The start of climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa, was greeted by extreme rains that killed 10 people in the ensuing floods, highlighting the threat of climate change. Now blobs of black oil have surfaced on the beaches north of Durban, exemplifying another cost of fossil fuel dependence. “Residents began noticing pockets of oil on the shores of Zinkwazi, Salt Rock, Zimbali and Blythedale beaches,” the New Age paper reports. Officials have not yet determined the source of the oil contamination.
I will admit to being somewhat dorkily excited for Tony Scott’s upcoming Narco Sub, a movie about the battle between efforts by drug cartels to use primitive semi-submersibles to get cocaine into the United States and U.S. law enforcement agents’ effort to stop them, despite the fact that it seems inevitable that Denzel Washington will get cast as a badass DEA agent, that things will blow up rather flagrantly, and that it will probably be terrible. But even though Scott won’t actually take this path, the Narco Sub story is the kind of action movie that could be adapted to be unpredictable and challenging.
In real life, the hero of the fight (which honestly is a mix of action-packed and pretty goofy) against drug trafficking via home-made submarines is Sandra Brooks, the Navy’s Deputy Director of Intelligence and Security and Chief of Innovation and Technology, who started a program to go after “unconventional targets operating in the maritime environment.” As she said when she won a major award for public service in 2010, her first score was nicknamed Big Foot because her colleagues thought it was a myth — and they caught 9.2 tons of contraband along with the semi-sub. You could upset all kinds of movie conventions by making the Narco Sub hero a woman (and a lesbian — Brooks is gay, which shakes up the action-romance narrative nicely), and in the best tradition of Spooks, someone who figures things out from an office rather than parachuting in to a dumpy submarine to punch drug traffickers in the schnoz. They’ll never do it, of course. But I would watch the hell out of that movie, or anything else that acknowledges that there’s more than one way to beat the bad guys, and more than one kind of person capable of doing it.
Recently the GOP presidential contenders have been engaged in a bizarre game of one-upsmanship on the issue of immigration, competing to offer the most merciless approach America’s undocumented population. Michele Bachmann recently proposed deporting every single one of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country — a plan that would cost more than $2.6 trillion.
Now Gov. Rick Perry, who has been trying to fight the perception that his immigration stance is too moderate, is following in Bachmann’s footsteps:
Rick Perry vowed to deport all illegal immigrants detained in the country if elected president as he sought on Tuesday to burnish his conservative credentials on immigration ahead of the 2012 Republican contest.
The Texas governor has faced criticism from Republican rivals like Mitt Romney for being “soft” on illegal immigrants, because those who live in Texas can attend state universities at the same cost as other Texas residents. [...]
“My policy will be to detain and deport every illegal alien who is apprehended in this country,” Perry said. “And we’ll do it with an expedited hearing process so that millions of illegal aliens are not released into the general population with some hearing date down the road.”
Perry made the remarks while campaigning in New Hampshire with notorious Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is a hero to many conservatives for his degrading and illegal treatment of detained immigrants in his charge. The Perry campaign has embraced Arpaio’s endorsement to try to bolster his “tough on immigration” credentials. Perry contrasted his policy of deporting every immigrant with the Obama administration’s “horrific policy” of releasing non-violent immigrants.
As ThinkProgress noted Monday, it costs $23,148 for each undocumented immigrant to be apprehended, detained, legally processed, and transported out of the country. And the price tag may be even higher for the expedited process Perry calls for. A deportation-only policy would amount to $922 in new taxes for “every man, woman, and child in this country,” and the cost of deporting undocumented immigrants already in the country would total $285 billion over five years.
Perry’s fellow candidates pounced on him at an earlier debate for once supporting in-state tuition for undocumented students and opposing a border fence with Mexico. Plagued by allegations that he is insufficiently cruel to immigrants, Perry has taken a sharp rightward turn to placate the conservative base. Among other things, he’s attacked health care and education for poor immigrants to deflect from his past positions.
Last night, the city of Los Angeles reversed its long-standing policy of mutual cooperation with Occupy Los Angeles and raided the encampment on the steps of city hall, evicting protesters. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he decided on the eviction when he learned that children were sometimes present at the camp:
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said he decided it was time to evict Occupy L.A. protesters from the City Hall lawn after learning that there were children staying there. Given the smattering of assaults and other incidents reported at the camp, “the chaos out there could produce something awful,” he said in an interview with The Times.
Certainly, looking out for the welfare of children is an appropriate concern for the city. But it’s unclear how clearing the occupation encampment rather than working with protesters would result in a better situation for the kids present. After all, the city had been working with protesters to maintain the encampment for months, and had secured almost full cooperation with all regulations and demands.
An even more pertinent point is that Los Angeles already has thousands of children on the streets. A 2011 report estimated that there were 13,500 homeless students in the area. One would hope that if the city of Los Angeles was willing to send thousands of riot gear-clad police officers to evict an encampment of nonviolent protesters supposedly out of concern for children, that it will be making an even more intense effort over the coming days to alleviate the situation of the thousands of homeless children in the city. Perhaps the city could even team up with a broad-based social movement protesting economic injustice to do it.
Gingrich: It’s ‘Almost Inevitable’ That Lawmakers Will Be Forced To Put Their Investments In Blind Trusts
Earlier this month, a 60 Minutes investigation showed that House Financial Services Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-AL) made stock trades based on information he received in private briefings during the 2008 financial crisis, earning nearly $30,000. Since then, Congress has discovered a deep desire to prevent this sort of insider trading, with nearly 100 representatives signing on to the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act in the House and Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) introducing companion legislation in the Senate.
2012 GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich, who has previously said that insider trading laws should “absolutely” apply to information lawmakers receive in private briefings, predicted last night during an event in South Carolina that lawmakers will eventually have to place their investments in a blind trust during their terms in office:
What we will migrate to, my prediction is, that members of Congress, on winning office will have to end up putting their money in blind trusts, managed by other people with no communication, because it is so clear that they have so much power that there’s no way to build trust in an environment where they can make money out of what they’re doing. And I think that’ll be the culmination of this whole series of things, is it will create a new pattern that says if you go into Congress and you have any significant amount of resources they go into a blind trust and are managed for you by somebody who does not talk to you, doesn’t have any insider knowledge about what’s going on in Congress. It’s unfortunate, but I think that’s going to become, something like that will be almost inevitable.
On this particular issue, Gingrich is doing a good job seizing the populist position. However, he has made clear that he doesn’t have much more than contempt for the wider concerns of the population when it comes to fairness in financial markets. Just yesterday, he called on President Obama to “repudiate the concept of the 99 and the 1,” a direct shot at the Occupy Wall Street movement’s call for an economy that works for everybody.
During a town hall forum in Newberry, South Carolina last night, Newt Gingrich was asked a detailed question about his view on HIV/AIDS treatments. Gingrich conceded that he didn’t have enough knowledge to answer the question and then quipped, “One of the real changes that comes when you start running for president – as opposed to being an analyst on Fox – is I have to actually know what I’m talking about.” Watch it:
A day after Iranian demonstrators stormed the U.K.’s embassy in Tehran in a major breach of diplomatic rules, British authorities announced they are expelling Iranian diplomatic officials from London. Reuters reports that British Foreign Secretary William Hague told Parliament that the government notified the embassy that all Iranian officials must leave the U.K. within 48 hours. “The Iranian charge (d’affaires) in London is being informed now that we require the immediate closure of the Iranian embassy in London,” he said, also officially announcing that the U.K.’s embassy in Tehran had closed.
November 30 News: China Upset About Kyoto Withdrawl; Top UN Scientist Lays Out Climate Change Dangers
Other stories below: Andy Revkin explains the “Revkin” collection of climategate emails
The plan to withdraw from Kyoto Protocol will severely mar the talking process at the UN climate conference in Durban, South Africa, the Chinese delegation told Xinhua on Tuesday.
It will further hurt the international community’s endeavor to cope with climate change, said Su Wei, deputy head of the Chinese delegation to the Durban conference and chief negotiator on climate change.
The attempted withdrawal “will definitely add to the obstacles in our negotiation,” Su noted, in reference to reports about a recent decision by the Canadian cabinet.
Su said the Canadian delegation to the Durban conference had not yet clarified its stance.
“I learnt this message from the media,” he said.
Earlier in the day, Canadian media reported that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet had already decided to withdraw from the agreement, and had planned to formally announce the decision after the Durban conference.
The U.N.’s top climate scientist cautioned climate negotiators Wednesday that global warming is leading to human dangers and soaring financial costs, but containing carbon emissions will have a host of benefits.
Rajendra Pachauri, head of the Nobel-winning Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, summarized a litany of potential disasters at a U.N. climate conference in the South African city of Durban. Although he gave no explicit deadlines, the implication was that time is running out for greenhouse gas emissions to level off and begin to decline.
Heat waves currently experienced once every 20 years will happen every other year by the end of this century, he said.
Coastal areas and islands are threatened with inundation by global warming, rain-reliant agriculture in Africa will shrink by half and many species will disappear. Within a decade, up to 250 million more people will face the stress of scarce water….
To stabilize carbon concentrations in the atmosphere would slow economic growth by 0.12 percent per year, he said, but those costs would be offset by improved health, greater energy security and more secure food supplies.
Since Nov. 19, 2009, when someone unknown distributed a large batch of climate-related e-mail messages extracted from servers at the University of East Anglia, and now again with a newly released cache, I’ve noted that I appear repeatedly in the exchanges, both as a message author and subject. Here’s the search result for my name.
As a reporter covering climate science and policy in depth since 1988, I’d be ashamed if my name had not been in these documents. That would imply I wasn’t doing my job. In any case, all kinds of accusations and insinuations have flowed as a result. Check this search of Twitter for ‘revkin climategate’ for a sampler. Alana Goodman, an assistant online editor of Commentary, joined the crowd with a piece criticizing me earlier this week.
I reached her via Twitter last night and then emailed a longer reaction (which you can read at the end of this post). I also said I’d answer a few questions….
On bad media: There has been plenty of misinformation and/or disinformation on climate disseminated by the media over the years — much of it related to the AGW point above (conflating all climate science with flawed examples, or mashing up meanings). One case in point was George Will’s coverage of polar climate issues. Another was Time Magazine’s “Be Worried, Be Very Worried” cover story….Q. In another e-mail you wrote, “the only discourse now is among folks who believe human-forced climate change is a huge problem…the ‘hotter’ voices are doing their job well. I’m doing mine.” From the context and the linked article, I take this to mean that your “job” was to inform the public that the only respectable discussions on climate change were going on between the “reasonable” AGW believers (you, in this case), and the extreme AGW believers – cutting out the skeptics completely. Is that what you were trying to say, or can you clarify?
A. I find it hard to draw the same conclusion in looking at my coverage, which has long included the voices of researchers challenging the predominant line of thinking on climate science, among them Roger Pielke Sr., Richard Lindzen, who was quoted in the 2006 article you read, John Christy, Ivar Giaever (a Nobelist who rejects the science pointing to dangerous greenhouse warming) and others.
Submerged springs along the Yucatan coast may offer a hint of what the coral reefs will look like in coming decades, as global warming inexorably increases concentrations of carbon dioxide in the world’s oceans.
The naturally low pH (a measure of acidity) in the water around the springs creates conditions similar to those that will result from the widespread acidification of surface waters that scientists expect to occur as the oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
A team led by scientists at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has been studying the submarine springs at Puerto Morelos near the Mesoamerican reef for the past three years.
In a paper published online Nov. 20 in the the journal Coral Reefs, the researchers reported that they found small, patchily distributed colonies of only a few species of corals, without the structurally complex corals that compose the framework of the nearby Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, one of the Caribbean’s largest coral reef ecosystems.
The Persian Gulf nation of Qatar has been selected as the site of next year’s United Nations climate change meeting, edging out South Korea. The announcement came as this year’s meeting opened in Durban, South Africa, with delegates from 194 nations facing growing concerns about rising global temperatures and more frequent climate-related catastrophes.
The announcement from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change said that Qatar and South Korea would work closely to mold the agenda for next year’s meeting, known as the 18th annual Conference of the Parties, or COP 18. The meetings rotate among regions. The 2009 meeting was held in Copenhagen; last year’s meeting was in Cancún, Mexico.
How many workers does it take to change a light bulb? Not as many as it used to.
Bulbs built around light-emitting diodes—semiconductors that produce bright light when zapped with electricity—last 10 times longer than conventional bulbs, meaning fewer ladders blocking frozen-food aisles or unsightly scaffolds towering in hotel lobbies as workers change blown-out bulbs. With energy savings not yet enough in some cases to cover the higher cost of the new bulbs, it’s lower maintenance costs that are getting sales across the finish line.
Welcome to Clean Start, ThinkProgress Green’s morning round-up of the latest in climate and clean energy. Here is what we’re reading. What are you?
The world is getting hotter, with 2011 one of the warmest years on record, and humans are to blame, a report by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) said on Tuesday. [Reuters]
Canada has received a public scolding for its climate-change policy from several prominent South Africans, including anti-apartheid hero Archbishop Desmond Tutu. [Canadian Press]
Major global banks are exacerbating the fight against global warming by supplying power utilities and mining firms with ample funds to build coal-fired plants, according to a report released by non-governmental groups at the climate talks in Durban. [Reuters]
Durban’s drinking water is safe despite the recent floods that left a trail of destruction, although swimming at some beaches is discouraged, a regional health official said. [City Press]
“We think Kyoto will emerge alive from the conference, but it will be on life support,” said Eileen Claussen, whose organization is sponsored by Shell Oil. [Guardian]
The U.N.’s top climate scientist cautioned climate negotiators Wednesday that global warming is leading to human dangers and soaring financial costs, but containing carbon emissions will have a host of benefits. [AP]
Organizations working with indigenous peoples living in forests say the United Nations program on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation in Developing Countries (REDD+) is just another way for big corporations to reap huge profits. [IPS]
“The world would be better off if the UN talks were to focus on technical matters like transparency and the global climate fund, at least for the indefinite future,” Michael Levi argues. [Council on Foreign Relations]
The Clean Development Mechanism, the U.N.’s carbon offset scheme, will play only a small role in the developed world’s pledge to raise $100 billion in annual climate aid for developing nations by 2020, and analysts say that is driving the need for new sources of funding. [Reuters]
OTHER CLIMATE NEWS
Jim Brozena, executive director of the Luzerne County Flood Protection Authority, told a congressional subcommittee Tuesday that federal officials need to have a better understanding of the challenges facing local governments when responding to extreme floods. [Scranton Times-Leader]
Global warming is going to threaten the survival of climate-sensitive walnut trees, scientists confirm. [Science Daily]
Scientists have found that PCBs and chlordane are widely present in the soils of downtown residential Cedar Rapids, Iowa. [Science Daily]
Carbon-fueled floods in Australia have spurred a deadly outbreak of the Hendra virus. [Daily Climate]
An Australian commission warns that climate change related injury, disease and deaths will continue to grow in decades to come unless sustained action is taken. [ABC]
The U.S. government proposed protecting old-growth forests in Idaho and Washington state on Tuesday to save the nation’s dwindling population of mountain caribou, popularly known as wild reindeer. [Reuters]
The final hearings on regulations that would end a ban on natural gas fracking in New York state got under way on Tuesday in a packed auditorium at Sullivan County Community College. [Reuters]
The Environmental Protection Agency would let power plants apply for more time to comply with new pollution standards under a rule sent to the White House for review, according to people familiar with the process. [Bloomberg]
One of Mitt Romney’s top advisers works for a lobbying firm that once represented Solyndra, the now-bankrupt solar energy firm that has come under scrutiny for the federal loans it received – and has been criticized by Romney himself. [Boston Globe]
Enbridge Inc’s proposed $5.3 billion pipeline to British Columbia poses a raft of environmental risks, according to a new report that signals the project will become the next battleground over the future of Canada’s tar sands. [Reuters]
Federal prosecutors on Tuesday said BP broke pledges to improve operations after causing the worst pipeline spill on Alaska’s North Slope five years ago and should be subject to additional punishment for its negligence. [Reuters]
During one particularly contentious moment, a group of educators invaded a meeting of a state legislative meeting, holding a mock “citizens’ arrest” of legislators for planning to cut education funding in defiance of the spirit of a February ruling of King County Superior Court Judge John Erlick, ruled that the state was failing to meet its funding obligations. Watch the disruption, led by teacher Jesse Hagopian:
Hagopian was arrested following the disruption. He later released this statement: “I was arrested today at the capitol for protesting against the budget cuts. Still no bankers in jail, but they have arrested teachers trying to get money for the schools. And as we pointed out, it is the Washington State Legislature that is breaking the law by failing their constitutional duty to fully fund education. Anyway, I’m out now and back to school tomorrow! They can’t jail an idea whose time has come!”
As a reminder, few financial executives whose fraud and other misdeeds caused the recession have been arrested. Yet teachers angrily protesting the budget cuts resulting from the recession, along with other protesters nationwide, are being arrested on a regular basis.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is a strong opponent of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, claiming that the “unconstitutional” law is full of “unfunded mandates” that could “overwhelm our health care system.” But a new report from a 24-member advisory council he appointed in 2010 finds that health reform would cut the number of uninsured Virginians in half and significantly reduce state expenditures on uncompensated care.
The council, which is tasked with developing recommendations for implementing the ACA in Virginia and advising the General Assembly on how to establish an exchange, is urging the state to create a quasi-government Health Benefit Exchange with a governing board, “so that Virginia policy makers will have maximum freedom to shape health insurance markets and health reform in Virginia.” As a result:
[R]oughly half of the uninsured in Virginia will gain coverage, a little more than 520,000 people, and that 420,000 of them will gain Medicaid coverage. A little over 100,000 Virginians would gain private coverage, and more than 60 percent of them will be in group as opposed to non-group markets…[A]lmost 400,000 of those who gain coverage are in households with incomes less than two times the federal poverty level, though 70,000 of the formerly uninsured earn more than three times poverty today.
According to modeling conducted for the council by the Urban Institute, uncompensated “care for the uninsured (and therefore implicit expense now borne by providers and public plus private payers) is expected to fall by over $800 million, the uninsured and demand for safety net care will not disappear from Virginia, though the scale of it should decline by roughly half.” The group also estimated that approximately 150,000 Virginians will receive federal subsidies to help them afford health insurance coverage.
McDonnell has forwarded the council’s report to the General Assembly, which must begin “planning the exchanges by 2013 so they can be operational in 2014.”
– By a 61 to 37 vote over objections by the Obama administration, the U.S. Senate voted to keep a provision in the annual defense budget authorization bill that would force many terrorism-linked suspects to be handed over to military custody, thereby closing the door on civilian trials.
– The Senate voted down an amendment that would have removed the provision from the bill that authorizes the president to use “all necessary and appropriate force” to detain suspected terrorists and instead allow further hearings on how detainee policy should change.
– The Obama administration dispatched top officials Vice President Biden and Secretary of State Clinton to Iraq and Myanmar, respectively, on missions to shore up post-U.S.-withdrawal relations in the former case and check up on early reforms and push for more in the latter.
– After tensions flared with the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan following a raid that killed 24 of its soldiers, Pakistan’s cabinet decided to boycott an international conference starting next week in Bonn, Germany, on the future of its war-torn Central Asian neighbor despite pleas from the Afghan government.
– Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is preparing legislation to reverse up to $600 million in automatic defense budget cuts following the failure of a special congressional debt-reduction panel to reach an agreement.
– The Muslim Brotherhood is leading in initial results from Egypt’s parliamentary elections but judges overseeing the counting report that the Islamist party is facing stiff competition from both more hard line groups and a liberal-secular alliance.
– Turkey froze assets of Syrian officials, suspended ties with the country’s central bank and banned all military sales, in a series of moves coming on top of sanctions imposed by the Arab League, the U.S. and the E.U.
– North Korea yesterday reported progress in building a new nuclear reactor and producing enriched uranium but also appeared to invited international inspectors to verity that the facilities are for peaceful purposes.
Medical progress now ensures that HIV/AIDS is no longer a death sentence, but only for those who can access good medical care. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that almost three out of four Americans with HIV are not receiving enough medicine or regular health care “to stay healthy or prevent themselves from transmitting the virus to others.” Out of the 1.2 million people in the U.S. have HIV, 850,000 aren’t receiving regular treatment to keep the virus at a low enough level to prevent transmission or hurt their own health and 240,000 Americans don’t even know they’re infected with HIV.
For some, medical treatment is hard to come by. A Williams Institute study found that 5 percent of dentists in Los Angeles refused services to those with HIV/AIDs, a rate that is “lower than that of other health care providers. Over the past decade, “55% of obstetricians, 46% of skilled nursing facilities, and 25% of plastic surgeons” in L.A. “had policies that specifically discriminated against people living with HIV or AIDS.” Successful treatment rates “were lowest in blacks and women,” according to CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden.
British public sector workers are taking part in the largest strike in a generation to protest austerity measures. Government officials “across Britain said ">thousands of schools had closed because teachers were on strike and many parents had taken a day off from their own jobs to look after children.”
A Pew Research poll finds that more Americans now disagree with the Tea Party, including voters in districts represented by one of the 60 Tea Party Caucus members in Congress. Twenty-seven percent disagree with the Tea Party now, an opinion that “has flipped since a year ago” when 27 percent agreed with the movement and only 22 percent disagreed.
So far, the Treasury Department’s Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) has only helped 900,000 homeowners refinance their mortgages, instead of the expected four to five million. But starting in early December, banks will begin using new criteria that could double the number of homeowners helped.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in Burma today, becoming the first U.S. top diplomat to visit the country in more than 50 years. She is expected to press Burmese leaders on suspected weapons trades with North Korea and bring potential incentives for the country’s leaders to continue political reforms. “We and many other nations are quite hopeful that these flickers of progress…will be ignited into a movement for change,” Clinton said.
The U.K. will remove diplomats from its embassy in Tehran a day after Iranian protesters stormed the British Embassy there, officials announced today. Iranian protesters, angry over aggressive new sanctions by Britain, tore down the British flag, chanted “Death to England,” and briefly detained six staff members yesterday.
Budgets are strained as the number of students receiving free or reduced-price lunches rose 17 percent from 2006 to 2011 as unemployment and home losses pushed millions of children into the program for the first time. The number of students in the program is now 21 million, up from 18 million four years ago, and 11 states saw enrollment increase by 25 percent or more.
Smarting from a judge’s rejection of its settlement with Citigroup, the Securities and Exchange Commission asked Congress to enact legislation that will allow the SEC “to impose fines up to nine times greater than the maximum currently allowed by U.S. law” on firms and people that commit fraud. If these powers had been used in the Citigroup case, the maximum penalty would have been $1.44 billion rather than $160 million.
And finally: Looking for the perfect holiday gift for the man who already has lots of gold bullion stashed in his basement? Look no further than the The Ron Paul Family Cookbook, which will have you cooking up anti-Fed conspiracy theories between 28 pages of “tasty” meals. The book also comes “packed full of photos of the entire Paul family.”
Welcome to The Morning Pride, ThinkProgress LGBT’s 8:45 AM round-up of the latest in LGBT policy, politics, and some culture too! Here’s what we’re reading this morning, but let us know what you’re checking out as well. Follow us all day on Twitter at @TPEquality.
- North Carolina’s mayors are meeting this week and they’ve invited one of the marriage inequality amendment’s sponsors from the state Senate to join them.
- Freedom to Marry’s Evan Wolfson says that North Carolina’s proposed amendment will tie the hands of future generations.
- A New York judge has allowed a lawsuit challenging the state’s marriage equality legislation to proceed.
- A former August State University counseling student continues to allege her religious freedom was violated when the program expelled her for not fulfilling the code of ethics when it came to working with gay clients.
- The new organization Justin’s Gift is working to create support for Minnesota’s LGBT youth.
- Jenkintown, Pennsylvania has become the 25th Pennsylvania municipality to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Evansville, Indiana has also added LGBT nondiscrimination protections.
- The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce has signed onto an amicus brief opposing the Defense of Marriage Act.
- Radical anti-gay activist Randy Thomasson thinks teaching California kids about LGBT people is leading “lambs to the slaughter.”
- Leaders of ex-gay umbrella group Exodus International recently met in secret to discuss how to avoid financial ruin.
- The leader of Maine’s anti-marriage equality movement reminds us he supports ex-gay therapy or a life of celibacy for all gay people.
- A retired Colorado sheriff is being held in a jail that bears his name after being caught exchanging methamphetamine for gay sex.
- Campus Pride is beginning to premiere a new documentary called “Legalize Gay.”
- Openly gay actor John Barrowman, star of Doctor Who-spinoff Torchwood, thwarted a real-life crime.
As one is wont to do over the holidays, I found myself watching some episodes of Friends, a show I caught only sporadically when it was airing the first time around, with my family. I found myself particularly struck by the episode where Ross gets anxious over the possibility that a new girlfriend will turn out to be a lesbian because she’s hanging out with Susan, his lesbian ex-wife Carol’s partner. At the time, I found the scenario sort of grating: it’s irritating to watch straight guys angst over whether the supply of women who are sexually available to them will dwindle.
But the more I thought about it, the more I think the episode is a smart illustration of the ways in which closeting and lack of familiarity with gay people are bad for heterosexuals as well as for gay people themselves. Because Ross’s main experience with coming out has been with someone who didn’t figure out she was gay until after they were married, it’s not totally illogical that he’s anxious about it happening again. And I think it’s fair to acknowledge that damage done to straight partners in those situations, even if the impact is worse for people who are denying their true selves and the full range of experience that comes with it. This is not purely the stuff of fiction, or the ’50s, as evidenced by the column last week in the New York Times about an academic couple who stayed together for appearances and, as they told themselves, for their children. And the fact that Ross doesn’t appear to know very much about gay people — including the fact that having a very close lesbian friend doesn’t mean you’re going to spontaneously flip your sexual orientation — heightens his anxiety. It’s not a perfect episode, but it’s a nice little fable about the need for familiarity to dispel fear.
Welcome to Justiceline, ThinkProgress Justice’s morning round-up of the latest legal news and developments. Remember to follow us on Twitter at @TPJustice.
- A group of right-wing Christian groups are staging a “live nativity scene” in front of the Supreme Court, complete with animals. The display is an act of protest against what they perceive as increasing “hostility toward public expressions of faith especially during the Christmas Season.”
- GOP contender Gov. Rick Perry is desperately trying to counter the perception that he’s merciful to immigrants by embracing the endorsement of Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is notorious for his degrading and often illegal treatment of detained undocumented immigrants.
- Did the Supreme Court send a grandmother back to prison just to teach the Ninth Circuit a lesson? Emily Bazelon reports that in their largely unnoticed but “most vindictive [decision] of the term,” the justices sent a women back to prison for a crime she probably did not commit — apparently to keep the lower court in line.
- Despite persistent under-reporting, hate crimes in Mississippi are on the rise. More than two-thirds of Mississippi’s counties failed to file a report with the Justice Department, and activists say the actual numbers may be twice as high as what’s reported.
- Thirty years after he attempted to assassinate then President Ronald Reagan, John Hinckley Jr. is seeking release from the mental hospital where he’s been since 1982. A jury found Hinckley not guilty by reason of insanity.
- Yesterday the Senate struck down an amendment that would’ve eased the country’s tough policy on detainees. The amendment to the Defense Department spending bill would have removed a section that authorizes the president to use “all necessary and appropriate force” to detain people suspected of terrorism, which many say is a threat to constitutional liberties.
Welcome to ThinkProgress Economy’s morning link roundup. This is what we’re reading. Have you seen any interesting news? Let us know in the comments section. You can also follow ThinkProgress Economy on Twitter.
- Republicans yesterday said that they will join Democrats in supporting an extension of the expiring payroll tax cut, but won’t agree to higher taxes on millionaires to pay for it. [Wall Street Journal]
- European finance minsters yesterday delayed any action on a fiscal rescue for the continent “until their bosses meet next week in Brussels.” [Associated Press]
- Federal Reserve Vice-Chairman Janet Yellen said yesterday that “the U.S. central bank has room to ease monetary policy further, possibly by providing more information on the path of interest rates.” [Reuters]
- The ratings agency Standard & Poor’s yesterday “reduced its credit ratings on 15 big banking companies, mostly in the Europe and the United States,” after overhauling its ratings criteria. [Reuters]
- Opponents of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law get set to challenge it in court. [Politico]
- The Federal Communications Commission said yesterday that “AT&T’s internal analysis and past practices contradict the company’s claims that its merger with T-Mobile would create jobs.” [Washington Post]
- The number of students receiving subsidized school lunches “rose to 21 million last school year from 18 million in 2006-7, a 17 percent increase.” [New York Times]
- Bank of America’s stock nears the $5 “danger zone.” [CNN Money]
- I was on Countdown with Keith Olbermann last night, talking about this story on foreclosure fraud in the military. Watch it:
Montreal police deployed a bizarre tactic against Occupy Montreal demonstrators last week — branding. Following the arrests of several protesters on Friday, police “marked some with an ink that could only be seen under a UV light.” Canadian news station CTV confirmed with police that the branding is occurring, with police officials saying it’s one tactic they are using to identify demonstrators to prevent their return. Protesters are now considering suing over the branding. One protester, Nina Haigh, uploaded a photograph of her hands marked with a “2″ by police: