Suzanne Moore and the Resulting Conflict Between Julie Burchill and the Trans-Communities in the UK

I regularly read the Guardian UK, indeed I regularly use the Guardian as a source for many of the articles I think people should read.

I also am on Stephanie Stevens: Yahoo mailing list: Transgender News and get many of the stories I pass on through her service.

I’ve been following this story over the last week, just knowing it would probably escalate.

The original piece with the offensive line, which I tended to see as one of those attempts at humor by cis-privileged people who think they are being funny was on:  New Statesman:  Seeing red: the power of female anger

For the record the line is:  We are angry with ourselves for not being happier, not being loved properly and not having the ideal body shape – that of a Brazilian transsexual.

Isolated from the context of the over all piece it comes off more offensive or thoughtless than it does within the context of the entire piece.

Suzanne Moore wrote a piece in The Guardian on Wednesday 9 January 2013 that was an attempt to apologize.  See: I don’t care if you were born a woman or became one: Sexuality used to be the big battle. Now we need to unite in anger against the breakdown of the social contract

Paris Lees has an open letter to Suzanne Moore in Diva Magazine: An open letter to Suzanne Moore:
Paris Lees responds to the furore surrounding an article in the New Statesman in which Moore quipped women are expected to look like Brazilian trans women

This led to Julie Burchill weighing in in an article in the Observer/Guardian:  Transsexuals should cut it out

I recognize the name, Julie Burchill.  I remembered her as a journalist back in the days of punk rock and NME (New Music Express circa early 1980s).  She wrote a book about the rise and fall of the Sex Pistols.  So I went on Amazon to see what she had written lately.  I discovered that for two cents plus the Amazon used book shipping charge of $3.98 I could get one of her recent books:  Not in My Name.

Here is what the Amazon review had to say about this book:  It is a great and glorious tradition the world over – to vehemently state one thing and then do the exact opposite. Royals are doing it, reformed smokers are doing it, and politicians are virtually synonymous with it. Welcome to the heyday of hypocrisy. From the Everyday Hypocrites (cyclists, white hip-hop fans, reality television-haters) to the truly pungent Stinking Hypocrites (chav-haters, green campaigners and anti-Americans), Julie Burchill and Chas Newkey-Burden pull no punches in their witty harangue of those who shamelessly say one thing and do another. This book features the modern hypocrite’s favourite holiday destinations, sporting heroes and the hilarious Hypocrites’ Ultimate Weekend.

And a reviewer: “Julie Burchill is an independent journalist in every sense. Her iconoclastic op-ed pieces have over the years succeeded in offending people from across the political spectrum. A lifelong and unrepentant Communist, her political positions are nevertheless somewhat eclectic, and as time as gone by it has become more and more difficult to spot anything conventionally left-wing about her output.”

So I get the feeling Julie Burchill has found that making hateful digs at oppressed minority groups get her attention and sells books and writing.  I guess it beat the dole.

Jane Fae has a blog piece in response to Burchill at:  This is personal and a piece at The Independent:  Burchill’s attack follows the same pattern – trans stories are only of interest if we star as villains

Roz Kaveney has her response at the Guardian UK:  Julie Burchill has ended up bullying the trans community

While I’m not a big fan of TS/TG people getting down and dirty fighting with feminists, particularly over something that started out as a pretty minor issue, I am really please to see we no longer let these folks get away with beating up on us.

Transgender Health Coverage: California & Oregon Direct Insurance

From The Huffington Post:


SALEM, Ore. — Regulators in Oregon and California have quietly directed some health insurance companies to stop denying coverage for transgender patients because of their gender identity.

The states aren’t requiring coverage of specific medical treatments. But they told some private insurance companies they must pay for a transgender person’s hormone therapy, breast reduction, cancer screening or any other procedure deemed medically necessary if they cover it for patients who aren’t transgender.

The changes apply to companies insuring about a third of Oregonians and about 7 percent of Californians, but not to people on Medicare and Medicaid or to the majority of Californians who are insured through a health management organization, or HMO.

Advocacy groups said the action is a major step forward in their long battle to win better health care coverage for transgender Americans.

“It’s just a matter of fairness,” said Ray Crider, a 28-year-old transgender man from Portland. “I just never felt that I was like anybody else. I see everybody else being taken care of without having to fight the system.”

Officials in both states said the new regulations aren’t new policies but merely a clarification of anti-discrimination laws passed in California in 2005 and in Oregon two years later.

Many health insurance policies broadly exclude coverage of gender identity disorder or classify it as a pre-existing condition. Transgender patients are often denied coverage for medical procedures unrelated to a gender transition, advocacy groups said, because insurance companies deem the condition to be related to their sex reassignment.

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‘The Afghan People Are Fed Up’: An Interview with Malalai Joya

From Common Dreams:


Malalai Joya, 34, first gained international attention in 2003 when she spoke out publicly against the domination of warlords. She was at that time serving as an elected delegate to the Loya Jirga that was convened to ratify the Constitution of Afghanistan; in 2005 she became one of 68 women elected to the 249-seat National Assembly, or Wolesi Jirga, and was the youngest member of the Afghan parliament.

In 2007 she again spoke out against former warlords and war criminals in the Afghan parliament and was thereupon suspended from the parliament. Since then she has survived many assassination attempts. She travels in Afghanistan with armed guards and has worked tirelessly on behalf of Afghan women and to end the occupation of her country.

She has received broad international recognition. In 2010, Time Magazine placed Malalai Joya on their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, and Foreign Policy Magazine in listed her in its annual list of the Top 100 Global Thinkers.  In March, 2011, The Guardian listed her among “Top 100 women: activists and campaigners.” Her most recent book is “Raising My Voice.”

I first met Malalai in 2007 in Berlin, after she was invited to speak in the German Parliament (see, and we’ve met again during some of her further visits to Europe. This interview is based on our conversation during her most recent visit to Berlin and subsequent email correspondence between us.

The above text and following interview is by Elsa Rassbach, a US journalist and filmmaker based in Berlin, Germany.


RASSBACH:  Last month in Paris representatives of the Taliban for the first time met with their former enemies of the Northern Alliance, the collection of militias that fought them in the 1990s and eventually helped the U.S. to oust the Taliban regime.  Now President Obama has invited Afghan President Hamid Karzai to meet with him in Washington on January 11th.

What do you make of this?

JOYA: To make the current puppet regime in Kabul more powerful, the U.S. and NATO have been trying to bring together three groups that emerged during three criminal periods of war in Afghanistan: the warlords, the Taliban, and some of those who served the hated Russian occupation. 

Both the Taliban and the Northern Alliance warlords are long-time allies of the West. These groups are criminal, dark-minded, and reactionary to the core. In their lust for power, they are ready to sacrifice national interests of Afghanistan to any foreign power.

The Taliban and the Northern Alliance warlords are responsible for much of the suffering of the Afghan people.  They are like a wolf and a vulture and can never be regarded part of a “solution” to Afghanistan’s tragedy. Our people want them prosecuted as traitors and war criminals. But the West wants to “unite” them and impose them on our nation. Joining this dirty mafia regime are some of the ex-Russian puppets, the Khalq and the Parcham, who tortured and killed countless innocent democratic-minded people. Such “unity” may serve the U.S./NATO interests in Afghanistan, but will lead to another reign of terror and brutalities upon our poor people.

As history shows, the U.S. has relied on criminals, dictators, human rights violators, and reactionary forces in many other countries of the world. Recently in Libya the U.S. and NATO supported fundamentalists who are worse than Qaddafi; in Syria they are supporting Al-Qaeda and other such dirty groups. So it is not surprising that they are once again working with the Taliban and with Hekmatyar and other criminals in my country.

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How Our Universities Have Been Turned into Corporate Marketing Centers

From Alternet:

Universities that once prided themselves as being centers of free thinking are increasingly dominated by corporate-think, turning their institutions into sales centers.

By Jim Hightower
January 11, 2013

The “ivory tower” of academia has become overshadowed by a new edifice on campus that is reaching ridiculous heights: the tower of mammon.

As public universities have been driven by budget-whacking lawmakers to seek ever-more private funding, schools that once prided themselves as being centers of free thinking are increasingly dominated by corporate-think, turning their institutions into sales centers.
“A lot of schools are taking a much more corporate approach,” exulted a PRexecutive who works with top university administrators, marveling that “a CMO didn’t even exist on most campuses 10 years ago.”
A what? A chief marketing officer, whose job is to peddle the place like it’s a new model of car or line of cosmetics. As explained by the CMO of the University of California system, “the changing funding landscape” requires universities to sell themselves to moneyed elites, which means academic institutions must rework what he calls “their visual identities.” In the snappy new parlance of university commercialism, this is “rebranding” — an attempt to modernize the image of venerable institutions by adopting corporate-styled logos, slogans and other marketing fluff.
Forget intellectual pursuits, we’re talking about pursuing buyers, in the brave new academic marketplace. This results in colleges resorting to the same kind of ridiculous come-ons that hawkers of consumer products often barf-up.
Iowa’s Drake University, for example, rebranded itself a couple of years ago with the slogan “Drake-plus.” That was intended to sell students and donors alike on the clever equation that Drake-plus-you would equal remarkable results — even excellence. This could have been just another bit of inane but innocuous PR puffery — except that the school’s marketing geniuses chose to reach for graphic artistry. Rather than going with the boring literalism of “Drake-plus,” they rebranded with a more hip, abstract design, substituting the letter “D” to refer to Drake and punctuating it with the plus sign.
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Paul Krugman: GOP Debt Ceiling Strategy Is ‘Hostage Taking’

From Huffington Post:

By 01/13/2013

Paul Krugman on Sunday accused the Republican leadership of holding the country hostage.

The Nobel-Prize winning economist and New York Times columnist argued that congressional Republicans are “threatening to blow up the world economy” if they don’t get their way in the debt-ceiling debate. After a difficult fiscal cliff battle, President Barack Obama said he would not negotiate over the debt ceiling, but Republicans have said they won’t authorize an increase in the country’s spending limit without major spending cuts.

“We should not allow this to become thought of as a legitimate or normal budget strategy,” Krugman said on ABC’s “This Week.” “This is hostage taking.”

Krugman has made similar statements in the past, particularly when defending the idea of minting a trillion-dollar platinum coin to avoid the debt ceiling crisis — a loophole the White House ruled out Saturday. In a blog post earlier this month, Krugman argued that Obama should be ready to mint the coin because it offered a “silly, but benign” solution to the crisis. The alternative: Putting the nation’s ability to meet its financial obligations at risk, an option that Krugman described as “both vile and disastrous.”

“The debt ceiling is a fundamentally stupid but dangerous thing,” Krugman said on “This Week.” “It’s incredibly scary, this is much scarier than the fiscal cliff,” he added later.

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WalMart Empire Clashes with China

From The Progressive:

By Michelle Chen
January 8, 2013

Typically when we hear “WalMart” and “China” in the same sentence, we picture the “made in” labels on our toys, gadgets, and the other mass-produced stuff that we grab off the shelves at low, low prices. But WalMart’s vast retail empire has a whole other wing in the Middle Kingdom. As the brand has expanded aggressively into the coveted China market, it has engendered a new wave of Chinese shoppers–and legions of workers to serve them. The rise of a Westernized consumer culture has also generated familiar tensions around labor, inequality and workplace rights.

Just in time, too: As demonstrations have mushroomed at WalMart stores and warehouses nationwide, a disgruntled WalMart employee has led a small uprising in the coastal boomtown of Shenzhen. His agitating and organizing work has been bolstered by a partnership with SACOM, a Hong Kong-based labor rights organization that has previously taken on the notorious Apple manufacturer Foxconn.

The conflict began last summer when Wang Shishu, a 52-year-old WalMart store employee and outspoken labor activist, helped lead a campaign against plans to cut pay and slash benefits. When a small strike involving about forty workers broke out, the management cracked down. According to SACOM’s petition:

— On July 5, 2012, because of dissatisfaction with the pay rise scheme, which would cancel the housing subsidy and the bonus, more than 40 WalMart workers in Shenzhen went on strike at the Shenzhen Distribution Center. Four worker representatives were administratively detained and subsequently dismissed by WalMart.

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Another Stumble in the Quest for Arctic Oil

From Huffington Post:


On New Year’s Eve, a 266-foot oil drilling rig owned by the Shell Oil Company that had been adrift for days, ran aground off of Kodiak, Alaska. In response, this week, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced a review of the 2012 Arctic Ocean drilling season. Let’s hope this assessment is more than just a paper exercise. The Department of the Interior allowed Shell to begin its drilling season in the Arctic last year in the first place — a season that was plagued with problems from the start. The administration must look very carefully in the mirror to figure out what went wrong that resulted in it allowing a demonstrably unprepared company to venture into one of the most remote, inhospitable places on earth in search of oil, and it must make sure that it doesn’t happen again.

In case you missed it, just after Christmas Shell’s oil drilling rig, the Kulluk, came loose from its tow ship, the Aiviq, in 24-foot waves in the Gulf of Alaska. First, the tow rope connecting the rig to the Aiviq split, leaving the massive drill rig to toss helplessly in the waves, carrying 140,000 gallons of diesel fuel. Then the Aiviq’s engines failed leaving it adrift as well, requiring a dramatic rescue by the Coast Guard in 35-foot waves the next day. Four days of drama on the high-seas put people’s lives at risk. It included Coast Guard rescue of the Kulluk crew and at-sea delivery of boat parts, as well as damage to vessels assisting in the response. Eventually, the wind and waves were too much for the response effort, and rig ran aground in shallow water — water that is also home to endangered Steller sea lions, threatened Steller’s eiders, threatened southwest sea otters, and salmon.

After a week on the rocks, the rig was pulled from the shore and taken to Kiliuda Bay — a place of refuge for wildlife and now Shell’s oil drilling rig as it undergoes a damage assessment.

Thankfully no one died, and it appears that a major ecological disaster was averted.

Shell’s decision to tow its drill rig from Dutch Harbor, Alaska to Seattle for repairs in the middle of the winter was bewildering. It’s a time when storms are frequent and waves of the sort encountered by the Kulluk are common, and it wasn’t long before the rig and the ship towing it, the Aiviq, ran into potentially life-threatening danger.

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Zero Waste: Including Grassroots Recyclers in Buenos Aires, Argentina

From Truth Out:

By Maeva Morin and Cecilia Allen
Sunday, 13 January 2013

“Environmental Possibilities: Zero Waste” features new ways of thinking, acting, and shaping government policy that are circling the globe. Each week, we highlight a success story in the zero waste movement, excerpted from the report On the Road to Zero Waste: Successes and Lessons from Around the World by the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives (GAIA). GAIA is a powerful worldwide alliance of more than 650 grassroots groups, non-governmental organizations, and individuals in over 90 countries. Their collective goal is a just, toxic-free world without incineration. Other Worlds is excited to promote the work of GAIA and the organized communities it works with, and hopes that the stories inspire you and others to begin moving your home, town or city, nation, and planet toward zero waste.

The story of waste management in Buenos Aires illustrates how cartoneros, or grassroots recyclers, have won legal and financial support from the city government. As recently as 2001, waste picking was illegal. Since then, cartonero cooperatives have organized themselves, educated residents on the environmental benefits of recycling, and lobbied the city government for a cleaner approach to waste management with allied environmental and social organizations. The result: an about-face in the city’s approach to waste, including separating at source and giving waste pickers exclusive access to the city’s recyclables.

The Implementation of a Legal Framework

Traditionally, the city of Buenos Aires relied on landfilling to deal with its waste, and cartoneros operated without public recognition or legal sanction. In 2001, Argentina’s serious socioeconomic crisis led to a dramatic increase in unemployment, and many people in the city resorted to collecting and selling recyclable materials from the streets in order to survive. In fact, it is estimated that 100,000 cartoneros were working in the metropolitan region of Buenos Aires in 2001.

In 2002, zero waste legislation created the Urban Recyclers Program and annulled the decree that had banned waste picking in the city. Further objectives included prioritizing separation of waste and setting targets for reducing waste taken to landfills.

However, in practice the law was barely implemented. Consequently, between 2005 and 2011, new resolutions were passed that required each collection company to design and construct a resource recovery facility, or “Green Center,” in the area it serviced, as well as provide the equipment, machines, and other elements necessary for it to operate. The activities of sorting, baling, and storing of materials for sale were to be managed by the cooperative of waste pickers assigned to each Green Center.

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US scientists in fresh alert over effects of global warming

From The Guardian UK:

US National Climate Assessment reveals that severe weather disruption is going to be commonplace in coming years

, science editor, Saturday 12 January 2013

Global warming is already having a major impact on life in America, a report by US government scientists has warned. The draft version of the US National Climate Assessment reveals that increasing storm surges, floods, melting glaciers and permafrost, and intensifying droughts are having a profound effect on the lives of Americans.

“Corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington state and maple syrup producers have observed changes in their local climate that are outside of their experience,” states the report.

Health services, water supplies, farming and transport are already being strained, the assessment adds. Months after superstorm Sandy battered the east coast, causing billions of dollars of damage, the report concludes that severe weather disruption is going to be commonplace in coming years. Nor do the authors flinch from naming the culprit. “Global warming is due primarily to human activities, predominantly the burning of fossil fuels,” it states.

The uncompromising language of the report, and the stark picture that its authors have painted of the likely effects of global warming, have profound implications for the rest of the world.

If the world’s greatest economy is already feeling the strain of global warming, and is fearful of its future impact, then other nations face a very worrying future as temperatures continue to rise as more and more greenhouse gases are pumped into the atmosphere.

“The report makes for sobering reading,” said Professor Chris Rapley, of University College London. “Most people in the UK and US accept human-induced climate change is happening but respond by focusing attention elsewhere. We dismiss the effects of climate change as ‘not here’, ‘not now’, ‘not me’ and ‘not clear’.

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