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News and notes — Blogger adrift edition

Blogger is allegedly back, according to John at AB, but I’m not taking any chances.

Since creating posts was a misery-inducing experience while Blogger was down, I’m doing a roundup of news, notes and commentary in one post.

* Laurel Hester passed away today. Juan Melli @ let me know about this.

Laurel Hester, partner of Stacie Andree, and described as “New Jersey’s Rosa Parks”, passed away this morning at their home in Point Pleasant. Although I never met Laurel, I will remember her for her unselfish, relentless courage – from her 24-year career in the county prosecutor’s office through the most physically and emotionally painful last year of her life. Laurel always fought for justice and her bravery inspired countless others to join in that fight. Without a doubt, Laurel left the world a better and more just place than she found it.

And from Michael Jensen at The Big Gay Picture, who interviewed Laurel during the height of her battle with the NJ Freeholders who tried to deny her the ability to leave her pension to her partner.

I know how many of you have followed Laurel and Stacie’s struggle with the freeholder’s of Ocean County, NJ. Your thoughts, prayers, and support for both Laurel and Stacie touched them both deeply. I’ve little doubt Laurel lived as long as she did not only because she had something to fight for, but because she believed she was fighting for every one of us. Her passing is a terrible loss, but know that Laurel died content having finished her life the way she had always lived it–doing the right thing in the most honorable and ethical way possible.

* Laurel Hester stands tall
* Outrage: NJ Freeholders turn down Laurel Hester’s plea for partner benefits
* Laurel Hester will be able to leave pension benefit to partner


* Surf over to the Pensito Review to read about more fishy trigger-finger Cheney goings-on.

On Countdown Friday night, Keith Olbermann interviewed Texas defense attorney Charles Parnham who finally said what everyone watching the coverage of Vice President Dick Cheney’s hunting accident has been thinking.

Cheney acted like he was covering up crime after he shot Harry Whittington last week – not calling local authorities in investigate, not notifying the press, etc. – because he was. Parnham suggested that people who cause accidents because they were behaving imprudently were charged with criminal negligence every day. Even in Texas.

…If you look at the sequence of events after the shooting, every action taken or avoided by the vice president, his hostess Katherine Armstrong and the hunting party appears to have been part of a deliberate effort to avoid scrutiny.

* While on the Cheney matter, Jesus’ General writes a kick-ass letter to Arlen Specter about the “magic BB theory” in the shooting. You will be rolling on the floor while reading this one.

* Gee, we’ve been paying a lot of attention to Darth’s target practicing skills, but there are a lot of things that happened that didn’t get the MSM attention they deserved, says my friend Chris Kromm at Facing South. Chris: “Cheney’s misfire makes for a good laugh, but liberals haven’t been doing themselves any favors by taking it too far. It’s also pulling them way off message for the headlines that REALLY needed hammering over the past week.” Here are a couple that he points to:

ITEM:U.S. Has Royalty Plan to Give Windfall to Oil Companies: “The federal government is on the verge of one of the biggest giveaways of oil and gas in American history, worth an estimated $7 billion over five years.” (NY Times, 2/13)

ITEM: The House committee’s report on Katrina is now available — all 379 pages (pdf) and 141 appendices (pdf) — conluding the Katrina response was disasterously “late, uncertain and ineffective.” Why does Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff still have a job and why isn’t everyone demanding he step down for such failures?


* Whipping your son with a belt enough to hospitalize him is not a crime. At least not according to the judge in Cincinnati City Councilman Sam Malone‘s case.

“I don’t agree with what you did that day,” Mock said. “I can’t imagine placing a belt on any one of my children. But how you raise your son, sir, is your business. “My job as a judge is to follow the law, even when I don’t necessarily agree with it, so as a matter of law, the court is going to make a finding of not guilty.” The verdict outraged one corporal-punishment critic, who said state laws are too lax.

“Our laws don’t protect children,” said Nadine Block, executive director of the Center for Effective Discipline.

You might recall my earlier post on this case, where Republican Malone told his son as he beat him that he just wanted to “whip the black off of” his son. (Hat tip, Holly)


* Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America Political Action Committee (IAVA PAC) has launched a blog, The Daily Vet. According to the press release, The Daily Vet will provide news and commentary related to war and Veterans’ issues, and track the progress of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans running for Congress. Featured on the site today is this picture and caption:

Rep. Beauperez (CO) Draft dodger in uniform


Scott @ Media Orchard passed along “The Top 10 Moments in Public Honesty,” covering the last 12 months. I don’t agree with some of
the picks (John McCain on any list at this point makes me squirm); it’s too bad that there aren’t enough of those moments to make it truly competitive.


* The Blend Cafe Press store is open. I haven’t had time to customize its look yet, but it’s live.


A Missouri court just ruled to overturn a ban on lesbians who want to become foster parents, good news that Diane at In This Moment emailed me yesterday.

A Jackson County Circuit Court judge today overturned a Missouri Department of Social Services decision denying a woman’s application to become a foster parent because she is a lesbian. The American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the applicant, Lisa Johnston, in challenging the denial, hailed the ruling as an important move towards increasing the pool of qualified foster parents for the nearly 2,000 children in Missouri who need foster homes.

“We’re really relieved that the court has recognized that banning lesbian and gay people from being foster parents is bad for Missouri’s foster children,” said Johnston, who along with her partner Dawn Roginski had hoped to foster a special-needs child before her application was denied. “We were saddened when we found out that our loving each other was the only reason the state had for denying us the opportunity to give a child a home.”

Today’s decision is in line with the beliefs of 58 percent of Missouri citizens, according to a recent poll on their feelings about gay parents.


* In the Bad Timing department: former Clintonista and current University of Miami President Donna Shalala has a profile up at the NYT that hits the wrong note while she is denying health insurance to the low-wage janitors who clean the university. Anders Scheiderman of SEIU International noted in an email:

Now, it appears that the Miami janitors are about to vote to strike. Making this NYT mag “profile” truly poor form. So just as Shalala confesses in an almost satirical interview by Edward Lewine she can’t do without the help making her bed every morning, U of Miami janitor Maritza Paz can’t even clear seven bucks an hour and is staggering under the burden of trying to pay off her $33,000 medical bills for two life-saving operations.

The interview also includes references to her new 29-foot motorboat, French antique furniture and, well, more unfortunate things that wage-slaves at the university can’t relate to.

Speaking of low-wage workers and fairness, former VP candidate/NC Senator John Edwards is touring the country on behalf of hotel workers and their struggle to move out of poverty by obtaining better wages and benefits through unionization. The site with information is “Hotel Workers Rising.” Actor and director Danny Glover joined him for the tour legs this week in S.F., L.A., Chicago, and today in Boston.


* No Pride in Los Altos, California. (hat tip, Fritz). The Los Altos City Council changed its rules this week, banning proclamations about sexual orientation.

Mayor Ron Packard said the change spares the city council from “issuing proclamations on issues I consider divisive and not appropriate for our community.”

…The Bay Area is sweepingly thought of as gay-friendly, but attitudes vary greatly across cities, and even streets. San Francisco and San Jose host parades, Oakland changes Lake Merritt’s lights from white to pink every summer, and Mountain View declares a gay pride month. A decade ago, Palo Alto became the first city in Silicon Valley to offer registration for domestic partners.

Yet officials in Menlo Park, Santa Clara and Cupertino say they can’t recall a gay pride day in their cities’ history.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding