Jerome John “Jerry” Garcia (August 1, 1942 – August 9, 1995)

Gore Vidal, 1925-2012 Prolific, Elegant, Acerbic Writer

I personally never forgave him for writing Myra Breckenridge, even though I have enjoyed many of his other writings.

From The New York Times:

Published: August 1, 2012

Gore Vidal, the elegant, acerbic all-around man of letters who presided with a certain relish over what he declared to be the end of American civilization, died on Tuesday at his home in the Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles, where he moved in 2003, after years of living in Ravello, Italy. He was 86.

The cause was complications of pneumonia, his nephew Burr Steers said by telephone.

Mr. Vidal was, at the end of his life, an Augustan figure who believed himself to be the last of a breed, and he was probably right. Few American writers have been more versatile or gotten more mileage from their talent. He published some 25 novels, two memoirs and several volumes of stylish, magisterial essays. He also wrote plays, television dramas and screenplays. For a while he was even a contract writer at MGM. And he could always be counted on for a spur-of-the-moment aphorism, putdown or sharply worded critique of American foreign policy.

Perhaps more than any other American writer except Norman Mailer or Truman Capote, Mr. Vidal took great pleasure in being a public figure. He twice ran for office — in 1960, when he was the Democratic Congressional candidate for the 29th District in upstate New York, and in 1982, when he campaigned in California for a seat in the Senate — and though he lost both times, he often conducted himself as a sort of unelected shadow president. He once said, “There is not one human problem that could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise.”

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President Obama on Mitt Romney’s Tax Plan

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Evicting the Homeless

From In These Times:

Civil rights for homeless communities wane across the country.

BY Hank Kalet
July 31, 2012

On back-to-back days in June, the Rev. Steve Brigham was arrested at the tent city he runs in Lakewood, N.J. Charged with criminal mischief and witness tampering by Lakewood Township police, Brigham says the arrests are the latest incident in a “pattern of harassment” aimed at evicting the homeless encampment. As an estimated 640,000 Americans go without shelter each night, many cities are pursuing policies to push them further into the margins. But Brigham and other residents are fighting to stay where they are.

Last year the township sued in state court to close down the camp, but a judge ruled in February that, because its residents had no other options for housing (the closest shelter is more than an hour away), the tent city had to remain open. Brigham and several camp residents then filed a class action suit against Lakewood Township and Ocean County, accusing them of violating the state constitution’s guarantee of a “right to safety and to life.” Both suits remain active, and an effort to reach a negotiated solution is underway.

Meanwhile, the relationship between the township and the homeless camp has deteriorated. Brigham claims township officials have towed residents’ cars and dumped wood chips at the end of an emergency exit path. Township officials dispute this, saying they are only responding to problems at the camp.

The tent city, established by Brigham six years ago, is currently home to nearly 100 people, most of whom have already tried shelters, living with relatives and friends, or sleeping in cars. The camp is located a mile from the city’s small downtown.

The harassment facing the camp is consistent with a spate of municipal laws passed in recent years that criminalize what homeless advocates call “acts of living”—sleeping, eating or even sitting in public places. In May, Denver banned camping on public property. Philadelphia banned the feeding of the homeless in June. In San Francisco, according to the San Francisco Public Press, the city issued nearly 40,000 tickets to homeless individuals between 2007 and 2011, for offenses including sleeping in parks, trespassing and obstruction of sidewalks.

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Reporters Know What the ‘Voter ID’ Push Is Really About. Why Don’t They Just Say So?

From Huffington Post:


Does any journalist who is not an overt shill for the right actually believe that Republicans are pushing voter ID laws because they’re concerned about voter fraud?

No, of course not.

And for good reason. Voter fraud simply isn’t a problem in this country. Studies have definitively debunked the voter fraud myth time and again.

In Pennsyvlania, which just adopted a tremendously restrictive photo-ID law that could disenfranchise 1 in 10 voters, state officials conceded they have no evidence of voter fraud, nor any reason to believe it could become a problem.

By contrast, there is ample evidence that voter ID laws inhibit voting, particularly among minorities and the poor — two major demographic segments that tend to vote Democratic.

And that’s hardly a coincidence. Consider the recent bragging by the Pennsylvania House Republican leader that his state’s voter ID bill “is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania.”

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Ivy League Exorcist: The Bobby Jindal Story

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Contraception Without Co-Pays: Good for Women and the Planet

From RH Reality Check:

by Amy Phillips Bursch, Population Connection
August 1, 2012

Happy Contraception Day! Today’s the day that most insurance plans in the United States have to start covering birth control with no co-pays under the Affordable Care Act. As a woman who’s spent a fair amount of effort and money avoiding motherhood, I couldn’t be more pleased.  Birth control can be very expensive, and laws that help increase access are a great thing in my book.

But you don’t have to be a woman of a certain (reproductive) age to benefit from expanded access to contraception. Contraception is good for the women you care about, their families, their communities and the planet. And who could possibly be against that? (Well, plenty of people, but I’ll touch on that later.)

First up: Women. It’s not just the childless by choice who benefit from contraception. Birth control allows women to wait to have babies until they’re ready. When women can plan and appropriately space their pregnancies, they and their babies are healthier. According to the reproductive health gurus at the Guttmacher Institute, “Women whose pregnancies are planned are more likely to receive timely prenatal care. They are less likely to smoke or drink during pregnancy, and more likely to breast-feed once their baby is born.” That’s good stuff.

The typical American woman only wants two children. Contraception allows families to have the number of children they’re comfortable raising–and give those children the best possible shot at success. A child who’s received good health care and a great education is more likely to grow up to be a productive member of society. That helps entire nations succeed–and in our complex, interconnected global economy, we need as much success as we can get.

So how does contraception help the planet? In a number: 26.8 billion. That’s how many people the United Nations projects will be sharing Earth in 2100 if we don’t slow population growth rates. Keep in mind that we have about 7.1 billion people on the planet right now. Picture nearly four times as many people struggling to find (and afford) water, food, and energy on a planet where water, food and energy are already scarce in many areas. It’s a recipe for disaster, but it’s an entirely preventable disaster if we take action.

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