Monthly Archives: October 2011

On This Day…

Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi (1917-1984...

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In 1984, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated near her residence by two Sikh security guards.

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Georgia University Requires Employees to Sign Anti-Gay Pledge

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A Baptist university in Georgia is requiring all its employees to sign a “personal lifestyle statement” rejecting homosexuality.

According to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Shorter University issued the statement on October 26. It requires signers to affirm four principles, one of which is “I reject as acceptable all sexual activity not in agreement with the Bible, including, but not limited to, premarital sex, adultery, and homosexuality.” Employees must also agree not to drink alcohol in public, or to drink anywhere within six hours of a university function.

All employees have to sign, and Shorter president Don Dowless has confirmed that those who don’t will likely be fired.

At least one of the college’s 200 employees privately identifies as gay and told the Georgia Voice (anonymously) that the new policy could result in persecution: “We now will live in fear that someone who doesn’t like us personally or someone who has had a bad day will report that we’ve been drinking or that we are suspected of being gay.”

Alumni, students, and former faculty have launched a petition protesting the new lifestyle statement, and a protest is planned for November.

Via Jezebel.

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Ohio Anti-Union Law Will Bring Voters to the Polls

The collective bargaining rights that sent public employees to the Wisconsin statehouse in droves last spring will now send Ohio voters to the polls this fall.

At issue is a law, known as Senate Bill 5, that eliminates public employees’ right to collectively bargain or strike. It also requires public workers pay at least 15% of their health insurance premiums and at least 10% of their salary to their pensions. If the ‘no’ votes prevail on the ballot initiative, known as Issue 2, Senate Bill 5 will be overturned.

The latest Quinnipiac University poll shows 57% of Ohio voters support repealing the law.

The unpopular ballot initiative has proved less than a boon for Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. The Republican front-runner stumbled this week over his support for the collective bargaining limits, saying Tuesday at a campaign stop in Ohio that he was “not speaking about the particular ballot issues, those are up to the people of Ohio.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Romney clarified that he was “110 percent” supportive of Governor John Kasich’s attempt to cut budget deficits by scaling back collective bargaining rights.

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Militias Terrorize Former Gaddafi Supporters

More than 100 militia brigades from Misrata have operated outside any official duty since Tripoli fell in August.  Militia members have engaged in torture, pursued enemies all over the country, and shot people in detention.

Bullet shells litter a besieged street of Misrata (Photo courtesy of the Huffington Post)

The militias are preventing the entire displaced town of Tawergha from returning home.  The militias believe Tawergha was sympathetic to Gaddafi and provided him support. In western Libya, anti-Gaddafi militias have looted and burned the homes and schools of groups that supported the deposed dictator.

Other militias are looting property as compensation for damages suffered during the war.

The recent execution of fifty-three pro-Gaddafi supporters at a hotel in Sirte was under the control of the Misrata militias. It was a Misrata militia that captured and killed Gaddafi while he was in their custody.  Details of how and why his death occurred are still unknown.

The Misratans have made it clear they detest anyone who supported Gaddafi.

Misrata withstood a two-month siege from Qaddafi’s forces with attacks that left 1,000 of its citizens dead. The city now is a shell of its former self.

The militia is focusing its anger on Tawergha, a town south of Misrata.  Residents from Tawergha took up arms to fight for Gaddafi.  The Misratans claim these volunteers are guilty of raping and pillaging, though they have yet to produce any evidence.

Most Tawerghans fled their town as Misratan fighters advanced on it in mid-August.  Witnesses and victims have provided accounts of the Misratan militias shooting and wounding unarmed Tawerghans and torturing detainees, in a few cases to death.

In Hun, located 250 miles from Misrata, Benghazi militias are protecting 4,000 Tawerghan refugees.  The Misratans are hunting the Tawerghans all over the country.

Representatives of the National Transitional Council (NTC) have issued statements, agreeing with the Misrata militias, saying that no Tawerghans should return home.

The plan of not allowing refugees to return home is not limited to Tawerghans.  The Misratans have made it clear that any group that supported Gaddafi will not be tolerated.

Human Rights Watch has called the forced resettlement and abuses of the refugees a crime against humanity.

The NTC says it plans to open investigations into any post-war abuses, but it has yet to respond directly to the allegations of the crimes committed by the militias.

Via Impunity Watch.

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Herman Cain Settled a Case (or Two or More) for Sexual Harassment

Herman Cain

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Last evening, Politico published a report that reveals that Herman Cain was accused of inappropriate sexual behavior by at least two female employees when he was head of the National Restaurant Association in the late 1990s. Both women, whose names haven’t been released, signed agreements with the group that gave them financial settlements in return for leaving the association and agreeing not to talk about the circumstances of their departure. Politico has pieced together the nature of the allegations:

The sources – which include the recollections of close associates and other documentation – describe episodes that left the women upset and offended. These incidents include conversations allegedly filled with innuendo or personal questions of a sexually suggestive nature, taking place at hotels during conferences, at other officially sanctioned restaurant association events and at the association’s offices. There were also descriptions of physical gestures that were not overtly sexual but that made women who experienced or witnessed them uncomfortable and that they regarded as improper in a professional relationship.

One woman is said to have received an “unwanted sexual advance” from Cain at a hotel where an association event was held. Other anonymous sources say they were troubled by the effort to keep the women quiet and not addressing the allegations.

Mr. Cain’s response to the allegations has been as eloquent as you’d expect. First, his campaign ignored Politico’s request for comment for four days. Then, his spokesman J.D. Gordon said:

These are old and tired allegations that never stood up to the facts … This was settled amicably among all parties many years ago, and dredging this up now is merely part of a smear campaign meant to discredit a true patriot who is shaking up the political status quo.

Later, Mr. Gordon amended the statement, saying he meant the matter was “resolved,” not “settled” in a legal sense. This week, he told Politico that Mr. Cain was “vaguely familiar” with the situation.

When a Politico reporter approached Mr. Cain on the sidewalk, he avoided answering the questions, saying he has “had thousands of people working for me” throughout the years and couldn’t comment “until I see some facts or some concrete evidence.”

He was then asked, “Have you ever been accused, sir, in your life of harassment by a woman?”

He breathed audibly, glared at the reporter and stayed silent for several seconds. After the question was repeated three times, he responded by asking the reporter, “Have you ever been accused of sexual harassment?”

Well deflected, Mr. Cain! Well deflected.

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American and Canadian Scout Organizations Did Not Report Scout Leader who Molested Boys

History of the Boy Scouts of America

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Scout leader Rick Turley allegedly molested at least fifteen children, most of whom he met through American and Canadian Scouting beginning in the 1970s.

Boy Scouts of America officials did not call police after he admitted molesting three boys. Mr. Turley then returned to his home country, where he signed on with Scouts Canada and continued his abuses.

Now fifty-eight, Mr. Turley says he is surprised at how often he got away with it.

Mr. Turley is one of more than 5,000 suspected child molesters named in confidential files kept by the Boy Scouts of America.

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Tea Party Group Calls for Michele Bachmann to Quit

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Since winning the Iowa Straw Poll, Representative Michele Bachmann‘s poll numbers have dwindled to the single digits. Now, a Tea Party group is publicly accusing the Minnesotan of being an unserious candidate and trying to ride her Tea Party credentials to book sales and calling for her to quit the race.

A Tea Party group that calls itself American Majority would prefer for Rep. Bachmann to step back and leave the race to viable contenders.

The group’s president, Ned Ryun, issued a statement calling for her to quit and accusing her of being nary more than a loose cannon concerned with promoting her book that’s coming out next month.

As her poll numbers fall, the group worries she’ll stray from the Tea Party’s economic message and start talking abortion and gays, which draws attention away from the fact that Tea Partiers hate to pay taxes.

Rep. Bachmann’s camp thinks the group wants her out because Ryun supports Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Her campaign manager responded,

The strength of the Tea Party is all individual’s opinions are valued but the no single leader speaks for it. Mr. Ryun, who supports Texas Gov. Rick Perry, is entitled to his own opinion. And that’s exactly what he is expressing. Michele Bachmann enjoys strong support from Americans across party lines and that certainly includes the Tea Party. She will continue to be a strong advocate for the values and principles reflected by the Tea Party as works toward a victory in the first-in-the-nation Iowa caucuses as she seeks to win the Republican nomination.

Other Tea Party groups haven’t called for Bachmann’s resignation. Most major groups have yet to throw their support behind one candidate, even though it’s pretty obvious that Michele Bachmann will not be the Republican party’s 2012 Presidential nominee.

Meanwhile, Rep. Bachmann’s still out there campaigning. On Thursday, she lamented the moral hazard of providing debt relief to student loan holders:

There is a morality in keeping our financial promises, and I don’t think we should push that off onto the taxpayer. The individual needs to repay and be responsible for repaying their student loan debt.

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