President Obama Finds New Pro-Gay Pastor to Give Inaugural Benediction
[The Atlantic Wire] Rev. Louis Leon, an Episcopal priest from St. John's Church in Washington, D.C. will replace Pastor Louie Giglio whose sermons on "ex-gay therapy" were released. Leon also delivered the invocation for President George W. Bush's second inauguration. It is reported that Giglio endorsed conversion therapy and taught biblical passages that he said were in full support of the execution of gay people. According to Think Progress, Leon's "parish is known to welcome gay members in addition to the other inclusive positions of the Episcopal Church, including blessing same-sex unions and ordaining non-celibate LGBT priests," and his church shows up on a database of gay-friendly churches in the country. Pastor Rick Warren gave the inaugural benediction in 2008 and was also anti-gay marriage at the time. Warren as since changed his stance.
Oakland's State of Emergency Tug-of-War
[San Francisco Chronicle] Mayor Jean Quan of Oakland declared the city as being in an "ongoing state of emergency." This statement, however, did not satisfy the request of black ministers to formally declare a state of emergency. Just this past weekend, 15 people were shot, four fatally. "The violence is out of control. We've had more shootings than days in the new year," said Bishop Robert Jackson of the Acts Full Gospel Church. Quan told about a dozen ministers Monday that Oakland did not qualify as being formally declared as a state of emergency. Quan hopes to speak with federal officials while in Washington, D.C. for inaugural events about the crime problem.
Deputy Sheriff in Oklahoma Pleads Guilty For Depriving Rights
[Department of Justice] Former deputy sheriff with the Murray County Sherriff's Office has pleaded guilty in federal court to Deprivation of Rights. Craig Billings, 39, physically assaulted a handcuffed victim. As a result, the victim suffered from a mild concussion, pain, and swelling to his head. Billings decided to assault the victim despite him knowing he was prohibited from using physical force on a restrained arrestee. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
USDA No Longer Wants to be The Last Plantation
[The Press Enterprise] Between 2001 to 2008, more than 14,000 civil rights complaints were filed at the USDA. Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack promises to address the racial bias within his agency and to resolve lawsuits by minority groups. He claims he will bury USDA's nickname as "the last plantation." Vilsack's efforts include the $1.3 billion USDA fund set aside specifically for cash awards. Another $160 million will go toward debt relief for Hispanic and female farmers who can prove they were discriminated against between 1981 to 2000. Denied or reduced loans for "minorities" have been dated back to the 1960s, “The opening of this claims process is part of USDA's ongoing efforts to correct the wrongs of the past and ensure fair treatment to all current and future customers,” Vilsack said in a statement.