October 31, 2010

LGBT-friendly synagogue a target of intercepted packages, leader says

The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago says area synagogues began taking
A small Chicago synagogue dedicated to serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community may have been one of the intended destinations of two packages intercepted abroad that were packed with explosive material, a co-president for the congregation said Saturday.
Or Chadash, a congregation of about 100 people, held its Sabbath services Friday with security out in full force.
"It was unnerving, [but] we carried on as normal," Or Chadash's co-president, Lilli Kornblum, told CNN.
"We do always have security when we have congregational events, however last night Chicago police were in much, much higher visibility," she said. "And we were on higher alert for people we don't know or anyone who might be carrying backpacks, packages, that sort of thing."
Kornblum said Or Chadash was notified that it was a potential target by the rabbi of Emanuel Congregation - another synagogue from which Or Chadash leases space - who received word from a source in the Chicago's Jewish community who is close to authorities.
Emanuel Congregation, however, was apparently not a target.
Earlier, Kornblum had told CNN that Emanuel Congregation's rabbi had received his information directly from authorities.
But in an interview with CNN Saturday, Emanuel Congregation's senior rabbi, Michael Zedek, said he had been notified that Or Chadash was a threat from a Chicago Jewish source "who's well connected to authorities."
Zedek said he heard from the source - who he said requested anonymity - on Friday night.
"People are asking are we frightened," Zedek told CNN, "and the truth of the matter is we're not frightened, we're saddened."
Chicago FBI spokesman Royden Rice would not confirm or deny that Or Chadash was a target.
"We notified both targets yesterday," Rice told CNN Saturday. "We always notify potential victims of crime. If they wish to reveal who they are, it's up to them."
Synagogues across metropolitan Chicago began taking "appropriate precautions" Friday after receiving warning from security officials to watch out for suspicious packages from abroad, according to a Jewish Federation spokeswoman.
President Barack Obama said that two packages that apparently contained explosive materials were bound for "two places of Jewish worship in Chicago," but did not name them.
"[We were] surprised, because we're very, very small," Kornblum said, adding that the 35-year-old synagogue had been trying to get noticed to potentially gain more congregants. "This isn't what we had in mind."
Kornblum said she's "distressed" about the apparent threat, but expressed gratitude for the authorities who were able to intercept the packages.
The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago was contacted by federal officials Friday morning to urge the organization to be on alert for suspicious packages, spokeswoman Linda Haase said.
Lucille Price, a receptionist at Anshe Emet Synagogue, said Chicago police made them aware of the reports and asked them to keep an eye out for suspicious packages among any deliveries that arrived Friday.
But congregation leaders at two prominent Chicago synagogues, Temple Sholom and Chicago Sinai Congregation, said they were not made aware of any attempts to ship bombs or hazardous material to them.
The Anti-Defamation League, meanwhile, sent notice to Jewish organizations across the country on Friday to increase mailroom security and to immediately report suspicious activity to law enforcement.
In New York on Saturday, a police counterterrorism unit conducted a drill outside the Central Synagogue in midtown Manhattan. Members of the New York Police Department's Hercules unit, which conducted the drill, are highly trained and heavily armed.
New York has not received specific threats related to Friday's plot, NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne told CNN.
The Jewish Federation's Haase said she had not heard reports of Chicago congregations altering plans for services on Friday evening, the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath.
"Everything was fine. Services were held as usual with no signs of anxiety," said Rabbi Michael Sternfield, who leads Chicago Sinai, after services Friday night. "There is really nothing to report."
Steven Bob, the rabbi at a synagogue in the western Chicago suburbs, said Friday that he was not concerned about the exposed plot.
"We generally pay careful attention to packages coming to the synagogue, accepting only those we're expecting or from a known sender," he said. "Today we were extra careful."
Bob said that there was plenty of email and phone traffic among Chicago Jewish leaders responding to news of the plot on Friday but that he didn't think worshippers would be deterred from Friday services.
"We live in a world that contains some people that are hostile to us and we want to respond to that hostility with caution," said Bob, who leads Etz Chaim in Lombard, Illinois. "At the same time, we're not going to go hide in the basement."
"I may say a word or two about this tonight, but I don't think it's worthy of a sermon," he said Friday. "What am I going to say, that I'm opposed to terrorism?"
– CNN's Susan Candiotti, Dan Gilgoff and Ross Levitt contributed to this report.

Gay 17-year-old in Sweden: 'Do not let other people's limited views get to you'

I am a happy, open, social and gay 17-year-old who refuses to let other people's prejudices to limit how I live my life.

Where did you get out?

- I knew I would not fall in love with girls the first time in sixth grade. In ninth grade I told my closest friends and first grade I came out to my family. My sisters' reaction was the most beautiful: "But, god, that was no surprise." My dad's brother is gay too so I think it had a bit gay indoctrination.

How is it to be openly gay in Eslöv?

-There are many people with dusty prejudices but now transforming into me not so much, I hang out with those who respect me. What is sad is that this is so bad about gay bars. There really is none at all in Sweden. The only places you can go out on the 20-year age limit so that I will not enter. Moreover, they always have weird fetish themes.

What is your advice to the girl or guy who is coming out?

- I think you should wait until you are really sure of himself. Do not let other people's parochialism get to you, but trust your feelings and that you are a cruel person just like everyone else. Maybe even better. Haha. No, but if you live in a small city sticking it out a bit of course, for better or worse. It's good to be a bit TOUGH.

Why should I read your blog?

- There are many gay bloggers who live in big cities like Stockholm, but few of the smaller Swedish towns. I will be blogging and explaining why all gays do not like fetish clubs (that's the only type found in southern Sweden), make music and make-up tips and an insight into what it is like to be openly gay in this town. Mattiasdeluxi Blog ...

Sanna Trygg

Happy Halloween: Which is Your Favorite Witch?

October 31, 2010 
Happy Halloween: Which is Your Favorite Witch?
Have a look at the pics below then CLICK HERE to take the survey and vote for your favorite witch.  Don’t see her here?  No worries, there’s a place for a write-in!
Ann "Jon Edwards is a f*ggot" Coulter
Michele "bat shyt crazy" Bachmann
Christine "I'm not a witch and please don't masturbate" O'Donnell
Michelle "Obama is the Devil" Malkin
Jan "the headless bodies in the sand" Brewer
Sharon "gay people should be in jail" Angle
Janet "gay people are possessed by Satan" Porter
Julainne "gay people are lucky we let them live where they want" Appling
Sarah "you betcha you can pray away the gay" Palin.

Will God Forgive Will Lynch For Beating Up The Priest Who Forced Him To Fellate His Brother When They Were Boys?

What to do if you're Will Lynch (pictured), a 43-year-old San Francisco man, who's still just a bit upset over being molested by his priest — and forced to have sex with his own brother in the woods — when he was a boy? You find that priest and kick his ass. And then get arrested.
Lynch was released on $25,000 bail yesterday after surrendering to police earlier in the day. Facing charges of assault with a deadly weapon for attacking the Rev. Jerold Lindner — known as Father Jerry — on May 10. Lynch allegedly stopped by the Jesuit Sacred Heart Retirement Center in Los Gatos, where his 65-year-old former Jesuit priest lives, under the guise of a visitor delivering news of a family member's death; instead, police say Lynch began punching him in the lobby in front of others and fleeing on foot when Lindner fell to the ground.
And that's the difference between Lynch and Lindner: Lynch allegedly assaulted the priest in front of on-lookers, while Lindner allegedly assaulted the then-7-year-old boy and his 5-year-old brother Bart without witnesses. (The woods sure can be a private place!) And perhaps that's why Lindner was never charged with any abuse, and Lynch faces felony charges and four years in prison.
Lindner and the church did, however, pay a $625,000 settlement to Lynch and his brother in 1998 following allegations of the 1975 molestation in the Santa Cruz Mountains, which included forced oral sex between the brothers, as well as physical torture of the boys (Lindner allegedly sodomized Will during the fellatio). Lindner has faced accusations of sexual abuse from at least a dozen other victims, including nieces and nephews and his own sister when they were as young as three. None of which kept Lindner from the church: Despite being named in two sexual abuse lawsuits in the years before and after the Lynch boys' abuse, Lindner was removed from the church only in 2001 and sent to the Jesuit retirement home. Those cases settled in 2007 as part of a $660 million deal with 550 plaintiffs.
Lynch has faced a world of hurt since the molestation, reportedly attempting suicide twice and suffering from depression and alcohol abuse. In a 2002 interview, Lynch told the LAT, "Many times I thought of driving down to LA and confronting Father Jerry. I wanted to exorcise all of the rage and anger and bitterness he put into me. You can't put into words what this guy did to me. He stole my innocence and destroyed my life." But he's likely out of luck if he wants to see Lindner criminally prosecuted: the 35-year-old crime falls outside the statute of limitations. And given Lindner spent 16 years teaching at the Los Angeles area Loyola High School, where he formed after school clubs, I would imagine there are more stories out there too late to punish Lindner with.
After driving himself to the hospital to tend to his cuts and bruisers, Lindner is back at the retirement home, where depending on who you ask, he either "cares for" some 75 infirm priests or communes with other sex offenders: A $7.5 million settlement was paid to two developmentally disabled dishwashers who alleged sexual abuse at the retirement hom.; Lindner befriended Br. Charles Connor, one of the men accused of the abuse.
Lynch's attorney says his client is not guilty. [KTVUAP; Read more about the Lynch molestation accusations at Counter Punch]


Andrew Shirvell's rants against a University of Michigan student leader who is openly gay could cost him his law license

Deborah Gordon, the attorney for U-M student Chris Armstrong, said Friday she has filed a complaint with the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission against Shirvell, a Michigan assistant attorney general, on behalf of her client.
The complaint alleges Shirvell harassed and defamed Armstrong during what Gordon describes as a six-month campaign "of lies, dishonesty, heckling, hate speech and even job interference."
The commission could disbar Shirvell if it investigates.
"I could not stand by and let Mr. Shirvell continue his reckless, bullying behavior," Armstrong said in a statement.
Shirvell already is fighting a ban from the U-M campus. And he faces a Friday disciplinary hearing in the Attorney General's Office.

U-M Student Leader: Bullyin Shirvell's attorney said Friday that the uproar has been fueled by the "liberal media" and that he is shocked that Armstrong filed the complaint since it came days after the U-M student dropped a court request for a personal protection order against Shirvell

Five days ago, Chris Armstrong wanted to focus on his classes, complete his senior year and finish his work with the Michigan Student Assembly. On Friday, the University of Michigan student leader took a step deeper into the controversy surrounding the attacks on him by a Michigan assistant attorney general.
In a news release announcing the filing of a complaint with the Michigan Attorney Grievance Commission, Armstrong said he had to take the action against Andrew Shirvell to keep him from bullying. His attorney is asking the commission to investigate and possibly disbar Shirvell.
"We just feel very strongly ... that you can't be a licensed attorney and an officer of the court and conduct yourself this way and essentially terrorize a college student," said Deborah Gordon, Armstrong's Bloomfield Hills attorney.
Armstrong is the first openly gay president of the U-M student assembly. Shirvell has been on a voluntary leave from the Attorney General's Office in the wake of a national uproar over attacks on Armstrong primarily on his blog, which is now private.
There, he posted a picture of Armstrong with a swastika across his face, called him "Satan's representative" on the student assembly and said he was promoting a "radical homosexual.
"Both sides made a good-faith pledge. There would be no further contact, no further problems. None of it makes sense to me," said attorney Philip Thomas of Grosse Pointe Park.
Armstrong filed the complaint on the grounds Shirvell has violated the Michigan Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys "by making obviously false, disgusting and utterly outlandish allegations about Armstrong's lifestyle," Gordon said.
The rule Shirvell is accused of violating says it's professional misconduct for a lawyer to "engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit, misrepresentation or violation of the criminal law."
Gordon herself filed a separate complaint against Shirvell, citing conduct rules that say a lawyer with knowledge that another lawyer is violating the rules shall inform the commission. She said she believes Shirvell is unfit to practice law.
She released a copy of her complaint, but declined to release Armstrong's complaint.
Gordon also sent a letter to Thomas in which she asked his client to retract statements he has made about Armstrong. In the letter, she says, "Mr. Shirvell is plainly out of control and has become obsessed with Mr. Armstrong."
On Friday afternoon, Thomas attended a hearing to try to overturn an order that bars Shirvell from stepping foot on the U-M campus. He expects to find out Monday whether the ban is lifted.
On Friday, he will represent his client in a disciplinary hearing at the Attorney General's Office -- the same day Shirvell returns to work after his leave began in early October.
Thomas said he couldn't comment on the specifics of the grievance commission complaint without seeing it.
But, he said, "everything that Mr. Shirvell did was protected by his First Amendment rights to free speech -- as objectionable as somebody may find it."
Gordon rejected that argument, saying: "Defamation is not protected by the First Amendment."

Contact Lori Higgins: 313-222-6651 or lhiggins@freepress.com

October 30, 2010

The dilemma about 'The Dilemma': Why Ron Howard and GLAAD are both right, and both wrong


dilemmaWhen I saw the first trailer for The Dilemma, opening with Vince Vaughn proclaiming “electric cars are gay,” I remember thinking first, “Ugh, not another lame gay joke,” thinking second, “Ugh, not another lame boneheaded dudes comedy,” and thinking third, “Whoa, Ron Howard directed this?” And then I didn’t think about it at all — the trailer and the movie left my brain immediately. In fact, if it hadn’t been for Anderson Cooper obliquely referencing the trailer while discussing the recent rash of coverage of anti-gay bullying and gay youth suicides on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, I don’t think I would have given another moment’s thought to The Dilemma — save the decision not to see it when it comes out in theaters Jan. 14.
Instead, thanks to Mr. Cooper, GLAAD, Universal Pictures, Vince Vaughn, and now Ron Howard, I’ve given many a moment’s thought to this movie, more so than it likely deserves. And what really cheeses my Jell-o is that yesterday’s latest development — Howard’s statement to The Los Angeles Times that he’s not pulling the “electric cars are gay” joke from the finished film, and GLAAD’s recrimination of that decision — has proven to be the development most worth thinking about, and discussing at length, in this whole protracted media kerfluffle. Because, dagnabit, it turns out Howard and GLAAD are both right, and both wrong, in ways that make plain just where we are as a culture when it comes to censorship, sensitivity and protracted media kerfluffles. 
First, Howard is absolutely right when he says, “I defend the right for some people to express offense at a joke as strongly as I do the right for that joke to be in a film. But if storytellers, comedians, actors and artists are strong armed into making creative changes, it will endanger comedy as both entertainment and a provoker of thought.” Howard also notes that “I don’t strip my films of everything that I might personally find inappropriate,” nor should he. Howard should be able to make whatever movie he wants — which is to say, whatever a studio wants to pay for. And Universal should be able to release whatever it wants — which is to say, whatever movie theaters want to put on their screens. And we, as moviegoers, have the right protest whatever we want — which is to say, not shell out money to see bad and/or offensive movies.
This is such a fundamental part of the American way of life, it feels a bit odd to have to spell it out. It’s also why the fine folks at GLAAD calling upon Howard and Universal to cut their gay electric cars joke isn’t just wrong, it’s wrongheaded. Condemn the joke, sure. Organize a boycott of the movie, even. But demanding filmmakers change their films to fit your worldview (however just and honorable that worldview may be) does your cause few favors. How would GLAAD feel if Focus on the Family demanded director Lisa Cholodenko cut all the same-sex smooching in last summer’s The Kids Are All Right? That’s a specious comparison, I know, but that’s pretty much what “a slippery slope” is meant to evoke.
Of course, one would hope we can all at least understand where GLAAD’s overreaching is coming from. It has been a particularly distressing few months for gay Americans, thanks especially to how visible gay suicides have been in the national media. (And let’s be clear: According to statistics from the Trevor Project, we’re not living through a surge in gay suicides and homophobic bullying; we’re living through a surge in coverage of gay suicides and homophobic bullying.) In his statement condemning Ron Howard’s decision to keep the gay electric cars joke in The Dilemma, GLAAD president Jarrett Barios was nonetheless right on the mark when he noted that the uproar surrounding the film ”will help schools, media and parents understand the impact of the word ‘gay’ being used as a pejorative.”
One would also hope Howard, an Oscar-winning filmmaker with a well-earned reputation in Hollywood as the nicest of nice guys, would perhaps be keen to step into that discussion. Instead, to the L.A. Times, he offers the explanation that Vince Vaughn’s character Ronny Valentine “has a mouth that sometimes gets him into trouble and he definitely flirts with the line of what’s okay to say. He tries to do what’s right but sometimes falls short. Who can’t relate to that?” Howard goes to call Ronny “flawed,” “far from perfect,” “outrageous,” “offensive,” and “inappropriate.” At no time, however, does he appear to acknowledge, let alone understand, that making Ronny outrageous and offensive by in part having him crack a casual gay joke says volumes about what we as a culture are willing to tolerate in outrageous and offensive studio comedy characters. Ronny didn’t compare electric cars to black people, or Jews, or the physically challenged. Why? Because the audience would’ve hated him for it, and he wouldn’t have won our sympathies as the film’s protagonist. But calling electric cars “gay”? Apparently, no worries there.
Indeed, Howard appears more annoyed that his film is taking heat for a sin perpetrated by “many movies and TV shows that preceded it that have even more provocative characterizations and language…we never expected [the joke] to represent our intentions or the point of view of the movie or those of us who made it.” Well, first of all, if you don’t want a gay joke to speak for your movie, don’t put it in your trailer. Second of all, yes, movies like The Hangover, Hot Tub Time Machine, and Wild Hogs have all served up crasser homophobia as fodder for comedy. But that doesn’t suddenly absolve The Dilemma for its watered-down homophobic humor.
Yeesh. This is exhausting. At the risk of being Captain Hindsight, if only GLAAD had put out a simple statement denouncing The Dilemma‘s gay joke and asking audiences not to see the movie, and if only Ron Howard had responded with, “You know what, my bad, it was in poor taste, I’ll strive to do better,” and if only GLAAD had replied by thanking Howard for his candor, we all could have been spared this wearying, month-long back-and-forth. Put another way, if everyone had behaved with the kind of clear-eyed honesty and great good humor displayed in this fantastic (and hilariously NSFW) scene from FX’s Louiewe would have all truly learned the role comedy can play in, to quote Howard, “pointing out differences and unifying us through laughter.”

In a taxi with... Lulu, Heather Small and Anastacia, AKA Here Come the Girls

Three loud and proud vocal legends turn it up to 11 as they explain how they got together for a touring celebration of sisterhood 
Here Come the Girls
Belting belles, from left: Lulu, Heather Small, Anastacia
We hear them before we see them. The three women striding across the courtyard of BBC Television Centre in West London are exuding enough oestrogen – no, let’s call it tes-sisterone – to power a small city. The turbocharged voices of Lulu (diminutive, all in white), Heather Small, late of M People (Amazonian, all in black) and Anastacia (statuesque, in black and white) are drowning out the sounds of traffic, which will be reassuring to those who’ve bought the cheapest seats for their forthcoming sisterhood soul revue Here Come the Girls, back for a second run after its sellout debut last year (when the original line-up included Chaka Khan, now replaced by Heather). Yes, these girls can P-R-O-J-E-C-T.
‘This time we’re louder,’ yells Lulu, as they clamber into the cab.
‘This time we’re prouder,’ bellows Anastacia. ‘We’re starting at 11 and cranking it up from there.’
Our cabbie, Paul from Uxbridge, shoots me a stricken look and quietly turns off his intercom.
Fittingly, the 2010 incarnation of Here Come the Girls is bigger and brasher, with a £1 million stage set, a seven-piece band, and ‘new songs, sequences and routines’. Of course, the whole extravaganza stands or falls on the interplay between its front-women – so how’s the chemistry shaping up?
'We need to outdo Lady Gaga. How many costume changes does she do – nine or ten? We'll do 12!'
‘It’s awful,’ says Anastacia, wrinkling her nose. ‘Will we make it to opening night?’ She beams. ‘Get out of here! I knew I’d like Heather before I even met her.’
Heather attended last year’s tour as a punter. ‘As soon as the ladies came out, they gave it their all, and the audience were with them,’ she enthuses. ‘The first time I met Anastacia, she gave me a warm hug, not a showbiz hug.’
The show was Lulu’s brainchild, or, as she calls it, ‘all my fault’. She adds,
‘I did a couple of concerts with friends, and we had such fun, and I thought, why not turn this party into a tour where the audience can stand up, rock out, and come out thinking, “What a great night”?’
This philosophy is helped along by the kind of roof-raising anthems – ‘I’m Every Woman’, ‘Sisters Are Doin’ it for Themselves’ – that had last year’s audiences swinging in their stilettos, aided this time out by the addition of Heather’s
M People back catalogue (‘Search for the Hero’, ‘What Have You Done Today’, etc).
With Chaka Khan deciding she wasn’t up to the rigours of a second go-round, it falls to Heather to play the stormin’ soul sister. She seems energised at the prospect of sharing the stage with her generously-lunged peers. ‘I just kept knocking till they let me in,’ she grins. 
‘She’s got the cojones,’ declares Lulu. ‘While there are a lot of females who want to join us, there are certain ones who wouldn’t do it. She’s one of us,’ she beams at Heather. ‘She’s disciplined, with a similar drive.’
‘It’s not rivalry, it’s camaraderie,’ explains Heather. ‘We all love to perform. We’ve got no product to sell – we’re singing live on-stage just for the hell of it.’
‘No Auto-Tune for us,’ declares Lulu.
What about the routines – will it be all headsets and oiled-up backing dancers? Anastacia appears to be genuinely taken aback. ‘We have to sing, honey,’ she protests. ‘We’re not Beyoncé. But I think there’ll be a few costume changes.’
‘We need to outdo Lady Gaga,’ cries Lulu. ‘How many does she do – nine or ten? We’ll do 12!’
‘It’s easier for her, right? She’s only wearing a bra and pants to start with,’ points out Heather.
This seems an appropriate moment to ask if they expect any men to come
to the shows. ‘A lot came last year with their wives,’ asserts Anastacia. ‘They were dragged in…’
‘The gay guys were in their feather boas before the show even started,’
adds Lulu.
A relieved-looking Paul drops us off after the photo shoot. But Lulu has a parting shot: ‘Women together are great, the best, the strongest,’ she pronounces.  ‘We are the power.And when you get three together? Unstoppable.’
The Here Come the Girls UK tour will start on 22 November in Edinburgh; for full details visit gigsandtours.com



What a scorcher! Katy Perry shoots flames from her chest in sparky new pop video - though Lady Gaga did it first

Russell Brand has always thought new wife Katy Perry was a little firecracker - but the singer seems to have taken her groom's thoughts literally in her new video.
After an obsession with carefully-positioned cupcakes, Katie now appears to be shooting actual flames from her chest in the promo for new single Firework. 
However, though it's not the first time a pop star has shot flames from her chest - Lady Gaga did it on stage at hte Much Music Awards in Canada a year last June.
Scroll down to watch the video for new single Firework.
Bang on: Fireworks explode from Katy Perry's chest in her new music video for single Firework, which shows the singer standing on a balcony in Budapest with bangers shooting out of her bosom
Bang on: Fireworks explode from Katy Perry's chest in her new music video for single Firework, which shows the singer standing on a balcony in Budapest with bangers shooting out of her bosom
Sparky lady: Lady Gaga did the 'fireworks from chest' stunt at the Much Music Awards in Canada in June 2009n Canada in June 2009
Sparky lady: Lady Gaga did the 'fireworks from chest' stunt at the Much Music Awards in Canada in June 2009
But Katy has explained that her stunt was to symbolise the fighting spirit and 'life spark' latent in all human beings rather than simply for shock value.


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Thai Cabinet Backs Allowing Same Sex Unions

                Patpicha Tanakasempipat BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand’s cabinet approved a civil partnership bill ...