Secret clique in L.A. County sheriff’s gang unit probed

From LA Times:  http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-sheriff-clique-20120420,0,663420.story

The investigation was prompted by the discovery of a document that suggests that the group, known as the Jump Out Boys, considers officer-involved shootings to be a badge of honor.

By Robert Faturechi, Los Angeles Times
April 20, 2012

Los Angeles County sheriff’s detectives have launched a probe into what appears to be a secret deputy clique within the department’s elite gang unit, an investigation triggered by the discovery of a document suggesting the group embraces shootings as a badge of honor.

The document described a code of conduct for the Jump Out Boys, a clique of hard-charging, aggressive deputies who gain more respect after being involved in a shooting, according to sources with knowledge of the investigation. The pamphlet is relatively short, sources said, and explains that deputies earn admission into the group through the endorsement of members.

The sources stressed that the internal affairs investigation is still in its early stages and that little is known about the Jump Out Boys’ behavior or its membership.

Still, sheriff’s officials are concerned that the group represents another unsanctioned clique within the department’s ranks, a problem the department has been grappling with for decades.

Last year, the department fired a group of deputies who all worked on the third, or “3000,” floor of Men’s Central Jail, after the group fought two fellow deputies at an employee Christmas party and allegedly punched a female deputy in the face. Sheriff’s officials later said the men had formed an aggressive “3000” clique that used gang-like three-finger hand signs. A former top jail commander told The Times that jailers would “earn their ink” by breaking inmates’ bones.

Other cliques — with names like Grim Reapers, Little Devils, Regulators and Vikings —- have been accused of breeding a gang-like mentality in which deputies falsify police reports, perjure themselves and cover up misconduct.

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Fighting For Her Life: Transgender Woman Charged With Murder

From The Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/Crime/Fighting_for_her_Life_Trans_Woman_Charged_With_Murder/

One night in front of a Minneapolis bar has changed CeCe McDonald’s life forever.

By Diane Anderson-Minshall
April 20, 2012

In light of the Trayvon Martin killing — an incident in which a black youth armed with only a cell phone and pack of Skittles was killed by a white neighborhood patrol member — there’s been a whirlwind of media coverage debating the issues of race and justice and occasionally how LGBT folks should or do fit into the mix.

Nowhere are those issues more apparent than in the case of CeCe McDonald, a 23-year-old African-American transgender woman who goes on trial in Minneapolis April 30 for second-degree murder. It’s a case that has galvanized Minnesota’s LGBT community as well as transgender and African-American individuals nationwide. To many it’s served as a stark reminder that that black and transgender people experience imprisonment at a rate significantly disproportionate to that of the general U.S. population. And according to recent studies by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, trans people are at greater risk of discrimination, mistreatment, harassment, and assault throughout their experiences with the criminal justice system.

McDonald (named Chrishaun by her parents, nicknamed CeCe by her friends) was charged with second-degree murder after a June 5, 2011, incident in Minneapolis, on an evening that began like many in the city. At the time, McDonald was a vibrant and creative young woman known by her friends as energetic and optimistic. She was studying fashion at Minneapolis Community and Technical College, a program that’s the only one of its kind in the upper Midwest and has led many bright young students to Minneapolis’s rather vibrant fashion and theater scenes for work.

She lived with and helped support four other African-American youth, her chosen family of queer and trans kids she was trying to mentor and assist. Each person described her as a leader, a role model, and a loyal friend, and notably, a woman who had, say many supporters, a history of handling prejudice with amazing grace. Her friends called her Honee Bea.

On June 5, 2011, McDonald and four black friends, all of them trans or queer, headed out to Cub Foods, a popular grocery store in south Minneapolis, just after midnight. The grocery store is in one of those business strips where working-class and immigrant entrepreneurs struggle for the American dream. It is, writes Redlark, a white lower-middle-class queer activist in the Twin Cities, in a Tumblr post in support of McDonald,  “a busy, polluted, vital artery” between a police station and a light rail station, “in a historically contested neighborhood where communities meet, mix, and sometimes contend: the older white working class who bought in during the ’70s and ’80s meets immigrants from Mexico, Somalia, and Central America who came looking for work or for political refuge; Native people still under the gun of colonization; African-Americans who’ve lived in Minneapolis for generations or arrived from Chicago or New Orleans in the last few years; students, punks, and radicals, mostly, but not exclusively white, gentrifiers or born in the neighborhood.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.advocate.com/Crime/Fighting_for_her_Life_Trans_Woman_Charged_With_Murder/

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: Pot Songs for 4/20

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Will Canada Legalize Marijuana?

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Attorney warns of violence if university snuffs out Colorado 4/20 protest

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/04/19/attorney-warns-of-violence-if-university-snuffs-out-colorado-420-protest/

By Stephen C. Webster
Thursday, April 19, 2012

A violent scene could be the inevitable result if the Colorado University-Boulder’s moves ahead with its plans to snuff out a long-running 4/20 protest, a Colorado attorney warned Raw Story on Thursday.

“What the university is trying to do is kill a fly with a nuclear ICBM,” Robert Corry, Jr., a lawyer specializing in marijuana law who’s currently working with Colorado protesters, told Raw Story on Thursday. “It’s completely overreaching to close down an entire campus to all members of the public.”

The school announced last week that it would use police officers to restrict access to campus on April 20, preventing anyone who is not a student from stepping onto their grounds. “The gathering disrupts teaching and research right in the heart of the campus,” CU-Boulder Chancellor Philip P. DiStefano said in a media advisory. “The size of the crowd has become unmanageable, and limits our faculty, staff and students from getting to class, entering buildings and doing their basic work. It needs to end.”

To that effect, CU-Boulder plans to bring in a swarm of police officers on Friday to surround the campus and set up checkpoints at key entrances. They intend to prevent unauthorized access to the campus by non-students, and the school said that officers will be issuing tickets for trespassing that carry fines of $750 and up to six months in jail.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/04/19/attorney-warns-of-violence-if-university-snuffs-out-colorado-420-protest/

See Also:

420 Meaning: The True Story Of How April 20 Became ‘Weed Day’

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Some Relationship Counseling for Feminism and the Left

I remember when Robin Morgan launched her diatribe against the Left and the Counter Culture in 1970.  I was part of Weather, living in Berkeley where the left and feminist seemed to be on the same side in their analysis of social structures and oppressions.

In retrospect Morgan’s diatribe comes off as both highly privileged and aimed at devastating a unified progressive front that was aimed at furthering the rights of all people including women.

Oppression and privilege are rarely absolutes, yet Morgan used the idea of one dimensional absolutes of oppression to separate feminism from other issues of oppression including class and race.

Hillary Rosen spoke the truth when she said Ann Romney has never worked a day in her life.  Neither has Mitt.  The rich and privileged do not work, not the same way the lumper loading a truck or the primary school teacher does.

From Truth Out:  http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/8581-some-marriage-counseling-for-feminism-and-the-left

By Harriet Fraad
Thursday, 19 April 2012

First marriages, sometimes cynically called “starter marriages” often don’t work. Second and third marriages work out even less. Americans marry and also divorce more than any other people on earth. I believe that a prime reason for our remarkable remarriage rate is Americans’ loneliness in our time of disconnection from each other.

According to Cacioppo and Patrick’s brilliant book, “Loneliness,” our basic sense of self is built on three legs of support. Each leg is a way of connecting to others. One basic support is personal, individual, intimate connection to a person who puts us at the center of her or his emotional life. The second is a relational connection to a wider circle of friends and/or family whom we trust and with whom we share personal bonds. The third leg of support is collective connection to a wider group. This can be a political group, a work-related group, a religious group, a sports group or any other social group with which we identify and with whom we are active. Americans have lost two of the three legs that hold up our sense of self. We have become isolated and separate from relational and collective supports.

Countless studies agree that Americans are disconnected from one another. The most thorough is Robert Putnam’s book, “Bowling Alone.” In one dramatic example, Putnam points out that in spite of the increase in the US population since 1970, there are fewer members in active groups in America now than were in bowling leagues alone in 1970. One out of four Americans has no one to talk to even in a crisis. Americans may marry more than other people because they have lost two of the three basic constructs for a human self. A vast number of Americans has neither a circle of friends nor trusted family members nor collective connection to and membership in a wider social group. People may look to marriage to support them on every level.

Snip

The founding mothers of what was called the women’s liberation movement were socialist activists. Most of us believed that since we, as women, were at the bottom of economic and political hierarchies, if we demanded economic and political equality for women, we would bring everyone with us to create an America with equal opportunity for all. Although the early women’s liberation movement was a mass movement of distinct and differing groups, all of the feminist foremothers were leftists. We were multiracial and multi-ethnic. The first significant publication of the women’s liberation movement in 1968 was “Notes from the Second Year: Women’s Liberation” edited by Shulamith Firestone and Anna Koedt. The first anthology of women’s liberation statements, “Sisterhood Is Powerful,” was edited by Robin Morgan and published in 1970. Both were written within an avowedly left, class-conscious perspective. Both included multi-ethnic and African American women’s liberation pieces. In addition, there were groups of minority women who had their own feminist groups. The Third World Women’s Alliance was formed in New York City in 1968. Their revolutionary statement is published in “Dear Sisters,” a collection of writings from the women’s liberation movement. The women’s liberation movement lost its class focus and left-connectedness. One reason for this loss was our naiveté.

The naiveté of many of our hopes came in part from the times we lived in. The 1960s were a time of promise, prosperity and optimism. Unemployment was about 3 percent. Job opportunities for white men were omnipresent. White men were paid a family wage whether they had a family or not. Jobs for women and people of color were available, albeit at lower wages and in fewer sectors. Men of all races earned more than women did. Education guaranteed a job, even though a lesser one for women or people of color. There was a mass and largely successful civil rights movement and a powerful mass movement to stop the war in Vietnam. There was a sense of hope. The United States and the US dollar were the kings of the world. In prosperous 1960s and early 1970s America, women were paid fifty-nine cents for every dollar of men’s pay, even when women supported their families alone or worked side by side with men on the same job. That was the historical context of early feminism.

The early women’s liberation movement was unsophisticated. We, like most of the new left at the time, were class conscious, but we were neither immersed nor much interested in leftist history or theory. Early feminists formed our agenda through a radical technique called consciousness raising. We talked together about the struggles in our own lives and found a platform built upon our personal experiences. That was a powerful and effective method. However, if we had been more knowledgeable of and grounded within foiled attempts at gender justice or class equality, we may have done better. Had we seriously studied the way wealth and power operate, we would have had a far greater appreciation of the resources, resilience and manipulation that threatened our dreams. Perhaps, we would have been better able to forge common cause with the left had we anticipated right-wing determination to expunge the demand for class justice from our new feminist agenda.

Continue reading at:  http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/8581-some-marriage-counseling-for-feminism-and-the-left

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A Real Name

I’m really pretty impressed with some of the things Natalie Reed has to say.

We met when I asked her if I could run her piece on the “Cotton Ceiling” and became Facebook friends.

Now I really liked this piece about “Real Names”.  I don’t give  the name my parents gave me at birth in the memoir, I’m writing, but I’m old and that name was attached to me for less than a third of my life and during much of that time I didn’t have a choice in the matter.

I’m really glad there are some fresh voices coming along.  People who aren’t bogged down in the endless transwars and people who are challenging all sorts of dogmatic thinking.

Now Natalie gave me permission to run this piece in its entirety but I’m not going to do that because I want you to click on the link and go to her blog and read it there I’m just going to give you a standard few paragraph teaser.

While you are at it read some of her other articles, cuz she has some really bright stuff to say.

From  Natalie Reed Free Thought Blogs:  http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/04/17/a-real-name/

Natalie Reed
April 17, 2012

“So, what’s your real name?”

“Natalie.”

“No, I mean like, your real name, the one you were born with.”

“My assigned name?”

“Yeah, your real one.”

“It wasn’t real, and it’s none of your business.”

I’ve always found it interesting, this idea of a name’s “realness”. That a chosen name is not real but the ones arbitrarily imposed on us, before our selfhood had been in any way articulated, before there was really an “us” to name, are. To me it seems like such a silly, weird inversion of everything the concept of a name actually signifies, at least in my mind.

Names carry a great deal of weight and significance. I’d almost go so far as to say they have a nearly metaphysical power. A name is ultimately just a word that, like any word, is really just arbitrary sounds and squiggles that only carry any potency or meaning by way of the associations and significance we, cooperatively, invest in them. But a name is a particularly powerful word in that the significance we’ve poured into it, the association it makes, is with us, with our selves. That overarching, aggregate, emergent coalescence of our cognitive processes, the singifier that signifies not only all we are, but also the being of all we are, the are-ness itself (without which all the other signifiers dissolve back into noise… if not less. If not less than less.)

The name is that which signifies the self.

We have a habit of denigrating and dismissing chosen names. We’ll put little scare quotes around them, speak them in a satirical tone, engage with their use in the context of humouring someone. It seems like there’s this immense, subconscious drive to dismiss the possibility of a name that extends from the self it signifies. This dismissal becomes particularly strong when we refuse to accept the premise on which the name was selected. For instance, if we reject new age principles, or hippy / environmentalist culture in general, we’ll happily mock someone for having chosen the name Sage or Dharma or Windleaf. If we think it’s silly for people to convert to Islam, we’ll mock their conversion names. And yes, if we deny the legitimacy of someone’s transgender identity, one of the most cutting, hurtful and easy ways to make that position clear is to deny a trans person’s chosen name.

Now go on over to her blog and read the rest:  http://freethoughtblogs.com/nataliereed/2012/04/17/a-real-name/

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Ten-Thousand Birds Die as ‘Everglades of West’ Dries and Spreads Disease

From Eco Watch:  http://ecowatch.org/2012/ten-thousand-birds-die-as-everglades-of-west-dries-and-spreads-disease/

American Bird Conservancy
04-18-2012

Officials from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) are estimating that more than 10,000 migrating birds have died so far this year because of reduced water flow to the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon and California. Officials say the final death toll may be close to 20,000 birds.

So far this year, the refuge has only received enough water to cover half its 30,000 acres of wetland marshes. That has forced the 2 million birds that migrate through the area, which is a key part of the Pacific Flyway for migrating birds, to congregate in much smaller spaces, thereby creating a climate much more favorable to spreading, quickly fatal, avian cholera. In order to reduce the further spread of the disease, volunteers have been dispatched to pick up carcasses of the dead birds and incinerate them in FWS furnaces.

The problem is that it has been a dry year and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) hasn’t allowed water into the refuge since December. BOR parcels out water for users, and their first priority for water that might go to the refuge is for endangered fish, followed by various tribal responsibilities, and then farming needs. Some experts say that the refuge could go dry in three months if water is not provided.

“The consequences to shutting off water to the Lower Klamath Refuge are enormous and unacceptable. We cannot continue to place wildlife at the bottom of the pecking order for so many things and not expect that at some point, we won’t face dire repercussions. Federal, state and local officials need to come up with a plan that divides the water shortage compromises up more equitably,” said Dr. George Fenwick, president of American Bird Conservancy.

Established in 1908 along the northern border of California and the southern border of Oregon, the Lower Klamath Refuge was the nation’s first waterfowl refuge. This 53,600-acre refuge is a varied mix of shallow freshwater marshes, open water, grassy uplands and croplands (that are managed to provide feeding, resting, nesting and brood-rearing habitat for waterfowl and other water birds. Significant species of birds that use the reserve include the American White Pelican; White-faced Ibis; Snow, Ross’, and White-fronted Geese; Peregrine Falcon; Pintail; Gadwall; Canvasback; Western and Eared Grebe; Black Tern; and Tri-colored Blackbird. Snow Geese and Northern Pintails seem to be the hardest hit from the disease this year.

Continue reading at:  http://ecowatch.org/2012/ten-thousand-birds-die-as-everglades-of-west-dries-and-spreads-disease/

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When We Grow Up, We Will Fall in Love with Earth

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/04/19-0

by Robert C. Koehler
Published on Thursday, April 19, 2012 by Common Dreams

The AP story on military maneuvers in the Arctic reads like the gleeful report of a mugging.

“To the world’s military leaders, the debate over climate change is long over. They are preparing for a new kind of Cold War in the Arctic, anticipating that rising temperatures there will open up a treasure trove of resources, long-dreamed-of sea lanes and a slew of potential conflicts.”

Wow, what fun — a new playground, with maybe 90 billion barrels waiting for corporate exploitation beneath the melting ice cap, 30 percent of the world’s untapped natural gas, and all sorts of minerals, diamonds, gold, copper, zinc and so much more. And the world’s armed forces get to play war games. Boys will be boys!

The first insanity here is that this is how major news is reported, as the sophomoric reduction of a terrifying global wound to a spectacle of pop culture, with military leaders portrayed as independent actors, taking it on themselves to prepare for inevitable war in or over the Arctic Circle, which is, thanks to global warming, now open for business.

There’s not the least pause in the breathless verbiage to reflect on the possible implications of climate change. There’s no attempt to widen the perspective of the story beyond the military-industrial competitive frenzy to exploit suddenly available resources. There’s no feint toward the future — just more of the same, nationalism and capitalism, flowing mindlessly to the Arctic like chemicals in a Petri dish. The message here seems to be: This is the final phase of human evolution, folks, so let’s make the most of it.

We haven’t developed a popular media yet that’s interested in or capable of reaching toward the bigger story in its global reportage. It’s stuck in the futility of zero-sum geopolitics. But it strikes me that now may be the time to expand our horizons.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/04/19-0

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Rush Limbaugh Boycott Spreads To Local Advertisers and Radio Stations

From PoliticusUSA:  http://www.politicususa.com/rush-limbaugh-boycott-now/

Jason Easley
April 19, 2012

The National Organization for Women has announced a campaign to hit Rush Limbaugh in the wallet by pressuring local businesses and radio stations to stop doing business with him.

NOW President Terry O’Neill said, “For more than two decades, Rush Limbaugh has degraded women, people of color and anyone who doesn’t look or think like him. Like bullies everywhere, Limbaugh uses the age-old tactic of savaging one woman for the purpose of intimidating all women away from the public square. Rush’s hostile, hateful speech is destructive to our public discourse, our communities and our democracy…NOW is proud to stand with Sandra Fluke and everyone Limbaugh has degraded and insulted over the years. We hope that women’s rights and social justice supporters around the country will join us in this campaign.”

Some of the cities where protests of Limbaugh’s local affiliates will be held include, Washington, D.C., New York City, Phoenix, AZ, Indianapolis, IN, Columbia, MO, Toledo, OH, Grand Rapids, MI, and West Palm Beach, FL.

On Monday, Rush Limbaugh tried to minimize the movement against him by blaming Bill Maher for the war on women, while he claimed that the outrage against him was phony, “By the way, you ought to see all the blog posts on the left. “Can we get rid of this phony outrage?” they’re asking. “Can we stop this? It was fine to manufacture phony outrage during Sandra Fluke, and it was fine to keep that going for three weeks, but this? There’s no point here. This is ridiculous. Aren’t we just outraged out? Can we just get rid of the outrage?”

Continue reading at:  http://www.politicususa.com/rush-limbaugh-boycott-now/

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Greenwald: Assange + RT drives US mainstream extra mad

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Gulf seafood deformities alarm scientists

From Al Jazeera:  http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/04/201241682318260912.html

Eyeless shrimp and fish with lesions are becoming common, with BP oil pollution believed to be the likely cause.

Dahr Jamail
18 Apr 2012

New Orleans, LA – “The fishermen have never seen anything like this,” Dr Jim Cowan told Al Jazeera. “And in my 20 years working on red snapper, looking at somewhere between 20 and 30,000 fish, I’ve never seen anything like this either.”

Dr Cowan, with Louisiana State University’s Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences started hearing about fish with sores and lesions from fishermen in November 2010.

Cowan’s findings replicate those of others living along vast areas of the Gulf Coast that have been impacted by BP’s oil and dispersants.

Gulf of Mexico fishermen, scientists and seafood processors have told Al Jazeera they are finding disturbing numbers of mutated shrimp, crab and fish that they believe are deformed by chemicals released during BP’s 2010 oil disaster.

Along with collapsing fisheries, signs of malignant impact on the regional ecosystem are ominous: horribly mutated shrimp, fish with oozing sores, underdeveloped blue crabs lacking claws, eyeless crabs and shrimp – and interviewees’ fingers point towards BP’s oil pollution disaster as being the cause.

Eyeless shrimp

Tracy Kuhns and her husband Mike Roberts, commercial fishers from Barataria, Louisiana, are finding eyeless shrimp.

“At the height of the last white shrimp season, in September, one of our friends caught 400 pounds of these,” Kuhns told Al Jazeera while showing a sample of the eyeless shrimp.

Continue reading at:  http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/04/201241682318260912.html

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Voter Fraudster finally found…Guess Who?

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Millennials Abandoning Christianity

From Religion News Service:   http://www.religionnews.com/blogs/mark-silk/millennials-abandoning-christianity

Mark Silk
Apr 19, 2012

Dude, that’s the headline I’d put on the new survey of Millennials from the Public Religion Research Institution and Georgetown’s Berkley Center. Like, 80.2 percent of them were raised as some kind of Christian and now just 64.2 percent consider themselves such. That 20 percent decline is largely accounted for by the increase from 11.1 percent to 24.7 percent of the cohort that the survey calls “unaffiliated”–i.e. those who identify with no religion, or Nones. Add a bit over a percentage point increase for both the non-Christians and the “Don’t Knows,” and you’ve got the whole picture.

While every Christian grouping experienced some decline, the big losers are the Catholics and the Mainline Protestants, both of which declined by 28 percent. White Catholics dropped 34 percent; Latino Catholics, 21 percent. Indeed, at this point Catholic Millennials are evenly divided between whites and Latinos, at 9 percent each.

Complete article at:   http://www.religionnews.com/blogs/mark-silk/millennials-abandoning-christianity

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Losing the Right to Abortion, Week by Week: Restrictions on Later-Term Abortions Harm Women

From RH Reality Check:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/04/18/losing-right-to-abortion-week-by-week-restrictions-on-later-term-abortions-harm-w

by Susan Yanow
April 19, 2012

The landscape for access to abortion is shifting quickly, as state after state passes restrictive laws. Particularly affected by these new laws are women who need abortions later in their pregnancies.

In April 2010, Nebraska became the first state in the country to pass a restriction on abortion after 20 weeks, based on an unscientific claim that fetuses feel pain after 20 weeks gestation. The Nebraska law banned abortions after 20 weeks for any reason except if the pregnant woman’s life is in danger. Prior to the passage of this law in Nebraska, there were 21 states (plus the District of Columbia) where abortion was available after 20 weeks. Although in most of these states these services were dependent on one site and one physician, nonetheless the services existed. Since April 2010, legislation limiting abortions to 20 weeks has been signed into law in Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Oklahoma and North Carolina. Bills making access to later abortion more difficult were passed in Missouri and Ohio.

Arizona’s lawmakers have gone even further. Although the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalized abortion through the second trimester, generally understood as 24 to 26 weeks, Arizona has redefined biology and the right to abortion. Last week Arizona signed into law new restrictions on abortion after 18 weeks. By any calculation, 18 weeks is the middle of the second trimester, and mid-pregnancy. The trimester construction of Roe is becoming irrelevant in many states.

In Arizona, Kansas, Nebraska, North Carolina and Georgia, these new laws eliminated (or will eliminate when enacted) existing services that provide abortion care for women who needed to end a pregnancy after 20 weeks. As a result, today there are today only 16 states that provide abortion care after 20 weeks.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/04/18/losing-right-to-abortion-week-by-week-restrictions-on-later-term-abortions-harm-w

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Connect the Dots on 5/5/12

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Lilly Ledbetter Slams Mitt Romney, GOP On Fair Pay Issue

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/18/lilly-ledbetter-mitt-romney_n_1435266.html


04/18/2012

Lilly Ledbetter, the woman who famously sued her employer after discovering she was being paid less than her male colleagues and who inspired the first piece of legislation President Barack Obama signed upon entering office, fired back against likely GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney after he declined to say whether he would have signed the bill into law.

“It took me more than 20 years to get an answer for the injustices that I suffered as an unfairly paid worker, so I know what it’s like to wait for justice. I know what it’s like to fight for justice. But Mitt Romney told me and millions of other women that he couldn’t commit to fighting with us or for us,” Ledbetter told reporters Wednesday.

On National Equal Pay Day Tuesday, one day after Romney dodged a question about the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the executive director of the New Hampshire Republican Party called the law a “handout to trial lawyers” that allows women to “sue their employers unnecessarily.”

“Romney and the New Hampshire Republican Party should also consider this isn’t just about women,” Ledbetter responded. “It’s all about families and their economic security. I know Obama believes in those values.”

In 1998, Ledbetter sued her employer, Goodyear Tire and Rubber, for paying her significantly less over the course of her career than her less experienced male colleagues who were doing similar work. The Supreme Court ultimately sided against Ledbetter because she had waited 6 years to file suit, far exceeding the 180-day statute of limitations.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act extends that window, giving women more time in which to sue their employers for wage discrimination.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/18/lilly-ledbetter-mitt-romney_n_1435266.html

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Did Cartagena mark the beginning of the end of the war on drugs?

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/apr/18/cartagena-war-on-drugs

Slowly but surely, world leaders are beginning to admit that their war on drugs is not working. Reform is now unavoidable


guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 18 April 2012

Dominated by Anglo/Latin discord and the improprieties of Barack Obama’s entourage, the most recent Summit of Americas in the Colombian city of Cartagena appears at first glance to have been a waste of jet fuel. But while lurid tales of secret service agents behaving like hirelings on a piss-up tour make for tasty headlines, the summit could well be remembered not for its failures, but as the beginning of the end of the war on drugs.

The significance of what transpired over the weekend cannot be overstated: in years past, we’ve seen countless instances of former leaders, judges and law enforcement officers coming forward to argue the case for international drug policy reform, but this is the first time we’ve seen sitting governments openly discussing ending the war on drugs in a diplomatic setting. The success is largely due to the efforts of Guatemalan president Otto Perez Molina, who in the Guardian issued a passionate argument on behalf of reform, proposing “to abandon any ideological position (whether prohibition or liberalisation) and to foster a global intergovernmental dialogue based on a realistic approach – drug regulation”.

In Cartagena, Molina successfully launched this dialogue, with leaders of the Organisation of American States agreeing to carry out a technical study on current drug policy that will be used to recommend alternatives. But it wasn’t just those in favour of policy alternatives doing the talking; president Obama and Canada’s prime minister Harper have also, in their own slow and disingenuous ways, begun to acknowledge reality. Although Obama has been clear that he opposes all forms of decriminalisation and legalisation, he admitted that drug reform was a debatable issue, stating: “I think it is entirely legitimate to have a conversation about whether the laws in place are doing more harm than good in certain places.” Perhaps even more telling was Harper, who conceded at a press conference that the drug war was “not working“.

What these kernels of reason suggest is that even for ideologues, the topic of reform has become unavoidable and that the political currency of polarisation is officially bankrupt. If we view Cartagena within the framework of a traditional war, what we have witnessed is the first draft of an armistice. The problem with the drug war, and the reason why it has taken so long for reformers to gain any traction, is that it has remained a niche issue due to its deeply classist nature. In a global context, developing nations endure the violence while the developed subsidise it, through both consumer demand and law enforcement funding. Within the developed countries a similar formula is reproduced; with poor neighbourhoods and demographics taking the place of their nation-state equivalents.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/apr/18/cartagena-war-on-drugs

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Greenwashing Walmart

From Corp Watch: http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?list=class&class=21

by Pratap Chatterjee
April 18th, 2012

Is Walmart going green? Mike Duke, the company’s CEO, says in a new 126 page report that the company is becoming more sustainable and responsible while “building meaningful, long-term change.” Activists disagree. Walmart’s “environmental impact has only grown over the last seven years” they say in a counter-report.

Walmart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, runs giant discount retail stores that sell consumer goods at rock bottom prices. It has grown to become the world’s largest private employer with 2011 sales of $421.85 billion. The company has been a major target for union activists like United Food and Commercial Workers which started the Wake Up Wal-Mart campaign and the Service Employees International Union which started Walmart Watch (The two unions have since merged and so has the campaign) It was also the subject of a critical film: “The High Cost of Low Price” produced by Robert Greenwald in 2005.

Walmart responded by hiring public relations advisers and teaming up with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) in 2005. It was an easy solution – EDF has a history of working with big business: For example, in 1990 EDF signed a partnership with McDonald’s to begin a recycling program, one of the first instances of “greenwashing” – a tactic by which companies “preserve and expand their markets by posing as friends of the environment and enemies of poverty.” (as defined by Kenny Bruno in the Greenpeace Book On Greenwash issued in 1992) The New York-based NGO has since signed agreements with the Carlyle Group, Citibank and FedEx.

On Monday, Walmart released a list of top ten “sustainability” achievements which included such notables as the design of a new icon “Great for You” to encourage consumers to identify “healthy food options.”

The company also touted some numbers such as the claim that it had kept “80.9 percent of all waste generated by our U.S. operations out of landfills. This has the potential to prevent 11.8 million metric tons of CO2 emissions annually.”

Not everyone is convinced that the numbers add up. Food & Water Watch and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) have issued a new report titled Top 10 Ways Walmart Fails on Sustainability.

Continue reading at:  http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?list=class&class=21

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The Corporate Media’s Outrageous Double Standard on Romney and Ted Nugent

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/story/155050/the_corporate_media%27s_outrageous_double_standard_on_romney_and_ted_nugent?akid=8620.100406.ASXnQP&rd=1&t=5

Mitt Romney’s campaign welcomed the endorsement of a washed-up rock-n-roller who said President Obama could “suck on my machine gun.” Where’s the outrage?

By Adele M. Stan
April 18, 2012

In the realm of political outrages, a clear double standard exists: those directed against the president of the United States or his Democratic allies are simply regarded as white noise. Ever since the election of the nation’s first African-American president, the media seem to have become acclimated to a right-wing rhetorical landscape so fraught with racism and violence that words once unthinkable as public utterances by supporters of a Republican candidate barely register as such. Yet, cowed as they are by the right-wing message machine, media figures often feel that they dare not ignore even the most ridiculous of right-wing talking points.

When CNN commentator Hilary Rosen took let loose some snark at Ann Romney’s life as a privileged stay-at-home mom, the lag time for a media response could be measured in minutes. Ann Romney, wife of the likely GOP presidential nominee, “never worked a day in her life,” Rosen said. The Rosen remark, said Ann Romney in an overheard conversation at a Romney fundraiser, turned out to be an “early birthday present.” The Romney campaign wrapped it up with a bow and ran with it, and for the next six days, the Rosen remark drew an endless supply of tweets, op-eds and television punditry.

So when Mitt Romney’s campaign warmly welcomed the endorsement of a washed-up rock-n-roller who called President Barack Obama “a piece of shit” who should “suck on my machine gun,” one would imagine media bedlam ensuing. But despite our best efforts — blogging, tweeting, listicle-writing — the media responded with radio silence.

True, Nugent didn’t issue his threats on CNN, and the Obama campaign inexplicably ignored the endorsement. But the guy was already on record as a racist and a misogynist (in 2000, he called then-First Lady Hillary Clinton “a toxic cunt“), and nobody seemed to care.

It wasn’t until Nugent issued forth with a new round of violence-laced rhetoric, aimed at the president and other Democrats, at last week’s National Rifle Association conference — and Right Wing Watch posted the video — that the media took any notice of Nugent’s chummy relationship with the Romney folks, or even asked the Romney campaign to answer for the venom spewed by a celebrity supporter whose endorsement the Romney camp applauded when it was issued, via Twitter, last month.

Endorsement From Well-Known Bigot and Misogynist Draws No Interest

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/story/155050/the_corporate_media%27s_outrageous_double_standard_on_romney_and_ted_nugent?akid=8620.100406.ASXnQP&rd=1&t=5

 

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