Friday Night Fun and Culture

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Hundreds of Yellowstone buffalo face slaughter

Fuck the Montana Cattle Industry.  I’m tired of subsidizing corporate farming with welfare payments of virtually free grazing on federal lands.  Let McDonald’s charge an extra fifty cents per burger instead of raping the land and exterminating entire species.

From The Guardian UK:

Nearly 400 wild buffalo from Yellowstone national park in Montana face cull amid fears of disease outbreak

Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent, Friday 4 February 2011

Hundreds of buffalo from America’s last great remaining wild herd could be sent for slaughter after being driven from Yellowstone national park by high snow and harsh temperatures, conservationists warned today.

Nearly 400 buffalo have been captured and penned on the northern boundaries of the park after wandering in search of food during an unusually severe winter.

Authorities were testing the animals for exposure to brucellosis, a disease that can cause pregnant cattle to abort. Those that test positive will be sent for slaughter under a controversial programme intended to protect Montana‘s cattle industry.

“It’s a nightmare that is going on here,” said Jeff Welsch, a spokesman for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. “One third of the herd was slaughtered under the same scenario in the winter of 2007-2008, and now we are going back to a similar situation.”

News reports said today 53 of the 161 buffalo tested so far were positive for brucellosis.

Meanwhile, conservation groups were seeking court injunctions to stop the authorities from shipping the corralled animals to a slaughterhouse on Monday.

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The Koch Brothers’ Vast Right-Wing Media Conspiracy

From Mother Jones Magazine:

Watched any conservative programs lately? Chances are, you’ve seen an oil-funded pundit.

— By Kate Sheppard

Fri Feb. 4, 2011 3:00 AM PST

Last June, Glenn Beck paused in the middle of a rant about the economy and climate on his television show for an important, if rather unexpected, aside. “I want to thank Charles Koch for this information,” he said. Beck’s statement was totally without context, thrown in amid jabs at Al Gore and endorsements of the free market. Months later, it came to light that he recently had been a guest of honor at a semiannual confab sponsored by fossil-fuel billionaire Charles Koch and his brother, David, an event the pair hosts to connect conservative think tanks, politicos, and media types like Beck.

Koch Industries, a Kansas-based company founded in 1940 by father Fred Koch, is the second largest privately held company in America. Charles and David Koch are tied as the fifth wealthiest people in the nation, worth a combined $43 billion. Their money comes through a variety of business interests—ranching, mining, oil refining, and production of paper products, fertilizer, and chemicals. It would be an understatement to say that they have much at stake when it comes to efforts to cut climate-changing emissions.

Indeed, the brothers have spent $31.3 million since 2005 on organizations that deny or downplay climate change, according to a forthcoming report from Greenpeace that updates its report on Koch’s climate denial work released last year. But it’s the web of media influence the Kochs have created that perhaps accounts best for their power—particularly when it comes to sowing doubt about climate change.

Koch Industries describes its semiannual shindigs, which began in 2003, as an “opportunity for attendees and presenters to discuss ways of preserving and advancing economic freedom in the United States and to share ideas about the free-market principles that have made our country great.” The guest list for last weekend’s meeting is still under wraps, but the June 2010 event in Aspen drew a who’s who of conservative media stars; Besides Beck, there were Philip Anschutz, owner of the Examiner newspapers and the Weekly Standard; Charles Krauthammer, syndicated columnist and Weekly Standard contributor; Stephen Moore, Wall Street Journal editorial board member; and Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor for The National Review.

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Astrology is a science, court rules

This is why I do not take the claims of Degrees in Alternative Medicine from “Universities” in India seriously.  Particularly mail order degrees.

From The Telegraph UK:

India: Astrology, the study of interplanetary alignments as the explanation for everything, is a credible science, an Indian court has ruled.

By Dean Nelson, New Delhi

3:57PM GMT 04 Feb 2011

The judgment will be met with relief in India, where engagements are decided, wedding and election dates are chosen on the basis of detailed charts drawn up by revered astrologers. A day deemed “auspicious” by an astrologer can lead to thousands of weddings and traffic gridlock.

For years it has been dismissed by the world’s scientists, but according to the Bombay High Court astrologers are officially their colleagues.

The ruling was made in a case brought by a campaign group, Janhit Manch, which sought a ruling against practitioners of “tantric” black magic and “fake” astrologers. Their “work” should be prohibited by India’s Drugs and Medical Remedies Act (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954 which bans false claims in advertisements.

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You Treat Women Like That?

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Headlines You Will neither See nor Hear This Weekend

We live in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, host of this year’s annual over-hyped sports spectacle known as “The Super Bowl”.

Jerry Jones who recently extorted a new stadium out of the city of Arlington by running a con game of hype and bullshit about how much money this new stadium (Referred to as Jerry World by cynics like me) would bring to the region.

Well Jerry wasn’t satisfied with selling tickets to seats in the stadium because that would not set records and as we know many Texas men have to over compensate for a lack of natural endowments by bragging about how everything here is bigger and better than any place else.  Therefore Jerry started selling tickets to stand inside the stadium and watch the games on TV.  But even then he wouldn’t be able to pack enough bodies of hype buying morons into the actual building to top the numbers that can fit into the Rose Bowl in  Pasadena, California.  As a result Jerry decided to sell tickets, at $200 per ticket, to watch the game on televisions while standing in the parking lot.

Following a Sunday with temperatures in the 70s F a storm front moved in.  Monday, the temperatures fell dramatically and we had a storm that managed to drop both snow and freezing rain leaving the metroplex one large skating rink.

Then this morning we awoke to an overnight snow fall of six to eight inches, which is enough snow to pretty much shut down D/FW.  Especially since the temperatures haven’t been above freezing all week  and indeed have barely climbed in to the 20s F.

Now Texas may think it is bigger, better and badder than any place around, but as climate change deniers, they think infrastructure preparations to deal with the new climate extremes, like actually getting snow that doesn’t melt the next day, are for liberal wusses.  They also can’t drive for shit in rain much less ice and snow, so we have been treated to a week of videos of some truly spectacular crashes and automotive stupidity.

I don’t mean to make light of people getting injured as people have been injured in those accidents as well as those injured yesterday by falling ice at the stadium. (see 5 Injured, 1 Critically by Ice Falling From Cowboy’s Stadium.)

Rather than making fun of people getting injured because of this series of storms I think it is more appropriate to call attention to the hubris of the corporate rah-rahs and climate change denying public officials.  Perhaps instead of building Taj Mahal Stadiums for rich corporations to bleed the public, we should focus our spending on infra structure improvements needed to deal with the looming disaster brought about by the over usage of fossil fuels and the subsequent increase in the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

No matter how much the paid shills of the oil industry like Joe Barton and other elected representatives of the oil industry obfuscate and lie regarding climate change brought on by global warming Mother Nature (Gaia) has a way of asserting reality.

Here are some headlines I doubt we will see, given some “religious” leaders past pontifications and how football is treated as a religion here in Texas as well as else where.

Arctic Weather Shows God Hates______ ! (Football, Jerry Jones, Texas sized hubris.)

Dallas/Fort Worth decide to Invest in Infra Structure

Texas Politicians Repent Regarding Past Positions of Climate Change Denial

Al Gore was Right about Climate Change

Sea Shepherd: Narrow Escape for the Gojira

It appears the Japanese have decided to make a habit out of ramming Sea Shepherd’s fast pursuit boats.  Last year they deliberately rammed and sank the Ady Gil, which was out of fuel and dead in the water and yesterday they tried to sink the Gojira, Sea Shepherd’s replacement for the Ady Gil.

Sea Shepherd News

Narrow Escape for the Gojira

Friday, February 04, 2011

The Yushin Maru No. 3 deliberately turned into Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s ship the Gojira today in an attempt to ram and destroy the fast multi hulled vessel skippered by Captain Locky MacLean.

“It was like staring death in the face when that steel hull suddenly turned into us. We just narrowly avoided being cut in half,” said Captain MacLean.

Both vessels were on a parallel course, with the Yushin Maru No. 3 on the starboard side of the Gojira. Suddenly the Yushin Maru No. 3 made a hard turn to their port in an attempt to disable the Gojira.

Captain MacLean saw this in time to hit the throttle, effectively avoiding collision with the Yushin Maru No. 3 with the stern of the Gojira by a mere 10 feet.

Delta boat operator Chad Halstead narrowly avoided being injured when one of the whalers threw a bamboo spear at the boat crew. Sea Shepherd crew recovered a few of these potentially lethal bamboo spears.

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Watch: ‘Terrorists’ kidnap Ronald McDonald statue in Helsinki

From Raw Story:

By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

HELSINKI — A group calling itself the Food Liberation Army has claimed responsibility for “kidnapping” a statue of the McDonald’s food chain mascot Ronald McDonald and has threatened to “execute” the figure if their demands are not met.

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Groundbreaking Study Finds Pervasive Discrimination Against Transgender People

A new study reveals pervasive discrimination against transgender and gender-nonconforming people in a variety of fields, including education, employment, housing, health care, and more.

Minneapolis, MN (Vocus/PRWEB) February 04, 2011

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) today released a comprehensive new report, “Injustice at Every Turn,” revealing the depth of discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming people in a wide range of areas, including education, health care, employment, and housing. The study, based on the results from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS), was based on responses from over 6,450 participants. The NTDS is the first large-scale national study of discrimination against transgender and gender non-conforming Americans, and paints a more complete picture than any prior research to date.

Among the key findings from “Injustice at Every Turn”:

● Respondents were nearly four times more likely to live in extreme poverty, with household income of less than $10,000.
● Respondents were twice as likely to be unemployed compared to the population as a whole. Half of those surveyed reported experiencing harassment or other mistreatment in the workplace, and one in four were fired because of their gender identity or expression.
● While discrimination was pervasive for the entire sample, it was particularly pronounced for people of color. African-American transgender respondents fared far worse than all others in many areas studied.
● Housing discrimination was also common. 19% reported being refused a home or apartment and 11% reported being evicted because of their gender identity or expression. One in five respondents experienced homelessness because of their gender identity or expression.
● An astonishing 41% of respondents reported attempting suicide, compared to only 1.6% of the general population.
● Discrimination in health care and poor health outcomes were frequently experienced by respondents. 19% reported being refused care due to bias against transgender or gender-nonconforming people, with this figure even higher for respondents of color. Respondents also had over four times the national average of HIV infection.
● Harassment by law enforcement was reported by 22% of respondents and nearly half were uncomfortable seeking police assistance.
● Despite the hardships they often face, transgender and gender non-conforming persons persevere. Over 78% reported feeling more comfortable at work and their performance improving after transitioning, despite the same levels of harassment in the workplace.

Said Rea Carey, Executive Director of the Task Force: “By shedding light on the discrimination that transgender Americans face, this study poses a challenge to us all. No one should be out of a job, living in poverty, or faced with sub-par health care simply because of their gender identity or expression. The scope of the problem is clear, and now we must come together to solve it.”

Said Mara Keisling, Executive Director of NCTE: “Reading these results is heartbreaking on a personal level—each of these facts and figures represents pain and hardship endured by real people, every single day. This survey is a call to the conscience of every American who believes that everyone has the right to a fair chance to work hard, to have a roof overhead, and to support a family. Equality, not discrimination, is the ideal that Americans believe in, have fought for, and need to apply here.”

A press conference for the NTDS report, “Injustice at Every Turn,” will be held the morning of February 4, at the annual Creating Change conference, held this year at the Hilton Minneapolis. A teleconference will be held later in the day for those unable to attend in person. For more information or to RSVP, contact Nathan Tabak at nathan(at)rennacommunications(dot)com.

Mara Keisling, Rea Carey, Task Force Transgender Civil Rights Project Director Lisa Mottet, and several transgender individuals willing to speak about their personal experiences with discrimination will be available for interview in Minneapolis. The availability will be Feb. 4 at the Task Force’s annual Creating Change conference, held at the Hilton Minneapolis.

The transgender individuals who will be telling their stories include:

Shane Morgan, founder and chair of TransOhio and an Ohio resident for 13 years. He can often can be found facilitating transgender support groups in Central Ohio and speaking at conferences around the nation. Shane is a member of Stonewall Columbus, Equality Ohio and the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE).

Ja’briel Walthour, a 34-year-old African-American transgender woman who lives and works outside of Savannah, GA.

Michelle Enfield, a Native American transgender woman who lives and works in Los Angeles, CA and has experienced much discrimination and faced tremendous challenges as a transgender person. She is now back in school and works as a Prevention Training Specialist at Red Circle Project in Los Angeles, a Native-American HIV prevention organization. She sits on the LA HIV Prevention and Planning Council.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force builds the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all.

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) is a non-profit, social justice organization dedicated to advancing the equality of transgender people through advocacy, collaboration and empowerment. NCTE was founded in 2003 by transgender activists who saw the urgent need for a consistent voice in Washington DC. Our work focuses on federal policy, federal legislation and other issues of national significance that impact the lives of transgender people and our families. We provide technical assistance to policymakers, give input on new and existing policies, and create resources to inform transgender people of their rights and the ways in which federal policies and laws affect them. Our work is devoted to ending discrimination and violence against transgender people through education and advocacy.

For more information or additional materials, contact:
Cathy Renna, 917-757-6123, cathy(at)rennacommunications(dot)com

# # #

Contact Information
Cathy Renna
Renna Communications
Nathan Tabak
Renna Communications

Sign the Petition! Working People, Especially LGBT/T People Need Social Security

Hands Off Social Security
Dear Suzan,

Hands Off Social Security

Just thinking about it makes me angry.

Right now Congress is poised to attack Social Security in a so-called effort to reduce the deficit. The truth is, Social Security hasn’t contributed one penny to the deficit — Social Security has a $2.6 TRILLION surplus!

Social Security is an essential part of everyone’s financial security. But for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who are underemployed, disabled, over 65 or living on the brink of poverty, Social Security is more than a safety net … it can be lifesaving.

The LGBT and progressive communities won’t sit idly by. We’re taking action! We need you with us to make sure Social Security and the most vulnerable among us aren’t sacrificed to some delusional scheme.

Sign our “Hands Off Social Security!” petition and tell your senators to keep Social Security’s promise. Then tell five friends to do the same.

Right now, the Task Force and more than 2,000 activists are in Minneapolis for our annual Creating Change Conference. All of us are signing our postcard petitions right now — join us by signing the online petition.

Social Security is based on ONE simple promise: If you pay into the system, you’re guaranteed benefits when you need them. Nearly all Americans will depend on Social Security at some point. Because we don’t have the employment protection we deserve and we can’t get married in the eyes of the federal government, LGBT people have less income when they retire and have to rely on Social Security even more than straight people. Threats to slash benefits, raise the retirement age and renew the push for privatizing Social Security will hurt those who need it most — retirees, disabled workers and those who have lost a loved one.

Please sign the petition by Thursday, February 10
and tell five friends to do the same.
The Task Force will print out and hand-deliver your petition to your senators.

Together, we can build our power and create the change all of us deserve.

Rea Carey Sincerely,
Rea Carey signature
Rea Carey, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge. The Task Force is a 501(c)(3) corporation incorporated in Washington, D.C. Contributions to the Task Force are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law. ©  2010 National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. 1325 Massachusetts Ave NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20005. Phone 202.393.5177. Fax 202.393.2241. TTY 202.393.2284.

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
1325 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC 20005

Spread the word: “Hands Off Social Security!”

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The false promise of “Drill, Baby, Drill”

From Climate Progress:

Daniel J. Weiss

February 3, 2011

The recent upheaval in Egypt led to a spike in oil prices due to fears about Middle Eastern oil production and transportation. In response to this recent price hike, Big Oil and its congressional allies predictably amplified their demand to “drill, baby, drill.”

This short-sighted reflexive slogan will not save families money at the pump nor make America more secure. When, knee-jerk responses become policy, we place a higher burden on working families, sustain dangerous or unstable regimes, and risk disasters—like the BP blow out—which threaten public health and the livelihoods of thousands. There are other real solutions that reduce consumption and would make both a short- and long-term difference in prices while reducing oil use, saving families money, and enhancing our national security.

Think Progress noted that allies of big oil “exploit[ed the] Egyptian uprising to shill for more domestic oil drilling.”  This began after oil prices climbed nearly $7 per barrel between January 27 and 31 because of fears about the security of the 2.5 percent of world oil transported through Egypt.

Yet more drilling would provide zero relief from high oil and gasoline prices now, and make a scant difference in 10 years. The Energy Information Administration noted that the “long lead times from discovery to production limit the increase in production, particularly offshore.” This means that an increase in U.S. oil production will make little or no difference in the world oil price or what Americans pay at the gas pump.

Ken Green, resident scholar with the conservative American Enterprise Institute, has explained that crude oil is a global commodity whose price will be unaffected by new U.S. production. Greenwire reported that:

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Where Planned Parenthood ‘Stingers’ Get Their Dough

From Alternet:

By Adele M. Stan | AlterNet
Posted on Thursday, February 3, 2011

On a conference call with bloggers convened by Media Matters for America with Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards and Vice President Stewart Schear, i got a little lead into where Lila Rose, who leads the right-wing sting group Live Action, gets some of her funding. Quite a rogue’s gallery, it would seem.

Rose, you’ll recall, has been going “undercover” to Planned Parenthood clinics for years, often posing as an underage client, and taking video with a concealed camera. Her avowed purpose is to put Planned Parenthood out of business. This week, Rose made news when a video gleaned from a New Jersey Planned Parenthood clinic revealed an employee advising a Live Action operative, posing as a pimp, on how to bend the rules for under-age sex-workers should they seek to have an abortion. The employee was promptly fired by Planned Parenthood. A Live Action video released days later of an interaction in a Virginia Planned Parenthood clinic revealed an employee acting appropriately, despite Live Action’s claims to the contrary.

In response to my question about Live Action’s funding, Schear said that, Lila Rose’s anti-choice activism began with a grant from Morton Blackwell’s Leadership Institute, which has been training young right-wingers for leadership roles for more than 30 years. The grant funded Rose’s newspaper, The Advocate, which she still publishes. I recently attended one of the Institute’s breakfast meetings with news-makers; the speaker was Tim Phillips, president of the Americans for Prosperity Foundation, the astroturf group founded and chaired by David Koch. Phillips, you see, is a graduate of the Institute, as are many right-wing luminaries.

More recently, Rose has gained the support of the Gerard Health Foundation, which supports anti-choice groups, many of them Catholic. In 2008, Rose won one of the foundation’s coveted “Life Prizes“. That year, a total of $600,000 was divided between seven recipients. The foundation is funded by the trust of Raymond Ruddy, a former executive with Touche Ross and Maximus, on whose  board of Maximus he still sits. Maximus describes itself as providing operational services to the U.S. government, and foreign governments. (Isn’t government bad, bad, bad? Aren’t foreigners bad, bad, bad? Guess not when you’re making big bucks off of them.)

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Bibical Capitalism: The Religious Right’s War on Progressive Economic Policy

From Talk 2 Action:

Rachel Tabachnick

Tue Feb 01, 2011

Tea Party ideology is not new but taps into decades of Religious Right instruction on “Biblical Capitalism.”

The second annual PA Progressive Summit 2011 was held in Pittsburgh on January 22 and 23. I again gave a presentation on “Biblical Capitalism” or the belief that unregulated capitalism is biblically mandated. The Religious Right is well known for its regressive social activism, but less publicized is the role it has played in the war against progressive economic policy, labor unions, the regulatory structure and social safety net. The sacralizing of laissez-faire capitalism predates the Tea Party movement and has been a major theme of fundamentalist textbooks for more than three decades.  Over the next two weeks I will be posting several additional articles providing links to material included in my presentation as well as other resources on this topic.

Hundreds of progressive leaders from around Pennsylvania gathered to participate in the conference sponsored by Keystone Progress, Service Employees International Union, Alliance for American Manufacturing, Democracy for America, Pennsylvania State Education Association, and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776.

For those who are visiting the site for the first time, welcome to! Following is the first installment of the overview of my presentation at the summit. Note that you can search for articles which include specific words or names by using the “TTA site search engine” in the upper right corner.  I would recommend that search function as opposed to the second box titled “Find Stories by Topic,” since each Talk2action article can only be listed under one topic.

A summary of my presentation from 2010 can be accessed at “Biblical Capitalism – The Sacralizing of Political and Economic Issues” and includes numerous links and resources.

An excellent resource on economic justice and documentation of anti-regulatory and anti-union history is The Public Eye of Political Research Associates. The chart included in the presentation showing the anti-union think tank recipients of over 170 millions dollars and the source of this money (including 63 million from foundations which have been controlled by Richard Mellon Scaife) can be downloaded at The Public Eye

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Food costs at record high as U.N. warns of volatile era

From Talking Points Memo:

Svetlana Kovalyova and John Mair
Reuters US Online Report World News

Feb 03, 2011 14:43 EST

ANILA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Record high global food prices showed no sign of relenting following a rash of catastrophic weather, highlighted by a major U.S. snowstorm and a cyclone in Australia, which could put yet more pressure on prices and spark further unrest around the world.

The closely watched U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization Food Price Index on Thursday touched its highest level since records began in 1990.

The index rose for the seventh month in a row to 231 in January, topping the peak of 224.1 in June 2008, when the world was last gripped in a food crisis.

“These high prices are likely to persist in the months to come,” FAO economist and grains expert Abdolreza Abbassian said in a statement.

Surging food prices have helped fuel the discontent that toppled Tunisia’s president in January and that has spilled over to Egypt and Jordan, raising expectations other countries in the region would secure grain stocks to reassure their populations.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick urged global leaders to “put food first” and wake up to the need to curb price volatility.

“We are going to be facing a broader trend of increasing commodity prices, including food commodity prices,” he told Reuters in an interview.

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