From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/02/iranian-film-taboo-subject-transsexuals
Adineh and Rana are women from very different sides of the track. Wealthy, modern and rebellious, Adineh has fled the family home, harbouring a secret desire to become a man. Rana, from a conservative religious background, gives her a lift in the taxi she has been forced to drive since her husband was sent to jail.
The burgeoning relationship between the two forms the heart of Facing Mirrors, a film that hit cinemas in Tehran this week and brought the taboo subject of transsexuality to the big screen for the first time.
One of the many astonishing paradoxes about life in the Islamic republic is that transsexuality has been legal since a fatwa was issued in 1987 by the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Indeed, Iran permits more sex-change operations than any other country, except Thailand, and has long subsidised such surgeries. But, though transsexuals may have the support of the government, they remains highly controversial figures among the public.
The religious ruling was issued thanks to the activities in the 1980s of Maryam Khatoon Molkara, a campaigner for the rights of transsexuals in Iran, who wrote to Khomeini asking him to determine their fate. Molkara had herself previously been a man, and worked for the state TV before the Islamic revolution in 1979. In the mid-70s, she started to write to Khomeini, who was in exile, asking for religious authorisation for a sex-change operation. In 1987, after a decade of campaigning, she went in person to the home of Khomeini, by then the country’s supreme leader, and came back with a fatwa in hand that allowed transsexuals to choose their sex.
Before making the film, its producer Fereshteh Taerpour said she did not even know the fatwa existed. “At the beginning, it was very strange for me to find out that sex-change operation is permitted in Iran,” she told the Guardian. “The authorities give loans and even issue new ID cards after the surgery, something that is not legal in many countries.”
Despite the fatwa, transsexuality is rarely discussed in public. The release of Facing Mirrors, which has attracted a great deal of attention, has created an opportunity for Iranian media to address the issue. Even the state-run television and radio channels, which typically avoid such topics, have reported on the film.
Continue reading at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/nov/02/iranian-film-taboo-subject-transsexuals
Domaine Javier says the first officer at Vancouver International Airport gave her a “weirded look” after checking her passport.
“The picture in my passport is me, but it doesn’t look like me anymore,” Javier explains, noting that the passport still describes her as male. But, she says, the officer didn’t overtly ask any questions about her gender identity.
Javier told the officer that she was taking a break from work and had come to Vancouver on vacation after a friend bought her a plane ticket and that she would do casting calls for a show while here.
Javier says the officer wrote a number on a card and told her to “go ahead.” Another officer checked the card and directed her to a room where people were having their luggage checked. A third officer then asked to see her passport and boarding pass.
“They checked my stuff, and then they borrowed my ID, and then she was like, ‘Oh, you’re a transgender?’ I was like, ‘Yeah.’ She’s like, ‘Oh, no problem, we see these people a lot of times. We deal with them all the time in here.’”
Javier says the officer then took her passport, boarding pass, online ticket and cellphone.
A half-hour later the officer returned and again questioned Javier, who says she repeated her reasons for coming to Vancouver. Then the officer questioned her about three bottles of medication in her purse, one of which was unlabelled and contained Vicodin, Javier says.
“They were like, ‘You’re trying to smuggle controlled drugs into the country,’” Javier says.
At that point, another officer passing by saw the bottles, came into the room and began questioning her in a “rude and disrespectful” manner, she alleges.
From Carl Siciliano.
Dear Friends, Yesterday we were finally able to inspect our drop-in center in Chelsea, half a block from the Hudson River. Our worst fears were realized; everything was destroyed and the space is uninhabitable. The water level went four feet high, destroying our phones, computers, refrigerator, food and supplies.This is a terrible tragedy for the homeless LGBT youth we serve there. This space was dedicated to our most vulnerable kids, the thousands stranded on the streets without shelter, and was a place where they received food, showers, clothing, medical care, HIV testing and treatment, and mental health and substance abuse services. Basically a lifeline for LGBT kids whose lives are in danger.
We are currently scrambling for a plan to provide care to these desperate kids while we prepare to ultimately move into a larger space that will better meet our needs. The NYC LGBT Center has very kindly and generously offered to let us temporarily use some of their space, and we hope to determine the viability of that on Monday.
We have been deluged with kind offers from people who wish to volunteer and donate goods. Unfortunately, we will have to provide our services in the time being in much smaller spaces that won’t accommodate volunteers or allow for much storage space. The best way people can reach out to help in this very challenging time is by making monetary donations. Please go to our website.
It is heartbreaking to see this space come to such a sad end. For the past seven years it has been a place of refuge to thousands of kids reeling from being thrown away by their parents for being LGBT. For many of these kids coming to our drop-in center provided their first encounter with a loving and affirming LGBT community. I thank all of you for your care and support in a most difficult time.
I know that this has been a time when many donations on many different fronts have been needed and appreciated. I’m pretty tapped out myself. But if you have even a small amount to spare to help out a place that provides such needed help to our homeless LGBT youth, I know they would greatly appreciate it. Here is a link to donate if you are in a position to do so.
by Scott Roberts
2 November 2012
Catholic Care has lost its latest appeal in its fight to be allowed to prevent gay couples from using its adoption services.
Since 2008, the Leeds-based faith group, which arranges around five adoptions each year, has maintained that unless it is able to exclude gay people as potential guardians it would lose vital church funding.
However, on Friday, a judge dismissed Catholic Care’s latest appeal at the Upper Tribunal in central London.
According to ThirdSector, in its ruling, Mr Justice Sales said Catholic Care had failed to provide sufficient evidence that its funding would dry up, and it would be forced to close, if it complied with the law.
The agency, which serves the dioceses of Leeds, Middlesbrough, and Hallam in South Yorkshire, had argued the Equality Act went against the Catholic Church’s teachings on marriage and family life.
In response to the ruling, Catholic Care said in a statement:
From RH Reality Check: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/11/01/prop-35
by Melissa Gira Grant, Independent Journalist
November 1, 2012
California voters hold the power this Election Day to decide if many thousands of people convicted of prostitution-related offenses in their state must now register as sex offenders. These are their neighbors, their friends, their family—whether they know it or not—and many are women: trans- and cisgender women, poor and working class women, and disproportionately, they are women of color.
This attack on women already made vulnerable to violence and poverty is just one of the possible consequences of Proposition 35, a ballot initiative marketed to voters as a tough law to fight trafficking but is instead a “tough on crime” measure backed with millions of dollars from one influential donor, written by a community activist with little experience in the issue. If it passes? Advocates for survivors of trafficking, civil rights attorneys, and sex workers fear that rather than protect Californians, it will expose their communities to increased police surveillance, arrest, and the possibility of being labeled a “sex offender” for the rest of their lives.
Trafficking is a hot-button issue, where even defining what is meant by the term is contentious and deeply politicized—but at a minimum, it describes forced labor, where the force may be physical or psychological in nature. The International Labor Organization (ILO) estimates that nearly 22 million people may be involved in forced labor worldwide, the majority of which does not involve forced labor in the sex trade. In the United States, anti-trafficking law developed over the last ten years has advanced definitions of trafficking. In addition to Federal law, states have passed their own trafficking laws, which overlap with existing laws against forced labor, child labor, minor prostitution, or prostitution in general.
A good deal of advocacy around trafficking is concerned with proposing new laws, with several organizations—such as the Polaris Project and Shared Hope International—focused on introducing copycat legislation state-after-state, focused on increasing criminal penalties associated with trafficking and moving resources to law enforcement. There is little evidence that strengthening criminal penalties and relying primarily on law enforcement are strategies to end forced labor; in fact, advocates who work with survivors of trafficking, as well as people involved in the sex trade and sex worker rights’ advocates, have documented the limitations and dangers of a “tough on crime” approach on trafficking. Still, the “tough on crime” approach has become dominant in what some anti-trafficking advocates now call “the war on trafficking.”
Continue reading at: http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/11/01/prop-35
With just days to go before Election Day, voters are poised to make history.
By Paul Armentano
November 2, 2012
With just days to go before Election Day, voters in two states – Colorado and Washington – are poised to make history.
In Colorado, voters will decide on Amendment 64 , a Constitutional amendment that allows for those age 21 or older to legally possess up to one ounce of cannabis and cultivate up to six cannabis plants in the privacy of their home. Longer-term, the measure seeks to establish regulations governing the commercial production and distribution of marijuana by licensed retailers. Voters in the state are backing the measure by a margin of 53 percent to 43 percent, according to the latest Public Policy Polling survey.
In Washington, voters will decide on I-502 , a statewide ballot measure that enacts regulations regarding the state-licensed production and sale of marijuana for adults. The measure also removes criminal penalties for adults who possess up to one ounce of cannabis for personal use. According to a K ING 5/Survey USA poll published late this week, likely voters back the ballot initiative by a margin of 56 percent to 37 percent.
The passage of one or both of these statewide measures this Tuesday will be both historic and game-changing. Here’s why.
For the first time in well over seven decades, state law will declare that cannabis is no longer contraband
While a minority of marijuana law reform activists has griped that these measures do not go far enough, the reality is that their passage will provide cannabis consumers with unprecedented legal protections. Presently, no state legally defines cannabis as a legal commodity. Some state laws do provide for a legal exception that allows for certain qualified patients to possess specific amounts of cannabis as needed. But none of these states define cannabis itself as a legal product that may be lawfully possessed and consumed by adults.
By Kay Steiger
Saturday, November 3, 2012
Virginia state officials are expanding an investigation to probe the Republican consulting firm Strategic Allied Consulting after canceling a grand jury hearing scheduled for Tuesday for Colin Small, who faces 13 counts of voter fraud for throwing voter registration forms in the recycling bin.
Two sources told the Washington Post on Friday that officials are investigating whether the firm told Small or up to 40 other employees to ask about political leanings while registering voters. This is a violation of election law.
KDVR’s Josh Bernstein confirmed on Thursday that the company’s Nathan Sproul has been interviewed by the FBI (transcript here) over election irregularities and confirmed that Sproul’s name did not appear on the articles of incorporation for Strategic Allied Consulting.
Sproul told to Bernstein that his name didn’t appear on the firm’s documents because “if you look at what the liberal blogs write about me, it makes it very difficult to operate.”
The Virginia investigation is compounded by an additional investigation into voter registration irregularities nine counties reported in Florida, all supplied by Strategic Allied Consulting. The forms, which KDVR published here, contained false and invalid information.
Democrats have urged the Department of Justice to open an investigation into the firm’s alleged voter fraud. The Republican National Committee paid the firm $2.9 million to the firm to register voters in Florida, Virginia, Colorado, North Carolina and Nevada. Though the RNC cut ties with the firm after allegations of voter fraud surfaced in Florida, the Virginia Republican party re-hired the firm.
From Robert Reich: http://robertreich.org/post/34831152302
By Robert Reich
Friday, November 2, 2012
The two most important trends, confirmed in today’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, are that (1) jobs slowly continue to return, and (2) those jobs are paying less and less.
Today’s report showed 171,000 workers were added to payrolls in October, up from 148,000 in September. At the same time, unemployment rose to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent last month. The reason for the seeming disparity: As jobs have begun to return, more people have been entering the labor force seeking employment. The household survey, on which the unemployment percentage is based, counts as “unemployed” only people who are looking for work.
As I’ve said, you have to take a single month’s report with a grain of salt because the job reports bounce around a great deal, and are often revised. Last month the BLS announced that 114,000 new jobs were created in September. Today the BLS revised that September figure upward to 148,000.
Overall, the jobs trend is in the right direction. The President and Democrats can take some comfort.
The most disturbing aspect of today’s report is the continuing decline of wages. Average hourly earnings climbed 1.6 percent in October from the same time last year. That’s not enough to match the rate of inflation – meaning that hourly earnings continue to drop in real terms.
It’s also the smallest gain since comparable year-over-year records began in 2007, before the Great Recession. Earnings for production workers – about 80 percent of the workforce — rose only 1.1 percent in the 12 months to October. That’s way behind inflation, and the weakest wage growth since the BLS began keeping records on wages in 1965.
Continue reading at: http://robertreich.org/post/34831152302
From Green For All: http://greenforall.org/?post=the-storm-we-cant-ignore
November 2, 2012
Lately it seems like no one wants to talk about global warming. The issue has received so little attention from our political candidates during this election cycle that you’d think the problem had evaporated. That is until this week when Hurricane Sandy hit, flattening coastal neighborhoods, leaving millions of Americans without power and forcing dozens of others to face the worst loss of all as their loved ones were swept away.
The storm was unlike anything we’ve seen in a generation. It was also a sobering reminder of what’s in store for us if we don’t get serious about fighting climate change. We’ll face more frequent and intense hurricanes, along with drought, wildfire and flooding. Globally, we’ll see a spike in food and water shortages, famine, disease, and conflicts over shrinking resources. And poor communities will be hit first and hit hardest.
It’s understandable that climate change has been the last thing on many of our minds. Americans have so much to worry about these days. Too many people are struggling to make ends meet. People are working longer and harder than ever, with less to show for it. When you’re worried about what’s for dinner and how to pay the rent, it’s tough to get worked up about something that seems far-off and distant like global warming.
But for many Americans, it’s a problem that’s become impossible to forget. They don’t have the luxury of ignoring rising sea levels and erratic weather.
A study published in Scientific American found that America’s poor and minority communities are already more vulnerable to the worst impacts of climate change. For example, African-Americans living in Los Angeles are more than twice as likely to die during a heat wave than other residents of the city, because they tend to live in “heat islands” where temperatures are magnified by concrete and asphalt, with limited access to air conditioning or cars. Meanwhile, Latinos, who make up 77 percent of California’s agricultural workforce, will face increased economic hardship as climate change damages industries like dairy and grapes.
We’ve seen it time and time again. When natural disasters strike, the poorest among us are hit hardest, from the folks who didn’t have the resources to evacuate during Hurricane Katrina to Americans who are still reeling from Sandy, and won’t be able to rebuild their homes, or even restock their freezers.
But it’s not inevitable. We don’t have to stand by quietly and watch as more and more storms ravage communities. We can do something about it.
Continue reading at: http://greenforall.org/?post=the-storm-we-cant-ignore
From The Guardian UK: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/02/sandy-new-york-untold-tragedies
In every natural disaster, there are pictures of devastation that quickly become iconic; stories of heartache that become headlines.
There are also thousands of other small, individual tragedies that will never make a national headline. Stories that may, at best, warrant a passing sentence in a newspaper, a line in a local radio newscast, lost in the overall drama.
But their impact is just as moving. The tragedy that befell my neighborhood – two blocks is all it affected – will never warrant a story anywhere else but here. It is a hurricane Sandy tragedy just the same.
It is a story that highlights how lives from different backgrounds are suddenly brought together by unimaginable events in unimaginable ways.
I have always counted myself fortunate to live in lower Manhattan; an old warehouse building, almost on the bank of the Hudson River that proved to be literally in the eye of Monday’s storm.
Across the street – maybe 50 feet away – in a building basement, was the garage where I had parked my car for eight years. Customers were primarily from the building above and the building opposite, where I lived. Mine was a second-hand car, modest compared to many; several days a week, the men who worked in the garage would park it with good humor and courtesy.
Empire Parking it is called, in Laight Street, run for years by Mike, the manager, and a team of three others. While Mike and I always talked sports and family in passing, one of his colleagues was always quiet. I saw him less than most. He worked the night shift, starting at 11pm, finishing at dawn.
Continue reading at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/02/sandy-new-york-untold-tragedies