Mitt Romney: Wrong for Women and Wrong for America

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PETA’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad History of Killing Animals

From The Atlantic:

The organization, which claims to be dedicated to the cause of animal rights, can’t explain why its adoption rate is only 2.5 percent for dogs.

James McWilliams
Mar 12 2012

In 2011, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) behaved in a regrettably consistent manner: it euthanized the overwhelming majority (PDF) of dogs and cats that it accepted into its shelters. Out of 760 dogs impounded, they killed 713, arranged for 19 to be adopted, and farmed out 36 to other shelters (not necessarily “no kill” ones). As for cats, they impounded 1,211, euthanized 1,198, transferred eight, and found homes for a grand total of five. PETA also took in 58 other companion animals — including rabbits. It killed 54 of them.

These figures don’t reflect well on an organization dedicated to the cause of animal rights. Even acknowledging that PETA sterilized over 10,500 dogs and cats and returned them to their owners, it doesn’t change the fact that its adoption rate in 2011 was 2.5 percent for dogs and 0.4 for cats. Even acknowleding that PETA never turns an animal away — “the sick, the scarred and broken, the elderly, the aggressive and unsocialized…” — doesn’t change the fact that Virginia animal shelters as a whole had a much lower kill rate of 44 percent. And even acknowledging that PETA is often the first to rescue pets when heat waves and hurricanes hit, that doesn’t change the fact that, at one of its shelters, it kills 84 percent of supposedly “unadoptable” animals within 24 hours of their arrival.

When I contacted PETA for a comment on these numbers, Amanda Schinke, a spokesperson for the organization, sent a thoughtful and detailed response. In it she explained how “euthanasia is a product of love for animals who have no one to love them.” She called their killing a “tragic reality,” one that forthrightly acknowledges how “sometimes [animals] need the comfort of being put out of their misery — a painless release from a world in which they were abused and unwanted.” Noting that PETA, unlike many “no-kill” shelters, turns no animal away, Schinke added, “we do everything in our power to help these animals.” The harsh reality behind the grim numbers, she noted, should never be forgotten: “Millions of homeless animals are euthanized in animal shelters and veterinary offices across America because of simple math: too many animals and not enough suitable homes.”

But is this really a simple math problem? Nathan Winograd doesn’t think so. Winograd, a Stanford Law graduate and former corporate lawyer, is the author of Irreconcilable Differences: The Battle for the Heart and Soul of America’s Animal Shelters. When the data on PETA dropped, he posted a scathing article insisting that the organization’s almost 100 percent kill rate was due not to laziness or poor management but to “something more nefarious.” Winograd asserts that PETA’s failure to find homes for impounded companion animals is the result of founder Ingrid Newkirk’s “dark impulses.” Performing a virtual psychological vivisection, Winograd diagnoses Newkirk as a “disturbed person,” a “shameless animal killer,” and the executrix of a “bloody reign” of terror over dogs and cats. At one point, he even compares her to nurses who get a thrill from killing their human patients.

Look past the rage, though, and it becomes clear that Winograd has an important case to make. In PETA’s response to me, Schinke wrote, “Winograd dishonestly and viciously attacks all open admission shelters, those that do not shut the door to any animal, even those for whom peaceful release is a mercy.” This is another way of saying that because PETA accepts so many dire cases, cases in which euthanasia may very well be justified, it should be excused for killing over 99 percent of the animals under its care. Winograd, however, argues persuasively that PETA euthanizes far more than just the unadoptable cases. In the following excerpt from his blog, he reveals that Newkirk admits to killing animals that are “adoptable”:

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Sandra Fluke On Rush Limbaugh Controversy: Attempts To Silence Women Have ‘Clearly Failed’

From Huffington Post:

Posted: 03/13/2012

In an op-ed published on on Tuesday, Sandra Fluke again spoke out about the Rush Limbaugh controversy, stating that the conservative radio host’s “attempts to silence women” have “clearly failed.”

“These smears are obvious attempts to distract from meaningful policy discussions and to silence women’s voices regarding their own health care,” wrote Fluke. “These attempts to silence women and the men who support them have clearly failed.”

She continued, “Attacking me and women who use contraception by calling us prostitutes and worse cannot silence us.”

Limbaugh sparked controversy last month when he called Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” on-air after the third-year Georgetown Law student was denied the opportunity to testify before a congressional panel in support of insurers covering the cost of contraception. The popular radio host’s comments provoked national outrage, and led many of Limbaugh’s advertisers to pull their spots from his show. Limbaugh issued an apology for his comments, but maintained his opposition to contraception funding.

Fluke has been widely supported by Democratic lawmakers, including President Obama and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who both made personal calls to the law student following Limbaugh’s comments.

She appeared on CNN’s “Starting Point” on Tuesday morning to discuss her op-ed and the controversy surrounding her position. Fluke said that while the personal attacks have made the last few weeks “difficult” for her, the experience has afforded her the opportunity to inform the public on the issue of contraception.

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Change The Birth Control Conversation from Theocratic to Democratic

From RH Reality Check:

by Marjorie B. Signer
March 13, 2012

The fight against birth control coverage smacks of theocratic thinking – the notion that government ought to be ruled by or subject to religious authority. Clearly we need a much more inclusive conversation about religion and reproduction. That’s the goal of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice’s (RCRC) “I’m a Fan of Birth Control” campaign, which is bringing diverse voices of faith into the conversation.

The culture warriors who are dominating the current conversation claim the religious liberty of their institutions is being violated by required coverage of contraception. Their argument is out of touch with reality. It ignores the rich diversity of religious views in America today, the fact that religious freedom applies to individuals, and the compelling interest to expand availability of contraception.

Putting institutional creeds above individual needs goes against basic democratic values.

Despite the impression that the Catholic hierarchy and its Religious Right allies speak for all religions, they don’t. Including contraceptive coverage in the new health care law is perfectly compatible with official positions of many of the nation’s religious bodies. The United Methodist Church holds that health care – including contraception – is a basic right. United Methodist official Jim Winkler says, “Religious freedom is not violated by denying religiously affiliated hospitals, universities and other institutions the right to discriminate on the basis of race or gender.”

From an independent Baptist perspective, scholar Valerie Elverton Dixon says that exempting religiously affiliated employers from covering contraception would violate the First Amendment – by establishing a religious principle in the law – and the Fourteenth Amendment – by denying women equal protection under the law.

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Why Republicans don’t want you to re-fi your home…

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All red meat is bad for you, new study says

From The Los Angeles Times:,0,565423.story

A long-term study finds that eating any amount and any type increases the risk of premature death.

By Eryn Brown, Los Angeles Times
March 12, 2012

Eating red meat — any amount and any type — appears to significantly increase the risk of premature death, according to a long-range study that examined the eating habits and health of more than 110,000 adults for more than 20 years.

For instance, adding just one 3-ounce serving of unprocessed red meat — picture a piece of steak no bigger than a deck of cards — to one’s daily diet was associated with a 13% greater chance of dying during the course of the study.

Even worse, adding an extra daily serving of processed red meat, such as a hot dog or two slices of bacon, was linked to a 20% higher risk of death during the study.

“Any red meat you eat contributes to the risk,” said An Pan, a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston and lead author of the study, published online Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Crunching data from thousands of questionnaires that asked people how frequently they ate a variety of foods, the researchers also discovered that replacing red meat with other foods seemed to reduce mortality risk for study participants.

Eating a serving of nuts instead of beef or pork was associated with a 19% lower risk of dying during the study. The team said choosing poultry or whole grains as a substitute was linked with a 14% reduction in mortality risk; low-fat dairy or legumes, 10%; and fish, 7%.

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New Report: Nitrate Contamination Threatens California’s Drinking Water

From Civil Eats:

By Naomi Starkman
March 13th, 2012

Today, the Food & Environment Reporting Network–the first and only independent, non-profit, non-partisan news organization that produces investigative reporting on food, agriculture, and environmental health in partnership with local and national media outlets–published its third report, “Farming Communities Facing Crisis Over Nitrate Pollution, Study Says,” on Reporter Stett Holbrook takes a deep dive into a new study by UC Davis that reveals that nitrate contamination is severe and getting worse for hundreds of thousands of people in California’s farming communities.

The most comprehensive assessment so far to date, the report also reveals that agriculture is the main source of 96 percent of nitrate pollution. The five counties in the study area–among the top 10 agricultural producing counties in the United States–include about 40 percent of California’s irrigated cropland and more than half of its dairy herds, representing a $13.7 billion slice of the state’s economy, Holbrook reports.

“Nearly 10 percent of the 2.6 million people living in the Tulare Lake Basin and Salinas Valley might be drinking nitrate-contaminated water, researchers found. If nothing is done to stem the problem, the report warns, those at risk for health and financial problems may number nearly 80 percent by 2050,” writes Holbrook.

High nitrate levels in drinking water have been linked to thyroid cancer, skin rashes, hair loss, birth defects and “blue baby syndrome,” a potentially fatal blood disorder in infants.

Holbrook explains that nitrates are odorless, tasteless compounds that form when nitrogen from ammonia and other sources mix with water. While nitrogen and nitrates occur naturally, the advent of synthetic fertilizer has coincided with a dramatic increase in nitrates in drinking water. He notes that rural residents are at greater risk because they depend on private wells, which are often shallower and not monitored to the same degree as public water sources, writing, “Current contamination likely came from nitrates introduced into the soil decades ago. That means even if nitrates were dramatically reduced today, groundwater would still suffer for decades to come.”

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Greece on the breadline: the children of Athens too hungry to do PE

From The Guardian UK:

Jon Henley is in Athens finding out how ordinary Greeks are pulling together to cope amid the financial meltdown

Posted by: in Athens
Tuesday 13 March 2012

Dozens of readers have sent me suggestions about places to go and people to meet in my search for stories behind the headlines in Athens, and I’m following up as many as I can. Others have sent me their own contributions.

Tales of solidarity come from Victoria Prekate, an Athens secondary school teacher and psychologist, who relates how her colleagues in schools in the capital have been responding:

It has been a common secret among PE teachers for some time now that they don’t expect pupils to do PE any more, because many of them are underfed and get dizzy.

They need to be discreet, as these underprivileged children don’t wish to be exposed to their peers. In my previous school, the teachers arranged among themselves to give the school canteen some money, so that the canteen could give the child a snack, without embarrassing the child.

However, this was not enough. In many schools today, it is the parents’ associations who come together, gather food and discreetly arrange to allocate it to those families of the school who are suffering. In co-operation with the teachers, they know which children in the school are hungry and in need of help. Again, they try to do it as discreetly as possible.

“Many families, suddenly left without work, are in shock and there is nowhere to turn. Social services are collapsing. They are not professional beggars. They are ordinary people like you and me, suddenly left with nothing. I know one area, where schools have specialised in what they gather: 1st primary school gather rice and legumes, 2nd vegetables, 3rd meat and chicken etc.

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‘EU pushing Greece towards revolution’

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‘Occupy Education’ Debates the Gates

From Common Dreams:

by Jesse Hagopian
Published on Tuesday, March 13, 2012 by Common Dreams

“Gates Foundation you will fail / Education is not for sale!”

The chants of some 150 teachers, students, parents and Occupy Seattle activists reverberated off the windows of the global headquarters of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – a leading promoter of a corporate brand of education reform—announcing we were ready for our scheduled debate about the schools as part of a national call to “Occupy Education” on March 1st.

From Oscar Grant Plaza in Berkley, California, to the Department of Education in Washington, D.C., Occupy activists schooled the nation with experiential learning demonstrations with the instructional objective of making education a right for the 99 percent, not a privilege for the 1 percent. In Seattle, when our spirited march for education arrived at the Gates Foundation, many of the event organizers were as nervous as kids before a high-stakes test–not because they doubted the validity of challenging one of the biggest backers of charter schools and standardized testing – but because many expected a no show from the foundation that they would have to simply chalk up as an unexcused absence.

As it turned out, the wealthy foundation sent three poor souls to debate the Occupy movement. I should admit from the start that it wasn’t a fair competition—something akin to the Varsity taking on the JV team; in our corner we had people who have attended public schools, taught in public schools, and are parents of kids in public schools; all they had were policy analysts and public relations specialists.

The “throwdown” began with the Gates Foundation PR spokesperson declaring that he believes in the right of every students to receive a quality education and that some of the statements that were made during our rally mischaracterized the Foundation—without giving an example of what it would take to get a quality education for all students or explaining what Occupy got wrong.

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Catholic Bishops Still Morally Challenged in Sex Abuse Cases

NOW: Press Release:

Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill

March 13, 2012

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is at it again. In addition to playing a major role in the right-wing war on women, the all-male hierarchy of the Catholic Church is trying to silence an organization dedicated to helping women and men who have been victimized by clergy.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is a tiny organization of almost all volunteers with an annual budget of less than a half million dollars. The threat SNAP poses to the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is not based on its relative strength, but on the power of the truth. So, naturally, the bishops want to squash them like a bug. How’s that for Christian morals?

For decades, the hierarchy of the Catholic Church swept accusations of sexual abuse under the rug along with its collective conscience. Now, in two Missouri cases, attorneys for accused priests are inundating SNAP with subpoenas and other tactical measures that can be viewed as an abuse of the legal process.

The National Organization for Women wants to know: How much money are the bishops spending to demolish SNAP? Wouldn’t that money be better spent establishing processes for rooting out sexually abusive priests and caring for their victims?

The USCCB officially denies that there is a national strategy to suppress SNAP. But subpoenas in the two unrelated cases are nearly identical. According to The New York Times, both subpoenas include requests for correspondence related to “repressed memory” even though it is germane to only one of the cases. The denial of coordination, in the face of this evidence to the contrary, calls into question the integrity of the bishops.

In fact, the bishops’ consistently abysmal response to sexual abuse charges against Catholic authority figures in general should call into question their claims of moral conviction in their current crusade to take birth control coverage away from all women.

SNAP has performed a huge public service by calling attention to the institutional cover-up of sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church. The bishops should respond by taking aggressive action to end abuse, not shooting the messenger.

For Immediate Release
Contact: Latoya Veal w. 202-628-8669, ext. 116, c. 301-660-3447

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