Boston explosions highlight a frightening new reality

From Salon: http://www.salon.com/2013/04/15/boston_explosions_highlight_a_frightening_new_reality/

We don’t yet know the cause of what happened in Boston, but the fact that it isn’t surprising is itself terrifying

We don’t know what the cause of the Boston Marathon explosion yet. It could be terrorism. It could be some infrastructure-related explosion. But the fact that such a catastrophe is no longer completely surprising is terrifying.

I heard the news as most did – through the digital grapevine. My initial reaction was the same as many people with loved ones in Boston – entirely personal and worried about possible friends and family who might have been maimed or, godforbid, killed. But while I fretted and texted and called, I also realized that something had changed in me – and in all of us – since I fled the U.S. Capitol back on September 11, 2001. What had changed was that while I was nervous, worried, disgusted and anxious — and while I was shaking my head muttering rhetorical questions about the senselessness of the world — I was no longer shocked.

If it is terrorism, this will be classified – as the TV anchors are now reminding us in Clockwork Orange-like repetition – as simply life in the “post-9/11” era. If it is some sort of infrastructure-related tragedy, it will be classified as just daily life in a nation whose neglect of its physical plant brings us sinkholes, power outages and pipe explosions.

Whatever the cause of this catastrophe, though, the reaction is proof that we have reached a new normal – one that increasingly defines major news events in America as those exclusively involving death and carnage.

Yes, it’s true – since humans put pen to paper to report current events, news has always been defined by the “if it bleeds, it leads” ethos. But in recent years, with both the heightened prospect of terrorism, the proliferation of mass shootings and the mundane persistence of now-mundane gun violence, the aphorism seems like it has been flipped around: if it leads, or if it is even considered news, it inevitably must bleed.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/04/15/boston_explosions_highlight_a_frightening_new_reality/

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It’s Time For the Annual Michigan Women’s Music Festival Controversy

This has been going for some twenty years now.

For twenty some years certain lesbians who howl like banshees at any infringement of their rights and privileges due to discrimination and bigotry have been engaging in the exact same bigotry and discrimination only directing it at TS/TG women, people who they have decided merit this discrimination and bigotry due to the sex/gender they were assigned at birth.

Amazingly enough the radfem lesbian denizens of the MWMF manage to sound indistinguishable from the ultra right wing Xian fanatics when it comes to their hatred and bigotry with regards to TS/TG women.

Now I’ll be the first to admit that the eternal arguments over concepts such as identity coupled with the incredible parsing of language and terminology that goes on in this brave new post-modern world can sometimes be baffling.

What isn’t baffling is the unmitigated hate speech one hears from the sisterhood of sacredly different from male human beings sisterhood of lesbian purity.

Pity, but,  none of them are capable of admitting that what many of them seem to fear most is the possibility of finding themselves sexually attracted to a TS/TG woman.

Which incidentally is the same emotion expressed by the men who feel they should have the right to murder TS/TG women for the crime of having aroused lust and causing these straight men to “turn gay”.

Over the years I have noticed how there are many more assigned female at birth women engaged in behavior that has a negative impact upon women, especially lesbians than there are TS/TG women causing harm to women. Michelle Bachmann, and Phyllis Schlafly come to mind.

All the bullshit put forth by those who would maintain exclusionary policy of the MWMF is a retread of Focus on the Family’s anti L/G propaganda.  All they do is change L/G to TS/TG.

All this is a given…

I still have a hard time getting angry and worked up about the MWMF.

It’s a class thing.

Like the Black Party, White Party, Dinah Shore and Olivia Cruises  the MWMF is an event that costs a fuck of a lot of money to go to.  Especially considering the accommodations or lack there of.

Their sliding scale ranges between 450 and 600 dollars plus transportation there.  I’ll grant they have a Sunday only pass for 65-100 dollars.  (See http://www.michfest.com/tickets/index.htm)

That alone is exclusionary on the basis of class.  Poor working women can’t afford to go there.

Others like myself might have that amount of money to spend on concerts and movies over the course of a year but can’t see spending it to go camp out in the woods with a bunch of dykes when we can sleep in our nice comfortable bed next to our life partners/wives.

BTW last Tina and I saw Judy Collins and Kat Edmonson so we actually support women’s music.  I looked at the roster for the MWMF and there were actually four acts I would pay to see and a couple of more that I’ve heard of before.

I just wouldn’t blow my entire annual entertainment budget to go see them.

Anyhow the controversy continues…

From The Advocate: Ladies, Are You Ready for Michfest?

BY Clea Kim
April 10 2013

The Michigan Womyn’s Music Festivaloften referred to as Michfest, is an international feminist music festival that has taken place every August since 1976 on 650 acres of Michigan woodlands. The event is created, staffed, operated and attended entirely by women. (The spelling of “womyn” in the name of the festival is an expression of feminist politics.) This years lineup was recently announced, and among the star performers are the Indigo Girls (pictured), who have been stalwarts at the fest for years, even as they gained wider fame. 

Michfest was founded in 1976 with a couple of thousand participants. Today, it brings in at least 4,000 (mostly queer) women, and some of their children, who camp near the town of Hart. However, there is a women-born-women admittance policy that festival director Lisa Vogel continues to defend.

“As a queer community, we’re all struggling around how we explore and expand gender definitions, and the women here who are creating this festival are part of that,” Vogel says. “And I feel very strongly that having a space for women who are born women to come together for a week is a healthy, whole, loving space to provide for women who have that experience. To label that as transphobic is, to me, as misplaced as saying the women-of-color tent is racist or to say that a transsexual-only space, a gathering of folks of women who are born men, is misogynist.”

The policy came into effect after a trans woman, Nancy Burkholder, was asked to leave Michfest in 1991. Trans activists, many queer-identified, began protesting, arguing that trans women — especially those who are legally female — should be allowed to join in the solidarity of Michfest. Trans feminist author Julia Serano has said, “Some of the women who travel from all over the country to attend Michigan think nothing of wearing their suspicion or hatred of trans women on their sleeves, and they will often make extraordinarily ignorant and insensitive comments about trans women in their attempts to justify our exclusion.”

In 2005, Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls, who has said she identifies with trans and genderqueer folks, interviewed Vogel and several participants from Camp Trans, a nearby annual gathering of transgender women in protest of the Michfest policy,  in hopes of mediating the debate. She posted all their conversations on her website. This year the Indigo Girls have taken a sterner position, posting a letter stating, “Any money that we make playing the Festival will go towards Trans Activism. We will make a statement from stage at the Festival in support of Trans Inclusion. We have made it clear that this will be our last time at the Festival until MWF shows visible and concrete signs of changing their intention.” There is also a Change.org petition calling on all performers to boycott the fest until it adopts a more inclusive policy. The petition currently has nearly 1,400 signatures.

Continue reading at:  http://www.advocate.com/women/2013/04/10/ladies-are-you-ready-michfest?page=0,0

From Windy City Media:  Heated debate follows Michigan Fest boycott petition:  From petition and press statements

2013-04-12

What follows are communications related to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, held every August in Michigan, and its official ban on trans women entering the festival. The policy is more of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” ban, as trans women have been at the festival, but the official policy has caused deep divisions in the community.

Now, a call to boycott performers who are scheduled to be at this year’s festival has sparked responses from some of those performers, as well as a response from the Festival’s founder, Lisa Vogel.

What follows is the original boycott call, from www.change.org/petitions/indigo-girls-and-other-michfest-2013-performers-boycott-mwmf-until-the-organizers-fully-include-trans-women and three responses.

Petition: Boycott MWMF until the organizers fully include trans women

Petition by Red Durkin , Brooklyn, NY

(This petition has 1.501 signers as of April 12, 2013)

The official stance of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival indicates that the Festival is open only to cisgender women and that transgender women are not officially allowed on the grounds as volunteers or attendees. This is in accordance with a long-standing policy of exclusion that founder and producer Lisa Vogel confirmed as recently as 2006. (eminism.org/michigan/20060822-mwmf.txt&; .

Although in the past some of the staff has “looked the other way,” the policy against trans women that is in place has cultivated a climate of transphobia at the Festival. This situation is unwelcoming and unsafe for transgender women and has become a divisive influence on feminist communities, both at Fest and around the US.

The reality is that Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival is not safe for any women until it is welcoming for all women.

We are asking you, as a musician, and as a person who believes in the dignity and equality of all women, to stand in solidarity with transgender women and our allies and to not attend or perform at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival until Lisa Vogel and the other organizers fully and openly welcome all self-identified women.

Although there is a small, devoted group of individuals working from within to change the transphobic policies put into place and enforced by the organizers, we believe that real change can not happen until all women are welcome to attend the Festival. We are asking you to respect the boycott of the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival until real, substantive change has taken place.

We believe that the markers of substantive change are three simple things:

1) The organizers must amend the festival policy to explicitly welcome all self-identified women to the annual MWMF.

2) The organizers must recognize the destructive impact that 20+ years of transphobic policies have had on our feminist and queer communities and issue a formal statement acknowledging and apologizing for this injustice.

3) The organizers must program at least one performer who is a transgender woman to perform at the Festival. This will show that transgender women are truly welcome and that they have a legitimate place and voice in the MWMF community.

Until these three demands are met, we call on you to not attend or perform at the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. You are implored to respect the call to boycott this event because the organizers have maintained destructive and transphobic policies that are unwelcoming and unsafe for all women in our communities.

This petition calls upon all attendees and performers of the 2013 Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival to boycott the Festival until substantive change is achieved.

The list of performers of MichFest 2013 is posted here: http://michfest.com/performances/index.htm

To read List of petition signers go to:  Heated debate follows Michigan Fest boycott petition

 

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D.C. shelter drops ban on trans women

From Washington Blade:   http://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/04/14/dc-shelter-drops-ban-on-trans-women/

By
on April 14, 2013

A D.C. Superior Court judge on Friday issued a temporary restraining order requiring a city funded shelter for homeless women located near the U.S. Capitol to stop denying transgender women access to the facility.

The Blade had previously reported about a lawsuit brought upon the shelter by a trans women alleging discrimination.

Judge Geoffrey Alprin issued the order after the executive director of New Hope Ministries, which operates the John L. Young Shelter for Women, chose not to contest a request for the restraining order filed by an attorney on behalf of Lakiesha Washington, a transgender woman who was denied admission to the shelter.

D.C. Trans Coalition attorney Jeffrey Light filed a motion seeking the restraining order as part of a lawsuit that accuses the shelter of violating the D.C. Human Rights Act by denying Washington access to the shelter on April 3.

“We don’t do transgenders here,” the lawsuit quotes an employee at the shelter saying when Washington, who was homeless, attempted to enter the shelter. “You have to leave,” the lawsuit quotes the employee as saying.

A decision by New Hope Ministries’ executive director, John Shetterly, not to contest the restraining order followed negotiations between Shetterly and Light earlier in the week, according to a statement issued by the D.C. Trans Coalition. The statement says Shetterly also agreed to provide transgender sensitivity training to the shelter’s staff and was taking steps to provide private bathroom and shower facilities to better serve all shelter clients, including transgender women.

Shetterly told the Blade on April 10 that the John Young shelter was reluctant to accept transgender women because its communal bathroom and shower facilities didn’t provide privacy for shelter occupants. He said the lack of privacy would create a problem in some cases where trans women and other female clients used shower facilities at the same time.

Continue reading at:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/04/14/dc-shelter-drops-ban-on-trans-women/

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Has NOM’s Work Been Fomenting Anti-Gay Violence In France Over Marriage?

From The New Civil Rights Movement:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/has-noms-work-been-fomenting-anti-gay-violence-in-france-over-marriage/politics/2013/04/14/65180

by David Badash
on April 14, 2013

NOM, the National Organization For Marriage, has a Board of Directors-approved mandate to make marriage “a national (and ultimately international) effort.” And so, NOM president Brian Brown went to France. For months Brown and his cohorts have been working in front of and behind the cameras to help create an environment hostile to same-sex marriage in France.

“In the United States, we’ve demonstrated a key fact: with adequate resources, we can win the battle for hearts and minds on the marriage issue. We can use what we’ve learned about winning this battle to protect marriage internationally as well,” NOM’s secret court documents revealed just one year ago.

And how did that work out?

NOM this weekend has been pushing its efforts in France…

Continue reading at:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/has-noms-work-been-fomenting-anti-gay-violence-in-france-over-marriage/politics/2013/04/14/65180

See Also:  Pam’s House Blend @ Fire Dog Lake: NOM’s Brian Brown Must Repudiate His French Colleagues’ Violent Rhetoric and Actions

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French ‘Senate’ votes to legalize same sex marriage

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/12/french-senate-votes-to-legalize-same-sex-marriage/

By Agence France-Presse
Friday, April 12, 2013

France’s upper house Senate voted Friday to adopt a law granting homosexual couples the right to marry, which has sparked widespread opposition and protests from conservatives and religious groups.

The vote, by a show of hands, followed days of intense debate. The bill must still technically face a second reading in the lower house National Assembly, but lawmakers there already adopted it in a first reading on February 12.

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Margaret Thatcher Opponents Party In Trafalgar Square

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Noam Chomsky Crushes Ron Paul And Libertarians!

California Senate president attacks ‘diseased’ financial system in education reform speech

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/14/california-senate-president-attacks-diseased-financial-system-in-education-reform-speech/

By Eric W. Dolan
Sunday, April 14, 2013

California Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) blasted the financial industry in a speech calling for educational reform.

At the California Democrats State Convention in Sacramento on Saturday, Steinberg touted the party’s recent victories in the state.

“No more cuts to education, to health care, to public safety, or help for those in need,” he remarked. “Our opportunity to invest and re-invest will soon be upon us. But frankly it is not just how government invests its money that matters, for some of the darkest days in our country over the last decade came with the revelations about abuse in the financial system — abuses that caused real people to lose so much that they had to work so hard to earn and save. There was and in many ways continues to be a disease in our financial system. A premium was placed on something for nothing. High rates of return came to those who simply developed expertise in manipulating numbers.”

“This culture of something for nothing is a far cry from our Democratic Party values, for we place a premium on investing in people,” Steinberg continued. “Above all we prize investment in human potential, and so I ask today, what if we took this whole notion of investing and we shifted it from producing nothing, from chasing wealth for wealth’s sake to a very different kind of proposition. Today, I offer a different IPO. A California IPO. I propose that we make it more profitable for California businesses to invest in California’s high schools than a Wall Street hedge fund.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/14/california-senate-president-attacks-diseased-financial-system-in-education-reform-speech/

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Money for Militarism, not for People: Obama’s Betrayal of Social Security

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/04/14-0

by Dave Lindorff

What’s wrong with the Obama administration’s proposal to change the way Social Security checks are adjusted for inflation from using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) to instead using something called a “chained” CPI?

Let’s start with the fundamental problem: Social Security is not a cause of the federal budget deficit, and will not be for years, even if nothing is done to raise more revenue for the program.

Sure the US will eventually have to come up with more money to pay the benefits earned by retirees in the Baby Boom generation, but that problem of an eventual shortfall in Social Security tax revenues can be easily solved by simply eliminating the cap — currently $113,000 in annual income — that is subject to the FICA tax. If the cap were completely eliminated, so that all income was subject to the tax, as is the case with the Medicare tax, the shortfall would be nearly eliminated. Any remaining shortfall could be erased too, by extending some kind of FICA tax to unearned income from investments. My favorite is one that is common in Europe: a small — say 0.25% — tax on short-term stock and bond trades.

But there is a bigger problem with this Obama proposal to cut both Social Security benefits and Medicare funding: Adopting a long-time Republican proposal, it only looks at those programs in isolation, and concludes that they need to be cut. Our Nobel Peace Prize-winning president does not look at the biggest and most wasteful spending in the entire federal budget, which is the military. That bloated white elephant, which this year is sucking up close to $800 billion, not counting the interest on money borrowed to pay for past wars and armaments, could be cut in half or even by three-quarters, and it would still leave the US military budget larger than any other nation’s in the world. The US would be no less safe in that case. In fact, it would be a hell of a lot safer because we would no longer have US troops stationed expensively and provocatively in 1000 foreign locations.

Nobody in Congress is talking about slashing military spending and spending the savings on medical care, Social Security, education and other pressing needs. The public needs to demand this.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/04/14-0

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Is 70 Percent Renewable Power Possible? Portugal Just Did It For 3 Months

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/04/14/1858811/is-70-renewable-power-possible-portugal-just-did-it-for-3-months/

By Ryan Koronowski
on Apr 14, 2013

Portugal’s electricity network operator announced that renewable energy supplied 70 percent of total consumption in the first quarter of this year. This increase was largely due to favorable weather conditions resulting in increased wind and water flow, as well as lower demand. Portuguese citizens are using less energy and using sources that never run out for the vast majority of what they do use.

  • Hydropower supplied most: Hydroelectric power supplied 37 percent of total electricity — a 312 percent increase compared to last year.
  • Wind turbines broke a record: Wind energy represented 27 percent of the total share, which is 60 percent higher than last year. This is 37 percent above average and good for the highest amount generated by wind in Portugal, ever.
  • 2.3 percent less energy used: Energy consumption has fallen every year since 2010 and is now at 2006 levels. Some of the drop this quarter was due to fewer working days and a warmer winter, but even controlling for those factors, there was still a drop of .4 percent.
  • Not so much solar: Solar energy supplies only .7 percent of total energy demand, according to 2012 figures (Q1 2013 figures were not available for solar). This constitutes 225.5 MW in total photovoltaic capacity.
  • Dropping the fossil fuel habit: Portugal’s electricity had 29 percent less coal and 44 percent less gas in it from 2012 figures. The country must import the fossil fuels it burns.
  • For sale: Portugal exported what would have been 6 percent of total electricity consumption to other countries. It will also be able to sell a chunk of its allotted carbon credits offered by the EU’s carbon trading system.

Actually 70 percent isn’t unheard of for Portugal. For a few hours in 2011, Portugal was entirely run on renewable power. Yet this was the first time so much was sustained for a quarter.

Continue reading at:  http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/04/14/1858811/is-70-renewable-power-possible-portugal-just-did-it-for-3-months/

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New Study Shows Once Again How “Climategate” Emails Were Distorted

From Media Matters:  http://mediamatters.org/blog/2013/04/12/new-study-shows-once-again-how-climategate-emai/193611

Max Greenberg
April 12, 2013

At the height of the manufactured “Climategate” controversy, distortions of an email from a top climate scientist made it all the way to one of the leading Sunday shows. But a recent study re-confirms what that scientist was actually saying — that much of recent heat has been trapped deep in the ocean.

In 2009, a batch of emails was stolen from the University of East Anglia. In one of the emails, which skeptics quickly took out of context, Kevin Trenberth, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, lamented the “travesty” that “we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment.” Trenberth was actually referring to gaps in our “observing system” that make it difficult to say where short-term energy — or heat — is going, not copping to a lack of long-term climate change, as some claimed. In the email, Trenberth alluded to research suggesting that the “missing” heat might be sequestered deep in the ocean.

For some media, none of this mattered. In a November 2009 appearance on ABC’s This Week, conservative columnist George Will suggested Trenberth’s email showed that “global warming has stopped,” and that since climate science is “a complicated business,” we “shouldn’t wager these trillions” on curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

But a recent study published in the journal Nature Climate Change found that the ocean has in fact played a “key role” in absorbing recent heat, which “strengthens our confidence in the robustness of our climate models.” The findings echo the conclusions of a paper co-authored by Trenberth himself as well as findings published in the journal Physics Letters A in late 2012, all indicating that climate change continues apace.

Recent analyses by Media Matters show that the “Climategate” episode was typical of the way the influential Sunday shows favor political spin over scientific fact. On the rare occasion Sunday shows covered climate change between 2009 and 2012, not a single scientist or climate expert was part of the discussion. In addition, every politician who discussed climate change on the Sunday shows in 2012 was a Republican:

Continue reading at:  http://mediamatters.org/blog/2013/04/12/new-study-shows-once-again-how-climategate-emai/193611

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Climate change will threaten wine production, study shows

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/apr/08/climate-change-wine-production

Global warming will make it difficult to raise grapes in traditional wine country, but will shift production to other regions

, US environment correspondent
The Guardian, Monday 8 April 2013

Bid adieu to Bordeaux, but also, quite possibly, a hello to Chateau Yellowstone. Researchers predict a two-thirds fall in production in the world’s premier wine regions because of climate change.

The study forecasts sharp declines in wine production from Bordeaux and Rhone regions in France, Tuscany in Italy and Napa Valley in California and Chile by 2050, as a warming climate makes it harder to grow grapes in traditional wine country.

But also anticipate a big push into areas once considered unsuitable. That could mean more grape varieties from northern Europe, including Britain, the US north-west and the hills of central China.

“The fact is that climate change will lead to a huge shakeup in the geographic distribution of wine production,” said Lee Hannah, a senior scientist at Conservation International and an author of the study.

Researchers expect big changes in regions enjoying the cool winters and hot dry summers that produce good grapes. “It will be harder and harder to grow those varieties that are currently growing in places in Europe,” Hannah said. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that [they] can’t be grown there, but it will require irrigation and special inputs to make it work, and that will make it more and more expensive.”

Wine grapes are known to be one of the most finicky of crops, sensitive to subtle shifts in temperature, rain and sunshine. The industry has been forward-looking when it comes to anticipating the effects of climate change.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/apr/08/climate-change-wine-production

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