From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/23/us/russell-means-american-indian-activist-dies-at-72.html
By ROBERT D. McFADDEN
Published: October 22, 2012
Russell C. Means, the charismatic Oglala Sioux who helped revive the warrior image of the American Indian in the 1970s with guerrilla-tactic protests that called attention to the nation’s history of injustices against its indigenous peoples, died on Monday at his ranch in Porcupine, S.D., on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. He was 72.
The cause was esophageal cancer, which had spread recently to his tongue, lymph nodes and lungs, said Glenn Morris, Mr. Means’s legal representative. Told in the summer of 2011 that the cancer was inoperable, Mr. Means had already resolved to shun mainstream medical treatments in favor of herbal and other native remedies.
Strapping, ruggedly handsome in buckskins, with a scarred face, piercing dark eyes and raven braids that dangled to the waist, Mr. Means was, by his own account, a magnet for trouble — addicted to drugs and alcohol in his early years, and later arrested repeatedly in violent clashes with rivals and the law. He was tried for abetting a murder, shot several times, stabbed once and imprisoned for a year for rioting.
He styled himself a throwback to ancestors who resisted the westward expansion of the American frontier. With theatrical protests that brought national attention to poverty and discrimination suffered by his people, he became arguably the nation’s best-known Indian since Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse.
But critics, including many Native Americans, called him a tireless self-promoter who capitalized on his angry-rebel notoriety by running quixotic races for the presidency and the governorship of New Mexico, by acting in dozens of movies — notably in the title role of “The Last of the Mohicans” (1992) — and by writing and recording music commercially with Indian warrior and heritage themes.
He rose to national attention as a leader of the American Indian Movement in 1970 by directing a band of Indian protesters who seized the Mayflower II ship replica at Plymouth, Mass., on Thanksgiving Day. The boisterous confrontation between Indians and costumed “Pilgrims” attracted network television coverage and made Mr. Means an overnight hero to dissident Indians and sympathetic whites.
From Slate: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/doublex/features/2012/free_to_be_you_and_me_40th_anniversary_how_did_a_kids_album_about_gender/free_to_be_you_and_me_40th_anniversary_how_did_a_kids_album_by_a_bunch_of.html
By Dan Kois
Posted Monday, Oct. 22, 2012
Free to be … who? All the musicians, artists, feminists, and other figures mentioned in this series.
“Why are your toes painted like that?”
The question came from the neighbors’ kid Cam, a fourth grader friendly with my children, as a group of us parents sat in his living room drinking wine one afternoon in June. He was sprawled on the couch, sweaty and red-faced from wrestling with his little brother, and he’d noticed that each of my toes sported a different bright color of nail polish.
“I painted them!” my younger daughter exclaimed.
“It’s true, she did,” I said. “Harper really likes painting nails, so I let her do mine.”
I’ve modeled Harper’s salon skills for the past few summers. I like that she takes the task so seriously, choosing colors from a Ziploc bag of polish we keep on a high shelf in the bathroom and applying them carefully to my big, gross toenails.
“But …” Cam began, pausing to consider what his question really was. He seemed torn between viewing me as an object of pity and a key to unlocking life’s mysteries. “But don’t your friends make fun of you?”
“Oh,” I said, putting on a casual air, even though the conversation seemed unexpectedly important all of a sudden. “No, not really. When you get older, you have a different relationship with your friends than you do when you’re a kid.” Now I paused to consider. “Or maybe when you’re a grown-up, you just choose friends who understand the things you do.”
Continue reading at: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/doublex/features/2012/free_to_be_you_and_me_40th_anniversary_how_did_a_kids_album_about_gender/free_to_be_you_and_me_40th_anniversary_how_did_a_kids_album_by_a_bunch_of.html
From Waging Non-Violence: http://wagingnonviolence.org/2012/10/stories-from-an-insurrectionary-childhood/
by Frida Berrigan
October 19, 2012
Seamus Philip celebrated his three month birthday on Thursday. It was just like every other day — nursing and pooping, laughing and cooing, chewing on his hands and slobbering. He giggles and smiles and looks deep into your eyes now. He can hold his head up and has mounted an aggressive conditioning regime with the goal of turning over and crawling ASAP. Watching him, loving him, caring for him, living with his constant changes — all of this provides daily opportunities for me to reflect on my own early years and upbringing.
I wonder how his dad and I will impart our values and core beliefs, I wonder what kind of man he will grown up to be; I wonder what stories he will tell his friends and his children about his childhood. I already know they won’t be the same stories I tell.
I was born into and brought up at Jonah House — a nonviolent resistance community grounded in its founders’ Catholic faith and built for the express purpose of nurturing and sustaining resistance. It was formed in the early 1970s, when the war in Vietnam was effectively off the front pages and effectively over in the minds of most people as a result of Nixon’s Vietnamization of the war. The anti-war movement had been killed off, bought off, turned off or sent off to jail.
My parents — Elizabeth McAlister and Philip Berrigan — and their friends looked around. They saw the continuation of war in Southeast Asia, thousands of nuclear weapons and new wars on the horizon, and they wondered who was preparing the next anti-war movement as the war planners at the Pentagon prepared for the next war. They concluded that it was them.
They concluded that the anti-war movement that confronted the war in Southeast Asia had tended to be episodic, reactive and too intense to sustain a long-term commitment from most individuals. People tuned in, turned on and burnt out — in a tightly orchestrated cycle that went way too fast to build the kind of opposition that lasted. Then they looked at the Catholic Worker, which has been plodding along — sometimes huge and vibrant, sometimes small and on the margins, but comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable since the 1930s. Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin had created a place where it was “easier for people to be good,” where laypeople could practice the works of mercy, serving the poor while resisting the forces of war, racism and capitalism that create poverty. How had they kept going? The answer: community. Shared purpose, shared prayer, shared study, shared work.
Continue reading at: http://wagingnonviolence.org/2012/10/stories-from-an-insurrectionary-childhood/
Rep. Barney Frank
From the standpoint of legal equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, the upcoming elections will be the most important in our history. In decades, there has not been a sharper distinction between the two parties on any issue than there is today on LGBT legal equality. President Obama, the Democratic platform and the overwhelming majority of Democrats in Congress support abolishing the restriction on federal recognition of same-sex marriages in states that recognize them and support an employment nondiscrimination act that is fully transgender-inclusive. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, the Republican platform and more than 90 percent of congressional Republicans strongly oppose them.
I have been asked by many people why I inject partisanship into the effort to advance our rights. The answer is statistically very clear: It is not those of us who support LGBT equality who have made this a partisan issue; it is the modern Republican Party in its current extremely conservative mode that has done so. If you take Mitt Romney, Speaker John Boehner and Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell at their word, no legislation advancing our rights has any chance of passage if these men control any of the three branches of the federal government. And if Mitt Romney is president, and especially if he has a compliant Republican majority in the Senate, we can expect Supreme Court vacancies to be filled with more Antonin Scalias. Romney’s decision to make Robert Bork one of his primary advisors on judicial issues guarantees this; Bork is the only person I can think of who has held federal judicial office who outdoes Scalia in his venom against us.
Given that, if you care strongly about LGBT issues, the case for voting Democratic is very clear. I recognize that there are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who put LGBT rights behind other issues in deciding how to vote. Some wealthy gay men and women who live in states where there are many protections apparently feel that their lives are already well-protected against prejudice and that it is more important to pass new tax cuts for the rich, block action on climate change or oppose reductions in military spending. But the facts are clear: There is simply no logical basis whatsoever for arguing that voting for Republicans this year is a good way to advance LGBT legal equality.
Yet the Log Cabin Republicans argue exactly that. Given the stakes for our rights in this election, it is important to examine their rationale.
21 Oct 2012
America’s billionaires are up in arms! Sure, they’ve made out like bandits, while tens of millions of Americans are still suffering – out of work, in bankruptcy, or owing more on their mortgages than their houses are worth. Along with the rest of the 1 per cent, they’ve captured 93 per cent of income gains in the US in the first year of lopsided economic recovery. But that’s not the point! The point is: They’re the most oppressed people in the history of the world! What’s happening to them in America today is reminiscent of Nazi Germany under Hitler!
Believe it or not, that’s the message coming from a veritable parade of self-portrayed victims at the pinnacle of the 1 per cent of the 1 per cent, who are very angry at President Obama supposedly saying mean things about them. These men are so spectacularly wealthy that it’s literally impossible to understand them in the context of other people’s economic lives, to make sense of what they’re saying. They’re like elephants in the midst of a leper colony, complaining about a gnat bite in a dream they just remembered.
They’ve also been treated so well by Obama that it’s likewise impossible to grasp. He could have gone after them immediately after taking office, breaking up the big banks and pursuing criminal charges against those responsible for destroying the economy based on multiple interlocking forms of fraud. Obama did none of that. There’s simply no understanding their hatred of him in purely objective terms.
But their self-pitying portrayal as victims is another thing altogether. It’s not just commonplace, it’s virtually mandatory among the ranks of American conservatives today – particularly when there’s little or no basis in fact. Indeed, it’s sometimes even quantifiable, as I explained in a column occasioned by Herman Cain’s slow, self-pitying exit from the presidential race.
Increasing taxes slightly
For example, there’s a widespread belief in certain evangelical Christian circles that 146,000 Christians a year are martyred worldwide, when the real figure is almost certainly less than five a year (possibly even zero) – which would yield what I dubbed a “conservative victimology ratio” of 28,600 to one. Likewise, voter fraud cases are similarly scarce, but conservatives imagine they number into the millions – and voter suppression in various forms actually does keep millions from voting. Using a variety of different approaches and examples, I came up with victimology ratios ranging from 30.4 million to one down to 22,010 to one.
Continue reading at: http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/10/20121016134832922797.html
By Michelle Chen
Sunday, Oct 21, 2012
A young girl in a green tank top lies on the examination table in a stark exam room in a Houston clinic. Her pink toenails dangle belowthe sterile covering draped over her thighs. The doctor inserts a probe between her legs and the two watch a grainy blob blossom on a sonogram screen suspended below the room’s industrial fluorescent lights. He gives a state-mandated description of the fetus: almost exactly seven weeks, he says, “nice and early.” She is well within the time frame for an abortion pill, rather than surgery.
The doctor, an avuncular, silver-haired man who’s been providing abortions, in the words of one colleague, “pretty much since Roe v. Wade,” turns the screen toward her and traces the outline of her uterus and the embryo, while the girl looks on blankly. He plays the heartbeat, which rises from the machine in a loud, shrill electronic pulse. The ritual, which is repeated several times a day at this Planned Parenthood in Houston and in clinics across the state, is mandated by a new Texas law designed to intensify the experience of abortion — to impress upon a woman, with images and sounds, the sense that she’s about to terminate a living thing.
Ultrasounds are a routine procedure at Planned Parenthood and many other clinics, a tool doctors use to gauge gestational stage — which can affect which procedure to use — or to detect complications. Some abortion patients prefer to see the sonogram, others are indifferent, others are traumatized by the very idea. But the new law makes displaying the ultrasound mandatory. Under Texas law, even if a woman averts her eyes, the doctor must give a verbal description of the fetus anyway. And it’s just the latest addition to a bureaucratic juggernaut of regulations that restrict how abortion providers practice in Texas.
In recent years, lawmakers across the country have enacted a dizzying array of arcane rules dictating everything from the dimensions of their buildings to the advice they must offer to patients about “abortion alternatives.” Thirty-five states, including Texas, have enacted pre-abortion counseling laws, which in many cases force women to make extra clinic visits. Legislatures in 10 states have introduced new measures for pre-abortion counseling and waiting periods in 2012. In addition, 18 states have introduced bills for ultrasound requirements this year, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive rights research institute.
Todd Akin put his foot in his mouth again with comments about his opponent, while Mayor Michael Bloomberg attacked Elizabeth Warren.
By Alex Kane
October 22, 2012
Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin can’t stop putting his foot in his mouth.
During an October 20 fundraising event with Fox News star and evangelical Christian Mike Huckabee, Akin compared Claire McCaskill to a “dog.” McCaskill is Akin’s Democratic opponent for the Senate seat.
“She goes to Washington, D.C., it’s a little bit like one of those dogs, ‘fetch,’” said Akin, according to the website PoliticMO.com . “She goes to Washington, D.C., and get all of these taxes and red tape and bureaucracy and executive orders and agencies and brings all of this stuff and dumps it on us in Missouri.”
The comments are only the latest controversial remarks from Akin. He became a household name in August when he claimed on television that “legitimate rape” victims rarely get pregnant because “ the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Akin also said last month that McCaskill’s debate performance against him was not as “ladylike” as she was in 2006.
Akin is trailing McCaskill narrowly in the polls.
Meanwhile, another male, conservative politician has hammered away inaccurately at a female candidate. In a New York Times interview, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg threw his weight behind Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts, who is running against the progressive Elizabeth Warren. Bloomberg told the Times that a vote for Warren is a vote to “bring socialism back, or the USSR.”
By Eugene Robinson
Oct 21, 2012
Not a word has been said in the presidential debates about what may be the most urgent and consequential issue in the world: climate change.
President Obama understands and accepts the scientific consensus that the burning of fossil fuels is trapping heat in the atmosphere, with potentially catastrophic long-term effects. Mitt Romney’s view, as on many issues, is pure quicksilver—impossible to pin down—but when he was governor of Massachusetts, climate change activists considered him enlightened and effective.
Yet neither has mentioned the subject in the debates. Instead, they have argued over who is more eager to extract ever-larger quantities of oil, natural gas and coal from beneath our purple mountains’ majesties and fruited plains.
“We have increased oil production to the highest levels in 16 years,” Obama said in Tuesday’s debate. “Natural gas production is the highest it’s been in decades. We have seen increases in coal production and coal employment.”
Romney scoffed that Obama “has not been Mr. Oil, or Mr. Gas, or Mr. Coal,” and promised that he, if elected, would be all three. “I’ll do it by more drilling, more permits and licenses,” he said, adding later that this means “bringing in a pipeline of oil from Canada, taking advantage of the oil and coal we have here, drilling offshore in Alaska, drilling offshore in Virginia, where the people want it.”
If this is a contest to see who can pretend to be more ignorant of the environmental freight train that’s barreling down the tracks toward us, Romney wins narrowly.
Obama does acknowledge that his administration has invested in alternative energy technologies, such as wind and solar, that do not emit carbon dioxide and thus do not contribute to atmospheric warming. But he never really says why, except to say he will not “cede those jobs of the future” to other nations such as China and Germany.
Continue reading at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/why_the_chill_on_climate_change_20121021/
From Earth Island Journal: http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/elist/eListRead/a_report_from_tar_sands_blockade_in_texas
by Julia Butterfly Hill
October 16, 2012
In January 2012, I, like many other people, thought the Keystone XL pipeline controversy was over. We had won a hard-fought victory in suspending the proposed tar sands pipeline from crossing the border from Canada into the USA. It seemed a major win for the environmental movement.
But shortly after reveling in the victory, I read the words of President Barack Obama (the same man who claimed he wanted to lead America away from dependence on oil) said during a March speech in Cushing, OK. “And today, I’m directing my administration to cut through the red tape, break through the bureaucratic hurdles, and make this project a priority, to go ahead and get it done,” the president said.
To my horror and disappointment, that is exactly what he did. Today TransCanada, the company behind the Keystone XL pipeline, has already started construction on the southern leg of the pipeline that will potentially stretch from Montana all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.
In this case, “cutting through the red tape” includes allowing eminent domain laws to be used to take land from families, farmers, and Indigenous people in order to push this extremely dangerous pipeline. If completed, the pipeline will be filled with highly corrosive and toxic tar sands oil that will be pumped through the heartland of America and then (some of it, at least) will be exported to other countries.
Some residents in Texas and other allies who have come from all over the country are trying to stop this from happening. Last week I visited the courageous landowners and blockaders in ruralEast Texas who are putting their bodies on the line to slow down and, hopefully, halt the pipeline construction.
I am honored and humbled to be able to share part of their story.
• • •
In April of last year, I went to Dallas, TX and met with one of the landowners, David Daniel and his family, who were facing imminent destruction of their land from TransCanada and standing against the taking of their land through eminent domain abuse. He shared with me his story — how he and his wife had travelled to many places looking for their perfect place to buy a piece of property where they would care for and steward their little piece of “Heaven on Earth” and raise their child to feel connected to living with the Earth and not just on it. They found exactly what they were looking for in East Texas. A property that had beautiful woods, huge, old trees, and spring-fed creeks curving and meandering through 22 acres. There was one, particularly large, very old tree right next to one of the creeks that had a magic to it, that both David and his wife both felt drawn to so powerfully. It was on that spot that they both knew they had found “their place.”
By Tom Philpott
Mon Oct. 22, 2012
If you eat a lot of fish, likely as not you’re eating something that was raised on a farm and hauled in from thousands of miles away. According to NOAA, we import about 86 percent of the seafood we consume, about half of which comes from from aquaculture. And just because you find it in a gleaming supermarket fish case or on a well-presented restaurant plate doesn’t mean it’s safe to eat.
Over at BusinessWeek, there’s a pretty startling piece on the sanitary conditions on some of those farms. In Vietnam, farmed shrimp bound for the US market are kept fresh with heaps of ice made from tap water that teems with pathogenic bacteria, BusinessWeek reports. Tilapia in China’s fish farms, meanwhile, literally feed on pig manure—even though it contains salmonella and makes the tilapia “more susceptible to disease.” Why use hog shit as feed? Simple—it’s cheap, and China’s tilapia farms operate under intense pressure to slash costs and produce as much cheap tilapia as possible.
And, as Wired‘s Maryn McKenna showed in a post earlier this year, harmful bacteria like salmonella aren’t the only potential health problem associated with Asia’s fish and shrimp farms. There’s also the threat of residues from the chemicals farm operators use to control those pathogens. Like US meat farmers, Asia’s shrimp farmers rely heavily on antibiotics, traces of which can stay in the shrimp. And many of the antibiotics in use on Asia’s fish farms are banned for use in the US for public-health reasons.
Now, you might think that the Food and Drug Administration, which is charged with overseeing the safety of the food supply, is protecting us from potential harm from these products. The agency is certainly aware of the problem. Testifying before Congress in 2008, then FDA deputy director of food safety Don Kraemer put it like this:
As the aquaculture industry continues to grow, concern about the use of unapproved drugs and unsafe chemicals in aquaculture operations has increased significantly. There is clear scientific evidence that the use of unapproved antibiotics and other drugs and chemicals, such as malachite green, nitrofurans, fluoroquinolones, and gentian violet, can result in the presence of residues in the edible portions of aquacultured seafood.
Continue reading at: http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2012/10/fda-barely-inspects-imported-seafood