February 8th, 2011

Seven-year-old donates to LA gay centre because he thinks inequality is unfair

 A seven-year-old has donated $140 to the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation (HRC) because he doesn’t think it’s right for gay people not to be treated equally.
The child, called Malcolm, was given $140 by his parents to donate to the charity of his choice. He chose to split the money between the gay centre and the HRC.

The cheque was accompanied by a hand written note that read: “I am sending you this money because I don’t think it’s fair that Gay people are not treated equally,” Malcom writes on the check [sic].”

A note from the boy’s mother said: “To teach the importance of improving the world around him, Malcolm was given $140 to give away to the charity of his choice. After hearing a story on the radio about the mistreatment of gays and lesbians, Malcolm became both upset and curious about the issue…to help, he chose to split his money between the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center and the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.”

Source: Pink News

Thought we could do with something happy.

This divorce tax is emotional terrorism

The denial of compassion is big business for this government. Under the coming austerity package, which includes a de facto large tax break for bankers, single mothers will be punished more than any other group in society, save those with severe disabilities. Roll that sentence around your mouth and see how bitter it tastes.

This month, expected plans by the Tories to charge separating couples to use the Child Support Agency - essentially a divorce tax for parents - have hit the news. Collapse )

"Should felony suspects be forced to give DNA sample?"

STAMFORD -- State lawmakers are considering collecting DNA samples from people arrested for felony offenses rather than waiting upon a conviction -- a practice critics say endangers civil rights and personal privacy, and legal experts say undermines the principle that defendants should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Supporters of the proposed bill, however, say expanding the statewide DNA database would help law enforcement link more and more criminals to unsolved crimes.

As it stands now, state law requires people convicted of a serious felony to give DNA samples to authorities, and they face further criminal charges if they refuse. As other states mull over or fully adopt expansions of DNA testing among those arrested for serious crimes, a handful of state lawmakers are introducing similar proposals in Connecticut.


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This doesn't sit right with me. What do you all think?

Sane(?) Coloradan Republican Calls it Quit: Tired of Being Tea Bagged, Forgets Safe Word.

Democrats Already Ordering Truckloads of Blue Paint.

Colorado GOP Chairman Quits: 'I'm Tired Of The Nuts'

Colorado Republican Party Chairman Dick Wadhams dropped his reelection bid on Monday, and fired some parting shots at the Tea Party and the hard-line conservatives he thinks are hurting the party's electoral success.

"I have tired of those who are obsessed with seeing conspiracies around every corner and who have terribly misguided notions of what the role of the state party is while saying 'uniting conservatives' is all that is needed to win competitive races across the state," Wadhams wrote in a memo to the Colorado Republican State Central Committee obtained by The Denver Post.

Wadhams oversaw Republican losses in both the Senate and gubernatorial races in Colorado last fall, races that the party could have conceivably won if the Tea Party-backed nominees in both races hadn't committed some serious errors.

"I have loved being chairman, but I'm tired of the nuts who have no grasp of what the state party's role is," Wadhams told the Post.

Wadhams claims to have had the votes lined up to win reelection, but wrote in his memo that a "uniting conservatives" strategy will "severely" undermine the party's chances to lure swing voters in 2012.

Wadhams was once a rising star in the Republican Party. He managed successful campaigns for Sen. Wayne Allard and Gov. Bill Owens in Colorado, and Sen. Conrad Burns in Montana, then really made a name for himself helping Sen. John Thune (R-SD) upset then-minority leader Tom Daschle in 2004. In 2005, Slate dubbed him Karl Rove's "heir apparent." But in 2006, he served as chief of staff and campaign manager for the doomed reelection campaign of Sen. George Allen (R-VA), of "macaca" notoriety. And in 2008, he managed Bob Schafer's losing Senate run in Colorado.

2010 could have been different for Wadhams. His party had a good shot at winning the gubernatorial race, and Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) looked vulnerable. But the the front-runner in the gubernatorial race was undone by a plagiarism scandal before the primary, and the party's nomination fell to the (initially at least) Tea Party-backed Dan Maes -- who went on to have arguably the worst campaign of 2010. In the Senate race, Tea Party favorite Ken Buck beat the party's preferred candidate, Jane Norton, in the primary. Buck was initially leading in the polls, but in the end could not overcome a series of gaffes and scandals that plagued his campaign in the closing days.

Wadhams told the Post he doesn't know what his next career move will be.

Read Wadhams' entire memo to the Colorado Republican State Central Committee:
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How to understand what's happened to the GOP
A one-time rising star on the right quits his GOP leadership post because of all the "nuts"

The headline itself seems routine and generic: The chairman of the Colorado Republican Party is stepping down from his post. But the identity of that chairman and the reason for his exit capsulize neatly the radical transformation the GOP has undergone in just the past half-decade.

Dick Wadhams, the soon-to-be former chairman, is a name you may remember. In the middle of last decade, after he oversaw John Thune's narrow 2004 victory over Tom Daschle, who was then the Senate's Democratic leader, he was hailed for his strategic savvy. With George W. Bush and his team set to leave the White House in 2008, Wadhams was deemed the next Karl Rove, and soon went to work for George Allen, who -- the original thinking went -- would win an easy reelection campaign in Virginia in 2006, then run for the GOP's open '08 nomination. Early punditry in 2005 and '06 pegged Allen as the chief threat to John McCain -- and maybe even the front-runner, given McCain's historic difficulties with the party base.

Those were the good old days for the GOP, when the party controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress and when even some Democrats were willing to buy into the Rovian notion of a permanent Republican majority. And then ... everything changed. The major plot points of Wadhams' career capture the story just about perfectly.
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Golden Girls- Blanche Marines

Chinese Woman Forced to Have IUD Seeks Asylum

A Manhattan woman who says the Chinese government forced her to get a birth-control device has been given a second chance in her bid for asylum.

Soon after arriving in 2000, Chinese immigrant Mei Fun Wong, 44, asked for permission to stay in the U.S. on the grounds that an intrauterine device implanted against her will had made her life "unbearable."
Two years later, an immigration judge shot down her request and ordered her and her son deported - a decision backed by an immigration appeals panel in 2008.

But now the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered the lower courts to take another look and explain why China's policy of forcing women to get the devices doesn't amount to persecution. "You can't just say this is a routine medical procedure," said Wong's lawyer, Henry Hwang. "What is routine about going to a person's home, detaining them, and not letting them go until they submit?"

Chinese women are ordered to get IUDs as part of the country's population control policy.
Wong's was implanted in 1991. She found it painful and had it secretly removed by a private doctor, court papers say.When the government found out during a mandatory exam, they detained her for three days until she gave in and allowed them to reinsert it, she says. The guards also made her pay a fine for skipping exams before releasing her.

Immigration judges have ruled that unlike forced sterilization or abortion, IUD insertion is a nonpermanent medical procedure that doesn't warrant asylum.The 2nd Circuit judges didn't challenge that premise, but said the immigration court didn't clearly define the standards it uses to decide whether aggravating circumstances - such as the threat of imprisonment - might rise to the level of persecution. The appellate judges also noted that guards who helped force Chinese women to get IUDs have applied for asylum here and been turned down because the courts held that they persecuted women. A U.S. Justice Department spokesman said the government is reviewing the decision and declined to comment.



Ohio “Heartbeat” bill could ban abortion just 18 days after conception

Ohio lawmakers will soon introduce a new abortion bill that would make abortion illegal as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected, a move that some commentators say would mean a complete ban on abortion.

The “Heartbeat” bill will apparently be introduced later this month, right before Valentine’s Day (Get it? Hearts! Why let an unprecedented attack on women’s bodily autonomy get in the way of your seriously tacky marketing?) by Republican Representative Lynn Wachtmann. The bill is the first of its kind in the country, and if it passes we can expect copycats from other strictly anti-choice states like Texas and Oklahoma.

Robin Marty, writing at Alternet, explains why this bill would be tantamount to a complete abortion ban:

By establishing heartbeat as the criteria for banning abortion, the bill effectively rejects abortion from any point after roughly four weeks post conception, a time in which fetal heartbeat can be seen via high quality ultrasound machine. For most women, that would provide a window of two weeks or less in order to learn she was pregnant, make her decision about the pregnancy, arrange for an appointment, gather money for an abortion, obtain the mandatory counseling and sit through the required 24 hour waiting period. For a woman with irregular menstrual cycles, by the time she realizes she is pregnant it likely would already be too late to do anything but continue the pregnancy.

As Marty points out, this bill is, at first glance, less restrictive than the absurd “personhood” bills we’ve seen in the last few years, most notably in Colorado. Those bills grant constitutional rights to fertilized eggs and embryos, which of course do not have heartbeats. But the “heartbeat” bill is far more targeted at abortion than the personhood bills, which also inhibit IVF and some intrauterine contraceptive devices. While these lighter restrictions sound better to pro-choice ears, Marty sees them as a curse rather than a blessing. “With ‘Personhood,’ pro-choicers were able to hang all women’s autonomy together,” she says. “With ‘Heartbeat’ anti-choicers are trying to isolate women who want to terminate pregnancies, targeting them in isolation.”

If you are in Ohio and want to get involved in efforts to stop this bill, contact Planned Parenthood, which divides the state into Northeast, Southwest and Central Ohio. This shit is serious, and something I’ll be keeping a close eye on. If you’re in-state and want to get involved, don’t put it off.


And now, for this Ohio resident's reply.

roy main

Florida Bans Cocaine-Like 'Bath Salts' Sold In Stores

February 8, 2011

Across the country, packets of white powder with names like Vanilla Sky, Ivory Wave and White Rush are being sold in convenience stores and gas stations. The packets are labeled and sold as "bath salts," but they are actually a drug that produces a meth-like high and sometimes violent behavior in users. Law enforcement has caught on, and Florida recently joined Louisiana in banning the sale of the powders.

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Transgender woman told ‘dress as a man to find work’

 A transgender woman claims she was told by a Jobcentre to dress as a man to find work.

Tina Cook, 54, who began transition last year, used to work in the construction industry but was made redundant 18 months ago.

She began claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance but says that a Jobcentre in Darlington told her last week that she should return to looking like a man to secure interviews.

Ms Cook is currently in the real-life experience stage of her transition, which means she must live and present herself as a woman at all times.

Her treatment may be at risk if she does not comply with this requirement.

She told the Northern Echo: “I have been living in the wrong body for 53 years and have only recently summoned up the courage to be the way I want.

“I have given up so much for this. My family don’t really talk to me and I have no friends.

“How can they expect me to give it up to get a job? I think it is really insensitive.”

Janett Scott, of trans charity the Beaumont Society, told the newspaper: “If you were to ask a homosexual to act straight, or suggest to an ethnic minority that the reason they were not getting work was because of their race, then there would rightly be an outrage.

“This is exactly the same thing.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokesman said that Jobcentre Plus was investigating the complaint.

Source: Pink News

Yet another instance of the DWP treating people like shit, but now with added transphobia!

Social Scientist Sees Bias Within

Some of the world’s pre-eminent experts on bias discovered an unexpected form of it at their annual meeting.

Discrimination is always high on the agenda at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s conference, where psychologists discuss their research on racial prejudice, homophobia, sexism, stereotype threat and unconscious bias against minorities. But the most talked-about speech at this year’s meeting, which ended Jan. 30, involved a new “outgroup.”

It was identified by Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia who studies the intuitive foundations of morality and ideology. He polled his audience at the San Antonio Convention Center, starting by asking how many considered themselves politically liberal. A sea of hands appeared, and Dr. Haidt estimated that liberals made up 80 percent of the 1,000 psychologists in the ballroom. When he asked for centrists and libertarians, he spotted fewer than three dozen hands. And then, when he asked for conservatives, he counted a grand total of three.

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For me this is pretty much The Pope Is Catholic, Bears Shit In The Woods. Conservatives have said this for YEARS.

An H.I.V. Strategy Invites Addicts In

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — At 12 tables, in front of 12 mirrors, a dozen people are fussing intently in raptures of self-absorption, like chorus line members applying makeup in a dressing room.

But these people are drug addicts, injecting themselves with whatever they just bought on the street — under the eyes of a nurse here at Insite, the only “safe injection site” in North America.

“You can tell she just shot cocaine,” Thomas Kerr, an AIDS expert who does studies at the center, said of one young woman who keeps readjusting her tight tube top. “The way she’s fidgeting, moving her hands over her face — she’s tweaking.”

Insite, situated on the worst block of an area once home to the fastest-growing AIDS epidemic in North America, is one reason Vancouver is succeeding in lowering new AIDS infection rates while many other cities are only getting worse.

By offering clean needles and aggressively testing and treating those who may be infected with H.I.V., Vancouver is offering proof that an idea that was once controversial actually works: Widespread treatment, while expensive, protects not just individuals but the whole community.

Because antiretroviral medications lower the amount of virus in the blood, those taking them are estimated to be 90 percent less infective.


The New York Times has the entire article. The source also has a short video that is very much worth watching.
Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Freed cyber activist lauds protests

Freed cyber activist lauds protests - Google executive Wael Ghonim speaks after release from Egyptian custody, sparking outpouring of support from protesters.

Egyptian anti-government protesters have welcomed the release of a Google executive who disappeared in Cairo last month after playing a key role in helping demonstrators organise.

Wael Ghonim was released on Monday by Egyptian authorities, sparking a fast and explosive response from supporters, bloggers and pro-democracy activists on the internet.

Ghonim's release came nearly two weeks after he was reported missing on January 28 during protests against Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

"Freedom is a bless[ing] that deserves fighting for it," Ghonim, Google's head of marketing for the Middle East and North Africa, wrote in a message posted on his Twitter account shortly after his release.

He said he was seized in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, late last month as he joined tens of thousands of protesters in the city's Tahrir Square, the focal point of protests aimed at calling on Mubarak to step down from his 30-year-rule in Egypt.

Ghonim said he was picked up by three plainclothes men on the street, pushed into a car and taken off for interrogation by state security members.

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You're On Notice

Patriot Act extension runs into conservative opposition

'Tea party' adherents in the House, like civil libertarians, chafe at parts of the anti-terrorism law that reach into people's privacy.
-By Lisa Mascaro, Washington Bureau

Reporting from Washington — A House GOP push to permanently extend expiring provisions of the Patriot Act is running into opposition from conservative and "tea party"-inspired lawmakers wary of the law's reach into private affairs.

Enacted after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the law makes it easier for federal authorities to conduct surveillance on terrorism suspects. Civil libertarians have long fought the measure, often drawing support from Democratic allies in Congress.

But as the Republican-led House prepares to vote Tuesday for a short-term extension of provisions expiring at the end of this month, some rank-and-file Republicans are signaling they will resist efforts later this year to make the law permanent.

"There need to be sunsets on the bill after that in order to have adequate accountability and oversight," said Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas). "Until sunsets come up, it is often difficult to get the answers we need to do necessary oversight to avoid abuses."

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican in tea party-strong Utah, has not decided how he will vote Tuesday.

Tea party adherents prefer a smaller federal government, creating common cause on this issue with civil libertarians who object to expanded surveillance powers for federal authorities.

The three most contested provisions of the Patriot Act expire on Feb. 28, and the White House has worked with congressional leaders to secure an extension through December 2013. The Democratic-led Senate is considering legislation to do so.

The House GOP, though, is seeking to pass a shorter extension, to Dec. 8, 2011.

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.), author of the original bill, is seeking a permanent extension, and GOP leaders in the Senate unveiled similar legislation last week.

"These three provisions have helped thwart countless potential attacks since the bill was signed into law and are critical to helping ensure law officials can keep our nation safe from attack," Sensenbrenner said.

The three provisions up for renewal have long raised objections from civil libertarians, including the so-called library provision, which allows federal investigators, with a judge's approval, to access a wide cache of a suspect's personal information, including library records.

Another expiring provision allows the government to conduct court-approved roving wiretaps of terrorism suspects as they change phones or locations. A third is the "lone wolf" provision that enables authorities to conduct surveillance on foreign terrorism suspects who do not appear to be affiliated with known groups.


Now, much like Natalie Imbruglia, I'm torn. I generally hate hypocrisy, but at the same time, I really hate the PATRIOT ACT, and I want it to die.

"My Dear" Egypt: AC is calling you out on your bullshit.

Anderson Cooper: Egyptian Government Has 'Blood On Their Hands,' Is Lying (VIDEO)

Anderson Cooper savaged the Egyptian government on his Monday show, saying that President Hosni Mubarak's regime has blood on its hands and is lying to the world about its actions.

It was Cooper's first show since he returned from Egypt after a week in which he was attacked twice by supporters of Mubarak, and he didn't hold back.

Cooper began by noting that nearly 300 people have been killed in Egypt since the uprising began.

"That is the truth of the Mubarak regime," he said. "They have blood on their hands...are they really going to change for themselves?" He also said he would expose the "lies" of the government. The word, he said, was "one we rarely use...but we can't think of another word right now to describe what the Egyptian government has been saying, because what they have been saying is the direct opposite of what they have been doing."

As examples, Cooper said that, while the government has claimed to be reaching out to the opposition, "his secret police were still arresting opposition figures." He also said that, while the Egyptian government has denied being involved in the violence directed at protesters, the Egyptian military had been conspicuously slow to react to the targeting of demonstrators by pro-Mubarak forces.

"This is a police state," Cooper concluded.


By the sparkle of his baby blue eyes, Anderson Cooper WILL END YOU.

Why C-SPAN can never get cameras on the House floor


Seizing on Republicans' calls for more transparency in the health-care debate, C-SPAN in November asked incoming Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) if it could bring cameras onto the House floor. The response has just come back: Sorry, but no.

"I believe the American people -- and the dignity and decorum of the United States House of Representatives -- are best served by the current system of televised proceedings provided by the House Recording Studio," Boehner wrote to C-SPAN Chairman Brian Lamb.

C-SPAN has been making similar requests since 1994. It seems unlikely to succeed anytime soon. Fighting over camera angles goes back to 1984.

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