Abstinence Fail: State With The Highest Teen Birth Rate Is…

Miss Universe to allow transgender contestants

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/apr/10/miss-universe-transgender-contestants

Decision comes after outcry over disqualification of transgender woman Jenna Talackova from Miss Universe Canada

Reuters in New York
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 10 April 2012

The Miss Universe pageant is changing its rules to allow transgender women to take part in all of its competitions starting in 2013, the organisation and gay rights group Glaad has announced.

The decision follows a media outcry over the disqualification of Canadian contestant Jenna Talackova from the Miss Universe Canada contest because she was not a “naturally born female”.

Talackova 23, who underwent gender reassignment surgery when she was 19, was reinstated to the competition last week by Donald Trump, who owns the Miss Universe organisation. Talackova has a Canadian passport, driver’s licence and other documents that identify her as a woman.

Following consultations with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (Glaad), Miss Universe “discussed a policy change that includes transgender women in time for the start of this fall’s 2013 pageant season, a time when most of the competitions around the world begin to take place,” the two groups said in a joint statement.

The change brings Miss Universe into line with other groups that have taken a stand against discrimination against transgender women, including the Olympics, the Girl Scouts of America and the TV show America’s Next Top Model, Glaad said.

Complete article at:   http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/apr/10/miss-universe-transgender-contestants

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The Importance of Marriage Equality to Trans Community

From The Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/Politics/Commentary/Oped_The_Importance_of_Marriage_Equality_to_Trans_Community/

Some transgender people are frustrated by the significant resources that our organizations devote to marriage equality efforts, but there’s reason to believe it will make a difference.

By Matt Wood, op-ed contributor
April 10, 2012

Marriage for same-sex couples can be a divisive issue – not just for straight people, but among LGBT communities as well. While many LGBT people were thrilled when Maryland and Washington joined the growing list of states affirming marriage equality, others continue to question the logic of spending so much time and money on the marriage effort when other issues, like health care access and economic inequality, are more pressing for many of us.

This issue can seem particularly remote from the daily concerns of many members of transgender communities. A recent survey on transgender discrimination conducted by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force revealed that transgender people are likely to live in extreme poverty, to be under- or unemployed, to be denied health care and housing, and to be harassed in school. Chillingly, a staggering 41% of survey respondents reported attempting suicide. (The full report is available online at http://www.thetaskforce.org)

It’s no wonder that some transgender people are frustrated by the significant resources that primarily lesbian and gay organizations have devoted to marriage equality efforts in recent years, a concern also raised by LGBT people of color, youth, and people living with HIV/AIDS. In the shadow of pervasive poverty and despair, and with virtually no national conversation about transgender rights, transgender community members see the allocation of scarce LGBT movement resources (staff time, community money, political will) on marriage as misplaced at best.

While this frustration is understandable, it may be short-sighted. First, it ignores the fact that many transgender people are also lesbian, gay, or bisexual, or in relationships that the government views as legally “same-sex,” even if the partners consider themselves to be different sex.

For instance, a marriage between a trans man and a non-trans woman might or might not be legally recognized as a valid different-sex marriage. That’s because the standard for having a person’s gender identity legally recognized depends upon where they were born, and where they currently live. While most states permit a person to change the gender on their birth certificate, many require the person to have some kind of medical intervention in order to do so — medical intervention that many transgender people may not be able to afford, or may not want. Some states, including Idaho, Tennessee, and Ohio, refuse to change the gender marker on birth certificates.

Continue reading at:  http://www.advocate.com/Politics/Commentary/Oped_The_Importance_of_Marriage_Equality_to_Trans_Community/

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Racism and the National Review

From Salon:   http://www.salon.com/2012/04/09/racism_and_the_national_review/singleton/

Derbyshire may be gone, but William F. Buckley’s magazine championed divisive racial politics – and still does

By Joan Walsh
Monday, Apr 9, 2012

National Review editor Rich Lowry finally did the right thing and fired John Derbyshire for an unbelievably racist and deeply stupid column (printed elsewhere) about the “advice” he gives his son about avoiding black people. Maybe it represents a ratcheting back of right-wing ugliness about the Trayvon Martin case. But if you want to understand how that tragedy went from being an occasion for bipartisan sorrow to another ugly battle in the culture wars, the National Review is a good place to start.

Although founder William F. Buckley is widely credited with driving John Birch Society extremists out of the conservative movement, he made his own contributions to the ugly coarsening of American politics on the issue of race. He and his magazine defended segregation and white supremacy in the South (though he later apologized), while in the North, he played a leading role in making the issue of rising crime both racial and political – with arguments and tactics still being used in the Trayvon Martin case today.

I just finished “The Cause,” Eric Alterman and Kevin Mattson’s history of modern American liberalism, and I was particularly fascinated by their account of the lasting impact the 1965 New York mayor’s race had not only on the city but on liberalism. Buckley ran against liberal Republican John Lindsay and Democrat Abe Beame, and of course lost. But for a while the elite conservative Buckley became a hero to some working-class New York Democrats, for his ability to channel their anger about the city’s rising crime rate, often in racial terms. He mocked liberals for pointing to racism and poverty to explain crime, arguing that those social forces didn’t “make Negro crime any less criminal.” He declared flatly:  ”I believe that young thugs are young thugs, irrespective of race, color or creed.” Before there were Reagan Democrats, there were Buckley Democrats.

Lindsay won the election, but Buckley won the debate about crime. After the newly elected mayor appointed a civilian complaint review board to examine rising reports of police brutality, New York cops fought back with a ballot measure to repeal it. Buckley and conservatives backed the measure, while the liberal establishment fought it ferociously. The measure passed thanks to a once unthinkable alliance of outer-borough Jews and “white ethnics,” mainly Catholics – two pillars of the so-called New Deal coalition that kept Democrats in the White House for 36 years, with a short break for Dwight Eisenhower. National politics has never been the same.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2012/04/09/racism_and_the_national_review/singleton/

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Are Pesticide Sprayers “Health Experts?” Seriously?

From EnviroBlog:  http://www.enviroblog.org/2012/04/are-pesticide-sprayers-health-experts-seriously.html

By Alex Formuzis, Vice President of Media Relations
April 9, 2012

New online videos from a chemical agribusiness front group show conventional growers straining to convince consumers that it’s just fine to eat bug killers and weed killers.

The Alliance for Food and Farming, or AFF, which has lobbied the U.S. Department of Agriculture to tone down its annual pesticide residue tests on fruits and vegetables, has rolled out short videos in which California farmers answer questions usually reserved for scientists and health experts.

Among AFF’s unsupported claims:

Is organic farming better for the environment than conventional farming?

AFF says: No. Rod Braga, a vegetable farmer from Soledad, Calif., says conventional agriculture is actually “very much easier on the environment.”

Truth: The environmental benefits of organic agriculture far outweigh any offered up by conventional operations. Conventional farmers apply more than one billion pounds of highly toxic manmade pesticides and fungicides each year. These chemicals pollute not only the food supply but also air, drinking water and ultimately people’s bodies. They have been found in the umbilical cord blood of newborns. Chemical fertilizer runoff from Midwest crop operations has introduced so much nitrate into the Mississippi River that the Gulf of Mexico has a Dead Zone the size of New Jersey literally chocking off aquatic life. Mega-farms throughout the country have also played a significant role in greenhouse gas emissions.

Continue reading at:  http://www.enviroblog.org/2012/04/are-pesticide-sprayers-health-experts-seriously.html

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The Gates Foundation Is Done Funding ALEC

From Mother Jones:  http://motherjones.com/mojo/2012/04/alec-gates-foundation-pepsi-kraft

By Andy Kroll
Tue Apr. 10, 2012

It’s been a rough week or two for the American Legislative Exchange Council, the corporate-backed group that writes model legislation for state legislators on everything from voter ID to privatizing public schools to curbing workers’ rights. Since the GOP’s massive gains at the state level in the 2010 elections, liberal activists have sought to expose ALEC by publishing its model bills and listing its legislative and corporate members. The pressure is having an effect. Last week, Kraft, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi all announced they would cut ties with ALEC. On Monday, another big name ALEC funder joined the list of defectors: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The foundation, which boasts an endowment of $33.5 billion, had given ALEC $375,000 in the past two years to provide “information to “ALEC-affiliated state legislators on teacher effectiveness and school finance,” a spokesman told Roll Call. But no more. The spokesman, Chris Williams, said the Gates Foundation would finish its existing grant but discontinue future ALEC funding.

Here’s more from Roll Call:

Last week, Kraft Foods Inc., Coca-Cola Co., and Intuit Inc. each said they would withdraw support. The announcements came after months of behind-the-scenes pressure from another liberal group, Color of Change, an African-American advocacy group.

Color of Change went public today with demands that AT&T Corp., one of ALEC’s 21 corporate board members, also sever ties with the organization. Over the past year, the group has reached out to 15 consumer product companies that back ALEC, highlighting the organization’s connections to voter ID laws passed in at least a half-dozen states.

Complete article at:  http://motherjones.com/mojo/2012/04/alec-gates-foundation-pepsi-kraft

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NOM Moves Starbucks Boycott Into Countries That Kill Gays For Being Gay

From The New Civil Rights Movement: http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/nom-moves-starbucks-boycott-into-countries-that-kill-gays-for-being-gay/news/2012/04/10/37836

by David Badash
on April 10, 2012

NOM, the National Organization For Marriage, is moving its failing Starbucks boycott into countries that support the killing of gay people for being gay. NOM has translated its “Dump Starbucks” boycott of the coffee retailer into Arabic, along with three other languages spoken in countries that are generally opposed to homosexuality and same-sex marriage, many of which also support Sharia law and the killing of homosexuals for merely being homosexual.

Curiously, NOM opted not to host their “Dump Starbucks” boycott website on domains that would be easily accessible by people in those countries they are attempting to reach, rather, they have just offered translations of the sites. Not an effective strategy.

Also curious is why NOM didn’t choose to translate the boycott into, say, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, or other languages a little closer to home. Could it be because they know it would fail in those regions as well?

Of course, this is merely an extension of NOM’s already revealed plans to attempt to ban same-sex marriage worldwide, and to further race and ethic hatred and bigotry. The best thing equality supporters can do is help people in these lands understand who we are and try to make inroads ourselves.

“By making gay marriage core to his brand, Starbucks CEO Howard Schulz is telling millions of customers and partners who support traditional marriage in the Middle East, China, South America and North America that they aren’t truly part of the Starbucks community,” NOM president Brian Brown wrote in a statement:

Continue reading at:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/nom-moves-starbucks-boycott-into-countries-that-kill-gays-for-being-gay/news/2012/04/10/37836

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