Jones of the Nile

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Mark Foley of 2007

Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), busted for soliciting oral sex in a men's bathroom in the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. Yikes. Courtesy of TowleRoad....

GOP Idaho Senator Larry Craig in Lewd Conduct Men's Room Arrest

A plainclothes officer in Minnesota arrested Idaho Senator Larry Craig in an airport men's room while he was investigating lewd conduct complaints in June, it has been revealed:

"Craig’s arrest occurred just after noon on June 11 at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. On Aug. 8, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct in the Hennepin County District Court. He paid more than $500 in fines and fees, and a 10-day jail sentence was stayed. He also was given one year of probation with the court that began on Aug. 8."

Wonkette has a few highlights of the arrest report:

"At one point during the interview, Craig handed the plainclothes sergeant who arrested him a business card that identified him as a U.S. Senator and said, ‘What do you think about that?’ the report states...At 1216 hours, Craig tapped his right foot. I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct. Craig tapped his toes several times and moves his foot closer to my foot. I moved my foot up and down slowly. While this was occurring, the male in the stall to my right was still present. I could hear several unknown persons in the restroom that appeared to use the restroom for its intended use. The presence of others did not seem to deter Craig as he moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot which was within my stall area,” the report states...Craig then proceeded to swipe his hand under the stall divider several times, and Karsnia noted in his report that ‘I could … see Craig had a gold ring on his ring finger as his hand was on my side of the stall divider.’"

Wow, soliciting oral sex in a men's room is kind of like the hokey pokey. "You put your right foot in, you slide your right hand under the stall...."

My favorite line from the arrest report, though? "While this was occurring, the male in the stall to my right was still present. I could hear several unknown persons in the restroom that appeared to use the restroom for its intended use." You can't tell me the arresting officer wasn't cracking up while writing this report....!

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Everyone has tried this. Now add me to the list. Here's me as a Simpson.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Bottled Water Conundrum

To drink bottled water, or not to drink bottled water...that is the question. Having just spent some time in the global South, bottled water was the only option (unless you like amoebas and salmonella lurking around in your intestines). In the States, bottled water is just about ready to pass soda pop as the most consumed (and purchased) beverage in the country. But is that a good thing?

I came across this article, Bottled Water Quandry, by Fr. John Rausch. I've met John several times in my work with Pax Christi. He's nothing short of awesome...the type of prophetic religious leader who gets the intimate connection between the earth and the supernatural, between religion and ecology. He's also a great guy to hang around with if you're ever in Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee, or Western North Carolina (I participated on a delegation he helped organize several years ago, which took us throughout Appalachia).

His article is worth reading because of the lines he draws when pointing out that (1) most tap water is just as pure as bottled water in the First World, (2) the ecological damage from bottling water is having huge costs on global warming and other environmental issues, (3) worldwide, one billion people (one-sixth of the world) lack clean water, while the top one-sixth of the world consume en mass such a scarce resource. As a note, if you drink Fiji Water, it may hit too close to home. As Rausch points out:

Fiji Water comes from the islands of Fiji, which lie roughly 8,000 miles from New York. The bottles for the Fiji Water nearly double the trip because first they are brought to Fiji, filled, then shipped to their final destination. Transportation represents fully half the wholesale cost of Fiji Water. In addition, the Fiji Water plant further impacts the environment because it operates 24 hours a day requiring uninterrupted electricity that the factory supplies with three large generators run by diesel fuel.

Interesting stuff. Also, as a follow-up, it's worth checking out Corporate Accountability International's recent success at pressuring Pepsi to change the label for Aquafina water. Previously, Aquafina had a pristine image of a mountain spring on their bottles, suggesting that the water came from some luxurious mountain well. On the contrary, Aquafina comes from tap water from across the world; it's just put through a "purification" process first.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Seagal says FBI probe ruined his career

Right, it was the FBI probe, and not all of the crappy movies......

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Steven Seagal, whose action movies once were major box-office attractions, believes false allegations by FBI agents ruined his career, the Los Angeles Times reported on Friday.

The comments in the Times are the first Seagal has made publicly about an investigation begun some five years ago by the FBI into accusations he intimidated a reporter and had ties to organized crime.

The Times said Seagal is demanding an apology from the FBI. A spokesman for the actor was not immediately available on Friday.

"False FBI accusations fueled thousands of articles saying that I terrorize journalists and associate with the Mafia," Seagal told the newspaper. "These kinds of inflammatory allegations scare studio heads and independent producers -- and kill careers."

Seagal, 56, was once a major star of action movies such as 1992's "Under Siege," which earned $156 million at worldwide box offices, but now he makes straight-to-DVD releases such as "Flight of Fury and "Attack Force."

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Laramie Project Ban

I met Judy Shepherd, mother of Matthew Shepherd, about eight years ago when I was a junior at Mercyhurst College in Erie, PA. Less than two years had passed since her son was killed in Wyoming in one of the most gory and publicized hate crimes of the last few decades. I remember giving her a hug in the lobby of Mercyhurst's Performing Arts Center, after she had finished speaking to a pretty packed crowd. I was hanging out in the lobby with a few friends, when she came out of the auditorium and saw the three of us standing around. I remember asking her something about how she found the wherewithal to speak to audience after audience after audience about something so painful. She responded (I'm digging through the journal entry on this one to find the exact wording...): "I just want to help others who might be broken or scared or unsure."

It's been nearly nine years since Matthew Shepherd was killed. But the more times change, the more some things stay the same. Case in point, the ignorance of an Ocean Township, New Jersey principal and her superintendent, who are preventing a high school from staging The Laramie Project, an award-winning play chronicling the events surrounding the death of Matthew Shepherd. The play has already been staged in nearly 5,000 high schools over the past nine years.

It was an Ocean Township principal, Julia Davidow, who originally pulled the plug on the play. But the most disgusting part of this whole thing is a letter from Principal Davidow's superintendent, standing by her decision. Here's some text from the letter.

"If I err, I err on the side of caution. The first rule of education is, do no harm. I have to respect the decision made by our high school principal; it's not an easy job to be a high school principal. I regret that this is going to be a distraction to the community. In my 36 years here, it has been a wonderful community."

Spare me. If the first rule of education is do no harm (side note: I thought that was the first rule of medicine?), then what about the harm caused to all those students, faculty, and members of the community who could greatly benefit from this performance. Moreover, the line I regret that this is going to be a distraction to the community, is the type of public relations bullshit that fries me. If the superintendent really regretted this distraction, he'd work with the students and faculty that want to put this show on. Instead, he cowers behind the decision of a misinformed principal who's more concerned about covering her ass than actually giving students something to think about. Perhaps next the principal can make sure that all books referring to homosexual penguins are purged from school libraries.

Both Judy Shepherd and the Moises Kaufman, playwright of The Laramie Project, have written the school district to protest. Garden State Equality has also submitted a letter to the district. I can't find a direct email address for either the superintendent or the principal, but the Ocean Township School District website does have a feedback form that you can fill out here, if you'd like to ask this principal and superintendent to re-examine their rather poor and misinformed decision.

Of course, not wanting to give this principal or super all the glory on this post, I figured I'd also share with y'all a link to lyrics from a song that Randi Driscoll wrote after the death of Matthew Shepherd. Randi performed alongside Judy Shepherd at Mercyhurst, and I remember her song, "What Matters," as being such an elegant tribute to victims of hate crimes, particularly gay victims of hate crimes. Here's a link to the lyrics of her song, where you can also purchase a CD single.