D.C. Protests That Make Big Oil Quake

From Truth Dig: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/dc_protests_that_make_big_oil_quake_20110823/

By Amy Goodman
Posted on Aug 23, 2011

The White House was rocked Tuesday, not only by a 5.9-magnitude earthquake, but by the protests mounting outside its gates. More than 2,100 people say they’ll risk arrest there during the next two weeks. They oppose the Keystone XL pipeline project, designed to carry heavy crude oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast.

A “keystone” in architecture is the stone at the top of an arch that holds the arch together; without it, the structure collapses. By putting their bodies on the line—as more than 200 have already at the time of this writing—these practitioners of the proud tradition of civil disobedience hope to collapse not only the pipeline, but the fossil-fuel dependence that is accelerating disruptive global climate change.

Bill McKibben was among those already arrested. He is an environmentalist and author who founded the group 350.org, named after the estimated safe upper limit of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of 350 ppm (parts per million—the planet is currently at 390 ppm). In a call to action to join the protest, McKibben, along with others including journalist Naomi Klein, actor Danny Glover and NASA scientist James Hansen, wrote the Keystone pipeline is “a 1,500-mile fuse to the biggest carbon bomb on the continent, a way to make it easier and faster to trigger the final overheating of our planet.”

The movement to oppose Keystone XL ranges from activists and scientists to indigenous peoples of the threatened Canadian plains and boreal forests, where the tar sands are located, to rural farmers and ranchers in the ecologically fragile Sand Hills region of Nebraska, to students and physicians.

Asked why the White House protests are taking place while President Obama is away on a family vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, McKibben replied: “We’ll be here when he gets back too. We’re staying for two weeks, every day. This is the first real civil disobedience of this scale in the environmental movement in ages.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/dc_protests_that_make_big_oil_quake_20110823/

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Dispute over woman’s estate between her partner, parents highlights the problems of DOMA

From The Dallas Voice:  http://www.dallasvoice.com/testing-era-defines-spouse-1087191.html

Posted on 25 Aug 2011

CHUCK COLBERT | Keen News Service
lisakeen@me.com

One obituary described Ellyn Farley as a happy, studious, pet-loving attorney married to her spouse Jennifer Tobits and only “reluctantly” wearing dresses to attend Mass.

The other described her as a fierce litigator and champion to the underdog, survived by her parents, her brother, various aunts and uncles, a godmother, and “good friends for life who will be in her heart forever, Jennifer and Nancy, of Chicago; and numerous cousins and other devoted friends.”

The first was published in the Chicago Tribune, in the city where Farley lived with her spouse Jennifer Tobits. The latter was published in the Roanoke Times, in Virginia, where Farley grew up.

The first was drafted by one of the lesbian couple’s friends and was reviewed and edited by Tobits.

The latter was coordinated by Farley’s parents who, according to Tobits, did not consult her about its contents.

The first makes clear that Farley was married to a woman; the latter scrubs that reality out of her life story.

Now, Farley’s surviving spouse, Jennifer Tobits, and her parents, Joan and David Farley, are squaring off in two different courts over their different portrayals of Farley.

In probate court in Illinois, they are fighting over Farley’s will. In a federal court in Pennsylvania, where Farley’s law firm is headquartered, they are trying to influence a judge’s determination of who should properly receive the benefits of Farley’s profit-sharing plan.

“This is the new era,” said Shannon Minter, legal director of the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights. “We are all familiar with hearing stories about parents stepping in and not honoring their children’s relationships and trying to take all the assets. Now that so many couples are in marriages or civil unions or domestic partnerships, it’s still happening; but we have a degree … of legal protections that we didn’t have before.”

But in this new era of litigation, Minter said, “there is a lot of confusion” caused by the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

DOMA

DOMA is the federal law that prohibits the federal government from recognizing marriages between same-sex couples. It has two sections.

One states, “No state … shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other state … respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other state, territory, possession or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.”

The second section reads, “In determining the meaning of any act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word ‘spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.”

Farley’s parents, represented by the right-wing Thomas More Society, a pro-life law firm, say DOMA precludes the courts from awarding any of Farley’s death benefits to Tobits.

Continue reading at:  http://www.dallasvoice.com/testing-era-defines-spouse-1087191.html

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Koch Industries Lobbying Puts Over 100 Million Americans in Danger

From Green Peace: http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/news-and-blogs/campaign-blog/koch-industries-lobbying-puts-over-100-millio/blog/36476/

by Phil Radford
August 24, 2011

Recent Greenpeace analysis of lobbying disclosure records reveals that since 2005, Koch Industries has hired more lobbyists than Dow and Dupont to fight legislation that could protect over 100 million Americans from what national security experts say is a catastrophic risk from the bulk storage of poison gasses at dangerous chemical facilities such as oil refineries, chemical manufacturing facilities, and water treatment plants. Koch lobbyists even outnumber those at trade associations including the Chamber of Commerce and American Petroleum Institute. Only the American Chemistry Council deployed more.

In 2010 Koch Industries and the billionaire brothers who run it were first exposed as a major funder of front groups spreading denial of global warming in a Greenpeace report, which sparked an expose in the New Yorker. Since then, the brothers have been further exposed as a key backer of efforts to roll back environmental, labor, and health protections at the state and federal levels. Through enormous campaign contributions, an army of lobbyists, and funding of think tanks and front groups, David and Charles Koch push their agenda of a world in which their company can operate without regard for the risks they pose to communities, workers, or our environment.

Today, in a new exposé, Greenpeace has shown how Koch Industries has quietly played a key role in blocking yet another effort to protect workers and vulnerable communities – comprehensive chemical security legislation. The Report is called “Toxic Koch: Keeping Americans at risk of a Poison Gas Disaster.”

Since before the September 11, 2001 attacks, security experts have warned of the catastrophic risk that nearly every major American city faces from the bulk storage of poison gasses at dangerous chemical facilities such as oil refineries, chemical manufacturing facilities, and water treatment plants. Nevertheless, ten years later, thousands of facilities still put more than 100 million Americans at risk of a chemical disaster. According to the company’s own reports to the EPA, Koch Industries and its subsidiaries Invista, Flint Hills, and Georgia Pacific operate 57 dangerous chemical facilities in the United States that together put 4.4 million people at risk.

Continue reading at:  http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/news-and-blogs/campaign-blog/koch-industries-lobbying-puts-over-100-millio/blog/36476/

The Kochs are scared, and they’ve bought the web domains to prove it

From Michael Moore: http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/mike-friends-blog/the-kochs-are-scared-and-theyve-bought-the-web-domains-to-prove-it

By Robert Greenwald
August 23rd, 2011

Charles and David Koch, and their related businesses, have poured money into politicking across the country.

In Wisconsin alone, they were Gov. Scott Walker’s largest out-of-state contributor, and they famously bought all kinds of advertisements and electioneering courtesy of their Tea Party group Americans for Prosperity. They aren’t done. The folks on the ground fighting back in Wisconsin now discovered another dimension to the Kochs’ dirty tactics. The brothers are buying up web domain names. The equivalent of facebook.com or google.com, the Kochs’ have bought:

  • StopKoch.com
  • StopKochIndustries.com
  • AntiKoch.com

That’s in addition to their KochFacts.com page, which they’ve used to attack us and journalists who have written about us and the Kochs’ laundry list of dirty deeds and self-serving ideology. That the brothers would go ahead and buy domain names like this is a sign of their nervousness.

Continue reading at:  http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/mike-friends-blog/the-kochs-are-scared-and-theyve-bought-the-web-domains-to-prove-it

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Mid Week Music Break

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Controversy Emerges Over Gender Identity Laws

From IPS News: http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=104829

By Elizabeth Whitman

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 19, 2011 (IPS) – Legislation incorporating gender identity protection has ignited debate among activists for gay and lesbian rights, with some arguing that the legislation actually endangers women and threatens their physical safety, while others contend that gender identity protection is key to obtaining equality for the LGBT community.

“The proliferation of legislation designed to protect ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’ undermines legal protections for females vis-à-vis sex segregated spaces,” wrote lawyers Elizabeth Hungerford and Cathy Brennan, in a response to a call from the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women for communications regarding “alleged violations of human rights that affect the status of women in any country in the world”.

Sex-segregated spaces, such as public bathrooms, are necessary for females especially due to the “documented frequency of male sexual violence against females”, Brennan and Hungerford wrote. “As females, and as lesbians, we seek legal recognition and protection for the potential harm that females may experience.”

Additionally, “‘gender identity’ legislation incorporates stereotypical ideas of ‘what is female’ into law,” they argued, complicating the legislation’s impact from an intellectual as well as from a public health and safety perspective.

Gender identity, according to the LGBT rights group Human Rights Campaign (HRC), “refers to a person’s innate, deeply felt psychological identification as male or female, which may or may not correspond to the person’s body or designated sex at birth.” HRC estimates that anywhere from .25 to one percent of the U.S. population identifies as transgender.

While Brennan, Hungerford, and their supporters worry about the legislation’s implications for women, mainstream LGBT rights groups such as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and Human Rights Campaign consider gender identity legislation key to pursuing equality for and ending discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender/transsexual persons.

In June, the New York Assembly passed a bill to include gender identity and expression with other characteristics, such as age, sex or race, protected from discrimination in employment, education and other areas.

Human Rights Campaign welcomed the vote, praising the Assembly. “Gender identity and expression should not be factored into an individual’s access to education, employment, housing or public accommodations,” HRC president Joe Solmonese said in a statement.

Continue reading at:  http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=104829

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Coming Out for Marriage Equality!

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Gloomy consumers put big purchase on hold

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/aug/25/consumer-confidence-nationwide-building-society-survey

Nationwide Building Society report shows decline in confidence even before riots and market upheaval

The Guardian, Thursday 25 August 2011

UK consumers are putting spending on big ticket items on hold as they grow gloomier about the outlook for the economy and their own finances. A report released by the Nationwide Building Society on Thursday showed that Britons were feeling more pessimistic even before the effects of the riots and the financial turbulence.

In its monthly health check of consumer sentiment, Nationwide found that confidence had slipped back to the levels seen at the start of the year and that there was little prospect of improvement in the rest of 2011.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “There was a small dip in consumer confidence in July, reflecting increased uncertainty around the outlook for the UK economy. At 49 points, the main confidence index remains well below its long-run average reading of 79.”

Consumers have been hit this year by a combination of tax increases, weak wage growth and higher energy bills. Official figures released in July showed that economic activity expanded by 0.2% in the second quarter of 2011 and was 0.7% up the second quarter of 2010.

“With the economic recovery still facing strong headwinds it is unlikely that we will see any considerable improvement in confidence in the remainder of 2011,” Gardner said.

“Indeed, it may be that we see a further deterioration in August, following riots in a number of UK cities and the sharp declines seen in stock markets around the world. Overall, conditions for the UK economy remain challenging, especially for consumers.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2011/aug/25/consumer-confidence-nationwide-building-society-survey

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