Matt Agorist, Free Thought Project
20 Jan 2016
In May of 2014, Ronnie and Lisa Hankins were driving back from his grandfather’s funeral in Virginia when they were targeted by a gang of police officers in search of cash.
As Lisa drove the couple westbound down I-40, they saw an officer, who happened to be with the 23rd Judicial District Drug Task Force, and Hankins correctly predicted that they were about to be pulled over.
“I told her we are going to get pulled over,” Ronnie said to NewsChannel 5.
“What made you think he was going to stop you?” NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked.
“Because we had out-of-state license plates and my wife is Hispanic,” he explained.
The couple was then pulled over, and the officer quickly separated them before beginning his harassment of Lisa. In the video, the officer is heard badgering Lisa in an attempt to get her to consent to a search.
“You say there’s not anything illegal in it. Do you mind if I search it today to make sure?” the officer asked.
Lisa responded, “I’d have to talk to my husband.”
The cop continued to intimidate and harass her, “I am asking you for permission to search your vehicle today — and you are well within your rights to say ‘no,’ and you can say ‘yes.’ It’s totally up to you as to whether you want to show cooperation or not.”
Knowing that they had done nothing wrong and the officer had no reason to search them, Lisa continued to assert her rights and refused the search.
“You have to either give me a yes or no,” the cop continued. “I do need an answer so I can figure out whether I need a dog to go around it or not.”
After going back and forth and realizing that this couple was not going to give consent, a second officer brings out a drug dog. As the Free Thought Project previously reported, data shows that police K-9s will alert almost every single time they are called out, regardless of the presence of drugs.
The Hankins’ case, on the side of I-40, was no different.
“We’ve ran a dog, and the dog’s alerted on the vehicle. So we are going to be searching it, OK? And whatever is in there we are going to find in just a second,” said the officer to the couple.
“There’s never been any drugs in the vehicle and never will be,” Ronnie declared.
Ronnie became furious as he knew that the dog did not alert on his vehicle; he knows this because he is also a cop. He’s a federal police officer at the Marine Corps Air Station-Miramar in San Diego.
“You are lying about the dog hitting on the car. The dog didn’t hit on the car either. You guys are drug task force. You are out here harassing me and my wife when I am just coming back from a funeral,” he said.
The agent, knowing full well that Ronnie was a cop, responded sarcastically, “That is exactly how I would expect most police officers to act.”
“Just like a child, you can make a child say anything you want. You can make a dog do whatever you want to if you train them the right way,” Ronnie explained to NewsChannel 5 Investigates.
For nearly an hour, cops held the innocent couple on the side of the interstate while they tore Lisa’s new car apart. They even went so far as to rip the dashboard out. They found no drugs.
But after finding no drugs, the truth came out — these cops weren’t looking for drugs at all — they wanted cash.
The Anti-Vax trip seems to have its roots in the anti-western medicine branch of the New Age Bullshit. As Tim Minchin says, “What do they call alternative medicine that works? Oh yes they call it medicine.”
09 Jan 2016
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stirred up a hornet’s nest of anti-science sentiment on Friday when he posted a photo on Facebook of himself with his daughter Max at the doctor’s office.
Zuckerberg’s offense? Writing “Doctor’s visit — time for vaccines!”
The Facebook posting immediately drew both praise and condemnation for the tech billionaire, as supporters of childhood vaccinations battled with anti-vaxxers in the comments on a post that was “liked” over 2.5 million times.
Among the over 56,000 comments were many who praised Zuckerberg for caring about his daughter’s health, including Stuart Duncan who wrote: “As someone with autism, with a son with autism, as someone who is constantly watching good people put their own children at serious risk because of old, fraudulent fears of vaccines and autism… thank you for being sensible. Thank you for doing what’s right and also for showing everyone else that it’s the right thing to do as well.”
The anti-vaxx movement has fought against child hood immunizations based upon a since discredited study linking childhood vaccines to autism. The anti-vaxx movement recently funded a new study looking for a link, only to have it blow up in their faces when researchers returned empty-handed.
Whether Zuckerberg’s post was meant as a taunt or a simple reminder to get children vaccinated, the negative response was to be expected — or as Laura-Kathleen Redman commented, ” *patiently waits for anti-vaxxers to show up*”
And show up, they did.
“We all care about our kids. Growing up, my mom’s best friend had a perfectly healthy daughter. She received MMR and had a grand mal seizure and suffered brain damage. Her dr diagnosed her with vaccine injury. She was left unable to talk or walk for the rest of her life. So that was MY first personal experience with vaccines,” Amy Smith wrote. “Bottom line…A pharmaceutical that carries at least a risk of harm to some, should never be mandated. Because, in the end, no one seems to care about the ‘sacrifices’ made for the ‘common good.’”
If you believe in Freedom ending the War on Drugs is long over due.
Maybe it is time for a new political party.
By Phillip Smith
January 7, 2016
The veteran Florida congresswoman and head of the Democratic National Committee has taken a lot of heat from the party’s liberal and progressive wing for numerous reasons, and now she’s just provided one more. In an interview with the New York Times magazine to be published Sunday, Wasserman-Schultz stood firm against marijuana legalization:
You’re one of a dwindling number of progressive politicians who oppose legalization of even the medical use of marijuana. Where does that come from? I don’t oppose the use of medical marijuana. I just don’t think we should legalize more mind-altering substances if we want to make it less likely that people travel down the path toward using drugs. We have had a resurgence of drug use instead of a decline. There is a huge heroin epidemic.
Heroin addiction often starts with prescribed painkillers. Pill mills were a problem in Florida, but the state didn’t make prescribing opiates illegal. There is a difference between opiates and marijuana.
Still, your opinion on this does seem like an outlier. It’s perfectly O.K. to not be completely predictable. I am a person, and I have individual opinions that may not line up ideologically. They’re formed by my personal experience both as a mom and as someone who grew up really bothered by the drug culture that surrounded my childhood — not mine personally. I grew up in suburbia.
Are there any other positions that you have that might surprise people? My criminal-justice record is perhaps not as progressive as some of my fellow progressives’.
It sounds as if these are things that come from a personal place for you. I guess I’m protective. Safety has been my top legislative priority. I’m driven by the idea that safety is really a core function of government.
Wasserman-Schultz doesn’t explain how giving people criminal records for smoking pot makes them “safer,” and she appears to still subscribe to the discredited gateway theory that if people start with marijuana, they’re going to end up as heroin addicts.
She also appears indifferent to the racial bias in the drug war, where black people are arrested for marijuana at a rate nearly four times that of whites. But if she ignores race, her response reeks of class privilege. She was “really bothered by the drug culture” –apparently the inner city drug culture – although it didn’t affect her personally because “I grew up in suburbia.”
Continue reading at: http://www.alternet.org/drugs/debbie-wasserman-schultz-keep-arresting-pot-smokers
Wednesday 30 December 2015
The power that feminism currently wields has been described as a “moment” or a “trend” – but it’s much more than that. The last 10 years of feminist work have paved the way for a feminism that’s deeply resonant and embedded in the culture, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
And no matter how you cut it, gender justice has been at the forefront of the national conversation and a lot of people’s minds this past year.
Some was good: celebrities spoke up against sexism, the military ended the ban on women in combat, battling sexual assault took center stage, and companies from Netflix to Spotify created realistic and generous parental leave policies.
Some of it was bad: a woman was arrested after desperately trying to end her pregnancy with a coat hanger, a Planned Parenthood was the target of a terrorist shooting and, no matter a woman’s accomplishments, we were reminded that there is always someone ready to insult her with sexism or racism.
And some of it was a bit of both, like when Cecile Richards was forced to testify in front of a House committee (but she made them all look ridiculous). Some people were even outraged when Ghostbusters was remade with an all-female cast – but that didn’t stop anything.
Feminism’s prominence is even one reason that Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign looks very different – and is being responded to very differently – in 2016 than in 2008. Clinton isn’t shying away from taking on gender explicitly any more, and the sexism lobbed at her isn’t being tolerated in the same way, because since 2008 we’ve seen feminism get even more of a foothold in our broader culture.
Rebecca Traister calls this political and cultural shift the “death of white male power”: those opposed to progress on race, gender and LGBT issues are not participating in a full-blown cultural freak-out because feminism is having a “moment”. They’re afraid because they know their world is changing in a way that they can no longer control.
Part of feminism’s growing influence has to do with technology: before the internet, if a woman was interested in feminism, she had to seek it out by finding an organization with which to become involved, subscribing to Ms. magazine or taking a women’s studies class. As feminism has become more entrenched online – first through blogs, now through social media – more people have gained access to activism, information and community. Now women stumble across feminism while they’re on Tumblr or Facebook, reading about everything from politics to pop culture, and have the ability to learn more in just a few clicks.
Jeanne Cordova, pioneer Lesbian Feminist from the days when we were outlaws passed away on Sunday January 10, 2016. I had the pleasure of working with her at the Lesbian Tide during the late 1970s.
Radio Flyer sells a red scooter for boys and a pink scooter for girls. Both feature plastic handlebars, three wheels and a foot brake. Both weigh about five pounds.
The only significant difference is the price, a new report reveals. Target listed one for $24.99 and the other for $49.99.
The scooters’ price gap isn’t an anomaly. The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs compared nearly 800 products with female and male versions — meaning they were practically identical except for the gender-specific packaging — and uncovered a persistent surcharge for one of the sexes. Controlling for quality, items marketed to girls and women cost an average 7 percent more than similar products aimed at boys and men.
DCA Commissioner Julie Menin, who launched the investigation this summer, said the numbers show an insidious form of gender discrimination. Compounding the injustice, she said, is the wage gap. Federal data shows women in the United States earn about 79 cents for every dollar paid to men.
“It’s a double whammy,” Menin said, “and it’s not just happening in New York. You see in the aisles the issue is clearly applicable to consumers across the country.”
A Target spokesperson said the company lowered the price of the pink scooter after the report was released Friday, calling the discrepancy a “system error.” (The retailer blamed the same kind of glitch last year after catching heat for selling black Barbies at more than double the price of white Barbies.)
When asked about the price differences of other gendered toys — like the Raskullz shark helmet ($14.99) and the Raskullz unicorn helmet ($27.99) or the Playmobil pirate ship ($24.99) and the Playmobil fairy queen ship ($37.99) — the representative pointed to a company statement, declining to elaborate: “Our competitive shop process ensures that we are competitively priced in local markets. A difference in price can be related to production costs or other factors.”
Researchers for the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs pored over toys, children’s clothing, adult apparel, personal care products and home goods sold in the city. The largest price discrepancy emerged in the hair care category: Women, on average, paid 48 percent more for goods like shampoo, conditioner and gel. Razor cartridges came in second place, costing female shoppers 11 percent more.
Walgreens, for example, peddled a blue box of Schick Hydro 5 cartridges for $14.99. The Schick Hydro “Silk,” its purple sibling, was priced at $18.49.
From The Guardian UK: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/aug/06/america-rich-write-about-poverty
Thursday 6 August 2015
Back in the fat years – two or three decades ago, when the “mainstream” media were booming – I was able to earn a living as a freelance writer. My income was meager and I had to hustle to get it, turning out about four articles – essays, reported pieces, reviews – a month at $1 or $2 a word. What I wanted to write about, in part for obvious personal reasons, was poverty and inequality, but I’d do just about anything – like, I cringe to say, “The Heartbreak Diet” for a major fashion magazine – to pay the rent.
It wasn’t easy to interest glossy magazines in poverty in the 1980s and 90s. I once spent two hours over an expensive lunch – paid for, of course, by a major publication – trying to pitch to a clearly indifferent editor who finally conceded, over decaf espresso and crème brulee, “OK, do your thing on poverty. But can you make it upscale?” Then there was the editor of a nationwide, and quite liberal, magazine who responded to my pitch for a story involving blue-collar men by asking, “Hmm, but can they talk?”
I finally got lucky at Harper’s, where fabled editor Lewis Lapham gave me an assignment that turned into a book, which in turn became a bestseller, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. Thanks to the royalties and subsequent speaking fees, at last I could begin to undertake projects without concern for the pay, just because they seemed important or to me. This was the writing life I had always dreamed of – adventurous, obsessively fascinating and sufficiently remunerative that I could help support less affluent members of my family.
Meanwhile, though I didn’t see it at first, the world of journalism as I had known it was beginning to crumble around me. Squeezed to generate more profits for new media conglomerates, newsrooms laid off reporters, who often went on to swell the crowds of hungry freelancers. Once-generous magazines shrank or slashed their freelance budgets; certainly there were no more free lunches.
True, the internet filled with a multiplicity of new outlets to write for, but paying writers or other “content providers” turned out not to be part of their business plan. I saw my own fees at one major news outlet drop to one third of their value between 2004 and 2009. I heard from younger journalists who were scrambling for adjunct jobs or doing piecework in “corporate communications.” But I determined to carry on writing about poverty and inequality even if I had to finance my efforts entirely on my own. And I felt noble for doing so.
Then, as the kids say today, I “checked my privilege.” I realized that there was something wrong with an arrangement whereby a relatively affluent person such as I had become could afford to write about minimum wage jobs, squirrels as an urban food source or the penalties for sleeping in parks, while the people who were actually experiencing these sorts of things, or were in danger of experiencing them, could not.
In the last few years, I’ve gotten to know a number of people who are at least as qualified writers as I am, especially when it comes to the subject of poverty, but who’ve been held back by their own poverty. There’s Darryl Wellington, for example, a local columnist (and poet) in Santa Fe who has, at times, had to supplement his tiny income by selling his plasma – a fallback that can have serious health consequences. Or Joe Williams, who, after losing an editorial job, was reduced to writing for $50 a piece for online political sites while mowing lawns and working in a sporting goods store for $10 an hour to pay for a room in a friend’s house. Linda Tirado was blogging about her job as a cook at Ihop when she managed to snag a contract for a powerful book entitled Hand to Mouth (for which I wrote the preface). Now she is working on a “multi-media mentoring project” to help other working-class journalists get published.
Doctors at the esteemed institution are perpetuating dangerous myths about transgender people — and the university is not doing enough to stop them.
The name Johns Hopkins University connotes an institute of higher learning in medicine to most people. For those paying attention, it represents one of the most unapologetically transphobic institutions in America. JHU professors have headlined conferences on reparative therapy, cozied up with many Southern Poverty Law Center-certified hate groups, and taken money from the government to argue in court that transgender people don’t need medical care.
Administration has allowed staff members at JHU to ignore standards of care, reject evidence based medicine, and skip over guidelines of their professional organizations as long as the transgender community is at the receiving end of such malpractice.
Just prior to an October gathering of the World Congress of Families (which is an SPLC-certified hate group), a radio station in Utah held a pre-conference event called STAND4TRUTH 2015, sponsored by the Family Research Council (another hate group), American Family Association (another hate group), and MassResistance (yet another hate group). Their speakers included some of the most radical anti-LGBT leaders from these groups such as Peter Sprigg, Peter LaBarbera, Michael Brown, Dave Welch, Matt Staver, and Brian Camenker.
And then there was Dr. Paul McHugh of JHU, prominently displaying his JHU credentials in support of reparative therapy and anti-LGBT animus.
When I contacted JHU regarding Dr. McHugh’s participation in this conference, the university informed me he had “declined the invitation” and that “Johns Hopkins Medicine lives by its mission and its vision and embraces diversity and inclusion.”
However, when I spoke with the STAND4TRUTH 2015 organizers, they informed me that McHugh was in town for the event but missed his panel because he set his alarm to the wrong time. They also claimed he came to the conference after his panel. STAND4TRUTH organizers deny that McHugh declined their invitation. Wherever the actual truth lies, however, the conference’s brochure suggests he had said yes at some point.
Dr. McHugh has a lot in common with these right-wing, religiously -motivated hate groups. He is a self-described orthodox Catholic whose radical views are well documented. In his role as part of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ review board, he pushed the idea that the Catholic sex-abuse scandal was not about pedophilia but about “homosexual predation on American Catholic youth.” He filed an amicus brief arguing in favor of Proposition 8 on the basis that homosexuality is a “choice.” Additionally, McHugh was in favor of forcing a pregnant 10-year-old girl to carry to term even though she had been raped by an adult relative.
His words and actions toward the transgender community are the most radical and egregious, however. He has compared medical care for transgender people to “the practice of frontal lobotomy.” McHugh’s disdain for his own patients is evident, calling them “caricatures of women” and pushing the demeaning narrative that all transgender women are either self-hating gay men or perverted heterosexuals. Worse, the damage McHugh has done to transgender health care is incalculable. McHugh shut down one of the few gender clinics in the U.S. in 1979, and his lobbying in 1981 was instrumental in getting a national coverage decision forbidding the government from covering gender-affirming care. It wasn’t reversed until 2014. As a result of his outspoken desire to see transgender people shoved back into the closet, Dr. McHugh has become the go-to “expert” for right-wing organizations.
While Johns Hopkins claims “respect for patients’ backgrounds and beliefs” is vital in its Diversity and Inclusion Mission Statement, the actions of staff members and administration should make it clear that these are just words where transgender patients are concerned. When other JHU staff members have made controversial and public anti-LGB statements, the organization has been quick to put space between themselves and the positions of their staff. Dr. Ben Carson (also of JHU, also of bizarre and offensive beliefs about lesbians and gays) went a step too far by comparing same-sex marriage to bestiality and the North American Man/Boy Love Association. Johns Hopkins University publicly distanced itself from him as a result.
“Controversial social issues are debated in the media on a regular basis, and yet it is rare that leaders of an academic medical center will join that type of public debate,” said Dr. Paul Rothman, CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, in a statement in April. “However, we recognize that tension now exists in our community because hurtful, offensive language was used by our colleague, Dr. Ben Carson, when conveying a personal opinion. Dr. Carson’s comments are inconsistent with the culture of our institution.”
Continue reading at: http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2015/12/15/scary-science-johns-hopkins-university
Gender, gender, gender, the social construct used to keep women the second sex and a way to sell them worthless crap for a lot of money.
Feb 13, 2015
When I decided to propose to the woman who is now my wife, I gave a lot of thought to how I was going to do it. But I didn’t think much about what I was going to do it with. Not only did a diamond ring seem the logical—nay, the inevitable—choice, but I had just the very diamond. My grandfather had scrounged up enough money to buy a diamond ring for my grandmother in the early 1950s, and the stone had passed to me when he passed away. I reset the diamond in a more modern band, got the ring appraised, and slipped it on my fiancée’s finger.
It was a beautiful moment—a gesture of love and commitment spanning generations. And it was also exactly what De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd. wanted. I was a century-old marketing campaign, actualized. And I’m far from alone; three-quarters of American brides wear a diamond engagement ring, which now costs an average of $4,000.
Every so often, an article comes along that makes you thoroughly rethink a rote practice. Edward Jay Epstein’s “Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond?” was one of them. In his 1982 Atlantic story, the investigative journalist deconstructed what he termed the “diamond invention”—the “creation of the idea that diamonds are rare and valuable, and are essential signs of esteem.”
Most remarkably, De Beers manipulated not just supply but demand. In 1938, amid the ravages of the Depression and the rumblings of war, Harry Oppenheimer, the De Beers founder’s son, recruited the New York–based ad agency N.W. Ayer to burnish the image of diamonds in the United States, where the practice of giving diamond engagement rings had been unevenly gaining traction for years, but where the diamonds sold were increasingly small and low-quality.
Ayer insinuated these messages into the nooks and crannies of popular culture. It marketed an idea, not a diamond or brand: