Chicago police clash with Nato summit protesters

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/21/chicago-police-nato-summit-protesters

Arrests and injuries as thousands march on downtown area of the city, where 51 world leaders are meeting


guardian.co.uk, Monday 21 May 2012

The main anti-war march at the Chicago Nato summit was marred by clashes between police and protesters, with several people injured and 45 arrests.

Thousands of people marched towards McCormick Place in the downtown area of the city, where 51 world leaders are meeting for the two-day summit.

However, the demonstration on Sunday ended in ugly scenes as police used batons to control the crowd. The violence came as a fifth person was charged with terrorism-related offences in in relation to alleged plots to disrupt the summit.

Sunday’s demonstration was the largest anti-war protest so far, after days of marches and protests in the city centre.

Gathering at Grant Park, thousands of protesters set off south towards the site of the summit, led by around 20 Iraq veterans against the war.

Arriving two blocks west of McCormick Place, the veterans, including Scott Olsen, the protester injured in Occupy Oakland demonstrations in October, staged a symbolic “returning” of their medals, tossing them in the direction of the sprawling conference space.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/21/chicago-police-nato-summit-protesters

How Credit Collectors Have Reinvented the Debtors’ Prison

From New Deal 2.0:  http://www.newdeal20.org/2011/12/14/how-credit-collectors-have-reinvented-the-debtors-prison-67301/

by Mike Konczal
Wednesday, 12/14/2011

ew tactics have an old ring to them and low-income debtors are falling prey.

NPR just ran a story called “Unpaid Bills Land Some Debtors Behind Bars.” As they report, ”Here’s how it happens: A company will often sell off its debt to a collection agency, generally called a creditor. That creditor files a lawsuit against the debtor requiring a court appearance. A notice to appear in court is supposed to be given to the debtor. If they fail to show up, a warrant is issued for their arrest.” Marie Diamond has more.

This is increasingly common across the country. My colleagues Matt Stoller and Bryce Covert have both written about debtors being jailed for failure to appear in court. Debtors’ prisons are illegal, and some point out that this is really jail for a summons problem, not a payment. But I haven’t had a full vision of the practice until I read this excellent working paper by Lea Shepherd of Loyola Chicago law school, “Creditors Contempt” (h/t creditslips). Beyond laying out the problems with the current system, which gives a disproportionate amount of the coercive powers of the state to creditors, this paper also has implications for another topic I’m interested in — the class bias of the submerged state.

The key here is something called in personam debt collection remedies. In an agrarian economy, it was relatively straight forward for creditors to order a sheriff to seize the property of a debtor. In rem actions, where a sheriff would go and seize property, would work just fine. But this became harder to do as time went on.

The debt collection market evolved in personam debt collection remedies. This in personam action has two goals: discovery and collection. The court orders the debtor to disclose information about his property, location of his assets, etc. to help creditors track down those assets. Then the court orders certain payments to be made, which allows for collection. This court order is enforced through the court’s authority to hold debtors in contempt, which in turn is enforced through threats of imprisonment. Depending on the jurisdiction, contempt charges can be made against either the failure to show up for the discovery process or the failure to stick to the collection ordered.

Continue reading at:   http://www.newdeal20.org/2011/12/14/how-credit-collectors-have-reinvented-the-debtors-prison-67301/

The Health of Children and Consumers is Threatened by Conservative Push for Corporate Speech Rights

From Alternet: http://www.alternet.org/story/153408/the_health_of_children_and_consumers_is_threatened_by_conservative_push_for_corporate_speech_rights/

Some pro-business federal judges have shockingly approved a constitutional right for big companies to avoid revealing product dangers on labels.

By Steven Rosenfeld
December 12, 2011

In recent years, corporate lawyers representing industries whose products touch millions of American lives have stopped numerous government efforts to better inform the public about possible health risks with an eyebrow-raising legal strategy. They have asserted a constitutional right not to speak, or say more than they want on labels and advertising, and pro-business federal judges have agreed, rejecting the public’s right to know.

In cases involving manmade hormones fed to dairy cows, heart and lung disease caused by tobacco, the nutritional value of foods contributing to childhood and teenage obesity, and even radiation emitted by cell phones, the industries keep returning to court until a business-friendly judge or majority on an appeals court rules that the First Amendment includes the corporate right not to ‘speak’ if it could harm profits.

“They invoke the Amendment’s protection to accomplish exactly what the Amendment opposes,” wrote U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Pierre Leval, in a lengthy dissent in an early case in which his peers sided with industry and cited the First Amendment to overturn a state law labeling hormone-containing milk products. “The majority’s invocation of the First Amendment to invalidate a state law requiring disclosure of information consumers reasonably desire stands the Amendment on its ear.”

The labeling cases are not the only way corporations have been seeking to enlarge First Amendment speech rights outside the political arena.

This past June the Supreme Court ruled that drug makers’ constitutional speech rights included ‘selling’ patient records, overturning a Vermont law that sought to keep the files private. Justice Stephen Breyer’s dissent said the Court was setting a dangerous precedent by allowing the First Amendment to be used to avoid reasonable government regulation.

“At best the Court opens a Pandora’s Box of First Amendment challenges to many ordinary regulatory practices that may only incidentally affect a commercial message,” he warned. “At worst, it reawakens Lochner’s pre-New Deal threat of substituting judicial for democratic decision making where ordinary economic regulation is at issue.”

Continue reading at:   http://www.alternet.org/story/153408/the_health_of_children_and_consumers_is_threatened_by_conservative_push_for_corporate_speech_rights/


Posted in Anti-Globalization, Economic Issues, Questioning Authority, Social Justice. Tags: , , , . Comments Off on The Health of Children and Consumers is Threatened by Conservative Push for Corporate Speech Rights

Which Side Are You On?

The Transgender Borg and Transgender Inc put out a massive quantity of bullshit about identity and identifying as a woman, about how that identity trumps both physical reality and the perceptions of others. Based on the claims of some to be considered a woman all one has to do is claim to identify as such.

Being considered a woman doesn’t require being assigned female at birth.  Doesn’t require surgical sex reassignment from an initial birth assignment of male.  Doesn’t require the removal of testicles and definitely doesn’t require the surrender of one’s penis.  One isn’t required to live 24/7/365 in a socially accepted female sex role.  One doesn’t have to have electrolysis or even wear women’s clothing, according to Transgender Borg ideology to be considered a woman based on “identifying as a woman.”

Neither assigned female at birth nor later surgically reassigned as female women are permitted to have a say in this matter, but instead have to swallow the entire reactionary pile of crap regarding gender that we spent years fighting against.  Betty Friedan’s book The Feminine Mystique was all about how gender (sex) roles were used to trap women and limit their ability to function in the world as whole people with the agency to make their own decisions regarding the course of their lives.

For all of the Transgender Borg/Inc.’s  BS about deconstructing gender most of their philosophy seems deeply grounded in the reification of gender stereotypes as defining who is a man or who is a woman.

Indeed their ideology of “Transgender Umbrella” and “Transgender Community” seems intent upon stifling genuine attempts at breaking free from sex role/gender role stereotyping.  It is terribly oppressive to have your life colonized and be berated by the Borg/Inc for not embracing “Transgender as Umbrella” once they have decided you are part of a class that they have decided belongs under the “Transgender Umbrella.”

Speaking of “process”.  Isn’t there something incredibly phalliocentric happening when one group composed largely of penis people and their sycophants get to decide when some one is part of the “Transgender Community” or not, without the consent of the person or class of people being colonized?

I am well aware of Christan Williams attempts to write a form of revisionist history where  “Transgender” is a self chosen collective noun that was embraced as early as the late 1960s/early 1970s by women with transsexualism.

How does it feel, Christan, to be a sycophant toadie for a bunch of people who have advocated violence against feminist women, who had the courage to say no to the demands of phalliocentric transvestites and their demands to share the women’s room based on “identity”?  Identity with out actions that actually change your sex is meaningless, nothing more than a con game played by penis people who want to violate women’s privacy.

Don’t think I haven’t noticed the attempts at rehabilitating Angela Keyes Douglas, a psychopathic douche nozzle from the 1970s who hindered the integration of post-transsexual women into the feminist and lesbian communities with his androcentric “transgender superiority” and his calling  lesbian feminists  “ugly cunts” and “fish”.

BTW that word, “Fish”…  That’s the word that set the feminists off when it was used by Saint Sylvia during her drunken Pride Day Parade episode back in 1973.  Do you think that really gave post-transsexual women a big boost in the feminist community?  Or did it hurt us?

Many of us  look upon SRS as ending a chapter in our lives and with the end of that chapter come an end to membership in a shared class that has come to be called “The Transgender Community”.  At that point we face a life choice.  One road means we continue the process of becoming women, a process that can only happen if we drop the “Trans”.  That means dropping the “Transgender Community”.  It means embracing the bare unadorned label, “woman” with out the prefix “trans” much less the adjective “transgender”.

In spite of the TG Borg/Inc.’s protestations to the contrary one cannot identify as a woman and as transgender.  The two are mutually exclusive.  One might identify as a “trans-woman” or as a “transgender woman”, one might even identify as transsexual, although the term transsexual implies actual actions taken to permanently physically change one’s sex.  But as long as one either has to stick a prefix or adjective, or voluntarily sticks that prefix or adjective in front of the word woman then one is identifying with the modifying prefix or adjective and not with the noun being modified.

Being woman identified might have all sorts of readings and levels, take all sorts of forms from spiritual to political.

But one thing should seem obvious.  Living one’s life in transgender-centric surroundings is not conducive to taking the final step in the process of becoming part of the community of women.  It is continuing to live in the transgender ghetto.  One does not have to be hostile to genuine transgender people nor wish to deny genuine transgender people their rights.  But who is actually transgender?  This is a reasonable question. I had a hostile transvestite who goes by the on-line name of Carolyn-Ann come here a while back with his penis waving transvestite BS.  He got pissy when he found out I wasn’t about to be bullied by him and has periodically trashed me on his blog ever since.  Do I have to consider him a woman, or welcome him into women’s space?

Speaking of women’s space…  Many of us have been welcomed into women’s space based upon our work within the feminist and lesbian communities, our personalities.  Even the Michigan Women’s Music Festival quietly expanded its policies to permit women identified post-transsexual women into the festival.  Yet Camp Trans continues as many will not be satisfied until people with penises can invade any and all gatherings of women.

I have been accused of being a “genital surgery essentialist” by Autumn Sandeen.  Monica Roberts, who has advocated violence against Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford, suggesting they should be pimp slapped and condoning a transvestite named Anthony Casebeer suggestion that these women be attacked with a baseball bat.  Monica Roberts, who often points out racial injustice is equally often given to hyperbole and regularly engages in phalliocentric dismissals of post-transsexual women, snidely implying that women born transsexual has racist connotations with her oh so cute”WWBT” and her disparaging of our bodies as having man-made vanilla scented neo-coochies.

Nice going Monica.  You have insured the heightening of the contradictions.

One can be woman identified or one can be part of the phalliocentric Transgender Borg Collective.  One cannot be both.

I consider the attacks upon Cathy Brennan and Elizabeth Hungerford to be unwarranted, nor do I see any real merit in the arguments coming fron the TG Borg/Inc.  The inclusiveness of the “Transgender as Umbrella” paradigm is its weakness not its strength.  They use post-transsexual women as a front when so many of them are men in their daily lives.  The refusal to limit Transgender to people who live 24/7/365 when writing legislation that grants entry to restrooms and other spaces where women expect a reasonable level of privacy, causes many women to be reasonably wary, to ask just what this means.

When post-transsexual women who have been around the scene and know what is going on because they have seen the reality take sides in this issue one may justifiably ask, “Do you stand with women, or do you stand with transvestites?”

I have been called a “radical feminist” by some in the TG Borg/Inc.  I guess I am, if that means I put the interests of women either assigned female at birth or surgically reassigned as female at a later time ahead of the interest of either transgender people or transvestites.

I put women without a prefix or adjective and their interests first, because that is what being woman identified requires.  Being woman identified isn’t an identity or make-up and clothing.  It is a commitment to women, both because you are a woman and because you put the interests of women first.

Mass Arrests in DC: We Shall No Longer Be Crucified Upon the Cross of Coal

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/09/27-7

by Jeff Biggers

Over one hundred protesters from the Appalachian coalfields were arrested in front of the White House today, defiantly calling on the Obama administration to abolish mountaintop removal mining. As part of the Appalachia Rising events, the coalfield residents took part in a multi-day series of events to bring the escalating human rights, environmental and health care crisis to the nation’s capitol.

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth leaders Teri Blanton and Mickey McCoy, the first arrested in today’s nonviolent act of civil disobedience, were joined by allies from around the country, including NASA climatologist James Hansen. Meanwhile, protesters led by the legendary Rev. Billy Talen staged a nearby sit-in at the office of the PNC bank, which remains one of the last major financiers of coal companies engaged in this extreme form of strip-mining in Appalachia.

In a stark reminder of the national connection to the coalfields, the Obama administration officials looked on from their White House offices, as their electricity came from a coal-fired plant generated partly with coal stripmined from Appalachia.

As a litmus test of the administration’s commitment to science and the rule of law, Appalachian residents are calling on the EPA to halt any new permit on the upcoming decision over the massive Spruce mountaintop removal mine.

Mountaintop removal coal only provides, in fact, less than 10 percent of all coal production.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/09/27-7

Posted in Activism, Ecology, Questioning Authority. Comments Off on Mass Arrests in DC: We Shall No Longer Be Crucified Upon the Cross of Coal

Blame the Ultra Right Wing Extremist Republicans

I’m tired of liberals, progressives and especially LGBT/T folks blaming the Democrats for actions of the ultra right wing Republi-Nazis.

As the late Molly Ivins used to say, “You got to dance with them that  brung you…”

We don’t have a Progressive Party.  Every attempt that has been made to build a third party has been performed top down and ass backwards.  The most recent example being “The Green Party”, which is now mostly a burnt out shell funded by Republi-Nazis.  Before that there was “Peace and Freedom”.  The lesson that needs to be learned is, “You do not start a political party to run someone for president.  You start by running someone for school board.”

We have spent the last 40 years or so engaging in self-defeating behavior including identity politics, only organizing among people like ourselves.

The Civil Rights Movement of the early 1960s crossed racial lines.  It may have seemed patronizing to some but a multi-racial movement had seriously left wing progressive roots and the potential to unite poor black and poor white people as well as the better educated  and higher up the class structure, leaders.  One year to the day after Martin Luther King started talking about matters of class and how poor whites and poor blacks were in much the same boat when it came to opportunity, they killed him.  They being the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

Hillary was right on that one, there is a “Vast Right Wing Conspiracy” in this country.  It is both long standing and powerful, backed by moneyed interests like Murdoch, Mellon-Scaife, and Koch.  They own the media, fund right wing think tanks, and fund astro-turf organizations like the Tea Baggers.  They are in a partnership with the religious right, which is funded via tax free tithings from their flocks.

They have a police state on their side that has the power to disrupt and destroy any movement that threatens to actually stand up for equality and social justice.  They infiltrate and subvert our movements, sow dissension and suggest we get apathetic.

They whisper in our ear, “Aww the Democrats didn’t get you what you wanted.  Why don’t you show them who is boss and sit this election out?  Why don’t you withhold money from them?”

Of course Democrats aren’t helped by having a bunch of oh so nice wimps on our side.  You know the kind, the ones who spew the lines about how calling Republi-Nazis the same sorts of names they call us is stooping to their level.  Shit, the oh so nice wimps don’t even want us to bring a knife to a gun fight, they want us to bring kind platitudes, an oath to passivity and a flower to that gun fight.

And at the first sign of failure on the part of the Democrats they want to give up.

Fuck that shit.

We let those Nazi dickwads funded by Breitbart  destroy ACORN, a truly progressive organization and we didn’t put up a protest or a fight.  We have let the media give these bestiality loving Nazis like that cum bag Paladino and self avowed Satanist Christine O’Donnell all the publicity while they ignore serious Democratic candidates who might be better equipped to govern this nation.  We aren’t making a huge uproar when Tea Bagger candidates suggest committing genocide on LGBT/T people by invoking the imprimatur of  “The Bible” and “God”.

It is time to get tough.  Out organize them and take seats from them rather than giving up seats.  If they sling one clod of mud at one of out candidates dump a truck load of manure on theirs.

The corporate funded media have treated ultra right wing airheads like Rand Paul as people to be taken seriously, when in reality they are insane and their ideas are totally un-American.

Speaking of which…  Remember Molly Ivins?  She said of Pat Buchanan’s speech at the ’92 Republi-Nazi Convention, “It probably sounded better in the original German.”

We have let these Confederate flag and Nazi values assholes trademark “American Values” and after giving them exclusive rights of usage allowed them to pervert those very same values into something I sure as hell do not recognize as American Values.

I was pretty proud of how far we have come when we elected President Obama, even prouder still when the nomination came down to being between a man of color and a woman.  When I looked at our convention I saw the common people who make up the beautiful tapestry of this diverse nation, and I was proud to be a Democrat.

Not that the Democrats have gotten me the things I want but they have at least tried.

When I looked at the Republican Convention, my only comment was….  “I…I…see white people…” They do not represent us.  The majority of the people of this nation including the majority of Republican voters support the repeal of DADT.

We have about 45 days to work for the party.  Less than half a month to show we refute all the Birther lies about Obama.  45 days to show the world how proud we are of all sorts of people, of all different races and sexualities as well as classes all pulling our oars in the same direction in 2008 to elect the first President , who wasn’t a white male.

Even if we are disappointed this isn’t a time to retreat or to surrender… And damn it I am sometimes seriously disappointed with both Obama and with our congress.  I want them to fight harder but then I realize that we Democrats are a wishy-washy bunch and we don’t like fighting.  Say something is “socialist” and we fold when we could fight for it instead and make the Democratic party represent the sort of democratic socialism they have in much of western Europe.

Am I disappointed with not having Single Payer, inclusive ENDA, the Repeal of DADT and Marriage Equality?  Damn right I am.  But giving in now means never getting those things.  Giving in now means letting a bunch of racist, homophobic bigots who care only for the interests of the rich win.

Now isn’t the time to mourn our failures. Now is the time to organize.

Wal-Mart Asks Supreme Court to Weigh In on Suit

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/26/business/26walmart.html?hp

By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
Published: August 25, 2010

Wal-Mart Stores asked the Supreme Court on Wednesday to review the largest employment discrimination lawsuit in American history, involving more than 1.5 million current or former female workers at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club stores.

Nine years after the suit was filed, the central issue before the high court will not be whether any discrimination occurred, but whether more than a million people can even make this joint claim through a class-action lawsuit, as opposed to filing claims individually or in smaller groups. In April, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco ruled 6-to-5 that the lawsuit could proceed as a jumbo class action – the fourth judicial decision upholding a class action.

The stakes are huge. If the Supreme Court allows the suit to proceed as a class action, that could easily cost Wal-Mart $1 billion or more in damages, legal experts say.

More significantly, the court’s ruling could set guidelines for other types of class-action suits. “This is the big one that will set the standards for all other class actions,” said Robin S. Conrad, executive vice president of the National Chamber Litigation Center, an arm of the Chamber of Commerce, which has filed several amicus briefs backing Wal-Mart.

Continue Reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/26/business/26walmart.html?hp

Posted in Economic Issues, Employment, Feminist, Misogyny, Questioning Authority, Racism, Sexism, Social Justice, Uncategorized, Unequal Treatment, Unionization, Workers. Comments Off on Wal-Mart Asks Supreme Court to Weigh In on Suit