Exxon’s Arkansas Tar Sands Spill: The Tar Sands Name Game

From The Natural Resources Defense Council:  http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/aswift/exxons_arkansas_tar_sands_spil.html

Anthony Swift
April 2, 2013

As the American public becomes acquainted with images of tar sands flowing across lawns, driveways and streets of an Arkansas suburb near Little Rock (for video of the spill go here), Exxon is now making the claim that the crude spilled from its ruptured Pegasus pipeline isn’t technically tar sands. This attempt is reminiscent of the knots that Enbridge tied itself into to deny that the million gallons of tar sands it spilled into the Kalamazoo River weren’t actually tar sands. During that spill Kari Lydersen, a former Washington Post reporter covering the spill for OnEarth Magazine, helped break Enbridge CEO’s about-face,  when after denying that his company had spilled ‘tar sands” for two weeks, told the press:

“No, I haven’t said it’s not tar sand oil. What I indicated is that it was not what we have traditionally referred to as tar sands oil. … If it is part of the same geological formation, then I bow to that expert opinion. I’m not saying, ‘No, it’s not oil sands crude.’ It’s just not traditionally defined as that and viewed as that.” Enbridge CEO Patrick Daniel, August 12th, 2010

My colleague Josh Mogerman wrote in detail about Enbridge’s denial – and why the company tried to distance itself from the tar sands crude and the sigificant climate pollution associated with it. It seems that Exxon is borrowing Enbridge’s playbook in this case. Exxon has identified the crude spilled in Mayflower, Arkansas as Wabasca Heavy diluted bitumen. Now the company is making the case that the crude it spilled is not technically ‘tar sands.’ However, Exxon’s argument doesn’t stand close scrutiny. Let’s look at the key facts.

Continue reading at:  http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/aswift/exxons_arkansas_tar_sands_spil.html

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Swedish lawmakers: Sterilize transgender Swedes or risk new ‘third sex’

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/03/swedish-lawmakers-sterilize-transgender-swedes-or-risk-new-third-sex/

By David Edwards
Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Two Swedish members of Parliament are warning that the government must continue to sterilize transgender people or risk the advent of a “third gender” or “third sex” of humans.

The Local reported on Tuesday that two Christian Democrat MPs had offered a counter proposal to a government plan to remove requirements that transgender people must be sterilized before undergoing gender reassignment procedures.

“The [government] proposal would have far-reaching consequences,” conservative MPs Tuve Skånberg and Annelie Enochson wrote in an op-ed for the Christian newspaper Dagen. “The key consequence being that Sweden would introduce the possibility of creating a third gender, called ‘person’ in the law books – men who give birth.”

The Local noted that the current sterilization law was effectively unenforceable after a Stockholm administrative court ruled in December that the practice violated the European Convention on Human Rights.

And “patients who move on from the psychological evaluation and hormone therapy to undergoing gender reassignment surgery have faced de facto sterilization as their ovaries or testicles were removed in addition to the outer genitalia being taken away and, as far as possible, re-sculpted,” the report said.

But there are also a small number of Swedes who have chosen to keep their ability to reproduce after gender reassignment.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/03/swedish-lawmakers-sterilize-transgender-swedes-or-risk-new-third-sex/

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Malta: Transgender woman wins legal right to marry after government drops case

From Pink News UK:  http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/04/03/malta-transgender-woman-wins-legal-right-to-marry-after-government-drops-case/

3 April 2013

Campaigners have welcomed a decision to allow a transgender woman in Malta the right to marry.

Joanne Cassar, a 31-year-old hairdresser, began legal proceedings in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in 2011 after she was prevented from marrying on the island.

Although the case is still pending in Strasbourg, on Wednesday, the Maltese Government dropped its objection to Ms Cassar’s claim.

In a statement, Malta Gay Rights Movement (MGRM) and the Aditus Foundation said: “The right of transgender persons to marry was firmly established in a preceding case dating back to 2002 – Christine Goodwin vs. the United Kingdom – where the ECHR held that it ‘finds no justification for barring the transsexual from enjoying the right to marry under any circumstances.’

“We also welcome the (Malta) government’s pledge to promptly enact the required changes to the Civil Code to ensure recognition of transgender persons as persons of the acquired sex for all intents and purposes, including marriage.”

The statement added: “In addition we reiterate the need for a comprehensive Gender Identity Bill, as proposed by MGRM in 2010 – that would facilitate the gender recognition of transgender persons and safeguard their fundamental human rights, including the right to respect for privacy and family life as established in Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights.”

See Also Malta Times:  Jubilation greets transsexual marriage announcement

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GLAAD to present former US President Bill Clinton with Advocate for Change Award

From Gay Star News:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/glaad-present-former-us-president-bill-clinton-advocate-change-award030413

Clinton now calling for demise of DOMA which he signed into law in 1996

By Greg Hernandez
03 April 2013

Former US President Bill Clinton will be presented with the Advocate for Change Award at the GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles later this month for his recent work on behalf of marriage equality.

The award, to be presented at a star-studded gala on 20 April, could be seen as controversial to some since it is Clinton who signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law in 1996. He has since called for the law to be struck down.

Three years earlier, he also signed into law Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a policy that prevented gay and lesbian military personnel from serving openly. That law was repealed by congress in 2010.

‘President Clinton’s support of the LGBT community and recognition that DOMA, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, is unconstitutional and should be struck down shows that the political landscape continues to change in favor of LGBT equality,’ GLAAD’s Wilson Cruz said in a statement. ‘Leaders and allies like President Clinton are critical to moving our march for equality forward.’

GLAAD points out that in 2011, Clinton advocated for marriage equality in New York.

He stated then that ‘for more than a century, our Statue of Liberty has welcomed all kinds of people from all over the world yearning to be free. In the 21st century, I believe New York’s welcome must include marriage equality.’

Continue reading at:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/glaad-present-former-us-president-bill-clinton-advocate-change-award030413

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Too soon for equality?

From Socialist Worker:  http://socialistworker.org/2013/04/03/too-soon-for-equality

Much of the mainstream political establishment, including prominent Republicans, have come out in favor of marriage equality–but the New York Times still urges caution.

April 3, 2013

MILLIONS OF people are hoping that the U.S. Supreme Court will advance the cause of equality and strike down California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act when it decides on two major cases this spring. They understand that momentum has shifted to our side when all manner of mainstream politicians, including Republicans, are suddenly rushing to say that they now support the right of same-sex couples to marry.

But not everyone is so eager for a victory. In a recent article, the liberal New York Times warned that a decision in favor of marriage equality might, in fact, harm the cause of LGBT rights–because it could ignite a “culture war.”

As proof, the Times article cites Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that guaranteed a woman’s right to abortion. According to the article, the Roe ruling hurt the effort to win abortion rights in the long run–because it happened too quickly, before society was ready for it, and thereby set off a backlash. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a supporter of the Roe v. Wade decision, nevertheless told the Times: “It’s not that the judgment was wrong, but it moved too far, too fast.”

Now, the Times warns, history could repeat itself with a too-hasty legalization of same-sex marriage.

It’s hard to think of a better illustration of how the timidity of liberalism in the Obama era leads to compromises and concessions, even on issues where our side is winning.

This “don’t go too fast” way of thinking not only dismisses the sea change in public consciousness around same-sex marriage and LGBT rights generally, but it ignores the history of how significant social change happens in the first place.

The most important rights and reforms–particularly the civil rights of oppressed groups–come not from bargaining in the courts or begging in the halls of Congress, but from struggles starting at the grassroots that transform the social climate and make it impossible for the courts or Congress to continue to uphold injustice.

Less than 10 years ago, same-sex marriage was seen as a “wedge issue” that the Religious Right could manipulate at will. Today, polls show a rapid transformation of public opinion, as a majority of the population has come to recognize that there is something fundamentally discriminatory about same-sex couples being barred from the more than 1,000 rights that married couples have.

Continue reading at:  http://socialistworker.org/2013/04/03/too-soon-for-equality

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At What Point in Pregnancy Does a Woman’s Personhood End?

From Truth Out:  http://truth-out.org/news/item/15484-at-what-point-in-pregnancy-does-a-womans-personhood-end

By Laura Flanders
Tuesday, 02 April 2013

“I think the effort to restrict abortion has been a backlash, not just to the decision to end a pregnancy but the decision to treat women like full and equal participants in our society.” That’s the conclusion drawn by Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, after years of working with women who’ve been incarcerated on charges of feticide or fetal homicide

At work while pregnant? Driving? Working with chemicals or heavy loads? You better know the legal code, says Paltrow. In many states, if something were to happen to your pregnancy that could be traced to your behavior, you could find yourself dragged into jail under fetal protection or personhood laws.

Even progressive interviewers will talk about personhood measures as if their only impact is going to be on abortion, says Paltrow. In fact, “We are talking about the status of women and whether you can add fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses to the Constitution without subtracting pregnant women from it. You cannot.”

A case in point is Bei Bei Shuai, who has been incarcerated for more than a year facing charges of murder and attempted feticide in Indiana after she attempted to take her own life while she was in her third trimester of pregnancy.

“This is really is a national issue,” Paltrow told GRITtv.  “Will Indiana become a first state to declare a system of separate and unequal law for pregnant women, a new Jane Crow?”

The term is aptly chosen because the last time the United States saw an anti-abortion, pro-criminalization drive like this was in the bitterly divided years after the Civil War. At issue then (as now) were economic insecurity, racial anxiety, and a growing gap between rich and poor. Then and now, the assault on women’s rights was combined with an assault on workers’ rights and civil rights. Then as now, the drive to control women was fronted by a fight over access to abortion and birth control; it was about social control, democracy and economics. And then and now, wrapped up in it all was the curious question of “personhood.” (For more on the history, see this report on “Legitimate Rape, Sluts and Femi-Nazis” written for the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation last fall.)

Continue reading at:  http://truth-out.org/news/item/15484-at-what-point-in-pregnancy-does-a-womans-personhood-end

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Government Waste: DHS Documents Reveal Widespread Surveillance of Occupy Movement

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/occupy-wall-street/government-waste-dhs-documents-reveal-widespread-surveillance-occupy-movement

The Department tasked with preventing terrorism spent a lot of time and money monitoring “peaceful activists demonstrations.”

By Steven Hsieh
April 3, 2013

Federal documents reveal the Department of Homeland Security conducted daily monitoring of peaceful Occupy protests and encampments in 2011.

The memos, obtained by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) through FOIA, show that the DHS routinely observed “Occupy-type” protests, including those deemed “peaceful” by federal agents. In 252 pages of department exchanges, agents overwhelmingly report “uneventful,” “peaceful” and “orderly” demonstrations.

The Federal Protective Service, a division of DHS tasked with protecting federal buildings, handled a good portion of the Occupy beat. DHS ordered FPS agents to write “Daily Intelligence Briefings” noting several types of events, including “Peaceful Activist Demonstrations.” One FPS memo on a protest sponsored by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, proposed “To recognize the African slaves used to build Wall Street,” raised no indications that it would “be violent or that protestors will attempt to damage federal property.”

An email exchange shows DHS quickly jumped to see whether its agents were involved in clashes between police and protesters at Occupy Oakland. “Youtube has a lot of videos of the incident last night. Some of those videos show the exterior of the federal buildings but none which I found showed any of our personal,” reads one report.

PCJF says at least one document reveals that DHS conducted “off the books” intelligence gathering on the movement. “This meeting should be finishing up soon and I’ll have access to a non-DHS computer that will allow me to do more looking,” writes a DHS agent regarding the Occupy movement in New England.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/occupy-wall-street/government-waste-dhs-documents-reveal-widespread-surveillance-occupy-movement

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Food Inc.

Re-watched the documentary Food Inc. this evening on the local PBS.

I devote a portion of my blog daily to environmental issues because those issues impact all our lives.  No matter our race, class or sexuality/gender.

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Eating fish: it’s complicated

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/02/eating-fish-complicated

With all these tales of fishy labelling floating around, how can we tell the codliness or otherwise of our fish suppers?

guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 2 April 2013

Two stories today further complicate the already vexed issue of eating fish.

The first is the news, if you can call it that, that eating oily fish is good for us. As far as most fish-eaters are concerned this is not an earth-shattering revelation. For years we’ve known, or have at least been told, that mackerel, herring, sardines and so on are all good stuff. But now it seems that loading up on omega-3s can add 2.2 years to your life, cutting “the overall risk of dying by as much as 27%”, however that works.

Second up, and perhaps more significant, is the piscine challenge to the horsemeat scandal, with the discovery that fish counters and chippies are swimming with incorrectly labelled produce, including some fish that hadn’t previously entered the food chain.

The connection between the two is that for all the health benefits imparted by fish, eating them is becoming ever more of a headache. Let’s take the sainted mackerel, that sustainable, economical, plentiful, omega-3-rich, not to mention delicious specimen. Earlier this year we were told to control our mackerel-eating urges due to over-fishing. Never mind the (disputed) health benefits – mackerel should now be a rare treat.

And a trip to the chippie, once a haddock-or-cod affair, has now been muddled not only by dissenting voices about the ethics of eating cod, but also by the possibility that your simple fish supper consists of a frozen and air-freighted monster of the Mekong.

So where does one begin? Who do we trust?

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/02/eating-fish-complicated

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