Some Memorial Day Early Rock and Roll

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Carmen Carrera and Janet Mock on Lorena Escalera, Media Justice, and ‘Utmost Fabulosity’

From The Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/emerson-whitney/carmen-carrera-janet-mock-lorena-escalera_b_1542649.html


05/26/2012

A wildly insensitive New York Times article on the life and death of trans artist and drag performer Lorena Escalera flared tensions between the gender-variant community and the paper when it was published as part of the Sunday edition on May 14. The article, called “Woman Dies in a Brooklyn Fire That Is Deemed Suspicious,” served as a painful exemplar of the media’s salacious, oversexualized understanding of trans women of color, said Carmen Carrera, Escalera’s friend and fellow trans-identified drag performer. Carrera is most widely known for her performance on the third season of Logo reality series RuPaul’s Drag Race.

“You know what it is? I knew Lorena from shows we did in the New York City scene,” said Carrera in an interview with me. “She was much more than what they were trying to portray her as. She was always happy, always having a good time. And she was definitely a big inspiration to me.”

Escalera, whose success as a drag performer likely inspired many, was a direct influence on Ms. Carrera, who recently came out as transgender herself.

“When I read that article, I was like, ‘Wow, are you serious?'” she said. “They put her gender above everything else. My first thought was, ‘When I die, is that how it’ll be? Nothing’s going to matter besides my gender? Nothing I do for others, nothing else? What’s the point, then?'”

Carrera described her disgust with The New York Times‘ depiction of Escalera as “curvaceous” and the fact that the writers of the article (Al Baker and Nate Schweber) depicted Escalera as a 25-year-old woman who “often drew admiring glances in the gritty Brooklyn neighborhood where she was known to invite men for visits to her apartment.”

“If she was a non-trans female that was killed, they wouldn’t have described her like that,” she said. “The article makes it OK to portray trans people like, ‘Oh, she was an escort. Oh, she was promiscuous.’  It’s just disrespectful and shows so much ignorance.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/emerson-whitney/carmen-carrera-janet-mock-lorena-escalera_b_1542649.html

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Chile to cover sex change operations

From IOL News:  http://www.iol.co.za/news/world/chile-to-cover-sex-change-operations-1.1304964

May 25 2012

Chile will soon cover sex change surgeries under its public health plan in order to allow citizens of limited means to “recover their true sexual identity,” Health Minister Jaime Manalich said.

Until now such operations were only offered in private clinics at a cost of $20 000 to $30 000, but will now be performed in public hospitals in the capital Santiago, Concepcion and Valparaiso, he said late on Thursday.

Before the reforms, “a poor person had no possibility of completing the process of femininisation or masculinisation,” Rolando Jimenez, head of the Movement for Homosexual Integration and Liberation (Movilh), told AFP.

The cost will now depend on the patient’s income bracket, with the poorest citizens able to get the operations for free.

Complete article at:  http://www.iol.co.za/news/world/chile-to-cover-sex-change-operations-1.1304964

Transsexual People in Sports

Transsexual and transgender people in sports initially involved people who had been assigned male at birth, later having sex reassignment surgery that changed their sex to female.  Part of the procedure involved the administration of appropriate sex hormones.

The Olympics required females to pass a chromosome test.

In the 1970s Renee Richards won the right to compete in women’s tennis.  she was a much better coach of Martina Navratilova than she was a singles player.  She was  a pretty good doubles player which is where older tennis players continue to shine.

Since then the testing of Olympic Athletes has become much more focused on sex hormone levels and other steroid use.

They passed a ruling that permitted post-op transsexual women to compete.

But transsexuals in the news for competing in sports was pretty much a T to F story.

For the last 25 years or so we have had the Gay games which have been open to TS/TG people.

But now T to M folks are also competing.  Some are not taking testo even though they have top surgery and are socially male.

From Sports Illustrated:  http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1198744/1/index.htm

The Transgender Athlete

Playing fields have long been segregated on the basis of sex. But what happens to the athletes whose physiology doesn’t match their gender identity? Against whom do they compete? What obstacles do they face? And how are they being treated by sports’ governing bodies?

PABLO S. TORRE, DAVID EPSTEIN
May 28, 2012

If you’ve never seen the hammer throw up close, especially during a New England winter, the most arresting part of every heave is the conclusion: how hardened earth erupts when the metal comet splits the ground. Weighing nearly nine pounds with a four-foot wire tail, the stainless-steel ball is menacing enough that airports ban it from carry-on luggage. And on a brisk February morning in Williamstown, Mass., every toss by Keelin Godsey offers further proof of its violence.

At 5’9″ and 186 pounds, Godsey is tautly muscular. He wears glasses and is dressed in black from his sneakers to his knit cap, which sheathes his blond, spiky hair. Over and over, from in front of a chain-link backstop, he grips the hammer’s handle and whirls in accelerating circles until it’s no longer clear whether he is spinning the ball or the ball is spinning him. His target distance, 226’4½”, is out on a gravel path beyond the frost-covered craters. That’s the qualifying standard for the London Games—a mark Godsey finally surpassed last month (with a throw of 227’8″) at a meet in Walnut, Calif. With a top three finish at the trials in Eugene, Ore., in June, he will realize his lifelong dream: to make the U.S. women’s Olympic team.

For transgender men and women, the physiological traits that distinguish them as male or female don’t conform to how they feel about themselves. Some have undergone sex reassignment surgery or hormone therapy to make their biological and gender identities match. Others, such as the 28-year-old Godsey, have not: He was born as a female and therefore competes as a female, but he identifies as male. Imagine a body, especially one as finely tuned as an elite athlete’s, feeling inescapably foreign—as if it were intended for the opposite sex. “I take a lot of pride in the fact that I have a good amount of muscle mass, and I’ve done it naturally,” says Godsey. “But in some ways, this is the last body I would ever want.”

A physical therapist who was known as Kelly until his senior year of college, in 2005, Godsey is the first American Olympic contender in any sport to openly identify as transgender. When not competing he dresses and lives as a man, renting a ground-floor duplex in North Adams, Mass., with Melanie Hebert, his fiancée of three years. “I’m a female when I compete,” Godsey says. “Every day I have to sweat, stress and freak out. How do I look? What is someone going to think of me? Is someone going to say something at a track meet?”

Consider something as simple as going to the bathroom. When using men’s rooms—his preference—Godsey usually tries to conceal his chest; in women’s rooms he accentuates it by wearing what he calls tight “girl shirts.” Still, he has been escorted out of an airport ladies’ room by security, interrogated at restaurants and once had to flee a group of snarling men at a truck-stop bathroom in Nebraska.

Continue reading at:  http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1198744/1/index.htm

From Lexie Cannes:  http://lexiecannes.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/transgender-soccer-player-scores-big-against-prejudice/

Transgender soccer player scores big against prejudice

By Lexie Cannes
May 22, 2012

THE GUERRILLA ANGEL REPORT — Miranda Salman, knocked out of a sport known for “masculine ethos,” returns again, this time as a woman, and ends up as one of the top players on an all-women soccer team in Mexico.

Salman previously played soccer professionally as a man, but a broken ankle and harassment over her feminine mannerism put an end to her first go at the game. Marriage, a kid, and sex reassignment surgery followed. Eight years later she’s back on the field, and according to a teammate, she’s the best player on the team.

Salman told her story in an International Day Against Homophobia PR video. Further research into Salman’s background returned a lot of interesting hits, but my Spanish, by a long shot, isn’t good enough for use in the media. If anyone can provide further information about her, post it in this blog’s comment section! I can tell you she has 75,000 subscribers to her personal Facebook page – that’s a heck of a lot of people following a transgender soccer player!

Complete article with photos:  http://lexiecannes.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/transgender-soccer-player-scores-big-against-prejudice/

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It starts in Quebec: Our revolution of love, hope and community

From Rabble, Canada:  http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/ethan-cox/2012/05/it-starts-quebec-our-revolution-love-hope-and-community

By Ethan Cox
May 27, 2012

In almost every report on the social movement now sweeping Quebec, including my own, words like conflict, crisis and stand-off figure prominently. Anger is omnipresent. The anger of protesters, the anger of government, the anger of those supposedly inconvenienced. Pundits scream about mob rule, anarchy in the streets and the dissolution of society as we know it.

Don’t get me wrong, there is anger, present of course. But that is not what you see if you take to the streets, or watch CUTV’s live stream. Pundits can’t stop bemoaning the inconvenience to “ordinary” Montrealers posed by these protests. But I wonder, are there any “ordinary” Montrealers left to inconvenience?

As I write these words there are demonstrations going on in every neighborhood of Montreal. “Casseroles,” where people leave their houses to bang pots in the street every night at 8:00 p.m., have led to marches everywhere. The police cannot keep up. Far flung suburbs like Vaudreuil and Île Perrot, the anglophone West Island and NDG, South Shore suburbs, Québec City, Sherbrooke, Gatineau, Rimouski, Trois Rivières and the list goes on. Some of these places have never seen a demonstration, certainly not since the days of the quiet revolution. Now their streets swell with hundreds, thousands.

The prevailing question in the media is, how do we end this? Supporters and opponents alike seek a “solution” to put an end to the “crisis”. And we need one, those on the streets need to be heard. Actions need to be taken to address the demands of the masses. But what exactly is so bad about what is happening? Why do we need it to end so urgently?

As this movement goes on, and grows by leaps and bounds, it is increasingly clear that it is not a movement of anger, of rage or of hate. It is a movement of love, of community and of hope. People who would be alone in their houses watching TV take to the streets and march with neighbours they never knew they had. Back when we had real communities, they were driven by the coming together of neighbours each night. Instead of watching TV, we met in the street, we exchanged details of our day and we made plans for our future. Just as the “casseroles” cause us to do now.

Continue reading at:  http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/ethan-cox/2012/05/it-starts-quebec-our-revolution-love-hope-and-community

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‘Cancel homosexual superheroes immediately,’ says ‘One Million’ Moms

Wow these people are really freaking pathetic.

It must be horrible to go through life angry that Ellen is in ads for Cover Girl make-up and J.C Penny’s.  Or that companies are treating LGBT/T people as just another part of the community of people they market to.

For years my mother labored under the delusion that my finding the tabloids with April Ashley’s story in them were why I decided to get a sex change operation.

All the while pretending to ignore my being a little girl transkid. Maybe they thought they could abuse me into being a boy.

My having the words gave me power.  Knowing there were others like me meant I wasn’t alone.

But it didn’t make me transsexual. Transsexual was something I was born, not something I chose.

From LGBTQ News:  http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2012/05/cancel-homosexual-superheroes-immediately-says-one-million-moms/


Friday, May 25, 2012

The notoriously anti-gay group that bills itself as One Million Moms, but in reality has only about 47,000 supporters judging by its Facebook page, is now targeting Marvel and DC Comics over their announcements to introduce and marry gay characters in their mainstream comics.

Earlier this week, Marvel Comics announced that its first openly gay hero — Northstar — will marry his boyfriend in mainstream superhero comics’ first same-sex wedding in the June issue of “Astonishing X-Men.”

Marvel’s announcement came on the heels of DC Comics’ revelation that one of its iconic superhero characters will reveal he is gay, also in a June issue.

One Million Moms called the announcements “shocking.”

Children desire to be just like superheroes. Children mimic superhero actions and even dress up in costumes to resemble these characters as much as possible. Can you imagine little boys saying, “I want a boyfriend or husband like X-Men?”

This is ridiculous! Why do adult gay men need comic superheroes as role models? They don’t but do want to indoctrinate impressionable young minds by placing these gay characters on pedestals in a positive light. These companies are heavily influencing our youth by using children’s superheroes to desensitize and brainwash them in thinking that a gay lifestyle choice is normal and desirable. As Christians, we know that homosexuality is a sin (Romans 1:26-27).

Continue reading at:  http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2012/05/cancel-homosexual-superheroes-immediately-says-one-million-moms/

Beyond Corporate Capitalism: Not So Wild a Dream

From The Nation:  http://www.thenation.com/article/168026/beyond-corporate-capitalism-not-so-wild-dream

It’s time to put the taboo subject of public ownership back on the progressive agenda. It is the only way to solve some of the most serious problems facing the nation. We contend that it is possible not only to talk about this once forbidden subject but to begin to build a serious politics that can do what needs to be done in key sectors.

Proposals for public ownership will of course be attacked as “socialism,” but conservatives call any progressive program—to say nothing of the modest economic policies of the Obama administration—“socialist.” However, many Americans are increasingly skeptical about the claims made for the corporate-dominated “free” enterprise system by its propagandists. A recent Pew Research Center poll found that a majority of Americans have an unfavorable view of corporations—a significant shift from only twelve years ago, when nearly three-quarters held a favorable view. At the same time, two recent Rasmussen surveys found Americans under 30—the people who will build the next politics—almost equally divided as to whether capitalism or socialism is preferable. Another Pew survey found that 18- to 29-year-olds have a favorable reaction to the term “socialism” by a margin of 49 to 43 percent.

Public ownership in certain sectors of the economy is the only way to solve some of America’s most pressing problems. Take the financial arena, where the current recession was hatched. Today, five giant banks control more than one-third of all deposits. Wall Street claims this makes it more efficient; but even if the Big Five banks were efficient (which is open to question—how “efficient” are institutions that didn’t know they were carrying a huge backlog of underwater loans?), they were all deeply involved in creating the meltdown that cost taxpayers billions in bailouts, and the overall economy trillions. Numerous economists, left and right, believe that these unbridled operations will inevitably lead to another crisis. JPMorgan Chase’s recent speculative loss of at least $2 billion should be fair warning.

The traditional liberal approach calls for more regulation. But, important as it is, this tool for controlling corporate behavior has been increasingly undermined by fierce lobbying. As Senator Dick Durbin observed, “The banks…are still the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. And they, frankly, own the place.” Most of those who created the mortgage crisis went scot-free, and the financial reforms that have since been enacted are flimsy in many areas and easily evaded. Nearly two years after the Dodd-Frank legislation was approved, only 108 of 398 necessary regulations have been written, 148 deadlines have been missed (67 percent) and nearly two dozen Congressional bills scrapping parts of the law proposed. The draft measures implementing the Volcker Rule (which limits proprietary trading by banks) are so full of holes as to be almost meaningless.

Continue reading at:  http://www.thenation.com/article/168026/beyond-corporate-capitalism-not-so-wild-dream

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Memorial Day: Only the dead have seen the end of war…

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Can Obama Stop Casino Capitalism?

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/05/27-7

by Shamus Cooke
Published on Sunday, May 27, 2012 by Common Dreams

The recent JPMorgan scandal where billions of dollars were lost in risky bets has re-ignited the move to properly regulate the U.S. banking system.

Among those asking for new regulations is Robert Reich, former labor secretary to Bill Clinton. Recently Reich made a plea of sorts to President Obama, whom he wishes would take the commonsense approach to bank regulation by re-installing the depression-era regulation, the Glass-Steagall Act.

Reich’s first sentence places him among those who naively hope that Obama would listen to reason and act boldly, instead of merely putting forth populist catch phrases while obsequiously serving corporations:

“I wish President Obama would draw the obvious connection between Bain Capital and JPMorgan Chase.”

This quote alone proves that Obama’s vilifying of Mitt Romney’s former business venture is hypocritical, since Obama has been simultaneously protecting and praising JPMorgan.  Obama’s populist-style attacks on Mitt Romney are cynical election campaigning.

Reich’s article also points out Obama’s incredible lack of action against the banks that happened during the post financial crisis, assuring that such a crisis will emerge yet again, as the recent JPMorgan scandal has foreshadowed:

“As a practical matter, the Volcker Rule [Obama’s still incomplete regulation attempt] is hopeless. It was intended to be Glass-Steagall lite — a more nuanced version of the original Depression-era law that separated commercial from investment banking. But JPMorgan has proven that any nuance — any exception — will be stretched beyond recognition by the big banks.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/05/27-7

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Let’s Be Less Productive

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/27/opinion/sunday/lets-be-less-productive.html

By TIM JACKSON
Published: May 26, 2012

Farnham, England

HAS the pursuit of labor productivity reached its limit?

Productivity — the amount of output delivered per hour of work in the economy — is often viewed as the engine of progress in modern capitalist economies. Output is everything. Time is money. The quest for increased productivity occupies reams of academic literature and haunts the waking hours of C.E.O.’s and finance ministers. Perhaps forgivably so: our ability to generate more output with fewer people has lifted our lives out of drudgery and delivered us a cornucopia of material wealth.

But the relentless drive for productivity may also have some natural limits. Ever-increasing productivity means that if our economies don’t continue to expand, we risk putting people out of work. If more is possible each passing year with each working hour, then either output has to increase or else there is less work to go around. Like it or not, we find ourselves hooked on growth.

What, then, should happen when, for one reason or another, growth just isn’t to be had anymore? Maybe it’s a financial crisis. Or rising prices for resources like oil. Or the need to rein in growth for the damage it’s inflicting on the planet: climate change, deforestation, the loss of biodiversity. Maybe it’s any of the reasons growth can no longer be safely and easily assumed in any of today’s economies. The result is the same. Increasing productivity threatens full employment.

One solution would be to accept the productivity increases, shorten the workweek and share the available work. Such proposals — familiar since the 1930s — are now enjoying something of a revival in the face of continuing recession. The New Economics Foundation, a British think tank, proposes a 21-hour workweek. It may not be the workaholic’s choice. But it’s certainly a strategy worth thinking about.

But there’s another strategy for keeping people in work when demand stagnates. Perhaps in the long run it’s an easier and a more compelling solution: to loosen our grip on the relentless pursuit of productivity. By easing up on the gas pedal of efficiency and creating jobs in what are traditionally seen as “low productivity” sectors, we have within our grasp the means to maintain or increase employment, even when the economy stagnates.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/27/opinion/sunday/lets-be-less-productive.html

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Nothing Grows Forever

From Mother Jones:  http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2010/05/peter-victor-deficit-growth

Why do we keep thinking the economy will?

By Clive Thompson
May/June 2010 Issue

PETER VICTOR is an economist who has been asking a heretical question: Can the Earth support endless growth?

Traditionally, economists have argued that the answer is “yes.” In the 1960s when Victor was earning his various degrees, a steady rise in gross domestic product (GDP)—the combined value of our paid work and the things we produce—was seen as crucial for raising living standards and keeping the masses out of poverty. We grow or we languish: This assumption has become so central to our economic identity that it underpins almost every financial move our leaders make. It is to economics what the Second Law of Thermodynamics is to physics.

But Victor—now a professor at York University in Toronto—felt something tugging him in the opposite direction. Ecologists were beginning to learn that Earth does have limits. Pump enough pollution into a lake and you can ruin it forever; chop down enough forest and it might never grow back. By the early ’00s, the frailties of the planet were becoming even more evident—and unsettling—as greenhouse gases accumulated and chunks of Greenland’s glaciers began breaking off into the sea. “We’ve had 125,000 generations of humans, but it’s only been the last eight that have had growth,” Victor told me. “So what’s considered normal? I think we live in very abnormal times. And the signs are showing up everywhere that the burden we’re placing on the natural environment can’t be borne.”

In essence, endless growth puts us on the horns of a seemingly intractable dilemma. Without it, we spiral into poverty. With it, we deplete the planet. Either way, we lose.

Unless, of course, there’s a third way. Could we have a healthy economy that doesn’t grow? Could we stave off ecological collapse by reining in the world economy? Could we do it without starving?

Continue reading at:  http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2010/05/peter-victor-deficit-growth

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Corporate America’s rainbow revolution

From Dallas Morning News:  http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/20120523-editorial-corporate-americas-rainbow-revolution.ece

Editorial
Published: 23 May 2012

Corporate America is now leading the way in extending benefits to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees. This quiet revolution has taken place even though it is legal in 29 states, including Texas, to discriminate against employees because of their sexual orientation.

The 2012 report by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, which is the research and education arm of the LGBT civil rights group, reveals a rather remarkable transformation over the last decade. An astonishing 88 of the Fortune 500 companies received perfect scores in the annual Corporate Equality Index, which was even more rigorous this time around because the top rating required employers to extend health insurance coverage without exclusions to transgender employees.

Indeed, a large majority of Fortune 500 companies scored very well because they forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation. If you are an LGBT employee at AT&T, Dell Inc. or AMR Corp. — the three local Fortune 500 companies that received the highest rating possible — the anti-discrimination policies legally protect you where Texas explicitly does not.

The one glaring exception to this positive trend remains Irving-based ExxonMobil. It is the only company to get a negative rating in the index, out of 636 that were scored, including all those on the Fortune 500 list. By comparison, half of the companies in the top 20 of the Fortune 500 list received perfect scores, Chevron among them.

It wasn’t always this way. Before the merger in 1999, Mobil was a pioneer on the equality front. The company included sexual orientation in its nondiscrimination policy and even offered domestic-partner benefits. After the merger, Exxon changed the policy, though benefits were grandfathered for Mobil employees who had been receiving them.

Continue reading at:  http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/editorials/20120523-editorial-corporate-americas-rainbow-revolution.ece

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Messing With Our Minds: The Ever Finer Line Between News and Advertising

From Truth Out:  http://truth-out.org/news/item/9156-messing-with-our-minds-the-ever-finer-line-between-news-and-advertising

By Kingsley Dennis
Thursday, 24 May 2012

The manufacturing of consentis endemic within modern societies. Throughout history, the need to “persuade and influence” has always been manipulated by those people in power as a means to maintain authority and legitimacy. In more recent years, the overall manipulation of the mass public mind has become less about making speeches and more about becoming a pervasive presence within the lives of each individual.

Edward Bernays has often been called “the father of public relations,” as it was his teachings and research that spurred the postwar years of propaganda. Bernays, a nephew of Sigmund Freud, utilized psychological and psychoanalytical ideas to construct an informational system – propaganda – capable of manipulating public opinion. Bernays, apparently, considered that such a manipulative apparatus was necessary because society, in his regard, was composed of too many irrational elements – the people – which could be dangerous to the efficient mechanisms of power (or so-called “democracy”). Bernays wrote that, “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society.”[1] Bearing in mind that Bernays was working in the early 1920s, we can expect the mechanisms of propaganda – mass manipulation – to have progressed to a very advanced degree since then. Within the context of our modern mass societies, propaganda has morphed into a mechanism for not only engineering public opinion, but also for consolidating social control.

Modern programs of social influence could not exist without the mass media. Today it exists as a combination of expertise and knowledge from technology, sociology, social behaviorism, psychology, communications and other scientific techniques. Almost every nation needs a controlled mainstream media if it is to regulate and influence its citizenry. By way of the mainstream media, a controlling authority is able to exert psychological influence upon people’s perception of reality. This capacity works hand in hand with the more physical components, such as enforcing the legal system and national security laws (surveillance and monitoring). State control, acting as a “psychological machine,” instigates specific psychological manipulations in order to achieve desired goals within its national borders (and often beyond). Examples of these psychological manipulations include the deliberate use of specific cultural symbols and embedded signifiers that catalyze conditioned reflexes in the populace. These triggers have included the words “red” and “communist” during the United States’ 1950s McCarthyism, and “Muslim terrorist” during the currently constructed war on terror. Targeted reactions can thus be achieved, making the populace open to further manipulation in this state. This is a process of psychic re-formation that works repeatedly to soften up the people through continued and extensive exposure to particular stimuli. These are the symbols, artificial and human-made, that we live by in order to allow for the construction of a compliant society.

Continue reading at:  http://truth-out.org/news/item/9156-messing-with-our-minds-the-ever-finer-line-between-news-and-advertising

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‘Americans don’t share global domination policies of their leaders’

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A Rare Admission That Money Trumps Everything Else

From Truth Dig:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/a_rare_admission_that_money_trumps_everything_else_20120525/

By David Sirota
Posted on May 25, 2012

Headlines transmit information in its rawest form—and the best of headlines crystallize indelible truths. Such was the case this week when the New York Daily News blared this simple but iconic headline: “Cuomo: Minimum Wage Harder to Get Than Gay Marriage.”

The story quoted New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, claiming that the effort to raise wages for the poorest of his constituents represents a “broader and deeper” divide than the recent successful fight to legalize same-sex matrimony in the Empire State. Though the piece quickly dissolved into the ether, it should have received more attention because it is an important Rosetta Stone—one that translates this era’s inscrutable political rhetoric into a clear admission that money trumps everything else.

Decoding this Rosetta Stone requires just a bit of contextual information from Siena College. According to the school’s surveys, only 58 percent of New Yorkers support legalizing gay marriage, while a whopping 78 percent support raising the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.50.

Put Cuomo’s declaration next to those numbers, and the revelation emerges: In a political arena dominated by corporate money, the governor is acknowledging that politicians will champion initiatives that don’t challenge corporate power, but will avoid promoting those that do. Not only that, Cuomo is admitting this is the case regardless of public opinion.

Events in New York illustrate the larger dynamic at work. As The New York Times reported, despite lukewarm public support, Cuomo was able to get the state Legislature to legalize gay marriage after Wall Street financiers dumped cash into the campaign for equal rights. Knowing that marriage doesn’t threaten their profits, these moneyed interests opted to help their ally Cuomo notch a strategic win—one that allows the governor to preen as a great liberal champion to the state’s left-leaning voters, all while he simultaneously presses an anti-union, economically conservative agenda that moneyed interests support.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/a_rare_admission_that_money_trumps_everything_else_20120525/

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Our Silent Spring

From In These Times:  http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/13174/our_silent_spring

Fifty years after Rachel Carson’s warning call, have we learned anything?

BY Molly Bennet
May 21, 2012

Fifty years ago, America was on its way to being the kind of place few species would want to inhabit. Toxic waste flowed into rivers, soot floated out of smokestacks and pesticides were driving some species to the brink of extinction. Then, amid the turbulence of the 1960s and early 1970s, people began to realize that the earth might be something worth protecting. The result was our modern framework of environmental advocacy and regulation: Congress created the Environmental Protection Agency and passed landmark legislation like the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act; advocacy groups like Greenpeace, Environmental Defense Fund and the National Resources Defense Council were born; and older organizations like the Sierra Club were reinvigorated. On April 22, 1970, about 20 million people participated in the first Earth Day. The healing began.

It’s a familiar narrative – and would be a happy one if it ended there. Instead, today we face the gravest environmental threat that humanity has ever known – a threat that our system of environmental protection, so painstakingly constructed, is powerless to address. It’s been 24 years since NASA scientist James Hansen’s testimony before Congress brought global warming to the public’s attention. Yet despite the ceaseless work of activists and scientists, the carbon-fueled industrial economy that is wreaking havoc on the climate is still firmly in place. Neither the government nor the public evinces the will to confront it.

At such a critical moment, it is worth considering the book that first snapped the country out of its complacency and set the environmental movement in motion. In 1962, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring asked us to reconsider the blind rush toward what the industrial world called progress. Carson warned us that by destroying the environment, humans would destroy themselves.

Somewhere along the way, her message has been lost.

Continue reading at:  http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/13174/our_silent_spring

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