News & Notes June 25, 2014

Pennsylvania isn’t doing our part in preserving the Chesapeake Bay.  This vast estuary is a favorite for many in south central PA.  So much so the locals in northern Maryland refer to them as the “Pennsylvania Navy” coming down every weekend.  Now Sen. Toomey along with four Members of the PA Congressional delegation (including Rep. Scott Perry from the south central region) have signed on to a protest of new restrictions on pollution.  How shameful.

Tom Corbett is so disliked he can’t even congratulate Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins without getting booed.

In the “not exactly a news flash” segment natural gas money is pouring into Gov. Gasbag’s re-election campaign.  Of course that’s why I nicknamed him that four years ago.

Fortunately there is one man willing to balance those scales a bit.

In other fracking news retired state Health Department workers claim the Corbett Administration silenced them about the health dangers of fracking.

“There was a list of buzzwords we had gotten,” Stuck said. “There were some obvious ones like fracking, gas, soil contamination. There were probably 15 to 20 words and short phrases that were on this list. If anybody from the public called in and that was part of the conversation, we were not allowed to talk to them.”

In yet more bad news for Corbett the Kane investigation into his management (as AG) of the Sandusky investigation revealed total incompetence.  Because the Attorney General’s office essentially sat on the investigation for a couple of years more boys were molested.  A search warrant after the first complaint was filed and police began investigating the former coach would have revealed the extent of his behavior.  Though it was concluded that no evidence of political calculations were involved in the delays it was political because the delays were caused by his overtly political prosecutions of BonusGate.

I’m not saying those who used state resources for political efforts shouldn’t have been prosecuted, they should have, but the manner in which Tom Corbett did it was very political.

President Obama finally took steps against Uganda for human rights violations against LGBT persons.  Certain Ugandan leaders are now barred from entering the U.S. and:

The Obama administration will also discontinue or redirect funds for programs with the Ugandan Police Force, the Ugandan Ministry of Health and National Public Health Institute. The White House also cancelled an American-sponsored “aviation exercise” in the East African country. –  

Sen. Toomey was also targeted by members of Keystone Progress recently:

Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran beat his Tea Party challenger in a run off election yesterday.

The United Methodist Church reinstated the credentials of Pastor Frank Schaeffer of Lebanon.  The Appeals Court over ruled the trial outcome following Schaeffer’s officiating at his son’t gay marriage ceremony.

In other gay news Allegheny County has adjusted its benefits policy to cover same sex partners and spouses.

Isn’t it interesting that almost all actual voter fraud is perpetrated by Republicans?  22 states have now restricted voting rights, mostly for Democratic voters, based on claims of widespread voter fraud.  Perhaps Wisconsin Gov. Scott walker should explain how his supporters cheated in his recall election.

Myers: Church Leaders Appointed By God

Max Myers is a Democrat running for Pennsylvania Governor.  He doesn’t think church members have any say in who their evangelical leaders are, that they are appointed by God.  Since he has been a leader of the Global School of Supernatural Ministry he thinks he has been annointed by God.  A bit of an ego there…  This is a compilation of some of his beliefs (correction, he was not head of Global awakening but of the Global School of Supernatural Ministry):

Myers’ Response

Before launching our series on Max Myers I emailed him last week.  He attended the Pennsylvania Progressive Summit in Harrisburg and had one of his students along acting as a campaign aid.  Here is his email response:

Yes, I worked for Global Awakening in Mechanicsburg from 2007 until last May.  My wife and son continue to work for this ministry in the Events Department.  I was the director of their ministry school.  Like all religious groups or denominations, it has its followers and it has it detractors.  

My spiritual journey does have something to do with my run for governor and what I would bring to the table should I become governor.  That will be true for every candidate of course, at some level.  As for me specifically, it has given me this tint in the glasses that I view the world through:

I see a PA culture that is disconnected and lacks a sense of community.

I see a PA culture that has become disconnected from its responsibility to the poor and disenfranchised.

I see a PA culture that has allowed the dialog about public school education to be moved to the level of focusing on what it costs financially, instead the education that our children are receiving.

I see a PA culture that has forgotten the values of Wm. Penn, as it pertains to the LGBT community.  He established that in PA, all residents are to be treated with honor and respect.

I see a PA political structure that continues to convince the public that by doing things the same way, year after year, we will somehow get different results.

My faith looks at the above (and so much more) and says:

It is possible to find the answers to poverty.

It is possible to have world class public school education.

It is possible to bring our blighted urban neighborhoods into transformation.

It is possible to establish manufacturing throughout PA, and have the unions on the front end of that movement.

It is possible to bring PA to the place of Penn’s vision that it would be “an example to the nations.”

It is possible to access and activate the residents of PA in the journey of transformation, as they are the greatest resource that we have.

My journey has also given me a different view of leadership than the standard cultural / political approach.

I believe in the power of “power under” as opposed to the standard “power over.”  I would affirm the value of people and support them, instead of pushing my authority on them.

I believe that the key to successful governing, is not as much about legislating as it is about leadership.  Effective leadership can begin to minimize the need for fence building legislation.

I believe in the value of listening and affirming.  I am a centrist or moderate, whatever word you like best.  It is where I believe Jesus would be.  Searching for an understanding of where people are coming from and what shapes issues, instead of making narrow pious edicts.

John, if I’m not getting at what you are looking for, just ask something specific.  I have committed to not being a “bait and switch” politician, and I have always lived my life in the open as best I have known how.  I plan to keep it that way.

Max Myers: Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing

Max Myers, a preacher from Mechanicsburg running as a progressive for Governor is deeply involved in a fringe religious movement called Apostolic and Prophetic.  The fundamentalist group is deeply involved in anti-gay legislation in Uganda but he chose the William Way LGBT Community Center in Philadelphia to kick off his official campaign today.

I’m greatly indebted to Rachel Tabachnick for her extensive research on Myers.  She has provided this content.

Formerly an Assemblies of God minister he got so involved with the fringe Apostolic and Prophetic movement he is now one of its national leaders.  His wife and son run a company providing materials for the movement.  They believe in and teach supernatural healing led by lunatic Randy Clark.  They are anti-abortion and anti-gay rights among other things.  To give you a taste of who they are here’s a video of their graduation service in 2012 in which Myers participated:

Rachel Tabachnick of the Political Research Associates is preparing a lengthy, in depth examination of Global Awakening and Myers which will begin later this week on this blog.  Since he chose to officially launch his campaign today pretending to be an advocate for LGBT rights I felt it proper to begin exposing his hypocrisy today.  From Tabachnick:

Max Myers, Democratic candidate for governor in Pennsylvania, is a former Assemblies of God pastor who worked from 2007 – 2012 as the head of the Global School of Supernatural Ministries (GSSM) in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. Myers also founded satellite schools, including in Brazil and South Africa.  The school’s three-year program teaches supernatural healing, prophecy, and other powers or manifestations believed to be

bestowed by God in order to “transform” the world prior to Jesus’ return.  

The GSSM led by Myers is part of the Apostolic Network of Global Awakening, the ministry of nationally known Apostle Randy Clark, housed in

an office building in Mechanicsburg.  The NAR is on the cutting edge of antiabortion and anti-gay rights both in the U.S. and other nations. They teach that these and other evils are the product of literal demonic entities that can be harbored by humans and must be battled through “spiritual warfare.”  The phenomenon of modern-day apostles and prophets is called the New Apostolic Reformation or NAR and is a rapidly growing movement organizing both nondenominational as well as some denominational churches. This is the same religious movement that received some mainstream press when apostles in the movement led Rick Perry’s Houston prayer rally in August 2011. The movement is unique in both structure and ideology and is aggressively political, teaching that like-minded believers must take over the “seven mountains” of society and culture including government. They are becoming involved in both

Republican and Democratic politics.

Randy Clark is one of six apostles leading a network called Revival Alliance.6 The network includes Prophet Lou Engle who leads TheCall, a series of events held in stadiums around the world, promoting activism against reproductive and gay rights. Engle led TheCall in Kampala in 2010, featuring Ugandan leaders in support of the “kill-the-gays” bill.  In 2008, Engle helped organize support for Proposition 8, including TheCall San Diego, a 12-hour event closing with Engle calling for martyrs. Engle often includes “racial reconciliation” ceremonies in TheCall events, while simultaneously targeting gays and

Muslims as being controlled by demons and as the cause of societal and economic problems.

Global Awakening in Mechanicsburg markets and teaches from books claiming that homosexuality is

demonic. One example is Peter Horrobin’s book Healing through Deliverance which is marketed from the Global Awakening store and required curriculum for certification in faith healing.10 Global Awakening was one of the participating ministries for a 2012 pre-election prayer rally, America for Jesus, held in Philadelphia and featuring Che Ahn, Lou Engle, and other vocally anti-gay leaders.

The GSSM program that was run by Myers for five years included participation of New Apostolic leaders from around the nation, many of whom have also written and taught that homosexuality is an

“abomination” to God.12 In the classroom, Myers clearly supports an anti-abortion and “pro-family”

agenda. The GSSM application, during Myers’ tenure, requires applicants to answer to, “Have you ever been involved in sexual immorality (pre-marital sex, homosexuality, adultery, pornography, etc)?”

Myers’ 2011 book calls for “theocratic” governance of churches or “supernatural leadership” by leaders who are chosen by God instead of voted on by the church.14

Here are some of the ministries’ videos:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is one of the followers of this movement.  Anything but progressive Perry led an evangelical gathering where the Global Awakening movement was front and center.  We’ll have more on the movement and Myers’ leadership of it during the week.  This man isn’t who he purports to be so I call him a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

More of Your Responses Are In

Cross posted from Nourishing the Planet.

For the past few months, we’ve been collecting information about agricultural innovations from all over the world (survey in English and French). We shared the initial responses in September and even more responses in November, but continue to receive interesting information and recommendations from farmers, NGOs, research groups, and policymakers in a multitude of countries. Below are a few tidbits we’d like to share.

The following projects, already featured on the Nourishing the Planet blog, have recently provided information for our survey, further describing their agricultural innovations and helping us as we seek to define innovations that best nourish people as well as the world in our upcoming report, State of the World 2011.

From our friends at the Developing Innovations in School Cultivation project in the Mukono District, Uganda: Describing the innovation as spreading a “passion for producing local foods to the next generation,” Edward Mukiibi helped flesh out the details of his project by filling out the survey after Danielle’s visit. You can read more here: Cultivating a Passion for Agriculture, Conversations with Farmers: Discussing the School Garden with a DISC Project Student, and How to Keep Kids “Down on the Farm.”

From Never Ending Food in Lilongwe, Malawi: The Nordins are educating others about permaculture and growing indigenous crops to increase income and improve food security. You can read about Danielle’s visit to their home and farm here: Malawi’s Real “Miracle” and Sweeping Change.

Please continue to share your agriculture innovations with us. We look forward to featuring your success stories on our blog and in Nourishing the Planet. Stay tuned for more updates from the survey-maybe next time it will be your innovation we highlight!

A Different Kind of Livestock

Crossposted from Nourishing the Planet.

Boy with Caterpillars, UgandaI’ve had the opportunity to try some traditional-and tasty-local foods while I’ve been traveling in Africa, including amaranth, breadfruit, matooke (mashed banana), posho (maize flour), groundnut sauce, spider weed, sukuma wiki (a leafy green), and a whole lot of other vegetables and fruits with names that I can neither remember nor pronounce.

One thing I haven’t tried yet is found all over Africa and, in addition to being a food source, it is also considered a pest-grasshoppers. As I was walking through a market in Kampala, Uganda I noticed women “shelling” what I thought were beans, but upon closer inspection the baskets sitting between their legs were full of wriggling grasshoppers. As they sat, chatting with one another and the curious American, they were de-winging the insects so that they could be either sold “raw” or fried for customers.

Despite the yuck factor many of you reading this might have for eating insects, grasshoppers, crickets, termites, and other “bugs” can be a nutritious source of protein, vitamins, minerals,

and other nutrients. According to the results from a United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization workshop in 2008, caterpillars are an important source of food for many people in Central Africa, providing not only protein, but also potassium and iron.

Collecting and selling insects can also be an important source of income, especially for women in Africa. And as climate change increases the prevalence of certain insects, they become an even more important source of food in the future.

Uganda’s “Final Solution”

As Uganda approaches legalization of a “final solution” for gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders we are reminded of the insidious involvement of American religious extremists in the issue.  The Family, a loosely organized fellowship of fundamentalists is behind the attempted execution of people based solely on their sexual orientation in this African country.  The Family has been involved with countless atrocities exercised by their brethren in nation after nation across the planet.  They have allied with and recruited the most brutal dictators and worshiped freedom loving stalwarts such as Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin, Mussolini, Mao, Suharto, Marcos and others.  Among their current roster is Ugandan President Museveni.  He is now attempting, with heavy assistance from The Family, to enact legislation which legalizes a “final solution.”  Putting gay men to death for having sex is horrific.  In addition to creating new gas chambers Museveni’s bill makes it a very serious crime even to know someone who is gay.  Advocating for anyone who is gay in Uganda would also be a crime.

What would these people say if we outlawed religion and enacted the death penalty for anyone attending church?  After all believing in gods is a choice rather than what you are.  Gays do not decide to  be gay any more than straight people choose to be straight or people choose the color of their eyes.  The bottom line is this:  enacting final solutions for any class of people is genocide.  Shame on Uganda and shame on American fundamentalists for getting Uganda to enact horrendous policies.

Human Rights Battle in Uganda Hits Close to Home

Cross posted from Border Jumpers.

Uganda, like most of the countries in Africa, is full of contradictions.

While everyone we met in Uganda was friendly and helpful, going out of their way to assist us when we needed directions, a Wifi hotspot, or a place to find vegetarian food, the country also has some of the most restrictive laws against human rights on the continent. While we were there, the “Bahati Bill” was introduced in parliament.  The Bahati called for life in prison — and in some case the death penalty — for people found “guilty” of homosexual activity.

As gay marriage laws are passed around the world, including most recently in Mexico City, it’s hard to believe that lawmakers would punish people for being gay or having HIV/AIDS. The Bahati bill also punishes anyone who fails to report a homosexual act committed by others with up to three years in jail, and a prison sentence of up to seven years for anyone who defends the rights of gays and lesbians.

Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, due to mounting pressure from governments such as the United States, across Europe, and in Canada, said that he opposes the measure, and would attempt to try and soften the bill. According to a recent story in Reuters, “the president has been quoted in local media saying homosexuality is a Western import, joining continental religious leaders who believe it is un-African.” With a national election looming in 2012, politicians seem to be using hatred against gays as a scapegoat for rising corruption and the weakening of civil liberties and freedom of the press.

Yet, even the possibility that a watered-down version of the proposed law could be passed, is an alarming sign of a dangerous trend of prejudice all over Africa. In Blantyre, Malawi, for example, a gay couple was arrested last week after having a traditional engagement ceremony. Homosexuality is punishable by 14 years in jail in Malawi

However, human rights advocates continue to fight. In Latin America, they hope that the success of legalized marriage in Mexico City will spread to Argentina, Venezuela, Chile, and other places. Uruguay permits gay parents to adopt and Columbia grants social security rights to same sex couples.

In the United States, gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgender rights is one of the most import civil and human rights battles we currently face. Despite recent setbacks in California, New York, and Maine — recent success in places like Iowa, DC, and New Hampshire — means that during next decade the battlefield for LGBT rights is not only in Africa but also right here at home.