by Scott Roberts
15 November 2012
Organisers in the UK are raising awareness of next week’s Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR).
It’s taking place on Tuesday 20 November and aims to commemorate the hundreds of individuals murdered each year simply for being transgender.
Thousands of members of the trans community and their supporters will gather together at locations around the globe to mark the event.
It first started in 1998, following the murder of Rita Hester, a transgender African American woman in Massachusetts.
In the UK, events are scheduled to take place in venues across the country, including London, Southampton, Cambridge, Liverpool and Edinburgh.
International statistics compiled by the Trans Respect Monitoring Project identified at least 265 trans people murdered in the last twelve months, an increase of 20% on the previous year.
The actual number is likely to be much greater than that reported. In some areas, including many African countries, trans victims are frequently recorded as lesbian or gay.
Other areas where significant under-reporting is widely believed to occur include Russia, parts of Eastern Europe and the Middle East.
From The New Civil Rights Movement: http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/3barber-gays-want-to-use-gay-marriage-as-weapon-against-religious-free-speech/politics/2012/11/15/53860
by David Badash
on November 15, 2012
Matt Barber says that gay people don’t really want to get married, rather, they merely want to use same-sex marriage as a weapon against religious free speech. Barber, Director of Cultural Affairs with Liberty Counsel and an Associate Dean with Liberty University School of Law — both very closely related to the infamous Jerry Falwell— claims that a “minuscule” percentage of gay people actually want to get married. Which, of course, explains why we’re ll working so damn hard to get the institution of marriage extended to same-sex couples.
Barber, who last month called President Obama “a white-hating, communist, Black Nationalist,” and said that “Obama’s fake ebonics accent is as creepy as any of his hateful race-baiting,” apparently believes in his oh-so-”Christian” way, that the world revolves around him and his faux Christians.
Amusingly, one must ask, if the LGBT community were so intent on curtailing Barber’s freedom of speech, why would there be so many of us — LGBT and progressive journalists and bloggers — repeating all his stupid comments every time it’s a slow news day?
Barber, in this video, says that “same-sex marriage, from a political and legal application is being used as a weapon against free speech, against freedom of religious expression… and I believe that is by design.”
From Talking Points Memo: http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/11/gop-not-budging-on-violence-against-women-act.php?ref=fpb
November 15, 2012
If Republicans have been chastened by losing the women’s vote last week by the widest margin in modern history, they have a funny way of showing it.
House GOP leaders aren’t yielding to a bipartisan coalition of Senate leaders demanding they extend the protections of the Violence Against Women Act — an anti-domestic abuse bill that was first passed with broad support in 1994 but hit a brick wall of Republican opposition earlier this year.
“Nothing has changed,” a senior GOP aide told TPM. “The House has passed a bill, we are ready to move to conference, and the Speaker has announced his conferees. We are waiting on Senate Democrats to follow suit and act.”
Six months ago, Senate Democrats passed re-authorization that expanded the law’s protections to LGBT women, illegal immigrants and Native Americans. House Republicans rejected that approach, and in response passed a scaled back version that would make it more difficult for domestic violence victims in the country illegally to achieve legal status.
Democrats have reiterated their insistence that the House take up their version, which passed 68-31 with plenty of GOP support back in April, while the Republicans’ version passed the lower chamber on a more partisan basis in May. As a result, they have no interest in taking up the House GOP’s offer to go to conference.
You’d be surprised at Christian denominations’ positions on abortion in the 1970s.
By Valerie Tarico
November 15, 2012
The pamphlet does not contain a position statement. Quite the opposite, in fact. From the beginning, the authors explain that such an agreement is impossible: “Clearly there is no Christian position on abortion, for here real values conflict with each other, and Christian persons who seek honestly to be open to God’s call still find themselves disagreeing profoundly.”
At the time, five years had passed since the Rove v. Wade decision, and the Church, broadly, was wrestling with ethical and spiritual complexities the decision brought to the surface. WAC, which existed “to express and strengthen the unity Christians have in Jesus Christ” had asked member denominations to create a study group because strong feelings on the question of abortion were threating that mission. In the absence of an agreement, the study group articulated a set of shared values and then assembled statements on abortion from member denominations.
Some of the contents would come as little surprise to anyone aware of today’s struggles over abortion ethics and rights. For example, the Catholic Church pronounced that even when pregnancy threatens a mother’s life, abortion “increases the overall tragedy.” Catholicism has wavered over the centuries about when a fetus becomes a person with a soul, but the hierarchy has been consistent in its opposition to abortion after ensoulment, which is now proclaimed to happen at conception. Furthermore, the Catholic hierarchy has long sought to enforce its ethical judgments via civic and criminal codes, and 1978 was no exception: “A legal context in which abortion is presented as a legitimate way of resolving tragic situations creates an atmosphere that reduces respect for the value of life. Ultimately, such an atmosphere dehumanizes the lives of all who live in it.”
What might be surprising is how little the other denominations represented in the 1978 study group agreed with them. Consider the following statements:
Continue reading at: http://www.alternet.org/when-right-wing-christians-stopped-thinking-women-people
By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, November 16, 2012
Working off the conservative premise that food and medical assistance deprograms ambition and debases economic mobility, MSNBC’s right-wing commentator S.E. Cupp tried to tell a nun on Thursday that helping the poor leaves them worse off.
That didn’t exactly fly with Sister Simone Campbell, a Catholic nun who’s part of the “Nuns on the Bus” campaign to raise awareness of economic injustice.
“I think everyone can agree that we’d like to decrease poverty,” Cupp said. “Even though conservatives have been maligned for quote unquote wanting to cut social safety programs and the social safety net, expanding welfare hasn’t reduced poverty. In fact, adding millions to the ranks of welfare has seen poverty explode over the past four years. So, what’s the balanced response here?”
“Excuse me, but that data is really wrong,” Campbell said.
“Poverty has not exploded in the past four years?” Cupp asked.
“Poverty has increased, but quote welfare has not,” Campbell said. “The real culprit here is minimum wage. Minimum wage has stayed below the poverty level. What we have to be keenly aware of is in 1970, if you worked for minimum wage it kept you out of poverty. If we were going to go back to a wage that would keep families out of poverty, minimum wage would have to be about $12.50 an hour, instead of its current $7.25. So, let’s talk about the working poor. People don’t realize that a big percentage of those in poverty are people who are working.”
By Annie-Rose Strasser
on Nov 16, 2012
Today, Hostess Brands inc. — the company famed for its sickly sweet desert snacks like Twinkies and Sno Balls — announced they’d be shuttering after more than eighty years of production.
But while headlines have been quick to blame unions for the downfall of the company there’s actually more to the story: While the company was filing for bankruptcy, for the second time, earlier this year, it actually tripled its CEO’s pay, and increased other executives’ compensation by as much as 80 percent.
At the time, creditors warned that the decision signaled an attempt to “sidestep” bankruptcy rules, potentially as a means for trying to keep the executive at a failing company. The Confectionery, Tobacco Workers & Grain Millers International Union pointed this out in their written reaction to the news that the business is closing:
BCTGM members are well aware that as the company was preparing to file for bankruptcy earlier this year, the then CEO of Hostess was awarded a 300 percent raise (from approximately $750,000 to $2,550,000) and at least nine other top executives of the company received massive pay raises. One such executive received a pay increase from $500,000 to $900,000 and another received one taking his salary from $375,000 to $656,256.
From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/16/opinion/life-death-and-deficits.html
By PAUL KRUGMAN
Published: November 15, 2012
America’s political landscape is infested with many zombie ideas — beliefs about policy that have been repeatedly refuted with evidence and analysis but refuse to die. The most prominent zombie is the insistence that low taxes on rich people are the key to prosperity. But there are others.
And right now the most dangerous zombie is probably the claim that rising life expectancy justifies a rise in both the Social Security retirement age and the age of eligibility for Medicare. Even some Democrats — including, according to reports, the president — have seemed susceptible to this argument. But it’s a cruel, foolish idea — cruel in the case of Social Security, foolish in the case of Medicare — and we shouldn’t let it eat our brains.
First of all, you need to understand that while life expectancy at birth has gone up a lot, that’s not relevant to this issue; what matters is life expectancy for those at or near retirement age. When, to take one example, Alan Simpson — the co-chairman of President Obama’s deficit commission — declared that Social Security was “never intended as a retirement program” because life expectancy when it was founded was only 63, he was displaying his ignorance. Even in 1940, Americans who made it to age 65 generally had many years left.
Now, life expectancy at age 65 has risen, too. But the rise has been very uneven since the 1970s, with only the relatively affluent and well-educated seeing large gains. Bear in mind, too, that the full retirement age has already gone up to 66 and is scheduled to rise to 67 under current law.
Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/16/opinion/life-death-and-deficits.html
From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/11/16-0
Today we are witnessing a frontal attack (and there is no other word to describe what is happening) to the welfare states of the countries of the Eurozone, which is especially accentuated in the periphery of thismonetary union. In Greece, Portugal, Spain, and Ireland, we are seeing wage reductions, increases in unemployment, dilution and weakening of social protection, reduction of public social expenditures, privatization of public transfers (such as pensions) and public services of the welfare state (such as medical care, education, and social services), reduction of labor, social and even civil rights, and weakening of collective bargaining and trade unions. All these public interventions represent the most active aggression against the welfare and well-being of their populations, in particular of their popular classes (working and middle classes). They are hurting a lot. In Spain, the suicide rate has increased threefold as a consequence of the unbearable stress among people who have lost their homes. Every day, almost 500 families are forced to leave their homes because they cannot pay the mortgage.
All these policies respond to the belief held by the European financial, political, and media establishments that the welfare state in Europe is not sustainable any longer. As Mr. Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, put it quite clearly in his Wall Street Journal interview (24.02.12): “The social European model is not sustainable any longer.” Also, President Rajoy, head of the conservative Spanish government, said the same, just using different words: “We are spending in our welfare state far above what we can afford.” Spain, incidentally, is one of the countries in the EU-15 that spends the least on its welfare state, only 22 percent of its Gross National Product, compared with the 27 percent average of the EU-15. Only one out of every 10 adults works in the public services of the welfare state (such as medical care, education, and social services) compared with one out of every six on average in the EU-15 and one out of every four in Sweden, the country in the EU-15 that has the most developed welfare state. Regardless of the indicators one uses, the fact is that the Spanish welfare state is underfunded and understaffed. And, with the cuts of public social expenditures, the situation is getting worse. The average time for patient visits to their general practitioners, in the National Health Services, has been reduced by 30 percent since the crisis started in 2007.
The 20 percent of the population with highest income, however, has not been affected by the deterioration of these public services, since they use private services, both in medical care and in education. They go to see private physicians when they are sick and send their children to private schools. Social class is indeed an important variable in understanding Spain. The Spanish state (as well as the Greek, Portuguese, and Irish states) is poor, with scarce social conscience and with limited redistributive effects, the result of very regressive fiscal policies. And the cuts are weakening the situation even more.
Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/11/16-0
by Eric Darier
November 15, 2012
Too many countries have in history experienced the devastation of not only failed harvests, but also gross agricultural policy mismanagement.
The Great Famine of the 1930s in the Ukraine, which resulted in millions starving to death, is just one of many. It was a direct result of a political decision to impose a centralised and industrial agriculture model that obliterated centuries of farmers’ know-how. The results were so catastrophic that the Ukraine government describes it as genocide.
There is perhaps little wonder thatUkraine has been restricting wheat exports this year to maintain its own domestic stockpiles and prevent a rise in domestic bread prices following a heat wave and failed harvest.
Climate change scientists tell us that we can expect more extreme weather and more failed harvests in the coming years if measures are not taken to halt the impact of global warming.
We will see great famines in the future? Well, bad policies and corporate greed are certainly the drivers of industrial agriculture in our key breadbasket countries, where food is being turned into fuel. So, are we heading for another food crisis?
The short answer is yes … although where and when is hard to say. In the words of the physicist and Nobel Prize winner Neils Bohr: “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future”.
But there are some facts we do know for sure.
We know that human beings are overshooting planetary boundaries for water and biological diversity. We know that food prices continue to be high and that price spikes are as equally volatile and frequent as extreme weather events. We know that climate change is hitting agricultural yields badly while food production is increasingly used to fuel cars. And we know that powerful corporate lobbies continue to push for false solutions that feed profits more than people.
From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/nov/15/bp-deepwater-horizon-gulf-oil-spill
BP met its day of reckoning in the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster on Thursday when the company admitted guilt on 14 criminal charges and agreed to pay an historic $4.5bn (£2.8bn) penalty in connection with the fatal explosion of its rig and the catastrophic oil spill.
The payments include $4bn for criminal charges and $525m to security regulators. BP will plead guilty to 11 felony counts of misconduct or neglect in relation to the deaths of 11 men aboard the Deepwater Horizon when the rig blew up and sank in April 2010, as well as misdemeanour counts under the clean water and migratory bird acts. The company will plead guilty to lying to Congress.
“This marks the single largest criminal fine – $1.25m – and the single largest total criminal resolution – $4m – in the history of the United States,” the attorney general, Eric Holder, told a news conference in New Orleans. “I hope this sends a clear message to those who would engage in this kind of reckless and wanton misconduct that there will be a significant penalty to be paid.”
Three BP officials were also charged, in addition to the charges against the company. Donald Vidrine and Robert Kaluza, the two senior managers aboard the Deepwater Horizon, face charges of manslaughter and of negligence in supervising the pressure tests on the well.
“In the face of glaring red flags indicating that the well was not secure, both men allegedly failed to take appropriate action to prevent the blowout,” said assistant attorney general Lanny Breuer.
David Rainey, BP’s former vice-president for exploration in the Gulf of Mexico, was charged with obstruction of Congress and lying about how much oil was gushing from the well.
The criminal settlement does not settle all of the claims against BP for the April 2010 blowout of the Deepwater Horizon and the subsequent oil spill.
New report says US is poised to become THE world leader in extracting fossil fuels.
By Tara Lohan
November 14, 2012
Can we drill our way to energy independence? Republicans (and some Democrats) have long proclaimed we can — and now a recent report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) says the U.S. may be poised to become the world leader in extracting fossil fuels like oil and gas, overtaking Saudi Arabia in the coming decade. The report declares that we could even achieve energy independence in the next 20 or so years.
While “energy independence” may seem like welcome news, it helps to dig a little deeper. “That doesn’t mean we’ll stop importing oil; rather, we’ll be exporting so much coal and natural gas that it will offset our oil imports,” writes Joshua Delaughter at Ars Technica. “Those imports will also be kept in check by a combination of increased fuel efficiency and expanded extraction within the US.”
The overall conclusion of the report is that the world will remain addicted to fossil fuels for the indefinite future. This is in part because of subsidies. Around the globe, governments are subsidizing their use to the tune of over half a trillion dollars. That’s over six times the subsidies given to renewable energy, and up 30 percent from the year before.
This is bad news for the future of humanity and our planet. A continued addiction to fossil fuels means catastrophic climate change. The IEA report even states, “No more than one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to 2050 if the world is to achieve the 2°C goal” (the line at which, if exceeded, many climatologists have warned will commit us to extremely dangerous planetary changes).
The problem is, the fossil fuel industry hopes to extract every last drop that can be drilled or mined out of the earth. And some of our elected officials are happy to lend a hand.