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Dispatches from the Culture Wars - Spring Cleaning Edition

Hoopsters honor Debs; Pacifica exec exed; Methodists measure up; St Pat's sans Guinness; Reclaiming digital privacy

Bill Walton and Larry and Dinah Bird toured the Eugene V. Debs Museum while in Terre Haute for the Bird statue dedication in November.,photo: Gary Daily // Terre Haute Tribune-Star

Bill Walton, Larry Bird Visit Eugene V. Debs Museum

By Gary Daily
December 8, 2013
Terre Haute (IN) Tribune-Star

It was my personal pleasure to guide Bill Walton and Larry and Dinah Bird through the Eugene V. Debs Museum on the Sunday morning immediately following the Saturday dedication of the Larry Bird statue at Hulman Center. Thanks go out to Tribune-Star reporter David Hughes. He had written a story on Bird's years with the Celtics, mentioning Walton's knowledge and interest in Debs.

When I arrived to pick up Walton for the tour, he asked if it was all right if Larry Bird and his wife Dinah (a graduate of Schulte High School and Indiana State University) could come along.  Bird seemed particularly interested in the fact that Eugene V. Debs was a native Hoosier, born and bred in Terre Haute, and that as a young man had worked for Hulman & Co.

Walton and the Birds spent a full hour and a half visiting all three floors of this great museum.

Pacifica Radio Fires Its Executive Director

By Ben Sisario
March 14, 2014
New York Times

Summer Reese, who was named executive director in November after doing the job on an interim basis for more than a year, was fired by Pacifica's national board on Thursday. In a brief statement on Friday, the board confirmed the move and thanked Ms. Reese "for her service to date," but gave no explanation.

Ms. Reese's dismissal is the latest in a series of changes in recent years that have destabilized Pacifica and its five stations.

Case Dropped in Church Prosecution of Scholar; Bishop Vows "Cessation of Trials"

By Dorothee Benz and David Lerner
March 10, 2014
Methodists in New Directions

At a joint press conference today, United Methodist Bishop Martin McLee and Rev. Dr. Thomas W. Ogletree announced that the church was dropping the case against Dr. Ogletree for officiating at his son's wedding. In a huge victory for the Methodist movement that is organizing ministry to all couples on an equal basis in open defiance of church law, the bishop dropped the case without any conditions. Furthermore, Bishop McLee said in his statement "I call for and commit to cessation of trials," the first time ever a sitting United Methodist bishop has categorically declared he will not prosecute pastors for ministering to LGBTQ people.

"May our bishop's commitment to cease such prosecutions be the beginning of the end of the United Methodist Church's misguided era of discriminating against LGBTQ people" said Ogletree, a past dean of both Yale Divinity School and Drew Theological Seminary, a scholarly expert in Christian ethics, and an author of a section of the UMC's Book of Discipline.

With the agreement announced today, Bishop McLee joins a small but growing number of U.S. bishops who are openly breaking with their colleagues' insistence on enforcing the UMC's anti-gay discriminatory rules.

Guinness and Other Beers Pull Out of St. Patrick's Day Parade Over Ban on Openly Gay Marchers

By Asawin Suebsaeng
March 17, 2014
Mother Jones

Three beer giants - the manufacturers who bring you Heineken, Sam Adams, and Guinness - have pulled their sponsorship of Saint Patrick's Day parades in New York City and Boston over the events' policy of anti-LGBT discrimination. (The Boston parade took place on Sunday, while the NYC one is on for Monday.) Both parades technically allow gay groups to march but ban signs and placards regarding sexual orientation. The withdrawals came following pressure from gay rights activists over the ban. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh also skipped their respective parades.

7 Ways to Reclaim Your Digital Privacy

By Davey Alba
February 4, 2014
Popular Mechanics

Privacy, we say, is about to come roaring back. No, it's not too late. Yes, we know that Google monetizes both our emails and our search histories. It's true that data brokers market our personal dossiers, listing everything from our favorite blogs to our old parking tickets (identity thieves must love it). And NSA leaker Edward Snowden really did prove the paranoids right: The United States government spies on everyone.

Feel you have nothing to hide? That assumes the data will always be used to defeat terrorists, not to monitor activists, let alone to stalk ex-girlfriends - yes, NSA employees have done that. Here's the other side to the privacy-is-dead argument. You can fight the privacy erosion that technology has enabled using tools that technology provides. And when you protect your data - using encryption and other tools - you incidentally bolster the argument that security is the norm. At least it should be. Privacy is not dead but simply suffering from neglect. It's your job to revive it.