Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Stories of Note from Today's Paper

Just read the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and these are a few of the stories that struck me:

The president picks a prominent critic of the United Nations, and a well-known non-compromiser, to be his nominee for UN Ambassador:

Washington --- President Bush on Monday announced his nomination of Undersecretary of State John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations --- an institution that Bolton has pointedly criticized.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice praised Bolton as a ''tough-minded diplomat'' with ''a proven track record of effective multilateralism.''

But congressional Democrats, signaling a likely confirmation fight, branded him as the wrong man at the wrong time.

Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry called it ''just about the most inexplicable appointment the president could make to represent the United States to the world community.''

''Mr. Bolton once said, 'If the U.N. building in New York lost 10 stories, it wouldn't make a bit of difference,' '' said Kerry, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. ''Now we're supposed to believe he's the right person to represent the United States at the United Nations?''

Bush makes a few positive strides in the world community with his recent European trip, and then turns around and smacks the world in the face again.

Then there's the story of the rabid anti-gay protesters in Cleveland, Georgia, who flew in to oppose a high school student's Gay/Straight Alliance club--and the resulting counter-protest, thank God:

Two days after a small group of fundamentalist Christians from Kansas began a strident protest against a proposed gay student support group at a high school in the Georgia mountains, the townspeople said enough is enough.

On Monday morning, about 100 people showed up with picket signs in front of White County High School to counter the eight members of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka who had flown in on Saturday and staged loud demonstrations against the gay club as well as seven local churches.

"Go back to Kansas!" the Georgians shouted.

Ever since a 16-year-old gay junior, Kerry Pacer, founded the Gay-Straight Alliance and asked to meet at the high school, Cleveland hasn't been the same. She's been booed. School board meetings have been contentious, attracting media attention. And now the Kansans have shown up, screaming insults and anti-gay epithets.

The locals were especially livid at the out-of-towners for showing up at churches on Sunday morning before services and hurling at worshippers such insults as "Thank God for 9/11," "God hates you" and "Your pastor is lying." The fundamentalists said the churches were targeted because they had not condemned homosexuality strongly enough.

And here's some unexpected good news from the Georgia State Legislature, who this year, more than ever, have been acting like a bunch of white, male, Republican businessmen (because, well, mostly they are):

It's probably a question of when --- not whether --- Georgia's 24,000 electronic voting machines will produce a paper record of a voter's ballot.

Two lawmakers, one in the House and one in the Senate, have introduced legislation requiring that the machines be outfitted with a voter-verified paper audit trail.

The paper record, produced by a printer, would allow voters to review the selections they make on the machine's touch screen before casting a final ballot. The paper record would drop into a locked box, so voters would not be able to take it with them.

Supports of the paper record say it's necessary to make certain the machines are accurately recording votes and to quell concerns that they could be rigged to manipulate elections.

Secretary of State Cathy Cox has resisted adding a paper trail, arguing that no federal technical standards for such a system exist. She also says hard-copy records have been a source of election fraud for decades.

Last year, Cox successfully beat back legislative efforts to outfit the machines with printers. But the drumbeat for a paper trail is growing louder.

Cox, by the way, is a Democrat and will almost certainly be a gubernatorial candidate next time, but she championed the Diebold voting machines in Georgia--and we know all about those, don't we.

And finally, there's this bit of good and hopeful news, an op-ed piece written by a middle school student (and I hope they don't mind my reproducing the whole thing):

Gay parents set a loving example for children

What do you think when you think of gay people? Most people would answer that question with sounds of disgust. But why? What did gay people do that was so bad? Why do so many people hate gay people?

Is there a reason? Well, most people would say, "It says so in the Bible." Who wrote the Bible? Men. Men who feared. Men who had to be in control. Men who also said women should have no rights.

The same men who said women should have no rights also said that gay people should have no rights. But why? Because they feared what they didn't understand. You hide behind God. You say, "Well, God said that gay people can't be together, they won't go to heaven." But did he? No. He only left behind 10 laws. We know them as the Ten Commandments. None of them says, "Gays can't be together or they won't go to heaven." God loves and accepts everyone.

Don't you see that what happened only a few years ago is happening now? It used to be everyone hated the black people, but now it's everyone hates the gay people.

Is this what the world should be like? Hatred? No. God put us on this world to love.

Gay people are just like everyone else. They love. They have arguments. They want children. They have to eat to live. They die at old ages. So what makes them so different?

And if we made it against the law for gay people to be together, guess who else you'd be hurting? Children. The children in orphanages who always dreamed of having a real home, a home where they were loved and wanted.

Gay people are adopting children because they can't have children of their own. Trust me, I would know.

I am one of those children who were adopted by two gay men. They are the best family I've ever had. And they love.

They don't care that I'm black and they're white, they don't care that I look, sound or am different. They love. And who could understand that more than a child who had never been loved, and is finally loved by people whom other people hate?

I don't think that I could ever hate because I'm surrounded by real love.



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