Wednesday Reads: Transphobia 6-5000

Good afternoon.

Yesterday was the IDAHO | DAHOT International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. With that in mind let’s take a look at the scene surrounding LGTB issues this week, especially the last few days. As y’all know, it is a “fluid ” situation, one of constant assault from the same forces I discussed in my last post Wednesday Reads: Buckets of what? | Sky Dancing. They are same hypocritical basturds who want to control every aspect of a woman’s autonomy, spirit, and cognitive functions. Shit…we are just going to have to get to it, right?

Statement by the President on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia | whitehouse.gov

On May 17, Americans and people around the world mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia by reaffirming the dignity and inherent worth of all people, regardless of who they love or their gender identity.

Our nation is committed to the principle that all people should be treated fairly and with respect. Advancing this goal has long been a cornerstone of American diplomacy, and I am proud that my Administration has made advancing the human rights of LGBT individuals a specific focus of our engagement around the world. I am also proud of the great strides that our nation has made at home in recent years, including that we now have marriage equality as a result of last year’s landmark Supreme Court decision.

At the same time, there is much work to be done to combat homophobia and transphobia, both at home and abroad.‎ In too many places, LGBT individuals grow up forced to conceal or deny who they truly are for fear of persecution, discrimination, and violence. All nations and all communities can, and must, do better. Fortunately, human rights champions and good citizens around the world continue to strive towards this goal every day by lifting up the simple truth that LGBT rights are human rights. The United States honors their work and will continue to support them in their struggle for human dignity.

image

Obama was not the only world leader who made an official statement yesterday…Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia | Prime Minister of Canada

“Today, I join Canadians – and people around the world – to recognize the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.

“Everyone deserves to live free of stigma, persecution, and discrimination – no matter who they are or whom they love. Today is about ensuring that all people – regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity – feel safe and secure, and empowered to freely express themselves.

“On this important day, I encourage all Canadians to raise awareness, and mobilize to end the violence, prejudice, and judgement faced by LGBTQ2 persons.

“As a society, we have taken many important steps toward recognizing and protecting the legal rights for the LGBTQ2 community – from enshrining equality rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to the passage of the Civil Marriage Act. There remains much to be done, though. Far too many people still face harassment, discrimination, and violence for being who they are. This is unacceptable.

“To do its part, the Government of Canada today will introduce legislation that will help ensure transgender and other gender-diverse people can live according to their gender identity, free from discrimination, and protected from hate propaganda and hate crimes.

“Today, let us unite in a global celebration of diversity, and reaffirm our commitment to unequivocally defend LGBTQ2 rights as human rights. We will never stop fighting for a safer, more equal, and more just world for all of our children.”

image

Meanwhile, reports in Mexico indicate some positive changes may be coming…Mexican President: Legalize Gay Marriage – The Daily Beast

According to multiple reports, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has proposed legalizing same-sex marriage across the entire country. Should Mexico recognize same-sex marriages at the national level, it would join the United States and Canada as the only North American nations to do so. Nieto’s proposal comes as part of a string of socially liberal policy ideas from the 49-year-old president, including the legalization of medical marijuana and an overhaul of the country’s war on drugs.

Obama Marks International Day Against Homophobia And Transphobia: LGBT Rights Are Human Rights – Joe.My.God.

image

 

Countries Celebrate International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

Aussie cops raise rainbow flags against homophobia and transphobia

Still a long battle ahead for India’s transgender community | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis

image

Rainbows abound: How the world is celebrating International Day against Homophobia – Firstpost

Meanwhile, here in the USA, things are continuing as expected:

Trans Panicked Lady Yells At Short-Haired Gal In Walmart Restroom, Saves America | Wonkette

In what’s sure to be part of a growing trend, a young woman in a Walmart restroom Friday was treated to a stern anti-transgender scolding from a self-appointed member of the Moral Police in Danbury, Connecticut. Aimée Toms, a 22-year-old college student from Naugatuck, was washing her hands when a complete stranger hissed “You’re disgusting!” and “You don’t belong here!” Toms, you see, has really short hair and was wearing a baseball cap, which was enough to convince the sharp-eyed Walmart shopper that Toms had to be one of those filthy transgender people using the ladies’ biffy, endangering The Children and ruining America. Toms posted a fine video rant about the experience to Facebook Friday evening, and the video quickly went viral, with nearly 40,000 views since it went up. We have to say we like the cut of her jib. Toms introduces the video with this brief caption:

If it really takes me pulling up my shirt and showing someone I grew these boobs myself for them to leave me alone in a restroom, I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.

This really lit a fire under my ass today.

Young Woman Harassed In WalMart For Appearing Transgendered | Crooks and Liars

image

My state is getting in on the fun:

Transphobia abounds in North Georgia

Students in North Georgia are the targets of the latest transphobic outcry.

Parents in Fannin County, organized by school resource officer Anthony Walden, rallied last week against a policy supporting transgender students using bathrooms that align with their gender identity, instead of their sex assigned at birth.

Parents packed the Thursday school board meeting to decry the policy, which stems from federal government guidance, with media reports of anywhere from one to three hundred people in attendance.

“We could stand to lose 3.5 million dollars, that’s federal money,” school attorney Lynn Doss toldFox 5 News.

Following the egregious N.C. “bathroom bill,” the federal government issued a letter to schools urging them to allow transgender students to use restrooms and other facilities that correspond with their gender identity and not their sex assigned at birth.

N.C. and Gov. Pat McCrory are facing a lawsuit from the federal government over HB 2, with the Dept. of Justice making clear that transphobic bathroom policies are discriminatory and a violation of student’s civil rights.

So much love to Loretta Lynch for this: “Let me also speak directly to the transgender community itself…no matter how isolated, no matter how afraid, and no matter how alone you may feel today…we see you, we stand with you, and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward.”

I think you can tell the direction this article is taking….

School resource officer Walden called transgender people “perverts” and compared them to pedophiles, during public comment that received applause multiple times.

Transphobic statements abounded during the three hours of public comment. Parents and local leaders encouraged the school board to forego the federal dollars, threatening to remove their kids from school.

“We’re going to do everything we can to stop this, and if not, then us moms are going to come home and teach our kids like it used to be,” Parent Angel Chancey said.

“Ask the question what would Jesus have me do in this situation,” said Matthew McDaniel, a pastor at First Baptist Church. “We need to stand on God’s truth in this perverse situation.”

Speaker David Ralston, who represents the area, even waded in, sending a letter to Ga. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Purdue asking them to get involved.

Calling it “a vast overreach of federal authority,” Ralston asks them to “take appropriate action to protect our students and our local educators from the heavy hand of the federal government.”

Well, he certainly doesn’t seem interested in protecting transgender students, and that does not bode well for continued “religious freedom” rabble-rousing during next year’s legislative session.

Have I mentioned how much I hate the people up here in Banjoville. Fannin is the county next door…so they are our Banjoneighbors.

image

Gooch asks state leaders to take a stand against Obama… | AccessWDUN.com

State Sen. Steve Gooch (R-51), Senate Majority Whip, is calling on Georgia’s top officials to take a firm stand against President Barack Obama’s letter sent to school systems Friday with guidelines allowing transgender students to use bathrooms matching the gender they identify with.

“We’re asking the governor and lieutenant governor to look at the president’s policy initiative that he announced this week that basically threatens local governments with withholding their funds for their local schools,” Gooch said Tuesday. “We think that’s a wrong direction for our country. We shouldn’t be controlling local school boards and dictating them and holding this over their head.”

Gooch, of Lumpkin County, briefly answered questions during Tuesday afternoon’s Helen City Commission meeting.

Georgia leaders blast transgender bathroom rule, stop short of lawsuit | Political Insider blog

Georgia GOP leaders prepare to open front in bathroom war | www.myajc.com

image

More news on the LGBT front:

Obama Defends Transgender Directive for School Bathrooms – The New York Times

Alabama lawmaker files bathroom bill – TimesDaily: State Capital

Mother marches through Target decrying retailer’s bathroom policy | www.ajc.com

image

Canada Moves to Ban Discrimination Against Transgender People – The New York Times

Sir Ian McKellen: Homophobia in the Commonwealth is a shameful legacy – The i newspaper online iNews

North Carolina’s anti-trans governor is cozy with major polluter | Grist

image

Turning back to idiots in politics, hey…this one is not even a part of this country’s political elite!

Peter Dutton says ‘illiterate’ refugees would be ‘taking Australian jobs’ | Australia news | The Guardian  I guess Trump isn’t the only asshole making a name for himself out there, huh?

But hey, that kind of talk is just mainstream nowadays, you want idiot? I got your idiot right here:

Conservative congressional candidate shares screenshot, forgets to close porn windows

Screenshot Mike Webb shared with numerous tabs, including two tabs with porn sites

Mike Webb is a conservative candidate for the United States Congress (VA-8) and he’s hoping to bring “responsiveness and accountability” to Washington, D.C. From hiscampaign announcement:

“If we succeed in winning this race as a conservative Republican in the most liberal district in the nation and the most Democratic in the South, that will be a real revolution that will have national implications,” he said in a press release.

He is campaigning with a hands-on approach, insisting he does all of his own social media:

Webb claims that many residents are looking for responsiveness and accountability from their elected and appointed leaders. “One way to do that is to personally respond on social media.  Talk and engage with people.  Joke and chide.  Engage in dialogue.  That is what it is all about.”

Unfortunately for Mike Webb, he’s probably now wishing he had someone running his social media. He shared a screenshot of his computer screen while trying to make a point (that was partial conspiracy theory) about trying to find employment and he forgot to close out a couple of tabs:

Mike Webb
Oh, my…..

Oh, my! Fans of Mike Webb’s Facebook page were quick to point out that the two tabs above led to two porn sites. Needless to say, fans were amused:

Lucas McDanielRyan BelkJosh Peake…. Now you know what politicians do in their spare time!! #pumpthebrakesWEBB

Stephen Carroll I like your taste in porn.

Stephen Carroll Hey, that’s probably why you had so many viruses and couldn’t make your FEC filing.

Christopher Allard Oh my good lord! That’s AWESOME!!! Way to go Mike! You posted a screen shot of your computer and left the PORN SITES up??? Wow, ranger that bud! This is definitely going viral!

At least 5 hours after the original post, it remains on this Facebook page. So much for his pledge for responsiveness! The post will no doubt be deleted in time, but it can currently be seen here.

I had to quote the entire post there, it was too unbelievable and fucking prefect not to.

Eschaton: Assholes

Two Boston brothers who beat and urinated on a homeless Mexican man, then told police “Donald Trump was right: All these illegals need to be deported,” were sentenced to prison on Monday.

Trump Bros Who Beat Up Homeless Hispanic Guy Going To Prison, How Is That Even Fair? | Wonkette

image

BREAKING: ABC Just Caught Trump In Massive Tax Evasion & Campaign Finance Violation

Next up, a series of links on the Nevada/Bernie Bros/From the top directive shit that happened over the last few days:

Shakesville: What Is Even Happening?

I think the key point to all this is:

Hillary Clinton won the Nevada caucus.

Anyway, the links are below just if anyone missed yesterday’s threads….

Shakesville: Bernie Sanders, What Are You Doing?!

Bernie Sanders Refuses To Admit There’s a Problem With His Fanatical Supporters – The Daily Banter

 

Sanders issues defiant statement under pressure over ruckus (w/video) | Tampa Bay Times

I hate the title of this one: DNC chairwoman chides Sanders | TheHill

Tensions explode in Dem primary | TheHill

To Win in November, Clinton Will Need Sanders’ Voters | RealClearPolitics

This is another title that irks me: Nevada Democrats accused Bernie Sanders’s campaign of inciting violence. And Sanders is hitting back. – The Washington Post

A few other disturbing news stories, not on Bernie but still like I said, disturbing:

Judge orders Mississippi school district to desegregate, 62 years after Brown v. Board of Education – The Washington Post

62 years after ‘Brown vs. Board of Education’ ruling, U.S. schools becoming more segregated | Tampa Bay Times

Tourist Bros Stomp On Yellowstone National Park’s Grand Prismatic Spring

Another State Just Banned Abortion After 19 Weeks

South Carolina bans abortion after 19 weeks | Reuters

Teacher fired from Christian school after reporting shocking rape of her daughter

Shoulders and Arms Are Now Illegal in the State of California

The deadly selfie game – the thrill to end all thrills

Oh and what about the Koch Brothers? Hullabaloo– GOP suffering from Koch withdrawal by digby

And I want to end it on something fun…This one is for Boston Boomer, and her keen interest in words and the brain: Words, more words … and statistics: To segment words, the brain could be using statistical methods — ScienceDaily

Picking out single words in a flow of speech is no easy task and, according to linguists, to succeed in doing it the brain might use statistical methods. A group of scientists has applied a statistics-based method for word segmentation and measured its efficacy on natural language, in nine different languages, to discover that linguistic rhythm plays an important role.

Have you ever racked your brains trying to make out even a single word of an uninterrupted flow of speech in a language you hardly know at all? It is naïve to think that in speech there is even the smallest of pauses between one word and the next (like the space we conventionally insert between words in writing): in actual fact, speech is almost always a continuous stream of sound. However, when we listen to our native language, word “segmentation” is an effortless process. What are, linguists wonder, the automatic cognitive mechanisms underlying this skill? Clearly, knowledge of the vocabulary helps: memory of the sound of the single words helps us to pick them out. However, many linguists argue, there are also automatic, subconscious “low-level” mechanisms that help us even when we do not recognise the words or when, as in the case of very young children, our knowledge of the language is still only rudimentary. These mechanisms, they think, rely on the statistical analysis of the frequency (estimated based on past experience) of the syllables in each language.

I hope you enjoy that one BB…

Have a good day y’all, treat this as an open thread of course.

 

 

Advertisements

Tuesday Reads: The Agony of Glenn Greenwald, The Ickiness of Ted Cruz, & Other News

Dog_getting_the_newspaper

Good Morning!!

As of yesterday, we’ve reached the point with the NSA leaks story that the entire focus is on Glenn Greenwald and his martyrdom. Even Edward Snowden has now faded into the background.

On Sunday, Greenwald’s domestic partner David Miranda was detained for nine hours by UK authorities as he passed through Heathrow Airport on his way from Berlin to Rio de Janeiro where he and Greenwald live. Miranda was finally released, but his laptop, an external hard drive, a number of memory sticks and other electronic devices were confiscated. Greenwald reacted by threatening the UK government with harmful revelations from the Snowden stash.

As with previous Greenwald stories, this one quickly evolved from a tale of horrendous government repression as reported by the Guardian to a more complex story reported by other news outlets–forcing the Guardian to walk back or provide more details on aspects of its original reporting. Bob Cesca does a good job of summarizing the process.

Like most people, Cesca was at first shocked by the news of Miranda’s detention. Then he began reading the stories under the headlines.

When I read The Guardian‘s article about the incident, however, more questions popped up — as with much of The Guardian‘s reporting on this topic, the publication’s tendency for coy, smoke-and-mirrors reporting invariably raises more questions than it answers. The article was credited to “Guardian staff,” for one, there weren’t any quotes from Miranda himself and the only source for the article appeared to be Greenwald, who, from my experience covering this story, tends to be incendiary and misleading.

The wailing and garment rending was underway — the predictable group freakout we’re forced to endure every time a new article is published. Greenwald himself wrote that the U.K. authorities were actually worse than the Mafia because the Mafia doesn’t target family members. (Clearly, Greenwald knows less about the Mafia than he does about political realities or history.)

An aside: Cesca coined the term “the 24 hour rule” after a the first few Greenwald NSA “bombshells.”

The 24 Hour Rule: 1) A wild claim is made via a news article, most often The Guardian, about the U.S. government or related entities. 2) The article sparks wild fits of outrage. 3) Then, within 24 hours, a mitigating detail is added, undermining or totally debunking one or more of the central claims contained with the article. Related quote: “A lie can travel half-way around the world before the truth gets its pants on.”

Back to Cesca’s take on the Miranda story:

As the hours rolled by, Charlie Savage, reporting for The New York Timesbegan to revealmore details about the trip — details which The Guardian mysteriously didn’t include in either of its articles….

First, we learned from The New York Times that The Guardian financed Miranda’s trip to Germany and back. This means Miranda was conducting some sort of official business for the publication. Around the same time, Amnesty International referred to Miranda as “a Guardian newspaper employee.” Combined with the Laura Poitras detail, it’s obvious that Miranda was commissioned to do some serious leg-work on the Snowden/NSA reporting, the extent of which was unknown at the time.

And then, late in the evening east coast time, The New York Times revealed the purpose of Miranda’s trip to Berlin:

Mr. Miranda was in Berlin to deliver documents related to Mr. Greenwald’s investigation into government surveillance to Ms. Poitras, Mr. Greenwald said. Ms. Poitras, in turn, gave Mr. Miranda different documents to pass to Mr. Greenwald. Those documents, which were stored on encrypted thumb drives, were confiscated by airport security, Mr. Greenwald said. All of the documents came from the trove of materials provided to the two journalists by Mr. Snowden.

So Miranda, Greenwald’s spouse, served as a paid courier to transfer stolen, top secret national security documents from Greenwald to Poitras, and from Poitras back to Greenwald.

While I’m not defending UK authorities for their ham-handed treatment of Miranda–and neither is Cesca–it’s really not surprising that Miranda was stopped and questioned. It also later came out that Miranda had been offered an attorney, but he refused the offer (Greenwald had originally said his partner was refused access to legal advice). From The Guardian on Monday:

He was offered a lawyer and a cup of water, but he refused both because he did not trust the authorities. The questions, he said, were relentless – about Greenwald, Snowden, Poitras and a host of other apparently random subjects.

“They even asked me about the protests in Brazil, why people were unhappy and who I knew in the government,” said Miranda.

He got his first drink – from a Coke machine in the corridor – after eight hours and was eventually released almost an hour later. Police records show he had been held from 08.05 to 17.00.

The questions about the Brazilian government weren’t actually that outrageous, since Glenn Greenwald had contacted high level officials there and they had tried to intervene.

So the “24-hour rule” still holds. This entire story turned around in 24 hours, but many news outlets are still reporting information that is either wholly or partially untrue. After it became clear that their original reporting on the Miranda detention was problematic, the Guardian released another bombshell article written by Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusberger in which he claims that two months ago GCHQ (Britain’s version of NSA) agents forced the Guardian to destroy their hard drives and computers unless they turned over their NSA materials. Again Bob Cesca has a good summary. Please read the whole thing if you can–it’s not long.

We’ll have to wait another day to see if this story also morphs into something different. Cesca has a list of questions for Rusberger. My big question is why wasn’t this reported immediately after it happened, and why didn’t the Guardian go to court over it?

And so Glenn Greenwald and his victimization remain the center of international attention. I have to wonder why Greenwald arranged for his partner to travel through Heathrow in the first place. Was he deliberately inviting something like this? He couldn’t have asked for better free publicity that he and the Guardian are getting right now.

Meanwhile, any discussion of NSA spying is hindered by so much inaccurate information; yet the NSA story is distracting Americans from focusing on equally important and even more pressing issues like jobs, the economy, voting rights, the war on women’s autonomy, the environment, and the upheavals in the Middle East. So now I’ll move on to some other news–I’ll add more links on the Miranda story in the comments.

In other news,

The Atlantic has a good story on economic inequality: Are the Rich Getting Too Much of the Economic Pie?

When one of you asked, “Are the rich getting too much of the economic pie?” the team behindEconomics in Plain English got pretty excited. Because you said “pie.” So we headed toDangerously Delicious Pies in northeast Washington, D.C., with business editor Derek Thompson to explain income inequality over dessert. We ordered three pies — peanut butter, blueberry, and something amazing called the “Baltimore Bomb” — to make three charts that illustrate the income and wealth gap in the U.S. We’re not the first to mix math and pastry, as we discovered recently, but we hope this video offers a tasty perspective on a complex economic question.

Watch the video–and others by the same group–at the link.

In Pakistan, Pervez Musharraf has been indicted in the 2007 murder of Benazir Bhutto

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A Pakistani court indicted Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday in connection with the 2007 assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the first time that a former military leader has faced criminal proceedings in Pakistan.

The court in Rawalpindi, near the capital, Islamabad, filed three charges against Mr. Musharraf, including murder and conspiracy to murder, said a prosecutor, Chaudhry Muhammed Azhar.

Mr. Musharraf, who has maintained that the charges against him are politically motivated, pleaded not guilty, his lawyers said. Reporters were excluded from the hearing. Afterward, police commandos and paramilitary rangers escorted Mr. Musharraf back to his villa on the edge of Islamabad, where he has been under house arrest since April in connection with other cases stemming from his rule from 1999 to 2008.

The sight of a once untouchable general being called to account by a court had a potent symbolism in a country that has been ruled by the military for about half of its 66-year history. While the military remains deeply powerful, the prosecution has sent the message that Pakistan’s top generals are subject to the rule of law — at least after they have retired.

In Egypt, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood has been arrested. The LA Times reports:

CAIRO — Egyptian authorities early Tuesday arrested the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, another demoralizing blow to the Islamist organization amid a crackdown by the military to silence dissent and build support for its control of the nation.

Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie was arrested in a Cairo apartment. Dressed in a gray tunic, the 70-year-old spiritual leader looked shaken, sitting next to a bottle of water in police custody. The image distilled the desperation the world’s most influential Islamist organization faces against an army that appears determined to crush it.

Most of the Brotherhood’s top leaders, including Khairat Shater, its chief strategist and financier, and former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, who was overthrown in a coup last month, are in detention or have gone underground. Much of the group’s strategy appears to have shifted to the Anti-Coup Alliance, an umbrella group the Brotherhood organized to protest Morsi’s downfall.

The army’s crackdown on the Brotherhood has been ferocious. Police raids on two Brotherhood sit-ins last week and the protests and violence that ensured killed more than 900 Morsi supporters, many of them shot by live ammunition fired by security forces that have shown little restraint.

“When the hand of oppression extends to arrest this important symbol,” the Brotherhood said in a statement regarding Badie, “that means the military coup has used up everything in its pocket and is readying to depart.”

I’ll be honest–I’m really clueless about what’s going on in Egypt right now. I just hope the situation doesn’t descend into a Syria-like civil war.

Texas Tea Party Senator Ted Cruz is back in the news. The Dallas Morning News revealed yesterday that Cruz holds dual citizenship in the US and Canada.

Born in Canada to an American mother, Ted Cruz became an instant U.S. citizen. But under Canadian law, he also became a citizen of that country the moment he was born.

Unless the Texas Republican senator formally renounces that citizenship, he will remain a citizen of both countries, legal experts say.

That means he could assert the right to vote in Canada or even run for Parliament. On a lunch break from the U.S. Senate, he could head to the nearby embassy — the one flying a bright red maple leaf flag — pull out his Calgary, Alberta, birth certificate and obtain a passport.

“He’s a Canadian,” said Toronto lawyer Stephen Green, past chairman of the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section.

The circumstances of Cruz’s birth have fueled a simmering debate over his eligibility to run for president. Knowingly or not, dual citizenship is an apparent if inconvenient truth for the tea party firebrand, who shows every sign he’s angling for the White House.

Cruz has decided to renounce his Canadian citizenship, according to CNN:

“Because I was a U.S. citizen at birth, because I left Calgary when I was 4 and have lived my entire life since then in the U.S., and because I have never taken affirmative steps to claim Canadian citizenship, I assumed that was the end of the matter,” Cruz wrote in his statement.

“Now the Dallas Morning News says that I may technically have dual citizenship. Assuming that is true, then sure, I will renounce any Canadian citizenship,” he continued. “Nothing against Canada, but I’m an American by birth, and as a U.S. Senator, I believe I should be only an American.”

Too bad he didn’t decide to run for office in Canada. I guess we’re stuck with him now.

I’ll end with this Daily Beast story about what Ted Cruz Princeton roommates recall about him. Some excerpts:

When Craig Mazin first met his freshman roommate, Rafael Edward Cruz, he knew the 17-year-old Texan was not like other students at Princeton, or probably anywhere else for that matter.

“I remember very specifically that he had a book in Spanish and the title was Was Karl Marx a Satanist? And I thought, who is this person?” Mazin says of Ted Cruz. “Even in 1988, he was politically extreme in a way that was surprising to me.” [….]

“It was my distinct impression that Ted had nothing to learn from anyone else,” said Erik Leitch, who lived in Butler College with Cruz. Leitch said he remembers Cruz as someone who wanted to argue over anything or nothing, just for the exercise of arguing. “The only point of Ted talking to you was to convince you of the rightness of his views.”

In addition to Mazin and Leitch, several fellow classmates who asked that their names not be used described the young Cruz with words like “abrasive,” “intense,” “strident,” “crank,” and “arrogant.” Four independently offered the word “creepy,” with some pointing to Cruz’s habit of donning a paisley bathrobe and walking to the opposite end of their dorm’s hallway where the female students lived.

“I would end up fielding the [girls’] complaints: ‘Could you please keep your roommate out of our hallway?'” Mazin says.

Eeeeeeeeek!!

OK, now it’s your turn. What stories are you focusing on today? Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread.


Friday Nite Lites: Binders, Cave Walls and the Importance of Editorial Cartoons

Via Kathy on my Facebook page…Scrolls full of women….love it!

Time again for those wonderful political editorial cartoons. First I want to bring you this essay by Mr. Fish. I’ve no doubt that many of you know my fondness for editorial cartoons. I think they are one of the most essential forms of expression and feel sure that you will agree they are vital in times like these.  So please read this essay in full. It is a long read but worth it.

Mr. Fish: Drawing Conclusions: The Editorial Cartoon – Truthdig

Mr. Fish is the curator of “Drawing Conclusions,” an exhibit exploring the history of editorial cartooning on display at USC Annenberg’s Second Floor Gallery and Room 207 from Oct. 24 to May 13, 2013. It is co-sponsored by The Future of Journalism Foundation, a project of Community Partners.

I have no idea what readership is of written editorials, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to the readership of editorial cartoons.
–Paul Conrad, editorial cartoonist for the Los Angeles Times

Stop them damned pictures! I don’t care so much what the papers say about me. My constituents don’t know how to read, but they can’t help seeing them damned pictures!
–William “Boss” Tweed, discredited New York politician responding to editorial cartoons by Thomas Nast

Art is a finger up the bourgeoisie ass.
–Pablo Picasso

For reasons that may have to do only with the perfunctory indifference that comes with incuriosity, there has never been a precise understanding by the dominant culture of what an editorial cartoonist is. Having been inexorably linked to journalism because their work has traditionally been published in daily newspapers, the value and professional integrity of editorial cartoonists have been unfairly forced to rise and fall with the health of the Fourth Estate.

Thus, with the steady disintegration of the print media and the pandemic elimination of staff cartoonist positions from periodicals everywhere, the question has become: Without an industry to sustain the definition of what an editorial cartoonist has come to mean to the public mind, what will happen to those men and women who draw pictures containing a political or social message? When circumstances in a society shift dramatically enough to make extinct a profession so narrowly defined by myopic and mainstream ideas, does this mean the end of the activity previously exercised within that profession, or does it merely demand a reconfiguration of consciousness allowing for the emergence of a more enlightened understanding of what the editorial cartoonist’s job is and where it might best find support, institutional or otherwise? In other words, is cartooning a vocation or a calling?

It’s arguable that editorial cartooning, in one form or another, has been with us ever since, in the words of Mark Twain, God made the mistake of preserving sin by not forbidding Eve to devour the snake, an act of bureaucratic mismanagement so fundamentally destructive that our sense of moral self-determinism has never been the same. Nor has our belief in the absolute wisdom of our authority figures.

But editorial cartooning has been around even longer than that.  In fact, it is not beyond comprehension that we have never been without it, particularly if we are to define the word “editorial” as the exposition of a personal opinion and “cartooning” merely as the rendering of that opinion in pictorial form. Given such a description, we come to find that the earliest practitioners of the art form were editorializing on the walls of limestone caves in the south of France some 33,000 years ago, eons before the Bible places the events that took place in the Garden of Eden. Of even greater significance is how these cave drawings predate the invention of the written word by the Sumerians of ancient Mesopotamia by 30,000 years, proof that when it comes to the mode of communication upon which human beings have historically most relied, it is the visual depiction of our life’s experiences, rather than phonetic symbols arranged on a straight line, that have proven themselves most deeply meaningful.

That is just the first few paragraphs. Read the rest at the link above.

Now on with the show.

Let’s start with some cartoons on Malala Yousafzia, the Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban early last week.

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » Afghan Women

Afghan Women © Bill Day,Cagle Cartoons,Taliban,women,children,malala yousafzai

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai © Pat Bagley,Salt Lake Tribune,Malala,Yousafzai,Taliban,Pakistan,education,knowledge,Women,malala yousafzai

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » Malalas Courage

Malalas Courage © Jeff Koterba,Omaha World Herald, NE,malala,courage,taliban,shooting,education,women,teenager,school

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » And a Child Shall Lead Them

And a Child Shall Lead Them © Mark Streeter,The Savannah Morning News,malala yousafzai,activist,school,terror,child,taliban,shooting

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » CANADA Bullies

CANADA Bullies © Cardow,The Ottawa Citizen,CANADA,bullying,online,facebook,social,media,teenagers,Amanda,Todd,suicide,Pakistan,Malala,Yousafzai,Taliban,malala yousafzai

Now for some cartoons on Romney, including his binders full of women:

Talk about monsters in your closet, or at your front door: AAEC – Political Cartoon by Gustavo Rodriguez, El Nuevo Herald – 10/17/2012

Cartoon by Gustavo Rodriguez -

From my favorite cartoonist: 10/21 Mike Luckovich cartoon: Halloween candy | Mike Luckovich

mike102112

A woman’s place is in the binder – Political Cartoon by J.D. Crowe, Mobile Register – 10/19/2012

Cartoon by J.D. Crowe - A woman's place is in the binder

AAEC – Political Cartoon by John Cole, Scranton Times/Tribune – 10/19/2012

Cartoon by John Cole -

Now a few on the debates:

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » VP Debate: Smile over substance

VP Debate: Smile over substance © Rob Tornoe,Media Matters,Paul Ryan,Joe Biden,Fox News,media,Vice President,VP Debate,water,debate,biden ryan debate

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Joe Heller, Green Bay Press-Gazette – 10/19/2012

Cartoon by Joe Heller -

BB sent me this next one, from Pat Bagley at the Salt Lake Tribune:

A few on Paul Ryan, and the Right Wing:

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Matt Bors, Universal Press Syndicate – 10/17/2012

Cartoon by Matt Bors -

Cagle Post – Political Cartoons & Commentary – » 850 Calorie School Lunch

850 Calorie School Lunch © Bob Englehart,The Hartford Courant,school,food,calories,lunch,bread,water,students

(I do have to say, this cut in school lunch should bring healthier food, but they should not cut the portions.)

AAEC – Political Cartoon by David Horsey, Los Angeles Times – 10/19/2012

Cartoon by David Horsey -

And with that Trolling Ratfucker…I end this post!


Tuesday Reads: It’s Too Darn Hot!!

Good Morning!!

I’ve really been suffering from the heat for the past couple of days. I don’t have air conditioning, but I do have lots of fans. I’m OK as long as I’ve got the fans on me, but I think the stress of day after day of 90 degree temperatures has started to get to me. So I’m going to just throw out some links that caught my eye and then open the floor to you all.

At Forbes Magazine, a subscriber named TJ Walker has a list of 35 Questions Mitt Romney Must Answer About Bain Capital Before The Issue Can Go Away. It’s a pretty good list too–not the kind of thing I’d expect to find at Forbes.

Republican Senator Tom Coburn had an op-ed in The New York Times in which he criticizes Grover Norquist. Here’s what he wrote about taxes:

What unifies Republicans is not Mr. Norquist’s tortured definition of tax purity but the idea of a Reagan- or Kennedy-style tax reform that lowers rates and broadens the tax base by getting rid of loopholes and deductions. It’s true that Republicans would prefer to lower rates as much as possible, and it’s true that Republicans believe smart tax reform will generate more, not less, revenue for the federal government. But Republicans would not walk away from a grand bargain on entitlements and tax reform that would devote a penny of revenue to deficit reduction instead of rate reduction.

Apparently Norquist’s control over Congressional Republicans has weakened substantially.

Norquist was very upset by Coburn’s op-ed and actually called Coburn a liar.

Norquist told The Hill that the piece is filed with “lies” and said that Coburn is violating, and trying to get colleagues to violate, a pledge they made to voters.

“It is like a couple that is having a fight and one of them tries to drag a third party in. Like the preacher who gave a speech last week against adultery. ‘Hey, this is your fault!’ ‘No, no, no! You promised her you would behave, you didn’t promise me. You explain to her why you get to make decisions on adultery.’ ”

He said that the idea of not raising taxes is what is powerful and pointed out that more GOP candidates have signed the Americans for Tax Reform pledge than ever before. He said that presidential candidate Mitt Romney has fully embraced the pledge as written.

Norquist said the pledge is not open to “interpretation,” as Coburn insinuates, and plainly states that ending tax breaks must be accompanied by equivalent rate reductions.

WTF? Like a couple having a fight? It appears that Norquist has forgotten who is actually in a position of power in his relationship with Coburn. He may have gone too far this time.

Speaking of crazy people, what’s going on with Michele Bachmann? In a throwback to the McCarthy Communist witch hunts, she’s apparently claiming that the Muslim Brotherhood has penetrated the upper reaches of the U.S. government.

U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann is asking how a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton got security clearance given what Bachmann describes as the aide’s family ties to the Muslim Brotherhood movement.

Bachmann also says an investigation of “potential Muslim Brotherhood infiltration” of President Barack Obama’s administration is needed because of interactions between federal agencies and what she calls U.S. front groups for the Muslim Brotherhood, an international Islamist group that recently came to power in Egypt.

The comments come in Bachmann’s new response to U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison’s call for Bachmann to back up the information on which she based a request for federal investigations into whether the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the U.S. government.

Ellison, DFL-Minneapolis, wrote Bachmann and four other lawmakers last week asking them to name their sources for similar claims on which they based their June 13 call for the investigation.

Good Grief! Salon has more.

“I am particularly interested in exactly how, given what we know from the international media about Ms. Abedin’s documented family connections with the extremist Muslim Brotherhood, she was able to avoid being disqualified for a security clearance,” the congresswoman wrote.

As evidence, she pointed to Abedin’s late father, Professor Syed Z. Abedin, and a 2002 Brigham Young University Law Review article about his work. Bachmann points to a passage saying Abedin founded an organization that received the “quiet but active support” of the the former director of the Muslim World League, an international NGO that was tied to the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe in the 1970s through 1990s. So, to connect Abedin to the Muslim Brotherhood, you have to go through her dead father, to the organization he founded, to a man who allegedly supported it, to the organization that man used to lead, to Europe in the 1970s and 1990s, and finally to the Brotherhood.

The next paragraph of the law review article she cites quotes Syed Abedin concluding that the Koran calls for, “multiple ways of life … i.e. religious and cultural plurality among mankind.” Pretty scary Islamo-fascist stuff. It’s also worth nothing that Weiner, Huma Abedin’s husband, is one of the most unquestionably pro-Israeli politicians in America. But Bachmann would have us believe that the security clearance process somehow missed Abedin’s nefarious connections, and thus she knows more than, say, the CIA and FBI, who are involved in the background-check process.

Michele Bachmann is dangerously unhinged–to use a word popular with right wingers. I’m beginning to wonder if she is actually psychotic.

The Boston Globe: John Kerry’s office blasts Mitt Romney over inaccurate claims about tax returns

Romney and his surrogates have repeatedly claimed that Kerry, the Democratic nominee in 2004, made public just two years of tax returns, despite the fact that Kerry released five years of tax documents and consistently released earlier returns during his Senate races.

On Monday, after Romney brought Kerry’s wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, into the argument, the senator’s office blasted Romney, accusing him of “conjuring up false and convoluted alibis.”

“As Senator [Daniel Patrick] Moynihan once said, people are entitled to their own opinions, but they’re not entitled to their own facts,” said David Wade, Kerry’s chief of staff and the Democrat’s national spokesman during the presidential race eight years ago.

“The Romney campaign needs to stop getting their facts wrong about John Kerry and Teresa Heinz Kerry,” Wade added, saying Kerry had put a total of 20 years of tax returns into the public domain by the time he ran for president.

What’s the deal with Mitt Romney hiding behind a former candidate’s wife anyway? Does he want people to start asking to see Ann Romney’s tax returns?

Today a CNN reporter asked Hillary Clinton how she felt about being used in Romney’s attack ads against Obama.

Speaking in Jerusalem at the tail end of a two week diplomatic trip, Clinton said in an interview with CNN Foreign Affairs Reporter Elise Labott the spots were a “waste of money.”

“I am out of politics, and I haven’t seen any of the ads that you’re talking about,” Clinton said. “But I have to say it’s a waste of money. Everybody knows I ran against President Obama in 2008, that’s hardly news. Everybody knows we ran a hard fought campaign and he won. And I have been honored to serve as his secretary of state.”

Good answer. Too bad she’s out of politics.

There’s an article at Bloomberg, of all places, on why socialism has made Canada richer than the U.S.

On July 1, Canada Day, Canadians awoke to a startling, if pleasant, piece of news: For the first time in recent history, the average Canadian is richer than the average American.
According to data from Environics Analytics WealthScapes published in the Globe and Mail, the net worth of the average Canadian household in 2011 was $363,202, while the average American household’s net worth was $319,970.

A few days later, Canada and the U.S. both released the latest job figures. Canada’s unemployment rate fell, again, to 7.2 percent, and America’s was a stagnant 8.2 percent. Canada continues to thrive while the U.S. struggles to find its way out of an intractable economic crisis and a political sine curve of hope and despair.

The difference grows starker by the month: The Canadian system is working; the American system is not. And it’s not just Canadians who are noticing. As Iceland considers switching to a currency other than the krona, its leaders’ primary focus of interest is the loonie — the Canadian dollar.

As a study recently published in the New York University Law Review pointed out, national constitutions based on the American model are quickly disappearing. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in an interview on Egyptian television, admitted, “I would not look to the United States Constitution if I were drafting a constitution in the year 2012.” The natural replacement? The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, achieving the status of legal superstar as it reaches its 30th birthday.

Let’s see Mitt Romney explain that one.

Sorry this post is a little brief, but that’s all I have the energy for at the moment. Now what are you reading and blogging about today?


Wednesday Reads: Anti-Putin, Anti-Woman and Good for Canada!

Good Morning!

Let’s start the day off with the latest news about Syria:

Peacekeepers attacked in Syria as U.S. accuses Russia of supporting regime

The U.S. accused Russia of escalating the Syrian conflict by sending attack helicopters to President Bashar Assad‘s regime, and U.N. observers were attacked Tuesday with stones, metal rods and gunfire that blocked them from a besieged rebel-held town where civilians were feared trapped by government shelling.

UPDATE 3-US worried Russia may be sending Syria helicopters | Reuters

* Clinton says helicopter sale would escalate conflict

* Syria conflict is civil war, UN official says

* Pentagon buys helicopters from Russian arms exporter (Adds senator holding up nomination of Pentagon official)

The United States is worried Russia may be sending Syria attack helicopters and views Russian claims that its arms transfers to Syria are unrelated to the conflict there as “patently untrue,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Tuesday.

The comments came as the Pentagon found itself on the defensive for doing business with Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport, given concerns in Congress about the firm’s role in arming the Syrian regime.

The 15-month-old conflict in Syria has grown into a full-scale civil war, the U.N. peacekeeping chief said on Tuesday.

More on that statement from the UN: Syria in civil war, U.N. official says

Syria’s 15-month uprising has grown into a full-scale civil war where President Bashar al-Assad’s forces are trying to recapture swathes of urban territory lost to rebels, the U.N. peacekeeping chief said on Tuesday.

“Yes, I think we can say that,” U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous said when asked if the Syrian crisis could now be characterized as a civil war.

“Clearly what is happening is that the government of Syria lost some large chunks of territory in several cities to the opposition and wants to retake control of these areas,” he said.

His remarks, the first time a senior U.N. official has declared Syria’s conflict is a civil war, came as the United States said Russia could be sending attack helicopters to Syria.

The International Red Cross said the situation was deteriorating in several parts of Syria simultaneously as fighting intensifies.

There are more reports about the use of children as human shields…U.N. adds Syria to list of countries killing children

The U.N. special envoy for children and armed conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, said the United Nations had also received credible allegations that the armed opposition, including the Free Syrian Army, had also used children during the 15-month conflict.

“There’s been extraordinary violence against children in Syria,” Coomaraswamy told reporters.

“Children as young as 9 years of age were victims of killing and maiming, detention, torture, arbitrary arrest and were used as human shields by the Syrian government forces, including the Syrian armed forces, the intelligence forces and the shabiha militia,” she said.

Those forces have also regularly raided and used schools as military bases and detention centers, Coomaraswamy added.

Here are some other links on the Syrian violence:

Russia, Soviet Style – NYTimes.com

U.S. Says Russia Supplies Syria with Combat Helicopters | World | RIA Novosti

News Wrap: Clinton Accuses Russia of Sending Attack Helicopters to Syria | PBS NewsHour | June 12, 2012 | PBS

Meanwhile, in Russia:

Protesters Defy Efforts to Muffle Anti-Putin Outcry –  This is an amazing series of photos that show thousands of Anti-Putin protestors in the streets.

https://i0.wp.com/graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2012/06/12/world/0612russia_337ss-slide-0LWY/0612russia_337ss-slide-0LWY-articleLarge.jpg

Tens of thousands of protesters thronged central Moscow in a drenching rain on Tuesday, voicing renewed fury at President Vladimir V. Putin and defying recent efforts by his government to clamp down on the political opposition movement.

The large turnout, rivaling the big crowds that had gathered at the initial antigovernment rallies in December, suggested that the tough new posture adopted by the Kremlin against the protests was emboldening rather than deterring Mr. Putin’s critics.

On Friday, Mr. Putin signed a new law that imposes steep financial penalties on participants in rallies that cause harm to people or property. On Sunday, officials arrested five more people on charges related to the last protest, which ended in a melee between demonstrators and riot police officers. And on Monday, the authorities searched the homes of several opposition leaders and issued summonses ordering seven of them to appear for questioning on Tuesday so they could not attend the rally.

Opposition issues manifesto, demands Putin quit

Participants of the June 12 opposition rally – the so-called March of Millions – have adopted the Free Russia Manifesto, which demands Vladimir Putin’s resignation, a snap State Duma vote and a new Constitution.

The protesters demand that a new law on parliamentary elections be developed, which would provide for “fair, transparent and competitive elections.” This bill should be adopted by the current parliament, which “would become its last and only” function, the document reads.

Then, a newly-elected parliament should work out a project for Russia’s Constitution, which would significantly limit presidential powers, giving more authority to MPs in terms of forming the government and holding parliamentary investigations.

The opposition also demands that the presidential time in office should be limited to either one six-year term or to two four-year terms. The parliament should also call a referendum on a project for the overhaul of the constitution.

Among other demands is the adoption of laws that guarantee local self-government and direct governors’ elections, as well as reforming of courts and law enforcement agencies.

The manifesto also points out that the difference between the living standards in Moscow and other Russian cities, which may lead to “civil confrontation and dissolution of the state.”

It continues…

“The population has a legal right for a peaceful mass protest in order to put pressure on power and to change it. Our fight for political rights is linked to economic rights. We seek changes at all levels of life,” said one of the opposition activists Evgenia Chirikova. She read the text of the document to the crowd which gathered at Moscow’s Sakharov Avenue.

Next week the March of Millions organizing committee is planning to decide on a date and the format of elections to a joint opposition body, Ilya Ponomarev, a deputy from the opposition Fair Russia party told Itar-Tass. The vote will be held on the internet, he said.

Wow, that is something to see. So in addition to these articles about Putin and the protestors, here are a few comics.

Back here in the states, Democrat to offer bill repealing ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws

The House Democrat who represents Trayvon Martin’s district will soon propose legislation repealing the nation’s “Stand Your Ground” laws, which are under a microscope following the shooting death of the Florida teenager earlier this year.

Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) said eliminating such laws might have prevented February’s fatal confrontation between the 17-year-old Martin, an unarmed African-American, and George Zimmerman, 28, an Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer carrying a 9mm handgun.

I don’t know about it preventing the killing, it seems to me Zimmerman would have done the same thing without the Stand Your Ground law. I still am thrilled that she is doing something about it however…These Stand Your Ground laws are horrible.

Wilson this week said the law threatens to enable “a horrendous crime.”

“The thought that George Zimmerman could get away with such a horrendous crime is a travesty of justice,” Wilson said Tuesday in a statement announcing her bill. “There are bills in other states known by different taglines that have the same unintended consequences as [Florida’s] Stand Your Ground [law]. They should all be repealed.”

Wilson’s proposal — which she expects to introduce next week when the House returns from this week’s recess — would discourage “Stand Your Ground” laws by withholding some federal transportation dollars from states that adopt them.

Wilson’s bill has no chance of moving this year in the GOP-controlled House, but it will shine a brighter light on the nation’s gun laws as a number of states are eyeing adoption of legislation similar to Florida’s law.

And now, two links on Women’s Rights…first from Cairo: Arab women cry for end to harassment

After years of enduring vulgar and degrading comments or worse by men on the streets of Egypt’s capital, Cairo University student Cherine Thabet decided she had enough.

“Do you know that it would be strange for a woman to leave her house and return without hearing two or three strangers’ opinions about her chest, in all kinds of colorful language,” she asked in a blog post. “Can you imagine that it is routine for a big man to stand quietly by as a woman gets groped?”

Her post received a torrent of comments from women throughout the Middle East who complained that they, too, are tired of a common practice of Arab men that is usually just whispered about by women.

“We should confront society [about this] as much as we can,” said Thabet, 21, who has been campaigning online, on the street and on Egyptian television about the issue since her post. “We should talk and talk [about it], so everyone understands what the problem is.”

Read the rest of it at the link…then take a look at this:

Healthcare, reproductive rights divide U.S., Canada in poll

On one side of the border, a woman can see a doctor for free and is guaranteed paid maternity leave. On the other, most women do not qualify for free healthcare and one in five under 65 does not have medical insurance.

These differences and others make Canada the best country among the world’s wealthiest nations to be a woman and keep the United States out of the top five, according to a poll of experts released on Wednesday by TrustLaw, a legal news service run by Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The United States ranked sixth among the 19 countries in the Group of 20 economies, excluding the European Union economic grouping, in the global survey of 370 recognized gender specialists.

Germany, Britain, Australia and France followed Canada in that order, while India, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia polled the worst.

Even though there are many similarities between the US and Canada:

the countries are very different in the area of gender equality, the experts said. Canada’s constitution promotes and safeguards women’s rights while a lack of consensus over reproductive rights in particular erodes them in the United States, experts said.

“Canada leads the pack with its promotion of women’s access and opportunities across various sectors of society, including education, economic participation and healthcare,” said Sarah Degnan Kambou, president of the International Center for Research on Women in Washington, which took part in the survey.

The poll showed how the lack of universal health care and the struggle over abortion rights in the United States – important issues ahead of the November presidential election – were key to perceptions of women’s freedoms in the country, according to the experts polled.

Read on…

While a pregnant woman in Canada is guaranteed 15 weeks paid maternity leave, she receives no federally guaranteed time off with pay in the United States. If the expectant mother is one of the 16 percent of American women under 65 with no health insurance – according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – she may have to forgo adequate prenatal and postnatal care because she can’t afford it.

Canada also ranks better than the United States on maternal mortality, reporting 12 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2008, half the number recorded in the United States, according to the United Nations.

POLITICS, TREATIES AND RIGHTS

While women’s political representation in Canada lags behind some G20 countries, it fares better than in the United States. Nearly a quarter of seats in Canada’s lower house of parliament are held by women, compared to 17 percent in the United States, according to data from the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

“Our political participation levels, particularly in Congress, are embarrassingly low as compared to other countries in the G20, such as South Africa, Germany and Argentina,” said ICRW’s Kambou. In South Africa, women hold 42 percent of seats in parliament’s lower house.

Canada was one of the first countries to sign and ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), often referred to as the international bill of rights for women.

The United States is the only democracy and the only G20 country that has yet to ratify CEDAW, primarily due to concerns of religious and social conservatives that it will undermine what they call “traditional family values”.

It is really a sad state of affairs for women in this country. Embarrassing too.

Aside from quality of health, the TrustLaw survey asked respondents to rank G20 countries in terms of the overall best and worst places for women and in the categories of freedom from violence, participation in politics, workplace opportunities, access to resources like education and property rights and freedom from trafficking and slavery.

(For full coverage of the poll visit g20women.trust.org)

(TrustLaw is a free legal news site run by Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters. Visit trust.org/trustlaw. For more information on the TrustWomen Conference visit trustwomenconf.com)

HOW THEY RANK

Best and worst G20 countries for women

1. Canada 2. Germany 3. Britain 4. Australia 5. France 6. United States 7. Japan 8. Italy 9. Argentina 10. South Korea 11. Brazil 12. Turkey 13. Russia 14. China 15. Mexico 16. South Africa 17. Indonesia 18. Saudi Arabia 19. India

That is all I have for you today, please share your morning news with us…comment section is below!


There Will Be Blood

If you listen to the GOP, you’d be convinced that the WH, Democrats in general and crazed environmentalists specifically had nixed the Keystone Pipeline out of sheer orneriness or a deep-seated hatred of good ‘ole American Capitalism.  Rick Santorum and his Prince of Darkness tour would no doubt smell brimstone in the midst of any pipeline dissent.

Well, surprise, surprise.  The push back is not limited to protestors in the United States.  Our northern neighbors in Canada have as many if not more objections to the Petro State ripping through their country, poisoning watersheds, destroying wildlife and property, causing disease and health problems among citizens, all in the name of King Oil and the desire to wring every last drop out of the planet.

The Hell with Consequences!

First Nation, the indigenous population of Canada, has already predicted:

There will be blood!

Why the outcry?  Enbridge, Inc. and the conservative government in Canada is pressing forward with their own pipeline project, Northern Gateway, which would carry 500,000+ barrels a day 731 miles from a town near Edmonton, westward through the Rocky Mountains to a port on the British Columbia [BC] coast.  Over 60 indigenous organizations have expressed their opposition, refusing to be moved by the promise of revenue, jobs and an increase in their quality of life because their lives are deeply attached to the natural resources of BC, most importantly the integrity of the salmon trade that depends on the streams and tributaries of the Fraser and Skeena Rivers.   In addition, the proposed port on the coast, which would host over 200 oil tankers a year, could expose the Great Bear rainforest to irreparable damage.

Think Valdez!

Interestingly enough, First Nation opposition is the most serious threat to the Harper government’s enthusiastic endorsement of the pipeline.  Unlike other indigenous groups, First Nation never signed treaties with the Canadian government and consequently never relinquished their lands to the Federal government.  On the other hand, the government and oil companies have nearly unlimited funds to fight this battle in court.

According to the LA Times report Tribal Chief Jackie Thomas has said:

“It’s going to be a war. The only question is, who’s going to draw the first blood.”

And here’s a chilling factoid: Enbridge is the same company responsible for the leak of 800,000+ gallons [the EPA now reports over 1 million gallons] of tar sand oil into the Kalamazoo River, Michigan.  Presumably, the oil company has spent $700 million in reclamation procedures.  The area is still a gigantic mess.

Kalamazoo River Spill

Added to the environmental risks [the cost of which is usually ignored] the Northern Pipeline is likely to boost the price of oil for Canadian consumers because like the Keystone proposal, the oil would be exported, not available domestically. The video below is instructive in a grim way.

Why are we having these bitter disputes?

Because we desperately need new energy sources. And there’s tons of money on the line.  More importantly, we need an Energy Policy/Strategy, where the pros and cons of transitional sources are seriously considered–the trade-offs, the costs, what we as a culture are willing to put up with or risk until renewable, clean sources are developed and brought online.  That’s a plan that would look at what we need today, five years down the road, 10, 20, 30 years.  You set benchmarks.  You invest in, encourage and unleash innovation, while focusing on increased efficiency from power plants–the traditional US coal power plant is only 35% efficient, meaning we’re wasting most of the energy we’re producing–to autos to buildings to everything else.

Where is that policy?  Nada.

The Department of Defense’s push towards alternative energy is not a sign of the US military becoming rabid tree huggers.  As the world’s largest institutional energy consumer, the DOD knows the score: the days of cheap fossil fuel are over and our dependence on foreign and unfriendly suppliers is a serious security issue.  The Department’s commitment to this reality can be seen in proposed budget expenditures: $3 billion by 2015; $10 billion by 2030.

As GreenTech Media reported, this sort of shift has historical parallels:

Military spending in support of energy is not new. Winston Churchill’s decision in 1911 to move the British Navy, then the world’s then most dominant military force, from coal to oil changed the world’s energy marketplace. The emerging trend in DoD spending on renewables is an equally historic marker.

Neither American or Canadian energy needs should come down to an either/or contest: shut off the electricity or rip the environment apart, robbing people, wildlife, the very planet of their health, sustainability and future.  We cannot poison our watersheds, jeopardize our aquifers or damage fertile farmlands for the sake of profits or our unwillingness to conserve and efficiently utilize what we have.  King Oil has ruled long enough. The damage they’re willing to exact is unacceptable, even obscene.

Alberta Tar Oil Sands, Aerial Satellite Shot

First Nation peoples of British Columbia know this and are willing to fight tooth and nail to preserve what’s left of their way of life and cultural traditions. To save the irreplaceable.

Great Bear Rainforest

There may very well be blood.  It’s a worthy fight.