Today’s Live Wire: Quick Links
- Russia’s Gay-Bashing, NBC’s Olympic Blinders
- The Crock of Florida’s Tax-Funded Private School Vouchers
- Saving Yosemite By Limiting Visitors
- Malcolm X Invented Peanut Butter and Other DC Discoveries
- Chesapeake Bay, World’s Biggest Gated Community, and Beach
- Finnegans Wake Through a Spell-Checker
- Spike Lee’s 87 Essential Films
Russia’s Gay-Bashing, NBC’s Olympic Blinders
From the Guardian: “The head of NBC Sports has responded to calls for the TV network to put a spotlight on Russia’s draconian new anti-gay laws in its coverage of the upcoming Winter Olympics, saying there would be reporting of the issue but only if it should emerge as a problem during the games. […] The comments from Lazarus are unlikely to tamp down calls from the LGBT community for NBC to highlight Russia’s aggressively anti-gay laws in its coverage of the Winter Olympics that is begin in Sochi on 6 February and run for 18 days. There have been widespread calls for protests and a boycott of the games. Last week the Washington-based LGBT advocacy group Human Rights Campaign wrote to the NBC parent company urging the network to use its broadcasting reach to expose “this inhumane and unjust law to the millions of American viewers who will tune in to watch the games”. Specifically, HRC called on the network to refuse to air the opening ceremony of the games. The new law, signed by President Vladimir Putin last month, imposes fines on those who spread propaganda “directed at forming nontraditional sexual setups” or that gives the “distorted understanding” that homosexuals are “socially equivalent” to heterosexuals. The “homosexual propaganda” penalised under the legislation includes wearing a rainbow flag or tweeting positive messages about gays or lesbians. The law also provides for the arrest of foreigners engaging in such activities for up to 15 days followed by deportation. The IOC said last week that it had been given assurances from the Russian government that the sanctions for foreign nationals would not be applied to those participating in the games.
Human Rights Campaign’s Letter to NBC on Russia and Gays in the Olympics
- We’re All Vikings Fans Today: Chris Kluwe Kicks Emmett Burns’s Gay Marriage Bigotries
- From Jackie Robinson to Jason Collins: Still Telling It On the Mountain
- France Becomes 14th Nation to Legalize Gay Marriage and Adoption in Historic Vote
The Crock of Florida’s Tax-Funded Private School Vouchers
From the St. Pete Times: “The number of students attending private schools on tax-credit scholarships jumped 27 percent last year, reaching a record high of 51,075 kids, according to the state Department of Education. The dramatic spike was the result of 2012 legislation increasing the amount of tax credits available. The bill prompted corporations to donate more money. There was also a surge in parent demand, said Doug Tuthill of Step Up for Students, the nonprofit that administers the scholarships. […] Observers say the record growth is likely to foreshadow new legislation aimed at further expanding the program. […] But a proposed expansion would also stir controversy. Since its debut in 2002, the scholarship program has met resistance from some Democrats and union leaders, who consider it part of a movement to privatize public education. “The reality is, when corporations are allowed to redirect their taxes away from state coffers, that’s money being taken away from public institutions and public education,” said Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami. “In this case, the money is going to private schools that are under-regulated and not subject to the same requirements as public schools.” The tax credit scholarship program is part of a broader spectrum of school choice in Florida. The past two decades have seen the proliferation of magnet, virtual and privately managed charter schools, as well as programs that help children from low-income families and children with disabilities attend private schools. […] The awards for 2013-14 have already been doled out, and about 5,000 children are on a waiting list. […] A report provided by Step Up for Students found that children in the program made the same gains in reading and math as public-school students who would be eligible.” The full story.
- Soaring Corporate Tax Credit Voucher Program Costing Flagler Schools Half a Million Dollars
- Public Money for Private Schools: Voucher Programs Set to Expand Across Florida
- How School-Voucher Lobbyist John Kirtley Buys Florida Lawmakers’ Votes
- Florida’s Corporate Step-Up Scheme: 51,075 Students Now Enrolled in Private Schools at Taxpayers’ Expense
Saving Yosemite By Limiting Visitors
Limit cars (and make Edward Abbey happy), limit noise, limit guns, but visitors? From the Times: “The National Park Service is proposing a significant makeover of Yosemite National Park that would change the way future generations of visitors experienced the park, especially the seven-mile-long Yosemite Valley at its heart. The Park Service’s plan would restore more than 200 acres of meadows, reorganize transportation and reduce traffic congestion. To shrink the human presence along the Merced River, park officials are also proposing closing nearby rental facilities for bicycling, horseback riding and rafting, and removing swimming pools, an ice rink and a stone bridge. As with most things related to one of the nation’s most beloved national parks, the plan has ignited fierce debate among environmentalists, campers, and officials in California and Washington. […] The National Park Service early this year released the 2,500-page plan, called the Merced River Plan, in response to a long-running lawsuit charging that it was failing to preserve the river. The stretch of the Merced inside Yosemite was designated a National Wild and Scenic River in 1987 and is protected under federal law. After the Merced flooded in 1997 and destroyed many facilities, the Park Service drew up a rebuilding plan in 2000 that would also protect the river. Two environmental groups sued the Park Service, and a succession of courts rejected the first plan as well as a revised plan in 2005. After a federal appeals court ruling in 2008, the Park Service began working on its current, third plan. The agency had been required to produce a final plan by the end of July but was granted a five-month extension on Thursday. Scott Gediman, a spokesman for Yosemite, said the current plan incorporated more scientific analysis and public input than the two previous ones. In the public comment period after the release of the plan in January, he said, the Park Service has held 60 public meetings and received 30,000 comments, two-thirds of which supported the plan. The final plan must satisfy the 2008 federal appeals court ruling, which pointed specifically to the commercial services near the Merced as contributing to “the level of degradation already experienced in the Merced.” “We want, for the American public, a plan that not only protects the river and provides the access but has to be legally sufficient,” Mr. Gediman said. Greg Adair, the leader of Friends of Yosemite Valley, one of the two groups that sued the Park Service, said there was insufficient scientific analysis underlying the current plan. He said the plan was about the “status quo” and should have done more to decrease commercial services.” The full story.
Malcolm X Invented Peanut Butter and Other DC Discoveries
The website dcist ran a feature of things overheard in and around the nation’s capital. Here are a few choice bits: At the feast of music at the French Embassy a few weeks ago: “Group of 20 somethings waiting in a food line. Guy to his friends: “Malcolm X invented peanut butter.” One of his friends (after a long silence): “Uhh…” Guy: “Oh wait, that was George Washington Carver. What did Malcolm X do?”
“At the Navy Yard station after a Nationals game: Random drunk guy 20-something to his friend who is dropping his change from the fare card machine: “What are you doing? Those are like silver dollars” Friend: “What’s a silver dollar worth?”
“In the lobby of Ford’s Theatre: Teenage tourist son and tourist mom are milling around at intermission. The son is pointing at Petersen House, which features a large sign reading “HOUSE WHERE LINCOLN DIED.” Son: “Is that where they took Lincoln?” Mom: “No, I don’t think so. It was somewhere else.”
Chesapeake Bay, World’s Biggest Gated Community, and Beach
Let’s hope this doesn’t migrate to Florida. From the Washington Post: “It’s so big that it can be seen from space — 11,684 miles of shimmering shoreline, equaling the distance of the entire West Coast, from Mexico to Canada. But in this boiling-hot summer, good luck trying to get your boat or your body into the refreshing waters of the Chesapeake Bay. Only 2 percent of the bay has public access points for kayaks, canoes, fishing, bathing and other recreation. And some of those places are so packed with visitors on sunny weekends that motorists are forced to drive away or wait until someone leaves. The development of farmland and sales of private homes, combined with the deterioration of aging public docks and ramps, have blocked access to the bay and its rivers and streams from the general public. “I call it the world’s biggest gated community, the Chesapeake Bay. There are probably 100 beaches in Anne Arundel County, but they are private beaches,” said Mike Lofton, a retired economic development executive and an activist for bay access whose efforts helped open a public beach at Jack Creek Park, south of Annapolis, last week. “For the general Jack and Jill, there’s no other beach to go to.” […] Nonprofit groups such as the National Parks Conservation Association, Potomac Riverkeeper and West-Rhode Riverkeeper also are pushing for ways to get people to the water. The conservation association launched Freedom to Float in January to encourage residents to paddle the transportation and communication corridors of Native Americans and American colonists, and walk historic trails such as the Captain John Smith Chesapeake and Star-Spangled Banner national historic trails. […] A 2006 study by the Active Outdoor Recreation Economy found that paddle-based recreation — canoes, kayaks and such, along with fishing — have a national economic value of $97.5 billion. On a more basic level, impoverished anglers across six states rely on the fish they catch to feed their families, said Pam Goddard, Chesapeake and Virginia program manager for the association. […] In some urban areas such as the District, there are seven-to-15-mile stretches where people can’t get to water. The result: trespassing, a lack of concern about the region’s storied American Revolution and Civil War history, and apathy about eco-tourism. […] Homeowners frown on trespassers, who sometimes talk loudly and leave trash. On the other hand, Lofton said, the bay and its tributaries belong to the people. “They’re concerned about their quality of life; they’re protective of it. I can understand a concern about more people and more boats being overwhelming,” Lofton said. But “it’s the public’s property. You’re darn right. And we paid for it with flush fees and storm-water fees,” he said. “Doggone it, if you’re going to make everybody pay, then everybody should benefit.”
Finnegans Wake Through a Spell-Checker
Spike Lee’s 87 Essential Films
Regarding the Homophobic issues in Russia:
I can’t believe half the things in todays world happen…but they do. I guess this is what our government would have come to if our entire government was packed with people against gays. I am glad I live in the USA and the home of the free…well partially free. There’s a lot of work to be done on that front.
On a second note, a lot of our athletes are gay…does this mean that they will be arrested in Russia? THEY better not lay a hand on our athletes for being gay. I hope the USA will protect athletes…and that when the USA marches they hold a rainbow flag.