The Last Word With Lawrence ODonnell Paul Ryan denounces Ayn Rand Rewrite

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What the Affordable Care Act Means for Transgender People

From The Nation:

August 14, 2012  

For the first fifty years of his life, New Yorker Jay Kallio had no problem getting the health care he needed. A volunteer EMT since age 15, he knew the medical community inside and out. When he came out as transgender and transitioned at age 50, though, his experience with doctors and nurses changed wildly—and almost cost him his life.

“I have this very stark before and after experience,” says Kallio. “It’s totally different being a transgender person trying to access care.”

At age 53, Kallio found a lump in his chest. After a biopsy, his doctor diagnosed him with aggressive, necrotic breast cancer. But no one contacted Kallio to tell him this diagnosis. Kallio found out “virtually by accident,” when his radiologist called to ask him how he was coping. “I said ‘What diagnosis?’”

Stunned, the radiologist scheduled Kallio for a mastectomy consultation—but the surgeon delayed his appointment for weeks. When he informed the cancer center that he would be seeking care elsewhere, his surgeon told him he had a “real problem” with Kallio’s “transgender status.”  “When you’re removing a cancer that is so aggressive it would kill me, you want that done right,” said Kallio, “not by somebody who thinks you’re a freak or your life isn’t worthwhile.” (Kallio later learned that the surgeon was a major donor to anti-gay political candidates.)

Kallio found another surgeon for a successful mastectomy, but faced hostility from his oncologists once they found out he was transgender. He again found treatment elsewhere, but the delays compromised his care and demoralized him. To make matters worse, he was turned away from several breast cancer support groups because of his transgender identity. “It made going through chemo a very isolating, lonely experience,” he says.

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Pussy Riot Rallies: Supporters Of Punk Band Mobilize Before Russian Court Ruling

From Huffington Post:


MOSCOW — The global campaign to free Pussy Riot is gaining speed: Supporters of the punk provocateur band are mobilizing this week in at least two dozen cities worldwide to hold simultaneous demonstrations an hour before a Russian court rules on whether its members will be sent to prison.

Friday’s rallies will ride a wave of support for the three women who have been in jail for more than five months because of an anti-Putin prank in Moscow’s main cathedral. Calls for them to be freed have come from a long list of celebrities such as Madonna and Bjork. Protests have been held in a number of Western capitals, including Berlin, where last week about 400 people joined Canadian electro-pop performance artist Peaches to support the band.

In one of the most extravagant displays, Reykjavik Mayor Jon Gnarr rode through the streets of the Icelandic capital in a Gay Pride parade this weekend dressed like a band member – wearing a bright pink dress and matching balaclava – while lip-synching to one of Pussy Riot’s songs.

Although the band members and their lawyers are convinced that the verdict depends entirely on the will of President Vladimir Putin, and prosecutors have asked for a three-year sentence, activists hope their pressure will ease punishment or even free the women.

Putin has said the women should not be judged too harshly, but he risks appearing weak if they walk free.

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Child-free and Happy

From the Huffington Post:

Michelangelo Signorile

I do not want kids. I never wanted kids. Even as a kid.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m really happy for my gay and lesbian friends who’ve always wanted kids and who now have them. I like children; often find them fascinating, cute, and cuddly; and have nieces and nephews I adore. I just wouldn’t want to spend a lot of my time raising them, and though each of us could master things we might think we couldn’t, I don’t think I’m particularly well-suited to it. Why do something just because you might be able to do it?

There have always been blessings and curses to being queer in America. As far as I’m concerned, one of the blessings is that having kids is not only not expected but, for gay men especially, difficult to do. As a result, you can focus much of your life on work you love, and on other creative, intellectual, and political endeavors, and not get caught up in these “having it all” debates. When I first came to realize I was gay in my early teens, one of the things that went through my mind, amid the self-loathing and the fear, was, “Whew! I do not have to have kids.”

I know there are many straight people like me, and, sadly, a lot of them have kids anyway. They’re loath to admit that they didn’t want to have kids, except when you’re sitting around with them late at night, having a few drinks. Their kids don’t necessarily turn out bad; some turn out to be highly successful and productive people. But what of the parents and their lives? Even as they now love their children and speak of “rewarding” aspects, they really didn’t want to spend their lives raising children — they’ve told me so — but they did it just because they felt that they had to do it. It was what was expected.

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Liberty Law School and Others Hit With RICO Lawsuit Over Lisa Miller Kidnapping

From Right Wing Watch:

by Kyle Mantyla
Wed, 08/15/2012

Yesterday Kenneth Miller was convicted of aiding an international parental kidnapping for the role he played in helping Lisa Miller (no relation) flee the country with her daughter rather than abide by a court order transferring custody to her former partner, Janet Jenkins.

But that was not the only interesting development in the case, as Jenkins has now filed a civil RICO lawsuit [PDF] against Kenneth Miller and several others who allegedly played a role in helping Lisa Miller kidnap her daughter and leave the country, including Liberty University Law School and Thomas Road Baptist Church:

 41. Unbeknownst to Plaintiff Janet Jenkins, in 2009 Victoria Zodhiates (now Hyden) was an employee of Response Unlimited, Inc., and also a “student worker” at Liberty University School of Law. On information and belief, Victoria Zodhiates sent an email during this time period to her co-workers at the law school requesting donations for supplies to send to Lisa Miller to enable her to remain outside the country. Lisa Miller’s attorney, Matthew Staver was the Dean of the Law School and Ms. Zodhiates’s boss. Matthew Staver and Philip Zodhiates were also personal
acquaintances at this time. On September 20, 2009, both Philip Zodhiates and Victoria Hyden called Lisa Miller’s father, Terry Miller in Tennessee to assist in arranging her and Isabella’s transportation from a Walmart parking lot in Lynchburg, Virginia, to Waynesboro, Virginia, from whence they would depart for Canada and Nicaragua the next day.

42. In early November, 2009, elders of the Thomas Road Baptist Church packed up the personal belongings of Lisa Miller in two bags. These bags were picked up from Lynchburg, Virginia by Philip Zodhiates who arranged to have the bags transported to Nicaragua by sending them with his son’s school teacher who was taking some children on a mission trip to Managua. Philip Zodhiates arranged for the teacher, John Collmus, to deliver the bags at the airport to Timothy Miller. The bags also contained some supplies for Lisa Miller, such as peanut butter.

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Woman In Jail Because Authorities Thought She Was Illegal

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Paul Ryan: Cruel, not courageous

From The Washington Post:

August 14, 2012

A word of advice: If you’re announcing the most radical and reactionary Republican ticket in half a century, don’t do it on a ship named for the birthplace of progressivism, to Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man.”

But that is precisely the kind of audacity congressman-turned-vice presidential-nominee Paul Ryan brings to the flailing Romney campaign. Courage! Vision! And that hair! (Within minutes of the announcement, @VPRyansCowlick boasted dozens of follicle-fixated followers.)

Ryan is the rare Washington pseudo-wonk described by serious people of both parties in the adulatory terms typically reserved for battlefield heroics. “Courageous.” “Politically gutsy.” Author of “the most comprehensive and most courageous budget reform proposal” — wait for it — “in our lifetimes.” He is Jimmy Stewart, if Mr. Smith had spent less time establishing a boys’ camp and more time pretending to pay down the debt, one food stamp at a time.

Therein lies the rub. Ryan’s budget isn’t courageous — it’s just cruel. Three-fifths of the cuts he wants would hit those with low incomes, while those who have the most would continue getting more. It’s no wonder the former altar boy has had his knuckles rapped by a group of nuns for peddling a budget that “rejects church teaching about solidarity, inequality, the choice for the poor, and the common good.”

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Facial recognition becomes scary reality

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On 77th Birthday, Social Security Under Attack

From Common Dreams:

by Bernie Sanders
Published on Wednesday, August 15, 2012 by Common Dreams

We are now in the midst of the fiercest and best-financed attack against Social Security in our lifetimes.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are now being spent to destroy Social Security and endanger the well-being of millions of Americans. We must not allow that effort to succeed.

In the years since President Franklin Roosevelt signed Social Security into law on August 14, 1935, the retirement program has been one of the nation’s most successful anti-poverty programs. Before Social Security existed, about half of America’s senior citizens lived in poverty. Today, less than 10 percent live in poverty. Since its inception some 77 years ago, through good economic times and bad, Social Security has paid out every penny owed to every eligible beneficiary. This is a remarkable success story.

Despite right-wing misinformation, the program that benefits 55 million seniors, disabled Americans, widows, widowers and orphans has a $2.7 trillion surplus. Social Security, which is funded by the payroll tax, has not contributed one nickel to the deficit and, according to its trustees, can pay 100 percent of all benefits owed to every eligible American for the next 21 years.

Despite Social Security’s overwhelming success, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has been a proponent of privatizing the retirement program by putting seniors’ savings into risky Wall Street investments. Even before tapping Ryan as his running mate, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had said he wants to begin the process of privatizing Social Security. He also would gradually increase the retirement age to 68 or 69. And he favors slowing the growth of benefits for persons with “higher incomes.” Under a plan floated by Romney’s allies on Capitol Hill – Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) – someone making about $45,000 a year today who retires in 2050 would receive 32 percent less in annual Social Security benefits than under the current formula. By that definition, the top 60 percent of all wage earners would be considered “higher income.”

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The new totalitarianism of surveillance technology

From The Guardian UK:

If you think that 24/7 tracking of citizens by biometric recognition systems is paranoid fantasy, just read the industry newsletters, Wednesday 15 August 2012

A software engineer in my Facebook community wrote recently about his outrage that when he visited Disneyland, and went on a ride, the theme park offered him the photo of himself and his girlfriend to buy – with his credit card information already linked to it. He noted that he had never entered his name or information into anything at the theme park, or indicated that he wanted a photo, or alerted the humans at the ride to who he and his girlfriend were – so, he said, based on his professional experience, the system had to be using facial recognition technology. He had never signed an agreement allowing them to do so, and he declared that this use was illegal. He also claimed that Disney had recently shared data from facial-recognition technology with the United States military.

Yes, I know: it sounds like a paranoid rant.

Except that it turned out to be true. News21, supported by the Carnegie and Knight foundations, reports that Disney sites are indeed controlled by face-recognition technology, that the military is interested in the technology, and that the face-recognition contractor, Identix, has contracts with the US government – for technology that identifies individuals in a crowd.

Fast forward: after the Occupy crackdowns, I noted that odd-looking CCTVs had started to appear, attached to lampposts, in public venues in Manhattan where the small but unbowed remnants of Occupy congregated: there was one in Union Square, right in front of their encampment. I reported here on my experience of witnessing a white van marked “Indiana Energy” that was lifting workers up to the lampposts all around Union Square, and installing a type of camera. When I asked the workers what was happening – and why an Indiana company was dealing with New York City civic infrastructure, which would certainly raise questions – I was told: “I’m a contractor. Talk to ConEd.”

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