Anti-Gay ministry Exodus International closes, apologizes

alanchambers

After nearly 40 years of performing “gay-to-straight conversion therapy,” Exodus International is closing its doors. The board of the Florida-based Christian ministry, which has grown to include more than 120 local U.S. and Canadian ministries and more than 150 ministries in 17 countries, voted unanimously Wednesday to shut down after a year-long internal discussion.

“Exodus is an institution in the conservative Christian world, but we’ve ceased to be a living breathing organism,” said Exodus President Alan Chambers on Wednesday. “For quite some time we’ve been imprisoned in a worldview that’s neither honoring toward our fellow human beings, nor biblical…”

Chambers also issued a series of apologies to the LGBT community for promoting reparative therapy and for failing to stand up to fellow Christians who persecuted gay individuals. “More than anything, I am sorry that so many have interpreted this religious rejection by Christians as God’s rejection,” he said. “I am profoundly sorry that many have walked away from their faith and that some have chosen to end their lives.”

The shutdown comes six years after three former Exodus leaders apologized and left the organization. In 2007, former Exodus co-founder Michael Bussee, former president of Exodus International Europe Jeremy Marks, and the former director of an Exodus referral agency Darlene Bogle issued a joint statement acknowledging the harm reparative therapy caused

The Human Rights Campaign issued a statement Thursday applauding Exodus for closing its doors. “This is a welcome first step in honestly addressing the harm the organization and its leaders have caused over the past 37 years,” said Dr. Sharon Groves, director of the HRC Religion and Faith Program. “Now we need them to take the next step of leadership and persuade all other religious-based institutions that they got it wrong. This is the right kind of reparative work that is left for them to do.”

I don’t doubt the core of fundamentalist bigots who hate the LGBT community sufficiently to deny them civil rights will continue the anti-Gay campaign under one or another name. The Michele Bachmanns of the political Right will continue the campaign in the halls of Congress. Truly corrupt loons who skim millions of dollars from ignorant and fearfilled religious folk – will continue to crank out their ministries of fear via opportunist radio barons.

Still, a victory as significant as this cannot be overlooked. And credit of some kind must be given to Alan Chambers who appears to have chosen honesty over greed. A decision rarely seen among religious hustlers.

Background checks might be useful – if there was enough oversight to guarantee they’re not phony!

Investigators charged with conducting background checks of U.S. national-security workers have falsified records and aren’t receiving adequate oversight, according to an inspector general’s testimony.

One worker fabricated 1,600 credit checks before it was discovered her own background investigation had been falsified, Patrick McFarland, inspector general…said in prepared testimony…obtained by Bloomberg News.

While 18 investigators, including contract and government employees, have been convicted of falsifying reports since 2006, McFarland said the inspector general’s office lacks the resources to clear a backlog of an additional 36 cases.

“My office has been alarmed for several years about the lack of oversight,” he said in his written testimony. “Our resources remain woefully inadequate, preventing us from performing the level of oversight that such an important program requires.”

The disclosure of secret documents describing two U.S. surveillance programs by Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor who…had a top-secret clearance, has called attention to the government’s process of vetting people who handle sensitive information.

Two Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs subcommittees plan to hold a hearing addressing the government’s security-clearance process…

The Office of Personnel Management is responsible for some 90 percent of the background investigations of U.S. government employees and contractors. The Pentagon and Department of Homeland Security are the biggest users of the program.

The personnel office conducts more than 2 million investigations a year, according to its website. It vets applicants for federal agency jobs and applicants for security clearances.

While the personnel office charges other federal agencies to conduct the checks, it isn’t allowed to include the cost of the inspector general’s oversight in its prices, according to McFarland.

Which gives you an accurate pictures of how much necessity is placed on oversight by the folks who approve budgets. House of Representatives isn’t it?

Whining about the cost of budgets, deficit ratios, and mouthing off about federal taxes still seems to be the highest priority among today’s conservative politicians. Perish the thought they check on whether or not anything is being accomplished.

Mercedes launching car-to-car communications

Vehicle-to-vehicle communications are a fundamental pillar of autonomous, self-driving cars. Once vehicles can exchange data with each other and the greater driving infrastructure, they’ll be able to “see” and adapt to driving obstacles more completely, preventing accidents and delivering more efficient driving. Mercedes plans to be the first automaker to bring a Car-to-X vehicle-to-vehicle communications system to market.

When fully equipped with the latest technologies on offer, modern cars can already do much of the driving themselves. They can accelerate, maintain following distance and brake for traffic. They can help the driver maintain lanes. They can monitor hazards and obstacles such as pedestrians, rear cross traffic and blind spots. They do all these advanced activities with the help of onboard camera, sensor, laser and radar systems…

Vehicle-to-vehicle communications will serve to expand vehicles’ monitoring and autonomous driving capabilities, gaining a more comprehensive picture of surrounding road conditions like traffic and accidents. Being able to gather and send information about driving conditions will enable cars to analyze, adapt and navigate independently within road systems. Such communications can also make roadways more efficient, for instance transmitting real-time traffic pattern data with traffic lights…

When equipped with Car-to-X, the Mercedes vehicle is both a receiver and transmitter of data. It can gather information from other nearby Car-to-X-equipped cars and compatible broadcast systems. For instance, an emergency response vehicle involved in accident response could send information about the location of the accident and applicable road closures. Other examples include alerts about bad weather, animals on the road, wrong-way drivers and potholes.

Once the driver sees these notifications on his infotainment display, he can react accordingly, slowing down, taking a different route, etc. For now, the system still relies on the driver to react, but it’s easy to see how it could be used to power autonomous vehicle reactions in the future.

A Car-to-X-equipped vehicle can also serve as the initiation point for notifications. It can detect and transmit some warnings automatically and includes a push-button notification system so that the driver or passenger can warn other cars of hazards.

While being the first to market gives Mercedes bragging rights, it also means that Car-to-X technology will be very limited, as only other drivers of Mercedes vehicles equipped with the technology will be using it. To help deploy it faster, Driver Kit Plus hardware will be offered on both new vehicles and as an aftermarket option for older Mercedes models. Mercedes is also working with other auto manufacturers toward future car-to-car systems that allow vehicles of all makes and models to communicate. Along with automakers like Audi, BMW and Volvo, Daimler/Mercedes is part of the Car 2 Car Communications Consortium.

For the US market they’ll probably have to include a massive multiplayer version of Angry Birds.

Pic of the Day


Click to enlargeREUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

Oxfam activists depicting Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Barack Obama take part in a media event to highlight world hunger during the G8 summit, at Enniskillen Golf Course in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland…

Former investigators break silence about TWA Flight 800 crash

twa

Investigators from the first probe of doomed TWA Flight 800 called Wednesday for a new examination of the tragedy, resurrecting old claims that a missile downed the plane.

A half-dozen people involved in the original inquiry into the July 17, 1996, blast that killed 230 people on a Paris-bound flight out of JFK Airport claimed new evidence supports the oft-suggested missile theory…

The investigators – in a conference call promoting an upcoming documentary, “Flight 800” – charged the original probe ignored testimony from nearly 700 eyewitnesses and included evidence tampering…

New evidence suggests there were more than 100 traces of explosives found in the plane’s wreckage, and internal CIA documents suggest a cover-up, they charge…

And they referenced FAA radar evidence that reportedly pointed to a missile hit – although they declined to speculate if it was a terrorist attack or friendly fire…

Tom Stalcup, joined Wednesday by former NTSB investigator Hank Hughes and former TWA investigator Bob Young, said they had no doubt that a missile was responsible for the plane’s demise…

Skeptics and conspiracy theorists have long argued that TWA 800 was shot down by the U.S. Navy or hit with a terrorist rocket.

It’s easy to understand why these folks didn’t want to be whistleblowers while still collecting paychecks from the NTSB. Folks who expose corruption and lies – corporate or government makes no difference – get next to no protection regardless of the laws on the books.