Sundance film takes aim at US gender inequality

From Raw Story:

By Agence France-Presse
Saturday, January 29th, 2011

PARK CITY, Utah — A documentary at this year’s Sundance film festival takes aim at gender inequality in the United States and the distorted image of women in the media.

“Miss Representation,” the directorial debut of actress Jennifer Siebel Newsom, peers through the glass ceiling with a wide range of women, including political and media figures who would seem to have broken through it.

The film is in competition at the Sundance independent film festival here in the US state of Utah, with prizes to be announced later on Saturday.

It features dozens of interviews with American women from all walks of life — including Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice — who discuss the gender barriers they have faced and ways to lift them.

“Some of them were actually frightened to say something, they were afraid of losing their job. That shows this fear that we have in America, the fear we women have of speaking our mind,” Newsom told AFP.

“Hopefully I’m encouraging other women and men to have a voice and stand up for women’s rights, which are human rights,” she added.

The film includes several statistics showing that gender inequality is worse in the United States than in much of the rest of the world.

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Capital of conservatism

From Socialist Worker:

Democrats are as responsible as Republicans for the right-wing climate in Washington.

January 26, 2011

THE DOGMAS and delusions of conservatives and Corporate America are still dominating national politics–and their most effective advocate has turned out to be a Democratic president.

That’s the conclusion we drew from President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address. The man who not long ago was derided as a “socialist” by the right wants to “make America the best place on Earth to do business” and to work with Republicans to shrink the deficit with a five-year freeze on federal spending–non-security-related spending, that is.

Are we exaggerating? After all, Obama served up his proposals with appeals to tolerance and rhetoric about helping those in need. He said that the real measure of the success of the economy wasn’t the stock market but “the success of our people.”

Plus, sitting in the audience in Congress was the new Republican majority in the House–their snarling about “job killing” and “anti-business” policies temporarily quieted by the spotlight on Obama’s speech and the calls for more “civility” following the Arizona shootings.

Compared to the union-hating, immigrant-bashing, budget-slashing Republicans, Obama can’t help but seem progressive and reasonable. And that’s been his strongest appeal for the millions of people who voted for him two years ago and are disappointed today–at least he’s not them.

The media recap of the State of the Union speech will portray the national “debate” on an incredibly narrow spectrum, with Obama and the Democrats as the left-most extreme and the Republicans as the right. But this misses the fact that Democrats and Republicans agree on so much more than they disagree–and that both parties have dragged the debate to the right.

In fact, Obama’s speech was filled with the same tired phrases heard over and over from Republicans and Democrats alike: “[T]he challenges we face are bigger than party.” “Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation.” “Every day, families sacrifice to live within their means. They deserve a government that does the same.” “[T]he American people deserve to know that special interests aren’t larding up legislation with pet projects.” “[L]et us speak with one voice in reaffirming that our nation is united in support of our troops and their families.”

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Some Snarky Music for a Cynical Saturday

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Conversations with History: Noam Chomsky

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Egypt tense after bloody protests

It is unclear in the American press if there is a revolution happening in Egypt or simply massive demonstrations.

So much pressure has been put upon the poor, exploiting them mercilessly in order to enrich the small elites at the top that a pressure cooker situation has been created.

The dictators will be the first to face revolutions while ostensibly democratic nations including those on the verge of bankruptcy may continue if the governments take much needed actions to restore the economic balance.

From Al Jazeera:

January 29, 2011

A tense calm has descended on the Egyptian capital, Cairo, following a night of deadly protests, but anger against Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year-old presidency is continuing to simmer.

Al Jazeera’s Jane Dutton, reporting from Cairo, said the normally bustling city looked more like a warzone on Saturday morning.

Cities across Egypt witnessed unprecedented protests on Friday, with tens of thousands of protesters taking to the streets after noon prayers to vent their anger against Mubarak. The president went on air at midnight, announcing that he was dismissing his government. His concession, however, did little to douse public anger.

Dutton said the number of the people on the streets “increased after president Hosni Mubarak’s speech shortly after midnight”.

Regarding the situation in Cairo on Saturday morning, she said “there is broken glass everywhere … a lot of the burnt out shells of the police cars have been removed but you are aware that there were hours and hours of skirmishes on the streets of the capital city [last night]”.

Military vehicles have been seen patrolling the streets of the capital.

The ruling National Democratic Party’s headquarters in the capital is still ablaze, more than 12 hours after it was set alight by protesters.

The Egyptian army says that it has been able to secure the neighbouring museum of antiquities from the threat of fire and looting, averting the possible loss of thousands of priceless artefacts.

Armoured personnel carriers remain stationed around the British and US embassies, as well as at the state television station.

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Ronald Reagan’s 30-Year Time Bombs

From Consortium News:

The time element of “30 years” keeps slipping into American official reports and news stories about the origins of crises – the latest in “The Financial Crisis Inquiry Report” – but rarely is the relevance of the three-decade span explained, and there is a reason.

By Robert Parry
January 28, 2011

The failure to close the circle in saying who started the nation off on the path toward these disasters is because nearly everyone shies away from blaming Ronald Reagan for almost anything.

The overpowering consensus in Washington is that it’s political suicide to criticize the 40th president of the United States, whose centennial birthday on Feb. 6 will be celebrated elaborately.

It’s much safer to behave like MSNBC’s “Hardball” host Chris Matthews and simply accept that Reagan was “one of the all-time greats.”

But the truth is that Reagan’s current historical reputation rests more on the effectiveness of the Republican propaganda machine – and the timidity of many Democrats and media personalities – than on his actual record of accomplishments.

Indeed, many of today’s worst national and international problems can be traced to misjudgments and malfeasance from the Reagan years – from the swelling national debt to out-of-control banks, from the decline of the U.S. middle class to the inaction on energy independence, from the rise of Islamic fundamentalism to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

All of these disasters are part of the Reagan Legacy. Yet, possibly the most insidious residue from the Reagan Years was the concept of manipulating information – what some Reagan officials liked to call “perception management” – as a means of societal control.

In that endeavor, Reagan’s team took aim at two key entities – the CIA’s analytical division and the Washington press corps – with the realization that if the information produced and disseminated by those two groups could be controlled then the insider community of Washington and the broader American public could be managed.

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Marriage Equality Would Have Greater Positive Impact On My Life than ENDA

Tina and I have been together for ten years now, even though we didn’t start living together until 2002.  We talked on the phone for hours everyday during the first year we were together.

It took time to develop trust and overcome our own fears as we had both been badly hurt in other relationships.

Now we are two old lesbians, living in suburbia.  She is retired.  I work McJobs.

Now some would think it selfish on my part to prioritize marriage equality above ENDA.

I read ENDA Blog and others that are currently filled with a lot of anger towards the Gay and Lesbian Communities for their failure to focus on the issues of the Transgender Communities.

Most of the angry rants from the transgender Community always seem to omit the fact they came late to the party.  The modern Gay and Lesbian Movement is over 40 years old.  The movement to graft a “T” on the end is at best 20.

I am apathetic at best regarding so much of the Transgender Movement and at times I am down right hostile towards it.

I’ll be honest.  I despise the entire Virginia Prince based ideology of Transgender Inc and its hegemonic erasure  of post-transsexual women and men.  As a whole this movement seems manipulative and cultish.

I often feel that people I otherwise like are caught up in a cult like Scientology or Mormonism or something.  Talking with them is weird and the mind games are even weirder.

But back to marriage.  I think part of the disregard of the struggle for marriage equality is based in heterosexual privilege, as so many transgender people are either still in a marriage that was entered into as a heterosexual man and woman, or have used the birth certificate game.  Either way this leads to a lack of empathy towards gay and lesbian folks and their desire for the rights one can only obtain through marriage.

Those who are heterosexual after SRS become really upset when those of us who are lesbian or gay after SRS expect quid pro quo when it comes to our supporting their marriages.  That too is heterosexual privilege.

Sometimes this makes it seem as though much of the “Transgender Community” is made up of straight folks, which makes it feel sort of sketchy when Transgender Inc attacks Gays and Lesbians for acting in their own self interests.

The personal is political cuts both ways.  Over the years I have seen little support of the Gay and Lesbian Movement on the part of those involved in Transgender Inc.

That is if you subtract those of us who are post-transsexual lesbians and gay men.  And you really do have to subtract those of us who do not “identify as transgender” from the “Transgender Community”.

But back to those of us who have been part of the Gay and Lesbian world for the last 40 years.

We have watched our gay brothers die  in large numbers and have seen their long time partners devastated when the families swoop in like vultures and rip apart households.

I’ve seen elderly gay and lesbian couples who have been together 40-50 years and more separated because to the state they are legal strangers, while straight couples in a show of heterosexual privilege get honored by announcements of their having been married for so many years.

Wanting marriage equality isn’t elitist.

Saying we can get those same protections via legal documents is the elitist position when the difference in price between numerous legal documents and a marriage license can be  thousands of dollars.

But over and above that.

The expectations being place on ENDA seem  divorced from the reality of the present day working world.  We have a 17% real unemployment level.  I saw a statistic the other day that implied the majority of the American Work Force is either unemployed, part-time or employed at a level far below their education and experience.

You can thank the disaster started by Nixon and worsened by every President since with the possible exception of Jimmy Carter, who actually tried to get us on a saner path energy wise.

ENDA doesn’t have a chance on a national basis with the current House balance in the hands of the Republi-Nazis.

Neither does Marriage Equality but both these issues can be fought on a state by state basis and the struggle for Marriage Equality can also be fought in the courts.

At the same time it would probably aid the passage of a transgender inclusive ENDA were those in Transgender Inc to actually define in real language instead of post-modern psychobabble exactly who will be covered and the expectations on the part of both employers and potential employees.