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Lutheran High School in California expelled two teen girls for “a bond of intimacy” they deemed “characteristic of a lesbian relationship” and “conducting themselves in a manner consistent with being lesbians.”

When the 16-year-olds sued, the 4th District Court of Appeal in California unanimously sided with the school.

From the LA Times:

In response to that suit, an appeals court decided this week that the private religious school was not a business and therefore did not have to comply with a state law that prohibits businesses from discriminating.

…John McKay, who represented the Riverside County-based California Lutheran High School, said the ruling correctly acknowledged that the school’s purpose was to “teach Christian values in a Christian setting pursuant to a Christian code of conduct.”

The girls never actually revealed whether they are lesbians or not. All that is now necessary is a suspicion of gayness for a private school to legally kick a student out. Myspace pictures of the girls hugging and the report of one student who had heard that one girl “loved” the other were the pieces of evidence that inspired suspicions in their principal’s mind.

So now will students have to scramble to prove their straightness in order to prevent expulsion? What about schools ran by religious groups who discriminate based on race, like fundamentalist Mormonism? Could they expel or deny admittance to black students under this ruling? Or is sexual orientation the only class for which the government will sanction a special right to religious discrimination?

Lawyer McKay’s “Christian code of conduct” quote makes me want to barf.

Homophobia Cross

Disturbing…

The CIA’s station chief at its sensitive post in Algeria is under investigation by the U.S. Justice Department for allegedly raping at least two Muslim women who claim he laced their drinks with a knock-out drug, U.S. law enforcement sources tell ABC News.

…The discovery of more than a dozen videotapes showing the CIA officer engaged in sex acts with other women has led the Justice Department to broaden its investigation to include at least one other Arab country, Egypt, where the CIA officer had been posted earlier in his career, according to law enforcement officials.

…Officials say one of the alleged victims is seen on tape, in a “semi-conscious state.”

…”It has the potential to be quite explosive if it’s not handled well by the United States government,” said Isobel Coleman, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who specializes in women’s issues in the Middle East.

Guido Newbrough died of an untreated staph infection in his heart. He was being held at the Piedmont Regional Jail in Farmville, VA.

[G]uards should have noticed that Mr. Newbrough was in critical condition as the bacteria colonizing his heart broke loose, creating abscesses in his brain, liver and kidneys.

…Several detainees interviewed by telephone last week said that in the two weeks before Thanksgiving, Mr. Newbrough’s back pain grew so bad that he began sobbing through the night, and some in the 90-man unit took turns making him hot compresses. By the Sunday before Thanksgiving, he was desperate, two detainees said, and banged at the door of the unit’s lunchroom, yelling for help. They said by the time guards responded, he was seated at a table.

“They told him to get up, and he said he couldn’t get up because he was in a lot of pain,” said Salvador Alberto Rivas, who identified himself as Mr. Newbrough’s bunk mate, awaiting deportation to El Salvador. “Because of the pain, he started crying, and he was trying to tell them he had put in requests for medical and didn’t get any. And then one of the guards threw him to the floor.”

“They drag him by his leg, in front of about 30 people,” said another detainee, who gave his name only as Jose for fear of retaliation, adding that many witnesses had since been transferred to other jails or deported.

“We didn’t know that he was dying,” added Jose, who wrote about the case in a letter published online by a Spanish weekly. “They took him to the hole. He was yelling for help in the hole, too.”

The New York Times has reported on other deaths in immigration detention due to medical neglect, including the Piedmont facility:

Hiu Lui Ng, died 8/08

Francisco Castaneda, died 2/26/08

Boubacar Bah, died 6/07

Abdoulai Sall, died 12/06

Young Sook Kim, died 9/11/06

Sandra M. Kenley, died 2005

There are many others. The Washington Post wrote recently that “Some 83 detainees have died in, or soon after, custody during the past five years…Actions taken — or not taken — by medical staff members may have contributed to 30 of those deaths…”

People United, the ACLU and Human Rights Watch have been active in calling for accountability and change.

These are human lives we’re talking about. But somehow, when a person ends up in immigration detention, the value of their life declines. Jailers and immigration officials have been consistently cavalier about the deaths. From the NYT article: “Ernest L. Toney, the jail superintendent, denied accounts that Mr. Newbrough had been mistreated…” From CBS: Gary Mead, a senior immigration official, told the Congress that ICE provides “state-of-the-art medical care,” and “the best possible healthcare.”

I think my definition of “best possible healthcare” and Gary’s diverge.

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