How corporations award themselves legal immunity

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jun/27/us-supreme-court-rape

Whether it’s in your employment contract or the paperwork for a cell phone, it’s odds on that the small print says you can’t sue

guardian.co.uk, Monday 27 June 2011

Worried about the influence of money in American politics, the huge cash payouts that the US supreme court waved through by its Citizens United decision – the decision that lifted most limits on election campaign spending? Corporations are having their way with American elections just as they’ve already had their way with our media.

But at least we have the courts, right?

Wrong. The third branch of government’s in trouble, too. In fact, access to justice – like access to elected office, let alone a pundit’s perch – is becoming a perk just for the rich and powerful.

Take the young woman now testifying in court in Texas. Jamie Leigh Jones claims she was drugged and gang-raped while working for military contractor KBR in Iraq (at the time, a division of Halliburton). Jones, now 26, was on her fourth day in post in Baghdad in 2005 when she says she was assaulted by seven contractors and held captive, under armed guard by two KBR police, in a shipping container.

When the criminal courts failed to act, her lawyers filed a civil suit, only to be met with Halliburton’s response that all her claims were to be decided in arbitration – because she’d signed away her rights to bring the company to court when she signed her employment contract. As Leigh testified before Congress, in October 2009, “I had signed away my right to a jury trial at the age of 20 and without the advice of counsel.” It was a matter of sign or resign. “I had no idea that the clause was part of the contract, what the clause actually meant,” testified Jones.

You’ve probably done the very same thing without even knowing it. When it comes to consumer claims, mandatory arbitration is the new normal. According to research by Public Citizen and others, corporations are inserting “forced arbitration” clauses into the fine print of contracts for work, for cell phone service, for credit cards, even nursing home contracts, requiring clients to give up their right to sue if they are harmed. Arbitration is a no-judge, no-jury, no-appeal world, where arbitrators are (often by contract) selected by the company and all decisions are private – and final.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/jun/27/us-supreme-court-rape

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New Law in Kansas Set to Close All Abortion Providers in State

From Truth Out:  http://www.truth-out.org/new-law-kansas-set-close-all-abortion-providers-state/1309104386

by: A. G. Sulzberger and Monica Davey, The New York Times News Service | Report
Sunday 26 June 2011

Overland Park, Kan. – One in a series of abortion limits approved in Kansas since Republicans took full control of the state government this year — a new license law — is raising uncertainty about the future of all abortion providers in the state.

Opponents of abortion say that the licenses — which newly dictate requirements for the size of rooms at abortion clinics, the stocking of emergency equipment, medications and blood supplies, and ties to nearby hospitals — will ensure at least a modicum of safety standards in a state that Troy Newman, the leader of the anti-abortion groupOperation Rescue, said “had been the Wild West for abortionists for as long as anyone can remember.”

But abortion rights supporters, here and nationally, say the rules, which take effect next week, are onerous, have been rushed into place too rapidly and are actually aimed at ending abortion services at the only three places in the state now providing them, perhaps as early as Friday.

“These requirements range from the impossible to the absurd,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “They’re not designed to protect patient safety; they’re designed to shut down abortion providers.”

For decades, Kansas has been a focal point for the national debate over abortion. Opponents saw openings for new restrictions this year, after eight years under Democrats who had vetoed such measures, when Sam Brownback, a Republican who has long opposed abortion rights, became governor.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truth-out.org/new-law-kansas-set-close-all-abortion-providers-state/1309104386

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Ford, GM, Chrysler Asked to Study Fuel Economy Rules of 56.2 MPG

Sure sign that we have passed Peak Oil.

From Bloomberg:  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-06-25/ford-gm-chrysler-may-have-to-boost-fuel-economy-to-56-2-mpg.html

By Angela Greiling Keane
Jun 25, 2011

Automakers including Ford Motor Co. (F) and Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) that sell vehicles in the U.S. may have to boost car and light truck fuel economy to an average 56.2 miles per gallon by 2025 under a White House proposal presented last week.

In separate meetings with Ford, General Motors Co. (GM) and Chrysler Group LLC on June 22, the Obama administration asked the three largest U.S. automakers to analyze the effects of a 56.2 mpg fuel-economy target, two people familiar with the talks said.

That represents an improvement of about a 5 percent per year in each company’s fleetwide average fuel economy from 2016 when they are required to have a 35.5 mpg average for vehicles sold in the U.S. The Detroit News reported the administration’s plan yesterday.

Complete article at:  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-06-25/ford-gm-chrysler-may-have-to-boost-fuel-economy-to-56-2-mpg.html

Hartmann: Corporate CEOs have a secret they don’t want you to know about…

Rejecting Transgender Borg Framing and Language

I can always tell when I am dealing with a member of the Transgender Borg Collective by the difficulty they have in dealing with my rejecting of their philosophy and social construction of transgender.

Take the tizzy I set off with Bushfire.

Bushfire has a hard time understanding how someone who went through the sex reassignment process can have a completely different analysis of the process and meaning.  That is the problem with buying into a cult structured analysis.  One who believes the analysis to be absolutely true can not understand how someone with a different philosophy and analysis can say that analysis is bullshit.

The ideology of transgender is basically similar to religion in that there is no hard data to back up assertions, only bluster, accusations and victimology based guilt trips. I almost forgot, the assertion of infallibility.

For example Bushfire asserts I must be “gender transgressive” because the Transgender Borg Collective has read the book of the great prophet, Judith Butler…  Perhaps they were even able to understand what they were reading, although claiming to understand the jargon that wasn’t meant to be understood but rather to further the admiration of academic wankers is something I consider a dubious accomplishment.

The biggest problem I have is that so much of its ideology is based on misogynistic bullshit posited by white heterosexual transvestites, a variant on the Men’s Rights Advocate theme.

I’m currently reading Stephanie Coontz’ book,  A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s.  She is writing about Betty Friedan’s book, The Feminine Mystique and its impact on women at the dawn of the 1960s.

All the emphasis on gender and gender determining who is really a man and who is really a woman seems like a throw back to the days of limited sex roles.  Transgender requires a rigid gender binary upon which to base the idea that adherence to a gender role makes on a man or a woman.

Bushfire was unable to grasp that I don’t transgress gender.  I simply do not recognize gender as having any real meaning.  I’m not a woman because of the clothes I wear or the make-up I don’t wear.  I love my Birkenstocks more than any heels I’ve ever owned and I’ve never figured out where the penis goes when it comes to building a computer or doing household repairs.

When Bushfire tells me, “Others see you as gender transgressive.” I think, “Yeah but they are generally Christo-Fascists and or misogynists and therefore their opinions don’t mean shit.

Or they are academics dependent on selling their bullshit so they don’t have to become experts in the field of rapid nutritional deployment. Baristas with Ph.Ds.

I look upon psychiatry as more religion than science and all religion as a fraud..

But back to the framing the Transgender Borg have chosen to use.

When they are pissed off with me I have a hard time telling them from the Religious Reich or certain radical feminists.

But let’s look at one element of their framing.  If you were ever associated with a trans-prefixed word you are tainted with that word forever.  That sounds like the old Jim Crow one drop rule i.e. one drop of African American Blood makes you Black.

But it doesn’t stop there.  One of the proposals being put forth for the new DSM would refiy a suggestion I made.  It would keep GID for those seeking SRS and would consider SRS as curing GID.

So much of the Transgender Borg rhetoric is just generally oppressive.

I always wonder how I can be called a separatist when I never considered myself transgender.

I came up with post-transsexual because, quite honestly I had sex change surgery so long ago that it is like when I had my tonsils out.

I’m tired of post-transsexual people being denied our own language and the right to describe our own lives without some colonial master telling us we are wrong.

When those in the Borg call me names for speaking out against the colonialization I feel like I am in a relationship with an abusive man, who claims to know better than me because , well because he is a man.

When I am dealing with the Transgender Borg I feel a lot of male energy directed towards me.

And as a feminist I fight back.

“We Celebrated Love”: Same Sex Marriage Law Ignites Passion for Equality Nationwide

From New Deal 2.0:  http://www.newdeal20.org/2011/06/27/we-celebrated-love-same-sex-marriage-law-ignites-passion-for-equality-nationwide-49623/

by Joseph Lawless 
June 27, 2011

ears, hugs, and joy overflowed as New York City celebrated a new era of equality for gay Americans. And the feeling is contagious.

It was about thirteen months ago that I began religiously to examine all things Proposition 8, the voter-activated referendum that revoked the right of same-sex couples to marry in California (I covered the topic on this blog while working as an intern for the Roosevelt Institute last summer). As the trial progressed, friends and I would follow the ebb and flow of anxiety and potential victory. In August of 2010, Prop 8 was deemed unconstitutional by a federal court, representing a small victory in a battle for equality that has been raging since 1969, when the New York bar Stonewall was raided by police in an act of blatant homophobia.

Fast forward to Albany, New York on Friday, June 24th, 2011. After years of disavowing what equality truly means, the New York legislature voted to legalize same-sex marriage. The passage of the law ignited flames of passion and celebration. Those outside Stonewall shed tears and shared hugs; Americans across the nation celebrated one of the greatest victories seen yet by the gay rights movement.

There are dozens of political lessons to be learned by considering the route this legislation took to eventually reach the floor and its monumental passage. It might, however, be beneficial to us all to take a step back and really consider what has happened here. The legalization of gay marriage in New York has unleashed a bolt of lightning across our country and has reinvigorated the battle for equality. It has demonstrated that success can happen, that government can act in the interest of its supporters, and that as a nation our notions of true equality continue to evolve.

Continue reading at:  http://www.newdeal20.org/2011/06/27/we-celebrated-love-same-sex-marriage-law-ignites-passion-for-equality-nationwide-49623/

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Tell the People about the People’s Budget

FromOther Words: http://www.otherwords.org/articles/tell_the_people_about_the_peoples_budget

There’s a good chance you’ve never heard about the People’s Budget, though there’s been a mountain of media coverage of the budget mess.

By Peter Hart
June 27, 2011

Permission Creative Commons

If you listen to the pundits and TV commentators, the federal budget problem has a simple solution: cuts, cuts, and more cuts. They cheer politicians for making “tough choices,” which usually entails taking money away from schools, stiffing public workers, and telling the poor and the elderly they need to make do with even less. Tough choices, indeed — but for whom?

The funny thing is, regular people aren’t buying the idea that this is the only way to balance the country’s books. Maybe there’s something about a millionaire TV host talking about “shared sacrifice” that rubs Bob and Betty Sixpack the wrong way. Or maybe the American people just feel like there’s got to be another way — one that doesn’t require scrapping Medicare or slashing Social Security.

If you look at the polls, the public’s message is clear: protect Medicare and Social Security, spend less on the military, and raise taxes on the wealthy. And while we’re at it, let’s tax the Wall Street speculators who wrecked our economy.

But if you look at the newspapers or your TV screen, those ideas are rarely, if ever, part of the budget debate. Is there no one in Washington who is sticking up for what the majority of the public wants?

But wait. The Congressional Progressive Caucus, which includes 74 House Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), released an alternative budget blueprint back in April. This “People’s Budget” would achieve a better balance by taxing the wealthy, reining in runaway military spending, and protecting the New Deal social safety net — just what people tell pollsters that they want.

There’s a good chance you’ve never heard about this part of the budget debate, though there’s been a mountain of media coverage of the budget mess — thousands of articles and television programs. If you’ve paid attention to any of it, you’re probably well acquainted with Rep. Paul Ryan. The Wisconsin Republican has “jet black hair and a touch of Eagle Scout to him,” according to one magazine profile. The New York Times told readers about his “piercing blue eyes.” It’s not just his looks that impress the media. His budget plan, which pairs yet more big tax breaks for the rich with spending cuts for everyone else, is constantly touted as being “bold” and “serious.”

And the People’s Budget? Well, it’s not even mentioned. There were no hard news stories about it in the big papers. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank wrote about the press conference unveiling the People’s Budget only to mock it — right down to poking fun at one lawmaker’s tie.

Milbank spelled out some of the details of the People’s Budget, but only because he thought the ideas were absurd on their face: “No cuts in Social Security benefits, government-negotiated Medicare drug prices, and increased income and Social Security taxes for the wealthy. Corporations and investors would be hit with a variety of new fees and taxes…The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would end.”

Ending wars and making the wealthy pay their fair share? That probably doesn’t sound so crazy to most people. But that the Post considers Milbank to be one of its “left-leaning” columnists is completely nuts.

The budget debate is locked up in a partisan stalemate. That makes it as good a time as any to tell the people about the People’s Budget. Most newspapers and TV networks aren’t doing that. And when you look at who stands to gain — and who stands to lose — it’s no mystery why corporate-owned media are keeping us in the dark.

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