Friday, January 31, 2014

Why Alt-Labor Groups Are Making Employers Mighty Nervous

From American Prospect:  http://prospect.org/article/why-alt-labor-groups-are-making-employers-mighty-nervous

Union membership remained steady last year—steady at its near-hundred-year low. A mere 6.7 percent of private-sector workers are union members, as are 11.3 percent of U.S. workers overall, according to figures released last Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS.)   

Those government union membership statistics, however, don’t capture an entire swath of new, exciting and emerging labor activists—“alt-labor” activists—whom alarmed employers would like to see regulated by the same laws that apply to unions. Yet before we regulate them as unions, shouldn’t we first count them as unions?  

Consider those striking fast food workers you’ve been reading about, the ones calling for a $15 an hour wage. Their numbers are not counted in the union membership figures. How about those Wal-Mart workers who struck for Black Friday and just won a key court case? Uncounted. What about the day laborers who joined any one of hundreds of workers’ centers nationwide? You got it, not included.  Neither are the restaurant workers, home health care workers, taxi drivers or domestic workers, all of whom are organizing for workplace power outside traditional unions. 

Why are these labor activists uncounted? The BLS bases its union membership numbers on the Current Population Survey (CPS). Every month, the government asks about 15,000 people whether they are union members or members of an employee association like a union. The people who went on strike at McDonald’s for a day, or who joined a local workers’ center, will almost certainly say “no” to this question, because they don’t pay union dues or aren’t covered by a contract. The government’s questions have no place for these workers who are part of a new breed of “alt-labor” groups leveraging workplace power outside the realm of collective bargaining —such as through worker centers, labor coalitions, or the three million members of the AFL-CIO’s Working America. In addition, the government union numbers exclude people who report they are self-employed. In todays’ economy, that could easily mean day laborers and domestic workers who are part of new labor groups.

Continue reading at:  http://prospect.org/article/why-alt-labor-groups-are-making-employers-mighty-nervous

Friday Night Fun and Culture: Pete Seeger

I guess everyone has figured out how important Pete Seeger was to me.  He was always like a wise teacher, better than a priest at helping me to choose an ethical moral path through life.











Conservative groups call for national boycott of Girl Scout cookies

Buy Lots of Girl Scout Cookies!

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2014/01/30/conservative_groups_call_for_national_boycott_of_girl_scout_cookies/

The organization tweeted a link about Wendy Davis, and now all Thin Mints must be thrown into the sea

Thursday, Jan 30, 2014

Conservatives are in a tizzy over the Girl Scouts again.

Remember when pastor and right-wing activist Kevin Swanson called the organization “wicked” and pleaded with the American public to boycott Thin Mints? Well, there’s another boycott happening, this time because a group of anti-choice organizations think the Girl Scouts endorsed Wendy Davis in the Texas governor’s race.

Which, you know, never happened.

As Tara Culp-Ressler at ThinkProgress points out, the “endorsement” in question is actually a tweet from December linking to a Huffington Post slideshow naming Davis, Malala Yousafzai, Beyoncé, and others as the “2013 women of the year.” The Girl Scouts’ official Twitter account then asked followers who they thought should be included in the list of “incredible ladies.”

But the tweet was enough to inspire John Pisciotta, an anti-choice activist in Texas, to call for a boycott, and a number of anti-choice groups have agreed to stop eating Caramel DeLites and TagaLongs to prove their point.

“The Girl Scouts were once a truly amazing organization,” Pisciotta told Breitbart. “But it has been taken over by ideologues of the left, and regular folks just will not stand for it.”

The boycott website also warns that the organization’s curriculum for girls celebrates “pro-abortion role models” like Hillary Clinton.

As I’ve written before, the Girl Scouts have inclusive but pretty anodyne policies regarding sexuality, gender and religion, and do not have an official position on abortion rights or reproductive healthcare. Angry speculation about its connection with Planned Parenthood and other issues has gotten so intense that the organization directly addresses these questions on its website.

Sandra Fluke 'Strongly Considering' Run For Henry Waxman's Seat In Congress

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/30/sandra-fluke-congress-_n_4697696.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

By Posted:
Sandra Fluke, the former Georgetown University Law student who became a national figure after conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh called her a "slut," said Thursday that she is considering a run for Rep. Henry Waxman's (D-Calif.) seat in the House of Representatives. Waxman announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of this session after 20 terms in Congress.

Fluke, who currently works as a social justice attorney in Los Angeles, said in a statement obtained by The Huffington Post that she is exploring a run for the seat, which lies in a safely Democratic district. 

"I’m flattered that I’m being discussed as a potential candidate, especially for Rep. Waxman's seat, considering his incredible legacy," Fluke said. "A number of folks I respect very deeply have reached out today and encouraged me to run. I am strongly considering running. I’ll be making my decision soon."

Fluke, who spoke at the Democratic National Convention in September of 2012, is a vocal proponent of reproductive rights. Limbaugh's comments about her came in response to her advocacy for contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act. 

On her personal website, Fluke writes that she's "devoted her career to public interest advocacy for numerous social justice concerns, such as LGBTQ rights, worker rights, economic justice, immigrant rights, and international human rights, including focusing on the impact to communities of color."
Hilary Rosen, a Democratic campaign consultant who works for SKDKnickerbocker, which handles Fluke's press, tweeted Thursday that she thinks Fluke would make a good candidate.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/30/sandra-fluke-congress-_n_4697696.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

Davis Says Critics Picked on "Wrong Texas Gal"

From The Texas Tribune:  http://www.texastribune.org/2014/01/28/davis-says-critics-picked-wrong-texas-gal/

by


Saying she’d “had enough,” state Sen. Wendy Davis unloaded on Attorney General Greg Abbott on Tuesday night, blaming him and his allies for waging a smear campaign against her family and warning he had picked a fight with the “wrong Texas gal.”

Abbott's campaign could not immediately be reached for comment. A day after the publication of a Dallas Morning News story questioning some of the details her personal story, Abbott campaign spokesman Matt Hirsch said Davis had “systematically, intentionally and repeatedly deceived Texans for years about her background, yet she expects voters to indulge her fanciful narrative.”

Davis' remarks on Tuesday night were the most direct, personal and sustained criticism the Democratic candidate for governor has leveled at her expected Republican opponent so far.

“They know they cannot defend their public record,” Davis said of the attorney general and his allies. “So they’re attacking my private life.”

Davis was speaking at a boisterous, sold-out fundraiser for the Travis County Democratic Party, serving as keynote speaker at the Johnson-Bentsen-Richards dinner at the tony Four Seasons hotel in downtown Austin.

Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth, rose to prominence last summer after waging an 11-hour filibuster against a restrictive abortion bill. A few weeks later, she announced she was running for governor. Her celebrity helped her rake in millions and raised Democratic hopes that the party can win statewide office after nearly two decades in the wilderness.

But for the last 10 days, her campaign has been rocked by criticism about the way she characterized her early biography, which stressed her struggles as a single mother. Davis acknowledged she got a couple of details wrong, in particular the age at which she and her first husband divorced. It was 21, not 19, as she had previously stated. 

On Tuesday night, Davis attempted to forcefully reclaim that narrative while criticizing Abbott on a range of policy issues and promising to change the direction of Texas, where Republicans control every statewide office and both houses of the Legislature.

Continue reading at:  http://www.texastribune.org/2014/01/28/davis-says-critics-picked-wrong-texas-gal/

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Climate scientist’s lawsuit could wipe out conservative National Review magazine

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/01/30/climate-scientists-lawsuit-could-wipe-out-conservative-national-review-magazine/

By David Ferguson
Thursday, January 30, 2014


The National Review magazine, longstanding house news organ of the establishment right, is facing a lawsuit that could shutter the publication permanently. According to The Week, a suit by a climate scientist threatens to bankrupt the already financially shaky publication and its website, the National Review Online (NRO).

Scientist Michael Mann is suing the Review over statements made by Canadian right-wing polemicist and occasional radio stand-in for Rush Limbaugh, Mark Steyn. Steyn was writing on the topic of climate change when he accused Mann of falsifying data and perpetuating intellectual fraud through his research.

Steyn went on to quote paid anti-climate science operative Rand Simberg — an employee of the right-wing think tank the Competitive Enterprise Institute — who compared Mann to Penn State’s convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky.

Mann, Simberg said, is “the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except that instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data.”

Mann sued for defamation. Steyn and the Review vowed to fight the suit, given that defamation is notoriously difficult to prove in court.

“My advice to poor Michael is to go away and bother someone else,” said Review editor Rich Lowry. “If he doesn’t have the good sense to do that, we look forward to teaching him a thing or two about the law and about how free debate works in a free country.”

As the case has played out, however, Lowry’s hubris has proven to be unwarranted.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/01/30/climate-scientists-lawsuit-could-wipe-out-conservative-national-review-magazine/

Why the GOP’s civil war is only going to get uglier

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2014/01/30/the_gop_unrest_will_continue_as_long_as_its_bankrolled_by_the_libertarian_koch_brothers_partner/

Again, they misunderstand Econ 101 -- and the ride they're being taken on by the Tea Party and religious right

Thursday, Jan 30, 2014

When it comes to explaining complex political dynamics, the media tends to adopt simple narratives rather than sophisticated commentary. This has been particularly evident when examining coverage of the Republican Party’s ongoing civil war.

The battle for the heart and soul of the GOP is more than social conservatives parrying with establishment Republicans. It is a pantomime that has many actors performing on a number of stages, but with only one clown: libertarians.

Libertarians are a funny bunch. By funny I mean ignorant not only of basic economics but also the ride they’ve been taken on by the Christian Right and the neo-Confederates within the Republican Party.
Nullification is the common cause that drives this anti-establishment triumvirate. Nullification of the federal government is now the weapon of choice for theocrats, libertarians and white supremacists. Since 2010, state legislatures have put forward nearly 200 bills challenging federal laws its sponsors deem unconstitutional. Typically, laws the nullifiers believe challenge “religious liberty,” the Affordable Care Act and gun control.

Recently, Kansas signed into law the Second Amendment Protection Act, which prohibits the enforcement of federal laws regulating guns manufactured and used within the state. Missouri put forward a bill that would have allowed for the arrest of federal agents enforcing gun laws. Similar bills have been introduced in 37 other states.

Of course, the ACA has been a high-priority target for the nullification movement with more than 20 bills introduced in state legislatures to nullify the president’s healthcare law. The Hobby Lobby, with the backing of the right, is attempting to nullify the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate in the Supreme Court. A favorable ruling will mean privately owned businesses are free to discriminate against gays, women and anyone else on the basis of religious liberty.

A report published by Political Research Associates says, “The nullification movement’s ideology is rooted in reverence for states’ rights and a theocratic and neo-Confederate interpretation of U.S. history. And Ron Paul, who is often portrayed as a libertarian, is the engine behind the movement.”

Pete Seeger: Beating Flagpoles into Ploughshares

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/01/29

by Michael Winship


Not only was it sad to hear the news this morning of Pete Seeger’s passing but startling to realize that it was 45 long years ago that we first met. It was in 1969, at Georgetown University, when I was a callow college freshman and he already was a legend among folk music lovers and political activists.
I knew his songs, had many of his records and played them all the time, especially a concert album with the great Bernice Johnson Reagon, founder of Sweet Honey in the Rock, and the Rev. Frederick Douglass Kirkpatrick, the Baptist minister in charge of folk culture for Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

There was another album I loved called “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy and Other Love Songs.” It wasn’t so much the folk music revival of the fifties and sixties that first drew me to Seeger, but that title song. “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” told the story of a captain ordering a platoon to cross a river despite his sergeant’s warning that the water was too deep and treacherous.

It was an explicit metaphor for the quagmire of Vietnam and the escalation policy of President Lyndon Johnson, each verse but the last ending with the bitter, “The big fool said to push on.” When Seeger first tried to sing it on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, CBS network executives censored it from the broadcast but relented under pressure and he returned to perform it in late February 1968; coincidentally, less than a month after the attacks of the Tet offensive took US forces in South Vietnam by surprise and radically changed American public opinion about the war.

In the years after, Seeger and his music would float in and out of my life like a warm summer breeze, that unique combination of laid back and earnest always in his light tenor voice. I’d see him from a distance or we’d talk backstage at concerts and rallies. That first time, at Georgetown, was the Friday afternoon before the massive Moratorium March on Washington on November 15, 1969. Kids from around the country had come to DC for the anti-Vietnam protest and Georgetown had reluctantly opened its dorms and other buildings so they’d have an indoor place to sleep, one of several times in those years that the school would become a de facto Day’s Inn for protesters.

One of the rooms that had been opened to we, the rabble, was a lecture space off the main campus at the foreign service school called the Hall of Nations — so named because the walls were lined with the national flags of UN members. That weekend, the university removed all the flags, apparently fearing theft, desecration or students from Vanderbilt or Ohio State huddled under the banner of Ethiopia for warmth. But they left the shiny metal flagpoles in place, each of which, for some unknown reason was sharpened at the top end to a fine point.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/01/29

More Proof Right Wingers Hate Women: Fox's Martha MacCallum Says Women Get Paid 'Exactly What They're Worth'


What Would Jello Do? Part 41 Super Marijuana Bowl


Appeals court ruling in California is another sign of conversion therapy industry's collapse

From Southern Poverty Law Center:  http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/news/appeals-court-ruling-in-california-is-another-sign-of-conversion-therapy-industrys

01/29/2014

A ruling by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that upholds California’s ban on conversion therapy for minors, a discredited practice that claims to “cure” people of being gay, is another sign of the collapse of the conversion therapy industry, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The court reaffirmed its earlier decision upholding the ban Wednesday. The ruling means that the only recourse for the therapists challenging the law is the U.S. Supreme Court. 

“We are thrilled that the federal appeals court has, for the second time, confirmed that states can protect kids from the harmful practices used in so-called ‘conversion therapy,’” said David Dinielli, SPLC deputy legal director. “Science proves that it doesn’t work. It harms kids, and it tears families apart.”

In 2012, the SPLC filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit on behalf of four young men who claim they were defrauded by Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), a New Jersey organization that offers conversion therapy services.

In therapy sessions, the men were instructed, among other things, to stand naked in a circle with other patients and a naked counselor; to cuddle with members of the same sex, including other patients and counselors; to violently beat effigies of their mothers with a tennis racket; to go to gyms and bathhouses in order to be nude with father figures; and to participate in mock locker room and gym class scenarios where they were subjected to ridicule as “faggots” and “homos.”

Conversion therapy has been discredited or highly criticized by all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations. In addition, the American Psychological Association has expressed concern that conversion therapy practices “create an environment in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish.”

“With our lawsuit against JONAH and the collapse of Exodus International and other conversion therapy organizations, it is clear this industry is crumbling,” Dinielli said. “Also, states across the country are taking steps to ban these harmful practices marketed to unsuspecting kids and their families. Soon, conversion therapy and its practitioners will be relegated to the dustbin of history.”  
California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the state’s ban on conversion therapy for patients under the age of 18 in 2012. Conversion therapy services have been discredited or highly criticized by all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations.

Snowden nominated for Nobel Peace Prize


McCarthy had help: How big business snuffs out political dissent

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2014/01/30/mccarthy_had_help_how_big_business_snuffs_out_political_dissent_partner/

Repression carried out in the name of anti-communism was made possible by the cooperation of the business community

Thursday, Jan 30, 2014

This article originally appeared on Corey Robin's blog.
 
Pete Seeger’s death has prompted several reminiscences about his 1955 appearance before the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). And for good reason. Two good reasons, in fact.
First, Seeger refused to answer questions about his beliefs and associations—up until the 1940s, he had been a member of the Communist Party—not on the basis of the Fifth Amendment, which protects men and women from self-incrimination, but on the basis of the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of speech.

While invoking the Fifth was not without its perils—most important, it could put someone on the blacklist; individuals who invoked it frequently found themselves without work—it had the advantage of keeping one out of jail. But the cost of the 5th was clear: though you could refuse to testify about yourself, you could not refuse to testify about others.

So Seeger invoked the First Amendment instead. A far riskier legal position—the Court had already held, in the case of the Hollywood Ten, that the First Amendment did not protect men and women who refused to testify before HUAC—it was the more principled stance. As Seeger explained later, “The Fifth means they can’t ask me, the First means they can’t ask anybody.” And he paid for it. Cited for contempt of Congress, he was indicted, convicted, and sentenced to a year in prison. Eventually the sentence got overturned.

Second, not only did Seeger refuse to answer questions about his associations and beliefs, but he also did it with great panache. When asked by HUAC to name names, he refused—and then almost immediately offered to sing songs instead. Much to the consternation of the Committee chair, Francis Walters, Seeger followed up with a more personal offer.

I know many beautiful songs from your home county, Carbon, and Monroe, and I hitchhiked through there and stayed in the homes of miners.

Parenthetically, I should note that Seeger’s hearings were not the only such circus of absurdity.  If you want to treat yourself to an afternoon of giggles, check outAyn Rand’s testimony, where she insisted that no one in Russia ever smiled. Or this wondrous exchange between Zero Mostel and two members of HUAC.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2014/01/30/mccarthy_had_help_how_big_business_snuffs_out_political_dissent_partner/

Southern Republican says racism drives GOP opposition to immigration reform

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/01/30/southern-republican-says-racism-drives-gop-opposition-to-immigration-reform/

By Tom Boggioni
Thursday, January 30, 2014


A Republican lawmaker admitted yesterday that his party is having difficulty moving forward with  immigration reform due to deeply rooted racist animus expressed by a portion of their own constituent base.

In an interview with Buzzfeed, the Southern congressman, who wished to remain anonymous, explained that members of his party felt handcuffed and unable to pass a comprehensive immigration reform package due to fear of push back from hometown constituents.

“Part of it, I think — and I hate to say this, because these are my people — but I hate to say it, but it’s racial,” admitted the lawmaker. “If you go to town halls people say things like, ‘These people have different cultural customs than we do.’ And that’s code for race.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) added , “There will always be people [who have] different reasons for opposing the change. We have a history in this country of demagoguery when it comes [to immigration]. You know, ‘Irish Need Not Apply.’ There’s nothing new going on today that’s gone on before. This isn’t the first time that there’s been some ugliness around the issue of immigration.”

Despite widespread bipartisan support for immigration reform that would include a pathway to citizenship for undocumented children and immigrants who are already in the United States, progress has been glacial due in no small part to high profile members of the Republican party including Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who often uses incendiary rhetoric to bolster his national ambitions.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/01/30/southern-republican-says-racism-drives-gop-opposition-to-immigration-reform/

House Republicans Pass Sweeping Anti-Abortion Bill

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/28/no-taxpayer-funding-for-abortion-act_n_4681743.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003

The House of Representatives passed a bundle of abortion restrictions Tuesday that would dramatically reduce the number of health insurance plans that cover the procedure. The vote was 227 to 188, with one lawmaker voting present 

The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 7), sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), would prohibit insurance plans sold in the new health care exchanges from covering abortion, and it would eliminate tax benefits for small businesses that purchase insurance plans covering abortion. The bill would also prevent the District of Columbia from using its own locally raised funds to subsidize abortion care for low-income women. 

Currently, more than 80 percent of private health insurance plans include abortion coverage, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research group.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said after the vote, "This President promised that ‘under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions.’ We know now that was a lie, and this bill corrects his broken promise. We should not be taxing Americans and forcing them to fund a violation of their religious freedom. The passage of this bill today is one more step toward restoring respect for the sanctity of human life.”

In fact, the bill would not actually prevent federal taxpayer dollars from funding abortion because the Hyde Amendment has already done that for more than three decades. 

Earlier this month, Democratic women lawmakers protested the bill in the hallway outside its House Judiciary Committee hearing. They pointed out that it would raise health care costs for women, drive insurance companies to drop a previously noncontroversial medical benefit and financially penalize small businesses. They also took issue with the fact that an all-male group of Republicans was pushing the bill through the legislative process with very little input from women. 

“H.R. 7 is a reflection of a majority that is out of touch with the American people and struggling to understand fundamental truths about reproductive health -- and we really mean struggle,” Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) said on the floor of the House. “This extreme legislation was originally sponsored by a man, originated from a subcommittee composed of 13 men, and was passed out of the Judiciary Committee with the votes of 21 Republican men. This has been the problem for a long time -- men in blue suits and red ties determining what women can and should do when it comes to their own health.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/28/no-taxpayer-funding-for-abortion-act_n_4681743.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003

MOTHER RUSSIA


Budweiser Super Bowl XLVIII Commercial -- "Puppy Love"


Painting Wendy Davis as a bad mother is political sexism at its worst

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/26/wendy-davis-dallas-morning-news-inadequate-mother-false

Davis is a Democrat running for governor of Texas. Opponents are trying to smear her life story, and the media isn't helping

theguardian.com, Sunday 26 January 2014

Here we go again: sexist tropes being used against a high-profile female political candidate.
A recent article in the Dallas Morning News by the paper's senior political writer Wayne Slater purported to correct the biography of Wendy Davis, the democratic candidate for Texas governor. Davis made headlines last summer for her pink-tennis-shoe wearing filibuster against a severely restrictive anti-abortion bill. In his piece, Slater charged that he was telling a fuller version of Davis' life story because "some facts have been blurred" in the version she and her campaign have been telling.

Davis has portrayed herself as a tough single mother who made it through Harvard Law School and went from living in a trailer park to working her way up to a Texas state senate seat. Since Slater's article was published last weekend, conservative media has jumped on it as evidence that Davis is not the (American) dream candidate. 

Most of the attacks against Davis are sexist. As a columnist for Breibart.com tweeted: "Wendy Davis: My story of attending Harvard Law on my husband's dime while he took care of the kids is a story every woman can relate to." Talking Points Memo has a plethora of examples of the full-force sexist attacks. And Twitter exploded earlier this week with the #MoreFakeThanWendyDavis hashtag, making fun of Davis for being a liar.

The problem is that the Dallas Morning News article that caused this backlash is questionable at best, and is undeniably sexist in its telling of Davis' story. Slater implies that Davis was a negligent mother in order to pursue her education and political career, and that she used her husband for his money. He quotes an "anonymous source" that claims that "Wendy [Davis] is tremendously ambitious. She's not going to let family or raising children or anything else to get in her way."

The "blurred facts", according to Slater, were that Davis says she divorced at 19, when in fact she had only separated from his first husband at 19, with the divorce being finalized when she was 21. Slater says that Davis overstates her time living as a single mother in a trailer, explaining that "she lived only a few months in a family mobile home while separated from her husband before moving into an apartment". 

Davis' bio on her website states that she paid for her tuition at Texas Christian University and Harvard Law School through "academic scholarships, student loans, and state and federal grants," Slater's piece says that Jeff Davis, Wendy's second husband, "paid for her final two years at TCU". He also says that after Davis was accepted to Harvard, "Jeff Davis cashed in his 401k account and eventually took out a loan to pay for her final year there." (Jeff Davis has given a statement to CNN clarifying all the reasons behind his decision to cash out his 401k).

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/26/wendy-davis-dallas-morning-news-inadequate-mother-false

HRC endorses ‘champion for equality’ Wendy Davis for governor

From The Dallas Voice:  http://www.dallasvoice.com/hrc-endorses-champion-equality-wendy-davis-governor-10166472.html

29 Jan 2014 

The nation’s largest LGBT advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign, is endorsing state Sen. Wendy Davis in her gubernatorial bid, the organization announced Wednesday.

“Wendy Davis has been a champion for equality for all, whether it is the working poor or LGBT Texans,” HRC President Chad Griffin said. “Her dedication to the underdog and commitment to fairness for all Texas families make her the right choice for Governor.”

Davis has a proven record on LGBT issues in the state Legislature.

She authored the only LGBT-inclusive version of anti-bullying legislation in 2011. That same year she co-sponsored youth suicide prevention legislation and lobbied to kill an anti-transgender marriage bill.

Last year’s session was just as impressive with her co-authoring the Senate version of a statewide workplace nondiscrimination bill and co-authoring inclusive insurance nondiscrimination legislation. And when a different version of the anti-trans marriage bill came up, she was one of only two senators to vote against it.

HRC endorsed Davis because of her “stellar record on LGBT equality” and ” history of putting Texas’ families first,” compared to anti-gay Greg Abbott, her likely opponent in November.

“Wendy Davis’ energy and courage are needed in Austin,” said Julie Johnson, a Texas attorney and HRC board member emeritus. “I’m proud to be one of the tens of thousands of HRC members in Texas, and I know that Wendy will fight for all our families when elected. Wendy has proven herself an effective leader — and that’s exactly what the people of Texas need.”

But, surprisingly, she wasn’t connected to any of the three pieces of legislation dealing with marriage equality last year, HJR 77, HJR 78 and HB 1300. Davis has never made a public statement in support of marriage equality, and when asked by Dallas Voice during a press conference about how she would approach it as governor, she replied that she would leave it in the Legislature’s hands.

Complete article at:  http://www.dallasvoice.com/hrc-endorses-champion-equality-wendy-davis-governor-10166472.html

YWCA Auckland - Demand Equal Pay


4 reasons America is afraid of women with friends

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2014/01/29/4_reasons_americas_afraid_of_women_with_friends/

Wendy Davis is just the beginning -- women who band together with other women threaten the status quo

Wednesday, Jan 29, 2014

Erick Erickson is back in the news announcing how proud he is of the moniker “Abortion Barbie,” which he slapped on Wendy Davis earlier this year.  As Jessica Luther eloquently explained, this is the ultimate example of “bad mother” narratives, tacked onto “lying bitch” and “gold-digger” stereotypes. Davis is, however, a particularly unpalatable package to her foes. It’s not only that sexist media outlets are fixated on her mothering in ways that fathering is not an issue for her male peers. No, what’s really challenging about Davis is that she is a public single woman with friends.
What conservatives would like everyone to forget as quickly as possible is moments like this: during Davis’ famous filibuster, state Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, surrounded by orange t-shirt clad supporters, asked, ”At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?” It was a rare public display of gender-based solidarity.  How incredibly pushy. And dangerous to the status quo, which is dedicated to policies that undermine efforts of women to act together and challenge systems intent on depriving them of their autonomy.

It’s not true that conservatives don’t like single women.  They love single women and, of course, mothers – if they are vulnerable, dependent, and ashamed, and if they know their place in the “natural” order.  If they are, in other words, isolated and dependent. The role of female friendship is even more important when you consider that single women, single mothers in particular, are often surrounded by other women who support them.   What conservatives cannot confront head on is that Davis is a single mother and visibly not isolated by that fact.  And she’s a public figure. Now, to make matters even worse, it is clear that she’s produced daughters who are like her.  Last night, Dru and Amber Davis publicly wrote letters refuting claims made in the most recent spate of  “bad mother” attacks on their mother.  Is there no end to the Davis women’s shamelessness?

Our brains are bombarded from birth by images and stories of male fraternity and solidarity. Whether it’s school hallways plastered with photos of past presidents, legions of elves and dwarves making their way through Middle Earth, every major animated film made by Pixar, or sports teams that represent their cities, most of our images of collective effort and fellow-feeling are male.

From the time our children can listen to stories, watch movies or pick up a tablet or turn on a radio we ply them with stories that suppress representations of women as friends, as united, and as supportive of one another’s efforts or as heroic.  There are some exceptions, of course, but there is no getting around the avalanche of facts attesting to the marginalization of images of female friendship. A few representative examples:

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2014/01/29/4_reasons_americas_afraid_of_women_with_friends/

Flying Solo: A Transgender Widow Fights Discrimination


Know the Enemy: John Boehner: 'No Way' ENDA Will Pass This Year

From The Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/politics/politicians/2014/01/30/john-boehner-no-way-enda-will-pass-year

The House speaker drew a hard line on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in a first-time meeting with the LGBT Equality Caucus.

BY Daniel Reynolds January 30 2014

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act has no likelihood of passing this year, says John Boehner.
The House speaker told the LGBT Equality Caucus that there was “no way” ENDA would pass, during his first-ever meeting with the group of lawmakers last week.

Rep. Mark Takano, a gay congressman and cochair of the caucus, related the exchange Tuesday to the Washington Blade after President Obama’s State of the Union address.

“A number of us did meet with, actually the caucus met with Speaker Boehner,” Takano said. “He said no way was it going to get done in this session.”

However, Takano classified the conference between the Republican speaker and the caucus, a group of over 100 lawmakers seeking LGBT equality, as “a historic sort of meeting.”

Boehner’s remarks reveal that he will most likely not schedule ENDA, which would provide antidiscrimination protections for LGBT workers nationwide, for a vote on the House floor in 2014. Last April the act had easily passed in the Senate with a vote of 64-32. But in November Boehner had voiced his belief that ENDA was “unnecessary.”

“I am opposed to discrimination of any kind in the workplace or anyplace else, but I think this legislation … is unnecessary and would provide a basis for frivolous lawsuits,” he said in a press conference that month. “People are already protected in the workplace.”

Many LGBT activists and organizations have expressed disappointment that Obama had not announced direct action in his Tuesday address. The president has the power to issue an executive order that would offere the protections of ENDA to federal contractors, a group comprising roughly 20 of the American workforce. He had promised to make such an executive order during his 2008 presidential campaign.

Sunday, Bloody Sunday: The Bogside Massacre: January 30, 1972

From Wikipedia:

Bloody Sunday (Irish: Domhnach na Fola)[1][2]—sometimes called the Bogside Massacre[3]—was an incident on 30 January 1972 in the Bogside area of Derry, Northern Ireland, in which 26 civil-rights protesters and bystanders were shot by soldiers of the British Army. Thirteen males, seven of whom were teenagers, died immediately or soon after, while the death of another man four-and-a-half months later was attributed to the injuries he received on that day. Two protesters were also injured when they were run down by army vehicles.[4] Five of those wounded were shot in the back.[5] The incident occurred during a Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association march; the soldiers involved were members of the First Battalion of the Parachute Regiment (1 Para).[6]

Two investigations have been held by the British government. The Widgery Tribunal, held in the immediate aftermath of the event, largely cleared the soldiers and British authorities of blame—Widgery described the soldiers' shooting as "bordering on the reckless"—but was widely criticised as a "whitewash".[7][8][9] The Saville Inquiry, chaired by Lord Saville of Newdigate, was established in 1998 to reinvestigate the events. Following a 12-year inquiry, Saville's report was made public on 15 June 2010, and contained findings of fault that could re-open the controversy, and potentially lead to criminal investigations for some soldiers involved in the killings.[10] The report found that all of those shot were unarmed, and that the killings were both "unjustified and unjustifiable." On the publication of the Saville report the British prime minister, David Cameron, made a formal apology on behalf of the United Kingdom.[11]

The Provisional Irish Republican Army's (IRA) campaign against the partition of Ireland had begun in the two years prior to Bloody Sunday, but public perceptions of the day boosted the status of, and recruitment into, the organisation enormously.[12] Bloody Sunday remains among the most significant events in the Troubles of Northern Ireland, chiefly because those who died were shot by the British army rather than paramilitaries, in full view of the public and the press.[3]

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Great Lakes Go Dry: How One-Fifth Of The World’s Fresh Water Is Dwindling Away

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/01/28/3193301/climate-change-draining-great-lakes/

By Joanna M. Foster
on January 28, 2014


The frozen opalescent lake and thin, gray sky fade together into white light where the horizon should be. Tall, skeletal grasses shiver on the beach in a wind that makes any sliver of exposed skin burn. 

The Arni J. Richter, an icebreaking ferry, is about to pull away from Northport Pier for its second and final trip of the day to Washington Island. It’s loaded with food and fuel for the more than 700 hardy residents who call the remote island, just north of Door County peninsula in Wisconsin, home.

People have lived on Washington Island for over 160 years. They’re proud of their tight-knit community and their Icelandic heritage. But life on the island is threatened. For the past 15 years, islanders have watched Lake Michigan slowly disappear. Last January, the lake hit a record low, 29 inches below the long-term average as measured since 1918. The Richter Ferry was just inches away from grounding in some spots along its increasingly treacherous six-mile route to the island.

The Great Lakes, which contain one-fifth of the world’s above-ground fresh water supply, are sometimes referred to as America’s “northern coast.” As communities along the rest of the nation’s shorelines brace for rising waters brought by climate change, however, and spend billions on replacing sand swept out to sea in storms, the communities of the Great Lakes find themselves with more and more sand and less and less water. 

“The island depends on the ferry for everything,” said Hoyt Purinton, President and Captain of the Washington Island Ferry Line and great grandson of the ferry’s first captain. “If the ferry can’t get to the island, the island won’t survive. Even if you could find another way to get food and fuel over there, if there’s no easy way for tourists to make the trip, the fragile island economy dies and the community and culture goes with it.”

As the lake retreats, some people blame the Army Corps of Engineers for dredging projects that widen channels leading out of Lake Michigan. Others wonder if the watershed can no longer support the 40 million people in the U.S. and Canada who now rely on the lakes for their drinking water. 

Continue reading at:   http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/01/28/3193301/climate-change-draining-great-lakes/

The state of phony populism

From Al Jazeera:  http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/1/state-of-the-unionbarackobamaphonypopulism.html

Obama’s calculating speech offered little of substance for most Americans

by   January 29, 2014
 
Barack Obama put on a deft performance Tuesday night. With trills of empathy, the president’s voice soared to hit the high notes. He easily carried a tune of economic populism. But after five years of Obama in the White House, Americans should know by now that he was lip-syncing the words.

The latest State of the Union speech offered a faint echo of a call for the bold public investment that would be necessary to reduce economic inequity in the United States. The rhetoric went out to a country that in recent years has grown even more accustomed to yesterday’s floor becoming today’s ceiling.

The speech offered nothing that could plausibly reverse the trend of widening income gaps. Despite Obama’s major drumroll about his executive order to increase the minimum wage for some federal contract employees, few workers would be affected. The thumping was loud, but the action was small.

Obama of course blames congressional Republicans for obstructing needed reforms — and they certainly deserve blame. But for Americans struggling to make ends meet, the record of the Obama administration is littered with wreckage from its refusal to fight for people of modest means.
During 2009 and 2010 — when Democrats controlled not only the White House and Senate but also the House — Obama skipped past vital options for working and want-to-be-working Americans. For instance, he never really pushed for the Employee Free Choice Act, which would have helped unions regain footing and halt their downward slide of membership, especially after crackdowns in state legislatures in Wisconsin, Michigan and elsewhere.

In a huge blow to the largest unionized workforce in the country — U.S. Postal Service employees — the Obama administration did nothing to undo the extreme pension-prefunding rules that were imposed during the last two years of the George W. Bush administration. And now the Obama White House is presiding over waves of privatization of USPS assets and services, with grave consequences for its workers and the public.

In his speech, while Obama presented himself as an ally of federal workers, he neglected to mention something quite relevant: At the end of 2010, he signed a bill that prohibited pay increases for most of the federal government’s civilian employees. The pay freeze had come at his initiative.

Continue reading at:  http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/1/state-of-the-unionbarackobamaphonypopulism.html

"Our Food Is Dishonestly Priced": Michael Pollan on the Food Movement's Next Goal of Justice for Food Workers

From Truth Out:  http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/21403-our-food-is-dishonestly-priced-michael-pollan-on-the-food-movements-next-goal-of-justice-for-food-workers

By Amy B DeanSunday, 26 January 2014

Industry plays up the image of the food snob to keep us divided, but the stereotype hides a much more diverse and savvy movement, says best-selling author and food activist Michael Pollan.

Take a stroll through most grocery stores, and many of the products claim to be organically grown or locally sourced. The foodie movement has swept America in the last decade, thanks in no small part to the work of journalists and intellectuals who have championed the cause online, in print and on the airwaves.

Michael Pollan is inarguably one of the most influential of these figures. Pollan is most famous for his books, especially In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto (2008) and The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2006). He also contributes regularly to publications such as the New York Times Magazine, where his work has received numerous awards, and is a professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. 

As organic, locally grown food has emerged as a cultural and economic counterforce to industrialized agriculture, critics have claimed it is elitist and accessible only to those with the resources to pay more for their nourishment. Pollan and his allies have responded, in part, by drawing the public's attention to the low-wage workers who work in the field, behind the counter, and in the kitchen. In recent years Pollan has supported the efforts of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, an organization dedicated to improving working conditions and wages for tomato pickers' in Florida; in December 2013 he sided with fast food strikers and their demand for a $15 dollar per hour wage. In an email missive for MoveOn.org (received by 8 million subscribers), Pollan wrote: "If we are ever to . . . produce food sustainably and justly and sell it at an honest price, we will first have to pay people a living wage so that they can afford to buy it." In his words, fair wages must be part of the push to democratize food.

I recently connected with Pollan to discuss equitable food pricing, farm worker rights, and industrial agriculture's role in casting the food movement as elitist.  (What follows is a condensed and edited version of our conversation.) I began by asking Pollan about his evolving personal interest in the plight of food workers.

"I've been really paying more attention to it over time than I did at the beginning," he said. "When I wrote my first book about the food system, The Omnivore's Dilemma, I didn't talk in detail about labor. It was much more from the point of view of the eater than the person behind the counter.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/21403-our-food-is-dishonestly-priced-michael-pollan-on-the-food-movements-next-goal-of-justice-for-food-workers

Anti-Choicers Drop the ‘Life’ Pretense, Increasingly Admit They’re Angry About Sex

From RH Reality Check:  http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2014/01/27/anti-choicers-drop-life-pretense-increasingly-admit-theyre-angry-sex/

by Amanda Marcotte,
January 27, 2014


Is the anti-choice movement giving up the pretense that it has no interest in policing women’s sexuality and only opposes abortion rights because of fetal life? While the rote use of the word “life” as a code word to describe a series of anti-woman and anti-sex beliefs is probably going nowhere, there does seem to be a bit more willingness among anti-choicers lately to admit that what really offends them is that women are having sex without their permission.

A report examining the demographics of women who have abortions, using self-reported numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics, was recently presented at a Family Research Council conference. Their conclusion? “OMG sluts!”

The researchers—a term that needs to be used somewhat loosely, due to the extensive statistical distortion employed in this paper—were incredibly intent on portraying abortion as a product of sexually loose women on the prowl. They mostly succeed in portraying themselves as remarkably prudish and out of step with mainstream realities. “Almost 90 percent of reported abortions are procured by women who have had three or more (male) sexual partners,” the researchers write, clearly expecting the audience to reel in terror at the idea that a woman might not marry the first boy she kisses. Which means that most women having abortions are … average. Women generally report having had about four male sexual partners, but social scientists are inclined to think the number is probably higher than that, because men report having a much higher average number of partners, and that discrepancy is mathematically impossible. Indeed, one study showed that by telling women that they’re hooked up to a lie detector, the number of sex partners they will cop to goes up. Slut-shaming, such as the kind produced by this report, causes women to round down.

“The fraction of women reporting abortions is far larger among women with multiple sexual partners than among monogamous women,” the study authors write. It’s a classic example of how this paper, which is supposed to be a study, is actually full of misrepresentations and dishonest number-massaging. After all, “monogamous” and “has had multiple partners” are not mutually exclusive groups. No doubt the study authors mean “has only had one partner ever” as their definition of monogamous, a strange and sloppy definition that would mean that a woman who lost her virginity during a one-night stand yesterday is more “monogamous” that a woman whose second marriage has lasted 30 years.

“Eighty-three percent of women who report having an abortion have cohabited at some time,” they write, clearly expecting the audience to find cohabitation to be a shockingly risqué behavior. Again, this makes women who have abortions average. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “[M]ost young couples live together first before entering marriage.” By the time they turn 30, three-quarters of women have cohabitated.

Continue reading at:  http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2014/01/27/anti-choicers-drop-life-pretense-increasingly-admit-theyre-angry-sex/