HHS includes trans people in health care rule that bans sex discrimination

From Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/08/06/hhs-includes-trans-people-in-health-care-rule-that-bans-sex-discrimination/

By Kay Steiger
Monday, August 6, 2012

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) clarified recently that the much-touted rule that says health insurance companies can not discriminate based on sex also extends to trans people.

“This anti-discrimination law, enacted as part of the Affordable Care Act, creates an important new tool to combat anti-LGBT and especially anti-transgender discrimination in health care,” said National Center for Transgender Equality (CTE) Executive Director Mara Keisling in a press release.

This clarification determines that section 1557 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which “extends federal nondiscrimination protections to the health care system for the first time,” according to an analysis by left-of-center policy and advocacy organization the Center for American Progress.

Any trans person who experiences gender discrimination at a hospital, clinic, doctor’s office or other medical center that accepts federal dollars through Medicare or Medicaid can file a complaint with HHS and “expect to have those complaints taken seriously,” according to the CTE press release.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled this spring that gender identity was covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits sex discrimination, offering unprecedented protections for trans people under existing employment discrimination law.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/08/06/hhs-includes-trans-people-in-health-care-rule-that-bans-sex-discrimination/

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Alleged Sikh temple shooter former member of Skinhead band

From Southern Poverty Law Center:  http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/news/alleged-sikh-temple-shooter-former-member-of-skinhead-band#more-9503

By Mark Potok

Wade Michael Page was a member of two racist skinhead bands –– End Apathy and Definite Hate, a band whose album “Violent Victory” featured a gruesome drawing of a disembodied white arm punching a black man in the face. In the drawing, the fist is tattooed with the letters “HFFH,” the acronym for the phrase “Hammerskins Forever, Forever Hammerskins.”

The Hammerskins is a nationwide skinhead organization with regional factions and chapters that once dominated the racist skinhead movement in the United States.

Both of Page’s bands played with a revolving lineup of musicians, and their music was at one time featured on the Hammerskin Nation record label. In 2010, Page and his band mates –– including Brent Rackley, a member of a Confederate Hammerskins chapter in North Carolina –– played at a racist music festival called Independent Artist Uprise in Baltimore. Other bands featured at the show were Blue Eyed Devils and Max Resist, both influential mainstays on the hate music scene.

The man who allegedly murdered six people at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee yesterday, identified in media reports as Wade Michael Page, was a frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band.

In 2010, Page, then the leader of the band End Apathy, gave an interview to the white supremacist website Label 56. He said that when he started the band in 2005, its name reflected his wish to “figure out how to end people’s apathetic ways” and start “moving forward.” “I was willing to point out some of my faults on how I was holding myself back,” Page said. Later, he added, “The inspiration was based on frustration that we have the potential to accomplish so much more as individuals and a society in whole.” He did not discuss violence in the interview.

Complete article at:  http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/news/alleged-sikh-temple-shooter-former-member-of-skinhead-band#more-9503

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Fuck Racism

I am proud to state this blog is anti-racism, anti-bigotry and anti-fascist.

Some people have a problem with that and say I am too left wing, too radical.

So the bigots call me names for telling the truth about the harm done by hate and bigotry, about how it lessens all humanity.

Many bigots love to claim they are only putting forth the message of a higher power, an imaginary invisible bully who lives somewhere beyond the clouds.

This is bullshit and an abuse of religion as well as a violation of one of their Ten Commandments regarding “taking the Lord’s name in vain.”

Racism is but one form of bigotry for bigotry wears a thousand different masks and goes by many names including xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia.

Hate is a value embraced by those who claim to be conservatives.  Ahh… A Klansman in a suit…  An anti-Semite dressed in Armani, an Aryan Nation member with a silk tie.

Coat the bigotry in euphemism, repeat the lies used as justification so many times people start to think they are true.

Keep your hands clean while the ignorant lumpen proles who listen to Beck and Rush Limpdick do the dirty work.

Preach hatred from the pulpit but cry tears of Niobe when people question the practice of using churches to advance neo-Nazi politics, all in the name of Jesus.

If there ever was a demigod named Jesus and half the things said about him have some truth, then this man-god must be  ashamed of the crimes and bigotry performed in his name.

For over four years now I have listened to the racist abuse leveled at President Barrack Obama and his family, often poured forth by ignorant white people who could never even dream of matching his achievements.

I’ve listened to the vile threats of assassination put forth by a second rate guitar playing  child fucking gun loving pervert.

The only people who stand up and speak out against this racism are liberals and progressives, those reviled left wingers stand up for the real American values of human dignity, equality, justice and human rights for all.

Now is the time for decent people to stand up and speak out against the racism and bigotry.

Now is the time for good white people to stand beside people of color and say, “Racism is utterly morally wrong.  It is un-American.  We will not permit it to continue.  We will not permit it to pollute our world.  We will banish this vile hate speech from our air waves just as we have banished pornography.  We will make racism something to be ashamed of.”

Time to end the Apartheid Nation of private schools for white and minimal funding of public schools for people of color.

Time to end the Police State and the Prison Industrial Complex that exists due to racism denying people of color the economic resources they need to live lives of simple dignity.

Smash Racism.  Smash Bigotry.

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Are ‘gay gene’ studies a waste of money?

I’ve been saying for year now that finding physical proof for what ever causes TS/TG people to be TS or TG is pretty meaningless as it will do nothing to change the hearts of bigots.

From Gay Star News:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/are-%E2%80%98gay-gene%E2%80%99-studies-waste-money010812

We would be better off investigating what makes people homophobes or transphobic, rather than studying the origins of sexuality

By Tris Reid-Smith
01 August 2012

‘Know thyself’ were the words inscribed above the temple of the oracle at Delphi in ancient Greece and Plato says it’s this phrase that motivated Socrates in his dialogues.

So it’s natural that as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people we should be fascinated by why our sexuality or gender identity is different from the majority of the population.

But those questions also frustrate me for two reasons. Firstly, what difference can the answer possibly make? And, more importantly, is it a distraction from a more important question?

Plenty of scientists have secured wodges of research cash to investigate ‘what makes us gay’ but far fewer have bothered to investigate what turns people in to homophobes.

Lets assume that casual homophobia in the media, in schools and in the home play a part. If that was proved statistically through a proper psychological study, the effect would be revolutionary. It would mean governments and the media could be forced to take these issues much more seriously. And it wouldn’t be difficult to provide more scientific evidence about the harm that this does to LGBT people, society at large and the homophobes themselves, further powering a fundamental shift in attitudes.

Researchers could also do more to study and categorize the most effective strategies for tackling anti-gay hate. Armed with this information, campaigners could push for real investment in education, awareness building and more.

Continue reading at:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/are-%E2%80%98gay-gene%E2%80%99-studies-waste-money010812

Our enduring truth

From Zinnia Jones:  http://freethoughtblogs.com/zinniajones/2012/08/our-enduring-truth/

From Zinnia Jones
Aug. 2, 2012

The margins of society are a rough place for anyone to live. As minorities that are regarded with suspicion and distrust by the wider culture, gay, lesbian, bi and trans people predictably experience higher levels of abuse, discrimination, homelessness, completed and attempted suicide, substance use, and a variety of health conditions. The statistics are all too familiar by now.

But some people don’t believe these facts compel us to identify and address the underlying causes of such inequalities. Instead, they draw completely different conclusions, and focus on the individual rather than the world LGBT people have to live in. It might take the form of “ex-gays” who lament how their lives used to be an unsatisfying blur of drinking, drugs, porn, loveless relationships and casual sex, until God pulled them out of that “lifestyle”. It might be the friends and family members who, out of genuine or feigned concern, warn us that we’ll be unhappy, unfulfilled, and vulnerable to discrimination and diseases if we’re gay. It might be the social conservatives who declare that “if we want to see fewer students commit suicide, we want fewer homosexual students”. We might even inflict it on ourselves, recoiling in fear from the countless stories of how difficult it can be to go through life as a trans person, and deciding we couldn’t possibly be that.

Continue reading at:  http://freethoughtblogs.com/zinniajones/2012/08/our-enduring-truth/

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Making Roommate Assignments Less Sexy (or Gender-y)

From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/josh-a-goodman/college-dorms-same-sex-housing_b_1727013.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices&ir=Gay%20Voices


This year’s college freshmen start soon, and those living away from home will receive roommate assignments shortly if they haven’t already. While first-years may have a roommate of a different race or religion, from a different socioeconomic background, or from another part of the country, their roommate will almost universally be someone of the same sex.

Though separating students by gender and sex sounds benign enough, same-gender only housing policies perpetuate problematic gender and sex norms and cause discomfort for some students. A handful of colleges, such as U.C. Berkeley and Penn, offer gender- and sex-neutral housing to incoming students, and over 50 offer it to upperclass students. Students at other schools would benefit if their colleges followed suit; here’s why:

1. Same-gender only housing is heteronormative

Intentional man-man and woman-woman roommate pairings are based on the assumption that such pairs will not have sex with each other or try to sexually take advantage of one another.

That, of course, assumes that they’re both heterosexual. While the majority of the population is heterosexual, it is wrong to base housing decisions on an assumption of sexual orientation — even the most conservative schools have lesbian, gay and bisexual students.

This heteronormative mindset makes life harder for LGBT people; it is the reason gay, but not straight, people must come out for others to know their orientation, and why lesbians get asked if they have a boyfriend. While same-gender only housing policies promote heteronormativity, gender-neutral options help to combat that mindset by enabling students to pick a roommate or have one assigned without their (presumed heterosexual) orientation in mind.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/josh-a-goodman/college-dorms-same-sex-housing_b_1727013.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices&ir=Gay%20Voices

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Shafilea Ahmed’s death was not the fault of liberal lefties

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/05/barbara-ellen-shafilea-ahmed-political-correctness

As Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed were sentenced, there was a feeling that their crime happened because of a cult of political correctness

The Observer, Saturday 4 August 2012

Reading about the case of Shafilea Ahmed, the 17-year-old Warrington girl murdered by her parents in front of her siblings for being “too westernised”, there was much to contemplate: the jarring oxymoron of the phrase “honour killings”, which, to their credit, the police refused to use; the astounding courage, indeed the honour, of Shafilea’s sister in standing alone and telling the truth about the murder; the despair of Shafilea, who drank bleach to avoid a forced marriage, but still slipped through the net of social services.

There was another strange aspect of the story, a sidebar in the scheme of things, but gathering force as Iftikhar and Farzana Ahmed were sentenced. It amounted to an open season on liberal-bashing: the overwhelming consensus that a culture of political correctness, liberalism, leftie cultural squeamishness, call it what you will, was largely to blame. That this kind of thing only happens because people are too scared of offending other cultures to confront such problems as forced marriage, “ownership” of females, and other embedded misogynies. That this is where slavish PC tolerance gets us: girls such as Shafilea Ahmed are betrayed. What dangerous, foolish nonsense.

Do people seriously believe that tolerance towards other races and cultures is a “problem”, equal to, or worse, say, than intolerance towards other races and cultures? In fact, I’m confused: where is this liberal-leftie sensibility that’s so often cited and attacked, this blinkered ideology that’s so far up its own right-on backside, so anxious not to cause offence, that it finds it acceptable to leave young girls such as Shafilea in danger? Does it exist or is it just a convenient myth?

In truth, Shafilea’s plight was beyond real or imagined uber-liberal sensibilities. Shafilea was abused, beaten, imprisoned, abducted and, in the end, murdered. Her situation was exacerbated by mistakes and communication breakdowns between the few lifelines she had. Such as the acceptance of Shafilea’s claim (in the presence of her father) that everything was fine, even after her previous appeals for help, and the swallowing of the bleach. This failure wasn’t about some misguided PC wish not to offend Islam, or anything else, it was about incompetence, pure and simple: the collapse of a system of care, leading to a young girl falling through the cracks.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/05/barbara-ellen-shafilea-ahmed-political-correctness

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Is Making a Protest Vote in Presidential Elections a Vanity Choice?

From Consortium News:  http://consortiumnews.com/2012/08/02/more-on-vanity-of-perfectionism/

By Robert Parry
Aug. 2, 2012

My recent article, “The Vanity of Perfectionism,” has stirred up some anger, in part, because of my choice of the word “vanity” to describe some behavior that I have witnessed on the American Left in people who sit out presidential elections or cast ballots for third-party candidates who have no chance of winning.

So, let me explain what I was driving at. The central point of the article was that Americans, especially on the Left, need to get realistic about elections and stop using them as opportunities to express disappointment, anger or even personal morality. Through elections, Americans are the only ones who can select our national leaders, albeit in a limited fashion.

The rest of the world’s people have no say in who’s going to run the most powerful nation on earth. Only we can, at least to the extent permitted in the age of Citizens United. The main thing we can still do is stop the more dangerous major-party candidate from gaining control of the executive powers of the United States, including the commander-in-chief authority and the nuclear codes, not small things.

So, when we treat elections as if they are our moment to express ourselves, rather than to mitigate the damage that a U.S. president might inflict on the world, we are behaving selfishly, in my view. That’s why I used the word “vanity.” U.S. elections should not be primarily about us.

U.S. elections should really be about others – those people who are likely to feel the brunt of American power – Iraqis and Iranians, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans, Vietnamese and Cambodians, Palestinians and Syrians, etc., etc. Elections also should be about future generations and the environment.

Whether we like it or not, the choice this year looks to be between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. People were free to run in the primaries to challenge these guys and, indeed, Romney faced a fairly large field of Republicans whom he defeated. Progressives could have challenged Obama but basically chose not to.

Continue reading at:   http://consortiumnews.com/2012/08/02/more-on-vanity-of-perfectionism/

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When Mom and Pop Owned the Shop

From The Jewish Daily Forward:  http://forward.com/articles/160319/when-mom-and-pop-owned-the-shop/

By Jenna Weissman Joselit
Aug. 3, 2012

Food, glorious food is what virtually everyone I know talks about incessantly. What we ate, where we ate it and who made it constitutes a hefty chunk of our daily conversational fare. But were it not for the urban grocery store, that all-but-vanished institution, we wouldn’t be singing the praises of mozzarella, olive oil and multigrain bread in the first place.

Neighborhood fixtures, grocery stores once abounded in urban America, especially within its immigrant enclaves. Nearly every block had one. Family-run enterprises known colloquially as mom-and-pop stores, they had several basic things going for them. For starters, they required very little by way of start-up capital, much of which was obtained either from one’s slightly more flush relatives or through the good graces of free-loan societies. In 1913, nearly 300 grocers in the greater metropolitan New York area received an interest-free loan of upward of $100 from the Hebrew Free Loan Society, just enough to set up shop or tide them over.

As their name suggests, mom-and-pop stores were also characterized by the availability of free labor: Everyone in the family, even the kids, was expected to, and usually did, pitch in — tending to the customers, stocking the shelves, wrapping orders in brown paper and delivering purchases by foot or bicycle (which is how some learned to ride a bike in the first place). Living above or behind the store, the family was constantly on call, summoned by a knock on the door and by the cry “Customer in the store,” which sent you “running out,” recalled Ruth C., the daughter of a Washington, D.C., grocer of the 1940s, in an interview with the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington some years ago.

While the use of family members undoubtedly helped to save money, this practice bred resentment, especially on the part of the household’s youngsters. Ruth C. recalled that “the only time you were really excused is if you had a big test the next day and [were] sitting with all your books; [then my father] would try not to bother you.” She continued, somewhat plaintively, “If you had a date or you had to go somewhere, forget it.”

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Faces of Change: “Our Jobs Come from the Wind.”

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Boomers without jobs need more options

From Dallas Morning News:  http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/local-voices/headlines/20120803-arden-allen-dufilho-boomers-without-jobs-need-more-options.ece

Arden Allen Dufilho
03 August 2012

Ah, the golden years — the time when hardworking Americans lay down the weary load and take it easy. Each year, millions of baby boomers are hitting retirement age hoping to get their gold watch and head for the lake house. But dismal economic reality is hitting many of them right between the eyes.

Thanks to the economic hard times and the roller-coaster ride the stock market’s taken, the baby boom generation is looking forward to working long past age 62 or even 65. Forget about those long-deferred dream vacations or more time with the grandkids.

Last October’s Associated Press-LifeGoesStrong.com poll revealed that 73 percent of boomers planned to work past retirement. That was up from 67 percent the previous spring. The poll also found that many boomers feared they wouldn’t have adequate retirement savings. And “53 percent of boomers polled said they do not feel confident they’ll be able to afford a comfortable retirement … up from 44 percent who were concerned about retirement finances in March [2011].”

Even more frightening, some in Congress want to raise the Social Security retirement age still higher. As it is, full benefits cannot be accessed until at least age 65. That’s sobering news for boomers who planned to retire by that age. It is even bleaker news for those boomers who are unemployed. Try planning for your retirement when you are faced with no income, mounting bills and a brutal job market, which has the unemployment rate stuck around 9 percent.

It’s fine for Congress to blithely tell its aging constituents, “Sorry, times are tough. You’ll just have to work longer.” What do you say to the boomer who is unemployed and at the end of his or her benefits?

Complete article at:  http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/local-voices/headlines/20120803-arden-allen-dufilho-boomers-without-jobs-need-more-options.ece

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I Can Haz Religus Freedum Now, Plz?

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/08/02/i-can-haz-religus-freedum-now-plz/

By Jesse Taylor
Thursday, August 2, 2012

Via ThinkProgress, 170 law professors have written a letter to the Obama Administration explaining that “religious freedom” is not a catch-all for whoever most vocally claims it, but instead is an actual thing that requires consideration and balancing and thought.

It’s almost as if the Constitution wasn’t just a document set up to be thrust in people’s faces to get what you want.

There are two interesting things about the contraception mandate. One happened on Twitter yesterday: I asked, rhetorically, where conservatives thought the guarantee of religious freedom that prevented enforcement of the mandate for employers with religious objections comes from. The arguably correct answer is the Religious Freedom Restoration Act; the incorrect but somewhat understandable answer is the Constitution (the First Amendment generally doesn’t protect against the enforcement generally applicable and neutral laws that incidentally burden religion).

The answer I got over and over and over again? The Declaration of Independence. The document that predates the Constitution, has no force of law, and is a justification for revolution instead of anything approaching a statement of legal rights. Dozens upon dozens of tweets, simply telling me over and over again that Declaration of Independence, because it mentions God, lets you avoid laws that offend your faith.

This is the crux of the problem with the “religious freedom” argument – it’s not based on rights that anyone actually has, whether arguably or not; it’s based on a series of “rights” a subset of conservative Christians have made up based on a half-correct interpretation of a junior high civics class. Obama cannot make you provide health insurance for pills that don’t actually provide abortions because of rights that don’t actually exist, and don’t  you say otherwise.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/08/02/i-can-haz-religus-freedum-now-plz/

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NYPD’s use of stop-and-frisks suffers marked drop

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/04/nypd-stop-and-frisk-drop

Stop-and-frisk use down 34% between April and June, Times reports, with reduction coinciding with intense media scrutiny

in New York
guardian.co.uk, Saturday 4 August 2012

New York‘s controversial stop-and-frisk policy of fighting crime, which many critics say involves racial profiling of black and Hispanic citizens, has been reduced markedly in recent months, it has been claimed.

The New York police department’s tactic has become a major source of debate in the city as proponents say it has played a huge role in reducing crime statistics, while others say it alienates minority groups.

But on Saturday the New York Times reported that there had been a drop of 34% in the number of times that police had used stop-and-frisks.

It said that from April to June New York police had conducted 133,934 stops, compared to 203,500 in the preceding three months of January to February. The drop coincided with a period of media debate over the role of stop-and-frisks in fighting New York crime, which civil rights groups have repeatedly protested.

In June, thousands of New Yorkers took to the city’s streets in a silent march to mayor Michael Bloomberg’s home to protest against stop-and-frisks.

Speaking at the demonstration, Benjamin Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) said the notion that stop-and-frisk makes the city safer was “a big lie”.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/aug/04/nypd-stop-and-frisk-drop

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US minimum wage workers hold protest

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We Never Said “We Wanted it All”: How the Media Distorts the Goals of Feminism

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/we-never-said-we-wanted-it-all-how-media-distorts-goals-feminism

What Anne-Marie Slaughter and so many other privileged women have failed to understand is that the original women’s movement sought an economic and social revolution that would create equality at home and at the workplace.

By Ruth Rosen
August 5, 2012

For over thirty years, the American media have repeatedly pronounced the death of the women’s movement and blamed feminism for women’s failure to “have it all.“ But none of this is true. The movement has spread around the globe and early radical feminists wanted to change the world, not just seek individual self-fulfillment.

The latest media-generated debate exploded when Anne-Marie Slaughter revealed in the July 2012 edition of the Atlantic Magazine why she had left her fast-track, high-pressured job for Hillary Clinton at the State Department. Families, she admitted, could not withstand the strain. Even a superwoman like herself — blessed with a helpful husband, enough wealth to buy domestic help and child care, could not do it all. Although she described the insane work policies that made her neglect her family, she implicitly blamed feminism for promising a false dream. It was too hard, the hours too long, the persistent sense of guilt too pervasive.

What was missing in her article was the history of “having it all.” Too many editors care more about how an article about the death of feminism will, without fail, create a sensation and increase readership than about an inaccurate media trope.

And her article went viral, as they say, setting off a round of attacks and rebuttals about the possibility of women enjoying – not just enduring – family and work. She returned to her former life as a high-powered professor at Princeton University, which in my experience, hardly counts as opting out of trying to have it all.

To Slaughter, I want to say, you may know a great deal about foreign policy, but you certainly don’t know much about our history. By 1965, young American women activists in Students for a Democratic Society asked themselves what would happen to America’s children if women worked outside the home. Activists in the women’s movement knew women could never have it all, unless they were able to change the society in which they lived.

At the August 1970 march for Women’s Strike for Equality, the three preconditions for emancipation included child care, legal abortion and equal pay. “There are no individual solutions,” feminists chanted in the late sixties. If feminism were to succeed as a radical vision, the movement had to advance the interests of /all/ women.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/we-never-said-we-wanted-it-all-how-media-distorts-goals-feminism

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