MA Family Institute wants discrimination back

Massachusetts added gender identity to the list of reasons people can’t be discriminated against in 2016. That’s very upsetting to some people so they’re trying to get it overturned by ballot:

A November ballot question asking voters whether to keep or repeal the state’s 2016 antidiscrimination law is expected to be the first statewide referendum on transgender rights, taking the national temperature on a fiery hot social issue.

Leading the repeal effort are conservative and religious activists and some of the same groups that tried unsuccessfully for years to prevent or stop same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. Their Keep MA Safe campaign — whose website features the bathroom video — suggests that the rights afforded by the state’s antidiscrimination law are infringing upon others’ privacy and potentially endangering women and children.

“A man can enter a woman’s space at any time, without any proof of any sort of medical or psychological condition, merely based on his internal sense of self if he says he identifies as a woman,” said Beckwith, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute.

I have no problem with transgender people being in the same bathroom as me.  I’d be much more worried if Beckwith was in a stall next to me, he seems overly conscious of exactly who is in the bathroom with him.

Conservatives and women

Via here, we get this:

The finding comes from a report, appearing in the September issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, that the maternal mortality rate in the United States increased between 2000 and 2014, even while the rest of the world succeeded in reducing its rate. Excluding California, where maternal mortality declined, and Texas, where it surged, the estimated number of maternal deaths per 100,000 births rose to 23.8 in 2014 from 18.8 in 2000 – or about 27%.

But the report singled out Texas for special concern, saying the doubling of mortality rates in a two-year period was hard to explain “in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval”.

From 2000 to the end of 2010, Texas’s estimated maternal mortality rate hovered between 17.7 and 18.6 per 100,000 births. But after 2010, that rate had leaped to 33 deaths per 100,000, and in 2014 it was 35.8. Between 2010 and 2014, more than 600 women died for reasons related to their pregnancies.

No other state saw a comparable increase.

In the wake of the report, reproductive health advocates are blaming the increase on Republican-led budget cuts that decimated the ranks of Texas’s reproductive healthcare clinics. In 2011, just as the spike began, the Texas state legislature cut $73.6m from the state’s family planning budget of $111.5m. The two-thirds cut forced more than 80 family planning clinics to shut down across the state. The remaining clinics managed to provide services – such as low-cost or free birth control, cancer screenings and well-woman exams – to only half as many women as before.

The report is here and its interpretation is much more circumspect:

The Texas data are puzzling in that they show a modest increase in maternal mortality from 2000 to 2010 (slope 0.12) followed by a doubling within a 2year period in the reported maternal mortality rate. In 2006, Texas revised its death certificate, including the addition of the U.S. standard pregnancy question, and also implemented an electronic death certificate. However, the 2006 changes did not appreciably affect the maternal mortality trend after adjustment, and the doubling in the rate occurred in 2011–2012. Texas cause-of-death data, like with data for most states, are coded at the National Center for Health Statistics, and this doubling in the rate was not found for other states. Communications with vital statistics personnel in Texas and at the National Center for Health Statistics did not identify any data processing or coding changes that would account for this rapid increase. There were some changes in the  provision of women’s health services in Texas from 2011 to 2015, including the closing of several women’s health clinics. Still, in the absence of war, natural disaster, or severe economic upheaval, the doubling of a mortality rate within a 2-year period in a state with almost 400,000 annual births seems unlikely. A future study will examine Texas data by race–ethnicity and detailed causes of death to better understand this unusual finding.

The study is actually much more scathing in regards to something much more basic:

It is an international embarrassment that the United States, since 2007, has not been able to provide a national maternal mortality rate to international data repositories such as those run by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.22 This inability reflects the chronic underfunding over the past two decades of state and national vital statistics systems. Indeed, it was primarily a lack of funds that led to delays (of more than a decade in many states) in the adoption of the 2003 revised birth and death certificates. This delay created the complex data comparability problem addressed in this study. The lack of publication of U.S. maternal mortality data since 2007 has also meant that these data have received a lesser degree of scrutiny and quality control when compared with published vital statistics measures such as infant mortality. For example, had the National Center for Health Statistics and the Texas vital statistics office both been publishing annual maternal mortality rates, the unusual findings from Texas for 2011–2014 would certainly have been investigated much sooner and in greater detail. Accurate measurement of maternal mortality is an essential first step in prevention efforts, because it can identify at-risk populations and measure the progress of prevention programs.

The study notes the same thing as the WHO does here, the US is one of the few countries in the world where the mortality rate for pregnant women is going up and it has one of the highest in the developed world (for example it is double that of Canada). That’s pathetic.

 

Let’s propose something obviously unconstitutional

You go Oklahoma:

The Oklahoma Legislature on Thursday passed a bill that would effectively ban abortions by subjecting doctors who perform them to felony charges and revoking their medical licenses — the first legislation of its kind.

The bill would strip doctors who perform abortions of their medical licenses unless the procedure was necessary to save a woman’s life. The felony provision does not include that exception.

Given that the Supreme Court has ruled that abortion is a Constitutional right, this law is going nowhere. I do love the fact that a doctor can go to jail for performing an abortion even to save the woman’s life, religious conservatives are so compassionate.

One thing you might want to know:

Thursday’s vote in the Senate comes as the Oklahoma Legislature nears a May 27 deadline for adjournment and is still grappling with a $1.3 billion budget hole that could lead to deep cuts to public schools, health care and the state’s overcrowded prison system.

So they pass this bill which will probably cost the state millions:

In an open letter on Thursday, the Center for Reproductive Rights, a legal group based in New York, urged Ms. Fallin to veto what it said was a “blatantly unconstitutional measure.”

Noting that it has sued Oklahoma eight times in the last six years, blocking lesser restrictions like the state’s effort to ban the second-trimester surgical method, the center said that “this bill will almost certainly lead to expensive court challenges that the State of Oklahoma simply cannot defend in light of longstanding Supreme Court precedent.”

Of course, Oklahoma doesn’t really care about schools–at least not as much as oil profits:

After intense lobbying, Oklahoma’s oilmen scored a victory two years ago. State lawmakers voted to keep in place some of the lowest taxes on oil and gas production in the United States – a break worth $470 million in fiscal year 2015 alone.

The state’s schools haven’t been so fortunate. In Newcastle, 23 miles from the capital of Oklahoma City, John Cerny recently learned that the school attended by his five-year-old granddaughter, Adelynn, will open just four days a week next year. The Bridge Creek school district will slash spending because of a projected $1.3 billion state budget shortfall next year.

Shale regions are hurting across the country. Since 2014, the U.S. energy industry has shed more than 100,000 jobs. But during the drilling spree of 2008 to 2014, oil-rich states like North Dakota and Texas saw a sharp rise in oil-and-gas tax revenue and salted away a chunk of it for education. Over the same period, Oklahoma’s oil and gas production tax revenue slid 32 percent, in spite of soaring oil prices and a doubling of oil output.

Oklahoma’s education spending per pupil fell by 24 percent between 2008 and 2016, the biggest drop in the country, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington D.C. group that tracks budget and tax issues on behalf of low-income people.

There’s this saying that conservatives only care about a fetus until it’s born. I always thought this was hyperbole, but it seems it’s true for Oklahoma conservatives.

Tipping

Hmm, I missed this article about tipping when it came out. It’s not a pretty picture:

The restaurant industry is the second largest and fastest growing industry, and yet the Department of Labor reports every year that seven of the 10 lowest paying jobs are restaurant jobs. And, in fact, of those seven lowest paying jobs in America, four are tipped occupations. So even including tips, restaurant workers make up four of the ten lowest paying jobs in America.

But even in places like New York and D.C., seventy percent of tipped workers are actually women, largely working at casual restaurants, like Applebees, IHOP , and Olive Garden, earning a median wage of $9 an hour when you include tips. These people suffer three times the poverty rate of the rest of the U.S. workforce, use food stamps at double the rate, and, the worst part, suffer from the absolute worst sexual harassment of any industry in the United States.

Well, the law has always said from the very beginning that the employer has to make up the difference between the lower tipped-minimum wage and the regular tipped minimum wage, but the U.S. Department of Labor reports an 84 percent violation rate in regards to employers actually ensuring that they make up that difference.

There is still a $4 per hour wage gap between what white workers and workers of color make in the restaurant industry, and it’s because workers of color are relegated to lower level positions. In fine dining, they work as buses and runners, instead of as server and bartenders. They also work in lower level segments, at places like Olive Garden instead of at places like Capital Grille. They work in places where you make less money.

For our most recent report, which came out in 2014, we asked hundreds of restaurant workers to answer this question: ‘Have you experienced sexual behavior in the restaurant industry that is scary or unwanted?’ And 90 percent of workers, both male and female, said yes.

More broadly, the data show that the restaurant industry has the highest rate of sexual harassment of any industry in the United States. It’s actually five times the rate of all other industries. Seven percent of American women work in restaurants, but thirty percent of sexual harassment complaints from women come from the restaurant industry. It’s the single largest source of sexual harassment complaints of any industry in the United States.

What’s ironic is that the idea of tipping in the US came out of Europe and then there was a movement in the US to get rid of tipping in the mid 1800s which spread to Europe. The movement mostly succeeded in Europe but not in the US, which is why tipping is far less common in Europe.

Threats for terrorism way up

The number of threats of terrorism for one thing was up a lot in 2015 but you probably won’t hear much about it, because it’s about abortion:

According to the federation, death threats targeting abortion providers increased from one in 2014 to 94 in 2015, while incidents of vandalism at clinics rose from 12 to 67.

The most violent occurred in November, when a gunman opened fire at a Planned Parenthood abortion clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, killing three people and wounding nine. The man accused in the attack, Robert Dear, has described himself as a ‘‘warrior for the babies.’’

The abortion federation — alarmed by the heightened hostility — has for the first time hired an outside security firm to track online threats. Saporta said the firm began its work in mid-November and in a six-week span identified more than 25,000 incidents of hate speech and threats.

The report is here and includes:

Additionally, the number of hoax devices or suspicious packages found in or around abortion facilities increased four-fold in 2015.

These levels are far below the 1990s when Operation Rescue was in full swing but it’s still troubling.

If you don’t think this is terrorism, go back to the report to find that since 1977 there have been: 11 murders, 26 attempted murders, 42 bombings, and 185 cases of arson. All to try to get a political goal, outlawing abortion.

Oh, the amount of threats is up mainly because of videos targeting Planned Parenthood. The man who made those videos is now being investigate in a second state because of suspected criminal activity. So far, none of the investigations have found any crime committed by Planned Parenthood.

Karma

This is great:

Late last month, the Federal Trade Commission settled a complaint against Brittain in which the agency accused the Coloradan and his defunct site, Is Anybody Down, with unfair business practices. The site paid its bills by soliciting women’s nude photos on Craigslist and/or from their exes, publishing the photos without the women’s permission (and often with their names and phone numbers attached), and then charging fees of $200 to $500 to take the photos down.

and it gets better:

On Feb. 9, Brittain filed a takedown request to Google, demanding that the search engine stop linking to nearly two dozen URLs — including a number of news articles, and files on the case from the FTC — because they used photos of him and information about him without his permission.

Of the 23 links he names, three are public records posted on government Web sites, and the balance are reported articles from major news sites or blogs. Only four contain a picture of Brittain that he appears to have taken himself; several others use a police booking photo from a 2003 incident.

Not only doesn’t he know the law but he complains about things he did in a much worse way. Great stuff.

Well not completely united

So, there was a big unity rally in Paris after the terrorist shootings last week. It seems not everyone thinks that’s a good thing:

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany was right there next to the president of France on Sunday, marching through the streets of Paris for all the world to see — all the world, that is, except the readers of an ultra-Orthodox newspaper in Israel.

The newspaper, HaMevaser, altered a front-page photograph of the march to remove Ms. Merkel and other female leaders, setting off snickers and satire on social media.

Their readers probably don’t want to know about this either:

“Hatred of strangers, racism, extremism have no place in this country,” she said. After the Paris attacks, she said, one has to use “all means to move against intolerance, against violence.”

“We have to turn decisively against everything which breeds prejudice against people who have foreign roots, or against those who are the weakest in society,” she said at a gathering of the 25-year-old German Society Association in Berlin.

Sure it might sound nice, but it was spoken by Chancellor Merkel who they’ve rather not see or hear from it seems.

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