July 21st, 2005

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Goodbye Scotty

James Doohan passed away yesterday. I understand they are going to send his ashes into space! Good ending to a great life, entertaining billions.

http://www.cnn.com/2005/SHOWBIZ/TV/07/20/obit.doohan.ap/index.html

I read Harry Potter, finishing it Tuesday night. I won't post any spoilers at this time. I will return to this later. I will only say that I was sad at the ending.

I do have one quibble that I don't think is much of a spoiler--but stop now if you want to remain even slightly unspoiled.

She has portrayed that each country has its own magical society counterpart to our own. I would think that Voldemort and crew are dangerous enough that all such communities would be working together against this threat. Who would imagine he would stop at terrorizing one such society? There is no mention at all of how the rest of the magical worlk is reacting to the news of his return and his followers' activities.

I hope this is rectified in the next book. I can't imagine everyone else in the world is looking on and feeling like this is a self contained problem.

Reader reactions to Harry Potter (the real secret isn't given away but alluded to):

http://www.cnn.com/2005/SHOWBIZ/books/07/20/harrypotter.readers.ap/index.html
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God made us just fine, thanks

Salon has been doing a series of articles about the "reparative therapy" movement to make gay people straight. This is from the fourth in the series:


July 21, 2005 | On the front page of the Exodus International Web site is a photograph of several dozen men and women. The allegedly changed homosexuals, or newly minted ex-gays, are beaming at the camera, apparently celebrating their newfound freedom from homosexuality. Standing in the center of the photograph is 29-year-old Shawn O'Donnell, who was enrolled in Exodus programs on and off for 10 years.

Exodus is the umbrella organization, information clearinghouse and referral service for "ex-gay ministries." These organizations claim they can help gays and lesbians become heterosexual. Exodus was founded in 1976 as part of a backlash against the American Psychiatric Association's 1973 determination that homosexuality is not a mental disorder. Exodus leaders are embraced by the religious right, including the politically influential Focus on the Family, which holds conferences touting the success of the "ex-gay movement."

The only problem with the Exodus photo is that O'Donnell is still gay. In fact, he is out of the closet and says he is the happiest he has ever been in his life. The efforts to change him from gay to straight were what sank him into despair. At age 21, in his bedroom at his parents' house, O'Donnell slashed his arms. "No one was home," O'Donnell says. "I was in my room and just started cutting. I definitely did not want to live anymore. I bled through my clothes. I had pretty deep cuts." O'Donnell's parents rushed him to the hospital, and he spent a week in a psychiatric ward. At the time, he was getting counseling from a group called Overcomers Ministries.

Mental health professionals fear there may be many stories like O'Donnell's. They say that efforts to change a person's sexual orientation, notably through therapy programs modeled on boot camps, with Draconian regulations, can be psychologically destructive. The American Psychiatric Association has asked ethical psychiatrists to refrain from "reparative therapy" that is supposed to change gays. "We are finding that the numbers of people claiming to be harmed by reparative therapy are increasing," says Dr. Jack Drescher, chair of the American Psychiatric Association's Committee on Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Issues. "I don't know about the suicides because it is hard to determine why somebody killed themselves afterward. But the harm is increasing."

O'Donnell grew up Elgin, Ill., about 40 miles outside Chicago. He mostly attended Pentecostal churches as a kid. As for his sexuality, he says he knew something was up at age 6. But he was told that being gay was a sin. At age 18, he began counseling to overcome homosexuality at Leanne Payne Ministries, which he visited once or twice a week for two years.

In 10 years of therapy, O'Donnell was told that a bad relationship with his father may have made him gay, that he may have been sexually abused, and that his mother was overbearing. He says none of those things are true. "At times I was told that I just wasn't praying hard enough or reading the Bible enough," he says. But O'Donnell says his sexual orientation did not change. Like a half-dozen gay Christian men I interviewed who participated in ex-gay programs, O'Donnell felt trapped between his faith and his sexuality. "At the time, I could not be gay and I could not be a Christian," he says. "I could not stop being gay and I did not want to give up my faith."

Even after his first suicide attempt, O'Donnell tried to change from gay to straight. For three years, he went through therapy with New Hope Ministries. This time, O'Donnell was an inpatient, so he could get round-the-clock help. And again, the therapy didn't work. While he was there, he made a second suicide attempt, although this time the slashes to his wrists didn't require him to be hospitalized. He eventually gave up trying to change. "After three years, I finally went AWOL," O'Donnell says. He adds that he now happily attends a church that welcomes him and his sexuality.

Recently, O'Donnell asked Exodus president Alan Chambers to take his photo off the Exodus Web site. But Chambers, O'Donnell says, told him that Exodus owns the picture and it still signifies that people can change. "I said, 'How can you say that is true when I know there are at least three people in that picture who have not changed?'" Exodus did not return my calls seeking comment about the photo.

Earlier this summer, I went to a New York screening of "Fish Can't Fly," a documentary about Christian gays struggling with their faith and sexuality. The film profiles seven men and women, including O'Donnell, and their futile efforts to change from gay to straight.


You can read the rest at: http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2005/07/21/ex_gays/index.html

Even when you can get a member of the religious right to agree that it is not curable, they then simply say one has to live an abstinent life void of relationships. Sure, you try it and set an example for us all.

Obviously my conclusion is that we are what we are, that morality is not in who we have a relationship with (as long as it's an adult) but rather the quality of love and respect that we conduct it with. We'll all find out who was right and who was wrong on the other side...

edited to note that later in the article the point is made that if the glbt community was more welcoming to Christians, the ex-gay ministry would go out of business. Let's do what we can to be more accepting and supportive of our Christian brothers and sisters. We need to walk our tolerance talk, don't you think?
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another London attack

Fortunately this time the detonation failed although some of the explosive burned, giving off some smoke and a sour odor:

http://www.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/europe/07/21/london.tube/index.html

They again tried the same scenario, 3 tube explosions and a bus, but none of it worked and they now have some evidence to work with.

Goddess bless all the Londoners who are bravely trying to live under this threat!
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Action alert!

From one of my activist co-workers:

Our government is holding the American Pastors for Peace group and their buses of humanitarian aid to Cuba at the US-Mexico border, stating that they will not allow American citizens to take humanitarian aid to Cuba without the explicit permission of the Bush Administration.

Please call and forward this email. See the EMERGENCY ACTION ALERT below for instructions.

This may be THE most important immediate action you can take to help normalize relations between the US and Cuba, and allow freedom of travel and the flow of humanitarian aid to Cuba or any country we wish! (FYI, US citizens can send aid to any other country and travel to other countries without requiring the permission of the U.S govt.)

Please see the sample letter and phone numbers to call ASAP. We must make these calls now in order to get 140 tons of aid to Cuba through Mexico. Don't let the U.S govt. stop humanitarian aid to Cuba!!

Feel free to contact me directly if you are interested in getting an articulate speaker for your radio show or to interview for other media.

If you're interested in finding out more information online about this issue and about the Caravan for Peace:

Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (Pastors for Peace)
http://www.ifconews.org/

Read the Blog Updates from the Caravan stopped at the Border:
http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/942/1039/1600/linda%20letter1.jpg

Latin American Working Group (great policy and strategic action around lifting the Travel Ban and the Trade Embargo/Blockade)
http://www.lawg.org/

Global Exchange Freedom to Travel Campaign
http://www.globalexchange.org/countries/americas/cuba/travel/index.html

Thanks in advance for your action!

Kathy in Santa Cruz


-----------------------------------

EMERGENCY ACTION ALERT
Pastors Cuba Caravan Barred at US-Mexico Border

URGENT- PLEASE CONTACT THE COMMERCE DEPARTMENT AND YOUR CONGRESSIONAL
REPRESENTATIVES, EMERGENCY NETWORKS AND PRESS CONTACTS:
SPREAD THE WORD FAR AND WIDE!


http://www.commerce.gov/ 202-482-2000
Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez cgutierrez@commerce.gov


As of 1:30 pm EDT, July 21, 2005, The Pastors for Peace Friendshipment
Caravan to Cuba is being held up at the US-Mexico border by US Commerce
Department officials. They are threatening to search every vehicle and
every item of humanitarian aid. They are telling us that "only licensable
goods will be allowed to cross into Mexico."


Pastors for Peace does not accept or apply for a license to deliver
humanitarian aid to Cuba.


There are 130 US citizens traveling with the caravan. They and the
humanitarian aid are traveling in eight busses, a box truck and two small
cars. It will take days to inspect the 140 tons of aid. We are prepared to
do whatever we need to do to deliver our humanitarian aid to Cuba. Stay
posted...

PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW!

1) Call Scott Kamen, Congressional Aide of Affairs at the Department of
Commerce, at 202-482-0097 and demand that the Caravan be allowed to cross
the border with all of its humanitarian cargo.

2) Call your Congressperson and ask them to call Secretary of Commerce
Carlos Gutierrez at 202-482-2000, or Scott Kamen at 202-482-0097. If you
don t know how to reach your Congressperson, go to http://www.house.gov/
and enter your zip code. That will take you to the Congresspersons home web
page where you can find phone and email information.