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Most Mass Shootings Target Women and Families; Study Finds Men With Legal Guns Are to Blame

February 24, 2013 in Blogs

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet



A new analysis of 56 mass shootings across America since 2009 finds women and family members are the most frequent victims, and that the shooter almost always acquired his guns legally, in cases where the gun source is known.

“In at least 32 of the cases (57 percent), the shooter killed a current or former spouse or intimate partner or other family member, and at least eight of those shooters had a prior domestic violence charge,” the Mayors Against Illegal Guns report on mass shootings said, suggesting that the problem of gun violence is far more related to violence against women in homes than rampages in public settings such as schools and theaters.

The study also found that in the cases where the source of the guns was known, almost all were acquired legally: only two examples were given of mass killings with a stolen or illegal gun. That finding runs counter to the gun lobby’s oft-cited rhetoric that only criminals abuse guns.

“We had sufficient evidence to judge whether the shooter was a prohibited gun possessor in 42 of the 56 incidents,” the report said, referring to laws barring ex-felons, mentally ill people, drug addicts and other categories of people from owning guns. “Of those 42 incidents, 15 (36 percent) involved a prohibited possessor and 27 (64 percent) did not.”

MAIG's analysis should help focus the national debate about curbing gun violence, whether the most horrific mass shootings or ongoing violence where 33 Americans are killed daily from guns (not counting suicides). The report strongly suggests that better background checks before buying guns are needed, as well as far more discussion of domestic violence and violence against women.

“It’s clear in the public’s mind that background checks can help to prevent some of these killings,” said Erika Soto Lamb, spokesperson for Mayors Against Illegal Guns. “Because as we found with the domestic violence situations, there are 38 percent fewer killings of women in states that require background checks for every handgun sale.”

The gun-control group relied on FBI data and media reports to identify 56 mass shootings between 2009 and January 2013, where four or more people perished. These headline-grabbing incidents are less than …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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GOP Plan to Torpedo Economy With Sequester Could Backfire in 2014

February 24, 2013 in Blogs

By Benjamin I. Paige, AlterNet



It appears increasingly likely that congressional Republicans will allow the “sequester” of automatic, indiscriminate spending cuts to take effect on March 1. If so, they will cause a major economic and political crisis for the country. But this prospect also creates opportunities for progressive activists and organizations. We may be able to avoid the disaster, or if it occurs (which seems more likely), we can make clear that congressional Republicans are responsible and should be flushed out of office in 2014. The 2014 congressional elections could be a truly transformational moment for the United States if a tidal wave of outrage were to drown ultra-conservative Republicans in competitive and “safe” seats alike.

The February 17 NYTeditorial, “The Real Cost of Shrinking Government,” sketches out some of the most alarming likely impacts of the next seven months of sequester. The roughly 8 percent cuts in military programs and 5 percent cuts in all (!) domestic discretionary programs will operate like a meat-axe, with terrible macro-economic effects (perhaps a million jobs lost if they go on for two years) and a great deal of inefficiency, danger and human suffering as everything from HeadStart to air traffic controllers to nuclear safety is impacted.

My own view is that the military should be cut by much more than 8 percent, but this is not the way to do it. Randomly destructive cuts are likely to backfire and might ultimately lead to more unnecessary military spending rather than less. Every one of the domestic cuts will be harmful to the country.

The facts about the devastating effects of the sequester are well known to experts in CBO, think tanks and the like, but they are not yet on the radar screens of most ordinary citizens. The NYT editorial, though imperfect (e.g., not making clear the sources for its estimates), constitutes a useful wakeup call for elite audiences and should be disseminated. Others, including the White House and House Democrats, are beginning to say the same sort of thing. But much more will be needed in order to reach all progressive activists, let alone the average American. It is important to get the word out.

 

Only if there is …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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The Al Qaeda Most Americans Know Is Basically a Myth at This Point

February 24, 2013 in Blogs

By Gary Brecher, Not Safe for Work Corporation



This article first appeared at Not Safe for Work Corporation.

When I left Vegas last week, Mali was still the center of the world. I got home today, after taking a few wrong turns, and Mali is well on its way back to nowhere. Google News only listed 23 stories tagged “Mali” last week, and they were all about a supposedly secret Al Qaeda communique found in Timbuktu after the Jihadis bugged out.

This is just a phase, like your parents told themselves when you were 12. It’s the phase where the war reporters lag behind the war, and don’t get into town until the fighting is over (not that there was much fighting in Mali in the first place) after the French have tidied up after their airstrikes. Now, when the big fuss is over, Timbuktu and Gao are crawling with reporters who just can’t find much to talk about—because there never really was much to talk about in these teeny desert outposts, not even when the Jihadis were in charge. So Associated Press is screaming to anybody who’ll listen that its reporters found a vital secret document while snuffling through the trash in Timbuktu:

”TIMBUKTU, Mali – (AP) — In their hurry to flee last month, al-Qaida fighters left behind a crucial document: Tucked under a pile of papers and trash is a confidential letter, spelling out the terror network's strategy for conquering northern Mali and reflecting internal discord over how to rule the region.”

That’s a pretty cool lead sentence, like the start of a good spy novel, until you realize every key word should have an asterisk after it, leading to a footnote that says, “Look, we needed a big story here—you know how much it costs to get to this stinking hellhole? So give us a break.”

So let’s break it down, phrase by phrase.

First, “Al Qaeda”. Every time you read that name, you should spit and shrug like a peasant turning down a horse with a hernia. It’s a scam. First of all, who says there is such a thing in the first place? Al Qaeda is an organization that makes no sense in traditional guerrilla terms. You don’t …read more
Source: ALTERNET

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The Feminist Pornographer

February 24, 2013 in Blogs

By Tracy Clark-Flory, Salon



There was a time, not too long ago, when the idea of making porn for women was unthinkable. It was “completely unheard of,” writes director Candida Royalle in the new anthology “The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure.” She founded Femme Productions in 1984, but when she went looking for distributors for her “female-oriented” films, she was patted on the head and told, “This is a boy’s club.”

Then in the ’90s, fresh off the so-called feminist porn wars, the genre of “couples porn” began to boom. That gave the small cadre of female directors of the time opportunities in the mainstream male-dominated industry — and “porn for women” began to seem less of an oxymoron. The next decade brought an explosion of feminist-minded pornographers — from trans performer Buck Angel to actress-turned-director Madison Young — as well as the creation of the Feminist Porn Awards. Since then we’ve seen the growth of explicit fan fiction — and with it, a greater cultural awareness of female desire for sexual explicitness — which has culminated in the global “Fifty Shades of Grey” phenomenon.

Which brings us to where we are today: We know that an estimated one out of every three porn watchers is a woman. The idea of porn for women is not only thinkable, and heard of, but the phrase is also increasingly being replaced with a more specific descriptor: “feminist porn.” Not that feminism — which, like porn, is not a monolithic entity — is entirely resolved on the issue: That’s why this book, which is filled with compelling essays by porn performers, directors and academics, has appeared now, decades after the “porn wars” began. These are testimonials about attempts to challenge those familiar foes of any Women’s Studies 101 class — from basic gender binaries to every “-ism” out there — but from inside the adult business.

What the book does most beautifully is carve out a middle ground: The unfortunate result of the “porn wars” was “the fixing of an antiporn camp versus a sex-positive/pro-porn camp,” argue the editors, Tristan Taormino, Celine Parreñas Shimizu, Constance Penley and Mireille Miller-Young, in the book’s introduction. “On one side, a capital P ‘Pornography’ was a visual …read more
Source: ALTERNET