Friday Night Fun and Culture: Flogging Molly

Last night Flogging Molly was on Austin City Limits causing me to go, “Aha there’s Friday Night Fun and Culture.”

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Autumn Leaves

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What Can We Do Now, After Transgender Day of Remembrance 2012 Has Come to a Close?

From Huffington Post:


The 14th international Transgender Day of Remembrance has come to a close in Winona, Minn. It was a privilege to participate in the vigil at Winona State University, and again the next day at Hamline University in St. Paul. Now, safe in the quiet of my cozy home, I’m reflecting on the lives of transgender and gender-nonconforming people who have come to a violent end as a consequence of transphobia. I’m reflecting on the ongoing oppression and violence against transgender and gender-nonconforming people. I’m reflecting on my privilege. And I’m reflecting on what we can do to help bring an end to the violence.

According to statistics summarized in the recently released 2011 report of the U.S. National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, the murder rate of LGBTQH people is at an all-time high; 87 percent of those murdered were people of color, and 45 percent of those murdered were transgender and gender-nonconforming women. Clearly, the intersection of gender identity and race is at the root of much of this violence.

Transgender and gender-nonconforming people live at the intersections of systemic oppressions. Our gender identities and expressions don’t conform to the expectations of society. And if we are trans women of color, we are subject to even more stigmatization and harassment. Transmisogyny is at the root of much of the violence against trans women, and racism plays a huge role in this violence.

What can we do to help bring an end to this vicious cycle of murders of transgender and gender-nonconforming people that brings us together every Nov. 20? We need allies to interrupt the language and actions of people that feed transphobia. We must tell our own stories so that others will come to know our humanity. We must work together with allies to help others understand transgender and gender-nonconforming identities and experiences so that someday we may bring an end to the ignorance and fear at the root of transphobia. We must work together with allies for passage of legislation at all levels of government that will give justice to transgender and gender-nonconforming people. But even more than these things, we must all work together to fight for justice so that all people are respected and accepted without regard to gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, sex, race, ethnicity, social class, economic situation, ability or age.

So who are the allies whom we call upon in this work? Allies work from a position of social power and privilege to interrupt oppression that they are not personally targeted by. Allies don’t just come from outside an oppressed group such as the transgender and gender-nonconforming community; they also come from within that oppressed group. Oppressed groups are often made up of a very diverse population. Consequently, people within the group have different types of privilege and power that they can use to liberate others. We must use whatever privilege we have to create change in coalition with communities that are targeted. We must be allies to one another by intentionally working in coalition across identities, boundaries, histories of violence and separation. We must begin to see our liberation as interconnected with the liberation of others.

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Pussy Riot row erupts over legal team following interview with freed member

From The Guardian UK:

Yekaterina Samutsevich claims original lawyers cared more about fame than clients, leading to trade of accusations

in Moscow, Tuesday 20 November 2012

A row has erupted around the jailed punk band Pussy Riot, with the group’s members and supporters trading accusations of theft, lies and Kremlin collaboration with their lawyers.

Bad blood has been simmering between the women and their legal team since the end of the Pussy Riot trial, which saw three of members found guilty of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred for their performance of an anti-Putin “punk prayer” inside a Moscow cathedral. Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Yekaterina Samutsevich were sentenced to two years in prison. Samutsevich was later released on appeal after ditching the group’s legal team for a new lawyer.

In a lengthy interview published on Monday, she accused the lawyers – Mark Feygin, Nikolai Polozov and Violetta Volkova – of failing to carry out their legal duties, caring more about their personal fame and careers inside the Russian opposition. She also accused Feygin, a former Duma deputy, of forging papers to register the Pussy Riot brand while the three women were still in pre-trial detention and of failing to return her passport to her.

Samutsevich, 30, was released after an appeal hearing on 10 October. Alyokhina, 24, and Tolokonnikova, 23, have been sent to distant prison colonies to serve the remainder of their terms.

“Our lawyers gave more speeches about the situation in Russia [during the trial],” Samutsevich told “It turned out we were like lawyers, and they were like artists, like co-authors of the trial. They were not lawyers.”

The trial in August was marked by procedural violations and absurdities, hearings were often interrupted by shouting sessions.

“We’re not masochists and we don’t want to sit in jail,” Samutsevich said, responding to earlier statements by Feygin that the women preferred to serve time in jail “and emerge like heroes”.

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Cult Murder Case Involving ‘Ex-Gay’ Leader Puts Spotlight on Radical Prayer Center

From Huffington Post:


Today I feel a little bit like Dr. Sam Loomis, the psychiatrist in the classic horror movie Halloween who ran through the streets of Haddonfield telling anyone who would listen that Michael Myers had just escaped from the insane asylum. As he frantically warned the residents, they looked at him as if he were a paranoid crank. Similarly, I warned in May that something was seriously amiss at Mike Bickle’s International House of Prayer (IHOP) in Grandview, Mo., an exurb of Kansas City. Part of my job is monitoring extremist organizations, which brought me to IHOP’s worship center at midnight, when I expected the cavernous hall to be practically empty. Instead, I found a far more disconcerting scene. Here is what I wrote on May 4:

There was a gigantic 24/7 prayer room filled mostly with teenagers, many of whom appeared to be of high school or college age. A band played hypnotic Christian music while the audience of 100 or so youth engaged in a diverse set of worship rituals. Some were seated, as if they were in a traditional church setting. Others danced and skipped, like they were in some sort of fundie rave. One youth twirled a purple fan, as if he were at a gay circuit party. About a quarter of the participants walked in a trance-like state through the aisles muttering to themselves — a practice that I had not seen before. Some of these youths walked non-stop for over an hour, with no signs of stopping to rest.

Beware Grandview and Kansas City. You have an aggressive, militant, angry, fundie cult growing under your nose. It’s time to wake up before you become the next Colorado Springs. Don’t be caught flat footed wondering, “How did this happen?” Consider this your first warning.

My warning wasn’t heeded, and residents of Grandview now appear mystified by the murder of a young woman who belonged to a religious sect with close ties to IHOP. The Kansas City Star reports that a charismatic youth leader, Tyler Deaton, had persuaded members of a church youth group he started at Southwestern University, in Georgetown, Tex., to move with him to Kansas City so that they could be close to IHOP. His group allegedly began drugging and sexually assaulting Deaton’s wife, Bethany, 27, for what they deemed spiritual reasons. Deaton, who identified as an “ex-gay” who’d been healed through Jesus Christ, also allegedly began having sex with male members of his cult. Afraid that Bethany was going to reveal the group’s crimes to her therapist, Deaton allegedly ordered one of his followers, Micah Moore, to murder her and make it appear to be a suicide. The plan seemed to be working until Moore cracked and confessed to authorities.

It would be unfair to portray this episode as representative of what occurs at IHOP. However, it cannot be denied that this church has become a magnet for extremists with a militant, “end times” view of the world. From my experience, it is an ideal incubator for young narcissists with Messiah complexes who fancy themselves prophets. In my work with Truth Wins Out, I have seen many bizarre activities on the fringe, but nothing has freaked me out as much as my evening at IHOP. The young people there were nothing short of zombies who looked disconnected from the world. Any ordinary person would walk away from the experience and instinctively know that what he or she had witnessed was abnormal, teetering on dangerous.

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Lisa Biron, Anti-Gay Christian Lawyer, Arrested On Child Pornography Charges

From Huffington Post:


A New Hampshire lawyer associated with an anti-gay Christian defense group was arrested on federal child pornography charges after allegedly taking a teenager to Canada where she reportedly convinced the girl to engage in sexual activity and let it be filmed.

Lisa Biron, a Manchester, N.H., lawyer associated with the Christian litigation group, Alliance Defending Freedom, was arrested by FBI agents on Friday morning on charges of transportation with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity, possession of child pornography and five counts of sexual exploitation of children, according to the Concord Monitor.

Federal prosecutors said Biron transported a teen girl from Manchester to Ontario, Canada, on May 25 and coerced her into engaging in sexual acts with another person that were then recorded, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.

According to the Concord Monitor, prosecutor Helen Fitzgibbon made the case for Biron to be held without bond because other juveniles have been subjected to Biron’s sexual activity and drug use; witnesses have testified to seeing Biron in possession of ecstasy, marijuana and cocaine; and Biron texted a friend saying she may flee to Cuba.

Police had been investigating Biron since Sept. 29 after receiving a tip she had child pornography on her computer, according to the Union Leader.

She was first arrested in Manchester last month on charges of possessing child pornography, according to Police said the videos and photos on Biron’s computer depicted a teen girl. Federal authorities were alerted when police determined the porn was manufactured out of state.

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See also Raw Story:  Christian attorney indicted on federal child pornography charges

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The Republicans behind this sexist hazing of Susan Rice

From The Guardian UK:

What were they up to when another Rice toured TV studios to talk up Iraq’s WMD? Busy thinking up anti-women laws is what, Wednesday 21 November 2012

OK, so I was trying to enjoy myself setting my Thanksgiving table, preparing to have people I love over for dinner this Thursday night. I had the TV on and as I ironed my napkins, cable news was a wall-to-wall assault on Susan Rice. Mindless sexist soundbite after soundbite about how Susan Rice, US ambassador to the United Nations, went on a bunch of TV shows putting forth talking points on the Benghazi attacks given to her by the CIA – you know, the agency so smoothly run until recently by the apparently irresistible David Petraeus.

I guess, for Susan Rice, her sin was that she ran with information provided to her by the CIA, who happens to be the keepers of all the information. And I guess, if your name is Susan Rice and you do this, you are covering up something that you had nothing to do with in the first place. I also guess, when your name is Susan Rice and you do this, as more details became unclassified, you will be branded an unqualified liar because you repeated the information you were given by the CIA; and until further notice, you will be relentlessly doused with buckets of scorn by the bitter brigade.

But these things only apply if your name is Susan Rice.

If your name is Condi Rice, the rules are different. Condi Rice played an actual role in the planning of an unnecessary war, then went on the very same shows and told America and the world that Iraq owned unicorns that shoot mushroom clouds, as a way of scaring people into supporting her war. Condi Rice was considered very qualified to be secretary of state.

Leading the hate parade against Susan Rice, this clearly unqualified dolt, is the Pied Viper, John McCain, who, at this point, needs the oral equivalent of Depends. As I write this, he continues to babble spitefully at anyone who will listen that Ambassador Rice is unfit to lead.

Clearly, we all look to John McCain on knowing how to judge whether a woman is unfit to lead. So, under his guidance, this momentum is growing among the 2012 “We didn’t learn anything from this election” wing of the GOP: a total of 97 members of Congress wrote a letter to President Obama, officially urging him not to nominate Susan Rice to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state.

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Canada: Conservatives quash anti-bullying motion

From Xtra:

FEDERAL NEWS / NDP MP Dany Morin’s attempt to tackle spate of suicides further divides acrimonious House

Justin Ling
Thursday, November 22, 2012

After a day of procedural bickering Nov 21, the partisan chasm in the House of Commons has opened a little wider. The government on Nov 22 shot down a motion aimed at tackling bullying in Canada.
M-385, a private member’s motion introduced by NDP MP Dany Morin, sought to establish a standing committee tasked with studying the issue of bullying and eventually proposing a comprehensive national strategy to prevent it. The bill had the support of the Liberals, as well as the lone Green and Independent.
The bill has received particular attention because of a spate of teen suicides that have shed light on the systemic bullying that takes place in Canadian schools, especially towards LGBTQ youth. One of the most high profile in the long chain was the case of Amanda Todd, a 16-year-old from Vancouver who died by suicide last month after facing years of intense bullying and harassment online.
The Conservatives, who derided the motion as ineffective and time-consuming, stood largely in opposition to the bill. Five backbench Conservatives voted in favour, while many who had previously supported the idea of a national strategy in the House voted to kill the motion. The Bloc, too, voted against it.
The vote count was 149 to 134.
The vote came immediately after a Liberal motion to establish a compensation for firefighters who died in the line of duty. Enough Tory backbenchers stood in support of that bill to allow its passage, but its front benches opposed the bill.
The two votes marked the current tone in the House, where the partisan rancour is becoming increasingly toxic. The parties held caucus meetings earlier in the day, and went into the afternoon’s Question Period even more vitriolic than usual.
Several backbench MPs heckled Morin and the NDP with shouts of “Bullies! Stop bullying us!” as they left the House after the vote.
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Canada: Marijuana Legalization or Decriminalization Backed by Most Canadians

From Toronto Star:–marijuana-legalization-or-decriminalization-backed-by-most-canadians-poll

By Alex Ballingall
Tuesday, November 20 2012

A new poll shows a majority of Canadians support loosening the country’s marijuana laws, a stance that’s starkly out of sync with the federal government’s pot policy.

According to the poll, released Tuesday by Toronto’s Forum Research, 65 per cent of Canadians favour either the legalization and taxation of the drug, or decriminalizing it in small amounts.

“Very few want the law to be as it is,” said Forum president Lorne Bozinoff, pointing out that 17 per cent believe Canada’s current pot laws should remain, while 15 per cent want tougher rules.

On Monday, Forum Research polled 1,849 randomly selected people over the telephone in an interactive voice response survey.

“Public opinion has been ahead of government on this issue for a while,” said Bozinoff.

Under the Conservatives, Ottawa has veered toward harsher penalties for marijuana, increasing potential prison time and imposing mandatory jail sentences for growing six or more weed plants.

These strategies have drawn criticism from scientists and organizations such as the Brazil-based Global Commission on Drug Policy, which in March called them “destructive, expensive and ineffective.”

“I think (the Conservatives) have a morally based belief model, which is not based on evidence,” said Richard Mathias, a professor of public health at the University of British Columbia.

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Lord Help Us-Bosses Gone Berserk

From Nation of Change:

Jim Hightower
November 22, 2012

The sky is falling! The end times are upon us! It’s all over for America! And it’s all because of you execrable voters.

This is the wretched wail of a few corporate chieftains who claim to be somewhere between flummoxed and furious that Barack Obama is back in the White House. With his diabolical Obamacare and tax-the-rich attacks on us wealthy job creators, they moan, this president is out to destroy American business. “There’s a tsunami coming,” cried one, so we must save ourselves.

How do these trembling titans of free enterprise intend to do that? By firing employees, thus sending a message to workers that voting for Democrats is bad for their health.

“Elections have consequences,” exclaimed a Las Vegas boss, after offing 22 workers the day after Obama was re-elected. Echoing this self-serving political ethic, a Georgia owner of an aviation outfit told C-SPAN that his fear of Obamacare made him fire enough workers to exempt his business from providing health care. “I tried to make sure that the people I had to lay off voted for Obama,” he noted, spewing spite.

Then there’s Papa John’s, the billion-dollar-a-year fast-food chain. John Schnatter, the present “papa” of Papa John’s, had warned this summer that he’d jack up the consumer price of the chain’s pizza if Obama won, because he wasn’t going to eat the cost of assuring health coverage for employees.

Post-election, however, Schnatter has decided not to slap his customers, but to slap Papa John’s workers, instead, by cutting their hours to part-time so he doesn’t have to pay for their coverage. “That’s what you do,” Schnatter snapped. “You pass on costs.”

Yeah, and what an exemplary way for the millionaire boss to boost productivity and loyalty (not to mention morale of those who do the actual work that make customers want to buy Papa John’s pizza — or not).

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What Greedy U.S. Retailers Don’t Want You To Know…

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Macy’s CEO to American People: Drop Dead

From Alternet

As a Thanksgiving treat, Terry Lundgren wants to gut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

By Lynn Stuart Parramore
November 21, 2012

Macy’s is a powerful symbol of Thanksgiving, with its festive parade and freakishly large floats. But Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren is part of a group of greedy, unpatriotic CEOs who would like to seize this moment of American hardship and tear the rug out from under hard-working families. Moms, dads, grandparents, kids—he’d like to take a little something from each of you. Especially if you’re poor: he’d really like to get into your purses.

Lundgren and a coalition of other big-time CEOs are lobbying Congress to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits so that they can enjoy tax breaks. Obviously, Lundgren did not take Econ 101, which would have demonstrated to him that reaching into the pockets of people will leave them without enough dollars to buy your products. It’s very simple, Mr. Lundgren. Your job and your stores are supported by the spending power of the American consumer. Robbing that consumer by hacking away at hard-earned retirements and healthcare is not going to help your bottom line.

Jobs, not austerity, is the path to a healthier economy. Just ask Europe.

Lundgren and his band of reverse Robin Hoods, part of a campaign called Fix the Debt founded by “catfood commissioners” Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, have ganged up to influence post-election policy by spreading the myth that our main problem is long-term debt and deficits, rather than high unemployment. They actually like high unemployment, because it keeps their workers in check. They’re out holding town halls, trying to buy or rent members of Congress, and otherwise throwing their weight around.

Such is the spirit of giving in the world of big business. Many Americans are outraged and cutting up their Macy’s cards and signing petitions in protest. You can actuallly choose among petitions. There’s the Macy’s v. Medicare petition, or if you prefer, there’s also a petition urging Macy’s to end its partnership with the race-baiting Donald Trump. The “Dump Trump” petition has already collected over 650,000 signatures, but Lundgren stands by the loopy real estate mogul .

The Fix the Debt coalition, unsurprisingly, features a heaping helping of fatcat financiers:

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Why You Shouldn’t Shop at Walmart on Friday

From Robert Reich

Robert Reich
Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A half century ago America’s largest private-sector employer was General Motors, whose full-time workers earned an average hourly wage of around $50, in today’s dollars, including health and pension benefits.

Today, America’s largest employer is Walmart, whose average employee earns $8.81 an hour. A third of Walmart’s employees work less than 28 hours per week and don’t qualify for benefits.

There are many reasons for the difference – including globalization and technological changes that have shrunk employment in American manufacturing while enlarging it in sectors involving personal services, such as retail.

But one reason, closely related to this seismic shift, is the decline of labor unions in the United States. In the 1950s, over a third of private-sector workers belonged to a union. Today fewer than 7 percent do. As a result, the typical American worker no longer has the bargaining clout to get a sizeable share of corporate profits.

At the peak of its power and influence in the 1950s, the United Auto Workers could claim a significant portion of GM’s earnings for its members.

Walmart’s employees, by contrast, have no union to represent them. So they’ve had no means of getting much of the corporation’s earnings.

Walmart earned $16 billion last year (it just reported a 9 percent increase in earnings in the third quarter of 2012, to $3.6 billion), much of which went to Walmart’s shareholders — including the family of its founder, Sam Walton. The wealth of the Walton family now exceeds the wealth of the bottom 40 percent of American families combined, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute.

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Immigrant Supply-Chain Labor Struggles Galvanize Walmart Activism

From In These Times:

By Michelle Chen
Wednesday Nov 21, 2012

On Black Friday, as Walmart workers across the country stand up against the retail giant’s labor regime, they’ll be in part standing on the shoulders of smaller uprisings that have popped up in low-wage workplaces. Alongside the disgruntled store employees, various subcontracted warehouse workers have helped lead the wave of protests.

The interconnected campaigns reveal that what makes Wal-Mart so powerful–its hegemonic size and market domination–is also what makes it a solid target for an increasingly militant solidarity movement of precarious workers across the supply chain.

As labor activists brace for Black Friday, federal authorities have vindicated a previous labor struggle involving a major Walmart warehouse subcontractor. Back in 2011, immigrant guestworkers at Exel, a logistics subcontractor, protested against abusive working conditions at a Hershey plant in Palmyra, Penn. As we’ve reported previously, the guestworkers were “invited” to a hard labor stint through a special “J-1” visa administered by the State Department. As with other labor-based visa programs, lax regulation had turned J-1 into a gateway for the importation of low-wage young workers under the pretext of “educational” summer work experience.

The young Hershey hires quickly saw their resume-building aspirations dissolve into a nightmare of abusive work schedules and workplace safety violations. As one disillusioned young worker told the New York Times. “We are supposed to be here for cultural exchange and education, but we are just cheap laborers.”

The Labor Department just announced an agreement that “requires Exel, staffing agency SHS, and labor recruiter CETUSA to pay back $213,000 in illegal deductions from wages to student guestworkers who worked in the Hershey’s plant,” as summarized by the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA), a labor advocacy group that helped organize the youth. “It also requires Exel to pay $143,000 in fines for health and safety violations.”

The State Department has already promised to overhaul the J-1 visa program with revised rules. The NGA notes that the settlement commits Exel (which has decided to stop using J-1 workers) to address labor abuses going forward:

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