March 20, 2012
Nobel peace prize winner
defends law criminalising homosexuality in Liberia
Exclusive: In joint interview, Tony Blair refuses to comment on Liberian president's remarks supporting anti-gay
Tamasin Ford and Bonnie Allen in Monrovia, The Guardian, 19 March 2012 12.36 GMT
In a joint interview with Tony Blair, who was left looking visibly uncomfortable by her remarks, Sirleaf told the Guardian: "We've got certain traditional values in our society that we would like to preserve."
Liberian legislation classes "voluntary sodomy" as a misdemeanour punishable by up to one year in prison, but two new bills have been proposed that would target homosexuality with much tougher sentences.
When asked whether good governance and human rights went hand in hand, the British former prime minister said: "I'm not giving you an answer on it."
"One of the advantages of doing what I do now is I can choose the issues I get into and the issues I don't. For us, the priorities are around power, roads, jobs delivery," he said.
Over his 10 years as prime minister, Blair became a champion for the legal equality of gay people, pushing through laws on civil partnerships, lifting a ban on gay people in the armed forces and lowering the age of consent for gay people to 16.
A Catholic convert, he called on the pope to rethink his "entrenched" views and offer equal rights to gay people. But gay rights, he said, were not something he was prepared to get involved in as an adviser to African leaders.
With Sirleaf sitting to his left, Blair refused to give any advice on gay rights reforms. He let out a stifled chuckle after Sirleaf interrupted him to make it clear that Blair and his staff were only allowed to do what she said they could. "AGI Liberia has specific terms of reference … that's all we require of them," she said, crossing her arms and leaning back.
There have been no recent convictions under the sodomy law, according to the latest US state department human rights report. However, anti-gay activists have promoted two new bills which would take the legislation much further. One would amend the penal code to make a person guilty of a second-degree felony if he or she "seduces, encourages or promotes another person of the same gender to engage in sexual activities" or "purposefully engages in acts that arouse or tend to arouse another person of the same gender to have sexual intercourse", carrying a prison sentence of up to five years.
The second bill – drafted by the ex-wife of the former president Charles Taylor – would make gay marriage a crime punishable by up to 10 years in jail. Jewel Howard Taylor told the Guardian: "[Homosexuality] is a criminal offence. It is un-African." She went on to say: "It is a problem in our society. We consider deviant sexual behaviour criminal behaviour.
"We are just trying to strengthen our local laws. This is not an attempt to bash homosexuals."
The gay rights debate erupted in Liberia after the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, announced in December that America's foreign aid budget would promote the protection of gay rights, prompting speculation that funds would be tied to rights records.
The announcement brought unprecedented attention to homosexuality in a country where until recently gay people and lesbians lived in secret, but generally not in fear for their lives. Since Clinton's remarks, Liberian newspapers have published numerous articles and editorials describing homosexuality as "desecrating", "abusive" and an "abomination".
"Over the last six months, we've seen a worrying increase in anti-gay rhetoric, intolerance and indeed attacks on individuals fighting for the rights of Liberians in same-sex relationships," said Corinne Dufka, a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch in west Africa.
In the past month alone there have been at least six homophobic attacks in the capital, Monrovia.
One 21-year-old gay man, who recently left Monrovia to move to the countryside after some of his friends were threatened, said he now lived in fear of mob violence, a common occurrence on the streets of Monrovia. "You and your brother walking down the street, they may actually jump on you and beat you, kill you, and when they say: 'Oh they are gay, that's the reason we killed them,' nothing will come of it," he said.
Homosexuality is already illegal in 37 African countries. In Uganda, a bill proposing custodial sentences for homosexuality is still being considered, although it no longer contains the provision for the death penalty. Ten women were recently arrested in Cameroon accused of being lesbians, while in Nigeria, homosexual activities are punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
Sirleaf was awarded the Nobel peace prize last year for her work in campaigning for women's rights. The 73-year-old became Africa's first female president in 2006 and was elected for a second term last year. "If she tried to decriminalise the [current anti-gay] law it would be political suicide," said Tiawan S Gongloe, the country's former solicitor general. Without a majority government, Sirleaf desperately needs the support of other MPs to tackle other issues such as corruption, exploitation of the country's natural resources and mass youth unemployment, he said.
After 14 years of civil war that ended in 2003, Liberia is still one of the poorest countries in the world.
Gongloe also said the country was still not ready for a debate on gay rights. "Liberians need public education on the issue. Our society is not at that point yet to have a civil conversation on the issue," he said.
At an African Union summit earlier this year Ban Ki-moon urged African leaders to respect gay rights and to stop treating gay people as second-class citizens and criminals.
When pushed on the UN secretary general's comments, with Sirleaf at his side, Blair responded: "I'm not saying these issues aren't important, but the president has given her position and this is not one for me."
© 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.
February 05, 2012
American Conservative Union’s chairman Al Cardenas
discusses the Conservatism of the 2012 GOP Candidates
@ Fox News, February 4, 2012 After the Nevada Caucuses Won by Mitt Romney
Can Rick Santorum Win the Support of All Conservatives?
@ Fox News, February 5, 2012 After the Nevada Caucuses Won by Mitt Romney
February 01, 2012
See here Newt Gingrich launching the idea
See here Rick Santorum declining the personal invitation,
while ackowledging the value of the general idea
January 27, 2012
Why Are Some Conservative Americans Demeaning Newt Gingrich?
@ The O’Reilly Factor, January 26, 2012.
Yes, good question: why?
Conservative wars are really shameful.
Just like Conservatives who choose to became instruments of the GOP establishment.
For God's sake, be truthful to yourself and your people, come back home!
Here is Ann Coulter @ The O’Reilly Factor, January 23, 2012
* * *
Newsmax - Thursday, January 26, 2012 10:58 PM
O’Reilly ‘Surprised by Right Wing Attacks on Gingrich
by Russell Small
Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly expressed shock — and dismay — at what he called some conservatives’ “demeaning” comments about presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.
O’Reilly, in his Talking Points Memo, lashed out Thursday at conservatives’ attacks on the former House speaker’s conservative credentials.
“I’m surprised by the right wing,” O’Reilly said. “I’ve known the speaker for about 10 years and to me, he’s a bona fide conservative.
“He may wander off the reservation sometimes but that just shows he’s not a zombie.”
While some conservative voters question Gingrich’s conservative stance, others see him as “an avenger and someone who won’t take any guff from the president or the media,” O'Reilly said.
The irony of conservatives attacking a conservative was not lost on O'Reilly.
“A year ago, if somebody told me that the committed right would be attacking Newt Gingrich on ideology, I would have laughed. Scornfully! But that is what’s happening today,” O’Reilly said.
January 24, 2012
Budapest, Hősök tere (Heroes' Square), January 21, 2012
Magyar people defending the new Constitution and the country's government against the vicious attacks of the European Union. The new Magyar Constitution took effect January 1, 2012: for 21 years after the fall of the Communist regime, Hungary went on smoothly with the old Stalinist law of the land...
January 20, 2012
January 19, 2012
January 17, 2012
January 13, 2012
October 21, 2011
October 20, 2011
June 03, 2011
May 31, 2011
May 03, 2011
April 02, 2011
February 25, 2011
February 11, 2011
January 27, 2011
I do not get any royalty in displaying it, be quiet –but I do love the splendid images
of wind, sea, sailing, fish, and a true working man on the waves of some the northern sea
(and his family too!) contained in this great commercial
which I discovered on FoxNews (THE great tv channel)
January 25, 2011
January 21, 2011
December 25, 2010
December 17, 2010
Is There a Santa Claus?
reprinted from the September 21, 1897, number of The New York Sun
We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of The Sun:
I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun, it's so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?
115 West Ninety Fifth Street
Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.
We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
December 03, 2010
Sarah Palin’s Alaska is an American television show about the state of Alaska, hosted by former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and produced by Mark Burnett Productions for Discovery Communication on TLC, an Amarican cable TV.
It is programmed to start being aired on November 14, 2010.
The series will be eight episodes long, and is being billed as a part travelogue, part documentary series. The theme song for SPA will be Follow Me There by Grammy award-winning Christian rock band Third Day.
In announcing the show, Palin said that the show will bring “the wonder and majesty of Alaska to all Americans."