Torie Osborn Crashes the Party

From In These Times:

The spirited California Assembly candidate battles the Democratic establishment.

BY Steve Early
May 24, 2012

In 2008, thousands of Obama campaign volunteers got fired up about electoral politics in a way they hadn’t been before. Four years later, some are now running for office themselves. But few have made a bigger splash in local Democratic circles than former In These Times staffer Torie Osborn, a nationally-known advocate for gay and lesbian rights and other progressive causes. Her insurgent campaign for a California Assembly seat has roiled the waters of Los Angeles-area liberalism and bucked the legislative leadership in Sacramento, which is circling the wagons around her main opponent.

If Santa Monica-based Osborn beats Assemblywoman Betsy Butler in the newly-created 50th Assembly district—either on June 5 or in a November general election run-off—her victory over the party establishment will be a Left Coast monument to what might have been possible, in more places, if Obama’s campaign organization (or the Democratic Party) had been serious about grassroots movement building. “There could have been 100, or even 1,000 Torie Osborns, who came out of the network of energized people trying to change American politics in 2008,” says California political consultant Paul Kumar, an admirer of Osborn’s “extraordinary campaign organization.”

Given her strong resume as a community organizer, non-profit organization leader, and influential advisor to several Los Angeles mayors, it’s been surprising to some that Osborn’s well-funded first-time bid for public office wasn’t welcomed by Assembly Speaker John Pérez and other Democratic legislators. After helping to launch this magazine as a founding staff member in the mid-1970s, she played leadership roles in the National Organization for Women, a pioneering Los Angeles clinic for HIV/AIDS sufferers, and the national Gay and Lesbian Task Force that mobilized hundreds of thousands of civil rights marchers in Washington in 1993. While serving as director of Liberty Hill Foundation, and later with United Way, she helped channel millions of dollars from well-heeled Hollywooders into Los Angeles neighborhood projects dealing with gang violence, low-income housing, and environmental issues. Osborn’s latest work, with California Calls, has focused on boosting voter registration in the state and building a coalition to end “loopholes for giant corporate property owners and the requirement of a two-thirds supermajority vote by legislators to increase taxes.”

As San Francisco lawyer and Democratic Party activist Paul Hogarth noted in a February 2012 post on the Bay Area political blog Beyond Chron, California’s just-completed redistricting process has given “Democrats an historic opportunity to pick up seats in November— and win a two-thirds majority that would make Republicans irrelevant.” Instead, Hogarth charged, “[Speaker] Pérez has diverted resources from competitive ‘swing districts’ and is instead meddling into Democratic primary fights in deep-blue seats” so he can “consolidate control at the expense of everything else.” The chances of the Democrats gaining the necessary two additional seats in both houses of the legislature has decreased, as a result.

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Memo to Rio+20: ‘green economy’ doesn’t mean monetising nature

From The Guardian UK:

Official support for marketising nature to stop its destruction means the practical action at Rio+20 will be at People’s summit

Hannah Griffiths
Tuesday 29 May 2012

The 1992 Rio Earth summit established “sustainable development” firmly in the global political lexicon – even though the term meant, and continues to mean, different things to different people. For Stephan Schmidheiny, a CEO who was appointed chief adviser for business and industry at the summit and subsequently set up the World Business Council on Sustainable Development, it apparently means continuing with business as usual: in February, he was sentenced to 16 years in prison for the deaths of thousands of workers at his asbestos-cement factory.

As the Rio+20 anniversary conference approaches, a battle rages over the definition of another term: “green economy“. “A green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication” is a key conference theme. It sounds good, but what does it mean?

According to one of the official preparatory documents (pdf): “Several delegations proposed the valuing of ecosystem services and internalising of environmental externalities as key elements of a green economy, as well as green accounting (pdf); while some delegations cautioned against further marketisation of nature’s services.”

The jargon masks some diametrically opposing views. On one side, many northern governments are saying we trash the natural world because we don’t value it properly. So far, so good. But they go on to confuse “value” with “price”, which is where it all starts to break down. They argue that to conserve or protect the resources and functions we need from nature, we need to ascribe a financial value to them and bring them into the market. Then we will pay the proper price for nature and stop destroying it.

The UK government is a big advocate of this approach, having bought heavily into the recommendations of a report on the subject by a team led by the former Deutsche Bank employee Pavan Sukhdev. It has gone as far as publishing a white paper that commits to pushing the agenda, both in the UK and on the international stage.

A market-based approach to dealing with natural resources is not an entirely new concept. The idea behind the UN’s Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation programme (Redd), for example, is that if the carbon stored in forests is valued and quantified, forests will be seen as more valuable standing than they would be cut down.

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The Oligarchy’s Rule of Law: From Russia to Oklahoma

From Truth Out:

By Mark Ames
Sunday, 27 May 2012

At the end of the 1990s, after the total collapse of the mass-privatization experiment in Boris Yeltin’s Russia, some of the more earnest free-market proselytizers tried making sense of it all. The unprecedented collapse of Russia’s economy and its capital markets, the wholesale looting, the quiet extermination of millions of Russians from the shock and destitution (Russian male life expectancy plummeted from 68 years to 56 years)—the terrible consequences of imposing radical libertarian free-market ideas on an alien culture—turned out worse than any worst-case-scenario imagined by the free-market true-believers.

Of all the disastrous results of that experiment, what troubled many Western free-market true-believers most wasn’t so much the mass poverty and population collapse, but rather, the way things turned out so badly in Russia’s newly-privatized companies and industries. That was the one thing that was supposed to go right. According to the operative theory—developed by the founding fathers of libertarianism/neoliberalism, Friedrich von Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, Milton Friedman and the rest—a privately-owned company will always outperform a state-run company because private ownership and the profit-motive incentivize the owners to make their companies stronger, more efficient, more competitive, and so on. The theory promises that everyone benefits except for the bad old state and the lazy.

That was the dominant libertarian theory framing the whole “shock doctrine” privatization experiment in Russia and elsewhere. In reality, as everyone was forced to admit by 1999, Russia’s privatized companies were stripped and plundered as fast as their new private owners could loot them, leaving millions of workers without salaries, and most of Russia’s industry in far worse shape than the Communists left it.

Most of the free-market proselytizers—ranging from Clinton neoliberal Michael McFaul (currently Obama’s ambassador to Moscow) to libertarian Pinochet fanboy Andrei Illarionov (currently with the Cato Institute)– blamed everything but free-market experiments for Russia’s collapse.

But some of the more earnest believers whose libertarian faith was shaken by what happened to Corporate Russia needed something more sophisticated than a crude historical whitewash.

Lucky for them, Milton Friedman provided the answer to a Cato Institute interviewer: Russia lacked “rule of law”—another neoliberal/libertarian catchphrase that went mainstream in the late 80s. Without “rule of law,” Friedman and the rest of the free-market faithful argued, privatization was bound to fail. Here’s Friedman’s answer in the Cato Institute’s 2002 Economic Freedom of the World Report:

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Conservative Media Try to Reverse Racial Reality

From The Nation:

Ben Adler
on May 28, 2012

Conservatives must be feeling regretful. After nearly fifty years of using appeals to white racial resentment to take over the South, win presidential elections and control of Congress, conservatives are realizing this might come back to bite them in the ass. As the right wing has become xenophobic and anti-Latino, conservatives have watched young Latinos and young Asian Americans join young African-Americans in being overwhelmingly Democratic. The greater diversity of this younger generation has in turn meant that Democrats, especially Barack Obama, have won handily among young voters in recent elections. All of a sudden, conservatives see being the party of angry white males as a potential liability, and they want to change their image.

You can see this concern in Mitt Romney’s recent campaign events touting his substantively thin but rhetorically compassionate education reform agenda. As the Washington Post reported on Romney’s visit to a school in West Philadelphia on Thursday, his first campaign event in a majority black neighborhood: “Mitt Romney’s campaign team has been quietly laying plans for an outreach effort to President Obama’s most loyal supporters—black voters—not just to chip away at the huge Democratic margins but also as a way to reassure independent swing voters that Romney can be inclusive and tolerant in his thinking and approach.” Romney’s campaign insists they are sincere, but they never made any such outreach during the primaries, when they were competing against Newt Gingrich’s successful efforts to appeal to racism in his campaign in South Carolina.

The conservative media are happy to help burnish both white racial anxieties and the official story line that Republicans are the friends of minorities by trying to tell an oddly inverted story of race relations in America. According to National Review’s current cover story by Kevin Williamson, it is the Republican Party which has consistently supported civil rights and Democrats who have opposed it. Meanwhile, conservative blogs, talk radio and Fox News hype random stories of anti-white violence, creating the false impression that whites are more often the victims of hate crimes by blacks than the reverse.

The National Review argument has been thoroughly debunked in many outlets. Over at Democracy Journal, Clay Risen demonstrates “Williamson’s embarrassingly basic misunderstanding of American history.” There used to be liberal pro–civil rights wings and conservative anti–civil rights wings in both parties, hence the misleading factoid commonly cited by conservative pundits that a higher proportion of Republicans than Democrats in Congress voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But it was the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, especially Presidents Kennedy and Johnson, who pushed the issue and got the law passed. Republicans nominated anti–civil rights conservative extremist Barry Goldwater in 1964 and thus began their conversion of the South. Goldwater carried five Southern states despite losing in a landslide. “For a variety of reasons—including, but not only, racial politics—both parties went through ideological realignments in the postwar decades, so that today we speak of Republicans as almost uniformly conservative and Democrats as almost uniformly liberal,” notes Risen. “The GOP of today is simply not the GOP of 1963.” That’s why anti–civil rights Southern conservatives such as Trent Lott, Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms became Republicans. Williamson is simply lying when he writes, “those southerners who defected from the Democratic Party in the 1960s and thereafter did so to join a Republican party that was far more enlightened on racial issues than were the Democrats of the era.”

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Doc Watson 1923-2012

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Conversations w/Great Minds – Paul Krugman – End This Depression

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Christian ‘gay cure’ therapist loses appeal

From Pink News:

28 May 2012

A Christian psychotherapist lost her appeal last week against a ruling by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy that her behaviour in offering to therapeutically change a patient’s sexuality was negligent.

A decision given last week confirmed that Lesley Pilkington had been described by the BACP as “negligent”, “dogmatic” and “unprofessional” in her behaviour after she was approached by undercover journalist Patrick Strudwick.

In 2009, Mr Strudwick had pretended to be a gay Christian struggling with his orientation who wanted to become straight and received two counselling sessions from Ms Pilkington. Ms Pilkington was found guilty of professional malpractice in 2011 and filed an appeal against the decision, which was rejected last week.

Although it did not address gay conversion therapy directly, the appeals panel said the counsellor’s behaviour amounted to “professional malpractice in that Mrs Pilkington had failed to provide the complainant with adequate professional services that could reasonably be expected of a practitioner exercising reasonable skill and care.”

The BACP appeals panel said it was “of the opinion that, given that the complainant presented with depression and unhappiness, it is incumbent upon a practitioner to explore why he was depressed/unhappy and not to take at face value his assertion that it is because of an unwanted same sex attraction. Not to do this and to rush in and assume that the complainant’s depression and unhappiness must follow from his unwanted same sex attraction was below the standard expected of a reasonably competent practitioner.”

Stephen Evans, Campaigns Manager at the National Secular Society said Ms Pilkington was “guilty of religiously inspired bigotry parading as psychotherapy.”

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The World Tomorrow : Occupy

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Plantations, Prisons and Profits

From The New York Times:

Published: May 25, 2012

“Louisiana is the world’s prison capital. The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana’s incarceration rate is nearly triple Iran’s, seven times China’s and 10 times Germany’s.”

That paragraph opens a devastating eight-part series published this month by The Times-Picayune of New Orleans about how the state’s largely private prison system profits from high incarceration rates and tough sentencing, and how many with the power to curtail the system actually have a financial incentive to perpetuate it.

The picture that emerges is one of convicts as chattel and a legal system essentially based on human commodification.

First, some facts from the series:

• One in 86 Louisiana adults is in the prison system, which is nearly double the national average.

• More than 50 percent of Louisiana’s inmates are in local prisons, which is more than any other state. The next highest state is Kentucky at 33 percent. The national average is 5 percent.

• Louisiana leads the nation in the percentage of its prisoners serving life without parole.

• Louisiana spends less on local inmates than any other state.

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Austin – Harvey Milk Day 2012 March The Wedding Party #HMD2012

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LGBT Rights Are Universal Rights, Not Open To A “Healthy” Debate

From Southern Poverty Law Center:

By Christine Sun, Deputy Legal Director

It’s a common sight across the country: A family packs up its belongings and moves to a new state it will call home.

Sometimes it’s a job opportunity that calls. Other times it’s family. These moves are life-changing events for any family, but for LGBT people, the simple act of crossing a state line has even more significance.

It can mean your marriage no longer exists in the eyes of that state.

It can mean the law won’t protect you from discrimination.

It can mean you have fewer parental rights.

This is the reality the LGBT community faces every day thanks to the patchwork of state laws regarding LGBT rights in this country. It’s a reality that exists even after President Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage – a position he said “evolved” from his earlier support of civil unions.

While Obama’s recent announcement is certainly a historic milestone for LGBT rights, he made some troubling remarks that show he must continue to “evolve” on this issue. Otherwise, the LGBT community will continue to see its fundamental rights ebb and flow from state to state.

Sadly, the president says he believes each state should decide the issue of same-sex marriage, saying this approach is a “healthy process” that spurs “healthy debate.” Even more troubling, he framed his support for same-sex marriage as a personal position rather than a civil rights issue.

His position denies the fact that LGBT rights are civil rights. They should not be subject for debate – even a “healthy debate.” And they should not be subject to the whim of the majority by placing them on the ballot.

It’s ludicrous to believe the gains of the civil rights movement would have been achieved by putting the civil rights of black people on the ballot across the Deep South. And today, at the Southern Poverty Law Center, we see how this wrongheaded approach is denying the LGBT community its rights.

Our client Chelsea Hughes watched her parental rights evaporate after the father of her children moved to Alabama. He used the state’s ban on same-sex marriage to deny her right to overnight visitation with her children, solely because she lives with her partner Jaymi. Even though Chelsea and Jaymi are registered domestic partners in Washington state, under Alabama law, Jaymi is considered a “paramour,” as if their committed relationship were no more than a casual fling. The result is that Chelsea has been unable to tuck her four young children into bed for over a year now, while the SPLC continues to fight for her parenting rights.

Chelsea, and countless others like her across the South and elsewhere, cannot wait for their home states to “evolve.” That six states and the District of Columbia have affirmed the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry provides little consolation. For every state that has made advances for the LGBT community, there’s a state where lawmakers exploit the backlash to these gains to pass laws restricting LGBT rights. Just last month, we saw North Carolina inscribe discrimination into their constitution by banning same-sex marriages and civil unions.

Here in Alabama, there is little likelihood that state legislators or the courts will advance laws protecting the LGBT community, much less pass legislation supporting same-sex marriage. This is where Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore in 2002 wrote an opinion in a child custody case that said homosexuality was “abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature and a violation of the laws of nature and of nature’s God.” He also wrote that gay parents were “presumptively unfit to have custody of minor children under the established laws of this state.”

In Alabama classrooms, teachers leading sex education classes where the instruction extends beyond abstinence education are required by law to teach “in a factual manner and from a public health perspective, that homosexuality is not a lifestyle acceptable to the general public and that homosexual conduct is a criminal offense under the laws of the state.”

It’s clear. The tide is not going to turn anytime soon in Alabama or its neighbor states. This means LGBT families will continue to suffer undue hardship because they are not seen as equal in the eyes of the state. Yet, in the same nation, a completely different experience may be found in another state that recognizes LGBT rights.

This patchwork approach is not sustainable. Allowing each individual state to maybe someday come around to recognizing fundamental rights just won’t work, and will only harm our country. These are universal rights. We cannot be a nation that espouses equality for all when so many in the LGBT community, like Chelsea and Jaymi, are forced to check their rights at the door.

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Imagine a World Where The Radical Feminist TS/TG Hating Bigots are treated with the same Contempt as the Religious Right

It’s easy if you try.

Why is it easy?

It is easy because outside of a small circle they are irrelevant.

The secret is they always have been.

They are only important if you let them get inside your head and drive you crazy.

I was fool enough to let them get inside my head.

I thought being accepted by them was somehow important.

When I look around I see a lot of my sisters have felt the same.

We thought that since they claimed to be radical feminists, what they had to say was more important than what most women had to say.

So we let them make us miserable.

We spent all sorts of energy on the Michigan Women’s Hate Fest, even though there are hundreds upon hundreds of other music festivals where they don’t preach anti TS/TG hatred.  Not to mention having much better music.

Instead of wasting energy on protesting the Hate Fest in the woods we could have been going to see our sisters and brothers perform.

I mean we have a shit load of creative people who are sisters and brothers.

Wonderful, amusing talented folks who are often struggling with house concerts and small venues, CDs sold through CD Baby.  Books self-published using CreateSpace and LightningSource.

We need to point out to other people of the queer alphabet soup how much these “Radical Feminists” resemble the members of the Religious Right, how their message is the same  as the one the Christo-Fascists direct at gays and lesbians.

Maybe then the other members of the alphabet soup will get it.

But even if they don’t we shouldn’t let that stop us from imagining and creating a different world where we aren’t treated like sub-humans.

The more I think about it the more I see Jenna’s participation in that Pageant as being a kind of important break through.

I mean why should we give a shit about some bizarre cult of bigots being nice to us when we are starting to break through into main stream culture.

Yes these people need to be confronted but they also need to be treated like the bigoted minority that they are.

I’m going to run some You Tube videos over the next few days of young people talking about being trans and the issues they see as important.

They are the ones who will be the voices of change in a few years and they don’t look upon these tired old “radical feminists” as being relevant in any way.

I was 21 when I started hormones.  That was the age when one could start medical treatment in 1969.  The next year it dropped to 18.  Now kids are transitioning as children, pre-teens and teenagers.

There are new paradigms being created.


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Hate Mongering Bigot, Sheila Jeffreys Claims TS/TG People Are Impinging on Her Right to Preach Hatred and Bigotry

Sheila Jeffreys sounds exactly like all the Christo-Fascists and Neo-Nazis who are preaching homophobia, anti-TS/TG bigotry and hatred in the USA.

This person isn’t a feminist at all.  She is nothing but a tired old bigot.

Now she whips out the Tony Perkins/Porno Pete LaBarbra whine about how having TS/TG people protest her bigotry is bullying and worse than her neo-Nazi screeds.

From The Guardian UK:

Let us be free to debate transgenderism without being accused of ‘hate speech’

Researchers and theorists who question the practice of transgenderism are subjected to campaigns of intimidation, Tuesday 29 May 2012

Criticism of the practice of transgenderism is being censored as a result of a campaign of vilification by transgender activists of anyone who does not accept the new orthodoxy on this issue. A recent Comment is free piece by the transgender activist Roz Kaveney, headlined “Radical feminists are acting like a cult”, criticises a forthcoming radical feminist conference, at which I was to be a speaker, on the grounds that I and “my supporters” may be guilty of “hate speech” for our political criticism of this practice.

Though Kaveney’s comments about me are comparatively mild in tone, the campaign by transgender activists in general is anything but. This particular campaign persuaded Conway Hall, the conference venue, to ban me from speaking on the grounds that I “foster hatred” and “actively discriminate”. On being asked to account for this, Conway Hall appeared to compare me to “David Irving the holocaust denier”. The proffered evidence consists of quotes from me arguing that transgender surgery should be considered a human rights violation – hardly evidence of hate speech.

For several years there has been a concerted campaign via the internet and on the ground, to ensure that I, and any other persons who have criticised transgenderism, from any academic discipline, are not given opportunities to speak in public. I have not yet spoken in public about transgenderism, but do speak about religion and women’s human rights, about pornography, and about beauty practices.

Whatever the topic of my presentation, and whether in Australia, the UK or the US, transgender activists bombard the organising group and the venue with emails accusing me of transhate, transphobia, hate speech, and seek to have me banned. On blogs, Facebook and Twitter they accuse me of wanting to “eliminate” transgendered persons, and they wish me dead. One activist has created an image of a pesticide can bearing a photo of me and the slogan “kills rad fems instantly”. These activists threaten demonstrations and placards against me at any venue where I speak.

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I just love how Nazis get upset when the people they hate turn their violence and abuse back on them.

For over 40 years Transsexual and Transgender people have first been excluded from feminist groups then condemned for not embracing feminist principles and acting like whipping girls for rad-fem hatred and bigotry.

They want us to disappear and we aren’t supposed to fight back.

I was alone when I was first excluded from a feminist group in Berkeley.  Thanks to organizing and the internet we are no longer alone and no longer are one person facing a gang of bigots.

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Since When Did Being an Egalitarian Become a Bad Thing

Anyone who has read this blog for more than a week probably realizes that I’m not going to take being called a Socialist as an insult.  Indeed I occasionally run articles from both World Socialist Web Site and Socialist Worker.

But I must admit having some Rand-hole hurl egalitarian at me is a new experience.

I guess the elitist scum who picture themselves as being among the John Galts of the world have a hard time imagining someone taking a founding father like Tom Paine seriously.

But yes I must admit I believe in all those values the neo-Nazis of the right think are bad.

I think values like fairness and compassion are good things.

I think that equality is a good thing not only for people just like me but for people different from me.  I think it is only right and just to help and care for those knocked down by circumstances.  Worst of all I don’t need some magic invisible sky being who lives in a huge church to tell me to remember that there but for fortune.

I also remember that the people the right wing called communists stood up against Jim Crow long before it was fashionable.  They organized the farm workers.

All I had to do was look at the people who were called communists, Americans like Pete Seeger, institutions like the Highlander Folk Institute.

I’d reather be known as an egalitarian than as a bigot.

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Do Transsexual and Transgender People have a Legitimate Minority Culture?

So one of my commentors demanded to know if I thought that TS/TG people had a minority culture.

I sort of think there is more of a queer minority class and the individual branches of the queer alphabet soup are somewhat intertwined, but it is sort of academic whether TS/TG people are a collective of sub-cultures or a minority culture.

This person also whipped out the “cultural imperialism” argument regarding Thailand “Transgender Beauty Pageants”.  Which is kind of bullshit in the era of globalized electronic communications.

What I find sort of amazing is how once you get past the  imposed majority social  cultures of many societies  is how many things the TS/TG people universally have in common.

But let’s leave international culture aside and look for a moment at a more limited field: Rock and Roll.  there have been a lot of TS/TG musicians and a whole lot more who have in engaged in messing with drag and gender fucking.

Now I get to post links to several articles I’ve had sitting around while I tried to figure out a cohesive way to put them together.  Most of these are centered on the singer in “Against Me”, Laura Jane Grace’s recent coming out.

Against Me!’s Tom Gabel Makes Live Debut as Laura Jane Grace in San Diego

Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace: How “Rolling Stone” Got Her Story (Almost) Right

And for a little history with an invocation of Jayne County’s punk song “Man enough to be a Woman”

Man enough to be a woman and still rock’n’rolling

Bear in mind other sisters have had a less public transition than Laura Grace and have been in area of music with less of an association with a macho ethic.

Some like Namoli Brennet and Veronica Klaus are closer to my present musical likes and have been featured on my Friday Night Fun and Culture.

We tend to make our cultural contributions in a manner in which the TS/TG element is a subtext rather than the  main focus of the work, how can it be otherwise as being part of a sub-culture or minority culture means you still live within the context of a dominant culture.

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Stuff it: Test your mettle by giving up shopping

From Grist:

By Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan
17 May 2012

Nothing like deprivation to muddy up your understanding of “want” vs. “need.”

For instance, here’s a sampling of items I’ve considered “needs” over the past two weeks: new sports bras, shower curtain, new couch pillows, lime-squeezer kitchen gadget, iPad case, duchess satin bridesmaid dress, cat scratching post, and a handmade silver ring shaped like a poppy. This is doubly remarkable, as I’m not really the shopping type. But I’m also in the middle of a self-imposed No New Stuff May, and we all know what happens when you start branding the fruit forbidden.

My No New Stuff month is a challenge not to buy anything brand-new for the 31 days of May (food and certain toiletries obviously excepted, you sickos). Why? I already have everything I need to stay hale and hearty, and my small apartment wouldn’t fit much more stuff, anyway. But really, it’s a small stand against a “Bigger, Better, More!” culture that tosses perfectly good items into landfills and gobbles up new resources to build still more stuff — much of which we don’t even need.

That’s not to say I’m going native, eschewing capitalism, and weaving a new wardrobe out of grass clippings. Under my challenge, buying used stuff from resale shops or Craigslist is street legal, as is repairing broken items and just plain doing without. I began without any pressing needs on the shopping front, curious to discover what desires might pop up as the month went on and how well I’d be able to satisfy them. And just as I used to hide forbidden copies of Sweet Valley High books under my bed as a kid, now that new purchases are taboo I’ve been deluged with strange wants masquerading as needs.

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Illegal kidney trade booms as new organ is ‘sold every hour’

From The Guardian UK:

World Health Organisation estimates 10,000 black market operations involving human organs take place each year

and in Shanghai, Sunday 27 May 2012

The illegal trade in kidneys has risen to such a level that an estimated 10,000 black market operations involving purchased human organs now take place annually, or more than one an hour, World Health Organisation experts have revealed.

Evidence collected by a worldwide network of doctors shows that traffickers are defying laws intended to curtail their activities and are cashing in on rising international demand for replacement kidneys driven by the increase in diabetes and other diseases.

Patients, many of whom will go to China, India or Pakistan for surgery, can pay up to $200,000 (nearly £128,000) for a kidney to gangs who harvest organs from vulnerable, desperate people, sometimes for as little as $5,000.

The vast sums to be made by both traffickers and surgeons have been underlined by the arrest by Israeli police last week of 10 people, including a doctor, suspected of belonging to an international organ trafficking ring and of committing extortion, tax fraud and grievous bodily harm. Other illicit organ trafficking rings have been uncovered in India and Pakistan.

The Guardian contacted an organ broker in China who advertised his services under the slogan, “Donate a kidney, buy the new iPad!” He offered £2,500 for a kidney and said the operation could be performed within 10 days.

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David Barton Says Christian Sharia Law Should Overrule Supreme Court

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Memorial Day Thoughts on National Defense

From Robert Reich:

Robert Reich
Saturday, May 26, 2012

We can best honor those who have given their lives for this nation in combat by making sure our military might is proportional to what America needs.

The United States spends more on our military than do China, Russia, Britain, France, Japan, and Germany put together.

With the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the cost of fighting wars is projected to drop – but the “base” defense budget (the annual cost of paying troops and buying planes, ships, and tanks – not including the costs of actually fighting wars) is scheduled to rise. The base budget is already about 25 percent higher than it was a decade ago, adjusted for inflation.

One big reason: It’s almost impossible to terminate large defense contracts. Defense contractors have cultivated sponsors on Capitol Hill and located their plants and facilities in politically important congressional districts. Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and others have made spending on national defense into America’s biggest jobs program.

So we keep spending billions on Cold War weapons systems like nuclear attack submarines, aircraft carriers, and manned combat fighters that pump up the bottom lines of defense contractors but have nothing to do with 21st-century combat.

For example, the Pentagon says it wants to buy fewer F-35 joint strike fighter planes than had been planned – the single-engine fighter has been plagued by cost overruns and technical glitches – but the contractors and their friends on Capitol Hill promise a fight.

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FAQ # 6 – If There is an Equal Rights Amendment Will Women Be Drafted?

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on FAQ # 6 – If There is an Equal Rights Amendment Will Women Be Drafted?