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Why Do We Get Mad When Certain Women Get Naked?

November 13, 2014 in Blogs

By Jennifer Gerson Uffalussy, The Guardian

Why are we OK with topless Kiera Knightly but decry nude Kim Kardashian?


Despite its promises, Kim Kardashian’s naked rear end – and the subsequent reveal of her fully nude photos – in this month’s issue of Paper magazine did not #BreakTheInternet. (After all, you’re reading this, aren’t you?)

How could it? It’s not Kardashian’s first nude photo shoot – that was for Playboy, in 2007, and last year she appeared topless in a music video for her now-husband Kanye West … and of course there’s the sex tape. The willingness of wilfully famous people like Kim Kardashian to be naked is not new, and neither are the inevitable reactions – have you seen anything but reactions to this on your Facebook feed today? – that her willingness to be so publicly nude is somehow “tacky”.

But not every woman who bares it all is necessarily looked down upon. The women whose bodies are in the spotlight navigate a constant negotiation between their ability to act as a means of empowerment and degradation – and only certain women are deemed empowered.

When women reveal their naked bodies to the public, we celebrate … but only under the right circumstances. They have to do it for art or politics, but never be so crass as to do it for commerce. They are supposed to be “real”, but only when that “realness” falls within a certain spectrum of normative acceptableness, as we wouldn’t want to bear witness to body hair, flaky skin or cellulite. And if certain women’s bodies don’t meet our standards for acceptability, heaven forbid they modify their butts or their boobs in anyway or we will declare them “fake”, as though these women are but figments of our imagination deserving of …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Try federalism, not federal domination

November 13, 2014 in Economics

By Gary Galles

From the moment it became obvious Tuesday’s Republican wave would make shore, media mouths began talking up the problems its leaders would face in converting a widespread rejection of Obama’s policies into a positive agenda. Given that the abusive centralization of power was the core of what the electorate was saying no to, leaders would do well to focus on restoring Constitutional federalism.

At America’s founding, decentralization of power—a federal system, rather than a national system, (better described as “The States, United solely for specified joint purposes,” than “The United States”)—played a key role in protecting Americans’ liberties from infringement. However, in America today, for every problem, real or imagined, a “federal father knows best” program is imposed or proposed, regardless of how individual, local, or varied Americans’ preferences are.

America’s founders did not envision the federal government as being involved in virtually any decision made by anyone, much less as the domineering senior partner for almost every decision made by everyone. As Alexander Hamilton wrote in Federalist 17: “all those things…proper to be provided by local legislation, can never be desirable cares of a general jurisdiction.” James Madison wrote in Federalist 39 that “the new Constitution will…be a federal, and not a national constitution,” and in Federalist 45 that “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the Federal Government are few and defined…exercised principally on external objects.”

The current nationalization of every decision is blatantly inconsistent with individual rights and our founders’ federalism, designed to constrain national government to few, enumerated powers. Since Americans sharply disagree about what they want government to do, national imposition really means some political majority is empowered to impose its will on others nationwide, no matter the harm those tyrannized over bear. In contrast, federalism allows the “law and order” necessary to freedom to be provided without empowering national political domination.

Under federalism, the potential of voting with your feet into other jurisdictions limits the burdens majorities can impose on those who disagree. Even more, leaving arrangements to be made voluntarily in markets represents a democracy in which every dollar vote counts, without providing the ability to violate others’ rights.

As Dwight Lee put it, “the chief concern of the framers of the Constitution was not that of insuring a fully democratic political structure. Instead they were concerned with limiting government power in order to minimize the abuse of majority rule.” Or as R.A. Humphreys summarized, our founders …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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How the Border Patrol Became Our Most Stunningly Corrupt Law Enforcement Agency

November 13, 2014 in Blogs

By Allegra Kirkland, AlterNet

The rise of the Border Patrol is a result of the post-9/11 obsession with “protecting our homeland.”


When Congress first created the Border Patrol back in 1924, it was staffed by a ragtag collection of former Texas Rangers, local sheriffs and mail clerks. These men, stationed at backwoods outposts along the 7,500 miles that demarcate the U.S. border, were charged with handling customs violations and preventing liquour smuggling during Prohibition. The agency was seen as the forgotten stepchild of U.S. law enforcement—understaffed, undertrained and nonessential.

Today, the Border Patrol is the country’s largest law enforcement agency, with some 46,000 Customs officers and Border Patrol agents. Their annual budget is a jaw-dropping $12.4 billion, and “securing our borders” is a top priority for U.S. politicians both Democratic and Republican. In an investigation for Politico, Garrett M. Graff traces the evolution of the Border Patrol from its roots as a bureaucratic backwater to its current status as the linchpin of our national security strategy.

As Graff deftly illustrates, the rise of the Border Patrol is a direct result of the post-9/11 obsession with “protecting the homeland.” At the time the planes hit the Twin Towers, there were only 9,000 border agents and the agency only had the financing to hold 60 detainees a day. But in the years that followed, our national security apparatus metastasized and we bore witness to a succession of inextricably linked trends: the expansion of the surveillance state, rabid xenophobia, drone warfare, egregious abuses by law enforcement personnel at home and abroad. This coincided with a spike in illegal immigration from Mexico and Central America, spurred by poverty and the savage violence of the drug wars. Our southern border became freighted with new meaning, as the frontline in keeping potential terrorists—and all other unwanted persons—from entering the country.

But, as we learned in Iraq, throwing money and thousands of inexperienced, armed recruits at a problem is not a good solution. The agency—which now fell under the jurisdiction of the newly created Department of Homeland Security—quickly went from being understaffed to uncontrollably massive. Agents, some of whom had only been on the …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Sen. Rand Paul Questions EEOC Nominees- November 13, 2014

November 13, 2014 in Politics & Elections

…read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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6 Reasons Women May Have Orgasms

November 13, 2014 in Blogs

By Tracy Clark-Flory, Salon

Is the female orgasms an evolutionary byproduct? Or does it have a different function?


It’s a question that few women would think to ask: Why does the female orgasm exist? More likely is, “Where is my female orgasm?” — or, for the easily orgasmic, “More, please?” But it’s a query that has nonetheless plagued sex researchers for decades, and a new study has proposed an answer: that the female orgasm helps women choose better partners. More specifically — and perhaps unflatteringly to women — researchers found that “how often a woman experienced orgasm as a result of sexual intercourse was related to their partner’s family income.” They also found that “his self-confidence” and “how attractive he was” also factored in.

The orgasmic explanation proposed by the study, which is a “preliminary investigation” and by no means definitive, isn’t new. There has long existed a schism in expert thinking around the raison d’être of lady-gasms. In one camp, you have what I like to call the reproductive successers. In the other, the “byproduct” believers. (I hope I’m not the only one picturing a snapping “West Side Story” scene here. Only with super-raunchy gang signs.) And even the former group breaks down into several warring factions (and none of them attempt to address why lesbians have orgasms — and more of them). Given this latest study, which in recent days has revived debate among sex researchers, I figured I would break down the arguments into a language the Internet understands — that of the listicle, of course.

1. It makes you want to bone more (aka reproductive success)

This is the most intuitive of explanations: Sex feels good because it causes us to have more of it. In other words, men and women who are orgasmic reproduce more, and orgasmability is evolutionarily supported in both sexes.

2. It makes you want to snooze

Orgasms cause you to relax, lie down, maybe even fall into a post-coital nap, and some researchers believe that this all gives sperm an easier time of finding the egg.

3. It gives sperm a little boost (aka “sperm upsuck”)

You read that right: sperm upsuck. …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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Everything I Thought I Knew About Our Right to Bear Arms Suddenly and Totally Changed

November 13, 2014 in Blogs

By Philip Gulley, Salon

I used to think calls for gun safety reform were overblown. Then the world changed.


Noah Pozner did nothing to change my mind, except die. Before he died, I believed a few sensible gun laws could save children like Noah Pozner. After he died, after he and his Sandy Hook classmates were mowed down by a man with a gun, I changed my mind.

 

After he died, I realized an old custom had to die with him, so a nobler one could take its place.  Before Noah Pozner died, I thought there was nothing wrong with the Second Amendment a little common sense couldn’t fix.  After he died, I’ve come to believe “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms” no longer promotes our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, but daily threatens them.  How free are we when more people are shot and killed each year in America than populate the towns in which many of us live?  How free are we when a backpack that unfolds into a bulletproof covering is a must-have item for schoolchildren?

“A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.”

While I concede that a well-regulated militia might be necessary to the security of a free state, that role is now ably served by our military, professionally trained and highly disciplined, drawn from the ranks of our families and friends, from whom we have nothing to fear. We no longer need Minutemen. The British have not surrounded Concord. This is not “Independence Day” and we’re not under alien attack. I cannot imagine any circumstance in which our government would urge us to arm ourselves in defense of our country. Our nation has outgrown its need for an armed citizenry. The disadvantages of widespread gun ownership far outweigh any perceived advantage. Ask the parents of Noah Pozner. Ask African-American residents of Ferguson, Missouri. Ask what America’s love affair with guns has meant to them.

The merit of a position can be gauged by the temperament of its supporters, …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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What If We Abolished Prisons?

November 13, 2014 in Blogs

By Maya Schenwar, Berrett-Koehler Publishers

Can decarceration work?


The following is an excerpt from Maya Schenwar's new book,  Locked Down, Locked Out: Why Prison Doesn't Work and How We Can Do Better(Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2014).  Reprinted here with permission.

In 2006, a letter was slipped in through the door slat in Johnnie Walton’s cell. Johnnie was living—twenty-three hours a day—in a seventy-square-foot cell furnished with a concrete bed, a solid steel door, and a window through which little light traveled. Through the slat in the door, three times a day, Johnnie’s meals appeared. For one hour each day, Johnnie was permitted solitary “recreation” in a small pen just outside his cell.

The same routine went for the roughly 250 other prisoners in Tamms, the supermax prison that had opened in Southern Illinois in 1998. Practices at Tamms were similar to those in other supermax prisons and “Secure Housing Units” (such as the one Abraham Macías occupies at Pelican Bay) around the country: The prison, with no yard, no chapel, no dining hall, no library, and no phone calls (unless a close relative was dying), was designed to extinguish the outside world for the men trapped within.

By the time the letter came, Johnnie had already been living in isolation for more than two years. He tore open the envelope and stared. Tucked inside was a poem. An accompanying letter explained that the sender was a member of the “Tamms Poetry Committee,” a group that had come together to provide some contact for these men deprived of almost every type of human connection.

Johnnie was touched but bewildered, he tells me over the phone, almost eight years later. “I got that letter, and I thought, ‘A poetry committee? Men are mutilating themselves, slitting their wrists here…. What do we need with a poetry committee?’”

Johnnie wrote back with a thank-you note—but the note went further: He asked for help, for advocacy. So did several of the other men who received poems that year. Artist and activist Laurie Jo Reynolds, who was part of the group that initiated the poetry committee and later led the effort to fight for …read more

Source: ALTERNET

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This Year's Glitch — How ObamaCare Will Screw You Now

November 13, 2014 in Economics

By Michael D. Tanner

Michael D. Tanner

Saturday starts round two of ObamaCare open enrollment — and we may be one mouse click away from a repeat of last year’s healthcare.gov debacle.

The administration claims that the Web site has undergone more rigorous testing this time around, but officials refuse to promise that all the “glitches” have been fixed. Health Secretary Sylvia Burwell warns, “we will have things that won’t go right. We will have outages, we will have downtime.”

That’s a safe bet, since the glitches have already started.

For instance, the administration was supposed to mail notices to some 7.1 million Americans by Nov. 1, notifying them that they may be eligible for subsidies next year. Fewer than a million notices went out on time.

And testing still isn’t finished for parts of the small-business exchange program, known as SHOP — a program that was supposed to be ready last year, but never got off the ground.

The administration thinks the consumer part of the SHOP system will be fully operational by Saturday. But other parts, such as the ability to relay premium information back to employers, need up to a month more testing.

Last fall’s collapse of healthcare.gov was the first in a series of government failures that many believe led to the Republican wave on Election Day.”

The enrollment process has been simplified. Where an applicant had to navigate 76 separate computer screens last year, it’s now down to 16 for most people.

Still, expect delays and problems. For one thing, this year’s open-enrollment period lasts only three months, half as long as last year’s. That means the number of people trying to access healthcare.gov each day will be much higher than the number that repeatedly crashed the site last time.

Roughly 7.1 million Americans bought insurance though the exchanges last year. Many had been uninsured, but even more had simply been forced to change plans, because their previous insurance didn’t meet all ObamaCare’s requirements.

The administration has lowered its estimates for how many new people will sign up this year from 6 million to just 2 million to 3 million. That’s bad news for the promised universal coverage, but it might take some of the pressure off the system.

Unfortunately, more folks will have to change plans this year. Some people managed to lock in noncompliant plans early enough last year to avoid cancelation, but the reprieve was temporary: Cancelation notices are on their way.

In the …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Sen. Paul Holds EEOC Nominees Accountable

November 13, 2014 in Politics & Elections

WASHINGTON, D.C. -Earlier today, Sen. Rand Paul attended the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing on the nomination of P. David Lopez to serve as General Counsel and Charlotte Burrows to serve as a member of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. A clip of the exchange can be found below.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH SEN. PAUL QUESTION EEOC NOMINEES

### …read more

Source: RAND PAUL

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The End of Dodd-Frank?

November 13, 2014 in Economics

By Mark A. Calabria

Mark A. Calabria

The results of the midterm elections, with Republicans increasing their House majority and capturing the Senate, seem like a repudiation of President Obama’s policies. After health care, the administration commonly lists financial reform, the Dodd-Frank Act, as one of its signature achievements. Do the election results signal the end of Dodd-Frank?

It’s worth noting that the coming Republican majorities in both houses and their committee leadership voted against Dodd-Frank. In the House, current Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling retains his leadership position, while in the Senate, my former employer, Sen. Richard C. Shelby, retakes his seat as chairman of the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee. Both have previously introduced measures to repeal Dodd-Frank and were leaders against its passage. It’s fair to say Dodd-Frank will not have any friends among the leadership of both the House and Senate majorities.

Mr. Shelby and Mr. Hensarling are also vocal opponents of bailouts. For Mr. Shelby it goes back to at least his 1979 vote (then as a House Democrat) against the first Chrysler bailout. Both were also leaders in their respective houses against the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Mr. Shelby famously walked out of a Bush White House meeting to denounce the plan in front of the press.

While full repeal of Dodd-Frank is unlikely, a number of modest changes are possible.”

While these two are no fans of Dodd-Frank, nor are they protectors of Wall Street. They share that Southern populist suspicion of both big finance and big government. Mr. Shelby went so far as voting for the Brown-Kaufman amendment to break up the banks, offered during Senate consideration of Dodd-Frank. Mr. Shelby was also one of the few Republicans to vote against Gramm-Leach-Bliley, which formally ended the separation of investment and commercial banking. My own experience interacting with Mr. Shelby and Mr. Hensarling is that you would be hard-pressed to find two members more opposed to the privatization of profits and socialization of losses that so characterizes our financial system.

Still, does any of this really spell the end of Dodd-Frank? Not likely. Most difficult of all for both Mr. Shelby and Mr. Hensarling is that many within their own caucuses, while opposing Dodd-Frank and happy to make marginal changes, are increasingly comfortable with the Wall Street view that it is simply time to move beyond additional changes to our financial system. Dodd-Frank is widely viewed on Wall Street as the “devil you know,” and while costly, is ultimately manageable. Of course, some of the worst elements of Dodd-Frank, such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, do not even cover Wall Street.

It is also important to recall that …read more

Source: OP-EDS