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Should Gay Marriage Be Legal? As of Dec. 19, 2013, gay marriagehas been legalized in17 US states (CA, CT, DE, HI, IA, IL, MA, MD, ME, MN, NH, NJ, NM, NY, RI, VT, andWA) and the District of Columbia.33 stateshave gay marriage bansthrough either laws or constitutional amendments or both.
Proponents argue that same-sex couples should have access to the same marriage benefits and public acknowledgment enjoyed by heterosexual couples and that prohibiting gay marriage is unconstitutional discrimination.
Opponents argue that altering the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman will further weaken a threatened institution and that legalizing gay marriage is a slippery slope that may lead to polygamous and interspecies marriages. Read more…
Proponents argue that same-sex couples should have access to the same marriage benefits and public acknowledgment enjoyed by heterosexual couples and that prohibiting gay marriage is unconstitutional discrimination.
Opponents argue that altering the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman will further weaken a threatened institution and that legalizing gay marriage is a slippery slope that may lead to polygamous and interspecies marriages.
The gay rights movement in the US can be traced back to the Stonewall Riots that occurred following a police raid on the Stonewall Inn in New York City at 3 a.m. on June 28, 1969. Police raids on gay bars were commonplace, but on this occasion the gay and lesbian patrons fought back and sparked days of protests. The Stonewall Riots marked the beginning of a political movement for gay rights during a time when it was illegal to have homosexual sex in all states except for Illinois.  Between 1969 and 1974, the number of gay organizations in the country swelled from fewer than 50 to nearly a thousand. 
Gay-rights activism in the 1970s focused more on personal liberation and visibility than on gaining access to institutions such as marriage. While some gay activists sought the right to marry in the early 1970s, others rejected marriage as “heterosexist and saw it as an outdated institution.  The gay liberation movement achieved a victory in Dec. 1973 when the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder and the American Psychological Association did the same in 1975. 
The increased visibility of the gay community prompted a well publicized backlash by opponents of gay-rights. One high-profile opponent of gay rights was singer and former Miss Oklahoma Anita Bryant who founded the group Save Our Children and campaigned to repeal local ordinances that prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation. During the 1980s, news of the AIDS epidemic increased homophobia and discrimination but also encouraged the gay community to further organize. Following the news that actor Rock Hudson was dying of AIDS, attitudes towards both AIDS and the gay community started to shift. In 1983, Congressman Gerry Studds (D-MA) became the first openly gay Congressman, followed by Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) in 1987. 
The current national debate on gay marriage was sparked by the Supreme Court of Hawaiis 3-1 ruling on May 5, 1993 that the state could not ban same-sex marriages without “a compelling reason to do so.  The case was sent back to a lower court but voters approved a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage before the courts settled the issue. Although a gay marriage was never performed in Hawaii, the issue gained national attention and prompted over 40 states over the next decade to pass Defense of Marriage Acts (DOMAs) that defined marriage as a legal union between one man and one woman.  On Sep. 21, 1996, President Bill Clinton signed the federal Defense of Marriage Act into law which defined marriage at the federal level as between a man and a woman. The federal DOMA statute ensured that no state would be forced to recognize gay marriages performed in other states and prevented same-sex couples from receiving federal protections and benefits given to married heterosexual couples.
On June 26, 2003, the US Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in Lawrence v. Texas that sodomy laws were unconstitutional. In overruling the courts June 30, 1986 decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, the court established a right to sexual privacy and Justice Antonin Scalia predicted in his dissent that the majority decision “leaves on pretty shaky grounds state laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.
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Our Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People campaign inspires first anti trafficking laws for South Africa. Read more here. CELEBRATE COMMUNITY FAIR TRADE.
The snowstorms and torrential rain that battered the Middle East in mid-December threatened to make this Christmas season an especially difficult one for Christians in Gaza.
Matthew McGarry, Catholic Relief Services’ country representative, described the situation as “quite bad.”
“There is extensive damage to infrastructure, and we haven’t been able to get our staff in until today,” McGarry told Catholic News Service on Tuesday. “We are targeting the most vulnerable families.”
Many schools remained closed because of structural damage, he added.
The bad weather has made a bad situation worse, he said, noting, “They have not yet been able to resume what passes for normal life in Gaza.”
While the northern part of the Gaza Strip saw floods that left thousands of families homeless, 10,000 people evacuated from their homes, and essential hospital personnel traveling to work by boat, most of the Gaza Strip’s tiny Christian community and its institutions are located in Gaza City itself and were saved from the worst of the storm, said Sami El-Yousef, regional director for Israel and the Palestinian territories for the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.
He said Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal had to cancel his Dec. 15 visit to celebrate Mass at Holy Family Parish, which traditionally opens the Christmas season in Gaza.
El-Yousef also had to cancel a planned visit to Gaza in which he was to serve as presenter for a three-way Christmas telecast Dec. 14 that included Holy Family Parish, a suburban Washington parish and one in Bethlehem, West Bank.
In addition, Egypt’s closure of smuggling tunnels that had served as a lifeline for Gazans increased prices of everyday commodities, and the cash-strapped Holy Family Parish found itself without any immediate funds to organize its annual Christmas party for the children, said El-Yousef. He said his organization was trying to provide funds with a bank transfer, but the money might not arrive in time to arrange for the modest celebration.
RAMALLAH, West Bank, Dec. 15 (UPI) — A winter storm in the Middle East has caused power outages, evacuations and resulted in the death of at least one person, officials say.
In the West Bank, at least one person was killed during the storm Saturday evening, while 53 others were injured in storm-related incidents, Ma’an News Agency reported.
So far, 5,980 people across the region have been rescued by civil defense forces — mostly drivers who became stranded on snowy areas.
Civil defense forces Public Relations Director Luay Bani Odeh advised people to not leave their homes due to the weather.
In Jerusalem and neighboring communities, more than 19,500 households were without power Saturday following the storm, Ynetnews.com reported.
A man named Ido, 35, from Ein Hemed, said he and his family were stranded without power for more than 24 hours, the report said.
“We covered ourselves and the children with blankets, to warm them any way possible. The biggest issue was with baby, thank God he is still nursing because if not we wouldn’t have had a way to warm his milk,” Ido said. “It’s like we have returned to the 19th century: No phone, no cellular network, we have no idea what’s going on outside.”
Local officials put blame on the Israel Electric Corp. for the power outages.
“Even the director-general of the Electric Corp., Yiftah Ron Tal, said that even if we would have trimmed the trees the problem wouldn’t have been solved,” a municipal official said, adding “the problem is with the infrastructure of certain areas. They haven’t been changed for years because of budgetary reasons.”
In the Gaza Strip, thousands of people had to be evacuated from their homes during the weekend due to flooding caused by the storm, Haaretz reported.
A veteran journalist who enjoys looking at the quirky side of life
Sometimes the most unlikely people become heroes. A feisty housewife who stood up to a band of militant Left-wing workers in Thiruvananthapuram a couple of days back has become one overnight. The setting was just outside Cliff House, the official residence of the Chief Minister, where the Left cadres were staging a symbolic blockade seeking his resignation over the solar panel scam.
Sandhya, a resident of the area returning on a two-wheeler after leaving her children at school, found that the road to her home was fully blocked by the agitators and police barricades.
She asked the police personnel to remove the barricade and let her pass. A local leader rudely told her to back off and take another route. This provoked the woman, who launched into a tirade, which was captured on TV cameras.
“Who gave you the right to block my way?” she thundered.
The embarrassed Left leaders asked the police to remove the barricade and let her go.
TV channels aired the tongue-lashing with glee and local newspapers gave saturation coverage to the confrontation. The spontaneous outburst touched a chord with the people fed up with the unending spree of agitations in the State.
Support for Sandhya poured in from all parts of the State while some Left leaders accused her of being a Congress sympathiser.
“I’m apolitical. You can check my background,” she averred.
Kochouseph Chittilappilly, founder of V Guard, praised her courage and announced a cash reward of Rs 5 lakh at the TiECon Kerala meet in Kochi on Friday.
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Jerry Falwell is best known for crusading against abortion and homosexuality. But early on, he skillfully used race to galvanize the Christian right.
Jerry Falwell, found unconscious in his office Tuesday, expired at age 73, spent much of his life hurling maledictions, and it is probably best to let him speak for himself. He was, after all, a preacher.
Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in TheNew York Times, theLos Angeles…
A continuing conversation about Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel.
Its deploying all its resources to fight the growing world movement against the occupation.
In 1984, Falwell called the gay-friendly Metropolitan Community Church “a vile and Satanic system” that will “one day be utterly annihilated and there will be a celebration in heaven.” Members of these churches, Falwell added, are “brute beasts.” Falwell initially denied his statements, offering Jerry Sloan, an MCC minister and gay rights activist $5,000 to prove that he had made them. When Sloan produced a videotape containing footage of Falwell’s denunciations, the reverend refused to pay. Only after Sloan sued did Falwell cough up the money.
Falwell uttered countless epithets over his long life–in 1999 he warned that Tinky Winky, a character on the children’s show Teletubbies, might be gay–but his most infamous remark arrived on the morning of 9/11, after the terrorist attacks, when he proclaimed, “I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say, ‘You helped this happen.’”
Though Falwell’s influence waned in his twilight years–his approval rating among evangelicals, according to a 2006 Pew Poll, had drifted downward to 46 percent–his well-publicized gaffes continued to make him one of the most recognizable figures of the Christian right. While the names of evangelical heavies like Focus on the Family founder and chairman James Dobson and Family Research Council president Tony Perkins are unknown to most people, Falwell’s pudgy visage remains the symbol of the culture war his apostles have inherited. As Perkins wrote of Falwell in a newsletter after his death, “He was a pioneer whose legacy, marked by courage and candor, blazed the trail for all men and women of conviction to engage–boldly–on the great questions of our day.”
But for Falwell, the “questions of the day” did not always relate to abortion and homosexuality–nor did they begin there. Decades before the forces that now make up the Christian right declared their culture war, Falwell was a rabid segregationist who railed against the civil rights movement from the pulpit of the abandoned backwater bottling plant he converted into Thomas Road Baptist Church. This opening episode of Falwell’s life, studiously overlooked by his friends, navely unacknowledged by many of his chroniclers, and puzzlingly and glaringly omitted in the obituaries of the Washington Post and New York Times, is essential to understanding his historical significance in galvanizing the Christian right. Indeed, it was race–not abortion or the attendant suite of so-called “values” issues–that propelled Falwell and his evangelical allies into political activism.
As with his positions on abortion and homosexuality, the basso profondo preacher’s own words on race stand as vivid documents of his legacy. Falwell launched on the warpath against civil rights four years after the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision to desegregate public schools with a sermon titled “Segregation or Integration: Which?”
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We hear disturbing reports this year from southern Israel. The Israeli government proposes to relocate some 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins from their present homes to government-approved townships. This is called the Prawer Plan, and Israels parliament approved it by a three-vote majority in June.
The Prawer Plan would destroy 35 Bedouin villages in the Naqab (Negev) region and extinguish Bedouin claims to land seized from them after the foundation of Israel. The government denies basic services to these villages. Right beside them, in many cases, are new, modern, fully serviced communities for Jewish settlers.
Supporters of the Prawer Plan say that it will compensate the Bedouin for their lost lands and improve their economic status. Unconvinced, the European Parliament has condemned the plan and demanded its withdrawal. So has the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, the UN Office for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch.
This plan has not been negotiated with the Bedouins and does not have their agreement. It is to be imposed on them. Many have called it ethnic cleansing.
Ethnic cleansing has been defined by the UN Security Council as the forcible removal by one ethnic or religious group of another such group in a geographic area. When I think of ethnic cleansing, I recall my own experience in France under Nazi occupation during the Second World War.
Six months before I was born, the French government of the time passed laws excluding Jews from the civil service, education, the media and other professions. They repealed the law against anti-Semitism and started a massive anti-Jewish hate campaign. Large numbers of Jews were rounded up and put in concentration camps.
Much of France was then under Nazi occupation, but the Nazis didnt ask for these measures. The French authorities volunteered and did it on their own. But soon the Nazis got into the act. They had a vast project to clear 10 million Jews out of all European countries not to deport but to exterminate them.
Ethnic cleansing on a grand scale.
The French police handed over to the Nazis tens of thousands of Jews and other French people to be sent to Auschwitz, the Nazi death camp in Poland, where they were almost all slaughtered. French authorities tore children from the arms of their mothers, and handed over the mothers to be exterminated.
Then, weeks later, the children were packed into a death train and sent to Auschwitz to also to die there. Among the adult victims was my mother, killed in Auschwitz in 1943.
This book examines and assesses the covert activities of the Bilderberg Group, a Group which was founded and financed by David Rockefeller and the Rothschild banking empire in 1954, and which took its name from the “Hotel Bilderberg, in Holland, in which its first meeting was held and in which the initial members made their covenant and agreed to meet each following year.
In attendance, at that meeting, were one hundred of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful men — all chosen on the basis of their common interests and shared beliefs which tended toward the elimination of nationalism (national sovereignty) and the creation of a World Bank, a one-world socialist government, and a New World Order. They met at Rockefeller’s behest to debate, analyze and plan the future of the world, and these are the goals toward which the Bilderberg Group has striven from that day forward.
This Group has been shielded from public view for almost its entire existence, which is not surprising since the participants in this “private” enterprise own or control virtually all of the major news media and entertainment outlets in both the U.S. and Europe. As a result, few Americans even know of its existence and far fewer have any idea what it is or what it stands for. That has been good for the Bilderbergers, but not so good for you or for the sovereign nation in which you live. For, whether you know it or not, this covert group has changed your world and your life and will almost certainly create the world in which your children and grandchildren will live — and none of it for the better.
The book also provides a great deal of information concerning the Bilderbergers’ two sister organizations: 1) the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR); a group which was founded in 1921 by the known Marxist, Edward Mandell House, President Woodrow Wilson’s chief advisor; and which was funded by John D. Rockefeller, Sr.; and 2) the Trilateral Commission (TC), another group which was founded and financed by David Rockefeller, this time in 1973. Like the Bilderberg Group, these organizations are also “private” entities (non-governmental). But, as the author clearly shows, they share a common ideology and many members with the Bilderbergers, and like that Group have, and have had, a direct bearing on the future of the United States Government, its policies and its people.
What makes it even more disconcerting, at least according to this author, is that the vast majority of appointees to virtually all positions of power by every president-elect since Dwight D. Eisenhower, regardless of political party, have been members of one or more of these three “private” organizations. One can’t help but wonder, then: Just who is running this nation’s government, the elected President (who in all probability was “chosen” and put in office by members of these groups), the Bilderbergers, the CFR, or the Trilateral Commission? And where are we headed?
If this seems a little disconcerting, it should! Especially when you consider that these “private” organizations have their own, mostly shared agenda, and, although presumably private entities, count among their members/attendees the likes of Bill Clinton, Paul Wolfowitz, Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, and Jimmy Carter along with heads of state, businessmen, politicians, bankers and journalists from around the world who, among them, control the means of disseminating, slanting, or not reporting news and information to the American and European people.
You’ll learn a lot about the Bilderberg Group, the CFR, the TC and the future world in which you’ll likely live by reading this book. And, perhaps for the first time, you’ll begin to understand how we got where we are today and why the United States has been systematically heading in the wrong direction since 1954. You won’t like it, but that’s no reason not to read the book. For, if the American people don’t soon wake up, we will likely lose our national sovereignty and become slaves to an unelected one-world socialist United Nations government overseen and controlled by the world’s international bankers. That’s the plan.
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Editor: In a comment to an earlier post about the OB Rags crossroads, Kathleen Blavatt a longtime OB and Point Loma activist submitted the following plea for the establishment of an OB historical green zone. Kathleen is a stalwart with the OB Historical Society
Mohammed Al Majdalawi
This mother has three daughters and two sons. When they ask me to teach them English and I cannot give it to them, they ask me why. she exclaims. I explain to them that it is because I spent my whole life under occupation but this does not explain things any further to them, they still ask me Why? and I am shy that I have no answer for them. For a myriad of reasons she had dropped out of her prep school aged 13. Her family hadnt been able to support her studies, the transport restrictions with Israeli checkpoints, the curfews, the extra demands to help her family and community in these difficult times, not to mention the pressures around starting her own family. Now she is determined that her children can have the opportunities of which she was deprived.
So I come here to learn English and I hope that this will be the last time that we live like this, forever.
So our project is intent on teaching English to women and their children with Ajyal Association, called Lets Learn English focusing on rural areas. This project is winner of Youth for Change project and implemented in Ajyal Association for Creativity and development in the east of Gaza city. The project is funded by Takingitglobal , Bibliotheca Alexandrina , Zaatar Organization , Ajyal Association for Creativity and Development , and Palestine Youth Committee
During my work as both an assistant coordinator for English language teaching and as a documentary film director, I saw the hopes in the faces of many women and their children who want to speak and learn English. In this project we aim to teach children and their mothers, exploring creative ways such as songs, videos and participation in group and partner activities. We work with volunteers like social workers and English students in universities, using simple materials like my laptop, even recording songs mixed in Arabic and English.
For example, the song baba means father, and mama means mother. This is part of the lyrics of a song about names of family members and the kind of tool used for children and their mothers to use and remember them. Our group of trainers work together to design these classes, such as the personal information in English segment. Again we didnt have the entire material available, but that didnt stop us from creating our own materials from simple equipment
It is a delight when we saw mothers challenging each other, one asking the other in arabic, If youre so good at speaking English, can you translate Im drinking tea?, to which the woman replied, yes, I am drunking tea
It was one of many funny incidents as the women show no fear in their attempts to speak English. Another woman said not only was she continuing the teaching of English at home to her children, she had even begun to teach her husband too.
Sarah, a coach in the Let’s Learn English projects spoke about how the teaching methods were sinking in:
When we had a revision class on days and months, colors, body, and time, I wrote on the board the letters of the alphabet and told the women to write a word for every letter. Many women specifically remembered the words taught in the class.
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