Wednesday, August 31, 2011

This is How Gender is used to Oppress Women: JCPenney Advertises T-Shirt Suggesting Girls Are ‘Too Pretty To Do Homework’


By Rebecca Lefton,
August 31, 2011

JCPenney is advertising a girl’s t-shirtthat says, “I’m too pretty to do homework so my brother has to do it for me.” The merchandise description reads: “Who has time for homework when there’s a new Justin Bieber album out? She’ll love this tee that’s just as cute and sassy as she is.”

That’s right, girls starting at the age of 7 are being told that their looks, not brains, are all that matter. And that boys are smarter than girls.

JCPenney should immediately stop selling such sexist products and donate any sales revenue to a girl’s empowerment organization. And for a moment, let’s take a deeper look into the seemingly harmless attention that is given to girls’ appearance. Sexism is still pervasive and limiting women’s achievement.

The stats don’t lie: a recent Commerce Department report on the gender breakdown and compensation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields found that women still only represent 25 percent of jobs in these fields — the same number as over a decade ago — and are paid less than their male counterparts, earning only 83 cents to a man’s dollar. Sadly, that’s better than the overall wage gap of 77 cents (and the gap for women of color is even larger). Why are we telling girls that their academic and professional achievements don’t matter as much?

Every two minutes, a woman is sexually assaulted in the US (note: 60% of sexual assaults are not reported). Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter, notes that “the pressure has grown much more intense to define themselves and gain all their self-worth from the way that they look, and the way that they look is supposed to be, increasingly and increasingly younger, sexy. And femininity becomes defined for them by sexiness (you know, at the age of four), narcissism, and consumerism—all three of which are problematic for me.” Is this really the message JC Penney wants to send young girls?

The American Dr. Mengeles: Panel Hears Grim Details of Venereal Disease Tests

The reality is that Americans do not value the lives of the poor and people of color the way they value their own.

How is this any different from what Dr. Mengele did?

Is it any wonder that some people question the emergence of AIDS and how it coincided with both the triumph of the hard core right wing in the US and GB as well as with the campaign to vaccinate those same groups of people who were the initial groups of AIDS victims with a hepatitis vaccine.

It wouldn't be the first time doctors, especially in conjunction with the war industrial complex have experimented on people they deem sub-human. You can't say they don't have a record of performing these atrocities.


Published: August 30, 2011

Gruesome details of American-run venereal diseaseexperiments on Guatemalan prisoners, soldiers and mental patients in the years after World War II were revealed this week during hearings before a White House bioethics panel investigating the study’s sordid history.

From 1946 to 1948, American taxpayers, through the Public Health Service, paid for syphilis-infected Guatemalan prostitutes to have sex with prisoners. When some of the men failed to become infected through sex, the bacteria were poured into scrapes made on the penises or faces, or even injected by spinal puncture.

About 5,500 Guatemalans were enrolled, about 1,300 of whom were deliberately infected with syphilis, gonorrhea or chancroid. At least 83 died, but it was not clear if the experiments killed them. About 700 were treated with antibiotics, records showed; it was not clear if some were never treated.

The stated aim of the study was to see if penicillin could prevent infection after exposure. But the study’s leaders changed explanations several times.

“This was a very dark chapter in the history of medical research sponsored by the U.S. government,” Amy Gutmann, the chairwoman of the bioethics panel and the president of the University of Pennsylvania, said in an interview.

President Obama apologized to President Álvaro Colom of Guatemala for the experiments last year, after they were discovered.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/31/world/americas/31syphilis.html?_r=1&ref=americas

Judge orders Kansas to resume Planned Parenthood’s quarterly funding, rejects monthly payments


By Associated Press, Published: August 30,2011

WICHITA, Kan. — A federal judge ordered Kansas to immediately resume funding a Planned Parenthood chapter on the same quarterly schedule that existed before a new state law stripped it of all federal funding for non-abortion services.

U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten on Tuesday rejected the state’s request that it pay Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri monthly and only for services provided.

The judge also declined to order Planned Parenthood to post a bond in the event the state prevailed in the lawsuit.

Planned Parenthood has sued to block a provision of the state budget preventing the organization from receiving any of the state’s share of federal family planning dollars.

Marten wrote in his ruling that the intent of the court’s earlier order was to restore and maintain the prior status quo between the parties, a relationship that was based on quarterly installment payments of the federal money. He said the monthly reimbursement schedule the state wants would have the effect of undermining the clinic’s ability to maintain its current level of services.

Tea Party Family Values and the World's Greatest Freak Show


by Vyckie Garrison, No Longer Qivering
August 29, 2011

On fundamentalist counterculture & juvenile black market adoption fantasies ...

Do you remember when it first dawned on you that your relatives are all a bunch of crackpots and weirdos? Seems like I was around 8 or 9 — my mother worked all night in the casinos and slept most of the day, leaving me alone to protect my naïve older sister from the depraved advances of Mom's alcoholic boyfriends and worry about my big brother's drug addiction. I couldn't count on my grandparents to help — they were too preoccupied with their own divorce, dating, and remarriage dramas.

"Holy sugar," I thought to myself, "these people are seriously messed up!"

That's about the time the fantasies began. My home, I imagined, was a three-ring circus — and my relatives were the freaks and the clowns. In my daydreams, I was not really one of them. No — surely, I was of aristocratic origin. My REAL family were royalty in a faraway Kingdom and I was born a beloved Princess in a fancy castle with many servants and my own Fairy Godmother. Somehow, I'd been separated from my blood kin as an infant — I was captured by gypsies and sold in a black market adoption — that's how I ended up being raised by this group of crazies!

ABC's Primetime Nightline recently aired a segment featuring the Gil & Kelly Bates family — a conservative, Evangelical mega-family of twenty. The Bates, who are close friends of JimBob & Michelle Duggar of TLC's "19 and Counting" fame, hold to the extreme fundamentalist ideals of the growing "Quiverfull movement."

During the one-hour special, Gil, Kelly, and their children explained the family's lifestyle which, to all modern appearances, represents a throw back to the imaginary 60's-style "Leave It to Beaver" family combined with strict, Victorian Era sexual mores and the atavistic gender roles of ancient goat-herders. The Bates eschew all forms of birth control and adhere to the marriage model of the biblical Patriarchs — with Gil as family leader and Kelly as submissive "help meet." Kelly and the girls adorn themselves in modest, hand-sewn dresses, while Gil and his clean-cut sons teach bible study and participate in local Tea Party politics.

Aren't they lovely? Don'tcha wanna be just like them?

The GOP War on Voting

In a campaign supported by the Koch brothers, Republicans are working to prevent millions of Democrats from voting next year

By Ari Berman
August 30, 2011
As the nation gears up for the 2012 presidential election, Republican officials have launched an unprecedented, centrally coordinated campaign to suppress the elements of the Democratic vote that elected Barack Obama in 2008. Just as Dixiecrats once used poll taxes and literacy tests to bar black Southerners from voting, a new crop of GOP governors and state legislators has passed a series of seemingly disconnected measures that could prevent millions of students, minorities, immigrants, ex-convicts and the elderly from casting ballots. "What has happened this year is the most significant setback to voting rights in this country in a century," says Judith Browne-Dianis, who monitors barriers to voting as co-director of the Advancement Project, a civil rights organization based in Washington, D.C.

Republicans have long tried to drive Democratic voters away from the polls. "I don't want everybody to vote," the influential conservative activist Paul Weyrich told a gathering of evangelical leaders in 1980. "As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down." But since the 2010 election, thanks to a conservative advocacy group founded by Weyrich, the GOP's effort to disrupt voting rights has been more widespread and effective than ever. In a systematic campaign orchestrated by the American Legislative Exchange Council – and funded in part by David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers who bankrolled the Tea Party – 38 states introduced legislation this year designed to impede voters at every step of the electoral process.

All told, a dozen states have approved new obstacles to voting. Kansas and Alabama now require would-be voters to provide proof of citizenship before registering. Florida and Texas made it harder for groups like the League of Women Voters to register new voters. Maine repealed Election Day voter registration, which had been on the books since 1973. Five states – Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia – cut short their early voting periods. Florida and Iowa barred all ex-felons from the polls, disenfranchising thousands of previously eligible voters. And six states controlled by Republican governors and legislatures – Alabama, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin – will require voters to produce a government-issued ID before casting ballots. More than 10 percent of U.S. citizens lack such identification, and the numbers are even higher among constituencies that traditionally lean Democratic – including 18 percent of young voters and 25 percent of African-Americans.

Corporations spend more on CEOs than on taxes


Published: 31 August, 2011

While nearly one-in-ten Americans are out of a job and the country attempts to rebound from recession, some of the richest companies in the US are compensating their CEOs famously in lieu of stimulating the economy.

A report released today from the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) reveals that a quarter of the highest-paid CEOs in America actually made more in 2010 than their companies paid in federal income tax. In some cases, reveals Washington DC-based IPS, those same companies even spent more on lobbying than they did on taxes, putting more money into furthering their personal causes than giving back to the crumbling infrastructure that kept them afloat during the troubling times as of late.

The CEO of eBay, for example, raked in $12.4 million last year alone, yet the Internet auction house actually received a refund of over $130 million from the US government. Jim McNerney of Boeing was paid nearly $14 million, whilst the aerospace company only paid $13 million in taxes. On K Street, lobbyists at Boeing contributed over $20 million to causes that concern them.

Since the report made it onto the desk of Representative Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), a ranking member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, he has asked for hearing to investigating the compensation of chief executive officers. Cummings has written to the other side of the aisle, asking Committee Chairman Republican Darrell Issa, “to examine the extent to which the problems in CEO compensation that led to the economic crisis continue to exist today,” reports Reuters.

In his letter to the committee, Cummings asked for lawmakers to look into why CEO compensation and corporate profits continue to skyrocket all while the pay of other workers remains stagnant and unemployment stays above 9 percent. He has also asked committee members to look into “the extent to which the problems in CEO compensation that led to the economic crisis continue to exist today."

In the report from IPS released Wednesday, August 31, that of the 100 highest-paid CEOs in America, 25 of them make more than their companies contributed in tax payments last year. IPS has unearthed that around two-thirds of the firms mentioned in the report used offshore subsidiaries in international tax havens to get the biggest breaks. Elsewhere, the other one-third of the top 100 benefited from accelerated depreciation.

Texas Sonogram Law: Judge Strikes Down Key Provisions Of Abortion Bill


August 31, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas — A federal judge on Tuesday blocked key provisions of Texas' new law requiring a doctor to perform a sonogram before an abortion, ruling the measure violates the free speech rights of both doctors and patients.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks upheld the requirement that sonograms be performed, but struck down the provisions requiring doctors to describe the images to their patients and requiring women to hear the descriptions.

The law made exceptions for women who were willing to sign statements saying they were pregnant as a result of rape or incest or that their fetus had an irreversible abnormality. Sparks questioned whether the Republican-controlled Texas Legislature was trying to "permanently brand" women who are victims of sexual assault.

The law – one of dozens of anti-abortion measures that advanced through state capitals across the United States this year – takes effect Thursday. The New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights had sued to block it.

California Shark Fin Ban One Step Closer To Law


by August 30, 2011

A bill that would make it illegal to sell, trade, or posses shark fins in California passed the State’s Senate Appropriations Committee today on a 5-2 vote. The bill, officially known as AB 376, will now move to the Senate floor, where a vote is expected within the next few weeks.

During the finning process, the fins and tails are cut from living sharks, and the remainder of the fish, which is often still alive, is thrown back into the ocean.

Most of the demand for shark fins comes from Asian countries where it is used to make a gelatinous soup that often sells for more than $80 a bowl. The Associated Press reports that at a large specialty market in Los Angeles’ Chinatown, dried triangular fins are selling for $299 to $699 a pound.

Proposed by Assemblymember Paul Fong (D-Cupertino), who is himself of Chinese descent, the bill has been at the center of divisive controversy among California’s Chinese-American community.

Capitalism Is The Crisis (Full Movie)

RAN Founder Randy Hayes On Why He Was Arrested At The White House Today


August 30, 2011

This post is by Randy Hayes, a founder and board member of RAN.

Today Rainforest Action Network Board member Jodie Evans, actress and nature lover Darryl Hannah, myself, and more than 70 others blockaded the sidewalk outside the US President’s house.

Why?

We were joining a two-week long protest where more than 500 people have been arrested calling on the president to deny the permitting of Keystone XL, a 1700-mile proposed tar sands pipeline. Burning the greasy Canadian tar sands will further stress the cathedral-like rainforests of the world and cause more rainforest loss. Added deforestation will contribute more carbon to the atmosphere, leading to further climate disruption and yet more deforestation. It is a vicious cycle that is broken by simply saying no to the ugly pipeline from Canada.

Today’s non-violent arrestees joined the hundreds that have already been arrested in Washington, D.C. We’re saying no to this madness and calling on the U.S. President to say no to this ill-conceived pipeline.

Puritan Pundits Should Chill Out -- Here Are 5 Reasons I'm Happy I've Had Lots of Casual Sex


Things don't have to be permanent to be valuable. A fleeting moment can have as much value as a stone monument.

August 28, 2011

The phenomenon of women who have sex for its own sake seems to baffle many people. It's widely believed that women have sex for love, commitment, poor self-control, to manipulate men, to please men, to make babies, to sooth their low self-esteem, and just about any reason at all other than their own pleasure. (While men, of course, are rutting horndogs who just want to stick it in the nearest wet hole available.) Sex, according to this trope, is by its nature a commodity that women possess and men are trying to obtain... and the phenomenon of women who are "giving it away," who are defying these assumptions and treating sex as a pleasurable interaction between equals, is making the media piss all over themselves.

Mark Regnerus, Slate: "If women were more fully in charge of how their relationships transpired, we'd be seeing, on average, more impressive wooing efforts, longer relationships, fewer premarital sexual partners, shorter cohabitations, and more marrying going on."

Rachel Simmons, relationship advice columnist for Teen Vogue: "These letters worry me. They signify a growing trend in girls' sexual lives where they are giving themselves to guys on guys' terms. They hook up first and ask later. "

Bill O'Reilly: "Many women who get pregnant are blasted out of their minds when they have sex."

Susan Walsh, Hooking Up Smart: "They cannot see that as she [self-proclaimed proud-and-happy slut Jaclyn Friedman] proclaims her detachment from sex, she gets emotionally wounded every single time. They take heart from her proclamation that sluthood is a healing thing. Ms. Friedman is a hot mess. Craiglist Casual Encounters was not a miracle, it was a disaster that broke her heart again. I hope she does find Love, the whole enchilada."

Laura Sessions Stepp, author of Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both... oh, just look at the title.

Then there's the piece that got me staying up until four in the morning writing about this in the first place: Christian author Don Miller, who recently asked his female readers (and his male ones, in a separate post) if they've ever had casual sex, and if so, why. Miller doesn't ask this in a neutral way, a way that expresses a genuine desire for an honest answer. He asks in a way that makes it obvious what he thinks the answer will be -- whatever the reason is, it must be bad, bad, bad. In fact, he's asking in a way that totally slants the answers he's likely to get. He's asking "why some girls give up sex easily" (as if sex for women is always a surrender) and "do you use sex for some kind of social power or to make yourself feel good?"

It's like a push-poll -- a political poll designed to elicit a particular response, so you can shape people's opinions and make your position seem more popular than it really is.

And this push-poll tendency is shared by many of those who ask, "Why on earth would women want casual hookups?" They're not asking, "Why do some women have casual sex?" They're asking, "Why on earth would some women have casual sex, when it's so clearly a bad idea that will do them and other women harm and is obviously not in their best interest?" And they're doing this despite research showing that casual sex isn't, in fact psychologically harmful for young adults. They're basing their questions on the common assumption that women's natural state is to keep their legs closed unless they've got their hands on marriage or commitment... and that women who don't are some sort of baffling phenomenon that needs to be explained.

Are Virginia's New Abortion Rules the Worst Yet?


By Kate Sheppard
Tue Aug. 30, 2011

On Friday evening, Virginia's Department of Health issued a strict new set of rules for abortion clinics—and women's health advocates fear that facilities that can't comply could be shuttered.

The regulations require Virginia's 22 clinics to meet strict new physical standards; pre-op rooms, for example, must measure at least 80 square feet, and operating rooms must measure 250 square feet. Hallways must be at least five feet wide. The requirements are based on the state's 2010 guidelines for new outpatient surgical facilities.

Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, told Mother Jones on Monday that the new rules may actually be the most strict regulations in the United States. "It would be challenging for the majority of our facilities to continue offering first-trimester care," Keene said. "These are designed to really cease first-trimester abortion services in the Commonwealth of Virginia."

The president of Washington, D.C.'s Planned Parenthood chapter has already told the Washington Post that she doesn't believe that a clinic in Falls Church, Virginia, will be able to meet all of those requirements. Keene said that many other clinics in the state won't be able to meet them, either—which she thinks is exactly the reason the Department of Health wrote them that way. "There's no doubt in my mind that this is an attack on Roe," said Keene. "You can ban abortion by making it inaccessible."

Justice Ginsburg: If I Were Nominated Today, My Women’s Rights Work For The ACLU Would Probably Disqualify Me


Aug 30, 2011

In a speech yesterday at Southern Methodist University law school, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg offered a grim assessment of the judicial confirmations process. If she were nominated to the Supreme Court today, her background as a civil rights attorney would likely prevent her from being confirmed:
Ginsburg said that to practice for her Senate confirmation hearings, White House staffers in mock hearings grilled her on her work for the ACLU. During those mock hearings she told them: “There’s nothing you can do to get me to bad mouth the ACLU.”

Such grilling, though, did not happen, she said. She was confirmed 96-3.

“Today, my ACLU connection would probably disqualify me,” she said.

Republicans Against Science

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/29/opinion/republicans-against-science.html?_r=2

By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: August 28, 2011

Jon Huntsman Jr., a former Utah governor and ambassador to China, isn’t a serious contender for the Republican presidential nomination. And that’s too bad, because Mr. Hunstman has been willing to say the unsayable about the G.O.P. — namely, that it is becoming the “anti-science party.” This is an enormously important development. And it should terrify us.

To see what Mr. Huntsman means, consider recent statements by the two men who actually are serious contenders for the G.O.P. nomination: Rick Perry and Mitt Romney.

Mr. Perry, the governor of Texas, recently made headlines by dismissing evolution as “just a theory,” one that has “got some gaps in it” — an observation that will come as news to the vast majority of biologists. But what really got peoples’ attention was what he said about climate change: “I think there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects. And I think we are seeing almost weekly, or even daily, scientists are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.”

That’s a remarkable statement — or maybe the right adjective is “vile.”

The second part of Mr. Perry’s statement is, as it happens, just false: the scientific consensus about man-made global warming — which includes 97 percent to 98 percent of researchers in the field, according to the National Academy of Sciences — is getting stronger, not weaker, as the evidence for climate change just keeps mounting.

In fact, if you follow climate science at all you know that the main development over the past few years has been growing concern that projections of future climate are underestimating the likely amount of warming. Warnings that we may face civilization-threatening temperature change by the end of the century, once considered outlandish, are now coming out of mainstream research groups.

Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/29/opinion/republicans-against-science.html?_r=2

UK: Homelessness could spread to middle class, Crisis study warns


Homelessness charity points to direct link between economic downturn and welfare cuts, and rising numbers living on streets

, social affairs editor
The Guardian, Wednesday 31 August 2011

The economic downturn and the government's deep cuts to welfare will drive up homelessness over the next few years, raising the spectre of middle class people living on the streets, a major study warns.

The report by the homelessness charity Crisis, seen by the Guardian, says there is a direct link between the downturn and rising homelessness as cuts to services and draconian changes to benefits shred the traditional welfare safety net.

In the 120-page study, co-authored by academics at the University of York and Heriot-Watt University, Crisis highlights figures released over the summer that show councils have reported 44,160 people accepted as homeless and placed in social housing, an increase of 10% on the previous year and the first increase in almost a decade.

Last year another 189,000 people were also placed in temporary accommodation – such as small hotels and B&Bs – to prevent them from becoming homeless, an increase of 14% on the previous year.

Crisis says that with no sign of economic recovery in sight, there are already signs that homelessness is returning to British streets. In London, rough sleeping, the most visible form of homelessness, rose by 8% last year. Strikingly, more than half of the capital's 3,600 rough sleepers are now not British citizens: most are migrants from eastern Europe who cannot find work and, unable to get benefits or return home, are left to fend for themselves on the streets.

The charity says the evidence is that the current recession has seen the poor suffer the most, but other parts of society may be in jeopardy if the government's radical welfare agenda is acted on as the economy stutters.

Ultra Right Wing Bigot, GOP Rep. Neumann Who Promised To Eradicate Homosexuality If He Were God Will Challenge Openly-Gay Tammy Baldwin


Aug 29, 2011

Former Wisconsin Rep. Mark Neumann (R) has announced that he will run for the state’s open senate seatin 2012 and will likely challenge former Governor Tommy Thompson for the party’s nomination. In declaring his candidacy during a radio appearance this morning, Neumann predicted that he will face openly-gay Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D) in a general election — who is also expected to announce her candidacy in the coming weeks — and promised to bring her record “to the forefront.”

But as Denis Dison notes, Neumann will first have to answer for several homophobic remarks he made in the 1990s, when as a freshman congressman, he told the New York Times that “If I was elected God for a day, homosexuality wouldn’t be permitted, but nobody’s electing me God.” A year later, speaking before the Christian Coalition, he remarked, “If somebody walks in to me and says, ‘I’m a gay person, I want a job in your office,’ I would say that’s inappropriate, and they wouldn’t be hired because that would mean they are promoting their agenda. The gay and lesbian lifestyle (is) unacceptable, lest there be any question about that.”

Neumann clarified his statements in 2010 by explaining that he regrets saying that he would want to be God:

Eventually, though, he did apologize for a portion of his quote in The Times. “The part about me being God for a day is the problem with that,” said Neumann, who is Lutheran. “I’m not God, don’t intend to be and hope I never have that much power….I regret talking about the fact that I would be God,” Neumann responded. [...]

Military Spending Waste: Up To $60B In Iraq, Afghanistan War Funds Lost To Poor Planning, Oversight, Fraud


By Richard Lardner
08/30/11

WASHINGTON -- As much as $60 billion in U.S. funds has been lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade through lax oversight of contractors, poor planning and payoffs to warlords and insurgents, an independent panel investigating U.S. wartime spending estimates.

In its final report to Congress, the Commission on Wartime Contracting said the figure could grow as U.S. support for reconstruction projects and programs wanes, leaving both countries to bear the long-term costs of sustaining the schools, medical clinics, barracks, roads and power plants already built with American tax dollars.

Much of the waste and fraud could have been avoided with better planning and more aggressive oversight, the commission said. To avoid repeating the mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan, government agencies should overhaul the way they award and manage contracts in war zones, the commission recommended.

The Associated Press obtained a copy of the commission's 240-page report in advance of its scheduled public release on Wednesday.

Created by Congress in 2008, the eight-member commission held more than two dozen hearings, interviewed hundreds of military and civilian officials and traveled multiple times to Iraq and Afghanistan. The panel's final report is the most comprehensive examination so far of the U.S. dependence on contractors and the government's ability to manage them in combat areas.

The commission said calculating the exact amount lost through waste and fraud is difficult because there is no commonly accepted methodology for doing so. But using information it has gathered over the past three years, the commission said at least $31 billion has been lost and the total could be as high as $60 billion. The commission called the estimate "conservative."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Meet the Shady Dallas Mega-Billionaire Industrialist Pouring Money into Rick Perry's Coffers


Most Americans have never heard of Harold Simmons, despite his fantastic wealth, because he wisely keeps his head low.

August 29, 2011

Like so many Republican officials of the tea party persuasion, Rick Perry despises the Environmental Protection Agency—a feeling he has expressed repeatedly in speeches, lawsuits, legislation and even a book titled “Fed Up!” Perhaps that is only natural for the governor of Texas, a “dirty energy” state where the protection of air, water and human health rank well below the defense of oil company profits for most politicians.

But Perry has at least one other reason for smacking down those bureaucrats so eagerly. When environmental regulators do their job properly, that can mean serious trouble for Perry’s largest political donors.

The outstanding example is Harold Simmons, a Dallas mega-billionaire industrialist who has donated well over a million dollars to Perry’s campaign committees recently. With Perry’s eager assistance—and despite warnings from Texas environmental officials—Simmons has gotten approval to build an enormous radioactive waste dump on top of a crucial underground water supply.

“We first had to change the law to where a private company can own a license, and we did that,” Simmons boasted in 2006, after the Texas Legislature and the governor rubber-stamped initial legislation and approvals for the project. “Then we got another law passed that said (the state) can only issue one license. Of course, we were the only ones that applied.”

Most Americans have never heard of Simmons, despite his fantastic wealth, because he wisely keeps his head low, generally refusing press interviews and avoiding media coverage. Last year, a local monthly in his hometown published the headline “Dallas’ Evil Genius” over a scathing and fascinating investigative profile that examined not only the peculiar history of litigation between Simmons and his children (who no longer speak to him), but his political machinations, corporate raiding and continuing corporate penchant for pollution.

Thom Hartmann: Tired of the free loaders in the US economy?

Sun and Sanity


Published on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

This is the second week of protests, led by Bill McKibben, in front of the White House demanding that President Barack Obama reject a proposed 1700 mile pipeline transporting the dirtiest oil from Alberta, Canada through fragile ecologies down to the Gulf Coast refineries. One thousand people will be arrested there from all fifty states before their demonstration is over. The vast majority voted for Obama and they are plenty angry with his brittleness on environmental issues in general.

Following the large BP discharge in the Gulf of Mexico, Obama gave the OK to expand drilling over 20 million acres in the Gulf and soon probably in the Arctic Ocean. He delayed clean air rules over at EPA. Following the worsening Fukishima nuclear disaster last March in Japan, he reaffirmed his support for more taxpayer guaranteed nuclear plants in the U.S. adding his Administration’s hopes to learn from the mistakes there.

He proposed an average fuel efficiency standard for 2005 at 62 miles per gallon, quickly conceded to industry’s objection and brought it down to 54 mpg. The industry’s trade journal Automotive News calculated the loopholes and brought it down to “real-world industry wide fleet average in the 2025 model year” of about 40 mpg. No wonder the auto companies effusively praised Obama’s give-it-up negotiator, Ron Bloom at the Treasury Department of all places.

Were Obama to look out his White House window and see the arrested and handcuffed demonstrators against this $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline, he might think: “This will upset my environmental supporters, but heck, where can they go in November 2012?”

He is right. No matter what Mr. Obama does to surrender environmental health and safety to corporatist demands, they will vote for him. They certainly won’t vote for the Republican corporate mascots. They wouldn’t vote for a Green Party candidate either. This is not only the environmentalists’ dilemma, it is the liberal/progressive/labor union dilemma as well. They have no bargaining power with Obama.

He did not propose a carbon tax when the Democrats controlled Congress in 2009-2010. Even Exxon prefers a carbon tax to the corruption-inducing complex cap and trade bill the House passed only to have the Senate sit on it. So doing nothing on climate change is soon to be followed by approval of the destructive tar sands pipeline which will add significantly to greenhouse gases.

AIDS scare shuts down porn industry


Published: 30 August, 2011

One of the biggest enterprises in America has come to a crushing halt as an AIDS scare is causing panic within the country’s pornography industry, a blowback on a business that generates billions of dollars each year in the US.

An adult film performer that tested positive for HIV last week has signaled a country-wide cease in one of the most profitable industries in America. A spokesperson for the Free Speech Coalition (FSC), the trade association for the adult entertainment industry, tells The Los Angeles Times that they became aware of the case over the weekend, and while the performer is undergoing a second-round of testing, porno shoots across the country have been put on hold.

Typically the American pornography industry brings in upwards of $14 billion a year, according to a piece published by the New York Times Magazine.

The Free Speech Coalition does not expect to have the results of the newest tests until next week, and on Monday the FSC’s executive director, Diane Due, told The LA Times that a production moratorium across Southern California has been placed while the case is being investigated. On Tuesday, however, Molly Hennessy-Fiske of The LA Times told CNN today that the FSC is now experiencing “an industry-wide moratorium.”

Southern California is considered the hub of the American pornography industry, but the case in question was identified at a clinic out of state that doesn’t typically report to California state officials. The FSC is withholding the name, age and gender of the person in question, but is trying to identify recent partners, professional and non, that could help crack the case. So far officials have not identified any other infected people, but are asking those in the industry to be tested.

The Free Speech Coalition requires that porn performers be regularly tested, at least once a month, and are not cleared for acting until test results come back clean. Only last month the FSC began work on an online database that would provide porn insiders with information regarding test results of potential performers, though the program won’t be finished and launched until next month.

The Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation has been petitioning in recent weeks to get a measure in voting booths that would require actors working inside Los Angeles to wear a condom if they want to continue their line of work.

Baptist Pastor Prays For President Obama To Die & Go To Hell! "Our Country Is Ran By Faggots"

So much for the idea that Christianity is the "Religion of peace" and that some how the Christians in the US are more enlightened than the Muslim extremists.  Six of one half a dozen of the other.  All religions seem to hate women.  Indeed misogyny seems to be a the core of most religion.

Top NASA climate scientist arrested at White House


Monday, August 29th, 2011

One of the nation's foremost experts on climate change was arrested outside the White House on Monday morning after he joined a protest against a planned Canadian tar sands pipeline.

Dr. James Hansen (pictured), who runs NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, was arrested along with 139 other protesters taking part in a series of demonstrations against the planned $7-billion Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport 500,000 barrels of crude per day from America's neighbor to the north all the way to the Gulf coast of Texas.

So far, 521 activists have been arrested since their first protest on Saturday, Aug. 21. Also included in Monday's arrests were Greenpeace Executive Director Phil Radford, president of CREDO Mobile Michael Kieschnick, 350.org Executive Director May Boeve and many others.

Hansen, a 44-year veteran of the nation's space agency, is perhaps the best-known climate scientist in the world. He was the center of a years-long controversy in the last decade, after he claimed that NASA had tried to censor his findings about earth's climate on behalf of the Bush administration. He's also the author of "Storms of My Grandchildren," a book that calls for radical action to combat climate change. He's also been arrested before, protesting against mountaintop mining.

A U.S. State Department environmental impact study released last week claimed the pipeline would have a minimal effect on the environment, and officials maintained that even if the U.S. refuses the pipeline, Canada will just sell their oil elsewhere.

Ron Paul Insanely un-American and Bad for Americans

Ron Paul's war on the elderly, compares Social Security and Medicare to Slavery!

Orlando Liberal Examiner
August 28, 2011

Everyone's favorite libertarian looney toon, Ron Paul, is at it again. The radical right-wing Presidential nominee appeared in one of the most comfortable places a republican could be, the Fox News set. Paul joined Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday and poor Wallace did his best to make Paul seem reasonable, it didn't work. Wallace asked Paul about his views towards Social Security and Medicare in relation to the constitution.
WALLACE: You talk a lot about the Constitution. You say Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid are all unconstitutional.

PAUL: Technically, they are. … There’s no authority [in the Constitution]. Article I, Section 8 doesn’t say I can set up an insurance program for people. What part of the Constitution are you getting it from? The liberals are the ones who use this General Welfare Clause. … That is such an extreme liberal viewpoint that has been mistaught in our schools for so long and that’s what we have to reverse—that very notion that you’re presenting.

WALLACE: Congressman, it’s not just a liberal view. It was the decision of the Supreme Court in 1937 when they said that Social Security was constitutional under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.

PAUL: And the Constitution and the courts said slavery was legal to, and we had to reverse that.

Ron Paul wants to abolish FEMA

Published: 30 August, 2011

Move over, Federal Reserve. The latest opponent of Republican Congressman Ron Paul is FEMA.

Even in the wake of Hurricane Irene, the presidential hopeful from Texas said this week that abolishing the Federal Emergency Management Agency could only help the country.

"FEMA has been around since 1978, it has one of the worst reputations for a bureaucracy ever," Paul said to Fox News on Sunday. "It's a system of bureaucratic central economic planning, which is a policy that is deeply flawed."

Speaking only moments after FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate announced how the agency would be responding to those hit by Irene as per the direction of President Obama, Congressman Paul told Fox that the only way FEMA could really help was to call it quits. According to the presidential candidate, FEMA creates more problems than it helps solve.

Paul argued that the aid offered up by FEMA, which proved to be insufficient in the case of Katrina six years earlier, offers a false sense of dependency to Americans who rely on the agency for assistance. Despite that dependency, however, Paul says that FEMA often comes up short and on top of that is terrible in debt.

"FEMA creates many of our problems because they sell the insurance because you can't buy it from a private company, which means there's a lot of danger, so we pay people to build on beaches, and then we have to go and rescue them," the congressman said.


Bill McKibben: Will Hurricane Irene Be a Wake-Up Call About Climate Change?

Kansas resists revealing how abortion clinic rules were developed


By Brad Cooper | McClatchy Newspapers
Sunday, August 28, 2011

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The state of Kansas is withholding details about how it developed new rules for abortion clinics.

Lawyers for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment and the attorney general want to prevent two abortion clinics from learning how the rules were written, and the rationale behind them, according to their court filings.

They are asking a judge to limit the scope of what is shared with the clinics' lawyers to prevent broad requests that don't lead to relevant evidence, the court documents say.

The state also has denied open-records requests from The Kansas City Star and The Associated Press, which asked for documents that could have shed light on the drafting of the rules.

"They're using every procedure available to prevent us from doing any discovery to find out the steps they took in enacting these regulations," said Bonnie Scott Jones, one of the lawyers for the abortion clinics.

Jones represents Herbert Hodes and his daughter, who run an obstetrics and gynecology clinic in Overland Park. They, along with a Kansas City, Kan., abortion clinic, challenged the new rules in federal court in June.

Christians Should Control Government - Michele Bachmann & Dominionism

The Election March of the Trolls


Posted on Aug 29, 2011

We have begun the election march of the trolls. They have crawled out of the sewers of public relations firms, polling organizations, the commercial media, the two corporate political parties and elected office to fill the airwaves with inanities and absurdities until the final inanity—the 2012 presidential election. Journalists, whose role has been reduced to purveyors of court gossip, whether on Fox or MSNBC, descend in swarms to report pseudo-events such as the Ames straw poll, where it costs $30 to cast a ballot. And then, almost immediately, they blithely inform us that the Iowa poll is meaningless now that Rick Perry has entered the race. The liberal trolls, as they do in every election cycle, are beating their little chests about the perfidiousness of the Democratic Party and Barack Obama. It is a gesture performed not to effect change but to burnish their credentials as moralists. They know, as do we, that they will trot obediently into the voting booth in 2012 to do as they are told. And everywhere the pulse of the nation is being assiduously monitored through polls and focus groups, not because our opinions matter, but because our troll candidates understand that by parroting back to us our own viewpoints they can continue to spend their days lapping up corporate money with other trolls in the two houses of Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court and television studios where they chat with troll celebrity journalists.

The only commodity the troll state offers is fear. The corporate trolls, such as the Koch brothers, terrify the birthers, creationists, militia lovers, tea party militants, right-to-life advocates, Christian fascists and God-fearing red-white-and-blue patriots by proclaiming that, unless they vote for Perry or Mitt Romney or Michele Bachmann or some other product of the lunatic fringe of our political establishment, the American family will be destroyed, our children will be corrupted and the country will turn socialist. Barack Obama, who they whisper is a closet Muslim, will take away their guns, raise their taxes and bring homosexual couples into kindergartens.

For those, usually liberals, still rooted in a reality-based world, one that believes in evolutionary science, the corporate trolls offer a more refined, fear-based message of impending doom. If you abandon the Democrats we will be governed by Bible-thumping idiots who will make us chant the Pledge of Allegiance in mass rallies and teach the account of Genesis as historical and biological fact in our nation’s schools.

And underneath it all runs the mantra chanted in unison by all the trolls—terror, terror, terror. The troll establishment spins us like windup dolls and laughs all the way to the bank. What idiots, they think. And every election cycle we prove them right.

“The only people who grasp the distinction between reality and appearance, who grasp the laws of conduct and society, are the ruling groups and those who do their bidding; scientific, technical elites who elucidate the laws of behavior and the functions of society so that people might be more effectively, albeit unconsciously, governed,” wrote James W. Carey in “Communication as Culture.”

What's It Going to Take for Americans to Stop Eating Chemical-Laden Industrial Food?


The simple act of sitting down together to eat real food on a regular basis can jumpstart the kind of lively discussions that get people engaged on the issues of the day.

By Kerry Trueman
August 29, 2011

Laurie David is a force of nature when it comes to lobbying on behalf of Mother Nature. An author, film producer and environmental advocate, she's best known as the producer who convinced Al Gore that his climate-change slide show could reach a lot more folks if he made it into a movie.

David's still concerned about melting glaciers. But her current campaign tackles another kind of erosion; the loss of community, civility and informed debate in our culture. Her latest book, The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time, makes the case that the simple act of sitting down together to eat real food on a regular basis can jumpstart the kind of lively, enlightening discussions that get our friends and family engaged on the issues of the day. And isn't that the first step to pulling our civic discourse out of its muddied ditch?

She addressed this subject at the Omega Institute's Design By Nature conference in Rhinebeck, New York recently, and kindly agreed to answer a few questions while she was in my neck of the woods. So, with the historic Hudson River Valley--widely regarded as the birthplace of the modern environmental movement--as our backdrop, I sat down with David for a chat about where our country's at.

Kerry Trueman: How does this new mission to revive dinner table discussions mesh with your environmental advocacy? Is conversation the gateway drug to conservation?

Laurie David: There are all kinds of environments. But the very first one we learn anything at is our family environment. I have teenage daughters, and I see from my own personal experience, how grateful I am that I insisted on this ritual of family dinner. It's not just about eating, it's about all the things that happen at the table that we're not even conscious of.

Thom Hartmann: The USA shouldn't be a death camp for the elderly!

Ben Kalina: Debate Over Development on Barrier Islands Intensified After Hurricane Irene


House GOP Renews Misguided Effort to Defund UNFPA, Risking the Lives of Millions of Women


by Valerie DeFillipo, Americans for UNFPA
August 27, 2011

On the heels of Vice President Biden’s recent trip to China, the GOP leadership of the House of Representatives issued a misguided ultimatum to President Obama: defund UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, or else.

UNFPA is an international development agency that promotes the right of every woman, man and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. UNFPA supports countries in using population data to develop policies and programs to reduce poverty, to strengthen reproductive health programs, and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, every young person is free of HIV, and every girl and woman is treated with dignity and respect. In a world where 215 million women want access to family planning services but do not have it, in which women make up the majority of those infected with and affected by HIV and AIDS, and in which complications of pregnancy remain the leading cause of deaths among women in many countries, UNFPA is needed more than ever before.

This is not a controversial agenda. In fact, it is one shown to be supported by the vast majority of Americans. As noted by a Guttmacher Institute Report, 91 percent of Americans believe that “every woman on the planet deserves access to quality maternal and reproductive health care.” Another found 89 percent in favor of “health care services, including access to basic health care and family planning services” as a way to promote economic development and advance the status of women and girls.

But as a result of misguided ideology and politics, and at a time when women's most fundamental rights are under assault, we have been thrust into a dangerous game of falsehoods versus reality- and the stakes are high. What is the life of one woman worth? When reproductive rights are politicized, the health and safety of every woman hangs in the balance.