Komen Isn’t the Only Do-Gooder Group Conservatives Targeted for Planned Parenthood Ties

From Mother Jones: http://motherjones.com/mojo/2012/02/conservatives-targeted-komen-and-girl-scouts-planned-parenthood-ties

By Nicole Pasulka
Fri Feb. 3, 2012

When Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced on Tuesday that it would end funding for Planned Parenthood, anti-abortion activists, who had complained about Komen’s ties to Planned Parenthood for years, were delighted. Tony Perkins, the president of the socially conservative Family Research Council, applauded tha anti-cancer group for “putting women’s health first rather than fund the nation’s largest abortion provider.” Unfortunately for Planned Parenthood’s foes, Komen’s move led to a national outcry, and on Friday, Komen began to walk back its decision to cut off funds.

But Komen isn’t the only apparently apolitical organization experiencing pressure to break ties to Planned Parenthood. While reporting Thursday’s story on the right-wing boycott of Girl Scout cookies because of a Colorado council that allowed a transgender seven-year-old to join a troop, I learned that conservatives’ biggest complaint with the Girl Scouts is the organization’s ties to Planned Parenthood. Sure, inclusion of a transgender girl has some people up in arms. But the Girl Scouts’ supposed association with what Cathy Ruse, a blogger for the Family Research Council, described to me as “the biggest abortion business in the US” is the religious right’s main beef with the 100-year-old girls’ leadership organization.

 The actual connection between Girl Scouts and Planned Parenthood is tenuous at best. Just as the Girl Scouts maintain that “sexual orientation is a private matter for girls and their families to address,” the group also refuses to weigh in on abortion or birth control. That means regional Girl Scout groups get to do pretty much what they want. Although some regional Girl Scout councils have partnered with a sex-education program hosted by local Planned Parenthood branches, a local leader in Chattanooga chose to sponsor abstinence-oriented activities instead. These sorts of choices aren’t within the jurisdiction of the national organization, which besides merchandising, PR and marketing, developing programming, and commissioning research about the nature of girlhood, develops ideologically flexible messaging about “empowerment,” “paths to success,” and reaching one’s full potential.
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Christian Pastor Calls For Starbucks Boycott Over Gay Marriage Support

I always make a point of boycotting businesses that feel compelled to put Christian symbols up in their logos or advertising. I look at that fish or cross as a warning that they consider my dirty hippie commie queer money dirty, therefore I have no intention of giving them my business.

From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/03/christians-pastor-boycott-starbucks_n_1253086.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009


02/ 3/2012

A Christian pastor is asking customers to boycott Starbucks due to the company’s support of a bill to legalize gay marriage in Washington state, King 5 News reports.

“Christians are upset with Starbucks for turning against God…Starbucks can follow Satan if they want to,” Steven Andrew, and evangelical pastor and president of the USA Christian Ministries in California, said in a statement. “However, pastors are to help Christians. Are you on the Lord’s side? Will you help the USA be blessed by God?”

The call for the boycott was released Tuesday, a day prior to the bill’s passage in Washington’s State Senate Wednesday night, according to Reuters.

Complete article at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/03/christians-pastor-boycott-starbucks_n_1253086.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

Why Are US Health Costs So High? Follow the Bills

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/02/01-4

by Ralph Nader
Published on Wednesday, February 1, 2012 by Common Dreams

Looking at millions of individual bills that makeup the 2.7 trillion dollars of annual health care costs opens a gigantic window on the massive waste, redundancy, profiteering, fraud and sometimes criminal over-billing.

Here is a partial example of what I mean, in the words of Philip M. Boffey, the estimable science writer for the New York Times:

“Why does an appendectomy in Germany cost roughly a quarter what it costs in the United States? ($3,285 compared to $13,123). Or an MRI scan cost less than a third as much, on average, in Canada? ($304 compared to $1,009).”

“Americans continue to spend more on health care than patients anywhere else. In 2009, we spent $7,960 per person, twice as much as France, which is known for providing very good health services. And for all that spending, we get very mixed results–some superb, some average, some inferior–compared with other advanced nations.”

Moreover, France and Germany, Italy, England, Canada, Belgium, Sweden and all other western countries plus Japan and Taiwan cover almost all their citizens, unlike the U.S. where 50,000,000 people are uninsured.

Boffey, who wrote a book on the National Academy of Sciences, (The Brain Bank of America: An Inquiry into the Politics of Science), under our sponsorship in 1975 goes on to cite the comparative price report of the International Federation of Health Plans in 2010. They are stunning! For Britain, Canada, France, Germany and the U.S. respectively, the average cost in dollars for bypass surgery is $13,998, $22,212, $16,325, $27,237 and in the U.S. $59,770. For cataract surgery the bill is $1,299, $927, $3,352, N.A. and in the U.S. $14,764.

Continue reading at:   http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/02/01-4

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Ari Fleischer Secretly Involved In Komen Strategy On Planned Parenthood

From Think Progress: http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2012/02/03/418797/exclusive-ari-fleischer-komen-planned-parenthood/

By Judd Legum
Feb 3, 2012

Ari Fleischer, former press secretary for George W. Bush and prominent right-wing pundit, was secretly involved in the Komen Foundation’s strategy regarding Planned Parenthood. Fleischer personally interviewed candidates for the position of “Senior Vice President for Communications and External Relations” at Komen last December. According to a source with first-hand knowledge, Fleischer drilled prospective candidates during their interviews on how they would handle the controversy about Komen’s relationship with Planned Parenthood.

Fleischer’s relationship with Komen and the Planned Parenthood controversy was previously undisclosed. He confirmed to ThinkProgress his recent role in filling a key communication position at Komen. Fleischer stressed, however, another communications firm (Ogilvy PR) was retained by Komen to deal with crisis communications over the last few days and he has not been involved.

In November, Komen advertised for a top level communications position in Roll Call. Promising applicants received a call from Fleischer. The advertisement is no longer posted on the Roll Call website, but a portion is accessible via Google:

Complete article at:  http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2012/02/03/418797/exclusive-ari-fleischer-komen-planned-parenthood/

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Koch Brothers Convene Super-Secret Billionaires’ Meeting for 2012 Elections

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/story/153998/koch_brothers_convene_super-secret_billionaires%27_meeting_for_2012_elections/

Some of America’s wealthiest Republicans flew into Palm Springs last weekend to update their stealthy political strategy for 2012.

By Lee Fang
February 4, 2012

At a retreat last weekend, dozens of wealthy donors convened in a large golf resort in Indian Wells, Calif. for a four day conference to raise money and plot out election year strategy, the Republic Report has confirmed. We traveled to the conference, and spoke to a few of the attendees.

The summit, organized by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, was cloaked in secrecy. Helicopters, private security and police officers from neighboring cities patrolled the area constantly. In previous years, Supreme Court justices, some of the wealthiest businessmen in the country and Republican politicians like Congressman Paul Ryan have all gathered at these twice-annual events. The Esmerelda Renaissance, the conference venue this year, was guarded carefully with every entrance blocked and the entire 560-room resort rented out. I arrived at the hotel the night before the event, but was followed closely by security and asked to leave the next morning before the Koch meeting guests arrived.

Though the donors will funnel tens of millions of dollars into the election this year, they will not have to disclose a single cent. Using an elaborate array of foundations, nonprofits and other legal entities, the Koch network sponsored bus tours, attack ads, think tanks, and hired Tea Party organizers to shape the midterm elections two years ago. Now, they appear to be expanding their effort.

The most the public knows about these meetings has been culled from leaked audio tapes, reporting from journalists like Ken Vogel, and from an invitation I exclusively reported back in October 2010. The document I posted over a year ago explained that during the meetings, strategy is discussed, from legislative campaigns to judicial elections, and money is raised from an assortment of executives from the oil, banking, manufacturing, and real estate industries.

At the Palm Springs Airport last weekend, I ran into Phil Kerpen, the vice president of Americans for Prosperity, the Tea Party group founded by David Koch. Kerpen, who was in a rush to make it to the event, didn’t say much about the agenda. Kerpen’s group recently purchased $6 million in undisclosed attack ads against President Obama, the largest such buy of the entire campaign cycle so far.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/story/153998/koch_brothers_convene_super-secret_billionaires%27_meeting_for_2012_elections/

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Iran and the Threat of Not Having Future Wars

From Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting: http://www.fair.org/blog/2012/02/03/iran-and-the-threat-of-not-having-future-wars/

by Peter Hart
02/03/2012

The conventional understanding you get from the media is that Israel is worried that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose a serious threat to the country’s existence.

Is that really what’s happening, though? Another interpretation is that Iran might want nuclear weapons not to launch any such an attack but to prevent an attack on its country–nuclear deterrence, in other words. (Of course, it’s important to note that there is currently no evidence that Iran is pursuing a weapons program.)

I was struck when I heard Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman bring up some of these ideas on NPR‘s Talk of the Nation on January 30. Bergman is no outsider critic of Israeli policy; when he appeared recently on the NewsHour (1/12/12) and was asked about the assassination of Iranian scientists, his answer was: “I don’t know. And even if I knew, I would tell you that I don’t know.”

Here’s what he said on NPR, appearing to talk about his New York Times magazine piece on Israel and Iran:

NEAL CONAN: Chris, thanks very much for the call. Israel itself possesses, what, 300 nuclear weapons we believe, maybe more? Why does not deterrence work? Israel, of course, would retaliate if Iran were to use a nuclear weapon.

BERGMAN: I would assume that–oh, I know that most of Israel’s leaders do not believe that Iran is going to use nuclear weapons against Israel. The problem is not the nuclear threat. The Iranians are not stupid. They want to live…. And I think that most leaders, and me personally as well, see that there are only a few people who believe that Iran would be hesitant enough to–sorry, brutal enough and stupid enough to use nuclear weapon against Israel.

Continue reading at:   http://www.fair.org/blog/2012/02/03/iran-and-the-threat-of-not-having-future-wars/

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Riot police violently disperse Occupy DC with batons

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The Politics of Absolutely Everything

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/04/opinion/collins-the-politics-of-absolutely-everything.html?_r=2

By
Published: February 3, 2012

This week we had a huge political fight about breast cancer. Clearly, we have now hit the point where there’s nothing that can’t be divided into red-state-blue-state.

Nothing. The other day I saw a blog called “I Dig My Garden” that had a forum on whether Republicans could truly love gardening. And there was a little dust-up in Albany over politicization of a local pet blog, which had featured a discussion on Mitt Romney’s driving to Canada with the family dog strapped to the roof of the car.

But breast cancer would seem like the last thing to go. Everybody hates cancer and everybody likes breasts — infants, adults, women, men. Really, it’s America’s most popular body part.

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation has made its fight against breast cancer into one of the most successful charitable enterprises in recent history, partly because it makes everybody feel good and helps corporate sponsors create good will. It’s raised about $2 billion over the years. This is the group that brought us the pink ribbons and pink umbrellas and pink beauty products, and “Buckets for the Cure,” a rather controversial promotion it undertook with that well-known purveyor of healthy eating choices, Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Breast cancer tends to get a disproportionate share of health care financing, and Komen’s enormous success tilts things still further. (The foundation spends a good deal of time and money tracking down smaller anticancer organizations and demanding that they cease and desist from using the words “for the cure” or using the color pink.) Critics also suggest that Komen is way too fixated on mammograms, which are a good tool, but are hardly the be-all-and-end-all of cancer prevention. On the other hand, Komen does financially support much-needed grass-roots programs like Planned Parenthood’s medical exams for mostly young, lower-income women.

So imagine our surprise when Komen announced that it wouldn’t be giving any more grants to Planned Parenthood because of a new policy of not supporting groups that are “under investigation.” The investigation in question is being run by a Republican congressman from Florida who wants to determine whether Planned Parenthood uses taxpayer money to pay for abortions. Which it doesn’t, as a matter of longstanding policy. But the congressman wants to see a very large quantity of documents so he can be absolutely, positively, really, really sure.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/04/opinion/collins-the-politics-of-absolutely-everything.html?_r=2

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