From (Astro) Turf Wars: http://astroturfwars.org/
From (Astro) Turf Wars: http://astroturfwars.org/
By Agence France-Presse
Friday, April 15th, 2011
WASHINGTON — The Google executive who became the hero of the Egyptian revolution cropped up at the pinnacle of international finance Friday, chiding the elites for supporting strongman Hosni Mubarak.
“I actually feel like Joe the Plumber,” said Wael Ghonim, drawing laughs after his introduction on a panel at the International Monetary Fund headquarters.
The inside-America reference to a plumber whose videotaped questioning of presidential candidate Barack Obama propelled him to national fame was a savvy setup for his participation on the high-level panel on youth and jobs in the Middle East and North Africa.
Dressed in faded Levis, an open-necked striped shirt and casual loafers, Ghonim, 30, filled his billing as “Internet activist” in the roundtable discussion notably featuring IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
Ghonim, Google’s head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa, became an Internet star after administering a Facebook page that helped spark the uprising that toppled Mubarak’s regime.
“To me what was happening was a crime, not a mistake,” he said.
He branded the international institutions and the “elites” of the world “partners in crime” in supporting Mubarak’s regime.
By Michelle Chen
Apr 16, 2011
The April 14 meeting proceeded efficiently, as scheduled, for BP shareholders. For the workers, environmentalists and community members rallying in protest, though, the day of reckoning had yet to arrive.
The government and media may be moving on from aftermath of the Deepwater disaster, but the scars left behind by the spill are still raw and festering.
First, Congress has passed no legislation to prevent the kind of disaster that touched off the explosion that killed 11 workers and poured masses of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. It was nearly a year ago that Rep. George Miller of California asked at a hearing:
These are inherently dangerous working conditions. Now there is a question whether a worker has the protection to say ‘stop’ in face of danger without fear of retaliation. That is a very serious problem if that right doesn’t exist in the law.
Despite congressional hearings, official investigations into what went wrong, and heightened attention to the oil industry’s dirty deeds and culture of lax regulatory enforcement, there are so far no new laws that would prevent the catastrophe from repeating itself.
The scale of the disaster did spur some legislative action in both the House and Senate. A House bill that would strengthen occupational and environmental safety standards, tighten oversight and provide for environmental restoration has, according to Greenwire, stalled, stymied by opposition from many lawmakers to a provision that would have removed liability caps for offshore drilling companies. (A sore spot that has lingered since Exxon Mobil had its economic damages capped after its Alaska spill).
From Lezgetreal: http://networkedblogs.com/gJNZf
by Bridgette P. LaVictoire
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia does not seem to be taking the allegations that a Monsignor helped to hide the crimes of a few pedophiles all that seriously. In fact, they are asking their parishioners to donate money to help pay for his legal fees. Perhaps they would like for him to go on hiding the crimes of others as well. MyFoxPhilly.com wrote:
The bulletin is posted on its Web site at www.archphila.org .
In a statement, the church said the bulletins will provide “information about priests on administrative leave, those indicted by the Grand Jury, and the Delegate for Investigations.”
The bulletin said the church won’t pay legal fees for priest accused of abuse, but some of the priests are under investigation for other issues.
“The complaints in these cases range from potential boundary issues as outlined in the Archdiocesan Standards of Ministerial Behavior to allegations of sexual abuse. As such, it would be unfair to paint all priests currently on administrative leave with the same broad brush,” the bulletin says.
The Archdiocese also explained why it continues to pay the legal fees of Monsignor William Lynn, the former aide to Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua.
The statement says the “charges against [Lynn] relate to the position he held. Those legal fees are being paid from unrestricted funds in reserve for use at the discretion of the Archbishop. These funds come to the Archdiocese through unrestricted bequests or the sale of Archdiocesan property and not from parish collections, the Catholic Charities Appeal, nor from the Heritage of Faith—Vision of Hope Capital Campaign.”
The Roman Catholic Church has been missing the real point of the anger being felt by the people who criticize it. The problem is not pedophile priests, but the Cardinals and Monsignors who protect them from prosecution and jail. While the abuse was bad enough, the fact that many of the Catholic hierarchy have been more than willing to shuffle priests around ahead of abuse investigations, even going so far as to ship them overseas to avoid the law, has angered many people, including many parishioners, and resulted in countless more victims for these abusers than there would have been had they just called for a criminal investigation.
Monsignor Lynn is charged with criminal negligence and is accused of having covered up the crimes of two priests, a former priest and a Catholic school teacher as they passed around an eleven year old boy as their private sex toy. According to Prosecutors, Lynn transferred abusers to new parishes with schools and youth groups without warning anyone related to he parish itself.
Continue reading at: http://networkedblogs.com/gJNZf
For some reason I thought it would be easy for me to reach orgasm after I had SRS. After all I would finally feel comfortable with my body.
Instead I found I had many of the same hang ups about doing what it might take to bring myself pleasure that I had before. Well maybe not the same, insecurity about my body had replaced loathing of what I had there but I still had to learn to love my cunt and work towards obtaining my own orgasms rather than focusing solely on the pleasure of whoever I was with.
I was lucky. It was the 1970s. “Our Bodies, Ourselves.”, “Joy of Sex”, “The Cunt Coloring Book”, The Joy of Lesbian Sex”.
I was part of a speculum and mirror group where we discussed masturbation, the Hitachi Magic Wand and pulsating shower heads.
This was before the Trans-wars, the Sex Wars, and the Porn Wars. Although we were already marching in Take Back the Night, marches.
It was a time of women teaching women about their right to having sexual pleasure as well as giving sexual pleasure.
Years before there were sexperts like Annie Sprinkle, Carol Queen and Susie Bright there were women like Betty Berzon, Lonnie Barbach and Betty Dodson.
In 1982 I marched topless in leathers with Samois, the sex positive lesbian S/M organization at the San Francisco Pride Day Parade. I did so in solidarity with those who were sex positive at a time when Andrea Dworkin and Catharine A. MacKinnon were splitting not only the lesbian community but the feminist community in to pro-sex and anti-sex camps. Ostensibly the fight was about porn, yet many were concerned when the anti-porn/sex faction joined with the Christian right in formulating laws that could be used to not only censor porn but anything that dealt with sexual subjects.
Canada passed laws based on Mackennon and Dworkin model legislation. Ironically the first bookstore affected was “Little Sister” , a gay and lesbian bookstore that had books from the US seized by Canadian customs.
The Following piece is from Betty Dodson’s Blog: http://www.dodsonandross.com/blogs/betty-dodson/2011/04/porn-wars
Submitted by Betty Dodson
When it comes to creating or watching sexual material, we are still debating what is acceptable to view, create or to enjoy. The porn wars rage on while most guys secretly masturbate to what turns them on while too many women want to censor pornography. Most people will agree that sex is a very personal matter, but now that sexual imagery has become so prevalent with internet porn available on our computers 24/7, I’d say like it or not, porn is here to stay.
The fact that pornography is a multi-billion dollar industry and it was the engine that first drove the internet, that alone proves most people want to see images of sex whether they admit it or not. It wasn’t long after women’s sexual liberation got underway in the 1970’s that women turned against each other to argue whether an image was erotic or pornographic. Unfortunately this useless debate goes on to this day in spite of the fact that we cannot define or control personal taste.
My first attempt at drawing sex was a real eye opener. In 1968, I had the first one woman show of erotic art titled “The Love Picture Exhibition.” That experience raised my awareness of how many people enjoyed seeing beautiful classical drawings of couples having heterosexual intercourse and oralsex. Many drawings sold. It was my second show of masturbating nudes when all hell broke loose. Along with a media blackout, it ended my gallery affiliation and nothing sold. However, it was when I became aware of how repressed most Americans were about sexuality. My large six-foot drawing of a masturbating woman holding an electric vibrator next to her clitoris— an erect one I might add, caused women to be convinced they would become addicted if they used one. Most men felt competitive telling me they could do it better than any machine! That drawing might have been the first appearance of the clitoris in recent history. The year was 1970 when I set out to liberate female masturbation and electric vibrators.
I soon realized I needed words to go with my images and I began to learn how to write. Very quickly I was frustrated with the use of male pronouns exclusively. Friends insisted that the pronoun “he” was generic and included women, but that was Bull Shit! When anyone referred to “mankind” believe me, that’s exactly what they meant— men only. Male and female pronouns are extremely relevant.
A perfect example of this goes back in our earliest days as a new country. Abigail, John Adams wife, knew that the men drafting the Declaration leading to a new republic would explicitly define and extol the rights of men. She and several of her more educated girlfriends sent a letter requesting that the Constitution refer to persons, people, humans, or men and women instead of just men. Abigail received a response from John that was not what she had hoped for. He said she could rest assured that men knew better than to repeal their “Masculine systems.” Furious, Abigail wrote back saying if they didn’t pay attention to the Ladies, they were determined to rebel. However, it took 144 years before the brave Suffragettes finally got women the vote in 1920.
Here’s the kicker: the Equal Rights Amendment that says, simply and entirely, “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex,” has been introduced into Congress every year since 1923 but has never passed, blocked in every case by male legislators. Our far from Supreme Court has given corporations the same rights as an individual person. This has allowed Republicans to wage an all out war against women as corporations funnel money to elect the conservative Jackasses we have in Congress today.
Okay, enough politics— back to sex. I’ve always made an effort to connect with as many different people as possible in order to learn about sex by doing sex. After I fully enjoyed America’s brief outbreak of sexual freedoms that began at the end of the sixties, my glorious group sex parties allowed me to realize how many women were faking orgasms. That’s when I designed the Bodysex Groups to teach women about sex through the practice of masturbation in 1971. It was sexual consciousness raising at it’s best as we went around the circle with each woman answering my question: “How do you feel about your body and your orgasm?” We also eliminated genital shame by looking at our own vulvas and each others. Finally we learned to harness the power of the electric vibrator with the latest techniques for self-stimulation during our all women circle masturbation rituals. Those groups continued for the next 25 years.
Continue reading at: http://www.dodsonandross.com/blogs/betty-dodson/2011/04/porn-wars
From The Washington Blade: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2011/04/14/boehner-suggests-house-marriage-hearing-is-legitimate/
Apr 14, 2011
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) suggested on Thursday that an upcoming House hearing on “defending marriage” is a “legitimate” use of U.S. government funds as the subcommittee confirmed that witnesses who are set to testify include anti-gay activists.
During a news conference, Boehner made the remarks in response to a question from the Washington Blade on whether he supports the planned hearing, which is set to take place Friday before the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, and if he thinks the event is an appropriate use of federal resources.
“There are a lot of committees, a lot of hearings,” Boehner said. “As I made it clear from the beginning of this year, the committee process is important to this institution, and I think addressing any question — serious question — in American society is legitimate.”
Michael Cole-Schwartz, spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, said in response to Boehner’s remarks that the upcoming hearing will “no doubt showcase the [Republican] majority’s obsession with ensuring continued discrimination against same-sex couples.”
“They’re welcome to think that’s a legitimate way to spend their time but the vast majority of Americans will be scratching their heads wondering why House Republicans have held a third hearing in as many weeks to demonize LGBT people,” Cole-Schwartz said.
By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, April 15th, 2011
A letter from the Department of Justice, sent yesterday to Washington state Gov. Chris Gregoire (D), warned of the potential for criminal prosecutions of state employees who engage in the production of medical marijuana, which is now legally sanctioned in the state.
The message would seem to stand in stark contrast to the Obama administration’s claim that they would not prosecute medical marijuana dispensaries that were operating within a state that had legalized it.
Washington state’s legislature did just that last week, approving a bill that would allow state employees to license growers and sellers of the product, as well as retail locations.
Reacting to the bill, Gov. Chris Gregoire wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder, requesting more information on how the federal government views the matter.
The DoJ’s letter in response, written by Attorneys Jenny Durkan and Michael Ormsby, was nothing short of unambiguous.
“The prosecution of individuals and organizations involved in the trade of any illegal drugs and the disruption of drug trafficking organizations is a core priority of the Department,” they replied. “This core priority includes prosecution of business enterprises that unlawfully market and sell marijuana.”
The letter continued: “This [bill] would authorize conduct contrary to federal law and thus, would undermine the federal government’s efforts to regulate the possession, manufacturing, and trafficking of controlled substances. Accordingly, the Department could consider civil and criminal legal remedies regarding those who set up marijuana growing facilities and dispensaries as they will be doing so in violation of federal law. Others who knowingly facilitate the actions of the licensees, including property owners, landlords, and financiers should also know that their conduct violates federal law. In addition, state employees who conducted activities mandated by the Washington legislative proposals would not be immune from liability under the CSA.”
Gulf coast workers and green activists barred
Investors also grill board over Rosneft controversy
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 14 April 2011 20.17 BST
Activists wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan “No Tar Sands”, in protest against BP’s oil extraction operations in Canada, were dragged out of the ExCeL Centre in London as they tried to stage a demonstration. A group of fishermen and women from the Gulf coast who say their livelihoods have been destroyed by the oil spill that followed the explosion of BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig last April were denied entry to the meeting despite holding proxy documents for the event which should have allowed them in.
A quarter of investors voted against the re-election of BP’s safety committee in a damning indictment of the recent record of accidents.
The meeting also saw the board grilled over its delayed £10bn share-swap and exploration deal with Russian state-controlled oil company Rosneft. BP said it had been given a one-month extension to hold further talks over the troubled joint venture.
The protesters had flown in from the US to draw attention to what they say is evidence that the Gulf continues to be badly affected by last year’s spill. Louisiana fisherwoman Diane Wilson was arrested for breach of the peace after she smeared herself in an oil-like substance as she tried to gain access to the conference centre.
During a tense meeting, BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg tried to prevent Antonia Juhasz, an activist promoting a book about the Gulf spill, from reading a statement from Keith Jones, whose son Gordon was one of the 11 workers to die when the Deepwater Horizon exploded.
By Steven Edwards, Postmedia News
April 13, 2011
UNITED NATIONS — Bolivia will this month table a draft United Nations treaty giving “Mother Earth” the same rights as humans — having just passed a domestic law that does the same for bugs, trees and all other natural things in the South American country.
The bid aims to have the UN recognize the Earth as a living entity that humans have sought to “dominate and exploit” — to the point that the “well-being and existence of many beings” is now threatened.
The wording may yet evolve, but the general structure is meant to mirror Bolivia’s Law of the Rights of Mother Earth, which Bolivian President Evo Morales enacted in January.
That document speaks of the country’s natural resources as “blessings,” and grants the Earth a series of specific rights that include rights to life, water and clean air; the right to repair livelihoods affected by human activities; and the right to be free from pollution.
It also establishes a Ministry of Mother Earth, and provides the planet with an ombudsman whose job is to hear nature’s complaints as voiced by activist and other groups, including the state.
“If you want to have balance, and you think that the only (entities) who have rights are humans or companies, then how can you reach balance?” Pablo Salon, Bolivia’s ambassador to the UN, told Postmedia News. “But if you recognize that nature too has rights, and (if you provide) legal forms to protect and preserve those rights, then you can achieve balance.”
The application of the law appears destined to pose new challenges for companies operating in the country, which is rich in natural resources, including natural gas and lithium, but remains one of the poorest in Latin America.
From Sea Shepherd: http://www.seashepherd.org/news-and-media/news-110408-1.html
Friday, April 08, 2011
The barbarian butchers of the Danish Protectorate of the Faeroe Islands have begun their ghastly slaughter early this year with the bloody slaughter of 60 defenseless pilot whales. In a world where civilized nations come to the rescue of stranded whales, the one place on the planet that demonstrates no mercy is this group of islands situated between Scotland and Iceland.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society will be taking our ships to the Faeroes this summer to once again intervene to defend the whales from the thugs who slash, stab, and club these beautiful socially complex, sentient creatures.
Not all the Faeroese are heartless, however. A few brave souls are speaking out in opposition to their sadistic countrymen, and one of our supporters in the Faeroes sent us the photos in this update this morning. The supporter who sent these photos commented, “I wish that Sea Shepherd was here. The killing was not quick and some whales took one to two minutes to die…terrible to watch.”
Slaughter has begun in the Ferocious IslesSea Shepherd has gone to the Faeroes in the past, but this time we return stronger, better equipped, and more experienced than ever and we are returning with a technology that will serve the whales well this summer. In the meantime, until our ships can reach the bloody drenched shores of the Ferocious Isles, the butchers will have free reign to torment and inflict a vicious slaughter to entire families of gentle, wondrous cetaceans.
The Faeroes receive all the benefits of the European Union but consider themselves exempt from the laws of the European Union. The slaughter of the pilot whales is a violation of the Berne Convention. Iceland cannot join the European Union until they stop killing whales, yet the Faeroes are given an exemption by Denmark. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has joined forces with the Brigitte Bardot Foundation in Europe to bring the Faeroes into compliance with the laws of Europe.
Continue reading at: http://www.seashepherd.org/news-and-media/news-110408-1.html
The war on contraception and general sexual health care is just heating up, and liberals best be prepared for more battles over contraception access and funding in the future.
By Amanda Marcotte
April 13, 2011
If it hadn’t actually happened, it would have been too strange to believe: the federal government of the most powerful nation on the earth almost shut down over birth control pills and HIV tests. In fact, even though it did happen, the implausibility of it caused many major news organizations to slip into denial. The New York Times, for instance, inaccurately characterized the fight as being over “abortion funding,” even though the funds in dispute could not be used for abortion, which is a lot like calling your rent check your “drinking money.”
But many in the pro-choice community were not surprised that denying men and women access to STD testing, birth control and cancer screenings would be the thing the Republican party took a stand on during budget negotiations. (I predicted the budget shutdown would come over this specific issue back in February.) Frankly, the Republican war on contraception and general sexual health care is just heating up, and liberals best be prepared for more battles over contraception access and funding in the future. This is because anti-contraception sentiment has become mainstream in the Republican party, despite the fact that Republicans such as Richard Nixon and George Bush played a major role in supporting early initiatives to expand contraception access (although they did so for population control reasons, not for pro-feminist reasons).
How did it come to pass that fighting contraception access has become such a major issue for Republicans? Republicans have generally been vociferous on the issue of abortion, but mostly silent on the topic of contraception, a politically savvy move in a country where more than 99 percent of sexually active women have used contraception. Getting Republicans to move to the right on sexual health care besides abortion has been an uphill battle for the hardcore anti-choice movement, but despite efforts such as holding annual rallies to protest legal contraception and screaming their heads off at Republican politicians who support vaccinating young women against HPV, they haven’t really gotten much in return. They got abstinence-only education and a few pharmacists denying women their birth control prescriptions, but mostly, Republicans weren’t doing much to keep women from getting contraception.
But within the space of a year, Republicans went from passively ignoring the anti-contraception demands of the far right to making the issue a number one priority. Suddenly you have Rush Limbaugh, lover of Viagra and serial marriage, agreeing that the only form of birth control he finds acceptable is closing your legs. The conservative blogosphere came out with full-throated support for the argument that healthy sex should only be a luxury for those who can pay for it. And of course, you had the entire Republican party moving on this newfound hatred of contraception, and using it to nearly shut down the federal government. True, the word “abortion” was frequently invoked in justifying these attacks, but the actual funds in question were only for non-abortion care, and at least one organization under attack, the UNFPA, doesn’t provide abortion at all.
Dropping the word “abortion” was mainly about pandering to the non-partisan press, however. On the right, key to making these anti-contraception sentiments mainstream in the Republican party was to argue that contraception subsidies are a form of sexual welfare, allowing poor women to screw on the government dime. Associating Planned Parenthood with already-marginalized people strengthened the narrative.
From The Liberal Conspiracy UK: http://tinyurl.com/3sk3lat
by Sunny Hundal
April 15, 2011 at 4:06 pm
The National Secular Society sent out a press release yesterday blasting the decision by the London Borough of Richmond to award a huge contract worth £89,000 to the Catholic Children’s Society to “help and support students in the borough’s schools.”
As PoliticsHome points out today, CCS recently withdrew from adoption services due to opposition to the Government’s sexual orientations regulations.
Councillor Stephen Knight, leader of Richmond’s Liberal Democrat group, said at a meeting on Tuesday that pupils who want advice on issues such as homosexuality or sexual health may be reluctant to ask a group that “requires counsellors to uphold the Catholic ethos”.
This decision beggars belief. Counselling services for young people have to address issues such as contraception, unwanted pregnancy and homophobic bullying and the appointment of a religious group to provide these services on behalf of the Council is totally inappropriate.
And who lost out? A local charity Off The Record (link fixed), which also had the backing of national counselling charity Relate, and has been providing counselling to teenagers for over 20 years.
Terry Sanderson of the NSS said:
What on earth was the council thinking about in appointing such a partisan and dogmatic organisation to provide counselling and support services? The Catholic Children’s Society went so far as to dump its adoption service because of the Government’s insistence that they consider gay couples as adopters. So what kind of reception would a gay child get if it came to one of their counsellors for advice?
What sort of advice would a specifically Catholic agency with an instruction to uphold Catholic teaching tell a girl who came to them for contraceptive advice? Surely the council could have found a non-sectarian service that wouldn’t pose these sorts of problems?
Continue reading at: http://tinyurl.com/3sk3lat
From RH Reality Check: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2011/04/14/hypocrisy-informed-consent
By Angi Becker Stevens
April 15, 2011
Like most people, I don’t spend much time going through my state’s legislative website, reading the actual language of our state laws. When researching the recently proposed abortion restrictions here in Michigan, though, I felt compelled to read the actual abortion regulations as they currently stand—not just a summary, but the actual word of the law. I expected something cold and formal; legal language offering at least a surface-level impression of impartiality. So I was surprised to find, instead, that even the word of the law is actually dripping with rhetoric—and specifically, that it’s nauseatingly constructed on the premise of being “pro-woman.”
Here in Michigan (and I’m sure similar wording exists in many states), our law reads:
“The knowledgeable exercise of a woman’s decision to have an abortion depends on the extent to which the woman receives sufficient information to make an informed choice regarding abortion,”
“The decision to obtain an abortion is an important and often stressful one, and it is in the state’s interest that the decision be made with full knowledge of its nature and consequences,”
Continue reading at: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2011/04/14/hypocrisy-informed-consent