Hawaii passes trans employment protections

From The Washington Blade:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2011/04/19/hawaii-passes-trans-employment-protections/

Staff reports | Apr 19, 2011

HONOLULU — The Hawaii state House of Representatives today passed a bill that would protect  employment discrimination on the basis of gender identity, several media outlets have reported.

The Senate had previously approved the legislation. The governor has indicated he will sign it.

HB 546 Sd1 passed in the House 45-4 with two absences.

“Today is a great day for all residents of Hawaii,” said Alan Spector, Equality Hawaii co-chair in a statement.  “Providing employment protections to transgender people in Hawaii is a victory for civil rights.  The people of this state should be judged on the quality of work they do and not on who they are — that’s what this legislation guarantees.”

Hawaii law already codified protections for transgender people in housing and public accommodations, and prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment, housing and public accommodations.

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Nevada: Assembly passes transgender discrimination bill

From The Las Vegas Review-Journal:  http://www.lvrj.com/news/nevada-assembly-passes-transgender-discrimination-bill-120127269.html

By Ed Vogel

Posted: Apr. 18, 2011
Updated: Apr. 19, 2011

CARSON CITY — In a monumental vote for one of the state’s least-known minorities, the state Assembly Monday backed a bill that would outlaw job discrimination against transgender people.

Members voted 29-13 for Assembly Bill 211, which would prevent discriminating against people based on their gender identity or expression.

All 26 Democrats backed the bill, with three of the 16 Republicans: John Hambrick of Las Vegas, Ed Goedhart of Amargosa Valley and Kelly Kite of Minden.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where supporters think they have the votes to pass the bill. Gov. Brian Sandoval hasn’t given an indication whether he will sign it.

The bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Paul Aizley, D-Las Vegas, said transgender people testified they often are denied jobs because of how they look. There are 25,000 transgender people in Nevada.

There are three other bills on transgender rights coming up for votes in the Senate. One would abolish discrimination in public accommodations, and another would abolish discrimination in housing. The last would make crimes against transgender people hate crimes subject to longer prison sentences.

Activists were pleased with the passage.

Continue reading at:  http://www.lvrj.com/news/nevada-assembly-passes-transgender-discrimination-bill-120127269.html

Songs of Humpback Whales

Back in the 1970s I use to have an album, “Songs of the Humpback Whale”.

I was an Eco-hippie and tree hugger even then and reading about the whales as well as going to see them off the coast of Cali caused me to think we should stop killing them.

Here were intelligent beings that lived in families that we had no need to kill yet were hunting to extinction.

Many consider my philosophy of placing a higher value on keeping species of animals from extinction than I place on killing them to help increase the human population to be misguided.

I think that humans should start realizing that it is in our interests to decrease the human population through limiting reproduction.  The alternative is too frightening to imagine.

From today’s Science Section of The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/19/science/19profile.html?_r=1&ref=science

Whales’ Grandeur and Grace, Up Close

Published: April 18, 2011

On a warm summer afternoon in 2005, Bryant Austin was snorkeling in the blue waters of the South Pacific by the islands of Tonga, looking through his camera at a humpback whale and her calf swimming less than 50 yards away. As he waited for the right moment, the playful calf swam right up to him, so close that he had to lower his camera. That’s when he felt a gentle tap on his shoulder.

Turning around, Mr. Austin found himself looking straight into the eye of the mother whale, her body bigger than a school bus. The tap had come from her pectoral fin, weighing more than a ton. To Mr. Austin, her gesture was an unmistakable warning that he had gotten too close to the calf. And yet, the mother whale had extended her fin with such precision and grace — to touch the photographer without hurting him — that Mr. Austin was in awe of her “delicate restraint.”

Looking into the whale’s eye, lit by sunlight through the water, Austin felt he was getting a glimpse of calmness and intelligence, of the animal’s consciousness. The moment changed Mr. Austin’s life. It struck him that something was missing from four decades of whale photography: the beauty of true scale. Mr. Austin concluded that the only way to capture the magnificence of whales would be to create life-size pictures of them. “I wanted to recreate the feeling I had when I looked into the eye of the mother whale,” he said.

Mr. Austin has since pursued that dream, spending countless hours at sea in the company of whales. Working with five different whales from three species, he has created 25 true-scale pictures, including two full portraits — each composed from dozens of photographs of different sections of the whale’s body. The largest photo is a 6-by-30-foot portrait of a dwarf Minke whale from the Great Barrier Reef in Australia; the panels that make up the image weigh a total of 600 pounds. Some of Mr. Austin’s work went on display this month at the Electric Works gallery in San Francisco.

Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/19/science/19profile.html?_r=1&ref=science

Also from today’s Science Section of The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/19/science/19obwhale.html?ref=science

A Recording Studio Found Under the Pacific

Published: April 18, 2011

Humpback whales not only sing, they imitate the singing of other whales. And some of their tunes turn into worldwide hits, with whales all over the Pacific Ocean picking them up.

Several genetically different groups of humpbacks, separate populations with little interchange among them, live in the South Pacific. Researchers recorded 11 different song types in the region from 1998 to 2008.

Their study, published online Thursday in Current Biology, found that each year, songs spread from one group to another, moving east from Australia to French Polynesia. They believe that this is the first observation of a cultural change transmitted repeatedly on such a large geographic scale.

Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/19/science/19obwhale.html?ref=science

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Vaginal weakening can affect transsexuals as well

From Reuters:  http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/12/us-vaginal-weakening-can-affect-transsex-idUSTRE73B6KV20110412

By Leigh Krietsch Boerner

NEW YORK | Tue Apr 12, 2011 3:33pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Years after transgender surgery, transsexuals can suffer from vaginal prolapse, where muscles around the vagina weaken and neighboring organs bulge in, a Swiss study says.

The condition affects as many as half of women older than 50 who’ve given birth, but it also occurred in 4 of the 55 transsexuals who participated in the study, according to the paper in Fertility and Sterility.

“Professionals who look after transsexual patients should well be aware that this health problem involving bladder, bowel and sexual function as well as quality of life may trouble their patients,” co-author Dr. Annette Kuhn, a gynecologist at the University of Berne, told Reuters Health by email.

There have been very few studies on the risks of transsexual surgery, the researchers say. This is the first on prolapse in transsexuals.

“If you think of the vagina like a sock, (prolapse is) like the toe of the sock coming down through the opening,” said Dr. Tyler Muffly, who’s completing a fellowship in obstetrics and gynecology at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland Ohio.

Women are at risk for prolapse if they “have done heavy lifting or have a constipation issue,” Muffly, who did not work on the study, told Reuters Health. “Also, childbirth is a major risk factor.”

The researchers had 55 transsexual patients fill out a survey on urinary and bowel symptoms that have to do with vaginal prolapse. They also performed pelvic examinations on all the patients. The average age of the patients in the study was 57, and the average amount of time since their sex reassignment surgery was 16 years.

Four of them had vaginal prolapse.

Continue reading at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/04/12/us-vaginal-weakening-can-affect-transsex-idUSTRE73B6KV20110412

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“We Won’t Go Back” featuring Lisa Edelstein

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Worshiping the Sacred Pig

From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/04/19-14

by John Feffer
Published on Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Washington is a slaughterhouse these days, as politicians from across the political spectrum take their knives to the budget. Going under the blade are dozens of social programs that provide food for low-income women and children, energy assistance to folks who can’t pay their heating bills, and health care provided through community centers.

In its luxury pen, meanwhile, the sacred pig grows fatter and fatter. To relax the beast, our politicians give the monstrous thing periodic hand massages, like the Japanese do to their legendary Kobe beef cows. As a result, the sacred pig is well-marbled with fat. It is content and happy, and when it outgrows its enclosure, the government simply builds it a newer, grander, and ever bigger facility. But as soon as someone, anyone, approaches the pen with a sharp implement, sirens go off and the assailant is apprehended.

The Pentagon pig is off-limits. We’ve designed an entire religion around its untouchability. When the U.S. government nearly shut down over the 2011 budget, both parties agreed to exempt the Pentagon from a spending freeze and actually added $5 billion over last year’s base budget. For the 2012 budget, the Pentagon is looking at a free ride as well, with its base budget projected to increase 15 percent by 2016.

President Obama, last week during his address on the budget crisis at George Washington University, seemingly broke the taboo. Approaching the sacred Pentagon pig with a sharp object behind his back, the president promised to cut $400 billion in national security spending. The alarm bells went off as Obama issued his threat. He pulled the sharp implement from behind his back to reveal…a nail file.

The pig doesn’t really have any reason to worry. The president, you see, has promised to cut that money over a 12-year period. “These proposed cuts would come from an overall national security budget of approximately $1 trillion a year — which [also] includes portions of the budgets of Homeland Security, the State Department, intelligence services, and others,” I write in a Christian Science Monitor op-ed. “So in effect, the president is proposing only around a three percent cut, which still lets the Pentagon off easy.” Compare the proposed $33 billion annual reduction to the $70 billion the Government Accountability Office reports in Pentagon waste .

The United States is the biggest culprit behind global military spending. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute announced last week that the world hit a new and dubious record: $1.63 trillion in global military expenditures.

Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/04/19-14

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The IMF and World Bank Creating Crises