Various Direct Links

17 May 2012

Praise: International Day Against Homophobia

I had not heard of the International Day Against Homophobia until seeing it this afternoon on Joe My God.  This is the 10th year of it.  About time I learned more.

Few minority groups have been as discriminated against as the gays and lesbians. But major breakthroughs have occurred, and homosexual people are stepping out of the shadows. From the outside, it could be construed that all problems have been solved. The media are sympathetic, public personalities come out, television shows feature lesbian and gay characters in scenes of everyday life. Nevertheless, the reality is quite different. Many individuals are unable to live their sexual orientation, encounter difficulties if they do, or end up role-playing to protect themselves.
Despite these dire situations, the implementation of the International Day Against Homophobia should not rest on a “victimization“ philosophy. In fact, the Day may be seen as a great opportunity to highlight positive aspects of homosexuality and celebrate the contribution of lesbians and gays to society.
Now I need to spend more time reading.

Praise: University of Washington on Gaydar

One of the arguments that is sometimes made against including LGBTQ people in hate crime legislation is that we are not really discriminated again.  After all, unlike most who are Black, we can "pass".  But, then again, maybe we cannot.

Back in January, there was a study out of Albright College that indicated that homosexuals may have less symmetrical facial features than heterosexuals.  This week we are learning about a study out of the University of Washington that indicates that people's gaydar, the ability to discern whether someone is gay or straight, may be real particularly at discerning lesbians.
After seeing faces for less than a blink of an eye, college students have accuracy greater than mere chance in judging others’ sexual orientation. Their "gaydar" persisted even when they saw the photos upside-down, and gay versus straight judgments were more accurate for women’s faces than for men’s.
The findings, published May 16 in the open-access online journal PLoS ONE, suggest that we unconsciously make gay and straight distinctions.
From the discussion section of the full paper:
[I]t would appear that minority sexual orientation is not the concealed stigma that many argue it is. Indeed, the need to protect gay people from discrimination would seem increasingly urgent to the extent that minority sexual orientation is tacitly inferred from aspects of personal appearance that are routinely available for inspection (e.g., faces).
Discrimination is real and we now know a little more about how that occurs.  We also know that heterosexuals may be discriminated against because of false impressions that they are homosexual.  Important for all in society to consciously endeavor to avoid discriminating against the LGBTQ Community.

Praise: Minnesotans United for All Families campaign

The endeavor to write discrimination into the Minnesota Constitution might go the same way as it did with the North Carolina Constitution.  This ad makes the same argument that was made to give those eighteen years old the right to vote.  Corporal Andrew Wilfahrt was not the first LGBTQ to serve in Afghanistan and he was not the first to die for his country.  He died a second class citizen.  Thank you Representative Kriesel for your words of support.

Here are links for the Minnesotans United for All Families:

Thanks to Joe My God for the heads up.

15 May 2012

Praise: James Clyburn on Marriage Equality

Representative Clyburn of South Carolina, number three in the minority leadership, is spot on regarding marriage equality.  On the other hand, I suspect that national equality will only be possible through the courts, similar to what happened with interracial marriage as resolved by the Supreme Court in Loving v Virginia

The legislative route is easier if there is a Democratic Congress.  If we can simply see the overturning of DOMA, then marriages between people of the same gender may still not be possible in forty-four states, but those states would have to recognize marriages performed in the six states where marriage equality is the law (Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont) as well as the District of Columbia.  Without DOMA, that recognition of marriages would be required by Article IV, Section One of the United States Constitution.

Either way, thank you to Leader Clyburn.  Well said.

Praise: 2012 Living Planet Report

The World Wildlife Fund has been working for half a century to keep our planet healthy for us.  I last mentioned them regarding Earth Hour.  Their 2012 Living Planet Report is disheartening, but important information.  The summation of chapter one says a lot:

2012 Living Planet Report, page 12.
The ongoing loss of biodiversity is frightening.  We don't know how much more loss can be sustained without a collapse to the system ... a collapse that could include our species.  As we continue to grow our population far beyond the numbers where we don't harm our environment, something is going to give.  Some of that is seen in loss of species and diminished fresh water supplies.

The report is not all doom and gloom.  Chapter four includes sixteen points for sustaining our world.
  1. Significantly expand the global protected areas network
    • Protect 20 per cent of representative land, freshwater and
    marine areas, including areas key for ecological processes
    necessary for biodiversity, food, water and energy security,
    and climate change resilience and adaptation.
    • Implement adequate funding mechanisms for effective
    protected area management.
  2. Halt loss of priority habitats
    • Achieve Zero Net Deforestation and Degradation by 2020 and
    maintain thereafter.
    • Halt fragmentation of freshwater systems.
    • Increase the area of effectively managed marine protected areas
    from 5 per cent to at least 20 per cent.
  3. Restore damaged ecosystems and ecosystem services
    • Prioritize restoration of ecosystems and ecosystem services
    necessary for food, water and energy security, and climate
    change resilience and adaptation.
  4. Significantly reduce inputs and waste in production systems
    • Increase total food supply-chain efficiency.
    • Maximize energy, water and material efficiency.
    • Maximize recycling and recovery.
    • Minimize greenhouse gas emissions.
  5. Manage resources sustainably
    • Eliminate overfishing by commercial fleets, including the
    indiscriminate capture of non-target organisms.
    • Eliminate water over-abstraction.
    • Implement policies to secure water quality.
    • Minimize further habitat conversion through maximizing
    the sustainable use of productive land by improving
    genetic selection, adopting best practices, increasing
    efficiency, improving soil organic matter and rehabilitating
    degraded lands.
  6. Scale-up renewable energy production
    • Increase the proportion of sustainable renewable energies in
    the global energy mix to at least 40 per cent by 2030 and 100
    per cent by 2050.
    • Increase the share of renewable energy in the overall energy
    mix, along with ambitious energy demand management,
    especially in sectors with limited renewable options that are
    likely to be dependent on bioenergy. (Aviation, shipping and
    high heat industrial applications are likely to be among these.)
  7. Change energy consumption patterns
    • Decrease energy demand by 15 per cent by 2050 compared
    to 2005.
    • Increase the proportion of electricity produced using
    renewable energy to cover all global energy needs by 2050.
    • Provide sustainable energy to everyone in “off-grid” areas.
  8. Promote healthy consumption patterns
    • Balance protein intake per capita as recommended by the
    World Health Organization (WHO).
    • Minimize retailer and consumer food waste in high- and
    middle-income countries.
  9. Achieve low-footprint lifestyles
    • Minimize resource consumption and waste by high income
    • Maximize market share of certified sustainable products.
    • Transition urban areas to “smart” cities with low-footprint
    solutions for meeting urban housing, food, water, energy, and
    mobility needs.
  10. Value nature
    • Implement an inclusive and globally accepted system
    for measuring the economic and non-economic value of
    natural capital.
    • Fully integrate this value into mainstream economic
    development policy and decision-making.
  11. Account for environmental and social costs
    • Integrate social and environmental costs of production and
    consumption over long timeframes into standard national
    and corporate accounting and reporting methodologies.
    • Ensure that social and environmental costs are reflected in
    the market price of all commodities and products, and in
    environmental impact assessments.
  12. Support and reward conservation, sustainable resource management and innovation
    • Eliminate all subsidies that undermine sustainable resource
    use and conservation, particularly those underpinning fossil
    fuel use and unsustainable agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
    • Develop/implement new financial mechanisms that redirect
    public and private investment to support sustainable practices
    and new technologies for sustainability, and provide new
    additional financing for conservation and restoration of
    natural capital.
    • Improve policy for increased investments and large-scale
    deployment of innovations and new technologies that
    can enable sustainable development in both public and
    private spheres.
  13. Share available resources
    • Implement natural resource governance built on inclusive
    processes and broad participation by communities dependent
    on natural resources.
    • Minimize the footprint of high-income populations and urban
    areas (see “Consume more wisely”).
    • Promote the transition toward sustainable, resource-efficient
    cities and reduce the direct impact of cities on water and land
    by limiting urban sprawl, promoting urban agriculture and
    sustainable waste (water) management.
  14. Make fair and ecologically informed choices
    • Implement policies and tools for analysing, resolving and
    managing competing land use and water use claims.
  15. Measure success “beyond GDP”
    • Include social and environmental indices in national indicators
    to measure and reward success.
    • Implement economic policies with targets and indicators to
    monitor the impact of economic governance on natural capital
    and human well-being.
  16. Sustainable population
    • Explicitly integrate population dynamics (size, growth
    rate, composition, location and migration) and per capita
    consumption trends into national planning policies to support a
    better balance between population and available resources.
    • Ensure universal access to gender-sensitive reproductive health
    services and information, reduce child mortality and support
    the empowerment of women and young girls through greater
    access to higher education and employment opportunities.
Most of this is common sense.  A few points are political triggers (#13 smacks of socialism, #15 smacks of anti-capitalism, and #16 will grate against religious fundamentalists who think that there are not enough humans ever).  Still more is based on science that some will be eager to deny.  Nonetheless, this report needs to be taken seriously.  We don't have a control group for the experiment we are running with our ecosystem.

14 May 2012

Praise: Audra McDonald on Obama and Marriage Equality

While the hyperbole of "superhero" is at first hear a bit extreme, Ms. McDonald may be entirely accurate. If President Obama's words stop a teen in North Carolina from committing suicide, he is a superhero. Saving a life is what heroes do. Thank you, Ms. McDonald. Your prescience may also be saving lives.

Thank you, Freedom to Marry, for sharing this video.

14 May 2012: Marriage News Watch

Links:  American Foundation for Equal Rights, Marriage News Watch.

23 January 2012: Marriage News Watch.
30 January 2012: Marriage News Watch.
6 February 2012: Marriage News Watch.
13 February 2012: Marriage News Watch.
20 February 2012: Marriage News Watch.
21 February 2012: Marriage News Watch Special Episode.
27 February 2012: Marriage News Watch.
12 March 2012: Marriage News Watch.
19 March 2012: Marriage News Watch.
26 March 2012: Marriage News Watch.
2 April 2012: Marriage News Watch.
5 April 2012: Marriage News Watch, Surprise Advance.
16 April 2012: Marriage News Watch.
23 April 2012: Marriage News Watch.
30 April 2012: Marriage News Watch.
7 May 2012: Marriage News Watch.
10 May 2012: Marriage News Watch, 2012's Biggest Marriage Milestones So Far.

21 May 2012: Marriage News Watch.
28 May 2012: Marriage News Watch.
4 June 2012: Marriage News Watch.
5 June 2012: Marriage News Watch, Prop 8 Rehearing Denied.
11 June 2012: Marriage News Watch.
18 June 2012: Marriage News Watch.
25 June 2012: Marriage News Watch.
2 July 2012: Marriage News Watch.
10 July 2012: Marriage News Watch.
16 July 2012: Marriage News Watch.

13 May 2012

Praise: Bernie Sanders and Keith Ellison take on Big Oil

From Senator Sanders' website:
Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Keith Ellison on Thursday introduced legislation to end billions of dollars in oil, coal and gas subsidies. "We are here today not just to announce new legislation, but to send a message that it is time to end the absurdity of taxpayers providing massive subsidies to hugely profitable fossil fuel corporations," Sanders told a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol. "In these difficult economic times, it is imperative that we support the taxpayers of this country and not the fossil fuel industry - one of the most powerful special interests in the world," he added.
Joining Sanders at a news conference, Ellison noted that big oil companies make more than $300 million every day. "Why should Americans prop up these companies with tax dollars and have to pay ridiculous fuel prices?" he asked. "We need to get off the fossil fuel bandwagon that keeps us dependent on oil and contributes to climate change.  The $113 billion in taxpayer handouts that oil, gas, and coal companies receive should be used to invest in green jobs. It's time for this corporate welfare to end."
The measure would do away with tax breaks, financial assistance, royalty relief, direct federal research and development and many loopholes that benefit the fossil fuel industry. Under current law, more than $113 billion in federal subsidies would go to oil, coal and gas industries in the coming decade.
Doing a little quick research online, I found the following:  The net profit for the first quarter of 2012 for Chevron was 6.471 Billion Dollars.  The net profit for the first quarter of 2012 for Exxon Mobil was 9.45 Billion Dollars.  This was not the gross profit, it was net.

I did not find the quarterly report for BP, but for the full year of 2011 the net profit for BP was 26.097 Billion Dollars.  Again, this is net not gross.  In all three cases it is billion with a B.

I do not object to companies making money.  If they can make a lot of money, that's good too.  But, subsidizing their profit is where I have a problem.  They should be taxed like small companies are.

Speaker Boehner and the House GOP are sure to block this legislation.  But it is good that Senator Sanders of Vermont and Representative Ellison of Minnesota are offering the legislation.  Better would be seeing it pass.

FollowUp 30: Wisconsin Republican Dirty Tricks

For over a year the Democratic Party of Wisconsin has been saying that Governor Scott Walker was lying about his goal to destroy unions.  Here's the letter that they released on Friday.
To: Interested Reporters
Date: Friday, May 11, 2012
From: Melissa Baldauff, WisDems Research Director
Re: Memo to Reporters: Divide and Conquer: Scott Walker’s Agenda Revealed
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is out with a breaking video, obtained by a documentary filmmaker in January 2011, which shows Scott Walker’s “bomb” was just the beginning of his “Right-to-Work-For-Less” agenda. 
In the damning video, Walker talks about his plan to employ a secret "divide and conquer" strategy against unions, despite publicly stating that he would not push so-called “right-to-work” legislation.
Even more damaging for what remains of Scott Walker’s credibility with Wisconsinites, his confession came in response to a request from Diane Hendricks, a billionaire Koch Brothers strategist with a long history of supporting "right-to-work-for-less" legislation and financing ultra-conservative Wisconsin Republicans, who is Walker’s top campaign donor with $510,000 in contributions.
Scott Walker tells his corporate benefactor, “The first step is we're going to deal with collective bargaining for all public employee unions, because you use divide and conquer.”
The bargaining bill, Walker said, would “open the door” for “Right-to-Work-For-Less” legislation.
This video exchange, like Scott Walker’s call with whom he believed to be David Koch, highlights Scott Walker’s propensity for saying one thing in public and doing another in private. Walker’s call with the phony Koch brother revealed that after he dropped “the bomb” on Wisconsin with his elimination of collective bargaining for public employees, he even considered inciting acts of violence in a peaceful crowd, all to divide the people and advance his special interest agenda.
Despite pursuing “Right-to-Work-For-Less” legislation while serving in the state legislature, and his history of opposing prevailing wage laws, Walker has repeatedly denied in public his present intent to turn Wisconsin into a low-wage, low-benefit state.
  • Speaking to Wisconsin Public Radio in April 2012, Walker said, "I have no interest in a Right to Work law in the state. We're not going to pursue that in the remainder of our term and we're not going to pursue it in the future." [“Walker denies wanting to make Wisconsin a right to work state,” Wisconsin Public Radio, April 26, 2012]
  • As reported in February 2012, by The Atlantic, "In our case, we've opted to address [unions] on the public sector level," Walker said. "You look at private sector unions by and large have been our partner in economic development. They haven't been an obstacle to that. So that's not anything we're pursuing." I asked if that meant he would oppose a right-to-work law for Wisconsin. "Not oppose it, it's just not something we're pursuing right now," he said. "When I was in the legislature, I supported it. It's not something I'm pursuing right now, nor have any plan of pursuing. Again, private-sector unions have been our partner in the economic revival we've had in this state. A bigger issue is the impact the public-sector unions have had on the taxpayers. And that's essentially what we have in Wisconsin -- right-to-work in the public sector." [“Wisconsin, One Year Later,” The Atlantic, February 24, 2012]
  • As reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in January 2012, “Cullen Werwie, Walker's spokesman, said the governor would not be introducing any right-to-work legislation in Wisconsin.” [“Walker won’t push right-to-work legislation,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 25, 2012]
  • As reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in March 2011, “The bill does not apply to unions in the private sector. Walker called those unions partners in improving the state's economy and indicated he was not seeking "right-to-work" legislation that would let private-sector employees opt not to join unions and pay dues. Asked Friday if that meant he would veto such legislation, he said no, without elaborating.” [“Walker signs budget bill, legal challenges mount - Democrats immediately file suit to halt changes,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 11, 2011]
  • As reported by the Sawyer County Record in February 2011, “Gov. Walker was asked specifically about charges by some labor leaders that he wants to turn Wisconsin into a right to work state, where no one could be required to join a union as a condition of employment. When asked by a reporter if the ultimate goal is to turn Wisconsin into a right to work state, Walker said it wasn’t.” [“Wausau labor leaders believe governor is targeting all labor unions,” Sawyer County Record, February 18, 2011]
Wisconsin is upset because of Governor Walker's bait and switch tactics.  Wisconsin is upset because Governor Walker is undermining protections for middle class laborers across the state.  Wisconsin is upset because Governor Walker is giving the impression, if not the reality, that those who support him will get special deals (as was the case with several unions).  Wisconsin is upset because Governor Walker is limiting aid to women and to poor families.  Wisconsin is upset.  Governor Walker is shown to be a liar.

16 November 2011, Original Pedantic Political Ponderings post.
30 November 2011, FollowUp 1.
4 December 2011, FollowUp 2.
11 December 2011, FollowUp 3.
14 December 2011, FollowUp 4.
15 December 2011, FollowUp 5.
30 December 2011, FollowUp 6.
13 January 2012, FollowUp 7.
17 January 2012, FollowUp 8.
25 January 2012, FollowUp 9.
2 February 2012, FollowUp 10.
9 February 2012, FollowUp 11.
12 February 2012, FollowUp 12.
18 February 2012, FollowUp 13.
22 February 2012, FollowUp 14.
6 March 2012, FollowUp 15.
12 March 2012, FollowUp 16.
16 March 2012, FollowUp 17.
30 March 2012, FollowUp 18.
31 March 2012, FollowUp 19.
3 April 2012, FollowUp 20.
4 April 2012, FollowUp 21.
11 April 2012, FollowUp 22.
14 April 2012, FollowUp 23.
17 April 2012, FollowUp 24.
21 April 2012, FollowUp 25.
29 April 2012, FollowUp 26.
2 May 2012, FollowUp 27.
6 May 2012, FollowUp 28.
10 May 2012, FollowUp 29.

23 May 2012, FollowUp 31.
24 May 2012, FollowUp 32.
30 May 2012, FollowUp 33.
2 June 2012, FollowUp 34.
4 June 2012, FollowUp 35.
5 June 2012, FollowUp 36.