Friday Night Fun and Culture Mardi Gras Edition Laissez les bons temps rouler

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Friday Night Fun and Culture Mardi Gras Edition Laissez les bons temps rouler

Diane Rodriguez could become South America’s first trans legislator

From Gay Star News:

If elected, the 30 year-old LGBT rights activist and psychology student could become the first transgender individual in Ecuador’s Congress, and South America’s first trans lawmaker

By Jean Paul Zapata
07 February 2013

Ecuador could receive its first transgender lawmaker this month.

Diane Rodriguez, a psychology student and trans rights activist in her home town of Guayaquil, is vying for a Congressional seat in the leftist Ruptura 25 party during the presidential and parliamentary elections held on 17 February (Sunday).

If elected, it is believed Rodriguez would be the first transgender individual to hold public office in Ecuador, where 85% of the population identifies as Catholic. It is thought she would also be the first openly transgender lawmaker in South America.

Valentina Verbal, a transgender candidate in Chile’s upcoming November elections, could also potentially be South America’s first transgender legislator if Rodriguez is not elected.

‘My focus will be on all minorities, vulnerable ethnic groups and feminist causes,’ Rodriguez said in an interview with AFP.

She added that she would also push for the legalization of same-sex marriage in Ecuador – an issue President Rafael Correa has spoken out against. Currently there is one openly lesbian minister in his cabinet.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Diane Rodriguez could become South America’s first trans legislator

An Extravagant, Practical & Revolutionary Thing

From Huffington Post:


I didn’t own a suit until I was 25. In fact, I’d never even tried one on until I had one custom-made for my body. I knew immediately that it was the most extravagant thing I’d ever done for myself, and later I realized it was also the most practical and revolutionary thing I’d ever done for myself. It was extravagant because bespoke menswear from a tailor in Manhattan’s east ’50s needless to say comes at a cost (the kind of cost one puts on a credit card); practical because no off-the-rack suit will ever fit my (petite, queer, transmasculine) body; and revolutionary because not only did this suit revolutionize my relationship with formal menswear (which I anticipated), it revolutionized my relationship with myself.

I wore my suit for the first time on New Year’s Eve in 2010. I felt like the most self-possessed, at-ease, handsome version of myself that had ever existed, which was well-timed because it was also the first New Year’s Eve my girlfriend and I had spent together. I told her that I loved her on New Year’s Day, and while I’m not crediting worsted wool or a talented tailor for empowering me to express that sentiment, I will say that feeling like the most self-possessed, at ease, handsome version of myself didn’t hurt.

I used to feel a very specific feeling of dread whenever I was invited to formal occasions. That feeling of dread was replaced by new feelings. Feelings like I-can’t-wait-for-someone-to-get-married!, which despite being a romantic I’ll admit was completely unprecedented. And despite my reputation for being a bad-but-joyful dancer, I never danced at a wedding (unless I was awkwardly coerced to do so) until I owned this suit. If this sounds like an ode to my first suit, it’s because it is one.

After feeling all the feelings I’ve described above for approximately a year and a half, I stumbled upon some photographs of drag king Murray Hill in campy, perfectly tailored suits and found out Bindle & Keep, a bespoke menswear company based here in New York City had made them. I contacted Daniel Friedman, the owner, telling him that I wished to apprentice with him, and were I ever to have my own clients, I wanted them to be from my community. I wanted to play a role in transforming that feeling of dread into something healthy. Healthy and handsome. Last summer I started a tumblr. called The Handsome Butch and wrote the words “you have the right to be handsome” as a reminder to folks navigating the masculine landscape who don’t feel welcome there. That was what I’d call Handsome Butch preaching, and now that I’m working as a queer clothier, I believe I’m practicing.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on An Extravagant, Practical & Revolutionary Thing

Vatican Calls Same-Sex Marriage ‘Sick Egalitarianism’

From The New Civil Rights Movement:

by David Badash
on February 7, 2013

In a strange claim of support for the LGBT community, a top Vatican official called same-sex marriage “a sick egalitarianism,” while stating gay people should “have the same dignity as all of God’s children.”

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, also referred to different types of “cohabitation forms that do not constitute a family,” presumably, families headed by same-sex couples.

“Paglia suggested that nations could find ‘private law solutions’ to help individuals who live in non-matrimonial relations, ‘to prevent injustice and make their life easier,’” The Huffington Post reported:

Nevertheless, Paglia was adamant in reaffirming society’s duty to preserve the unique value of marriage.

“The church must defend the truth, and the truth is that a marriage is only between a man and a woman,” he said. Other kinds of “affections” cannot be the foundation for a “public structure” such as marriage.

“We cannot surrender to a sick egalitarianism that abolishes every difference,” he warned, and run the risk of society becoming a new “Babel.”

Complete article at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Vatican Calls Same-Sex Marriage ‘Sick Egalitarianism’

Drones…the ultimate stalkers

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Drones…the ultimate stalkers

The death rattle of American democracy

From The World Socialist Web Site:

Joseph Kishore
7 February 2013

The Obama administration’s recently-leaked “white paper” on the assassination of US citizens, and the actions carried out on the basis of the arguments it advances, must be taken as a dire warning to the working class in the United States and around the world. The democratic rights of the people are in grave peril. The American ruling class, steeped in lawlessness and violence, is moving toward dictatorship.

The administration’s frontal assault on democratic rights and constitutional protections—asserting the “right” of the president to unilaterally and secretly order the state murder of American citizens—is undeniably grounds for impeachment. The crimes of Richard Nixon, who nearly 40 years ago resigned the presidency rather than face impeachment and removal from office, pale in comparison to Obama’s assertion of unconstrained executive powers.

The pseudo-legal arguments of the Justice Department memo, recalling the Bush administration’s infamous torture memoranda, boil down to the following:

The president and the military-intelligence apparatus, based solely on their own internal deliberations, have the power to assassinate any US citizen who they decide is a leading member of Al Qaeda or its “associated forces.” This power has no geographic boundaries. Nor can it be limited by any form of congressional or judicial oversight. The White House and its military/intelligence advisers are judge, jury and executioner.

The entire document is an exercise in doubletalk and sophistry. While it asserts, for example, that those selected for elimination have to pose an “imminent threat of violent attack,” it proceeds to define “imminent” to mean its opposite. The government needs no proof that any specific action is planned or that something is to take place in the immediate future.

In the end, nothing remains of core democratic rights. The principle of due process—with roots going back to the 13th Century and enshrined in the Fifth Amendment to the US Constitution’s assertion that no individual can be “deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”—is dispensed with.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on The death rattle of American democracy

Can the Government Collect Your DNA Without a Warrant? SCOTUS Will Decide.

From Alternet:

The Supreme Court will review a decision that says officials can’t collect warrantless DNA samples from arrestees pre-conviction.

By Steven Hsieh
February 7, 2013

Later this month, the Supreme Court will review a case determining whether government officials have the right to take warrantless DNA samples from people they arrest pre-conviction. In the weeks leading up to the hearing, parties on both sides of the case have made arguments weighing the importance the of law enforcement power with Americans’ privacy rights.

In a filing, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) argued that collecting and retaining DNA samples from arrestees “constitutes an unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment because it poses unnecessary and ongoing risks to privacy without serving any legitimate government interest.

The Obama administration disagrees with that assessment. It filed a statement arguing that mandatory DNA swabbing, and the information obtained from DNA profiles represents a “minimal incursion on an arrestee’s privacy interests,” downplaying the swaths of personal information the government gathers when it takes DNA samples. The administration is appealing to a previous prosecutor’s argument that DNA swabbing is no more intrusive than routine fingerprinting.

But EPIC notes the extraordinary amount of personal information the government gets from collecting an arrestee’s saliva. The filing cites a Human Genome Project report that says that, whereas fingerprints merely reveal an individual’s identity, DNA samples “can provide insights into a person’s family, susceptibility to particular diseases, legitimacy of birth, and perhaps predispositions to certain behaviors and sexual orientation.”

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Can the Government Collect Your DNA Without a Warrant? SCOTUS Will Decide.

Time for Democrats to Pay Their Dues

From In These Times

For too long organized labor has failed to ask the Dems, ‘Which side are you on?’

BY James Thindwa
February 6, 2013

The swift passage of Michigan’s so-called right-to-work legislation in December cemented a stark reality for labor: U.S. workers have been left without a national political party to champion their interests. Many local Democratic leaders—and a few members of Congress—still join the struggle for union rights, but aside from union-friendly rhetoric deployed around election time, the national party is disengaged.

The fact is, the success of the American labor movement has always depended upon a welcoming policy environment facilitated by an allied political party. While many forces are contributing to labor’s decline, we can no longer ignore a central one: The once-reliable Democratic Party has abandoned the cause. However, the party remains heavily dependent on labor for financial and organizational infrastructure. The Center for Responsive Politics reports that unions spent $1.1 billion between 2005 and 2011 supporting federal candidates for office. In 2008 alone, according to the New York Times, labor laid out $450 million to elect Barack Obama. If the state-by-state GOP war against unions is aimed at a primary source of electoral support for its opponent, why hasn’t that galvanized Democrats?

Indeed, Democrats have had ample opportunities to uphold workers’ rights. Unprecedented income inequality; attacks on labor in Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan; and a low-wage business model that saps the wealth of workers and communities provide a natural pivot for Democrats to push a pro-labor agenda. But there have been no takers, in Congress or the White House.

Congressional Democrats have failed to revive the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) to liberate the 60 million workers who want to join unions. And not one Democrat in Congress sponsored a resolution repudiating the GOP’s attack on unions in Wisconsin and Michigan.

As the Democratic Party distances itself from labor, it increasingly has embraced a corporate agenda. Witness the bipartisan attack on teacher unions, labor–crippling privatization schemes, opposition to living-wage laws, and the cycle of impunity for those who commit financial crimes. It is no wonder that corporate power is ascendant, while the labor movement continues its unmitigated downward spiral.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Time for Democrats to Pay Their Dues

Fuck You if You Don’t Tip Your Server

From Jezebel:

Laura Beck
Feb 6, 2013

I spent most of my college life waiting tables. The heftiest chunk of that time was at the Chevy’s in Times Square, where I spent weekends and evenings singing their bastardized version of “Happy Birthday” to the legions of yahoos who lied about it being their birthdays so they could get a free cartoon sombrero. I worked double shifts for measly ducats and endured name-calling, inappropriate touching, and serving entire off-off-Broadway casts who enjoyed dining on only free chips and salsa and paying in terrible renditions of Les Mis songs. I Dreamed a Dream, and that shit did not involve bringing you 50 baskets of chips in return for $5.

Honestly, waitressing wasn’t all bad. I’m outgoing, enjoy making new friends, and love stealing fresh tortillas from el machino. In general, pouring giant pitchers of muy autentico bright orange mango margaritas to wannabe boy bands and tourists could be a good time. Sure, I suffered physically; if you’re running around for twelve hours straight, your back and legs will pay the price. I could easily laugh off the losers who beckoned me to their table with, “Hey, red!” — they were the sad idiots eating at the Chevy’s in Times Square, and I was laughing all the way to the bank.

However, let me be clear: the laughing to the bank part is key.

As Chelsea Welch, the waitress who was fired from Applebee’s last week after posting a picture of a receipt, on which an idiot customer wrote “I give God 10%. Why do you get 18?” as her “tip,” has spoken out in a new post for the Guardian:

Continue reading at:

See also the Guardian UK: Chelsea Welch:

See Truth Out:  Tip Your Server and Save the World

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Fuck You if You Don’t Tip Your Server

Bad Economy Is New Normal, More Americans Say

From Huffington Post:


More Americans believe today than they did two years ago that their country will never fully recover from the Great Recession.

Fifty-six percent of Americans surveyed by the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University in August 2010 said they believed the Great Recession would permanently change the economy. In a January follow-up survey, 60 percent of respondents agreed with that sentiment.

“Five years of economic misery have profoundly diminished Americans’ confidence in the economy and their outlook for the next generation,” Rutgers professor and survey co-author Carl Van Horn said in a statement.

Most survey respondents — 73 percent — had either lost their jobs or knew somebody who had. More than half said they have less money than they did before the recession, and 61 percent believe they will never fully recover.

Less than a third of workers think the economy will be better next year, and the same percentage thinks the economy will be worse. The rest think it will be the same. That finding isn’t far off from the expectations of economists: The Congressional Budget Office said in a statement on Tuesday that unemployment will likely remain above 7.5 percent through next year. It’s 7.9 percent right now.

Of workers who’ve found new jobs after being unemployed, 54 percent said they were making less money — a finding that echoes data from the government’s annual survey of displaced workers.

Less than a third of employed survey respondents said they blamed the unemployed for not having jobs. The survey’s authors suggested that’s probably because a vast majority of respondents had either experienced unemployment themselves or knew someone who had.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Bad Economy Is New Normal, More Americans Say

A New Era: From Occupation to Workers’ Control

From Shareable:


This week, Strike Debt tweeted out triumphantly: “It’s a new era. First machine fired up at worker owned factory. #NewEraWindowsandDoors”. For those of us who’ve been following news about the Chicago factory formerly known as Republic Windows and Doors, this was the culmination of years of struggle. It’s an exciting moment, and a victory which hopefully can inspire other factories across the country.

Though the factory had been making windows and doors since 1965, our story starts in 2008 with the financial crisis and the actions of Bank of America. Despite having received billions in tax dollars, Bank of America (and other major banks) spent much of 2008 cutting off struggling small businesses or businesses with low returns—not because they couldn’t afford to lend to them, but to improve their balance sheets. Republic Windows and Doors lost their credit line in late 2008 (just a few days after BOA received $25 billion in bailout money) and summarily fired their 250 workers in three days, without either the 60 days notice or the 60 days severance required by the WARN act.

A common story, perhaps, but at Republic Windows and Doors the workers didn’t acquiesce. Instead, in December of 2008, they occupied the factory for six days, bringing major national news coverage, and won their severance. It’s important to remember that in 2008, occupation was seen more as a labor action from the 30s then a common tactic for protest on the left.

In February 2009, the plant was purchased by Serious Energy, and reopened, with many of the workers returning to their previous union contracts. It seemed like a major victory, and things went well at the factory for a time. But then, in February of 2012, sudden closure was again announced, this time by the new bosses. Once again, workers rallied to the factory, this time with a big wave of support from Occupy Chicago, and though their occupation only lasted 11 hours, they won fair severance pay once more.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on A New Era: From Occupation to Workers’ Control

Bernie Sanders seeks crackdown on corporate tax havens

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Bernie Sanders seeks crackdown on corporate tax havens

Colonialism and the Green Economy: Environmental Justice, Refineries and California’s Cap-and-Trade Program

From Truth Out:

By Daniel C Marotta and Jennifer Coute-Marotta
Thursday, 07 February 2013

California’s Cap-and-Trade Program

California’s cap-and-trade program to reduce state-wide greenhouse gas emissions went into effect on the first of this year, with the goal to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. That would be a 25 percent decrease from today.

Basically, the program intends to achieve that goal by setting a “cap” on the amount of pollution all the entities covered under the program are collectively allowed to emit every year, with that limit decreasing over time.

Covered entities either buy pollution allowances at an auction or receive them free from the state, based on historical emissions data. One pollution allowance is equal to one ton of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent). At the end of every year, each entity will be required to hand in a specific quantity of allowances to fulfill their climate obligation.

If an entity pollutes more than their holding of allowances permits them to, they have to make up the difference. One way this can be done is by buying carbon offset credits. California allows entities covered under the cap-and-trade program to source 8 percent of their climate obligation from carbon offset projects. For example, by preserving a forest or destroying ozone-depleting substances so they are not released into the atmosphere, carbon credits are generated. Currently, California approves only offset projects within the United States.

However, they are monitoring the credit-generating activities of Chiapas, Mexico for possible future carbon credits. Currently, these Chiapan projects are having disastrous effects on indigenous populations as Mexico develops a new economic frontier as a supplier of carbon credits for the Global North. (Learn more about these projects here and here.)

The other way to make up the difference is to buy more pollution allowances through an auction, the first of which occurred in November 2012. Four are to occur each year going forward. Although the vast majority of pollution allowances have been given out for free, more than 23 million were put up for auction in November. All of them sold, at an average of $10.09 per allowance. That’s just nine cents above the minimum bid allowed. If you think that is too low a price for polluting the planet, fear not – analysts believe the price will go up once financial firms actively take a part in the market.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Colonialism and the Green Economy: Environmental Justice, Refineries and California’s Cap-and-Trade Program

Cook Organic, Not the Planet

From Common Dreams:

by Alexis Baden-Mayer and Ronnie Cummins
Published on Thursday, February 7, 2013 by Common Dreams

What if there were an inexpensive technology that could cut greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent or more?

What if this technology over the next 30-40 years could sequester 50-100 parts-per-million (ppm) of carbon dioxide (CO2), to bring the total ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere down from the current 392 ppm to 350 ppm – the number scientists tell us we must achieve in order to avert a climate crisis? And what if this technology were widely available to all of us?

It is. And we need look no further than the end of our forks.

Forward on Climate 

The Organic Consumers Association has joined the Sierra Club,, Hip Hop Caucus and more than 75 other organizations to endorse what we believe will be the largest climate rally in history, Forward on Climate.  The rally will be held on February 17 in Washington D.C.

Forward on Climate’s rallying cry is this:

“President Barack Obama must move forward and reject the toxic Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, limit carbon pollution from our nation’s dirty power plants, move beyond coal and natural gas, and fire up our clean energy economy.”

We couldn’t agree more. Scientists warn that we’re headed for a seven degree Fahrenheit average temperature rise, which some predict could come as early as 2060. Unless we reverse global warming the earth, which is expected to have 9 billion people in 2050, will have a carrying capacity for only one billion.

Agriculture: victim and perpetrator

Dirty energy is a big culprit in the global warming calamity. But our atmosphere isn’t its only victim. Tar sands, fracking and mountaintop-removal coal mining also ravage our farmlands, poison our water, trigger killer droughts and floods, and ultimately place a terrible strain on our ability to produce safe, healthy food for a burgeoning population.  Our love affair with Big Energy is having a devastating effect on both the climate and agriculture. Just ask the farmers who lost millions of acres of crops to the recent drought.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Cook Organic, Not the Planet