Why Tar Sands Pipelines Guarantee Disaster

Michael Brune | AlterNet | April 10, 2013

This article was published in partnership with  GlobalPossibilities.org.

It’s now been almost two weeks since ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline spill put at least 500,000 gallons of tar sands crude and contaminated water into the Arkansas community of Mayflower. Many of the evacuated families still haven’t been able to return to their homes.

Sierra Club organizer Glen Hooks, who grew up about 20 miles southeast of Mayflower, in Gravel Ridge, attended a meeting for the displaced families at Mayflower High School: “I had to really stare down some ExxonMobil goons who told me to leave because it was a private meeting. I politely explained that it was a meeting in a public building about a public subject with numerous public officials in attendance, and that I was planning to stay.”

Glen’s soft-spoken, but he’s not easily intimidated. Arkansas Business Journal named him an “Eco-Hero of the Year” for his work in helping to stop new coal-fired power plants. During the Mayflower meeting, Glen listened as an ExxonMobil executive apologized to the families and said that the focus was on safety and helping the homeowners. “The meeting then moved into a phase where ExxonMobil met with individual family members about their claims in a side room guarded by no fewer than six uniformed police officers.”

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The NRA’s Slippery Slope Strategy To Fight Background Checks

 | TIME | April 11, 2013

To hear the National Rifle Association tell it, the biggest problem with the bipartisan agreement to expand criminal background checks is what it doesn’t propose to do. “I think what they’ll do is turn this universal check on the law-abiding into a universal registry of law-abiding people,” warns Wayne LaPierre, the group’s executive vice president, on Fox News Sunday. “Obamacare wasn’t a tax until they wanted it to be a tax.”

To be clear, there is no national gun registry. The federal government keeps no records from background checks that could be used to create a gun registry. In fact, federal law prohibits the creation of a national gun registry, and the bipartisan agreement to expand background checks specifically states that it is a crime to create a gun registry. So why all the concern about mandatory gun registration?

The answer can be found in history. For more than three decades, the NRA has consistently argued that pretty much any new regulation of firearms would move the country a step closer to more draconian regulations, like gun registration and confiscation. The slippery slope argument has underscored most of the gun owner lobby’s major messaging campaigns, and successfully helped rally a core group of Americans to oppose even the most incremental new measures, and become members of the organization. In the longtime logic of the Second Amendment activist, all gun regulations are suspect because of what might happen next.

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Progressive, Labor Leaders United Against Social Security Chained CPI

 | Our Future | April 12, 2013

The Congressional Progressive Caucus and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka pressed their opposition to President Obama’s proposed chained-CPI change to Social Security benefits at a Thursday afternoon news conference, denouncing it as a cut in benefits for those who need the social safety net the most.

Fifteen members of Congress, as well as around 45 supporters and members of the press, gathered on the southeast Capitol lawn. ““We are here to represent is the tens of millions of Americans who are saying that at a time we have more wealth and income inequality in this country than in any time since the 1920s, do not balance the budget on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

“Social Security did not cause nor did it add to the deficit in any way. Chained CPI is some economist’s fancy way of weakening Social Security’s most important protections. This protects the purchasing power of seniors, it prevents seniors from losing economic ground each and every year,” said Trumka.

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Housing Discrimination against Gays, Lesbians, and Poor Still Legal in Most States

Melanie Nathan | Oblogdeeoblogda | April 13, 2013.

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Washington, DC – Today the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) released “Modernizing the Fair Housing Act for the 21st Century,” its 2013 Fair Housing Trends Report.  This year’s report highlights the need to amend the federal Fair Housing Act to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, source of income, and marital status.

The report finds a rise in the number of housing discrimination complaints filed by individuals and families with a marked spike in harassment complaints.  Harassment complaints were up 35% from last year’s numbers and include complaints because of race, national origin, disability, sex, and having children in the home.  Included in the report are harassment and other complaints from Louisiana, New York, Ohio, Texas, and other states.

A total of 28,519 complaints were investigated in 2012 by private non-profit fair housing organizations, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Justice, and state and local government agencies such as state civil rights commissions.  HUD estimates that this already high number represents less than one percent of the approximately four million acts of housing discrimination each year against current populations protected by federal law.

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TX: Pro-LGBT bill advances for 1st time in 12 years


EQUALITY FORWARD  | LGBT state Rep. Mary Gonzalez, D-El Paso, speaks during a panel at Stonewall Democrats’ Equality Forward summit in Austin April 6. Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, left, is among four senators who voted to advance a pro-LGBT bill this week. (Jessica Borges/Dallas Voice)

ANNA WAUGH  |  News Editor | Dallas Voice | April 12, 2013

AUSTIN — Advocates are hoping the historic advancement of a pro-LGBT bill in the Texas Legislature this week will build momentum for other measures as the session moves into its final months.

The Senate Committee on Criminal Justice voted 4-1 to advance SB 1316 — a so-called “Romeo and Juliet” bill that would provide legal protections for sexually active gay and lesbian teens.

Three Democrats and one Republican, Sen. John Carona of Dallas, voted in favor of the bill.

The bill is the first pro-LGBT bill to make it favorably out of committee since 2001, when the James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which includes protections based on “sexual preference,” passed out of committee and was signed into law by Gov. Rick Perry.

Daniel Williams, field organizer for Equality Texas, said he wasn’t surprised Carona voted for the bill to get it out of committee because he is an “extremely reasonable person who listens to mainstream views of his party.” He said the overall mainstream values in Texas are to let people live without inference from the government.

“I think it’s indicative of the attitude of the Texas Legislature and the will of the people,” he said.

“It is historic.”

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Being Gay at Jerry Falwell’s University

 | The Atlantic | April 4, 2013

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Flickr / rwkvisual

It was the fifth time that night that my Theology and Biblical Greek professor was calling. And, like the previous times, no way was I answering the phone. I knew why he was calling. Earlier that day, I emailed all of my professors to tell them I’d made the difficult decision to withdraw from school. As my cell phone went to voice mail, I crawled into bed under my covers, dreading the next morning when the rest of my professors would get my email, when the university would call my parents, when my roommates would ask me why I wasn’t waking up for class. “Why did I come here?” I asked myself. “Out of all the colleges in the world, why did I pick this one?”

After a few minutes, I got out bed to get a drink, and there in the kitchen, I found my roommate Jake looking into the open refrigerator, buck naked.

“Oh, hey, man,” he said when he saw me. “Midnight snack?” he asked.

“Yeah, I just can’t sleep.”

“I hear ya,” he said, and bent over to grab some jelly from the bottom shelf.

And as I looked at his perfectly formed, muscular ass, I closed my eyes and asked myself, “Why would I, the world’s most hypersexual fag, come to Jerry Falwell’s university?!”

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Authorities Probe Hospital Arrest Of Missouri Man Who Refused To Leave Partner’s Bedside

On Top Magazine | April 12, 2013

Federal authorities are looking into whether a Missouri hospital violated a patient’s rights when staffers arrested his visiting partner.

Roger Gorley was forcibly removed by police when he refused to leave the bedside of his partner, Allen Mansell.  Gorley told several sources that he and Mansell are in a civil union.  However, Missouri does not recognize such unions.

“I was not recognized as being the husband,” Gorley told Kansas City Fox affiliate Fox 4.  “I wasn’t recognized as being the partner.”

Gorley said that a nurse at Research Medical Center in Kansas City “didn’t even bother to look it up.  To check into it.”

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FL: Scandal Forces Florida’s Youngest Gay City Official to Resign

Tyler Morrison

Tyler Morrison

Dylan Bouscher | South Florida Gay News | April 12, 2013

It turns out that Morrison is no longer officially a resident of Boca Raton and it was his mother, Andrea Riggin, who alerted city officials of his residence and ineligibility to serve.

Florida’s youngest city official and gay rights advocate, Tyler Morrison, has resigned from a position on Boca Raton’s Community Relation’s board amid controversy and scandal.

It turns out that Morrison is no longer officially a resident of Boca Raton and it was his mother, Andrea Riggin, who alerted city officials of his residence and ineligibility to serve.

In a series of emails to the city Riggin outs her son as not living in the city. She then goes on to say that her son has been unduly influenced by Rand Hoch, president of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, and used as a pawn in his fight for gay rights in the city. She further states that her 18-year-old son is now living with the 58-year-old gay rights activist.

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Young Conservatives, Freedom to Marry denounce RNC passage of anti-gay resolution

San Diego Gay & Lesbian News | April 12, 2013

NEW YORK — Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry and sister organization Freedom To Marry condemned the Republican National Committee (RNC) for voting today to approve a resolution against marriage for gay and lesbian couples.

The vote comes at a time when more progressive members of the Republican Party are beginning to embrace marriage equality.

Young Conservatives sent a letter to the RNC this week calling on the party to dismiss the resolution and move toward inclusion. Tyler Deaton, campaign manager of Young Conservatives for the Freedom to Marry, was displeased by today’s action.

“The passage of this resolution shows a party stuck in the past, not aligned with the majority of Americans and not aligned with the next generation of the conservative movement,” Deaton said. “We will continue to push our leaders to move toward a stance on marriage that includes all loving and committed couples, which is completely in line with the conservative tenets of freedom, personal responsibility, and family.“

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California bans insurance discrimination against transgender patients

San Diego Gay & Lesbian News | April 10, 2013

SAN FRANCISCO — California’s Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) has issued guidance clarifying the obligations of California’s health plans under the Insurance Gender Nondiscrimination Act.

In a groundbreaking directive to health plans, the DMHC confirmed that California’s Insurance Non-Discrimination Act of 2006, authored by former Assemblymember Paul Koretz, guarantees all people the right to access coverage for medically necessary care regardless of their gender identity or gender expression. The directive also provides that patients who are denied coverage can appeal the decision for review by the Department.

Transgender Law Center officials applauded the DMHC, Gov. Jerry Brown, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, the Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, and the Legislative LGBT Caucus for their commitment to ending discriminatory insurance exclusions that limit access to medically necessary care for transgender patients.

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