Saturday, March 30, 2013

I'm a Victim of US Sex Education

Meet the College Racists Trying to Get Armed to 'Defend' Whites from Blacks on Campus

From Alternet:

Some seriously bigoted students at Towson University have formed a despicable ‘White Student Union’.

By Kristen Gwynne
March 29, 2013

Some seriously bigoted students at Towson University have formed a ‘White Student Union’ to save the campus from the threat people.  Led by a flaming racist who complained “Why can’t we just have segregation?” at CPAC, the White Student Union is being especially dillgent to protect (with force) pure white female bodies from the not-so-looming threat of Black rape. It’s like they watched the Birth of the Nation and thought it was a PBS documentary.

From their blog:
The frequent robberies, sexual assaults, and acts of vandalism at Towson University are not often reported in the local media. For those who are not Towson students it seems hard to fathom that every single day black predators prey upon the majority white Towson University student body. White Southern men have long been called to defend their communities when law enforcement and the State seem unwilling to protect our people.

The virtue of white Christian womanhood is under attack at Towson University by degenerate criminals seeking to rob our women of their God given innocence. Through armed thuggery the money of law abiding Towson students that is earned by the sweat of their brow is stolen and their lives threatened for simply walking down the street.
White Student Union member Scott Terry thinks Black people belong under threat of the white man’s gun, which he shoots at ranges with his fellow White Student Union racists. At CPAC, where the group first made headlines, Terrry mocked Frederick Douglass for 'forgiving' his former slave owner, asking “For what? For feeding him and housing him?"

His unapologetic displays of hate include his admission that he’d  " be fine" if black people were subservient to whites, because he believes white people are "systematically disenfranchised" by the law. He said, "The white, blue-collar vote is being completely ignored by Republicans." We all know how much the GOP loves people of color. 

Continue reading at:

US warns North Korea of increased isolation if threats escalate further

From The Guardian UK:

White House says US will not be intimidated by 'bellicose rhetoric' and is fully capable of defending itself and its allies

in Washington, Friday 29 March 2013

The White House warned North Korea on Friday that the rapidly escalating military confrontation would lead to further isolation, as the Pentagon declared that the US was fully capable of defending itself and its allies against a missile attack.

After North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declared that rockets were ready to be fired at American bases in the Pacific – a response to the US flying two nuclear-capable B2 stealth bombers over the Korean peninsula this week – the White House blamed Pyongyang for the increased tensions.

"The bellicose rhetoric emanating from North Korea only deepens that nation's isolation. The United States remains committed to safeguarding our allies in the region and our interests that are located there," deputy press spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters travelling with Barack Obama on Air Force One to Miami.
Asked if the joint US-South Korean military exercises and the use of the stealth bombers had fuelled the escalation, Earnest replied: "It's clear that the escalation is taking place from the North Koreans based on their rhetoric and on their actions."

The Pentagon said on Friday that the US would not be intimidated, and was ready to defend both its bases and its allies in the region. Lt Col Catherine Wilkinson, a Pentagon spokesperson, said the US would not be intimidated. "The United States is fully capable of defending itself and our allies against a North Korean attack. We are firmly committed to the defence of South Korea and Japan," she said.

Secretary of state John Kerry will visit the region in a week or so for meetings with Japan, China and South Korea, the State Department said.

Continue reading at:

North Korea now says it is in ‘state of war’ with South Korea

I just watched Red Dawn: The Remake.  Really pretty unreal action movie, escapist fair.  Except the North Koreans have declared a state of war with South Korea.

Outside of perhaps Iran is there any other country on the planet less likely rouse sympathy from anyone in the US, with the possible exception of the RCP?

I mean really?

EPA to review flame retardants amid growing safety concerns

From The Guardian UK:

Investigation comes after recent studies linked flame retardants – found in many household items – to serious health risks

, US environment correspondent, Friday 29 March 2013

The Obama administration is to review the safety of 20 flame retardants used in a host of common household items, from baby products and children's pyjamas to sofa cushions.

The review, to be carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency, follows growing concern about the widespread use of such chemicals, after studies linking flame retardants to cancer, lower IQ, developmental problems, and decreased fertility.

"Americans are often exposed to flame retardant chemicals in their daily lives," the EPA said in its announcement of the risk assessment. "EPA is committed to more fully understanding the potential risks of flame retardant chemicals, taking action if warranted, and identifying safer substitutes when possible."

Eleven states are considering laws to ban toxic flame retardants, in response to hundreds of studies over the last four decades pointing to the health and environmental dangers.

The chemicals migrate out of household products, and are inhaled as dust, or ingested by young children who put things in their mouths.

They also linger in the environment turning up in the tissue of baby seals and other marine animals.

Campaigners said the announcement by the EPA was an important first step controlling chemicals that have become extraordinarily widespread, despite the dangers.

The Centres for Disease Control recently detected flame retardants in the blood or urine of virtually every person tested for the substances. A study published last month found elevated cancer risks among firefighters exposed to high levels of flame retardants during house fires.

"It's wonderful progress, but it's not over," said Susan Shaw, director of the Marine Environmental Research Institute, who led the study on the California firefighters.

Continue reading at:

Friday, March 29, 2013

Friday Night Fun and Culture: Kat Edmonson

This weekend is dead.  I understand the Christians are celebrating some sort of barbaric event or something.  

For me it is just another cloudy day, somewhere between winter and summer. Spring fest...  It's really more about the food.

I love having On Demand.

Oh well next weekend Kat will be at the Kessler in Oak Cliff and we have tickets.

New Documents Contradict Regnerus' Claims on Gay Parenting Study

From The Austin Chronicle:

Emails reveal close collaboration between Regnerus and Witherspoon Institute

By Brandon Watson, Fri., March 29, 2013

For social conservatives, it was a watershed moment. Faced with declining public support, they had long sought for science to confirm that same-sex households are not a suitable family arrangement. With his New Family Structures Study (NFSS), released last year, UT associate professor of sociology Mark Regnerus seemed to make the case with a clarion blast. According to his research, children raised in same-sex homes fared worse than those raised by opposite-sex parents – showing a higher propensity for drug and tobacco use, alcohol abuse, depression, and thoughts of suicide. With scholarship backing the right's message, it was not difficult to get the media to listen.

But LGBT advocacy groups were listening, too. After the reporting of the NFSS results, several were quick to highlight problems in the research – arguing that the study was not adequately peer-reviewed, and, importantly, that it had much less to say about "same-sex" relationships than about unstable marriages; as Amy Davidson summarized in a blog post for The New Yorker: "If this study shows anything, it's not the effect of gay parenting, but of non- or absentee parenting."

Other critics pointed out that the research was funded by the socially conservative Bradley Foundation, as well as the Wither­spoon Institute. Although a subsequent University of Texas review found no inappropriate influence, recently released documents (in response to open-records requests by the American Indepen­dent News Network) reflect that Witherspoon's relationship with the study was cozier than Regnerus had let on.

In the initial NFSS report, Regnerus insisted that Witherspoon "played no role at all in the design or conduct of the study, the analysis, the interpretation of the data, or in the preparation of [the] manuscript." He subsequently upped the rhetorical ante, claiming, "I have always acted without strings from either organization [Bradley or Wither­spoon]. Any allegations that the funders might have improperly influenced me are simply false." However, the emails released by UT detail a close working relationship between Regner­us and Brad Wil­cox, Witherspoon's director of the Program on Marriage, Family, and Democracy.

In a September 2010 correspondence with Regnerus, Wilcox relays budgetary decisions on behalf of Witherspoon, approving several items related to the study, including possible scholarly collaborators and the length of study proposal. In a July 2011 email, Regnerus speaks of a joint decision to pay an unidentified person $15,000 to "co-analyze and co-author the report."

Continue reading at:

The supreme court's problem: how to back America out of anti-gay bigotry

From The Guardian UK:

Opponents of same-sex marriage don't like civil rights analogies. Tough luck: Doma is unconstitutional because it's unjust, Thursday 28 March 2013

US supreme court observers groaned when the well-regarded and Peabody Award-winning put the chances of the supreme court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (Doma) at 80%. As far as predictability goes, supreme court decisions are somewhere between next week's weather and Tilda Swinton's career choices. Maybe, SCOTUSblog was itself playing at a little performance art, a commentary on the search for specificity and certainty in a series of cases that deal primarily with the ineffable realm of human emotions. Love, to be sure, but also the fear and unease, if not outright bigotry, that love flies in the face of.

It's a sign of progress, perhaps, that that defenders of Proposition 8 and Doma would just as soon pretend that emotions have nothing to do with their arguments. In some darker age, they might have been able to build a case that the "love" was, in fact, the thing that distinguished a heterosexual relationship from a homosexual one. That darker age was, of course, last year, when Protect Marriage Maine campaigned against that state's referendum to allow same-sex marriage with a statement that included the assertion:
"The basis of homosexuality centers around anonymous sexual encounters … it is largely predatory."
Protect Marriage Maine scrubbed its site of that statement fairly quickly. In general, defenders of "traditional marriage" have learned to couch their arguments with increasing circumspection when it comes to outright judgments of morality. This has led, ironically, to a crude emphasis on the corporal: the central, almost only, basis for defending Proposition 8 lay in heterosexual couples being baby-makers – or, in the words of lawyer for the defense Charles Cooper:
"The state's interest and society's interest in what we have framed as responsible procreation is – is vital, but at bottom, with respect to those interests, our submission is that same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples are simply not similarly situated."
Let it be known for evermore that it was the defenders of traditional values that forced the highest court in the land to ponder just how it is that "with respect to procreation" – "at bottom", no less – same-sex and opposite-sex couples are "not similarly situated". Do I need to draw you a map?

Continue reading at:

In Supreme Court, anti-gay movement is humiliated

From Salon:

Both sides of the marriage fight were presented on a national stage this week. It wasn't even close

Thursday, Mar 28, 2013
It didn’t take long for the empty truth about the discriminatory Defense of Marriage Act to be exposed Wednesday, and there was little equality opponents could do. At the Supreme Court hearing, Elena Kagan, the newest justice, read from the House Report from Congress when it passed the law in 1996, which summarized DOMA’s entire legal underpinning: “Congress decided to reflect and honor a collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality.” According to people in the room, there were gasps and laughter at the so-called “gotcha moment.”

It was a duh moment, but a necessary one. Yes, DOMA’s about discrimination. That disapproval of gay people, not tradition or government uniformity, is at the root of the act is blatantly obvious both to anyone who observed it at the time and to everyone who has changed their Facebook profile photo this week. But it needed to be set out on a national stage, a few feet away from rainbow-festooned children asking what the big deal was. This week, both sides put forward their best cases and it quickly became clear the opposition to equality is based not on law or reason, but bigotry.

Throughout the hearing, the justices focused on issues of standing and administrative law and federalism, apparently looking for a way out. But whether the Court punts or not, it’s already given the country an opportunity to see just how empty and discriminatory the case against marriage equality is, at a moment where opponents have to give it their best shot. Put aside all the diversionary tactics, the crazy theories about marriage being reserved for shotgun weddings for straights, the baseless claim that this is about the children. Even if it’s not in the briefs, their argument boils down to this: Gay people are gross, let’s put off anything suggesting otherwise for as long as we can.

Paul Clement, who was appointed by the House to defend the law President Obama won’t, responded to Kagan, “Sure, the House Report says some things that we are not — we’ve never invoked in trying to defend the statute.” In other words, Clement and the House saw no purchase in trying to defend the, well, original intent of the law.

Marriage equality opponents claimed that with DOMA, the federal government was just trying to set a uniform standard while the states did their thing, and that this was about the democratic process. But as Solicitor General Donald Verrilli pointed out, “There are no genuine administrative benefits to DOMA. If anything, Section 3 of DOMA makes federal administration more difficult,” because of a patchwork of state laws. He added, “And the fundamental reality of it is, and I think the House report makes this glaringly clear, is that DOMA was not enacted for any purpose of uniformity, administration, caution, pausing, any of that.”

Continue reading at:   

See Also:  Salon:   There isn’t a “right time” to strike down DOMA 

No More Steubenvilles: How To Raise Boys to be Kind Men

From Yes Magazine:

What can we do to help young men respect women, recognize consent, and have healthy sexual relationships? Teach them kindness to others—and the courage to go against the crowd.
posted Mar 18, 2013
When Max was just a few months old, I sat cross-legged on the floor with him in a circle of other mothers.  The facilitator for our “Mommy and Me” playgroup would throw a question out to the group, and we would each volley back an answer.

“What quality do you want to instill in your child?  What personality characteristic would you most like for your son to be known for?” she asked.

One by one, the mothers answered.  “Athletic”, “Good sense of humor”, “Brave”, “Smart”, “Strong”.
The answers blended together until it was my turn to speak.  I looked down at the tiny human wiggling around on the blanket in front of me, his perfectly round nose, his full lips that mirrored mine.  I stroked the top of his very bald head, and said with confidence: “kind”.

I want my son to grow up to be kind.

The eyes of the other mothers turned toward me.  “That’s not always a word that you hear used for boys” one said.  “But yes, you’re right … so I guess, me too”.  At the end of the day, we wanted our tiny, fragile, helpless baby boys to grow up to be kind. Strong, resilient, athletic, funny … but above all else, kind.
Max is almost 4 years old.  He knows nothing about the horrific things that young men did to a young woman on the saddest night that Steubenville, Ohio, has ever seen. He doesn’t know, but I sure do.  I know that someone’s daughter was violated in the most violent way possible, by someone’s son.  By many sons.  The blame for that night falls squarely on the shoulders of the young men who made terrible choices, but it also falls in the laps of their parents.

Sexual assault is about power and control.  But it is also about so much more.  While it’s true that big scary monster men sometimes jump out of bushes to rape unsuspecting women, most rapists look like the men we see every day.  Acquaintance rape (or date rape) accounts for the majority of sexual assaults among young people: in colleges, in high schools, at parties, in the cars and bedrooms that belong to the men who women trust.  These men are your fraternity brothers, your athletes, your church-going friends.  They are somebody’s son.

Continue reading at:

See Also:  Raw Story:  Former Steubenville NAACP leader: ‘Alleged victim’ was ‘drunk’ and asking to get raped

Sam Harris simply destroys catholicism

Cruel and Unusual Punishment: The Shame of Three Strikes Laws

The senseless often racist cruelty of the three strikes laws are straight out of Victor Hugo's Les Misérables.

From Rolling Stone:

While Wall Street crooks walk, thousands sit in California prisons for life over crimes as trivial as stealing socks

By Matt TaibbiMarch 27, 2013

n July 15th, 1995, in the quiet Southern California city of Whittier, a 33-year-old black man named Curtis Wilkerson got up from a booth at McDonald's, walked into a nearby mall and, within the space of two hours, turned himself into the unluckiest man on Earth. "I was supposed to be waiting there while my girlfriend was at the beauty salon," he says.

So he waited. And waited. After a while, he paged her. "She was like, 'I need another hour,'" he says. "So I was like, 'Baby, I'm going to the mall.'"

Having grown up with no father and a mother hooked on barbiturates, Wilkerson, who says he still boasts a Reggie Miller jumper, began to spend more time on the streets. After his mother died when he was 16, he fell in with a bad crowd, and in 1981 he served as a lookout in a series of robberies. He was quickly caught and sentenced to six years in prison. After he got out, he found work as a forklift operator, and distanced himself from his old life.

But that day in the mall, something came over him. He wandered from store to store, bought a few things, still shaking his head about his girlfriend's hair appointment. After a while, he drifted into a department store called Mervyn's. Your typical chain store, full of mannequins and dress racks; they're out of business today. Suddenly, a pair of socks caught his eye. He grabbed them and slipped them into a shopping bag.

What kind of socks were they, that they were worth taking the risk?

"They were million-dollar socks with gold on 'em," he says now, laughing almost uncontrollably, as he tells the story 18 years later, from a telephone in a correctional facility in Soledad, California.

Really, they were that special?

"No, they were ordinary white socks," he says, not knowing whether to laugh or cry. "Didn't even have any stripes."

Continue reading at:

Slick, Paranoid Tea Party Video Aims for Violent Insurrection

From Alternet:

Fear walks the land, and the Tea Party Patriots are here to package and sell it.

By Richard (RJ) Eskow
March 26, 2013

Attendees at last week’s Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) were reportedly thrilled by a short sci-fi video depicting a dictatorial near-future government and the underground "Movement on Fire" that springs up to resist it. The video, a thinly veiled advertisement for violent insurrection from the “Tea Party Patriots" group, boasts professional acting and Hollywood production values. But underneath its bright, professional sheen lurk dark overtones of End Times paranoia that will resonate with millions of American fundamentalists. Its apocalyptic imagery is as ancient as Revelations, its glossy look as modern as a Revlon ad, and its near-subliminal barrage of rapid-cut imagery rings with the terror-fueled sermons of 1,000 preachers.

Complete article at:

Here's the video:

Wall Street Lobbyists Worried Sherrod Brown Could Become Banking Committee Chairman

From Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON -- The departure of Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) has left a vacancy atop the powerful panel that could fall to one of Wall Street's most outspoken foes, a possibility that has bank lobbyists fretting.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), whose call to break up and cap the size of major banks has spooked Wall Street, is behind three senators who would have dibs on the gavel, but all three are likely to bypass the opportunity. A Brown chairmanship would also be a boost to his ally Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), strengthening her hand on the panel. Brown's office didn't immediately return a request for comment.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) is first in line, but is widely expected to take the Armed Services chairmanship instead. A West Point graduate, Reed has a passion for Pentagon issues, and the plum chairmanship will open in 2015 thanks to the retirement of Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.).

Next in line is Sen. Chuck Schumer. The fate of the chairmanship hinges on the decision of the New York senator, known to some as "Wall Street Chuck." Seizing the gavel could undermine Schumer's ability to ultimately ascend to majority leader by alienating the growing progressive wing in the Democratic caucus. Passing the opportunity to Brown, on the other hand, could win him friends for a future bid. "It is possible. All up to Schumer," one senior Senate Democratic aide said on background, when asked about the possibility of Brown taking over.

Continue reading at:

Sen. Bernie Sanders targets 'too big to jail' banks

How Big Corporations Are Unpatriotic

From Common Dreams:

by Ralph Nader
Published on Thursday, March 28, 2013 by Common Dreams

Many giant profitable U.S. corporations are increasingly abandoning America while draining it at the same time.

General Electric, for example, has paid no federal income taxes for a decade while becoming a net job exporter and fighting its hard-pressed workers who want collective bargaining through unions like the United Electrical Workers Union (UE). GE’s boss, Jeffrey Immelt, makes about $12,400 an hour on an 8-hour day, plus benefits and perks, presiding over this global corporate empire.

Telling by their behavior, these big companies think patriotism toward the country where they were created and prospered is for chumps. Their antennae point to places where taxes are very low, labor is wage slavery, independent unions are non-existent, governments have their hands out, and equal justice under the rule of law does not exist. China, for example, has fit that description for over 25 years.

Other than profiteering from selling Washington very expensive weapons of mass destruction, many multinational firms have little sense of true national security.

Did you know that about 80 percent of the ingredients in medicines Americans take now come from China and India where visits by FDA inspectors are infrequent and inadequate?

The lucrative U.S. drug industry – coddled with tax credits, free transfer of almost-ready-to-market drugs developed with U.S. taxpayer dollars via the National Institutes of Health – charges Americans the highest prices for drugs in the world and still wants more profits. Drug companies no longer produce many necessary medicines like penicillin in the U.S., preferring to pay slave wages abroad to import drugs back into the U.S.
Absence of patriotism has exposed our country to dependency on foreign suppliers for crucial medicines, and these foreign suppliers may not be so friendly in the future.

Continue reading at:

Self-Replication at Stake in Bowman v. Monsanto

From Truth Out:

By Simon Davis-Cohen
Thursday, 28 March 2013

Davis-Cohen's reading of the Supreme Court hearing of arguments in Bowman v. Monsanto suggests that the essential philosophical, ethical and moral questions underlying the case were not and will not be addressed by the court.

Self-replication is a requirement for the continuation of life itself. When species participate in the replication of other species - when we plant our favorite tomato, when a butterfly pollinates its favorite flower - it is said that they co-evolve. This power to co-evolve and self-replicate is inherent, yet we find ourselves with our backs against the wall, fighting to retain it. In Bowman v. Monsanto, the US Supreme Court will soon decide who has rights to Genetically Modified (GM) seeds' power to self-replicate.

On February 19, 2013, the Supreme Court heard arguments on whether patent law extends to the offspring of GM seed and self-replicating "technologies." The case involves Monsanto, a corporation that genetically modifies plant genes, patents those genes and then sells GM seed and the pesticides the seed has been genetically modified to resist to farmers, versus a farmer, Hugh Bowman, who planted descendants of Monsanto seed without the corporation's permission. Monsanto, whose former vice president Michael Taylor is the deputy commissioner for foods at the Food and Drug Administration, argued that its patent on the GM genes within the original seed was violated when Bowman planted and replicated the progeny of that seed. Bowman argued that those who purchase seed not only have a right to the crop from the original seed but also that crop's ability to self-replicate.

The case has gained attention not only because of the implications for self-replicating technologies but also because of the philosophical questions attached. Computer software can self-replicate. GM genes, through their living host, can self-replicate. Plants self-replicate. But where does life end and technology begin? When does a GM species have rights; when is it property? And what rights do species that co-evolved with previously unmodified species have, if any? When is something an autonomous creature, free to self-replicate, and when is it a technology whose self-replicates can be patented and owned by another?

Addressing Marc Walters, Bowman's attorney, Justice Stephen G. Breyer set the tone of the oral argument: "I'll give you two [things] that you can't do [with the patented seeds]. One, you can't pick up those seeds that you've just bought and throw them in a child's face. You can't do that because there's a law that says you can't do it. Now, there's another law that says you cannot make copies of a patented invention." Farmers that buy Monsanto seed, Justice Breyer argued, only have rights to the crop of the original seed, but these rights are limited in that they do not include the right to plant that second generation to make a third.
Monsanto owns generation 1, which it sells to a farmer to plant. The farmer owns generation 2 and reaps the rewards or shortcomings of the crop. But who owns generation 3?

Continue reading at:

Thursday, March 28, 2013

How We Got to the Supreme Court

From The Huffington Post:


Twenty years ago this July, I went to Hawaii to cover the lawsuit that launched the first salvo in the current war over marriage equality, ultimately leading to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Proposition 8 and, this week, arguments before the Supreme Court: Several gay and lesbian couples took the then-extraordinary step of suing the state of Hawaii, claiming gender discrimination because they were denied marriage licenses. The case crashed like a tsunami across the mainland. Anti-gay zealots rode the wave of homophobia while gay advocates in Washington gasped for air, drowning in anxiety.

The article I wrote, which appeared in the December 1993 issue of Out, focused on Hawaii's history, politics and culture and how it had ultimately led to that moment, as well as on the strains that the couples' actions caused among gay activists on the mainland. Incidentally, four out-of-context sentences from my 11,000-word article have been used by anti-gay crusaders to attack gay marriage over and over again for two decades and were even read just this past fall on the floor of the Colombian Senate by an anti-gay politician when that country debated same-sex marriage.

More on that deceptive, pathetic action by the anti-gay crusaders later. What I want to say first is that the path to the Supreme Court by gay marriage advocates is a lesson for every movement. What took the LGBT rights movement to this moment, and indeed what has taken us to moments of truth and potential victory more often than not, are those who went against the established leaders and groups and ultimately pushed an agenda from the grassroots.

The couples in Hawaii in the early '90s, who ultimately received the support of LGBT people across the U.S., did something that had the major gay groups in Washington of the time up in arms. The groups were focused on making incremental change, mostly on getting a hate crimes bill and a watered-down employment nondiscrimination bill passed as the first major pieces of legislation to protect gay people. (That employment bill, now the Employment Non-Discrimination Act [ENDA], still has not passed). The idea of fighting for marriage seemed just crazy and, to them, bound to cause a backlash that would distract them and immerse them in something they didn't plan on.

Continue reading at:

In Challenge to Roe v. Wade, North Dakota Enacts Law Banning Nearly All Abortions

Morning-After Pill Flash Mob Hits NYC Pharmacy

'States' Rights' Is Also Code for Keeping Women Down

From Women's E-News:

The term has served as a legal code for racism. Today, historian Doris Weatherford writes that state lawmakers have also long imposed legal restrictions on U.S. women. Now it's the framework for the shrinkage of access to reproductive health care and medical privacy.

By Doris Weatherford
Monday, March 25, 2013

(WOMENSENEWS)--Throughout U.S. history, "states' rights" was a convenient code for racism.
Conservative politicians railed that legal changes in favor of African Americans were a violation of "states' rights." Southerners especially contended that their state legislatures had a right to laws that discriminated against people born with the wrong skin color.

Yet rarely is the phrase states' rights seen also as a code to legitimize the violation of women's rights, even though every woman gains or loses the right to make decisions about her own body when she crosses state lines.

Just last week, North Dakota lawmakers banned the termination of pregnancies that are beyond six weeks--when a woman barely knows whether or not she has missed her period.

Because men cannot get pregnant, such laws do not apply to them, and the conflict between women's rights and states' rights continues.

The legal point should have been resolved by the 14th and 15th Amendments in the 1860s, but a century passed before the majority of Americans agreed that the federal government should overrule racially discriminatory state laws. A hundred years after the Civil War ended in 1865, nonwhites finally saw the promise of true liberty with the passage of the 1965 Civil Rights Act.

While almost everyone today sees states' rights as an antiqued philosophy, astonishingly few see that it also is key to understanding women's rights. Historians don't teach it that way, and so this vast aspect of U.S. history goes unacknowledged.

From the nation's beginning, though, statehood meant a step backwards for most women. In the colonial era of the 1600s, women freely went to court and argued their own cases. But under new state governments, many women lost their right to sue.

Continue reading at:

Boston College threatens to discipline students for giving out condoms

From Raw Story:

By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Boston College administrators are threatening to bring disciplinary action against a group called BC Students for Sexual Health over their insistence upon giving away free condoms and sexual health information, saying the practice violates the school’s Catholic values.

Students received a letter on March 15 from the college’s dean of students and director of residence life ordering them to stop their so-called “safe sites” program run where male and female condoms are distributed for free, according to The Boston Globe.

The letter explained that while the administration realizes the students “may not be intentionally violating university policy, we do need to advise you that should we ­receive any reports that you are, in fact, distributing condoms on campus, the matter would be referred to the student conduct office for disciplinary action by the university.”

Complete article at:

Sexism in the workplace is alive and well: Adria Richards is its latest victim

From The Guardian UK:

When women like Adria Richards speak out against sexism and misogyny, they're met with rape threats and/or fired, Tuesday 26 March 2013

The Adria Richards story isn't a new one: Woman publicly says something about sexism. The internet hordes descend. Woman is on the receiving end of rape and death threats. Woman disappears for a while, sometimes forever. Commentators who believe themselves to be "reasonable" pontificate on everything woman could have done differently to avoid such a fate, and suggest that women who object to sexism or sexualized workplaces just need to have a sense of humor. Or be less difficult. Or ask politely for change. Or don't get so hysterical. Or be less sensitive because the internet is a mean place, and rape threats are just words.

Adria Richards. Kathy Sierra. Anita Sarkeesian. Zerlina Maxwell. Wash, rinse, repeat.

The details of the latest incarnation of this story involve Adria Richards, a developer evangelist for the company SendGrid. Adria went to the PyCon conference last weekend, and during a talk overheard two men sitting behind her making dumb sexual jokes about dongles and forking. She turned around and took their picture, then posted it on Twitter along with a basic summary of what they said. PyCon conference organizers intervened and said the situation was "dealt with".

Unfortunately, it didn't end there. One of the jokesters was fired from his job. The other, who worked at the same company, was not. Angry about this apparent travesty, internet harassers came out in full force. Richards' own site and that of her employer, SendGrid, were subject to denial-of-service attacks. Richards was personally bombarded with rape and murder threats. Someone sent her a photo of a naked, decapitated bound woman's body with the caption "When I'm done." A concerted effort began on 4chan to get Richards fired. Instead of standing up for an employee in the face of rape and death threats, SendGrid caved. It fired Richards because, in short, she was a trouble-maker.

Of course it's possible to disagree with Richards' actions while still focusing on the real problem: misogyny online and in tech spaces. But it's really not possible to pontificate at length on what Richards should have done without obscuring the fact that when women speak out, we're met with rape threats.

Continue reading at:

See Also:

Counter Punch: Combating Sexism in the Technology Community: The Day Adria Richards Said 'Not This Time!'

BuzzFeed:  A Woman Walks Into A Tech Conference

Capitalism in Crisis: Richard Wolff Urges End to Austerity, New Jobs Program, Democratizing Work

Scientists Link Harsh Winters to Dramatic Decline in Arctic Ice

From Common Dreams:

New satellite images show Arctic sea ice extent nearing minimum ever recorded

Lauren McCauley, staff writer
Published on Monday, March 25, 2013 by Common Dreams

As the Eastern Seaboard of the United States bears the brunt of yet another late season snow storm, a growing body of research proves that the record decline in Arctic sea ice has played a "critical role" in the large and southerly snowfalls of recent years.

 Satellite images published Monday by the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado, confirm that the ice extent is close to the minimum ever recorded for this time of year.
"The sea ice is going rapidly. It's 80% less than it was just 30 years ago," said Jennifer Francis of the Rutgers Institute of Coastal and Marine Science. "There has been a dramatic loss."

She goes on to explain that the rapid decline in sea ice is what is affecting the jet stream and leading to the extreme weather currently being experienced in the mid-latitudes.

"It allows the cold air from the Arctic to plunge much further south. The pattern can be slow to change because the [southern] wave of the jet stream is getting bigger. It's now at a near record position, so whatever weather you have now is going to stick around."

Adding to her assertion, in a report published earlier this month in the Proceedings in the National Academy of Scientists, researchers confirm that global-warming induced sea ice loss is causing changes in the "winter Northern Hemisphere atmospheric circulation," including the jet stream, which allows cold Arctic air to reach further south and causes "more frequent episodes of blocking patterns that lead to increased cold surges over large parts of northern continents."

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Monsanto and the Seeds of Suicide

From The Asian Age:

by Vandana Shiva Mar 27, 2013

“Monsanto is an agricultural company. We apply innovation and technology to help farmers around the world produce more while conserving more.”

“Producing more, Conserving more, Improving farmers lives.”

These are the promises Monsanto India’s website makes, alongside pictures of smiling, prosperous farmers from the state of Maharashtra. This is a desperate attempt by Monsanto and its PR machinery to delink the epidemic of farmers’ suicides in India from the company’s growing control over cotton seed supply — 95 per cent of India’s cotton seed is now controlled by Monsanto.

Control over seed is the first link in the food chain because seed is the source of life. When a corporation controls seed, it controls life, especially the life of farmers.

Monsanto’s concentrated control over the seed sector in India as well as across the world is very worrying. This is what connects farmers’ suicides in India to Monsanto vs Percy Schmeiser in Canada, to Monsanto vs Bowman in the US, and to farmers in Brazil suing Monsanto for $2.2 billion for unfair collection of royalty.
Through patents on seed, Monsanto has become the “Life Lord” of our planet, collecting rents for life’s renewal from farmers, the original breeders.

Patents on seed are illegitimate because putting a toxic gene into a plant cell is not “creating” or “inventing” a plant. These are seeds of deception — the deception that Monsanto is the creator of seeds and life; the deception that while Monsanto sues farmers and traps them in debt, it pretends to be working for farmers’ welfare, and the deception that GMOs feed the world. GMOs are failing to control pests and weeds, and have instead led to the emergence of superpests and superweeds.

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Gas Industry Report Calls Anti-Fracking Movement a “Highly Effective Campaign”

From Yes Magazine:

A report intended to help the oil and gas industry squash the anti-fracking movement turns out to be full of useful information—and admits that much of what activists are saying is true.

posted Mar 26, 2013
Communities working to stop a controversial gas drilling process are getting what sounds like encouragement from an unlikely source: a report prepared for the oil and gas industry on the risks posed by those communities themselves. Even more bizarre than a risk assessment about grassroots activists is one that basically admits the activists are right.

Control Risks, the global risk and strategic consulting firm that conducted the report, calls itself “independent,” but it makes its alliances clear in the first few sentences. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, could bring “a golden age of cheap, plentiful energy for a resource-constrained world,” writes senior global issues analyst Jonathan Wood, “but only if it makes it out of the ground.”

Entitled “The Global Anti-Fracking Movement: What It Wants, How It Operates, and What’s Next,” the 2012 report uses the term “battlegrounds” to describe more than thirty countries on six continents where the issue of fracking is being debated. Its warnings about the dangers of ignoring the anti-fracking movement were likely a motivator behind last week’s so-called truce between four gas companies and a handful of environmental groups in the Appalachian Basin. Shell, Chevron, CONSOL Energy, and EQT Corporation joined with the Environmental Defense Fund, the Clean Air Task Force, and a few others to form the Center for Sustainable Shale Development. The Center will monitor the 15 environmental standards for fracking agreed upon by the alliance and will certify drilling operations that voluntarily comply with the standards.

Although the report is intended to provide gas companies with a plan for squashing the anti-fracking movement, people concerned about the environment or public health will find it worth reading for at least three reasons (besides entertainment). It contains reams of hard data about the movement, it identifies the tactics that have been most successful so far, and it ultimately backs up many of the movement’s key arguments.

The report assembles a wealth of information about fracking and the movement against it. It begins with a world map in which shale gas reserves are colored blue. This reveals huge stores of gas buried beneath areas such as Tibet, southern Brazil, Libya, and almost the entirety of South Africa. Just a glance gives a global perspective on what the anti-fracking movement is really up against.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Supreme Court Proposition 8 Case Arguments Cast Doubt On Gay Marriage Ban

From Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON -- Justice Anthony Kennedy on Tuesday called the prospect of same-sex marriage “uncharted waters” during oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on Proposition 8, California’s gay marriage ban.

"And you can play with that metaphor," Kennedy said, continuing that in that consideration, "There's a wonderful destination" or "a cliff."

Prop 8 was the California ballot referendum passed in November 2008 that banned same-sex marriage, reversing by popular vote the state Supreme Court's decision just months earlier to recognize marriage equality.

Kennedy seemed genuinely interested in that “wonderful destination” and mortified by the prospect that there still might be a cliff. He acknowledged that while the social science on gay marriage is relatively new, there is an “immediate” legal harm to those same-sex couples who cannot be married. He said the voice of thousands of children of same-sex couples is an important aspect of the case.

“They want their parents to have full recognition and legal status,” Kennedy told Charles J. Cooper, who is representing supporters of Prop 8’s ban on gay marriage. “The voice of those children is considerable in this case, don’t you think?”

Kennedy also expressed deep doubts that Prop 8, and same-sex marriage bans in general, present "no harm of denigration" against gays and lesbians.

Before the justices even reached the merits of the constitutional case for same-sex marriage, Chief Justice John Roberts instructed both advocates to argue whether the parties defending Prop 8 had legal standing.

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The gay marriage snowball and political change

From The Guardian UK:

The shockingly rapid and radical collapse of the anti-gay framework demonstrates the baselessness of defeatism, Tuesday 26 March 2013

The US Supreme Court this morning is hearing oral argument in two cases challenging the constitutionality of laws that discriminate against same-sex couples. It is expected that the Court will at least strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, as multiple lower courts have done, on the ground that it denies equal government benefits to same-sex couples (such as immigration rights). Over the past two weeks, numerous national Democratic politicians, led by Hillary Clinton and joined by other centrist to conservative senators, announced that they have changed their minds and now support marriage equality, a move tellingly perceived as an attempt to get on "the right side of history". All of that was preceded by a reliably right-wing GOP Senator, Rob Portman, doing the same by citing his gay son. Marriage equality is a position the US president and his party formally endorse, and polls continue to show dramatic increases in public support to the point where it is now a position affirmed by a large majority of Americans. It's conventional wisdom that national gay marriage is inevitable; the tipping point has clearly been reached.

It really is a bit shocking how quickly gay marriage transformed from being a fringe, politically toxic position just a few years ago to a virtual piety that must be affirmed in decent company. Whenever I write or speak about any of the issues on which I focus, I always emphasize that a posture of defeatism - which is a form of learned impotence: a belief that meaningful change is impossible - is misguided. This demonstrates why that is true: even the most ossified biases and entrenched institutional injustices can be subverted - if the necessary passion and will are summoned and the right strategies found.

I don't want to overstate the lesson here. There are reasons why such radical change on this issue is easier than on many others. Social issues don't threaten entrenched ruling interests: allowing same-sex couples to marry doesn't undermine oligarchs, the National Security State, or the wildly unequal distribution of financial and political power. Indeed, many of those ruling interests, led by Wall Street and other assorted plutocrats (including Obama's donor base), became the most devoted advocates for LGBT equality. If anything, one could say that the shift on this issue has been more institution-affirming than institution-subverting: the campaign to overturn "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" continually glorified and even fetishized military service, while gay marriage revitalizes a traditional institution - marriage - that heterosexuals have been in the process of killing with whimsical weddings, impetuous divorces, and serial new spouses (as Rush Limbaugh might put it: I'd like you to meet my fourth wife). And these changes are taking a once marginalized and culturally independent community and fully integrating it into mainstream society, thus making that community invested in conventional societal institutions.

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Why Is Gay Marriage Different Than Abortion?

From Raw Story:

By Amanda Marcotte
Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Supreme Court is hearing arguments about DOMA and Prop 8 today, and there’s a lot of anticipation now, especially since they could truly use this opportunity to not only strike down these laws but also to make same-sex marriage a right held by all Americans. Unsurprisingly, same-sex marriage opponents are grimly warning pro-gay people that a win in the courts is going to backfire, an argument I find asinine on many levels.

The long-standing opposition to abortion rights post-Roe has nothing to do with the haste in which the Supreme Court moved to protect women’s rights. Let’s give our opponents the dignity of assuming they aren’t that stupid; their opposition to women’s rights is genuine, and not a temper tantrum over process. That said, I do think there’s a strong reason to believe that, unlike abortion, once conservatives lose the legal battle over same-sex marriage, they’ll probably give up, much as they did on the question of interracial marriage.

The reason is that conservatives are obsessed with appearances, far more than liberals, who tend to have an ideal of reconciling reality and appearances. That’s how conservatives can prattle about waiting for sex until marriage while 95% of Americans—including most people engaging in the prattle—have sex before marriage. This kind of social hypocrisy is held by both right and left—for instance, both Democrats and Republicans use drugs while supporting drug prohibition—but tends to be more of a thing for folks on the right. That’s why conservatives are fond of abortion bans. Abortion is a private medical choice, and so it’s easy enough to secretly get an abortion while publicly denouncing abortion rights. For well-off conservatives, abortion will always be an option, even if it’s banned, because you can just pay a discreet doctor to do it or travel to Canada.

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