NEWS -- 2012.07.03.Tuesday evening
- Comic relief
1) World Trade Organization buys the government
2) Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “free trade” agreement -- The TPP is shaping up to be NAFTA-on-steroids with the whole world
3) Revelation Signals a Shift in Views of Homosexuality
4) How My View on Gay Marriage Changed
5) Justice Scalia must resign
6) Judge Tells Christian Counseling Student That Her School Was Right to Punish Her for Wanting to Convert Gay Clients
From: Robert Weissman, Public Citizen [mailto:robert@...]
Sent: Tuesday, July 03, 2012 1:36 PM
Subject: Not my cup of tea
I hope you enjoy the Fourth of July with family, friends and neighbors.
If you’re looking forward to grilling up some hamburgers and hot dogs, think about this: Where does the food you’re eating come from?
That simple question is going to be a lot harder to answer after a ruling from the World Trade Organization (WTO), which decreed last week that such basic consumer information as country-of-origin labels on meat are “unfair trade barriers” to multinational corporate profits.
If you don’t eat meat, know that the WTO ruling could be extended to country-of-origin labels for produce. So maybe next summer it’s the potato salad and corn on the cob, too.
Like me, you might find this hard to swallow. If you’ll excuse a mixed metaphor, mystery meat (and lettuce) is not my cup of tea.
But it’s standard operating practice for the WTO, which in recent months has proclaimed that U.S. “dolphin-safe” tuna labels and a U.S. ban on clove-, candy- and cola-flavored cigarettes both violate WTO trade rules.
And now the United States is negotiating a new NAFTA-on-steroids “free trade” agreement with countries in Asia and the Americas — the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership — with terms that are considerably worse than those in the WTO.
Learn more about the Trans-Pacific Partnership in the message below from Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.
Then sign our petition urging President Obama to pursue trade policies that actually work for the American people.
The recent WTO ruling is not merely advisory. Unlike other international institutions, the WTO packs a punch. The United States will have to abandon some hard-won labeling rules or pay to maintain them in the form of fines or sanctions.
Two decades ago, when the WTO and NAFTA were being forced on us, Public Citizen warned that this day would come.
We said — over and over — that these agreements had little to do with trade as conventionally understood, and everything to do with making giant corporations even more powerful. We said corporations would use the agreements to block important consumer, environmental and worker protections.
Now, we’re past the point of prediction. It’s reality.
You might think the U.S. government would be working to cure this problem and certainly not to make it worse. But if you thought that, you’d be wrong.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership is being negotiated in secret. We know some of what is being negotiated because of leaks. But while 600 corporate advisors are permitted to see the draft text and the U.S. negotiating proposals, the public is locked out.
Public Citizen is pushing hard to make the terms of the deal public. And we are working with allies worldwide to make sure that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a new style of fair-trade deal or that there is no deal at all.
So read more below and take action today to stop another bad trade pact.
Then go enjoy the holiday.
President, Public Citizen
June 29, 2012
The final cut is done.
We’ve got a sneak preview of the latest Yes Men video.
It will make you laugh.
But the threats posed by the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “free trade” agreement — the subject of the Yes Men’s latest exposé — are deadly serious. The TPP is shaping up to be NAFTA-on-steroids with the whole world.
Twenty thousand people have signed a petition to the Obama administration on TPP. Add your voice today.
With TPP negotiations resuming next week in San Diego, once again negotiators will close the doors on members of Congress, journalists and citizens and will continue forging their backroom deal for the 1%. But, the 99% will not be silenced. Activists in California and from around the world will be there, welcome or not!
Until recently, trade officials and their 600 corporate advisors were enjoying their closed-door TPP negotiations with no scrutiny. Now word is slowly spreading about how the TPP would expand corporate rights to attack our environmental and public health safeguards, jack up medicine prices, and offshore millions of good jobs.
Public Citizen is joining with the AFL-CIO on this petition demanding that the TPP work for working families. Past trade pacts accelerated the shift of jobs overseas, made it harder for our own government to spend our tax dollars on Made in America products, and put corporate profits before the interests of working families here and in other countries.
It’s past time for our leaders to support trade rules that reward companies that invest in America so we can rebuild our nation. Creating good jobs at home starts with a commitment to a new trade policy — not more of the same failed policies of the past.
If we want to bring jobs home, the last thing we need is another bad trade agreement.
Demand that U.S. TPP negotiators stand up for working families.
Sign the petition today to make U.S. negotiators hear the 99%.
Thanks for all that you do.
Brooke Harper, Senior Field Organizer
Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch
July 2, 2012, 11:42 am
Revelation Signals a Shift in Views of Homosexuality
By BRIAN STELTER
8:58 p.m. | Updated
For one of America's best-known television news anchors to be identified as gay was, until very recently, seen as a potential career-killer.
But then, on Monday, it happened. And the TV nation seemed to shrug.
The acknowledgment by Anderson Cooper - who has been the biggest star on CNN for the better part of a decade - that "I'm gay, always have been, always will be" said as much, or more, about television audiences' changing views of homosexuality as it did about the anchorman himself.
There were long discussions online about the whys and hows of coming out. There were conversations at other networks about what it might mean for other national news anchors who are gay but who have not spoken publicly about their sexuality.
Mostly, though, there was chatter about how unremarkable it all was. Mr. Cooper's sexual orientation, after all, had been an open secret for a long time. Years ago, he confided in friends and colleagues that he dreaded being known as "the gay anchor."
Since then, openly gay anchors have made inroads in other time slots and on other television networks. At a rapid pace, television news and opinion channels have reflected the growing acceptance of gays in society - and perhaps have sped up that acceptance, just as TV shows like "Ellen" and "Modern Family" have.
Said Mr. Cooper, "The tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible."
Mr. Cooper did so not on television, but rather in an e-mail message to the gay blogger Andrew Sullivan, who said he had e-mailed Mr. Cooper last week to ask him about the trend of relatively casual "I'm gay" statements by public figures. Mr. Cooper responded by continuing the trend.
By the time Mr. Sullivan published it on Monday morning, with Mr. Cooper's permission, the anchorman was out of the country on assignment for "60 Minutes" - avoiding all the subsequent interview requests and online debates. CNN said he would not be back on his prime-time program, "Anderson Cooper 360," until Thursday.
Along with "360," Mr. Cooper, 45, a son of the heiress Gloria Vanderbilt, hosts a daytime talk show on local stations, "Anderson," and contributes to "60 Minutes." The announcement on Monday makes him the most prominent openly gay journalist on American television.
"He's a role model to millions and now will inspire countless others," said Herndon Graddick, the president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, a media advocacy group.
Some people close to Mr. Cooper had speculated over the years that he kept his sexuality a sort-of secret to avoid alienating some of his fans. (Out magazine, which has identified him as gay for years, in April called him a "silver-haired heartthrob to countless middle-American housewives.")
Gail Shister, a columnist for TVNewser.com, said that in a private conversation with her years ago, Mr. Cooper said "he didn't want his sexuality to be connected to his profession."
But his thinking changed over time, just as has the country's attitudes toward gays and lesbians.
"Our operating assumption," a former CNN executive said, "was that anybody who cared, already knew, and that most people didn't care." The executive, like others interviewed for this article, asked for anonymity to preserve professional relationships.
Executives at CNN, a unit of Time Warner, declined interview requests on Monday, though they are said to be supportive of his decision.
In recent months, some television industry observers thought that Mr. Cooper might speak about his sexuality to gain attention for his one-year-old daytime television show, which had some ratings stumbles. The daytime talk format seemingly demands hosts to come forward with the personal details of their lives.
But Mr. Cooper never considered making a showy announcement on either his CNN newscast or his talk show, according to several of his colleagues.
His TV shows may have been an influence in another way, though. Mr. Cooper, according to his colleagues, was bothered by news accounts of bullying and other forms of discrimination against gays - accounts that he has covered extensively on his television shows. Those reports, one of his former producers said, along with the fact that "it just isn't a big deal anymore," contributed to his decision to speak publicly about his sexuality.
Because of his stature on television, "he feels that it will make a difference," the person added. "He wanted to help."
Mr. Cooper wrote in his e-mail on Monday that it was the mistaken impression that he was ashamed of his sexuality, combined with being "reminded recently" that there is value in standing up and being counted, that compelled him to come out. He did not elaborate on who or what reminded him, but some prominent gay journalists and commentators had made their point of view known.
The MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, for instance, said when asked about a competing television host a year ago, "I do think that if you're gay, you have a responsibility to come out." Some thought that comment to The Guardian newspaper was a reference to Mr. Cooper, but she later denied that it was.
In his e-mail, Mr. Cooper said he still wanted to preserve some of his privacy. His CNN colleague Don Lemon, a weekend anchor who identified himself as gay last year, said he thought Mr. Cooper would be able to.
"People will stop chasing him," Mr. Lemon said. "They'll stop hounding him. It'll no longer be a big deal."
How My View on Gay Marriage Changed
By DAVID BLANKENHORN
Published: June 22, 2012
IN my 2007 book, “The Future of Marriage,” and in my 2010 court testimony concerning Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that defined marriage as between a man and a woman, I took a stand against gay marriage. But as a marriage advocate, the time has come for me to accept gay marriage and emphasize the good that it can do. I’d like to explain why.
I opposed gay marriage believing that children have the right, insofar as society makes it possible, to know and to be cared for by the two parents who brought them into this world. I didn’t just dream up this notion: the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, which came into force in 1990, guarantees children this right.
Marriage is how society recognizes and protects this right. Marriage is the planet’s only institution whose core purpose is to unite the biological, social and legal components of parenthood into one lasting bond. Marriage says to a child: The man and the woman whose sexual union made you will also be there to love and raise you. In this sense, marriage is a gift that society bestows on its children.
At the level of first principles, gay marriage effaces that gift. No same-sex couple, married or not, can ever under any circumstances combine biological, social and legal parenthood into one bond. For this and other reasons, gay marriage has become a significant contributor to marriage’s continuing deinstitutionalization, by which I mean marriage’s steady transformation in both law and custom from a structured institution with clear public purposes to the state’s licensing of private relationships that are privately defined.
I have written these things in my book and said them in my testimony, and I believe them today. I am not recanting any of it.
But there are more good things under heaven than these beliefs. For me, the most important is the equal dignity of homosexual love. I don’t believe that opposite-sex and same-sex relationships are the same, but I do believe, with growing numbers of Americans, that the time for denigrating or stigmatizing same-sex relationships is over. Whatever one’s definition of marriage, legally recognizing gay and lesbian couples and their children is a victory for basic fairness.
Another good thing is comity. Surely we must live together with some degree of mutual acceptance, even if doing so involves compromise. Sticking to one’s position no matter what can be a virtue. But bending the knee a bit, in the name of comity, is not always the same as weakness. As I look at what our society needs most today, I have no stomach for what we often too glibly call “culture wars.” Especially on this issue, I’m more interested in conciliation than in further fighting.
A third good thing is respect for an emerging consensus. The population as a whole remains deeply divided, but most of our national elites, as well as most younger Americans, favor gay marriage. This emerging consensus may be wrong on the merits. But surely it matters.
I had hoped that the gay marriage debate would be mostly about marriage’s relationship to parenthood. But it hasn’t been. Or perhaps it’s fairer to say that I and others have made that argument, and that we have largely failed to persuade. In the mind of today’s public, gay marriage is almost entirely about accepting lesbians and gay men as equal citizens. And to my deep regret, much of the opposition to gay marriage seems to stem, at least in part, from an underlying anti-gay animus. To me, a Southerner by birth whose formative moral experience was the civil rights movement, this fact is profoundly disturbing.
I had also hoped that debating gay marriage might help to lead heterosexual America to a broader and more positive recommitment to marriage as an institution. But it hasn’t happened. With each passing year, we see higher and higher levels of unwed childbearing, nonmarital cohabitation and family fragmentation among heterosexuals. Perhaps some of this can be attributed to the reconceptualization of marriage as a private ordering that is so central to the idea of gay marriage. But either way, if fighting gay marriage was going to help marriage over all, I think we’d have seen some signs of it by now.
So my intention is to try something new. Instead of fighting gay marriage, I’d like to help build new coalitions bringing together gays who want to strengthen marriage with straight people who want to do the same. For example, once we accept gay marriage, might we also agree that marrying before having children is a vital cultural value that all of us should do more to embrace? Can we agree that, for all lovers who want their love to last, marriage is preferable to cohabitation? Can we discuss whether both gays and straight people should think twice before denying children born through artificial reproductive technology the right to know and be known by their biological parents?
Will this strategy work? I don’t know. But I hope to find out.
David Blankenhorn is the founder of the Institute for American Values.
Justice Scalia must resign
By E.J. Dionne Jr., Published: June 27
Justice Antonin Scalia needs to resign from the Supreme Court.
He’d have a lot of things to do. He’s a fine public speaker and teacher. He’d be a heck of a columnist and blogger. But he really seems to aspire to being a politician — and that’s the problem.
So often, Scalia has chosen to ignore the obligation of a Supreme Court justice to be, and appear to be, impartial. He’s turned “judicial restraint” into an oxymoronic phrase. But what he did this week, when the court announced its decision on the Arizona immigration law, should be the end of the line.
Not content with issuing a fiery written dissent, Scalia offered a bench statement questioning President Obama’s decision to allow some immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children to stay. Obama’s move had nothing to do with the case in question. Scalia just wanted you to know where he stood.
“After this case was argued and while it was under consideration, the secretary of homeland security announced a program exempting from immigration enforcement some 1.4 million illegal immigrants,” Scalia said. “The president has said that the new program is ‘the right thing to do’ in light of Congress’s failure to pass the administration’s proposed revision of the immigration laws. Perhaps it is, though Arizona may not think so. But to say, as the court does, that Arizona contradicts federal law by enforcing applications of federal immigration law that the president declines to enforce boggles the mind.”
What boggles the mind is that Scalia thought it proper to jump into this political argument. And when he went on to a broader denunciation of federal policies, he sounded just like an Arizona Senate candidate.
“Arizona bears the brunt of the country’s illegal immigration problem,” the politician-justice proclaimed. “Its citizens feel themselves under siege by large numbers of illegal immigrants who invade their property, strain their social services, and even place their lives in jeopardy. Federal officials have been unable to remedy the problem, and indeed have recently shown that they are simply unwilling to do so.
“Arizona has moved to protect its sovereignty — not in contradiction of federal law, but in complete compliance with it.” Cue the tea party rally applause.
As it happens, Obama has stepped up immigration enforcement. But if the 76-year-old justice wants to dispute this, he is perfectly free as a citizen to join the political fray and take on the president. But he cannot be a blatantly political actor and a justice at the same time.
Unaccountable power can lead to arrogance. That’s why justices typically feel bound by rules and conventions that Scalia seems to take joy in ignoring. Recall a 2004 incident. Three weeks after the Supreme Court announced it would hear a case over whether the White House needed to turn over documents from an energy task force that Dick Cheney had headed, Scalia went off on Air Force Two for a duck-hunting trip with the vice president.
Scalia scoffed at the idea that he should recuse himself. “My recusal is required if . . . my ‘impartiality might reasonably be questioned,’ ” he wrote in a 21-page memo. Well, yes. But there was no cause for worry, Scalia explained, since he never hunted with Cheney “in the same blind or had other opportunity for private conversation.”
Don’t you feel better? And can you just imagine what the right wing would have said if Vice President Biden had a case before the court and went duck hunting with Justice Elena Kagan?
Then there was the speech Scalia gave at Switzerland’s University of Fribourg a few weeks before the court was to hear a case involving the rights of Guantanamo detainees.
“I am astounded at the world reaction to Guantanamo,” he declared in response to a question. “We are in a war. We are capturing these people on the battlefield. We never gave a trial in civil courts to people captured in a war. War is war and it has never been the case that when you capture a combatant, you have to give them a jury trial in your civil courts. It’s a crazy idea to me.”
It was a fine speech for a campaign gathering, the appropriate venue for a man so eager to brand the things he disagrees with as crazy or mind-boggling. Scalia should free himself to pursue his true vocation. We can then use his resignation as an occasion for a searching debate over just how political this Supreme Court has become.
Judge Tells Christian Counseling Student That Her School Was Right to Punish Her for Wanting to Convert Gay Clients
June 27, 2012 By Hemant Mehta 146 Comments
It was only a week ago when the Michigan House of Representatives passed the “Julea Ward freedom of conscience act,” an act that would ban schools from punishing, say, Christian counseling students who don’t want to help gay clients.
Ward wasn’t the only Christian who refused to help people because of their sexual orientation.
Jennifer Keeton was in the same boat at Augusta State University in Georgia. She took things one step further. She made it clear that if any client ever tells her he’s gay, she’s going to respond by telling him he needs to be “cured.” She supported “conversion therapy,” something that doesn’t work and harms the patients.
In response, her school made her take diversity sensitivity workshops as part of a remediation plan. Keeton refused to participate. The school kicked her out of the program. Keeton sued. She said the school discriminated against her because of her faith. They didn’t, of course, because they weren’t asking her to alter her religious beliefs — she just had to keep them to herself and do her damn job.
Now, a Georgia federal district court has sided with the school (PDF). Yay!
Keeton’s conflation of personal and professional values, or at least her difficulty in discerning the difference, appears to have been rooted in her opinion that the immorality of homosexual relations is a matter of objective and absolute moral truth. The policies which govern the ethical conduct of counselors, however, with their focus on client welfare and self-determination, make clear that the counselor’s professional environs are not intended to be a crucible for counselors to test metaphysical or moral propositions. Plato’s Academy or a seminary the Counselor Program is not; that Keeton’s opinions were couched in absolute or ontological terms does not give her constitutional license to make it otherwise.
Keeton’s allegations do not show that imposition of the remediation plan was substantially motivated by her personal religious views. The plan was instead imposed “because she was unwilling to comply with the ACA Code of Ethics.”
The Judge, James Randal Hall, [ Republican appointed by Bush in 2007 ], issued one hell of a ruling, dismissing all of her claims. Most importantly, the judge reiterated the fact that “when someone voluntarily chooses to enter a profession, he or she must comply with its rules and ethical requirements.”
Hear that, Christian pharmacists?
It’s the right call. No school has a right to tell you what you have to believe religion-wise, but they have every right to make sure counselors do what’s best for their patients. Keeton was using her faith to harm certain ones and the school had every right to kick her out of their program because of it.
"Immature man is like a frightened child, alone in a darkening room, not seeing the nearby light switch."
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]