Friday Night Fun and Culture: Judy Collins

Music always has room for many male stars.  For female stars there is usually room for only a few, and then they are placed in competition with each other.  In the 1960s there were all sorts of incredible women performing what was loosely termed folk music.  While Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell immediately come to mind there was also Judy Collins, Sweet Judy Blue Eyes, which by the way is the title of her recent memoir.

Weather Extremes Hint At Public Health Impacts Of Climate Change

From Huffington Post:

Posted: 12/ 8/11

After a year of unprecedented destruction attributed to weather extremes, federal officials and environmental advocates are focusing increased attention on the potential health impacts of global warming, which most scientists expect to spur not just more frequent instances of extreme heat, but also increases in rainfall, drought, snow, floods and violent storms.

“Climate change poses a serious threat to public health,” Dr. George Luber, the associate director for climate change at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Thursday. Luber was speaking to reporters as part of the launch of an online, extreme-weather mapping tool developed by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“We have to really understand the local context of these extreme events and how they impact our communities by looking at them in what we call a spatially specific way, or in a way that really gets down to the geography of risk,” Luber said, “by addressing those particular aspects of our communities, our cities and our populations that make people more susceptible to the negative health consequences of climate change.”

Rising temperatures are expected to have an impact on all aspects of the public health infrastructure — from air and water quality to food safety, Luber noted. A warmer atmosphere, for example, retains more water, increasing the likelihood of historically heavy rains, which can subsequently overwhelm treatment facilities and spread disease. Rising temperatures can also exacerbate smog, causing increased instances of respiratory illness, or alter the ecology of insect-borne diseases like Lyme, West Nile virus and others.

“Recall that the largest waterborne disease outbreak in the United States — in Milwaukee in 1993 I believe — was preceded by the heaviest rainfall in 50 years,” Luber said. That event — an outbreak of the microscopic parasite cryptosporidium — resulted in 403,000 cases of intestinal illness, 54 deaths, and nearly $100 million in heath-related costs.

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Germany and France seek to control the Eurozone?

Constitutional foundation laid for trans equality

From The Washington Blade:

By Dana Beyer
December 8, 2011

Reposted with permission

Co-authored by Jonathan Shurberg

On Dec. 6, 2011, a three-judge panel of the Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued a decision in the case of Glenn v. Brumby, a case involving a transgender woman who was fired from her Georgia state government job after disclosing her intention to transition from male to female. Her boss justified the firing by stating, “It’s unsettling to think of someone dressed in women’s clothing with male sex organs inside that clothing” and further concluded that a male in women’s clothing is “unnatural.” The trial court granted relief to Glenn on the basis of sex discrimination under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

There was no reason to think, prior to the opinion being issued, that this decision would be a favorable one. The 11th Circuit is arguably the most conservative in the nation, and one of the three judges on the panel hearing the Glenn case was William H. Pryor, Jr., formerly the attorney general of Alabama. While in that position, Pryor had submitted an amicus brief in support of the State of Texas in Lawrence v. Texas, in which the Supreme Court eventually outlawed anti-sodomy and other anti-gay laws. So Judge Pryor was certainly no friend to the LGBT community.

The Dec. 6 opinion, written by Judge Rosemary Barkett, a 1993 Clinton appointee, not only affirmed the trial judge’s ruling in favor of Glenn, but did so in broad and sweeping fashion. The court began by noting that, “[a] person is defined as transgender precisely because of the perception that his or her behavior transgresses gender stereotypes. There is thus a congruence between discriminating against transgender and transsexual individuals and discrimination on the basis of gender-based behavioral norms.” After surveying a series of other federal court decisions that support this proposition, the Court in Glenn reached its conclusion:

“An individual cannot be punished because of his or her perceived gender non-conformity. Because these protections are afforded to everyone, they cannot be denied to a transgender individual. The nature of the discrimination is the same; it may differ in degree but not in kind, and discrimination on this basis is a form of sex-based discrimination that is subject to heightened scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause. Ever since the Supreme Court began to apply heightened scrutiny to sex-based classifications, its consistent purpose has been to eliminate discrimination on the basis of gender stereotypes.”

These are sweeping words, clearly and concisely bringing the transgender community under the umbrella of basic equal protection principles.

In addition, the decision effectively undermines the “bathroom panic” argument of the opposition, stating that such fears “hypothesized or invented post hoc in response to litigation” are not genuine justifications.

Although the decision is clearly a positive and welcome one, it’s critical to recognize its limitations. As it is not a ruling based on Title 7 of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, it only applies in cases against government action — equal protection applies against the government, not against private actors such as businesses. However, Title 7 is frequently referenced in the opinion, which should ease the way forward on the next Title 7 case. There have also already been suggestions that state and local transgender protection laws are now either unnecessary or even illegal. We’re scratching our heads about that last one.

The fact is that, as welcome as the Glenn decision is, it sets a floor for basic equal protection coverage, not a ceiling, and even then, it only applies against government discrimination. In order to protect against private acts of discrimination, state and federal statutes banning such acts are necessary, and such statutes certainly may provide more protections than does the constitutional principle of equal protection, “filling in the details,” so to speak. In Maryland, we are poised to pursue such a statute at the state level, and the ringing endorsement of transgender equality under the Constitution set forth in the Glenn decision can only help speed the process of passing a fully inclusive law to protect transgender individuals from discrimination.

Dana Beyer, a retired physician and surgeon, is a trans advocate and executive director of Gender Rights Maryland. Jonathan Shurberg, a board member of Gender Rights Maryland and chair of its legislative committee, is a lawyer in private practice in Silver Spring. Reach them via

US attempts to shutdown OWS online

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Abortion is Legal: So Why is Self-Abortion Care a Crime?

From RH Reality Check:

by Susan Yanow and Steph Herold
December 6, 2011

Last week, a 20-year-old woman in New York City was arrested on charges of “self-induced abortion” and faces first-degree misdemeanor charges.  Initial news reports indicate that she intentionally caused the miscarriage/abortion of her 24-week fetus.  The woman disposed of the fetus in what was probably the only way she could think of: wrapped in plastic bags and placed in the trash receptacle of her apartment building.

The prosecution of this woman echoes similar cases in Idaho, Massachusetts and South Carolina.  In spite of ever-increasing restrictions, abortion is legal through the second-trimester throughout the United States, although it is inaccessible to many women.  Yet if women safely end their pregnancies without medical supervision, they face criminal penalties.

The key word here is “safely.” There are many misconceptions about what happens during a non-surgical abortion.  In fact, abortion with medications (such as misoprostol alone or in combination with mifepristone) causes a miscarriage.  The symptoms of abortion with medicines in the first trimester are exactly the same as a miscarriage, and as safe.  Rarely do women who have a miscarriage need medical attention; the same is true for women having a medication abortion.

In the second trimester, the risks of a complication after a miscarriage, whether occurring spontaneously or provoked by medicines, is somewhat higher.  However, it is notable that the woman in New York City, like the women prosecuted in three other states, was in the second trimester and did not require any kind of medical intervention after her abortion.  We have to ask then – is the outcry when women choose to self-induce truly driven by the need to protect the health and safety of the woman?  Or is this another example of over-regulation because of the politics of abortion?

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Newt Gingrich: Gov. Should Allow Terror Attacks To Remind People How Much We Need Them

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Marching Off the Cliff

From In These Times:

The world wants UN climate talks in Durban to succeed, but U.S. intransigence blocks the way forward.

BY Noam Chomsky
December 6, 2011

A task of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, now under way in Durban, South Africa, is to extend earlier policy decisions that were limited in scope and only partially implemented.

These decisions trace back to the U.N. Convention of 1992 and the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, which the U.S. refused to join. The Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period ends in 2012. A fairly general pre-conference mood was captured by a New York Times headline: “Urgent Issues but Low Expectations.”

As the delegates meet in Durban, a report on newly updated digests of polls by the Council on Foreign Relations and the Program on International Policy Attitudes reveals that “publics around the world and in the United States say their government should give global warming a higher priority and strongly support multilateral action to address it.”

Most U.S. citizens agree, though PIPA clarifies that the percentage “has been declining over the last few years, so that American concern is significantly lower than the global average–70 percent as compared to 84 percent.”

“Americans do not perceive that there is a scientific consensus on the need for urgent action on climate change–a large majority think that they will be personally affected by climate change eventually, but only a minority thinks that they are being affected now, contrary to views in most other countries. Americans tend to underestimate the level of concern among other Americans.”

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All-American Socialism?

From Huffington Post:

Professor, Duke Law School; Author, ‘A Tolerable Anarchy’
Posted: 12/ 8/11

Is socialism’s value as a meaningless scare-word played out yet? If so, maybe we can give it a second chance as a real idea. By treating the word as an all-purpose insult, we’ve lost touch with essential strands of American political thinking.

These ideas were vital to Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, and Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt, among others, and were friends, not enemies, to democracy and personal liberty. They aren’t usually called “socialism” — Americans have never been big on -isms, left or right — but they add up to an eclipsed tradition that would do the old word proud. Today they might help us make sense of the discontent that has turned Occupy Wall Street into a national phenomenon — and maybe even do something about it.

I’m an odd person to make this argument, which I hope is a good thing. I’ve written books and articles about the good that private property does, and some of my favorite thinkers are Adam Smith (the patron saint of capitalism), Edmund Burke (a touchstone conservative), and Henry David Thoreau (a conscientious would-be anarchist). Temperamentally I’m conservative, and I pretty much agree with Justice Robert Jackson that “the philosophy of the law and the culture of the democratic order come close to being the soul of the American people,” and that this is a good thing. But I think there are essential insights that we lose track of when we let “socialism” be turned into a slur.

One big idea is that, in a good country, people should have good work. In the nineteenth century, there was nothing odd or left-wing about this thought. Abraham Lincoln insisted in 1858 that American democracy included a vision of economic citizenship: no one should do degrading work, everyone should have the chance to use both his hands and his mind (otherwise, Lincoln asked, why were we created with both?), and any American who wanted it should be able to earn economic independence. Franklin Roosevelt sounded the same theme in 1932, calling for an “economic bill of rights” that would include the power “to make a comfortable living” for anyone willing to work. Lyndon Johnson’s vision of a Great Society, “where the meaning of our lives matches the marvelous products of our labor” was in Lincoln’s spirit: the economy should serve the human needs for dignity, personal growth, and connection with other people. Degrading work can undermine all three as surely as no work at all.

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Obama blames Kathleen Sebelius for decision that teens are too dumb to use morning after pill

From Daily Kos:

Kaili Joy GrayFollow
Thu Dec 08, 2011

Well, this is a real profile in couragefrom President Obama:

President Obama said on Thursday he “did not get involved” in the decision to prevent young girls from buying the controversial morning-after “Plan B” pill in drug stores. He told reporters at the White House the decision was made by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. But he gave it his full backing despite criticism from women’s health activists.

That would be the decision, announced yesterday, that in a never-before-seen decision to overrule the Food and Drug Administration’s recommendation, Kathleen Sebelius decided girls under the age of 17 are too dumb and immature to use the morning after pill without a prescription.

First of all, it seems highly unlikely that Sebelius made this unexpected, unprecedented and rather shocking decision without any input whatsoever from the White House. Especially now, as the country awaits the president’s decision about whether to cover contraception without co-pays under the Affordable Care Act—as he’d said would be the policy—or whether to side with the Catholic Bishops by throwing the 99 percent of women who use, or have used birth control, under that all-too-familiar, high-mileage bus. This looks a lot more like a decision to let Sebelius be the scapegoat for a decision that, inevitably, is only further infuriating those whom the president seems so devoted to alienating.

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BOBBY SEALE – Unfinished Business

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Democrats Occupy Occupy

From Ted Rall:

By Ted Rall
December 7th, 2011

MoveOn Co-opts OWS Rhetoric, Dilutes Its Message

If Democrats were doing their jobs, there wouldn’t be an Occupy movement.

The last 40 years has left liberals and progressives without a party and working people without an advocate. The party of FDR, JFK and LBJ abandoned its principles, embracing and voting along with Reagan and two Bushes. Clinton’s biggest accomplishments, NAFTA and welfare reform, were GOP platform planks. These New Democrats were indistinguishable from Republicans, waging optional wars, exporting jobs overseas and coddling corrupt CEOs while the rest of us—disconnected from power, our needs repeatedly ignored—sat and watched in silent rage.

Barack Obama is merely the latest of these phony Democrats. He’s the most recent in a line of corporate stooges going back to Jimmy Carter.

The Occupiers revolted under Obama’s watch for two reasons. The gap between the promise of his soaring rhetoric and the basic indecency of his cold-blooded disregard for the poor and unemployed was too awful to ignore. Moreover, the post-2008 economic collapse pushed a dam of insults and pain and anger that had built up over years past its breaking point.

Haphazard and disorganized and ad hoc, the Occupy movement is an imperfect, spontaneous response that fills a yawning demand gap in the American marketplace of ideas. For the first time since 1972, the spectrum of Left from liberalism to progressivism to socialism to communism to left anarchism has an audience (if not much of an organization).

Now the very same Democrats who killed liberalism and blocked leftists from candidacies, appointments, even the slightest participation in discussion—are trying to co-opt the Occupy movement.

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Britain blocks Lisbon treaty route to saving euro

From The Guardian UK:

Countries using single currency will pursue side-agreement to end crisis after David Cameron’s refusal to yield sovereignty

, , in Brussels and agencies
The Guardian
, Thursday 8 December 2011

Eurozone countries are to go it alone with an intergovernmental deal between themselves after Britain blocked changes to the Lisbon treaty aimed at saving the currency.

After a marathon overnight meeting in Brussels the president of the European council, Herman van Rompuy, said the intergovernmental treaty would include the 17 eurozone states plus six other European Union countries but not all 27 EU members.

The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, praised the plan. “I have always said, the 17 states of the eurogroup have to regain credibility,” she said. “And I believe with today’s decisions this can and will be achieved.”

Van Rompuy said the countries would provide up to €200bn ($268bn) in extra resources to the International Monetary Fund.

The French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, said early on Friday he would have preferred a treaty among all the members of the European Union. But that could not be achieved, he said, because the British proposed that they be exempted from certain financial regulations.

“We could not accept this” because a lack of sufficient regulation caused the current problems, Sarkozy said.

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World Bank Creating Poverty

The insane wealth of Walmart’s founding family

No one should be allowed to accumulate this much wealth without the government stepping in and saying enough.

From Salon:

Just six members of Walmart’s Walton clan are worth as much as the bottom 30 percent of all Americans

By Justin Elliot
Thursday, Dec 8, 2011

There’s been a constant stream of headlines about the widening gap between rich and poor for months now, but this is pretty remarkable: Just six members of the Walton family, heirs to the Walmart fortune, possess wealth equal to that of the entire bottom 30 percent of Americans.

That’s according to a new analysis by Sylvia Allegretto, a labor economist at the University of California at Berkeley’s Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics.

The calculation is based on data from 2007, the most recent round of the Federal Reserve Board’s Survey of Consumer Finances, which measures the net worth of Americans. (The extensive survey is performed once every three years, and the 2010 edition is expected to be released next year.)

Allegretto then compared those numbers to the net worth of the six members of the Walton clan as reported on the Forbes 400 list in 2007. They are all children or children-in-law of the founders of Walmart. Their total net worth that year: $69.7 billion.

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The Partisans: Rick Perry – Weak, man.

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Walker’s Ruling Appears Unshakeable After Latest Prop. 8 Hearing

From The Advocate:

By Neal Broverman
December 08, 2011

In what was likely the last hearing before a ruling is delivered on the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday appeared unconvinced that a previous ruling on the ban be tossed because the judge was in a longterm same-sex relationship.

Before the issue of whether former Chief District Judge Vaughn Walker should have recused himself from the 2010 case where he ruled Prop. 8 unconstitutional, the Ninth Circuit dealt with the release of videotapes of that trial. Prop. 8 proponents have been fighting for years to keep the tapes unavailable to the public, while gay rights advocates want the public to see them. Both David Thompson, arguing for the Prop. 8 proponents, and Ted Olson, arguing against Prop. 8 for the American Foundation for Equal Rights, were grilled by Ninth Circuit judges. Thompson made the case that witnesses would be harassed and intimidated should the tapes be made public; judges didn’t seem convinced. Nontheless, they argued with Olson over whether tapes of the trial were necessary when transcripts were available.

Moving to the issue of Walker, it seemed the Prop. 8 proponents had a much bigger mountain to climb. Lawyer Charles Cooper tried to convince the judges that Walker had a stake in the Prop. 8 case, since he was in a longterm gay relationship. The judges questioned whether it was clear Walker wanted to marry, since he didn’t during the brief period when same-sex marriage was legal in California.

AFER’s David Boies rebutted Cooper’s arguments, asking the Ninth Circuit panel whether a heterosexual judge committed to opposite-sex marriage would have to disclose that information or recuse himself or herself. Boies added that the Prop. 8 supporters are singling out minority judges and holding them to different standards. Therese Stewart with the City and County of San Francisco then argued against dismissal of Walker’s decision, citing numerous examples of judges sharing interests with a large group and not being disqualified.

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