August 21, 2014

“Darling” The Wrath of Religion!




WHAT MANY LISTENERS remember about the commentaries that Richard Rodriguez delivered for years on the PBS Newshour is the sound of his voice: the measured, gentle, often sorrowful tone of a man seeking to understand some mystery at the heart of his experiences. This same tone permeates his writing, particularly in this collection of ten essays, Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography, his fourth book, all written in the aftermath of 9/11. We are, Rodriguez writes, “the victims of love on earth.” This love encompasses families and friends, memories of the past, the places where we live, and all of humanity in Rodriguez’ understanding of his faith, Roman Catholicism.
         The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, are pivotal to the book. Rodriguez cannot escape the conclusion that he and the terrorists worship the same God and are therefore connected. This connection began in the desert: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are Rodriguez FINALdesert faiths with a common ancestor in Abraham of the Old Testament. Moses, Jesus, and Muhammad had encounters with God in the desert, which is also a symbolic place, the barren landscape signifying the self- emptying of people seeking to cast off worldly entanglements and experience union with the divine. In “Jerusalem and the Desert” Rodriguez describes a journey he took to the desert because he was curious about the “ecology” of a place where three religions are joined. In a Greek Orthodox monastery, a monk originally from St. Louis denounces Islam as “a perversion” and, defending his fervor, tells him, “The desert creates warriors.” Certain that God is on their side, each of the desert religions has waged holy wars on each other from biblical times to the present.
     As a gay man, Rodriguez has known the wrath of religion. In “Darling,” the long essay at the center of the book, he  explores how the desert religions have waged holy wars against homosexuals and women. This is in fact a single war, fought on behalf of male power, and the outcome of this battle between fundamentalism and secularism could determine the future of humankind. Central to the sacred texts of each religion are male conceptions of God. The Creation and perpetuation of humanity are signified throughout history by the male seed and its generative powers. In such a worldview, homosexuality is an abomination, a failure of the male line to recreate itself; and men, not women, must control reproduction. Against this background of male power, Rodriguez weaves stories of women he has known: his younger sister, a college classmate, a Dominican nun struggling with her Church, the Irish Sisters of Mercy who educated him, even the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, whose catechism exhorts sexual precaution and drug safety.
     “Darling” displays Rodriguez’ skill at associating people and events. Nuns, he observes, began to give up their veils just as Muslim women began to appear in America wearing them. He is convinced that the gay rights movement is a beneficiary of the suffragist movement of the 19th century, when American women first stood up to male power. The civil rights and gay rights movements are often linked; for Rodriguez there is a more fundamental connection between gay rights and women’s resistance to the subjugation that originated in the desert religions. He argues that gay equality is inconceivable without the struggles of women, and he homes in on a particular friend of his, the unnamed “Darling.” Calling a woman “darling” signifies the opposite of male power. In the game of life, this endearment signals that “one is not a sexual player” but an equal, a friend.
         Seeking the presence of the divine in the everyday world, Rodriguez is aware of what he calls the “humor of piety.” “The True Cross,” set in Las Vegas during Holy Week, describes the final days of an old friend dying of AIDS-related cancer. As he travels to and from the hospice in this desert city devoted to “the gambler’s prayer—resurrection,” he reflects with gentle humor on its more flamboyant inhabitants: Noël Coward, Liberace, Elvis, Bugsy Siegel. He attends the Easter Vigil Mass at a cathedral designed by the man who did Frank Sinatra’s house in Palm Springs. His friend Luther dies on Easter Sunday.
         In other essays Rodriguez writes about Arabic influences on his Spanish heritage, César Chávez, California as a land of “disappointment,” and his beloved San Francisco. The final two essays are moving meditations on old age by a man who’s turning seventy. “Surely autumn is as necessary a part of Nature as spring,” he writes in “Transit Alexander,” an essay that describes the final days of Keats, Pope John Paul II, and St. Francis. In “The Three Ecologies of the Holy Desert,” he addresses the resilience of his own faith in a world where some respond to the horrors of holy wars by embracing atheism. Still, he believes that his frail older brother is no worse a man for not believing in God, and he is no better for believing: “It is simply that religion gives me a sense—no, not a sense, a reason, no not exactly a reason, an understanding—that everyone matters.” Such understanding is more true to genuine spiritual awareness than the motives that have inspired centuries of holy wars. Read these essays to hear a very wise, very humane man reflect on his life in these dangerous times.

Daniel Burr is an assistant dean at the U. of Cincinnati College of Medicine, where he teaches in the medical humanities program.

How The Us Military failed on the Rescue of Foley




The U.S. military earlier this summer carried out an attempt to rescue journalist James Foley and other American hostages held in Syria, a U.S. official said on Wednesday, in an operation that the Pentagon said ultimately failed to find the captives.
Foley, 40, was beheaded by an Islamic State militant in a video that surfaced on the Internet on Tuesday. President Barack Obama expressed revulsion on Wednesday at the execution and vowed the United States would do what it must to protect its citizens.
The unsuccessful rescue operation "involved air and ground components and was focused on a particular captor network within ISIL," the Pentagon said in a statement, using a different name for the militant group. "Unfortunately, the mission was not successful because the hostages were not present at the targeted location."
Officials would not say exactly when the operation took place but said it was not in the last couple of weeks.
Obama authorized the mission "earlier this summer," Lisa Monaco, Obama's top counterterrorism aide, said in a separate statement. "The President authorized action at this time because it was the national security team’s assessment that these hostages were in danger with each passing day in ISIL custody," she said.
Islamic State said Foley's execution, which prompted widespread horror that could push Western powers into further action against the group, was in revenge for U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.
The Pentagon said U.S. aircraft conducted 14 airstrikes in the vicinity of Iraq's Mosul Dam, destroying or damaging militants' Humvees, trucks and explosives.
Britain's prime minister cut short his vacation as UK intelligence tried to identify Foley's killer, while France called for international coordination against the Islamist militants fighting in Syria and Iraq.
U.S. officials said on Wednesday that intelligence analysts had concluded that the Islamic State video, titled "A Message to America," was authentic. It also showed images of another U.S. journalist, Steven Sotloff, whose fate the group said depends on how the United States acts in Iraq.
The gruesome video presented Obama with bleak options that could define American involvement in Iraq and the public reaction to it, potentially dragging him further into a conflict he built much of his presidency on ending.
Obama called the beheading of Foley "an act of violence that shocked the conscience of the entire world" and said the militants had killed innocent civilians, subjected women and children to torture, rape and slavery and targeted Muslims, Christians and religious minorities.
"So ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just God would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day," Obama said in brief comments to reporters in Edgartown, Massachusetts, where he has been vacationing. He said he had spoken with Foley's family.
"ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings. Their ideology is bankrupt."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States would "never back down in the face of such evil.
"ISIL and the wickedness it represents must be destroyed, and those responsible for this heinous, vicious atrocity will be held accountable," Kerry said in a statement.
INTELLIGENCE SERVICES
British anti-terrorist police began an investigation of the video, in which Foley's killer spoke with a London accent.
Possibly a British national, the killer is just one of hundreds of European Muslims drawn to join Islamic State, who authorities say pose a security threat to U.S. and European interests if they return home from the Middle East.
The video showed a high level of technical proficiency and the use of a British voice may have been intended to make its contents clear to audiences in the United States, Islamic State's declared enemy.
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he was not surprised to hear the British accent and that large numbers of British nationals were fighting in Iraq and Syria.
"Our intelligence services will be looking very carefully on both sides of the Atlantic at this video to establish its authenticity, to try to identify the individual concerned and then we will work together to try to locate him," Hammond told Sky news.
France said it wanted the permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and regional countries, including Arab states and Iran, to coordinate action against Islamic State. President Francois Hollande called for an international conference to discuss how to tackle the group.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned "the horrific murder of journalist James Foley, an abominable crime that underscores the campaign of terror the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant continues to wage against the people of Iraq and Syria," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zebari urged the world to back his country against Islamic State, which he described as a threat to the world, not just to the minority ethnic groups whose members it has killed in Iraq.
Germany and Italy said they were ready to send arms to bolster the military capabilities of Iraqi Kurds fighting Islamic State in northern Iraq.
Sending arms into conflict zones is a major departure for Germany, which has often shied away from direct involvement in military conflicts since World War Two due to its Nazi past.
The video's message was unambiguous, warning of greater retaliation to come against Americans following nearly two weeks of U.S. airstrikes that have pounded militant positions and halted the advance of Islamic State, which until this month had captured a third of Iraq with little resistance.
Foley was kidnapped on Nov. 22, 2012, in northern Syria, according to GlobalPost. He had earlier been kidnapped and released in Libya.
Sotloff, who appeared at the end of the video, went missing in northern Syria while reporting in July 2013. He has written for TIME among other news organizations.
On Facebook, Foley's mother, Diane Foley, said: "We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people.
"We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages. Like Jim, they are innocents. They have no control over American government policy in Iraq, Syria or anywhere in the world."
The video was posted after the United States resumed airstrikes in Iraq this month for the first time since the end of the U.S. occupation in 2011.
U.S. Senator John McCain, a Republican, said Foley's death should serve as a turning point for Obama in his deliberations over how to deal with Islamic State. "First of all, you've got to dramatically increase the airstrikes. And those air strikes have to be devoted to Syria as well," McCain said in a telephone interview.
ISLAMIC STATE
Islamic State, which has declared a caliphate in the parts of Iraq and Syria it controls, opened the video with a clip of Obama saying he had authorized strikes in Iraq.
The words "Obama authorizes military operations against the Islamic State effectively placing America upon a slippery slope towards a new war front against Muslims" appeared in English and Arabic on the screen.
It showed black and white aerial footage of airstrikes with text saying: "American aggression against the Islamic State."
A man identified as Foley, head shaven and dressed in an orange outfit similar to uniforms worn by prisoners at the U.S. detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, is seen kneeling in the desert next to a man holding a knife and clad head to toe in black.
"I call on my friends, family and loved ones to rise up against my real killers, the U.S. government, for what will happen to me is only a result of their complacency and criminality," the kneeling man says.
The man next to him, in a black mask, speaks with a British accent and says, "This is James Wright Foley, an American citizen, of your country. As a government, you have been at the forefront of the aggression towards the Islamic State."
"Today your military air force is attacking us daily in Iraq. Your strikes have caused casualties amongst Muslims. You are no longer fighting an insurgency. We are an Islamic army, and a state that has been accepted by a large number of Muslims worldwide."
Following his statement, he beheads the kneeling man. At the end of the video, words on the side of the screen say, "Steven Joel Sotloff," as another prisoner in an orange jumpsuit is shown on screen. "The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision," the masked man says.
University of Virginia political scholar Larry Sabato said the killing was like the beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl in Pakistan in 2002. He said it could help bolster a perception among Americans that the United States will have to be more aggressive in dealing with Islamic State militants.
Syria has been the most dangerous country for journalists for more than two years. At least 69 other journalists have been killed covering the conflict there and more than 80 journalists have been kidnapped in Syria.
The U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists estimates that about 20 journalists are currently missing in Syria. Many of them are believed to be held by Islamic State.
Reuters(Additional reporting by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva, Oliver Holmes and Tom Perry in Beirut, Sabine Siebold in Berlin, Costas Pitas and William James in London, Louis Charbonneau at the United Nations and John Irish in Paris; Writing by Giles ElgoodJim Loney and Eric Beech; Editing by David Stamp, Dan Grebler and Eric Walsh)

Besieged Iraqi town begs for military to help


                                                                           
 al-Qaida militants kill Iraqis


 Members of a minority Iraqi Shiite community whose town has been besieged by Sunni militants appealed to Iraq's military and the international community to intervene to end the siege, a lawmaker said Wednesday as the U.N. started a massive aid push to help Iraqis uprooted by the extremists.
Also Wednesday, scattered attacks killed at least 11 people in and near Baghdad. The city has not been spared the almost daily violence even as the country grapples with the onslaught by the Islamic State group and their militant Sunni allies.
The siege of the northern town of Amrili, populated by Shiite Turkmens, is part of the Islamic State's offensive, which seized large swaths of western and northern Iraq this summer and also pushed further in neighboring Syria.
The militants' rampage, however, suffered a major setback this week when Iraqi and Kurdish troops backed by U.S. airstrikes dislodged the Islamic fighters from a strategic dam near Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city which militants overran in June.
Turkmen lawmaker Fawzi Akram said almost 15,000 Turkmens in Amirli, about 105 miles north of Baghdad, have been besieged for the past two months by militants affiliated with the Islamic State.
The siege has left the residents in a dire situation, despite of recent army airdrops of weapons, food and medical supplies. The town has no water or electricity, yet the residents are putting up a fierce resistance, al-Tarzi said.
"Amirli is besieged from all sides and calls for help are falling on deaf ears," he said, urging the U.S. to consider airstrikes on militant targets around the town.
Resident Jaafar Kadhim al-Bayati, a 41-year-old father of three, told The Associated Press over the phone that children in Amirli are getting sick and that the town needs more help.
"We are starving, we ran out of food and the only clinic is not functioning now due to lack of medicines," he said. He added that a pregnant woman died while in labor this week, she was brought to the clinic but there was no one to help her there.
Like other religious minorities in Iraq such as the Christians and the Yazidis, the Turkmen community has also been targeted by the Islamic State, which considers them to be apostates. Thousands of Turkmens have been uprooted from their homes since the Islamic State took Mosul, the northern city of Tikrit and a spate of towns and villages in the area.
Meanwhile, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi held talks with outgoing Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and the premier-designate, Haider al-Abadi, during a one-day visit to Baghdad. Al-Abadi has until Sept. 11 to submit a list of Cabinet members to parliament for approval.
In Rome, Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti said that Italy intends to supply light, portable arms for the Iraqi Kurdish forces battling the Islamic State. She said there would be checks in place in Iraq "to control that the arms get where they are supposed to go."
In Baghdad, six civilians were killed and 12 were wounded when a parked car bomb ripped through Palestine Street, a police officer said. Mortar rounds in the northern Sabaa al-Bour neighborhood killed three and wounded nine, another police officer said.
And in the town of Mahmoudiyah, 30 kilometers (20 miles) south of Baghdad, a bomb hidden in a garbage pile killed two people and wounded five, according to police officials there. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to media.
The Islamic State blitz has forced some 1.5 million people to flee their homes since June while thousands more have died, prompting the U.N. to declare its highest level of emergency last week.
On Wednesday, the U.N. refugee agency launched a massive air, road and sea 10-day operation to help the displaced, including a four-day airlift with Boeing 747 planes that will bring in aid from Aqaba, Jordan, to Iraq's northern Kurdish region.
The first flight landed on Wednesday afternoon in the Iraqi Kurdish regional capital of Irbil, carrying 100 metric tons (110 tons) of emergency aid, the UNHCR said.
Shoko Shimozawa, the UNHCR representative for Iraq, welcomed the first cargo flight.
"This is by large, by far, one of the largest relief operations we are doing," she said. "But this is also comparative because of the enormity of the situation. And the crisis that we are facing."
Adrian Edwards, a UNHCR spokesman, warned that "conditions remain desperate" in many places.
"Many are still coming to grips with the tragedy they've been through in recent weeks - fleeing homes with nothing, and many trying to cope with the loss of loved ones," he said.
The gains made by the Islamic State have brought U.S. forces back into the conflict for the first time since American troops withdrew from Iraq in 2011. America's renewed involvement on the battlefield was a reflection of the growing international concern over the Sunni extremists' blitz. Washington began carrying out dozens of airstrikes in Iraq on Aug. 8.
But in a horrifying act of revenge for the U.S. airstrikes, the Islamic State released a grisly video on Tuesday showing the beheading of American journalist James Foley who went missing in Syria in November 2012. The militants have also threatened to kill another hostage, U.S. officials said.
by Associated Press and writer Frances D’Emilio in Rome, Italy

James Foley Sad video of his Beheading (sensitive and deadly video 18+)

Be 18 and over…This video will ruin your day



There are no words the story you know this video is being shown so everyone can see that this  people can not be negotiated with or talk with but destroyed, that is the only they respect and is power. This possibly british born or educated killer probably by the name of John should be located just like the Americans did with the saudi killer of the world trade center.


Playboy Saudi prince gets robbed in Paris $335K




The Saudi prince who fell victim to a spectacular armed raid in Paris, losing 250,000 euros in the process, was the youngest son of the former King Fahd with something of a globetrotting playboy reputation, it emerged on Tuesday.
According to sources at Le Bourget airport, where the prince's private jet was waiting, and police sources told the media that the victim was Abdul Aziz Bin Fahd, the multi-millionaire son of King Fahd, who died in 2005.
The prince, who is 41-year-old became the victim of a brazen heist on the Paris ring road on Sunday night when a gang of five to eight heavily armed bandits hijacked the lead car of his 10-car convoy and drove off with three aides.
About 250,000 euros (USD 335,000) and documents were stolen by the gang, but released the aides and later put a match to the prince's Mercedes and one of their own in the village of Saint-Mesmes, northeast of Paris, approximately 40km from the scene of the crime.
The professionalism of the raid pointed to a possible inside job, said the Investigators today. "They must have had accomplices to have been so well informed, that's clear," said one source close to the probe. "They sure weren't amateurs," added this source, stressing: "They didn't choose that location by chance."
The source further said, "There is no light and probably poor video surveillance there".
Investigators were impressed by the speed of the attack and the fact they knew exactly which car to hit.
Within seconds, and without firing a shot, they drove away with the suitcase filled with hard cash and, according to French media reports, official embassy sensitive documents.
"There aren't that many groups capable of such an attack. We know from the way they acted that they were more than small-time bandits -- more so from than the amount of money they stole," said one investigator. The brazen larceny had all the elements of a Hollywood thriller.
According to local daily Le Parisien, the documents taken in the attack were "sensitive" diplomatic documents but a police source told yesterday this was not certain.
"They could be sensitive documents but they could equally well be unimportant," the source said.
But, as one of the detectives now on the investigation pointed out, "the robbers could just have taken the money".
The Saudi embassy in Paris has remained tight-lipped about the affair but put out a statement that was carried on the official news agency in Saudi Arabia, stressing that the stolen car was a Mercedes Viano with German plates and rented by a Saudi citizen, “who was heading for the airport with his luggage.”
The police did not disclose the names of the victims.

August 20, 2014

New Study Finds Men have More Orgasms Straight Women the least


                                                                        



Researchers from the Kinsey Institute conducted a study in the interest of understanding orgasm variation as it relates to sexual orientation and concluded that heterosexual women are the least likely to experience orgasms.

They collected data from a total of 6,151 single men and women between the ages of 21 and 65 by means of an internet questionnaire and finally eliminated the sample size to a total of 2,850 who had participated in sexual activity in the previous year leading up to the experiment.

“Existing literature demonstrates substantial variation in orgasm experiences among women and to a lesser, but not inconsequential, extent among men,” they wrote. “The current study confirms existing findings and advances our understanding of orgasm occurrence among men and women across self-identified sexual orientation categories.” 

In the study, of which the sample was mainly composed of whites (approximately 75 percent), participants were controlled in the interest of eliminating those whose experiences were not limited to a familiar partner.

They were also controlled for identity to restrict automatic fill-ins, and controlled to eliminate intersexuals, whom the study did not concern.
More than seven percent of heterosexual women, or 86 of the survey respondents, suffer from aorgasmica, reporting never reaching orgasm.

On the flipside, only 16.2 percent of heterosexual women reported orgasm 100 percent of the time. Most, or 411 respondents, reported reaching orgasm 75 to 99 percent of the times they engaged in sexual activity.

Bisexual women’s orgasmic experience showed little variation, although bisexual women were ultimately the most concentrated in the 75 to 99 percent bracket, at 35 percent, like heterosexuals.
Lesbian women, however, showed the highest capacity for orgasm, with 25 percent saying they climaxed with every sexual experience and 46 percent reporting orgasm 75 to 99 percent of the time. Very few reported aorgasmia.


Overall, men’s orgasmic experiences showed less variation. Few men reported aorgasmica and all three sexual orientations were concentrated in the top two brackets.
Heterosexual men reported orgasm 100 percent of the time slightly more frequently than homosexual and bisexual men.

Researchers concluded that the idea of a “familiar partner” could be varied across sexual orientation groups that could underlie the patterns they observed.
“The wording of the questionnaire, asking participants to report on orgasm ‘when having sex with a familiar partner’ likely lends itself to varied interpretations of how individuals define both ‘sex’ and a ‘familiar partner,’” wrote the study authors.

Future research, they concluded, should further explore how demographics including but not limited to sexual orientation affect orgasm experience.
The study was published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Historic Dissent in Cuba’s so Called Parliament over LGBT from a “Castro"


                                                                           
 Cubans openly celebrate Pride
Yet another revolutionary tradition has been broken in Cuba: A lawmaker voted "no" in parliament.
And it wasn't just any lawmaker.
Mariela Castro, the daughter of President Raul Castro and niece of Fidel Castro, gave the thumbs-down to a workers' rights bill that she felt didn't go far enough to prevent discrimination against people with HIV or with unconventional gender identities.
None of the experts contacted by The Associated Press could recall another "no" vote in the 612-seat National Assembly, which meets briefly twice a year and approves laws by unanimous show of hands.
"This is the first time, without a doubt," said Carlos Alzugaray, a historian and former Cuban diplomat.
He said even measures that were widely criticized in grass-roots public meetings, such as a law raising the retirement age, had passed unanimously in the Assembly.
Few in Cuba were even aware of the Dec. 20 vote until after the measure was enacted into law this summer, at which point gay activists publicized the vote by Castro, who is the island's most prominent advocate for gay rights.
Arturo Lopez-Levy, a Cuban analyst who lectures at the University of Denver, suggested it might "open doors for other important initiatives."
Mariela Castro herself seemed to hint there could be more debate in the assembly.
"There have been advances in the way things are discussed, above all the way things are discussed at the grass-roots level, in workplaces, unions and party groupings," she said in an interview posted in late July on the blog of Francisco Rodriguez, a pro-government gay rights activist. "I think we still need to perfect the democratic participation of the representatives within the Assembly."
Others are skeptical it will set a precedent.
"I would say that this is more a sign of what Mariela can get away with than a sign of what your everyday parliamentarian can get away with," said Ted Henken, a professor of Latin American studies at Baruch College in New York.
In her crusade for gay rights, Castro has often taken stands that challenge the social status quo, while firmly supporting the Communist government.
The new labor code bans workplace discrimination based on gender, race and sexual orientation. But it has no mention of HIV status or gender identity.
"I could not vote in favor without the certainty that the labor rights of people with different gender identity would be explicitly recognized," Castro said in the blog interview.
Raul Castro himself has been slowly shaking up Cuba's system by allowing some limited private-sector activity and scrapping a much-loathed exit visa requirement. He's made it clear, though, that the Communist Party will continue to be the only one permitted.
The vast majority of Assembly members keep their regular jobs and are not professional lawmakers. Laws are generally drafted by a handful of legislators and discussed with Cubans before being presented to parliament.
There was no response to requests for an interview with Mariela Castro, who heads Cuba's National Center for Sex Education, an entity under the umbrella of the Health Ministry.
She has spoken in the past about wanting to legalize same-sex unions, though concrete legislation to that effect has not materialized.
That LGBT rights is even a matter of debate is a sign that much has changed since the 1960s and '70s, when gay islanders were routinely harassed and sent to labor camps along with others considered socially suspect.
In recent years, Fidel Castro expressed regret about past treatment of gays, and today Cuba's free and universal health care system covers gender reassignment surgery.
But activists say old attitudes and prejudices die hard so the LGBT community needs more legal protections.
Rodriguez and about 20 others from Project Rainbow, a group that advocates for sexual diversity, recently sent a public letter urging Mariela Castro to introduce legislation to amend the labor code.
"These are not minor details," Rodriguez said. "They are social problems we have in contemporary Cuba."
___
Associated Press writer Peter Orsi in Havana contributed to this report.
Andrea Rodriguez on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ARodriguezAP

Vid.Seems to Show Beheading of Missing American Journalist




James Foley went missing in November 2012    

A video posted online Tuesday purportedly shows an Islamist extremist beheading James Foley, an American journalist kidnapped in Syria more than 18 months ago.

 A graphic video of the purported killing, whose authenticity could not be immediately verified, was posted online Tuesday and quickly spread on social media. The video, which appears to be the work of the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, declares the act “A Message to #America (from the #IslamicState)” and retribution for the United States’ intervention against ISIS in Iraq. Some versions of the video and Twitter accounts circulating it were quickly taken offline Tuesday evening, though the video soon appeared on YouTube again.

TIME is not publishing the video. The video also includes a threat to kill Steven Sotloff, a freelance journalist who has written for TIME among other outlets, and has been missing since August 2013.
A Facebook page affiliated with the Foley family’s campaign for his release posted a message Tuesday saying it couldn’t confirm the authenticity of the video or Foley’s fate.
“We know that many of you are looking for confirmation or answers,” the post read. “Please be patient until we all have more information, and keep the Foleys in your thoughts and prayers.”
A spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council said the American intelligence community “is working as quickly as possible to determine its authenticity.”
“If genuine, we are appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American journalist and we express our deepest condolences to his family and friends,” NSC spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said. “We will provide more information when it is available.”
On Tuesday evening, Principal Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said in a statement that President Obama had been briefed on the video by Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes. “The President will continue to receive regular updates,” Schultz said.
Foley “was taken by an organized gang after departing from an internet café in Binesh, Syria,” near the Turkish border, the FBI said in an alert following the Nov. 22, 2012, kidnapping. He was in Binesh covering the Syrian civil war for theGlobalPost website and AFP.
Foley, 40, grew up in New Hampshire, where his parents live.
TIME

The Smithsonian Honors You and Me with an LGBT Collection


                                                                           


 Hundreds of photographs, papers and historical objects documenting the history of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people are being added to the Smithsonian Institution's collection Tuesday, including items from the popular TV show "Will and Grace."
Show creators David Kohan and Max Mutchnick along with NBC are donating objects to the National Museum of American History. The collection includes original scripts, casting ideas, political memorabilia surrounding the show and the series finale. The network agreed to donate props, including a pill bottle and flask, a sign from "Grace Adler Interior Design" and Will Truman's framed college diploma.
Kohan told The Associated Press the Smithsonian's interest in the show featuring gay principal characters was a validation they never dreamed about when the sitcom began airing in 1998. "Will and Grace" ran through May 2006 depicting four friends both gay and straight, eventually ending with the main characters coupled off with children.
"These particular guests that were invited into people's living rooms happened to be your gay friends," Kohan said. "I don't think people really had the opportunity to have that before, and it served to, I think, make people recognize that your close friends were gay."
"The fact that it's in the American history (museum), maybe we were a part of something that was bigger than we ever imagined," Kohan said.
The donation is part of larger effort to document gay and lesbian history, an area that has not been well understood at the museum. Curators are collecting materials from LGBT political, sports and cultural history objects from Arizona to Maryland.
Some items being donated include the diplomatic passports of Ambassador David Huebner, the first openly gay U.S. ambassador confirmed by the Senate, and his husband; materials from a gay community center in Baltimore; and photography collections from Patsy Lynch and Silvia Ros documenting gay rights activism.
From sports history, the museum will receive a tennis racket from former professional player Renee Richards who won a landmark New York Supreme Court decision for transgender rights after she was denied entry to the U.S. Open in 1975.
"There have always been gender non-conforming people in the U.S., and we've made contributions and lived life since the beginning of the country," said Curator Katherine Ott who focuses on sexuality and gender. "It's not talked about and analyzed and understood in the critical ways in which it should be. So for us to build the collection means we can more fully document the history of this country."
"Will and Grace" used comedy to familiarize a mainstream audience with gay culture, said Curator Dwight Blocker Bowers. It was daring and broke ground in the same way “All in the Family" did in the 1970s around issues of bigotry and tolerance, Bowers said.
AP

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