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As The Hill noted last week, 133 plaintiffs filed a civil suit against Romney’s Utah finance co-chair, Robert Lichfield, and his various business entities involved in residential treatment programs for adolescents. The umbrella group for his organization is the World Wide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools (WWASPS, sometimes known as WWASP) and Lichfield is its founder and is on its board of directors.

The suit alleges that teens were locked in outdoor dog cages, exercised to exhaustion, deprived of food and sleep, exposed to extreme temperatures without adequate clothing or water, severely beaten, emotionally brutalized, and sexually abused and humiliated. Some were even made to eat their own vomit.

But the link to teen abuse goes far higher up in the Romney campaign. Romney’s national finance co-chair is a man named Mel Sembler. A long time friend of the Bushes, Sembler was campaign finance chair for the Republican party during the first election of George W. Bush, and a major fundraiser for his father.

Like Lichfield, Sembler also founded a nationwide network of treatment programs for troubled youth. Known as Straight Inc., from 1976 to 1993, it variously operated nine programs in seven states. At all of Straight’s facilities, state investigators and/or civil lawsuits documented scores of abuses including teens being beaten, deprived of food and sleep for days, restrained by fellow youth for hours, bound, sexually humiliated, abused and spat upon.

According to the L.A. Times, California investigators said that at Straight teens were “subjected to unusual punishment, infliction of pain, humiliation, intimidation, ridicule, coercion, threats, mental abuse… and interference with daily living functions such as eating, sleeping and toileting.”

Read the rest of this vitally important and utterly underreported issue here.

From the Feminist Majority Foundation today:

We have just 13 days to defeat North Dakota Measure 3, which will be on the state’s primary ballot June 12th. It is a state constitutional amendment that simply goes too far and could deny a woman basic medical care such as birth control. We need your help.This dangerous amendment states that “The right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief may not be burdened unless the government proves it has no compelling governmental interest…” We need your help because if this state constitutional amendment passes, it will certainly move to other states and it could have far reaching and alarming consequences:• A man could claim domestic violence or child abuse laws don’t apply to him because his religious beliefs give him the right to beat his wife and children.• An employer could deny birth control coverage or other needed medical treatment to a woman under its health plan on basis of the employer’s religious belief.• A pharmacy could refuse to fill a birth control prescription on the basis of its religious belief.
Help the campaign to defeat Measure 3 and put an end to this so-called “religious freedom” amendment that could endanger women’s health. If passed, Measure 3 will spread - we cannot allow this to happen. Say NO to 3!

More here.

From the Feminist Majority Foundation today:

We have just 13 days to defeat North Dakota Measure 3, which will be on the state’s primary ballot June 12th. It is a state constitutional amendment that simply goes too far and could deny a woman basic medical care such as birth control. We need your help.

This dangerous amendment states that “The right to act or refuse to act in a manner motivated by a sincerely held religious belief may not be burdened unless the government proves it has no compelling governmental interest…” We need your help because if this state constitutional amendment passes, it will certainly move to other states and it could have far reaching and alarming consequences:

• A man could claim domestic violence or child abuse laws don’t apply to him because his religious beliefs give him the right to beat his wife and children.
• An employer could deny birth control coverage or other needed medical treatment to a woman under its health plan on basis of the employer’s religious belief.
• A pharmacy could refuse to fill a birth control prescription on the basis of its religious belief.


Help the campaign to defeat Measure 3 and put an end to this so-called “religious freedom” amendment that could endanger women’s health. If passed, Measure 3 will spread - we cannot allow this to happen. Say NO to 3!

More here.

Remember? Remember how our president gave speeches shortly thereafter about finding “common ground” on abortion? Don’t you wonder where, exactly, that common ground is? Is it on “Let’s come to a compromise on how many healthcare providers you assassinate per year”? In the wake of a Southern string of 3 targeted burglaries at clinics and 3 women’s health buildings set aflame (some of which don’t even provide abortion care), wouldn’t you really like to know what common ground looks like? “Let’s agree that no one likes fires in the summer; you could at least save arson for the winter months”?

Where’s a libertarian declaring “Those who would trade liberty for security…” when you could actually use one?

Dr. Tiller didn’t fuck around like that. They massed outside his office, and he had a huge sign printed: “Women need abortions, and I’m going to provide them.” No mincing, no equivocating, and no compromising his patients’ care. He went to work every day to protect women’s freedoms. Someone shot him in both arms, and he went back to work the next day. He had a gate at the clinic and wore a bulletproof vest — but his murderer shot him in the head, at church.

Read the whole thing at The Abortioneers here.

Growing up in Tehran, he said, he was 12 when “I think different than other girls the same age.”

He wanted to be a boy.

But Iran, a traditional Islamic country, is not open-minded or educated about LGBT people, Aren said in an interview last week at the NSC office. In fact, in Iran a person can be executed for being gay.

He kept his secret from his family, but his mother, a nurse, would wonder why Aren - as a girl - didn’t express interest in boys.

Aren began dressing like a boy and had short hair. At about 18 years old, he had a girlfriend, whom he kept secret from his family.

One day, when they were in a park for women only, a female police officer asked if Aren was a boy or girl and tapped Aren. His girlfriend got angry and asked the officer, “What are you doing?”

The police ended up arresting the girlfriend because she got belligerent. They didn’t arrest Aren but had him write a statement promising he would act more like a girl, he said.

When he was about 21, Aren and his girlfriend had a party at his father’s house to celebrate their third anniversary. His father was not home at the time; his parents had divorced.

At the party, a friend’s two daughters took a photo of Aren with his girlfriend. After an argument, they threatened to give the photo to the government and to Aren’s family, Aren said. “I am so scared,” he recalled. That’s when he and his girlfriend decided to flee Iran, without telling his family, taking a train to Turkey.

In Turkey, he registered with the police and went to apply for refugee status with the UNHCR. The police and UNHCR directed him and his girlfriend to live in Kayseri, a city in central Turkey, where he stayed for 2 1/2 years until he came to the U.S. as a refugee.

People in Turkey, as in Iran, discriminated against him, Aren said. An old woman in his neighborhood would spit at him because of the way he looked.

One night, some men knocked on his and his girlfriend’s door, scaring them and saying they were police. The next day, Aren said, he went to the police station, but authorities there said they hadn’t knocked on his door.

Ten months ago, Aren and his girlfriend were resettled as LGBT refugees in Philly, but they have since broken up. Because of the discrimination he faced in Iran and Turkey, when he arrived here, “I think I am zero,” he said.

Read the whole piece here

For our United States followers:

From Pat Reuss, who was/is one of the main people working for VAWA.

Terry O’Neill (National NOW President) and I are here in Phoenix visiting Olga and before we go to the Hospice, we’re working on VAWA.  I am so proud of Terry who is personally calling Senate offices for VAWA.  Please join Terry and make a call today or tomorrow for VAWA.  It’s important that you reach the D.C. office and ask for the staffer in charge of VAWA by name.  And yes, leave a voice mail or message if they can’t or won’t take your call.  I suggest that you read these two articles in the New York Times and the The Hill because they will get you fired up to make these calls.

If your Senator(s) are co-sponsors, please contact them with a great big thanks and ask them to not only vote for cloture (needs 60 votes) but to speak out in support for the bipartisan Leahy/Crapo bill,  S. 1925. 

If your Senator(s) are not sponsors (and only Republicans are left), please take this time to ask them to join the 6 Republicans on the bill as a sponsor.  If they cannot sponsor the bill, ask them to at least vote for cloture and for the “real” VAWA, the bipartisan Leahy/Crapo bill,  S. 1925. 

Opponents to S. 1925 are promoting a party mantra:  “I support VAWA, but not that VAWA!”  They are telling us that they prefer the Grassley bill which just reauthorizes the old VAWA and doesn’t do all this new stuff and doesn’t include all these new groups (special interests according to Sen. Orrin Hatch) and doesn’t cost so much money.  

NOW is proud to stand firm with Senators Leahy and Crapo and insist that immigrant, Native and LGBTQ victims of violence are not special interests, they are us, and MUST NOT BE LEFT OUT. 

More at NOW’s Young Feminist Task Force here, including links to senators and phone numbers for them: http://youngfeministtaskforce.blogspot.com/2012/03/vawa-calls-needed-now-to-include.html?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter