poetics, time, body disruption and marginally queer solutions

Friday, January 21, 2005

Small Names, Big Checks
Aside from the usual corporate suspects, there's a second tier of (deliberately) low-profile donors underwriting Bush's inaugural.
By Michael Scherer

Therese Shaheen, the former U.S. envoy to Taiwan, wrote a $250,000 check so that her Asian business clients can rub shoulders this week with George W. Bush. "Outsiders are fascinated by the president's inaugural, so it's nice for them," says Shaheen, who resigned her post as the head of the U.S. diplomatic mission to Taiwan last April and returned to the private sector. "The inauguration is always good for business development."

But only a few people, including the president's staff, know that Shaheen is responsible for the donation, which entitles her clients to tickets to top-tier events with President Bush and Vice President Cheney. That is because she donated the funds through the Strongbow Technologies Corporation, a company that lists no phone number and whose mailing address is a post office box in the Maryland suburbs of Washington D.C. According to the State of Delaware, the company no longer even exists under that name, having been reincorporated in December as U.S. Asia Strongbow Technologies Corporation. "I'm just starting it back up," Shaheen explains, adding that the company has several new contracts, which she would not discuss.

SENEGAL: Gay community plays it quietly in face of social taboos
Source: IRIN

DAKAR, 21 January (IRIN) - The meeting-place was at a noisy down-market street café where the waiter as well the clients were gay, but where everyone was staunchly pretending not to be. Senegal's homosexual men are peeping out from behind the mask, but social and religious taboos run strong.

"We are always pretending," said one of a couple of the leaders of the country's underground movement who had agreed to come out of the woodwork to talk to IRIN on condition of anonymity. "Sometimes we feel sick of the lies."

The Ghosts of Torture
New attorney general twists the rule of law to which he is 'deeply committed'
by Nat Hentoff

On December 22, the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, whose reports on the administration's abuses of civil liberties since 9-11 have been invaluable, wrote a letter to Alberto Gonzales before his Senate confirmation hearing on certain legal issues that arose during his tenure in that office.

One of these concerned "extraordinary renditions," the procedure by which noncitizen prisoners whom the CIA and other agencies can't get to talk are sent to be interrogated in other countries known to engage in torture. Dana Priest's brilliant investigative reporting on the airplane that transports these hard cases ran in the December 27 Washington Post. Titled "Jet Is an Open Secret in Terror War," it begins:

"The airplane is a Gulfstream V turbojet, the sort favored by CEOs and celebrities. But since 2001, it has been seen at military airports from Pakistan to Indonesia to Jordan, sometimes being boarded by hooded and handcuffed passengers."

Queer Eye for the Straight Cartoon Guy
by Jill Rachel Jacobs

The world is in turmoil. War, terrorism and the recent tsunami that knocked the world off its axis have not only permeated the news, but left many of us in a state of perpetual devastation. And of course, let’s not forget Jen and Brad. Indeed, these are tough times.

That’s why the timing of the latest gay hysteria alert from the religious right is all the more confusing. This time they’re going after Spongebob Squarepants. And this time they’ve gone too far.

Analysis: Iraq Shadows Bush's Inaugural
By RON FOURNIER, AP Political Writer

WASHINGTON - Not a word on Iraq. President Bush's inaugural address contained 2,000 words of passion and promise for his second term, but no direct mention of the war that could sink it.

The conflict in Iraq, win or lose, could define his presidency. Bush knows this as well as anyone, which explains his strategic omission.

As he swore the oath for a second time, U.S. casualty totals in Iraq stood at more than 1,360 dead and 10,500 wounded. The war already cost $100 billion, with a pricetag running at more than $1 billion a week.

Gay man wins asylum

MINISTRY of Justice chief executive Sakiusa Rabuka has called on overseas immigration authorities to check with local authorities before granting asylum or permanent residency to Fiji citizens.

Mr Rabuka made the call after a Fiji-born homosexual, Samson Verma, 34, won asylum in France by alleging homosexual discrimination in Fiji.

Lawsuit seeks answers to gay scenes cut from Lincoln Memorial video

Two civil liberties groups filed suit against the National Park Service this week demanding the release of documents that they believe show the agency caved in to right-wing demands to cut scenes of gay rights demonstrations from the Lincoln Memorial visitor center video. Two years ago, the antigay Traditional Values Coalition and other conservative groups claimed the existing video is not balanced because it shows gay rights, pro-choice, and anti-Vietnam War rallies at the memorial but not conservative demonstrations. The Park Service agreed to reedit the video, but so far has apparently not done so.

Nepal: Illegal killings on the increase

The number of people who are being illegally killed in Nepal is increasing and those responsible are using more sophisticated tactics to hide their crimes, according to a new report by Amnesty International.

"Both the security forces and the Maoists are deliberately executing civilians and unarmed fighters" said Ingrid Massage, Asia Director at Amnesty International. "What is most chilling is that these killings are going completely unpunished, despite numerous promises by the

Thursday, January 20, 2005


Transsexual's appeal against army non-admission fails

PRAGUE- The military medical commission in Hradec Kralove, east Bohemia, has today definitely turned down the appeal of Jaroslava Brokesova, who was allegedly rejected by the military because she changed her sex, Brokesova said.

Brokesova, 38, said she feels discriminated against by the military's rejection. She said the commission changed the official reason for non-admission from transsexuality to health problems.

"They clearly erred by not considering me a woman," Brokesova said. She added that she does not yet know how to respond to the commission's decision and that she must consult her lawyer first. She said she may require financial compensation.


Indiana Gay Marriage Ban Upheld
by Newscenter Staff

(Indianapolis, Indiana) The Indiana Court of Appeals on Thursday ruled that the state's so-called defense of marriage act is legal.

"What we decide today is that the Indiana Constitution does not require the governmental recognition of same-sex marriage," the court said in a written ruling, noting that "the Legislature is certainly free to grant such recognition or create a parallel institution under that document.''

Transsexual UM student fights for equal rights

ORONO - An internship at Walt Disney World in sunny Orlando, Fla., seems like a great opportunity for almost any business student, but for one University of Maine student, it has become a fight for her rights. Claire, who is referred to by first name only to protect her safety, was accepted last fall to the Walt Disney World College Program for a seven-month internship.

But there's a twist: Claire, 23, is a transsexual, and Disney offers only single-sex housing.

When Claire told Disney officials about her situation, they gave her two options: Cut her hair and go back to living as a male, or live alone in a two-person apartment and pay double the amount of rent


Louisiana court reinstates ban on gay marriage

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Louisiana Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously reinstated the anti-gay marriage amendment to the state constitution that was overwhelmingly approved by voters in September.

Illinois Legislature Passes Bill to Protect Gay Citizens from Discrimination

The Illinois legislature approved a bill last week to amend the Illinois Human Rights Act to include protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation in the areas of employment, housing, public accommodations, and credit. The Chicago Tribune reports that the passing vote of 65-51 in the Illinois House was the result of urging from several African-American legislators who likened the legislation to that which was considered and passed decades ago during the civil rights movement.

Action Alert

Urge Labor Department to Keep Collecting Data on Women Workers

Take Action:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a division of the Department of Labor, has announced that it will stop collecting employment data on women. Please tell the BLS and your Members of Congress that this information is absolutely essential, and its elimination will ultimately lead to an increase in workplace inequality. The BLS claims that the decision to eliminate collection is related to the lack of demand for the numbers, but the real reason relates to conservatives' intention to downplay women's important economic role and the disparities in their pay, promotion and job assignments. By sending messages to your representatives and directly to the BLS, we may be able to stop this conservative move to "disappear" women.

Timing, as always, is vital. The comment period ends on Feb. 22 and we need you to contact the Bureau of Labor Statistics as soon as possible. We cannot allow the government to eliminate this important source of economic data that informs good public policy.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Religious Leadership Roundtable Denounces Homophobic Statements of Eugene Rivers
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Religious Leadership Roundtable says 'The language of civil rights is open to all who seek equality'

Religious Leadership Roundtable Denounces Homophobic Statements of Eugene Rivers

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Religious Leadership Roundtable says 'The language of civil rights is open to all who seek equality'

On January 12, 2005, the Grand Rapids Press (Grand Rapids, Michigan) reported on a speech given by Reverend Eugene Rivers of Boston stating that the gay rights movement had co-opted the language of the civil rights movement for its own benefit. The following is a response from the National Religious Leadership Roundtable of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

"On January 12, the Reverend Eugene Rivers made several ill-informed and offensive statements about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, particularly about the struggle for equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. Reverend Rivers called the gay rights movement's use of the language of civil rights, 'an exercise in marketing and merchandising,' and suggested gay advocates were 'playing the race card' to gain societal sympathy. It is unfortunate that Reverend Rivers has aligned himself with leaders of the religious right who attempt to pit people of color against gay people. These individuals argue, incorrectly, that laws protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people are 'special rights' that threaten the civil rights of other minorities.

Tsunami deaths soar past 212,000

JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- The Indonesian Health Ministry said Wednesday that the December 26 earthquake and tsunamis killed 166,320 people in Indonesia, jumping the regional death toll for the disaster to 212,611.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Supreme Court rejects military sodomy case

The U.S. Supreme Court declined on Tuesday to review an Air Force lieutenant's criminal conviction for having sex with a 15-year-old boy, which the officer contended was protected by a previous court decision overturning state statues that criminalized gay sex. Justices, without comment, rejected the appeal by Second Lt. Ryan W. Davis. He pleaded guilty to consensual sodomy and conduct unbecoming an officer in military court following an April 1997 meeting with a boy at a park in Gulf Breeze, Fla. Davis was subsequently dismissed from the Air Force, confined for 24 months, and ordered to forfeit all pay and allowances.


Patong's ladyboys struggle to cope in badly damaged tourist industry
Jonathan Watts in Patong beach
The Guardian

Even without the high heels and the giant blue plumes of her feathered headdress, Jana is a very tall girl. In fact, she normally towers over most of the customers at the Moulin Rose (sic) cabaret club, where she performs lip-synch renditions of The Power of Love. But tonight, she is slumped in a chair and feeling low.
For Jana is one of the hundreds of "lady-boys" on the red-light strip of Patong beach who survived the tsunami but are struggling to cope with its economic aftermath: the devastation of a large chunk of Thailand's tourist industry.

Gay marriage debate comes to Navajo Nation

WINDOW ROCK -- The debate over same sex marriage is coming to the Navajo Nation.
Tribal Council delegate Larry Anderson Sr. has proposed legislation that would restrict a recognized union to a relationship between a man and woman.

"Navajo Nation laws ... are outdated and need to be updated. That's why I'm asking for an amendment that states it is unlawful to have a marriage between two (same) sexes," Anderson, the delegate from Fort Defiance, said.

Critics of the proposed legislation say Anderson is attempting to rewrite cultural history to parallel conservative Christian backlash against gay rights across the United States.

School censored report on gay teens club

School students were forced to leave a blank space on the editorial page of their school newspaper after the school's principal ordered teachers to remove two opinion pieces about a new club for straight and gay teens.

Kendall Johnson, the principal of Berkmar High School in Lilburn, Georgia, argued that the editorials would disturb students during exam time. A spokeswoman said the item was "inflammatory in nature and could be disruptive". The paper, called The Liberty, debated whether a student club - the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Society - should meet on school grounds. Liberty editor L'Anita Weiler, 18, and student copy editor Kelly Shaul, 17, distributed copies of the editorials to Berkmar students after the paper was published in December. "We wanted to run a censored stamp on the page. But Mr. Johnson censored our 'censored' stamp, which is pointless," Shaul said.

US Military Personnel Growing Critical of the War in Iraq
By Georg Mascolo and Siegesmund von Ilsemann

US military officials are becoming increasingly vocal in their criticism of the war in Iraq, telling Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that more troops are needed to prevail over the insurgents. Moreover, recruitment is down and more reservists and members of the National Guard are being sent to Baghdad.

The war is over, at least as far as Darrell Anderson is concerned. Anderson, a 22-year-old GI from Lexington, Kentucky, deserted a week ago, heading across the US' loosely controlled border with Canada. When his fellow soldiers in the First US Tank Division, stationed in Hessen, Germany, ship out to Iraq for their second tour of duty, he'll be in Canada.

Anderson spent seven months in Iraq last year as a part of a unit assigned the dangerous mission of guarding police stations in Baghdad. He was wounded by grenade shrapnel during an insurgent attack, was awarded the Purple Heart and allowed to spend Christmas at home in the United States. But instead of returning to duty, Anderson fled to Toronto.


Beyond the Death Zone
By Ullrich Fichtner

First a tsunami and now maybe a return to war. Three weeks after the disaster, signs are mounting that the tense cease fire in Aceh may be eroding. But as relief work progresses and the remaining victims are buried, the region needs peace like never before.

PM steps into same-sex marriage debate in India
Martin runs into same-sex debate News Staff

The same-sex marriage debate has followed Prime Minister Paul Martin all the way to India, after the spiritual leader of the Sikhs urged his followers to reject the legalization of gay marriage.

Two days before Martin arrived in New Delhi, Joginder Singh Vedanti issued an edict directing his followers around the world to reject the legalization of gay marriage. Vedanti said, "Same-sex marriage originates from a sick mind."

Food Health Bribery

Monsanto fined for bribing Indonesian officials to avoid environmental studies for Bt cotton. The Bt cotton was introduced in Indonesia in 2001 but taken off the market again by 2003 because it failed: it produced lower yields, it didn't protect the cotton plants against the relevant pests, and even Monsanto did not find it "economically viable".

On 6 January 2005, Monsanto (USA) was fined US$ 1.5 million for bribing government officials in Indonesia to avoid a decree that demanded an environmental risk assessment for the Bt cotton Bollgard. The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) charged Monsanto with illicit payments in violation with the Foreign Corruption Act (FCAP), with bribery including US$ 50,000 in cash to repeal an decree requiring an environmental risk assessment, falsifying books and invoices, and “questionable payments” such as for the purchase of land and the design and construction of a house in the name of the wife of a senior Ministry of Agriculture official. Such payments of approximately US$ 700,000 were made to at least 140 current and former Indonesian government officials and their family members from 1997 to 2002 (SEC 2005).

Abu Ghraib, Darfur: Call for Prosecutions
Human Rights Watch’s 2005 Report Covers 60-Plus Countries

(Washington D.C.) –The worldwide system for protecting human rights was significantly weakened in 2004 by the crisis in Darfur and the Abu Ghraib scandal, Human Rights Watch said in releasing its annual world survey today.

While the two threats are not equivalent, the vitality of global human rights depends on a firm response to each—on stopping the Sudanese government’s slaughter in Darfur and on fully investigating and prosecuting all those responsible for torture and mistreatment in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo.

“The U.S. government is less and less able to push for justice abroad, because it’s unwilling to see justice done at home,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch.

Iraq under occupation

US and British occupation of Iraq is regarded as the re-emergence of the old colonialist practices of the western empires in some quarters. The real ambitions underlying the brutal onslaught are still highly questionable - and then there are the blatant lies over weapons of mass destruction originally used to justify the war. There were no great victory marches by the occupiers, nor were they thrown garlands of flowers and greeted in triumph. More US soldiers have died in Iraq since George Bush declared an end to the war on 1 May 2003 prompting the question: Will Iraq turn into a new Vietnam eventually bringing the US to its senses ... or perhaps to its knees?

Our Velvet Revolution
by Doris 'Granny D' Haddock

A growing number of Americans are beginning to identify with the pro-democracy activists whose courage opened much of the world to freedom in the final decades of the 20th Century.

We remember and honor the poet revolutionary Vaclav Havel of Czechoslovakia, where Charter 77 rendered the flowers and songs of a velvet revolution more powerful than the guns of oppression. We remember the shipyard hero, Lech Walesa, of Poland. We remember those who stood non-violently in Russia, in Yugoslavia, in Tiananmen Square, in East and West Germany. It was their fearless living that ended the Cold War, not Reagan’s saber rattling.

From: Blue Diamond Society
18th January 2005

Update on the Supreme Court Case in Nepal:

The case filed by a lawyer Mr. Achyut Prasad Kharel, against the government seeking directions that bans the activities of Blue Diamond Society was taken up for hearing today by the Honourable Supreme Court, but was then adjourned as it was the end of day and there would have been no time for a proper hearing. Mr. Rup Narain Shrestha [Advocate], from the FWLD attended the court on behalf of Blue Diamond Society as their lawyer. Mr. Aditya Bondyopadhyay, a Human Rights lawyer from New Delhi with expertise on issues of human rights of sexual minorities, who has been deputed by Naz Foundation International to assist the BDS and its legal team from FWLD in the case, was also present in the court.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Eunuch suicide

Ahmedabad (PTI): An eunuch, Anju, committed suicide in a hotel by hanging herself from a ceiling fan in Gheekanta area. Anju killed herself when her roommate was away, police said.