Donate for an Actual Cure

From Feministe:

By Caperton
on 10.24.2012

It’s October, it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the U.S. is awash in a sea of bubblegum pink. The most recognizable, of course, is that of Susan G. Komen for the Cure and their ubiquitous pink ribbon, pink t-shirts, and potentially carcinogenic co-branded pink products.

In recent years, and particularly in light of their defunding and subsequent re-funding of Planned Parenthood earlier this year, Komen has come under increased scrutiny for their fundraising and fund-distributing efforts. Despite fighting to trademark the phrase “for the cure” and declaring a goal of “ending breast cancer forever,” in 2011 SGK devoted less than a quarter of their funds to research and 7 percent to treatment. Administrative and fundraising costs accounted for 17 percent.

Luckily, there are plenty of ways to help “end breast cancer forever”–catch it early, treat it effectively, and discover and eliminate the reasons it occurs in the first place–without going through SGK. The simplest way is just to go straight to the source.

Breast cancer screening

The National Breast Cancer Foundation. The NBCF’s National Mammography Program has established partnerships with health facilities in 49 states to offer free mammograms and patient navigation. A $100 donation will fund one free mammogram. Donate to the NBCF (and check them out on Charity Navigator)

Planned Parenthood. Public response to Komen’s defunding of Planned Parenthood was outrageous, with more than $3 million in donations coming in within days of the announcement. Planned Parenthood has directed those funds into their Breast Health Initiative, which will allow PP providers to give referrals and grants for followup care for women who can’t afford it. Donate to Planned Parenthood (and check them out on Charity Navigator)

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“You Don’t Own Me” PSA

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NCTE’s Voting While Trans Campaign Fights Voter Suppression

From The Edge:

by Holly  Grigg-Spall
EDGE Contributor
Thursday Oct 25, 2012

The National Center for Transgender Equality has launched Voting While Trans, an awareness campaign that will prove vital in the coming weeks. The program aims to educate transgender people and poll workers on the potential for misunderstandings, confusion and discrimination at the voting booths in November. It also helps to counter voter suppression tactics directed at presumed Democratic demographics, which have the potential to impact the trans community’s right to vote.

“We want to flag the possible issues for those in danger states. A driver’s license still states your sex, despite the photograph, so if this is made a requirement for voting it could cause a problem if it hasn’t been changed to reflect the current information. Or you might have changed your name and sex on everything but the voter registration records,” explains Mara Keisling, executive director of the NCTE. “Some states won’t let you change your name unless you’ve had what they call ’sex change surgery,’ which is hard to define and restrictive. According to the UCLA William’s Institute, 25,000 transpeople could potentially be disenfranchised. A transperson could be accused by a poll worker of trying to fool them, or they could face harassment, even violence. You shouldn’t have to come out as trans to a poll worker.”

The campaign has produced a number of public service announcements with prominent trans activists to publicize this information and get the message out to those who need to hear it most.

Only one-fifth of transgender people who have transitioned, according to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, have been able to update all of their IDs and records with their new gender, and one-third had updated none of their IDs or records. At the time of the survey, only 59 percent had been able to update their gender on their driver’s license or state ID. In states considering voter ID laws or that already have them in place, 40 percent of the transgender population does not have an updated driver’s license and 29 percent have no identification that lists their current gender.

Keisling hopes the campaign will remind those who have never had issues voting previously that this could be the year that they do. With organizations like True the Vote training “poll watchers” to catch those committing voter fraud (despite lack of evidence that voter fraud exists as a significant problem), anyone at risk of being denied their right to vote must be vigilant.

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Why LGB People Should Care about Trans Bias in the Military

From Bilerico:

By  Tom Carpenter
October 24, 2012

I recently blogged about the unfinished mission after repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”law (DADT). Most of the blog dealt with well known issues related to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), family benefits, and instituting a non-discrimination policy to prevent hostile workplace issues. I also brought up transgender service – which has been allowed in the United Kingdom even before they were forced to permit lesbian, gay and bisexuals to serve – as one of the remaining challenges. One of my readers, Sharon W, vehemently disagreed with my support of the transgender community, and the opportunity to be in the armed forces.

Sharon W wrote:

If the “LGBT” ideologues had had their way, our side would have had to insist upon the right of cross-dressers to serve openly before any repeal could happen. Thus, there would have been no DADT repeal, just as there has been no ENDA and will be no ENDA any time in the near future.

The issues raised by “transgender” military service are wholly distinct from those raised by LGB service. Many transgenders suffer from a recognized mental illness, GID. Others have or are in the process of altering their bodies surgically and/or via hormone therapy. This raises real issues concerning fitness for service, at least in some cases. None of this has anything to do with gay servicemen and servicewomen, and it is entirely right that this issue was kept out of DADT repeal, even if it hurt Mr. Carpenter’s feelings.

It is unfortunate that there continues to be an unthinking assertion that gays and lesbians form one “people” with transgenders. In fact, LGBT is a recent contrivance. “Transgender” is an umbrella term (which is rejected by some of its would-be members) which encompasses various subgroups; the vast majority of the members of these subgroups are not gay. LGBs should be friends to trans people, but it makes absolutely no sense to continue to insist on using terms like “LGBT people” when there is no such thing.

When I read Sharon’s comments, I felt a lot of things. I was surprised there is still a great deal of misunderstanding about what transgender and gender dysphoria means. There was disappointment that some in the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGB) community would so casually turn their backs on people who are on the same side as us on every major issue: the end of DADT, marriage equality, the end of DOMA, passage of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA), and every form of legal protection for LGB people. The implication that trans people are ballast that should be chucked overboard at the earliest opportunity disturbed me greatly.

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Meryl Streep Draws The Line

France Free Abortion Bill: Lawmakers Vote To Fully Reimburse Procedure

From Huffington Post:


PARIS — The lower house of the French parliament has voted to fully reimburse all abortions and to make contraception free for minors.

Currently, France’s national medical insurance fully pays for abortions for minors and the poor, while other women are reimbursed for up to 80 percent of the procedure’s cost, which can be as much as (EURO)450 ($580). Contraception is partially reimbursed.

The bill, which passed the National Assembly on Friday, would make all abortions free and would also pay for contraception for those between 15 and 18. It now goes to the Senate, where it is likely to pass.

Some groups, however, complain that price is only one impediment to abortion access. They say too few doctors offer the procedure and there needs to be more information about who does.

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The theology (Superstition) behind Mourdock’s ‘gift from God’ pregnancy after rape remark

When someone tells me they have a doctorate in Theology I say, “That’s nice.”

But I think is that like a doctorate in astrology or crystal therapy. I always find myself wondering if it would it be rude of me to ask if I could give some one twenty bucks for a piece of paper that would let me declare I have a similar degree in say goat entrails reading?

From Raw Story:

By The Christian Science Monitor
Friday, October 26, 2012

When Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock this week spoke provocatively of rape-induced pregnancy as “something that God intended to happen,” liberals and atheists weren’t the only ones outraged.

The furor extends into Evangelical camps, too. Believers have taken Mr. Mourdock to task for bungling the important doctrine of providence, which holds that a benevolent God upholds and cares for an imperfect world.

In awkwardly wading into theological waters, Mourdock apparently aimed to affirm the belief – widely held in Evangelical circles, in particular – that God’s sovereignty knows no limits. It is a concept that has strong ties to 16th-century Swiss religious reformer John Calvin, who saw in scripture and day-to-day events evidence of a hands-on God. Mourdock showed, however, how tricky it can be to apply the doctrine in discussing tragic events.

What Mourdock said “is offensive,” says Richard Lints, a theologian of the Reformed tradition, which has Calvinist roots, and dean at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in South Hamilton, Mass. “The clumsiness is [to] so align God with evil that God becomes a horrific figure. It’s contrary to anything you read in scripture, and it removes the human responsibility.

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Ah The Epicurean Dilemma
If god exists and is all powerful,
whence cometh evil?
If god creates or permits evil then god is capricious or malevolent.
If god sees evil but does not prevent it then god is either complicit or impotent.
Either way why worship such a god?
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Lena Dunham: Your First Time

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Lies of Plutocracy: Exploding Five Myths that Dehumanize the Poor

From Truth Out:

By Jeff Nall,
Friday, 26 October 2012

If you believe that poverty is the domain of the comfortably poor, black, unemployed, unmotivated and uneducated among us, you have been sadly misled. Prepare to be astonished by numbers that tell a very different story.

You’re in the grocery store checkout aisle. Time to cash out. You pull out your food-stamp EBT card. You’re overcome with a sense shame one feels for being broke in a world that measures self-worth according to net-worth.

You hide the card behind your bank debit card – the one that has nearly nothing in it – and try to act natural as you slide it through the machine. “Cash or Food,” it asks. You hit food. No one in the aisle with you is the wiser. But the cashier knows. You wonder if he’s now scrutinizing your food purchases. If he’s so poor how can he afford organic tomatoes? (After all, pesticides only harm the wealthy!) But at least the people behind you aren’t in on it.

“OK, the balance is $10.99,” the cashier says. You forgot about the laundry detergent. Now you’ve been outed to everyone. “He’s buying this stuff with our money,” you imagine people around you thinking.

People who feel the shame-inducing scrutiny of many judgmental Americans aren’t paranoid. When the subject of welfare is brought up in my classrooms, many students immediately talk about people they see cheating the system. Whether the people they have in mind really are cheating the system or not, poor people are routinely conceptually linked with those of the lowest common denominator: lazy, stupid, cheats.

The Silenced, Closeted Poor

In 2010 the Census Bureau reported that 1 in 6 Americans (15 percent) are poor, a rate that was held steady in 2011.1 Even these statistics disguise the real poverty numbers. A sampling of the existing poverty thresholds – boundaries separating the officially “poor” from the “non-poor” – are as follows: $11,704 for one-person households where the adult is under 65; $10,788 for those where the adult is over 65; $15,504 for households with one adult and a child; $18,106 for two adults and one child; $22,811 for two adults and two children; $30,056 for two adults and 4 children.

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Ryan’s Prescription for the Poor: End Anti-Poverty Programs

From Alternet:

Government anti-poverty programs, Ryan suggested at an Ohio campaign stop, are bad because, in his view, they render the poor into bad and lazy people.

By Solange Uwimana
October 24, 2012

In his first major economic policy address since he was elevated to the vice presidential spot on the Republican ticket, Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, laid out an agenda fraught with a condescending moralistic attitude toward poor people that has defined the presidential campaign of Mitt Romney.

Government anti-poverty programs Ryan suggested, are bad for the poor because, in his view, they render the poor into a morally bankrupt  and lazy people. “The problem is, starting in the 1960s, this top-down approach created and perpetuated a debilitating culture of dependency, wrecking families and communities,” Ryan told a gathering at Cleveland State University in Ohio on Wednesday.

“The truth is, Mitt and I believe in true compassion and upward mobility – and we are offering a vision based on real reforms for lifting people out of poverty,” Ryan continued.

But Ryan’s promise to the poor seemed to be about as authentic as his campaign stop last week at a soup kitchen, where, without asking permission of the charity’s managers, he donned an apron for the press corps cameras and washed what observers said were already clean pans.

Ryan’s idea of reform is to remove federal oversight from federal poverty alleviation programs, allowing states to spend federal dollars as they see fit. One need only look at Texas, where the state pulled contraceptive access for poor women, to see how well this might work. The other parts of the Ryan/Romney plan seem equally heartless: pulling money from public school systems for “school choice” and ending job-training programs, while cutting taxes for the wealthiest Americans.

The Ryan budget, passed by the House earlier this year, cuts Medicaid , the federal health-care program for the poor by $1.4 trillion, which, according to the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, “would almost inevitably result in dramatic reductions in coverage.” It goes on to gut the food stamp program, cutting the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit — which a new study says have all been shown to reduce poverty.

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Top Romney Adviser: If You Own A Microwave, You Aren’t Really Poor

From Think Progress:

By Igor Volsky
on Oct 25, 2012

A top adviser to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign deniedthe nation’s income inequality gap in a Wall Street Journal editorial on Thursday, brushing off the growing concentration of wealth in the hands of the very wealthy by arguing that lower-income Americans are buying more consumer goods.

“Today we hear that the gains from economic growth accrue to the highest-income earners while the standard of living of the poor and middle America stagnates and the gap between the richest and the poorest grows ever wider,” Kevin Hassett and Aparna Mathur argue. “That portrait of the country is wrong“:

Yet the access of low-income Americans—those earning less than $20,000 in real 2009 dollars—to devices that are part of the “good life” has increased. The percentage of low-income households with a computer rose to 47.7% from 19.8% in 2001. The percentage of low-income homes with six or more rooms (excluding bathrooms) rose to 30% from 21.9% over the same period.

Appliances? The percentage of low-income homes with air-conditioning equipment rose to 83.5% from 65.8%, with dishwashers to 30.8% from 17.6%, with a washing machine to 62.4% from 57.2%, and with a clothes dryer to 56.5% from 44.9%.

The percentage of low-income households with microwave ovens grew to 92.4% from 74.9% between 2001 and 2009. Fully 75.5% of low-income Americans now have a cell phone, and over a quarter of those have access to the Internet through their phones.

But this argument, a favorite of conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation, is highly misleading. Appliances and commonly used consumer gadgets like cell phones are necessities in the 21st century and are significantly cheaper today than they were just decades earlier. In fact, were families to sell their appliances in order to help pay for food and other basic necessities, many would still struggle — for while prices on microwaves and air conditioners have fallen, “the real everyday basics such as quality child care and out-of-pocket medical costs” are “squeezing the budgets of the poor and middle-class alike.”

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Brunch with Bernie – October 26, 2012

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Growing an Alternative Economy One Community at a Time

From Truth Dig:

By Thomas Hedges,
Center for Study of Responsive Law
Oct 24, 2012

On Sunday mornings, farmers, producers and consumers meet in Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., and exchange locally grown products. Bright fruits, vegetables and flowers are lifted from large tables and brought to the cash register, where shoppers and farmers talk at length. Others taste cheeses and sample slices of tomato, pausing to savor the taste or read a handout detailing the food’s provenance.

The apples, pears, potatoes here are collected from farms within 150 miles of where they are sold. The men and women behind each stand are often the farmers themselves. Pesticides, antibiotics and artificial growth hormones are banned. Fresh Farm Markets, a not-for-profit organization that oversees and regulates the farmers market in Dupont Circle, travels to each farm to make sure that regulations are followed.

Any producers, whether they sell jam, pastas, or soups, must prove that their ingredients are from the region.

“We work with the locals,” says Isabel Castillo, co-owner of Dolcezza Artisanal Gelato. “I have apples from here, pears from here, ricotta from here. I support here.” Castillo makes the gelato in her flagship store on Wisconsin Avenue and Q Street. She has two other stores. “My son-in-law is the chef and my daughter and husband and I manage the shops,” she says.

The vibrancy here reaches beyond the mere color of the produce. It’s found in the conversations between shoppers and vendors, which point to a level of care in how people are consuming. It’s about more than health. It’s about buying food that hasn’t traveled thousands of miles to get here, and the impact that has on the environment.

“The best thing about farmers markets is that people talk,” says environmentalist Bill McKibben. “A study found that shoppers at farmers markets had 10 times as many conversations per visit than at supermarkets.”

“That’s one way we reknit the community, lost as America sprawls outwards,” he says.

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David Attenborough: US politicians duck climate change because of cost

From The Guardian UK:

The naturalist warned it would take a terrible example of extreme weather to wake people up to global warming

and, Thursday 25 October 2012

One of the world’s leading naturalists has accused US politicians of ducking the issue of climate change because of the economic cost of tackling it and warned that it would take a terrible example of extreme weather to wake people up to the dangers of global warming.

Speaking just days after the subject of climate change failed to get a mention in the US presidential debates for the first time in 24 years, Sir David Attenborough told the Guardian: “[It] does worry me that most powerful nation in the world, North America, denies what the rest of us can see very clearly [on climate change]. I don’t know what you do about that. It’s easier to deny.”

Asked what was needed to wake people up, the veteran broadcaster famous for series such as Life and Planet Earth said: “Disaster. It’s a terrible thing to say, isn’t it? Even disaster doesn’t do it. There have been disasters in North America, with hurricanes and floods, yet still people deny and say ‘oh, it has nothing to do with climate change.’ It visibly has got [something] to do with climate change.”

But some US politicians found it easier to deny the science on climate change than take action, he said, because the consequence of recognising the science on man-made climate change “means a huge section from the national budget will be spent in order to deal with it, plenty of politicians will be happy to say ‘don’t worry about that, we’re not going to increase your taxes.'”

Neither Barack Obama or Mitt Romney mentioned climate change in three TV debates, despite a summer of record temperatures and historic drought in the US.

Romney used Obama’s commitment to taking action on climate change as a joke in his convention speech. The president later hit back by saying “and yes, my plan will continue to reduce the carbon pollution that is heating our planet because climate change is not a hoax. More droughts and floods and wildfires are not a joke.” However, environmentalists have been critical of Obama’s silence on the subject and the Green party presidential candidate, Jill Stein, went as far as saying it meant he was, in effect, “another climate denier”.

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