Adrienne Rich, feminist poet and essayist, 1929-2012

From Yahoo:  http://news.yahoo.com/adrienne-rich-feminist-poet-essayist-dies-221054714.html

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) — Poet Adrienne Rich, whose socially conscious verse influenced a generation of feminist, gay rights and anti-war activists, has died. She was 82.

Rich died Tuesday at her Santa Cruz home from complications from rheumatoid arthritis, said her son, Pablo Conrad. She had lived in Santa Cruz since the 1980s.

Through her writing, Rich explored topics such as women’s rights, racism, sexuality, economic justice and love between women.

Rich published more than a dozen volumes of poetry and five collections of nonfiction. She won a National Book Award for her collection of poems “Diving into the Wreck” in 1974. In 2004, she won the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry for her collection “The School Among the Ruins.” According to her publisher, W.W. Norton, her books have sold between 750,000 and 800,000 copies, a high amount for a poet.

She gained national prominence with her third poetry collection, “Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law,” in 1963. Citing the title poem, University of Maryland professor Rudd Fleming wrote in The Washington Post that Rich “proves poetically how hard it is to be a woman — a member of the second sex.”

Continue reading at:  http://news.yahoo.com/adrienne-rich-feminist-poet-essayist-dies-221054714.html

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Earl Scruggs 1924-2012

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NOM “We Need Stupid Celebrities as Spokespeople”

Well that explains Kirk Cameron and Victoria Jackson…

NOM Needs a Few Good “Noncognitive” Celebrities

From The Advocate: http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2012/03/28/NOM_Needs_a_Few_Good_Noncognitive_Celebrities/

By Lucas Grindley
March 28, 2012

The National Organization for Marriage wants a few “noncognitive” celebrities to carry its antigay message to the masses.

That’s the latest revelation to get attention from NOM’s strategy document, marked “confidential,” that was uncovered as part of a lawsuit in Maine. The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation is calling out NOM for what it says is a cynical view of voters’ intelligence.

“Celebrity or not and ‘cognitive’ or not, given how cynically NOM views its supporters, who would want to stand with them and support their agenda?” said Herndon Graddick, GLAAD’s vice president of Programs and Communications.

In the strategy document, which has already received a deluge of criticism for its plan to use race to divide the country, NOM outlines “cultural strategies” that include recruiting celebrity spokespeople.

“We are looking for a new set of messengers,” the document declares. But it doesn’t seem to think too highly of whoever volunteers, calling them “glamorous noncognitive elites.”

“Here’s the bottom line: Hollywood with its cultural biases is far bigger than we can hope to be. We recognize this,” the strategy states. “But we also recognize the opportunity – the disproportionate potential impact of proactively seeking to gather and connect a community of artists, athletes, writers, beauty queens and other glamorous noncognitive elites across national boundaries.”

Continue reading at:   http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2012/03/28/NOM_Needs_a_Few_Good_Noncognitive_Celebrities/

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Republicans are causing a moral crisis in America

From The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/republicans-are-causing-a-moral-crisis-in-america/2012/03/26/gIQACSM2dS_story.html

By ,
Tuesday, March 27, 2012

There is moral crisis afoot! So say the Republican candidates for president, their pals in Congress and in state houses. Abortion, gay marriage, contraception — contraception, for Pete’s sake — things that so shock the conscience that it’s a wonder The Washington Post can even print the words!

Here’s something I bet you wouldn’t think I’d say: They’re right. There is a moral crisis in the United States. The only thing is — they’re wrong about what it is and who is causing it.

The real crisis of public morality in the United States doesn’t lie in the private decisions Americans make in their lives or their bedrooms; it lies at the heart of an ideology — and a set of policies — that the right-wing has used to batter and browbeat their fellow Americans.

They dress these policies up sometimes, give them catchy titles like Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity.” But they never cease to imbue them with the kind of moral decisions that ought to make anyone furious. Ryan’s latest budget really is case in point. It’s a plan that says that increases in defense spending are so essential, that massive tax cuts for the wealthy are so necessary, that we must pay for them by ripping a hole in the social safety net. The poor need Medicaid to pay for medicine and treatment for their families? We care, we really do, but the wealthy need tax cuts more. Food stamps the only thing standing between your children and starvation? Listen, we feel your pain. We get it. But we’ve got more important things to spend money on. Like a new yacht for that guy who only has one yacht.

Continue reading at:  http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/republicans-are-causing-a-moral-crisis-in-america/2012/03/26/gIQACSM2dS_story.html

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Calling All Black People: NOM Wants to Use You

From Southern Poverty Law Center: http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2012/03/27/calling-all-black-people-nom-wants-to-use-you/

by Mark Potok
March 27, 2012

Black folks, this is a message for you: The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the country’s preeminent group fighting against same-sex marriage, really, really likes you. They even want to make some of you famous!

Have NOM’s principal leaders, former president Maggie Gallagher and current leader Brian S. Brown, stood up for African Americans before? Well, not so much. But it turns out that they’ve decided that you’re actually very important.

That unexpected revelation came out yesterday, when the pro-LGBT Human Rights Campaign publicized the contents of some previously confidential 2009 documents outlining NOM’s strategies for winning the national battle for “traditional marriage.” (The documents were just unsealed in a Maine court case over NOM’s refusal to identify its donors there, as required by state law.) “The strategic goal of this project,” NOM said, “is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies. We aim to find, equip, energize and connect African-American spokespeople for marriage; to develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; and to provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots.”

Translation: Let’s get people who support marriage equality to denounce black opponents, making them look like evil racists. Maybe that’ll make people forget that the vast majority of black civil rights leaders support same-sex marriage.

Could this be something more than simply exploiting black people — folks who NOM figures would be hard for Democrats to criticize without splitting their base — for the cynical uses of opponents of same-sex marriage?

No, NOM’s pretty transparent about that. The “project” to which its call for a wedge strategy refers carries this title in the newly released document: “Not a Civil Rights Project.” They couldn’t make it much clearer than that, could they?

Continue reading at:   http://www.splcenter.org/blog/2012/03/27/calling-all-black-people-nom-wants-to-use-you/

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Legislating Teen Sex: What’s (Terribly) Wrong With Our Age of Consent Laws

From RH Reality Check:   http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/02/03/legislating-teen-sex-age-consent-laws-send-young-men-to-jail-consensual-sex

by Martha Kempner, RH Reality Check
March 27, 2012

Last month, my husband forwarded me this article from the Daily Beast and I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind since. The article focuses on a few young men who went to jail and wound up on sex offender registries ostensibly for having sex with their teenage girlfriends. While the young men were teenagers themselves, at 18 the law considered them adults whereas their girlfriends at 14 and 15 were under the legal age of consent. Now, in fairness, neither of these boys went to jail just for having sex with an underage girl, there were aggravating circumstances – one punched his girlfriend’s father and both violated judges’ orders to stay away from the girls.

Still, all I could think about was that what started out as a somewhat typical high school relationship (a senior boy with a freshman or sophomore girlfriend, is not at all that unusual) essentially ruined these young men’s lives. Not only did they spend time in jail and postpone any future plans, their names now sit on sex offender registries alongside those of serial rapist, child pornographers, and pedophiles.

And as is human nature, all I could think about was my own life story. Once upon a time, a couple of decades ago or so, I was in one of those not unusual relationships between a sophomore girl and a senior boy.  In true high school style, we were fixed up by friends at the beginning of my sophomore year and had an on-again-off-again flirtation throughout the fall and winter (too much of which involved me watching from a distance as his relationship with a perky senior named Suzanne played out in the halls between classes). But by spring they had broken up and one fateful Wednesday he called. From there we began what would be my first serious and my first sexual relationship.

By the time we had sex, we had been together for many months and professed our love for each other, I had nursed him back to puffy-cheeked health after he’d had his wisdom teeth out and he had spent a great deal of time with my family on Cape Cod. Though I can’t say it was a perfect relationship or the balance of power was entirely equal (he held some advantage by virtue of being older and more experienced), I can assure you that the sexual aspect of our relationship was consensual, mutually pleasurable, non-exploitative, honest, and protected from pregnancy and STDs. (Years later as a sexuality educator, these are among the litmus tests I would suggest to teens.)

Continue reading at:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/02/03/legislating-teen-sex-age-consent-laws-send-young-men-to-jail-consensual-sex

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Birth Control Access Boosts Women’s Wages, Study Finds

From  Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/26/birth-control-access-womens-wages_n_1380250.html


03/26/2012

While women still earn 77 cents for every dollar that men make in the United States, the gender wage gap has closed significantly over the past several decades. Now, for the first time ever, a new study has connected the narrowing of that pay gap to increased access to birth control pills.

The University of Michigan study, which analyzed the careers of 4,300 women, shows that the earlier a woman can start taking birth control pills, the more likely she is to earn higher wages later in life.

About one-third of women’s wage gains throughout the 1990s can be attributed to changing laws in the 1960s and 70s that lowered the age at which women could legally access the pill.

“We found that women who had early access to the pill in the 1960s and 1970s earned 8 percent more on average by the 1980s and 1990s than women without early access,” said Martha Bailey, a research affiliate at the U-M Institute for Social Research who authored the study.

When some states dropped the legal access age from 21 to 18, the report found, contraceptive use among 18- to 20-year-olds doubled. This development, in particular, allowed more college-aged women to finish school without being interrupted by an unplanned pregnancy.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/26/birth-control-access-womens-wages_n_1380250.html

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Confidential NOM Documents Reveal Dark Underbelly of Anti-Gay Movement

From Human Rights Campaign:  http://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/hrcs-exposure-of-nom-docs-reveals-dark-underbelly-of-anti-gay-movement

Kevin Nix
March 27, 2012

HRC exclusively obtained copies of the National Organization for Marriage’s confidential strategy documents yesterday. As part of a continuing investigation by the state of Maine, this court-ordered disclosure shows NOM fighting a losing battle with strategy and tactics that are racially and ethnically divisive, filled with false political calculations, and out of touch with the majority of fair-minded Americans. The Maine Ethics Commissionlaunched a formal investigation into NOM’s fundraising tactics in late 2009.

The key themes that emerge from the documents are:

Racial Politics

  • NOM’s admitted key goal is to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks.”
  • NOM aims to manipulate Hispanic communities by “making support for marriage a key badge of Latino identity” and “to make opposition to gay marriage an identity marker, a badge of youth rebellion to conformist assimilation to the bad side of ‘Anglo’ culture.”

Facing a Losing Battle

  • They were 0 for 3 in their 2010 priority: “Roll back gay marriage in New Hampshire, Iowa, and D.C.”  Marriage equality remains on the books in all three with the New Hampshire Republican legislature just last week rejecting a move to repeal their law.

Huge Coffers Fund Phony “Research”

  • NOM outlined a plan to spend $100,000 on a “study of what schools are teaching in gay marriage/civil union regimes.”
  • $150,000 is earmarked for videotaping stories of those supposedly harmed by marriage equality called “The Face of the Victims” project.
  • $60,000 in salary earmarked for an “outreach coordinator to identify children of gay parents willing to speak on camera.”
  • $50,000 earmarked for “Expert Witness Project” that couldn’t cultivate a single credible witness to stand up in the Prop 8 trial for example.

Painting Themselves as Victims

  • NOM pushes the false notion that Americans are under attack: “Gay marriage is the tip of the spear, the weapon that will be and is being used to marginalize and repress Christianity and the Church.”
  • Embracing marriage equality supposedly “affects economic performance, expands the regulatory and taxing powers of government, and threatens the family businesses that generate economic growth and prosperity.”
  • Despite every court to hear the issue finding no evidence of any harassment or intimidation, NOM continues to claim “gay marriage advocates have focused relentlessly on harassing and intimidating local donors.”

Ignoring Campaign Finance Rules

  • NOM brags that “one key advantage we now have is the capacity to protect the identity of our donors.”
  • Worried about disclosure laws, NOM encourages donors to give to a slush fund for use around the country saying, “It is critical that we have a reserve fund to give to these efforts to ensure victory and protect donor identity.”

Small Movement with a Big Voice

  • Recognizing that they are a fringe movement, they brag about having wide media exposure writing: “there is an opportunity for a small countercultural community to have a disproportionate cultural impact.”

It’s Not Just About Marriage

  • NOM can no longer claim that they’re only focused on marriage.  Their “American Principles Project” seeks to “Expose Obama as a social radical” by “develop[ing] side issues” like “pornography” and veering off into issues around the Guantanamo Prison and opposing administration appointments.
  • As part of their “cultural strategies” they suggest “raising the negatives on homosexuality.”
  • Their state affiliate in Rhode Island “hopes to introduce divorce reform legislation in an effort to strengthen Rhode Island’s marriage and families.”

Taking their Movement Internationally

  • “The movement for gay marriage is global.  The counterrevolution protecting marriage needs to have a similar international reach.”

The original documents are available here.

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‘Hunt for Assange’ chokes air for whistleblowers

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Dirty Crude Spells Dirty Air in California

From New American Media:   http://newamericamedia.org/2012/03/as-ca-refineries-process-dirty-crude-greenhouse-gas-emissions-rise.php

Ngoc Nguyen
Mar 27, 2012

California’s long-running campaign to reduce air pollution has indirectly helped create a new problem: its oil refineries now produce more greenhouse gas emissions than refineries anywhere else in the country.

On average, California refineries emit 19 to 33 percent more greenhouse gases per barrel of crude oil when stacked up against comparable gas-producing regions in the United States, according to a recent study commissioned by the Union of Concerned Scientists. The study analyzed national and California-specific refinery data, and combined it with the author’s own data based on observations of actual refinery operations over a number of years.

California began mandating cleaner burning fuel in the mid 1990s, in an effort to combat some of the worst smog levels in the country and comply with federal clean air laws. That spurred oil refiners to expand their facilities and install technology to remove pollutants like sulfur, so car tailpipes would spew out less of it.

In the last decade, however, oil refineries have begun processing a heavier and dirtier type of crude oil, which requires more cleaning to meet California’s standard. And that extra cleaning means that refineries now use more energy and emit more CO2 than before.

“With respect to emissions intensity, California officials have been running around claiming California’s oil refineries are so much more energy efficient, that they are just cleaner… Obviously they were wrong,” said Greg Karras, the study’s author and a senior scientist with Communities for a Better Environment, a California nonprofit that advocates for residents who live near oil refineries.

Continue reading at:  http://newamericamedia.org/2012/03/as-ca-refineries-process-dirty-crude-greenhouse-gas-emissions-rise.php

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Racial profiling still common in America?

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NOM’s Real Values

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-montgomery/nom-documents_b_1383380.html


03/27/2012

Maine’s investigation of the National Organization for Marriage’s campaign finance practices has resulted in the release of several internal fundraising and planning documents. HRC has posted them online where NOM-watchers are poking through them. For sheer reprehensibility, it’s hard to top hiring (or at least planning to hire) someone to find and exploit children who are willing to publicly betray their gay parents.

But that kind of “ends-justify-the-means” approach to politics has been the hallmark of NOM and its campaigns in California, Maine, and elsewhere. Those who have been on the receiving end of those dishonorable and untruthful campaigns won’t be surprised by much of what’s in the NOM documents. But the brazenness of the language around racial wedge politics long practiced by the religious right should make it easier to expose the group’s Machiavellian heart. And it may be useful in blunting their efforts to make opposition to marriage equality a “marker of identity” for Latinos and African Americans.

The NOM documents from 2009 discuss a number of organizational projects and strategies, including a “Not a Civil Right” project:

The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks — two key Democratic constituencies. Find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage; develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots.

And just in case that isn’t clear enough: “Fanning the hostility raised in the wake of Prop 8 is key to raising the costs of pushing gay marriage to its advocates and persuading the movement’s allies that advocates are unacceptably overreaching on this issue.”

Continue reading at:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-montgomery/nom-documents_b_1383380.html

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Spain’s general strike is also a day of action for the 99%

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/mar/27/spain-general-strike-99-per-cent

Polls say only 30% of the employed will take part on Friday, but it will also be what the Occupy movement calls an ‘invisible’ strike


guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 27 March 2012

Spain is about to experience huge austerity cuts that may prove explosive. On Friday Mariano Rajoy, the prime minister, is set to announce what even he describes as a “very, very austere budget” to reduce the deficit. According to El País, the EU is demanding cuts larger than those of Greece, Ireland or Portugal: “There is no comparable adjustment in [our] economic history,” says the paper.

As a result of this and recent changes to labour laws, only four months after the new conservative government took power, Spain’s two largest unions have called for a general strike on the day before the budget announcement.

On top of €15bn cuts already announced in December, it is estimated Rajoy will cut about another €40bn. Many are expecting drastic cuts to health and education, not least the financial markets, who are waiting to see whether Rajoy will deliver what they require. This is on top of existing cuts to social spending, wage freezes for public employees, and privatisations, in a context where 40 home evictions a day are taking place across the country.

Response to this austerity has already been fierce. Hundreds of thousands protested across the country in February against labour law changes described by the unions as “the most regressive in the history of the [Spanish] democracy”. Thursday’s general strike will be much larger, seeing hundreds of planes grounded, public transport on a skeleton service, manufacturing at a virtual standstill, and even fresh bread from the bakeries in scant supply.

Continue reading at:   http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/mar/27/spain-general-strike-99-per-cent

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On the Brink: Planet Near Irreversible Point of Global Warming

From Common Dreams:   http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/03/27-5

Scientists issue dire call for action on climate change at conference; we must stop warming or “cross the threshold”

- Common Dreams staff
Published on Tuesday, March 27, 2012 by Common Dreams

We may have already passed the tipping points on global warming, say scientists at the Planet Under Pressure conference. At the London conference, scientists are giving a bleak view of the future of the planet due to catastrophic damage and growth by humans, saying we are close to the irreversible point of global warming.

Will Steffen, executive director of the Australian National University’s climate change institute, gave an urgent warning that humanity needs to act radically on climate change. “We can … cap temperature rise at two degrees, or cross the threshold beyond which the system shifts to a much hotter state,” he said.

Bob Watson, former head of the UN’s climate panel and chief advisor to Britain’s environment ministry, stated that the world has already passed any hope of limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius, and stated that “we just have not acted. The need for action is becoming more and more urgent with every day that passes.”

Martin Rees of the Royal Society, Britain’s academy of sciences, stated this this century “is the first when one species — ours — has the planet’s future in its hands.”

Reuters: Global warming close to becoming irreversible – scientists

LONDON – The world is close to reaching tipping points that will make it irreversibly hotter, making this decade critical in efforts to contain global warming, scientists warned on Monday.

Scientific estimates differ but the world’s temperature looks set to rise by six degrees Celsius by 2100 if greenhouse gas emissions are allowed to rise uncontrollably.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/03/27-5

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John Boehner Appoints NOM Founder To Religious Freedom Commission

From The New Civil Rights Movement: http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/john-boehner-appoints-nom-founder-to-religious-freedom-commission/news/2012/03/27/37199

by David Badash
March 27, 2012

Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner has appointed NOM, the National Organization For Marriage, co-founder and former Chairman Dr. Robert George to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). Commissioners at the USCIRF are government employees, and hold their posts for two years.

Last month, Dr. George appeared on anti-gay advocate and founder of James Dobson’s show claimed that President Obama’s policies were a “weapon” of the federal government designed to “undermine religious liberty.”

Yesterday, the Human Rights Campaign released previously sealed court documents that include internal NOM documents that provide a road map and board-approved strategy for using race-baiting and religion as tactics to divide the Democratic party on the issue of same-sex marriage and to bring down President Obama.

“Dr. George is a respected and leading voice for religious freedom, and I’m pleased that he will bring his passion for this issue and legal expertise to the commission,” Speaker Boehner said via a press release. “No person should live in fear of persecution for worshipping as they see fit or be forced by government mandate to disavow or compromise their faith.  He will be a great resource in the House’s effort to defend this fundamental human right.

Continue reading at:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/john-boehner-appoints-nom-founder-to-religious-freedom-commission/news/2012/03/27/37199

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US acted to conceal evidence of intelligence failure before 9/11

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/27/us-intelligence-failure-911-fbi-cia

Operation Foxden, delayed by turf war between the FBI and the CIA, given green light three days before the al-Qaida attacks


guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 27 March 2012

The US government shut down a series of court cases arising from a multimillion pound business dispute in order to conceal evidence of a damning intelligence failure shortly before the 9/11 attacks, MPs were told.

Moreover, the UK government is now seeking similar powers that could be used to prevent evidence of illegal acts and embarrassing failures from emerging in court, David Davis, the former shadow home secretary, told the Commons.

The Justice and Security green paper being put forward by Ken Clarke’s justice ministry has already faced widespread criticism from civil rights groups, media representatives and lawyers working within the secret tribunal system that hears terrorism-related immigration cases.

Davis demanded to know how its proposals could be prevented from being used to cover up crimes and errors. “In light of previous revelations about the UK government’s complicity in torture and rendition of detainees to locations like of Libya, Afghanistan, or illegally into American hands … how will the Government prevent the Justice and Security green paper proposals being misused in a similar way to cover up illegal acts and embarrassments rather than protect national security?”

Davis said that in 1998 the FBI seized upon an opportunity to eavesdrop on every landline and telephone call into and out of Afghanistan in a bid to build intelligence on the Taliban. The Bureau discovered that the Taliban regime had awarded a major telephone network contract to a joint US-UK venture, run by an American entrepreneur, Ehsanollah Bayat and two British businessmen, Stuart Bentham and Lord Michael Cecil.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/mar/27/us-intelligence-failure-911-fbi-cia

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