Redface movie: the lone ranger flopped

The minions of Despicable Me 2 ran away with the Independence Day weekend box office, leaving the Johnny Depp Western The Lone Ranger in the dust.

According to studio estimates Sunday, the Universal animated sequel took in $82.5-million over the weekend and $142.1-million across the five-day holiday window. Gore Verbinski’s reimagining of the iconic lawman bombed for the Walt Disney Co., opening with just US$29.4-million over the weekend, and a disappointing $48.9-million since Wednesday.


The trouncing for Disney was especially painful because of the high cost of The Lone Ranger, which reportedly cost at least $225 million to make. Made by the same team that created the lucrative Disney franchise Pirates of the Caribbean (the four film series that grossed US$3.7-billion worldwide) the Western drew bad reviews and failed to capture the attention of younger moviegoers.

‘Not Even Human’ How Canadian Govt. Abused Aboriginal Children in TB Experiments


While aboriginal children died of tuberculosis in the 1930s and 1940s,  Canadian health officials tried out experimental vaccines on infants rather than  ameliorate the conditions of poverty that sparked that and a host of other  illnesses.

These revelations, while not new, have re-emerged in the wake of the  discovery that nutritional experiments were conducted on First Nations children  in the 1940s.

As with the nutritional experiments, the TB vaccine research capitalized on  the poverty of its subjects to conduct studies rather than address the  underlying factors leading to the high incidence of the lung infection, says a  report by the Aboriginal  Peoples Television Network (APTN).

“It is pretty depressing. It is just document after document. They treated  these people like they were not even human,” said Maureen Lux, a professor at  Brock University who is writing a book about the treatment of indigenous people  in TB sanitoriums, in an interview with the network. “It is definitely the  hardest thing I have ever done.”

In the interview posted by APTN on July 24, Lux discussed the findings she  had first published in a 1998 paper on the vaccine trials, which she is  expanding into the book due out next year.

“Historians have been reluctant to question medical care because we are  enthralled with the power of medicine,” she told APTN. “Once I started looking  at what was going and how they were operated and in whose interest, it becomes a  fairly dark story.”

In studying aboriginal people and the medical system, Lux examined reserve  conditions in southern Saskatchewan, in the Qu’Appelle region, during the early  20th century.

In expanding her paper on the treatment of indigenous people in sanatoriums,  she found that a federal program that ran from 1930 to 1932 had cut the  tuberculosis rate in half by improving housing conditions, drilling wells to  access better-quality water, and enhancing nutrition for children and pregnant  women. Lux’s paper, “Perfect Subjects: Race Tuberculosis and the Qu’Appelle BCG  Vaccine Trial,” detailed these findings, as well as the fact that the government  had chosen to ignore this solution and seek the cheaper method of simply  vaccinating babies against the disease, APTN reported.

“The general death rate and the infant mortality rate both also fell. Thus,  before the BCG vaccine trials were begun, the tuberculosis death rate had been  reduced by half by marginal improvements in living conditions, and especially by  segregating those with active tuberculosis,” wrote Lux, according to APTN.

Although the vaccine ultimately was proven to work—and is still in use  today—children died of gastroenteritis and pneumonia during the study period,  Lux wrote. Although some medical professionals expressed misgivings about the  ethics of such studies, they continued.

“Between October 1933 and 1945, a total of 609 infants were involved in the  tests—half given the vaccine, half not,” the Canadian  Press reported. “Results were clear: nearly five times as many cases of  TB among the non-vaccinated children. But the real lesson from the tests was the  connection between dire living conditions and overall health.”

The report went on to elaborate.

“Of the 609 children in the tests, 77 were dead before their first birthday,  only four of them from TB,” the Canadian Press wrote. “Both vaccinated and  unvaccinated groups had at least twice the non-tuberculosis death rate as the  general population.”

This would seem especially cruel in light of the TB scourge that persists  today, especially in Inuit communities.

But the experiments didn’t stop there, Lux told APTN. The TB antibiotic  streptomycin was administered to First Nations patients in other trials at  Charles Camsell hospital in Edmonton, which has since closed down. In addition,  Lux told APTN, doctors surgically removed TB from indigenous patients up until  the 1950s and 1960s, long after the practice had been discontinued in the  non-indigenous population.

“Do we interpret that surgeons and medical directors thought they were doing  right and never questioning the assumption that these people were going to  actually spread TB when they actually weren’t?” Lux told APTN. “They could do it  and they did it and that is as shocking as any kind of experiment.”


Canadian Govt. Watched Kids Starve Like Lab Rats for ‘Science’

Even as brave soldiers, some of them aboriginal, fought to defeat the Nazis  and their notion of a master race during WW2, Canadian health authorities back  on the home front were busy using aboriginal kids as nutritional guinea  pigs.

“It was experiments being conducted on malnourished aboriginal people,” food  historian Ian Mosby revealed in an interview with CBC’s As  It Happens radio show on Tuesday July 16. “It started with research trips  in northern Manitoba where they found, you know, widespread hunger, if not  starvation, among certain members of the community. And one of their immediate  responses was to design a controlled experiment on the effectiveness of vitamin  supplementation on this population.”

As the U.S. absorbs revelations of forced sterilization among female inmates  in California, the news from up north is resonating across Canada.

Mosby, who is earning his PhD in history at the University of Guelph, said  the research—which occurred without the subjects’ knowledge—was undertaken in  residential schools and remote aboriginal communities in Manitoba during and  just after World War II. He also uncovered plans for similar research in  residential schools in British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Alberta. About  1,300 aboriginal children were used in the experiments, the Canadian  Press reported.

The experiments were conducted beginning in 1942, when authorities visiting  remote northern communities in Manitoba found widespread malnutrition. Rather  than assist them, the authorities decided to conduct vitamin research, Mosby  said.

Mosby told the Canadian Press that he was not looking for anything like this.  He was merely researching health policy. But something struck him as strange, he  said.

“I started to find vague references to studies conducted on ‘Indians’ that  piqued my interest and seemed potentially problematic, to say the least,” he  said to the Canadian Press. “I went on a search to find out what was going  on.”

What he found disturbed him greatly. “It’s an emotionally difficult topic to  study,” he said.

According to the Canadian Press account, 300 children in Norway House Cree  were the first subjects, with 125 receiving vitamin supplements and the rest  left to their bodies’ own devices. Even those receiving the supplements were not  getting all they needed, Mosby wrote, because people were not getting enough  food—they were living on fewer than 1,500 calories daily rather than the adult  need of 2,000.

“The research team was well aware that these vitamin supplements only  addressed a small part of the problem,” Mosby wrote, according to the Canadian  Press. “The experiment seems to have been driven, at least in part, by the  nutrition experts’ desire to test their theories on a ready-made ‘laboratory’  populated with already malnourished human experimental subjects.”

This did not stop the research from spreading, with plans developed in 1947  to conduct similar experiments on 1,000 children in six residential schools in  Port Alberni, British Columbia, Kenora, Ontario, Schubenacadie, Nova Scotia and  Lethbridge, Alberta, the Canadian Press reported.

The Canadian government seemed caught off-guard by the revelations.

“If this is story is true, this is abhorrent and completely unacceptable,”  said a spokesperson for Bernard Valcourt, the minister of Aboriginal Affairs and  Northern Development, via e-mail late Tuesday to the Canadian Press. “When Prime  Minister [Stephen] Harper made a historic apology to former students of Indian  Residential Schools in 2008 on behalf of all Canadians, he recognized that this  period had caused great harm and had no place in Canada. Our Government remains  committed to a fair and lasting resolution to the legacy of the Indian  Residential Schools.”

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the June 8, 2008 official apology  delivered to residential school survivors by Harper on behalf of the Canadian  government. During the 150-year-long residential schools era, 150,000 aboriginal  students were ripped from their families, virtually interred in mostly  church-run boarding schools far from home, and forbidden to use their language  and culture.

First Nations advocates are already calling for government action. Wab Kinew,  who is the director of indigenous inclusion at the University of Winnipeg, said  the federal government should turn all that research over to the Truth and  Reconciliation Commission, which is compiling a history of the residential  school era, which ended in the 1990s.

“This is a reminder of a disgusting period in both Canadian and scientific  history when indigenous people and other non-whites were regarded as inferior,”  he told the Winnipeg  Free Press. “The end goal of course is to make sure things like this  never happen again.”


Willamette University Fraternity Sigma Chi Booted Off Campus Following Facebook Controversy



A fraternity at Willamette University in Salem, Ore., has lost its house as a result of controversial and sexist comments, made on a private Facebook page, that were leaked in May.

David Douglass, dean of campus life at Willamette, announced Thursday a series of sanctions imposed on the Sigma Chi fraternity, including booting everyone from the chapter house. The fraternity also cannot hold social events over the next year and is not allowed to recruit or initiate new members. All current members must participate in programming endorsed by Willamette and “related to healthy masculinity.”

The controversy surfaced in May when a WordPress site called  “willamettetruth” posted screenshots from a private Facebook group, showing Sigma Chi members mocking administrators, making sexist comments and discussing hazing. Sigma Chi brothers complained about members being “unsocial,” requesting brothers “invite any girl who has a pulse” to their house parties, and stated “woman’s [sic] rights are the biggest joke in the US. Bitches ain’t shit.” (The screenshots have since been removed from the website.)

The fraternity voted last week to expel 12 of its members as a result of the Facebook posts, the Statesman Journal reports.

The university, along with the fraternity’s national organization, promptly began investigating Sigma Chi chapter following the leak. Douglass said the university’s “review began with, but was not limited to, behavior described” in the Facebook posts.

“We completely support what the school has done,” Sigma Chi national executive director Mike Dunn told the Statesman Journal.

Conduct reviews for individual students will begin in the fall, which could result in additional punishments.

Douglass said, “The issues raised last spring went well beyond the specific actions of one fraternity,” and he will unveil recommendations in August from the President’s Working Group on Sexual Assault and Harassment. The group was tasked with reviewing sexual assault prevention efforts and response policies and procedures.

The Sigma Chi Facebook controversy, and the sexist remarks made by frat brothers, sparked a debate on campus about the response to sexual violence at the school.

KTVU producers fired over Asiana pilots’ fake names



KTVU-TV has dismissed at least three veteran producers over the on-air gaffe involving the fake names of those Asiana airline pilots that became an instant YouTube hit – and a major embarrassment to the station.

Station sources confirmed late Wednesday that investigative producer Roland DeWolk, special projects producer Cristina Gastelu and producer Brad Belstock were all sent packing following an in-house investigation into the July 12 broadcast of four fake names of the pilots involved in the Asiana Flight 214 crash at San Francisco International Airport on July 6.

A fourth – noon news producer Elvin Sledge – told colleagues he was leaving for health reasons.

News of the firings was first reported on Rich Lieberman‘s 415 Media blog.

During its noon newscast on July 12, anchor Tori Campbell announced that “KTVU has just learned the names of the four pilots who were on board” the ill-fated plane – then proceeded to read from a teleprompter while the phony names were displayed on a graphic.

The names she gave were Capt. Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, Ho Lee Fuk and Bang Ding Ow.

Only after the station returned from a break did Campbell – who had clearly been unaware of the mistake – read an on-air correction, telling viewers that the station had confirmed the names with the National Transportation Safety Board.

By day’s end, the NTSB issued its own apology for “inaccurate and offensive names that were mistakenly confirmed” to KTVU. Soon after, the NTSB announced that it had fired a summer intern over the incident.

During the evening newscast, anchor Frank Somerville also apologized to viewers, and the station vowed to review its own policies. It has kept largely mum since.

Two days ago, blogs began posting that Cox Communications, KTVU’s parent company, had sent copyright infringement notices to YouTube – demanding that the offensive video of Campbell’s newscast be removed.

In a statement that appeared on, KTVU General Manager Tom Raponi said the move was made out of consideration for the Asian American community. “Consistent with our apology, we are carrying through with our responsibility to minimize the thoughtless repetition of the video by others,” he said in the statement.

Raponi added, “Most people have seen it,” and that “continuing to show the video is also insensitive and offensive, especially to the many in our Asian community.”

Sources tell us the fake names – which had been posted on the Internet at least two days before – came to the station via e-mail from an expert source who had provided information to the station in the past.

KTVU News Director Lee Rosenthal called newsroom staff into a conference room Wednesday and informed them of the dismissals.

Rosenthal did not return our calls late Wednesday seeking comment.

Colleagues said they were saddened, but not completely surprised by the dismissals given the international attention the gaffe got, including a threat – later dropped – by Asiana to sue to the station.

“People are definitely down about it,” one source said.

Randy Shandobil, former KTVU political editor who left the station 2 1/2 years ago, because “people were working harder and harder and feeling less secure about what was hitting the air,” said Wednesday the episode was emblematic of the pressure news reporters everywhere are under to get information out as quickly as possible.

At Channel 2 and elsewhere, “People are overtaxed and have more responsibility sometimes than they can handle. And sometimes, in situations like this, terrible mistakes happen that are bigger than one person. It’s systemic.”

Imposing Islam: Denmark hospital gives only halal meat to patients

Hvidovre Hospital has introduced halal meat to its menu for the sake of Muslim patients. The hospital’s decision to serve only halal-slaughtered beef to all of its patients is being met with criticism.

“We have freedom of religion in Denmark,” said Mehmet Ümit Necef, an integration expert and associate professor at the University of Southern Denmark. “This policy implies that one’s religious beliefs should be prioritised.”

Hvidovre Hospital’s vice president, Torben Mogensen, said it is impossible for the hospital to use both kinds of beef and that they have received no complaints from patients. – Ekstra Bladet



Pamela Geller to testify next month re: Toronto police intimidation

Pamela Geller writes:

Remember the sharia cop in Canada who strong-armed a rabbi into cancelling my talk at his shul? You didn’t think I was going to just let it go, did you? Inspector Ricky Veerappan of the York Regional Police force’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Bureau, is currently under investigation for threatening Chabad Rabbi Mendel Kaplan into canceling my speech. I will be giving testimony the second week of August.


One day Muslims will be the majority in Canada, prophesied Calgary Imam







Suicide by Cop? Teen shot on streetcar to cop: ‘You’re a f—ing pussy’

TORONTO – The abundantly available video evidence is as disturbing to listen to as it is to watch.

But you know it will be by a lot people.

“You’re a f—ing pussy.” These are believed to be the final words of 18-year-old Sammy Yatim as he was shot from the gun of at least one Toronto Police officer.

“Drop the knife” may have been the very last words he heard before being shot to death.

These are just some of many revelations on a new video taken by downtown resident Markus Grupp, who was walking by when the incident occurred on Dundas St. W. and Grace St. just after midnight Saturday.—ing-pussy

Notre Dame professor tackles ‘myth’ of Christian martyrdom




Candida Moss, a professor of early Christianity at the University of Notre Dame and a practicing Catholic, wants to shatter what she calls the “myth” of martyrdom in the Christian faith.


Sunday school tales of early Christians being rounded up at their secret catacomb meetings and thrown to the lions by evil Romans are mere fairy tales, Moss writes in a new book. In fact, in the first 250 years of Christianity, Romans mostly regarded the religion’s practitioners as meddlesome members of a superstitious cult.

The government actively persecuted Christians for only about 10 years, Moss suggests, and even then intermittently. And, she says, many of the best known early stories of brave Christian martyrs were entirely fabricated.

The controversial thesis, laid out in “The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom,” has earned her a lot of hate mail and a few sidelong looks from fellow faculty members. But Moss maintains that the Roman Catholic Church and historians have known for centuries that most early Christian martyr stories were exaggerated or invented.

A small group of priest scholars in the 17th century began sifting through the myths, discrediting not only embellished stories about saints (including that St. George slew a dragon) but also tossing out popular stories about early Christian martyrs.

Historians, including Moss, say only a handful of martyrdom stories from the first 300 years of Christianity—which includes the reign of the cruel, Christian-loathing Nero—are verifiable. (Saint Perpetua of Carthage, pictured in the stained glass window above, is one of the six famous early Christian martyrs Moss believes was actually killed for her faith.)

Moss contends that when Christians were executed, it was often not because of their religious beliefs but because they wouldn’t follow Roman rules. Many laws that led to early Christians’ execution were not specifically targeted at them—such as a law requiring all Roman citizens to engage in a public sacrifice to the gods—but their refusal to observe those laws and other mores of Roman society led to their deaths.

Moss calls early Christians “rude, subversive and disrespectful,” noting that they refused to swear oaths, join the military or participate in any other part of Roman society.

Moss can at times seem clinical when attempting to distinguish between true and systematic persecution of Christians for their faith and intermittent violence against them for refusing to conform.

“If persecution is to be defined as hostility toward a group because of its religious beliefs, then surely it is important that the Romans intended to target Christians,” she writes. “Otherwise this is prosecution, not persecution.”

With true government persecution, victims have no room to negotiate when trying to convince the government to stop targeting them, Moss said. But when the government’s laws inadvertently lead to the persecution of Christians, there remains room for dialogue and debate over changing those laws.

“The reason I make the distinction is in the case of people seeking you out, torturing you just because you’re Christian—which did happen for a few years—in that situation, you can’t negotiate,” she said. “You have no opportunity to resist or to fight back. In a situation where there’s sort of disagreements … there’s room for debate.”

Moss pointed to the new U.S. health care law’s requirement that insurance companies cover contraception as an example of a law that inadvertently targeted Christians but was interpreted as a direct attack on the faith.

Much like the Emperor Diocletian’s edict that all Romans make a sacrifice to the gods (which Moss describes as being like a mandatory “pledge of allegiance”), the contraceptive mandate was not designed to target or single out Christians, she says. (Christians and others who refused to make the sacrifice in the fourth century were slaughtered. Christian organizations that do not want to provide contraception under the 21st century law will be fined.)

Notre Dame is one dozens of religiously affiliated universities that sued over the birth control mandate, saying providing its employees and students with health insurance that covered contraceptives would violate the university’s religious freedom.

Some in the religious community framed the contraceptive mandate as a deliberate persecution of Christians, rather than as bad policy, Moss says, in a way that’s made it difficult for them to negotiate.

“Labeling it persecution is saying, ‘We’re under attack, we’re persecuted. The other side has no reason to do this and we have to fight. We shouldn’t have to negotiate or compromise,” she said.

Moss says she is personally against her university’s decision to sue over the mandate.

“I think that the University of Notre Dame does not control how I spend my salary, therefore controlling what kinds of health care people have access to is maybe something we should not be trying to do,” she said. “I think Catholic institutions should trust their employees not to use contraception.”

Moss said the early Christian “persecution complex” influences the present-day political debate in America. The cable news hobbyhorse that there’s a deliberate “War on Christmas” in America is one example of a modern day martyrdom myth, she said.

When former House Speaker Newt Gingrich argued during his campaign for the GOP presidential nomination last year that there was an “aggressive” war on Christianity waged throughout the country, Moss also heard echoes of apocryphal martyrdom.

Moss says she thinks dispelling the myths of martyrdom of the early church will not minimize the true instances of religious persecution occurring around the world.

“I completely sympathize with [my critics’] concern that in writing a book like this maybe I will make people less interested in persecution that is happening around the world,” she said. “I do care. I think we should care about those who are oppressed. I don’t think misusing the category here in America draws attention to persecution around the world. I think it cannibalizes those experiences. It steals their thunder.”

Kegs, hazing, and now possibly tax breaks – fraternities make their mark on congress

psychopathic and cultic and greedy college fraternities and sororities calling for tax dollars and tax breaks



About 40 per cent of US senators, and 25 per cent of US representatives,  belonged to fraternities or sororities in college. On April 24, more than a  dozen of these grateful alumni extolled Greek life at an annual $500-a-plate  dinner in a Washington hotel ballroom for “FratPAC,” the industry’s political  arm.

One by one, they took the podium and praised fraternities for teaching them  loyalty, leadership, and practical skills.

“We learned to tap a keg,” declared Representative Steven Palazzo, a Mississippi  Republican and Sigma Chi brother, who then yelled a cheer as hundreds of FratPAC  donors applauded.

Many of the legislators also pledged support for FratPAC’s pet legislation: a  multi-million-dollar tax break to let fraternities and sororities use charitable  donations to renovate and help build chapter houses.

“This time, we think we can get it done,” said Ohio Republican Steve Stivers,  a Delta Upsilon alumnus, adding, “We need more Greeks in Congress.”

While fraternities used to limit their political activity to fending off  potential threats, they’re “playing offence today” by promoting initiatives such  as the tax break, FratPAC and two companion groups told fraternity leaders in a  January 10, 2011, memo.

Besides pushing the tax bill, FratPAC, as the Fraternity and Sorority  Political Action Committee calls itself on its Twitter page, has helped dissuade  US Representative Frederica Wilson from filing federal anti-hazing legislation.  Ms Wilson, a Democrat, is co-sponsoring the tax proposal with six senators and  more than 50 other representatives.

Debbie Smith, whose 21-year-old son died in 2005 from heart failure and  seizures after a hazing ritual, is “dumbfounded” by the industry’s lobbying for  a tax break and against national hazing penalties, she said.

Ms Smith’s son, Matthew Carrington, collapsed after being forced to do  push-ups in raw sewage while fans blasted cold air on him in a basement at Chi  Tau fraternity at California State University in Chico. After his death, her  advocacy spurred the California legislature to enact “Matt’s Law,” toughening  hazing penalties.

“Why do fraternities need government help?” Ms Smith asked. “They want to  build more houses for hazing? I don’t think so. They need to learn safety  first.”

Attracting undergraduates with aggressive recruiting and the prospect of jobs  at Wall Street firms and other fields dominated by Greek alumni, fraternities  are making a comeback on college campuses.

Meanwhile the toll from hazing and binge drinking is mounting. The 101  fraternities and sororities in the industry’s trade groups had 630,052 members  in 2012, up 25 per cent from 503,875 in 2007. Since 2005, 59 students have died  in incidents involving fraternities, about half of them alcohol-related,  according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Ten students died in 2012, the most  fatalities in at least a decade.

A 1996 fraternity house fire at the University of North Carolina that killed  five students spurred the industry’s drive for the tax break. They decided that  they needed a federal law to let them tap funds in their charitable foundations  to outfit chapter houses with fire sprinklers. About half of all fraternity  houses lack sprinklers, according to an internal industry memorandum reviewed by  Bloomberg News.

In 2003, the tax bill passed the House. Two years later, fraternities and  sororities established FratPAC, which has contributed $818,000 to political  campaigns, primarily to Republicans. It has made some of its largest  contributions to key backers of its tax initiative, and to members of the House  Ways and Means committee, where the bill is pending.

It has given $29,500 to Representative Paul Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice  presidential nominee and chairman of the House Budget Committee, and $24,500 to  Pete Sessions, chairman of the House Rules Committee. Mr Ryan, a member of Delta  Tau Delta at Miami University in Ohio, previously sponsored FratPAC’s tax- break  legislation. Mr Sessions, a long-time supporter of the bill, is now the  sponsor.

The bill improves housing for college students “so that they avoid problems  that we have seen across the country where there are electrical fires and  substandard housing,” Mr Sessions said in an interview. He added that he “served  proudly” as a member of Pi Kappa Alpha at Southwestern University in Georgetown,  Texas.

Mr Ryan declined to comment.

As a congressman from North Dakota and member of the Ways and Means  committee, Rick Berg co-sponsored the tax bill. FratPAC contributed $10,000 to  his 2012 campaign for the US Senate. He lost.

“The organisation is much more than their financial support,” said Mr Berg, a  member of the Farmhouse International Fraternity. “There’s a network there.”

Of the 81 House and Senate incumbents to whom FratPAC contributed in the last  election cycle, 54, or two-thirds, sponsored or co-sponsored the tax bill,  according to FratPAC. It also donated to 17 first-time candidates.

FratPAC doesn’t donate to candidates just because they support the tax break,  said Kevin O’Neill, a lobbyist at Washington-based Patton Boggs and FratPAC’s  executive director. He was a fundraiser for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign  in 2004 and ran unsuccessfully for Congress as a Republican in 2007.

It “looks at a variety of factors,” he said. “Good government needs more  fraternity-sorority alumni who can help us tackle the major challenges  confronting our nation.”

FratPAC is seeking to send more fraternity and sorority alumni to Congress.  Freshman Republicans Robert Pittenger, a member of Kappa Alpha Order and a  University of Texas graduate, and Brad Wenstrup, who joined Sigma Alpha Epsilon  at the University of Cincinnati, spoke at the ballroom dinner.

“We invest” in open Congressional seats, Mr O’Neill told the gathering.

FratPAC emphasises alumni ties in its lobbying, said former US Representative  Ron Klein, a Florida Democrat who received $5000 from the group in 2010. The  national fraternity groups that came to see him about the tax bill reminded him  that he had been president of the Alpha Epsilon Pi chapter at Ohio State  University, he said. He co-sponsored the legislation in 2009.

“The way they’re targeting is a logical way to do it,” Mr Klein said. “If you  happen to have been in a fraternity or sorority in college, and you lived in one  of these houses, they make it a health and safety issue.”

Another fraternity alumnus, former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott,  co-sponsored the bill in 2007. Mr Lott, who had been president of the Sigma Nu  chapter at the University of Mississippi, had such warm memories that he awarded  jobs and favours to fraternity brothers, according to Curtis Wilkie, author of  The Fall of the House of Zeus. Mr Lott, who resigned from the Senate in  December 2007, declined to comment.

Representative Palazzo, also a Mississippi Republican, is currently a  co-sponsor. He denies having made the keg reference.

The tax proposal has gained bi-partisan support. Last term, it had 169 House  sponsors and co-sponsors, including 105 Republicans and 64 Democrats, and 22  sponsors and co-sponsors in the Senate, including 15 Republicans and seven  Democrats. Formally known as the Collegiate Housing and Infrastructure Act, it  would cost taxpayers $148 million over 10 years, according to a 2007 estimate by  the Joint Committee on Taxation.

Under IRS interpretation of existing law, donations to fraternities’  charitable foundations may be used “to build or improve” libraries or computer  rooms within fraternity houses, not for sleeping or “recreational areas,” which  the Internal Revenue Service deems “incidental” to schooling.

The bill, which fraternity leaders say is endorsed by dozens of colleges,  would eliminate such restrictions by allowing fraternity and sorority  foundations to use tax-deductible gifts to “provide, improve, operate or  maintain” chapter housing. Fraternity foundations collectively held $534 million  in 2010. Other groups that provide housing to college students would also  benefit from the bill, its advocates say.

Donations are needed for fire sprinklers and other repairs, said Eve Riley,  former chairwoman of the National Panhellenic Conference, or NPC, an  Indianapolis-based group representing 26 sororities.

“They’re trying to get the houses up to code,” she said. “It’s not for  building houses.”

The tax benefit is primarily for “safety for students,” Cindy Stellhorn,  FratPAC’s president and an insurance executive, said in an interview.

The bill has other benefits for Greek institutions. It would probably  increase gifts to fraternity foundations, and help “leverage private funds” to  build new housing, according to the industry’s April 2011 lobbying guide.

Some colleges, such as Clemson University in South Carolina, have endorsed  the tax break. Clemson has a “robust Greek community,” said Katy Bayless, its  director of federal relations. Clemson has also hired O’Neill to lobby for  federal funding.

On June 8, 2011, Mr O’Neill and another Patton Boggs lobbyist met with a  staff member of the House Ways and Means Committee to explain the legislation,  according to a memorandum by FratPAC and two companion groups, the NPC and the  North American Interfraternity Conference. Fraternities and their allies said  they hope the bill will be part of comprehensive tax reform that Ways and Means  Chairman Dave Camp is promising.

“We’re hoping” it will pass this year, FratPAC president Stellhorn said. “We  had great receptions when we were on the Hill in April.”

Preceding the April 24 ballroom dinner, hundreds of undergraduate fraternity  and sorority members descended on Capitol Hill to lobby for the tax bill. Armed  with talking points, maps and schedules, they moved in small groups from one  lawmaker’s office to the next for meetings arranged by Mr O’Neill’s firm.

The conversations sometimes began with legislators reminiscing about their  own fraternity days. Some students posed with members of Congress for photos and  posted them on FratPAC’s Twitter page.

Mike Rodmaker, a student at the University of Cincinnati and president of its  Interfraternity Council, said he pitched the tax break to Senator Rob Portman,  an Ohio Republican, who wasn’t in a fraternity. Portman’s spokeswoman, Caitlin  Dunn, said he is reviewing the legislation.

“He was definitely receptive,” Mr Rodmaker said. “We’re the second-largest  landlord behind colleges and universities.”

Read more:–fraternities-make-their-mark-on-congress-20130726-2qo4k.html#ixzz2aO93M56R



further reading:  Paying for the Party: How college maintains inequality by Elizabeth A Armstrong and Laura T. Hamilton