June 18th, 2013

David Thewlis - Deer in headlights

Push for gay rights makes strides in Missouri Senate

JEFFERSON CITY — Steve Urie believes he lost his job because he’s gay.

For years he taught certified nursing assistants in southwest Missouri, and the fact that he was gay was no secret. Since coming out of the closet in his 20s, the 63-year-old now says he refused to hide who he is.

But one day, his human resources director summoned him. There were concerns about some of the questions Urie was asking and procedures he was teaching, even though the textbooks and other materials he relied on were approved by state regulators
. A colleague who wasn’t gay used the same material, Urie said, but didn’t appear to face similar questions.

Urie was let go, and says the reason he was given was that he brought “homosexuality into the workplace.”

“I was fired for being gay,” he said. “If I was straight, it wouldn’t have been an issue.”

Urie’s former employer said in a statement that it does not discuss personnel matters, but added that sexual orientation of an employee is never a factor in hiring or firing.

Whatever cost Urie his job, no law would prevent an employer from legally firing him for being gay.

No state law explicitly protects workers from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. That means people can be fired from their job, evicted from their apartment or thrown out of a restaurant for being gay or being perceived as gay.

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oh holy shit
  • chaya

Texas Congressman: Masturbating Fetuses Prove Need for Abortion Ban

As the House of Representatives gears up for Tuesday’s debate on HR 1797, a bill that would outlaw virtually all abortions 20 weeks post fertilization, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) argued in favor of banning abortions even earlier in pregnancy because, he said, male fetuses that age were already, shall we say, spanking the monkey.

“Watch a sonogram of a 15-week baby, and they have movements that are purposeful,” said Burgess, a former OB/GYN. “They stroke their face. If they’re a male baby, they may have their hand between their legs. If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to believe that they could feel pain?”

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Source couldn't make this up if it tried.


Migration and Islamophibia is Turning Europe (more) Secular.

How to hobble religion
Contrary to popular belief, migration from Muslim countries is one reason why Europe is becoming more secular, not less

The European relationship between religion, law and politics is a strange creature. Religious influence over political life is weaker in Europe than in almost any other part of the world. To adapt the phrase first used by Alastair Campbell when he was spokesman for the British prime minister Tony Blair, politicians in Europe generally ‘don’t do God’. The EU’s Eurobarometer surveys of public opinion suggest that religion has a very limited impact on the political values and behaviour of European voters. Europe has no equivalent to the politically powerful religious right in America, nor to the theological debates in the political arena that one sees in many Islamic countries.

Recently, however, this long-standing distance between religion and politics has been threatened. Migration is one factor that has helped religion to return to centre stage in public life. While Muslim minorities have protested over questions of blasphemy and free speech, Catholic leaders have intervened in political debates about gay marriage and abortion, and conservatives have lamented that European societies are losing touch with their Christian past. The political scientist Eric Kaufmann has argued that religious believers have a demographic advantage in birth rates that will see Europe's secularisation reversed by the end of this century.

Religious justifications for terrorism might be the most visible and dramatic threat to liberal states from increased religiosity, but the separation of religion and politics has recently been challenged in multiple ways and in many countries, not just in Europe. Both the US and Canada have experienced controversies over the attempted use of religious law in family arbitration, while Islamic leaders in Australia have provoked intense debate after giving sermons denouncing gender equality. However, the renewed visibility of religion in public affairs provokes particularly intense challenges in Europe since it undermines well-established, but often tacit, conventions on the limits to religious influence on public life.

Secularism in Europe has been in part influenced by the original recognition in Christian theology of separate secular and religious realms (the Bible’s injunction to ‘render unto Caesar’). But the distinctive European ‘settlement’ on religion stems from the religious wars of the 16th and 17th centuries. The suffering caused by these conflicts across western and northern Europe brought a strong desire for political norms and structures that could end the misery and instability caused by religious contestation for political power. The Peace of Westphalia — a series of treaties concluded in 1648 — established the principle that sovereign states would respect each other’s boundaries and differing state religions. This acceptance of the permanence and legitimacy of religious diversity between (if not within) European states combined with the work of thinkers such as Grotius, Hobbes, Locke and Hume to provide Europe with ways of thinking and speaking about politics that were separate from religion.
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Florida’s Governor Signs Business-Backed Bill Banning Paid Sick Leave

Florida’s Governor Signs Business-Backed Bill Banning Paid Sick Leave

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) signed a bill on Friday that blocks local governments from implementing paid sick leave legislation, the Orlando Sentinel reports. He made his decision quickly, only taking four of the 15 days he legally had to review the bill before he signed it.

In signing the bill, Scott sided with big business interests including Disney World, Darden Restaurants (owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster), and the Florida Chamber of Commerce. The bill is part of a national effort to pass so-called “preemption bills” that would block paid sick leave legislation that is backed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing group that coordinates conservative laws across states. The state’s House Majority Leader, Steve Precourt (R), who was instrumental in putting forward the preemption bill, is an active ALEC member.

The bill has made moot a 2014 referendum in Orange County that would have decided whether to require paid sick leave. More than 50,000 voters had tried to get the measure on the November 6 ballot but the County Commission voted it off. It made it on the ballot in 2014 thanks to a three-judge panel.

Florida follows a rash of preemption bills in the states, which cropped up in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Mississippi. These bills are part of ALEC’s efforts to weaken wage and labor standards: Since 2011, 67 such ALEC-affiliated bills have been introduced in state legislatures, 11 of which had been signed into law before Scott signed this bill.

Big business stood in opposition to the Orange County effort on paid sick leave because it claimed such a bill would drive up costs. Yet a study of San Francisco, which enacted a paid sick leave policy in 2007, showed that a majority of businesses saw either no impact or a positive one on profitability. Other research has shown such policies to be good for business and job growth.


OP: Me thinks he isn't giving up his own sick days for the good growth of businesses...
David Thewlis - Deer in headlights

Trigger warning: Alleged rapist seeks custody of child

Pyper Grogg, now 17, became pregnant with baby Noah at age 14. The Grogg family is now seeking to terminate the parental rights of Noah’s father, Alexander Nelson. Nelson was tried in military court on counts of sexual assault, statutory rape and committing an indecent act but was acquitted of the charges.

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This One Paper Explains Why Republicans Are Losing On Economics

This One Paper Explains Why Republicans Are Losing On Economics

Have conservatives learned their lesson from the 47 percent debacle? A new paper from arguably the most influential conservative economist in the country, titled “In Defense Of The One Percent,” suggests no. Even worse, the paper shows how dividing America into Randian producers and naturally subordinate moochers is the only way to resolve a central contradiction in modern conservative economic thinking — meaning that the GOP will be stuck making a losing argument until it conducts a total rethink of its economic philosophy.

Harvard Economics Professor N. Gregory Mankiw, the author of “In Defense,” was the chairman of George W. Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers and counseled Mitt Romney on economic issues in 2006 and 2012. Despite his occasional heresies (Mankiw famously supports a carbon tax to fight global warming), Mankiw is one of the most-respected and most-representative conservative economist active in public life today.

Mankiw’s defense of the one percent proceeds from a fairly conventional script. He argues that structural transformations in the economy, principally caused by the advent of new technology like computers, “have allowed a small number of highly educated and exceptionally talented individuals to command superstar incomes in ways that were not possible a generation ago.” The recent spike in inequality, for Mankiw, is then largely caused by the smart and talented being able to express their talents freely. Much of Mankiw’s paper is devoted to arguing that punishing these talented individuals through more progressive taxation would be unfair because they earned it fair and square.*

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Woman, 36, bears child of 11-year-old boy

Case prompts minister to ask why women can't be charged with rape

An 11-year-old boy fathered a child after sex with a school friend's 36-year-old mother.

Both the father and child are now understood to be in care after the principal at the boy's school raised the alarm.

The case has caused counsellors working in the area of child sexual abuse to highlight the lack of attention given to women as potential offenders.

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Did Vladimir Putin steal Robert Kraft's Super Bowl ring?

Best sports story ever? New England Patriots' owner Robert Kraft has accused Russian Premier Vladimir Putin of stealing his 2005 Super Bowl ring.

A spokesman for Vladimir Putin maintains that the Russian President received Robert Kraft's Super Bowl ring in 2005 as a gift and said the New England Patriots' owner's claims that Putin took it without permission is "weird."

Kraft, who was honored at Carnegie Hall's Medal of Excellence gala at the Waldorf-Astoria on Thursday, told the crowd at the event that Putin took his Super Bowl XXXIX ring when the Patriots' owner visited St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2005, even though he released a statement at the time saying he gave the ring to Putin as a gift.

"I took out the ring and showed it to [Putin], and he put it on and he goes, 'I can kill someone with this ring,' " Kraft told the crowd, according to the New York Post. "I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out."

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Hermit Crab

Kim Jong Un Gave Out Hitler's Mein Kampf To Senior Officials In Honor Of Birthday

Is Kim Jong Un starting an Adolf Hitler book club?

The North Korean leader reportedly gave out copies of Hitler's ideological tome Mein Kampf to select senior officials recently, according to North Korean watchdog news site New Focus International.

The so-called Nazi bible, written by Hitler while in prison in 1924, was given out in honor of Kim's birthday in January, the site claims.

“Kim Jong-un gave a lecture to high-ranking officials, stressing that we must pursue the policy of Byungjin (Korean for ‘in tandem’) in terms of nuclear and economic development," an anonymous source told New Focus International by phone. "Mentioning that Hitler managed to rebuild Germany in a short time following its defeat in WWI, Kim Jong-un issued an order for the Third Reich to be studied in depth and asked that practical applications be drawn from it."

The gift might be part of a campaign to create a more intimidating persona for the young leader, Shirley Lee, New Focus’s international editor, told the Washington Post. The Post also noted that leadership and nation-building -- not anti-Semitism -- seemed to be the intended significance of the gift.

Many books are banned in North Korea, according to the Washington Post, and the consequences for owning a banned book can be quite severe. In 2009, a Christian woman who was accused of distributing copies of the Bible was allegedly executed, according to the Associated Press.

While possibly startling to Western countries that opposed Hitler's actions during World War II, North Korea is not the first country that maintains a healthy appreciation of the German's leadership skills.

In India for example, Mein Kampf is printed by multiple publishers and is popular among business school students, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
Source (no Kim Jong-un tag?)