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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Anti-abortion groups target IUD use

A rapid increase in the number of U.S. women turning to intrauterine devices to prevent pregnancy has prompted escalating attacks on the birth control method from groups that oppose abortion.

The next battle will be at the U.S. Supreme Court, which has agreed to consider a new religious challenge to contraceptives coverage under President Obama's healthcare law. Although the case deals broadly with whether religiously affiliated groups should be exempt from providing birth control coverage to their employees, some parties in the case have focused specifically on IUDs.

IUDs work primarily by preventing sperm from reaching an egg. But they have come under fire from anti-abortion groups because, in rare instances, they can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus. Those who believe that life begins at conception consider blocking implantation to be terminating a pregnancy rather than preventing pregnancy.

“IUDs are a life-ending device,” said Mailee Smith, staff counsel for the Americans United for Life, which filed an amicus brief in support of the challenge before the high court. “The focus of these cases is that requiring any life-ending drug is in violation of the Religious Freedom Act.”


Hillary the Hawk does it again: Asked about her Wall Street ties, Clinton again invoked 9/11


Hillary Clinton is by far the most hawkish of the Democratic presidential candidates. She supported the internationally illegal Iraq War; helped lead the NATO bombing of Libya, famously remarking “We came, we saw, he died” when Muammar Qadhafi was killed; oversaw the U.S. drone war, in which targets are assassinated without charge or trial; previously defended torture; and said in her 2007 campaign for president she would consider dropping nuclear bombs on militants in South Asia.

Although Clinton’s campaign and advocates may have tried to reduce the hawkish Freudian slip to a slip of the tongue, however, Hillary has yet again fallen back on the 9/11 attacks when asked about her ties to Wall Street.

In an interview with CBS released today, her first TV interview since the November 13 Paris attacks, Clinton defends both her hawkish positions and her closeness to Wall Street.

Host Charlie Rose asks, “Have you suffered from the fact that they say you are too close to Wall Street? Has that hurt your image, in your judgement, running for president?”

“I have stood for a lot of regulation on big banks and on the financial services sector. I also represented New York and represented everybody from the dairy farmers to the fishermen,” Clinton replied, adding, “And did I help rebuild after 9/11? Yes, I did.”

the rest

"All You Americans Are Fired"

MOULTRIE, Georgia — “All you black American people, fuck you all…just go to the office and pick up your check,” the supervisor at Hamilton Growers told workers during a mass layoff in June 2009.

The following season, according to a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, about 80 workers, many of them black, were simply told: “All you Americans are fired.”

Year after year, Hamilton Growers, which has supplied squash, cucumbers, and other produce to Wal-Mart and the Green Giant brand, hired scores of Americans, only to cast off many of them within weeks, according to the U.S. government. And time after time, the grower filled the jobs with foreign guest workers instead.

Although Hamilton Growers eventually agreed to pay half a million dollars to settle the suit, company officials said the allegations are baseless. Mass firings never happened, they said, nor did anyone use racially inflammatory language. But workers tell a different story.



John Bel Edwards will issue executive order protecting LGBT state employees

Gov.-elect John Bel Edwards plans to issue an executive order to protect the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community from firing, discrimination and harassment as state employees and government contractors.

Edwards' directive would cover state workers and government contractors in agencies and departments he oversees. But executive orders don't necessarily bind parts of state government outside the governor's control, such as the judiciary.

The Edwards' transition team did not provide a timeline for when the order might be issued, but the Democrat will be sworn into office Jan. 11. The governor-elect told NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune directly a few weeks ago that he planned to sign such a document after he takes office. Two LGBT advocacy groups said Edwards has made similar commitments to them as well.

"People deserve not to be fired from their jobs because of who they are," said Matthew Patterson, of Equality Louisiana, a LGBT advocacy group.

In most parts of Louisiana, it is still legal to fire someone for being gay or in a same-sex relationship. Only in New Orleans and Shreveport -- which have special local ordinances on the books -- are people prohibited from firing a person for being a member of the LGBT community.



Brandalism hijacks Paris ad space to target climate conference sponsors

UK group Brandalism has hijacked ad space at 600 bus stops in Paris, replacing official ads for brands including Air France and Volkswagen with fake ones criticising the companies’ environmental credentials. The group has also installed some provocative artwork targeting climate change and pollution…



MSF hospital in Syria hit by 'double-tap' barrel bombing

Source: Guardian UK

A hospital supported by Médecins Sans Frontières in Homs has been partially destroyed in a “double-tap” barrel bombing, a signature tactic of the Syrian air force.

The strikes on the hospital in Zafarana, a besieged town in northern Homs, killed seven people including a young girl, MSF said in a statement, and prompted the movement to nearby field hospitals of many wounded, some of whom died on the way.

Saturday’s strikes were the latest in an apparent pattern of escalating attacks on medical facilities and doctors in the Syrian civil war, according to human rights organizations.

MSF, which operates and supports a number of health centres and field hospitals in Syria, said the attack bore the hallmark of a double-tap strike, whereby the first bombing is followed by a second one after paramedics have arrived to help the victims. “This double-tap tactic shows a level of calculated destruction that can scarcely be imagined,” said MSF’s director of operations, Brice de le Vingne.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/01/syria-msf-hospital-homs-barrel-bombing

Jeff Sessions: No Major Hurricanes In Ten Years 'Thank The Lord'

Dismissing the threat of climate change yesterday, Sen. Jeff Sessions declared that no devastating hurricanes have hit the U.S. since Hurricane Katrina, “thank the Lord.”

The Alabama Republican appears to have forgotten events such as Superstorm Sandy, the 2012 hurricane that resulted in 285 deaths, and Hurricane Ike, which left 195 people dead, including at least 112 Americans, in 2008. After Katrina, Sandy and Ike were the second and third costliest storms, respectively, in U.S. history.

Sessions made his remarks on “Washington Watch,” the program hosted by Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. Discussing the upcoming climate change summit in Paris, Sessions insisted that there’s been “almost no warming” in the last 25 years and contested claims that climate change will increase the intensity and frequency of extreme weather events.

“Neither have we had more hurricanes,” he said. “We remember Katrina, I know you do and I do too being from Mobile, but we haven’t had a major hurricane hit the United States in a decade. Unbelievable. Thank the Lord. The predictions were we’d have more hurricanes and more devastating.”

Maybe Sessions doesn’t consider Sandy a “major hurricane”: After all, he voted against disaster relief aid to the people in affected areas, even though he has a record of requesting aid for his home state of Alabama.

- See more at: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/jeff-sessions-no-major-hurricanes-ten-years-thank-lord#sthash.U16mNwCy.dpuf

James Dobson Struggles To Explain Why Gay People Shouldn’t Be Stoned To Death

Televangelist Andrew Wommack invited James Dobson onto his “The Gospel Truth” program last week, where he asked the Focus on the Family founder how he responds to people who say “if you’re going to oppose homosexuality on what the Bible says, it also says that you’re supposed to stone them to death.”

“Do you believe in stoning them to death? Do you want to kill all homosexuals?” Wommack asked Dobson.

“I don’t,” Dobson responded, “and that’s a tough question, because that comes out of the Mosaic law but I don’t believe — You have to take the entire Bible and as far as I know there’s no place else in the Bible that tells us to kill those who don’t believe what we believe.”

This is not true, as Wommack pointed out before giving his own justification for why Christians can condemn gay people without killing them. “You know the Old Testament did say to kill a homosexual, to kill an adulteress, to kill a witch,” Womack said. “You had to kill them. And if your children were rebellious and didn’t respond the first time you corrected them, you had to bring them to the elders and let them kill them. And the way I respond to that is that in the Old Covenant people couldn’t be born again. They couldn’t have their nature changed the way that we can.”

Wommack said that there is no more need to kill people over homosexuality and adultery because “we now have a cure for it, through faith in Jesus.” He continued that sins such as homosexuality are like cancer, for which no cure can be found in the Old Testament. The only real “cure,” he explained, is to “deliver” people “through salvation through Jesus.”


Donald Trump Is Winning Because He Tells the Best Ghost Stories


MANCHESTER, N.H.—On Sunday night, it was the turn of New Hampshire's Democratic Party to hold its annual Slave Raper-Genocidal Madman Dinner. Katherine Prudhomme O'Brien stood with a small knot of like-minded individuals at a corner on Elm Street in downtown Manchester, just down the block from a huge and noisy gathering of Bernie Sanders supporters. They chanted. They sang. They cheered every chant and every song. O'Brien did not chant or sing. She held her sign against the gathering chill of the winter's evening.

"How many people remember? I think that's a good question," O'Brien said. "It's too bad. I still think it's relevant. I mean, just last week, Juanita Broaddrick released another letter saying that she thought Hillary Clinton was an enabler. And if she's an enabler in this rape situation, she's really betraying the core values of feminism, and I'm deeply offended by that.

"After the situation that happened with Bill Clinton and Juanita Broaddrick, Juanita Broaddrick went to a party that she couldn't get out of—it had something to do with the campaign—and she met Hillary Clinton there, who made a beeline for her and she grabbed her in a threatening manner. She believes she was threatened by Hillary Clinton."

It was as though, suddenly, there were spectral presences from the recent past, alive and dancing in and out of the glow of the newly draped Christmas lights. Juanita Broaddrick was the woman who accused Bill Clinton of having raped her. The allegation came out of the same Arkansas fever swamps that produced a number of stories about Clinton. She sat for an interview with Lisa Myers of NBC, and NBC sat on the interview until (among other dubious primates) Fox News shamed NBC into airing it. The interview popped in the middle of the extended and futile impeachment proceedings against Clinton. Broaddrick filed a lawsuit against Clinton that eventually was dismissed in 2001. Now, with Hillary Rodham Clinton running for president, the specter Juanita Broaddrick turns up on the campaign trail like Banquo's ghost. It is as though we are living through a ghost story.

Fabulism has become something of a conspicuous feature in this campaign. From Donald Trump's dancing Muslims on a rooftop in Jersey City to Ben Carson's buckle-foiled attempt to cut a motherfcker in his wayward youth, we seem to have crossed over an invisible border from the ordinary narrative bullshit that is customary to presidential campaigns into a strange shadowland in which bizarre (and easily—and, occasionally, previously—debunked) tales have come to define candidates, and to define them, if not positively, then not entirely in a negative way, either. To stick with your story about Muslims on the rooftops in the face of all the available evidence is a way to demonstrate that you "won't back down" or that you're not "politically correct." The logic seems to be that, if you stand firmly behind your hogwash, and the wilder the hogwash the better, then you will face down Vladimir Putin before breakfast and frighten Daesh to death just after lunch. Apparently, if you're bold enough to tell obvious lies in public, and then stick to those lies when you get called on them, you are brave enough to be president.

As with so many things, this all began with Ronald Reagan. Those people who claim that Donald Trump is sui generis in this regard are very much the same as those people who find him a unique political phenomenon, instead of the logical end product of almost 40 years of conservative politics. Reagan was as full of crap as the Christmas goose, and in the same way that Trump and Carson are. Trump has dancing Muslims. Reagan had the fictitious welfare queen in Chicago. Carson had his attempt to stab a classmate. Reagan had his march into Auschwitz to liberate the death camp there. The difference is that Reagan slung his hooey with a smile and a wink. Trump has weaponized Reagan's fabulism and that seems to make a difference to some people. But nothing that has happened in this campaign, up to and including the latest spasm of outright bigotry and fear-mongering, is new in the recent history of Republican politics. It always is the person who tells the best ghost stories who wins.



Obama’s quiet transgender revolution

By Juliet Eilperin

Years before the White House was lit in rainbow colors celebrating the Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage, President Obama used a routine bureaucratic tool that ended up drastically changing the government’s understanding of gender and how it can be changed.

The process began in Obama’s first year in office when he issued a June 2009 memo instructing agencies to extend some benefits enjoyed by the spouses of federal employees to same-sex couples. Over time, that directive eventually led to a decision by the Social Security Administration to significantly lower the threshold requirements for changing one’s gender on official government documents, a change that would determine how a person’s gender is recorded on passports, tax returns, marriage licenses and other forms.

Since June 2013, someone wishing to change their gender classification on their Social Security card has needed only provide a doctor’s note guaranteeing that “appropriate clinical treatment” was underway.

Before then, a person seeking to change their gender on had to undergo gender reassignment surgery, a hugely expensive and, many LGBT advocates and doctors say, unnecessary procedure for a transition to take place.

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