Dallas Morning News: Affirm gays’ right to marry

The Dallas Morning News’ position on marriage equality has evolved a good deal over the last 8 years.

Sometimes it seems as though evolution is better than revolution.

From The Dallas Morning News:  http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/20121214-editorial-affirm-gays-right-to-marry.ece

14 December 2012

This newspaper applauds the Supreme Court’s recent decision to hear arguments in two same-sex marriage cases — one on California’s Proposition 8, which bans such marriages, and one regarding the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

Same-sex marriage has been percolating at the state level for several years, leading to a patchwork of laws that create more confusion than clarity. The court can undo that confusion by determining the constitutional parameters of this issue.

We urge the Supreme Court to affirm the right of gay couples to marry based upon the fundamental American ideal of equality before the law. It is critical that the court also make clear that such a ruling won’t require churches whose doctrines oppose same-sex marriage to perform such ceremonies.

Debating the reversal of centuries of views about the institution of marriage cannot be considered without upheaval, and we recognize that the notion of gays and lesbians marrying can divide families, friends and, especially, generations. But the growing support for same-sex marriage, including within families whose gay members have changed the way these unions are seen, makes the embrace of gay marriage less of a radical shift.

Polls show that American attitudes have shifted dramatically on the subject. Surveys by organizations such as Gallup reveal that half or more of Americans support the concept of gay marriage. Equality in marriage laws is particularly embraced by younger Americans, including some younger evangelicals.

Continue reading at:  http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/20121214-editorial-affirm-gays-right-to-marry.ece

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Major Medical Societies Call For End to Legislative Intrusion Into Women’s Medical Care and Decisions

From RH Reality Check:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/12/14/who-really-cares-about-women%E2%80%99s-health-listen-to-your-doctor

by Andrea D. Friedman, National Partnership for Women & Families
December 14, 2012

The October 18 edition of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) features a compelling “sounding board” titled, Legislative Interference with the Patient-Physician Relationship. “Increasingly in recent years,” the authors argue, “legislators in the United States have been overstepping the proper limits of their role in the health care of Americans to dictate the nature and content of patients’ interactions with their physicians.” The piece addresses laws regarding a number of areas of health care, but a primary focus of the interference the authors challenge is women’s health, and particularly access to abortion care.

This argument comes not from an advocacy group with a political agenda, but from leaders of the medical community—the heads of the American College of PhysiciansAmerican Academy of Family PhysiciansAmerican Academy of PediatricsAmerican College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and American College of Surgeons. It follows on the heels of a resolution by the American Academy of Family Physicians and a Statement of Principles on the Role of Governments in Regulating the Patient-Physician Relationship by the American College of Physicians. The piece was endorsed just this week by the Council of Medical Special Societies, which represents 39 organizations and over 700,000 physicians.

And around the country, state medical associations have been taking up the cause, openly opposing harmful laws. From the Idaho Medical Association:

“It is the policy of the IMA [Idaho Medical Association] to oppose inappropriate interference by the government and third parties that causes a physician to compromise his or her medical judgment as to what information or treatment is in the best interest of the patient.” (Idaho Medical Association House of Delegates July 27 – 29, 2012, Resolution 04 (12) Protecting the Patient-Physician Relationship)

And the Texas Medical Association:

“The sanctity of the patient-physician relationship is the foundation of health care in America, and it must be preserved to assure candid communication and allow patients to evaluate their care options. The Legislature’s role should not be to dictate how physicians and patients communicate with one another or what procedures and diagnostic tests must be performed on a given patient.” (Letter from the Texas Medical Association opposing SB16 requiring an ultrasound before a woman can obtain an abortion, full letter available here.)

These statements are a sharp rebuke to legislators around the country busy passing laws that interfere with women’s health care. These are laws that mandate ultrasounds whether or not they are medically necessary; laws that require women to receive baseless, medically inaccurate information such as being told abortion causes breast cancer or suicidal tendencies; laws that make women wait as much as three days before getting an abortion; and laws that limit access to medication abortion, forcing some women to have an unnecessary surgical procedure, and the list goes on. As stated in the NEJM, “by reducing health care decisions to a series of mandates, lawmakers devalue the patient–physician relationship. Legislators, regrettably, often propose new laws or regulations for political or other reasons unrelated to the scientific evidence and counter to the health care needs of patients.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/12/14/who-really-cares-about-women%E2%80%99s-health-listen-to-your-doctor

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Scalia’s Gay Stance Is Unacceptable: Recusal From Supreme Court Deliberations on DOMA and California Proposition 8 Is Called For

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-russnow/scalias-gay-stance-is-una_b_2298838.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices


The furor over Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s prejudicial stance against gay and lesbian Americans should not go away and ought to cause the Chief Justice and his court colleagues to insist that he, at the very least, recuse himself from the upcoming cases regarding the Defense of Marriage Act and the overturning of California’s Proposition 8.

This is not just a question of a political point of view, which, depending on whether a justice leans right or left, often determines his or her vote on a particular case. Rather, this is a Supreme Court justice who, on numerous occasions, has aired his prejudices against the personal choices of human souls in the country he has sworn to protect as a distinguished jurist. How can he uphold his oath to serve when he has a personally vested interest in the case?

In his dissent in a 1996 Supreme Court decision overturning a voter-approved, anti-gay referendum in Colorado, Scalia wrote in support of the voter majority, “I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible — murder, for example, or polygamy or cruelty to animals — and could exhibit even ‘animus’ toward such conduct.”

And in 2003, after the Supreme Court negated a law in Texas that had criminalized same-sex “sodomy,” Scalia wrote in dissent, “The Texas statute undeniably seeks to further the belief of its citizens that certain forms of sexual behavior are ‘immoral and unacceptable’ — the same interest furthered by criminal laws against fornication, bigamy, adultery, adult incest, bestiality and obscenity.”

Justice Scalia’s bias clearly hampers his judgment to deliver a balanced view of what should be acceptable or not under our Constitution. Defending his stance at Princeton last week, using the legal argument “reduction to the absurd” in a condescending response to student Duncan Hosie, he said, “If we cannot have moral feelings against homosexuality, can we have it against murder?” He insists he does not equate the two, but even talking about it in this manner, can he be taken seriously?

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michael-russnow/scalias-gay-stance-is-una_b_2298838.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

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Supreme Court Justice Scalia’s Son Was Chaplain At Catholic ‘Ex-Gay’ Ministry

From The New Civil Rights Movement:   http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/supreme-court-justice-scalias-son-was-chaplain-at-catholic-ex-gay-ministry/news/2012/12/13/56269

by David Badash
on December 13, 2012

The son of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was a chaplain at a so-called “ex-gay” Roman Catholic ministry, Courage (logo, right), and Justice Scalia, it turns out, doesn’t believe in gay people, only gay behavior. These shocking revelations come from an L.A. Times op-ed written by Michael McGough, in part as an explanation and response to hero of the week, Duncan Hosie, the Princeton freshman who forced the elder Scalia to defend his anti-gay animus that appears in his Lawrence v. Texas dissent.

“The conventional interpretation of  Scalia’s opinions in gay-rights cases is that he doesn’t like gays; but maybe the more accurate gloss is that he doesn’t believe they exist — except when they are engaging in (or thinking about) ‘immoral and unacceptable’ sexual acts,” McGough writes:

The quotations from Scalia opinions that so dismayed  Princeton freshman Duncan Hosie all referred to homosexual conduct. For example, in a 1996 case the majority of the court held that voters in Colorado had exhibited “animus” toward gays by making it impossible for the state or municipalities to pass laws protecting them from discrimination. Scalia responded: “I had thought that one could consider certain conduct reprehensible — murder, for example, or polygamy, or cruelty to animals — and could exhibit even ‘animus’ toward such conduct.”   In his dissent Scalia did refer to “homosexuals” (he assiduously avoided the word “gay” except in quoted material), but he used that term interchangeably with “those who engage in homosexual conduct.”

Meanwhile, John Becker, the man who exposed Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and her husband, Marcus, as owners of a therapy practice that has engaged in “ex-gay” therapy, writes:

Just days after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia shockingly equated homosexuality with murder in an appearance at Princeton University, another troubling revelation has emerged: Scalia’s son Paul, a Roman Catholic priest, has served as chaplain for the Arlington, Virginia chapter of Courage, an official Catholic apostolate that ministers to people with so-called “same-sex attractions” — or what the rest of the world refers to as lesbian, gay, and bisexual people.

Becker quotes Scalia, from the L.A. Times’ piece

Continue reading at:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/supreme-court-justice-scalias-son-was-chaplain-at-catholic-ex-gay-ministry/news/2012/12/13/56269

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Outrageous HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War is a Joke

From Rolling Stone:  http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/outrageous-hsbc-settlement-proves-the-drug-war-is-a-joke-20121213

Matt Taibbi
December 13, 2012

If you’ve ever been arrested on a drug charge, if you’ve ever spent even a day in jail for having a stem of marijuana in your pocket or “drug paraphernalia” in your gym bag, Assistant Attorney General and longtime Bill Clinton pal Lanny Breuer has a message for you: Bite me.

Breuer this week signed off on a settlement deal with the British banking giant HSBC that is the ultimate insult to every ordinary person who’s ever had his life altered by a narcotics charge. Despite the fact that HSBC admitted to laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels (among others) and violating a host of important banking laws (from the Bank Secrecy Act to the Trading With the Enemy Act), Breuer and his Justice Department elected not to pursue criminal prosecutions of the bank, opting instead for a “record” financial settlement of $1.9 billion, which as one analyst noted is about five weeks of income for the bank.

The banks’ laundering transactions were so brazen that the NSA probably could have spotted them from space. Breuer admitted that drug dealers would sometimes come to HSBC’s Mexican branches and “deposit hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, in a single day, into a single account, using boxes designed to fit the precise dimensions of the teller windows.”

This bears repeating: in order to more efficiently move as much illegal money as possible into the “legitimate” banking institution HSBC, drug dealers specifically designed boxes to fit through the bank’s teller windows. Tony Montana’s henchmen marching dufflebags of cash into the fictional “American City Bank” in Miami was actually more subtle than what the cartels were doing when they washed their cash through one of Britain’s most storied financial institutions.

Though this was not stated explicitly, the government’s rationale in not pursuing criminal prosecutions against the bank was apparently rooted in concerns that putting executives from a “systemically important institution” in jail for drug laundering would threaten the stability of the financial system. The New York Times put it this way:

Federal and state authorities have chosen not to indict HSBC, the London-based bank, on charges of vast and prolonged money laundering, for fear that criminal prosecution would topple the bank and, in the process, endanger the financial system.

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“If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”

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Report: Humanity Has Overshot The Earth’s Biocapacity

Turns out both Malthus and Paul Ehrlich were right.

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/12/15/1329841/report-humanity-has-overshot-the-earths-biocapacity/

By Jeff Spross
on Dec 15, 2012

A new report on China’s ecological footprint opens with some grim news for the planet as a whole: The demand humans place on the planet — in terms of land use, resource consumption, pollution, and so on — overshot the Earth’s threshold for sustaining that demand back in the early 1970s. Since then the gap has only grown wider.

The report measures that demand by “ecological footprint,” which takes into account the area people use to produce the renewable resources they consume, the area that’s taken up by infrastructure, and the area of forest needed to absorb CO2 emissions not absorbed by the ocean. The report then compared that to the Earth’s biocapacity, which measures the amount of area available to serve all those purposes.

Both factors are measured in units of global hectares (gha), which represent “the productive capacity of one hectare area of utilized land at global average biological productivity levels.” And as it turns out, humanity’s footprint now outpaces the planet’s total biocapacity to the point that it would take one and a half Earths to sustain our total level of consumption:

In 2008, the Earth’s total biocapacity was 12.0 billion gha, or 1.8 gha per person, while humanity’s Ecological Footprint was 18.2 billion gha, or 2.7 gha per person. This discrepancy means it would take 1.5 years for the Earth to fully regenerate the renewable resources that people used in one year, or in other words, we used the equivalent of 1.5 Earths to support our consumption.

Continue reading at:  http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/12/15/1329841/report-humanity-has-overshot-the-earths-biocapacity/

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Oil and Gas Industry Prepare Smear Campaign Against New Matt Damon Flick “Promised Land”

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/fracking/oil-and-gas-industry-prepare-smear-campaign-against-new-matt-damon-flick-promised-land

Here’s what has the industry so spooked.

By Sharon Kelly
December 13, 2012

This story first appeared on DeSmog Blog

Next month Focus Features releases Matt Damon’s new movie and the oil and gas industry is worried sick about it.

The moviePromised Land , is about a Pennsylvania farm town deciding whether to go forward with shale gas drilling after a team of landmen arrives in the area.

Damon plays one of these landman, who rolls into town presenting himself as a humble flannel-wearing farmboy from Iowa. Damon’s character is an ace salesman, famously good at convincing homeowners to sign away the rights to their land. But halfway through the story, he starts having ethical pangs about his profession. Damon’s internal conflicts grow deeper as he grows closer to locals.

By Hollywood standards, it’s a small film, with a budget of $15 million. The script was written by Damon and co-star John Krasinski (best known for his role as Jim in “The Office”) and is based on a story by Dave Eggers.

The drilling industry is none too pleased about the movie’s at-times unflattering portrayal of landmen and it has already geared up its attack machine to aggressively respond.

The irony here, of course, is that the industry’s plan for taking on the movie runs parallel at times to the movie itself.  It a case where art imitates life imitates art.

I will come back to this.  But first, meet Mike Knapp.

You can find Mike pretty easily on the internet. He presents himself as an average dude. On his  twitter feed  he talks about his favorite beers. He sends out instagram shots of snowfall on a barn and pickup truck. He bemoans the passage of time and aging when his drivers license expires. And he’s a solid citizen. “Just loaded up a car full of groceries from our small local market!” he tweeted last month.

Mike is not happy about Promised Land.

On his blog, he writes indignantly about detractors of shale gas, attacking critics of Pennsylvania drilling and laying out lengthy arguments in favor of the industry.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/fracking/oil-and-gas-industry-prepare-smear-campaign-against-new-matt-damon-flick-promised-land

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‘I’d rather fight like hell’: Naomi Klein’s fierce new resolve to fight for climate justice

From The Boston Phoenix:   http://thephoenix.com/Boston/news/148879-id-rather-fight-like-hell-naomi-kleins-fierce/

December 14, 2012

Naomi Klein, black-clad and sharp-tongued mistress of the global anti-corporate left, friend to Occupiers and scourge of oil barons, stood outside a dressing room backstage at Boston’s Orpheum Theatre one night last month, a clear-eyed baby boy on her hip.

“I’m really trying not to play the Earth Mother card,” Klein told me over the phone the week before, as she talked about bringing Toma, her first child, into the world. But she didn’t need to worry.

Inside the dressing room, she’d been fielding questions from a small gaggle of young reporters alongside 350.org’s Bill McKibben, who had invited her to play a key role in the 21-city “Do the Math” climate-movement roadshow that arrived at the sold-out Orpheum that night. With a laugh, Klein noted to the reporters that McKibben’s devastating Rolling Stone article last summer, “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math” — revealing that the fossil-fuel industry has five times more carbon in its proven reserves, which it intends to extract, than the science says can be burned if we want to avoid climate catastrophe — had received no industry pushback.

“I mean, that’s remarkable, for a piece like that, to not feel the need to correct the record in any way? Actually, we don’t plan to destroy the planet.”

Then she offered an anecdote, as if to dispel any assumptions that she’s a conventional green, planet-saving type. Fresh from the Superstorm Sandy disaster zone, she described visiting an “amazing” community farm in Brooklyn’s Red Hook that had been flooded. “They were doing everything right, when it comes to climate,” she said. “Growing organic, localizing their food system, sequestering carbon, not using fossil-fuel inputs — all the good stuff.” Then came Sandy. “They lose their entire fall harvest, and they’re pretty sure their soil is now contaminated, because the water that flooded them was so polluted.”

“So, yeah,” she said, “it’s important to build local alternatives, we have to do it, but unless we are really going after the source of the problem” — namely, the fossil-fuel industry and its lock on Washington — “we are gonna get inundated.”

Continue reading at:  http://thephoenix.com/Boston/news/148879-id-rather-fight-like-hell-naomi-kleins-fierce/

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Solar Panels for Every Home

From  The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/13/opinion/solar-panels-for-every-home.html

Published: December 12, 2012

WE don’t think much about pitch pine poles until storms like Hurricane Sandy litter our landscape with their splintered corpses and arcing power lines. Crews from as far away as California and Quebec have worked feverishly to repair or replace those poles as utility companies rebuild their distribution systems the way they were before.

Residents of New Jersey and New York have lived through three major storms in the past 16 months, suffering through sustained blackouts, closed roads and schools, long gas lines and disrupted lives, all caused by the destruction of our electric system. When our power industry is unable to perform its most basic mission of supplying safe, affordable and reliable power, we need to ask whether it is really sensible to run the 21st century by using an antiquated and vulnerable system of copper wires and wooden poles.

Some of our neighbors have taken matters into their own hands, purchasing portable gas-powered generators in order to give themselves varying degrees of “grid independence.” But these dirty, noisy and expensive devices have no value outside of a power failure. And they’re not much help during a failure if gasoline is impossible to procure.

Having spent our careers in and around the power industry, we believe there is a better way to secure grid independence for our homes and businesses. (Disclosure: Mr. Crane’s company, based in Princeton, N.J., generates power from coal, natural gas, and nuclear, wind and solar energy.) Solar photovoltaic technology can significantly reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and our dependence on the grid. Electricity-producing photovoltaic panels installed on houses, on the roofs of warehouses and big box stores and over parking lots can be wired so that they deliver power when the grid fails.

Solar panels have dropped in price by 80 percent in the past five years and can provide electricity at a cost that is at or below the current retail cost of grid power in 20 states, including many of the Northeast states. So why isn’t there more of a push for this clean, affordable, safe and inexhaustible source of electricity?

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/13/opinion/solar-panels-for-every-home.html

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Sea Shepherd buys anti-whaling ship from Japan

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/11/sea-shepherd-buys-whaling-vessel

Marine conservation group acquires ship from unsuspecting Japanese authorities through US firm

in Tokyo
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 11 December 2012

The marine conservation group Sea Shepherd has scored a propaganda victory over Japan after it emerged it had bought its newest anti-whaling vessel from the Japanese government, apparently without its knowledge.

The $2m dollar vessel, which previously belonged to the country’s meteorological agency, was bought from unsuspecting Japanese authorities by a US company, re-registered in the Pacific island of Tuvalu as the New Atlantis, and delivered to Australia by a Japanese crew.

The ship, which was unveiled on Tuesday in Hobart, was reflagged to Australia and named after Sam Simon, the founding producer of The Simpsons TV series and a prominent animal rights campaigner.

It is the newest addition to a fleet of four Sea Shepherd vessels that is expected to pursue Japan’s whalers soon after they leave for the Antarctic later this month.

“We have four ships, one helicopter, drones and more than 120 volunteer crew from around the world ready to defend majestic whales from the illegal operations of the Japanese whaling fleet,” said Sea Shepherd’s founder, Paul Watson.

Watson will join this season’s campaign, called Operation Zero Tolerance, despite jumping bail in Germany after being placed on an Interpol wanted list for allegedly endangering a fishing vessel crew in 2002.

To compound Japan’s embarrassment, the 184ft vessel was previously moored in Shimonoseki, home to the country’s Antarctic whaling fleet, after being retired by the meteorological agency in 2010.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/11/sea-shepherd-buys-whaling-vessel

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