The Politics of Private Manning

From Huffington Post:


I’ve written a lot about Bradley, now Chelsea, Manning over the past three-plus years since Manning’s arrest in May 2010. Straight new reports, opinion pieces, discursive mixes of the two. Manning arrested, Manning transported to U.S., Manning kept in solitary confinement, Manning awaiting charges and on and on.

These pieces have appeared in various publications, but I’ve reported on Manning for The Advocate throughout that period, most recently the day after the sentencing.

Glenn Greenwald at the Guardian, Alexis O’Brien at The Daily Beast and Kevin Gosztola at FireDogLake have followed and supported my writing on Manning, as I have theirs. I note this because they are three journalists whose writing about Manning has been most thorough. Greenwald, who broke the Edward Snowden story, brought Manning’s story to mainstream journalism. Gosztola and O’Brien reported on every aspect of the trial. But they’ve reported for the straight media; I’ve reported on Manning for the LGBT media.

I won’t — I can’t — pretend dispassion about Manning, nor a lack of bias. To me Manning was and is heroic. Every piece I’ve ever written about Manning has stipulated to that, either overtly or subtextually. What we learned as a nation because of the documents revealed by Manning meant we could no longer pretend America was innocent of aggression nor innocent of killing innocents. And as Daniel Ellsberg, who was himself arrested on the same charges as Manning in 1971, told me for a piece I did in February during Manning’s preliminary hearing, those revelations helped end the Iraq War, saving countless lives.

The three years since Manning’s arrest have been a shadow time, however, for this story. Manning rarely made the mainstream news. Even when the trial finally started after three years of detention, a trial that lasted two months followed by a sentencing hearing that lasted three weeks, most of the mainstream news media only covered the first day of trial and the verdict, a few high points and the sentencing itself.

But some of us were there throughout, doggedly reporting on each nuance, each new twist or turn. The long period with no charges, then the ridiculous overload of charges. A push to try Manning for treason. Hints at the death penalty. The preliminary hearing nearly three years after the arrest.

I wrote about the torture of Manning, the violations of the Geneva Convention, the way Manning was kept naked in a cell constantly lit, the morning searches (what can be hidden in a naked body?), the refusal to give Manning a pillow or a blanket for fear of… what? I wrote about how Manning had become less voluble as the solitary confinement began to do what it does to everyone-take its toll, make them a little crazy. I wrote about how, when asked at a press conference about Manning’s treatment, President Obama said he’d been told by the Pentagon that everything was fine, and that was enough for him.

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See also:

Huffington Post: Referring to Bradley Manning as He or She Is Not the Issue

LGBTQ Nation: CNN has no excuse for continuing to call Chelsea Manning a man

Fire Dog Lake: Thoughts On Chelsea Manning’s Coming Out

Towleroad: Transgender Former Navy SEAL Kristin Beck Blasts Chelsea Manning: ‘a Traitor to Me Personally’

Socialist Worker: Free Chelsea Manning now

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Transgender Workers at Greater Risk for Unemployment and Poverty

From The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

September 6, 2013

A new report released today offers the most comprehensive analysis to date of the inequities facing transgender workers in the American workforce — from finding and keeping good jobs, to having equal access to job-related benefits, to obtaining adequate health insurance coverage. A Broken Bargain for Transgender Workers is a companion to the recently released report, A Broken Bargain: Discrimination, Fewer Benefits, and More Taxes for LGBT Workers.

The report also offers specific recommendations for policymakers and employers to reduce and eliminate inequities for transgender workers and help restore America’s basic workplace bargain of fairness and equality. A Broken Bargain for Transgender Workers is co-authored by the Movement Advancement Project (MAP), the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), the Center for American Progress (CAP), and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), in partnership with Freedom to Work, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Out and Equal Workplace Advocates and SEIU.


Recent CAP polling shows that 73% of voters support protecting transgender people from discrimination in employment. Despite this strong public support, no federal law provides explicit legal protections for transgender workers based on gender identity/expression — and only 17 states and the District of Columbia offer these protections. As a result, transgender workers face higher rates of unemployment and are at greater risk of poverty.

A Broken Bargain for Transgender Workers reveals that:

  • Transgender workers report unemployment at twice the rate of the population as a whole (14% vs. 7% at the time the workers were surveyed).
  • More than four in 10 transgender people (44%) who are currently working are underemployed.
  • Transgender workers are nearly four times more likely than the population as a whole to have a household income of under $10,000 (15% vs. 4% at the time the workers were surveyed).

“This new report underscores the harsh reality of what it means to live and work as a transgender person in this country,” said Mara Keisling, Executive Director of NCTE. “Like other workers, transgender Americans deserve to be judged by our work and contributions and not by one aspect of who we are.”


“Unfair laws and policies impose real, everyday burdens on transgender workers across the country,” said Ineke Mushovic, Executive Director of MAP. “It’s shocking that in this day and age, federal non-discrimination law still does not explicitly protect a high-performing worker from being fired just because he or she is transgender.”

Among the burdens and inequities faced by transgender workers:

  • Pervasive Misunderstanding, Hiring Bias and On-The-Job Discrimination. Many Americans have very little understanding of what it means to be transgender. As a result, for transgender people seeking work, the entire job search and hiring process is full of challenges, particularly if a legal name or gender on an identity document (e.g., a driver’s license) does not match the outward appearance of the applicant. Once a transgender employee is hired, he or she may face many forms of harassment and discrimination, including denial of promotions or unfair firing.
  • Wage Inequities. In addition to job discrimination, transgender employees face wage disparities that make it harder for them to provide for themselves and their families.
  • Lack of Explicit Legal Protections. Transgender workers facing discrimination may seek recourse by filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The EEOC will work to mediate a settlement on the worker’s behalf and has done so successfully. However, EEOC rulings are not binding on private employers, furthering the need for explicit nondiscrimination protections for transgender workers under federal law.
  • Inability to Update Identity Documents. Intrusive and burdensome requirements can still make it difficult
  • Unequal Access to Health Insurance Benefits. Exclusions in health insurance often deny transgender workers access to both basic healthcare and transition-related care.
  • Denial of Personal Medical Leave. Employers may deny transgender workers leave for necessary transition-related care, incorrectly stating that such care does not constitute a “serious medical condition.” As a result, transgender employees may face a difficult choice: Put their jobs at risk to care for themselves, or make do without the necessary healthcare and put their health in jeopardy.

“Far too often, employers offer health benefits that do not provide the coverage and medical leave that are crucial to the wellbeing and security of transgender workers and their families,” said Winnie Stachelberg, Executive Vice President of External Affairs at CAP. “Workplace fairness means more than freedom from harassment; it means equal access to the benefits that transgender employees need to live healthy and productive lives.”

“Despite the progress made at the local, state, and federal levels, transgender Americans face workplace discrimination at alarming rates,” said Jeff Krehely, Vice President and Chief Foundation Officer at the Human Rights Campaign. “The EEOC’s recent decision in Holder v. Macy, which found that discrimination against transgender workers is prohibited since it is a form of sex-based discrimination, was important; however we have a ways to go until we are able to end the cycle of discrimination, unemployment, and underemployment of qualified workers who are willing and able to contribute to society in meaningful and productive ways.”


The Center for American Progress is a nonpartisan research and educational institute dedicated to promoting a strong, just and free America that ensures opportunity for all. We believe that Americans are bound together by a common commitment to these values and we aspire to ensure that our national policies reflect these values. We work to find progressive and pragmatic solutions to significant domestic and international problems and develop policy proposals that foster a government that is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

The Movement Advancement Project is an independent think tank that provides rigorous research, insight and analysis that help speed equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The National Center for Transgender Equality is a social justice organization dedicated to advancing the equality of transgender people through advocacy, collaboration and empowerment.


Freedom to Work

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force


Out & Equal Workplace Advocates

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California Legislature Passes Trans Birth Certificate Bill

From The Advocate:

Assembly Bill 1121, which would provide transgender Californians with a more streamlined process of changing their names and gender markers on birth certificates, passed by a vote of 56-18.

BY Daniel Reynolds
September 07 2013

A bill that would help facilitate legal name changes for transgender people was passed by the California State Legislature on Friday.

Authored by Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins, Assembly Bill 1121 passed by a vote of 56-18.

If signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, it will provide an easier and more inexpensive process for Californians seeking to change their name to correspond to their gender identity. The new system will also protect their privacy.

“Transgender people are entitled to have their official documents and their legal name reflect their true identity without a burdensome and expensive process that endangers their personal safety,” Atkins said in a recent statement. “I am hopeful that the governor will support this simple bill that will greatly enhance the lives of transgender Californians.”

Currently, a transgender person in California must seek a court order to obtain a name change. The change must also be published in the news, which may expose an individual to unwanted attention, as well as discrimination or abuse.

According to the Transgender Law Center, which co-sponsored the bill with Equality California, 44 percent of transgender people reported experiencing some form of discrimination, assault, or harassment in 2011.

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The U.S. news media selling the 2003 Iraq invasion eerily mirrors the media today on Syria

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Stopping Barry O’Bomber’s Rush to War

From Ralph Nader:

Ralph Nader
Sept. 6, 2013

Dear President Obama:

Little did your school boy chums in Hawaii, watching you race up and down the basketball court, know how prescient they were when they nicknamed you “Barry O’Bomber”.

Little did your fellow Harvard Law Review editors, who elected you to lead that venerable journal, ever imagine that you could be a president who chronically violates the Constitution, federal statutes, international treaties and the separation of power at depths equal to or beyond the George W. Bush regime.

Nor would many of the voters who elected you in 2008 have conceived that your foreign policy would rely so much on brute military force at the expense of systemically waging peace. Certainly, voters who knew your background as a child of third world countries, a community organizer, a scholar of constitutional law and a critic of the Bush/Cheney years, never would have expected you to favor the giant warfare state so pleasing to the military industrial complex.

Now, as if having learned nothing from the devastating and costly aftermaths of the military invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, you’re beating the combustible drums to attack Syria – a country that is no threat to the U.S. and is embroiled in complex civil wars under a brutal regime.

This time, however, you may have pushed for too many acts of War. Public opinion and sizable numbers of members of both parties in Congress are opposed. These lawmakers oppose bombing Syria in spite of your corralling the cowardly leaders of both parties in the Congress.

Thus far, your chief achievement on the Syrian front has been support for your position from al-Qaeda affiliates fighting in Syria, the pro-Israeli government lobby, AIPAC, your chief nemesis in Congress, House Speaker John Boehner, and Dick Cheney. This is quite a gathering and a telling commentary on your ecumenical talents. Assuming the veracity of your declarations regarding the regime’s resort to chemical warfare (first introduced into the Middle East by Winston Churchill’s Royal Air Force’s plastering of Iraqi tribesmen in the nineteen twenties), your motley support group is oblivious to the uncontrollable consequences that might stem from bombing Syria. One domestic consequence may be that Speaker Boehner expects to exact concessions from you on domestic issues before Congress in return for giving you such high visibility bipartisan cover.

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Obama Reframes Syria: Metaphor and War Revisited

From Huffington Post:


President Obama has reframed his position on Syria, adjusting the Red Line metaphor: It wasn’t his Red Line, not his responsibility for drawing it. It was the Red Line drawn by the world, by the international community — both legally by international treaty, and morally by universal revulsion against the use of poison gas by Assad. It was also America’s Red Line, imposed by America’s commitment to live up to such treaties.

The reframing fit his previous rationale for the Red Line: to uphold international treaties on weapons of mass destruction, both gas and nuclear weapons. By this logic, the Red Line therefore applies not just to Assad’s use of sarin, but potentially to Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.

The new version of the metaphorical policy has broad consequences, what I have called systemic causation (that goes beyond the immediate local situation) as opposed to direct causation (in this case applying just to the immediate case of Assad’s use of sarin).

Some will call the reframing cynical, a way to avoid responsibility for his first use of the Red Line metaphor. But President Obama’s reframing makes excellent sense from the perspective of his consistent policy of treaties and international norms, which he has said was the basis for the Red Line metaphor in the first place.

* * *

Metaphors can kill, as I wrote in my original Metaphor and War paper in 1991 on the eve of the Gulf War. Why can metaphors kill? Because metaphors in language are reflections of metaphorical thought that structures reasoning, and thus our actions, both in everyday life and in politics. In politics, they are rarely isolated. They usually come as part of a coherent system of concepts — usually a moral system.

The Red Line metaphor can stand a bit of linguistic analysis. The metaphor is based on a conceptual frame: “Drawing a line in the sand” means that the person who draws the line issues a threat to the person on the other side: you cross the line and I’ll hurt you. This frame presupposes another common conceptual metaphor: Performing A Kind of Action Is Being In A Bounded Location, and Changing a Kind of Action is Moving to a New Location.

Examples are “He pushed me into running for office” and “I stopped short of punching him in the nose.” The Red Line metaphor says that some actions are characterized as being located on one side of the line, and other actions are seen as being located on the other side. Switching from the first kind of action to the second is seen as crossing the line. The “red” in Red Line can stand either for danger: high alert, or for blood — the harm that will come from crossing the line will be bloody.

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Brutality of Syrian Rebels Posing Dilemma in West

From The New York Times:

Published: September 5, 2013

The Syrian rebels posed casually, standing over their prisoners with firearms pointed down at the shirtless and terrified men.

The prisoners, seven in all, were captured Syrian soldiers. Five were trussed, their backs marked with red welts. They kept their faces pressed to the dirt as the rebels’ commander recited a bitter revolutionary verse.

“For fifty years, they are companions to corruption,” he said. “We swear to the Lord of the Throne, that this is our oath: We will take revenge.”

The moment the poem ended, the commander, known as “the Uncle,” fired a bullet into the back of the first prisoner’s head. His gunmen followed suit, promptly killing all the men at their feet.

This scene, documented in a video smuggled out of Syria a few days ago by a former rebel who grew disgusted by the killings, offers a dark insight into how many rebels have adopted some of the same brutal and ruthless tactics as the regime they are trying to overthrow.

As the United States debates whether to support the Obama administration’s proposal that Syrian forces should be attacked for using chemical weapons against civilians, this video, shot in the spring of 2012, joins a growing body of evidence of an increasingly criminal environment populated by gangs of highwaymen, kidnappers and killers.

The video also offers a reminder of the foreign policy puzzle the United States faces in finding rebel allies as some members of Congress, including Senator John McCain, press for more robust military support for the opposition.

In the more than two years this civil war has carried on, a large part of the Syrian opposition has formed a loose command structure that has found support from several Arab nations, and, to a more limited degree, the West. Other elements of the opposition have assumed an extremist cast, and openly allied with Al Qaeda.

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Syria crisis: Kerry says west must not be ‘silent spectators to the slaughter’

From The Guardian UK:

Secretary of state visits Paris and says Obama is yet to decide whether US will delay possible air strike until after UN report, Saturday 7 September 2013

Barack Obama is keeping his options open and is yet to decide whether the US will delay possible military action against the Syrian government until after a United Nations report on the Assad regime’s alleged chemical weapons attack, John Kerry said on Saturday.

The US secretary of state travelled to Europe on Friday for a three-day visit, aiming to boost international backing for a possible strike in retaliation for the suspected use of chemical weapons in Damascus on 21 August.

Kerry addressed reporters in Paris alongside Laurent Fabius, France’s foreign minister. France has emerged as the US’s key ally as it attempts to persuade the international community to support action against Syria.

While European Union foreign ministers issued a strongly-worded statement on Saturday, condemning the attack and suggesting there is “strong evidence that the Syrian regime is responsible”, the EU said that military retaliation should not occur until the UN inspectors have delivered their report.

Kerry compared Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, to Saddam Hussein and Adolf Hitler, repeating his contentious claim, made earlier in the week, that the trio are the only leaders to have used chemical weapons since the Geneva Protocol against such methods was signed in 1925.

“This is our Munich moment. This is our chance to join together and pursue accountability over appeasement,” Kerry said on Saturday, in a reference to the Munich Agreement between Nazi Germany and Europe’s leading powers. He added: “This is not the time to be silent spectators to slaughter … this is not the time to allow a dictator unfettered use of some of the most heinous weapons on earth.”

Kerry insisted that intervention in Syria was vital to American security. He sought to assuage concerns that it could lead to a lengthy and difficult campaign by saying that any military action would be “targeted and limited but clear and effective” and would not involve “boots on the ground”. He said: “We are not talking about going to war, this is not Iraq and it’s not Afghanistan. It’s not even Libya or Kosovo.”

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It’s Not War, So Stop Saying That

From Truth-Out:

By William Rivers Pitt
Thursday, 05 September 2013

The towers are gone now, reduced to bloody rubble, along with all hopes for Peace in Our Time, in the United States or any other country. Make no mistake about it: We are At War now – with somebody – and we will stay At War with that mysterious Enemy for the rest of our lives.

– Hunter S. Thompson

John Boehner and Eric Cantor think attacking Syria is a great idea, and have encouraged all congressional Republicans to support President Obama in the upcoming vote to authorize such an action, though they don’t intend to actually whip votes or anything. John McCain was for attacking Syria, but against it, yet for it, but refused to vote for it unless his amendment making the resolution more fulsomely war-ish was added to the final text. Sheldon Adelson, the right-wing billionaire who spent $70 million trying to defeat Obama in the 2012 election, is firmly in the president’s corner when it comes to saving Syrian civilians by dropping bombs on them.

Boehner, Cantor, Adelson and Obama: if someone showed you a picture of them playing golf together, you’d think it was Photoshopped, because it’s just too deranged to be real. But there they are, all four of them, walking shoulder to shoulder towards the precipice of another Middle East conflict, with McCain as usual scurrying to keep up.

Secretary of State John Kerry made it abundantly clear during a congressional hearing on Tuesday that he is ready to ask someone to be the first to die for a mistake, and did so with a barrage of gibberish so vast that it bent the light in the hearing room.

He insisted with table-pounding vehemence that the president is not asking America to go to war by asking America to flip missiles and bombs into Syria, because it totally won’t seem like war to us. No one bothered to ask what it will seem like to the people on the receiving end of our non-war armaments. It won’t be like war, though, so stop saying that.

He declared that there will be “no boots on the ground” after saying it might be necessary, all the while not bothering to mention that “boots” are almost certainly already on the ground over there, in the form of Special Operations soldiers who are preparing the ground for whatever attack may come.

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Propaganda Terms in the Media and What They Mean – Noam Chomsky

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US stops jailed activist Barrett Brown from discussing leaks prosecution

From The Guardian UK:

Federal court order prohibits Brown from talking to the media in what critics say is latest in crackdown on investigative journalism

in New York, Wednesday 4 September 2013

A federal court in Dallas, Texas has imposed a gag order on the jailed activist-journalist Barrett Brown and his legal team that prevents them from talking to the media about his prosecution in which he faces up to 100 years in prison for alleged offences relating to his work exposing online surveillance.

The court order, imposed by the district court for the northern district of Texas at the request of the US government, prohibits the defendant and his defence team, as well as prosecutors, from making “any statement to members of any television, radio, newspaper, magazine, internet (including, but not limited to, bloggers), or other media organization about this case, other than matters of public interest.”

It goes on to warn Brown and his lawyers that “no person covered by this order shall circumvent its effect by actions that indirectly, but deliberately, bring about a violation of this order”.

According to Dell Cameron of Vice magazine, who attended the hearing, the government argued that the gag order was needed in order to protect Brown from prejudicing his right to a fair trial by making comments to reporters.

But media observers seen the hearing in the opposite light: as the latest in a succession of prosecutorial moves under the Obama administration to crack-down on investigative journalism, official leaking, hacking and online activism.

Brown’s lead defence attorney, Ahmed Ghappour, has countered in court filings, the most recent of which was lodged with the court Wednesday, that the government’s request for a gag order is unfounded as it is based on false accusations and misrepresentations.

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Greenwald: UK’s Detention of My Partner Was “Incredibly Menacing” Bid to Stop NSA Reports

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Global Power Project, Part 10: TransCanada Corporation, Kings of the Keystone Pipeline

From Truth Out:

By Andrew Gavin Marshall
Saturday, 07 September 2013

TransCanada Corporation describes itself as “a leader in the responsible development and reliable and safe operation of North American energy infrastructure.” Beginning in 2005, the company announced plans for the Keystone XL pipeline. In 2010, Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) approved the full pipeline project, stating that it was in the “public interest” to transport Canadian tar sands oil to the Gulf Coast in the United States.

If approved, the Keystone XL pipeline would transport oil from Alberta through six U.S. states: Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. Russ Girling, President and CEO of TransCanada, said the project would “improve U.S. energy security and reduce dependence on foreign oil from the Middle East and Venezuela.”

As opposition to the pipeline project increased — and dramatically so in the wake of BP’s 2010 Gulf oil spill — Girling stated, “There is no way we could have ever predicted that we would become the lightning rod for a debate around fossil fuels and the development of the Canadian oil sands…The pipeline itself is routine. It’s something we do every day. It will be a safe pipeline.”

Canada’s National Energy Board, however, said that TransCanada had failed to meet safety standards for its pipeline within Canada. While the company “considered itself compliant,” a former TransCanada employee blew the whistle on TransCanada’s “culture of noncompliance” of environmental and safety regulations that posed “significant public safety risks,” and referred to the company’s approach as “organized crime.”

In the United States, TransCanada has been suing American citizens who refuse to allow the pipeline to cross their property, threatening to confiscate their lands through the application of “eminent domain,” which allows for the confiscation of private property if “it is judged to serve a larger public good.”

The U.S. State Department was responsible for undertaking an “environmental assessment” of the pipeline to determine whether or not it would be approved. Declassified documents revealed an intense lobbying effort by TransCanada with the State Department, including several officials with the company holding multiple meetings with high-level State Department officials.

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US Farmers Continue David Vs. Goliath Battle Against Monsanto

From Common Dreams:

Group brings challenge to patents on Monsanto’s genetically engineered seed to Supreme Court


Andrea Germanos

A group of U.S. farmers is not giving up its fight against biotech giant Monsanto

In the latest step of a two and a half year legal battle, plaintiffs in Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) et al v. Monsanto asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Thrusday to hear their case challenging the patents on Monsanto’s genetically engineered seed.

The battle began in March 2011 when the farmers and seed companies brought a preemptive lawsuit against Monsanto to protect themselves from what they saw as unfair patent enforcement by Monsanto, whom they see as a “patent bully,” should the corporation’s genetically engineered seed contaminate the farmers’ crops. In other words, if these organic and conventional farmers are not using any Monsanto seed but their crops become contaminated (via wind, for example) with Monsanto seed, the farmers should not be slapped with a lawsuit by the corporation for patent infringement.  As we reported earlier:

Their case was dismissed in February 2012 by Federal Judge Naomi Buchwald, but attorney Dan Ravicher of the not-for-profit Public Patent Foundation [which is representing the plaintiffs] said, “The District Court erred when it denied the organic seed plaintiffs the right to seek protection from Monsanto’s patents.”

In July of 2012 the group filed an appeal to reverse the lower court’s decision…

In June of 2013, a three-judge panel at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit dealt the farmers a blow in dismissing the case.

The June ruling stated:

Because Monsanto has made binding assurances that it will not ‘take legal action against growers whose crops might inadvertently contain traces of Monsanto biotech genes (because, for example, some transgenic seed or pollen blew onto the grower’s land),’and appellants have not alleged any circumstances placing them beyond the scope of those assurances, we agree that there is no justiciable case or controversy,”

However, Reuters reported that “Monsanto has sued more than 100 farmers for patent infringement, winning judgments against farmers found to have made use of its seed without paying required royalties.”

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NOAA: Sandy-Like Flooding Now Twice As Likely Due to Climate Change

From Huffington Post:


WASHINGTON — A new analysis released Thursday of 12 extreme weather events in 2012 found “compelling evidence that human-caused change was a factor contributing to the event” in at least half of them, according to Thomas Karl, director of the Climatic Data Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The paper, which was published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, pulls together 19 studies on 12 separate weather events in the U.S. and around the world in 2012. Researchers looked at how climate change affected the amount of flooding that occurred due to Hurricane Sandy. They found that sea-level rise caused by climate change has nearly doubled the probability of flooding like that storm caused in many areas of the East Coast, when compared to the chance of such an event in 1950.

Heat waves and some heavy rainfall were also among the weather events that could be linked to climate change, according to the paper. Heat waves like those experienced in the spring and summer of 2012 are four times more likely to occur now because of climate change. And while there are other factors, like natural variability in climate, that can cause higher temperatures, a third of responsibility for the high temperatures the eastern U.S. saw in March and May 2012 were because of climate change, the paper found.

William Sweet, a sea level oceanographer with NOAA’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services, noted that an event like Sandy is still relatively rare. For example, the storm caused a record 8-foot storm surge in Sandy Hook, New Jersey. In 1950, one could have expected to see that kind of surge only once every 435 years. But due to climate change, you could expect to see that every 295 years, Sweet said.

Perhaps even more importantly, climate-fueled sea-level rise, coupled with natural land subsidence, will mean that even a smaller, weaker storm can now cause more damage. “A very small amount of surge then is required to flood to the same levels observed during Sandy,” Sweet said.

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