Romney: Cut health care for the poor, not defense spending

From Raw Story:

By David Edwards
Monday, November 21, 2011

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Monday suggested using drastic cuts to health care for the poorest Americans to fund the Department of Defense.

Speaking to employees of BAE Systems, one of the nation’s largest defense contractors, the candidate said that President Barack Obama and members of the “super committee” should agree to scale back the Medicaid program in order to prevent $600 billion in cuts to defense spending over ten years.

“A doomsday scenario for our military is not the right course, given where the world is headed,” Romney remarked. “I would call on the president — and do call on the president — to immediately introduce legislation which says we will not have a $600 billion cut to America’s military. We should not cut any funding from our base Department of Defense budget. That should not occur.”

 “And I would apply the $600 billion [in cuts] that were anticipated being imposed upon the military, I would take those and apply them to other parts of the federal budget,” he continued. “And there are a number of candidates for that. One of them, of course, would be to take something like Medicaid, which is our health care program for the poor, and return that program to the states.”
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McDonald’s, Target drop egg supplier after animal cruelty report

From CNN:

By Dana Ford, CNN
November 19, 2011

(CNN) — McDonald’s and Target dropped an egg supplier this week after an activist group released disturbing video showing what it says shows animal cruelty at three of the company’s barns.

The undercover video, released by Mercy for Animals, was allegedly shot between May and August at facilities run by Sparboe Farms in Colorado, Iowa and Minnesota. It shows hens crammed in crowded cages, workers burning beaks and one, trying to shove a bird inside the pocket of a co-worker, apparently for fun. Another worker presses his thumb against the back of a chick’s neck until it breaks.

“Regarding the undercover videos, the behavior on tape is disturbing and completely unacceptable. McDonald’s wants to assure our customers that we demand humane treatment of animals by our suppliers. We take this responsibility — along with our customers’ trust — very seriously. It’s important to note that the most alarming actions on video did not occur at Sparboe’s Vincent, Iowa, facility that supplies McDonald’s. Nonetheless, our extremely high standards for our suppliers prohibit this conduct,” McDonald’s said in a statement, announcing its decision to cut ties with Sparboe Farms.

Target similarly said it was dropping Sparboe Farms, which describes itself as the fifth-largest shell egg producer and marketer in the United States.

The Minnesota-based egg supplier said it first heard about the abuse allegations from ABC News, which conducted an investigation of the company.

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Hartmann: Aren’t we ALL the press?

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OWS: To Change the Country, We Just Might Have to Change Ourselves

From Alternet:

If we are going to contribute to this huge fight against unbridled global capitalism, we must accept the anxiety and uncertainty of doing things differently.

By Don Hazen
November 21, 2011

The emergence of what we know as Occupy Wall Street, or the 99 Percent Movement, has taken nearly everyone by surprise, producing a transformation of public consciousness. There is little doubt that something striking has taken place, far from our normal range of expectations. As a result, many thousands of progressives, excited that the logjam in American politics has been psychologically broken up, are still wondering exactly what has happened and why. Suddenly the style and conventional wisdom of traditional progressive models for social change have been pushed aside in favor of “horizontalism,” general assemblies, culture jamming, and many other unconventional ways of doing politics.

The Antecedents of OWS

The DNA strands of some of these alternative approaches can be traced to Europe’s Situationist International movement of the ’50s and ’60s, which combined radical politics with avant-garde art, and helped lead to a general strike in France in 1968. There are echoes, too, of American progressive movements that rose in response to the inequality, corporate excesses and corruption of the Gilded Age and the Roaring ’20s. There are also reverberations from early in the labor movement of the large-scale industrial strikes of the 1930s, and also of the civil rights movement, and the women’s movement’s model of consciousness raising. Powerful acknowledgement must be given to the Arab Spring, for igniting the world’s imagination. In Egypt, power that seemed incontestable was contested; protesters didn’t have the answers beyond the end of Mubarak — still they came and stayed.

Strong antecedents can also be found in the student-led antiwar movement of the late 1960s, which was also a fight against the dehumanizing effects of corporate power. Then, many young men faced being drafted to fight in a destructive and despised war. These young people and their families pushed back, saying, “Hell no, we won’t go!” Many of today’s millennials are also fighting back against circumstances that affect them directly. Student debt is more than $1 trillion, while unemployment for young people is at Depression-era levels. Declaring bankruptcy does not erase student loans; those crushing debts will follow them forever. Many of these young adults see their futures at stake. Not surprisingly, they want a solution — either the jobs that would enable them to pay off their loans, or forgiveness of debt incurred under false pretenses.

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Police attack Occupy CUNY students

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The Negative Impact of Transsexual and Transgender Pornography and Porn Stars

I get a number of News Feeds for Transsexual and Transgender news.  Many are pre-filtered by TS/TG sisters before they are sent out and contain news stories and blog posts.  Those particular news feeds rarely if ever include news about TS/TG porn or porn stars.

But I also get the Google News Feed.

I’ve watched the porn industry become ever meaner and nastier over the years, not that its material was ever exactly up lifting or really even sex positive.

Over the last few months starting with the release of Israel Luna’s “Ticked off Trannies with Knives” I’ve watched TS/TG folks rebel against being labeled “Trannies”.  I won’t even try to defend the term, which actually grew out of the bar scene and was an inclusive term years before the coining of Transgender as umbrella.

We shouldn’t have waited as long to complain about the term.  Folks should have started complaining about the time Christian Siriano started his tired “Hot trannie mess” crap.

How come we treat the Porn industry which has taken to requiring performers engage in unprotected sex as some sort of sacred cow when they peddle “Trannie Porn” using the offending label?

“She-Male” is another grossly offensive term.

Generally speaking reputable and responsible bloggers will shut down commenters who insist on using that term as a descriptor of either transsexual (pre or post) and transgender women. On my blog that is a term that you had better use with care and not apply to an individual or class of people with out some serious qualifying or I will throw you on moderation.

Yet it is plastered all over the world of not only pornography but is used in  the sex ads that appear in the backs of the freebee newspapers.

That sort pornography degrades us, objectifies us and turns us into sub-human garbage.

All pornography dehumanizes those who appear in it.  I separate eroticism from pornography by how it places sex within the context of the lives of human beings.  Pornography divorces sexuality from the context of full lives of complete human beings.

Indeed it is a rare day that one of those news piece from the Google feed doesn’t include an item including either “she-male” or “trannie”

One doesn’t have to be a religious fanatic or radical feminist to see this as having a negative impact.

“Chicks with Dicks”… Ever wonder where that not terribly amusing trope came from?

Again we can thank the wonderful world of TS/TG Porn and TS/TG porn stars.

Yes I know the porn corporations exploit the porn workers, underpaying them for their degradation while making billions off of the filthy product they produce.  Yet there comes a time when people have to say, “Enough.”

There comes a time, when the people who participate in the making of a product that so damages the public image of transsexual and transgender people have to be called upon to cease their participation in the churning out of that product of oppression.

It is time to ask our TS/TG sisters who work in the Porno Industrial Complex to cease doing so..

“Trannie Porn” is a tool of oppression that objectifies and degrades not only those involved in its production but all transsexual and transgender women.

It reduces the public image of all of us to hyper-sexualized plastic  fantastic sex toys with huge tits and huge hot hard dicks.

It is every bit as viciously negative an image of TS/TG women as the oft circulated radfem/religious right image of us as sexual predators prowling the bathroom.

The idea that TS/TG women are pornographic sex toys helps create the image of our being worthless scum, which in turn contributes to the violence perpetrated upon so many of the people we wind up memorializing each year.

Yes, I think pornography degrades all women and I include TS/TG women in that context.

No I am not channeling Andrea Dworkin or Catherine MacKinnon.

Yes the damage has been done and it is probably too late to undo it.

I also recognize how there is a complex relationship of money, poverty, dubious fame and the creation of an idealized image of hyper-sexuality that is instilled in even very young girls.

I don’t have the answers and I’m only pointing out that if we are going to banish these degrading terms and images from our language perhaps we need to start with the industry which uses them as it stock and trade and which is responsible for much of the degrading image of us.


Confusing Sex and Rape

Many people seem unconformable with the idea that men rape male people just as they rape female people.  There is a tendency to blame the person who is penetrated by the penis of the rapist rather than the rapist who is often seen as exercising male prerogative and after all the victim must have done something to arouse his uncontrollable lust….

From The New York Times:

By Published: November 19, 2011

AS the Jerry Sandusky caseat Penn State University shows, reporting on allegations of sex crimes poses a challenge not only to get the story right but to deliver it in language that puts the facts in the proper light.

Some readers, responding to The New York Times’s first reports on the case, strongly objected to wording in the articles that, in their view, either underplayed the details or wrongly applied the language of consensual sex to the narrative.

The objections focused on the most severe of the accusations against Mr. Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant coach. According to the grand jury report, he subjected a boy estimated to be 10 years old to “anal intercourse” in locker room showers at the university in 2002.

Jennifer Crichton, a reader from Manhattan, said The Times’s initial article on Nov. 5 missed the mark when it described the testimony of a Penn State graduate assistant about the incident. As The Times put it, he told the grand jury that he saw Mr. Sandusky “sexually assaulting a boy in the shower.”

“Why is this described as ‘sexual assault’ and not as ‘rape’ ”? Ms. Crichton wrote.

“My question for The Times,” wrote Frederick Lazare of Houston, “is why did it not immediately tell its readers that the student assistant saw Jerry Sandusky raping a child. That was in the grand jury report.”

Lilith Fowler, a reader from Milwaukee, objected to a Nov. 9 Times account in which the graduate assistant was said to have testified to the grand jury that “he saw Mr. Sandusky having anal sex with the boy.”

“The boy, age 10 or 11, has no ability to consent,” Ms. Fowler wrote, “so this is not anal sex, it is a rape, and The Times should call it that.”

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Penn State Teaches Rape Culture 101

From Ms Blog:

November 17, 2011

A man sexually assaults children. Witnesses are appalled. But no one tells anyone outside their tight circle. The assailant is eventually accused of attacking eight boys. Yet members of the community rally around the perpetrator and those who protected him.

I’m talking, of course, of community support for Penn State’s coaching staff, particularly head football coach Joe Paterno, who was fired for protecting defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, who now stands accused of 40 counts of sexual abuse.

Shockingly, it’s not especially unusual for communities to rally around perpetrators over victims.

At least when the perps are powerful.

And that all reflects what’s typical of rape culture.

In 2008 a 16-year-old high school cheerleader in a small Texas town said she was raped at a post-game party by Rakheem Bolton, a member of the basketball team. He and two friends forced her into a room to commit the assault. When others tried to get into the room the men fled. Bolton left clothing behind and threatened the homeowner when he refused to return them. Bolton eventually pled guilty to a lesser charge.

School officials responded by asking the cheerleader to avoid the school cafeteria and homecoming activities. And then they kicked her off the cheerleading squad for refusing to root for her rapist. She sued the district attorney, the school district and the principal, but an appeals court ruled against her.

In the summer of 2004 three varsity members of the Mepham High School football team were sexually abused at training camp. The young men were sodomized with pine cones, broom handles and golf balls which had all been coated with a mineral ice that causes severe pain.

Many of the witnesses felt terrible about what had happened. Yet they kept silent.

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The police attack at UC Davis: The working class and the defense of democratic rights

From World Socialist Web Site:

Statement of the International Students for Social Equality
21 November 2011

Friday’s assault by University of California Davis police on a peaceful protest is an outrageous act of violence and intimidation. It is part of a nationwide wave of police repression against the Occupy movement, and a byproduct of the drive by university officials and big business politicians to enforce attacks on public education over the opposition of workers and students.

On Friday afternoon, A UC Davis police officer—later identified as Lt. John Pike—pepper sprayed the faces of a dozen protesters sitting on the ground with arms linked, sending two the hospital. Horrified onlookers pleaded with the officer to stop attacking the students, and chanted “shame on you” as the officer carried out the attack.

The attempt over the weekend by UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi to distance herself from the violence is a fraud, as is the “investigation” she has launched. The police were acting under the orders of the chancellor, who sent out a letter Friday warning students of police action, claiming, absurdly, that this was necessary so that students “could learn and work in a safe, secure environment without disruption.”

The police crackdown in Davis takes place within the context of a nationwide assault on public education, supported by both parties, and conducted in California under the leadership of Democratic Governor Jerry Brown. Responding to Brown’s budget cuts, UC and CSU regents are implementing or planning another round of sharp tuition increases that will make public education unaffordable for tens of thousands more working-class students.

The attack on peaceful student protesters at UC Davis is also part of a coordinated effort by mayors of major US cities—both Democrats and Republicans—to shut down Occupy protests through violence.

Police have used truncheons against peaceful students at UC Berkeley and tear gas and rubber bullets against demonstrators in Oakland. Last week, police cleared out Occupy Wall Street in a military-style operation. Throughout the country, nearly 4,000 people have been arrested for seeking to exercise their basic democratic rights.

Increasingly, dissent is criminalized in the United States. This is in a country that regularly uses “democratic” pretenses to invade countries and kill thousands of civilians. Had these events occurred overseas, in Iran or Syria, they would have been denounced by the media and both parties.

The American ruling class is once again demonstrating that it will not tolerate any opposition to its interests. The attack on the Occupy protests makes clear that the defense of democratic rights is incompatible with the enormous levels of social inequality that sparked the Occupy movement itself.

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John Perkins, “Our Economy has been Stolen by Robber Barons”

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Religious Right Using Abortion to Lure Black Voters to GOP

In 2008, in California the Black Churches were used by the right wing in the fight against marriage equality.

From Huffington Post:

Posted: 11/21/11

“Please, come join us,” insisted an attractive college student flashing her bright Aquafresh smile.

Before I was able to decline her friendly invitation I was gently pulled into a large prayer circle of 30 or so Charismatic Christians. “I’m sorry my hand is sweaty,” the girl said with a sheepish grin.

We quickly surrounded a handful of young preachers who whooped and hollered before surrendering English for the unintelligible language of tongues. The manic participants sounded like a cross between a prayer service and a Native American tribe preparing for battle.

Eventually, they raised their hands toward the sky pointing to God, which allowed me to escape and enter the main seating area at Ford Field in Detroit. It was in this arena where Lou Engle, founder of The Call, had gathered 27,000 fundamentalist Christians from across the nation for a 24-hour prayer session and fast.

I had expected a gay-bashing and Muslim-trashing extravaganza. While red meat was certainly on the menu, it was not the typical all-you-can-eat carnivorous buffet. It took several hours to figure out what was really going on — but I gasped when the disturbing pattern finally revealed itself. This elaborate show had all the trappings of a modern religious revival — from the thumping music to the two gargantuan video screens suspended above the enraptured audience. But this ostensibly religious event was little more than a political front.

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EPA Could Save 35,700 Lives by Limiting Soot, but Won’t

From Mother Jones:

By Jaeah Lee
Thu Nov. 17, 2011

Stronger national standards on fine particulate matter could prevent 35,700 premature deaths and save Americans $281 billion per year, according to a new report. Earth Justice, the American Lung Association, and Clean Air Task Force published the report in conjunction with a petition they filed yesterday (PDF) against the Environmental Protection Agency for failing to meet its deadline to revisit the standard.

Fine particulate matter (otherwise known as PM 2.5 or more commonly as soot) is a mixture of solid and liquid particles that derives largely from diesel vehicles and equipent as well as coal-fired power plants. Soot is formed when tailpipe and smokestack emissions—including sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides (both of which are classified as hazardous under the Clean Air Act)—mix with other chemicals in the atmosphere.

While not considered a hazardous pollutant by EPA standards, there’s been a growing amount of scientific evidence supporting PM 2.5’s health risks, including respiratory and heart diseases, aggravation of asthma, and diabetes. PM 2.5 is so fine (about 1/30 the width of a human hair) that it bypasses our usual mechanisms to dispel irritating air particles, like coughing and sneezing. Even just a few hours of exposure can aggravate lung disease, asthma attacks, or acute bronchitis, the report’s authors say. Exposure has led to incidents of missing school and work, and even emergency visits to the hospital.

The report, citing previous studies, says that children are highly vulnerable to getting sick from PM 2.5 because much of their respiratory systems are still developing, and because they spend more time outdoors than do adults. The report also points out that elders and diabetics—who are more prone to heart or lung disease—are at risk, as are low-income groups, which “often live closer to the sources of soot pollution and have less access to medical care.”

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No press freedom for OWS coverage?

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Occupy Wall Street and the Importance of Creative Protest

From The Nation:

Allison Kilkenny
November 21, 2011

Perhaps the single biggest factor that helped lead to the Occupy movement’s success in capturing the media and public’s attention has been its creativity. Novel protest strategies have served as OWS’s foundation since its first days. The very idea of occupying, and sleeping in, a park twenty-four hours a day was new and exciting.

Up until Occupy, most protests had become exercises in futility. Protesters would show up with their sad, limp carboard signs, march around for a little while—maybe press would show up, but most likely not—and then everyone would go home. Hardly effective stuff.

Even when the protests were massive, say during the lead-up to the Iraq invasion, media had learned to ignore protests as being the hallmark of a bygone era of granola-munching hippies. Whether consciously or unconsciously, the media helped hand protesters loss after loss, perhaps recognizing the fact that protest waged within the perimeters constructed by city officials is completely ineffective.

Demonstrators need a permit to march, and even then must remain on the sidewalk and never disrupt traffic; they need a permit to use a bullhorn, a permit to play music, etc. Protesters, in other words, can protest as long as they never disrupt the normalcy of everyday living, which of course defeats the concept of meaningful protest in the first place.

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Marijuana is Good for the Brain

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Boring Cruel Romantics

From The New York Times:

Published: November 20, 2011

There’s a word I keep hearing lately: “technocrat.” Sometimes it’s used as a term of scorn — the creators of the euro, we’re told, were technocrats who failed to take human and cultural factors into account. Sometimes it’s a term of praise: the newly installed prime ministers of Greece and Italy are described as technocrats who will rise above politics and do what needs to be done.

I call foul. I know from technocrats; sometimes I even play one myself. And these people — the people who bullied Europe into adopting a common currency, the people who are bullying both Europe and the United States into austerity — aren’t technocrats. They are, instead, deeply impractical romantics.

They are, to be sure, a peculiarly boring breed of romantic, speaking in turgid prose rather than poetry. And the things they demand on behalf of their romantic visions are often cruel, involving huge sacrifices from ordinary workers and families. But the fact remains that those visions are driven by dreams about the way things should be rather than by a cool assessment of the way things really are.

And to save the world economy we must topple these dangerous romantics from their pedestals.

Let’s start with the creation of the euro. If you think that this was a project driven by careful calculation of costs and benefits, you have been misinformed.

The truth is that Europe’s march toward a common currency was, from the beginning, a dubious project on any objective economic analysis. The continent’s economies were too disparate to function smoothly with one-size-fits-all monetary policy, too likely to experience “asymmetric shocks” in which some countries slumped while others boomed. And unlike U.S. states, European countries weren’t part of a single nation with a unified budget and a labor market tied together by a common language.

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