Accepting the Face You See in the Mirror: One Trans Man’s Story

From Huffington Post:


Being comfortable in your own skin, is what most of us strive for at some point, in my opinion. For each person, being confident and secure with who they are on the inside as well as externally, is somewhat of an eternal struggle. For many people, what they see when they look in the mirror is a huge deciding factor on how they feel about themselves. Having said that, imagine if every time you looked in a mirror, what you saw reflected back at you did not represent who you feel you are on the inside?

I wake up everyday as a woman and I feel that I am a woman, inside and out. But, what if I felt like I was a man — and I am not talking sexual preference; what if male was the gender I identified with? What would anyone’s life be like, if every time you looked in the mirror, you did not connect, recognize or feel an association with what or who was staring back at you? Transgender people have a number of difficulties for a variety of reasons. They are victims of discrimination, harassment, fear-based hate and often, the victims of crime.

I recently attended the Good Vibrations Sex Summit. One of the speakers, Yoseñio Lewis was sharing on a panel about “Sexual Health and Pharmaceuticals.” He made some thought provoking statements, about how the pills that help us live longer, at times can alter our quality of life. As I listened to Lewis explain why he felt this way, I was floored when he identified himself as a trans man. His statement was followed by: “It’s OK, you can pick your jaw up off the floor now.”

Seeing him teach and speak, I identified Lewis as a man. I was surprised when he shared that he is a trans man. It didn’t change what I thought of him, but it made me curious about what he must have gone through to make the transition from female to male. I wanted to know the process and how it impacted him, good or bad. Lewis was gracious enough to answer the questions I asked him, speaking for himself and hopefully, in doing so, shedding some light on the topic for others.

Lewis always felt he was a man on the inside:

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‘Free CeCe McDonald!’–The right to fight back

From Worker’s World:

on December 7, 2012

Mike checked

At certain moments in history, the struggle of individuals to survive and organize against fascist attacks, police and prison terror sharply reveals the societal relationship of forces—between oppressor and oppressed, exploiter and exploited. These battles inspire unity and action that help shape and define political eras—like the demands to free the Scottsboro Brothers, Lolita Lebron, Leonard Peltier, George Jackson, Joann Little, Mumia Abu-Jamal.

The struggle to “Free CeCe!” is sparking a growing, broad united front against white supremacy and anti-trans* violence. CeCe McDonald’s courage and consciousness, and the tireless and tenacious solidarity work by supporters in Minneapolis and the region—led by those who are oppressed—has widened and deepened the demand to “Free CeCe!” in cities across the U.S., and around the world.

Hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. and internationally now know more facts about the attack on CeCe McDonald than the judge and prosecutor allowed a jury to know during her trial.

CeCe McDonald and her friends were assaulted in Minneapolis on June 5, 2011, by a group that announced its ideology as racist and fascist in words and action. The attackers shouted white-supremacist Klan language, transmisogynist epithets, and a slur against same-sex love.

CeCe replied that “her crew would not tolerate hate speech.”

One of the attackers then assaulted CeCe McDonald with a weapon—smashing her in the face with a bar glass that deeply punctured her cheek.

In the fight that ensued, one of the attackers died. He had a swastika tattoo.

CeCe McDonald was the only person arrested by the police that night. McDonald has been punished ever since as the “aggressor” for defending her life, and the lives of her friends—and surviving. Police, sheriffs, jailers, prosecutor, judge and prison administration have arrested her, locked her up, and held her in solitary confinement for long periods.

Stop the war on trans*/women of color!

It is no metaphor to say that there is a war against trans*/women of color in the U.S.—on the streets and in the prisons.

Here are the names of some of those who lost their lives to anti-trans* lynchings in cities across the U.S. in 2012:

Brandy Martell. Paige Clay. Kyra Kruz. Deoni Jones. Tracy Johnson. Tyrell Jackson. Rosita Hidalgo. Coko Williams. Kendall Hampton. Tiffany Gooden. Dee Dee Pearson. Githe Goines. Brenting Dolliole. Janette Tovar. Cassidy Vickers.

When a trans*/person is murdered, often police and monopoly media don’t investigate or report the deaths. Killers, largely unsought, walk free. Therefore little is known about any possible links between these murders, or any connections the killers had/have with neo-fascist groups, police or military.

CeCe McDonald fought and survived a group fascist attack. She is hailed as a hero—a femme hera—in many communities in the U.S. and around the world.

The continued punishment of CeCe McDonald by police, prosecutor, judge and prison warden is a green light to neo-fascists—on the streets, and in schools, police precincts, prisons and detention centers.

This reporter was told by a survivor of the attack on CeCe McDonald and her friends that harassment and threats by white supremacists continued on the streets of South Minneapolis after the June 5 assault.

Now CeCe McDonald is in a struggle to defend her life in a prison cell, where sadistic white supremacy and transmisogyny hold the key.

‘Cops and Klan work hand in hand’

Police and prison guard brutality against trans* people also goes largely unreported by officials and monopoly media.

Journalist Marc Lamont Hill wrote in Ebony magazine: “According to studies, 38% of Black trans people indicate that they have been harassed by the police. Even worse, 20% state that they have been physically or sexual assaulted by police.

“Given this pattern of criminalization and abuse … it is no surprise that most victims of transgender violence (52%) do not report the crimes to law enforcement.”

Hill continued, “[T]rans individuals are subjected to prison sentences during which they will be labeled and treated as a gender rather than their own. Such a practice, if done to straight cisexual individuals, would clearly be understood and challenged as torture.” (

CeCe McDonald wrote from St. Cloud prison to those taking part in Trans* Day of Remembrance 2012:

“We need to not only celebrate for Trans Day of Remembrance, but also become self-aware and ready to put an end to our community being the focus of violence. Of course it is more than important to recognize and pay homage to our fallen, but we also need to put our feet down and start being real leaders and making this stand.

“And personally speaking, if it’s true that this is my personal journey as a leader, I want to lead my troops to victory. I can’t continue to say ‘how bad’ that another brother, sister, mother, father, partner, friend is gone from blind-hatred. From ignorance and discrimination.

“I would have rather been punished for asserting myself than become another victim of hatred.”

CeCe McDonald’s assertion, and her self-defense, are historically rooted in the right—the necessity—to fight back against Nazi, Klan and other white supremacist, fascist terror.

Fighting back against slavery

It wasn’t moral persuasion that overturned the Southern slavocracy on the North American continent. It took many hard-fought, bloody battles.

The “legal” system of slavery was rocked by “illegal” uprisings and resistance by enslaved and self-emancipated African laborers, like Nat Turner, Denmark Vesey, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth.

Freedom fighters—Black and white together—carried out a guerrilla raid on the U.S. Army arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, in 1859. They hoped to liberate and distribute weapons and spark insurrectionary uprising against the white supremacist slavocracy.

The late Workers World newspaper Editor Vincent Copeland contrasted the raid on Harper’s Ferry with the Civil War.

Copeland wrote that the Civil War in what is now the U.S.: “was, of course, a war against slavery when it did come, regardless of the will of most of its official leaders. …”

Copeland stressed, “The difference between the John Brown raid and the long-fought Civil War was not just in the massive character of the latter as opposed to the allegedly individualist character of the former. It wasn’t just the conventional organization into companies, regiments, brigades, and so on, as opposed to the general guerrilla insurrection almost begun by Brown and Anderson that made the difference.

“The real difference lay in the fact that one conceived of a slave uprising and took the first step in that direction—while the other, although forced to free the slaves in the long run, and forced to enlist nearly 200,000 Black men in its ranks—did not at first contemplate an actual slave uprising, and in fact, opposed it.” (A Voice from Harper’s Ferry 1859,

Copeland concluded that the Civil War, “was a revolution that destroyed forever the power of the slaveowners as a class and chattel slavery as a system. But … [t]he ending of slavery as an institution, as is well known, did not lead to any real amelioration of the actual conditions of life, particularly the economic conditions, for the vast majority of the Black people at that time.”

‘Who’s gonna stop the Klan?’

The former Southern slavocracy created and armed the Klan as a weapon of terror and murder after the Civil War.

“The Klan would not be a problem worthy of discussion if one were to judge it merely by its numbers, which are conceded by all sides to be rather insignificant,” WWP founder Sam Marcy wrote.

“The far more important problem is the reciprocal relations between the capitalist government and the Klan.”

Marcy stressed, “[T]he durability of the Klan rests on solid long-term bonds to the state, and that the two share a common political ideology, for the most part.”

Today’s U.S. ruling class, “had the opportunity to wipe out the Klan more than a century ago,” Sam Marcy continued, but “it failed to do so.” (“The Klan & the Government: Foes or Allies,”

After the Civil War, Sam Marcy emphasized, “The Northern industrialists and bankers were more interested in reaching a compromise with the ex-slaveowners than with the newly freed slaves.

“The U.S. government capitulated to the Southern planters and ex-slaveowners after the period of Reconstruction when it withdrew federal troops from the South without establishing an independent citizens’ militia composed of the Black people and poor whites.

Marcy continued, “It also left them politically defenseless and deprived the Black population of economic power by failing to grant the newly emancipated people the land which they had tilled for centuries. …”

“It was in this period that lynchings, the most barbarous form of counter-revolutionary terror, became the hallmark of the reactionary attempt to keep the Black people in semi-bondage,” Sam Marcy concluded.

‘We’re gonna stop the Klan!’

Ever since the violent dismantling of revolutionary Black Reconstruction after the Civil War, the police, in large numbers, are called out to protect the right of white supremacists and fascists to assemble and publicly make their call for racist genocide.

When police attack, their force is always directed at those protesting the Klan.

Over the decades, millions have taken to the streets in movements for national liberation and immigrant worker rights, against white supremacy, patriarchal class rule and anti-LGBTQ/+ oppressions.

They have answered which social force has the ability and willingness to fight white supremacist lynch-law terror—chanting in unison:

“We’re gonna stop the Klan!”

The growing demand to “Free CeCe McDonald!” also defends the right to organize and fight back against white supremacist, anti-trans*, anti-woman violence—on the streets, and in jail/prison cells.

(Sources: The Root,; “Transrespect versus Transphobia Worldwide” research project,; The Guerrilla Angel Report, lexiecannes.wordpress. All quotes from CeCe McDonald along with more information on her case can be found at

Next: ‘Free CeCe McDonald!’: From Tulsa, 1921 to South Minneapolis, 2011—Self defense is a right, and a necessity!’

Leslie Feinberg faces an upcoming jury trial in Minneapolis on a charge of 3rd-degree Gross Misdemeanor Property Damage charge for a June 4, 2012 action in solidarity with CeCe McDonald.

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Where Is Sage Smith?

From Huffington Post:


Unless you’ve been following the work of Monica Roberts, The Opposing Views and David Lohr over at The Huffington Post, you probably don’t know that a trans teenage girl from Charlottesville, Va., has been missing for nearly 20 days. By flipping through mainstream newspapers or watching the evening news — both nationally and locally — you wouldn’t know that Sage Smith, 19, was reportedly last seen by her family on Nov. 20, and police, despite allegedly “working daily on the case,” haven’t been able to locate a suspect, a man whom they had previously interviewed. You also wouldn’t know that her family and friends have had to organize their own search-and-recuse missions, because by most estimations the police aren’t doing enough, and judging by their comments to media, they have little if any respect for transgender individuals.

Since Sage Smith was first reported missing on Nov. 22, there has been virtually no mainstream media coverage of her abduction. There has only been one local story produced, and in it reporters consistently use the wrong pronouns to identify her, and the story only mentions the name she lives by once, as though it were a nickname. Even worse, the local authorities who are spearheading the search for her have reportedly lost their suspect without much hope of finding him.

“I can’t brag on Charlottesville when my little 19-year-old cousin is missing,” Kenneth Jackson, Sage Smith’s cousin, told members of the Charlottesville City Council on Monday, adding that the FBI and state police should be called in to help with the search. “Chief, the police department has not done what it’s supposed to do to find our child,” Jackson said.

As the search for Sage continues, so do the questions about the police investigation, including how they managed to interview the main suspect only to have him slip away without any trace. There’s also something to be said for the lack of attention Smith’s story has garnered both locally and national.

To call the mainstream media’s silence on Sage Smith’s story deafening would be an understatement. Really, it’s bigger. That someone’s son or daughter, trans-identified or not, can go missing from their family for nearly 20 days and there be no national or even local outcry is more than enraging; it’s terrifying.

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The Truth About “Pink” and “Blue” Brains

From The Society Pages:

by Lisa Wade, PhD
December 9, 2012

I loathe to weigh in on the “war on men” conversation, but… alas.

While one can use both logic and data to poke gaping holes in Suzanne Venker’s argument that women need to surrender to their femininity and let men think that they’re in charge if they ever want to get married, I just want to point out one thing — one endlessly repeated thing — that she gets very, very wrong.

Venker claims that there has “been an explosion of brain research” that proves that men and women have different brains.  This research, she claims, shows that men are loners who like to hunt and build things and women are nurturers who like to talk and take care of people.

This false on two fronts.

First, she’s wrong about the brain research.  The books and articles claiming that there are “pink” and “blue” brains are not consistent with existing research.  (They are out there because people can make a lot of money by confirming other people’s biases.)

What does the research say?

It’s true that scientists have documented a number of small, average sex differences in brain anatomy, composition, and function, as well as differences in size and tissue ratios.  (Other differences — such as the size of the corpus callosum and lateralization, whether one sex uses one side of their brain more than the other — have proven to be wrong.)

So, scientists do find some differences, but they have largely failed to link these to differences in men’s and women’s observed emotions, cognition,  or behavior.  That is, we’ve found some differences, but we have no proof that they translate into anything. Moreover, new research suggests that differences we observe may be designed not to create differences between men and women, but to reduce them.  The brain may have two strategies for achieving the same outcome or one difference may compensate for another.  (For more, see Brain Gender by Melissa Hines.)

That’s one reason why Venker is wrong.

The second reason is even more damning.  Most of the research attempting to explain gender difference assumes that there differences to explain.   In fact, meta-analyses aimed at summarizing the literature on human sex differences and similarities in traits, personality, cognitive abilities, sexuality, temperament, and motor skills offer better evidence for similarity than difference.  On the vast majority of traits, men and women overlap tremendously.

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Getting the Cold Shoulder: The Chill of Loneliness

From The New York Times:

Published: December 8, 2012

Tilburg, the Netherlands

In “Jealous Guy,” John Lennon described his heart-aching insecurity as “shivering inside.” In “The Rain Song,” Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant bemoaned, “I’ve felt the coldness of my winter.” And in “It Will Be Lonely This Christmas,” the ’70s band Mud crooned desperately, “It’ll be cold, so cold, without you to hold.”

The poets were right about the chill of isolation and rejection — more, perhaps, than even they knew: when a person feels lonely or is being excluded by others, his or her skin literally becomes colder.

For the past several years, our lab has been studying just how people respond to exclusion and other social interactions. In one recent experiment, published earlier this year in the journal Acta Psychologica, we asked dozens of students to participate in a simulated ball-tossing game with computer-generated cartoonlike figures called avatars. While they played, we measured their skin temperature 24 times over the course of the experiment with a device most commonly used for industrial coolers (accurate to within three-hundredths of a degree Celsius).

Research by the Purdue University psychologist Kip Williams, who programs these avatars to refrain from tossing the ball to certain human subjects, has shown that people feel bad when left out. But perhaps more striking is what happens to a person’s body temperature in such scenarios. By the end of our imaginary game of catch, finger temperatures of those whom the avatars excluded dropped by an average 0.378 degrees. (Those who were included experienced no change in temperature.)

How might this work? One likely mechanism is through the autonomic nervous system. Research has shown that things like heart rate, levels of respiration and other involuntary physiological responses are affected by social connectedness. Thus, when people feel excluded, blood vessels at the periphery of the body (in the fingertips, for example) may narrow, preserving core body heat. This classic protective mechanism is known as vasoconstriction.

A number of research groups, including labs in Canada, Poland and our own in the Netherlands, have reported that having the memory of being socially excluded — or just feeling “different” from others in a room — is enough to change our perception of the environment around us. Such feelings can prime individuals to sense, for example, that a room in which they’re standing is significantly colder than it is.

Notably, touching something warm after a feeling of ostracism — like holding a warm cup of coffee — is enough to halt and even reverse some of these autonomic responses. It seems as if the body can be fooled into feeling welcomed by applying a little warmth in the right places. And the effect is reciprocal: studies in our own lab and at Yale have found that adults and young children are more social after they’ve touched something warm.

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Anita Sarkeesian at TEDxWomen 2012

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Hey, Girls, ‘Modesty’ Is Bullshit

From Jezebel:

Lindy West
Dec 9, 2012

The Merriam-Webster English Dictionary defines “opening your article with a quote from a dictionary” as “the most bush-league garbage move of all time”—but that’s because it’s mainly used by pimply baby boys in red states who want you to know how personally wounded they are by the existence of Black History Month. In some cases, consulting a dictionary can be legit instructive. Like right now, when we have young women running around proselytizing about “modesty” in the name of women’s lib. Um, ladies, no.

Let’s consult the dic.

modesty (n.)
1530s, “freedom from exaggeration, self-control,” from M.Fr. modestie or directly from L. modestia “moderation, sense of honor, correctness of conduct,” from modestus “moderate, keeping measure, sober, gentle, temperate,” from modus “measure, manner” (see mode (n.1)). Meaning “quality of having a moderate opinion of oneself” is from 1550s; that of “womanly propriety” is from 1560s.

This is what “modesty” means. The key points here are “correctness of conduct” and “womanly propriety.” If we’re looking at the concept of modesty in the non-humble sense, it is a gendered term. It means adhering to a paternalistic and historically oppressive moral code. It means “know your place.” It means that certain behaviors are “appropriate” for a woman and others aren’t—not for a human being (we’re not talking about murder or dog-marriage here), but for a woman. It means that ladies need to be covering up their tittayz.

Ladies. You do not need to be covering up your tittayz.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you need to be showing them off and waggling them about in church, or splitting the difference by sort of intermittently flashing them like a strobe light. It just means that you get to do whatever you want with them, regardless of any and all 400-year-old notions about “womanly propriety.” Barring public nudity laws (which are also kind of silly, but whatevs), the idea that society can tell you how much of your body to reveal or hide implies that your body does not belong to you. The concept of modesty is proprietary and patriarchal and ancient. I’m pretty sure that even the most hardline anti-feminist can admit who owned women’s bodies in the 1560s, when the term came plopping out of the etymological birth canal. Hint: it wasn’t women.

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NOW Calls on Supreme Court to Rule in Favor of Marriage Equality

From NOW:

Press Release
December 7, 2012

The National Organization for Women applauds the Supreme Court for taking up the issue of marriage equality. The justices announced today that they would hear arguments in two such cases, one involving California’s Proposition 8 and another addressing the federal government’s Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). NOW has taken strong stands against both laws, which restrict marriage to one man and one woman.

“Prop 8 and DOMA are blatantly unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has stated before that marriage is a fundamental right. The next logical step is for the court to recognize that this right applies equally to same-sex couples,” said NOW President Terry O’Neill. “Since Chief Justice John Roberts took his seat, the court’s record on politically-charged issues is not particularly promising; but the justices’ decision upholding the Affordable Care Act shows that the Roberts Court is capable of making the right call.”

Nearly two decades ago, NOW became one of the first progressive organizations to advocate for same-sex marriage rights. NOW remains dedicated to ensuring that lesbian and gay couples’ right to marry is legally recognized in all states and by the federal government.

Voters made history just last month by approving ballot measures in Maine, Maryland and Washington that advanced marriage equality, while rejecting a Minnesota referendum that would have limited the freedom to marry. This was the first time statewide votes upheld same-sex marriage and the first time an anti-LGBT marriage amendment was defeated in a statewide vote.

“Every day, DOMA denies committed same-sex couples more than 1,000 federal benefits that opposite-sex couples receive,” said NOW Executive Vice President Bonnie Grabenhofer. “This form of discrimination stems not from any rational concern for ‘traditional’ families, but from a misguided commitment to the status quo at best and from a place of fear, intolerance and hatred at worst. It is incumbent upon the Supreme Court to rule on the side of justice and equality.”

The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in these cases in March, and decisions are likely to come in late June.

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Commentary on marriage grants: Marriage equality’s Cinderella moment

From SCOTUS Blog:

William Eskridge and Hans Johnson
Sun, December 9th, 2012

The blog is pleased to have commentary and analysis of Friday’s grants in the marriage cases from supporters of both sides.  This post has reactions from William N. Eskridge Jr., Professor of Law at Yale, and Hans P. Johnson, President of Progressive Victory. 

For almost two generations, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons have demanded equal treatment from the state for their committed relationships. For most of that period, American government has denied such claims, and leading politicians have disparaged them. In 1996, for example, Congress and President Clinton enacted the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the most sweeping governmental discrimination against gay people in American history. When state judges have recognized marriage equality under state constitutions, there has been a much-noted backlash against such rulings. One example was California’s Proposition 8, which in 2008 overrode marriage equality through a voter initiative amending the state constitution.

In the last month, marriage equality for LGBT persons has emerged as the Cinderella of American public law. Once dressed in rags and consigned to the shadows, marriage equality now dances in the ballroom, pursued by suitors who once spurned it without remorse. The Clinton and Bush presidencies exploited gay marriage in their politics of scapegoating – yet President Obama just won reelection as a supporter of marriage equality. In an increasing number of cases, federal and state judges, including several Republican judges, have ruled that DOMA’s central provision and discriminatory state marriage laws violate constitutional equality guarantees.

On December 7, the Supreme Court took review in one of the DOMA cases (United States v. Windsor) and in the case challenging Proposition 8 (Hollingsworth v. Perry). The very institution that ruled in 1967 that “homosexuals” were, as a matter of law, “persons afflicted with psychopathic personality” could by June 2013 restore marriage equality in the nation’s largest state and could strike down the DOMA provision barring federal rights and benefits for lesbian and gay couples validly married under state law.

How did we get to this Cinderella moment?  What role did courts play? And what role should the U.S. Supreme Court play in the endgame?

The nation has arrived at this moment for marriage equality, essentially, because lesbian and gay couples came out of their closets. Once Americans got to know something about LGBT people and their relationships, the overwhelming anti-gay attitudes of thirty years ago have steadily eroded.   When we were growing up, in the small-town South and Midwest, almost everyone said that “homosexuals” were mentally ill and dangerous predators. Indeed, the central anti-gay stereotype was (and remains) the idea that “homosexuality” is anti-family.  This is the conceptual basis for the Clinton/Bush-era idea that marriage and family need “defending” against LGBT persons.

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On Being Witness to Extraordinary History

From Huffington Post:


We have few occasions in life to be witness to extraordinary history. This is one of those days. Today same-sex couples in Washington are getting married under a law approved by the voters. For the first time in the United States, their marriage is legal not because of actions by legislatures or courts but because their equal rights were affirmed by their peers across the state at the ballot box. That shift is momentous and one of which I am incredibly proud.

On election night I was overcome by emotion as I took the stage for a celebration of our state’s same-sex marriage efforts. I looked out over a crowd of several thousand who had fought so hard for this moment. They were young and old, families and couples, military members past and present, businesspeople and public servants, of all races and all backgrounds, and for the first time marriage equality was within their reach. It was the most memorable moments in my 20 years in elected office.

Like any journey, ours was one of a million steps by thousands of everyday people. Nearly 25 years ago Washington elected the first openly gay member of our legislature, Cal Anderson. Today, 17 years after his death, Cal’s dream has been realized. We stand on his shoulders and the shoulders of so many who brought us to this point.

In Seattle the first couple to receive their marriage license had been together for 35 years. Today, after a very long engagement, they are getting married. Across Washington similar stories abound. Hundreds stood in line overnight so that they would not have to wait a moment longer for the rights they deserve. Within the first 24 hours more than 800 same-sex couples applied for marriage licenses.

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Raiding Consciousness

From Tom Dispatch:

Why the War on Drugs Is a War on Human Nature 

By Lewis Lapham
December 9, 2012

The question that tempts mankind to the use of substances controlled and uncontrolled is next of kin to Hamlet’s: to be, or not to be, someone or somewhere else. Escape from a grievous circumstance or the shambles of an unwanted self, the hope of finding at a higher altitude a new beginning or a better deal. Fly me to the moon, and let me play among the stars; give me leave to drown my sorrow in a quart of gin; wine, dear boy, and truth.

That the consummations of the wish to shuffle off the mortal coil are as old as the world itself was the message brought by Abraham Lincoln to an Illinois temperance society in 1842. “I have not inquired at what period of time the use of intoxicating liquors commenced,” he said, “nor is it important to know.” It is sufficient to know that on first opening our eyes “upon the stage of existence,” we found “intoxicating liquor recognized by everybody, used by everybody, repudiated by nobody.”

The state of intoxication is a house with many mansions. Fourteen centuries before the birth of Christ, the Rigveda finds Hindu priests chanting hymns to a “drop of soma,” the wise and wisdom-loving plant from which was drawn juices distilled in sheep’s wool that “make us see far; make us richer, better.” Philosophers in ancient Greece rejoiced in the literal meaning of the word symposium, a “drinking together.” The Roman Stoic Seneca recommends the judicious embrace of Bacchus as a liberation of the mind “from its slavery to cares, emancipates it, invigorates it, and emboldens it for all its undertakings.”

Omar Khayyam, twelfth-century Persian mathematician and astronomer, drinks wine “because it is my solace,” allowing him to “divorce absolutely reason and religion.” Martin Luther, early father of the Protestant Reformation, in 1530 exhorts the faithful to “drink, and right freely,” because it is the devil who tells them not to. “One must always do what Satan forbids. What other cause do you think that I have for drinking so much strong drink, talking so freely, and making merry so often, except that I wish to mock and harass the devil who is wont to mock and harass me.”

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At ‘Urban Uprising’ Conference, Activists Reimagine the City Post-Sandy

From In These Times:

By Michelle Chen
Thursday Dec 6, 2012

Disaster has a way of concentrating the mind. And Gotham has always had its share of it: whether it’s a slow-burning disaster like the epidemic of income inequality, the endemic scourge of police brutality and racial profiling, or the chronic deprivation of healthy food in isolated neighborhoods. Superstorm Sandy churned all of these elements of urban chaos. But in its wake, the storm has laid bare new pathways for innovations, and new frontiers for struggles against inequality.

The undercurrent of these contradictions ran through a conference this weekend dedicated to “designing a city for the 99%,” a possibility made more real and urgent in the storm’s aftermath. Urban Uprising, held at the New School and the CUNY Graduate Center (where this reporter is also a graduate student), brought together academics, legal experts, organizers and urban ecologists to broach fresh questions about organizing communities: how to harness the energy of Occupy and channel it into direct, localized campaigns; how to balance environmental renewal with economic development; and how to reorient debates on food policy away from apolitical consumer interests and toward the connection between food justice and fighting poverty.

The post-Sandy recovery process colored discussions of one of the main themes: “reimagining the city,” which focused on cultivation, both literal and figurative, of a new urban landscape.

David Harvey, a City University anthropology and geography scholar, has long argued that the Left must learn to organize at the level of the city. His work on the links between urbanization and capitalism helped invigorate the “Right to the City” alliance, one of the groups that organized the conference. During the conference, Harvey noted the ways in which community initiatives like Occupy Sandy are reclaiming urban space for popular struggle. “In a way,” Harvey said in an interview with In These Times, Occupy Sandy is “spreading a political message by a different route. And therefore, Occupy has not gone away. It’s moved into the boroughs… It is therefore a commitment to a different kind of lifestyle, a different kind of on-the-ground politics which in the long run may be just as important as the symbolic politics of Zuccotti Park.”

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Community Response to Disaster

From Common Dreams:

by Susan Clark and Woden Teachout
Published on Sunday, December 9, 2012 by Common Dreams

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, one thing is striking: the extent to which many of the best and first responders have been local.

From Brooklyn down to the Jersey Shore, Sandy has left its mark. But now, stories abound of community groups shoveling sand out of living rooms, feeding and housing the homeless, and arranging online help through listservs and crowdfunding. Somehow, communities have married the best of old-fashioned neighborliness to 21st century networking — resulting in a steady flow of local energy against a sea of devastation.

Federal help is still critical. State and local governments can’t respond alone to disasters of this scale. As comedian Steven Colbert quipped sarcastically, “Who better to respond to what’s going on inside its own borders than the state whose infrastructure has just been swept out to sea?”

But when physical infrastructure is swept away, it reveals another layer of community: its civic infrastructure. And just as storms have a way of revealing deferred maintenance on bridges and levies, disasters also teach us the cost of neglecting civic participation, neighborly communication, and a strong citizen decision-making process — qualities that FEMA and the Red Cross simply cannot replace.

Given that our world is likely to be threatened by more Katrinas, Irenes, and Sandys, it’s time to appreciate not just our federal government agencies, but our local governance abilities.

This type of local governance can take its lead from the slow food movement, and is something we like to call slow democracy.

“Slow” is a nod to the priorities of slow food activists who argue that fast food is a symbol of centralization, top-down homogeneity, and much of what ails the world today. “Slow” embraces the local, rejects cookie-cutter solutions, and places an emphasis on relationships. And those relationships aren’t just a “feel-good” concept; in fact, a key recommendation in many U.S. cities’ emergency preparedness plans is that people get to know their neighbors. In short: Social capital saves lives.

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World To Exceed Pollution Budget To Avoid 2C Temperature Rise In 5 Years

From Counter Currents:

By Dr Gideon Polya
09 December, 2012

The world is badly running out of time to deal with man-made climate change and keep temperature rise to within 2 degrees Centigrade (2oC) – but how much time have we left? Answer: 5.3 years. The basis for this appalling conclusion is set out below.

The 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference, commonly known as the Copenhagen Summit, included the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Most countries subsequently signed up to the Copenhagen Accord that recognised that climate change is one of the greatest challenges to Humanity and that actions should be taken to keep any temperature increases to below 2 °C (see “2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference”, Wikipedia: ).

In a 2009 report entitled “Solving the climate dilemma: a budget approach” the WBGU, that advises the German Government on climate change, estimated that for a 75% chance of avoiding a 2C (2oC, 2 degree Centigrade, 2 degree Celsius) temperature rise (EU policy and majority global policy since the 2009 Copenhagen Climate Change Conference) the world can emit no more than 600 billion tonnes CO2 (carbon dioxide) (600 Gt CO2) between 2010 and zero emissions in 2050 (see WBGU, “Solving the climate dilemma: the budget approach”: ). Since CO2 is the most important greenhouse gas (GHG) we could roughly set the world’s terminal GHG pollution budget at 600 Gt CO2-e (CO2-equivalent, this term including other GHGs). Relative to commencement in 2010, how many years have we left before we exceed this terminal CO2 pollution budget of 600 Gt CO2-e?

The US Energy Information Administration (US EIA) provides detailed statistics on CO2 pollution and has provided estimates of global energy-related CO2 pollution between 2005 (28.181 Gt CO2) and 2035 (43.220 Gt CO2) (see US EIA, “Energy-related carbon dioxide emissions”, Table A10: ). Using this expertly-determined , year-by-year estimate of global energy-related CO2 emissions one can estimate that the post-2009 total will reach 588 Gt by the end of 2026 and 628 Gt by the end of 2028 i.e. the terminalCO2 pollution budget will be exceeded in mid-2027 or in roughly 14.5 years from now.

However energy-related CO2 pollution is a major part of the general greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution problem, CO2 pollution also occurs in cement manufacture and other naturally-occurring as well as synthetic greenhouse gases contribute to GHG pollution that can be expressed as CO2-equivalent (CO2-e). A GHG is methane (CH4), which is a major component of natural gas, is produced by methanogenic livestock and anaerobic degradation of plant materials in swamps, and is increasingly being released from CH4-water clathrates from shallow Arctic Ocean sea beds and the melting of the Arctic tundra (se “Atmospheric methane”, Wikipedia: ).

The Global Warming Potential (GWP) of CH4 relative to that if CO2 (1.0) is 21 on a 100 year time frame but on a 20 year time frame and taking aerosol impacts into account, it is 105. This re-assessment of the GWP of CH4 becomes of great importance in assessing how many years we have left to tackle GHG pollution (see Drew T. Shindell , Greg Faluvegi, Dorothy M. Koch , Gavin A. Schmidt , Nadine Unger and Susanne E. Bauer , “Improved Attribution of Climate Forcing to Emissions”, Science, 30 October 2009: Vol. 326 no. 5953 pp. 716-718: ).

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