Uganda adopts circumcision, finds science works

This is no real surprise:

The growing uptake of medical male circumcision by men in the Rakai district of Uganda is leading to a substantial reduction in HIV incidence among men in one of the districts of the country worst affected by HIV, Xiangrong Kong of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health told the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI 2015) in Seattle, USA, on Thursday…

The study found that circumcision coverage in non-Muslim men increased from 9% during the Rakai circumcision study to 26% by 2011, four years after the trial concluded. Every 10% increase in circumcision coverage was associated with a 12% reduction in HIV incidence (0.88, 95% confidence interval 0.80-0.96).

HIV incidence reduction in women lags behind but is expected to catch up in coming years.

We’ve known for the better part of the past decade that circumcision literally saves lives by acting as a high efficacy vaccine that reduces female-to-male HIV transmission by 60% (which is better than the flu vaccine most years). That we’re seeing the positive results of implementing it as a policy isn’t surprising. Science just works.

The horrors of Uganda

At the hand of Christian hate, gays are being targeted and murdered in Uganda.

David Kato, a Ugandan gay rights campaigner who sued a local newspaper which outed him as homosexual, has been beaten to death, activists have said.

Police have confirmed the death and say they have arrested one suspect.

Uganda’s Rolling Stone newspaper published the photographs of several people it said were gay, including Mr Kato, with the headline “Hang them”.

US President Barack Obama was quoted as saying he was “deeply saddened” to learn of Mr Kata’s death.

His Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged authorities to investigate and prosecute the killers.

I have no idea how anyone can say ideas don’t kill people. We’re composed of ideas, of motivations, of convictions – of influences. If we can’t say humans are compositions of ideas, I don’t know how we can even talk about humanity. Anti-gay propaganda, rhetoric, hate, and violent encouragement led to the death of David Kato. And the fire, created from ignorance, is constantly being stoked by a strong Christian faith in the country – along with a strong influence from American Christians who hate gays.

This article would be longer if I wasn’t so sickened.

Hartlaub’s Turaco

Look at these manly legs.

This comes from Shira Camp 1, the first and least creatively named camp site on my trek up Kilimanjaro (or perhaps Shira Camp 2 wins that title). Since it was practically dark by the time we rolled in that first day, I’m going to hazard this comes from the morning of Day 2. (Actually, the warm water for washing – say it with a Swahili accent – tells me it definitely was morning.) So that means you’re seeing me as I wonder just what all the sounds were from the prior night.

My initial thought was baboon. In fact, several baboons. We had seen some on the way to the head of the Lemosho route.

They aren’t easy to make out, but they are there. And as far as I know, they may have stayed there because they actually weren’t surrounding the camp site that night. Or if they were, they were tucked in their beds snug as could be. What was actually making all the racket was the Hartlaub’s Turaco.

It’s a pretty awesome bird that is native to Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. From what I’ve been reading, it appears to be most numerous in Kenya, at least in small part because of excessive hunting in Tanzania. Fortunately, however, it faces no significant danger to its overall health as a species at this point. (In fact, its conservation status is “LC” or Least Concern, the lowest, and thus best, it can be.)

But I know as great as pretty pictures are, what everyone really wants is some sound. (It will link you out, but do click anyway.)

ARKive video - Hartlaub's turaco - overview

I think the deep throatiness of the baboon is discernible through the Hartlaub’s Turaco’s call. But perhaps it was the quiet of the encompassing night that made it seem all the more phenomenal to me; I couldn’t help but be convinced I was hearing baboons. Without a deeper knowledge, I can only speculate why the bird makes such a sound: perhaps it is imitation, but that doesn’t strike me as the most plausible explanation off-hand.

Thanks to Mike for providing the necessary information, the first photograph, and even the link to the video. I appreciate it.

Where religion is killing gays

Crazy, huh? The primary source of the hatred gays face in Africa, and especially Uganda, is fueled by religion.

The growing tide of homophobia comes at a time when gays in Africa are expressing themselves more openly, prompting greater media attention and debates about homosexuality. The rapid growth of Islam and evangelical forms of Christianity, both espousing conservative views on family values and marriage, have persuaded many Africans that homosexuality should not be tolerated in their societies.

“It has never been harder for gays and lesbians on the continent,” said Monica Mbaru, Africa coordinator for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, based in Cape Town. “Homophobia is on the rise.”

But surely this is just an extreme example, right? After all, we have far too much religion in the U.S. but we aren’t putting in place laws that kill gays. Except we’re setting the stage. We are telling gays – and the world – that being gay is morally wrong, that it is evil, and that gays do not deserve the same rights as everyone else. Still in so many states it is legal to fire a person for being gay. There are bigots (even on the Supreme Court) who support anti-sodomy laws. In fact, that purely political, non-legally minded ‘judge’ Scalia said this when he voted against striking down laws that specifically targeted gays:

Today’s opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned.

He was worried that by acknowledging that no government has any say over the sexual lives of two consenting, autonomous adults that gay marriage might become a reality. (He also noted that it can be said that any law targets a group, intentionally forgetting that gays constitute a group not defined by choice.)

It’s this sort of dictionary bigotry that is assisting in the primarily Christian and Muslim effort to destroy the lives of gays. In fact, it is American Christian groups that are largely behind the “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda.

American gay activists have sent money to help the community here. Western governments – including aid donors – have vocally criticized the bill and denounced the treatment of gays.

That has angered conservative pastors here, many of whom are influenced by American anti-gay Christian groups and politicians who say that African values are under attack by Western attitudes. They say their goal is to change the sexual behavior of gays, not to physically harm them.

And does this sound familiar?

In Gambia, President Yahya Jammeh has vowed to expel gays from the country and urged citizens not to rent homes to them.

In addition to it being legal to fire gays in many U.S. states, it is also legal to refuse to rent to them. It was until just a few years ago that Maine finally passed a law which made it illegal to discriminate against gays in education, employment, housing, and other basic areas of life.

The plight of gays in Africa is the same plight of gays in America, especially in places like the south. By clinging to religion and irrationally proclaiming that gays do not deserve the exact same rights as everyone else, we are setting the stage for the discrimination, criminalization, and violence that they must face in Africa every single day.

Oh, but maybe this has nothing to do with True Religion, with the mainstream beliefs of Christians.

Oh wait:

In recent years, conservative American evangelical churches have had a profound influence on society in Uganda and other African nations. They send missions and help fund local churches that share their brand of Christianity. Sermons and seminars by American evangelist preachers are staples on local television and radio networks across the continent.

Some activists say the attacks in Uganda intensified last year after three American evangelical preachers visited the country. In seminars attended by thousands and broadcasted over radio, the preachers discussed how to “cure” homosexuality and accused gays of sodomizing boys and destroying African culture. A month later, a Ugandan lawmaker introduced the anti-homosexuality bill.

“The religious fundamentalists want to rule everyone. They want everyone to follow their religious agenda,” said Pepe Julien Onziema, a gay rights activist here.

Uganda is a terrible place

It’s just awful.

More than 20 homosexuals have been attacked over the last year in Uganda, and an additional 17 have been arrested and are in prison, said Frank Mugisha, the chairman of Sexual Minorities Uganda. Those numbers are up from the same period two years ago, when about 10 homosexuals were attacked, he said.

This all has come after the introduction of an anti-gay bill that would have imposed the death penalty on gays. (The bill eventually died.) By attacking the basic rights of gays, the legislators in Uganda have incited an increasing uprising against them; pretend like gays should have fewer or different rights than heterosexuals and you’re asking for discrimination. We see it all the time in the United States; Uganda has taken it to the extreme.

But you say you aren’t convinced of the similarities between what happens here and what happens in Uganda? How about the perpetuation of myths, then?

The Oct. 9 article in a Ugandan newspaper called Rolling Stone – not the American magazine – came out five days before the one-year anniversary of the controversial legislation. The article claimed that an unknown but deadly disease was attacking homosexuals in Uganda, and said that gays were recruiting 1 million children by raiding schools, a common smear used in Uganda.

Sounds an awful lot like that dastardly HOMOSEXUAL AGENDA!!ONE1!!, doesn’t it? Oh, but maybe it’s just one of them there backward places, huh? Well…

Rolling Stone does not have a large following in Uganda, a country of 32 million where about 85 percent of people are Christian and 12 percent are Muslim.

They do have very strong backwards thinking, but it derives from the same place as much of the backwards thinking in the U.S.

Bob Emrich and Uganda

Uganda has been well established as a good place for bigots to visit. In October of 2009 it introduced an Anti-Homosexuality Bill which would have made being gay punishable by life in prison or even death. This was on top of the already strong anti-gay laws in Uganda, one of which already made homosexuality punishable by 14 years in prison.

Several Evangelical Christians visited Uganda at this time, some of them specifically being involved in encouraging the bill. Bob Emrich, a pastor and one of the sexually immature leaders of the anti-equality movement in Maine last year, was in Uganda for two weeks just after the bill was introduced. He sent an email to his faith-heads in which he expressed support for a Ugandan article which said this:

This whole concept of human rights grates my nerves. It has made people un-african, mean and self-centered.

One can now shamelessly stand up and tell you: “I do as I please. You have no business in my affairs.” A sodomist can now swear to you that what they do in the privacy of their bedroom does not concern the public.

No wonder when a brilliant MP comes up with a Bill against homosexuality, the human rights activists baptize him an enemy of the people.

It is high time politicians, religious leaders, cultural leaders and all concerned Africans woke up and defended the African heritage against the moral confusion of Western civilization. This civilization is eroding African moral pride.

The so-called human rights activists have hijacked the driver’s seat and are sending nations into the sea of permissiveness in which the Western world has already drowned.

Emrich later said he was against life imprisonment and the death penalty for gays, but he had also already noted what “a refreshing change of pace” it was to be in Uganda. Uganda – a country known for its imprisonment of gays, something which was being discussed in an article Emrich was quoting and lauding.

Fast forward and now someone has called Emrich out on his bigotry.

It’s time to remind people about Emrich. In the fall of 2009, Emrich spent several weeks in Uganda working alongside anti-gay activists.

Presumably at that time, Emrich thought it was a good idea to remind people in Uganda about the evils of gay people.

Since gay marriage in Uganda was nowhere in sight, the activists’ motivation was to marginalize gays in general.

In October 2009, amidst the anti-gay activity in Uganda, a bill was introduced in the Ugandan Legislature that criminalized gay activity in Uganda, including the death penalty for a number of gay “crimes.”

It might seem hard to believe that Emrich would approve of the death penalty for gays, but shortly after his return to Maine, he sent an e-mail to his supporters about his trip.

Emrich’s e-mail included text from an article published in Uganda that condemns gays and their supporters and lauds the “brilliant” person who introduced the anti-gay bill.

Concerning the article, Emrich says “I think it speaks for itself.”

He was conspicuously silent about the death component of the Ugandan bill.

There’s some wiggly truth in this. First, Emrich claims to have been there to help build schools, train pastors, feed children, and conduct medical clinics, not working alongside anti-gay activists. But who isn’t an anti-gay activist in Uganda? I believe Emrich when he says he was not expressly working alongside any particular, organized political groups, but “expressly” is key. The building of schools and training of pastors fits is the method Emrich was choosing to indoctrinate children into a sea of ignorance, hate, and sexual immaturity. As he said, one of his favorite sentiments in Uganda was that “in order to have a healthy village, there must be a strong and healthy church”. This reflects the ideas of hate in the article Emrich loved so much which urged for a rejection of human rights in favor of maintaining small, heritage-based (read: anti-gay) villages in Africa. Emrich’s actions and subsequent email reflect what his whole mission was all about: he was trying to strengthen religion in a country which enthusiastically condemns gays, going so far as to praise an article which called that death penalty bill for gays “brilliant”.

But let’s hear from Emrich himself.

As for Uganda, the people still need help. Thousands live in remote villages, without access to clean water, sufficient food and medical care. Without transportation, electricity or newspapers, they have no time for political activism. They appreciate the help some Mainers have provided, and they are finding great hope and strength in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I skipped the opening and body of his response since I’ve already summarized some of his contention, but this conclusion is indicative of the sort of sexually immature, bigoted person Bob Emrich is. He’s pretending like his concern is purely for the people of Uganda, but he belies his claim when he goes on to imply the need for political activism in Uganda. He knows exactly what an increase in a focus on social issues means for gays in Uganda. He may disown parts of the article he lauded before he got caught, but he has never said he disagrees with the criminalization of homosexuality. In fact, in another email (some people are just too old to handle this stuff, I think), he clarified his position by saying this:

Personally, I agree that these (acts of sexual consent between two people of the same sex) are serious and grievous offenses but I do not believe they should be punishable by death or life imprisonment. The homosexual activists and bloggers are claiming that Ugandan officials, with the endorsement of American Christian leaders, are calling for the execution of all homosexuals. They are not to be believed. But deception and confusion serves their purpose.

Actually, it’s true that Ugandan officials and some Christian leaders in America have called for the death penalty, but that’s besides the point. What I’m wondering is why Emrich is so unwilling to homosexuality should not be a crime. But then, just like with the article he loves so much, maybe human rights really grate his nerves.

Don’t ask, get told on

A gay soldier in Kansas has been given the boot because she got legally married in Iowa.

Jene Newsome played by the rules as an Air Force sergeant: She never told anyone in the military she was a lesbian. The 28-year-old’s honorable discharge under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy came only after police officers in Rapid City, S.D., saw an Iowa marriage certificate in her home and told the nearby Ellsworth Air Force Base.

The Bigot Brigade PD basically ratted Newsome out because she wouldn’t cooperate with helping them find her spouse on an outstanding warrant. The BBPD claims they were running a proper investigation, but that’s an incredibly thin lie. They had no business reporting anything to the military. They knew exactly what they were doing.

Police officers, who said they spotted the marriage license on the kitchen table through a window of Newsome’s home, alerted the base, police Chief Steve Allender said in a statement sent to the AP. The license was relevant to the investigation because it showed both the relationship and residency of the two women, he said.

“It’s an emotional issue and it’s unfortunate that Newsome lost her job, but I disagree with the notion that our department might be expected to ignore the license, or not document the license, or withhold it from the Air Force once we did know about it,” Allender said Saturday. “It was a part of the case, part of the report and the Air Force was privileged to the information.”

Steve Allender (adminInt3@rcgov.org) is a liar. The marital status of a third party in their investigation is irrelevant. It doesn’t take some half-ass cop out in the boonies to see that.

“This information was intentionally turned over because of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and to out Jene so that she would lose her military status,” said Robert Doody, executive director of ACLU South Dakota. The ACLU is focusing its complaint on the police department, not the military, and Newsome said she and her attorney have not yet decided on whether to file a lawsuit.

“The ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ piece is important and critical to this, but also it’s a police misconduct case,” Doody said.

The BBPD has no idea what is appropriate action. It’s a department full of petty and vengeance to the citizen who crosses them, evidently. They should have had no expectation that a third party would help them with their investigation – but they did. They precisely expected Newsome to cow-tow to their demands to make their jobs easier. When she didn’t, they sought to ruin her career.

Of course, what would be an obvious case of bigotry without the overt bigotry?

Despite claiming that she had played by the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” rules, she got married to her lesbian lover in Iowa after an activist state supreme court said she could.

Well, that was tell number one. A marriage license, Ms. Newsome, is a public record. If you want to keep your sexual preference hidden from your superiors, it’s best not to advertise it to the whole world.

This is from some dying dinosaur named Bryan Fischer. Apparently Fischer thinks gays want to keep who they are private. No, no, really. People just love faking it.

Second, when the police came to her home seeking to execute an arrest warrant on her lesbian “wife” (“husband?” — it’s hard to know these days), they found the wedding license lying right in the middle of the dining room table. If you want to keep your sexual preference a secret, there are better ways.

For instance, one could hide a marriage license behind a smarmy aura of asshole. To date, no one has been able to confirm Fischer’s marital status.

Rapid City, S.D. law enforcement officials saw the wedding license and did their legal duty by reporting what they had found to the military.

What law is that again?

Ms. Newsome received an “honorable discharge” in January. (This is not your father’s military: she committed what is a crime under the UCMJ, and has the word “honorable” on her discharge papers. Go figure.)

There must be a mistake on Fischer’s website. It says he’s from Idaho, not Uganda.

Newsome’s partner in sexual deviancy is apparently not a model citizen, currently being under indictment for one felony and three misdemeanor counts of theft. That’s another tip for Ms. Newsome — if you don’t want get outed, it might be best not to “marry” somebody who robs people.

Do donation baskets count as robbery since they purport to be used for good causes but instead continue to support religion?

Gates’ theory — you get to break the law as long as you don’t rat yourself out — is absurd. Imagine if we applied that to any other realm of law enforcement. You, sir, get to go right on holding up banks because all we have to go on is ironclad eyewitness testimony from tellers, managers and other bank patrons. Please, please, pretty please admit you did it so we can lock you up. Otherwise, we will be forced to let you go so you can rob and pillage some more.

Idaho simply must be a mistake.