Thursday, March 26, 2009
WASHINGTON — Most food manufacturers and distributors cannot identify the suppliers or recipients of their products despite federal rules that require them to do so, federal health investigators have found.
A quarter of the food facilities contacted by investigators as part of the study were not even aware that they were supposed to be able to trace their suppliers, according to a report by Daniel R. Levinson, the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services. (read full article)
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Monday, March 23, 2009
Political Intelligence Reports:
Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, one of a handful of openly gay members of Congress, says he believes that Congress will soon pass laws protecting transgender people from hate crimes and granting them benefits and that President Obama will this year overturn the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gay members of the military.
But he told the website gay365.com that he doubts that the law defining marriage as between a man and a woman will be overturned. And Frank said he doesn't believe the Supreme Court will overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, either, using a harsh description of Justice Antonin Scalia.
"I wouldn't want it to go to the Supreme Court now because that homophobe Antonin Scalia's got too many votes on this current court," Frank said...
Sunday, March 22, 2009
HRC is organizing petitions against Ken Star:
To: Ken Starr, Lead Counsel defending Proposition 8 before the CA Supreme Court
Your attempt to nullify the marriages of 18,000 loving couples in California is misguided and malicious. The rights of a minority should never be stripped by a simple majority vote, and the idea that divorcing parents could help the welfare of children is disgusting. History will condemn your actions.
In other news, I have been out of the country and am glad to get back to blogging :)
Saturday, March 14, 2009
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration said Friday that it is abandoning one of President George W. Bush's key phrases in the war on terrorism: enemy combatant The Justice Department said in legal filings that it will no longer use the term to justify holding prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
But that's won't change much for the detainees at the U.S. naval base in Cuba — Obama still asserts the military's authority to hold them. But his Justice Department says that authority comes from Congress and the international laws of war, not from the president's own wartime power as Bush had argued.
Busy busy busy. More thoughts later
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Personally, I went from re-usuable bags to re-usable water bottles to re-usable coffee thermoses to veganism to packing forks to school etcetera. Each step helped me happily find and transition to the next.
Speaking of the next step, I have mad a vow to give up frozen vegetables. The energy it takes to freeze vegetables and keep them that way is just wasteful if it can be avoided--especially when frozen veggies do not absorb flavor as well when cooked, taste as yummy as fresh veggies, or retain as many nutrients.
Better yet, the process of picking out a wide variety of colorful fresh vegetables is just joyous--I can't believe I wasn't attracted to it sooner. Chopping and taking the time to prepare a truly healthy meal is relaxing and mindful.
It's only been two days, but I am LOVING the change.
(Note: I have not given up frozen veggie burgers. Perhaps one of these days I will figure out how to make my own. However, I do want to start making my own protein bars. More on that project when the laboratory phase begins)
Monday, March 9, 2009
Anyhow, I hope you all can take some time to reflect on how far women have come toward more equal enfranchisement. I myself will be brooding over ways that The Colonic and I can celebrate.
Despite the fact that Yucca Mountain is over 20 years late in its completion (at the earliest), and despite the geological limits of the site due to fault lines and volcanic activity, the Department of Energy wants to expand Yucca Mountain as a repository for nuclear waste.Enter Barack Obama. His budget cuts off most funding to Yucca Mountain. The New York Times reports:
Not to mention the government told utility companies it would begin dumping their waste in 1998, and began collecting from them of one-tenth of a cent per kilowatt-hour generated at their reactors. Alas, it is 2008 and the repository is not ready, leaving the United States with a tab of 11 billion dollars or more in commercial damages.
Lawyers are predicting tens of billions of dollars in damage suits from utilities that must pay to store their wastes instead of having the government bury them, with the figure rising by about a half-billion dollars for each year of additional delay.
The courts have already awarded the companies about $1 billion, because the government signed contracts obligating it to begin taking the waste in 1998, but seems unlikely to do so for years. The nuclear industry says it may demand the return of the $22 billion that it has paid to the Energy Department to establish a repository, but that the government has not yet spent.
What a catastrophe. Basically Yucca Mountain has cost billions to build thus far, billions in compensation for its inability to be completed 20 years after its target deadline, and billions to cut off.
And nuclear energy is supposed to lead the way to a renewable future? Pssshhhh.
New Delhi: Besides “ladies” and “gents”, public lavatories in Chennai may soon offer a third option — for transgenders. The Chennai Municipal Corporation has set aside Rs 45 lakh for a pilot project to build three such lavatories for transgenders in the city.While I greatly appreciate the attention paid to trans issues, I can't help but question the framing. What is with the lens of a "third, transgender bathroom" as opposed to simply a unisex or gender neutral restroom? This measure seems to be othering the trans community, instead of serving as a larger testament to the subjective, silly, and typically draconian gender policing and segregation.
While the construction is expected to begin after the polls, the officials have already identified areas with a considerable transgender population in south and central Chennai. The first will be built in Saidapet, where it will cater to those living in Kothamedu, Theedeer Nagar and Athuma Nagar.
To me, a unisex bathroom sounds convenient, humanist, and resource-efficient. A transgender bathroom sounds like a "colored drinking fountain". Perhaps in practice, the third lavatory will just be like any other place to tinkle, and this will become a non-issue. As it stands, I am concerned.
Included in the article was a comment by Aasha Bharathi, president of the Tamil Nadu Aravanigal Association:
“I don’t agree with this. We want to mingle with the mainstream. We don’t want to be separated like this...using separate toilets will open the way for discrimination. We want to be considered as females. In our hearts, we are women.”
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
Let's tell the Obama administration that we want full speed ahead and let the Department of Health and Human Services know that the HHS refusal regulation has to go now.
Take action here
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Participants had been offered training in non-violent direct action as well as briefed on their legal rights. Many came willing to risk arrest. Students, parents, scientists, grandparents, activists, indigenous people and coal plant workers alike diversified the face of the environmental movement, lending credence to its message: renewable energy now.
The crowd borrowed heavily from the 12,000 young people who were attending Power Shift, the second annual youth conference to deal with global warming. Doubling its attendees from the previous year, Power Shift boasted the largest lobby day in American history, with 5,000 organized citizens hitting the Hill to lobby their members of Congress.
While two feet of snow delayed congressional offices from opening their doors, harsh weather did not distract the thousands of Americans demanding sustainability and global leadership, particularly before international leaders gather at Copenhagen to discuss post-Kyoto initiatives in December 2009. The new presidential administration and Congress boosted morale—with particular emphasis played on the recent announcement of Speaker Pelosi and Senate majority leader Harry Reid to find coal alternatives for the Capitol just four days prior to the action.
Last year, I attended Power Shift as a participant, but this year as a lobbyist trainer, I was in awe of both the program growth and its organization. With help from Wellstone Action and a coalition of environmental organizations, Power Shift provided 12,000 attendees with workshops and panels exploring environmentalism, sustainability, grassroots organizing, and other social justice issues. Two hundred fifty trainers prepared 5,000 lobbyists, reminding them that the millennial generation came out in millions to vote and represents one fourth of the electorate.
But nothing prepared me for March 2nd. Waking up to a snowstorm, I feared that turnout would drop, or that students would skip their lobby meetings. I was wrong. We all showed up—many not even dressed appropriately for the weather. Some in nylons leaving lobby meetings or wet tennis shoes from lack of preparation, Power Shifters and others joined the Capitol Climate Action with energy and conviction of purpose--despite blowing snow, severe physical discomfort, and fear of frostbite. Watching their undaunted enthusiasm was very moving. And that is when I fully internalized the reality of the environmental movement: there are more of us than ever before, we keep coming back, and we don’t give up.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
But sexism slapped me in the face more than once--the most atrocious scene being when Clive believes that a beanie-wearing assassin has just injected him from behind with a toxic chemical. He runs after the presumed killer from behind, grabs the villain, and as soon as he sees her female face, has the gross realization that he is paranoid and this person did not just give him a final dose of doom.
Yes, because a woman could never be a highly-trained assassin, and the first indication of femaleness means he is certainly wrong and she is innocent.
The second example that really gets my goat is that during the pursuit of the unknown assassin (the only clue being that this person has some kind of orthopedic leg brace), the characters assume that the killer is a male, and constantly refer to the anonymous villain with a default male pronoun.