Activists Occupy GOP Headquarters in Madison

From Firedoglake:

By: David Dayen

Thursday February 24, 2011

MADISON, WI (FDL) – Members of a disability rights group have occupied the Wisconsin Republican Party headquarters in Madison, and vow to stay until Governor Scott Walker takes out the Medicaid provisions in the budget repair bill. The news of the occupation was met with thunderous cheers at a noontime rally in the Capital Rotunda, which featured Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and a large contingent of firefighters from around the state.

ADAPT, the nationwide disability rights group, took over the headquarters to protest the portion of the budget repair bill that switches authority over Medicaid and BadgerCare over to the Department of Health Services. Governor Walker appointed Dennis Smith to run the Department of Health Services, a senior fellow from the Heritage Foundation who has repeatedly argued that states should drop Medicaid altogether. Under the budget repair bill, Smith would have near-unilateral authority to carry that out if he chose. Jonathan Cohn has written extensively about the Medicaid changes in the budget repair bill.

“We are asking the GOP to intervene,” said Jason Glozier with ADAPT, one of the organizers of the occupation. “The changes to Medicaid Assistance have been ignored in this bill. People’s lives are at stake.” Glozier believes that if medical assistance for the disabled is underfunded or unfunded, people will lose jobs and many disabled Wisconsinites would be drastically affected.

Glozier and ADAPT believe that transferring nursing home funding to community-based services funding would save Wisconsin $383 million. “This Governor favors nursing home incarcerations to community services,” Glozier said. “It’s not about the budget, it’s about cutting services.”

There are about 30-40 members of ADAPT in the building and the main rooms on the first floor. Many of them are part of the disabled community. Members of the United Steelworkers and other protesters began to filter in to join them as they heard about the occupation.

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Dirty air triggers more heart attacks than cocaine

Maybe we should make polluting the air illegal and send polluters to prison instead of giving them a minor fine.

From Raw Story:

By Reuters
Thursday, February 24th, 2011

LONDON (Reuters) – Air pollution triggers more heart attacks than using cocaine and poses as high a risk of sparking a heart attack as alcohol, coffee and physical exertion, scientists said on Thursday.

Sex, anger, marijuana use and chest or respiratory infections and can also trigger heart attacks to different extents, the researchers said, but air pollution, particularly in heavy traffic, is the major culprit.

The findings, published in The Lancet journal, suggest population-wide factors like polluted air should be taken more seriously when looking at heart risks, and should be put into context beside higher but relatively rarer risks like drug use.

Tim Nawrot of Hasselt University in Belgium, who led the study, said he hoped his findings would also encourage doctors to think more often about population level risks.

“Physicians are always looking at individual patients — and low risk factors might not look important at an individual level, but if they are prevalent in the population then they have a greater public health relevance,” he said in a telephone interview.

The World Health Organization (WHO) describes air pollution as “a major environmental risk to health” and estimates that it causes around 2 million premature deaths worldwide every year.

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Fire Lt. Gen. Caldwell NOW and End the “Psy-Ops” War Against Congress

From Common Dreams:

by Tom Andrews

Published on Thursday, February 24, 2011 by Daily Kos

Lt. General William Caldwell needs to be fired. Now. General Caldwell, a three star general in charge of training Afghanistan troops allegedly ordered that the Army’s arsenal of psychological weapons of war be trained on Members of Congress and other “VIPs” in order to manipulate them into giving the Army more money and troops for its Afghanistan operation.

According to Rolling Stone, the head of an Army “Information Operations” unit in Afghanistan, Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes, has been under orders from Caldwell to find “pressure points” to use against the visiting Congressional delegations and secretly manipulate them without their knowledge. Holmes quoted the general’s Chief of Staff:  “What do I have to plant inside their heads?”

General Caldwell should face court marshal proceedings for violating his oath of office and US law. The Justice Department should launch an immediate investigation to determine just how widespread this propaganda operation is and how high up the chain of command it goes. Congress should act immediately as well. The House and Senate Armed Services Committees should schedule public hearings and the investigative arms of both houses, as well as the General Accounting Office, should launch investigations.

This latest Rolling Stone bombshell needs all the attention that the Obama administration and the Congress gave reporter Michael Hastings’ last story on an out-of-control General, Stanly McChrystal. This is worse. General McChrystal was guilty of frat boy style insubordination. Lt. General Caldwell, and whoever else was involved in this outrage, was attempting a form of military coup by attacking elected civilian leaders through psychological warfare. If you are frustrated by civilian control over your military, take them out. In this case the weapon of choice was the arsenal available to them by the Army’s psychological warfare operation.

As a Member of the House Armed Services Committee, I was cognizant of the Pentagon’s use of spin to get the result that they wanted. I was in office for less than a month when I was invited for a personal “consultation” with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.  I am certain that Chairman Powell was less interested in my views of military strategy than he was of my vote.

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U.S. Catholic Bishops Major Force Behind War on Women

NOW Press Release:

For Immediate Release
Contact: Mai Shiozaki, 202-628-8669, ext. 116

U.S. Catholic Bishops Major Force Behind War on Women
Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill

February 23, 2011

The collusion of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has led to an open declaration of war on the women of this country. The bishops have long sought to enshrine into law those policies of the Catholic Church that subordinate women. And they don’t care how badly women get hurt in the process.

In the last election, the bishops helped to elect legislators that would do their bidding, which includes enacting dangerous and discriminatory bills denying women safe, accessible and affordable abortion care and family planning, even encouraging hospitals to let women die in the name of ‘life.’

A recent poll shows abortion ‘barely registers’ among voter priorities, and yet Speaker Boehner has declared barring federal funding for abortion care a ‘highest priority’ — responding not to the call of his constituents but to the demands of the bishops. And it turns out abortion isn’t the only target, as evidenced by their stunningly dangerous efforts that, if enacted, can and will result in the preventable deaths of women:

  • The proposed continuing resolution passed by the House to temporarily keep the government functioning would zero out Title X family planning, which has never covered abortion care. Should this gain traction in the Senate, millions of women, the vast majority of whom have incomes of less than $11,000 per year, will lose access to pap smears, testing for sexually transmitted infections, and contraception. It is a public health nightmare — but a dream-come-true for the Catholic bishops.
  • HR 358, which many are calling the ‘Let the Women Die Act’ not only brings back Rep. Joe Pitts’ (R-Pa.) rejected Stupak-Pitts proposition from health care reform, but also encourages providers to refuse training, performance and even referral of abortion care. This bill gives our government’s ‘blessing’ to any emergency room that would let a pregnant woman die rather than perform an abortion procedure that could save her life.
  • HR 3, also known as ‘Stupak on Steroids,’ would enshrine the Hyde Amendment into law and expand it to impose tax penalties on millions of families and businesses whose private insurance covers abortion care, thereby expanding the scope of Internal Revenue Service audits to the area between women’s legs. In testifying in favor of this bill in committee, a representative from the Catholic bishops proudly supported revoking abortion rights even in cases of rape. You read that right — and isn’t that rich, coming from the very men who have consistently protected sexually abusive priests?
  • And HR 217, which NOW has dubbed the ‘Public Health Nightmare Act,’ would permanently eliminate Title X family planning services, leaving millions of women and men stranded without essential services like birth control, cancer screenings and screenings for HIV/AIDS and STDs.

Pro-life? Hardly.

Not only are these assaults on women’s rights at odds with generally accepted medical practice and flatly unethical, there is little doubt that they will kill women.

The National Organization for Women is fighting back against these efforts in coalition with our allies and women’s health advocates across the country. We also renew our demand that the federal government require the all-male and violently anti-woman U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops follow the same lobbying and disclosure requirements that currently apply to everyone else.


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Homeless Kids, Squats, and the Predictable Manipulation of Tragedy

Earlier this week I learned of the death of Tyra Trent, a 25 year old TS/TG woman, whose body was discovered in an abandoned building. The details of the circumstances of her death were sketchy due to use of the word “asphyxiation”, which may or may not indicate violence, particularly given the definitions of asphyxia.

From Wikipedia:

Asphyxia or asphyxiation is a condition of severely deficient supply of oxygen to the body that arises from being unable to breathe normally. An example of asphyxia is choking. Asphyxia causes generalized hypoxia, which primarily affects the tissues and organs.

Other causes are:

But even if Tyra died alone in a squat where she had taken shelter from the cold and used some sort of charcoal burner to stay warm, thus dying due to carbon monoxide poisoning  rather than at the hand of another she still died due to the systemic violence of poverty.

The story said she had been arrested in the past for sex work. This meant she was probably working the streets as call girls have a residence and are rarely arrested.  Street sex work is the most dangerous and many of the violent deaths of TS/TG women are sisters who were murdered working the streets.

There are such things as multiple layers of oppression and those who are most often the victims of violence, either individual or systemic are often victims of a full spectrum of oppression.  One of those layers is race, another class.  Look at the photos of those sisters whose pictures show up at Day of Remembrance Services.  So many are people of color. But white or people of color many are also desperately poor.

Years ago the first article I had published was, “Not My Child” about transkids who were runaways and throwaways. But the article could have applied equally to the few hundred homeless kids living on the streets of Hollywood.  Some of whom were transkids and others gay or lesbian, many were there because they were thrown out by their “Christian” families. Thrown out because they were too rebellious or too promiscuous or questioned the rigid religion of their families.

The austerity measures of the last 40 years with the transfer of wealth to the privileged few made it impossible for there to be hippies like in the 1960s where bands of kids could join together, rent cheap apartments and  live on virtually  nothing.

I haven’t been able to find the story to provide a link but about the time I wrote “Not My Child” there was a story of several kids being asphyxiated in a squat where they had a fire in a charcoal burner to keep warm.

A Google search turned up so many stories about the homeless and squats and people being found dead in them I couldn’t begin to find the story I was looking for so the specifics will remain anecdotal.

Suffice it to say, Reagan’s Regime and subsequent regimes have destroyed the social safety net that supported those at the bottom of the socio-economic scale and now there are hundreds of thousands of homeless people including entire families rendered homeless due to the criminal manipulations of the banks and mortgage con games.

Stalin said, “One death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic.” He bluntly spoke the truth. We can look at the death of Tyra Trent or any one of the murders of TS/TG women who show up on the lists for The Day of Remembrance and see a tragedy, where if we add their deaths to those of sex workers in general or in Tyra’s case to those homeless who are found dead then we lose the tragedy in the banality of statistics.

When I turned to some of the trans-blogs I immediately found Tyra being used as reason why we need a trans-inclusive ENDA.

Is that all this person’s death signifies?  Another martyr, whose death can be calculatingly used to further a particular cause?

Perhaps the activists of the Transgender Borg Collective actually believe this.  Many have both male privilege and white skin privilege as well as class privilege that gave them well paying careers that were damaged when they came out.  Their multiple levels of privilege can blind them to the levels of systematic oppression faced by people like Tyra.

ENDA will not end racism or class oppression nor will it end sexist oppression of women.

But most of all ENDA won’t bring back the things that might actually save the lives of kids like Tyra.  Things like Welfare, subsidized housing, Medicare for all, Jobs Training, effective government financed legal assistance, public defenders.

ENDA won’t end the systemic meanness that have become the Republican mandated way of life that turned the war on poverty started by our last real Democratic President, LBJ in to a war on the poor waged by Nixon, Reagan,  Bush, Clinton, Bush and Obama.

The focus on ENDA is so limited as to be but a crumb in the struggle we need to be waging.  We face a well financed right wing machine that closely resembles the Nazi Party in early 1930s Germany and our focus is supposed to be so small.

In the mean time demand more shelters that include TS/TG folks with out insulting them or demanding they use gender inappropriate shelters.

Don’t just use Tyra to leverage ENDA, because without job training and welfare programs ENDA won’t do squat for the least privileged and most oppressed of our society.

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Senator vows to reform the PATRIOT Act

Obama should veto The PATRIOT ACT, but won’t.

From Raw Story:

By Eric W. Dolan
Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

A Democratic senator from Oregon said Tuesday that Congress must use the three month extension of the PATRIOT Act to amend the legislation so that it does not violate American’s civil liberties.

“Americans deserve laws that strike the best possible balance between fighting terrorism ferociously and protecting the rights and freedoms of law-abiding American citizens,” Senator Ron Wyden, a senior member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said in a statement.

Congress passed a bill last week that extended three controversial provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act until May 27.

The bill is expected to be signed into law by President Barack Obama in the coming days.

“The Patriot Act does not strike that balance,” he continued. “It was written and passed six weeks after the worst terrorist attack in our nation’s history. Congress wisely included sunset dates for the Patriot Act’s most controversial provisions, so that they could be thoughtfully considered at a later time. After ten years, it is clearly time for that debate.”

Last week, Sen. Wyden introduced a bill to narrow the PATRIOT Act’s section 215 provision, which allows law enforcement to obtain “any tangible thing,” including library and bookstore records.

Under the PATRIOT Act, that information can be obtained without demonstrating that the person whose records are sought is connected to terrorism in any way.

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