Saturday, June 30, 2007

Potential cure for HIV discovered

In a breakthrough that could potentially lead to a cure for HIV infection, scientists have discovered a way to remove the virus from infected cells, a study released Thursday said. The scientists engineered an enzyme which attacks the DNA of the HIV virus and cuts it out of the infected cell, according to the study in Science.

read more | digg story

Friday, June 29, 2007

Celebrity Friday: Jennifer Hudson and Jennifer Holiday Sing THE SONG Together

Jennifer Hudson and Jennifer Holliday sang "And I Am Telling You I Am Not Going" from Dreamgirls at the BET Awards this week. Check out YouTube for the video.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Washington Post Pits Black Voters vs LGBT Voters

Argggh, in an aticle published on gay pride day, the Washington Post has again pitted African American Democratic voters against LGBT Democratic voters (as if there is no intersection between the two!) as a rationale for leading Presidential candidates' hesitancy to embrace full marriage equality:

Black voters are heavily Democratic, but exit polls in last year's elections found that only 46 percent of African Americans favored allowing same-sex marriage or civil unions, compared with 61 percent of the overall population who did, a figure that included Republicans.

In 2004, aides to Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), the Democratic presidential nominee, were so worried about black voters' feelings about same-sex marriage that they put Bill Clinton on a conference call with 3,000 black pastors so the former president could reassure the pastors that Kerry truly did oppose same-sex marriage.

I found this article because I was reading TPMCafe's Election Central coverage and I saw a phrase ("[T]he core Democratic constituency of black votes has a strong social conservative element — they are 15 points less likely than the general population to support either gay marriage or civil unions.") on this usually progressive blog which reinforced the "Black people are more homophobic than others" meme that Mad Professah and other bloggers have been trying to deconstruct for years.

The pernicious nature of this "Blacks are more homophobic" notion is that it 1) erases the reality of Black LGBT individuals (like myself) and 2) shields Black people who are homophobic from having to fully address the source of their irrationality.

Keith Boykin did a good job of responding forcefully to this meme on BET's "Meet The Faith" last Sunday. He has posted a link to the video online. It's a great discussion.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

CA-37: A Primary Win for Black, LGBT Communities

In the hotly contested special primary election in to fill the congressional seat of Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Carson) in the 37th district Assemblymember Laura Richardson defeated State Senator Jenny Oropeza yesterday by nearly 2000 votes out of almost 30, 000 votes cast, a turnout of a measly 11.14%.

Candidate Votes Percentage
Laura Richardson 11,027 37.76%
Jenny Oropeza 9,144 31.31%
Valerie McDonald 2,743 9.39%

This is a win for both the African American and LGBT communities. Although previously
Mad Professah had described this election as pitting the Queer vs Black vs Latino communities, because the gay-friendly African American candidate (Richardson) won over the homophobic Black candidate (McDonald) the LGBT community gains a gay-friendly congressperson, retains a Latino gay-friendly State Senator (Oropeza, who is a co-sponsor of the marriage equality bill) and punishes the politics of homophobia!

Now, if openly lesbian Gerrie Schipske will run to replace Richardson's seat in the State Assembly, that would be fitting, although an openly LGBT Latino candidate would be even better.

Reason 562 Why 'Color Blindness' Is Wrong

Mad Professah saw this post by Angela Winters at The Moderate Voice blog alerting me to an article in the Washington Post on the success of African American students in Advanced Placement courses in the Washington, D.C. suburbs of Fairfax, VA and Montgomery, MD. I immediately was reminded that if African American conservative Ward Connerly had his way, such race-specific data would not be available.

Connerly was a University of California Regent appointed by Republican Governor Pete Wilson who was the main spokesperson and force behind two racially divisive ballot measures, 1996's Proposition 209 (which eliminated affirmative action by the State of California based on race or sex) and 2003's Proposition 54 (which would have barred the State of California from collecting or using data based on race, color, ethnicity or national origin). The so-called Racial Privacy Act was an extreme manifestation of the conservative principle of "color blindness" which they claim is the best way to heal racial divisions in this country.
Tomorrow, we are likely to see another manifestation of this when the United States Supreme Court rules on two important school racial desegregation cases; most observers expect a 5-4 decision saying that race can not be taken into account even when it is argued that it being used to preserve racial and ethnic diversity.

The Post reviewed AP data from nine of the 10 school systems in the nation with the largest black populations, from New York City, with 115,963 African American students in grades 9 through 12, to Baltimore City, with 22,225. One of the 10, Detroit, declined to provide data. The analysis considered 20 other school systems, all among the 80 largest for black high school populations, that are known for their rigor. The smallest systems studied were Prince William and Anne Arundel, each with about 5,000 black high school students.

The analysis considered the number of passing exams by black students and weighed it against black student enrollment in grades 9 through 12. A score of 3 or higher on the five-point AP scale is considered passing because it is the typical cutoff for credit and advanced standing in college.

Outside the Washington region, no school system analyzed produced more than four passing AP tests for every 100 black high school students -- half the success rate of Montgomery and Fairfax.
Here's a graphic illustrating the results

Today is National HIV Testing Day

Today is National HIV Testing Day and yesterday Lambda Legal Defense and Educatio Fund released a set of fifteen guiding principles which they believe all HIV testing protocols should follow.

1. People living with undiagnosed HIV infection must be reached and offered
2. Any HIV testing program must provide the highest standard of care.
3. Everyone offered testing must be educated about HIV and the significance of positive and negative test results.
4. People who test positive for HIV antibodies must be linked to care.
5. Expanded HIV testing must be carefully planned, implemented and monitored.
6. People with HIV/AIDS and other stakeholders must be included in formulating plans for expanded testing.
7. Patients’ human rights and informed consent are consistent with, and not opposed to, the goal of expanded HIV testing.
8. Expanded HIV testing must be tailored to different clinical settings, populations, and patient needs.
9. Clinicians, medical directors and other providers must
receive training and education in delivering high-quality testing programs.
10. Clinicians, medical directors and other providers must receive training and education in making appropriate service referrals and linkages to care.
11. Community-based HIV prevention interventions must be expanded in
tandem with efforts to expand voluntary HIV testing in healthcare settings.
12. Special attention must be paid to the prevention and care needs of at-risk populations.
13. Expanded testing and the provision of care to all existing and new HIV cases require new and adequate funding. .
14. Testing protocols must address insurance issues.
15. Efforts to assist those with undiagnosed and untreated or unmonitored HIV infection must be evaluated.

Unfortunately, many large AIDS service organizations (like the largest such organization in the world, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation) have been supporting dangerously reckless legislation which purports to expand HIV testing but instead opens up the door to coercive and discriminatory HIV testing in the state of California.

MadProfessah hopes that on National HIV Testing Day these organizations can take a deep breath and spend some time thinking about these issues, guided by the principles articulated

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bush Hits New Low In Newsweek Poll

The Princeton Research Group conducted their regular poll June 21, 2007 for Newsweek magazine and the results are stark:

Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?

Approve Disapprove Don't Know
Current Total     26          65             9
Republicans 60 31 9
Democrats 6 89 5
Independents 23 66 11

As Pam over at The Blend notes, only President Richard Nixon has had a lower approval rating in the modern era (23%) and Bush still has 19 months to go....

Mmmmmm, Tommy!

The Oh La La Paris blog has posted pictures of a nude Tommy Robredo posing for a camera which will be sold to provide funds to support a charity, the Everyman Male Cancer Program to raise awareness of testicular and prostate cancer.

There's more details From

Tommy says in the magazine: "When Cosmo first asked me to get naked, I thought 'No Way!' But when I heard it was for charity I was like 'Okay, it's for a good reason.' "

Tommy worked with a female photographer on the shoot, which was initially scheduled to be held in Spain. But when Tommy accepted a late wild card into Estoril, the Cosmo crew jetted to Portugal.

Hmmm, a bit significant that they had to mention it was a female photographer, eh?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Oropeza Receives Huge Independent Expenditure Boost

The Los Angeles Times reported that the Morongo Indians has independently spent $270, 000 to support the candidacy of State Senator Jenny Oropeza in the hotly contested 37th district Congressional race to replace the recently deceased Juanita Millender-McDonald. This single expenditure is more than the $219, 000 that Oropeza had raised for her own campaign and dwarfs the mere $105, 000 that Richardson had reported raising. The reason why the tribe is supporting Oropeza is that she voted for ratification of Indian gaming compacts that the tribes negotiated with the Governor of California which must be approved (but not modified!) by the State Legislature before they go into effect. Labor is not happy about the level of worker protections in the current version of the compacts since standard federal labor laws do not apply on sovereign tribal ground. Although Oropeza made a campaign promise to oppose the compacts, she voted for them when they cleared the State Senate. The measure is still pending in the Assembly, where Richardson has vowed to vote against ratification. Labor has thus mainly endorsed Richardson in tomorrow's Special Election.

Mad Professah has been blogging about this race for weeks as it pits the Black, Latino and LGBT communities against one another since the district which the candidates are vying to represent (the City of Long Beach and its environs) has a very diverse demographic profile, with significant populations of LGBT, Black and Latino voters.

Sunday's Los Angeles Times carried an op-ed article ("The delicate balance of black and brown") by Harold Meyerson which argues that the racial tensions between Black and Latino voters are actually less than one would expect.

In a city like L.A., one would expect the city's black and Latino political communities to have clashed more frequently than they have. Liberalism may be their common ideology, but the economic interests of the black and Latino working classes have at times come into conflict as the Latino presence in the city grew. For example, Latinos have largely taken the janitorial and hotel jobs that blacks held 25 years ago. In the poorest quadrants of the city, violence between black and Latino gangs rages.

And yet L.A.'s black and Latino political elites have tended to avoid conflict more often than not. In the 2005 mayoral election, for example, both groups largely supported the candidacy of Antonio Villaraigosa. Multiracial coalitions have been, if not the norm, at least frequent in city politics — surprisingly frequent. Generally, as once heavily black parts of the city have become plurality or majority Latino, the elites have worked together to limit the possibility of Latino candidates winning elections in districts historically represented by blacks.
There are rumors on various blogs that Richardson's polling puts her up by 9 points while Oropeza's polling has the races her slightly ahead but within the margin of error of the poll.

Wimbledon 2007: Women's Top 10 Preview

[1] Justine Henin BEL. The 6-time Grand Slam champion (Roland Garros 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2007; Australian Open 2004; U.S. Open 2003) is trying to win her first Grand Slam title in London despite making the final twice (losing to Venus Williams in 2001 and Mauresmo last year). My prediction at Roland Garros was that whomever won the Henin-S. Williams quarterfinal would most likely win the tournament, and I believe the same thing applies on the grass courts of Wimbledon. So does Jon Wertheim, calling the Henin-Williams Wimbledon quarterfinal the "de facto final." Serena didn't show up for that Paris showdown, however it is very unlikely these two steely competitors will have two "dud" matches in a row. This time the American will prevail. Quarterfinalist.

[2] Maria Sharapova RUS. Sharapova has salvaged her annus horribilis by making her first Roland Garros semifinal by winning a match that Patty Schnyder refused to win. As the site of her first major breakthrough, Sharapova is comfortable on the green stuff, but there's no question her serve and strokes are not as powerful as the 17-year old who stunned Serena Williams in 2004. This time it is likely that the woman who took out the defending champion in 2005 on her way to winning a 3rd Wimbledon title will bounce Sharapova from the tournament: Venus Williams in the 4th round. Fourth Round.

[3] Jelena Jankovic SRB.
Many, many tennis watchers think Jelena simply plays too much tennis! But, hey, if she hates to practice and it works for her I say keep on doing what ya been doin'. She has the game and the confidence to go very far in this tournament. However, if she really doesn't get past people like Lucie Safarova or Shahar Pe'er like others have predicted then she should take a month off competitive tennis before getting back on the grind for the U.S. Open Series. Yeah, right. Semi-Finalist.

[4] Amelie Mauresmo FRA. I saw this year's Eastbourne Final and many observers are reading too much into Henin's 3rd set tiebreak win (despite Mauresmo serving for the match at 5-4). Since Mauresmo hasn't played that much tennis this year due to her appendix removal, I think it was incredibly important that she show Henin that she could hang with her on grass, and the Frenchwoman did that, for three sets of very close, beautiful grass court tennis. The defending champion also had a beautiful draw. I believe that Eastbourne result is more helpful to Mauresmo's chances than Henin's. We'll see. Semifinalist or Finalist.

[5] Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS. The "most talented of the Russians" is unfortunately also the most mentally fragile. She has the game to win this title and I would be shocked if she doesn't do exactly that within the next 5 years. However, 2007 will not be her year. Quarterfinalist or earlier.

[6] Ana Ivanovic SRB. The pulchritudinous Serb teen is having a fabulous 2007, making her first Grand Slam final last month in Paris and winning her second Tier 1 title a few weeks before that in Berlin. She has an all-court game and should be able to get deep in the draw but I doubt she will live up to her seeding and make the quarterfinal with Mauresmso. Fourth round or earlier.

[7] Serena Williams USA. As usual, the Williamses have to do things their own way. No grass court preparation prior to Wimbledon? We'll just play doubles instead! A chance at seeing Venus and Serena Williams on the court together will at the very least provide a compelling reason for people to shell out for Wimbledon's online streaming video coverage. Serena Williams hates to lose and I am sure that she has been thinking about that quarterfinal loss to Henin in Paris every single day as a motivator for off the court training. We'll see the results during the beginning of the second week when Wimbledon schedules all four Ladies' quarterfinals on the same day. And this time the Real Serena Williams will show up. Quarterfinalist or Champion.

[8] Anna Chakvetadze RUS. Four titles from her first four Sony Ericsson WTA Tour final apperances is impressive and I like this Russian's chances against anyone whose last name is not -Ova or Williams. Maybe we should start adding "-vic" to that list. I don't like Anna's chances of getting past Jankovic in the quarters if she does manage to get past a wily Hingis in the 4th round (which is doubtful). Fourth Round or Quarterfinalist.

[9] Martina Hingis SUI. "Chucky" has been winning titles at Wimbledon since she was a tween. She knows how to play on grass and she's wily enough to win a lot of matches she should lose. However, she can be overpowered and it is likely Jelena Jankovic, Anna Chakvetadze or even Sybille Bammer can take her out. Quarterfinalist or earlier.

[10] Daniela Hantuchova SVK. Congratulations to Daniela for making a return to the Top 10 after an inauspiciously long absence. She even won another title (her second!) at the Pacific Life Open this year. She clearly has been working hard and it shows. Unfortunately, she's in Serena Williams quarter of the draw and I don't like Hantuchova's chances against a Serena who has just come off wins against Samantha Stosur and Anastasia Rodionova. 4th Round.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Black Celebrities Take HIV Tests To Publicize National HIV Testing Day

Jimmy Jean-Louis from HEROES Jimmy Jean-Louis

The Black AIDS Institute has hit upon a media savvy way to draw attention to the AIDS epidemic in Black America on National HIV Testing Day (Monday June 25th): have Black celebrities and their allies take HIV tests at a public press conference and call for 1 million African Americans to get tested by December 1, 2008. According to the press release from BAI:
Those who plan to attend and publicly take an HIV test at the press conference include: Jimmy Jean-Louis (“Heroes”), Regina King (“Ray,” “Jerry McGuire,” “24”), Hill Harper (“CSI New York”), Rockmond Dunbar (“Prison Break,” “Heartland”), Meagan Tandy (Miss California USA 2007), Vanessa Williams (“Soul Food”), Sheryl Lee Ralph (“ER,” Original “Dreamgirls” on Broadway), Hosea Chanchez (“The Game”), Angie Stone (recording artist), Anne-Marie Johnson (“CSI,” “JAG”), Darius McCrary (“Transformers,” “Family Matters”), Sandi McCree (“The Wire”), Ovie Mughelli (Atlanta Falcons), Isaac Keys (Arizona Cardinals); Henry Simmons (“Shark”), Tatyana Ali (“The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”), Samaki Walker, Rob Sommers and Deandre Walker (NBA), Jennifer Lewis (“Shark,” “Girlfriends”), Alexandra Paul (“Baywatch”), Vida Guerra, Earl Cole (Winner, “Survivor: Fiji”); Howard Hesseman (“Boston Legal,” “WKRP in Cincinnati”), Beverly White (NBC reporter). Author/journalist Gil Robertson will sign copies of his book Not in My Family: AIDS in the African-American Community.

This public action is part of a Black AIDS Mobilization sponsored by a host of non-profit organizations such as Black AIDS Institute, The Balm in Gilead, the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS and others to end the AIDS epidemic in Black America by 2012 by:

  • Cutting HIV rates in Black America by 50%
  • Increasing the number of Black Americans who know their HIV status by 50
  • Increasing the number of Black Americans in appropriate early care/treatment by 50%
  • Reducing HIV/AIDS stigma In Black America by 50%
Go ahead, BAM!

Darth Cheney Attempts To Alter Federal Government Structure

I grabbed the above picture from Firedoglake, the very cool progressive blog which has been rivalling as the center of the libral blogosphere.

The picture refers to the story that broke this week that Vice President Dick "Darth" Cheney has been making the claim that his office is not a member of the Executive Branch of the Federeal Government, because the Vice President of the United States also serves as President of the Unites States Senate, and the Senate is a member of the Legislative Branch.

Most scholars, bloggers and other observers have responded to the Vice President's claim with disbelief, surprise and humor. It should be noted that Vice President Cheney previously won a United States Supreme Court ruling declaring that he could assert "executive privilege" in defying a subpoena to present documents on the membership of a White House Task Force on Energy convened by the Vice President in Bush's first term.

However, Congressman Rahm Emmanuel has had the best idea of how to respond to Cheney's claim that he is (and is not) "an entity of the Executive Branch": use Congress' power to remove funding to the Office of the Vice President until Cheney declares which branch of government he belongs to. If he's not in the Executive Branch, he shouldn't receive its funds.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Celebrity Friday: Isaiah Washington Speaks To Keith

Keith Boykin has an exclusive interview with Isaiah Washington (formerly Dr. Preston Burke on Grey's Anatomy) at his blog which is must-reading for anyone who has been following the ongoing drama (and I dont mean the television show!) for the last 9 months or so....

California Supreme Court Asks For Additional Info In Marriage Case

The California Supreme Court is currently considering a number of combined cases which will decide the constitutionality of same-sex marriage under California law definitively. Yesterday, the Court issued an unusual order in which it asked both sides to answer a number of questions in written briefs by July 18th. The questions the court asked were:
1. What differences in legal rights or benefits and legal obligations or duties exist under current California law affecting those couples who are registered domestic partners as compared to those couples who are legally married spouses? Please list all of the current differences of which you are aware.

2. What, if any, are the minimum, constitutionally-guaranteed substantive attributes or rights that are embodied within the fundamental constitutional "right to marry" that is referred to in cases such as Perez v. Sharp (1948) 32 Cal.2d 711, 713-714? In other words, what set of substantive rights and/or obligations, if any, does a married couple possess that, because of their constitutionally protected status under the state Constitution, may not (in the absence of a compelling interest) be eliminated or abrogated by the Legislature, or by the people through the initiative process, without amending the California Constitution?

3. Do the terms "marriage" or "marry" themselves have constitutional significance under the California Constitution? Could the Legislature, consistent with the California Constitution, change the name of the legal relationship of "marriage" to some other name, assuming the legislation preserved all of the rights and obligations that are now associated with marriage?

4. Should Family Code section 308.5 - which provides that "[o]nly marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California" - be interpreted to prohibit only the recognition in California of same-sex marriages that are entered into in another state or country or does the provision also apply to and prohibit same-sex marriages entered into within California? Under the Full Faith and Credit Clause and the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the federal Constitution (U.S. Const., art. IV, §§ 1, 2, cl.1), could California recognize same-sex marriages that are entered into within California but deny such recognition to same-sex marriages that are entered into in another state? Do these federal constitutional provisions affect how Family Code section 308.5 should be interpreted?

As clearly indicated by the nature of the questions, it shows that the Court is treating the legal questions underlying whether same-sex marriage should be legalized in the state of California very seriously. Let's just hope that the Court comes to a different conclusion than the High Courts of New York and Washington and follows Massachusetts lead.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Venus and Serena To Play Doubles At Wimbledon

They're back! Venus and Serena Williams are playing doubles together at Wimbledon this year, the first time the tennis stars have played doubles together in a Grand Slam tournament since 2003. The two have won a career grand slam in doubles (Wimbledon 2000 and 2002, U.S. Open 1999, Roland Garros 1999, Australian Open 2001 and 2003).

But wait, there's more! They will be playing with gold Wilson racquets. Serena will be playing with a black Wilson (K) racket and Venus with a white one. The rackets have 22-carat gold leaf inlaid into the frame. They will auction off 10 of the rackets to benefit the Breast Cancer Research Foundation later in the year.

Tidbits from Battlestar Galactica Event

You may recall that a few weeks ago MadProfessah blogged about the announcement that Battlestar Galactica would end after the end of the fourth season and the invitation to a free sneak preview attended by several cast members at the Arclight Cinerama Dome on Wednesday June 6th at 8pm.

Well, I did go and it was pretty cool. I got there around 7pm and magically was able to find street parking about two blocks away. I was surprised to not find a huge line around the block in front of the theater (only about 30-40 people). The staffers working the event behind the rope line and near a cloth-colored table said that people had started lining up around 8am this morning and that those people were currently seeing the final episode of Season 3, "Crossroads, Part 2" on the big screen. However, they gave everyone waiting in line a very cool black t-shirt with the words "Frak Off" in red. Finally, we were let in to the Cinerama Dome and castmembers Edward James Olmos (Admiral William Aldama), Mary McDonnell (President Laura Roslin), Jamie Bamber (Lee Aldama), Katee Sackhoff (Kara "Starbuck" Thrace), Lucy Lawless (D'Anna Biers) plus producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick. The event was emceed by Lawless, who opened the event with a shout out to "the noble Cylon race."

Some blogger called Flipit has an incredibly detailed minute-by-minute recap of the event posted at so I won't say much more about the actual comments made by the attendees but I will include some of my impressions.

Lucy Lawless -- sounded like she must have had a cocktail
or three before the event, but managed to be funny and foolish at the same time
("space opera, what a cool term, did you just invent that?") all the whole
looking amazing in a too-tight dress.

Mary McDonnell -- was also in a dress that also seemed too
tight, but looked great. She was probably the most animated member of the panel
and pobably had the most fun.

Jamie Bamber --
shorter than I expected, but still very handsome. However, his thick British
accent was a huge shocker. He wasn't shy about saying that he was happy that the
show was ending.

Edward James Olmos --
was basically acting like the
crotchety grandpa of the set, complaining about the network (a division of NBC
Universal) cancelling the show due to low ratings. He
questioned the ratings procedures by A.C. Nielsen, saying that it is well-known
they under-count African Americans and Latinos and Asians. In addition, due to
the geeky intelligent nature of BSG's fans they are more likely to download the
show on ITunes and other places and to use DVR to skip the commercials. He came
across like the head of the cast, which I suppose was fitting since he played
the head officer on Battlestar Galactica.

Katie Sackhoff --
was pretty quiet and a bit giggly when
she spoke. She kept on needling Olmos and McDonnell about her relative youth ("I
wasn't born yet when the first Battlestar series was airing") which was
sorta cute but got sorta annoying after awhile. She also didn't seem too upset
about the end of the show since she has been cast in the new Bionic Woman.

Ronald Moore
-- was very laidback and seemed very
respectful of the fans. He also had seen all this rabid fan energy before,
having been the central force behind at least one Star Trek series
(Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and heavily associated with best of another Star Trek: The Next Generation). He didn't seem overly upset about the demise of BSG, since he will be involved wth production of the show for the next 12 months or so, and is looking forward to the production of the pilot of the spin-off prequel Caprica.

David Eick
-- was also pretty laidback and seemed pretty
comfortable playing bad cop to Moore's good cop. He has a show picked up on NBC
for the fall, Bionic Woman in which Sachoff is playing a recurring role
as a villain. He provided some interesting details about the genesis of BSG
since he was the primary executive producer on the original 4-hour

After the panel, they showed a too-short highlight reel of scenes from the 2-hour movie airing in Fall 2007 called "Razor" which covers the story of the Battlestar Pegasus told in flashbacks. The entire cast of Battlestar Galactica will appear, as well as Michelle Forbes (Ensign Ro from Star Trek: The Next Generation) starring as Admiral Cain.

All in all I was glad that I went.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

New York Assembly Passes Marriage Equality Bill

One day after easily passing a legislative committee on a strictly partisan vote, a marriage equality bill introduced by Democratic Governor Eliot Spitzer passed the New York State Assembly on Tuesday by a bipartisan vote of 85 to 61. By passing A. 8590, whose chief legislative sponsor was talk show host Rosie O'Donnell's openly gay brother Assemblymember Daniel O'Donnell, the New York State Assembly became the third legislative body in the United States to pass a bill opening marriage to same-sex couples, after the California State Senate and California State Assembly. The California bill failed to beome law in 2005 after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed it. The California State Assembly again passed a marriage equality bill a couple weeks ago and the Governor has repeated his intention to veto it.

In New York, however, the Governor would happily sign a marriage equality into law if given the chance, but State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R-*sshole) has said that he has no intention of allowing the upper body to consider the marriage equality bill this year. This is the same person who prevented New York State Legislature from enacting a non-discrimination bill including gender identity or sexual orientation for decades despite large majorities in both houses in favor of the bill. New York finally enacted the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act in 2002.

Congratulations, New York!

AP Update on Recent Gay Rights Advances

The guys at The Agenda who run the blog for New York State's Empire State Pride Agenda (the New York equivalent of our Equality California) linked to an AP story on the New York Times website with a run-down on recent gay rights victories, although the state legislative sessions are not completely over (New York's is expected to end on Friday with a marriage equality bill sponsored by the newly elected Democratic Governor passing the lower house of the legislature.)

Three more states -- Oregon, Iowa and Colorado -- have enacted laws this year outlawing anti-gay discrimination, raising the total to 20 states that account for more than half the U.S. population. Twelve of those states extend those protections to transgender people.


Other trends have buoyed gay-rights leaders, including:

--Bright prospects for congressional passage of two gay-rights bills: a hate-crimes bill that would cover offenses motivated by anti-gay bias, and a measure that would outlaw workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.

--Intensifying demands for repeal of the ''don't ask, don't tell'' policy that bars openly gay people from serving in the military. The Bush administration supports the policy; all the Democratic presidential candidates oppose it.

--The broad repudiation of anti-gay remarks by several national figures, notably TV actor Isaiah Washington, commentator Ann Coulter and the outgoing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Peter Pace.


The article goes on to talk about the high profile issue of gay marriage marriage equality, especially with high-stakes electoral battles likely to be set in California and Florida.

Massachusetts is the only state where gay marriage is legal, but nine other states have approved spousal rights in some form for same-sex couples -- Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Maine, California, Oregon, Washington and Hawaii.

California, which now has a domestic partnership law, will probably be the next major battleground. Its legislature is expected to pass a bill this year allowing gay couples to marry, although Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said he would veto it. A separate legal challenge to California's one man-one woman marriage law is headed to the state Supreme Court.

In response, some conservative groups hope to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2008 that would ban gay marriage. Such a campaign would trigger massive spending from both sides.

''The outcome of that race will have a huge impact on how quickly we'll be able to move forward in other states,'' said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. ''If we lose in California, marriage equality is going to be limited to just a handful of states for the foreseeable future.''

A similar ban is expected to be on Florida's ballot next year, although under state law it would need at least 60 percent support to prevail.

''There's no question that's a challenge, but we're definitely up for it,'' said John Stemberger, president of the conservative Florida Family Policy Council.

Gee, what's so special about Florida law that they have to pass their constitutional amendment by 60%? That sounds like a fantastic idea. For ballot measures affecting "discrete, insular minorities" negatively a super majority of 66% should be required to have these discriminatory amendments go into effect. I wonder how we can get something like that in California....

LAPD Getting Bigger, More Diverse

I heard a story on 89.3 FM KPCC yesterday that the Los Angeles Police Department is on track to make their recruitment goals this year to reach a milestone of 10, 000 active duty police officers by next year and that it currently has 9, 567 officers. I tried googling for about an hour to find a source for the KPCC story (there was nothing on it that I could find at their website) but I found some other interesting stories instead. Did you know that the LAPD is planning on becoming the first police force to accept text messages to 911? That they receive over 2 million calls per year? They want to accept multimedia text messages, but they do not think they will have that capacity for another 3 years. Also, the LAPD is actually pretty diverse: "The breakdown is 12.4% Black, 38% Latino, 40% Caucasian, 6.3% Asian and 1.8% Filipino. 18.6% of the sworn population is Female."

Eventually, I found this Daily News article by Rick Orlov "LAPD speeds toward goal of 10,000-cop department" which was most likely the source of the KPCC report I heard yesterday and thought "I should blog about that!"

Beefing up the LAPD's ranks has been a top priority of Chief William Bratton, who had fewer than 9,000 under his command when he was hired in 2002.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa set the overall hiring goal for the department and pushed through a hike in the garbage-collection fee last year to pay for more officers.

At the time, officials hoped to have 10,000 cops by 2010. Earlier this year, the department hit the 9,400-mark, and officials predicted there would be 10,000 officers by 2009.

Strangely, there's nothing in the Times that I could see on the story. The Daily News also has an article by Rachel Uranga and the indefatigable Rick Orlov reporting that it is very likely that Police Chief William Bratton will receive an official 5-year re-appointment from the Los Angeles Police Commission today. Kevin over at LA Observed calls it "inevitable."

I could think of some other adjectives to use.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Migden Faces Political Fallout

The blog Calitics has posted the results of a poll conducted by Survey USA of 500 residents in the 3rd State Senate district of California which asked the question "Based on what you know right now, do you think State Senator Carole Migden should remain in office? Or do you think she should resign?" 43 percent replied "resign," 30 per cent said "stay in office" and 26 per cent said they were unsure. Yipes!

Previously MadProfessah has blogged about the Senator's recent driving mishaps.
The poll was taken in light of the recent revelations that Senator Migden, who has been one of the most powerful openly lesbian elected officials in the state for the past decade, was diagnosed with leukemia in 1997 and at the time was given 3-5 years to live. (Talk about term limits! She was in her first State Assembly term at the time.) Senator Migden recently sent a letter to 100, 000 of her constituents explaining her reasons for not revealing her illness before. SFist was not impressed.

Harrumph. A note on the envelope makes it clear that this missive was not paid for out of taxpayer dollars or whatnot -- there's nothing out of bounds here, except perhaps the bounds of good sense. Anybody that gives a hoot is keeping up with this in the news. Anybody that cares already knows you've pledged to the DMV that you won't drive anymore, Senator. We're not sure we buy your excuse -- and we're certainly willing to keep our ears open as definitive news comes out -- but we found this letter extremely patronizing. We're not so easily manipulated.

We'll offer some unsolicited advice: when you're in a hole, stop digging.

All keeping your name in the news cycle does is help to dredge up weird stories about what a kook you are.
In light of the controversies, Migden has picked up a new challenger for her seat, in addition to openly gay Mark Leno, it was announced that straight (and married) San Francisco Police Commissioner Joseph Alioto Veronese will also run for the Democratic nomination for the 3rd Senatorial District of California. The name Alioto is a potent one in San Francisco politics, with one elected mayor, a mayoral challenger and multiple supervisors carrying the name over the years. Veronese had made tongues wag in "The City" when he cast the deciding vote to elect openly transgendered Teresa Sparks as the first openly transgendered head of a big city Police Commission in the country--against the wishes of Mayor Gavin Newsom who appointed him!

And we thought Los Angeles politics was harsh!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Web Coverage of Debate in CA-37 Special Election

There was a debate between the eleven Democratic candidates running to replace recently deceased Juanita Millender-MacDonald on Thursday June 14th. I missed it too, but happily, dday from Calitics posted a link to where you can view the entire debate online.

Even better, dday also posted a rather complete play by play of the debate, from his very specific "Progressive Democrats of America" perspective. I will just reproduce his summary of each candidate's two-minute opening statements:

Ed Wilson: former mayor of Signal Hill, a small city in the district. He immediately went after the whole ethnicity issue, saying "this is not a black seat or a white seat or a Hispanic seat, it's your seat."

Peter Matthews: He's the PDA-endorsed candidate who has run for office many times, including challenging Millender-McDonald in a primary in 2006 (and getting 10,000 votes). Matthews is running on the progressive issues on getting us out of Iraq, closing the inequality divide, providing single-payer universal health care, and restoring tax fairness.

Jenny Oropeza: The state Senator was strong on the war, saying "we need to get out of Iraq now." She talked about the environment, health care, revising NCLB, and needing to "turn around trade agreements" that sacrifice American job (that was cheering). She closed with "You know my record," playing off her experience serving the area.

Laura Richardson: Assemblywoman Richardson is also running on her record. She kind of messed up her move from talking about Iraq to domestic issues, saying "I want to talk about the war in America" and then claiming that Al Qaeda is running rampant (I think she meant in Waziristan, not Long Beach). Didn't seem like much of a public speaker.

Valerie McDonald: The late Congresswoman's daughter talked about her ties to the area, the need to keep families together in the black community, and the importance of education.

Bill Grisolia: He's a longtime employee of Long Beach Memorial Health Center, so universal health care was one of his themes. But he was at his most powerful discussing the war in Iraq, and his desire to cut funding except to bring our troops home. He also tried to blunt the experience argument by saying "What have the electeds done for you?"

Mr. Evans: I forget his first name and it doesn't matter. He's a far-right immigrant-hating loon who somehow was let into the Democratic primary. He proudly namechecked Lou Dobbs in the first sentence of his statement and called himself a closed-borders candidate. There is a sense in the black community that immigrants are in competition with them for low-paying jobs, but this was the most extreme out-and-out black bigot I've seen.

Alicia Ford: Spent her entire statement talking about something she did a decade ago that ABC7 didn't cover, which made her bad. Also actually said "In Compton, they are without... a lot of things." Stirring.

Lee Davis: Her whole statement decried the front-runner assumptions of the media, and said that "if the top three had any self-respect they'd leave this stage right now" to allow for equal access, and then actually WAITED for them to leave the stage. They, er, didn't.

George Parmer: a truck driver from Long Beach, the first to actually call for impeachment and call out the Democratic leadership for their sell-out on capitulation in Iraq.

Jeffrey Price: Talked mainly about lobbying and ethics reform.

Albert Robles: a write-in candidate in a 17-candidate field. Best of luck to you. I mean, if you can't get the papers in on time...

The special election is Tuesday June 26th, with a run-off between the top two vote-getters scheduled for August 21 if no one gets 50% +1 vote.

Judging from their websites, I would say Jenny Oropeza has the edge over Laura Richardson. If Valerie McDonald has a website, it's well hidden! Peter Mathews' was a plaeasant surprise.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Fight Over HIV Testing in California Hits LGBT Media

Intrepid lesbian reporter Karen Ocamb has a special report in the latest edition of IN LA Magazine on the fight over what HIV testing procedures should look like in California that Mad Professah blogged about earlier this week.

In the article "Assembly Passes Controversial HIV Testing Bill" Ocamb quotes Mad Professah Ron Buckmire.

The coalition [to Amend AB 682], Buckmire wrote, “would like to amend the bill to ensure that patients receive an information sheet about HIV testing [as is provided for cancer screening], that the provider record in the medical chart whether the patient consented to or declined the test and document delivery of the information sheet, that HIV-positive test results are communicated in person, that non-discrimination protections be put in place to prevent HIV testing to screen out people with HIV/AIDS from routine health care services and that the impact of AB 682 be studied to see if it increases voluntary testing without diminishing patient’s autonomy, privacy and access to health care.”

The response from proponents of the bill was curious (and obnoxious). After quoting the odious Michael Weinstein, head of AIDS Healthcare Foundation, as claiming that the actions of the City of West Hollywood passing a resolution opposing AB 682 and supporting the proposed amendments were "sad" and would "sacrifice" lives. Gee, that's really raising the level of public policy debate! Cute and cuddly he is not.

A lobbyist for AHF was given the last word in the article, which he used to reveal some curious beliefs about HIV testing as well as a cavalier attitude about California public health policy.

“I can only think that [the City Council] misunderstands the intent of the bill. The objective of AB 682 is to remove barriers to health-care providers giving HIV tests to their patients—the only exception being our continued belief that HIV testing should be voluntary, so we’ve included a provision that maintains the patient’s right to decline the offer of a test [emphasis added]," said AHF Public Policy Coordinator Joey Terrill, who is working on the bill.

"Nearly 40,000 Californians are unaware that they are HIV-positive,” says Terrill. “The two biggest barriers to testing are: first, requiring a signature before testing, and second, the requirement of a provider to obtain informed consent. AB 682 removes the requirement of a signature and lessens the burden for obtaining consent. No more, no less. AB 682 does not remove the requirement of obtaining consent nor does it in any way affect laws regarding confidentiality."

Gee, so a Public Policy Coordinator for the largest AIDS service organization in California (and the world) has a "continued belief" that a patient has a right to decline an HIV test? Well, isn't that special. So, if in the future AHF reconsiders this belief ("that HIV testing should be voluntary") does that mean that they would be supporting mandatory HIV testing for all Californians? Because if a patient does not have a right to refuse the offer of an HIV test, how is that not mandatory testing? Also, if there is no documentation anywhere of either acceptance or refusal of an offer of an HIV test and an HIV test occurs what redress does that person who was tested have? That is the crux of the Coalition to Amend AB 682's position on the Full Employment Act for HIV Discrimination Lawyers that the current version of Assemblymember Berg's bill represents. How is a doctor having to make a notation in a medical chart that an HIV test was offered (along with a simple information sheet about the test) and what the patient's response was constitute "a psychological barrier" to testing? A barrier to the doctor or a barrier to the patient? Whose interests should California law be protecting here? Getting an HIV test can be a life-changing decision and should be a "teachable moment" for HIV prevention, at least that has been the position of AIDS educators for the last 20 years.

Note, the Coalition has not stated a position that requires that a patient give a signature before getting an HIV test, so this is simply a straw man being raised by Mr. Terrill. We believe more people should be tested for HIV, but we can not support legislation that "opens the door for coercive testing of all Californians." And neither does the CDC! The latest research shows that the way to reac the 40,000 Californians who are unaware of their HIV status is through targeted testing, not reckless universal testing with diminished patient's rights.

That Mr. Terrill says that AB 682 "lessens the burden for obtaining consent[,] No more, no less" is simply laughable. 1) There is no requirement for documentation of consent, so as any lawyer will tell you, if there's no documentation, it didn't happen. 2) AB 682 doesn't just lessen consent, it eliminates informed consent, which is a longstanding principle in California Health law that is not clear can even be reduced, let alone eliminated due to California appellate court rulings in this area. 3) Somehow Illinois and New York state have managed to start with bills as ill-thought out and frankly dangerous as California's but Illinois' law is one the Coalition to Amend AB 682 would probably endorse and New York's is substantially better than the bill pending before the California State Senate. Hopefully intelligent legislators with longtime experience and political savvy like Gloria Romero, Sheila Kuehl and Carole Migden will be able to fix this legislation before it becomes the law of the land.

Stay Tuned. Comments welcome.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Equality is Preserved!

Phew! Governor Deval Patrick and Democratic leaders in Massachusetts came through for the LGBT community as the state legislators meeting as a constitutional convention defeated a proposed constitutional amendement by a vote of 151-45 (the amendment only needed 50 votes in order to be sent to the 2008 statewide ballot). To approve a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment, takes votes of 25% of two Constitutional Conventions meeting in two consecutive 2-year sessions of the Massachusetts legislature so the next opportunity for heterosexist supremacists to ban gay marriage would be 2012!

The outcome was in doubt until hours before the vote but proponents of marriage equality were helped by an act of G-d (if you believe in such things) as well as the intense arm-twisting efforts of the newly elected first African American Governor of the state. Please call or email the Governor to let him know you appreciate his efforts:

Office of the Governor
Room 360
Boston, MA 02133
Phone: 617.725.4005
888.870.7770 (in state)
Fax: 617.727.9725
The National Black Justice Coalition is also encouraging people to specifically call the number 617-725-4000.

Do it now!

Massachusetts Marriage Showdown Today

Today there will be another Constitutional Convention in Massachusetts to vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to end gay marriages in the only state in which they are currently legal. Sitting as a joint session of 200 legislators, proponents of the measure just need 50 votes to place the anti-gay initiative on the November 2008 ballot.

That this vote occurs a mere two days after the fortieth anniversary of the date in which interracial marriages were legalized by the United States Supreme Court is ironic and poignant.

African American Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has been lobbying legislators hard to prevent the measure from reaching 50 votes and has started getting attacked for his efforts.

Pam's House Blend and Good As You have more coverage. The live webcast of the session starts at 10am PDT (1pm EDT).

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Los Angeles Mayoral Marriage Curse Continues...

The Los Angeles blogs and media are buzzing with the news that Corina Villaraigosa, wife of current Los Angeles Mayor and Latino Political "It" Boy Antonio Villaraigosa filed for divorce Tuesday a little more than 24 hours after the Mayor held a press briefing about the dissolution of his mariage for reporters.

Most commentators are notcing the pattern of marital problems in the heads of Los Angeles and San Francisco (In February Mayor Gavin Newsom admitted to an affair with the wife of one of his longtime top aides and checked himself into an alcohol treatment program).

However, to Mad Professah (and others) the interesting aspect of this story is the fact that the last three Mayors of Los Angeles have all seen their marriages dissolve.
  1. Antonio Villaraigosa was inaugurated Mayor on July 1, 2005 and announced he was moving out of the mayoral residence of Getty House and that he and his wife Corina were separating on Friday June 8.

  2. Prior to Villaraigosa, James K. Hahn was Mayor from 2001-2005. In July 2003, Hahn announced that he was separating from his wife Monica (who it is widely rumored went on to live with another woman), leaving their teenaged kids in the custody of Mayor Hahn.

  3. Prior to Hahn, bilionaire Richard Riordan was mayor of Los Angeles from 1993-2001. Although his marriage survived his mayoralty, on June 1, 2007 it was announced that the 77-year-old former mayor was filing for a legal spearation from his wife of nine years, Nancy Daly Riordan.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

40th Anniversary of Loving v. Virginia Today

On June 12, 1967 the United States Supreme Court released its landmark, unanimous Loving v. Virginia decision which declared the right to marry a fundamental right and invalidated statewide bans on interracial marriage in 16 states. The National Black Justice Coalition and Faith in America have released the following simple but powerful YouTube video drawing the parallels between bans on interracial marriage 40 years ago and the current bans on same-sex marriage today.

In addition, an organization called Loving Day celebrates the anniversary of the Loving decision which legalized interracial marriages nationwide by acting as a clearinghouse of information on the issue of interracial marriage and promoting public celebrations of interracial relationships and multi-racial individuals. At their website they have an amazing interactive color-coded map which graphically depicts the changing legal status of "miscegenation" over time in U.S. history. (They also have a list with excerpts of the statutes banning interracial marriage.)

Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving
Many blogs are covering the anniversary, with notable posts by Lurleen at Pam's House Blend, Rod at Rod 2.0 and Jack over at Jack and Jill Politics. Also, the above picture of Mildred (Jeter) Loving and Richard Loving, the plaintiffs in the Loving v. Virginia case has been running on progressive blogs for weeks as an ad for Freedom To Marry's promotion of the 40th anniversary as a way to call attention to same-sex marriage equality.

So, today, give someone of a different race a kiss or a hug and wish them a "Happy Loving Day!"

Monday, June 11, 2007

Update on Black MIT Professor's Tenure Battle

Frank L. Jordan resigned to support James
Sherley's protest against MIT's tenure denial.
Mad Professah and many others have previously blogged about the decision by James Sherley, an African American Professor of Biological Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to protest his denial of tenure by beginning a hunger strike in February 2007. Apparently Professor Sherley ended his hunger strike after 12 days despite the fact that MIT did not agree to either of his demands to re-consider the tenure decision and fire Provost L. Rafael Reif.

However, today comes word that a prominent African American researcher in the same field, Frank L. Douglas, executive director of the MIT Center for Biomedical Innovation issued his resignation on June 1, primarily to protest the way in which MIT has (not) dealt with the Sherely tenure case. In an e-mail message to Provost Reif, Jordan accused the u niversity of going back on agreement to arbitrate the tenure dispute with Sherley. MIT issued a statement denying the allegations. The Boston Globe printed an article on the story last week:


Fewer than half of junior faculty members at MIT are granted tenure, and a special committee created to examine Sherley's tenure review found no evidence of racial discrimination.


"This is a courageous act by someone who has a lot of character and concern for African-American faculty," [Sherley] said. "And it raises the broader issue of why this administration treats African-American faculty members differently than others."


Before joining MIT, Douglas was an executive vice president and chief scientific officer at Aventis SA, a leading pharmaceutical firm, where he oversaw global pharmaceutical research, according to his biography on the MIT Sloan School of Management's web site.

"I leave because I would neither be able to advise young Blacks about their prospects of flourishing in the current environment, nor about avenues available to affect change when agreements or promises are transgressed," the e-mail read.

Chi-Sang Poon , a research scientist and outspoken supporter of Sherley, said the resignation reflected deep discontent among faculty members who are racial minorities, who make up a small percentage of MIT's tenured faculty.

"Minority faculty have been passed over for tenure for years," he said, adding that he had been passed over for promotion several times. "The administration has to come to the reckoning that this has been a long standing issue."

Should Everyone Be Tested For HIV Without Documented Written Informed Consent?

Last year Mad Professah previously posted my many objections to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s planned revised guidelines on HIV Testing in the United States. On Friday September 22, 2006 the CDC announced their final recommendation ("Revised Recommendations for HIV Testing of Adults, Adolescents, and Pregnant Women in Health-Care Settings) that all Americans between the ages of 13-64 be routinely tested for HIV, with pre- and post- counselling be optional. At the New York Times website the commenters were pretty evenly divided on the merits of the issue.

Now, this year those little "engines of democracy" have been responding to the recommendations by introducing legislation. Currently the legislative debate is most vigorous in California, Illinois and New York.

On Thursday May 3 the Chicago Sun-Times editorialized ("Compromise needed to boost HIV testing") about Illinios' bill, HB 980, which was picked up about the Kaiser Family Foundation's Daily HIV/AIDS Report on May 8:


Making HIV testing a routine part of people's health care, as the Centers for Disease Control is determined to do -- with patients' knowledge and with patients having the right to not be tested -- seems to be a good way to expand these screenings. But the CDC's push to eliminate the requirement of written consent for the tests, as well as pre-test counseling, has the potential to do more harm than good. So, then, does a bill before the Illinois House that in its current form endorses those CDC guidelines.

HIV is anything but a routine disease. Unlike cancer or heart disease, it carries a powerful stigma, particularly in certain low-income communities, where a large percentage of people -- black males especially -- resist testing. Dire consequences can come from administering an HIV test to individuals who don't know they don't have to take it, aren't educated about the infection and ways to fight it, and don't yet have a support group to help get them through. Doctors and AIDS activists see the written consent as essential to the cause of protecting HIV patients' basic rights.

In New York, public hospitals have shown it's possible to greatly increase HIV testing by incorporating it into routine medical care -- without eliminating the requirement of informed, written consent. By going with a rapid testing program, streamlining and diversifying counseling and making testing available in emergency departments, outpatient clinics and other facilities away from the usual spots, New York increased the number of those tested in 2006 by a whopping 63 percent over 2005 and doubled the number of HIV-positive patients identified.


The Illinois Legislature passed an amended form of HB 980 on June 1. As previously reported ("California HIV-related Legislation"), California's legislature is currently consider AIDS Healthcare Foundation's Assemblymember Patty Berg's AB 682, which purports to enact the (misguided) new federal recommendations on HIV testing into state law. That bill has passed both the Assembly Health Committee unanimously and the State Assembly unanimously (77-0) last Thursday June 7th.

The large AIDS service organizations that were responsible for California enacting mandatory governmental registration of HIV positive individuals by name (i.e. HIV Names Reporting) instead of alphanumeric code have also lined up to eliminate written informed consent for HIV testing in the state of California: AIDS Project Los Angeles, Bienestar, AIDS Healthcare Foundation, L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, Project Inform and San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
Happily, this time a number of community-based organizations like Center for Health Justice, Being Alive Los Angeles, American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal, Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law and Community HIV AIDS Mobilization Project (some of whom Mad Professah is associated with) are organizing to prevent organizational expediency from steam rolling over individual rights.

In addition, on Wednesday June 6th the San Francisco Chronicle carried an op-ed from Sigrid Fry-Revere of the Cato Institute entitled "HIV testing should require consent and promise privacy" which aptly summarized why enacting the current form of AB 682 is bad public policy.


HIV testing is not like cholesterol testing. People don't worry about their cholesterol levels becoming public or about being stigmatized for their cholesterol status. Federal and state governments introduced confidentiality rules and anonymous testing policies to reassure patients that their privacy would be respected, in hopes of encouraging them to choose freely to risk the loss of privacy and get tested. Eliminating privacy protections and testing routinely could cause those who most need to be tested to avoid medical treatment altogether.

It's bad enough for a state government to decide that it wants to protect people from themselves by making medical choices for them. It's all the worse when that supposedly well-intentioned paternalism is really a ploy to dip into federal coffers.


FRENCH OPEN 2007: Henin and Nadal Each win 3rd Consecutive Title

Nadal beat Roger Federer 63 46 63 64Henin beat Ana Ivanovic 61 62

Saturday, June 09, 2007

French Open 2007: Men's Final Preview

Roger Federer SUI (1) vs. Rafael Nadal ESP (2)
World #1 Roger Federer has done something (twice) that his idol Pete Sampras never did: he has played in the Roland Garros final. Pete Sampras has the most important record in men's tennis: most Grand Slam singles titles in history. The match up between Nadal and Federer tomorrow is historic. Nadal has never lost at Roland Garros, he has a perfect record of 20-0. Two of those wins were over Federer, in the 2005 semifinals (6-3 4-6 6-4 6-3) and last year's final (1-6 6-1 6-4 7-6(4)). Although Federer won a set in both matches the contests were not really as close as the scores indicate. Nadal had an 81 match winning streak on clay that Federer ended in the Hamburg final on May 20 by coming back from a set down to win relatively easily against a mentally (and possibly physically) exhausted Nadal 2-6, 6-2, 6-0. Nadal's achievements could arguably indicate that on clay he is the best ever; there and he has been more dominant on this surface than Federer (or Sampras) are on grass or McEnroe on hard courts.

However, the person he is playing has been the #1 player for the last 174 weeks (since February 2, 2004) and has been in the last 8 Grand Slam finals, winning six of them. At age 25, he has won 10 Grand Slam titles (from the last 15 majors played) and currently possesses the last 4 Wimbledon titles and the last 3 U.S. Opens. The question for most commentatirs and avid tennis fans alike is not whether Federer will break Sampras' record, but when (I think it will be Wimbledon 2009). If Federer wins the match against Nadal, he will have achieved a Grand Slam, the achievement of possessing all 4 major titles smilutaneously and will almost instantly be crowned Greatest Of All Time. That it is Nadal, a player who has 7-4 lifetime edge against him, that he has to beat to reach this pinnacle places the match above mere sporting contest but launches it into the dizzing heights of popular consciousness, media spotlights and operatic drama. (To put this in perspective, Federer has a 9-0 lifetime record against World #3 Nikolai Davydenko, is 13-1 against World #4 Andy Roddick and is 10-0 against World #5 Fernando Gonzalez).

Already the two have played a match before which was the best men's tennis match of 2006, the Rome ATP Master Series final, a 305-minute, 5-set classic, featuring 3 tiebreaks, 2 saved match points that was won by Nadal on his first (and only) match point: 6-7 (0), 7-6 (5), 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (5). Broadcasters are salivating for a repeat match at that level but I doubt such a stunning contest can ever be duplicated. Federer beating Nadal for the first time on clay in Hamburg was huge, he has often turned around rivalries where players were consistently beating him to here he now has decisive edges (David Nalbandian, Tim Henman). I suspect that is the kind of result we will see on Sunday, when Roger Federer wins his 11th Grand Slam title.

PREDICTION: Federer in 4 sets.

FRENCH OPEN 2007: Women's Final Preview

Justine Henin BEL (1) vs. Ana Ivanovic SRB (7).
The diminutive Belgian has won the last 31 sets of tennis she played at Roland Garros, stretching back to a 2005 round of 16 against Svetlana Kuznetsova where she saved two match points and won 7-5 in the third. Since then Henin has demolished everyone on clay, in fact the two finals she played in 2005 (Mary Pierce, 6-1, 6-1) and 2006 (Kuznetsova, 6-4, 6-4) were embarassingly one-sided affairs. It's unlikely Saturday's final will be similarly unwatchable, but the winner will be the same. Her opponent is Ana Ivanovic, the teenage Serbian phenom who demolished Maria Sharapova in the semifinals 6-1, 6-2. Henin beat another Serbian, Jelena Jankovic in straights sets 6-2, 6-2 in the other semifinal. Ivanovic also won a Tier 1 clay court tournament in Berlin a few weeks ago by defeating Kuznetsova in a third set tiebreaker. Ivanovic knows how to play on clay and has a powerful serve and even more powerful forehand but they will not be enough to stop Justine Henin from winning her 6th major championship, her 4th Roland Garros title.
PREDICTION: Henin in 2 sets.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Celebrity Friday: Princely Birthday, ABC Drama Drama, Frasier's Gay Brother

Happy Belated Birthday, Prince!
Thursday June 7th was Prince Rogers Nelson's 49th birthday.

The r&b singer-songwriter extraordinaire has a new album called Planet Earth coming out next month on Columbia Records. As I have said before, Prince is one of my favorite artists and I blogged about my 10 favorite Prince songs last year after word of The Purple One's second divorce hit the media. For the record, my favorite Prince song is "Adore" from 1999 Grammy-nominated Album of the Year "Sign O' The Times."

Update on ABC Drama's Drama

It was confirmed yesterday that executive producer Shonda Rhimes of Grey's Anatomy has decided not to renew the option of Isaiah Washington to play Dr. Preston Burke for the fourth season of the show. This was not unexpected after Washington had an on-set violent altercation in with another cast member (Patrick "McDreamy" Dempsey), referring to another cast member (T.R. Knight who plays George O'Malley) as a "f-gg-t" that generated bad publicity for Disney-ownd ABC and the show for months. T.R. Knight subsequently came out of the closet within weeks of the incident. Isaiah Washington initially apologized but then repeated the use of the slur at the Golden Globes on live television. The incident became a larger touchstone and talking point for how race and sexuality are treated differently by the media and blogosphere since a Black man was being castigated for public homophobic comments but there was a white man named Charles Knipp who does racially offensive drag in black face as Shirley Q. Liquor.
Openly gay T.R. Knight along with his Grey's Anatomy co-stars Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Gray), Patrick Dempsey and Golden Globe winner Sandra Oh (Christina Yang) all received raises of $125,000 per episode plus profit participation in the show. All the other co-stars such as Katherine Heigl (Dr. Izzie Stevens, who is in the recently released Knocked Up), Sara Ramirez (Dr. Calliope O'Malley) and the very handsome Justine Chambers (Dr. Alex Karev) .
Yes, Niles Crane IS Gay!
To almost no one's surprise, actor David Hyde Pierce is now officially openly gay. had the exclusive story a few weeks ago but the story has not really been commented upon much in the blogosphere. Since I was one of the few Black people who regularly watched Frasier I took notice of the story and applaud Mr. Pierce for finally coming out. Of course, everyone he worked with and people in the industry knew that he was gay but for some reason the actor never answered questions about his sexuality while he was on the Emmy award-winning comedy series for eleven years. Pierce was nominated for the Emmy for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his portrayal of Dr. Niles Crane (brother of the title character Dr. Frasier Crane played by Kelsey Grammer) a record 11 consecutive years and won four times (1994, 1998, 1999 and 2004). Frasier was a situation comedy with the most amazingly erudite yet consistely funny writing.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

REVIEW: Shrek The Third

Saw Shrek the Third last week (immediately after 28 Weeks Later). I thought that Shrek 2 (2004) was an unmitigated disaster, especially in comparison to the delightfully irreverent original Shrek (2001). Happily, the latest Shrek is not a "waste of digital storage space" like the 2004 version was but is somewhat closer to the 2001 version. The second Shrek made significantly more money than the first one ($441 to $267 million), thus making "The Third" inevitable.

The third Shrek is happily a mere 92 minutes long (compared to the overly long Pirates and Spider-Man "three-quels" and this may contribute to my generally positive impression leaving the theater.

Mike Myers, Cameron Diaz, Eddie Murphy and Antonio Banderas all do excellent voice work. The new addition of Justin Timberlake (who happily has no scenes with ex-girlfriend Diaz) is not embarassing, but the more interesting "guest stars" are the British super groupe of Julie Andrews, Eric Idle and John Cleese who play delightfully eccentric characters.

The plot? Ummm, fuhgeddaboutit. There is one, but it doesn't really matter. The Shrek movies are more about the modern, adult jokes that are embedded in the milieu of a children's cartoon fairy tale. Shrek The Third follows the recipe and delivers the expected non-nutritional entertainment.


FRENCH OPEN 2007: Women's Semifinals Preview

The 2007 French Open Women's semifinals are now set.

Justine Henin BEL (1) vs. Jelena Jankovic SRB (4).
Jelena JankovicUnfortunately, the Serena Williams-Justine Henin quarterfinal did not live up to the breathless hype. Serena was oddly flat and for some reason modified her game for clay court play by adding slice and finesse to her shots in order to defeat the best female clay court tennis player in the world. Serena lost in straight set 6-4, 6-3. The World #1 has played Jelena Jankovic five times and never lost, including two times on clay. Interestingly, all of their matches have gone three sets, and in all of their matches but one the Serbian player has won the first set. At last year's U.S. Open semifinal Jankovic was two points away from taking a near insurmountable lead in the second set when she had a mental meltdown after a confrontation with the umpire and ended up losing that set and failed to win another game. Henin has already won three Roland Garros titles and has set a new record for consecutive sets won at a Grand Slam event, however that streak will come to an end in this match. PREDICTION: Jankovic in 3 sets.

Ana Ivanovic SRB (7) vs. Maria Sharapova RUS (2). Sadly, Svetlana Kuznetsova could not handle the pressure of Roger Federer's admiration and lost to the pulchritudinous Serbian teenager 6-0, 3-6, 6-1. Sharapova easily defeated Anna Chakevetadze to attain her first Roland Garros semifinal. Sharapova and Ivanovic have only played twice before, with Sharapova winning a close match on hard courts and Ivanovic winning this year when Sharapova retired with a shoulder injury after losing the first set. The Russian had no right to get past crafty lefty Patty Schnyder in the 4th round and I refuse to believe that Ana Ivanovic will hesitate to go for broke when she holds match point to advance to her first Grand Slam final. PREDICTION: Ivanovic in 3 sets.


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