Daily Archive: 04/03/2013

Apr 03 2013

Hear, hear.

Brittney Griner Deserves A Real NBA Tryout, Not A Publicity Stunt

By Travis Waldron, ThinkProgress

Apr 3, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban told ESPN this morning that his team would consider drafting Brittney Griner, the 6-foot-8 standout for Baylor University’s women’s basketball team, in the second round of June’s NBA Draft.

“If she is the best on the board, I will take her,” Cuban told ESPN’s Tim McMahon Tuesday night. “I’ve thought about it. I’ve thought about it already. Would I do it? Right now, I’d lean toward yes, just to see if she can do it. You never know unless you give somebody a chance, and it’s not like the likelihood of any late-50s draft pick has a good chance of making it.”



That chance, however, should be a real one, not a publicity stunt aimed at selling tickets, as the Jazz selection of Harris admittedly was. The perception of female athletes is already too skewed by an inherently sexist world of sports to give Griner a cynical shot – or worse yet – a cynical spot on the team. Take, for instance, the immediate reaction ESPN received when it promoted Cuban’s comments on Twitter with the hashtag #GrinerNBA.



The disgusting responses #GrinerNBA received aren’t just aimed at Brittney Griner, though. They’re emblematic of a sports culture, particularly among fans, that simultaneously objectifies the appearances of female athletes and rejects them as incapable athletes. It’s no secret that the bodies of female athletes (and women in general) are objectified in ways that men’s bodies rarely, if ever, are. And women like Griner who don’t fit the “sexy” model are instantly judged as not sufficiently feminine. That helps foster stereotypes of female athletes that create problems in their own sports and drive women and girls not to sports but away from them. It also prevents us from seeing women like Griner as the phenomenal athletes they are, from appreciating their skills and accomplishments as athletic triumphs and not as diminished products because of how they look or because they aren’t playing the men’s game.

That we have so far to go in viewing Griner and other female athletes on their own merits, both as sportswomen and as people, is precisely why her NBA tryout, if it happens, can’t be a cynical stunt. Her success or failure should be based on her merits alone, and if it is, neither Griner nor the NBA will be any worse because of it. Cuban seems sincere. That’s good, because a real chance, no matter success or failure, will continue the fight to slowly break down the barriers and perceptions that face female athletes.

Apr 03 2013

‘Republican’ Obstructionism?

Last time I looked the Veteran’s Administration was part of the Executive Branch.

Run by…

Oh, you already guessed.  You people are reading ahead.

Too soon?

Apr 03 2013

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Lack of paid sick leave is unhealthy for America

More than 40 million Americans – disproportionately low-income, black and Latino workers – cook, clean, fold, and ring us up without any paid time off when they or their children are ill. On any given day, these workers must choose between caring for a sick child and their job. They handle our food and our purchases, coughing and sniffling through Kleenex, to avoid being handed a pink slip.

The absence of paid sick leave is a glaring injustice that puts American workers in the distinguished company of workers in Syria, Somalia and North Korea. It’s an affront to our values and the dignity of a hard day’s work. And it’s a drag on our families, our businesses, and our society.

Valerie Strauss: Atlanta Test Cheating: Tip of the Iceberg?

It would be easy to think that the Atlanta cheating scandal by adults on standardized tests is the worst we have seen, given last week’s startling indictment against former Atlanta schools superintendent Beverly Hall and 34 others under a law used against mobster

But you shouldn’t.

In the past four academic years, test cheating has been confirmed in 37 states and Washington D.C. (You can see details here, and, here, a list of more than 50 ways that schools can manipulate test scores.)  The true extent of these scandals remain unknown, and, as Michael Winerip of The New York Times shows here in this excellent article, it is very hard to get to the bottom of these scandals. In Atlanta, it took the will of two governors who allowed investigators to go in with a lot of time and subpoena power.

Joan Walsh: Mr. President, you won the election, not them!

Obama’s new budget will reportedly include GOP’s beloved entitlement cuts. Why he’s overlooking the real solution

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the budget will likely include the chained CPI for Social Security. “We and all of the groups engaged on this are starting to feel it may well be in the budget,” AARP vice president Nancy LeaMond told the WSJ. The same day the New York Times revealed that Obama and House Republicans are getting close to agreement on a package of Medicare cuts that would restructure Medicare parts A and B – one covers hospitalization, the other doctors’ visits – to raise deductibles for the 80 percent of seniors who see doctors but don’t require hospitalization in any given year. The Times reports that some version of the proposal might also find its way into the 2014 budget.

Including entitlement curbs would be notable, the WSJ’s Damien Parella notes, “as Republicans often have criticized the White House for offering such steps in private negotiations but never fully embracing them as part of an official budget plan.”

But if he’s now embracing them publicly, doesn’t that remove them as something to bargain over?

Allison Kilkenny: Thousands Protest the UK Government’s Brutal Austerity

Britain’s government has introduced sweeping changes to the country’s welfare, justice, health and tax systems, including a “bedroom tax” that will reduce housing subsidies that primarily benefit poor people. The levy ostensibly aims to “tackle overcrowding and encourage a more efficient use of social housing,” resulting in an estimated million “social housing” households losing 14-25 percent of their housing benefits.

The Guardian:

   Critics say it is an inefficient policy as in the north of England, families with a spare rooms outnumber overcrowded families by three to one, so thousands will be hit with the tax when there is no local need for them to move. Two-thirds of the people hit by the bedroom tax are disabled

.

Thousands of trade unions, advocates for the disabled, leading churches, and anti-poverty protesters held marches against the changes over the weekend, calling the cuts “unjust.” In a joint report released over the weekend, the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church and the Church of Scotland criticized the government of perpetuating myths about poverty in an attempt to justify the cuts.

Tory Field and Beverly Bell: From Growing Profit to Growing Food: Challenging Corporate Rule

Just outside of the small town of Maumelle, Arkansas sits your run-of-the-mill American strip mall. And as in so many other box store hubs, a Walmart dominates the landscape. [..]

We are bombarded and manipulated by corporate name brands every day. A Coca-Cola annual report some years back stated, “All of us in the Coca-Cola family wake up each morning knowing that every single one of the world’s 5.6 billion people will get thirsty that day… If we make it impossible for these 5.6 billion people to escape Coca-Cola…, then we assure our future success for many years to come. Doing anything else is not an option.”

“Impossible” to “escape” sounds daunting, downright creepy. Yet people are escaping, in droves, a food system that is more obsessed with money than with sustenance.

Abby Rapoport: The People’s Bank: Deep-Red North Dakota’s Populist Bright Spot

When the financial crisis struck in 2008, nearly every state legislature was left contending with massive revenue shortfalls. Every state legislature, that is, except North Dakota’s. In 2009, while other states were slashing budgets, North Dakota enjoyed its largest surplus. All through the Great Recession, as credit dried up and middle-class Americans lost their homes, the conservative, rural state chugged along with a low foreclosure rate and abundant credit for entrepreneurs looking for loans.

Normally one of the overlooked states in flyover country, North Dakota now had the country’s attention. So did an unlikely institution partly responsible for its fiscal health: the Bank of North Dakota. Founded in 1919 by populist farmers who’d gotten tired of big banks and grain companies shortchanging them, the only state-owned bank in America has long supported community banks and helped keep credit flowing. The bank’s $5 billion deposit base comes mostly from state taxes and funds. The money is leveraged so the bank can offer loans for local small businesses and infrastructure projects; the interest, rather than going to Wall Street banks, stays in the state. The Bank of North Dakota rarely makes direct loans; instead, when a community bank wants to give a sizable loan but lacks the capital, the state bank will partner on the loan and provide a backstop. Such partnerships help ensure that small-business owners, farmers, and ranchers can access lines of credit-and they strengthen community banks, which is why North Dakota has more local banks per capita than any other state.

Apr 03 2013

Protecting Monsanto Risks Food Safety

A rider to protect the biotech giant Monsanto from litigation was anonymously slipped into the bill, HR933, that averted the shut down have the government and signed into law by Pres. Barack Obama. The rider, known as the “Monsanto Protection Act,” has ignited a firestorm of protests not just from food safety advocates and environmentalists but from the right wing as well. Much of the ire has been directed at Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, for not drawing attention to the rider. According the Amy Goodman, at Democracy Now, the rider was written by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) with Monsanto’s help and initially was backed by Sen. John Tester (D-MT), who realizing the pernicious aspects of the rider to farmers, attempted to have it removed from the bill before it was passed. Sen. Tester failed to get the rider removed. The bill passed with the rider intact and was signed into law by Pres. Obama. On the bright side of this, the rider is temporary since the act expired in six months. It does raise wider issues of genetically modified organisms (GMO), their safety and protecting the food chain as opposed to protecting the right of a multinational corporation that wants to dominate and control food through seed supplies.

Ms. Goodman and her co-host, Aaron Maté. discuss the “Monsanto Protection Act” and the safety of genetically modified foods with two guests: Gregory Jaffe, director of the Biotechnology Project at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that addresses food and nutrition issues; and Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch and author of the book, “Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America.



Full transcript here

The IBTimes listed the most troubling aspects of the rider that was written by Monsanto lawyers:

1. The Monsanto Protection Act effectively bars federal courts from being able to halt the sale or planting of controversial genetically modified (aka GMO) or genetically engineered (GE) seeds, no matter what health issues may arise concerning GMOs in the future.

2. The provision’s language was apparently written in collusion with Monsanto.

-Many members of Congress were apparently unaware that the Monsanto Protection Act even existed within the Bill they were voting on.

3. The President did nothing to stop it, either. On Tuesday, Obama signed HR 933.

4. It sets a terrible precedent…The message it sends is that corporations can get around consumer safety protections if they get Congress on their side.

The article also revealed that Sen. Blunt has received over $60,000 from Monsanto in campaign contributions. Sen. Mikulski issued a statement that she “understands the anger over this provision. She didn’t put the language in the bill and doesn’t support it either.”  

The controversial provision has also raised the ire of the right wing Tea Party

“It is not the purview of Tea Party Patriots to comment on the merits of GMOs — that is a discussion and debate for experts and activists within that field,” wrote Dustin Siggins, who blogs for Tea Party Patriots, on the group’s website. “From the perspective of citizens who want open, transparent government that serves the people, however, the so-called ‘Monsanto Protection Act,’ Section 735 of the Continuing Resolution, is one heck of a special interest loophole for friends of Congress.”

Food Democracy Now has begun a petition that has already been signed by 250,000, demanding that President Obama to issue an Executive Order requiring the mandatory labeling of GMOs.

Late last night President Barack Obama signed H.R. 933, which contained the Monsanto Protection Act into law. President Obama knowingly signed the Monsanto Protection Act over the urgent pleas of more than 250,000 Americans who asked that he use his executive authority to veto it. President Obama failed to live up to his oath to protect the American people and our constitution.

Today we’re calling on President Obama to issue an executive order to call for the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods.

Not only is GMO labeling a reasonable and common sense solution to the continued controversy that corporations like Monsanto, DuPont and Dow Chemical have created by subverting our basic democratic rights, but it is a basic right that citizens in 62 other countries around the world already enjoy, including Europe, Russia, China, India, South Africa and Saudi Arabia.

Join us in demanding mandatory labeling of GMO foods. Now’s the time!

Call President Barack Obama (202) 456-1111 or if that line is busy, please call (202) 456-1414 – then ask at least 5 of your friends to join you!

Apr 03 2013

On This Day In History April 3

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

April 3 is the 93rd day of the year (94th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 272 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1948, President Harry S.Truman signs Foreign Assistance Act.

President Harry S. Truman signs off on legislation establishing the Foreign Assistance Act of 1948, more popularly known as the Marshall Plan. The act eventually provided over $12 billion of assistance to aid in the economic recovery of Western Europe.

In the first years following the end of World War II, the economies of the various nations of Western Europe limped along. Unemployment was high, money was scarce, and homelessness and starvation were not unknown in the war-ravaged countries. U.S. policymakers considered the situation fraught with danger. In the developing Cold War era, some felt that economic privation in Western Europe made for a fertile breeding ground for communist propaganda.

The Marshall Plan (officially the European Recovery Program, ERP) was the large-scale economic program, 1947-1951, of the United States for rebuilding and creating a stronger economic foundation for the countries of Europe. The initiative was named after Secretary of State George Marshall and was largely the creation of State Department officials, especially William L. Clayton and George F. Kennan. Marshall spoke of urgent need to help the European recovery in his address at Harvard University in June 1947.

The reconstruction plan, developed at a meeting of the participating European states, was established on June 5, 1947. It offered the same aid to the Soviet Union and its allies, but they did not accept it. The plan was in operation for four years beginning in April 1948. During that period some US $13 billion in economic and technical assistance were given to help the recovery of the European countries that had joined in the Organization for European Economic Co-operation. This $13 billion was in the context of a U.S. GDP of $258 billion in 1948, and was on top of $12 billion in American aid to Europe between the end of the war and the start of the Plan that is counted separately from the Marshall Plan.

The ERP addressed each of the obstacles to postwar recovery. The plan looked to the future, and did not focus on the destruction caused by the war. Much more important were efforts to modernize European industrial and business practices using high-efficiency American models, reduce artificial trade barriers, and instill a sense of hope and self-reliance.

By 1952 as the funding ended, the economy of every participant state had surpassed pre-war levels; for all Marshall Plan recipients, output in 1951 was 35% higher than in 1938.[8] Over the next two decades, Western Europe enjoyed unprecedented growth and prosperity, but economists are not sure what proportion was due directly to the ERP, what proportion indirectly, and how much would have happened without it. The Marshall Plan was one of the first elements of European integration, as it erased trade barriers and set up institutions to coordinate the economy on a continental level-that is, it stimulated the total political reconstruction of western Europe.

Belgian economic historian Herman Van der Wee concludes the Marshall Plan was a “great success”:

   “It gave a new impetus to reconstruction in Western Europe and made a decisive contribution to the renewal of the transport system, the modernization of industrial and agricultural equipment, the resumption of normal production, the raising of productivity, and the facilitating of intra-European trade.”

George Catlett Marshall (December 31, 1880 – October 16, 1959) was an American military leader, Chief of Staff of the Army, Secretary of State, and the third Secretary of Defense. Once noted as the “organizer of victory” by Winston Churchill for his leadership of the Allied victory in World War II, Marshall served as the United States Army Chief of Staff during the war and as the chief military adviser to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. As Secretary of State, his name was given to the Marshall Plan, for which he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953.

Apr 03 2013

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament 2013: Regional Final Midwest

Ok, so it was a big upset, but the biggest EVAH!?

Total Perspective Vortex.

It’s all about the Zaphod baby.

Results

Seed Score Team Record Seed Score Team Record Region
(2) 74 Tennessee 27-7 (6) 59 Oklahoma 24-11 Midwest
(1) 82 Baylor 34-2 * (5) 81 Louisville 26-8 Midwest

Matchup

Time Network Seed Team Record Seed Team Record Region
9 ESPN (2) Tennessee 27-7 * (5) Louisville 26-8 Midwest

Apr 03 2013

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament 2013: Regional Final South

Results

Seed Score Team Record Seed Score Team Record Region
(1) 93 Notre Dame 34-1 (12) 63 Kansas 20-14 South
(2) 53 Duke 32-2 (6) 45 Nebraska 25-9 South

Matchup

Time Network Seed Team Record Seed Team Record Region
7 ESPN (1) Notre Dame 34-1 (2) Duke 32-2 South