Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Last Call

O, Canada, she cried.

A Canadian court on Monday quashed portions of a law banning brothels and living off the avails of prostitution, lifting key barriers which it said put sex trade workers at risk of harm.

The Ontario Court of Appeal, however, upheld a ban on communicating for the purposes of selling sex.

The ruling would effectively decriminalize prostitution in Ontario province. However, it was suspended for 12 months to give parliament an opportunity to redraft the legislation if so chooses.
It may also be appealed to the Supreme Court.

The effect of these laws is "grossly disproportionate to its goal of curbing problems such as noise and congestion caused by street prostitution," said the court of appeal in its decision.

The panel of judges said the ban is excessive also because it "prevents prostitutes from hiring bodyguards, drivers, or others who could keep them safe, and may actually increase the likelihood that prostitutes will be exploited by forcing them to seek protection from those who are willing to risk a charge under this provision."

Canada.  Still 20 years ahead of us in so many ways.  Except for your filthy poutine and crappy pop stars.

Still, this kicks ass in all kinds of ways.

Too Hot To Handle, Too Cold To Hold

The world's climate scientists are now warning that we've just about passed the tipping point on being able to stop global warming, and the rest of the century will now almost certainly consist of "Just how extreme weather and climate will be and how many will die from it."  Have a nice day.

For ice sheets - huge refrigerators that slow down the warming of the planet - the tipping point has probably already been passed, Steffen said. The West Antarctic ice sheet has shrunk over the last decade and the Greenland ice sheet has lost around 200 cubic km (48 cubic miles) a year since the 1990s.

Most climate estimates agree the Amazon rainforest will get drier as the planet warms. Mass tree deaths caused by drought have raised fears it is on the verge of a tipping point, when it will stop absorbing emissions and add to them instead.

Around 1.6 billion tonnes of carbon were lost in 2005 from the rainforest and 2.2 billion tonnes in 2010, which has undone about 10 years of carbon sink activity, Steffen said.

One of the most worrying and unknown thresholds is the Siberian permafrost, which stores frozen carbon in the soil away from the atmosphere.

In other words, with the ice sheets screwed, the rest of the planet goes into a positive feedback temperature loop.  The more ice melts, the more carbon goes into the atmosphere and the hotter things get...melting more ice and releasing more carbon.  And the earliest that anything might begin to happen on the side of carbon reduction is 2020.

In other words, extreme tornado seasons and summer temps in March are just the beginning.  It's like a wobbly wheel on an axle, soon the wobble gets so bad that the wheel falls off.

And we're about to get rolled.  Our kids?  Resource wars and in serious trouble.  Our grandkids?  Maybe they'll survive the wars.  Dunno.

But we're about to pay the price for dong nothing and letting the climate deniers win.  We all will lose as a result.

Dear America:

"It's better for America's elderly to be disposed of, broke and in landfills, then to subject them to living longer lives under the Kenyan Colonialist's socialist hell.  Just push them out onto the iceberg where they will die free rather than live in slavery.  Also, get rid of the death tax."

--John Hinderaker, Power Line

Bonus Verbatim Stupid:

My own preference is to phase out Medicare. The Constitution gives the federal government no general responsibility with respect to the medical care of its citizens, elderly or otherwise. 

The rest of that paragraph goes on, but there's no need to.  You're on your own if these guys get their way, America.  But at least you'll have the freedom to die because you couldn't afford health care, like Grilled Cheezus and Ben Franklin wanted.

Oops! I Did It Again Edition

From CNET, who rarely covers this type of thing, but even they couldn't pass on this one.
The beauty of gall is that it is sometimes boundless.

You might feel that the story of 21-year-old Brit Ivan Barker proves this handsomely. For he recently stole a laptop belonging to Jacque Mathley.

Not too long afterward, as the Daily Mail tells it, Barker went back to Mathley's house in Stoke-on-Trent and knocked on the door.

He told Mathley he'd come to apologize. He told Mathley the police had instructed him to do it. Mathley, who is wheelchair-bound, seems to have believed this explanation, as he let Barker into his house.

At some point during their conversation, Mathley went to the restroom. When he returned, Barker was gone. So was Mathley's replacement laptop.

That's right, he did it again. After apologizing. Then tries to tell police his apology was sincere, he got all stressed out and stole the other laptop.


So this wasn't worth a Special Place In Hell tag, but a guy so impulsive and entitled will likely be back on our radar.  Until next time, Mr. Barker.

George Zimmerman: One Simple Fact

George Zimmerman now has a few friends coming out to defend him.  One article makes a point to let us know that his black friend Joe says he's not a racist.

There has been a lot of back and forth on this.  Some try to make us feel bad for Zimmerman.  His friend Joe tells us how he's cried, and how his mother-in-law lost her job over this, and can't see her daughter.  He implies we are bullies who are making this poor guy feel bad.

There are a lot of different motives at work.  In the end, it comes to this.  He was told to stand down.  He was told specifically not to pursue his "suspect" and he did.  Because of those actions, an innocent young man is dead.  He feels guilty because he is guilty. This was 100% preventable.  George Zimmerman made sure he pushed a confrontation, and his remorse is too little too late.

Of course it had to do with race.  It had to do with a man deciding to go hunting for a little excitement too, I wager.  Zimmerman had driven his neighbors nuts, because he wanted something to happen.  He found a chance, and now he has to pay for his mistake.  He shot an innocent, unarmed boy who was on a candy run.  And when you get down to the bare bones, it all came from the moment he decided to ignore the order given by law enforcement to let police handle it.

The Kroog Versus ALEC

Paul Krugman arrives at a pretty solid conclusion about our friends at ALEC and their cloning of Florida's deadly "Stand Your Ground" law across the country.

But where does the encouragement of vigilante (in)justice fit into this picture? In part it’s the same old story — the long-standing exploitation of public fears, especially those associated with racial tension, to promote a pro-corporate, pro-wealthy agenda. It’s neither an accident nor a surprise that the National Rifle Association and ALEC have been close allies all along. 

And ALEC, even more than other movement-conservative organizations, is clearly playing a long game. Its legislative templates aren’t just about generating immediate benefits to the organization’s corporate sponsors; they’re about creating a political climate that will favor even more corporation-friendly legislation in the future. 

Did I mention that ALEC has played a key role in promoting bills that make it hard for the poor and ethnic minorities to vote? 

Yet that’s not all; you have to think about the interests of the penal-industrial complex — prison operators, bail-bond companies and more. (The American Bail Coalition has publicly described ALEC as its “life preserver.”) This complex has a financial stake in anything that sends more people into the courts and the prisons, whether it’s exaggerated fear of racial minorities or Arizona’s draconian immigration law, a law that followed an ALEC template almost verbatim. 

Think about that: we seem to be turning into a country where crony capitalism doesn’t just waste taxpayer money but warps criminal justice, in which growing incarceration reflects not the need to protect law-abiding citizens but the profits corporations can reap from a larger prison population

Krugman, the Nobel laureate economist, simply follows the money.  Shocking, I know.  It doesn't take a Nobel Prize winner to figure ALEC's game out, either.  But Krugman is dead on the money here.  The privatization of government services is worth big money to corporate America, to the tune of trillions in guaranteed revenue.  The "small government push" is all about getting the profit margin into your water, phone, sewer, fire, police, ambulance, and public safety services.  If you can't pay, then brother, you don't play.  And you're going to pay.  Big time.

Weight, Weight, Don't Tell Me

Things truly are larger in Texas.  Just...not the employees at one Texas hospital, apparently.

A Victoria hospital already embroiled in a discrimination lawsuit filed by doctors of Indian descent has instituted a highly unusual hiring policy: It bans job applicants from employment for being too overweight.
The Citizens Medical Center policy, instituted a little more than a year ago, requires potential employees to have a body mass index of less than 35 — which is 210 pounds for someone who is 5-foot-5, and 245 pounds for someone who is 5-foot-10. It states that an employee’s physique “should fit with a representational image or specific mental projection of the job of a healthcare professional,” including an appearance “free from distraction” for hospital patients.
“The majority of our patients are over 65, and they have expectations that cannot be ignored in terms of personal appearance,” hospital chief executive David Brown said in an interview. “We have the ability as an employer to characterize our process and to have a policy that says what’s best for our business and for our patients.”
Employment lawyers say Citizens Medical Center’s hiring policy isn’t against the law. Only the state of Michigan and six U.S. cities — including San Francisco and Washington, D.C. — ban discrimination against the overweight in hiring.

As Americans are expected to get larger, expect hiring policies like this to become more prevalent, especially in the health care sector.  And I'm saying this as a big guy working in the health care sector who wouldn't make the 35 BMI requirement.  Our friends in the GOP will tell us of course that employers should have the right to be able to hire and fire based on weight and that it makes good economic sense to do so in order to stay competitive with healthier employees, never mind that the same GOP tells us that pink slime in our burgers and pollutants in our food and water are FREEDOM and stuff.

I honestly think that weight is going to be the next major issue in employment discrimination, and you'll see SCOTUS get a case involving this before too long.  Still, not everyone is okay with this policy at Citizens.  Existing employees will keep their jobs and will get help in losing weight, but...

A doctor at Citizens who declined to be named acknowledged that employees — and patients — who are overweight cost the health care system more. But he said body mass index as a primary measure of obesity is not a good indicator: A professional football player might have a body mass index of 32, which is technically obese, but only have 7 percent body fat.
And unless obese job applicants have other precipitating health factors, he said, their weight wouldn’t get in the way of being a successful hospital employee. “If more people knew about it,” the doctor said of the employment policy, “they would be justifiably pissed.

Consider this my contribution to the whole The More You Know thing.


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