At Michigan State University, Rapists Get Off, While Anti-Rape Students Get Arrested and Fined

From Change.Org: http://news.change.org/stories/at-msu-rapists-get-off-while-anti-rape-students-get-arrested-and-fined

by Alex DiBranco
April 29, 2011

Megan Spencer and three fellow students now all have criminal records, thanks to Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon. What did they do? Stay past 6 p.m. at a peaceful teach-in about sexual violence at Michigan State University in response to the Administration’s failure to address rape allegations against two star basketball players. At MSU, the rapists get off scot-free, while students peacefully protesting campus rape culture get arrested, charged, and fined.

“This is a really unfair standard to punish students who were protesting rape and not students who commit rape,” said Spencer, a leader of the MSU Coalition Against Sexual Violence, a group of students formed last fall in response to a shocking incident in which two students athletes were accused of rape, with one corroborating the victim’s testimony to police — yet never faced any consequences. The Coalition of concerned students came together with nine demands to improve sexual violence on campus, demands over 1000 Change.org members have signed their petition in support of.

After rallies and protests, the Coalition succeeded in securing a couple of meetings with MSU’s Vice President and Title IX coordinator. But never the president. President Simon apparently doesn’t consider campus sexual violence an issue worthy of her time, although there have been dozens of reported rapes in the past two years and not a single perpetrator suspended or expelled. While some improvements have come out of these meetings, the Coalition continues to fight for the implementation of all their demands, especially disciplinary proceedings against the alleged rapists and a public statement from President Simon denouncing sexual violence.

“We were claiming space on campus because women have such limited action to space,” Spencer explained to Change.org regarding the March sit-in. “We also were sitting there and we were talking about rape myths, and we were talking about consent, and student were sharing poetry and they were talking about their experiences, and it was a very positive and productive atmosphere.” But the Administration building they had occupied was closing at 6 p.m. and police told them that they would be arrested — unless President Simon gave them permission to remain.

She didn’t. “Basically the police admitted to it, that she gave the go-ahead on the phone, and the Vice President basically admitted to it.” Spencer and the other students tried to negotiate a reasonable solution, to continue their productive discussion and symbolic act without undue disruption, promising to be out of the building in the morning before anyone arrived at work. But within about 15 minutes, she and the three students who remained were arrested and charged with trespassing.

Continue reading at:  http://news.change.org/stories/at-msu-rapists-get-off-while-anti-rape-students-get-arrested-and-fined

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White House to host first ever trans meeting

From The Washington Blade:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2011/04/27/white-house-to-host-first-ever-trans-meeting/

By Chris Johnson
April 27, 2011

Transgender activists intend to discuss federal policy issues at an upcoming White House meeting that will be the first ever held by the Office of Public Engagement to focus solely on trans issues.

Shin Inouye, a White House spokesperson, said the meeting, which is set to take place Friday at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, will include transgender leaders who work on federal policy.

“OPE routinely holds meetings with various stakeholders to discuss various policy issues,” Inouye said. “Friday’s meeting, like most OPE meetings, will be closed press and off the record.”

Additionally, Inouye said the meeting will be the first ever for the Office of Public Engagement where transgender issues are the sole focus of discussion.

“While transgender issues have been covered in previous OPE meetings, and transgender leaders have been included in other OPE meetings, this would be the first time OPE has held a meeting solely focused on transgender issues,” Inouye said.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said she plans to attend the meeting.

“This is the first president who has allowed trans people — really allowed LGBT people — to bring forward problems and then advocate for them,” Keisling said. “In the Bush administration, we couldn’t even do that. They wouldn’t even listen to us. They didn’t care what our problems were. In fact, they were making most of our problems.”

Michael Silverman, executive director for the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, said his organization wasn’t invited to the meeting, but added having the first Office of Public Engagement meeting to focus on transgender issues is “tremendously significant.”

“There was concern at the start that this was a quote-unquote secret meeting and [the fact] that the White House is speaking about it publicly demonstrates there is a commitment to meeting with transgender people and to addressing their needs,” Silverman said.

Inouye deferred to the White House visitor’s access records release process for information on which transgender activists will be in attendance. Informed sources said the National Center for Transgender Equality will form the basis of attendees at the meeting.

Continue reading at:   http://www.washingtonblade.com/2011/04/27/white-house-to-host-first-ever-trans-meeting/

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Canadian Elections

I so often look at Canada as a much kinder and gentler version of the US.

I forget that they too have right wingers and are engaged in senseless wars at great economic cost to their nation.

I was kind of stoked when they issued a no confidence vote on their conservatives, even though having to go through elections messed with some trans-friendly measures that were in the legislative works.

Here’s a couple of recent stories related to the elections.

Canada’s massive military budget is off the table in federal election

From Rabble.Ca: http://rabble.ca/news/2011/04/canadas-massive-military-budget-table-federal-election

By Matthew Behrens
April 26, 2011

Among many substantive issues not discussed during campaign 2011 is the $23 billion Canada now spends on war, a massive investment that all three major federal parties will maintain if elected.

Add in the ongoing costs of the Afghanistan war plus undisclosed funding for Canada’s bombardment of Libya (well over 200 aerial bombing runs and aerial “sorties” to date), and the $23 billion figure may run higher.

To put this in perspective, slightly more than $63 million a day is spent on Canada’s war machine. That’s the daily equivalent of 420 affordable housing units or 3,000 four-year full-tuition grants for university students. Over the course of a month, that’s 13,000 affordable housing units and 90,000 students going to university without massive debt load.

It is in this context that politicians preaching fiscal restraint and support for burdened families continue proffering blind allegiance to a well-funded institution whose leadership, past and present, has always been clear: in the words of former General Rick Hillier, their role is to kill people.

While many young people join the military because they believe they’re contributing to society (in addition to those who simply need the income or an education), there are other ways for them to live out those aspirations without having to pick up a gun and face the choice of killing or being killed.

But those other choices are not part of the dominant parties’ platforms. (By contrast, the Green Party would reduce war spending to the then historically high 2005 levels, the Bloc has criticized high war spending but is not specific in its plans, and the Communist Party would reduce military spending by 75 per cent).

In the case of the NDP, it’s likely that many supporters are unaware of their party’s willingness to choose guns over butter. After all, the NDP is traditionally seen as the place where anti-war activists park their vote, and the strongest anti-war statements usually come from its MPs, who often speak at peace rallies. But most NDP MPs have long accepted the framework of ever increasing amounts of war funding.

Continue reading at: http://rabble.ca/news/2011/04/canadas-massive-military-budget-table-federal-election

Canada vote dominated by left-leaning third-party surge

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/04/29/canada-vote-dominated-by-left-leaning-third-party-surge/

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, April 29th, 2011

OTTAWA — A third-party surge has unsettled the status quo as Canada prepares to go to the polls on Monday, with Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper seeking an ever-elusive majority government.

The run-up to Canada’s fourth election in seven years has been dominated by speculation over how the surging support in opinion polls for the left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP) will play out.

Harper and the Tories failed to earn an overall majority in both the 2006 and 2008 elections, leaving themselves prey to opposition parties bringing the government down, as on this occasion, with a vote of no confidence.

The Conservatives lead all three main opposition parties in pre-election surveys but remain shy of the support needed to win a majority of seats in parliament.

“The most reasonable assumption at the moment is that the Conservatives will win another minority government,” Jon Pammett, a politics professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, told AFP.

“But it’s not clear how long another Harper (minority) government will last because he seems to have ruled out working with the other parties.”

Harper himself has warned that a second-place NDP could form a coalition with the Liberals to seize power if the Conservatives fail to win a majority of the 308 seats in parliament.

But analysts are skeptical that the NDP’s stunning rise in the polls will translate into a projected tripling of seats from 36 prior to the dissolution of parliament, to leapfrog the Liberals and the separatist Bloc Quebecois.
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Ultra Right Wing Republican Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels To Sign Bill Defunding Planned Parenthood Into Law

From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/29/mitch-daniels-planned-parenthood_n_855731.html?fbwall

By DEANNA MARTIN
04/29/11

NDIANAPOLIS — Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels plans to sign a bill that will restrict abortions and make Indiana the first state to cut off all government funding for Planned Parenthood.

The move is likely to beef up his credentials among social conservatives as he considers a 2012 presidential run.

Daniels said Friday that he’s supported the abortion restrictions from the outset and the provision added to defund Planned Parenthood didn’t change his mind. Daniels says women’s health, family planning and other services will remain available.

The move puts at risk $4 million a year in federal family planning grants likely to be cut off because of the bill. The legislation also would ban would abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy unless there’s a substantial threat to the woman’s life or health.

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Cal Beisner: Tornadoes Are A Taste Of God’s Judgment

You just knew you could count on some shit for brains Christo-Nazi to start babbling about how the tornadoes were God’s Punishment for not abusing LGBT/T people enough.

How come none of them ever link “God’s Punishment” to the catastrophe having just wiped out the homes of a bunch of misogynistic, LGBT/T hating, racist bigots and come to a different conclusion? That is to say that maybe magic invisible Sky Daddy is a liberal who hates racist, misogynistic bigots.

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Anti-Transsexual Marriage Bill In Texas

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Louisiana Lawmaker Proposes “the Country’s Most Extreme Anti-Abortion Measure”

From The National Women’s Law Center: http://www.nwlc.org/our-blog/louisiana-lawmaker-proposes-countrys-most-extreme-anti-abortion-measure

Posted by: Danielle Jackson, Online Outreach Assistant
April 29, 2011

There’s been a lot of news this week about various attacks on reproductive health and women who seek abortions at the state level, and we’ve got some news from Louisiana that is among the worst.

Louisiana Republican State Rep. John LaBruzzo – a man who calls himself “unapologetically pro-life” – recently introduced what is being called “the country’s most extreme anti-abortion measure”: a complete ban on all abortions in Louisiana with no exceptions for cases of rape or incest or when the life of the woman is threatened. He claims to be pro-life, but I guess women’s lives don’t count. It would charge all women who seek abortions as well as the doctors who provide them with “feticide,” which could lead to a 15-year maximum jail sentence with hard labor. LaBruzzo has since claimed that the feticide language in the current draft of the bill wasn’t mean to apply to the women who obtain abortions, just the doctors who provide them, and went on to elaborate further, saying:

“That will be amended out before it is heard in committee. That is a mis-draft; that is not acceptable to me. That would make it too difficult to pass, otherwise.”

Can I just note that it wasn’t a “mis-draft” for being a ridiculous and over-reaching provision on abortion services that would endanger women’s lives and health, but because it would make his bill too difficult to pass? You might wonder exactly how LaBruzzo expects this bill to pass – after all, even after he addresses the “mis-draft,” his bill would still call for jail time for doctors who provide a constitutionally protected medical service.

Continue reading at: http://www.nwlc.org/our-blog/louisiana-lawmaker-proposes-countrys-most-extreme-anti-abortion-measure

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