Sunday, October 31, 2010

Links for a Monday

--NPR's Laura Sullivan reports that the infamous Arizona Immigration law passed last spring has its origins in a scheme for providing inmates for a privately owned women and children's prison.
NPR spent the past several months analyzing hundreds of pages of campaign finance reports, lobbying documents and corporate records. What they show is a quiet, behind-the-scenes effort to help draft and pass Arizona Senate Bill 1070 by an industry that stands to benefit from it: the private prison industry.

The law could send hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to prison in a way never done before. And it could mean hundreds of millions of dollars in profits to private prison companies responsible for housing them.


Instead of taking his idea to the Arizona statehouse floor, [Arizona state Senator Russell] Pearce first took it to a hotel conference room.

It was last December at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C. Inside, there was a meeting of a secretive group called the American Legislative Exchange Council. Insiders call it ALEC.

It's a membership organization of state legislators and powerful corporations and associations, such as the tobacco company Reynolds American Inc., ExxonMobil and the National Rifle Association. Another member is the billion-dollar Corrections Corporation of America — the largest private prison company in the country...
You can read or listen to podcasts of Sullivan's reports here.

--Lately violence and death threats by right-wing extremists in the US seem to be proliferating at an alarming pace. I can't help but think that the right-wing demagogues ranting and raving against anyone who doesn't share their hatreds are provoking it. It seems pretty clear that the death theats made against the League of Women Voters in Illinois were directly incited by Glenn Beck's vitriol. Noting "that the League has been doing candiate forums and debates like the one Beck highlighted for decades," Mary Schaafsma, the issues and advocacy coordinator for the Illinois League, told ThinkProgress that "following the threats, the League locked the doors to its Chicago offices for several days and alerted the building management of the possible threat. 'I’ve been working in politics and nonprofits for a long long time and I never seen this level and pitch of vitriol,' she said."

--Over at the Feminist Philosophers blog, Jender quotes Jessica Nathanson on an everyday performance of gender:
I’ve assigned students the task of walking down the sidewalk and not getting out of men’s way and then reporting what happens. Several women have reported being bumped into. What was particularly interesting was hearing about this as learned gender behavior when one male student who was also trans talked about learning that he had to walk down the middle of the sidewalk, through crowded spaces such as clubs, etc., with his head up, eyes directly ahead, without saying excuse me or worrying about bumping into people. What my students and I learned from this exercise is that walking down the middle of the sidewalk is a male entitlement, as is expecting others to get out of one’s way in other crowded spaces. And – not only is it an entitlement, but it is also a way of performing maleness, so that NOT doing these things marks one as less than manly.

--On the occasion of the Nobel Prize in Medicine's being awarded for work on reproductive technologies, Julia Indichova 's IVF: The Heavy Cost of the Nobel Prize takes note of the lack of public knowledge of not only the consistently poor failure-rate of IVF but also of the long-term health consequences that are underplayed by the $5 billion industry that exploits women for the sake of profit. She cites in particular a 2009 New England Journal of Medicine article and suggests that the IVF industry is an example of technopoly, "a system wherein technology is always viewed as positive and of value, with little consideration of its consequences."

--Metta Spencer, in Why Did You Stay Communist So Long?, writes about Chandler Davis's It Walks in Beauty. Meanwhile, Dr. Robert Runte reports (with photos) on the Chandler Davis event in Toronto last week-- making me envious of those who got to attend.

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