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Posts Tagged ‘mormons’

I just HAD to post this! And here was me thinking drug cartels are all bad!

COLONIA LEBARON, Mexico – Mormon pioneer Alma Dayer LeBaron had a vision when he moved his breakaway sect of polygamists to this valley 60 years ago: His many children would live in peace and prosperity among the pretty pecan orchards they would plant in the desert.

Prosperity has come, but the peace has been shattered.

In the past three months, American Mormon communities in Mexico have been sucked into a dust devil of violence sweeping the borderlands. Their relative wealth has made them targets: Their telephones ring with threats of extortion. Their children and elders are taken by kidnappers. They have been drawn into the government’s war with the drug cartels. //

This month, a leader of their colony was abducted by heavily armed men dressed as police, then beaten and shot dead 10 minutes from town. Benjamin LeBaron, 31, whom everyone called Benji, had dared to denounce the criminals, while refusing to pay a $1 million ransom demanded by kidnappers who had grabbed his teen-age brother from a family ranch in May.

Amid the blood and mesquite at the site of his last breath, Benjamin LeBaron’s killers posted a sign that read: “This is for the leaders of LeBaron who didn’t believe and who still don’t believe.”

“We’re living in a war zone, but it’s a war zone with little kids running all around in the yard,” said Julian LeBaron, a brother of the slain leader. Like most members of the Mormon enclave, he has dual Mexican-American citizenship and speaks Spanish and English fluently.

These Mormons, some who swear and drink beer, are the latest collateral damage in the Mexican government’s U.S.-backed war against criminal organizations.

Here in Chihuahua, the border state south of Texas and New Mexico, conditions are rapidly deteriorating. The violence has left more than 1,000 dead in Ciudad Juarez this year, even though the government has sent 10,000 troops and police officers into the city.

Increasingly the violence is moving from the big cities into the small, usually placid farm towns of the rugged desert mountains. Criminal bands have ambushed the governor’s convoy along the highway, and they have assassinated local police at stop lights and political leaders at will. Gunmen executed the mayor of Namiquipa last week.

“The northeast of Chihuahua is now a zone of devastation,” said Victor Quintana, a state lawmaker, who reports an exodus of business people fleeing kidnappers and farmers refusing to plant their crops because of extortion.

The columnist Alberto Aziz Nassif wrote in El Universal newspaper, “Chihuahua today is the emblem of a failed state, run by incompetent authorities who have little ability to protect the citizens.”

Many of the Mormons have fled north to the United States, and Julian LeBaron said he fears for his life. He has reason. In Ciudad Juarez, a three-hour drive to the north, hand-painted banners were hung from overpasses last week threatening the extended clan.

“All we want to do is live in peace. We want nothing to do with the drug cartels. They can’t be stopped. What we want is just to protect ourselves from being kidnapped and killed,” said Marco LeBaron, a college student who came home for the funeral of his brother, the slain anti-crime activist. Marco LeBaron is one of 70 Mormons who have volunteered to join a rural police force to protect the town. The Mexican government has given them permission to arm themselves.

For all the violence swirling around them, the Mormons have mostly stayed out of the fight. Their ancestors first settled in Mexico in the 1880s, during the reign of dictator Porfirio Diaz, who offered the religious outcasts refuge from the harassment and prosecution they faced in the United States for their polygamist lifestyles. Some men in Colonia LeBaron and surrounding towns continue to follow what early Mormon prophets called “the Principle,” marrying multiple wives and having dozens of children, though the custom here is fading. Polygamy was banned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the official Mormon Church, in 1890.

The Mormon community based in Colonia LeBaron, numbering about 1,000, has one motel, two grocery stores and lots of schools. There are no ATMs and no liquor sales. Many Mormons are conspicuous not only for their straw-colored hair and pale skin, but also for their new pickup trucks, large suburban-style homes with green front lawns, and big tracts of land for their pecans and cattle. They are wealthy, by the standards of their poor Mexican neighbors. Most of the Mormon men make their money working construction jobs in the United States; a young Mormon might work 10 years hanging drywall in Las Vegas before he has enough money to buy a plot of land to start his own pecan orchard here.

The Mormons were dragged into the drug fight on May 2, when 16-year-old Eric LeBaron and a younger brother were hauling a load of fence posts in their truck to their father’s ranch in the Sierra Madre. According to the family’s account, five armed men seized Eric and told his brother to run home and tell his father to answer the telephone. When the kidnappers called, they told Joel LeBaron that if he ever wanted to see Eric again, he must pay them $1 million.

The next day, 150 men gathered at the church house in Colonia LeBaron to debate what to do. They had no confidence in the local police. One of their members, Ariel Ray, the mayor of nearby Galeana, reminded them that someone had put an empty coffin in the bed of his pickup. Some men argued that they should hire professional bounty hunters from the United States to get Eric back. Others wanted to form a posse.

“But we knew the last thing we could do was give them the money, or we would be invaded by this scum,” Julian LeBaron said.

Another brother, Craig LeBaron, told the Deseret News in Salt Lake City: “If you give them a cookie, they’ll want a glass of milk. If we don’t make a stand here, it’s only a matter of time before it’s my kid.”

A caravan of hundreds of the LeBaron Mormons, along with Mennonites and others, went to the state capital to protest the crime. This kind of public advocacy is almost unheard of among the Mexican Mormons, who keep to themselves. Led by Benjamin LeBaron, the protesters met with the governor and state attorney general, who quickly dispatched helicopters, police and soldiers to the area. The government forces erected roadblocks and searched the countryside.

Eric LeBaron was freed eight days after his abduction. His kidnappers simply told him to go home. But soon after, another member of the community, Meredith Romney, a 72-year-old bishop related to former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, was taken captive. The state governor sent Colombian security consultants to LeBaron. The Mormons, led by an increasingly public and outspoken Benjamin LeBaron, formed a group called SOS Chihuahua to organize citizens to defend themselves, report crimes and demand results from authorities. LeBaron was featured prominently in the local media. He gave a speech to a graduating class of police cadets. He staged rallies. He got noticed.

Early on July 7, four trucks loaded with men passed through a highway tollbooth, where they were recorded on videotape outside Galeana, where Benjamin LeBaron lived in a sprawling, new stucco home with his wife and five young children. Two trucks stopped at the cemetery outside town and waited. Two pickup trucks filled with 15 to 20 heavily armed men, wearing helmets, bulletproof vests and blue uniforms, came for LeBaron.

They smashed in his home’s windows and shouted for him to open the door, as his terrified children cried inside, according to an account given by his brothers. LeBaron’s brother-in-law Luis Widmar, 29, who lived across the street, heard the commotion and ran to his aid. Both men were beaten by the gunmen, who threatened to rape LeBaron’s wife in front of her children unless the men revealed where LeBaron kept his arsenal of weapons.

“But he didn’t have any, because I promise you, if he did, he would have used them to protect his family,” Julian LeBaron said.

LeBaron and Widmar were shot in the head outside town. A banner was hung beside their bodies that blamed them for the arrest of 25 gunmen who were seized in June after terrorizing the town of Nicolas Bravo, where they burned down buildings and extorted from business owners. According to Mexican law enforcement officials, the gunmen are members of the Sinaloa drug cartel, which is fighting the Juarez cartel for billion-dollar cocaine-smuggling routes into El Paso.

After the men killed LeBaron and Widmar, a video camera captured their departure at the highway tollbooth – the make, model and year of their vehicles and the license numbers, according to family members. There have been no arrests.

Who killed Benji LeBaron – and why? These questions are difficult to answer in Mexico’s drug war, and the unknowns fuel the fear of those left in Colonia LeBaron.

The state attorney general, Patricia Gonzalez, blamed the group La Linea, the Line, the armed enforcement wing of former police officers and gunmen that works for the Juarez cartel. A few months ago, Gonzalez said La Linea was an exhausted remnant of dead-enders whose ranks had been decimated by infighting and arrests.

After Gonzalez said the Juarez cartel was responsible for the killings, banners appeared in Ciudad Juarez that read: “Mrs. Prosecutor, avoid problems for yourself, and don’t blame La Linea.” The message stated that the LeBaron killings were the work of the Sinaloa cartel. On Wednesday, another banner was hung from an overpass, suggesting that Benji LeBaron was a thief: “Ask yourself where did all his properties come from?”

At the LeBaron funeral, attended by more than 2,000 people, including the Chihuahua state governor and attorney general, Benji’s uncle Adrian LeBaron said, “The men who murdered them have no children, no parents, no mother. They are the spawn of evil.”

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Well when we think of a Mormon selling drugs, it makes us giggle:D

A man was kidnapped, force-fed beer and then abandoned on a Utah roadside in a possible case of mistaken identity, police say.

The victim — whose name and age were not available — was found by a passer-by walking across Legacy Highway near Centerville at about 9 a.m. Saturday, the Deseret News reported.

The man said he had been kidnapped roughly three hours earlier, according to Salt Lake Police Sgt. Dennis McGowan.

The victim, who was not seriously injured, told police he parked his car near his home when two Spanish-speaking men dragged him out into the driveway, the newspaper reported.

He was then allegedly thrown into their red pickup truck, where he claims the men pulled a bag over his head, bound his hands and feet with a wire coat hanger and put a gun to his stomach.

“They told him this was their area and that he can’t sell drugs here,” McGowan told the Deseret News.

McGowan told the paper the kidnappers force-fed the man two cans of beer prior to throwing him out of the truck, probably in an attempt to pass him off as a drunk who concocted the abduction story.

Two empty beer cans and a mangled wire hanger found on the side of the highway seemed to confirm the victim’s account, McGowan told the Deseret News.

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Oh and we are so not surprised. When Latter Day Saints took on the gays, we vowed revenge, and when you bite the gays the gays don’t just bite back, we bite and remove a chunk or flesh.

After the passing of proposition 8 in California, the Mormons were subjected to scrutiny, and rightly so because their Tax Exempt status was at risk, and if you thought it was at risk before…now its REALLY at risk.

(San Francisco, California) Six weeks into an investigation by California’s Fair Political Practices Commission, the Church of Latter-Day Saints has admitted that it spent nearly $188,000 more on the campaign to approve Proposition 8 that it had initially stated.

The Mormon Church previously insisted that it spent only $2,078 to support the ban on same-sex marriage, something LGBT leaders said was implausible in light of a number of visits to California by high ranking church officials, ads allegedly produced with church funds and the large number of church staffers working on the campaign.

In November, Californians Against Hate filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission accusing the church of failing to report the value of work it did to support Prop 8.

An investigation began in late November.

In a new filing with the state, the church now admits that among other expenses were $96,849 for “compensated staff time” for church employees who worked on the campaign, $20,575 for the use of facilities and equipment at its Salt Lake City headquarters, $26,000 for audio-visual production and travel expenses for church leaders to go to California.

“This is exactly what we were talking about when we filed the suit,” Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate told the San Francisco Chronicle.

The Church put an estimated $25 million into the battle to end gay marriage in California.

If the Commission finds the Church broke state election laws it could be fined up to $5,000 per violation. The Commission also could file an additional civil lawsuit.

There have been protests at Mormon churches in California and Utah. In Utah, a number of churches were vandalized and hoax mailings containing a white powder were sent to Church leaders in Salt Lake City. No group has claimed responsibility, but some LDS officials have accused gays.

Later this year, the California Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case seeking to nullify Proposition 8, which overruled the court’s decision in May legalizing gay marriage.

Last week in a separate case, a federal judge has denied a request by supporters of Prop 8 to keep secret the names of donors. The group behind the measure said public disclosure of their financial supporters put the donors at risk of personal harassment or boycotts to their businesses.

In denying the motion, the judge said the public had a right to know who gave money to state ballot measures.

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Legislation that would allow same-sex couples to sue for wrongful death damages has been defeated in a state senate committee. It was the first of six LGBT bills filed in the legislature this session.

I mean, COME THE FUCK ON! Why did they even TRY?! If you are gay and live in Utah, get the hell out of that shithole, as far as i’m concerned, your state doesn’t run your state, the Mormons do.

The committee room was packed as senators took up the death damages bill.

It would have allowed any two people who live together and are mutually dependent and are named in a will or trust access to a wrongful death court action if tragedy occurs.

In addition to same-sex couples, the legislation would have applied to siblings or other family members.

But two senators who voted against the measure said they were concerned that approving it would be a move toward legalizing gay marriage. Utah has a so-called Defense of Marriage Act, and in 2004 the state constitution was amended to bar same-sex marriage.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. Scott McCoy (D) disputed the concerns.

“It doesn’t single anyone out based on a cohabiting relationship or a sexual relationship. It doesn’t matter the gender, rather it’s the economic relationship,” he said.

The defeat of the measure does not bode well for the other five measures – including health care, a clarification of the marriage ban, a partner registry, and a bill to include gays in job and housing protections.

Nevertheless, McCoy said he will press ahead with the bills.

Earlier this month, a poll commissioned by Equality Utah found that 63 percent support gay legal protections including some rights for same-sex couples.

The survey found that 62 percent believe it should be illegal to fire someone for being gay and 57 percent said it should be illegal to deny housing to someone for being gay.

On the issue of partner rights, 73 percent said they would support health insurance coverage for a partner or other designated adult for state employees. Utahans however are not ready for same-sex marriage.  Only 20 percent said they supported gay marriage.

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It has been over 2 months since Proposition 8 passed in California, amending the states constitution to allow only straight couples to marry, and people are still bitter. I am still bitter.

The gay community is blaming religious organizations and churches for the passing of prop 8, which it completely accurate, the one group of people that have been spared the blame is the No On 8 Executive Committee.

I know they tried their best, but they have to accept some of the blame, where were the protests BEFORE the elections? Why did they not push for more hard hitting TV commercials?

Late yesterday, gay rights activist and blogger Michael Petrelis accomplished the seemingly impossible–he found and published the 16 “principal officers” of the “No on 8” campaign’s executive committee. If you think that kind of information would have been easily available, you are very, very wrong. As Petrelis writes in his post, “It’s easier to locate the names of the Chinese politburo than the names of the ruling body of No on 8.”

Indeed. Despite the fact that the executive committee spent over $40 million of donations from the general public to defeat Proposition 8, and despite the fact that they were fighting a battle to maintain the legal right for gays and lesbians from anywhere in the world to marry in California, the leaders of the “No on 8” campaign have consistently refused to name its 16 principal officers.

Going back to October, I first asked for a list of names and no one at the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center or Equality California — two of the main organizations involved in the “No on 8” campaign — could “remember” who sat on the executive committee or its sub-committees. Petrelis started his quest even earlier, requesting information in September.

I never understood the reason for the secrecy, and no one gave me a good explanation for it. But whenever people in power are hiding basic information about who’s running the show, it’s usually because they don’t want to be blamed for one thing or another. In this case, the “No on 8” executive committee probably didn’t want to take the fall for the debacle that happened on November 4, 2008, when a slim majority of voters in California passed Proposition 8.

(Side Note: I always found it curious that Lorri Jean, one of the members of the executive committee, was incredibly quick to divert all attention away from the failures of the “No on 8” campaign — which were many — and point the finger at the Mormon church. Jean, if you remember, first started the Mormon backlash on Wednesday, November 5 at a rally in West Hollywood, whipping people up and announcing a demonstration at the Los Angeles Mormon Temple on Thursday, November 6. She continued with her anti-Mormon rant for the next several days whenever she could grab a microphone. Then Jean skipped town for several weeks, and returned from vacation this month, according to press reports.)

Anyhow, here are the people who spent your political contributions and led the losing cause to defeat Proposition 8, which is now costing more money to repeal and has caused a ripple effect throughout the country where politicians in such places as New York and Minnesota have stalled pro-gay marriage legislation.

“No on 8” Executive Committee, Principal Officers:

Geoff Kors, executive director, Equality California;
Lorri Jean, chief executive officer, Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center;
Kate Kendell, executive director, National Center for Lesbian Rights;
Michael Fleming, executive director, David Bohnett Foundation;
Marty Rouse, national field director, Human Rights Campaign;
Heather Carrigan, ACLU of Southern California;
Oscar De La O, Beinestar Human Services in Los Angeles;
Sue Dunlop, Los Angeles;
Maya Harris, ACLU of Northern California;
Don Howes, Los Angeles;
Dennis Herrera, City Attorney of San Francisco;
Dr. Delores Jacobs, chief executive officer, San Diego LGBT Community Center;
Joyce Newstadt, San Francisco;
Tawal Panyacosit, director, Asian and Pacific Islander Equality in San Francisco;
Rashid Robinson, Los Angeles;
Kevin Tilden, communications/political consultant, San Diego;
and “No on 8” treasurer, Steve Mele, founder of ML Associates in West Hollywood.

Equality California will be hosting an “Equality Summit” in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 24, but it’s not open to the general public and the organization has set certain rules for how journalists can cover the event. Many of the “No on 8” leaders will no doubt be in attendance.

(Update: Equality California has recently lifted all restrictions on the press covering the Equality Summit.)

I was hesitant about posting their names, but, their names have already been posted on one website already.

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California’s Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) confirmed Monday that it will investigate allegations that the LDS Church failed to report nonmonetary contributions to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign.

An independent nonprofit organization, Californians Against Hate, called for the investigation after the measure passed earlier this month, effectively ending same-sex marriages in that state.

“They read my letter and I guess came to the conclusion that there’s something worth looking into,” said Fred Karger, who heads Californians Against Hate, which was formed to track donations in support of the ballot initiative. “I’m hopeful that the LDS Church will cooperate and share all the records and all the information they have about their activities in the Proposition 8 campaign.”

Karger, a retired political consultant, alleged in his complaint that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints failed to report money invested to organize phone banks, send out direct mailers, provide transportation to California, mobilize a speakers bureau, send out satellite simulcasts and develop Web sites as well as numerous commercials and video broadcasts….

Karger, however, sees the fact that FPPC is moving forward as a good sign. He said his political attorney told him the commission looks into fewer than 5 percent of complaints, an indication in his mind that “when they do it, it’s pretty serious.”

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There are about 770,000 members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in California, according to the most recent statistics published in its 2007-2008 Almanac. These LDS Church members account for about 2% of California’s population. In a letter dated June 29, 2008, Mormon leaders in Salt Lake City called for church members to work hard to pass Proposition 8 in California. Proposition 8 is a proposed Constitutional Amendment that would change the state constitution to define marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Many, if not most, Mormons have responded to the church leaders’ request for assistance on this matter by actively campaigning for and donating to protectmarriage.com. All donations of $1,000 or more are reported daily to the California Secretary of State. Smaller donations are reported less often.

How much money have LDS donors provided to this campaign? That is what this website is all about. Can a small stone make a big ripple as it rolls forth? Are Mormon contributors a significant source of money and manpower in this election?

Click here to see a complete list of donors of amounts over $1,000 to Proposition 8
and to identify LDS donors.  The list is current to November 10, 2008.

(Be patient– it’s a large spreadsheet and takes awhile to load.)

The California Secretary of State’s office maintains a database of donors to political causes within the state. That database is online and searchable at the Secretary of State’s website. That database is updated almost daily currently.

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