Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Global carbon emissions at record high: IEA

Mon May 30, 8:40 am ET

PARIS (AFP) – Carbon-dioxide emissions hit a record high last year, the International Energy Agency said on Monday, dimming the prospects of limiting the global temperature increase to two degrees Celsius.

"Energy-related carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions in 2010 were the highest in history, according to the latest estimates," the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a statement.

After a dip in 2009 caused by the global financial crisis, emissions are estimated to have climbed to a record 30.6 gigatonnes (Gt), a five percent jump from the previous record year in 2008, when levels reached 29.3 Gt, the IEA said.

Moreover, the IEA estimated that 80 percent of projected emissions from the power sector in 2020 are already locked in, as they will come from power plants that are currently in place or under construction today.

"This significant increase in CO2 emissions and the locking in of future emissions due to infrastructure investments represent a serious setback to our hopes of limiting the global rise in temperature to no more than two degrees C," said Fatih Birol, the IEA's chief economist.

Stop the Granny Bashing: Despite What You May Think, Our Seniors Are in Trouble

Note: This story is about two women in a long term relationship, who do not enjoy the security of marriage not the extra income they would have if one of them had been male.

I am an old lesbian with an even older partner and this is why marriage equality and issues involving Social Security/Medicare have a far higher priority on my agenda than does a transgender inclusive ENDA.

We must fight the deficit hysterics' relentless granny-bashing. Most people don't grasp that this group has already been hit hard by budget cuts and the recession.

May 30, 2011

“We lived very well,” said Norma Hair, 71, over a shaky table at the small pizzeria she runs in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, with 68-year-old Carol Schmidt, her wife and partner of over 30 years. “In 1979, Carol was making $33,000 per year, which was a lot of money back then. Then I rose to the position of supervisor of accounting in a company. So, our combined income [in the early-1980s] was probably about $60,000.”

The two women are sharp, with bright, youthful eyes and a slightly wicked sense of humor. But their bodies betray their years. “The reason we have nothing,” says Hair, “is because we spent everything we could on medical to keep Carol alive when we were in the United States.” Both women suffer from chronic heart problems in addition to other ailments.

“Hospitals have to treat you for life-threatening illnesses,“ explains Hair. “[Carol] got two lifesaving surgeries for nothing. But it was getting harder and harder, so I decided that it was easier if we traveled to different cities.”

So they did. They sold their home, bought an RV and toured the nation's emergency rooms. “We were on the road for three and a half years,” says Schmidt, “just so we could go to a new ER each time and they wouldn't be suspicious -- oh, you're back again?"

Dr. George Richard Tiller August 8, 1941 – May 31, 2009

Murdered by a Christian terrorist while standing up for women's right to control their own bodies.

The misogynistic patriarchs of the desert religions hate and oppress women.

Like the impotent cowards they are, they send forth terrorists and assassins to do the dirty work while ripping off their followers by preaching hatred of women's equality.

Now there is no doctor in Wichita, Kansas.  Bloody Kansas lives up to is name of Bloody Kansas.

Women of this nation lost a true hero of the highest order when Dr. Tiller was murdered.

We need show these unholy hordes of religious fanatic we will not be cowed or give in to the terrorism committed by religious fanatics.  It doesn't matter if they are Islamo-fascists or Christo-fascists.

Americans Arrested Violently at the Jefferson Memorial -- for Dancing

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/rights/151128/shocking_video%3A_americans_arrested_violently_at_the_jefferson_memorial_--_for_dancing_/

So now the Jefferson Memorial is a "protected area" per the Patriot Act?

May 29, 2011

The wonderfully courageous people of Code Pink were roughly abused and arrested during a peaceful demonstration Saturday at the Jefferson Memorial.

These police thugs who grew up in the Reagan and post-Reagan Era haven't a clue as to what this country and freedom are are about.

Isolation of Tradeswomen Melts at Rare Conference

By Susan Eisenberg
WeNews correspondent
Friday, May 27, 2011

Carolyn Williams, chair of the National Building Trades Department's Standing Committee on Women in the Trades and director of the Human Services Department for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, opens the conference.

(WOMENSENEWS)--For women who work in construction--an industry where women's work force percentage has been stalled at 2.5 percent despite more than 30 years of enormous efforts to open those occupations--national conferences provide a vital lifeline.

Until the weekend of April 29-May 1, there hadn't been one in a decade.

The long hiatus was broken by the national AFL-CIO Building and Construction Trades Department, which agreed in January to co-sponsor California's annual AFL-BCTD-sponsored statewide conference, and let it serve double duty as the 10th conference for women in the state's building trades and the first "Women Build the Nation" conference.

For women isolated in their workplaces and unions, the opportunity to make face-to-face connections with their counterparts, gain practical skills, talk strategy and hear information and commitments directly from national leaders was not only invigorating but offered life support.

The most raw moment came at Saturday's noon plenary, when pioneer electrician Molly Martin, co-founder of the Bay Area's Tradeswomen, Inc., asked from the stage, "How many of you have been the only woman in your trade on a job?"

Virtually all the hands shot toward the ballroom ceiling.

Christo-Fascists Tony Perkins & James Robison: America Needs Godly Leaders

Contracts Against Americans

Published on Tuesday, May 31, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

It is time to shine the light on the big, affluent corporate lawyers who anonymously create those non-competitive fine print contracts we all have to sign to purchase goods and services.

It’s time for an open letter to these Darth Vaders of business law who have destroyed our freedom of contract and built a new road to serfdom made of corporate cement.

Dear Attorneys for Contract Incarceration:

Remember when you were at law school studying contracts? Your professor pressed you socratically to understand Hadley vs. Baxendale et al. You spent just one or two classes on what are called "contracts of adhesion"—those fine print one-sided contracts that only make up 99% of all the contracts we’ll ever sign.

There they are—page after page exuding the silent message of "take it or leave it." If you "leave it", then you must cross the street to a competitor—an insurance company, credit card firm, bank, auto dealer, hospital, realtor, airline, student loan company or cell phone company, awaiting you is the same fine-print contract designed to nail you to the mast. Then there are the shrink-wrap software contracts you can't even see before you buy.

If your contracts professor bothered to explain why so little course time is spent on these standard form contracts involving trillions of dollars in annual sales, he/she might have used the French phrase—"fait accompli." After all, the consumer signed or acquiesced in some way. That met the basic principle of a binding contract, say the courts (with a rare exception now and then) which is a meeting of the minds between the willing seller and the willing buyer.

Discussion over! As a shopper, prepare for the daily coercive harmony.

Imagine all the times you’ve "met the minds" of Bank of America, Metropolitan, Aetna, General Motors, Wal-Mart, American Express, AT&T, Sallie Mae, U.S. Air and your favorite time-sharing company for that vacation trip to Antigua. What a myth!

In this legal fiction land, the law presumes that you’ve read the fine print and understood it. Inscrutability is no defense. It doesn’t matter that law professors, Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts and your partners admit to not reading the dense legalese when they shop. Why waste their time? They can’t get out of contractual prison anymore than you can. But you make zillions figuring out how to lock millions of Americans into one-side anti-consumer contracts.

Monday, May 30, 2011

As inequality spreads, Middle America speaks out

For Anarchist, Details of Life as F.B.I. Target

Published: May 28, 2011

AUSTIN, Tex. — A fat sheaf of F.B.I. reports meticulously details the surveillance that counterterrorism agents directed at the one-story house in East Austin. For at least three years, they traced the license plates of cars parked out front, recorded the comings and goings of residents and guests and, in one case, speculated about a suspicious flat object spread out across the driveway.

“The content could not be determined from the street,” an agent observing from his car reported one day in 2005. “It had a large number of multi-colored blocks, with figures and/or lettering,” the report said, and “may be a sign that is to be used in an upcoming protest.”

Actually, the item in question was more mundane.

“It was a quilt,” said Scott Crow, marveling over the papers at the dining table of his ramshackle home, where he lives with his wife, a housemate and a backyard menagerie that includes two goats, a dozen chickens and a turkey. “For a kids’ after-school program.”

Mr. Crow, 44, a self-described anarchist and veteran organizer of anticorporate demonstrations, is among dozens of political activists across the country known to have come under scrutiny from the F.B.I.’s increased counterterrorism operations since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Other targets of bureau surveillance, which has been criticized by civil liberties groups and mildly faulted by the Justice Department’s inspector general, have included antiwar activists in Pittsburgh, animal rights advocates in Virginia and liberal Roman Catholics in Nebraska. When such investigations produce no criminal charges, their methods rarely come to light publicly.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

US keeps bluefin tuna off endangered list

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States on Friday rejected calls to protect Atlantic bluefin tuna as an endangered species, saying that while it was worried about overfishing it did not fear imminent extinction.

Environmental groups have repeatedly voiced concern that the global fad for Japanese food was driving the world's stocks of tuna to dangerously low levels and have sought strong safeguards to preserve the species' survival.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it was putting Atlantic bluefin tuna on a watchlist of species at risk but would not classify it under the Endangered Species Act, which would bring legal protections.

"Based on careful scientific review, we have decided the best way to ensure the long-term sustainability of bluefin tuna is through international cooperation and strong domestic fishery management," said Eric Schwaab, a senior official at the agency.

He said that the United States would continue to advocate strict international quotas on the number of tuna that can be hunted to "ensure the long-term viability of this and other important fish stocks."

Mass youth revolt shakes Spain

Tahrir Square comes to Madrid

Published May 25, 2011

Drawing inspiration from the fighting spirit and determination of Tahrir Square and the peoples of Egypt, Tunisia and the Middle East, the peoples of Spain took the struggle against capitalist austerity, mass unemployment and the conditions of the economic crisis to a new level this past week.

Demonstrations and occupations of city plazas erupted across the Spanish state beginning on May 15 and, as of May 23, show no signs of faltering.

On May 15, a week before regional and local elections were to take place, protests started up in cities throughout the country against the government’s austerity program and mass unemployment, as well as to demand a number of democratic reforms of the political system.

The officially reported unemployment rate sits at a staggering 21.3 percent, the highest in Europe. For young people, the statistics are even worse, as 45 percent of people aged 18 to 25 are unemployed. The situation for youth is so dire that they are referred to as the “youth without a future” or “the lost generation.” Many have begun referring to themselves as “los indignados” (those who are “fed up”).

Tens of thousands were in the streets that day. Following the demonstration in Madrid, young people and workers took over and began an around-the-clock occupation of the central plaza there, the Puerta del Sol. 

This bold action inspired numerous other occupations of plazas in major cities throughout the country; people demonstrated in more than 166 cities during the week. At least 10 occupations of city squares were also being reported in Italy, and there was a protest outside the Spanish Embassy in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic.

While the capitalist-owned press has heavily focused on the role of social media in these demonstrations — and it is undeniable that those sites have been an important tool among many used by organizers — it is the objective conditions of the capitalist crisis, the austerity measures and anger over the bank bailouts that have driven masses of young people and workers into the streets throughout the Spanish state, from Galicia to the Basque Country to Catalonia, as well as in the capital city.

“I’m here against the system, against everything, the banks, the government, the Popular Party, unemployment. You name it. Nothing works,” journalism student Sabina Ortega told the Christian Science Monitor (May 20). “It’s against a two-party system. And my goal is to feel represented. I want politicians to know they are not listening. I’ll stay here as long as I have to.”

Despite a ban imposed on the occupations by the Spanish government on May 20, two days ahead of the scheduled elections, tens of thousands of people in Puerta del Sol and elsewhere around the country defied these orders and continued to hold the encampments. Some plan to stay until the following weekend.

Aerial photos of the Puerta del Sol in Madrid show a number of large banners that were raised in the square. One of the most prominent reads, “La crisis es el capitalismo” (“The crisis is capitalism”). Tents and other structures — offering medical, legal and food services — have been established and demonstrators have constituted various assemblies to carry out the many tasks required to maintain the occupation and to vote on different political objectives.

Many of the different communist parties and organizations active in the Spanish state have issued statements of support for the wave of occupations, dubbed the 15-M (May 15) movement, and have been active participants in these demonstrations. They view their main tasks as helping to develop and deepen the working-class consciousness of the protests and to unite the various sectors that are in motion against the capitalist austerity in order to open a broader, worker-led political struggle against the Spanish state and the two ruling parties — the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and the People’s Party (PP).

Spain in context

In the elections held May 22, the governing PSOE was dealt a defeat by the PP, even in strongholds the self-styled socialists have held since the end of Franco’s fascist dictatorial rule in the mid-1970s, at which time a number of democratic reforms were introduced.

Despite what its name might suggest, the PSOE is a historically social democratic party that currently occupies a position similar to the one the Democratic Party holds here in the U.S. At its congress back in 1979, the PSOE renounced Marxism and the revolutionary struggle of the working class and is now one of the two main capitalist parties in the country.

The other, the People’s Party (PP), is a right-wing party formed in 1989 as a result of the merger of various reactionary parties. Many in the leadership of the PP have connections going back to the Franco regime, with some even having served under him during the fascist rule over the country from 1940 to 1975.

Spain has the world’s twelfth-largest economy. Spain also has the European Union’s third-largest budget deficit and may, like Ireland, Greece and Portugal, be forced to accept a devastating IMF austerity package if it cannot satisfy the banks with its own austerity measures soon.

Within the Galician, Basque and Catalonian regions of the Spanish state there are movements for national self-determination.

Of the three main countrywide trade union federations, only one, the CGT, has continued to wage an open struggle against the state around the austerity programs. The other two federations — the UGT and the Workers’ Commissions (CCOO) — granted concessions to the PSOE government following the country’s first general strike in more than 10 years last Sept. 29 and agreed to stop future mass actions of workers. Most regional unions in the Basque Country, however, support the workers’ struggles.

Capitalism to blame

Although the current demonstrations began one week prior to elections, this revolt is directed not merely against one capitalist party or the other, but is an uprising against the miserable conditions that have been forced upon young people and workers by capitalism and the global crisis, which is now four years old.

The workers, the unemployed and the young people of the Spanish state are following the heroic example of the peoples of Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere throughout North Africa and the Middle East as they take their destiny into their own hands and fight back.

The May 22 elections came and went, but the occupation shows no signs of giving up. Organizers have continued to hold the encampments in Madrid and elsewhere throughout the country and have set May 28 as another major day of demonstrations.

Articles copyright 1995-2011 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

Cops Fire WILDLY Into Home They Know Has Woman & Baby In It! Cops Execute Iraq War Vet In His Home

America's Vanishing Middle Class: A Tale of Two Economies

by Jeff Stibel
May 27, 2011

The US economy today borders on schizophrenic. To be sure, we are seeing signs of positive momentum. The last three months have delivered almost 250,000 new jobs per month on average. Great news, but at the same time, unemployment is growing and now exceeds nine percent. Both consumer confidence and small business confidence is higher than where they were last year. But confidence has been falling rapidly for the past few months.

Were Charles Dickens to show up as a commentator on the evening news, he would have a ready vocabulary to describe our current economic situation: This recovery is very much A Tale of Two Cities. After years of record low interest rates, multiple stimulus packages, and the expansion of tax cuts and credits, we are in the midst of a very real recovery, but it is a recovery characterized by asymmetry. Banks and major corporations are flush with capital — large businesses are recording record profits — but job growth is tepid, unemployment remains high and small businesses are struggling.

At first glance, the combination of record corporate profits alongside anemic job growth seems contrary, but the two are directly connected. The primary reason corporate profits are at record highs is that large companies learned to be lean and highly productive during the worst years of the recession. The profits generated through a reduced but more productive headcount has induced many large companies to continue this lean approach even as we emerge from recession. The result: record profits despite weak revenue growth, which leads to a lack of hiring.

The job growth problem is even more nuanced than that. It turns out that the hiring we are seeing is at the extreme ends of the spectrum. To ensure strong profits, corporations are cutting out the middle layers of management — the middle-class. In their place, they are hiring at the very low end and promoting at the high end. Senior management compensation is up nearly 25% this year ($9M for the average S&P 500 CEO), to levels higher than in pre-recession days, according to executive compensation research firm Equilar.

Amnesty International marks 50 years of fighting for free speech

Amnesty International: campaigning organisation started by Peter Benenson to free prisoners of conscience celebrates evolution from first protest

The Observer,

When she was young, Manya Benenson's dad told her a story of two frogs that fall into a bucket of cream and swim around and around. The first one gives up and drowns, the second keeps going until he finds his struggles have churned the cream to butter, and he climbs out. As a fable, she said, it could sum up the movement that the late Peter Benenson began in the Observer 50 years ago this weekend.

It was a day for sentiment and inspirational stories yesterday, as Amnesty International celebrated its birthday with an event at St Martins in the Fields in central London. The celebration was held at the same Trafalgar Square church where Benenson, a bowler-hatted barrister, slipped away from work in 1961 and sat alone to dream up what has become the world's most renowned human rights organisation.

He had been enraged by reading a newspaper account of the arrest in Portugal of two students, whose crime had been to raise a toast to freedom. Benenson died in 2005 and yesterday his daughter Manya, 35, lit the Amnesty candle, symbolically ringed by barbed wire, in his memory, along with Wai Hnin Pwint Thon, a Burmese refugee whose father is serving a 65-year jail sentence for organising peaceful protests against the military junta in 2007.

"I don't think I will see my dad again," Wai Hnin Pwint Thon said after the ceremony. "But he always told me that as long as this regime is there, there is no happy ending for my family. My ten-year-old sister is still in Burma with my mother and I hope that one day she will have the chance of a better life and not have to leave. That hope is what Amnesty means to me."

Why do so many right-wingers object to protecting gay kids?

Johann Hari
May 29, 2011

Why do so many right-wingers object to protecting gay kids?

I am exhausted. I have spent all week trying to brainwash small children into being gay, by relentlessly inserting homosexuality into their maths, geography and science lessons. Their little eyes widened when the gay algebra lesson started, but it worked: their concept of “normal sexual behaviour” has been successfully destroyed. It’s all part of the program brilliantly co-ordinated by the Homintern to imposed The Gay Agenda on Every Aspect of British Life.

That, at least, is what you would believe if you had read some of Britain’s best-selling newspapers this week, or listened to some prominent Tory politicians. The headlines were filled with fury. The Conservative MP Richard Drax said gays were trying to impose “questionable sexual standards” on kids, while the Daily Mail said we were mounting a massive “abuse of childhood.”

Here’s what is actually happening. A detailed study by the Schools Health Education Unit found that in Britain today, 70 percent of gay children get bullied, 41 percent get beaten up, and 17 percent get told at some point in their childhood that they are going to be killed.

I’ll tell you the story of just one of them. Jonathan Reynolds was a 15-year old boy from Bridgend in South Wales who was accused – accurately or not, we’ll never know – of being gay. He was yelled at for being a “faggot” and a “poof”. So one day, he sat a GSCE exam – later graded as an A - and went to the train tracks near his school and lay on them. He texted his sister: “Tell everyone that this is for anybody who eva said anything bad about me, see I do have feelings too. Blame the people who were horrible and injust to me, see I do have feeling too. Blame the people who were horrible and injust to me. This is because of them, I am human just like them. None of you blame yourself, mum, dad, Sam and the rest of the family. This is not because of you.” And then the train killed him.

I guess nobody told Jonathan Reynolds that, as the columnist Melanie Phillips put it, “just about everything in Britain is now run according to the gay agenda.” The great Gay Conquest didn’t make it from her imagination to his playground, or any playground in Britain. Gay kids are six times more likely to commit suicide than their straight siblings. Every week, I get emails from despairing gay kids who describe being thrown against lockers, scorned by their teachers if they complain, and – in some faith schools – told they will burn in Hell. Every day they have to brave playgrounds where the worst insult you can apply is to call something “gay”. They feel totally lost. This could have been your child, or my child, or Melanie Phillips’ child.

Is it “political correctness” and “McCarthyism” to try to ensure these kids can feel safe in their own schools – or is it basic decency? A few very mild proposals were made this week for how to change the attitudes behind this. They came from an excellent organization called Schools Out, which is run with a small grant from the tax-payer. They gave out a voluntary information pack in which they suggested that, to mark LGBT History Month, teachers acknowledge the existence of gay people in their lessons. They could teach in history about how Alan Turing played a vital role in saving the world from the Nazis and paved the way for the invention of the computer, only to be hounded to death for being gay. They could learn in science that homosexuality occurs in hundreds of species of animals. They could – yes! – maybe even look in maths lessons at the census data, figuring out how prevalent gay people are.

We know that these lessons work in making gay kids much safer. The Schools Health Education Unit found that homophobic violence was dramatically lower in schools that taught about homosexuality. Good schools like Stoke Newington Secondary that followed this program were assessed to have “virtually eliminated homophobic bullying.” That has a very powerful educational purpose: when gay kids feel safe, they can learn.

Yet these pragmatic policies to make kids safe were presented as a wicked plot to endanger children. We can’t stop the endemic intimidation and violence if every time there is a policy to do it, it is grossly distorted and demonized in this way. The critics even whispered that gays want to “impose” sexuality on kids – with hints of the ugliest and oldest lie about gay men, that they are paedophiles.

Yet in one strange way, the current backlash is reassuring. When I was a kid in the 1980s, these sentiments were so widespread that a law – Section 28 – was passed to resolve them, and the cowed critics were derided as “the loony left.” Today, the opinion polls show 80 percent of the British people support gay marriage, and the people offering these views are regarded as the loons. It’s worth pausing and saying to all the people who have been open to persuasion and have changed their minds on this question: thank you. It’s incredibly moving to see how many heterosexual people have rallied to the defence of gay people, and it’s a reminder that we will never go back now.

But this anti-equality shouting still has an effect. It stops many schools from pursuing sensible policies that would save kids like Jonathan Reynolds, for fear of being accused of “political correctness gone mad” – so it’s important to answer the arguments now.

These critics don’t appear to understand what homosexuality actually is. In every human society that has ever existed, and ever will, some 3 to 10 percent of the population has wanted to have sex with their own gender. This is a fixed and unchangeable reality. The only choice is whether you are pointlessly cruel to them, or accept their harmless difference. Homosexuality is “normal sexual behaviour”: it occurs wherever human societies exist. It is not engaged in by a majority, but using that logic, Jews and Muslims are “abnormal” in Britain too – an ugly and foolish claim.

Informing children about these facts can’t make them gay. Nothing can. You can no more teach a child homosexuality than you can teach them left-handedness. Oddly, the homophobes seem to understand this about their own sexuality, but not about other people’s. I once asked Michael Howard, the architect of Section 28, if he would be gay now if he had been taught to be as a child. He moved very anxiously in his seat and mumbled something incoherent.

In order to justify their desire to discriminate against gay people, the few remaining homophobes have concocted a scenario where they are The Real Victims. They can say what they want, set up churches or mosques that preach what they want, and turn away gay people from their homes every day of the week if they so desire – and I would defend every one of those rights to the last ditch. There is only one thing they can’t do. They can’t choose to offer a service to the general public, and then turn people away on the basis of race or sexuality. They can’t put up de facto signs saying ‘No blacks, no Irish, no gays’ at their B&B.

This isn’t a form of prejudice – it is a way of preventing prejudice. Nobody will ever force you to work in a registry office or open a B&B, but if you choose to, you can’t reject the gay couples and expect to remain in post. (In one case where this happened, they offered her a job in the office instead, but she chose to be a bizarre cause célèbre of prejudice instead.) Services for the general public have to be available without contamination by bigotry. It’s a simple principle. Don’t demand the right to spit in the face of gay people, and claim you’re being picked on when you’re asked to stop.

Yes, I know your religious texts mandate bigotry against gay people. They also mandate slavery and stoning adulterers, and they laud a God who feeds small children to bears (see 2 Kings 2:23-24). As secular morality has evolved, you have managed to overcome those beliefs. Here’s another that has to catch up. If you were to defend Biblical literalism, you’ll end up as Stephen Green, head of the tiny Christian Voice sect, who argues for the execution of gay people and the legalization of rape by husbands. He supported the death penalty for homosexuality in Uganda – where the incredibly brave campaigner for gay equality David Kato was just lynched as part of the hate-wave.

When people say that a “deeply held religious conviction” should enable you to break anti-discrimination laws and treat gay people as second class citizens, I reply – what about the Mormons? Until 1975, they believed black people did not have souls. (They only changed their minds when the Supreme Court ruled it illegal, and God conveniently appeared to say they did have souls after all.) Should they have been allowed to run adoption agencies that refused to give babies to black people, because of their “deeply held religious conviction”?

But there is an even lower point in the homophobes’ rhetorical arsenal. Being subjected to bullying and violence as children and teenagers makes gay people unusually vulnerable to depression and despair. The homophobes then use that depression and despair to claim that homosexuality is inherently a miserable state – and we shouldn’t do anything that might “encourage” it. They create misery, and then use it as a pretext to create even more misery.

Yet Melanie Phillips, Richard Drax and the last raging band of homophobes are right about one thing. There is a “Gay Agenda.” They are only wrong about its contents. It has one item on the list, and one item only: to ensure that gay people are treated exactly the same as everybody else. That’s it. That’s all. That’s the sum total of our ambitions. To get there we may – yes – have to mention the existence of gay people in schools. It is the only way to save kids like Jonathan Reynolds, and make sure everyone knows – as he said in his final text, before the train hit – “I am human just like them.”

~Johann Hari

Thank you for taking the time to read this, please feel free to pass it on and share it with anyone you think it may help.

Saturday Night Flashback 1980s Edition

US Politics of Fear

Europe Sowing the Seeds of Hunger

by Stephen Leahy
Published on Thursday, May 26, 2011 by Inter Press Service

LEIPZIG, Germany - Europe is facing a hungry future unless it changes agricultural policies and makes farmers the main participants in agriculture research, a new report has found. And there is little hope of meeting Europe's recently announced goal of reducing the loss of biodiversity in ten years without making those changes.

France is suffering a severe drought but Europe's seed laws prevent farmers from using a wider variety of seeds that could help them cope, says Michel Pimbert of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), non-profit research institute based in London.

"Our seed laws enforce uniformity. France can only plant approved seeds and those new varieties need a lot of water," Pimbert, the author of the report told IPS.

"Farmers’ freedom to choose the seeds they plant and to use them to develop improved crop varieties and biodiversity-rich farming will be key to Europe’s response to climate change," says Pimbert.

"Europe’s agriculture policies are preventing us from adapting to climate change. They are also bad for biodiversity since they force farmers to use an increasingly narrow range of seeds and animal breeds," he says.

Sex-selective abortions on the rise in India

By Chloe
Published: May 25, 2011
According to new study published this week in the medical journal The Lancet, the number of sex-selective abortions being performed in India has been rising and continues to rise. The researchers estimate that between 4 million and 12 million sex-selective abortions have been performed in India in the last three decades. And in the past decade, the study found, the problem has worsened.

Despite legal restrictions making it illegal to use ultrasounds to determine the sex of a fetus, the practice has continued; it seems that these laws are rarely enforced and that private medical practices are largely unregulated. The result is that there are now 914 girls for every 1000 boys under the age of six. In 1961, the ratio was 976:1000. The New York Times reports:
Dr. Prabhat Jha, a lead author of the study, noted that the use of sex-selective abortions expanded throughout the country as the use of ultrasound equipment became more widespread. Typically, women from wealthier, better-educated families are more likely to undergo an ultrasound, Mr. Jha said, and researchers found that these families are far more likely to abort a girl if the firstborn is a daughter.
This is a story about abortion, of course, but it’s also about a much larger problem: the worth of a woman’s life. In a culture where, as the Times notes, sons inherit property and carry on the family name but daughters do not, girls are also more vulnerable to infanticide, abuse and neglect. In this context, it is understandable why some families would prefer female babies over male ones. This preference results not just in the abortion of female fetuses, but in the brutal mistreatment of women who fail to give birth to baby boys.

When You Say “Drug Rehab,” We Say “Ex-Gay Therapy”

by Cynthia S. Wright

Leave it to the ole state of Georgia to use drug addiction as the perfect time to take someone to “ex-gay therapy.” Nice to see that our tax dollars are being used for the proper, effective channels of restoring someone’s perceived sexual malfunction, instead of treating a horrible illness, such as drug addiction.

A lesbian in Bartow County is suing the local Sheriff’s department, due to being taken to an “ex-gay therapy” center located in an evangelical’s couple’s home, instead of being taken to drug rehabilitation – which she was originally led to believe.

Sometime in April 2010, Amanda Booker’s family called the Bartow Sheriff’s department to arrest Booker for her drug addiction. Instead of taking Booker to the local psychiatric hospital, the deputies ignored the judges’ ruling and took her to another place, when they started harassing Booker about her sexuality after she began convulsing in the police car. Booker was later taken to the “evangelist” home of Chris and Donna McDowell, where they were given $600 in county funds to convert Booker back to a heterosexual (her drug addiction was not an issue, apparently).

In the lawsuit, Amanda Booker lists off Bartow County, but Commissioner Clarence Brown, Sheriff Clark Milsap and department employees, Mary Mayton, Nathan Gibbs, Pam Ploof and Amanda Pedifer and three other defendants.

The GA Voice reported that the lawsuit alleges that “At all times relevant to action, it was normal procedure, practice and custom of defendants Bartow County, Brown, and Milsap to punish homosexuals and persons holding different religious beliefs.”

Rick Scott, the Republican Governor of Florida Removes "Liberal Looking" Seniors from Townhall

Friday, May 27, 2011

Judge: Corporate Donations Ban Unconstitutional

Citizens United applied only to corporate spending on campaigning by independent groups -- not to direct contributions to the candidates themselves

Published on Friday, May 27, 2011 by the Associated Press

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — A judge has ruled that the campaign-finance law banning corporations from making contributions to federal candidates is unconstitutional, citing the Supreme Court's landmark Citizens United decision last year in his analysis.

In a ruling issued late Thursday, U.S. District Judge James Cacheris tossed out part of an indictment against two men accused of illegally reimbursing donors to Hillary Clinton's Senate and presidential campaigns.

Cacheris says that under the Citizens United decision, corporations enjoy the same rights as individuals to contribute to campaigns.

The ruling from the federal judge in Virginia is the first of its kind. The Citizens United case had applied only to corporate spending on campaigning by independent groups, like ads run by third parties to favor one side, not to direct contributions to the candidates themselves.

Friday Night Fun and Culture Bill Hicks Edition

Mayor Bloomberg calls on New York State to legalize same-sex marriage

Ayn Rand U? Rich Conservatives -- Not Just the Kochs -- Buying Up Professors and Influence on Campus

Conservative activists have a good-cop, bad-cop approach to the university. In either case, the same right-wing foundations pay the bill.

May 24, 2011

These days, rich conservatives want a lot more than their names on university buildings in exchange for big donations. The Koch brothers recently endowed two economics professorships at Florida State University in exchange for a say over faculty hires. Banker John Allison, long-time head of BB&T, has donated to 60 universities in exchange for their agreeing to teach Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged--some agreements even include the outrageous stipulation that the professor teaching the course “have a positive interest in and be well versed in Objectivism.”

The economic crisis has opened American universities to ever more brazen--and at times decidedly strange--attacks on the hallowed principle of academic freedom. Conservative efforts to shape hearts and minds on campus, however, are far from new. Like anything in a capitalist society, academia is a place where people with money fight for power, and take their advantage where they can. Indeed, the effort to mold higher education--which the Right has long caricatured as a hotbed of revolutionary agitation--in the image of the establishment has been central to the rise of modern conservatism.

“Conservatives have been funding such efforts for a while, but usually fairly quietly and without the rough touch of the Koch brothers,” says David Farber, a professor of history at Temple University and author of The Rise and Fall of Modern American Conservatism.

Inside academia and out, the conservative movement has prioritized young people and intellectuals since the 1964 defeat of Barry Goldwater and the 1968 youth rebellion, endowing professorships alongside a plethora of on-message think tanks. (The arms manufacturer John Olin, 78, was particularly appalled by the 1969 occupation of the student union at his alma mater, Cornell, by armed black activists.)

MN Welfare Rights Committee says, “Tax the rich or shut the government down!”

Demands Governor Dayton veto Health and Human Services Bill
Analysis by Deb Konechne |
May 22, 2011
St Paul, MN - As the legislative session nears its final day, Republicans continue to push the state toward a government shutdown. For working and poor, disabled and elderly Minnesotans, a government shutdown would by far be a better outcome than the deadly cuts that Republicans are trying to force down our throats.

“The Republicans are acting like school yard bullies, threatening the people of Minnesota with their deadly cuts and refusing to make the rich pay even one dime!” stated Kim DeFranco of the Welfare Rights Committee.

The Richest in Minnesota Have Not Paid One Dime for the Past Decade of Budget Deficits

While working and poor people have paid for past budget deficits, the wealthiest in Minnesota have not paid even one dime. In fact they have gotten richer and richer at the expense of poor and working Minnesotans. Look at the facts: if the governor’s original proposal to raise taxes on 5% of the population with the most income results in over $3 billion, this signifies just how much the State of Minnesota has been losing in tax income, year after year after year because the rich have not paid enough and because of the massive tax breaks they have benefitted from. This is incredible. It also means that the richest have amassed billions of dollars in extra income year after year while the rest of the people in the state have been living in desperate times.

Women Warn Budget Talks Should Not Be All Male

Roll Call Staff
May 25, 2011, Midnight

As Congressional leaders and the administration debate the country’s fiscal future, a collection of women’s organizations on Tuesday requested that they infuse one missing ingredient into the high-level talks: estrogen.

Vice President Joseph Biden and administration officials met Tuesday to discuss the deficit with Members such as House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.). Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Reps. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) as well as Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Office of Management and Budget Director Jacob Lew and economic adviser Gene Sperling attended the talks as well.

“Women are not prominently there at the meeting,” Terry O’Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, said during a conference call with reporters. “We are concerned that the disproportionate impact on women of the proposed budget cuts is not at the center of the analysis and must be at the center of the analysis.”

O’Neill’s group along with 14 others, including the Older Women’s Economic Security Task Force, the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce and the National Women’s Political Caucus, sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to put a woman at the table.

God Fearing Christian Wisconsin man arrested for planning to shoot abortion providers ‘right in the head’

Friday, May 27th, 2011

A Wisconsin man was arrested Wednesday after he told police that he had traveled to Madison to shoot an abortion provider "right in the head."

Employees at a Motel 6 in Madison called police after Ralph Lang, 63, told them he had accidentally discharged a firearm in his room, according to a criminal complaint provided to The Wisconsin State Journal.

Lang told Madison Police Department Officer Angie Dyer that he had purchased the gun in 2009 to "lay out abortionists because they are killing babies."

The criminal complaint (PDF) explains that he told the officer he intended to find the abortion doctor at the local Planned Parenthood clinic and "shoot him in the head."

Asked if he intended to shoot only the doctor or the nurses too, he replied that he wished he "could line them up all in a row, get a machine gun, and mow them all down."

Lang recalled that he was in Madison the prior week but did not murder anyone because he "was not 100% in sync with God."

Officers found a map in the suspect's room with dots in each state and the words "some abortion providers." The phrase "Blessed Virgin Mary says Hell awaits any woman having an abortion" was also written on the map.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

FBI investing in invasiveness of activists

Democrat Wins G.O.P. Seat; Rebuke Seen to Medicare Plan

America Rejects Ultra Right Wing Republican led attacks on Medicare and Social Security

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/25/nyregion/democrat-capture-house-seat-in-special-election.html?_r=1&hp

Published: May 24, 2011

Democrats scored an upset in one of New York’s most conservative Congressional districts on Tuesday, dealing a blow to the national Republican Party in a race that largely turned on the party’s plan to overhaul Medicare.

The results set off elation among Democrats and soul-searching among Republicans, who questioned whether they should rethink their party’s commitment to the Medicare plan, which appears to have become a liability heading into the 2012 elections.

Two months ago, the Democrat, Kathy Hochul, was considered an all-but-certain loser in the race against the Republican, Jane Corwin. But Ms. Hochul seized on the Republican’s embrace of the proposal from Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, to overhaul Medicare, and she never let up.

On Tuesday, she captured 47 percent of the vote to Ms. Corwin’s 43 percent, according to unofficial results. A Tea Party candidate, Jack Davis, had 9 percent.

Voters, who turned out in strikingly large numbers for a special election, said they trusted Ms. Hochul, the county clerk of Erie County, to protect Medicare.

Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/25/nyregion/democrat-capture-house-seat-in-special-election.html?_r=1&hp

Tim Pawlenty wiped a serial child molester’s record clean in 2008

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty formally announced his campaign seeking the GOP nomination for the presidency Monday morning, but by midday, his political past had already caught up to him. Reporting by Minneapolis City Pages' Nick Pinto brought to attention a pardon then-Gov. Pawlenty granted to a sex offender in October 2008, which is sure to haunt the candidate throughout his campaign: the man Pawlenty pardoned was later arrested again for molesting his daughter more than 250 times in an eight-year span, including six years prior to his pardon.

Jeremy Giefer served 45 days in prison in 1994 after being convicted of statutory rape. However, because he married the then-14-year-old girl and stuck around to father the child they conceived together, he begged the state for an extraordinary pardon, which would no longer require Giefer to report himself as a sex offender.

The board — which includes the Minnesota attorney general, the chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, and the governor (Pawlenty, at the time) — voted unanimously to pardon Giefer.

The damning details came in November 2010, when Giefer was again arrested on counts of sex with an underage girl — this time with the daughter he had conceived with Susan before his first rape charge. According to the complaint his daughter, identified in court documents as C.G., filed, Griefer would often make her have sex with him or perform oral sex on him as a favor before he would give her permission to do things, and that he put her on birth control when she was 15 years old so that she wouldn't get pregnant when he raped her without a condom. The abuse started when she was 9 years old.

Tim Pawlenty soft on Pedophile Rapists


Wrong for America

Freedom From Religion Foundation renews call to Minnesota Legislature: Drop prayer

News Release and Action Alert

Antigay preacher prays before passage of anti-gay rights amendment

May 23, 2011

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, on behalf of its 16,500 members including 400 in Minnesota, has renewed its formal objections to opening the Minnesota House or Senate sessions with prayer — any prayer, nondenominational or not — after the divisive appearance and prayer by pastor Bradlee Dean on Friday.

Dean, who has said he thinks homosexuality should be illegal and allegedly has suggested favoring the death penalty for gays, gave an address before the House’s vote this weekend to approve an anti-gay marriage amendment. That amendment was approved Saturday and will now go out as a referendum to voters.

Dean, who had been told that “guest chaplains” are “advised to be nondenominational and inclusionary,” intoned:

“I know this is a non-denominational prayer in this Chamber and it’s not about the Baptists and it’s not about the Catholics alone or the Lutherans or the Wesleyans. Or the Presbyterians the evangelicals or any other denomination but rather the head of the denomination and his name is Jesus. As every President up until 2008 has acknowledged. And we pray it. In Jesus’ name,” Dean said. (Read FFRF’s transcript of the entire prayer here.)

Dean is affiliated with You Can Run But You Can’t Hide, whose mission statement is: “To reshape America by re-directing the current and future generations both morally and spiritually through education, media, and the Jdueo-Christian values found in our U.S. constitution.”

FFRF, a state/church watchdog, has taken regular complaints about You Can Run But You Can’t Hide presentations in public schools.

Dean’s prayer created a firestorm Friday, with Republicans huddling in a private caucus meeting for more than an hour, according to the Star Tribune. House Speaker Kurt Zellers called the invitation to Dean a mistake, Majority Leader Matt Dean called the prayer inappropriate and even Rep. Ernie Leidiger, R-Mayor, who had invited Dean, distanced himself from him.

In an interview with the newspaper, Dean insisted he wasn’t “anti-gay” and denied approving the death penalty for gay people, but spoke approvingly of an era when homosexuality was illegal:

“We don't enforce those laws anymore and we wonder why we are going backwards," he said. "If you were to ask me my position as far as enforcing the laws of sodomy in the state of Minnesota, I would say absolutely yes. Yeah. Yeah."

FFRF added its objection to prayer to open the Minnesota State Senate in March, after State Sen. Terri Bonoff had asked the Senate to adopt and enforce rules that prayers be nonsectarian in nature. Her complaint followed the over-the-top prayer to Jesus on March 14, 2011 by Pastor Dennis Campbell, of Granite City Baptist Church in St. Cloud.

FFRF, in a March 22 letter to Senate President Michelle Fischbach, asked the Senate to discontinue prayer altogether. FFRF found that of 32 prayers since May 2010 through late March, 84% of officiants were Christian clergy. FFRF pointed out government prayer excludes the 14-16% of the U.S. population that is nonreligious, turning them into political outsiders.

“This controversy proves how divisive religion is in government. Once a legislature opens the door to ‘chaplains’ and ‘guest chaplains,’ it invites a union between religion in government. It invites entanglement. It invites discord,” said FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

“If the Minnesota Legislature is going to invite pastors to pray at them and the public, how can it prevent pastors such as Dean from exploiting this exalted podium to exploit their views? We atheists and nonbelievers would love to be given this kind of access to the legislature, yet only religion, and overwhelming the Christian expounders, are granted this endorsement.

“There is no question that legislative prayer sends an unconstitutional and inappropriate message of endorsement of the views of ministers who are invited to open sessions. His invitation was timed to inflame the debate over marriage equality. The only objections to gay marriage ever offered are religious in nature. Prayer in our government is quite simply a conflict of interest.”

Minnesota House Passes Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

by Bridgette P. LaVictoire

The Republican controlled Minnesota House has tonight voted to have the people of that state decide on the rights of a minority group and vote on the fate of a constitutional amendment would define marriage as only between a man and a woman in 2012.

As demonstrators outside the house chambers chanted, “Just Vote No”, the final vote tonight came down to 70 to 62 in favor of passage, after was nearly six hours of oft times emotional debate.

The bill has already passed the Senate and tonight’s House passage will automatically place the measure on the ballot. Such a measure is not subject to a veto from Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, who strongly opposes the amendment.

The amendment, as approved by both chambers, will now offer a simple yes-or-no question to the states voters: “Shall the Minnesota Constitution be amended to provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Minnesota?”

Hate Pays and the Long Haired Whore for Jesus Want Big Bucks

Anti-Gay Preacher: Please Give Me Money To Hire A Publicist

David Taintor
May 24, 2011

Controversial preacher Bradlee Dean's morning prayer on the Minnesota House floor Friday has garnered him so much attention he's now asking supporters for money to hire a publicist.

"WOW! Did you ever think going to the Capitol to give a prayer paying homage to the Founders, the Veterans and Christ could be so offensive to our politicians?" Dean wrote to supporters, the Minnesota Independent reports. "We certainly didn't start this fight but we are more than willing to respond! Our small ministry team has been going non-stop the past 72 hours to not only defend the truth but to continue fighting for the foundation that made this nation so great."

Dean continued:

"However, the liberal-biased media has taken this a step further and initiated a full-scale character assassination, attempting to inflict serious damage to the ministry and my reputation. While we are putting up a good defense with the resources we have readily available, we are in serious need of a publicist on a short-term basis."