Imperfect Allies: Expecting Lesbians and Gay Men to Understand TS/TG People in Perfect and Absolutely Politically Correct Terms

One of the biggest flaws of identity politics is the demand that everyone think identically and use the exact same consensus approved terminology to describe themselves and their lives.

I’ve never been one for group think which is why I always had problems with Trotskyites and Stalinists not to mention the 1960s fad of Red Guard Maoism.

By the end of the 1970s the thought conformity demanded by people who proclaimed themselves lesbian feminists aka radical feminists sent me scurrying off to slam dance in the mosh pits of punkdom.

There is a reason why I embrace the red/black flag.

Since the emergence of the Transgender Movement in the 1990s I’ve tangled with a lot of transgender folks who expect perfect political correctness from everyone they have decided is “Transgender”.  Wars have been fought over that very term with many transsexual folks rejecting it and getting a lot of shit for rejecting it.  On the other hand two-spirit and gender-queer folks get to embrace a different term without catching a bunch of shit for it.

It took a while for me to finally lay down arms and refuse to fight over that one.  I still don’t accept transgender as a personal label and claim the same right to use transsexual as gender queer and two spirit people claim when they use those labels.

Am I really thrilled with everything GLAAD says and does?  Not really but I’m sure as fuck not going to picket their events when they are putting up lawyers and money to fight legal cases for transsexual and transgender people.

Do I think Dan Savage is some sort of perfect leader who gets everything right about everyone in the alphabet soup of sexual and gender minorities?  Fuck no! Does he get enough right that I’d rather give him a big hug and kiss rather than throw glitter in his face?  Fuck yeah and maybe if we try talking with him rather than screaming at him he might improve on those things that bother TS/TG people.

But a lot of people would rather fight with imperfect allies than fight with actual terrifying enemies.

Last week Barney Frank took a position different from that taken by many trans-activists regarding the state having to pay for SRS for convicted murder Michelle Kosilek.

Now, it took me a lot of thinking to support SRS for Michelle Kosilek, who was convicted of brutally murdering his wife prior to coming out.

As I said.  This isn’t about Michelle Kosilek.  It isn’t even about transsexual and transgender people.  It is about the humane treatment of prisoners in the American Gulags of the Prison Industrial Complex.

It is about SRS being am medically necessary.

We want medical insurance to cover SRS (and other medical costs) for people who aren’t in prison, people like Ida Hammer who just won coverage for her surgery.

We have reasonable arguments as to why the it should be the responsibility of the State, who has imprisoned people to provide medically necessary treatments to all prisoners who require those treatments.

You don’t have to be a moral beacon like Desmond Tutu to explain why.

This isn’t about Michelle Kosilek.

It is about us as human beings.  It is about our refusal to descend into barbarism where we torture and abuse prisoners.

We should be too civilized to chop the hands off thieves, tip walls over on gay people, stone women for adultery.

We should be too civilized to water board and torture.

We should be too civilized to do a lot of things the right wing has suckered us into doing these last forty years.

As it is we have descended to a point where we make highly questionable ethical decisions with great frequency.

Is Barney Frank wrong to publicly take some of the positions he has regarding  TS/TG people?  Fuck yeah.  Has he still been more of an ally than not? As far as I see it he has.

We are in an important battle against Neo-Nazis and people who are literally fascists, “Christian” religious leaders every bit as terrifying as the worst mullahs in the Islamic world.

I’ve heard people criticize President Obama for not being perfect.  I’ve criticized him for not being progressive enough.

But I have to support him because the alternative is far worse.

We have to stop attacking our allies for being imperfect.

It is left wing wankery and is self defeating.

What inspired me to write this was a post on The New Civil Rights Movement last week:  Dan Savage Dares Tony Perkins To Sue Him

by David Badash
on October 4, 2012

Yesterday, Tony Perkins told Mike Huckabee he and the Family Research Council are “pursuing everything possible” against activist Dan Savage, “because he is out of control.” That certainly sounds like legal action, and Dan Savage agreed.

Perkins and Huckabee were discussing Savage’s address last week at Winona State University, during which Savage said, “every dead gay kid is a victory for the Family Research Council.”

Of course, Savage is standing by his remarks — and rightly so. Last night, in “Is Tony Perkins Threatening to Sue Me?,” Savage wrote:

“I realize that this isn’t how you think the world is supposed to work, Tony. You believe—and you’re old enough to remember a time when—people like you were free to say vile and disgusting things about people like me without anyone objecting. Certainly people like me weren’t allowed to call people like you out. You still believe you should be free to lie about me and other LGBT people with absolutely impunity—we’re all pedophiles and terrorists and Satanists—and that we should have to shut up and take it because… well, I’m not sure why you think we’re not allowed to respond when you lie about us.

“Maybe that’s something we could get to the bottom of during the depositions.”

Savage also responded to Perkins comment that he “has issues”:

Yes, Tony, I have issues.

I have issues with people who would deny me and other LGBT people our full civil equality for no legitimate reason. I have particular issues with high-profile haters who encourage parents to reject their LGBT kids, doubling their already quadrupled risk for suicide. I have issues with people who say that LGBT people are “pawns of the devil.” I have issues with people who compare LGBT people to terrorists. I have issues with people who falsely link homosexuality and pedophilia. I have issues with people who suggest that a law calling for the execution of gay people merely “upholds moral conduct.”

But having issues with you, Tony, isn’t quite the same thing as “having issues.” Please make a note of it.

The best outcome here is the Family Research Council and the American Family Association get together and Sue Dan Savage and especially the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Savage is absolutely right.

Complete article at:

I sort of feel the same way about Dan Savage as I feel about GLAAD.  Sometimes I get pissed off about the language they use but they are on the same side I’m on and spending my energy attacking them instead of attacking the right wing or the religious fucks seems to not only be a waste of my time but the height of hubris.

Attack our real enemies, discuss differences and educate our allies.  It’s more productive in the long run.

A Decade of Victories for Trans Rights

From Huffington Post:


A decade ago no news about transgender issues was usually good news about transgender issues. Although the rate of murders and violence against transgender people, especially against transgender women of color, continues to be a tragedy (and one that remains largely unaddressed), historic gains have been made. And today, when you open the newspaper and read about transgender issues, you just may be reading about an extension of health-care coverage, a third-grader allowed to go to school as her authentic self, or the EEOC ruling protecting transgender people from workplace discrimination under Title VII.

Typically, the 10th anniversary of a nonprofit organization isn’t especially newsworthy, but for Transgender Law Center, the past decade of legal victories has brought a sea change of justice and equality that will continue to ripple across the nation.

One of our first notable actions was helping Sylvia Guerrero obtain a posthumous name change for her daughter, Gwen Araujo. October also marks the 10th anniversary of Gwen’s death; she was brutally murdered in 2002. In 2006 California Gov. Schwarzenegger signed into law the Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act, the nation’s first bill to outlaw the use of “trans panic” legal strategies. And while those kinds of crimes continue today, we are celebrating the progress that has been made and our hope for a better tomorrow.

We have had many other incredible victories, most of which originated from calls to our legal helpline. In 2009 we brought suit on behalf of GiGi Somers, a trans woman born in Los Angeles but living in Kansas, who was unable to change her California birth certificate. As a result, all people born in California can change the gender markers on their birth certificates, regardless of where they currently live. We’ve also launched statewide transgender leadership summits, health clinics, and trainings for doctors, and helped get language included in federal health-care reform.

Our most recent victory, the EEOC ruling that trans people are covered under Title VII, was historic and will inform policy discussions at the national level for many years to come. As news of the ruling spreads, transgender people are feeling empowered to fight back harder than ever before, and for the first time with federal law firmly on their side.

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Vancouver Ca: Transgender support group mourns homicide victim

From BCTV:

BCTV British Columbia
Published Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012

A Vancouver support group for the transgender community is mourning the loss of one of their members after she was stabbed to death on Saturday.

Police identified the victim of New Westminster’s first homicide of the year Thursday as 26-year-old January Marie Lapuz, who legally changed her name from John Carlo Embo Lapuz in 2008.

The stabbing death happened in the 500-block of 3rd Avenue at about 10 p.m. on Saturday and Lapuz died later in hospital.

Police said an Asian man, around 5-5 tall, was seen running from the scene.

Alex Sangha, Founder of Sher Vancouver, a support group for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender South Asians said the community is shocked and saddened by her death.

“She was very young and really a bright light and shining star,” Sangha said. “Everyone is very sad and very shocked. The way she died was very sad.”

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Regnerus Scandal: Researcher Lying, Not Independent From Anti-Gay Funders

From The New Civil Rights Movement:

by Scott Rose
on October 7, 2012

Reposted with permission


A study booby-trapped against gay parents.

The booby-trapped study is serving as a basis for National Organization for Marriage anti-gay attack ads all over the country.

The hoax study was perpetrated by Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas at Austin (UT).

The most outrageously defamatory of its false findings is that children of gay parents experience dramatically high levels of sex abuse.

Regnerus’s chief funding agency is the NOM-linked Witherspoon Institute.

NOM officials have a long history of conflating homosexuals with pedophiles, a known falsehood.

Nothing can so potently hate-and-fear-monger voters into voting against gay rights, quite like telling them that homosexuals sexually molest children.


The study design began in 2010.

IRS documents show that Regnerus’s study specifically is a project of Witherspoon’s Program for Family, Marriage and Democracy.

In 2010, when the Regnerus study was in its design phase, W. Bradford Wilcox was director of that Witherspoon program.

Wilcox, who is against contraception, sees social research as a “vindication of Christian moral teaching.”

Wilcox has confessed that in 2010, he was involved in the design of the Regnerus study.

Wilcox’s confession was forced into the open by accumulating evidence of scientific misconduct connected to the study, its publication, and Wilcox himself.

However, Wilcox, Regnerus, and Witherspoon president Luis Tellez — who is a NOM board member — are attempting to deny that Wilcox was acting as a Witherspoon agent when he collaborated with Regnerus on study design in 2010.

Even in his confession, Wilcox attempts to deny that he ever engaged with Regnerus about the study in any official Witherspoon capacity.

Wilcox alleges that his title of “Director of the Program for Family, Marriage and Democracy” was an “honorific.”


Philip Cohen, Ph.D. is Director of Graduate Studies in Sociology at the University of Maryland’s Population Research Center. In a comment under Wilcox’s confession, Cohen said:

“I find this description not credible. I do not think any reasonable auditor or ethical agency would subscribe to the idea that the “director” of an organization was not and [sic] “officer” of it.”

Dr. Andrew J. Perrin is a sociologist at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He also considers that Wilcox is not being truthful:

“Brad Wilcox’s affiliation with Witherspoon is all over the place, attached to his name in numerous websites, flyers, talk titles, etc., and so it was certainly incumbent upon both Regnerus and Wilcox to recognize the conflict of interest, and it would not have required any significant investigation to note that conflict. If, in fact, Wilcox was one of the peer reviewers of the article, as has been the subject of conjecture, that’s obviously a further conflict.” Dr. Perrin continues: “the idea that this web of associations doesn’t constitute a serious conflict of interest in the publication of the article just doesn’t pass the smell test. The most reasonable explanation, given what we know, is that Wilcox, Regnerus, and others in their circle colluded to make an end run around serious academic review in order to get seriously flawed information into the public eye.” (Bolding added).

Witherspoon, meanwhile, has been desperately attempting to scrub its sites of all evidence of Wilcox’s associations with the Witherspoon Institute.

Wilcox, however, as noted by the sociologist Dr. Perrin, constantly used his Witherspoon Institute affiliation as a resume booster. To see abundant evidence of Wilcox’s affiliations with the Witherspoon Institute, go here.


Fresh evidence demonstrates conclusively that Wilcox was indeed working as a Witherspoon official when he collaborated with Regnerus on study design.

Here is that evidence:

At the University of Virginia, Wilcox is Director of the National Marriage Project. Regnerus’s published study says that a “leading family researcher” from the University of Virginia was on Regnerus’s study design team.

This reporter sent an Open Records Act request to Regnerus’s University of Texas, asking for one very specific sort of documentation only. I asked only for Regnerus study consulting contracts that were 1) for study design; and 2) made for anybody from the University of Virginia.

On October 4, 2012, I received a letter from UT.  The letter states that the university has no documents responsive to my request. What that means, is that when Witherspoon program director Brad Wilcox collaborated with Regnerus on study design, he did so as a Witherspoon agent — as a Witherspoon Program Director — not as an independent contractor through Regnerus’s university.


Regnerus and his funders booby-trapped the study against gays for political reasons.

Regnerus and his funders are actively and deliberately seeking to mislead the public into believing that Regnerus conducted his study independently of his funders’ anti-gay-rights political goals for the study.

Witherspoon tells that deliberate lie in Question 13 of the stand-alone site it created to promote the Regnerus study.

Regnerus tells that lie right in his published study. Regnerus has written “No funding agency representatives were consulted about research design, survey contents, analyses or conclusions.”

Yet, very, very obviously, when Wilcox was Witherspoon’s Director of the Program on Family, Marriage and Democracy, he was a Regnerus study “funding agency representative.”

Regnerus clearly is lying.


Witherspoon did not just arrange for Regnerus to have his full $785,000 in study funding, and then tell him to do whatever he wanted with it.

Rather, as per Regnerus’s C.V. downloadable from his author’s website, Witherspoon gave Regnerus a $55,000 planning grant before giving him his full study funding.

That means that Witherspoon had to approve Regnerus’s study plan, before it would give him his full study funding.

In the period of the Witherspoon planning grant, Regnerus collaborated with Witherspoon’s Wilcox on study design.


Regnerus says that his study answers this question:

“Do the children of gay and lesbian parents look comparable to those of their heterosexual counterparts?”

Regnerus’s study methodology, though, did not truly allow for studying children of gay and lesbian parents.

The majority of Regnerus’s study subjects — as per his own admission in his study — were products of opposite-sex couples who later separated, with one parent going on to have a same-sex relationship.

In asking about childhood sex abuse, Regnerus asked his young adult respondents if “a parent or other adult caregiver” ever sexually victimized them.

The result thus is un-interpretable. The respondent’s heterosexual parent, or a babysitter, or a priest could have committed the alleged sexual victimization.

Yet, in their anti-gay attack ads based on the Regnerus study, NOM attributes the alleged child sex abuse exclusively to gay parents. Regnerus himself has done that on national television.

Regnerus alleges that 23% of his study’s children of “lesbian mothers” were sexually victimized as children.

Past studies of lesbian mothers have consistently found low rates of child sex abuse. The second highest rate for child sex abuse in Regnerus’s study is step-families, at 12% just over half that for lesbian mothers.

Regnerus’s “finding” has no credibility. Other of Regnerus’s reported results are just plainly absurd.  In any event, it is impossible to say who committed the alleged sex abuse, and therefore, connecting it to lesbian mothers in any way is defamatory.

To connect a mother to sex abuse of her child, in the public mind, with no knowledge of whether the mother ever abused her child, is as despicable as blaming a rape victim for getting raped.

The numbers seen in Regnerus’s published study are not the same as those in the data files given to him by Knowledge Networks, the company that administered his study’s surveys.

Rather, Regnerus applied weights and controls and used other tools to adjust the number.

To know the correct weights and controls to use, a sociologist must be certain of the percent which the minority he is studying constitutes within the general population.

Regnerus only vaguely described “lesbian mother” or “gay father.” If his respondents said that a parent had ever had “a same-sex romantic relationship,” Regnerus counted them as having either a “lesbian mother” or a “gay father.”

However, there is simply no way to know what percent of the general population has a parent who has ever had “a same-sex romantic relationship.”

That is what one would need to know, in order to be able to apply a correct “weight” or “control” to Regnerus’s raw data.

It is absolutely true, that neither Regnerus nor anybody else knows the correct weights to use for Regnerus’s very vaguely defined, so-called “lesbian mothers” and/or “gay fathers.”

In sum that means; 1)  that in applying weights and controls and other strategies to his raw data; 2) Regnerus and Wilcox were free to play around with theoretical population percents representing children of; 3)  a parent who has ever had a “same-sex romantic relationship,” 4) moving the study’s “finding” number up or down, according to the result that Regnerus and Wilcox most wanted to be able to report to the public.

I directly asked Regnerus to explain to me how he derived his reported finding — that “23% of lesbian mothers’ children are sexually victimized” — from his raw data.

Regnerus refused to answer.

A sociologist who had behaved honestly with his study’s numbers should have no hesitations about explaining how he derived his reported numbers from his data.


Regnerus very willingly gives lengthy, rambling  interviews to right wing religious publications, but refuses to respond to simple, direct, science-based inquiries about his study.

Subsequently, I made an Open Records Act request to UT, asking for all of the Regnerus study’s data analyses communications between Regnerus and Wilcox.

In reaction to that request, UT sent the Texas Attorney General a letter, asking for exemptions to my document request.

The UT letter told the Texas Attorney General that Wilcox was involved with both data collection and data analyses on the Regnerus study.

So, Wilcox was involved in collaborating with Regnerus during many stages of the study, including 1) when the vague way of defining gay parents was settled on; 2) when the vague question about child sex abuse was formulated; 3) when the data was collected, and 4) when the data was analyzed.

It can almost seem funny, that Regnerus claims to have “found” that out of every 2,988 Americans aged 18 to 39, six-hundred and twenty have never once in their lives masturbated.

As obviously untrue as that is, though, Regnerus and his NOM-linked funders and NOM itself are using his equally ridiculous, maliciously invented sex abuse “findings” to demonize gay people and to hate-and-fear-monger voters into voting against gay rights.


On November 3, 2012, Regnerus and Witherspoon’s Ana Samuel — a hateful anti-gay bigot — will be appearing together to discuss the study at an event sponsored by a Witherspoon/NOM affiliate, the so-called Love and Fidelity Network.

Love and Fidelity has its office space inside Witherspoon’s building on the Princeton campus. NOM/Witherspoon’s Robert P. George, and Witherspoon/NOM’s Luis Tellez, as well as NOM’s Maggie Gallagher are on the “Love and Fidelity” advisory board.

Also appearing to discuss the study with Regnerus and his funding agency representative Ana Samuel will be Robert Oscar Lopez, who appears to fit into the documented NOM strategy for getting children of gay parents to denounce their own parents to the public.

Regnerus recruited Lopez off the internet, and Lopez’s gay-bashing essay subsequently was published on Witherspoon’s “Public Discourse.”

At the time Lopez’s essay appeared in “Public Discourse,” Brad Wilcox was listed on the roster of the “Public Discourse” editorial board.

After I reported that fact, Witherspoon scrubbed Wilcox’s name off its editorial board roster. Witherspoon previously has been caught scrubbing incriminating, Regnerus-related evidence from its websites.


Regnerus, the Witherspoon Institute, and Brad Wilcox all are very deliberately lying to the public,in hopes of misleading the public into believing that Regnerus conducted his study independently of his funders’ anti-gay-rights political goals for it.

Regnerus did not conduct his study independently of his funders’ anti-gay-rights political goals for it.

Regnerus very actively continues to promote his study with his anti-gay-rights funding agency representatives, while refusing to take any science-based questions about his study from the non-anti-gay-bigot media.

New York City-based novelist and freelance writer Scott Rose’s LGBT-interest by-line has appeared on,, The New York Blade,, Girlfriends and in numerous additional venues. Among his other interests are the arts, boating and yachting, wine and food, travel, poker and dogs. His “Mr. David Cooper’s Happy Suicide” is about a New York City advertising executive assigned to a condom account.

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The convoluted legal case for reparative therapy

From LGBTQ Nation:

Saturday, October 6, 2012

If there is one thing that we learned by the Pacific Justice Institute’s lawsuit against California Gov. Jerry Brown, and anyone in his orbit remotely connected to a new law banning “ex-gay” therapy for minors, is that these lawyers are as logic challenged and convoluted as the industry they are poorly defending.

For example, they disingenuously write, “…while the Plaintiffs generally agree that they practice reparative therapy in at least some senses of the words, they do not concede that they are “seeking” to “change” anyone’s sexual orientation.”

That’s some impressive judicial jujitsu, considering the same lawyers reference the term Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) multiple times in their legal brief. Like when they write, “SB 1172 deprives parents of this right, and hinders them from fulfilling their responsibilities, by prohibiting mental health professionals from offering “sexual orientation change efforts” to minors.”

The second fascinating argument is made on behalf of Dr. Anthony Duk, who feigns concern for equal rights.

According to the legal brief:

If a minor’s objectives are to bring his or her sexual conduct and desires into conformity with the religious traditions, cultural norms, and moral standards of the minor, Dr. Duk can provide treatment so long as the minor is heterosexual…Dr. Duk is therefore required to discriminate against minor patients for no other reason than their sexual orientation.

Of course, the real discrimination comes from the fact that such quackery is only offered to LGBT clients because such biased therapists consider homosexuality to be immoral. If the good doctor were genuinely concerned about equality, he would have long offered his services to turn heterosexuals into homosexuals. But as far as I can tell, that service is not on the menu.

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Second Ex-Gay Lawsuit Claims Some Parents Can’t Love And Affirm A Gay Child

This is absolutely horrible and makes an extremely good case for therapy to cure the parents addiction to sick fantasies like god and religion.

Homophobia and transphobia need to be classified as mental illnesses.

From Think Progress:

By Zack Ford
on Oct 5, 2012

Yesterday, ThinkProgress analyzed the many outlandish claims made by the Pacific Justice Institute’s lawsuit challenging California’s new ban on ex-gay therapy for minors. The Liberty Counsel also promised a lawsuit and filed their complaint this week on behalf of NARTH and the infamous reparative therapist Joseph Nicolosi, who uses pornography in his therapy to treat what he considers to be the sinful condition of homosexuality. In fact, almost every plaintiff in this suit is either one of Nicolosi’s current clients or a therapist who learned ex-gay therapy from him, including David Pickup, who claimed on CNN this week that homosexuality is “caused” by sexual trauma (which he reiterates in the suit).

While the Liberty Counsel suit makes many of the same empty claims about patients’ right to “choose” therapies that don’t work and therapists’ rights to freedom of speech and religion, it also paints a more vivid picture of why the law is necessary to protect children. Among the plaintiffs are two families getting ex-gay treatment for their sons, and the lawsuit claims that continuing this therapy is important, because only by denying their homosexuality can these boys repair their relationships with their parents:

SB 1172 directly interferes with John Doe 1’s and John DOE 2’s rights to self-determination, and the right of their parents to determine the upbringing and education of their minor children, including the well-being of their spiritual needs. […]

Because of Dr. Nicolosi’s SOCE counseling, the DOE 2 family has become closer and exhibited a greater degree of family unity. […] Dr. Nicolosi’s SOCE counseling with Doe 2 has had an important impact on John Doe 2 and his parents and has substantially helped their relationship. […] Dr. Nicolosi believes that if he is prohibited from continuing his SOCE counseling with Doe 2, then Doe 2 will suffer an immediate regression in his understanding of his same-sex attractions and will suffer difficulty in continuing the development and healing of Doe 2’s relationship with his parents.

In other words, if this kid doesn’t keep participating in this quackery to repress his orientation, his parents will go back to rejecting him. That’s exactly what happened to Ryan Kendall, a former patient of Nicolosi’s who testified against Proposition 8 and in favor of this new law:

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Victor Cruz: “I Support President Barack Obama.”

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NPR anchor ties term ‘illegal immigrant’ to Nazi Germany

From Raw Story:

By Arturo Garcia
Sunday, October 7, 2012

NPR Latino USA anchor María Hinojosa told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes Sunday her opposition to the term “illegal immigrant” stemmed from a conversation with Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel years ago in which Wiesel said the term was part of the horrors he faced in his youth.

“If there is an authority, you should be it,” Hinojosa said she told Wiesel. “And he said, ‘María, don’t ever use the term ‘illegal immigrant.’ And I said, ‘Why?’ And he said, ‘Because once you label a people ‘illegal,’ that is exactly what the Nazis did to Jews.’ You do not label a people ‘illegal.’ They have committed an illegal act. They are immigrants who crossed illegally. They are immigrants who crossed without papers. They are immigrants who crossed without permission. They are living in this country without permission. But they are not an illegal people.”

The use of the term resurfaced for debate this week, with undocumented journalist and immigration advocate Jose Antonio Vargas and New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan recently discussing the use of it in the press.

“I see no advantage for Times readers in a move away from the paper’s use of the phrase ‘illegal immigrant,’” Sullivan wrote in an Oct. 2 column. “It is clear and accurate; it gets its job done in two words that are easily understood. The same cannot be said of the most frequently suggested alternatives — ‘unauthorized,’ ‘immigrants without legal status,’ ‘undocumented.’”

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Dark Secret of the US Military — Neo-Nazis and Criminals Are Filling Its Ranks

From Alternet:

How the armed services have become a sanctuary for racists and the mentally unfit.

By Matt Kennard
October 3, 2012

The following is an excerpt from ” Irregular Army: How The US Military Recruited Neo-Nazis, Gang Members, And Criminals To Fight The War On Terror ,” by Matt Kennard (Verso Books, 2012).

My journey into the dark underworld of the  US military  begins on a rainy Tuesday morning in March 2008, with a visit to Tampa, Florida. I am here to meet Forrest Fogarty, an American patriot who served in the US army for two years in  Iraq. Fogarty is also a white supremacist of the serious Hitler-worshipping type.

We meet in his favourite hangout, the Winghouse Bar & Grill. In our brief phone call, I’d asked how I would recognise him. “Just look for the skinhead with the tattoos,” he said. And sure enough, sitting straight to my right as I walk in is a youngish-looking man, plastered in tattoos, with cropped hair and bulging biceps. “You’re British, right,” he says, as we order. “I remember seeing black guys with British accents in Iraq, shit was so crazy.”

Fogarty tells me he was bullied at his LA high school by Mexican and African-American children, and was just 14 when he decided he wanted to be a Nazi. He has no qualms about flaunting his prejudice. When black people come into the bar, he emits a hiss of disapproval. “I just don’t want to be around them,” he tells me. “I don’t want to look at them, I don’t want them near me.”

As a young man, Fogarty was obsessed with Ian Stuart Donaldson , the legendary singer in the British band Skrewdriver, who is hero-worshipped in the neo-Nazi music scene. At 16, he had an image from one of Skrewdriver’s album covers – a Viking carrying an axe, an icon among white nationalists – tattooed on his left forearm. Soon after, he had a Celtic cross, an Irish symbol appropriated by neo-Nazis, emblazoned on his stomach. A few years later, he started his own band, Attack, now one of the biggest Nazi bands in the US. But it was never his day job. “I was a landscaper when I left school,” he says. “I kind of fell into it. I didn’t give a shit what I was doing, I was just drinking and fighting.”

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Is Mitt Romney being set up as the new Ronald Reagan?

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Food MythBusters Take on Big Ag’s Worst Lies

From Alternet:

For those who are tired of the ad campaigns, the trade-group public relations machines, the lobbying, the front groups and the myth-making from Big Ag and Big Food.

By Anna Lappé
October 3, 2012

 It’s a tired old refrain you’ve probably heard before: “Industrial agriculture is the only way to feed the world.” Even if you shop at your weekly farmers market, and love your local kale and carrots, maybe you also secretly worry: Are you cursing people to more hunger around the world for your organic proclivities?

Well, folks, the research is in. Study after study is showing the opposite is true: we can only ensure a well-fed world if we start shifting away from an agricultural system dependent on fossil fuels, mined minerals, and lots of water—all of which will only get more costly as they run out. Some of the most esteemed global institutions have documented that the best way to fight hunger—and grow food abundantly—is to go for organic and ecological production methods and get people eating whole, real food again.

So if we have scientific consensus, why don’t we have more public consciousness? You can find the answer in the marketing budgets of Big Ag. Thanks to well-funded, multi-decade communications campaigns by the very corporations profiting from chemical agriculture, many of us are still in the dark about the true costs of industrial agriculture and the true potential of sustainable agriculture.

Thanks to these efforts, we are inundated with messaging that we need their products—chemicals, fertilizer, genetically engineered seeds—to ensure the world is fed. We hear it all the time.

We hear the grain trader, ADM, is supermarket to the world—while the company’s price-fixing scandals were so outrageous they became fodder for a Matt Damon, Hollywood film.

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The Cancer Lobby

From The New York Times:

Published: October 6, 2012

WHO knew that carcinogens had their own lobby in Washington?

Don’t believe me? Just consider formaldehyde, which is found in everything from nail polish to kitchen countertops, fabric softeners to carpets. Largely because of its use in building materials, we breathe formaldehyde fumes when we’re inside our homes.

Just one other fact you should know: According to government scientists, it causes cancer.

The chemical industry is working frantically to suppress that scientific consensus — because it fears “public confusion.” Big Chem apparently worries that you might be confused if you learned that formaldehyde caused cancer of the nose and throat, and perhaps leukemia as well.

The industry’s strategy is to lobby Congress to cut off money for the Report on Carcinogens, a 500-page consensus document published every two years by the National Institutes of Health, containing the best information about what agents cause cancer. If that sounds like shooting the messenger, well, it is.

“The way the free market is supposed to work is that you have information,” said Lynn Goldman, dean of the school of public health at George Washington University. “They’re trying to squelch that information.”

The larger issue is whether the federal government should be a watchdog for public health, or a lap dog for industry. When Mitt Romney denounces President Obama for excessive regulation, these are the kinds of issues at stake.

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106 Years Old and Voting for President Obama: “Red, White and Blue, Going Forward!”

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How the West Is Exploiting the Labor Class

From Huffington Post:


It has been three weeks since the deadly fire at a Karachi garments factory consumed 289 lives. It was the deadliest industrial disaster in contemporary times but failed to blip on the global conscience radar. Not even in Britain, which was an importer of goods manufactured in the factory. Along with Britain, the factory is said to supply garments to other European Union states as well. The denim jackets and jeans the Brits and French are wearing might have come from that sweatshop in a seedy area of Karachi. One where the hands that made them might have turned to ashes by now.

True that the fire coincided with the killings of four American diplomats in Libya. An event that captured global media attention and continues to do so. American lives, after all, are worth more than those of petty workers in a third-world country. Still, they deserved more attention but the global media largely stayed silent on the tragedy.

This was not an isolated event either. In 2006, more than 50 workers died in a blaze at a Bangladeshi textile mill. The mass casualties reflect the rot caused by neo-industrialism and the business of outsourcing. Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Indian and Vietnamese workers toil in the most inhumane of conditions, making wares for international brands. Apple, the epitome of modern consumer trends, gets its components made from China, in production units with questionable working conditions. Things are not better at other outsourced units in China either. A New York Times report found heinous violations of labor laws, low wages and underage workers toiling day and night to make wares for Western consumers.

The fact that millions are attached to the outsourced operations of western conglomerates should be of some interest to an average customer in London, Paris or New York. The harsh reality of the cruel working conditions, meager wages and modern slavery at some of these units should be alarming to some, if not all of the buyers. A Bangladeshi mother spends 16 hours a day at a garment factory while her children roam on the streets and often become victims of abuse. She hardly earns enough to put food on the table so getting her kids educated is out of the question. The same goes for her counterparts in Pakistan, India, Vietnam and Laos.

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From Indonesia to California, Laborers Say ‘No’ to Precarious Work

From In These Times:

By Michelle Chen
Friday Oct 5, 2012

Do you know who your boss is? Wherever you are in the world, it’s getting harder to tell who’s responsible for making your workday miserable.

When Walmart warehouse workers in California and Illinois went on strike last month, they weren’t just challenging the world’s retail hegemon, they were rising up against a broader global traffic in manpower. Many of the protesting workers had been hired indirectly through staffing agencies.

Working through agencies has become the new normal. Instead of the traditional way of connecting people to work–employing them directly–corporations rely on agencies to supply workers in various industries, from shipping to electronics, while minimizing obligations to offer job security or decent working conditions. It’s a perfect tool for displacing regular workers and doing end-runs around unions and workers’ rights.

A new global union coalition, the Geneva-based IndustriALL, has pioneered a movement to confront this emerging regime of “precarious labor.” The group’s new report calls out these agencies, the unscrupulous firms who use them, and the government policies that abet the downward spiral of deteriorating rights and labor conditions.

The report, drawing from data in several countries, shows exactly why agency labor is so appealing to capital. Fluid workforces are structurally designed to be unstable, allow industry more latitude to marginalize workers through outside agencies.

According to the report, “the industry’s global annual sales revenue increased from €83 billion [$103.4 billion] in 1996 to €203 billion [$265.1 billion] in 2009 and the number of agency workers has more than doubled over the same period.” The organization says this system effectively  the different players involved–the contractor, the “user” company, and workers–to keep employees isolated and thus more vulnerable.

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