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

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 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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Christian News – Glee Is Desensitizing Our Kids To Homosexuality

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Leaked cable: Vatican sees Latino socialist leaders as ‘dangerous’

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/08/24/leaked-cable-vatican-sees-latino-socialist-leaders-dangerous/

By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Less than a month after disastrous National Assembly elections in 2005, U.S. officials met with the Vatican’s third highest ranking archbishop to discuss the church’s outlook on Venezuela along with the Vatican’s positions on a number of other Latin American leaders, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable published Wednesday by WikiLeaks.

During the conversation, recounted in a cable composed on Dec. 23, 2005, Vatican internal affairs chief Archbishop Leonardo Sandri said the church views a number of Latin American leaders as “dangerous,” including Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and then-Mexican presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

Obrador was defeated by rival Felipe Calderón, but continued to campaign for months thereafter, insisting the election had been stolen through fraud. The Vatican saw him as a threat similar to Chavez or former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, according to the cable.

U.S. officials also gave Sandri an idea: having the Vatican order the U.S. Catholic church to supply more aid to the Venezuelan Catholic church so they could build up social programs, enlarging their platform to speak out against Chavez. He responded “positively” to the suggestion, according to the cable.

In Mexico, Sandri was less apt to press the church into becoming more vocal, largely due to “Masonic groups and some segments of Mexican society,” who he saw as “ready to pounce on bishops or clergy who strayed into the political realm.”

Complete article at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/08/24/leaked-cable-vatican-sees-latino-socialist-leaders-dangerous/

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Nation’s Largest Environmental Organizations Stand Together To Oppose Oil Pipeline

From Tar Sand Action Org: http://www.tarsandsaction.org/nations-largest-environmental-organizations-stand-together-to-oppose-oil-pipeline/

Press Release:

Aug. 24, 2011

Nation’s Largest Environmental Organizations Stand Together To Oppose Oil Pipeline

Washington, DC — The heads of the nation’s largest environmental organizations—often at odds on the best strategy for combating climate change—released a letter today calling on President Obama to block the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would span from the tar sands of Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico. (1)

As another 56 people headed to jail today in the largest civil disobedience protests in the environmental movement’s recent history (2), the leaders of groups as diverse as Greenpeace and the Environmental Defense Fund told the president, “there is not an inch of daylight between our policy position on the Keystone XL pipeline, and those of the protesters being arrested daily outside the White House.”

“On an issue as complicated as climate, there will often be disagreements over tactics and goals—just recall the differences over the Senate climate bill this time last year,” said Bill McKibben, one of the organizers of the protests for tarsandsaction.org. “But there are some projects so obviously dangerous that they unify everyone, and the Keystone XL pipeline is the best example yet.”

The leaders of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Defense Fund, the National Wildlife Federation, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, and the Rainforest Action Network also made it clear they counted on President Obama to take decisive action to block the pipeline. “We expect nothing less,” they said, describing the pipeline battle as “perhaps the biggest climate test you face between now and the election” and adding that denying the permit would trigger a “surge of enthusiasm from the green base that supported you so strongly in the last election.”

In their letter, the leaders cited dangers to the climate, the risks of disastrous spills and leaks, and the economic damage that will come from continued dependence on fossil fuel in their letter, concluding, “this is a terrible project.”

The civil disobedience protests—now in their fifth day, and scheduled to last through September 3—played some role in the leaders’ decision to take a stand, though many of the organizations do not themselves engage in such protest.

“I have worked in the environmental movement since the first earth day in 1970, and this is reminding me of the spirit and unity we had back then. We are all together on this,” said Gus Speth, a founder of the NRDC in the 1970s and head of the Council on Environmental Quality under President Carter, who was among those arrested last Saturday and spent two nights in DC’s Central Cell Block.

“For those of us out there in front of the White House, the best thing about this ringing statement is that the administration won’t be able to play one group off against another by making small concessions here and there,” said McKibben. “They’ve all shown that there is one way to demonstrate to the environmental base that the rhetoric of Obama’s 2008 campaign is still meaningful—and that’s to veto this pipeline. Since he can do it without even consulting Congress, this is one case where we’ll be able to see exactly how willing he is to match the rhetoric of his 2008 campaign.”

1. The text of the letter follows:

Dear President Obama:
Many of the organizations we head do not engage in civil disobedience; some do. Regardless, speaking as individuals, we want to let you know that there is not an inch of daylight between our policy position on the Keystone Pipeline and those of the very civil protesters being arrested daily outside the White House. This is a terrible project–many of the country’s leading climate scientists have explained why in their letter last month to you. It risks many of our national treasures to leaks and spills. And it reduces incentives to make the transition to job-creating clean fuels.

You have a clear shot to deny the permit, without any interference from Congress. It’s perhaps the biggest climate test you face between now and the election. If you block it, you will trigger a surge of enthusiasm from the green base that supported you so strongly in the last election. We expect nothing less.


Fred Krupp, Environmental Defense Fund
Michael Brune, Sierra Club
Frances Beinecke, Natural Resources Defense Council
Phil Radford, Greenpeace
Larry Schweiger, National Wildlife Federation
Erich Pica, Friends of the Earth
Rebecca Tarbotton, Rainforest Action Network
May Boeve, 350.org
Gene Karpinski, League of Conservation Voters
Margie Alt, Environment America

2. To date, 275 people have been arrested at the White House protesting the Keystone XL pipeline.

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Amnesty for the Indefensible

From Truth Dig: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/amnesty_for_the_indefensible_20110823/

By Robert Scheer
Posted on Aug 23, 2011

They will get away with it, at least in this life. “They” are the Wall Street usurers, people of a sort condemned in Scripture, who have brought more misery to this nation than we have known since the Great Depression. “They” will not suffer for their crimes because they have a majority ownership position in our political system. That is the meaning of the banking plea bargain that the Obama administration is pressuring state attorneys general to negotiate with the titans of the financial world.

It is a sellout deal that, in return for a pittance of compensation by banks to ripped-off mortgage holders, would grant the banks blanket immunity from any prosecution. That is intended to short-circuit investigations by a score of aggressive state officials, inquiries that offer the public a last best hope to get to the bottom of the housing scandal that has cost U.S. homeowners $6.6 trillion in home equity in the past five years and left 14.6 million Americans owing more than their homes are worth.

The $20 billion or so that the banks would pony up is chump change to them compared with the trillions that the Fed and other public agencies spent to bail them out. The banks were given direct cash subsidies, virtually zero-interest loans, and the Fed took $2 trillion in bad paper off their hands while the banks exacerbated the banking crisis they had created through additional shady practices, including fraudulent mortgage foreclosures.

Yet the administration has rushed to the aid of the banks once again and is attempting to intimidate the few state attorneys general who have the gumption to protect the public interest they are sworn to serve. As Gretchen Morgenson of The New York Times reported:

“Eric T. Schneiderman, the attorney general of New York, has come under increasing pressure from the Obama administration to drop his opposition to a wide-ranging state settlement with banks over dubious foreclosure practices. …

Continue reading at:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/amnesty_for_the_indefensible_20110823/

NYAG Eric Schneiderman Pushes Back After Being Kicked Off Mortgage Abuse Investigation

From The New York Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/2011/08/nyag-eric-schneiderman-pushes-back-after-being-kicked-off-mortgage-abuse-inves

BY Celeste Katz
August 24, 2011

After being pushed off a national panel of state attorneys general looking into subprime mortgage abuses, Eric Scheiderman is basically telling the guys who ousted him where to file their briefs.

As we noted in Wake-Up Call, Reuters reported that Schneiderman, a Democrat in his first term as AG, “has voiced concerns over a proposed settlement between major banks and a coalition of federal and state officials over claims of foreclosure abuses. He has come under increasing pressure to approve the deal.”

Schneiderman is certainly framing himself as the good guy in this situation — someone who wants to delve deeply into mortgage irregularities instead of simply reaching a fast settlement and getting the whole thing over with.

In an email to campaign supporters today, which came with the subject line “Standing Up For You,” he wrote:

Continue reading at:  http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/2011/08/nyag-eric-schneiderman-pushes-back-after-being-kicked-off-mortgage-abuse-inves

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EFF’s Warrantless Wiretap Lawsuits Begin August 1st: Spread Awareness of Civil Liberties Violations

From Death and Taxes: http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/134998/effs-warrantless-wiretap-lawsuits-begin-august-1st-spread-awareness-of-civil-liberties-violations/

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has two cases dealing with telecommunications privacy set to begin August 1st— Jewel v. NSA (on appeal) and Hepting v. AT&T.

In Hepting vs. AT&T, the EFF sued AT&T on behalf of its customers for its collaboration with the NSA “in the massive, illegal program to wiretap and data-mine Americans’ communications.”

The Jewel v. NSA case has the EFF suing the NSA and other government agencies “on behalf of AT&T customers to stop the illegal, unconstitutional, and ongoing dragnet surveillance of their communications and communications records” in the warrantless wiretapping program. Jewel v. NSA was brought by five AT&T customers and is currently on appeal.

Jewel v. NSA “also targets the individuals responsible for creating, authorizing, and implementing the illegal program, including former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney, Cheney’s former chief of staff David Addington, former Attorney General and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, and other individuals who ordered or participated in the warrantless domestic surveillance.”

Hepting v. NSA included undisputed evidence from former AT&T telecommunications technician Mark Klein, who demonstrated that AT&T routed internet traffic to a secret room in San Francisco controlled by the NSA.

The EFF is arguing that the FISA Amendments Act (FISAAA) “is unconstitutional in granting to the president broad discretion to block the courts from considering the core constitutional privacy claims of millions of Americans.” (FISAAA, signed by George W. Bush, allows the U.S. Attorney General to require dismissal “of the telecoms’ participation in the warrantless surveillance program if the government secretly certifies to the court that the surveillance did not occur, was legal, or was authorized by the president.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.deathandtaxesmag.com/134998/effs-warrantless-wiretap-lawsuits-begin-august-1st-spread-awareness-of-civil-liberties-violations/

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