Cuban enjoys new benefit of free sex-change operation

From CNN:

By Shasta Darlington, CNN
June 1, 2011

Matanzas, Cuba (CNN) — On the job, Juani Santos is just another one of the guys.

He inspects recycled canisters for flaws at a gas tank factory in western Cuba and cracks jokes with the other workers. Short and stocky, he has a deeply lined face and thick mustache.

But Juani was born a girl.

It was only two months ago that the 61-year-old transsexual underwent sex reassignment surgery.

“I’m not an alien or a delinquent,” he told CNN during an interview in his tiny two-room apartment in the central Cuban city of Matanzas.

“I’m a person who feels and suffers like anybody else. I didn’t want to be born like this. Every since I was 5 I’ve known I was a boy.”

Forty years after being diagnosed a transsexual, he has benefited from a gradual but far-reaching transformation in Cuba.

At the beginning of Fidel Castro’s revolution, gays and transsexuals were locked up or sent to labor camps. Even a decade ago they were regularly harassed by police.

Now it’s Fidel’s niece Mariela Castro who has launched a nationwide campaign to battle homophobia.

Continue reading at:


Michele Bachmann: “God Calling on Me to Run”

Thus supporting evidence in the of the claim presented in the Scientific American article I just put up a teaser for.

From Reader Supported News:

By Christine Roberts, NY Daily News
01 June 11

Presidential hopeful Rep. Michele Bachmann says she has the highest endorsement she can get: an endorsement from above.

The Minnesota congresswoman said she received a “calling” to enter the 2012 presidential race. She spoke in an interview with Iowa Public Television on Friday.

“Well, every decision that I make, I pray about, as does my husband, and I can tell you, yes, I’ve had that calling and that tugging on my heart that this is the right thing to do,” Bachmann said.

Bachmann says she experienced a similar type of spiritual guidance in 2006 when she ran for Congress from Minnesota.

“God then called me to run for the United States Congress. And I thought, what in the world would that be for? And my husband said, “You need to do this,” Bachmann said at The Living Word Christian Center, a megachurch in Minnesota, during her campaign.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Michele Bachmann: “God Calling on Me to Run”

Religious Experiences Shrink Part of the Brain

From Scientific American:

A study links life-changing religious experiences, like being born again, with atrophy in the hippocampus

By Andrew Newberg
May 31, 2011

The article, “Religious factors and hippocampal atrophy in late life,” by Amy Owen and colleagues at Duke University represents an important advance in our growing understanding of the relationship between the brain and religion. The study, published March 30 in PLoS One, showed greater atrophy in the hippocampus in individuals who identify with specific religious groups as well as those with no religious affiliation. It is a surprising result, given that many prior studies have shown religion to have potentially beneficial effects on brain function, anxiety, and depression.

A number of studies have evaluated the acute effects of religious practices, such as meditation and prayer, on the human brain. A smaller number of studies have evaluated the longer term effects of religion on the brain. Such studies, like the present one, have focused on differences in brain volume or brain function in those people heavily engaged in meditation or spiritual practices compared to those who are not. And an even fewer number of studies have explored the longitudinal effects of doing meditation or spiritual practices by evaluating subjects at two different time points.

In this study, Owen et al. used MRI to measure the volume of the hippocampus, a central structure of the limbic system that is involved in emotion as well as in memory formation. They evaluated the MRIs of 268 men and women aged 58 and over, who were originally recruited for the NeuroCognitive Outcomes of Depression in the Elderly study, but who also answered several questions regarding their religious beliefs and affiliation. The study by Owen et al. is unique in that it focuses specifically on religious individuals compared to non-religious individuals. This study also broke down these individuals into those who are born again or who have had life-changing religious experiences.

The results showed significantly greater hippocampal atrophy in individuals reporting a life-changing religious experience. In addition, they found significantly greater hippocampal atrophy among born-again Protestants, Catholics, and those with no religious affiliation, compared with Protestants not identifying as born-again.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Religious Experiences Shrink Part of the Brain

America’s Creeping Police State

From Alternet:

Imperialism abroad is destroying what is left of our democracy at home. From warrantless wiretapping to warrantless door-busting, this is what a police state looks like.

By Rania Khalek
May 31, 2011

The late Chalmers Johnson often reminded us that “A nation can be one or the other, a democracy or an imperialist, but it can’t be both. If it sticks to imperialism, it will, like the old Roman Republic, on which so much of our system was modeled, lose its democracy to a domestic dictatorship.” His warning rings more true by the day, as Americans watch the erosion of their civil liberties accelerate in conjunction with the expansion of the US Empire.

When viewed through the lens of Johnson’s profound insights, the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Kentucky v. King makes perfect sense. On May 13, in a lopsided 8-1 ruling, the Court upheld the warrantless search of a Kentucky man’s apartment after police smelled marijuana and feared those inside were destroying evidence, essentially granting police officers increased power to enter the homes of citizens without a warrant.

Under the Fourth Amendment, police are barred from entering a home without first obtaining a warrant, which can only be issued by a judge upon probable cause. The only exception is when the circumstances qualify as “exigent,” meaning there is imminent risk of death or serious injury, danger that evidence will be immediately destroyed, or that a suspect will escape. However, exigent circumstances cannot be created by the police.

In this case, the police followed a suspected drug dealer into an apartment complex and after losing track of him, smelled marijuana coming from one of the apartments. After banging on the door and announcing themselves, the police heard noises that they interpreted as the destruction of evidence. Rather than first obtaining a warrant, they kicked down the door and arrested the man inside, who was caught flushing marijuana down the toilet.

The Kentucky Supreme Court had overturned the man’s conviction and ruled that exigent circumstances did not apply because the behavior of the police is what prompted the destruction of evidence. Tragically, an overwhelming majority of the Supreme Court upheld the Conviction. Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that citizens are not required to grant police officers permission to enter their homes after hearing a knock, but if there is no response and the officers hear noise that suggests evidence is being destroyed, they are justified in breaking in.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on America’s Creeping Police State

In Shift, Feds Target Top Execs For Health Fraud

From Huffington Post:


WASHINGTON — It’s getting personal now. In a shift still evolving, federal enforcers are targeting individual executives in health care fraud cases that used to be aimed at impersonal corporations.

The new tactic is raising the anxiety level – and risks – for corporate honchos at drug companies, medical device manufacturers, nursing home chains and other major health care enterprises that deal with Medicare and Medicaid.

Previously, if a company got caught, its lawyers in many cases would be able to negotiate a financial settlement. The company would write the government a check for a number followed by lots of zeroes and promise not to break the rules again. Often the cost would just get passed on to customers.

Now, on top of fines paid by a company, senior executives can face criminal charges even if they weren’t involved in the scheme but could have stopped it had they known. Furthermore, they can also be banned from doing business with government health programs, a career-ending consequence.

Many in industry see the more aggressive strategy as government overkill, meting out radical punishment to individuals whose guilt prosecutors would be hard pressed to prove to a jury.

The feds say they got frustrated with repeat violations and decided to start using enforcement tools that were already on the books but had been allowed to languish. By some estimates, health care fraud costs taxpayers $60 billion a year.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on In Shift, Feds Target Top Execs For Health Fraud

The New Geopolitics of Food

From Common Dreams:

From the Middle East to Madagascar, high prices are spawning land grabs and ousting dictators. Welcome to the 21st-century food wars.

by Lester Brown
Published on Tuesday, May 31, 2011 by Foreign Policy

In the United States, when world wheat prices rise by 75 percent, as they have over the last year, it means the difference between a $2 loaf of bread and a loaf costing maybe $2.10. If, however, you live in New Delhi, those skyrocketing costs really matter: A doubling in the world price of wheat actually means that the wheat you carry home from the market to hand-grind into flour for chapatis costs twice as much. And the same is true with rice. If the world price of rice doubles, so does the price of rice in your neighborhood market in Jakarta. And so does the cost of the bowl of boiled rice on an Indonesian family’s dinner table.

Welcome to the new food economics of 2011: Prices are climbing, but the impact is not at all being felt equally. For Americans, who spend less than one-tenth of their income in the supermarket, the soaring food prices we’ve seen so far this year are an annoyance, not a calamity. But for the planet’s poorest 2 billion people, who spend 50 to 70 percent of their income on food, these soaring prices may mean going from two meals a day to one. Those who are barely hanging on to the lower rungs of the global economic ladder risk losing their grip entirely. This can contribute — and it has — to revolutions and upheaval.

Already in 2011, the U.N. Food Price Index has eclipsed its previous all-time global high; as of March it had climbed for eight consecutive months. With this year’s harvest predicted to fall short, with governments in the Middle East and Africa teetering as a result of the price spikes, and with anxious markets sustaining one shock after another, food has quickly become the hidden driver of world politics. And crises like these are going to become increasingly common. The new geopolitics of food looks a whole lot more volatile — and a whole lot more contentious — than it used to. Scarcity is the new norm.

Until recently, sudden price surges just didn’t matter as much, as they were quickly followed by a return to the relatively low food prices that helped shape the political stability of the late 20th century across much of the globe. But now both the causes and consequences are ominously different.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on The New Geopolitics of Food

New Feature: Poll: Transgender Borg Collective Member or Radical Feminist

For a long time now I have had a hard time seeing much of any difference between the hate spewed at post-transsexual women by radical feminist and that spewed by hard core members of the Transgender Borg Collective.

Hence the poll to see if other readers can figure it out either

“See and this is where you will hate me… they didn’t really change your sex. They castrated you and surgically created a hole that you then have to keep open artificially. You don’t have ovaries, fallopian tubes and you don’t have a womb.”