Sunday, June 5, 2016

12th anniversary of Ronald Reagan's death

Former President Ronald Reagan died 12 years ago today. Following is the text of every speech and public comment he made as president on the subject of HIV/AIDS during the first four years that the epidemic raged:



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35th anniversary of the first mention of AIDS

Today marks the 35th anniversary of the first mass media mention of the disease that would come to be known as AIDS. The June 5, 1981, edition of the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), published by the Centers for Disease Control, included an article entitled, "Pneumocystis Pneumonia --- Los Angeles".

The article described the onset of Pneumocystis pneumonia among five gay men over an eight-month period at three different hospitals in Los Angeles.

The enormity of the tragedy that would become the global HIV/AIDS epidemic was not understood at the time and consequently was not even hinted at in the article. It would be only a matter of time, however, before it became clear that over one million people in the United States as well as millions more across the planet were infected. The mortality rate approached 100%, with no effective therapies available for years.

Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, June 5, 1981

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Larry Kert, Broadway's original "West Side Story" Tony, passed away 25 years ago today

Larry Kert, the original Tony in Broadway's West Side Story, passed away 25 years ago today of complications from HIV/AIDS.

Kert starred in a number of original Broadway productions, including Cabaret and Company, as well as in the touring companies of several Broadway productions.

The openly gay Kert is best known for having originated the role of romantic lead Tony in the 1957 Broadway production of West Side Story.

The musical, based on Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, was the brainchild of creative team Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Jerome Robbins, and Arthur Laurents. Kert became famous for his passionate delivery of songs "Something's Coming", "Maria", and "Tonight". Carol Lawrence starred opposite Kert as Maria.

Kert was survived by his partner Ron Pullen. Both had tested HIV+ in 1985.

• Larry Kert's New York Times obituary

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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Gay priest? Fired. Priest who points a gun at a kid? Keep your job.

The Vatican has fired a priest who came out as gay and who acknowledged that he has a boyfriend.    Meanwhile, another priest was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and child endangerment after allegedly pointing a gun at an eight-year-old boy -- but he has kept his job.

The gay priest's firing came to light the day before Pope Francis is due to convene a major three-week Vatican meeting on family issues, with hundreds of bishops from around the world participating.

Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa had worked at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 2003, but was removed from that post following his public acknowledgement that he is gay and that he has been in a loving relationship with another man.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which was tasked by prior popes with protecting the church from heresy from within its ranks, is better known by its historical name, the Inquisition.  This is the very same office that oversaw thousands of trials for witchcraft -- among other offenses --ending with over one thousand people being burned at the stake.  The Congregation is also the office that put Galileo Galilei on trial for heresy.

The same day Charasma was fired, New Jersey Catholic priest Kevin Carter was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and child endangerment after allegedly pointing a gun at an eight-year-old boy.  The incident is reported to have happened because the child is a fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the priest is an ardent fan of the New York Giants.  Upon being released, Carter stated that his actions were only "good-natured jesting" over the two teams' rivalry.

Carter thus far has not lost his job.
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Sunday, September 13, 2015

Thirty years ago: John Roberts authored memo advising Reagan not to say AIDS couldn't be transmitted through casual contact

Today is the thirtieth anniversary of a memorandum by White House attorney John Roberts advising that President Ronald Reagan not publicly state that HIV could not be transmitted through casual contact.  Roberts would eventually become Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

In the memo addressed to White House Counsel Fred Fielding, Roberts stated that the matter was a "disputed scientific issue", and he advised that Reagan avoid repeating an earlier briefing memo's talking point that "as far as our best scientists have been able to determine, AIDS virus is not transmitted through casual or routine contact."

On the contrary, Roberts advised that "There is much to commend the view that we should assume AIDS can be transmitted through casual or routine contact, as is true with many viruses, until it is demonstrated that it cannot be, and no scientist has said AIDS definitely cannot be so transmitted."

See here and here.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Kentucky Constitution barely recognizes the duty to uphold the United States Constitution

As Rowan County Recorder Kim Davis is jailed for contempt of court for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in compliance with the United States Supreme Court's Obergefell ruling, it is of note that the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky requires elected officials to swear an oath of office with some rather odd priorities.

Section 228 of Kentucky's Constitution fleetingly requires elected officials to swear to "support" the Constitution of the United States, but then those same officials are required to expend many syllables swearing that they have not dueled in or out of Kentucky, that they have not sent or accepted a challenge to fight in a duel, that they have not served as a second in a duel, and that they have not aided or assisted with a duel.

To "support" the United States Constitution is almost an afterthought in Kentucky, apparently.

Additionally, dueling results in automatic disqualification from office in Kentucky -- unlike violating the United States Constitution, as Davis has done.

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Giffords opponent Kelly said "remove" her with M16

Sarah Palin is not the only politician who targeted Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ-08) with shoot-'em-up imagery. Jesse Kelly, Giffords' Republican Tea Party opponent in last November's general election, did so as well.

Giffords was shot in the head at pointblank range earlier today by an assailant who holds anti-government views similar to those of Palin and Kelly. Seventeen other people were also shot in the brutal assault, and six of those have died.

On his campaign web site's calendar in June 2010, Kelly invited supporters to help "remove Gabrielle Giffords from office Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly" [sic].

Kelly removed all reference to this shocking exhortation from his campaign web site after today's shootings, and he has largely had the site scrubbed of any content. Palin likewise had her infamous crosshairs hit list, which targeted Giffords and 19 other Democratic members of Congress, removed from her PAC's site after the shootings.

Too little, too late in each case.

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