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Abuse refers to the use or treatment of something (a person, item, substance, concept, or vocabulary) that is seen as harmful. The term can be used for anything ranging from the misuse of a piece of equipment to the severe maltreatment of a person.-Wikipedia
Today is BlogCatalog’s latest blogging challenge, “Blogging Against Abuse“, which aims to have thousands of bloggers internet-wide take part in blogging about putting an end to abuse of any sort. I only found out about this event two days ago, and really had no idea exactly what type of abuse I would write about since so many, especially child abuse and animal abuse, are worthy of attention. I had decided that I would allow my readers to peruse Wikipedia’s offering under abuse, and hope that in having just a few of the various forms of abuse staring back at them from their computer monitor, they might realize that we all (more than likely) take part in one form of abuse or another; from the abuse we inflict upon ourselves with drugs or alcohol to abuse inflicted upon others such as physical abuse, elder abuse, child abuse, domestic violence, and animal abuse. Perhaps the one we think of less as an abuse is that of verbal abuse, however the sting and lasting effects of being lashed out at with hurtful, hateful, and harmful words can have as much of an impression as that of a physical blow.
While all of these forms of abuse are worthy of deep thought, discussion, and plans for constructive steps to be taken to end them, the one that is resonating most with me at this particular moment is the abuse of power. Mind you, all of the abuses I have already mentioned are abuses of power of some sort, but the one I am thinking of more specifically is the abuse of power in which government officials (elected or public safety) have been partaking far too long, far too often, and with far too many negative ramifications for innocent bystanders. Any reader of this blog knows my opinions on this horrific, no-end-in-sight war, my frustration with the non-action by our government before/during/after Hurricane Katrina, and my absolute and total disgust with George W. Bush and his cohorts in crime. George and his cronies are the epitome of the abuse of power and their ability to have duped the American public for so long, and to underhandedly mold the laws of our land to fit the shape and the ideal of what THEY think it should be, regardless of the will of the people, simply astounds me.
I just finished watching the movie Bobby, by Emilio Estevez, and it was Robert F. Kennedy’s brilliant speech, “On the Mindless Menace of Violence”, played over the last scenes of the movie, which gave me that mental and emotional push to choose abuse of power as my topic to blog about for this “Blogging Against Abuse” event. I am somewhat ashamed to say that I had never heard that particular speech before, but it is truly one of the most touching, insightful, and beautiful stringing together of words and mental imagery that I have ever come across. The connection between abuse of power (be it citizen-to-citizen or government official-to-citizen) and the violence RFK spoke of is obvious, and unfortunately one that continues today, and sadly one that will probably always remain in one form or another unless we all take the time to search inside ourselves to see if we are guilty of planting even the tiniest seed of abuse in any form, which could ultimately lead to the flowering of abuse of other sorts.
Please take a few moments to watch this video I found which contains the audio of Robert Kennedy giving his “On the Mindless Menace of Violence” speech over some gripping and heart wrenching images. They are truly words and images which are bound to give you pause for thought. And that pause for thought, my friends, is where change begins.
Robert F. Kennedy
City Club of Cleveland, Cleveland, Ohio
April 5, 1968
This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity, my only event of today, to speak briefly to you about the mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.
It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one – no matter where he lives or what he does – can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on and on in this country of ours.
Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr’s cause has ever been stilled by an assassin’s bullet.
No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of reason.
Whenever any American’s life is taken by another American unnecessarily – whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of the law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence – whenever we tear at the fabric of the life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.
“Among free men,” said Abraham Lincoln, “there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause and pay the costs.”
Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far-off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire whatever weapons and ammunition they desire.
Too often we honor swagger and bluster and wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach non-violence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.
Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear: violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.
For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is the slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.
This is the breaking of a man’s spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all.
I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies, to be met not with cooperation but with conquest; to be subjugated and mastered.
We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community; men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear, only a common desire to retreat from each other, only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this, there are no final answers.
Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is not what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of humane purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.
We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of others. We must admit in ourselves that our own children’s future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.
Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanquish it with a program, nor with a resolution.
But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.
Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men, and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again.
(***UPDATE 9/27/07: GREAT NEWS: Amendment added!!!***)
It is expected that the U.S. Senate will finally be voting on The Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act/Matthew Shepard Act (H.R. 1592 / S. 1105) TOMORROW! It is vital that you contact your Senators TODAY to remind them that you are one of their constituents, that you strongly support this very important hate crimes bill legislation to protect ALL people, and that you fully expect them to do the same despite the fact that George W. Bush has vowed to veto the bill. Please DO YOUR PART to make sure prejudice and bigotry is not allowed to flourish in our country by contacting your Senators and spreading the word to others.
The U.S. Senate is expected to vote on the Matthew Shepard Act as an amendment to the Department of Defense bill to ensure that all people regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability deserve to be free from violent crimes committed because of hatred and bias.
Please call your Senators NOW and ask for him/her to the vote for the passage of the Matthew Shepard Act.
URGENT: CONTACT YOUR SENATORS NOW!
CALL (202) 224-3121 & ask for your Senators office
Ask for their support of the Matthew Shepard Act and let them know that all Americans regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability deserve to be free from violent crimes committed because of hatred and bias.
From HRC Backstory:
September 25, 2007 4:36PM
This afternoon, Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA), one of the lead sponsors of the Senate hate crimes bill, took to the Senate floor to urge the Senate to pass the hate crimes bill (S. 1105) and for President Bush to sign the legislation into law. Earlier today, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) filed a cloture motion on the hate crimes bill, a procedural move to overcome Senator McCain’s objection to bringing the amendment to the floor. Our side must achieve 60 votes on the cloture motion to win; that vote is scheduled for Thursday. The Senate should then move towards passages of the hate crimes bill as an amendment to the Department of Defense authorization bill.
Senator Kennedy’s prepared statement on the Senate floor can be read here.
From the Human Rights Campaign web site:
Hate Crimes Affect More than Just the Individual Attacked
All violent crimes are reprehensible. But the damage done by hate crimes cannot be measured solely in terms of physical injury or dollars and cents. Hate crimes rend the fabric of our society and fragment communities because they target a whole group and not just the individual victim. Hate crimes are committed to cause fear to a whole community. A violent hate crime is intended to “send a message” that an individual and “their kind” will not be tolerated, many times leaving the victim and others in their group feeling isolated, vulnerable and unprotected.
- Complete text of Senator Kennedy’s statement on the floor of the US Senate regarding The Matthew Shepard Act
- Hate crimes are a form of domestic terrorism. They send the poisonous message that some Americans deserve to be victimized solely because of who they are. Like other acts of terrorism, hate crimes have an impact far greater than the impact on the individual victims. They are crimes against entire communities, against the whole nation, and against the fundamental ideals on which America was founded. They are a violation of all our country stands for.
- Fabricated fears about hate crime legislation (Cornel West and Sylvia Rhue Op-Ed piece from The Boston Globe)
- The truth is that the Matthew Shepard Act protects all First Amendment rights. And, although that is a given, this bill goes out of its way to protect the free speech of ministers. Those pastors who wish to continue condemning and dehumanizing the gay community will be free to do so.
- Hate Crimes and Justice in the Black Community (Melissa Harris-Lacewell on the Huffington Post)
- The proposed federal statute does not punish nor prohibit free expression of one’s religious beliefs. The hate crimes bill includes language protecting individuals from race-based and religion-based crimes as well. The Act protects first Amendment rights for everyone while ensuring that the authorities fully investigate all violent crimes intended to degrade and oppress their victims. The bill protects our children, because black youth are disproportionately targeted and victimized in anti-gay hate crimes.
- Transcript: Judy Shepard Urges Passage of Hate Crimes Law (NOW on pbs.org)
- HINOJOSA: So right now the House has already passed the bill. And the Senate is—is set to vote on it shortly. But President Bush is expected to veto the bill. The White House has said that state and local criminal laws already cover the new crimes that are defined under the bill. So—the—basically—the President is saying this kind of legislation just isn’t necessary. So what do you say to that?
- SHEPARD: It’s very disheartening when the leader of our nation goes on national T.V. and says that gay people aren’t—aren’t deserving of every—every equality that everyone else is. I’m very disappointed that they don’t see the difference, if nothing else than the message that it sends, that we need to protect—all of our citizens. Everyone is a race. Everyone is a sexual orientation. It just gives permission for people to continue to harass sexual orientation until we mark them as protected.
- Senator Kennedy press release on the Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007
- Crimes motivated by hate because of the victim’s race, religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation, disability, or gender are not confined to the geographical boundaries of our great nation. The current conflicts in the Middle East and Northern Ireland, the ethnic cleansing campaigns in Bosnia and Rwanda, or the Holocaust itself demonstrate that violence motivated by hate is a world-wide danger, and we have a special responsibility to combat it here at home.
- Support for the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007
Two worthwhile events are coming up in a couple of days: BlogCatalog’s “Blogging Against Abuse” on Thursday, September 27th, and PETA2’s “Hug a Vegetarian” Day on Friday, September 28th. Here is more information about each event. Hope you’ll take part. And if you’re not a vegetarian yet, here’s a link to a post I did that just might help you. Btw, this vegetarian will be expecting tons of hugs on Friday! 🙂
On September 27th, join 1,000s of bloggers around the world in BlogCatalog’s Blogging for a Great Cause Challenge.
This Blogging Challenge will be:
Bloggers Against Abuse
September 27th, 2007
The Outcome we are after is to be part of the largest group of bloggers to ever blog about an important cause, all on the same day.
So how do you participate?
On Sept. 27th, blog about putting an end to some sort of Abuse (you decide what kind of abuse to blog about).
In the meantime though,
* Spread the word among all the bloggers you know. Perhaps even give them a link to this Discussion.
* If you are a graphic’s designer, perhaps you can come up with some small badges announcing the event, that we can then place on our blogs. To share the badge, place it on this thread.
* List any organizations, on this thread, who are involved in putting an end to abuse.
What do you get?
You will receive a link to your Blog Post from the Blogcatalog blog when we list everyone who participated.
You get to use your blog for an important cause.
You get to create blogging history.
Last year was the first-ever “Hug a Vegetarian” Day, and it was a smashing success, with tens of thousands of people taking part. Check out some photos here.
This year promises to be even bigger and better, so we have some brand-new Web banners for you to use to spread the word on your MySpace page or wherever else online. Plus, we have these amazing new signs for you to use at school, band practice, home, or pretty much anywhere you go on Hug a Vegetarian Day!
Get out there and hug your vegetarian (and vegan) buddies—and make sure your friends and family hug it up with you! Snap a picture and we’ll post your photo to peta2’s Flickr page for everyone to see. You’ll even get 2,000 Street Team points! Remember to submit your photo here.
I’m beginning to think that in addition to my Must See/Must Read/Must Listen categories, I need to add a “WTF” category after the other day’s Senate resolution to, yet again, nix our free speech rights (by way of their condemnation of the MoveOn.org Petraeus ad), and now with the absurdity of the grand jury for the State of Virginia passing on animal cruelty charges against Michael Vick and the three other co-defendants. How on EARTH can they bypass what is at the bottom of all of this mess: the cruelty inflicted upon countless dogs?!?! The CNN story says a charge of one count of killing dogs WAS brought against Michael Vick, but according to the AP story there could have been 8 counts of animal cruelty leveled. A little confusing for this layperson, especially since MANY more dogs than that were killed as part of his heinous dogfighting ring. The story is just breaking as of 11AM PST, so perhaps it will become a bit clearer over the course of the day. (***UPDATE 9/26/07: Vick tests positive for marijuana***)
Oh, and a little PS for those who sadly insisted on bringing race into this whole disaster, per CNN the composition of the State of Virginia grand jury that handed down today’s indictment: 2 black males, 2 black females, 2 white females.
- Vick indicted on state dogfighting charges-AP via Fox Sports
- “The grand jury passed on indicting the Atlanta Falcons quarterback and two co-defendants on eight counts of animal cruelty, which would have exposed them to as many as 40 years in prison if convicted.Any animal cruelty charge in Virginia is punishable by up to five years in prison. And in a written plea for the federal case, Vick admitted helping kill six to eight dogs at the Surry County property. Similarly, the three co-defendants in the case have admitted their involvement and detailed what they claim was Vick’s role.”
- Vick indicted by state grand jury on dogfighting charges-CNN
- “The grand jury brought two charges against Vick: one count of killing dogs and one of promoting dogfights. In a plea agreement on federal charges, the quarterback has admitted to bankrolling a dogfighting operation from his home in Surry County, Virginia.”
- Surry grand jury hits Vick with 2 new charges-DailyPress.com
- “Commonwealth’s Attorney Gerald Poindexter had maintained that he wanted to prosecute Vick in Surry County, but said earlier that charges might not come this month because he did not have access to evidence that federal prosecutors had taken to pursue their case, including some witnesses. Today, however, he said that while federal investigators still had a great deal of the evidence in the case, he now had on hand the witnesses he needed to move forward.”
Put this one in the “karma will get you Vick” category:
- Bank sues Vick for more than $2M-DailyPress.com
- “The contract has a clause that says if Vick experiences an employment change that might affect his ability to repay the loan, that constitutes a default. Vick still owes the bank $2.3 million, plus $499 of interest per day, according to the complaint. The bank is also asking District Judge Henry C. Morgan Jr. to order Vick to pay the bank’s legal fees.”
Take action HERE by sending a note to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, asking the NFL to add all forms of animal cruelty to its personal conduct policy. Thanks!
I am so shocked, disappointed, and disgusted by what went down yesterday with OUR Senate, OUR government, OUR system of free speech, and the blinders that Americans seem to be wearing in regard to what exactly it is that Bush and his cronies are doing to OUR country, that I don’t even know how to put it into words. Are Americans so clueless that they don’t see that the minute the anti-war movement gains any sort of substantial ground, Bush & Crew pull some ridiculous BS, and typical sleight-of-hand out of the closet to take the focus off of all they are doing wrong. And for Bush to say in his press conference that HE was disgusted by the MoveOn.org ad, well Georgie Boy I’m beyond totally disgusted by what YOU and your regime are doing to MY country, and MY freedoms. The nerve of you to say that YOU are disgusted, considering everything you have done. Disgusted. I’M just totally disgusted.
I’ll allow Keith Olbermann to try and sort this latest disaster out for me in his usual intelligent and eloquent manner:
Here is a link to how the vote went down on the resolution. Shame on you to my senator, Dianne Feinstein, for voting in favor of it. Shame on you.
Here are some items from MoveOn.org, a group I hope those of you who are not currently involved with WILL join. We need SOME sort of group that helps us get our voices, our concerns, and our thoughts out there. Goodness knows our elected officials aren’t doing it.
- About MoveOn.org
- General Petraeus or General Betray Us? (info and ad)
- Senator McConnell: Betrayal of Trust (info and video)
- The VideoVets Project-Bring Our Troops Home (info and videos)
Here is an email MoveOn.org sent out to its members after yesterday’s asinine resolution:
The U.S. Senate just told you to sit down and be quiet when they passed a Republican amendment condemning MoveOn.1
Every day, our brave men and women are dying in a bloody civil war this Senate has done nothing to stop. Yesterday, they couldn’t even pass a bill to give soldiers adequate leave with their families before redeploying.2 But they’re spending time cracking down on a newspaper ad?
So, we’re making clear where America stands. We’re releasing a statement from MoveOn members—and anyone else who feels the same way—saying, “We will not be quiet, we will fight back. We will keep speaking out until Congress forces an exit plan for this awful war.”
Clicking here will add your name:
Maybe you liked our General Petraeus ad.3 Maybe you thought the language went too far. But make no mistake: this is much bigger than one ad.
It’s part of a larger campaign by Fox, the right-wing echo chamber, and Republicans like John McCain (who said we should be “thrown out of the country”).4
They’re doing it because they’re hurting: Polls show last week’s Bush Administration PR blitz increased the number of Americans favoring withdrawal5 and vulnerable Republicans are sinking lower and lower in the polls (or announcing their retirement).
And it has one purpose: to intimidate all of us. To send a message that anyone who speaks unpleasant truths about this war will pay. To make everyone—especially politicians—think twice before they accuse the administration of lying.
If it looks like we’re on the run, people will think twice before they speak out. Will you send a message today to Dick Cheney, Fox, Bill O’Reilly, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Karl Rove—and the Democrats without the guts to vote against this—that it’s not working?
We’ve changed our home page to just run the names of people who sign on. We’ll report the totals to the media all day. And if we can find an electronic billboard in Washington, D.C., we’ll run the names there, too.
And after you add your name, you can go one step further. We’ve put together a fair but hard-hitting ad that highlights how, yesterday, Republicans blocked a bill to give our troops adequate family leave before going back to Iraq. If we can raise enough money, we’ll air this ad across the country and take the fight back to the real issues—this terrible war and its impact on our troops and the Iraqi people.
Clicking here will add your name to our statement:
This morning, the Senate didn’t pass an exit strategy for Iraq. They didn’t pass a bill to cover millions of uninsured Americans or combat the climate crisis. Nope—they condemned 3.4 million Americans for speaking out against the war.
Let them know them it’s not going to work.
Thank you for all you do, every day, to get the truth out.
–Eli, Aaron, Adam G., Adam R., Anna, Carrie, Daniel, Erik, Ilyse, Jennifer, Joan, Justin, Karin, Laura, Marika, Matt, Natalie, Nita, Noah, Tanya, Tom & Wes
MoveOn.org Political Action
Thursday, September 20th, 2007
PS. I will join MoveOn members tonight for a live webcast at 8:30 EST/ 5:30 PST. We’ll update this situation, talk about next steps, and answer your questions. To join in, click here:
1. You can see the resolution text here and the roll call of who voted for it here. Absurdly, it claims that MoveOn “impugns the honor and integrity of … all the members of the United States Armed Force”—despite the fact that MoveOn includes hundreds of thousands of veterans and military family members, who’ve led our campaign to bring our troops home.
2. “Effort to Shift Course in Iraq Fails in Senate,” New York Times , September 19, 2007.
3. You can read the ad text and why we ran it here:
4. “McCain To MoveOn: Get Out,” CBS News, September 14, 2007.
5. “Poll: Most Say Bush Iraq Plan Falls Short,” CBS News, September 17, 2007.
PAID FOR BY MOVEON.ORG POLITICAL ACTION, http://pol.moveon.org/
Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.
I find it very disconcerting and disappointing that as a society we have to regulate those with no moral compass by passing and enforcing laws to protect against discrimination. Shouldn’t people with common sense, common courtesy, and any level of intelligence know how to treat others? (Yes, I often wear rose-colored glasses, but when it comes to discrimination and what I have seen perpetuated against others, I’m afraid rose-colored glasses just don’t work.) We had to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit employment discrimination based on race, religion, gender, or national origin, with the Age Discrimination Employment Act following three years later to make sure discrimination based on age would not take place. A couple of decades later we realized we needed Title 1 of the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 to protect qualified individuals with disabilities from discrimination in the workplace.
Sadly, here we are in 2007 having to again take people by the ear, sit them down, and legislate to them what ought to be ingrained in the compassion, tolerance, and understanding (never mind common sense) section of their human nature. But alas fear, misunderstanding, and closed-mindedness take over the brain cells of far too many people who are in a position to make or break the careers of many in the workforce. Just as institutional racism took hold and has yet to loosen its grip enough, homophobic bigotry has placed its heavy hand inside the walls of commerce and has choked the life out of the livelihood of many.
With permission from the Human Rights Campaign, I am reposting some very important information from their web site, which I ask you to not only take the time to read, but to act upon. My sincere hope is that everyone (straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and every other category in between) will realize how ridiculous the notion is that anything other than job qualification should come into play in the hiring/firing/ promoting of employees. IF someone is qualified for a job, and IF that person is hard-working and honest, then there is no logical reason to NOT hire/retain/promote that person. It should not matter how light or dark someone’s pigmentation is, which god they believe in (if any), whether they are male or female, how old they might be, or whether they have some form of a disability, nor should it ever matter what that person’s sexual orientation is, as long as they are qualified for the job. That’s it, end of story.
The problem. Qualified, hardworking Americans are being denied job opportunities, fired or otherwise discriminated against – not because of their performance and abilities, but because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Yet those who experience this form of discrimination have no recourse under current federal law.
And state protections are few and far between. 31 states, it’s legal to fire someone because they’re gay; in 39 states it is legal to fire someone for being transgender.
Employment discrimination strikes at a fundamental American value – the right of each individual to contribute to society without facing unfair treatment. That’s why the Human Rights Campaign is working with its allies in Congress to pass ENDA.
What is ENDA? The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) is a federal bill that would make it illegal to fire, refuse to hire or refuse to promote employees simply based on sexual orientation or gender identity. It would reinforce the principle that employment decisions should be based upon a person’s qualifications and job performance.
What’s the current law? Currently, federal law protects against employment discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion, national origin or disability, but not sexual orientation or gender identity.
What is HRC doing in the business community? In addition to advocating for the passage of ENDA, the Human Rights Campaign has been working with private employers to encourage them to adopt policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Partly due to HRC’s efforts, non-discrimination policies covering gender identity and expression continue to multiply. For example, a total of 124 Fortune 500 companies now include transgender people in their policies; this is more then 10 times the number that had such policies in 2001. In addition, exactly 49 of the Fortune 50 companies include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies. (Exxon Mobil Corp. is the only company in the Fortune 50 that does not.) In fact, 433 companies in the Fortune 500 – or nearly 90 percent – include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies as of spring 2007.
- Read HRC’s press release on ENDA’s introduction in Congress in April 2007 and view statements of support for the bill.
- See the current list of employers who support fairness in the workplace and the passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
- View a timeline of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.
- Read the story of Kimya Af Ayodele, who experienced employment discrimination.
Click the following links for more information:
Received this from the FDA on 9/19/07 regarding raw diet pet manufacturer Bravo! recalling three of its pet food products:
Recall — Firm Press Release
FDA posts press releases and other notices of recalls and market withdrawals from the firms involved as a service to consumers, the media, and other interested parties. FDA does not endorse either the product or the company. This listserv covers mainly Class I (life-threatening) recalls. A complete listing of recalls can be found in the FDA Enforcement Report at: http://www.fda.gov/opacom/Enforce.html
Bravo! Issues Nationwide Recall of Select Poultry Products for Dogs and Cats
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE –Vernon, CT — Sept. 18, 2007— Bravo! announces a voluntary recall of select tubes of three of its poultry products for cats and dogs. The pet food is being recalled because two of the products have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella and Listeria monocytogenes, while the other product has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
Both Salmonella and Listeria are organisms which can cause serious infections in dogs and cats, and if there is cross contamination, in people, especially small children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people with Salmonella infection may only suffer short-term symptoms, such as high fever, severe headache, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Long term complications can include arthritis and other more serious ailments. Healthy people with Listeria infection may only suffer short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
The company has received no reports of illness in either people or animals associated with any of the three products.
The recalled products are distributed nationwide to distributors, retail stores, internet sales and directly to consumers, and they can be identified by the batch ID code located on the hang tag attached to the bottom of the plastic film tubes. The recalled products should not be sold or fed to pets. Pet owners should return unopened frozen tubes of food to the store where purchased for a full refund. Pet owners should dispose of opened tubes of product in a safe manner (example, a securely covered trash receptacle) and return the washed plastic batch ID tag to the store where purchased for a full refund.
Recalled Pet Food
Product: Bravo Original Formula Chicken Blend frozen raw food
Product Numbers: 21-102, 21-105, 21-110
Sizes: 2 pound, 5 pound and 10 pound tubes
Batch ID code (on hang tag): 236
Reason for Recall: Salmonella, Listeria
Product: Bravo Original Formula Turkey Blend frozen raw food
Product Numbers: 31-102, 31-105, 31-110
Sizes: 2 pound, 5 pound and 10 pound tubes
Batch ID code (on hang tag): 236
Reason for Recall: Listeria
Product: Bravo Basic Formula Finely Ground Chicken frozen raw food
Product Number: 21-212
Size: 2 pound tube
Batch ID Code (on hang tag): 226
Reason for Recall: Salmonella, Listeria
Other Batch IDs for these same products are not involved in the recall.
Bravo! is issuing this action out of an abundance of caution and sincerely regrets any inconvenience to pet owners as a result of this announcement. This voluntary recall has been issued because the FDA detected the bacteria in samples during a recent review.
In an effort to prevent the transmission of Salmonella from pets to family members and care givers, the FDA recommends that everyone follow appropriate pet food handling guidelines when feeding their pets. A list of safe pet food handling tips can be found at:
People may risk Salmonella infection not only by handling these pet foods, but also by contact with pets or other surfaces exposed to these foods, so it is important that they thoroughly wash their hands with hot water and soap. Anyone who is experiencing the symptoms of Salmonella or Listeria infection after having handled the recalled product should seek medical attention. Consumers may report any complaints to FDA’s local District Complaint Coordinator’s located on the FDA website: http://www.fda.gov/opacom/backgrounders/complain.html.
Healthy cats and dogs rarely become sick from Salmonella. Animals ill with Salmonella will display symptoms similar to the ones listed above for humans. People who have concerns about whether their pet has Salmonella or not should contact their veterinarian.
For more information on the Bravo recall, please visit www.bravorawdiet.com, or call toll free (866) 922-9222
FDA’s Recalls, Market Withdrawals and Safety Alerts Page: http://www.fda.gov/opacom/7alerts.html
Statement from Bill Belichick
New England Patriots
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has issued the following statement.
“I accept full responsibility for the actions that led to tonight’s
ruling. Once again, I apologize to the Kraft family and every person
directly or indirectly associated with the New England Patriots for the
embarrassment, distraction and penalty my mistake caused. I also
apologize to Patriots fans and would like to thank them for their
support during the past few days and throughout my career. ”
“As the Commissioner acknowledged, our use of sideline video had no
impact on the outcome of last week’s game. We have never used sideline
video to obtain a competitive advantage while the game was in progress.”
“Part of my job as head coach is to ensure that our football
operations are conducted in compliance of the league rules and all
accepted interpretations of them. My interpretation of a rule in the
Constitution and Bylaws was incorrect.”
“With tonight’s resolution, I will not be offering any further
comments on this matter. We are moving on with our preparations for
Yeah, Sunday’s game against my San Diego Chargers, a team whose fans just HAVE to be wondering how much (if any) of Bill’s “interpretation of a rule in the Constitution and Bylaws” might have had to do with the Patriots win over the Chargers in that heartbreaking January 14th, 2007 AFC Divisional Playoff game. Nothing we can do about that now, but we can look forward to our Bolts knocking some sense into Tom Brady come Sunday night. I’ve read portions of a North County Times article over and over again to try and understand the point Brady was weakly making, and all I continue to come up with is that he feels you can do whatever you want, right or wrong, not worry about repercussions, and just go along your merry little way.
“I don’t think this is a concern of anybody,” Brady said during a conference call with the San Diego media. “It’s certainly not a concern of mine. I don’t think anybody cares too much about what people say or what people do. It’s probably more flattering to us than anything.
“People sometimes, when they think we have everything figured out, maybe it speaks to our preparation so I’m actually flattered by it.”
Flattered? Did he actually say flattered? Perhaps dear Tom has been sacked one too many times (Go for it, Merriman!), and his gray matter has begun seeping out in large portions. If the Michael Vick debacle didn’t show you that people DO take notice, and people DO care about the actions of others, Tom, then you really are more clueless than anyone imagined. So much for role models, eh? Say LaDainian, mind showing him how it’s done? Thanks. Perhaps you can don one of Belichick’s infamous hoodies, Tom, and do as Dennis Dillon of Sporting News suggested to Belichick.
Shame on you, Bill Belichick. You need to put a zipper on that hoodie so you can hide your head — and hang it.
Guess NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision doesn’t quite agree with your “I don’t think this is a concern of anybody” logic, either, Tom, since he handed down fines and the loss of draft choices to your team.
New England coach Bill Belichick was fined the NFL maximum of $500,000 Thursday and the Patriots were ordered to pay $250,000 for spying on an opponent’s defensive signals. The commissioner also ordered the team to give up next year’s first-round draft choice if it reaches the playoffs and second- and third-round picks if it doesn’t.
“This episode represents a calculated and deliberate attempt to avoid longstanding rules designed to encourage fair play and promote honest competition on the playing field,” Goodell said in a letter to the Patriots.
While I do appreciate the tough position Goodell has been in this year from Vick to this situation, I tend to agree with Nick Canepa of the San Diego Union-Tribune, regarding the fact that monetary fines for those in the NFL really means diddley-squat.
Money? Roger, it means nothing. It’s the NFL.
I won’t say he totally blew it, but after discovering Belichick, who personifies the latter-day, Paul Revere-less Patriots (coincidentally, they play host to the Chargers on Sunday night) had been cheating, he should have gone Samson on the Philistines with the jawbone of an ass.
Fines are not fine in 2007.
So Sunday night’s Chargers-v-Patriots game will be interesting on many fronts. Have to say it would be a lot more fun if it was a home game for the Chargers and we got to see how SD fans would express their thoughts on the cheating scandal. Oh well, either way it’s bound to be a good game. Think I’ll go with what Tony Moss of Sports Network predicts for the game.
Many will give the Patriots the advantage in this matchup of talented teams. First, because of the homefield factor, and second, because Belichick is twice the tactician that Turner is. But don’t let last week’s dominant performance against a mediocre Jets team fool you. With the new pieces on offense and Seymour and Harrison missing on defense, New England is not as good in Week 2 as it will be in Week 16, giving a San Diego club that basically had no turnover from last year’s 14-2 unit the edge. The Chargers win this battle, though things could be very different when and if these two meet in the postseason.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Chargers 27, Patriots 20
Have a great football weekend, everyone. And LET’S GO CHARGERS!
PS Leave it to the Daily Kos to post this delightful (yet somehow all too believable) item about a possible “back up” job for Bill Belichick.
Yesterday I received information (copied below) on quite possibly ANOTHER harmful product manufactured in China. When I tried to verify the information I found no solid news stories on the subject. That would normally keep me from posting something in this public venue, but as we’ve all seen over the past seven months of pet-related recalls, there have been several times when vital recall information has been withheld from the public (Wal-Mart pulls chicken jerky dog treats produced in China) which has ultimately resulted in the sickness and/or death of beloved pets. If there is ANY chance that Smokehouse Chicken Breast Tenders Treats ARE causing health issues for our pets, then the information needs to get out ASAP. We can’t wait for big business and governments to take their own sweet time testing products first if there is ANY evidence out there that problems might exist.
As I said, I have not found any conclusive information as to the validity of this bulletin, other than seeing the same information posted around the internet on various animal-related sites. Ultimately it’s up to each pet owner to decide what is valid and what is not, faced with as much information as possible. Truth be told, if I was faced with the same situation as Bella’s owner, where my pet suddenly became ill after ingesting a product from a country with as many health/safety issues as we have been seeing from China, I would be doing the same thing and trying as hard as I could to plaster the information in as many venues as possible.
There IS always a chance this story is not true, but honestly I can’t imagine why anyone (other than someone with an ax to grind with Smokehouse) would go to such lengths. If the story proves to be false, I would much rather have erred on the side of any pet’s safety than to withold information just because the mainstream media and/or our government or big business has not relayed the facts to us. Hopefully we will soon hear from some legitimate agency, or from the company that owns Smokehouse Chicken Breast Tenders Treats, as to the validity of the claims against the product. In the meantime, buyer beware–again! (***Added 9/13/07 at 1PM PST: Blog reader, Buck, posted a comment below which includes an AVMA press release [release was updated by AVMA on 9/14/07] which would lead one to believe the Smokehouse issue is valid–thanks, Buck!***)
Here is the body of the bulletin I received yesterday, minus the city in New York of the PetSmart location mentioned:
PLEASE READ AND SHARE THIS WITH ANYONE WHO HAS DOGS, ESPECIALLY SMALL DOGS
Bella, 3 years old, 4 pounds
Product – Smoke House Chicken Breast Tenders Treats
Bella became suddenly ill ,and now hospitalized with her life threatened due to Smoke House Chicken Tenders. I recently purchased at Pet Smart.
It doesn’t matter where you purchase them, just don’t purchase them.
This was the first time I bought the Smoke House treats. Having read the label, it was listed as all natural, no additives, dyes etc. The treats were purchased on or about August 17. She loved them and I was happy because she typically only likes one treat. By August 23 she vomited bile, and again on August 24. Her personality began to change becoming lethargic, wanting to stay in her bed, loss of appetite. excessive drinking, urinating frequently in excessive amounts. urine became orange like in color. By August 28 she was severely dehydrated and lost one of her three pounds.
Sugar was found in her urine which would typically indicate diabetes. Bella was put on IV and given an antibiotic to take while tests were being done over Labor Day weekend.
Test results showed “irregularity in the lower part of her kidney. Possibly a hole in the kidney because of the malfunction.
By today Sept 7, she was no better and very low on energy and interest in being around anyone. I brought the package of Smoke House Chicken Tenders with me to the vet because it was the only thing that was different in her diet.
My wonderful vet, a graduate of Cornell University searched the Cornell Veterinarian site where veterinarians report unusual cases which are tracked. The search was done by symptoms. A second search by chicken treats.
There were numerous cases on the Cornell University Veterinarian web site, all with the same symptoms, test results and yes, related to chicken tender treats made in China. Never did it cross my mind that this product was made in China. When Dr. didn’t find complete listing of ingredients on the package he called the number listed on the back of the package identifying himself and asked for ingredients to help understand what was happening to my pet. The only thing the person on the phone with a strong Chinese accent was “all natural, all natural”. Sure enough looking at the small print on the bottom back of the package is “product of China”, the same source of other products that have been killing our pets. I sat beside my vet and read along with him.
Following are primary repeated findings;
-severe damage to the kidney often resulting in complete renal failure and death -numerous reports in the past four to five weeks, a larger number on the East Coast
– chicken and beef treats promoted as all natural -it does not matter what the label is, if it is a product of China -if caught early enough, hospitalized on IV hydrating and flushing the kidney over days with nutrients may help the kidney heal itself and the pet could then live with the damaged kidney -if not caught early complete renal failure is expected -most cases reported are related to small dogs -initial symptoms indicate diabetes -mold is often found when flushing the kidney (found in Bella)
I have been in touch with Pet Smart requesting them to help get the ingredients. Time is lost analyzing the food. Today a vet at Cornell purchased a bag after reading the report my Vet posted on Bella. He then contacted my vet to say the bag he bought had mold in it despite an expiration date one year from now. I was asked to look closely at whatever was left in my bag, but saw none.
After Bella was admitted to the vet I went directly to Pet Smart in ****** NY, told the Manager what happened and asked her to assist getting the ingredients identified. I was met with a hostile attitude. She was only interested in getting my name because she felt I was going to file a complaint. The person at PS headquarters responsible for knowing food ingredients at Pet Smart headquarters is trying to help.
The information available to vets on the Cornell web site is not public information. No one seems to be aware of this. Dogs are misdiagnosed
PLEASE SEND THIS ON TO YOUR PET LOVING FRIENDS AND SAVE A PET AND LOTS OF HEARTACHE.
PLEASE POST THIS INFORMATION ON ANY WEB SITE YOU CAN CONCERNING PETS.
While AB 8 (horrible compromise bill) and SB 840 (infinitely superior bill) are California-specific pending legislation, the ramifications of which bill is ultimately passed (if any) will ring throughout our country since insurance companies, the medical industry, and politicians will be watching to see what they can get away with in YOUR state. Please take heed and most definitely take action. The following letters are reprinted with permission from the “Health Care for All” MySpace blog.
TAKE ACTION to STOP AB-8. Everybody in California can go to: Legislator Search – Type in your zip code and call your Senator and follow up with e-mails no later than 9/11. And please forward this to all your e-mail lists off MySpace in California. Please see below the official Health Care For All opposition letter on AB8 for talking specific talking points.
California’s Unhealthy Bill: Fake Healthcare Reform A Victory for Schwarzenegger — And a Boon for Insurance Companies
Posted September 5, 2007 | 10:10 PM (EST)
In alliance with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Democratic leaders of the state Legislature, led by Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez are rushing to enact a substandard health reform plan that will not reduce the health insecurity of California families.
They’re apparently even willing to jeopardize Sen. Barbara Boxer and their own party’s slim hold on the United States Senate along the way.
Here’s the deal: Nuñez and some other Democrats are actively working with Schwarzenegger to put together a “compromise” healthcare package.
Schwarzenegger, the main architect of that plan, gets to claim credit for supposedly solving the state’s healthcare crisis using “bipartisan consensus.” As collateral damage to Democrats, Schwarzenegger can tout this deal to boost his candidacy against Boxer in 2010.
Nuñez could then get the governor’s support for extending his term as speaker.
This constellation of events may be dandy for a career politician or two, but it leaves behind a lot of other Californians, who will have to contend with a poor healthcare bill full of holes.
AB 8 does nothing to rein in rising insurance premiums — up 87% nationally this decade — or rising co-pays, deductibles and other health fees. Which means that costs, already unaffordable for far too many, would continue to spin out of control.
The bill fails to limit rising prescription drug costs, especially notable at a time when Schwarzenegger has just eliminated funding for his “voluntary” drug price restraints that were so ballyhooed last year by the governor and the authors of AB 8.
It is not universal, as many of the currently uninsured would remain without access to care. It fails to assure uniform, comprehensive benefits, and therefore perpetuates an increasingly multi-tiered health system based on the ability to pay.
It fails even to require insurance companies to provide insurance. They would not have to offer coverage to those with serious medical conditions — those people would instead be dumped into a publicly funded high-risk pool, earning big insurance companies millions in additional profits while bankrupting the public pool with the sickest, costliest patients.
The bill does not even protect patients’ choice of physicians, hospitals or other providers.
And, most critically, the plan reinforces and expands an insurance-based system — the source of much of the present crisis — thereby subverting real reform for years to come.
At the center of the plan is a mandate on businesses to either provide health coverage or pay taxes into a fund to buy it for their employees. The new tax would fall between the 7.5% of payroll costs favored by Nuñez and the 4% Schwarzenegger proposes.
No matter where the compromise figure ends up, it will be far less than many employers now pay for health benefits. One-fourth of all California businesses that provide health benefits currently pay more than 15% of their payroll for health premiums, according to the California Healthcare Foundation. As a result, businesses that now provide health coverage to employees would have an incentive to drop it.
Moreover, the mandate on employers is unlikely to survive a legal challenge; a similar Maryland bill was thrown out by the federal courts for violating federal benefits law.
Schwarzenegger continues to push his proposal to force most uninsured people to buy insurance or face severe penalties. So far, Democrats have resisted this proposal, but many expect them to accept some form of individual mandate as the final price for Schwarzenegger’s blessing for the term limits initiative.
Last year, Democrats united behind SB 840, a single-payer-style, enhanced “Medicare for all” bill that would have provided guaranteed healthcare for everyone, controlled costs, eliminated co-pays and deductibles, guaranteed choice of provider, and gotten the insurance companies out of the way.
Similar systems are succeeding in every other industrialized democracy — including Schwarzenegger’s homeland, Austria. If the politicians in Sacramento are concerned about patient care, they will not now settle for a bad healthcare bill that will further degrade our healthcare safety net. A bad healthcare bill is worse than no bill.
Deborah Burger, RN is president of the California Nurses Association.
Health Care for All California, a statewide chapter-based organization, has led the movement to pass single payer health care since 1997. HCA sponsors both SB 840 (Kuehl) and the OneCareNow Campaign, a growing grassroots movement to pass single payer health care. SB 840, now called the “gold standard of health care,” would solve the state’s health care crisis by providing for equitable and affordable universal health insurance and a single standard of high quality comprehensive care while preserving the state’s health care infrastructure of providers, hospitals and pharmacies as private and competitive businesses.
We oppose AB 8 for the following reasons:
- AB 8 will expand the health insurance industry, not solve the health care crisis.
First and foremost, under the banner of moving toward universal health care, instead, AB 8 will leave millions uninsured or underinsured while strengthening and perpetuating an insurance system that currently rations health care by excluding those who cannot afford to pay the high cost of insurance premiums. Insurance companies decide what is covered and what is not. They deny care to the uninsured, the underinsured and the insured with preexisting conditions. Health insurance companies ration health care to secure profits.
The unsolvable issue for the status quo is that although health care is treated as such, it is not a commodity. It is a life-giving and life-saving service that is needed by everyone. Providing affordable and quality health care for Californians is not the mission of for-profit insurance entities. AB 8 will not alter the profit motives of this industry, nor will it change the responsibility insurance companies have to their stockholders. The reforms AB 8 proposes to place on current insurance practices will not solve the state’s health care crisis. Instead, they will result in higher insurance prices for individuals, businesses and governments.
- AB 8 does not provide for the necessary cost controls to achieve affordable health care.
Both state and national studies indicate that including all residents in a single risk pool that is insured by a government administered non-profit insurance trust fund is the only method that will save billions of health care dollars–enough to provide affordable and comprehensive universal health care. Although AB 8 provides for preventative health care, disease management and administrative cost controls, it does not do enough to control costs. With its piece meal approach, AB 8 cannot achieve the significant cost savings that a single payer system can. In addition to the above measures, a system as provided by SB 840 can control costs by establishing evidenced based standards of care and by utilizing capital investment management, consolidated budgetary authority, system-wide health care planning and the state’s power to negotiate lower prices for durable medical devices and bulk prescription drugs for 36 million Californians.
- AB 8 does not provide protections needed to guarantee affordability.
This bill leaves too many Californians vulnerable to health care reform that will be too expensive, will not provide enough coverage and for many, no coverage at all. AB 8 does not provide for guaranteed affordability and does not limit co-payments, deductibles or other out-of pocket costs. Although AB 8 does allow for premium subsidies for enrollees with household incomes at or below 300 percent of the poverty line, it does not provide a benchmark for cost sharing between employers and employees.
AB 8 requires that all defined employers spend 7.5 percent of Social Security wages on health care expenditures, which includes purchasing health care coverage for their employees and could include as well, contributions to health savings accounts and other health care programs that do not provide direct health care coverage.Many employers who currently provide health care coverage spend more than 7.5 percent of Social Security wages for the coverage they provide to their employees. AB 8 does not provide minimum coverage standards for the employer market, which could encourage some of these employers to reduce or drop the coverage they provide.
According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation survey, premiums for employer-sponsored family health coverage have increased by 73 percent since 2000, while wages increased only 15 percent concurrently. AB 8 provides for no state oversight of health insurance rates.
A recent joint report by the California Budget Project and the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research finds that “many families spend a substantial amount on health care premiums and out-of-pocket costs, and could face financially devastating medical expenses if they are not adequately protected.” The report states that health care reform legislation should take into account the income needed in California to pay for other necessities such as housing, food, child care, and the risk of extraordinary health care costs. The report suggests placing limits on out-of-pocket costs as well as full subsidies up to 200 percent of the poverty line and partial subsidies “well above” 300 percent of the poverty line. AB 8 does not do this.
AB 8 will place many individuals and families in harm’s way.
I’ve always admired Keith Olbermann’s ability to put into words many of the thoughts I am unable to eloquently express. He has outdone himself with this video showcasing the outright lies, hypocrisy, immorality and lunacy of George W. Bush. (Here is the text for this video from 9/4/07).
While the entire video is incredible, it’s the last thirty seconds which especially touch upon the outrage I, and countless other Americans, feel toward this entire Iraq situation; Keith gives a voice to our concerns–our demands. It’s in this last half-minute of time that I can’t help but be reminded of a definite “must see” movie I didn’t think I’d like at all, but found myself loving, “V for Vendetta.” I can see legions of citizens fed up with GWB and his regime’s status quo, figuratively standing alongside Keith Olbermann during this video, as were the thousands of masked citizens in the final scenes of “V for Vendetta” fed up with the fascist “Norsefire” party. Could someone please hand me a
Guy Hawkes Keith Olbermann mask, please?
Yesterday Mattel announced it’s THIRD recall in just over one month (8/2/07: Fisher-Price Recall Notice (Lead Poisoning)/Links to info/China involved AGAIN!, 8/14/07:Another Mattel recall: lead paint and powerful, loose magnets) due to “violation of lead paint standard”. The whole recall/China/lead scenario kind of makes you want to get back to having the kids play with your empty cardboard boxes and creating parades with pots and lids as musical instruments, eh?
- Marketplace: Another Mattel recall makes three-marketplace.publicradio.org
- Mattel recalls another 800,000 toys worldwide-businessweek.com
- Mattel recall timeliness investigated-insideretailing.com
Important Web Sites
- U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission
- Mattel Product Recalls web site
Added 9/6/07: Here’s the video clip I mention in my comment (3rd one below). Quite telling in regard to how the bottom line ($$$) is ALWAYS going to outweigh health and safety…sigh.