Friday Night Fun and Culture: Anne Briggs

Bullied transsexual died after painkiller overdose

From The Sun UK:

Published: 13th September 2012

A TRANSSEXUAL student taunted and beaten for living as a woman died after taking an overdose of painkillers, her inquest heard.

Natasha Lauren Brown, 20, was born Charles Nicolas James Corcoran but decided to live and dress as a woman last year.

The gifted photography student had planned to undergo hormone therapy after changing her name.

But she became depressed following months of jibes from bullies. Once she was even knocked unconscious in a random attack.

Natasha was found unconscious in bed by her girlfriend Susan Latham, surrounded by empty containers of powerful painkiller Co-codamol, at the house they shared in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffs, on May 10 this year.

Natasha was taken to hospital where doctors tried to flush the drug from her body.

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Finalist in Vietnam song contest comes out as a trans woman

From Gay Star News:

Huong Giang, finalist of the singing contest Vietnam Idol comes out publicly, live on TV, as a transgender woman

By Dan Littauer
11 September 2012

Huong Giang made history in Vietnam when she came out live during Vietnam Idol as a transgender woman.

On Thursday (6 September) the TV talent show jury delivered their verdict to the 25-year-old finalist from Hanoi, praising her effort and determination.

Judge and film director Nguyen Quang Dung asked if Giang had previously auditioned for Vietnam Idol. After a few hesitant seconds the contestant admitted that she previously auditioned under a male name, Nguyen Ngoc Hieu.

Quang Dung praised Giang saying: ‘I really appreciate young people who dare to be true to themselves and other people. Whatever you do, you take responsibility for it.’

The jury asked the young girl what made her decide to change to which she responded: ‘I’ve got passion for singing and every single change in my life is for art. I didn’t change to win love or any kind of happiness. I think this is the real me and I have to change to be myself onstage.’

The three judges expressed their admiration of the young girl, who has been so brave to be and reveal herself publicly.

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Have We Evolved in our View of Transgender People?

From RH Reality Check:

by Debbie McMillan, Transgender Health Empowerment
September 13, 2012

Like most people, the sum of who I am is much more than my individual traits. However, there is one fact about me that puts me way outside the mainstream. It’s that I’m a tran-sgender woman.

Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Massachusetts judge ordered prison officials to provide sex-reassignment surgery for a murder convict.

The piece started by talking about a transgender woman who used to meet in dark parking lots with other transgender people for support. “How things have changed since then for transgender men and women in America, who have made great strides in recent years toward reaching their ultimate goal: to be treated like ordinary people,” the piece noted.

I agree, strides have been made. But “great” grossly overstates the reality. Discrimination and misunderstanding is still rampant. I frequently feel that I’m assigned to a class of sub-humans. Even the judge who ordered the surgery said it was to treat “gender-identity disorder.” As a society, we still view transgender people as being against the natural order and place the blame on our minds, rather than where the real problem is: our incorrect bodies.

A recent article in the New York Times Magazine would indeed lead sympathetic readers to believe things are not so bad for transgender people and that there’s really just left over misunderstandings to clear up. The piece told honest, compelling, sometimes gut wrenching stories of good people trying to navigate the world for and with their gender non-specific children.

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Transgender advocacy group condemns planned ‘Anderson Live’ segment

From LGBTQ Nation:

September 12, 2012

WASHINGTON — The National Center for Transgender Equality on Wednesday denounced plans by the syndicated talk show “Anderson Live” to air a controversial interview with a person who claims an anti-baldness drug made them transgender.

The segment, hosted by openly gay veteran journalist Anderson Cooper, is scheduled to air Thursday, September 13, and is “a story you’ll see only on “Anderson Live,” touts a promotional statement on the show’s website:

“Mandi, who was born male, speaks out for the first time, claiming that a hair loss treatment caused him to become transgender. Mandi is joined by her ex-wife, Michele, who opens up about how Mandi’s identity transformation has affected their son. How is this even possible? We will explore the latest research on Finasteride, the common compound found in most medical treatments used to treat male pattern baldness.”

Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement that the NCTE was “surprised, saddened and disappointed that a respected show like ‘Anderson Live’ would give credence to this type of sensationalism and misinformation.”

“This segment is just another case of sensationalizing an already marginalized population plain and simple,” she said.

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See Also: Transgender activists protest ‘sensationalist’ segment from ‘Anderson Live’

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Statement by the Vice President on the Eighteenth Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act

From the White House:

September 13, 2012

Eighteen years ago today, the landmark Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was signed into law. It was founded on the basic premise that every woman deserves to be safe from violence, and since its passage, we have made tremendous strides towards achieving that goal. We gave law enforcement and the courts more tools to combat domestic violence and hold offenders accountable. We created a national hotline to direct victims to life-saving assistance. And since VAWA passed, annual rates of domestic violence have dropped by more than 60 percent.

But we still have much work to do. Three women still die every day as a result of domestic violence. One in five women have been raped, many as teenagers, and one in six women have been victims of stalking. While women and girls face these devastating realities every day, reauthorization of a strengthened VAWA languishes in Congress. VAWA is just as important today as it was when it first became law, and I urge Congress to keep the promise we made to our daughters and our granddaughters on that day—that we would work together to keep them safe.

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At the end of the day – this isn’t about Islam

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The provocateurs know politics and religion don’t mix

From The Independent UK:

It only takes a couple of loonies a few seconds to kick off a miniature war in the Muslim world

Robert Fisk
Thursday 13 September 2012

So another internet clever-clogs sets the Middle East on fire: Prophet cartoons, then Koranic book-burning, now a video of robed “terrorists” and a fake desert. The Western-Christian perpetrators then go into hiding (an essential requisite for publicity) while the innocent are asphyxiated, beheaded and otherwise done to death – outrageous Muslim revenge thus “proving” the racist claims of the trash peddlers that Islam is a violent religion.

The provocateurs, of course, know that politics and religion don’t mix in the Middle East. They are the same. Christopher Stevens, his diplomat colleagues in Benghazi, priests in Turkey and Africa, UN personnel in Afghanistan; they have all paid the price for those ‘Christian priests’, ‘cartoonists’, ‘film-makers’ and ‘authors’ – the inverted commas are necessary to mark a thin line between illusionists and the real thing – who knowingly choose to provoke 1.6 billion Muslims.

When a Danish cartoon in a hitherto unknown newspaper drew a picture of the Prophet Mohamed with a bomb in his turban, the Danish embassy in Beirut went up in flames. When a Texas pastor decided to ‘sentence the Koran to death’, the knives came out in Afghanistan – we are leaving aside the little matter of the ‘accidental’ burning of Koranic pages by US personnel in Bagram. And now a deliberately abusive film provokes the murder of one of the State Department’s fairest diplomats.

In many ways, it’s familiar territory. In fifteenth century Spain, Christian cartoonists drew illustrations of the Prophet committing unspeakable acts. And – just so we don’t think we have clean claws today – when a Paris cinema showed a film in which Christ made love to a woman, the picture-house was burned-down, one cinema-goer was killed, and the killer turned out to be a Christian.

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The Wrong Way to Save Money on Health Care

From Robert Reich:

By Robert Reich
Thursday, September 13, 2012

Employer outlays for workers’ health insurance slowed from a 9 percent jump last year to less than half that — 4 percent — this year, according to a new survey from the Kaiser Foundation. Good news?

Our political class believes it is. The Obama administration attributes the drop to the new Affordable Care Act, which, among other things, gives states funding to review insurance rate increases.

Republicans agree it’s good news but blame Obamacare for the fact that employer health-care costs continue to rise faster than inflation. “The new mandates contained in the health care law are significantly increasing the cost of insurance” says Wyoming senator Mike Enzi, top Republican on the Senate health committee.

But both sides ignore one big reason for the drop: Employers are shifting healthcare costs to their workers. (The survey shows workers contributing an average of $4,316 toward the cost of family health plans this year, up from $4,129 last year. Many are receiving little or no employer-provided coverage at all.)

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TPP: A Worldwide Corporate Power Grab of Enormous Proportions

From Reader Supported News:

By Laurel Sutherlin, The Understory
12 September 12

As international trade negotiators gathered this week at a posh golf resort in rural Virginia to hammer out details of the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), they sought to project an image of inclusion and receptivity to public input. In reality, this high-stakes global corporate pact, now in its 14th round of discussions, is heavily guarded by paramilitary teams with machine guns and helicopters as it is developed behind closed doors under a dangerous and unprecedented veil of secrecy.

What the hell is the TPP, you may ask? While it is among the largest and potentially most important ‘free trade’ agreements the world has ever seen, one can hardly be blamed for not being familiar with it yet. The corporate cabal behind it, including names like Cargill, Pfizer, Nike and WalMart, has done an exceptional job of maintaining an almost total lack of transparency as they literally design the future we will all inhabit.

While 600 corporate lobbyists have been granted access and input on the draft texts from the beginning, even high-ranking members of Congress have been denied access to the most basic content of what US negotiators are proposing in our names.

Demand transparency now! Write to US trade representative Ron Kirk and lead Cargil trade lobbyist Devry Boughner to demand they make the text public.

Thankfully, draft texts of the proposal have appeared on Wikileaks and the website of Citizen’s Trade Campaign. It is difficult to overstate the potential implications on the lives of people around the world if anything like the agreement in these leaked documents were to be implemented with the force of law.

The TPP is called a ‘trade agreement,’ but in actuality it is a long-dreamed-of template for implementing a binding system of global corporate governance as bold as anything the world’s wealthiest elite has attempted before. Of the 26 chapters under negotiation, only a few have to do directly with trade. The other chapters enshrine new rights and privileges for major corporations while weakening the power of nation states to oppose them. The TPP essentially proposes to establish a parallel system of justice where companies can sue countries in a tribunal of judges composed of unaccountable international trade lawyers with little to no process for appeal.

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Trans Pacific Partnership…Trojan horse for global corporate domination?

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Walmart supplier NFI’s warehouse workers strike over working conditions

From The Guardian UK:

California workers say they’ve filed labour complaints over lack of access to drinking water and alleged bullying by managers

in New York,Thursday 13 September 2012

A group of workers at a warehouse that supplies Walmart stores have gone on strike to protest what they say are dangerous labour conditions and retaliation by management against employees who complain about them.

Organisers for the activist group Warehouse Workers United, which is working in the booming warehouse industry that has grown up in the Inland Empire region of southern California, say at least 20 workers had walked off the job and were protesting outside the gates of a warehouse run by transport firm NFI.

Labour abuses in the Inland Empire’s warehouse industry have recently been highlighted in various media and academic reports. Experts say the industry, which is thought to employ some 110,000 people, is often staffed by poor, immigrant workers who toil for long hours with little pay and in unsafe conditions. One recent survey by the WWU and the University of California interviewed 101 workers and found that 83 of them said they had suffered a job-related illness.

The striking workers at the NFI facility have filed an official complaint with California labour authorities on conditions that they say show inadequate safety protection, not enough access to drinking water in warehouses that can reach 125 degrees on a hot day, and a management culture that bullies them.

They also say that workers listed in their legal complaint have since been retaliated against by things such as demotions or reduced hours, and the threat of losing their job.

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Harvesting a Climate Disaster

From The New York Times:

Published: September 12, 2012

San Francisco

FARMERS went to Washington yesterday. Members of a coalition representing more than 80 agricultural organizations rallied on Capitol Hill to demand passage of a new farm bill that has been stalled in Congress.

The Democratic-led Senate has already passed its version of the bill; the Republican-controlled House is squabbling over a competing approach (one that sharply cuts food aid to the poor). Irate farmers want both sides to shut up and pass something that can replace the current farm bill, which expires on Sept. 30.

All of the parties, though, are focused on the wrong thing.

The farm bill is not only the centerpiece of United States food and agriculture policy, it is also a de facto climate bill. And in this respect, both the Senate and House versions of the legislation are a disaster waiting to happen.

Consider, for a moment, the summer of 2012. For an agricultural superpower like the United States, it should have set off alarm bells. The hottest July on record and the worst drought in 50 years — both driven partly by global warming, scientists say — have parched soil and withered crops across the Farm Belt. Yet America’s lawmakers aren’t even remotely addressing the issue in a piece of legislation that will affect the climate profoundly for years to come.

The proposed farm bill — Senate- or House-style, take your pick — would make American agriculture’s climate problem worse, in two ways. Not only would the bill accelerate global warming by encouraging more greenhouse gas emissions, it would make the nation’s farms more vulnerable to the impacts of those emissions.

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