A personal blog by a Black, Gay, Caribbean, Liberal, Progressive, Moderate, Fit, Geeky, Married, College-Educated, NPR-Listening, Tennis-Playing, Feminist, Atheist, Math Professor in Los Angeles, California
Thursday, May 31, 2007
REVIEW: 28 Weeks Later
The film was made for an estimated $8 million dollars and was already profitable from its United Kingdom release before it jumped the pond and grossed over $45 million more in the United States during the summer of 2003. The film became one of the first to be released in theaters with multiple endings (hopeful, hopeless and ambiguous) all of which are available on the DVD.
None of the principal actors or director return for the sequel, which is usually a decidely discouraging signal. The original's director Executive Produced 28 Weeks Later and personally selected Juan Carlos Fresnadillo who made the intriguing thriller Intacto to direct the sequel.
Surprisingly, the critics have responded with kind words with some calling it "better than the original." At rottentomatoes.com the viewers rate the film more highly than critics (86% to 71%) and the film has taken in over $21 million in three most competitive weekends of the U.S. summer movie-going season.
28 Days Later was an exciting surprise; an unheralded film that comes out of nowhere to entertain, thrill and amaze. 28 Weeks Later arrives as a known, expected quantity but is actually a better film. It has a lesser emotional impact than the first movie because in this version one is not worried about whether the entire human race has been devastated by the "rage virus."
In this film, the rage virus has almost completely exterminated the population of United Kingdom, except for a very small number of survivors. About 6 months after (28 Weeks, get it?) the last infected person died of hunger the United States military has begun returning British citizens to a "heavily fortified Green Zone" in the capital city of the country. (Sound familiar?) There are other metaphorical allusions to the conflict in Iraq after the inevitable new outbreak of the virus (through the deployment of a reasonably plausible plot device: genetic mutation) we get scenes of U.S. troops acting as snipers, patrolling a bombed out urban landscape looking for hidden, dangerous residents (zombies) and using superior technology and firepower.
In the end the heart of the movie is again centered around the safety of two children and the movie does an excellent job of maintaining both the level of suspense and non-stop gory action sequences.
NH Governor Signs Civil Unions Bill Into Law
"Dating back to the Abolitionist movement, we in New Hampshire have a long, proud history of taking the lead in opposing discrimination. Today, that tradition continues. Today, we are taking an important step against discrimination. Today, we are acting to protect New Hampshire families," Gov. Lynch said.
"Over the last several months, I have spoken with hundreds of people about this issue, and most of those people support civil unions. Some support civil unions, but feel it may be happening too fast, or too soon. Others oppose civil unions altogether and see it as a threat to marriage.
"I've listened and heard all the arguments. I do not believe this bill threatens marriage. I believe this is a matter of conscience and fairness. And my view is that, it's never too soon to act to prevent discrimination.
"People in committed relationships should not have to worry about visiting a loved one in a hospital, or whether their loved ones will inherit their estate, or the many other legal protections so many of us take for granted," Gov. Lynch said. "How could any one of us look into the eyes of our neighbors, our friends, or our loved ones if we continued to deny them these basic legal protections?
"That is why I am pleased to be here today as we further the interest of fairness, dignity and the strengthening of families.
"That is truly the New Hampshire way," Gov. Lynch said.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Direct Proportionality and Gasoline Prices
In an article in the Los Angeles Times on May 9, 2007, "Not just inflated prices but inflated fuel":
The U.S. government defines a gallon of gas this way: At 60 degrees, a gallon is 231 cubic inches. But when fuel is warmer than 60 degrees, the liquid expands. When it's colder, the fuel contracts.So, as you think about rising gas prices, recall the principle of direct proportionality from your high school algebra class.
U.S. oil companies and distributors account for temperature when they sell to each other. Wholesale facilities are equipped with devices that adjust volumes to bring the gallon tally in line with the 60-degree standard.
That equity, however, stops short of retail fuel pumps. Service stations dispense gas and diesel as if every drop is flowing at 60 degrees — and they charge customers as if they are getting government-standard gallons.
Gasoline expands or contracts 1% for every 15-degree change in the fuel's temperature. Diesel volumes change 0.6% per 15-degree change. The difference seems small, but it adds up fast in California, where fuel temperatures can be much higher than 60 degrees and prices are steep. It's a bigger hit for truckers, whose rigs gulp 20,000 gallons or more of diesel a year.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
India Hosts "Nigah Queerfest"
Andy at TowleRoad has links to coverage of the Queerfest.
The film is an amazingly incisive meditation on the nature of health care around the world. It looks specifically at the case of four particular countries in the global South: Cuba, Honduras, The Gambia and Venezuela. Although it sounds like it might be awfully tendentious and possibly mawkish: a nearly 2-hour documentary on the state of international health care primarily in Spanish, the actuality is an emotionally powerful, thought-provoking experience that lingers with you long after the final talking head has delivered the last rhetorical question: "How long will we treat health care as a commodity instead of as a right?"
Monday, May 28, 2007
Tommy Haas and Marat Safin Shirtless Together
Something to do on a Memorial Day when the French Open is basically rained out!
FRENCH OPEN 2007: Venus and Serena Win First Round Matches
Serena Williams beat Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova (who took out Venus last year 9-7 in the third set during the first round of the 2006 Australian Open) 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 on Day 1. Serena was down 5-6 (after coming back from 2-5 to level the match 5-5) with Pironkova ready to serve for the first set when a 5-hour rain delay occurred. After that gap, although Serena lost the first set, she won 12 of the last 13 games to win the match.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
REVIEW: Providence Restaurant (Los Angeles, CA)
Here are some pictures of our meal.
An amuse bouche of carrot ginger soup and shrimp with a crunchy wafer.
|bobby’s block island sea scallops with|
heart of palm, star anise gastrique, applewood smoked bacon.
king salmon (sitka alaska) with kumquats, fennel, baby turnips, black olives, saffron.
|japanese kanpachi, pickled plum consommé, shiso leaf, cucumber.|
new zealand john dory with crayfish,
|raspberry, basil, balsamic, graham.|
The food was incroyable (incredible). The scallops were the most amazing things I have ever tasted. The dining experience was an absolutely memorable one. The service was insanely attentive. The meal was not cheap (the fixed price for the 5-course meal coupled with a different wine for each course is $110 per person) but it absolutely worth the money to spend about twice as much here as you would at Providence and forego eating at another "so-so" place at half the price.
Friday, May 25, 2007
30th Anniversary of Star Wars
The first film, officially titled "Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope" has spawned 5 more films which have grossed well over $2 billion at the box office. It was nominated for 10 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director and won 6.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
Carole Migden's Story Changes
However, earlier this year openly gay Assemblymember Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), the author of the marriage equality bill, announced that he would be running in the June 2007 primary election against Migden.
It will be definitely interesting to see what impact the overwhelming coverage of the State Senator's recent "erratic driving" activities will have on the race for the emocratic nomination for the 3rd State Senate district (which covers San Francisco, Sonoma and Marin counties).
In a statement Friday, Migden said the accident occurred after she took her eyes off the road while reaching for a ringing cell phone.Hmmmmmmmmm!
But before the crash, the CHP received the calls about Migden's driving as she traveled more than 30 miles east on I-80 from the Bay Area.
"We have drivers calling from apparently down in Berkeley all the way up to where she crashed," CHP Officer Marvin Williford said. "Her driving was just erratic.
"Unfortunately, she crossed three different CHP districts, so by the time we got into position in one area, she was in a different jurisdiction."
Two witnesses who called 911 said Migden glanced off the concrete barrier dividing traffic on I-80, several miles before her accident, the CHP said.
"Based on her (Migden's) statement and the damage to her car, we know that she hit something. We're trying to determine where she hit it," Williford said.
In her statement to officers, Migden said "she did feel she brushed up against something," Williford said, although there is no mention of that in the statement released Friday by the senator's office.
Oropeza Loses Labor Support in 37th CD Race
The L.A. County Federation of Labor dropped its long-standing support for state Sen. Jenny Oropeza on Monday, endorsing her opponent in the race to succeed the late Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald.
The County Fed, the region's most influential labor organization, voted Monday night to put its considerable backing behind Assemblywoman Laura Richardson.
Oropeza traced the decision to her vote last month for five tribal compacts that would more than double the number of slot machines at California's American Indian casinos. Labor groups have strongly opposed the compacts on the grounds that they contain insufficient organizing protections.
Mad Professah has been blogging about this race for awhile, which pits African American Assemblymember Laura Richardson versus Latina State Senator Oropeza to fill the seat vacated by the untimely death on April 22nd of Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald. Another candidate in the race is Valerie McDonald, the Congresswoman's daughter. The special primary election is June 26.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
FDA Reiterates Gay Blood Ban
What is FDA's policy on blood donations from men who have sex with other men (MSM)?
Men who have had sex with other men, at any time since 1977 (the
beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the United States) are currently deferred as
blood donors. This is because MSM are, as a group, at increased risk for HIV,
hepatitis B and certain other infections that can be transmitted by
The policy is not unique to the United States. Many European
countries have recently reexamined both the science and ethics of the lifetime
MSM deferral, and have retained it (See the transcript of
the "FDA Workshop on Behavior-Based Donor Deferrals in the NAT Era" at
http://www.fda.gov/cber/minutes/nat030806t.htm#7 for further information.).
This decision is also consistent with the prevailing interpretation of the
European Union Directive 2004/33/EC article 2.1 on donor deferrals.
Why doesn't FDA allow men who have had sex with men to donate
A history of male-to-male sex is associated with an increased risk for
the presence of and transmission of certain infectious diseases, including HIV,
the virus that causes AIDS. FDA's policy is intended to protect all people who
receive blood transfusions from an increased risk of exposure to potentially
infected blood and blood products.
However, the FDA's statement fails to acknowledge that in recent years several countries such as Australia, Portugal, Russia, Spain and South Africa have changed their lifetime ban on gay men donating blood.
According to the Washington Blade, the American Association of Blood Banks, the Council of Community Blood Centers and the American Red Cross have called the lifetime ban for men who’ve had sex with men since 1977 “medically and scientifically unwarranted.”
Students at UCLA and other colleges have started to protest the lifetime ban on men who have sex with men from donating blood.
Update on IDAHO around the world
• Brazil: Among several activities that took place in different cities throughout the giant nation, Grupo Gay da Bahia organized a "Day without Homophobia." During the event they honored members of the LGBT community lost to homophobic violence by writing their names on colorful handkerchiefs and hanging them on a line with clothespins. Photos here.
• Guyana: The Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) screened "Songs of Freedom" a documentary by Jamaican born director Phillip Pike that takes a look at homophobia in Jamaica. In doing so, organizers hoped to call attention on "the need of Caribbean societies to battle homophobia as one of the prejudices which retard the development of society." The country, which is located to the right of Venezuela and above Brazil at the north of the South American continent is populated by English-speakers and has stronger ties to Caribbean culture than to Spanish speaking South American countries.
• Venezuela: IDAHO reports that the Caracas-based Asociación Civil Unión Afirmativa (Affirmative Civil Union Association) was to hold a kiss-a-thon in front of the Venezuelan Supreme Tribunal to ask the court to rule on a petition submitted more than two years ago to determine if the Venezuelan constitution grants certain partnership rights to same-sex couples. I couldn't find coverage in the local press.
• Paraguay: The LGBT-rights organization Paragay announced a campaign to promote a bill that would amend an existing anti-discrimination law in order to protect specific social groups including gays and minorities from discrimination (Jakueke).
• Chile: In Chile, the Homosexual Integration and Mobilization Movement (MOVILH) promoted conjugal visits for imprisoned gay, lesbian and transgender inmates (OpusGay).
• Argentina: The CHA launched an initiative to promote national and regional measures to ban discrimination, criminalization and persecution of individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity (Territorio Digital).
• Dominican Republic: Finally, in Santo Domingo, IDAHO was celebrated through an event recognizing the work of "seventeen individuals and eight institutions that have maintained a non-discriminatory attitude" towards gays and lesbians.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Interesting Visual Illusion
California Set To Spend More on Prisons Than Higher Education
As the costs for fixing the state's troubled corrections system rocket higher, California is headed for a dubious milestone -- for the first time the state will spend more on incarcerating inmates than on educating students in its public universities.
Based on current spending trends, California's prison budget will overtake spending on the state's universities in five years. No other big state in the country spends close to as much on its prisons compared with universities.
Under a new state law, California will spend $7.4 billion to build 40,000 new prison beds, and that is over and above the current annual operating budget of more than $10 billion. Interest payments alone on the billions of dollars of bonds that will be sold to finance the new construction will amount to $330 million a year by 2011 -- all money that will not be available for higher education or other state priorities.
This is profoundly disturbing. Especially, since the politicians themselves know that this is bad public policy. "Asked if the prison spending accurately reflected the state's values and priorities, several politicians insisted it did not, and some suggested it was something of an embarrassment for a state that in other areas, such as environmental programs, likes to think of itself as a pioneer in smart policymaking."
In the Governor's proposed 2007-08 budget the state will spend $10 billion on prisons and $12 billion on higher education, but the Legislative Analyst estimates spending on universities will increase by 5% per year while spending on prisons will increase by 9%.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Carter Quoted Calling Bush Administration Worst Ever
“We now have endorsed the concept of pre-emptive war where we go to war with another nation militarily, even though our own security is not directly threatened, if we want to change the regime there or if we fear that some time in the future our security might be endangered,” he said. “But that's been a radical departure from all previous administration policies.”
Mr. Carter, who won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2002, criticized Mr. Bush for having “zero peace talks” in Israel. Mr. Carter also said the administration “abandoned or directly refuted” every negotiated nuclear arms agreement, as well as environmental efforts by other presidents.
Mr. Carter also offered a harsh assessment for the White House's Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, which helped religious charities receive US$2.15 billion in federal grants in fiscal year 2005 alone.
“The policy from the White House has been to allocate funds to religious institutions, even those that channel those funds exclusively to their own particular group of believers in a particular religion,” Mr. Carter said. “As a traditional Baptist, I've always believed in separation of church and state and honoured that premise when I was president, and so have all other presidents, I might say, except this one.”
The White House struck back, calling Carter "irrelevant." As Oliver Willis points out, you're not that irrelevant when the White House issues a personal and specific attack against you!
Now it looks like The Big Dogs have gotten to Carter, because today he is calling his own remarks "careless" and "misinterpreted."
Carter said Monday that when he made the comment, he was responding to a question comparing the Bush administration's foreign policy to that of Richard Nixon.
"And I think Richard Nixon had a very good and productive foreign policy and my remarks were maybe careless or misinterpreted. But I wasn't comparing the overall administration and I was certainly not talking personally about any president," Carter said.
He added: "I think this administration's foreign policy compared to president Nixon's was much worse," Carter said. But he said he did not mean to call it the worst in history.
"No, that's not what I wanted to say. I wasn't comparing this administration with other administrations back through history but just with President Nixon."
Deputy White House press secretary Tony Fratto, with Bush at the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas, said Monday: "I think it just highlights the importance of being careful in choosing your words. I'll just leave it at that."
Hmmmmm. Well, let's just hope that the Bush Administration hasn't made any recent overhauls to the Secret Service like they have to FEMA or the Justice Department or the EPA. Or else Mr. Carter might have an "unfortunate accident." I wouldn't put anything as unthinkable with this administration, would you?
Sunday, May 20, 2007
The King is Dead; Long Live The King!
Federer beats Nadal on clay for the first time
Wow! After playing pretty badly (mostly due to his horrendous mid 30s service percentage) and losing the first set easily, World #1 Roger Federer defeated World #2 Rafael Nadal by coming back from a set down and facing two break points at 2-6, 1-1, 15-40 to win the second set 6-2 and roll through the deciding 3rd set 6-0, only the second time he has "bageled" the Spaniard. The convincing win over his arch rival at the German Open (ATP Masters Series Hamburg) on Sunday was his 37th consecutive win and 8th consecutive title on German soil and ended Nadal's astounding record-breaking streak of 81 consecutive wins on clay, the longest existing streak on any surface. Federer ended with 31 errors and 31 winners, to just 20 winners and 34 errors for Nadal. Nadal was attempting to become the first player to win all 4 great clay tournaments in one season, but instead Federer picked up his 4th Hamburg Masters Series title, his 13th Masters Shield over all, 4 behind all-time leader Andre Agassi.
By beating the "King of Clay," the "King of Grass" gives himself a mental boost before the 2nd Grand Slam of the year, the only title he hasn't won, where Nadal beat him pretty easily in 4 sets last year and is the 2-time defending champion: Roland Garros, which starts Sunday May 27th.
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Another Federer versus Nadal Final
|Roger Federer (SUI)  vs||Rafael Nadal (ESP) |
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal both needed 3-sets to advance to their second clay court final of 2007, defeating former World #1's Carlos Moya and Lleyton Hewitt, respectively at the ATP Master Series Hamburg clay court tournament. Nadal has never lost to Federer on clay (leads 5-0) and in fact has a 7-3 advantage in their career head-to-head although the Swiss player has 10 Grand Slam titles to Nadal's 2. Nadal has won the last 81 matches he has played on clay and beat Federer on clay in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 at the ATP Master Series Monte Carlo tournament four weeks ago. Federer has won the ATP Master Series Hamburg tournament 3 times before (2002, 2004, 2005) while Nadal has never won the tournament. However, Nadal has won the last two French Open titles (2005, 2006) and the two other Master Series titles on clay this year. No player has ever won all four clay court titles (Monte Carlo, Rome, Hamburg and Paris) in one year.
Friday, May 18, 2007
Tennis: Federer vs Moya; Nadal vs Hewitt, Serena loses
On the men's side, World #1 Roger Federer continued his recent shaky play by struggling to beat Spaniard hottie David Ferrer 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 to move into a semifinals at the German Open in Hamburg versus former Spanish hottie Carlos Moya who dismissed the heir apparent Sebian Novak Djokovic in a tough 3-setter 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-5. World #2 Rafael Nadal extended his clay streak to 80(!) match wins by defeating Chilean hottie and 2007 Australian Open finalist Fernando Gonzalez for the second time in two weeks, this time 6-4, 6-4. Nadal will play Aussie assh*le Lleyton Hewitt who took out talented youngster Nicolas Almagro in straight sets 6-3, 6-4.
Another Nadal versus Federer final on Sunday could be interesting but if Federer were to somehow win that match it might turn around his recent funky play.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
May 17 is 2nd International Day of Homophobia
Last year Mad Professah noted that May 17th was chosen by the organizers of IDAHO because of its significance as the anniversary of the date in 1990 when the World Health Organization removed homosexuality from their list of mental disorders. Interestingly, May 17th is also the anniversary of the date that same-sex couples could begin to get legally married in Massachusetts.
This year the organizers of IDAHO are promoting a petition for a universal decriminalization of homosexuality:
Petition “For a universal decriminalization of homosexuality”
The Universal declaration of Human Rights
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (adopted by General Assembly resolution 2200A (XXI) of 16 December 1966, entry into force 23 March 1976)
1. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation.
2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
The Human Rights Committee’s decision in Toonen v. Australia (04 April 1994)
We ask the United Nations
to request a universal abolition of the so-called “crime of homosexuality”, of all “sodomy laws”, and laws against so-called “unnatural acts” in all the countries where they still exist.
3rd Anniversary of Massachusetts Marriage Equality Today
Today, three years later, the world has not ended.
However, the right of same-sex couples to get married in Massachusetts is hanging by a thread. 365gay.com is reporting that a second vote to place a constitutional amendment on the November 2008 ballot is currently too close to call. A state constitutional amendment in Massachusetts requires only the support of 50 state legislators out of 200 sitting as a constitutional convention in two consecutive sessions of the state Legislature. On Janury 2, 2007 the state legislature passed the constitutional amendment with 61 votes in favor (and 132 votes opposed) on the very last day of the previous legislative session.
Today's Boston Globe reports ("Legislative support slim for same-sex marriage ban") that many Massachusetts politicans are doing their best to defeat the constitutional amendment:
A proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages is clinging to a razor-thin margin in the Legislature, as major political figures from Beacon Hill to Capitol Hill step up their attempts to kill the measure.
With a lawmaker who opposes same-sex marriage eyeing a new job and several others ready to switch their votes, Beacon Hill leaders and gay political activists are convinced that they are within at most four votes, and perhaps as few as three, of stopping the amendment from reaching the 2008 ballot and preventing a heated campaign that could draw energy and money away from the Democratic Party's national efforts.
At least four lawmakers who had initially voted for the gay marriage ban in January have signaled that they may switch their votes, the sources said, giving same-sex marriage supporters growing confidence they can kill the measure and spare Massachusetts from becoming the epicenter once again in the country's cultural wars during a presidential election. On May 17, 2004, just six months before the last presidential contest, the nation's first legal same-sex weddings took place in Massachusetts, following a landmark state high court decision.
A final vote by the Legislature on the constitutional ban could take place as early as June 14, when lawmakers reconvene at a constitutional convention, but would be delayed by leaders if the votes are not yet in place.
Drug Companies and Poor Countries Battle Over Anti-HIV Drug Prices
In Thailand, one day after failing to come to a price agreement with Abbott Laboratories about its anti-HIV drugs Aluvia and Kaletra, the Health Minister Mongkol Na Songkhla announced that the country will not issue compulsory licences to produce low-cost versions of anti-retroviral drugs as long as pharmaceutical companies match the price of generic versions of those drugs.
The Thai government in November 2006 and January  issued compulsory licenses to produce lower-cost versions of Merck's antiretroviral Efavirenz and Kaletra, respectively. Since then, the government and drug companies have continued negotiations. Abbott earlier this week offered to sell Aluvia at a reduced price in Thailand on the condition that the country agrees not to allow generic versions of the drug into the market, Siriwat Thiptaradol, secretary-general of Thailand's Food and Drug Administration, said. Abbott offered to sell Aluvia for about 34,000 baht, or $1,000, per person annually. Indian generic drug maker Matrix Laboratories has offered to sell a generic version of Aluvia to Thailand for 24,324 baht, or $695, per person annually. Siriwat said that the offer would be considered by Mongkol. Under the terms of the offer, Thailand would have to agree not to seek compulsory licensing for Aluvia and the price of Aluvia could not be reduced any further (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/15). According to Reuters Alertnet, Aluvia is needed in Thailand because it is a heat-stable version of Kaletra and eliminates the need for costly refrigeration (Reuters AlertNet, 5/15).
The recent actions of Thailand and Brazil are being noticed by other pharmaceutical companies. Boehringer Ingelheim announced on Tuesday May 15 that it will sell its anti-retroviral drug nevirapine at a reduced price of 50% or 90% below it's previously announced prices, depending on the relative wealth of the country. Nevirapine is a widely used drug to dramatically reduce the rate of transmission of HIV from pregnant mothers to their newborn children. When the drug is given in pill form to HIV-positive mothers during the end of their pregnancy and labor and to the baby in syrup form within 72 hours of birth it is found to reduce the transmision of HIV from mother to child.
[T]he drug will cost 60 cents per patient daily in 78 low-income countries and $1.20 per patient daily in 67 middle-income countries. In developed countries, the drug costs between $10 and $14 per patient daily. The company also will waive a 5% royalty fee, reporting requirements and other existing obligations for generic drug producers that have World Health Organization approval to make nevirapine using voluntary licenses.The story doesn't clarify which countries will qualify as "low-income" and which will qualify as "middle-income." Regardless, Mad Professah is happy to see that countries standing up to drug companies is starting to result in drug companies making their drugs cheaper to more people which will save many lives around the world.
Proposition 71 Upheld By California State Supreme Court
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Race to Replace Millender-McDonald Heats Up
Nineteen candidates have filed nomination papers to be on the ballot in a June 26 special election in the 37th Congressional District.
State Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach), Assemblywoman Laura Richardson (D-Long Beach) and Valerie McDonald, Millender-McDonald's daughter, are considered the front-runners in the race to represent the district that encompasses Compton, Carson, much of Long Beach and parts of South L.A.
The other candidates are Democrats Lee Davis, Mervin Evans, Felicia Ford, Bill Francisco Grisolia, Peter Mathews, George A. Parmer Jr., Jeffrey S. Price and Ed Wilson; Republicans Leroy Joseph "L.J." Guillory, John M. Kanaley, Jeffrey "Lincoln" Leavitt, Gwen Patrick and Teri Ramirez; Daniel Abraham Brezenoff of the Green Party; Herb Peters, a Libertarian; and Al Salehi Agassi, an Independent.
A final list of candidates will be released after the Los Angeles County registrar-recorder verifies signatures submitted by candidates. Each candidate is required to submit 40 valid signatures. If no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, a runoff between the top candidates in each party will be held Aug. 21.
However today the leading candidate Richardson was blasted as being homophobic by openly gay State Senator Sheila J. Kuehl who has endorsed her colleague State Senator Jenny Oropeza for the open congressional seat. Kuehl is referring to an unfortunate incident in 1996 when Richardson was running against openly lesbian Gerrie Schipske for a Long Beach area State Assembly seat and sent a mailer during her losing campaign for the Democratic nomination in which she claimed that Schipske was "committed to the radical gay agenda" and "strongly backed by ultra-liberal Santa Monica Assemblymember Sheila Kuehl, the Assembly's only openly gay member." Schipske decided over the weekend NOT to enter the race for the 37th district Congressional seat.
Jasmyne Cannick was quoted in the Capitol Weekly article ("Kuehl slams Richardson in 37th C.D; Schipske out") saying "Richardson is not homophobic. Ten years ago was 10 years ago, and a lot can happen in that span of time, including education and new sense of right and wrong. Ten years ago, Richardson looked at things differently as it related to the gay community and in that 10 years, she's changed."
As far as MadProfessah can discern, Richardson is not a co-sponsor of any of the California LGBT community's major legislative priorities in the State Legislature: Mark Leno's AB 43 (Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act) or Kuehl's SB 777 (Student Civil Rights Act) or John Laird's AB 14 (Civil Rights Act of 2007). A lack of such sponsorship does not mean that she's homophobic, but since most of the Democratic caucus is signed on to all or at least one of these pieces of legislation it is significant that Richardson's name is nowhere to be seen, especially considering she represents a district which is putting on the third largest gay and lesbian pride celebration in the country this weekend.
Today, Cannick posted multiple pictures of Richardson appearing with Black LGBT activists as well as a picture of Kuehl herself appearing with Richardson from 2006. It appears as if Richardson AND Kuehl have some "splainin" to do. So far silent in the dispute is State Senator Jenny Oropeza, who may be waiting to see how the dispute between the African American and LGBT communities shakes out and hope that bolsters her candidacy.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Jerry Falwell Is Dead
The Rev. Jerry Falwell, the fundamentalist preacher who founded the Moral Majority and helped bring the language and passions of religious conservatives into American politics, died today shortly after he was found unconscious in his office at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va. He was 73 years old.
Mr. Falwell had a history of heart problems, and probably died of cardiac arrythmia, his physician, Dr. Carl Moore, said today. Mr. Falwell had no pulse when he was found, the doctor said, and efforts to revive him at the university and on the way to the hospital were unsuccessful.
Dr. Moore said Mr. Falwell was pronounced dead at 12:40 p.m. Eastern time.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Survivor Fiji Winner
"The curse of the car" continued since neither Yau-Man nor Dreamz became the "sole Survivor."
After making such a clear betrayal of trust there was very little chance the jury would vote for Dreamz, but one thing was clear: an African American would be walking away with a million dollars. Actually, two things were clear: there was no way that the third finalist, Cassandra a 42-year old college administrator at the UCLA Civil and Environmental Engineering department, would even get a vote from the jury.
For the first time in Survivor history the jury's decision was unanimous: 9-0 in favor of Earl.
UPDATE: Great minds think alike: Keith Boykin still watches Survivor, too!
Saturday, May 12, 2007
EW's Top 25 Sci-Fi Projects of the last 25 years
25. V: THE MINISERIES (1983)
24. GALAXY QUEST (1999)
23. DOCTOR WHO (1963-Present)
22. QUANTUM LEAP (1989-1993)
21. FUTURAMA (1999-2003)
20. STAR WARS: CLONE WARS (2003-2005)
19. STARSHIP TROOPERS (1997)
18. HEROES (2006-Present)
17. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND (2004)
16. TOTAL RECALL (1990)
15. FIREFLY/SERENITY (2002/2005)
14. CHILDREN OF MEN (2006)
13. THE TERMINATOR/ TERMINATOR 2 (1984 /1991)
12. BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985)
11. LOST (2004-Present)
10. THE THING (1982)
9. ALIENS (1986)
8. STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION (1987-1994)
7. E.T. (1982)
6. BRAZIL (1985)
5. STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982)
4. THE X-FILES (1993-2002)
3. BLADE RUNNER (1982)
2. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (2003-Present)
1. THE MATRIX (1999
What would your Top 25 be?
Friday, May 11, 2007
UPDATE: Oregon Heterosexist Supremacists Targeting Recent LGBT Victories
The Oregon Family Fairness Act (enacts same-sex domestic partnerships in the state with several but not all the rights, responsibilities and benefits of marriage) and Oregon Equality Act (adds sexual orientation and gender identity to non-discrimination Oregon's statutes) would go into effect January 1, 2008 unless a ballot measure attempting to repeal the measures qualifies before then.
The Oregon Family Council, a Christian group that led the fight against the bills, on short notice summoned 500 pastors to Salem to lobby against them, said Tim Nashif, the group's political director. Rep. Diane Rosenbaum, D-Portland, chair of the House committee that held public hearings on the bills, received more than 1,000 calls and e-mails. Some were so threatening that she was escorted to and from public hearings by Oregon State Police officers.
But since the bills passed, calls and e-mails from both supporters and opponents have dwindled to a trickle.
That raises the question of whether there is sufficient momentum among opponents to put the two measures before voters in the November 2008 election. To do so, they must collect 55,179 signatures from registered voters within 90 days after the Legislature adjourns.
The Oregon Family Council proved it has the clout to organize a referendum with its successful campaign to put Measure 36 on the ballot. But the council says it will not refer the laws.
Jack Brown of Grants Pass, chairman of the Constitution Party of Oregon, says he and other members will. They are forming an independent committee to organize a referral effort and file with the Oregon Secretary of State by Monday, he said.
The group sees the anti-discrimination bill as granting special rights to gays and lesbians. And domestic partnerships fly in the face of Measure 36, Brown said. The bills represent "a flagrant violation of the public trust by elected representatives," he said.
Basic Rights Oregon is the main group which has fought and defeated past anti-LGBT ballot measures in Oregon and will be the central organizers to defend the hard-fought victories of equal rights for all LGBT citizens of Oregon in the face of any future ballot measures.
PhRMA Wins Another One, Everyone Else Loses
So, despite recent good news like Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva refusing to pay price-gouging amounts for anti-HIV meds from Merck and former U.S. President William Jefferson Clinton and his charitable foundation's success at negotiating lower-cost meds for second-line anti-HIV treatment for patients in low- and middle-income countries to a mere US$339 per person per year, in the United States the pharmaceutical companies are running "buck wild."
The Associated Press reports "In a triumph for the pharmaceutical industry, the Senate killed a drive to allow consumers to buy prescription drugs from abroad at a significant savings from domestic prices." The legislation to allow imports of FDA-approved medicines from other industrialized nations (a practice used by other industrialized nations themselves) was sponsored by North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan (D) and has long been supported by the vast majority of the American public in opinion polls.
Yet right there on the floor of the U.S. Senate yesterday afternoon, 49 senators [including 16 Democrats] voted through a poison pill amendment, invalidating Dorgan's legislation and protecting drug industry profiteering. The sheer disregard for the truth and for consistency when it came to both the policy and politics of this vote was, in a word, stunning.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Federer Loses (Again)
Federer made 44 unforced errors, compared to Volandri's 23. He made only two forehand winners, which most tennis commentators call "the best shot in tennis."
World #3 Andy Roddick also lost in Rome today, to clay court specialist Argentinian Juan Ignacio Chela 6-0, 6-4.
World #2 Rafael Nadal racked up his 74th consecutive clay court win despite going to the hospital for a dizzy spell earlier in the day by defeating Michael Youzhny 6-2 6-2.
UPDATE: The Hussy Speaks!
This week Towleroad has the dish, from Chevalier's side. We have links to revelations, pictures, and more and we find out that Lord Brown was more than twice the kid's age (27 to 59 now) and that the relationship started when Jeff was 23.
Nadal/Moya Beat Federer/Wawrinka in Rome
The Spaniards won 6-4, 7-6(5). Sheeeesh, will Federer ever beat Nadal on a clay court?
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
Oregon Governor Signs LGBT Equality Bills Into Law
A diarist named torridjoe at Daily Kos has the details of what was apparently an emotional bill signing ceremony by Governor Ted Kulongoski with over 100 LGBT activists and allies in attendance at The Capitol in Salem, Oregon on Wednesday. As torridjoe put it, this is "another reminder that ELECTIONS MATTER. These bills died in 2005 despite a Dem-led Senate and Governor's mansion; the House was still led by the GOP. In 2006 control flipped and--like magic, NOT!--now suddenly they are law."
Other sources also noted the attendance of former governor Barbara Roberts and the fact that today's historic signing ceremony of the Oregon Family Fairness Act (HB 2007) and the Oregon Equality Act (SB 2) was the culmination of at least 30 years of work. In fact, during his stint as a state legislator back in 1975 Kulongoski had introduced a bill to add sexual orientation to the list of categories protected from employment discrimination but the legislation was not enacted.
Both bills go into effect on Janury 1, 2008, if heterosexual supremacist groups do not file ballot initiatives to repeal either measure. In November 2004, Oregon narrowly passed a ballot measure to amend it's constitution to ban gay marriage and in the decade before that had been the site for nearly a dozen anti-gay ballot measures, almost all of which had been defeated, most notoriously Ballot Measure 9, which the fight against was made into an award-winning documentary by Heather MacDonald. So far, their have been no quotes from conservative "family" groups that they intend to put the civil rights of LGBT individuals of Oregon up for popular vote.
Keith Boykin Quoted Dissing Oprah
Keith Boykin, a frequent commentator on CNN who was a classmate of Mr. Obama at Harvard Law School and worked in the Clinton White House, said Ms. Winfrey’s endorsement did not mean Mr. Obama was a shoo-in for president. “Oprah was behind the movie ‘Beloved,’ and it was a flop, so it’s not true that everything she touches turns to gold,” he said.Well, first of all Keith is correct. Beloved was a hot mess. But do you really want to be quoted in the New York Times dissing a billionaire?
'Lost' And ABC Agree To Show's End
Lost has lost significant ratings heft this season, although it is still averaging over 15 million viewers per episode and is one of the most watched show on digital video recorders and on new platforms like the web and video ipods. After a sucky beginning the third season has become gripping as we have learned more about the Others and the writers gave excellent actors Elizabeth Mitchell (Juliette) and Michael Emerson (Ben) more screen time.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Uniting American Families Act Re-Introduced Today
Nowadays, both HRC and The Task Force appear to be firmly committed to passing legislation to allow "binational couples" to remain together.
Of course, the United States is behind the curve on this issue; there are nearly 18 countries that have some recognition of same-sex couples for immigration purposes.
UPDATE TUE 05/08/07 1:35PM PDT: Immigration Equality has launched a new blog in conjunction with the reintroduction of UAFA.
Fallout of "May Day Melee" Continues
KNBC-TV is reporting that the LAPD Deputy Chief who was the highest-ranking officer on duty during the melee has been demoted to commander and another high-ranking commander has been reassigned.
In addition to the reduction in rank, Cayler "Lee" Carter was placed on home assignment while a series of investigations continue into the rally last Tuesday that ended with officers firing foam-rubber bullets and using batons to strike some demonstrators and media gathered in the park.
Carter, a 33-year veteran of the LAPD, is commanding officer of operations at the department's Central Bureau.
Meanwhile, Cmdr. Louis Gray -- the second-in-command during the rally and assistant commander of the Central Bureau -- was reassigned to the Office of the Chief of Operations, Bratton said. Gray is a 39-year department veteran.
In addition, the Los Angeles Times has a story up on its website entitled "Bratton moves to address morale of officers following harsh words" in which a "high-level city official" offers up a juicy quote to the city's paper of record:
At 6:15 p.m. on May 1, about the time that officers began advancing on the crowd to drive them from the park, Bratton was arriving at the Sheraton hotel in Universal City to attend a political fundraising reception for Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, officials said.
Bratton stayed at the Cooley reception only briefly, a spokeswoman said, but it meant he was not in MacArthur Park when the melee broke out.
"It raises grave concerns about our city's commitment to public safety when, during the largest and most controversial demonstration of the year, our mayor is out of the country and our police chief is schmoozing with political donors at a fundraiser," said one high-level city official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to avoid hurting relations with the powerful chief.
Dayum! This is the second time the Times has been the conduit for the Establishment to communicate reasons for why the LAPD should not to be blamed for the events in the Park on may 1. First it was the idea that "elite officers" had left the scene before the instigators started throwing "missiles" at police officers. Now, they're trying to throw the fecal matter on Bratton himself.
Are you sure you want another five years at the head of this Police Force, Chief?
Who Is It OK To Hate?
read more | digg story
Monday, May 07, 2007
Karl Rove is an Atheist!
Has anyone in the Bush administration confided in you about being an atheist? Well, I don’t talk that much to them—maybe people think I do. I know something which is known to few but is not a secret. Karl Rove is not a believer, and he doesn’t shout it from the rooftops, but when asked, he answers quite honestly. I think the way he puts it is, “I’m not fortunate enough to be a person of faith.”Although this fact has apparently not been previously widely publicized, it has not been common knowledge.
However, with Political Animal Kevin Drum also posting about this story this weekend, this will probably change soon. Mad Professah agrees with Kevin that Rove has always appeared to be the kind of guy who is not a true believer in anything, but was basically doing whatever it took to deliver the "W" for his team.
I must say it is odd to think I have something in common with Karl Rove: We both do not believe in the existence of God.
Former Math Professor Earns $1.7 BILLION in 2006
1) James Simons,Renassance technologies, $1.7 Billion
2) Ken Griffin,Citadel Investments, $1.4 billion
3) Edward Lampert, ESL Investments, $1.3 Billion
4) George Soros, Soros Fund, $950 Million
5) Steven Cohen,SAC Capital, $900 Million
6) Bruce Kovner,Caxton Associates,$715 Million
7) Paul Tudor Jones,Tudor Investments, $690 Million
8) Tim Barakett, Atticus Capital, $675 Million
9) David Tepper,Appaloosa Management, $670 Million
10) Carl Icahn, Icahn Partners, $600 Million
The Los Angeles Times quotes Stephen Lerner from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) as saying about such massive salaries: "It's just not healthy for society."
Hey, now when a student says "what is this math good for?" I can reply, "If you're good at it, you could beome a billionaire!"
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Statistical Analysis Reveals Racial Biases in NBA
The estimated difference is 0.2 fouls per player on the court per game, which comes to 1 foul per game for a team with all black players. Also, teams give black players less playing time (on average) when the refs are white--this looks like it hurt them more than the foul calls.
Looking at the raw data, white players commit lots more fouls per minute than blacks, but much of this can be explained by whites being more likely to be centers (presumably a more physical position with fouls as part of the job) and benchwarmers. Which reminds me that the data show a familiar pattern also noted in historical baseball data by Bill James: the black players are, by most measures, better than the whites (more points scored, more points per minute, more minutes played, more likely to be starters), which is consistent with discrimination in hiring (picking good-but-not-great whites over good-but-not-great blacks).
Finally, black referees call more fouls than white refs--lots more for white players, but slightly more for black players too. Price and Wolfers characterize this as bias in judging white players but not in judging black players, but another interpretation is that black referees are just tougher about calling fouls in general
Ms. Cook likes the paper and so does Mad Professah. I see it as an excellent example of mathematics and social justice, the topic of the conference I attended last week. One aspect of mathematics and social justice is the use of mathematics to highlight and understand issues of social justice, in this case the existence of race-based disparities in modern society.
This favorable opinion of the article has not been shared by the NBA, its players and many other commentators in the blogosphere and mainsteam media.
Today is 05/06/07!
Backlash against '24' building?
After peaking in the ratings last year, Fox's thriller "24" has been getting dumped on by seemingly everyone in this, its sixth season. Critics and fans alike are aiming tomatoes at the stage, carping about the soapy and repetitive plotlines that unspool Jack's unlikely familial past, tiresome romantic triangles in the security bureaucracy and endless bickering among Oval Office advisors.Bizarrely, the article doesn't seem to state the obvious that the reason for the decline in 24 is the competition: NBC's Heroes airs in the same time slot, Mondays at 9pm.
Last week, with a fresh episode designed to lay the groundwork for what the creators promise will be a typically suspenseful finale next month, "24's" ratings in the key young-adult category swooned to their lowest level in more than three years, with a total audience of just 10.4 million, according to figures from Nielsen Media Research.
More than one-third of viewers have bailed since the special four-hour season premiere that aired over two consecutive nights back in January. And if that wasn't enough bad news for the series, last week "24" was one of the prime-time shows that the Federal Communications Commission singled out in urging Congress to curb TV violence.
It's unsurprising really. What show can sustain intense critical and ratings success in its 6th season? ER and The Simpsons come to mind but those are all-time classic shows.
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Newsweek: Bush approval hits all time low of 28 percent
read more | digg story
Brazil Puts HIV+ People Before Patents
Merck offered Brazil almost a third off the cost - pricing the pills at $1.10 instead of $1.59.
But Brazil wanted its discount pegged at same level as Thailand, which pays just $0.65 per pill.
Now, though, it will source Indian-made versions of Efavirenz for just $0.45 each.
Nearly 75,000 Brazilians use Efavirenz although the country distributes free anti-HIV drugs to 180,000 of its citizens. By issuing the compulsory licence, Brazil is likely to save $240 million between now and 2012 when the Merck patent for the drug expires, the Brazil Health Minstry exstimates.
The evil Michael Weinstein, executive director of the equally monstrous AIDS Healthcare Foundation, agrees with Mad Professah (just this once!) that Brazil is doing a wonderful thing by putting patients before patents (and profits). "We salute the courage of countries such as Brazil, Thailand and Mexico who are fighting to ensure drug access for AIDSpatients the world over. Today is a victory for AIDS activists and patientseverywhere, and proof that drug companies will go down in defeat every time they place themselves in the way of justice for AIDS patients."
Friday, May 04, 2007
Colorado close to passing gay rights bill
UPDATE FRI 5/4/07 8:12PM: The Colorado State legislature has passed the gay rights bill and Governor Bill Ritter has said that he intends to sign it into law.
Oregon Completes West Coast Domestic Partnership Trifecta
At the beginning of the year, California was the only state west of Pennsylvania to have a statewide domestic partnership statute. Now it is not even June and the entire west coast will be comprised of states that have statewide domestic partnership laws! (Alaska has their own drama with domestic partnership benefits for state employees which has been going on for years but I don't really consider them part of the "Left Coast" anyway.) In addition, New Hampshire has enacted a civil unions bill, New Jersey's previously enacted civil unions bill came into effect and Iowa, Oregon and Colorado are all very likely to pass sexual orientation and gender identity non-discrimination bills; Oregon and Iowa already have!
Thursday, May 03, 2007
LAPD Nearly Causes Riot At Peaceful Immigrants Rights March
The Los Angeles blogosphere and mainstream media are buzzing about the violent actions of the Los Angeles Police Department during the May 1 Immigrants Rights march at Macarthur Park in Los Angeles. Last year's immigrants rights marches attracted hundreds of thousands of people and zero incidents of violence. This year's march only attracted tens of thousands of people and ended with numerous videotaped and documented incidents of violence by the police!
The Los Angeles Times and New York Times both are covering the story, shocked by how their fellow journalists were roughed up by police officers, particularly since the LAPD operates under court-ordered agreements and consent decrees that are designed to prevent exactly these types of situations that occurred on Tuesday.
House Passes Federal Hate Crimes Act 237-180
Federal Hate Crimes Bill to be Voted on in U.S. House
The legislation adds sexual orientation and gender identity to previously enacted categories which trigger classification of certain crimes as hate crimes.
UPDATE THU 5/3/07 10:16AM: The White House has released a statement that it will likely advise the President to veto the federal hate crimes bill if it were to reach his desk!
Geeesh, in 7 years the Preznit has vetoed two bills (one on stem cell research two years ago and the one on Iraq war funding just two days ago) and now he's threatening to veto this?
The White House, in a statement, said state and local criminal laws already provide penalties for the crimes defined by the bill and "there has been no persuasive demonstration of any need to federalize such a potentially large range of violent crime enforcement."
It also questioned the constitutionality of federalizing the acts of violence barred by the bill and said that if it reaches the president's desk "his senior advisers would recommend that he veto the bill."
The White House also noted that the bill would leave out other classes such as the elderly, members of the military or police officers