Friday Night Fun and Culture: Los Lobos

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Transsexual people and the online ‘age of outrage’ – debate

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Trans role models: Janet Mock, Paris Lees, CN Lester and Luke Anderson

From The New Statesman UK:

You may not have heard of them, but popular culture has its fair share of trans people in public life braving the slurs – living examples of what trans people can achieve.

By Matthew Reuben
Published 17 January 2013

Historically, there have always been trans people, and in the past hundred and twenty years it is easy to notice them blasting their way through popular culture – from Billy Tipton, a jazz musician from the 1930s-1970s, through Calpernia Addams, a transgender author, actress and musician from the 1990s onwards, to cultural icons such as Eddie Izzard. Even now, we know about plenty of trans people making their way onto the big stage of popular culture, with the awareness that there are probably several more remaining stealth.

If you’re not involved in the trans community you might not have heard of these people, or you might not have heard of all of them, but they’re a collection of just a few of the trans people from all ages, cultures and backgrounds, who are part of the “media glitterati” – people who are living their lives in the public eye, and using their history of transition to help others. Sometimes this is done through visibility, being open about their trans status alongside their media career. Other times, activism comes into it as well – whether this is through working with television companies to improve their trans coverage (like Paris Lees), or designing the trans program at a high school for LGBT students (like Janet Mock).

Last year, for the second time, a trans person won Big Brother in the UK – this time a trans man called Luke Anderson, last time a trans woman called Nadia Almada, who won in 2004. When Luke went into the house he didn’t mention that he had transitioned to male, and over time he chose to share his history. The courage that this took him won him many friends both inside and outside the house, and when he won Big Brother, in a nationwide vote, the viewers were saying “we stand behind him, we want him to have the prize money” – a statement of support for a trans man from a significant swathe of the population.

Janet Mock, the former staff editor of People magazine’s website, came out as trans in 2011, disclosing her history in an article in Marie Claire. This set her up as an inspirational figure for a whole new generation of younger trans people. Her career had always been relatively prominent, and as a result, seeing a beautiful, accomplished woman in a position of relative power who had a history similar to theirs was a seminal moment for many younger trans women of my acquaintance. Last year, she also began the Twitter hashtag #GirlsLikeUs, designed to empower trans women of colour, a group of people living at the challenging intersection of transphobia, misogyny, and racism.

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An open (hearted) letter to Suzanne Moore

From Uncommon Sense:

By Natacha
Thursday, 17 January 2013

Dear Suzanne,

Like Paris Lees, I am a long-term admirer of you and your writing. Your articles have always been a breath of fresh air and often helped me understand that it is the world that is mad not me. So everything Paris wrote in her open letter to you, goes for me too.

Getting to the point, I would like to ask you to reconsider you tweet about suing Pinknews. Not only is there nothing you could possibly sue them for but you might help silence one of the few places where the murders of trans people around the world get reported in this country.

I have to declare an interest here; I am one of the team that organises the London International Transgender Day of Remembrance. I have volunteered to do it, despite heavy work committmemnts pulling me in other directions, because it is the only way we can bring people’s attention to the obscene numbers of trans people being murdered around the world, and especially in Latin America. The Transgender Day of Remembrance this year saw such an increase in numbers that, for the first time we had to stop lighting real candles and use battery-powered ones because the smoke pollution they were causing in the room.

We also worked hard to find Spanish and Portuguese speakers who are trans, so that we can get right the pronuncuation of the names of the dead people. Finding trans people who can speak Portuguese proved difficult even in cosmopolitan London, but we found two who soldiered bravely through the 124 names until they were both overcome with emotion. I know it doesn’t seem a difficult thing to do; read out a list of names, but I was one of the readers two years ago when there were “only”180 names altogether (there were 265 worldwide this time), I managed to get through without crying but wept almost uncontrolably afterwards. Believe it or not it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. Every name could have been me or my friends.

The reason why we keep this tradition going, and it has been going since 1998, is to keep alive the memories of our sisters and brothers who have been killed for being just like us. The world needs to know about this, we are a small and relatively powerless minority, even more so in global terms, so all we can uselfully do is bring it to people’s attention, which is what TDoR is about.

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Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore attacks PinkNews

From Pink News:

17 January 2013

Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore has launched an outspoken attack on PinkNews after it published a story about the killing of a trans woman in Brazil.

Linking to Wednesday’s story, Moore tweeted from her account @suzanne_moore

Read this piece of shit and Pink News will hear from my lawyers in the morning

I am back to sort this out and to play some music and cos I miss many good laughs and people that are here btw.”

@mjrharris no libel threats. I will just turn their balls into Tesco Value Burgers.

Thanks for support. I am trouble again already about Pink News joke – I don’t have lawyers FFS but they are c*ntards

In response, PinkNews editor Scott Roberts, who wrote the story said: “I referred to Suzanne Moore in yesterday’s article about the killing of Cecilia Marahouse because her death should be viewed in the context of the media row, which Ms Moore found herself engulfed in last week, and continues to burn at this very moment due to the remarks of some of her colleagues at the Guardian and Observer. It all stemmed from Ms Moore’s use of the word ‘Brazilian transsexual’.

“As has been stated several times, her use of the term was deemed offensive by many because of the appalling fact that so many trans people in Brazil are murdered each year. In 2012, the reported number of deaths was over 100 – and the true figure is likely to be much higher.

“At the very point of referring to Ms Moore in my article I instantly mentioned her apology – which was reported fully at the time by PinkNews last week, and welcomed by Trans Media Watch.

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Democracy Now: Exclusive: Aaron Swartz’s Partner, Expert Witness Say Prosecutors Unfairly Targeted Activist

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Are You Losing Your Edge as You Get Older?

From Huffington Post:


A decade ago I was an anarchist. I worked for Dyke TV, a guerrilla media nonprofit that produced highly politicized television “by lesbians, for lesbians.” We were loud. We were proud. We had armpit hair. We took to the streets to record real life as it unfolded, and to highlight the colorful and honest lives under the queer umbrella that no one else was paying attention to. It wasn’t that long ago, but it was a very different landscape. Ellen was still hiding in the shadows, following the blowback of a cancelled show after coming out of the closet. Logo wasn’t yet in existence, and there really wasn’t much, if any, positive LGBT representation on TV.

Dyke TV made people angry. Some days we came to work to find dog shit at our storefront entrance (in Park Slope!), and we received hate mail — yes, actual written letters — from homophobes all over the country for our “perverted programming.” One network threatened to take us off the air for a segment featuring lesbians playing badminton. OK, so the lesbians were playing badminton naked, but since when did bare bottoms harm anyone?

We also received letters from grateful lesbians from Missoula to Miami who secretly watched our show at 3 a.m. and were happy to see on TV the first lesbians they’d ever seen other than themselves. The fire to represent the underrepresented, bring equal rights to my fellow sisters and celebrate diversity was my driving force. My voice was loud, and I would not go silently into the night.

Fast-forward a couple of handfuls of years and I’ve traded in the shoestring-budget, bleeding-heart, minority-rights-centered organization for a Fortune 500 company (albeit one that has a pretty good track record on LGBT rights, thankfully). My activism has become a side dish rather than the main course. I do “my part” through volunteering at a gay youth organization, journalism and donating to related causes. I sign petitions on and share articles via Facebook and Twitter that highlight social injustices. I still am passionate about issues of equality, but I no longer work fulltime fighting for equal rights, and I haven’t attended a rally or a march.

I’ve traded in the Dyke March for Dyke Sitting on the Couch, and I now shave my armpits regularly. Have I allowed myself to lose my edge, or did it happen naturally? Have the shifting political tides and subsequent progress in favor of equality quieted activist voices, or has activism itself shifted to a different, digital presence?

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Illinois Bishop Admits Religious Exemptions On Marriage Equality Bills Are Meaningless To Opponents

From Think Progress:

By Zack Ford
on Jan 16, 2013

The hierarchy of the Catholic Church is advancing almostdaily attacks on marriage equality, particularly in states like Illinois and Rhode Island where legislation is imminent. On Monday, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of the Springfield, Illinois diocese demonstrated just how uncompromising the Church’s position is. In an interview on Catholic radio captured by Jeremy Hooper, Paprocki explained that it doesn’t matter how many religious exemptions are built into a same-sex marriage bill — the Church will still oppose it:

PAPROCKI: I don’t want to give the impression that if we get enough exemptions into the law or enough protections into the law that would protect religious freedom that we would be okay with same-sex marriage. That’s not what we’re saying here. What I’m saying is, I don’t believe that there is any provision that they could make that is going to allow for same-sex marriage to become the law without having some implication or some adverse fallout.

So just to be clear about that, we’re not saying, “well, give us enough protection here for our religious liberties and we’ll be okay with same-sex marriage”—we’re not saying that at all. The whole idea is really fundamentally flawed and is just unacceptable.

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They Are Coming for Your Birth Control: End Planned Parenthood and Start the Conversions!

From RH Reality Check:

by Robin Marty, Senior Political Reporter, RH Reality Check
January 17, 2013

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.

Remember the fifties? Ah yes, the golden age of the Cleaver family, where Father knew best and a naughty girl got shipped off for a year when she accidentally got pregnant? Well, we can go back there, or so say anti-choice advocates. The linchpin? All we have to do is defund Planned Parenthood first.

Yes, Chuck Donovan of the Charlotte Lozier Institute (the new group setting itself up as the anti-Guttmacher Institute), explains in his own special way that in today’s society, teens can get access to the morning after pill, whereas in the past “the typical ‘night before’ for America’s 14-year-olds was homework, tea, and toast, and a prayer before bedtime.”

Still, we can return to the glory days of yore, and a time where Planned Parenthood wasn’t destroying “any alternative vision of mother-and-child health.” Religious and deception crisis pregnancy centers are the key.

Pregnancy resource centers are just now entering their heyday. The number of medically oriented centers is increasing yearly, and the nation’s pregnancy networks are devoting new attention to underserved communities where abortion rates are highest. African Americans, who bear the deepest wounds of abortion in the United States, continue to take up leadership roles and to challenge established organizations like the NAACP that have accepted anti-life alliances.

As a new study by my own organization, the Lozier Institute in Washington, D.C. confirms, pro-life pregnancy centers in the United States raise substantially more private funding than Planned Parenthood clinics do. Cut off the federal-state gravy train to the nation’s largest abortion provider, and Planned Parenthood’s appeal will suddenly be revealed as remarkably limited. The health care of the future will deal with the well-being of the whole woman and the potential of the whole girl, including her relationships with family, church, and community.

Cut off funding to prevent pregnancy, increase funding for centers that “help” women and girls give birth to the babies that they didn’t want to have—and get her back to the church, too! What a fantastic plan! After all, if she didn’t want to have a baby on her own, she shouldn’t have had dirty, immoral sex that put her soul in danger in the first place. Oh, and if that sex was with her husband but for some reason they didn’t want more children well, obviously God thought otherwise and thinks an unwanted child is the perfect means to bring the couple back into the fold.

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Robert Redford: Debate on movie violence ‘overdue’

From Raw Story:

By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, January 17, 2013

Studying the impact of movies on real-life gun violence is “overdue,” veteran director Robert Redford said Thursday, suggesting a possible link between guns and box office takings.

Redford was asked about the gun debate triggered by last month’s school massacre in Newtown, Connecticut, at the start of the annual Sundance Film Festival, which he founded.

“I’m thinking back when we started Sundance, back in 1980, and I remember, (President Ronald) Reagan was shot at that same year. I remember there was talk about gun control coming up then,” he said.

“Now it’s 30 years later. I think it’s absolutely not only appropriate but overdue to have a dialogue. And the dialogue is now going on between the parties that it should be,” he said.

President Barack Obama launched an urgent review of how to curb gun violence — including the impact of movies, video games and other media — following the Newtown massacre, which killed 26 people including 20 young children.

Vice President Joe Biden met movie industry leaders as part of consultations on a package of proposals, unveiled this week, that include reviving an assault weapons ban and universal background checks for gun buyers.

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Congresswoman introduces “Aaron’s Law” to honor Swartz

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Customer Beware: You Are Being Tracked

From Alternet:

From CCTV cameras to RFID wristbands, retailers are monitoring everything you do.

By David Rosen
January 12, 2013

 Are you planning to visit Disneyland anytime soon? If so, watch out when you are offered its latest marketing innovation, the MagicBand. When it’s introduced later this year, this oh-so-cuddly wristband will be embedded with a radio frequency identification (RFID) microchip and be part of a system dubbed MyMagic+.  It will enable the company to monitor, track and analyze your every activity.

A recent  New York Times exposé reveals how the giant entertainment conglomerate plans to employ some of the latest spy technologies to “customize” its operations. According to the  Times, “Did you buy a balloon? What attractions did you ride and when? Did you shake Goofy’s hand, but snub Snow White? If you fully use MyMagic+, databases will be watching, allowing Disney to refine its offerings and customize its marketing messages.” Sound innocent?

Disney’s plan to implement customer tracking is just the latest revelation about an expanding program of personal surveillance enveloping ever-greater aspects of personal life, online and in the physical world.

Sadly, most Americans do not know the true scope of the tracking and surveillance now taking place. Four simple questions need to be addressed: 1) What is happening to all the personal data being captured? 2) How long is it being retained? 3) To what extent is it being sold to third-party commercial vendors? 4) Is your “private,” personal data being provided to government law enforcement authorities?

Next time you’re walking around a department store, keep in mind that you are being monitored and analyzed in two complementary ways. First, your in-store movements are being electronically tracked, recorded and analyzed; second, your data history is being captured, updated, sold, integrated with other database information and analyzed. The two dimensions of your 21st-century public “self,” your physical behavior and your digital communications, are now subject to nearly instantaneous and ceaseless monitoring.

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Corporate Profits Have Grown By 171 Percent Under ‘Anti-Business’ Obama

From Think Progress:

By Pat Garofalo
on Jan 17, 2013

Business executives like to portray the Obama administration as the “most anti-business” in history, creating an “increasingly hostile environment for investment and job creation.” However, the data tells a far different story. According to a Bloomberg News analysis, corporate profits have grown by 171 percent under Obama, the most in the post-war era:

U.S. corporations’ after-tax profits have grown by 171 percent under Obama, more than under any president since World War II, and are now at their highest level relative to the size of the economy since the government began keeping records in 1947, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Profits are more than twice as high as their peak during President Ronald Reagan’s administration and more than 50 percent greater than during the late-1990s Internet boom, measured by the size of the economy.

Average annual corporate profit growth under Obama is the highest since 1900, whereas profit growth declined during both Bush presidencies. As a share of the economy, corporate profits have never been higher.

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Could we save humanity by ending factory farming?

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We’re Energy Workers and We Oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline

From Common Dreams:

Labor leader calls for renewable push, says we can have good jobs and a safer world, too

Published on Thursday, January 17, 2013 by Common Dreams

The following speech was delivered to a City University of New York forum called “Confronting the Climate Crisis: Can Labor Help Shape an Effective Strategy?” on Thursday, January 17th:

The obvious answer to the question is yes and the voice of energy workers is a particularly important one to hear while talking about labour’s role in reducing green-house gas emissions. As Canada’s largest energy union, the CEP represents 35,000 members employed in oil and gas extraction, transportation, refining, and conversion in the petrochemical and plastics sectors.

CEP believes that it is necessary to transition away from fossil fuels by reducing consumption and investing in green energies while ensuring a just transition for energy workers and their communities.

My union believes we need to pause further development of Alberta’s bitumen sands. Additionally, the bevy of export pipelines being proposed need to be put on hold until we develop a national consensus around a sustainable energy strategy.

We oppose the proposed Keystone XL pipeline and call on President Obama to reject the project. Climate pollution from the bitumen sands industry is already considerable and will only get worse by approving Keystone XL. The Canadian government’s aggressive lobbying in the US in favor of the pipeline is an embarrassment.

I have been arrested in the fight against Keystone XL because our union understands that this pipeline is bad for both the environment and Canadian workers. The pipeline will take potential upgrading and refining jobs away from Canadians and put our country’s energy security at risk.

Fighting for economic equality and climate justice are at the base of our everyday work. The CEP understands that the same government that wants to extract as much oil (should I say profits) as quickly as possible from Alberta’s bitumen sands has repeatedly legislated workers back to work and attacked unions’ political independence.

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Burning Fuel Particles Do More Damage to Climate Than Thought, Study Says

From The New York Times:

Published: January 15, 2013

The tiny black particles released into the atmosphere by burning fuels are far more powerful agents of global warming than had previously been estimated, some of the world’s most prominent atmospheric scientists reported in a study issued on Tuesday.

These particles, which are known as black carbon and are the major component of soot, are the second most important contributor to global warming, behind only carbon dioxide, wrote the 31 authors of the study, published online by The Journal of Geophysical Research-Atmospheres.

The new estimate of black carbon’s heat-trapping power is about double the one made in the last major report by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in 2007. And the researchers said that if indirect warming effects of the particles are factored in, they may be trapping heat at almost three times the previously estimated rate.

The new calculation adds urgency to efforts to curb the production of black carbon, which is released primarily by diesel engines in the industrialized world and by primitive cook stoves and kerosene lamps in poorer nations. Natural phenomena like forest fires also produce it.

Black carbon is already a central target of one of the few international climate initiatives championed by the United States, the Climate and Clean Air Coalition to Reduce Short-Lived Climate Pollutants, which has been supported by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. The program seeks to reduce the production of black carbon to combat both climate change and air pollution and respiratory disease on the ground.

Although some scientists have long believed that black carbon is a major force in climate change, the vast majority of previous mathematical models had predicted that the particles had only a modest impact. That view should now change, said Mark Z. Jacobson, an atmospheric scientist at Stanford University and one of the study’s authors, calling the old models “overly simplistic.” He said that many of his co-authors had previously hewed to the lower estimates.

Veerabhadran Ramanathan, a professor of climate science at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego who has long campaigned to control black carbon, described the study as highly authoritative. “The fact that it’s written by a very large group of modelers gives it enormous credibility,” he said. “It was lonely before. I’m now glad to be right in the middle.”

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