NY Times: Trove of F.B.I. Files on Lawyers Guild Shows Scope of Secret Surveillance


Heading out of town

I’m cross-posting this from my law office website in case anyone tries to contact me here…

ATTENTION: I am traveling out of state from June 23-July 1. I will be taking my blackberry with me and expect to have cell phone and email access, but reception may be spotty at times. I will be checking messages at least every 24 hours. If you have an urgent legal need that cannot wait, please contact the Military Law Task Force to find a lawyer who can assist you.

(I’ll be gone to Charlotte, NC with a church mission trip. I’ll share more details either on the road or when I get back. Sorry to be so brief but I’m trying to get too many chores done before departing.)


Youtube.com: Vote Different video (a clever spoof on the 1984 iconic Macintosh ad by an Obama supporter)


CNN: Gay life — Change and challenge

. . . Sharon, who grew up in Stillwater, Oklahoma, has a saying about the reaction of the religious in her home state: “In Oklahoma, I have more people praying for me than with me.”

In one instance, the couple applied for membership in a Lutheran church in Oklahoma. Though they were eventually accepted, it was only after much debate and an unprecedented vote by the elders of the church.

A couple of years after they met in Ponca City, Oklahoma, Sharon and Tanya decided to make a big move to Massachusetts, which since 2004 has been the only one of 50 states to permit same-sex couples to get married legally. More than 8,500 couples have done so, including at least one couple from Oklahoma.

They did so for at least three reasons. First, both wanted to adopt the son and daughter that Sharon had adopted as a single parent.

Second, Tanya was a police officer and says she started having problems on the job because of her sexual orientation.

Third, the couple say they wanted to “validate” their relationship.

The were legally married on January 21, 2005, in a small ceremony at the courthouse in Plymouth, Massachusetts, at which time Sharon took Tanya’s last name of Dillard.

Now, the Dillards have decided to move back to Oklahoma — one of 27 states that have passed an amendment to their constitutions outlawing same-sex couples from getting married and denying recognition of such a marriage “performed in another state.”

In doing so, they will be forced to navigate a shifting patchwork of state and federal laws giving them different rights in different states.

But they say they want their children to be near their grandparents, and Sharon has “a wonderful job offer in Oklahoma,” where she’ll be working as director of oncology services at a university medical center. “We are hopeful that views are beginning to change there.” . . .

I’m glad that they moved back to Oklahoma. They have quite a fight ahead but I do think things are getting much better, at least in Oklahoma City. I think more and more folks in OKC are starting to be supportive of LGBT rights, but there are very few straight allies willing to take a stand. There’s a lot of reasons for this, partly that the homophobia is so bad in this part of the country, that being pro-gay rights will get you labeled as being gay yourself (I know that because I’ve had more than a few folks ask me if I’m gay after reading this blog — I don’t think it matters that much myself, but I’m celibate and heterosexual for whatever it is worth.), or that you’ll be accused of supporting sin or being a “gay-enabler.”

Straight folks have to lose this fear. We must be willing to speak up for the equal rights of all. There were lots of well-meaning liberal white folks in the south who thought that black folks should be treated right, but most didn’t say much for fear that they would be called “n—–r lovers” (my Dad has told me that when he was growing up in the 50’s in an Oklahoma small town that he was told by his classmates that he was a n—–rlover because he said in class that black people should be allowed to vote). Let’s not repeat history.


The Ponytail Bandit

FBI Wanted Posted: The Ponytail Bandit

America’s Most Wanted: The Ponytail Bandit

ABC News: Illegally blond– FBI seeks ponytail bandit

Statesman.com: FBI seeks armed and dangerous ‘Ponytail Bandit’

KXAN.com: Ponytail Bandit Goes Cross-Country With Bank Robberies

The Ponytail Bandit has hit three banks in the past month, including one in Austin.

She’s made her way to the West Coast and onto the FBI’s wanted list.

Her crime spree started at the Wachovia Bank on Mesa Drive last month.

Her method is always the same: She walks through the front doors, waits her turn in line, and then she politely hands the teller a note, demanding money and asking them to smile. Then she walks back out the front doors and disappears.

This story is so funny. A sorority-type girl walks into a bank, stands politely in line and then when it is her turn she hands the teller a note saying she wants cash and that the teller should smile while she is getting the cash. No weapon is used and no threat is used.

Seriously, this isn’t bank robbery. She simply asking for money and the teller obliges. And now she’s on the FBI’s most wanted list. Hehehe, ok, I guess this is a serious crime but still it seems pretty funny to me.

And of course, this crime spree began in Austin (just like the infamous urban legend about the stolen kidney)


Granma.cu: They will never have Cuba – statement of defiance by Fidel Castro

CNN: Castro vows U.S. ‘will never have Cuba’

I don’t agree with everything Castro says but this particular statement is very compelling and inspirational. I can’t help but admire (warts and all) that this small nation has stood against the American Empire for the last 50 years and has created a society that is based on social justice and equality for all, and Castro’s statement gives a vivid picture of what a fight it has been to keep the Cuban Revolution alive.

Another interesting point is how Castro explains with amazing clarity how our current economic policies (based on a cheap dollar and unprecedented sales of weaponry) have served to subjugate the world.


Here’s your invitation to the infamous peace potluck…

What is it?: It’s not just another Potluck. It’s an adventure.
Where is it?: 4400 NW Expressway (Park in the south parking lot)

When is it?: 06/14//07 We will start gathering at 6:30 and will begin eating at 7:00

Who is invited?: This potluck is for anyone who is hungry and wants to talk.

What to bring?: Feel free to cook, feel free to bring a bucket of chicken, feel free to bring a bag of chips, feel free to bring a casserole, just try to bring something. Part of the adventure is sharing a meal together with new people.

What should I expect?: We will start gathering at 6:30 and we begin eating around 7:00 p.m. These potlucks exist to create a place for people to talk about life, to foster a way for people to meet others, and to dialogue about what peace and community mean in this strange world.

Other info: Potlucks for the Promotion of Peace and Community will be providing the drinks, plates, and utensils for this potluck. We look forward to seeing you. There is no agenda other than the promotion of peacemaking, community building, and meeting new people.

Please invite friends, passing acquaintances, or complete strangers.

Contact name: Lance A Schmitz
Phone: 405.843.9588
E-mail: lanceschmitz{at}gmail.com


Contact name: James Branum
Phone: 405.476.5620
E-mail: jmb(at)jmbzine.com

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” -Mother Teresa


I’m sitting in a coffee shop here in Newton, Kansas and I must say that this town is very, very cool.

I had to come up here today for an interview by the Mennonite Church’s Western District leadership commission (a very, very interesting experience. Overall pretty positive but it was definitely pretty intense to be questioned about what one believes) but now that the interview is done I’m kicking back and enjoying this town.

I first hit the Faith and Life bookstore (a Mennonite bookstore in downtown Newton), I got some interesting reads: Taking our Moments and our Days, An Anabaptist prayer book, Ordinary Time; Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, Practices that transform us by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun; and The Contemplative Pastor, Returning to the Art of Spiritual Direction by Eugene Peterson (the author of The Message).

After that I cruised around town some and then settled in at Moka’s coffeehouse (I was very tempted to go by the Ten Thousand Villages store, but I knew I would spend too much if I went in there). The town itself is pretty neat. Very clean and tidy with a cute downtown. There are tons of Mennonite offices and business (besides the ones already mentioned, there is Bethel College, the MCC Central States office, and Et Cetra thrift store, etc.) and the town has a bit of an artsy/bookish vibe. Also, and this is the best part, there are bicycles EVERYWHERE! I see older folks, kids, college students all over the place. Certainly this isn’t Portland, Oregon but is more bikes than I’ve ever seen in a small city this size. And the bikes you do see are being ridden right, the kids are on the sidewalks mostly while the adults are out in traffic, taking their lane (woohoo!) and being very polite and law-abiding. Also what is weird (but I suppose good), is that everyone is wearing bike helmets – kids, adults, pretty much everybody.

Anyway I’m sold on Newton. This town is pretty stinking cool.


Hamilton Spectator/NY Times: Another troubled U.S. soldier — Combat horrors in Afghanistan left Jamie Dean angry and withdrawn and eventually led to his death

The sniper fired. It was a clean shot, if there is such a thing. And down for good fell another U.S. soldier.

His name was Sergeant James Dean, but everyone called him Jamie. He was the farm boy who fished, hunted and tossed a horseshoe like nobody else. He was the guy at the end of Toots Bar, nursing a Bud and talking NASCAR. He was the driver of that blue Silverado at the red light, his hands on the wheel, his mind on combat horrors that made him moody, angry, withdrawn.

Now here he was, another U.S. soldier, dead. Only Dean was killed at the front door of his childhood home, the day after Christmas and three weeks before his redeployment, shot by a sniper representing the government for whom he had already risked his life in Afghanistan. His wife and parents received the news not by a knock on the door, but by gunfire in the neighbourhood.

“IF THEY HAD just left him alone,” says his wife, Muriel. . .


Wikipedia.org: Tiananmen Square protests of 1989