A week or so ago I started feeling grumpy and very low energy. The days seemed so short and the nights so long.
The reason for all the end of the year festivals from the celebration of the birth of Mithra and Saturnalia to Yule and Christmas is really very heliocentric. The winter solstice marks the darkest day of the year and then the days start growing longer once again.
The turning of the seasons the revolving of the great cosmic wheel as we spin around the sun, part of the vastness and magic of the universe.
While I don’t believe in gods the Wicca with its connections to nature feels more organic than the religions of those desert gods and their cruelty.
From Green is the New Red: http://www.greenisthenewred.com/blog/fbi-undercover-investigators-animal-enterprise-terrorism-act/5440/
by Will Potter
December 20, 2011
The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force has kept files on activists who expose animal welfare abuses on factory farms and recommended prosecuting them as terrorists, according to a new document uncovered through the Freedom of Information Act.
This new information comes as the Center for Constitutional Rights has filed a lawsuit challenging the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) as unconstitutional because its vague wording has had a chilling effect on political activism. This document adds to the evidence demonstrating that the AETA goes far beyond property destruction, as its supporters claim.
The 2003 FBI file details the work of several animal rights activists who used undercover investigation to document repeated animal welfare violations. The FBI special agent who authored the report said they “illegally entered buildings owned by [redacted] Farm… and videotaped conditions of animals.”
The animal activists caused “economic loss” to businesses, the FBI says. And they also openly rescued several animals from the abusive conditions. This was not done covertly in the style of underground groups like the Animal Liberation Front — it was an act of non-violent civil disobedience and, as the FBI agent notes, the activists distributed press releases and conducted media interviews taking responsibility for their actions.
Based on these acts — trespassing in order to photograph and videotape abuses on factory farms — the agent concludes there “is a reasonable indication” that the activists “have violated the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, 18 USC Section 43 (a).”
on December 19, 2011
California made significant strides with the passing of three state bills in support of LGBT rights legislation this past October 10th.
The Gender Nondiscrimination Act requires gender identity and expression to be its own protected category at work, at school, in housing, at public accommodations and in other settings; the Vital Statistics Modernization Act makes it easier for transgender people to obtain court-ordered gender change and updated birth certificate; Seth’s Law will tighten anti-bullying policies in schools by making sure there are clear and consistent policies, provide better training and guidelines for teachers and faculty, and establish shorter timelines for investigating claims of bullying.
A fourth bill, with the purpose of amending anti-discrimination policies in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, was also signed by Governor Brown on October 8th. Specifics in the bill include the requirement that California state universities and community colleges allow students to identify their sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression in the annually collected demographic data. Recording accurate numbers of LGBT identifying students will help institutes of higher education grasp the amount of student services necessary for the LGBT community and awareness training for faculty and staff, reported The Daily Californian.
These new pieces of legislation may have greater implications beyond the state of California—they have the potential to lay the groundwork for other states as well as play a role in influencing colleges and universities in confronting the role of gender identity in their anti-discrimination policies. Moreover, this landmark legislation has the ability to additionally set a precedent for women’s colleges and their policies around transgender students.
Women’s colleges were originally founded as a means of educating young women in a time when there were no other alternatives for females to seek higher education. Their existence in the 21st century has been questioned, in a time period where private universities are co-ed and women are less oppressed than in times past. Not only do women’s colleges have to defend their mere existence in 2011, but they’ve also been faced with a lingering quandary over sex and gender identity: where do transgender students fit in? The question is taking on new resonance as the majority of single-sex institutions have yet to cultivate systemic changes in their official policies that specifically address transgender students.
by Antón Castellanos Usigli
December 20, 2011
The other afternoon, I was in a rush, about to brush my teeth, and I remembered I had no toothbrush. In the morning, I had thrown out an old toothbrush thinking that I had to buy a new one, but I completely forgot, so I had to run to the nearest drugstore to get it. When I arrived at the drugstore, one of the employees, a woman, asked me which toothbrush I wanted. I scanned the options behind the counter, and I came upon a model I liked. The first toothbrush in the row was purple, so I told the lady I wanted that one. However, I was surprised when, instead of handing it to me, she started looking over toothbrushes of other colors (I thought she wanted to give me some options), disregarded a pink one (which I incidentally liked) and finally grabbed a blue one, which she put in front of me, telling me the price…
I would never have imagined that such an experience was meant to become one of the most shocking I have ever had regarding gender prejudice. Its apparent simplicity is what makes it so terrible. We can look at hundreds of statistical indicators and surveys that report gender inequalities in educational, workplace and political settings, however, the real magnitude of this phenomena is not to be found in numbers but in “meaningless” everyday occurrences (like my experience with the blue toothbrush), as they reflect that many of our rigid cognitive schemas regarding gender have not undergone significant transformations and that they have thousands of invisible expressions. Those expressions perpetuate inequality, prejudice and violence in a very powerful and dangerous way, as they can be internalized unconsciously in various contexts of socialization.
In response to this situation, the United Nations has set gender equality and the empowerment of women as one of its Millennium Development Goals, while the Millennium Declaration of the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) also advocates for the advancement of gender equality and equity. These international goals demand strong political actions to trigger a re-imagination of gender through our entire system of social organization. This re-imagination does not include “leading” men towards an “effeminate” type of behavior and women towards a “masculine” one and therefore “erasing” what we understand as “gender.” It is rather equivocal to think that gender can be eliminated, as it represents socio-cultural and psychological constructions of a biologically-based element: sex.
Nature offers infinite examples that demonstrate the existence of wide masculine and feminine dimensions, and human nature is not an exception. There are masculine men, feminine men, feminine women, masculine women, trans people, androgynous people, etc. A re-imagination of gender is based on the acceptance of these wide dimensions of gender variability (recognizing the value of both masculinity and femininity) and implies eliminating ideas and expressions of inequality and violence to generate new gender conceptions that will allow people to live with well-being and with full access to rights and personal development indistinctively of their identity.
By Asawin Suebsaeng
Wed Dec. 21, 2011
Whaddaya know? It seems the rich now want to eat the folks who want to eat the rich. Wrap your head around this Bloomberg report:
Jamie Dimon, the highest-paid chief executive officer among the heads of the six biggest U.S. banks, turned a question at an investors’ conference in New York this month into an occasion to defend wealth.
“Acting like everyone who’s been successful is bad and because you’re rich you’re bad, I don’t understand it,” the JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) CEO told an audience member who asked about hostility toward bankers. “Sometimes there’s a bad apple, yet we denigrate the whole.”
Dimon, 55, whose 2010 compensation was $23 million, joined billionaires including hedge-fund manager John Paulson and Home Depot Inc. (HD) co-founder Bernard Marcus in using speeches, open letters and television appearances to defend themselves and the richest 1 percent of the population targeted by Occupy Wall Street demonstrators.
If successful businesspeople don’t go public to share their stories and talk about their troubles, “they deserve what they’re going to get,” said Marcus, 82, a founding member of Job Creators Alliance, a Dallas-based nonprofit that develops talking points and op-ed pieces aimed at “shaping the national agenda…”
Several irate members of the Job
Creators Offshorers Alliance were interviewed for this piece and discussed how upset they are about Dodd-Frank, OWS agitators, and populist rhetoric coming from the left. “Instead of an attack on the 1 percent, let’s call it an attack on the very productive,” John A. Allison IV, a director of BB&T Corp. (BBT) and a professor at Wake Forest University’s business school, told Bloomberg. “This attack is destructive.”
From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/20/french-remove-breast-implants-silicone
The plastic surgery scandal gripping France could soon become a medical emergency, with reports saying the government is to order 30,000 women to remove defective breast implants made from industrial silicone.
Senior officials told the Libération newspaper that the state would this week order the removal of implants from all French women given prosthetics supplied by the company Poly Implant Prothese, or PIP.
One of the world’s biggest suppliers of breast implants, the southern French company was shut down last year after it was found to be cutting corners by making breast prosthetics from cheaper industrial silicone normally used for electronics and computer parts.
As well as containing non-medical silicone filler, the implants were found to have a high chance of bursting.
Around 30,000 women in France had already been implanted with the potentially faulty implants made from industrial silicone. Even more were affected in Britain, where 40,000 women had the implants.
In France, 2,000 women have filed police complaints and a criminal investigation has opened. But the scandal deepened this week after health officials reported eight cases of cancer in women who had received the implants, including one of a rare cancer affecting cells from the immune system.
Continue reading at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/20/french-remove-breast-implants-silicone
Granted this is from a Gay-centric POV and doesn’t reflect all the issues I think Hillary would have been better on.
However as a working class person I think Hillary Clinton has more guts and spine, balls if you will than Obama ever dreamed of having. I doubt she would have bottomed out to the vast right wing conspiracy the way Obama has. I also bet we would still have a Democratic Party majority in the House.
From The Washington Blade: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2011/12/21/would-we-be-better-off-under-president-hillary/
By Chris Johnson
December 21, 2011
Would a President Hillary Clinton have made more progress on LGBT issues over the course of her first term as opposed to what we’ve seen under President Obama?
The secretary of state certainly stole the spotlight on LGBT issues when she gave a high-profile speech in Geneva earlier this month calling for an end to anti-gay abuses overseas and emphasizing her previously stated belief that gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.
“In our lifetimes, attitudes toward gay people in many places have been transformed,” Clinton said. “Many people, including myself, have experienced a deepening of our own convictions on this topic over the years, as we have devoted more thought to it, engaged in dialogues and debates, and established personal and professional relationships with people who are gay.”
Clinton had a strong LGBT following in 2008 when she was competing against Obama for the Democratic nomination for president. There were many high-profile LGBT Clintonistas, although many of them became Obama supporters after he won the Democratic mantle.
Former members of Clinton’s 2008 LGBT steering committee praised her speech in Geneva, but noted that it took place as part of a coordinated effort under the Obama administration.
Elizabeth Birch, former executive director of the Human Rights Campaign and a Clinton backer in 2008, said the Clinton speech was “bold and historic,” but wouldn’t have taken place if President Obama didn’t want it to happen.
By Jamie L. Habib
December 21, 2011
Obstetricians and gynecologists (ob-gyns) should be prepared to offer transgender patients routine screening and treatment, according to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College).1 A significant number of transgender people experience social harassment, discrimination, and rejection from family and society in general. The College is opposed to gender identity discrimination and fully supports both public and private health care coverage for treatment of gender identity disorder.1
Transgender persons are at increased risk for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV infection, and physical abuse. There are also a significant number of transgender persons who are homeless, especially teenagers. Because the transgender community in general lacks access to health care, the health outcomes for this group are typically poor.
“Services that ob-gyns should be able to offer transgender patients include preventive care, Pap tests, sexually transmitted infection (STI) screenings, and hysterectomy for standard indications like heavy bleeding or pain,” says Eliza Buyers, MD, former member of The College’s Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women.1
The College suggests that ob-gyns can make their offices welcoming to transgender patients by asking patients their preferred name and pronoun, posting nondiscrimination policies, ensuring confidentiality, and offering sensitivity training for staff. The College believes these practices are indicators of acceptance and let patients know that they will be treated with dignity.
From Dissident Voices: http://dissidentvoice.org/2011/12/republican-party-war-on-working-class/
by David Macaray
December 20th, 2011
If organized labor were to list the three worst things that could happen to it, one of them would surely be having the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board, established in 1935) close up shop. While the NLRB hasn’t always performed to labor’s satisfaction (indeed, its reluctance to act has been the source of consternation and heartburn), it has, nonetheless, proven itself indispensable.
When companies purposely sabotage union elections, or when they refuse to recognize a legal vote to join or form a union, or when they fail to enter into the collective bargaining process in good faith, or when they violate federal labor law by firing employees engaged in union membership drives, it’s the Labor Board who hears the complaint. Without the NLRB, none of these ULPs (Unfair Labor Practices) can be addressed.
Yet, as critically important as the NLRB is, there’s a chance it will be put out of business come the first of the year. Due to a 2010 ruling by the Supreme Court, unless the 5-member NLRB has a quorum (i.e., a minimum of three members), it is illegal for it to hand down decisions. In other words, unless there are at least three members present, the NLRB has no power to stop management from violating federal labor law. They can violate it with impunity. Without the NLRB, employees could vote overwhelmingly to join a union, and the company could simply ignore them. Who’s to stop them?
Here’s how it stands. Republicans have not only steadfastly refused to confirm President Obama’s appointees (leaving the Board without a quorum), but they have threatened to strip the Board of its operating budget, basically wiping it out. No money, no NLRB. Incredibly, with the whole country watching from the sidelines—with unemployment still high and the gap between rich and poor continuing to widen—the Republican Party has audaciously and fearlessly declared war on America’s working class.
Continue reading at: http://dissidentvoice.org/2011/12/republican-party-war-on-working-class/
From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/20/new-blue-collar-temp-warehouses_n_1158490.html
JOLIET, Ill., and FONTANA, Calif. — Like nearly everyone else in Joliet without good job prospects, Uylonda Dickerson eventually found herself at the warehouses looking for work.
“I just needed a job,” the 38-year-old single mother says.
Dickerson came to the right place. Over the past decade and a half, Joliet and its Will County environs southwest of Chicago have grown into one of the world’s largest inland ports, a major hub for dry goods destined for retail stores throughout the Midwest and beyond. With all the new distribution centers have come thousands of jobs at “logistics” companies — firms that specialize in moving goods for retailers and manufacturers. Many of these jobs are filled by Joliet’s African Americans, like Dickerson, and immigrants from Mexico and elsewhere in Latin America.
But many bottom-rung workers like Dickerson don’t work for the big corporations whose products are in the warehouses, or even the logistics companies that run them. They go to work for labor agencies that supply workers like Dickerson. Last year, she found work as a temp through one of the myriad staffing agencies that serve big-box retailers and their contractors. Thanks largely to the warehousing boom, Will County has developed one of the highest concentrations of temp agencies in the Midwest.
Dickerson, grateful to have even a temp job, was taken on as a “lumper” — someone who schleps boxes to and from trailers all day long. As unglamorous as her duties were, Dickerson became an essential cog in one of the most sophisticated machines in modern commerce — the Walmart supply chain. Walmart, the world’s largest private-sector employer, had contracted a company called Schneider Logistics to operate the warehouse. And Schneider, in turn, had its own contracts with staffing companies that supplied workers.
By Tim Greene, Network World
December 15, 2011
As the price of digital storage drops and the technology to tap electronic communication improves, authoritarian governments will soon be able to perform retroactive surveillance on anyone within their borders, according to a Brookings Institute report.
These regimes will store every phone call, instant message, email, social media interaction, text message, movements of people and vehicles and public surveillance video and mine it at their leisure, according to “Recording Everything: Digital Storage as an Enabler of Authoritarian Government,” written by John Villaseno, a senior fellow at Brookings and a professor of electrical engineering at UCLA.
That will enable shadowing people’s movements and communications that took place before the individuals became suspects, he says.
“For example, if an anti-regime demonstrator previously unknown to security services is arrested, it will be possible to go back in time to scrutinize the demonstrator’s phone conversations, automobile travels, and the people he or she met in the months and even years leading up to the arrest,” the report says.
“These enormous databases of captured information will create what amounts to a surveillance time machine. … This will fundamentally change the dynamics of dissent, insurgency and revolution,” the report says.
The Rose Parade has long been a magnet for protesters looking for global attention for their causes and grievances.
Native Americans once threw a balloon filled with red paint onto the parade route to represent the spilling of Indian blood. AIDS activists interrupted the parade by staging a sit-in. One year, a Pasadena mayor wore a “Tournament of Racists” t-shirt to protest what he saw as the parade’s lack of ethnic diversity.
But this year, Tournament of Roses organizers and Pasadena police are gearing up for something different as Occupy protesters, fresh from their encampments across the country, plan to converge on Pasadena. Like activists in the past, they are hoping to widen their impact with an estimated domestic TV audience of 50 million people and about 700,000 people along the route.
Occupy activists have been looking for a high-profile venue since their camps in Manhattan, Los Angeles and elsewhere were removed. Some see the Rose Parade as a logical next step. On Jan. 1, they will meet in Pasadena to prepare for the following day’s parade, which is being held a day later because Jan. 1 falls on a Sunday.
“It’s Occupy 2.0 and why not start on New Year’s Day in Pasadena?” said Daniel Niwander, an activist with Occupy Pasadena.
Continue reading at: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-occupy-rose-parade-20111222,0,7810364.story