Giving Gay Rights a Sporting Chance
Before New York’s momentous legalization of marriage equality this summer, former New York Giants player David Tyree made a video with the National Organization for Marriage. “It’s a strong word,” said the wide receiver, but gay marriage is the beginning of America’s slide toward “anarchy.”
But his ominous warning may be becoming more of an exception than the rule in American locker rooms. Consider the emerging critical mass of athletes publicly supporting marriage equality and challenging homophobia: Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo and New York Rangers forward Sean Avery have made advocacy videos in Maryland and New York, respectively. Grant Hill teamed up with fellow Phoenix Suns basketball player Jared Dudley to film a “Think B4 You Speak” anti-homophobic language video in April. And several Major League Baseball teams, including the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and World Series champion San Francisco Giants, have shot videos for Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” anti-bullying campaign.
Taken together, it’s a stunning amount of support from a sports culture that has historically been mired in homophobia.
Sam Harris: http://www.samharris.org
“Buddhist doctrines about meditation, compassion, and well-being have begun to greatly enrich the scientific study of the human mind–but we have long needed a careful analysis of the philosophical merits of these ideas. In The Bodhisattva’s Brain, Flanagan has delivered it in fine style. This is an unusually wise and useful book.”
— Sam Harris, author of the New York Times best sellers, The Moral Landscape, Letter to a Christian Nation, and The End of Faith
“What has Buddhism to teach us about human flourishing? What has neuroscience to teach us both about human flourishing and about the claims of Buddhism? Owen Flanagan’s adventurous and intriguing pursuit of answers to these questions is matched by the impressive ingenuity of his attempts to accommodate those answers to the commitments of scientific naturalism.”
— Alasdair MacIntyre, author of After Virtue and Whose Justice? Which Rationality?
“In this masterpiece of insight and clarity, Flanagan takes us on a profound but still personal journey, as he contrasts philosophies of life held by Westerners and those held by Buddhists. Ever true to the path that logic carves, shrewdly sensitive to the human search for happiness, and with a unique accumulation of knowledge, Flanagan has given us something very new: comparative neurophilosophy.”
— Patricia S. Churchland, Professor of Philosophy, University of California, San Diego
Despite lawsuits and activism, women’s health clinics are shutting their doors, thanks to “regulations” coming, in one case, from secret origins.
In Arizona, three clinics have stopped providing abortions thanks to a new law that makes it illegal for nurse practitioners to perform medical abortions.
In Kansas, a family planning clinic is scheduled to close thanks to government pulling funding, while the courts continue to battle out a set of new restrictions that just happen to make it impossible for several abortion clinics in the state to operate at all.
And in Virginia, Gov. Bob McDonnell has taken a page from Kansas’ book and is issuing some of the most drastic abortion restrictions seen since Roe, targeting clinics that provide first-trimester abortions with regulations that will effectively force them to shut their doors.
These “bogus safety restrictions” are the newest front in the war on women. At the same time, older battles from this year are resulting in clear-as-day effects already: invasive sonogram laws in Texas, parental consent laws in Nevada, and the constant pulling of funding from family planning.
By Jon Perr
Americans can be forgiven for assuming Michele Bachmann was deadly serious when she repeatedly joked this weekend that God was using an earthquake and hurricane to send a divine message to restrain federal spending. After all, Bachmann has not only proclaimed time and again that the Almighty called her to seek higher office; in 2009, she joined an evangelical “prayercast” asking for divine intervention to halt health care reform. As it turns out, she has plenty of company among the Republican 2012 White House hopefuls. When it comes to policy foreign and domestic, from frontrunner Rick Perry on down the GOP field is offering the ultimate faith-based initiative.
For years, the leading lights of the Party of Lincoln have been turning Honest Abe’s mantra (“My concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side”) on its head. But when it comes to making divine intervention the centerpiece of public policy, Texas Governor Rick Perry is hoping to be the chosen one.
Before entering the GOP presidential race, Governor Perry tried in vain to end the drought in Texas by proclaiming “the three-day period from Friday, April 22, 2011, to Sunday, April 24, 2011, as Days of Prayer for Rain in the State of Texas” and urged “Texans of all faiths and traditions to offer prayers on those days for the healing of our land, the rebuilding of our communities and the restoration of our normal way of life.”
But while God didn’t hear Perry’s call, Perry heard His. As he explained last month before formally jumping into the GOP race:
“I’m not ready to tell you that I’m ready to announce that I’m in. But I’m getting more and more comfortable every day that this is what I’ve been called to do. This is what America needs.”
If the Lord is calling on Rick Perry to lead the United States, Perry plans to call Him back when it’s time to actually run it.
By Roger Bybee
America’s CEOs are truly in a league of their own when it comes to pay and power.
Total CEO pay at the largest 292 corporations averaged 325 times what the average worker made in 2010, a far higher ratio than in any other Western nation. This figure had actually declined from an incredible 525 times the typical worker’s wage in 2000. But the CEOs of the Top 100 are truly in another stratosphere. They averaged an astounding 1,723 times what their workers earned in 2007, according to Les Leopold’s excellent book, The Looting of America.
The Washington, D.C.-based think tank Institute for Policy Studies has come up with a different, but equally stunning, way of gauging CEO pay by making a simple comparison. For its new report, Executive Excess 2011, the IPS placed the compensation packages of America’s Top 100 CEOs alongside the tax bills of their corporations, and discovered that
Of last year’s 100 highest-paid U.S. corporate chief executives, 25 took home more in CEO pay than their company paid in 2010 federal corporate income taxes.
U.S. corporations and their stooges in Congress, including some Democrats, frequently whine that the U.S. corporate tax rate is far too high for U.S. firms to remain competitive. In fact, the multitude of loopholes mean that the official 35% tax rate is almost never imposed. Corporate tax rates for U.S. firms are actually among the lowest among the 30 advanced nations belonging to the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, reports Citizens for Tax Justice:
According to a 2007 study by the Bush Treasury Department, between 2000-2005 US corporations paid only 13.4% of their profits in corporate income taxes, well below the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average of 16.1%.
Just in case those figures are too complex for the average congressperson to comprehend, the IPS study offers some very memorable facts:
How once-controversial ‘war on terror’ tactics became the new normal.
Barack Obama has continued virtually all of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney’s once-controversial terrorism and civil liberties policies, a fact now recognized across the political spectrum. Even the right wing acknowledges these policies have continued under the Obama presidency, which is interesting, because for decades Republicans have made political hay by accusing Democrats of being weak on national security (or “soft on terrorism” in this age of terror).
For example, Jack Goldsmith, a right-wing ideologue and a high-ranking Justice Department official in George W. Bush’s first term—when “enhanced interrogation techniques” (what the civilized world calls “torture”) were frequently employed—has criticized Dick Cheney’s daughter and Irving Crystal’s son for claiming that Obama has abandoned these policies. In a 2009 article for The New Republic, he writes:
“This premise that the Obama administration has reversed the terror policies is wrong. The new administration has copied most of the Bush program, has expanded some of it and has narrowed only a bit. All of the Obama changes have been at the level of packaging, argumentation, symbol and rhetoric.”
The first area where we see this is true is in indefinite detention—the idea that human beings can be caged for years without an opportunity to defend themselves or contest the validity of the charges against them (if they are lucky enough even to be charged). The president’s plan for “closing” Guantanamo was not really to close Guantanamo at all. It was simply to move it 2,000 miles north to Illinois, where the controversial aspects of it—namely, imprisoning people for life without due process—were going to be fully preserved and retained.
Sex Trafficking Soars with American War in Iraq
August 27, 2011, By Rebecca Murray
Rania was 16 years old when officials raped her during Saddam Hussein’s 1991 crackdown in Iraq’s Shia south. “My bothers were sentenced to death, and the price to stop this was to offer my body,” she says.
Cast out for bringing ‘shame’ to her family, Rania ran away to Baghdad and soon fell into living and working in Baghdad’s red light district.
Prostitution and sex trafficking are epidemic in Iraq, where the violence of military occupation and sectarian strife have smashed national institutions, impoverished the population and torn apart families and neighbourhoods. Over 100,000 civilians have been killed and an estimated 4.4 million Iraqis displaced since 2003.
“Wars and conflicts, wherever they are fought, invariably usher in sickeningly high level of violence against women and girls,” Amnesty International states.