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Dispatches from the Culture Wars – Not Ready for Prime Time edition

Bradley Manning is off limits at SF Gay Pride parade; Ohio air show pushed to drop Hiroshima raid reenactment; Raul Castro’s daughter denied visa to attend gay rights conference; Rape Case Solved By Anonymous in Less Than 2 Hours Despite "No Evidence"; Teamsters foil Westboro Baptist Church; Palestinian marathon tribute to Boston victims; Oscar Romero beatification; Amherst and the economists’ fuzzy math; Zuckerburg dishes out the dough for Keystone XL

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Bradley Manning is Off Limits at SF Gay Pride Parade, but Corporate Sleaze is Embraced

By Glenn Greenwald

April 27, 2013

Guardian (UK)

News reports yesterday indicated that Bradley Manning,  widely known to be gay, had been selected to be one of the Grand Marshals of the annual San Francisco gay pride parade, named by the LGBT Pride Celebration Committee. When the predictable backlash instantly ensued, the president of the Board of SF Pride, Lisa L Williams, quickly capitulated, proclaiming that "Manning will not be a grand marshal in this year's San Francisco Pride celebration" and termed his selection "a mistake".

However, while even a hint of support for Manning will not be tolerated, there is a long roster of large corporations serving as the event's sponsors who are welcomed with open arms.  So apparently, the very high-minded ethical standards of Lisa L Williams and the SF Pride Board apply only to young and powerless Army Privates who engage in an act of conscience against the US war machine, but instantly disappear for large corporations and banks that hand over cash.

World War II Atomic Bomb Re-enactment Dropped from Ohio Air Show After Outcry

April 18, 2013

CBS News

A popular southwest Ohio air show has canceled plans to stage a re-enactment of the devastating World War II atomic bomb attack on Japan after protests, officials said Thursday.  The June event at Dayton International Airport will keep a planned "Great Wall of Fire" pyrotechnic show but not as an event meant to re-enact the Aug. 6, 1945, bombing of Hiroshima. The B-29 plane "Fifi," similar to the Enola Gay B-29 bomber used to attack Japan, will remain in the show but in a separate role.

Art curator Gabriela Pickett started an online petition to object to the "glamorization of destruction… which would have been a celebration of dropping the bomb that killed hundreds of thousands of people." The show's contention that the bomb that killed so many Japanese ended up saving more lives is disputable — some historians say Japan would have surrendered without the atomic bomb attacks.

Organizer: Raul Castro’s daughter denied visa to attend gay rights conference

April 25, 2013


The daughter of Cuba President Raul Castro won’t be traveling to Philadelphia to accept an award for her gay rights advocacy. Officials at the Equality Forum said Thursday that the U.S. State Department has denied permission for Mariela Castro to attend the group’s annual conference.

Mariela Castro is the niece of retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro. She is the country’s most prominent gay rights activist and runs Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education, the leading Cuban LGBT organization that offers support and services to LGBT youth and seniors, provides HIV and STD education and prevention, and combats homophobia,

“It is shocking that our State Department would deny Ms. Castro travel to a civil rights summit,” said stated Malcolm Lazin, Executive Director, Equality Forum. Castro received a visa last year to attend events in New York and San Francisco.

Rehtaeh Parsons Rape Case Solved By Anonymous in Less Than 2 Hours Despite "No Evidence"

By Daniel Waugh

April 2013


The story of Rehtaeh is sadly typical these days; she went to a party, drank, was gang- raped by four boys, and then bullied so cruelly that she hung herself. My focus is on what happened after: How after a year of investigation, the police deduced that there wasn't enough evidence to charge any of the four assailants -- and how Anonymous proved them wrong in two hours. 

No, you didn't read that wrong. It only took two hours for the vigilante hacker group to show the world just how useless the RCMP (Who led the investigation) are. Once Anonymous made their rage and intent clear, they were flooded with witness testimony, and from there built the case of the RCMP’s incompetence on three points: that dozens of teens and adults had heard the rapists brag about taking part in the gang rape, that the photo taken of the rape was reportedly so widely circulated it's unlikely the authorities ever bothered to try and find it so they might look at the EXIF data, and that Parsons's school did nothing, despite the fact that child pornography was going viral in their hallways. 

Westboro Baptist Church No-Shows At Krystle Campbell Funeral As Teamsters Form Human Shield

April 22, 2013

The Inquisitr

Westboro Baptist Church protesters apparently did not show up at this morning’s funeral for Krystle Campbell. But the local Teamsters Union wasn’t taking any chances.

Hundreds of members of Local 25 of the Teamsters Union formed a human shield along the road approaching the church early this morning and stood silent guard to protect the funeral from any disruption by picketers. Union members mobilized via Facebook and Twitter. Some concerned citizens of Medford had contacted Local 25 over worries about Westboro protests during the Krystle Campbell funeral.

Krystle Campbell, 29, was one of three innocent bystanders murdered in the Boston Marathon bombing last Monday afternoon. About a thousand mourners showed up for her wake yesterday.

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Palestinian Marathon Kicks Off with Tribute to Boston Victims

By Maher Abukhater

April 21, 2013

Los Angeles Times

With the Boston Marathon bombings on their mind, hundreds of Palestinian and international runners participated Sunday in what was billed as the first Palestinian marathon.  The Right to Movement Palestine Marathon kicked off in front of the Church of the Nativity in the biblical city of Bethlehem in the West Bank.

Before it began, Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian Olympic Committee, asked runners to bow their heads in silence for one minute in remembrance of the Boston Marathon victims.

Twenty-six runners from the Gaza Strip were denied permission to cross from the Palestinian  territory to the West Bank through Israel to take part in the marathon. The Israeli Legal Center for Freedom of Movement, Gisha, said in a news release that efforts by dozens of Israelis, including prominent marathon runners, to get the Gaza runners to reach Bethlehem via Israel had also failed.

Francis 'Unblocks' Romero Beatification, Official Says

By John L. Allen Jr.

April 22, 2013

National Catholic Reporter Today

A Vatican official responsible for the sainthood cause of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador announced Sunday that the cause has been "unblocked" by Pope Francis, suggesting that beatification of the assassinated prelate could come swiftly.

The Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints has been studying the Romero case since 1996, after the church in El Salvador formally opened the procedure in 1990.  Romero was shot to death while saying Mass in El Salvador on March 24, 1980. While he is seen as a hero to many because of his solidarity with the poor and his opposition to human rights abuses, his cause has also been viewed with suspicion in some quarters, partly because of Romero's links to the controversial liberation theology movement.  If Romero is judged a martyr, he could be beatified without having a miracle attributed to his intercession.

Inside the Offbeat Economics Department that Debunked Reinhart-Rogoff

By Dylan Matthews 

April 24, 2013

Washington Post

It was surprising to learn last week that Harvard professors Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart’s argument for austerity is based in part on an Excel blooper. What’s not surprising is who found it out.

The rebuttal came in the form of a paper released by the Political Economy Research Institute, a group at the University of Massachusetts – Amherst with close ties to its economics department. Two of its authors, Michael Ash and Robert Pollin, are UMass professors, and the other, Thomas Herndon, is a grad student in the department. Amherst has, over the past 40 years, developed a reputation as perhaps the single most important heterodox economics department in the country. But according to influential Marxist economist Richard D. Wolff, it wasn’t always that way.

Mark Zuckerberg’s New Political Group Spending Big On Ads Supporting Keystone XL And Oil Drilling

By Josh Israel and Judd Legum

April 26, 2013

Mark Zuckerberg’s new political group, which bills itself as a bipartisan entity dedicated to passing immigration reform, has spent considerable resources on ads advocating a host of anti-environmental causes — including drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and constructing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

FWD.US is bankrolling two subsidiary organizations to purchase TV ads to advance the overarching agenda — one run by veteran Republican political operatives and one led by Democratic strategists. The GOP-led group, called Americans For A Conservative Direction, has created an ad supporting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline and expanded drilling elsewhere. It does not mention immigration policy, but does attack Obamacare, “wasteful stimulus spending,” and “seedy Chicago-style politics.” The other group, called Council for American Job Growth and purportedly intended to appeal to liberals, lauds “working to open ANWR to drilling.”