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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Daily Caller reporter: Democrats reduced women ‘to a sexual being’

WTF?  People are sexual beings despite what the radical right, religious fanatics and radical feminists seem to think in their disturbed minds.

From Raw Story:

By David Edwards
Thursday, July 12, 2012

A reporter from Tucker Carlson’s conservative website The Daily Caller said on Wednesday that by fighting for birth control and reproductive rights, Democrats had “reduced the American woman to a sexual being.”

During a segment praising Karl Rove’s American Crossroads super PAC for accusing President Barack Obama of waging a “war on women,” Fox News host Sean Hannity told The Daily Caller’s Michelle Fields that Democrats’ plan to paint Republicans as anti-woman had failed.

“I love this ad!” Fields said of the American Crossroads attack. “Democrats love to run away from numbers and facts which is why they created this ridiculous war on women with contraception.”

“And what they did was they basically reduced the American woman to a sexual being whose sole concern is birth control and cheap abortions,” she added. “That is not the American woman. The real American woman cares about the economy, getting a job, helping her family, which is why this ad will be far more effective than the war on women have.”

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Seems like Republican and RadFems will do anything to get feminist’s minds off the right wing war on women, even beat up on TS/TG people.

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The Pain in Spain Falls Mainly on the Plain (Folk)

From Truth Dig:

By Amy Goodman
Posted on Jul 11, 2012

As Spain’s prime minister announced deep austerity cuts Wednesday in order to secure funds from the European Union to bail out Spain’s failing banks, the people of Spain have taken to the streets once again for what they call “Real Democracy Now.” This comes a week after the government announced it was launching a criminal investigation into the former CEO of Spain’s fourth-largest bank, Bankia. Rodrigo Rato is no small fish: Before running Bankia he was head of the International Monetary Fund. What the U.S. media don’t tell you is that this official government investigation was initiated by grass-roots action.

The Occupy movement in Spain is called M-15, for the day it began, May 15, 2011. I met with one of the key organizers in Madrid last week on the day the Rato investigation was announced. He smiled, and said, “Something is starting to happen.” The organizer, Stephane Grueso, is an activist filmmaker who is making a documentary about the May 15 movement. He is a talented professional, but, like 25 percent of the Spanish population, he is unemployed: “We didn’t like what we were seeing, where we were going. We felt we were losing our democracy, we were losing our country, we were losing our way of life. … We had one slogan: ‘Democracia real YA!’—we want a ‘real democracy, now!’ Fifty people stayed overnight in Puerta del Sol, this public square. And then the police tried to take us out, and so we came back. And then this thing began to multiply in other cities in Spain. In three, four days’ time, we were like tens of thousands of people in dozens of cities in Spain, camped in the middle of the city—a little bit like we saw in Tahrir in Egypt.”

The occupation of Puerta del Sol and other plazas around Spain continued, but, as with Occupy Wall Street encampments around the U.S., they were eventually broken up. The organizing continued, though, with issue-oriented working groups and neighborhood assemblies. One M-15 working group decided to sue Rodrigo Rato, and recruited pro bono lawyers and identified more than 50 plaintiffs, people who felt they’d been personally defrauded by Bankia. While the lawyers were volunteers, a massive lawsuit costs money, so this movement, driven by social media, turned to “crowd funding,” to the masses of supporters in their movement for small donations. In less than a day, they raised more than $25,000. The lawsuit was filed in June of this year.

Olmo Galvez is another M-15 organizer I met with in Madrid. A young businessman with experience around the world, Galvez was profiled in Time magazine when they chose “The Protester” as the Person of the Year. Rato’s alleged fraud at Bankia involved the sale of Bankia “preferred stock” to regular account holders, so-called retail investors, since sophisticated investors were not buying it. Galvez explained: “They were selling it to people—some of them couldn’t read, many were elderly. That was a big scandal that wasn’t in the media.” Some who invested in Bankia’s scheme had to sign the contract with a fingerprint because they couldn’t write, nor could they read about, let alone understand, what they were sinking their savings into.

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Cenk Uygur: Mainstream media belongs to advertisers

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Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital Exit Date Called Into Question By Filings

From Huffington Post:


When did Mitt Romney leave Bain Capital?

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee has said that he left the private equity firm in 1999, but new reports indicate that he may have stayed on until 2002.

The Boston Globe reported Thursday on SEC filings dated after February 1999 that state that Romney is the firm’s “sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president.” A 2003 Massachusetts disclosure form says that he owned 100 percent of the company in 2002, and forms indicate that he earned $100,000 as an “executive” in 2001 and 2002, apart from investments.

A Romney official told the Globe that the SEC filings “do not square with common sense.”

“The article is not accurate,” spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement sent to reporters. “As Bain Capital has said, as Governor Romney has said, and as has been confirmed by independent fact checkers multiple times, Governor Romney left Bain Capital in February of 1999 to run the Olympics and had no input on investments or management of companies after that point.”

The story came out the same day that the Romney campaign released a television ad blasting the Obama campaign for lying about his tenure at Bain Capital. But this tactic may only serve to draw more attention to the substance of Obama’s criticisms. As Romney said Wednesday on Fox News, “I respond to the attacks that come, but they say in politics if you are responding, you are losing,” adding that it was better to call them “completely off base.”

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Romney Race-Baits after NAACP Speech

From Raw Story:

By Amanda Marcotte
Thursday, July 12, 2012

Since Mitt Romney certainly isn’t going to pick up many—if any—black voters by making a speech for the NAACP, his choice to go there and make a big media stink about it had to be about something else. There’s a couple of interpretations of his behavior. Jamelle Bouie offered the best I’ve seen:

The point of this address to the NAACP was to send a signal to right-leaning, suburban white voters—that Mitt Romney is tolerant, and won’t represent the bigots in his party. But there’s a sense in which Romney had it both ways: Not only did he reassure hesitant whites, but by pledging to repeal Obamacare—and being booed by the audience—he likely increased his standing with those who do resent African Americans. By going to an audience of black professionals and sticking with his stump speech, there’s a sense in which Romney might receive credit for refusing to “pander.”

My sense of this was that it was actually far more about shoring up the racist narrative than signaling tolerance to right-leaning, suburban white voters, mainly because I’ve never noticed these voters giving a moment’s pause to the idea of switching candidates merely because they fear being associated with outspoken racists.

My suspicion was that it’s more about the latter benefit Jamelle spells out: shoring up support with a racist base. That the narrative Romney is trying to establish is, “Gosh, I tried to reach out to Those People and talk some sense into them, but they’re just too lazy and greedy to listen.” It feeds into larger narratives about how Obama is just trying to steal money from the white man and give it to black people, which in turn satisfies the constant conservative hunger to be assured that they can’t be racists, because they’re the real victims here.

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Mitt Romney’s offer of government of billionaires, for billionaires, by billionaires

From The Guardian UK:

In the Romney candidacy, the Republican party has found the apotheosis of the fact that it now represents solely the super-rich, Thursday 12 July 2012

“Too much money” sounds like an oxymoron, especially when applied to American politics. But in the last week, Republicans are beginning to learn that lots of money can have its downside. Thursday’s story that Romney may have actively directed Bain Capital three years longer than he claimed – a period in which Bain Capital-managed companies experienced bankruptcies and layoffs – caps what must be the worst weekly news cycle of any modern American presidential candidate. From images of corporate raiding, to luxury speedboats, to offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands, to mega-mansions in the Hamptons, this week’s stories suggest that the candidacy of Mitt Romney – poster-boy for the symbiotic relationship between big money and the modern Republican party – is in serious trouble.

Last weekend’s photos of the Romney clan on a luxury speedboat cruising around a lake in New Hampshire, where their multimillion-dollar compound sits, were startling in their tone-deafness. And just to make sure the sentiment wasn’t lost on anyone, at a campaign event the same week, Obama recounted childhood memories of touring the US with his grandmother by Greyhound bus, even the thrill of staying at a Howard Johnson motel. In a smart political calculation, the Obamas chose to forgo their annual summer vacation in Cape Cod (a nice upper-middle class vacation spot, mind you, but nowhere near the same league as the Romney estate). Instead, Obama was photographed visiting a senior citizens’ home in the battleground state of Ohio.

And the hits kept coming. Next, Vanity Fair published an article listing the Romneys’ various offshore investment accounts worth potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in the secretive tax havens of Cayman Islands and Bermuda, as well as a since-closed Swiss bank account. Democrats stoked the predictable outrage from the revelations. On the Sunday ABC news program “This Week”, Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley thundered:

“Mitt Romney bets against America. He bet against America when he put his money in Swiss bank accounts and tax havens and shelters.”

On the same program, Bobbie Jindal, Republican governor of Louisiana, could only lamely respond:

“In terms of Governor Romney’s financial success, I’m happy that he’s a successful businessman.”

While there is no evidence that the Romneys illegally evaded taxes through their various offshore accounts (their secretiveness making it impossible to tell), the reek of entitlement became overwhelming when it was revealed that the Romneys had accumulated somewhere between $20m and $101m in an “IRA”, a tax-advantaged retirement account designed for middle-class savers, limited to a few thousand dollars a year contribution. As one commenter parried, “I may be stupid, but I ain’t no fool.” In other words, we might be too stupid to understand how Romney was able to obtain all these tax breaks legally, but we aren’t fooled about unfairness of it all.

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