Pentagon still banning personnel from accessing LGBT websites

From Gay Star News:   http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/pentagon-still-banning-personnel-accessing-lgbt-websites050113

US personnel are still banned from accessing LGBT content from US Department of Defence computers well over a year after the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

By Andrew Potts
05 January 2013

The US Department of Defense is still banning personnel from accessing LGBT websites despite the US having ended its ban on gays and lesbians serving openly in the military

AMERICAblog discovered that it and an another popular LGBT themed blog, Towleroad could not be accessed from Department of Defense computers.

Towleroad was banned under the webfilter category ‘Blogs/Personal Pages; LGBT’ while AMERICAblog was unaccessible from US Air Force computers for being ‘political’ and ‘activist.’

AMERICAblog asked the OutServe-SLDN association for active duty LGBT military personnel to confirm the continued banning of access to LGBT themed websites and were shocked to find that even www.Josh.Seefried.com, a website discussing LGBT military issues operated by one of OutServe’s own co-directors was banned under the LGBT filter.

However despite some LGBT websites being banned for being ‘political,’ blogs and websites for conservative commentators including talk radio host Rush Limbaugh’s and author Ann Coulter were not banned by the Defense Department. Neither were anti-LGBT lobby groups such as the American Family Association.

‘What’s really offensive is that at least one of the Pentagon’s safe-surfing Internet filters has a censorship category called “LGBT” and if you’re deemed “LGBT” by the Pentagon, they ban you,’ AMERICAblog editor John Aravosis wrote after uncovering the story.

Continue reading at:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/pentagon-still-banning-personnel-accessing-lgbt-websites050113

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Gerda Lerner, a Feminist and Historian, Dies at 92

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/04/us/gerda-lerner-historian-dies-at-92.html?ref=obituaries

By
Published: January 3, 2013

Gerda Lerner, a scholar and author who helped make the study of women and their lives a legitimate subject for historians and spearheaded the creation of the first graduate program in women’s history in the United States, died on Wednesday in Madison, Wis. She was 92.

Her death was confirmed by Steve J. Stern, a history professor and friend at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where Dr. Lerner had taught for many years.

In the mid-1960s, armed with a doctorate in history from Columbia University and a dissertation on two abolitionist sisters from South Carolina, Dr. Lerner entered an academic world in which women’s history scarcely existed. The number of historians interested in the subject, she told The New York Times in 1973, “could have fit into a telephone booth.”

“In my courses, the teachers told me about a world in which ostensibly one-half the human race is doing everything significant and the other half doesn’t exist,” Dr. Lerner told The Chicago Tribune in 1993. “I asked myself how this checked against my own life experience. ‘This is garbage; this is not the world in which I have lived,’ I said.”

That picture changed rapidly, in large part because of her efforts while teaching at Sarah Lawrence College in the early 1970s. In creating a graduate program there, Dr. Lerner set about trying to establish women’s history as a respected academic discipline and to raising the status of women in the historical profession. She also began gathering and publishing the primary source material — diaries, letters, speeches and so on — that would allow historians to reconstruct the lives of women.

“She made it happen,” said Alice Kessler-Harris, a history professor at Columbia. “She established women’s history as not just a valid but a central area of scholarship. If you look at any library today, you will see hundreds of books on the subject.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/04/us/gerda-lerner-historian-dies-at-92.html?ref=obituaries

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The Violence Against Women Act is down, but not out

From The Maddow Blog:  http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2013/01/04/16349080-the-violence-against-women-act-is-down-but-not-out

By Steve Benen
Fri Jan 4, 2013
As we reported on Wednesday, Congress had until New Year’s Eve to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which has traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support, but House Republicans let the law expire.

With the passing of the deadline, we’re now getting a better sense of why efforts to renew the law failed. The Huffington Post reported, for example, that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who had negotiated directly with Vice President Biden on the law’s fate, refused to allow VAWA to advance in his chamber because he wanted to scrap protections for Native American women. The bipartisan Senate version extended tribal courts limited jurisdiction to oversee domestic violence offenses committed against Native American women by non-Native American men on tribal lands, and the House Republican leader deemed that unacceptable.

Sahil Kapur explained, reauthorization “fell prey to House Republican resistance — in this case, to expanding the Act to cover more women. In the end, House GOP leaders refused bring to a vote a bill that passed the Senate with a bipartisan supermajority.”

But VAWA proponents aren’t done. My colleague Jamil Smith reported yesterday that Cantor’s office is still willing to “move the bill forward,” though it’s unclear what it will take to make that happen, and the National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women will continue to push for the law’s return.

Continue reading at:  http://maddowblog.msnbc.com/_news/2013/01/04/16349080-the-violence-against-women-act-is-down-but-not-out

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Violence Against Women—Unfinished Business

From The Women’s Media Center:  http://www.womensmediacenter.com/feature/entry/violence-against-womenunfinished-business

By Mary Ann Swissler
January 4, 2013

The new Congress will have to undo the damage caused by GOP House members who blocked reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act—legislation that until now had earned broad bipartisan support.

Four women die each day because of domestic violence. Yet the legislation designed to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault and treat survivors expired after House Republicans blocked it. They objected to the Senate’s proposed expansion of Native American jurisdiction on reservations for domestic violence and sexual assault prosecution by tribal courts. The Senate 2012 reauthorization also expanded programs for immigrant and LGBT victims, provisions that actually met little opposition, according to a Senate staffer.

With Congress’s January 2 adjournment, the laborious process will begin all over again in the current legislative session that opened January 3.

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), originally passed in 1994, was authored by Joe Biden, then a senator from Delaware. The vice-president recently traveled to the Hill to advocate for renewal  of the act, which enjoyed automatic bipartisan support when it came up for reauthorization in 2000 and 2005.

VAWA is credited with reducing annual rates of domestic violence by more than 60 percent. Still, 24 people per minute report experiencing intimate partner violence in the United States. That’s one in four women and one in seven men.

The Senate passed its version last April and was widely hailed for expanding services to Native American, immigrant and LGBT women. In response, the House passed a bill lacking these provisions, legislation that the American Bar Association opposed as “a retreat in the battle against domestic and sexual violence.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.womensmediacenter.com/feature/entry/violence-against-womenunfinished-business

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Purity Culture Is Rape Culture

From The American Prospect:  https://prospect.org/article/purity-culture-rape-culture

The shocking assault in India reveals that rape isn’t about sex—it’s about controlling women’s lives.

E.J. Graff
January 4, 2013

Her intestines were removed because the six men used a rusty metal rod during the “rape.”

That fact—the rusty metal rod—is what’s haunted me about the violent incident that has outraged India and the world. Six men held a 23-year-old woman and her male friend in a private bus for hours while they assaulted her so brutally that, after several surgeries to repair her insides, she died. What happened to this young woman was a gang assault. It can be called a sexual assault because among other things, they brutalized her vagina. Or it can be called a sexual assault because it was driven by rage at the female sex.

Since Susan Brownmiller first wrote Against Our Willthe landmark feminist reconceptualization of rapefeminists have worked on clarifying the fact that rape is less about sex than it is about rage and power. Too many people still conceive of rape as a man’s overwhelming urge to enjoy the body of a woman who has provoked him by being attractive and within reach. As is true in many “traditional” cultures, much of India still imagines that the violation was one against her chastity, as Aswini Anburajan writes at Buzzfeed. But conceiving it as primarily a sexual violation places the burden on women to protect their bodies’ purity. It means that the question that gets asked is this one: Why was she out so late at night, provoking men into rage by being openly female?

But seen from a woman’s own point of view, rape is quite different: It’s punishment for daring to exist as an independent being, for one’s own purposes, not for others’ use. Sexual assault is a form of brutalization based, quite simply, on the idea that women have no place in the world except the place that a man assigns them—and that men should be free to patrol women’s lives, threatening them if they dare step into view. It is fully in keeping with bride-burnings, acid attacks, street harassment, and sex-selective abortions that delete women before they are born.

I’ve now read a number of commentaries exposing India’s, particularly New Delhi’s, culture of street violence against women. The most memorable, by Sonia Faleiro in The New York Times, talks about the fear that was instilled in her during her 24 years living in Delhi:

Continue reading at:  https://prospect.org/article/purity-culture-rape-culture

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Rep. Dennis Kucinich…Congress Hearts Austerity

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Battles of the Budget

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/04/opinion/kurgman-battles-of-the-budget.html?ref=opinion&_r=0

By
Published: January 3, 2013

The centrist fantasy of a Grand Bargain on the budget never had a chance. Even if some kind of bargain had supposedly been reached, key players would soon have reneged on the deal — probably the next time a Republican occupied the White House.

For the reality is that our two major political parties are engaged in a fierce struggle over the future shape of American society. Democrats want to preserve the legacy of the New Deal and the Great Society — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — and add to them what every other advanced country has: a more or less universal guarantee of essential health care. Republicans want to roll all of that back, making room for drastically lower taxes on the wealthy. Yes, it’s essentially a class war.

The fight over the fiscal cliff was just one battle in that war. It ended, arguably, in a tactical victory for Democrats. The question is whether it was a Pyrrhic victory that set the stage for a larger defeat.

Why do I say that it was a tactical victory? Mainly because of what didn’t happen: There were no benefit cuts.

This was by no means a foregone conclusion. In 2011, the Obama administration was reportedly willing to raise the age of Medicare eligibility, a terrible and cruel policy idea. This time around, it was willing to cut Social Security benefits by changing the formula for cost-of-living adjustments, a less terrible idea that would nonetheless have imposed a lot of hardship — and probably have been politically disastrous as well. In the end, however, it didn’t happen. And progressives, always worried that President Obama seems much too willing to compromise about fundamentals, breathed a sigh of relief.

There were also some actual positives from a progressive point of view. Expanded unemployment benefits were given another year to run, a huge benefit to many families and a significant boost to our economic prospects (because this is money that will be spent, and hence help preserve jobs). Other benefits to lower-income families were given another five years — although, unfortunately, the payroll tax break was allowed to expire, which will hurt both working families and job creation.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/04/opinion/kurgman-battles-of-the-budget.html?ref=opinion&_r=0

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Noam Chomsky: The Gravest Threat to World Peace

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/world/noam-chomsky-gravest-threat-world-peace

Americans are kept in the dark about consequences of a possible nuclear-armed Mideast, and the US’s potential role.

By Noam Chomsky
January 4, 2013

 Reporting on the final U.S. presidential campaign debate, on foreign policy, The Wall Street Journal observed that “the only country mentioned more (than Israel) was Iran, which is seen by most nations in the Middle East as the gravest security threat to the region.”

The two candidates agreed that a nuclear Iran is the gravest threat to the region, if not the world, as Romney explicitly maintained, reiterating a conventional view.

On Israel, the candidates vied in declaring their devotion to it, but Israeli officials were nevertheless unsatisfied. They had “hoped for more ‘aggressive’ language from Mr. Romney,” according to the reporters. It was not enough that Romney demanded that Iran not be permitted to “reach a point of nuclear capability.”

Arabs were dissatisfied too, because Arab fears about Iran were “debated through the lens of Israeli security instead of the region’s,” while Arab concerns were largely ignored – again the conventional treatment.

The Journal article, like countless others on Iran, leaves critical questions unanswered, among them: Who exactly sees Iran as the gravest security threat? And what do Arabs (and most of the world) think can be done about the threat, whatever they take it to be?

The first question is easily answered. The “Iranian threat” is overwhelmingly a Western obsession, shared by Arab dictators, though not Arab populations.

As numerous polls have shown, although citizens of Arab countries generally dislike Iran, they do not regard it as a very serious threat. Rather, they perceive the threat to be Israel and the United States; and many, sometimes considerable majorities, regard Iranian nuclear weapons as a counter to these threats.

In high places in the U.S., some concur with the Arab populations’ perception, among them Gen. Lee Butler, former head of the Strategic Command. In 1998 he said, “It is dangerous in the extreme that in the cauldron of animosities that we call the Middle East,” one nation, Israel, should have a powerful nuclear weapons arsenal, which “inspires other nations to do so.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/world/noam-chomsky-gravest-threat-world-peace

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Those Who Say “I Support the Troops” Should Just Stop, Out of Respect for the Troops

From Michael Moore:  http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/mike-friends-blog/those-who-say-i-support-troops-really-dont

By Michael Moore
January 3rd, 2013

I don’t support the troops, America, and neither do you. I am tired of the ruse we are playing on these brave citizens in our armed forces. And guess what — a lot of these soldiers and sailors and airmen and Marines see right through the bull**** of those words, “I support the troops!,” spoken by Americans with such false sincerity — false because our actions don’t match our words. These young men and women sign up to risk their very lives to protect us — and this is what they get in return:

1. They get sent off to wars that have NOTHING to do with defending America or saving our lives. They are used as pawns so that the military-industrial complex can make billions of dollars and the rich here can expand their empire. By “supporting the troops,” that means I’m supposed to shut up, don’t ask questions, do nothing to stop the madness, and sit by and watch thousands of them die? Well, I’ve done an awful lot to try and end this. But the only way you can honestly say you support the troops is to work night and day to get them out of these hell holes they’ve been sent to. And what have I done this week to bring the troops home? Nothing. So if I say “I support the troops,” don’t believe me — I clearly don’t support the troops because I’ve got more important things to do today, like return an iPhone that doesn’t work and take my car in for a tune up.

2. While the troops we claim to “support” are serving their country, bankers who say they too “support the troops,” foreclose on the actual homes of these soldiers and evict their families while they are overseas! Have I gone and stood in front of the sheriff’s deputy as he is throwing a military family out of their home? No. And there’s your proof that I don’t “support the troops,” because if I did, I would organize mass sit-ins to block the doors of these homes. Instead, I’m having Chilean sea bass tonight.

3. How many of you who say you “support the troops” have visited a VA hospital to bring aid and comfort to the sick and wounded? I haven’t. How many of you have any clue what it’s like to deal with the VA? I don’t. Therefore, you would be safe to say that I don’t “support the troops,” and neither do you.

4. Who amongst you big enthusiastic “supporters of the troops” can tell me the approximate number of service women who have been raped while in the military? Answer: 19,000 (mostly) female troops are raped or sexually assaulted every year by fellow American troops. What have you or I done to bring these criminals to justice? What’s that you say — out of sight, out of mind? These women have suffered, and I’ve done nothing. So don’t ever let me get away with telling you I “support the troops” because, sadly, I don’t. And neither do you.

Continue reading at:  http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/mike-friends-blog/those-who-say-i-support-troops-really-dont

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It’s Time to Get Serious about Outlawing Billionaires

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Another Looming Cliff of Grave Consequence

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-redford/keystone-xl-pipeline_b_2408504.html


01/04/2013

The wake up call that Hurricane Sandy gave us was but one of many just in the last year. We can see that climate change is happening all around the country after the wildfires, droughts, floods and violent storms of 2012. So when President Obama said it was time to deal with global warming in his victory speech, that made perfect sense.

Why then would one of the first decisions after the election be to ignore the climate impacts of one of the dirtiest energy projects out there? That doesn’t make any sense.

The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is winding its way through a State Department environmental review process. The State Department messed up last time around. They didn’t include climate and a lot of other concerns that people along the pipeline path have. After the President rejected this pipeline earlier this year and TransCanada reapplied for a presidential permit for the northern section, the State Department got another chance to get it right.

It begs the question then, why does it look like they are going to get it wrong?

The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is a disaster in the making. It will cause expansion of the expensive and dirty tar sands oil excavation up in Canada’s Boreal forest. It threatens our own farms, and waters throughout our heartland. And it is going to make climate change worse as more tarry gunk is dug up, turned into gasoline and diesel and burned in cars and trucks.

All of this is for a pipeline that is meant to export tar sand oil overseas from America’s Gulf Coast. Our heartland, aquifers and climate are meant to sustain us. Instead the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline means that we take all the risks – from pipeline leaks and blows to the aftermath of toxic pools of waste water — and Big Oil reaps all the benefits. Canadians know better – they haven’t let new tar sands pipeline be built yet to either of their own coasts. In fact, the proposed Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline to the west coast is considered dead by many.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-redford/keystone-xl-pipeline_b_2408504.html

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It’s Time to Stop Spinning Our Wheels on Climate Change

From Eco Watch:  http://ecowatch.org/2013/stop-spinning-our-wheels/

by David Suzuki
01-02-2013

In 1988, hundreds of scientists and policymakers met in Toronto for a major international conference on climate change. They were sufficiently alarmed by the accumulated evidence for human-caused global warming that they issued a release stating, “Humanity is conducting an unintended, uncontrolled, globally pervasive experiment whose ultimate consequences could be second only to a global nuclear war.”

They urged world leaders to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2005. Had we heeded that warning and embarked on a campaign to meet the target, Canadians would now be healthier (because of reduced air pollution), have greater reserves of energy and more jobs. We’d also be a world leader in renewable energy and could have saved tens of billions of dollars.

The year was significant for environmentalists. In 1988, George H.W. Bush ran for the highest office in the U.S. and promised to be an “environmental president.” He didn’t have a green bone in his body, but public pressure compelled him to make a commitment he ultimately didn’t keep. That year, Margaret Thatcher was filmed picking up litter. She turned to the camera and said, “I’m a greenie, too.”

Canada’s Prime Minister Brian Mulroney was also re-elected in 1988. He appointed a bright new political star, Lucien Bouchard, as environment minister. I asked Bouchard during an interview what he considered to be our most important environmental issue. “Global warming,” he responded. I continued: “How serious is it?” His answer: “It threatens the survival of our species. We have to act now.”

In 1988, the environment was a top public concern, scientists spoke out and politicians said the right things. Global warming was a pressing and present issue. Now, 25 years later, carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise, and we’re already seeing the consequences—more extreme weather events, melting glaciers and Arctic ice, rising sea levels, reduced water flows in rivers and climate-related illness and death, among others. It’s driven in part by rapid economic growth in countries like China, India and Brazil. At the same time, most industrialized nations, whose use of fossil fuels created the problem of excess greenhouse gases, have done little to reduce emissions.

Continue reading at:  http://ecowatch.org/2013/stop-spinning-our-wheels/

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Natural Gas Fables and Energy Independence Myths

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/01/03-10

by Gwynne Dyer
Published on Thursday, January 3, 2013 by Common Dreams

Which of the following statements is true? The United States now has a 100-year supply of natural gas, thanks to the miracle of shale gas. By 2017 it will once again be the world’s biggest oil producer. By 2035 it will be entirely “energy-independent”, and free in particular from its reliance on Middle Eastern oil.

Unless you’ve been dead for the past couple of years, you’ve been hearing lots of enthusiastic forecasts like this, but not one of them is true. They are generally accompanied by sweeping predictions about geopolitics that are equally misleading, at least insofar as they depend on assumptions about cheap and plentiful supplies of shale gas and other forms of “unconventional” oil and gas.

For example, we are assured that the United States, no longer dependent on Arab oil, will break its habit of intervening militarily in the Middle East, since what happens there will no longer matter to Washington. But this new era of cheap and plentiful energy from fossil fuels will also result, alas, in sky-high greenhouse gas emissions and runaway global warming.

These statements are also untrue, at least in the formulation given above, since they are based on quite mistaken assumptions.

The original error, on which most of the others are based, is the belief that “fracking” – hydraulic fracturing of underground formations of shale rock to release the gas trapped within them – has fundamentally transformed the energy situation of the United States. Huge amounts are being invested in the newer shale plays like the Eagle Ford formation in Texas and the Marcellus in Pennsylvania, but the numbers just don’t add up.

Production of shale gas has soared in the United States (still the home to most shale plays) in the past ten years, but it is only compensating for the decline in conventional gas production in the same period. Moreover, while the operators’ calculations assume a forty-year productive lifetime for the average shale gas well, the real number is turning out to be around five to seven years.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/01/03-10

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