Tuesday, April 30, 2013

TX Man: After 34 Years My Partner’s Sister Forced Us Apart, Took Our Home Because We Weren’t Married

From The New Civil Rights Movement:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/2-texas-man-after-34-years-my-partners-sister-legally-took-our-home-because-we-werent-married/legal-issues/2013/04/29/66089

by >David Badash
on April 29, 2013

A Texas man says he and his partner were together for 34 years but his partner’s sister has now forced them apart, taken their home, and his partner’s finances — and done it legally because they weren’t married. For the last six years his partner, Jim, who is older, suffered from Alzheimer’s. Jim’s estranged sister, Lon Watts writes on Facebook, was able to take their home and Jim’s finances through the courts by filing for guardianship — despite Lon having power of attorney.

“She put him in a Nursing Home and had criminal trespass orders against me to keep me away from him,” Lon Watts writes:
I’LL NEVER BE ABLE TO SEE HIM AGAIN! She got his bank account from Social Security Disability and sold his house out from under me. I had 2 weeks to vacate our home of 12 years.

If we were EQUAL in the eyes of the law we would be together till the end. But as it stands in Texas, a money hungry greedy relative was able to steal our life and toss me out as trash to pad her pocketbook. I pray God has mercy on her soul for her evil deeds. I am content knowing the world is coming around to acknowledge that ALL HUMANS ARE CREATED EQUAL and SHOULD HAVE EQUAL RIGHTS.
Lon’s story has been shared almost 3000 times on Facebook and has more than 3000 likes. Sadly, Lon and Jim’s story, and others like it, are the exact reason why marriage must be extended to all same-sex couples across the entire nation.

Anyone who claims needs and rights of same-sex couples can be protected through some legal forms is not only mistaken, but wholly wrong and spreading false information.

Continue reading at:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/2-texas-man-after-34-years-my-partners-sister-legally-took-our-home-because-we-werent-married/legal-issues/2013/04/29/66089

Rapists should not get custody

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/04/29/rapists_should_not_get_custody/

A shocking number of states allow custody rights to men who impregnate their victims. One state is saying "enough"


Imagine that after one of the most harrowing experiences a person could endure, a woman not only found herself pregnant but also made the bold, difficult choice to raise the child. Imagine next that her decision would then give her rapist an opportunity to remain firmly in her life, in one of the most intimate of relationships.

Imagine he wanted – and legally had the right to be – that child’s father. It’s a very real scenario, all across America. But in one state, that may soon be changing.

As a riveting CNN story last summer, at the height of “legitimate rape” fever, illuminated, a stunning majority of states – 31 of them – offer some form of visitation and custody rights for men who impregnate their rape victims. And it’s not just the threat of having to co-parent with one’s assailant that’s a nightmare for many victims — it’s the ugly opportunism it inspires. As attorney Shauna Prewitt, whose daughter was the product of a sexual assault, wrote back then, “When no law prohibits a rapist from exercising these rights, a woman may feel forced to bargain away her legal rights to a criminal trial in exchange for the rapist dropping the bid to have access to her child.” A baby can become a bargaining chip.

But a new bill before Colorado lawmakers would block rapists from exerting parental rights. Republican state Rep. Lois Landgraf, the House sponsor of the bill, is seeking to end a system whereby victims must still “face some relationship with the rapist.”

A 2010 Georgetown report on “Giving Birth to a Rapist’s Child” put the estimate of the percentage of women who carry and keep the children conceived via rape at between 32.3 percent and as high as 64 percent. And though the bill, which has already passed unanimously out of the state Senate, would not change the game for women who are still struggling through the Colorado legal system with their children; it would apply to convictions after July 1 of this year.

Protection for victims would not be automatic, either. Victims would instead be able to “file a petition in juvenile court to prevent future contact with the parent who committed the sexual assault.” But it represents a move toward far greater protection all around – a firm stance that convicted rapists are “not relieved of any obligation to pay child support unless waived by the victim,” while also granting victims the right to “a no-contact protection” if they wish. And because justice doesn’t always take place in a courtroom, the bill also proposes a task force to investigate parental rights when there have been allegations of sexual assault without a conviction.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/04/29/rapists_should_not_get_custody/

If You Think The Religious Right Wants A Cure For AIDS, You’d Be Dead Wrong

From Addicting Info:  http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/04/29/if-you-think-the-religious-right-wants-a-cure-for-aids-youd-be-dead-wrong/


From The Telegraph:
Danish scientists are expecting results that will show that “finding a mass-distributable and affordable cure to HIV is possible”.
They are conducting clinical trials to test a “novel strategy” in which the HIV virus is stripped from human DNA and destroyed permanently by the immune system.
The move would represent a dramatic step forward in the attempt to find a cure for the virus, which causes Aids.
This may or may not be finally happening. But let’s say this is true. If not now, then in the near future. What will the reaction be? Elation from the LGBT community, celebration on the left and a sigh of relief from the health insurance industry (HIV treatment is expensive). But what about the right-wing? Well, if history tells us anything. the GOP will deeply opposed to a cure. Especially a cheap one.

Why? You won’t like the answer.

Conservatives, particularly religious conservatives LOVE HIV. They absolutely love it. They love it because it disproportionately affect homosexuals and IV drug users and anything that hurts “sinners” is perfectly fine with them. Added bonus? It also hits “fornicators” and mostly leaves married monogamous couples alone.

I guarantee you, and I’ll place a money bet on it, that even if this one turns out to be a bust,when a real cure for HIV is announced, the religious right will throw a hissy fit and the GOP will kowtow to them. My proof of this deeply cynical and anti-human stance? HPV.

In 2006, an extremely effective vaccine for HPV (human papilloma virus) was created and put into widespread distribution. HPV is a very common sexually transmitted virus (upwards of 80% of American women reportedly have it) and while for most it is harmless, in some it causes cervical cancer.

What happened when politicians put the vaccine into widespread use? The religious right freaked out because eliminating an STD “promotes” promiscuity. I’m dead serious.

Continue reading at:  http://www.addictinginfo.org/2013/04/29/if-you-think-the-religious-right-wants-a-cure-for-aids-youd-be-dead-wrong/

A Desperate Situation at Guantánamo: Over 130 Prisoners on Hunger Strike, Dozens Being Force-Fed

Hunger strikes are a desperate action taken by people with no other means to call attention to their plight.

I used to be ignorant of American History.  I believed we were a good nation.

Over the years I have learned we are a blood thirsty genocidal nation, one that wages imperialistic wars and enslaves people and nations for the benefit of the rich who control corporations.

Over the last ten years I have come to realize we are a nation that thinks nothing of torturing prisoners of war.  We deny them all rights, water board them, destroy their humanity and more.

We have a history of doing this.

We did it to the Suffragists during the 1910s.

Now we do it to the prisoners in Guantanamo.

Saudi Arabia blocks climate change from UN poverty goals

From Responding to Climate Change:   http://www.rtcc.org/saudi-arabia-blocks-climate-change-from-un-poverty-goals/

By John Parnell
26 April 2013

Saudi Arabia is leading calls for climate change to be omitted from the UN’s 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

At an SDG meeting in New York last week attended by over 70 nations the Saudis, together with fellow oil producers Venezuela and the UAE called for discussions of climate change to be separated from those on energy.

The three nations feature in the top seven of proven oil reserves worldwide, and have opposed targets to encourage clean energy over fossil fuels, despite evidence that climate change will exacerbate global hunger and poverty.

“Saudi Arabia don’t want climate change in the same session yet alone the same day as energy. They don’t really want it in there at all,” Stakeholder Forum’s Farooq Ullah, who attended the meeting, told RTCC.

“They oppose climate and energy being associated with one another and say energy [targets] should only deal with energy access, which clearly indicates they don’t want to set goals around the sustainability of the source of energy,” he added.

The SDGs were established at the Rio+20 summit and are set to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which end in 2015.

Their main objective is poverty alleviation but the focus on sustainability could add momentum to climate-friendly development at a time when countries are starting negotiations over a legally binding emissions deal also set to be agreed in 2015.

“Climate change is going to be a struggle in the SDGs in general because of the UNFCCC, the UN’s climate change body,” said Ullah.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rtcc.org/saudi-arabia-blocks-climate-change-from-un-poverty-goals/

Northeast US Ocean Temperatures Highest on Record: Report

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/04/29-6

Temperature spikes causing drastic shifts in ecosystem

Jacob Chamberlain

Ocean surface temperatures off the Northeast U.S. coast last year were the highest in 150 years, according to a new report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Comparing measurements taken since 1854, the scientists from NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) said that sea surface temperatures between Cape Hatteras and the Canadian border, the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem, reached a record breaking average high of 57.2 degrees Fahrenheit last year. 

The shifting temperatures are having a drastic impact on the under-water ecosystems of the region, the NEFSC reports, with over half of 36 fish stocks in the northwest Atlantic Ocean shifting northward in the past 40 years.

The temperature increase in 2012 alone was the highest jump in temperature ever recorded, according to the NEFSC, which analyzed data from satellite remote-sensing data and long-term ship-board measurements.

Bill Trotter at the Bangor Daily News reports that recent studies have shown a correlation between warmer waters in the Gulf of Maine and bacterial outbreaks in bivalves and in sea lice infestations; a northeasterly shift of cod in the gulf into colder waters; declining shrimp catches and a recent "glut" of soft-shell lobsters last summer "that caused a plummet in prices lobstermen were receiving for their catch."

The NEFSC reports:

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/04/29-6

Global carbon dioxide levels set to pass 400ppm milestone

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/apr/29/global-carbon-dioxide-levels

The concentration of carbon in the atmosphere over the next few days is expected to hit record levels

The Guardian, Monday 29 April 2013

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached 399.72 parts per million (ppm) and is likely to pass the symbolically important 400ppm level for the first time in the next few days.

Readings at the US government's Earth Systems Research laboratory in Hawaii, are not expected to reach their 2013 peak until mid May, but were recorded at a daily average of 399.72ppm on 25 April. The weekly average stood at 398.5 on Monday.

Hourly readings above 400ppm have been recorded six times in the last week, and on occasion, at observatories in the high Arctic. But the Mauna Loa station, sited at 3,400m and far away from major pollution sources in the Pacific Ocean, has been monitoring levels for more than 50 years and is considered the gold standard.

"I wish it weren't true but it looks like the world is going to blow through the 400ppm level without losing a beat. At this pace we'll hit 450ppm within a few decades," said Ralph Keeling, a geologist with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography which operates the Hawaiian observatory.

"Each year, the concentration of CO2 at Mauna Loa rises and falls in a sawtooth fashion, with the next year higher than the year before. The peak of the sawtooth typically comes in May. If CO2 levels don't top 400ppm in May 2013, they almost certainly will next year," Keeling said.

CO2 atmospheric levels have been steadily rising for 200 years, registering around 280ppm at the start of the industrial revolution and 316ppm in 1958 when the Mauna Loa observatory started measurements. The increase in the global burning of fossil fuels is the primary cause of the increase.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/apr/29/global-carbon-dioxide-levels

Monday, April 29, 2013

LGBTQrstuv: Bisexuality & Transgender - John Corvino

No Rich Child Left Behind

From The New York Times:  http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/27/no-rich-child-left-behind/

By SEAN F. REARDON April 27, 2013

Here’s a fact that may not surprise you: the children of the rich perform better in school, on average, than children from middle-class or poor families. Students growing up in richer families have better grades and higher standardized test scores, on average, than poorer students; they also have higher rates of participation in extracurricular activities and school leadership positions, higher graduation rates and higher rates of college enrollment and completion.

Whether you think it deeply unjust, lamentable but inevitable, or obvious and unproblematic, this is hardly news. It is true in most societies and has been true in the United States for at least as long as we have thought to ask the question and had sufficient data to verify the answer.

What is news is that in the United States over the last few decades these differences in educational success between high- and lower-income students have grown substantially.

One way to see this is to look at the scores of rich and poor students on standardized math and reading tests over the last 50 years. When I did this using information from a dozen large national studies conducted between 1960 and 2010, I found that the rich-poor gap in test scores is about 40 percent larger now than it was 30 years ago.

To make this trend concrete, consider two children, one from a family with income of $165,000 and one from a family with income of $15,000. These incomes are at the 90th and 10th percentiles of the income distribution nationally, meaning that 10 percent of children today grow up in families with incomes below $15,000 and 10 percent grow up in families with incomes above $165,000.

In the 1980s, on an 800-point SAT-type test scale, the average difference in test scores between two such children would have been about 90 points; today it is 125 points. This is almost twice as large as the 70-point test score gap between white and black children. Family income is now a better predictor of children’s success in school than race.

Continue reading at:  http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/27/no-rich-child-left-behind/

The Digital Education Divide

From In These Times:  http://inthesetimes.com/article/14870/the_digital_education_divide/

Massive Open Online Courses threaten to aggravate the problems they were designed to solve.

BY Susan J. Douglas April 24, 2013

The latest, hottest thing in higher education is the MOOC: Massive Open Online Course. Students—tens of thousands, supposedly—can now sit in their PJs in their bedrooms and take an online course, free and typically for no credit. If they finish, they get a certificate. The really hot MOOCs are taught by renowned experts whose lectures can now be seen by anyone with Internet access. As Stanford, Harvard, MIT and others have introduced MOOCs, there’s been something of a panic among universities to get in on the ground floor or else be left in the dust as some old, out-of-touch, brick-and-mortar has-been.

The hype: MOOCs will revolutionize higher education. “The single biggest change in education since the printing press” is how Anant Agarwal, the computer scientist who heads the MIT-Harvard consortium offering MOOCs, has described them. “There’s a tsunami coming,” says Stanford President John Hennessy. Thomas Friedman has hailed MOOCs as driving down the cost of college and possibly even replacing traditional higher education.

Time for a skeptical breather. Would it be educational to sit in—digitally—on a free course taught by a world-famous expert in, say, art history, astronomy or Internet law? You bet. But no one knows what the funding model for MOOCs is going to be. If they’re free, how are they supported over time? Lurking in the background, given the need for a workable financial structure, is the further commercialization of higher education into for-profit centers.

The excitement about MOOCs coincides with widespread defunding of public higher education. State after state has slashed its education budget, forcing tuition prices up and constricting the ability of many institutions to hire or retain faculty. Federal funding cuts to agencies like the National Science Foundation are hampering the country’s preeminence in research. And conservatives who hate science and the liberal arts have stereotyped college professors as pampered divas who work six hours a week, when most faculty I know work somewhere between 60-70 hours a week, sometimes much more.

Online courses represent yet another way that corporate-minded administrators can squeeze more work out of faculty for less pay. Teaching an online course is considerably more labor-intensive than teaching in the classroom: The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that professors typically spend over 100 hours preparing MOOCs, and then there are the 8-10 hours every week presiding over chats, responding to emails and updating material. Right now, faculty are not being compensated for this extra work.

Continue reading at:  http://inthesetimes.com/article/14870/the_digital_education_divide/

See Also:  The New York Times: Two Cheers for Web U!

Slaves to Our Stuff: A Creative Vision to Break Away From Consumer Culture's Destructive Grip

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/environment/slaves-our-stuff-creative-vision-break-away-consumer-cultures-destructive-grip

Billy Talen, known as Reverend Billy, talks about his new book and says, "We need to be honest with ourselves about the danger we are all in with the natural world."
By Sabrina Artel
April 24, 2013

his article was published in partnership with  GlobalPossibilities.org.
Need a creative way to fight fears of our planetary demise? A new book by Billy Talen prophetically titled, The End of the World (OR Books), may be just the trick. Talen, also known as Reverend Billy, and his Church of Stop Shopping, exposes the socio-political structure of consumerism and the commoditization of the earth with songs, impassioned preaching and theater events. Talen has been arrested 70 times along with members of the Church for their acts of civil disobedience in banks and other places of corporate mediation. 

Their decade-long collaboration, under the direction of Savitri D, has brought them to communities throughout the U.S. and internationally where they have built a performance institution of communities of action with songs and uplifting protest spectacle on the streets and in concert halls. Talen and the Church’s inspiring and engaging performances ask us to take action on behalf of our home on our rapidly dying planet.
The End of the World is being promoted with the launch of the international Revolt of the Golden Toad tour, which began in San Francisco on April 22. The End of the World is a poetic cry of sermons to wake people up about the climate crisis, destruction of biodiversity, and catastrophic consumption orchestrated by global capitalism.  

Talen spoke with AlterNet about his new book and what motivates his creative actions. 

Sabrina Artel: How did this book project come about?

Billy Talen: Because of my growing feeling that human beings are losing. We’re losing ground to the corporations and the big banks, and the earth movement is losing. The big bank system needs to multiply their products and keep us in a state of consumption. Consumerism needs to be defeated. 

As I started watching the sack of diapers next to [my daughter] Lena when she was born in the hospital at St. Vincent’s they were covered by Mickey Mouse faces. Here in NY we have high pressure tests confronting first-graders. The Church of Stop Shopping and I have been active in the movement to stop paying back student debt because it’s reached a trillion dollars so that young people can’t defend the earth; young people can’t be politicized because they are saddled with debt along with their marching orders to become consumers. Climate change kills people every day. It’s dangerous. Certainly it certainly kills people who don’t have the resources to defend themselves. It’s a conscious class war.

U.S. Activists Outraged Over So-Called ‘Monsanto Protection Act’

From Inter-Press Service:   http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/04/u-s-activists-outraged-over-so-called-monsanto-protection-act/

Monday, April 29, 2013

ATLANTA, Georgia, Apr 28 2013 (IPS) - Food safety advocates are outraged over revelations that U.S. Congress and President Barack Obama approved an act that includes a provision purporting to strip federal courts of the ability to prevent the spread of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

The provision in the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2013 requires the U.S. Department of Agriculture to issue temporary permits allowing the continued planting of GMOs by farmers, even when a court rules that the agency erred in its environmental impact review of the GMOs.

The provision, which activists call the Monsanto Protection Act, is one for which the multinational corporation Monsanto has been lobbying Congress for at least a year. The legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Mar. 6, 2013 and the Senate on Mar. 21, with Obama signing the legislation five days later on Mar. 26.

Revelations of the provision, which was buried in the 587-page spending bill (HR 933, under Division A, Title VI, Section 735), have increased public awareness and interest in the issue of GMOs in the United States.

The provision states that if “a determination of non-regulated status…is or has been invalidated or vacated, the Secretary of Agriculture shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law, upon request by a farmer, grower, farm operator, or producer, immediately grant temporary permit(s) or temporary deregulation in part”.

Industry control

U.S. Senator Jon Tester, a Democrat from Montana and one of the only family farmers in Congress, spoke out against the provision on the floor on the Senate. 

“The United States Congress is telling the Agricultural Department that even if a court tells you that you’ve failed to follow the right process and tells you to start over, you must disregard the court’s ruling and allow the crop to be planted anyway,” Tester said.

“Not only does this ignore the constitutional idea of separation of powers, but it also lets genetically modified crops take hold across this country, even when a judge finds it violates the law,” Tester said, describing the issue as “once again, agribusiness multinational corporations putting farmers as serfs”.

Continue reading at:  http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/04/u-s-activists-outraged-over-so-called-monsanto-protection-act/

'We Speak for the Bees': Marchers Urge EU-Wide Ban of Killer Pesticides

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/04/26-2

'This is not abstract theorizing. Bees are dying out. Now.'

Jon Queally

They came to speak for the bees.

Ahead of an expected EU vote on Monday that will determine a possible ban on a class of pesticides that scientists say are killing off the continents' bees and other pollinators, a coalition of beekeepers, conservationists, gardeners, and environmental activists marched on Parliament in London on Friday as a way to urge the UK to join other European nations in supporting the ban.

Yellow and black dominated the scene as many in attendance dressed as bees, wore their apiary suits and carried signs that read "Like Food? Love Bees" and "No to Neonic," referring to pesticide class called neonicotinoids that a number of recent studies have tied directly to the decline of bee populations.

The organizers of the so-called "March of the Beekeepers" included Avaaz, Friends of the Earth, Buglife, Environmental Justice Foundation, Greenpeace, Pesticide Action Network UK, Soil Association and the group 38 Degrees.

"Ministers can't ignore the growing scientific evidence linking neonicotinoid insecticides to bee decline," said Friends of the Earth's campaigns director Andrew Pendleton. "Their claims to be concerned about bee health will ring hollow if they fail to back European moves to restrict the use of these chemicals."

He continued: "If we lose our bees and other vital pollinators it'll have a devastating impact on our food, gardens and environment. We urgently need tougher pesticide restrictions and a British Bee Action Plan to tackle all the threats they face." Protesters came together to demand Environment Minister Owen Patterson back moves to ban the worst bee-harming neonicotinoid pesticides. European countries will vote on the issue on Monday. 

Underlining the urgency of the threat on Friday, Greenpeace's Graham Patterson issued a stark warning: "This is not abstract theorizing. Bees are dying out. Now."

He explained:

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/04/26-2

Don't Let Monsanto Kill the Humble but Wholesome Dandelion

From Truth Out:  http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/15982-dont-let-monsanto-kill-the-humble-but-wholesome-dandelion

By Phreddy Wischusen
Thursday, 25 April 2013

I was watching TV the other day.  Commercial break.  Cut to a lush green lawn.  A single yellow dandelion springs up through the emerald expanse.  The heroic protagonist appears left.  He spies the flower, runs, dives, somersaults onto the lawn and pops up sturdily on one knee. Brandishing a bottle of weed killer, he fires.  The patented nozzle rains hell on the defenseless sunbather.  The flower withers. And dies. The lawn-owner is triumphant.  Right?

Though considered a weed by Round Up and many home/lawn owners in the United States, the dandelion is actually an incredibly nutritious food.  It’s a great source of calcium, potassium, iron and manganese.  It’s replete with vitamins A, C, E, K, Niacin and Riboflavin.  Chock full of beta-carotene. The lecithin in its golden top detoxifies the liver.   The roots can be roasted to make a coffee substitute, or used in soups.  The leaves (tastiest after they first emerge for the season or after the first frost) can be eaten, as can its sweet yellow blossoms.  People use them in salads raw, boil them, fry them with bacon, marinate them in vinegar, and sauté them with fresh garlic. Did you ever notice that if you break the stem of a dandelion that a milky white liquid comes out?  Well, you can use that liquid to ease the pain of bee stings and sores.  Remember the advice of the great ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”.  These vitamins and minerals boost the immune system, fight anemia, and help prevent the development of type II diabetes.  Remember the brain is a part of our body as well.  Healthy bodies mean healthy brains.  Proper nutrition prevents depression and anxiety and improves concentration.  Scientists even believe that lecithin may help combat Alzheimer’s.

Other cultures consume dandelions regularly.  My friend Ricardo has spent many summers living in Greece. I asked him how similar the food in Greek town was to food “normal” people eat in Greece.  “Very similar” he told me “with one crucial difference.  The Greek grandmothers gather fresh greens (dandelions especially) every day.  Then they add these greens to tomato and cucumber salads, to meals of roasted lamb, and spinach pie.”  Even in Pensacola, Florida, my friend Kate’s yaya would often demand that the car be pulled over so she could pick fresh dandelion greens off the side of the road.

The dandelion doesn’t simply nourish humans; it nourishes other plants as well.  Year after year this perennial often reappears in spite of all the mowings, weedings, and poisonings it endures.  This is because the dandelion has a “taproot”, a long twisted root that can grow three feet deep within the earth.  The taproot brings minerals and nutrients not available at the soil’s surface to neighboring plants with shorter roots.  The taproot connects us to less contaminated parts of Mother Earth.  It connects us to our foundations.

In the Round Up commercial, the protagonist is only truly successful in poisoning his home, his body and his mind while he prostrates himself before his corporate overlords.

Continue reading at:  http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/15982-dont-let-monsanto-kill-the-humble-but-wholesome-dandelion

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Bradley Manning is off limits at SF Gay Pride parade, but corporate sleaze is embraced

From The Guardian UK:   http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/27/bradley-manning-sf-gay-pride

A seemingly trivial controversy reveals quite a bit about pervasive political values

guardian.co.uk, Saturday 27 April 2013

News reports yesterday indicated that Bradley Manning, widely known to be gay, had been selected to be one of the Grand Marshals of the annual San Francisco gay pride parade, named by the LGBT Pride Celebration Committee. When the predictable backlash instantly ensued, the president of the Board of SF Pride, Lisa L Williams, quickly capitulated, issuing a cowardly, imperious statement that has to be read to be believed.

Williams proclaimed that "Manning will not be a grand marshal in this year's San Francisco Pride celebration" and termed his selection "a mistake". She blamed it all on a "staff person" who prematurely made the announcement based on a preliminary vote, and she assures us all that the culprit "has been disciplined": disciplined. She then accuses Manning of "actions which placed in harms way [sic] the lives of our men and women in uniform": a substance-free falsehood originally spread by top US military officials which has since been decisively and extensively debunked, even by some government officials (indeed, it's the US government itself, not Manning, that is guilty of "actions which placed in harms way the lives of our men and women in uniform"). And then, in my favorite part of her statement, Williams decreed to all organization members that "even the hint of support" for Manning's action - even the hint - "will not be tolerated by the leadership of San Francisco Pride". Will not be tolerated.

I originally had no intention of writing about this episode, but the more I discovered about it, the more revealing it became. So let's just consider a few of the points raised by all of this.

First, while even a hint of support for Manning will not be tolerated, there is a long roster of large corporations serving as the event's sponsors who are welcomed with open arms. The list is here. It includes AT&T and Verizon, the telecom giants that enabled the illegal warrantless eavesdropping on US citizens by the Bush administration and its NSA, only to get retroactively immunized from Congress and thus shielded from all criminal and civil liability (including a lawsuit brought in San Francisco against those corporations by their customers who were illegally spied on). Last month, AT&T was fined by OSHA for failing to protect one of its employees who was attacked, was found by the FCC last year to have overcharged customers by secretly switching them to plans they didn't want, and is now being sued by the US government for "allegedly bill[ing] the government improperly for services designed for the deaf and hard-of-hearing who place calls by typing messages over the web."

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/27/bradley-manning-sf-gay-pride

Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer

From The New York Times Magazine:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/28/magazine/our-feel-good-war-on-breast-cancer.html?ref=magazine

I used to believe that a mammogram saved my life. I even wrote that in the pages of this magazine. It was 1996, and I had just turned 35 when my doctor sent me for an initial screening — a relatively common practice at the time — that would serve as a base line when I began annual mammograms at 40. I had no family history of breast cancer, no particular risk factors for the disease.

So when the radiologist found an odd, bicycle-spoke-like pattern on the film — not even a lump — and sent me for a biopsy, I wasn’t worried. After all, who got breast cancer at 35?

It turns out I did. Recalling the fear, confusion, anger and grief of that time is still painful. My only solace was that the system worked precisely as it should: the mammogram caught my tumor early, and I was treated with a lumpectomy and six weeks of radiation; I was going to survive.

By coincidence, just a week after my diagnosis, a panel convened by the National Institutes of Health made headlines when it declined to recommend universal screening for women in their 40s; evidence simply didn’t show it significantly decreased breast-cancer deaths in that age group. What’s more, because of their denser breast tissue, younger women were subject to disproportionate false positives — leading to unnecessary biopsies and worry — as well as false negatives, in which cancer was missed entirely.

Those conclusions hit me like a sucker punch. “I am the person whose life is officially not worth saving,” I wrote angrily. When the American Cancer Society as well as the newer Susan G. Komen foundation rejected the panel’s findings, saying mammography was still the best tool to decrease breast-cancer mortality, friends across the country called to congratulate me as if I’d scored a personal victory. I considered myself a loud-and-proud example of the benefits of early detection.

Sixteen years later, my thinking has changed. As study after study revealed the limits of screening — and the dangers of overtreatment — a thought niggled at my consciousness. How much had my mammogram really mattered? Would the outcome have been the same had I bumped into the cancer on my own years later? It’s hard to argue with a good result. After all, I am alive and grateful to be here. But I’ve watched friends whose breast cancers were detected “early” die anyway. I’ve sweated out what blessedly turned out to be false alarms with many others.

Recently, a survey of three decades of screening published in November in The New England Journal of Medicine found that mammography’s impact is decidedly mixed: it does reduce, by a small percentage, the number of women who are told they have late-stage cancer, but it is far more likely to result in overdiagnosis and unnecessary treatment, including surgery, weeks of radiation and potentially toxic drugs. And yet, mammography remains an unquestioned pillar of the pink-ribbon awareness movement.

Continue reading at:   http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/28/magazine/our-feel-good-war-on-breast-cancer.html?ref=magazine

Everything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever

This is one worth buying a hard copy of Rolling Stone in order to read it carefully.

From Rolling Stone:  http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/everything-is-rigged-the-biggest-financial-scandal-yet-20130425

The Illuminati were amateurs. The second huge financial scandal of the year reveals the real international conspiracy: There's no price the big banks can't fix

By Matt Taibbi
April 25, 2013

Conspiracy theorists of the world, believers in the hidden hands of the Rothschilds and the Masons and the Illuminati, we skeptics owe you an apology. You were right. The players may be a little different, but your basic premise is correct: The world is a rigged game. We found this out in recent months, when a series of related corruption stories spilled out of the financial sector, suggesting the world's largest banks may be fixing the prices of, well, just about everything. 

You may have heard of the Libor scandal, in which at least three – and perhaps as many as 16 – of the name-brand too-big-to-fail banks have been manipulating global interest rates, in the process messing around with the prices of upward of $500 trillion (that's trillion, with a "t") worth of financial instruments. When that sprawling con burst into public view last year, it was easily the biggest financial scandal in history – MIT professor Andrew Lo even said it "dwarfs by orders of magnitude any financial scam in the history of markets."

That was bad enough, but now Libor may have a twin brother. Word has leaked out that the London-based firm ICAP, the world's largest broker of interest-rate swaps, is being investigated by American authorities for behavior that sounds eerily reminiscent of the Libor mess. Regulators are looking into whether or not a small group of brokers at ICAP may have worked with up to 15 of the world's largest banks to manipulate ISDAfix, a benchmark number used around the world to calculate the prices of interest-rate swaps.

Interest-rate swaps are a tool used by big cities, major corporations and sovereign governments to manage their debt, and the scale of their use is almost unimaginably massive. It's about a $379 trillion market, meaning that any manipulation would affect a pile of assets about 100 times the size of the United States federal budget.

It should surprise no one that among the players implicated in this scheme to fix the prices of interest-rate swaps are the same megabanks – including Barclays, UBS, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and the Royal Bank of Scotland – that serve on the Libor panel that sets global interest rates. In fact, in recent years many of these banks have already paid multimillion-dollar settlements for anti-competitive manipulation of one form or another (in addition to Libor, some were caught up in an anti-competitive scheme, detailed in Rolling Stone last year, to rig municipal-debt service auctions). Though the jumble of financial acronyms sounds like gibberish to the layperson, the fact that there may now be price-fixing scandals involving both Libor and ISDAfix suggests a single, giant mushrooming conspiracy of collusion and price-fixing hovering under the ostensibly competitive veneer of Wall Street culture.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/everything-is-rigged-the-biggest-financial-scandal-yet-20130425

Maddow: Right wing fringe is now a cynical money-making ‘racket’

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/27/maddow-right-wing-fringe-is-now-a-cynical-money-making-racket/

By David Ferguson
Saturday, April 27, 2013

Friday night on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show,” host Rachel Maddow discussed the elaborate money-making schemes dreamed up by the anti-government conspiracy theorists currently making a living off of conservative Americans’ fears about the Obama administration.

There is, for example, the Info Wars dating service.

“If you like Info Wars which is a show hosted by Alex Jones,” Maddow said, “If you like Glenn Beck and Alex Jones who says we faked the moon landing and that 9/11 was an elaborate hoax and that it was secretly the White House that bombed the Boston Marathon, Michelle Obama was in on it and there was no massacre at Sandy Hook, they were hoaxes, if you are one of those folks, a conspiracy theorist who believes in the Glenn Beck-Alex Jones view of the world, well, that doesn’t mean you don’t need love.”
Hence the prank Twitter hash tag that appeared late this week, #InfoWarsPickupLines, which featured romantic opening salvos for conspiracy-minded singles on the make like “How about we get illuminaughty and you show me your nude world order?” and “I’d like to shoot all over your grassy knoll, if you know what I mean….” or “What’s your sign? Mine is ‘Trespassers shot on sight.’”

But it doesn’t stop with just dating services. Men like Alex Jones and Glenn Beck, said Maddow, are monetizing their fame in any way they can. If you’re already in a relationship and don’t need Info Wars dating, you can still buy some Glenn Beck pants or some Rush Limbaugh iced tea.

Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), who Maddow “has always counted on the conspiracy theorists to be part of his base,” has now left Congress and decided to get back in bed with the right wing fringe. Friday, he appeared on Alex Jones’ radio show

Continue reading at:   http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/27/maddow-right-wing-fringe-is-now-a-cynical-money-making-racket/

Redesigning Civilization -- with Permaculture

Los Angeles to San Onofre: "Not So Fast!"

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/04/27

by Harvey Wasserman

A unanimous Los Angeles City Council has demanded the Nuclear Regulatory Commission conduct extended investigations before any restart at the San Onofre atomic power plant.

)The move reflects a deep-rooted public opposition to resumed operations at reactors perched in a tsunami zone near earthquake faults that threaten all of southern California.

Meanwhile, yet another top-level atomic insider has told ABC News that San Onofre Units 2 and 3 are not safe to operate.

On April 23, LA's eleven City Council members approved a resolution directing the NRC to "make no decision about restarting either San Onofre unit" until it conducts a "prudent, transparent and precautionary" investigation. The city wants "ample opportunity" for public comment and confirmation that "mandated repairs, replacements, or other actions" have been completed to guarantee the public safety.

California's largest city thus joins Del Mar, Encinitas, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Mission Viejo, San Clemente, Santa Monica, Solana Beach, Vista, Berkeley, Fairfax and the San Diego Unified School District board in asking the NRC to take all steps necessary to guarantee the public safety. Some resolutions include the demand that the NRC make utility officials testify under oath in public before San Onofre might be allowed to go back on line.

The sentiment has been echoed by U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) who chairs the Senate committee that oversees the NRC. Boxer has been joined by Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) in questioning whether Southern California Edison knew steam generators being installed at San Onofre were faulty.

The new Mitsubishi generators cost some $770,000,000. But critical tubes began banging together and sprang leaks after less than a year of operations. As many as 17% of the plant's 19,400 tubes may have been involved.

The reactors were shut in January, 2012. Edison has since billed ratepayers roughly a billion dollars for them, even though they've generated no electricity for more than a year. The utility says it needs the reactors' power for the coming southern California summer, even though the region operated just fine last summer without them.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/04/27

Arch Coal Denied Permission to Blow Up West Virginia Mountain

From Corp Watch:  http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=15835

by Puck Lo, April 25th, 2013

A subsidiary of Arch Coal of St. Louis, Missouri, has been denied permission to dump nearly three billion cubic feet of dirt into local headwater streams after blowing up a mountain in West Virginia. The object was to extract coal from a project known as the Spruce No. 1 Surface Mine.

Arch Coal, the second largest coal producer in the U.S., sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2010 when the agency vetoed a mining permit that had been approved in 2006. The EPA said that new studies published since the permit had been issued showed potential harm to the area’s water quality.

A landmark decision issued Tuesday by the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the EPA was within its rights to revoke water permits after another agency had issuing them.

“This is a major milestone in the fight to end the destructive practice of mountaintop removal mining,” Mary Anne Hitt, Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign director, wrote. “Today's ruling affirms EPA's authority to ensure the safety of our waterways and the health of our communities, including by vetoing improper permits issued by the Army Corps of Engineers.”

The damage from this project would be irreversible,” said Shawn Garvin, the Mid-Atlantic regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which has issued an order to stop the project. “EPA has a duty under the law to protect water quality and safeguard the people who rely on these waters for drinking, fishing and swimming.”

Mountaintop Coal Removal

What Arch Coal was proposing is a relatively new technology called mountaintop coal removal which has often been described as “strip mining on steroids.” Forests are razed and burned. Age-old rocks are blasted through. Giant, 20-story tall shovels and bulldozers tear into the remaining mountain, filling one 240-ton dump truck at a time. Once exposed, the embedded coal seams are carted off for processing.

The remaining rubble is dumped into surrounding valleys, submerging streams and rivers. Toxic chemicals used in the mining process, as well as naturally occurring minerals that are dangerous for wildlife and human consumption, leach out from the debris into the waterways. So far, at least 2,200 square miles (5,632 square kilometers) of the Appalachian mountain ranges have been obliterated, and 1,200 miles (1,920 kilometers) of streams have been buried, according to the EPA.

Continue reading at:  http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=15835

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Niece of Cuba's Fidel Castro denied permission to pick up gay rights award in Philadelphia

From Gay Star News:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/niece-cubas-fidel-castro-denied-permission-pick-gay-rights-award-philadelphia260413

Equality Forum calls the visa denial 'shocking'

By Greg Hernandez
26 April 2013

The niece of retired Cuban leader Fidel Castro has been denied a visa by the US State Department to travel to Philadelphia to accept an award for her work on behalf of gay rights.

Mariela Castro, director of Cuba's National Center for Sex Education, is already in the US attending meetings in New York. But Cuban diplomats are prevented from traveling more than 25 miles from the United Nations without permission.

The Equality Forum, the group which was to give Castro the award on 4 May, called the visa denial 'shocking.'

“Over the past 11 years, Equality Forum has invited leaders of the featured nation to attend. For those who needed a visa, all past visas have been approved,' Executive Director Malcolm Lazin said in a statement.
He added: 'It is shocking that our State Department would deny Ms. Castro travel to a civil rights summit – especially one held in the birthplace of our democracy that enshrines freedoms of speech and assembly.'

Lazin praised Castro for running the leading Cuban LGBT organization that offers support and services to LGBT youth and seniors, provides HIV and STD education and prevention, and combats homophobia.

'These are shared values that deserve the right to be heard regardless of political systems,' he said.

Dear famous actresses: Your looks scare me

I've gotten so tired of Photoshop Plastic World that lately I've been shooting film because film is more real.
From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/04/26/dear_famous_actress_your_plastic_face_freaks_me_out/

What have you all done to yourselves? I've loved you for decades, but your plastic features are freaking me out

By Friday, Apr 26, 2013

Hey, lady. You, lady. Beloved celebrity of my generation, icon with a career spanning decades. I saw a story about you today and I was excited, because I’ve always been your fan. Then I looked at it. And I just want to know one thing. Girl, what the eff have you done to your face?

I’ve tried to ignore it. I’ve tried not to say anything. Not just to you, today, but to lots of female celebrities, for years. I want to believe that if you were to go out and get a tattoo that said “I LOVE CHEESE” across your forehead, I would support your right to do whatever makes you happy. And as someone who keeps a stock of hair color in her closet in case there’s ever a Feriapocalypse, and who doesn’t own an item of makeup or moisturizer that doesn’t boldly feature the word “youth” on the packaging, I’m not one to espouse growing older gracefully. I’d never sell anybody on the nobility of looking like you just stepped out of a Dorothea Lange photograph.

But I’m really beginning to wonder if you’ve considered whether you’re getting your money’s worth here. I imagine you’re pretty well off. Your residuals income alone must be generous, and you still work steadily — although you haven’t actually acted in a bit. So why do you look like a crazy person? I take that back. Like a crazy doll. One side of your face is visibly higher than the other. Your skin looks like it hasn’t seen blood flow in a few years. Your long, long eyelashes flutter all the way up to your eyebrows, which are located directly below your hairline. I’ll say this, though, you are smooth as hell. If you were going for Pennywise, but with a giant pair of knockers, mission accomplished.

I want you to know that whatever you think of your fans, I don’t expect you to look like you did 25 years ago — or even a decade ago. And I’m genuinely sorry that you have to live in a crappy, supermarket tabloid-saturated, gossipy website-overrun world in which Now and Then photos of stars who’ve had the temerity to not remain forever 18 are excoriated for it. I hate that the whole, “Look at her today! Remember when she was cute?” thing exists. It sucks out loud. And I cannot fathom what it is like to try to work in an industry that churns out lithe teenagers like a Lucy Ricardo chocolate factory.

But what I’d like somebody to tell you – and your plentiful frozen-faced costars of both sexes – is that the clearly tremendous amount of time and money and no doubt physical pain you have expended has not made you look younger. It has not made you look better. It has made you look hard and expressionless and, if I didn’t know better, as if you’d somehow managed to become a CGI replica of your former self. And I’ve really got to wonder if, living in your echo chamber of show business, you’ve sacrificed the original goal of looking good for this generic, truly weird end result of your extreme procedures.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/04/26/dear_famous_actress_your_plastic_face_freaks_me_out/

Obama condemns 'assault on women's rights' in Planned Parenthood speech

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/26/obama-planned-parenthood-womens-rights

President accuses US lawmakers of trying to 'turn back the clock to the 1950s' in attempt to limit abortion rights for women

in Washington guardian.co.uk, Friday 26 April 2013 

President Obama has accused US lawmakers of wanting to "turn back the clock to the 1950s" as he launched a spirited defence of abortion services currently under attack in several states and Congress.

Speaking at a national conference held by clinic operator Planned Parenthood, he described recent legislation in 42 states banning or severely limiting the right to choose a termination as an "assault on women's rights".

In unusually blunt language, Obama also said politicians were trying to turn Planned Parenthood "into a punching bag" by attempting to withdraw its federal funding.

"After decades of progress, there's still those who want to turn back the clock to policies more suited to the 1950s than the 21st century," he said. "And they've been involved in an orchestrated and historic effort to roll back basic rights when it comes to women's health."

The White House has previously tried to avoid being dragged in to the bitter debate on abortion rights, particularly at the state level, but the growing legislative backlash has sparked a renewed effort to shore up support among Democrats.

"Forty years after the supreme court affirmed a woman's constitutional right to privacy, including the right to choose, we shouldn't have to remind people that when it comes to a woman's health, no politician should get to decide what's best for you," added Obama.

The president took the stage to a standing ovation from a crowd of about 1,000 mainly women attendees and was introduced by Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, who remarked that he was the first sitting president to ever address a Planned Parenthood group.

"Because of President Obama, being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition in America," she added.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/26/obama-planned-parenthood-womens-rights