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Archive for the ‘Editorial/Opinion/Letters’ Category

The Backlash to the Anti-Gay Backlash: “Religious Freedom” Bills Fail, As More People See What They’re Really About


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Dr. Jay Michaelson | The Daily Beast | March 30, 2015

An Oklahoma state representative proposes that discriminators out themselves. Result? The whole bill was shelved.
The anti-gay backlash backlash is here.

In the wake of advances for LGBT equality, conservatives across the country have rallied to pass “religious freedom” bills that would allow people and businesses to discriminate if they have a religious justification for doing so.

The poster children of this campaign are religious wedding photographers and cake bakers. But the real impact is far more serious: huge corporations like Hobby Lobby denying benefits, services, and recognition to same-sex families; Catholic hospitals disallowing longtime, same-sex spouses to visit one another; huge university systems firing janitors, basketball coaches, and secretaries because they are gay.

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What You Need to Know About Indiana’s RFRA


 | Huffington Post | March 30, 2015

Since Indiana passed a new “Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” (RFRA) the state and Governor Mike Pence have taken a lot of heat for it as a “license to discriminate.” Saturday Night Live has lampooned the new law, celebrities have called out the state, the twitter hashtag #BoycottIndiana is trending and businesses are refusing to invest in operations and facilities there.

Opponents of the bill call it a license to discriminate.

Supporters, however, note that 19 other states have passed RFRAs without people getting upset and calling for boycotts. They also point out that Bill Clinton and other Democrats overwhelmingly supported the federal RFRA law in 1993. They portray opposition to Indiana’s RFRA as hypocritical and hyperbolic.

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Who’s pushing the ‘religious freedom’ legislation in states?


isa Suhay, Correspondent | The Christian Science Monitor | March 30, 2015

Norfolk, Va. — A recent opinion piece by Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, lamented Indiana’s new ‘Religious Freedom Restoration Act‘ as what he characterized as a “wave of legislation” which some claim is the result of the emerging power and reach of conservative “bill mills.”

“There’s something very dangerous happening in states across the country. A wave of legislation, introduced in more than two dozen states, would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors,” Mr. Cook wrote in The Washington Post. “Some, such as the bill enacted in Indiana last week that drew a national outcry and one passed in Arkansas, say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law. Others are more transparent in their effort to discriminate.”

Cook was referring to Indiana Gov. Mike Pence and his state’s new “religious freedom” law, which gives business owners the right to decline serving customers based on religious grounds – in effect turning away LGBT customers.

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Senator Professor Warren and the Bankers


Elizabeth Warren. (photo: AP)
Elizabeth Warren. (photo: AP)

Charles Pierce | Esquire | Reader Supported News | March 29, 2015

In which the Senator Professor makes all the right people nervous.

 

et us be quite definite about this. Any Democratic politician who thinks this is a bad situation — or, worse, will not stand by a Democratic colleague in this situation — is not worth the hankie to blow Joe Lieberman’s nose.

Representatives from Citigroup, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, have met to discuss ways to urge Democrats, including Warren and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, to soften their party’s tone toward Wall Street, sources familiar with the discussions said this week. Bank officials said the idea of withholding donations was not discussed at a meeting of the four banks in Washington but it has been raised in one-on-one conversations between representatives of some of them. However, there was no agreement on coordinating any action, and each bank is making its own decision, they said.

My god, what a prodigious bluff. Also, my god, what towering arrogance? These guys own half the world and have enough money to buy the other half, and they’re threatening the party still most likely to control the White House because they don’t like the Senator Professor’s tone? Her tone? Sherrod Brown’s tone? These are guys who should be worried about the tone of the guard who’s calling them down to breakfast at Danbury and they’re concerned about the tenderness of their Savile Row’d fee-fees? Honkies, please.

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Methods Police Use on the Mentally Ill Are Madness


David Harrison is suing the city of Dallas over the death of his brother, Jason. (photo: Mark Graham/Dallas Observer)
David Harrison is suing the city of Dallas over the death of his brother, Jason. (photo: Mark Graham/Dallas Observer)

Conor Friedersdorf | The Atlantic | Reader Supported News | March 29, 2015

Why do so many American cops believe that shooting a schizophrenic man dead for failing to drop a screwdriver is an acceptable outcome?

 

hen This American Life dedicated two episodes to law enforcement in the United States, they titled them, “Cops See It Differently.” Citing examples like the NYPD killing of Eric Garner, which gave rise to the “I can’t breath” protests, the show illustrated how police and non-uniformed citizens assessing the same incidents would draw wildly different conclusions even after watching video footage. Last year, I observed the same phenomenon when St. Louis, Missouri, police officers shot and killed Kajieme Powell in another videotaped encounter. Many cops saw a guy with a knife who didn’t drop it and a justified use of lethal force. Critics pointed out that there was never an attempt to deescalate the situation. A similar disconnect followed the Cleveland police killing of 12-year-old Tamir Rice.

And this week, newly released video footage is giving Americans yet another glimpse at how police are trained, their mindset, and how the results can be lethal. The killing happened last year in Dallas, Texas. The mother of Jason Harrison, a black man with schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder, called police to say that he was off his meds. She wanted help getting him to the hospital—something she’d received before without incident—and requested cops trained to handle the mentally ill.

What happened next is graphic and upsetting to watch.

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The Death of American Universities


Prof. Noam Chomsky, linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist and activist. (photo: Va Shiva)
Prof. Noam Chomsky, linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist and activist. (photo: Va Shiva)

Noam Chomsky | Jacobin | Reader Supported News | March 29, 2015

As universities move towards a corporate business model, precarity is being imposed by force.

 

hat’s part of the business model. It’s the same as hiring temps in industry or what they call “associates” at Walmart, employees that aren’t owed benefits. It’s a part of a corporate business model designed to reduce labor costs and to increase labor servility. When universities become corporatized, as has been happening quite systematically over the last generation as part of the general neoliberal assault on the population, their business model means that what matters is the bottom line.

The effective owners are the trustees (or the legislature, in the case of state universities), and they want to keep costs down and make sure that labor is docile and obedient. The way to do that is, essentially, temps. Just as the hiring of temps has gone way up in the neoliberal period, you’re getting the same phenomenon in the universities.

The idea is to divide society into two groups. One group is sometimes called the “plutonomy” (a term used by Citibank when they were advising their investors on where to invest their funds), the top sector of wealth, globally but concentrated mostly in places like the United States. The other group, the rest of the population, is a “precariat,” living a precarious existence.

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WATCH: Indiana GOP leader admits ‘No Gays Allowed’ sign would be legal in most of the state


 | Raw Story | March 29, 2015

Republican leader in Indiana admitted Monday that discriminating against LGBT people was legal in most of the state — but not because of a new “religious freedom” law.

Facing a growing backlash, Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) and House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) held a press conference to discuss the state’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The GOP leaders said they planned to clarify that the new law doesn’t allow businesses and individuals to deny service to LGBT people on religious grounds.

But during the press conference, a reporter noted that Indiana does not have a state law that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“You guys have said repeatedly that we shouldn’t be able to discriminate against anyone, but if you just ignore the existence of this law, can’t we already do that now? Can’t so-and-so in Richmond put a sign up and say ‘No Gays Allowed?’” she asked. “That’s not against the law, correct?”

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