April 2012

California joins the fight against trend of restrictive abortion laws

There is a movement in several states to pass as many laws as possible and make them as restrictive as possible in order to prevent women from being able to get abortions easily.  This type of legislation has been passing left and right in recent years.  Just a few examples of what some states are implementing include requiring ultrasounds or counseling, banning abortions after a certain number of weeks, removing funding from public abortion services such as those provided by Planned Parenthood and closing abortion clinics outright.  Some of these restrictions are so tough that it makes it nearly impossible for women to get the procedure without jumping through a thousand hoops.

Mormons Against Mitt

The likability gap of Mitt and the Mormon Church

Gladys Knight is not voting for Mitt Romney - “I would not vote for him just because he is Mormon. I want to know what he is going to do for the people.  I want to see the compassion.”  In a recent interview with BET the famed singer, herself a Mormon, said she wants to see the GOP front-runner “talk about something else besides the money.” Knight’s ambivalence about Romney is shared by at least a handful of her fellow Latter-day Saints.

Mitt Romney and unemployment

Many of the attacks hurled at the president by the Romney campaign are about jobs.  They are usually about how badly the president has handled the economy.  The Romney campaign has made points 

about the unemployment of women under the Obama administration being the “worst” and youth unemployment being double what it is for other groups, and pinning the blame directly on the Obama administration.

Let’s take a look at these two points and see where those claims actually lead, shall we?

Women have lost a total of 693,000 jobs since the month before President Obama took office.  How he is responsible for January 2009 when he took the oath of office during the third week of that month is beyond me, but let us leave that alone.  He’s made to be responsible for it by the Romney campaign.

Using religion to support gay rights

Normally one of the worst enemies of rights for those in the LGBT community, religion is taking a turn for the better as spiritual leaders in Maine seek to help reverse the 2009 decision which blocked the ability of same-sex couples to get married.  In order to help them win this battle, they are taking a different approach to the situation.  They are using faith-based arguments to help sway other religious voters that gay marriage is not something that is directly opposed by the teachings of the Bible.

Missouri joins the Don’t Say Gay Club

I now officially live in one of the most bigoted states.

For months, I have been ranting and raving about how much that stupid Tennessee “Don’t Say Gay” bill is the most ridiculous waste of taxpayer time and money ever. While political pundits speak about how much we need to stop bullying and teen suicide, bills like this exist to only increase such violence. And now, just when I thought it was evident how ridiculous it is, my own state, Missouri, has jumped on the gay hating bandwagon.

We are now considering HB 2051, a bill that would ban the discussion of sexual orientation in public schools. Not only would this bill help encourage the stereotypes and hatred that lead to the bullying behavior that’s already occurring; it would also ban Gay-Straight Alliances and other organizations within schools that are often the only places that these teens have to turn to. It’s almost as if Missouri politicians want to encourage further bullying and suicides.

Join the Harass the Anti-Choicers Club!

One man has found a way to fittingly pay back the picketers with civility.

The fact that people can stand outside abortion clinics and harass women during the most difficult times of their lives legally has always upset me. Someday I’d like to train to be a clinic escort, though it will have to be once my daughter is older and capable of caring for herself, since it’s unfortunately a dangerous job to do.

One thing I can do right now, however, is join the Voice of Choice movement. Todd Stave is the property owner who happens to have an abortion clinic as one of his properties. He has been used to the public harassment and phone calls that anti-choice protestors have so generously bestowed upon him for years, but when they started showing up at his child’s school with their protest signs, harassing the girl, he knew something had to be done. So he started a phone tree where family and friends could call the people who called him back, giving them a piece of their own medicine.

Average-paid Americans to be left behind

Where’s our doomsday shelter?

Though I have plenty of bad things to say about the Midwest where I live—from the redneckiness to the lack of diversity (or simply the disdain for it) to the general complacency juxtaposed against the conspiracy theorist gun hoarders—it’s actually a wonderful place, too. We have actual trees, for examples, and family farmers are often some of the kindest people you’ll meet. The area is filled with people you could call upon for help, unlike many other areas of the nation where people are too busy having a “Me Day” or whatever. Again, this is just from my personal experience.

Apparently the Midwest is also the place to be during the zombie apocalypse. Right now, there is a confirmed doomsday shelter being built beneath the soil of Kansas—millionaires only, of course—and it’s being labeled as a stack of so-called luxury flats. These apartments are supposedly built to withstand everything from a terrorist attack to solar flares, and only four people have spent millions of dollars on their own emergency flats so far.

Prison reform via kittens

Using animals and compassion to help keep the peace sounds like a good idea to me.

Where I live in the Midwest, people don’t take too kindly to criminals. I’m not making a Western joke here, either; if you serve jail time, people don’t have much respect for you. In fact, I know people whose hobby it is to simply look up outstanding warrants and other legalities online, seeing who they know has records, lawsuits, etc. That’s sort of pathetic to me—do you really have nothing better to do?—but that’s Missourians for you.

Most of the people I know who work at corrections facilities are really good people. And though I don’t know how they are at work, I know that as friends they are loving, caring individuals. We are all different at work, however, and most of these people have made jokes to me about what they’d like to do to inmates (usually involving some sort of harm) or how they wish they had more power, or more restrictions for inmates, and other complaints that bother me. None of them ever say, “I wonder if we treated each other with more love and compassion, if things would be better.”

Minimum wage for all abilities

It’s a great idea, but it’s also complicated.

My aunt has worked at a sheltered workshop for nearly 30 years. It’s right down the road from our house, and her van picks her up and brings her home safely every day, which is automatically deducted from her check. Through the workshop, she gets meaningful work that she takes pride in, activities with her friends that she makes there, as well as activities through a local support group that she has connected to via the workshop.

She is developmentally delayed, so it’s nice to have a place where she can do all of this where we know she is safe, where she will not be required to work for more than six or six and a half hours a day. People with disabilities are often very vulnerable to abuse, even from employers, and it’s important to us that she be somewhere trained to help her in the best way possible. All of this said, my aunt works very hard only to bring home a few dollars, sometimes even less, an hour. She often makes less than $50 a week for what she does—which is akin to sweatshop labor anywhere else.

The Internet News Effect: Turning Voters Into Political Parrots

Eli Pariser and his colleague argue that the search filters for our news are protecting our ideological comfort zone.

There’s no question that we’re experiencing a spike in political and social division in this country, and that as we come closer to the Presidential election, the arguments across the chasm are likely to become louder and more inflammatory. There have also been plenty of claims as to why the national conversation has become to partisan and ideologically charged. Some point to fear over the economy and joblessness, others to government policies under Barack Obama or a new, radical, Republican center. Illegal immigration, reproductive rights, federal spending, and a host of other issues have all served to polarize the political discussion. Eli Pariser, former president of MoveOn.org, and University of Virginia professor Siva Vaidhyanathan, point to another possible culprit: the internet.

When we use a search engine like Google, or log on to a social networking site like Facebook, we are accessing a kind of personalized vault of consumer information. Facebook makes money showing ad banners that have been tailored to our interests based on previous online searches. Similarly, the Google search algorithms attempt to tailor our “hits” to what we’re most likely looking for based on previous activity. For things like car loans, tablecloths, and music downloads, this may be a perfectly harmless way of going about our consumer “research”. However, what happens when you apply the same filters and screening processes to searches for more complex things, like your news?

War in Sudan?

 

The conflict between Sudan and South Sudan has been ongoing for decades.  The tension between these two countries ebbs and flows daily, sometimes leading to dangerous and violent situations for their people.  2005 saw the approval of a peace agreement, the end of a very long civil war and the establishment of South Sudan as its own independent country, though this seems to have had little effect.  The violence continues as each country tries to seize key areas along their shared border.

The most recent of these conflicts involves Sudan conducting aerial bombardments within South Sudanese territory.  The targets of these bombardments are civilian in nature, with civilian casualties being the result.  To make matters worse, the control of the Heglig region – an area of key oil production and responsible for approximately half of the two countries’ oil production – has been under dispute and changing hands as of late.  This has caused a near complete halt of oil production in Heglig and resulted in disaster for both economies.

Earth Day and Alternative Energy

Amercia's oil dependence continues to grow

Earth Day was April 22nd – a day where many of the more 'environmentally conscious' folks chose to preach about the virtues of driving a hybrid, the evils of eating meat and tell how unless we all quit using fossil fuels this instant, global warming is going to turn the world into a scorched earth.  Of course, there is a lot of reality in what they are saying.  However, of all the myriad of issues presented on Earth Day, the one that seems to affect us most is related to oil and energy consumption. 

 

As of today, oil is close to $112 a barrel and $4 a gallon for gasoline.  While oil prices have declined slightly, with the continued rebellions and uncertainty in the Middle East, we can look forward to those prices growing even further this summer.  While I, like many, would rather see more green energy solutions, let’s be realistic – oil is the lifeblood of modern society. It's used in everything from fueling cars to industrial production; and without it, almost every facet of modern life would either cease to be or change drastically.

Hostess threatens to abuse bankruptcy laws to force workers into accepting reduced pensions

 

Hostess has found yet another way to walk over their workers and if it works, it could be seen by other companies as a way around unions and a way to take advantage of workers that are left choosing between their individual rights and the right to work. According to recent reports, Hostess will be offering their workers a final chance to agree with their proposal to cut back cost through reduced worker pensions. This final offer comes with a threat that the company will be using the bankruptcy court to remove worker contracts that are currently in place.

If Hostess manages to be excused from their contract obligations then it will be a sad and damaging day in history. The bankruptcy court will single-highhandedly reverse everything that unions have fought for from the very first time that a small union stood up for an American worker. For the first time in decades, workers will be left exposed and unprotected.

Presidential qualifications

Charm or competence?

The Obama administration has been an abject failure. Barack Obama made a personal promise to hold himself accountable for either success or failure during his administration. Yet, he spent the first two years blaming the previous administration by name for his lack of progress.

 

Since then Mr. Obama and the democrats have been in the business of witch hunting. Whether it is Wall Street bankers, millionaires or the oil industry, Obama must assign hate and blame—instead of hope and change—to someone else in order to remove it from himself.

Conservapedia: All The News Thats Fit To Confuse

"some of the views expressed are—to use the terminology favored by respected political science professors; Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs."

It's fair to say I spend a fair amount of time on the internet (and by “fair amount” I mean “tons) and I often google controversial topics: abortion, gay rights, in-fights amongst cancer fundraising organizations. Strangely, I almost never encounter links to Conservapedia in the first, say 20 pages of hits while researching any of these topics.

 

If I understood google algorithms a bit better, I'd know exactly why this is, but I suspect that it has to do with the fact that even conversative websites are reluctant to link to Conservapedia. Most likely because some of the views expressed are—to use the terminology favored by respected political science professors; Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

 

For example, consider their entry on the “abortion mentality.” Although certain the Catholic Church complains of a“culture of death” and it's not uncommon for conservative and evengelical Protestant churches to use similar langugage, the idea of a “abortion mentality” is a new introduction into this conversation. The writers explain “Under the abortion mentality, abortion itself can become a rite of passage by which college students are initiated into the belief system and then effectively owned by this anti-life belief system for their entire lives.” Apparently, in the minds of the authors, abortion isn't just a medical procedure, it's a commitment to a lifelong philosophy that one develops in college.

 

Even if this were the case, who remembers what they learned in college?

 

But there are a few things me and Conservapedia do agree on.

 

Take, for example, their entry on San Francisco. They describe San Fransciso as the “one of the most beautiful cities in the world.” Well, I agree with that.

This is the view from San Francisco coastline.

 

They also say San Francisco has had some pretty bad earthquakes. Well that's true too.

 

Then the authors add “ San Francisco, with a large homosexual population, is also considered to be one of the most liberal cities in America.”

 

I don't know if San Francisco is one of the most liberal cities in America, after all, Portland Oregon is just up the coast and Portland is so liberal the citizens have to maintain spreadsheets just to keep track of all the different products they're boycotting.

 

That's It! I'm moving to Canada.

OK then...start packing!

Do you remember the 2008 election?  The Bush years had finally waned and it was time for two new candidates to set the vision for moving our country forward.  Change and Hope were the mantras during the election season.  Dedicated loyal followers of both candidates emerged.  Some so dedicated that they exclaimed they’d move to Canada or Mexico if their candidate didn’t win.  Well, as time went on and Election Day passed, it was Mr. Obama who took office and that didn’t sit well with that right side of the political party bus. But, as I suspected, none of the “I’m moving to Canada” people actually did anything. They just pretended like they never even said any of those things.

More than religion

 

I read a story about religion in politics today.  I read it with a certain level of trepidation because religion is so often a sword that turns on the

 people who use it in politics today.  It was a story about a small comment made by Governor Brian Schweitzer.  Governor Schweitzer said Mitt Romney’s family came from a “Polygamy commune” in Mexico. 

First things first.  It does not matter how Mitt’s father grew up, or where, or why he lived there.  Not at all.  This race is not about Mitt’s father, or about why he was in Mexico living there in the first place.  Mitt’s grandparents were polygamists, but his parents were not.

Mitt Romney’s religion, like President Obama’s, has no place in any discussion of the 2012 run for President.  Mitt Romney is a Mormon.  Good for him.  End of discussion.

A discussion of Mitt Romney’s false claims about women and job loss would be more welcome, because he fails to point out that women now make up more of the workforce than they did before President Obama took office.

Fenway Park celebrates 100 years of baseball

America's favorite pastime makes history again

 

Baseball is America’s pastime and dates back to the first pitch that crossed home plate. America’s pastime has stood tall against any struggle that American citizens have faced. Whether Americans faced war, the depression or the redundancy of normal daily life, baseball has provided an outlet of happiness, enjoyment and in some cases escape. It is with pride that America now stands to celebrate their favorite pastime.

The Boston Red Sox stadium, Fenway Park, opened its doors 100 years ago for its first major league game. The Boston Red Sox played against the New York Highlanders, later to be renamed the New York Yankees on April 20, 1912. Boston won that first game with a victory score of 7-6 over the course of 11 innings.

Four ways to celebrate Earth Day 2012

 

We all try each day to maintain a healthy Earth and in the process, maintain our own health. This isn’t always easy, especially in today’s world that is filled with not only obvious toxins, but also hidden toxins. Try to promote health by celebrating with these four easy changes this Earth Day.

Buy Organic – Support organic farmers by buying organic. Organic farms produce fruits and vegetables that are free of pesticides. Furthermore the air and soil is spared from the damage that can be caused by heavy machinery.

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