Gloria Allred On Donald Trump And Transgender Miss Universe Controversy: ‘The World Does Not Revolve Around His Penis’

From Huffington Post:

04/ 8/2012

Feminist attorney Gloria Allred shot back at Donald Trump, who said she’d “be very impressed” with his genitals, by saying she doesn’t “have a magnifying glass strong enough to see something that small,” and that “the world does not revolve around his penis.”

Trump and Allred have traded barbs for several days regarding the controversy surrounding Jenna Talackova, the transgender beauty queen who was disqualified last month from the Miss Universe pageant, which is owned by Trump’s company.

Appearing on my radio program on SiriusXM OutQ on Friday, Allred who represents Talackova, who was a finalist in the Miss Universe Canada pageant before being disqualified, reiterated that her client was discriminated against.

“She is female on her driver’s license, on her passport, on her birth certificate, and she’s recognized in Canada as a woman,” she said. “She has always thought of herself as a woman.”

Allred also called upon to Trump to eliminate the rule that contestants must be “naturally born” women. Trump did just that later in the evening, announcing his reversal during a segment on ABC’s “20/20,” opening the pageant to Talackova and any transgender women in the future.

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Jenna Talackova Says She Was Bullied In School

From On top Magazine:

By On Top Magazine Staff
Published: April 07, 2012

Transgender beauty queen Jenna Talackova on Friday told Barbara Walters that she was bullied in school.

In an interview broadcast on ABC’s 20/20, Walters spoke with Talackova, her mother and civil right attorney Gloria Allred, who is representing Talackova.

Talackova is the 23-year-old Canadian who was told she could not compete in the Miss Universe Canada pageant because she was not born female. The organization later backtracked, saying Talackova would be allowed to participate.

Talackova told Walters that her high school was very supportive but she was bullied by other students, including being called “tranny.”

She said she began to transition at the age of 14.

“I went to the doctor and I just let them know this is how I feel, this is what it is, and I need to start hormones as soon as possible. I took estrogen, which helped me develop my own breasts and keep my skin as it was,” she said.

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The Fracking Frenzy’s Impact on Women

From The Center for Media and Democracy:

by Sara Jerving
April 4, 2012

Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has generated widespread media attention this year. The process, which injects water and chemicals into the ground to release “natural” gas and oil from shale bedrock, has been shown to contribute significantly to air and water pollution and has even been linked to earthquakes. But little has been reported on the ways in which fracking may have unique impacts on women. Chemicals used in fracking have been linked to breast cancer and reproductive health problems and there have been reports of rises in crimes against women in some fracking “boom” towns, which have attracted itinerant workers with few ties to the community.

Toxins in Fracking Process Linked to Breast Cancer

Not only has the chemical cocktail inserted into the ground been shown to contaminate groundwater and drinking water, but fracking fluid also picks up toxins on its trip down to the bedrock and back up again that had previously been safely locked away underground. Chemicals linked to cancer are present in nearly all of the steps of extraction — in the fracking fluids, the release of radioactive and other hazardous materials from the shale, and in transportation and drilling related air pollution and contaminated water disposal.

Some reports indicate that more than 25 percent of the chemicals used in natural gas operations have been linked to cancer or mutations, although companies like Haliburton have lobbied hard to keep the public in the dark about the exact formula of fracking fluids. According to the U.S. Committee on Energy and Commerce, fracking companies used 95 products containing 13 different known and suspected carcinogens between 2005 and 2009 as part of the fracking fluid that is injected in the ground. These include naphthalene, benzene, and acrylamide. Benzene, which the U.S. EPA has classified as a Group A, human carcinogen, is released in the fracking process through air pollution and in the water contaminated by the drilling process. The Institute of Medicine released a report in December 2011 that links breast cancer to exposure to benzene.

Up to thirty-seven percent of chemicals in fracking fluids have been identified as endocrine-disruptors — chemicals that have potential adverse developmental and reproductive effects. According to the U.S. EPA, exposure to these types of chemicals has also been implicated in breast cancer.

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Catching up to the Local Food Revolution

From Other Words:

Government policies and spending primarily support industrialized agriculture and the giant farms and corporations that profit from it.

By Bill Wenzel
April 2, 2012

This year, spring arrived early as a record-breaking heat wave swept across the nation, making it feel like summer in Minnesota, Virginia, and many other parts of the country. Farmers are either already planting their crops or just about to start. Consumers who shop at farmers markets throughout the Midwest will soon be sampling fresh-picked local asparagus a few weeks ahead of schedule.

Maybe it’s due to the increasingly frequent outbreaks of food-borne illnesses that afflict our food system. Or maybe people just like knowing where their food comes from. Or how produce tastes when it’s been harvested that morning.

It could be all those things, but demand for local food is soaring. There are now more than 7,000 farmers markets across the nation, up from 340 in 1970. More than $1.2 billion in agricultural products are sold each year through direct market channels like farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs). CSAs vary in structure and scope. Most enable a consumer to purchase a “share” from the crops or other products that a particular farm produces throughout the season.

Researchers have found repeatedly that purchasing local food has a significant “multiplier” effect. That means a bigger portion of every dollar spent on local food is retained in local economies than is the case with conventional groceries.

While farmers producing large-scale commodities such as corn, soybeans, rice, and wheat benefit from crop insurance — protecting their income after a flood or drought — and other revenue assurance programs, the small and mid-sized farmers who grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables and comprise the majority of local food producers generally can’t access these benefits.

Despite the increased demand for local food, and the obvious health benefits of supporting more fruit and vegetable production, government policies and spending primarily support industrialized agriculture and the giant farms and corporations that profit from it.

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Bishops want churchgoers to circulate anti-gay marriage petitions

Engaging in political activity is grounds for removing non-profit status from secular organizations.  Why are churches allowed to get away with it?

From LGBTQ Nation:

April 7, 2012

SEATTLE — The two bishops of the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle said they will call on parishioners to collect signatures in support of Referendum 74, a ballot measure aimed at overturning the recently passed marriage equality law in Washington state.

In a letter to the archdiocese, Archbishop J. Peter Sartain and Auxiliary Bishop Eusebio Elizondo described the issue as “critically important” and said information on the signature drive is being sent to pastors throughout the Western Washington diocese, reported the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

In their letter, the bishops specifically deny that refusing marriage to same-sex couples equates to discrimination — an argument made by Gov. Christine Gregoire, a Catholic, in arguing for marriage equality.

“Treating different things differently is not unjust discrimination,” the bishops claim. “Marriage can only be between a man and a woman because of its unique ends, purpose and place in society. The word ‘marriage’ isn’t simply a label that can be attached to different types of relationships.

“Instead ‘marriage’ reflects a deep reality — the reality of the unique, fruitful, lifelong union that is only possible between a man and a woman. There is nothing else like it, and it can’t be defined or made into something that it isn’t.”

State Sen. Ed Murray (D-Seattle), an openly gay, Catholic lawmaker who sponsored the same-sex marriage bill, described the bishops’ efforts as “reprehensible.”

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Dimitris Christoulas and the legacy of his suicide for Greece

From The Guardian UK:

It’s hard to see a new movement emerging out of this awful death, but it serves to bring home the human cost of austerity, Thursday 5 April 2012

Early in February I tried to take the Athens metro and found it closed because of a suicide on the line. The cabbie who picked me up thought the deceased was an idiot: “What was the point of killing himself like that? He should have blown himself up in parliament and taken four or five of those crooks down with him.”

The 77-year-old retired pharmacist who shot himself in Athens on Wednesday didn’t do it in parliament but in Syntagma Square; still, his death has sparked a small political explosion. He’s neither the first nor (almost certainly) the last in Greece to take his life because the crisis has destroyed his livelihood and his dignity. Greece used to have the lowest suicide rate in Europe; the official number has doubled since the crisis began. This death, though, was public: it has made headlines, called protesters out on to the streets and forced politicians to shame themselves by saying something in response.

Dimitris Christoulas has already vanished under a swarm of platitudes and slogans, another martyr in a country that already has too many. But he must have intended that. The suicide note reportedly found on him ends with a call to arms. It refers to the government as “the occupation government of Tsolakoglou” (Georgios Tsolakoglou was the Quisling prime minister under the axis in 1941) and predicts that the futureless young will one day hang the traitors upside down in Syntagma, as the Italians hanged the dictator Mussolini. Suicides are always violent, it’s difficult to imagine an angrier one than this. It’s left an unanswerable accusation in the air, taking away any possibility of redress. Whatever happens next, Christoulas will still be dead, a symbol of all those who have lost their lives to the crisis.

The politicians, eyes on forthcoming elections, have struggled to find usable capital in the moment. Those in power have tried to drain it of political meaning, mumbling about solidarity in these difficult times, criticising the bad taste of those who would exploit a tragic death. Those seeking power have, of course, tried to exploit it while affecting not to. George Karatzaferis of the far-right Laos party (in the coalition government until its popularity plummeted) said that the bullet in Syntagma should strike the conscience of the whole political class. The Communist party blamed the capitalist system and its lackeys. The parties of the non-communist left, whose stars have risen as the crisis deepens, spoke of the misery to which the Greeks have been reduced by the politics of austerity. Christoulas will be, above all, their martyr, and the martyr of all those opposed to the savage cuts that have fallen on the most vulnerable.

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Camila Vallejo, the World’s Most Glamorous Revolutionary

From The New York Times:

Published: April 5, 2012

The hotel had a musty, Pinochet-era atmosphere — dark bar, heavy furniture, bartenders in white shirts and black ties — and drew mostly businessmen. But when the bartenders found out that my friends and I were going to the student march, they cut lemons for us and put them into plastic bags with salt. In case of tear gas, you were supposed to bite into the lemons to lessen the effect. With guarded smiles, they let us know they supported the Chilean student movement and especially its most prominent leader, Camila Vallejo. A bartender said, “La Camila es valiente”; he laughed and added, “Está bien buena la mina” — “She’s hot.”

Camila Vallejo, the 23-year-old president of the University of Chile student federation (FECH), a Botticelli beauty who wears a silver nose ring and studies geography, was the most prominent leader of a student protest movement that had paralyzed the country and shattered Chile’s image as Latin America’s greatest political and economic success story. The march that Thursday afternoon in November would be the 42nd since June.

In what became known as the Chilean Winter, students at university campuses and high schools across the country organized strikes, boycotted classes and occupied buildings. The protests were the largest since the last days of the 17-year dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who in a 1973 military coup overthrew Latin America’s first democratically elected Marxist president, Salvador Allende. The students’ grievances echoed, somewhat, those of their counterparts across the Mideast or in Zuccotti Park. Chile might have the highest per capita income in the region, but in terms of distribution of wealth, it ranks as one of the most unequal countries in the world. A university education in Chile is proportionally the world’s most expensive: $3,400 a year in a country where the average annual salary is about $8,500.

Sebastián Piñera’s right-wing government was plunged into perpetual crisis. The Harvard-educated Piñera, founder of Chile’s major credit card, Bancard, and Chile’s first president since Pinochet to come from the right, promised to govern Chile and its economy in a new way — as a businessman whose billions didn’t come from mining or manufacturing but from investments. The student movement exposed the Piñera Way as business as usual — if public education was virtually abolished under Pinochet in the ’80s, his successors had done nothing to bring it back.

Just 40 percent of Chilean children receive a free secondary-school education, in underfinanced public schools; the rest attend partly subsidized charter or private schools. To finance their university educations, most students take out bank loans, which saddle them and their families with years of debt. Piñera defended Chile’s educational system by calling education “a consumer good.” Vallejo countered, saying that education was a fundamental right and that “for more than 30 years,” entrepreneurs had “speculated and grown wealthy off the dreams and expectations of thousands of young people and Chilean families.” By September, Piñera’s popularity ratings, so robust after the rescue of the Chilean miners in October 2010, had sunk to 22 percent, the lowest of any Chilean president in modern history, while the student movement’s national approval rating stood at 72 percent.

I had heard a lot about the joyful, carnival madness of the marches: hundreds of thousands of people roiling the streets of Santiago, with bands and costumes and colorful signs and floats and shouts. When a freezing rain fell on the day of a scheduled demonstration, protesters filled the streets in what became known as the March of the Umbrellas. Whimsical “happenings” and flash-mob actions drew international attention. There was the Kiss-In, when students made out for 1,800 seconds (30 minutes) in front of La Moneda, the presidential palace, to publicize the $1.8 billion it would supposedly cost to finance public education — and the 1,800 laps students jogged around the building, in round-the-clock relays; the protest where people dressed as zombies and danced to “Thriller”; the cacerolazos, tweet-ignited outbreaks of people banging on pots and pans, raising a swarming metallic-insect racket.

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