Beth Elliott’s Rebuttal of the Brennan-Hungerford Letter

By Beth Elliott : A rebuttal to the Brennan-Hungerford submission to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

13 August 2011


Human Rights Section
UN Women
2 United Nations Plaza, DC2 12th Floor
New York, NY  10017

Re:       CSW Communications Procedure
1 August 2011 Submission of Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford
Allegations regarding United States gender identity anti-discrimination statutes

Honorable Commissioners:

I write in regard to the CSW Communications Procedure submission of 1 August by Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford alleging that gender identity anti-discrimination statutes in the United States threaten to violate women’s rights.  Specifically, I write in response and rebuttal to those allegations.

Ms. Brennan and Ms. Hungerford’s submission is not an adequate submission.  It does not at all comply with the Communications Procedure Guidelines for identification and documentation of actual incidents of human rights violations, and should be rejected on those grounds alone.

Moreover, the Brennan-Hungerford submission is inaccurate and misleading, and an abuse of both national judicial procedure and global procedures for effective petition for redress of actual rights viola­tions.  To wit:

1.         Ms. Brennan and Ms. Hungerford are not reporting actual harm, but requesting global action based on a mere hypothesis:  that male-bodied people claiming to be women on the basis of self-perceived gender identity could pose physical and emotional threats to women in sex-segregated public facilities such as bathhouses and restroom.  They neglect to acknowledge that there means in place to prevent and/or punish this.

a.         With regards to bathhouses and other venues in which public nudity is usual and expected, remedies are already available at the local and state level:  judicial interpretation of the statutes cited in the submission, “under color of” criminal sentencing enhancements of the kind designed as a deterrent measure, and (already existing) common-sense accommodations to legitimate sensibilities.

b.         With regards to restrooms, Brennan and Hungerford have failed to avail themselves and the potential victims for whom they claim to advocate of the generous U.S. judicial remedies for “hostile environment sexual har­ass­ment.”  The hypothetical harm from failure to police restroom users for body-socially presented gender congruence likely does not rise to the level of actionable hostile environment sexual harassment.

2.         By claiming the potential harm is related to women’s “reproductive vulner­ability,” Brennan and Hungerford carve out an artificial and politically defined subgroup of potential victims from the larger population of actual potential victims.  Specifically, they limit the potential human rights victims to that class of women who are cissexual women of reproductive age with healthy reproductive tracts, and state the potential harm is pregnancy resulting from rape when it might be as likely to be forced oral copulation or other non-reproductive sexual assault.

3.         Brennan and Hungerford cite no case law that interprets the state statutes they wish preempted by supranational means, and present hypothetical controversies that are not ripe for U.S. appellate review, much less international review.  Thus, they present no demonstrable failures to protect human rights which might be appropriate for investigation by a global body.

For these reasons, upon which I shall expand below, I respectfully request that Ms. Brennan and Ms. Hungerford’s submission be rejected for insufficiency as a communication to the Commission, and for failure to state an actual controversy or to give credible evidence of actual or likely human rights violations related to the statutes of which they complain.

My qualifications for addressing the Commission for the Status of Women on this matter are as follows:

Daughters of Bilitis (the first lesbian rights organization, founded in 1955) (“DOB”), Vice President, San Francisco Chapter, 1971-72.  Representing DOB (at the request of co-founder Del Martin), founding member of the Alice B. Toklas Memorial Democratic Club, the first gay/ lesbian political party club in the U.S.; represented Alice at the California Council of Democratic Clubs 1973 convention, Fresno, California.  Alternate delegate for Representative Shirley Chisholm, California Democratic Party presidential primary election, June 1972.  Community-elected member of the Board of Directors of the California Committee for Sexual Law reform, 1972-75 (successfully lobbied for repeal of California state statutes outlawing most forms of sexual behavior between consenting adults).  Successful arbitration determining that sex-reassignment surgery (“SRS”) was a physically necessary, non-cosmetic treatment for gender dysphoria syndrome, over the objections of a health insurer, from the Santa Clara County (California) Medical Society, with repre­sentation by attorney Sarita Waite, 1975.  Workshop presentation on actual versus propagandized experience with HIV transmission among Women who have Sex with Women, National Organization for Women annual convention, San Francisco, California 1990.  Author, “Mirrors – Portrait of a Lesbian Transsexual” (as myself and as the pseudonymous Geri Nettick), 1995 (Spectrum Press), 1996 (Rhinoceros Books), and 2011 edition with new material (CreateSpace, with distribution through CreateSpace and Amazon).  Numerous publication credits with gay, lesbian and transsexual rights-oriented publications, including a weekly column for the San Francisco Bay Area Reporter from 1995-98.

Deficiencies of the Brennan-Hungerford Submission:

1.         Potential versus actual harm

a.         Bathing and dressing facilities:  remedies already in place; actual harm not likely

Brennan and Hungerford claim an assertion of female gender identity that would entitle a person making such an assertion to use women’s bathing facilities though not female-bodied “does not require any objective proof.”  While the possibility of legal sanction for access by such persons is highly doubtful (as will be discussed shortly), this assertion of no requirement of proof of identity is inaccurate.  Brennan and Hungerford themselves cite, in their footnote xviii, Connecticut General Statutes § 46a-63 (effective October 1, 2011), which requires a demonstration of “gender-related identity … shown by evidence including, but not limited to, medical history, care or treatment of the gender-related identity … or any other evidence that the gender-related identity is … not being asserted for an improper purpose.”

Further, the gender identity-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act (“ENDA”) intro­duced into the current session of the U.S. Congress contains the following provision:

“Section 8(a)(3) CERTAIN SHARED FACILITIES- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to establish an unlawful employment practice based on actual or perceived gender identity due to the denial of access to shared shower or dressing facilities in which being seen fully unclothed is unavoidable, provided that the employer provides reasonable access to adequate facilities that are not inconsistent with the employee’s gender identity as established with the employer at the time of employment or upon notification to the employer that the employee has undergone or is undergoing gender transition, whichever is later.”

Passage and enactment of this Act would make the Brennan-Hungerford submission moot.

As a practical matter, sexual assault or sexual harassment committed in a bathroom or dressing facility would be prima facie evidence that a body-discordant claim of gender identity made to access such facility was fraudulent.  Perpetration of a fraud in order to commit a crime is already itself a crime (and is actionable in a civil court).  Were this not enough to deter predators fraudulently claiming to be transgender to seek access to these facilities, the common legislative practice of enacting sentencing enhancements as a further deterrent and preventive measure.  These mechanisms already protect women’s civil right to female bodied-only bathing and dressing facilities.

Meanwhile, there is already a history of these concerns being addressed both governmentally and privately.

In the 1960s, a project of the San Francisco Police Department’s Community
Relations Unit, the Center for Special Problems, created the first form of evidence of “medical history, care or treatment of the gender-related identity.”  It was a card, signed by a physician, which evidenced such care as a defense against arrest for impersonation, and a request for considerate treatment in case of arrest on other grounds.  Similar documentation is routinely provided gender clients by physicians and psychologists in order for those clients to arrange their life affairs so they can live in the chosen gender prior to SRS, per established medical care guidelines.

There are also instances of bathhouse privacy for female-bodied women being protected by private arrangements.  By a voluntary agreement in 2007, transgender activists acting in coordination with the Lesbian Avengers dropped plans to file a complaint with the San Francisco Human Rights Commission against Osento, a small Japanese-style bath and sauna establishment for women where public nudity was perforce the rule.  Osento had a “trans-inclusive” policy in that it welcomed for patronage female-bodied women regardless of whether born so or made so by reconstructive surgery.  The potential complainants wanted access on the grounds of an asserted identity as a woman, but eventually relented and accepted the inclusionary policy in place.  (I had prepared, and presented to the owner of Osento, an amicus brief on her behalf that I was willing to file with the Human Rights Commission should it accept a complaint.)

Brennan and Hungerford have not provided this Commission with any instances of findings of discrimination against any establishment barring male-bodied individuals from women’s facilities where public nudity necessarily is the customary environment.  U.S. jurisprudence makes such a finding extremely unlikely.  The standards for adjudicating a claim of disparate treatment discrimination are the burden (of proof)-shifting requirements outline in the Supreme Court employment law decision McDonnell Douglas v. Green, 411 U.S. 792 (1973).  Upon the presentation of facts adequate to support a claim of discrimination, the burden of proof shifts to the party accused of unlawful discrimination.  Such party may rebut the claim by articulating a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the allegedly discriminatory act.  Upon an acceptable rebuttal, the burden shifts back to the complainant to prove that this reason is merely a pretext for behavior with a discriminatory motive.

The privacy and comfort needs underlying single-sex bathing and dressing facilities (meaning same genital configuration and not same gender identity) are so clearly understandable to reasonable and prudent persons (“reasonable and prudent person” being another standard concept in U.S. jurisprudence) that the likelihood of a court ordering access to women’s bathing and dressing facilities by male-bodied persons is negligible.  (And, should ENDA be enacted, no such order would be possible.)  The potential harm from anti-discrimination laws that Brennan and Hungerford claim requires Commission investigation has neither come to pass, nor is likely to come to pass.

For these reasons, among others, Brennan and Hungerford should withdraw their submission or, alternatively, this Commission should reject it.

b.         Restrooms:  remedies already in place; actual harm not likely

As regards restroom use, the legal issues are not the same as for bathing and dressing venues.  Restrooms for women customarily have toilets (of whatever kind) in individual stalls that prevent involuntary viewing and inadvertent exposure of genitals.  There is available, under U.S. juris­prudence, a remedy for “hostile environment sex discrimination” relating to sexual harass­ment (which constitutes sex discrimination in employment legal actions).  To paraphrase the standards set out in the Supreme Court decision in Meritor Savings Bank, FSB v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 47 (1986), a person taking legal action for alleged hostile environment sex dis­crim­ination must be a member of a protected group (such as women), and subject to and adversely affected by harassment based on her being a member of the protected group.  The harassment must be so severe and pervasive as to affect the victim’s ability to make use of the facilities in question (in Meritor and its progeny, to be employed in that workplace).  Those responsible for keeping the environment harassment- and discrimination-free are legally liable if they knew or should have known of the harassment but failed to take action to stop or prevent it.

Brennan and Hungerford appear to suggest that cross-body configuration restroom use justified by gender identity anti-discrimination statutes would constitute hostile environment sex dis­crimination.  For this actually to be the case, however, there is a further legal standard that must be met, per the Supreme Court decision in Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775 (1998).  The objectionable environment “must be both objectively and subjectively offensive, one that a reasonable person would find hostile or abusive, and one that the victim did in fact perceive to be so.”  A reasonable and prudent person can certainly find objectionable and unreasonable women’s restroom use by casual or “lifestyle” crossdressers, and especially by opportunistic others as a pretext for voyeurism or worse.  The likelihood of facility management being unresponsive to complaints about such use is slight, given the potential for legal liability in the case of harm and the great potential for loss of patronage in the case of offense.

In the case of cross-body configuration restroom use by (full-time) transgender individuals, and especially by transgender and pre-operative transsexual individuals with documentation of appropriately supervised gender treatment, there is a serious question of whether their use of a toilet in an enclosed stall in a women’s restroom, and washing and grooming in its common area, would create an actual hostile environment.  It is doubtful such usage creates an environment that rises anywhere near the standards for judicial consideration established in Meritor and Faragher.  In this regard, Brennan and Hungerford fail to document either actual harm, or a likelihood of actual harm that might be excused or enabled by gender identity anti-discrimination statutes.

There is, further, a history of effective private arrangements that have made other spaces non-threatening for female-bodied women.

In 1982, a participant in a women’s “rap group” (discussion group) at the San Francisco Bisexual Center complained of participation by a male-bodied individual generally accepted in that community as a woman, based on her living full-time as a woman and her individual reputation.  An agreement was made at that instance that the matter could be addressed at the next Center Board meeting.  At that meeting, the Board adopted a policy that the women’s rap groups could be attended by anyone living consistently as a woman full-time and intending to continue to do so.  The Board rejected a request by a cross-dresser to be allowed to attend on the days on which he “felt like a woman.”

In the 1990s, the Power Surge alternative sexuality conference for women in Seattle, Washington (held twice) made the daytime workshops accessible to all women on the basis of gender identity while restricting optional night-time “play” events at which nudity was likely to occur to the female-bodied (in this case, not in possession of a physical penis).

For these reasons, among others, Brennan and Hungerford should withdraw their submission or, alternatively, this Commission should reject it.

2.         Relating the potential harm to reproductive capability denies human rights protection to a substantial segment of the potential victim class.

Brennan and Hungerford claim there is a need for the exclusion of transgender women (i.e., non- or not-yet-female-bodied women) from “sex segregated facilities for a number of reasons, chief among them the documented frequency of male sexual violence against females and the uniquely female consequence of unwanted impregnation resulting from this relatively common form of violence” (emphasis added).  Further, they seek international vitiation of gender identity anti-discrimination laws as “protection for the potential harm that females may experience because of our reproductive vulnerability.”

Sexual assault is no respecter of reproductive capability.  Pre-pubescent girls get raped.  Post-menopausal women get raped.  Women incapable of conception because of surgical intervention or underlying physical conditions get raped.  Transsexual and transgender women get raped.  Moreover, not all rape is vaginal penetration:  forced oral or anal copulation is rape that cannot possibly have anything to do with reproduction.

Brennan and Hungerford frame the potential harm to women in terms of possible unwanted pregnancy as though they must do so in order to fit some category of harm that would trigger this Commission’s attention.  In doing so, they fail to address potential harm to women, by carving out an elite class of potential victims based on fertility.  This is not an action reasonably framed to address human rights violations against women.

Are the targets of this framing of the issue actually female-bodied (i.e., post-operative) trans­sexual women, in order to obtain by stealth some kind of international determination that they are not or will never be women, and should not be accorded legal status, recognition and rights as women?   The dis­claimer that neither “individual males” nor “transgender or transsexual women are any more likely to harm females” certainly appears to propound such a distinction.  Moreover, in their concluding paragraph, they draw a distinction between “females” and “transgender and trans­sexual people.”

Regardless of whether such a covert agenda is in play in the Brennan-Hungerford submission, there is a cruel irony to its complaint of potential harm to physically normal and fertile female-bodied women, given the great likelihood that transgender and pre-operative trans­sexual women who are raped will be murdered as well.  Rapists denied the opportunity for forced vaginal penetration because of a contrary physical structure often act as though they are the victims of male-on-male rape, and their response is often violent.  In fact, the murder of transgender women is not always preceded by or done in conjunction with an act of rape (see, e.g., the Wikipedia “List of unlawfully killed transgender people”).

The discrimination that gender identity anti-discrimination statutes are designed to alleviate in­cludes discrimination in hiring.  Pre-operative transsexuals in particular have a daunting poverty rate, despite the derogatory stereotype of well-to-do middle-aged men making a lifestyle choice to transition.  Those who commence transition as employed adults can lose their jobs and have trouble obtaining new jobs.  Teenagers not yet employed who exhibit cross-gender behavior or attempt beginning stages of transition are frequently expelled by their parents or run away because of impending domestic violence.  There are many undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who fled their homes because of impending or actual gender identity-related violence.  All of these risk homelessness and becoming part of the street prostitution population, as do the simply transgender who have become unemployed and poor through similar dynamics.  Street prostitution means negotiating sex with a series of strange men and therefore heightened exposure to the risk of sexual violence, physical assault and injury, and murder.

It can be left to Brennan and Hungerford whether these are crimes against females or not; they are certainly crimes against individuals who are of the victim class of females because they are perceived to be such at the commencement of activities that end in acts of violence.  At the very least, the consequences for these victims is far more extreme than the possible inconvenience of  sitting in a closed bathroom stall adjacent to another closed stall in which the person sitting on the toilet is not fully female-bodied.

At the very least, in terms of potential victims who are female and were assigned as female at birth based on genital morphology, Brennan and Hungerford’s submission addresses only the potential violation of human rights for some of these women, while purporting to address a violation of the human rights for women in general.  For this reason, their submission is fatally deficient, and for this reason, among others, Brennan and Hungerford should withdraw their submission or, alternatively, this Commission should reject it.

3.         Implementation of statutes not yet determined in U.S. courts, and therefore no actual controversy for an international body to investigate.

In giving a brief overview of U.S. law that may likely frame the adjudication of these state statutes and their implementation,  I have demonstrated a distinct possibility that the courts will not allow the potential harms over which Brennan and Hungerford express concern to come to pass.  These are matters with a strong likelihood of being litigated, with the initial decisions appealed at higher and higher levels, possibly even before the U.S. Supreme Court.  Courts of Appeal, whether state or federal, cannot reach down and rule on matters on which there is no record on which an appeal can be based.  They have the option to let lower court decisions stand, and they may decide to adjudicate portions of a lower court finding; they may also decline to review a lower court decision and let it stand.  Laws enacted by a legislature may conflict with other laws, and this is the process by which contradictions are sorted out and laws are determined to conform to the overall Constitutional framework or not.  In short, laws are not final until any controversies around their meaning, application and implementation have been sorted out through a process involving layers of judicial review.

Regarding the state statutes of which Brennan and Hungerford complained, there is insufficient record for appeal to the highest levels of U.S. courts for determination.  Until that process has worked itself out, possibly with legislative adjustments to the laws in response to how the courts interpret them, the effects of these statutes cannot and will not be known.  If they violate human rights, there is likelihood they will not survive the appeals process in U.S. courts.  Nobody will know whether these statutes as implemented will violate human rights until the law regarding them is relatively settled.  They are nowhere near “ripe” for appeal to an external body.

I have brought up local private settlements of related disputes for an important reason:  The closer adjudication is to the local people immediately affected, the more likely positive results protecting human rights will occur.  For one thing, agreements arrived at by the people involved and affected are agreements of which they are more likely to take ownership.  The more local the process, even a judicial process, the more likely solutions are to be crafted in such a way that they are workable, on a lasting basis, in the context of the indigenous culture and mores where they will be in effect.  The more remote and the more levels above the body handing down the determination of law, the less likely the people affected by it will feel compelled to comply with them.

It is simply premature in terms of judicial appeal to resort to international adjudication of this matter, both in terms of procedure and in terms of a lasting resolution satisfactory to the submitters here as well as to the individuals who would be relying on these anti-discrimination statutes.  UN involvement at this point in the adjudication of the meaning and effect of these statutes could be counterproductive in terms of ensuring human rights.

And, essentially, until U.S. courts have adjudicated these statutes and the law is reasonably well settled, there is no controversy for the U.N. to review.  Again, the harm is potential and may not come to pass, and the law may eventually take shape in such a way that it does not enable human rights violations.

For these reasons, among others, the Brennan and Hungerford petition is premature and should be withdrawn, or, alternatively, this Commission should reject it.

 *          *          *

 Almost as an aside, before closing, there are some quirks of phrasing in the Brennan-Hungerford submission that give me pause.  One, of course, is the distinction in their concluding paragraph between “females” and “transgender and trans­sexual people.”  Another is the inclusion, in their first-page listing of sex segregated places that “the proliferation of legislation designed to protect ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’ [purportedly] undermines,” of “female-only clubs” and the undefined “other spaces designated as ‘female-only.’”  It is difficult to imagine the kinds of injurious acts Brennan and Hungerford fear could take place in bathing and dressing facilities and in bathrooms taking place on, say, a dance floor or in, say, a discussion group.

Then there is the statement, “As lesbians, we are concerned about the impact of this legislation on our community, and our community’s ability to meet free from male influence and involvement.”  In the context of this petition, the only possible interpretation of this statement is that what Brennan and Hungerford define as the lesbian community is one free of post-operative male-to-female transsexuals on the belief they are not women and therefore cannot be lesbians.

That leads to the conclusion that Brennan and Hungerford’s concern is not for lesbians per se, but for that subset of lesbians and the lesbian community that identifies as lesbian separatists—a kind of fundamentalist movement within the lesbian community and rights movement.  It rejects the definition of “lesbian” put forth by movement founders Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon (in their 1972 book Lesbian/Woman) about a primary physical, romantic and or spiritual attraction to other women whether or not overtly expressed, and defines “lesbian” in terms of non-involvement with men (even relatives) or maleness (real or perceived), including no bisexuality and nobody but cissexual women assigned female at birth.

This subset of lesbians, ironically, has not been satisfied with “separating” itself from the larger lesbian community and building its own institutions, but has for the past four decades asserted a hegemonic interest in any institution defined by those involved as “lesbian,” including the lesbian rights movement and the larger community itself.  The appendix to the 2011 edition of Mirrors is a new critical essay that describes the disruption of the 1973 West Coast Lesbian Conference at the University of Los Angeles by a covert coalition of lesbian separatists and “political” lesbians (women who may be in fact heterosexual but who choose “lesbian” as a feminist identity label oppositional to men), meant to impose these political/lifestyle restrictions upon a politically independent California lesbian community that was in the process of achieving critical mass for a self-sustaining existence beyond the political control of either the Women’s Liberation Movement or the radical lesbians who came out of the New Left.

It is entirely possible I am being overly apprehensive.  On the other hand, it would not be prudent to raise this possibility in the event that what we have in the Brennan-Hungerford petition is an attempt to leverage global human rights mechanisms into enforcement of separatist hegemony on the larger lesbian community and movement in the United States.  For this reason, I would ask that the Commission give scrutiny to this possibility.

In conclusion, I thank the Commission for its kind attention to this rebuttal of the Brennan-Hungerford petition, and respectfully request that said petition be denied.

Yours sincerely,


X         Beth Elliott    

First-Ever Trans Senate Witness: ‘To Be Unemployed Is Very Devastating, Demeaning, And Demoralizing’

From Think Progress:

By Zack Ford
on Jun 12, 2012

This morning, the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee held a hearingon the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would extend employment protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. For the first time in the Senate’s history, a transgender witness testified on behalf of the bill. Kylar Broadus, founder of the Trans People of Color Coalition, discussed his experiences coming out trans, including mistreatment by police, workplace harassment, and employment discrimination:

BROADUS: When I used female restrooms, police would accost me. I would have to strip and then they still told me, “Sir, get out of the bathroom,” when I would use the ladies’ room. It’s just humiliating and dehumanizing to say the least.[…]

Complete article at:

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Ontario passes trans rights bill

From Xtra Canada:

ONTARIO POLITICS / Act will amend Human Rights Code to include gender expression and identity
Justin Ling
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Cheri DiNovo’s battle is over.
In a somewhat anti-climactic morning session of the Ontario legislature, members of all three parties stood to support the long-awaited passage of Toby’s Act, a bill the NDP MPP has been championing for years.
The bill is also known under the more cumbersome title of Bill 33, an act to amend the Human Rights Code with respect to gender identity and gender expression. It looks to codify protections for trans people, mimicking protections that already exist for much of the queer community.
“The people who deserve recognition joined us in the gallery today,” said MPP Yasir Naqvi, the Liberal co-signer for the bill, as he stood in the legislature. “We’re getting the legal recognition today, but we need to do the educating.”
DiNovo, who had introduced this bill three times previously, applauded her colleagues across the aisle, as well as those sitting in the benches above. As DiNovo has done in her previous speeches on the bill, she spoke of the late Toby Dancer, the bill’s namesake.

DiNovo recounted how Dancer, much to her chagrin, would often find herself playing “Amazing Grace” at DiNovo’s church. “She’d much rather be playing jazz,” DiNovo said. But because the church dedicated a night especially for those living in poverty or suffering from mental illness, Dancer played “Amazing Grace” so the congregation could sing along.

Dancer died in 2004. DiNovo has dedicated her work on this issue to her.
The passage of the bill marks a changing in the tides for the trans movement in Canada. Similar bills are being considered in Manitoba and at the federal level. The House of Commons, too, seems poised to pass a similar bill after seven years of trying.
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NOM hiding ties to anti-gay parenting study

From Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters:

By Alvin McEwen
Wednesday June 13, 2012

Reposted with Permission

While the National Organization for Marriage has been trumpeting a recent study which claims that gay households are inferior to heterosexual households when it comes to the raising of children, recent information has revealed that NOM has not been forthcoming as to how deep the ties the study has to one of the organization’s founders.

According to Wayne Besen of the group Truth Wins Out, the head of the study – University of Texas researcher Mark Regnerus, received a $695,000 grant from the Witherspoon Institute and a $90,000 grant from the Bradley Foundation.

Both of the Bradley Foundation and the Witherspoon Foundation are affiliated with Princeton professor Robert George. At the Witherspoon Foundation, he is a Herbert W. Vaughan Senior Fellow and at the Bradley Foundation, he is on the Board of Directors.

Robert George is also a founder and chairman emeritus of the National Organization for Marriage.

It gets even more interesting.

Probably the first publication to trumpet the results of the study was Utah’s Deseret News. Robert George just happens to be a member of that publication’s board. He joined in 2010.

Interestingly enough, while the National Organization for Marriage ran several posts praising the study, no one from the organization even bothered to mention its ties to George. One would think that for the sake of disclosure, NOM could have mention that its founder and chairman emeritus had a huge hand in not only the study’s funding, but possibly also its publicity.

Regnerus’s study has received much criticism for its faulty methodology, but it appears that questions also need to be asked as to its ties with NOM because this collusion is not without precedent.

Last year, during its unsuccessful fight to keep marriage equality from New York, NOM members held a press conference claiming that “objective legal scholars”  said that marriage equality will negatively impact the rights of people who disagree with it.

Come to find out, however, that all of those “objective legal scholars” had ties with NOM, including . . . Robert George.

NOM, George, and even Regnerus have a lot to answer for. The only thing is will they be asked the right questions?

Related post:

NOM proves duplicity of anti-gay parenting study

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Anti-Semitism Also Part Of NOM’s Hateful Wedge Strategies

From The New Civil Rights Movement:

by Scott Rose
on June 12, 2012

Reposted with permission

When a judge ordered the release of the so-called National Organization for Marriage’s anti-gay, race-baiting strategy documents, the towering civil rights leader Julian Bond said“It confirmed a suspicion that some evil hand was behind this.”

The NOM strategy document said, apropos of NOM’s obnoxious “Not a Civil Right” gay-bashing campaign: “The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks— two key Democratic constituencies.”

NOM’s hate document also stated that “Fanning hostility” — between anti-gay African-Americans, and LGBTers — (many of whom, of course, are African-Americans) — is “key” to its War on Gays.

The deliberate, shameless, disingenuous lying that NOM officials have been doing about their wedge strategies since the documentation was released only confirms that those officials are absolutely despicable gay-bashing bigot monsters.

Just as NOM’s race-baiting strategies involving African-Americans and Hispanics were manifest and evident before the release of that documentation, it has for a long time been manifest and evident that NOM uses similar, ruthless tactics involving other minorities.

NOM is not entirely antisemitic per se — NOM co-founder and Chairman Emeritus Robert George‘s wife was born to a Jewish family — but National Organization For Marriage bigots exploit antisemitic sentiment in parts of the population, when doing so advances NOM’s War on Gays.

Often, NOM is confined to using dog whistles for Jew haters, because in some parts of the U.S. today, antisemitism is viewed as unacceptable, so can not be spoken forthrightly out loud, in the manner NOM gay bashes daily at the top of their lungs.

What is the historical background of anti-Semitism in the United States? How is NOM able to profit from hatred of Jews?

In colonial Maryland, it was illegal not to believe in Jesus; the third offense got non-believers the death penalty. Jews did not have the vote in the state until 1826, and even then, to vote, they had to sign a paper saying they believed in an afterlife. The reason the United States first had “Jewish” hospitals, was that most Anglo-Saxon-led hospitals would not hire Jews. In the 20th century, most top universities placed maximum quotas on Jews permitted to enter, so there would not be “too many.” The stereotype by which all Jews are rich — and not coincidentally, viewed with suspicion — in this society, that all too often views with contempt the plight of its poor — distracts from the fact that there are indeed poor Jews living in the United States.

My point would be that while antisemitism is far from being the most severe of anti-minority bigotries in America, it exists. The white supremacist vote is a key swing Republican vote; you will almost never hear a Republican candidate unambiguously condemning white supremacists. And, white supremacists hate Jews at least every bit as much as they hate blacks. There are many such groups, with enough supporters that former KKK Grand Wizard and Republican Louisiana State Representative David Duke has been able to make a career off of Jew haters.

President Richard Nixon frequently disparaged Jews. He was especially fond of pointing out that among American conscientious objectors who would not fight in his dirty southeast Asian war — (where innocent men, women and children were maimed and killed with napalm) — Jews were “disproportionately” represented. Understand what Nixon was doing; he was cultivating support for his dirty war among antisemitic Americans — who already thought of Jews as being “not really American” — by leading them to think that the Jewish conscientious objectors were “anti-American.”

On an international level, Jews have been maligned — and often still today are maligned — as the masterminds of world capitalism, socialism and communism.

NOM, of course, is eager — very eager indeed to exploit antisemitism towards anti-gay political ends.

During Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court confirmation hearings, South Carolina’s Senator Lindsey Graham made a point of asking the Jewish nominee where she had been on Christmas. That was a dog whistle for anti-Semites. Nothing about Graham’s question was relevant to her qualifications.

NOM, too, uses dog whistles for anti-Semites. Last week, when the First Circuit court found DOMA unconstitutional, NOM’s Brian Brown said: “It’s obvious that the federal courts on both coasts are intent on imposing their liberal, elitist views of marriage on the American people.”

“Coast,” “liberal,” “elitist;” Brown was using the dog whistles to suggest “Jews.” Notice that Brown talked about the “coast,” “liberal,” “elitist” judges “imposing” equality “on the American people,” (as though gays were not part of the American people, and as though “coast,” “liberal,” “elitist,” (bigot dog whistle code for: Jews) were not part of the American people; this is similar to Nixon’s dirty trick of hinting that Jews are not real Americans, or even perhaps, that they are anti-American, simply because of a progressive human rights-related view.

Brown and NOM have few if indeed any evidence-based, constitutional arguments to make against equality — (in talking about “elitist coast liberals,” they conveniently forget to mention that Iowa judges ruled for equality) — but now NOM seeks to identify — in their gay-bashing bigot followers’ minds — federal court votes for equality with “Coast,” “liberal,” “elitist;” — you know, like Elena Kagan. Where was she on Christmas?

Sometimes NOM subcontracts the antisemitism to its best friends, in hopes of avoiding having the accumulated stench of all of it sticking only to NOMzis. In the Kagan confirmation matter, for example, NOM was raucously beating the drums against Kagan. One NOM online donation form actually allowed donors specifically to give money to “expose” Senators who were supporting Kagan. Notice 1) that Vision America’s Rick Scarborough has appeared at conferences together with NOM’s Brian Brown and Jennifer Roback Morse, and then notice 2) that NOM friend Rick Scarborough published a piece titled Elena Kagan and the War Against Christianity.  Get it? Kagan equals Jew equals a war against Christianity. Nice! Logical!  Here, if you can bear to look at them, are photos of a conference attended by NOM’s Maggie Gallagher and John Eastman along with their very close anti-gay bigot ally Phyllis Schafly.  What did Schafly say to demonize nominee Elena Kagan? Schlafly used, as a weapon against Kagan, that Kagan as Dean of the Harvard Law School once had invited — as a speaker — former Israeli Supreme Court Judge Aharon Barak, who favors equality.  Schafly, obviously, calculated a value to smearing Kagan with her association with another Jew who not only favors equality, but also happens to share, with the man who nominated Kagan, the Middle Eastern-sounding name Barak/Barack. And, there was a broader, fraudulent effort among U.S. Christian, anti-gay reactionaries to tar-and-feather the Jewish Kagan with the Jewish Barak and the Jewish Barak with the Jewish Kagan.  It was a giant “Where were you on Christmas?” festival. Despite Kagan having once referred — for reasons of her own — to NOM’s Robert George as one of the country’s “most respected legal scholars,” NOM was busy ripping Kagan a new one, accusing her left and right of “sabotaging” a DOMA-related case as Solicitor General. (Meanwhile, after House Speaker John Boehner appointed Robert George to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, he was sworn into that office by the Jewish woman his Catholic NOMzis had pursued with unrelenting vengeance, Justice Elena Kagan).

How else is NOM willing to exploit hatred and resentment of Jews in order to further its War on Gays?

Maryland State Senator Anthony Muse, an anti-gay African-American minister, works closely with NOM, who have made robo-poll calls for him. The stated aim of the robo-polls was “to identify marriage equality opponents who they can push to support Mr. Muse in the Democratic Primary.”

Look what Muse did here. He created a campaign flyer that suggested President Obama had endorsed Muse in the 2012 Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, when in fact, Obama had endorsed the incumbent Senator Ben Cardin, a Jew who has co-sponsored legislation to repeal DOMA. The Muse campaign flyer shows the “Composition of the 112th Senate,” purportedly broken down by race. There are no African-American U.S. Senators. On whom does Muse pin the blame for that? On the Jews. His racial breakdown gives “White” and “Jewish” as separate races. The Muse hate document shows that there are 84 “white” Senators, and that “whites” are 62% of the U.S. population, and it shows that there are 12 Jewish Senators, and that Jews are 1.8% of the population, while blacks are 12% of the population.

This sickening, cynical hate document has NOM’s fingerprints all over it. We know that NOM actively planned to “drive a wedge” between other minorities; we know that NOM said that “fanning hostility” between minorities is “key” to its strategy. The Muse pamphlet very conspicuously sought to “drive a wedge” and to “fan hostility.” Remember; NOM’s goal in the Democratic primary was “to identify marriage equality opponents who they can push to support Mr. Muse in the Democratic Primary.” Having identified Democratic marriage equality opponents — many of them African-Americans — Muse sought to stoke African-American resentment and/or hatred of Jews by separating whites from Jews as “races,” and showing that while there are fewer Jews than blacks in the population, there are 12 Jewish U.S. Senators, but no African-American ones. Of course, the Jew-clobbering strategy was dependent on Muse’s opponent, Senator Ben Cardin, being a Jewish LGBT equality supporter.

Cardin won the primary, but NOM’s involvement in the Muse campaign left the area poisoned with elevated antisemitic feeling and enhanced hatred of gays and lesbians.

NOM’s boycott of Starbucks, because of Starbucks’ support for equality, also manifests appeals to antisemitism. Microsoft and Apple are at least as dedicated to LGBT equality as Starbucks, but Bill Gates and Tim Cook are not Jewish, while Starbucks’s Chairman Howard Schultz is. Do you get it? “Coast,” “liberal,” “elitist;” “Schultz.” The NOMzi gay-bashers simply can not get enough of saying his name, either, because in American Jew haters’ minds, the words “coast,” “liberal,” “elitist,” and “Schultz” just naturally are a fit for negative stereotyping and resentment. Maggie Gallagher — who has deliberately and shamelessly lied about NOM’s race-baiting strategies — published an article about Schultz and Starbucks in the National Review. It’s title? Church of Starbucks, with the conspicuously Jewish-sounding complete name Howard Schultz mentioned twice.  Do you get it? Jews don’t go to churches — and Gallagher is mocking Schultz’s heritage, beliefs and philosophy by talking sarcastically about Schultz’s Jewish, pro-gay-rights “Church of Starbucks;” this is another NOM antisemitic dog whistle. “Starbucks is no Christian church,” Gallagher seems to be telling her readers, “and this homosexuals-loving Jew Howard Schultz sure as hell doesn’t go to any other Christian church, either,” she seemingly implies. If Gallagher now attempts to deny that she was making a calculated appeal to the anti-Semites in her NOM base, just tell her to shut her lying mouth.

Does this mean that NOM will not now come up with one of its outlier nutbag gay-bashing Jewish supporters to say they do not mind all of this intentional appeal to antisemitism?  Meet NOM’s loony friend Yehuda Levine, who says that acceptance of gays causes God to send earthquakes. Not exactly consensus Jewish-American thinking.

NOM’s international presentation of its Starbucks boycott, too, relies on appealing to hatred of Jews. That NOM has translated its anti-gay hate materials into Arabic and placed them online, for consumption in those countries that have barbaric, murderous anti-gay attitudes at the official government level, is in itself detestable.

Yet additionally, the complicated Starbucks corporate picture in the Middle East must be taken into account. Firstly, it is essential to know that standard-issue Arab propaganda says that all homosexuality in the Middle East is the “fault” of Jewish Israelis. There are no Starbucks in Israel. You can find some anecdotal reports, not necessarily credible, alleging that the Israelis simply did not take to Starbucks coffee. It is possible, meanwhile, that in order to gain entry to the wider Middle East market, Starbucks entered into tacit agreements not to set up shop in Israel. However that may be, NOM has stepped into the Middle East picture, identifying Starbucks as a Jewish-led company that — horror of horrors — supports gay rights.

Get it? NOM is hoping to simultaneously stoke resentment of Jews and Israel, to Middle East populations that widely allege that all homosexuality in the Middle East is the “fault” of Jewish Israelis. NOM’s malevolent intent to deal Starbucks fatal blows, no matter what it takes, is evident. Extremely troubling is NOM’s publication of maps showing the precise locations of every Starbucks in Saudi Arabia, and other such places, with instructions for gay-bashers — who in those environments, could eventually turn out to be suicide bombers — to go to those mapped locations to protest Starbucks’s support for gay marriage.  There is no chance that Saudi Arabia is about to institute marriage equality; so think about NOM’s broader, evil goals in pushing its Starbucks boycott in such a place.

Additionally, it is hardly a coincidence that in its fund-raising video starring the “Spirit Day” gay basher Daniel Glowacki, NOM prominently featured this gay Jewish reporter’s articles about the lying Glowacki.

NOM of course also is stoking anti-Muslim bigotry in order to advance its War on Gays; that will be the topic of a future article.

NOM is comprised entirely of monsters.

And oh — I almost forgot. NOM’s founder Robert George also is founder of the American Principles Project. George sent Thomas Peters — also involved with both NOM and the American Principles Project — to attend a conference in Poland hosted by the notorious anti-Semite and Holocaust denier Father Tadeusz Rydsyk. Rydsyk’s “Radio Marija” once mounted an on-air defense campaign for a cleric charged with child molestation and anti-Semitism.

This tells us everything we need to know about Robert George’s and NOM’s “Principles.” And the amoral Mitt Romney has a lot to answer for, as regards his signature on the hateful NOM pledge.

Remember what Julian Bond said about the document — had only through court-ordered release — that confirmed NOM’s despicable tactics:  “It confirmed a suspicion that some evil hand was behind this.”

New York City– based novelist and freelance writer Scott Rose’s LGBT– interest by– line has appeared on Advocate .com, PoliticusUSA .com, The New York Blade, Queerty .com, Girlfriends and in numerous additional venues. Among his other interests are the arts, boating and yachting, wine and food, travel, poker and dogs. His “Mr. David Cooper’s Happy Suicide” is about a New York City advertising executive assigned to a condom account.

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A.P. Scare Report: A ‘Brutal’ Socialist Future Facing France

From This Can’t Be Happening:

by: Dave Lindorff
Wed, 06/13/2012

Reading, watching and listening to the mainstream media in America, it gets harder and harder to tell the difference between journalism and rank propaganda. Consider the coverage of the French parliamentary election currently underway.

Most Americans who read newspapers probably learned about this via the Associated Press report that went out on the weekend for Monday’s papers (AP is the de facto “foreign correspondent” for almost every newspaper in America now that all but a few papers have eliminated their foreign reporting staffs). It stated that recently elected Socialist President Francois Hollande’s Socialist Party “stands positioned to take control of the lower house of parliament.”

Okay so far, right? But then the reporter, Elaine Ganley, who may well have been writing from the US given that the article, as it appeared in my paper, the Philadelphia Inquirer, didn’t carry a Paris dateline, or indeed any dateline at all, went on to say “…so he can revamp a country his partisans see as too capitalist for the French.

Ganley went on to warn readers that “A leftist victory in the voting, five weeks after Hollande took office, would brutally jar the French political landscape.”

Whoa! Last time I looked, “brutally” was a word reserved for nasty over-the-top abusive behavior.

I suspect that the hundreds of thousands of Parisian “partisans” who poured into the streets around the Bastille on learning of Hollande’s victory would not consider their victory “brutal” for France. In fact, if anything, they would probably say that the experience of several years of austerity and a raising of the French retirement age by the ousted conservative president Nicolas Sarkozy was what was brutal.

Would Ganley have described the election of conservative Jacques Chirac as president following the second and final term of the last French Socialist president, Francois Mitterrand, as “brutally jarring” for the French political landscape? Hardly! In fact, an AP report on that election to replace Mitterrand, who was legally barred from running for a third term, said that the victor, conservative former prime minister and Paris mayor Jacques Chirac, “was elected by people who wanted a change.” Indeed Chirac, who after leaving office was convicted of epic corruption, was widely hailed in the US press upon his initial election. A reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle reported in 1995 on the crowds celebrating his victory and predicted that his government would “concentrate on the battle against unemployment and the problem of ‘the excluded,’ those who are outside the mainstream of France’s economic and political system.” The change from Socialist to Conservative government was described as “dramatic,” not as “brutal.”

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Exactly How Much Carbon Is China Emitting Per Year?

From Take Part:

The difference between China’s actual and reported CO2 emissions may be significant.

By Alison Fairbrother
June 11, 2012

The extent of China’s energy consumption has been a question with a murky answer for many years. A nation of 1.3 billion people, China surpassed the United States as the world’s leading greenhouse gas polluter in 2007. But scientists and policymakers alike have questioned whether data on carbon emissions in China is reliable enough to tell the full story.

A paper published yesterday in Nature Climate Change validates those concerns. China’s carbon emissions could be 20 percent higher than previous estimates, the study suggests, indicating that climate change may be occurring at an even more rapid and dangerous pace than previously thought.

Authors analyzed data collected by China’s National Bureau of Statistics, and found discrepancies in the two publicly available datasets on energy consumption.

“The paper identifies a 1.4 billion tonne emission gap (in 2010) between the two datasets. This implies greater uncertainties than ever in Chinese energy statistics,” Dabo Guan, lecturer at Leeds University and a lead author of the paper, told Reuters.

The implications of this finding for global climate change are tremendous—the implications for policy perhaps even more so. The study’s authors warn that reliable national statistics are imperative for “global negotiations about future emission targets.”

Rather than addressing the inconsistencies in their data, the Chinese government earlier today argued that the climate crisis has been caused by developed nations, and that China has already taken appropriate steps to deal with climate change.

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Are food stamps another subsidy for Big Food?

From Grist:

By Twilight Greenaway
12 Jun 2012

A few months back, we ran a post about the invisibility of modern hunger that looked at the way the current Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) — with its use of EBT cards that fly under the radar — has made it easy for many to ignore the rampant food insecurity in this country. Meanwhile the use of SNAP benefits, or food stamps as they are often called, has gone through the roof (it rose from $30 billion in 2007 to $72 billion in 2011).

A new report released today called “Food Stamps, Follow the Money” suggests that this invisibility also extends to the mechanisms behind SNAP, and raises questions about just how much food makers, retailers, and big banks may be profiting from food stamps. Not only do big food manufacturers such as Coca-Cola, Kraft, and Mars benefit from the SNAP economy, but retailers (such as Walmart) get a cut of those taxpayer dollars, while banks bring in processing fees. Or, as the report’s author (and occasional Grist contributor) Michele Simon sees it, SNAP “represents the largest, most overlooked corporate subsidy in the farm bill.”

The report also calls for reporting by the USDA on the types of food Americans are buying with food stamps, which are designed (in theory, at least) to make good food more accessible.

“SNAP’s tagline is ‘putting healthy food within reach,’” Simon told Reuters. “Without data on how much money is being spent on Coke versus orange juice, or Lucky Charms versus oatmeal, how will we ever evaluate the nutrition goals of the program?”

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How Wall Street Hustles America’s Cities and States Out of Billions

From Alternet:

Many powerful interests have jumped at the opportunity to use the crisis to eviscerate what’s left of the welfare state.

ByThomas Ferguson
June 12, 2012

We all know that America’s cities and towns are in the throes of a deep financial crisis. And are told, over and over, what’s supposedly behind it: unreasonable demands by grasping state and municipal workers for pay and pensions. The diagnosis is a grotesque cartoon. Many of the biggest budget busters are on Wall Street, not Main Street.

In a country as big and locally diverse as the U.S., any number of wacky pay and pension schemes are likely to flourish, though some of the most outrageous turn out to cover not workers, but legislators.  But overall state and local pay has not been growing faster than in the private sector for equivalent work for many years now. 

What has driven cities and towns to the brink is not demands from their workforce but the collapse of national income and the ensuing fall in tax collections. Or, in other words, the Great Recession itself, for which Wall Street and the financial sector are principally to blame. But many powerful interests have jumped at the opportunity to use the crisis to eviscerate what’s left of the welfare state, roll back unionization to pre-New Deal levels, and keep cutting taxes on the wealthy. The litany of horror stories that now fills the media is ideal for their purposes.

The selective character of this press campaign became obvious last week. As the latest wave of stories started rolling in the wake of elections in California and Wisconsin, a striking piece of evidence surfaced that flies in the face of the conventional narrative. The Refund Transit Coalition, a coalition of unions and public interest groups, put out a study that documented in stunning detail how Wall Street banks have for years been hustling American cities, states, and regional authorities out of billions of dollars. But save for Gretchen Morgenson’s “Fair Game” column for the New York Times, the study drew almost no attention.

At a time when cities and states are taking hatchets to services and manically raising fees and fares, the group’s analysis merits a closer look and a much, much wider audience.

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Harvard professor on American society: Everything is up for sale

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The summer phase in Québec

From Socialist Worker:

With summer approaching, Québec students are being confronted by strategic questions–importantly, what comes next in the struggle

Richard Fidler
June 11, 2012

DESPITE MASSIVE mobilizations throughout Québec in opposition to Bill 78 and the government of Québec Premier Jean Charest, the student struggle is once again at an impasse.

At the end of May, the government terminated the latest round of negotiations with four college and university student associations without offering any concessions on the students’ key demands: for repeal of the tuition fee increases and repeal of its “bludgeon law” aimed at smashing student unionism in the province.

The student negotiators had bent over backwards to find some acceptable compromise. They agreed not to discuss Bill 78 pending an agreement on fees. They put aside the proposal of the CLASSE (Coalition large de l’association pour une solidarité syndicale étudiante, or Coalition of the Association for Student Union Solidarity), the most militant student group, that a tax on banks be substituted for the fee increase, proposing instead that the funds in question be found through increasing the existing education savings program. All to no avail.

Meanwhile, mounting public opposition to Bill 78 brought new forces into the struggle. On May 22, hundreds of thousands marched once more in the streets of Montréal and other cities in support of the students and against the law. The nightly demonstrations, which began in late April when the government ended its initial bargaining session with the students, continued.

And for the first time, they began to draw in masses of non-student participants, attracting entire families who spontaneously descended into neighborhood streets, banging pots and pans (casseroles) in angry yet exuberant displays of opposition to the Liberal government.

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Greece’s ‘potato movement’ grows in power

From Al Jazeera:

A growing group of grassroots activists are cutting out agricultural middlemen and connecting farmers and shoppers.

John Psaropoulos
11 June 2012

Athens, Greece –When an economy shrinks, prices are meant to go down in response to falling demand. This has not happened in Greece – at least not yet. While the Greek economy shrank by an average of five per cent a year between 2009 and 2011, consumer prices rose by an average 3.7 per cent a year. The combination of falling revenues and rising prices has led to an explosive political mix.

It is not politicians but grassroots activism that has come to address this issue. In April, the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) reported a 24.6 per cent drop in potato prices from March 2011 – the largest ever one-year drop in any commodity. The reason for this historic deflation was what has come to be known as the potato movement – and it is having an empowering effect on Greeks, not only as consumers, but also as citizens and voters.

The seminal event of the movement was a free distribution of more than ten tons of spuds in the centre of Greece’s northern metropolis, Thessaloniki, on February 5. It was organised by a group of farmers from the village of Nevrokopi, Greece’s potato-growing capital.

The farmers were protesting against imports of Egyptian potatoes – while they had barns full of the Greek product – after a meeting between the agriculture minister and potato importers days earlier failed to yield any concessions.

A growing movement

The first to invite the farmers of Nevrokopi to sell their potatoes at wholesale prices was the Pieria Prefecture Voluntary Action Group, based in the northern Greek town of Katerini, on the foothills of Mount Olympus.

The Pieria group was formed in late 2007, after a series of wildfires devastated Greece’s forests, to provide the local fire service with an early warning system. It was already busy creating a free supermarket for the destitute when it heard of the potato handout in Thessaloniki. On February 19, it organised a sale of potatoes to the Katerini public at 25 cents a kilo – one-third of market price.

Days later, the movement spread to Thessaloniki’s Aristotelian University. Christos Kamenidis, a professor of agricultural marketing, organised a potato sale on campus with student volunteers. “I was worried that we would [only] sell three or four tonnes. We sold 50 tons on the first day,” Kamenidis said.

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IMF chief Christine Lagarde warns world risks triple crisis

From The Guardian UK:

Lagarde says world risks falling incomes, environmental damage and social unrest without more sustainable approach to growth

, economics correspondent, Tuesday 12 June 2012

Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, has warned that the world risks a triple crisis of declining incomes, environmental damage and social unrest unless countries adopt a more sustainable approach to economic growth.

Ahead of the Rio+20 Earth summit later this month, she said the rich should restrain their demands for higher incomes while there are still 200 million people worldwide looking for a job and poverty is on the rise.

Giving her clearest backing yet to green taxes and a range of measures to protect the environment, she argued for taxes on petrol-guzzling cars among a range of green measures to tackle climate change.

“It has been 20 years since world leaders first went to Rio to commit to the noble goal of protecting the planet for future generations. And now, 20 years on, we will be journeying back to Rio to affirm our commitment to sustainable development – the idea that we should strive for economic growth, environmental protection and social progress at the same time,” she said in a speech in Washington on Tuesday.

“The idea that different economic, environmental and social objectives can be seen as distinct aspects of a single vision, essential parts of a connected whole.”

But she said the current economic crisis in Europe and slowing growth worldwide, coupled with the growing threat from climate change and social tensions could wreck the efforts of leaders to chart a more sustainable future.

“Over the past four years, we have been mired in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. And we are not out of it yet.

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U.S. trade proposal would let corporations overrule laws

From Raw Story:

By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a forthcoming U.S. trade agreement that looks to solidify a seamless regional economy in the Pacific-rim, would give multinational corporations the power to challenge and even avoid compliance with laws in member countries — including the U.S. — provided a super-national corporate tribunal agrees with their claim.

That’s according to documents leaked this week by the Citizens Trade Campaign, an activist group responsible for leaking TPP proposals on intellectual property last year. The latest leak details a TPP draft chapter on “investments,” which proposes an independent dispute arbitration process that would be empowered to supersede domestic laws or regulatory actions in member states if they are seen as conflicting with the TPP’s framework.

Consumer advocacy group Public Citizen said Wednesday that it “has verified that the text is authentic,” and described the proposals as being fraught with “dangers.”

“It reveals that negotiators already have agreed to many radical terms granting expansive new rights and privileges for foreign investors and their private corporate enforcement through extra-judicial ‘investor-state’ tribunals,” they explained.

“Although TPP has been branded as a ‘trade’ agreement, the leaked text shows that TPP would limit how signatory countries may regulate foreign firms operating within their boundaries, with requirements to provide them greater rights than domestic firms,” Public Citizen’s analysis added. “The leaked text reveals a two-track legal system, with foreign firms empowered to skirt domestic courts and laws to directly sue TPP governments in foreign tribunals. There they can demand compensation for domestic financial, health, environmental, land use laws and other laws they claim undermine their new TPP privileges.”

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