Just send in a bunch of singers like her:
(NOTE: I’m still catching up on my backlog, so some of these may not be especially timely.)
– Det regnar män. Halleluja!: Sweden came up with a fun way to address Russia’s recent spate of “no homo” legislation that is totally not trying to throw us off of anything. Okay, look, Russia and Belarus have known each other a long time, but they’re just bros, okay? Can we drop this now?
Oh, anyway, Sweden is trolling Russian submarines (which, I should mention, are long, hard, and full of seamen):
The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (SPAS) is to deal with encroaching Russian submarines in Swedish waters with a device emitting anti-homophobia Morse code.
The device – officially titled The Singing Sailor Underwater Defence System, but nicknamed the “gay sailor” – is a “subsurface sonar system”, which sends out the message: “This way if you are gay” in an attempt to deter apparently homophobic Russians.
Russian exceptionalism is no less ridiculous than American exceptionalism.
The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan started on the eve of the Soviet breakup, as ethnic Armenians in Azerbaijan’s province of Nagorno-Karabakh rallied to join Armenia. Moscow armed both sides and played them against each other, turning a local dispute over the status of a territory inhabited by 90,000 people into a regional war. For close to six years, the newly independent states of Armenia and Azerbaijan fought over the territory, leaving 30,000 dead and creating around a million new refugees. Eventually, Armenia was victorious, and it took control of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven other Azerbaijani districts. Continue reading
In the midst of everyone’s rush to give Putin’s Russia (much deserved) grief over the country’s law banning “homosexual propaganda” or whatever, the Washington Post published an article identifying eight U.S. states with laws that, while nowhere near the Russian law in letter, might seem close to it in spirit. The U.S. state laws, commonly known as “no promo homo” laws, presumably by people who never expect to have to say that out loud, apply specifically to public education regarding teh gayz. Unlike Russia’s law, they do not include provisions for incarceration and whatnot.
The Texas statute is worth examining, provided that any such examination is followed by peals of derisive laughter and ruthless mockery at our backwards legislators. Texas Health & Safety Code § 163.002(8) provides as follows:
Course materials and instruction relating to sexual education or sexually transmitted diseases should include…emphasis, provided in a factual manner and from a public health perspective, that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under Section 21.06, Penal Code.
I see four glaring problems here:
- “Emphasis, provided in a factual manner.” The absurdity of this provision should become clear once it is demonstrated that nothing following it in the statute is in any way factual.
- “From a public health perspective.” Similarly, this really does not apply to either of the assertions that follow.
- “Homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public.” This might have been sort of true in 1991, when the Legislature passed this particular statute, but times have undoubtedly changed and continue to change, and it was never really the public’s business anyway. What happened to liberty, Texas Legislature? I guess that only applies to things you don’t personally find icky, right?
- “Homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under Section 21.06, Penal Code.” This was certainly true in 1991, but it hasn’t been true since 2003, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down that specific statute in Lawrence v. Texas. The fact that the Legislature hasn’t bothered to take it off the books in the subsequent decade is pretty embarrassing. Not as embarrassing, of course, as the law mandating that schools continue to teach kids that a statute ten years in its constitutional grave still has legal force.
EDIT (02/13/2014): Edited to correct a spelling error – “times have undoubtedly change” should say “times have undoubtedly changed.”
Russia maintained an outpost called Fort Ross in northern California, about 91 miles north of San Francisco, from 1812 to 1842. According to Wikipedia, on March 15, 1812, “Ivan Kuskov with 25 Russians and 80 Native Alaskans arrive[d] at Port Rumiantsev and proceed[ed] north to establish Fortress Ross.”
Spain still held most of California at the time, and they weren’t too thrilled to have Russians that close by. They built the Mission San Francisco de Solano near Sonoma in 1823 to keep an eye on them. Later on, after Mexican independence, Mexico built El Presidio de Sonoma in the area in 1836 for the same reason.
The fort provided agricultural products for Russia’s Alaskan colony, including crops and furs, but it ceased to be viable in the 1840’s when the Alaskan colony started obtaining goods elsewhere. The Russians sold it to a guy for $30,000, although Russian historians claim he never paid for it, and that the land is still titled to Russia. I’m sure they’ll be claiming on that any day now.
This is one of those things we never learned about in school, so I just thought you should know.
Russia also established a fort on the island of Kauai, Hawaii in 1817. They turned it over to the Hawaiians later the same year, though.