Monthly Archives: May 2012



Quick Facts

World No Tobacco Day draws attention to the health problems caused by tobacco use.

Local names

Name Language
World No Tobacco Day English
Día Mundial Sin Tabaco Spanish

World No Tobacco Day 2012

Thursday, May 31, 2012

World No Tobacco Day 2013

Friday, May 31, 2013

People, non-governmental organizations and governments unite on World No Tobacco Day to draw attention to the health problems that tobacco use can cause. It is held on May 31 each year.

Hand saying no thanks to a packages of cigarettes offeredWorld No Tobacco Day focuses on informing people about health problems associated with tobacco use. © Schram

What do people do?

World No Tobacco Day is a day for people, non-governmental organizations and governments organize various activities to make people aware of the health problems that tobacco use can cause. These activities include:

  • Public marches and demonstrations, often with vivid banners.
  • Advertising campaigns and educational programs.
  • People going into public places to encourage people to stop smoking.
  • The introduction of bans on smoking in particular places or types of advertising.
  • Meetings for anti-tobacco campaigners.

Moreover, laws restricting smoking in particular areas may come into effect and wide reaching health campaigns may be launched.

Public life

World No Tobacco Day is not a public holiday.


Tobacco is a product of the fresh leaves of nicotiana plants. It is used as an aid in spiritual ceremonies and a recreational drug. It originated in the Americas, but was introduced to Europe by Jean Nicot, the French ambassador to Portugal in 1559. It quickly became popular and an important trade crop.

Medical research made it clear during the 1900s that tobacco use increased the likelihood of many illnesses including heart attacks, strokes, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), emphysema and many forms of cancer. This is true for all ways in which tobacco is used, including:

  • Cigarettes and cigars.
  • Hand rolling tobacco.
  • Bidis and kreteks (cigarettes containing tobacco with herbs or spices).
  • Pipes and water pipes.
  • Chewing tobacco.
  • Snuff.
  • Snus (a moist version of snuff popular in some countries such as Sweden).
  • Creamy snuff (a paste consisting of tobacco, clove oil, glycerin, spearmint, menthol, and camphor sold in a toothpaste tube popular in India).
  • Gutkha (a version of chewing tobacco mixed with areca nut, catechu, slaked lime and other condiments popular in India and South-East Asia).

On May 15, 1987, the World Health Organization passed a resolution, calling for April 7, 1988, to be the first World No Smoking Day. This date was chosen because it was the 40th anniversary of the World Health Organization. On May 17, 1989, the World Health Organization passed a resolution calling for May 31 to be annually known as World No Tobacco Day. This event has been observed each year since 1989.


The themes of World No Tobacco Day have been:

  • 2009 – Tobacco health warnings.
  • 2008 – Tobacco-free youth.
  • 2007 – Smoke free inside.
  • 2006 – Tobacco: deadly in any form or disguise.
  • 2005 – Health professionals against tobacco.
  • 2004 – Tobacco and poverty, a vicious circle.
  • 2003 – Tobacco free film, tobacco free fashion.
  • 2002 – Tobacco free sports.
  • 2001 – Second-hand smoke kills.
  • 2000 – Tobacco kills, don’t be duped.
  • 1999 – Leave the pack behind.
  • 1998 – Growing up without tobacco.
  • 1997 – United for a tobacco free world.
  • 1996 – Sport and art without tobacco: play it tobacco free.
  • 1995 – Tobacco costs more than you think.
  • 1994 – Media and tobacco: get the message across.
  • 1993 – Health services: our windows to a tobacco free world.
  • 1992 – Tobacco free workplaces: safer and healthier.
  • 1991 – Public places and transport: better be tobacco free.
  • 1990 – Childhood and youth without tobacco: growing up without tobacco.
  • 1989 – Initial observance.


Images that symbolize World No Tobacco Day are:

  • Clean ashtrays with flowers in them.
  • Ashtrays with images of body parts, such as the heart and lungs, which are damaged by tobacco use.
  • No smoking signs.
  • Symbols of death, such as gravestones and skulls, with cigarettes.
  • Images of the diseases caused by tobacco use.

These images are often displayed as posters, on Internet sites and blogs, on clothing and public transport vehicles.

World No Tobacco Day Observances

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Wed May 31 1989 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Thu May 31 1990 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Fri May 31 1991 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Sun May 31 1992 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Mon May 31 1993 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Tue May 31 1994 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Wed May 31 1995 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Fri May 31 1996 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Sat May 31 1997 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Sun May 31 1998 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Mon May 31 1999 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Wed May 31 2000 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Thu May 31 2001 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Fri May 31 2002 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Sat May 31 2003 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Mon May 31 2004 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Tue May 31 2005 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Wed May 31 2006 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Thu May 31 2007 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Sat May 31 2008 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Sun May 31 2009 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Mon May 31 2010 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Tue May 31 2011 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Thu May 31 2012 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Fri May 31 2013 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Sat May 31 2014 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance
Sun May 31 2015 World No Tobacco Day United Nations observance

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White supremacist pleads innocent to burning black family’s home


Updated: May 31, 2012 9:27PM

He sat dressed in an orange jumpsuit, flanked by gray-suited FBI agents, waiting in the federal courtroom to see a judge. Three words were tattooed in Olde English clear across the back of his shaved white scalp: “Blue eyed devil.”

Brian Moudry


Brian Moudry, a self-avowed white supremacist from Joliet with a history of hate crimes, awaited the arrival of the federal defender who would represent him against accusations he burned his black neighbors, eight of them children, out of their rented house in 2007.

She entered, sat close at Moudry’s side and began to talk to him. MiAngel Cody, the only black woman in the courtroom, then accepted Magistrate Judge Jeffrey Gilbert’s appointment to defend Moudry, who couldn’t afford an attorney. She told the judge he’d plead innocent to the three federal charges, two of which carry a mandatory 10-year prison sentence.

Cody wouldn’t comment after the hearing about her client, whose arms, neck and face are covered with racist tattoos. The attorney, who serves on the board of a non-profit that mentors young black lawyers, spelled out her name and excused herself to another hearing.

Moudry was led away in handcuffs and ankle shackles. The judge ordered him held without bail after Assistant U.S. Attorney Nancy DePodesta called him a flight risk and threat to the community.

Federal prosecutors say Moudry set the fire in the home rented by a black family as they slept in the early morning hours of June 17, 2007, a house on the same block where he lived.

They would not comment on the delay between the fire and Moudry’s arrest Wednesday on federal arson and civil rights charges, nor on when the federal investigation began. They also gave no clues about how the investigation led to Moudry.

After the fire in 2007, Joliet police arrested a Des Plaines man who was on Moudry’s property. That man passed out after a party at Moudry’s house and was identified in the alley as the man who set the blaze, his attorney John M. Kogut said, by a little girl of about 12 who stayed awake that night on her computer.

A trial for the man was set for March 10, 2008, but instead of picking a jury, Will County prosecutors dropped the charges. Moudry was listed as a witness in the case, according to court documents.

After the fire, the woman and her family moved away, according to federal prosecutors. She declined to comment Thursday during a brief telephone conversation.

None of them attended the hearing. Neither did anyone supporting Moudry.

A message left at his mother’s home was not returned.

An ex-con who previously served time for a hate crime against black people, Moudry faces pending weapons charges in Will County Circuit Court; he pleaded innocent in April to carrying a gun and returns to court on June 26, according to the court records.

In 2005, he was interviewed on about a Hatemonger Warzine that he edited and self-published. Dubbing himself the editor “Rev. Brian ‘Warhead von Jewgrinder’ Moudry,” he wrote that he was half Irish, half Czech and had been involved in the white-power movement since he was about 17 or 18. In the same interview he claimed to be a “reverend and state leader for Illinois” for “The Creativity Movement, formerly known as World Church of the Creator,” the white supremacist group led by Matt Hale.

Hale — the onetime self-proclaimed Pontifex Maximus of the hate group — is serving a 40-year prison sentence after being convicted of asking a follower in 2002 to murder U.S. District Judge Joan Lefkow after she upheld the appeals court ruling in a civil case tied to Hale’s group. The follower was really an informant working for the FBI.

In 2005, FBI agents interviewed Moudry after the grisly slaying of Lefkow’s husband and mother in Chicago. Those slayings ended up being the work of a disgruntled man who had appeared in Lefkow’s courtroom on another matter unrelated to Hale and his followers, authorities said.

Moudry spent time in the Will County Jail jail after a 1999 arrest in New Lenox on aggravated assault and hate crime charges, accused of fighting with two black men. Court records show he was convicted of the hate crime.

After his release, Moudry led white-power demonstrations. His house was hit by drive-by gunfire after a 2004 rally.

In 2010, he threatened to blow up the truck of a black mail carrier, upset his mail had been stopped.

His tiny yellow house was quiet Thursday. No one answered the door, on which a sign hung:

“English spoken here.”

Contributing: Mary Kate Knorr and Natasha Korecki


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Quick Facts

The International Day for Biological Diversity is an occasion to increase the global understanding and awareness of issues and challenges around biodiversity.

Local names

Name Language
International Day for Biological Diversity English
Día Internacional de la Diversidad Biológica Spanish

International Day for Biological Diversity 2012: Theme 2012: Marine Biodiversity

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

International Day for Biological Diversity 2013

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

On May 22, 1992, the text of the Convention on Biological Diversity was adopted by the of the United Nations at a conference in Nairobi, Kenya. Since 2001, the International Day for Biological Diversity is celebrated each year on the anniversary of this date.

International Day for Biological DiversityThe International Day for Biological Diversity raises awareness about preserving endangered habitats. ©

What do people do?

A wide range of events are organized globally to increase the understanding of the important role of biodiversity in our future. Celebrations are organized by: the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which forms part of the United Nations Environmental Programme; many national governments; and a range of non-governmental organizations.

Activities include:

  • Translating booklets, leaflets and other educational resources into local languages.
  • Distributing information on biodiversity via schools, colleges, universities, newspapers, radio and television.
  • Exhibitions and seminars for students, professionals and the general public.
  • Showings of movies on environmental issues.
  • Presentations of programs to preserve endangered species or habitats.
  • Planting trees and other plants that help prevent erosion.

Politicians may also give speeches on local environmental issues and other events may include competitions for children and young people to take photographs or create artwork centered on the annual theme of the day.

Public life

The International Day for Biological Diversity is an observance and not a public holiday.


In 1992 state and government leaders agreed on a strategy for sustainable development at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, also known as “The Earth Summit”, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Sustainable development is a way to meet the needs of people all over the world and ensuring that planet earth remains healthy and viable for future generations. One of the most important agreements reached during the Earth Summit was the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The Convention on Biological Diversity came into force on December 29, 1993, and each anniversary of this date was designated the International Day for Biological Diversity. From 2001 onwards the date of this celebration was moved to May 22 due to the number of holidays that fell in late December. On this date in 1992, the text of the Convention on Biological Diversity was adopted at a United Nations at a conference in Nairobi, Kenya.

Each year, the International Day for Biodiversity focuses on a particular theme. Recently, the themes have been: Biodiversity and Poverty Alleviation (2003); Biodiversity: Food, Water and Health for All (2004); Biodiversity: Life Insurance for our Changing World (2005); Protect Biodiversity in Drylands (2006); and Biodiversity and Climate Change (2007); and Biodiversity and Agriculture (2008).


The International Day for Biological Diversity is part of a series of activities to focus attention on the Convention on Biological Diversity. The symbol of this convention is a stylized image of a twig or branch with three green leaves. Depending on the background, the leaves may be just outlines or green blocks. Each year a piece of artwork is commissioned to reflect the theme. Details of the artwork are used as symbols for different aspects of the International Day for Biological Diversity.

International Day for Biological Diversity Observances

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Wed Dec 29 1993 International Day for Biological Diversity United Nations observance
Thu Dec 29 1994 International Day for Biological Diversity United Nations observance
Fri Dec 29 1995 International Day for Biological Diversity United Nations observance
Sun Dec 29 1996 International Day for Biological Diversity United Nations observance
Mon Dec 29 1997 International Day for Biological Diversity United Nations observance
Tue Dec 29 1998 International Day for Biological Diversity United Nations observance
Wed Dec 29 1999 International Day for Biological Diversity United Nations observance
Fri Dec 29 2000 International Day for Biological Diversity United Nations observance
Tue May 22 2001 International Day for Biological Diversity United Nations observance
Wed May 22 2002 International Day for Biological Diversity United Nations observance
Thu May 22 2003 International Day for Biological Diversity United Nations observance
Sat May 22 2004 International Day for Biological Diversity United Nations observance
Sun May 22 2005 International Day for Biological Diversity United Nations observance
Mon May 22 2006 International Day for Biological Diversity United Nations observance
Tue May 22 2007 International Day for Biological Diversity United Nations observance
Thu May 22 2008 International Day for Biological Diversity United Nations observance
Fri May 22 2009 International Day for Biological Diversity United Nations observance
Sat May 22 2010 International Day for Biological Diversity United Nations observance
Sun May 22 2011 International Day for Biological Diversity United Nations observance
Tue May 22 2012 International Day for Biological Diversity United Nations observance
Wed May 22 2013 International Day for Biological Diversity United Nations observance
Thu May 22 2014 International Day for Biological Diversity United Nations observance
Fri May 22 2015 International Day for Biological Diversity United Nations observance

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Quick Facts

World Information Society Day is celebrated each year to raise awareness of how information and communication can be beneficial for societies and economies.

Local names

Name Language
World Information Society Day English
Día Mundial de las Telecomunicaciones y la Sociedad de la Información Spanish

World Information Society Day 2012 (Formally Known as World Telecommunication and Information Society Day)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

World Information Society Day 2013

Friday, May 17, 2013

World Information Society Day is celebrated each year on 17 May to remind the world of the vision of the World Summit on the Information Society to build “a people-centered, inclusive and development-oriented information society” based on fundamental human rights.

World Information Society Day aims to alert people about how information and communication can help improve societies worldwide. ©

What do people do?

World Information Society Day promotes people’s awareness of the power of information and communication to build societies in which they can create, access, use and share information and knowledge to achieve their full potential. Organizations such as UNESCO actively take part in the day by inviting people to engage in various activities to promote campaigns centered on this event.

Public life

World Information Society Day is a global observance and not a public holiday.


The annual observance of World Telecommunication Day, which marks the founding of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) on May 17, 1865, drew attention to the work of ITU and the challenges of global communication.  In March 2006, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed May 17 as World Information Society Day to recognize the efforts made to advance communication and ITU’s role in helping people connect around the world. The UN’s first World Information Society Day took place on Wednesday, 17 May 2006.

Prior to World Information Society Day, World Telecommunication Day, which was first held in 1969, was celebrated on May 17 by people and organizations such as ITU. Many now refer to this day as World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, taking into account the UN’s observance of World Information Society Day. The purpose of this observance is to help raise awareness of the possibilities that the internet and other information and communication technologies could bring to societies and economies, as well as of ways to bridge the digital divide.


UNESCO has not allocated a specific symbol for the day, although it uses images of modern information and communication technologies to portray the importance of the day.

World Information Society Day Observances

Weekday Date Year Name Holiday type Where it is observed
Wed May 17 2006 World Information Society Day United Nations observance
Thu May 17 2007 World Information Society Day United Nations observance
Sat May 17 2008 World Information Society Day United Nations observance
Sun May 17 2009 World Information Society Day United Nations observance
Mon May 17 2010 World Information Society Day United Nations observance
Tue May 17 2011 World Information Society Day United Nations observance
Thu May 17 2012 World Information Society Day United Nations observance
Fri May 17 2013 World Information Society Day United Nations observance
Sat May 17 2014 World Information Society Day United Nations observance
Sun May 17 2015 World Information Society Day United Nations observance

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5/27/2012-Memorial Day

By Bob EnglehartMy father served in the Office of Strategic Services in World War II. The OSS was the forerunner to the CIA. When I was a kid, I’d ask the inevitable question, “What’d you do in the war, daddy.”

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Rick McKee, staff cartoonist at The Augusta Chronicle.

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Jack Vartoogian/FrontRowPhotos

Carrie Smith performing at Avery Fisher Hall in 1992.


Published: May 26, 2012

Carrie Smith, a jazz and blues singer who brought a warm stage presence and lustrous voice to Broadway in the musical revue “Black and Blue,” died on May 20 at the Lillian Booth Actors Home of the Actors Fund in Englewood, N.J. She was 86.

The cause was cancer, said a friend, the singer Antoinette Montague.

Ms. Smith began as a gospel singer, performing at the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival and on other stages with the Back Home Choir of the Greater Harvest Baptist Church in Newark. In 1961 she gave a solo concert at Town Hall in Manhattan.

“Miss Smith has a full-bodied, robust contralto voice,” Robert Shelton wrote in his review in The New York Times. “While many gospel singers, repeating vibrant phrases to stir their congregants, become emotion-driven shouters, Miss Smith never lost sense of her role as a musician. She had her pitch and tone securely in hand, even in the most uninhibited climaxes of her musical sermons.”

Beginning in the late 1960s Ms. Smith sang with the pianist Big Tiny Little’s band, and later with a sextet led by the trombonist Tyree Glenn. She also began to develop a solo jazz career. In 1974 she was part of a salute to Louis Armstrong at Carnegie Hall, singing “St. Louis Blues,” a tune recorded by both Armstrong and Bessie Smith.

The program, organized by the pianist Dick Hyman and the New York Jazz Repertory Company, was repeated in Europe and the Soviet Union. From then on Ms. Smith performed the songs of Bessie Smith (they were not related) often, earning a reputation as a singer as a blues belter, though her repertory was wider than that; her voice, darkly mellifluous and gentle with a melody, was equally suited to jazz and pop.

“She had a beautiful voice on the lower side and a perfect knowledge of blues and gospel singing,” Mr. Hyman said in an interview on Thursday. “She had perfect time.”

Ms. Smith’s career gathered momentum through the 1980s and ’90s, gaining more popularity in Europe than in the United States. She found her widest American audience on Broadway in “Black and Blue,” a gaudy song-and-dance tribute to black blues and jazz artists that ran for 829 performances from 1989 to 1991. In that show she sang the standards “Big Butter and Egg Man” and “I Gotta Right to Sing the Blues.”

Carrie Louise Smith was born in Fort Gaines, Ga., on a date most often reported as Aug. 25, 1941, apparently because, once her singing career began, she wanted it that way. She was coy about her age, but a spokesman for the Actors Home gave her birth date as Aug. 25, 1925.

Her friend Ms. Montague said Ms. Smith’s mother had moved to Newark with Carrie to escape an abusive husband. Once there, she said, the mother joined the cultlike church of Father Divine and left Ms. Smith to be brought up by older cousins. Ms. Smith left school after the eighth grade. She sang in church and taught herself piano while working in a number of jobs, including train announcer at the Newark train station.

Ms. Smith has no immediate survivors. Ms. Montague said Ms. Smith had been married once, briefly, to a mason and small-time hustler who was known around Newark as Swindler Joe.





Published: May 25, 2012

The Rev. H. H. Brookins, a retired bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church whose role as a civil rights leader and a political kingmaker was clouded by accusations of financial chicanery, died on Tuesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 86.

Los Angeles Times

H. H. Brookins, right, with Mayor Tom Bradley of Los Angeles in 1973. Bishop Brookins helped start Mr. Bradley’s career.

Michael Ellison-Lewis, a spokesman for the church, announced the death.

Bishop Brookins marched with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the South; helped start the political career of Tom Bradley, a five-term Los Angeles mayor; was a principal strategist in the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s 1984 presidential campaign; and in 1990 prayed with Mayor Marion Barry of Washington when Mr. Barry was convicted of drug possession.

“A whole generation of us, in some sense, grew up under the bishop,” Mr. Jackson said in an interview with The Los Angeles Times in 1985. “He has the touch, the green thumb.”

As a young minister and then a bishop in Los Angeles, Bishop Brookins helped start and was president of the United Civil Rights Council, an umbrella organization of 75 groups, which helped the black community recover from the Watts riots in 1965. Starting with a building fund of $8, he built a multimillion-dollar church and called it a cathedral. It grew to 19,500 members.

He did it all with such style that he came to be called the Hollywood bishop. He rallied stars like Bob Hope and politicians like Robert F. Kennedy to his causes, and organized the first interfaith service at the Hollywood Bowl. His spirited preaching, from whispering in the valleys to roaring from the mountaintops, was renowned.

He drove a Mercedes-Benz and made the best-dressed lists of Ebony and Jet magazines. He smoked, drank and told off-color stories. Bishop Brookins had a knack for getting to the point in a pithy way. “Everyone has a right to be equal, even in mediocrity,” he told The Los Angeles Times.

He called Mr. Jackson’s 1984 presidential bid “the best thing since ice cream.”

But allegations of financial mismanagement and fraud dogged him in Los Angeles, and later in subsequent postings in Arkansas and Washington. The common accusation was that church funds had ended up in his personal accounts.

In 1993, 25 local ministers and lay leaders in the Washington area petitioned the Council of Bishops to demote him, saying he had taken out mortgages on church property for personal use. Though he denied having done so, he was reassigned to head the denomination’s office of ecumenical and urban affairs, a job often given to bishops under fire or in ill health.

In 2000, delegates to the church’s national convention put a new bishop in his seat in Washington but allowed him to serve on an at-large basis for four more years.

In an interview, Mr. Ellison-Lewis said Bishop Brookins was never formally charged with any crime.

“All these matters were resolved in his favor,” he said.

Bishop Brookins retired in 2004 after being bishop in five districts and serving as president of his church.

Hamel Hartford Brookins was born in Yazoo City, Miss., on June 8, 1925, the seventh of 10 children of sharecroppers. For a while he attended Campbell College (now closed) in Jackson, Miss., where he became pastor of his first church.

“It had about 18 members,” said Otis Jackson, who sang with Bishop Brookins in a sextet called Brookins and the Hungry Five. “The collection wouldn’t be but $2 or $3, but he would go down there and preach his heart out, just as if he were preaching to 300 or 400 people.”

He earned bachelor’s degrees from Wilberforce University and the nearby Payne Theological Seminary, both of them historically black institutions in Ohio, and by 1954 was a minister in Wichita, Kan. He was elected the first black president of the 200-member interracial ministerial council there, and led meetings to unite religious and civic leaders following the Supreme Court’s order to desegregate the Topeka, Kan., public schools.

He was transferred to Los Angeles in 1959 and by the time of the Watts riots in 1965 was one of the most visible black leaders in the city. He organized Dr. King’s first Los Angeles appearance, which drew 60,000 people. He helped Mr. Bradley win election to the City Council in 1963 and as mayor in 1973.

In 1972, Mr. Brookins was elected bishop and sent to Rhodesia, where he actively supported forces fighting the white-minority government. He was kicked out of the country, now known as Zimbabwe. In the 1980s, while based in Arkansas, he befriended Bill Clinton, the governor at the time.

“I’ve seen it all,” he once said, “and I’ve been part of 80 percent of it.”

Bishop Brookins’s first two marriages ended in divorce. He is survived by his wife, the Rev. Rosalynn Kyle Brookins; two sons, Sir-Wellington Hartford Brookins and Steven Hartford Brookins; and a daughter, the Rev. Francine A. Brookins.





Published: May 24, 2012

Wesley A. Brown, a retired Navy lieutenant commander who endured intense racial hazing to become the first black graduate of the United States Naval Academy, died Tuesday in Silver Spring, Md. He was 85.

United States Naval Academy

Wesley A. Brown in 1949.

The cause was cancer, said his wife, Crystal.

Mr. Brown, who entered the academy in 1945 and graduated in 1949, was the sixth black man admitted in the 100-year history of the Annapolis military college but the first to withstand the kind of hazing that had forced the others to leave within a year, according to Navy historians.

White midshipmen refused to sit next to Mr. Brown, racial epithets were whispered behind his back, and fellow plebes barred him from joining the choir — all of it mixed with and hidden behind a torrent of regular hazing that underclassmen were expected to bear. He told interviewers that not a day passed when he did not consider quitting.

But unlike his predecessors, he said, Mr. Brown had the support of a handful of fellow midshipmen, who were friendly to him despite receiving threats from hostile classmates, and from the academy commandant, who intervened to protect him from excessive harassment.

“If not for that, I’m not sure I would have made it,” Mr. Brown told an interviewer.

One midshipman who visited his dorm room to talk and encouraged him to “hang in there,” Mr. Brown said, was Jimmy Carter, the future president, who was then an upperclassman and fellow member of the academy’s cross-country team.

In a speech last year at a Naval Academy event, Mr. Carter recalled Midshipman Brown as part of “my first personal experience with total integration.”

“A few members of my senior class attempted to find ways to give him demerits so that he would be discharged,” Mr. Carter said, “but Brown’s good performance prevailed.”

Blacks had served in the American armed forces since the Revolution. But for the most part they remained in segregated units until 1948, when President Harry S. Truman ordered the integration of the services. Attempts to integrate the academies, beginning after the Civil War, had met intense resistance. Only a half-dozen blacks had graduated from West Point, for instance, by the time Mr. Brown decided to seek a commission as the first black graduate of the naval academy.

Mr. Brown’s career as a naval midshipman was widely covered in both black newspapers and mainstream ones. When he graduated, he told The New York Times that he had “really enjoyed” his four years as a midshipman — except for the publicity, which he called “a bad angle.”

“I feel it is unfortunate the American people have not matured enough to accept an individual on the basis of his ability and not regard a person as an oddity because of his color,” he said. “My class standing shows that around here, I am an average Joe.” He was ranked 370th in a class of 790.

He first publicly discussed his hazing with the Navy historian Robert J. Schneller Jr., who interviewed him for his 2005 book, “Breaking the Color Barrier: The U.S. Naval Academy’s First Black Midshipmen and the Struggle for Racial Equality.” In an interview on Thursday, Mr. Schneller expanded on Mr. Brown’s version of why he made it through four years when others had not.

“He made it because he was a gentle guy, and a hard worker, who came from a community where they taught their children not to believe the bull white people gave them about the black man’s ‘limited abilities’ — who taught them that they could do what they wanted,” Mr. Schneller said.

Wesley Anthony Brown was born in Washington on April 3, 1927, the only child of William and Rosetta Brown. His father drove a truck for a produce market, and his mother worked in a laundry. During most of Mr. Brown’s childhood the family shared a large house near Logan Circle, owned by his grandmother Katie Shepherd, with many other relatives.

Mr. Brown became active in the neighborhood church, a nexus for community activists, including the district’s congressional representative. He recommended Mr. Brown to the Harlem congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr., who wanted to appoint a black candidate for the naval academy.

As a Navy civil engineer, Mr. Brown served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars and worked on Navy construction projects around the world before retiring in 1969. He was a facilities manager and planner at Howard University in Washington until 1988.

In 2008, the Naval Academy dedicated a new facility for athletic programs, the Wesley Brown Field House. The $25 million structure was built with many innovative features, academy officials said, including a skinlike shell made from blastproof glass.

Besides his wife, he is survived by two daughters, Wiletta Scott and Carol Jackson; two sons, Wesley Jr., and Gary; and seven grandchildren.

Throughout his life Mr. Brown loyally attended class reunions. In a 2006 interview with The Baltimore Sun, he described former classmates who sometimes approached him. “They’ll say, ‘I was very mean and ugly to you when you were a midshipman,’ ” he said. “Lots of times I’ll say, ‘I don’t remember you and don’t remember you doing anything like that, so forget it.’ ”

He added: “You remember the good stuff. A lot of the bad stuff — I can’t relate to it.”

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: May 25, 2012

An earlier version of this obituary referred incorrectly to Mr. Brown as a cadet; he was a midshipman, at the United States Naval Academy.





Published: May 24, 2012

Hal Jackson, a veteran broadcaster who broke down racial barriers, becoming one of the first black disc jockeys to reach a large white audience and an omnipresent voice on New York City radio for more than 50 years, died on Wednesday in Manhattan. He was 96.

His death was announced by WBLS (107.5 FM), the New York station where he continued to host a weekly program until a few weeks before his death.

Mr. Jackson, whose eclectic musical taste and laid-back manner helped define black radio, began his career in the late 1930s, when it was a challenge for a black announcer just to get a foot in the door.

At a time when segregation was widespread, he was a familiar voice to black and white listeners alike. At one point in the 1950s, he was hosting three shows — one rhythm-and-blues, one jazz and one pop — on three different New York radio stations.

As a radio executive, he helped found Inner City Broadcasting and establish the urban contemporary format, rooted in black music but appealing to a racially diverse audience. In the 1970s, it came to dominate the airwaves, first in New York City — where WBLS became the No. 1 station in the market — and then across the country.

He was the first African-American inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame, in 1990, and among the first five inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame, in 1995.

“Hal was the constant voice of black America,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said Thursday. “From M.L.K. to a black president, he literally was the one who connected those dots.”

Harold Baron Jackson was born in Charleston, S.C., probably on Nov. 3, 1915. (He explained in his autobiography, “The House That Jack Built,” that his birth, like that of many Southern blacks in those years, was not officially recorded.) He was one of five children of Eugene Baron Jackson, a tailor, and the former Laura Rivers. Both his parents died when he was a child, and he lived with relatives in Charleston and New York before settling in Washington, where he graduated from Dunbar High School and attended classes at Howard University.

Avidly interested in sports, he approached the management of WINX, owned by The Washington Post, in 1939 about covering black sports events for the station. Told that station policy prohibited hiring black announcers, he took a different tack: he persuaded a white-owned advertising agency to buy time on WINX for a 15-minute interview and entertainment show, without revealing that he was involved. As he recalled, he showed up in the studio at the last possible moment and was on the air with “The Bronze Review” before management could stop him.

“When I started, the business was so segregated,” Mr. Jackson said in 2008. “Fortunately, that didn’t last long.”

Indeed, once the station’s color line had been broken, Mr. Jackson went on to host a music show there and to broadcast Howard University football and Negro league baseball. He also became a sports entrepreneur, assembling an all-black basketball team, the Washington Bears, which won the invitational World Professional Basketball Tournament in 1943.

By the end of the decade Mr. Jackson could be heard on four different stations in the Washington area, most notably WOOK in Silver Spring, Md., where he established his warm, low-key radio persona with the music show “The House That Jack Built.” That approach, in contrast to the hyperkinetic jive-talking style of other black announcers, influenced generations of disc jockeys.

“How are you?” he would begin. “This is Hal Jackson, the host that loves you the most, welcoming you to ‘The House That Jack Built.’ We’re rolling out the musical carpet, and we’ll be spinning a few just for you. So come on in, sit back, relax and enjoy your favorite recording stars from here to Mars.”

While in Washington he was also a civil rights fund-raiser and broke into television as host of a local variety show broadcast live from the Howard Theater in the spring and summer of 1949.

Mr. Jackson moved to New York in 1954, and within a few years he was broadcasting almost around the clock, juggling three shows on three stations, including WABC’s live midnight broadcast from the jazz nightclub Birdland. (He was the first black announcer to host a continuing network radio show.) In the late 1950s, he also briefly had his own Sunday morning children’s television show.

Mr. Jackson’s hectic schedule was interrupted in 1960 when he was caught up in the so-called payola scandal, charged with accepting bribes to play certain records and forced off the air for a while in New York. The charges were eventually dropped.

He began his long career as an executive in the early 1960s as program director of the Queens station WWRL. He went on to produce and host concerts at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, in Central Park and at Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey. He helped establish the Miss Black Teenage America pageant, later renamed Hal Jackson’s Talented Teens International. He also organized fund-raising events for civil rights causes and was among the first to lobby for making the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a national holiday.

In 1971 he was one of a group of black entertainers, businessmen and politicians, among them Percy Sutton, the Manhattan borough president, who formed Inner City Broadcasting and bought WLIB-AM and its FM sister station, which became the first black-owned radio station in the city.

As vice president of the FM station, which was renamed WBLS, Mr. Jackson hired the disc jockey Frankie Crocker as program director and oversaw the station’s shift from jazz to what Mr. Crocker christened urban contemporary radio: a slick blend of rhythm-and-blues, dance music and other genres designed to appeal to young listeners across racial lines. (In later years hip-hop was added.) When Mr. Crocker left, Mr. Jackson became program director; by the mid-1970s, WBLS was the No. 1 station in New York.

Working behind the scenes at Inner City rather than behind the microphone, Mr. Jackson helped shape programming at stations acquired by the company around the country as it grew into the first black-owned radio empire. But when a slot opened on Sunday mornings at WBLS, he decided to return to the air.

His “Sunday Morning Classics,” a mix of music from different eras and genres, made its debut in 1982. Originally two hours, it grew at one point to an eight-hour extravaganza. As “Sunday Classics,” the program was most recently on from noon to 4 p.m.

Mr. Jackson’s co-host on “Sunday Classics” was his fourth wife, the former Debi Bolling. His previous three marriages ended in divorce. His wife survives him, as do two daughters, Jane and Jewell; a son, Hal Jackson Jr., a former Wisconsin Supreme Court justice; and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

“Hal Jackson was one of the last living links to when black voices were as rare on radio as they were on the silver screen,” the author and filmmaker Nelson George said Thursday. “He connected several generations of listeners to the bounty of great African-American music by not always observing the artificial boundaries between jazz, blues, Broadway, and rhythm and blues.”

Mr. George, whose books include “The Death of Rhythm and Blues,” said Mr. Jackson had “helped black people see the best in themselves, both before and after the civil rights movement.”

In recent years, Inner City Broadcasting fell on hard times. In 2011, the company, under legal pressure from its creditors, agreed to enter Chapter 11 bankruptcy. (It has since been bought by the investment group YMF Media.) As part of the process, the company proposed hiring a chief restructuring officer. The one stipulation Inner City requested was that the officer be forbidden to fire four specific people. One of the four was Hal Jackson.

Peter Keepnews and Rebecca R. Ruiz contributed reporting.





Published: May 20, 2012

Robin Gibb, one of the three singing brothers of the Bee Gees, the long-running Anglo-Australian pop group whose chirping falsettos and hook-laden disco hits like “Jive Talkin’ ” and “You Should Be Dancing” shot them to worldwide fame in the 1970s, died on Sunday in London. He was 62 and lived in Thame, Oxfordshire, England.

Sean O’Meara/Getty Images

Robin Gibb, center, with his brothers Barry and Maurice in 1971.

Tracy Brand/Associated Press

Robin Gibb performed in Dubai in 2008.

The cause was complications of cancer and intestinal surgery, his family said in a statement.

Mr. Gibb had been hospitalized for intestinal problems several times in the last two years. Cancer had spread from his colon to his liver, and in the weeks before his death he had pneumonia and for a while was in a coma.

Mr. Gibb was the second Bee Gee and third Gibb brother to die. His fraternal twin and fellow Bee Gee, Maurice Gibb, died of complications of a twisted intestine in 2003 at 53. The youngest brother, Andy, who had a successful solo career, was 30 when he died of heart failure, in 1988.

With brilliant smiles, polished funk and adenoidal close harmonies, the Bee Gees — Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb — were disco’s ambassadors to Middle America in the 1970s, embodying the peacocked look of the time in their open-chested leisure suits and gold medallions.

They sold well over 100 million albums and had six consecutive No. 1 singles from 1977 to 1979. They were also inextricably tied to the disco era’s defining movie, “Saturday Night Fever,” a showcase for their music that included the hit “Stayin’ Alive,” its propulsive beat in step with the strut of the film’s star, John Travolta.

But the group, whose first record came out in 1963, had a history that preceded its disco hits, starting with upbeat ditties inspired by the Everly Brothers and the Beatles, then with lachrymose ballads like “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart.”

Barry, the oldest brother, was the dominant Bee Gee for most of the group’s existence. But the lead singer for many of the early hits was Robin, whose breaking voice, gaunt frame and gloomy eyes were well suited to convey adolescent fragility. “I Started a Joke” (with the second line, “Which started the whole world crying”), “I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You,” “Massachusetts” and other heavy-hearted songs brought the Bee Gees to the top of the charts as one of the British Invasion’s most musically conservative groups.

“While other guys, like Ray Davies of the Kinks, were writing about social problems, we were writing about emotions,” Robin Gibb told a British newspaper last year. “They were something boys didn’t write about then because it was seen as a bit soft. But people love songs that melt your heart.”

Robin Hugh Gibb and his twin, Maurice, were born on Dec. 22, 1949, on the Isle of Man, a British dependency in the Irish Sea. (Barry was born there in 1946.) The boys largely grew up in Manchester, England, where the family lived on the edge of poverty. Their father, Hugh, a drummer and bandleader, encouraged his sons to sing. Their mother, Barbara, was also a singer.

According to Bee Gees lore, the boys’ first performance was sometime in the mid-1950s, and unplanned. They had been scheduled to perform as a lip-synching act at a movie theater in Manchester when the record broke, forcing them to sing for real.

The family moved to Australia in 1958, and before long the brothers, performing as the Bee Gees — for Brothers Gibb — began scoring local hits and appearing on television. They left for London in early 1967 and within weeks had signed with Robert Stigwood, the impresario who guided them in their peak years.

The band’s first single in Britain, “New York Mining Disaster 1941,” was released in April 1967 and reached the Top 20.

In performance, Robin and Maurice usually played second fiddle to Barry, and Robin’s taciturn manner was part of his public persona. On “The Barry Gibb Talk Show,” a recurring skit on “Saturday Night Live,” Barry, played by Jimmy Fallon, would repeatedly ask Robin, played by Justin Timberlake, if he had anything to add to his talks with congressmen and Supreme Court justices. “No,” Robin would reply softly. “No, I don’t.”

But in private Robin was far from dull. He and his wife, Dwina Murphy, who survives him, lived in a 12th-century former monastery in Oxfordshire that he had restored and filled with statues of Buddha and suits of armor. In Miami, his mansion was open to celebrities and politicians like Tony Blair.

Robin briefly left the group in 1969 and tried out a solo career. After he rejoined his brothers, they scored their first No. 1 in the United States with “How Can You Mend a Broken Heart” in 1971. But with harder rock taking over, the Bee Gees’ popularity ebbed, reaching bottom in 1974 with a series of supper-club gigs in England to pay off tax debts.

At that point their label, Atlantic, sent the brothers to Miami for musical experimentation. There, with the 1975 album “Main Course,” they reinvented the Bee Gees’ sound with Latin and funk rhythms, electronic keyboards and vocals that owed a debt to Philadelphia soul. It brought the band its first hits in years: “Nights on Broadway” and “Jive Talkin’,” which went to No. 1.

From there it moved further toward disco. The soundtrack to “Saturday Night Fever,” in 1977 — with “You Should Be Dancing,” “How Deep Is Your Love?,” “Stayin’ Alive” and “Night Fever,” all No. 1’s — became the biggest-selling album ever. (It was overtaken by Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” in 1984.)

For many listeners, the Gibbs were the face of disco. Even “Sesame Street” got caught up in the trend, with Robin singing on the disco-themed album “Sesame Street Fever.” It went gold.

The Bee Gees’ 1979 album, “Spirits Having Flown,” produced three more No. 1 singles, “Too Much Heaven,” “Tragedy” and “Love You Inside Out.” Then, in 1980, the band filed a $200 million lawsuit against Mr. Stigwood, saying he had swindled them out of royalties. Mr. Stigwood countersued for defamation and breach of contract. They settled out of court and publicly reconciled.

In the ’80s the band’s popularity waned in the United States but remained strong abroad. Robin released three solo albums, with limited success. The Bee Gees returned with some moderate hits in the late 1990s and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997. With his brothers, Mr. Gibb won six Grammys.

In addition to his wife and his brother Barry, Robin Gibb is survived by his sons, Spencer and Robin-John, known as R J; his daughters, Melissa and Snow; a sister, Lesley; and his mother. An earlier marriage, to Molly Hullis, ended in divorce.

Mr. Gibb had recently been working on a classical piece, “The Titanic Requiem,” with Robin-John. It had its premiere in London on April 10, played by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, but Robin was too ill to attend.

Despite the Bee Gees’ close association with disco, the Gibb brothers had long insisted that they had no stake in the genre. They had simply written songs that suited their voices and caught their fancy, they said.

“We always thought we were writing R&B grooves, what they called blue-eyed soul,” Robin said in 2010. “We never heard the word disco; we just wrote groove songs we could harmonize strongly to, and with great melodies.”

“The fact you could dance to them,” he added, “we never thought about.”




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1882 Transit of Venus

© 2003 University of California Observatories / Lick Observatory.

Reanimating the 1882 Transit of Venus

June 8, 2004 | Travel 130 years back in time to watch Venus transit the Sun in 1882, thanks to the discovery of 147 forgotten photographs taken by David Peck Todd from Mount Hamilton in California. > read more

Pro-Am Teamwork on the Rise

May 24, 2012 | As demonstrated this week during a gathering of observers in Big Bear, California, amateur and professional astronomers are joining forces as never before. > read more

GALEX Gets New Lease on Life

May 23, 2012 | NASA decided to shut down its Galaxy Evolution Explorer in Februrary. But now Caltech has stepped in with private funding to keep the mission going. > read more


Close-up of Venus transit

S&T: Dennis di Cicco

How to Photograph the Transit of Venus

May 3, 2012 | Learn how to photograph the upcoming transit of Venus. > read more

What to Know before You Buy

May 22, 2012 | Telescopes come in an overwhelming variety of sizes, shapes, and prices. To make sense of this embarrassment of riches, you need to ask yourself a few basic questions. > read more

Venus Takes the Plunge

May 1, 2012 | The brightest planet has dominated the evening sky for months. But during May it sinks rapidly toward the setting Sun — and its historic transit across the solar disk in early June. > read more

Tour May’s Sky by Eye and Ear!

April 15, 2012 | Follow the giant arc of bright planets that leads eastward from the just-set Sun: Venus low in the west, Mars midway up in the south, and Saturn over in the east. Then look overhead for the Big Dipper — the “Swiss Army knife” of the night sky. > read more

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

Twilight view, May 30 and 31

This Week’s Sky at a Glance

May 25, 2012 | Venus drops low in the sunset as its crescent thins to a brilliant hairline — on its way to transiting the face of the Sun next week. > read more

SkyWeek Television Show
View SkyWeek as seen on PBS click here to watch this week’s episodeSponsored by Meade Instruments

May 21 - 27, 2012 Powered by TheSkyX from Software Bisque

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What Fires Young Progressives’ Activism? A New Study Asks Them


In one of the first studies involving Occupy participants, the Applied Research Center gathered young activists from multiple movements in focus groups to ask, What propels you to the political frontline?

What Started a Mississippi Prison Riot? Depends on Who You Ask

A facility holding non-citizen inmates went on lockdown after a weekend riot. Seth Freed Wessler reports on what some inmates say sparked the unrest.

Explaining White Privilege: Life’s ‘Lowest Difficulty Setting’

Channing Kennedy talks to John Scalzi about holding other straight white dudes accountable on social justice issues.

‘Minorities’? It’s Not Even Accurate. Try ‘People of Color’ “People of color” is now commonly used far beyond political circles, as “minority” fades into the category of things that used to be true. It is past time for the media and the general public to embrace the phrase.

The Growing Debate Over the Voting Rights Act Section 5 is the ankle bracelet for certain jurisdictions on house arrest for repeated voting rights violations. Those districts say its time they be set free

As the Court Decides Health Reform, East Oakland Fights for the Basics Once home to good manufacturing jobs, East Oakland today is a microcosm of the structural components of racial health disparities. One community-led health project could be a model for the future.

At San Francisco’s Latino Comics Expo, Artists Create Their Own Heroes Confessionals about family and tattoos? A Mesoamerican answer to Game of Thrones? E.T. in a sombrero? These comic artists are doing it all, and doing it for themselves.

Poll: People of Color More Likely to Support Gay Marriage Than WhitesA new poll found people of color are more likely to support gay marriage than whites with black support at record high.

Pixar is Jumping on Boat to Capture Latino Audience with New Día de los Muertos Movie Last month Pixar announced the filmmaking team behind the Academy Award-winning “Toy Story 3” is working on a film that delves into the Mexican holiday of Día de los Muertos.

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An Open Letter to the Good People of Iowa: Are You Crazy?

by  Mark Potok  on May 23, 2012

Dear Iowa,

I used to think you were a pretty straight-ahead place, what with all that flat land and healthy vegetables and honest living. I mean, Iowans rejected slavery 20 years before the Civil War and they approved interracial marriage a century before the Supreme Court. Homosexuality was decriminalized almost 30 years before the 2003 Lawrence vs. Texas decision did so nationwide. Today, control of the state’s legislature is split between Democrats and Republicans and, a few characters aside, it is not particularly known for political extremism. Like the corn it produces in such copious amounts, Iowa generally seemed a healthy and sensible place.

That idea of the state ended for me this morning, when I read the proposed platform released on Monday by the Platform Committee of the Republican Party of Iowa.

Are you people totally insane?

The platform, as first pointed out by ThinkProgress, is absolutely thick with ideas from the extreme right, lunatic conspiracy theories, and barely concealed hatred for President Obama and anything that smacks of multiculturalism. It sneers at science, is down on poor people, and despises, really despises, the United Nations.

Here’s a sampling of the deep-thinking goals of the Iowa GOP:

  • Require candidates for president to prove that they are “natural born citizens,” beginning with the 2012 election. After all, non-citizens serving as president have been a longstanding problem in American politics.
  • Reject the “claims” of global warming, which are “based on fraudulent, inaccurate information” and pushed by people using “extremist scare tactics.” The Iowa GOP “recognizes” that policies and laws designed to combat global warming are really “a plan to take our freedoms and liberties away.”
  • Oppose “the diabolical collusion of the United Nations” in promoting its Agenda 21, a non-binding global sustainability plan signed by President George H.W. Bush and the leaders of 177 other nations in 1992. Like the Republican National Committee, the Iowa GOP apparently believes Agenda 21 is part of an effort to impose global political control on the U.S.
  • Allow Iowa to “nullify” any federal laws it doesn’t like. Nullification was a failed legal argument made by opponents of the civil rights movement.
  • Eliminate the Federal Reserve Act and implement a “sound commodity-backed currency” with a gold or silver standard.
  • Fight the North American Union, “which would do away with our borders and sovereignty, and … [battle] the Amero, which would do away with our currency.” Although there actually are no secret plans to merge Mexico, the United States and Canada into a single entity — and replace our dollars with “Ameros” — that hasn’t stopped the conspiracy theorists.
  • In the same vein, “oppose so-called ‘World Government.’”
  • Entirely eliminate the departments of Agriculture, Education, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Energy, Interior, Labor and Commerce, along with the Transportation Safety Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Endowment for the Arts, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
  • Likewise, abolish the Internal Revenue Service and repeal the 16th Amendment, which legalized the federal income tax.
  • Require judges to instruct jurors that in addition to judging cases, they may pass on the law at issue. Commonly known as “jury nullification,” this is a highly controversial notion that is embraced by the radical right.
  • Oppose federal anti-bullying legislation because, after all, “students have the right and responsibility to stand up for themselves.”
  • Pass a “stand your ground” law, like the one that many believe led to the death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. By a large margin, most prosecutors and police oppose such laws, which make prosecuting many killings difficult.
  • Allow parents to refuse to have their children immunized.
  • Reject the teaching of multiculturalism.
  • Only teach evolution as a theory, along with creationism.
  • Repeal compulsory school attendance laws.
  • Outlaw pornography.
  • Impose “more severe consequences” for convicted juvenile offenders.
  • Eliminate the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which oversees job safety.
  • Repeal smoking bans because, as the platform statement asserts, “We believe this to be an issue of liberty.” Air quality in all businesses should be left up to owners’ “freedom to choose.”
  • Repeal all hate crime laws.
  • Oppose the imposition Shariah, or Islamic religious law, in the United States, along with any other foreign or “United Nations Law.”
  • Build a fence along the entire U.S. border with Mexico.
  • Eliminate no-fault divorce laws and require “good cause” to get a divorce.
  • End minimum wage laws.
  • Oppose abortion and reject the Supreme Court’s decision authorizing it. Encourage adoption and aid to unwed mothers — but only if every dollar of support comes from the private sector.
  • End subsidies to agriculture.

There’s more, but I’m getting tuckered out, what with sorting through this grab-bag of ridiculous conspiracy theories and just plain mean-spiritedness — an ideology that the Iowa platform committee says is all about the party’s main goal, which is “nothing more or less than a world set free.”

Set free, that is, from any connection to reality, critical thinking, or common sense.



“End subsidies to agriculture.”

Yes, by all means, end those federal subsidies, remove the tariffs against foreign subsidies (corn, wheat, to name a few), and see just where that will get you.

“Entirely eliminate the departments of Agriculture, Education, Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Energy, Interior, Labor and Commerce, along with the Transportation Safety Administration, the Food and Drug Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Endowment for the Arts, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”

Translation:  Go back to washing clothes in a river with a handheld wash board; dismantle interstate and intrastate legislation of commerce, be it on buses crossing state lines, or public accommodations, such as gas stations, inns and hotels; continue to let cities across America rot and decay from lack of revitalization and restructuring; get rid of the regulation of the foods and drugs that are consumed, allowing Big Pharma to put on the market drugs whose efficacy is unknown; get rid of the regulation of refineries and other companies, allowing them to dump harmful pollutants and chemicals  into rivers, lakes, estuaries and to bury highly radioactive contaminants anywhere they so desire; and most especially, get rid of grants and endowments made to up-and-coming artists. What the hell, who needs art and enrichment in their lives? Such a hassle.

“Pass a “stand your ground” law, like the one that many believe led to the death of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla. By a large margin, most prosecutors and police oppose such laws, which make prosecuting many killings difficult.”

By all means, pass a “Stand Your Ground Law”. What’s a little thing like killing someone because you felt they were going to do you in before you did them in? Be prepared to see much bloodshed with the passage of such a vigilante type law.

“Allow parents to refuse to have their children immunized.”

Let’s hear it for more measles, mumps,  and scarlet fever. Not to mention the return of rampant polio and the greatest scourge of all time–smallpox. Just because such diseases have been literally stamped out of America does not mean America should not go back to the Dark Ages of disease and suffering. Children:  who cares about their health? Obviously not these ReThuglicans.

“Likewise, abolish the Internal Revenue Service and repeal the 16th Amendment, which legalized the federal income tax”.

Well, if you are going to get rid of the federal income tax, then you need to do away with the following as well:  city, county, and state taxes. But, hold on now—if you get rid of taxes at the local level, be prepared to deal with no firemen (or fire women) responders, ambulance, city police, state police, paved streets, sewage and water drainage, water for your toilets or from your sink faucets, or any other entity that exists because of local taxes.

Platform Committee of the Republican Party of Iowa, you cannot have your cake and eat it too. Either get rid of all taxes, or shut up and deal with all taxes.

“Eliminate the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which oversees job safety.”

Whoo-oo! Injured on the job? Arm chewed off by malfunctioning machinery? So what. Take an aspirin and keep on working. The company you work for does not store hazardous chemicals properly, and looks the other way when you suffer from severe burns from improperly labeled bottles? Shut yer yap and slap a bandage on it. Companies that commit reckless disregard for their employees, well they do not have to worry about anymore $10,000-per-bottle fines when they flout and break every law that could have protected their employees.

“Build a fence along the entire U.S. border with Mexico.”

Just build it at the U.S.-Mexico border? Why leave Canada out of this grand gesture? Surely you do not want to hurt their feelings, do you now?

And just what type of fence should that be:  chain link; wrought iron; or white picket? Six feet high? Fifteen feet high? Fifty feet high?

Let me guess: Great Wall of China Fence.

But I’m sure the Iowa GOP has forgotten how long it took to build that particular fence. What the heck, it was such a piece of cake to construct.

“Oppose abortion and reject the Supreme Court’s decision authorizing it. Encourage adoption and aid to unwed mothers — but only if every dollar of support comes from the private sector.”

Yes, a return of the “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child” mantra. America never has been that way towards all of her citizens, and the repealing of Roe v. Wade will most definitely show that up. “Every dollar of support comes from the private sector”. Well, those mommies-to-be had better be prepared to take care of themselves. Somehow, barefoot-and-pregnant will be the least of their worries….which brings me to my favourite platform initiative of them all:

“End minimum wage laws.”

No more wages that get a young person’s foot into the door. No more pay commensurate with one’s skill. Hey employers, you can pay whatever you want.

Sorta like when Black women had to work as domestics-maids-cooks-wet nurses during Jane Crow segregation all for a whopping $2.00-$4.00 a day. I’m sure many employees cannot wait to see this law enacted.

Iowa crazy?

Well, let’s just say that if there is any question that America is slowly destroying herself from within, then this platform answers any questions on what the future holds for this nation.

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