Jayne Cortez, Jazz Poet, Dies at 78

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/04/arts/jayne-cortez-poet-and-performance-artist-dies-at-78.html?ref=obituaries

By
Published: January 3, 2013

Jayne Cortez, a poet and performance artist whose work was known for its visceral power, its political outrage and above all its sheer, propulsive musicality, died on Dec. 28 in Manhattan. She was 78.

Her death, at Beth Israel Medical Center, was from heart failure, her son, the jazz drummer Denardo Coleman, said.

One of the central figures of the Black Arts Movement — the cultural branch of the black power movement that flourished in the 1960s and ’70s — Ms. Cortez remained active for decades afterward, publishing a dozen volumes of poetry and releasing almost as many recordings, on which her verse was seamlessly combined with avant-garde music.

She performed on prominent stages around the world, including, in New York, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Museum of Modern Art and Carnegie Hall.

Ms. Cortez’s work was beyond category by virtue of embodying so many categories simultaneously: written verse, African and African-American oral tradition, the discourse of political protest, and jazz and blues. Meant for the ear even more than for the eye, her words combine a hurtling immediacy with an incantatory orality.

Continue reading at:   http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/04/arts/jayne-cortez-poet-and-performance-artist-dies-at-78.html?ref=obituaries

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Dr Richard Curtis: transsexual doctor faces investigation

From The Telegraph UK:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9784545/Dr-Richard-Curtis-transsexual-doctor-faces-investigation.html

Britain’s first transsexual doctor is under investigation following complaints that he provided inappropriate treatment to patients wishing to change gender.

By Martin Evans and Andrew Hough
07 Jan 2013

Dr Richard Curtis, who was born Vanda Zadorozny, but had a sex change in 2005, is being investigated by the General Medical Council, after at least three separate complaints.

The London-based GP is accused of prescribing sex change hormones “to several patients” that were not appropriate and also ignoring restrictions placed on his practice.

In one case reportedly under investigation by the GMC, the doctors’ regulator, a woman complained she regretted undergoing treatment, which included having a double mastectomy and taking hormones.

In another case, it was alleged Dr Curtis, 46, prescribed sex change drugs to patients under 18, without the specialist knowledge or skills to do so.

It is alleged that Dr Curtis, who provides private treatment to patients pursuing “gender reassignment”, failed to follow accepted standards of care.

Continue reading at:   http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9784545/Dr-Richard-Curtis-transsexual-doctor-faces-investigation.html

The Guardian’s continued attempt at torpedoing Trans healthcare laid bare

From Complicity:  http://www.complicity.co.uk/blog/2013/01/batty-torpedoing-trans-healthcare/

by Zoe O’Connell
6 January 2013

It seems David Batty, Guardian “journalist”, has come out of his self-imposed retirement on writing about Trans issues to produce a rather obviously spun story on Doctor Richard Curtis, a private doctor who practices in London.

For those not aware of the history, David Batty has a history of attacking anyone or anything involve in Trans healthcare, including articles about Russel Reid’s GMC hearing, a matter that is now regarded by much of the community as a witch-hunt against him by other doctors. I don’t have many details of the latest complaint beyond what was in the Guardian article, but it has been confirmed that one of the complainants is Dr Barrett. Yes, the same Dr. Barrett who was involved in the complaint against Russell Reid many years ago.

So with that background, let’s have a look at today’s article. Here’s what he’s detailed the complaints as, and I’ll deal with them point by point with reference to the WPATH Standards of Care (PDF Link).

Commencing hormone treatment in complex cases without referring the patient for a second opinion or before they had undergone counselling

There is no requirement for a second opinion or counseling prior to prescribing hormones, despite the attempt to insinuate that there is. The requirements are persistent gender dysphoria, capacity to give informed consent, being an adult (Kids have different rules) and other medical or mental concerns being “reasonably well-controlled.” (Page 104)

Administering hormone treatment at patients’ first appointments

See the above list of requirements for HRT. There is no reason not to prescribe hormones if the persistent gender dysphoria is well documented. (For example, the patient may already have transitioned, may have seen other doctors before going private or may have been on NHS waiting lists for an extended period of time)

Continue reading at:  http://www.complicity.co.uk/blog/2013/01/batty-torpedoing-trans-healthcare/

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Rhode Island Catholic bishop: Same-sex marriage is ‘immoral’ and a threat to ‘religious freedom’

From Pink News UK:  http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/01/07/rhode-island-catholic-bishop-same-sex-marriage-is-immoral-and-a-threat-to-religious-freedom/

by
7 January 2013,

The leader of Rhode Island’s Roman Catholic Diocese has described same-sex marriage as “immoral and unnecessary.”

Bishop Thomas Tobin released a statement on Monday urging lawmakers to drop legislation to allow gay couples to marry.

According to the Associated Press, the bishop said the Catholic Church rejected the “homosexual lifestyle” and claimed equal marriage posed a threat to religious freedom.

Bishop Tobin also argued that Rhode Island should wait for the US Supreme Court to weigh in on the federal law defining marriage as being between a man and a woman.

He said that if the state must consider equal marriage, it should be placed before voters as a referendum.

Continue reading at:  http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/01/07/rhode-island-catholic-bishop-same-sex-marriage-is-immoral-and-a-threat-to-religious-freedom/

Let’s put ending the religious tax exemption on the ballot.  Isn’t it time the religious fuckwads pay their fair share instead of freeloading off humanity.

End welfare for religion.

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Discharged Gay Service Members to Get Full Separation Pay

From The Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/politics/military/2013/01/07/discharged-gay-service-members-get-full-separation-pay

Under a legal settlement announced today, military personnel who saw their separation pay cut in half because they were discharged for being gay will be compensated with the remainder.

BY Trudy Ring
January 07 2013

Military personnel who had their separation pay cut in half after being discharged for being gay will receive their full pay under a legal settlement announced today.

The settlement comes in Collins v. United States, a class action suit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union and its New Mexico affiliate. It is named for lead plaintiff Richard Collins, who was honorably discharged from the Air Force after being observed kissing his boyfriend but saw his separation pay cut because his discharge was for homosexuality.

“There was absolutely no need to subject these service members to a double dose of discrimination by removing them from the armed forces in the first place, and then denying them this small benefit to ease the transition to civilian life,” said Laura Schauer Ives, managing attorney for the ACLU of New Mexico, in a press release. “This decision represents a long-delayed justice to these veterans.”

The pay reduction was a Defense Department policy and not part of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” law, so it did not change when the law was repealed, ACLU officials noted.

The settlement covers personnel who were discharged on or after November 10, 2004, as far back as it could extend under the applicable statute of limitations. The total amount of pay owed to these service members is about $2.4 million, which “is small by military standards, but is hugely significant in acknowledging their service to their country,” said Joshua Block, staff attorney for the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.advocate.com/politics/military/2013/01/07/discharged-gay-service-members-get-full-separation-pay

See Also:  Daily Kos:   ACLU scores big win for gay and lesbian veterans

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Illinois Marriage Advances: Jan 7 2013 Marriage News Watch

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Virginia Legislators Want to Force Poor Women to Carry Severely Disabled Fetuses to Term Against Their Will

From RH Reality Check:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/01/04/virginia-legislators-want-to-force-poor-women-to-carry-severely-disabled-fetuses

by Robin Marty, Senior Political Reporter
January 7, 2013

Poor women already face great disparities when it comes to accessing any health care, much less reproductive health care. Now, with a new bill being introduced by a Virginia state legislator, they will have to decide whether to desperately find money to access an abortion, or whether to risk their own health by carrying to term and giving birth to a fetus that a doctor has already stated will have little to no meaningful life outside the womb.

Via Laura Bassett at Huffington Post:

State Sen. Thomas A. Garrett (R-Lynchburg) has introduced a bill that would prevent Medicaid from subsidizing abortion services for low-income women in cases “in which a physician certifies … that the fetus would be born with a gross and totally incapacitating physical deformity or mental deficiency.” Women who currently receive Medicaid in Virginia have abortion coverage in cases of rape, incest, severe fetal abnormalities, or when the life of the mother is in danger.

Other anti-choice proposals being offered, such as insurance bans on abortion and contraception, or a bill to ban non-existent “sex or race selection” abortion, are disturbing on their own. Yet it’s the push to make women who use Medicaid into continuing medically-futile pregnancies or pregnancies that will result in a child with severe fetal anomalies that is the most disturbing.

Besides placing women at greater physical risk, the state would also be forcing her to spend overwhelming amounts of resources on a severely disabled baby for as long as it holds on to life, resources that are no doubt already scarce in the first place even if she has no other children and even more so if she is already a mother. Being pregnant and caring for other family members in the best of circumstances is a challenge. Being pregnant, poor, and possibly without another adult partner is even more difficult. There is no money to get a sitter, to rest, to take time off of work to care for a child or to rest if there are pregnancy complications.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/01/04/virginia-legislators-want-to-force-poor-women-to-carry-severely-disabled-fetuses

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Rape Has a Purpose

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soraya-chemaly/syrian-rape-and-chemical-_b_2370638.html


01/05/2013

Warning: This post contains graphic depictions of sexualized violence.

The same small part of me that still wants to believe in faeries wanted to think that I could avoid thinking or writing about rape for at least a few weeks. But, it’s impossible. Not with laws in California that say single women can’t, in effect, be raped and when the night-long gang-rape of a 16-year-old unconscious girl “divides” a community dedicated to its football team. Definitely not when ongoing details about the death of a 23-year-old in Delhi, whose rape to the point of disembowelment and multiple organ failure, are spurring protests all over the world.

No matter where you are in the world, the result of rape — “date rape,” “gang-rape,” “easy rape,” “emergency rape,” “war rape” — is the same: oppression. Women are not free to live without the constant threat of assault and violence or without being treated like objects and property.  When I last checked there were at least four “rape capitals” of the world. You know what that makes the rest of us? “Rape Suburbs.” Girls and women aren’t idiots. On the contrary, we understand perfectly: we’re supposed to “be careful.” Don’t do something we might “regret.”  Stay home.” “So what if it happens, anyway?” We can’t feel any security that our bodily integrity will be respected. Or that our consent matters. We cannot enjoy the confident access and ownership of public space that men do. Our attempts to pursue equality and opportunity are inhibited, not only by actual rape, but by people’s malevolent tolerance for it. Rape is useful, even the rape of boys and men: it sustains a system that rewards physical dominance and sustains male hegemony.

When precisely doesn’t a girl or woman think “she could have been me?” What teenage girl in the United States won’t think a little harder about going to parties? Or even to sleep? When it’s too scary to consider the facts or when it’s easier to align oneself with the dominant and powerful, blame the victim, in the hope of “protection.” Today, more girls, no matter how briefly, will consider being drugged and raped by a self-anointed “Rape Crew” like the one in Steubenville, Ohio. If you missed this past week’s revelations, this rape continues to elicit shock and repugnance. If it weren’t for the doggedness of blogger Alexandra Goddard and the outrage of Anonymous (yes, that Anonymous) this night-long assault of an unconscious girl, literally dragged and periodically violated, urinated on and photographed would have faded into nothingness. All of this happened while up to 50 other girls and boys were present — each deriving specific but different messages about what was happening.  And, THAT’s the point isn’t it?  A warning to girls or the boys who would help them. It’s not just that this happened, and variations of it happen every day, but it’s the idea that it could happen. All over the planet.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soraya-chemaly/syrian-rape-and-chemical-_b_2370638.html

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The Sins Of Notre Dame, And Our Obsession With Football Teams That Win ‘The Right Way’

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/alyssa/2013/01/07/1404341/the-sins-of-old-notre-dame/

By Travis Waldron
on Jan 7, 2013

On August 31, 2010, Lizzy Seeberg, a 19-year-old freshman at St. Mary’s College in South Bend, Indiana, was allegedly sexually assaulted in the room of a football player at the school’s sister college, Notre Dame. On September 10, Lizzy Seeberg committed suicide.

Tonight, Notre Dame will take the field in the BCS National Championship game hoping to win its first national title since 1998. Old Notre Dame’s return to the top of college football has been the story of the season, and we’re sure to hear commentators waxing poetic about how football means so much to Notre Dame and how Notre Dame means so much to football. Head coach Brian Kelly and Rev. John Jenkins, the school’s chancellor, will be hailed for returning the Fighting Irish to the promised land, and for doing so “the right way.” This university has long lived off its mystique, off the idea that it is a more moral place because it could win even more football games if only it would compromise its academic values.

But as was the case at Penn State, site of the most damning scandal in the history of college football, the definition of “right way” falls short when it comes to sexual misconduct. And so tonight, we won’t hear the story of Lizzy Seeberg, the girl who was allegedly victimized by an athlete who was doing things the “right way” on the field and in the classroom and ignored by a program that was doing things the “right way” in its balance of athletics and academics. But when Seeberg’s life was ruined, our deference to and reverence for the “right way” mentality never wavered.

Seeberg’s story hasn’t been ignored by the national media; in fact, Notre Dame’s appearance in the title game has brought it back to life, if begrudgingly so. Still, the focus of the sports media has remained largely on Notre Dame’s improbable rise to back to the top of college football decades after its heightened academic standards supposedly rendered it irrelevant. Editorials and columns have praised Notre Dame for combining academics and athletics in a way few, if any, other schools do. The school stands as a beacon of hope that football programs can “do things the right way” and still win games.

Continue reading at:  http://thinkprogress.org/alyssa/2013/01/07/1404341/the-sins-of-old-notre-dame/

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The Power of Pills: Putting Abortion Back in the Hands of Women Around the World

From RH Reality Check:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/01/04/putting-abortion-back-in-women%E2%80%99s-hands-power-pills

by Leila Hessini, Ipas and Alyson Hyman, Ipas
January 7, 2013

Unwanted pregnancies are a fact of life. Globally, nearly a fourth of all pregnancies are unplanned and 22 percent of pregnancies end in abortion. Women experience unwanted pregnancies because they have forced sex, (worldwide, one in three women are survivors of sexual violence), they don’t have access to contraceptives, or they simply didn’t plan on becoming pregnant.

Women who have unwanted pregnancies should be respected and their rights to choice upheld. However, in many countries, government policies, and societal practices do not uphold women’s right not to continue a pregnancy and women with unwanted pregnancies are forced into motherhood. Certainly this is evident in the United States; just before the new year, the governor of Virginia quietly signed legislation designed to close abortion clinics in the state. These laws are punitive, restricting women’s reproductive autonomy and freedom and creating categories of who can and can’t obtain abortions.

Fortunately for women, pills have changed the landscape of abortion. Abortion with pills, also known as medical abortion (MA), provides a safe, low-cost and easy to use method to terminate pregnancies. In addition to being safe and effective, medical abortion has changed the dynamics of who can provide abortions, where women get them, and who has control over the process. Evidence shows that those closest to women—community health workers and midwives—and women themselves can be trained to use abortion pills to safely terminate a pregnancy, thus giving women back the control of their own bodies. In fact, it was women in Brazil who first discovered the potential of misoprostol (cytotec) to safely end an unwanted pregnancy and who shared this knowledge through their social networks.

In order for women to benefit from the potential of medical abortion, however, they must be active participants in decisions related to where drugs are distributed and for what cost, what information is shared and by whom, and what social and medical support is needed.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/01/04/putting-abortion-back-in-women%E2%80%99s-hands-power-pills

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The Hoax of Entitlement Reform

From Robert Reich:  http://robertreich.org/post/39872465002

By Robert Reich
Sunday, January 6, 2013

It has become accepted economic wisdom, uttered with deadpan certainty by policy pundits and budget scolds on both sides of the aisle, that the only way to get control over America’s looming deficits is to “reform entitlements.”

But the accepted wisdom is wrong.

Start with the statistics Republicans trot out at the slightest provocation — federal budget data showing a huge spike in direct payments to individuals since the start of 2009, shooting up by almost $600 billion, a 32 percent increase.

And Census data showing 49 percent of Americans living in homes where at least one person is collecting a federal benefit – food stamps, unemployment insurance, worker’s compensation, or subsidized housing — up from 44 percent in 2008.

But these expenditures aren’t driving the federal budget deficit in future years. They’re temporary. The reason for the spike is Americans got clobbered in 2008 with the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression. They and their families have needed whatever helping hands they could get.

If anything, America’s safety nets have been too small and shot through with holes. That’s why the number and percentage of Americans in poverty has increased dramatically, including 22 percent of our children.

What about Social Security and Medicare (along with Medicare’s poor step-child, Medicaid)?

Continue reading at:  http://robertreich.org/post/39872465002

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20 Percent of Americans Don’t Believe in God–So Why is Our Congress So Religious?

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/20-percent-americans-dont-believe-god-so-why-our-congress-so-religious

By Alex Kane
January 7, 2013

The new, 113th Congress that was sworn in last week may be more religiously diverse than any other session, but the body as a whole is more committed to religion than the U.S. population. New data analysis released by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life bears this out.

When the new Congress gathered last week in Washington, D.C., a Hindu and a Buddhist were sworn in–a first in U.S. history. Rounding out the religious diversity in the new Congress is Kyrsten Sinema, a representative from Arizona, who is not religious at all (she d oesn’t identify with the terms “non-theist, atheist or nonbeliever”).

But Congress remains more religious than Americans are. As the Pew Forum states, “perhaps the greatest disparity, however, is between the percentage of U.S. adults and the percentage of members of Congress who do not identify with any particular religion. About one-in-five U.S. adults describe themselves as atheist, agnostic or ‘nothing in particular’– a group sometimes collectively called the ‘nones.’”

Those numbers are a striking contrast to the religious beliefs of Congress. The majority of Congress remains Protestant–56 percent, to be exact. 30 percent identify as Catholic, with Mormons, Jews and other religious minorities rounding out the list. Still, the Pew Forum notes that “the proportion of Protestants in Congress has been in gradual decline for decades, and the number in the 113th Congress is lower than the number in the previous Congress (307), even if the difference in percentage terms is slight.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/news-amp-politics/20-percent-americans-dont-believe-god-so-why-our-congress-so-religious

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State of Fear

From Truth Dig:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/state_of_fear_20130107/

By Chris Hedges
Jan 7, 2013

Shannon McLeish of Florida is a 45-year-old married mother of two young children. She is a homeowner, a taxpayer and a safe driver. She votes in every election. She attends a Unitarian Universalist church on Sundays. She is also, like nearly all who have a relationship with the Occupy movement in the United States, being monitored by the federal government. She knows this because when she read FBI documents obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) through the Freedom of Information Act, she was startled to see a redaction that could only be referring to her. McLeish’s story is the story of hundreds of thousands of people—perhaps more—whose lives are being invaded by the state. It is the story of a security and surveillance apparatus—overseen by the executive branch under Barack Obama—that has empowered the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security to silence the voices and obstruct the activity of citizens who question corporate power.

Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the PCJF, said in a written statement about the released files: “This production [of information], which we believe is just the tip of the iceberg, is a window into the nationwide scope of the FBI’s surveillance, monitoring, and reporting on peaceful protesters organizing with the Occupy movement. These documents show that the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are treating protests against the corporate and banking structure of America as potential criminal and terrorist activity. These documents also show these federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”

The FBI documents are not only a chilling example of how widespread this surveillance and obstruction has become, they are an explicit warning by the security services to all who consider dissent. Anyone who defies corporate power, even if he or she is nonviolent and acting within constitutional rights, is a suspect. These documents are part of the plan to make us fearful, compliant and disempowered. They mark, I suspect, a government attempt to end peaceful mass protests by responding with repression to the grievances of Americans. When the corporate-financed group FreedomWorks bused in goons to disrupt Democratic candidates’ town hall meetings about the federal health care legislation in August 2009, Eric Zuesse of the Business Insider notes, “there was no FBI surveillance of those corporate-organized disruptions of legitimate democratic processes. There also were no subsequent FreedomWorks applications for Freedom of Information Act releases of FBI files regarding such surveillance being used against them—because there was no such FBI campaign against them.”

The combination of intimidation tactics by right-wing fringe groups, which speak in the language of violence and hate, with the state’s massive intrusion into the personal affairs of the citizen is corporate fascism. And we are much farther down that road than many of us care to admit.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/state_of_fear_20130107/

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Who Should Pay for the Costs of Climate Change?

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/01/07-5

Increasingly frequent disasters like Hurricane Sandy and Typhoon Bopha raise the question of global sharing

Published on Monday, January 7, 2013 by On The Commons

Who should pay the costs of climate disasters? In light of the current debate in the United States about federal assistance to Hurricane Sandy victims and the recent debate at the recent Doha Climate Conference about international assistance for climate change victims, that has become an increasingly pressing question for humankind.

A few weeks after Sandy, Typhoon Bopha struck the Philippines, destroying 70,000 homes according to U.S. AID. This ambulance was knocked over by the sheer strength of the storm. (Photo: Sonny M. Day via Flickr.com)The frequency and cost of natural disasters is rapidly increasing. Since the 1980s the number of billion dollar natural disasters on average each year in the United States has tripled from two to six. In 2011 there were 14 separate $1 billion plus weather events and losses topped $60 billion. This year Hurricane Sandy alone will exceed that total.

As costs have exceeded the ability of insurance companies, individual homeowners, businesses and communities to pay, some states have created statewide pooled risk funds. After Hurricane Andrew in 1992, for example, Florida created the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund.

An increasing federalization of disaster relief has been occurring since the 1988 passage of the Stafford Act, which required Washington to assume at least 75 percent of the costs of federally declared disasters. Predictably, the number of such declarations has increased dramatically, from 53 in 1992 under George H.W. Bush to 110 in 1999 under Bill Clinton, to 143 in 2008 under George W. Bush. In 2011 President Obama set a record by declaring federal disasters 242 times.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/01/07-5

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Environmentalists urge Obama to block Keystone XL and act on climate change

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/07/obama-administration-climate-change

After a strategy of ‘climate silence’ during president’s first term, activist groups signal intent to be more vocal in next four years

, US environment correspondent
guardian.co.uk, Monday 7 January 2013

More than 70 environmental groups called on Barack Obama to take the lead on climate change on Monday, urging him to shut down ageing power plants and block a controversial tar sands pipeline project.

In an open letter (PDF), environmental groups reminded Obama of his promise to act on climate change in his second term – and then laid out three specific actions including shutting down the Keystone XL pipeline.

About 50 protesters tried to occupy the Houston offices of TransCanada Corp, the company building the pipeline, on Monday. Two were reportedly arrested.

The letter said that at the very least, Obama should lead the public debate on how to protect American cities and coastlines from climate change. “Raise your voice,” the letter said. “Lead the public discussion of what we need to do as a nation to both prepare for the changes in climate that are no longer avoidable and avoid changes in climate that are unacceptable. “

The letter, though largely positive in tone, represents a change of strategy for environmental groups at the start of Obama’s second term.

After mixed results in Obama’s first four years, environmental groups appear to have come to the conclusion they need to be more vocal about demanding action from the White House, to keep climate change from slipping off the president’s second term agenda.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/07/obama-administration-climate-change

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