California is One Big Step Closer to Protecting Sharks & Our Oceans

From The Natural Resources Defense Council: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/lmonroe/california_is_one_big_step_clo.html

Leila Monroe’s Blog
Posted June 28, 2011

This afternoon, California came one important step closer to banning the sale, trade and distribution of shark fins.   Assembly Bill 376 passed out of the Senate Natural Resources & Water Committee  with the support of Senators Pavley, LaMalfa, Evans, Kehoe, Padilla, Wolk, and Simitian.  This bill will help protect the estimated 26 – 73 million sharks killed each year for their fins, which are used to meet the exploding demand for shark fin soup.  The bill’s next stop is the Senate Appropriations Committee.

California is one of the largest markets for shark fins outside of Asia; the ban will deter finning in international waters by ending the fin trade here.  More than 1/3 of shark species are threatened with extinction as a result of the international shark fin trade, with some populations declined by 99%.  This morning, the Sacramento Bee carried an excellent article about the importance of this bill, discussing how the opposition critiques are misguided and inaccurate.

Continue reading at:  http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/lmonroe/california_is_one_big_step_clo.html

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Obesity/Diabetes Epidemic: Rise of the Obesogens

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/06/29-4

by Brian Moench
Published on Wednesday, June 29, 2011 by CommonDreams.org

The global obesity/diabetes epidemic is receiving wide spread attention like the June 26, article in the Washington Post by David Brown.  One fourth of our national health care bill of $2.3 trillion is linked to the treatment of diabetes and its complications.  Average American life expectancy is now dropping because of this disease complex.  Even children are being recommended for gastric bypass.

Fingers everywhere are pointing at the usual suspects: too much junk food and lack of exercise.  But there is much more to the story than a recent, contagious lack of discipline among the masses.  Standing next to us in the room, some very large corporate elephants are being ignored.

A growing body of evidence in animals and humans suggests that many man-made chemicals contaminating our environment mimic some of the body’s own hormones like testosterone and estrogen. Researchers have called these chemicals endocrine disruptors because they wreak havoc with endocrine organs like the thyroid, pancreas, testes and ovaries that depend on hormones to develop and function properly.  But a new, more relevant term for these chemicals has emerged.  They are now also called obesogens.

Exposure to tiny amounts of obesogens during embryonic development has startling effects on animals, resulting in obesity, infertility, feminization of male species, ambiguous sexual characteristics and high death rates.

Wishful thinking by the EPA and FDA and outright propaganda from chemical manufacturers have upheld the notion that the doses of human exposure to such chemicals have been too small to matter. Medical science now clearly repudiates such a position and environmental contamination is emerging as a significant contributor to the obesity/diabetes epidemic.

In a remarkable study of 2,000 Americans those people with the highest blood levels of PCBs, dioxins and pesticides had a rate of diabetes 38 times higher than those with the lowest levels. Just as startling, in the group with the lowest levels of chemical pollutants there was no correlation between diabetes and obesity.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/06/29-4

‘Food Terrorism’ Next Door to the Magic Kingdom

From Truth Dig: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/food_terrorism_in_the_magic_kingdom_20110628/

By Amy Goodman
Posted on Jun 28, 2011

Think of “food terrorism” and what do you see? Diabolical plots to taint items on grocery-store shelves? If you are Buddy Dyer, the mayor of Orlando, Fla., you might be thinking of a group feeding the homeless and hungry in one of your city parks. That is what Dyer is widely quoted as calling the activists with the Orlando chapter of Food Not Bombs—“food terrorists.” In the past few weeks, no less than 21 people have been arrested in Orlando, the home of Disney World, for handing out free food in a park.

Food Not Bombs is an international, grass-roots organization that fights hunger. As the name implies, it is against war. Its website home page reads: “Food Not Bombs shares free vegan and vegetarian meals with the hungry in over 1,000 cities around the world to protest war, poverty and the destruction of the environment. With over a billion people going hungry each day how can we spend another dollar on war?” The Orlando chapter sets up a meal distribution table every Monday morning and Wednesday evening in the city’s Lake Eola Park.

Lately, the Orlando police have been arresting those who serve food there, like Benjamin Markeson. He was perplexed, telling me: “We think that it’s terrorism to arrest people for trying to share food with poor and hungry people in the community to meet a community need. And all we do is we come to the park and we share food with poor and hungry people. I don’t know how that qualifies as terrorism.”

Attorney Shayan Elahi doesn’t know, either. He is representing Orlando Food Not Bombs in court. He has filed for an injunction against the city in the 9th Judicial Circuit Court of Florida, which is presided over by Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr., who is in the news as the no-nonsense judge in the Casey Anthony murder trial, happening now in Orlando. While the judge’s courtroom receives blanket coverage on cable networks, Elahi hopes Perry will have time to personally rule on his filing.

At issue is a city law, the “Large Group Feeding” ordinance, that requires groups to obtain a permit to serve food, even for free, to groups of 25 or more. Such permits are granted to any group only twice per year. Orlando Food Not Bombs has already used both of its allowed permits this year.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/food_terrorism_in_the_magic_kingdom_20110628/

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Texas Budget Targets Planned Parenthood, Contraception and Women’s Health

From Truth Out: http://www.truth-out.org/texas-budget-targets-planned-parenthood-contraception-and-womens-health/1309355870

by: James Russell, Truthout | Report
Wednesday 29 June 2011

In the race to crush Planned Parenthood, Texas is catching up with the pack.

Thus far, multiple states have slashed funding to the organization, including Wisconsin, North Carolina and Indiana (portions of which were recently overruled). Now, Texas has joined the pack as part of a nationwide assault on the organization. And it’s the largest state to attack the organization thus far.

Earlier this month, Texas Governor and perennial presidential candidate Rick Perry signed a budget bill that cuts family planning programs by $74 million, bringing its budget down from $111 million to $37 million, or a 66 percent cut.

The nonpartisan Texas Legislative Budget Board issued a harrowing report on the cuts. In it, analysts concluded that the decimation of the family planning budget would result in 300,000 Texas women losing basic health care coverage, including tests for non-reproductive conditions. Likewise, the cuts are estimated to result in 20,000 more unplanned pregnancies.

While Texas’s latest budget left nothing untouched, the real goal of the cuts to family planning, say observers, is to target Planned Parenthood and its affiliates throughout the state.

“Anti-choice lobbyists have spent the entire year confusing the facts,” said Peter J. Durkin, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in a press release. “These groups pressured lawmakers to de-fund Planned Parenthood by muddling conversations about family planning programs with false accusations that they subsidize abortion care. There is absolutely no legitimacy to their claims – and they know it.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truth-out.org/texas-budget-targets-planned-parenthood-contraception-and-womens-health/1309355870

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Get In Line

Today I got an e-mail from Change.Org asking me to support the following:

End LGBT Discrimination!!! Demand that a LGBT Rights Amendment be ratified to the U.S. Constitution.

OVERVIEW

Urge the Urge the United States House of Representatives, the United States Senate, and President Obama to pass a LGBT Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

What would be an LGBT Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution?

An LGBT Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, would be a constitutional amendment to the United States Constitution that would to affirm that people who are LGBT have equal rights under the law.

The text of the LGBT Rights Constitutional Amendment

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

WTF?

Supreme Court Justice Scalia has said women are not protected by the 14th or any other amendment to the Constitution, although corporations which are not mentioned in the Constitution are. (so much for original intent).

As for working to pass a Constitutional Amendment protecting  LGBT/T folks?

I’ll hop right on that one.  Right after they pass the Equal Rights Amendment making women equal instead of second class citizens.

I’ve experienced far more discrimination in my life simply for being a woman than I have for being lesbian or for that matter for having been transsexual.

But I am not only a woman, I am a feminist, some might even say I am a radical feminist in that I put women’s interests ahead of men’s.  I put women’s interests ahead of transgender people’s interests.

I believe one of the most important steps in becoming a woman is reaching a point when you’re being a woman is more important than your history.

So… I’m all for passing a Constitutional Amendment protecting LGBT/T people, right after they pass the ERA.

ERA Now!

Experts warn epic weather ravaging US could worsen

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/06/29/experts-warn-epic-weather-ravaging-us-could-worsen/

By Agence France-Presse
Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

CHICAGO — Epic floods, massive wildfires, drought and the deadliest tornado season in 60 years are ravaging the United States, with scientists warning that climate change will bring even more extreme weather.

The human and economic toll over just the past few months has been staggering: hundreds of people have died, and thousands of homes and millions of acres have been lost at a cost estimated at more than $20 billion.

And the United States has not even entered peak hurricane season.

“This spring was one of the most extreme springs that we’ve seen in the last century since we’ve had good records,” said Deke Arndt, chief of climate monitoring for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

While it’s not possible to tie a specific weather event or pattern to climate change, Arndt said this spring’s extreme weather is in line with what is forecast for the future.

“In general, but not everywhere, it is expected that the wetter places will get wetter and the drier places will tend to see more prolonged dry periods,” he told AFP.

“We are seeing an increase in the amount (of rain and snow) that comes at once, and the ramifications are that it’s a lot more water to deal with at a time, so you see things like flooding.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/06/29/experts-warn-epic-weather-ravaging-us-could-worsen/

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Did ExxonMobil Break Its Promise To Stop Funding Climate Change Deniers?

From Mother Jones:  http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2011/06/exxonmobil-soon-climate-change-denier

By Kate Sheppard
Tue Jun. 28, 2011

Back in 2008, ExxonMobil pledged to quit funding climate change deniers. But according to new documents released through a Greenpeace Freedom of Information Act request, the oil giant was still forking over cash to climate skeptics as recently as last year, to the tune of $76,000 for one scientist skeptical of humankind’s role in global warming. This—and much more—came to light in a new report about the funding of Wei Hock “Wille” Soon, an astrophysicist with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Soon has been a favorite among climate skeptics for years, since coauthoring a paper back in 2003 that claimed that the 20th century was probably not the warmest, nor was it unique. That paper, published in the journal Climate Research, was widely criticized by climate scientists for its content, not to mention the funding it received from the American Petroleum Institute. An astrophysicist by training, Soon has also claimed that solar variability—i.e., changes in the amount of radiation coming from the sun—are to likely to blame for warming temperatures.

In 2007, Soon coauthored a paper challenging the claim that climate change harms polar bears. The paper drew plenty of criticism, as it was funded in part by the American Petroleum Institute, The Charles G. Koch Foundation, and ExxonMobil—groups with a clear interest in the debate over whether the bears merited endangered species protections.

Given that Soon had previously disclosed some of his corporate funding, in December 2009 Greenpeace submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Smithsonian Institution asking for information about Soon’s funders and any conflict of interest forms he may have submitted. In response, Smithsonian produced a list of his major bankrollers, which included more than $800,000 from major energy interests. According to the document, Exxon provided $55,000 for a study on Arctic climate change in 2007 and 2008, and another $76,106 for research into solar variability between 2008 and 2010.

Continue reading at:  http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2011/06/exxonmobil-soon-climate-change-denier

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