On March 14, a group of Ugandan LGBT activists filed suit in federal court in Massachusetts against evangelist preacher Scott Lively, who is the founder of the Springfield-based Abiding Truth Ministries. The group, Sexual Minorities Uganda, is accusing Lively of violating international law by inciting the persecution of LGBT people in Uganda. It is suing Lively under the alien tort statute, which permits foreigners to sue in American courts when the allegations involve the violation of international law. MassEquality Executive Director Kara Suffredini issued the following statement in response to the lawsuit: “Scott Lively can claim that he has not harmed anyone by speaking out against LGBT people in Uganda, but that does not make it true. In 2009, he traveled to Uganda and preached that gay people sodomize children. After Lively’s appearance, the Ugandan parliament proposed a bill imposing the death penality on gay Ugandans. The most recent Human Rights Report on Uganda from the State Department notes that Uganda is known for engaging in ‘serious human rights abuses’ which include acts of ‘violence and discrimination’ against LGBT people. To travel to Uganda and slander LGBT people is to incite grave violence against them. Lively’s words and actions are [...]
“Take that bone out of your nose and call me back.” –Rush Limbaugh Conservatives like to say they’re opposed on principle to government funding for public radio. Last year, for example, the GOP-led Congress voted to stop federal funding to NPR and the CPB. If they really care about taxpayers dollars going to radio that can stand on its own two feet, perhaps it’s time for the Department of Defense to join more than 140 advertisers that have stopped advertising on Rush Limbaugh’s show and drop the show from Armed Forces Network. Why? It’s disrespectful to the women and people of color who serve in the armed forces. As VoteVets states, Rush Limbaugh has a freedom of speech and can say what he wants, but in light of his horribly misogynistic comments, American Forces Radio should no longer give him a platform. Our entire military depends on troops respecting each other – women and men. There simply can be no place on military airwaves for sentiments that would undermine that respect. When many of our female troops use birth control, for Limbaugh to say they are “sluts” and “prostitutes” is beyond the pale. It isn’t just disrespectful to our women serving our country, but [...]
The MBTA debacle should have been a foreseeable crisis and one that was avoided. I now ask: What is another crisis on the horizon? Prison overcrowding. PRISON OVERCROWDING At 140%+ capacity, we know from other state’s experience that prison overcrowding is a disaster and problems have and will come from this crisis. The prison population is only going to go up. In 2009, Massachusetts taxpayers paid $25,000 to find out that our state’s Department of Correction population is going to grow approximately 26 percent, from 11,000 inmates at present to nearly 14,000 inmates, by 2019. And with the corresponding increase in inmates, we will also see an increase in the budget. When the population grows, so too does the budget. We have a big problem on our hands and it very costly. The cost to build, staff, operate and maintain new prisons to house an additional 3,000 inmates would be enormous. The DOC has no control over who comes to its doors or for how long the inmate stays, so the expected population growth is not the DOC’s fault. This is only going to be made worse by the Massachusetts’ three strikes law, which despite best intentions, research from other states where this was implemented and personal [...]
The notion that the MBTA ‘suddenly’ has to cut services and increase fees by a 43% because of a $160 million budget gap next year reeks of irresponsibility. Not just on the part of the MBTA, but on all parties involved. People depend on the MBTA. It is a very important public commodity. I am a regular user of the MBTA Providence-Boston line. Not only how, but why did it come to this? Were there not revenue projections? Did this problem sneak up on us where we did not have a chance to hold hearings over the years? What happened here? The MBTA – It is inconceivable that the MBTA did not know that their budget was going to be in the red. If the MBTA knew there was going to be a problem, why was more not done earlier? The Executive Branch – The idea that there is no money to be found, yet there are budget problems in various agencies is a red flag that there are more problems on the horizon. I don’t care if it is a Democrat or Republican administration. This is unacceptable. The Legislative Branch – Legislators are supposed to watch executive agencies and their [...]
Bloomberg News released a brand new “Sucker Index” today. It created the Sucker Index with 2010 data from the US Census and annual reports from state lottery commissions. The total dollar amount of prizes awarded was subtracted from ticket sales, and then the difference was divided by the total personal income of each state’s residents. While many are demanding the rich should pay higher taxes, instead government continues to shift more of the burden to The Lottery Class. Massachusetts came in #2 nationally for playing its citizens for suckers. The possible addition of casinos and state lottery internet gambling may allow the state to capture the top spot next time. Click here to see Bloomberg’s two page PDF of its rankings. The Suckers Index did not include perhaps the biggest “sucker” factor about government’s gambling program of state lotteries and casinos: most gambling operators and public officials who support them rarely gamble themselves. They are “The Smartest Guys NOT in the Room.” Les Bernal
Massachusetts received an “A-” in government spending transparency, according to Following the Money 2012: How the States Rank on Providing Online Access to Government Spending Data, our (MASSPIRG’s) third annual report of its kind. State Treasurer Steven Grossman and Executive Office of Administration and Finance Secretary Jay Gonzalez accepted a giant report card today for their leadership in making government spending more transparent and accessible to the public. Out of all 50 states, Massachusetts tied with Louisiana and came in 4th place with a score of 92 and a grade of “A-”. In order to determine how well states provide online access to government spending, each state’s transparency website was analyzed and assigned a grade from zero to 100. The score is based on 13 scoring criteria measuring searchability and the breadth of information provided. Click here to check out the report card and read the release.
Yesterday, Mitt Romney identified three targets he will attack if elected: health care, women, and passenger rail transportation. Here’s the three choice bits of this very brief video: “Of course you get rid of Obamacare (sic), that’s the easy one” “Planned Parenthood — we’re going to get rid of that.” “The subsidy for Amtrak — I would eliminate that.” This, from the “electable” candidate who’s not crazy?
The Massachusetts Martyr in the news once again. Colbert: The Colbert Report Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,Video Archive
(Cross-posted from The COFAR Blog) “I want to shake you all,” the woman said through an interpreter. It was a plea to the impassive panel before her of members of the House and Senate Ways and Means Committees, none of whom could really have more than an inkling of what it must be like to live, as this person does, with both deafness and blindness. I didn’t catch the name of the woman, who testified at a hearing on the state budget in Gardner auditorium at the State House on March 9. But her message was clear. She wanted to stop the yearly cycle of budget cuts that continually threaten her lifeline to the outside world. Specifically, she was referring to the proposed elimination in Governor Patrick’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget of $450,000 for a program to provide her and other deaf and blind people with community-based support services. Yes, $450,000 for a program to provide interpreters and other assistance in daily living to people who are both deaf and blind. It’s apparently something this administration can’t bring itself to support, despite its claim to be a pioneer in developing community-based services for the disabled. “Can you imagine being deaf and blind and trying to go food shopping [...]