Activists: use Indiana’s religious freedom law to let satirical religions flourish

The unbearable trauma felt by some Christian bakeries at having to top their cakes with adorable figurines like this one is why Indiana had to pass a law protecting their right to discriminate.

The unbearable trauma felt by some Christian bakeries at having to top their cakes with adorable figurines like this one is why Indiana had to pass a law protecting their right to discriminate.

In the mad race state legislatures are running to out-crazy one another, Indiana recently pulled into the lead with its Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The bill is articulated in such a way that it clearly offers provisos to private businesses allowing them to discriminate against clientele on the basis of religious belief. Widespread condemnations of the law ensued almost immediately, including boycotts from businesses, the band Wilco and the state of Connecticut.

Really, the law just demonstrates the hysterical victimization complex of the Christian right. It’s a rather remarkable situation where this entitled crowd is scoring legislative victories because their right to discriminate is being oppressed. Continue reading

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Nuclear negotiations are no time for political games

Leaders discuss Iran's nuclear future.

Leaders discuss Iran’s nuclear future.

Obstruction has defined and united Congressional Republicans since the earliest days of President Obama’s term. Few Republican maneuvers, though, have generated as much rage as Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton’s cynical, stupid and dangerous letter to Iran. Forty-seven Republican senators signed the letter, attempting to undermine or diminish the nuclear deal being worked out between Iran and the U.S.

Per the deal, in exchange for the U.S. lifting some of its sanctions on Iran, Iran will agree to keep its nuclear program within certain agreed-upon parameters, including postponing any nuclear weapons programs. As the specifics continue to be ironed out, Cotton’s letter provided a senseless, politically motivated distraction. Fortunately, the Iranians are more serious than Senate Republicans, and the letter hasn’t derailed the diplomats having the real conversation. Representatives from the most powerful nations on the globe – the U.S., Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China – are all working with Iran to come up with an internationally agreeable program. Continue reading

Homan Square isn’t quite Chicago’s Gitmo

This innocuous-looking warehouse is used by Chicago police as a CIA-style "black site" for detaining and interrogating suspects.

This innocuous-looking warehouse is used by Chicago police as a CIA-style “black site” for detaining and interrogating suspects.

If only the mildest claims about it are true, Chicago’s Homan Square is a frightening escalation in the War on America currently being waged by domestic law enforcement. The Chicago Police Department has been using the building – to outside appearances, an equipment warehouse – as an off-the-book “black site” to detain suspects without charging them or giving them access to a lawyer.

Immediately, the similarities between Homan Square and the prisoner abuse scandals in places like Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay are obvious. Many observers already refer to Homan Square as “Chicago’s Gitmo,” and activists have begun using a hashtag, #Gitmo2Chicago. Suspects taken into Homan Square are roughed up, bound in compromising positions for hours at a time, locked in cages that resemble dog kennels, and not processed through any official booking. Attorneys are turned away at the front door. Continue reading