Marsha P. Johnson Case Reopened!

This is really wonderful.

Maybe now at least they are taking the murders of TS/TG people more seriously.

From The Village Voice Blog:

By Michael Musto
Mon., Nov. 26 2012

Marsha P. Johnsonwas the transgender performer and activist whose body was found in the Hudson in 1992, the police deciding it was a suicide, as various observers reacted in deep suspicion, certain there was more to the story.

Well, the case has just been opened again!

A transsexual activist named Mariah Lopez tells me she got someone at the Manhattan D.A.’s office to assign someone to look more closely at what really happened.

Mariah feels it was a murder, and says that Sylvia Rivera–the late LGBT rights legend who was Mariah’s soul mother–felt the same way.

As the quest for justice rages on, Lopez told me she’s also pushing for a permanent tribute statue of Marsha by the Christopher Pier.

That’s a wonderful idea, and the authorities had better not react with Marsha’s favorite saying:

“Pay it no mind!”

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Spanning the Brooklyn Bridge to Remember Those Lost to Trans Violence

From The Edge NYC:

by David  Perry
Tuesday Nov 27, 2012

With somber moments of silence and bursts of cautious enthusiasm, New Yorkers marked the 14th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance Nov. 20 with events throughout the city. Trans people, their friends, allies, and advocates came to remember those of the community who have passed on, and to steel their resolve for the continuing struggle in the courts and mainstream life for full equality.

“The challenges facing the transgender community have many faces,” says Brooklyn Community Pride Center Executive Director Erin Drinkwater, who organized a march across the Brooklyn Bridge and a vigil at City Hall for the TDoR vigil in Brooklyn. “They include discrimination manifesting itself in accessing housing, employment, credit, education and accessing adequate and culturally competent healthcare. The transgender community faces widespread transphobia simply because of who they are, and are more likely to be the victim of a violent crime.”

Springing from the efforts of Boston-based trans activist Gwendolyn Ann Smith, “TDoR” began as small vigil in response to the still-unsolved murder of Rita Hester, a transgender African American woman, in 1998. The day is now observed in over 185 cities in more than 20 countries, and is the culmination of Transgender Awareness Week.

While Chaz Bono, “Cloud Atlas” director Lana Wachowski, beauty-queen Jenna Talackova and “pregnant man” Thomas Beatie have shed more light than ever before on trans life, outside the spotlight, trans people continue to run the friendless gauntlet of discrimination, fear, misunderstanding, legal apathy and threats to their lives that gays and lesbians themselves faced 30 years ago.

Lourdes Hunter, the keynote speaker at the TDoR event held at Manhattan’s Audre Lorde Project, is blunter about the hardships trans people face.

“Many are ostracized by family and community and are forced to engage in survival activities, or are subjected to unsafe environments and relationships,” said Hunter. “As a consequence, homelessness, untreated health issues, higher rates of incarceration, drug use and abuse and street-based sex work are just a few of the challenges many trans folk, in particular, trans women of color, face everyday.”

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Community Demands Justice for Young Woman Attacked on Thanksgiving in Alabama


by Ross Murray
Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mallory Owens visited her girlfriend’s family for Thanksgiving, but was brutally attacked by her girlfriend’s brother, leaving her with multiple fractures, a broken nose, and eyes swollen shut. Mallory was treated and released from the hospitalon Monday.

Family members have claimed, and history has demonstrated, that Travis Hawkins Jr. was very unhappy that his sister, Ally, was in a relationship with a woman. The two had previous altercations. Hawkins attack on Mallory allegedly happened as they were leaving after dinner. Some reports say that Hawkins continues to threaten Mallory and her family.

Hawkins has been charged with second degree assault. Many in the family and in the LGBT community have called those charges too light for such a serious crime. According to Mobile County District Attorney Ashley Rich, Alabama law doesn’t allow for any stricter charges under these circumstances.

Currently, Alabama’s hate crime law does not include sexual orientation. District Attorney Rich said, “It’s a horrific crime, and unfortunately because of the laws in the state of Alabama, we can’t charge assault first because for assault first you have to have used a deadly weapon and Alabama courts have said a fist is not a deadly weapon.”

Equality Alabama Chair Patricia Todd released the following statement, “Tonight our prayers go to Mallory Owens as she returns home to family. Equality Alabama has called for a full investigation and swift justice for her senseless beating. While the investigation continues one fact is clear: nothing warrants the violence she witnessed. By living her life honestly, Mallory is deserving of no less than the love of family and admiration of peers.”

Ralph Young, the Vice Chair of Equality Alabama, stated that what happened to Mallory should never have to happen to anyone else again. “State law doesn’t adequately protect Mallory nor the 11,000 gay and lesbian families across Alabama. We must work together to create laws and a culture that guards against such a horrific attack ever happening again, to Mallory or anyone.”

There is currently a petition directed toward Alabama leaders to bring Travis Hawkins Jr. to justice, which has already garnered nearly 75,000 signatures.

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See also:

The New Civil Rights Movement:  Family Of Lesbian Brutally Beaten Demands Hate Crime Charges, DA Refusing

Raw Story:  Savage on Thanksgiving lesbian attack: ’2nd Amendment applies to queers, too’

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‘Homophobia’ and ‘Islamophobia’ are the right words for the job

From The Guardian UK:

Ascribing phobias in political and social contexts is wrong, says the Associated Press. But fear is what drives anti-gay behaviour, Tuesday 27 November 2012

Noon, on a dirt track in Helmand province, Afghanistan. A soldier sees something on the ground and kneels down for closer inspection. Mercifully, it is not an explosive device but a spider. The soldier screams and jumps back, despite it not being poisonous. If you saw this you would likely conclude that he has arachnophobia. A reporter would say the same. Though not a psychiatrist, you would deem yourself fit to label the soldier thus. But the world-famous news agency Associated Press (AP) yesterday deemed the attributing of other phobias – in particular homophobia and Islamophobia – inappropriate. Their new style guide warns reporters against using phobic terms in “political or social contexts”.

The AP’s deputy standards editor Dave Minthorn explained:

“Homophobia especially – it’s just off the mark. It’s ascribing a mental disability to someone, and suggests a knowledge that we don’t have. It seems inaccurate. Instead, we would use something more neutral: anti-gay, or some such … We want to be precise and accurate and neutral in our phrasing.”

It is commendable to strive for accurate, neutral reporting and “homophobia” or “Islamophobia” are not ideal, as they denote solely the fear motivating prejudice. But they are the best we have. While fear may not be the only force behind such attitudes, it is invariably a chief component. AP’s assertion that these words are inaccurate isn’t remotely neutral or precise; it reveals a banquet of their own assumptions about what governs prejudice. It illustrates the chasm of understanding between an onlooker struggling to read a situation and a victim who, through jabbing repetition, comprehends it only too well.

I’ve spent 30 years understanding homophobia. When you can feel its breath on your face, spitting, threatening, bullying and abusing you, one tends to be rather more adept at analysing its motives than, say, the policeman who plods in with his or her notebook. Given this, I can report with a certainty rarely enjoyed by straight journalists that being anti-gay is, without exception, at least partly fuelled by fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of unwanted sexual attention, fear of gender roles being flouted, fear of humanity being wiped out by widespread bumming, fear of a plague of homosexuals dismantling marriage, the family, the church and any other institution held vaguely dear. And, of course, never forget: fear of what lurks repressed and unacknowledged in the homophobe. Irrational fear. It’s a phobia, people.

Of course, those in the throes of this phobia are in denial. They never recognise it as such. Instead, they cling to their “deeply held convictions” that, for example, allowing people of the same sex to marry each other will ruin it for everyone else. They cling to their rosary beads or the backs of their trousers insisting it is a moral objection. But a glance at those objections unfailingly reveals an unwarranted belief that something bad will happen if you grant gay people the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts.

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Christians Fundamentalists Creationists Bush -Bill Hicks

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Gay ‘Conversion Therapy’ Faces Test in Courts

From The New York Times:

Published: November 27, 2012

Gay “conversion therapy,” which claims to help men overcome unwanted same-sex attractions but has been widely attacked as unscientific and harmful, is facing its first tests in the courtroom.

In New Jersey on Tuesday, four gay men who tried the therapy filed a civil suit against a prominent counseling group, charging it with deceptive practices under the state’s Consumer Fraud Act.

The former clients said they were emotionally scarred by false promises of inner transformation and humiliating techniques that included stripping naked in front of the counselor and beating effigies of their mothers. They paid thousands of dollars in fees over time, they said, only to be told that the lack of change in their sexual feelings was their own fault.

In California, so-called ex-gay therapists have gone to court to argue for the other side. They are seeking to block a new state law, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in September and celebrated as a milestone by advocates for gay rights, that bans conversion therapy for minors.

In Sacramento on Friday, a federal judge will hear the first of two legal challenges brought by conservative law groups claiming that the ban is an unconstitutional infringement on speech, religion and privacy.

Since the 1970s, when mainstream mental health associations stopped branding homosexuality as a disorder, a small network of renegade therapists, conservative religious leaders and self-identified “life coaches” has continued to argue that it is not inborn, but an aberration rooted in childhood trauma. Homosexuality is caused, these therapists say, by a stifling of normal masculine development, often by distant fathers and overbearing mothers or by early sexual abuse.

An industry of “reparative therapy” clinics and men’s weekend retreats has drawn thousands of teenagers and adults who hope to rid themselves of homosexual urges, whether because of religious beliefs or family pressures.

But leading scientific and medical groups say that the theories of sexuality are unfounded and that there is no evidence that core sexual urges can be changed. They also warn that the therapy can, in the words of the American Psychiatric Association, cause “depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior” and “reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.”

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SPLC files groundbreaking lawsuit accusing conversion therapy organization of fraud

From The Southern Poverty Law Center:


The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit today accusing a New Jersey organization of consumer fraud for offering conversion therapy services – a dangerous and discredited practice that claims to convert people from gay to straight.

The lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, charges that Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (JONAH), its founder, Arthur Goldberg, and counselor Alan Downing violated New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act by providing conversion therapy claiming to cure clients of being gay.

It is the first time a conversion therapy provider has been sued for fraudulent business practices. The lawsuit describes how the plaintiffs – four young men and two of their parents – were lured into JONAH’s services through deceptive practices.

“JONAH profits off of shameful and dangerous attempts to fix something that isn’t broken,” said Christine P. Sun, deputy legal director for the SPLC. “Despite the consensus of mainstream professional organizations that conversion therapy doesn’t work, this racket continues to scam vulnerable gay men and lesbians out of thousands of dollars and inflicts significant harm on them.”

The lawsuit describes how the underlying premise of conversion therapy – that a person can “convert” to heterosexuality – has no basis in scientific fact. Conversion therapy has been discredited or highly criticized by all major American medical, psychiatric, psychological and professional counseling organizations. It is the longstanding consensus of the behavioral and social sciences that homosexuality is a normal and positive variation of human sexual orientation.

Customers of JONAH’s services typically pay a minimum of $100 for weekly individual counseling sessions and another $60 for group therapy sessions. The lawsuit describes sessions that involved clients undressing in front of a mirror and even a group session where young men were instructed to remove their clothing and stand naked in a circle with the counselor, Downing, who was also undressed. Another session involved a subject attempting to wrest away two oranges, which were used to represent testicles, from another individual.

“Sadly, there is no accountability for those who practice conversion therapy,” said Michael Ferguson, a conversion therapy survivor and plaintiff in the lawsuit. “They play blindly with deep emotions and create an immense amount of self-doubt for the client. They seize on your personal vulnerability, and tell you that being gay is synonymous with being less of a man. They further misrepresent themselves as having the key to your new orientation.”

Downing and other counselors at JONAH also use techniques that leave clients alienated from their families. These techniques encourage clients to blame their parents for being gay. Clients even participate in violent role play exercises where they beat effigies of their mothers.

“These counselors are skilled at manipulating you into believing just about anything,” said Benjamin Unger, another plaintiff in the case. “During my time with JONAH, they told me constantly that my mom had made me gay. I was so convinced that I refused to have any contact with her for several months, which caused a great deal of damage to our relationship.”

JONAH, formerly known as Jews Offering New Alternatives for Homosexuality, was founded by Goldberg, a former Wall Street executive and attorney. Before founding JONAH, Goldberg was convicted of three counts of mail fraud and one count of conspiracy to defraud the federal government. He was ultimately disbarred from being an attorney.

“People who are told repeatedly that they are innately defective are being abused and traumatized,” said Laura Booker, a licensed clinical social worker who helps people recover from conversion therapy’s devastating effects. “The cost of conversion therapy to gay men and lesbians may be nothing less than emotional devastation. They may spend years recovering from the trauma inflicted upon them.”

Conversion therapy also promotes the idea that gay men and lesbians choose their sexual orientation, a position that encourages a climate of anti-gay bigotry.

The American Psychological Association has expressed concern that the positions espoused by some of the leading advocates of conversion therapy, such as the National Association for Research Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), “create an environment in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish.” JONAH’s practices include so-called scientific methods invented by NARTH co-founder Joseph Nicolosi.

The law firms of Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton LLP and Lite DePalma Greenberg LLC are serving as the SPLC’s co-counsel on the case. The SPLC has previously filed complaints against conversion therapists with the American Psychiatric Association and the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

More information about the SPLC’s campaign to end conversion therapy, including an interactive map showing the location of therapists who advertise conversion therapy, can be found here.

See also Truth Wins Out:  Truth Wins Out Applauds SPLC Consumer Fraud Lawsuit Against Ex-Gay Industry

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Gay Women Will Marry Your Boyfriends

Right Wing Extermist Rand Paul Doubles Down on Women Hating as Plan for Republican Resurgance

Geez… Just when you though the misogynistic right wing extremist Republicans might have learned a lesson…  Here’s Rand Paul to prove they haven’t learned dick all about how pissing women off might be suicide at the ballot box.

From The New Civil Rights Movement:

Rand Paul Calls For Personhood Law To End Abortion ‘Once And For All’

by David Badash
on November 26, 2012

Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul is calling for a so-called “personhood” law to “end abortion on demand once and for all.” Sen. Paul, a Tea Party Libertarian Republican and the son of Congressman Ron Paul, has recorded a message for the National Pro-Life Alliance. Paul is attacking the U.S. Supreme Court as “nine unelected men and women” who have “invented laws” and “played God with innocent human life” because of the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Senator Paul, whom some thought might be softening his positions when it became clear Mitt Romney was going to lose the November election, clearly has not.

“Will you help me in a bold and aggressive campaign to end abortion on demand once and for all?” Paul asks.

Paul claims “Congress has the power to legislatively end Roe v. Wade,” which is stunning, since no law can overrule a Supreme Court verdict; only a constitutional amendment can — but that’s not what Paul is advocating.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a Tea Party favorite, is advocating for Congress to make a new law, a “personhood” law, called the LIfe at Conception Act,” establishing that human life begins at conception, and extending the 14th Amendment to all fetuses.

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Will Senate Republican Women Support the Paycheck Fairness Act?

From RH Reality Check:

by Sheila Bapat, RH Reality Check
November 20, 2012

A record 98 women will serve in the 113th Congress—20 women in the Senate, and 78 in the House. And in this new Congress, the gender chasm between both major parties is even more stark: Of the 20 women set to serve in the U.S. Senate come 2013, 16 are Democrats; of the 78 women in the House, 58 are Democrats. But Democratic women have indicated a desire to collaborate with their female colleagues across the aisle: Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill recently indicated this, as did New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Is cooperation possible with respect to the Paycheck Fairness Act, an amendment to the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 that was rejected by the Senate this past June? So far, all signs point to a resounding “No.” All Democratic women in the Senate supported the Paycheck Fairness Act, while all five Republican women in the Senate rejected it. There is clear evidence that party affiliation, not just gender, are the driving forces behind whether a legislator supports tougher policy to ensure fair pay. The Senate’s heavily partisan vote count on the Paycheck Fairness Act when it was under consideration earlier this year reveals this. Chances of passing the law are a bit better since Democrats have increased their lead in the Senate by two votes—though the law failed by eight votes.

Why did Republican women in the Senate join their party in opposing the Paycheck Fairness Act? The general consensus among Republicans is that the law is simply too tough on employers and that it would pave the way to excessive litigation. Specifically, the Paycheck Fairness Act would restrict an affirmative defense allowed by 1963’s Equal Pay Act. Known as the “factor other than sex” defense, a defense heavily criticized by women’s rights attorneys,  this affirmative defense has enabled employers to withstand liability when they pay male employees more than their female employees based on higher earnings at previous jobs, without evaluating whether the higher earnings are actually rooted in qualifications or higher education. In other words, this defense makes it easier to discriminate. Discrimination is found to be a major cause of the wage gap, along with career and life choices.

The Paycheck Fairness Act would restrict this defense, putting a tougher burden on employers by requiring them to prove that pay disparities are rooted in education, experience or other qualifications. The law gives teeth to the Equal Pay Act which, despite being on the books for 40 years, has not been able to resolve wage discrimination.

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GOP on post- election course correction

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Despite Election Victories, Escalating Poverty and Inequality Remain Largely Ignored

From Truth Out:

By Ted Morgan
Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Probably the most striking feature of the recent election was that it appeared to be a clear victory for multicultural America. The long-running, right-wing Republican strategy of attacking women and the nation’s many minorities collided with a multicultural electorate, symbolized by the re-election of an African-American president. The question is: What are the longer term implications of this victory?

First, it should be noted that this was a watershed election for the gay community. Not only were openly gay candidates elected more often than not (US Senator-elect Tammy Baldwin, six out of seven openly gay or bisexual US representatives, seven states electing their first openly gay state legislators, and voters in four states supporting same-sex marriage). Rather clearly, too, the repulsive Republican comments regarding rape and abortion helped to mobilize the strong Democratic vote by women. And of course, huge majorities of the black and Latino population voted for Obama.

As Jon Stewart tweaked a Bill O’Reilly lament, with tongue firmly in cheek, it was the “moment when the family from the 1950s sit-com, ‘Leave it to Beaver,’ ceased to be real.”

I would argue that the spread of consumer capitalism and popular culture throughout the mass media makes it increasingly difficult for attacks on these populations to produce electoral success, especially as people of color continue to increase their share of the populace. That’s the upside.

On the other hand, however, race may be the exception to this rule – in part, because white racism commonly sees lower class when imagining or encountering people of color, and in part, because this perception gains credence from the fact that huge, impoverished minority populations have been trapped in our inner-city ghettos for decades. Class inequality, in short, gets reinforced by racism, and racism gets reinforced by class inequality. With the exception of a few years in the 1960s, the federal government has done more to create this condition than it has to remedy it, largely because the government designs federal policy around market incentives that predominantly benefit the better off. And racially coded attacks on poor populations have buttressed right wing campaigns all the way back to Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign, producing what historian Michael Flamm has called the “Southernization” of American politics.

Which brings me back to the election. There is one very important sense in which social class became significant in this election. With its 99% / 1% symbolism, the Occupy Wall Street movement created broad public awareness of the grotesque degree to which the extremely wealthy have for decades benefited at the expense of everyone else. Unfortunately for the Republicans, they nominated a candidate who could readily be identified with the 1%, and the Obama campaign made the most of this opportunity. Given the intransigent recession, it’s unlikely Obama would have been elected if there hadn’t been an Occupy movement.

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Walmart Strikers Challenge Culture of Threats, Fear

From In These Times:

By David Moberg
Monday Nov 26, 2012

On the seventh anniversary of working at a Walmart store in a Chicago suburb, Charmaine Givens-Thomas nervously spoke into a bullhorn to explain why she was standing outside a Walmart parking lot so early on this cold morning of the day after Thanksgiving — Black Friday to bargain hunters and merchants alike.

“I’m standing up for all Walmart workers around the country so Walmart will give us a living wage and so Walmart will stop retaliating against us when we speak up,” she told the cheering crowd of around 250 supporters, drawn from an assortment of community and labor groups. “I want them to understand we just want to be able to pay our bills from one paycheck to the next and for them to respect us.”

Across the country, in more than 1,000 actions, Walmart workers and supporters from the broader public delivered the same message last Friday, according to Organization United for Respect Walmart. More commonly known as OUR Walmart, it is an association of Walmart workers launched in June 2011 with support from Making Change At Walmart, a community-labor coalition previously initiated by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union.

The actions ranged from the embryonic to the fully grown: A lone worker in Maryland went out on strike against illegal retaliation and threats by Walmart management, then handed out to customers leaflets she had made while carrying her homemade picket sign. Meanwhile, at the Paramount store in southern California, more than 1,00 workers and, primarily, sympathizers protested. There were successful rallies in big cities all over the country–such as Dallas, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Milwaukee, Washington D.C., and Miami.

Workers and allies even protested in Little Rock, Ark., in the shadow of the Bentonville, Ark., behemoth. Cayt Lawley joined the protest there, not the suburban Walmart where she worked until she was fired. She has charged Walmart with an unfair labor practice, arguing they dismissed her because she was a leading spokesperson for an organizer of workers in her store, not–as Walmart says–for the minor slip-up that her supervisor initially said was no problem.

“Now my co-workers are afraid to talk with me. They fear retaliation, for their jobs. It’s really sad,” she says. “But the strikes were phenomenal. I know there’s a buzz in the stores. Seeing workers who struck walking back in is really empowering. I think membership will go up.”

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Dumping on low-wage workers is lousy direct action

From Waging Non-Violence:

November 27, 2012

The picket line outside the Secaucus, N.J., Walmart at 1 p.m. on Black Friday was joyous, festive and celebratory. The sousaphonist from the Rude Mechanical Orchestra had the slogan “Stand Up, Live Better” around the rim of his instrument, and banners declared solidarity with the striking Walmart workers and support for union rights. They called on the world’s largest private employer to pay its workers a living wage and stop retaliation — the firing or punishing of workers who speak out about their working conditions. The crowd sang “Solidarity Forever” in all its glory, shaking fists at the “greedy parasites.”

At least as far as I could tell, though, there were no striking workers at this particular Walmart.

Around the country, hundreds of Walmart workers walked off the job on Black Friday, the notorious shopping day after Thanksgiving. Organizers say that a hundred cities saw strikers and a thousand total protests were held, covering all but four states, in an escalation of an ongoing campaign led by the Organization United for Respect at Walmart (OUR Walmart). They drew support from Occupy organizers, unions, community members and elected officials; Congressman-elect Alan Grayson walked one striker out of a store in Florida, and Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio told me, “I commend the workers who are exercising their rights to protest in order to improve conditions for other working Americans.”

Black Friday has grown into a symbol, to many, of the rot at the heart of American consumer capitalism, with people clawing and trampling one another in the rush to get the lowest price on holiday purchases. It has been the target of protest before, with the competing Buy Nothing Day dating back to the anti-corporate mobilizations of the 1990s. But this year at Walmart was different because the actions were called for by workers themselves, in the midst of a sustained campaign for better wages, hours and treatment.

Last year, as Susie Cagle reported, Occupy Oakland and other groups prepared a Black Friday action that was meant to disrupt the flow of commerce. Occupiers filled carts with merchandise, got into line, and then left the full carts there, moving on to another big box retailer.

While they also distributed flyers and prepared a banner drop opposing sweatshop labor, as Cagle noted, there’s a problem with this kind of action.

“During and after my coverage of the Occupy Oakland action in Emeryville, several people wrote to me on Twitter over the weekend expressing concern,” Cagle explained. “The majority were retail workers themselves, annoyed at the extra work of having to replace large amounts of stock on an already very busy day. A common refrain was, ‘We’re the 99% too.’”

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Wal-Mart Worker Uprising: Protests Held At 1,000 Stores on Black Friday

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It’s the Physical Cliff, Stupid

From Common Dreams:

We can lead at Doha and address our economic woes

Published on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 by Common Dreams

OK.  There’s the fiscal cliff – a self-inflicted economic hotfoot, but nothing irrevocable.

Then there’s the physical cliff – the remorseless warming of our planet driven by human emissions and the laws of physics, already irrevocable, and drifting toward a full-scale planetary disaster of biblical proportions if we don’t take drastic actions.

As the world meets at Doha, Qatar for yet another attempt to reign in global warming, guess which one the press, Congress, pundits, the president and other assorted beltway seers are obsessing on?

You got it.  The fiscal cliff.

And while the fiscal cliff could hurt many people for an election cycle or two, its effects are limited in time and geography, and it is easily avoided using popular policies, assuming a little guts and leadership from Democrats and the President.

Global warming, on the other hand, is … well … global.  We’re already locked into severe adverse consequences for centuries, and scientists believe that unless we do something drastic and soon, it is likely to trigger feedbacks which make the world warmer than any of our models suggest.  Ultimately, over the long term, methane releases from clathrates and permafrost could become self-reinforcing, proceeding on their own power and raising temperatures far higher than anything the Earth has experienced in over 55 million years and keeping them there for eons.

The litany of horror the physical cliff would create is long and dire.  Extinction of half of all species, sea levels rising continuously for centuries, a billion refugees by 2050, record droughts, expanding deserts, famine, epic storms, as many as a billion deaths … on and on and on.

The fiscal cliff?  Certainly it could impose hardships on people.  The enforced austerity would likely do here in the US, what it is doing in Europe – cause a deep and serious recession.  But this would be reversible.  We’d need only quit swallowing Republican talking points about austerity, government incompetence, and the mythical power of the private sector to confer prosperity by pure serendipity … to turn our economy around.

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Canada, the surprise ‘pariah’ of the Kyoto protocol

From The Guardian UK:

Some Canadians doubt whether their country should have any say in negotiating the second Kyoto protocol after it became the only nation to reject the first one

in Montreal, Monday 26 November 2012

Of all the delegations in the room in Doha, the Canadians adopt the lowest profile. Some question whether they should be there at all: The country’s first and only Green party MP, Elizabeth May, said: “Having Canada in the room negotiating to weaken the second Kyoto, when we have already signalled that not only will we not be participating in taking on new targets in the second period but we’re legally withdrawn from the protocol, should make us pariahs.”

“I can’t imagine how anybody would want us in the room.”

Canada’s current greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are 23% over the country’s Kyoto protocol target, and federal government estimates place Canada 28.8% over the target by 2014. Canada is the only country to have repudiated Kyoto, the sole legally binding international policy tool to date to deal with the emissions, and ranks just behind the US and Australia in the table of worst global emitters per capita.

This is because of Canada’s size, its cold climate and its resource-based economy, especially the energy-intensive, carbon-emissions-heavy oil boiled from large swaths of bitumen know as the Alberta tar sands.

Canada holds the world’s third-largest oil reserves, mostly concentrated in the western province of Alberta, the region that is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Where most provinces’ GHG emissions have stabilised since 1990, Alberta’s emissions have increased by 41%.

The cornerstone of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s policy has been to try to approve key pipelines, such the Keystone XL, from Alberta to Texas, the Enbridge Northern Gateway, from Alberta to the West Coast, and Enbridge Line 9, an eastbound pipeline reversal that could see tar-sands crude pumped to Quebec and the Atlantic coast.

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