The Health of Children and Consumers is Threatened by Conservative Push for Corporate Speech Rights

From Alternet:

Some pro-business federal judges have shockingly approved a constitutional right for big companies to avoid revealing product dangers on labels.

By Steven Rosenfeld
December 12, 2011

In recent years, corporate lawyers representing industries whose products touch millions of American lives have stopped numerous government efforts to better inform the public about possible health risks with an eyebrow-raising legal strategy. They have asserted a constitutional right not to speak, or say more than they want on labels and advertising, and pro-business federal judges have agreed, rejecting the public’s right to know.

In cases involving manmade hormones fed to dairy cows, heart and lung disease caused by tobacco, the nutritional value of foods contributing to childhood and teenage obesity, and even radiation emitted by cell phones, the industries keep returning to court until a business-friendly judge or majority on an appeals court rules that the First Amendment includes the corporate right not to ‘speak’ if it could harm profits.

“They invoke the Amendment’s protection to accomplish exactly what the Amendment opposes,” wrote U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Pierre Leval, in a lengthy dissent in an early case in which his peers sided with industry and cited the First Amendment to overturn a state law labeling hormone-containing milk products. “The majority’s invocation of the First Amendment to invalidate a state law requiring disclosure of information consumers reasonably desire stands the Amendment on its ear.”

The labeling cases are not the only way corporations have been seeking to enlarge First Amendment speech rights outside the political arena.

This past June the Supreme Court ruled that drug makers’ constitutional speech rights included ‘selling’ patient records, overturning a Vermont law that sought to keep the files private. Justice Stephen Breyer’s dissent said the Court was setting a dangerous precedent by allowing the First Amendment to be used to avoid reasonable government regulation.

“At best the Court opens a Pandora’s Box of First Amendment challenges to many ordinary regulatory practices that may only incidentally affect a commercial message,” he warned. “At worst, it reawakens Lochner’s pre-New Deal threat of substituting judicial for democratic decision making where ordinary economic regulation is at issue.”

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7 Diseases Big Pharma Hopes U Get in 2012

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Home Sweet Home: The New American Localism

From NPR:

December 13, 2011

You can talk about the global village, a mobile society and the World Wide Web all you want, but many in our country seem to be turning toward a New American Localism.

These days, we are local folks and our focus is local. We are doing everything locally: food, finance, news, charity. And maybe for good reasons.

“One bedrock thing that is going on,” says Brad Edmondson, founder of ePodunk and former editor of American Demographics magazine, is that “because of aging and the recession, people aren’t moving around as much.”

The U.S. Census Bureau backs him up with a news release — based on a recent report — titled “Mover Rate Reaches Record Low.” The bureau found that only 11.6 percent of Americans changed their living spaces between 2010 and 2011. That is the lowest rate on record since the Current Population Survey of the United States began tracking geographical mobility in 1948. In 1985, for instance, the changed-residence rate was 20.2 percent.

“With homeowner mobility at an all-time low, more people are putting down roots and getting to know their neighbors,” Edmondson says. “At the same time a lot of households have seen sharp declines in discretionary income. They are looking for ways to relax that don’t cost as much, and they are substituting cooperation for cash.”

The new version of the popular bumper sticker “Support Your Local Sheriff” could become “Support Your Local Everything.”

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It Only Takes a Girl

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Occupy and women’s rights

From Socialist Worker:

Leela Yellesetty explains why the Occupy movement must embrace women’s rights.

December 13, 2011

WOMEN ARE a majority of the 99 percent.

We are still paid, on average, only 77 cents to a man’s dollar (that number drops to 68 cents for African American women and 58 cents for Latinas). When one takes into account the impact of childbearing and the fact the women still bear the brunt of unpaid labor in the home, this figure slides further downwards. One study measuring the cumulative impact over 15 prime-earning years found that women actually make 38 cents for each dollar a man makes.

This should come as no surprise living in one of the only countries in the world–along with Swaziland and Papua New Guinea–which does not require employers to provide paid maternity leave.

Women are disproportionately impacted by the budget cuts that are shredding the social safety net. Nationally, about two-thirds of adult recipients of the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program are women. Women and people of color are also overrepresented in public-sector jobs, and therefore are particularly vulnerable to the onslaught of layoffs and pay cuts these budget cuts entail. According to the U.S. Labor Department, women lost 72 percent of 378,000 government posts cut between July 2009 and March 2010.

In my home state of Washington, women constitute 54 percent of individuals enrolled in the government’s Medicare health care program. The governor’s latest budget proposal includes $2 million in cuts to maternal and child health and $1.8 million to family planning–in addition to the complete elimination of the Basic Health Program, which provides coverage to the state’s poorest residents–again, disproportionately women.

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Conservative “Women’s” Group Applauds Senate Decision To Deny Military Rape Victims Abortion Coverage

BTW for years Concerned “Women” of america was headed by Phyllis Schlafly’s gay son.

From Think Progress:

By Marie Diamond
Dec 8, 2011

The Senate decided last week to keep in place a policy that denies abortion coverage for military rape victims who became pregnant as a result of their sexual assault. Female service members who fight and die for their country are not extended the same rights as civilian government employees, who can use their government-funded insurance to pay for abortion if they’re victims of rape or incest, or even rape survivors in prisonwho receive government-funded abortion coverage.

Rape is rampant in the military, with nearly one in three women sexually assaulted while serving. Yet the Senate declined to vote on Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-NH) amendment that would restore abortion coverage and give military rape victims the same options as civilians and prisoners.

Anti-abortion activists are cheering the decision, and the conservative group Concerned Women for America had some particularly infuriating things to say about the Senate’s inaction:

Concerned Women for America (CWA) revealed exactly how little concern they have for actual women, much less for America, this week when they sent out a letter attacking women who defend our country for having the nerve to believe they deserve full medical care after being raped.

The mind-bogglingly vicious swipe at female soldiers had a couple of doozies, including the claim that allowing raped service members to access abortion “serves as a political distraction” from national security, as if it’s in the interest of national security to subject raped service members to forced childbirth. […]

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Ultra Right Wing Republican Lindsey Graham: The CFPB is a ‘Stalinist era’ thing

Taking a page from the German Nazi Party, ultra right wing Republican engages in the McCarthyite tactic of red baiting and labeling something aimed at protecting the average working or poor American as “Communist”. Thus showing the Republican Party’s True Colors.

From Raw Story:

By Andrew Jones
Sunday, December 11, 2011

In the mind of Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), protecting consumers from financial malpractice is something from the Joseph Stalin playbook.

Continuing another attack on President Barack Obama over economic policies, Graham appeared on Meet The Press Sunday morning to express his further dislike of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

“This Consumer Bureau that they want to pass, is under the federal reserve, no appropriation oversight, no board,” he said. “It is something out of the Stalinist era. The reason Republicans don’t want to vote for it is we want a board, not one person making all the regulatory decisions. There is no oversight under this person. We want it under the Congress so we can oversee the overseer.”

Unsurprisingly, Graham has his facts incorrect. Under the Dodd-Frank bill, the Financial Stability Oversight Council can overturn the CFPB’s rules by a two-thirds vote. The American Banker points out that no other regulator is under those rules.

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