The Reality of the NYPD Patrol Guide Changes for Trans* and Gender Nonconforming People

From Huffington Post:


It has been a few weeks since the NYPD announced on June 12th that they are amending their patrol guide to include information on how to treat transgender and gender nonconforming people.

I am an abolitionist; I believe that the prison industrial complex is not serving anyone, especially people of color and gender nonconforming folks. While I applaud the work that many people, including the NYPD LGBT Advisory Panel and LGBT advocacy groups throughout the city have done over the years, I am still concerned.

The changes to the NYPD patrol guidelines also make the NYPD consistent with the city’s Human Rights Law. In April 2002, the New York City Human Rights Law, located in Title 8 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York, was amended to make it clear that an individual’s gender identity is an area of protection under the law. It has been clear since 2002 that gender nonconforming people are included.

However, the NYPD seems to follow its own set of guidelines and this change to the patrol guidelines was necessary. Theses changes are something that I and many others have been calling for for years. The new guidelines protect gay and lesbian people as well by prohibiting the use of discourteous or disrespectful remarks regarding a person’s sexual orientation in addition to a person’s gender identity/expression.

However, these guidelines do not stop people from being stopped and frisked. In October 2011, when I was arrested on Brooklyn Bridge as part of an Occupy Wall Street action, I was arrested because of my political stance, not because of who I am. I was mistreated because I am trans but my arrest was not because I am gender nonconforming. According to the NYCLU, in the first three months of 2012, New Yorkers were stopped by the police under stop and frisk 203,500 times. 54% of those stopped in the beginning of 2012 were black, 33% latino and 89% were found innocent. We need to all band together and be clear that we do not want to live in a police state.

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Rift Forms in Movement as Belief in Gay ‘Cure’ Is Renounced

From The New York Times:

Published: July 6, 2012

For more than three decades, Exodus International has been the leading force in the so-called ex-gay movement, which holds that homosexuals can be “cured” through Christian prayer and psychotherapy.

Exodus leaders claimed its network of ministries had helped tens of thousands rid themselves of unwanted homosexual urges. The notion that homosexuality is not inborn but a choice was seized on by conservative Christian groups who oppose legal protections for gay men and lesbians and same-sex marriage.

But the ex-gay movement has been convulsed as the leader of Exodus, in a series of public statements and a speech to the group’s annual meeting last week, renounced some of the movement’s core beliefs. Alan Chambers, 40, the president, declared that there was no cure for homosexuality and that “reparative therapy” offered false hopes to gays and could even be harmful. His statements have led to charges of heresy and a growing schism within the network.

“For the last 37 years, Exodus has been a bright light, arguably the brightest one for those with same-sex attraction seeking an authentically Christian hope,” said Andrew Comiskey, founder and director of Desert Stream Ministries, based in Kansas City, Mo., one of 11 ministries that defected. His group left Exodus in May, Mr. Comiskey said in an e-mail, “due to leader Alan Chambers’s appeasement of practicing homosexuals who claim to be Christian” as well as his questioning of the reality of “sexual orientation change.”

In a phone interview Thursday from Orlando, Fla., where Exodus has its headquarters, Mr. Chambers amplified on the views that have stirred so much controversy. He said that virtually every “ex-gay” he has ever met still harbors homosexual cravings, himself included. Mr. Chambers, who left the gay life to marry and have two children, said that gay Christians like himself faced a lifelong spiritual struggle to avoid sin and should not be afraid to admit it.

He said Exodus could no longer condone reparative therapy, which blames homosexuality on emotional scars in childhood and claims to reshape the psyche. And in a theological departure that has caused the sharpest reaction from conservative pastors, Mr. Chambers said he believed that those who persist in homosexual behavior could still be saved by Christ and go to heaven.

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Google: ‘Legalize Love’ campaign isn’t about gay marriage

From The Washington Post:


The Internet has been buzzing this weekend over a reported announcement by Google that it is launching a worldwide push to legalize same-sex marriage. However, the tech giant says its new “Legalize Love” campaign isn’t about gay marriage at all, but rather supporting workers in countries that criminalize homosexuality.

“‘Legalize Love’ is a campaign to promote safer conditions for gay and lesbian people inside and outside the office in countries with anti-gay laws on the books,” said a Google spokesperson in a statement.

The internationally focused campaign will launch Monday at an LGBT conference in London. Ernst & Young and Citigroup have signed on as partners, the spokesperson said.

CNN reports that Legalize Love “will focus on countries such as Singapore, where certain homosexual activities are illegal, and Poland, which has no legal recognition of same-sex couples.”

The confusion over the focus of the campaign appears to have started with a post at, which reported that Google hoped to inspire “countries to legalize marriage for lesbian, gay, and bisexual people around the world.”

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Most fraud is committed by bosses

From The Guardian UK:

Research reveals managers are responsible for 61% of all money taken from within companies, or £206m, Sunday 8 July 2012

If fraud is usually an inside job, most of it is perpetrated by the bosses of companies involved, according to research by accountants KPMG.

Fraud committed from within organisations by management or employees made up 61% of the value of all cases in the accountancy firm’s latest fraud barometer, covering the first six months of 2012.

Finance directors, chief executives and other senior managers were responsible for 55%, by value, of all the cases KPMG analysed. The level of fraud by management has remained stubbornly stable, at £206m.

According to the report, losses from UK fraud dropped sharply to £374m between January and June, from £1.1bn in the same period last year as fewer “super fraud” cases, including large VAT carousel frauds, were finalised.

The number of cases being prosecuted rose to 136 from 131 in 2011.

Hitesh Patel, UK forensic partner at KPMG, said: “The extent and impact of fraud perpetrated from within businesses has historically been masked by a handful of exceptionally large cases coming to court, but the fall in such ‘super’ cases now shines a spotlight on the chronic and pernicious threat to businesses in these austere times.”

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Weimar America: Four Major Ways We’re Following In Germany’s Fascist Footsteps

From Alternet:

What happens when a mature industrial nation turns its back on democracy and lets its right-wing elite destroy the middle class? We’ve seen this movie before.

By Robert Cruickshank
July 5, 2012

What happens when a nation that was once an economic powerhouse turns its back on democracy and on its middle class, as wealthy right-wingers wage austerity campaigns and enable extremist politics?

It may sound like America in 2012. But it was also Germany in 1932.

Most Americans have never heard of the Weimar Republic, Germany’s democratic interlude between World War I and World War II. Those who have usually see it as a prologue to the horrors of Nazi Germany, an unstable transition between imperialism and fascism. In this view, Hitler’s rise to power is treated as an inevitable outcome of the Great Depression, rather than the result of a decision by right-wing politicians to make him chancellor in early 1933.

Historians reject teleological approaches to studying the past. No outcome is inevitable, even if some are more likely than others. Rather than looking for predictable outcomes, we ought to be looking to the past to understand how systems operate, especially liberal capitalist democracies. In that sense, Weimar Germany holds many useful lessons for contemporary Americans. In particular, there are four major points of similarity between Weimar Germany and Weimar America worth examining.

1. Austerity. Today’s German leaders preach the virtues of austerity. They justify their opposition to the inflationary, growth-creating policies that Europe desperately needs by pointing to the hyperinflation that occurred in 1923, and became one of the most enduring memories of the Weimar Republic. Yet the austerity policies enacted after the onset of the Depression produced the worst of Germany’s economic crisis, while also destabilizing the country’s politics. Cuts to wages, benefits and public programs dramatically worsened unemployment, hunger and suffering.

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Christo-Nazi Bryan Fischer: Government Should Mandate that Everyone Attend Church and Tax Those Who Don’t

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Let’s abolish retirement

From The Guardian UK:

The concept of retirement defines life by work – but we should be seeking a better balance for all ages, Monday 2 July 2012

Retirement is not as old as you think. According to the Bible, God expelled Adam from Paradise with the terrible words: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground.” And that’s more or less how it was until about a hundred years ago. Most people worked till they died. Pensions in the UK date from 1908, and the cost of the first pension schemes was tiny, as the retirement age of 70 was 20 years beyond average life expectancy. Retirement was for heaven – if one had lived a virtuous life.

Work has remained central to our existence, despite the lengthening gap between work and death we call retirement. We are expected to work till our sixties and somehow make the best of the dead years to follow. This is a problem for both finance and occupation. Lord Wei wants to fill up retirement with “work, leisure, and service”. His National Retirement Service, proposed in a report published yesterday, would help retirees to “embrace a concept of retirement that is more active, economically and socially … saving taxpayers money and generating health and wealth for all generations“.

In my view this is to get it the wrong way round. We shouldn’t be aiming to extend the domain of work into old age, but to extend the domain of non-work into young age – that is, to abolish the concept of retirement altogether. A rich society no longer has the need to work its labour force into the grave. It already has “enough”.

In his futuristic essay “Economic possibilities for our grandchildren”, published in 1930, the economist John Maynard Keynes thought that by now, we would not need to work more than a 15-hour week to secure a standard of life four or five times higher than in 1930.

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Job Insecurity: It’s the Disease of the 21st Century, and It’s Killing Us

From Truth Out:

By Lynn Parramore
Saturday, 07 July 2012

Remember Dilbert, the mid-level, white-collar Cubicle Guy of the ’90s who could never seem to get ahead? In the 21st century, his position looks almost enviable.

He has been replaced by Waiting-For-the-Other-Shoe-to-Drop Man.

Across America, freaked-out employees are coping with sweat-drenched nights and heart-pounding days. They’re reaching for the Xanax and piling on the work of two or three people. They’re running the risk of short-term collapse and long-term disease.

The hell created by three grinding years of 8 percent-plus unemployment brings us plenty of stories of what people suffer when they lose their jobs. But what about the untold millions who live in chronic fear that tomorrow’s paycheck will be their last?

Research shows that the purgatory of job insecurity may be even worse for you than unemployment. And it’s turning the American Dream into a sleepwalking nightmare. From young temporary workers to middle-aged career veterans, Americans are being pushed to their physical and psychological limits in what has the makings of a major national public health crisis.

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Is Union Busting to Blame for Power Outages in D.C.?

From In These Times:

By Mike Elk
Friday Jul 6, 2012

Yesterday, 15,091 Washington, D.C.-area residents were without power for the sixth day in a row, according to utility company Pepco spokesman Marcus Beal. As D.C. residents face record heat waves, many are upset and attribute the lack of power to incompetence on Pepco’s end. However, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1900 members claim the failure to restore power outages is due to chronic understaffing and Pepco’s shift from hiring union utility workers to non-union temporary contractors.

“We have half the linemen we had 15 years ago,” says IBEW Local 1900 Business Agent Jim Griffin, whose union represents 1,150 Pepco workers. “We have been complaining for a very long time. They have relied for a long time on contractors. They are transients, they don’t know our system, and we typically have to go behind them to fix their mistakes. It’s very frustrating. We take ownership in our work, we make careers out of this.”

Griffin says that starting 15 years ago, Pepco stopped hiring workers to replace retiring electrical workers and offered incentive-laden buyout deals to get electricians to retire. In order to address understaffing problems, Pepco has at times hired non-union temporary contractors, instead of hiring new workers. Griffin estimates that Pepco currently employs 1,150 union workers and approximately 400 non-union contractors. The understaffing has led to problems that the IBEW warned about years ago.

“Everything is keyed on dollars and cents profit,” warned IBEW Utility Director Jim Hunter back in 2005. “Storm outages are longer, and utilities are asking for more and more help from other utilities. The problem is that other companies are in the same boat. And they are still not hiring.”

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Destroying Communities, Abusing Workers: What’s (Still) The Matter With Wal-Mart

From Alternet:

The company that has shaped the modern economy turned 50 this week, but is a growing wave of protest enough to start forcing Wal-Mart to change?

By Sarah Jaffe
July 5, 2012

This past week marked the 50th anniversary of the opening of the first Wal-Mart store. From Rogers, Arkansas, Wal-Mart has sprawled across the globe, opening some 10,000 stores and becoming the world’s second-largest corporation—amassing a fortune for the Walton family, and gutting the American middle class.

With all their money and power, it might seem that Wal-Mart’s hold on the country is unshakeable. Yet the retail giant is facing a bit of a perfect storm in terms of its reputation right now. Revelations of horrific abuses at one of its U.S. suppliers and of bribes the company paid in Mexico, as well as communities fighting fiercely against Wal-Marts in their neighborhoods, are pushing the big-box giant into damage control mode.

Workers at C.J.’s Seafood, a Wal-Mart vendor in Louisiana, have made headlines with a strike against the company—and they’re taking their complaints straight to the top, asking Wal-Mart officials and board members to meet with them to discuss their conditions. They’re guestworkers from Mexico, brought in on H-2B visas to work temporarily in the U.S. preparing crawfish for distribution in Wal-Mart stores.

“Some of us work from 2:00 in the morning til 5:00 or 6:00 in the evening and get no paid overtime,” Marta Uvalle, one of the C.J.’s workers, told AlterNet. “Pressures to work got so bad that the supervisors locked the doors so that we couldn’t take breaks. When the doors weren’t locked we could only take five minute breaks. We were also threatened by the supervisor that if we took too long of a bathroom break or lunch break he would beat us.”

One of the workers finally called 911 for help—which only led to more threats against the workers and their families back in Mexico. Finally, the workers found the National Guestworker Alliance, and organized a strike. Victor Ramos, another of the C.J.’s workers, told AlterNet that they reached out to other guestworkers in other plants and found similar conditions.

“Wal-Mart claims that it has standards for suppliers, so theoretically all they need to do is be enforcing those standards,” Saket Soni, an organizer with the National Guestworker Alliance, told AlterNet. But Wal-Mart has refused to meet with the workers, and claimed to have opened an investigation but found nothing.

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Extreme Weather: Preview or Feature, No One Wants to See the Full Climate Change Show

From Common Dreams:

by Susan Casey-Lefkowitz
Published on Sunday, July 8, 2012 by The Switchboard / NRDC Blog

With 2012 being another year of violent storms, wildfires, floods and extreme heat, we can argue whether this is a preview or the main feature, but no one wants to see the full climate change show. Some still debate whether a specific extreme weather event is due to climate change, but what is clear is that these kinds of events are our future if we don’t change direction.

Last week, my family and millions of others lost electricity for days during a period of 100+ degree temperatures. The past week’s extreme heat was coupled with power outages and damage to homes along a 700 mile swath of destruction from a band of “super derecho” violent thunderstorms that cut trees in half. People in the D.C. region are now seriously debating spending tens of billions of dollars on putting power lines underground. That is one of many un-anticipated costs of climate change.

We are very exposed as a country. The violent storms and extreme heat show how exposed we are, as do the many instances of coastal flooding, flashfloods, droughts and wildfires. We like having big trees in our yards. We like living on the shorelines, in the deserts and on the mountains. But how much longer can we live in places where we are prone to floods, fires, and extreme heat? And where will it be safe if we allow climate change to continue?

We can pretend that ice doesn’t melt when it is hot. The North Carolina legislature tried this with a bill to force sea level rise forecasts to be based on past patterns instead of on forward-looking projections using climate change data. They met with disbelief that any leader could think that ignoring a problem would make it go away. With the US Geological Survey determining that the mid-Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Massachusetts is a ‘hot-spot’ with sea levels already having risen 3-4 times faster than the global average over the last two decades, coastal communities are having serious conversations about what this means for their future.

Modern society is based on trust. For example, airlines have to be safe or people won’t fly. Banks and the financial system need to be safe or people won’t invest. Our energy choices also need to be trustworthy.  I can’t think of anything worse that taking away people’s trust when it comes to their safety in their homes and daily lives. Yet we are on a business as usual path that depends on fossil fuels and does not do enough to curb climate change pollution.

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Unrelenting Heat Wave Bakes All in Its Reach

From The New York Times:

By and
Published: July 7, 2012

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — An unrelenting and record-setting heat wave peaked this weekend, beating a broad swath of states into sweaty submission, with above-normal triple-digit temperatures stretching from St. Louis to Washington.

The searing heat withered crops in the fields, buckled roadways and caused at least two train derailments. At least 36 weather-related deaths have been reported since the temperatures first shot up 10 days ago.

“I’m avoiding the outside world,” Monica Fuhrman, 21, of Centreville, Va., said Saturday morning in Washington as she walked through Dupont Circle on her way to an indoor conference at Howard University. “I can’t handle heat like this. It’s too miserable.”

More than 200 record highs were broken on Friday throughout the Midwest and along the East Coast. And more records fell on Saturday. In Washington, the high was 105, which was a record for the day and 1 degree shy of the hottest temperature ever recorded there.

In St. Louis, the thermometer hit triple digits before 11 a.m., extending the city’s record streak of 100-degree days to 10 in a row.

The St. Louis medical examiner confirmed three heat-related deaths and said it was investigating six more. In Chicago, the authorities said the heat had claimed at least six lives as of Friday night. In Virginia, officials reported 10 heat-related deaths, and 10 people died in Maryland, health officials said.

Many of the deaths have been elderly people found in stuffy homes without air-conditioning.

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