New Study Helps Explain Why Hobby Lobby Supporters Are So Fiercely Opposed To Birth Control

From Think Progress:

By Tara Culp-Ressler
July 9, 2014

Throughout the ongoing debate over Obamacare’s contraceptive coverage requirement, a common theme has emerged among many of Hobby Lobby’s supporters: the idea that ensuring access to affordable birth control is harmful to society because it leads to promiscuity and infidelity. Several right-wing groups filed amicus briefs in favor of the crafts chain arguing that women simply shouldn’t be having consequence-free sex. But where exactly does this idea come from? One research paper offers a theory.

According to new research published in Archives of Sexual Behavior, the attitude that women shouldn’t be having sex can at least partly be traced back to the idea that women are supposed to be economically dependent on men. The researchers suggest that this link may drive conservative religious communities’ insistence on sexual purity.

After surveying Americans about their attitudes toward promiscuity — asking them whether they agreed with statements like “It is fine for a woman to have sex with a man she has just met, if they both want to” — the researchers also asked them whether they believed women tend to rely on income from their male partner. They found that the people who believe that casual sex is wrong also tend to believe that women need a partner to support them financially. Within that worldview, sex outside of a serious monogamous relationship is simply too risky. If women don’t have “paternity certainty,” then how will they know who they need to rely on to support them and their future child?

The researchers conclude that this outdated attitude toward women’s pregnancy risks and financial needs hasn’t totally gone away, despite the fact that modern contraception, legal abortion rights, and greater workplace equality have created an entirely different society.

“The beliefs may persist due to cultural evolutionary adaptive lag, that is, because the environment has changed faster than the moral system,” the paper concludes. “Religious and conservative moral systems may be anti-promiscuity because they themselves arose in environments where females depended heavily on male investment.”

In response to the right-wing claims that women who support Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate are “sluts” who want the government to fund their sex lives, many birth control proponents have focused on the medical reasons that women need access to contraception. But there’s also a growing push to confront the deep-seated resistance to acknowledging women’s sex lives. “Women like sex. Stop making ‘health’ excuses for why we use birth control,” feminist writer Jessica Valenti argues in a Guardian column published this week.

On top of the changing societal norms that ensure women don’t actually have to be guided by “paternity certainy” anymore, there’s also scientific evidence that increasing access to birth control doesn’t have any relationship to promiscuity. A large study published in the Obstetrics & Gynecology journal earlier this year found that giving women access to no-cost contraception doesn’t lead them to make riskier sexual choices. The researchers noted their results should dispel social conservatives’ fears that the risk of pregnancy is “the only thing standing between women and promiscuity.”

Profiteers Cashing In on Nation’s Catastrophic Water Crisis

From Common Dreams:

In face of historic drought, nation’s largest aquifers and reservoirs drying up

Lauren McCauley

America’s food growing regions face a crisis of “catastrophic” proportions as historic drought continues to drive the nation’s largest water reserves to record lows. Amidst the shortages, private landowners are facing harsh criticism for seeking profits from this dwindling public resource.

“We’re headed for a brick wall at 100 miles per hour,” said James Mahan, a scientist at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service lab in Lubbock, Texas. “And, really, the effects of climate change are branches hitting the windshield along the way.”

Mahan was specifically referring to the depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer, an underground reserve that spreads 111.8 million acres across eight states and provides water to much of Texas as well as to the millions of acres of farmland that make up “America’s Breadbasket.” According to NBC News, after years of “punishing drought” and chronic mismanagement, the Ogallala now faces “catastrophic depletion,” with profound implications for the millions worldwide fed by the farms which rely on the aquifer.

The draining of the Ogallala is also indicative of what is happening to water sources across the western United States.

According to the latest assessment by the U.S. Drought Monitor, huge swaths of California, Nevada, Texas and Oklahoma are experiencing “extreme” or “exceptional” drought. In June, nearly 80 percent of California was under “extreme” drought conditions while the area considered to be in the highest category of drought—”exceptional”—continues to grow.

This week, Lake Mead—the country’s largest reservoir which provides up to 40 million people in the U.S. and Mexico with a portion of their drinking water—is also expected to reach a record low, according to estimates by the federal Bureau of Reclamation.

As reserves are drying up, reports of landowners “cashing in” on the water market highlight the dangers of granting private control to this essential public resource.

In California, where the price of water has increased tenfold in the past five years, private landowners and water districts alike are driving the cost up further and making millions by auctioning off their private water reserves, AP recently reported.

And as NBC highlights, the Ogallala crisis has been driven largely by Texas’ “right to capture” law, which has enabled wealthy landowners to capitalize on the crisis. The law—which essentially states that “If you own the land, you and only you own the water”—has reportedly enabled oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens to sell the water from beneath his sprawling 211,000 acre ranch to water-impoverished municipalities for $103 million.

“Here’s a guy selling a natural resource which is almost universally recognized – except in Texas – as a public resource,” observed Burke Griggs, Ph.D., consulting professor at the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University.


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What We Don’t Talk About When We Don’t Talk About Abortion

From Truth Out:

By Sarah Grey
Friday, 11 July 2014

I had an abortion four years ago. I just recently decided to start talking about it.

I didn’t stay silent out of guilt; the abortion was very much the right decision. I didn’t talk about my abortion because one doesn’t talk about one’s abortion. It just isn’t done. You don’t casually drop it during a playdate. Women tell their birth stories in graphic detail, but abortion? It’s just not part of polite conversation.

And yet – I’m now “that woman.” Yup. I did it. And I’m going to keep doing it.

Will my in-laws disown me? My friends? Will I lose potential clients by writing this under my own name? Will I get hate mail? Maybe. I know, too, that I am speaking out from a position of relative privilege: as a white ciswoman with a college degree and a self-employed career, my abortion doesn’t fit me neatly into right-wing stereotypes. Nor am I in danger of being fired, beaten or murdered for having or for talking about an abortion – the stark reality for millions of women. I have considerable freedom to speak out. And I plan to use it.

Why? Because last week the Supreme Court decided that it is perfectly okay for employers to exert control over their employees’ birth control decisions. The week before, it decided to abolish clinic-door buffer zones in Massachusetts, allowing anti-abortion protestors more freedom to physically assault and intimidate women as they attempt to access reproductive health care. It was also reported that NBC refused to run an ad for the pro-choice romantic comedy Obvious Child simply because it contained the word “abortion.”

Not only are we not supposed to access abortions – or contraception, or any other reproductive health care – we’re not even supposed to breathe the very word in public. In 1973, the era of George Carlin’s “seven dirty words you can’t say on television,” it was a popular topic on shows like Maude, but today abortion is a four-letter word. Even in films about unintended pregnancies, like Knocked Up and Juno, the characters almost always either redeem themselves by deciding against abortion or fail to consider it at all.

That’s why I felt I had to say it.

I was out with some friends, all parents. Two of the other mothers, both in their mid-thirties like me, both extremely intelligent and accomplished, confessed that their recent second pregnancies had been accidental. They’d cried all through the first trimester, they said.

It made me remember terminating my own second pregnancy. My daughter had been four months old when we accidentally conceived. I had just returned to my workplace and was trying desperately to juggle nursing, child care and my job (and failing – I was on thin ice at the office). I read the pregnancy test with numb horror, so different from the joy I’d felt when I discovered I was pregnant with my Lucia. Then I’d jumped for joy. Now: “Shit!

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The 1 percent’s loathsome libertarian scheme: Why we despise the new scalping economy

From Salon:

From parking spots to reservations, scalping apps are giving rich people what they want, when they want it

Friday, Jul 11, 2014

Maybe we’re just easily annoyed in Northern California. The froth of our rage over Monkey Parking — an app that auctions off public parking spots — had barely begun to subside and then along came ReservationHop, an outfit that makes phony reservations at “hot” restaurants and then sells them at a premium to the general public. And we got all worked up, all over again.

Yep, the fact that there’s now an app for scalping restaurant bookings rubbed some people the wrong way. Of course, it could be that the critics were just jittery and irritable from too many days of wondering whether an eviction letter was about to arrive in the mail, but still: Even such a normally Silicon Valley-friendly tech press outfit as TechCrunch was impelled to decry the rise of the new “JerkTech.” When TechCrunch tells you to “go disrupt yourself,” it’s probably time for bleeding edge entrepreneurs to take a long hard look in the mirror.

That does not mean, however, that the new wave of scalping apps lacks for defenders. Cato Institute policy analyst Matthew Feeney took me personally to task for attacking Monkey Parking, lamenting that “it’s a shame that he doesn’t appreciate that the price system is extremely efficient at communicating information to producers and customers …” (Feeney also found my reference to “classic transnational neocolonialist libertarian arrogance” “worrying” and “frightening.” What can I say? Libertarians almost never get my jokes.)

ReservationHop also won the dubious honor of being declared not “as loathsome as it seems” in a smart San Francisco magazine article by Scott Lucas and Ian Eck. Their argument: ReservationHop is doing basically the same thing as StubHub — finding a market clearing price for an artificially undervalued commodity.

The backlash against anti-scalper fury is provocative. Because contrary to Cato’s assumption, I have a keen appreciation for how effective the price mechanism is for communication information. Properly regulated, it’s a marvelous way to allocate resources and get things done. But at the same time, at a gut level, I am pretty sure I don’t want to live in a society where every possible interaction with my fellow human being is up for auction at the right price point.

So the interesting question is where do we draw the line? Why has this latest wave of apps raised so many hackles?

I have a theory: One reason why the cornucopia of new services made possible by the Internet and smartphones has proven so seductive is their facility for cutting out the middleman. We call it “disintermediation” and we love it. Making your own airline reservations! Not having to go to Best Buy to get a computer peripheral! What you want, when you want it! Our new infrastructure connects us directly to the objects of our desire.

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Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Wealth Gap

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