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Member since: Sat May 15, 2010, 03:48 PM
Number of posts: 7,258

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Watch Live NOW: Democrats Introduce Historic, Expansive LGBT Civil Rights Bill

Source: thenewcivilrightsmovement.com

Members of the House and Senate introduce the Equality Act, a comprehensive LGBT equality bill that could make history for millions of Americans.

Scheduled to begin at noon EDT.

Read more: http://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/davidbadash/watch_live_now_members_of_congress_introduce_historic_expansive_lgbt_civil_rights_bill

I posted this originally in GD (see http://www.democraticunderground.com/10027002662)

The entire video is worth watching, but John Lewis, at 15:45, is especially moving. Also, the testimonies of people who have been the victims of precisely the kinds of discrimination this bill would prohibit, in particular a lesbian couple, whose infant daughter was turned away from a pediatrician because of her parents' sexual orientation, at about 32:00. There are also fine speeches by, among others, Senators Jeff Merkley and Cory Booker, Steny Hoyer, Nancy Pelosi and Jerry Nadler.

The bill so far has over 155 co-sponsers, including 40 in the Senate. And the political timing is perfect, as it will put Republican opponents on the defensive as we enter the 2016 election season!
Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Jul 23, 2015, 03:27 PM (3 replies)

THIS IS HUGE! Members of Congress Introduce Historic, Comprehensive LGBT Non-Discrimination Bill

We can all be very proud of Congressional Democrats today! As one of the speakers at the news conference introducing the bill pointed out, the reality of last month's Supreme Court ruling permitting same-sex marriage is that in the majority of states, LGBTQ folks are now free to get a marriage license on Friday, get married on Saturday, and then get fired or evicted on Monday. This bill extends the already existing federal protections from discrimination based on race, sex, religion and ethnic heritage to LGBTQ persons. This law is needed. And it is long, long overdue!

Posted by markpkessinger | Thu Jul 23, 2015, 12:47 PM (17 replies)

NY Times Editorial: The Campaign of Deception Against Planned Parenthood

Superb editorial. Here is the text of a comment I posted to it. An excerpt of the editorial itself follows.

Mark Kessinger

I understand that many people, especially on the political right, have sincere and deeply held moral, ethical or religious objections to abortion. (Actually, many of us on the left have moral and ethical concerns as well, but simply believe it is a decision that must rest with the woman who will carry the child.) But if conservatives truly believe abortion should be illegal, then they should make that argument honestly and openly, and see if they can convince enough of their fellow citizens as to the moral truth of their position. The fact is most Republican legislators lack the guts to tackle the issue directly, so they continue to try to put into effect a de facto abortion ban, making it unavailable to women by attacking Planned Parenthood through thoroughly dishonest attacks such as this one, or by imposing outrageous and unnecessary requirements upon medical facilities that provide such services.

This entire stunt -- from the deceptively edited video, to the right-wing media's promotion of it, to Republican legislators' calls to defund and investigate Planned Parenthood -- is taken right out of the James O'Keefe/ACORN playbook. That infamous stunt, and the current one against Planned Parenthood both stand as illustrations of the right's political amorality and its thoroughgoing contempt for honest democratic process!

And here is the editorial itself:

[font size=6]The Campaign of Deception Against Planned Parenthood[/font]


A hidden-camera video released last week purported to show that Planned Parenthood illegally sells tissue from aborted fetuses. It shows nothing of the sort. But it is the latest in a series of unrelenting attacks on Planned Parenthood, which offers health care services to millions of people every year. The politicians howling to defund Planned Parenthood care nothing about the truth here, being perfectly willing to undermine women’s reproductive rights any way they can.

The nine-minute video clip released by the Center for Medical Progress, an outfit apparently created in 2013, invites viewers to “Hold Planned Parenthood accountable for their illegal sale of baby parts.” In it, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services, is seen discussing the collection of fetal tissue in a lunch meeting with two people posing as potential tissue buyers. A second video, released on Tuesday, shows another Planned Parenthood staff member discussing fetal tissue.

After the first video’s release, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky pledged to “introduce an amendment to pending Senate legislation to immediately strip every dollar of Planned Parenthood funding.” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas called for defunding and for “an investigation of Planned Parenthood’s activities regarding the sale and transfer of aborted body parts.” The House Energy and Commerce Committee is undertaking an investigation, and Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas and Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana have ordered investigations in their states.

The full video of the lunch meeting, over two hours long and released by the Center for Medical Progress after complaints by Planned Parenthood, shows something very different from what these critics claim. Clearly, the shorter version was edited to eliminate statements by Dr. Nucatola explaining that Planned Parenthood does not profit from tissue donation, which requires the clear consent of the patient. Planned Parenthood affiliates only accept money — between $30 and $100 per specimen, according to Dr. Nucatola — to cover costs associated with collecting and transporting the tissue. “This is not something with any revenue stream that affiliates are looking at,” she said. Under federal law, facilities may be reimbursed for costs associated with fetal tissue donation, like transportation and storage.

< . . . . >

Posted by markpkessinger | Wed Jul 22, 2015, 01:40 PM (47 replies)

The ever-obtuse Kathleen Parker

I often find Parker's obtuse musings to be annoying, but this one particularly so. Here is a comment I just posted to her Washington Post column, followed by an excerpt of the column itself.

4:35 PM EST
Public symbols are important, and the Southern Cross flag was a toxic one. It was long overdue to come down. But really, Ms. Parker, we are not even a month out from the racially-motivated killings of nine African Americans at the hands of a white supremacist in Charleston, and you're ready to declare a "new day" in South Carolina?

Perhaps you haven't noticed that there remains a not insignificant number of South Carolinians, and indeed of people across this country, who are furious that the flag has come down. Perhaps you haven't read about the effort by the Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives to amend a domestic appropriations bill to permit that same flag to be displayed in federal cemeteries. A statement such as this is almost as empty-headed as were statements after President Obama was elected that America was now a 'post-racial' society.

Sadly, your rush to proclaim a "new day in South Carolina" is all too typical of conservative whites in America, who will seize upon any small step in the right direction as evidence that problems of entrenched racism are behind us and need be given no further thought. That is, always has been and, for the foreseeable future will remain, a dangerous delusion!

Here is an excerpt of the column:

[font size=5]A new day in South Carolina as the Confederate battle flag comes down[/font]
[font size=3]By Kathleen Parker[/font]

The past may not be past, as William Faulkner put it. But it sure seems to be leaving.

As I watched the broadcast of the Confederate battle flag being brought down from its post on the South Carolina statehouse grounds Friday morning, my thoughts went to Gen. Robert E. Lee, who surely would have raised a toast to this new day.

< . . . . >

Friday’s ceremony in Columbia was brief, dignified and profoundly moving for the many gathered, as well as those watching from afar. Gov. Nikki Haley (R), surrounded by fellow officials and lawmakers, looked resplendent in a white suit that was reminiscent of a white flag offered in surrender and in peace. I don’t mean the South’s surrender to the North, or of the Sons of Confederate Veterans to the NAACP, which has fought for the lowering of the flag in South Carolina for more than 20 years.

< . . . . >

Adding to the layers of symbolism, it was Haley, an Indian American and the first female governor of the state, who called for the flag to come down. Although she once supported the flag as a part of history, Haley recognized the urgency of its removal as so many others finally did. It may have been overdue, as critics who never take a vacation will say, but it is done.

< . . . . >
Posted by markpkessinger | Sat Jul 11, 2015, 04:14 PM (10 replies)

Don't look now, but one of the chief justifications for the TPP may have just evaporated`

The supposed juggernaut of a Chinese economy has been cited as one of the biggest reasons why the TPP is a necessary deal. Well . . . not so fast. From the CNNMoney:

[font size=5]Nearly 25% of Chinese stocks have stopped trading[/font]

Over 700 Chinese companies have halted trading to "self preserve," according to the state media. That means about a quarter of the companies listed on China's two big exchanges -- the Shanghai and Shenzhen -- are no longer trading.

China's stock markets are in trouble. The Shanghai Composite Index has fallen over 25% since mid-June. The Shenzhen, which has more tech companies and is often compared to America's Nasdaq Index, is down even more.

The government has taken extraordinary steps to try to prevent further damage. The Chinese central bank made a surprise rate cut at the end of June. Then China's securities regulator stopped initial public offerings on the exchanges.

Over the weekend, over 20 of China's top brokerage firms publicly pledged to buy back stocks and funds in an effort to slow the downfall. The firms expect to spend at least 120 billion yuan (about $19.3 billion).

<. . . . >

Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Jul 7, 2015, 01:35 PM (11 replies)

So, about those shootings in Charleston. . .

. . . Seems as if they've completely fallen off the radar. We allowed ourselves to get so wrapped up in the Confederate flag issue, which, while important, does nothing substantive towards either combatting the underlying racism that led to the shootings, nor about addressing the proliferation of racial hate groups throughout the south, nor about the role played by the easy availability of guns. I posted something to Facebook last Wednesday about this:

I couldn't be more pleased to see the sudden push among a number of Southern states, and Southern Republican politicians, to begin considering the removal of symbols of the Confederacy from public grounds, flags, etc. Public symbols are important, and it is important that symbols used represent all of the citizens whom the government serves, and that they not show partiality towards a particular constituency. It is something that is long overdue, and none of the arguments made in defense of the continued display of those symbols stands up to historical scrutiny.

I am a bit concerned, though, that THIS conversation is being permitted to overtake and supplant the conversation we still very much need to have in the wake of the Charleston shootings: the conversation about the availability of guns to violent, troubled individuals. That remains a critical discussion, and one we continue to try to avoid. And I cannot help but wonder if the hope that the Confederate flag controversy will absorb much of the energy of the conversation about guns is what is driving the sudden change of heart by so many Republican politicians.

And it is looking more and more like my fears were founded. I see the entire, virtual overnight "come to Jesus" moment for Republicans on the Confederate flag issue as nothing more than a cynical ploy to both divert the public conversation away from the more substantive issues that need to be addressed, and at the same time to provide an opportunity for themselves to cast their party, in the eyes of younger voters, as not being the racists that in fact they are.

Much as I hate to admit it, we were totally outplayed on this one.
Posted by markpkessinger | Tue Jun 30, 2015, 12:28 PM (6 replies)

Watch out for this fake news website masquerading as The New York Times

I saw two articles in the past 24 hours posted on Facebook, from the domain "nytimes.com.co", by people who thought they were posting real news stories from the New York Times. I was suspicious, because both stories were ones might expect to find in a gossip column -- not the Times' usual fare. And sure enough, my suspicions were correct. This really cannot be called harmless parody, because the site is deliberately trying to deceive people into believing it is the New York Times. Beware!

[font size=5]Watch out for this fake news website masquerading as The New York Times[/font]

Jun. 29, 2015, 10:34 AM

Earlier today I noticed someone tweet a bizarre article. The headline read “Marcus Bachmann Cries ‘Call Me Caitlyn’ After SCOTUS Ruling,” and the story made sweeping allusions about the identity of Michele Bachman’s husband.

Even more bizarre, upon first glance it seemed to come from The New York Times — or at least that’s what the URL indicated.

But, it actually didn’t. This story came from another website: NYTimes.com.co., masquerading as The New York Times. Notice the extra ‘.co’ at the end of the URL there? It’s there specifically to trip you up.

The archives of this website — which admittedly does look like an elementary student coded it — show dozens of fake news articles. All of them are topical, not too outlandish to be completely discounted, and propagate intentionally misleading information.

< . . . . >

Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Jun 29, 2015, 06:05 PM (4 replies)


This is a great day for all New Yorkers! And we are all indebted to the tireless efforts of activists such as Josh Fox, the documentary filmmaker who made the films, "Gasland" and "Gasland II," which exposed the harm posed by the fracking industry!

[font size=5]Official fracking ban a watershed moment for New York[/font]
For Immediate Release

July 29,2015
Contact: Cliff Weathers, Communications Director
914-478-4501, Ext 239

Riverkeeper: DEC’s groundbreaking Findings Statement on fracking represents a watershed moment in the protection of New York’s communities and natural resources

OSSINING, N.Y. – The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released its widely anticipated Findings Statement on June 29, 2015, officially instating the ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking) that Governor Cuomo’s administration courageously announced back in December of 2014. The Findings Statement concludes: “Based on unavoidable adverse environmental impacts and uncertainty regarding the science surrounding high-volume hydraulic fracturing and its potential impacts to public health and the environment … high-volume hydraulic fracturing will be prohibited in New York State.” The DEC concluded that even a stringent regulatory program could not guarantee these impacts would be adequately mitigated.

Riverkeeper, after assessing the findings statement, has this statement from Kate Hudson, its Director of Cross Watershed Initiatives:

“This day will go down as one of the most important in New York’s history, when we witnessed our state government confirm that protecting the health and safety of all New Yorkers was the highest priority and would not be compromised for the interests of the oil and gas industry.

“We thank Governor Cuomo and the Departments of Health and Environmental Conservation for fulfilling the Governor’s promise to follow the science in order to make the right decision on fracking. The ban is firmly rooted in the scientific research gathered since 2009 – the vast majority of which identifies the threats that fracking poses to public health and the environment. The DEC’s Final SGEIS offers the most thorough scientific review to date of the potential impacts from high-volume hydraulic fracturing and should be used as a model for other jurisdictions contemplating the development of shale and other low-permeability gas reservoirs. We commend the DEC’s strong commitment to science in protecting New York’s communities and natural resources.

“The Findings Statement formalizes what the scientific evidence and the majority of citizens have made inescapably clear: fracking should and will have no place in the great state of New York.”
Posted by markpkessinger | Mon Jun 29, 2015, 04:07 PM (3 replies)

Had to share this response to Huckabee on gay marriage . . .

. . . This was posted on Facebook by none other than Nate Phelps, 'errant' son the the late and infamous Fred Phelps (who had the wisdom to flee his father's madness at the stroke of midnight on his 18th birthday and has never looked back):

Posted by markpkessinger | Sun Jun 28, 2015, 08:19 PM (7 replies)

A bit of gaysplaining for Chief Justice Roberts . . .

The Chief Justice says LGBT people have "lost, and lost forever: the opportunity to win the true acceptance that comes from persuading their fellow citizens of the justice of their cause." Um, okay . . I guess I have to do a bit of gaysplaining for you, Mr. Chief Justice . .

I know this may come as a shock to you, Justice Roberts, but I think I can safely speak for most LGBT folks when I say that for most of us, our world stopped revolving around giving a shit whether or not straight people 'accept' us or not. If they do, terrific, if they don't, oh well. And most of us learned a long time ago that the only people we can persuade about anything are those who are willing to be persuaded. And if it's all the same to you, most of us would prefer to enjoy the rights to which we are entitled now, rather than at some future, unspecified date when straight society has become secure enough, and is feeling magnanimous enough, to deign to treat us as fellow citizens of equal standing.

Your concern is duly noted, however.
Posted by markpkessinger | Sat Jun 27, 2015, 09:44 PM (27 replies)
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