Friday Day Night Fun and Culture John Lennon and the Beatles.

I know I featured John Lennon a couple of weeks ago but some how in the wake of what happened last Friday John and the Beatles seem like one of the best choices available.

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The Cold Shoulder at Christmas: Family Holidays With a Transgender Daughter

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ellsworth-derry-rundlett-iii/the-cold-shoulder-at-christmas-family-holidays-with-a-transgender-daughter_b_2338479.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices


12/20/2012

I am a senior member of a large blended family that includes step-siblings, exes, in-laws and friends. When I visit my grandchildren, I sometimes quiz them to see whether they can follow the tangled branches of our family tree. I will say something like, “Papa Derry was once married to Grammy Marlys, true or false?” “False!” they will yell, though I can sometimes confuse them with first and second cousins.

Eight years ago, my daughter Nicole introduced a new twist to our motley tribe. She was Nick at the time, the best son a man could ask for, but — unbeknownst to the rest of the family — she had always identified as a woman. When Nicole decided to become her authentic self, I was startled and unsure — but time, education and counseling have made our parent/child relationship stronger than ever. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for our extended family.

Prior to Nicki’s transition, Christmas was a delightful family-filled time, with everyone vacationing in one big rented house on the beach or in the mountains. Sometimes there would be as many as 20 people playing games, opening presents, and sharing large dinners. One Christmas, I looked around the dinner table and realized the only person with whom I had a blood relationship was my son, Nick.

Soon after Nick began to transition to Nicole, she and her wife divorced. While the mother of my grandchildren was as kind and forgiving as one would hope for, the traditional Christmas with all of us together was, in her mind, out of the question.

The rest of the extended family was also affected by this change. One person wrote a long holiday newsletter that mentioned every member of the family — except Nicole and her kids. Whether this omission was intentional or accidental, it stung. Nicole couldn’t help but feel it as an editorial comment on her new life.

Now, when Nicole approached the subject of a family holiday, she received excuses and regrets. One year, my wife and I invited Nicole’s former in-laws to dine with our grandchildren. Dinner at a Chinese restaurant was pleasant, but it was not the same as sitting around the tree, exchanging joke gifts, and telling family stories. While they were polite and cordial, we noticed that discussing my daughter’s life was simply out of the question. To my alarm, my grandson referred to Nicole as “the family secret.” I appreciated his honesty, but my daughter, whom I cherish, is anything but a secret.

Continue reading at:   http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ellsworth-derry-rundlett-iii/the-cold-shoulder-at-christmas-family-holidays-with-a-transgender-daughter_b_2338479.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

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Trans activist takes on anti-gay pastor on Ugandan TV

From Xtra:   http://www.xtra.ca/blog/national/post/2012/12/19/Trans-activist-takes-on-anti-gay-pastor-on-Ugandan-TV.aspx

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI
Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A television debate between anti-gay preacher Martin Ssempa and trans activist Pepe Onziema was dominated by Ssempa, who launched into a tirade against gay sex and continuously interrupted the show’s host and Onziema. 

The debate occurred in the midst of heightened focus on the so-called Kill the Gays bill that Uganda’s parliament is due to debate in the new year. Ugandan parliamentary speaker Rebecca Kadaga’s desire to pass the measure as a Christmas gift to the population failed as the legislature was adjourned until next February.

On the talk show, Ssempa used a banana to explain why gay sex is unnatural. “This is a man’s genitals [he says, gesticulating with the banana] and you insert them into the intestine; they put their genitals into the excretory system. This excretory system is not designed to receive; it is only for exit,” says the pastor, who is known for his fiery sermons against homosexuality and for showing porn in church.

Turning his attention to lesbians, Ssempa says that since they do not have the equipment, they “use their lips,” which leads to “oral gonorrhea.” He says women also use “gadgets like bananas, they use carrots, they use cucumbers.”

Ssempa goes on to talk about transgender people and their “confusion,” calling Onziema a woman and referring to him using the pronoun she. “We are dealing with a girl who thinks she is a boy; that is a sickness. We need to guide them,” Ssempa says, offering to provide his phone number.

“He. He, pastor. I invited Mr Onziema,” the host says at one point, correcting Ssempa.

Asked by the show’s host why Europeans “condone it and we condemn it in Africa,” Ssempa says that for Africans, it is a human vice; for Europeans, it’s a human right.

Continue reading at:   http://www.xtra.ca/blog/national/post/2012/12/19/Trans-activist-takes-on-anti-gay-pastor-on-Ugandan-TV.aspx

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They Are Coming for Your Birth Control: “Get Your Perverse Acts Out of My Pocketbook!”

From RH Reality Check:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/12/19/they-are-coming-your-birth-control-get-your-perverse-acts-out-my-pocketbook

by Robin Marty
December 20, 2012

Note: Think that anti-choice politicians and activists aren’t trying to outlaw contraception?  Think again.  Follow along in an ongoing series that proves beyond a doubt that they really are coming for your birth control.

If you are a resident of the city of Milwaukee, you’d better be on the alert for the newest threat to your taxpayer dollars. Some of it may be going to fund cases and cases of condoms.

But these are not just your “everyday condoms,” according to one radio host. No, these are wasteful, expensive, rainbow-colored, super-sensitive condoms. Taxpayers are allegedly footing the bill for these Mercedes of all prophylactics, instead of just buying regular opaque generics. How fiscally irresponsible!

In fact, after doing a bit of math, the radio host claims that the cost in purchasing fancy colorful condoms versus plain condoms comes to an additional $12,000. That’s coincidentally enough exactly how much the Wisconsin tax payers are paying for the program, the rest of which is covered by grants.

Pro-Life Wisconsin agrees: these are rainbow colored pockets of sin, and taxes shouldn’t be used to pay. Via WTMJ in Wisconsin, Peggy Hamill of Pro-Life Wisconsin condemned the attempts to provide better access to condoms in general, and especially fancy-pants condoms and lubricants.

“There used to be a sense of culture and decency in our culture, but here, now, to find out that the city of Milwaukee is planning on being involved in something so seedy is disgusting…we hear often of people saying “keep your rosary off my ovaries,” or “stay out of my bedroom.” My thought is “keep your private parts and your perverse acts out of my pocketbook.”

Really? Sexual intercourse with a condom is a “perverse act?” Hamill even goes on to claim condoms do nothing to prevent sexually transmitted diseases due to “leakages” and “rips.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/article/2012/12/19/they-are-coming-your-birth-control-get-your-perverse-acts-out-my-pocketbook

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In the US, mass child killings are tragedies. In Pakistan, mere bug splats

This is a hard truth but we have blood on our hands.  We have a President who is responsible for the murder of civilians, men, women and children.

Yet wen we have it happen to our own we cry, express shock and ask: Why?  When the answer is this.  Why not, why are we exceptional?  We worship war and death, military might and coldly delivered death.

We are murderers, who are surprised when the culture of violence we sell like the latest electronic goodie occasionally has eruptions of violence here in the USA.

No one wants to see the society as being rotten to the core.  Instead they want to look for items to blame.  One single thing that will advance their cause or fatten their cash stream while not resulting in any loss of income for them.

Weapons of death and murder are a huge portion of the American economy.  Add in all the entertainment and video game industry and you have a huge constituency that wants to maintain the status quo.  Violence is good for business.

And everyone knows, in America making money is the most important thing of all.

From the Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/17/us-killings-tragedies-pakistan-bug-splats

Barack Obama’s tears for the children of Newtown are in stark contrast to his silence over the children murdered by his drones


The Guardian, Monday 17 December 2012

“Mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts … These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.” Every parent can connect with what President Barack Obama said about the murder of 20 children in Newtown, Connecticut. There can scarcely be a person on earth with access to the media who is untouched by the grief of the people of that town.

It must follow that what applies to the children murdered there by a deranged young man also applies to the children murdered in Pakistan by a sombre American president. These children are just as important, just as real, just as deserving of the world’s concern. Yet there are no presidential speeches or presidential tears for them, no pictures on the front pages of the world’s newspapers, no interviews with grieving relatives, no minute analysis of what happened and why.

If the victims of Mr Obama’s drone strikes are mentioned by the state at all, they are discussed in terms which suggest that they are less than human. The people who operate the drones, Rolling Stone magazine reports, describe their casualties as “bug splats”, “since viewing the body through a grainy-green video image gives the sense of an insect being crushed”. Or they are reduced to vegetation: justifying the drone war, Obama’s counterterrorism adviser Bruce Riedel explained that “you’ve got to mow the lawn all the time. The minute you stop mowing, the grass is going to grow back”.

Like George Bush’s government in Iraq, Obama’s administration neither documents nor acknowledges the civilian casualties of the CIA’s drone strikes in north-west Pakistan. But a report by the law schools at Stanford and New York universities suggests that during the first three years of his time in office, the 259 strikes for which he is ultimately responsible killed between 297 and 569 civilians, of whom at least 64 were children. These are figures extracted from credible reports: there may be more which have not been fully documented.

The wider effects on the children of the region have been devastating. Many have been withdrawn from school because of fears that large gatherings of any kind are being targeted. There have been several strikes on schools since Bush launched the drone programme that Obama has expanded so enthusiastically: one of Bush’s blunders killed 69 children.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/17/us-killings-tragedies-pakistan-bug-splats

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Finishing the Work We Started

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What If All the World’s Debt Just Went Away

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/12/20-1

by Joe Brewer
Published on Thursday, December 20, 2012 by Common Dreams

Just for fun, imagine if all debt were wiped away when the Mayan Calendar ends this Friday…

How would the world be different?  What would become possible for you personally in your life?  How would nations and corporations invest our newfound wealth differently if we all started from a clean slate?  Problems like global warming and extreme poverty would instantly become financial drops in the bucket—easily tackled with fair contracts and forward-looking investments.  The structural debts of entrenched subsidies, invested capital, tax havens, and trade agreements that keep them from being addressed would simply no longer exist.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?  Well just such a fantasy used to be standard practice in the Hebrew Tradition throughout the early days of their civilization.  They held a great Jubilee every seven years to erase all debt and end economic slavery.  Accounts kept on stone tablets were broken.  Those stored on papyrus were burned to ash.  Slaves were returned to their families.  Everyone was given a fresh start.  (This tradition is being revived today through the Occupy-inspired project, Rolling Jubilee, that has already abolished more than $9,000,000 in US debt for everyday citizens.)

The Invention of Debt

What you may not know is that debt arose recently on the human stage.  Throughout more than 99% of our history we have not even had a concept for debt.  (The interested reader can pick up David Graeber’s excellent book Debt: The First 5000 Years for full story.)

Anthropological studies of hunter-gatherer societies reveal that there were no barter systems, no currencies to use for money, and — in the absence of these cultural artifacts — there was no debt.  With all the great variation cross cultures one might expect from ethnographic research, the anthropologists found that some tribal communities engaged in “gift economies” where status arises from how generous a person is who has acquired wealth, while others have remained egalitarian and non-hierarchical for thousands of years by sharing their food and materials based on the principles of “from each as they are able, to each as they need.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/12/20-1

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