Feminine Faces of Freethought Conference

Today Tina and I attended a day long conference  in the  Dallas Oaklawn District.

It was put on by Women of Reason Dallas/Fellowship of Freethought Dallas.

While the D/FW Metroplex has a shit load of big box religious entertainment centers where they mount weekly shows featuring con games, misogyny and bigotry, it is also a city of dramatic contrasts.  With a fair number of blunt spoken atheists who think the big box churches are a pile of BS.

It was a good conference and I am incredibly please to say it was trans-inclusive.  Tina and I were not the only TS/TG women present.  When one sister came out in the process of asking a question of the panel her being TS wasn’t what made me want to know her but rather her story about writing  term papers for  a service in order to survive. I was touched because we are so much more than just TS/TG people.

One of the panels included Dorian who blogs at http://transandgodless.blogspot.com.  She was included on a panel representing diversity.

It felt good to see a feminist organization welcome TS/TG people and include us rather than objectifying us or vilifying us.

Being atheist in present day America means negotiating one’s path through the same minefield of bigotry that LGBT and other minorities are forced to negotiate.

To be an atheist and a feminist means risking attacks, from misogynistic male atheists as well as from the religious right.  While I read  several atheist blogs and had heard  from, I believe Greta Christina and P.Z. Meyers that a feminist atheist had been attacked by a bunch of serious trolls I had little understanding of how serious these attacks were.  Nor did I have any idea as to how common they were.

I was extremely impressed by keynote speaker, Noelle George, whose address was titled “Fifty Shades of Feminism.”  The type of feminism she discussed is inclusive rather than exclusionary.

Three of the women on the  diversity panel spoke of adversity as a result of growing up in a Muslim culture.  One woman was of Indian heritage, one Yemeni and one Sudanese.  These women spoke about Islam being used to mandate child marriages, threats of honor killings and Female Genital Mutilation. Listening to their stories was a serious gut check for the idea of respect and the multicultural pass we give to  the killing and mutilation of women by people acting in the name of religion.

Any Religion.

An African American woman told of being disowned because she left her religion and came out as an atheist.

Tina and I came away resolved to connect with people we met through this conference and  to add this issue to those we take a local stand on.

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Philadelphia police investigating murder of transgender community volunteer

From LGBTQ News:  http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2012/09/philadelphia-police-investigating-murder-of-transgender-community-volunteer/

Thursday, September 13, 2012

PHILADELPHIA — Homicide detectives are investigating the killing of a well known member of Philadelphia’s LGBT community, Kyra Kruz, a 27-year-old transgender woman who was found dead in a wooded area of the city’s Frankford area. She had suffered a gunshot wound to the head.

According to a police spokesperson, Kruz was last seen at a WaWa convenience store about half a mile from where patrol officers found her body about 5 a.m. on Sept. 3.

Kyra Kruz

The spokesperson said that detectives are asking that anyone with information about the crime to come forward.

Gloria Casarez, director of Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs, said that Kruz, was well known in the city’s LGBT community.

“She was a visible, friendly presence. This has been surprising and upsetting to all of us,” said Casarez.

A childhood friend, Amanda Cerini told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Kruz was primarily raised by a single mother, and moved to Philadelphia after high school. Though she went by Kruz for years, she recently had her last name legally changed to Cordova.

Kruz worked for about a year at the Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative, a nonprofit group that focuses on HIV/AIDS outreach. Elicia Gonzales, the executive director, said Kruz turned up one day in 2010, wanting to know what she could do to help. She was initially stationed at the front desk, but later got a job counseling clients.

“She just immediately made the office light up,” Gonzales said. “She didn’t think of it as her job. It was her life’s calling to give back to the community.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2012/09/philadelphia-police-investigating-murder-of-transgender-community-volunteer/

Taunts, struggles drives gifted UK trans woman to her death

From Lexie Cannes:  http://lexiecannes.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/taunts-struggles-drives-gifted-uk-trans-woman-to-her-death/

By Lexie Cannes
September 13, 2012

With permission

THE GUERRILLA ANGEL REPORT — Hands down, suicide is among the most difficult thing for me to write about, but it is such a huge elephant silently stumbling around in the trans world, it does no good to any of us to ignore its presence.

Last July we were reminded again suicide can happen to the best of us when prominent Canadian trans activist Kyle Scanlon took his life. http://lexiecannes.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/toronto-canada-trans-community-leader-kyle-scanlon-dies/

Indeed, a recent and widely shared study indicated that upwards of 40% of trans people attempt suicide in their lifetimes (the cis population rate is under 2%). http://endtransdiscrimination.org/PDFs/NTDS_Exec_Summary.pdf

Just weeks ago there were a few discussions at social media websites where we saw “experts” claiming the trans suicide rate isn’t as bad as the study and us writers are making it out to be. If this is true, they need to make their case, backed up with evidence — not just mere denying a suicide problem exists.

It is said Staffordshire University (UK) student Natasha Lauren Brown began a downward spiral after she was taunted and beaten. Her life ended May 14, 2012 from liver failure after she ODed on paracetamol.

Although gifted, Brown struggled with depression and other issues throughout most of her teens. It was only in the last few years that she decided to officially move forward and change her gender identity. Even though Brown had contact with mental health professionals, her family believes their daughter would still be alive if the UK’s mental health services we better equipped to handle gender identity issues — something the family felt these professionals came up short on.

Brown’s mother:  “We’d just like to say we strongly believe the mental health services could have done more to help her than they did.”

Staffordshire University student union president Fiona Wood [commenting on the beating and bullying]:  “Some people just don’t understand the issue and how society can turn against the individual.”

Sadly, this type of ending is not uncommon and happens everyday — even in seemingly progressive countries like the United Kingdom and the United States. A reality check like this from time to time will ensure that the suicide problem continues to be worked on and not swept away out of sight.

A tribute to Natasha is here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/welshflickrcymru/discuss/72157629887893530/

Gifted Hanley student was killed by pills overdose | This is Staffordshire.

Natasha Lauren Brown (Photo: welshflickrcymru.com)

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Voter ID goes to PA Supreme Court Today

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Wisconsin Collective Bargaining Law Struck Down By County Judge

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/14/wisconsin-collective-bargaining-law_n_1885601.html?utm_hp_ref=politics

By Scott Bauer

MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin judge on Friday struck down the state law championed by Gov. Scott Walker that effectively ended collective bargaining rights for most public workers.

It was not clear if the ruling means the law is immediately suspended. The law took away nearly all collective bargaining rights from most workers and has been in effect for more than a year.

Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas ruled that the law violates both the state and U.S. Constitution and is null and void. The ruling comes after a lawsuit brought by the Madison teachers union and a union for Milwaukee city employees.

Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie said he was confident the decision will be overturned on appeal.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/14/wisconsin-collective-bargaining-law_n_1885601.html?utm_hp_ref=politics

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Half of drugs prescribed in France useless or dangerous, say two specialists

From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/14/french-doctors-drugs-useless-dangerous

The doctors claim that the state wastes money on unnecessary medicine that they blame for up to 20,000 deaths annually

in Paris
guardian.co.uk, Friday 14 September 2012

Half of all medicines being prescribed by doctors in France are either useless or potentially dangerous for patients, according to two eminent medical specialists. They blame the powerful pharmaceutical companies for keeping these drugs on sale at huge expense to the health system and the taxpayer.

Professor Philippe Even, director of the prestigious Necker Institute, and Bernard Debré, a doctor and member of parliament, say removing what they describe as superfluous and hazardous drugs from the list of those paid for by the French health service would save up to €10bn (£8bn) a year. It would also prevent up to 20,000 deaths linked to the medication and reduce hospital admissions by up to 100,000, they claim.

In their 900-page book The Guide to the 4,000 Useful, Useless or Dangerous Medicines, Even and Debré examined the effectiveness, risks and cost of pharmaceutical drugs available in France. Among those that they alleged were “completely useless” were statins, widely taken to lower cholesterol. The blacklist of 58 drugs the doctors claimed are dangerous included anti-inflammatories and drugs prescribed for cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, osteoporosis, contraception, muscular cramps and nicotine addiction.

The Professional Federation of Medical Industrialists denounced the doctors’ views as full of “confusions and approximations”.

“This book is helping to alarm those who are sick needlessly and risks leading them to stop treatments,” it said in a statement.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/14/french-doctors-drugs-useless-dangerous

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Media Ignores Romney Lies in Favor of Politicization

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Bryan Fischer: Today’s GOP Will Be ‘Dead’ If Romney Loses

One can only hope so…

From Talking Points Memo:   http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/09/bryan-fischer-todays-gop-will-be-dead-if-romney-loses.php?ref=fpnewsfeed

Benjy Sarlin
September 14, 2012

A Barack Obama win in November will lead to a meltdown within the Republican Party, said Bryan Fischer, an influential official at the American Family Association. And he isn’t too optimistic about Mitt Romney’s chances.

“If Barack Obama wins this election the Republican Party as we know it is finished, it is dead, it is toast — you can stick a fork in it,” he told TPM Friday at the Values Voter Summit in Washington. “And conservatives, grassroots conservatives, are either going to start a third party or they are going to launch a hostile takeover of the Republican Party.”

Fischer said he believed Romney would be leading national polls by double digits at this point if he had followed Paul Ryan’s lead and offered more detailed conservative positions on the budget and social issues.

“The biggest mistake is they put a bag over Paul Ryan’s head,” he said. Fischer said he was “deeply disturbed” that Ryan didn’t mention the campaign’s opposition to gay marriage in his speech to the summit on Friday.

Continue reading at:  http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/09/bryan-fischer-todays-gop-will-be-dead-if-romney-loses.php?ref=fpnewsfeed

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Romney’s Jaw-Dropping Incoherence

From Consortium News:  http://consortiumnews.com/2012/09/13/romneys-jaw-dropping-incoherence/

By Robert Parry
September 13, 2012

Exclusive: Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s latest distortion about an attempt by the U.S. Embassy in Egypt to calm Mideast tensions is not only renewing concerns about his honesty but raising new questions about his mental stability, writes Robert Parry.

For all his supposed business competence, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is running a campaign of jaw-dropping incoherence, mixing some of the most dishonest rants from right-wing talk radio with focus-group worries about health care and the economy even if they clash with conservative principles.

You saw this at the Republican National Convention, which was almost fully devoted to gross distortions of President Barack Obama’s positions – like the endless repetition of his out-of-context quote, “You didn’t build that” – combined with complaints that Obama had not intervened enough in the economy to create more jobs, even in contradiction of the GOP’s supposed love of “free markets.”

Now, Romney has pounced on a well-meaning – though ultimately unsuccessful – effort by the U.S. embassy staff in Cairo to tamp down anger caused by an incendiary anti-Muslim video that appeared designed to elicit the kind of violent rage that is now sweeping the Middle East.

Seemingly without regard for the delicate circumstances, Romney issued a statement that transformed the embassy’s criticism of the video into an expression of sympathy by the Obama administration for the protesters who attacked U.S. diplomatic outposts in Egypt and, fatally, in Libya. However, to make his point stick, Romney had to reverse the actual chronology of events.

Here is how the chronology actually went: Early on Tuesday, the U.S. Embassy in Egypt sought to calm tensions by issuing a statement condemning “the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.”

Continue reading at:  http://consortiumnews.com/2012/09/13/romneys-jaw-dropping-incoherence/

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Suffer the Children

From The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/11/opinion/bruni-suffer-the-children.html

Published: September 10, 2012

Just how flagrant does a pedophile need to be before the people around him contact the police? Just how far beyond seeming to force himself on a boy in a shower or loading up his laptop with photos of little girls’ crotches does he have to go?

In the first instance I’m referring to Jerry Sandusky, whom Penn State officials allowed to continue working with children even after they were told that something was seriously amiss. In the second I’m referring to the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, a Catholic priest in Missouri whose superiors acted no less despicably.

In May 2010, the principal of a parochial school next door to the parish where Father Ratigan served sent a memorandum to the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, as Laurie Goodstein reported in The Times. It flagged his odd behavior, including his habit of instructing children to reach into his pockets for candy.

In December 2010, hundreds of troubling, furtively taken photographs were found on his laptop, according to court testimony given too long after that fact. One showed a toddler’s genitals.

In what jail or prison cell, you might ask, did Father Ratigan spend the first half of 2011? None.

After the photos were discovered, he attempted suicide, received counseling and was reassigned by Bishop Robert W. Finn, the head of the diocese, to a new post as a chaplain to an order of nuns. There he was allowed to celebrate Mass for youth groups and host an Easter egg hunt, and he was caught taking a photograph under the table, up the skirt of the daughter of parishioners who had invited him into their home.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/11/opinion/bruni-suffer-the-children.html

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Food on global casino

From The Asian Age:  http://www.asianage.com/columnists/food-global-casino-250

Sep 12, 2012

Food is our nourishment. It is the source of life. Growing food, processing, transforming and distributing it involves 70 per cent of humanity. Eating food involves all of us. Yet, it is not the culture or human rights that are shaping today’s dominant food economy. Rather speculation and profits are designing food production and distribution. Putting food on the global financial casino is a design for hunger.

After the US subprime crisis and the Wall Street crash, investors rushed to commodity markets, especially oil and agricultural commodities. While real production did not increase between 2005-2007, commodity speculation in food increased 160 per cent. Speculation pushed up prices and high prices pushed an additional 100 million to hunger. Barclays, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan are all playing on the global food casino.

A 2008 advertisement of Deutsche Bank stated, “Do you enjoy rising prices? Everybody talks about commodities — with the Agriculture Euro Fund you can benefit from the increase in the value of the seven most important agricultural commodities.”
When speculation drives up prices, the rich investors get richer and the poor starve. The financial deregulation that destabilised the world’s financial system is now destabilising the world food system. The price rise is not just a result of supply and demand. It is predominantly a result of speculation. Between 2003 to 2008, commodity index speculation increased by 1,900 per cent from an estimated $13 billion to $260 billion. Thirty per cent of these index funds are invested in food commodities. As the Agribusiness Accountability Initiative states, “We live in a brave new world of 24-hour electronic trading, triggered by algorithms of composite price indices, fits of investor ‘lack of confidence’ and of unregulated ‘dark pools’ of more than $7 trillion in over the counter commodities derivatives trades.”
The world commodity trading has no relationship to food, to its diversity, to its growers or eaters, to the seasons, to sowing or harvesting. Food diversity is reduced to eight commodities and bundled into “composite price index”. Seasons are replaced by 24-hour trading. Food production driven by sunshine and photosynthesis is displaced by “dark pools of investment”. The tragedy is that this unreal world is creating hunger for real people in the real world.
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