You are browsing the archive for 2015 February 24.

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Lucy Stone and the Women's Rights Movement

February 24, 2015 in History

Library of Congress

February 24, 2015 4:33 p.m.

Sally G. McMillen is the author of a new book on Lucy Stone and has written a post for American Experience about the 19th-century abolitionist and suffragist. Although Stone was one of the most well-known women in America in the mid-1850s, she is not as widely-known today. Read McMillen’s piece below on why Lucy Stone is just as much of a part of the women’s rights movement as her contemporaries, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Lucy Stone was born in West Brookfield, Massachusetts, in 1818 and died in Boston in 1893. She was one of the most famous women of her day – as a lecturer for abolition and women’s suffrage and one of the most important leaders of the nineteenth-century women’s rights movement.

Though she was born almost two hundred years ago, Lucy Stone’s life and achievements resonate and inspire us today. While in her teens, she realized the importance of higher education in order to lead a meaningful life. Since her father would not pay for her education, she earned the money she needed and enrolled at Oberlin Collegiate Institute, graduating four years later at the age of twenty-nine as one of the first women in the nation and the first woman from Massachusetts to earn a college degree.Stone then pursued a highly unusual career for a woman of her day—as a paid lecturer for the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. Within months, she added women’s suffrage to her speeches. For years, she campaigned tirelessly for both causes, traveling widely and attracting hundreds, sometimes thousands of people to hear her passionate oratory. By the mid-1850s, she had become one of the most famous women in America and was earning a substantial income. Her messages were uncompromising, demanding that a nation defining itself as democratic abolish slavery and give women the rights they deserved.

Stone inspires us with her messages and her unremitting commitment to those beliefs. She renounced marriage, since at that time, the law subordinated married women to their husbands, giving them no right to own their own property or to act as independent beings. But in 1855 she finally married a man who promised to let her live life as that independent being. Immediately following the ceremony, she and husband Henry Blackwell issued a written protest to the laws that made wives virtually invisible. A year later – again, taking action that was far out …read more


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Terrorism Poses No Existential Threat to America. We Must Stop Pretending Otherwise

February 24, 2015 in Economics

By John Mueller, Mark G. Stewart

John Mueller and Mark G. Stewart

One of the most unchallenged, zany assertions during the war on terror has been that terrorists present an existential threat to the United States, the modern stateand civilization itself. This is important because the overwrought expression, if accepted as valid, could close off evaluation of security efforts. For example, no defense of civil liberties is likely to be terribly effective if people believe the threat from terrorism to be existential.

At long last, President Barack Obama and other top officials are beginning to back away from this absurd position. This much overdue development may not last, however. Extravagant alarmism about the pathological but self-destructiveIslamic State (Isis) in areas of Syria and Iraq may cause us to backslide.

The notion that international terrorism presents an existential threat was spawned by the traumatized in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Rudy Giuliani, mayor of New York at the time, recalls that all “security experts” expected “dozens and dozens and multiyears of attacks like this” and, in her book The Dark Side, Jane Mayer observed that “the only certainty shared by virtually the entire American intelligence community” was that “a second wave of even more devastating terrorist attacks on America was imminent”. Duly terrified, US intelligence services were soon imaginatively calculating the number of trained al-Qaida operatives in the United States to be between 2,000 and 5,000.

President Obama and other top officials are backing away from this absurd assertion. But others are resisting reality.”

Also compelling was the extrapolation that, because the 9/11 terrorists were successful with box-cutters, they might well be able to turn out nuclear weapons. Soon it was being authoritatively proclaimed that atomic terrorists could “destroy civilization as we know it” and that it was likely that a nuclear terrorist attack on the United States would transpire by 2014.

No atomic terrorists have yet appeared (al-Qaida’s entire budget in 2001 for research on all weapons of mass destruction totaled less than $4,000), and intelligence has been far better at counting al-Qaida operatives in the country than at finding them.

But the notion that terrorism presents an existential threat has played on. By 2008, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff declared it to be a “significant existential” one – carefully differentiating it, apparently, from all those insignificant existential threats Americans have faced in the past. The bizarre formulation survived into the Obama …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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George Zimmerman Won't Face Federal Hate Crime Charges

February 24, 2015 in Blogs

By Terrell Jermaine Starr, AlterNet

The DOJ will not move forward with federal hate crimes charges.

George Zimmerman won’t face civil rights charges for killing unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin three years ago, the New York Times reports.

The Department of Justice announced Tuesday that there is not enough evidence to move forward with federal hate crimes charges against Zimmerman after conducting scores of interviews about his actions and character, the slain teen’s parents said.

The Justice Department began an independent investigation when local law enforcement was slow to arrest and charge Zimmerman after he shot and killed the teen on Feb. 26, 2012. At the time, they claimed that state self-defense laws would make a prosecution against the wanna-be cop difficult.

Gov. Rick Scott eventually appointed a special prosecutor, who charged Zimmerman.

In order for the feds to have charged Zimmerman with a hate crime, they would have had to prove that he killed the teenager because he was black. His recklessness and negligence isn’t enough to move forward with such a charge.

Attorney General Eric Holder said in statement that while there wasn’t enough evidence to move forward with a hate crime, it should not end discussions over the racial tensions that followed Trayvon’s death.

“This young man's premature death necessitates that we continue the dialogue and be unafraid of confronting the issues and tensions his passing brought to the surface,” Holder said in a statement. “We, as a nation, must take concrete steps to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future.”

The decision not to charge Zimmerman closes the investigation.



…read more


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“I’m Hung Like a Hamster”: Meet a Man With a Micropenis

February 24, 2015 in Blogs

By Tracy Clark-Flory, Salon

His penis was just as he described it: “tiny but cute.”

Lately, I have been emailing a lot with a man with a micropenis. Chris, a 53-year-old who works in financial services in Chicago, first wrote me in response to an article of mine on how women evaluate men’s junk. “Put bluntly, I have a micropenis,” this complete stranger revealed to me. “Think the size and shape of a sewing thimble soft, wine cork erect.” He continued, “My scrotum is sized to match, no tragedy, just unusual on a tall and fit adult man who appears normal and healthy in every other way.”

“No tragedy” is a common refrain of his, even as he compares his penis to that of a toddler or a hamster.

Of course, I had to start an email back-and-forth with Chris. I find men’s relationships with their penises fascinating. I’ve written about a man with two schlongs, one with none, another with the world’s largest member and then there’s the guy whose Johnson ejaculates uncontrollably 100 times day. It’s like a dirty Dr. Seuss book: One dick, two dicks, huge dick, no dick! And now: micro-dick.

It was the first time Chris had talked in depth with someone about his micropenis and he had lots to say — about losing his virginity, locker room ribbing and an ex-wife who left by telling him his penis was inadequate. I was struck by his utter lack of resentment and self-pity, even when talking about sexual rejection. Eventually, he offered to send me a photo of the subject of our discussion and I accepted. I received a full body shot of him wearing only an unbuttoned baseball jersey and an uneasy expression. His penis was just as he described it: “tiny but cute.”

When did you first realize that you had a micropenis?

I observed very clearly at age 6, while changing clothes in the locker room of a large municipal pool in connection with my first swimming lessons, that my penis was significantly smaller than those of the other boys my age. …read more


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The Disappeared: Police Detain Americans at Abuse-Laden 'Black Site'

February 24, 2015 in Blogs

By Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian

A secret interrogation facility reveals aspects of war on terror in America.

The following story first appeared in the Guardian. 

The Chicago police department operates an off-the-books interrogation compound, rendering Americans unable to be found by family or attorneys while locked inside what lawyers say is the domestic equivalent of a CIA black site.

The facility, a nondescript warehouse on Chicago’s west side known as Homan Square, has long been the scene of secretive work by special police units. Interviews with local attorneys and one protester who spent the better part of a day shackled in Homan Square describe operations that deny access to basic constitutional rights.

Alleged police practices at Homan Square, according to those familiar with the facility who spoke out to the Guardian after its investigation into Chicago police abuse, include:

  • Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases.
  • Beating by police, resulting in head wounds.
  • Shackling for prolonged periods.
  • Denying attorneys access to the “secure” facility.
  • Holding people without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours, including people as young as 15.

At least one man was found unresponsive in a Homan Square “interview room” and later pronounced dead.

Brian Jacob Church, a protester known as one of the “Nato Three”, was held and questioned at Homan Square in 2012 following a police raid. Officers restrained Church for the better part of a day, denying him access to an attorney, before sending him to a nearby police station to be booked and charged.

“Homan Square is definitely an unusual place,” Church told the Guardian on Friday. “It brings to mind the interrogation facilities they use in the Middle East. The CIA calls them black sites. It’s a domestic black site. When you go in, no one knows what’s happened to you.”

The secretive warehouse is the latest example of Chicago police practices that echo the much-criticized detention abuses of the US war on terrorism. While those abuses impacted people overseas, Homan Square – said to house military-style vehicles, interrogation cells and even a cage – trains its focus on Americans, most often poor, black …read more


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'Pro Life' GOPer Says It's Fine For Kids to Die in the Name of God

February 24, 2015 in Blogs

By Cliff Weathers, AlterNet

Rep. Christy Perry says it violates parents' rights if they're required to treat their sick children.

In a deeply religious section of Idaho, a Republican state representative says that the state has no right to protect children from their parents who refuse them needed medical treatment in favor of faith healing.

“Children do die,” says Rep. Christy Perry. And it’s fine with her if Idaho children die in the name of God. Perry’s district includes many followers of a religious cult, Followers of Christ, that eschews medicine. She says that the sect’s members are more comfortable confronting death when it happens to their children.

“I’m not trying to sound callous, but [people calling for reform] want to act as if death is an anomaly. But it’s not. It’s a way of life,” she says.

Perry says that a proposed ban on faith-healing would violate the religious rights of her constituents. The legislation, which would limit faith exemptions for medical care in the state’s child neglect law was proposed after a string of preventable child deaths in Perry’s district. The 12 who died were children of sect members. Most of the children died from causes like pneumonia, sepsis and easily treatable cases of food poisoning.

But Perry argues that it’s well within the Canyon County sect’s First Amendment right to refuse medical care for their children on religious grounds. She says those trying to reform the laws are denying the sect their religious freedoms.

“Is it really because these children are dying more so than other children, or is this really about an attack on a religion you don’t agree with?” Perry told Aljazeera.

On her website, Perry ironically proclaims that she's ”a pro life mother and grandmother and emphasizes her honor and value of all human life, born and unborn.” Perry also claims she's “an ardent supporter of defending each child’s right to life.”

Over the past 20 years, only six states have had children die due to their parents refusing them medical treatment in deference to faith healing. Idaho has …read more


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I’m an Immigrant and a Reform Advocate. Obama's Executive Actions Are a disaster for the Cause.

February 24, 2015 in Economics

By Ilya Shapiro

Ilya Shapiro

Last week’s ruling in the 26-state challenge to President Obama’s immigration actions should have come as no surprise given how poorly last month’s hearing went for the government. But regardless of what anyone thinks about this ruling, the administration’s maneuvers represent an unfortunate setback for those who seek lasting immigration reform.

That may seem counterintuitive. Isn’t it better to do something, to at least get relief for up to 5 million people and worry about a larger fix when the political winds are more favorable?

The answer is “no” for two big reasons. First, the “executive discretion” at issue can be reversed by any future executive. While it would be hard to claw back whatever tangible benefits will have been extended in the meantime—or the money states spend issuing drivers licenses, which is why the temporary injunction prevents “irreparable harm”—there’s no guarantee that the granted residence and work permits will be renewed.

In other words, the millions who would be eligible for temporary status under the Deferred Action for Parents of American Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents may move “out of the shadows,” but they’re still under a legal cloud. Perhaps that’s why an underwhelming number of those eligible for the earlier Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA, the expansion of which was also put on hold by Judge Hanen’s ruling) have registered for that program. Why make it easier for the government to deport you in the future?

Second, and more significantly, Obama has short-circuited any chance at a legislative solution. There’s a reason that we’ve all heard how the president has “poisoned the well.” By resorting to executive actions—right after the Republicans won the election running against just that style of governance—Obama ensures that Congress will never see him as an honest broker (and that includes any Democrats who remember their position on presidential unilateralism in the Bush years).

Moreover, while it’s true that it would be difficult for this president to get anylegislation through this Congress, he didn’t even try when his party controlled both chambers. And there are certainly reforms that would have easily gained majorities in the new Congress had Obama not acted as he did, such as expanding high-tech visas and employment-based green cards. Even a comprehensive reform that would give legal status to those here illegally was possible, turning mainly on the scope of a guest-worker program and the “pathway to citizenship.”

The …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Huffington Post Op-Ed: Out of Darkness, Light

February 24, 2015 in Politics & Elections

Sherri was a little girl, born with big brown eyes and bouncing curls. She was the forth child born to her parents, but was the first girl. She was born into a seemingly normal family, with two parents and three older brothers. More often, this girl grows up into a lovely young woman, prepared to carve her place in the world. However Sherri’s story was different.

Sherri became blind at a young age and her father did not want a daughter, especially not a disabled one. Her family had no money, and her brothers were never around. Her mother’s mind seemed to live in a very dark and distant place, and she offered little guidance.

Her father cared more about whiskey and drugs than he did about his family, so too often, little Sherri was on her own.

She would try to search for her parents, someone to feed her and care for her — but even when she did find them, her father would most often snatch her up and throw her in a closet so that she would stay out of his way. She spent the majority of the first six years of her young life in that closet. Maybe, in some ways, it was a blessing that she was blind during these times. The darkness of the small closet might not have been quite as scary.

When Sherri was seven, her father found another use for her. It was the most awful and vile thing that a father could do to his little girl. He repeatedly abused and raped her, over and over, year after year, until she was 11 years old, at which time, she became pregnant. It turned out to be a minor problem for her dad, which he took care of with his large leather boot firmly on her back, kicking her flat on her face at the bottom of the stairs, and ending the pregnancy.

During this time, Sherri’s father would also beat her mother daily. Even though her mother wasn’t there for her, Sherri loved her, and wanted to protect her. After all, it is all she’d ever known.

The abuse continued and her dad often ran out of money to supplement his habits.

That is when he discovered another use for his blind, teenage daughter.

He began selling her to different men for the night. They would pay him in cash …read more


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Watch: Cop Slaps Homeless Man in the Face For Entering Public Bus Terminal

February 24, 2015 in Blogs

By Tana Ganeva, AlterNet

Shocking video.

A Florida cop has been suspended (with pay) after a video emerged that shows him slapping a homeless man in the face. The cell phone footage shows the officer trying to force the man, identified as Bruce Laclair by the Miami Herald, out of a bus terminal. He grasps Laclair's arm and pushes him, causing Laclair to lose his balance and fall to the ground, hard. Laclair says (somewhat understandably) “fuck you” to the cop, who spits out, “Relax. I am telling you right now what’s going to happen. I’m escorting you out right now. You are not going to go pee. You are not supposed to be here.”

As Laclair tries to argue the officer slaps him so hard across the face he falls to the ground again (see the video below). The newspaper reports that Laclair was arrested for trespassing. It's not clear how he managed to pull off trespassing at a bus terminal, but it's also not surprising, since Florida has led the way in coming up with creative ways to criminalize the activities of homeless people. Multiple cities in the state have established bans on asking for money, sleeping in public and a slew of other innocuous activities that are, in practice, only applied to the homeless. The laws serve as a pretext to help police remove homeless people from certain areas and new ones are cropping up all the time; the recent cold snap hasn't dampened the enthusiasm of Tampa's public officials for an ordinance prohibiting the use of blankets on the street

Spending lots of money to cycle the homeless in and out of jail,  instead of spending less money to house them, is the norm in most of the country. Last week, Alyssa Figueroa reported that progressive wonderland California has 500 laws on the books targeting the homeless, from sidewalk sitting bans to laws that make it a crime to give out food.

As Think Progress points out, criminalization measures are not only discriminatory, but can lead to violent police encounters that end in death. In New Mexico, James Boyd was gunned down by police after …read more


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President Obama Is Apparently Not Imperial Enough for the GOP

February 24, 2015 in Economics

By Gene Healy

Gene Healy

“Obama’s imperial presidency” has become a favorite rallying cry for the GOP. President Obama is acting “like a king,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) rails: his “aggressive unilateralism” presents “a direct challenge to the constitutional balance of powers.” This president “believes somehow he’s become a monarch or an emperor that can basically ignore the law and do whatever he wants,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) fumed last summer.

Strong rhetoric—but it’s not hard to find evidence to back it up. After all, in March 2011, without so much as a by-your-leave to Congress, President Obama embarked on a seven-month bombing campaign in Libya, all the while insisting that his regime-change operation wasn’t a “war” for constitutional purposes, and didn’t even rise to the level of “hostilities” under the War Powers Resolution. Just last week, some six months and 2,000 airstrikes since he unilaterally launched our latest war in the Middle East, Obama finally got around to sending a draft “Authorization for the Use of Military Force against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” up to the Hill. In our constitutional framework, we’re supposed to have the debate before the country goes to war. But since Obama’s draft AUMF came with a cover memo insisting that “existing statutes provide me with the authority I need” to wage war, he’s made it abundantly clear he thinks Congress is superfluous.

President Obama goes around making war without so much as a nod to Congress, and GOP leaders respond by complaining his wars aren’t extensive enough.”

Let’s Allow Endless and Unconditional War

So how have the GOP’s erstwhile opponents of the imperial presidency greeted this latest affront to the separation of powers? By complaining that Obama hasn’t been imperial enough.

Although the Obama AUMF on its face allows the president to expand the war beyond the current theaters of battle in Iraq and Syria, it also contains a three-year time limit and a loosely worded bar to “enduring offensive ground combat operations.” Boehner, Rubio, and many of their co-partisans find those restrictions unendurable. As they see it, any new authorization from Congress should be, like true love, endless and unconditional.

Obama’s draft authorization would “tie his hands even further,” Boehner lamented. The “limitations built into it are really quite unprecedented,” Rubio agonized on the Senate floor Wednesday. “We did some research earlier today,” Rubio continued, and “never before” has Congress authorized military action “with …read more

Source: OP-EDS