Ashley Love’s Letter to Marie Claire Magazine

Kudos to Ashley Love and all the energy she is putting forth over at Transforming Media.  She has become a very positive voice for the affirmation of transsexual women and men.  Her assertions of our differences from transgender people and the savvy she is showing in organizing both women of a transsexual history and men of transsexual history make her an activist to be reckoned with.

For too long transsexual people have been erased by the Transgender Borg Collective.

The Following is from Transforming Media:

AN OPEN LETTER to Marie Claire magazine:

Dear Marie Claire,

I am an organizer with MAGNET- Media Advocates Giving National Equality to Transsexual & Transgender People, an anti-defamation and media advocacy group. Yesterday I read the article in your magazine about Janet Mock’s courageous choice to disclose her transsexual medical history to fulfill her passion to help people who are going through what she went through. This woman is a breath of fresh air on so many levels. Not only is she a successful professional, glowing with beauty and authentic spirit, and a role model that squashes tired stereotypes, but she is giving voice to the transsexual medical condition in a country whose gay (not transsexual) establishment is trying to alienate all people born transsexual onto a “transgender reservation” against their will.

I want to thank Marie Claire Magazine for accurately labeling Janet as a woman of transsexual experience in your marketing text, instead of problematically calling her transgender. For you see, transgender is a sociopolitical term which is reserved for people who do not conform to gender, such as drag queens/kings, cross dressing and transvestite males, gender queer activists or gender non-conforming people who identify with their physical sex. Janet is absolutely none of these things. She is a heterosexual woman who was born with a medical condition; she is NOT a stage act or fetishist.

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Rapture Ready: The Science of Self Delusion

Perhaps the American Psychiatric Assn could remove GID from the DSM and make up the difference by creating a category for religious fundamentalists, Dominionists, and all the rest of the delusional religious true believers.

It won’t happen of course since religion is (pardon the play on words) a sacred cow and faith no matter how non-reality based is sacrosanct.

From Mother Jones Magazine:

Why Harold Camping’s flock won’t give up the faith.

— By Chris Mooney
May/June 2011

“A MAN WITH A CONVICTION is a hard man to change. Tell him you disagree and he turns away. Show him facts or figures and he questions your sources. Appeal to logic and he fails to see your point.” So wrote the celebrated Stanford University psychologist Leon Festinger (PDF), in a passage that might have been referring to climate change denial—the persistent rejection, on the part of so many Americans today, of what we know about global warming and its human causes. But it was too early for that—this was the 1950s—and Festinger was actually describing a famous case study in psychology.

Festinger and several of his colleagues had infiltrated the Seekers, a small Chicago-area cult whose members thought they were communicating with aliens—including one, “Sananda,” who they believed was the astral incarnation of Jesus Christ. The group was led by Dorothy Martin, a Dianetics devotee who transcribed the interstellar messages through automatic writing.

Through her, the aliens had given the precise date of an Earth-rending cataclysm: December 21, 1954. Some of Martin’s followers quit their jobs and sold their property, expecting to be rescued by a flying saucer when the continent split asunder and a new sea swallowed much of the United States. The disciples even went so far as to remove brassieres and rip zippers out of their trousers—the metal, they believed, would pose a danger on the spacecraft.

Festinger and his team were with the cult when the prophecy failed. First, the “boys upstairs” (as the aliens were sometimes called) did not show up and rescue the Seekers. Then December 21 arrived without incident. It was the moment Festinger had been waiting for: How would people so emotionally invested in a belief system react, now that it had been soundly refuted?

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From The Atlantic Wire:

The Sad Stories of Believers Disappointed by Non-Apocalypse

By Ujala Sehgal
May 22, 2011

If you hadn’t noticed, the world didn’t end yesterday, despite predictions by radio host Harold Camping, who spread the world via a multimillion dollar campaign, funded by donations from other believers. But while many were “celebrating” the Earth’s continued existence at “Rapture Parties,” for Camping’s believers, the noticeable lack of earthquakes, brimstone, famine, and death was deeply disappointing.

In New York, retired transportation agency worker Robert Fitzpatrick, who spent “over $140,000 of his savings on subway posters and outdoor advertisements,” stood in Times Square at 6 p.m., Reuters reports.

When the hour came and went, he said: “I do not understand why …,” as his speech broke off and he looked at his watch.

“I do not understand why nothing has happened.”

New York Magazine reports the story of Jeff, a Long Island firefighter, who ordered a pizza shortly before 5 p.m. on rush delivery, thinking he might not have time to eat it.

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Social Security Is Women’s Security

From The National Women’s Law Center:

Posted on May 20, 2011
Posted by:
Joan Entmacher, Vice President for Family Economic Security and Katherine Gallagher Robbins, Senior Policy Analyst

We’re delighted to participate in WOW’s blogging event in honor of Older Americans’ Month – and get a different conversation about Social Security started.

Women worry more than men about their retirement security – with good reason. They’re paid less than men. They do most of the unpaid care-giving. So they have less money when they reach retirement. On top of that, women live longer than men. So Social Security is especially important to women – and it matters for women all across the country. Social Security benefits are secure, adjusted for inflation, progressive (so low earners receive a higher percentage of their pre-retirement earnings than higher earners do) and they last a lifetime. Social Security benefits cover workers and their spouses, surviving spouses, and children.

Women are the majority of Social Security beneficiaries: nearly 60 percent of beneficiaries 65 and older and nearly 70 percent of beneficiaries 85 and older are women. In addition, women are more reliant than men on income from Social Security. Social Security provides 90 percent or more of the family income for about three in ten female beneficiaries 65 and older, compared to two in ten male beneficiaries 65 and older. The gender gap in reliance on Social Security increases with age. Social Security provides 90 percent or more of the family income for about 40 percent of female beneficiaries 80 and older, compared to 25 percent of male beneficiaries 80 and older.

Although women rely more on income from Social Security than men do, their benefits are lower. The average Social Security benefit for women 65 and older is about $12,000 annually – only three-quarters of the average benefit for men 65 and older.

Social Security’s modest benefits play a critical role in reducing poverty among elderly women. Without Social Security, an additional 8.5 million women 65 and older would have been poor in 2009. Without Social Security, the poverty rate for all women 65 and older, including non-beneficiaries and beneficiaries, would have risen from 11 percent to 49 percent; for women 65 and older living alone, including non-beneficiaries and beneficiaries, the poverty rate would have risen from 17 percent to 66 percent.

But, despite Social Security, older women are at greater risk of poverty and economic security than older men. Women are more than two-thirds of the elderly poor; in 2009, 2.3 million women 65 and older and 1.1 million men 65 and older lived in poverty.

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Democratic Representative Carolyn Maloney To Reintroduce Equal Rights Amendment

See NY1:

Rep. Carolyn Maloney: Women Have Waited Too Long For Passage Of Equal Rights Amendment

From The New York Daily News:

BY Celeste Katz
May 23, 2011

Rep. Carolyn Maloney said today she plans to make a major push to pass and ratify the Equal Rights Amendment.

Our Lore Croghan reports:

Bills calling for a Constitutional amendment to ensure women get equal treatment under the law have been introduced since 1923.

Legislation passed in 1972, but only 35 of the necessary 38 states had ratified it by the 1982 deadline.

ERA bills have been introduced in each session of Congress since, but Maloney says this time there will be a bigger effort to get it passed.

“What is different now is the onslaught against women, the efforts to roll back rights we thought we had,” Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens) said.

“Many cuts Republicans are proposing affect women, children and families.”

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As Lenders Hold Homes in Foreclosure, Sales Are Hurt

From The New York Times:

Published: May 22, 2011

EL MIRAGE, Ariz. — The nation’s biggest banks and mortgage lenders have steadily amassed real estate empires, acquiring a glut of foreclosed homes that threatens to deepen the housing slump and create a further drag on the economic recovery.

All told, they own more than 872,000 homes as a result of the groundswell in foreclosures, almost twice as many as when the financial crisis began in 2007, according to RealtyTrac, a real estate data provider. In addition, they are in the process of foreclosing on an additional one million homes and are poised to take possession of several million more in the years ahead.

Five years after the housing market started teetering, economists now worry that the rise in lender-owned homes could create another vicious circle, in which the growing inventory of distressed property further depresses home values and leads to even more distressed sales. With the spring home-selling season under way, real estate prices have been declining across the country in recent months.

“It remains a heavy weight on the banking system,” said Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moody’s Analytics. “Housing prices are falling, and they are going to fall some more.”

Over all, economists project that it would take about three years for lenders to sell their backlog of foreclosed homes. As a result, home values nationally could fall 5 percent by the end of 2011, according to Moody’s, and rise only modestly over the following year. Regions that were hardest hit by the housing collapse and recession could take even longer to recover — dealing yet another blow to a still-struggling economy.

Although sales have picked up a bit in the last few weeks, banks and other lenders remain overwhelmed by the wave of foreclosures. In Atlanta, lenders are repossessing eight homes for each distressed home they sell, according to March data from RealtyTrac. In Minneapolis, they are bringing in at least six foreclosed homes for each they sell, and in once-hot markets like Chicago and Miami, the ratio still hovers close to two to one.

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States cutting unemployment benefits, hoping for more federal help

Gee I can’t help but note the States pulling this fast one are Governed by Low tax/Small Government Republi-Nazis. These are the same fiscally insane Republi-Nazis responsible for the deficit, the tanking of the economy, the destruction of the Middle Class and the robbing hard working people to give Welfare to the Rich.

From The Washington Post:

By Kevin Freking,
Published: May 22, 2011

Some of the states that have drained their unemployment insurance funds are cutting the number of weeks that a laid-off worker can count on those benefits. Legislators are trying to limit tax increases for businesses to replenish the pool and are hoping the federal government keeps stepping in when the economy slumps.

Michigan, Missouri and Arkansas recently reduced the maximum number of weeks that the jobless can get state benefits. Florida is on the verge of doing so. Unemployment in those states ranges from 7.8 percent in Arkansas to 11.1 percent in Florida.

The benefit cuts come as legislatures deal with the damage that the recession inflicted on state unemployment insurance programs. The sharp increase in the number of people who lost their jobs drained the reservoir of money dedicated to paying out benefits.

About 30 states borrowed more than $44 billion from the federal government to continue payments to laid-off workers. Many states hastened the insolvency of their funds by keeping balances at historically low levels going into the downturn.

The burden of replenishing the funds and paying off the loans will fall primarily on businesses through higher taxes, but the benefit cuts are an effort to limit the tax increases.

States usually provide up to 26 weeks of benefits to laid-off workers. Michigan and Missouri have cut that to a maximum 20 weeks. Arkansas went to 25.

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The Peril of Plastic

From The New York Times:

Published: May 22, 2011

HONG KONG — For bizarre items floating in the ocean, try topping this: The upper half of a set of false teeth, seen bobbing around in the South China Sea.

“I remember thinking: ‘How on earth did it get there?”’ said Lindsay Porter, a marine scientist based in the Malaysian city of Kota Kinabalu, who spotted the item from a research vessel about 200 kilometers, or 125 miles, off China in 2009.

The teeth, gripped in their plastic gums, are part of the millions of tons of plastic trash that somehow ends up in oceans around the world every year. Mostly, it is more mundane stuff, the flotsam and jetsam of everyday life: picnic plates, bottles, cigarette lighters, toys, spoons, flip-flops, condoms.

Taken together, the virtually indestructible mass is now so large that it is causing environmentalists, government officials and the plastics industry itself to sit up and take note. Many scientists believe marine plastic pollution is one of the major issues — along with climate change — facing the planet.

The problem is not the plastic itself: Even those who lobby against plastic pollution acknowledge that plastic materials help combat climate change, for example by reducing the weight — and thus fuel consumption — of vehicles, or by helping to insulate buildings.

The problem is the sheer amount of the stuff out there. Low-cost, lightweight and durable, plastic erupted onto the world stage in the 1950s. Annual production of 1.5 million tons back then has swelled to about 250 million tons now, according to the trade association PlasticsEurope .

Half of the plastic produced is used only once before being discarded. Think packaging, shampoo bottles, disposable razors, yogurt cups.

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Win Or Lose, NY-26 Is An Ominous Blow To GOP’s Medicare Phaseout Plan

From Talking Points Memo:

Benjy Sarlin
May 23, 2011

Republican and conservative groups have poured in hundreds of thousands of dollars to save what should be a reliably GOP seat in New York’s 26th district, fighting off a spirited Democratic challenger and a vote-splitting Tea Party independent. But whether Republican Jane Corwin ekes out a win on Tuesday or not, the election is already a tough blow to the party’s flagging proposal to turn Medicare into a privatized voucher system.

In the first federal election since House Republicans introduced their ambitious budget that ends Medicare as we know it, Democrat Kathy Hochul sought from the start to turn the race into a one-issue referendum on House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s Medicare proposal. While Corwin defended the party line at first, she’s spent the final weeks fleeing the plan, first by falsely attributing its entitlement cuts to her opponent’s platform and later by dumping her support for the Ryan plan entirely. Her actions leave little room for doubt that the GOP budget’s is politically toxic in the area.

The latest poll from Siena shows Medicare is the district’s top issue and has Hochul taking the lead. Another poll from Democratic outfit PPP finds a 6-point lead for Hochul. While Corwin succeeded in the crucial task of pushing down the vote for self-financed Tea Partier Jack Davis, the Siena poll found that Hochul had absorbed his former supporters, part of a counterintuitive trend that led election prognosticator Stu Rothenberg to rate the race as tilting Dem.

As Republicans have argued, Davis’ presence complicates the question of just whether the race would be competitive in a two-way matchup. “If this was a one-on-one race, I think we’d be fine,” former NRCC chair Tom Davis told The Hill recently.

Conservative group American Crossroads, which has pledged $700,000 to the race, put it more bluntly in an email to reporters on Monday. “This race is competitive because a phony Tea Party candidate is spending millions of dollars purposefully confusing voters in an attempt to split the Republican vote,” communications director Jonathan Collegio wrote. “I’m not sure what the overarching meaning is there, other than that some older men are willing to spend vast amounts of treasure pursuing inexplicable ends.”

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Saudis arrest YouTube activist challenging ban on women drivers

This is what happens when one uses “gender” to define the proper roles for women and men.

This is what a “real gender binary society” looks like.  what we have in modern western society isn’t a rigid gender binary and the Transgender Borg Collective’s assertion that it is, is really a fictional construct they use to propagate the idea that adhering to a “gender role” is the same as being a member of the sex commonly associated with that gender role.

From The Guardian UK:

More than 500,000 click on video of woman held by police who filmed herself behind the wheel

Reuters in Jeddah, Sunday 22 May 2011

Saudi authorities have arrested an activist who launched a campaign to challenge a ban on women driving in the conservative kingdom and posted a video on the internet of her behind the wheel, activists said.

The YouTube video, posted on Thursday, has attracted more than 500,000 views and shows Manal Alsharif, who learned to drive in the US, driving her car in Khobar in the oil-producing Eastern Province.

“Police arrested her at 3am this morning,” said Maha Taher, another activist who launched her own campaign for women driving four months ago to spread awareness of the issue.

An Eastern Province police spokesman declined to comment and an interior ministry spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

Saudi Arabia is an absolute monarchy that does not tolerate any form of dissent and applies an austere version of Sunni Islam, in which religious police patrol the streets to ensure public segregation between men and women.

Women are not allowed to drive and must have written approval from a designated guardian – a father, husband, brother or son – to leave the country, work or travel abroad.

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Manal al Sharif defies the Saudi Arabian driving ban for women

Threatened Pacific Island Nation makes legal history by challenging European carbon emitter

From Green Peace:

Press release – May 23, 2011

New York, 23 May 2011 — The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) has made legal history by challenging the development of one of Europe’s largest coal-fired power stations, opening the door for climate-stricken nations to use international law to take action against major carbon emitters that pose a significant risk to their survival.

The landmark legal paper, written by FSM, Greenpeace and the Environmental Law Service, and presented today at the Threatened Island Nations Climate Conference in New York’s Columbia University, offers hope to vulnerable countries on the frontline of climate impacts. FSM is one of many nation states experiencing environmental disasters, such as flooding, tidal surges and destruction of food crops, which are already exacerbated by climate change.

“The very real impacts of climate change are happening on our disappearing shores,” said Maketo Robert, Secretary of the Department of Justice and the Attorney General of the Federated States of Micronesia: “This legal tool demonstrates that nations on the frontline of climate change are now supported by, and must prepare to invoke, the international law in making meaningful and more effective inputs into energy decisions.”

“This move by Federated States of Micronesia is a first for climate litigation and the first time a vulnerable nation has established itself as a stakeholder in a dirty energy project on the other side of the planet.” said Jasper Teulings, General Counsel at Greenpeace International. “Vulnerable nations have long been the moral voice on climate change, now they have a legal one too. Governments and corporations need to accept that it is indefensible to pursue dirty energy, when a clean and secure future powered by renewable energy is achievable now.”

Jan Srytr of the Environmental Law Service said: “The idea that the responsibility of a state’s decisions extends beyond its borders is not a new concept. However, by accepting this responsibility in relation to impacts of climate change – especially in the context of a specific project– creates a new legal precedent.”

The legal intervention centres around FSM’s request for a transboundary environmental impact assessment (TEIA) of a proposed expansion and life-extension of the Prunéřov II brown coal-fired power plant. Although TEIA’s are often triggered by neighbouring states based on physical pollution concerns, this was the first ever use of a ‘transregional’ impact assessment concerning climate change. FSM’s pioneering challenge provides a new legal hook for other threatened island nations to call major polluters to account.

In April 2011, the Czech Ministry of Environment issued a positive environmental impact statement that cleared the way for the construction of the Prunéřov II brown coal-fired power plant. However, FSM was recognized by the Czech Ministry as an “affected state” and required CEZ Group to provide a compensation plan that would offset the additional CO2 emissions. This was clear recognition of the objections to the project’s insufficient energy efficiency measures, raised by FSM and other participants.



Internationally: Caroline Chisholm on +31 646 16 2018

Greenpeace International Press Desk Hotline +31 (0) 20718 2470

In the Pacific: Josephine Prasad on +679 992 2098

In the Czech Republic: Lucie Jakešová on +420 603 443 140

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Are Well-Off Progressives Standing in the Way of a Real Movement for Economic Justice?

From Alternet:

Many progressives are affluent and well-educated. Does their elite status stand in the way of a movement to fight attacks on the working class?

By Alyssa Battistoni
May 22, 2011

Over the past few years, it’s become an article of faith among progressives that we’re living through a second Gilded Age — you know, an era in which great fortunes accrue to powerful business leaders and institutions and the nation’s wealth is concentrated at the very top. In the past few months, as Republicans have proposed budgets that would cut taxes still further on the backs of the middle and working class, progressives have hammered away at the statistics — like that the top 1 percent of Americans hold 34.6 percent of the nation’s wealth; the bottom 90 percent, just 26.9 percent.

But the growth in inequality and decline of the middle and working class, though exacerbated by Bush administration economic policies, isn’t a recent phenomenon — it’s been in progress for decades. Which begs the question: why on earth did it take so long for the Left to take notice? How did we end up with inequality reaching levels not seen since before the Depression without waging anything approximating a real fight against it? Surely the trends of decreasing social mobility and increasing social stratification in the supposed “land of opportunity” call for serious resistance — where has it been? As thoroughly reprehensible as the Right’s slavishness to wealth and power is, the fact that it took a financial meltdown for economic justice to even begin to replace welfare reform on the political agenda suggests progressives need to do a bit of navel-gazing.

By now it should come as no surprise that most Democratic politicians are more responsive to the interests of more affluent voters than to the working class, even if they’re nominally better than Republicans with regard to middle-class interests. But the fact of the matter is that it’s not just Democratic politicians who are operating from a position of privilege, but the broader progressive leadership. Perhaps this isn’t surprising either, but for a party purporting to defend the economic interests of the working and middle class — to say nothing of the poor (as per usual) — it’s a fatal weakness. By and large, the people who work at progressive think tanks, media outlets and policy centers are well-compensated — some extravagantly so — and staggeringly well-educated; they have solid health-care benefits and 401(k)s. As genuinely as they may care about social justice, their caring is largely based on principle rather than self-interest.

Indeed, Princeton political scientist Larry Bartels has shown that voting based on social values has increased among middle-class and affluent white voters — making “What’s the matter with Manhattan?” a more appropriate question than “What’s the matter with Kansas?” The answer is, of course, nothing. There’s no reason people should vote based on economics rather than social issues, or vice versa. And yet the distinction does matter when it comes to questions of economic justice — it’s harder to let wage stagnation slide when it’s a fact of life rather than a line on a graph.

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What would you do if you saw gay parents berated by a waitress?