Lucas Silveira, Canadian Transgender Singer Of The Cliks, Hits Brooklyn’s Branded Saloon For Intimate Show

From Huffington Post:


“Typical dude, moves somewhere, meets a girl, gets his heartbroken and writes a bunch of good songs.”

That’s how Lucas Silveira describes the inspiration behind “Black Tie Elevator,” his forthcoming album with Canadian alternative rock band The Cliks. Things will seemingly come full circle Feb. 16, when the Toronto-based Silveira will showcase highlights from the blues and Motown-inspired release with an acoustic performance in Brooklyn, N.Y., where many of his new songs were written.

“It can be as inspiring as it is heartbreaking… but there’s something about the artistic energy there that makes me write like crazy,” Silveira, who lived in Bushwick and Williamsburg over the course of a year-long stint in New York, says of the borough. “As much as people say that people who live there are pretentious, I just found that they’re really on top of what’s happening. They’re a few steps ahead of everybody.”

Of course, Silveira, 33, knows a thing or two about being forward-thinking himself. In 2007, the Toronto Star deemed him a transgender “pop heartthrob,” a title he cemented in 2010 when he was voted the “Sexiest Canadian Man” in a Chart Attack end-of-year survey. Superficial accolades aside, Silveira breathes the gritty spirit of rock and roll — check out “Savannah” (a zippy tune which hints at Amy Winehouse and The Strokes’ early work) or the smoky ballad “Still,” both from the forthcoming album, to witness the true expanse of an artist who, in many ways, defies musical classification.

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Every State Can Implement Transgender-Inclusive Health Coverage

From Center for American Progress:

By Andrew Cray
February 15, 2013

Transgender people have consistently been subject to health care coverage policies that arbitrarily cut off access to the care they need. State policymakers in Oregon, however, have recently stepped up to end this kind of discrimination.

It is no secret that pervasive bias and discrimination have pushed transgender Americans to the margins of society. Health insurance coverage has been no exception. While many people are able to rely on health insurance coverage to offset some of the costs of both routine and emergency health care, insurers have frequently relied on outdated assumptions about transgender people in order to justify categorical exclusions—limitations and exceptions to services offered under a health insurance plan— denying them coverage for medically necessary care, even when those services are provided to other people enrolled in the plan.

But recent motion toward coverage parity for transgender people at the state level shows that these barriers are not immovable. In fact, a close examination of the recent announcement by the Oregon Insurance Division that insurance companies doing business in Oregon must expand access to care for transgender people reveals that every state has the legal infrastructure to end antitransgender discrimination in health insurance—and that they can do it without passing a single new law.

There are three kinds of statutes already on the books in some combination in every state that give policymakers the authority to end antitransgender discrimination in insurance: public-accommodations laws, prohibitions on unfair trade practices in insurance, and grants of discretionary authority to insurance regulators. Let’s examine in further detail how state policymakers can use these statutes to end this discrimination.

Public-accommodations laws

The announcement from the Oregon Insurance Division primarily rested on the gender-identity antidiscrimination protections applicable to public accommodations—places or entities offering goods, services, or facilities to the public—under the Oregon Equality Act. The insurance division interprets insurance to be a “public accommodation” despite previous case law to the contrary because “any argument that insurance is not a public accommodation in view of recent developments in the industry … would probably fail.” Particularly because starting in 2014 individual and group insurers will no longer be able to reject applicants for coverage based on health status or other factors—meaning that insurance plans will be broadly open to the public—it has become increasingly clear that public-accommodations laws will cover insurance companies.

In Oregon, where the state public-accommodations antidiscrimination law includes gender identity-based protections, the insurance division articulates the clear application of the statute to health insurance:

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With No Shortcut to a Green Card, Gay Couples Leave U.S.

From The New York Times:

Published: February 17, 2013

Not long ago, Brandon Perlberg had a growing law practice and a Manhattan apartment he shared with his partner, who is British. They hosted themed dinner parties and wine tastings for a wide circle of friends.

But Mr. Perlberg, an American who is gay, now lives in London. Early last year he reluctantly left his law firm, rented out his apartment and said goodbye to friends. After nearly seven years in the United States on legal but temporary visas, his partner had not been able to obtain a visa as a permanent resident. The two were facing the possibility of permanent separation.

Americans with a foreign-born spouse of the opposite sex are able to get them resident visas, or green cards, with relative ease. But federal law does not allow Americans to petition for green cards for same-sex spouses or partners. Eventually, they face a choice of remaining in the country with the immigrant here illegally or leaving the United States.

“Ultimately, we resolved that staying together was the most important thing for us,” Mr. Perlberg said. “And the only way to guarantee that we got to stay together was by making this move.”

Mr. Perlberg is part of a diaspora of gay Americans who have found they had to uproot and leave the country to continue to live with foreign partners. And this year, binational gay couples like his are a new — and controversial — focus of the debate in Washington on an ambitious overhaul of immigration laws. In a blueprint that President Obama presented last month, he pledged to give citizens, and also immigrants who are legal residents, the ability to petition for a green card for a same-sex foreign partner, if they can show they have “a permanent relationship.”

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The Time Is Now: Seize This Movement Moment!

From The Huffington Post:


Yesterday I had a choice: Attend my children’s Valentine’s Day events at their elementary school or get arrested in a nonviolent civil disobedience stand for LGBT equality in San Francisco. I can only imagine the choice that First Lady Michelle Obama or retired Secretary of State Hillary Clinton might make if either were faced with such a dilemma, but I have to believe that they’d miss the Valentine’s Day events and seize the moment that has the greatest possible likelihood of changing the lives of families like theirs.

You see, we are in the middle of a “movement moment” for LGBTQ equality, a fight that has gone on for decades, and that many believe we will inevitably win. President Obama referenced one of our movement’s most famous moments, “Stonewall,” in his recent inaugural address — perhaps or perhaps not knowing that he was referencing a moment led by queer and trans people of color whose ferocity revolutionized our movement. We are decades past those days in New York, but we are still fighting for our lives, our families and our rights, and although it feels like we are so close, we still have miles to go before we are fully equal under the law. And our challenge is to seize this movement moment as was done at the Stonewall Inn in 1969.

It will take more than the president’s words to complete our journey to full federal equality in all matters governed by civil law. It will take action, as two of our movement’s historical leaders, Cleve Jones and David Mixner, so eloquently point out.

When I first joined this fight, I was a mom who was working full-time while raising my beautiful young children in the conservative Central Valley region of California. I took action because inequality came knocking on my door: Though I had run from the oppressive environment of my native Mississippi and sought refuge in the gleaming promise of California, I couldn’t escape the shadow of inequality when Proposition 8 passed. It’s been five years since our families were targeted by the religion-based bigotry that stripped the freedom to marry away from so many Californians.

I will never forget the pride I felt while watching the emergence of the Join the Impact events and actions that quickly transpired in response to the passage of Proposition 8. Many of us were so inspired by that “movement moment” that we dove into organizing in our local communities — calling attention to our demand for full equality under the law by highlighting the real and concrete harm that discrimination causes. Thousands of people across the country made a pilgrimage to the center of the state for Meet in the Middle for Equality, and then we marched on Washington for the National Equality March.

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Betty Friedan’s “The Feminine Mystique”: 50 Years Later

From Truth Out:

By Peter Dreier
Sunday, 17 February 2013

The Feminine Mystique – published on February 19, 1963 -“catalyzed the modern feminist movement, helped forever change Americans’ attitudes about women’s role in society and catapulted its author into becoming an influential and controversial public figure.”

Betty Friedan’s book, The Feminine Mystique, identified the “problem that has no name” – which feminists later labeled “sexism.” Three years after its publication – 50 years ago this month – Friedan was instrumental in organizing the National Organization for Women (NOW) and other key groups that helped build the movement for women’s equality.

The Feminine Mystique was not only a best-selling book, but also a manifesto for change.

Most Americans now accept as normal the once-radical ideas that Friedan and others espoused. Today, most Americans, including men, believe that women should earn the same pay as men if they do the same job. Corporations, law firms, the media, universities, advertising, the military, sports and other core institutions can no longer exercise blatant sex discrimination without facing scrutiny and the risk of protest and lawsuits. The Obama administration just lifted the ban on women in combat. Women are now running corporations, newspapers and TV stations, universities and major labor unions. In 1960, only about six percent of medical students were women. Today women comprise about half of all medical students and have a stronger foothold in other formerly all-male professions and occupations. More men in couples share housework and child rearing than was the case two or three decades ago. Giving girls an equal opportunity to play competitive sports is now taken for granted. Employers now recognize the reality of sexual harassment, which did not even have a name until the 1970s. The right to have an abortion, legalized in the US Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973, is still under attack but remains the law. In 1963, there were few college courses or books on women’s history, literature or politics, and no women’s studies programs.

When The Feminine Mystique was published, men’s turnout at the polls exceeded that of women by five percent. Since 1980, women have consistently voted at higher rates than men, according to the Center on American Women in Politics at Rutgers University. The number of women elected to office at every level of government has spiraled. In 1963, there were two women in the US Senate and only 12 women in the House of Representatives. Today, 20 women serve in the Senate and 77 serve in the House. Similar shifts have occurred at the local and state levels. Although a rise in women’s turnout has spurred these gains, men are now more willing to vote for women candidates than ever before.

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Rubio and the Zombies

From The New York Times:

Published: February 14, 2013

The State of the Union address was not, I’m sorry to say, very interesting. True, the president offered many good ideas. But we already know that almost none of those ideas will make it past a hostile House of Representatives.

On the other hand, the G.O.P. reply, delivered by Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, was both interesting and revelatory. And I mean that in the worst way. For Mr. Rubio is a rising star, to such an extent that Time magazine put him on its cover, calling him “The Republican Savior.” What we learned Tuesday, however, was that zombie economic ideas have eaten his brain.

In case you’re wondering, a zombie idea is a proposition that has been thoroughly refuted by analysis and evidence, and should be dead — but won’t stay dead because it serves a political purpose, appeals to prejudices, or both. The classic zombie idea in U.S. political discourse is the notion that tax cuts for the wealthy pay for themselves, but there are many more. And, as I said, when it comes to economics it appears that Mr. Rubio’s mind is zombie-infested.

Start with the big question: How did we get into the mess we’re in?

The financial crisis of 2008 and its painful aftermath, which we’re still dealing with, were a huge slap in the face for free-market fundamentalists. Circa 2005, the usual suspects — conservative publications, analysts at right-wing think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute and the Cato Institute, and so on — insisted that deregulated financial markets were doing just fine, and dismissed warnings about a housing bubble as liberal whining. Then the nonexistent bubble burst, and the financial system proved dangerously fragile; only huge government bailouts prevented a total collapse.

Instead of learning from this experience, however, many on the right have chosen to rewrite history. Back then, they thought things were great, and their only complaint was that the government was getting in the way of even more mortgage lending; now they claim that government policies, somehow dictated by liberals even though the G.O.P. controlled both Congress and the White House, were promoting excessive borrowing and causing all the problems.

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See also Think Progress:  GOP ‘Savior’ Marco Rubio Falls Back On The Same Old Anti-Woman Policies

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False Spontaneity of the Tea Party

From Huffington Post:


A new study funded by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health reveals that the Tea Party Movement was planned over a decade ago by groups with ties to the tobacco and fossil fuel industries. The movement was not a spontaneous populist uprising, but rather a long-term strategy to promote the anti-science, anti-government agenda of powerful corporate interests.

The two organizations mentioned in the report, Americans for Prosperity and Freedomworks, used to be a single organization that was founded by the Koch brothers and heavily financed by the tobacco industry. These organizations began planning the Tea Party Movement over ten years ago to promote a common agenda that advocated market fundamentalism over science and opposed any regulation or taxation of fossil fuels and tobacco products.

The disturbing history of links between market fundamentalists, the tobacco industry and the Tea Party movement is part of an even larger trend that I describe in my new book, The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change. Following the era of Progressive and New Deal reforms that restrained corporate influence in American politics following the infamous Robber Baron Era, market fundamentalists were once again motivated and radicalized by the social turbulence of the 1960s. In 1971, a prominent lawyer for the tobacco industry, Lewis Powell, wrote a memorandum for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that presented a comprehensive plan aimed at shifting the balance of political power in favor of corporations. President Nixon appointed Powell to the Supreme Court just two months later.

Guided by the Powell Memo, market fundamentalists have pursued a comprehensive strategy to dramatically increase corporate influence in American politics. Powell himself worked with other pro-corporate justices to interpret laws in ways that were favorable to corporate interests, most importantly expanding the precedent of corporate personhood. As a direct result, corporate lobbying exploded, increasing from $100 million in 1975 to $3.5 billion in 2010. Corporations also used increasingly voluminous campaign contributions to promote the election of pro-corporate politicians at all levels of government. Wealthy donors founded conservative think tanks to influence public opinion in favor of market fundamentalism. The Tea Party is a clear extension of Powell’s strategy to promote corporate profit at the expense of the public good.

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Tens of Thousands of Demonstrators Rally For Environmental Awareness In Washington, DC

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The Woman Who’s Changing the Definition of ‘Foodie’

From In These Times:

ROC’s Saru Jayaraman is doing for ethical eating what Michael Pollan did for slow food.

BY Michelle Chen
February 9, 2013

As one of the largest low-wage sectors in the country, restaurant work is more than a tough gig—it’s an industrial pressure cooker. Even at the toniest restaurant, the typical server or cook’s shift may be exhausting, thankless, exploitative, unhealthy (many have to work when sick) or even coercive (when the boss threatens to call immigration authorities if they complain about unpaid wages).

The restaurant industry rests on a base wage that starves workers. Unlike other workplaces, restaurants can pay tipped workers such as servers as little as $2.13 an hour on the assumption that they will earn something comparable to the regular federal minimum wage of 7.25 through tips. The system has gender and racial biases built into it, as many women and workers of color are disproportionately relegated to precarious tip work, like server jobs. Poverty wages and limited opportunities for promotion keep them mired in the industry’s lowest tiers. Meanwhile the federal tipped minimum wage has been flat, without even inflation adjustment, for over two decades.

For over a decade, the Restaurant Opportunities Center has been developing a new recipe for labor mobilization that infuses grassroots worker empowerment with policy advocacy, adds a dash of media-savvy marketing, and—to generate enduring consciousness in a high-turnover industry—stirs in street-level direct action and a global economic justice vision.

In a recent interview with In These Times, ROC’s co-founder Saru Jayaraman (now Director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley) reflected on her experience organizing in a sector that has long remained marginal to the American labor movement. Her recently released book, Behind the Kitchen Door, encapsulates ROC’s journey from a hardscrabble worker center in Lower Manhattan to a national network of activists taking on a massively profitable industry.

Jayaraman, who built the organization from the ground up with a group of displaced workers from the Twin Towers after 9/11, starts her outreach small—with the diner who pauses between bites to think about who prepared her meal and how.

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Is The Dietitians’ Trade Group in Bed with the Junk Food Industry?

From Common Dreams:

by Ocean Robbins
Published on Sunday, February 17, 2013 by Common Dreams

The largest trade group of nutrition professionals—the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics—has a serious credibility problem.

The Academy represents 74,000 dietitians in the United States, and its mission is to promote optimal nutrition and well being for all people. But according to an explosive report released by Food Revolution Summit speaker Michele Simon and her organization, the industry watchdog Eat Drink Politics, the Academy is sponsored by folks like ConAgra, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Kellogg’s, Mars, and the National Dairy Council.

Some Academy sponsors can become an “Academy Partner,” which entitles them to “educate” nutrition professionals about the health benefits of their products, co-sponsor events, and conduct educational sessions at meetings.  They also can use the Academy’s logo in marketing campaigns.

The report from Eat Drink Politics details how registered dietitians can earn continuing education units from Coca-Cola, in which they learn that sugar is not a problem for children. In addition to Coca-Cola, companies on the Academy’s list of approved continuing education providers include Kraft Foods, Nestlé, and PepsiCo.

Despite its enormous clout, and its nutritional advocacy mission, the Academy has thus far refused to endorse some of the steps that many experts agree could improve public health and expand health freedom, including limits on soft drink sizes, taxes on sugary sodas, or the labeling of genetically engineered foods. Could there be any connection between the millions of dollars in sponsorship the Academy receives from junk food manufacturers, and a seeming lack of initiative on behalf of the public welfare?

Fortunately, not all dietitians pass on the propaganda of the Academy’s sponsors. There are many hard-working and dedicated dietitians who base the guidance they offer their clients on the latest learnings of nutritional science. One of the inspiring dietitians of our times is bestselling author, plant-strong nutrition expert, and 2013 Food Revolution Summit speaker Brenda Davis, R.D,.

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Forward On Climate Rally & March – Washington DC

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