Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Banksy on Public Advertising

You Are Not Ugly, So Don't Make Those 'Am I Ugly?' Videos


02/27/2012

You're not ugly.

Not in the least, so don't make those videos. Take them down if they are up. You don't need people to tell you how beautiful you are on there. You don't need to put yourself in the position to be judged that way. You are better than that, and you deserve the very best in life. If I could come through this screen and tell you and show you and bolster you and buoy you up and raise you high above all the bad sh*t you are going through, so that your spirit is free and you feel like you are flying, I would. I'd give anything if I could find a way to show you how lovely and perfect you are. If you'd believe me when I say that you are amazing, that you are the only you in the world, and that that makes you special and precious and holy, truly one of a kind, it would make me the happiest.

I thought I was so ugly for so long, and I wasted so much of my life on this dumb notion. I punished myself and avoided my reflection in mirrors and any windows. I would see myself reflected back, and I would look away, trying to pretend I didn't exist, because I hated myself so much. I hated the way I looked, and it started early on. My father found a school project from first grade where I had written on a photo of myself that I looked like a flat-faced mummy. Firstly, how does a kid that young know what a flat-faced mummy is? Secondly, I cry at my own self-judgement, and thirdly, I was such a cute kid. Imagine my face, and then miniaturize it in your mind until the age of 6. I know, f***ing adorable.

One day I looked at myself and thought: Sh*t, this is it. This is what I look like. No amount of self-hatred is going to change my appearance. I am who I am. I am stuck with this, and I have to love it, or else I am going to die early from my own suffering and idea that I got shortchanged in the looks department.

Why go through life feeling cheated? It does nothing but make you bitter. I don't want to be bitter. I want to be better. I want you to be better. I don't want you to waste all those years like I did. I didn't get to the point of feeling really good about myself until my 40s. That was pretty much 40 years of uninterrupted self-loathing that I had no need for. I never got to enjoy my youth; I was a gorgeous kid, and I missed it because I hated myself for no reason. I am kicking myself because I missed out on so much happiness because I had this idea that I was ugly that I couldn't shake, partly because others -- people who had their own issues with self-hatred and took it out on me -- supported it. I don't want you to miss out on a minute of your fantastic lives.

Ralph Nader: Raise the Minimum Wage


Posted on Feb 27, 2012

The Occupy movemenhttp://www.truthdig.com/report/item/nader_to_occupy_help_raise_the_minimum_wage_20120227/t may be able to forge a powerful alliance with millions of working men and women around a national call to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour. The drive to establish new encampments, while important, is going to be long and difficult. The ongoing efforts to stand up to the foreclosure and mortgage crisis, the marches to hold Wall Street accountable, the protests against stop-and-frisk policies in New York City or police brutality in Oakland, while vital, do not draw the numbers into the streets across the country needed to loosen the grip of the corporate state.

Some 70 percent of the public supports raising the minimum wage. This is an issue that resonates across political, ethnic, religious and cultural lines. It exposes the vast disparities in wealth and the gross inequalities imposed by our corporate oligarchy. The political elite during this election year, which needs to toss a few scraps to the voting public, might be pressured to respond. The two leading Republican candidates, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, say they support the minimum wage (although only Romney has called for indexing the minimum wage). Barack Obama promised during his 2008 election campaign to press to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2011, a promise that, like many others, he has ignored. But the ground is fertile.

“The 24-hour encampments, largely on public property, broke through,” Ralph Nader told me when we spoke of the Occupy movement a few days ago. “These encampments jolted the consciousness of the nation. But people began asking after a number of weeks what’s next. Once the movement lost the encampments, it did not have a second-strike readiness, which should be the raising of the minimum wage to $10 an hour.”

The federal minimum wage of $7.25, adjusted for inflation, is $2.75 lower than it was in 1968 when worker productivity was about half of what it is today. There has been a steady decline in real wages for low-income workers. Meanwhile, corporations such as Wal-Mart and McDonald’s, whose workforce earns the minimum wage or slightly above it, have enjoyed massive profits. Executive salaries, along with prices, have soared even as worker salaries have stagnated or declined. But the call to raise the minimum wage is not only a matter of economic justice. The infusion of tens of billions of dollars into the hands of the working class would increase tax revenue, open up new jobs and lift consumer spending.

Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe, ENDA Co-Sponsor, Is Not Seeking Re-Election


Posted by Chris Geidner
February 28, 2012

Maine Sen. Olympia Snowe (R) will not be seeking re-election, confirm Maine news outlets, meaning the loss of one of the most pro-LGBT equality members of the Senate Republican caucus -- and a possible pick-up for the Democrats.

According to The Portland Press Herald, Snowe said in a statement that "this was not an easy decision. My husband and I are in good health... I have no doubt I would have won re-election."

But, according to her statement, Snowe says she's frustrated "that atmosphere of polarization and 'my way or the highway' ideologies has become pervasive.

"Unfortunately, I do not realistically expect the partisanship of recent years in the Senate to change over the short term. So at this stage of my tenure in public service, I have concluded that I am not prepared to commit myself to an additional six years in the Senate, which is what a fourth term would entail."

Tell Harris Publications: Fire Vanessa Satten

Please go Here and Sign the Petition:

XXL Magazine has published a video of a 45-year-old rapper encouraging teenage boys to force themselves on underage girls. The graphic monologue is disturbing. So is the willingness of Harris Publications, which owns XXL, to give this kind of dangerous rhetoric a platform.

Join us in calling on Harris Publications to fire XXL Editor-in-Chief Vanessa Satten, who presides over the workplace culture that allowed such a grave misstep. When we do, we’ll send a message to the entertainment media industry that we won’t be silent when it broadcasts commentary that promotes sexual violence against girls and women.
-----

Here's the letter we'll send to Harris Publications President and CEO Stanley R. Harris on your behalf. You can add a personal comment using the box to the right.


Dear Harris Publications President and CEO Stanley R. Harris,

I am writing to ask that you fire XXL Editor-in-Chief Vanessa Satten for providing a platform for dangerous rhetoric that dehumanizes and demeans girls and young women. Under Satten’s leadership, XXL has become a place that promotes violent fantasies involving aggressive, hypersexual boys and preteen girls. I ask that you intervene now.

As you know, the XXL website posted a video interview with rapper Too $hort, who encouraged teenage boys to “turn girls out” by pushing “her up against the wall.” The 45-year-old rapper continued, graphically urging his audience to put their hands inside the underwear of middle school aged girls in order to achieve what he called “mind manipulation.” Your company, XXL, packaged the disturbing monologue under the headline, “Fatherly Advice From Too $hort.”

Rhetoric like this has real effects on girls in our communities. Three out of five Black girls have experienced sexual assault by the time they turn 18. Nearly a third of sexual assault and rape victims are between the ages of 12-17.

I am aware that the magazine has issued a vague apology, but that does not go far enough to hold Satten, the staff’s leader, accountable. It also does nothing to explain what you will do to make sure that sexual violence directed at girls and women is no longer promoted by XXL, King or any of your media companies.

Please act now to remove Satten from her post at XXL and explain what Harris Publications plans to do to make sure your audience isn’t again subjected to rhetoric that characterizes girls and women as playthings who can be fondled and otherwise abused whenever a boy or man pleases.

Sincerely,
[Your name]

Corporate Immunity Looks Likely: Supreme Court Seems Ready To Side With Shell In Human Rights Suit



Supreme Court Correspondent, Huffington Post
02/28/12

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court on Tuesday morning appeared divided along party lines, with a conservative majority ready to hold that corporations cannot be held accountable in federal courts for international human rights violations.

The Court was hearing oral argument in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum, which was brought under a founding-era law, commonly called the Alien Tort Statute, that allows foreign nationals to bring civil lawsuits in U.S. federal courts "for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States." The 12 Nigerian plaintiffs contend that Shell Oil's parent company aided and abetted the Nigerian government in its torture and extrajudicial killing of environmental and human rights protesters resisting Shell's operations in Nigeria in the 1990s.

The Alien Tort Statute says nothing about what types of defendants -- corporate, individual, state -- may be sued. In the past year, the four appeals courts to take on the issue of corporate liability have divided 3-to-1 in favor of those bringing the lawsuits. But Tuesday's oral argument reinforced the relevancy of another aspect of all these decisions: their partisan nature. Save one defection from each side, every Democrat-appointed judge held for corporate liability, and every Republican appointee found for corporate immunity.

At the very start of the Supreme Court's argument, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that "the case turns in large part" on Royal Dutch Petroleum's argument in its brief that "international law does not recognize corporate liability." He then pulled a quote from Chevron's brief in support of its fellow multinational oil company, which said, "No other nation in the world permits its court to exercise universal civil jurisdiction over alleged extraterritorial human rights abuses to which the nation has no connection."

"I was trying to find the best authority you have to refute that proposition," Kennedy told the Nigerians' lawyer, Paul Hoffman.

Continue reading at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/28/corporate-immunity-supreme-court-shell-kiobel-human-rights_n_1306825.html

Newt's Last Prayer: Christian Dominionists Go Gingrich


February 27, 2012
Four days after Newt Gingrich scrambled the Republican primary race with his surprise South Carolina win, a man named Dutch Sheets came forward to endorse the former House speaker, saying he was the only candidate with the “heart, experience, backbone, Constitutional brilliance and intellectual strength to defeat Obama and lead America back to greatness.” It was the kind of embrace that tends to make politicians skittish. After all, Sheets is a self-proclaimed apostle and a leading figure in a radical Christian movement, known as the New Apostolic Reformation, which teaches that Christians must infiltrate and take control of government and other worldly institutions to pave the way for Jesus’ return. And that’s just the beginning. Sheets also believes, among other things, that his prayers led directly to Saddam Hussein’s capture and that Washington is controlled by “antichrist” forces. As for Barack Obama, Sheets insists that he is Muslim and that his presence in the Oval Office is a sign that God has “turned us over to our enemies” as part of his “judgment on America.” His ultimate goal is to “raise up” an army of “kingdom warriors that are ready to do whatever it takes to bring forth [God’s] kingdom rule in the earth.”

During the last presidential race, both Obama and John McCain struggled to tamp down furor over their links to pastors with inflammatory teachings, so you might expect that Gingrich would be scrambling to distance himself from Sheets. In fact, the opposite is true. Gingrich has appointed Sheets co-chair of his Faith Leaders Coalition, the group charged with rallying the faithful behind his candidacy, and has been appearing with Sheets’s fellow apostles at events across the country—part of wide-ranging effort to forge ties with Dominionist leaders who believe America was founded as a Christian nation and that our government should be rooted in biblical law.

Gingrich didn’t always ally himself so closely with spiritual warriors. While he made common cause with religious conservatives during his reign as Speaker of the House, he was better known for his small-government, anti-tax policies and his bare-knuckle political wrangling. But as he has laid the groundwork for his presidential campaign, Gingrich—a onetime Southern Baptist turned devoted Catholic—has forged deep inroads with conservative Christians, particularly those who want our government to be infused with Biblical principles. In his 2006 book, Rediscovering God In America: Reflections on the Role of Faith in Our Nation’s History and Future, Gingrich made the case that our founders never intended church to be separated from state and that “the secular left has been inventing law and grotesquely distorting the Constitution” to push faith from government and the public square.

1950s Education On "Women"

America’s Top Magazines: Still Not Hiring Women


Feb 28, 2012

Vida, an organization devoted to examination and discussion of the roles women play in literature, has released its latest survey of the articles and reviews published by women in major magazines in 2011, and the results aren’t encouraging.

Of articles published by The Atlantic in 2011, 64 were by women and 184 were by men. In the Boston Review, the ratio was 60 to 131; in Harper’s, 13 to 65; in the London Review of Books 30 to 186; in The New Republic, 50 to 118; in the New York Review of Books a truly embarrassing 19 to 133; the New Yorker published 165 stories by women to 459 by men; and the New York Times Book Review printed 273 articles by women to 520 by men. The Nation, ostensibly a progressive publication, published 118 articles by women and 293 by men. Granta’s the only publication that’s close to parity—in fact, it published slightly more pieces by women than by men, 34 to 30. Perhaps some of these other publications should ask how Granta finds women, a task that appears so phenomenally daunting to the rest of the publishing world that it suggests that women, rather than man, are the most dangerous game.

New Mountaintop Removal Campaign Kicks Off in Washington, DC


Published on Tuesday, February 28, 2012 by Common Dreams

Besieged residents living amid the fallout of the mountaintop removal crisis in the central Appalachian coalfields are descending on Washington, DC today, as part of a new emergency health campaign calling for an immediate moratorium on “the toxic coal acquisition process that has been shown to be associated with heart-breaking birth defects, cardiac problems, lung problems and systemic failures in other human organs.”

Carting along reams of shocking peer-reviewed scientific studies that have been ignored by their own elected officials, the Appalachian Community Health Emergency (ACHE) marks the launch of a weekly frontline citizens initiative in Washington, DC with national human rights and health organizations to prod the Obama administration to enact a moratorium on mountaintop removal operations until a federal study and long-awaited Congressional hearings are carried out on the spiraling mountaintop removal mining health care crisis.

One of the most unnecessary environmental and human rights violations in the nation, mountaintop removal mining provides less than 5-7 percent of national coal production, while detonating millions of pounds of daily explosives that have ruined historic communities and watersheds in West Virginia, Kentucky, southwest Virginia and eastern Tennessee.

On the heels of a major new study by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy on the “stalled out” environmental movement, which urged major funders and foundations to support similar community-based groups most impacted by environmental injustice, the ACHE campaign is also a breakthrough effort of frontline coalfield groups to “kick start” environmental and civil rights groups and ramp up the movement to abolish devastating mountaintop removal mining operations.

“My generation deserves a healthy life,” said Ferg Kincaid, a 16-year-old from Fayette County, West Virginia who was joined by former coal mining families and afflicted community members with the Christians for the Mountains, Coal River Mountain Watch, and Mountain Health & Heritage Association, among other groups. “As long as Mountaintop Removal is going on, we don’t even have a chance.”

What Will Happen to the Republican Party? Michael Brooks

Monsanto Pays 93 Million to Victims In Settlement


February 27, 2012

Monsanto tentatively agreed to a $93 million settlement with some residents of Nitro, West Virginia. Nitro is a small town that got its name from manufacturing explosives during WWI. It was also the site of a Monsanto chemical plant that manufactured 2,4,5-T herbicide that was half of the Agent Orange recipe. Herbicide 2,4,5-T was contaminated with the caustic by-product dioxin. This settlement may open the floodgates to successfully suing Monsanto for its poison.

Nitro Settlement

Herbicide 2,4,5-T was phased out in the late 1970′s. Dioxin is the most dangerous chemical known and has a 100 year half-life when leached into soil or embedded in water systems. The Veteran’s Administration recognizes and pays out on Agent Orange injury claims that include cancer, birth defects in children of exposed victims, leukemia, liver disease, heart disease, Parkinson’s Disease, diabetes and chloracne.
Despite an explosion in the Nitro plant in 1949, not a single penny has been paid to residents of Nitro for dioxin injuries, per an attorney that worked on a previous dioxin case. After 7 years of litigation, and on the heels of the EPA releasing part of its dioxin assessment report, Monsanto has made a tentative agreement to settle a class action suit with some Nitro residents for a total of $93 million. Here are the proposed settlement figures:
  • Medical Testing: $21 Million
  • Additional Screening: $63 Million
  • Cleanup of 4500 homes: $9 Million
Bloomberg reports that this settlement will reduce Monsanto’s 2012 net income by 5 cents per share, but Monsanto may face additional lawsuits and fines. There are potentially 80,000 property damage claims alone that could cost Monsanto $3.9 billion in cleanup costs. Dioxin has contaminated soil and has been found in dust in residents’ homes at very high levels.

Why is Rick Santorum Pining for the Pilgrim/Theocrat days?

Texas TBagger Doctor Indicted In Largest Medicare Fraud In History


By Stu Hunter
Tue Feb 28, 2012

A Texas doctor was accused Tuesday in the largest Medicare fraud case in US history, with federal prosecutors charging him with scamming the government with $375 million in phony billings.

Justice Department officials announced that Dr. Jacques Roy was arrested in Texas and faces life in prison as well as fines of more than $250,000 if convicted.

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that Doctor Roy and his assistant, who was also charged, sent “recruiters” door-to-door in the Dallas area to get people to sign bogus medical forms that were then used in the alleged scam. The pair even went as far as to pay homeless people $50 each to sign the forms, according to the DOJ accusations.

Washington— Federal law enforcement officials announced what they called the largest healthcare fraud case in the nation’s history, indicting a Dallas area physician for allegedly bilking Medicare for nearly $375 million in billings for nonexistent home healthcare services.



Top Justice Department officials, working for several years to stem a rampant rise in healthcare fraud around the country, also revealed Tuesday that 78 home health agencies that were working with the physician, Dr. Jacques Roy, will be suspended from the Medicare program for up to 18 months.

FBI agents in Texas arrested Roy, of Rockwall, Texas, a physician for 28 years, and asked a federal judge in Dallas to keep him in custody until trial, citing his vast “bank accounts, a sailboat, vehicles and multiple pieces of property” as indications he may attempt to flee.

Facing life in prison and a $250,000 fine, as well as restitution of the vast sum of money he allegedly cost the federal government, Roy is to appear in court in Dallas later Tuesday.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

STUDY: Rich More Likely to Steal Candy from Babies

Sleeping pills increase risk of death, study suggests

Prescribed medications kill far more people each year than illegal drugs do.

It is impossible to over-dose on marijuana via any reasonable means of ingestion.

Why are drug companies allowed to kill upwards of a half million people a year while pot dealers get 20 years in prison?

Doctors call for rethink after large study finds prescribed pills could be associated with up to 500,000 extra deaths a year in US

, health editor
guardian.co.uk, Monday 27 February 2012

Doctors are calling for a rethink of the use of sleeping pills after a large study showed that the drugs carry a substantially increased risk of death for those who are prescribed them.

Commonly used sleeping pills, or "hypnotics", such as temazepam and zolpidem, which is prescribed for short-term insomnia, are associated with more than a fourfold risk of death, according to the study published in the BMJ Open journal.

The study was carried out in the US, where up to 10% of the adult population took sleeping pills in 2010. The authors estimate that sleeping pills may have been associated with 320,000 to 507,000 extra deaths in the US that year.

The researchers, led by Daniel Kripke from the Scripps Clinic Viterbi Family Sleep Centre in La Jolla, California, studied the population served by the largest rural integrated healthcare system in America, in Pennsylvania.

Over a two-and-a-half-year period, they compared the death rates among more than 10,500 people who received sleeping pill prescriptions with those of more than 23,600 others – matched for age, state of health and other factors – who had not received such medication. The average age of the study group was 54.

The scientists in the study found that even at a relatively low rate of prescription – fewer than 18 doses a year – those who were given the pills had a 3.5 times greater risk of death compared with those who were not prescribed them. Individuals who were given pills more frequently – between 18 and 132 doses in a year – were more than four times more likely to be dead at the end of the study. The risk of death for those on the most pills – 132 doses or more a year – was more than five times that of those on no pills.

CIA feeds us bad info on Iran nukes' - IAEA ex-head

U.S. Agencies See No Move by Iran to Build a Bomb


Published: February 24, 2012

WASHINGTON — Even as the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog said in a new report Friday that Iran had accelerated its uranium enrichment program, American intelligence analysts continue to believe that there is no hard evidence that Iran has decided to build a nuclear bomb.

Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier, according to current and former American officials. The officials said that assessment was largely reaffirmed in a 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, and that it remains the consensus view of America’s 16 intelligence agencies.

At the center of the debate is the murky question of the ultimate ambitions of the leaders in Tehran. There is no dispute among American, Israeli and European intelligence officials that Iran has been enriching nuclear fuel and developing some necessary infrastructure to become a nuclear power. But the Central Intelligence Agency and other intelligence agencies believe that Iran has yet to decide whether to resume a parallel program to design a nuclear warhead — a program they believe was essentially halted in 2003 and which would be necessary for Iran to build a nuclear bomb. Iranian officials maintain that their nuclear program is for civilian purposes.

In Senate testimony on Jan. 31, James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, stated explicitly that American officials believe that Iran is preserving its options for a nuclear weapon, but said there was no evidence that it had made a decision on making a concerted push to build a weapon. David H. Petraeus, the C.I.A. director, concurred with that view at the same hearing. Other senior United States officials, including Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have made similar statements in recent television appearances.

“They are certainly moving on that path, but we don’t believe they have actually made the decision to go ahead with a nuclear weapon,” Mr. Clapper told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Are You Living a McLife? And Would You Like Some Fries with That?


2012 February 27

WorldWide Hippies-Just think about it. It’s 2012. And most of us are living fast food, junk food lives. Oblivious to what’s out there beyond the fast food information sent to us by the big media corporations.

Take our news – most of us get it from the mainstream media – we see only what the big networks want us to hear about what’s going on in the world, the news which is brought to us by, for the most part, big entertainment corporations. They don’t want us to know what’s really going on in the world. And when someone comes in to threaten to take down the junk food vendors (anyone remember Wikileaks?) they’re taken out efficiently and quickly, so everyone believes their seeming discrediting. And what about all the sources, the news you’re missing? The international tragedies going on on a daily basis that don’t involve us, our corporations or oil interests?

Take our music. Who do you listen to? Who the big labels want you to hear. Which is damned few. (And those who look good and, these days, can dance, apparently). How many exceptional artists are there out there that have never and will never hear of because the big labels didn’t buy it and won’t sell it to you?

What do you read? What the big publishers want you to read. That get the reviews in the New York Times Book Review. That have all that advertising and PR money behind it. And how many awesome writers are there out there that you will never read because you never knew they existed?

I could go on and on. How many small merchants have been put out of business by the corporations which keep buying and merging with each other and keep getting bigger and bigger? How many neighborhood hardware stores are left? Independent car makers? Neighborhood bookstores? Neighborhood grocery stores? Damned few, and getting fewer every day. While the big corporations send half our jobs overseas, and the politicians wonder why the unemployment rate is so big.

So, why is this all happening? And how did we get to the point where we live McLives, experiencing life only through a bunch of mirrors and lights, experiencing only an illusion of what the world is really like? Because we’re busier than ever trying to make it, trying to survive. . Because we are spoon-fed by Big Media to buy what they’re selling. (It’s in their interest that we buy what they sell.) We don’t have time to sift behind the surface of what we’re fed on a daily basis. To question what they feed us. To go searching for the fuller, greater world out there of words, products, and ideas. Dammit, we’re all too busy trying to keep our heads above the surface to do much more than stumble home, flop down on the couch with our frozen TV dinners, open a Budweiser or glass of box wine, and turn on the Tube to relax, to rest our weary, worried minds.

Insuring a Climate-Ready Future


Monday, February 27, 2012

2012 kicked off with an unusually warm January across most of the US: fifteen states had “much above normal” temperatures, in the top 10% of warmest Januaries on record.

For many folks across the nation, the extreme weather of 2011 still haunts us with vivid images of the havoc wreaked on people’s lives. Today, NRDC is releasing an updated version of our Extreme Weather 2011 map, which now includes the whole year’s worth of extreme weather events.

A total of 3,251 monthly records were broken in 2011, including records for temperature, rainfall and snowfall. This includes a few zingers: the temperature in Truth or Consequences, NM on February 28th hit a scorching 99°F, breaking the prior record of 54°F by a whopping 45 degrees. In Elizabeth City, NC, the mercury also hit 99°F but on June 23rd, which broke the prior 2010 record temperature of 78°F by 21 degrees. And rainfalls in 2011 were also stunning: on May 29th, El Cajon, CA broke its prior monthly record by 9.22 inches, when nearly 10 inches (9.99”) of rain poured down in one day—but the previous record less than an inch (0.77”). The updated Extreme Weather 2011 map also links back to NRDC’s Climate Change Threatens Health website, where you can zoom in on these and other effects where you live.

These events have impacts that are manifesting in our daily lives. For example, because of the costs of the 2011 events, homeowner’s insurance rates are now rising nationally by up to ten percent in 2012, as reported recently by NPR. A webinar offered earlier this year on 2011’s “Natural Catastrophe Year in Review” by re-insurance giant MunichRe demonstrates the severity and scale of extreme weather events that are affecting the reinsurance industry as well.

The insurance industry isn’t known for being alarmist, but rather, for trying to protect their interests and their investments. Worldwide, the insurance sector does $4.3 trillion worth of business every year. And after the experiences of 2011, the global insurance industry is increasingly and seriously concerned about climate change. Companies like MunichRe insure the insurers, so you could say they’re doubly concerned.

MunichRe maintains the world’s most comprehensive database of natural catastrophes. And according to Munich Re, in 2011, these catastrophes across the world -—everything from earthquakes and tsunamis to hurricanes and floods -— cost the global economy the biggest price tag ever recorded: $380 billion. [Note that in their accounting, there’s no ledger column for pain, suffering, lives destroyed, and health-related costs.]

12m - Next Global Action 12 May 2012. We are the 99%....

Vandana Shiva: Create Food Democracy, Occupy our Food Supply


Monday, February 27, 2012

The biggest corporate takeover on the planet is the hijacking of the food system, the cost of which has had huge and irreversible consequences for the Earth and people everywhere.

From the seed to the farm to the store to your table, corporations are seeking total control over biodiversity, land, and water. They are seeking control over how food is grown, processed, and distributed. And in seeking this total control, they are destroying the Earth’s ecological processes, our farmers, our health, and our freedoms.

It starts with seeds. Monsanto and a few other gene giants are trying to control and own the world’s seeds through genetic engineering and patents. Monsanto wrote the World Trade Organization treaty on Intellectual Property, which forces countries to patent seeds. As a Monsanto representative once said: “In drafting these agreements, we were the patient, diagnostician [and] physician all in one.”

They defined a problem, and for these corporate profiteers the problem was that farmers save seeds, making it difficult for them to continue wringing profits out of those farmers. So they offered a solution, and their solution was that seeds should be redefined as intellectual property, hence seed saving becomes theft and seed sharing is criminalized. I believe that saving seeds and protecting biodiversity is our ecological and ethical duty. That is why I started Navdanya 25 years ago.

Navdanya is a movement to occupy the seed. We have created 66 community seed banks, saved 3000 rice varieties, stopped laws that would prevent us from seed saving, and fought against biopiracy.

Corporations like Monsanto have created a seed emergency. This is the reason I am starting a global citizen’s campaign on seed sovereignty. I hope you will all join. The lawsuit that 84 organizations, including Navdanya, have filed against Monsanto in New York through the Public Patent Foundation is an important step in reclaiming seed sovereignty.

Death Spiral: 'Greece stranded, won't survive'

Four Ways to Show How the "Religious Liberty" Claim Against Contraceptive Coverage Is Nonsense


by Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check
February 26, 2012

Nancy Scola has a piece at Salon on the Republican delusion that the newly loud anti-choice war on contraception can somehow be repackaged as “religious liberty” and sold to the public, accomplishing the real goal--undermining women’s fundamental right not to just basic health care but also to make their own sexual and family decisions--and dressing it up as a fight for freedom. The strategy is to cast “religious liberty” as such a broad right, held only by fundamentalist Christians, that it actually extends far past their noses and right into your face and beyond, into your uterus. In this view, women securing equal rights to fair compensation from employers and to comprehensive basic health care coverage is framed as a violation of the right of religious misogynists to control and punish them. It’s a bold tactic, and while many liberals, who are used to rolling over for the right and letting them have whatever they want, fear it’s going to work, there’s reason to be skeptical.

Well, some reason to be skeptical. It is true that if we roll over and let the right define religious liberty as the right to interfere with other people’s personal and religious choices, then we will lose. But if we fight, we can win. We just need to be clear on the arguments here. So I put together a quick rundown of how to argue for women’s basic right to equal protection under the Constitution in light of these new HHS regulations.

1) Women’s right to be sexual beings is protected under the First Amendment’s religious liberty clause. Yes, Catholic bishops and their teeny group of avid followers have a right to believe that God wants women to either be virgins or non-stop baby factories. But women have a right to believe that God has a different plan for them---or to not believe in a God at all. Women have equal rights to their own religious beliefs around sex and reproduction. The Catholic bishops demanding the right to force women not to be able to go directly through insurers for contraception coverage---in essence, giving them extra-governmental power to levy a fine against women for being sexual---is a direct violation of a woman’s religious freedom. These employers cannot require women to attend Catholic mass as a condition of their employment, so why should they be able to require women to pay what amounts to a penance for what the church teaches is a sin as a condition of their employment? Religious liberty exists for all Americans, even women.

Sierra Club Weekly News 02/27/12

Big Food Must Go: Why We Need to Radically Change the Way We Eat


This is not a problem we can solve by going vegetarian or vegan, or buying organic and fair trade.

February 26, 2012

It is no longer news that a few powerful corporations have literally occupied the vast majority of human sustenance. The situation is perilous: nearly all of human food production, seeds, food processing and sales, is run by a handful of for-profit firms which, like any capitalist enterprise, function to maximize profit and gain ever-greater market share and control. The question has become: What do we do about this disastrous alignment of pure profit in something so basic and fundamental to human survival?

It is time -- now, not next year -- to de-occupy Walmart. And Archer Daniels Midland. And Tyson Foods. And Monsanto. And Cargill. And Kraft Foods. And the other large corporations that decide what ends up on our plates. Take all our money out, public and personal, from our shopping dollars to school district lunch contracts to the corporate subsidies that uphold these firms' grip on our food supply, and invest it in a new system that's economically diverse and ecologically sustainable.

These corporations' stranglehold over food has wreaked havoc on the environment, our health, farmers, workers, and our very future. It is time for an end to Big Food, and a societal shift to something radically different. We all deserve a future where what we eat feeds community and land, instead of eroding soils, polluting water and air, and tossing away small farmers and immigrant workers as if they were balance sheet losers.

"Occupying the food system" has emerged as a rallying cry as activists and movements across the country, from Willie Nelson to more than 60 Occupy groups are turning up the heat on "big food" in nationwide actions today. Across the US, online and offline, thousands will be protesting icons of corporate control over food such as Monsanto and Cargill, and literally occupying vacant lots and tilling long-ignored soils in a mass-scale rejuvenation of community-led food production. (Find out more about the day of action here.)

"We want to ignite a robust conversation about corporate control of our food supply," says Laurel Sutherlin, communications manager for Rainforest Action Network, a lead organizer in this growing coalition of food system occupiers. "Occupy has opened a national dialogue about inequality and the dangers of surrendering our basic life-support systems over to corporate control."

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tropes vs. Women: #6 The Straw Feminist

The Help: "You've Come a Long Way Baby" Or How a Slightly Liberal White Woman Discovers the Noblity of Black Maids.

I haven't seen the movie. I really don't want to see the movie.

I have read about the movie.

Don't get me wrong. It was terrific to see a black actress take home an Oscar last night. How can you not think that is a good thing?

Do you know who the first African American person male or female to get an Academy Award as star or supporting star was?

It was Hattie McDaniel and the movie was that total white wash of the Civil War, "Gone With the Wind".

The year was 1940 and Hattie McDaniel got that award for playing "Mammy", a maid.

Seventy-two years.

Seventy-two years. As a child I grew up with a combination of images of Black people that I saw in the movies. The horribly racist images from Tarzan movies and the nobility of actors like Sidney Poitier and the beautiful Dorothy Dandridge.

Mostly though Black people in films were in the back ground. Musicians playing in Jazz bands or the help.

I grew up during the Civil Rights Era. I remember the images I saw on television and in the magazines like "Life" and "Look". I remember the Movement, hell the Civil Rights Movement was part of the reason I became a left wing activist.

The reason I am left wing is because the white supporters of the Civil Rights movement were left wing, hell in the period between the 1930s and 1960 many were full fledged Communist Party members, something that has been whitewashed out of history.

Indeed "Nigger-Loving Commie" was a standard slur thrown at the white people who actually put their bodies on the line and marched with African American people during that turbulent era.

But showing the level of hatred and bigotry, the terrorist campaigns waged by the same sort of right wing assholes who make racist slurs about President Obama, his beautiful wife Michelle and his lovely children get erased from history.

Along with the bigotry that gave us Jim Crow Laws. The same bigotry that is behind the war the conservatives are presently waging against public education.

Seventy-two years between Hattie McDaniel getting an Oscar for playing the wise Black maid and Octavia Spencer getting an Oscar for playing a wise Black maid.

Come on people... We can do better than this, but first we have to be honest about racism just like we have to be honest about how misogyny handicaps women and how the Class War the rich have been waging on working people and the poor has destroyed our hopes for a just society with equality and dignity for all.

Peace Love and Understanding

Philadelphia: Court filing: Cardinal Bevilacqua ordered shredding of memo identifying suspected abusers


By John P. Martin
Inquirer Staff Writer
Sat, Feb. 25, 2012

Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua ordered aides to shred a 1994 memo that identified 35 Archdiocese of Philadelphia priests suspected of sexually abusing children, according to a new court filing.

The order, outlined in a handwritten note locked away for years at the archdiocese's Center City offices, was disclosed Friday by lawyers for Msgr. William J. Lynn, the former church administrator facing trial next month.

They say the shredding directive proves what Lynn has long claimed: that a church conspiracy to conceal clergy sex abuse was orchestrated at levels far above him.

"It is beyond doubt that Msgr. Lynn was completely unaware of this act of obstruction," attorneys Jeffrey Lindy and Thomas Bergstrom wrote.

Their motion asks Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina to dismiss the conspiracy and endangerment charges against Lynn, or to bar prosecutors from introducing Bevilacqua's videotaped testimony at trial.

The cardinal died Jan. 31.

The revelation is likely to further cloud Bevilacqua's complicated legacy in the handling of clergy sex abuse and could shape what happens at the historic trial, the first for a cleric accused of covering up sex abuse. Jury selection began this week. Opening statements are March 26.

Santorum: Separation Of Church And State 'Makes Me Want To Throw Up'


02/26/2012

Rick Santorum on Sunday took on of separation of church and state.

"I don't believe in an America where the separation of church and state are absolute," he told 'This Week' host George Stephanopoulos. "The idea that the church can have no influence or no involvement in the operation of the state is absolutely antithetical to the objectives and vision of our country...to say that people of faith have no role in the public square? You bet that makes me want to throw up."

The GOP candidate was responding to comments he made last October. He had said that he "almost threw up" after reading JFK's 1960 speech in which he declared his commitment to the separation of church and state.

Complete article at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/26/santorum-church-and-state_n_1302246.html 



 Go sign the petition Below

500,000 Strong Against the Republican War on Women

 House Republicans have launched an all-out war on women since taking the Speaker's gavel. In just the last year, Republicans have:

  • Proposed redefining rape to limit women's access to health care
  • Voted to defund Planned Parenthood
  • Repeatedly tried to restrict women's health care choices
Now, Republicans are trying to silence women who stand against their radical agenda. House Republicans even held a panel on women’s access to birth control coverage with five men and NO WOMEN.

Sign our petition today telling Republicans to end their War on Women and ensure women’s voices are heard in discussions about women’s health care.


UPDATE: Less than 55,000 signatures to go until we hit 500,000!




Ghastly Outdated Party


Published: February 25, 2012

WASHINGTON

IT’S finally sinking in.

Republicans are getting queasy at the gruesome sight of their party eating itself alive, savaging the brand in ways that will long resonate.

“Republicans being against sex is not good,” the G.O.P. strategist Alex Castellanos told me mournfully. “Sex is popular.”

He said his party is “coming to grips with a weaker field than we’d all want” and going through the five stages of grief. “We’re at No. 4,” he said. (Depression.) “We’ve still got one to go.” (Acceptance.)

The contenders in the Hester Prynne primaries are tripping over one another trying to be the most radical, unreasonable and insane candidate they can be. They pounce on any traces of sanity in the other candidates — be it humanity toward women, compassion toward immigrants or the willingness to make the rich pay a nickel more in taxes — and try to destroy them with it.

President Obama has deranged conservatives just as W. deranged liberals. The right’s image of Obama, though, is more a figment of its imagination than the left’s image of W. was.

Newt Gingrich, a war wimp in Vietnam who supported W.’s trumped-up invasion of Iraq, had the gall to tell a crowd at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., that defeating Obama — “the most dangerous president in modern American history” — was “a duty of national security” because “he is incapable of defending the United States” and because he “wants to unilaterally weaken the United States.” Who killed Osama again?

Infiltration to Disrupt, Divide and Misdirect Is Widespread in Occupy


By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers
Posted on Feb 24, 2012

In the first five months, the Occupy movement has had major victories and has altered the debate about the economy. People in the power structure and who hold different political views are pushing back with a traditional tool—infiltration. Across the country, Occupies are struggling with disruption and division, attacks on key people, escalation of tactics to include property damage and police conflict as well as misuse of websites and social media.

As Part II of this discussion will show, infiltration is the norm in political movements in the United States. Occupy has many opponents likely to infiltrate to divide and destroy it beyond the usual law enforcement apparatus. Other detractors include the corporations whose rule Occupy seeks to end; conservative right wing groups allied with corporate interests; and members of the power structure including nonprofit organizations linked with corporate-funded political parties, especially the Democratic Party, which would like Occupy to be its tea party rather than an independent movement critical of both parties.

On the very first day of the Occupation of Wall Street, we saw infiltration by the police. We were leaving Zuccotti Park and were stopped in traffic. We saw the doors of an unmarked van open and in the front seat were two uniformed police. Out of the back came two men dressed as Occupiers wearing backpacks, sweatshirts and jeans. They walked into Zuccotti Park and became part of the crowd.

In the first week of the Occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., we saw the impact of two right wing infiltrators. A peaceful protest was planned at the drone exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution. The plan was for a banner drop and a die-in under the drones. But as protesters arrived at the museum, two people ran out in front, threatening the security guards and causing them to pepper spray protesters and tourists. Patrick Howley, an assistant editor at the American Spectator, wrote a columnbragging about his role as an agent provocateur. A few days later we uncovered the second infiltrator, Michael Stack, when he was urging people on Freedom Plaza to resist police with force. We later learned he was from the Leadership Institute, which trains youth in right wing ideology and tactics. We were told he had also been at Occupy Wall Street provoking violence.

There have been a handful of other reports around the country of infiltration. In Oakland, CopWatch filmed an Oakland police officer infiltrating.

In another video, CopWatch includes audiotape of an Oakland police chief, Howard Jordan, talking about how police departments all over the country infiltrate, not just to monitor protesters but to manipulate and direct them.

Santorum: Obama is ‘a snob’ who ‘wants everybody to go to college’

WTF? WTF?

Why is it snobbery to want people of all races and classes to have the opportunity to go to college? Especially at a time when education often makes the difference between a job and a life time of unemployment, crime and prison.

Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum wants working class both white and minority kids to be condemned to a life time of virtual slavery and poverty.

Ergo Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum hates hard working Americans.


By Andrew Jones
Saturday, February 25, 2012

GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum once again attacked President Barack Obama on wanting students to go to college Saturday morning, calling the president a “snob” on the campaign trail in Troy, Michigan.

Santorum spoke the tea party group Americans For Prosperity’s Michigan branch and received a round of applauds for his latest eye-brow raising statements.

“President Obama wants everybody in America to go to college, what a snob,” he said. “There are good, decent men and women who work hard every day and put their skills to the test that aren’t taught by some liberal college professor. And trying to indoctrinate them.”

Santorum doubled down on his comments from Thursday, saying “the indoctrination going on at the university level is a harm to our country” thanks to Obama.

Martha Plimpton: Stop Undermining Women's Health With Personhood Amendments and Ultrasound Laws


Posted Friday, Feb. 24, 2012

The Senate is slated to vote soon on legislation proposed by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) that would make it legal for any insurer or employer to deny insurance coverage for any medical treatment or service to which it has a “moral” objection. Obviously, this legislation is designed with one goal in mind: To undermine the fundamental principle behind the Affordable Care Act––that all Americans deserve a basic standard of health care coverage. Senator Blunt was inspired by the fight two years ago over the birth control benefit as part of women’s health care packages. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops took issue with this provision of the act, even though the Obama administration had already put in place exemptions for religious institutions similar to those in effect in multiple states for years. The president further amended the benefit to the satisfaction of religiously affiliated institutions like the Catholic Health Association.

Still, the Republicans had found their ideal wedge issue. And now, they are going to run with it.

But notice who is getting the most heat: women. Once again, amazingly, a culture war over women’s health, specifically, their sexual health, has been ignited. Without any serious economic argument against the provisions in the ACA, “matters of conscience” becomes the rallying cry. And women, as always, make the best target. It's easier to lecture women on sexual morality than it is to explain why all Americans shouldn’t have comprehensive, fair, and equal health care coverage. And it’s easier to wage a campaign of dis-information about Planned Parenthood and the Girl Scouts than it is to bring jobs back to your state.


It’s long been accepted as fact that the availability of family planning services saves lives. Where women have access to these services, children and families are healthier, and society at large benefits. So the question becomes, what is it exactly about family planning that upsets so many conservatives?

Most of the time, when you ask a conservative, their answer doesn’t even attempt to address matters of public health, or economics, or science, or even medicine. Instead, the moral concept of “consequences” gets thrown up. We are expected to believe that using birth control or the decision to have an abortion––for any reason––prevents us from learning the “consequences” of our actions, namely, of having sex. In other words, the argument goes, women are too ignorant, too thoughtless, and too confused to make decisions about their own bodies, so the state has an obligation to step in and teach them a moral lesson.

Continue reading at: http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2012/02/24/martha_plimpton_stop_undermining_women_s_health_with_personhood_amendments_and_ultrasound_laws.html?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=martha