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Sony Pictures Pays Women Less Than Men and Blames Women For It

February 25, 2015

Amy Pascal, former Sony Pictures executive starts off with a non-inflammatory comment to women: “Know what you’re worth,” but this comes on the heels of her arguing that she didn’t have to pay women as much as men because women don’t know their worth. What she didn’t say is that a well-paid female executive, she exploited women that she paid less simply because it suited her.

At the Women in the World conference in San Francisco on Wednesday night, former Sony Pictures Entertainment cochair Amy Pascal responded to the controversy surrounding leaked Sony e-mails that revealed Sony had paid female actors less than their male costars for work on the same movie.

In an interview with journalist Tina Brown, Pascal acknowledged the gender inequality but suggested that the industry isn’t solely responsible for the problem—the onus lies on women, who must take it upon themselves to demand equal pay.

“Here’s the problem: I run a business,” Pascal told Brown, according to Variety. “People want to work for less money, I pay them less money.” The people Pascal is referring to are women. The hack showed that Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Adams earned 2 percent less of the profits from American Hustle than male costars Bradley Cooper, Christian Bale, and Jeremy Renner, The Daily Beast reported in December.

Amy Pascal exploited women because she could, and then she blamed women for it. Her argument runs along the same lines of: “I’m not racist, because those people like sitting at the back of the bus and never ask to come up front…”

It’s easy to say that women who have the ability to negotiate can negotiate more, but it’s also very easy to blame other women for not taking responsibility for something that they had no idea how to take responsibility for, namely that the documents in question were leaked–they had not been published. How are women in show business supposed to know that they are making so much less than their male co-stars? Perhaps it comes down to experience. Charlize Theron just negotiated an equal pay agreement. Amy Pascal negotiated her own equal pay contract.

At the Women in the World conference, Pascal promised that she’s since paid Lawrence more money than the 24-year-old actor made for her role in American Hustle. “Women shouldn’t be so grateful,” Pascal said. “Know what you’re worth. Walk away.”

Charlize Theron embodied that advice last month when she reportedly negotiated a salary equal to that of male costar Chris Hemsworth for the forthcoming movie The Huntsman, Universal’s prequel to Snow White and the Huntsman. The negotiation was heralded for setting a fair precedent in the wake of the Sony leak, which also showed that just one out of 17 Sony employees with a salary of $1 million or more was a woman. Additionally,leaked documents revealed that the male cochair of Columbia Pictures made nearly $1 million more than his female cochair, who had the same job.

It’s worth noting that Pascal, who stepped down as Sony cochair last week, earned the same salary as Sony chairman and CEO Michael Lynton, according to leaked internal documents. One of the last films she approved before leaving her post to launch a production arm at Sony was the anticipated all-female Ghostbusters remake. “It’s about time we have a female action series,” she said at the conference.

Hear that blaming: “women shouldn’t be so grateful”?? Why isn’t she saying that all executives have an onus to pay men and women equally? Why isn’t she taking responsibility for not paying women equal salaries? She just blames women for not asking for larger salaries. Oh that it were that easy… Amy Pascal shows a true lack of understanding of the vulnerable position the majority of these women who are starting out in the film business are in, and she exploited those same women while blaming them for their own exploitation. No wonder Amy Pascal is an executive.

Orthodox Rabbi Accused of Kidnapping Errant Husband Schemes: Champion of Women’s Rights or Criminal

February 19, 2015

When you first hear about this rabbi who is charged with a kidnapping scheme, I am sure that you will be dumbfounded to learn that his lawyer says his client is focused on his own brand of supporting women’s rights and not guilty of any federal crimes, merely practicing his Jewish religion in a fashion supportive of women.

Orthodox Jews are not known for their feminist leanings, vigilante or no, so what do you say to a man who has Orthodox Jewish husbands who won’t agree to a divorce their wives seek, allegedly picked up and shaken around a bit? The real issue is: when does a religious practice become a federal criminal act?

Opening statements began Wednesday in the trial of Epstein and his three co-defendants: son David Epstein, Jay Goldstein and Binyamin Stimler. Mendel Epstein, who is accused of employing a kidnap team to force unwilling Jewish husbands to divorce their wives, faces charges of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and attempted kidnapping. The others face similar charges stemming from a staged kidnapping in 2013 and three other forced divorces.

Defense attorney Robert Stahl disputed the charges and portrayed Mendel Epstein, 69, as a “champion of women’s rights.”

“This is not a band of criminals extorting men for money or beating them for money,” Stahl said, arguing that Jewish law allows recalcitrant husbands to be forced to giving a divorce document known as a “get.”

He called the husbands the villains as Epstein, dressed in a dark suit, silently nodded toward Stahl.

According to the rabbi, this scheme may be allowed as a form of religious expression; however, the prosecuting team says that the rabbi uses “brutal” methods.

Prosecutors allege the Orthodox rabbi‘s team used brutal methods and tools, including handcuffs and electric cattle prods, to torture the men into granting divorces. The kidnap team brought surgical blades, a screwdriver and rope to a staged kidnapping in 2013, authorities have said. Epstein allegedly told the undercover agents he arranged similar kidnappings every year or year and a half, U.S. Attorney Joseph Gribko said. Gribko noted the recordings throughout his opening statement, including Epstein allegedly describing how the cattle prods were used.

“If (the cattle prod) can get a bull that weighs 5 tons to move, you put it in certain parts of his body and in one minute the guy will know,” prosecutors said Epstein told two undercover FBI agents posing as a brother and sister trying to force the sister’s husband to grant the divorce. Gribko said he was recorded telling the agents the effort would cost $60,000.

Stahl, holding Epstein’s 1989 book “A Woman’s Guide to the Get Process,” called Gribko’s opening statement an “interesting and compelling story,” but not evidence against Epstein.

Stahl argued that Epstein is simply good at advocating for women and that his reputation is “that he can convince these husbands to go give their wives a get.” Stahl didn’t dispute that “some laws may have been broken along the way,” but said that did not include kidnapping.

Because the man has written the book on the “Get Process” he is guilty of federal crimes? (Maybe especially if said creed is focused on women’s rights?) So far it doesn’t sound as if Epstein has admitted to orchestrating any tortuous means of getting husbands to agree to a divorce; he is only guilty of stating what a cattle prod applied to a sensitive area can do. Even that is a bit ambiguous. We can all imagine what a cattle prod would do, but that doesn’t mean that Epstein isn’t imagining what a cattle prod could do, as opposed to admitting that he used a cattle prod on some man’s sensitive anatomy. I can imagine the effect of applying a cattle prod to a genital region, and I could probably explain my imaginings, too, but that doesn’t mean I have ever even handled a cattle prod, much less used one to determine its capabilities.

Before we all begin sobbing in sympathy under the imagined concept of some poor hapless husband minding  his own business until he has a cattle prod attached to his penis by a rabbinical team intent on getting him to forcibly divorce his wife, let’s look at what a “get” truly is, at least according to Wikipedia:

A get (/ɡɛt/; Hebrew: גט‎, plural gittinגיטין) is a divorcedocument in Jewish religious law, which must be presented by a husband to his wife to effect their divorce. The essential part of the get is very short; the text is “You are hereby permitted to all men”, which means that the wife is no longer a married woman and that the laws of adultery no longer apply. The get also returns to the wife the legal rights that a husband holds in regard to her in a Jewish marriage.

In order for a woman to get a divorce under Jewish religious rules, she has to get her husband to allow her to be “permitted to all men”??? Apparently so. Wikipedia doesn’t link this definition to an exact source that is valid, beyond news articles, but apparently according to news articles, Jewish men are holding their wives “hostage,”by not allowing them to “get” a divorce.

From a Jewish-based newspaper, there are claims of women who are not allowed a “get” by their ex-husbands, because said husbands or ex-husbands have a means to exert control. These aren’t situations in which the men are guilty of simply forgetting to sign on the dotted line:

A recent study of unresolved divorce cases over the past two years in the Chief Rabbinate shows that some 180 women are “chained” to their husbands, while a slightly higher amount of men are “chained” to their wives.

Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, the Director-General of the Rabbinical Courts, says this shows that “the claims by women’s organizations of thousands of women whose husbands refuse to give them divorces have no basis in reality.”

In addition, the numbers show that men are slightly more likely than women to fall victim to “divorce blackmail” by their spouse.

A spouse becomes “chained” when the divorce proceedings have ended, yet his or her spouse refuses to agree to the divorce.  A woman suffers more in this situation, as she is Biblically forbidden to marry again, and children she might bear to another man would be considered bastards according to Halakhah [Jewish Law].  A man is similarly not permitted to marry before being divorced, but the ban is much less severe, and in any event his future children will not be considered illegitimate.

The Rabbinate considered the 942 divorce cases that were opened before 2005 and were still unresolved by the end of 2006 – a fraction of the cases that were opened during the period in question.  Some 16,000 divorce proceedings are begun each year.

Specifically, the review analyzed nearly 350 of the unresolved cases – but which were active in 2005 – and came up with the following numbers: Some 19% remain open because the husband refuses to grant a divorce, while about 20% are open because of the wife’s refusal.

What a wicked web we weave when men try to control how women conceive. Note that the cases that the religious group reviewed were specifically selected, only 350 cases out of 16,000 divorce cases filed, and the cases reviewed were only 350 OF the unresolved cases, or in other words, the cases reviewed were only a fraction of the total number of unresolved divorce cases. It’s probable that the religious investigation consisted of hand selecting and equal number of contested divorce cases and presenting them to the media to make it seem as if women were the real problem–notice that the full number of unresolved divorce cases was not released. The rabbinical group only released an exactly equal number of contested divorces, not the total number of divorce cases, so the extent this problem presents for women has never been fully disclosed.

Now, men who refuse to relinquish sexual “rights” to their wives are suddenly being forced into granting freedoms to their partners by criminal means? Isn’t it illegal to extort someone to sign or break a contract? So, isn’t it illegal to continue to force women to maintain a contract they have wish to break, particularly when it comes to their own sexuality? Does that make it illegal for a rabbi to say that pushing men to grant their wives or ex-wives sexual freedom, according to religious custom, is a violation of criminal law?

Let’s not muddy the waters here with discussion of “men are victims, too” b.s. here, because we aren’t talking about men being victims of not getting their sexual freedoms reversed under religious law–we are talking about women’s sexual rights. Men’s progeny are not impacted by a “get”–women’s progeny are. It’s not about the men. And, should all this seem too Middle Ages to be relevant today, consider that laws have just been rewritten to allow sanctions to be applied to such husbands who won’t agree to a divorce, albeit agreed to be applied equally, but written to address just this problem that the prosecutorial team in the rabbi case claims is not a real problem:

The Knesset, at the end of its recent session this summer, voted into law a bill that allows Rabbinical courts to impose sanctions on spouses who refuse to grant a divorce.  Seri said he welcomes the law, “but only if it is imposed bilaterally, and not only on husbands.”

The law authorizes the courts to issue restraining orders to recalcitrant spouses – orders that can forbid him/her to leave the country, hold a driver’s license or bank account, or even, in some cases, to hold a job.  The courts can even, in extreme cases, order his or her incarceration or, if he/she is already in prison, their isolation.  The sanctions can also include the confiscation of monies and property, as well as the full or partial negation ofpayments and stipends.

“The bill is designed to force a divorce in cases where the Court has decided that one must be issued,” said MK Zevulun Orlev (NRP), who sponsored it together with Likud MK Gideon Saar.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg Says She Experiences Sexism Says It’s “The Best And The Hardest Job”

February 19, 2015

The Notorious RBG, Federal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg admits that she has experienced, and still continues to experience sexism. Watch, in this clip below, the way in which Justice Ginsburg discusses “the bet and hardest job” she has ever had. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg discusses how many barriers women faced in the 1970’s and the goals of allowing women to break those barriers. This is the interview in which Justice Ginsburg discusses the “unconscious bias” that women face (also referenced in my past blog post). This is from an excerpt from the Rachel Maddow Show, a version of the same interview from the clip above.

The Notorious RBG Speaks: Gender Discrimination Is the “Unconscious Bias”

February 17, 2015

I love the way Federal Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg speaks about her feelings on gender discrimination, how she explains that early on in her career she felt that the “way things were” was her only option, but has since expanded her feelings on gender discrimination to realize that change can happen.

Asked if she had gotten more radical with age, Ginsburg told msnbc, “My aspirations have not changed since the ’70s.” She is steadfast, she said, in “my hope for our society that we’re going to use the talent of all of the people and not just half of them. I would contrast an earlier period in my life, when I just accepted discrimination as that’s the way things are, nothing I can do about it.”

Now, Ginsburg said, “I try to teach through my opinions, through my speeches – how wrong it is to judge people on the basis of what they look like, [the] color of their skin, whether they’re men or women.”

It’s a wonderful message for those of us despairing of having gender discrimination overturned, and it’s one we need to hear. Noting how far we have come since RBG first began practicing law makes me proud to see that there are people at the top of America’s justice system that really do stand for equal rights. Scalia appears to stand for equal rights only if equal rights apply to white men. Roberts appears to be the type of man who believes there are two kinds of people in this world: those whom he feels belong in a hood or a noose. Clarence Thomas seems to speak not with his mouth but with his hands when it comes to women’s rights.  Sotomayor doesn’t speak much at all. Kagan hasn’t seemed to find her voice fully, and so it is with great pleasure that I listen to Ginsburg.

Ginsburg admits that not all bias is open and explicit.

Through her litigation with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project in the 1970s, Ginsburg famously helped topple laws that blatantly discriminated on the basis of gender.

“That job was an important first step,” she said of her generation’s work. “What’s left, what’s still with us and harder to deal with is what I call unconscious bias.”

 

I agree that there is unconscious bias in gender discrimination; however, the Male Federal Supreme Court Justices have shown open signs of gender discrimination. It’s not unconscious for them, but is unconscious for many people in our society. Hair color advertisers have picked up on this, how many women apologize before speaking: “I’m sorry to interrupt, but…” Why be sorry? Why be sorry for speaking the mind?

RBG, I am glad you don’t apologize for standing up for women. I am glad you continue to hold firm against the bigots with whom you have had to work for years–I can’t imagine that pressure on a daily basis. A big thank you to the Notorious RBG, especially for noticing the unconscious bias and for standing against it, every single day. Thank you.

The Notorious RBG Talks About Gay Marriage

February 12, 2015

Hooray, the gay marriage issue is going before the Supreme Court of the United States, and to listen to the Notorious RBG (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, to the uninitiated), the American public is ready to allow gay marriage, whether the other “justices” are is not up for discussion. Below is a video clip of my favorite woman in the world discussing the issue of gay marriage and its changing norms in regards to the American public.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-12/ginsburg-says-u-s-ready-to-accept-ruling-approving-gay-marriage-i61z6gq2?cmpid=yhoo

I worry about whether or not the other bigots on the Supreme Court are going to argue nonsense about marriage being about procreation, or how no one has any rights except the white male, but we can hope that the Supreme Court decides this issue on civil rights in awarding the right to marriage to a couple regardless of their sexual orientation. It’s such a small thing to identify a relationships between two people, but it’s very difficult for those on the right to acknowledge that we do need to acknowledge, even if not everyone agrees.

Antibiotic Resistant Bugs Clobbered By Essential Oils

February 4, 2015

It’s such a new field of study that scientists say they “don’t know how it works…” It’s also such an alternative field of study that scientists aren’t sure how this works, but essential oils, herbal oils, help kill bacteria in a manner that approaches the effectiveness of antibiotics. It’s a well-known fact that farm animals in the US consume about 80% of the antibiotics used in this country. That means that only 20% of the antibiotics consumed are used by humans to treat infections. Bacteria are very very old organisms and have been found to be capable of becoming resistant to antibiotics, causing humans to suffer when our treatment options in hospitals run out. People still die from bacterial infections, as do animals.

These bacteria that are resistant to current antibiotics are called “superbugs,” and they have an ability to spread rapidly. Some advocates urge that antibiotics not be used on animals at all, to save antibiotics for human use. This isn’t a rational approach as sick animals can spread bacteria to people to make them sick; however, it’s the use of antibiotics to cause weight gains for meat markets, bypassing the need to feed an animal more, thereby saving on feed costs, that causes the most problems. The animals grown in feed lots are given antibiotics instead of food so that farmers won’t have to pay for feed and thereby make more money when selling animals by the pound for meat. It’s a gross idea that we are eating more antibiotics rather than feedstuff when consuming these animals, but that’s the idea behind it.

There is also the idea that these animals grown in feed lots are sicker, much sicker than pastured animals and therefore need antibiotics instead of food. Gross idea as well, any concept of trading animal feed for antibiotics; however, there is a way to treat infections in livestock without resorting to antibiotics: give the animals herbs or essential oils. In an article published in Business Insider, it makes more sense to give animals herbal extracts than it does antibiotics, and even though scientists aren’t sure how it works, it does work:

One of their studies, published in October 2014 in the journal Poultry Science, found that chickens who consumed feed with added oregano oil had a 59 percent lower mortality rate due to ascites, a common infection in poultry, than untreated chickens.

Other research, from a 2011 issue of BMC Proceedings, showed that adding a combination of plant extracts — from oregano, cinnamon, and chili peppers—actually changed the gene expression of treated chickens, resulting in weight gain as well as protection against an injected intestinal infection.

A 2010 study from Poultry Science produced similar findings with the use of extracts from turmeric, chili pepper, and shiitake mushrooms. A multi-year study is currently underway at the USDA that includes investigations into the use of citrus peels and essential oils as drug alternatives.

Researchers have also directly compared the effects of commonly used antibiotics with those of various essential oils. One such study, from the March 2012 issue of the Journal of Animal Science, found that rosemary and oregano oils resulted in the same amount of growth in chickens as the antibiotic avilamycin, and that the oils killed bacteria, too.

Additional findings have shown that essential oils help reduce salmonella in chickens, and another study found that a blend of several oils can limit the spread of salmonella among animals. One of the co-authors of that study, Dr. Charles Hofacre, a professor at the University of Georgia’s College of Veterinary Medicine, says it’s such a new area of research that they don’t yet know exactly how the essential oils work, but “there is some strong evidence that they are functioning by both an antibacterial action in the intestine and also some have an effect to stimulate the intestinal cells ability to recover from disease more quickly — either by local immunity or helping keep the intestinal cells themselves healthier.”

It’s a promising finding, and it’s one that seems to be largely ignored so far by the pharmaceutical industry, which would most likely protest such findings. How much money does the pharmaceutical industry make from farm producers if farmers use 80% of the products big pharma manufactures? Big money is at stake here, and while flying under the radar keeps these studies from being retracted, it also prevents small family farmers from making use of what science has to offer, namely herbal medicine helping the small farmer more than big pharma does. It’s not a surprise, really, that giving birds plant extracts helps them recover from illness faster than feeding them antibiotics continuously; birds, after all, do consume a large number of plants naturally. If given the choice, chickens prefer fresh grass and greens to pelleted feed.

Use of herbal extracts formed the first type of medicine humans utilized. Cave men have been found to carry herbal remedies in their bags when their skeletons have been unearthed. Why would something so old, the use of herbal medicines, not be further investigated? Turns out other countries are way ahead of the US in investigating herbal medicines and have found essential oils to be extremely helpful to humans:

An Italian study found that a combination of thyme and clove essential oils was just as effective in treating bacterial vaginosis as the usual antibiotic treatment, and results of a study by U.S. researchers show that staph-infected wounds healed faster when they were treated with vapors of tea-tree oil than with conventional methods.

Research published in December 2013 reported that a hand gel made with lemongrass oil was effective in reducing MRSA on the skin of human volunteers, and previous research has shown that a cleanser made with tea-tree oil clears MRSA from the skin as effectively as the standard treatments to which bacteria appear to be developing resistance. This type of simple, inexpensive fix — an essential-oil-based hand sanitizer — could be a major boost to hospitals, in particular, since MRSA infections are so common in healthcare settings.

In the lab, scientists have been testing all kinds of combinations of essential oils and antibiotics, and they’re repeatedly finding that the oils — used on their own and in combination with some common antibiotics — can fight numerous pathogens, including antibiotic-resistant strains of E. coliStaphylococcus aureus (which causes staph infection), and other common types of bacteria.

Perhaps it’s time to look beyond big pharma and pay attention to some of the elements of nature that kept the human race alive for thousands of years. These kinds of studies haven’t been paid for by big pharma, but they are necessary to helping to preserve human life, as doctors can attest.

“Such investment is not likely to come from the mainstream pharmaceutical industry, which has not placed much emphasis on antibiotic development for a number of reasons, including the excessive cost in bringing a single drug to market without a commensurate return,” says Dr. Nicole M. Parrish, associate professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and associate director of medical mycobacteriology at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, who co-authored a recent review on the potential use of essential oils as alternatives or supplements to antibiotics.

She says the situation is urgent: When she and her colleagues perform testing to determine the appropriate medication for a patient, they often find that there are no longer any effective antibiotics in existence to treat the bacteria in question.

“We feel helpless in the face of this growing threat, and the answer as to why we have not made more progress on this front is simple: economics. Unfortunately, the ‘specter’ of monetary gain overshadows the perspective from ‘the trenches.’”

She says that essential oils contain some of the most potent antimicrobial compounds available, and that furthering our understanding of them may lead to the development of entirely new classes of drugs. “Let us all hope the prevailing wind changes to move this field of research forward,” she says.

One farmer who has successfully used an antibiotic-free approach says that the antibiotics are often used to compensate for a dirty environment. Again, antibiotics as compensation for failing to provide adequate feed and clean housing. But, here’s the kicker, the antibiotic-free regimen works:

“We started with a breed of chicken that wasn’t raised to be stressed and overfed and to live in sanitary conditions,” he says. They also feed the chickens high-quality grains enhanced with essential oils, and they avoid the use of toxic chemicals like hexane, which is commonly used by other farmers in processing their feed. “With our chicken breed, housing environment, and feeding program, we’re able to promote healthy gut bacteria — we use oregano oil to kill the bad bacteria and cinnamon oil to support the good bacteria.”

He says his model works for him because he’s not trying to correct a problem that’s already out of control. Some farmers need more powerful weapons because they’re trying to compensate for ongoing problems caused by improper cleaning practices and unsanitary living conditions.

They might put baby chickens on the remnants of manure from previous flocks because they don’t properly clean out the barn first, and then they may use chlorine to wash the processed chickens. Whatever bacteria (and antibiotics) that aren’t left at the chicken plant end up on plates. On Sechler’s farms, he says he doesn’t allow these problems to get out of hand in the first place.

“You can’t just introduce essential oils into a bad environment and expect magic — they don’t fix a screw-up,” he says. “But if you meet them halfway by doing things right, they will carry you across the finish line.” People warned him that the bacteria would become resistant to the essential oils, too, but they haven’t yet, and his farms processed over 50 million chickens last year.

Fifty million chickens, sounds like enough to demonstrate that essential oils work. Finally, some hope in the fight against antibiotic resistant superbugs. Herbal extracts, the oldest form of medicine…no school like the old school.

I Want To Go To This High School: Maceo Smith New Tech High School – Uptown Funk Dance

January 30, 2015

This teacher’s dance skills are incredible. He also seems to have a rapport with this students that is palpable. I want to go to this high school. There were no dancers like this where I went, but it’s worth a watch for all of you dreaming of dancing through school:

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