Saturday, August 31, 2013

Blowing In The Wind (Live On TV, March 1963)


What Awaits Chelsea Manning as She Begins Her Sentence as the Military's First Openly Trans Woman?

From Truth Out:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/18486-what-awaits-chelsea-manning-as-she-begins-her-sentence-as-the-militarys-first-openly-trans-woman

By Victoria Law
Friday, 30 August 2013


"I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible." These were the words of Chelsea Manning, the day after she was sentenced to 35 years for leaking classified military documents. (Manning had been arrested, tried and sentenced in a military court as Bradley Manning.) 

The military responded to Manning's statement with its own: "The Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder."

Manning likely will serve her sentence at Fort Leavenworth, the only military prison for those sentenced to ten or more years, a military spokesperson told The Associated Press. Fort Leavenworth is a men's military prison in Kansas. As reported in Truthout, chances seem slim that Manning will be able to begin hormone therapy anytime soon. But what else awaits Chelsea Manning as she begins her 35-year sentence as the first openly trans woman at the US Detention Barracks (USDB) at Fort Leavenworth?

Access to Hormones in State and Federal Prisons and the Eighth Amendment

 Manning attorney David E. Coombs has publicly stated that he hopes the military "would do the right thing" and provide hormone therapy for Manning. "If Fort Leavenworth does not, then I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure they are forced to do so."

Coombs may be able to draw on legal precedents that have forced the federal and state prison systems to change policies about hormone treatment. After Wisconsin passed a 2005 law barring trans prisoners from receiving hormone therapy or sex reassignment surgery, advocacy groups sued the state on behalf of trans prisoners, some of whom had received hormones for years prior. In 2010, a federal court ruled that denying trans prisoners to hormones and other medical treatment violated the Eighth Amendment. The US Supreme Court affirmed that decision in 2011.

That same year, a settlement agreement forced the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which oversees the federal prison system, to change its policy to allow an individualized assessment, evaluation and treatment of prisoners for "gender identity disorder." Before that, only people who had been diagnosed with "gender identity disorder" previously and were receiving documented hormone treatment were eligible for in-prison hormone therapy.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/18486-what-awaits-chelsea-manning-as-she-begins-her-sentence-as-the-militarys-first-openly-trans-woman

While Cameron Defers to Parliament, Obama Locks into Warfare State of Mind

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/08/30

by Norman Solomon


The British Parliament’s rejection of an attack on Syria is a direct contrast—and implicit challenge—to the political war system of the United States. 

“It is clear to me that the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that, and the government will act accordingly,” Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday night. At least for now, Uncle Sam’s poodle is off the leash.

Now all eyes turn to Congress, where the bar has suddenly been raised. Can the House of Representatives measure up to the House of Commons?

It’s a crucial question—but President Obama intends to render it moot with unwavering contempt for the war authority of Congress. Like his predecessors.

Even with war votes on Capitol Hill, the charade quotient has been high. The Gulf War began in early 1991 after the Senate vote for war was close: 52 to 47. But, as the PBS “Frontline” program reported years later, President George H.W. Bush had a plan in place: if Congress voted against going to war, he’d ignore Congress.

“The president privately, with the most inner circle, made absolutely clear he was going to go forward with this action even if he were impeached,” said Robert Gates, who was deputy national security advisor. “The truth of the matter is that while public opinion and the voice of Congress was important to Bush, I believe it had no impact on his decision about what he would do. He was going to throw that son of a bitch [Saddam Hussein] out of Kuwait, regardless of whether the Congress or the public supported him.”

By the Pentagon’s estimate, the six weeks of the Gulf War took the lives of 100,000 Iraqi people. “It’s really not a number I’m terribly interested in,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Colin Powell, said at the time.

Eight years later, the War Powers Act’s 60-day deadline for congressional approval of U.S. warfare expired on May 25, 1999—but large-scale U.S. bombing of Yugoslavia continued. Bill Clinton was unable to get authorization from Congress but, like other wartime presidents before and since, he ignored the law that was passed in 1973 to constrain autocratic war-making. Republican Rep. Tom Campbell said: “The president is in violation of the law. That is clear.” Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich said: “The war continues unauthorized, without the consent of the governed.” And President Clinton said, in effect, I don’t care.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/08/30

UK Asked New York Times To Destroy Edward Snowden Documents

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/30/uk-new-york-times-destroy-snowden_n_3844706.html

Reuters  Posted:
By Mark Hosenball
WASHINGTON, Aug 30 (Reuters) - The British government has asked the New York Times to destroy copies of documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden related to the operations of the U.S. spy agency and its British partner, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), people familiar with the matter said.

The British request, made to Times executive editor Jill Abramson by a senior official at the British Embassy in Washington D.C., was greeted by Abramson with silence, according to the sources. British officials indicated they intended to follow up on their request later with the Times, but never did, one of the sources said.

On Friday, in a public statement, Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, said his newspaper, which had faced threats of possible legal action from British authorities, on July 20 had destroyed copies of leaked documents which it had received from Snowden.

Rusbridger said that two days later, on July 22, the Guardian informed British authorities that materials related to GCHQ had made their way to the New York Times and the independent investigative journalism group ProPublica.

Rusbridger said in his statement that it then took British authorities "more than three weeks before anyone from the British government contacted the New York Times.

"We understand the British Embassy in Washington met with the New York Times in mid-August - over three weeks after the Guardian's material was destroyed in London. To date, no-one has contacted ProPublica, and there has been two weeks of further silence towards the New York Times from the government," Rusbridger said.


Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/30/uk-new-york-times-destroy-snowden_n_3844706.html

Randy Newman - Mr Sheep


Are Evangelicals Who Commit Adultery Restored to the Pulpit Because They are Religious Money Machines?

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/belief/are-evangelicals-who-commit-adultery-restored-pulpit-because-they-are-religious-money

Sam Hinn is just one in a long line of preachers and pastors in need of rehabilitation and who desired restoration after sexual and financial shenanigans.

By Bill Berkowitz August 29, 2013

When it comes to being restored, re-ordained and returned to the pulpit after confessing to a four-year extramarital affair with a member of his congregation, Sam Hinn, the younger brother of well-known televangelist and faith healer Benny Hinn, may have set a new speed record for fallen evangelical leaders. 

Older brother Benny is a big-time brand, squirrelling the spotlight for a good chunk of his professional life, and his ministry reels in extraordinary amounts of money. He's traveled the globe, bought mansions, and has lived the good life. He's also experienced a fair amount of controversy along the way; his prophesies have been way off the mark, including one made in 1989 that Fidel Castro wouldn't outlast the 1990s; he was one of a group of televangelists whose financial shenanigans inspired an investigation by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa); and, two years ago, he was accused of being involved in a messy extramarital affair with Paula White—another well-known televangelist—an accusation that threatened his worldwide ministry. Hinn self-recovered and is back televangelizing. 

Now, younger brother Sam, who compared to Benny is a minor figure in the world of evangelicals, is grabbing some kinky headlines of his own. 

An affair made in heaven

"Chantel Wonder said [Sam] Hinn... initiated the affair with her mother by telling her they were 'soul mates' and that God approved of the relationship," the Orlando Sentinel reported in January. It should be noted that one of Sam Hinn's claims to fame is that he has a personal relationship with God, ergo Sam's assurances to her that God had pre-approved the affair. 

"He put her in a position that this is OK because it's what God wants. He was using God to justify it." Her mother is a hairstylist who eventually styled hair for Hinn's wife and children. 

According to the Orlando Sentinel, "Wonder said her father became aware of the affair in December 2008 after he found text and voice messages from Hinn on his wife's phone. At the time, his wife denied the affair. The couple, who were married June 20, 1980, divorced on Feb. 14, 2012. 

"Wonder said Hinn, who is married and has four children, continued the affair after her parents divorced. She said church officials confronted Hinn with evidence of the affair in December 2012, but he refused to admit he was involved with the woman. 

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/belief/are-evangelicals-who-commit-adultery-restored-pulpit-because-they-are-religious-money

'Sex is Not About Fun' Says Tea Party Speaker Jerome Corsi


Poverty Has Same Effect On The Brain As Constantly Pulling All Nighters

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/08/30/2555601/living-poverty-effect-brain-constantly-pulling-nighters/

By Bryce Covert
on August 30, 2013


The mental strain of living in poverty and thinking constantly about tight finances can drop a person’s IQ by as much as 13 percent, or about the equivalent of losing a night of sleep, according to a new study. It consumes so much mental energy that there is often little room to think about anything else, which leaves low-income people more susceptible to bad decisions.

One of the study’s authors, Harvard economist Sandhil Mullainathan, told the Washington Post, “Poverty is the equivalent of pulling an all-nighter. Picture yourself after an all-nighter. Being poor is like that every day.”

The researchers came to this conclusion after conducting two separate experiments. The first gave low- and moderate-income shoppers at a mall in New Jersey a number of tests that measure IQ and impulse control, but half of the participants were first given a question about finances: what they would do if they needed to make $1,500 worth of repairs on their car, putting financial concerns at the forefront of their minds. They found that it reduced cognitive performance among the poor participants but not those who are well-off.

The second experiment looked at the cognitive functions of farmers in India before the harvest, when they are poor, and after the harvest, when they have much more money. The same farmer performs lower on cognitive ability before than he does after — which researchers say “cannot be explained by differences in time available, nutrition, or work effort” nor by stress. Instead, it appears to be poverty reducing their mental capacity.

A past study came to a similar conclusion: It found that scarcity can sap mental capacity and lead to short-term decision-making over long-term considerations.

Continue reading at:  http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2013/08/30/2555601/living-poverty-effect-brain-constantly-pulling-nighters/

Putting Labor Back in Labor Day

From The New York Times:  http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/29/fast-food-workers-on-strike/?_r=3

By TERESA TRITCH
August 29, 2013


The fast food strikes that began last November in New York City with walkouts by 200 workers expanded and spread to other cities in the spring and summer. On Thursday, thousands of workers in 60 cities went on a one-day strike. The demands were the same, only amplified — higher pay, to $15 an hour, and the right to organize without retaliation.

There are many reasons to support the strikers. There’s the still resonant goal — expressed by those who marched on Washington 50 years ago — of ensuring that work leads to a decent standard of living. That’s not achievable at today’s federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, or at the typical  wage for fast food workers, about $9.00  an hour. If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation over the past 50 years, it would be about $10 an hour today. If it had kept pace with the growth in average labor productivity, it would be about $17 an hour. Split the difference and you are not far from what the strikers are calling for.

Another reason to support the strikers is economic self-interest. The low wages of fast food workers — and of workers in retail, home care and other low-wage industries — force many of them onto food stamps and other public assistance to get by. Taxpayers step up with aid because employers don’t pay enough.
There’s also the fact that fast food corporations — McDonald’s, Yum Brands (which includes Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC), Wendy’s — can afford to pay more. The chief executives of McDonald’s and Yum are among the nation’s highest paid bosses. Wendy’s profits have been soaring lately. The corporations invariably say that individual franchisees set wages and franchisees say they can’t afford to pay more without raising prices, which they say would drive away customers and lead to job loss. But wages aren’t the franchisees’ only cost. They also pay rent and royalties to their corporate bosses. How about lowering those costs to create room for raises?


Of course such changes would lead to lower profits and that would translate into lower executive pay and lower shareholder returns. But we’re talking about big,profitable companies, which are big and profitable in part because they rely on underpaid labor.

Continue reading at:   http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/29/fast-food-workers-on-strike/?_r=3

Just say no to nuclear power – from Fukushima to Vermont

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/29/nuclear-power-dangers-fukushima-vermont

Fukushima showed us the intolerable costs of nuclear power. The citizens of Vermont show us the benefits of shutting it down

theguardian.com, Thursday 29 August 2013

Welcome to the nuclear renaissance.

Entergy Corp, one of the largest nuclear-power producers in the US, issued a surprise press release Tuesday, saying it plans "to close and decommission its Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Vernon, Vermont. The station is expected to cease power production after its current fuel cycle and move to safe shutdown in the fourth quarter of 2014." Although the press release came from the corporation, it was years of people's protests and state legislative action that forced its closure. At the same time that activists celebrate this key defeat of nuclear power, officials in Japan admitted that radioactive leaks from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe are far worse than previously acknowledged.
"It took three years, but it was citizen pressure that got the state Senate to such a position", nuclear-energy consultant Arnie Gundersen told me of Entergy's announcement. He has coordinated projects at 70 nuclear plants around the country and now provides independent testimony on nuclear and radiation issues. He explained how the state of Vermont, in the first such action in the country, had banned the plant from operating beyond its original 40-year permit. Entergy was seeking a 20-year extension.

The legislature, in that 26-to-4 vote, said: 'No, we're not going to allow you to reapply. It's over. You know, a deal's a deal. We had a 40-year deal.' Well, Entergy went to first the federal court here in Vermont and won, and then went to an appeals court in New York City and won again on the issue, as they framed it, that states have no authority to regulate safety.
Despite prevailing in the courts, Entergy bowed to public pressure.

Back in 2011, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, who called Entergy "a company that we found we can't trust", said on "Democracy Now!": 

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/29/nuclear-power-dangers-fukushima-vermont

Friday, August 30, 2013

Friday Night Fun and Culture: Labor Songs for Labor Day Weekend














Same-Sex Married Couples To Get Federal Tax Recognition Regardless Of State

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/29/same-sex-couples-federal-taxes_n_3837444.html



WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of the Treasury announced Thursday that when it comes to taxes, it will recognize same-sex couples' marriages even if they live in a state that does not.
The decision, which was prompted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, marks the latest political progress for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. 

Prior to this spring, the Internal Revenue Service did not recognize same-sex married couples pursuant to section 3 of DOMA. Once DOMA was overturned in June, the question became: What about same-sex married couples who moved to a state that didn’t recognize their marriage (a couple married in Massachusetts who moved to Arkansas, for example)?

Thursday’s ruling by Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew provides a uniform policy for the IRS; the state of celebration -- where the wedding took place -- now trumps the state of residency when it comes to federal tax status for same-sex married couples. 

“Today’s ruling provides certainty and clear, coherent tax filing guidance for all legally married same-sex couples nationwide. It provides access to benefits, responsibilities and protections under federal tax law that all Americans deserve,” Lew said in a statement. “This ruling also assures legally married same-sex couples that they can move freely throughout the country knowing that their federal filing status will not change.”

The new policy, which was first shared by Lew in a conference call that included LGBT advocates, holds a bit of political significance. It was the burden of federal tax law on same-sex couples, after all, that prompted the legal challenge to DOMA in the first place. 

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/29/same-sex-couples-federal-taxes_n_3837444.html

Gay Spouses Have Equal Access To Nursing Facilities Through Medicare, HHS Memo States

From On Top:  http://www.ontopmag.com/article.aspx?id=16260&MediaType=1&Category=26

Carlos Santoscoy
Published: August 29, 2013


The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on Thursday issued a memo clarifying that gay spouses have equal access to skilled nursing facilities through Medicare Advantage.

The policy change comes two months after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which prohibited federal agencies from recognizing the legal marriages of gay and lesbian couples.

“HHS is working swiftly to implement the Supreme Court's decision and maximize federal recognition of same-sex spouses in HHS programs,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. “Today's announcement is the first of many steps that we will be taking over the coming months to clarify the effects of the Supreme Court's decision and to ensure that gay and lesbian married couples are treated equally under the law.”

As of Thursday, private companies that contract with Medicare to cover services offered in a skilled nursing facility must provide equally coverage to all legally married couples, regardless of whether the state that they live in allows gay couples to marry.

“Today, Medicare is ensuring that all beneficiaries will have equal access to coverage in a nursing home where their spouse lives, regardless of their sexual orientation,” said Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “Prior to this, a beneficiary in a same-sex marriage enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan did not have equal access to such coverage and, as a result, could have faced time away from his or her spouse or higher costs because of the way that marriage was defined for this purpose.”

Is the NSA surveillance program really about spying on environmentalists?

Or is it more like Cointelpro:  Disrupt, demoralize and destroy.

Like the newly minted Eco-Feminist/Radical Feminists and their attacks on TS/TG people within the environmental movement.

From Grist:  http://grist.org/news/is-the-nsa-surveillance-program-really-about-spying-on-environmentalists/

By 26 Aug 2013
At the Guardian, Nafeez Ahmed, executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development, has an idea about what might be driving the massive expansion of the NSA’s domestic surveillance program that we’ve learned so much about lately. It’s not concerns about religious fundamentalists who hate America. Instead, he suggests, the government is worried about environmental activism:
But why have Western security agencies developed such an unprecedented capacity to spy on their own domestic populations? Since the 2008 economic crash, security agencies have increasingly spied on political activists, especially environmental groups, on behalf of corporate interests. This activity is linked to the last decade of US defence planning, which has been increasingly concerned by the risk of civil unrest at home triggered by catastrophic events linked to climate change, energy shocks or economic crisis — or all three.
Who would have thunk? It turns out the U.S. government is worried about climate change, after all. At least if being worried about climate change lets them use all their cool spy gear.

Across the government, security professionals are fretting about natural disasters and global oil shortfalls, Ahmed explains. The Department of Defense has written that “climate change, energy security, and economic stability are inextricably linked.” They’re nervous about what this means: What are people going to do when they realized they’re, to use the technical term, totally screwed? The Army’s Strategic Studies Institute has suggested that, in the case of a total freak-out, it might be necessary to “use of military force against hostile groups inside the United States.”

Who are those hostiles? Why, they might just be environmentalists.


The government tends to see environmentalists in one of two ways. They’re either harmless hippie treehuggers who can easily be ignored or dangerous eco-terrorists who need to be watched. The defense and intelligence people incline toward the latter view.

Continue reading at:  http://grist.org/news/is-the-nsa-surveillance-program-really-about-spying-on-environmentalists/

Could this explain the Radical Feminist trans-hatred cropping up at Deep Green Resistance?

See Deep Green Resistance: Kim D.: The Violence of GenderFAQ: Radical Feminism

The NYPD Division of Un-American Activities

From New York Magazine:  http://nymag.com/news/features/nypd-demographics-unit-2013-9/

After 9/11, the NYPD built in effect its own CIA—and its Demographics Unit delved deeper into the lives of citizens than did the NSA.


By Matt Apuzzo & Adam Goldman Published Aug 25, 2013
 
On the morning of September 11, the detectives of the New York Police Department’s Intelligence Division traveled in force toward the burning towers of the World Trade Center, the biggest crime scene in American history, to find absolutely nothing for themselves to do. The city had been quickly cordoned off. Some made it as far as Chambers Street. Others were stopped at Canal Street. “Stand by,” they were told. They milled about for hours, waiting for orders that never came. Finally, a contingent of officers was dispatched toward ground zero with garbage cans to collect guns and equipment left by fallen first responders. 

Later in the day, a group of them gathered at the Police Academy, where Deputy Chief John Cutter told them to start contacting their informants. At that moment, it may have been the only possible command—which didn’t mean it was a useful one. Despite the name, the Intelligence Division was mostly concentrated on gangs and drug dealers, as well as providing a glorified chauffeur service for visiting dignitaries. International terrorism had never been part of their purview.

But they had to start somewhere, and the detectives did what they were told, reaching out to their network of informants—dope dealers and gang members—to ask what they knew about the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history.

For the next few months, the Intel cops worked alongside the FBI out of makeshift command centers aboard the decommissioned USS Intrepid and in an FBI parking garage, where detectives sat on the concrete floor, responding to a flood of tips pouring in from a public consumed with the possibility of another attack, questioning Muslims whose neighbors suddenly deemed them suspicious.

When Ray Kelly was sworn in as police commissioner in January 2002, one of his first goals was to eliminate that kind of aimless fumbling. The first man to rise from cadet to police commissioner and the first person to hold the top job twice, Kelly was police commissioner under Mayor David Dinkins, when terrorists detonated a truck bomb in the garage below the World Trade Center’s North Tower in 1993.

Continue reading at:  http://nymag.com/news/features/nypd-demographics-unit-2013-9/

Obama Pushes for Attack on Syria, But US Media 'Beats the Drums of War'

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/08/27-2

The whispers and public statements might be coming from the White House and Pentagon, but it seems US media outlets are the real amplifiers of the call to bomb Syria

Jon Queally


What the US media still doesn't know about the use of chemical weapons in Syria last week has done little to keep it from accepting statements from the US government with barely a whiff of the skepticism one would expect after the colossal—and well-documented—media failure that preceded the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

And if there were voices cautioning against a volly of U.S./NATO airstrikes (note: there are), most media consumers scanning the front pages of top news websites wouldn't know it.

Instead what they'd see if they looked at CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, the Huffington Post on Tuesday morning was not so much a US government on tapping the "drums of war" but a corporate media system banging on them.

Similarly, as FireDogLake's Kevin Gosztola cataloged, the editorial boards from some of the largest US newspapers penned editorials that somewhat unanimously supported direct military action by the US. Despite the continued lack of concrete evidence about the details of the chemical attack, Gosztola continued his critique of mainstream outlets by noting how the troubling trend was
further proven by the round of reports in US media [Sunday], which granted an Obama administration official anonymity to say there was “very little doubt” that chemical weapons had been used by the Syrian regime against civilians. Such a statement could easily help increase public and political support for military action yet the media did not force the person to go on the record and give his or her name if the administration wanted such a statement to be published.
And it's not just the neo-conservatives pushing for their latest war of choice. As Greg Mitchell, who literally wrote the book on the media failure surrounding the Iraq War, observed in his blog at The Nation late Monday:

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/08/27-2

Masters of War


Mindless and Extravagant "Support Our Troops" Display Doesn't Help Soldiers, But Does a Lot for Those Who Profit From War

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/culture/mindless-and-extravagant-support-our-troops-display-doesnt-help-soldiers-does-lot-those-who

It's time to examine the "support our troops" rhetoric and understand it does little for those whose lives are at risk.

By Steven Salaita August 27, 2013

My 16-month-old son was having a bad day. When he doesn’t sleep in the car, he usually points and babbles his approval of all the wonderful things babies notice that completely escape adult attention. On this afternoon, though, he was teething and hungry, a lethal scenario for an energetic youngster strapped into a high-tech seating apparatus (approved and installed, of course, by the state).

When it became clear he couldn’t, or wouldn’t, sleep it out, my wife and I stopped at a nondescript exit, the kind one finds every six miles in the South, with two gas stations and three abandoned buildings (if you’re lucky, you also get a Hampton Inn and Cracker Barrel). While she tended to the baby, I entered a convenience store — one of those squat, glass and plastic rectangles that looks like a Sears & Roebuck erector set — praying it would have something other than beer, cigarettes and beef jerky.

I settled on two Kraft mozzarella sticks, resisting the urge to purchase for myself a shiny red can of Four Loko.

“That’ll be $1.82,” the lady at the counter cheerily informed me. After I handed her two ones, she asked, “Would you like to donate your change to the troops?” I noticed a jar with “support our troops” taped to it in handwritten ink.

“No, thank you,” I answered firmly.

“Well … OK, then, sir,” she responded in subtle reproach, her smile not quite so ascendant anymore. 

“You have a good day now.”

She had good reason to be disappointed. The vast majority of customers, I imagine, spare a few dimes and pennies for so important a cause. Her response evinced more shock than anger. She wasn’t expecting a refusal of 18 cents, even from a guy who looks very much like those responsible for the danger to our troops.

Besides, nobody likes to have their altruism invalidated by a recalcitrant or ungrateful audience.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/culture/mindless-and-extravagant-support-our-troops-display-doesnt-help-soldiers-does-lot-those-who

Obama Set for Limited Strike on Syria as British Vote No

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/30/us/politics/obama-syria.html?hp&_r=0

By , and THOM SHANKER. Published: August 29, 2013

WASHINGTON — President Obama is prepared to move ahead with a limited military strike on Syria, administration officials said Thursday, despite a stinging rejection of such action by America’s stalwart ally Britain and mounting questions from Congress. 

The negative vote in Britain’s Parliament was a heavy blow to Prime Minister David Cameron, who had pledged his support to Mr. Obama and called on lawmakers to endorse Britain’s involvement in a brief operation to punish the government of President Bashar al-Assad for apparently launching a deadly chemical weapons attack last week that killed hundreds. 

The vote was also a setback for Mr. Obama, who, having given up hope of getting United Nations Security Council authorization for the strike, is struggling to assemble a coalition of allies against Syria. 

But administration officials made clear that the eroding support would not deter Mr. Obama in deciding to go ahead with a strike. Pentagon officials said that the Navy had now moved a fifth destroyer into the eastern Mediterranean Sea. Each ship carries dozens of Tomahawk cruise missiles that would probably be the centerpiece of any attack on Syria. 

Even before the parliamentary vote, White House officials said, Mr. Obama decided there was no way he could overcome objections by Russia, Syria’s longtime backer, to any resolution in the Security Council. 

Although administration officials cautioned that Mr. Obama had not made a final decision, all indications suggest that a strike could occur soon after United Nations investigators charged with scrutinizing the Aug. 21 attack leave the country. They are scheduled to depart Damascus on Saturday. 

The White House presented its case for military action to Congressional leaders on Thursday evening, trying to head off growing pressure from Democrats and Republicans to provide more information about the administration’s military planning and seek Congressional approval for any action. 

Kill For Peace


British Parliament Votes Against Military Intervention In Syria


From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/29/british-parliament-syria-vote_n_3839067.html

By RAPHAEL SATTER and GREGORY KATZ
08/29/13


LONDON — British Prime Minister David Cameron lost a vote endorsing military action against Syria by 13 votes Thursday, a stunning defeat that will almost guarantee that Britain plays no direct role in any U.S. attack on Bashar Assad's government.

A grim-faced Cameron conceded after the vote that "the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action."

The prime minister said that while he still believed in a "tough response" to the alleged use of chemical weapons by Assad's regime, he would respect the will of Parliament.

Responding to the vote, the White House said that a decision on a possible military strike against Syria will be guided by America's best interests, suggesting the U.S. may act alone if other nations won't help.

The defeat was as dramatic as it was unexpected. At the start of the week, Cameron had seemed poised to join Washington in possible military action against Assad. The suspected chemical weapons attacks took place Aug. 21 in suburbs east and west of Damascus. The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders has said the strikes killed 355 people.

Gruesome images of sickened men, women and children writhing on the floor drew outrage from across the world, and Cameron recalled Parliament from its summer break for an emergency vote, which was widely seen as a prelude to international action.

"The video footage illustrates some of the most sickening human suffering imaginable," Cameron told lawmakers before the vote, arguing that the most dangerous thing to do was to "stand back and do nothing."

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/29/british-parliament-syria-vote_n_3839067.html

Alan Grayson On Syria Strike: 'Nobody Wants This Except The Military-Industrial Complex'

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/29/alan-grayson-syria_n_3836276.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003

WASHINGTON -- Citing his responsibility to represent the views of his constituents, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) said Thursday that he can't support an attack on Syria that his voters strongly oppose. 

"One thing that is perfectly clear to me in my district, and I think is true in many other districts from speaking to other members, is that there is no desire, no desire on the part of people to be the world's policeman," Grayson said on SiriusXM's "The Agenda with Ari Rabin-Havt," which aired Thursday morning. "For us to pick up this gauntlet even on the basis of unequivocal evidence of chemical warfare by the Syrian army, deliberately against its own people -- even if there were unequivocal evidence of that -- that's just not what people in my district want."

That doesn't mean that opposition is universal, Grayson allowed. "I did notice, for what it's worth, that the manufacturer of the missiles that would be used has had an incredible run in their stock value in the last 60 days. Raytheon stock is up 20 percent in the past 60 days as the likelihood of the use of their missiles against Syria becomes more likely. So I understand that there is a certain element of our society that does benefit from this, but they're not the people who vote for me, or by the way the people who contribute to my campaign," he said. "Nobody wants this except the military-industrial complex."

Raytheon stock has in fact surged over the past two months, though it's been slightly shy of 20 percent.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/29/alan-grayson-syria_n_3836276.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003

The Soul of Our Nation: War

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/08/29-8

by Bruce Gagnon


This is how it works. 

The US has been providing Egypt with nearly $2 billion a year in "aid" since 1979.  Most of this is military aid.  That "aid" is then used to buy weapons from American corporations.  So in reality most of US foreign aid becomes more welfare programs for the military industrial complex.

Because of current civil war conditions in Egypt the Obama team is having to hold off on providing more aid to that embattled nation.  A recent Pew Research Center poll found that 51% of respondents said it's better to cut off military assistance to Egypt, while 26% backed continued aid.

The "aid" now on temporary hold would include: F-16 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin; M1A1 tanks from General Dynamics; and Apache attack helicopters made by Boeing Co.

CBS News reported on August 20: "The billion dollars in aid Congress approved for Egypt does not go directly to Cairo, it goes to places such as Archbald, Pennsylvania. The General Dynamics factory there makes parts for the M1A1 tank. General Dynamics is filling an order for 125 tank kits for the Egyptian Army.  One-hundred-thirty people work at the Archbald facility."

You can imagine the workers at the Archbald facility want this "aid" to continue.  Archbald Mayor Ed Fairbrother says the jobs are "extremely important" to the community. "They are some of the best jobs we have in the community," he says. "Those are the kinds of jobs that sustain communities and families."

There are 44 companies in Pennsylvania involved in production of the M1A1. The interesting thing is that Egypt does not need the tanks and many of the "kits" are still in crates after being delivered to their military.

American communities have become addicted to war spending and military production. As most traditional manufacturing industry has moved overseas seeking cheaper labor the best jobs in most parts of the nation are building weapons.  It's thus no coincidence that the #1 industrial export product of our nation is weapons.  And what is our global marketing strategy for that product line? Hello Syria!

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/08/29-8

War Criminal Obama and Peace Hypocrite. - Clare Daly - Irish Socialist


Feds Won't Interfere With Marijuana Legalization in Colorado and Washington

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/drugs/feds-wont-interfere-marijuana-legalization-colorado-and-washington

This unprecedented decision steers federal priority away from the longstanding, reactionary U.S. war on drugs.

By April M. Short August 29, 2013

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder made a historic move today when he informed the governors of Colorado and Washington that the federal government would not interfere with their states' laws allowing for the legal use of marijuana.

For years federal agents have stormed and raided marijuana dispensaries in states like California where medical use has been legal for decades, but this unprecedented decision steers federal priority away from the longstanding, reactionary U.S. war on drugs.

In last November's election Colorado and Washington voters chose to legalize marijuana use for adults in their states. The legalization of pot blatantly contradicts the federal government’s classification of marijuana as an illegal Schedule I substance “considered the most dangerous class of drugs with a high potential for abuse and potentially severe psychological and/or physical dependence.”

In response to the states' ballot results, President Obama told ABC News’s Barbara Walters in December that his administration had "bigger fish to fry" and would not prioritize recreational pot smokers in states where it is legal. The Washington Post reported that the Justice Department and White House Office of National Drug Control Policy " had remained silent" about the Colorado and Washington marijuana initiatives until today "despite repeated requests for guidance from state officials."

Holder's announcement means the Department of Justice will not sue the states over their regulation and implementation of their marijuana ballot initiatives. In addition to Holder's news, Deputy Attorney General James C ole released a memo addressed to U.S. attorneys in all 50 states. The memo reads:
"The Department's guidance in this memorandum rests on its expectation that states and local governments that have enacted laws authorizing marijuana-related conduct will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems that will address the threat those state laws could pose to public safety, public health and other law enforcement interests. A system adequate to that task must not only contain robust controls and procedures on paper; it must also be effective in practice."
As the Huffington Post reported, Cole’s memo also outlines “eight priorities for federal prosecutors enforcing marijuana laws. According to the guidance, DOJ will still prosecute individuals or entities to prevent:

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/drugs/feds-wont-interfere-marijuana-legalization-colorado-and-washington

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Rumble: Doesn't Chelsea Manning Deserve Her Rights?


Transgender People Being Murdered At A Rate Almost 50 Percent Higher Than Lesbians And Gays


From The New Civil Rights Movement:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/transgender-people-being-murdered-at-a-rate-almost-50-percent-higher-than-lesbians-and-gays/news/2013/08/26/73904

by David Badash
on August 26, 2013

Transgender people were murdered last month at a rate that is almost 50 percent higher than the murders of lesbian and gay people. From Canada to the United States to Central and South America, in the month of July alone, 23 transgender people and 16 gay men and lesbian women — a total of 39 people — were murdered, according to a study from the Organization of American States. The OAS represents all 35 countries of the American continent. In just the U.S., an estimated .3 percent of the total population openly identify as transgender, and 3.5 percent of American adults openly identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, with bisexual people making up 1.8 percent of that 3.5 percent, according to the Williams Institute.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the OAS issued a warning earlier this month, “reiterat[ing] its deep concern on violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, trans, bisexual and intersex persons (LGTBI), and against persons perceived as such in the Americas.” The group “urges OAS Member States to adopt urgent measures to prevent this violence and discrimination. In particular, the Commission is concerned about the high levels of violence and discrimination faced by gay, lesbian and trans youth in the region.”

The IACHR added it “was informed that, during the month of July 2013, 23 murders were committed against trans persons and trans women or those perceived as such in Brazil (9), Colombia (2), Honduras (4), Jamaica (1), Mexico (2), Paraguay (1), Peru (2), the United States (1), and Venezuela (1). It is reported that most of these victims were less than 35 years of age, a majority of them being under 25.”

The report adds, “the majority of these victims were shot, most of them multiple times.”
Additionally, the IACHR was informed of 13 cases of murders of gay men of all ages in Brazil (8), Honduras (1), Mexico (1), Peru (2), and Venezuela (1), the vast majority of which were beaten to death. It also received information on the murders of three Brazilian lesbian women, two of them less than 25 years of age.
The report does not specify numbers for bisexual people.

In all likelihood, these numbers are just the tip of the iceberg.

Continue reading at:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/transgender-people-being-murdered-at-a-rate-almost-50-percent-higher-than-lesbians-and-gays/news/2013/08/26/73904

Chelsea Manning Considered Gender Transition Long Before Announcement

From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/27/chelsea-manning-gender-transition_n_3818080.html?ref=topbar

NEW YORK -- Chelsea Manning's announcement about her gender transition last Thursday seemed to catch many casual observers by surprise. The former Army intelligence analyst and WikiLeaks source arrested in May 2010 wanted to be known as a woman, not as Bradley.

"I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible," the 25-year-old Manning wrote. The day before the announcement, a military court gave Manning a 35-year sentence for leaking 700,000 files to WikiLeaks.

To many LGBT advocates, Manning's declaration came as a relief. They had struggled for years over how to handle the numerous signs suggesting Manning's desire to transition. Now, The Huffington Post has obtained another data point in Manning's long, mostly private transition to transgender woman: an email Manning sent to a leading "don't ask, don't tell" researcher asking for advice on military service for transgender people.

That email, with the subject line "Questions," arrived in researcher Nathaniel Frank's inbox on April 28, 2010.

"I'm doing a little research, and I have a few questions regarding Transgender people and the U.S. Military," Manning wrote. "What laws / policies bar servicemembers from seeking name changes, birth certificate changes, and hormone replacement therapy, etc? … What changes would be required for these policies to feasibly allow a soldier to transition in the military?"

That email came four days after Manning sent the non-commissioned officer in charge of discipline in her Army intelligence unit an anguished email titled "My problem" with an image of herself in a woman's wig and makeup attached.

The email also came just days before a dramatic late-night counseling session on May 8, 2010, in which Manning made a "revelation" about her gender identity to her Army psychologist, Capt. Michael Worsley. Manning was in fact in the process of being administratively separated from the Army because of Worsley's diagnosis of gender identity disorder (a condition now known as gender dysphoria), which Worsley felt could only be effectively treated outside of the Army.

Transgender people are not allowed to publicly serve in the military, and the Army does not provide soldiers with hormone therapy. Manning's lawyer introduced the "My problem" email, as well as Worsley's testimony, during the sentencing phase of the trial to show the judge overseeing the case that Manning was under extreme stress when she made her leaks. The testimony suggested that Manning's judgment about the consequences of her actions had been affected by the stress.

Continue reading at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/27/chelsea-manning-gender-transition_n_3818080.html?ref=topbar

Senator Leahy Calls For Federal Marijuana Hearing; Invites Attorney General Holder

From Toke Signals: http://tokesignals.com/senator-leahy-calls-for-federal-marijuana-hearing-invites-attorney-general-holder/

By
On

Hearing To Address Differences Between Federal and State Cannabis Laws

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced on Monday that he will address discrepancies between federal and state marijuana laws in an upcoming hearing on September 10. Leahy has invited Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole to testify.

“It is important, especially at a time of budget constraints, to determine whether it is the best use of federal resources to prosecute the personal or medicinal use of marijuana in states that have made such consumption legal,” Sen. Leahy said. “I believe that these state laws should be respected. At a minimum, there should be guidance about enforcement from the federal government.”

Twenty states now allow medical marijuana, and Colorado and Washington recently became the first two states to approve the legal regulation of marijuana for non-medicinal purposes.

Last December, in a letter to U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, Senator Leahy asked how the federal government intends to deal with states like Colorado and Washington. In the letter, Senator Leahy also suggested that federal legislation could be introduced to legalize up to an ounce of marijuana, at least in states that have legalized it. He also sought assurances that state employees would not be prosecuted for implementing state laws.

There are several bipartisan bills in the U.S. House that would reform federal marijuana laws, but so far none in the Senate.

“Two states have made marijuana legal for adult use and are establishing regulated systems of production and distribution,” said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Twenty states plus our nation’s capital have made it legal for medical use. By failing to recognize the decisions of voters and legislators in those states, current federal law is undermining their ability to implement and enforce those laws.

Continue reading at:  http://tokesignals.com/senator-leahy-calls-for-federal-marijuana-hearing-invites-attorney-general-holder/

Misogynistic GOP’s gross new talking point Lie: Feces

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/08/28/gops_false_new_talking_point_feces/

The right claims abortion rights protesters brought excrement-filled jars into the Texas Capitol. Here's the truth

By Wednesday, Aug 28, 2013

There was a minor, kind of disgusting subplot in the high-profile fight over Texas’ strict new antiabortion law that made Wendy Davis a star: Pro-choice activists were accused of bringing jars of feces and urine into the state Capitol.

The Texas Department of Public safety said that it had confiscated “one jar suspected to contain urine [and] 18 jars suspected to contain feces,” which naturally provoked the kind of schadenfreudish condemnation from the anti-choice right that can only be achieved when your political opponents are caught doing something distasteful.

Conservative blogs and tweeters assumed protesters were going to use the jars as scatological bombs against pro-life lawmakers and naturally flipped out. National Review called it “typically charming,” Texas Republican Rep. Steve Stockman said it was “Texas Democrats [sic] idea of ‘civility,’” while WND even claimed some activists were wearing diapers to resupply their ammunition.
Well, as it turns out, there was no poop in poop-gate. The AP reports today:
Texas Department of Public Safety documents show troopers seized no jars of urine or feces from Capitol visitors the day of debate of controversial abortion bill. That’s counter to a DPS statement issued the night of the July 12 debate and filibuster by Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis.
The Texas DPS came under scrutiny for the statement, with pro-choice protesters saying they most certainly had not brought jars filled with toilet matter into the Capitol. DPS initially stood by the statement, but refused to release additional information.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/08/28/gops_false_new_talking_point_feces/

See Also:

Slate: Remember How Pro-Choicers Brought Jars of Feces to the Texas Statehouse? Turns Out That Probably Didn’t Happen.