Daily Archive: 10/22/2014

Oct 22 2014

Blackwater Mercenaries Convicted for 2007 Baghdad

Three security guards who worked for private security contractor, Blackwater, were found guilty of manslaughter stemming from a 2007 shooting of unarmed civilians in Baghdad, Iraq. A fourth guard was found guilty of murder. All are facing long prison terms.

The Nisour Square massacre in 2007 left 17 people dead and 20 seriously injured after the guards working for the US State Department fired heavy machine guns and grenade launchers from their armoured convoy in the mistaken belief they were under attack by insurgents.

But attempts to prosecute the guards have previously foundered because of a series of legal mistakes by US officials, and the case had attracted widespread attention in Iraq as a symbol of apparent American immunity.

Now, after a 10-week trial and 28 days of deliberation, a jury in Washington has found three of the men – Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard – guilty of a total of 13 charges of voluntary manslaughter and a total of 17 charges of attempted manslaughter.

The fourth defendant, Slatten, who was alleged to have been first to open fire, was found guilty of a separate charge of first-degree murder. Slough, Liberty and Heard were found guilty of using firearms in relation to a crime of violence, a charge which can alone carry up to a 30-year mandatory sentence.The Nisour Square massacre in 2007 left 17 people dead and 20 seriously injured after the guards working for the US State Department fired heavy machine guns and grenade launchers from their armoured convoy in the mistaken belief they were under attack by insurgents.

But attempts to prosecute the guards have previously foundered because of a series of legal mistakes by US officials, and the case had attracted widespread attention in Iraq as a symbol of apparent American immunity.

Now, after a 10-week trial and 28 days of deliberation, a jury in Washington has found three of the men – Paul Slough, Evan Liberty and Dustin Heard – guilty of a total of 13 charges of voluntary manslaughter and a total of 17 charges of attempted manslaughter.

The fourth defendant, (Nicholas) Slatten, who was alleged to have been first to open fire, was found guilty of a separate charge of first-degree murder. Slough, Liberty and Heard were found guilty of using firearms in relation to a crime of violence, a charge which can alone carry up to a 30-year mandatory sentence. [..]

Jeremy Ridgeway, another member of the convoy known as Raven 23, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in 2008 and agreed to testify against his colleagues in exchange for a more lenient sentence.

The Legal Director of Center for Constitutional Rights, Baher Azmy issued this statement upon hearing the verdicts:

While today’s verdict cannot bring back the innocent Iraqis killed at Nisoor Square, it is a step towards full accountability for Blackwater’s actions. However, holding individuals responsible is not enough.  If corporations like Blackwater, now known as Academi, are granted the rights accorded to “people” they must also bear the responsibilities.  Private military contractors played a major role in the pressure to go to war in Iraq and have engaged in a variety of war crimes and atrocities during the invasion and occupation, while reaping billions of dollars in profits from the war.  To this day, the U.S. government continues to award Blackwater and its successor entities millions of dollars each year in contracts, essentially rewarding war crimes.

The may be a great deal of satisfaction that these men will pay the price for their crimes but their boss, Eric Prince, and the other architects of war crimes remain free.

While Barack Obama pledged to reign in mercenary forces when he was a senator, once he became president he continued to employ a massive shadow army of private contractors. Blackwater – despite numerous scandals, congressional investigations, FBI probes and documented killings of civilians in both Iraq and Afghanistan – remained a central part of the Obama administration’s global war machine throughout his first term in office.

Just as with the systematic torture at Abu Ghraib, it is only the low level foot-soldiers of Blackwater that are being held accountable. Prince and other top Blackwater executives continue to reap profits from the mercenary and private intelligence industries. Prince now has a new company, Frontier Services Group, which he founded with substantial investment from Chinese enterprises and which focuses on opportunities in Africa. Prince recently suggested that his forces at Blackwater could have confronted Ebola and ISIS. “If the administration cannot rally the political nerve or funding to send adequate active duty ground forces to answer the call, let the private sector finish the job,” he wrote.

None of the U.S. officials from the Bush and Obama administrations who unleashed Blackwater and other mercenary forces across the globe are being forced to answer for their role in creating the conditions for the Nisour Square shootings and other deadly incidents involving private contractors. Just as the main architect of the CIA interrogation program, Jose Rodriguez, is on a book tour for his propagandistic love letter to torture, Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives, so too is Erik Prince pushing his own revisionist memoir, Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror.

Oct 22 2014

Arming the Syrian Kurds. What Could Go Wrong?

The Obama administration has decided to arm the Kurdish militants in Kobnani to fight ISIS. What could possibly go wrong?

Isis claims it has US airdrop of weapons intended for Kurds

ยท Pentagon investigating claims but admits one load missing and it would be embarrassing if it ended up in terror group’s hands

ยท Turkey criticises arms airdrops saying the strategy will never lead to desired results

A US airdrop of arms to besieged Kurds in Kobani appears to have missed its target and ended up in the hands of Islamic State (Isis) militants.

Video footage released by Isis shows what appears to be one of its fighters for in desert scrubland with a stack of boxes attached to a parachute. The boxes are opened to show an array of weapons, some rusty, some new. A canister is broken out to reveal a hand grenade.

The Pentagon said it was investigating the claim but admitted that one of its airdrops had gone missing. If confirmed, it would be an embarrassment for the US, given the advanced technology available to its air force.

The seemingly bungled airdrop comes against a steady stream of US-supplied weapons being lost to Isis forces, mainly from the dysfunctional Iraqi army. Isis is reported to have stolen seven American M1 Abrams tanks from three Iraqi army bases in Anbar province last week.

After Ignoring ISIS Assault on Kobani, U.S. Launches Major Strikes & Arms Turkey’s Kurdish Foes

Earlier this month, Secretary of State John Kerry said the United States would not act to prevent the Islamic State from seizing Kobani because the Syrian Kurdish town was not a “strategic objective.” But as news cameras on the Turkish-Syrian border showed Islamic State fighters assaulting a town in plain sight, the U.S.-led coalition responded with the most airstrikes of its Syria campaign. The U.S.-led coalition has also begun dropping air supplies of weapons and aid to the Syrian Kurds, a move it had resisted for weeks. Now Turkey says it will open its border with Syria to let Iraqi Kurdish fighters join the fight. The Turkish government had opposed aiding the Syrian Kurds in Kobani because of their links to Turkey’s longtime foe, the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, the PKK. To help us sort out this complicated picture, we are joined by longtime international law professor and former United Nations Special Rapporteur Richard Falk, who has just returned from four months in Turkey.

Oct 22 2014

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Alexis Goldstein: Do Democrats want to fix inequality? Or just complain about it?

If progressives think they’ve got any chance at midterm victory, it’s time to focus on dramatic solutions for young and minority voters – before it’s too late

On Friday, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen warned that “income and wealth inequality are near their highest levels in the past hundred years”. On Saturday, Senator Elizabeth Warren called for federal student loan refinancing, and declared: “The game is rigged, and the Republicans rigged it.” On Sunday, along with a secret memo that threatened “crushing” defeats, there was the headline on the front page of the New York Times: “Black Vote Seen as Last Hope for Democrats to Hold Senate”.

Inequality: it’s all anybody can talk about … except Democrats on the campaign trail who, with two weeks before Election Day, desperately need to turn out the very people so disproportionately affected by it – young and minority voters. [..]

Warren – the most progressive senator in America the most unequal nation on Earth – stumped for Democrats in tight races in Iowa and Colorado and Minnesota, pushing her debt refinancing plan and “a giant pipeline of ideas”. The crowds roared. Now imagine how they’d respond to tuition-free college, to a home they could actually afford. Imagine that instead of an attack ad. Imagine how they’d vote.

“The fight comes to you,” Elizabeth Warren told the swing voters. Democrats are fighting, alright. Now they just can’t forget who and what they’re fighting for.

Cindy Casares: We are reliving Jim Crow in America. Want proof? Look no further than Texas

Conservatives and the US supreme court like to mess with minorities. But that doesn’t mean we won’t fight for our most basic right

Never has it been more important to vote in Texas than in 2014. Every state office is up for grabs this Election Day, which means that voters have a chance to really change something after the Republican-controlled legislature spent the last session eviscerating women’s reproductive rights – closing at least 30 safe, legal abortion clinics, enacting 24-hour waiting period and, until last week, leaving only seven clinics open across the state. For good measure, Texas politicians gutted public school funding by billions and carved up voting districts so ridiculous that one – congressional district 35 – is a long, nonsensical sliver that stretches from Austin to San Antonio, 70 miles away.

The only problem is that nearly 700,000 of those voters who could change something … might not be able to vote.

We are reliving the Jim Crow era in the United States – and nowhere more so than here in Texas. Ever since we became a majority-minority state in 2004, Republicans have passed law after law to stem the tide of demographically-wrought political progress. During the last two legislative sessions, seemingly every major law passed was created to disenfranchise people of color who, despite their numbers, are still two or three times as likely as white Texans to be unemployed, live below the poverty line, lack medical insurance and have low educational attainment. The new laws dismantling minority voting districts, cutting educational funds and closing down safe abortion facilities are being challenged on their constitutionality due to the disproportionate amount of hardship they pose for the economically disadvantaged who – surprise, surprise – are more likely to be Hispanic and African American.

Christina Pelosi: It’s Othering Season: GOP Trots Out Fear ‘n’ Smear Tactics to Attack Democrats, Especially Women

There they go again: The GOP is trotting out their well-worn smear and fear tactics and swift-boating women with our gender. Enough is enough. We must reject the politics of personal destruction and choose hope over fear.

If it’s election time, it’s Othering Season for the GOP. As the New York Times (in “In Raising Immigration, G.O.P. Risks Backlash After Election”) and Bloomberg (in “Republicans Use Fear Factor in Targeting Female Democrats”) have pointed out, the GOP is once again trotting out their fear and smear tactics, using gender as a weapon against female candidates.

We know this playbook because we saw it in every election since the horrific 9/11 attacks. In both editions of Campaign Boot Camp, I reported the bipartisan polling showing that voters judge Democratic women most harshly on national security (p. 20) and that, as President Clinton pointed out back in 2006, the GOP strategy seems to be “they’ll tax you to the poorhouse and they’ll be a terrorist on every corner as you walk there” (p. 210). Some of the terms are new — Ebola, for example — but the fear and smear tactics are the same.

Tiffany Denee Jones: Why Are Black Women Dying of Breast Cancer, Even Though More White Women Are Diagnosed?

Statistically, black women are more likely to die of breast cancer than white women, even though more white women are diagnosed with it. In fact, among black women, the numbers have changed very little comparatively since the Pink Ribbon campaigning started over twenty years ago. Any statistic showing a lack of progress in fighting cancer is heartbreaking, but what struck me was that besides the difference being accredited to economic issues, and a consequence of a lack of healthcare, the other culprit cited was Fear.

Women are dying of breast cancer because they are too afraid to even get tested.

In my work for breast cancer awareness, I speak with women of all nationalities, and they’ve confirmed these sentiments, and even expressed that fear leads them to take less appropriate treatments. The intensity of treatments, as well as the consequences of them (e.g. worrying about losing a sense of femininity because of the physical ramifications,) are too daunting to stomach for some. This means that not only are many dying from not getting tested, they are risking their lives because they’re not seeking the most appropriate treatment options. What this is saying to me is that fear is paralyzing women. Fear is killing women.

Kaen J. Greenberg: Will the War on Terror Be the Template for the Ebola Crisis?

These days, two “wars” are in the headlines: one against the marauding Islamic State and its new caliphate of terror carved out of parts of Iraq and Syria, the other against a marauding disease and potential pandemic, Ebola, spreading across West Africa, with the first cases already reaching the United States and Europe.  Both wars seemed to come out of the blue; both were unpredicted by our vast national security apparatus; both have induced fears bordering on hysteria and, in both cases, those fears have been quickly stirred into the political stew of an American election year.

The pundits and experts are already pontificating about the threat of 9/11-like attacks on the homeland, fretting about how they might be countered, and in the case of Ebola, raising analogies to the anthrax attacks of 2001. As the medical authorities weigh in, the precedent of 9/11 seems not far from their minds. Meanwhile, Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has tried to calm the country down while openly welcoming “new ideas” in the struggle against the disease.  Given the almost instinctive way references and comparisons to terrorism are arising, it’s hard not to worry that any new ideas will turn out to be eerily similar to those that, in the post-9/11 period, defined the war on terror.

Jessica Valenti: Gamergate is loud, dangerous and a last grasp at cultural dominance by angry white men

The outrage isn’t about ‘ethics’ or even really gaming. It’s about harassing women to protest the movement for female equality

As the cultural relevance of angry white men on the internet withers away and ends, their last words – muttered angrily at an empty room – will surely be “Gamer … gate”.

The recent uproar – said to be over ethics in journalism but focused mostly on targeting outspoken women who aren’t journalists at all – is just the last, desperate gasp of misogynists facing an unwelcoming future. But this particular bitter end, while long overdue, is loud, angry and extremely dangerous.

Female game developers Brianna Wu and Zoe Quinn have fled their homes in fear after a terrifying barrage of rape and death threats. Feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian was forced to cancel a talk last week at Utah State University after the school received an email promising a “Montreal Massacre-style” mass shooting if the “craven little whore” was allowed to speak. And despite assurances from Gamergate supporters that they have no problem with women, their de facto leaders are being outed as violent misogynists. (Sample tweets: “Fat/ugly women seek out dominant men to abuse them” and “Date rape doesn’t exist”.)

It’s tempting to believe that this online row – a toxic combination of misinformation, anger and anxious masculinity – is just about one specific technology industry’s subculture, or that it will blow over. But by labeling Gamergate a “gaming problem” and attaching a hashtag to it, we’re putting unnecessary boundaries around a broader but nebulous issue: threats and harassment are increasingly how straight white men deal with a world that no longer revolves exclusively around them.

Oct 22 2014

Welcome to The Jungle

Many readers were most concerned with his exposure of health violations and unsanitary practices in the American meatpacking industry during the early 20th century, based on an investigation he did for a socialist newspaper.

The book depicts working class poverty, the lack of social supports, harsh and unpleasant living and working conditions, and a hopelessness among many workers. These elements are contrasted with the deeply rooted corruption of people in power. A review by the writer Jack London called it, “the Uncle Tom’s Cabin of wage slavery.”

WTO Meat-Labeling Ruling Jeopardizes Consumer Safeguards

by Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams

Published on Monday, October 20, 2014

In its decision, the WTO said the country-of-origin labels (also referred to as ‘COOL’) forced meatpackers to segregate and keep detailed records on imported livestock, giving them an incentive to favor U.S. livestock.



“The WTO’s continued assault against commonsense food labels is just another example of how corporate-controlled trade policy undermines the basic protections that U.S. consumers deserve,” said Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter in response to the news. “The United States should appeal the ruling and continue to fight for sensible consumer safeguards at the supermarket.”

Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, said the ruling speaks to how international trade deals weaken U.S. consumer, environmental and other protections: “Today’s ruling spotlights how these so called ‘trade’ deals are packed with non-trade provisions that threaten our most basic rights, such as even knowing the source and safety of what’s on our dinner plate.”

What’s more, Hauter added, the dispute illustrates how corporate special interests can use the WTO to evade democratic governance. According to Food & Water Watch, the U.S. meatpacking industry has unsuccessfully opposed COOL rules in Congress, the executive branch, and the courts for the last 15 years.

“The meatpacking lobby has lost the COOL debate from the court of public opinion to the Court of Appeals to the halls of Congress so they are taking their complaint to the faceless unelected bureaucrats in Geneva,” she said. “When the meat cannot get its way here in America, it is trying to use the WTO to overturn the will of the American people.”

Oct 22 2014

Not a surprise at all.

America’s ugly economic truth: Why austerity is generating another slowdown

David Dayen, Salon

Tuesday, Oct 21, 2014 07:00 AM EST

You usually think about October surprises in the political context, but we’ve had something of an economic October surprise this year. A tumultuous drop in oil prices and a significant stock market pullback underlie serious challenges for the global economy. And it points to a core problem that has really been with us for over a decade, but more acutely since the Great Recession: Countries cannot generate enough demand in the economy without a financial bubble of some sort. Sadly, the primary way to change that has been, catastrophically, shut off by the blinkered stubbornness of our policymakers.



America, with our sluggish growth, represents the positive outlier in this scenario. But pretty much everywhere, a familiar story can be told, as Neil Irwin pointed out last week. “The world economy still hasn’t recovered from the last recession,” Irwin writes, and “investors lack confidence that policy makers have the tools they would need to avert a new slide into recession after years of throwing everything they have at it to try to encourage recovery.” This is more a belated realization than a change in fundamentals. It’s almost as if investors woke up one morning and realized that this is all there is – weak growth, if that, as far as the eye can see.

But, of course, it’s not that policymakers lack the tools to avert recession. They refuse to use the tools they have.



With an intractable wage slowdown, extreme inequality keeping money in the hands of people who can’t spend it fast enough, and a persistently high trade deficit, we have almost no ability to get demand to a level consistent with full employment. And the biggest tool we can use, increased federal spending, has been overwhelmed by $2.1 trillion in cuts from the deal to end the debt ceiling crisis in 2011, including the random hacking away at the budget known as sequestration. Therefore, the economy remains relatively depressed almost by definition. You cannot have a budget deficit under 3 percent of GDP given these conditions and expect an economic surge.

Austerity amid recovery has been a disaster everywhere it’s been tried, and the fact that America’s course looks better right now than the more calamitous policy choices in Europe or the rest of the world brings little comfort. Anyway, a global slowdown, which appears to be the current path absent concerted action, will inevitably hit us at home.



Of course, the kinds of policies that could really get economies moving would be distasteful to those who have been profiting off the status quo: the global 1 percent. They don’t want higher inflation or reduced inequality or less financial engineering. But this serves as a poor excuse for policymakers, who are not contractually bound to do the bidding of the wealthy. Moreover, such selfishness happens to be counterproductive, as we’re seeing with the market slump. All things being equal, the rich do better in a growing economy than a slumping one.

The real surprise this October, sadly, would be a reemergence of the tried and true implements of economic progress. IMF managing director Christine Lagarde put it best recently when she said, “There is a real risk of subpar growth persisting for a long period of time, but what is important is that we know it can be averted.” But knowing is not enough. It’s time for the world to do something.

Oct 22 2014

TBC: Morning Musing 10.22.14

Well, I have only one article for you to ponder this morning, and I feel pretty vindicated in light of it, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone among liberals.

Obama Is a Republican

They were not wrong. In my opinion, Obama has governed as a moderate conservative-essentially as what used to be called a liberal Republican before all such people disappeared from the GOP. He has been conservative to exactly the same degree that Richard Nixon basically governed as a moderate liberal, something no conservative would deny today. (Ultra-leftist Noam Chomsky recently called Nixon “the last liberal president.”)

No jumping this morning! So how you doin’?  ๐Ÿ˜€

Oct 22 2014

Dispatches From Hellpeckersville-52

Birthdays, you know, they’re a double edged sword as you get older. Sure, you’d rather have them than not, but 52? When the hell did that happen? Of course, I no longer have any lines in my forehead, but what does that matter at this stage of the game in this podunk town? I’ll give you a little hint–it doesn’t. I do get a kick out of people pointing it out though, it cracks me up. Because they must enter my abode to see it, it’s not like I go anywhere, but I guess if I were doing it for cosmetic reason I would have done it ten years ago.

Truth be told, I don’t feel any wiser either. One would think that after a half century of living I’d have some sage advice rattling around in this head of mine, but one would be wrong. The best advice I can give anyone is: Don’t ask me! I’ve made more mistakes than one could shake a stick at, and that’s the truth. I’m not even clear on the origin of the idiom “shake a stick at” as far as I can tell it had something to do with herding goats, but don’t take my word for that, I could very well be wrong.

More mature? Not likely. Unless we’re talking about gray hair, and I can always dye that. But if you’re looking for the person who still can’t contain their inappropriate laughter in any situation without biting down painfully on the insides of their cheeks, here I am. That’s right, there’s always going to be that adolescent kid in the corner of the locker room of my mind snickering away at the least little thing, and honestly? I’m good with that.

And this year I did kind of make out like a bandit. I got a new sewing machine, which may not sound like the end all be all to some, but me and my older kid are having a great time with it. I’m teaching him how to sew. I think he’s doing a great job with it too…

not too shabby for his first project, huh? My heart is bursting with pride~

So, no, I don’t eagerly anticipate the birthday like I did when I was a kid anymore, but I’ve got a chocolate cream pie with my name on it in the fridge, and like I said–having a birthday sure beats the alternative~

Oct 22 2014

On This Day In History October 22

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

October 22 is the 295th day of the year (296th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 70 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1975,Air Force Sergeant Leonard Matlovich, a decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, is given a “general” discharge by the air force after publicly declaring his homosexuality. Matlovich, who appeared in his air force uniform on the cover of Time magazine above the headline “I AM A HOMOSEXUAL,” was challenging the ban against homosexuals in the U.S. military. In 1979, after winning a much-publicized case against the air force, his discharge was upgraded to “honorable.”

Technical Sergeant Leonard Matlovich (1943 – June 22, 1988) was a Vietnam War veteran, race relations instructor, and recipient of the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

Matlovich was the first gay service member to fight the ban on gays in the military, and perhaps the best-known gay man in America in the 1970s next to Harvey Milk. His fight to stay in the United States Air Force after coming out of the closet became a cause celebre around which the gay community rallied. His case resulted in articles in newspapers and magazines throughout the country, numerous television interviews, and a television movie on NBC. His photograph appeared on the cover of the September 8, 1975, issue of Time magazine, making him a symbol for thousands of gay and lesbian servicemembers and gay people generally. In October 2006, Matlovich was honored by LGBT History Month as a leader in the history of the LGBT community.

Born in Savannah, Georgia, he was the only son of a career Air Force sergeant. He spent his childhood living on military bases, primarily throughout the southern United States. Matlovich and his sister were raised in the Roman Catholic Church. He considered himself a “flag-waving patriot,” but always regretted that for several years he maintained the racist attitudes he’d been exposed to as a child of the South. Not long after he enlisted, the United States increased military action in Vietnam, about ten years after the French had abandoned active colonial rule there. Matlovich volunteered for service in Vietnam and served three tours of duty. He was seriously wounded when he stepped on a land mine in DA Nang.

While stationed in Florida near Fort Walton Beach, he began frequenting gay bars in nearby Pensacola. “I met a bank president, a gas station attendant – they were all homosexual,” Matlovich commented in a later interview. When he was 30, he slept with another man for the first time. He “came out” to his friends, but continued to conceal the fact from his commanding officer. Having realized that the racism he’d grown up around was wrong, he volunteered to teach Air Force Race Relations classes, which had been created after several racial incidents in the military in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He became so successful that the Air Force sent him around the country to coach other instructors. Matlovich gradually came to believe that the discrimination faced by gays was similar to that faced by African Americans.

In 1973, previously unaware of the organized gay movement, he read an interview in the Air Force Times with gay activist Frank Kameny who had counseled several gays in the military over the years. He called Kameny in Washington DC and learned that Kameny had long been looking for a gay service member with a perfect record to create a test case to challenge the military’s ban on gays. About a year later, he called Kameny again, telling him that he might be the person. After several months of discussion with Kameny and ACLU attorney David Addlestone during which they formulated a plan, he hand-delivered a letter to his Langley AFB commanding officer on March 6, 1975. When his commander asked, “What does this mean?” Matlovich replied, “It means Brown versus the Board of Education” – a reference to the 1954 landmark Supreme Court case outlawing racial segregation in public schools. For Matlovich, his test of the military’s ban on homosexuals would be equivalent to that case. . .

From the moment his case was revealed to the public, he was repeatedly called upon by gay groups to help them with fund raising and advocating against anti-gay discrimination, helping lead campaigns against Anita Bryant’s effort in Miami, Florida, to overturn a gay nondiscrimination ordinance and John Briggs’ attempt to ban gay teachers in California. Sometimes he was criticized by individuals more to the left than he had become. “I think many gays are forced into liberal camps only because that’s where they can find the kind of support they need to function in society” Matlovich once noted.

With the outbreak of HIV/AIDS in the U.S. in the late 1970s, Leonard’s personal life was caught up in the virus’ hysteria that peaked in the 1980s. He sold his Guerneville restaurant in 1984, moving to Europe for a few months. He returned briefly to Washington, D.C., in 1985 and, then, to San Francisco where he sold Ford cars and once again became heavily involved in gay rights causes and the fight for adequate HIV-AIDS education and treatment.

During the summer of 1986, Matlovich felt fatigued, then contracted a prolonged chest cold he seemed unable to shake. When he finally saw a physician in September of that year, he was diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Too weak to continue his work at the Ford dealership, he was among the first to receive AZT treatments, but his prognosis was not encouraging. He went on disability and became a champion for HIV/AIDS research for the disease which was claiming tens of thousands of lives in the Bay Area and nationally. He announced on Good Morning America in 1987 that he had contracted HIV, and was arrested with other demonstrators in front of the White House that June protesting what they believed was an inadequate response to HIV-AIDS by the administration of President Ronald Reagan.

On June 22, 1988, less than a month before his 45th birthday, Matlovich died of complications from HIV/AIDS beneath a large photo of Martin Luther King, Jr. His tombstone, meant to be a memorial to all gay veterans, does not bear his name. It reads, “When I was in the military, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.” Matlovich’s tombstone at Congressional Cemetery is on the same row as that of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

A Website has been created in his honor and that of other gay veterans, and includes a history of the ban on gays in the military both before and after its transformation into Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and illustrates the role that gay veterans fighting the ban played in the earliest development of the gay rights movement in the United States.

DADT was officially ended on September 20, 2011. We still have a long way to go with equal right for our gay and transsexual brothers and sisters.

Oct 22 2014

2014 World Series Game 1: Giants at Royals

Starting tonight for the Royals is James Shields (R, 14 – 8, ERA 3.21).  Post Season he is 1 – 0, ERA 5.63 based on 16 Innings Pitched with 21 Hits, 3 Home Runs, 10 Runs Scored.  As a team the Royals are 8 – 0 entering the Series/

He will be matched for the Giants by Madison Bumgarner (L, 18 – 10, ERA 2.98).  Post Season he is 2 – 1, ERA 1.42 based on 31.2 Innings Pitched with 19 hits, 2 Home Runs, 6 Runs Scored.  As a team the Giants are 8 – 2 entering the Series.

So on paper at least the Giant’s should crush the Royals like bugs.  Going for them are home field advantage and the fact they haven’t lost in the post season… yet.  Also the Fox crew are all picking them to win the series, but I must say I think that’s merely rank sentimentality based on the fact that the Royals haven’t appeared in the Series since 1985 and they all proclaim their profound admiration for the Royals draft picks.

I’ll tell you this, if they do win management will deal them all before next year because that’s the way the Royals management works.

The Giants on the other hand seem intent on building a nice little dynasty with 3 appearences in the last 4 years.

They’re also from the Senior League where they play Baseball instead of this Junior League Rounders game.

8 pm Fox.