CommunityPam's House Blend

This and that in the mailbag

A few items that came to me from House Blenders…

* Gary passed along this link of good news: Same-sex civil unions bill OK’d by Ore. Senate. (KGW Video here, registration required).

In a historic vote Friday, Oregon state senators passed legislation to allow same-sex civil unions. The vote at the state capitol in Salem was 19-10 in favor of the measure. Senate Bill 1000 would create civil unions and prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation in housing, employment, public accommodations and public services.

Gary also notes, that in an OregonLive article, the measure will likely have trouble in the House:

Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski supports the civil union bill.

Chuck Deister, spokesman for House Speaker Karen Minnis, said there are no plans to bring the bill to a vote in that chamber. The measure has the support of Democratic Gov. Ted Kulongoski. After the Senate vote, Kulongoski drew cheers and applause from dozens of gays and lesbians who traveled to the Capitol to listen to Friday’s Senate debate. Kulongoski, at an appearance with Senate sponsors of the bill, called on the crowd to lobby the House Republican leaders to allow a vote on the issue. “The House has to deliver this bill,” Kulongoski said. “Let’s go and tell the House, `we want this bill before we go home.'”

* Nancy Goldstein has a roundup of noted folks to see who they would nominate for an “American Patriot Award“. Among the respondents:
– J. Richard Cohen (President, Southern Poverty Law Center)
– Marjorie Hill, PhD (Director of the Women’s Institute at Gay Men’s Health Crisis)
– Irvin Kershner (Director, “The Empire Strikes Back”)
– Jennifer Gonnerman (journalist for the Village Voice, and author of “Life on the Outside,” a finalist for this year’s National Book Award)
– Hillary and Julie Goodridge (lead plaintiffs in Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health, the ground-breaking case that established the right of same-sex couples to marry in Massachusetts)
– Dr. Paul Farmer, Cofounder of Partners in Health (PIH)
– Carmen Vazquez, Deputy Executive Director of the Empire State Pride Agenda
– Steve Gerber (creator of “Howard the Duck”)
– Malika Saada Saar, JD (Executive Director of The Rebecca Project for Human Rights)
– Michael Musto (journalist for the Village Voice)
– Todd Hanson (editor for “The Onion”)

* JC in AR asks, “I was just on Dell’s website checking out home pcs and they have a “no sissies allowed” ad–my first impression was to be really pissed since I am sitting here at a Dell computer. Am I being too sensitive or what???”

Well, we report, you decide. I guess I don’t know that if I came across this ad when surfing I would have taken offense; the statement seems to imply that you can’t be a hot gamer if you’re effeminate (or, perhaps in the world of computer geekdom, you’re a wuss) if you don’t have a speed demon computer for the latest release of Halo. Maybe they should have used wimp.

* Holly points to Two Black Churches Burn in Tennessee Arson. This occurred in Sparta, a town of 5,000 people (about 75 miles southeast of Nashville). The story says about 5 percent of its residents are black, though the locals seem to think there is no racial motive.

Seven arson fires broke out Friday in a neighborhood in this small Tennessee town, inflicting heavy damage on two black churches and burning five vacant houses, authorities said….Sparta police detective Allen Selby said there was no evidence to suggest the arsons were part of a racist hate crime, but authorities were not ruling out anything. “I think as far as the total community is concerned, I don’t see any racial implications to it,” Pedigo said. “We’re searching all avenues we can. We want to find the answer to this as soon as possible.”

The FBI was called in because federal law covers church arson, authorities said. Authorities have interviewed 17 people and two of those interviews were conducted at the county jail, but Selby said there were no suspects.

* And last, but certainly not least, Chris over at Facing South posted on the mind-blowing cashflow machine known as Halliburton — “I’m not sure which is more dubious: that Halliburton has received another $5 billion contract for logistics support in Iraq, despite being under multiple investigations for fraud, overcharges and abuse — or that the Army didn’t feel moved to mention their latest deal with the scandal-ridden contractor”:

Linda Theis, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Field Support Command in Rock Island, Ill., said the military signed the work order with Halliburton unit KBR in May.

The new deal, worth $4.97 billion over the next year, was not made public when it was signed because the Army did not consider it necessary, she said.

“We did not announce this task order as this is really not something we ever really thought about doing,” Theis said.

Halliburton, run by Vice President Dick Cheney from 1995 to 2000, has been under scrutiny for its contracts in Iraq, and several U.S. government agencies are looking into whether it overcharged for some work.

In March, a former KBR employee and a Kuwaiti citizen were indicted on charges of defrauding the U.S. government of more than $3.5 million by inflating the cost of fuel tankers.

A top U.S. Army procurement official said last week that Halliburton’s deals in Iraq were the worst example of contract abuse she had seen, a claim KBR rejected as “political rhetoric.”

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