Posted: March 31, 2015 Filed under: morning reads, Republican politics, U.S. Politics | Tags: anti-LGBT discrimination, Indiana, Mike Pence, Religious Freedom Restoration Act
Mounds State Park, near Muncie, IN with the Great Mound in the background.
My family moved to Indiana when I was ten years old. My Dad had been offered a job as a professor at Ball State Teachers College (soon to be Ball State Univerity) in Muncie. He bought his first house there in one of those brand new 1950s developments that were springing up all over to respond to the needs of returning WWII vets and other upwardly mobile couples with growing families–like my parents.
I went to school in Muncie from 6th grade on. I graduated from Muncie Central High School in 1965, and then attended Ball State for two years. Muncie is a very different city now then when I was growing up there. At that time, Muncie was home to many auto parts factories that supported the car makers in Detroit. Thousands of people traveled from rural areas in Kentucky and Tennesee to find good paying jobs there.
I never felt like I fit in in Muncie. My parents were liberals and our family was Catholic. Only one other person I can recall–my best friend–had a father who was a professor. Muncie was mostly Republican and only about 10 percent Catholic. There was actually quite a bit of prejudice against Catholics there, and that was troubling to me. Other kids seemed to look at me oddly when they found out what my Dad did. I wanted to get out of there, and after two years of college, I moved to Boston.
Even though I wanted out of Muncie as a young woman, I’ve never lost my attachment to the natural beauty of Indiana. It’s still a largely rural state in which the geography varies widely depending on the region. Northern Indiana is lake country, Southern Indiana is filled with rolling hills and gorgeous scenery. The central part of the state where I grew up is flat and is still filled with the corn and soy fields that many people believe are all there is to Indiana. It’s not true. That’s just where the Interstate highways are. But I think the farm country is beautiful too.
As the car industry fell on hard times, so did Muncie. Unemployment skyrocketed, and stayed high for decades, as the car parts factories disappeared. Today Muncie is a majority Democratic “college town,” and Ball State is the city’s biggest employer. I think I could be happy in Muncie now, and I’ve often thought of moving back there in my old age. For one thing it’s a much less expensive place to live than Boston. For another thing, I miss those open spaces where you can see the horizon in the distance on all sides.
I’m telling you all this so you can understand that I still love Indiana, and why I am so deeply saddened by the way the Tea Party movement has captured the state’s government. Dakinikat has been posting quite a bit about the latest outrage–an extreme, post-Hobby-Lobby-decision version of the so-called “Religious Freedom Restoration Act.” But that is just the tip of the iceberg.
Indiana has also been a leader in the right wing attacks on voting rights (strict voter ID law) and women’s reproductive rights (attacks on Planned Parenthood and attempts to pass extreme anti-abortion measures). Historically Indiana has tended to elect Republican Governors and Democratic Senators. I don’t know why that is, but it’s also true here in deep blue Massachusetts where for nearly 50 years I’ve lived under GOP rule. Indiana’s current governor is a very far right extremist, as the entire country now knows.
I thought I’d post some of the reactions to this horrible new law from inside Indiana.
This morning, the conservative Indianapolis Star–which endorsed Mike Pence in 2012–published a rare front page editorial:
Gov. Pence, fix ‘religious freedom’ law now.
We are at a critical moment in Indiana’s history.
And much is at stake.
Our image. Our reputation as a state that embraces people of diverse backgrounds and makes them feel welcome. And our efforts over many years to retool our economy, to attract talented workers and thriving businesses, and to improve the quality of life for millions of Hoosiers.
All of this is at risk because of a new law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, that no matter its original intent already has done enormous harm to our state and potentially our economic future.
The consequences will only get worse if our state leaders delay in fixing the deep mess created.
Half steps will not be enough. Half steps will not undo the damage.
Only bold action — action that sends an unmistakable message to the world that our state will not tolerate discrimination against any of its citizens — will be enough to reverse the damage.
Gov. Mike Pence and the General Assembly need to enact a state law to prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, education and public accommodations on the basis of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Those protections and RFRA can co-exist. They do elsewhere.
Laws protecting sexual orientation and gender identity are not foreign to Indiana.
Indianapolis, for example, has had those legal protections in place for nearly a decade. Indy’s law applies to businesses with more than six employees, and exempts religious organizations and non-profit groups.
The city’s human rights ordinance provides strong legal protection — and peace of mind —for LGBT citizens; yet, it has not placed an undue burden on businesses.
Importantly, passage of a state human rights law would send a clear message that Indiana will not tolerate discrimination. It’s crucial for that message to be communicated widely.
That would bring Indiana in line Illinois where the “religious freedom” laws is overridden by a strict non-discrimination statute; but for the moment, Pence seems determined to stick with his bigoted stance because of his ridiculous fantasy of running for president. Before this, he had no chance in hell. Now he’s becoming a laughing stock like Bobby Jindal. But even Jindal probably has a better shot at the GOP nomination than Pence does.
Bridgeton covered bridge, Indiana
Fox 59 Indianapolis: Indiana’s reputation taking a hit over religious freedom bill.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 30, 2015)– Those who work in tourism in Indianapolis fear the economic impact and damage the religious freedom legislation could bring to the city and state’s economy. Sunday, Visit Indy said conventions had expressed questions about the controversial legislation, but none had expressed interest in leaving.
Monday, labor union AFSCME announced it would pull its women’s conference out of downtown Indianapolis. It was scheduled for October 9th through October 11th. Visit Indy said the conference was to be held at the JW Marriott downtown, with 800 expected attendees and an estimated $500,000 in economic impact.
Meanwhile, the state remained in the crosshairs online Monday, with the hashtag #boycottIndiana going strong on Twitter.
Cher criticized Governor Mike Pence over the weekend, and Apple CEO Tim Cookpenned an editorial in the Washington Post calling religious freedom laws like Indiana’s dangerous.
Visit Indy said they’re in crisis mode reassuring conventions Hoosiers are welcoming. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is taking a stand, too. Open for service stickers are affixed to the museum’s windows.
“We wanted to reaffirm to the community that we welcome everyone,” said Brian Statz, Vice-President of Operations and General Counsel.
Then Statz had better get busy and put serious pressure on Pence and the legislature, because this backlash has reached critical mass and it’s not going away anytime soon.
Bean Blossom covered bridge
CBS 4 Indianapolis: City-County Council passes resolution opposing RFRA, sends loud message to state leaders.
INDIANAPOLIS (March 30, 2015)–The Indianapolis City-County Council passed a resolution Monday night opposing the new Religious Freedom Restoration law. The measure was sponsored and introduced by 16 council members on both sides of aisle. It passed in a 24-4 vote.
The resolution will now be sent to Statehouse for Gov. Mike Pence’s viewing.
Supporters of the measure say the current version of the law hurts Indiana commerce, repels young talented professionals and further tarnishes the Hoosier image.
“As the representatives of the city and the county, we feel it is our job to make sure we are doing everything to fight back and let the world know that Indianapolis is a welcoming place,” said John Barth, City-County Council vice president.
“If they need to repeal it then repeal it. If they can fix it, then fix it! But make it count and that’s really what we are saying tonight,” said Councilor Jeff Miller.
Before the meeting, those opposed to the new law rallied in-front of the City-Market. Chants and signs sent a clear message to the rest of the world: “No hate in our State.”
“Under no terms or wording is discrimination acceptable,” said Patrick Dutchess.
“The support that our community has had here in Indiana to say we don’t agree with the governor is amazing,” said Angie Alexander.
Indiana’s Brown County State Park in Fall.
CBS 4: Butler, Purdue and other Indiana university presidents issue statements on religious freedom bill.
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (March 29, 2015) — Presidents of universities in Indiana are speaking out after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act last week. Questions remain about what Indiana’s new religious freedom bill means and the power it holds….
The president of Butler University, James Danko, released a statement on Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act on Sunday. The statement reads:
As president of Butler University I am particularly sensitive to the importance of supporting and facilitating an environment of open dialogue and critical inquiry, where free speech and a wide range of opinion is valued and respected. Thus, it is with a certain degree of apprehension that I step into the controversy surrounding Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
However, over the past week I have heard from many Butler community members—as well as prospective students, parents, and employees—who have expressed concerns about the impact this law may have on our state and our University. As such, I feel compelled to share my perspective and to reinforce the values of Butler University.
While I have read a variety of opinions and rationale for RFRA, it strikes me as ill-conceived legislation at best, and I fear that some of those who advanced it have allowed their personal or political agendas to supersede the best interests of the State of Indiana and its people. No matter your opinion of the law, it is hard to argue with the fact it has done significant damage to our state.
Like countless other Hoosier institutions, organizations, and businesses, Butler University reaffirms our longstanding commitment to reject discrimination and create an environment that is open to everyone.
Today, more than ever, it is important that we continue to build, cultivate, and defend a culture in which all members of our community—students, alumni, faculty, staff, and the public—can learn, work, engage, and thrive. It is our sincere hope that those around the country with their ears turned toward our Hoosier state hear just one thing loud and clear—the united voice of millions who support inclusion and abhor discrimination.
Butler is an institution where all people are welcome and valued, regardless of sexual orientation, religion, gender, race, or ethnicity; a culture of acceptance and inclusivity that is as old as the University itself. Butler was the first school in Indiana and third in the United States to enroll women as students on an equal basis with men, was among the first colleges in the nation to enroll African Americans, and was the second U.S. school to name a female professor to its faculty.
I strongly encourage our state leaders to take immediate action to address the damage done by this legislation and to reaffirm the fact that Indiana is a place that welcomes, supports, respects, and values all people.
Click on the link to read statements from the presidents of Ball State University, Hanover College, and Perdue (former governor Mitch Daniels is president).
Versailles State Park, Indiana
Where are these so-called “religious freedom” laws coming from? The Christian Science Monitor tried to find out. The obvious candidate is ALEC, but they claimed to CSM that they aren’t drafted the legislation.
Who’s pushing the religious freedom laws in states?
But when asked whether ALEC was involved in supporting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, ALEC spokesperson Bill Meierling responds: “We do not work on firearms, marriage equality, immigration, any of those things people frequently say are ours.”
Still, North Carolina state Rep. Graig R. Meyer of (D) Durham says that ALEC is having a profound effect on how state legislators in his state are picking their targets.
“While ALEC may not be directly distributing the template legislation we’re seeing pop up all over the country, they are primarily the network for legislative exchange that is operating as a provider of educational seminars and conferences,” Mr. Meyer says in a phone interview.
One such ALEC conference was held in North Carolina. “While nobody can say for sure where the next religious freedom law bill will pop up, it’s probably a safe bet to look at where their most recent national conferences were held and where the next one will be,” says Meyer.
The last ALEC national conference was held in December in Washington, D.C. The next one coming up will be in San Diego, Calif., according to ALEC’s Meierling. He describes the organization as “an exchange of legislators and entrepreneurs who come together to discuss policy.”
A Source Watch report on the legislative authors of Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) shows many are also on the ALEC Indiana membership list. Three of the bill’s co-authors are also ALEC Task Force committee chairs, including Indiana state Sen. Carlin J. Yoder (R) of District 12, Sen. Jean Leising (R) of District 42, and Sen. Jim Buck (R) of District 21, according to Source Watch.
Other Democratic legislators say ALEC is shaping conservative legislation in their state. For example, Arizona state Sen. Steve Farley sees the non-profit group as a driver of debate on gun legislation and the recently aired idea of mandating church attendance in his state.
Mandating church attendance???!!! I certainly hope that doesn’t catch on. I don’t trust this Supreme Court to protect us.
What else is happening today? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread.
Posted: March 30, 2015 Filed under: morning reads | Tags: dalits, religious bigotry, untouchables
Well, it’s my turn to be so busy and exhausted that I’m late with the post! I also have to admit that I really didn’t want to look at the news much this weekend since most of it’s been Republicans running rabid all over state legislatures any way. I’d like to continue to focus on the dangerous and Constitutionally subversive “religious freedom” bills in Indiana and other places.
Much like the arguments for slavery and Jim Crow Laws, bigoted people who happen to use the bible to back up their perverse christianist views basically feel they have a right to ignore laws they don’t like. Not only does this include refusing public accommodations to GLBT, it includes refusing prescription services and complete health care to women. I believe it’s only a time before we start seeing people refuse to serve various religious groups or other minorities because their ‘bible’ tells them so. Fortunately and at least up until the freaking Hobby Lobby Decision, SCOTUS and the Constitution disagree.
I’m using pictures today from a BBC photo News special on India’s Untouchables and from an advocacy group for Dalit in India. Indian’s ancient caste system is a pretty good example of what these laws seek to do.
Here’s a few links of interest.
There are actually 19 states with similar laws to Indiana. You might remember that Arizona’s Governor Brewster actually vetoed similar legislation over warnings from the business community. There’s a chart there at WAPO if you’d like to check the status of your state.
Forty percent of U.S. states have something similar to Indiana, as does the federal government.
A federal RFRA signed by President Clinton in 1993 shares language with Indiana and other states’ bills, prohibiting the government from “substantially burdening” individuals’ exercise of religion unless it is for a “compelling government interest” and is doing so in the least restrictive means.
The fact that legislation like this is so widespread probably gave Pence some confidence in signing the bill, despite the controversy in Arizona last year over its bill that was ultimately scrapped, and in other states, likeGeorgia, which are considering similar measures this year (the NCSL found 13 additional states are considering their own RFRA legislation).
Indiana’s law has some differences which makes it ripe for protest.
There’s a factual dispute about the new Indiana law. It is called a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” like the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed in 1993.* Thus a number of its defenders have claimed it is really the same law. Here, for example, is the Weekly Standard’s John McCormack: “Is there any difference between Indiana’s law and the federal law? Nothing significant.” I am not sure what McCormack was thinking; but even my old employer, The Washington Post, seems to believe that if a law has a similar title as another law, they must be identical. “Indiana is actually soon to be just one of 20 states with a version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA,” thePost’s Hunter Schwarz wrote, linking to this map created by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
The problem with this statement is that, well, it’s false. That becomes clear when you read and compare those tedious state statutes. If you do that, you will find that the Indiana statute has two features the federal RFRA—and most state RFRAs—do not. First, the Indiana law explicitly allows any for-profit business to assert a right to “the free exercise of religion.” The federal RFRA doesn’t contain such language, and neither does any of the state RFRAs except South Carolina’s; in fact, Louisiana and Pennsylvania, explicitly exclude for-profit businesses from the protection of their RFRAs.
The new Indiana statute also contains this odd language: “A person whose exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened, by a violation of this chapter may assert the violation or impending violation as a claim or defense in a judicial or administrative proceeding, regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.” (My italics.) Neither the federal RFRA, nor 18 of the 19 state statutes cited by the Post, says anything like this; only the Texas RFRA, passed in 1999, contains similar language.
What these words mean is, first, that the Indiana statute explicitly recognizes that a for-profit corporation has “free exercise” rights matching those of individuals or churches. A lot of legal thinkers thought that idea was outlandish until last year’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, in which the Court’s five conservatives interpreted the federal RFRA to give some corporate employers a religious veto over their employees’ statutory right to contraceptive coverage.
Second, the Indiana statute explicitly makes a business’s “free exercise” right a defense against a private lawsuit by another person, rather than simply against actions brought by government. Why does this matter? Well, there’s a lot of evidence that the new wave of “religious freedom” legislation was impelled, at least in part, by a panic over a New Mexico state-court decision, Elane Photography v. Willock. In that case, a same-sex couple sued a professional photography studio that refused to photograph the couple’s wedding. New Mexico law bars discrimination in “public accommodations” on the basis of sexual orientation. The studio said that New Mexico’s RFRA nonetheless barred the suit; but the state’s Supreme Court held that the RFRA did not apply “because the government is not a party.”
Remarkably enough, soon after, language found its way into the Indiana statute to make sure that no Indiana court could ever make a similar decision.
Because of these differences, it can be argued that the Media may be misrepresenting the law. This is in reference to the WAPO post above.
On Friday, the Washington Post published an article titled “19 states that have ‘religious freedom’ laws like Indiana’s that no one is boycotting.” The article snarks about organizations like the NCAA that have protested Indiana’s law, noting “the NCAA didn’t say it was concerned over how athletes and employees would be affected by Kentucky’s RFRA when games were played there last week.” The piece concludes “Indiana might be treated as if it’s the only state with a bill like this, but it’s not.” The piece has been shared over 75,000 times on Facebook.
The Washington Post article largely mirrors the argument advanced by Indiana Governor Mike Pence. Appearing on ABC’s This Week, Pence claimed “Then state-Sen. Barack Obama voted for [the Religious Freedom Restoration Act]. The very same language.”
The same argument is parroted on Fox News and elsewhere.
The Indiana law differs substantially from the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, signed by President Clinton in 1993, and all other state RFRAs.
There are several important differences in the Indiana bill but the most striking is Section 9. Under that section, a “person” (which under the law includes not only an individual but also any organization, partnership, LLC, corporation, company, firm, church, religious society, or other entity) whose “exercise of religion has been substantially burdened, or is likely to be substantially burdened” can use the law as “a claim or defense… regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity is a party to the proceeding.”
Every other Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies to disputes between a person or entity and a government. Indiana’s is the only law that explicitly applies to disputes between private citizens.* This means it could be used as a cudgel by corporations to justify discrimination against individuals that might otherwise be protected under law. Indiana trial lawyer Matt Anderson, discussing this difference, writes that the Indiana law is “more broadly written than its federal and state predecessors” and opens up “the path of least resistance among its species to have a court adjudicate it in a manner that could ultimately be used to discriminate…”
This is not a trivial distinction. Arizona enacted an RFRA that applied to actions involving the government in 2012. When the state legislature tried to expand it to purely private disputes in 2014, nationwide protests erupted and Jan Brewer, Arizona’s Republican governor, vetoed the measure.
Thirty law professors who are experts in religious freedom wrote in February that the Indiana law does not “mirror the language of the federal RFRA” and “will… createconfusion, conflict, and a wave of litigation that will threaten the clarity of religious liberty rights in Indiana while undermining the state’s ability to enforce other compelling interests. This confusion and conflict will increasingly take the form of private actors, such as employers, landlords, small business owners, or corporations, taking the law into their own hands and acting in ways that violate generally applicable laws on the grounds that they have a religious justification for doing so. Members of the public will then be asked to bear the cost of their employer’s, their landlord’s, their local shopkeeper’s, or a police officer’s private religious beliefs.”
Various federal courts have differing interpretations of the scope of the federal RFRA. The Indiana law explicitly resolves all those disputes in one direction — and then goes even further.
Make no mistake about it, religious ‘freedom’ laws are about bigotry and discrimination. Apple CEO’s Tim Cook has taken a very public stance on these bills as a member of the business community and a gay man from the South.
There’s something very dangerous happening in states across the country.
A wave of legislation, introduced in more than two dozen states, would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors. Some, such as the bill enacted in Indiana last week that drew a national outcry and one passed in Arkansas, say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law.
Others are more transparent in their effort to discriminate. Legislation being considered in Texas would strip the salaries and pensions of clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — even if the Supreme Court strikes down Texas’ marriage ban later this year. In total, there are nearly 100 bills designed to enshrine discrimination in state law.
These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.
America’s business community recognized a long time ago that discrimination, in all its forms, is bad for business. At Apple, we are in business to empower and enrich our customers’ lives. We strive to do business in a way that is just and fair. That’s why, on behalf of Apple, I’m standing up to oppose this new wave of legislation — wherever it emerges. I’m writing in the hopes that many more will join this movement. From North Carolina to Nevada, these bills under consideration truly will hurt jobs, growth and the economic vibrancy of parts of the country where a 21st-century economy was once welcomed with open arms.
We’ve had a history of repeating the mistakes that our founders sought to fix in the Constitution. Let’s stop this entire movement dead in its tracks. These people may think that their religious bigotry puts them above the law, but it doesn’t and it shouldn’t.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today? This is an open thread.
Posted: March 29, 2015 Filed under: just because
Things are still the same here in Banjoville. I am still sick as a dawg, and it is even worse because I am exhausted.
So…the post is what it is this morning, mainly links to stories that I have saved over the last few weeks. Nothing deep or disturbing. ( Unless the images from the children’s books Elephant and Piggie count.)
Title of the post comes from an old South Park episode, like the second or third episode ever.
“Pig and Elephant DNA Just Won’t Splice” is a song that Dr. Alphonse Mephesto and later Chef sings in the Season Oneepisode, “An Elephant Makes Love to a Pig“.
When the boys visit the South Park Genetic Engineering Ranch in an attempt to cross the DNA of Cartman’s pot-bellied pig Fluffyand Kyle’s Elephant, Dr. Mephesto tells them that doing so is impossible, and that pig and elephant DNA just won’t splice. He then mentions that the 1980s pop rock band ‘Loverboy’, (purportedly) wrote a song about it, which he then performs, with his assistant Kevin acting as a dancer.
Later on, the boys tell Chef about their unsuccessful attempt to create a pot-bellied elephant, and Chef also begins to perform the song, but stops halfway upon realizing that a pot-bellied elephant is a good idea, and tells the boys that since genetic engineering is out of the question, the only way to create one is to get the elephant and Fluffy to make “sweet love.”
Da’n Do-A, pig and elephant D-N-A
just won’t splice!
The reason I thought of this song in the first place?
Woolly Mammoth DNA Inserted into Elephant Cells
The idea of bringing extinct animals back to life continues to reside in the realm of science fiction. But scientists have taken a small step closer to that goal, by inserting the DNA of a woolly mammoth into lab-grown elephant cells.
Harvard geneticist George Church and his colleagues used a gene-editing technique known as CRISPR to insert mammoth genes for small ears, subcutaneous fat, and hair length and color into the DNA of elephant skin cells. The work has not yet been published in a scientific journal, and has yet to be reviewed by peers in the field.
Woolly mammoths (Mammuthus primigenius) have been extinct for millennia, with the last of the species dying out about 3,600 years ago. But scientists say it may be possible to bring these and other species back from the grave, through a process known as de-extinction. [Photos: 6 Extinct Animals That Could Be Brought Back to Life]
But we won’t be seeing woolly mammoths prancing around anytime soon, “because there is more work to do,” Church told U.K.’s The Times, according to Popular Science. “But we plan to do so,” Church added.
Splicing mammoth DNA into elephant cells is only the first step in a lengthy process, Church said. Next, they need to find a way to turn the hybrid cells into specialized tissues, to see if they produce the right traits. For instance, the researchers need to make sure the mammoth genes produce hair of the right color and texture.
After that, the team plans to grow the hybrid cells in an artificial womb; scientists and animal-rights advocates have deemed it unethical to grow them in a living elephant’s womb.
The best part of this is the next few paragraphs. Go to the link to read the plans for the mammoths after they are bred, I mean spliced.
Other cool news: Costa Rica is now running completely on renewable energy – Quartz
Costa Rica is running without having to burn a single fossil fuel, and it’s been doing so for 75 straight days.
Thanks to some heavy rainfall this year, Costa Rica’s hydropower plants alone are generating nearly enough electricity to power the entire country. With a boost from geothermal, solar, and wind energy sources, the country doesn’t need an ounce of coal or petroleum to keep the lights on. Of course, the country has a lot of things going in its favor. Costa Rica is a small nation, has less than 5 million people, doesn’t have much of a manufacturing industry that would require a lot of energy, and is filled with volcanoes and other topographical features that lend themselves to renewable energy.
Sticking with science, and a bit of common fucking sense: Babies at risk from breast milk bought over internet – Health News – Health & Families – The Independent
Seriously? I mean who would feed their baby something bought like this? I just….have no words.
Other links, because I am so sick, and coughing so much I can’t see straight.
More charges possible after mom, stepmom allegedly assault son’s bullies at Cooper Academy | Crime | FresnoBee.com
So you go from people feeding their babies breast milk they get online, to moms beating up on their kid’s bullies.
I understand and identify with the protective mamas myself….
Neanderthals Wore Eagle Talons As Jewelry 130,000 Years Ago
Hopes of preserving Cherokee language rest with children – News-Record.com: North Carolina Ap
How Do You Say ‘Bastard’ in Medieval Latin?
10 Words Every Girl Should Learn
When Vietnamese people say American they always mean white | San Diego Reader
Vincent Price in a Smirnoff ad. |
Innit that an awesome ad? More info at the link.
Finally: Two elephants save truck from overturning – WNEM TV 5
Read the story at the link, there is video too.
Now, have a good day, I am waiting to hear back from doctor. Take care…
This is an open thread.
Posted: March 28, 2015 Filed under: Foreign Affairs, morning reads, Republican politics, U.S. Politics | Tags: Amanda Knox, Andreas Lubitz, defense spending, East Village explosion, East Village history, gas leak, Germanwings crash, GOP Clown Car, LGBT prejudice, New York City, Rand Paul, Saudi Arabia, Yemen
I can’t wait for spring flowers and warmer weather, can you tell? I have all the symptoms of Spring fever, including inability to concentrate on anything serious, like politics or plane crashes. But I’ll do my best to give you some interesting links on this lazy late March Saturday.
I’m sure you’ve heard by now that Amanda Knox has finally been freed to live her life without the bizarre Italian legal system breathing down her neck. From the Chicago Tribune: Amanda Knox conviction thrown out by Italian court, closing legal saga.
Amanda Knox, who maintained that she and her former Italian boyfriend were innocent in her British roommate’s murder through multiple trials and nearly four years in jail, was vindicated Friday when Italy’s highest court threw out their convictions once and for all.
“Finished!” Knox’s lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova exulted after the decision was read out late Friday. “It couldn’t be better than this.”
The surprise decision definitively ends the 7½-year legal battle waged by Knox, 27, and co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito, 31, to clear their names in the gruesome 2007 murder and sexual assault of British student Meredith Kercher.
The supreme Court of Cassation panel deliberated for 10 hours before declaring that the two did not commit the crime, a stronger exoneration than merely finding insufficient evidence to convict. Instead, had the court-of-resort upheld the pair’s convictions, Knox would have faced 28 ½ years in an Italian prison, assuming she would have been extradited, while Sollecito had faced 25 years.
“Right now I’m still absorbing what all this means and what comes to mind is my gratitude for the life that’s been given to me,” Knox said late Friday, speaking to reporters outside her mother’s Seattle home.
This case has made me grateful that in the U.S. Constitution contains a double jeopardy clause.
Things are getting really ugly in Yemen. From The Washington Post: How the Yemen conflict risks new chaos in the Middle East.
BEIRUT — The meltdown in Yemen is pushing the Middle East dangerously closer to the wider regional conflagration many long have feared would arise from the chaos unleashed by the Arab Spring revolts.
What began as a peaceful struggle to unseat a Yemeni strongman four years ago and then mutated into civil strife now risks spiraling into a full-blown war between regional rivals Saudi Arabia and Iran over a country that lies at the choke point of one of the world’s major oil supply routes.
With negotiators chasing a Tuesday deadline for the framework of a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program, it seems unlikely that Iran would immediately respond militarily to this week’s Saudi airstrikes in Yemen, analysts say.
But the confrontation has added a new layer of unpredictability — and confusion — to the many, multidimensional conflicts that have turned large swaths of the Middle East into war zones over the past four years, analysts say.
The United States is aligned alongside Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and against them in Yemen. Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, who have joined in the Saudi offensive in Yemen, are bombing factions in Libya backed by Turkey and Qatar, who also support the Saudi offensive in Yemen. The Syrian conflict has been fueled by competition among all regional powers to outmaneuver one another on battlefields far from home.
Scary. All this because George W. Bush lied us into two needless, unwinnable wars.
Ahramonline: Arab leaders pledge support to Yemen.
Although Saturday’s Arab League summit was due to cover a range of regional topics, the ongoing crisis in Yemen took the lead spot as the summit opened with speeches from Arab leaders.
A Saudi-led military offensive is underway against targets held by Houthi rebels in the turmoil-hit country, with the backing of a number of Arab states.
In his opening speech, Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said that military action was “inevitable” to restore legitimate rule in Yemen.
El-Sisi also said that Egypt has accepted a proposal by a meeting of Arab foreign ministers to form a joint Arab military force to counter the “unprecedented threats” facing the region’s stability.
Arab foreign ministers agreed on a draft resolution to form a joint Arab military force to counter growing security threats in the region. The proposal requires the endorsement of the Arab leaders during the two-day summit this weekend.
Saudi’s King Salman vowed in his opening speech that the military intervention will not stop until Yemen is stable and safe. The monarch said that Saudi Arabia supports the Hadi government’s legitimacy in Yemen and wants stability for the Yemeni population.
He further stated that the situation in the region necessitates an Arab coalition to fight terrorism.
More details from CNN: Arab League to discuss military operation in Yemen.
The Wall Street Journal on the incredibly selfish, suicidal co-pilot of that crashed Germanwings jet: Germanwings Co-Pilot Andreas Lubitz Concealed Depression From Airline.
BERLIN—Andreas Lubitz, the Germanwings co-pilot who crashed an airliner into a French mountainside, was being treated for depression, a fact he concealed from his employer, according to a person familiar with the investigation.
Mr. Lubitz had been excused from work by his neuropsychologist for a period that included the day of the crash, this person told The Wall Street Journal, but he decided to ignore the advice and reported to work.
The Germanwings tragedy highlights a broader industry dilemma: reliance on pilots themselves to disclose serious physical or psychological ailments to their employer—and what can happen when secrecy urges or privacy considerations trump full disclosure, safety and medial experts say.
Despite mandatory, regular medical exams—supplemented by company-specific safeguards intended to periodically check on aviators’ skills and psychological state—airlines ultimately depend on employees to honestly assess and report when they shouldn’t be flying.
In return, Germanwings, a unit of Deutsche Lufthansa AG, and many other airlines around the globe promise to avoid punishing pilots who comply with that guiding principle.
Read more at the WSJ. As Dakinikat wrote yesterday, this guy could have just shot himself or jumped out of a high window, but instead he decided to take 149 other people–including babies and high school kids–with him when he committed suicide.
A few stories on the terrible explosion in NYC’s East Village:
Newsweek: A Slice of New York City History Goes Up In Smoke.
An explosion in Manhattan’s East Village on Thursday injured an estimated 25 people and destroyed a row of landmarked buildings that have held meaning for generations of New Yorkers. At one time the mayor’s residence was there, and another building housed an iconic vintage-clothing store made popular in the 1985 film Desperately Seeking Susan.
“It’s a real tragedy. It was scary,” says Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council. “It’s shocking when this happens in an area that’s so close-knit. People really live on the streets here, in a good way. There’s a real community.”
City officials say the March 26 explosion happened at 121 Second Avenue and also damaged the neighboring buildings at 119, 123 and 125. The buildings all were awarded landmark status in October 2012 as part of a designation of an East Village/Lower East Side Historic District. The buildings in that district date mostly to the mid- to late 1800s, a time when wealthier New Yorkers started moving uptown and selling off their properties, which were often turned into tenement housing.
European immigrants began moving into the area in large numbers in the second half of the 19th century. An early influx consisted mostly of Germans, and the area became known as Kleindeutschland, or Little Germany. Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe moved there too and established a vibrant theater district.
“The East Village and the Lower East Side are remarkable in that they’ve seen successive waves of immigrants and new populations coming in and really shaping and affecting the physical environment, bringing with them their social clubs, their gathering places,” Bankoff says.
By the middle of the 20th century, the Village became an epicenter for artists and bohemians.
The historic district, one of 114 in the city, runs north-south from around East 7th Street to East Second Street and east-west from First and Second avenues to the Bowery.
Click on the above link to continue reading. More details on the fire at ABC News: NYC Building Fire: Restaurant Owner Smelled Gas Before Massive Explosion, Officials Say.
From The New Yorker, a thoughtful and interesting essay on living in the East Village by Sarah Larson: The East Village Fire: Love Saves the Day.
Finally, one of the passengers in the GOP Clown Car, faux libertarian Rand Paul, opens his big mouth and spews nonsense and hate.
From Charles Pierce’s “Stupid for Lunch” cafe: Rand Paul’s Take On Defense Spending. In which the cafe staff starts the five minute clock for Senator Rand Paul.
The staff at the Cafe has a small clock in one particular booth. The booth is reserved for Senator Rand Paul, whenever he stops by for a quick lunch, for which he invariably undertips, when he doesn’t try to beat itout the back door.
Time was when Senator Aqua Buddha entertained us all — five minutes at a time — about how the country was wasting its money on a whole mess of sophisticated boom-boom. The staff knows when to begin the countdown and they begin invariably to whisper again…
Continue reading at the link.
Atheist Ayn Rand must be spinning in her grave over this from TPM.
Rand: ‘Moral Crisis’ Led To Gay Marriage, US Needs Religious Revival.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on Thursday told a group of pastors and religious leaders that the debate over gay marriage was a symptom of a “moral crisis” in America and said he hoped for “another Great Awakening.”
“Don’t always look to Washington to solve anything,” Paul said during a private prayer breakfast at the Capitol Hill Club.
“In fact, the moral crisis we have in our country — there is a role for us trying to figure out things like marriage — there’s also a moral crisis that allows people to think that there would be some sort of other marriage.”
Raw Story: Rand Paul calls for ‘tent revivals’ to resolve the ‘moral crisis’ of gay marriage.
“The moral crisis we have in our country — there is a role for us trying to figure out things like marriage — there’s also a moral crisis that allows people to think there would be some other sort of marriage, ” he explained. “I think the exhortation to try and change people’s thoughts has to come from the countryside.”
The libertarian lawmaker then took a slightly religious turn, saying “You know, I’ve said this before, we need a revival in the country.”
“We need another great awakening with tent revivals of thousands of people saying, you know,’reform or see what’s going to happen if we don’t reform’.”
In a recent interview with Brett Baier of Fox News, Paul admitted that the use of the term ‘marriage’ for same sex couples offends him.
Watch the video at Raw Story. Honestly, I think that cartoon JJ post last night is beginning to make sense. Someone must have put LSD in Rand’s grits when he was a kid. Why would anyone vote for this wacko?
I’d write about the latest “revelations” about Hillary’s emails, but I don’t want to completely depress myself. I have to believe this will all die down before the 2016 primaries.
What have you been hearing and reading? Let us know in the comment thread and enjoy the rest of March. April is coming soon!
Posted: March 27, 2015 Filed under: GLBT Rights, Women's Healthcare, Women's Rights | Tags: bigotry, Indiana, Mike Pence, religious freedom
Right wing religious extremists in the US continue their incredible movement to ignore our Constitution’s separation of church and state to push hate agendas throughout various states in the country. The hate was front and center in Indiana as Governor Mike Pence signed a bill that basically labels bigotry as “religious freedom.” We continue to see Jim Crow type laws established so bigot business owners can openly refuse service to GLBT Americans.
The Indiana bill is part of a wave of recent legislation seeking to guarantee “religious freedom” on the part of organizations or businesses who want to retain the right to discriminate against gay people. While the advocates usually posit a baker who doesn’t want to have to take business from a gay couple seeking a wedding cake as the person the law would protect, the laws are often written so vaguely that they would allow almost any kind of discrimination, so long as the discriminator justifies it on the basis of their religious beliefs.
The bill in Indiana doesn’t mention words like “gay” at all. It merely says that the government can’t “substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion.” And a key element of the conservative Christian argument about religious freedom is that “exercise” of religion isn’t just about rituals and prayer and worship; it extends to everything, including commerce.
The implications are therefore enormous. Forget about the baker — what if you own a restaurant and think homosexuality is an abomination, and therefore you want to hang a “No gays allowed” sign in your window? Under this law, you’d be able to. Or what if you’re a Muslim who owns an auto repair shop, and you want to refuse to serve women, because you say your religion tells you that women shouldn’t drive?
Those kinds of concerns are what led former governor Jan Brewer to veto a similar bill in Arizona, after she got all kinds of pressure from the state’s business community, which feared boycotts of the state. That same pressure has been building in Indiana, though it doesn’t seem to have moved Governor Pence.
The more news this Indiana law gets, the more likely it is that it will become an issue in the presidential primaries. And it fits neatly within the key divide among Republicans: on one side you could have business groups that are nervous about negative economic impacts and strategists who don’t want the GOP to be known as the party of discrimination, while on the other side you have candidates eager for the votes of religious right primary voters.
Pence signed the bill in private and against the outcry of many in the business community who are now pulling business from the state. This is from the Indianapolis Star. This includes a video of his statement and a presser with Q&A.
The nation’s latest legislative battle over religious freedom and gay rights came to a close Thursday when Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a controversial “religious freedom” bill into law.
His action followed two days of intense pressure from opponents — including technology company executives and convention organizers — who fear the measure could allow discrimination, particularly against gays and lesbians.
Pence and leaders of the Republican-controlled General Assembly called those concerns a “misunderstanding.”
“This bill is not about discrimination,” Pence said, “and if I thought it legalized discrimination I would have vetoed it.”
Senate Bill 101 prohibits state or local governments from substantially burdening a person’s ability to exercise their religion — unless the government can show that it has a compelling interest and that the action is the least-restrictive means of achieving it. It takes effect July 1.
Although the bill does not mention sexual orientation, opponents fear it could allow business owners to deny services to gays and lesbians for religious reasons.
Pence signed the bill during a private ceremony in his Statehouse office just before 10 a.m. Thursday. He was joined by supportive lawmakers, Franciscan monks and nuns, orthodox Jews, and some of the state’s most powerful lobbyists on conservative social issues.
The event was closed to the public and the press.
As I said, the response from businesses was swift and drastic.
The CEO of major U.S. corporation is following through on his warning to the State of Indiana to not pass a discriminatory “religious freedom” bill.
Salesforce, founded in 1999, has grown into a $4 billion software corporation. It is a component of the prestigious S&P 500, and boasts 12,000 employees.
50-year old CEO, founder, and chairman Marc Benioff (photo), who started the company in San Francisco, and his wife Lynne Krilich, have given millions to children’s hospitals.
Recently, Salesforce came out strongly against Indiana’s discriminatory Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
“We have been an active member of the Indiana business community and a key job creator for more than a decade,” Scott McCorkle, CEO of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud division, wrote in a letter to Indiana lawmakers. “Our success is fundamentally based on our ability to attract and retain the best and most diverse pool of highly skilled employees, regardless of gender, religious affiliation, ethnicity or sexual orientation.”
“Without an open business environment that welcomes all residents and visitors,” he warned, “Salesforce will be unable to continue building on its tradition of marketing innovation in Indianapolis.”
Benioff has cancelled all business travel to Indiana.
Already, the gamer convention Gen Con and the Disciples of Christ church group had threatened to pull their conventions out of Indianapolis. Tech giant Salesforce said it would halt its plans to expand in the state, too.
The NCAA had hinted for days that the bill — which has the effect of allowing businesses to challenge local laws that forbid discriminating against customers based on sexual orientation in court — could damage the city’s reputation as a host of major sporting events.
Jason Collins, who last year became the first openly gay active NBA player, asked Pence in a tweet whether it is “going to be legal for someone to discriminate against me & others when we come” to the Final Four.
Still, Pence signed the bill in his office Thursday. In a statement explaining his decision, he pointed to President Barack Obama’s health care law — which triggered a lawsuit by Hobby Lobby to ensure the company wasn’t required to cover birth control through its employees’ health insurance plans.
Of course, the War on Women continues too with the Republican’s whackadoodle religious right taking the lead. Arizona proves its once again the place where medical science can be damned when it gets in the way of fetus fever.
Doctors in Arizona might soon be required to tell women that abortions can be “reversed.” As the Washington Post reports, the Arizona legislature just passed a bill that is the latest in state-based attempts to ban women from using their own health insurance to pay for abortion. What makes this bill especially Orwellian is this attempt to force doctors to put the stamp of medical authority on the fantastical belief that women en masse are regretting their abortions hours after getting them and are miraculously getting them reversed through heroic interventions by Christian doctors.
I reported on this fantasy back in December, but to recap: Anti-choicers, backed by one particularly vocal doctor named George Delgado, are claiming that you can “reverse” medication abortions. A woman having a medication abortion takes two pill doses, one of mifepristone and then another of misoprostol. Proponents of “abortion reversal” would like you to believe it’s common for women to take the first dose and become wracked with guilt, desperate to save her pregnancy. To help these women, Delgado gives the woman progesterone shots, supposedly in an effort to reverse the effects of the mifepristone.
The problem is it’s almost certainly quackery. Mifepristone is not enough on its own to terminate a pregnancy some of the time, so you’re not “reversing” the abortion so much as interrupting the process before it’s complete. The progesterone shots reverse nothing—they are medically unnecessary theater, designed to portray anti-choicers as conquering heroes rescuing pregnant maidens from the clutches of abortionists. There’s no evidence of much demand from women to interrupt their abortions, and in the rare circumstances that someone is seized by regret, all she needs to do is contact her regular doctor about stopping the pills.
Forcing doctors to “inform” patients about an intervention that isn’t medically useful and isn’t really in demand serves no other purpose but to inject anti-choice histrionics into what is already a stressful situation for many patients. You should be able to get through an abortion without having to indulge a right-wing delusion.
I’ve had several friends travelling to Mississippi to defend the last standing abortion clinic there. The Fetus Fanatics have physically attacked the building and are doing all kinds of crazy things there in the name of Operation “Rescue”. So, here’s a little of that homegrown terrorism for you.
A couple nights ago, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the last standing abortion clinic in all of Mississippi, was attacked and vandalized by a masked intruder who destroyed security cameras and attempted to cut the power lines.
So I’ll just ice the cake with a little gratuitous Pat Robertson. You remember him, he ran for the Republican presidential nomination and did pretty well back in the 1980s? Ongoing investigations show that the co-pilot most likely downed that German Airliner in a murder/suicide action related to ongoing issues with depression. So, with that in mind … Here’s Patty!!!
Christian televangelist Pat Robertson suggested on Thursday that the co-pilot’s decision to crash Germanwings Flight 9525 could be explained if he was a Muslim.
French prosecutors concluded on Thursday that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz had locked the pilot out of the cockpit, and then deliberately crashed the plane into the French Alps, killing 150 people.
“What happened to that plane that crashed into the French Alps?” Robertson asked on Thursday’s edition of The 700 Club. “Well, they’ve begun to find out. The pilot went to the lavatory and was soon locked out of the cockpit. He pounded on the door, begging to come in. But the door was not opened.”
“The co-pilot then takes the plane, pushes it into a dive and crashes it. The passengers are screaming as the plane went down. The pilot is yelling.”
“What a terrible tragedy,” the TV preacher continued. “Was that co-pilot a Muslim? Was he suicidal? What was it about him?”
Robertson later allowed for the possibility that Lubitz could have been “just psychotic.”
“What was it?” he wondered. “Why would he want to kill all those people?”
French prosecutor Brice Robin on Thursday described Lubitz as a 28-year-old German who was “not listed as a terrorist.”
Robin told reporters that he did not know Lubitz’s religion or ethnicity, but said, “I don’t think that’s where the answer to this lies.”
I’m still stunned by the murder fantasies of hyper-Christian and Duck seducer/murderer Daddy FuckBucks Robertson who seems to have replaced a smack addiction for talking religious smack.
Phil Robertson, the paterfamilias on A&E’sDuck Dynasty who also frequents the Christian speaking circuit, has stirred up controversy yet again by inventing a bizarre parable in which an atheist family is raped and murdered.
The conservative reality television star has a reputation for sounding off about controversial issues. In 2013, he came under fire for making homophobic remarks in an interview with GQ.This time, his focal point was atheists, whom—he asserted—have no moral compass because they do not believe in God. Here is the graphic story he told, per the audio from Right Wing Watch:
I’ll make a bet with you. Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him. And then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now is it dude?’
Then you take a sharp knife and take his manhood and hold it in front of him and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be something if this [sic] was something wrong with this? But you’re the one who says there is no God, there’s no right, there’s no wrong, so we’re just having fun. We’re sick in the head, have a nice day.’
The moral of the tale? “If it happens to them, they probably would say, ‘Something about this just ain’t right,’” Robertson said.
Some fundamental Christians, like Robertson, believe that morality is dependent on the existence of God and by rejecting God, atheists also reject morals.
WTF is wrong with these people?!?!?! Dude, nonsociopaths do not have to have imaginary beings threaten them with hell to do the right thing. Doing the right thing is its own reward. We can ask BB, but I’d say the guy has a serious case of projectionitis.
But, here’s a better question … why are we enacting their hateful, bigoted crap into our laws? And, why do these people get a public platform?
There’s way too many of them and way too few lions for my taste.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Posted: March 26, 2015 Filed under: morning reads
Small worlds, it is amazing, last week my son had a friend who spent some time in New Orleans…and he came back with tales of “real live drag queens” on Bourbon Street. What do you know…the friend was talking about Dak and her new gig, playing piano for the ladies at Lucky Pierre’s.
What are the chances of that? From Banjoville to Nola…to Bourbon Street to Lucky Pierre’s.
Alright, the links for today are few since I am still very sick with this yuk of a sinus infection. (Thanks to BB for doing my post yesterday.)
The latest on the airbus crash is disturbing:
Pilot Was Locked Out of Cockpit Before Jet Crash — NYMag
Investigators retrieved audio from the cockpit voice recorder in theGermanwings flight that crashed in the French Alps on Tuesday, but rather than explaining why the plane fell out of the sky, killing all 150 people on board, the recording revealed a shocking twist. A senior military official investigating the crash told the New York Times that one pilot is heard leaving the cockpit, then there’s increasingly frantic banging on the door as the Airbus A320 inexplicably begins to descend. Within 10 minutes, the plane dropped from an altitude of 38,000 feet to about 6,000 and crashed into the mountainside – all while one pilot was apparently locked out and the other gave no response. “The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door and there is no answer,” the investigator said. “And then he hits the door stronger and no answer. There is never an answer.” He added, “You can hear he is trying to smash the door down.”
What makes the report even more bizarre is that there’s no indication of any friction between the pilots up to that point. The investigator said their conversation had been “very smooth, very cool,” throughout the flight. It’s unclear why one pilot left the cockpit, but “what is sure is that at the very end of the flight, the other pilot is alone and does not open the door,” the official said.
Remi Jouty, spokesman for the French air crash investigations bureau BEA, would only say that they are still analyzing the recording. “It is too early to draw conclusions to what happened,” he said. “There is going to be detailed work performed on that audio file to understand and interpret the sounds and the voices that can be heard.” Debris from the crash was spread across an area of about 5 acres, on a remote mountain range 2,000 meters high.
That is strange, don’t you think?
Audio: Desperate pilot tried to get in cockpit | Boston Herald
Some speculation at that Boston Herald link.
Saudi Arabia launches airstrikes in Yemen – CNN.com
The Houthis, ever defiant, responded by saying they will meet force with force.
Yemen, a longtime stronghold for one of al Qaeda’s most dangerous branches, has been plunged into chaos since the Houthi rebels began seizing control of the capital and other areas of the country in recent months.
For years, Yemen had allowed U.S. drones and special operations forces to stalk AQAP in the country. But the unrest led to the withdrawal of U.S. special forces from Yemen, leaving that arrangement in tatters, along with any semblance of peace in the Middle Eastern nation.
Now for some links to other stories.
Chelsea Handler: Bill Cosby ‘Tried to Cosby Me’ | Mediaite
“Cosby” is now a “thing,” in that things can get Fukushima’d up.
Woody Allen Really Wanted to Take His Teenage Co-Star to Europe
This is why HBO’s ‘Going Clear’ has the Church of Scientology worried
Celebrations planned after archivists find new copy of ‘map that changed the world’
Think of this as an open thread.