A day after Virginia House Speaker William Howell (R), former national chairman and current national board member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), berated a woman, he apologized for his outrageous behavior. In a statement, Howell said “I responded to a series of questions from Anna Scholl, Executive Director of ProgressVA, in a manner that was not consistent with my own standards of civility or reflective of the way I believe discussions over public policy disagreements should be conducted. I have since called Ms. Scholl and offered my sincere and heartfelt apology for my comments to her.”
Sixty-nine percent of Transgender Latina Women reported having been verbally harassed, physically assaulted or sexually assaulted by a law enforcement personnel, a new report conducted by the Williams Institute reveals. Of these, only 31 percent admitted to having lodged a report or complaint. The report, ?Interactions of Latina Transgender Women with Law Enforcement,? interviewed 220 Latina male-to-female transgender individuals, 18 years and older, and discovered that police officers accounted for the majority of negative reactions reported, representing 56 percent of all verbal harassment cases, and 16 and 15 percent of all reported physical and sexual assaults respectively. When asked whether they had ever been solicited for sex by a police officer or other law enforcement personnel, 42 percent responded in the affirmative.
House Republicans have already shown that they’re willing to sacrifice health care, food stamps, and education upon the altar of deficit reduction in their latest budget. Now financial regulation can be added to the list, courtesy of a proposal unveiled today by the House Financial Services Committee today.
House Republicans on that committee — which has become the second most lucrative committee for fundraising — today released their plan to come up with the cuts mandated by the budget authored by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI). Their proposed cuts include:
– ELIMINATING RESOLUTION AUTHORITY: This is a power included in the Dodd-Frank financial reform law of 2008 that allows the government to dissolve a failed financial firm without resorting to the ad hoc bailouts of 2008. Ryan explicitly called for its repeal in the budget, even though it would leave the government powerless to act should another big bank bring the economy to the brink of disaster, other than handing it a bailout.
– ELIMINATING FORECLOSURE PREVENTION PROGRAM: The Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) has undoubtedly fallen woefully short of its goals, reaching far fewer homeowners than it was supposed to. But House Republicans want to eliminate it entirely, even with 3.6 homeowners estimated to go into foreclosure in the next two years.
– CUTTING THE CONSUMER PROTECTION BUREAU’S BUDGET BY TWO-THIRDS: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a budget of just shy of $600 million for fiscal year 2013. House Republicans propose , even as the agency begins reining in abuses in the student loan and home mortgage industries.
House Republicans have been trying to water down Dodd-Frank ever since it passed. This budget proposal from the Financial Services Committee is just the latest round in the effort to ensure that the committee follows its chairman’s order to “serve the banks.”
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development gives out $8 million to about 250 organizations nationwide annually. But under pressure from conservative Catholics, the Catholic Church has been cutting off aid to organizations that are even slightly connected to an issues that disagrees the church’s teaching.
For example, it cut off thousands of dollars to a small Colorado nonprofit that provides access to health care and other basic services for immigrants because the organization had joined “an immigrant rights coalition that had joined forces with a statewide gay and lesbian advocacy group.” And recently, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement saying that the Catholic Church should have a right to impose its values on fellow citizens ?for the common good,” like cutting off funds to groups with which the church disagrees.
Now, it looks like a Baptist organization is doing the same. A Baptist health ministry in Georgia has withdrawn thousands in grant funding to a women’s health clinic because of what health care the clinic offers:
The Women of Worth clinic?s main goal is to provide Pap smears and cervical cancer screenings for women who cannot afford them ? it does not provide abortions, said Executive Director Marilyn Ringstaff.
When a representative from the Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry Foundation called last year during the application process for a $42,000 grant to ask if they were an abortion clinic, a volunteer told them ?no,? she said.
But they do offer the morning after pill.
And when an unidentified pastor saw that the Baptist group had awarded WOW the grant he called the Georgia Baptist Health Care Ministry, accusing the local clinic of providing abortions, she alleged.
On Tuesday, Ringstaff received a letter from Will Bacon, vice president of development for the ministry, officially rescinding the grant offer.
The morning after pill, which prevents ovulation and fertilization to prevent a pregnancy, is in no way the same thing as RU-486, the pill that disrupts an already established pregnancy, and Ringstaff said she explained this to representatives from the Baptist ministry. But the group is still asking for the money to be returned because the clinic clinic provides the medication.
Ringstaff said the funds would have helped staff the clinic, which has been run by volunteers since 2008.
Yesterday was consumed with our buying a new car. Our '95 Saturn gave up the ghost last weekend and prolonged renting of a car didn't seem like the best deployment of our financial resources, so Debbie's brother freed up some funds from Debbie's[...]
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Yesterday North Korea decided to test one of the long range missiles and the result was a disaster for the despots ruling the small impoverished country. The rocket disintegrated soon after it launched. In a rare public admission of failure, the North[...]
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Add CISPA to the list.Judging by the Twitter feed of the House Intelligence Committee this week, free and open Internet advocates have another fight on our hands. Right on the heels of the SOPA debacle comes the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a bill that many are calling worse than SOPA. Here's some quick background from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which warns we're seeing another overly broadly written bill that "could have dire consequences for our Internet ecology."
The [bill] allows companies or the government free rein to bypass existing laws in order to monitor communications, filter content, or potentially even shut down access to online services for ?cybersecurity purposes.? Companies are encouraged to share data with the government and with one another, and the government can share data in return. The idea is to facilitate detection of and defense against a serious cyber threat, but the definitions in the bill go well beyond that.[...]"Cybersecurity" actually isn't defined in the bill. By leaving that term completely open, it can and does include intellectual property, or as EFF says, "a little piece of SOPA wrapped up in a bill that?s supposedly designed to facilitate detection of and defense against cybersecurity threats." We've got another bill that would give ISPs the power to monitor the communications of their customers for intellectual property infringement. Not for threats to take down wide swaths of the Internet. Not for threats to hack into the Pentagon's weapons systems servers. But threats to violation someone's copyright. That's the broad definition of "cybersecurity."
Under the proposed legislation, a company that protects itself or other companies against ?cybersecurity threats? can ?use cybersecurity systems to identify and obtain cyber threat information to protect the rights and property? of the company under threat. But because ?us[ing] cybersecurity systems? is incredibly vague, it could be interpreted to mean monitoring email, filtering content, or even blocking access to sites. A company acting on a ?cybersecurity threat? would be able to bypass all existing laws, including laws prohibiting telcos from routinely monitoring communications, so long as it acted in ?good faith.?
The broad language around what constitutes a cybersecurity threat leaves the door wide open for abuse. For example, the bill defines ?cyber threat intelligence? and ?cybersecurity purpose? to include ?theft or misappropriation of private or government information, intellectual property, or personally identifiable information.?
SOPA attacked the First Amendment, CISPA attacks the Fourth, according to the experts.
"It's a completely different issue [than SOPA]," says Jim Dempsey, vice president for public policy at the Center for Democracy and Technology. "This is about government monitoring. [SOPA] is about the First amendment, [CISPA] is about the Fourth, but they both take a legitimate problem and try to tackle it with an overbroad solution."So here we go again, having a Congress with a poor grasp on technology and how the Internet works trying to regulate it with a sledgehammer, while giving the intelligence community?and private businesses?essentially free rein to delve into any citizen's everyday Internet activity. The PATRIOT Act already gives the government that power. Should private companies be in on the act, too?
The House is expected to take up a vote on this bill the week of April 23, so back to your Internet freedom battle stations, and watch this space.
Did Mitt's lady issues adviser tell him to bring this back up? (Jeff Haynes/Reuters)Presenting the encore to Mitt Romney's #fauxtrage at @hilaryr:
In a speech to the National Rifle Association Friday, likely GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney waded back into the contraception wars, attacking President Obama?s health care provision requiring employers, including religiously affiliated groups, to provide contraceptive coverage to female employees ? a requirement Romney vowed to repeal.Romney's anti-birth control pledge:
As President, I will follow a very different path than President Obama. I will be a staunch defender of religious freedom. The Obamacare regulation is not a threat and insult to only one religious group - it is a threat and insult to every religious group. As President, I will abolish it.Apparently, going after birth control coverage is the fourth prong of Mitt Romney's three-prong strategy to win back the ladies. And I can't think of a better way for him to prove that we were right when we said there is a war on women.
Mitt vaguely calls it the "Obamacare regulation," but let's be clear: the regulation does not require religious institutions to provide birth control to their employees. What it says is that birth control is a preventive medicine and like every other preventive medicine it must be covered without copay by every insurance plan in the country except for churches.
If Mitt Romney abolished it, he wouldn't be expanding freedom for a damn soul?but he would be taking away access to birth control coverage for millions of women.
Romney wades back into the contraception fight at the NRA convention ... with some key omissions. [...]
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