Time to stop sending ambassadors to the Vatican. Sending ambassadors to the Vatican is a clear violation of the wall of separation between church and state. The office is currently vacant so now would be a good time to end the practice started under Reagan in 1984.
The Catholic Church has come to resemble a criminal enterprise specializing in child rape. The role model for the pope seems to be Rodrigo Borgia.
The level of hubris involved in appointing a former Hitler Youth to the office of pope was stunning, but then what can one expect from such a corrupt anachronistic organization?
By Adele M. Stan
Feb. 11, 2013
Pope Benedict XVI today stunned the Roman Catholic Church — and the world — with his announcement that he would turn in his sceptre, effect February 28. To find a precedent for Benedict’s action, one needs to go back through six centuries of history to Pope Gregory XII’s resignation in 1416.
In a statement issued today in Latin, the pope wrote: “… in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.”
The Church’s Child-Abuse Scandal
Citing age and infirmity as his reason for leaving the papacy, Benedict’s action comes just weeks after he opened his celebrated Twitter account — and less than a month after the decades-old child abuse scandal drew nearer to the pope’s door, with revelations published in the Los Angeles Times earlier this month that Cardinal Roger Mahony, then Archbishop of Los Angeles, sought to evade the law in cases involving the sexual abuse of children by the priests in his charge by sending them to treatment facilities in states that did not require health professionals to report the crimes to authorities.
Brynn TannehillOn February 7, 2013
Reserve recruiters dream of people like Morgan Wade walking into their office. She had a sterling service record, was on the fast track to chief petty officer, and qualified in a field where the demand for skilled individuals is high. Top it off with a clear background check and a clean bill of health, and it should be easy, right?
The problem: Morgan Wade is female now, but that is not what was on her original birth certificate. It wasn’t what was in her records when she joined the Navy. Even before she joined the Navy, though, Morgan was already dealing with gender dysphoria. She treated it as something chronic but manageable.
“The first time I figured out I had body image issues was actually before I joined the Navy, though at that point I didn’t know what it was or meant,” she said. “I just tried to ignore it. At that moment in my life, I didn’t know what I could do other than just try to deal with it the way I always had.”
Joining the Navy
Morgan’s father, Mark, saw someone looking for a calling and not just a job. “Diving is Morgan’s passion,” he said. “She was not happy at Chico College and spent her summer vacation on our sofa just watching TV. When we told her to go out and get a job, she went to military recruiters and decided on the Navy… Morgan found the dive program and pushed for that.”
Morgan saw a great opportunity: “I wanted money for school and needed some time to figure out what I wanted to do with my life.”
When it came to her dysphoria, she counted on her newfound endurance. There were hard times early in her Navy career, but those hardships also reinforced her confidence in her own abilities. “At my first command, I was treated so badly, and hazing was such a regular thing that I sort of figured that if I could survive that, I could deal with my own personal issues.”
Continue reading at: http://outservemag.com/2013/02/navy-couple-recounts-tough-decisions/
By Alissa Fleck
Saturday, 09 February 2013
Digitized health records may be a step forward for improving overall health care, but how will they safely and competently account for the medically and socially marginalized LGBT community?
Information sharing in medicine and health care is undergoing major changes in the United States, but if these changes are improperly managed, there could be devastating repercussions. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) populations – which already experience staggering health care inequalities – have the potential to be hit especially hard by these reforms.
In a 2009 survey conducted by Lambda Legal and its partner organizations, of nearly 5,000 LGBT individuals, 56 percent of gay, lesbian or bisexual people and 70 percent of transgender people indicated they had at some point experienced discriminatory or substandard health care, highlighting the particular precariousness of their situation as well as the need for an overhaul of the current system.
Over the next few years, medical institutions nationwide will continue to implement Electronic Health Records (EHRs) in their facilities. The 2009 American Reinvestment & Recovery Act (ARRA) puts pressure on institutions to implement EHRs by way of Medicare and Medicaid payouts up until 2015, at which point institutions that have not shown quantifiable improvement of care with the use of EHRs are then penalized according to a percentage scale increasing yearly.
EHRs are digitized versions of a patient’s medical information, intended to replace the cumbersome, outdated paper charts currently prevalent in many medical practices, from doctors’ offices to emergency care centers. EHRs confer the benefit of a patient’s health information instantaneously anywhere it’s needed. An EHR can be created, updated and reviewed by authorized staff members across various health care organizations – one such record can aggregate information from multiple doctors, pharmacies, workplace clinics, medical imaging facilities and more.
What to include in an EHR seems commonsense to a degree. Age, ethnicity, allergies and medical concerns or past operations, for instance, are all relevant to efficient health care practices. However, how and whether to include other identifying information, such as sexual orientation and gender identity, and whether that information is in fact relevant at all, may not be so straightforward.
“Every day that goes by is another day of unnecessary sacrifice for our families,” frustrated LGBT advocate says.
February 8, 2013
WASHINGTON — The nation’s largest LGBT rights group Friday lashed out at the Pentagon over continued delays in extending benefits to servicemembers with same-sex spouses, delays that have frustrated advocates and prompted a plea for action from the lesbian wife of a service member.
“There’s no explanation for the delay. It’s been over two years now since the President signed the repeal bill. Every day that goes by is another day of unnecessary sacrifice for our families,” Human Rights Campaign vice president for communications Fred Sainz told BuzzFeed Friday evening.
Ashley Broadway, married to Lt. Col. Heather Mack, has been watching the impact of the Pentagon’s foot-dragging firsthand, with the Army announcing that the Association of Bragg Officers’ Spouses would be allowed to meet on base even if it excluded her from membership. Although the spouses’ group eventually relented and allowed Broadway to join, Broadway’s experience — and her work as an officer with the American Military Partners Association — has her disappointed with the delay.
“I am completely and totally frustrated. They’ve been saying this, basically, since the repeal. We have families, truly, that are suffering,” Broadway told BuzzFeed Friday night. “If they would just hurry up and act on it, our families wouldn’t be suffering any more. Act on it already.”
From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/07/sex-work-super-bowl-myth
For as long as spectators have wanted to crowd around men playing games, so have those who document sports boasted of how many women flock to service all those captive fans. Historians have claimed that along with athletes and the people who adored them, prostitutes, too, poured into ancient Greece for the Olympics, where they could earn a year’s pay working the stands.
Now, the modern sex worker is believed to follow a similar migratory path, though considerably expanded by the reach of global tourism and mega-sports spectacles: the World Cup, the Grand Prix, the Super Bowl – all supposedly draw thousands of women offering paid sex.
It’s an alluring fantasy, the kind of thing you could imagine in a dusty smut book, or serving as winky fodder for escort agencies and strip clubs in their seasonal marketing. The fantasy asks us to imagine the visiting packs of excitable men, engorged by victory or deflated by defeat. Who will celebrate with them? Who will soothe them? Worse, all that running and ball-chasing (or just watching it) is said to stoke a demand for sex so high that it would exhaust a city’s native sex industry.
In headlines alternately titillating and cautionary, we were told that during the 2012 Olympics, London was to be “flooded” with prostitutes, and that for the 2013 Super Bowl in New Orleans, the city would host a “dark underworld” of illicit sex-for-sale. Like all fantasies, the “roving sporting sex workers” trope should be mostly harmless. It tells us about our culture’s deeply-held myths and fears about sex work, but it can do little to spur any real concern for sex workers. In other words, it’s an innocuous fantasy – until seized upon by those who find it threatening or politically useful.
Perhaps unintentionally taking a page from the sex industry itself, opponents of sex work capitalize on the roving-sporting-sex workers-fantasy for their causes. Anti-prostitution charities, called in by the media as experts, enjoy increased visibility. Similarly, law enforcement can stoke fear to garner public support for crackdowns on sex work – and too often, by extension, on those who perform it.
Continue reading at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/feb/07/sex-work-super-bowl-myth
Women at the bottom half of the workforce face point-blank discrimination when they’re expecting
By E.J. Graff
Thursday, Feb 7, 2013
This article originally appeared on The American Prospect.
Having a family shouldn’t cost you your job. It does, again and again—especially if you’re female. Which is one of the reasons women’s pay still isn’t equal.
I’ll be writing about this in the months to come, but for today, here’s one way having a family can cost you your job: women still get fired for being pregnant. Although it’s been illegal since the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act, women are still refused a job or let go if they’re pregnant. You’d be shocked, EEOC and employment law folks tell me, at how often employers say so point-blank: Come back after you have the baby. The guys don’t want to look at a pregnant waitress. Housekeeping is hard work; your pregnancy is a potential liability. Our customers are uncomfortable with a pregnant driver.
All that’s illegal. It’s wonderful that we can talk about Sheryl Sandberg going home every day at 5:30 to be with her kids. And it’s wonderful that we can have the advanced conversation about women needing to stand up for themselves in their professional careers. But there’s a different set of issues for the bottom half of the workforce: basic, straightforward, illegal discrimination still hits them, over and over again. Women who are going to be rock-bottom poor, struggling to feed their children, if they lose their jobs for getting pregnant.
Here’s an excerpt from the testimony of Sharon Terman, of San Francisco’s Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center, to the EEOC last February:
Continue reading at: http://www.salon.com/2013/02/07/being_a_pregnant_waitress_can_get_you_fired_partner/
Time to end the police terrorism of minority communities.
By Tony Castro
Seven members of a L.A. sheriff’s deputies secret clique that prides itself on celebrating shootings of mostly Latino and black gang bangers have been notified they are about to be fired, according to officials.
The secret group known as the Jump Out Boys prides itself on aggressive policing, much of it in Latino communities, and brands its members with matching tattoos of a red-eyed oversized skull bearing the clique acronym and a bony hand holding a revolver.
Smoke is tattooed over the gun’s barrel for members who have been involved in at least one shooting.
L.A. sheriff’s department officers fired
Those seven officers aren’t being fired for any known criminal behavior but apparently for tarnishing the department’s reputation and unethical conduct at a time when it is struggling through a federal investigation.
As part of that growing investigation, a criminal grand jury recently subpoenaed materials about the Jump Out Boys and other deputy cliques.
The seven have been on an elite gang-enforcement team that patrols high violence neighborhoods.
See also Los Angeles Times:
The seven belong to a secret law enforcement clique that allegedly celebrated shootings and branded members with matching tattoos.
From The Progressive: http://www.progressive.org/new-report-exposes-republican-vote-rigging-schemes
By Ruth Conniff,
February 8, 2013
In an incendiary new report, “Rig the Vote: How a National Effort to Attack Voting Rights Landed in Wisconsin”, the Center for Media and Democracy and Citizen Action of Wisconsin Education Fund show how Republicans and rightwing groups across the country are working to undermine elections and ensure a Republican lock on electoral college votes in states that have historically voted Democratic.
Among the nefarious vote-rigging efforts explored in the report: Republicans hope to take their gerrymandered redistricting plans nationwide–changing the rules so that electoral votes in swing states are awarded based on Congressional districts, not popular vote totals.
This could guarantee that Republican candidates like Mitt Romney, even as they lose the popular vote, get enough electoral votes to become President against the will of the majority of American voters.
In 2010, Republican legislatures were able to redraw Congressional districts to heavily favor Republican candidates in states where the popular vote historically goes to Democrats.
Now, in Wisconsin, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and Florida, all of which went for Obama in 2012, Republican-controlled state legislatures are pushing forward plans to change the system to award electoral votes by Congressional district.
Continue reading at: http://www.progressive.org/new-report-exposes-republican-vote-rigging-schemes
Thought debtor prison ended in the 18th century? Think again.
By Alex Kane
February 3, 2013
Editor’s note: America has a long history of treating the poor like criminals, from legislation banning the transportation of poor people across state lines to anti-vagrancy laws that could land you in jail if you didn’t have a job or a home. We’ve come to rely on the criminal justice system to deal with the poor, even as more and more Americans fall into poverty. The following is part of a series that looks at the diverse ways poverty is criminalized in America, such as laws targeting the homeless, the surveillance of welfare recipients, the re-emergence of debtor’s prisons, and extreme policing tactics like stop-and-frisk.
Kawana Young, a single mother of two kids, was arrested in Michigan after failing to pay money she owed as a result of minor traffic offenses. She was recently laid off from her job, and could not pay the fees she owed because she couldn’t find another source of employment. So a judge sentenced her to three days in jail. In addition, Young was charged additional fees for being booked and for room and board for a place she did not want to be. In total, she has been jailed five times for being unable to pay her debts.
“It doesn’t make sense to jail people when they can’t pay because they definitely can’t pay while they’re in jail,” said Young.
Debtor prisons seem to belong in America’s past. But if you think the existence of prisons for people who can’t afford to pay their debts in the past, think again. Young’s ordeal, profiled in an American Civil Liberties Union report, began in 2005, after she was ticketed because she was driving without her license. It all came to a head in 2010, when Young was arrested because she did not pay off all of her debts from traffic violations. That arrest led to the judge ordering Young to jail due to her inability to pay off the money.
See also Salon:
Human Rights Watch finds hundreds of tenants face criminal charges when they fail to vacate
By Natasha Lennard
Friday, Feb 8, 2013
A report published this week by Human Rights Watch (HRW) explores a unique, punitive law in Arkansas that burns hundreds of beleaguered renters in the state every year. According to the 44-page report, “Pay the Rent or Face Arrest: Abusive Impacts of Arkansas’s Criminal Evictions Law,” Arkansas tenants have been “dragged into criminal court for transgressions that would not be a crime in any other U.S. state” under the failure-to-vacate law, which allows criminal charges to be brought against individuals late on rent payments who fail to vacate the rented property. Via HRW:
From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/02/09-7
When the greed, recklessness, and illegal behavior on Wall Street drove this country into the deepest recession since the 1930s, the largest financial institutions in the United States took every advantage of being American. They just loved their country – and the willingness of the American people to provide them with the largest bailout in world history. In 2008, Congress approved a $700 billion gift to Wall Street. Another $16 trillion in virtually zero interest
But just two years later, as soon as these giant financial institutions started making record-breaking profits again, they suddenly lost their love for their native country. At a time when the nation was suffering from a huge deficit, largely created by the recession that Wall Street caused, the major financial institutions did everything they could to avoid paying American taxes by establishing shell corporations in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens.
In 2010, Bank of America set up more than 200 subsidiaries in the Cayman Islands (which has a corporate tax rate of 0.0 percent) to avoid paying U.S. taxes. It worked. Not only did Bank of America pay nothing in federal income taxes, but it received a rebate from the IRS worth $1.9 billion that year. They are not alone. In 2010, JP Morgan Chase operated 83 subsidiaries incorporated in offshore tax havens to avoid paying some $4.9 billion in U.S. taxes. That same year Goldman Sachs operated 39 subsidiaries in offshore tax havens to avoid an estimated $3.3 billion in U.S. taxes. Citigroup has paid no federal income taxes for the last four years after receiving a total of $2.5 trillion in financial assistance from the Federal Reserve during the financial crisis.
Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/02/09-7
“Over a half-century ago, Mahatma Gandhi led a multitude of Indians to the sea to make salt in defiance of the British Empire’s monopoly on this resource critical to people’s diet. The action catalyzed the fragmented movement for Indian independence and was the beginning of the end for Britain’s rule over India. The act of ‘making salt’ has since been repeated many times in many forms by people’s movements seeking liberation, justice and sovereignty: César Chávez, Nelson Mandela, and the Zapatistas are just a few of the most prominent examples. Our food movement – one that spans the globe – seeks food sovereignty from the monopolies that dominate our food systems, with the complicity of our governments. We are powerful, creative, committed and diverse. It is our time to make salt.”
So began a statement from the People’s Movement Assembly on Food Sovereignty from the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit in 2010, which launched a national movement. So, too, begins a weekly blog series adapted from Other Worlds’ hot-off-the-press, 140-page book: Harvesting Justice: Transforming Food, Land, and Agriculture Systems in the Americas. The book is the result of five years of interviews and on-site research from throughout the hemisphere, describing strategies to win food justice and food sovereignty. It draws from more than 100 cutting-edge successes, grassroots alternatives, and inspiring models. An appendix offers hundreds of ways to get involved.
From community gardens to just global policy, a national and global movement is growing to reclaim food, land, and agricultural systems from agribusiness and put them back in the hands of citizens. A common thread links innovations and successes happening simultaneously around the globe: a vision of a society that values life and the earth over profit. In the U.S., the parts of the movement have often worked in isolation from each other, but in fact they are all pieces of an inseparable whole. Together, they address:
By Agence France-Presse
Sunday, February 10, 2013
“While I was travelling around in Africa, I was not only learning about the need to conserve chimpanzees, gorillas and bonobos, but I was also learning about many of the problems facing African people,” she added.
“I was learning more and more about the poverty and the ethnic violence and problems of that sort.”
The realisation that many of the problems faced by African populations stemmed from exploitation of natural resources, first in the colonial era and then by multinational companies, led her to realise “it’s also clearly important to travel in Europe and North America, and now increasingly in Asia,” she told those gathered to listen to her at the National Museum headquarters in Nairobi.
She spoke of the explosion in the planet’s human population, of the ever greater need for land, food and housing, and evoked the scarcity of water as well as global warming.
“When I first came to Africa and I flew over Kilimanjaro, even in the height of the summer there was a great cap of snow. The snows of Kilimanjaro,” she recalled.
“I just read the other day that we should rather be talking about the dusts of Kilimanjaro. That is just one signal and this is all around the world that the glaciers are melting,” she went on.
For Goodall, one of the world’s leading chimpanzee experts, “something has gone wrong” in the relationship between man and the planet.
“We’ve just been stealing, stealing, stealing from our children, and it’s shocking. But is it true that there’s nothing that can be done? No absolutely not,” she goes on, explaining how her latest project, Roots and Shoots, began.
The US secretary of state, John Kerry, steps into America’s biggest environmental controversy on Friday in his first meeting with a foreign minister since his swearing in.
Kerry’s meeting in Washington with Canadian foreign minister, John Baird, will almost certainly touch on the Keystone XL pipeline project: a symbol of dirty oil for environmentalists, a route to market for land-locked Alberta. “I have no doubt that subject will come up, as it always does with our Canadian counterparts,” the state department spokeswoman, Victoria Nuland, told reporters.
That puts Kerry in an awkward predicament, as both sides ratchet up the pressure over the project, intended to carry crude from the tar sands of Alberta to refineries on the Texas coast.
A veteran climate champion, who said his biggest regret after nearly 30 years in the Senate was the failure to pass a climate change law, Kerry in his new role as secretary of state may be the man who clears the way for the pipeline.
Kerry had a 15-minute telephone conversation with Baird at the weekend, and officials from the company building the pipeline, TransCanada Corp, visited officials at the state department on Thursday.
The project has been on hold for a year, after Obama rejected the pipeline’s original route across Nebraska. Now the pipeline has been re-routed, and the decision on the pipeline’s future has fallen to Kerry.
See also Tom Dispatch: Tomgram: Michael Klare, Will the Keystone XL Pipeline Go Down?
By Thom Hartmann
Saturday, 09 February 2013
Something interesting is happening in Australia.
A new study by the research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance has found that unsubsidized renewable energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels like coal and gas.
In fact, it’s a lot cheaper.
Data shows that wind farms in Australia can produce energy at AU$80/MWh. Meanwhile, coal plants are producing energy at AU$143/MWh and gas at AU$116/MWh.
Unlike the United States, where energy companies can pollute and have the costs (from illness to environmental degradation) picked up by the taxpayers, Australia has a carbon tax, which partially explains why renewables have a price advantage. But the data shows that even without the cost of carbon tax factored in; wind energy is still 14-cents cheaper than coal and 18-cents cheaper than gas.
And this is in a nation that relies more heavily on coal than any other industrialized nation in the world. But that coal reliance will soon change, as companies in Australia are quickly adopting new, cheaper renewable energies. As the study found, banks and lending institutions in Australia are now less and less likely to finance new coal plants, because they’ve simply become a bad investment.
And, while Australian wind is cheapest now, by 2020 – and maybe sooner – solar power will also be cheaper than coal and gas in Australia. The energy game is rapidly changing in that country.
Michael Liebrich, the chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, noted, “The perception that fossil fuels are cheap and renewables are expensive is now out of date.”
Well, here’s a news flash: That perception has been out of date for a while now – even right here in the United States.
Continue reading at: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/14445-a-new-manhattan-project