Sandra Fluke ‘Strongly Considering’ Run For Henry Waxman’s Seat In Congress

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/30/sandra-fluke-congress-_n_4697696.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

By Posted: 01/30/2014

Sandra Fluke, the former Georgetown University Law student who became a national figure after conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh called her a “slut,” said Thursday that she is considering a run for Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D-Calif.) seat in the House of Representatives. Waxman announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of this session after 20 terms in Congress.

Fluke, who currently works as a social justice attorney in Los Angeles, said in a statement obtained by The Huffington Post that she is exploring a run for the seat, which lies in a safely Democratic district.

“I’m flattered that I’m being discussed as a potential candidate, especially for Rep. Waxman’s seat, considering his incredible legacy,” Fluke said. “A number of folks I respect very deeply have reached out today and encouraged me to run. I am strongly considering running. I’ll be making my decision soon.”

Fluke, who spoke at the Democratic National Convention in September of 2012, is a vocal proponent of reproductive rights. Limbaugh’s comments about her came in response to her advocacy for contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act.

On her personal website, Fluke writes that she’s “devoted her career to public interest advocacy for numerous social justice concerns, such as LGBTQ rights, worker rights, economic justice, immigrant rights, and international human rights, including focusing on the impact to communities of color.”

Hilary Rosen, a Democratic campaign consultant who works for SKDKnickerbocker, which handles Fluke’s press, tweeted Thursday that she thinks Fluke would make a good candidate.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/30/sandra-fluke-congress-_n_4697696.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

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Davis Says Critics Picked on “Wrong Texas Gal”

From The Texas Tribune:  http://www.texastribune.org/2014/01/28/davis-says-critics-picked-wrong-texas-gal/

by
Jan. 28, 2014

Saying she’d “had enough,” state Sen. Wendy Davis unloaded on Attorney General Greg Abbott on Tuesday night, blaming him and his allies for waging a smear campaign against her family and warning he had picked a fight with the “wrong Texas gal.”

Abbott’s campaign could not immediately be reached for comment. A day after the publication of a Dallas Morning News story questioning some of the details her personal story, Abbott campaign spokesman Matt Hirsch said Davis had “systematically, intentionally and repeatedly deceived Texans for years about her background, yet she expects voters to indulge her fanciful narrative.”

Davis’ remarks on Tuesday night were the most direct, personal and sustained criticism the Democratic candidate for governor has leveled at her expected Republican opponent so far.

“They know they cannot defend their public record,” Davis said of the attorney general and his allies. “So they’re attacking my private life.”

Davis was speaking at a boisterous, sold-out fundraiser for the Travis County Democratic Party, serving as keynote speaker at the Johnson-Bentsen-Richards dinner at the tony Four Seasons hotel in downtown Austin.

Davis, a state senator from Fort Worth, rose to prominence last summer after waging an 11-hour filibuster against a restrictive abortion bill. A few weeks later, she announced she was running for governor. Her celebrity helped her rake in millions and raised Democratic hopes that the party can win statewide office after nearly two decades in the wilderness.

But for the last 10 days, her campaign has been rocked by criticism about the way she characterized her early biography, which stressed her struggles as a single mother. Davis acknowledged she got a couple of details wrong, in particular the age at which she and her first husband divorced. It was 21, not 19, as she had previously stated.

On Tuesday night, Davis attempted to forcefully reclaim that narrative while criticizing Abbott on a range of policy issues and promising to change the direction of Texas, where Republicans control every statewide office and both houses of the Legislature.

Continue reading at:  http://www.texastribune.org/2014/01/28/davis-says-critics-picked-wrong-texas-gal/

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Climate scientist’s lawsuit could wipe out conservative National Review magazine

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/01/30/climate-scientists-lawsuit-could-wipe-out-conservative-national-review-magazine/

By David Ferguson
Thursday, January 30, 2014

The National Review magazine, longstanding house news organ of the establishment right, is facing a lawsuit that could shutter the publication permanently. According to The Week, a suit by a climate scientist threatens to bankrupt the already financially shaky publication and its website, the National Review Online (NRO).

Scientist Michael Mann is suing the Review over statements made by Canadian right-wing polemicist and occasional radio stand-in for Rush Limbaugh, Mark Steyn. Steyn was writing on the topic of climate change when he accused Mann of falsifying data and perpetuating intellectual fraud through his research.

Steyn went on to quote paid anti-climate science operative Rand Simberg — an employee of the right-wing think tank the Competitive Enterprise Institute — who compared Mann to Penn State’s convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky.

Mann, Simberg said, is “the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except that instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data.”

Mann sued for defamation. Steyn and the Review vowed to fight the suit, given that defamation is notoriously difficult to prove in court.

“My advice to poor Michael is to go away and bother someone else,” said Review editor Rich Lowry. “If he doesn’t have the good sense to do that, we look forward to teaching him a thing or two about the law and about how free debate works in a free country.”

As the case has played out, however, Lowry’s hubris has proven to be unwarranted.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/01/30/climate-scientists-lawsuit-could-wipe-out-conservative-national-review-magazine/

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Why the GOP’s civil war is only going to get uglier

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2014/01/30/the_gop_unrest_will_continue_as_long_as_its_bankrolled_by_the_libertarian_koch_brothers_partner/

Again, they misunderstand Econ 101 — and the ride they’re being taken on by the Tea Party and religious right


Thursday, Jan 30, 2014

When it comes to explaining complex political dynamics, the media tends to adopt simple narratives rather than sophisticated commentary. This has been particularly evident when examining coverage of the Republican Party’s ongoing civil war.

The battle for the heart and soul of the GOP is more than social conservatives parrying with establishment Republicans. It is a pantomime that has many actors performing on a number of stages, but with only one clown: libertarians.

Libertarians are a funny bunch. By funny I mean ignorant not only of basic economics but also the ride they’ve been taken on by the Christian Right and the neo-Confederates within the Republican Party.

Nullification is the common cause that drives this anti-establishment triumvirate. Nullification of the federal government is now the weapon of choice for theocrats, libertarians and white supremacists. Since 2010, state legislatures have put forward nearly 200 bills challenging federal laws its sponsors deem unconstitutional. Typically, laws the nullifiers believe challenge “religious liberty,” the Affordable Care Act and gun control.

Recently, Kansas signed into law the Second Amendment Protection Act, which prohibits the enforcement of federal laws regulating guns manufactured and used within the state. Missouri put forward a bill that would have allowed for the arrest of federal agents enforcing gun laws. Similar bills have been introduced in 37 other states.

Of course, the ACA has been a high-priority target for the nullification movement with more than 20 bills introduced in state legislatures to nullify the president’s healthcare law. The Hobby Lobby, with the backing of the right, is attempting to nullify the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate in the Supreme Court. A favorable ruling will mean privately owned businesses are free to discriminate against gays, women and anyone else on the basis of religious liberty.

A report published by Political Research Associates says, “The nullification movement’s ideology is rooted in reverence for states’ rights and a theocratic and neo-Confederate interpretation of U.S. history. And Ron Paul, who is often portrayed as a libertarian, is the engine behind the movement.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2014/01/30/the_gop_unrest_will_continue_as_long_as_its_bankrolled_by_the_libertarian_koch_brothers_partner/

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Pete Seeger: Beating Flagpoles into Ploughshares

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/01/29

by Michael Winship

Not only was it sad to hear the news this morning of Pete Seeger’s passing but startling to realize that it was 45 long years ago that we first met. It was in 1969, at Georgetown University, when I was a callow college freshman and he already was a legend among folk music lovers and political activists.

I knew his songs, had many of his records and played them all the time, especially a concert album with the great Bernice Johnson Reagon, founder of Sweet Honey in the Rock, and the Rev. Frederick Douglass Kirkpatrick, the Baptist minister in charge of folk culture for Dr. King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

There was another album I loved called “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy and Other Love Songs.” It wasn’t so much the folk music revival of the fifties and sixties that first drew me to Seeger, but that title song. “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” told the story of a captain ordering a platoon to cross a river despite his sergeant’s warning that the water was too deep and treacherous.

It was an explicit metaphor for the quagmire of Vietnam and the escalation policy of President Lyndon Johnson, each verse but the last ending with the bitter, “The big fool said to push on.” When Seeger first tried to sing it on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, CBS network executives censored it from the broadcast but relented under pressure and he returned to perform it in late February 1968; coincidentally, less than a month after the attacks of the Tet offensive took US forces in South Vietnam by surprise and radically changed American public opinion about the war.

In the years after, Seeger and his music would float in and out of my life like a warm summer breeze, that unique combination of laid back and earnest always in his light tenor voice. I’d see him from a distance or we’d talk backstage at concerts and rallies. That first time, at Georgetown, was the Friday afternoon before the massive Moratorium March on Washington on November 15, 1969. Kids from around the country had come to DC for the anti-Vietnam protest and Georgetown had reluctantly opened its dorms and other buildings so they’d have an indoor place to sleep, one of several times in those years that the school would become a de facto Day’s Inn for protesters.

One of the rooms that had been opened to we, the rabble, was a lecture space off the main campus at the foreign service school called the Hall of Nations — so named because the walls were lined with the national flags of UN members. That weekend, the university removed all the flags, apparently fearing theft, desecration or students from Vanderbilt or Ohio State huddled under the banner of Ethiopia for warmth. But they left the shiny metal flagpoles in place, each of which, for some unknown reason was sharpened at the top end to a fine point.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/01/29

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House Republicans Pass Sweeping Anti-Abortion Bill

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/28/no-taxpayer-funding-for-abortion-act_n_4681743.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003

01/28/2014

The House of Representatives passed a bundle of abortion restrictions Tuesday that would dramatically reduce the number of health insurance plans that cover the procedure. The vote was 227 to 188, with one lawmaker voting present

The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act (H.R. 7), sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), would prohibit insurance plans sold in the new health care exchanges from covering abortion, and it would eliminate tax benefits for small businesses that purchase insurance plans covering abortion. The bill would also prevent the District of Columbia from using its own locally raised funds to subsidize abortion care for low-income women.

Currently, more than 80 percent of private health insurance plans include abortion coverage, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research group.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) said after the vote, “This President promised that ‘under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions.’ We know now that was a lie, and this bill corrects his broken promise. We should not be taxing Americans and forcing them to fund a violation of their religious freedom. The passage of this bill today is one more step toward restoring respect for the sanctity of human life.”

In fact, the bill would not actually prevent federal taxpayer dollars from funding abortion because the Hyde Amendment has already done that for more than three decades.

Earlier this month, Democratic women lawmakers protested the bill in the hallway outside its House Judiciary Committee hearing. They pointed out that it would raise health care costs for women, drive insurance companies to drop a previously noncontroversial medical benefit and financially penalize small businesses. They also took issue with the fact that an all-male group of Republicans was pushing the bill through the legislative process with very little input from women.

“H.R. 7 is a reflection of a majority that is out of touch with the American people and struggling to understand fundamental truths about reproductive health — and we really mean struggle,” Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) said on the floor of the House. “This extreme legislation was originally sponsored by a man, originated from a subcommittee composed of 13 men, and was passed out of the Judiciary Committee with the votes of 21 Republican men. This has been the problem for a long time — men in blue suits and red ties determining what women can and should do when it comes to their own health.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/28/no-taxpayer-funding-for-abortion-act_n_4681743.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000003

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HRC endorses ‘champion for equality’ Wendy Davis for governor

From The Dallas Voice:  http://www.dallasvoice.com/hrc-endorses-champion-equality-wendy-davis-governor-10166472.html

29 Jan 2014

The nation’s largest LGBT advocacy group, the Human Rights Campaign, is endorsing state Sen. Wendy Davis in her gubernatorial bid, the organization announced Wednesday.

“Wendy Davis has been a champion for equality for all, whether it is the working poor or LGBT Texans,” HRC President Chad Griffin said. “Her dedication to the underdog and commitment to fairness for all Texas families make her the right choice for Governor.”

Davis has a proven record on LGBT issues in the state Legislature.

She authored the only LGBT-inclusive version of anti-bullying legislation in 2011. That same year she co-sponsored youth suicide prevention legislation and lobbied to kill an anti-transgender marriage bill.

Last year’s session was just as impressive with her co-authoring the Senate version of a statewide workplace nondiscrimination bill and co-authoring inclusive insurance nondiscrimination legislation. And when a different version of the anti-trans marriage bill came up, she was one of only two senators to vote against it.

HRC endorsed Davis because of her “stellar record on LGBT equality” and ” history of putting Texas’ families first,” compared to anti-gay Greg Abbott, her likely opponent in November.

“Wendy Davis’ energy and courage are needed in Austin,” said Julie Johnson, a Texas attorney and HRC board member emeritus. “I’m proud to be one of the tens of thousands of HRC members in Texas, and I know that Wendy will fight for all our families when elected. Wendy has proven herself an effective leader — and that’s exactly what the people of Texas need.”

But, surprisingly, she wasn’t connected to any of the three pieces of legislation dealing with marriage equality last year, HJR 77, HJR 78 and HB 1300. Davis has never made a public statement in support of marriage equality, and when asked by Dallas Voice during a press conference about how she would approach it as governor, she replied that she would leave it in the Legislature’s hands.

Complete article at:  http://www.dallasvoice.com/hrc-endorses-champion-equality-wendy-davis-governor-10166472.html

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YWCA Auckland – Demand Equal Pay

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4 reasons America is afraid of women with friends

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2014/01/29/4_reasons_americas_afraid_of_women_with_friends/

Wendy Davis is just the beginning — women who band together with other women threaten the status quo


Wednesday, Jan 29, 2014

Erick Erickson is back in the news announcing how proud he is of the moniker “Abortion Barbie,” which he slapped on Wendy Davis earlier this year.  As Jessica Luther eloquently explained, this is the ultimate example of “bad mother” narratives, tacked onto “lying bitch” and “gold-digger” stereotypes. Davis is, however, a particularly unpalatable package to her foes. It’s not only that sexist media outlets are fixated on her mothering in ways that fathering is not an issue for her male peers. No, what’s really challenging about Davis is that she is a public single woman with friends.

What conservatives would like everyone to forget as quickly as possible is moments like this: during Davis’ famous filibuster, state Sen. Leticia Van De Putte, surrounded by orange t-shirt clad supporters, asked, ”At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?” It was a rare public display of gender-based solidarity.  How incredibly pushy. And dangerous to the status quo, which is dedicated to policies that undermine efforts of women to act together and challenge systems intent on depriving them of their autonomy.

It’s not true that conservatives don’t like single women.  They love single women and, of course, mothers – if they are vulnerable, dependent, and ashamed, and if they know their place in the “natural” order.  If they are, in other words, isolated and dependent. The role of female friendship is even more important when you consider that single women, single mothers in particular, are often surrounded by other women who support them.   What conservatives cannot confront head on is that Davis is a single mother and visibly not isolated by that fact.  And she’s a public figure. Now, to make matters even worse, it is clear that she’s produced daughters who are like her.  Last night, Dru and Amber Davis publicly wrote letters refuting claims made in the most recent spate of  “bad mother” attacks on their mother.  Is there no end to the Davis women’s shamelessness?

Our brains are bombarded from birth by images and stories of male fraternity and solidarity. Whether it’s school hallways plastered with photos of past presidents, legions of elves and dwarves making their way through Middle Earth, every major animated film made by Pixar, or sports teams that represent their cities, most of our images of collective effort and fellow-feeling are male.

From the time our children can listen to stories, watch movies or pick up a tablet or turn on a radio we ply them with stories that suppress representations of women as friends, as united, and as supportive of one another’s efforts or as heroic.  There are some exceptions, of course, but there is no getting around the avalanche of facts attesting to the marginalization of images of female friendship. A few representative examples:

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2014/01/29/4_reasons_americas_afraid_of_women_with_friends/

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Flying Solo: A Transgender Widow Fights Discrimination

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Know the Enemy: John Boehner: ‘No Way’ ENDA Will Pass This Year

From The Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/politics/politicians/2014/01/30/john-boehner-no-way-enda-will-pass-year

The House speaker drew a hard line on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in a first-time meeting with the LGBT Equality Caucus.

BY Daniel Reynolds
January 30 2014

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act has no likelihood of passing this year, says John Boehner.

The House speaker told the LGBT Equality Caucus that there was “no way” ENDA would pass, during his first-ever meeting with the group of lawmakers last week.

Rep. Mark Takano, a gay congressman and cochair of the caucus, related the exchange Tuesday to the Washington Blade after President Obama’s State of the Union address.

“A number of us did meet with, actually the caucus met with Speaker Boehner,” Takano said. “He said no way was it going to get done in this session.”

However, Takano classified the conference between the Republican speaker and the caucus, a group of over 100 lawmakers seeking LGBT equality, as “a historic sort of meeting.”

Boehner’s remarks reveal that he will most likely not schedule ENDA, which would provide antidiscrimination protections for LGBT workers nationwide, for a vote on the House floor in 2014. Last April the act had easily passed in the Senate with a vote of 64-32. But in November Boehner had voiced his belief that ENDA was “unnecessary.”

“I am opposed to discrimination of any kind in the workplace or anyplace else, but I think this legislation … is unnecessary and would provide a basis for frivolous lawsuits,” he said in a press conference that month. “People are already protected in the workplace.”

Many LGBT activists and organizations have expressed disappointment that Obama had not announced direct action in his Tuesday address. The president has the power to issue an executive order that would offere the protections of ENDA to federal contractors, a group comprising roughly 20 of the American workforce. He had promised to make such an executive order during his 2008 presidential campaign.

Continue reading at:  http://www.advocate.com/politics/politicians/2014/01/30/john-boehner-no-way-enda-will-pass-year

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Sunday, Bloody Sunday: The Bogside Massacre: January 30, 1972

From Wikipedia:

Bloody Sunday (Irish: Domhnach na Fola)[1][2]—sometimes called the Bogside Massacre[3]—was an incident on 30 January 1972 in the Bogside area of Derry, Northern Ireland, in which 26 civil-rights protesters and bystanders were shot by soldiers of the British Army. Thirteen males, seven of whom were teenagers, died immediately or soon after, while the death of another man four-and-a-half months later was attributed to the injuries he received on that day. Two protesters were also injured when they were run down by army vehicles.[4] Five of those wounded were shot in the back.[5] The incident occurred during a Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association march; the soldiers involved were members of the First Battalion of the Parachute Regiment (1 Para).[6]

Two investigations have been held by the British government. The Widgery Tribunal, held in the immediate aftermath of the event, largely cleared the soldiers and British authorities of blame—Widgery described the soldiers’ shooting as “bordering on the reckless”—but was widely criticised as a “whitewash“.[7][8][9] The Saville Inquiry, chaired by Lord Saville of Newdigate, was established in 1998 to reinvestigate the events. Following a 12-year inquiry, Saville’s report was made public on 15 June 2010, and contained findings of fault that could re-open the controversy, and potentially lead to criminal investigations for some soldiers involved in the killings.[10] The report found that all of those shot were unarmed, and that the killings were both “unjustified and unjustifiable.” On the publication of the Saville report the British prime minister, David Cameron, made a formal apology on behalf of the United Kingdom.[11]

The Provisional Irish Republican Army‘s (IRA) campaign against the partition of Ireland had begun in the two years prior to Bloody Sunday, but public perceptions of the day boosted the status of, and recruitment into, the organisation enormously.[12] Bloody Sunday remains among the most significant events in the Troubles of Northern Ireland, chiefly because those who died were shot by the British army rather than paramilitaries, in full view of the public and the press.[3]

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The Great Lakes Go Dry: How One-Fifth Of The World’s Fresh Water Is Dwindling Away

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/01/28/3193301/climate-change-draining-great-lakes/

By Joanna M. Foster
on January 28, 2014

The frozen opalescent lake and thin, gray sky fade together into white light where the horizon should be. Tall, skeletal grasses shiver on the beach in a wind that makes any sliver of exposed skin burn. The Arni J. Richter, an icebreaking ferry, is about to pull away from Northport Pier for its second and final trip of the day to Washington Island. It’s loaded with food and fuel for the more than 700 hardy residents who call the remote island, just north of Door County peninsula in Wisconsin, home.

People have lived on Washington Island for over 160 years. They’re proud of their tight-knit community and their Icelandic heritage. But life on the island is threatened. For the past 15 years, islanders have watched Lake Michigan slowly disappear. Last January, the lake hit a record low, 29 inches below the long-term average as measured since 1918. The Richter Ferry was just inches away from grounding in some spots along its increasingly treacherous six-mile route to the island.

The Great Lakes, which contain one-fifth of the world’s above-ground fresh water supply, are sometimes referred to as America’s “northern coast.” As communities along the rest of the nation’s shorelines brace for rising waters brought by climate change, however, and spend billions on replacing sand swept out to sea in storms, the communities of the Great Lakes find themselves with more and more sand and less and less water.

“The island depends on the ferry for everything,” said Hoyt Purinton, President and Captain of the Washington Island Ferry Line and great grandson of the ferry’s first captain. “If the ferry can’t get to the island, the island won’t survive. Even if you could find another way to get food and fuel over there, if there’s no easy way for tourists to make the trip, the fragile island economy dies and the community and culture goes with it.”

As the lake retreats, some people blame the Army Corps of Engineers for dredging projects that widen channels leading out of Lake Michigan. Others wonder if the watershed can no longer support the 40 million people in the U.S. and Canada who now rely on the lakes for their drinking water.

Continue reading at:   http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/01/28/3193301/climate-change-draining-great-lakes/

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“Our Food Is Dishonestly Priced”: Michael Pollan on the Food Movement’s Next Goal of Justice for Food Workers

From Truth Out:  http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/21403-our-food-is-dishonestly-priced-michael-pollan-on-the-food-movements-next-goal-of-justice-for-food-workers

By Amy B Dean
Sunday, 26 January 2014

Industry plays up the image of the food snob to keep us divided, but the stereotype hides a much more diverse and savvy movement, says best-selling author and food activist Michael Pollan.

Take a stroll through most grocery stores, and many of the products claim to be organically grown or locally sourced. The foodie movement has swept America in the last decade, thanks in no small part to the work of journalists and intellectuals who have championed the cause online, in print and on the airwaves.

Michael Pollan is inarguably one of the most influential of these figures. Pollan is most famous for his books, especially In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto (2008) and The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (2006). He also contributes regularly to publications such as the New York Times Magazine, where his work has received numerous awards, and is a professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

As organic, locally grown food has emerged as a cultural and economic counterforce to industrialized agriculture, critics have claimed it is elitist and accessible only to those with the resources to pay more for their nourishment. Pollan and his allies have responded, in part, by drawing the public’s attention to the low-wage workers who work in the field, behind the counter, and in the kitchen. In recent years Pollan has supported the efforts of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, an organization dedicated to improving working conditions and wages for tomato pickers’ in Florida; in December 2013 he sided with fast food strikers and their demand for a $15 dollar per hour wage. In an email missive for MoveOn.org (received by 8 million subscribers), Pollan wrote: “If we are ever to . . . produce food sustainably and justly and sell it at an honest price, we will first have to pay people a living wage so that they can afford to buy it.” In his words, fair wages must be part of the push to democratize food.

I recently connected with Pollan to discuss equitable food pricing, farm worker rights, and industrial agriculture’s role in casting the food movement as elitist.  (What follows is a condensed and edited version of our conversation.) I began by asking Pollan about his evolving personal interest in the plight of food workers.

“I’ve been really paying more attention to it over time than I did at the beginning,” he said. “When I wrote my first book about the food system, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I didn’t talk in detail about labor. It was much more from the point of view of the eater than the person behind the counter.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/21403-our-food-is-dishonestly-priced-michael-pollan-on-the-food-movements-next-goal-of-justice-for-food-workers

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Anti-Choicers Drop the ‘Life’ Pretense, Increasingly Admit They’re Angry About Sex

From RH Reality Check:  http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2014/01/27/anti-choicers-drop-life-pretense-increasingly-admit-theyre-angry-sex/

by Amanda Marcotte,
January 27, 2014

Is the anti-choice movement giving up the pretense that it has no interest in policing women’s sexuality and only opposes abortion rights because of fetal life? While the rote use of the word “life” as a code word to describe a series of anti-woman and anti-sex beliefs is probably going nowhere, there does seem to be a bit more willingness among anti-choicers lately to admit that what really offends them is that women are having sex without their permission.

A report examining the demographics of women who have abortions, using self-reported numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics, was recently presented at a Family Research Council conference. Their conclusion? “OMG sluts!”

The researchers—a term that needs to be used somewhat loosely, due to the extensive statistical distortion employed in this paper—were incredibly intent on portraying abortion as a product of sexually loose women on the prowl. They mostly succeed in portraying themselves as remarkably prudish and out of step with mainstream realities. “Almost 90 percent of reported abortions are procured by women who have had three or more (male) sexual partners,” the researchers write, clearly expecting the audience to reel in terror at the idea that a woman might not marry the first boy she kisses. Which means that most women having abortions are … average. Women generally report having had about four male sexual partners, but social scientists are inclined to think the number is probably higher than that, because men report having a much higher average number of partners, and that discrepancy is mathematically impossible. Indeed, one study showed that by telling women that they’re hooked up to a lie detector, the number of sex partners they will cop to goes up. Slut-shaming, such as the kind produced by this report, causes women to round down.

“The fraction of women reporting abortions is far larger among women with multiple sexual partners than among monogamous women,” the study authors write. It’s a classic example of how this paper, which is supposed to be a study, is actually full of misrepresentations and dishonest number-massaging. After all, “monogamous” and “has had multiple partners” are not mutually exclusive groups. No doubt the study authors mean “has only had one partner ever” as their definition of monogamous, a strange and sloppy definition that would mean that a woman who lost her virginity during a one-night stand yesterday is more “monogamous” that a woman whose second marriage has lasted 30 years.

“Eighty-three percent of women who report having an abortion have cohabited at some time,” they write, clearly expecting the audience to find cohabitation to be a shockingly risqué behavior. Again, this makes women who have abortions average. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “[M]ost young couples live together first before entering marriage.” By the time they turn 30, three-quarters of women have cohabitated.

Continue reading at:  http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2014/01/27/anti-choicers-drop-life-pretense-increasingly-admit-theyre-angry-sex/

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Georgia’s GOP governor blasted for ‘gamble’ on snowstorm preparations

Yet another example in the long list of total failures on the part of Republicans.

Why anyone would vote Republican other than racism, woman hating and anti-LGBT bigotry is beyond me.

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/01/29/georgias-gop-governor-blasted-for-gamble-on-snowstorm-preparations/

By David Ferguson
Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Georgia’s Republican Gov. Nathan Deal is taking heat from meteorologists and critics for claiming that the snowstorm that paralyzed Atlanta and left thousands stranded overnight was “unexpected.” Activists and even NBC’s Al Roker slammed the governor for delaying action on the storm and insisting that no one could have predicted what meteorologists had been predicting for days.

Better Georgia activist Bryan Long blasted the governor for his lackadaisical approach to the storm.

“Governor Deal and Mayor Reed continue to make excuses for their lack of response to the winter storm that created gridlock on Atlanta’s roads and trapped children on school buses,” Long said in a statement to Raw Story. “It is shocking that just moments ago, Gov. Deal told reporters that he believed that they had done a ‘reasonable’ job of managing this crisis. Those who are still stranded and the parents who waited at home for their children would disagree.

Deal and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed’s “flat-footed response” to the storm, Long said, “put thousands at risk. It’s time for them both to fully accept responsibility.”

Roker appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to set the record straight on predictions about Atlanta’s response to Winter Storm Leon.

“The mayor and the governor got on TV yesterday and said, ‘Oh, this wasn’t expected,’” said Roker. “And that’s not true. We were talking about this Monday, that this was going to happen.”

“They took a gamble,” he continued. “They didn’t want to pre-treat the roads. I don’t think they wanted to spend the money and do what they needed to. And then, they told everybody…everybody started going home right around noon.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/01/29/georgias-gop-governor-blasted-for-gamble-on-snowstorm-preparations/

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Paranoia of the Plutocrats

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/27/opinion/krugman-paranoia-of-the-plutocrats.html?_r=1

Paul Krugman
Jan. 26, 2014

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Our ‘Winner Take All’ Economy Is Destroying Us

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/01/28-0

Soaring inequality in the US and why it matters

by Tim Koechlin

The United States is, by every reasonable measure, the most unequal of the world’s rich countries. And this is not new development. For more than three decades, the US has been suffering from a crisis of inequality. The Democrats have not taken this crisis seriously enough. The Republicans seem hell-bent on making it worse.

Evidence of extreme and rising economic inequality in the US is quite overwhelming. In 1979, the top 1% earned about 9% of all income; in 2013, they earned 24%. The incomes of the top 0.1% have grown even faster. More than half of all economic growth since 1976 has ended up in the pockets of the top 1%. Meanwhile, the incomes of the shrinking middle class have stagnated, and the incomes of those with a high school education or less have fallen substantially. The purchasing power of the minimum wage has fallen by about 15% since 1979. One in five kids lives in poverty.

How have we responded to all of this? By cutting taxes for the rich, busting unions and vilifying the poor! Over the past few decades, effective tax rates on US corporations and the richest 1% have fallen by about a third. Among the world’s rich countries, US tax rates on the rich are near the very bottom. Since 1970, the percentage of private sector workers in unions has fallen from 29% to 7%.

It has not always been this way. Between 1948 and 1975, the income of the median US household doubled. The incomes of the bottom 20% actually grew a little faster than the incomes of the top 20% over this period. Between 1928 and 1950, the distribution of income in the US actually became dramatically more equal.

Why should we be concerned about inequality? America is about opportunity, not guarantees — right? Actually, no! Among the world’s rich countries, the US is tied for last in class mobility; an American’s economic success is in fact highly correlated with his/her parents’ wealth and status. Richard Wilkinson captures this sad reality perfectly: “If you want the American Dream, you’ll have to go to Denmark.”

Economic inequality inevitably means political inequality. The right-wing Koch brothers, for example, spent more than $50 million aiming to defeat Obama and the Democrats in 2012. Right-wing casino magnate Sheldon Adelson spent over $100 million. Increasingly, legislation is literally being written by corporate lobbyists. The Koch brothers are entitled to their right wing views; they should not be entitled to the kind of outsized influence that $50 million will buy.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/01/28-0

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Why There’s No Outcry

From Robert Reich:  http://robertreich.org/post/74519195381

By Robert Reich
Saturday, January 25, 2014

People ask me all the time why we don’t have a revolution in America, or at least a major wave of reform similar to that of the Progressive Era or the New Deal or the Great Society.

Middle incomes are sinking, the ranks of the poor are swelling, almost all the economic gains are going to the top, and big money is corrupting our democracy. So why isn’t there more of a ruckus?

The answer is complex, but three reasons stand out.

First, the working class is paralyzed with fear it will lose the jobs and wages it already has.

In earlier decades, the working class fomented reform. The labor movement led the charge for a minimum wage, 40-hour workweek, unemployment insurance, and Social Security.

No longer. Working people don’t dare. The share of working-age Americans holding jobs is now lower than at any time in the last three decades and 76 percent of them are living paycheck to paycheck.

No one has any job security. The last thing they want to do is make a fuss and risk losing the little they have.

Besides, their major means of organizing and protecting themselves — labor unions — have been decimated. Four decades ago more than a third of private-sector workers were unionized. Now, fewer than 7 percent belong to a union.

Second, students don’t dare rock the boat.

In prior decades students were a major force for social change. They played an active role in the Civil Rights movement, the Free Speech movement, and against the Vietnam War.

Continue reading at:  http://robertreich.org/post/74519195381

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Obama’s Promise Zones will do little to address inequality

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/27/obamas-inequality-promise-zones-fall-short

The Promise Zones comes with no actual funding, only vows to help cities apply for grants. They are PR stunts, not solutions


theguardian.com, Monday 27 January 2014

On 8 January, the Obama administration announced the selection of five Promise Zones – high-poverty communities chosen to receive special federal attention. They are San Antonio, Texas; Choctaw Nation, Oklahoma; South-eastern Kentucky; Los Angeles, California and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I used to live in West Philly, one of the administration’s new promised lands, so I was curious about what my old neighbourhood stands to gain from its new status.

Not much, it turns out.

Comb through the White House announcement and beneath the flurry of bureaucrat chat (pdf) about “addressing multiple community revitalization challenges” and “increased access to proven tools” the stark fact emerges that the program does not allocate a single new dollar in aid:

Promise Zones will not receive direct funding, but will benefit from technical assistance, federal staff support, and more extensive preference points and access to other federal grant programs.

All the zones are promised is unspecified assistance to help communities “navigate federal programs [sic] and regulations… [to] make the most of funding that may already be available”. There’s no new funding, just more bureaucracy for communities trying to help themselves.

What’s more, Promise Zone catchments are allowed a maximum of 200,000 residents. That means at best their sphere of influence is one million citizens in a nation where 46.5 million people live below the poverty line. The government may as well say: “We want to help the poor, but not too much, and not too many.”

All of this reflects the archaic American ideology that poverty is a monster created by the poor. Part of the Promise Zone deal is that the five designees must continuously monitor and report on their progress towards the agreed-upon goals. Not only is this offensively paternalistic – as if left alone they might splurge on cigarettes and sweets – but it’s also an absurd waste of resources. Impoverished neighbourhoods should invest scarce resources in schools, housing and public health, not writing reports.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/27/obamas-inequality-promise-zones-fall-short

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