UK cops arrest professor for planning ‘zombie wedding,’ mock execution during royal ceremony

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/04/29/uk-cops-arrest-professor-for-planning-zombie-wedding-mock-execution-during-royal-ceremony/

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, April 29th, 2011

Over a dozen British police officers engaged in a “pre-crime” arrest of a university professor and a street theater group yesterday, in what activists called a “Minority Report”-style crackdown ahead of the royal wedding.

Professor Chris Knight, 68, a former anthropology lecturer at the University of East London, had planned to engage in a bit of street theater with a group of activists that were dressed in medieval garb. According to reports, the group had constructed a fake guillotine and planned to stage a mock execution of Prince Andrew Edward, the queen’s second oldest son.

A member of the group who was not arrested told The Guardian that the other two activists police roped in were Camilla Power and Patrick Macroidan.

The police apparently learned of the activists’ plans through surveillance methods, then staged the arrest outside Knight’s home in south east London last night, before the wedding got underway.

A police spokesman told The Guardian they were arrested on the charge of “suspicion of conspiracy to cause public nuisance and breach of the peace.”

The group, Meltdown UK, had been planning a “Zombie Wedding” to mark the royals’ festivities.

Continue reading at: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/04/29/uk-cops-arrest-professor-for-planning-zombie-wedding-mock-execution-during-royal-ceremony/

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Policing Pregnancy

From The Nation: http://www.thenation.com/article/160092/policing-pregnancy

Michelle Goldberg
April 21, 2011

Utah prosecutors and conservative politicians are determined to lock up the young woman known in court filings as J.M.S. for the crime of trying to end her pregnancy. Her grim journey through the legal system began in 2009, when she was 17 and pregnant by a convicted felon named Brandon Gale, who is currently facing charges of using her and another underage girl to make pornography. J.M.S. lived in a house without electricity or running water in a remote part of Utah. Even if she could have obtained the required parental consent and scraped together money for an abortion and a couple of nights in a hotel to comply with Utah’s twenty-four-hour waiting period, simply getting to the nearest clinic posed an enormous challenge. Salt Lake City is more than a three-hour drive from her town, twice that in bad weather, when snow makes the mountain passes treacherous. There is no public transportation, and she didn’t have a driver’s license.

And so, according to prosecutors, in May 2009, in her third trimester and desperate, J.M.S. paid a stranger $150 to beat her in the hope of inducing a miscarriage. The assault failed to end her pregnancy, but that didn’t stop police from charging her with criminal solicitation of murder. The juvenile court judge who heard her case, however, tossed it out on the grounds that her actions were legal under the state’s definition of abortion.

Local abortion opponents were outraged that J.M.S. had been freed. “It revealed an extreme weakness in the law, that a pregnant woman could do anything she wanted to do—it did not matter how grotesque or brutal—all the way up until the date of birth to kill her unborn child,” said Carl Wimmer, a state representative. He led a successful campaign to amend Utah’s abortion law so that as of last year, women who end their pregnancies outside the medical system can be prosecuted as killers. “We will be the only state in the nation that will do what we’re attempting to do here: hold a woman accountable for killing her unborn child,” Wimmer told the Salt Lake Tribune.

He’s wrong. In recent years, women in several states have faced arrest and imprisonment for the crime of ending their pregnancies, or merely attempting to do so. For decades now, feminists have warned about a post–Roe v. Wade world in which women are locked up for having abortions. Antiabortion activists dismiss such fears as propaganda. “The pro-life position has always been that women are victimized by abortion,” says the Priests for Life website, which has a page of sample letters to the editor meant to refute claims that abortion bans could lead to women being prosecuted. “In fact, we have repeatedly rejected the suggestion that women should be put in jail, much less executed.” But as abortion rights weaken and fetuses are endowed with a separate legal identity, women are being put in jail.

Continue reading at: http://www.thenation.com/article/160092/policing-pregnancy

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Until Death Us Do Part: Wedded to Wealth We Don’t Have

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/04/27-4

by Donna Smith
Published on Wednesday, April 27, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

Perhaps it’s the media fever over the Royal wedding in Great Britain or perhaps it’s my own disgust about hearing that Exxon Mobil makes $100M a day in profits, but either way I am pretty certain many Americans would rather go to their deaths believing in fairy tales than fighting reality.

Most of us will never celebrate weddings like that of William and Kate and most of us will never make $1,000 a day in profits much less a million or 10 million or $100M. I think we all get that somehow – even if we watch and wonder and even sometimes plan how we would spend our millions.

But I also know a significant number of people who really believe they are somehow closer to having those millions and being among the ultra-wealthy. And many who believe and even convince themselves to identify with the ultra-rich actually live paycheck-to-paycheck or worse. It’s an interesting cultural phenomenon that is an extremely effective way for those who actually have the money and power to control those of us who do not. Sometimes the control is quite direct when owners and bosses hold power over our jobs, and other times the control is more subtle as corporations, advertisers and the news media create images and imaginings of what it means to be a success in America in 2011.

It is mind control and action control on steroids that makes millions and millions of Americans trust their lives to those who value them so little.

Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/04/27-4

U.S. Department of Labor Policy on Equal Employment Opportunity

http://www.dol.gov/oasam/programs/crc/crc-internal/eeo.htm

Secretary of Labor
Washington, D.C. 20210

As the Secretary of Labor, I am expressing my personal commitment to ensuring that DOL is a workplace free from unlawful discrimination and harassment; fostering a work environment that fully utilizes the capabilities of every employee; and achieving and maintaining a high quality, diverse workforce at all organizational levels throughout the Department.

It is the policy of this Department to provide equal employment opportunity for all employees and applicants for DOL employment regardless of race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy and gender identity), national origin, age, disability, genetic information, parental status, and sexual orientation; to promote the full realization of equal employment opportunity through a continuing affirmative program where all employees have the freedom to compete on a fair and level playing field; and to maintain a workplace free of discriminatory practices and policies. In addition, it is the Department’s policy to safeguard all employees’ exercise of their rights under civil rights statutes. Accordingly, DOL prohibits all of its managers, supervisors, and employees from retaliating against any person because that person has opposed a practice made unlawful by or participated in any stage of administrative or judicial proceedings under relevant employment discrimination laws.

I am equally committed to ensuring that the Department, as the Government’s lead organization for disability employment policy, meets or exceeds the government-wide goal regarding the employment of individuals with disabilities, including our Nation’s wounded soldiers and other disabled Veterans. In support of this pledge, the Department must provide effective reasonable accommodations that will enable qualified employees with disabilities to perform the essential functions of their jobs and enjoy benefits and privileges of employment that are equal to those enjoyed by other DOL employees.

To ensure that the Department’s actual practices adhere to the requirements articulated in this policy, the Civil Rights Center (CRC), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management, will oversee compliance with this policy and with the affirmative employment and nondiscrimination provisions of all applicable laws, statutes, regulations, and executive orders. In addition, each DOL agency shall conduct periodic self-assessments to identify potential barriers to equal opportunity; include EEO-related goals, including specific actions to address any barriers identified in its annual report to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission; enhance accountability by including an EEO element in the performance standards of every DOL manager and supervisor; ensure that its managers and employees comply with EEO training requirements established by CRC; widely publicize this policy and the procedures available for filing complaints that allege violations of this policy; take swift and appropriate action to remedy any violation of this policy, including discipline of any DOL manager, supervisor, or employee found to have violated this policy; and provide full support to DOL’s internal programs related to nondiscrimination, equal opportunity, and diversity.

Each and every one of us must do our part to protect and advance the principles of equal employment opportunity at the Department by following this EEO policy. Working together in this endeavor, we will cultivate an environment that is diverse, inclusive, and free of discrimination, and that maximizes our ability to advance the Department’s mission.

Hilda L. Solis
Secretary of Labor
April 2011

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The Republican Threat to Voting

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/27/opinion/27wed1.html?_r=3&hp

Editorial
April 26, 2011

Less than a year before the 2012 presidential voting begins, Republican legislatures and governors across the country are rewriting voting laws to make it much harder for the young, the poor and African-Americans — groups that typically vote Democratic — to cast a ballot.

Spreading fear of a nonexistent flood of voter fraud, they are demanding that citizens be required to show a government-issued identification before they are allowed to vote. Republicans have been pushing these changes for years, but now more than two-thirds of the states have adopted or are considering such laws. The Advancement Project, an advocacy group of civil rights lawyers, correctly describes the push as “the largest legislative effort to scale back voting rights in a century.”

Anyone who has stood on the long lines at a motor vehicle office knows that it isn’t easy to get such documents. For working people, it could mean giving up a day’s wages.

A survey by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law found that 11 percent of citizens, 21 million people, do not have a current photo ID. That fraction increases to 15 percent of low-income voting-age citizens, 18 percent of young eligible voters and 25 percent of black eligible voters. Those demographic groups tend to vote Democratic, and Republicans are imposing requirements that they know many will be unable to meet.

Kansas’ new law was drafted by its secretary of state, Kris Kobach, who also wrote Arizona’s anti-immigrant law. Voters will be required to show a photo ID at the polls. Before they can register, Kansans will have to produce a proof of citizenship, such as a birth certificate.

Tough luck if you don’t happen to have one in your pocket when you’re at the county fair and you pass the voter registration booth. Or when the League of Women Voters brings its High School Registration Project to your school cafeteria. Or when you show up at your dorm at the University of Kansas without your birth certificate. Sorry, you won’t be voting in Lawrence, and probably not at all.

Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/27/opinion/27wed1.html?_r=3&hp

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Racist Republican Sally Kern: Minorities Earn Less Because They Don’t Work As Hard

And people think I’m rude when I call them Republi-Nazis….

I’d like to sentence her to a year working at one of those infamous chicken processing plants, plucking and gutting chickens for less than a living wage. Then she might be force to rethink her Kochsucking rich elitist/racist pig ideology.

From The Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/28/sally-kern-affirmative-action_n_854936.html

First Posted: 04/28/11

Oklahoma state Rep. Sally Kern, a Republican, made questionable remarks in the wake of a measure seeking to ban affirmative action programs advancing in the state, Tulsa World reports.

According to the local outlet:

Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, said minorities earn less than white people because they don’t work as hard and have less initiative.“We have a high percentage of blacks in prison, and that’s tragic, but are they in prison just because they are black or because they don’t want to study as hard in school? I’ve taught school, and I saw a lot of people of color who didn’t study hard because they said the government would take care of them.”

In light of the proposed constitutional amendment in question clearing the state House of Representatives on Wednesday evening, the GOP lawmaker also suggested women earn less than their male counterparts because they generally spend more time in the home.

The AP recently reported on the legislation:

The measure [will] put on the 2012 election ballot a provision that the state may not grant preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, color, sex, ethnicity or national origin. The ban would apply to public employment, education and contracting.Opponents say the proposal targets a non-existent problem. Several Democrats contend the bill is an attempt to use race to generate fear and draw conservative white voters to the polls.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/28/sally-kern-affirmative-action_n_854936.html

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Johnson & Johnson Turns Its Back on AIDS Patients

Press release: From Doctors Without Borders: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/press/release.cfm?id=5209&cat=press-release&v=2

Pharma Giant’s Refusal to Participate in Patent Pool Undermines Access to Key AIDS Drugs

New York, NY, April 25, 2011—Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson is putting the lives of people living with HIV at stake by refusing to participate in the Medicines Patent Pool, a mechanism designed to lower prices of HIV medicines and increase access to them for people in the developing world, said the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) today.

TELL JOHNSON & JOHNSON TO JOIN THE PATENT POOL


Letter to Johnson & Johnson CEO Regarding the Company’s Failure to Put Urgently Needed AIDS Drugs in the Medicines Patent Pool

Download Letter [115 KB]

Johnson & Johnson, which holds patents on three key new HIV drugs desperately needed throughout the developing world, has so far refused to license these patents to the Medicines Patent Pool. The Pool has been set up to increase access to more affordable versions of HIV drugs, including fixed-dose combinations that include multiple medicines in one pill, and to develop much-needed pediatric HIV drugs.The Pool would license patents on HIV drugs to other manufacturers and the resulting competition would dramatically reduce prices, making them much more affordable in the developing world. However, since the Pool is voluntary it will only work if patent holders like Johnson & Johnson choose to participate.

“High prices mean patients in poor countries continue to be relegated to second-class care, with no choice but to take older, more toxic drugs we would no longer use in the U.S., and with almost no treatment options when the virus becomes resistant to the limited number of drugs available,” said Sophie Delaunay, executive director of MSF-USA. “By putting its HIV drug patents in the pool, Johnson & Johnson has a unique opportunity to transform this situation and save lives worldwide. Instead, it has chosen to turn its back on these patients.”

Johnson & Johnson holds patents on HIV medicines rilpivirine, darunavir, and etravirine. Rilpivirine is a promising antiretroviral (ARV) under development for use in first-line treatment regimens. Darunavir and etravirine are important for patients who have developed resistance to their existing treatment.

Patent Pools Explained

Even at Johnson & Johnson’s so-called reduced “access” pricing, the cost of these drugs is prohibitive; darunavir is priced at $1,095 per patient per year, and etravirine at $913 per patient per year in the world’s least-developed countries, most of which are in sub-Saharan Africa. Many developing countries have to pay even higher prices.

In December 2010, the National Institutes of Health, which holds the intellectual property rights for a manufacturing process for darunavir, put its patent for the AIDS drug in the patent pool. Johnson & Johnson holds the drug’s remaining patents, and is effectively blocking other companies from manufacturing and making darunavir available at prices affordable for patients in the developing world.

There are now more than six million people receiving lifesaving ARV treatment worldwide. This would have been impossible without competition from generic companies that helped bring prices down from $10,000 per patient per year for the most commonly used first line regimen, to less than $100 per patient per year. Today, mechanisms in international law and additional voluntary initiatives such as the Medicines Patent Pool will be crucial to ensuring that patients have access to newer, less toxic medicines to keep them alive. Several drug companies have already begun negotiating with the pool.

MSF now provides treatment to more than 170,000 people living with HIV worldwide, and is beginning to witness the inevitable, natural phenomenon of treatment failure, in which patients everywhere develop resistance to treatment and need to graduate to newer regimens. This is happening now in MSF’s longest running HIV projects, in South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, and Cameroon.

“We have patients who have no other treatment options other than Johnson & Johnson’s darunavir, which is so expensive that the South African government cannot afford it,” said Dr. Gilles van Cutsem, medical coordinator for MSF programs in South Africa and Lesotho. “MSF is now paying for these drugs, but this is just the beginning of the problem. Ten years after we put the first patients on antiretroviral treatment, we now have patients in our clinics who have become resistant to drugs available at affordable prices. We’ll soon be back in a situation where we’ll have to say there are drugs in the private sector, or in rich countries, that could treat you, but we cannot afford them.”

Supreme Court rules that companies can block class-action lawsuits

Time to impeach some Supreme Court Judges for conflict of interest.  Thomas for one and Scalia for another.  You can’t take money from the corporations and be unbiased.

Time to end Corporate Personhood.

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/04/28/supreme-court-rules-that-companies-can-block-class-action-lawsuits/

By Reuters
Thursday, April 28th, 2011 — 9:19 am

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday handed businesses such as AT&T Inc a major victory by upholding the use of arbitration for customer disputes rather than allowing claims to be brought together as a group.

By a 5-4 vote, the high court ruled that an AT&T unit could enforce a provision in its customer contracts requiring individual arbitration and preventing the pooling together of claims into a class-action lawsuit or class-wide arbitration.

The plaintiffs, Vincent and Liza Concepcion, filed their class-action lawsuit in 2006, claiming they were improperly charged about $30 in sales taxes on cellphones that the AT&T Mobility wireless unit had advertised as free.

AT&T, the No. 2 U.S. mobile service, was backed in the case by a number of other companies and by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce business group, while consumer and civil rights groups supported the California couple.

Companies generally prefer arbitration as a less expensive way of settling consumer disputes, as opposed to costly class actions, which allow customers to band together and can result in large monetary awards.

Customer arbitration agreements are widely used by cellphone carriers, cable providers, credit card companies, stock brokerage firms and other businesses.

Vanderbilt University law professor Brian Fitzpatrick said it may be the most important class action case ever decided by the Supreme Court.

“Because companies can ask all of their consumers, employees, and perhaps even shareholders to sign arbitration agreements, this decision has the potential to permit companies to escape class action liability in almost all of their activities,” he said.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/04/28/supreme-court-rules-that-companies-can-block-class-action-lawsuits/

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GOP reps run from voters on Social Security, Medicare

From People’s World: http://www.peoplesworld.org/gop-reps-run-from-voters-on-social-security-medicare/

by: John Wojcik
April 28 2011

Facing constituents angry about GOP plans to kill Medicare and slash Social Security, Republican lawmakers across the country are screening questions ahead of time at town hall meetings, holding “invitation only” gatherings, or deciding not to meet with voters at all.

Following an embarrassing meeting with constituents that was televised nationally, House budget chair Paul Ryan had to face angry voters at a second town hall in his Kenosha, Wis., district this week.

As he entered he had to make his way through a crowd of protesters chanting, “Ryan stop lying!” and then people in the capacity crowd interrupted him as he tried to defend his budget plan.

“If you’re yelling, I just want you to leave,” Ryan told his constituents. “We’ve got media here. Let’s prove to them that Wisconsinites can be cordial to one another.”

Reporters were unable to interview Ryan after the meeting because he slipped out a different door than the one where he had entered and drove away in a vehicle different from the one in which he had arrived.

Similar scenes are taking place at other Republican town halls, including in key states like Pennsylvania and Florida.

GOP freshman Rep. Daniel Webster’s town hall meeting in Orlando, Fla., April 26 was a case in point. Webster tried to use charts and graphs to explain the Republican budget he voted for, but he could barely be heard over angry shouts about the GOP Medicare-gutting proposal.

Continue reading at:  http://www.peoplesworld.org/gop-reps-run-from-voters-on-social-security-medicare/

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Ron Paul: End Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid

I wouldn’t vote for Ron Paul for anything.  Aside from the fact that Ron Paul is an insane Galt-hole there is the matter of his homophobia and misogyny.

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Iowa Republicans want to ban transsexual/intersex marriage completely

From Meghan Stabler: http://www.facebook.com/#!/notes/meghan-stabler/iowa-republicans-want-to-ban-transsexualintersex-marriage-completely/10150568645270475

By Meghan Stabler
April 28, 2011

Reposted with permission

As the fight continues here in Texas to block SB 723 a bill that would remove a court order acknowledging “sex-change” as proof of evidence for obtaining a marriage license I was stunned to learn that the IOWA Republican Party wish to legislate that Transsexual/Intersex (Transgender) Iowan’s can never marry.

Not only does the Plank in the Iowa Republican Party Platform want to ensure that same-sex marriage will never be allowed in the state but they also have this…

6.03 We support an amendment to both the U. S. and Iowa constitutions that states that all marriages should be traditional one natural male and one natural female, omitting transgendered.

What else are they trying to instill based on their “principles” for Family Values?

 We believe that the basis of our laws and our founding documents are rooted in Judeo-Christian values. We believe every human being should have the inalienable right to life regardless of age or degree of dependency including human beings from conception. We believe the family is the cornerstone of society; a traditional two-parent family of one man and one woman is the best environment to raise children.

6.01 We believe that traditional, two-parent (one male and one female), marriage based families are foundational to a stable, enduring and healthy civilization. Therefore, policy must always be pro-family in nature, encouraging marital and family commitment, and supportive of parental rights and responsibilities.

6.02 We call for the repeal of sexual orientation in the Iowa Civil Rights Code and we oppose any other legislation or executive order granting rights, privileges, or status for persons based on sexual orientation.

6.03 We support an amendment to both the U. S. and Iowa constitutions that states that all marriages should be traditional one natural male and one natural female, omitting transgendered.

6.04 We support allowing the electorate to vote on the marriage amendment.

6.05 We support a Concurrent Resolution of the U.S. Congress asserting its Constitutional authority to limit the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in the following manner: “Pursuant to Section 2 of Article III of the Constitution of the United States, Congress has the sole and exclusive power to make regulations and exceptions to the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. Accordingly, effective this date, the Congress of the United States denies the Supreme Court appellate jurisdiction over cases relating to marriage.”

6.06 We oppose the State of Iowa, its Courts, and its political subdivisions creating or recognizing a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals.

6.07 We favor improvement, strengthening, and simplification of adoption laws, and oppose adoption by homosexuals.

And elsewhere in the Platform:

4.40 We oppose the teaching of homosexual behavior as a normal or acceptable lifestyle in our public schools.

4.41 We believe that sexual orientation should not be allowed to be a basis for any school clubs, such as the Gay Straight Alliance, at any level of the public school system.

4.42 We oppose the “Bullying Law”.

10.16 We support repeal of state and federal “hate crimes” legislation.

11.08 We support “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.”

Let’s Admit the Truth About American Royals

Only six percent of the American people give a shit about the wedding of two over privilege welfare brats from the UK.  Yet the supermarket tabloids and mags are all front cover peddling the spectacle of this wedding.  Why?  Because  corporate advertisers paid big buck for advertising to run during the coverage that the media corporations paid big bucks to cover.

Wake up folks.  It is junk food for the mind.  Crap to divert your attention from the rich right wing elite who are ass fucking you.

I was appalled when Stephanie Miller came on the Ed Schultz show the other night and desperately pleaded with people to care and watch.

I tell you what I would pay to watch, French Revolution of 1789 redux with modern real life cast of the royals and the rich in a reality show, where each week the elite scum vote which one of their class faces the firing squad.

From Laura Flanders Grit TV: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/04/28-6

by Laura Flanders
Published on Thursday, April 28, 2011 by GRITtv

According to polls, only about 6 percent of Americans are following with any close attention the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.  But that’s not stopping the media fascination on both sides of the Atlantic with American’s supposed fascination with Britain’s royals.

“Royal wedding reminds us why we tossed Brits,” ran one letter to a local paper recently. That exorbitant $80 million spent on a medieval style ritual in time of 21st century austerity. It’s shameful. It’s old world. It’s just what Americans fought a revolutionary war to throw off.

And then there are the folks like Rupert Cornwall at the UK Independent who argue hat people in the US love British royals precisely because they don’t have their own real thing.  Gary Younge at the Nation noted that even his liberal friends wanted to know what he, a British citizen, thought of the prince marrying a “commoner.” Oh please.

The only serious and in fact actually quite insidious part about this is that it re-inscribes the notion that the US has no  class.

Really? When the top one percent of wealthiest Americans own 34 percent of the country’s wealth and enjoyed 80 percent of the total increase in wealth here between 1980 and 2005? No class?

As for ruling class? In the UK the commoners keep their royals on welfare. Here we do the same with our corporations. Billions in tax dollars keep them afloat and keep CEOs in mansions. Why not just give them palaces? At least we could keep them open for tours.

Since the Supreme Court has given corporations free speech rights and personhood — how about marriage equality next?

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/04/28-6

Prop H8 Supporters Contest Ruling On Grounds Judge Has Same-Sex Partner

They ask, “How can a gay man act impartially upon a law denying him equality?”

The answer:  “With every bit as much impartiality as a straight person who wishes to deny a minority group equality.”

In truth a minority groups equal rights should never be put to the vote.  Particularly if that minority group is as the late Thurgood Marshall put it, “Despised, discriminated against and dispossessed.”

From Talking Points Memo: http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/04/prop_8_supporters_contest_ruling_because_judge_is.php?ref=fpb

Jillian Rayfield
April 26, 2011

Supporters of Proposition 8, California’s ballot-approved ban on same-sex marriage, filed a motion this week contesting Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling that the ban is unconstitutional, because he’s gay man who may have wished to marry his partner.

In August of last year, Judge Walker, now retired, ruled that the 2008 voter initiative banning gay marriage is unconstitutional, because Prop 8 “fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.”

In a filing with the District Court on Monday, the “Yes On 8” campaign argued that Walker should have recused himself from presiding over the case because he has a longtime same-sex partner — whom he may someday wish to marry. This, the filing says, means that Walker went against “the judiciary’s strict fidelity to the ancient maxim that ‘no man can be a judge in his own case and no man is permitted to try cases where he has an interest in the outcome.'”

“Given that Chief Judge Walker was in a committed, long-term, same-sex relationship
throughout this case (and for many years before the case commenced),” the filing said, “it is clear that his ‘impartiality might reasonably [have been] questioned’ from the outset’.”

The “Yes On 8” campaign also emphasized that it’s not that they’d object to every gay or lesbian judge from presiding over the case — only those that may want to get married one day.

Continue reading at: http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/04/prop_8_supporters_contest_ruling_because_judge_is.php?ref=fpb

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The Official Justin Vivian Bond

There is an interesting article about Justin Vivian Bond in the latest issue of Out Magazine.

I have always thought Bond was an interesting performer who took her performances beyond the usual tired miming to some diva’s performance.

Some times I get called an elitist for pointing out that there is a difference between TS and TG that isn’t really one of degree. This disturbs many who think that equality of rights, dignity, respect requires us to all be the same and meet some fictional standard sold to us by the media as “mainstream”.

I find the “mainstream” to be boring, I actually like people who are different, iconoclasts, talented and honest.

From Out Magazine: http://www.out.com/detail.asp?id=30031

By Mike Albo
Mon Apr 11 2011

Justin Vivian Bond — artist, songwriter, chanteuse — comes down from her East Village apartment to meet me. He is wearing a casual black ensemble and her soft hair is done in a
reddish tinted bob.
Him? Her? He? She? I’ve known Bond for nearly two decades, and have never felt like I had to classify her as one gender. But I have never written about him. Now here I am, assigned to profile the magnetic performer during the release of her debut album, Dendrophile, and suddenly the English language seems really narrow-minded. Fortunately, a note on Bond’s website provides a guide:

PREFIX: MX
PRONOUN: V
GENDER: TRANS OR T
FULL NAME: MX JUSTIN VIVIAN BOND

Defining Justin Bond’s gender is no less difficult than figuring out what makes the 47-year-old performer’s cabaret act so compelling. It can be hilarious, heart-wrenching, vulnerable, sardonic, Wiccan, and world-weary all at the same time.

Whether singing about the ancient gender-variant priests, the Galli, as Bond did in the 2010 show Re:Galli Blonde (A Sissy Fix), or performing as Kiki DuRane alongside Kenny Mellman’s Herb as the tragic, washed-up lounge act Kiki and Herb, which launched them both into international notoriety, there is something powerfully both about the performer: masculine/feminine, mordant/fabulous, comic/tragic.

Continue reading at:   http://www.out.com/detail.asp?id=30031

How Wall Street Thieves, Led by Goldman Sachs, Took Down the Global Economy — Their Outsized Influence Must be Stopped

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/economy/150741/how_wall_street_thieves%2C_led_by_goldman_sachs%2C_took_down_the_global_economy_–_their_outsized_influence_must_be_stopped/

If we don’t bust up Big Finance, there soon will be another financial crisis that will destroy what’s left of our middle-class way of life.

By Les Leopold
April 25, 2011

For all the damning evidence you’ll ever need about Wall Street corruption, take a look at the recent report from the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, “Wall Street and the Financial Crisis: An Anatomy of a Financial Collapse” (PDF). The 650-page indictment reveals the myriad of ways Wall Street lies, cheats, steals and defrauds on a routine basis. Arguably the report is as revealing as the Nixon tapes or the Pentagon Papers. Unfortunately, it’s too technical to get widely read. So here are the Cliff Notes.

This study, broken into four case studies, forms a biblical tale of how toxic mortgages were born, nurtured and spread like the plague throughout the land, making money for the financial philistines every step of the way.

The first case study focuses on Washington Mutual (WaMu), the nation’s largest savings bank, and its overt strategic decision to go big into selling high risk, high profit mortgages. Here you will find a detailed description of every type of dangerous mortgage foisted onto the public. Your blood pressure also will climb when you read how the bank used focus groups to help its mortgage brokers find better ways to sucker customers into risky mortgages even though the applicants had qualified for and wanted safer fixed-rate mortgages.

The report also details outright fraud committed by brokers – forging documents, making phony loans, stealing money – who then got rewarded again and again by the bank for their high sales records, even after they were caught! Nobody cared because the loans quickly were sold to Wall Street – the riskier the loan, the higher the interest rates and the more Wall Street would pay.

The second case recounts the pathetic tale of the Office of Thrift Supervision, the regulatory agency that was supposed to halt WaMu’s shoddy and corrupt practices. The report shows that OTS knew of these deceptive practices in great detail for five full years and still failed to stop the pillaging. Why? Because OTS’s top regulators didn’t believe in regulations. Banks should regulate themselves. OTS only wanted to help. And one way it helped was by deliberately impeding other regulators like the FDIC from enforcing stronger regulations on WaMu. The OTS, which mercifully has been eliminated, believed it was partners with the banks it supposedly regulated — a textbook example of regulatory capture combined with financial Stockholm syndrome.

The third case study which focuses on the two largest rating agencies (Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s) is a story of prostitution. Here we learn how the rating agencies turned trick after trick for the big Wall Street banks, doling out favors (AAA ratings) to thousands of “innovative” securities based on the junk mortgages that WaMu and others originated and packaged. Then when it became obvious to everyone that the crap was still crap, the whores went virtuous by drastically downgrading thousands of toxic assets overnight. This forced pension funds and insurance companies, who by law could only hold investment grade securities, to dump their downgraded assets all at once. The result was a rapid and deep collapse of all financial markets. (You read this section of the report and you have to wonder how anyone in their right mind could take seriously S&P’s recent “negative outlook” rating on the U.S. Who are they shilling for now?)

The last case study is the most pornographic as it strips bare two investment banks, Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs. The report accuses them of packaging and selling toxic securities while, at the same time, betting that those securities would fail. Furthermore, the report argues forcefully, that “Investment banks were the driving force behind the structured finance products that provided a steady stream of funding for lenders originating high risk, poor quality loans and that magnified risk throughout the U.S. financial system. The investment banks that engineered, sold, traded, and profited from mortgage related structured finance products were a major cause of the financial crisis.” (pg 19)

Continue reading at:   http://www.alternet.org/economy/150741/how_wall_street_thieves%2C_led_by_goldman_sachs%2C_took_down_the_global_economy_–_their_outsized_influence_must_be_stopped/

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Andrea James

Sometimes a link or need to research something takes me to Andrea James site and I never cease to be blown away by the material she has amassed and how much of a living treasure she is.  I’m so thankful for the initial boost she gave me when I first started this blog a bit over two years ago.

I treasure being her Facebook friend and the occasional link she gives me.

I went through a period of when I was confused by all the sociopaths among the HBS/Classic Transsexual Mafia/intersex not trans/AGP/AP folks who troll the web and mailing lists.

I knew I was dealing with sock puppets and stories that stunk of science fantasy.  Details that didn’t ring historically true.

In a world where so many women with transsexualism spread so much self-justifying BS or should that be HBS, spend so much time and energy creating sock puppets, creating diva wars and calling name I needed some serious background briefing so I could sort out the game players.

I got that  from Andrea.

I’ve come to realize that when people bad rap her they are most likely game players she has exposed.

But more than unmasking people who cause much harm she provides the best source of general information of almost anyone around when it comes to things people should know regarding transition.

So a big shout out and thank you to Andrea James for all the hard work she has done and continues to do

Between Torment and Happiness

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/27/opinion/27dowd.html?_r=1

By MAUREEN DOWD
Published: April 26, 2011

April is the cruelest month for Chrissy Lee Polis.

The 22-year-old stopped by the Rosedale, Md., McDonald’s, just east of Baltimore, last week.

Two patrons, an 18-year-old woman named Teonna Monae Brown and a 14-year-old girl, seemed to come out of nowhere and began ferally assaulting Polis.

The savage pair may have been disturbed at the prospect that Polis was transgender. “They said, ‘That’s a dude. That’s a dude. And she’s in the female bathroom,’ ” Polis told The Baltimore Sun.

The attackers spit on her, threw her on the floor, kicked her in the face and back, punched her in the nose, ripped her earrings out of her earlobes, dragged her by her hair across the restaurant and only stopped when she began to have an epileptic seizure and an older woman in a white track suit intervened.

A McDonald’s employee, who captured it all on his cellphone, was fired after his video went viral on YouTube.

“They all sat there and watched,” Polis told The Sun in a poignant video interview. “I think it’s a shame that people of my preference, I don’t care if you dress like a guy or a girl or anything, I feel like people should not have to be afraid to go out of their house.”

With long brown hair, a slender frame, a feminine manner and a Baltimore accent, Polis said her family had told her that she did not need to explain herself, that she should “be who you are and go as you are.”

But people at parties sometimes want to fight her. “I have been raped before, too, because of who I am,” she said, adding: “It’s bringing me down, slowly but surely down.”

The suspects have been charged with assault and the Baltimore County state’s attorney office is determining whether it classifies as a hate crime.

A week before the attack, Maryland’s Senate shelved a measure extending anti-discrimination protections to people who openly change their gender identity even though, as The Sun editorialized, “It would have sent a powerful signal that transgender people are not fair game for bigots.”

A rally against transgender violence at the Rosedale McDonald’s on Monday night featured Polis’s mother, grandmother and a crowd of 300, singing “We Shall Overcome.” Chrissy, no doubt afraid, stayed home. Her mother, Renee Carr, told The Washington Blade, a gay newspaper, that she supported her daughter “100 percent” and added: “I even carried her pocketbook on the way to the bus stop as a kid.”
Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/27/opinion/27dowd.html?_r=1

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Oklahoma lawmakers approve life sentence for cooking hashish

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/04/26/oklahoma-lawmakers-approve-life-sentence-for-cooking-hashish/

By Eric W. Dolan
Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

A bill that mandates a sentence of up to life in prison for converting marijuana or marijuana oil into hashish is heading to Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin’s (R) desk after being passed by the state Legislature on Monday.

House Bill 1798 makes the conviction of a first time offense of manufacturing hashish a felony with a prison mandatory minimum sentence of two years and a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Hashish is made by compressing and heating glandular hairs from marijuana plants known as “kief.” Chemical solvents can also be used to extract the psychoactive components of the marijuana plant, resulting in hash oil.

Under a second offense, sentences would be doubled and those convicted would be unable to receive a suspended sentence or probation.

Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs spokesman Mark Woodward told The Associated Press that the bill is meant to “send a message” that illegal drugs won’t be tolerated in the state.

The Oklahoma Senate approved the legislation in a 44 to 2 vote and the state House approved the legislation 75 to 18.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/04/26/oklahoma-lawmakers-approve-life-sentence-for-cooking-hashish/

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State Department wants passport applicants to reveal lifetime employment history

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/04/25/state-department-wants-passport-applicants-to-reveal-lifetime-employment-history/

By David Edwards
Monday, April 25th, 2011

The U.S. Department of State has proposed a new questionnaire that would make it almost impossible for some people to get a passport.

The new document (PDF) would require that certain applicants submit a list of every residence and every job they’ve ever had since birth.

In February, the department published a request in the Federal Register allowing 60 days for comment before the new rules go into effect.

“The Biographical Questionnaire for a U.S. Passport, form DS-5513, is used to supplement an application for a U.S. passport when the applicant submits citizenship or identity evidence that is insufficient or of questionable authenticity,” according to a supporting statement (PDF) issued along with the request for comment.

“This form is used prior to passport issuance and solicits information relating to the respondent’s family, birth circumstances, residences, schooling, and employment,” the statement added.

“In addition to this primary use of the data, the DS-5513 may also be used as evidence in the prosecution of any individual who makes a false statement on the application and for other uses as set forth in the Prefatory Statement and the Passport System of Records Notice (State-26).”

The document also requires some applicants to submit information about the mother’s pre-natal and post-natal care, the mother’s residence one year before and after the birth, the persons in attendance at the birth and religious or institutional recordings of the birth.

“The State Department estimated that the average respondent would be able to compile all this information in just 45 minutes, which is obviously absurd given the amount of research that is likely to be required to even attempt to complete the form,” Consumer Traveler’s Edward Hasbrouck noted.

Continue reading at:   http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/04/25/state-department-wants-passport-applicants-to-reveal-lifetime-employment-history/

What we’re not being told about Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/apr/26/healthcare-congress

The mainstream media has failed to report that the Ryan plan is a privatisation programme that will hand $30tn to insurers

Dean Baker
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 26 April 2011

Who shot Major Strasser? Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca (1942). Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis

The film Casablanca features one of greatest moments in movie history. With Humphrey Bogart standing with a smoking pistol over the body of the dead Gestapo major, Claude Rains, in the role of the French colonel, tells his troops: “the major has been shot, round up the usual suspects.”

Unfortunately, the Washington policy gang is busy following Claude Rains’ instructions. The nation is drowning in endless accounts of how the huge deficit will sink the economy and the country. These accounts invariably feature stories of a Congress addicted to spending and a nation that wants government benefits that it doesn’t want to pay for.

This story has nothing to do with reality, as all budget analysts know. The explosion of the budget deficit in the last three years is a response to the plunge in private sector demand following the collapse of the housing bubble. If the budget deficit were smaller, we would simply have less demand and fewer jobs.

Paul Ryan did his best to lay out the long-term story as clearly as possible with his plan to privatise Medicare. The analysis by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) shows that Ryan’s plan would hugely increase the cost of healthcare to seniors. Under the Ryan plan, a Medicare-equivalent policy is projected to cost almost half of a median 65-year-old retiree’s income by 2030. It would soon exceed the income of most retirees, as healthcare costs outpace income growth.

However most of the additional burden projected for retirees is not the result of cost-shifting from the government. The vast majority of the additional burden that the CBO projected for retirees comes from the higher cost of private insurance compared with the government-run Medicare system. The additional cost as a result of adopting Ryan’s privatised system is more than $30tn over Medicare’s 75-year planning horizon.

To put this in perspective, CBO’s projected increase in the cost of buying Medicare-equivalent insurance policies through the private sector is roughly six times the size of the projected social security shortfall. The projected shortfall in social security has sent thousands of politicians screaming about devastating burden on our children. How, then, should we describe something that is six times as large as this “devastating burden”, a sum that is just under $100,000 for every man, woman and child in the country?

Continue reading at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/apr/26/healthcare-congress

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