Los Angeles to San Onofre: “Not So Fast!”

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/04/27

by Harvey Wasserman

A unanimous Los Angeles City Council has demanded the Nuclear Regulatory Commission conduct extended investigations before any restart at the San Onofre atomic power plant.

)The move reflects a deep-rooted public opposition to resumed operations at reactors perched in a tsunami zone near earthquake faults that threaten all of southern California.

Meanwhile, yet another top-level atomic insider has told ABC News that San Onofre Units 2 and 3 are not safe to operate.

On April 23, LA’s eleven City Council members approved a resolution directing the NRC to “make no decision about restarting either San Onofre unit” until it conducts a “prudent, transparent and precautionary” investigation. The city wants “ample opportunity” for public comment and confirmation that “mandated repairs, replacements, or other actions” have been completed to guarantee the public safety.

California’s largest city thus joins Del Mar, Encinitas, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Mission Viejo, San Clemente, Santa Monica, Solana Beach, Vista, Berkeley, Fairfax and the San Diego Unified School District board in asking the NRC to take all steps necessary to guarantee the public safety. Some resolutions include the demand that the NRC make utility officials testify under oath in public before San Onofre might be allowed to go back on line.

The sentiment has been echoed by U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) who chairs the Senate committee that oversees the NRC. Boxer has been joined by Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) in questioning whether Southern California Edison knew steam generators being installed at San Onofre were faulty.

The new Mitsubishi generators cost some $770,000,000. But critical tubes began banging together and sprang leaks after less than a year of operations. As many as 17% of the plant’s 19,400 tubes may have been involved.

The reactors were shut in January, 2012. Edison has since billed ratepayers roughly a billion dollars for them, even though they’ve generated no electricity for more than a year. The utility says it needs the reactors’ power for the coming southern California summer, even though the region operated just fine last summer without them.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/04/27

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Arch Coal Denied Permission to Blow Up West Virginia Mountain

From Corp Watch:  http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=15835

by Puck Lo,
April 25th, 2013

A subsidiary of Arch Coal of St. Louis, Missouri, has been denied permission to dump nearly three billion cubic feet of dirt into local headwater streams after blowing up a mountain in West Virginia. The object was to extract coal from a project known as the Spruce No. 1 Surface Mine.

Arch Coal, the second largest coal producer in the U.S., sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2010 when the agency vetoed a mining permit that had been approved in 2006. The EPA said that new studies published since the permit had been issued showed potential harm to the area’s water quality.

A landmark decision issued Tuesday by the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the EPA was within its rights to revoke water permits after another agency had issuing them.

“This is a major milestone in the fight to end the destructive practice of mountaintop removal mining,” Mary Anne Hitt, Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign director, wrote. “Today’s ruling affirms EPA’s authority to ensure the safety of our waterways and the health of our communities, including by vetoing improper permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers.”

The damage from this project would be irreversible,” said Shawn Garvin, the Mid-Atlantic regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which has issued an order to stop the project. “EPA has a duty under the law to protect water quality and safeguard the people who rely on these waters for drinking, fishing and swimming.”

Mountaintop Coal Removal

What Arch Coal was proposing is a relatively new technology called mountaintop coal removal which has often been described as “strip mining on steroids.” Forests are razed and burned. Age-old rocks are blasted through. Giant, 20-story tall shovels and bulldozers tear into the remaining mountain, filling one 240-ton dump truck at a time. Once exposed, the embedded coal seams are carted off for processing.

The remaining rubble is dumped into surrounding valleys, submerging streams and rivers. Toxic chemicals used in the mining process, as well as naturally occurring minerals that are dangerous for wildlife and human consumption, leach out from the debris into the waterways. So far, at least 2,200 square miles (5,632 square kilometers) of the Appalachian mountain ranges have been obliterated, and 1,200 miles (1,920 kilometers) of streams have been buried, according to the EPA.

Continue reading at:  http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=15835

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Niece of Cuba’s Fidel Castro denied permission to pick up gay rights award in Philadelphia

From Gay Star News:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/niece-cubas-fidel-castro-denied-permission-pick-gay-rights-award-philadelphia260413

Equality Forum calls the visa denial ‘shocking’

By Greg Hernandez
26 April 2013

The niece of retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro has been denied a visa by the US State Department to travel to Philadelphia to accept an award for her work on behalf of gay rights.

Mariela Castro, director of Cuba’s National Center for Sex Education, is already in the US attending meetings in New York. But Cuban diplomats are prevented from traveling more than 25 miles from the United Nations without permission.

The Equality Forum, the group which was to give Castro the award on 4 May, called the visa denial ‘shocking.’

“Over the past 11 years, Equality Forum has invited leaders of the featured nation to attend. For those who needed a visa, all past visas have been approved,’ Executive Director Malcolm Lazin said in a statement.

He added: ‘It is shocking that our State Department would deny Ms. Castro travel to a civil rights summit – especially one held in the birthplace of our democracy that enshrines freedoms of speech and assembly.’

Lazin praised Castro for running the leading Cuban LGBT organization that offers support and services to LGBT youth and seniors, provides HIV and STD education and prevention, and combats homophobia.

‘These are shared values that deserve the right to be heard regardless of political systems,’ he said.

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Dear famous actresses: Your looks scare me

I’ve gotten so tired of Photoshop Plastic World that lately I’ve been shooting film because film is more real.

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/04/26/dear_famous_actress_your_plastic_face_freaks_me_out/

What have you all done to yourselves? I’ve loved you for decades, but your plastic features are freaking me out

Friday, Apr 26, 2013

Hey, lady. You, lady. Beloved celebrity of my generation, icon with a career spanning decades. I saw a story about you today and I was excited, because I’ve always been your fan. Then I looked at it. And I just want to know one thing. Girl, what the eff have you done to your face?

I’ve tried to ignore it. I’ve tried not to say anything. Not just to you, today, but to lots of female celebrities, for years. I want to believe that if you were to go out and get a tattoo that said “I LOVE CHEESE” across your forehead, I would support your right to do whatever makes you happy. And as someone who keeps a stock of hair color in her closet in case there’s ever a Feriapocalypse, and who doesn’t own an item of makeup or moisturizer that doesn’t boldly feature the word “youth” on the packaging, I’m not one to espouse growing older gracefully. I’d never sell anybody on the nobility of looking like you just stepped out of a Dorothea Lange photograph.

But I’m really beginning to wonder if you’ve considered whether you’re getting your money’s worth here. I imagine you’re pretty well off. Your residuals income alone must be generous, and you still work steadily — although you haven’t actually acted in a bit. So why do you look like a crazy person? I take that back. Like a crazy doll. One side of your face is visibly higher than the other. Your skin looks like it hasn’t seen blood flow in a few years. Your long, long eyelashes flutter all the way up to your eyebrows, which are located directly below your hairline. I’ll say this, though, you are smooth as hell. If you were going for Pennywise, but with a giant pair of knockers, mission accomplished.

I want you to know that whatever you think of your fans, I don’t expect you to look like you did 25 years ago — or even a decade ago. And I’m genuinely sorry that you have to live in a crappy, supermarket tabloid-saturated, gossipy website-overrun world in which Now and Then photos of stars who’ve had the temerity to not remain forever 18 are excoriated for it. I hate that the whole, “Look at her today! Remember when she was cute?” thing exists. It sucks out loud. And I cannot fathom what it is like to try to work in an industry that churns out lithe teenagers like a Lucy Ricardo chocolate factory.

But what I’d like somebody to tell you – and your plentiful frozen-faced costars of both sexes – is that the clearly tremendous amount of time and money and no doubt physical pain you have expended has not made you look younger. It has not made you look better. It has made you look hard and expressionless and, if I didn’t know better, as if you’d somehow managed to become a CGI replica of your former self. And I’ve really got to wonder if, living in your echo chamber of show business, you’ve sacrificed the original goal of looking good for this generic, truly weird end result of your extreme procedures.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/04/26/dear_famous_actress_your_plastic_face_freaks_me_out/

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Obama condemns ‘assault on women’s rights’ in Planned Parenthood speech

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/26/obama-planned-parenthood-womens-rights

President accuses US lawmakers of trying to ‘turn back the clock to the 1950s’ in attempt to limit abortion rights for women

in Washington
guardian.co.uk, Friday 26 April 2013

President Obama has accused US lawmakers of wanting to “turn back the clock to the 1950s” as he launched a spirited defence of abortion services currently under attack in several states and Congress.

Speaking at a national conference held by clinic operator Planned Parenthood, he described recent legislation in 42 states banning or severely limiting the right to choose a termination as an “assault on women’s rights”.

In unusually blunt language, Obama also said politicians were trying to turn Planned Parenthood “into a punching bag” by attempting to withdraw its federal funding.

“After decades of progress, there’s still those who want to turn back the clock to policies more suited to the 1950s than the 21st century,” he said. “And they’ve been involved in an orchestrated and historic effort to roll back basic rights when it comes to women’s health.”

The White House has previously tried to avoid being dragged in to the bitter debate on abortion rights, particularly at the state level, but the growing legislative backlash has sparked a renewed effort to shore up support among Democrats.

“Forty years after the supreme court affirmed a woman’s constitutional right to privacy, including the right to choose, we shouldn’t have to remind people that when it comes to a woman’s health, no politician should get to decide what’s best for you,” added Obama.

The president took the stage to a standing ovation from a crowd of about 1,000 mainly women attendees and was introduced by Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, who remarked that he was the first sitting president to ever address a Planned Parenthood group.

“Because of President Obama, being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition in America,” she added.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/26/obama-planned-parenthood-womens-rights

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The 1 Percent’s Solution

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/26/opinion/krugman-the-one-percents-solution.html?ref=opinion&_r=1&

Published: April 25, 2013

Economic debates rarely end with a T.K.O. But the great policy debate of recent years between Keynesians, who advocate sustaining and, indeed, increasing government spending in a depression, and austerians, who demand immediate spending cuts, comes close — at least in the world of ideas. At this point, the austerian position has imploded; not only have its predictions about the real world failed completely, but the academic research invoked to support that position has turned out to be riddled with errors, omissions and dubious statistics.

Yet two big questions remain. First, how did austerity doctrine become so influential in the first place? Second, will policy change at all now that crucial austerian claims have become fodder for late-night comics?

On the first question: the dominance of austerians in influential circles should disturb anyone who likes to believe that policy is based on, or even strongly influenced by, actual evidence. After all, the two main studies providing the alleged intellectual justification for austerity — Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna on “expansionary austerity” and Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff on the dangerous debt “threshold” at 90 percent of G.D.P. — faced withering criticism almost as soon as they came out.

And the studies did not hold up under scrutiny. By late 2010, the International Monetary Fund had reworked Alesina-Ardagna with better data and reversed their findings, while many economists raised fundamental questions about Reinhart-Rogoff long before we knew about the famous Excel error. Meanwhile, real-world events — stagnation in Ireland, the original poster child for austerity, falling interest rates in the United States, which was supposed to be facing an imminent fiscal crisis — quickly made nonsense of austerian predictions.

Yet austerity maintained and even strengthened its grip on elite opinion. Why?

Part of the answer surely lies in the widespread desire to see economics as a morality play, to make it a tale of excess and its consequences. We lived beyond our means, the story goes, and now we’re paying the inevitable price. Economists can explain ad nauseam that this is wrong, that the reason we have mass unemployment isn’t that we spent too much in the past but that we’re spending too little now, and that this problem can and should be solved. No matter; many people have a visceral sense that we sinned and must seek redemption through suffering — and neither economic argument nor the observation that the people now suffering aren’t at all the same people who sinned during the bubble years makes much of a dent.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/26/opinion/krugman-the-one-percents-solution.html?ref=opinion&_r=1&

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Radio host Papantonio: Anti-intellectualism ‘has become almost epidemic in America’

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/26/radio-host-papantonio-anti-intellectualism-has-become-epidemic-in-america/

By Arturo Garcia
Friday, April 26, 2013

Progressive radio host Mike Papantonio sang the praises of author Susan Jacoby on his radio show on Friday, echoing the theme of her 2008 book The Age of American Unreason in saying, “Anti-intellectualism and anti-rationalism have become almost epidemic in America,” and saying the only hesitation one should have in reading the book is how scary her findings are.

“Chances are, if you are one of those corporate media-following bone heads who still believe that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq, or Saddam Hussein blew up the Twin Towers, or Obama is a secret Muslim, or Obama wants to take your guns, or Obama has FEMA prison camps set up for Teabag Republicans, then search no further,” said Papantonio, who is also president of the National Trial Lawyer Association. “You truly are the undereducated, child-like, impressionable, irrational, dangerous cog in America’s political system that puts Democracy most at risk.”

In her book, Papantonio explained, Jacobs found that more than 40 percent of Americans under the age of 44 did not read a single book over the course of the previous year. And their concentration had deteriorated to the point that politicians needed to condense their messages into 8-second soundbytes to grab their attention, leading her to conclude that the country was now “ill with a powerful mutant strain of intertwined ignorance, anti-rationalism and anti-intellectualism,” compounded by schools’ increased emphasis on passing standardized tests instead of comprehensive education on subjects like civics and humanities.

Complete article at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/26/radio-host-papantonio-anti-intellectualism-has-become-epidemic-in-america/

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Here’s What Your Libertarian Paradise Looks Like

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Indiana wants to make exposing animal abuse illegal

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James Hansen: The One Thing We Should Be Doing to Prevent Catastrophic Climate Change

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/environment/james-hansen-one-thing-we-should-be-doing-prevent-catastrophic-climate-change

The country’s leading climatologist talks about what our future looks like if we continue along with business as usual — and what we could do to prevent catastrophe.

By Tara Lohan
April 24, 2013

It’s hard to imagine anyone who has done more to further our understanding of the impacts of climate change than Dr. James Hansen. After 46 years working a scientist and climatogolist for NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Hansen wasn’t content to simply catalog the dangers facing humanity and our planet — he has been ringing the alarm bell. “On a blistering June day in 1988 he was called before a Congressional committee and testified that human-induced global warming had begun,” the New York Times wrote in a recent story about Hansen. “Speaking to reporters afterward in his flat Midwestern accent, he uttered a sentence that would appear in news reports across the land: ‘It is time to stop waffling so much and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here.’”

Over the next several decades as scientific evidence poured in about the threats from climate change, and as governments — including the U.S. — failed to take any meaningful action, Hansen stepped out of the lab and into the media spotlight. He has participated in climate change protests, including being arrested several times, and has been outspoken about urging the Obama administration to kill the Keystone XL pipeline proposal. He warned that building the pipeline would mean “game over” for the climate.

This week Hansen was awarded the 2013 Ridenhour Prize for Courage from the Fertel Foundation and the Nation Institute. Ridenhour prizes are named in honor of the late Ron Ridenhour, who blew the whistle on the My Lai massacre in the Vietnam War and went on to become an award-winning investigative journalist.

At a moment when a debate is raging about the treatment of whistleblowers, the Ridenhour Prizes recognize those who put their lives on the line to challenge the status quo,” said Randy Fertel, founder of the Fertel Foundation, which co-sponsors the prizes. “The 2013 winners represent voices who have come forward to speak truth on the most defining issues of our time.”

Hansen recently announced that he is stepping down from his post at NASA. He talked to AlterNet about what he plans to do next, what may be in store for our future, and the most important thing we can do to prevent catastrophic, runaway climate change.

Tara Lohan. First off, congratulations on your Ridenhour Prize for Courage. They selected you for your decades of hard work ringing the alarm bell about climate change. Does it get a little lonely out there for you?

James Hansen: Well, that is an interesting question I have never been asked before. I am a little surprised that the scientific community has allowed us to go so far down the line that it’s almost too late to avoid the rather substantial climate change and practical impacts. It was not surprising at all that the scientific community or at least many people in it objected to my testimony in the late 1980s and was illustrated so well by the article that Dick Kerr wrote in Science Magazine that was called “Hansen vs. the World on the Greenhouse Threat.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/environment/james-hansen-one-thing-we-should-be-doing-prevent-catastrophic-climate-change

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

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ENDA 2013: Everything You Need to Know

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mara-keisling/enda-2013_b_3149607.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices


The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) will be reintroduced today in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. People may have a lot of questions. Here, I hope, are the answers.

ENDA is a very simple bill. If passed into law, ENDA simply would make it illegal to discriminate in employment based on gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation. It is only about making sure that LGBT people have the opportunity to work and be judged on their merits. It exempts religious institutions and employers with fewer than 15 employees.

ENDA is absolutely transgender-inclusive. Yes. Absolutely. Unequivocally. And while the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and our allies will remain vigilant to make sure that “gender identity” remains in the bill until it passes, we just call it “ENDA” now rather than “inclusive ENDA,” because it isn’t ENDA if transgender people aren’t in it. For us, there’s now “ENDA” with us or nothing at all.

People are protected based on both gender identity and gender expression. The term that is used in ENDA is “gender identity,” but it is defined, as in previous years, to include gender expression. The definition provided in the bill is this: “The term ‘gender identity’ means the gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.”

What are the chances of it becoming law this year? To become law, the bill must be passed in the U.S. Senate and then in the House, and then it must be signed by President Obama. There is not the slightest doubt that the president would sign ENDA if it gets through both chambers. And the Senate looks favorable for us this year. And though a clear path through the House of Representatives is not yet obvious, it could be greased by a strong showing in the Senate. We have had great conversations with members of Congress, and we are convinced that this is a good year to make a strong effort. If we fall short, the effort still will move the ball forward so that we are in a better position in the next Congress.

There are small technical changes made to ENDA since it was last introduced in 2011. ENDA is being introduced in substantially the same form as it was in both 2009 and 2011, but there are some technical changes meant to reflect legal and other advancements that have occurred in ensuing years. The most significant change for transgender people is that we fought for and won removal of language that clarified use of showers and locker rooms “where being seen unclothed would be unavoidable.” None of the states that have passed and successfully implemented a gender identity anti-discrimination law includes such a provision, and neither should ENDA. NCTE will work tirelessly to make sure that members of Congress stay focused on the important and core issue of job discrimination and do not get sidetracked with extraneous and discriminatory issues like restroom use.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mara-keisling/enda-2013_b_3149607.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

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Pee Fear

From Tucson Weekly http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/pee-fear/Content?oid=3711643

April 25, 2013

When Republican John Kavanagh presented his strike-everything amendment to the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, March 20, it wasn’t the first time that Arizona’s transgender community had organized around bathroom issues.

The Appropriations Committee chairman’s amendment on who uses what bathroom packed a punch—a criminal charge obviously targeted at trans folks:

“A person commits disorderly conduct if the person intentionally enters a public restroom, bathroom, shower, bath, dressing room or locker room and a sign indicates that the room is for the exclusive use of persons of one sex and the person is not legally classified on the person’s birth certificate as a member of that sex.”

According to Tucson trans activists, Kavanagh’s “papers to pee,” is most likely retaliation against the city of Phoenix for expanding its anti-discrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, and people with disabilities.

When Kavanagh slipped his amendment into a bill regulating massage therapy, the trans community throughout the state, especially in Tucson and Phoenix, went into full organizing mode. Tucson activist and transwoman Abigail Jensen said Arizona has a history when it comes to trans people and bathrooms, even though for the most part the state has been a pretty good place for trans people.

In 2007, a transwoman was banned from a Scottsdale bar she regularly hung out at after someone complained of a man going into the women’s restroom. “It was a pretty big stink,” Jensen recalls, “but in the end there was a wonderful outcome.”

The owner agreed to lift the ban; he and his wife became good friends with the transwoman; legal action was dropped; and the owner agreed to put gender neutral signs on his restaurant’s bathrooms. He eventually opened a gay bar.

“That was the first kind of political organizing that happened, but since then there really hasn’t been an issue in Arizona,” Jensen says.

Kavanagh’s strike-everything didn’t budge, but with help from his friends he brought back a softer version, SB 1045, which is waiting for the House Rules Committee to review for constitutionality, “which obviously they never seem to do a very good job of … when you think of SB 1070,” Jensen says.

Continue reading at:  http://www.tucsonweekly.com/tucson/pee-fear/Content?oid=3711643

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Trans press victims take their case to parliament

From Gay Star News:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/trans-press-victims-take-their-case-parliament240413

Members of Parliament attend Trans Media Watch session on harassment and inaccurate reporting in the British press

By Tris Reid-Smith
24 April 2013

Transgender people have told top politicians of their bad experiences at the hands of the British press at a meeting in parliament.

The discussion was organized after the death of Lucy Meadows, a transgender school teacher who had been the subject of a critical news story and comment piece by columnist Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail, a leading UK tabloid.

Three trans victims of biased reporting spoke of their experiences at the meeting today (24 May), in one of the House of Commons committee rooms, attended by 13 Members of Parliament (MPs).

Teraina Hird, Delia Johnson and Dru Marland spoke of their experiences at the hands of the press, the stress caused and the fact the publicity almost led to one of them losing their job.

While trans media expert and GSN contributor, Jane Fae, spoke about the problems with the complaints process the press has in place, which makes resolving problems very difficult.

Fae told GSN: ‘It takes 20 minutes to put an inaccuracy into the press. It can take three months to get it taken out again.’

Helen Belcher, one of the meeting’s organizers from Trans Media Watch, who is also a GSN contributor, said tabloid newspapers the Daily Mail and The Sun ‘tend to get more mentions than any other’ but the problem went across the media – from specialist fashion press to local newspapers.

She told GSN: ‘What we wanted to do was to widen the debate and depersonalize it rather than to concentrate on Richard Littlejohn and Lucy Meadows.

‘The level of harassment Lucy faced and the level of misrepresentation and subsequent consequences are sadly not infrequent enough.

‘I think the idea that a trans group held a meeting like that in parliament and had front bench MPs, government ministers and people from across all parties in the Commons and even a member of the House of Lords attend shows the level of concern about this is widespread. Today is a busy day in parliament and people took time out at short notice to attend.’

Continue reading at:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/trans-press-victims-take-their-case-parliament240413

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Love is All You Need?

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Is there too much breast cancer “awareness”?

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/04/25/is_there_too_much_breast_cancer_awareness/

Yes, the world is a pinker place. But an author (and survivor) says we’re squandering time, money and resources


Facing the helplessness of disease – especially a disease that has a penchant for women, for our mothers and our friends and daughters – it feels good to go on the offensive. It feels good to believe we are somehow collectively “battling” it. It feels good enough, in fact, to have turned breast cancer into a big, Pepto Bismol-colored business, and to have driven unprecedented droves of women into prophylactic mastectomies.

Yet reality is far more complicated than a jaunty ribbon on a lapel or the hopeful promise of “early detection.” And the key to unlocking the secrets of a pernicious disease will not be found in a pink bottle of nail polish — or even, very likely, in radical defensive surgery.

That point is well-illustrated in author Peggy Orenstein’s blisteringly sensible cover story for the New York Times Magazine on “Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer.” (It will appear in print this weekend, but is on the Times’ site now.) Orenstein knows well the nightmare of breast cancer. She was diagnosed in 1996, at age 35. A decade and a half later, she was diagnosed again. And that span of time represents a massive shift in our cultural relationship with breast cancer – and a surprising new concern: what she calls “the dangers of overtreatment.”

As Orenstein writes, a mammogram like the one that first detected her cancer does “reduce, by a small percentage, the number of women who are told they have late-stage cancer, but it is far more likely to result in overdiagnosis and unnecessary treatment, including surgery, weeks of radiation and potentially toxic drugs.” Of particular interest to Orenstein are the 60,000 new diagnoses annually – roughly a quarter of them — of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). Also known as “Stage Zero,” DCIS is not cancer, just the presence of abnormal cells that could become cancer. Complicating matters is the fact that, as Orenstein notes, “There are at least four genetically distinct breast cancers,” and that “Mammograms, it turns out, are not so great at detecting the most lethal forms of disease.”

The presence of any unusual cells, of course, remains a big, scary red flag. And action has a more can-do appeal than wait-and-see. That’s likely why the same tremendous progress we’ve made in detection has led — and not necessarily helpfully —  to “a 188 percent jump between 1998 and 2005 among women given new diagnoses of DCIS in one breast … who opted to have both breasts removed just in case” and a stunning 150 percent rise among women with early-stage invasive disease. There’s a whole population of women who’ve gone under the knife for something that may well never have blossomed into a life-threatening condition.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/04/25/is_there_too_much_breast_cancer_awareness/

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Workers Organize to Fight the ‘Part-Timeification’ Trend at Juicy Couture, Other Chains

From RH Reality Check:  http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/04/21/workers-organize-to-fight-the-part-timeification-trend-at-juicy-couture-other-chains/

by Sheila Bapat
April 21, 2013

Workers at Juicy Couture clothing stores in New York City have recently alleged that the retailer is cutting employee hours to dodge health insurance costs resulting from the Affordable Care Act (ACA), making Juicy one of the latest employers to contribute to the “part-timeification” trend now popular in the restaurant, retail, and other sectors, a trend that disproportionately affects women. In response to this trend, employees are turning to new online tools to organize and fight for better benefits.

The Retail Action Project, which is helping organize the Juicy Couture workers, said the following in a statement:

“…employees … who work at Juicy’s flagship store have repeatedly complained that in February and March, all part-time associates’ hours were capped at 21 hours per week, and managers did not let workers know. Workers only found out [about the cap] when they asked why they had so few hours [and] asked for more. … Juicy workers qualify for paid time off only if they work 1,400 hours in one year. Part-time workers will never hit that total [working] just 21 hours/week, meaning that the vast majority of Juicy Couture’s retail workers will not ever get one single paid sick day, health insurance, or paid vacation.”

A representative from Juicy Couture told RH Reality Check that the company has “no such policy with regard to employee hours nor have any decisions been made about how to best manage ACA requirements” and that it is “still reviewing the ACA’s impact and how to best continue to provide meaningful benefits options to our managers and associates.” However, across the country, employers are choosing to cut worker hours in order to save money and dodge requirements in the ACA. The New York Times reported late last year about the “part-time life” that an increasing number of employees are living. In retail specifically, over the past two decades, many major retailers went from 70 to 80 percent of staff members being employed full-time to 70 percent being employed part-time. Just 21 percent of part-time workers in the industry are likely to receive benefits, compared to 65 percent of full-time workers.

Continue reading at:  http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2013/04/21/workers-organize-to-fight-the-part-timeification-trend-at-juicy-couture-other-chains/

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Running on empathy

From Waging Non-Violence:  http://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/running-on-empathy/

April 20, 2013

I started running after a bad break-up. With more than a decade of relationship over, there was a lot of uncertainty and questions. How to heal? How to hold on to friendships forged in our couplehood now that I was single? Who was I apart from this person? What next? What is my life about? Where would I live? What would I do? How could I turn anger and hurt into new possibility, direction and meaning? Incessant, pressing, urgent questions….

Step by step, breath by breath, mile by mile, the answers came. Or was it that what came was the space for these questions to hang? At first, reaching the end of my block seemed like a major accomplishment. Soon it was the edge of Red Hook, Brooklyn, where I was living. Then I ventured further — Prospect Park to the Manhattan Bridge and then over and then back, and then Central Park. I did not listen to music. I listened to my breath. I counted to 20 over and over and over again. I counted dogs and trees and parked cars. I prayed, and I asked my questions.

I trained for the Hartford half marathon in October 2009. I have a vivid memory of crossing mile nine in that race and thinking, “I have never run this far before in my life. I am here. I am doing this.” Crossing the finish line a while later, I broke down in tears. I was so proud of myself and so surprised. I was ready for my new life. I was done grieving what was gone and ready for what was next. The empty spaces had filled in with answers, and with new questions.

Running led me to the New York Catholic Worker and to the end of my job as a Senior Program Associate of the Arms and Security Initiative — a project of the New America Foundation. Running led me out of Brooklyn, out of old bad habits, into a new sense of mission and purpose and commitment to service and resistance. But, perhaps best of all, running led me into love.

My husband Patrick and I fell in love running. We restarted the War Resisters League Track Club. In the 1970s and 1980s, peace activist runners entered the Marine Marathon, the Army Ten Miler and other military sponsored runs wearing peace t-shirts and carrying banners (when they could). Bill Ofenlach, who ran the Army Ten Miler with the club in 1988 (and probably did pretty well), told me, “Long runs teach patience and are good preparation for a long vigil, physically and mentally. It is also a welcome relief from interminable meetings.”

Continue reading at:  http://wagingnonviolence.org/feature/running-on-empathy/

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Study: Belief in Free-Market Economics Linked to Distrust of Science

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/study-belief-free-market-economics-linked-distrust-science

Researchers also linked climate skepticism to general conspiracism.

By Steven Hsieh
April 22, 2013

People who support free-market economics are more likely to reject proven science, according to a study published in Psychological Science last month.

Examining 1,377 visitors to climate change denial blogs, researchers found that belief in a hands-off approach to economics predicted denial that human activity causes climate change, a fact accepted by 97 percent of scientists. The study’s authors—which include Stephan Lewandowsky of the University of Western Australia and Klaus Oberauer of the University of Zurich—noted that the anti-science movement is especially prevalent in the United States.

“The conspiracist ideation that all of the world’s scientific academies have conspired together to create a hoax known as global warming has found traction in American mainstream politics,” the study reads.

Many have reported on climate skepticism’s connection to big industry and the American right. Bolstered by prominent conservative think tanks, the climate change denying faction reaches high-ranking lawmakers who support deregulation and block movement toward a sustainable future. Perhaps most notorious is Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who penned a book calling climate change science The Greatest Hoax. But Inhofe, the ranking member of the Senate Environment Committee, represents just the most extreme in a legislative body that doesn’t acknowledge the urgency of our warming planet. According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, the 112 th Congress introduced more than 100 bills related to climate change, but only passed two.

Lewandowsky and his colleagues’ research also found supporters of right-wing economics tend to reject “other established scientific findings, such as the fact that HIV causes AIDs and that smoking causes lung cancer.” Additionally, researchers found a strong link between climate change deniers and conspiracists in general, such as the 9/11 “truthers” movement and those who believe NASA staged the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/study-belief-free-market-economics-linked-distrust-science

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Roundup, An Herbicide, Could Be Linked To Parkinson’s, Cancer And Other Health Issues, Study Shows

From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/25/roundup-herbicide-health-issues-disease_n_3156575.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false


Heavy use of the world’s most popular herbicide, Roundup, could be linked to a range of health problems and diseases, including Parkinson’s, infertility and cancers, according to a new study.

The peer-reviewed report, published last week in the scientific journal Entropy, said evidence indicates that residues of “glyphosate,” the chief ingredient in Roundup weed killer, which is sprayed over millions of acres of crops, has been found in food.

Those residues enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease, according to the report, authored by Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Anthony Samsel, a retired science consultant from Arthur D. Little, Inc. Samsel is a former private environmental government contractor as well as a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body,” the study says.

We “have hit upon something very important that needs to be taken seriously and further investigated,” Seneff said.

Environmentalists, consumer groups and plant scientists from several countries have warned that heavy use of glyphosate is causing problems for plants, people and animals.

The EPA is conducting a standard registration review of glyphosate and has set a deadline of 2015 for determining if glyphosate use should be limited. The study is among many comments submitted to the agency.

Monsanto is the developer of both Roundup herbicide and a suite of crops that are genetically altered to withstand being sprayed with the Roundup weed killer.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/25/roundup-herbicide-health-issues-disease_n_3156575.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

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