No safety for yooou

Dec 6th, 2019 2:10 pm | By

Why would anyone need regulations on dangerous chemicals? We all have sense enough to stay away from dangerous chemicals without any damn government bureaucrat telling us to, don’t we?

A few days ago in Texas:

Early Wednesday morning, inside a chemical manufacturing complex just southeast of Beaumont, a building erupted in a ball of flames, injuring eight people and sending acrid smoke wafting over southeast Texas. The explosion and subsequent fires at the Texas Petroleum Chemicals (TPC) Group plant, located near a residential area in Port Neches, knocked out the windows and damaged roofs of surrounding homes. The day before Thanksgiving, residents within the four-mile radius of the plant were ordered to evacuate.

Ok…well…so don’t live four miles from a chemical plant then, right?

Fires burned throughout the weekend, and all but one was put out by Tuesday. The TPC plant, which has a long history of violating state and federal environmental laws, manufactures butadiene, a known human carcinogen that can cause blurred vision, nausea, unconsciousness, and respiratory paralysis. Officials also have warned that residents could be exposed to asbestos. “I just worry about what we’re breathing in,” one resident told the local ABC affiliate. Another resident told the TV station, “You don’t really realize how close you are to danger until something like that happens in your own backyard.”

And, bonus, once you do know you can’t leave (unless you’re renting) because who’s going to buy your house near the chemical explosion?

The EPA estimates that 177 million Americans live near high-risk facilities that store or use potentially dangerous chemicals. One in three children attend school in those areas, with particularly high concentrations of schools in vulnerable zones in the Houston and Beaumont-Port Arthur metro areas.

Despite the well-documented risks of living near these facilities, just before the latest Texas explosion, the Trump administration rolled back plant safety rules that could make people who live, work, and learn near such facilities safer.

But it would be bad to make people who live, work, and learn near such facilities safer, because then they would be dependent on the deep state instead of free and upstanding and riddled with cancer.



Random guy offers foreign policy advice

Dec 6th, 2019 11:53 am | By

The Guardian reports:

Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal lawyer who has become a key figure in the impeachment inquiry, is now proposing a joint US-Ukrainian probe to investigate potential corruption by officials from both countries.

He says that as if we were eagerly awaiting his thoughts on how to bring the US and Ukraine together, when in fact he’s almost the very last person we want to hear from on that subject (unless it’s under oath in a courtroom). Rudy Giuliani isn’t the boss of how Ukraine and the US get along. He’s Trump’s personal lawyer, not the Secretary of State.

The Guardian continues:

The tweet, which is unlikely to generate any legitimate interest, comes the same week that Giuliani traveled to Europe to meet with former Ukrainian officials who helped spread baseless corruption allegations against Joe Biden.

“Unlikely to generate any legitimate interest” – that’s cold. I like it.



People saw it as service, and sacrifice, and heritage

Dec 6th, 2019 10:44 am | By

Trump’s first pick as ambassador to the UN (January 2017-January 2018), Nikki Haley, thinks Dylann Roof “hijacked” the Confederate flag.

Here is this guy that comes out with this manifesto, holding the Confederate flag [look of sorrow and anguish]. And had just hijacked everything that people thought of in – we don’t have hateful people in South Carolina, there’s always the small minority that’s always gonna be there, but you know people saw it as service, and sacrifice, and heritage, and – but once he did that there was no way to overcome it, and the national media came in in droves [in droves gesture], they wanted to define what happened, they wanted to make this about racism

Say what??? It was the media who made it about racism? It wasn’t the fact that Dylann Roof chose that church, and the fact that the victims were all black while Dylann Roof is so white he looks anemic, and the fact that he EXPLICITLY SAID THAT’S WHAT IT WAS ABOUT when he opened fire?



Neo-liberal selfishness personified

Dec 6th, 2019 10:13 am | By

Why indeed.

I would really like to know that too. The obvious surface-level reason is years of yammering and bullying and shunning (as in Graham’s lost friends), but that reason is better at explaining silence and looking in the other direction, it doesn’t so much explain active support, not to mention joining in the yammering and bullying and shunning.



Simple facts

Dec 6th, 2019 9:56 am | By

You have your instructions.



A woman, after all

Dec 6th, 2019 7:12 am | By

The NY Times gave “Rachel” McKinnon an op ed slot to instruct the world on why it’s fine for him to compete against women despite the physical advantages that a male body gives him.

People love to claim that I cheated. I didn’t. Cycling’s governing body, the Union Cycliste Internationale, has no doubts that I followed all of the rules. I completed an antidoping test to ratify my world record. I didn’t use any suspicious or dangerous tactics in any of my races.

This from a philosopher. “Look, this official body has no doubts, therefore it is absolute truth that I didn’t cheat! There’s no other way to look at it! It can’t be that the official body is wrong and that I’m exploiting a fashion in order to cheat and win medals and fame and op ed slots at the Times! There is absolutely no difference of any kind between what an official body says and the actual truth of the matter. None!” Very philosophy, much rational.

Many want me to race against men. I have news for them: I’m not allowed. I’m legally female. My birth certificate, passport, driver’s license, U.S. permanent resident card, medical records and my racing license all have an “F” on them. The Union Cycliste Internationale, USACycling, Cycling Canada, the Canadian and United States governments and the state of South Carolina all agree that I’m female.

The rules require me to race in the women’s category. That’s exactly where I belong: I am a woman, after all. I am female as well.

“After all” is the argument. Convincing, yeah?

Trans women are women. We are female. And we are not taking over. No openly trans woman has set an open elite world record in any sport (remember: mine is in masters racing). No openly trans woman has won an elite world championship in any sport, let alone a medal.

There haven’t been any reported cases of gender fraud, where a male athlete is given a female passport or birth certificate by an unscrupulous nation, for the purposes of slipping a “man” into a women’s Olympic event. If there were going to be mass gender fraud, we’d have seen it by now.

Another killer professional-philosopher knock-down argument: we’d have seen it by now!

We have seen it by now, in fact, it’s just that shits like him are pretending otherwise. We have seen multiple cases of men who say they are women taking prizes away from women or knocking them down or breaking their legs or smashing their faces or all of the above. We have seen it already, and it’s early days; the longer it goes on the more of it we will see. He is part of it, and he’s an academic of sorts, so the Times publishes his gossamer-thin “arguments” in support of this grotesque injustice.



Rewriting history

Dec 5th, 2019 6:01 pm | By

Women don’t get to have women’s history. Sorry laydeez!

Harper’s Bazaar has refused to print a retraction for an article in which Eileen Miles calls lesbian icon, Stormé DeLarverie, “they,” “he,” and “him,” and claims ” ‘He’ was Stormé’s chosen pronoun.”

If “he” was “Stormé’s chosen pronoun,” as Miles claims, the people she was closest to would’ve known. And her circle certainly wouldn’t be running around giving interviews that didn’t reflect her wishes. In fact, the people in her circle are the type of people who would acknowledge that sort of thing—no problem—had it been the case.

Eileen Miles—who identifies as trans, and as “they/them,” and as a lesbian—made a decision to change Stormé’s identity, and the ripple effect of doing so, has only just begun… Morgan Page, a writer at The Nation, who also identifies as trans, recently wrote an article using “he” and “him” and “himself” to describe Stormé DeLarverie, using Miles’ Harper’s Bazaar article to justify doing so.

Why would one writer get to decide that DeLarverie was a man just on her own say-so?

When I wrote to Harper’s Bazaar, politely requesting they print a retraction/apology, I explained that because Stormé only recently died, the New York lesbians who knew and loved her are still here. I explained that a friend of mine—a wonderful lesbian who became Stormé’s legal protector when Stormé grew too unwell to care for herself—has verified who Stormé was many times. They could easily find several accurate interviews she’s given on Stormé. There are plenty of fact-checked articles about Stormé floating around. And Stormé also did a number of interviews while she was alive.

Stormé was a butch lesbian and a professional male impersonator. I also explained to Harper’s Bazaar that as someone who’s done ‘drag’ myself—and ran a show that incorporated various interpretations of drag for many years—I can say that it’d be completely disingenuous for any writer to take that persona (or any other tidbit of my ‘gender deviant’ behavior, for that matter), and proclaim me as “he” and “him” after I die.

But Harper’s doesn’t care.

After some back and forth, Harper’s Bazaar wrote, on Dec 3, to inform me that they can decide to rewrite one of our greatest lesbian sheros as “he” and “him,” and they can do it while stating it’s what Stormé chose. Their response, in full, was, “Julia, We appreciate your letter and take this issue very seriously, but we’re comfortable with the decision the writer made here. Thanks again.” Well… So long as they are comfortable.

As a NY dyke who’s friends with Stormé’s chosen NY fam, I take this very seriously. Harper’s Bazaar doesn’t get to make a decision that involves recreating a lesbian’s identity, postmortem—that involves rewriting lesbian history. It’s not their history to rewrite.

But they’re re-writing it anyway.



Fiery, what fiery?

Dec 5th, 2019 2:38 pm | By

Biden is covering himself with glory.

Joe Biden lashed out at an Iowa town hall Thursday after a man suggested the former vice president helped his son get a sweetheart deal in Ukraine and was “selling access” like President Donald Trump does.
The fiery exchange with the man, who only identified himself as a non-Republican Iowa farmer, ended with Biden challenging him to a contest of push-ups, running or an IQ test before he yelled at him.

Brilliant. The age issue isn’t about doing push-ups, it’s about the likelihood of dying on the job. Ok it’s also about stamina and cognitive faculties and so on but it’s especially about that whole sell-by date thing. Biden is 77. He would turn 80 two years into his term if he were elected. That’s not ideal. I’m a geezer myself and that doesn’t stop me thinking geezers are not an ideal choice. Biden’s face lift could be seen as evidence that he knows that but doesn’t care enough to do the right thing.

And he has a hell of a nerve getting stroppy about the Hunter issue. It is an issue; he shouldn’t have let it happen; it’s an example of profiting from the office and we don’t need more of that in the Trump era.



Clothes make the boy

Dec 5th, 2019 2:14 pm | By

The brave new world.

Image

BAM – that little girl who doesn’t want a dress for a birthday present is a BOY. Case closed.



Proceed

Dec 5th, 2019 10:52 am | By

Onward.



Totally worth it

Dec 5th, 2019 10:36 am | By

You don’t say.

The vast majority of reported sexual assaults at public swimming pools in the UK take place in unisex changing rooms, new statistics reveal.

The data, obtained through a Freedom of Information request by the Sunday Times, suggests that unisex changing rooms are more dangerous for women and girls than single-sex facilities.

Just under 90 per cent of complaints regarding changing room sexual assaults, voyeurism and harassment are about incidents in unisex facilities.

Golly. Why would that be, do you suppose?

Unisex facilities account for less than half the changing areas across the UK, but the number is on the rise – doing away with separate male and female changing rooms and toilets is seen as a way to cut staff costs and better cater for transgender people.

“These figures show that women and girls are more vulnerable in mixed changing rooms and there is a danger these places are becoming a magnet for sexual offenders,” says David Davies, MP for Monmouth.

“It simply doesn’t make sense to enable men to have greater access to women’s spaces. The reforms to gender recognition will grant that access.”

Look, making it laughably easy for men to prey on women is a small price to pay for making men who say they are women feel loved and accepted and embraced in a big sexy hug.



Children in cages, Melania?

Dec 5th, 2019 9:26 am | By

One person we won’t be taking any lessons in kindness or manners or decency or empathy from is Melania Trump.

Melania Trump has been described as a hypocrite after making a rare public political statement on Stanford University professor Pamela Karlan’s comment about Barron Trump.

The first lady was one of a number of people who reacted to Karlan’s quip about the president’s youngest son before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, December 4.

In response, the First Lady, who runs the White House’s anti-bullying Be Best initiative, tweeted: “A minor child deserves privacy and should be kept out of politics.

“Pamela Karlan, you should be ashamed of your very angry and obviously biased public pandering, and using a child to do it.”

Very angry, is it? Melania Trump is using Twitter to tell someone who is not her husband to be ashamed of appearing to be angry? Has she literally never seen a single tweet from her very angry very mean very domineering very abusive husband?

Lots of people are pointing out the same problem with her intervention.



Misogyny forever for the union makes us feeble

Dec 5th, 2019 8:28 am | By

This is what unions do now? They “work against” feminism that they label “trans-exclusionary” so that feminism will become about men who want to “live as” women rather than those boring wrong-headed malevolent people called women? The union for academics is telling women at Cambridge that they have to pretend to think men are women or be ostracized and demonized by their own god damn union?

It’s breathtaking.



Highlights

Dec 5th, 2019 8:16 am | By

This is useful. Thanks, The New Yorker.



How does absolute monarchy work, exactly?

Dec 4th, 2019 4:35 pm | By

Trump’s thugs are pretending to be outraged that law professor Pamela Karlan said the sacred name of Trump’s youngest child when making a point about what Trump cannot do. She was asked to compare what kings can do and what Trump can do, given constitutional constraints.

Kings could do no wrong because the king’s word was law. Contrary to what President Trump has said, Article Two does not give him the power to do anything he wants. I will give you one example that shows the difference between him and a king, which is, the Constitution says there can be no titles of nobility. While the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron.

So, as you see, she wasn’t talking about Barron the person at all, she was talking about the name chosen by his parents in honor of the eponymous financial newspaper as well as the ancient nobility.



No food stamps for you

Dec 4th, 2019 3:48 pm | By

Meanwhile the venomous plutocratic Trump administration is rubbing its hands in glee as it takes food stamps away from 700 thousand people.

The Trump administration Wednesday formalized work requirements for recipients of food stamps, a move that will cause hundreds of thousands of people to lose access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Brandon Lipps, the deputy undersecretary for the USDA’s Food Nutrition and Consumer Services, spent about 18 minutes on a call with reporters outlining the changes to the rule that will take effect April 1.

“We’re taking action to reform our SNAP program in order to restore the dignity of work to a sizable segment of our population and be respectful of the taxpayers who fund the program,” Perdue said. “Americans are generous people who believe it is their responsibility to help their fellow citizens when they encounter a difficult stretch. That’s the commitment behind SNAP, but, like other welfare programs, it was never intended to be a way of life.”

And yet low wages very much are intended to be a way of life, so Perdue and the rest of the greedy sadistic pigs should not be pretending that poverty is some kind of rare and temporary glitch in the normal working of things.

The USDA rule change affects people between the ages of 18 and 49 who are childless and not disabled. Under current rules, this group is required to work at least 20 hours a week for more than three months over a 36-month period to qualify for food stamps, but states have been able to create waivers for areas that face high unemployment.

The new rule would limit states from waiving those standards, instead restricting their use to those areas that have a 6 percent unemployment rate or higher. The national unemployment rate in October was 3.6 percent.

Meanwhile, wouldn’t Prezeedent Trump like to play some more golf at our expense?

During the call Wednesday, the USDA said that about 688,000 people would lose access to food stamps. That’s down from its earlier estimate that 750,000 people would be affected.

The USDA said that this was an extension of President Donald Trump’s April 2018 executive order, called “Reducing Poverty in America by Promoting Opportunity and Economic Mobility,” that aimed to create more work programs and limit public assistance.

You don’t reduce poverty by taking away food stamps, you increase it. They don’t want to reduce poverty, either, because if poverty were reduced who would work for them for bad pay in crap conditions?

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., the ranking member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, said this rule would do little to help anyone find work. All the rule change does is strip people from accessing the benefit, she said.

“This Administration is out of touch with families who are struggling to make ends meet by working seasonal jobs or part time jobs with unreliable hours,” Stabenow said. “Seasonal holiday workers, workers in Northern Michigan’s tourism industry, and workers with unreliable hours like waiters and waitresses are the kinds of workers hurt by this proposal.”

That’s what Trump and his loathsome partners in crime want.



It gets worse

Dec 4th, 2019 12:21 pm | By

Maybe it’s repeated small strokes.

Barack Obama’s former doctor, who served the 44th president for over two decades before his presidency, voiced concern for Donald Trump’s health after the president’s unscheduled weekend visit to a physician placed his well-being under scrutiny.

Speaking on CNN’s Erin Burnett on Monday’s Erin Burnett OutFront, Dr. David Scheiner expressed his worries about the president’s allegedly failing mental health, which he claims is demonstrated by his occasional inability to string together coherent sentences.

“These aren’t words, these are slips of the tongue,” Scheiner said. “These are words he can’t find and this is happening over and over again. Comedians joke about it, but it’s not a joking matter. I think there is a neurological issue that is not being addressed. And if he’s having an MRI of his head over there, I would be very pleased because I think he needs it.”

“The worry that I have is maybe he’s having small strokes,” Scheiner said. “We’ve had that once before in the White House when Woodrow Wilson was president. His inability to find words is peculiar and has not been explained, and I think one has to think of it as a possible neurological issue.”

His inability to find, say, use words is very peculiar, and very disturbing in his job.



Replace “Ukraine” with “Louisiana”

Dec 4th, 2019 12:07 pm | By

Well said.



Is there a “right” to surrogacy?

Dec 4th, 2019 10:50 am | By

But fertility treatment is one thing, and “surrogacy” is another. The Huffington Post reports:

Senate Republicans will vote this week to confirm a lifetime federal judge who claimed that fertility treatments and surrogacy have “grave effects on society, including diminished respect for motherhood and the unique mother-child bond; exploitation of women; commodification of gestation and of children themselves; and weakening of appropriate social mores against eugenic abortion.”

Sarah Pitlyk, President Donald Trump’s nominee to a seat on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, argued those points in opposing a California statute that protects the right to assisted reproductive technology like in vitro fertilization, or IVF, and gestational surrogacy.

Pitlyk, who is special counsel to the Thomas More Society, a conservative, anti-abortion law firm based in Chicago, went on to say in a 2017 interview with the National Catholic Register that “surrogacy is harmful to mothers and children, so it’s a practice society should not be enforcing.”

But there are issues about surrogacy. Here’s the BBC just last April for instance:

On top of child welfare concerns, there are also examples of surrogate mothers being exploited by agents and kept in inhumane conditions.

Financially and socially vulnerable women can be targets for surrogacy recruitment, attracted by the sums of money on offer. A surrogate in Ukraine, for example, can earn up to $20,000 (£15,507) – more than eight times the average yearly income.

However, there have been reports of poor treatment of surrogate mothers, with some agencies refusing to pay surrogates if they do not obey strict requirements or if they miscarry.

Exploitation concerns have led to many countries shutting down their previously booming surrogacy industries, while last year the UN warned that “commercial surrogacy… usually amounts to the sale of children”.

Pitlyk sounds like a terrible nominee, but reservations about the surrogacy industry are not the same as anti-abortion fanaticism.

H/t Sackbut



From the impeachies

Dec 4th, 2019 10:22 am | By

More from the Guardian’s live impeachment reporting:

Democratic counsel Norm Eisen asked the legal experts testifying at today’s impeachment hearing whether the effort to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden was an impeachable act, even though the country ultimately did not launch the probe.

“The attempt itself is the impeachable act,” said Harvard law professor Noah Feldman, who noted that Richard Nixon’s efforts to cover up the Watergate break-in were ultimately unsuccessful. But the attempts themselves clearly constituted impeachable behavior, Feldman said.

Pamela Karlan and Michael Gerhardt echoed that opinion with hypothetical situations emphasizing the soliciation itself is the issue.

Seems only right, doesn’t it? Failure doesn’t render the attempt perfectly fine.