Friday Night Fun and Culture: Laura Nyro

When I was first coming out I used to smoke weed with my friends at night and then go to my room and listen to Laura Nyro before I crashed.

Her music was a real friend those first few months when I felt alone and scared.

It’s about time she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Keeping Students From the Polls

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/27/opinion/keeping-college-students-from-the-polls.html

Editorial
Published: December 26, 2011
Next fall, thousands of students on college campuses will attempt to register to vote and be turned away. Sorry, they will hear, you have an out-of-state driver’s license. Sorry, your college ID is not valid here. Sorry, we found out that you paid out-of-state tuition, so even though you do have a state driver’s license, you still can’t vote.

Political leaders should be encouraging young adults to participate in civic life, but many Republican state lawmakers are doing everything they can instead to prevent students from voting in the 2012 presidential election. Some have openly acknowledged doing so because students tend to be liberal.

Seven states have already passed strict laws requiring a government-issued ID (like a driver’s license or a passport) to vote, which many students don’t have, and 27 others are considering such measures. Many of those laws have been interpreted as prohibiting out-of-state driver’s licenses from being used for voting.

It’s all part of a widespread Republican effort to restrict the voting rights of demographic groups that tend to vote Democratic. Blacks, Hispanics, the poor and the young, who are more likely to support President Obama, are disproportionately represented in the 21 million people without government IDs. On Friday, the Justice Department, finally taking action against these abuses, blocked the new voter ID law in South Carolina.

Continue reading at:   http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/27/opinion/keeping-college-students-from-the-polls.html

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Today’s GOP makes Mississippi look liberal

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2011/12/29/todays_gop_females_have_more_rights_before_theyre_born/

Most 2012 contenders back a personhood amendment too extreme for a red, red state, while Rick Perry hits a new low

By Joan Walsh
Thursday, Dec 29, 2011

The flailing Rick Perry is trying to revive his sinking campaign by histrionically announcing he’s changed his views on abortion and now opposes it even in cases of rape and incest. Apparently Perry met a young woman who’d been conceived as a result of rape, and that changed his mind.

“Looking in her eyes, I couldn’t come up with an answer to defend the exemptions for rape and incest,” he said at a “tele-town hall” sponsored by far-right Iowa radio host Steve Deace. “And over the course of the last few weeks, the Christmas holidays and reflecting on that … all I can say is that God was working on my heart.”

It’s just one more step toward society’s political margins for the GOP contenders. Perry has already announced his support for the “personhood” movement, which declares that life begins the moment an egg is fertilized, a measure that was rejected by the deep-red state of Mississippi as too extreme. But Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum also back the personhood crusade. That’s your modern Republican Party: It makes Mississippi look liberal. They’d like women to have more rights before they’re born than after.

It’s obvious the Tea Party is pulling the GOP even further to the right. While the movement’s fans used to insist it was about the economy, not social issues, in fact its House caucus has used its year in office working harder to stop all funding for Planned Parenthood than to reduce unemployment. The House even passed a bill that lets health providers “exercise their conscience” and refuse to perform an abortion even in cases where the woman would die without the procedure. (h/t Digby)

Continue reading at:   http://www.salon.com/2011/12/29/todays_gop_females_have_more_rights_before_theyre_born/

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The Power Media Can Have

#Liberate LEGO!

From Huffington Post:    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lyn-mikel-brown/legos-for-girls_b_1172876.html?ref=tw

Lyn Mikel Brown
Posted: 12/28/11

When LEGO announced that after four years of marketing research, the best they could come up with was a thinner, pinker version of their product, I admit, I laughed out loud. My first reaction wasn’t outrage, but incredulity. A billion dollars of marketing research bought you… LEGO Barbie? After marketers have carpet-bombed a pink, appearance-obsessed consumer version of girl power via every conceivable media outlet for the past decade, did you really expect to hear little girls express a desire for anything else?

Turns out I wasn’t the only one with a strong reaction to the new Ladyfig LEGOs. (“Ladyfigs”? Really, ask for your money back.) SPARK (Sexualization Protest: Action Resistance Knowledge) movement girl blogger, Stephanie Cole wrote, “the part of me that still fondly remembers epic LEGO vs. Playmobile battles with my sister and cousin, is pretty royally pissed off.” The new Ladyfigs, she notes, “are taller, skinnier and they have boobs. They will be marketed to girls five and up. Why?”

We know why. In truth, LEGO may very well get a larger market share if they have two separate lines of products. “Unisex” and “gender neutral” are blasphemy to a large percentage of parents, who are quick to point out that girls and boys play differently. But as neuroscientist Lise Eliot explains, “boy-girl differences are not as ‘hard-wired’ as many parents today, imbued with the Mars/Venus philosophy, believe.” The human brain is “fantastically plastic” and the best thing we can do for our children is to give them a full range of opportunities and experiences, especially in the early years. We don’t know at five how little Tierra’s or Tommy’s passions and talents will surface, so why pay good money to limit their options to the pink and blue aisles of toy stores?

SPARKTeam blogger, Bailey, promoting Stephanie’s post on Twitter, soon began an exchange with LEGO: “They thanked me…and respectfully disagreed, stating that four years of research had told them,” in so many words, “that the mini-skirt-wearing, hot-tub-bathing, beauty-shop-running LEGO ladies are what girls want now.” As if Bailey didn’t know the difference between market research, the goal of which is to figure out the best way to target and sell to children, and unbiased scientific research, the goal of which is to know what’s good or bad for developing children. Of course, the unbiased research finds that the path LEGO has chosen, narrowing girls’ options to a stereotypical version of femininity, is bad for girls.

Continue reading at:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lyn-mikel-brown/legos-for-girls_b_1172876.html?ref=tw

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STUNNING – ‘I REMEMBER, SO I’M VOTING, AND NOT REPUBLICAN.’

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Tweeting the word ‘drill’ could mean your Twitter account is read by U.S. government spies

From The Daily Mail UK:   http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2079283/Tweeting-word-drill-mean-Twitter-account-read-government-spies.html

  • Fake profiles used by Department of Homeland Security, says privacy group
  • List of keywords flags ‘danger’ signal
  • DHS may attempt to identify users from their accounts
  • Keywords include ‘virus’, ‘drill’ and ‘illegal immigrant’

By Rob Waugh
28th December 2011

The Department of Homeland Security makes fake Twitter and Facebook profiles for the specific purpose of scanning the networks for ‘sensitive’ words – and tracking people who use them.

Simply using a word or phrase from the DHS’s ‘watch’ list could mean that spies from the government read your posts, investigate your account, and attempt to identify you from it, acccording to an online privacy group.

The words which attract attention range from ones seemingly related to diseases or bioweapons such as ‘human to animal’ and ‘outbreak’ to other, more obscure words such as ‘drill’ and ‘strain’.

The DHS also watches for words such as ‘illegal immigrant’.

The DHS outlined plans to scans blogs, Twitter and Facebook for words such as ‘illegal immigrant’, ‘outbreak’, ‘drill’, ‘strain’, ‘virus’, ‘recovery’, ‘deaths’, ‘collapse’, ‘human to animal’ and ‘trojan’, according to an ‘impact asssessment’ document filed by the agency.

When its search tools net an account using the phrases, they record personal information.

It’s still not clear how this information is used – and who the DHS shares it with.

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Ron Paul in 1998 John Birch Society Documentary on the UN Plot to take over America

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Why Don’t Libertarians Care About Ron Paul’s Bigoted Newsletters?

From The New Republic:     http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/98811/ron-paul-libertarian-bigotry

James Kirchick
December 22, 2011

Nearly four years ago, on the eve of the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary, The New Republic published my expose of newsletters published by Texas Congressman Ron Paul. The contents of these newsletters can best be described as appalling. Blacks were referred to as “animals.” Gays were told to go “back” into the “closet.” The “X-Rated Martin Luther King” was a bisexual pedophile who “seduced underage girls and boys.” Three months before the Oklahoma City bombing, Paul praised right-wing, anti-government militia movements as “one of the most encouraging developments in America.” The voluminous record of bigotry and conspiracy theories speaks for itself.

And yet, four years on, Ron Paul’s star is undimmed. Not only do the latest polls place him as the frontrunner in the Iowa Caucuses, but he still enjoys the support of a certain coterie of professional political commentators who, like Paul himself, identify as libertarians. Most prominent among them is Daily Beast blogger Andrew Sullivan, who gave Paul his endorsement in the GOP primary last week, as he did in 2008. But he is not alone: Tim Carney of The Washington Examiner recently bemoaned the fact that “the principled, antiwar, Constitution-obeying, Fed-hating, libertarian Republican from Texas stands firmly outside the bounds of permissible dissent as drawn by either the Republican establishment or the mainstream media,” while Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic argues that Paul’s ideas cannot be ignored, and that, for Tea Party Republicans, “A vote against Paul requires either cognitive dissonance—never in short supply in politics—or a fundamental rethinking of the whole theory of politics that so recently drove the Tea Party movement.”

To be sure, these figures, like the broader group of Paul enthusiasts, don’t base their support on the Congressman’s years-long record of supporting racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and far-right militias. Quite the opposite: Like the candidate himself, they manage to mostly avoid making any mention of his unsavory record at all. It’s an impressive feat of repression, one that says volumes about the type of enthusiasm Paul inspires.

Ultimately, Paul’s following is closely linked with the peculiar attractions of the libertarian creed that he promotes. Libertarianism is an ideology rather than a philosophy of government—its main selling point is not its pragmatic usefulness, but its inviolable consistency. In that way, Paul’s indulgence of bigotry—he says he did not write the newsletters but rather allowed others to do so in his name—isn’t an incidental departure from his libertarianism, but a tidy expression of its priorities: First principles of market economics gain credence over all considerations of social empathy and historical acuity. His fans are guilty of donning the same ideological blinders, giving their support to a political candidate on account of the theories he declaims, rather than the judgment he shows in applying those theories, or the character he has evinced in living them. Voters for Ron Paul are privileging logical consistency at the expense of moral fitness.

Continue reading at:   http://www.tnr.com/article/politics/98811/ron-paul-libertarian-bigotry

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Halliburton charged with selling nuclear technology to Iran

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We’ve Lost Nearly All of Our Wild Foods — What Happened? And What Are We Missing?

From Alternet:     http://www.alternet.org/food/153568/we%27ve_lost_nearly_all_of_our_wild_foods_–_what_happened_and_what_are_we_missing

Fish are the last wild food that most of us will eat.

By Jill Richardson
December 29, 2011

A few days from now, a single bluefin tuna will make international headlines when it sells for an ungodly amount of money — perhaps more than $100,000 — at Tokyo’s Tsukiji market. And while the high price of the first bluefin of the year will be extraordinary, the rarity, and thus the prestige and high pricetag of bluefin in general, provides a clue to humans’ dietary history. Once upon a time, wild foods were a regular and beloved part of the American diet. Today, the American epicure might dine on foraged mushrooms and ramps, but for many of us, fish are the last wild food we eat. What happened? And what are we missing?

Georgia Pellegrini, a chef who has worked in elite restaurants in New York and France, decided to answer this question for herself when she set out to hunt her own food. As her new book’s title implies — Girl Hunter: Revolutionizing the Way We Eat, One Hunt at a Time she entered into a masculine realm in which she was often the only woman. Pellegrini traveled across the United States and even England, hunting everything from squirrel to elk. As much as she stands out as a woman, she also stands out among the local and sustainable food movement. (An anthropologist recently pointed out that the local food movement “has been reticent to embrace hunting as an integral part of sustainable eating.”)

As a chef, Pellegrini focuses on her meal’s flavor more than many other sustainable food writers. At one point, while contemplating pulling the trigger to shoot a javelina, Pellegrini says, “I wonder if I had to work hard enough for this. I wonder if I had to exert myself enough… Then I wonder how javelina taste.”

Pellegrini points out that an animal’s flavor reflects its diet. “There’s a vast difference in flavor,” between wild game and meat from the store or even from the farmers’ market, she says. “Wild animals are athletes; they exercise their muscles and eat whatever they want. Cattle live in pens and eat exactly the same diet. With wild animals, you really have to think about how you cook them based on what they are eating. You aren’t just thinking about what you are about to eat; you are thinking about what you’re about to eat ate.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/food/153568/we%27ve_lost_nearly_all_of_our_wild_foods_–_what_happened_and_what_are_we_missing

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Greek economic crisis turns tragic for children abandoned by their families

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/28/greek-economic-crisis-children-victims
Nation shocked by stories of parents forced to give up children because of poverty – but charities warn of more cases to come

in Athens
guardian.co.uk
, Wednesday 28 December 2011

Even before Greece‘s economic crisis engulfed his own home, Dimitris Gasparinatos found it hard to provide for his six sons and four daughters. His wife, Christina, who was struggling to make ends meet with his salary of €960 (£800) a month and welfare aid of about €460 every two months, was unhappy and desperate.

Deep in debt, the couple owed money to the butcher, baker and grocer – the very people who had kept them going in the port of Patras, west of Athens. In their tiny flat, the family slipped increasingly into a life of squalor.

“Psychologically we were all in a bit of a mess,” said Gasparinatos. “We were sleeping on mattresses on the floor, the rent hadn’t been paid for months, something had to be done.”

And so, with Christmas approaching, the 42-year-old took the decision to put in an official request for three of his boys and one daughter to be taken into care.

“The crisis had killed us. I am ashamed to say but it had got to the point where I couldn’t even afford the €2 needed to buy bread,” he told the Guardian. “We didn’t want to break up the family but we did think it would be easier for them if four of my children were sent to an institution for maybe two or three years.”

The next day, his 37-year-old wife visited the local town hall and asked that her children be “saved”.

Continue reading at:   http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/dec/28/greek-economic-crisis-children-victims

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