.يولد جميع الناس أحرارا متساوين في الكرامة والحقوق. وقد وهبوا عقلا وضميرا وعليهم أن يعامل بعضهم بعضا بروح الإخاء‎
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Monday, August 27, 2007

Celebrity Politics, Political Celebrities

by Darrell M. West

Diana, princess of Wales, with a victim of a land mine explosion in Angola, 1997. Tim Graham/Getty Images It is the Age of Celebrity in the United States. Glamorous movie stars run for elective office and win. Former politicians play fictional characters on television shows. Rock stars and actresses raise money for a variety of humanitarian causes. Musicians, athletes, and artists speak out on issues of hunger, stem cell research, international development, and foreign policy. Princess Diana herself was known for her campaigns against landmines and global poverty. Indeed, some observers claim that celebrity humanitarianism began with her actions.

But celebrity activism is nothing new. For years, celebrated writers, artists, and non-politicos have spoken out on issues of the day. For example, Mark Twain’s political satire and quips twitted many a prominent public figure. Ernest Hemingway was involved in a number of foreign and domestic controversies of his era, such as the Spanish Civil War. Charles Lindbergh gained fame as the first pilot to fly solo, nonstop across the Atlantic, and then used his new-found prominence to lead America’s isolationist movement in the 1930s and 1940s.

In the 1960s and 1970s, a number of singers and actors became active in civil affairs. Folksinger Arlo Guthrie did political benefits to back Chilean freedom fighters. Phil OchsMarlon Brando raised money in 1966 for the United Nations International Children’s Education fund for famine relief. organized a tribute to President Salvador Allende, who was assassinated during a military coup. Actor

In 1971, Beatles star George Harrison performed a concert for Bangladesh to raise money for starving refugees. He persuaded Bob Dylan, Ringo Starr, Billy Preston, and others to play at Madison Square Garden and their joint concert raised $240,000 for the United Nations Children’s Fund for Relief to Refugee Children of Bangladesh. Singer Harry Chapin led efforts to alleviate world hunger. From 1973 to 1981, he raised half a million dollars per year to fight hunger.

Throughout the Vietnam war, a number of celebrities spoke out against administration policies. In 1968, actor Robert Vaughn worked in the “Dump LBJ” movement, and celebrities such as Paul Newman, Tony Randall, Myrna Loy, and Leonard Nimoy labored on behalf of presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy. In 1972, actor Warren Beatty organized celebrities for Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern, while John Wayne and Sammy Davis, Jr. supported Republican Richard Nixon.

In the 1980s, a series of “No Nukes” concerts organized by Musicians United for Safe Energy raised awareness about the danger of nuclear energy. Following that effort, Jackson BrowneLinda Ronstadt and James Taylor played benefit concerts in New York City to raise money for a nuclear freeze. helped to build the nuclear freeze movement designed to stop the arms race. In the summer of 1982, he along with

Meanwhile, Stevie Wonder lent his voice to the battle against apartheid in South Africa and in favor of a Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday within the United States. In the mid-1980s, Irish rocker Bob Geldof conceived of Live Aid concerts to raise money for starving people in Ethiopia. After seeing a BBC film documenting the starvation and famine in Ethiopia, he organized two giant 1985 concerts called “Live Aid” that reached over a billion people and raised over $140 million for the people of Ethiopia.

Seeing the success of this effort, Willie Nelson organized a “Farm Aid” concert for American farmers. Joining with Neil Young, Bob Dylan, and John Cougar Mellencamp, the group raised money and consciousness about the plight of the rural poor. Mellencamp recorded songs about farmers on his Scarecrow and Lonesome Jubilee albums and testified in support of the Family Farm Bill. Singer Bruce Springsteen headlined an Amnesty International Human Rights Now tour along with Sting, Tracy Chapman, and Peter Gabriel. This worldwide effort called attention to the problem of political prisoners in a variety of countries.

Boxer Muhammad Ali & actor Michael J. Fox campaigning against Parkinson's disease; Ron Sachs/Corbis More recently, actor Michael J. Fox has given speeches and worked for candidates who supported stem cell research. Hoping to find a cure for Parkinson’s research, Fox has appeared frequently with boxer Muhammad Ali; he featured prominently in Democratic efforts to regain control of the U.S. Congress. Actress Mia Farrow has campaigned to raise awareness about mass genocides. Actress Angelina Jolie has worked extensively on issues of international development, world hunger, and child adoption.

U2 frontman Bono dances with an African AIDS orphan, 2002; Patrick Olum/Reuters Princess Diana was active in the fight against landmines. U2 Singer Bono created the DATA organization (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa) to fight poverty and has toured Africa with administration officials in an effort to encourage debt relief for poor countries. Ocean’s 13 stars George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Matt Damon used their Cannes Film Festival release to publicize the Darfur genocide.

Arnold Schwarzenegger. 2003;  Jonathan Alcorn—ZUMA/Corbis While celebrity activism is not new, several trends over the past few decades have given celebrities new prominence in debates over public policy. Changes in the structure and operation of the media have contributed to a celebrity culture that provides actors, musicians, and athletes a platform from which to speak out. The line between politics and entertainment has blurred to the point where actors such as Arnold Schwarzenegger have become politicians and former politicians such as Senator Fred Thompson star in prominent television shows.

With the rise of new technologies such as cable television, talk radio, blogs, and the Internet, the news business has become very competitive and more likely to focus on famous personalities. Tabloid shows such as “Access Hollywood” attract millions of viewers, glorify celebrities, and provide a “behind-the-scenes” look at the entertainment industry. Reporters stake out “star” parties, and report on who is in attendance. The old “establishment” press has been replaced by a news media that specializes in reporting on the private lives of politicians and Hollywood stars.

Changes in public opinion have given celebrities stronger credibility to speak out on political matters. From the standpoint of political activists, celebrities are a way to reach voters jaded by political cynicism. In the 1950s, two-thirds of Americans trusted the government in Washington to do what is right. Presidents had high moral authority, and citizens had confidence in the ethics and morality of their leaders.

However, following scandals in Vietnam and Watergate, economic stagflation, and controversies over Iran-Contra and Monica Lewinsky, the public became far less trusting. They no longer are confident about political leaders and are less likely to trust their statements.

When asked whether they trust the government in Washington to do what is right, two-thirds of Americans currently express mistrust. Citizens feel that politicians are in it for themselves and that they serve special interests. An electorate that trusts politicians to tell the truth has been replaced by a public that is highly skeptical about rhetoric and intentions.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Uganda rejects a gay rights call

A gay activist in Uganda wearing a mask
The gay activists in Kampala wore masks in case of recognition
Uganda will not give equal rights to gays and lesbians nor has it plans to legalise homosexuality, Ethics Minister James Nsaba Buturo has said.

He was responding to a call from the Sexual Minorities Groups in Uganda (Smug) which for the first time held a press conference demanding recognition.

They also accused the police of brutality and harassment.

The gay community is estimated by activists to number 500,000 in Uganda where they face much discrimination.

The BBC's Joshua Mmali in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, said many of those present at the press conference on Thursday wore masks, fearing to show their faces.

We have had enough of the abuse, neglect and violence
Smug leader Victor Juliet Mukasa

Smug leader Victor Juliet Mukasa said she had been a victim of inhuman treatment.

She said police raided her home in 2005, took away documents and arrested her guest, whom they later forced to strip naked.

"We were treated in a degrading and inhumane way. Many of us have suffered similar injustice," she told journalists.

"We are here today to proclaim that these human rights violations are completely unacceptable. We have had enough of the abuse, neglect and violence."

But Mr Buturo told the BBC News website that homosexuality was "unnatural" and denied claims of police brutality and rights abuses.

"If they were being harassed, they would be in jail. We know them, we have details of who they are," he said.


At the press conference, gay activist Dr Paul Ssemugoma called for education on same sex-relationships to reduce the incidence of HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases among the gay community.

Uganda has won praise for its vigorous campaign against HIV/Aids.

It has helped to reduce the prevalence of the virus - which reached 30% in the 1990s - to single-digit figures.

Activists also hit out at the church, accusing the clergy of demonising them.

A Kenyan gay man, who had travelled to Kampala to show solidarity with his Ugandan counterparts, said homosexuals in East Africa are forced to live double lives.

"These people are subjected into being in forced marriages to cover up, yet they suffer inside," he said.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Exhibit showing gay Jesus inspires fracas

A melee broke out in Sweden outside a photography exhibit depicting Jesus as a homosexual.

Artist Elisabeth Ohlson Wallin created the Ecce Homo exhibit 10 years ago, and it has been controversial ever since.

On Sunday, a group of young people tried to set fire to a poster at the Jonkoping Kulturhuset, The Local reported. Staff members tried to stop them, leading to a fight involving about 30 people, said Tony el Zouki, the director of the Kulturhuset.

Jonkoping is a major center of the Swedish Evangelical movement.

If this is some Christian group, then I really do not understand them. The message of Christianity is that people should understand and love each other, el Zouki said. I really can't see how this can have a Biblical explanation.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

RockOut artists in their undies

Sex and rock and roll go together like black leather and fresh whipped cream (so we've heard). So in honor of National Underwear Day, we contacted some of the sexy and talented emerging musicians we've featured on our RockOut channel and asked them to join in the skin-baring fun by sending us pics of themselves in their undies.

We told them not to hire professional photographers, but to take the shots themselves and just go wild. We also left it totally up to them to imagine creative settings for their photo shoots and take their own pictures. In other words: Express yourselves in your undies.

And express themselves they did!

Jim Verraros shot himself in boxers in bed, listening to music. The smile says it all. Punk-rock band the Dead Betties barbecued on the beach in their tightie-whities, then they took it to the laundromat for more clean fun. Hip-hop sensation in the making (and Tyra Banks best-friends-forever) Josh Klipp just knocked it out plain and simple in white briefs and tank, while indie rocker Dudley Saunders showed how at home he feels in boxers and a backpack.

Homosexual Teens coming out earlier to more accepting Environment

Josh Delsman, an 18 year old from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., reluctantly revealed he was a homosexual at age 14 after a friend told middle school officials, who later informed his parents.

"I didn't want to come out," Delsman said. "But I realized I was gay a lot younger than that. I knew when I was 8 or 9, but I just didn't know what to call it."

Delsman, along with two straight classmates, went on to found a Gay Straight Alliance at his high school. GSAs are clubs in schools that promote tolerance and acceptance of all students.

"We were tired of hearing 'that's so gay' and other LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) slurs," Delsman said.

Ritch Savin-Williams, who chairs Cornell University's human development department and wrote the book "The New Gay Teenager," said kids are "coming out" sooner these days.

According to Savin-Williams' book, as reported in the Albuquerque Journal, the average age people used to come out was in their mid-20s, but that has dropped to the mid-teens over the last two decades.

And anecdotally, the median age for high school students to come out is between 15 and 17, according to Kevin Jennings, founder of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

Media's role

Jennings, a 44-year-old former high school teacher who took the organization from a local school-based group to a national one during the 1994-95 school-year, said he believes coming out earlier is directly related to the greater accessibility of information from the Internet, TV and people's peers.

"In my generation, it was very rare to come out in high school. I didn't really know or understand the language for it. They [teens today] have a language to explain what they're feeling that wasn't available to teens in the past," Jennings said.

Part of the reason that young people are coming out sooner may be that as a whole, Generation Nexters -- those aged 16-25 -- are more accepting of homosexuality in general.

Nearly six in 10 people in that age bracket say "homosexuality is a way of life that should be accepted by society," according to a survey released by the Pew Research Center in January. In comparison, the same survey found that only 50 percent of those aged 25 and older felt the same way.

Greater exposure to media images of gay people also has increased homosexuality's awareness and acceptance.

Like Jennings, Jennifer Santiago, a 20 year old who identifies herself as straight, thinks her generation has more exposure to images of LGBT people in the media than ever before, and that for her generation meeting a gay person is not uncommon.

But Santiago thinks many of the images in the media are not positive. One example is MTV's reality program "The Real World."

"On 'The Real World' they always make the one gay person and make it insane. They find the craziest person who is gay and put that person on the show. It's stereotypical. My friends aren't like that," she said.

Some say, however, that the increase in LGBT images across media are encouraging teens to take up a lifestyle they might not have chosen otherwise. Additionally, some socially conservative groups say the teenage years are too chaotic to make decisions about "sexual identity."

"All kids around puberty are confused about who they are," Barbara Swallow of Free Indeed Ministries, a Christian organization that counsels people away from homosexuality, told the Albuquerque Journal.

"Then they're told it's acceptable to be whatever you want to be -- homosexual, bisexual, transgender," she added. "That's not the way God created it."

In an interview with USA Today, Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council said that "Homosexuality is harmful to society, and young people have no business committing to a sexual identity until they're adults."

On the other hand, experts such as Dr. Jack Drescher of the American Psychiatric Association, who has studied programs that attempt to alter sexuality, say that pretending to be heterosexual when you're not is bad for teens.

"They are not learning social skills, but developing hiding skills," he told the Albuquerque Journal. "In the process, they lose the ability to know who they are."

Emergence of clubs that promote tolerance

Currently more than 3,000 GSAs across the country are registered with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, a group that works to create safe school environments for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or identification.

Many of the clubs have been founded by students who identify themselves as straight, or "straight allies"; they see the direct impact that bullying and discrimination has on their peers.

"Kids with privilege are saying 'this isn't OK by me anymore.' They witness this everyday. They want to make a difference and this is something that they can do. Washington seems very far away. But they can make a difference in their schools," Jennings said.

Delsman, who says coming out is a life-long process, said he's directly seen the positive effect these clubs can have on school environments and students. There's less bullying and fewer discriminatory comments.

"My friend [who] just came out two weeks ago, he moved down from Albany. He had never met another gay person before," Delsman said. "He came down here and the environment was so much better. It was so amazing because I know that 10 years ago he wouldn't have been able to do that at all."

Erik Stegman, a 24-year-old UCLA law student and current co-chairman of GLSEN's National Leadership Council, said the student-run movement helps build confident leaders.

"I became more confident than ever before. This is who I am. On a personal level, I absolutely think it was a positive experience. I gained a lot. We all have to mature real fast coming out," he said.

He said he would like to "turn the whole country's attitude toward what it means to be GLBT, especially as you're young, change the perception that it's a disadvantage, that it's something to feel sad about, guilty about."

-- By Annie Schleicher

Friday, August 3, 2007

As Time (no) goes by / ¡Cómo no pasa el tiempo!;

Hitler is like a Pils: goes always. And still once.
El Hitler parece a un Pils: va siempre. Y todavía una vez.