Indian Women March: ‘That Girl Could Have Been Any One of Us’

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/31/world/asia/rape-incites-women-to-fight-culture-in-india.html

By and
Published: December 30, 2012

NEW DELHI — Neha Kaul Mehra says she was only 7 years old the first time she was sexually harassed. She was walking to a dance class in an affluent neighborhood of New Delhi when a man confronted her and began openly masturbating.

The police patrolled a New Delhi rally on Sunday after the cremation of a woman whose rape prompted widespread protests.

That episode was far from the last. Years of verbal and physical sexual affronts left Ms. Mehra, now 29, filled with what she described as “impotent rage.”

Last week, she and thousands of Indian women like her poured that anger into public demonstrations, reacting to news of the gang rape of another young woman who had moved to the city from a small village, with a new life in front of her.

That woman, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, died Saturday from internal injuries inflicted with a metal rod during the rape, which took place on a bus two weeks ago.

In her story and its brutal ending, many women in the world’s largest democracy say they see themselves.

“That girl could have been any one of us,” said Sangeetha Saini, 44, who took her two teenage daughters to a candle-filled demonstration on Sunday in Delhi. Women in India “face harassment in public spaces, streets, on buses,” she said. “We can only tackle this by becoming Durga,” she added, referring to the female Hindu god who slays a demon.

Indian women have made impressive gains in recent years: maternal mortality rates have dropped, literacy rates and education levels have risen, and millions of women have joined the professional classes. But the women at the heart of the protest movement say it was born of their outraged realization that no matter how accomplished they become, or how hard they work, women here will never fully take part in the promise of a new and more prosperous India unless something fundamental about the culture changes.

Indeed, many women in India say they are still subject to regular harassment and assault during the day and are fearful of leaving their homes alone after dark. Now they are demanding that the government, and a police force that they say offers women little or no protection, do something about it.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/31/world/asia/rape-incites-women-to-fight-culture-in-india.html

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Italian women protest misogynist priest: Violence against women ‘an emergency’

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/12/30/italian-women-protest-misogynistic-priest-violence-against-women-an-emergency/

By Eric W. Dolan
Sunday, December 30, 2012

Women in Carrara, Italy protested at Sunday mass against a misogynistic priest who suggested women incited domestic and sexual violence against themselves.

“We decided to stage this protest because we think that this ideology is basically shared by most of the Catholic Church and society. This ideology has become one of the causes of violence against women, which is actually an emergency in Italy,” said Alessandra Verdini, an anthropologist and women’s rights activist who organized the protest.

Father Piero Corsi of Liguria said in a Christmas bulletin that the rise in domestic violence in Italy was caused by women serving cold food, not looking after their children, not cleaning their home, acting arrogant, and dressing provocatively.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/12/30/italian-women-protest-misogynistic-priest-violence-against-women-an-emergency/

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Belgium To Prosecute Scientology As Criminal Organization; Church Faces Charges Of Extortion, Fraud

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/28/belgium-prosecutes-scientology-extortion-fraud_n_2375823.html

By
Posted: 12/28/2012

Federal public prosecutors in Belgium will institute legal proceedings against the church of Scientology in that country and seek to recognize it as a criminal organization.

The church of Scientology — which is not recognized as a faith in Belgium — and several of its top-ranking members face charges including extortion, fraud, illegal practice of medicine and violation of privacy laws, according to Flanders News.

The complaint stems from an investigation of fraudulent labor contracts issued by the church of Scientology in an effort to recruit new volunteers and members. A judge ordered raids on Scientology offices in 2008 that allegedly uncovered a “wealth of evidence” that the organization had spied on and extorted money from its members, according to De Standaard.

An estimated 500 people belong to the church of Scientology in Belgium. The organization’s European headquarters are located in Brussels.

Belgium is not the only European country in which Scientology has faced criticism and legal action.

Scientology came under fire in France in 2009 when it was convicted of fraud for “[pressuring] members into paying large sumhttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/28/belgium-prosecutes-scientology-extortion-fraud_n_2375823.htmls for questionable remedies,” according to the Associated Press. That conviction was upheld in a French appeals court in February 2012.

Germany does not recognize Scientology as a faith, and a 1997 state-level interior ministry report described the organization’s agenda and activities as “marked by objectives that are fundamentally and permanently directed at abolishing the free democratic basic order,” Time reported in 2007.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/28/belgium-prosecutes-scientology-extortion-fraud_n_2375823.html

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The Only Freedom that Matters is the Freedom to Nervously Guard Against Your Constant Fear of Emasculation

From Pandagon @ Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/12/26/the-only-freedom-that-matters-is-the-freedom-to-nervously-guard-against-your-constant-fear-of-emasculation/

By Amanda Marcotte
Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Those freedom-loving arsenal-builders love liberty soooooo much, y’all. The want to hump it, lick it, and most importantly, take it to the shooting range to share in the glory of the One and Only Real Liberty: the liberty to believe the gun industry when they tell you their products will deceive everyone else into thinking you’re a tough manly man. They’re so into “freedom” they’re willing not just to tolerate periodic pre-Christmas massacres of little kids and firefighters to preserve the steady profits for gun manufacturers. They love the liberty of gun companies to make a mint off the corpses of 1st graders and firemen so much, in fact, that they’re willing to destroy every other right in order to preserve the One and Only Real Liberty.

Which is why those liberty-loving patriots have come together to demand that there be legal repercussions for people who publicly disagree with them. The First Amendment be damned; it it interferes with gun company profits, free speech must end.

A petition calling to deport pro-gun control CNN host Piers Morgan back to England has easily surpassed the 25,000 that requires a response from the White House. Started on Friday in Texas a few days after Morgan called gun advocate Larry Pratt “an unbelievably stupid man”, the petition accuses Morgan of engaging “in a hostile attack against the U.S. Constitution” and wants to deport him “immediately for his effort to undermine the Bill of Rights and for exploiting his position as a national network television host to stage attacks against the rights of American citizens.”

The Constitution, of course, doesn’t have any anti-American blather in it about due process or the rule of law, and certainly nothing   in it as subversive as saying that people have things like “freedom of speech, or of the press”, nor to peaceably assemble without the threat of a guy with a semiautomatic weapon with an extended clip that can wipe them all out in less time than it takes Glenn Reynolds to complete his obligatory quarterly wife-humping. The Constitution is a surprisingly simple document, consisting of a single sentence:

The right of gun companies to make obscene profits convincing morons that their testicles will fall off if they don’t dump thousands of dollars building up arsenals to guard against the imaginary impending apocalypse shall not be abridged.

No other language in it. Hey, they drank a lot back in the 18th century.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/12/26/the-only-freedom-that-matters-is-the-freedom-to-nervously-guard-against-your-constant-fear-of-emasculation/

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National Rifle Association moves to block UN treaty on gun control

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/28/nra-block-un-treaty-gun-control

Not content with blocking gun safety laws to prevent US shooting massacres, the NRA is working to thwart international action


guardian.co.uk, Friday 28 December 2012

While the final funerals for the victims of the Newtown, Connecticut school massacre have been held, gun violence continues apace, most notably with the Christmas Eve murder of two volunteer firefighters in rural Webster, New York, at the hands of an ex-convict who was armed, as was the Newtown shooter Adam Lanza, with a Bushmaster .223 caliber AR-15 semiautomatic rifle. James Holmes, the alleged perpetrator of the massacre last July in Aurora, Colorado, stands accused of using, among other weapons, a Smith & Wesson AR-15 with a 100-round drum in place of a standard magazine clip.

Standing stalwartly against any regulation of these weapons and high-capacity magazines, the National Rifle Association continues to block any gun control laws whatsoever, and even trumpets its efforts to block the global arms trade treaty, slated for negotiations at the United Nations this March.

On Christmas Eve, the same day as the attack in Webster, the UN general assembly voted to move ahead with 10 days of negotiations on the arms trade treaty, to commence 18 March. Recall it was last July that the Obama administration said it “needed more time” to review the proposed treaty, effectively killing any hope of getting a treaty passed and sent back to member nations for ratification. This was just one week after the Aurora massacre, and in the heat of a close presidential election campaign.

The NRA succeeded in helping to scuttle the global arms trade treaty, delivering to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a letter opposing the treaty signed by 50 US senators, including eight Democrats, and 130 members of the House of Representatives.

The global treaty shouldn’t be controversial. By signing on, governments agree not to export weapons to countries that are under an arms embargo, or to export weapons that would facilitate “the commission of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes” or other violations of international humanitarian law. Exports of arms are banned if they will facilitate “gender-based violence or violence against children” or be used for “transnational organized crime”.

The treaty deals with international exports of weapons and ammunition, not any nation’s internal, domestic laws that govern the sale or use of guns.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/28/nra-block-un-treaty-gun-control

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Bernie Sanders “Everybody Knows The House Is Dominated By Right-Wing Extremists!”

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Lindsay Graham: I Will Destroy America’s Solvency Unless The Social Security Retirement Age Is Raised

From Think Progress:   http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/12/30/1379681/lindsay-graham-i-will-destroy-americas-solvency-unless-the-social-security-retirement-age-is-raised/

By Ian Millhiser
on Dec 30, 2012

Although official Washington is currently fixated on the so-called “Fiscal Cliff,” the biggest threat to American prosperity is the debt ceiling, which must be raised in February to prevent economic catastrophe. If Republicans refuse to reach a deal on the so-called cliff, the Congressional Budget Office predicts that they will spark a new recession in 2013. But if Republicans block action on the debt ceiling, they will make that potential recession look quaint. Without raising the debt ceiling, the United States will be forced to embrace austerity so severe it will lead to “a bigger GDP drop than that experienced during the Great Recession of 2008.”

But in an interview on Fox News Sunday this morning, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) threatened to oppose this must-pass bill unless Social Security benefits are taken away from millions of future retirees:

I’m not going to raise the debt ceiling unless we get serious about keeping the country from becoming Greece, saving Social Security and Medicare [sic]. So here’s what i would like: meaningful entitlement reform — not to turn Social Security into private accounts, not to take a voucher approach to Medicare — but, adjust the age for Social Security, CPI changes and means testing and look beyond the ten-year window. I cannot in good conscience raise the debt ceiling without addressing the long term debt problems of this country and I will not.

Watch it:

Complete article at:  http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/12/30/1379681/lindsay-graham-i-will-destroy-americas-solvency-unless-the-social-security-retirement-age-is-raised/

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Fiscal cliff discussions break down after Republicans demand Social Security cuts

From Daily Kos:  http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/12/30/1174395/-Fiscal-cliff-discussions-break-down-after-Republicans-demand-Social-Security-cuts

Laura Clawson
Sun Dec 30, 2012

Fiscal cliff curb talks predictably broke down again when Republicans made a late demand for cuts to Social Security in the form of chained CPI:

Talks foundered after Republicans dug in in an effort to get the largest deficit reduction deal in the time remaining, according to numerous Republican and Democratic officials familiar with the negotiations. Republicans told Democrats that they were willing to put off scheduled cuts in payments to health care providers who treat Medicare patients but that they wanted spending cuts elsewhere.But it was the inflation calculation that forced Democrats from the negotiating table. President Obama has said that in a “grand bargain” on deficit reduction, he would go along with the change, which would slow the growth of programs whose outlays rise with consumer prices, and would raise more revenue by pushing people into higher tax brackets.

Democrats said that Mr. Obama and Congressional Democrats would accept that change, called “chained C.P.I.,” only as part of a larger deal that included locking in well more than $1 trillion in revenue over 10 years, along with other Republican concessions. Democrats fear that any such concessions now would only increase demands for addition concessions in the coming weeks, when talks resume on a “grand bargain” to reduce the deficit.

Speaking from the floor of the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid rejected chained CPI:

Continue reading at:  http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/12/30/1174395/-Fiscal-cliff-discussions-break-down-after-Republicans-demand-Social-Security-cuts

See Also: Huffington Post:  Fiscal Cliff: GOP Gives In On Social Security Cuts In Stalled Talks

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Why the Protestant Work Ethic Is a Menace to Society

Why should Americans have to work like slaves with so little paid vacation or sick time?  People in Europe who are every bit as free as Americans get nearly a month of paid vacation time each year.  Why do we have to work like fucking slaves to enrich the pigs of the 1%?

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/labor/why-protestant-work-ethic-menace-society?paging=off

Good riddance to a religious approach that preached salvation through constant hard labor.

By Robert S. Becker
October 24, 2012

Two weeks ago Pew Research pinpointed an historic threshold: for the first time only 48% of Americans deemed themselves Protestant. Yes, the dominant majority since Puritan days has shrunk to minority status, alongside (one trusts) its perennial double: the White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant ruling class.

With the Protestant hegemony fading, let us project a similar demise for the simplistic, planet-threatening credo known as the “Protestant Ethic.” That triumphant code consecrates hard work, prosperity and control over nature, complacently measuring progress by net profit and GNP numbers. Here’s a conviction that unifies our two parties in love with the status quo, along with reactionaries and fundamentalists everywhere. For all proclaim the Divinity of Hard Work, that Hard Work Conquers All, even that Work is Salvation, as both sign and vehicle of “exceptionalism” and personal deliverance.

For the hard right, does not the magic of hard work resolve crime, poverty, racial inequality, family shortcomings, economic stagnation and phantom enemies far and wide? The solution to all hard knocks, these hard people say, is hard work, the anvil for human destiny — and beyond.  Gee, what happened to one-time, theoretical promises of greater leisure time?

Certainly Yanks celebrate that savvy American, Benjamin Franklin, who elevated thrift, industry, and tenacity; or as he put it, “Energy and persistence alter all things.” But today’s ideological folly distorts the context of birthright, namely background, gender, education, and family assets. Thus schoolchildren still endure injunctions to “keep your nose to the grindstone” (ouch), “there is no substitute for hard work” (Thomas Edison), and my favorite, “hard work never killed anyone” (“but why take the chance,” quipped witty Edgar Bergen).

Or check out Bishop Mitt’s website: “Help Romney Get America Back to Work,” while refusing to affirm public education, retraining, or support for needy families. So much for the famed “bootstraps” by which the poor will pull themselves up.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/labor/why-protestant-work-ethic-menace-society?paging=off

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Meet the woman battling Japan’s whaling fleet in Antarctic ocean

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/dec/29/japan-whalers-sea-shepherd-activists

Japanese hunters won’t kill a single whale this winter, Sea Shepherd activists vow

Joanne Brookfield
The Observer, Saturday 29 December 2012

One of Natalie Fox’s most cherished memories is of kayaking just off the coast of America accompanied by inquisitive blue whales. They came to “hang out with us for two hours”, said Fox, a 30-year-old environmental activist, originally from Cornwall. “The more time you spend with them in the ocean, the more you realise how special they are.”

Now Fox, a co-founder of the campaigning group Women for Whales, is to be a key player in the Sea Shepherd conservation society’s Operation Zero Tolerance. In its biggest venture to date, the society will soon be sending four ships to take on the Japanese whaling fleet in the Southern Ocean with the aim of preventing the death of even a single whale.

Almost three months ago, Fox, a surfing and yoga instructor, was summoned to Hobart, Australia. She was responding to an email that read: “There’s a spot for you, but you’ve got to come, now! To Australia. Right away. And you’re undercover, so you can’t tell anyone.”

Fox is aware that the operation will be a challenging one, especially since she is prone to seasickness. The icy conditions of the Southern Ocean whale sanctuary – ideal for minke and fin whales but inhospitable for humans – will be a test, although the chance to see icebergs at close quarters, she said, will be priceless. However, she will be spending most of her time cooking, in the galley of the Sam Simon, Sea Shepherd’s newest vessel.

She is putting potential confrontations out of her mind. “I can’t think about it until I’m in the moment or it’s happening at that time, and hope that whatever happens, it’s all good,” she said.

The secrecy surrounding her “call-up” was necessary, as Sea Shepherd was in the process of acquiring the Sam Simon, which Fox has been living on in port with the other 23 crew members. The 56-metre ship began life as the Seifu Maru, an ocean research vessel used by the Japanese whaling fleet. Sea Shepherd said Japanese government officials failed to realise who was buying it.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/dec/29/japan-whalers-sea-shepherd-activists

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Justice For January! Kill a Trans Woman & Get Bail? Friends Say NO!

From planetransgender:  http://planetransgender.blogspot.com/2012/12/justice-for-january-kill-trans-woman.html

By Kelli Anne Busey
Saturday, December 29, 2012

Reposted with permission

Charles Jameson Neel charged with killing Transgender woman January Marie Lapuz may get bail before his trial. Friends of January Marie Lapuz Say NO!


Transgender woman January Marie Lapuz from Santiago, Isabela Philippines immigrated to Vancouver, British Columbia to escape what has become known as a very transphobic country only to be murdered Sept. 29 at the age of 26.

Bail in Canada can be denied if “detention is necessary for the protection or safety of the public. This includes whether there is a substantial likelihood the accused will commit a further offence or interfere with the administration of justice.

This precisely what frightens the BC trans community. The crime was violent and resulted in the death of January. This was a real woman, live flesh and blood with hopes, dreams and passions as January’s Facebook page reveals. Does her murder not equate to that of a cisgender woman?

Persons charged with a criminal offence in Canada have a constitutional right to reasonable bail unless there is some compelling reason to deny it. These reasons can be related to the accused’s likelihood to skip bail, or to public danger resulting from the accused being at large. In stark contrast to many other jurisdictions granting a constitutional right to bail, in Canada the accused may even be denied bail because the public confidence in the administration of justice may be disturbed by letting the individual, still legally innocent, go free pending the completion of the trial or passing of sentence (Criminal Code, s. 515 (10)(c)). :Wiki Bail Canada

The Justice for January protest is before this alleged murderers bail hearing is scheduled so if you are in BC you will have a opportunity to demand equality and justice for January.

Justice For January! Kill a Trans Woman & Get Bail? Friends Say NO!

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Transgender no longer a medical disorder

Ah err not a psychiatric disorder is not the same thing as not a medical disorder.

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2012/12/27/transgender_no_longer_a_medical_disorder/

Editions to the new DSM remove “gender identity disorder” but many underlying assumptions remain unchanged

By
Thursday, Dec 27, 2012

The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) will no longer include “gender identity disorder” — the term applied in the manual since 1980 to pathologize transgender individuals.

The new version of the DSM-5 will instead include an entry for “gender dysphoria,” an important shift from “identity disorder” since dysphoria applies only to those individuals feeling distress over their assigned gender identity. Individuals who identify differently from the gender assigned at birth are thus no longer considered to be mentally ill by the APA’s categorization. “We know there is a whole community of people out there who are not seeking medical attention and live between the two binary categories. We wanted to send the message that the therapist’s job isn’t to pathologize,” Jack Drescher, a member of the APA who worked on the this issue, told the Advocate earlier this year.

Retaining “gender dysphoria” within the DSM-5, as opposed to removing all listings relating to gender variance, will allow individuals seeking coverage for hormone treatments or surgery to point to a medical problem within the DSM.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2012/12/27/transgender_no_longer_a_medical_disorder/

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Being transgender no longer a mental ‘disorder’ in diagnostic manual

From CNN:  http://inamerica.blogs.cnn.com/2012/12/27/being-transgender-no-longer-a-mental-disorder-in-diagnostic-manual/?hpt=he_c2

By Moni Basu
December 27th, 2012

(CNN) – The American Psychiatric Association announced this month approved changes in its official guide to classifying mental illnesses.

Among the major announced revisions to the manual, known as DSM-5, is that Asperger’s syndrome will now be included in the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder “to help more accurately and consistently diagnose children with autism,” the association said in a statement.

But the group made another big change that did not make as many headlines, though it is considered by many to be important.

The new DSM eliminates the term “gender identity disorder,” long considered stigmatizing by mental health specialists and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists.

That old diagnosis meant that a man who believed he was destined to be a woman was considered mentally ill.

No longer so.

The new DSM refers to “gender dysphoria,” which focuses the attention on only those who feel distressed by their gender identity.

“I think it’s a significant change,” said Jack Drescher, a member of the American Psychiatric Association group that made the recommendation after working on it for four years. “It’s clinically defensible, but it reduces the amount of stigma and harm that existed before.”

Continue reading at:  http://inamerica.blogs.cnn.com/2012/12/27/being-transgender-no-longer-a-mental-disorder-in-diagnostic-manual/?hpt=he_c2

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Transgender is a fact of life

From The Times Union (Albany, NY):  http://www.timesunion.com/opinion/article/Transgender-is-a-fact-of-life-4150203.php

By REX AND KAREN BUTT, Commentary
Published 7:56 pm, Thursday, December 27, 2012

The movement for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality has made great strides over the past few years. In 2011, state legislators finally realized that all loving, committed New Yorkers should be free to marry the person they love. Earlier this year, President Barack Obama followed suit, and we are hopeful that the Supreme Court will soon reach the same conclusion.

Despite such progress, there is one life-threatening omission The T in LGBT has been left behind. As parents of a transgender daughter, we are deeply concerned that, merely because of her gender identity and expression, our state’s laws deny our daughter basic civil rights and protections that others take for granted. This is why our New Year’s wish for 2013 is that New York lawmakers pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act. It is also our New Year’s resolution not to rest until this law passes.

Without this basic, common sense measure -— which enjoys broad public support — transgender citizens face legal challenges in categories as basic as employment and housing. For living her life openly, with dignity and authenticity, our daughter can be fired from her job or denied or removed from housing, both without recourse, simply because she is transgender. We do not accept that our child or anyone should have to endure these challenges, yet they remain a fact of life for our daughter and thousands of others only because of the lack of action by our state Legislature.

The passage of GENDA, as the proposed law is known, is not only a necessary, life-affirming measure for thousands of New Yorkers and their families. It also finishes a job that is already started. Today, almost 60 percent of New Yorkers are covered by county or municipal laws that protect people based on gender identity and expression, and passage of GENDA would bring parity to the remainder of the state’s residents. Furthermore, 16 states and countless municipalities, many that are far more conservative than New York, have passed such laws, all without incident. Ironically, New York is widely perceived as progressive, yet when it comes to protecting our daughter, we have yet to catch up with Colorado, New Mexico, and Illinois.

Does Gender Identification Have a Place In Our Political System?

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peggy-drexler/does-gender-identificatio_b_2380468.html


12/29/2012

The 2012 elections are over and it was a landmark one for women. Female voters made up 54 percent of the electorate, and according to exit polls, 55 percent of those women voted for Obama, coming out in support of equal pay for equal work, funding for preventative health care, and the right to decide what they do with their bodies. Thanks to a few key victories, women now make up 20 percent of the Senate, which boasts its first gay member in Wisconsin’s newly elected Tammy Baldwin. Meanwhile, wins in the state of New Hampshire have created the country’s first all-female delegation: a female governor, two senators, and two Congresswomen. This time around, gender, it would seem, trumped politics.

The question is: does that kind of gender identification have a place in our political system? Simple answer: yes.

Given the stubborn issues still facing women today, gender matters. In this past presidential election there was new life in the move to de-fund Planned Parenthood altogether and a resurrection of the demand that any health care plan offering abortion coverage be barred from participating in insurance exchanges under the health care plan. Not that the new arrivals could turn the tide on those issues alone. Both arms of Congress are still firmly in the hands of men. Women in, women out — what’s the big deal? Yet, in this past election gender’s judicial flashpoint — reproductive choice — was in jeopardy of limiting or denying that choice. Women saw that threat as no man possibly could.

Here’s a quick glimpse of why gender is every bit as important to the Supreme Court. In a case brought by four women against AT&T in 2008 and settled in 2009, the Court ruled that decades-old pregnancy leaves taken under old pension rules do not have to be counted in calculating pension payouts. It was a small case, with limited immediate impact. Business won and women lost — one of those dissenting was the then-lone woman on the Court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Justice Ginsburg, who says her tireless support of workplace equality was shaped by her own professional struggles, wrote: “Certain attitudes about pregnancy and childbirth throughout human history have sustained pervasive, often law-sanctioned, restrictions on a woman’s place among paid workers and active citizens.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peggy-drexler/does-gender-identificatio_b_2380468.html

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President Obama urges Illinois to pass marriage equality legislation

From Daily Kos:  http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/12/29/1174705/-President-Obama-urges-Illinois-to-pass-marriage-equality-legislation

Scott Wooledge
Sat Dec 29, 2012

Here’s some cheery news to take your mind off the fiscal cliff curb. Posted two 6:00 pm Saturday on the Chicago Sun-Times, which they are calling an exclusive.

WASHINGTON–President Barack Obama is urging the Illinois General Assembly to legalize gay marriage in his home state as lawmakers are poised to take up the measure as early as this week in Springfield.”While the president does not weigh in on every measure being considered by state legislatures, he believes in treating everyone fairly and equally, with dignity and respect,” White House spokesman Shin Inouye told the Chicago Sun-Times on Saturday.

“As he has said, his personal view is that it’s wrong to prevent couples who are in loving, committed relationships, and want to marry, from doing so. Were the President still in the Illinois State Legislature, he would support this measure that would treat all Illinois couples equally.” Inouye said.

The bill is underway (more here), and enjoys good popular support, and Gov. Quinn will sign it, if it can get out of the legislature.

Continue reading at:  http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/12/29/1174705/-President-Obama-urges-Illinois-to-pass-marriage-equality-legislation

See also Huffington Post: Illinois Gay Marriage: Prairie State Could Be Next U.S. State To Approve Marriage Equality

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Woman Accused of Hate-Crime Murder in Subway Push

Hate crimes such as this should lead to sentences of life without possibility of parole.

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/30/nyregion/woman-is-held-in-death-of-man-pushed-onto-subway-tracks-in-queens.html

By
Published: December 29, 2012

A 31-year-old woman was arrested on Saturday and charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime in connection with the death of a man who was pushed onto the tracks of an elevated subway station in Queens and crushed by an oncoming train.

The woman, Erika Menendez, selected her victim because she believed him to be a Muslim or a Hindu, Richard A. Brown, the Queens district attorney, said.

“The defendant is accused of committing what is every subway commuter’s nightmare: Being suddenly and senselessly pushed into the path of an oncoming train,” Mr. Brown said in an interview.

In a statement, Mr. Brown quoted Ms. Menendez, “in sum and substance,” as having told the police: “I pushed a Muslim off the train tracks because I hate Hindus and Muslims ever since 2001 when they put down the twin towers I’ve been beating them up.” Ms. Menendez conflated the Muslim and Hindu faiths in her comments to the police and in her target for attack, officials said.

The victim, Sunando Sen, was born in India and, according to a roommate, was raised Hindu.

Mr. Sen “was allegedly shoved from behind and had no chance to defend himself,” Mr. Brown said. “Beyond that, the hateful remarks allegedly made by the defendant and which precipitated the defendant’s actions should never be tolerated by a civilized society.”

Mr. Brown said he had no information on the defendant’s criminal or mental history.

“It will be up to the court to determine if she is fit to stand trial,” he said.

Ms. Menendez is expected to be arraigned by Sunday morning. If convicted, she faces a maximum penalty of life in prison. By charging her with murder as a hate crime, the possible minimum sentence she faced would be extended to 20 years from 15 years, according to prosecutors.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/30/nyregion/woman-is-held-in-death-of-man-pushed-onto-subway-tracks-in-queens.html

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Italy starts taxing Catholic Church — when will the US?

From Class Warfare Exists:  http://www.classwarfareexists.com/italy-starts-taxing-catholic-church-when-will-the-us/

by Eideard
on 28 Dec 2012

Overdue. Not only in Italy. Not only regarding the Catholic Church.

Living in a nation with a constitution requiring separation of church and state, it is truly absurd that we still don’t collect property taxes, business taxes on the money-making, profit-generating properties owned by religious institutions.

Italy’s Catholic Church will be forced to pay taxes starting in 2013 after the EU pressured the country’s government to pass a controversial law stripping the Church of its historic property tax exemption.

The Catholic Church in Italy is excluded from paying taxes on its land if at least a part of a Church property is used non-commercially – for instance, a chapel in a bed-and-breakfast. “The regulatory framework will be definite by January 1, 2013 – the start of the fiscal year – and will fully respect the [European] Community law,” Italian premier Mario Monti’s government said in a statement…

The move could net Italy revenues of 500 million to 2 billion euros annually across the country, municipal government associations said. The extra income from previously exempt properties in Rome alone – including hotels, restaurants and sports centres – could reach 25.5 million euros a year…

Continue reading at:  http://www.classwarfareexists.com/italy-starts-taxing-catholic-church-when-will-the-us/

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Catholic Church: Children will be damaged by gay couples marrying in Britain

From Pink News UK:   http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/12/29/catholic-church-children-will-be-damaged-by-gay-couples-marrying-in-britain/

by
29 December 2012

A letter to be read to worshipers in Roman Catholic Churches across Birmingham will say that the Government has not considered the damage to be done to children by allowing gay couples to marry in England and Wales as well as Scotland.

The letter focuses on the consequences of two fathers bringing up a child.

The letter to be read in church tomorrow to mark the Feast of the Holy Family has been written by the Archbishop of Birmingham, the Most Reverend Bernard Longley will say: “Government policy cannot foresee the full consequences, for the children involved or for wider society, of being brought up by two mothers without a father’s influence or by two fathers without a mother’s influence.

“We first learn about diversity and acquire a respect for difference through the complementarity of our parents.”

The letter continues: “The complementary love of father and mother is a precious gift that we should wish for every child.

“We know that many single parents courageously and generously look after their children and often struggle to give them a fine upbringing.

Continue reading at:  http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2012/12/29/catholic-church-children-will-be-damaged-by-gay-couples-marrying-in-britain/

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Eight Are Charged With Chilean Singer’s 1973 Murder After US Supported Fascist Military Coup

On September 11,1973, Pinochet led a Nixon/Kissinger backed Fascist Military coup in Chile where they over threw the democratically elected Alliende, a socialist.  Subsequently Pinochet’s fascists rounded up and murdered hundreds if not thousands of suspected leftists.

In the years since the US has provided shelter for numerous fascist murderers from Pinochet’s government and other deposed fascist dictatorships.

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/29/world/americas/eight-charged-with-victor-jaras-1973-murder-in-chile.html

By PASCALE BONNEFOY
Published: December 28, 2012

SANTIAGO, Chile — Eight retired army officers were charged on Friday with the murder of a popular songwriter and theater director, Víctor Jara, who was tortured and killed days after the 1973 military coup in a stadium that had been turned into a detention center.

Judge Miguel Vásquez charged two of the former officers, Pedro Barrientos and Hugo Sánchez, with committing the murder and six others as accomplices. Mr. Sánchez, a lieutenant colonel, was second in command at the stadium. Mr. Barrientos, a lieutenant from a Tejas Verdes army unit, currently lives in Deltona, a city southwest of Daytona Beach, Fla., and was interrogated by the F.B.I. earlier this year at the request of a Chilean court. Attempts to reach Mr. Barrientos for comment were unsuccessful; his two listed telephone numbers had been disconnected.

Judge Vásquez issued an international arrest warrant against Mr. Barrientos through Interpol Santiago and ordered the arrest of the other seven, who were in Chile. Those charged as accomplices are Roberto Souper, Raúl Jofré, Edwin Dimter, Nelson Hasse, Luis Bethke and Jorge Smith.

Víctor Jara, then 40, was a member of the Communist Party and a leading folk singer in the late 1960s and early ’70s. A day after the American-supported Sept. 11 coup that ousted the socialist president, Salvador Allende, Mr. Jara was arrested by the military at the Santiago Technical University, where he was a professor and researcher, along with hundreds of students, teachers and staff members.

The detainees were bused to Chile Stadium, since then renamed Víctor Jara Stadium, and held in the bleachers for days with thousands of other prisoners, in the custody of army units brought in from various parts of the country.

Judge Vásquez established that Mr. Jara was recognized by military officers, separated from the rest of the detainees and taken to the basement dressing rooms, which were being used to question prisoners. There, he was interrogated, beaten and tortured by several officers, according to the court.

Continue reading:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/29/world/americas/eight-charged-with-victor-jaras-1973-murder-in-chile.html

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