Monday, November 30, 2009

Guy Who Built Campus Gulag Attempts to Disrupt Rally and Fails

John Burns, the owner of a local construction company who built a gulag on the Washington University Campus in cooperation with the university chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), recently attended the Show Me No Hate rally outside of the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica along with take-videos-out-of-context-then-selectively-edit-them-and-refuse-to-release-entire-videographer James O'Keefe and another friend. His group attempted to disrupt the rally and then groped each other for a while, but fortunately the rally organizers recognized them early on and were able to keep them from disrupting the events.

For those who don't know the backstory, Burns was the spokesperson for the gulag that was built on the WashU campus and then taken down. The gulag was intended to raise awareness about the evils of communism, and they passed out fliers that suggested that everything from child labor laws to AmeriCorps were indications that we were moving in the direction of Marxism. The administration at WashU decided to shut the display down, citing their policies on art installations and amplified sound. Although I don't really know the details, my opinion based on what I know so far is that the administration probably overreacted and would have been better off leaving the display alone, but I'd guess that one of the reasons they decided to shut it down is that there were so many off-campus people involved in the display relative to actual students. Bill Hennessy, Jim Hoft, John Burns, James O'Keefe, and Darin Morley were all at the display along with only a very small number of students from YAL. Anyway, I'll let Burns present his version of what happened:

All the local right-wing bloggers predictably were upset about the gulag being taken down. And they furthermore spent a lot of time interviewing Burns about it. But, during all of these blog posts, they someone forgot to mention that Burns is not actually a student at the university. In fact, they pretty much systematically introduced YAL as a student group and then described Burns as a leader, despite the fact that Burns is not actually a student. Not the world's biggest scandal, but worth noting nonetheless.

So anyway, Burns, O'Keefe, and another guy all attended the Show Me No Hate Rally on Saturday. You saw Burns in the video above, and here he is at the rally with his two friends:
It might be hard to recognize Burns without the goatee at first glance, but fortunately Dana Loesch was kind enough to ID him for us the day before:
Also, the guy with glasses was also at the gulag display (I don't know if he's a student or not):
(picture from Gateway Pundit)

And of course the guy in the striped shirt is James O'Keefe.

And how did they act at the rally at the Basilica, which was a rally to protest the local Catholic Church using $10,000 to ban gay marriage in Maine? According to people who were there, they originally posed as being in support of the rally. However, after they were handed a sign, they wrote "Free Abortions" on the back and tried to hold it up for people attending mass. Fortunately, protest organizers were able to block them. Then, when Ed Reggi was speaking, they kept yelling"What about health care!" which had nothing to do with the message of the rally. O'Keefe screamed something about an old lady assaulting him. And, in their grand finale, they started groping each other.

John Burns created a lot of controversy in the gulag display when he was quoted at the end of a StudLife article as follows:
“I guess the students at Washington University were in a gulag all along, and the administration proved it through their stifling of free speech,” Burns said.
Well, I guess Burns cares so much about free speech that he tried to distort a peaceful message from people who are fighting for their civil rights. Right wing hypocrasy at its finest.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Invite Your Friends to Activist Hub!

Hi, if you think the Activist Hub is a helpful guide to weekly events and other useful information, you can invite your friends to the group really easily. It only takes a few clicks to invite all of your facebook friends in a network.

First, go to the St. Louis Activist Hub page. Then, click on "Invite People to Join" on the left side of the screen:
Then, when the next screen comes up, select, "Filter Friends" on the left side of the screen above peoples names:
Select the "St. Louis" network, or the campus network you belong to. Finally, click "select all" on the right side of the screen to select all of your friends in that network:

Then just click "Send Invitation."
It's that easy, but it can make a big difference. If you have a chance, please take the time to help keep progressives and activists in St. Louis connected, so that we can all work together for a better St. Louis! Thanks!

BREAKING: Harris Himes Changes Story! Big Time!

Right wing blogger Gateway Pundit interviewed Harris Himes, who was one of the witnesses who claimed to have seen Elston McCowan and Perry Molens's "assault' of Kenneth Gladney outside of Russ Carnahan's townhall on August 6. And let me tell you, if you've been following this story, the interview was a doozy!

Here's the problem for the official tea party story. In the original police report, both Harris Himes and his wife claimed to have seen McCowan and Molens punching Gladney. However, in his new version, Himes claims that he wasn't looking when the fight started, and that his wife turned away right when it started! In other words, he admits that he did not see the part of the altercation that the right-wingers say was the horrible beating! This is especially interesting in light of the questions I've raised previously about Himes's credibility. Here's the interview from Gateway Pundit, and I'll go into more detail below:
So, the police report describes Himes testimony as follows:
Witness H. Himes stated that as he was leaving the school gymnasium, he saw Suspect McCowan talking to Victim Gladney. He stated he saw Suspect McCowan reach over the table and punch Victim Gladney in the face. This assault knocked the victim off balance. Suspect Molens then went around the table and pulled Victim Gladney over the table backwards by the back of his shirt collar. He began to punch and kick Victim Gladney. Witness H. Himes added that while Suspect Molens was kicking and punching Victim Gladney, Suspect McCowan then joined in on the assault.
However, in the new video Himes said (0:29):
And so I looked back because I heard a noise behind. And, it was my wife however, who could corroborate the fact that it was really a hate crime because she heard the black man who claims he's a minister also said "what's a ..... doing here" ... that was essentially what she heard. And I looked back and then I saw this guy slap Gladney...slap his hand away and start striking him but the other big white guy grabbed him and threw him down to the ground. So I came back, and I was trying to get them off Gladney, and my wife was circling to keep any of the others from jumping me. And so then we got them off and broke it up once and then they attacked him again. "
This is radically different than the initial story. First of all, Himes admits that he did not see how the fight started, even though the original police report suggests that he did. Second, he now claims that he first saw McCowan "slap Gladney's hand." In the original police report, he claimed that McCowan had reached "over the table" and punched Gladney. The fact that he said he saw him slapping Gladney's hand is especially significant since one of the original questions I raised was why Gladney says, at 0:43 of the original video of the altercation, "why'd you hit my hands?" If Gladney had just been beaten up, why would he ask about his hands? Likewise, if Himes had witnessed Gladney being severely beaten, why would he talk about his hands getting slapped? This of course dovetails with the with strangeness of the fact that Gladney was clearly walking around and looked uninjured in the original video, but then showed up in a wheelchair purportedly unable to walk or talk a few days later.

Furthermore, Himes then says that he he saw Molens come over and throw Gladney, "to the ground." But of course, this is the part we already saw in the video (when Molens is pulling Gladney, who looks like he's about to throw a punch, away from McCowan who's laying on the ground) , while the official right-wing story is that the alleged assault happened before the video. In other words, from what I can tell, basically all Himes witnessed other than a "hand slap" is the same thing that we saw on the video!

And what about his wife? In the police report, it says:
Witness #2, Sandra Himes', statement of the incident concurred with Harris' account of the incident. She did add that Victim Gladney did nothing to provoke this assualt.
But in the interview with Gateway Pundit, Harris has this to say (0:22):
Well, actually my wife had stopped to look at the buttons and the flags he was handing out, and just as she turned away, that's when he was attacked by the two SEIU guys..."
In other words, she did not see how the fight started either, because she had "just" turned away! But, again, this is in direct contradiction to the police report, which implied that she was a witness to the actual events. Furthermore, his story doesn't say anything about the two other people who Gladney and David Brown claimed also attacked Gladney.

In other words, Harris Himes has just told a story that contradicts the testimony of two of the three witnesses who claimed that Gladney was brutally beaten. I really hope the county prosecutors had some better evidence than what was presented in the initial police report when they decided to file charges, because so far I don't see how Elston McCowan could be charged with anything.

Bonus Link: While I was digging around for this story, I found a couple more falsehoods from Brown and Gladney. First, David Brown claims in an interview with Faux News that he witnessed the entire event (3:34), despite the fact that you can see that he walked over to the scene during the video, only after picking up his stuff and putting it in the car. And (3:23) Gladney claims that "i got up, kinda dazed, looking for my glasses, and then one guy was coming at me again and that's when the police came in" when the video clearly shows this to be false. No one was "coming after' Gladney when he was looking for his glasses. This story is so ridiculously full of holes!

St. Louis Activist Events for Nov. 30 - Dec. 6

This week's events:

Monday, Nov. 30, The LGBTQ Alliance and other groups at Webster are holding a talk titled Self Love by professor Donna White as part of World AIDS week. The talk will be at 6 PM in the Library Conference Room. #WORLD AIDS WEEK

Also Monday is the last meeting of the year for the St. Louis Young Democrats. It's at 6:30 at their 1922 Cherokee office. #POLITICS

Also Monday is a Community Gala at the Regional Arts Commission (6128 Delmar) at 7 PM. Profits raised at a silent auction will go to the LGBT Center of Metropolitan St. Louis. #COMMUNITY #LGBT

Also Monday is the Co-op Cafe at the WashU Co-op from 8:30 to 10 PM. #COMMUNITY

Tuesday, Dec. 1, Nobel Peace Prize Winner Elie Wiesel will be speaking at Saint Louis University, in the Wool Ballroom of the Busch Student Center, at 7 PM. Doors open at 6:30. For an challenging take on Wiesel's moral outlook, read Micheal's earlier post.

Also Tuesday, there will be a special World AIDS Day Service at Christ Church Cathedral at 6 PM and one at the Metropolitan Community Church of Greater St. Louis (1919 S. Broadway) at 7 PM. #WORLD AIDS WEEK

Wednesday, Dec. 2, there will be a protest of the Stupak amendment on the corner of Chestnut and N. Broadway from 8 AM to 9:30 AM.

Thursday, Dec. 3, there will be a Cocktails for a Cause happy hour at Miso on Meramec where donations go to the World Food Program from 5:30 to 6:30 PM.

Also Thursday, there will be a Drupal Meetup at the Foam Coffeehouse (3359 South Jefferson) from 7 to 10 PM. #COMMUNITY

Also Thursday will be the December edition of City Affair, with a theme of The Next Great Streets of St. Louis. City Affair will be at 3151 Cherokee at 7:30 PM. #COMMUNITY

Friday, Dec. 4, there will be a presentation at Eden Seminary on The Bible, Gender Difference, and Sexuality at Eden Seminary by Dr. Steve Patterson at 9 AM. #LGBT

Also Friday, a piece of performance art combatting student apathy will occur on the WashU campus, time TBA. It's called "Keep Moving" based on the commands issued by police during recent protests. The concept of the event is very interesting; you can read it here. #ARTS

Also Friday, a group of climate change activists will be meeting to plan at Kayak's (276 N. Skinker) at 4 PM. #ENVIRONMENTALISM

Also Friday is the annual happy hour for I-Squared, a young professionals group for the International Institute of St. Louis. The event will be at the Gramophone (4243 Manchester) from 6 to 8 PM. #COMMUNITY

Also Friday is the 6th Annual Working Class Media and Democracy Forum at the Operating Engineers Hall (2929 S. Jefferson) from 7 to 8:30 PM. #ECONOMICS

Also Friday, there's a concert at the Sunnen Lounge in the University Center at Webster at 8 PM as part of World AIDS Week. #WORLD AIDS WEEK #ARTS

Also Friday, a gathering has been organized at the Complex Nightclub against the hate crime that took place last weekend where three young gay men were assaulted. The rally will be start at 11 PM at 3511 Chouteau. #LGBT

Friday through Sunday is the Big Ass Indie Art and Craft Show at the Mad Art Gallery (2727 S. 12th). #ARTS

Saturday, Dec. 5, a new program called World Talks has organized an opportunity for students in St. Louis to speak with students in Uganda. The discussion will be in McMillan 149 on the WashU Campus.

Also Saturday, the Urban Studio Cafe (2815 N. 14th) will be hosting Northside for Sustainability, a community discussion of how we can get our political leaders to take action on climate change from 2 to 3:15 PM. Climate change is a social justice issue! #ENVIRONMENTALISM

Also Saturday, ReVitalize St. Louis is holding it's year end party at Rue Lafayette (2024 Lafayette Ave) from 5 to 7 PM. #COMMUNITY

Also Saturday, the Student Labor Action Project (SLAP) is hosting a Inter-Campus Progressive Student Potluck at the WashU Co-Op (6021 Pershing) from 6 to 9 PM.Y #CAMPUS ACTIVISM

Also Saturday, the ACLU of Eastern Missouri is holding the 38th Annual Celebration of the Bill of Rights at the Missouri History Museum from 6:30 to 9 PM. #CIVIL LIBERTIES

Also Saturday, Pride St. Louis is holding a Naughty or Nice Holiday Review at the Complex Nightclub from 11 PM to 2 AM. #LGBT

Sunday, Dec. 6, the Autonomy Alliance at SIUE is holding Left-Wing School from 9 AM to 4 PM at Peck Hall 2413 and 2414 in Edwardsville. #ECONOMICS #CAMPUS ACTIVISM

Also Sunday, there's a Book Fair Fundraiser for the Jewish Fund for Human Needs from 10 AM to 9 PM at the Borders in Creve Coeur (11745 Olive).

Also Sunday, there's a planning meeting for those wishing to commemorate the General Strike of 1877 from 4:30 to 7 PM at SIUE. #ECONOMICS

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tea Party Overestimates Crowd Size Beyond Boundaries of Rational Thought

It's not hugely shocking to hear that the Tea Parties across the country have been massively overestimating their attendance at events since they first started.   But Sean over at Fired Up had a great catch recently.  The St. Louis Tea Party has repeatedly claimed that they had over 10,000 people in Keiner Plaza for their April "Life's Not Fair Because We Hate Paying Taxes" rally.  This is pretty darn amazing, considering that Keiner Plaza only holds 3,000 people.  So unless there were about 7,000 C.H.U.D.s enjoying the rally from underneath Keiner Plaza, we probably should continue to take all of their crowd estimates with a huge grain of salt. 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Is Elie Wiesel Truly a Moral Authority for Humanity?

On December 1, Jewish Holocaust survivor, author and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Elie Wiesel will speak at St. Louis University. Wiesel has been called a prophet and a voice for humanity, but I think it is instructive to look at Wiesel’s actions of one month ago to help us truly assess this man’s moral authority.

On October 25, Wiesel gave a short address in which he praised Pastor John Hagee and over 6,000 Christian Zionists at “A Night to Honor Israel” celebration. Later Wiesel sat by Hagee’s side as Hagee falsely accused President Barack Obama of “being tougher on Israel than on Russia, Iran, China and North Korea.”

Hagee is a televangelist who gained notoriety during the 2008 presidential campaign when Senator John McCain accepted Hagee’s endorsement, and then rejected it, after some of Hagee’s more controversial views were widely publicized. In sermons Hagee has declared that God divinely ordained the Holocaust in order to fulfill biblical prophesy and return the Jews to Israel. He has claimed Jews should be blamed for anti-Semitism: it has been God’s punishment against the Jewish people for their rebelliousness. He has predicted that when the Anti-Christ comes to Earth he will be homosexual and “partially Jewish as was Adolph Hitler and was Karl Marx.” (In reality, Marx was Jewish, Hitler was not.)

Although Wiesel has spent his life condemning anti-Semitic ideas like those of Hagee, he offers only praise for the televangelist. Why? Wiesel supports Hagee because Hagee supports the government of Israel. Hagee leads Christians United For Israel, America’s largest and most powerful Christian Zionist organization. He organizes evangelical Christians to support Israel’s expansion of illegal settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem. He defends Israel’s recent assault on Gaza, which reduced much of Gaza to rubble and killed 1,400 Palestinians, one third of them children.

Hagee supports Israeli actions because he believes Jews must fully inhabit the Holy Land for the final apocalypse to come and bring destruction to the world and salvation to true Christians. Wiesel supports Israel because as a Jew he feels a religious and national connection to the state. Wiesel is willing to ignore Hagee’s anti-Semitic and apocalyptic views because he thinks it will further his goal of promoting Israel.

In a recent interview with Hagee, Wiesel said that “whenever anyone criticizes Israel, I say, ‘What are your credentials? Have you ever praised Israel? Have you ever defended Israel? Have you ever been on the side of Israel?”

The idea of one needing to have previously supported a state to have the credentials to criticize it is a bizarre intellectual and moral principle. If someone applied the same principle to North Korea or Cuba or Russia, no one would take the person seriously. Throughout the same interview Wiesel and Hagee criticize Iran and Saudi Arabia, without either demanding that the other present the proper credentials to do so.

Wiesel has long had a moral blind spot when it comes to the State of Israel. He has said that “We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. When human rights are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders and sensitivities become irrelevant.”

But when asked to speak out against Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, Wiesel responded “Do not ask me, a traumatized Jew, to be pro-Palestinian. I totally identify with Israel.”

Wiesel has said that “terrorism must be outlawed by all civilized nations — not explained or rationalized, but fought and eradicated. Nothing can, nothing will justify the murder of innocent people and helpless children.”

But he will not speak out against the longstanding and well documented killings by the Israeli military of innocent people and helpless children, and accepts at face value the justifications for the killings given by the Israeli state.

Elie Wiesel condemns those who condemn Israel’s increasingly brutal violations of Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank. Wiesel asks other people to put aside ethnic and national loyalties in order to protect basic principals of human rights, but he refuses to do so himself. People should think about that while he speaks at St. Louis University this Monday.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Six Charged in Town Hall Incident

The Post-Dispatch has the details. Interestingly, reporter Jake Wagman was charged with "interference," which seem pretty questionable given the video. And McCowan and Molens are charged with both misdemeanor assault and, "interfering with police." It seems like the video, which didn't capture the original altercation, should tell us quite a bit about the claim that they were "interfering with the police."

Molens was interviewed for the story and denied the charges:

Reached about his own case, Molens said, "These charges are ridiculous." He added, "All I was doing was coming to the help of a friend. I don’t know what evidence they’re basing this on."

Molens said McCowan, who could not be reached for comment, was defending himself and he was defending McCowan.

"I’ll plead not guilty," Molens said. "I didn’t do anything."
Gladney claims that it should have been a felony.

Not really much new information here, other than the fact that they were willing to move forward with charges, but a trial would certainly be interesting.

Update:  For those keeping score, and I can tell from some of the attempted stalker-comments that some people are, this is hardly a confirmation of the tea party story.  The tea party activists claimed from the beginning that Gladney was "brutally beaten," and that this was a hate crime, so the fact that the charges were misdemeanors rather than felonies means that at best the charges have come out somewhere in between what they were advocating and my skepticism.   But, when you throw in the fact that wingnuts have claimed that everyone from President Obama to the director of Health Care For America Now to Carnahan's Communication Director is directly responsible for the fight, they still come out looking ridiculous.  

Furthermore, this is my quote from August 10:

However, I'll evaluate the police report the same way any intelligent person should evaluate any purported piece of evidence: by examining what evidence and reasoning is used to support the claim. If the report comes out in favor of Gladney's story but is based entirely on the testimony of right-wing activists with a vested political interest in the story going a certain way, I will not be persuaded. Likewise, if the report came out saying Gladney was the instigator but was based entirely on Elston McCowan's testimony, I would think that it does not provide much evidence (and I'm sure you'd agree).

As I mention above, I don't think much has changed.  I've explained before why I'm not convinced that the witnesses are trustworthy.  So I'll evaluate the evidence as it comes out.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tea Party Posts Then Removes Attack on Local Prosecutor

The St. Louis Tea Party Site posted an attack this morning on St. Louis County Prosecutor Patricia Reddington.  The attack showed up in an RSS feed:
In the summary of the post, they claim that "three union thugs" were videotaped beating Kenneth Gladney.  However, this conflicts with their own story, since they previously claimed that the actual beating took place before the videos.

But what's really weird is that if you click on the link or go to the site, there's no story there, which means that they have deleted the original post.
Wonder what's going on.  Did they grow a shred of decency?    Did they find new information?  Did they say something illegal?

For more on the story, click here, here and here.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

St. Louis Activist Events for Nov. 23-29

This week's events:

Monday, Nov. 23, Boom Boom Pow at Washington University will feature a panel discussion on Nuclear Disarmament and Verification.   The event is from 6 to 7 PM in Seigle L004.  PEACE

Also Monday, St. Louis NORML will be holding a Protest Against Marijuana Prohibition from 4 to 6 PM on Grand near Interstate 44. SOCIAL JUSTICE

Also Monday, The Co-op Cafe at Washington University this week features an open mic and Sheila Shahpari from 8 to 10 PM.  COMMUNITY

Tuesday, Nov. 24, check out Tuesdays with Terri Williams, progressive candidate for county council, at the Boogaloo (7344 Manchester) from 7 to 9 PM.  POLITICS

Also Tuesday, Revitalize St. Louis is holding a Fall Class on Cost Control for Rehabbers at the Landmarks Association from 7 to 9 PM.  COMMUNITY

Also Tuesday, ONE Webster is hosting Namaste: A Nepalese Evening which features the amazing story of Dr. Devi Gurung States, who is working to build a hospital in his childhood town of Menang, Nepal.  The event is from 7 to 10 pm in the Webster University Library Conference Room.  POVERTY

Wednesday, Nov. 25, there will be a special director's cut pre-screening of Heartland Transport, a 10-minute film documenting the history Show Me Marriage Equality Bus that took 17 couples from Missouri to Iowa to get married.  The event will be from 7:30 to 9:30 at the Atomic Cowboy (4140 Manchester).  LGBT

Thursday, Nov. 26, Thanksgiving!  Jewish Family and Children's Services is asking people to consider donating canned goods and food items to help stock their food pantry.  POVERTY

Friday, Nov. 27 is the famous Buy Nothing Day protest against mass consumption. SOCIAL JUSTICE

Also Friday, the St. Louis Animal Rights Team (START) is holding a Fur Free Friday demonstration from 1 to 2:30 PM at the corner of Galleria Parkway and Brentwood Blvd. to protest the needless and cruel practices involved in producing fur coats.  Animal Welfare

Also Friday is the Kids Rock Cancer Benefit at the Over Under Bar (911 Washington) from 6 to 10 PM. FUNDRAISER

Saturday, Nov. 30 might be a good day to check out the Fair Trade Market at Manchester united Methodist Church (129 Wood Mills Rd).  SOCIAL JUSTICE

Sunday, Nov. 29, Show Me No Hate is hosting an important rally at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis (4431 Lindell) from 11:30 to 1:30 to protest the fact that St. Louis Archbishop Carlson donated $10,000 dollars for the political campaign in Maine to stop same sex couples from being able to get married.  LGBT

Also Sunday is the 6th Annual Rock and Roll Craftshow at the 3rd Degree Glass Factory (5200 Delmar) until 5 PM. COMMUNITY

Also Sunday, the Center for Theology and Social Analysis (1077 South Newstead) is hosting a talk Palestinians Rather Than Palestine by Sandra Tamara at 4:30 PM.  Fair-trade Palestinian olive oil will be on sale as a holiday gift.  PEACE

Rally @ Cathedral Basilica Nov. 29

Catholic Action Network, the Holy Families Committee, and Show Me No Hate are organizing a rally to be held at the steps of the St. Louis Cathedral Basilica on Sunday, November 29.

During this time of economic hardship, unemployment is high and families are struggling to meet their basic needs. This year, the St. Louis Archdiocese eliminated 6% of its administrative and educational office jobs, and four positions at Catholic Charities.

The archdiocese then saw fit to contribute $10,000 to the total of $180,550 donated by the Catholic Church to fight same-sex marriage in Maine. Marriage rights had been granted to same-sex couples by the Maine state legislature and signed into law by Maine's Catholic governor in May.

If you believe that the St. Louis Archdiocese could make better use of its limited funds, please join us at 11:30 a.m. on the 29th to stand together for equal rights and religious tolerance.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2009

Once again, it is Transgender Day of Remembrance, the one day set aside every year to remember and honor our transgender friends whose lives have been lost due to hatred and bigotry. Anti-transgender hate crime is some of the most vicious and brutal violence out there. It's unacceptable that so many are murdered just because their bodies don't happen to match their genders.

I am lucky to have many creative and caring friends who are very dear to me. One of my friends, who happens to be trans, has expressed her appreciation that I treat her like just another person.

Receiving gratitude for not discriminating against my friend is an odd experience. I have never had a friend with, say, freckles tell me how glad she is that I treat her the same way that I treat other people.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who treat trans folks as though they were less than human. Even among LGBs, trans people are often treated with intolerance and disrespect, and it breaks my heart to see it. LGBs of all people ought to understand what it's like to be hated and excluded. Though it may be tempting, there is no excuse for passing on society's contempt for us to a group of people that is even more marginalized than we are.

My dear friend Robyn of TransHaven Missouri says that trans people are just people, like everyone else. I agree with her for the most part, but I would modify that statement: Trans people are people who, by and large, have been subjected to psychological abuse throughout their lives, and who sometimes have to hide who they are just to avoid being killed.

I invite you to join me this evening at 5:00 at Wash. U. for a TDOR memorial. I will stand by my trans friends to remember their dead and give thanks that my friends are still alive.

Cross-posted to The Quixotic Pragmatist

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Update (or non-update) on the town hall altercation

According to KMOX, St. Louis County Counselor Patricia Reddington says that they are still sorting out the evidence from the events that occurred at Russ Carnahan's early August town hall.  The article quotes Reddington as saying, "There were multiple altercations and police involvement.  We're looking at the whole evening and the charges that may be filed as a result of that."

But...but...but, I thought this was a massive government conspiracy?  

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Viva La Resolution: In Unanimous Vote, Wash U Student Union Senate Urges University to Change Name of "Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization"

The students have spoken!

In response to demonstrated student outcry over the naming of the "Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization" and with momentum from last week's flash mob protest, on Wednesday the Wash U Student Union Senate unanimously passed a resolution urging the administration to change the Consortium's name. See the Student Life article.

The vote came after a week of intense lobbying by students, during which senators received an extraordinary number of emails from constituents in support of the resolution. The resolution originated in last week’s session, but the vote was postponed until after a drafting session could be held to address senators’ concerns. Wednesday’s senate session was packed with supportive students who applauded after the resolution was passed in the first 15 minutes of the meeting.

A truncated version of the resolution reads (full version available here):
“Whereas, The term “Clean Coal” is an industry marketing term intended to obscure the negative effects of coal extraction, combustion, and disposal;

Whereas, The use of said term may invite doubt regarding the integrity of the research the Consortium conducts;

Whereas, The Student Union supports the research being done by the Consortium to develop safer and more effective coal utilization technology; and therefore be it

Resolved, That the Student Union strongly urges the Washington University administration to change the name of the Consortium for Clean Coal Utilization; and be it further

Resolved, That the Student Union urges that the Consortium’s research into future uses of coal include studies of the social and environmental effects of its extraction, combustion, and disposal.”

We look forward to open dialogue with the administration and invite any concerns and comments.

Viva la Resolution!

Monday, November 16, 2009

St. Louis Activist Events for Nov. 16-22

This week's events:

Monday, Nov. 16: NARAL is having a mailing party from 9 AM to 5 PM.

Also Monday, the St. Charles County Young Democrats are asking people to take Representative Todd Akin to task over his sad stance on healthcare reform at Akin's talk at the STLCC Social Sciences Building Auditorium at 10 AM.  

Also Monday, Sigma Iota Rho is holding a cupcake fundraiser for KIVA from 11 AM to 2 PM at the DUC on the WashU Danforth campus.

Also Monday, the College Democrats and College Republicans will be debating health care at Fontbonne University from noon to 1 PM in the Lewis Room of the library.

Also Monday, the Brown School of Social Work is hosting a discussion of Media (Mis)Representations of Sex Trafficking Workshop in Goldfarb 359 from 5:30 to 7 PM.

Also Monday, the MO History Museum is hosting a discussion titled Policing Black Activism in the Lee Auditorium from 7 PM to 9 PM.

Also Monday, environmental activist Bill McKibben is speaking at The Hett (701 College Rd, Lebanon, IL) from 7:30 to 10:30 PM.  

Also Monday, there's an Open-Mic + WUSLAM at the WashU Co-op from 8:30 to 10 PM.

Tuesday, Nov. 17, the Press Club of Metropolitan St. Louis is holding a forum titled Hunger Does Not Take a Holiday at the Salvation Army (1130 Hampton) from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM.

Also Tuesday, Transgender Awareness Week kicks off at WashU with an open safe zones meeting about trans identities in the Pride Suite of the Women's Building.  Click here for the full schedule of the week's events.

Also Tuesday, Landmarks Fall Class series continues with a discussion of how to work with your Alderperson, CDA, and Preservation Board from 7 to 9 PM.

Also Tuesday, the St. Charles County Young Dems are having a Yes We Can canned food drive from 7:30 to 10:30.

Wednesday, Nov. 18, the Community Arts Initiative (CAI) is hosting a roundtable discussion on Building Community Through the Arts with a number of great panelists.  The event is in Goldfarb 132 on the WashU campus from 12:15 to 2 PM.

Also Wednesday, the YWCA is hosting a discussion about the racial inequities in healthcare from 5:30 to 7 PM at 2711 Locust.

Also Wednesday, NARAL is holding a phonebank to stop the ridiculous Stupak amendment from becoming law from 5:30 to 8:30 PM.

Also Wednesday, the St. Louis Vedanta Society is hosting a discussion of Vedanta Environmental Ethics by Swami Chetanananda from 7 to 8 PM.

Also Wednesday, the Social Justice Center at WashU is hosting a discussion of socioeconomic diversity at the school from 7:30 to 9:30 PM in the DUC Fun Room.

Also Wednesday, What's Up Magazine will be teaming up with the Atomic Cowboy to hold "The Dizzy Spell," a spelling bee for discerning adults.  Proceeds benefit KDHX and What's Up Magazine, the independent publication that employs the St. Louis homeless and fights for community justice.  The event starts around 9 PM at the Atomic Cowboy.

Also Wednesday, ANAD and Delta Phi Epsilon at Webster University are holding a vigil for all of the people who have struggled with eating disorders from 9:30 to 11 in the Quad.

Thursday, Nov. 19, there will be a tour and open house of the first Historical and LEED Residential Renovation in St. Louis from 4 to 7 P at 6321 Southwood Avenue.

Also Thursday, SIUE's Gay and Straight Alliance are putting on a performance for the Transgendered Day of Remembrance from 5 to 7 PM at the Goshen Lounge in the Morris University Library Center. 

Also Thursday, Tony P is hosting a fundraiser called Dining with the Young Communists from 6:30 to 9 PM.

Also Thursday, a group is asking people to turn out to the St. Louis Community College Board of Trustees meeting to tell them not to cut needed funding to the Meramec Child Care Center.  The meeting is from 7 to 8 PM at 300 S. Broadway.

Also Thursday, there will be an Art Exhibit and Silent Auction for the local Amnesty International chapter from 7 to 9 PM at SqWires Annex (1415 S. 18th).

Friday, Nov. 20, Voices for Children are holding a Trivia Night to support local foster kids and parents from 5 to 8 PM at Goldfarb Hall on the WashU campus.

Also Friday, Metro East Pride is holding a Chili and Hot Dog Fundraiser at Club Escapade from 6 PM to 2 AM.

Also Friday, Camp Kumquat is having a Hoedown in the Umrath Lounge on the WashU campus from 7 to 9 PM.

Also Friday, the Metropolitan Community Church of Greater St. Louis will be hosting a groundbreaking theatre piece titled Intimacies from 8 to 11 PM.  The event is produced by the amazing That Uppity Theatre Company.

Saturday, Nov. 21, Steve Patterson will be leading people on a walk that traces the steps of Lisi Bansen, who was struck and killed while in a wheelchair because the area lacked sidewalks.  The walk starts at Delmar just West of Jefferson at 10 AM.

Also Saturday, Greenpeace St. Louis will be collecting postcards to fight climate change in the Delmar Loop from 1 to 5 PM.  Meet at the Tivoli.  

Also Saturday, there will be a Gala celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment from 6 to 9 PM at Whitaker Hall on the WashU campus.

Also Saturday, there will be a fundraiser for the LGBT Community Center of St. Louis from 6 PM to midnight on the Manchester Strip.

Also Saturday, there will be a No Justice No Peace benefits concert from 7 to 11 PM at 2526 South 12th Street.

Sunday, Nov. 22, Theology on Tap at the Royale will be discussing New Atheism at 5 PM.

Also Sunday, the Moolah will be screening the much acclaimed movie Precious based on the even more acclaimed novel Push at 5 PM.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

People Teabaggers Blame for the Kenneth Gladney Incident

As I've written on multiple occasions, I think there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about Kenneth Gladney and David Brown's story about what happened outside of Russ Carnahan's town hall on August 6th. In fact, I think their story is inconsistent with what we can see in the video. But, just for the sake of argument, let's imagine that their description of that's night's events were completely true and could somehow miraculously be made to correspond to the video. What could we conclude in such a case?

To review, their story is that Gladney was outside selling buttons and handing out "Don't Tread On Me" flags, when Elston McCowan approached him and asked, "What kind of n** would sell this?" On their story, Gladney snatched his stuff back from McCowan and McCowan started hitting Gladney. They then claim that Perry Molens joined in and started beating Gladney as well. If this is what really happened, then who do you think should be blamed for the incident? McCowan? Molens?

Oh, you poor naive little communist. In fact, as has been documented by Jim Durbin, Dana Loesch, Gateway Pundit, Andrew Breitbart, and Glenn Beck, this incident was not the result of a momentary altercation, but in fact was clearly the result of a Massive Government Conspiracy! Below, I kid you not, is a list of just some of the people that these teabaggers have claimed are directly responsible for the fight between Kenneth Gladney and Elston McCowan:
  • President Obama, of course
  • White House Adviser David Axelrod
  • White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina
  • Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement Buffy Wicks
  • Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius
  • Health Care for America Now Director Margarida Jorge
  • SEIU President Andy Stern
  • AFL-CIO President John Sweeney
  • Representative Russ Carnahan
  • Carnahan Spokesperson Sara Howard
  • County Executive Charlie Dooley, a (GASP!) former union member!
  • St. Louis County Counselor Patricia Reddington
  • St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCullough
Quite an impressive government conspiracy no? And for all that work, all this massive conspiracy was able to accomplish was to get in a couple punches on a guy selling buttons. I wonder what the next massive government conspiracy will be. Ding dong ditching Glenn Beck's mansion? Hiding a whoopee cushion on Limbaugh's chair? I guess the possibilities are endless, when you have an all-powerful oppressive government like Obama's.

WashU Students for Liberty: Social Justice is Exactly Like a Gulag Labor Camp

The WashU Young Americans for Liberty built their own Gulag on campus to warn students about the evils of communism.
Included in their definition of communism: the Civil Rights Act, child labor laws, AmeriCorps, and, as you can see, "Peaceful Social Justice." Sometimes, there's just no need for commentary.

Typical Teabagging: John Loudon Accuses St. Louis DA of Massive Coverup Based on No Evidence

Former Republican State Senator John Loudon today wrote a piece for Big Government accusing St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCullough of a massive cover-up of a "gang assault" during the August 6 altercation between Kenneth Gladney and Elston McCowan. As I detailed yesterday, the facts about the case are still in question, and the only evidence the teabaggers have is the testimony of their own members, and their testimony is inconsistent with the video. But that doesn't stop Loudon from suggesting a massive government cover-up that can be linked to everyone from President Obama to HCAN director Margarida Jorge to St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley. If you believe the teabaggers, this appears to be a cover-up conducted by every single member of the Democratic Party.

A couple things to say about Loudon's blog post. First, he can't write. How the hell did this guy get elected to be a State Senator? Second, and more to the point, it is absolutely absurd that he would accuse a public official of a cover-up (even going so far as to compare the county officials to mobsters from the movie Goodfellas) based on no credible evidence. Does Loudon know what other investigation has gone into the case? Does he know that there are at least four other people at the scene who have testimony that would probably be directly at odds with that of the teabaggers? Does he realize that this would mean that there are four people who tell the teabagger side of the story, and four who tell a different story and absolutely no material evidence? In fact, the police report notes that Gladney has *no* facial injuries.

This post is a great example of what would happen if teabaggers ruled the world. They have no respect for allowing the legal system to work cases out on their own. They rush to judgments based on flimsy evidence from people who share their political beliefs, and ignore all else. In fact, they're willing to leak police reports and information to national media outlets in blatant attempts to bias the public about the case. If I were McCullough or Dooley, I would sue Loudon for libel. I would also investigate who leaked the police report to Glenn Beck. It is disgraceful that the local teabaggers are trying to subvert the justice system, and someone should put a stop to it.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

St. Louis Activist Events for Nov. 9-15

This week's events:

Monday, Nov. 9, Feminism Awareness Week, hosted by V-Day, kicks off at Washington University with a 7 PM talk in Rebstock 215. Check out the whole week's worth of great events here.

Monday is also the kickoff of Hip-Hop Against Hunger Week at WashU with a host of other great events.

Holy moly! Monday is also the start of Pluralism Week at WashU. I guess that means that this is officially Week Week at WashU.

Also Monday, North Siders will gather at Vashon High School (2nd floor library) at 6:30 to discuss their course of action in response to the City's passage of Paul McKee's project.

Also Monday, anti-war troubador Dave Lippman will be performing at the Center for Theology and Social Analysis (1077 Newstead) at 7:30 PM.

Also Monday, there's an action planning meeting on race relations at WashU in the DUC, room 234 at 8 PM.

Tuesday, Nov. 10, the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park is screening the movie True Whispers: The Story of the Navajo Code Talkers as part of American Indian Heritage Month at noon.

Also Tuesday is the monthly Women in Black vigil raising awareness about Palestine outside of St. Louis Bread Company at 11:30 AM.

Also Tuesday, Landmarks Association of St. Louis is hosting a class on Buying LRA Property at 7 PM.

Also Tuesday, St. Louis University's Diversity Leadership Cabinet is hosting a discussion of Political Correctness from 7 to 9 PM in the Busch Student Center room 173.

Wednesday, Nov. 11, Benedict Kiernan will be speaking on Blood and Soil: Genocide in World History at 11 AM in Graham Chapel at WashU for the Holocaust Memorial Lecture.

Also Wednesday, three Palestinian students will be discussing their experiences as part of Gaza Voices, One Year Later at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville at 7 PM. The event will be at the Edwardsville Public Library (112 S. Kansas St., Edwardsville, IL) Community Room.

Also Wednesday, WashU students concerned about the university's status as a research institution will be packing the student senate asking them to pass a resolution that urges the school to no longer use misleading marketing terms like "clean coal," in the title of their research initiatives.

Thursday, Nov. 12, there will be a new batch of counterprotests to the hateful Fred Phelps family's anti-LGBT protests in St. Louis. Check out the events here, here and here.

Also Thursday, Urban Eats Cafe (3301 Meramec) is hosting a HomoLatte Cocktail Party and Brainstorming session at 5:30 PM. HomoLatte will feature LGBT arts and spoken word on the 2nd Thursday of every month.

Also Thursday, SLU RHA is holding a Tie Die Party with a discussion of diversity at the Busch Student Center, Room 173, at 6 PM.

Also Thursday, Lane Tabernacle CME Church is holding a Public Accountability Meeting featuring St. Louis youth and politicians from 6:30 to 8 PM at 910 N. Newstead.

Also Thursday, the Graduate Student Association at WashU is hosting a panel with SAGE Metro on Living with Pride. It will follow a screening of a movie about Ruth Ellis, thought to be the oldest "out" African American lesbian. The movie will be from to 9 PM in the Brown Lounge (in Brown Hall) at WashU.

Also Thursday, former Senator Jean Carnahan will be at Left Bank Books discussing her book The Tide Always Comes Back at 7 PM at 399 N. Euclid.

Also Thursday, St. Louis NORML is having it's monthly meeting at 7:15 at Mokabees Coffee House (3606 Arsenal).

Also Thursday, the Mountaintop Removal Road Show comes to the Community Arts and Media Project (CAMP) center in St. Louis. The show will be at 7:30 and CAMP is located on the corner of Cherokee and Minnesota.

Friday, Nov. 13, SIUE Making Waves is holding a Demonstration to raise awareness about Darfur from 9:30 AM to 1:30 PM at the campus Quad.

Also Friday, the St. Louis International Film Festival will be screening Oscar Micheaux's Within Our Gates, an examination of racism in U.S. society at 7 PM at the St. Louis Artists Guild.

Saturday, Nov. 14, the Hi-Pointe Theatre will be screening Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home, a film that examines the modern farming system, at 2 PM.

Also Saturday, Affordably Green is holding a free workshop Build, Buy, or Rehab Green from 2 to 5 PM at the University City Library (6701 Delmar)

Also Saturday, there will be an Evening for the Children of Palestine at the Gibson Heights Presbyterian Church (1075 Taylor) from 5 to 10 PM.

Also Saturday, the important progressive institution Missouri Pro-Vote is holding their 14th Annual Awards Dinner at 7 PM.

Sunday, Nov. 15 will be the Cranksgiving Bike Ride and Food Drive. Cyclists will ride around St. Louis to pick up groceries for the needy. It sounds like a fun and important event, and you can check it out at 10 AM at 4012 Shenandoah.

Also Sunday, BB's Jazz Blues, and Soups is hosting a Homeless Veterans Benefit at 6:15 PM.

Also Sunday, the movie FRESH about reinventing our food system via urban and sustainable farming will be showing at Brown Hall room 118 on the WashU campus at 7 PM. The movie will be followed by a panel discussion.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

HELP! Support the next generation of climate activists in Missouri

You have a chance to help empower youth leaders in Missouri to take action against climate change!

The Sierra Student Coalition has these amazing summer programs (Sprogs for short), which train new leaders in the youth climate movement, giving them the skills to organize and win environmental campaigns back in their communities. These programs are a week-long and they are offered across the country every summer. I went to a Sprog in 2008, and it changed my life. I know that might sound hokey, but the skills that I learned there--campaign strategy, public narrative, and leadership development, for example--have indeed been invaluable in my environmental leadership on Wash U's campus.

This is where I need your help. Right now the SSC is trying to determine where to run programs in 2010, and determine how many we can run in this funding climate. I’m hoping to raise money to host a Sprog in Missouri, where we are ready to take our organizing to the next level!

You can feel the momentum here growing as students and youth here become more and more excited about making change and smarter about how they do it. We're beginning to tackle bigger foes and bigger campaigns. From my personal experience at Wash U, I can see that there's more excitement than ever, as students come together to do exciting things like the flash mob we executed on Monday.

You can help the next generation of environmental activists by making a contribution to MO Sprog by Sunday, November 22!

Whether you can contribute $20, $10, or even just $5, your contribution would support training youth leaders in Missouri and toward supporting a program that I and so many others are passionate about! Each region needs to raise $3,000 to be eligible for a Sprog next summer.

We are counting on donations like yours to fund Sprogs this year.

The bad news is: in this funding climate, the previous funding sources for Sprog have dried up. If we can't raise the money, there will be no MO Sprog. (IT'S A PUN. GET IT?) And because 11/22 is the deadline, we only have two weeks.

The good news is: We have a chance to save Sprog! A donation from you will make a huge dent in our fundraising goal. Just think, it's only $3000! All we need is for 200 people to donate $15 dollars or for 300 people to donate $10. It's totally do-able.

Together, we can move youth activism forward in Missouri.

Thank you for your hope and your support!

Melissa Legge

student activist in St. Louis

MO/IL Sprog fundraising team

p.s.—Want to do more? Will you help spread the word? Please spread this blogpost via email/facebook/twitter to anyone you think would be interested in supporting the movement OR if having a SPROG in Missouri really means a lot to you, you could draft your own letter and send it out. Thanks so much!

p.p..s.--Want to do even more? If you are in St. Louis and want to help, and have an idea for a fundraiser or want to get involved in fundraising efforts, please contact me at melissa.legge [at]