Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saturday Male Beauty

Few Heard Ticking Credit Time Bomb

I believe things are going to get much worse in the credit melt down before they get better. We have received three alerts from out title underwriter in the last two days advising NOT to schedule loan transactions with certain lenders due to those lenders' recent difficulties funding loans. This somewhat lengthy article in today's New York Times ( makes it clear that warning signs were there for some time. People simply chose to ignore them and got away with it until the house market slow down became pronounced. Locally, foreclosures have doubled from a year ago. Here are some highlights from the Times article:

All through last year, Jim Melcher saw the signs of a rapidly deteriorating American housing market — riskier mortgages, rising delinquencies and more homes falling into foreclosure. And with $100 million in assets at his hedge fund, Balestra Capital, he was in a position to do something about it.

So in October, as mortgage-backed bonds were still flying high, he bet $10 million that these bonds would plunge in value, using complex derivatives available to any institutional investor. As his gamble began to pay off in the first months of 2007, Mr. Melcher, a New York-based money manager, plowed the profits into ever bigger wagers that the mortgage crisis would worsen further, eventually risking some $60 million of the fund’s money.
In December, the first subprime lenders started failing as more borrowers began falling behind on payments, often shortly after they received the loans. And in February, HSBC, the large British bank, said it would write off $2 billion in losses from its American subprime lending business. Over the last two weeks, this slowly building wave became a tsunami in the global financial markets.

On Friday, the Federal Reserve was forced into a surprise cut of the discount rate it charges banks to borrow money, steadying shaky stock and credit markets and reassuring investors, bankers and traders who were reeling from a month of market turmoil. And for the first time, the Fed bluntly acknowledged that the credit crisis posed a threat to economic growth. “Until recently, there was a lot of denial, but this is a big deal,” said Byron R. Wien, a 40-year veteran of Wall Street who is now chief investment strategist at Pequot Capital. “Now the big question is: Will this spill over into the broader economy?”

“All of the old-timers knew that subprime mortgages were what we called neutron loans — they killed the people and left the houses,” said Louis S. Barnes, 58, a partner at Boulder West, a mortgage banking firm in Lafayette, Colo. “The deals made in 2005 and 2006 were going to run into trouble because the credit pendulum at the time was stuck at easy.”

Other companies face far more immediate problems. Countrywide Financial, the nation’s largest independent mortgage lender, found itself defending reports this month that bankruptcy could be looming as its stock plunged 41 percent. To make matters worse, all borrowers are now likely to face higher borrowing costs for years to come, even those with stellar credit histories. Already, mortgages of more than $417,000, known as jumbos, carry interest rates of 7.5 to 8 percent, up from 6.5 percent last month.

What is more, subprime mortgages offered to homebuyers in 2005 and 2006, when credit standards were at their most lax, will soon begin to reset, forcing up monthly payments for the weakest borrowers practically overnight. As a result, Mr. Goldstone predicts that banks and other lenders could eventually see losses reach into the tens of billions.

More Saturday Male Beauty

Bungling Bureaucrats

Jim at Though Lovers be Lost has had some fun lately spotlighting the idiocy of some government bureaucrat types in making up slogans or other promotional items only to find out their idea has very negative connotations they never thought of (my favorite is the green license plates in Ontario for environmentally friendly vehicles which unfortunately used the color scheme matching that of some states in the USA to denote vehicles of registered sexual predators). Now, Virginia has joined the parade of bureaucratic idiots with its new tourism slogan and symbol. After using the "Virginia is for Lovers" slogan for years - even though in Virginia Lovers can only be straights - the state came up with a new slogan, "Live Passionately" combined with a hand signal depicting a heart. Sounds OK at first. However, turns out that the hand signal has long been used by hardcore gangs. Oops!! Here are highlights from a Virginian Pilot story (

The state’s new tourism slogan, “Live passionately,” almost died Friday. The catch phrase, featured on promotional material, was accompanied by a hand gesture that has been associated with a decades-old gang that has members scattered across the United States. Virginia Tourism Corp. officials decided to alter the images used in the ad campaign rather than scrap the idea.

The gesture, a heart made from both thumbs and index fingers, is one of many associated with the Gangster Disciples, according to several Web sites and the Virginia Gang Investigators Association. The FBI Web site classifies the Gangster Disciples as “one of the most violent of four African-American gangs that hang out on the south side of Chicago.”

“Out of respect to those who have concerns about the use of this symbol, we will adjust the creative images in our ad campaign to eliminate any further misinterpretation of the heart/hand symbol,” said Alisa Bailey, president of the state’s tourism marketer, in an e-mail. “We regret if anyone interpreted the symbol as anything other than a symbol of love, as was intended.” About $400,000 was spent on developing the campaign, not including ad buys, Bailey said earlier this week. By Friday afternoon, the pictures in question had been replaced with generic images or portraits of the same models – minus the hand gesture. No additional money was spent to make the change, Bailey said in a separate statement.
Tourism officials were made aware of the possible conflict earlier this week, before the T-shirts and bumper stickers were handed out in Virginia Beach on Wednesday. At the time, officials thought the gang was “a small group confined to South Carolina” and went ahead with the promotional event, Bailey said Friday.

Saturday Male Beauty

Merv Griffin Media Storm

I have been following a number of blogs and articles on the recent death of Merv Griffin at age 82 and the various attempts to sanitize history to avoid a direct discussion of his sexual orientation. Unlike closeted anti-gay politicians who, in my view, deserve to be outed due to their hypocrisy, Griffin certainly had the right to stay in the closet during his lifetime if that is what he chose to do. However, I am surprised at the strong reactions and threats of lawsuits to the mere reporting of what was apparently an open secret among some circles in Hollywood and elsewhere. I also do not understand the threats of libel suits since, in general, one cannot libel a dead person. Moreover, truth is an absolute defense to a libel or defamation claim, and if factual evidence existed to back up the story, then no one in the press should have been afraid of a libel suit.
In any event, via Pam's House Blend and America Blog, I found this post at ( that looks at the changing news reporting on Griffin's death and the obvious efforts to down play his homosexuality. It is a bit surprising that in Hollywood in 2007, some are still apparently terribly worried about being labeled as gay. I can perhaps understand some young rising star, but Griffin was long retired and largely out of the public eye. It is truly sad that in this day and age, people still feel ashamed of who they are through no choice of their own all because of the bigotry of others. Here are highlights of the post:

Early this morning I posted a very insightful article by The Hollywood Reporter writer Ray Richmond entitled, Merv Griffin Died A Closeted Homosexual. His piece has caused quite a stir. Later in the day, a reader alerted me that my link to the article was no good; I knew I would have to put on my sleuthing cap to figure out what was going on. I soon discovered at the site of my favourite blog mistress, Pam (Pam's House Blend), that both The Hollywood Reporter AND Reuters had pulled Mr. Richmond's article.

Fortunately, one of Pam's House Blend readers, Stephanie, in Victoria, posted the still active link at for the Reuters piece, with the original article, here .

This afternoon, writer/editor Kevin Allman posted an interview on his blog after speaking with Ray Richmond about the removal of the article. He asked Mr. Richmond, "Do you think they were pressured to take it down?" He replied, "Sure. I’m sure it was taken down because there was fear of litigation, and that the post was libelous and/or defamatory. And I certainly don’t believe that to be the case." Mr. Richmond added that he hoped to speak with his bosses at The Hollywood Reporter, stating, "I will have discussions with them, and I will hope at some point we can have it restored online. It seems that scotching the post gives the appearance of liability when there isn’t any. It was simply a factual, very informed discussion of the larger issue of the media’s difficulty in allowing someone to be labeled as gay in the mainstream, as if that is somehow a huge shame. My whole reason for doing the piece for the Reporter was to shine a light on that fact. Unfortunately that appears to be the case...even internally." Mr Richmond also said that he has not been contacted by anyone representing Merv Griffin.

I wanted to put the truth out there in a loving and concerned way. One could make the point that it was his business alone, but I don’t think this was true, because he was a public figure and this was who the man was."

Mr. Richmond made some excellent points. Does anyone else think that the idea of suing to keep the lid on someone's not so well hidden sexuality is absurd? Talk about the truth being in jeopardy. Sadly, however, Merv Griffin is not the only deceased celebrity in recent history to undergo a straight-wash attempt by mainstream media.

Later this afternoon, The Hollywood Reporter restored the article. Mystery solved, or so I thought. I decided to investigate some more and this is what I discovered: the original title, "Merv Griffin Died A Closeted Homosexual" had been CHANGED to, Griffin never revealed man behind the curtain, AND the text of the original article itself had been ALTERED. Some text was DELETED and some new text was ADDED.

See the revised story (with highlights of the modified language at

Friday, August 17, 2007

Final Friday Male Beauty

Ex-gay Conversion Attempts Mostly Lead to Harm

It was a pleasnt surprise to see this article (, authored by Jack Drescher, M.D. (pictured at left), a distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, appear in The Tennessean, published in central Tennessee. Hopefully, more and more people will wake up to the fraudulent nature of these programs and the harm that they can do to the individual subjected to the conversion attempt:

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association, after careful scientific review, removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders. Their decision is supported by the American Psychological Association and the American Medical Association. Yet, some people with same-sex attractions have religious backgrounds condemning homosexuality. Others wish to avoid the stigma of calling themselves gay. Often these people seek to change their sexual orientation.

How? Historically, psychiatrists gave electric shocks to change patients. It didn't work. Today, some therapists (incorrectly) tell prospective patients that parents cause homosexuality and therapy can "cure" them. Still others seek religious therapies or support groups. Some try both.

Does it work? The little scientific study done is not encouraging. Most who try do not change — and no long-term studies show that those claiming change remain heterosexual. Most people seeking change (and therapists trying to change them) believe no price is too high to pay to become heterosexual. However, there are growing reports of people who tried to change, failed, and then felt worse than when they started. Yet, rather than faulting the treatment, they blame themselves, leading to increased feelings of depression, hopelessness, shame and anxiety. Some became suicidal.

Some enter heterosexual marriages — often with a therapist's encouragement or urging. Some have children. However, marriage and children do not necessarily end homosexual desires. Some families fall apart. Those who do not believe in divorce live in tragic circumstances.

Religious social conservatives who oppose gay civil rights argue that homosexual feelings and behaviors are a "learned behavior" that can change. As a behavior, no one is "born gay" and civil rights protections for gay people (which they call "special rights") are therefore unnecessary. These groups spend a lot of time and money promoting and publicizing conversion therapies. They sell "hope" to people desperate for change. Sadly, in many cases what they are selling is false hope and, in some cases, a damaging experience. Let the buyer beware.

More Friday Male Beauty

Rural Virginians Cope with Limited HIV Resources - Tidewater Officials See Spike in ‘Down-Low’ Cases

This article from the Washington Blade ( reports on matters that are not that surprising given the realities of resources and outlook in Virginia outside of certain metropolitan areas. The two biggest obstacles to reducing HIV in Virginia's rural areas (and some urban areas) are (1) the anti-gay, head in the sand mindset of conservative churches, particularly black churches, and (2) limited medical and related resources.

The area referenced in the article on Virginia's Eastern Shore, for example, has only one hospital and very limited medical facilities. In addition, outside of gay friendly pockets like Cape Charles, in many ways the local social outlook is a couple of decades behind areas like Northern Virginia, Norfolk, and Richmond. Even in more progressive areas, the black churches - there are a number in Norfolk - preach anti-gay rhetoric and refuse to admit that HIV is a huge issue in the black community, both among men and women. Here are some highlights from the Blade Article:

RICHMOND, Va. — Administrators and caseworkers in southern coastal Virginia have confirmed the findings of a national study that found AIDS on the rise in rural populations among men who have sex with men. A report revised in 2006 by the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies and the AIDS Research Institute, University of San Francisco, found 60 percent of the rural AIDS cases throughout the U.S. involved gay sex, while transmission through intravenous drug use accounted for 20 percent. The report cited statistics from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, which said 68 percent of all rural AIDS cases in the nation were found in the South.

“In 2000, the rate of new AIDS diagnoses was three times higher for the South than for other rural areas in the U.S.,” it said. “In certain areas of the South, the rate of HIV/AIDS diagnoses is almost as high in rural areas as it is in urban areas.” Ann Verdine-Lewis, director of education for the Tidewater AIDS Task Force in Norfolk, Va., and Brian O’Dell, Tidewater’s program director, said they have seen an increase in HIV cases among black and Latino migrant workers on the “down-low” on the Eastern Shore and other rural areas of the state. These are straight-identified men in heterosexual relationships who also have sex with men.

The national report said blacks represent half of all rural AIDS cases, Caucasians, 37 percent, Latinos, 9 percent and Native American/Alaska Natives, 2 percent.

Sadly, until improved educational and medical resources are available and there is a stark change in the approach to gays in church communities, I do not see the situation improving. Of course, limited health insurance coverage in many impoverished rural areas only further aggravates the situation.

Advocates Hail Lutheran Act on Gay Clergy Members

I have previously reported on events at the recent Churchwide Assembly of the ELCA. Here is a good article that appeared in todays New York Times ( that further addresses the issues of openly gay clergy in committed relationships:

The country’s largest Lutheran denomination officially bars openly gay people from the ministry. But in a move that advocates for gay men and lesbians are hailing as a step toward changing that policy, the denomination is urging its bishops to refrain from disciplining gay members of the clergy who are in committed same-sex relationships.

A resolution to that effect was passed last weekend in Chicago by delegates to the biennial meeting of the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America. Church officials said it did not signal a change in policy. But they said that a denomination task force was completing “a social statement,” or theological document, on human sexuality, to be discussed in 2009, and that the resolution allowed bishops to hold off, in the interim, on taking action against gay and lesbian ministers in their jurisdictions. Robert Tuttle, counsel to the bishop of the synod of metropolitan Washington, D.C., said, “What it changes is that it gives bishops some cover who want to exercise discretion to not bring charges.”

Lutherans who consider open homosexuality incompatible with biblical teachings played down the vote, however, saying it still left the decision to press for discipline at the discretion of bishops. “I’ve talked to a lot of bishops about this,” said Paull Spring, former bishop of the synod of western Pennsylvania and a member of a traditionalist group, Lutheran CORE. “Many have said they have no intention of exercising restraint.” Indeed, the resolution cannot stay the hand of a bishop intent on disciplining an openly gay or lesbian pastor. It also does not prevent disciplinary proceedings from being initiated by other sources like a group of priests that turns to the denomination’s disciplinary committee, Mr. Tuttle said.

I am always amazed by the "Christians" who are so preoccupied with trashing gays. A good analysis of this mind set was noted on Civil Commotion ( today:

What was behind that consuming hatred? At first I thought that it was mere evangelical passion. Evangelical Christianity, as everyone knows, is founded upon hate, as the Christianity of Christ was founded upon love.
(H.L. Mencken from his ruinous denunciation of William Jennings Bryan during his coverage of the Scopes trial).

Another interesting quote is this:

"For centuries, the battle of morality was fought between those who claimed that your life belongs to God and those who claimed that it belongs to your neighbors — between those who preached that the good is self-sacrifice for the sake of ghosts in heaven and those who preached that the good is self-sacrifice for the sake of incompetents on earth. And no one came to say that your life belongs to you and that the good is to live it."
(Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, Galt's speech)

Friday Male Beauty

Vick Co-Defendants Plead Guilty, Still No Word on Vick

Things are not looking good for Michael Vick as reported by the Virginian Pilot ( Personally, I believe it is about time that grossly overpaid professional atheletes are held to the same legal standards as us ordinary citizens:

RICHMOND - Two of NFL quarterback Michael Vick's co-defendants in a professional dogfighting case pleaded guilty this morning in U.S. District Court. There was still no word on whether Vick, a Hampton Roads native, would accept a deal that would require him to serve at least a year in prison. Prosecutors had given him until today to decide or face more serious charges next week when a grand jury meets.

In pleading guilty, Quanis Phillips, 28, of Atlanta, and Purnell Peace, 35, of Virginia Beach signed a 12-page summary of facts. Those documents say there is a picture of Vick and three co-defendants with a pit bull named Jane that they were about to sponsor in a dogfight in North Carolina four years ago. Jane was to fight another pit bull owned by an organization called "Lockjaw Kennels." The documents also say that in April, Vick, Peace and Phillips had training sessions with several dogs at the Surry County property owned by Vick. When about eight of the dogs did not perform well, all three men participated in killing the animals by drowning or hanging them.
According to sources close to the case, Vick's attorneys have advised him to take the deal. There were discussions between prosecutors and Vick's attorneys all week.
I know Vick's attorney, Lawrence Woodward, who is a straight shooter and pragmatic guy. I suspect he's telling it like it is to Vick.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Thursday Male Beauty

Army Suicides Highest in 26 Years

To me this is a very serious problem, particularly since follow up mental health care for our military returning from the nightmare of Iraq is totally inadequate. After Vietnam, I had two friends commit suicide after returning to the USA. After the horrors they saw, they simply could not readapt to normal life. Sadly, I suspect we will be seeing a number of vetrans following a similar path. If Chimperator Bush truly "supported the troops," that would include adequate mental health care. Here are portions of an Associated Press story (

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Army soldiers committed suicide last year at the highest rate in 26 years, and more than a quarter did so while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a new military report. The report, obtained by The Associated Press ahead of its scheduled release Thursday, found there were 99 confirmed suicides among active duty soldiers during 2006, up from 88 the previous year and the highest number since the 102 suicides in 1991 at the time of the Persian Gulf War.

The suicide rate for the Army has fluctuated over the past 26 years, from last year's high of 17.3 per 100,000 to a low of 9.1 per 100,000 in 2001. Last year, "Iraq was the most common deployment location for both (suicides) and attempts," the report said. The 99 suicides included 28 soldiers deployed to the two wars and 71 who weren't. About twice as many women serving in Iraq and Afghanistan committed suicide as did women not sent to war, the report said.

"In addition, there was a significant relationship between suicide attempts and number of days deployed" in Iraq, Afghanistan or nearby countries where troops are participating in the war effort, it said. The same pattern seemed to hold true for those who not only attempted, but succeeded in killing themselves. There also "was limited evidence to support the view that multiple ... deployments are a risk factor for suicide behaviors," it said.

Note that the report appears to exclude those no longer serving in the military. I suspect if those figures were included, the suicide rate would be significantly higher.

Posting Today

With the HRBOR networking event this evening, I may not be posting as much as usual. While the events are billed as 6:00PM to 8:00 PM, they typically run considerably later. I am going to do two posts this morning before office hours. If I do not post later, I will play catch up tomorrow evening.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Final Wednesday Male Beauty

The American Bar Association Shows a Spine

As this story in Harpers indicates, Chimperator Bush has received an unprecidented condemnation from the legal profession:

The LawyersYesterday meeting in San Francisco, the organized legal profession in the United States — the American Bar Association — took a firm stand on the president’s order, denouncing it as unlawful and calling upon Congress to override it. Of the more than five hundred delegates present and voting, one single delegate sided with the administration—the most devastating defeat ever suffered by any U.S. administration on what was essentially a vote of condemnation. Even the ABA committees that represent government lawyers involved in national security organizations and retired military officers led the charge in assailing the Bush order’s legality.

The Los Angeles Times reports: The first resolution dealt with an executive order adopted by the Bush Administration less than a month ago that Barbara Berger Opotowsky, president of the New York City Bar Association, said was clearly “inconsistent with U.S. obligations” under Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which requires humane treatment of detainees.

“The use of official cruelty has repeatedly been shown to be far from the best means of extracting truthful information,” said Opotowsky, who proposed the resolution. She noted that a U.S. Army field manual on intelligence interrogations issued last September barred the controversial interrogation techniques that will be available to the CIA. “Unfortunately, the executive order sets a lower standard for the CIA,” she said.

Memphis, Tenn., lawyer Albert Harvey, a retired Marine major general, also spoke in favor of the resolution, which passed by voice vote with only a single “nay” registering in the large meeting hall at the Moscone Center here. “When we put our troops in harm’s way, we expect other countries to treat our soldiers humanely. We can do no less,” said Harvey, who heads the ABA’s Standing Committee on Law and National Security. Like Opotowsky, Harvey quoted an article recently published by P.X. Kelley, a former Marine commandant, and Robert Turner, of the University’s Center on Law and National Security, who in the past have been supportive of the administration’s war on terror. In this instance, however, the duo wrote that they could not “in good conscience” support the executive order, saying it affords the CIA “carte blanche to engage in ‘willful and outrageous acts of personal abuse.’ “

By passing this resolution, the ABA has now committed itself and its resources to oppose the Bush Administration in court proceedings and in Congress. It also established an opinion within the profession that the executive order itself is unlawful. The ability of CIA officials and others to rely on the order in taking action and claim immunity based on that reliance has been strongly eroded by this action. And from this point, the view advanced by a small handful of “loyal Bushie” lawyers that the techniques themselves are lawful has to be understood as the perspective of of a tiny insular minority within the legal profession, a view which has now been forcefully denounced by the profession as a whole.

I continue to hope that Americans are finally waking up to what this regime has truly done. Soon the American Psychological Association may deliver a similar rebuke. For the full story see:

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Vick offered plea deal recommending at least a year in prison

This just hit the Virginian Pilot's website a short while ago(

Federal prosecutors have offered Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick a plea deal that would recommend he serve at least one year in prison on a felony dogfighting conspiracy charge, according to two sources with knowledge of the discussions.

Vick has until 9 a.m. Friday to accept the offer or potentially face additional charges when a grand jury convenes next week in U.S. District Court in Richmond, one of the sources said. At least two of Vick’s attorneys have been discussing a plea bargain with prosecutors since early this week, the source said.

Two co-defendants are scheduled to appear in court Friday morning where they are expected to enter guilty pleas. Quanis L. Phillips, a friend of Vick’s since middle school and a high school football teammate of his, has a plea agreement hearing set to begin at 9 a.m. Friday. That is to be followed by a plea agreement hearing for a second co-defendant, Purnell A. Peace.

The third co-defendant in the case, Tony Taylor, plead guilty and accepted a plea deal last month. His sentencing is set for Dec. 14.

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Virginia Seizes Assets Of Pair Accused Of Killing Gay Porn Producer

This whole story is so bizarre inasmuch as the two individuals charged for murder (pictured at left) lived in nearby Virginia Beach, operated a local escort service (with which I have no personal experience), and one of them (pictured at far left) was a go-go dancer at some of the local gay bars (again, not the ones I frequent some weekends). Here are highlights from's coverage:
(Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) Two Virginia men who operated a gay porn business and are accused of killing a competitor have surrendered their assets to avoid separate charges of racketeering. Harlow Cuadra, 25, and Joseph Kerekes, 33, are accused of killing gay adult filmmaker Bryan Charles Kocis last January in rural Pennsylvania. When the pair became suspects Virginia Beach police became involved in the investigation and started looking into their business.

The racketeering charges were filed after the murder charges. Court documents show that among the assets seized were thousands of dollars worth of jewelry, plasma TVs, computers and various other home entertainment systems. There also was a Honda Civic, Dodge Viper, Chevrolet Corvette and BMW. In addition the men forfeited $26,000 that was in their business account. The assets are now the property of the State of Virginia. The only thing not taken was their half-million dollar home. Authorities said it was heavily mortgaged.

Cuadra and Kerekes were extradited to Pennsylvania to face the murder charge. (story) The agreement with Virginia prosecutors while the men were behind bars in Pennsylvania. It means they will not be prosecuted on charges of racketeering, conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to receive money from the earnings of prostitution.

The pair are being held without bail on first degree murder charges. Both are represented by legal aid attorneys. The pair say that the racketeering charges were drummed up so that they would have no assets and not be able to afford an attorney. Police say the pair killed Kocis because they viewed him as a rival in the lucrative gay porn market. Kocis was the owner of Cobra Video - one of the country's largest producers of gay adult videos.

I continue to find the situation ironic, since Virginia Beach is for the most part a bastion of the GOP in Virginia and is clearly part of Red America, unlike Norfolk, which was part of the Blue Archipelago in the 2004 election. I suspect the escort business got a lot of business from men in some of Virginia Beach's finest neighborhoods. :)

More Wednesday Male Beauty

Gays Unfit to Serve; Meanwhile, Citizenship for Service

Any reader of this blog knows that I have nothing but contempt for "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Here's another that focuses on the idiocy of the policy: the USA is seeking to recruit non-citizens in order to meet recruiting targets. Sadly, as this story ( illustrates, things do not turn out well for the non-citizens recruited:

When African American enlistment rates dwindled in the early 1980s, military recruiters shifted their attention to a different underprivileged minority with faster growing numbers: Latinos. Lured initially by cash and education incentives, Latinos are now the targets of an aggressive recruiting scheme that pushes teens into uniform with the promises of citizenship, reports Deborah Davis for In These Times.

One of these teens was Jesus Alberto Suarez del Solar [pictured above], whose family was convinced by a Marine recruiter to move from Tijuana to California so that their son could enlist. Davis recounts how Jesus was recruited at the age of 13 while visiting the States and enlisted with parental permission at 17 after immigrating. Once enrolled in high school, Jesus was pressured by Marine recruiters to transfer to a high school with lower academic standards so he could graduate and enlist sooner. During the first week of the Iraq invasion, Jesus was killed at the age of 20.

Jesus was a part of the military's Delayed Entry Program (DEP), which looks to recruit students in high schools and GED programs. According to Davis, the DEP especially pursues Latinos because the military has commissioned a series of studies, including a Youth Attitude Tracking Survey, that "found a correlation... between the low educational achievement of Latinos... and rising enlistment rates." With the help of high-powered marketing firms, Davis reports, the military has long emphasized values such as family, education, and citizenship in order to court Latinos.

Angel Gomez was one of those who wanted to go to college, but like many immigrants, he could not afford tuition and did not qualify for "citizen-only" scholarships. Looking for a way into the medical field, Gomez found the Marine Corp's promises of citizenship and college too enticing to pass up, according to SF Weekly's Mary Spicuzza. "I knew he was fighting for a better life," his mother tells Spicuzza, "but he wanted to study, and we couldn't pay for it." Gomez suffered a severe head injury during a nighttime blast outside Ramadi in 2005. Even though he became a citizen shortly after his injury, his hopes of going to college are all but dashed.

According to Davis, some recruiters go beyond selling education and citizenship in their recruiting tactics. She reports that Salvador Garcia, now a senior at Los Angeles' Garfield High School, was once approached by a recruiter asking if anyone in his family needed immigration papers. "If you need papers," Garcia says he was told, "come and fight for us and we can get you some, and then you'll never have to mess with immigration." Garcia even says that the recruiter offered to help him get his deported father back into the country. "It's not a problem, we can get him his papers and nobody will ever bother him again," Garcia explains. In fact, citizenship is only available to noncitizens who become soldiers, not their families.

Currently, the military boasts roughly 35,000 "green-card" soldiers who enjoy expedited naturalization requests. Many expect that figure to grow as the military continues to founder in its efforts to attract US citizens that meet minimum standards.

I hate to say it, but this trend sounds like something out of Ancient Rome, when Rome had to recruit mercenaries because it did not have enough citizen soldiers. Worse yet, this doesn't even count the gang members and felons now being allowed into the military.

Wednesday Male Beauty

When Staying Alive Means Going Bankrupt, Plus: U.S. Life Expectancy Lags Behind Other Countries

I have posted several times on the health insurance and health care crisis in the USA faced by millions of Americans. This story highlights how it CAN happen to you, even though you have a good job and are anything but a deadbeat. When one of my daughters had a serious illness less than 10 years ago, I experienced first hand what a medical crisis could do to one's savings and finances. Here are portions of this MSNBC story (

In our second Gut Check America vote, readers rated health care as the issue of most concern for them. After a false start in Oregon, we found reader Kathleen Aldrich, a Lompoc, Calif., resident who wrote to us about how her battle with cancer drove her to bankruptcy, even though she had health insurance. Here is her story:

LOMPOC, Calif. - Kathleen Aldrich, financially ruined by two bouts with ovarian cancer, is not who you might assume she is. She raised three kids as a single mom. She worked hard for years. She had good jobs. She paid her bills. She lived in a nice house and drove a nice car. She had a decent credit rating. She had health insurance.

Now she has a record of bankruptcy and is the embodiment of the fear that nags at millions of U.S. families: that they are but one medical calamity away from losing everything. Like Aldrich, they — and perhaps you — could be.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” Aldrich says thoughtfully, sitting in the neat, pale green living room of her tiny stucco duplex in the middle of this mostly middle-class American town. “I don’t see that I did.”

Just turned 50, tall and blond with a quick smile, Aldrich is gratefully in remission for a second time from the ovarian cancer, the No. 5 cancer killer of women. Despite “feeling like a little black cloud follows me around all the time,” she has a lot to live for, from a budding long-distance romance to a precocious 6-year-old granddaughter named Alyssa.

The bankruptcy has quashed all thoughts that she might someday retire. More immediately, it has left her unable to obtain thousands of dollars of work on her teeth, which likely were weakened by the powerful anti-cancer drugs. And it has left deeper wounds of shame and guilt over having to walk away from unpaid bills after a lifetime of responsible living.

Aldrich’s situation is "asinine" but increasingly common, said Dr. Deborah Thorne of Ohio University. Thorne, co-author of a widely quoted 2005 study that found medical bills contributed to nearly half of the 1.5 million personal bankruptcies filed in the U.S. each year, said that ratio has likely worsened since the data was gathered. Bankruptcy in the light of large medical bills is “unfortunately the only choice many people have," she said. "They will never in their lifetimes pay them off. Like Aldrich, Thorne said, three-quarters of the individuals in the study who declared bankruptcy because of health problems were insured.

It’s hard for Aldrich to talk about her situation without strong emotions, and some tears, surfacing. But she does not want to be seen as a pity case. She sees herself as a cautionary tale for average Americans: “It can happen to you.”

As more and more Americans in Chimperator Bush's Amerika find their access to quality medical care reduced by an inability to afford health insurance and/or pay co-pays and stop loss amounts, it is no surprise that while Americans are living longer than ever, they are not living as long as people in 41 other countries as reported by CNN (

For decades, the United States has been slipping in international rankings of life expectancy, as other countries improve health care, nutrition and lifestyles. Countries that surpass the U.S. include Japan and most of Europe, as well as Jordan and the Cayman Islands.

"Something's wrong here when one of the richest countries in the world, the one that spends the most on health care, is not able to keep up with other countries," said Dr. Christopher Murray, head of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

A baby born in the United States in 2004 will live an average of 77.9 years. That life expectancy ranks 42nd, down from 11th two decades earlier, according to international numbers provided by the Census Bureau and domestic numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Researchers said several factors have contributed to the United States falling behind other industrialized nations. A major one is that 45 million Americans lack health insurance, while Canada and many European countries have universal health care, they say.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Final Tuesday Male Beauty

Pew poll: most disliked institution - the GOP

After six years of George Bush, right-wing control of Congress, neoconservative dominance, endless liberty-infringement and lawbreaking at home, and the Iraq War, what is the most disliked institution in America? According to the new Pew Poll (see chart above). Notably, there is an erosion in the favorability of virtually every political and media institution in the United States, but the Republican Party is at the very bottom -- lower than the press, the judges, the liberals, the Congress and all of its other Evil bogeymen. Yet the Democrats continue to give them whatever they want, dreadfully fearful of their great power and popularity. The Dems need to get a backbone and stand up to these bullies.

More Tuesday Male Beauty

Breaking Puppet Strings

In a relationship, when one partner tries to treat the other partner like a puppet on strings, in my view, control not true love, seems to be the underlying basis for the relationship. Certainly, I believe it is the underlying motivation from the perspective of the controlling party. Whether this need to control arises from fear, jealousy, insecurity or some other emotion, the relationship cannot survive unless the other partner simply surrenders and allows them self to be controlled.

If one truly loves another, they will love that person for who they are and seek to see that person grow and prosper. This is so even if this process decreases the lover’s extent to which they can control the other. The need to possess and control another person, whether in terms of who they are free to socialize with, what they are supposed to think and feel, or some other manifestation, is not a loving emotion under this analysis. Particularly, if the methods of attempted control involve alternating threats against the supposed beloved (perhaps including violence) and efforts to provoke pity and sorrow for the manipulating party. Any means to keep the dominated party from leaving.

Faced with this reality, if the would be controlling party shows an absolute unwillingness to change the relationship pattern, I believe the other partner has basically two choices: (1) surrender their soul and stay in the relationship, or (2) leave the relationship. Neither choice is necessarily easy. The first may result in the surrender of any real chance at fulfillment. The latter may likewise be the more difficult if the party leaving the relationship recognizes that the other partner, notwithstanding the failure of the relationship dynamics to be healthy, if he recognizes that the other party does have good qualities. If I am missing something, please illuminate me with your thoughts.

Tuesday Male Beauty

When Relationships End Violently

I usually do not post in the morning, but I was awake several times during the night thinking and pondering about relationships that end and why some people cannot accept that for whatever reasons, the relationship is over and that it is time to move on. This is particularly true where things have deteriorated to a point where one member of the couple has been physically violent to the other individual. In my view, NOTHING ever gives one the right to hit another person and once the first physical blow has been received, the relationship by definition has moved to a point where salvaging it is in all likelihood hopeless. At least if the goal of the parties is a truly loving and mutually respectful relationship. The fact is that remaining in the relationship is potentially dangerous for the party who has been attacked physically. A former neighbor of mine, in fact, found herself in the emergency room one night due to her fear/failure to end an abusive relationship with her husband.

Nonetheless, there are some aggressive members of relationships who want to point blame at the party who has been assaulted. They refuse to take responsibility for their conduct and to accept the fact that THEY are the one who in effect ended the relationship with that first blow. Even more incredibly to me, some abusers think themselves the victim when the party that they have physically abused cannot resume the relationship due to fear and concerns of future physical harm. The abused party should not have to bring assault charges or seek protective orders so that they can go on with their life. Nor should they have to receive abusive communications, fear being stalked, find themselves being impersonated online by the abuser, or any number of others actions the unrelenting party may undertake in their attempt to continue to possess and control their victim. Sadly, some abusers apparently leave their victims with no option but to initiate criminal charges.

I do not understand the mindset. It is one thing to pine over the loss of a lover. Most of us have had such an experience at some point in our lives. It is something totally different to threaten and intimidate the supposed beloved to try to force him/her to return to the relationship which, in fact, has already ended due to the physical violence. All the aggressor accomplishes is to push the supposed beloved farther and farther away to a point where even friendship will be impossible in the future. Total possession and control of another is not love under any definition.

Monday, August 13, 2007

More Monday Male Beauty

Attorney: Florida State Rep. Allen Won't Resign in Sex Case

Rep. Bob Allen insists he's innocent of solicitation and says an undercover officer in the park did the asking. Actually, I am glad he refuses to resign - the longer he hangs on the more news coverage on his trolling for gay sex and the more focus on the hypocrisy of these GOP closet cases. Here are portion of the Orlando Sentinel story (,0,1413209.story):
TITUSVILLE - Embattled state Rep. Bob Allen, who has been vilified by computer bloggers and lampooned on late-night talk shows since his arrest on a charge of soliciting prostitution, is not a criminal or a racist and has no plans to resign, his attorney said Wednesday."Based on the police officer's own report, this case should be dismissed," said attorney Greg Eisenmenger, adding that he would file a motion for dismissal. "The officer did all the soliciting."Allen's arrest July 11 outside a bathroom in a public park made headlines, but the release days later of his taped statement to police and other documents created a furor. Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio said in a statement Wednesday that Allen's remarks were "disturbing."

Allen, R-Merritt Island, told investigators he was just playing along when the undercover Titusville officer suggested oral sex and $20 because he was intimidated by the "stocky black guy," according to the statement.Allen, who is white, also said that there "was nothing but other black guys around in the park" and that he thought he was about to be robbed. At the time, Allen was unaware the other men also were undercover officers.

Allen and the undercover officer left the bathroom after the legislator suggested they find a quiet place. On the way out, Allen asked whether the officer was a cop, and he replied, "Nah, if I was a cop, why would I be hanging around here?" the report states.The two were walking to Allen's car, which had been left in a no-parking zone, when the officer showed his badge and arrested the lawmaker. Allen is set to be arraigned Aug. 23 in Titusville.

This guy is a complete idiot.

More Monday Male Beauty

Italy: Politician Calls for Ethnic Cleansing of Gays

Obviously, the USA and its politicians do not have a monopoly among developed countries in bashing gays. Bigotry and hate know no boundaries. I never cease to be amazed how these self-righteous jerks somehow think they have the right deprive other citizens of basic rights or treat them as somehow less than human. Here are some highlights from

(Rome) A call by the deputy mayor of Treviso for the ethnic cleansing of gays from the region, in the north of Italy, has sparked a mass demonstration. Nearly a thousand people turned out in front of the city hall on the weekend to demand the resignation of Giancarlo Gentilini. Last week the rightwing politician told a local television station that he would order police to put an end to gay cruising which he claimed was out of control.

"I will immediately give orders to my forces so that they can carry out an ethnic cleansing of faggots," Gentilini told the station in an interview. "The faggots must go to other [places] where they are welcome. Here in Treviso there is no chance for faggots or the like." The politician's remarks brought back memories of the Mussolini dictatorship where Jews, gays and other minorities were rounded up and sent to concentration camps - mostly in Axis-controlled countries where many died during World War Two.

I would also note that per John Aravosis (, the term that Gentilini was using is not faggots:

I speak Italian, and the word the Italian politician is using is not "faggot," it's "ass-f*cker." Oh, and the only reason I'm using the little star is because a few Internet filters have classified us as an adult site, read: porn - hoping to avoid that in the future.

Rove, Architect Of Bush Anti-Gay Measures, Resigns White House

Sadly, Mr. Rove's resignation comes some seven years too late. I guess better late than never, but this man has been the architect of so much slime and dirty politics that I find him amoral at best. He has consistently demonstrated that no lie or subterfuge is too great if he thinks it will help foster his political agenda. Gays have been particularly targeted by this porcine hate monger. The irony, of course, is that his goal was to make the GOP the permanent majority party and now, if things continue to play out badly in Iraq, in the US credit and mortgage markets, etc., Rove and the Chimperator may instead make the GOP the permanent minority party. I continue to hope that the Democrats do not manage to somehow snatch defeat from what should be a victory in 2008. In my view, nothing short of a political massacre of the GOP will lead to the permanent discrediting of Rove/Bush and the politics of hate and division that have been their hallmark. Here's some highlights from's story that looks at Rove as well as some of the sleaze bag members of the GOP he was in league with:

(Washington) Karl Rove, President Bush's chief political strategist and the man regarded as the architect of the use of LGBT civil rights as a wedge issue in campaigns, plans to leave the White House at the end of August. Rove is a personal friend of Bush's and has been at his side for most of the president's political life. He is said to have been a master of political intrigue and dirty tricks.

A criminal investigation put Rove under scrutiny for months during the investigation into the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's name. But he was never charged with any crime. He is reported to have first begun running anti-gay attacks for the Bush gubernatorial campaign in Texas during the mid-1990s.

During the 2004 presidential campaign, it was Rove who closely coordinated White House meetings with two leading anti-gay advocates - the Family Research Council and Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family on issues including a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

In the summer of 2004, Ohio Secretary of State Kenneth Blackwell, a Republican, told reporters that the White House was encouraging Republicans in the state to support an anti-marriage amendment to the Ohio state constitution. According to Blackwell, White House political aides, including Rove, argued that supporting such amendments would benefit turnout for the Republican ticket.

Karl Rove was an architect of a political strategy that has left the country more divided, the special interests more powerful, and the American people more shut out from their government than any time in memory," said Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

"Mr. Roves apparent attempts to manipulate elections and push out prosecutors citing bogus claims of voter fraud shows corruption of federal law enforcement for partisan political purposes, and the Senate Judiciary Committee will continue its investigation into this serious issue," said Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Senate Judiciary Committee chairman.

Again, I say good riddance!

Monday Male Beauty

Another Vick co-defendant may turn witness against him

Things are definitely not looking good for local Surry County resident Michael Vick who has been charged with creating a dogfighting operation called "Bad Newz Kennels" in 2001, gambling on fights and setting up matches with owners from several other states. The men executed dogs that lost or performed poorly, and ran their operation out of a rural Surry County property that Vick owned, the federal indictment alleged. The Virginian Pilot is reporting this evening as follows:

Another co-defendant in the Michael Vick dogfighting case has scheduled a plea agreement hearing, an indication that he is ready to plead guilty and testify against Vick. Quanis L. Phillips has a hearing set for 9 a.m. Friday in U.S. District Court in Richmond, before District Judge Henry E. Hudson.

Tony Taylor accepted a deal and entered a guilty plea two weeks ago to the felony charge. The agreement required him to testify honestly against the remaining defendants: Vick, Phillips and Purnell Peace.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Final Sunday Male Beauty

A Public Viewing for A Virginia Pioneer of Civil Rights

It is ironic that Virginia is honoring Oliver Hill (at center in the picture at left) for the civil rights work he did to end racial segregation. You see, Virginia was one of the states that in areas opted for "massive resistance" in response to the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education and literally closed the public schools rather than have blacks and whites attend the same schools. It is also ironic, in my view, because in the area of LGBT rights, Virginia is again following the massive resistance approach - e.g., a "marriage amendment" was passed last November and other anti-gay legislation was enacted before that - instead of one that provides equal rights to all citizens. Here's a portion of the Washington Post story (

RICHMOND, Aug. 11 -- Hundreds gathered at Virginia's Executive Mansion on Saturday to pay homage to Oliver Hill, the civil rights lawyer at the forefront of the court battle that outlawed America's segregated public schools. Dignitaries, citizens and Hill's family members filed into the governor's home to view Hill's body, which lay in repose in a sun-splashed room adorned with bright orange flowers. Hill died last Sunday at age 100.

"I really think this was kind of a validation of all that he'd done in his life," said Hill's son, Oliver Hill Jr., as he stood among a crowd of mourners. "It just lets us know how many people he touched, both black and white -- and he really was instrumental in transforming the commonwealth." An inscription on the inner lid of Hill's casket read, "May the work I've done speak for me."

In 1954, Hill was part of a series of lawsuits against racially segregated public schools that became the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision, which changed America's society by setting the foundation for integrated education.

"This is a changed commonwealth because of Mr. Hill," [Governor] Kaine said. "There are some things that we will never go back to because he helped break some old traditions that needed to be broken."

Needles to say, to many people in Virginia during the 1950's and 1960's, Oliver Hill was a hated and despised figure. Not coincidentally, many of those who hated Hill (and/or their religious and political successors) today hate gays.

More Sunday Male Beauty


I had a conversation today with a dear friend who is in the depth of depression and was talking semi-suicidal. Not anything immediate, but still disturbing. Later, I saw a post on Real Euphoria that talked about the issue of suicide ( As one who has had near encounters with suicide, I believe Euphoric is correct in saying that suicide seems to be the answer to two things: A feeling of hopelessness and/or an uncontrollable need to stop the pain. Those were certainly what I was feeling at the time, particularly the latter.

In retrospect, I know I was not thinking clearly and was letting my depression and sense of hopelessness take control. I also was failing to live in the present and was totally stressing myself out about things that in the final analysis did not matter. Sometimes we let social constructs and our conditioning patterns dictate who we are instead of valuing our own uniqueness and talents. My friend is an amazingly good hearted person, but sadly lets his difficult past blind him to the opportunities the future can hold.
I hope my friend will realize that someone does love him and that someone does want to be with him and someone is always willing to help him.

The other thing that struck me in Euphoric's post was this statistic: A recent Australian study found that gay-identified young men (aged 18 - 24) were 3.7 times more likely to attempt suicide. In the U.S it is up to 14 times more likely. This certainly speaks to how screwed up the USA is and what the message of hate put out so frequently by the Christianists and false Christians can do to young males.

A website with many links to information can be found here:

Pastor Accused of Dragging Girl Behind His Van

This is another case of fundie whack jobs getting around state regulation by way of being "religious" organizations. I truly, think some of these people are the ones who need to be locked up/disciplined. In my view, any organization receiving public money needs to be regulated and investigated before the first dollar is received. Here are highlights from the Houston Chronicle story:

A San Antonio pastor and an employee of his Christian boot camp were arrested Friday on aggravated assault charges, accused of dragging a girl behind a van after she failed to keep up during a running exercise. Investigators with the Nueces County Sheriff's Office arrested Charles E. Flowers, 46, shortly before noon at the Faith Outreach Center in northwest San Antonio, said Brad E. Bailey, a spokesman for the Schertz Police Department.
Bailey said boot camp trainer Stephanie Bassitt, 20, was later arrested without incident at her home in Kirby. Flowers and Bassitt each were being held on $100,000 bail at the Nueces County Jail in Corpus Christi. Authorities interviewed on Friday could not say how far the teenager was allegedly dragged. Her mother complained to authorities after boot camp personnel took her daughter to get treated for scrapes and bruises on her stomach, legs and arms.

Flowers, a retired U.S. Air Force instructor, holds the title of commandant of the boot camp he has operated with his wife, Janice, since the mid-1990s, states the camp's Web site. The camp was created to "reinstill the values that have been lost in our society for a couple of generations, values such as discipline, morality, unity and integrity."

Last year, Love Demonstrated Ministries reported private and government contributions totaling $314,673 to operate the boot camp, with nearly 89 percent of the costs, $278,549, going for salaries. Associate pastors at the Faith Outreach Center couldn't be reached for comment Friday. Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, said it "appeared that this operation is probably exempt from our regulation."

Sunday Male Beauty

Bush on Track to Become the Vacation President

More evidence that Chimperator Bush is utterly clueless as to how most Americans live ( Note, that the amount of Bush's vacation time to date calculates to over 13 and 1/2 months of vacation:
On Thursday, Bush left for a weekend in Kennebunkport, Maine, and his family's summer compound, Walker's Point. On Monday, he heads to his Crawford retreat, where he has spent all or part of 418 days of his presidency, according to Mark Knoller, a CBS News White House correspondent and meticulous record-keeper.

The presidential vacation-time record holder is the late Ronald Reagan, who tallied 436 days in his two terms. At 418 days, and with 17 months to go in his presidency, Bush is going to beat that easily. Still, all this governmental time off is more than most Americans are taking. A recent survey by Yahoo Hot Jobs found nearly half of American workers did not take all of their vacation days last year.