For feminists and reproductive rights advocates, this fight is about equality—about “the right of individual women to be free from discrimination in their health care plans.” From this point of view, part of what is at stake here is the normative principle that the full panoply of gynecological health services, from STD testing and treatment to contraception, is part of the same continuum of basic health care. A health care system that treats certain services having to do with women and sexuality differently than it treats all other services is a discriminatory health care system. In this connection, the Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health note that “[b]irth control pills are not just for contraception—they help manage conditions like [this patient’s] as well as lower the risk for certain cancers. All families need affordable access to medications that safeguard their health, including birth control.” The strongest (and most strongly feminist) version of this argument is that control over reproduction is essential to equality; therefore reproductive health care must be treated the same as all other health care. From this point of view the new Obama compromise is unsatisfying. It treats one segment of women’s health differently from all others, separating it out and dignifying the view that it is morally different and perhaps more objectionable.Yet the GOP and the most conservative Catholics, who believe that liberty and freedom mean being able to treat women as second-class citizens aren't happy. And they won't be satisfied so long as women aren't put in their proper place. After all, they've already shown their hand (h/t Ale):
Because, of course, this isn’t about religious liberty, as the bishops admitted long ago. “We consider [birth control] an elective drug,” the bishops’ spokesman told the Daily Beast’s Dana Goldstein last summer, before the guidelines to fully cover contraception were adopted. “Married women can practice periodic abstinence. Other women can abstain altogether. Not having sex doesn’t make you sick.” While this may not be realistic or good public-health policy, at least it’s honest about what world they really want for women.Says the always-thoughtful Amanda Marcotte:
This was never about religious liberty. It was always about three things: 1) An attempt to chip away at health care reform 2) a chance to assert their belief that an employer actually owns their employee and should be able to go so far as to control her sex life and 3) a deep-set fear and hostility to women’s liberation. It is the last that is strongest and most compelling to right-wingers. Now that the fig leaf of “religious liberty” has been taken from those who want to remove an individual woman’s religious liberty to decide for herself whether or not to use contraception, the rhetoric has returned to panicking over how contraception is something only dirty sluts use, making over 99 percent of American women dirty sluts.Or, put another way, what about the health and religious freedom of the insured?:
The USCCB immediately reverted to attacking contraception as a great evil undermining society, stating that contraception is not preventive services on the grounds that “pregnancy is not a disease.” (Since the Catholic Church permits women to prevent pregnancy through abstinence, it’s clear this belief is only an inch deep, and a fig leaf for anti-sex attitudes.) They also falsely claimed that the policy covers abortion, a claim which in and of itself violates the Ten Commandments, specifically the one forbidding believers from bearing false witness. Sean Hannity lost it, characterizing the 99 percent of American women who have used contraception as not responsible. This group of supposedly irresponsible people almost surely includes Hannity and his wife, as they’ve only had two children, despite being married since 1993.
Why so much anger and fear from the right over this? We can eliminate their claims of “religious liberty,” since Obama addressed that. So why so scared? After all, contraception is, as noted, already widely popular. It’s not like making it free is going to usher in some new era where women are going to just start thinking they can have sex like free people. Women already think that. And even if they were able to get Obama to back down on the question of religiously-affiliated secular institutions like hospitals and universities, that would still mean the majority of women get co-pay-free contraception from their employers. So why all the fuss?
I think it’s because this is about more than birth control. This fight is much larger than that, and goes to whether or not we’re going to define women as full citizens whose right to live as free and empowered as men will be a priority for our government and society going forward. Liberals can often be the sorts who miss the forest for the trees. When we see “free birth control,” we mainly think in pragmatic, immediate terms about the effects: lower unintended pregnancy rates, lower abortion rates, health care savings, better educational and employment opportunities, money saved that women can invest in other ways, and more options for women. But the symbolic value of empowering women in this way can have even larger ramifications, and that is what I believe scares the right so much.
Contraception is about maternal, infant and child health; it is about desired family size, family formation, and the most basic and profound choices individuals can make — whether, when and with whom to bear and raise a child. It is also about medically-indicated conditions which women face for which birth control is prescribed. It is a foundational issue for the social and economic participation of women. It is an individual human rights issue. And every domestic and international medical body with any legitimacy recognizes it as such. It is not about the religious freedom of religious institutions a la Citizens United, but about the health and religious freedoms of individuals, the vast majority of whom clearly disagree with the teachings of the Catholic Church.So long as “religious liberty” is being used as a cover for an assault essential women's health services, there's no reason to make exceptions for it:
And let's remember one thing: Well before the issue of the exemptions came up, the Bishops were fighting inclusion of contraception per se in the definition of preventive care. They did not want contraception to be included as part of the primary preventive care package of insurance coverage for anyone under any employer. So this is about their attempt to control public health a la Nicaragua, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Kenya and other countries where they have succeeded in severely diminishing women's access to care across the board and where, as a consequence, unsafe abortion and other causes of maternal death are among the leading killers of women ages 15 to 49. For this reason as well, this decision has implications for women's lives not just in the United States, but literally throughout the world.
Whose conscience is it? The regulation doesn’t require anyone to use birth control. It exempts any religious employer that primarily hires and serves its own faithful, the same exclusion offered by New York and California from the contraception mandate in state insurance laws. (Of the other states that require such coverage, 15 offer a broader opt-out provision, while eight provide no exemption at all.) Permitting Catholic hospitals to withhold contraception coverage from their 765,000 employees would blow a gaping hole in the regulation. The 629-hospital Catholic health care system is a major and respected health care provider, serving one in every six hospital patients and employing nearly 14 percent of all hospital staff in the country. Of the top 10 revenue-producing hospital systems in 2010, four were Catholic. The San Francisco-based Catholic Healthcare West, the fifth biggest hospital system in the country, had $11 billion in revenue last year and treated 6.2 million patients.After all, why should employers have any say over which health services their employees use?:
These institutions, as well as Catholic universities — not seminaries, but colleges and universities whose doors are open to all — are full participants in the public square, receiving a steady stream of federal dollars. They assert — indeed, have earned — the right to the same benefits that flow to their secular peers. What they now claim is a right to special treatment: to conscience that trumps law.
[I]t is not clear why the religious beliefs of any employer or insurer should take precedence over those of its employees or enrollees. Expanding the exemption would affect millions of teachers and guidance counselors, doctors and nurses, clerks and janitors, by interfering with their access to preventive health care that they deem necessary and in line with their own religious and moral beliefs. Indeed, the opposition to contraceptive use by some religious leaders does not reflect the beliefs of the laity: 99 percent of U.S. women who have ever had sex with a man have used a contraceptive method other than natural family planning, and that figure is virtually the same across religious groups, including 98 percent among sexually experienced Catholic women. For those employees who do adhere to their employer’s religious position on contraception, providing coverage of contraception would not in any way force them to use it in violation of their beliefs.And let's not lose sight of the fact that this is a question of women's health — and that there are real-life consequences to refusing to pay for women's health:
Objections to financial entanglement with someone else’s use of contraception are also problematic. It is difficult to see why an employer has any more right to veto an employee’s use of her health benefits than it does to veto her use of her salary, sick leave, or other aspects of her compensation for the same contraceptive services. Moreover, everyone paying for insurance is paying for some services they expect never to need or use, and allowing individuals to pick and choose what specific benefits to cover would undermine the ability of insurance to pool peoples’ risks. That type of self-selection is what leads insurers to impose the sort of restrictions on coverage—such as limitations for preexisting conditions or maternity care—that the ACA was designed to eliminate.
[W]e should be talking about real women affected by this policy, like the unnamed Georgetown law student with polycystic ovarian syndrome featured in the Times, who lost an ovary after falling prey to the “pro-life” insurance compromises at her institution. Or why the millions of women who get their insurance through a Catholic institution and use birth control should be subject to different rules than their fellow citizens.Perhaps it's all said best in comic form:
One Catholic bishop insisted, with no sense of irony whatsoever, that “people of faith cannot be made second-class citizens.” Apparently women are another story.
Komen may have recognized they made a mistake in politicizing their organization, but let's not forget about how they still epitomize the privatization of the public sphere, and are often as interested in slapping their name on more and more products than actually accomplishing real change:
Thanks to Brinker, “breast cancer has blossomed from wallflower to the most popular girl at the corporate charity prom.” Her numbers are indeed impressive. Brinker brought in $420 million in FY2010 alone, and spent a whooping $141 million on public education campaigns. In a public health climate scrambling just to keep ahead of emergency care, that kind of investment in prevention is extraordinary. Brinker has responded to criticism that she is branding a disease, by telling the grey lady that “America is built on consumerism … To say we shouldn’t use it to solve the social ills that confront us doesn’t make sense to me.”Yup:
The Komen Foundation PR debacle may be over, but it illuminates a much larger disaster built into the charity model of social justice work. If there were adequate public funding for health care, including preventive screenings, the private pullout would barely register on our radars. And coming from a group whose CEO served as an Ambassador for Bush42, this kind of politicization of basic life chances should hardly surprise us. What do you expect when the social safety net is replaced by corporate benevolence? And more to the point, what are the other unseen consequences of abdicating a critical state function?
The result is that the most vulnerable women do no receive necessary help, while rich women race for the cure. In the glossy 2010 report, the foundation touts $40 million in community grants targeting women of color. That’s a nice chunk of change, but is nearly $10 million less than the foundation spent on advertising in the same year. Ironically, Nancy Brinker sees her emphasis on consumer product tie-ins as the “democratization of a disease.” Lots of consumers undoubtedly feel the same way, assuaging their guilt, fears, and grief at the check-out counter. But buying a key-chain isn’t real democratic participation. As citizens concerned about public health, we should be demanding publicly funded healthcare for all, and insisting on a health system whose egalitarianism would be ingrained in its very structure, not cited as an incidental byproduct of corporate goodwill.
Komen Foundation v. Planned Parenthood has been decided in the court of public opinion, but the larger problems remain. The controversy helps identify the twin evils that we face: the privatization of basic life chances, and placation of progressive political impulses through capitalist accumulation.
[T]hat's all Komen is – a consulting firm that helps large corporate clients sell more of their products through pinkwashing campaigns. By slathering everything from pasta to baseball bats to perfume to fast food with the Pink Imprimatur, consumers are led to believe that their purchases are making meaningful contributions to breast cancer research. Somewhere down the line a few cents per purchase may trickle into those bloated coffers, but the immediate and motivating effect of that pink packaging is to get you to buy things. In short, Komentm is a group of salespeople selling image. Whatever money benefits the sick, researchers, or recovering patients is ancillary. Getting those big, fat tax-exempt checks from their Partners for the Curetm is what drives their business model.
GDP growth does not equal progress (.pdf):
[E]ven as it has become the dominant economic measure and benchmark of progress, it is increasingly understood that GDP obscures or excludes essential aspects of welfare and sustainability in our economy and society, and as a consequence, greatly limits how we gauge policy needs and develop policy responses. This is not to say that GDP or the broader system of national accounts should be dismantled or ignored. Any credible reform agenda in this area recognizes that the system of national accounts provides important information about a range of economic realities, including personal income, savings, and consumption, gross and net capital formation, imports and exports, and net foreign investment; and as a summary measure, GDP is a good general barometer of levels of economic activity. Obviously, we should not stop using this system as a source of economic information.
The problem lies in how GDP has come to play such a defining role in public debates about economic performance and social progress, and ultimately in policy-making. In an economic narrative dominated by the growth rate of GDP, significant and growing problems at the household level, in societal conditions and well-being, in environmental welfare, and in other key dimensions of our stability and progress as a nation, are held at the margins of debate, many steps removed from public attention let alone serious political action.
The case against GDP can be broken down in seven basic ways:
1. Distribution: GDP tells us nothing about how growth is distributed at the household level. For example, while U.S. GDP more than doubled over the last 30 years, median household income grew only 16 percent. Nearly all of the GDP growth went to the top 20 percent and most of those gains went to the top 10 percent of households. Whether GDP goes up or down, it gives us no sense of who is benefiting from the gains or how the average household is faring.In short, GDP ignores many “bads” from economic activity, counts many “bads” as goods, and fails to count many important goods that are not transacted in markets. While these shortcomings can be addressed as technical weaknesses in a particular statistical model, fixing GDP, or going “beyond GDP” with other measures, is not simply a problem of fixing the methods. Rather, the deeper problem is the economic model lying behind GDP and reinforced by our over-reliance on GDP. Depending on GDP promotes an economic model devoted to “growth at all costs,” where “more” is equated with “better” and an expanding economy equals social progress even as average households do not benefit and the critical non-market dimensions of our lives and nation—our human, social, and environmental capital—are depleted for lack of adequate investments and protections. Changing our economic feedback system is a crucial step for refocusing public concern and bringing new policy demands into the mainstream of debate and decision-making about the nation’s future.
2. Quantity vs. Quality: GDP measures the quantity of goods and services but not the quality. Money spent on alcohol and gambling is just as “good” by GDP standards as money spent on books and exercise. What is good for GDP is often harmful by other important criteria such as health and social well-being.
3. Defensive Expenditures: GDP does not distinguish between expenditures that positively increase human welfare, such as college tuition, and “defensive expenditures” that protect against threats to current welfare, such as cleaning up industrial disasters, treating socially-conditioned diseases (smoking-related, obesity, etc.), and military spending to protect national interests from real or perceived threats.
4. Real Economic Value vs. Borrowed and Speculative Gains: GDP tells us nothing about the sustainability of economic activity. Consumption financed by borrowing adds to GDP just like consumption financed by real gains in household buying power. Financial services add to GDP whether by allocating capital for productive investment or by fueling gigantic asset bubbles with speculation and transfer of risk.
5. Depletion of Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services: GDP essentially ignores environmental problems. Economic activity that depletes natural resources is just as valuable, by GDP standards, as economic activity fueled by renewable resources. Activities that contribute to global warming add value to GDP today even as they threaten massive economic costs in the future due to climate change impacts.
6. Non-Market Activities: GDP tells us nothing about the value generated by non-market services provided in the household, in the public sector, in civil society, and in the broader ecological systems that surround us. The human and social capital generated by parenting, education, voluntarism, community activities, green spaces and other aspects of public planning, etc., are not measured by GDP even though they substantially affect economic well-being and the overall productivity of society. So too, public output—the value generated by public spending in many areas—is not accounted for; nor is the output or social value of charitable services.
7. Social Well-Being: GDP does not always track with indicators of social well-being, such as rates of poverty, literacy, and life expectancy. For example, the United States ranks near the top for per capita GDP but at the same time has the highest poverty and incarceration rates in the advanced world. Likewise, levels of subjective well-being, including life satisfaction, feelings of security and autonomy, and trusting one’s neighbors, are often higher in poorer countries with strong family and community structures than in wealthy countries characterized by social atomization and mass-consumerism.
Tyrone Hayes is a bad-ass:
Hayes is a 5-foot-3 fireplug of a man with a gentle voice and an easy grin who favors black suits when he's on the lecture circuit and sweatshirts and running shorts the rest of the time. He is an unusual breed. You will find few other faculty members who keep their money and identification in a child's Spider-Man sock rather than a wallet, or run their daily 12-mile commute, or compose raps about their research and perform them at scientific meetings. The pool of endocrinologists and herpetologists who might casually mention lunching on homemade raccoon curry is also minuscule. And most scientists, upon discovering that trace amounts of one of the nation's top-selling herbicides cause gender-bending abnormalities in frogs, would have been content to publish their results and let the regulators and manufacturers fight it out.
But Hayes is not like other scientists. To be sure, he publishes in all the right journals and presents his work at the key scientific meetings, but he has also spearheaded a public outcry against atrazine, testifying at government hearings, appearing in all forms of media, and even launching AtrazineLovers.com, an anti-atrazine website.
All of this has earned Hayes something approaching rock-star status. He has been the subject of a children's book (The Frog Scientist), travels the world giving lectures, and by his estimate has appeared in a dozen documentaries. And while scores of researchers have described atrazine's worrisome effects, it is Hayes' knack for drama that has brought attention to the problem. Without him, atrazine might not be undergoing its third Environmental Protection Agency review in less than a decade, and Syngenta, the chemical's Swiss manufacturer, might not be facing lawsuits in state and federal courts by plaintiffs from 40 Midwestern water districts who claim atrazine has contaminated their drinking water. "He's a remarkable person," says David Skelly, a Yale ecologist who has served on two of the advisory panels that help the EPA vet atrazine research. "And he's become the personality associated with this issue because he's a remarkable person."
Yet over the years, Hayes has become engaged in a remarkably antagonistic sort of symbiosis with Syngenta. Company reps trail him from one speaking engagement to the next; Hayes, in turn, bombards Syngenta with a steady flow of emails laced with profane verses, academic taunts, and even accounts of his dreams. When a batch of these emails became public in 2010, Hayes' supporters and critics alike were stunned. Here was one of the top scientists in his field, provoking one of the world's largest agrichemical companies with crude sexual innuendos and LL Cool J-inspired raps:
tyrone b hayes is hard as hell
battle anybody, i don't care who you tell
you object! you will fail!
mercy for the weak is not for sale
Over time, these tense interactions escalated into the kind of verbal jostling you'd expect in a high school hallway. Syngenta officials, according to Hayes, have made derogatory remarks about his appearance, his speaking style, and even his sexual proclivities, which sounds implausible until you consider that Syngenta's PR firm, Jayne Thompson & Associates, once proposed a covert media campaign to discredit the court system in an Illinois county where judges are presiding over an atrazine lawsuit.
At one conference in 2005, he contends, Syngenta staff scientist Tim Pastoor accused him of "cherry-picking data" and asked if he cherry-picked his dates as well. Hayes responded in an email: "don't worry...daddy has no intentions of picking your cherry." At another meeting, Pastoor asserted that atrazine was a vital tool for US farmers. Hayes emailed him to ask, "How long have YOU been a 'vital tool'?" adding, "I've got your vital tool right here."
While there was a certain frat boy humor to this scientific smack talk, there was also an element of psychological warfare. After Hayes gave a lecture at the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry confab in 2007, he received an email from Syngenta scientist Alan Hosmer, whom he knew from his EcoRisk days: "You lost and everyone at SETAC was calling you an entertaining fraud," Hosmer wrote.
Hayes felt the message was designed to arouse a black academic's worst anxieties: the fear of being seen as a buffoon or an affirmative-action mistake. This time, Syngenta reps received a six-page email response titled: "I OWN THIS: A MADMAN'S MANIFESTO." In it, Hayes bragged of his fame ("I get paid $10,000 for talking for an hour"), ridiculed Syngenta's research ("nothing you have done can touch the quality of my work"), and waxed poetic about how his kids attend the fancy "white private schools" that were unavailable to him. He also deployed his favorite phrase—"I don't give a fuck"—shortened to an acronym: "IDGAF! Come on?????...do you think I care about propriety and professionalism?...I have used the 'F-word' in my talks, have quoted DMX, Busta Rhymes, Tyra Banks, Marvin Gaye...I pack the room, have em' call out security...and have been invited back every year. That's my house, Trick!"
Things came to a head in February 2010, when Syngenta's Pastoor buttonholed Hayes in the Illinois Statehouse as Hayes prepared to testify before an Assembly committee. "Who's taking care of your family and your lab when you're traveling so much, Tea Bag?" Pastoor allegedly said. "Don't you worry about that?" The episode ended, Hayes claims, with Pastoor saying: "Next time you give a talk, I'm going to bring some of my good old boys and let you tell them how atrazine is making them gay. That should be fun. How about that, Tea Bag?"
Hayes was mystified: Was Pastoor referring to his initials, T.B. Hayes, or to the sexual act known as "teabagging"? Either way, he saw it as an effort to unnerve him prior to his testimony. "He wants me to think that if I go out for a run tonight, some people in a pickup truck are going to come," he says. Pastoor did not respond to my requests to get his side of the exchange; Syngenta's spokeswoman replied that "Dr. Hayes' unfounded allegations are not relevant to serious scientific or public policy discussions."
Hayes dashed off a furious rhyming response to Pastoor, Hosmer, and Syngenta attorney Alan Nadel. The next day, a message from Nadel to Pastoor landed back in his mailbox, clearly cc'd by accident: "Tim: I think you did hit a nerve. Alan." Hayes took it as proof that Syngenta officials were plotting to get under his skin. "They're probably Googling: 'Things that black people don't like to hear,'" he says.
A cooler head might have filed the emails away and gone back to his frogs. But Hayes was infected by an acute case of esprit d'escalier. He continued bombarding his nemeses with hip-hop battle taunts until that July, when Syngenta filed an ethics complaint with UC-Berkeley charging that the emails were not only "aggressive, unprofessional and insulting, but also salacious and lewd." It also went public with 102 pages of Hayes' emails. Exhibit A:
ya outa' luck...bouta show you how it is right now
see you're ****ed...(i didn't pull out) and ya fulla my j*z right now!
We're living in a chemical landscape. Yet, the Obama administration keeps dragging its feet on regulating toxics (h/t Katelyn):
[T]he 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act specifically grants the EPA the authority to create a list of troubling compounds. Companies are “screaming bloody murder,” she said, because they fear a backlash from concerned consumers and worry further regulation of named chemicals could follow.
In the more than 35 years since Congress passed the law, known as TSCA, the EPA hasn’t used its power to flag chemicals of concern. The current proposal is part of the agency’s attempt to make the most of its authority under TSCA, which has faced fierce criticism from environmental groups and some in Congress as out of date and ill equipped to address risks from the vast array of industrial chemicals now in use. Perennial attempts in Congress to overhaul the law have failed.
Soon after taking over as EPA administrator, Jackson signaled that the agency would focus on improving regulation of toxic substances. “Assuring chemical safety in a rapidly changing world, and restoring public confidence that EPA is protecting the American people is a top priority for me, my leadership team, and this Administration,” she said in a 2009 speech.
But many of the agency’s efforts, such as the “chemicals of concern” list, have encountered resistance — including from within the administration. “A very disturbing pattern has developed with OIRA’s review of EPA proposals to better ensure chemical safety: Long delays — far in excess of the mandated 90 days — have become routine,” Richard Denison, a senior scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, said in a statement.
The GOP's War On Poor continues. Meanwhile, the education gap between rich and poor grows:
It is a well-known fact that children from affluent families tend to do better in school. Yet the income divide has received far less attention from policy makers and government officials than gaps in student accomplishment by race.
Now, in analyses of long-term data published in recent months, researchers are finding that while the achievement gap between white and black students has narrowed significantly over the past few decades, the gap between rich and poor students has grown substantially during the same period.
“We have moved from a society in the 1950s and 1960s, in which race was more consequential than family income, to one today in which family income appears more determinative of educational success than race,” said Sean F. Reardon, a Stanford University sociologist. Professor Reardon is the author of a study that found that the gap in standardized test scores between affluent and low-income students had grown by about 40 percent since the 1960s, and is now double the testing gap between blacks and whites.
In another study, by researchers from the University of Michigan, the imbalance between rich and poor children in college completion — the single most important predictor of success in the work force — has grown by about 50 percent since the late 1980s.
The changes are tectonic, a result of social and economic processes unfolding over many decades. The data from most of these studies end in 2007 and 2008, before the recession’s full impact was felt. Researchers said that based on experiences during past recessions, the recent downturn was likely to have aggravated the trend.
“With income declines more severe in the lower brackets, there’s a good chance the recession may have widened the gap,” Professor Reardon said. In the study he led, researchers analyzed 12 sets of standardized test scores starting in 1960 and ending in 2007. He compared children from families in the 90th percentile of income — the equivalent of around $160,000 in 2008, when the study was conducted — and children from the 10th percentile, $17,500 in 2008. By the end of that period, the achievement gap by income had grown by 40 percent, he said, while the gap between white and black students, regardless of income, had shrunk substantially.
That old mall no one goes to anymore takes a Jane Jocobs-esque turn?:
Designers in Buffalo have proposed stripping down a mall to its foundation and reinventing it as housing, while an aspiring architect in Detroit has proposed turning a mall’s parking lot there into a community farm. Columbus, Ohio, arguing that it was too expensive to maintain an empty mall on prime real estate, dismantled its City Center mall and replaced it with a park.
Even at many malls that continue to thrive, developers are redesigning them as town squares — adding elements like dog parks and putting greens, creating street grids that go through the malls, and restoring natural elements like creeks that were originally paved over.
“Basically they’re building the downtowns that the suburbs never had,” along with reworking abandoned urban malls for nonshopping uses, said Ellen Dunham-Jones, a professor at the College of Architecture at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
The efforts reflect a shift in how Americans want to shop today: rather than going to big, overwhelming malls, many prefer places where stores can be entered from the street, featuring restaurants, entertainment and other Main Street mainstays. Also, as commuters in urban areas shift to public transportation, the giant parking lots are no longer needed.
That supposed war on religion? Yeah, it's bunk.
Victory! Trader Joe's finally decides that the tomato-pickers deserve to be treated a bit better.
No more bottled water in the Grand Canyon!
And if Ron Paul has his way, no Grand Canyon at all. (When we were up at the Grand Canyon a couple weeks ago, we did see a car with a Ron Paul 2012 bumper sticker. If not so depressing, the cognitive dissonance would be hilarious.)
New LCV Scorecard. Ron Paul doesn't do well.
ProPublica has a nice run-down of fracking rules.
Abandoned housing tracts store carbon; my fellow urban ecologist friends will not be surprised by this.
But tree cover in urban areas appears to be decreasing.
Increasing water supply through wastewater reuse. People still think it's icky, unfortunately.
New studies on energy efficiency.
Dispose rubber well, or else you're a bird-killer.
The EPA needs to act on soot.
Stop buying gold and supporting this horrible shit, please.
Healthy communities require safe streets.
Frothy Mix is railing against the politicization of science? By ignoring science and replacing it with his ignorant anti-science ideology? Yes, he is. (Wait, is Rick himself an unproven theory? Teach the controversy!) And Newt is trying to one-up him by proposing we get rid of the EPA.
Though neither Newt or Ol' Frothy are quite as despicable as bottom-feeding shitsack Steve King, the racist moron who believes that energy and water-use efficiency represent existential threats to the very concept of freedom and liberty.
Speaking of Frothy Mix, what's his take on (that horribly ungodly act of) masturbation?
New tricks to achieve old goals: the GOP attempts to “resegregate” The South.
Obama is a moderate. And he's a coward and complete hypocrite. Though I suppose we shouldn't expect any better from someone who's the very epitome of a corporate Democrat. Yay for hope and change!
Racial and ethnic shifts in metro America.
Shocking news: Muslims should not be treated as the enemy. But that's not stopping the NYPD from criminalizing an entire religion.
The banks may be the big winner in the new mortgage relief package.
Pankaj Mishra is impressed with Katherine Boo's debut book.
Porn books and libraries.
The clichéd language of ESPN. (ESPN loves Tebow, by the way.)
Fellow cat-lovers: the reason you're batshit crazy is because of your cat. Parasites are awesome.
Ricekrispiehenge and other ways to play with your food.
Sweet Jesus, this was a real article. This response is hilarious.
Attention male critics: please stop bring sexist assholes.
So much good music: new releases from Islands, Brooklyn Rider, and Shearwater.
Heather's Happy Link of the Day: a new post on her blog, which mostly showcases just how awesome she is at making things for me that I probably don't deserve. (It also showcases her wit, which vastly exceeds mine. Yeah, she settled.) Also: a goddamned hammerhead shark just ATE MY FACE.
Your Bonus Happy Link of the Day, featuring The Dude: