Fear Not, Bill O’Reilly. Teenage Boys Aren’t Lining Up to Pretend They’re Girls.

From Slate:  http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2013/08/15/bill_o_reilly_transgender_law_the_pundit_argues_cisgender_men_are_duping.html

Posted Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013

Bill O’Reilly is really bent out of shape about a new California law granting transgender students the right to use facilities and participate in activities based on their gender identification and not the gender assigned to them at birth. His argument appears to boil down to two fears about young men going hog wild with their new power to cross over to the girls side: 1. They’re going to start joining girls’ athletic teams. 2. They’re going to start exploiting the wonderland of sexual opportunities that lurks behind the bathroom door labeled “Women.”

He called the new law the “biggest con in the world,” as if a bunch of cisgender young men got together and figured they’d dupe the stupid adults into letting them get into girls’ bathrooms. I wonder how far he’s taking this fantasy. Does he imagine a roomful of pimply 16-year-old boys, gathered for a meeting on the all-important topic of how to get into the same room as girls who are removing their pants? “We could maybe go on some dates with girls, develop relationships with them, and then maybe they’ll want to take their pants off in front of us,” one young man offers. “Nah,” another interrupts. “Too much trouble. Why don’t we all pretend that while we currently present as male, we actually feel that we’re better suited to be women, inform the school that we now identify as young women, and then we can go into a public restroom where girls are taking off their pants behind closed doors in stalls where we can’t see them.”

In general, O’Reilly seems to overrate the typical high school or junior high boy’s willingness to be considered “girly” at all, much less willing to identify as a girl. Oh sure, the idea that some young man who isn’t transgender in the slightest would decide to start wearing skirts and change his name from “Edward” to “Bella” so he could play basketball for the girls team after being deemed too short for the boys team makes perfect sense, if your entire understanding of how gender operates comes from teen sex movies from the 80s. In the real world, however, it’s safe to say that most young men would not be able to overcome the profound discomfort that comes from having to live your life as the wrong gender for something as simple as a basketball trophy. Indeed, the discomfort that comes from being asked to live as a gender that you don’t identify with is why laws like this are so critical; just as your typical teenage boy doesn’t want to wear dresses and play girls’ basketball, your typical transgender teen doesn’t want to live as the gender they don’t identify with just because mean old men like Bill O’Reilly get uptight about it.



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If you think Christians here are persecuted, you need to grow up

From The Los Angeles Times:  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-christian-persecution-20130815,0,4325438.story

By Michael McGough
August 15, 2013

The notion that religious freedom is under siege isn’t just an American preoccupation. Some Christian leaders in Britain also have sounded the alarm, prompting a pointed rejoinder from the former spiritual leader of the Church of England that also should be required reading for paranoid American religious conservatives.

Rowan Williams, who retired as Archbishop of Canterbury last year to return to academic life, said, “I am always very uneasy when people sometimes in this country or the United States talk about persecution of Christians, or rather, believers.”

Christians in Britain and the United States may fairly complain about being ridiculed, Williams acknowledged. But he contrasted that experience with the “murderous hostility” faced by Christians in other parts of the world.

“I think we are made to feel uncomfortable at times. We’re made to feel as if we’re idiots — perish the thought! But that kind of level of not being taken very seriously or being made fun of; I mean for goodness sake, grow up.”

To be fair, the U.S. Catholic bishops and others who have raised alarms about threats to religious freedom don’t talk only about rhetorical slights. For example, the bishops argue that when the government or the courts legalize same-sex civil marriage, “conflict results on a massive scale between the law and religious institutions and families…. Religious liberty is then threatened.” Really?

Legalization of same-sex marriage does create complications for churches that oppose homosexuality. For example, they might find themselves denied participation in government social programs that treat same-sex and opposite-sex couples the same. But that is hardly “conflict on a massive scale.” No one is going to force the Roman Catholic Church or any denomination to perform same-sex religious marriages. Nor is it likely that the church will lose its tax-exempt status because it opposes gay marriage (or contraception or female priests, for that matter).

Even when they don’t use the word “persecution,” some Christians use apocalyptic language to describe the supposed threat to religious liberty. In 2009, a group of Christian leaders, invoking the example of Martin Luther King Jr., reminded fellow believers that “Christianity has taught that civil disobedience is not only permitted but sometimes required,” and suggested that lawbreaking in a higher cause might be necessary because of legal abortion and gay rights.

Continue reading at:  http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-christian-persecution-20130815,0,4325438.story

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Is Having Only One Child the Key to Gender Equality?

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/keli-goff/is-having-only-one-child-_b_3752740.html


Ten years ago a New York Times article marked the beginning of a new chapter in the so-called “mommy wars.” The piece, which was so provocative it inspired a 60 Minutes segment, highlighted the number of highly educated, successful, Gen X career women who were choosing to “opt-out” and become stay-at-home mothers. Last week The Times caught up with some of those women. While there were some success stories — depending on a very fluid definition of success — there were some serious horror stories. The most horrifying of all to any woman who has ever grappled with whether leaving the workplace is a mistake, is the story of Sheilah O’Donnel, a woman who gave up a job earning half a million dollars a year to become a stay-at-home mother. Years later her marriage crumbled, leaving her struggling to get back on her feet financially and professionally with three children in tow.

Now, 10 years later, her advice to her own daughter is very different from the advice she gave 10 years ago when she sang the praises of full-time motherhood. “This is the perfect reason why you need to work. You don’t have to make a million dollars. You don’t have to have a wealthy lifestyle. You just always have to be able to at least earn enough so you can support yourself.”

But I couldn’t help wondering if there was another piece of advice that, while completely politically incorrect to say out loud, might have made all of the difference to her story, and could make all of the difference to her daughter’s future: have only one child.

The reason? Because all of the data shows that women who have fewer children end up better off financially, a message that feminist writer Linda Hirshman tried to convey when the initial story of the Gen-X Stay-at-home mom revolution came out 10 years ago. Though a mother herself, Hirshman was branded a child-hating, mother-hating, man-hating lunatic. Now a decade later, as a generation of women searches for the perfect compromise to balance their professional ambitions with their parental ones, Hirshman’s advice — have one child, not two or three — sounds quite sane, or at least more sane than the other options which seem to be either become financially dependent on your husband while raising a brood of children, or remain childless altogether.

When I caught up with Hirshman to ask if she was surprised to hear that a decade later some of these stay-at-home mothers were struggling, she said emphatically, “No. I’m not surprised.” She was sympathetic, however, because as she noted, “We keep telling women different things every 10 years. We tell them to work one decade, and then stay home another decade. Then we tell them to go back to work. They’ve failed if they work. They’ve failed if they stay home. But we don’t keep telling men different things. We tell men the same thing consistently.” But she added that she stands by something she told me in a previous interview, “The second child makes it more than twice as hard.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/keli-goff/is-having-only-one-child-_b_3752740.html

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Barry Cooper doesnt open the door

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The left and right are not similar: Another reality check

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/08/16/the_left_and_right_are_not_similar_another_reality_check/

As uncompromising Tea Partyers like Rand Paul run the GOP, real lefties like Bernie Sanders are often marginalized

Friday, Aug 16, 2013

That Tea Party conservatives aren’t much interested in compromise isn’t particularly surprising. But it’s striking to see the sentiment laid out in so many words, as a coalition of 20 Tea Party groups did in a letter urging Sen. Lamar Alexander, a fairly moderate Republican from Tennessee, to retire.

“Unfortunately, our great nation can no longer afford compromise and bipartisanship, two traits for which you have become famous,” the open letter reads. “America faces serious challenges and needs policymakers who will defend conservative values, not work with those who are actively undermining those values.”

It’s a remarkable statement. These activists aren’t saying that there are certain issues they hold dear and lines that must not be crossed, they’re saying that compromise in and of itself is unacceptable. Of course, compromise and bipartisanship are necessary to do anything in divided Congress, so these Tea Party groups aren’t just drawing a strong line, they’re categorically rejecting the importance of governing. Period.

The letter, which seems like a perfect distillation of the Tea Party at its most nihilistic, should underscore that any attempt to compare “the far right” to “the far left” is false equivalency. Throwing your hands up and “party polarization” on both sides is a cop-out, and an incorrect one.

Yes, both parties have become more polarized, but one more than the other. Republicans are more conservative than they have been in over 100 years, have fewer moderates than Democrats, and have changed more, political science research shows — and it’s only getting worse.

While 54 percent of Republicans told Pew last month that their party’s leaders in Washington should be more conservative, most Democrats — 57 percent — say their leaders should be more moderate. Just 35 percent of Democrats say the party should be more liberal.

“While the Democrats may have moved from their 40-yard line to their 25, the Republicans have gone from their 40 to somewhere behind their goal post,” Norm Ornstein of the conservative American Enterprise Institute and Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution wrote in a Washington Post Op-Ed on congressional disfunction titled “Let’s Just Say It: The Republicans Are the Problem.”

The current GOP is now well to the right of George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan and even Richard Nixon.

What about the activist progressive left, the functional opposite of the Tea Party? Does anyone on the left say compromise is inherently wrong? “Never. Nobody with any credibility says that,” said Charles Chamberlain, the executive director of Democracy for America, the lefty grass-roots activist group started by Howard Dean.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/08/16/the_left_and_right_are_not_similar_another_reality_check/

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Chomsky: The U.S. Behaves Nothing Like a Democracy, But You’ll Never Hear About It in Our ‘Free Press’

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/visions/chomsky-us-poses-number-threats-future-humanity-our-youll-never-hear-about-it-our-free-press

In a powerful speech, Chomsky lays out how the majority of US policies are practically opposite of what wide swathes of the public wants.

By Noam Chomsky
August 15, 2013

The following is a transcript of a recent speech delivered Noam Chomsky in Bonn, Germany, at DW Global Media Forum, Bonn, Germany. You can read more speeches by Chomsky here.

I’d like to comment on topics that I think should regularly be on the front pages but are not – and in many crucial cases are scarcely mentioned at all or are presented in ways that seem to me deceptive because they’re framed almost reflexively in terms of doctrines of the powerful.

In these comments I’ll focus primarily on the United States for several reasons: One, it’s the most important country in terms of its power and influence. Second, it’s the most advanced – not in its inherent character, but in the sense that because of its power, other societies tend to move in that direction. The third reason is just that I know it better. But I think what I say generalizes much more widely – at least to my knowledge, obviously there are some variations. So I’ll be concerned then with tendencies in American society and what they portend for the world, given American power.

American power is diminishing, as it has been in fact since its peak in 1945, but it’s still incomparable. And it’s dangerous. Obama’s remarkable global terror campaign and the limited, pathetic reaction to it in the West is one shocking example. And it is a campaign of international terrorism – by far the most extreme in the world. Those who harbor any doubts on that should read the report issued by Stanford University and New York University, and actually I’ll return to even more serious examples than international terrorism.

According to received doctrine, we live in capitalist democracies, which are the best possible system, despite some flaws. There’s been an interesting debate over the years about the relation between capitalism and democracy, for example, are they even compatible? I won’t be pursuing this because I’d like to discuss a different system – what we could call the “really existing capitalist democracy”, RECD for short, pronounced “wrecked” by accident. To begin with, how does RECD compare with democracy? Well that depends on what we mean by “democracy”. There are several versions of this. One, there is a kind of received version. It’s soaring rhetoric of the Obama variety, patriotic speeches, what children are taught in school, and so on. In the U.S. version, it’s government “of, by and for the people”. And it’s quite easy to compare that with RECD.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/visions/chomsky-us-poses-number-threats-future-humanity-our-youll-never-hear-about-it-our-free-press

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Walmart cuts sales forecast as consumers rein in spending

No matter ho cheap the cheap shit from China is, you still save more by not buying it unless you really need it.

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/aug/15/walmart-sales-forecast-consumer-spending

Retailer blames higher payroll taxes and fuel costs for consumers’ increased caution despite positive economic outlook

in New York
theguardian.com, Thursday 15 August 2013

Walmart dampened hopes of a widespread economic recovery Thursday as the world’s largest retailer reported lackluster sales for the last three months.

Sales grew slower than expected as the retailer said consumers reined in spending and traded down to lower-priced products. Wal-Mart cut its forecast for profits and sales for the year.

Profits rose slightly to $4.07bn in the quarter ending July 31 from $4.02bn a year earlier. But sales at US stores open at least a year – a key retail measure – fell 0.3%, their fifth consecutive decline. “The customer remains challenged,” Walmart US president Bill Simon said.

Chief financial officer Charles Holley said: “The retail environment remains challenging in the US and our international markets, as customers are cautious in their spending.”

Holley said higher payroll taxes, instituted in January, and high fuel prices had impacted spending. “Our expectations for the back half of the year are through a lens of cautious consumer spending,” he said.

The news comes in the same week that Kohl’s and Macy’s, the department store chains, posted disappointing results. Macy’s cut its full year forecast as chief financial officer Karen Hoguet blamed “the health of the consumer” for a slip in sales.

Complete article at:  http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/aug/15/walmart-sales-forecast-consumer-spending

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Is Sugar a Silent Killer?

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Texas Police Hit Organic Farm With Massive SWAT Raid

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/15/texas-swat-team-conducts-_n_3764951.html


A small organic farm in Arlington, Texas, was the target of a massive police action last week that included aerial surveillance, a SWAT raid and a 10-hour search.

Members of the local police raiding party had a search warrant for marijuana plants, which they failed to find at the Garden of Eden farm. But farm owners and residents who live on the property told a Dallas-Ft. Worth NBC station that the real reason for the law enforcement exercise appears to have been code enforcement. The police seized “17 blackberry bushes, 15 okra plants, 14 tomatillo plants … native grasses and sunflowers,” after holding residents inside at gunpoint for at least a half-hour, property owner Shellie Smith said in a statement. The raid lasted about 10 hours, she said.

Local authorities had cited the Garden of Eden in recent weeks for code violations, including “grass that was too tall, bushes growing too close to the street, a couch and piano in the yard, chopped wood that was not properly stacked, a piece of siding that was missing from the side of the house, and generally unclean premises,” Smith’s statement said. She said the police didn’t produce a warrant until two hours after the raid began, and officers shielded their name tags so they couldn’t be identified. According to ABC affiliate WFAA, resident Quinn Eaker was the only person arrested — for outstanding traffic violations.

The city of Arlington said in a statement that the code citations were issued to the farm following complaints by neighbors, who were “concerned that the conditions” at the farm “interfere with the useful enjoyment of their properties and are detrimental to property values and community appearance.” The police SWAT raid came after “the Arlington Police Department received a number of complaints that the same property owner was cultivating marijuana plants on the premises,” the city’s statement said. “No cultivated marijuana plants were located on the premises,” the statement acknowledged.

The raid on the Garden of Eden farm appears to be the latest example of police departments using SWAT teams and paramilitary tactics to enforce less serious crimes. A Fox television affiliate reported this week, for example, that police in St. Louis County, Mo., brought out the SWAT team to serve an administrative warrant. The report went on to explain that all felony warrants are served with a SWAT team, regardless whether the crime being alleged involves violence.

In recent years, SWAT teams have been called out to perform regulatory alcohol inspections at a bar in Manassas Park, Va.; to raid bars for suspected underage drinking in New Haven, Conn.; to perform license inspections at barbershops in Orlando, Fla.; and to raid a gay bar in Atlanta where police suspected customers and employees were having public sex. A federal investigation later found that Atlanta police had made up the allegations of public sex.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/15/texas-swat-team-conducts-_n_3764951.html

See Also:

Alternet: Police Destroy Organic Farm in Massive SWAT Team Raid

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Global Fail: Dropping ‘Oil in the Soil’ Plan, Ecuador Opens Biodiversity Hotspot to Oil Drilling

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/08/16-3

President Correa: “It was not charity that we sought from the international community, but co-responsibility in the face of climate change.”

Andrea Germanos

Ecuador announced it is opening an Amazonian nature preserve to oil drilling, abandoning a conservation plan of using international funds to leave the oil in the soil.

The preserve, the Yasuní national park, has been described as the most biodiverse place on Earth and is home to several indigenous tribes, as well as some 900 million barrels of heavy crude.

“The world has failed us,” President Rafael Correa said in a televised speech on Thursday. “It was not charity that we sought from the international community, but co-responsibility in the face of climate change.”

The conservation plan, known as the ITT initiative, “was widely seen as one of the boldest and most innovative approaches to conservation in the world,” the Guardian‘s Jonathan Watts writes, and would have prevented “more than 400m tonnes of carbon dioxide from going into the atmosphere, if half the $7.2bn value of the reserve could be raised by the international community by 2023.

Since the initiative was introduced in 2007, only $13.3 million has been raised.  Because of this, Correa said he had to make “one of the hardest decisions of my government.”

Correa has attempted to placate those furious with the plans for fossil fuel exploitation of the area saying that the oil operations will affect just 1% of the Yasuní.

Matt Finer, a scientist at the U.S.-based Center for International Environmental Law, told the Associated Press, “The Yasuní-ITT Initiative was the lone exception to the relentless expansion of hydrocarbon projects deeper into the most remote tracts of the western Amazon. Now there is really no viable alternative to stop the wave of drilling slated for the most biodiverse region of the world.”

About half of Ecuador’s oil goes to the United States.

Hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the presidential palace following Correa’s decision.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/08/16-3

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