Friday Night Fun and Culture: Woody Guthrie

Woody Guthrie was born July 14, 1902.

Tomorrow is the One Hundredth Anniversary of Woody’s birth.

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Lauren Foster, Transgender Model, And Alex Davis, Transgender Musician, Discuss Trans Issues

From Huffington Post:

Posted: 07/12/2012

Since launching our Voice to Voice conversation series in January, we’ve tackled lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender literature, Black History Month, bullying, Pride and more.

Today we bring you a chat between transgender model Lauren Foster and transgender musician Alex Davis.

Lauren Foster was born in South Africa and is one of the world’s most recognized transsexual women, having been one of the first to pose for Vogue Mexico in the 1980’s. She began transitioning in her teens and by 17 she was undergoing hormone therapy and living full-time as a female. At the age of 18 she underwent sex reassignment surgery, which was performed by world renowned surgeon Derk Crichton. She has worked with world famous party promoter Jeffery Sanker, iconic musician Grace Jones, appeared in Dirk Shafer’s film “Circuit” and continues to model, recently appearing in D’Luxe magazine. She is married and splits her time between Miami Beach and Cape Town. Foster is working on her memoir, “Danse Sauvage – The Life and Times of International Transsexual, Lauren Foster.”

Singer-songwriter Alex Davis was born and raised in Los Angeles and has been writing and performing music since childhood. His music has been featured on numerous TV shows including MTV’s “Pranked” and “Bad Dog” on Animal Planet and he is a regular on the L.A. music scene where he performs at venues like The Key Club, The Knitting Factory and Highways Performance Space. His stage show, “Alex Davis: Man Of The Year,” was rated #1 in Time Out‘s “Critics’ Picks” and #5 on the Advocate‘s “Hot Sheet”. He’s currently working on his highly anticipated forthcoming album, the complete soundtrack to his one-man stage show.

Here, Lauren and Alex discuss their unique bond and friendship, being photographed by Greg Gorman, how being transgender affected their childhoods and more.

Lauren Foster: There are really two beginnings to our journey together, Alex. The first: Our childhoods, which were worlds apart. You in Hollywood and me in a small colonial outpost in South Africa. The second: When we met in the studio of celebrity photographer and image-maker, Greg Gorman.

Alex Davis: I totally did not expect that day at Greg’s to change my life the way it did. I’ve met so many people since I’ve transitioned who have been awesome, but you were the first person outside my family to tell me outright that I’m not just a transman, I’m a man, no two ways around it. Not a second-rate man, which is what I feared I would always be seen as. Growing up in Hollywood, I was consistently bombarded with messages that told me that transgender people are contemptible, or at best, “fascinating freaks of nature.” You sat across from me and told me I had to believe otherwise if I was going to live at all, words from the ultimate glamorous woman herself. From what you’ve told me, it sounds like you are on the fearlessly honest path of knowing who you are and making yourself a visible reality long before most transgender people. And you credit your parents with creating that condition for you.

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Lesbian Super Pac to spend big in fight for gay and women’s rights

From The Guardian UK:

Billie-Jean King and Jane Lynch among stars backing LPAC, which says it will back candidates who share its equality mission, Wednesday 11 July 2012

A group of high-profile lesbians on Wednesday launched a political action committee dedicated to raising cash and campaigning on gay and women’s rights issues in America.

The organisation, called LPAC, is backed by famous gay women such as tennis legend Billie Jean King and Glee’s Jane Lynch, and will have the power under new campaign finance laws in the US to generate and spend unlimited funds.

The organisation is aiming to raise at least a million dollars for the 2012 election cycle, which it wants to use to back candidates who share its equality mission or campaign against measures aimed at suppressing gay rights, such as moves to ban same-sex marriage.

LPAC’s organisers said gay rights and women’s health issues were a key priority in American politics, especially in the face of Republican efforts to campaign against equal marriage and pass laws that restrict or hamper access to abortion clinics.

“The Republican party is continuing to attack lesbian’s rights and women’s rights. I want to wake up the day after the election and know that I did everything I could to defeat that,” said Sarah Schmidt, LPAC’s chair and a Chicago businesswoman.

Schmidt said that the idea for forming LPAC had been first floated last autumn and that by early this year its backers had established that they could easily raise the cash to form the committee and had attracted a list of willing donors to its cause. “It really gained steam as we talked about it. We saw that this was viable,” Schmidt said.

LPAC is now expected to focus its attention on the race between President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney. Obama has recently won widespread acclaim from gay rights groups for coming out in support of gay marriage and also for allowing gay personnel to serve openly in the US military.

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07/11 Police Violence Greets Guitarmy Drummer in Zucotti Park

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The Shocking Truth About Joe Paterno, Penn State and Governor Tom Corbett

From The Nation:

Dave Zirin
on July 12, 2012

“It is very simple: Joe Paterno was a criminal.”   —Jeff Passan, Yahoo Sports

After seven months, 400 interviews and the review of more than 3.5 million documents, Louis Freeh has completed his report on the dark underside of Penn State University, and it will stun even the most cynical among us. The former FBI director was given, we were told, “free rein” to investigate the institutional failures that compelled school President Graham Spanier, Athletic Director Tim Curley, director of campus police Gary Schultz and legendary football coach Joe Paterno, to cover up allegations that revered former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky was a serial child predator. In the immediate wake of Sandusky’s conviction on forty-five counts of various acts of child abuse, Freeh’s 267-page report is shocking for what it reveals and shocking, frankly, for what it doesn’t reveal. The report constitutes nothing less than a death blow to the school’s reputation. Its conclusions, that those in positions of power at Penn State showed a “total disregard” for the safety of vulnerable children, will echo for years. We can reasonably expect this school with a $4.6 billion budget, a $1.8 billion endowment and 96,000 students to be inalterably crippled for the foreseeable future. Civil lawsuits, criminal lawsuits and hot pressure on the NCAA to shut down the lucrative football program will all result from this report. It also, as suspected, constitutes a death blow to what was left of the reputation of the most successful, respected coach in the history of college football, Joe Paterno. There were many cynical about the report before its release, saying, “We’ll learn that Joe Paterno covered up Sandusky’s child abuse to protect the football program. We already knew this.” But there is so much in the report we didn’t know. We didn’t know, as Freeh writes on page 39, that “several staff members and football coaches regularly observed Sandusky showering with young boys” before May 1998.

We didn’t know that there was evidence Joe Paterno knew about formal allegations against Sandusky as far back as 1998, four years before his assistant Mike McQueary walked in on Sandusky raping an 11-year-old boy in the Penn State showers, and then reported it to the coach. A supposedly shocked Paterno told Washington Post reporter Sally Jenkins shortly before his death that he didn’t know what to do upon hearing McQueary’s story because he’d “never heard of rape and a man.”

We didn’t know that when Sandusky was forced into retirement in 1999, he received in Freeh’s words, “an unusual lump sum payment of $168,000” as well as full use of team facilities.

We didn’t know that Paterno, well aware of every sick allegation, wanted Sandusky in 1999 to stay as “Volunteer Position Director–Positive Action for Youth.”

We didn’t know that Sandusky had the gall to ask the school to open, in his name, a football camp for middle school boys.

And most criminally, we didn’t know, according to Freeh, that in 2001 Schultz and Curley agreed to go to authorities but changed their mind after Curley discussed their plan with Paterno. At one point, Spanier said that if Sandusky quietly sought help, they’d turn a blind eye.

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America the Beautiful: A Fire Sale for Foreign Corporations

From Truth Out:

By Dr Brian Moench
Tuesday, 10 July 2012

This may be one of the most important stories ever ignored by the so-called “lame-stream, liberal” media. It’s unlikely you’re losing sleep over US trade negotiations, but the unfolding business agreement among the US and eight Pacific nations -the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – should cause every US citizen, from the Sierra Club to the Tea Party to get their pitch forks and torches out of the closet and prepare to “storm the Bastille.”

The TPP negotiations have been going on for two years under extreme secrecy, no information has been made available to either the press or Congress about the US position. But on June 12, a document was leaked to the watchdog group, Public Citizen, revealing the current US position and the reason for the secrecy. The contents are surreal, shocking and prima facia evidence for how corporations have become the master puppeteers of our government.

The leaked document reveals that the trade agreement would give unprecedented political authority and legal protection to foreign corporations. Specifically, TPP would (1) severely limit regulation of foreign corporations operating within US boundaries, giving them greater rights than domestic firms; (2) extend incentives for US firms to move investments and jobs to lower-wage countries; and (3) establish an alternative legal system that gives foreign corporations and investors new rights to circumvent US courts and laws, allowing them to sue the US government before foreign tribunals and demand compensation for lost revenue due to US laws they claim undermine their TPP privileges or their investment “expectations.”

Despite the North American Free Trade Agreement’s (NAFTA) failures, corporations are arm-twisting the federal government to pursue trade agreements as inevitable and necessary for economic progress. But 26 of the 28 chapters of this agreement have nothing to do with trade. TPP was drafted with the oversight of 600 representatives of multinational corporations, who essentially gave themselves whatever they wanted; the environment, public health, worker safety, further domestic job losses be damned.

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Americans lose faith in mainstream media

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