Created Equal? Founding Era Tensions on Economic Fairness

From New Deal 2.0: http://www.newdeal20.org/2011/04/11/created-equal-founding-era-tensions-on-economic-fairness-41338/

William Hogeland
Monday, 04/11/2011

In 1776, rowdy Democrats fought for equality. But their notions didn’t suit early elites.
­

“All men are created equal,” the Continental Congress famously announced in the document that came to be known as the Declaration of Independence. These are powerful words — and reflecting on America’s founding struggles over money and finance can give the familiar phrase new resonance. For even as Thomas Jefferson was drafting the Declaration in a small, hot room in Philadelphia in the summer of 1776, the democratic popular finance movement was blooming in America. Throughout the country, ordinary people placed all hopes on America declaring independence from England. Equality was indeed their goal. And by this, they meant economic fairness: A newly level playing field where they could compete for prosperity.

Near the room where Jefferson wrote, the most successful of those democratic movements was coming to fruition in Philadelphia’s Carpenter’s Hall. To the artisans, laborers, mechanics, and militia privates gathered there, declaring independence from England offered an amazing chance for creating a new kind of government, fostering fairness for the less propertied, even the unpropertied; obstructing traditional high-finance privilege; and giving the ordinary people access to representation and economic opportunity. Right down the street from the Pennsylvania State House where the Congress met, supporters of this democratic movement were seizing the moment of crisis with England to bring about an economic revolution in America. And their 1776 Pennsylvania constitution made economic equality into law for the first meaningful time anywhere.

The Constitutional Convention: A Counterrevolution?

By the late 1780s, the economic advances of ordinary Americans were starting to look very successful. So successful, in fact, that in 1787, gentlemen from around the country gathered again in the Pennsylvania State House at what became the U.S. constitutional convention. Their primary goal? To push those advances back. Edmund Randolph of Virginia, who would soon serve as U.S. Attorney General and then as Secretary of State, kicked off the 1787 proceedings in the same room at the State House where the Congress had declared independence. He charged the convention with repairing America’s “insufficient checks against the democracy.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.newdeal20.org/2011/04/11/created-equal-founding-era-tensions-on-economic-fairness-41338/

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UK ‘disappointment’ as Iceland rejects repayment deal

From The BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13022524

10 April 2011

Icelanders have rejected the latest plan to repay the UK and Netherlands some 4bn euros lost when the country’s banking system collapsed in 2008.

Partial referendum results show 58% voting no, and 42% supporting the plan.

Johanna Sigurdardottir, Iceland’s Prime Minister, said the rejection meant “the worst option was chosen”.

UK Treasury minister Danny Alexander said the decision was “disappointing” and the matter would go to an international court.

Dutch Finance minister Jan Kees de Jager said he would be consulting Britain about taking further steps against Iceland, but added that the matter would likely end up in court.

“I am very disappointed that the Icesave agreement did not get through. This is not good for Iceland, nor for the Netherlands.

“The time for negotiations is over. Iceland remains obliged to repay. The issue is now for the courts to decide,” Mr de Jager said in a statement.

It is the second time a referendum has rejected a repayment deal.

Iceland’s Landsbanki bank ran savings accounts in the UK and Netherlands under the name Icesave and investors there lost 4bn euros (£3.5bn; $5.8bn).

Analysis:

Joe Lynam BBC News

The Icelandic people were damned if they did and damned if they didn’t. It looks as if they still couldn’t stomach the idea of paying off the debts of privately owned banks – even if the revised deal was considerably more generous.

The consequences of this referendum vote is that Iceland’s years in the financial wilderness could be extended much further.

Moody’s and other ratings agencies look set to downgrade the country even further, making it prohibitively more expensive to borrow on the open markets.

Iceland’s bid to join the EU will be paused or even vetoed by Britain and the Netherlands. And the tiny Atlantic economy is facing legal action in the EFTA court which might force it to pay up sooner than planned and at a punitive interest rate.

Democracy doesn’t pay if you’re an Icelander.

Complete Article at:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-13022524

A Lawsuit’s Unusual Question: Who Is a Man?

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/11/nyregion/11sexchange.html?_r=1&scp=4&sq=transgender&st=cse

By RICHARD PÉREZ-PEÑA
Published: April 10, 2011

What is a man? For El’Jai Devoureau, this is not a rhetorical question.

Mr. Devoureau, who was born physically female, is a man at the Motor Vehicle Commission, at the Social Security office, at home, at job interviews. But what about at the urinal?

In a case with a truly unusual set of factors, Mr. Devoureau filed a discrimination lawsuit on Friday that could break new ground in New Jersey and across the country, turning on the question of who is or is not a man. An employer fired Mr. Devoureau because it said only a man was allowed to do his job: watching men urinate into plastic cups at a drug treatment center.

Mr. Devoureau, 39, says he has identified himself as a man all his life. In 2006, after he began taking male hormones and had sex-change surgery, he adopted the name El’Jai (pronounced like L. J.). A new birth certificate issued by the State of Georgia identifies him as male, as does his New Jersey driver’s license, and the Social Security Administration made the change in its records.

“As long as I’ve been a person, I’ve lived as a man,” he said in an interview. “At age 5, I did everything a boy did: I climbed trees, I played football, I played with trucks. Most of the people in my life, all they know is I’m male.”

Last June, Urban Treatment Associates in Camden hired Mr. Devoureau as a part-time urine monitor; his job was to make sure that people recovering from addiction did not substitute someone else’s urine for their own during regular drug testing. On his second day, he said, his boss said she had heard he was transgender.

“I said I was male, and she asked if I had any surgeries,” he said. “I said that was private and I didn’t have to answer, and I was fired.”

Calls to Urban Treatment were not returned. But after Mr. Devoureau made a complaint to the state’s Division on Civil Rights, the treatment center filed a response in January saying that Mr. Devoureau’s dismissal “was not motivated by, nor related in any way to, any discriminatory intention.”

Civil rights laws and court decisions allow limited cases of favoring one group over another, like giving preference to women for jobs as nurses in maternity wards. In its January filing, Urban Treatment said that firing Mr. Devoureau was legitimate, “since the sex of the employee engaged in that particular job position is a bona fide occupational qualification” — implying that Mr. Devoureau was not really a man.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/11/nyregion/11sexchange.html?_r=1&scp=4&sq=transgender&st=cse

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How nuclear apologists mislead the world over radiation

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/apr/11/nuclear-apologists-radiation

George Monbiot and others at best misinform and at worst distort evidence of the dangers of atomic energy

Helen Caldicott
guardian.co.uk, Monday 11 April 2011

Soon after the Fukushima accident last month, I stated publicly that a nuclear event of this size and catastrophic potential could present a medical problem of very large dimensions. Events have proven this observation to be true despite the nuclear industry’s campaign about the “minimal” health effects of so-called low-level radiation. That billions of its dollars are at stake if the Fukushima event causes the “nuclear renaissance” to slow down appears to be evident from the industry’s attacks on its critics, even in the face of an unresolved and escalating disaster at the reactor complex at Fukushima.

Proponents of nuclear power – including George Monbiot, who has had a mysterious road-to-Damascus conversion to its supposedly benign effects – accuse me and others who call attention to the potential serious medical consequences of the accident of “cherry-picking” data and overstating the health effects of radiation from the radioactive fuel in the destroyed reactors and their cooling pools. Yet by reassuring the public that things aren’t too bad, Monbiot and others at best misinform, and at worst misrepresent or distort, the scientific evidence of the harmful effects of radiation exposure – and they play a predictable shoot-the-messenger game in the process.

To wit:

1) Mr Monbiot, who is a journalist not a scientist, appears unaware of the difference between external and internal radiation

Let me educate him.

The former is what populations were exposed to when the atomic bombs were detonated over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945; their profound and on-going medical effects are well documented. [1]

Internal radiation, on the other hand, emanates from radioactive elements which enter the body by inhalation, ingestion, or skin absorption. Hazardous radionuclides such as iodine-131, caesium 137, and other isotopes currently being released in the sea and air around Fukushima bio-concentrate at each step of various food chains (for example into algae, crustaceans, small fish, bigger fish, then humans; or soil, grass, cow’s meat and milk, then humans). [2] After they enter the body, these elements – called internal emitters – migrate to specific organs such as the thyroid, liver, bone, and brain, where they continuously irradiate small volumes of cells with high doses of alpha, beta and/or gamma radiation, and over many years, can induce uncontrolled cell replication – that is, cancer. Further, many of the nuclides remain radioactive in the environment for generations, and ultimately will cause increased incidences of cancer and genetic diseases over time.

The grave effects of internal emitters are of the most profound concern at Fukushima. It is inaccurate and misleading to use the term “acceptable levels of external radiation” in assessing internal radiation exposures. To do so, as Monbiot has done, is to propagate inaccuracies and to mislead the public worldwide (not to mention other journalists) who are seeking the truth about radiation’s hazards.

Continue reading at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/apr/11/nuclear-apologists-radiation

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Another Equal Pay Day? Really?

From The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marlo-thomas/equal-pay-day_b_847021.html

Marlo Thomas
Posted: 04/12/11

If one more person points to Meg Whitman or Arianna Huffington as proof of women’s earning power, I’m going to scream. That’s like saying Tiger Woods and Will Smith are slam-dunk proof that black Americans have broken into the ranks of the über-rich.

Which brings us to National Equal Pay Day. I can’t believe we’re having another one. I still have my little green button from 1970 — with “59¢” emblazoned on it — tacked to my bulletin board. I remember how we all wore that button on our t-shirts as we marched to protest the gender pay disparity of that time. Now we’re at 77 cents.

Forty years and 18 cents. A dozen eggs has gone up 10 times that amount.

There are people who undermine the pay gap by citing the women who make 98 cents on every dollar a man makes. But this is an elite group. According to the National Women’s Law Center, the vast majority of American women — working “full-time, year-round” — are still stuck in that shameful 77-cent zone. The gap, says the National Women’s Law Center, translates into “$10,622 less per year in female median earnings.” Those are real dollars that could cover real expenses — like food and school and clothes and health care and childcare.

Many companies try to disguise the inequity. Take the infamous Wal-Mart sex discrimination case, in which it was revealed that female workers at Wal-Mart earned about 5 percent less than men doing similar jobs between 1996 and 2001. Defenders of Wal-Mart might tell you that the discrepancy is practically negligible — that, in fact, hourly-waged men make only 37 cents an hour more than the women.

But climb a little further up that corporate ladder — to the career jobs — and it’s impossible to disguise the inequity. At the senior vice president level at Wal-Mart, says the report, the average pay for a man is $419,435 a year. And for women? Just $279,772. That’s $150,000 a gap — too many numerals for my little green button.

There are those who will dismiss this disparity and ask us women to congratulate ourselves for moving up the corporate food chain. That’s the ol’ you’ve-come-a-long-way-baby kind of thinking. It’s too late for that. Today, as we mark another Equal Pay Day (or as some of us call it, Unequal Pay Day), we can’t celebrate a mere 17-cent gain made over four decades.

So what do we do? We’ve worn the buttons, we’ve done the marches, we’ve lobbied. Now what?

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marlo-thomas/equal-pay-day_b_847021.html

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Esther Cepeda: I long for ordinary

What happens if people no longer want to see themselves as an “identity” but rather as just ordinary people?  Women with a transsexual history face this one with all the pressure from Transgender Inc.  Wanting to be just ordinary rather than part of the Transgender Borg Collective causes great wailing an gnashing of teeth on the part of the TGBC along with a memorized litany of accusations, recriminations and guilt tripping.

I remember a time before Reagan when people were freer than they are now.

From The Austin Statesman: http://www.statesman.com/opinion/cepeda-see-others-in-all-of-the-places-1390483.html

Esther J. Cepeda, Washington Post
4/10/2011

CHICAGO — In a world where everyone is considered special and believes themselves to be, like the residents of Garrison Keillor’s fictitious Lake Wobegon strong, good-looking and above average I’m striving for ordinary, general and mainstream.

Weird, I know. But like an overstimulated child, I’m worn and cranky from too much Latino-mania. We’re the largest minority! We have $1 trillion in buying power! Google, L’Oreal, and State Farm are culturally marketing to us!

Whoop-dee-doo. I’d rather be seen as a normal part of everyday American life instead of perceived as belonging to an alien population that requires special outreach.

When I was little, my Latino cultural touchstones were the rock band Santana, Freddy Prinze of TV’s “Chico and the Man,” and Jose Feliciano, who sang that show’s theme song as well as the ever-popular “Feliz Navidad.” They appealed to people of all types, not just Hispanics. I liked that.

But that was before the decline of mass media and the reign of the segmented target audience. Today it’s all about “reaching” Hispanics through segregated “culturally relevant” Hispanic TV programming, radio, social media and websites. Worse, many of these efforts are in Spanish even though, according to the Pew Hispanic Center, 84 percent of Latinos under 17 and 56 percent of Latinos over 18 speak English fluently or exclusively.

I yearn for the Latino community to become un-niched. If by 2050 Hispanics do comprise one-third of the U.S. population, I’d like them to be an equal part of an American community that embraces its diversity as a strength, not a group maneuvering against disparate Asian, black, mixed-race and white blocs for whatever’s left of the American dream.

I long to see people with hair, skin and eye color like mine in all types of magazines, and on news anchor desks and big screens everywhere — not just in the ones that have been assigned to my minority group.

Continue reading at:  http://www.statesman.com/opinion/cepeda-see-others-in-all-of-the-places-1390483.html

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Fired transgendered teacher rejects deal that would muzzle him

From The Star Canada: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/972444–fired-transgendered-teacher-rejects-deal-that-would-muzzle-him?bn=1

John Cotter
The Canadian Press
4/11/2011

EDMONTON—A transgendered teacher fired by a Catholic school district is rejecting a settlement offer because it would require him to keep quiet and drop a human rights complaint.

Jan Buterman says he will proceed with his complaint against Greater St. Albert Catholic Schools, which wrote him a letter in 2008 praising his abilities but dismissing him for not being aligned with the values of the Catholic Church.

Buterman, who was a substitute teacher in St. Albert, just north of Edmonton, says the publicly funded school district can’t buy his silence with an offer of $78,000 cash or a one-year teaching job.

“I don’t want to be muzzled,” says Buterman, who has worked as a teacher elsewhere since he was fired. “They don’t want me to talk about the fact that they, as an employer, claiming authority from the Catholic Church, have discriminated against me because of my medical status as a transsexual person.”

Buterman says he expects the Catholic school board will ask the Alberta Human Rights Commission to dismiss his complaint. The commission has the right by law not to send a case to a hearing if a “fair and reasonable settlement” is offered.

David Keohane, superintendent of the Catholic school district, says the board has been working with the human rights commission to try to ensure the offer is seen as fair and reasonable.

“It is about how the commission is being satisfied with how we are dealing with the issue and the appearance of being reasonable,” he says.

“Everything is completely reasonable … given the absolute nature of how the issue represented itself, and we believe that we have been abundantly fair.”

The Alberta Teachers’ Association also appears to think so. The union has decided it will no longer pay for Buterman’s lawyers, who have called the cash offer “substantial” and advised him that it’s more than most employers would offer a short-term employee. They have also suggested that rejecting the settlement because of its confidentiality clause could make Buterman look bad.

Continue reading at:  http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/972444–fired-transgendered-teacher-rejects-deal-that-would-muzzle-him?bn=1

Former Republican senator: We have homophobes in our party

No Shit Sherlock… Really?  I would have never noticed…

By Eric W. Dolan
Monday, April 11th, 2011

Former Wyoming Republican Senator Alan Simpson blasted socially conservative members of the Republican Party on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews on Monday.

“We have homophobes in our party,” Simpson, who served as a senator from 1979 to 1997, admitted. “That’s disgusting to me. We’re all human beings. We’re all God’s children.”

“Santorum has said some cruel things—cruel, cruel things—about homosexuals,” he added. “Ask him about it; see if he attributes the cruelness of his remarks years ago. Foul.”

Former Republican Senator Rick Santorum, a potential GOP 2012 presidential candidate, likened homosexuality to “incest” and “adultery” in April 2003. He told The Associated Press that acceptance of gay sex could “undermine the fabric of our society” and lead to “man on child, man on dog” relations.

“Now if that’s the kind of guys that are going to be on my ticket, you know, it makes you sort out hard what Reagan said, you know, ‘Stick with your folks,'” Simpson continued. “But, I’m not sticking with people who are homophobic, anti-women, moral values—while you’re diddling your secretary while you’re giving a speech on moral values? Come on, get off of it.”

Simpson has been a longtime supporter of gay and lesbian rights and access to abortion. During his appearance on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews he also said that male legislators should not vote on abortion-related bills.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/04/11/former-republican-senator-we-have-homophobes-in-our-party/

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Hiding From Shame, Addicted to Optimism: The Tyranny of Our Collective Comfort Zones

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/04/11-1

by Phil Rockstroh
4/11/2011

The technologies that inflicted upon the world the ongoing tragedies in both the Gulf of Mexico and Japan serve a dangerous addiction, an addiction to blind optimism, a habituation of mind that allows us to dwell within provisional comfort zones but renders vast spaces of the world into deathrealms.

After each catastrophe, there ensues a scramble to contain the damage leveled, as, concurrently, the apologist of the present system explain the anomalous nature of the event. Yet, this much should be obvious: Attempting to clean up the mess, after it occurs, as oppose to altering the way of life that incurs the damage, is analogous to an addict believing a few days in detox will serve as a solution to his addiction.

In the same way drug dealers are reliant on an addict’s unwillingness to reflect on the carnage created in his life, as well as, the havoc reaped in the lives of those near him, engendered by his addiction, the small group of hyper-wealthy elites who benefit from the current system rely on collective cognitive dissidence (or, as it has been termed, the fear of fear itself) to dissuade the public at large from peering deeply into the pernicious situation.

One of an addict’s biggest obstacles is his optimism i.e., he is convinced he can figure out somehow, someway to use his drug of choice in a less destructive way…and, by reflex, rebels against the deepening sorrow that he must change.

When large, powerful corporations create messes beyond their ability to control the damage wrought by their institutional cupidity, those in charge spare no expense aggressively confronting the problem…that is, of course, by means of public relations blitzes aimed at the general public, while tsunami-sized waves of campaign contributions flood the coffers of elected officials.

Apropos, a school of thought has developed in which framing the perception of a catastrophe supersedes all other considerations. An after the fact casuistry, possessed of crackpot optimism, similar to the following, is affected: Dated technologies were at fault in that particular mishap, but, not to worry, in the near future, new innovations will safeguard against similar calamities.

Sure thing: The future will be bathed in the benign light of new technological wonders; our dread will be washed away by sparkling clean coal. Magical technological innovations will soon render nuclear power so safe that the only danger to the general public will be posed by the risk of being smothered by its profoundly huggable properties.

Such are the free market capitalist’s versions of End Time belief systems, a variation of the type of magical thinking that induces an individual to scan the empty sky, waiting for Jesus to float earthward and redeem the ceaseless folly perpetrated by mankind.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/04/11-1

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Criminalisation harms sex workers

From The Drum: http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/55476.html

Elena Jeffreys
8 April 2011

Sex work abolitionists claim that sex work is inherently harmful and argue that the criminalisation of sex workers’ clients is a way to reduce this alleged harm.

The Canadian Courts recently heard these arguments from Janice Raymond and Melissa Farley (both American academics who have never done sex work) and dismissed their ‘evidence’ on the basis that they couldn’t substantiate their claims. The court found that the harms related to sex work were caused by criminalisation – not by sex work in and of itself. Sex work is not inherently harmful. Criminalisation is.

In Canada, the act of brothel-keeping, living off the earnings, soliciting and purchasing sex is criminalised. Their sex work laws (like many Commonwealth jurisdictions) were exported from late Victorian England and implemented at the turn of the last century. Similar laws exist in Western Australia and South Australia. The clients, brothel owners, accountants, cleaners, advertisers and landlords are particularly criminalised in Sweden. These are the same criminalisations that the Canadian Court found to be inherently damaging to sex workers. Criminalising the activities associated with sex work, or sex work itself, is neither contemporary nor modern, nor is it based on any reliable evidence. The Swedish laws simply reproduce the same criminalisation, social exclusion and discrimination that sex workers face in criminalised sectors of the industry everywhere, including in some states and territories in Australia.

Decriminalisation and human rights will protect sex workers health

Decriminalisation and human rights strategies have resulted in improved health for sex workers in Australia. Sex workers have consistently low rates of HIV (less than 1 per cent) and low rates of sexually transmissible infections*. Sex workers have consistently proven that health self-regulation is not only possible but successful; 30 years of research by Basil Donovan, Roberta Perkins, Frances Lovejoy, all Australian Epidemiology Reports and all evaluations of the National HIV and STI strategies show that decriminalisation improves and maintains good sex worker health.

Trafficking laws have been a hinder to decriminalisation, as argued by the Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women: “Decriminalisation and legalisation of the sex industry reduces exploitation… repressive anti-trafficking measures negate the positive impacts of decriminalisation.”

If feminists want to support sex workers in Australia they can stand up for our rights in the face of harsh anti-trafficking laws and the criminalisation we already face. Arguing for increased criminalisation such as the Swedish model is to ignore 30 years of evidence promoting the success of decriminalisation.

Continue reading at:  http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/55476.html

Fall of the Roman Empire ’caused by gays’

One can count on Catholic historians to never tell the truth about anything.

From The Scotsman: http://www.scotsman.com/news/Fall-of-the-Roman-Empire.6748647.jp

By NICK PISA
ROME April 9, 2011
A LEADING Italian academic is facing growing calls to resign after he blamed the collapse of the Roman Empire on homosexuality.

Professor Roberto De Mattei, vice-president of Italy’s Centre for National Research and who is also a devout Catholic, has already faced criticism after claiming that the Japanese tsunami and earthquake disaster was “divine punishment”.

In an interview with Radio Maria, a religious news network, Prof De Mattei, 63, said: “The collapse of the Roman Empire and the arrival of the Barbarians was due to the spread of homosexuality.

“The Roman colony of Carthage was a paradise for homosexuals … the abnormal presence of a few deviants infected many others.”

Prof De Mattei based his comments on the writings of fifth-century Christian author Salviano di Marsiglia. He added: “The invasion of the Barbarians (of Rome] was seen as punishment for this moral transgression. It is well known that effeminate men and homo- sexuals have no place in the Kingdom of God. Homosexuality was not rife among the Barbarians, and this shows that God’s justice comes throughout history, not at the end of time.”

Fellow historians, gay rights groups and politicians expressed outrage and some called on him to quit his post.

Paola Concia, an MP for the opposition Democratic Left, said: “I have tabled an urgent call for the education minister, Maria Stella Gelmini, to step in and intervene.”

Continue reading at: http://www.scotsman.com/news/Fall-of-the-Roman-Empire.6748647.jp

Gas from ‘fracking’ could be twice as bad as coal for climate: study

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/04/11/gas-from-fracking-could-be-twice-as-bad-as-coal-for-climate-study/

By David Edwards
Monday, April 11th, 2011

Shale gas, produced by “hydraulic fracturing” or “fracking,” could create as much as twice the greenhouse gasses as coal, according to a study soon to be published by Cornell University professors.

Over the past few years, the Washington D.C. consensus has been that shale gas is better for the environment than coal. President Obama has praised natural gas and given it partial credit in his proposed “clean energy standard.”

But Cornell Prof. Robert Howarth argues in the new study that making natural gas available through “fracking” contributes more to global warming than conventional gas and coal over 20 years.

“Natural gas is composed largely of methane, and 3.6% to 7.9% of the methane from shale-gas production escapes to the atmosphere in venting and leaks over the life-time of a well,” a pre-publication version of the study (.pdf) — obtained by The Hill — said.

“These methane emissions are at least 30% more than and perhaps more than twice as great as those from conventional gas. The higher emissions from shale gas occur at the time wells are hydraulically fractured — as methane escapes from flow-back return fluids — and during drill out following the fracturing,” the study added.

“The footprint for shale gas is greater than that for conventional gas or oil when viewed on any time horizon, but particularly so over 20 years. Compared to coal, the footprint of shale gas is at least 20% greater and perhaps more than twice as great on the 20-year horizon and is comparable when compared over 100 years.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/04/11/gas-from-fracking-could-be-twice-as-bad-as-coal-for-climate-study/

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Md. Gender Identity Bill Dies in Senate

I guess the vocal Transgender Inc folks prefer not getting any of the pie to only getting part of it.

I’ve only weighed in on this one in passing.  I personally thought it was better strategy to take what they could get and come back in a year or two and go for more after having shown the world didn’t end when transgender folks got some of their rights.

It took gay and lesbian folks some 20-30 years to accomplish what TG Inc. thinks it should get over night.

From The Advocate: http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2011/04/11/Md_Gender_Identity_Dies_in_Senate/

By Julie Bolcer
April 11, 2011

Maryland senators voted on Monday to recommit the Gender Identity Anti-Discrimination Act to committee, effectively killing any prospects for the bill to pass this session, which ends at midnight.

Shortly before 1 p.m. on the last day of session, senators voted 27 to 20 to recommit the bill to the judicial proceedings committee, which had advanced the measure by a 7 to 4 vote on Saturday. The move left no time to resurrect the bill in 2011.

The vote dealt a major setback to advocates, who just last week had rescued the bill from certain death in the rules committee, where it was unexpectedly assigned after passing the house last month by a vote of 86 to 52. The legislation would have prohibited discrimination against transgender Marylanders in housing, employment and credit, but not public accommodations, which became a rallying point for some transgender advocates who called the bill inadequate and urged lawmakers to defeat it.

Advocates for the bill entered Monday feeling confident about the vote count for the measure, known as H.B. 235. The measure had failed in previous years, but Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk, the lead sponsor, made the controversial decision to remove public accommodations protections with the intention of securing enough support.

Del. Pena-Melnyk was on the floor and unavailable for comment Monday afternoon, but other advocates shared their disappointment.

“We believe we had the votes,” said transgender advocate Dana Beyer in a telephone interview from Annapolis.“There was pressure from up top not to allow our side to move forward.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.advocate.com/News/Daily_News/2011/04/11/Md_Gender_Identity_Dies_in_Senate/

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For All You “Youngsters” Out There With Fire in Your Bellies- So You Think That You Invented Transgender Inclusion in 1994?

What does it mean when so many long term post-transsexual women have such generally negative feelings regarding Transgender Inc’s rewriting of history and treatment of post-op women?

How hard can it be to say transsexual and transgender, instead of just erasing our lives and history?

From Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/teresa.e.reeves#!/notes/teresa-ellen-reeves/for-all-you-youngsters-out-there-with-fire-in-your-bellies-so-you-think-that-you/10150156273611837

This is reposted with permission

by Teresa Ellen Reeves on Sunday, April 10, 2011

So You Think You Invented Transgender Inclusion in 1994?

For all you “youngsters” out there.

My transition began in January 1976, which means that my transition came before 98% of all trans folks.

I encountered academic lesbian and gay transsexual- phobia in the mid 1980s at USC Graduate School in Counseling Psychology from faculty, students, and fieldwork that targeted me because I had had a sex change operation. Gay professors blocked my advancement in the department, tried to keep me from getting work and have me fired because “I found it necessary to change sex”. They were afraid the community of Laguna Beach would find out a transsexual worked there! They saw me as a traitor to gay men because I wasn’t one. They even feared I would talk naive young gay men in the process of coming out into becoming a woman!

I was recruited to work at the G L Community Services Center, Orange County in 1986 by two enlightened lesbians, including the Counseling Coordinator, Judi Doyle, who had been the President of the California Marriage and Family Therapist Association. I even was invited to co-lead a therapy group for lesbian incest survivors I was among the first transsexual counselors to ever serve as a counseling intern for LGBT clients long before LGBT ever existed.

I served 1500 hours, earning them $25,000. But after Judi Doyle left her job, a transphobic lesbian administrator messed with me and outed me because she couldn’t understand how I as a post-operative transsexual could possibly be a lesbian. This resulted in my being threatened with violence by four lesbians and my ejection from the Womanspace by the admin in her Janice Raymond-born fear that I was a rapist in sheep’s clothing who could “symbolically” rape women with my mere presence. I was purged from my job in 1988 at a time when dozens of transsexual women faced a similar fate across the country.

Years later after I was exiled and fell into despair and depression and I was to be the sole caregiver of my mother with Alzheimer’s, there were some youngsters with a fire in their bellies who decided to do this wonderful thing: They popularized the word “transgender” and invented transgender inclusion into what would become L G B T.

I kept waiting and wondering when anyone was going to apologize to me for the bigotry directed at me for being a transsexual, since after my exile I had become a woman and a lesbian without a country. Despite this new “inclusion”- I was looking for the invitation to transsexual women by lesbians welcoming us. I never found it, I never saw a welcome sign. Certainly no one was sorry or even remembered me.

Who was inviting us in and who were they inviting? Gay men seemed to be inviting drag queens in, because they are sex partners for gay men. But drag queens in the 70s and 80s had made fun of me and harassed me. Lesbians were inviting F to Ms in because often they were partners in a relationship where once both had identified as lesbians. But despite all this talk of inclusion, transwomen were being regularly excluded from the Michfest.

It appeared that transgender inclusion was a “separate but equal” one. Transsexual women were welcome as long as they all stayed together with the other gender variants- as in “Go be with your own kind, the drag queens and crossdressers” and stay away from the lesbians.

And that was the problem with the new umbrella label, “transgender” and the new disorder “transgenderphobia” , a word which came to mean– “fear of a woman with a penis”. Lesbian transgenderphobia was so rampant that because of the umbrella they could not tell transwomen apart, they decided to ban all transwomen regardless of SRS out of fear of allowing a woman with a penis in.

And those youngsters began to force the use of the word transgender on us, a word they said was chosen by us, but no one ever asked for my permission or consent and I don’t identify as transgender. But when I refuse to do so, I am accused of causing hate violence against non-transsexual people.

All I ever wanted to be was a woman, and nothing but a woman, a respected woman among women and a female-bodied one at that. I am not a gender outlaw or revolutionary. It is not a crime to identify in the binary, to want to be a woman. By definition over 6 billion people on Earth subscribe to the binary and are declared to be “cisgender” by people who invented a new word instead of saying non-trans. I am a feminist.. I believe in women and I am for women. To subscribe to the binary these days is made out to be a crime. Would you want your daughter to want to be a woman, or your sister? When they can be gender fluid or gender queer and free from the ties that bind them!

But I changed sex, and gender is a social cultural role construct. Anyone can change gender, and now almost everyone can be male or female by self-identification alone. But my mother understood me when I told her I felt that I was of a female mind in a male body– and I had that birth defect corrected. Because of an infection my mother suffered in pregnancy, and hormones given as treatment, I believe that I had a neurobiological imperative to be a woman. My mother would not have understood why such a person would want to keep a male body.

But I support the rights of transgender people who identify as a woman even if they have not had or are not seeking SRS. But my advocacy wants to stop the deliberate erasure of the word “transsexual” in service of the needs of a non-op majority to distinguish those of us who needed or intend to have surgery in our seeking mind-body congruence versus those who don’t want it. The biggest complaint about transgender women who don’t have surgery is that they “act like women, but f**k like men”.

Laws have been enacted in many places protecting transgender people who are seen by the lawmakers as transsexuals in transition moving toward sex reassignment surgery. But lawmakers are not going to enact laws for those who would proclaim an inalienable “constitutional right” to be a woman with a penis or for those who brag about being “chicks with d**ks”. If transgender people are trying to be working, productive members of society and they have a family life and even a partner relationship, then I fully support laws protecting them from gender identity discrimination. But we are distinctly different kinds of people, with different histories, issues and experiences.

All I want is the restoration and inclusion of the word “transsexual”.

As in “transsexual” and “transgender”. L G B I T &T and GQ Q, etc. Or did I just murder someone by expressing my opinion? Or have I joined the Transsexual Taliban? I am not a separatist. But until the Lesbians let me in to the L room, do not be surprised if I don’t identify with L G B T or with the sexuality of non-op Transwomen, although I support their womanhood. But anyone can be anything sexually by definition, if they can find a willing partner.

(c) 2011 Teresa Ellen Reeves

Bolivia enshrines natural world’s rights with equal status for Mother Earth

Oh I just love watching Right Wing Corporate oligarch and true believers heads explode…

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/apr/10/bolivia-enshrines-natural-worlds-rights

Law of Mother Earth expected to prompt radical new conservation and social measures in South American nation

John Vidal in La Paz
guardian.co.uk, Sunday 10 April 2011

Bolivia is set to pass the world’s first laws granting all nature equal rights to humans. The Law of Mother Earth, now agreed by politicians and grassroots social groups, redefines the country’s rich mineral deposits as “blessings” and is expected to lead to radical new conservation and social measures to reduce pollution and control industry.

The country, which has been pilloried by the US and Britain in the UN climate talks for demanding steep carbon emission cuts, will establish 11 new rights for nature. They include: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.

Controversially, it will also enshrine the right of nature “to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities”.

“It makes world history. Earth is the mother of all”, said Vice-President Alvaro García Linera. “It establishes a new relationship between man and nature, the harmony of which must be preserved as a guarantee of its regeneration.”

The law, which is part of a complete restructuring of the Bolivian legal system following a change of constitution in 2009, has been heavily influenced by a resurgent indigenous Andean spiritual world view which places the environment and the earth deity known as the Pachamama at the centre of all life. Humans are considered equal to all other entities.

But the abstract new laws are not expected to stop industry in its tracks. While it is not clear yet what actual protection the new rights will give in court to bugs, insects and ecosystems, the government is expected to establish a ministry of mother earth and to appoint an ombudsman. It is also committed to giving communities new legal powers to monitor and control polluting industries.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/apr/10/bolivia-enshrines-natural-worlds-rights

Why the Right-Wing Bullies Will Hold The Nation Hostage Again and Again

From Robert Reich: http://robertreich.org/post/4467669419

Robert Reich
Saturday, April 9, 2011

When I was a small boy I was bullied more than most, mainly because I was a foot shorter than than everyone else. They demanded the cupcake my mother had packed in my lunchbox, or, they said, they’d beat me up. After a close call in the boy’s room, I paid up. Weeks later, they demanded half my sandwich as well. I gave in to that one, too. But I could see what was coming next. They’d demand everything else. Somewhere along the line I decided I’d have a take a stand. The fight wasn’t pleasant. But the bullies stopped their bullying.

I hope the President decides he has to take a stand, and the sooner the better. Last December he caved in to Republican demands that the Bush tax cut be extended to wealthier Americans for two more years, at a cost of more than $60 billion. That was only the beginning — the equivalent of my cupcake.

Last night he gave away more than half the sandwich — $39 billion less than was budgeted for 2010, $79 billion less than he originally requested. Non-defense discretionary spending — basically, everything from roads and bridges to schools and innumerable programs for the poor — has been slashed.

The right-wing bullies are emboldened. They will hold the nation hostage again and again.

In a few weeks the debt ceiling has to be raised. After that, next year’s budget has to be decided on. House Budget Chair Paul Ryan has already put forward proposals to turn Medicare into vouchers that funnel money to private insurance companies, turn Medicaid and Food Stamps into block grants that give states discretion to shift them to the non-poor, and give even more big tax cuts to the rich.

Continue reading at:  http://robertreich.org/post/4467669419

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Tammy Baldwin Asks for Investigation of Wisconsin Election

Ever since the 2000 elections the republi-Nazis have been getting real blatant about stealing the elections.

From Lezgetreal: http://networkedblogs.com/gudB1

by L. S. Carbonell
04-10-2011

With Wisconsin Republicans claiming that there were no “errors” only a politically motivated twisting of fact by the Associated Press, Rep. Tammy Baldwin has asked the Department of Justice to investigate how Waukesha County managed to not report 14,000 votes in the recent Supreme Court Judge election. Republicans are screaming that there must be something wrong with thousands of Milwaukee votes that only recorded voting for the judge’s race. They seem to believe that people will vote on things they don’t care about instead of showing up to vote on things they do care about.

What prompted Rep. Baldwin’s request is not so much the fact that Waukesha County didn’t tell the Associated Press about the actual vote tally as the fact that there have been a couple of explanations under the vague title of “human error” for the votes not be transmitted to the Secretary of State’s office. It doesn’t help that the “proper count” of those 14,000 votes somehow ended up with JoAnne Kloppenburg’s lead of around 300 votes turning into a defeat by 7,500. To achieve that, 11,850 voters in Waukesha County would have had to vote for David Prosser and only 2,950 people voted for Kloppenburg, in a race where the candidates had run within 3% of each other even in the rural, conservative counties.

In Baldwin’s explanation for requesting the investigation she said “Following this week’s election for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, numerous constituents have contacted me expressing serious doubt that this election was a free and fair one. They fear, as I do, that political interests are manipulating the results.” Justice Department spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle said the that department would review the letter, which asked for investigation by the Justice Department Public Integrity Section which oversees prosecution of election crimes. Hornbuckle offered no other comment.

Continue reading at:  http://networkedblogs.com/gudB1

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Obama embraces Republican assault on social programs for workers and the poor

From World Socialist Web Site: http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/apr2011/pers-a11.shtml

Patrick Martin
11 April 2011

The budget agreement reached between the White House and congressional Republicans late Friday night puts the Obama administration’s stamp of approval on a reactionary program of cutting spending on vital social services for working people, the elderly and the poor, four months after a similar bipartisan agreement to cut taxes for the wealthy. The result is a vast redistribution of wealth upwards, from working people to the millionaires and billionaires.

Obama’s remarks Friday night after the budget agreement was reached, and then again Saturday in his weekly Internet/radio address, fully embraced the argument of the ultra-right that the principal task of the federal government is to cut spending. “Deficit reduction,” as defined by the spokesmen for big business, means forcing the working class to pay for the bailout of Wall Street, tax cuts for the rich and three imperialist wars, through reductions in jobs, living standards and public services.

In his weekly address, Obama justified the cave-in to the Republicans under threat of a partial shutdown of the federal government, calling the agreement to cut spending “good news for the American people.” Obama boasted, “This is an agreement to invest in our country’s future while making the largest annual spending cut in our history.”

Saying the tens of billions of dollars in cuts agreed to in the current fiscal year budget signified “beginning to live within our means,” he implied that far deeper cuts would follow.

Obama admitted that “some of the cuts we agreed to will be painful—programs people rely on will be cut back,” adding, “I would not have made these cuts in better circumstances.” White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer elaborated on this statement Saturday, declaring, “These are real cuts that will save taxpayers money and have a real impact. Many will be painful and are to programs that we support, but the fiscal situation is such that we have to act.”

This talk of “painful” cuts imposed out of fiscal necessity is aimed less at feigning reluctance in order to placate popular anger as at reassuring the ruling elite that the White House is prepared to act with ruthless disregard for the social cost of its policies.

Continue reading at:  http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/apr2011/pers-a11.shtml

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Banks threaten to leave London over measures to prevent another bailout

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/apr/10/banks-threaten-leave-london-prevent-bailout

Commission’s plans unlikely to include breaking up institutions, but banks ‘may still quit UK’

Jill Treanor
guardian.co.uk
Sunday 10 April

A government commission is to unveil measures aimed at ensuring taxpayers will never again need to bail out Britain’s banks, with recommendations that risk splitting the coalition and infuriating the banking sector.

Amid warnings from large banks such as Barclays, HSBC and Standard Chartered that they will leave London if the proposals by Sir John Vickers are too radical, the commission will seek to ringfence savers from riskier banking operations.

The commission has considered the potential impact of its proposals on the City and is expected to counter suggestions that they would encourage banks to move to New York or Hong Kong.

The report, thought to run to 200 pages, was handed to ministers late on Friday to be presented to the banks at 6am on Monday – an hour before its official release. It is expected to back away from proposals such as “narrow banks”, which only take savings, and splitting high street banks from their investment banking divisions, which Vince Cable, the business secretary, previously alluded to as “casinos”.

But it sets out a handful of ideas to avoid another taxpayer bailout and bolster competition on the high street in the wake of the rescue of HBOS by Lloyds, which was only permitted because Labour overrode competition concerns.

Crucially, Vickers and his four commissioners have looked at ways banks can bolster their capital through new types of loss-absorbing financial instruments. They are concerned that the capital held by banks before the crisis – largely equity – was too brittle and lacked the flexibility of other types of instruments that might be more effective incushioning the blow of multibillion-pound losses.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/apr/10/banks-threaten-leave-london-prevent-bailout

Banks Are Off the Hook Again

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/10/opinion/10sun1.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=Banks%20Are%20Off%20the%20Hook%20Again&st=cse

Editorial
April 10, 2011

Americans know that banks have mistreated borrowers in many ways in foreclosure cases. Among other things, they habitually filed false court documents. There were investigations. We’ve been waiting for federal and state regulators to crack down.

Prepare for a disappointment. As early as this week, federal bank regulators and the nation’s big banks are expected to close a deal that is supposed to address and correct the scandalous abuses. If these agreements are anything like the draft agreement recently published by the American Banker — and we believe they will be — they will be a wrist slap, at best. At worst, they are an attempt to preclude other efforts to hold banks accountable. They are unlikely to ease the foreclosure crisis.

All homeowners will suffer as a result. Some 6.7 million homes have already been lost in the housing bust, and another 3.3 million will be lost through 2012. The plunge in home equity — $5.6 trillion so far — hits everyone because foreclosures are a drag on all house prices.

The deals grew out of last year’s investigation into robo-signing — when banks were found to have filed false documents in foreclosure cases. The report of the investigation has not been released, but we know that robo-signing was not an isolated problem. Many other abuses are well documented: late fees that are so high that borrowers can’t catch up on late payments; conflicts of interest that lead banks to favor foreclosures over loan modifications.

The draft does not call for tough new rules to end those abuses. Or for ramped-up loan modifications. Or for penalties for past violations. Instead, it requires banks to improve the management of their foreclosure processes, including such reforms as “measures to ensure that staff are trained specifically” for their jobs. The banks will also have to adhere to a few new common-sense rules like halting foreclosures while borrowers seek loan modifications and establishing a phone number at which a person will take questions from delinquent borrowers. Some regulators have reportedly said that fines may be imposed later.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/10/opinion/10sun1.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=Banks%20Are%20Off%20the%20Hook%20Again&st=cse

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