Abortion foes to try ‘personhood’ measures in Montana and Colorado

From The Billings Gazette: http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/abortion-foes-to-try-again-in-montana/article_ad0f86dc-1470-11e1-8436-001cc4c002e0.html

Associated Press | Posted: Monday, November 21, 2011

DENVER - An anti-abortion group that sponsored an unsuccessful constitutional amendment in Mississippi said Monday it will try again next year in Montana, Colorado and Oregon.

Denver-based Personhood USA has campaigned for state constitutional amendments defining life as beginning at fertilization. The amendments sought to ban abortion. Many physicians have said they could make some birth control illegal and deter in vitro fertilization.

Personhood amendments have failed twice in Colorado, and Mississippi voters rejected an amendment this year.

A new version of the measure “will protect every child, no matter their size, level of development, gender, age or race,” Jennifer Mason, spokeswoman for Personhood USA, told The Denver Post.

Personhood USA said it would submit its proposed ballot language to the Colorado secretary of state’s office for approval before collecting signatures to place it on the ballot.

Personhood USA Looks To Colorado Despite Series Of Losses

From Right Wing Watch: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/personhood-usa-looks-colorado-despite-series-losses

Submitted by Brian Tashman
November 21, 2011

After winning just 27 percent of the vote in 2008, activists with Personhood USA’s state chapter Personhood Colorado were encouraged enough by their 29 percent showing last year to place a third personhood amendment on the state ballot in 2012. Even though the personhood proponents lost, badly, in Mississippi in November, they are hoping to present to Colorado voters a ballot measure with ambiguous language that if passed would give legal rights to zygotes and criminalize abortion and common forms of birth control:

The Colorado Personhood Amendment marks a departure from traditional, one-sentence personhood amendments, which have been among the shortest ballot initiatives in the United States. The new amendment was written by Gualberto Garcia Jones, legal analyst for Personhood USA and a founding member of Personhood Colorado, and Kristi Brown (nèe Burton), sponsor of the 2008 Personhood amendment. The language of the new Personhood amendment includes the following definitions:

(a) “PERSON” APPLIES TO EVERY HUMAN BEING REGARDLESS OF THE METHOD OF CREATION.

(b) A “HUMAN BEING” IS A MEMBER OF THE SPECIES HOMO SAPIENS AT ANY STAGE OF DEVELOPMENT.

With the new language, Personhood Colorado may also shift its ad campaign.

Complete article at:  http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/personhood-usa-looks-colorado-despite-series-losses

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Did “God” Tell Congress to Wage War on Women?

From RH Reality Check:   http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2011/11/19/god-to-congress-wage-war-on-women

by Ellen Shaffer, Trust Women/Silver Ribbon Campaign
November 19, 2011

God has apparently signed off on the war on women.

Thanks to at least one member of Congress for setting us straight on that.

“It is not our job as Catholics to tell God what he should do. It is our job to learn and follow his teachings. Conscience is not convenience. We must enforce the laws of God.”

This was Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), who, having ascertained that the supreme deity is male, explained why Congress should deprive employees of Catholic schools, hospitals, and charities of the right to purchase affordable birth control, regardless of the employees’ own beliefs or practices. His statements were made at a hearing of the Health Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on Wednesday, November 2, 2011.

Republicans in Congress are truly on the warpath against women’s rights, and in many cases against reason.

Just a few points here about women and contraception. For starters, while it usually takes two to conceive a child, only women get pregnant. The right and ability to make independent decisions about whether and when to become a parent are fundamental to every other aspect of a woman’s life: whether society recognizes women as autonomous, independent, responsible, and competent; and whether women themselves experience the same opportunities as men to acquire education and employment, and to construct a meaningful life based on loving relationships.

Cost is a barrier to purchasing birth control for lower-income women. More effective forms like new, safe intrauterine devices (IUDs) cost more than a year’s supply of birth control pills or devices like diaphragms which are cheaper overall but also are less reliable. The rate of unintended pregnancies is soaring among low-income women, and at 132 per thousand women ages 15 to 44 is five times higher than the rate for higher income women (those over 200 percent of poverty). Low income women are more likely to have unplanned births. The costs of contraception are minute compared to the costs of pregnancy and delivery, in dollars as well as in human health.

The new health reform law, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), calls for covering preventive health care services without requiring co-payments, effective in 2010. Co-payments are fees individuals must pay when they go for care, in addition to their premiums, and are intended to discourage health care visits. The problem is that they discourage people from getting care they need, particularly low-income people. Preventive health care services like flu shots can protect health by avoiding illnesses entirely or catching them early, and also save money. The ACA eliminated these co-payments for prevention.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2011/11/19/god-to-congress-wage-war-on-women

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Greece is a financial crime scene : Greg Palast Vultures’ Picnic

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Last Night’s Day of Remembrance

When I go to Transgender labeled events I feel like an ally rather than part of the group.

I was already over 20 years post-op when the ideology of “Transgender as Umbrella” started to take hold.

I feel the same way about having the Transgender Borg ideology pushed on me as I feel about those who try to push religion on me or ask me to “pray for someone”.  First of all I don’t believe in god and secondly I am not superstitious and don’t believe in prayer.

TDOR is about the only time  I ever spend in any sort of religious institution.  It is sort of the equivalent of a mass funeral ceremony.  I go because the violence  and murder of transsexual and transgender people is wrong.  I go for the same reasons I protest against war.

I don’t go because I consider myself transgender.  I have a few post-transsexual friends but due to age and hard lives I no longer have any transgender friends although one of my long time post-op friends identifies as such.

I go to these events and feel alienated.  I leave and feel, “Okay I did my part now I can go back to blogging occasionally on the subject.

My heart just isn’t into getting involved with the transgender community although I have Facebook friends who are seriously involved with “The Community.”

Yet when I am fighting for environmental issues, those include TS/TG people. The same for Occupy, Labor Rights, Ending the War on Drugs, Women’s Rights. Etc…  Because TS/TG people are part of the people who are systematically oppressed by the same things non-trans people are.

I think part of the problem is that I do issues politics not identity politics.

I’m not going to set aside politics to consider a right wing transgender woman my sister because after all we are both transgender or transsexual and that should transcend political differences.  Screw that shit.  If I wouldn’t have anything to do with you or your Nazioid politics if you weren’t trans, your being trans doesn’t mean shit to me.  Even if you are Ann Coulter and allegedly trans.

I’ve ended friendships because I could no longer abide the racist or right wing attitudes of certain people.  That is true with a lot of people.

I’ve ended friendships with religious trip pushers as well.

As for my being a member of “The Community”…  In 2007 Tina and I went to the Media Reform Conference in Memphis.  We felt a good deal of common cause with the people there,  shared concerns regarding the squelching of both Freedom of the Press by the power of money and the level of right wing censorship of the news.  The American Press had played a major role in the propagandizing of the American people during the build up of public opinion prior to the invasion of Iraq.

Since early Spring Tina and I have been going to labor events because the Corporations and Republicans have been royally fucking over working people and the unemployed/under-employed.  As for the poorest of the poor…  The fucking over of them started when Nixon replaced the War on Poverty with Welfare.

Last night after the event we talked about how we felt out of place and analyzed our feelings.  I remember when “straight” wasn’t just about sexuality and also stood in opposition to hip.  I said, “For one thing, and this may sound odd, but…  They were all so straight.  I didn’t feel I belonged”

I didn’t feel that at the Media Reform Conference, I don’t feel that at Occupy or any other left wing demonstration.  I don’t feel that at most progressive events and I certainly don’t feel that at Pride Day events.

This isn’t a new experience.

It wasn’t the doctors who told us to get away from or leave the transsexual community after SRS, it was our personal life experiences.  Once the surgery/surgeries are over and done with there isn’t all that much to keep you being part of the community.

It becomes a matter of issue vs identity.  For me issues have always been more important.

People’s U: Arundhati Roy

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Occupy Oakland: footage shows police beating ‘peaceful’ Iraq war veteran

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/18/occupy-oakland-police-beating-veteran

Oakland police investigating after ex-marine Kayvan Sabehgi suffered a ruptured spleen in apparently unprovoked incident

guardian.co.uk, Friday 18 November 2011

Video footage has emerged of a police officer beating an Iraq war veteran so hard that he suffered a ruptured spleen in an apparently unprovoked incident at a recent Occupy protest in California.

The footage, which has been shared with the Guardian, shows Kayvan Sabehgi standing in front of a police line on the night of Occupy Oakland‘s general strike on 2 November, when he is set upon by an officer.

He does not appear to be posing any threat, nor does he attempt to resist, yet he is hit numerous times by an officer clad in riot gear who appears determined to beat him to the ground.

Sabehgi, 32, an Oakland resident and former marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, has since undergone surgery on his spleen. He says it took hours for him to be taken to hospital, despite complaining of severe pain. Police have told the Guardian they are investigating the incident.

The footage was recorded by artist and photographer Neil Rivas, who said Sabehgi was “completely peaceful” before he was beaten. “It was uncalled for,” said Rivas. “There were no curse words. He was telling them he was a war vet, a resident of Oakland, a business owner.”

Sabehgi has previously said he was talking to officers in a non-violent manner prior to his arrest, which the footage appears to confirm.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/18/occupy-oakland-police-beating-veteran

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Defense Secretary Panetta: Wrong on Military Spending

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OWS, Police Brutality, and the War on Terror: An Empire State of Mind

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/11/20-2

by Falguni Sheth
Published on Sunday, November 20, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

Over the last week, among the multiple images that horrified and angered the American public, two stood out: One is an image of Dorli Rainey, an 84 year old protester at Occupy Seattle with milk dripping from her face after being pepper-sprayed by a uniformed Seattle officer. Another is the video clip of a uniformed Davis, California police officer pulling out two cans of pepper-spray and directing it at the faces of non-aggressive, stationary student protesters at UC Davis. Both images have gone viral. I suspect this is because there is something so grotesque and terrifying about watching a uniformed officer pull out a can of chemicals that are designed to seriously, if temporarily, cripple and paralyze the its victims. Watching the lurid spectacle happen in real-time has the effect of paralyzing the viewer.

Occupy Seattle’s Dorli RaineyBesides the outrage that these events provoked, several questions have been raised, even by those who have followed most global political news over the last decade: “What are they thinking? Why these heavy-handed tactics? Why is it ok to assault people instead of arrest them?” And others, perhaps without knowing why, are horrified but not at all surprised. Why not?

These heavy-handed tactics should come as no surprise to any of us. The ability to assault people prior to—no, instead of arresting and charging them with crimes—has become an explicit staple of United States foreign policy since the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, on Oct. 22, 2001. That bill, some 350 pages long and written over much longer than a month’s time, authorized the state police and army forces to wiretap, investigate, search and detain individuals as part of a pre-emptive strategy to seek out “suspected terrorists,” that is, before they could do damage to “US” (pun intended). Augmented to this was G.W. Bush’s presidential endorsement of torture and rendition strategies, along with the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan under the auspices of waging a “War on Terror” and the associated military bombings of thousands of people in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (with President Obama’s continued support of rendition, the expansion of military drones targeted towards “suspected Al-Qaeda” buildings, and of course, civilians). Tack on Presidential Obama’s enthusiasm to assassinate suspected terrorists in lieu of a trial (Osama Bin Laden), even when they are American citizens (Anwar Al-Awlaki and Samir Khan).

What does any of this have to with police brutality in response to peaceful political dissent and protests in NYC, Berkeley, Seattle, Oakland, Davis, and elsewhere around the country? Everything. We are in an “Empire State of Mind,” with apologies to Jay Z and Alicia Keyes. We have become conditioned to accept and expect police brutality to be imposed on everyone but “US”: African-American men and women; Muslim men and women all over the world, including Western and Northern Europe; Latino migrants in the US. We have also become used to justifying police brutality as directed towards “people who deserve it.” This, at bottom, is an Empire State of Mind. An Empire State of Mind is one where those who order and those who carry out the brutalization and murder, can do so with the assurance of complete impunity because they have the approval of political and media elites, and through them, a widespread public.

Continue reading at:   http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/11/20-2

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Decline of American Exceptionalism

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/19/opinion/blow-decline-of-american-exceptionalism.html?_r=1&scp=3&sq=charles%20blow&st=cse

By CHARLES M. BLOW
Published: November 18, 2011

Is America exceptional among nations? Are we, as a country and a people and a culture, set apart and better than others? Are we, indeed, the “shining city upon a hill” that Ronald Reagan described? Are we “chosen by God and commissioned by history to be a model to the world” as George W. Bush said?

This year, for the first time, most Americans did not say yes.

According to a report issued on Thursday by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project, when Americans were asked if they agreed with the statement “our people are not perfect but our culture is superior to others,” only 49 percent agreed. That’s down from 60 percent in 2002, the first time that Pew asked the question.

Perhaps even more striking was that, among young people (those ages 18 to 29), the percentage of Americans who believed that their culture was superior was lower than young citizens of Germany, Spain and Britain.

Even if you put aside the somewhat loaded terminology of cultural superiority, Americans simply don’t seem to feel very positive about America at the moment. A Time Magazine/Abt SRBI poll conducted last month found that 71 percent of Americans believed that our position in the world has been on the decline in the past few years.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/19/opinion/blow-decline-of-american-exceptionalism.html?_r=1&scp=3&sq=charles%20blow&st=cse

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Egypt’s naked blogger is a bomb aimed at the patriarchs in our minds

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/18/egypt-naked-blogger-aliaa-mahdy

By posing naked, Aliaa Mahdy has brilliantly challenged the misogyny and sexual hypocrisy of Egypt’s leaders

guardian.co.uk, Friday 18 November 2011

When a woman is the sum total of her headscarf and hymen – that is, what’s on her head and what is between her legs – then nakedness and sex become weapons of political resistance. You can witness how nudity sears through layers of hypocrisy and repression by following Aliaa Mahdy, a 20-year-old Egyptian who lit the fuse of that double-H bomb when she posted a nude photograph of herself on her blog last week.

It was in Egypt, after all, that the ruling military junta stripped women of both headscarves (detained female activists were made to strip) and hymens when it subjected them to “virginity tests” last March, by which a soldier inserted two fingers into their vaginal opening. What are the military’s “virginity tests”, but a cheap tactic to humiliate and silence? When sexual assault parades as a test of the “honour” of virginity, then posing in your parents’ home in nothing but stockings, red shoes and a red hair clip is an attack towards all patriarchs out there.

Supporters and detractors quickly lined up to comment on her blog, where the counter for pageviews outpaces a pendulum many times over. Far from the immature naïf some have tried to paint her as being, Mahdy knows exactly where it hurts – and kicks. She wrote:

“Put on trial the artists’ models who posed nude for art schools until the early 70s, hide the art books and destroy the nude statues of antiquity, then undress and stand before a mirror and burn your bodies that you despise to forever rid yourselves of your sexual hangups before you direct your humiliation and chauvinism and dare to try to deny me my freedom of expression”.

She might have been born 10 years into Hosni Mubarak’s rule, but Mahdy understands the way personal freedoms have steadily shrunk in Egypt. The double whammy of military rule – in place since 1952 – along with the growing influence of Islamism, ensured that. Mubarak would fill jails with Islamists, but would fight their ideas not by giving civil and personal liberties room to express themselves, but through conservative clerics employed by the state. When the only two sides fighting are conservative – even if one of them is just conservative in appearance – then everyone loses. And women don’t just lose; they’re also used as cheap ammunition.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/nov/18/egypt-naked-blogger-aliaa-mahdy

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Young, Gay And Homeless: Fighting For Resources

From NPR:  http://www.npr.org/2011/11/20/142364493/young-gay-and-homeless-fighting-for-resources

by
November 20, 2011

A number of studies of homeless youth in big cities put forth a startling statistic: Depending on the study, somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of homeless youths identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

It’s largely because gay youths are more often kicked out of their homes than straight youths. And even if they are not kicked out, they may feel so uncomfortable that they leave.

In New York City, nearly 4,000 young people are homeless every night — many of them gay.

Reaching Out To Homeless Youths

On the Christopher Street pier in Greenwich Village, where dozens of gay and transgender youths hang out, Carter Seabron and Elena Wood of Safe Horizon’s Streetwork Project hand out snacks, condoms and information. The organization sends out several nightly teams to find homeless youths.

“Would you like a snack?” Seabron and Wood ask. Oreos, Rice Krispies treats and chewy bars are the favorites. They also give out information about Streetwork’s drop-in centers, where young people can get showers, clothing and housing referrals.

Seabron, the outreach coordinator for the Streetwork Project, says that “for the most part, the majority of youth we see who identify as being homeless also identify as being LGBT.”

Wood says not all of them are thrown out of their homes, although many are.

Continue reading at:  http://www.npr.org/2011/11/20/142364493/young-gay-and-homeless-fighting-for-resources

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Anonymous – Message to Occupy the World 11-18-11

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Freakonomics Blog: Still Wrong on Local Food

From Mother Jones: http://motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2011/11/freakonomics-blog-still-wrong-local-food

By Tom Philpott
Fri Nov. 18, 2011

When we last checked in with him, Freakonomics blogger Steven Sexton was ludicrously blaming the “local food movement” for a listeria outbreak that sickened people over a swath of the nation stretching from New York to Alabama to Oregon.

Now Sexton is back with an even broader indictment of local food. This one starts off on shaky ground, and then plunges into an abyss of self-assured and deeply flawed analysis. Honestly, I would not spend time engaging with it if I didn’t know that serious people, some of whom wield real political power, automatically regard the Freakonomics brand with credulity. So here goes.

 Sexton opens by raising the specter of a vast political tide on the verge of imposing relocalization on the US food system. A “Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act” has been introduced in Congress, Sexton informs us, which would allot about $200 million to local farm programs. He acknowledges that that sum amounts to a “rounding error in the $3.7 trillion federal budget”—but that’s not all! The local food lobby is formidible. Just look:

But the bill follows on a federal rule that gives preference to local farms in contract bidding for school lunches. It also builds on high-profile advocacy by Michelle Obama, who has become a leader of the food reform movement, joining the likes of Michael Pollan, the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and famed-chef Alice Waters.

All of this is nonsense. In terms of influencing public policy, the local-food movement is stuck in the mud. The Local Farms, Food and Jobs Act, paltry sum notwithstanding, has no chance of passing. Meanwhile, a few members of Congress are currently holed up writing a “secret farm bill” which, if it passes, would slash funds for local food projects and provide yet more billions of dollars of public support for the kind of large-scale agriculture Sexton loves.

Continue reading at:  http://motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2011/11/freakonomics-blog-still-wrong-local-food

5 Ridiculous Myths People Use to Trash Local Food — And Why They’re Wrong

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/food/153121/5_ridiculous_myths_people_use_to_trash_local_food_–_and_why_they%27re_wrong/

Articles “debunking” the local food movement are stale, shallow and often incorrect.

By Jill Richardson
November 18, 2011

It’s become predictable. At nearly regular intervals, someone, somewhere, will decide it’s time to write another article “debunking” the local food movement. The latest installment is by Steve Sexton, posted on the Freakonomics blog (which also treated us to a previous post called “Do We Really Need a Few Billion Locavores?“) And we must not forget the leading anti-locavore, James McWilliams, who gave us “The Locavore Myth” and many other, similar articles.

The arguments are stale, shallow and often incorrect. But if you enjoy the flavor of organic heirloom tomatoes, fresh picked from the farm, here’s how to read these articles without filling with guilt that your love of local food is doing the planet in and starving people in the Global South.

Myth #1: People who eat local eat the same diet as those who don’t.

A favorite anti-locavore argument is that eating local does not reduce oil usage or carbon emissions. Now, if locavores were munching on locally produced Big Macs and other highly processed foods as the rest of the mainstream food system does, this argument might be correct. But that’s not the case.

James McWilliams likes to use the example of a study on lamb which shows that eating New Zealand lamb in London actually has a smaller carbon footprint than lamb from the U.K. The New Zealand lamb is raised on pasture, and even when you factor in the carbon emissions from shipping, it is still friendlier to the environment than grain-fed factory farmed U.K. lamb. Well, sure. Only no self-respecting London locavore would dream of eating grain-fed, factory farmed lamb. He or she would find a local farmer raising lamb on pasture instead. Now compare the carbon footprint of that to the New Zealand lamb. With similar production methods and a correspondingly similar carbon footprint, the major difference between the two would be the oil required to ship the New Zealand lamb halfway across the world.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/food/153121/5_ridiculous_myths_people_use_to_trash_local_food_–_and_why_they%27re_wrong/

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass Beaten At Occupy Berkeley

From Care2:  http://www.care2.com/causes/former-u-s-poet-laureate-robert-hass-beaten-at-occupy-berkeley.html

by November 19, 2011

I’m dismayed even as I write these words. I never thought I’d see the day when I would write a headline like the one you see above.

Apparently it’s not enough that students, military veterans, women, the elderly and former police officers have been roughed up, arrested without cause, and pepper-sprayed at point-blank range during numerous, peaceful, Occupy Wall Street protests around the country.

Now, they’ve turned their night sticks on educators and poets.

Below is an excerpt from the New York Times. It is written by former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass, a man who’s work I studied and admired throughout my undergraduate years as a creative writing student. It is a shocking eye witness account of events that took place at UC Berkeley, where students almost 50 years ago touched off the Free Speech Movement.

Free speech, it seems, holds little weight in California now.

“…Once the cordon formed, the deputy sheriffs pointed their truncheons toward the crowd. It looked like the oldest of military maneuvers, a phalanx out of the Trojan War, but with billy clubs instead of spears. The students were wearing scarves for the first time that year, their cheeks rosy with the first bite of real cold after the long Californian Indian summer. The billy clubs were about the size of a boy’s Little League baseball bat. My wife was speaking to the young deputies about the importance of nonviolence and explaining why they should be at home reading to their children, when one of the deputies reached out, shoved my wife in the chest and knocked her down.

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