If you Want to Lobby for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, Stay Home

From TransAdvocate: http://www.transadvocate.com/if-you-want-to-lobby-for-the-employment-non-discrimination-act-stay-home.htm

April 26, 2013

Reposted with permission

I recently received an email from Mara Keisling asking me to join the:

National Center for Transgender Equality and the Transgender People of Color Coalition in Washington, DC on June 17, 2013 to lobby for basic job protections and fair treatment in the U.S. immigration system.”

In years past, the lobby days put on by the National Transgender Advocacy Coalition, GenderPAC, and the National Center for Transgender Equality, were invaluable in educating both citizen lobbyists and the US Congress about the issues transgender people face.  I’ve lobbied Congress and the tools I learned there were invaluable.

But, that being said, I didn’t need to go to Washington DC to do it and neither do you. Lobbying Congress shouldn’t be just a day of the year, it should be done year round. If you want to lobby Congress, your Senators and Representatives have offices in your state. Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on hotels, airfare, and fancy galas, you simply need to pay for fuel to get you your representative’s offices. Take a friend next week, take a family member next month. Make sure people in their home offices see the faces of people who will be effected by this legislation. Congress doesn’t need educated. They need to hear from you, loud and often.

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Yale Health extends sex-reassignment coverage to students

From Yale Daily News:  http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2013/04/26/yale-health-extends-sex-reassignment/

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Yale Health Plan will now cover sex-reassignment surgeries for students, joining fellow Ivy League schools Harvard, Brown and the University of Pennsylvania in offering insurance for the procedure.

The extended insurance — which was granted to faculty and staff in 2011 and to unionized workers in January — covers expenses related to a medically necessary sex-reassignment surgery “subject to preauthorization based on widely accepted standards of care.” The coverage change will go into effect Aug. 1 and is part of multiple updates to the student plan announced by Yale Health in a Thursday email to the Yale College community.

Although the surgery is infrequently used, the extended coverage is a significant signal to potential applicants that Yale is committed to providing equal-access health care, said Grace Zimmerly ’13, an advocate for sex-reassignment surgery coverage.

“While Yale was not among the first schools to repeal its coverage exclusion, we hope that this represents a commitment to catch up to our peers in terms of offering transgender students an equitable student life and health care experience,” said Gabriel Murchison ’14, a member of the Resource Alliance for Gender Equity.

Each sex-reassignment case will be approved on an individual basis, but Yale Health will use commonly accepted guidelines, which generally require a mental health assessment and a period of hormonal therapy and/or living in the desired gender role, University spokesman Tom Conroy said.

“This additional student coverage follows a period of several years when similar coverage was provided to Yale employees,” Conroy said. “It made sense, after appropriate study, to bring the student coverage in line with Yale’s belief that, in some circumstances, sex-reassignment surgery is medically necessary and appropriate.”

Murchison said he considers the coverage “reasonably comprehensive,” but added that students considering the surgery must have access to qualified mental health professionals and not be “coerced” into hormone therapy, a typical requirement for sex-reassignment surgery.

In addition to the sex-reassignment change, two revisions to mental health policies will remove a waiting period previously required for inpatient care and will increase mental health coverage for children of students, though outpatient counseling — which includes psychiatry visits, therapy and other services for students not admitted to Yale Health facilities — has not been changed.

Continue reading at:  http://yaledailynews.com/blog/2013/04/26/yale-health-extends-sex-reassignment/

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TX Man: After 34 Years My Partner’s Sister Forced Us Apart, Took Our Home Because We Weren’t Married

From The New Civil Rights Movement:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/2-texas-man-after-34-years-my-partners-sister-legally-took-our-home-because-we-werent-married/legal-issues/2013/04/29/66089

by >David Badash
on April 29, 2013

A Texas man says he and his partner were together for 34 years but his partner’s sister has now forced them apart, taken their home, and his partner’s finances — and done it legally because they weren’t married. For the last six years his partner, Jim, who is older, suffered from Alzheimer’s. Jim’s estranged sister, Lon Watts writes on Facebook, was able to take their home and Jim’s finances through the courts by filing for guardianship — despite Lon having power of attorney.

“She put him in a Nursing Home and had criminal trespass orders against me to keep me away from him,” Lon Watts writes:

I’LL NEVER BE ABLE TO SEE HIM AGAIN! She got his bank account from Social Security Disability and sold his house out from under me. I had 2 weeks to vacate our home of 12 years.

If we were EQUAL in the eyes of the law we would be together till the end. But as it stands in Texas, a money hungry greedy relative was able to steal our life and toss me out as trash to pad her pocketbook. I pray God has mercy on her soul for her evil deeds. I am content knowing the world is coming around to acknowledge that ALL HUMANS ARE CREATED EQUAL and SHOULD HAVE EQUAL RIGHTS.

Lon’s story has been shared almost 3000 times on Facebook and has more than 3000 likes. Sadly, Lon and Jim’s story, and others like it, are the exact reason why marriage must be extended to all same-sex couples across the entire nation.

Anyone who claims needs and rights of same-sex couples can be protected through some legal forms is not only mistaken, but wholly wrong and spreading false information.

Continue reading at:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/2-texas-man-after-34-years-my-partners-sister-legally-took-our-home-because-we-werent-married/legal-issues/2013/04/29/66089

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Rapists should not get custody

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/04/29/rapists_should_not_get_custody/

A shocking number of states allow custody rights to men who impregnate their victims. One state is saying “enough”


Imagine that after one of the most harrowing experiences a person could endure, a woman not only found herself pregnant but also made the bold, difficult choice to raise the child. Imagine next that her decision would then give her rapist an opportunity to remain firmly in her life, in one of the most intimate of relationships.

Imagine he wanted – and legally had the right to be – that child’s father. It’s a very real scenario, all across America. But in one state, that may soon be changing.

As a riveting CNN story last summer, at the height of “legitimate rape” fever, illuminated, a stunning majority of states – 31 of them – offer some form of visitation and custody rights for men who impregnate their rape victims. And it’s not just the threat of having to co-parent with one’s assailant that’s a nightmare for many victims — it’s the ugly opportunism it inspires. As attorney Shauna Prewitt, whose daughter was the product of a sexual assault, wrote back then, “When no law prohibits a rapist from exercising these rights, a woman may feel forced to bargain away her legal rights to a criminal trial in exchange for the rapist dropping the bid to have access to her child.” A baby can become a bargaining chip.

But a new bill before Colorado lawmakers would block rapists from exerting parental rights. Republican state Rep. Lois Landgraf, the House sponsor of the bill, is seeking to end a system whereby victims must still “face some relationship with the rapist.”

A 2010 Georgetown report on “Giving Birth to a Rapist’s Child” put the estimate of the percentage of women who carry and keep the children conceived via rape at between 32.3 percent and as high as 64 percent. And though the bill, which has already passed unanimously out of the state Senate, would not change the game for women who are still struggling through the Colorado legal system with their children; it would apply to convictions after July 1 of this year.

Protection for victims would not be automatic, either. Victims would instead be able to “file a petition in juvenile court to prevent future contact with the parent who committed the sexual assault.” But it represents a move toward far greater protection all around – a firm stance that convicted rapists are “not relieved of any obligation to pay child support unless waived by the victim,” while also granting victims the right to “a no-contact protection” if they wish. And because justice doesn’t always take place in a courtroom, the bill also proposes a task force to investigate parental rights when there have been allegations of sexual assault without a conviction.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/04/29/rapists_should_not_get_custody/

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A Desperate Situation at Guantánamo: Over 130 Prisoners on Hunger Strike, Dozens Being Force-Fed

Hunger strikes are a desperate action taken by people with no other means to call attention to their plight.

I used to be ignorant of American History.  I believed we were a good nation.

Over the years I have learned we are a blood thirsty genocidal nation, one that wages imperialistic wars and enslaves people and nations for the benefit of the rich who control corporations.

Over the last ten years I have come to realize we are a nation that thinks nothing of torturing prisoners of war.  We deny them all rights, water board them, destroy their humanity and more.

We have a history of doing this.

We did it to the Suffragists during the 1910s.

Now we do it to the prisoners in Guantanamo.

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Saudi Arabia blocks climate change from UN poverty goals

From Responding to Climate Change:   http://www.rtcc.org/saudi-arabia-blocks-climate-change-from-un-poverty-goals/

By John Parnell
26 April 2013

Saudi Arabia is leading calls for climate change to be omitted from the UN’s 2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

At an SDG meeting in New York last week attended by over 70 nations the Saudis, together with fellow oil producers Venezuela and the UAE called for discussions of climate change to be separated from those on energy.

The three nations feature in the top seven of proven oil reserves worldwide, and have opposed targets to encourage clean energy over fossil fuels, despite evidence that climate change will exacerbate global hunger and poverty.

“Saudi Arabia don’t want climate change in the same session yet alone the same day as energy. They don’t really want it in there at all,” Stakeholder Forum’s Farooq Ullah, who attended the meeting, told RTCC.

“They oppose climate and energy being associated with one another and say energy [targets] should only deal with energy access, which clearly indicates they don’t want to set goals around the sustainability of the source of energy,” he added.

The SDGs were established at the Rio+20 summit and are set to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which end in 2015.

Their main objective is poverty alleviation but the focus on sustainability could add momentum to climate-friendly development at a time when countries are starting negotiations over a legally binding emissions deal also set to be agreed in 2015.

“Climate change is going to be a struggle in the SDGs in general because of the UNFCCC, the UN’s climate change body,” said Ullah.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rtcc.org/saudi-arabia-blocks-climate-change-from-un-poverty-goals/

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Northeast US Ocean Temperatures Highest on Record: Report

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/04/29-6

Temperature spikes causing drastic shifts in ecosystem

Jacob Chamberlain

Ocean surface temperatures off the Northeast U.S. coast last year were the highest in 150 years, according to a new report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Comparing measurements taken since 1854, the scientists from NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC) said that sea surface temperatures between Cape Hatteras and the Canadian border, the Northeast Shelf Large Marine Ecosystem, reached a record breaking average high of 57.2 degrees Fahrenheit last year.

The shifting temperatures are having a drastic impact on the under-water ecosystems of the region, the NEFSC reports, with over half of 36 fish stocks in the northwest Atlantic Ocean shifting northward in the past 40 years.

The temperature increase in 2012 alone was the highest jump in temperature ever recorded, according to the NEFSC, which analyzed data from satellite remote-sensing data and long-term ship-board measurements.

Bill Trotter at the Bangor Daily News reports that recent studies have shown a correlation between warmer waters in the Gulf of Maine and bacterial outbreaks in bivalves and in sea lice infestations; a northeasterly shift of cod in the gulf into colder waters; declining shrimp catches and a recent “glut” of soft-shell lobsters last summer “that caused a plummet in prices lobstermen were receiving for their catch.”

The NEFSC reports:

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/04/29-6

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Global carbon dioxide levels set to pass 400ppm milestone

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/apr/29/global-carbon-dioxide-levels

The concentration of carbon in the atmosphere over the next few days is expected to hit record levels

The Guardian, Monday 29 April 2013

The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has reached 399.72 parts per million (ppm) and is likely to pass the symbolically important 400ppm level for the first time in the next few days.

Readings at the US government’s Earth Systems Research laboratory in Hawaii, are not expected to reach their 2013 peak until mid May, but were recorded at a daily average of 399.72ppm on 25 April. The weekly average stood at 398.5 on Monday.

Hourly readings above 400ppm have been recorded six times in the last week, and on occasion, at observatories in the high Arctic. But the Mauna Loa station, sited at 3,400m and far away from major pollution sources in the Pacific Ocean, has been monitoring levels for more than 50 years and is considered the gold standard.

“I wish it weren’t true but it looks like the world is going to blow through the 400ppm level without losing a beat. At this pace we’ll hit 450ppm within a few decades,” said Ralph Keeling, a geologist with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography which operates the Hawaiian observatory.

“Each year, the concentration of CO2 at Mauna Loa rises and falls in a sawtooth fashion, with the next year higher than the year before. The peak of the sawtooth typically comes in May. If CO2 levels don’t top 400ppm in May 2013, they almost certainly will next year,” Keeling said.

CO2 atmospheric levels have been steadily rising for 200 years, registering around 280ppm at the start of the industrial revolution and 316ppm in 1958 when the Mauna Loa observatory started measurements. The increase in the global burning of fossil fuels is the primary cause of the increase.

Continue reading at:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/apr/29/global-carbon-dioxide-levels

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