73 Republicans Agree

Rep. Bill Flores

Rep. Bill Flores

Seventy-three House Republicans are reportedly challenging the Obama administration’s authority to issue schools guidance on the restroom use of their trans student population.

Texas state representative Bill Flores, chairman of the Republican Study Committee, is urging “members to sign on to a letter, pushing the Departments of Education and Justice to detail how, and on what authority, they plan to enforce the new guidelines,” as The Daily Signala conservative news site run by the right-wing Heritage Foundation, reports.

“Americans are incensed by President Obama’s blatant executive overreach,” Flores told the conservative website. “Now they are threatening school funding over an issue that should rightfully be left to the states. Their actions are politically motivated and Congress has every responsibility to challenge them.”

[…]

North Carolina state representative Mark Walker, who authored the letter, believes that the Obama directive poses a danger to schools. Walker told The Daily Caller, a conservative website, that the decision of trans bathroom access should be up to individual administrators to make, not the federal government or youth. He said it allows students to make up the rules “from one week to the next.”

“If a 17 year-old young man wants to go shower with the girls on the soccer team,” Walker argued, “he’s allowed to do that because of his will or his gender fluidity for the week [he] can tell the teacher ‘this [is] what I’m feeling, this is where I’m at’ and she has no recourse to step in.”

Fuck me, but these idiots are beyond tiresome. They are utterly ignoring gender dysphoria and transgender people in favour of this nebulous ‘gender flu[idity]’ that people are going to mysteriously come down with whenever.

Walker’s fear, however, is unfounded. In the more than 200 localities across the United States that have passed nondiscrimination laws providing equal access in public accommodations, there’s never been a reported case of a cisgender person — student or otherwise — pretending to be trans to gain access to the opposite-sex facilities.

[…]

This statement is strikingly similar to an earlier dispatch from Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia, issued by their states’ attorneys general. “The so-called ‘significant guidance’ issued by the Obama Administration raises more questions than it answers, just as it creates concerns among anyone who believes sex is a biological fact and not a personal preference,” Texas state representative Ken Paxton argued in a May 17 statement.

Oh, gender is a biological fact, it just resides in the brain, not the genitals. It would certainly be nice if these people would exercise their brains a bit. This is starting to sound suspiciously like the creationism vs evolution fight. Might be nice if they remembered they lost that one. At any rate, these are bloody guidelines, it isn’t law, it isn’t an order, it isn’t enforceable.

Full Story Here.

Photographic Delusions

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Vik Muniz is an innovative artist who creates imagery within a nexus of diverse media. Working with a dizzying array of unconventional materials—including sugar, tomato sauce, diamonds, magazine clippings, chocolate syrup, dust, and junk—Muniz painstakingly builds tableaux before recording them with his camera. From a distance, the subject of each resulting photograph is discernible; up close, the work reveals a complex and surprising matrix through which it was assembled. That revelatory moment when one thing transforms into another is of deep interest to the artist.

Muniz’s work often quotes iconic images from popular culture and art history, drawing on our sense of collective memory while defying easy classification and mischievously engaging a viewer’s process of perception. His more recent work incorporates electron microscopes and manipulates microorganisms to explore issues of scale and to unveil both the familiar and the strange in spaces that are typically inaccessible to the human eye.

This major mid-career retrospective canvasses more than twenty-five years of Muniz’s work to transform the ordinary into the extraordinary, reminding us of the power of art to surprise, delight, and transform our perceptions of the world.

The exhibit will be showing through August 21st, 2016. If you’re in Atlanta, take a look.

Vik Muniz was also the driving force of the documentary Lixo Extraordinário (Waste Land), 2010. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.

The Church Is Stealing Our Church!

Priest with crucifix (Shutterstock www.shutterstock.com)

Priest with crucifix (Shutterstock www.shutterstock.com)

For the past 12 years, the church of St Frances Xavier Cabrini in Scituate, near Boston, has not been empty for a single moment.

Twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, a group of parishioners has maintained a vigil inside the building to prevent its sale by the archdiocese of Boston, to help pay the Catholic church’s enormous bills relating to its long and sordid history of child sexual abuse .

Children have slept in the sacristy, meals have been eaten beneath the stained glass windows, planning meetings have been held in the pews, prayers said and candles lit.

But not for much longer. After the supreme court this week declined to hear an appeal against an earlier court ruling, the parishioners must now vacate the premises, and will hold a final farewell service on 29 May.

[…]

That does not seem likely. “This church is being stolen from us, there’s no denying that. The archdiocese sees the value of property over the value of people,” said Rogers.

Well, the church certainly didn’t value all those who were abused throughout its history on this planet, so I’m not sure why there’s any surprise about this.

Full Story Here.

100 Year Old Anti-War Graffiti to Be Saved

 The cells of Richmond Castle, which have over 5,000 drawings on them, will now be preserved by English Heritage.  Credit: English Heritage


The cells of Richmond Castle, which have over 5,000 drawings on them, will now be preserved by English Heritage.
Credit: English Heritage

Richmond Castle has been standing since shortly after William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066.

Throughout its long history, the fortress in North Yorkshire has held a lot of prisoners. Surprisingly, it was still being used for this purpose as recently as 100 years ago, during World War I.

Conscientious objectors — people who refused to take part in the war on moral or religious grounds — were held in the castle’s tiny cells.

And while they were there, they scratched messages of protest and pictures into its walls. A kind of World War I graffiti.

Since then, the castle walls have been crumbling away, threatening to erase those historical marks.

But now the structure is going to be saved, thanks to a grant of half a million dollars just approved to preserve the site.

[…]

The identities of many of the graffiti artists remain unknown, but according to Leyland, some of the drawings were made by a group who came to be known as the “Richmond Sixteen.”

Imprisoned in the castle for refusing to take part in the war effort, the group was then forcibly sent to France to carry out non-combat roles on the front.

When they continued to resist, they were sentenced to death by firing squad. But “in a dramatic scene, their sentences were reduced to 10 years of hard labor,” said Leyland.

“But they were willing to go all the way and face the ultimate deterrent. They would rather be killed than kill.”

 Bert Brocklesby, one of the so-called Richmond Sixteen, drew this delicate sketch of his fiancée, Annie Wainwright. Credit: English Heritage

Bert Brocklesby, one of the so-called Richmond Sixteen, drew this delicate sketch of his fiancée, Annie Wainwright. Credit: English Heritage

Full Story Here.

La Raza says no to NC.

Janet Murguia. Via Facebook.

Janet Murguia. Via Facebook.

National Council of La Raza, the nation’s largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization, announced it has moved its 2016 Northeast/Southeast Affiliate Leadership Convening, scheduled for October, from Raleigh, N.C., to Miami, in protest of the state’s anti-LGBT law, House Bill 2.

[…]

In a statement, La Raza president and CEO Janet Murguía said, “Hispanics know what it is like to be singled out and stripped of our humanity because of who we are or what we look like. And with the wave of anti-immigrant state laws in recent years, the Latino community is all too familiar with legislation that purports to ‘protect’ but, in fact, legalizes discrimination.”

She called HB 2 “a solution in search of a nonexistent problem; it is unnecessary, offensive and violates not only our rights, but our values as Americans. By taking this action, we extend our support to the efforts of so many in North Carolina and the LGBT, civil rights and business communities to repeal this egregious law.”

Full Story Here.

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Cardinal Robert Sarah, keynote speaker at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. on May 17, 2016. (CNSNews/Hollingsworth)

On the other side, Cardinal Robert Sarah was having a fine time mocking LGBT peoples everywhere, at a National Prayer Breakfast in Washington.

“In your nation, God is being eroded, eclipsed, liquidated,” Cardinal Robert Sarah, who was appointed as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments by Pope Francis in 2014…Cardinal Sarah condemned same-sex marriage, transgender bathroom laws, and attacks on the family as “demonic”.

“All manner of immorality is not only accepted and tolerated today in advanced societies, it is even promoted as a social good,” the African cardinal said. “The result is hostility to Christians and increasingly, religious persecution.”

“This is not an ideological war between competing ideas,” Sarah told the D.C. gathering. “This is about defending ourselves, children and future generations from the demonic idolatry that says children do not need mothers and fathers. It denies human nature and wants to cut off an entire generation from God.”

There is a great deal more here.

No Mocking Christ’s Crucifixion!

Boylesports’ ad was likely to cause serious offence, said the ASA. Photograph: ASA

Boylesports’ ad was likely to cause serious offence, said the ASA. Photograph: ASA

A gambling ad featuring a hand nailed to a piece of wood that ran over Easter has been banned for mocking the crucifixion of Jesus and the Christian religion.

Gambling company Boylesports emailed a promotion to punters that showed a hand nailed to a piece of wood against a desert scene with the strapline “nailed on bonus”.

Its text read: “In memory of the dearly departed JC, we are offering you a sacrilecious [sic] bonus this Easter weekend … So don’t just sit there gorging your own body weight in chocolate, that’s disrespectful. Get on Boylesports Gaming and get your nailed on bonus.”

[…]

One recipient of the email lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority that the ad was offensive and mocked the Christian religion.

Boylesports tried to play the link with Jesus Christ down, saying that there was no religious symbolism in the ad and that crucifixion per se was a “common practice” in Christ’s time.

The ASA rejected Boylesports’ argument, saying the ad was clearly not a reference to a “generic” crucifixion, but directly to that of Jesus Christ.

I think Boylesports’s argument should have been given more credence, because an awful lot of people were executed by crucifixion, but of course, they don’t matter. They never do. Boylesports did rather shoot themselves in the foot by mentioning JC though. Christian sites are jumping all over this, absolutely gleeful that the ASA has defended Christians and Christianity. All the stories have made it clear that it’s a no-no to mock Christ’s crucifixion, but I guess it’s perfectly okay to mock all those others who were actually crucified.

Full Story Here.

Christian Lawyers Victims of Second Sexual Revolution.

Shutterstock.

Shutterstock.

Oh, definitely one for The Persecution Files. There might not be any Christian lawyers in five years! I’m pretty sure that isn’t going to happen, in spite of the fact that Christians are being informed that they are not going to be allowed to rest on their bigotry.

Less than a decade ago, few would have imagined homosexual marriage would become the law of the land.

Maybe the same will be written ten years from now, only about the absence of Christian lawyers and judges.

That’s right. The Second Sexual Revolution is not satisfied with just excluding Christians from the service industry as florists, photographers and bakers—it is excluding the law profession, too.

[…]

Fast forward to today. The American Bar Association is currently considering tightening their conduct rules to include sexual orientation and gender identity, even of “gender expression.”

[…]

Naturally, if the attorneys must bow to the altar of sexual tyranny, so must the judges.

Wait, I thought this was a sexual revolution, now it’s a tyranny? Make up thy mind, Sir. There’s much more Persecution Whine here.

The neural basis of seeing God?

original

A remarkable case report describes the brain activity in a man at the moment that he underwent a revelatory experience.

According to the authors, Israeli researchers Arzy and Schurr, the man was 46 years old. He was Jewish, but he had never been especially religious. His supernatural experience occured in hospital where he was undergoing tests to help treat his right temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE), a condition which he had suffered from for forty years. As part of the testing procedure, the patient stopped taking his anti-convulsant medication. Here’s how the authors describe what happened:

While lying in bed, the patient abruptly “froze” and stared at the ceiling for several minutes, stating later that he felt that God was approaching him. He then started chanting prayers quietly, looked for his Kippa and put it on his head, chanting the prayers more excessively. Then, abruptly, he yelled “And you are Adonai (name of the Hebrew God) the Lord!”, stating later that god had revealed to him, ordering him to bring redemption to the people of Israel.

The patient then stood up, detached the EEG electrodes from his skin, and went around the department trying to convince people to follow him, stating that “God has sent me to you”. When further questioned, he said that he does not have a concrete plan, but he is sure that God is going to instruct him what he and his followers should do on their way to redemption.

The full article is here. The Times of Israel also has this story.

Trans* Support

AP Photo / Shutterstock

AP Photo / Shutterstock

John asked American elected officials to recognize the concerns of all people, including transgender individuals, in a commentary for The Hill. He called the North Carolina law a “brand of ignorance” that “shuts out the perspective of an already marginalized community” and expressed concern over similarly bigoted legislation introduced in other states.

While John mentioned the “millions of taxpayers dollars” wasted in defending the law, above all, he called North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s discriminatory law “a failure of compassion.”

Full Story Here.

AP Photo

AP Photo

On the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, President Obama has released a statement reminding nations around the world of “the simple truth that LGBT rights are human rights.”

In the statement, posted on the White House website, Obama noted his administration’s activism on behalf of LGBT people and the recent advances made in LGBT rights, such as the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision last year. “At the same time, there is much work to be done to combat homophobia and transphobia, both at home and abroad,” he noted.

Full Story Here.

“I know you’re hearing a lot of hateful rhetoric about our LGBT families,” says Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego. “Please, hang in there.”

 

To mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, 25 Democratic members of Congress are promising to stand with LGBT Americans in the face of hateful legislation and rhetoric.In a video kicking off the #WeAreWithYou campaign, members of the Congressional Equality Caucus channel U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s historic remarks last week, when she told the beleaguered transgender community, “We see you, we stand with you, and we will do everything we can to support you going forward.”

The congressional campaign is led by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, New York’s first openly gay member of Congress and cochair of the Congressional LGBT Caucus. Maloney published a compilation video on his YouTube channel this morning, featuring clips of each of the featured members of Congress; full-length videos are slated to be published by each Democrat’s office throughout the day.

[…]

“Discrimination has no place in the law, and these attempts to legalize hate are shameful,” Maloney said in a press release announcing the campaign. “These laws tell LGBT people that who they are or who they love makes them less valuable as human beings — and that’s just wrong. I started this campaign because, from North Carolina to Missouri, I want LGBT Americans to know that they are not alone. So I am asking my colleagues in Congress and folks across the country to join me and tell our LGBT brothers and sisters, ‘We’ve got your back, and we’re going to keep fighting for you until we win.’”

Full Story Here.

London

Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, flew the rainbow flag from City Hall on Tuesday to commemorate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. […] “I could not be more proud to help celebrate IDAHOT 2016 by flying the Pride flag here at City Hall,” said Khan in a statement to U.K. LGBT outlet Pink News.

Full Story Here.