Monday, August 13, 2007


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Inside Higher Education

Sociologists and ACLU Blast Visa Denial

One of South Africa's top social scientists was unable to give a scheduledtalk Saturday at the annual meeting of the American SociologicalAssociation, in New York, because U.S. officials refused to act on his visaapplication. By refusing to act (as opposed to rejecting the application),authorities made it difficult to determine exactly why Adam Habib could notget to the United States. In October, while holding a visa, he was turnedback at John F. Kennedy International Airport when he arrived for a seriesof scholarly meetings in the United States.

Habib has previously entered and left the United States for education andscholarly purposes without event - he earned his Ph.D. at the GraduateCenter of the City University of New York. Leaders of the sociology group,along with the American Civil Liberties Union, denounced the government formaking it impossible for Habib to travel to the United States. They believeHabib is being kept out not because he poses any danger, but because he is aMuslim who has been vocal critic in South Africa of the U.S. war in Iraq andof other U.S. government policies.

Habib is an expert on civil society and democracy. He is executive directorof South Africa's Human Science Research Council's Program on Democracy andGovernance and a professor in the School of Development Studies at theUniversity of Kwazulu-Natal. He has written several scholarly books, servedas the editor of several journals, and supervised numerous dissertations atSouth African universities.


Inside Higher Education

Race (Still) Matters

Advocates for black students have long turned to social scientists for help.Think of Kenneth Clark's experiments with children and black and whitedolls, work that was cited in Brown v. Board of Education. More recently,social scientists were mobilized to file briefs (with some success) onbehalf of landmark Supreme Court decisions in 2003 that upheld affirmativeaction in public college admissions in some circumstances and (withoutsuccess) in this year's Supreme Court decision rejecting two schooldistricts' use of race in school assignments.

With voters and the courts increasingly skeptical of affirmative action incollege admissions, scholars gathered at the annual meeting Sunday of theAmerican Sociological Association presented new research designed to shiftthe debate. The scholars, all supporters of affirmative action, said thatthey recognized that rguments were being shot down if based only on thelack of diversity that would esult from the elimination of affirmativeaction. If voters are warned that ending affirmative action will result insharp drops in black and Latino enrollments, voters(or at least whitevoters) will go ahead and abolish affirmative action, speakers aid.

As a result, the research presented was less about the fact that eliminating affirmative action results in such enrollment shifts, but that such drops donot mean that black students (the focus of much of the discussion) have notdemonstrated "merit." Robert T. Teranishi, assistant professor of highereducation at New York University, said that his research was designed tocounter the "blaming the victim" mentality in which he said people assumeblack enrollment declines suggest a lack of merit by black students.


Forwarded from EuroQueer

Jamaica - homophobia, murder music and free speech

Is Jamaica is the most homophobic country in the world? Does reggae /dancehall "murder music" contribute to anti-gay violence? Stop MurderMusic campaigners, Dennis Carney of the Black Gay Men's AdvisoryGroup, and Brett Lock of the gay human rights group OutRage!, discusswith Peter Tatchell. Watch here:

Peter Tatchell writes:

Eight leading Jamaican reggae /dancehall stars, including Buju Bantonand Beenie Man, have sung songs openly advocating, encouraging andglorifying the murder of queers.

See their homophobic "murder music" lyrics here:

Are these artists merely reflecting homophobia or helping create it?

Many gay and straight Jamaicans argue that lyrics urging the killingof queers may not create homophobia but they certainly help legitimateand encourage it. When homophobic violence is extolled by big-namereggae super stars it fuels and reinforces anti-gay hatred. Itencourages some young men to believe that it is cool and acceptable tobash lesbian and gay people.

These murder music lyrics stir up homophobic hatred and violence, inthe same way that the BNP's racist incitements stir up racial hatredand violence.

Can it ever be acceptable or legitimate to subject other people toviolent threats and intimidation? Are homophobic incitements any lessworthy of condemnation than racist ones?

Critics of the Stop Murder Music campaign claim it is an attack onfreedom of expression. They protest: what about free speech? But sincewhen has free speech included the right to incite the murder of otherhuman beings?

Do the defenders of homophobic murder music also defend the right ofwhite racists to incite the murder of black people? No, of course,they don't. They rightly condemn even the slightest prejudice againstthe black community. So why the double standards when it comes tohomophobic bigotry?

The murder music singers are not the only culprits. The Jamaicangovernment and police are notorious for their inaction againsthomophobic violence. According to Jamaican law, inciting violence andmurder is a criminal offence. Why aren't these artists beingprosecuted?

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch report that homophobicviolence is a major problem in Jamaica. This is corroborated byJamaican human rights groups such as Jamaicans for Justice, FamiliesAgainst State Terrorism, Jamaica AIDS Support, and the IndependentJamaica Council for Human Rights.

All these respected bodies accuse the Jamaican government and policeof colluding with queer-bashing attacks, and of failing to protect thegay victims of mob violence.

Ending murder music will not, of itself, end anti-gay violence. But itcan contribute to deescalating the culture of homophobia that isterrorising lesbian and gay Jamaicans and wrecking their lives.

To view the programme, click on this link:


Forwarded from EuroQueer

"A'dam losing gay-friendly reputation"
13 August 2007

AMSTERDAM - Nowhere in the world are homosexuals confronted with violence soregularly as in Amsterdam. Gay men and women are now staying away from theDutch capital because of all the reports on violent incidents recently. Thisis costing the Amsterdam economy a great deal of money.

Boris Dittrich, former party leader of Democrats D66 and now director forthe gay rights section of human rights organisation Human Rights Watch, saidthis in the Telegraaf on Sunday.

"There is no doubt about the fact that Amsterdam's reputation as a gaycapital is waning," Dittrich said in the newspaper.

He receives reports on attacks on homosexuals around the world as part ofhis work. "Things happen everywhere, but nowhere so regularly as inAmsterdam at the moment."
Click here!

The New York-based Human Rights Watch has been receiving alarming reports ona weekly basis about the safety of homosexuals in the Netherlands, theTelegraaf reported.


The New York Times

August 13, 2007
Karl Rove, Top Strategist, Is Leaving the White House

WASHINGTON, Aug. 13 - Karl Rove, the political adviser who mastermindedPresident George W. Bush's two winning presidential campaigns, is resigning,the White House confirmed today.

In an interview published this morning in The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Rovesaid, "I just think it's time," adding, "There's always something that cankeep you here, and as much as I'd like to be here, I've got to do this forthe sake of my family."

Mr. Rove said he had first considered leaving a year ago but stayed afterhis party lost the crucial midterm elections last fall, putting Congress inDemocratic hands, and Mr. Bush's problems mounted in Iraq and in his pursuitof a new immigration policy.

He said his hand was forced when the White House chief of staff, Joshua B.Bolten, recently told senior aides that if they stayed past Labor Day theywould be expected to stay through the rest of Mr. Bush's term.


The New York Times

August 13, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
Delaying the Inevitable

As we struggle to extricate ourselves from Iraq, it's useful to look at howthe Soviet Union handled a similar position in the 1980s. Then we should dothe opposite.

The Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979 based partly on an intelligencefailure analogous to our own in Iraq: they believed that their poorlybehaved puppet in Kabul was poised to switch loyalties to the United States.

By 1986, the Soviets wanted to end the Afghan war, and tried some of thesame approaches that we have tried or talked about: a new constitution, anew leader, a policy of "national reconciliation."

These worked as well for them as they have for us.

Many Soviets just wanted to cut their losses and pull out. But otherofficials raised counterarguments that may sound familiar:

If we simply pull out, we'll destroy our influence around the world for ageneration. And if we leave, the country will fall apart, and there'll be abloodbath focusing on our friends. Muslim extremists will come to power, andit's better to fight them over there than on our side of the border.


The New York Times

August 13, 2007
Op-Ed Columnist
It's All About Them

Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for yourfather's political campaign.

Last week, at one of Mitt Romney's "Ask Mitt" forums, a woman in theaudience asked Mr. Romney whether any of his five sons are serving in themilitary and, if not, when they plan to enlist.

The candidate replied with a rambling attempt to change the subject, butnear the end he let his real feelings slip. "It's remarkable how we can showour support for our nation," he said, "and one of the ways my sons areshowing support for our nation is helping to get me elected, because theythink I'd be a great president."

Wow. The important point isn't the fact that Mr. Romney's sons aren't inuniform - although it is striking just how few of those who claim to believethat we're engaged in a struggle for our very existence think that theythemselves should be called on to make any sacrifices. The point is,instead, that Mr. Romney apparently considers helping him get elected an actof service comparable to putting your life on the line in Iraq.

Yet the week's prize for most self-centered remark by a serious presidentialcontender goes not to Mr. Romney, but to his principal rival for the G.O.P.nomination.


For the Candidates, Not Just Any Brand Of Soapbox Will Do

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 13, 2007; C01

Rudy Giuliani has appeared on only one Sunday talk show this year: "Fox NewsSunday."

Fred Thompson has made eight television appearances in 2007, all on FoxNews, six of them sit-downs with Sean Hannity, who sometimes campaigns forGOP candidates.

Mitt Romney has chatted on Fox 13 times this year, including yesterday'sappearance in Iowa on "Fox News Sunday," while granting one other Sundayinterview, to ABC's "This Week."

The leading Democratic presidential candidates present a mirror image, withHillary Clinton and John Edwards granting no interviews to Fox sinceJanuary, and Edwards now bashing Rupert Murdoch's network as unfair to hisparty.

To a striking degree, the candidates are picking their spots, carefullychoosing which media operations they will court and which they will ignore.That leaves some of them preaching to the political choir, but also shieldsthem from especially aggressive questioning.


The Washington Post

House of Corruption?
By Robert D. Novak
Monday, August 13, 2007; A11

With the midnight hour approaching on Saturday, Aug. 4, near the end of amarathon session, Democratic and Republican leaders alike wanted to pass thedefense appropriations bill quickly and start their summer recess. ButRepublican Rep. Jeff Flake's stubborn adherence to principle forced anhour-long delay that revealed unpleasant realities about Congress.

Flake insisted on debating the most egregious of the 1,300 earmarks placedin the defense money bill by individual House members that authorizespending in their districts. Defending every such earmark was the chairmanof the Appropriations defense subcommittee: Democratic Rep. John Murtha,unsmiling and unresponsive to questions posed on the House floor by Flake.Murtha is called "King Corruption" by Republican reformers, but whathappened after midnight on Aug. 5 is not a party matter. Democrats andRepublicans, as always, locked arms to support every earmark. It makes nodifference that at least seven House members are under investigation by theJustice Department. A bipartisan majority insists on sending taxpayers'money to companies in their districts without competitive bidding or publicreview.

Claims of newly established transparency were undermined by the late-nightfollies. Flake, who ran a Phoenix think tank, the Goldwater Institute,before coming to Congress in 2001, is immensely unpopular on both sides ofthe aisle for forcing votes on his colleagues' pork. He burnished thatreputation by prolonging the marathon Saturday session and challengingselected earmarks.


The Washington Post

Pulling Rank on Religion
An evangelical group and top officers cross a line.
Monday, August 13, 2007; A10

THE PENTAGON'S inspector general has concluded that seven current or formermilitary officers, including two major generals and the Pentagon chaplain,violated ethics rules when they appeared in uniform in a promotional andfundraising video for the evangelical group Christian Embassy. The report onChristian Embassy, an offshoot of Campus Crusade for Christ that recruitsdiplomats, government leaders and military officers, underscores the needfor Pentagon officials, both uniformed and civilian, to be more carefulabout mixing religious activities with government duties.

Free exercise of religion doesn't stop at the entrance to the Pentagon orother government buildings; it's appropriate for Christian Embassy to holdprayer breakfasts and fellowship meetings at the Pentagon as long as otherreligious groups have similar opportunities. But especially in the military,with its emphasis on rank and discipline, those at senior levels need toensure that their actions are not seen as a government endorsement of aparticular religion.

The 47-page inspector general's report offers a vivid picture of howinappropriately intertwined Christian Embassy had become with Pentagonoperations by the time the video, with its extensive scenes inside thePentagon, was filmed in 2004. When Christian Embassy asked the chaplain atthe time, Col. Ralph G. Benson, for help in gaining access to the Pentagon,Col. Benson obtained approval by "mischaracterizing the purpose andproponent of the video," the report found.



The Palm Beach Post

Penalty widens for youth sex 'coercion'
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 13, 2007

Fourteen-year-old boys who "coerce" sex from their girlfriends soon willjoin adult rapists and child molesters with their names, addresses andphotographs on the state's Web site list of sex offenders.

And most will remain on the list for life, required to reregister every 90days or face a new felony charge, because of a law the state legislaturepassed in the spring to comply with the federal Adam Walsh Child ProtectionAct.

What the law says

Effective July 1, juveniles 14 or older who are found delinquent forcommitting, attempting, soliciting or conspiring to commit these crimes willhave their name, photograph and address posted on the Florida Department ofLaw Enforcement sex offender Web site and a national sex offender databasefor at least 25 years and will be required to reregister every 90 days:



South Florida
New tax break would help most, but don't expect a fortune
By Josh Hafenbrack and John Maines
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
August 12, 2007

About 220,000 Palm Beach County homeowners would see a property tax benefitfrom the "super exemption" headed to a statewide vote in January, but formany the savings could be fleeting.

A South Florida Sun-Sentinel analysis showed that 63 percent of those whoown a primary residence in Palm Beach County would benefit, which is morethan the 52 percent legislative analysts had predicted. However, the averagesavings is far less - $1,212 - than the Legislature estimated, theSun-Sentinel found. State analysts said the average savings would top $2,000in the first year.

Among the potential beneficiaries of the new, bulked-up homestead exemption,about one in three - 76,891 homeowners - would pocket less than $500 insavings the first year, the Sun-Sentinel analysis of tax data showed.

Even homeowners who benefit should be wary about embracing the newexemption, experts say, because there would be no cap to protect them fromdramatic jumps in real estate taxes such as with Save Our Homes.


New property tax system would slam 'affordable' cities in Broward
By Scott Wyman and John Maines
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
August 13, 2007

The communities with many of the condos and homes most affordable formiddle-income families in Broward County would take the biggest financialhit if a shake-up of state property tax breaks wins voter approval.

The proposed "super exemption" on a statewide ballot in January could cost0Coconut Creek, Lauderhill, Margate, North Lauderdale, Tamarac and West Parkat least a tenth of their tax base, according to an analysis of property taxdata by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Each city would face drastic cuts inservices.

The six cities lack large swaths of luxury housing, investment property andcommercial development that protect other communities from a major hit.Instead, vast numbers of homeowners in their middle-class neighborhoods andsenior communities could cut thousands from their tax bills.

"It would be tough to run the city and offer people the services that wehave always offered," North Lauderdale Mayor Jack Brady said. "Come checkour books, because we haven't overspent. This would devastate us."

Overall, about 7 percent of the county's $176 billion tax roll could beexempted from taxation if the constitutional amendment creating the "superexemption" wins approval. That would follow on the heels of spending cutsthat the Legislature ordered local governments to make this year in thefirst part of its tax relief package.


Use your cell phone to track down gas bargains
Daniel Vasquez
Consumer columnist
August 13, 2007

The best way to consistently find cheap gas prices may be in your pocket.Or purse.

That's right, your cell phone could be your best friend when it comes totracking down the lowest-priced gas station, no matter if you're near home,work or even in a new city on business or vacation.

Wireless telephone companies are increasingly offering smarter, faster GPS-and Web-based services that allow you to use your cell phone to identify thecheapest and/or closest gas stations - while you're on the road.

The services also help you identify traffic jams and road hazards - and findalternate routes - or get directions to a specific restaurant, hotel, drycleaner, movie theater or other retail operation. By providing maps anddirections at your fingertips, these services help save fuel by allowing youto plan the most efficient driving routes and combine multiple errands intoa single trip.

In essence, today's wireless phones are becoming the hip-pocket equivalentof the home computer.


The St. Petersburg Times

Democrats pander to worst ideas on trade
By DAVID S. BRODER, Washington Post Writers Group
Published August 13, 2007

WASHINGTON - President Bush sent the Democrats an important signal last weekwhen he reminded reporters that Congress will have to decide this fallwhether to sign off on trade deals with two more Latin American countries,Peru and Panama.

Back in May, the administration accepted the demand of congressionalDemocratic leaders to enforce labor and environmental standards as integralparts of those free trade agreements - ending a long stalemate on thosequestions.

But some liberal and labor Democrats are still voicing objections to thedeals, and Rep. Sandy Levin, the chairman of the House trade subcommitteeand one of the architects of the trade agreements, has just come back from avisit to Peru to assure that its terms are being carried out.

The president was very clear about his views, saying that Treasury SecretaryHank Paulson and U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab "will continue towork with the Democratic leadership and remind them of the importance ofthese trade bills. And they're now in charge of the Congress and they'llhave a chance to prove whether or not they believe in opening these markets.... It would be a huge mistake for the country if they don't."

But as the president acknowledged, the protectionist sentiment he has longopposed appears to be rising in Congress - and among the Democraticpresidential candidates as well.



Democrats' 'baby steps' frustrate party loyalists
By Kathy Kiely, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON - For some of the Democratic party's loyal supporters, this isturning out to be a summer of discontent.

In recent weeks, a prominent anti-war activist announced plans to challengeDemocratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Four major Hispanic organizationsprotested the "mixed message" on immigration from congressional Democrats.Even a Democratic senator blamed his party for "giving in" on a key privacyissue.

Last November's election gave Democrats control of both the House and Senatefor the first time since 1994. But some of the party's key constituenciesare having a hard time understanding why the sweeping changes theyanticipated have been so slow in coming.

"We did our job as citizens," said Dana Balicki, a spokeswoman for theanti-war protest group CodePink She qualified Congress' efforts to reversePresident Bush's Iraq policy as "baby steps."

Political science experts, including Jack Pitney, a professor at ClaremontMcKenna College in California, say the party's track record is notsurprising given that its margin of control is narrow and its caucus proneto splitting along regional and ideological lines. Pitney thinks partyleaders are victims of their own hype.

"They raised a lot of expectations, but it was never in the cards they couldbring about revolutionary change," he said. "They have a narrow majority anda president of the other party."


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