Tell your senators to vote for the LGBT-inclusive Violence Against Women Act

Press Release from The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

April 25, 2012

Imagine being beaten up by your partner and trying to get help from a domestic violence shelter only to be turned away. Just because the person who hurt you is the same gender or because your orientation or gender presentation aren’t what they’re used to, you get no help and are put at risk of being hurt again. The fact is that LGBT people experience domestic violence at the same rate as the general population — 25-35% of anyone in a relationship runs the risk of violence.

But there’s a solution at hand. For the very first time, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) includes explicit language that ensures that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people can get the services they deserve at their local shelter or precinct. Contact your senator right nowand make sure they KEEP the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) protections in the bill when they vote on it this week.

Every victim of domestic violence deserves access to these life-saving protections and should not be afraid to ask for them. In a 2010 study, 96% of victim services and law enforcement agencies said that they did not have specific services for LGBT victims. And right now, only one in five survivors of same-gender sexual assault and intimate partner violence receive victim services.

We can change this. Act now to ensure that all survivors have services they can turn to when the worst happens.

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Tell your senators to vote for the LGBT-inclusive Violence Against Women Act

Landmark Employment Ruling Protects Against Anti-Transgender Discrimination

From The Advocate:

In a decision described by one legal expert as “game-changing,” the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that existing federal law protects transgender individuals from sex discrimination on the basis of their gender identity.

By Andrew Harmon
April 24, 2012

When Mia Macy was passed over for a position at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, that she said had been promised was hers, the Phoenix police detective’s investigative prowess kicked in.

More than a year ago, Macy, who is transgender, had contacted the director of an ATF crime laboratory in Walnut Creek, Calif. about an open position as a ballistics forensic technician. At the time, she presented herself as a man. But Macy soon informed the hiring agency that she was transitioning from male to female. Five days later, she was told the Walnut Creek position had been eliminated due to federal budget cuts.

Only it hadn’t. Someone else had been hired for the job, and Macy suspected she had been dropped from consideration after revealing she was transgender. She filed a complaint in June 2011 with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming that she was discriminated against on the basis of her gender identity.

Now, in a decision described by Macy’s attorney as “game-changing,” the EEOC has ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects transgender individuals from sex discrimination.

Title VII does not simply prohibit discrimination based on biological sex, the EEOC, an independent agency that enforces federal workplace discrimination laws, ruled in a 16-page decision issued April 20.

Rather, the law’s “protections sweep far broader than that, in part because the term ‘gender’ encompasses not only a person’s biological sex but also the cultural and social aspects associated with masculinity and femininity,” the commission ruled. Macy’s case has now been remanded for further investigation.

The EEOC decision confirms a trend in federal court decisions interpreting Title VII to protect transgender individuals from sex-based discrimination.

Continue reading at:

New study finds genderqueer people face unique patterns of abuse and discrimination

From The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

April 23, 2012

Genderqueer people face distinct patterns of discrimination and violence according to a new study based on the dataset gathered for Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality.

The study, A Gender Not Listed Here: Genderqueers, Gender Rebels, and OtherWise in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, was just published by the LGBTQ Policy Journal at the Harvard Kennedy School. It examines the experiences of genderqueer individuals and others who clearly identified as neither a man nor a woman.

A Gender Not Listed Here found that, when compared to transgender-identified respondents surveyed in Injustice at Every Turn, genderqueer respondents said they were more likely to be unemployed (76 percent vs. 56 percent); suffer physical assaults (32 percent vs. 25 percent); experience harassment by law enforcement (31 percent vs. 21 percent); and forgo healthcare treatment due to fear of discrimination (36 percent vs. 27 percent). There were other measures in which transgender respondents suffered higher levels of discrimination or harassment.

“These findings aren’t just groundbreaking for our academic understanding of the genderqueer experience,” says study author Jack Harrison of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Policy Institute. “As with Injustice at Every Turn, they are a call to action. No one should have to get up in the morning fearing they will be denied a job, abused by police, mistreated by a doctor or attacked while walking down the street simply because of their gender identity and expression. For genderqueer people, this is a harsh and unacceptable reality.”

Harrison authored A Gender Not Listed Here: Genderqueers, Gender Rebels, and OtherWise in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey along with Jaime Grant of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College and Jody L. Herman of the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

The study also found that genderqueer individuals had distinct demographic characteristics. Compared to other Injustice at Every Turn respondents, they were more likely to be people of color (30 percent were people of color vs. 23 percent who were people of color in the overall sample) and young people (89 percent vs. 68 percent were under age 45). These demographic findings mark a crucial new development in the understanding of the way race and age affect gender identity/expression-based discrimination.

To download: A Gender Not Listed Here: Genderqueers, Gender Rebels, and OtherWise in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey

To download: Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on New study finds genderqueer people face unique patterns of abuse and discrimination

Occupy, the 99% Spring, and the New Age of Direct Action

From Yes Magazine:

Collaboration or cooptation? Expansion or dilution? Mark Engler on what to make of the 99% Spring.

posted Apr 23, 2012

Over the past several weeks, a broad coalition of progressive organizations—including National People’s Action (NPA), ColorOfChange, the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA),, the New Bottom Line, environmental groups like Greenpeace and, and major unions such as SEIU and the United Auto Workers—has undertaken a far-reaching effort to train tens of thousands of people in nonviolent direct action. They have called the campaign the 99% Spring.

Starting this week, many of these same groups will be rallying their members and supporters to use newly honed skills to confront the shareholder meetings of corporations across the United States—charging executives with abusing workers, the environment, and communities in pursuit of profits for the 1 percent. They are calling the drive 99% Power. With prominent actions gearing up this week—starting with major protests at Wells Fargo meetings in San Francisco—the campaign may soon be coming to a city near you.

The Genesis of the 99% Spring

Although this month’s 99% Spring trainings have taken place in the shadow of the Occupy movement, the coalition building behind them actually predated the emergence of Occupy Wall Street. Last summer, a handful of organizers from groups such as Jobs with Justice, NPA, and NDWA had discussions in which they lamented the lack of direct action in recent years. As NPA Executive Director George Goehl explains, “We felt what was missing in terms of organizing and in terms of the broader fight was that there wasn’t enough energy pointed towards challenging corporate power: That’s not going to government and saying, ‘Reign these guys in,’ but actually going toe-to-toe with big corporations.”

The groups envisioned bringing together organizations to work across single-issue lines, using more confrontational strategies. For the fall, they planned overlapping weeks of action in eight major cities—which resulted in arrests from Boston to Los Angeles of activists demanding accountability for the big banks and protesting foreclosures. Since the Occupy Wall Street encampment in Zuccotti Park exploded into a nationwide phenomenon at the same time, these protests were largely covered in the media as part of the Occupy movement. Participants from the Occupy encampments joined in the demonstrations, and actions that had been organized by community groups, in turn, helped to create a sense of national scope and escalating drama for the movement.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Occupy, the 99% Spring, and the New Age of Direct Action

Wendell Berry, American Hero

From The New York Times:

By Mark Bittman
April 24, 2012

The sensibility of Wendell Berry, who is sometimes described as a modern day Thoreau but who I’d call the soul of the real food movement, leads people like me on a path to the door of the hillside house he shares with his wife, Tanya, outside of Port Royal, Ky. Everything is as the pilgrim would have it: Wendell (he’s a one-name icon, like Madonna, but probably in that respect only) is kind and welcoming, all smiles.

He quotes Pope (“Consult the genius of the place in all”), Spenser, Milton and Stegner, and answers every question patiently and articulately. He doesn’t patronize. We sit alone, uninterrupted through the morning, for two or three hours. Tanya is at church; when it’s time, he turns on the oven, as she requested before leaving. He seems positively yogic, or maybe it’s just this: How often do I sit in long, quiet conversation? Wendell has this effect.

Tanya returns around noon, and their daughter, Mary, arrives shortly thereafter. (Mary lives nearby, runs a winery, and is engaged in enough food and farm justice issues to impress Wendell Berry.) We eat. It’s all local, food they or their neighbors or friends or family have grown or raised, food that Tanya has cooked. There’s little fuss about any of that, only enjoyment and good eating. I note that I can’t stop devouring the corn bread, and that the potatoes have the kind of taste of the earth that floors you.

And we chat, and then Wendell takes me for a drive around the countryside he was born in and where he’s lived for most of his life. As he waves to just about every driver on the road, he explains that the land was once home to scores of tobacco farmers, and now has patches of forest, acres of commodity crops and farms where people do what the land tells them to. That’s one of Wendell’s recurring themes: Listen to the land.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Wendell Berry, American Hero

Occupy Wall Street: what is to be done next?

From The Guardian UK:

How a protest movement without a programme can confront a capitalist system that defies reform, Tuesday 24 April 2012

What to do in the aftermath of the Occupy Wall Street movement, when the protests that started far away – in the Middle East, Greece, Spain, UK – reached the centre, and are now reinforced and rolling out all around the world?

In a San Francisco echo of the OWS movement on 16 October 2011, a guy addressed the crowd with an invitation to participate in it as if it were a happening in the hippy style of the 1960s:

“They are asking us what is our program. We have no program. We are here to have a good time.”

Such statements display one of the great dangers the protesters are facing: the danger that they will fall in love with themselves, with the nice time they are having in the “occupied” places. Carnivals come cheap – the true test of their worth is what remains the day after, how our normal daily life will be changed. The protesters should fall in love with hard and patient work – they are the beginning, not the end. Their basic message is: the taboo is broken, we do not live in the best possible world; we are allowed, obliged even, to think about alternatives.

In a kind of Hegelian triad, the western left has come full circle: after abandoning the so-called “class struggle essentialism” for the plurality of anti-racist, feminist etc struggles, “capitalism” is now clearly re-emerging as the name of the problem.

The first two things one should prohibit are therefore the critique of corruption and the critique of financial capitalism. First, let us not blame people and their attitudes: the problem is not corruption or greed, the problem is the system that pushes you to be corrupt. The solution is neither Main Street nor Wall Street, but to change the system where Main Street cannot function without Wall Street. Public figures from the pope downward bombard us with injunctions to fight the culture of excessive greed and consummation – this disgusting spectacle of cheap moralization is an ideological operation, if there ever was one: the compulsion (to expand) inscribed into the system itself is translated into personal sin, into a private psychological propensity, or, as one of the theologians close to the pope put it:

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Occupy Wall Street: what is to be done next?

Why You Should Still Care About Chicago’s NATO Summit

From Truth Out:

By Allison Kilkenny
Tuesday, 24 April 2012

When it was announced in March that the G-8 summit would not take place in Chicago as scheduled, but instead Camp David, Occupy Wall Street activists declared victory. After all, it was Occupy that had been making waves all fall, threatening to tarnish some of the glossiest public facades of the most powerful companies and figures in the world, and it is Occupy that is working to organize thousands of protesters expected to flood Chicago next month in anticipation of NATO and (at the time) G-8.

Suddenly, there was Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for President Obama’s National Security Council, admitting that the G-8 was high-tailing it from Chicago, Obama’s hometown, because of “political, economic and security issues.”

But real victory for activists was far from secure. The NATO and International Security Assistance Force meetings are still scheduled for the third week of May, and Occupy Chicago, along with other protest groups, are prepared to demonstrate despite Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s police state-esque transformation of the Chicago Police Department.

Even though the G-8 will now be held in a friendly-sounding bunker, the world should still watch Chicago this May, if only to bear witness to the clash between forces bearing wildly different styles of armor. Protesters will be armed with, well, nothing. Signs, maybe some banners. These activists will face a police force on steroids and a mayor wielding unprecedented levels of power, who essentially has full carte blanche to crush protest actions under the guise of maintaining security.

As of right now, it seems authorities in Chicago still expect a large turnout, despite the transfer of the G-8 summit. Chicago Police Department Chief Debra Kirby, head of the department’s international relations office, told the media that the removal of the G-8 from Chicago has done nothing to curb the interest from protesters intending to demonstrate during the summit weekend and police still expect large crowds of demonstrators to descend upon the city.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Why You Should Still Care About Chicago’s NATO Summit

The Truth About Green Jobs: A Case Study

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on The Truth About Green Jobs: A Case Study

We’re Not the Bad Guys, the Executives at Disney Are

From Huffington Post:

with Michele Sinisgalli-Yulo of Princess Free Zone.

In honor of this being the First Annual National Princess Week, we’ve got a few things to say!

So much has been written about Disney, girls and their love of all things princess, but it’s time to address the epidemic of inflamed comment threads we’re seeing that pit moms against each other over this topic in a rather unhelpful way. It has us a bit confused, and more than a little concerned. I suppose because we’re both in our mid-40’s, we can remember a different era than can be recalled by younger mothers today. Yes, we remember being children and reading Disney books, seeing Disney movies in the theater and pretending to be princesses.

But we also remember how relatively small a piece of girlhood real estate was owned back then by the Disney Corporation, before the year 2000’s marketing blitz that led to the creation of the four-billion-dollar “Princess franchise” and, ultimately, the onslaught of over 26,000 Disney princess items currently being sold in the children’s market. It is no secret that Disney’s highly profitable, widely accepted, corporate-created definition of what it is to be a girl has become the norm. Our concern is that this new princess culture offers a one-dimensional and very limiting representation of femininity.

Newspaper articles, books and blog posts about princess culture abound, but it is often the comments that drive the grittier narrative. Let’s look at some typical comments taken from recent blog posts:

“I do not understand the concept of not allowing little girls to believe in the princess story. Let kids be kids and believe in fairy tales. People complain that kids grow up too fast these days, well this is one of the reasons why. Forcing adult ideals on children. When they are young let them believe in happy endings and being rescued by prince charming. As they get older, then you can teach them to take care of themselves.”
“You are a sick human being if you are ‘fighting’ the pull for little girls to be girly. Every little girls WANTS to be a princess and/or beautiful. Do you want your daughter to be like a boy?!”
“Really?! Is it really that big of deal? I am a child from the 90s where everything was gender based. Don’t you have better things to do with your time? There are bigger problems in the world.”

Why such backlash to the idea that there might be something detrimental about such a narrow definition of what it is to be female? We are amazed at the number of parents who assertively contradict the facts of history — saying there is nothing new here when this is not how it has always been. The angry push-back to the notion that a little bit of princess is OK, but that complete immersion in all things princess might not be the healthiest thing for girls, is at times breathtaking in its knee-jerk defensiveness and, dare we say, intellectual laziness.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Feminist, Gender, Sexism, Uncategorized. Comments Off on We’re Not the Bad Guys, the Executives at Disney Are

Lauren Zuniga, Personhood

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Lauren Zuniga, Personhood

School vouchers and the religious subversion of church-state separation

From The Guardian UK:

Under the pretext of parental ‘choice’, the right is using vouchers to establish religion in public education – with Romney’s blessing, Monday 23 April 2012

“Choice” is such a nice word that everybody wants to have it on their side.

“Choice” is also a fuzzy word, which may be why Mitt Romney is willing to call himself a supporter of “school choice”. In the strange language of education politics, “choice” sometimes means advocating the partial privatization of school systems through charter schools – which Romney supports. It can also indicate support for voucher programs, which is another thing altogether – and which Romney is said also to support.

Charter schools are constrained by the same laws and policies that, for example, prohibit public schools from endorsing religion. Vouchers, on the other hand, allow parents to use public money to pay for private, mostly religious schools that are largely unaccountable to the public. So, for example, a voucher school may use your taxpayer dollars to teach its students that the earth is 6,000 years old. And a number of such schools now do just that.

You don’t have to be a constitutional scholar to get that using public money to fund religious schools violates the letter and spirit of the first amendment. Even the radical conservatives in today’s Federalist Society would agree that the US constitution would not allow the government to cut a check to, say, the local mosque in exchange for supplying education to local schoolchildren. That is why they invented “vouchers”: by pushing the “choice” to use government money to subsidize religion down to the parents, the government can fund religious schools while pretending that it is not.

The strategy of calling something what it isn’t begins at the top. In the Zelman v Simmons-Harris decision of 2002, the conservative majority of the US supreme court lined up in a 5-4 decision to rule that an Ohio vouchers program did not violate the clause of the first amendment that prohibits the government from establishing religion, even though 96% of the students in the program wound up in religiously affiliated schools. The majority claimed that since the parents were free to choose among a variety of schools, the state was not involved in any establishment of religion. In his dissent, Justice Souter observed:

“This result violates every objective the establishment clause has ever been thought to serve.”

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on School vouchers and the religious subversion of church-state separation

USDA: California cow infected with mad cow disease

From Raw Story:

By Andrew Jones
Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed Tuesday afternoon that a cow in California was infected with mad cow disease.

USDA Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford released a statement on the finding.

“As part of our targeted surveillance system, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has confirmed the nation’s fourth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a dairy cow from central California,” Clifford said. “The carcass of the animal is being held under State authority at a rendering facility in California and will be destroyed.”

Clifford noted that despite the report, the cow’s meat did not enter the food chain and that food products are safe.

“It was never presented for slaughter for human consumption, so at no time presented a risk to the food supply or human health,” he said. “Additionally, milk does not transmit BSE.”

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on USDA: California cow infected with mad cow disease

Noam Chomsky on America’s Declining Empire, Occupy and the Arab Spring

From Alternet:

According to Chomsky, America’s declining power is self-inflicted.

By Joshua Holland
April 24, 2012

Last year, the Occupy Movement rose up spontaneously in cities and towns across the country, radically shifted the discourse and rattled the economic elite with its defiant populism. It was, according to Noam Chomsky, “the first major public response to thirty years of class war.” In his new book, Occupy, Chomsky looks at the central issues, questions and demands that are driving ordinary people to protest. How did we get to this point? How are the wealthiest 1 percent influencing the lives of the other 99 percent? How can we separate money from politics? What would a genuinely democratic election look like?

Chomsky appeared on this week’s AlterNet Radio Hour. Below is a transcript that’s been lightly edited for clarity. (You can listen to the whole show here.)

Joshua Holland: I want to just ask you first about a few trends shaping our political discourse. I’ve read many of your books, and the one that I probably found influential was Manufacturing Consent. You co-authored that in the late 1980s and since then we’ve seen some big changes. The mainstream media has become far more consolidated, and at the same time we’ve seen a proliferation of other forms of media. We have the alternative media outlets — online outlets like AlterNet — various social media. Looking at these trends, I wonder if you think that the range of what’s considered to be acceptable discourse has widened or narrowed further?

Noam Chomsky: Actually Ed Herman and I had a second edition to that about 10 years ago with a new, long introduction. At that time we didn’t really think much had changed, but if we were to do one now we would certainly want to bring in what you’ve just mentioned. Remember we were talking about the mainstream media. With regard to them I think pretty much the same analysis holds, although my own feeling is that, say since the 1960s, there has been some broadening and opening through the mainstream — the effect of the activism of the ’60s, which changed perceptions, attitudes, and civilized the country in many ways. Topics that are freely talked about today were invisible, and, if visible, then unmentionable 50 years ago.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Anarchism, Class War, Corporate Abuse, Economic Issues, Uncategorized. Comments Off on Noam Chomsky on America’s Declining Empire, Occupy and the Arab Spring

Why Fukushima Is A Greater Disaster Than Chernobyl

From Counter Currents:

By Robert Alvarez
24 April, 2012
Institute for Policy Studies

The radioactive inventory of all the irradiated nuclear fuel stored in spent fuel pools at Fukushima is far greater and even more problematic than the molten cores.

In the aftermath of the world’s worst nuclear power disaster, the news media is just beginning to grasp that the dangers to Japan and the rest of the world posed by the Fukushima-Dai-Ichi site are far from over. After repeated warnings by former senior Japanese officials, nuclear experts, and now a U.S. Senator, it is sinking in that the irradiated nuclear fuel stored in spent fuel pools amidst the reactor ruins may have far greater potential offsite consequences than the molten cores.Fukushima’s devastation two weeks after the tsunami.

After visiting the site recently, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote to Japan’s ambassador to the U.S. stating that, “loss of containment in any of these pools could result in an even greater release than the initial accident.”

This is why:

  •  Each pool contains irradiated fuel from several years of operation, making for an extremely large radioactive inventory without a strong containment structure that encloses the reactor cores;
  • Several pools are now completely open to the atmosphere because the reactor buildings were demolished by explosions; they are about 100 feet above ground and could possibly topple or collapse from structural damage coupled with another powerful earthquake;
  • The loss of water exposing the spent fuel will result in overheating can cause melting and ignite its zirconium metal cladding – resulting in a fire that could deposit large amounts of radioactive materials over hundreds of miles.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Why Fukushima Is A Greater Disaster Than Chernobyl