news you should know about

newsmongering 07/05

with one comment

> Did I drink a Canadian beer on the Fourth of July? Yes, I did, and I’m not ashamed to say so.

Also, Labatt Blue Light Lime is pretty decent, all things considered.

> One million euros appear to have mysterious disappeared out of an armored truck on a German autobahn: “While the bags could simply have fallen out of the truck, police are not ruling out the possibility they were stolen.” I am not making this up.

> India’s minister of health Ghulam Nabi Azad has sparked a not insignificant uproar in the international community after describing gay sex (by which he appeared to mean gay male sex) as “unnatural” and “a disease which has come from other countries.” Did I mention that this was at a conference on HIV/Aids? Because it was.Homosexuality was decriminalized in India in 2009, but is still broadly stigmatized; a book suggesting that Ghandi might have been gay was banned earlier this year.

Azad also made a comment that I’m having difficulty deciphering: “though it is easy to find women sex workers and educate them on sex, it is a challenge to identify men having sex with men”. I honestly can’t fathom what he’s saying here. Is he comparing female sex workers with gay men? Is he suggesting that gay men only have sex for money? Is he suggesting that there aren’t lesbian sex workers, or just that it’s easier to scare educate the gay away from women? Is he condoning sex work as long as it’s straight sex work? Is he demonstrating the insidiousness of Teh Gay? So many questions!

Re his comment that this awful, horrible, unnatural, Lovecraftian phenomenon must have originated outside his beloved homeland, I’d like to direct your attention to Wikipedia’s article on the history of syphilis:

…syphilis had been called the “French disease” in Italy, Poland and Germany, and the “Italian disease” in France. In addition, the Dutch called it the “Spanish disease”, the Russians called it the “Polish disease”, the Turks called it the “Christian disease” or “Frank disease” (frengi) and the Tahitians called it the “British disease”.

No one ever thinks (or publicly admits) that something undesirable might have originated within their borders (okay, and with syphilis, it didn’t, but the point remains).

> Christopher Hitchens in Slate has several somewhat pointed, elegant questions for the activists of Freedom Flotilla 2. He doesn’t quite call them “damn hippies,” but the sentiment is there.

The little boats cannot make much difference to the welfare of Gaza either way, since the materials being shipped are in such negligible quantity. The chief significance of the enterprise is therefore symbolic. And the symbolism, when examined even cursorily, doesn’t seem too adorable. The intended beneficiary of the stunt is a ruling group with close ties to two of the most retrograde dictatorships in the Middle East, each of which has recently been up to its elbows in the blood of its own civilians.

> Ninety-eight and a half percent of Moroccans have voted in favor of constitutional reforms put forward by King Mohammad IV. The referendum retains the king’s position as head of the military, judiciary, and religious authority, but grants executive powers to the prime minister. The king has also promised to promote “he independence of the judiciary, boost efforts to tackle corruption, guarantee freedom of expression and gender rights and make Berber an official language, alongside Arabic.”

> Archduke Otto von Habsburg, the son of the last emperor of the Austro-Hungarian empire, has died at age 98.

Habsburg used his influence in a vain struggle to keep the Nazis from annexing Austria before World War II, then campaigned for the opening of the Iron Curtain in the decades after the war.

With the fall of the Berlin Wall, he used his seat in European Parliament to lobby for expanding the European Union to include former Eastern bloc nations.

“My father was a towering personality,” Habsburg’s oldest son Karl Habsburg-Lothringen told the Austria Press Agency. “With him we lose a great European who has influenced everything we do today beyond measure.”

> In Belarus, is preparation for the July 3 Independence Day, the government shut down access to Twitter, Facebook, and a Russian Facebook-like site in an effort to hobble potential protestors. Approximately four hundred apparently peaceful protestors were arrested; you can see photos here. Belorussian president Lukashenko has been dubbed “the last dictator in Europe” and famously declared that the March 2011 subway bombing in Minsk that killed thirteen people and wounded over 200 resulted from “too much democracy.”

> The rape case against former IMF chairman Dominique Strauss-Kahn is said to be “near collapse” because the alleged victim might have lied about something unrelated at some point in her life. DSK is innocent until proven guilty; we know this. I wish the same logic could be applied to his accuser.

> Apparently Colombia is having a gold rush? Yeah, I didn’t know, either.

> Salon has a fascinating little piece on the analyst they say was key in putting together the intel that led to the bin Laden assassination. I wonder how much of it is true.

> Foreign Policy has a brief critique of the Obama administration’s counterterrorism strategy document, released on Wednesday.

> The American Christian Right appears to have selected Texas governor and well-known crazypants Rick Perry to be their standard-bearer in 2012. Discussing Perry’s various homophobic and fundamentalist projects, Time notes:

All of this, however, pales beside Perry’s current project–a Christian all-day prayer event called “The Response” on August 6 in Houston. The governor is sponsoring the event along with the American Family Association, which is footing the estimated $1.5 million tab for the gathering. The Response is intended for Christians only, although one spokesman said that if people of other faiths attend, he hopes they will see the light and “seek out the living Christ”for their lives.

I’ve got to dedicate a post to The Response at some point, because that’s just too weird and layered to not poke with a stick.

> So apparently formation skydiving is a sport? Whoa.


Written by whackanarwhal

July 5, 2011 at 11:31 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. […] I reported yesterday that Indian minister of health described gay sex as “unnatural” and a […]

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