Housing crisis: 14 million abandoned homes and growing

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Ontario alters gender-change rules

From Xtra Canada:  http://www.xtra.ca/public/National/Ontario_alters_genderchange_rules-12641.aspx

ONTARIO NEWS / Trans people no longer require full sex reassignment surgery to get new legal documents
Justin Ling
Tuesday, October 09, 2012
What was once impossible for transgender Ontarians is now attainable in six to eight weeks for a $37 fee.
And that’s good news, say activists.
The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal ruled in April that the Government of Ontario’s regulations on changing the designated gender on a birth certificate were discriminatory. It sent Queen’s Park back to the drawing board to come up with some new ideas.
Previously, transgender people had to undergo full sex reassignment surgery before being permitted to change their gender on birth certificates – the document that acts as a foundation for the information on all other government-issued identification. Many in the trans community thought this an unnecessary hurdle.
But now all that’s required in an application is a signed declaration and a note from a doctor or psychologist. The only caveat for changing a birth certificate is that the applicant must be 18 years of age.
The cost for editing the designated gender is $37, plus the $25 or $35 fee for ordering the new birth certificate – either short form or long form.
These changes – published to the Ontario Government Services website – came in right under the wire. The Human Rights Tribunal gave the government 180 days to edit its procedures, which meant a deadline of Oct 8. The changes went online Oct 5.
“The reaction has been positive,” says John Friesen, spokesperson to Harinder Takhar, minister of government services. “We were able to find a balance.”
He says that ministry people collected input from various stakeholder groups to try to strike a middle ground. He says the consultations were a channel for those groups to have a hand in crafting good policies.
“This is a fantastic decision,” says Susan Gapka, chair of the Trans Lobby Group, which was a part of the government consultations.
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Matthew Shepard December 1, 1976-October 12, 1998

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Gay Bashing by Churches Is Why a New Pew Poll Shows America Losing Its Religion

I would add the blatant woman hating and flat out misogyny is probably helping many women realize that they don’t need religion because there isn’t any god.

I mean if you want holidays like the end of the year shopping festival go for it but any real connection between “Christmas” and religion vanished long before they started calling the Friday after Thanksgiving “Black Friday.”

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wayne-besen/gay-bashing-by-churches-is-why-a-new-pew-poll-shows-america-losing-its-religion_b_1951650.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices


A new poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life reveals that a record number of Americans (19.3 percent) have abandoned faith and now consider themselves unaffiliated with any particular religion. According to USA Today:

This group, called “Nones,” is now the nation’s second-largest category only to Catholics, and outnumbers the top Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptists. The shift is a significant cultural, religious and even political change.

Today … the Nones have leapt from 15.3% of U.S. adults in 2007, according to Pew studies.

One in three (32%) are under age 30 and unlikely to age into claiming a religion, says Pew Forum senior researcher Greg Smith. The new study points out that today’s Millennials are more unaffiliated than any young generation ever has been when they were younger.

If you want to understand the reasons behind this trend, take a moment to read a disturbing letter that Twin Cities Catholic Archbishop John Nienstedt sent to the mother of a gay son. In it, the holy man told the mother that her “eternal salvation” might depend on whether or not she embraced the anti-gay teachings of the Catholic Church, thus rejecting her own child. Talk about family values!

Such a callous admonition might have worked in the past, when people had little education. It might have resonated in bygone eras, when gays and lesbians were invisible and easy to demonize as the “other.” It might have held sway had the Catholic Church’s credibility not been left in tatters after the church spent more than $2.5 billion to clean up the wreckage wrought by pedophile priests and their enablers.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wayne-besen/gay-bashing-by-churches-is-why-a-new-pew-poll-shows-america-losing-its-religion_b_1951650.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

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The Resident — Is America losing its religion?

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What Does the Church Think? Women’s Rights Framed as Religious Question In V.P. Debate

From RH Reality Check:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/10/12/6-minutes-in-heaven-womens-rights-get-brief-mention-via-religious-framing-in-vp-d

by Robin Marty
October 12, 2012

Two debates into a four debate format, we have now seen all four members of the opposing campaigns debate the issues most important to the American voters.  In that total 180 minutes of debate time, topics traditionally considered to be “women’s issues” have been discussed for exactly six minutes.

That’s 3.3 percent of the total discussion.

In less time than it takes to smoke a cigarette, in less time than the federal government mandates for bathroom breaks, in less time than it takes to listen to “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones, last night the Vice Presidential candidates paid lip-service to a woman’s right to choose not just whether to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, but even the right to prevent that pregnancy in the first place with easy access to affordable contraception. Her right to do so wasn’t presented as a given — even though legally and ethically both should be. Instead, it was couched as a question of morality under a religious framing, as if Catholicism, and not a woman’s personal autonomy, should be the deciding factor of a woman’s right to control her body.

“How does your faith shape your position on abortion?” should never be a question asked of political candidates. For one thing, a person’s faith shouldn’t be an issue that voters need to be wary of when it comes to choosing a candidate to support. What a person believe personally and what is legal, what is constitutional, and frankly, what is fair and just, is how a politician needs to promise to govern.

Complete article at:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/10/12/6-minutes-in-heaven-womens-rights-get-brief-mention-via-religious-framing-in-vp-d

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Obama: Romney Was Severely Kidding About Past Positions

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Todd Akin: No ‘Science’ Behind Evolution

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/election/2012/10/12/1003121/todd-akin-no-science-behind-evolution/

By Amanda Peterson Beadle
on Oct 12, 2012

Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) has had trouble with facts about reproduction. He said in August that women cannot get pregnant from “legitimate rape” because “the female body has ways to shut that whole thing down.” And in 2008, Akin claimed that it is “common practice” for women “who are not actually pregnant” to get abortions.

Now, the GOP Senate candidate who’s running against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) said Thursday at a Tea Party meeting in Jefferson City, Missouri, that there’s no science behind evolution:

AKIN: I don’t see it as even a matter of science because I don’t know that you can prove one or the other. That’s one of those things. We can talk about theology and all of those other things but I’m basically concerned about, you’ve got a choice between Claire McCaskill and myself. My job is to make the thing there. If we want to do theoretical stuff, we can do that, but I think I better stay on topic.

Complete article at:  http://thinkprogress.org/election/2012/10/12/1003121/todd-akin-no-science-behind-evolution/

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Triumph of the Wrong?

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/12/opinion/krugman-triumph-of-the-wrong.html

Published: October 11, 2012

In these closing weeks of the campaign, each side wants you to believe that it has the right ideas to fix a still-ailing economy. So here’s what you need to know: If you look at the track record, the Obama administration has been wrong about some things, mainly because it was too optimistic about the prospects for a quick recovery. But Republicans have been wrong about everything.

About that misplaced optimism: In a now-notorious January 2009 forecast, economists working for the incoming administration predicted that by now most of the effects of the 2008 financial crisis would be behind us, and the unemployment rate would be below 6 percent. Obviously, that didn’t happen.

Why did the administration get it wrong? It wasn’t exaggerated faith in the power of its stimulus plan; the report predicted a fairly rapid recovery even without stimulus. Instead, President Obama’s people failed to appreciate something that is now common wisdom among economic analysts: severe financial crises inflict sustained economic damage, and it takes a long time to recover.

This same observation, of course, offers a partial excuse for the economy’s lingering weakness. And the question we should ask given this unpleasant reality is what policies would offer the best prospects for healing the damage. Mr. Obama’s camp argues for an active government role; his last major economic proposal, the American Jobs Act, would have tried to accelerate recovery by sustaining public spending and putting money in the hands of people likely to use it. Republicans, on the other hand, insist that the path to prosperity involves sharp cuts in government spending.

And Republicans are dead wrong.

The latest devastating demonstration of that wrongness comes from the International Monetary Fund, which has just released its World Economic Outlook, a report combining short-term prediction with insightful economic analysis. This report is a grim and disturbing document, telling us that the world economy is doing significantly worse than expected, with rising risks of global recession. But the report isn’t just downbeat; it contains a careful analysis of the reasons things are going so badly. And what this analysis concludes is that a disproportionate share of the bad news is coming from countries pursuing the kind of austerity policies Republicans want to impose on America.

Continue reading at:   http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/12/opinion/krugman-triumph-of-the-wrong.html

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Now Ireland is Nationalizing the Banks

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Should Obama Call Romney a Liar?

From Mother Jones:  http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2012/10/quote-day-should-obama-call-romney-liar

By Tue Oct. 9, 2012

From Paul Ryan, talking about the Democratic presidential campaign with a Michigan radio host:

It seems pretty clear that their new strategy is basically just call us liars.

Well….yeah, I guess so, and that would be a pretty sleazy thing to do if Romney and Ryan were being honest and above board about their plans. But they aren’t. William Gale of the Tax Policy Center is the co-author of a report showing that Romney’s tax plan is mathematically impossible, and that’s made him the target of endless attacks from the Romney campaign. Here he explains in plain English just what his study concluded:

Suppose Governor Romney said that he wants to drive a car from Boston to Los Angeles in 15 hours. And suppose some analysts employed tools of arithmetic to conclude that “If Governor Romney wants to drive from Boston to LA in 15 hours, it is mathematically impossible to avoid speeding.” After all, the drive from LA to Boston is about 3,000 miles, so to take only 15 hours would require an average of 200 miles per hour. Certainly other road trips are possible — but the particular one proposed here is not.

The Obama campaign might put ads out that say Romney wants to speed or is going to speed. Romney’s campaign might respond by saying the study is a “joke” and “partisan,” that he supports speeding laws and would never, ever speed, and it is ridiculous to suggest that he would. The Romney campaign and its surrogates might say that the analysts must be wrong because they don’t even know what his road plan is or which car he would drive. Besides, Romney never really said he wanted to go LA, he might want to go somewhere closer; he could get to LA without speeding if he took more than 15 hours; he could get somewhere else in 15 hours without speeding. And so on.

Continue reading at:  http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2012/10/quote-day-should-obama-call-romney-liar

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The Enemy of My Enemy Is My President

From Truth Dig:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_enemy_of_my_enemey_is_my_president_20121011/

By Robert Scheer
Posted on Oct 11, 2012

Maybe I have been too harsh in judging Barack Obama’s economic performance. Instead of following George W. Bush’s lead in bailing out the bankers first, I wanted Obama to do more for beleaguered homeowners and less for the Wall Street swindlers who trafficked in toxic mortgages. But the president must have done something right, or the hucksters at Goldman Sachs wouldn’t hate him so.

Ever since Bill Clinton appointed Goldman honcho Robert Rubin to be his Treasury secretary, the firm has been the top corporate supporter of the Democrats, according to the authoritative Center for Responsive Politics. And the investment paid off big time when Clinton followed Rubin’s lead and teamed up with congressional Republicans to reverse the sensible restraints on Wall Street that had kept the economy sound for six decades. Thanks to that decision, Goldman, a high-rolling investment house, was allowed to suddenly become a commercial bank and avail itself of the cheap money provided by the Federal Reserve to bail out troubled banks.

The financiers thought the fix was in once again when Obama turned to Rubin protégé Lawrence Summers as his key economic adviser in the 2008 campaign. Summers had replaced Rubin as Clinton’s Treasury secretary and had been even more vigorous in destroying the regulations that had maintained a stable financial system for 60 years. Wall Street turned against the GOP and its candidate John McCain, much preferring Obama. It should burnish the president’s reputation in the eyes of ordinary voters that those merchants of greed now feel so betrayed.

As The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday: “When Barack Obama ran for president in 2008, no major U.S. corporation did more to finance his campaign than Goldman Sachs Group Inc. This election, none has done more to defeat him.”

The high rollers at Goldman have given $900,000 to the super PACs supporting Mitt Romney but not a nickel to the main one backing Obama. Direct contributions to the GOP candidate are almost seven times higher than to his Democratic rival.

Wall Street’s disenchantment with the president is not restricted to the “fat cat bankers” at Goldman who became particularly incensed when Obama once labeled them as such. It extends throughout the financial elite who had come to feel a comfortable sense of ownership of both political parties. Employees at the top five banks—JPMorgan Chase; Citigroup, where Rubin went to work after leaving the Clinton White House; Bank of America; Morgan Stanley; and Goldman—donated $3.5 million to Obama in 2008, but this year cut that to $650,000. This time it was Romney who was showered with $3.3 million in contributions.

Continue reading:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_enemy_of_my_enemey_is_my_president_20121011/

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Obama’s Source of Light

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The Vice Presidential Debate: Joe Biden Was Right to Laugh

From Rolling Stone:  http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/the-vice-presidential-debate-joe-biden-was-right-to-laugh-20121012

Matt Taibbi
October 12, 2012

I’ve never thought much of Joe Biden. But man, did he get it right in last night’s debate, and not just because he walloped sniveling little Paul Ryan on the facts. What he got absolutely right, despite what you might read this morning (many outlets are criticizing Biden’s dramatic excesses), was his tone. Biden did absolutely roll his eyes, snort, laugh derisively and throw his hands up in the air whenever Ryan trotted out his little beady-eyed BS-isms.

But he should have! He was absolutely right to be doing it. We all should be doing it. That includes all of us in the media, and not just paid obnoxious-opinion-merchants like me, but so-called “objective” news reporters as well. We should all be rolling our eyes, and scoffing and saying, “Come back when you’re serious.”

The load of balls that both Romney and Ryan have been pushing out there for this whole election season is simply not intellectually serious. Most of their platform isn’t even a real platform, it’s a fourth-rate parlor trick designed to paper over the real agenda – cutting taxes even more for super-rich dickheads like Mitt Romney, and getting everyone else to pay the bill.

The essence of the whole campaign for me was crystalized in the debate exchange over Romney’s 20 percent tax-cut plan. ABC’s Martha Raddatz turned the questioning to Ryan:

MS. RADDATZ: Well, let’s talk about this 20 percent.

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: Well – (chuckles) –

MS. RADDATZ: You have refused yet again to offer specifics on how you pay for that 20 percent across-the-board tax cut. Do you actually have the specifics, or are you still working on it, and that’s why you won’t tell voters?

Here Ryan is presented with a simple yes-or-no answer. Since he doesn’t have the answer, he immediately starts slithering and equivocating:

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Biden lifts Democrat hopes with forceful VP debate performance

From The Guardian UK:   http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/12/joe-biden-vice-presidential-debate

Biden gives strong performance against Paul Ryan, repairing some of the uncertainty after Obama’s poor showing last week

in Danville
guardian.co.uk, Friday 12 October 2012

Joe Biden dominated the vice-presidential debate against opponent Paul Ryan on Thursday night with an aggressive and confident performance that gave heart to the Democratic base but risked alienating undecided voters.

Biden’s combative approach in Danville, Kentucky, went some way towards undoing the damage done by Barack Obama’s listless performance last week, scoring point after point against Ryan in a 90-minute debate dominated by foreign issues such as Iran, Afghanistan and Syria and domestic issues including tax and the deficit.

But his demeanour may have proved divisive as he repeatedly dismissed Ryan, talked over him, interrupted, laughed and at one point sighed, “Oh God”.

Although the night on balance belonged to Biden, the disparity between him and Ryan was not as pronounced as that last week between an aggressive Romney and a passive Obama.

Much of the debate was on foreign policy, playing into Biden’s strength as a former chairman of the Senate foreign affairs committee. He was animated in making his points in a way that Obama failed to do and the laughter may have been deliberate, to try to belittle Ryan.

On Iran and Syria, Biden tried to portray Ryan as leaning towards taking the US into another conflict, one that war-weary Americans did not want. “Facts matter,” he said, lecturing Ryan on the details of Iran’s nuclear programme, saying it was not yet close to achieving a weapons capability.

On domestic policy, Biden pushed Ryan on plans to cut the tax bills of the wealthy, saying they did not need it, and also questioned how Ryan could get the deficit down. Biden said no one in history managed to do this.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/oct/12/joe-biden-vice-presidential-debate

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