Salvation Army Takes Down ‘Ex-Gay’ Links, Offers Apology

Official crest of The Salvation Army.

Official crest of The Salvation Army. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Carlos Santoscoy | On Top Magazine | November 29, 2013

The Salvation Army has taken down links from its website to two “ex-gay” ministries.

The links, posted under resources for dealing with “sexual addictions,” ferried users to the websites of Harvest USA and Pure Life Ministries, which promote the idea that gay people can – and should – alter their sexuality.

The links were removed after Truth Wins Out, a group opposed to so-called “reparative therapy,” objected to their inclusion.

“We thank the Salvation Army for acting swiftly and decisively in addressing our concerns about links to ‘ex-gay’ organizations,” Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen said.  “This is a step in the right direction and congruent with their anti-discrimination campaign.  We hope this action leads to further progress in gaining the full confidence and trust of the LGBT community.”

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Science of homosexuality explored in new doc

English: Nature vs. Nurture

English: Nature vs. Nurture (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CBC | November 29, 2013

If natural selection favours individuals who leave behind lots of descendants, why do homosexuals exist?

Filmmaker Bryce Sage, who describes himself as “openly gay and proudly flamboyant,” set out to answer that question in his new documentary, Survival of the Fabulous, which aired Thursday at 8 p.m. on CBC-TV’s The Nature of Things.

The film follows Sage on a humorous, personal journey that takes him around the world to talk with scientists who are researching topics ranging from the neuroscience of gay sheep to the effect of birth order on your odds of being gay.

Sage also examines the nature and nurture components of his own life by visiting his family in Port Hope, Ont.

Sage spoke to about the experience of making the film and what he learned about the science of homosexuality.

What made you interested in making this film?

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Military Commissions Stuck on Torture

Colonel Morris Davis, Chief Prosecutor Guantan...

Colonel Morris Davis, Chief Prosecutor Guantanamo Military Commissions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Adam Hudson | Truthout | November 29, 2013

At the end of October, in the latest installment of the Guantanamo military commissions, pretrial hearings for the five men accused of plotting the 9/11 terrorist attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people resumed. These and other hearings, as well as additional developments, reveal how far the United States government has gone to conceal evidence of human rights abuses, particularly torture. Moreover, it shows that the chapter on torture has not been closed.

Currently, 164 detainees, mostly low-level fighters captured overseas, remain in the detention facility at the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Of those, 84 are cleared for release, around four dozen are designated for indefinite detention – seen as too difficult to prosecute, because there is not enough evidence to try them or evidence is inadmissible because it was produced through torture, but also too tricky to release – and a handful are being tried in military commissions. About 20 can be “realistically prosecuted,” according to chief prosecutor Brig. Gen. Mark Martins. Indefinite detention, the practice of incarcerating an individual without trial, violates international human rights standards, yet is still embraced by the Obama administration.

The military stopped providing daily updates of the six-month hunger strike in September, saying the strike was mostly over. However, the Miami Herald has continued counting. The numbers continue to hover around a dozen. As of this writing, 15 prisoners are on hunger strike, all of whom are being force-fed.

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8 Miraculous Medical Marijuana Survival Stories

Medical marijuana dispensary on Ventura Boulev...

Medical marijuana dispensary on Ventura Boulevard in Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jodie Gummow | AlterNet | November 29, 2013

If there weren’t already enough good reasons to legalize pot, the discovery that marijuana may have the medical potential to cure people from debilitating illnesses, as the following inspirational stories suggest, may prove to be the most convincing argument yet.  Weed Geek  reveals the heart-felt triumphs of those who claim medical marijuana miraculously saved their lives.

1.         Rick Simpson

Rick Simpson is known for inventing  hemp-oil medicine that he claims treated his own skin cancer after he was a ‘chemical zombie’ from all the drugs he had taken as a cancer sufferer.  After curing himself and hundreds of others with his canabis oil, Rick tried to take his medicine to Canadian authorities. However, the move backfired and the authorities tried to prosecute him. Today, Rick is considered a hero in the medical marijuana world with a huge following of believers.  Watch his documentary, ‘ Run From The Cure’ and see for yourself.

2.         Shona Banda

A sufferer of Crohn’s Disease for eight years, Shona was bedridden and could only walk with a cane. Diagnosed as terminally ill, Shona decided to explore alternative remedies in a last bid to save her life. Shona saw Rick Simpson’s video and began to treat herself with cannabis oil and voila! She is now considered cured and has a normal life. She subsequently wrote a book, ‘ Live Free or Die,’ detailing the weed experience that saved her life.

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Obama Approves Major Border-Crossing Fracked Gas Pipeline Used to Dilute Tar Sands

English: Photograph of street-theatre style pr...

English: Photograph of street-theatre style protesters against Canadian Tar Sands extraction, outside Canada House, London, on the UK Tar Sands Network International Tar Sands Day of Action 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Steve Horn | DeSmog Blog | Reader Supported News | November 29, 2013

lthough TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has received the lion’s share of media attention, another key border-crossing pipeline benefitting tar sands producers was approved on November 19 by the U.S. State Department.

Enter Cochin, Kinder Morgan’s 1,900-mile proposed pipeline to transport gas produced via the controversial hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) of the Eagle Ford Shale basin in Texas north through Kankakee, Illinois, and eventually into Alberta, Canada, the home of the tar sands.

Like Keystone XL, the pipeline proposal requires U.S. State Department approval because it crosses the U.S.-Canada border. Unlike Keystone XL – which would carry diluted tar sands diluted bitumen (“dilbit”) south to the Gulf Coast – Kinder Morgan’s Cochin pipeline would carry the gas condensate (diluent) used to dilute the bitumen north to the tar sands.

“The decision allows Kinder Morgan Cochin LLC to proceed with a $260 million plan to reverse and expand an existing pipeline to carry an initial 95,000 barrels a day of condensate,” the Financial Post wrote.

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The Right’s Misconstrued Constitution

U.S. Supreme Court building.

U.S. Supreme Court building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Robert Parry | Consortium News | Reader Supported News | November 29, 2013

he five right-wingers on the U.S. Supreme Court may soon recognize the “religious freedom” of corporations so that these artificial constructs can then dictate to female human citizens restrictions on the kinds of contraceptives that they can get through their work-place health insurance plans.

That may sound crazy but some court watchers believe that the Right-Wing Five will follow the logic of their “corporations-are-people” theories to this next nutty conclusion. After all, if corporations have First Amendment rights of “free speech” when they are financing political propaganda to influence the outcome of U.S. elections, there is a consistency – albeit a bizarre one – to extending to corporations the First Amendment’s “religious freedom.”

Already unlimited corporate money in campaigns has drowned out regular human citizens in terms of who (or what) has the bigger say in the outcome of elections, so why shouldn’t the religious choices of corporations override the personal and moral judgments of people who work for the corporations?

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World Fights Back Against the Biggest Brother in History

United Nations Human Rights Council logo.

United Nations Human Rights Council logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sonali Kolhatkar | Truthdig | November 28, 2013

The United States’ vast and indiscriminate worldwide surveillance of ordinary people and heads of state has no historical precedent. Now countries around the world are fighting back using the United Nations as a vehicle for change. In a move that received little media coverage in the U.S., a United Nations committee approved without a vote a draft resolution entitled “The Right to Privacy in a Digital Age.” The nonbinding resolution, which will now head to the General Assembly where it has broad support, follows from a report published in June by the United Nations Human Rights Council. It detailed the negative impact of state surveillance on free expression and human rights and lamented that technology has outpaced legislation.

The remarkable U.N. draft resolution affirms privacy as a human right, on par with other globally recognized civil and political rights. Several leading advocacy groups, including Access Now, Amnesty International, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights Watch and Privacy International, signed an open letter to the U.N. General Assembly backing the resolution. The letter stresses the “importance of protecting privacy and free expression in the face of technological advancements and encroaching State power.”

Carly Nyst, the head of international advocacy at Privacy International, told me, “This resolution could not be more important. At the moment we’re seeing serious threats to the protection of the right to privacy in the form of [National Security Agency] spying but also in the form of other surveillance practices that are taking place across the world. We think that voting in favor of this resolution is a really important stand for states to take so that they will no longer stand for global surveillance practices undertaken by the U.S. and others. This is a pivotal moment.”

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The Framers Never Envisioned a 60 Vote Supermajority

Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer

Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sen. Tom Harkin | Reader Supported News | November 29, 2013

n the wake of Senate action last week to restore the Senate practice that nominees receive an up or down vote, there has been a great deal of hyperventilating about whether the rules change is consistent with the intent of the Founders and what it means for the future of the Senate.

Some have called it “tyranny.” Others, a “naked power grab.” In reality, the action taken by the Senate last week is consistent with both the Constitution and the Senate rules and two centuries of Senate tradition, and is fully aligned with the intent of the Founders as well.

Both Alexander Hamilton and James Madison indicated in the Federalist Papers a clear belief in majority rule, with Hamilton staying that “the fundamental maxim of republican government . . . requires that the sense of the majority should prevail.” Nonetheless, the Founders left the matter of House and Senate procedure undetermined in the Constitution, choosing instead to let Congress determine its own rules. Article I, section 5 of the Constitution, the Rules and Proceedings Clause, states that each House may determine the rules of its proceedings.”

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The Affordable Care Act v. Supreme Court, Round 2

English: Depiction of the Senate vote on H.R. ...

English: Depiction of the Senate vote on H.R. 3590 (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) on December 24, 2009, by state. Two Democratic yeas One Democratic yea, one Republican nay One Republican nay, one Republican not voting Two Republican nays (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Scott Lemieux | The American Prospect | Reader Supported News | November 29, 2013

Diving into the two contraception-mandate cases the high court will hear this term: Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius and Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

esterday, the Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases questioning the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate: Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius and Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. These rulings could have potentially major implications for the rights of American women. Let’s consider the issues at hand, one at a time:

Does the contraceptive mandate violate religious freedom?

The key question in both cases is whether the contraceptive mandate violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This legislation requires any policy placing a “substantial burden” on religious Americans prove that said burden serves a compelling government interest. Both Conestoga Wood and Hobby Lobby contend that the Affordable Care Act’s demand that they offer contraception coverage to their employees does not pass the Religious Freedom Restoriation Act’s test. But, as the Prospect’s Amelia Thomson-DeVeaux asks, is the mandate actually violating the religious beliefs of these companies? The arguments being made against the mandate are not based on theological doctrines concerning birth control-the employers in question are Protestants, not Roman Catholics. Instead, they are based on the scientifically erroneous belief that some forms of contraception constitute a form of abortion.

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Secretive Corporate Deal Could Establish Special Closed Door Courts for Big Business

A summit with leaders of the member states of ...

A summit with leaders of the member states of the Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP). Pictured, from left, are Naoto Kan (Japan), Nguyễn Minh Triết (Vietnam), Julia Gillard (Australia), Sebastián Piñera (Chile), Lee Hsien Loong (Signapore), Barack Obama (United States), John Key (New Zealand), Hassanal Bolkiah (Brunei), Alan García (Peru), and Muhyiddin Yassin (Malaysia). Six of these leaders represent countries that are currently negotiating to join the group. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thomas Mc Donagh| Democracy Center | Reader Supported News | November 29, 2013

A recent leak uncovered what may be the most dangerous aspect of the Trans Pacific Partnership.

ast week the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement leapt from behind the closed doors of negotiations to the front pages of major newspapers, thanks to information from Wikileaks revealing previously unpublished details of the proposed intellectual property chapter of the deal.

If you hadn’t yet heard about the TPP, there is a reason for that. Not even members of the US Congress have been allowed to see the negotiating text. Thanks to a set of leaks however, we´re beginning to get glimpses of exactly how dangerous the agreement is. The Wikileaks revelations have shone an urgent public light on the agreement’s onerous implications regarding intellectual property.

In 2012, however, another leak uncovered what may be an even more dangerous aspect of the TPP. The proposed investment chapter of the deal revealed plans to expand the system of international investment tribunals that deal with what is called ‘investor-state dispute settlement’. These are closed-door courts that take direct aim at the ability of governments across the world to enact environmental, public health and other protections for their citizens.

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