September 20, 2014

New Priest Tells Same Sex Couple to Divorce or No Sacraments

 St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Lewistown, Montana. Wikimedia Commons
(Photo: Tribune file photo)

 Can you see the love?
When a new priest was assigned to St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Lewistown, Montana, parishioners probably didn’t expect it to make national headlines. But four days after the Rev. Samuel Spiering assumed his new post, he told one married same-sex couple they would no longer be able to receive sacraments in the church or be part of any the church’s ministries in any way unless they divorced, the Great Falls Tribune reported.
  Paul Huff, 73, and Tom Wojtowick, 66, have belonged to the Catholic Church their entire lives. They have been together for 30 years and have been active members of St. Leo’s since they moved to the town in 2003. On May 31, 2013, they got married in Seattle, where same-sex marriage has been legal since 2012. According to Huff, Spiering left a voicemail message on the couple’s answering machine on Aug. 6 asking one of the two men to return his call. “He said, 'I heard a rumor that you two got married,'" Huff told the Great Falls Tribune, recalling the conversation he had with the priest on the phone. The next day, the couple met Spiering in his office who told the men that their same-sex marriage violated the teachings of the church. They would no longer be allowed to receive Communion and were removed from their voluntary posts. Wojtowick is the church’s organist, and an accompanist and choir member. Huff sings in the choir and is a cantor, according to the Billings Gazette.
Wojtowick and Huff said they spoke with both Spiering and Bishop Michael Warfel (who was on the phone). An agreement was made where the couple would sign a restoration statement that supported the notion that marriage is between a man and a woman. The couple agreed.  
“It was not our intent to challenge that [concept], but to have the rights of civic protections in our old age,” Wojtowick said.
When it came time to sign the statement on Aug. 25, the priest told them they would also need to establish a timeline for the two men to divorce and cease living together -- a stipulation Wojtowick and Huff did not expect, and did not agree to.
Since the news broke, Huff says that at least 40 congregants have either refused to attend Mass or expressed disapproval of the priest’s action. The divide is so pronounced Warfel has scheduled a meeting Saturday to discuss with parishioners the reasons behind the church’s decision -- saying it's in line with the church’s teachings.
“Either I uphold what Catholic teachings are or, by ignoring it or permitting it, I’m saying I disagree with what I’m ordained to uphold,” Warfel told the Billings Gazette. He added that the decision stems more from the Catholic Church’s view on marriage, not homosexuality.
“This is not animus against someone who happens to be a homosexual; this issue is the same-sex marriage,” he said. “A lot of people put those two together, and obviously there’s a connection, but it’s not the same thing.”

Gays Adopting is gone from Weird to the Salvation of so Many Kids


It used to be that the idea of gay people raising kids spooked lots of people, who thought of us only as pedophiles, not as parents. In fact, we lost a long series of court cases about the freedom to marry based on judges saying that straight folks were better for children, and therefore it made sense to exclude same-sex couples from marriage (huh?).
For instance, New York's highest court upheld the state's marriage law in 2006 by saying that "The Legislature could rationally believe that it is better, other things being equal, for children to grow up with both a mother and a father."
So it was refreshing to see a recent federal appeals court rule for gay people in one of the ACLU's freedom-to-marry cases by pointing to our kids. Noting that gay people have adopted a lot of children, the court made the common-sense observation that having those parents marry would be good for their kids.
This stunning change – from losing marriage cases because of judges' fears for the welfare of our children, to winning them because of judges' concerns for the welfare of those same kids – shows how deeply America's view of gay people has changed. The country has gone from thinking of gay people as deviant, overly sexualized beings, to recognizing us as regular folks and seeing our humanity. The shift is driving the massive change in public opinion about, and in the policy environment for, lesbians and gay men across the country.
The shift springs in large part from our increasing visibility: more and more people living openly as lesbians and gay men in all parts of their lives, more and more gay people raising children, and the growing prominence of the marriage issue in public discourse. As America learns more about gay people's lives, it sees us as neighbors, not perverts; as parents, not predators; and as families, not freaks. Now that the judiciary is starting to see us this way as well, I'm optimistic about more court victories for our equality.
It's promising that the Supreme Court is now considering petitions to review that recent marriage equality ruling – which involved the marriage laws of Indiana andWisconsin – along with petitions in marriage cases from three other states: Oklahoma, Utah, and Virginia. The court could take up the issue as early as its conference on September 29th.
No matter which of these cases the Supreme Court chooses (and I think it’s likely that it takes two), I'm convinced that the stories of our families and our children will be what moves the justices, and the country, toward our greatest legal victory yet.
By James Esseks, Director, ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender & AIDS Project 

S.F. Board of Supervisors Scott Wiener Says He Uses Truvada as PrEp


Scott Wiener, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, made an unusual public announcement on Wednesday: He takes Truvada, a daily antiviral pill, to greatly reduce his risk of contracting H.I.V.

Taking the pills is a practice known as pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP, and some researchers believe it may reduce the risk of infection by 99 percent if patients take their medication daily as prescribed. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2012, PrEP has increasingly been embraced by public health authorities and is one of three planks of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan in New York to sharply cut new H.I.V. infections.

But it carries a stigma in some parts of the gay population, and Mr. Wiener appears to be the first public official to disclose that he’s personally on it.

“A much larger segment of gay men should be taking a close look at PrEP,” Mr. Wiener, who represents the same Castro-based district once held by Harvey Milk, said in an interview on Wednesday. “I hope that my being public about my use of PrEP can help people take a second look at it.”

Scott Wiener, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, at City Hall in San Francisco on Wednesday. He supports a plan to subsidize Truvada for residents of the city regardless of their income. Credit Thor Swift for The New York Times
According to data from the San Francisco Department of Public Health, there were 359 new H.I.V. infections in the city in 2013, 86 percent of them among men who have sex with men. Authorities including the World Health Organization and San Francisco’s health department say they believe that PrEP is a good strategy to cut new infections among gay men.

But PrEP has been slow to catch on. According to data from the city, there were fewer than 1,000 active prescriptions for Truvada as PrEP in San Francisco at the end of 2013.

On Thursday, the board will hold a hearing about increasing that number. David Campos, a supervisor who like Mr. Wiener is openly gay, will introduce a resolution directing the city’s health department to develop a plan by December that “addresses the educational and affordability issues” around Truvada. In particular, he and Mr. Wiener are focused on bringing down costs for people who would like to be on PrEP but can’t afford it.

PrEP is widely covered by health insurers, including Medi-Cal, California’s version of Medicaid. Medi-Cal covers PrEP’s entire cost and many high-quality private plans cover most costs. Mr. Wiener pays just a $15 monthly co-payment under his city-provided health plan. But health plans with high deductibles may leave patients “covered” yet unable to afford their share of the cost of Truvada, whose list price is over $1,000 per month. The price is also forbidding for the uninsured; federally funded programs provide free medication to H.I.V.-positive people without insurance, but they do not cover PrEP. 
Washington State adopted one model for addressing that gap. In April, the state’s health department started the PrEP Drug Assistance Program, which pays the entire cost of PrEP for uninsured people, and covers co-payments and deductibles for those who do have coverage. On average, PrEP-DAP is covering $400 a month in out-of-pocket costs for its insured participants, according to David Kern, who oversees the program.

Mr. Campos has cited PrEP-DAP as one possible model for San Francisco, though the exact approach will be determined based on the December report. “We haven’t figured out the specific steps that will be taken or what the program looks like, but we have to start somewhere,” he said. Mr. Campos noted that every prevented H.I.V. infection saves $355,000 in treatment costs, a significant offset to the cost of subsidizing PrEP.

Beyond the financial aspect, wider use of PrEP in San Francisco will require greater public awareness among doctors and patients and a reduction in the stigma that often surrounds Truvada. PrEP has been controversial in the gay population because of its popular association with sex without condoms.

Mr. Wiener is focused on changing that, starting with his own announcement. “I definitely struggled with the decision about whether to be public about this because people will make a lot of assumptions and speculate,” he told me. “But in the end I thought it was very important to be public given the district I represent and the community I represent precisely because we need to remove the stigma from PrEP.”


India’s Supreme Court has left Gay legalization to Parliament: ‘Arguments pro and against'


The Supreme Court of India turned down the 2009 verdict of the Delhi High Court that decriminalised gay sex among consenting adults. It upheld the constitutional validity of the provision that gay sex is a punishable offence which can incur life imprisonment. Gay rights activitists and LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community rocked the nation with protests.
However, the Supreme Court (SC) Justice G S Singhvi and S K Mukhopadhyay put the onus of taking the final decision on the matter on Indian Parliament. Famously, Vikram Seth has eloquently advocated gay rights and Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi have said that the consensual sex among same sex adults should be legalized. On the other hand, Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said that homosexuality is unnatural and alien to Indian ethos.  
(Professor  has made both arguments and conclusion on
Let’s delve deeper into the topic:
For Gay Sex

  1. It’s a free society: We live in a free society and what two individuals do in privacy should not be a concern for anyone else, if are not indulging in crime. Criminalising homosexual relationships will not change the sexual preferences of anyone. If Section 377 is scrapped, more people will be able to come out of the closet and will not have to live all their lives in denial or pain. It will also help the families to accept such individuals.
  2. Indian culture did not sideline homosexuals: Indian society had been quite tolerant towards the LGBT community historically. There are documentary, archaeological and anthropological evidences that same sex ties were considered dignified enough in Indian culture.  Erotic carvings in Khajuraho temples and references to Indian kings being served by boys in harem can easily be found. However, the British colonialism and Victorian morality led to making of the anti-gay laws in India. It is an irony that in July 2014, Britain has legalised gay marriages too, with the royal stamp of Queen Elizabeth II.
  3. Article 14 grants everybody equality before the law: Indian Constitution guarantees equality to everyone. Hence, it is not fair to treat homosexuals differently than heterosexuals. Section 377 is based on the assumption that any sexual activity for procreation is natural while all the other forms of sex are unnatural. However, morality has changed now. Sexual activities are not restricted to procreation anymore. Hence, criminalizing homosexuality on the basis of Section 377 is not correct.
Against Gay Sex
  1. It is unnatural and immoral: Homosexuality is unnatural, immoral and uncouth. It goes against the religious beliefs of India as well as natural law. ‘Sex’ in religion has traditionally been for procreation. Bible talks about Adam and Eve in ‘Genesis’ and never Adam and Steve. If we talk about allowing individuals to have their own way, one should be allowed to marry one’s siblings, cousins or pets too as all of these would be individual choices too. Legalizing homosexuality would ruin the social fabric.
  2. Homosexual activities give rise to other violent crimes: Studies have indicated that child molestation and paedophilia occur far more commonly among homosexuals than among heterosexuals on a per capita basis. Similarly, it has been found that HIV or AIDS spreads more rapidly through homosexual relations, especially between men. It has also been known that the LGBT community members often throw around their social and financial position to exploit men and women from lower strata. Hence, India needs strict laws to rein in such ‘addictions’.
Homosexuality is a complex phenomenon endemic to all societies. Though homosexuals are in minority but they have always been a part of our society. Heterosexuality might be ‘common’ but it might be not be ‘normal’ for everybody. Keeping homosexuality under cover only leads to persecution, blackmailing and harassment of individuals. Hence, the same sex relationships should be legalized in India and the Section 377 of the Indian Penal Court (IPC) should be changed to bring a respite to people with different sex orientations.

Gay Teen Killed in Brazil by Homophobic Gay Teen (update)

On September 13 adamfoxie* published the story of a teen found in the woods in Brazil killed with his underwear stuffed in his mouth. ( gay-boy-found-dead-in-brazil). They have found the alleged killed who turns to be another young teen who in the process of being ‘turn on’ by the now deceased decided to beat him up and killed him. A mixture of guilt and homicidal tendencies made this incident turn into murder. This is another example of what a gay homophobe is. Someone who does not like himself for being turn on by his same sex but believe that this will get him to hell. It’s better to killed that sick subhuman guy than just let him be. He needs to have sex but his partners will run the danger of being badly beaten or and killed. There is the homophobe that is so because of lack of information that he will accept, but non violent. Then there is the homophobe that has the fear of homosexuals because he knows that he responds to them internally. He fears he is one, hates himself and that hatred is transferred to the sicko who agrees to come down to his level. Penalty could be death if not a beating without mercy.
This is the followup to the story. I decided to get the comments describing the murder and then when the police caught the alleged killer from someone who was incensed at this killing. The comments appeared on Facebook. The comments were in spanish and google translated. Please pardon any mistranslations or grammatical errors on the comments below.

Jose Cuentas  (Google translated)

I avoid writing statements of things I think and think, I do not consider myself a gay activist and in fact this is my first review on a topic that in my opinion I think is important.

Today social networks took a topic that caught my attention is the case of the Brazilian João Antônio Donati just 18! a fully open GAY life, was found dead in a vacant lot left in the city of Inhumas, was discovered immediately that it was a murder homophobic, her body present many signs of torture with their totally broken and neck broken legs, really sorry much anger inside of her mouth was a paper with written ¨ Stop the scourge of gay ¨ JUST hAD 18 YEARS !! a life ahead and certainly did not deserve to die like this, not like that and NO! Being gay, it's amazing how here in Brazil or China every 36 hours someone dies for being gay, I feel stupid, be Homosexual (label that I do not care) does not define me as a person, it's just wanting to share or have a taste with someone of the same sex.

I did not know this guy, read his story again and again and I realized that his family and his world was his mother, the affection and love that he felt for her was evident with the many states Joao he devoted. I can not imagine what it would be for my mom if something happened to me! It would be unfair for her to go through a pain that can not be explained, it’s stupid and retrograde by people with twisted minds and worst religious SICK read comments applauding the death of Joao, that respect does not share a different sexual orientation and is also why I demand RESPECT from them, CAN NOT despise, criticize, judge worse KILL any human being for being GAY, THEY CAN !!

José Cuentas (Google Translated)

 Although still not confirmed by the Brazilian police have under arrest Ferreira da Silva Andrie Maycon farmer 20 years as prime suspect of murdering Joao, their identification was found near the body. 

Did not want to kill him, but rebelled and so suffocate thought these were the statements of this monster in my opinion should be sentenced to DEATH, because of this many marches for justice and against Joao Homophobia in Brazil have it caught the attention of the country, I find it regrettable that after the death of this boy's human rights secretary just take action on the matter, and even knowing history of countless acts of homophobic violence.

THAT UGLY !!! tube die a child so they can do something about it, reading a lot of news and testimonials, the death of Joao was the straw broke the camel can read previously tried to burn down a gay nightclub with people inside, fortunately no one was hurt, but serious? These people are totally sick to the point of wanting to burn a place inside LIVE as if they were living creatures that deserve no people. My total respect to that utter Laura Pausini saying: If I had my fire to give him all the homophobic thing I entirely agree with it, that is if you do not like gays do not look, go ahead, do not fuck to avoid FUCK you! Pausini also gave encouragement to gay people not to give up and move on.

There is much more VIRTUES as you can find in a person other than being gay. It’s not like I think and see things, I am very grateful to all the people who shared my opinion of an angel who is now in a better place will surely not be judged.

Adam Gonzalez, Publisher

September 19, 2014

How Much DoesTurkey A NATO member which borders Syria helps US or Other NATO partners:000000000


Turkey is only in the game to help itself. It’s always been that way since there were Turks. The US was eager to have it join NATO because of the Cold war and the US under the Kennedy administration’s idea that missiles there will stabilize Russia’s influence in Cuba. As a matter of fact those missiles came down with the pact with Nikita Krushev under the missiles of October. It was decades before they went back but with the same idea: Russia and then Iraq. Turkey well aware of its geopolitical advantage has been well rewarded so you will think that when they are needed they would be there. Not so. With a friend like Turkey we might as well re-establish full relations with Castro as of yesterday.  But Cuba has not much influence now a days. Every country’s first commitment should be it’s people but when you are in a commitment in which your your friends will come to defend you if you are attacked it would seem you will be a better fiend. Turkey could give a rats tail about friendship or trying to be a good ally. Even though the uS was there when the Iraqis were coming across their border in droves. It was the uS who fixed the problem. 
In fight against Islamic State, NATO member Turkey won’t – maybe ...
Few countries are in a better position than Turkey to help the United States fight Islamic State. The moderate Islamic country shares a 750 mile border with Syria, is a NATO member and a long-time ally of America. But don’t hold your breath for Turkey’s support.
For a long time, Turks have resented the “curse of strategic significance” related to its forming NATO’s southern flank. They felt it enabled the military to keep a watchful eye over their politicians. Likewise, it fueled the politicians’  sense of impunity that shielded them from the need for reform.
This was part of the reason why, at the time of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Turkey refused to provide logistic support for the U.S.-led invasion to bring down Saddam Hussein. The chaos into which Iraq then descended after 2003 only reinforced the ruling AK party’s supporters of the validity of Turkey’s bid to go its own way.
The government calls this policy “zero problems with neighbors.” This self-explanatory catchphrase was introduced by Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish premier and former foreign minister. It signaled the beginning of a new era in Turkish foreign policy, and troubles for Western allies that relied on it.
Today, Turkey remains wedded to this policy. Despite the threat of the Islamic State, the country remains just as skeptical of getting involved in Iraq as in 2003. The opinion columns of pro-government newspapers, like Yeni Safak, warn Turkey not to fall into the trap of a military alliance.
“The threat of IS terror is a pretext by racist Zionists to open up their stall in the Middle East,” writesone columnist. Others speak of the conspiracy to undermine a Turkey which has just begun to find its voice.
Tellingly, Turkey refused to sign the recent Jeddah Communique, which was endorsed by the Gulf Cooperation Council, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and the United States, stating that they will “stand united” on the threat posed by Islamic State and that they would all “do their share” in the fight. Unlike Turkey, none of the Arab nations who signed the declaration are NATO members.
Turkey’s rejection of its strategic significance is clear. Ankara won’t let America attack Islamic State from its airbases, nor will it agree to contribute troops for military operations. Still, America hopes it can change its mind. That was the reason behind a recent visit by Chuck Hagel to Ankara, where he met with Erdogan and other top Turkish officials.
But what if Turkey can’t return to its prior strategic significance, even if it wants to?
There is plenty of evidence that Turkey is overwhelmed with the problems in its backyard. Turkish intelligence, for example, was blind-sided in June when Islamic State forces seized the Turkish consul general and nearly 50 other hostages in the Iraqi city of Mosul. This has effectively prevented Ankara from taking a public stand against radicals, for fear of worsening the hostages’ situation.
Turkey is also struggling to stop fuel from Iraq and Syria being smuggled into the country by Islamic State, which uses the profits to line its coffers. Turkish officials maintain in private that they are doing their best to stop the flow of funds and fighters passing through the porous border, but its actions don’t always match its words.
To make matters worse, the conflict is causing Turkey to lose its edge in peace negotiations with the Kurdish Worker Party (PKK), its historic domestic enemy. The PKK helped rescue thousands of Yazidis fleeing an Islamic State advance from Iraqi mountaintops. As a result, members of a group it has condemned as terrorists are now being hailed as heroes, which badly reduces Ankara’s bargaining power.
Turkish foreign policy is in trouble and, while the country might pride itself on being an unwilling partner in this war, it is also an unable one.
That, of course, is scarce consolation for the United States.
Maybe one day, Turkey will seek to regain the strategic significance it once had. After all, when Islamic State is your neighbor, “zero problems” is hardly a sustainable policy.
But America shouldn’t expect that day to come any time soon.
 PHOTO: U.S. President Barack Obama listens as he hosts a bilateral meeting with Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan during the NATO Summit at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, Wales September 5, 2014. Larry Downing
1st pic: A few Turkey old trawlers pose for pics for NATO (adamfoxie)

Four Season’s, Marriott’s and Irving Convention Center Have Refused Ugandan Pres.(Kill the gays)

After a post appeared in Dallas Voice’s Instant Tea blog on Wednesday, Sept. 17, the Four Seasons Hotel in Irving canceled Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni’s accommodations. Museveni has pushed for the so-called “kill the gays” bill in his country.
The Irving Convention Center and Irving police are also concerned about the controversial head-of-state’s visit. Museveni is supposed to attend a religious service at 10 a.m. and speak to potential investors at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 21 at the Irving Convention Center.
Museveni is currently negotiating with the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine to host his stay. No word yet whether that hotel will accommodate him or how Grapevine police plan to protect him with little notice.
In Boston, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders announced Ugandan gay activist John “Longjones” Abdallah Wambere was granted asylum in the U.S.
According to GLAD, Wambere was “outed as gay by newspapers, harassed by strangers, received death threats by anonymous phone calls, arrested, evicted from his home and beaten up.”
Under the “kill the gays” law, Wambere would face life imprisonment and he faces the threat of arrest should he return to Uganda.
Diana Pfaff of the Irving Convention Center has notified Dallas Voice that the Ugandan Embassy had until the close of business today to get all paperwork back to them. Because embassy officials did not meet that deadline, the event featuring Ugandan dictator Yoweri Museveni will not take place Sunday in Irving as originally planned.
Earlier today, the Four Seasons Hotel in Irving canceled Museveni’s reservation and the Marriotts put the gay back in Gaylord hotel by refusing to accommodate him either.

Judge Sees Confession of Killer of Etan Patz to Decide to Accept it as Evidence


NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New Jersey man accused of the murder of 6-year-old Etan Patz in 1979 calmly confessed on a videotape played in court on Monday to choking the boy and stuffing him alive in a garbage bag he tossed in an alley.
A Manhattan judge will decide whether the confession taped by police in 2012 will be allowed as evidence against Pedro Hernandez, who is accused of kidnap and murder.
Patz disappeared on his way to school on May 25, 1979, near his home in Manhattan's SoHo neighborhood. It was the first time he had been allowed to walk alone to a school bus stop.
The search for the boy gripped the city. Patz was one of the first children pictured on the side of milk cartons as part of an appeal for information on missing children.
Hernandez's defense attorney argues his client does not understand his legal rights. The attorney, Harvey Fishbein, said Hernandez suffered from mental illness including hallucinations and was borderline mentally handicapped.
In the confession, Hernandez, 53, described luring the boy into a SoHo deli where he worked with the offer of a cold soda.
The tape was played in state Supreme Court before Justice Maxwell Wiley. It was the first time it had been shown in public.
Patz' parents were in court, although his mother left before the video was shown.
Hernandez said he took Patz to the basement and strangled him.
"I grabbed him by the neck and started to choke him. I was nervous, my legs were jumping and wanted to let go but I couldn't let go," Hernandez said. "It was like something took over me."
Hernandez said the boy fell to the floor and that he knew he was still alive because he was gasping and his legs were moving.
He said he put the boy in a garbage bag, which he put in a box and carried on his shoulder to an alley a couple blocks away.
He said he left the box in the alley and went back to work. When he returned the next day, he said the box was gone.
Patz's body was never found, but he was legally declared dead in 2001.
On the videotape, Hernandez spoke softly and calmly without any apparent emotion.
"Mentally I was like, I feel bad and I don't feel bad. Half and half," he said. "I wasn't really thinking right at the time."
In court, clad in an orange jumpsuit, Hernandez also betrayed no feelings.
He offered differing recollections on the tape of what he had intended when he approached Patz on the sidewalk.
At one point, he indicated he did not have any violent intentions, but said later under police questioning: "My mind was already made up what I was going to do."
He told police he had been diagnosed with manic depression and schizophrenia.
His lawyer argued Hernandez was questioned for several hours before police read him his rights and made the videotape, which he said was filled with "the impossible" and "the highly improbable."
The hearing was set to resume on Tuesday and expected to take several weeks.
Police got a tip about Hernandez, who was living in Maple Shade, New Jersey, a month after authorities in April 2012 excavated the basement in another SoHo building, which failed to yield clues.
The tip said Hernandez told family members as far back as 1981 he had killed a child in New York, police said.
Natasja Sheriff
Photo: AP/Stanley Patz

Int Whaling Comm. Upholds Ruling Banning Japan from Slaughtering Whales


The International Whaling Commission has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean.  Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015.  
Commercial whaling has been banned since 1986.  Since then, Japan has still hunted whales under what it calls a "scientific whaling program."  Conservation groups say this program is nothing more than a poor disguise for commercial whaling.
In a surprise move in March, the International Court of Justice in The Hague ruled Japan must halt its whaling program in the Southern Ocean.
Delegates at the International Whaling Commission or IWC summit in Slovenia voted by a 35 to 20 majority Thursday, to adopt a resolution backing the International Court of Justice ruling.
Patrick Ramage from conservationist group the International Fund for Animal Welfare says it is a major blow to Japan’s hopes of resuming whaling next year.
“It is almost as though Japan's commissioner is saying: ‘Pay no attention to the world court judgment behind the curtain - we are going back to whaling in a sanctuary around Antarctica.’  Ultimately, Japan needs to reconcile itself to the emerging global consensus for whale conservation and the court order of the ICJ," said Ramage.
Because the resolution was not passed by consensus, it is not binding on all IWC members.  After the vote, Japan’s commissioner to the IWC Joji Morishita said Tokyo would submit a new plan to resume so-called scientific whaling off Antarctica.
“We will be providing, we will be submitting a new research plan in [the] Antarctic ocean so that we will implement that research activities starting from 2015.  And all these activities are, as we have been arguing, perfectly in line with international law, [based upon] scientific bases, as well as ICJ judgment language," said Morishita.
New Zealand, which sponsored the resolution, insisted the IWC must respect the vote and reject Japan’s attempts to resume the hunt.  Its commissioner is Gerard Van Bohemen.
“There is no issue of discretion here, the Commission has made a clear recommendation and instruction to the scientific committee, and as a subsidiary body, of course, it must comply," said Van Bohemen.
A bid by Argentina, Brazil, South Africa and Uruguay to create a whale sanctuary in the South Atlantic failed to get enough votes.
Activists have frequently clashed with Japanese whaling vessels in the Southern Ocean.
In Japan, few people actually eat whale meat, but supporters say whaling is part of ancient Japanese culture.  In a restaurant in central Tokyo, chef Shunpei Meguro is carefully slicing a side of whale meat.
“It would be sad to lose such an ingredient,” he said, “especially considering it has been Japan's traditional food.”

A smaller whale hunt in the Pacific Ocean began earlier this month.  Japan, Iceland and Norway are the only countries that hunt whales. 
Henry Ridgwell

Gay Education will solve the issue of Homophobia in England and other places


Sex and relationship education (SRE) is failing millions of pupils. Many will return to school this month to receive mostly inadequate SRE. A survey of teenagers by the Sex Education Forum in 2013 found that a quarter of young people said their SRE was either “good” or “very good”, but slightly more (27%) said it was “bad” or “very bad”. The remainder (48%) rated their SRE as “OK”, well short of a positive endorsement. No wonder Ofsted describes SRE as “not yet good enough”.

For lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) pupils, the quality of SRE is even lower. One in three gay men diagnosed with HIV in 2012 were in their teens or early 20s, yet more than three-quarters of gay and bisexual young people receive no information at school about same-sex relationships or gay safer sex, according to the 2014 Metro report,Youth Chances. These failings border on child neglect, and have prompted a coalition of LGBTI, sexual health and HIV campaigners to this week publish an open letter to party leaders, MPs and the government, which urges that age-appropriate SRE be made compulsory in all schools – and be required by law to address the needs of LGBTI young people. SRE isn’t mandatory at present, and in most cases doesn’t include LGBTI issues.
The signatories, which include Conservative peer Lord Fowler, TV presenter Christian Jessen, the Terrence Higgins Trust, Stonewall, the Lesbian & Gay Foundation, the National Aids Trust and the Peter Tatchell Foundation, stress that shortcomings in most schools are failing the welfare and needs of young LGBTI people and contributing to poor standards of sexual health and mental well-being, including preventable HIV infections.

The letter supports the Sex Education Forum’s campaign, It’s My Right, which is urging the government to guarantee every pupil in every school high quality sex and relationship education. This initiative coincides with the deliberations of the education select committee and a private members bill by Green MP Caroline Lucas, which is scheduled to be debated in parliament next month, with the aim of legally obliging all schools to provide SRE.
Cliff Joannou, editor of QX magazine, who originated the idea of the coalition letter, said: “It’s shocking that in the 21st century schools are still not required to give children and teenagers the education they need to make informed decisions about their sexual health and relationships. In addition, omitting LGBTI relationships from SRE means that too many children and teenagers grow up feeling further alienated by society.”

Kat Smithson, policy and campaign manager at the National Aids Trust, said: ”One in three 16-24-year-olds tell us they don’t know enough to prevent HIV transmission during sex, and at the same time HIV diagnoses amongst young gay men have doubled over the past 10 years. Unless we start teaching young people in school about sexual health and about same-sex relationships then we will only see these numbers increasing.”

So true, which is why I can’t fathom the government’s hesitancy on this issue. Sexual and emotional literacy are just as important as literacy in reading and writing. Education is, after all, supposed to prepare young people for later life. Sex and relationships are a very important part of adulthood. Why, then, is SRE education neglected in so many schools?
All pupils deserve lessons that empower them to make wise, responsible decisions to ensure their sexual health and happiness and to reduce the incidence of unwanted teenage pregnancies, abortions and HIV. 



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