Richard Dawkins: Romney a ‘massively gullible fool’ for practicing Mormonism

From Raw Story:

By David Edwards
Monday, September 10, 2012

Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins on Sunday asked how anyone could vote for a “massively gullible fool” like Mitt Romney who could not see that Mormonism’s founder was a “fraud.”

“Romney’s prophet Joseph Smith a fraud,” Dawkins said in an hours-long Twitter rant, quoting from the Book of Mormon and adding, “Romney falls for it.”

“No matter how much you agree with Romney’s economic policy, can you really vote for such a massively gullible fool?” Dawkins  asked. “He is a Mormon BISHOP!”

“Bible & Koran genuinely old, written in the language of their time. Book of Mormon written by 19thC charlatan. Romney too stupid to see it,” he continued, snarking, “And it came to pass that the lot was cast for Mitt and Mitt did verily reign in the land and there was rejoicing in the corridors of Mammon.”

According to The Daily Beast’s Andrew Sullivan, Mormons differ from most Christians in that they see no conflict in serving God and mammon — or material wealth that many mainstream believers view as diminishing religion.

“Could you really vote for a man who thinks the Garden of Eden was in Missouri?” he asked again three hours after the tirade began.

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The importance of new data on anti-trans violence and suicidality

Jos over at Feministing has a good one…

From Feministing:

By Jos
Published: September 10, 2012

The people behind research studies usually only get mentioned in the feminist internets when the research was framed poorly in the press, or when the study asks a question that packs sexist assumptions.

Which is too bad, because there are some bomb researchers out there doing really vital work. I was reminded of this when Vanessa posted last week about a new study on the links between anti-trans violence and suicidality. I wrote about trans folks and suicide back in 2009, and this was the best I could do for a data citation at the time:

The number of trans folks who have attempted suicide ranges from about 30 percent to over 50 percent in studies. One study found that 83 percent of trans folks have considered suicide.

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STUDY: Anti-Transgender Violence Exacerbates Suicidal Thinking And Substance Abuse

From Think Progress:

By Zack Ford
on Sep 4, 2012

A new study of transgender people in Virginia has found that experiencing physical or sexual violence significantly contributes to individuals’ suicidal thinking and substance abuse. The study, conducted by the Center for LGBTQ Evidence-based Applied Research, found that over 70 percent of respondents had a history of suicidal ideation, with about 28 percent having reported a past suicidal attempt. (The National Transgender Discrimination Survey, which had a sample of over 6,000, found that as many as 41 percent of trans people had attempted suicide, whereas only 1.6 percent of the general population has ever done so.) The likelihood and frequency of those attempts significantly related to whether or not they had experienced physical or sexual violence:

Among trans people in our sample, both physical and sexual violence were related to having a history of suicidal ideation, history of suicide attempts, higher number of attempts, and to substance abuse. This is consistent with distress and negative coping responses seen in the general population as a result of physical and sexual violence. […]

Factors specific to trans victims of violence were identified, including high reported prevalence of violence related to gender identity or expression, varied sources of this violence, and low rate of reporting these incidents to police. As increased attention is devoted to the trans community in popular culture and research, psychologists have a clear opportunity to act by increasing understanding of the impact of violence on trans individuals’ mental health, and by responding with appropriate prevention and treatment efforts.

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Right Wing Republican and Dead Beat Dad Joe Walsh Tells Women’s Health Advocate To ‘Get A Job’

Hey Joe…   Stop being a douche nozzle and pay your child support…

From Think Progress:

By Annie-Rose Strasser
on Sep 10, 2012

Rep. Joe Walsh, the ornery Republican Congressman from Illinois, is known for trying to diminish his opponents’ their accomplishments. Earlier this year he said of Tammy Duckworth, the woman running against him for his Congressional seat, “Female, wounded veteran … ehhh.”

Walsh is now attacking women’s health advocate Sandra Fluke, joining a long list of Republicans in denigrating Fluke after her speech at the Democratic National Convention.. Over the weekend, Walsh complained that Fluke should “get a job” and stop talking about affordable contraception because “we’ve got parents in this country who are struggling”:

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Why (and for Whom) I Am Defensive

From Huffington Post:

Posted: 09/06/2012

Over the past several months I have been venturesome (or perhaps stupid?) enough to publicly share my interpretation and personal feelings from my front row seat as the parent of a child who has identified as transgender. (You can find them here on HuffPost… they may be helpful in grasping the back story.) I have been equally supported and vilified by readers far and wide. I have been told that I am an “incredible parent” only to be corrected by a different reader that I am actually a horrible parent and that G-d does not make mistakes, just I do. Compliments for my honesty and style of writing are usurped by bashing for “rambling” and being a “horrible writer.” I have been called “wonderful” and “self-centered” in the same thread written (sometimes viciously) from the comfort of computers around the world that I will neither find nor seek to find. And it all makes me wonder.

My child’s decision (yes, it was her decision) to socially transition from male to female is not one which my family and I approached lightly or with nonchalance. It was years in the making and included working closely with therapists, teachers and school administrators. Once she was finally able to “share her secret” with us, my husband and I did what came naturally and seemed right; we would support her in any way she needed. That is what parents are supposed to do. The look of indisputable relief on her face spoke volumes as to just how tortured she had been. Who am I to deny another living person the opportunity to seek out a situation that feels more tenable just because it is going to be hard on me, her father, brother and extended family? And to those who argue that I am being bamboozled by a 10-year-old, perhaps you can explain why said child would opt to “bully” me (yes, that has been suggested, too) into submission over something so socially and emotionally difficult? Believe me; there are plenty of other things that the average kid will choose to badger their parents over that are a hell of a lot easier for everyone involved. All that said, I avow to be equally supportive should she decide at any point that living as a girl is not the solution to her fundamental discomfort; it could happen and it won’t be easy, either.

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Just a girl, in the world

From Stock and Land Au:

09 Sep, 2012

For Riley’s parents, one of the first giveaways was the tea towel. At three years of age, Riley would shape it onto her head like a pair of pigtails and flick it from side to side. “She got into trouble with the person who ran her pre-school,” says Riley’s mother, Carol. “They said, ‘This boy has got to stop playing with the girls and getting the girls to dress him up and wear tea towels on his head.'”

Riley, 15, from Sydney’s north shore, is biologically male – but says being born a boy simply never made any sense. The high school student is one of an increasing number of teenagers who identify as transsexuals – those who feel they are trapped in the wrong body. Some are so sure that nature got it wrong that they are taking the bold step of “transitioning” – presenting themselves outwardly as the sex that they feel they are – during their teenage years or even earlier.

For Riley, 2012 has been a watershed year. After going to school with bras secreted under her school shirt and with minimal make-up, she started wearing the girls’ school uniform. She is also doing some schooling of her own, teaching the teachers in the correct use of transgender pronouns. “They were having a lot of trouble with calling me ‘she’, but they are getting better,” she says.

When I meet Riley at her suburban home on a Sunday morning, she’s dressed in jeans, knee-high boots, a cropped leather jacket and a T-shirt that boasts she’s an “Angel by Day, Devil by Night”. Her hair is styled perfectly, framing her prettily made-up face – as befitting for someone who is studying hairdressing part-time at TAFE along with her school subjects. We sit in the living room, where the table is scattered with photos of her as a young child. She seems to be constantly in fancy dress: vibrant-coloured outfits, make-up, glittery headbands. In one photo she’s dressed in a cowboy suit but still manages to look feminine.

“All my life I’ve never really been a boy, I’ve never liked boy things,” she says. “It was always Bratz dolls and Barbie dolls and everything.” Her current obsessions are roller derby, vintage fashion and rockabilly music.

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Without Planned Parenthood, What’s Left for Texas Women? Not Much.

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This is shaping up to be the most racially polarised US election ever

From The Guardian UK:

As their once core demographic diminishes, Republicans are going to any lengths to capture and keep the white vote, Sunday 9 September 2012

As Republicans were promoting themselves as a multiracial party from the platform in Tampa two weeks ago, an ugly incident on the convention floor suggested not everyone had got the memo. From the podium a range of speakers of Haitian, Mexican, Cuban and Indian descent spoke of how their parents had overcome huge barriers so they could succeed in the US. In the audience, a successful black woman who works for CNN was being pelted with peanuts by a convention-goer, who said: “This is how we feed the animals.”

The tension between the projection of a modern, inclusive, tolerant party and the reality of a sizeable racially intolerant element within its base pining for the restoration of white privilege is neither new nor accidental. Indeed, it in no small part explains the trajectory of the Republican party for almost the last half century. In his diary, Richard Nixon’s chief-of-staff, Bob Haldeman, described how his boss spelled out the racial contours of a new electoral game-plan to win southern and suburban whites over to the Republican party in the wake of the civil rights era. “You have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks,” Nixon told him. “The key is to devise a system that recognises that while not appearing to.”

This could be the final hurrah for what became known as Nixon’s southern strategy in what is shaping up to be the most racially polarised election ever. Black support for the Republican party literally cannot get any lower. A recent Wall Street Journal poll had 0% of African-Americans saying they intend to vote for Romney. At 32%, support among Latinos is higher but still remains pathetically low given what Republicans need to win (40%) and what they have had in the past – in 2004 George W Bush won 44%. As a result, the party of Lincoln is increasingly dependent on just one section of the electorate – white people. To win, Romney needs 61% of the white vote from a white turnout of 74%. That’s a lot. In 2008, John McCain got 55% from the same turnout. “This is the last time anyone will try to do this,” one Republican strategist told the National Journal. And Republican consultant Ana Navarro told the Los Angeles Times: “Where his numbers are right now, we should be pressing the panic button.”

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In Praise of Being Daring (And Wrong)

From In These Times:

Shulamith Firestone wrote at a time when feminists would risk the absurd for brilliant insights

BY Sady Doyle
September 5, 2012

Shulamith Firestone, who died last week at the age of 67, was the sort of woman who seems almost unimaginable to us today. She was a “political celibate,” a Marxist who applied her political theories to her intimate life on a profound level, a woman who argued, in her landmark work The Dialectic of Sex, for the implementation of “cybernetics” so as to relieve women of the burdens of pregnancy and childbearing, a woman who wanted not to end gender-based oppression but to end gender: “the end goal of feminist revolution must be… not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself.” And when she went, with her went part of the legacy of radically creative feminism.

Feminist writing nowadays seems mostly to stay at the level of “critique,” of protest. We have certain well-established truths—people should be able to get abortions; people should not rape or sexually harass each other; women should not have to model themselves on sexist male fantasies; ladies have complex inner lives and enjoy sex, just like men; a true feminism should be intersectional, in order to account for the experiences of all women—and we largely stick to them. They are good truths; I’m a fan of them all. They provide a very solid foundation. But, having established them, we often stay at the level of pointing out which people have recently failed to uphold them, and why they’re wrong.

Plunging into the intellectual climate of the ‘70s and ‘80s, if one is conditioned largely by contemporary feminism, is like entering an alternate reality. It feels like what would happen if your RSS feed were filmed by David Lynch. The theories were often wild, and wildly creative. Point me to a feminist working today who would propose a theory as perverse and inflammatory as Andrea Dworkin’s idea that penetrative intercourse was the model for all male domination. Or even Adrienne Rich’s theory that all women existed primarily on a “lesbian continuum” of relationship to women, and were thereafter policed into heterosexuality (or at least the appearance of heterosexuality) by men, as a means of controlling and constraining them. These weren’t critiques; they were constructions, fundamentally questioning and re-organizing the shape of culture itself.

The feminist theorists of the ‘70s and ‘80s were magpies, re-appropriating and mining psychoanalysis (Ellen Willis, Carol Gilligan, Dorothy Dinnerstein) or Marx (Firestone, Angela Davis, Kate Millett) or theology (Mary Daly) or anything else they could get their hands on, in the hopes of figuring out exactly how culture got to be so male-dominated and what they could do to fix it. They were unafraid to look crazy, destructive, out-there, or frankly just stoned out of their gourds, as in the case of feminist academics Karen Vogel and Vicki Noble, who record a feminist “click moment” wherein “Karen felt our room literally tilt, and Vicki proceeded to have a life changing vision of Goddess energy and transmission of ancient wisdom.”

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Promises Kept

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Neo-Nazi Tea party Propagandist: DNC full of communist activity

You don’t get a pass on being called a Nazi when you Red Bait.

From Raw Story:

By Eric W. Dolan
Sunday, September 9, 2012

Tea party activist and conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi believes the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte was a “remarkable demonstration” of “communist activity disguised as patriotism.”

In a video uploaded to YouTube on Saturday, he noted that the Democratic Party Platform of 2012 initially did not contain the word “God” nor did it claim that Jerusalem was the capital of Israel. Corsi also accused the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and former President Bill Clinton of being womanizers, and suggested that the Democratic Party promoted wanton promiscuity with free birth control.

“The next thing the Democratic Party is going to start proposing I guess is the communist plank to confiscate private property — private property itself is intrinsically evil,” he said. “Anyone watching that convention last week, the Democratic Party, has to come to the conclusion that we are at a crossroads.”

Corsi has written numerous books criticizing Obama, claiming he is a radical who is not eligible to be President of the United States because he is not a natural born citizen.

In his video, Corsi claimed Obama had “communist training” and described his speech at the convention as “pathetic” and “hollow.” He warned that if Obama won re-election, public schools would stop teaching children about the founding of the United States, due to the President’s “anti-colonial rage.”

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BULLIED: What Every Parent, Teacher and Kid Needs to Know about Ending the Cycle of Fear

From Alternet:

In her new book, Carrie Goldman explores the growing epidemic of bullying in America — and what communities can do to bring it to an end.

By Carrie Goldman
September 6, 2012

In November 2010, first grader Katie Goldman became an unlikely Internet heroine, and a new face for the bullied. Her mother, a popular blogger, wrote a post describing the teasing Katie had faced over her Star Wars thermos (an item, she was told, that was meant for boys). That was, as her mother now writes, “the post that launched a thousand geeks.” The Twitter hashtag #MayTheForceBeWithKatie was trending within days, comments flooded Goldman’s blog and Facebook page, and Katie’s story appeared throughout media internationally.

Suddenly finding herself a voice for the anti-bullying movement, Katie’s mother, Carrie Goldman set about investigating what has become an epidemic. Her new book, Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher and Kid Needs to Know about Ending the Cycle of Fear, is a smart, practical guide from a parent who’s seen the insidious effects of bullying firsthand, and a researcher who has consulted the top experts in the field. Most importantly, Goldman offers specific advice on how to help children respond to bullies.

In Bullied, Goldman recognizes the power of community, and part of her mission is to underscore the role that retailers, media members, and average citizens play in this story, with simple and powerful messages: Respect and empathy must be taught, people of all ages must take responsibilities for their online lives, and kindness can be enormously healing. In this excerpt from the book, Goldman explains what drives bullies to intimidate others, and explores how some schools are now intervening to stop the crisis in its tracks.

With practice, kids can measurably improve how they treat others.  Maria, a former child bully, was one such girl who worked hard at becoming a better friend.   She explained to me, “When I did bully someone, it was as a result of my temper, and it wasn’t because I always intended to hurt them.  I always felt bad afterwards and would get a lot of guilt.  I didn’t want to let my temper control my actions, so I made an effort at learning to control my temper.  As I grew older, I got better at it.  In the end, I guess it was not wanting to feel guilt that helped me to stop hurting others physically and psychologically.  I wasn’t an evil child, I just needed to learn.”

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Shell criticised for limited testing of Alaska drilling containment equipment

From The Guardian UK:

Greenpeace says oil company used ‘stock-car race’ recklessless in testing capping stack to prevent Gulf of Mexico-style blowout, Sunday 9 September 2012

Shell has been accused of “stock-car racing recklessness” after apparently undertaking only the most limited testing of a key piece of equipment aimed at preventing a Gulf of Mexico-style blowout during its controversial drilling in the Arctic.

Documents obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request suggest field-testing of a containment dome took place over two hours on 25 and 26 June. The dome, known as a “capping stack”, would be dropped over any stricken wellhead.

Two officials from the bureau of safety and environmental enforcement (BSSE) – an arm of the US interior department – were present with Shell officials at the tests in Puget Sound, Alaska, but there was no independent verification of the tests.

Shell reportedly started work yesterday on the $4.5bn (£2.8bn) drilling programme in the Chukchi Sea, 70 miles off Alaska’s north-west coast. It does not yet have permission to drill into oil reserves.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (Peer), a US group that helps federal and state employees raise the alarm on environmental protection issues, said it was shocked by the single page of notes from the government agency after it filed a federal lawsuit against the BSSE asking for all documents relating to the capping tests.

This “slim production” belied the agency’s [BSSE] claim in press statements that it had conducted comprehensive testing to meet “rigorous new standards”, added Peer. “The first test merely showed that Shell could dangle its cap in 200ft of water without dropping it,” said Kathryn Douglass, a Peer staff lawyer. “The second test showed the capping system could hold up under laboratory conditions for up to 15 minutes without crumbling. Neither result should give the American public much comfort.”

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Where Cows Are Happy and Food Is Healthy

When I was a kid I worked on a a small dairy farm.

There I learned how cows had different personalities and how they recognized the different people around them.

Some were sweet and friendly and there was one who though it was really funny to step on your foot while you were wiping down her udders.

Factory farming is sickening, treating animals as only pieces of meat instead of like animals that think and feel is barbaric.

From The New York Times:

Published: September 8, 2012

FOOD can be depressing. If it’s tasty, it’s carcinogenic. If it’s cheap, animals were tortured.

But this, miraculously, is a happy column about food! It’s about a farmer who names all his 230 milk cows, along with his 200 heifers and calves, and loves them like children.

Let me introduce Bob Bansen, a high school buddy of mine who is a third-generation dairyman raising Jersey cows on lovely green pastures here in Oregon beside the Yamhill River. Bob, 53, a lanky, self-deprecating man with an easy laugh, is an example of a farmer who has figured out how to make a good living running a farm that is efficient but also has soul.

As long as I’ve known him, Bob has had names for every one of his “girls,” as he calls his cows. Walk through the pasture with him, and he’ll introduce you to them.

“I spend every day with these girls,” Bob explained. “I know most of my cows both by the head and by the udder. You learn to recognize them from both directions.”

“This is Hosta,” he began, and then started pointing out the others nearby. “Jill. Sophia. This is Kimona. Edie would be the spotted one lying there. Pesto is the black one standing up. In front of her is Clare. Next to her is Pasta, who is Pesto’s daughter.”

I asked about Jill, and Bob rattled off her specs. She is now producing about eight gallons a day, with particularly high protein and butterfat content. Jill’s mother was Jolly, a favorite of Bob’s. When Jolly grew old and unproductive, he traded her to a small family farm in exchange for a ham so she could live out her retirement with dignity.

When I pushed for Bob’s secret to tell the cows apart, he explained: “They have family resemblances. They look like their mothers.”

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