Nel's New Day

February 20, 2017

DDT’s First Month

Comparisons of work during the first month are always popular in the first term of any president, but Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) makes the job more interesting than in the past. During his first month as president, Barack Obama had addressed the financial crisis by passing a stimulus bill totaling almost $1 billion dollars, approved a bill to prevent pay discrimination, expanded children’s health insurance, banned torture, started the foundation for major health care and financial regulation bills, and saw his approval ratings increase by 27 percent. The current Congress is fighting among the majority party, and DDT has largely signed mostly meaningless executor orders largely “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

Narcissist DDT, however, has preened himself regarding his accomplishments. At his 77-minute press conference last week, he said, “There has never been a president that has done so much in such a short period of time.” He continued to lie by claiming that his administration is a “fine-tuned machine” and “had a very smooth rollout of the travel ban.”

Gallup poll ratings of 40 percent for DDT make Bill Clinton’s 51 percent at this time in his presidency look very good. Instead of spiking during his first month, DDT’s ratings went down from 45 percent when he took office to 40 percent and is now 21 points lower than the average 61 per cent for other a half century.

DDT’s “accomplishments”:

  • His signature policy, the Muslim ban, was overturned in court.
  • His national security had to resign in disgrace.
  • His nominee for secretary of the Labor department had to withdraw his name in disgrace.
  • His vice-president had to break a tie for the 50 percent vote that his Secretary of Education for the first time in history in confirming a cabinet appointee.
  • He and his campaign staff are being investigated for involvement in Russia’s influence on the presidential election while he equates Russia and the U.S. in being “killers.”
  • He nominated activist Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court Justice to swing that court to the far right.
  • He denied the value of a two-state solution in the Middle East, possibly denying the beleaguered Palestinians their country.
  • He has declared war on the intelligence community, the press, the judicial system, and possibly Congress.
  • He lied three-fourths of the time.
  • He made untold profits on his private business and more money by overturning the restriction on building the Dakota pipeline because he owns stock in the contractor.
  • He signed two bills, one to allow coal companies to despoil 6,000 miles of streams and the other to permit bribery by foreign governments to the oil industry for favors.
  • He signed the Mexico City Policy to deny millions of women in third-world countries reproductive health care.
  • He and his family spent $12 million in travel, the same amount that President Obama and his family spent in a year. That amount doesn’t include the maintenance of his home for his wife and son in Manhattan.
  • He alienated countries such as Mexico and Australia, formerly U.S. allies.
  • He is making India great again by rejecting the best and brightest tech talent that might emigrate to the United states, according to Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani.
  • He is making China great again by conceding economic influence and abandoning U.S. moral leadership, especially after he caved and agreed with the one-China policy with nothing in return for the U.S.
  • He promised to raise costs of goods for people in the United States with a tariff, that is now being called a “border adjustment tax.” The result would make foreign-held debt far more valuable, raising the U.S. debt by hundreds of billions of dollars without any more borrowing.
  • He made White House affairs less secure by keeping an unsecured phone and holding sensitive conferences in front of the public.
  • He filled the White House press corps with people so-called reporters well known for publishing truly “fake news,” including the newest addition of Lucian Wintrich, who started his blog two months ago. Wintrich gained fame with his “Twinks4Trump,” photographs of mostly shirtless gay young men wearing DDT’s red Make America Great Again baseball caps. Headlines at his new Gateway Pundit include “OMG! More Liberal #FakeNews – Claim of Trump Anti-LGBT Bill Is Complete Crap.” Conservative blogger Erick Ericsson called Gateway Pundit a “cesspool of fake news” and said that inviting Wintrich to press briefings does “a great disservice” to the American people. It represents DDT’s new “journalism.”
  • He has a budget draft hit list of programs that includes the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Legal Services Corporation (civil-court legal aid program), AmeriCorps, the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, and the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy. (His projected growth is also about 3.5 percent every year after the Federal Reserve and the Congressional Budget office project growth at 2 percent.)
  • He played a lot of golf—at least six times in his first month although he tries to hide his games because he incessantly criticized President Obama, who averaged under 40 rounds of golf a year throughout his two terms. During his campaign, DDT told audiences that he wouldn’t have any time to play golf because he would be working for the people.
  • He brought together people in the United States in gigantic protest actions.

(I’m sure I’m missing many more “accomplishments” during DDT’s first month.)

What’s missing:

  • Appointments for 515 positions out of 549 that need to be confirmed by the Senate.
  • Anything about infrastructure improvements, health care reform, jobs. or tax reform.
  • Help for people.
  • Leadership.

Another Do-Nothing Congress:  Republican legislators always promise that all they need to stop gridlock is to have a majority in Congress, but all they have done thus far is overturn a few Obama-era resolutions that benefited the people in the country and confirmed some racist billionaires for DDT’s cabinet. DDT promised action the first day, but House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) has a 200-day agenda for only health care and tax reform. That takes Congress close to the fall season of the first year to take action.

Meanwhile Ryan’s plan to put tariffs on imports has caused savvy billionaire Warren Buffet to dispose of 90 percent of his Walmart stock. The Senate is not on board, and even DDT calls it too complex. At the same time, Buffet is putting his money into Boeing that is expanding its sales of military aircraft to India—perhaps up to $12 billion in sales.

Never Mind What DDT Says: The job of DDT’s officials at this time is to tell the world that the United States won’t do what DDT says. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced in Baghdad that “we’re not in Iraq to seize anybody’s oil” after DDT said on his first full day that the U.S. might “have another chance” to keep the oil. Nikki Haley, DDT’s ambassador to the United Nations, insisted, “We absolutely support a two-state solution.” A bipartisan group of senators told Australian officials to ignore DDT’s rejection of the country. Jon Finer described the situation as “an unprecedented degree of policy incoherence on virtually every major issue the country faces.”

VP Mike Pence, who claimed he was speaking on behalf of DDT to NATO, swore that the U.S. is committed to European security and the transatlantic partnership. He also assured attendees at a news conference that both he and Trump “support a free and independent press” the day after DDT called the news media the “enemy of the American people.” As Eugene Robinson said, “They’re sweeping as fast as they can,” referring to cleaning up after elephants in a circus parade.

The uniting of people in the U.S. is reminiscent of 2010 when conservative leadership, including Dick Armey, guided the Tea Party into protesting the Affordable Care Act and gained a majority in the U.S. House. Because of these tactics, Republicans think that progressive protesters are being paid, but the marches and other protests against conservative policy is truly grassroots. Much of the organization of groups started after the posting of the Indivisible Guide, a civic engagement manual written by former congressional staffers. Within a few weeks of the guide’s posting on the internet, over a million copies had been downloaded, and over 6,000 protest groups had been formed.

posterPeople all over the nation are demanding that congressional legislators represent them instead of the top one percent. The Senate received an average of 1.5 million telephone calls each day in the week after the inauguration—the heaviest in history. The protests have so frightened legislators that they have largely stopped having town hall meetings. From 212 meetings during the same time last year, the number has dropped to 88, and one person alone is having 35 of those. In my state of Oregon, one senator alone is having seven town hall meetings this week, and my representative is having two, showing that vast majority of the 535 members of Congress are hiding from their constituents.

Protesters are planning a number of marches during the next few months. This past weekend, people commemorated Presidents’ Day with “Not My President” marches. Three marches are scheduled for April: Tax Day March, demanding that DDT release his tax returns (April 15); Science (April 22); and Climate (April 29). These are followed by the Immigrants March on May 6 and National Pride March on June 11. These are marches of the people, by the people, and for the people–not made up of paid protesters.

February 12, 2017

People Use Religion to Disrespect Women’s Rights

Yesterday’s marches against Planned Parenthood again ignored that federal money doesn’t go to abortions whereas the government spends hundreds of billions of dollars to kill people around the world—many of them innocent—and conservatives are determined to kill people through air and water pollution. These pro-life people are willing to kill anyone except what they consider the “unborn” and abuse children after they are born. Yet they use the bible as their justification for a woman’s choice regarding her own body because conservatives believe women aren’t smart enough to make the right choice for themselves.

A few facts from their bible:

God defined a potion for abortion potion: “May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.”—Numbers 5:22-27

God fines the killing of a fetus but puts to death the person killing a woman: “And if men strive together, and hurt a pregnant woman, so that her fruit [children] come out, and yet no harm follows; the one who hit her shall surely be fined, according as the woman’s husband shall impose upon him; and he shall pay a fine as the judges determine. But if any harm follows, then you shall pay life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth ….” —Exodus 21:22-23

God defines a person through the ability to breathe: “Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” – Genesis 2:7

The bible’s opinion of women:

A wife is man’s property: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife … or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” —Exodus 20:17

Girl babies are twice as unclean as boys: ‘If a woman has conceived, and borne a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days …. But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks. —Leviticus 12:1-8

Women should keep silent:  “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.” —1 Cor. 14:34

A raped daughter must be sold to her rapist: ““If a man meets a virgin who is not betrothed, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are found, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the father of the young woman fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her all his days.” —Deut. 22:28-29

Women must cover their hair—like the Muslim hijab: “For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.” —I Cor. 11:6

Women should be forced to have children: “Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.”—1 Tim. 2:15

Women make men dirty: “[Those redeemed from the earth] are those who did not defile themselves with women.” —Revelation 14:4

Opinions from revered church leaders:

“Woman is a temple built over a sewer.” –Tertullian, “the father of Latin Christianity” (c160-225)

Woman is a misbegotten man and has a faulty and defective nature in comparison to his. Therefore she is unsure in herself. What she cannot get, she seeks to obtain through lying and diabolical deceptions. And so, to put it briefly, one must be on one’s guard with every woman, as if she were a poisonous snake and the horned devil. …” –Saint Albertus Magnus, Dominican theologian, 13th century

“[Women’s] very consciousness of their own nature must evoke feelings of shame.”–Saint Clement of Alexandria, Christian theologian (c150-215)

“The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes.” –Martin Luther, Reformer (1483-1546)

In pain shall you bring forth children, woman, and you shall turn to your husband and he shall rule over you. And do you not know that you are Eve? God’s sentence hangs still over all your sex and His punishment weighs down upon you. You are the devil’s gateway; you are she who first violated the forbidden tree and broke the law of God. … Woman, you are the gate to hell. –Tertullian, “the father of Latin Christianity” (c160-225)

“Even as the church must fear Christ Jesus, so must the wives also fear their husbands. And this inward fear must be shewed by an outward meekness and lowliness in her speeches and carriage to her husband…. For if there be not fear and reverence in the inferior, there can be no sound nor constant honor yielded to the superior.” –John Dod: A Plaine and Familiar Exposition of the Ten Commandements, Puritan guidebook first published in 1603

“A wife is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband, even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ.” – Official Faith and Message Statement of Southern Baptist Convention, Summer 1998, (15.7 million members)

“The Holiness of God is not evidenced in women when they are brash, brassy, boisterous, brazen, head-strong, strong-willed, loud-mouthed, overly-talkative, having to have the last word, challenging, controlling, manipulative, critical, conceited, arrogant, aggressive, assertive, strident, interruptive, undisciplined, insubordinate, disruptive, dominating, domineering, or clamoring for power. Rather, women accept God’s holy order and character by being humbly and unobtrusively respectful and receptive in functional subordination to God, church leadership, and husbands.” –James Fowler: Women in the Church, 1999.

People who use the bible—“God’s word”—to justify their treatment of people, including eliminating reproductive rights for women,  often also say that no one should take the words in the bible literally. According to Matthew 13:13:

“Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.”

People who try to limit others by quoting the bible should follow their own advice and not bully others with their personal religion.

Fortunately, many people in the United States agree with this position. Counter-protests yesterday were much larger than the anti-abortion activists outside Planned Parenthood to cut off funds for Planned Parenthood. Those attending the rallies talked about how much Planned Parenthood does for health—birth control, cancer screenings, testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, counseling, etc. Medicaid funds pay for these health services for both men and women. Last month, Donald Trump banned U.S. funding to any international group that even provides information about abortions. Cutting funds for Planned Parenthood would cause 400,000 women to lose access to health care.

Oregon senators, in support of women, are working on a bill to require Oregon insurance companies to cover reproductive health care services. The Reproductive Health Equity Act, HB 2232, would cover all services under the current Affordable Care Act as well as abortion. The bill goes to the House first to address questions and clarify language. At this time, the measure has an exemption that protects religious beliefs.

Illinois advocates are supporting HB 40 to guarantee reproductive care services, including abortion, for all enrolled in Medicaid, something available only in 17 other states.

New Mexico lawmakers have introduced three bills to improve reproductive health access and rights: preserve birth control access, allow women to obtain one year of contraceptive medication at a time, penalize medical providers who refuse reproductive health services, and mandate “reasonable accommodations: for pregnant women in the workplace. Hospitals would not be permitted to “limit or otherwise interfere” with a doctor’s “independent professional judgment” in providing reproductive health information, referrals, and procedures “where a failure to provide” them “would violate the medical standard of care owed to the patient.”

New York state Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed an amendment to the state constitution that protects abortion rights as outlined in Roe v. Wade.

The St. Louis Board of Aldermen has approved a bill prohibiting discrimination based on reproductive decisions or pregnancy with a limited exemption for religious institutions but not for business owners who use religion to object.

Respect for women means respecting our rights–all of them.

December 5, 2016

Portland Women March against Hate

Filed under: Elections — trp2011 @ 12:10 PM
Tags: , , ,

Over 1,000 people participated in the mile-long Portland Women March against Hate last Saturday, that included live music and speeches. The signs carried by marchers showed their activism as participants addressed issues such as Portland remaining a sanctuary city and gun safety laws. The group gathered in protest of “misogyny, misogynoir, racism, xenophobia, transmisogyny, and transphobia.” Barbara Chapnick said, “My message is for Tom Price. It’s my body, my choice and get out of my vagina.”

As with any peaceful protest, the media gave the march short shrift; the Oregonian buried the event on p. 13. Fortunately, my photographer friend Ann Hubard sent me the following pictures.

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January 7, 2015

Call Out Police Who Fail to ‘Protect and Serve’

Grand juries failed to indict police at least three times during the past few months for suspect shootings, one of the victims holding a piece of Walmart merchandise and the other standing on a sidewalk. In the seven years between 2004 and 2011, charges were filed in only 41 cases of at least 2718 homicides committee by police officers. Conviction rates for cases that go to trial are only half than for all other people. Police are above the law as shown by the recent Supreme Court ruling in Heinen v. North Carolina that police can break the law with impunity if they claim ignorance.

Yet these rights are not enough for the police. Chuck Canterbury, president of the National Fraternal Order of Police, has asked for the addition of law enforcement to federal hate crime laws. A mentally disturbed person killed two NYPD officers, and the head of the city’s Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, Patrick Lynch, blamed Mayor Bill de Blasio and President Obama because they told the public that blacks are not safe with all police officers. There are statistics to prove this, but Lynch accused de Blasio of having “blood on his hands.”

Canterbury wants hate crimes based on occupation. He ignored the concept that hate crimes are against people for innate characteristics—sex, race, disability, etc.–except for religion.

In juvenile fashion, officers turned their back on the mayor at the funerals of both murdered police officers and held a work slowdown. As mayor, de Blasio is the boss of NYPD officers, but some misguided cadets booed him when he spoke at their graduation ceremony. Canterbury and Lynch actually want federal laws putting police officers above criticism. By their behavior, some police officers indicate that they consider themselves entitled to any behavior that they choose, arrogantly blaming the civilian for any problems. To these officers, their badge and gun give them any rights, including beating and killing people for no offense.

Today the New York Times published a scathing editorial on NYPD officers’ egregious behavior:

Mayor Bill de Blasio has been in office barely a year, and already forces of entropy are roaming the streets, turning their backs on the law, defying civil authority and trying to unravel the social fabric.

No, not squeegee-men or turnstile-jumpers. We’re talking about the cops.

For the second straight week, police officers across the city have all but stopped writing tickets and severely cut down the number of arrests. The Times reported that in the week ending Sunday, only 347 criminal summonses were issued citywide, down from 4,077 over the same period last year. Parking and traffic tickets were down by more than 90 percent. In Coney Island, ticketing and summonses fell to zero.

The city has been placed in an absurd position, with its police commissioner, William Bratton—a pioneer of “broken windows” policing who has just written a long, impassioned defense of that strategy as an essential crime-fighting tool—leading a force that is refusing to carry it out.

Police union officials deny responsibility for the mass inaction. But Edward Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, said officers had talked among themselves and “it became contagious,” apparently like the flu.

Call this what it is: a reckless, coordinated escalation of a war between the police unions and Mr. de Blasio and a hijacking of law-enforcement policy by those who do not set law-enforcement policy. This deplorable gesture is bound to increase tension in a city already rattled over the killing by the police of an unarmed man, Eric Garner, last summer, the executions of two officers in Brooklyn last month, and the shootings on Monday of two plainclothes officers in the Bronx.

Mr. Bratton spoke delicately at a news conference on Monday. He said there could be other explanations, like officers being too busy handling police-reform demonstrations and attending funerals. He promised to investigate—and to “deal with it very appropriately, if we have to.”

Mr. de Blasio’s critics foretold doom when he was elected a year ago. They said graffiti, muggings and other crime would rush back with a vengeance. They were dead wrong — crime rates continued to decline to historic lows in 2014 — but now it seems the cops are trying to help prove them right.

The madness has to stop. The problem is not that a two-week suspension of “broken windows” policing is going to unleash chaos in the city. The problem is that cops who refuse to do their jobs and revel in showing contempt to their civilian leaders are damaging the social order all by themselves.

Mr. de Blasio, who has been cautious since the shootings, found his voice on Monday, saying for the first time that the police officers’ protests of turning their backs at the slain officers’ funerals had been disrespectful to the families of the dead. He was right, but he needs to do more.

He should appeal directly to the public and say plainly that the police are trying to extort him and the city he leads.

If the Police Department’s current commanders cannot get the cops to do their jobs, Mr. de Blasio should consider replacing them. He should invite the Justice Department to determine if the police are guilty of civil rights violations in withdrawing policing from minority communities. He should remind the police that they are public employees, under oath to uphold city and state laws.

If Mr. de Blasio’s critics are right and the city is coming unglued, it is not because of what he has done. He was elected by an overwhelming vote, because he promised action on police reform, starting with the end of stop-and-frisk tactics that corralled so many innocent New Yorkers into the criminal-justice system. The city got the mayor it wanted—and then, because of Mr. de Blasio, it got Mr. Bratton.

Mr. Bratton’s faith in “broken windows” needs rethinking. But nothing will be fixed as long as police officers are refusing to do their jobs.

A video emerged this week of a New York cop, apparently with nothing better to do, horsing around on the hood of a squad car, falling off and hitting his head. It would be hard to invent a more fitting image of the ridiculous—and dangerous—place this atmosphere of sullen insubordination has taken us.

Hugh Sansom commented:

“In October, 2011, the Bronx DA indicted 11 police officers for fixing tickets on behalf of family and friends. PBA members and Patrick Lynch rallied in support of these cop-lawbreakers. As NYC news organizations reported then they jeered at the DA. Some tried to intimidate cameramen. Many held signs saying that fixing tickets was part of the ‘NYPD culture.’ “

Of the 25 black police officers, both past and present, interviewed about being racially profiled, all by one said that it had happened to them. One third of those officers said that they complained to supervisors, and all except one “either dismissed the complaints or retaliated against them by denying them overtime, choice assignments, or promotions,” according to a story in the City Journal. 

Since NYPD officers started pouting, tickets and summonses for minor offenses shrank by 94 percent and overall arrests went down by 66 percent. A major problem from these actions is that police budgets will suffer from lack of fines that make up for funding shortfalls. On the other hand, city residents, particularly the targeted low-income people, will save money.

Last October, for example, a small group of black teenagers were told to leave a predominantly white neighborhood. An officer trailed them in his squad car and then shouted in his megaphone to “get out of the neighborhood.” A citizen questioned the action at a community meeting. The officer’s commanding officer, Captain Frank DiGiacomo, knew nothing about the event but said that his officer was probably trying to prevent crime. He said:

“Most of the crimes that happen in our command are from outside people committing the crimes. If [teens] are not playing basketball, you’re not playing soccer, you’re not doing something productive in the neighborhood, I can see [officers] moving them.”

The police no doubt assumed that the youth were “outside people” because they weren’t white.

Over a half century ago, African-American author James Baldwin, who grew up in New York, wrote:

“One day, to everyone’s astonishment, someone drops a match in the powder keg and everything blows up. Before the dust has settled or the blood congealed, editorials, speeches, and civil-rights commissions are loud in the land, demanding to know what happened. What happened is that Negroes want to be treated like men.”

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, son and grandson of police officers, wrote:

“Those who are trying to connect the murders of the officers with the thousands of articulate and peaceful protestors across America are being deliberately misleading in a cynical and selfish effort to turn public sentiment against the protestors…. They hope to misdirect public attention and emotion in order to stop the protests and the progressive changes that have already resulted. Shaming and blaming is a lot easier than addressing legitimate claims.”

More people need to call out the police officers who fail the people they are hired “to protect and serve.”

December 29, 2014

Conservatives Lay Blame for Murders of NYPD Officers

Filed under: racism — trp2011 @ 7:46 PM
Tags: , , , ,

A bomb at a peaceful workers’ rally at Haymarket Square in Chicago in 1886 discredited a movement against police killings of worker protesters who fought for the eight-hour day. Now conservatives are using the killings of two New York police officers for the same purpose.

For the past five months, protesters have marched throughout the United States in opposition to police killings and the judicial exoneration of law enforcement officers who killed blacks, despite the insignificant or nonexistent offences such as jaywalking, selling cigarettes, or trying to buy an air rifle in a Walmart. Nine days ago, a mentally ill career criminal killed his girlfriend before traveling to New York and killing two police officers while they sat in a patrol car. He had no connections with either New York or the protest movement, but conservatives used this tragedy to blame protesters and their supporters.

Pundits Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, and Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association chief Patrick Lynch are a very few of those who decided to blame NY Mayor Bill de Blasio, activist Al Sharpton, and President Obama because of their statements that young black men may be at danger from law enforcement. There is strong support for these men to talk about the dangers of being a black man in the United States. A black man in his early twenties is 21 more times more likely to be killed by the police than a white male of the same age.

Not all police officers agree with the conservative pundits and politicians who blame progressives for the killing of these two police officers. Adhyl Polanco, a nine-year veteran officer of the NYPD, said that his fellow officers turning their backs on de Blasio was “absolutely wrong.” Polanco said, “This police department has a culture that is going to make whoever tried to change that culture and life impossible, including the mayor.”

Regarding de Blasio’s statement that he had to talk to his mixed-race son about the dangers he faces because of his racial background:

“How can a parent—how can a parent who has a black child, how can a parent that have seen millions of kids being stopped by stop-and-frisk—and you know the statistics of that—how can the parents of kids and see black kids get killed by police over and over, how can parents that see kids being summoned illegally, being arrested in their own building for trespassing, and being the treatment that they deserve from—they get from the police department—not from all officers, because not all officers are the same—how can you not responsibly to have that conversation with your son? You have to.”

According to Polanco, white police officers don’t need to have the same conversation with their white children.

The city’s police commissioner, Bill Bratton, agreed with the criticism, saying that it was “very inappropriate” for the police not to face de Blasio while he was eulogizing Rafael Ramos at his funeral. He said the police rancor toward de Blasio reflects broader conflicts over the union contract and other issues.

Conservative police hate de Blasio for the same reason that conservatives hate President Obama: their lack of authoritarianism. Both have tried to be inclusive in their administrations, and both received ridicule for this practice. Before Giuliani denigrated de Blasio for his understanding of protesters, he blasted the president for not being like Russia’s Vladimir Putin. De Blasio wants a police force that “protects and serves,” rather than one who instantly brings violence and death to the people who pay their salaries.

Giuliani is a leader of the party that relies on white voters. Without the constituents among minorities—people of color, women, LGBT, etc.—the GOP cannot afford to lose whites as well. Giuliani says, “We’ve had four months of propaganda starting with the president that everybody should hate the police,” and he means, “Hate the Democrats because they support blacks.” Many of Giuliani’s listeners ignore the fact that he is wrong about “the propaganda.” Politifact rated Giuliani’s comments as “pants on fire,” and the Washington Post gave Giuliani four (out of possible four) Pinocchios.

Giuliani wasn’t alone in his claims: former Rep. Joe Walsh accused Obama of having “blood on his hands,” and Erick Erickson said the president has “created a situation where Americans cheer police officers being gunned down.” Rush Limbaugh again raised the specter of race war, using rhetoric reminiscent of the 18th century that encouraged poor whites to join the slave owners because black slaves might revolt against all whites. Then and now, racists are painting blacks as bloodthirsty savages. No one in the protest movement has called for killing police officers despite Baltimore Fox Affiliate Fox 45’s cutting a protesters’ chant and changing “killer cop” into “kill a cop.”

After an investigation, federal government may indict police officers through a little known law. Department of Justice and FBI have for weeks been examining the deaths of Michael Brown, Eric Garner, John Crawford III, and Dontre Hamilton, all killed by police officers but not indicted through grand juries.

“Color of law” declares that anyone deprived of

“any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States … on account of such person being an alien, or by reason of his color, or race, than are prescribed for the punishment of citizens, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if bodily injury results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include the use, attempted use, or threatened use of a dangerous weapon, explosives, or fire, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, shall be fined under this title, or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.”

This law was used to prosecute five New Orleans police officers over the shooting of six unarmed people on Danziger Bridge after the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, two of whom died. The officers were convicted, but a federal judge overturned the conviction and ordered a retrial. The officers are still in prison awaiting the trial. The LAPD officers who beat Rodney King were acquitted on state charges but later convicted for violating his 14th Amendment due-process rights.

If Giuliani and other people blame progressives for the deaths of the police officers, they must also blame conservatives who spew hateful invective. After Bill O’Reilly’s 28 episodes about “Tiller the Baby Killer,” activist Scott Roeder killed the Wichita abortion provider George Tiller while he was in church. After anti-government hysteria, Timothy McVeigh bombed a federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people and injuring over 600. Fox network preaches hatred of Islam before people bomb an Islamic Center in Joplin (MO) and  Wade Michael Page kills four and wounds another six at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. NRA-lovers kill 28 in Newtown and 12 in Aurora (CO) while wounding another 70. After anti-IRS paranoia, Andrew Joseph Stack crashed a private plane into an IRS building in Austin (TX) and killed two people. Anti-LGBT activism leads to killing and beating thousands of suspected LGBT people. Sean Hannity supported Cliven Bundy’s “range war” against the BLM before his supporters Jerad and Amanda Miller killed five people in Las Vegas, including two police officers.

Because no official records of police killings exist, Congress voted to re-establish a federal database for all people in the U.S. killed in law enforcement detention or custody. Past efforts to collect information have not been successful, but states that fail to report the data can lose up to 10 percent of their federal law enforcement grants. The reports must include gender, race, and age. Perhaps the country will get a picture of who the police are killing. A follow-up to that should be a record of everyone who is killed in the United States through violence.

December 24, 2014

Thank you, Santa!

Filed under: Environment — trp2011 @ 3:55 PM
Tags: , , , , ,

This week Santa was joined by Mrs. Claus and seven elves in an environmental protest following nine weeks of protesting that saw 170 arrests. Monday’s arrests followed 28 arrests a week ago led by many prominent local musicians the day after 41 arrests led by local teachers. Crestwood Mainstream, a Texas fracking company, wants to dump two billion cubic feet of explosive methane gas in salt mines near the shores of Seneca Lake in upstate New York. The New York State DEC temporarily halted plans to stockpile propane and butane (LPG) due to ongoing concerns for safety, health and the environment, but the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) gave approval for the storage despite geological instabilities, fault lines, possible salinization of the lake, and public health concerns. [Photo credit, We Are Seneca Lake.]

santaarrested1

The unlined salt caverns, formed by decades of salt mining, date back to the Erie Canal days of New York’s history and are not designed to serve as vessels for highly pressurized, explosive gases. FERC gave approval for storage in a cavern that has had a history of instability, including a collapsed roof. Repressurizing the cavern with compressed gas can force brine or methane through cracks and fissures.

Salt caverns are more prone to catastrophic accidents than the other more common types of underground storage for natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas. Eighteen instances of catastrophic failure of underground gas storage facilities, all in salt cavern facilities, have occurred since 1972. Several have included explosions with fire and death as well as evaluations of entire towns. A 2001 explosion in Kansas came from gas migrating seven miles to Hutchinson where the methane rose to the surface in abandoned brine wells. The explosion killed two people, destroyed buildings, and required the evaluation of residents.

In trying to justify their claim that storing methane in the salt caverns was not a serious problem, Crestwood used the number of catastrophic occurrences in all types of gas storage facilities, not just salt caverns. Although a small percentage of the gas storage facilities, they account for all the catastrophic incidents. The safety of highly pressurized natural gas stored in a salt cavern beneath the bank of a large lake that serves as a drinking water source has never been evaluated. Seneca Lake is a drinking water source for 100,000 people, and salt contamination cannot be remediated. Last summer Crestwood Midstream was at fault in a million-gallon spill of toxic fracking waste into a drinking water reservoir in tribal land in North Dakota. The accident killed vegetation, poisoned the soil, and threatened Lake Sakakawea.

The area near the proposed storage is a renowned part of New York’s grape and wine industry that annually contributes $4.8 billion to the state’s economy. The Finger Lakes area was also named the #1 Lake Vacation in the world last year. Over 20 million people visit the area each year.

Among those opposing Crestwood’s actions are more than 200 businesses, more than 60 wineries, 11 municipalities (including neighboring Watkins Glen), and thousands and thousands of residents in the Finger Lakes region who are concerned about the threat it poses to human health, drinking water and the local economy, including the tourism industry.

Santa, aka Stefan Senders, explained his participation in the protests by saying, “The North Pole is melting fast due to climate change and I felt we should throw our considerable weight behind this nice bunch of folks called “We Are Seneca Lake.’ “

Sandra Steingraber, a biologist, further explained:

“As a greenhouse gas, methane is carbon dioxide’s younger and more dangerous brother. Methane is eighty-six times more powerful at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. Methane will inevitably leak from this facility as well as the surrounding pipeline infrastructure.”

santaarrested2 When he tried to block the gates of the facility, Santa and his party were charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct in front of children. As he was hauled off in handcuffs, he called out to them, “Don’t worry, boys and girls, I’ll be out of jail in time to deliver your presents.” Santa is already giving children their presents—trying to save the planet.

August 14, 2014

Militarization, War Zone in Ferguson Slows Down

There’s a new sheriff in Ferguson after the problems escalated last night into more assault and arrests. This afternoon, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon replaced the St. Louis County police with state highway patrol led by Capt. Ron Johnson. Tonight, instead of gassing the demonstrators, the police march with the protesters. When a protester needed assistance, a patrolman got out of his car with his hands up so that he could provide assistance.

President Obama said today that he has called on the Department of Justice and the FBI to investigate what led up to the shooting of the unarmed teen. He also criticized police “excessive force”:

“There’s also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests or to throw protesters in jail for lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights. And here in the United States of America police should not be bullying or arresting journalists who are just trying to do their jobs and report to the American people what they see on the ground. Put simply, we all need to hold ourselves to a high standard, particularly those of us in positions of authority.”

antonio frenchThe openness on the streets tonight is a 180-degree turn from last night when police turned on citizens such as  St. Louis Alderman Antonio French. He was arrested last night in Ferguson because, as a police officer said, he “didn’t listen.” He had been videotaping events in the town and got in his car with the windows rolled up after police threw tear gas canisters. He was released this morning.  One of French’s posts included the following photo with the statement: “It’s important for people to understand that the man is this photo was throwing it BACK at police who shot it at him.” Other media outlets using this photo failed to print information behind the picture.

View image on Twitter

Police also attacked Al-Jazeera America TV crews with tear gas. Like many other civilians in the city, they were shot with rubber bullets. After the reporters fled, police took down the light kit and pointed their camera at the ground.

al-jazeera reporters

One response to the terrifying situation in Ferguson:

 “Horrifying. Like a car wreck I can’t stop watching. Others have commented it looks like Kent State and the 60s civil rights marches. Exactly. Rep John Lewis was on MSNBC this morning to discuss. Most enraging for me is the attack on the press trying to cover the police behavior. How much worse would it be if the press is excluded? Police ordered them to stop filming. Arrested reporters from Huff Post and the Washington Post in McDonalds recharging their batteries and using their laptops. Attacked Al Jazeera reporters in their car on a quiet side street. Film footage of the police handling Al Jazeera equipment after reporters fled; pointing cameras at the ground and shutting off lights etc. Infuriating.

“Goldie Taylor was interviewed on MSNBC. She is a former Marine and went to high school in Ferguson. She said this treatment of AA citizens has been going on for generations there. Another AA attorney interviewed for a job in the DA’s office. They asked her if she’d be ok working in an office where the N word was regularly used. A picture of this place is starting to emerge to the rest of the nation. Apartheid in America.”

Also horrifying is the conservative response about Ferguson.  Asked yesterday by former Rep. J.D. Hayworth (R-AZ) on Newmax TV if the Congressional Black Caucus should look into the events in the St. Louis suburb after a police officer killed a black teenager, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) said that action wasn’t necessary:

“This idea of no racial profiling. I’ve seen the video. It looks to me like you don’t need to bother with that particular factor because they all appear to be of a single origin, I should say, a continental origin might be the way to phrase that.”

In other words, there’s no problem because they’re all black. King has been infamous for several years because of his prejudice against people of color, most recently at an Iowa fundraiser. He was co-architect with Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) for the House’s recent border bill.

Todd Starnes (Fox network) is incensed because President Obama sent condolences to the family of the murdered teenager but not to the police officer who killed him.

Joe Scarborough, host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe Show, accused the assaulted and arrested reporters of merely trying to get on television. Fortunately, Scarborough, possibly on the short list for replacing David Gregory on Meet the Press, didn’t get that position. NBC announced today that Chuck Todd would be taking over Gregory’s position on the talk show. A response to Scarborough from one of the maligned reporters, Wesley Lowery, is here.

The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 kept military forces from being deployed in civilian neighborhoods for law enforcement, but the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act made all of the United States a part of the “War on Terror.” Posse Comitatus has been eliminated while anyone deemed a potential terrorist can be assigned to indefinite detention in a military facility.

The conservatives who believe that the police are in the right should remember the show-down at Cliven Bundy’s ranch. White people who pointed guns at federal officials were heroes, patriots, freedom lovers, law-abiding citizens, defenders of the constitution, rebels against tyrannical government forces, etc. Almost none of the protesters in Ferguson is armed, but they are herded like animals by SWAT teams in armor who have sniper rifles and tanks. That’s racism.

Ferguson isn’t unique in blatant racism. Two days after Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, a security guard pepper-sprayed Raymond Wilford, a black man walking by a pro-Palestinian protest in Seattle. Wilford was walking by the demonstration when a shirtless white man, who had been screaming terms such as “towelhead” and “sand n*gger” at the demonstrators, started to attack the black man. The guard walked past the aggressive white man to spray Wilford while protesters kept saying, “You Maced the wrong guy!” Wilford was detained after a Seattle police officer arrived, and the white man walked away.

Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) announced that he plans legislation to slow down the militarization of local police. The Stop Militarizing Law Enforcement Act would rein in a Defense Department program that provides Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, M16 assault rifles, and other surplus military equipment to local law enforcement, free of charge. Other federal legislators, including Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Rand Paul (R-KY), agree with the need to demilitarize the police.

Thousands of people across the United States are protesting police actions in Ferguson. We need to support the legislators who will try to return democracy to the nation.

June 8, 2013

June Brings Good News

Amidst recent scandals and outrage of IRS and spying issues are stories that give hope for the future. One of these is the growth of North Carolina’s “Moral Monday” demonstrations against GOP assaults on women’s reproductive rights, public education, care for the poor and mentally ill, and voting rights. Rev. William Barber of the state NAACP spoke to a crowd, objecting to lawmakers’ cutting 500,000 people from the Medicaid rolls, causing one million working poor families to lose their earned income tax credit “so that 23 wealthy people get a tax cut,” and giving $100 million in public money to private schools while cutting corporate tax rates. Two years ago, the Tea Party drove the election, giving both legislative chambers to Republicans for the first time since Reconstruction almost 150 years ago.

 9847-moral-mondays-060313

As Barber talked, two prison buses waited to take the people to jail. The 151 people arrested were an increase from the 17 five weeks earlier. Many of them are the elderly, disabled, clergy, professionals–people who traditionally seen as the establishment. Also parked outside the crowd are four vans from Baptist churches filled with bottled water, bag lunches, and rain ponchos, not really menacing.

President Obama may have held his own mini-protest last week when he appointed U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice as his national security adviser. Last fall, Republican legislators attacked Rice so viciously after she delivered the talking points given her by the FBI regarding the four deaths in Benghazi that she declined to be a nominee for Secretary of State. The Senate would have to approve that nomination, but this position requires no Congressional approval. 

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) tweeted that he would “make every effort to work w/her on imp’t issues.” Earlier he accused her of giving “false information concerning how this tragedy happened” and of being unfit for high office, asking for her resignation because of her “bad intelligence.” Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) had described Rice as “somebody who’s had every drop of Kool-Aid” and sounds “like she’d be a great head of the Democratic National Committee.” After her new appointment, he said, “I had a very good conversation with Ambassador Susan Rice to let her know I look forward to working with her on shaping important foreign policy and national security issues as she serves in her new role.”

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) stands his ground. “I really question the president’s judgment in promoting someone who was complicit in misleading the American public,” Paul said. All the senators might want to play nice with Susan Rice: her new position makes her more powerful than the Secretary of State, the office that they kept her from having.

The president—and small businesses in California—got some good news about Obamacare. Big health insurers Anthem and Blue Cross/Blue Shield were told to refund over $36 million in overcharges to these small businesses, and that’s just one state. While conservatives claim to love “Main Street, USA,” they prefer to let huge corporations rob them. Obamacare has already saved $147 million for newly insured young adults and another $1.1 billion for 12.8 million people because of the provision that insurance companies must pay a minimum of 80 percent of premiums for real medical care. This is the law that GOP House members have voted 37 times to overturn.

Swiffer-rosie-the-riveter-e1370362475592A bad news story turned into good news within less than a week when Swiffer removed Rosie the Riveter from its advertising. During World War II, the picture of Rosie became a lasting feminist icon, showing that women could get out of the kitchen. Swiffer put her back in when they used the image to promote its new mopping products. 

 

 

120606_sheldon_adelson_ap_605Casino mogul and billionaire Sheldon Adelson, 79, may have less clout in the next presidential election. After dropping millions of dollars on Newt Gingrich’s campaign and denigrating Mitt Romney, he changed the recipient of more millions after Romney was chosen for the GOP candidate. With a net worth of $26.5 billion, Adelson and his wife gave almost $150 million to GOP superPACs and “nonprofit” groups, legal because of Citizens United.

Rumors of his fraudulent actions swirled around for several years; now a grand jury in Los Angeles is probing an alleged federal money-laundering scheme of his Nevada-based casinos. Adelson may not be a subject of the inquiry, but he’s in trouble for violations of an anti-bribery statute involving his four casinos in Macau, the only place in China with legalized casino gambling. A Las Vegas jury has ruled that Adelson’s casino, the Sands, owes Richard Suen $70 million for lobbying help to open its first Macau casino almost a decade ago. And PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting firm that had represented the Sands for a quarter-century, suddenly resigned probably because of legal and regulatory concerns. [AP photo]

Rumors about Texas turning politically purple, if not downright blue, are also swirling around, and a Tea Party member is helping. After Democrats launched Battleground Texas, state GOP leaders opened fire against the opposition. State Attorney General Greg Abbott called the Democratic campaign “an assault far more dangerous than what the leader of North Korea threatened when he said he was going to add Austin, Texas, as one of the recipients of his nuclear weapons.”

The sabotage from the conservatives came when Ken Emanuelson said, “I’m going to be real honest with you; the Republican Party doesn’t want black people to vote if they’re going to vote 9-to-1 for Democrats.” He evidently didn’t get the memo on GOP minority outreach. Out of a population of 26 million, Texas has a white population of only 44 percent. Although 70 percent of Hispanics and 90+ percent of blacks voted for President Obama, he still lost the vote because of the low minority voter registration and turnout. Emanuelson could help change that.

Another GOP dinosaur problem comes from the Heritage Foundation. Known as a conservative think tank, the organization has begun to take on the personality of its new leader, rabidly right Jim DeMint who was formerly a senator from South Carolina. Still insisting on the importance of austerity in a crisis—continually debunked within the past year—one of its economists, Salim Furth, claimed that most of Europe isn’t practicing austerity according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

A Senate member explained that Furth’s OECD numbers are actually the opposite of reality, calling the testimony “meretricious,” a polite term for just short of lying. Another notable economist, Nobel Prize-winner Paul Krugman, wondered “whether Heritage may at this point be destroying its own usefulness. Its purpose was never to do real research; it was always a propaganda arm of the movement. But it was supposed to create a plausible illusion of intellectual rigor, good enough to take in gullible journalists.”

Thanks to DeMint, the Heritage Foundation is moving away from research and into, according to DeMint, “good marketing.” Instead of policy, it will focus on “messaging” and “communicating.” Instead of a think tank, the Heritage Foundation will become a message strategist for like-minded politicians. That’s bad news for the GOP because they aren’t able to do their own research.

And thanks to Rachel Maddow, I’ve found the website for marine traffic, fun for me because I live in one of the largest fishing harbors on the West Coast that’s also home to NOAA ships and other research vessels. Maddow has found another use for the website that tracks ships—searching the locations where the Koch brothers are sending their stockpile of petroleum coke to be burned. The article explains her reasons, process, and the end location of a couple of ships, two plants in Nova Scotia.

The best news for parenting gays and lesbians confirms what they already know: these children are not only thriving but also maintaining a higher rate of family cohesion than other families. The Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families is the world’s largest comparison of children raised by same-sex couples and those raised by heterosexual couples. Although researchers found no difference in self-esteem, emotional behavior, and time spent with parents, children with same-sex parents also score higher for overall health. Legislators who prevent adoption by same-sex couples and Supreme Court justices who worry about “the children” might want to take notice. 

At the same time that Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is backing out of immigration reform and the Eagle Forum has called on people to “shoot” Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) for her support of the act, evangelical leaders are now praying for GOP congressmen to back immigration reform and running radio ads, primarily in red states, to support for the act. Maybe they want more people in their congregation: 600,000 Latinos in the United States convert from Catholicism to evangelical Protestantism every year. Or more voters. One-third of registered GOP or leaning-GOP voters are also evangelical Christians. Those in the pews are, however, pushing back. White evangelical Christians are the least likely group to allow legal status to undocumented immigrants. 

The Senate starts debate on the immigration reform bill next week. Let’s see how good the news is then. 

June 1, 2013

TPP Should Terrify Us

The March against Monsanto was huge last Saturday, despite the lack of press about it. And the Moral Monday marches in North Carolina against the extremist actions of far-right conservatives is growing, based on the number of ordinary middle-class people arrested for chanting and singing outside the House and Senate chambers.

The Forward Together Movement started their protests four weeks ago, and within that time over 150 people have been arrested for not dispersing. A tour has also stopped at 25 cities throughout the state to organize opposition to the outrageous legislative agenda. Their complaints are like those in the rest of the states: cuts to unemployment benefits, education spending and education programs; plans to use tax dollars to underwrite private-school education; rejection of federal Medicaid dollars for lower-income people’s health care; plans to expand sales taxes to pay for cuts to the state income taxes; and plans to reduce voting days and require voters to present ID when voting.

The Occupy encampments are coming back. Today Occupy Homecoming re-takes Liberty Plaza (aka Zuccotti Park). For other people who want information about protesting movements, a new website has been designed to connect and build on the current mass popular resistance.

PopularResistance.org provides daily movement news and resources about actions, events, and tools for community organizing. Its goal is to challenge the corporate control of our government, a corrupt economy, and U.S. militarism to put people’s needs and protection of the planet protection before corporate profits. Two examples are these Occucards on Corporate Media and Public Banking. The website shows a strategic framework and links to 200 tactics proven effective through solidarity among movements and weakening the power structure by involving people in the movement.

Building on the March against Monsanto, the first campaign from PopularResistance.org is to stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). This issue is being sold as a “trade” agreement, but it’s really a corporate grab on everything from Internet freedom to banking regulation, worker rights to health care, environmental protection and agriculture to consumer safety.

For three years, business interests such as Monsanto, Wal-Mart, Wall Street banks, pharmaceutical companies, Exxon-Mobil, BP, and nearly 600 other corporate advisors have secretly negotiated to draft the TPP. Because the key word here is “secretly,” the only information comes from leaked documents, but these are scary. Really scary. Even Congress doesn’t know anything about it.

From what people have discovered, the TPP is a very big deal. If the Senate and President Obama agree to TPP, it can override U.S. laws and regulations. NAFTA, China’s entry into the WTO, and other “trade” agreements have caused huge trade deficits while sending jobs, factories, and industries out of the country to give wealth to the top 1 percent of our population. In the 2000s we lost 50,000+ factories and at least 6 million jobs just to China. These agreements are nothing compared to TPP.

If the TPP is passed, it will be almost impossible to rescind. And it will tell Congress and state legislatures what laws and regulations that they can pass or enforce in areas such as patents and copyrights, government procurement, investment and land use, service-sector regulation, food and product safety, corporate competition, labor, and environmental standards. It will also limit government regulation of financial services.

TPP can cause prices, such as those for pharmaceuticals, to go sky high: tariffs and quotas can increase costs by 20 to 30 percent, and patent and copyright protection can raise prices by 2,000 or 20,000 percent above the free market price.

Even the just-signed Korea Free Trade agreement is already hurting our economy by increasing the trade deficit, increasing imports, and decreasing exports. One year into the agreement, U.S. goods exports to Korea have declined by 10 percent ($4.2 billion decrease) while the U.S. trade deficit with Korea has shot up 37 percent. That’s a loss of 12,000 jobs.

Good trade agreements can help the country. The bad trade deals that we’ve made have boosted the trade deficit, unemployment, income and wealth inequality, the loss of factories and industries, the hollowing-out of our middle class, and the domination of our politics by the large corporate interests. Our recent trade agreements have made winners out of Wall Street, the 1-percenters, and giant multinational corporations.

The good news is that protest movements are crossing the nation. Seattle became the seventh U.S. city in which low-paid workers walked out of McDonalds, Wendy’s, and other fast-food restaurants to demand a living wage of $15 per hour; Wal-Mart workers launched their first sustained strike and plan their June 7 Ride for Respect to the annual shareholders meeting; United Students against Sweatshops is organizing at 180 colleges to protest sweat shops, unfair wages, and industrial accidents. Even in Cambodia, thousands of women working in garment factories held a sit-down strike despite police wielding cattle-prod-like electric stun batons.

The Home Defenders League organized a protest last week that began at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. and ended up occupying the Department of Justice. Some spent the nights in tents. Attorney General Eric Holder has said the bankers are “too big to jail,” yet they continue to take homes from people in the United States, sometimes with no justification.  

The proposed TPP can stop laws to help the bottom 99 percent. For example, the Homeowners Bill of Rights passed in Minnesota because of activist pressure, but the TPP could erase this law and others. Banks and mortgage lenders could sue in trade tribunals for lost profits, where the judges will often be corporate lawyers on leave from their jobs.

The “banks too big to jail” will stay big if TPP goes into effect, and top officials can’t be prosecuted for causing disastrous financial losses. The TPP gives banks greater laxity to move money in and out of countries, stops regulation of banks, and allows casino-style high risk investments to continue. Wall Street will use the TPP to weaken the already weak financial regulation of the big banks.

School closings are crossing the nation, and these can be replaced by private corporate schools under TPP which opposes so-called “state-owned enterprises.”  The result is weakened public services such as health care in favor of for-profit corporate interests.

Corporations have filed 450 suits against 89 governments; these corporations have been paid $700 million, about 70 percent of this from challenges to natural resource and environmental policies. For example, if a country—or even a county as one in New Mexico recently did—the companies can sue for exorbitant lost profits. With TPP, environmentalists can’t protest the raping of the land.

More and more places across the country are voting against corporate personhood, for example, 76.6 percent of those in Los Angeles. That city joined 175 others calling for an end of the rule of money. The TPP can stop this opposition to corporate personhood.

With TPP, Monsanto and other corporations selling genetically engineered foods will be in control. Nobody can stop them. And TPP will force other countries to follow in its field testing and lack of labeling to identify GMOs.

People need to force the transparency of TPP negotiations. Last June, 130 members of Congress wrote to U.S. Trade Representative asking for this as well as requesting their consultation with Congressional members. More than 400 organizations have asked Congress to replace the “Fast Track” system that limits Congress’ (democracy’s) ability to get involved in the process, and to call for a new direction for TPP as well as other trade agreements.

TPP needs strong tests and irrevocable language about withdrawing from the agreement if it harms our economy, environment, smaller businesses, tax base, and/or our working people. All future trade deals, including TPP, must include clear and enforceable rules covering currency manipulation and other ways that countries game the system.

Since Citizens United, the misguided Supreme Court decision that declares “corporations are people, my friend,” to quote Mitt Romney, corporations have gone power-hungry crazy. A fine example of this is the incorporated Hobby Lobby Stores, which is fighting for an exemption from giving employees access to the morning-after pill. First, they argue that emergency contraception is abortion because it can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb. The company also opposes coverage for some intrauterine devices.

Second, Hobby’s lawyers argue that the stores are a “a ministry.” They added that the constitutional right to freedom of religion is “not a purely personal right.” According to the lawyer, corporations can have religious beliefs.

The case is in front of eight judges in the 10th Circuit Court in Denver. But if Hobby waits for TPP, they can probably do anything they want.

May 28, 2013

Facebook Guidelines Need to be Changed

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 7:08 PM
Tags: , , , ,

MySpace was a popular social network several years ago, but it was quickly taken over by Facebook and pretty much disappeared. Now, the most popular social network is showing very bad judgment.

Last week, protesters boycotted Facebook advertising because the network permitted images of domestic violence against women at the same time that it banned ads about women’s health. Companies that pulled their advertising include online bank Nationwide UK, Nissan UK, and J Street. Dove, a Unilever brand running a “self-esteem” ad campaign for women, faces pressure on Twitter although Procter & Gamble responded, “We can’t control what content they [our advertising] pops up next to. Obviously it’s a shame that our ad happened to pop up next to it.”

Zappos replied that users upset by an ad appearing next to a date rape image “click the X to delete the ad.” Zipcar is still advertising but “expressed to Facebook the critical need to block this content from appearing.” Audible will also keep its advertising on Facebook:

“Audible does not condone or endorse violence against women,” but it “takes pride in and respects the rules that govern our Facebook community and because of this we do not delete negative posts. However, we must delete, and will continue to delete, any content that contains offensive, graphic images.”

As of this morning, 15 companies have disassociated from Facebook advertising.

A Facebook spokesperson said that content featuring battered women, rape, and violence falls under “poor taste” or “crude attempts at humor, but it does not violate its policies. The network screens anti-Semitic, Islamaphobic, and homophobic hate speech but not images of violence against women. At the same time, Facebook rejected an ad about breast cancer because it showed a woman’s breast.

The ad about breast cancer disputes false claims that abortion causes higher instances of breast cancer. The company argued that the ad violated their guidelines preventing the “advertising [of] adult products or services, including toys, videos, or sexual enhancement products.” The ad linked to a page on the National Cancer Institute website reassuring women that “having an abortion or miscarriage does not increase a woman’s subsequent risk of developing breast cancer.”

Michelle Kinsey Bruns, the online manager of Women’s Media Center and the creator of the ad, said that the rejection shows “the absolute inconsistency that Facebook is willing to apply to a woman’s body as an object of violence, but a woman’s body as a medical object is too scandalous to be approved.”

Also removed from Facebook have been images of “mastectomies, breastfeeding mothers, and other non-sexualized depictions of women’s bodies” and labeling them as “pornographic,” while allowing photographs and forums that make light of abusing and raping women. That content often falls under the “humor” section of Facebook’s content guidelines.

Examples of what Facebook refused to remove—because of the “humor”—are a page titled “Slapping Hookers in the Face with a Shoe” and a picture of a woman lying in a pool of blood with the slogan “I like her for her brains.”

In The Guardian, Emer O’Toole defined the problem:

“The [protest]holds a mirror up to a pervasive element of our culture that many either fail to acknowledge or aggressively insist that feminists laugh off. Officially, violent misogyny is not condoned, and most corporations won’t endanger their brands by being associated with it. Unofficially, violent misogyny is still very much de rigueur. Facebook is a conduit between these official and unofficial attitudes to women and, as such, provides an opportunity for radical intervention.”

Since the protest started a week ago, over 100 women’s movement and social justice organizations have become involved, and people have sent over 60,000 tweets and 5000 emails in an attempt to end gender-based hate speech on Facebook.

The petition that people signed had four demands. The first one reads:

“Make a public statement that rape is never acceptable; that promoting sexual violence and violence against women is repugnant; that Facebook will remove content that advocates rape, sexual violence, and violence against women; and that the terms of service/community standards will be updated to specify this.”

Last month, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was under fire because his political group to back immigration reform switched to spending millions of dollars on ads promoting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.  Activist organizations, including MoveOn.org, the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters and Progressives United, suspended Facebook advertising in protest. Zuckerberg’s PAC, supposedly a progressive organization, also ran ads praising Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) for trying to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) for attacking Obamacare.

According to activist Soraya Chemaly, Facebook plans to change its approach to hate speech. The response from Facebook read:

”We prohibit content deemed to be directly harmful, but allow content that is offensive or controversial. We define harmful content as anything organizing real world violence, theft, or property destruction, or that directly inflicts emotional distress on a specific private individual (e.g. bullying).

“We realize that our defense of freedom of expression should never be interpreted as license to bully, harass, abuse or threaten violence.”

Toward that end, they said that they would review and update their guidelines and update training for teams who evaluate reports of “hateful speech or harmful content on Facebook.” In addition, Facebook  claims it “will increase the accountability of the creators of content that does not qualify as actionable hate speech but is cruel or insensitive by insisting that the authors stand behind the content they create.”

We all need to watch Facebook and see if they live up to their promises.

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