Let’s Celebrate… Then Let’s Make History Again

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/allyson-d-robinson/outserve-sldn_b_2101469.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices


This week our LGBT community helped make history, as voters across the nation rejected homophobia practically en masse to protect our civil rights and affirm our humanity. We’ve listed our wins so often since Tuesday that they now roll like a litany off our tongues: President Obama, reelected; marriage equality’s disheartening record of defeat at the ballot box, reversed; America’s first openly gay Senator on her way to Washington and a cadre of lesbian, gay and bisexual representatives stepping up to take her place in the House. (By the way: well done, LGBT community.)

Some commentators declared that I’d made history myself just two weeks ago when I was named the first Executive Director of the new OutServe-SLDN, the nation’s advocacy organization for LGBT service members, veterans and their families. When asked how it felt, becoming the first transgender person to lead a national LGBT civil rights organization, all I could say was that it was unbelievably humbling, a little overwhelming, and that I was glad to be joining a team that has become accustomed to making history.

Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) emerged in 1993 to defend service members against the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, with all its career- and life-shattering implications. Since then, the organization has assisted more than 12,000 LGBT troops who have had legal issues related to their sexual orientation or gender identity. SLDN’s established presence in Washington and its deep connection to so many who were hurt by DADT made it the perfect organization to lead the fight for the law’s repeal.

Then, as that fight began to heat up, OutServe came on the scene with its own brand of history-making chutzpah. What began as an underground network of enterprising LGBT service members using Facebook to connect with one another quickly grew into a driving force behind the movement to end the law, joining SLDN and other allies in the fight. OutServe lent the movement a moral power that was undeniable and helped all America to feel the shame DADT had brought upon our country.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/allyson-d-robinson/outserve-sldn_b_2101469.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

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‘Saving’ Trans Author Carter Sickles

From The Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/books/2012/11/09/saving-trans-author-carter-sickles

Transgender author Carter Sickles is making waves in the literary community with his powerful storytelling that resists the temptation to make precious the hardships in rural Southern America.

BY Sunnivie Brydum
November 09 2012

Carter Sickles made an impressive entry into the world of fiction with his heartfelt debut, The Evening Hour, a compelling exploration of the wreckage wrought upon rural Appalachia and its longtime residents by a harsh type of coal mining known as mountaintop removal. The Evening Hourhas been widely praised, with many critics commending Sickles’ power to create genuine, complex characters through stark, honest language.

Sickles’ ability to create insightful, tender and profoundly human characters shines through in his short story “Saving,” featured in The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard, now available through Topside Press. The characters in “Saving,” a trans man and his cisgender girlfriend who travel to the rural south to pack away his dead grandmother’s home, are flawed and messy, both finding themselves in a setting — and relationship — that no longer feels right. “Saving” holds its own against an impressive gathering of short fiction from 28 trans authors and emerges as one of the most honest and universal stories in The Collection. We caught up with Sickles, who identifies as a gay trans man, to pick his brain on character development, queer identity, and what he would have said to his younger self.

The Advocate: Both The Evening Hour and “Saving” create powerful landscapes set in rural southern America. Is that the environment you grew up in? Where were you born and raised?
Carter Sickles: I grew up in central Ohio, actually. My grandparents and most of my family are from southeastern Ohio, not far from West Virginia, where The Evening Hour takes place. Much of the culture and the socio-economic landscape in that part of Ohio is very similar to West Virginia.

You received a good deal of praise for your earnest portrayal of rural Appalachia in The Evening Hour, some critics saying you stripped away the rural romance that often clouds these stories. What drove you to write so honestly about this locale, decimated by mountaintop removal and corporate, economic, and social exploitation?

Continue reading at:  http://www.advocate.com/arts-entertainment/books/2012/11/09/saving-trans-author-carter-sickles

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Dan Savage Takes Down Hate Group Leader Tony Perkins

Hate Group Leader Tony Perkins: If SCOTUS Legalizes Gay Marriage, It Could Lead To Revolution

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What America’s Top LGBT Leaders Think Obama Must Do Next

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-badash/what-americas-top-lgbt-leaders-think-obama-must-do-next_b_2094040.html


Barack Obama’s win of a second term was achieved not in spite of his support of the LGBT community but in part because of it. The question now is what President Obama should do next in his second term to move the civil rights of people in our community “forward.” I asked 10 of America’s top LGBT leaders what they are thinking. From GLAAD to HRC to GetEQUAL, leaders from some of the most active organizations, along with independent and grassroots activists and opinion shapers, shared with me their thoughts and plans for “Obama 2.0.”

The good news? A tremendous amount of expectations overlap, which translates into a more united LGBT front that hopefully can speak louder and work together even more effectively.

LGBT leaders want the president to sign an executive order banning employment discrimination against LGBT people working in the federal government and working for government contractors — the executive order President Obama refused to sign earlier this year. And they want ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, passed, and DOMA, the ban on federal recognition of same-sex marriages, repealed. Perhaps the biggest surprise I heard — albeit one absolutely on-target — is their repeated demand for a resolution of sequestration, the impending financial “fiscal cliff,” fears of which brought the stock market to its knees the day after Obama won reelection. And, finally, as I’ve been advocating for years, many want to build coalitions with other social justice movements.

Given the success of what our opponents, like NOM’s Maggie Gallagher, are now calling “the Obama electorate” (which is, in reality, just who America has become), coalition building seems perhaps our greatest opportunity for furthering the momentum this week’s elections created.

“The huge victories that the LGBT community achieved — on ballot initiatives, in the election of Tammy Baldwin to the Senate, in the increase of our LGBT caucus in the House, and in the reelection of a president who stands with us on marriage equality — must be seen in concert with the powerful statement that the American electorate has just made about women’s equality and women’s dignity,” Tobias Barrington Wolff, a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, tells me.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-badash/what-americas-top-lgbt-leaders-think-obama-must-do-next_b_2094040.html

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Yes We Can, We Did, and Now Obama’s Second Term Is Our Responsibility

From Truth Dig:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/yes_we_can_we_did_and_now_obamas_second_term_is_our_responsibility_20121109/

By Robert Scheer
Posted on Nov 9, 2012

Yes, election night was a heck of a party and it’s great that the really bad guys lost. Karl Rove and his reactionary ilk were defeated by a new American majority that is younger, more tolerant, rainbow colored and multilingual and one in which women now trump the depressing ignorance of so many older white men. But morning in America already feels too much like a hangover. The house is still a wreck, the family is dysfunctional and there are enormous bills to pay that are not about to go away.

All of us suddenly sobered folks, who voted for Barack Obama because the alternative was so horridly wrong, have got to accept the moral implications of that choice. We won but at what cost? Fool me once, shame on Obama, but fool me twice and I’m the one responsible. That goes for his promises to right the economy by leveling the playing field as well as to end what Obama termed in his victory speech “a decade of war.”

It is now our fingers on the video game buttons that order the drones to kill innocent civilians, and we bear responsibility if the president maintains the Guantanamo gulag and continues to vilify Bradley Manning and Julian Assange for confronting America with its war crimes. Will he make good on his promise to hold the line on the incessant demands of the congressional defense contractor caucus or will he find yet another “good war”?

What about our expectation that Obama will be more vigilant than his vulture capitalist opponent in reining in the greed of the Wall Street crowd that has caused so much economic turmoil? The good news is that Obama, and his party, are far less beholden to the titans of the financial industry than they were the first time around. His own funding from top Wall Street firms that favored him in 2008 was way down, and across the country voters rejected the deregulation and lower tax on high-roller income that the finance industry thought it was buying for its more than $400 million in campaign contributions.

“Wall Street Took a Beating at the Polls,” ran the headline in The Wall Street Journal. Referring to what he bemoaned as “Tuesday’s multiple disappointments,” columnist David Weidner added, “not the least of which is the defeat of Mitt Romney, a former private-equity executive who promised to cut or at least review financial regulation while offering more tax breaks for investors. Mr. Romney was perhaps the best hope for Wall Street this fall. He was one of their own, so tantalizingly close to the biggest trading floor of all.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/yes_we_can_we_did_and_now_obamas_second_term_is_our_responsibility_20121109/

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Let’s Not Make a Deal

From The New York Times:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/09/opinion/krugman-lets-not-make-a-deal.html

Published: November 8, 2012

To say the obvious: Democrats won an amazing victory. Not only did they hold the White House despite a still-troubled economy, in a year when their Senate majority was supposed to be doomed, they actually added seats.

Nor was that all: They scored major gains in the states. Most notably, California — long a poster child for the political dysfunction that comes when nothing can get done without a legislative supermajority — not only voted for much-needed tax increases, but elected, you guessed it, a Democratic supermajority.

But one goal eluded the victors. Even though preliminary estimates suggest that Democrats received somewhat more votes than Republicans in Congressional elections, the G.O.P. retains solid control of the House thanks to extreme gerrymandering by courts and Republican-controlled state governments. And Representative John Boehner, the speaker of the House, wasted no time in declaring that his party remains as intransigent as ever, utterly opposed to any rise in tax rates even as it whines about the size of the deficit.

So President Obama has to make a decision, almost immediately, about how to deal with continuing Republican obstruction. How far should he go in accommodating the G.O.P.’s demands?

My answer is, not far at all. Mr. Obama should hang tough, declaring himself willing, if necessary, to hold his ground even at the cost of letting his opponents inflict damage on a still-shaky economy. And this is definitely no time to negotiate a “grand bargain” on the budget that snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.

In saying this, I don’t mean to minimize the very real economic dangers posed by the so-called fiscal cliff that is looming at the end of this year if the two parties can’t reach a deal. Both the Bush-era tax cuts and the Obama administration’s payroll tax cut are set to expire, even as automatic spending cuts in defense and elsewhere kick in thanks to the deal struck after the 2011 confrontation over the debt ceiling. And the looming combination of tax increases and spending cuts looks easily large enough to push America back into recession.

Continue reading at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/09/opinion/krugman-lets-not-make-a-deal.html

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Bernie Sanders Slams the GOP Plan to Reduce the Deficit by Cutting Veterans Benefits

From PoliticusUSA:   http://www.politicususa.com/bernie-sanders-slams-gop-plan-reduce-deficit-cutting-veterans-benefits.html

By: Jason Easley
November 9th, 2012

In a conference call with reporters today, Sen. Bernie Sanders alerted the American people to the Republican (and some Democrat support) plan to reduce the deficit by cutting veterans benefits.

The change that would bring about the cuts would be a switch in the calculation of COLAs for federal benefit programs like Social Security from the current system to a chained Consumer Price Index (CPI). On the surface, the change seems small. Business Insider explained the Chained CPI, “The C-CPI assumes that consumers are making different choices right now. Because of the economic down-turn, they’re substituting cheaper products for the ones they used to buy (say, going for the cheaper apple versus a more expensive peach at the supermarket, or buying cat food instead of ground beef). It presumes that consumers are effectively changing the real CPI number. Using the C-CPI, rates would re-calibrate every two years according to a reading of consumer spending. And since Social Security is linked to the CPI, it has the potential to reduce social security payments…Since spending on government programs (like social security) will be calculated based on C-CPI (as they are now on CPI), their cost will go down, and people’s benefits will be cut.”

In short, Republicans are trying to push through a benefit cut to veterans, the disabled, and seniors by disguising it as a tweak to the system. Sen, Sanders told reporters, “We do not honor our disabled veterans by cutting their benefits. In my view in this country means anything it means we keep the promises we make to the people who put their lives on the line to defend us.”

Sanders pointed out that under the CPI, a disabled veteran who starts receiving benefits at age 30 would see those benefits reduced by $1,300 a year by the time they reach age 45. This isn’t a one time cut. The cuts would build on each other and get deeper as the recipient ages. To put it another way, people who already have their earning potential limited by age or disability would see their only or main source of income erode over time. The vast majority of these individuals won’t have the ability to make up their lost income through work, so they will sink deeper into poverty.

The move to a Chained CPI is part of Simpson-Bowles and it is being championed by right wing billionaire/anti-Social Security zealot Pete Peterson.

Sen. Sanders said that 99% of Americans have no clue that a Chained CPI would lead to cuts for veterans and Social Security. The good news is that Sen. Sanders has picked up a powerful ally in this fight. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has already warned Republicans and a few Senate Democrats not to mess with Social Security. Reid said Social Security should not be part of any deficit reduction plan.

Continue reading at:  http://www.politicususa.com/bernie-sanders-slams-gop-plan-reduce-deficit-cutting-veterans-benefits.html

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Mary Matalin unhinged vs. Van Jones

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Tea Party And Conservatives Are Declaring War On America After Obama Win

From The New Civil Rights Movement:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/tea-party-and-conservatives-are-declaring-war-on-america-after-obama-win/politics/2012/11/07/53271

by David Badash
on November 7, 2012

Now that president Obama has won, and America has decided hate is bad, and being pro-choice, pro-women, pro-gays, pro-minorities pro-people over corporations, pro-jobs, and pro-health care are all good, the Tea Partyand conservatives have become so angry that some are literally are declaring war on America.

“War must begin anew,” says Breitbart’s editor-in-chief.

“The battle for liberty begins anew,” says the Wall Street Journal.

Announcing “war must begin anew. And it begins now,” Breitbart’s editor-in-chief Joel B. Pollack, a 35-year old failed Republican congressional candidate (he garnered a mere 31.1% of the votes in the Tea Party wave of 2010 that brought America the likes of Allen West and other vicious radical Republicans,) sometime around midnight, wrote:

And as Andrew Breitbart often reminded us, the most important battles must be cultural ones, because culture and media inevitably shape the political choices we make together.

That war must begin anew. And it begins now.

It is not simply a battle over whether the establishment or the Tea Party leads the Republican opposition. It is not just a search for the next presidential contender. And it is bigger than the ongoing fight against the mainstream media–a weakened but still formidable enemy.

The war is a fight for the hearts, minds, and souls of the American people–waged every day, in culture as in politics.

But perhaps an even greater indicator of the continuation of the insidious, almost seditious nature of the Tea Party and radical conservatives is Pollock’s opening line, in his editorial, “COURAGE FOR THE LONG WAR AHEAD,” (in ALL CAPS because — have you noticed? — the radical right always seems to have to shout to be heard):

Continue reading at:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/tea-party-and-conservatives-are-declaring-war-on-america-after-obama-win/politics/2012/11/07/53271

Let the post-Sandy election gloating continue!

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2012/11/09/let_the_post_sandy_election_gloating_continue/

The left is getting a bad rep for celebrating too hard. But we need this now

Friday, Nov 9, 2012

Yes, you’re right, we’re gloating. You caught us. Maybe you’ve noticed it from our unstoppably gleeful tweets about what Christopher Hayes calls “overdosing on Schadenfreude,” or the way we might have let it slip that, as Lindy West admits, “I am just 99 percent completely fucking delighted by every single weepy right-wing temper tantrum.” Perhaps you find it unseemly – you, the defeated but dignified Republican, or you, the Democrat who thinks this kind of whoop-whooping is beneath our kind. Bur bear with us. You see, some of us recently had a hurricane blow through our lives.

This election was nail-biting enough when it was just about Obama vs. Romney. But then it became more than just a big fat “Oh, phew!” regarding having a president who won’t actively try to sabotage our reproductive rights or marriage equality or the middle class. It became about not getting a guy who who was pretty gung ho on cutting federal funding for disaster relief. It became about simply not being able to bear another blow.

I cannot overstate this enough – a whole lot of New York and New Jersey is one big raw, exposed nerve right now. Go open up a map and take a look at the path of Hurricane Sandy. Now just go ahead and assume that every person within 200 miles of that is completely traumatized right now. Not all of them are, of course. Some of them are eating foie gras in expensive restaurants and planning vacations. Plenty are resenting that Romney didn’t win. Obama just barely carried storm-ravaged Staten Island, for instance. But there is a high possibility that whatever their economic status or political leanings, those people have just had a couple of days so surreal, so upsetting, that they cannot yet even put words to the experience. So they’re going to have feelings and those feelings are going to be pretty far out there.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2012/11/09/let_the_post_sandy_election_gloating_continue/

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Bill McKibben: Global Warming’s Dystopian Future

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Fracking and a Radioactive Silvery-White Monster: Radium Must be Left in the Earth

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/11/09-3

by Karl Grossman
Published on Friday, November 9, 2012 by Common Dreams

Fracking for gas not only uses toxic chemicals that can contaminate drinking and groundwater — it also releases substantial quantities of radioactive poison from the ground that will remain hot and deadly for thousands of years.

Issuing a report yesterday exposing major radioactive impacts of hydraulic fracturing known as fracking — was Grassroots Environmental Education, an organization in New York, where extensive fracking is proposed.

The Marcellus Shale region which covers much of upstate New York is seen as loaded with gas that can be released through the fracking process. It involves injecting fluid and chemicals under high pressure to fracture shale formations and release the gas captured in them.

But also released, notes the report, is radioactive material in the shale including Radium-226 with a half-life of 1,600 years. A half-life is how long it takes for a radioactive substance to lose half its radiation. It is multiplied by between 10 and 20 to determine the “hazardous lifetime” of a radioactive material, how long it takes for it to lose its radioactivity. Thus Radium-226 remains radioactive for between 16,000 and 32,000 years.

“Horizontal hydrofracking for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale region of New York State has the potential to result in the production of large amounts of waste materials containing Radium-226 and Radium-228 in both solid and liquid mediums,” states the report by E. Ivan White. For 30 years he was a staff scientist for the Congressionally-chartered National Council on Radiation Protection.

“Importantly, the type of radioactive material found in the Marcellus Shale and brought to the surface by horizontal hydrofracking is the type that is particularly long-lived, and could easily bio-accumulate over time and deliver a dangerous radiation dose to potentially millions of people long after the drilling is over,” the report goes on.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/11/09-3

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Climate science is Nate Silver and U.S. politics is Karl Rove

From The Grist:  http://grist.org/climate-energy/climate-science-is-nate-silver-and-u-s-politics-is-karl-rove/

By David Roberts
9 Nov 2012

Throughout this long, crazy campaign, there’s been a tension simmering between empiricists like Nate Silver and Sam Wang, who cited poll data showing Obama with a small but durable lead, and pundits who trusted their “guts” and the “narrative,” both of which indicated that Romney had all the momentum after the first debate.

In the face of model projections like Silver’s, Jonah Goldberg said that “the soul … is not so easily number-crunched.” David Brooks warned that “experts with fancy computer models are terrible at predicting human behavior.” Joe Scarborough said “anybody that thinks that this race is anything but a tossup right now is such an ideologue.” Peggy Noonan said that “the vibrations are right” for a Romney win. All sorts of conservative pundits were convinced the Romney campaign just felt like a winner.

You know how that turned out. Jon Stewart put it way better than I could:

Empiricism won. It didn’t win because it’s a truer faith or a superior ideology. It won because it works. It is the best way humans have figured out to set aside their prejudices, their perceptual limitations, their cognitive shortcomings, and get a clear view of what’s to come.

As it happens, there’s another issue in American politics where empiricists are forecasting the future and being ignored. Here’s what the Nate Silvers of climate science are up to:

Continue reading at:  http://grist.org/climate-energy/climate-science-is-nate-silver-and-u-s-politics-is-karl-rove/

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Revealed: Climate change led to decline of Maya civilisation

From The Independent:  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/revealed-climate-change-led-to-decline-of-maya-civilisation-8298232.html

Steve Connor
Friday 09 November 2012

One of the world’s great civilisations was forced into terminal decline by successive dry periods culminating in a prolonged drought, according to a study that throws fresh light on the mysterious disappearance of the Maya in Central America around 1,100AD.

Scholars have long wondered about the circumstances that led to the relatively abrupt end of the Maya civilisation which had existed for about 2,000 years and grew to support a population of up to 13 million people at the height of its “classic” period.

Some of the theories about the collapse of Maya society included civil wars or famine brought on by environmental degradation, but the latest study suggests that the underlying reason may have been a lack of rain resulting from regional climate change.

Scientists who have analysed the chemical makeup of limestone columns or stalagmites that formed over 2,000 years on the floor of  Yok Balum Cave in southern Belize said the region experienced periods of abundant rainfall and then prolonged drought, which correspond to the rise and fall of Maya society.

“Unusually high amounts of rainfall favoured an increase in food production and an explosion in the population between AD 450 and 660. This led to a proliferation of cities like Tikal, Copan and Caracol across the Maya lowlands,” said Doulas Kennett, professor of anthropology at Pennsylvania State University.

Continue reading at:  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/revealed-climate-change-led-to-decline-of-maya-civilisation-8298232.html

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Study: Climate change fulfilling most dire predictions

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/11/09/study-climate-change-fulfilling-most-dire-predictions/

By Stephen C. Webster
Friday, November 9, 2012

A NASA-funded climate study released Thursday said climate models that more accurately project relative humidity and cloud cover are more reliable in predicting the overall rate of change — a revelation that, disturbingly, means the planet’s changing climate is fulfilling scientists’ most dire predictions.

In the study, published in the latest edition of the journal Science, the National Center for Atmospheric Research said when compared to data provided by cutting-edge NASA satellites, the top 16 climate models worldwide were most accurate when they tracked relative humidity instead of cloud cover, both of which have a profound impact on how climate fluctuates.

Unfortunately, the study said that models tracking relative humidity show climate change is following the most dangerous track in current projections.

“There is a striking relationship between how well climate models simulate relative humidity in key areas and how much warming they show in response to increasing carbon dioxide,” scientist John Fasullo said in an advisory. “Given how fundamental these processes are to clouds and the overall global climate, our findings indicate that warming is likely to be on the high side of current projections.”

Models predict the globe will warm between 3 and 8 degrees of warming on average over the next century, although some areas will be harder hit than others. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says these changes will reduce snowfall and ice cover, increase the acidity of the oceans, heighten the intensity of storms and cause sea levels to rise, making many populated coastal areas uninhabitable.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/11/09/study-climate-change-fulfilling-most-dire-predictions/

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