglican Communion might split

First off, for my non-Anglican readers, a Primate is the chief bishop of a province, which spans one or more countries. Anglican, Catholic, etc Primates are not to be confused with primate: mammal of the order that includes lemurs, bush monkeys, tarsiers, marmosets, monkeys, apes, and humans, although of course it is true that all Primates are primates. This distinction caused a moment of levity when some friends and I were discussing evolution over lunch, and one of them made a non sequitur about the outgoing (Anglican) Primate of Australia.

Some conservative leaders are meeting before the actual meeting starts. Davis Mac-Iyalla, of Changing Attitude (Nigeria), met personally with Abp Peter Akinola (whom I have excoriated mercilessly on this blog). CA is a global LGBT organization. Davis is gay, and Nigerian. Davis is appealing to the Primates, "in the name of God," to oppose the legislation in Nigeria that would criminalize advocacy by and on behalf of the LGBT community there. He has previously received death threats for his work in Nigeria. Please pray for his safety. At least this time, Akinola didn't run away.

http://www.changingattitude.org.uk/news/newsitem.asp?id=278

Meanwhile, some Global South leaders have suggested that they would not sit at the same table as the Episcopal Church's new Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts Schori. Some want to harangue her, and/or eject her from the meeting. Their reasons are, I believe, a combination of her gender, her support for LGBT rights including ordination and marriage, and her relatively liberal theology. I hope they will reconsider. They will make themselves look un-Christian if they do so.

Lastly, an article by Stephen Bates in the Guardian is instructive. Take his article with a pinch of salt, but Bates makes the case that Akinola is motivated by power, consciously or not. He has (very, very sadly) replaced Desmond Tutu as the most prominent African Anglican leader, and his agenda is primarily condemning homosexuality rather than condemning evil.

"In the past, this biannual meeting [Ed: Primates' Meeting] of the world's 38 Anglican primates has been a congenial, consensual affair: a chance for prayers and discussions and getting to know each other. The last time they took a vote was in 1981, and that was a unanimous vote of thanks. But two years ago, at their last gathering in Northern Ireland, the developing-world primates turned on the Americans and Williams because of the gay issue. They refused Williams's plea that they should attend communion together - an unprecedented snub - and one white primate told me he had been shocked to overhear Akinola telling his colleagues about Williams: "He'll do what we tell him.""

"Today it will be Akinola calling the shots among the bishops gathered in Tanzania, and he is enjoying his new-found eminence. After more than a century of being patronised, overlooked and ignored by their white proselytisers, the church's black brethren are not going to take it any more. And none is more powerful than Akinola. " [Ed: Rowan Williams technically calls the shots at the actual Primates' Meeting; Bates means Akinola is calling the shots now, when the conservatives are gathered.]

http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,,2012434,00.html

Frankly, Akinola is acting as if we in the West are trying to sodomize him and his fellow Africans. The Episcopal Church's actions are perceived as arrogant and unilateral. Indeed, America's actions around the world are perceived in the same way. In some way, we are paying the price for cultural and religious colonization of the Global South, and for denying them their rightful place in Anglican (and other) polity. Colonialism is often perceived in similar ways as sexual violence. This is NOT to excuse Akinola's actions; they are evil, plain and simple. However, Americans and others in the West need to put them in context. Too many times, we have acted with arrogance and paternalism. When we get through this, we have to remember never to do so again. Else, the tables may turn on us.

And by the way, there's a little bit about Nolbert Kunonga in the article (I've previously singled Kunonga out for fire and judgment on account of his corruption):

"Some English bishops rush to defend the archbishop. He is in fierce competition, they say, for souls, and lives, in a region where militant Islam is also on the march - as is charismatic Christian Pentecostalism. Yet curiously, Akinola seems much more obsessed with what gay white men get up to than with some of the abuses in Africa. He has uttered not a word of condemnation of Bishop Nolbert Kunonga of Harare, a crony of the Mugabe regime, who has been accused by his own black parishioners of seizing white property, evicting black farm workers, and calling for the assassination of his church opponents. Indeed, Akinola invited Kunonga to address a plenary session of the All African Conference of Bishops."

As for Peter Akinola, he is a disgrace upon the Anglican Communion, Christianity in Africa, and Christ's holy catholic church. He may very well go his own way, and secede from the Anglican Communion. My first reaction might be to celebrate, but this maniac will lead millions of Nigerian Christians and other African Christians astray on a road of hate, arrogance, and willful ignorance. God will judge him on the last day, but it's going to be too late for too many people.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Teens prosecuted for racy photos
From Police Blotter, posted on CNET News

When: Florida state appeals court rules on January 19.

Outcome: A 2-1 majority upholds conviction on grounds the girl produced a photograph featuring the sexual conduct of a child.

What happened, according to court documents:
Combine unsupervised teenagers, digital cameras, and e-mail, and, given sufficient time, you'll end up with risque photographs on a computer somewhere.

There's a problem with that: Technically, those images constitute child pornography. That's what 16-year old Amber and 17-year old Jeremy, her boyfriend, both residents of the Tallahassee, Fla., area, learned firsthand. (Court documents include only their initials, A.H. and J.G.W., so we're using these pseudonyms to make this story a little easier to read.)

[Editor: This is moronic. The majority opinion seems to be that she had no expectation of privacy since she sent the photos by internet, since an email could be intercepted or a computer could be hacked; the dissenting judge said that a letter could be opened, too, or a friend could find the photos, scan them, and disseminate them. I tend to agree with the dissenting judge.

I have no idea if she'll have her lawyer take this to the Supreme Court. That will cost a lot of money unless this guy is doing this pro-bono. And now, will she be labelled a sex offender? She will, I assume, have a juvenile record, which will likely be sealed. So, perhaps she's not guilty of a sex offense, but her boyfriend was charged with possession of child pornography, and he's got a good shot at being labelled a sex offender. The judge writing the majority opinion speculated that he "could" disseminate the photographs. Even if his decision is legally correct, the judge is a moron.]

On March 25, 2004, Amber and Jeremy took digital photos of themselves naked and engaged in unspecified "sexual behavior." The two sent the photos from a computer at Amber's house to Jeremy's personal e-mail address. Neither teen showed the photographs to anyone else.

Court records don't say exactly what happened next--perhaps the parents wanted to end the relationship and raised the alarm--but somehow Florida police learned about the photos.

Amber and Jeremy were arrested. Each was charged with producing, directing or promoting a photograph featuring the sexual conduct of a child. Based on the contents of his e-mail account, Jeremy was charged with an extra count of possession of child pornography.

Court records don't say exactly what happened next...but somehow Florida police learned about the photos.
Some more background: Under a 1995 ruling in a case called B.B. v. State, the Florida Supreme Court said that a 16-year old could not be found delinquent for having sex with another 16-year old.

"The crux of the state's interest in an adult-minor situation is the prevention of exploitation of the minor by the adult," the majority said at the time. The court ruled that a Florida statute punishing sex between teens was "unconstitutional as applied to this 16-year-old as a basis for a delinquency proceeding."

In other words, under Florida law, Amber and Jeremy would be legally permitted to engage in carnal relations, but they're criminals if they document it.

Amber's attorney claimed that the right to privacy protected by the Florida Constitution shielded the teen from prosecution, an argument that a trial judge rejected. Amber pleaded no contest to the charges and was placed on probation, though she reserved her right to appeal her constitutional claim.

By a 2-1 vote, the appeals court didn't buy it. Judge James Wolf, a former prosecutor, wrote the majority opinion.

Wolf speculated that Amber and Jeremy could have ended up selling the photos to child pornographers ("one motive for revealing the photos is profit") or showing the images to their friends. He claimed that Amber had neither the "foresight or maturity" to make a reasonable estimation of the risks on her own. And he said that transferring the images from a digital camera to a PC created innumerable problems: "The two computers (can) be hacked."

Judge Philip Padovano dissented. He wrote that the law "was designed to protect children from abuse by others, but it was used in this case to punish a child for her own mistake. In my view, the application of this criminal statute to the conduct at issue violates the child's right to privacy under Article 1, Section 23 of the Florida Constitution."

Excerpt from Wolf's majority opinion:
As previously stated, the reasonable expectation that the material will ultimately be disseminated is by itself a compelling state interest for preventing the production of this material. In addition, the statute was intended to protect minors like appellant and her co-defendant from their own lack of judgment...

Appellant was simply too young to make an intelligent decision about engaging in sexual conduct and memorializing it. Mere production of these videos or pictures may also result in psychological trauma to the teenagers involved.

Further, if these pictures are ultimately released, future damage may be done to these minors' careers or personal lives. These children are not mature enough to make rational decisions concerning all the possible negative implications of producing these videos.

In addition, the two defendants placed the photos on a computer and then, using the Internet, transferred them to another computer. Not only can the two computers be hacked, but by transferring the photos using the Net, the photos may have been and perhaps still are accessible to the provider and/or other individuals. Computers also allow for long-term storage of information which may then be disseminated at some later date. The state has a compelling interest in seeing that material which will have such negative consequences is never produced.

Excerpt from Padovano's dissent:
If a minor cannot be criminally prosecuted for having sex with another minor, as the court held in B.B., it follows that a minor cannot be criminally prosecuted for taking a picture of herself having sex with another minor. Although I do not condone the child's conduct in this case, I cannot deny that it is private conduct. Because there is no evidence that the child intended to show the photographs to third parties, they are as private as the act they depict...

The majority concludes that the child in this case did not have a reasonable expectation that the photographs would remain private. To support this conclusion, the majority speculates about the many ways in which the photographs might have been revealed to others. The e-mail transmission might have been intercepted. The relationship might have ended badly. The boyfriend might have wanted to show the photo to someone else to brag about his sexual conquest. With all due respect, I think these arguments are beside the point. Certainly there are circumstances in which the photos might have been revealed unintentionally to third parties, but that would always be the case.

That the Internet is easily hacked, as the majority says, is not material. The issue is whether the child intended to keep the photos private, not whether it would be possible for someone to obtain the photos against her will and thereby to invade her privacy. The majority states that the child "placed the photos on a computer and then, using the Internet, transferred them to another computer," as if to suggest that she left them out carelessly for anyone to find. That is not what happened. She sent the photos to her boyfriend at his personal e-mail address, intending to share them only with him.

The method the child used to transmit the photos to her boyfriend carries some danger of disclosure, but so do others. If the child had taken a printed photograph and placed it in her purse, it might have been disclosed to third parties if her purse had been lost or stolen. If she had mailed it to her boyfriend in an envelope, it might have been revealed if the envelope had been delivered to the wrong address and mistakenly opened. As these examples illustrate, there is always a possibility that something a person intends to keep private will eventually be disclosed to others. But we cannot gauge the reasonableness of a person's expectation of privacy merely by speculating about the many ways in which it might be violated.

The critical point in this case is that the child intended to keep the photographs private. She did not attempt to exploit anyone or to embarrass anyone. I think her expectation of privacy in the photographs was reasonable. Certainly, an argument could be made that she was foolish to expect that, but the expectation of a 16-year-old cannot be measured by the collective wisdom of appellate judges who have no emotional connection to the event. Perhaps if the child had as much time to reflect on these events, she would have eventually concluded, as the majority did, that there were ways in which these photos might have been unintentionally disclosed. That does not make her expectation of privacy unreasonable.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Rev Bradley Schmeling decision: Disciplinary committee suggests that ELCA allow practicing homosexuals to serve as clergy, delays his suspension until after Synod meets

I'd been checking the website of Lutherans Concerned North America (www.lcna.org, the ELCA's LGBT ministry) for news on Brad's case. Madpriest beat me to it.

If you check some news articles on the web, you'll see that Brad has been suspended. This is correct: as of Aug 15, the committee has ordered that he be removed from the clergy roster.

Aug 15 is quite some time away. In fact, it is after their next synod meeting. The committee has respectfully suggested that the ELCA:

1) Revise their regulations (Definitions and Guidelines for Discipline and Vision and Expectation) to allow practicing homosexuals to serve as clergy. They believe that the previous restrictions were at best bad policy, and at worst violations of the ELCA Constitution.

2) Permit the reinstatement of clergy who left or were removed because they entered into same-sex relationships.

Their decision is posted here: http://www.lcna.org/lcna_downloads/schmeling_decision.pdf
It is a legal document, so it is a little long.

The ELCA has struggled with this issue before. They obviously had not managed to remove the restrictions. Brad may still face dismissal: the panel has concluded (I'm pretty sure) that if the restrictions are upheld, they have no choice but to remove him. His church has pledged to keep him even if that happens, but I pray they will not have to resort to this.

Some of you may have heard of the Institute for Religion and Democracy, a right-wing organization funded by wealthy ultra-conservatives, which is funding groups in the Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches which are attempting to keep these churches from moving to accept LGBT individuals and their relationships. If the ELCA makes the same move, these people will target the ELCA as well.

North Korea's official name in English is the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The IRD is as democratic as the North Koreans. And they are as religious as Peter Akinola, and the Protestant and Catholic churches that supported Nazi Germany.
1LT Ehren Watada: Mistrial

1LT Watada's trial ended when the judge declared a mistrial. 1LT Watada faced up to four years in prison.

He will likely be retried. His lawyer is attempting to argue that jeopardy has attached, and that the government cannot retry him based on double jeopardy. The military wants to prosecute Lt Watada, and this will probably go to appeals court.

"Military judge Lt. Col. John Head said he did not believe Watada, who is from Honolulu, fully understood a document he signed admitting to elements of the charges against him.

The judge announced his decision after Watada, under questioning with the military jury absent, said he never intended to admit he had a duty to go to Iraq with his fellow soldiers -- one element of the crime of missing troop movement.

Watada told the judge he understood what he had signed but was not admitting guilt since he believed he still had a defense -- that the war was illegal.

"I'm not seeing we have a meeting of the minds here," the judge said. "And if there is not a meeting of the minds, there's not a contract."" - Melanthia Mitchell, Honolulu Star Bulletin (http://starbulletin.com/2007/02/08/news/story01.html)

I will continue to pray for Lt Watada.

Meanwhile, I would like to respond to a comment made on my earlier post (http://weiwentg.blogspot.com/2007/01/prayers-for-1st-lt.html). Sue argues that Lt Watada is being needlessly made into "some sort of poster child" for refusing to deploy.

"If he was wanting to make a stand for his beliefs, he would have done so by filing for his CO status. All I hear in the media is that he is "courageous", FOR WHAT? I will NOT applaud soliders like him, a true CO will not run away, nor refuse they will file thru proper paperwork."

As I replied, CO status is only granted if soldiers declare objection to war in general. Lt Watada thinks that the war in Iraq, specifically, is illegal. In fact, he requested deployment to Afghanistan or another zone, but the Army refused. Only then did he denounce the war and refuse to deploy. Frankly, he has a pretty good chance of going to prison. Sue may be able to make a good argument that he is misguided, but if she thinks Watada is a coward, I would remind her that mental health counselling is available.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Haggard pronounced "completely heterosexual"
NY Times: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/us/AP-Haggard-Sex-Allegations.html?hp&ex=1170824400&en=e85aa315c9092d7e&ei=5094&partner=homepage

[Editor: Haggard is completely deceiving himself, and the 4 "ministers" who are working with him are either completely insane or complete quacks.]

DENVER (AP) -- One of four ministers who oversaw three weeks of intensive counseling for the Rev. Ted Haggard said the disgraced minister emerged convinced that he is ''completely heterosexual.''

Haggard also said his sexual contact with men was limited to the former male prostitute who came forward with sexual allegations, the Rev. Tim Ralph of Larkspur told The Denver Post for a story in Tuesday's edition.

''He is completely heterosexual,'' Ralph said. ''That is something he discovered. It was the acting-out situations where things took place. It wasn't a constant thing.''

Ralph said the board spoke with people close to Haggard while investigating his claim that his only extramarital sexual contact happened with Mike Jones. The board found no evidence to the contrary.

''If we're going to be proved wrong, somebody else is going to come forward, and that usually happens really quickly,'' he said. ''We're into this thing over 90 days and it hasn't happened.''

Haggard resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals last year after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced. He was also forced out from the 14,000 New Life Church that he founded years ago in his basement after Jones alleged Haggard paid him for sex and sometimes used methamphetamine when they were together. Haggard, who is married, has publicly admitted to ''sexual immorality.''

Haggard said in an e-mail Sunday, his first communication in three months to church members, that he and his wife, Gayle, plan to pursue master's degrees in psychology. The e-mail said the family hasn't decided where to move but that they were considering Missouri and Iowa.

Another oversight board member, the Rev. Mike Ware of Westminster, said the group recommended the move out of town and the Haggards agreed.

''This is a good place for Ted,'' Ware said. ''It's hard to heal in Colorado Springs right now. It's like an open wound. He needs to get somewhere he can get the wound healed.''

It was also the oversight board that strongly urged Haggard to go into secular work.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Earth-friendly hangars coming to a dry-cleaner near you
Michael Kanellos, CNet News: http://news.com.com/2100-11395_3-6156464.html?part=rss&tag=2547-1_3-0-5&subj=news

HangerNetwork is probably one of the few companies that can trace its roots to a carpet stain.

The idea for the company--which makes a dry cleaner hanger made entirely from recycled paper--came after founder and Chief Operating Officer J.D. Schulman's mother asked him to throw away a bunch of old wire hangers. He put them in the garbage, the hangers poked a hole in the bag, and gravy dripped on her white carpet when Schulman took the garbage out, says HangerNetwork CEO Bob Kantor.

The result was the EcoHanger, a sturdy replacement for wire hangers that can be folded and tossed into the ordinary household recycling bin. Because they biodegrade relatively quickly, the hanger conceivably could displace significant amounts of difficult-to-dispose-of garbage every year.

"3.5 billion wire hangers go into U.S. landfills every year, and they sit in there for over a hundred years," Kantor said.


Perhaps just as important, the company says it can bring these hangers to market in an economical way that makes it attractive for dry cleaners to switch. HangerNetwork doesn't sell its hangers. It gives them free to dry cleaners, who ordinarily have to pay about 8 cents per wire hanger.

So who foots the bill? National advertisers pay HangerNetwork to put ads on the hangers, which then stare consumers in the face when they get dressed in the morning.

"We have Van Heusen shirts, L'Oreal, Dunkin' Donuts, Mitchum antiperspirant," Kantor said. "On average, (the hanger) stays in your closet six to eight weeks."

The company is already pulling in "multimillions" in ad revenue, he said. Ad campaigns can be targeted at men or women and will be available nationwide or aimed at specific markets. The ad campaigns start at 250,000 hangers.

The company this week announced it has landed $8 million in venture dollars from Kodiak Venture Partners and Sigma Partners, and Kantor said the company will use the money on introducing itself to thousands of independent dry cleaners nationwide. So far, the company has mostly sold its hangers in the New York metropolitan area, but now it is expanding nationwide. In about two weeks, the hangers will start popping up in dry cleaners in San Francisco and a few other major metropolitan markets, Kantor said.

Cleaners Supply, the largest distributor of dry cleaning products in the U.S., offers the free hangers from the front page of its Web site. The supply outfit serves approximately 35,000 dry cleaners.

The company reflects how many clean-tech companies are marketing themselves, touting their green attributes but giving equal weight to the idea that they can compete with products made of standard materials. Cereplast of Santa Monica, Calif., for instance, has come up with a way to make forks, knives and other disposable products out of cornstarch, rather than petroleum byproducts. The forks can be safely put into a landfill, and the cornstarch blend is comparable to traditional materials.

Technically speaking, the EcoHanger is made from 34-point paperboard (a relatively thick paper) that is folded onto itself. The hanger is then glued and laminated for extra strength. In the end, the hanger is strong enough to hold clothes, but remains flexible. The company has sought patents on the device.

The benefits the EcoHanger has over wire hangers pave the way for it to become an ad vehicle, asserted Kantor. After all, it gets rid of a device--wire hangers--that many people don't like or don't know how to get rid of. Even many dry cleaners now refuse to take back wire hangers. Thus, any potential resistance to a new form of advertising coming into the home gets outweighed by environmental benefits and easier disposal, he said. To use advertising industry buzzwords, the ads are "invited" into the home.

Advertisers also benefit because the ads can last longer than other forms of collateral advertisements. Those insulating cardboard coffee rings now ubiquitous in coffee shops are kept only until people are done with their coffee. The EcoHanger can be (and often is) reused by the customer, Kantor said. Thus, a given customer will see the siren song for Dunkin' Donuts a few times a month. (Interestingly, the doughnut chain was also one of the first advertisers to sign up with Massive, which inserts ads into video games. Massive subsequently got bought by Microsoft.) The company says its cost per impression comes to around 4.5 cents.

The ads, Kantor added, are also tough to miss.

Has the company thought about adopting the famous wire hanger line from the movie Mommie Dearest as a motto or jingle? Yes, Kantor admitted, but he said there are issues with royalties.