By Victoria Law
Friday, 30 August 2013
“I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible.” These were the words of Chelsea Manning, the day after she was sentenced to 35 years for leaking classified military documents. (Manning had been arrested, tried and sentenced in a military court as Bradley Manning.)
The military responded to Manning’s statement with its own: “The Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder.”
Manning likely will serve her sentence at Fort Leavenworth, the only military prison for those sentenced to ten or more years, a military spokesperson told The Associated Press. Fort Leavenworth is a men’s military prison in Kansas. As reported in Truthout, chances seem slim that Manning will be able to begin hormone therapy anytime soon. But what else awaits Chelsea Manning as she begins her 35-year sentence as the first openly trans woman at the US Detention Barracks (USDB) at Fort Leavenworth?
Access to Hormones in State and Federal Prisons and the Eighth Amendment
Manning attorney David E. Coombs has publicly stated that he hopes the military “would do the right thing” and provide hormone therapy for Manning. “If Fort Leavenworth does not, then I’m going to do everything in my power to make sure they are forced to do so.”
Coombs may be able to draw on legal precedents that have forced the federal and state prison systems to change policies about hormone treatment. After Wisconsin passed a 2005 law barring trans prisoners from receiving hormone therapy or sex reassignment surgery, advocacy groups sued the state on behalf of trans prisoners, some of whom had received hormones for years prior. In 2010, a federal court ruled that denying trans prisoners to hormones and other medical treatment violated the Eighth Amendment. The US Supreme Court affirmed that decision in 2011.
That same year, a settlement agreement forced the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which oversees the federal prison system, to change its policy to allow an individualized assessment, evaluation and treatment of prisoners for “gender identity disorder.” Before that, only people who had been diagnosed with “gender identity disorder” previously and were receiving documented hormone treatment were eligible for in-prison hormone therapy.
From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/08/30
The British Parliament’s rejection of an attack on Syria is a direct contrast—and implicit challenge—to the political war system of the United States.
“It is clear to me that the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action. I get that, and the government will act accordingly,” Prime Minister David Cameron said Thursday night. At least for now, Uncle Sam’s poodle is off the leash.
Now all eyes turn to Congress, where the bar has suddenly been raised. Can the House of Representatives measure up to the House of Commons?
It’s a crucial question—but President Obama intends to render it moot with unwavering contempt for the war authority of Congress. Like his predecessors.
Even with war votes on Capitol Hill, the charade quotient has been high. The Gulf War began in early 1991 after the Senate vote for war was close: 52 to 47. But, as the PBS “Frontline” program reported years later, President George H.W. Bush had a plan in place: if Congress voted against going to war, he’d ignore Congress.
“The president privately, with the most inner circle, made absolutely clear he was going to go forward with this action even if he were impeached,” said Robert Gates, who was deputy national security advisor. “The truth of the matter is that while public opinion and the voice of Congress was important to Bush, I believe it had no impact on his decision about what he would do. He was going to throw that son of a bitch [Saddam Hussein] out of Kuwait, regardless of whether the Congress or the public supported him.”
By the Pentagon’s estimate, the six weeks of the Gulf War took the lives of 100,000 Iraqi people. “It’s really not a number I’m terribly interested in,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Colin Powell, said at the time.
Eight years later, the War Powers Act’s 60-day deadline for congressional approval of U.S. warfare expired on May 25, 1999—but large-scale U.S. bombing of Yugoslavia continued. Bill Clinton was unable to get authorization from Congress but, like other wartime presidents before and since, he ignored the law that was passed in 1973 to constrain autocratic war-making. Republican Rep. Tom Campbell said: “The president is in violation of the law. That is clear.” Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich said: “The war continues unauthorized, without the consent of the governed.” And President Clinton said, in effect, I don’t care.
Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/08/30
By Mark Hosenball
WASHINGTON, Aug 30 (Reuters) – The British government has asked the New York Times to destroy copies of documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden related to the operations of the U.S. spy agency and its British partner, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), people familiar with the matter said.
The British request, made to Times executive editor Jill Abramson by a senior official at the British Embassy in Washington D.C., was greeted by Abramson with silence, according to the sources. British officials indicated they intended to follow up on their request later with the Times, but never did, one of the sources said.
On Friday, in a public statement, Alan Rusbridger, editor of the Guardian, said his newspaper, which had faced threats of possible legal action from British authorities, on July 20 had destroyed copies of leaked documents which it had received from Snowden.
Rusbridger said that two days later, on July 22, the Guardian informed British authorities that materials related to GCHQ had made their way to the New York Times and the independent investigative journalism group ProPublica.
Rusbridger said in his statement that it then took British authorities “more than three weeks before anyone from the British government contacted the New York Times.
“We understand the British Embassy in Washington met with the New York Times in mid-August – over three weeks after the Guardian’s material was destroyed in London. To date, no-one has contacted ProPublica, and there has been two weeks of further silence towards the New York Times from the government,” Rusbridger said.
By Bill Berkowitz
August 29, 2013
When it comes to being restored, re-ordained and returned to the pulpit after confessing to a four-year extramarital affair with a member of his congregation, Sam Hinn, the younger brother of well-known televangelist and faith healer Benny Hinn, may have set a new speed record for fallen evangelical leaders.
Older brother Benny is a big-time brand, squirrelling the spotlight for a good chunk of his professional life, and his ministry reels in extraordinary amounts of money. He’s traveled the globe, bought mansions, and has lived the good life. He’s also experienced a fair amount of controversy along the way; his prophesies have been way off the mark, including one made in 1989 that Fidel Castro wouldn’t outlast the 1990s; he was one of a group of televangelists whose financial shenanigans inspired an investigation by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa); and, two years ago, he was accused of being involved in a messy extramarital affair with Paula White—another well-known televangelist—an accusation that threatened his worldwide ministry. Hinn self-recovered and is back televangelizing.
Now, younger brother Sam, who compared to Benny is a minor figure in the world of evangelicals, is grabbing some kinky headlines of his own.
An affair made in heaven
“Chantel Wonder said [Sam] Hinn… initiated the affair with her mother by telling her they were ‘soul mates’ and that God approved of the relationship,” the Orlando Sentinel reported in January. It should be noted that one of Sam Hinn’s claims to fame is that he has a personal relationship with God, ergo Sam’s assurances to her that God had pre-approved the affair.
“He put her in a position that this is OK because it’s what God wants. He was using God to justify it.” Her mother is a hairstylist who eventually styled hair for Hinn’s wife and children.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, “Wonder said her father became aware of the affair in December 2008 after he found text and voice messages from Hinn on his wife’s phone. At the time, his wife denied the affair. The couple, who were married June 20, 1980, divorced on Feb. 14, 2012.
“Wonder said Hinn, who is married and has four children, continued the affair after her parents divorced. She said church officials confronted Hinn with evidence of the affair in December 2012, but he refused to admit he was involved with the woman.
By Bryce Covert
on August 30, 2013
The mental strain of living in poverty and thinking constantly about tight finances can drop a person’s IQ by as much as 13 percent, or about the equivalent of losing a night of sleep, according to a new study. It consumes so much mental energy that there is often little room to think about anything else, which leaves low-income people more susceptible to bad decisions.
One of the study’s authors, Harvard economist Sandhil Mullainathan, told the Washington Post, “Poverty is the equivalent of pulling an all-nighter. Picture yourself after an all-nighter. Being poor is like that every day.”
The researchers came to this conclusion after conducting two separate experiments. The first gave low- and moderate-income shoppers at a mall in New Jersey a number of tests that measure IQ and impulse control, but half of the participants were first given a question about finances: what they would do if they needed to make $1,500 worth of repairs on their car, putting financial concerns at the forefront of their minds. They found that it reduced cognitive performance among the poor participants but not those who are well-off.
The second experiment looked at the cognitive functions of farmers in India before the harvest, when they are poor, and after the harvest, when they have much more money. The same farmer performs lower on cognitive ability before than he does after — which researchers say “cannot be explained by differences in time available, nutrition, or work effort” nor by stress. Instead, it appears to be poverty reducing their mental capacity.
A past study came to a similar conclusion: It found that scarcity can sap mental capacity and lead to short-term decision-making over long-term considerations.
From The New York Times: http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/29/fast-food-workers-on-strike/?_r=3
By TERESA TRITCH
August 29, 2013
The fast food strikes that began last November in New York City with walkouts by 200 workers expanded and spread to other cities in the spring and summer. On Thursday, thousands of workers in 60 cities went on a one-day strike. The demands were the same, only amplified — higher pay, to $15 an hour, and the right to organize without retaliation.
There are many reasons to support the strikers. There’s the still resonant goal — expressed by those who marched on Washington 50 years ago — of ensuring that work leads to a decent standard of living. That’s not achievable at today’s federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, or at the typical wage for fast food workers, about $9.00 an hour. If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation over the past 50 years, it would be about $10 an hour today. If it had kept pace with the growth in average labor productivity, it would be about $17 an hour. Split the difference and you are not far from what the strikers are calling for.
Another reason to support the strikers is economic self-interest. The low wages of fast food workers — and of workers in retail, home care and other low-wage industries — force many of them onto food stamps and other public assistance to get by. Taxpayers step up with aid because employers don’t pay enough.
There’s also the fact that fast food corporations — McDonald’s, Yum Brands (which includes Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC), Wendy’s — can afford to pay more. The chief executives of McDonald’s and Yum are among the nation’s highest paid bosses. Wendy’s profits have been soaring lately. The corporations invariably say that individual franchisees set wages and franchisees say they can’t afford to pay more without raising prices, which they say would drive away customers and lead to job loss. But wages aren’t the franchisees’ only cost. They also pay rent and royalties to their corporate bosses. How about lowering those costs to create room for raises?
Of course such changes would lead to lower profits and that would translate into lower executive pay and lower shareholder returns. But we’re talking about big,profitable companies, which are big and profitable in part because they rely on underpaid labor.
Continue reading at: http://takingnote.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/29/fast-food-workers-on-strike/?_r=3
Welcome to the nuclear renaissance.
Entergy Corp, one of the largest nuclear-power producers in the US, issued a surprise press release Tuesday, saying it plans “to close and decommission its Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Vernon, Vermont. The station is expected to cease power production after its current fuel cycle and move to safe shutdown in the fourth quarter of 2014.” Although the press release came from the corporation, it was years of people’s protests and state legislative action that forced its closure. At the same time that activists celebrate this key defeat of nuclear power, officials in Japan admitted that radioactive leaks from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe are far worse than previously acknowledged.
“It took three years, but it was citizen pressure that got the state Senate to such a position”, nuclear-energy consultant Arnie Gundersen told me of Entergy’s announcement. He has coordinated projects at 70 nuclear plants around the country and now provides independent testimony on nuclear and radiation issues. He explained how the state of Vermont, in the first such action in the country, had banned the plant from operating beyond its original 40-year permit. Entergy was seeking a 20-year extension.
The legislature, in that 26-to-4 vote, said: ‘No, we’re not going to allow you to reapply. It’s over. You know, a deal’s a deal. We had a 40-year deal.’ Well, Entergy went to first the federal court here in Vermont and won, and then went to an appeals court in New York City and won again on the issue, as they framed it, that states have no authority to regulate safety.
Despite prevailing in the courts, Entergy bowed to public pressure.
Back in 2011, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, who called Entergy “a company that we found we can’t trust”, said on “Democracy Now!“: