A citizen reporter who was at Wall Street this morning caught footage of officers from the New York Police Department (NYPD) dragging a protester through the street by her hair. The video was uploaded on CNN’s iReport. Watch it:
Later today, the House is expected to begin debate on a balanced budget amendment, with most of the amendment’s supporters hoping that it will impose sweeping and permanent austerity upon the United States. As ThinkProgress reported, if this amendment actually succeeded in balancing the budget entirely through spending cuts, it would “throw about 15 million more people out of work, double the unemployment rate from 9 percent to approximately 18 percent, and cause the economy to shrink by about 17 percent instead of growing by an expected 2 percent.” In other words, America would almost instantly suffer consequences that rival the Great Depression.
Yet, for those of us who are still old enough to remember when conservatives feared “activist judges,” the right’s recently invigorated obsession with writing fiscal policy into the Constitution is nothing less than bizarre. As Neil Kinkopf, a former constitutional advisor to the Clinton and Obama Administration explains, the most likely way to enforce this kind of amendment would be by requiring judges to strike down budgets that aren’t balanced — placing our fiscal policy in the hands the public officials who are least suited to make such decisions:
Our independent federal judiciary is highly skilled at deciding legal questions. It is not at all competent to make decisions of a political or policy nature. Judges are not, generally speaking, trained in matters of economics or finance. They have no special competency that would recommend committing such decisions to them. . . . Finally, legislators are politically accountable for their decisions. Judges are not and should not be. Decisions regarding how to achieve a balanced budget are precisely the type of decisions that involve will and not judgment, to use Hamilton?s phrase, and so should be made by accountable officials rather than judges.
Don’t trust former Clinton and Obamaistas? How about Robert Bork, the failed Supreme Court nominee who became the centerpiece of the legal conservative movement’s persecution complex? Here’s what he had to say about balanced budget amendments:
Also troubling is the problem of enforcing such a constitutional provision. In the early stages of discussion, a lot of people, including most economists, apparently thought this was no problem: if Congress exceeded the constitutional limits on spending, someone would sue. That much is true. The result, however, would likely be hundreds, if not thousands, of lawsuits around the country, many of them on inconsistent theories and providing inconsistent results. By the time the Supreme Court straightened the whole matter out, the budget in question would be at least four years out of date and lawsuits involving the next three fiscal years would be slowly climbing toward the Supreme Court.
Bork, of course, is right to be worried about the judiciary’s unfitness to balance the budget. If the Supreme Court strikes down the 2014 budget in 2016, what happens next? Does the government have to take back the money it already spent, and if so, how? And what does this do to America?s credit rating if every bill sent to the federal government is subject to reexamination by nine judges in black robes?
But, none of this will probably bother the kind of conservatives who now dominate Congress. They were willing to push America to the brink of fiscal implosion during the debt ceiling fight earlier this year. Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), a leading supporter of a balanced budget amendment, even admitted he wants America’s “house to come down” unless we agreed to his extortionist demand to rewrite the Constitution.
So conservative lawmakers have demonstrated time and time again through their actions that they don’t care one bit if their reckless tactics destroy the American economy. They have made absolutely clear, however, that they will never, ever vote to raise taxes on the rich, even though doing so is one of the least harmful ways to bring the budget closer to balance.
And that’s the real reason why conservatives in Congress would oppose the upcoming balanced budget amendment if they had any idea what it would actually entail — and it explains why the right-wing Heritage Foundation is already whining that this version of the amendment doesn’t do anything to save David Koch and Paris Hilton from paying more taxes.
Harold Meyerson says we should fear the job-killing impact of technological advance as driverless vehicles (for example) might reduce the demand for human labor. From the right, Howard Foster recently argued that rather than worry about robots crowding out human labor, we should worry about human crowding out human labor and deport immigrants to boost demand for domestic labor. Adam Ozimek observed in response to Foster, that by this logic a country can boost domestic prosperity by banning all imports of foreign goods.
A lot of political debate in the United States seems to me to take the form of people not understanding that these three proposals ? ban the goods, ban the human production inputs, and ban the capital production inputs ? are all basically the same. After all, nobody (I hope) thinks we should do all three of these things simultaneously. It is, however, true that they have full employment in Antarctica:
At any rate, if we could produce all the goods and services we need to sustain prosperous existence without anyone doing market production, then we’d all live in a communist utopia. If we needed a very tiny amount of market production, then there’d be no reason to believe that high taxes are reducing labor supply and we’d have super-high rates and we’d all live in a welfare state utopia.
On their way out of the governor’s office and onto the presidential campaign trail, aides to Mitt Romney almost completely obliterated their electronic records, deleting emails, purchasing hard drives, and replacing computers, a investigation by the Boston Globe found. ?The governor?s office has found no e-mails from 2002-2006 in our possession,?? an aide to the current governor, Deval Patrick, told the Globe. Meanwhile, 11 Romney aides — many of whom went on to work on Romney’s 2008 campaign — purchased their state-issued computer hard drives as they left state employment.
Like other states and the federal government, Massachusetts has a law that requires such files be preserved for the state archives. Moreover, Secretary of State William Galvin, who oversees the state Public Records Law, “said it appeared odd” that aides could purchases state property. ?I don?t sell things to people who work for me,?? Galvin said.
Asked why he purchased his hard drive for $65 just two weeks before leaving office, Romney’s chief legal counsel, Mark Nielsen, couldn’t explain, saying only that he followed the law:
?I?m confident that we complied with the letter and the spirit of the law,?? he added. When asked why he would want to purchase his hard drive, he said, ?Employees were given that option and it was my understanding that it was a longstanding practice in the governor?s office.??
When asked about replacing the remaining computers and wiping the server clean, he said, ?All I can tell you is we fully complied with the law and complied with longstanding executive branch practice. Nothing unusual was done.??
Romney aides point out that the state archives does have 700 to 800 boxes of paper records. But as the Huffington Post’s Jason Cherkis and others have reported, the paper records are a mess. “Not every document was necessarily put in order, nor even labeled,” making it almost impossible to find the comprehensive documents on almost anything. Said one reporter who has attempted to search the boxes: “My experience is, they were pretty careful about what they left behind. You’re welcome to it. It’s a ton of shit.”
JR: In February, a major study in Science that found the second ?100-year? Amazon drought in 5 years caused huge CO2 emissions. If this pattern continues, the forest would become a warming source. A new study in Science adds important insight (video below, original study here).
Cross-posted from the NASA website
By analyzing nearly a decade of satellite data, a team of scientists led by researchers from the University of California, Irvine and funded by NASA has created a model that can successfully predict the severity and geographic distribution of fires in the Amazon rain forest and the rest of South America months in advance.
Though previous research has shown that human settlement patterns are the primary factor that drives the distribution of fires in the Amazon, the new research demonstrates that environmental factors ? specifically small variations in ocean temperatures ? amplify human impacts and underpin much of the variability in the number of fires the region experiences from one year to the next.
“Higher than normal sea surface temperatures in the Atlantic and the Pacific proved to be red flags that a severe fire season was on its way in four to six months,” said Yang Chen, the University of California, Irvine, scientist who led the research. Chen and his colleagues found temperature changes of as little as .25°C (.45°F) in the North Atlantic and 1°C (1.8 °F) in the Central Pacific can be used to forecast the severity of the fire season across much of the Amazon.
The researchers believe that unusually warm sea surface temperatures cause regional precipitation patterns to shift north in the southern Amazon during the wet season. “The result is that soils don’t get fully saturated. Months later, humidity and rainfall levels decline, and the vegetation becomes drier and more flammable,” said James Randerson, a scientist at University of California, Irvine who co-authored the study.
To establish the connection between fire activity and sea surface temperatures the researchers analyzed nine years of fire activity data collected by Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer instruments (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites and compared the number of fires to records of sea surface temperatures maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Years with anomalously cool ocean temperatures had fewer fires, while years that experienced unusually warm ocean temperatures experienced more fires. The team also looked for and found changes in precipitations patterns as measured by the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM), a satellite managed jointly by NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA).
While a Columbia University-led study published in July of this year showed that sea surface temperatures in the Northern Atlantic could be used to forecast fire severity across the a small section of the western Amazon in Peru and Brazil, the new study considers a much broader swath of South America and takes into account how ocean temperatures in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans affect the continent’s fires.
The University of California, Irvine team also developed and validated an innovative computer model that they used to predict 2010 fire activity and could be used to forecast fire season severity in the future. The team’s model successfully predicted that prolonged drought and severe fires would occur during the 2010 fire season, which is exactly what happened.
“Fire activity can vary dramatically. Satellites detected about twice as many fires during 2010 as they did in 2009,” said Doug Morton, a scientist based at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. who coauthored the new study. The researchers have to wait a few more months before they can determine whether the model’s predictions for the 2011 fire season were also accurate.
“For the 2010 season, the model successfully captured not only the severity of wildfire activity, but it also got much of the east-west spatial distribution right,” said Randerson. By looking back at a full decade of data, the scientists noticed a distinctive pattern: fires in the southern and southwestern part of the Amazon were most strongly influenced by sea surface temperatures in the North Atlantic, but fires in the eastern part of the Amazon were strongly affected by sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific.
A number of different types of fires occur in the region, including fires for deforestation, agricultural management, and wildfires in savannas and tropical forests. In addition to successfully predicting the overall fire severity, the model also captured the variability in forest and savanna fires from one year to the next when considered separately.
The researchers are optimistic that the findings may help serve as the foundation of an early warning system for fires that would help South American authorities prepare for severe fire seasons. Morton noted an early warning system could play a critical role in helping authorities blunt the negative impacts of heavy fires years such as those the region has experienced in 2005, 2007, and 2010.
Fire activity is a growing concern in the Amazon, a humid region that would experience very few fires in the absence of human activity. “Deforestation rates in the Amazon have declined significantly in recent years due to government regulations, but fire activity has been holding steady and even going up in some areas due to increases in escaped agricultural fires,” said Ruth DeFries, a scientist at Columbia University, New York, and a co-author on the paper.
South American fires have a particularly important impact on climate. Fires from deforestation contribute about half of the carbon emissions from deforestation in South America and a recent analysis showed that for the continent creates about 15 percent of the worldwide carbon emissions from fires. Climate models predict that the region will receive less rainfall as climate change progresses, which would increase the risk of forest fires and lead to greater carbon emissions.
The study was published in the Nov. 11th edition of Science. Researchers from Duke University, Columbia University, and the University of Maryland are also coauthors on the study.
The new S&P Healthcare Economic Index shows that Medicare costs increased at an all time low of 1.97 percent, while commercial insurers saw growth of 8 percent over the 12-months ending September 2011:
?As we enter the fall, we continue to see the summer trends of a deceleration in the annual growth rates of Medicare costs, while those of commercial costs continue to moderately accelerate? says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices. ?The Composite Index posted an annual rate of +5.75%, the Commercial Index +8.03% and the Medicare Index +1.97%. With September?s data, both the Composite and Commercial Indices posted five consecutive months of accelerating annual growth rates. ?The three Medicare and the Professional Services indices saw a deceleration in their annual growth rates in September 2011; all other headline indices saw their annual rates increase. The Professional Services Index rate was +5.78%, down 0.05 percentage points from its August rate. The Medicare index was up 1.97%, which is not only a new low in this series? almost seven-year history, but is now less than one fourth the +8.02% high rate it posted in November 2009. The Economic Hospital Medicare index posted a new low annual growth rate of +0.71%, well below its August 2009 highest rate of +8.30%.
Last month, HHS announced that the annual increases in premiums for seniors in Medicare Part B will be somewhat lower than expected and attributed the change to ?historically low healthcare utilization rates, due in part to the health reform law?s investment in prevention; and the 3.6 percent Social Security cost-of-living hike announced earlier this month.? Comparatively, premiums in employer-sponsored health insurance market increased more than expected ? by 9 percent ? despite the historically low utilization rates (a result of the recession). As Austin Frakt has explained, the causes of premium changes are somewhat complex, but it makes one wonder about the wisdom of the GOP?s plan to shift seniors from Medicare into private coverage. At the very least, this comparison isn?t very flattering for private insurers or their abilities to control health care spending.
by Bill McKibben, in a re-post from TomDispatch.com
Conventional wisdom has it that the next election will be fought exclusively on the topic of jobs. But President Obama?s announcement last week that he would postpone a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline until after the 2012 election, which may effectively kill the project, makes it clear that other issues will weigh in ? and that, oddly enough, one of them might even be climate change.
The pipeline decision was a true upset. Everyone ? and I mean everyone who “knew” how these things work ? seemed certain that the president would approve it. The National Journal runs a weekly poll of ?energy insiders? ? that is, all the key players in Washington. A month to the day before the Keystone XL postponement, this large cast of characters was ?virtually unanimous? in guaranteeing that it would be approved by year?s end.
Transcanada Pipeline, the company that was going to build the 1,700-mile pipeline from the tar-sands fields of Alberta, Canada, through a sensitive Midwestern aquifer to the Gulf of Mexico, certainly agreed. After all, they?d already mowed the strip and prepositioned hundreds of millions of dollars worth of pipe, just waiting for the permit they thought they?d bought with millions in lobbying gifts and other maneuvers. Happily, activists across the country weren?t smart enough to know they?d been beaten, and so they staged the largest civil disobedience action in 35 years, not to mention ringing the White House with people, invading Obama campaign offices, and generally proving that they were willing to fight.
No permanent victory was won. Indeed, just yesterday Transcanada agreed to reroute the pipeline in Nebraska in an effort to speed up the review, though that appears not to change the schedule. Still, we’re waiting for the White House to clarify that they will continue to fully take climate change into account in their evaluation. But even that won’t be final. Obama could just wait for an election victory and then approve the pipeline ? as any Republican victor certainly would. Chances are, nonetheless, that the process has now gotten so messy that Transcanada?s pipeline will die of its own weight, in turn starving the tar-sands oil industry and giving a boost to the global environment. Of course, killing the pipeline will hardly solve the problem of global warming (though heavily exploiting those tar sands would, in NASA scientist James Hansen?s words, mean ?game over for the climate.?)
In this line of work, where victories of any kind are few and far between, this was a real win. It began with indigenous activists, spread to Nebraska ranchers, and eventually turned into the biggest environmental flashpoint in many years. And it owed no small debt to the Occupy Wall Street protesters shamefully evicted from Zuccotti Park last night, who helped everyone understand the power of corporate money in our daily lives. That these forces prevailed shocked most pundits precisely because it?s common wisdom that they?re not the sort of voters who count, certainly not in a year of economic trouble.
In fact, the biggest reason the realists had no doubts the pipeline would get its permit, via a State Department review and a presidential thumbs-up of that border-crossing pipeline, was because of the well-known political potency of the jobs argument in bad economic times. Despite endless lazy reporting on the theme of jobs versus the environment, there were actually no net jobs to be had from the pipeline. It was always a weak argument, since the whole point of a pipeline is that, once it’s built, no one needs to work there. In addition, as the one study not paid for by Transcanada made clear, the project would kill as many jobs as it would create.
The Washington Post?s Juliet Eilperin and Steven Mufson finally demonstrated this late in the game with a fine report taking apart Transcanada?s job estimates. (The 20,000 jobs endlessly taken for granted assumed, among other stretches, that modern dance troupes would move to Nebraska, where part of the pipeline would be built, to entertain pipeline workers.) Still, the jobs trope remained, and you can be sure that the Chamber of Commerce will run 1,000 ads during the 2012 presidential campaign trying to hammer it home. And you can be sure the White House knew that, which was why it was such a tough call for them ? and why the pressure of a movement among people whose support matters to them made a difference.
Let?s assume the obvious then: that one part of their recent calculations that led to the postponement decision might just be the suspicion that they will actually win votes thanks to the global-warming question in the next election.
For one thing, global warming denial has seen its apogee. The concerted effort by the fossil-fuel industry to underwrite scientific revision met its match last month when a team headed by Berkeley skeptic and prominent physicist Richard Muller ? with funding from the Koch Brothers, of all people ? actually found that, what do you know, all the other teams of climate-change scientists were, um, right. The planet was indeed warming just as fast as they, and the insurance companies, and the melting ice had been insisting.
Still, scientific studies only reach a certain audience. Weird weather is a far more powerful messenger. It?s been hard to miss the record flooding along the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, and across the Northeast; the record drought and fires across the Southwest; the record multi-billion dollar weather disasters across the country this year; the record pretty-much everything-you-don?t-want across the nation. Obama certainly noticed. He?s responsible for finding the cash every time some other state submerges.
As a result, after years of decline, the number of Americans who understand that the planet is indeed warming and that we?re to blame appears to be on the rise again. And ironically enough, one reason may be the spectacle of all the tea-partying GOP candidates for the presidency being forced to swear fealty to the notion that global warming is a hoax. Normal people find this odd: it?s one thing to promise Grover Norquist that you?ll never ever raise taxes; it?s another to promise that you?ll defeat chemistry and physics with the mighty power of the market.
Along these lines, Mitt Romney made an important unforced error last month. Earlier in the primaries, he and Jon Huntsman had been alone in the Republican field in being open to the idea that global warming might actually be real. Neither wanted to do anything about it, of course, but that stance itself was enough to mark them as realists. It was also a sign that Romney was thinking ahead to the election itself, and didn?t want to be pinned against this particular wall.
In late October, however, he evidently felt he had no choice but to pin himself to exactly that wall and so stated conclusively: ?My view is that we don?t know what?s causing climate change on this planet.? In other words, he not only flip-flopped to the side of climate denial, but did so less than six months after he had said no less definitively: ?I don?t speak for the scientific community, of course, but I believe the world?s getting warmer? And number two, I believe that humans contribute to that.? Note as well that he did so, while all the evidence, even some recently funded by the deniers, pointed the other way.
If he becomes the Republican presidential candidate as expected, this may be the most powerful weathervane ad the White House will have in its arsenal. Even for people who don?t care about climate change, it makes him look like the spinally challenged fellow he seems to be. But it?s an ad that couldn?t be run if the president had okayed that pipeline.
Now that Obama has at least temporarily blocked Keystone XL, now that his team has promised to consider climate change as a factor in any final decision on the pipeline?s eventual fate, he can campaign on the issue. And in many ways, it may prove a surprise winner.
After all, only people who would never vote for him anyway deny global warming. It?s a redoubt for talk-show rightists. College kids, on the other hand, consistently rank it among the most important issues. And college kids, as Gerald Seib pointed out in the Wall Street Journal last week, are a key constituency for the president, who is expected to need something close to the two-thirds margin he won on campus in 2008 to win again in 2012.
Sure, those kids care about student loans, which threaten to take them under, and jobs, which are increasingly hard to come by, but the nature of young people is also to care about the world. In addition, independent voters, suburban moms — these are the kinds of people who worry about the environment. Count on it: they?ll be key targets for Obama?s presidential campaign.
Given the economy, that campaign will have to make Mitt Romney look like something other than a middle-of-the-road businessman. If he?s a centrist, he probably wins. If he?s a flip-flopper with kooky tendencies, they?ve got a shot. And the kookiest thing he?s done yet is to deny climate science.
If I?m right, expect the White House to approve strong greenhouse gas regulations in the months ahead, and then talk explicitly about the threat of a warming world. In some ways it will still be a stretch. To put the matter politely, they?ve been far from perfect on the issue: the president didn?t bother to waste any of his vaunted ?political capital? on a climate bill, and he?s opened huge swaths of territory to coal mining and offshore drilling.
But blocking the pipeline finally gave him some credibility here — and it gave a lot more of the same to citizens’ movements to change our world. Since a lot of folks suspect that the only way forward economically has something to do with a clean energy future, I?m guessing that the pipeline decision won?t be the only surprise. I bet Barack Obama talks on occasion about global warming next year, and I bet it helps him.
But don?t count on that, or on Keystone XL disappearing, and go home. If the pipeline story (so far) has one lesson, it?s this: you can?t expect anything to change if you don?t go out and change it yourself.
The Street TV interviewed Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) about a variety of topics in an interview posted today. Towards the end of the segment, the interviewer asked Quinn about Occupy Wall Street and Occupy Chicago. “I think it’s healthy,” replied Quinn. “I think it’s very important sometimes to walk, to assemble, to use the power of speech, press, that’s the American way. It’s very healthy I think to have people let Wall Street know that some mistakes were made in the past that hurt a lot of Americans, we’re not going to let them do it again.” Watch it (skip to 2:28):
Republican presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman flirted with the notion of preventative war against Iran last month in his foreign policy speech. But in an interview with CNN’s Pierce Morgan last night, Huntsman argued that sanctions “aren’t going to have much of an impact” and suggested that military action might be the only way to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
Huntsman’s comment, which comes as the U.S. faces difficulty in gaining U.N. Security Council support for another round of even more punitive sanctions, is perhaps the most hawkish position taken by a GOP presidential candidate. His position removes the crucial caveat, which most Iran-hawks embrace, that military action should only be taken if sanctions fail.
His dismissal of sanctions as an effective tool for deterring or slowing Iran’s alleged nuclear weapon’s program disregards a May U.N. report confirming that sanctions have slowed Iran’s nuclear program. More importantly, his statements would seem to suggest that a Huntsman Presidency would commit itself to preemptive military action against Iran.
Read the transcript:
MORGAN: What is the right way to deal with Iran if they are going to flagrantly ignore any form of international community opinion on this?
HUNTSMAN: Well I think that’s exactly what’s going on. You can layer sanction upon sanction and I think in the end the sanctions aren’t going to have much of an impact. Sanctions have already been taken to the U.N. Security Council. You can go for another round of sanctions and that probably should be tried. You can go after their state bank. You can sanction the elite. You can sanction those travelling in and out. You can tighten the noose in ways that will make life a lot more difficult from an economic standpoint. But my sense is that their ultimate aspiration is to become a nuclear power, in which case sanctions probably aren’t going to get you there. And that means [it's] likely we’re going to have a conversation with Israel at some point. As we approach that point it’s important for the United States to remind the world what it means to be a friend and ally of the United States. [...]
The conclusion that a “conversation with Israel” is inevitable, would appear to be a reference to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent saber-rattling against Iran and the belief held by many Iran-hawks that if the U.S. doesn’t act militarily against Iran, Israel will attack unilaterally.
Huntsman came under fire this summer when Politico reported on his family’s business dealings in Iran and his brother’s opposition to sanctions. Peter Huntsman said, “By not doing trade with Iran, are we hurting people that are reaching out for western business?” Having all but declared the failure of sanctions and described war with Iran as a virtual inevitability, Huntsman may have successfully beaten back the accusations that he is too moderate on Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) is one of many Republican politicians swept into office last year promising to focus on job creation. Many of those Republicans, Walker included, have instead relentlessly pushed a conservative social agenda and policies that destroy jobs.
After months of union-busting and eliminating public sector jobs, Walker is now focused on his latest “jobs” idea: forcing public schools to teach abstinence-only sex education, Mother Jones reports:
[W]alker and the GOP-led Legislature have a plan: First, they curtailed collective-bargaining rights and threatened to lay off government workers, including teachers, cops, and firefighters. Then Walker called a special jobs-focused session of the Legislature, which he dubbed “Back to Work Wisconsin,” to pass even more “job-creating” laws. At the top of the jobs agenda? Gutting the state’s sex ed standards and replacing them with abstinence-only education.
A bill launched during Walker’s jobs session and nearing passage in the Legislature would repeal significant portions of the state law that requires schools to provide comprehensive, scientifically accurate, and age-appropriate sex ed. [...]
Republicans hold big majorities on the education committee and the Assembly overall, so the bill is expected to pass easily.
Multiple studies have confirmed that abstinence-only education does not decrease sexual activity among teens, but alarmingly reduces the number of teens who have safe sex. Virginity pledge programs increase pledge-takers? risk for sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancy. Yet social conservatives continue to insist it’s the only morally acceptable sex curriculum. Abstinence-only programs jeopardize public health, and substitute religious dogma for science and sound policy.
The Healthy Youth Act just took effect this school year, and has been hailed as “an incredible public health victory in the state,” in the words of Sara Finger, executive director of the Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health. Yet Wisconsin Republicans want to remove requirements that schools teach about “the health benefits, side effects, and proper use of contraceptives.” The repeal legislation also nixes the recommendation that schools teach about “puberty, pregnancy, parenting, body image, and gender stereotypes.”
The new law would require instructors to “identify the skills necessary to remain abstinent” for their students. It does not specify what those “skills” might be, but Tamara Grigsby, the Democratic assemblywoman who wrote the Healthy Youth Act, puts it bluntly: teenagers are “having sex, whether we like it or not. I would hope that a responsible public policy would be to give them comprehensive and accurate information about how to protect themselves rather than pretending it’s not happening.”
Kate Sheppard notes that at a Wisconsin Right to Life convention, Walker praised a district attorney who claimed that teachers who taught the new curriculum were promoting the “sexualization?and sexual assault?of our children.” The DA also threatened those teachers with criminal charges.