Thursday, January 28, 2016

Rea Carey ‘wholeheartedly’ condemns anti-Semitism at conference

Anti-Zionist is just another term for antisemite.  These assholes acted like junior grade Nazis.

From The Washington Blade:
by Michael K. Lavers
January 25, 2016

National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey on Monday issued a lengthy statement in which she “wholeheartedly” condemned anti-Semitism.

“I want to make this crystal clear: The National LGBTQ Task Force wholeheartedly condemns anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic statements made at any Task Force event, including our Creating Change Conference,” she said. “It is unacceptable.”

Carey issued her statement three days after hundreds of protesters forced the cancellation of a reception at the Creating Change Conference in Chicago that was to have featured two LGBT rights advocates from Israel.

A Wider Bridge, an organization seeking to bolster “LGBTQ connections with Israel,” organized the reception.

Sarah Kala-Meir and Tom Canning of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance were scheduled to speak. They left the room in which the reception was taking place through a back door as protesters began shouting.

Those who protested the reception held signs with slogans that expressed their opposition to “pinkwashing,” which they describe as the promotion of Israel’s LGBT rights record in an attempt to deflect attention away from its controversial policies towards the Palestinians. A video that the Windy City Times shot shows some of protesters chanting “Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea” as they marched towards the room in which the reception was taking place.

Those who describe themselves as pro-Israel note the slogan has been used by those who support the destruction of the Jewish state. The Guardian reported that Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas, a militant group the State Department has designed as a terrorist organization, used a variation of this chant during a 2012 rally that marked his return to the Gaza Strip.

Hamas has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007.

Carey: Police called ‘without consulting us’

A second video of the Creating Change Conference protest the Windy City Times captured shows someone placing a Palestinian flag over the head of a man who was trying to enter the reception. The protesters began chanting “shame on you!” after he ripped it down and began yelling into the crowd.
Carey in her statement noted the National LGBTQ Task Force “acted to defuse the situation to the best of our ability.” She said security personnel at the Chicago Hilton where the Creating Change Conference took place called the police “without consulting us.”

“We are deeply concerned about how the events of the evening unfolded,” said Carey.

Tony Varona, a professor at American University Washington College of Law in D.C. who is a former member of the Human Rights Campaign board of directors, attended the reception.

He told the Blade on Monday that he heard “verbal attacks” from some of the protesters “about how the organizers and the attendees had blood on our hands, how we were celebrating over dead bodies, didn’t care about people of color, etc., etc., and that Israel had to be destroyed.” Varona said he did not personally hear any protesters use anti-Semitic slurs, but “heard that others did.”

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Bill Nye's Change of Heart on GMOs Is in the Best Scientific Tradition

What changed my opinion?  Awareness of the 2-3 billion people currently on the planet who would starve to death without GMOs and how genetically modifying plants is necessary due to climate change.

From Huffington Post:
"The first principle [of science] is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool." - Richard Feynman, winner of the Nobel Prize for physics, 1965.

When Bill Nye ("The Science Guy") publicly changed his mind recently about genetically modified organisms − he now says they "are an important, and perhaps, essential component of modern farming" − many were quick to pounce.

Besides attacking his reasoning and his credentials, some of his critics even alleged - with absolutely no evidence or justification - that Bill's change of position must have involved a payoff by my company, Monsanto.

The simple, innocent truth, however, is laid out plainly in the recently published revised edition of Bill's book "Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation." In a new chapter, Bill explains that after publishing the first edition of the book, in 2014, he "has spent a great deal of additional time investigating the issues surrounding GMFs (genetically modified foods)." His investigation, he explains, included a deeper exploration of the scientific literature, as well as a visit to our company.
"I was not there to be charmed," he comments on that visit. "I was there to see if Monsanto scientists had hard data to address the issues about GMFs and the ecosystems in which they grow. I now believe they do."

In other words, Bill dug deeper into the issue and then recognized he'd been mistaken. And then he had the courage to admit it.

Who else has trod this path? Well, lots of people. After all, to err is human, and scientists and those who, like Bill, study and write about science, are human. For science to move ahead, therefore, it's critical that the people who pursue it be willing to recognize and correct their mistakes. Otherwise science - and humanity - get stuck.

I know I've made mistakes as a scientist - for example, in being slow to recognize the seriousness of climate change. When the data documenting this trend became overwhelming, however, I studied it - and shifted my position - because I knew that for a scientist, the real sin is not in making a mistake, but in refusing to acknowledge it. That's all Bill has done in this case.

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Give Women the Right to Defend Themselves

From The Gatestone Institute:
by Geert Wilders and Machiel de Graaf

"Cultural enrichment" has brought us a new word: Taharrush. Remember it well, because we are going to have to deal with it a lot. Taharrush is the Arabic word for the phenomenon whereby women are encircled by groups of men and sexually harassed, assaulted, groped, raped. After the Cologne taharrush on New Year's Eve, many German women bought pepper spray. Who can blame them?

A culture that has a specific word for sexual assaults of women by groups of men is a danger to all women. The existence of the word indicates that the phenomenon is widespread. Frau Merkel, Prime Minister Rutte and all the other open-door politicians could and should have known this.

The Islamic world is steeped in misogyny. The Koran explicitly states that a woman is worth only half a man (Suras 2: 228, 2: 282, 4:11), that women are unclean (5:6), and that a man can have sex with his wife whenever he wants (24:31). The Koran even says that men are allowed to have sex slaves (4:24), and that they have the right to rape women whom they have captured (24:31).

The hadiths, the descriptions of the life of Muhammad, the ideal human being whose example all the Islamic faithful must follow, confirm that women are sex objects, that they are inferior beings like dogs and donkeys, and that there is nothing wrong with sexual slavery and raping female prisoners.
Taharrush is quite common in Islamic countries. Women are frequently surrounded by men and subsequently abused. The Egyptian website Jadaliyya points out that it also happens to veiled women. Women are victims simply because they are women and not because they have provoked the men by their conduct or "provocative" clothing. It can happen in the streets, public transport, supermarkets, or during protest demonstrations.

In 2011, the American television journalist Lara Logan had her clothes ripped off and "was raped with the hands" by a group of 200 men on Tahrir Square in Cairo. Two years later, a young Dutch woman became a taharrush victim at the same square. Now, along with the flow of migrants from the Islamic world, the phenomenon also reached Europe. The elite tried to keep it hidden from the people, but they cannot do so anymore.

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Bloomberg candidacy would give America a wider selection of billionaires to choose from

Fuck Bloomberg.  The Presidency isn't for sale to billionaires. Democracy is too valuable to be owned by the super rich.

From The Los Angeles Times:
Jan. 26, 2016

Just when it seemed as if the presidential race couldn't get any stranger, billionaire former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg revealed that he may run for the White House as an independent if the two major parties nominate their least mainstream candidates. Having more choices on the ballot is usually a good thing, and if the Republicans nominate Donald Trump, a Bloomberg candidacy would at least give voters a wider selection of billionaires from whom to choose. Yet at the same time, it's unnerving to think that the major parties could conceivably choose nominees so far outside the mainstream that the public might actually welcome the idea of an extraordinarily wealthy man trying to buy his way into the White House, instead of shuddering at it.

At this point in the race, it's far too late for a new candidate to enter the party primaries — the filing deadlines for nominating petitions have already passed in about half the states. The deadlines for an independent candidate are still months away, but the obstacles facing a third-party candidate are enormous. It would take a nearly bottomless bank account — like Bloomberg's — to pay for the requisite army of signature gatherers in all 50 states, as well as the army of lawyers to fend off the inevitable legal challenges.

Another issue is the potential for the major parties to obstruct a third-party bid. For example, the person interpreting and applying ballot-access rules in most states is an elected official, typically a Republican or a Democrat. And the process of judging signatures is subjective to a degree; that's why there are so many lawsuits over the issue.

The difficulties in mounting a run for the White House may help weed out candidates who are well-known but not serious. But the process should be fair and insulated from the major parties, which have a parochial interest in limiting third-party challengers. Although Bloomberg has the resources to fight such obstructions in court, candidates shouldn't have to face such obstacles in the first place.
The irony here is that third-party candidates used to be the ones railing against corruption and incompetence in the political establishment. Now that message is being delivered by some of the leaders in the Republican and Democratic races, including Trump, cage-rattling Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and self-described socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). If Sanders and Trump or Cruz are the nominees, it will leave a huge gap in the political center for someone to fill — a role that Bloomberg, who's conservative on fiscal issues but liberal on social ones — thinks he can swoop in and play. After all, that's how he entered politics in the first place, using his well-endowed checkbook to take over New York's City Hall. By moving further away from the center, the major parties are inviting the billionaire to do it again.

Spin Shift on Bernie: The Escalating Media Assault

From Common Dreams:
by Norman Solomon
Published on Wednesday, January 27, 2016
For a long time, as he campaigned for president, a wide spectrum of establishment media insisted that Bernie Sanders couldn’t win. Now they’re sounding the alarm that he might.

And, just in case you haven’t gotten the media message yet -- Sanders is “angry,” kind of like Donald Trump.

Elite media often blur distinctions between right-wing populism and progressive populism—as though there’s not all that much difference between appealing to xenophobia and racism on the one hand and appealing for social justice and humanistic solidarity on the other.

Many journalists can’t resist lumping Trump and Sanders together as rabble-rousing outliers. But in the real world, the differences are vast.

Donald Trump is to Bernie Sanders as Archie Bunker is to Jon Stewart.

Among regular New York Times columnists, aversion to Bernie Sanders has become more pronounced in recent days at both ends of the newspaper’s ideological spectrum, such as it is. Republican Party aficionado David Brooks (whose idea of a good political time is Marco Rubio) has been freaking out in print, most recently with a Tuesday column headlined “Stay Sane America, Please!” 

Brooks warned that his current nightmare for the nation is in triplicate—President Trump, President Cruz or President Sanders. For Brooks, all three contenders appear to be about equally awful; Trump is “one of the most loathed men in American public life,” while “America has never elected a candidate maximally extreme from the political center, the way Sanders and Cruz are.”

That “political center” of power sustains huge income inequality, perpetual war, scant action on climate change and reflexive support for the latest unhinged escalation of the nuclear arms race. In other words, what C. Wright Mills called “crackpot realism.”

Meanwhile, liberal Times columnist Paul Krugman (whose idea of a good political time is Hillary Clinton) keeps propounding a stand-on-head formula for social change—a kind of trickle-down theory of political power, in which “happy dreams” must yield to “hard thinking,” a euphemism for crackpot realism.

An excellent rejoinder has come from former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. “Krugman doesn’t get it,” Reich wrote. “I’ve been in and around Washington for almost fifty years, including a stint in the cabinet, and I’ve learned that real change happens only when a substantial share of the American public is mobilized, organized, energized, and determined to make it happen.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

A Confederacy of Dunces: The Democratic Establishment’s Assault on Sanders Begins

From Common Dreams:
"When a true genius appears in your world, you may know him by this sign; that all the dunces are against him in a confederacy." 
—Jonathon Swift

Well, it’s started.  You knew it would.  The Democratic establishment is going into attack mode as their anointed one  – Hillary Clinton – is in danger of losing.

Take a look at some of the assaults that have been launched within the last five days:
  • Sandy Goodman, a former producer at NBC Nightly News published a piece on the Huffington Post, entitled, Voting for Sanders is Voting Republican. The fact that Bernie does better than Hillary against Republicans is an inconvenient fact Goodman ignores in this ludicrous hit piece;
  • Paul Krugman’s column last Friday suggested that progressives voting for Sanders weren’t being “adults,” and had no idea how change occurred – in Krugman’s world, change doesn’t come from the people, apparently. It comes from party apparatchiks working with the plutocracy;
  • Thomas Friedman, another New York Times columnist, essentially called Sanders a communist – something he knows isn’t true, but it’s a great scare tactic;
  • President Obama said Bernie Sanders' ideas haven’t been tested yet and went on to heap praise on Hillary.  It wasn’t an endorsement, but it came mighty close.
All of these are coming from credentialed liberals who have been staunch supporters of the Democratic Party.  And therein lies the problem. The Democratic Party’s interests are no longer aligned with the people’s interests and they haven’t been for a long time.  

And this comes after Debbie Wassermann Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, set up the modern era’s first stealth debate program, designed to guarantee a coronation for Ms. Clinton and keep real progressives like Sanders and O’Malley under wraps.

But it’s not just the press and the Party.  Civil institutions, environmental groups, and unions that should be with the people – and therefore with Sanders – are lining up to back Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s traditional PAC candidate. 

The bottom line is, the institutions that used to represent the people no longer derive their power from the people, so they are threatened by Sanders, because he does.

Make no mistake, this is about power.  

After decades, a right wing cabal of the uber-wealthy, in conjunction with corporations, has literally seized control of government.

Not only have they rolled back controls on Wall Street, turned elections into a bidding war in which politicians are purchased like livestock, and pared government funds down to the point where it can no longer function; they’ve also set up the rules so that corporations are our largest recipients of welfare and the 1% walks away with all the spoils. Incredibly, they’ve convinced people it’s good for them.

And Democrats have been co-authors of the problem. Even when poll after poll showed that the majority of American people are left of center on an issue-by-issue basis, Democrats inched to the center and then to the right of center … where, until a few months ago, is where you’d find Hillary, by the way.  

Bottom line, until Sanders, the terms of the national debate were dictated by the Plutocracy, and there was no way to pierce the carefully constructed interlocking web of money, media, and myth the Oligarchs constructed.  Oh, there were voices – but they were largely consigned to the fringes of society, with little or no chance of breaking through to reach the masses of people who’ve been duped, fleeced and fooled into believing that government is inevitably inept, taxes are a curse, and an uber-free market our salvation.

Some of the players in media are a part of this process; some are merely so immersed in the system they’ve forgotten that it wasn’t always this way.  But either way …

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Liberal Jews Trapped in 'Terrifying' New World of Uncompromising anti-Israel Views

From Haaretz:

Violent protests at a Jewish LGBTQ event in Chicago spotlight how growing emphasis on intersectionality is drowning out the nuances of debate in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Debra Nussbaum Cohen Jan 25, 2016

NEW YORK – The violent shut down of a Jerusalem-based LGBTQ forum by pro-Palestinian protesters in Chicago on Friday highlighted the growing influence of intersectionality in movements representing minorities and the increasing militancy of their anti-Israel views.

Gay Jews wanting to hear about the work of Jerusalem Open House were unwittingly caught in the middle of the protest at the Creating Change conference Friday night, which is the country’s largest LGBTQ gathering. They were sandwiched between anti-Israel activists and a reception intended to highlight the Israeli organization’s efforts. The protest at moments turned violent and threatened to become more so before being dispersed by police and staff at the Chicago Hilton, where the conference took place last week.

About 200 protesters crammed into a hotel hallway chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

The conference is organized by the National LGBTQ Task Force. The reception, designed to introduce JOH’s work in one of the most fraught cities anywhere for queer people, was hosted by A Wider Bridge, an American group that works to create relationships between LGBTQ people in America and Israel.

Steven Rosenberg, a psychiatric social worker in Chicago, went to Shabbat services at the conference and tried to go to the reception. He and a friend got caught in the crowd.

“It was a mob scene,” he said Sunday, still very shaken up. “I have no problem with there being a protest. I have a problem with people calling us murderers and racists. It was loud and they were chanting and hostile, and it felt like a very unsafe situation.”

“It was a mob scene,” he said Sunday, still very shaken up. “I have no problem with there being a protest. I have a problem with people calling us murderers and racists. It was loud and they were chanting and hostile, and it felt like a very unsafe situation.”

Complete article at:

After anti-Israel rally at gay rights conference, an Israeli discovers BDS

From The Times of Israel:

‘I knew about BDS, but I didn’t know how common or popular it was becoming,’ LGBTQ activist says as Jewish groups condemn protesters

By Eric Cortellessa January 26, 2016

WASHINGTON — After Jewish groups widely praised the National LGBTQ Task Force’s decision to reverse its cancellation of a Jewish reception featuring Israeli speakers at the 28th annual Creating Change Conference in Chicago, Illinois, they are now condemning what unfolded at that eventual reception on Friday, where roughly 200 protesters prevented the event from taking place.

After igniting fierce controversy last week for the initial cancellation, the nation’s oldest gay rights advocacy group called it “a mistake.” And while its executive director expressed concern over plans that had been circulating for a protest, she urged all involved to remain “peaceful” — counsel that, according to American Jewish organizations and one of the Israelis who was targeted, was not embraced.

But while American Jewish organizations have been monitoring for years the nature of anti-Israel efforts in the United States, the incident was illuminating for an Israeli who traveled to the Windy City not to discuss the political situation between Israelis and Palestinians, but to highlight the struggle for acceptance and equality for gay, lesbian and transgender persons in Israel.

The anti-Israel demonstrators who turned up Friday evening prevented Tom Canning and Sarah Kala-Meir of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, an Israeli LGBTQ advocacy group, from sharing with a crowd their experiences dealing with the aftermath a fatal stabbing at last summer’s Jerusalem pride parade, which they themselves organized.

“The reception after the Kabbalat Shabbat service was supposed to be very lighthearted. We were going to talk about our work, how we dealt with what happened at the pride parade, how it impacted our community and what are our hopes and dreams for the future of Jerusalem,” Canning told The Times of Israel. “That was our plan. But we didn’t get to say a word of what we were planning on saying.”

After Arthur Slepian, executive director of A Wider Bridge — an organization that builds ties between LGBTQ communities in North America and Israel, which hosted the event — showed a video to the attendees and introduced Canning and Kala-Meir, the protesters broke through security and entered the room, eventually commandeering the stage.

But while American Jewish organizations have been monitoring for years the nature of anti-Israel efforts in the United States, the incident was illuminating for an Israeli who traveled to the Windy City not to discuss the political situation between Israelis and Palestinians, but to highlight the struggle for acceptance and equality for gay, lesbian and transgender persons in Israel.
The anti-Israel demonstrators who turned up Friday evening prevented Tom Canning and Sarah Kala-Meir of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance, an Israeli LGBTQ advocacy group, from sharing with a crowd their experiences dealing with the aftermath a fatal stabbing at last summer’s Jerusalem pride parade, which they themselves organized.

“The reception after the Kabbalat Shabbat service was supposed to be very lighthearted. We were going to talk about our work, how we dealt with what happened at the pride parade, how it impacted our community and what are our hopes and dreams for the future of Jerusalem,” Canning told The Times of Israel. “That was our plan. But we didn’t get to say a word of what we were planning on saying.”

After Arthur Slepian, executive director of A Wider Bridge — an organization that builds ties between LGBTQ communities in North America and Israel, which hosted the event — showed a video to the attendees and introduced Canning and Kala-Meir, the protesters broke through security and entered the room, eventually commandeering the stage.

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Monday, January 25, 2016

Who Lost the White Working Class?

From Robert Reich:
Robert Reich
Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Why did the white working class abandon the Democrats?

The conventional answer is Republicans skillfully played the race card.

In the wake of the Civil Rights Act, segregationists like Alabama Governor George C. Wallace led southern whites out of the Democratic Party.

Later, Republicans charged Democrats with coddling black “welfare queens,“ being soft on black crime (“Willie Horton”), and trying to give jobs to less-qualified blacks over more-qualified whites (the battle over affirmative action).

The bigotry now spewing forth from Donald Trump and several of his Republican rivals is an extension of this old race card, now applied to Mexicans and Muslims – with much the same effect on the white working class voters, who don’t trust Democrats to be as “tough.”  

All true, but this isn't the whole story. Democrats also abandoned the white working class.
Democrats have occupied the White House for sixteen of the last twenty-four years, and in that time scored some important victories for working families – the Affordable Care Act, an expanded Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Family and Medical Leave Act, for example.

But they’ve done nothing to change the vicious cycle of wealth and power that has rigged the economy for the benefit of those at the top, and undermined the working class. In some respects, Democrats have been complicit in it. 

Both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama ardently pushed for free trade agreements, for example, without providing the millions of blue-collar workers who thereby lost their jobs any means of getting new ones that paid at least as well.

They also stood by as corporations hammered trade unions, the backbone of the white working class. Clinton and Obama failed to reform labor laws to impose meaningful penalties on companies that violated them, or enable workers to form unions with a simple up-or-down votes.

I was there. In 1992, Bill Clinton promised such reform but once elected didn’t want to spend political capital on it. In 2008, Barack Obama made the same promise (remember the Employee Free Choice Act?) but never acted on it.

Partly as a result, union membership sunk from 22 percent of all workers when Bill Clinton was elected president to fewer than 12 percent today, and the working class lost bargaining leverage to get a share of the economy’s gains.

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BDS and the Rising Danger of 'Intersectionality'

From Forward:

(JTA) — If you want to understand why the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, or BDS, has gained so much ground in the past two years, look no further than intersectionality, the study of related systems of oppression.

Intersectionality holds that various forms of oppression — racism, sexism, classism, ableism, and homophobia — constitute an intersecting system of oppression. In this worldview, a transcendent white, male, heterosexual power structure keeps down marginalized groups. Uniting oppressed groups, the theory goes, strengthens them against the dominant power structure.

As you might have guessed, the BDS movement has successfully injected the anti-Israel cause into these intersecting forms of oppression and itself into the interlocking communities of people who hold by them. So it’s increasingly likely that if a group sees itself as oppressed, it will see Israel as part of the dominant power structure doing the oppressing and Palestinians as fellow victims. That oppressed group will be susceptible to joining forces with the BDS movement.

At Columbia University, Students for Justice in Palestine managed to form an alliance with No Red Tape, a student group fighting sexual violence. What does opposing sexual violence have to do with Israel and the Palestinians?

“The way that No Red Tape conceives of sexual violence is a form of oppression that is related…to other forms of oppression,” said one group member.

“Sexual violence is a deeper political issue, and it cannot be divorced or separated from other oppressed identities,” said another No Red Tape member.

Intersectionality with the anti-Israel cause, unfortunately, has not been limited to groups working against sexual violence at Columbia. The anti-Israel website Mondoweiss recently declared that “since Mike Brown was shot by police in Ferguson … solidarity between the Black Lives Matter and Palestine movements has become an increasingly central tenet of both struggles.”

Other examples of groups and causes intersecting with BDS supporters abound, both on and off campus.

While anti-Israelism has long found a sympathetic ear among segments of the far left, it has not, until recently, enjoyed much popularity among ethnic minorities. Moreover, until recently, BDS supporters probably weren’t organized enough to do the necessary outreach to and stewardship of fellow marginalized groups. Now, evidently, they are.

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Why women over 50 can’t find jobs

From PBS News Hour:
BY Teresa Ghilarducci 
January 14, 2016 

If you’re a woman over the age of 50, finding work has statistically gotten harder since 2008.
The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis recently published a study that showed that half of the long-term unemployed are now women over 50. So what’s going on?

Economics correspondent Paul Solman sat down with Teresa Ghilarducci, a labor economist and the author of the new book, “How to Retire with Enough Money,” to talk about how age discrimination and assumptions about the worth of women’s labor affect the job and retirement prospects of “older” women workers.

For more on the topic, tune in to tonight’s Making Sen$e segment, which airs every Thursday on the PBS NewsHour. The following text has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.
Kristen Doerer, Making Sen$e Editor

Paul Solman: What explains discrimination against older women in the workplace?

Teresa Ghilarducci: So this is a really interesting finding, because we’ve all known about age discrimination, but I don’t think any of us thought that men were exempt. The fact that women are the ones that don’t get the jobs when they’re over 50 and looking for work does though, on second thought, make sense.

Paul Solman: Why does it make sense?

Teresa Ghilarducci: Well, a lot of what women do in their lives is punctuated by time outside of the labor market — taking care of family, taking care of children — and women’s labor has always been devalued. So if you have an older woman coming to you and applying for a job, you’re going to think about what kind of experiences she had, what kind of skills she might have. And rightly or wrongly, but probably unfairly, you’re going to assume that she had some time out of the labor market and that she was doing something that was basically worthless, because she wasn’t being paid for it.
The fact that caring labor is devalued in our society is something we’re going to have to confront when more and more people have to be cared for as they get older. But what it does right now is that it hits a woman really, really hard when she’s trying to get hired.

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National LGBTQ Task Force Condemns Anti-Semitism

Launches review of Creating Change Conference.

Chicago, IL, January 25, 2016 — The following statement is being released by Rea Carey, National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director, at the close of this year’s Creating Change Conference in Chicago, Illinois.

“I want to make this crystal clear: the National LGBTQ Task Force wholeheartedly condemns anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic statements made at any Task Force event including our Creating Change Conference. It is unacceptable. Hate speech of any kind is unacceptable whether it’s directed at Jewish or Muslim people. Let me also be clear regarding a reception planned and hosted by the group A Wider Bridge with guests from Jerusalem Open House that happened after the annual Shabbat service and a protest of that reception. We are deeply concerned about how the events of the evening unfolded — and have already initiated a review of our conference practices.

“The last couple of weeks leading-up to Creating Change have been rough. The events leading up to and during it have been extremely hurtful to many — and for really different reasons. What we all are experiencing is complicated and messy. We know that many people at Creating Change share our belief in the self-determination of all people. And for many we have failed to live up to the ideals of our mission or values. We are leaning into the struggle. As Creating Change has grown to over 4,000 people, we are experiencing some of what happens when we ask people to be their full selves, to bring their whole selves to Creating Change… and those whole selves come into conflict.

“There have been many protests over the 28 years of the conference — and peaceful protest has been a hallmark of the pursuit of civil rights in our country. Receptions have never been protested at Creating Change in all its history. We acted to defuse the situation to the best of our ability. Without consulting us, hotel security called the police.

“This year’s conference revealed a variety of needed improvements to the systems and infrastructure we have built over the years for a smaller conference — that now need to be evolved to meet the challenges of a growing attendance. In light of all that has happened, I have already started a review of the Conference so we can make needed changes in the future. Among them are: inclusiveness and program content review; safety and security; and promoting conversation and peaceful protest.

“We know we have much to learn and many to learn from. As we work hard to improve the Creating Change Conference experience over the next year, we will include in that review process consulting widely with leaders in different communities, supporters and stakeholders.

“The Creating Change Conference, for the past 28 years, has been both a family reunion, a home for activists, a movement town hall and a place for movement building, for wrestling with the hard issues, and to energize activists to press on. It has always been a special place and will continue to be as it evolves and grows. If not the Task Force, who? If not Creating Change, where?”

Jorge Amaro, Media Relations Director, 213.842.7564,
Mark Daley, Chief Communications and Marketing Officer, 202.379.8318,

How Intersectionality Makes You Stupid

From Tablet

A gay-rights group, caving to anti-Israel extremists, decides to cancel an ‘intensely divisive’ Jewish event—and then, under opposite pressure, decides to include it. The flawed lesson? The victim who shouts the loudest gets what they want in today’s hyper-politicized cultural climate.

January 21, 2016
As I write this, ISIS is hunting gay men to toss from the rooftops of Raqaa, and nearly 80 countries proscribe homosexuality. Yet for a 36-hour period earlier this week, the National LGBTQ Task Force chose to ally itself not with the one country in the Middle East that guarantees and protects the human rights of LGBTQ people, but with those who hang them from construction cranes.

On Sunday, the Task Force announced that it had canceled a post-Shabbat service reception at its annual Creating Change conference organized by the San Francisco-based nonprofit A Wider Bridge, which builds connections between LGBT communities in North America and Israel. Headlining the evening were representatives from Jerusalem Open House, an LGBT community center that serves a diverse array of constituencies, Palestinians and Israeli Arabs among them. Caving to pressure from a handful of anti-Israel extremists, the Task Force withdrew its sponsorship and kicked A Wider Bridge off its program.

“We canceled the reception when it became clear to us it would be intensely divisive rather than the community-building, social atmosphere which is the norm for Friday night at the conference,” Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey said in an emailed statement. Tyler Gregory, Deputy Director of A Wider Bridge, told the Washington Blade that the Task Force “recommended we either cancel [the] event, or ensure that our event speakers condemn the Israeli government in their remarks,” though which aspects of Israel’s government the Task Force expected A Wider Bridge—which receives no Israeli government funding—to “condemn” were left vague. Refusing to comply with either demand, A Wider Bridge was forced to move its event to a different hotel.

Carey’s contention that the happening—announced months ago—would be “intensely divisive” appears to rest on complaints registered by just three people: Dean Spade, a transgender professor at the Seattle University School of Law and a self-described “trans south Asian performance art duo” named Dark Matter. These, at least, were the only individuals named in the Blade story as having made public statements egging on the Task Force to engage in what is effectively an act of anti-Semitic prejudice and segregation.

And let there be no confusion: A non-compulsory Shabbat dinner and discussion of the Israeli LGBT experience is “divisive” in the way that the presence of a gay man in a locker room is “divisive.” It only “offends” the sensibilities of bigots. When a white person refuses to sit at a lunch counter next to a black person, or a straight football player refuses to play alongside a gay one, we have a word for that: discrimination. Nonetheless, a group ostensibly committed to fighting discrimination and that holds a conference so inclusive of the world’s many diversities that it provides “scent-free” areas for individuals highly sensitive to smell, bowed to those wanting to make it Jew-free as well.

Fortunately, after complaints by grassroots activists and high-profile gay Jews like Congressman Jared Polis and Robbie Kaplan, the lawyer who successfully argued the landmark marriage equality case United States vs. Windsor, the Task Force came to its senses, and announced Tuesday morning that it had reversed its decision to cancel the Israel-themed evening. What she had just hours earlier described as an “intensely divisive” program, Carey now says is integral to “our core value of inclusion.”

This is an edifying moment for gays, Jews, and the broader left. Were they to let this act of blatant discrimination stand, the leaders of the Task Force would have betrayed all these communities by succumbing to the heckler’s veto. In the loftier precincts of progressive journalism, higher education, and the non-profit world, those hecklers tend to be proponents of “intersectionality,” a voguish theory purporting that power is inextricably linked to aspects of identity like race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation, and that an individual’s “marginalization” is thus determined by their accumulation of various traits. Across the country, pseudo-intellectual totalitarians posing as outcasts regularly intimidate earnest but spineless liberals into capitulation. From the Oscar red carpet to Yale University quads, whoever shouts the loudest and claims victimization on account of more facets of their identity can expect to get what they demand, regardless of the quality or even logic of what they have to say.

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Is mindfulness making us ill?

As a life long skeptic I have always found the number of otherwise intelligent people who fall for New Age mumbo jumbo to be mind blowing.

After having my mind truly expanded by people like  Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller, Carl Sagan and other scientists, futurists and artists I watched people fall for bullshit like Scientology and est.

As an atheist I was appalled at the number of feminist women who fell for crap like homeopathy, crystals, feng shui, wicca and the whole panoply of questionable practices.

Granted all of the above are just as valid as any religion but that is the point.  Why go to all the effort to reject a traditional religion with great holidays only to embrace one with crappy at best holidays?

I am further appalled by health plans that pay for all this "alternative medicine."  As Tim Minchin pointed out, "There is a name for alternative medicine that works, it is called medicine.

From The Guardian UK:

It’s the relaxation technique of choice, popular with employers and even the NHS. But some have found it can have unexpected effects

Saturday 23 January 2016

I am sitting in a circle in a grey, corporate room with 10 housing association employees – administrators, security guards, cleaners – eyes darting about nervously. We are asked to eat a sandwich in silence. To think about every taste and texture, every chewing motion and bite. Far from being relaxed, I feel excruciatingly uncomfortable and begin to wonder if my jaw is malfunctioning.
 I’m here to write about a new mindfulness initiative, and since I’ve never to my knowledge had any mental health issues and usually thrive under stress, I anticipate a straightforward, if awkward, experience.

Then comes the meditation. We’re told to close our eyes and think about our bodies in relation to the chair, the floor, the room: how each limb touches the arms, the back, the legs of the seat, while breathing slowly. But there’s one small catch: I can’t breathe. No matter how fast, slow, deep or shallow my breaths are, it feels as though my lungs are sealed. My instincts tell me to run, but I can’t move my arms or legs. I feel a rising panic and worry that I might pass out, my mind racing. Then we’re told to open our eyes and the feeling dissipates. I look around. No one else appears to have felt they were facing imminent death. What just happened?

For days afterwards, I feel on edge. I have a permanent tension headache and I jump at the slightest unexpected noise. The fact that something seemingly benign, positive and hugely popular had such a profound effect has taken me by surprise.

Mindfulness, the practice of sitting still and focusing on your breath and thoughts, has surged in popularity over the last few years, with a boom in apps, online courses, books and articles extolling its virtues. It can be done alone or with a guide (digital or human), and with so much hand-wringing about our frenetic, time-poor lifestyles and information overload, it seems to offer a wholesome solution: a quiet port in the storm and an opportunity for self-examination. The Headspace app, which offers 10-minute guided meditations on your smartphone, has more than three million users worldwide and is worth over £25m. Meanwhile, publishers have rushed to put out workbooks and guides to line the wellness shelves in bookshops.

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Ted Cruz - Born Near The USA

The left must admit the truth about the assaults on women in Cologne

From The Guardian UK:

When the rights of women and a warm reception for migrants come into conflict, it’s understandable if the left panics – but we have to salvage nuance

Saturday 9 January 2016
Oh dear. It’s leftageddon. Two matters close to the progressive heart have been pitted against each other. In one corner, the right of women to stroll down the street, wearing what we like to wear without being mistaken for a walking, gilt-edged invitation to cop a free feel. In the other, the right of men, women and children to flee war, oppression and privation to seek refuge in other countries, without being seen as a swarm of subhuman parasites who will destroy any naive host who welcomes them. Tricky.

News of events in Cologne on New Year’s Eve filtered out slowly, but it has become glaringly obvious that during celebrations in that city – and, to a lesser extent, other German cities – many women were targeted by gangs of men who surrounded them and subjected them to sexual assaults. The women, and witnesses, say that their attackers seemed to be from the Middle East or north Africa. Critics of Germany’s open-door refugee policy say they warned us. Nightmare.

Short of going full conspiracy-theory, and suggesting a) that rightwing German men have slapped on the fake tan in a fiendish effort to engineer a revolt against German immigration policy; or b) that rightwing German men have slapped on the fake tan and dresses, then made it all up, to the same end, there appear to be few uncomplicated ways to blame the right for all this.

I’m not counting the argument that says there is no hard evidence that these were refugees, because – let’s face it – it’s silly to pretend that the word “refugee” is synonymous with the word “saint” anyway.

Only a simpleton – or, more commonly, person driven by instinct and emotion – thinks you can counter the uncompromising prejudice of “all immigrants are bad” with the uncompromising prejudice of “all immigrants are good”. The debate is worth having because the story has presented itself to us, whether the story is true or not. It will keep on presenting itself, in some form or another, until we can achieve some measure of agreement over what the story means.

The stereotypical right tends to blame the stereotypical left for all its woes in an uncomplicated way. The stereotypical left tends to respond with similar clod-hopping generalisation. But the hopeful columnist can still believe it possible to salvage some nuance; perhaps even, heaven forfend, some useful and solid points on which both left and right can agree.

First, these were opportunistic, organised crimes. The fact that they were carried out in the open, in front of many witnesses, suggests that the perpetrators were pretty sure they would get away with it. Sexual criminals who get away with things tend to become more ambitious. There’s no denying that this is a serious problem.

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Six Responses to Bernie Skeptics

From Robert Reich:

Robert Reich
Saturday, January 16, 2016

1. “He’d never beat Trump or Cruz in a general election.”

Wrong. According to the latest polls, Bernie is the strongest Democratic candidate in the general election, defeating both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz in hypothetical matchups. (The latest Real Clear Politics averages of all polls shows Bernie beating Trump by a larger margin than Hillary beats Trump, and Bernie beating Cruz while Hillary loses to Cruz.)

2. “He couldn’t get any of his ideas implemented because Congress would reject them.”

If both house of Congress remain in Republican hands, no Democrat will be able to get much legislation through Congress, and will have to rely instead on executive orders and regulations. But there’s a higher likelihood of kicking Republicans out if Bernie’s “political revolution” continues to surge around America, bringing with it millions of young people and other voters, and keeping them politically engaged.

3. “America would never elect a socialist.”

P-l-e-a-s-e. America’s most successful and beloved government programs are social insurance – Social Security and Medicare. A highway is a shared social expenditure, as is the military and public parks and schools. The problem is we now have excessive socialism for the rich (bailouts of Wall Street, subsidies for Big Ag and Big Pharma, monopolization by cable companies and giant health insurers, giant tax-deductible CEO pay packages) – all of which Bernie wants to end or prevent.

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America | Bernie Sanders

Friday, January 22, 2016

Dumbing Down University

Richest 62 people as wealthy as half of world's population, says Oxfam

From The Guardian UK:

Charity says only higher wages, crackdown on tax dodging and higher investment in public services can stop divide widening

The vast and growing gap between rich and poor has been laid bare in a new Oxfam report showing that the 62 richest billionaires own as much wealth as the poorer half of the world’s population.

Timed to coincide with this week’s gathering of many of the super-rich at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, the report calls for urgent action to deal with a trend showing that 1% of people own more wealth than the other 99% combined.

The charity said that, in 2010, the 388 richest people owned the same wealth as the poorest 50%. This dropped to 80 in 2014 before falling again in 2015.

Mark Goldring, the Oxfam GB chief executive, said: “It is simply unacceptable that the poorest half of the world population owns no more than a small group of the global super-rich – so few, you could fit them all on a single coach.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

It is like ‘Nazi Germany’: Federal officer furious after local cops rip apart his car looking for cash

From Raw Story:
20 Jan 2016

In May of 2014, Ronnie and Lisa Hankins were driving back from his grandfather’s funeral in Virginia when they were targeted by a gang of police officers in search of cash.

As Lisa drove the couple westbound down I-40, they saw an officer, who happened to be with the 23rd Judicial District Drug Task Force, and Hankins correctly predicted that they were about to be pulled over.

“I told her we are going to get pulled over,” Ronnie said to NewsChannel 5.
“What made you think he was going to stop you?” NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked.

“Because we had out-of-state license plates and my wife is Hispanic,” he explained.

The couple was then pulled over, and the officer quickly separated them before beginning his harassment of Lisa. In the video, the officer is heard badgering Lisa in an attempt to get her to consent to a search.

“You say there’s not anything illegal in it. Do you mind if I search it today to make sure?” the officer asked.

Lisa responded, “I’d have to talk to my husband.”

The cop continued to intimidate and harass her, “I am asking you for permission to search your vehicle today — and you are well within your rights to say ‘no,’ and you can say ‘yes.’ It’s totally up to you as to whether you want to show cooperation or not.”

Knowing that they had done nothing wrong and the officer had no reason to search them, Lisa continued to assert her rights and refused the search.

“You have to either give me a yes or no,” the cop continued. “I do need an answer so I can figure out whether I need a dog to go around it or not.”

After going back and forth and realizing that this couple was not going to give consent, a second officer brings out a drug dog. As the Free Thought Project previously reported, data shows that police K-9s will alert almost every single time they are called out, regardless of the presence of drugs. 
The Hankins’ case, on the side of I-40, was no different.

“We’ve ran a dog, and the dog’s alerted on the vehicle. So we are going to be searching it, OK? And whatever is in there we are going to find in just a second,” said the officer to the couple.

“There’s never been any drugs in the vehicle and never will be,” Ronnie declared.

Ronnie became furious as he knew that the dog did not alert on his vehicle; he knows this because he is also a cop. He’s a federal police officer at the Marine Corps Air Station-Miramar in San Diego.

“You are lying about the dog hitting on the car. The dog didn’t hit on the car either. You guys are drug task force. You are out here harassing me and my wife when I am just coming back from a funeral,” he said.

The agent, knowing full well that Ronnie was a cop, responded sarcastically, “That is exactly how I would expect most police officers to act.”

“Just like a child, you can make a child say anything you want. You can make a dog do whatever you want to if you train them the right way,” Ronnie explained to NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

For nearly an hour, cops held the innocent couple on the side of the interstate while they tore Lisa’s new car apart. They even went so far as to rip the dashboard out. They found no drugs.

But after finding no drugs, the truth came out —  these cops weren’t looking for drugs at all — they wanted cash.

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Elizabeth Warren SLAMS Hillary Clinton With Most Damaging Evidence To Date

Friday, January 15, 2016

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Anti-vaxxer loons go ballistic on Mark Zuckerberg after he posts photo of daughter’s doctor visit

The Anti-Vax trip seems to have its roots in the anti-western medicine branch of the New Age Bullshit.  As Tim Minchin says,  "What do they call alternative medicine that works?  Oh yes they call it medicine."

From Raw Story:

09 Jan 2016

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stirred up a hornet’s nest of anti-science sentiment on Friday when he posted a photo on Facebook of himself with his daughter Max at the doctor’s office.
Zuckerberg’s offense?  Writing “Doctor’s visit — time for vaccines!

The Facebook posting immediately drew both praise and condemnation for the tech billionaire, as supporters of childhood vaccinations battled with anti-vaxxers in the comments on a post that was “liked” over 2.5 million times.

Among the over 56,000 comments were many who praised Zuckerberg for caring about his daughter’s health, including Stuart Duncan who wrote: “As someone with autism, with a son with autism, as someone who is constantly watching good people put their own children at serious risk because of old, fraudulent fears of vaccines and autism… thank you for being sensible. Thank you for doing what’s right and also for showing everyone else that it’s the right thing to do as well.”

The anti-vaxx movement has fought against child hood immunizations based upon a since discredited study linking childhood vaccines to autism. The anti-vaxx movement recently funded a new study  looking for a link, only to have it blow up in their faces when researchers returned empty-handed.
Whether Zuckerberg’s post was meant as a taunt or a simple reminder to get children vaccinated, the negative response was to be expected — or as Laura-Kathleen Redman commented, ” *patiently waits for anti-vaxxers to show up*”

And show up, they did.

“We all care about our kids. Growing up, my mom’s best friend had a perfectly healthy daughter. She received MMR and had a grand mal seizure and suffered brain damage. Her dr diagnosed her with vaccine injury. She was left unable to talk or walk for the rest of her life. So that was MY first personal experience with vaccines,” Amy Smith wrote. “Bottom line…A pharmaceutical that carries at least a risk of harm to some, should never be mandated. Because, in the end, no one seems to care about the ‘sacrifices’ made for the ‘common good.'”

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