Veteran’s Day: Our Heroes, Our Homeless

November 11, 2007

Who are homeless veterans?

The U. S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) says the nation’s homeless veterans are mostly males. The majority are single, most come from poor, disadvantaged communities, 45% suffer from mental illness, and half have substance abuse problems. They have served in every war from the second World War to Iraq.

How many homeless veterans are there?

The VA estimates that nearly 200,000 veterans are homeless on any given night. And nearly 400,000 experience homelessness over the course of a year. Conservatively, one out of every three homeless men who is sleeping in a doorway, alley or box in our cities and rural communities has put on a uniform and served this country.

Why are veterans homeless?

In addition to the complex set of factors affecting all homelessness — extreme shortage of affordable housing, livable income, and access to health care — a large number of displaced and at-risk veterans live with lingering effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and substance abuse, compounded by a lack of family and social support networks.

Doesn’t the Department of Veterans Affairs take care of homeless veterans?

With an estimated 400,000 veterans homeless at some time during the year, the VA reaches 25% of those in need. For more information about VA homeless veteran programs, go to www.va.gov/homeless/.

What services do veterans need?

Veterans need a coordinated effort that provides secure housing and nutritional meals; essential physical health care, substance abuse aftercare and mental health counseling; and personal development and empowerment. Veterans also need job assessment, training and placement assistance.

The solution?

I don’t know. More government money, more private charity, and more awareness would be a start. But on a personal level, I think the first step is just keeping in mind when you see the homeless on our streets that many of them fought for our country.  I also think this is a cause that organized religion really can and often does step up for.  I know personally, my church and the Catholic church in general does a lot to help the plight of the homeless.


8 Limbed Girl Undergoes Massive Surgery

November 11, 2007

BANGALORE, India (AP) — A two-year-old Indian girl born with four arms and four legs regained consciousness Friday, wiggled her toes and smiled at her parents, 48 hours after massive surgery removed the extra limbs, doctors said.

Lakshmi, who has been revered by some in her village as a reincarnation of the four-armed Hindu goddess she was named for, was still in intensive care. Lakshmi was born joined at the pelvis to a “parasitic twin” that stopped developing in her mother’s womb. The surviving fetus absorbed the limbs, kidneys and other body parts of the undeveloped fetus.

On Wednesday, a team of more than 30 surgeons concluded the 24-hour operation, removing the extra limbs, transplanting a kidney from the twin and reconstructing Lakshmi’s pelvic area. Doctors said the complicated surgery was a great success, meaning she would not need further major reconstructive surgery. However, Lakshmi will need further treatments and possible surgery for clubbed feet before she will be able to walk.

Children born with deformities in deeply traditional rural parts of India such as the remote village in the northern state of Bihar that Lakshmi hails from are often viewed as reincarnated gods. But some had sought to make money from Lakshmi. Her parents kept her in hiding after a circus apparently tried to buy the girl, they said.

“They say she is going to be back to normal, I believe them,” said her father Shambhu, who goes by one name. “I have just these doctors to thank for this miracle. It is a debt I could never repay.”

Full Story


When Gays Marry Kids Get Dumb

November 6, 2007

Blue Jersey is airing some pro gay marriage ads over the next two weeks. They are not very in your face or controversial. They are simple civil unions are not the same as marriage arguments. They are cute. Hopefully they will be effective. But as many of you know gay marriage is not one of my top political priorities so I will not get on my high horse right now. (Keep in mind, I do believe gays should be able to get married. If they want that headache, they should be entitled to it).

What this post is about is effective political advertising. I came across this ad a while ago, but was unable to find a working link to it when I last looked for it. Today when I was watching the Blue Jersey ads, this came up on the youtube side bar. I think this anti-gay marriage ad is troubling because it exploits children. I find it disturbing because I found the children cute, even though they were spewing discrimination (albeit taught to them by some adult).  But what it really makes you question are where are their parents.  In a twisted way I could understand teaching your children hate, if you thought it would save them or it was part of your religious beliefs.  Because it is a parent’s job to do what is best for their children, if a parent honestly believed in the dangers of being gay they should talk to their kids about it.  But to have your child on national television clearly stating your views like political puppets, without regard to how it might affect them in the future.


Just Playing Gay

October 14, 2007

A priest has come out, well sort of. He has come out as a gay fake. Not to be confused with a yestergay, he claims to never have been gay. A gay fake is someone who pretends to be gay for some secret reason they believe with benefit them. Pop culture reinforces the idea that a guy would fake gay to get in good with the ladies. In the real world, this doesn’t happen (not to say it has never happened). So to you Father Stenico, I say use this to your advantage. You’re gay, we all know now, and therefore you are going to lose your priestness. So why not hit the clubs twice as hard, meet some cute boys at are actually over 18, and marshal the gay pride parade next year. Write a scandalous book. Do motivational speaking about your journey. Do something, really anything, but claim to be a totally straight man who hits on boys for educational reasons.

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VATICAN CITY (AP) — A Vatican official suspended after being caught on hidden camera making advances to a young man said in an interview published Sunday that he is not gay and was only pretending to be gay as part of his work.

Stenico was suspended by the Vatican after he was caught on tape making sexual advances at a young man.

In an interview with La Repubblica newspaper, Monsignor Tommaso Stenico said he frequented online gay chat rooms and met with gay men as part of his work as a psychoanalyst. He said that he pretended to be gay in order to gather information about “those who damage the image of the Church with homosexual activity.”

Stenico is a top official in the Vatican’s Congregation of the Clergy. The Vatican acted after officials recognized Stenico’s office in the background of a television program on gay priests that was broadcast on Oct. 1 on La7, a private Italian TV network.

Stenico was secretly filmed making advances to a young man and asserting that gay sex was not sinful. In the Repubblica interview, Stenico said he had met with the young man and pretended to talk about homosexuality “to better understand this mysterious and faraway world which, by the fault of a few people — among them some priests — is doing so much harm to the Church.”

He said he had never been gay and was heterosexual, but remained faithful to his vow of celibacy.


First the Gays, now the Jews?

October 12, 2007

Ann Coulter, the Anti-Christ

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Conservative commentator and best-selling author Ann Coulter may find herself in the midst of a controversy for comments Monday suggesting America would be better if everyone was Christian.

When CNBC host Donny Deutsch responded, “It would be better if we were all Christian?” Coulter said “Yeah.”

Deutsch, himself Jewish, continued to press Coulter on her remarks, asking, “We should just throw Judaism away and we should all be Christians then?”

“Yeah,” Coulter responded, adding “Well, it’s a lot easier. It’s kind of a fast track.”

“You can’t possibly believe that,” Deutsch responded. “You can’t possibly. You’re too educated.”

Later in the interview Deutsch asked Coulter if she doesn’t want any Jews in the world, Coulter responded, “No, we think — we just want Jews to be perfected, as they say.”

“Wow, you didn’t really say that, did you,” Deutsch said. Deutsch said he was personally offended. Deutsch continued to call Coulter’s comments anti-semetic.

“No. I’m sorry. It is not intended to be,” she said. “I don’t think you should take it that way, but that is what Christians consider themselves: perfected Jews. We believe the Old Testament. As you know from the Old Testament, God was constantly getting fed up with humans for not being able to live up to all the laws. What Christians believe — this is just a statement of what the New Testament is — is that that’s why Christ came and died for our sins. Christians believe the Old Testament. You don’t believe our testament.”

Sometimes being controversial just to be controversial blows up in your face. Earlier this year she drew fierce criticism from both sides of the aisle after calling Edwards a faggot. Now she is in hot water over these anti-semetic remarks. But the funny thing is I don’t believe she has any problems with gays or with Jews, she is just really really needy.

I’m what I’d like to call a rough around the edges Christian, I believe somethings and I don’t believe others.  I have my balance between faith and doubt.  I don’t ascribe to all of the church’s rules, it would be hard to without hating myself.  Some would say that makes me a supermarket Christian (I pick and choose what to buy), but I think it makes me realistic.  Whether God or evolution, I had no say in being gay and as such I don’t expect to be punished for it.  And while I am in no way a good representative of Christians in general, I do think I can speak for a lot of Christians and say I don’t view Christians as “Perfected Jews”.  I don’t view any people as perfected anythings.

Ann Coulter you are Tool Bag of the Day (she gets this title several times a year in my opinion)


Breaking News: Non-fiction can be good!

October 2, 2007

I discovered something I long thought impossible this summer; Non-fiction books can be good. My dad brought home “Money Girl” by Edward Humes because it was about evolution (a personal favorite topic) and the legal battle over Intelligent Design (which largely took place in PA. woot woot). I devoured the book in a matter of hours. It had a balanced approach like classical journalism, the fast pace of a fiction novel, and the factual background of a science textbook. For the first time in a while I was so impressed with an author that I went out and started reading his other books. I read three more of his books before the summer ended. “Murderer with a Badge”, “Buried Secrets”, and “Mississippi Mud” where all equally well written and interesting. I highly recommend any of his books to you.

What made me think of this today? I was studying at the library and finally remembered to order another one of his books. I’ll tell you how it is when I am done.


More hot and nasty gay videos

September 28, 2007

Apparently you all like some good ole gay videos. After the popularity of my last video post (i can see the hits, so i know your there even if you don’t comment) I’ve decided to post a few more favorites. and if anyone has some suggestions. I placed in parthesis any necessary warnings.

I love Charles Firth:

Be Gay (bad language):

Cute:

Old School:

Harry Potter:

If Larry Craig was gay (cheesy singing):

Oh Lesbians:


Gay? (Not) Fine by Me

September 27, 2007

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A 10th grade girl in New York was sent home last week after wearing a “Gay? Fine by Me” T-shirt. The shirts are part of a popular campaign to promote tolerance. Places, particularly colleges and work places, purchase the shirts in large quantities and sell them for cost or give them out. Then on a set day, everyone wheres the shirts to show solidarity. Usually a very large number of straight allies where the shirt. I know at Pitts campus, hundreds of people wore the shirt, many of whom were straight.

This girl was told her shirt was inappropriate, even though she had worn it before to school. She was told she was “advertising her sexuality”. Funny thing is, she is straight. She was trying to spread acceptance because there are several out students at her school, but there is also a large religious influence in the area.

I wrote about a dress code news story a couple weeks ago, explaining that I believe in dress codes that keep people safe. The only thing this dress code is keeping safe is a principle who does not want to have any controversial topics in school.

So I say when this is overturned as I am sure it will be, the whole school should wear shirts.

Story


The government protecting the gays??

September 27, 2007


The Senate passed the Matthew Shepard Act, a bill that would extend protection to gays, lesbians and transgender individuals in a federal hate crime statute. Sixty Senators (enough to override a Republican filibuster) voted to attach the Matthew Shepard Act, named for the gay Wyoming college student murdered in 1998, as an amendment to the 2008 Department of Defense authorization bill. The measure was sponsored by Sens. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., and Gordon Smith, R-Ore. The measure would give the federal government more leeway to investigate and prosecute hate crimes and increase federal jurisdiction on such crimes. It would expand the groups protected under current law to include such categories as disability, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity.

Matthew Shepard’s parents, Judy and Dennis, were happy to hear the news. The couple released this joint statement:

“Today’s Senate vote sends a bold and unmistakable message that violent crimes committed in the name of hate must end. The Matthew Shepard Act is an essential step to erasing hate in America and we are humbled that it bears our son’s name. It has been almost nine years since Matthew was taken from us. This bill is a fitting tribute to his memory and to all of those who have lost their lives to hate.”

I saw Judy Shepard speak at Pitt. She was a touching and down to earth speaker. She shared her stories as an example to others and did an in-depth Q&A. What I remember distinctly was her reading her victim impact statement from the trial. Although I had seen the video from the trial, watching it in person was intense.



The Black Vote

September 26, 2007

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The Black Vote” is always an interesting campaign conversation piece. It gets brought up but nothing is ever really said. I think that is because truth be told politicians don’t care. The Democrats know they are going to get the black vote, or at least most of it. Republicans know they are not going to get the black vote, or at least not much of it. But maybe if the Republicans had stronger responses to national news stories involving discrimination, or feigned interest in struggle black communities in times of disaster, a history of backing civil rights, a tradition of trying to equalize laws not just throw young black men in jail, more people of color in political positions, more outward support of minority programs, family assistance programs, and affordable healthcare programs. But I guess if they had those things then they would be Democrats. All Republican bashing aside, one thing they do have that they should be able to pull more votes with is religion. Strong Christian leanings bode well with black voters. Republicans have no shame of mixing religion and government and using it to their advantage, so why not use it to court more minority votes.  Not that I want African Americans to vote for Republicans or anything like that, I want Republicans to respect minorities enough to at least court them. Most of the major Republican candidates opted out of the debates sponsored by Univision, NAACP, and the Urban League. What would one night have cost out of their campaigns?

Roland S. Martin a contributing writer for CNN had the following to say:

The GOP as a whole is completely scared of black voters, and the actions by the front-runners for the party’s 2008 nomination show they are continuing the same silly political games the party has played for years. Oh, don’t bother tossing out the appointments of Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state by Bush. Yes, they are African-American. But I’m speaking of the party. Ever since Richard Nixon ran for the White House, the GOP has run on a “Southern Strategy,” meant to alienate blacks in an effort to garner white voters. They’ve worked the strategy to perfection. (Read the Rest)

I just figured it was something to think about. Obviously most minorities are not going to support a party who clearly doesn’t support them, but what I think the Republicans are missing is that there are a lot of white voters who wouldn’t support a party that ignores entire segments of the population based on their race.