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[personal profile] lizcommotion
I cannot stop giggling to myself about Trevor Noah's epic satire about Trump as America's first "African President." I just.

I know his first show had a couple groan-worthy jokes, but this is just...perfect.

Watch on comedy central website here.
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[personal profile] sincere
As seen absolutely everywhere on the internet, the obvious has been confirmed yet again: if you want to reduce the number of pregnancies and reduce the number of abortions, address the issue.

Over the past six years, Colorado has conducted one of the largest experiments with long-acting birth control. If teenagers and poor women were offered free intrauterine devices and implants that prevent pregnancy for years, state officials asked, would those women choose them?

They did in a big way, and the results were startling. The birthrate among teenagers across the state plunged by 40 percent from 2009 to 2013, while their rate of abortions fell by 42 percent, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. There was a similar decline in births for another group particularly vulnerable to unplanned pregnancies: unmarried women under 25 who have not finished high school.

[...] Proponents say the program is working. The state health department estimated that every dollar spent on the long-acting birth control initiative saved $5.85 for the state’s Medicaid program, which covers more than three-quarters of teenage pregnancies and births.

[...] The private grant that funds the state program has started to run out, and while many young women are expected to be covered under the health care law, some plans have required payment or offered only certain methods, problems the Obama administration is trying to correct.

Comprehensive sex education and ready access to free, confidential birth control had a huge effect that saved the state a ton of money and probably improved the lives of countless women.

Let's just underline it again: if you were really "pro-life", you would support this policy. It halved the number of abortions in Colorado -- no precious baby-killing! -- not because women were denied abortions, but because they didn't need them.

But of course, in reality, that's the point. Today's conservatives aren't pro-life -- they're just anti-sex. God forbid that somewhere out there, some woman feels totally in control of her body, her sexuality, and her future. She needs the [Republican-controlled] government to tell her whether she can or can't have a perfectly legal and safe medical procedure done, and to make sure that she shoulders both the burden of educating herself while being kept in the dark by the powers that be as well as the blame and consequences for getting pregnant when that strangely doesn't pan out.

Sources: x, x, x
sincere: DGM: Lenalee gazes off, brow furrowed (fretful ;;)
[personal profile] sincere
Today I found out from Jezebel that anti-gay bakers and florists should quake in their slippers:

The owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, the Oregon bakery that refused to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian couple, has been ordered to pay $135,000 in damages. [...] Oregon’s bureau of labor and industries ruled, however, that the couples violated the state’s 2007 discrimination law. The AP reports that the law, “provides an exemption for religious organizations, but the agency ruled that exemption does not allow private businesses to discriminate against potential customers.”

This is, of course, the correct decision. But I'm sure this will be a huge whiny crybaby point of contention with the religious right. Here's a primer for talking about this with such people, inspired by many of the comments on this article:

• No, they didn't "just" refuse to give this couple a cake. When the couple filed a complaint, the bakery posted their personal information online and encouraged people to harass them.

• No, it isn't "too much" money. It SHOULD be expensive to discriminate against people and break the law. It SHOULD be a sufficient amount of money to dissuade anyone from doing similar things. A slap on the wrist fine wouldn't stop a thousand more cases just like this. Also, see above re: harassment, because this lede has been thoroughly buried.

• No, they're not being "forced" to support gay marriage. There isn't going to be a sign at the wedding that says "Wedding endorsed by pro-gay-marriage supporter Sweet Cakes by Melissa." All they are doing is selling a product. When you sell a chair, you don't ask who's going to sit in the chair and what they're going to be doing while sitting on the chair. You sell it, and what happens next has nothing to do with you.

• No, it's not the same as being asked to make a swastika cake or a cake celebrating 9/11. They can refuse to make a cake with a certain design. But if they're being asked to make a three-tiered wedding cake with white fondant and pink rose accents, a perfectly normal cake that they would definitely make for and sell to an ordinary couple, they CAN'T say "I refuse to make a cake for YOUR KIND OF PEOPLE." That is discrimination.

• No, it isn't "against their religion". Their religion says not to judge other people. Just bake them a damn cake and let the afterlife sort the bad people out. Unless you also refuse to serve people who are divorced, who are on second marriages, who eat pork, who are circumcised, who work on the Sabbath, etc, you have no leg to stand on here. P.S.: ignoring the ruling of a judge is a sin!

I'll be posting again later (if no one else gets to it first!) about the Greek referendum, because yeesh.
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[personal profile] sincere
The Huffington Post shares some information about TPP that makes it seem really, really ugly.

The WikiLeaks analysis explains that this lets firms "sue" governments to obtain taxpayer compensation for loss of "expected future profits."

Let that sink in for a moment: "[C]ompanies and investors would be empowered to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings -- federal, state or local -- before tribunals...." And they can collect not just for lost property or seized assets; they can collect if laws or regulations interfere with these giant companies' ability to collect what they claim are "expected future profits."

The Times' report explains that this clause also "giv[es] greater priority to protecting corporate interests than promoting free trade and competition that benefits consumers."

The tribunals that adjudicate these cases will be made up of private-sector (i.e., corporate) attorneys. These attorneys will rotate between serving on the tribunals and representing corporations that bring cases to be heard by the tribunals. This is a conflict of interest because the attorneys serving on the tribunals will have tremendous incentive to rule for the corporations if they want to continue to get lucrative corporate business.

Why is Obama pushing for this? I don't understand why allowing companies to sue governments if their international trade restrictions are too effective is worth selling out consumers, laborers, democracy, and even the pretense of neutrality. I'm sick and tired of corporations and corporate interests dominating politics. Corporations aren't more important than people or countries.
sincere: DGM: Lenalee's back to the viewer (Default)
[personal profile] sincere
The U.S. Supreme Court has been busy, man.

• Supreme Court rules that it's asinine to say that the Affordable Care Act wasn't intended to provide federal subsidies. Yay! Also, fuck you, Scalia.

• Supreme Court rules that marriage is for everyone, so please expect to receive your mandatory gay marriage assignment in the mail within the next few weeks. Yay! Also, fuck you, Scalia.

• Supreme Court rules that the voters can choose to have independent committees determine their districts to prevent gross election-rigging gerrymandering. Yay! Also, fuck you, Scalia.

• Supreme Court rules that the EPA can't force companies to make expensive environmentally-friendly changes without somehow proving that the clean air and drinkable water are worth the expense. Uh, boo. Also, fuck you, Scalia.

• Supreme Court rules that Texas can't make abortion basically illegal before they decide whether or not to hear the case. Yay! Also, fuck you, Scalia.

• Supreme Court rules that if someone has been given the death penalty you can just inject any old shit into their veins and it's cool even if they linger for hours in pain. Uh, boo. Also, fuck you, Scalia. (I like the part where he snippily comments that if you can have your gay marriage then stop trying to take away our death penalty.)

So... 4 out of 6 ain't bad at all! I seem to be detecting some sort of trend here about a certain Supreme Court Justice. Maybe I should drive up to Philadelphia and order a tasty dish of Antonin Scalia Is A Douche for brunch to work these feelings out.
sincere: TOA: Ion hovers uncertainly (your eyes open ;;)
[personal profile] sincere
The inevitable result of all the conservative propaganda has happened.

After years of being told that racism is over and anyone who thinks they see racism is the real problem--
After years of rhetoric stating or implying that Blacks are thugs, rapists, criminals, and animals--
After years of hearing about how rap music, hoodies, and baggy pants are destroying our nation's youth--
After years of claiming that Obama and Al Sharpton are poisoning America with greedy attention-seeking claims of persecution--
After years of fear-mongering encouragement to protect themselves from the minority scourge that steals jobs, weapons, and influence from poor innocent WASPs--

A white man went into a historic Black church that was one of the forefronts of civil rights in South Carolina, murdered nine praying Christians including a state senator, said that "You people rape our women and are taking over our country and you have to go", and then left.

This is the American terrorism that the Republicans want to pretend doesn't exist: It's not about gangs. It's not about Muslims. It's not about the persecution of white people and their way of life. It's about white people who feel that having to acknowledge the humanity and rights of those who aren't like them is persecution.

It's white men with guns who listen to Fox News.

I am so angry at my country right now, and so, so sorry to the Charleston citizens and community that have to deal with the aftermath of this.

This story is still developing, so keep your eyes on the news.

Source: x, x, x
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[personal profile] sincere
In amusing news, the Washington Post discovered that the internet would rather Darth Vader be President than anyone currently running.

[This chart] plots favorability ratings from the latest Post-ABC News and Quinnipiac polls against a survey we did of Internet users about their feelings toward four of Hollywood's favorite villains. [...]

To put some context behind these numbers, I ran a few Google Consumer Survey questions on famous movie villains. I worded them as similarly as possible to the Post survey for maximum comparability, although to be clear: We are comparing fictional people/robots/animals/wizards with real ones here. [...]

Only one of the villains — Voldemort, the evil wizard from the Harry Potter series — has a lower favorability rating than some of the candidates. You'll recall that Voldemort killed Harry Potter's parents, fed his enemies to a giant snake, and tortured and killed muggles just for fun. But he's still polling better than Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum, Chris Christie and Donald Trump.

Click the source to see the best chart on the internet this week for yourself!

Source: x
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[personal profile] sincere
I'm so annoyed at this asshole. NY Times has an article up about Jeb Bush, who is maybe considering running for president he hasn't made up his mind yet.

His aides, trying to deflect attention from the reshuffling, said Monday that Mr. Bush would raise $100 million in the first six months of the year, a figure that they once waved off as unrealistic and that almost certainly will be higher than any other Republican contender.


[Jeb Bush's] aides say they believe the friction will subside with the change in leadership and with the cordoning off of Mr. Bush’s super PAC, which Mr. Murphy will run from Los Angeles. Last Thursday, the super PAC and the campaign team were formally separated; legally, once Mr. Bush is a candidate, the two entities cannot coordinate in any way.

While Mr. Bush has raised millions of dollars for the super PAC, he has yet to begin raising campaign dollars — limited to $2,700 per donor for the primary race.

It makes me so mad that this guy spent months campaigning while pretending not to be campaigning just so that he could raise tens of millions of dollars without technically violating the law, because the moment he declares his candidacy he A) can't work with his super PAC anymore, and B) is limited in the amount of donations he can take. That might be a great way to raise money, pal, but it's also a great way to lose respect. Don't think the voters don't see the transparently obvious thing you're doing there. He's not the worst candidate out there, but this feels real sleazy. Like his price tag is sticking out of his collar.

Via: x
sincere: KH: Xemnas and Xigbar talking (in cahoots ;;)
[personal profile] sincere
Saw a rare heartening article about Hillary's latest actions on The Washington Post.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton plans to call for an early voting period of at least 20 days in every state.

Clinton will call for that standard in remarks Thursday in Texas about voting rights, her campaign said. She will also criticize what her campaign calls deliberate restrictions on voting in several states, including Texas.

[...] Clinton and her allies claim the changes are aimed at narrowing the electorate in ways that benefit Republicans.

“This is, I think, a moment when we should be expanding the franchise,” Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta said in an interview. “What we see in state after state is this effort by conservatives to restrict the right to vote.”

The legal effort began late last month with lawsuits in Wisconsin and Ohio, both presidential battleground states.

“This lawsuit concerns the most fundamental of rights guaranteed citizens in our representative democracy — the right to vote,” lawyers wrote in a federal complaint filed Friday in Wisconsin.

It seems like Hillary's on the warpath, not shying away from putting the blame where it belongs, and I approve. These efforts to preserve voting rights (even going so far as to advocate automatic universal voter registration) are incredibly important. It's appreciated by those of us who have been affected by or frustrated by these voter ID laws that solve a completely fictitious problem but disenfranchise real people. Conveniently enough, they're people who are disproportionately poor, minorities, and either elderly or in their teens -- groups that might be interested in protecting some of their social programs and maybe even protecting the future of this country.

Which, of course, means they wouldn't vote Republican, which is the real reason why suddenly the GOP is so fierce to pass tons of laws to make the lives of citizens based on an alleged 31 cases of voter fraud out of over a billion votes. File this one under "Republicans love big government when it suits them."

Sourced: x
lizcommotion: Harry Potter in Gryffindor Robes holding a wand with a green glow (harry potter)
[personal profile] lizcommotion
Vox has a really good opinion piece from a black ex-cop about how police department culture can be determined by the attitudes of a few influential officers in each department.

According to the author, about 15% of cops are overtly racist and resort to brutality and charges of "resisting arrest", 15% want to actively pursue the right thing, and 70% could go either way. If the prevailing culture of a department is racist, then that middle ground 70% will probably do what ensures their job security. Same with if the culture is actually following the Bill of Rights, etc. as it applies to everyone.

It's a good read if anyone's interested, and ties in with a lot of sociological studies from post World War II about how good people can do terrible things if they are "just following orders."
sincere: TWEWY: Neku is annoyed by the crowd (get out of my face ;;)
[personal profile] sincere
The Jezebel article on this #BlameOneNotAll campaign really says it all.

Mintified is an Indian website devoted to “inspiring” and/or “viral” posts, using Upworthy-style, desperate headlines. You’ve never heard of it before, you’ll never read about it here again, and you’re only reading these words at this exact moment because of the thunderous trainwreck that is their latest effort: #BlameOneNotAll, a heartwarming series of photos about how not all men are rapists.

Mintified isn’t exactly socially progressive ([one post] calls homosexuality “a sickness”), but the #BlameOneNotAll campaign seems to have been an attempt to pat good men on the back for the hard work of not raping or domestically abusing anybody. From the post Mintified put on Facebook yesterday:

"We do agree that a woman has to go through a lot. The leering, the catcalls, the groping, the societal othering, the miasma of all this that women bear the brunt of every damn day. Every single day is a war to them. BUTGeneralizing the other gender, is not right.Not all men are rapists. Not all men abuse their significant others. Not all men actively oppress women. And these posters say it all. ‪#‎BlameOneNotAll‬"

The posters say things like "My favorite professor is a male and he doesn't show any inappropriate gesture" [sic] and I just. Congratulations?? He doesn't sexually assault his students?? "When my parents aren't around, my uncle doesn't make me feel uncomfortable." That should be the default. That's not something we should have to praise him for. No one praises you for brushing your teeth. It's just something you're expected to do. No one should have to praise you for NOT ASSAULTING WOMEN.

When MRAs and other such petty creatures say things like this, they are literally acknowledging that the lack of molestation is somehow remarkable. How about, instead of defending your professor from imaginary allegations of assault, you just assume that of course these allegations have nothing to do with your professor, because professors as a whole shouldn't sexually harass their students, and it NOT happening should be the norm, and when it does happen, a lot, that should be a problem.

The only way you can justify this kind of attitude is by saying that if I don't see it personally, it doesn't exist; literally invalidating the experiences of women and dismissing their rape as insignificant.

Source: x
lizcommotion: A black-and-white photo of a Victorian woman (victorian lady)
[personal profile] lizcommotion
This comic is a really quick, visual explanation for how institutional privilege works, and why "pulling yourself up by your bootstraps" is full of shit.

If you, say, ever need a handy thing to send to someone, or are tired of trying to explain in your own words.

Also brings out my own sadfeels. I know someone who has a felony drug charge and a HS diploma (which admittedly we could get into mandatory minimum sentencing and the incarceration system another time), and he has had an easier time finding work than friends of mine with a BA and clean record.

Guessing that's because he's white, male, cisgendered, straight, and his family is really helping him there are enough people in their social network that own businesses that they can help out by getting him into the employment system.

Not saying he shouldn't have access to work. Just saying that everyone should have access to work or at least basic necessities (maybe without demeaning drug tests or restrictions on food purchases), and maybe adjunct professors shoudn't have to rely on food stamps.
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[personal profile] sincere
The Internet is abuzz with celebration of Ireland's historic landslide vote to legalize gay marriage!

Though the official tally is still being taken, it appears that Ireland has voted overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage, the Associated Press reports. Leaders from both sides of the debate have said that the “Yes” voters won—the only thing left to determine is by how much.

“We’re the first country in the world to enshrine marriage equality in our constitution and do so by popular mandate. That makes us a beacon, a light to the rest of the world of liberty and equality,” Leo Varadkhar, a Cabinet minister who came out at the beginning of the campaign, told the AP. “So it’s a very proud day to be Irish.”

Voters in Dublin appear to have voted around 70 percent in support of same-sex marriage, Varadkhar said, and no districts—even in conservative, rural areas—have yet reported rejecting the measure.

“Obviously there’s a certain amount of disappointment, but I’m philosophical about the outcome,” David Quinn of the Iona Institute, a Catholic group that campaigned against same-sex marriage, told RTE. But there was nothing to be done about what was “obviously a very impressive victory for the ‘yes’ side.”

Congratulations to Ireland! 70% is an overwhelming majority. I'm also pleasantly surprised about the opposition's response -- it's so reasoned and civil. I guess America is doing the hard work of keeping all the hostile jerk religious nutjobs away from more reasonable countries.

Look out, homophobes! The next logical step is mandatory gay marriage.

Source: x, x, x
sincere: DGM: Lenalee's back to the viewer (Default)
[personal profile] sincere
It's a good thing this guy is never going to be President. According to Alternet, Mike Huckabee was his usual rational self today:

MAN: With the way things have gone, now I have arms that I only dreamed about in the past? Do you think the government should come in and limit what type of arms a person a law abiding person can purchase?

HUCKABEE: No because there's nothing in the Constitution that gives them the authority to do that.

MAN: We shouldn't have muskets (inaudible) we should have everything the military has?

HUCKABEE: We should have whatever we choose to have. Because it's a citizens right. The government shouldn't tell me what the limitations of my self-protection are. If somebody's going to break into my house I want to at least be as well-armed as they are if not better armed than they are. My plan is always to have a better arsenal to defend myself than they are going to have to try to attack me. So whatever I must do to do that. And I've been asked on many occasions, well how many firearms do you have. Well, the answer to that is none of your business. It's for me to know and for you to find out. But I'll put it this way I have more than one gun safe and I need them both. Phil Gramm once famously said [...] he said 'I have all the guns I need but not all the guns I want.

Setting aside that nameless guy who's been dreaming his whole life about the kinds of dangerous weapons he could own, and the statistical facts about how owning a gun makes you much more likely to kill yourself or your family or your neighbor and still not very likely to kill a criminal, Huckabee takes the radical stance here that all citizens have the right to wield tanks. In what universe does he imagine that only "good guys" have those weapons? How do people like this not see that they're entering into a very ugly Red Queen's race? When normal citizens are armed with semi-automatics, criminals will get automatics. When normal citizens have automatics, criminals will get weaponized drones. Hey, is everyone allowed to have weaponized drones? What about nuclear bombs? Should we tell Iran that everyone is entitled to nuclear bombs, no worries, it's all good here? Are inner city street gangs allowed to have grenades, since it's their right, or do rights not apply if you're "urban"?

This is not how safety operates. Especially since he would almost certainly say he's in favor of legislation to keep anyone with a record of jailtime from buying a gun. In the real world, if a dude walks into a McDonald's with a semi-automatic straps to his back, no one has any way of knowing if he is a "good guy" or a "bad guy". Unarmed people are terrified. Armed people are on edge. And people were already terrified of the first armed people.

No one wants to live in a society where literally everyone on the street is a finger movement away from murder.

As usual, the Onion nailed it with their article 'Man Always Carries Gun In Case He Needs To Escalate Situation'.

Via: x
lizcommotion: Harry Potter in Gryffindor Robes holding a wand with a green glow (harry potter)
[personal profile] lizcommotion
So this is not a happy story. The Thai shrimp industry, which is booming thanks to a global demand for cheap shrimp/prawns, relies heavily on human trafficking (i.e. slave labor). People work under hideous conditions for no pay to collect "trash fish", which is then used to feed farmed shrimp that are delivered to wealthier countries at low cost.

The Guardian has several very good stories, one of which is here, but warnings for stories about human trafficking not being particularly easy to read.

The basic issue is that unless people stop buying inexpensive shrimp that are produced via slave labor, there isn't an incentive for producers to stop these practices. Because profit > human suffering. Apparently the Thai government is looking the other way, and third party companies like to distance themselves by claiming they have no way to tell their contractors are using slave labor.

Things that can be done to help (if you have spoons):

  • Check the country of origin for shrimp/prawns you might buy, and don't buy ones sourced in Thailand

  • Write to manufacturers of or restaurants serving shrimp/prawn products and let them know you are concerned about human trafficking in the shrimp/prawn trade

  • Let other people know about the situation (if you can share with people who would be receptive to hearing about it; otherwise I personally find sharing with non-receptive people a quick path to burn-out)

  • Write letters to the Thai government or your own government about the need for more oversight
sincere: DGM: Lenalee's back to the viewer (Default)
[personal profile] sincere
Some good news today!

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles City Council voted 14-1 to raise of the city’s minimum wage, which will increase from $9 an hour to $15 an hour by 2020, The Washington Post reports. Similar legislation has recently passed in places like Seattle and San Francisco, but Los Angeles will be the largest city by far to adopt the $15 per hour base wage.

“Without a doubt, it was a very big victory,” labor leader Maria Elena Durazo told The L.A. Times.

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti—who is expected to soon sign the increase into law—also applauded the council’s vote.

As the second largest city in the USA, this is a huge deal. I'm excited for 2020 and the opportunity to see how all these $15 minimum wages turn out. So far conservatives have been quick to say "Everyone will probably evacuate Seattle and it will become a ghost town but even if it succeeds it'll only be because Seattle is so small!" Well, suck it up, my parents generic conservative straw men! Los Angeles is going to prove that minimum wage increases not only don't destroy a city, but they won't destroy its economy no matter how big it is.

Source: x


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