Friday Night Fun and Culture: Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

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ENDA 2013: Everything You Need to Know

From Huffington Post:


The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) will be reintroduced today in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. People may have a lot of questions. Here, I hope, are the answers.

ENDA is a very simple bill. If passed into law, ENDA simply would make it illegal to discriminate in employment based on gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation. It is only about making sure that LGBT people have the opportunity to work and be judged on their merits. It exempts religious institutions and employers with fewer than 15 employees.

ENDA is absolutely transgender-inclusive. Yes. Absolutely. Unequivocally. And while the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and our allies will remain vigilant to make sure that “gender identity” remains in the bill until it passes, we just call it “ENDA” now rather than “inclusive ENDA,” because it isn’t ENDA if transgender people aren’t in it. For us, there’s now “ENDA” with us or nothing at all.

People are protected based on both gender identity and gender expression. The term that is used in ENDA is “gender identity,” but it is defined, as in previous years, to include gender expression. The definition provided in the bill is this: “The term ‘gender identity’ means the gender-related identity, appearance, or mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an individual, with or without regard to the individual’s designated sex at birth.”

What are the chances of it becoming law this year? To become law, the bill must be passed in the U.S. Senate and then in the House, and then it must be signed by President Obama. There is not the slightest doubt that the president would sign ENDA if it gets through both chambers. And the Senate looks favorable for us this year. And though a clear path through the House of Representatives is not yet obvious, it could be greased by a strong showing in the Senate. We have had great conversations with members of Congress, and we are convinced that this is a good year to make a strong effort. If we fall short, the effort still will move the ball forward so that we are in a better position in the next Congress.

There are small technical changes made to ENDA since it was last introduced in 2011. ENDA is being introduced in substantially the same form as it was in both 2009 and 2011, but there are some technical changes meant to reflect legal and other advancements that have occurred in ensuing years. The most significant change for transgender people is that we fought for and won removal of language that clarified use of showers and locker rooms “where being seen unclothed would be unavoidable.” None of the states that have passed and successfully implemented a gender identity anti-discrimination law includes such a provision, and neither should ENDA. NCTE will work tirelessly to make sure that members of Congress stay focused on the important and core issue of job discrimination and do not get sidetracked with extraneous and discriminatory issues like restroom use.

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Pee Fear

From Tucson Weekly

April 25, 2013

When Republican John Kavanagh presented his strike-everything amendment to the House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, March 20, it wasn’t the first time that Arizona’s transgender community had organized around bathroom issues.

The Appropriations Committee chairman’s amendment on who uses what bathroom packed a punch—a criminal charge obviously targeted at trans folks:

“A person commits disorderly conduct if the person intentionally enters a public restroom, bathroom, shower, bath, dressing room or locker room and a sign indicates that the room is for the exclusive use of persons of one sex and the person is not legally classified on the person’s birth certificate as a member of that sex.”

According to Tucson trans activists, Kavanagh’s “papers to pee,” is most likely retaliation against the city of Phoenix for expanding its anti-discrimination ordinance to include sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, and people with disabilities.

When Kavanagh slipped his amendment into a bill regulating massage therapy, the trans community throughout the state, especially in Tucson and Phoenix, went into full organizing mode. Tucson activist and transwoman Abigail Jensen said Arizona has a history when it comes to trans people and bathrooms, even though for the most part the state has been a pretty good place for trans people.

In 2007, a transwoman was banned from a Scottsdale bar she regularly hung out at after someone complained of a man going into the women’s restroom. “It was a pretty big stink,” Jensen recalls, “but in the end there was a wonderful outcome.”

The owner agreed to lift the ban; he and his wife became good friends with the transwoman; legal action was dropped; and the owner agreed to put gender neutral signs on his restaurant’s bathrooms. He eventually opened a gay bar.

“That was the first kind of political organizing that happened, but since then there really hasn’t been an issue in Arizona,” Jensen says.

Kavanagh’s strike-everything didn’t budge, but with help from his friends he brought back a softer version, SB 1045, which is waiting for the House Rules Committee to review for constitutionality, “which obviously they never seem to do a very good job of … when you think of SB 1070,” Jensen says.

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Trans press victims take their case to parliament

From Gay Star News:

Members of Parliament attend Trans Media Watch session on harassment and inaccurate reporting in the British press

By Tris Reid-Smith
24 April 2013

Transgender people have told top politicians of their bad experiences at the hands of the British press at a meeting in parliament.

The discussion was organized after the death of Lucy Meadows, a transgender school teacher who had been the subject of a critical news story and comment piece by columnist Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail, a leading UK tabloid.

Three trans victims of biased reporting spoke of their experiences at the meeting today (24 May), in one of the House of Commons committee rooms, attended by 13 Members of Parliament (MPs).

Teraina Hird, Delia Johnson and Dru Marland spoke of their experiences at the hands of the press, the stress caused and the fact the publicity almost led to one of them losing their job.

While trans media expert and GSN contributor, Jane Fae, spoke about the problems with the complaints process the press has in place, which makes resolving problems very difficult.

Fae told GSN: ‘It takes 20 minutes to put an inaccuracy into the press. It can take three months to get it taken out again.’

Helen Belcher, one of the meeting’s organizers from Trans Media Watch, who is also a GSN contributor, said tabloid newspapers the Daily Mail and The Sun ‘tend to get more mentions than any other’ but the problem went across the media – from specialist fashion press to local newspapers.

She told GSN: ‘What we wanted to do was to widen the debate and depersonalize it rather than to concentrate on Richard Littlejohn and Lucy Meadows.

‘The level of harassment Lucy faced and the level of misrepresentation and subsequent consequences are sadly not infrequent enough.

‘I think the idea that a trans group held a meeting like that in parliament and had front bench MPs, government ministers and people from across all parties in the Commons and even a member of the House of Lords attend shows the level of concern about this is widespread. Today is a busy day in parliament and people took time out at short notice to attend.’

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Love is All You Need?

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Is there too much breast cancer “awareness”?

From Salon:

Yes, the world is a pinker place. But an author (and survivor) says we’re squandering time, money and resources


Facing the helplessness of disease – especially a disease that has a penchant for women, for our mothers and our friends and daughters – it feels good to go on the offensive. It feels good to believe we are somehow collectively “battling” it. It feels good enough, in fact, to have turned breast cancer into a big, Pepto Bismol-colored business, and to have driven unprecedented droves of women into prophylactic mastectomies.

Yet reality is far more complicated than a jaunty ribbon on a lapel or the hopeful promise of “early detection.” And the key to unlocking the secrets of a pernicious disease will not be found in a pink bottle of nail polish — or even, very likely, in radical defensive surgery.

That point is well-illustrated in author Peggy Orenstein’s blisteringly sensible cover story for the New York Times Magazine on “Our Feel-Good War on Breast Cancer.” (It will appear in print this weekend, but is on the Times’ site now.) Orenstein knows well the nightmare of breast cancer. She was diagnosed in 1996, at age 35. A decade and a half later, she was diagnosed again. And that span of time represents a massive shift in our cultural relationship with breast cancer – and a surprising new concern: what she calls “the dangers of overtreatment.”

As Orenstein writes, a mammogram like the one that first detected her cancer does “reduce, by a small percentage, the number of women who are told they have late-stage cancer, but it is far more likely to result in overdiagnosis and unnecessary treatment, including surgery, weeks of radiation and potentially toxic drugs.” Of particular interest to Orenstein are the 60,000 new diagnoses annually – roughly a quarter of them — of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). Also known as “Stage Zero,” DCIS is not cancer, just the presence of abnormal cells that could become cancer. Complicating matters is the fact that, as Orenstein notes, “There are at least four genetically distinct breast cancers,” and that “Mammograms, it turns out, are not so great at detecting the most lethal forms of disease.”

The presence of any unusual cells, of course, remains a big, scary red flag. And action has a more can-do appeal than wait-and-see. That’s likely why the same tremendous progress we’ve made in detection has led — and not necessarily helpfully —  to “a 188 percent jump between 1998 and 2005 among women given new diagnoses of DCIS in one breast … who opted to have both breasts removed just in case” and a stunning 150 percent rise among women with early-stage invasive disease. There’s a whole population of women who’ve gone under the knife for something that may well never have blossomed into a life-threatening condition.

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Workers Organize to Fight the ‘Part-Timeification’ Trend at Juicy Couture, Other Chains

From RH Reality Check:

by Sheila Bapat
April 21, 2013

Workers at Juicy Couture clothing stores in New York City have recently alleged that the retailer is cutting employee hours to dodge health insurance costs resulting from the Affordable Care Act (ACA), making Juicy one of the latest employers to contribute to the “part-timeification” trend now popular in the restaurant, retail, and other sectors, a trend that disproportionately affects women. In response to this trend, employees are turning to new online tools to organize and fight for better benefits.

The Retail Action Project, which is helping organize the Juicy Couture workers, said the following in a statement:

“…employees … who work at Juicy’s flagship store have repeatedly complained that in February and March, all part-time associates’ hours were capped at 21 hours per week, and managers did not let workers know. Workers only found out [about the cap] when they asked why they had so few hours [and] asked for more. … Juicy workers qualify for paid time off only if they work 1,400 hours in one year. Part-time workers will never hit that total [working] just 21 hours/week, meaning that the vast majority of Juicy Couture’s retail workers will not ever get one single paid sick day, health insurance, or paid vacation.”

A representative from Juicy Couture told RH Reality Check that the company has “no such policy with regard to employee hours nor have any decisions been made about how to best manage ACA requirements” and that it is “still reviewing the ACA’s impact and how to best continue to provide meaningful benefits options to our managers and associates.” However, across the country, employers are choosing to cut worker hours in order to save money and dodge requirements in the ACA. The New York Times reported late last year about the “part-time life” that an increasing number of employees are living. In retail specifically, over the past two decades, many major retailers went from 70 to 80 percent of staff members being employed full-time to 70 percent being employed part-time. Just 21 percent of part-time workers in the industry are likely to receive benefits, compared to 65 percent of full-time workers.

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Running on empathy

From Waging Non-Violence:

April 20, 2013

I started running after a bad break-up. With more than a decade of relationship over, there was a lot of uncertainty and questions. How to heal? How to hold on to friendships forged in our couplehood now that I was single? Who was I apart from this person? What next? What is my life about? Where would I live? What would I do? How could I turn anger and hurt into new possibility, direction and meaning? Incessant, pressing, urgent questions….

Step by step, breath by breath, mile by mile, the answers came. Or was it that what came was the space for these questions to hang? At first, reaching the end of my block seemed like a major accomplishment. Soon it was the edge of Red Hook, Brooklyn, where I was living. Then I ventured further — Prospect Park to the Manhattan Bridge and then over and then back, and then Central Park. I did not listen to music. I listened to my breath. I counted to 20 over and over and over again. I counted dogs and trees and parked cars. I prayed, and I asked my questions.

I trained for the Hartford half marathon in October 2009. I have a vivid memory of crossing mile nine in that race and thinking, “I have never run this far before in my life. I am here. I am doing this.” Crossing the finish line a while later, I broke down in tears. I was so proud of myself and so surprised. I was ready for my new life. I was done grieving what was gone and ready for what was next. The empty spaces had filled in with answers, and with new questions.

Running led me to the New York Catholic Worker and to the end of my job as a Senior Program Associate of the Arms and Security Initiative — a project of the New America Foundation. Running led me out of Brooklyn, out of old bad habits, into a new sense of mission and purpose and commitment to service and resistance. But, perhaps best of all, running led me into love.

My husband Patrick and I fell in love running. We restarted the War Resisters League Track Club. In the 1970s and 1980s, peace activist runners entered the Marine Marathon, the Army Ten Miler and other military sponsored runs wearing peace t-shirts and carrying banners (when they could). Bill Ofenlach, who ran the Army Ten Miler with the club in 1988 (and probably did pretty well), told me, “Long runs teach patience and are good preparation for a long vigil, physically and mentally. It is also a welcome relief from interminable meetings.”

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Study: Belief in Free-Market Economics Linked to Distrust of Science

From Alternet:

Researchers also linked climate skepticism to general conspiracism.

By Steven Hsieh
April 22, 2013

People who support free-market economics are more likely to reject proven science, according to a study published in Psychological Science last month.

Examining 1,377 visitors to climate change denial blogs, researchers found that belief in a hands-off approach to economics predicted denial that human activity causes climate change, a fact accepted by 97 percent of scientists. The study’s authors—which include Stephan Lewandowsky of the University of Western Australia and Klaus Oberauer of the University of Zurich—noted that the anti-science movement is especially prevalent in the United States.

“The conspiracist ideation that all of the world’s scientific academies have conspired together to create a hoax known as global warming has found traction in American mainstream politics,” the study reads.

Many have reported on climate skepticism’s connection to big industry and the American right. Bolstered by prominent conservative think tanks, the climate change denying faction reaches high-ranking lawmakers who support deregulation and block movement toward a sustainable future. Perhaps most notorious is Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who penned a book calling climate change science The Greatest Hoax. But Inhofe, the ranking member of the Senate Environment Committee, represents just the most extreme in a legislative body that doesn’t acknowledge the urgency of our warming planet. According to the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, the 112 th Congress introduced more than 100 bills related to climate change, but only passed two.

Lewandowsky and his colleagues’ research also found supporters of right-wing economics tend to reject “other established scientific findings, such as the fact that HIV causes AIDs and that smoking causes lung cancer.” Additionally, researchers found a strong link between climate change deniers and conspiracists in general, such as the 9/11 “truthers” movement and those who believe NASA staged the Apollo 11 moon landing.

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Roundup, An Herbicide, Could Be Linked To Parkinson’s, Cancer And Other Health Issues, Study Shows

From Huffington Post:


Heavy use of the world’s most popular herbicide, Roundup, could be linked to a range of health problems and diseases, including Parkinson’s, infertility and cancers, according to a new study.

The peer-reviewed report, published last week in the scientific journal Entropy, said evidence indicates that residues of “glyphosate,” the chief ingredient in Roundup weed killer, which is sprayed over millions of acres of crops, has been found in food.

Those residues enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease, according to the report, authored by Stephanie Seneff, a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Anthony Samsel, a retired science consultant from Arthur D. Little, Inc. Samsel is a former private environmental government contractor as well as a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body,” the study says.

We “have hit upon something very important that needs to be taken seriously and further investigated,” Seneff said.

Environmentalists, consumer groups and plant scientists from several countries have warned that heavy use of glyphosate is causing problems for plants, people and animals.

The EPA is conducting a standard registration review of glyphosate and has set a deadline of 2015 for determining if glyphosate use should be limited. The study is among many comments submitted to the agency.

Monsanto is the developer of both Roundup herbicide and a suite of crops that are genetically altered to withstand being sprayed with the Roundup weed killer.

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The West, Texas, explosion shows the deadly effect of profit before safety

From The Guardian UK:

Poor regulation of the West Fertilizer plant likely contributed to 15 deaths – just as 13 US workers die at their jobs every single day, Thursday 25 April 2013

The Boston Marathon bombing and its aftermath has dominated the nation’s headlines. Yet, another series of explosions that happened two days later and took four times the number of lives, has gotten a fraction of the coverage. It was the worst industrial accident in years. But to call it an accident ignores that it was preventable, and was quite possibly a crime, as is common with so many dangerous workplaces.

The first call came in to the 911 dispatcher at 7.29pm on Wednesday 17 April. A woman at a playground noticed a fire across the railroad tracks, at the West Fertilizer Co facility, in the small town of West, Texas, near Waco. The local volunteer fire department was mobilized. Less than 25 minutes later, a massive explosion leveled the plant, sending shock waves, debris and fire across West, ultimately killing 15 people, among them a local EMT, eight volunteer firefighters and a Dallas fire captain who was visiting his sons and joined the firefighting effort.

The call came over the emergency radio system:

“We need every ambulance we can get at this point. A bomb just went off inside here. It’s pretty bad. We’ve got a lot of firemen down.”

Another call followed, with moaning in the background:

“The rest home has been seriously damaged. We have many people down. Please respond.”

A mushroom cloud climbed high into the sky. The explosion registered 2.1 on the Richter scale, the same as a small earthquake. 911 calls flooded in, with people reporting a bomb, many injured and others engulfed in a toxic cloud. Sixty to 80 houses were leveled.

One week later, the fires are out, most of the funerals have been held, but major questions remain unanswered. A team of up to 70 investigators is probing the source of the explosion. Reuters reported last Saturday that the plant had on site 2,700 tons of ammonium nitrate. This is 1,350 times the amount that would require a facility to self-report its stockpile to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Ammonium nitrate is a fertilizer used in industrial farming worldwide, and is stable when properly stored. It can be highly explosive when ignited, especially when mixed with fuel, as Timothy McVeigh demonstrated with the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. West Fertilizer Co never reported its ammonium nitrate to DHS.

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