Friday Night Fun and Culture: Melanie Safka

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Nicole Maines, Transgender Student, Goes To Maine High Court

From The Huffington Post:


BANGOR, Maine — Maine’s highest court heard arguments Wednesday over whether transgender students can use the bathroom of their choice, and the girl at the heart of the case said she hoped justices would recognize the right of children to attend school without being “bullied” by peers or administrators.

Nicole Maines, now 15, watched lawyers argue over whether her rights were violated when the Orono school district required her to use a staff bathroom after there was a complaint about her using the girls’ bathroom.

Maines said after the hearing in Bangor that she hopes the Supreme Judicial Court will ensure no one else experiences what she went though.

“I hope they understood how important it is for students to be able to go to school and get an education and have fun and make friends, and not have to worry about being bullied by students or the administration, and to be accepted for who they are,” said Maines, who now attends a high school in southern Maine.

Her family and the Maine Human Rights Commission sued in 2009 over the school’s actions, but a state judge ruled that the school district acted within its discretion. Maines is a biological male who from an early age identified as a girl.

At issue is whether the school violated the Maine Human Rights Act, which bars discrimination based on sex or sexual orientation. State law also requires separate bathrooms for boys and girls in schools.

Melissa Hewey, lawyer for the school and school district, said afterward it should be up to the Legislature to clarify the issue.

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California: Bill supporting transgender student advances

From The San Diego Gay and Lesbian News:

SACRAMENTO — The California Senate Education Committee today passed AB 1266, the School Success and Opportunity Act, a bill that provides crucial support for transgender students, by a vote of 5-2.

The bill would ensure that California public schools understand their responsibility for the success and well-being of all students, including transgender students, and will allow transgender students to fully participate in all school activities, programs and facilities. AB 1266 is authored by Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, and is co-authored by Senator Mark Leno, Senator Ricardo Lara and Assemblymember Toni Atkins of San Diego.

AB 1266 would ensure that students who are transgender have equal access to facilities and activities like sports teams that match their gender.

“All I want to do is go to school and have the same opportunity to succeed as everyone else,” said Ashton Lee, a 16-year-old transgender boy from Manteca who came to Sacramento with his mother to testify at the hearing. “I just want to be treated the same as all the other boys, but my school forces me to take P.E. in a class of all girls and live as someone I’m not. Every day in that class leaves me feeling isolated and alone, making it extremely difficult to learn.”

The Los Angeles Unified School District, which is the second largest school district in the country and serves more than 670,000 students, successfully implemented a policy virtually identical to AB 1266 in 2005 to ensure that no student is left out.

“Families matter in LAUSD. We’ve worked with students and families closely to ensure that our policies related to gender identity are successful, welcomed by students, and supported by parents,” said Judy Chiasson, program coordinator for Human Relations, Diversity and Equity at the Los Angeles Unified School District. “In addition to longstanding policies banning bullying, harassment, and discrimination, LAUSD has had specific policies banning discrimination based on gender identity for nearly a decade. We have firsthand experience recognizing and valuing the diversity of school communities, which ultimately enhances and enriches the lives of all our students.”

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Waiting for the Supremes: There Is ‘More Than Marriage’ on the Equality Agenda

From The Huffington Post:


While we await, hunkered down and hardly breathing, the Supreme Court marriage decisions later this month, let’s not forget there is more to freedom and equality than the right to marry and receive federal relationship recognition. There remain all the civil liberty and economic empowerment issues that attach to being an American citizen, whether one is gay, trans, or queer in the broadest sense, and whether or not one is in a relationship, for better or for worse.

This week there have been two campaigns focused on individual liberty, one a social media campaign #morethanmarriage to educate and inform, and to lay the groundwork for the post-SCOTUS world. The other a legal case, Howe v. Haslam brought to the Tennessee Court of Appeals, the outcome of which may have huge, broad repercussions for people across the fifty states.

There have been a number of organizations working on aspects of the LGBT civil rights campaign alongside the marriage campaigns, including some organizations such as HRC and our research and legal advocates, which try to cover most if not all of the bases, if not always at the same time. Laboring for anti-discrimination laws are, first and foremost, local and state organizations, including my Maryland organization, Gender Rights Maryland, while the only national organization dedicated to the employment discrimination issue is Freedom to Work. There have been social media campaigns, with petitions on, and now the latest campaign, from the Transgender Law Center in San Francisco, called #morethanmarriage. While heavy on the trans rights aspect, as one would expect, it is also pushing for anti-discrimination laws to protect gender-conforming gay persons as well. The effort is to not only educate the larger American community that the LGBT community doesn’t have the basic rights most Americans take for granted, and most Americans believe we already have, but to educate the gay community so they recognize that marriage equality, while very significant practically and symbolically, is not the be all and end all of equality.

In support of such broad protections, Lambda Legal has filed an amicus for a case pending in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Terveer v Billington. (The Librarian of Congress, Mr. Billington, can’t seem to avoid getting into trouble). The significance of this case is that it is seeking to have sexual orientation discrimination recognized as “sex discrimination” under the law as set out in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This case parallels the efforts of Professor Feldblum of the EEOC to have the Commission recognize sexual orientation discrimination as a subset of sex discrimination, just as it already recognizes gender identity and expression discrimination as a subset of sex discrimination.

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Civil Rights for Transgender People

From The New York Times:

Published: June 12, 2013

New York stood for equality by approving same-sex marriage two years ago. It is time now for state lawmakers to extend basic civil rights protections to transgender people. The 2002 state statute that bars discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, housing, education, credit and public accommodations does not explicitly cover transgender people.

Some jurisdictions, including New York City and Suffolk and Westchester Counties, have enacted protections. But in much of the state, people who have had sex-change surgery and others who do not identify with their birth gender can still be denied a job, shelter, credit or access to services because of who they are.

A measure to outlaw discrimination based on gender identity or expression — the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, or Genda, sponsored by Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and Senator Daniel Squadronpassed the Democratic-led Assembly in April for the sixth time. There is a good chance it would also pass the Senate, with nearly all Democrats and some Republicans voting in favor. The challenge is getting the bill to the floor for an up-or-down vote before the end of the legislative session, scheduled on June 20.

Senator Jeffrey Klein, the Democratic leader in the Senate’s coalition leadership, must insist on a vote. He should tell Senator Dean Skelos, the coalition’s Republican leader, that bottling up bills like this one is not part of their power-sharing deal. It would help if Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a supporter of the bill, would commit political capital to enacting the legislation before the session ends. Sixteen states — including New Jersey and Connecticut — and the District of Columbia have enacted anti-discrimination protections covering transgender people. New York should not lag on this important civil rights issue.

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ACT NOW — Transgender Rights for Ireland

From Huffington Post:


Today, I am a woman — plainly and simply female. My passport says so; my driver’s license says so; my bank details say so. My children, my parents, work colleagues, neighbours and friends, all leave me in no doubt that I am a woman. Because now that’s how they see me. That’s how they treat me. But this has not always been the case.

I grew up as a transgender woman in County Wicklow, Ireland. A small town, 30 miles south of Dublin, population circa 3000, not unlike most other towns in Ireland in the ’60s and ’70s, it was conservative and parochial. Society was heavily influenced by the Catholic Church and the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association). Our Schools were run by religious organizations. My family was deeply rooted in that community.

So to be something different in the ’70s in Ireland was just not acceptable. In 1977, my father told me that being trans was just a “phase you’re going through.” I was (he was?) sure that being trans would never be understood. But by the late 1970s Irish society was changing. There was a deep questioning of old ideas and values, and an active commitment to social causes.

The past has been a mixed bag for Ireland: we survived a harsh colonialist rule and sought to redefine ourselves, only to end up entrenched in conservative ideology. These days, oppression and prejudice resonate with the Irish in a very particular way. We’re seen as fair, as welcoming and often altruistic. Our record on human rights work — in Ireland and abroad — is strong.

I have always been drawn to the ideals of those who wrote Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising Proclamation: “The republic… declare[s] its resolve to pursue the happiness and prosperity of the whole nation and all its parts, cherishing all children of the nation equally…” Yet this equality has been elusive. Trans people in Ireland face many challenges, including the basic right to be recognised for who we fundamentally are.

Changing my documentation from male to female has taken explanation and argument. It required evidence, and then more evidence, more letters and even more undignified, humiliating questions about some of the very basic facts about my personal life and more importantly about my body.

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Right Wing Extremist Republican Marco Rubio Says It Should Be Legal To Fire Someone For Being Gay

From Think Progress:

By Adam Peck and Scott Keyes
on Jun 13, 2013

WASHINGTON, DC — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who is touted as a top GOP presidential prospect in 2016, thinks it should be legal to fire someone for their sexual orientation.

ThinkProgress spoke with the Florida Senator at the opening luncheon of the annual Faith and Freedom Forum on Thursday and asked him about the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill to make discrimination against LGBT individuals illegal across the country.

Though Rubio bristles at the notion of being called a “bigot,” he showed no willingness to help protect LGBT workers from discrimination. “I’m not for any special protections based on orientation,” Rubio told ThinkProgress.

KEYES: The Senate this summer is going to be taking up the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which makes it illegal to fire someone for being gay. Do you know if you’ll be supporting that?

RUBIO: I haven’t read the legislation. By and large I think all Americans should be protected but I’m not for any special protections based on orientation.

KEYES: What about on race or gender?

RUBIO: Well that’s established law.

KEYES: But not for sexual orientation?

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Terror Bytes: Edward Snowden and the Architecture of Oppression

From Truth Dig:

By Amy Goodman
Jun 12, 2013

Edward Snowden revealed himself this week as the whistleblower responsible for perhaps the most significant release of secret government documents in U.S. history. The former CIA staffer and analyst for the private intelligence consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton spoke to journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Barton Gellman in Hong Kong, providing convincing evidence that the U.S. government, primarily the National Security Agency, is conducting massive, unconstitutional surveillance globally, and perhaps most controversially, on almost all, if not all, U.S. citizens.

The chorus of establishment condemnation was swift and unrelenting. Jeffrey Toobin, legal pundit, quickly blogged that Snowden is “a grandiose narcissist who deserves to be in prison.” New York Times columnists chimed in, with Thomas Friedman writing, “I don’t believe that Edward Snowden, the leaker of all this secret material, is some heroic whistle-blower.” His colleague David Brooks engaged in speculative psychoanalysis of Snowden, opining, “[t]hough obviously terrifically bright, he could not successfully work his way through the institution of high school. Then he failed to navigate his way through community college.”

Snowden’s educational path has attracted significant attention. U.S. senators oh-so-gently questioned NSA Director Gen. Keith B. Alexander and others at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, including liberal Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, echoing Brooks’ incredulity that someone with a GED could possibly hoodwink the entire U.S. intelligence apparatus. Alexander confessed, “In the IT arena, in the cyber arena, some of these people have skills to operate networks. That was his job for the most part; he had great skills in the area. The rest of it you’ve hit on the head. We do need to go back and look at the processes – where we went wrong.”

Legendary whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg countered the criticism, writing, “In my estimation, there has not been in American history a more important leak than Edward Snowden’s release of NSA material—and that definitely includes the Pentagon Papers 40 years ago. Snowden’s whistleblowing gives us the possibility to roll back a key part of what has amounted to an ‘executive coup’ against the U.S. Constitution.”

Snowden’s historic leak revealed what he calls an “architecture of oppression”—a series of top-secret surveillance programs that go far beyond what has been publicly known to date. The first was an order from the U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court requesting a division of the phone giant Verizon to hand over “all call detail records” for calls from the U.S. to locations abroad, or all calls within the U.S., including local calls. In other words, metadata for every phone call that Verizon Business Network Services processed was to be delivered to the NSA on a daily basis. Another document was a slide presentation revealing a program dubbed “PRISM,” which allegedly empowers NSA snoops access to all the private data stored by Internet giants like Microsoft, AOL, Skype, Google, Apple and Facebook, including email, video chats, photos, files transfers and more.

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Manning Chose Documents for Release as Selectively as Snowden

From Reader Supported News:

By Bill Simpich
12 June 13

Journalists like Raf Sanchez of the Daily Telegraph claim that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was more selective in his releases than Pfc. Bradley Manning. With no evidence, Sanchez claims that Manning “at some point simply threw open the box and hoped for the best.” Yes, Manning released 700,000 documents, but that was not simply a data dump. It is the quality and nature of the documents that has to be analyzed.

Snowden has revealed two highly secret NSA surveillance programs, with the promise of more to come. Ellsberg points out that Manning’s documents were at a lower level of classification than the Pentagon Papers, which exposed Johnson administration policy decisions on Vietnam. Manning’s documents focused on war crimes and corruption at the ground level. His revelations about the Tunisian government led to the Arab Spring. Ellsberg says that Manning’s exposure of American war crimes led to the Iraqi government refusing to grant American troops immunity and ensuring the total withdrawal of American combat troops from Iraq.

If reporters like Sanchez would take a few minutes out to review the court record, they’d realize that Bradley Manning was very selective in choosing the documents that he released to Wikileaks. Manning also knew that Wikileaks would exercise good judgment in catching anything he might have missed. Wikileaks was very careful in reviewing the documents again and redacting appropriate passages that might endanger individuals. Wikileaks asked the US government to go through the leaked documents to make sure that no innocent people were identified, but was rebuffed. No one has shown personal harm due to Manning’s revelations. Even Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates called the effect of WikiLeaks’ releases on U.S. foreign relations “fairly modest,” as every government in the world knows that the American government “leaks like a sieve.”

I remain stunned by how the traditional media has ignored the opening statement of Bradley Manning’s defense counsel, David Coombs. A good lawyer doesn’t say anything during opening statement that can’t be proven. If you go out on a limb and can’t make your case, you lose your credibility. Coombs is a very meticulous attorney. Coombs told Judge Denise Lind that Manning was highly selective in the documents he chose for release. “He had access to literally hundred of millions of documents as an all-source analyst, and these were the documents he released.” Coombs stated that Manning selected information that he believed could not be used against the United States or by a foreign nation. (Transcript, 6/3/13, pp. 78, 87)

There is the “Collateral Murder” video, with its gunsight footage displaying civilian adults and children being attacked by men in an Apache helicopter who laughed as they committed cold-blooded murder. Manning knew that Reuters had lost two journalists in this incident and had made an FOIA request for a copy of the video, and that the United States had lied in its response two years later by indicating that no copy of the video was available. (Transcript, 6/3/13, at pp. 80-81).

There are the Afghan War logs/Iraq War logs, kept by the soldiers after clashes with enemy forces. These clashes were known to the other side and were hardly secret. Coombs said that the logs chosen by Manning never contained the names of intelligence sources, and that the information that he provided was all “stale” as it was more than 72 hours old. (Transcript, 6/3/13, pp. 78-79)

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The Meta Question

From The Nation:

What is the NSA doing with your metadata?

Jaron Lanier
June 12, 2013

Ever since we learned about PRISM, the NSA’s secret project to collect metadata on everyone by tapping into commercial online services, we’ve been confounded by a tangle of intangible clashing values. We are asked to balance “preventing terrorism” against “protecting privacy.” It is hard to demonstrate what terrorism would have occurred without preventative measures, and privacy is as much a feeling as a circumstance.A hypothetical versus an emotion: the invisibles clash at the coliseum. There is a danger that this crucial controversy is being framed in so blurry a manner that it will blend into the wind and blow away. Maybe reflecting on the terms will bring the situation into focus.


Metadata systems are said to gather only tags and skeletal information, but not “content.” The distinction is instrumental rather than substantial. The line between the two can shift over time. When someone retweets to a group of people, that generates only metadata and no data. In that case, which is a common one, the distinction becomes meaningless.
Metadata is the aspect of data that programs can most reliably “understand.” It’s the topical stuff that is regimented into a standard structure, like the blanks filled in on a form. In order to treat real-world events as metadata, certain actions of people, rather than their expressions, are used to fill in those blanks. For instance, programs cannot understand the meaning of ordinary conversation, but a program can log when a call is made, and to whom.


What we mean these days when we talk about security is preventing terrorist attacks. I was close by on 9/11, so I understand, though I wonder if we’ve become too narrow in our sensibility. Nonetheless, keeping to our nation’s narrowed sensibility, what can metadata do to prevent attacks?

I have no direct knowledge of PRISM, so I can only assume that what has been leaked about it is accurate. If this is so, then PRISM is probably like the many other metadata systems I have known in other spheres. In commerce, where there is at least as much talent and money as in the intelligence game, metadata’s primary strength is not investigative.

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Edward Snowden: The Asymmetry of Courage

From Common Dreams:

by Robert Shetterly

One of the ironies of warfare is that an apparently vastly superior force can be defeated by an apparently much weaker one when the weaker force refuses to meet the more powerful on its own terms, play by its rules, square off army to army, submit to punch and counterpunch. A combination of strategy and tactics designed by the weaker force to enervate the morale, confidence and finances of the powerful may prove decisive — as it did for the American revolutionaries against the British, North Vietnamese & Viet Cong against the U.S., or the Afghanis against the Soviets. In 1975 Andrew Mack first used the term “asymmetric warfare” to describe this phenomenon in an article called Why Big Nations Lose Small Wars. A materially weaker force with higher motivation — they may be fighting for their own land — and greater perseverance may prevail. The weaker force may be beleaguered by the horrible and high tech weaponry of exorbitant power — stealth bombers, napalm, cluster bombs, cruise missiles and drones, depleted uranium, helicopter gun ships and satellite surveillance — but it manages to dodge and absorb, go underground, patiently wait to strike an exposed weakness.

I was thinking about asymmetry this week as the story of Edward Snowden unfolded. This story, one young man pitted against our national security state, is an extreme asymmetry, but the disparity is not between lesser and greater violent forces. And, for that reason, it could not properly be called a David versus Goliath confrontation. David was small but armed with sling & stone. Edward’s only “weapons” are courage and truth.

In asymmetric warfare, the powerful say, “Come out and fight on our terms! We’ll show you who’s stronger!” The weaker say, “Not on your life! We plan to win, not commit suicide.”

Conversely, in a contest of asymmetric courage, the lone whistleblower says to the powerful institutions, “Come out and fight on my terms — ethics, courage, truth, law!” And there is deafening silence from the powerful institutions because with all their secret knowledge and secret money, their special forces and spies, their torture and secret prisons, they have not courage. They have not ethics, truth or law. They are muscled up with conformity, with arrogance, with self-congratulatory winks and nods. They have the power to easily crush the person of courage, to discredit him in the media, to arrest and convict him in a kangaroo court, to torture him, disappear him, force feed him. They have secret protocol and secret policy, the power to change the law to legalize atrocity. But they have no courage. They have the pathetic vanity of a steroid-pumped-up robots flexing in front of a mirror. With satisfied smirks they ask rhetorically, “Who’s the strongest in the world?” But they have no courage.

Thomas Jefferson said, “When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.” He could have been commenting on the situation of Edward Snowden or any one of so many recent whistleblowers. People fear the government when it secretly and lawlessly insinuates itself into the fabric of their lives with the ever present threat that each person could be plucked out of that fabric with no recourse. This is done in the name of security. But a government that spies on its own people actually prefers fear to security. Or, simply, the security of fear.  There should be no trade off or balancing act, no compromise, between our freedoms and our security. Our freedoms are our security. Sacrificing our privacy, which is our autonomy as individuals, for the sake of security is like willingly agreeing to be half a slave.

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Chris Pyle, Whistleblower on CIA Domestic Spying in 70s, Says Be Wary of Attacks on NSA’s Critics

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A Socialism for the 21st Century

From Truth Out:

By Richard D Wolff
Friday, 07 June 2013

Capitalism has stopped “delivering the goods” for quite a while now, especially in its older bases (Europe, North America and Japan). Real wage stagnation, deepening wealth and income inequalities, unsustainable debt levels and export of jobs have been prevailing trends in those areas. The global crisis since 2007 only accelerated those trends. In response, more has happened than Keynesianism returning to challenge neoliberalism and critiques returning to challenge uncritical celebrations of capitalism. Capitalism’s development has raised a basic question again: What alternative economic system might be necessary and preferable for societies determined to do better than capitalism? That old mole, socialism, has thus returned for interrogation about its past to draw the lessons about its present and future.

The Historical Background of Socialism

Since the mid 19th century, socialism has mostly been differentiated from capitalism in two basic ways. Instead of capitalism’s private ownership of means of production (land, factories, offices, stores, machinery, etcetera), socialism would transfer that ownership to the state as the administrator for public, social or collective ownership. Instead of capitalism’s distribution of resources and products by means of market exchange, socialism would substitute state central planning to accomplish that distribution. Marxism was generally viewed as the basic theoretical criticism of capitalism that went on to define and justify a social transition from capitalism to socialism. Communism was generally viewed as a distant, rather utopian stage of social development beyond socialism wherein class differences would disappear, the state would wither away as a social institution, work activity would be transformed and distribution would be based purely on need.

Before 1917, socialism comprised both the critical analysis of capitalism and the anti-capitalist programs promoted by various social movements, labor unions, writers and political parties. They advocated transitions from private toward state ownership of means of production, and from market toward state-planned distribution. Socialism was stunningly successful at winning hearts and minds; it spread quickly across the globe. By 1917, a revolution in Russia enabled a new government to replace the capitalism it had inherited with what it understood as socialism. Bolshevik leaders thus moved to nationalize productive property in industry and institute planning as hallmarks of the new Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ (USSR’s) economy.

Yet Soviet socialism also changed and complicated the meaning of socialism in the world. Beyond being a general theory and program of anti-capitalism, socialism came also to be the label applied to what was said and done in and by the USSR. This change had profound consequences. Socialists around the world split into two wings or segments. [1] For one wing, the evolving Soviet revolution was the realization of what socialism had always sought. It therefore had to be defended at all costs from capitalism’s assaults. That wing increasingly defined socialism as what the USSR did after 1917; Soviet socialism became the model to be replicated everywhere.

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Erdoğan’s reaction to Turkey protests reveals ominous Putin parallels

From The Guardian UK:

Leader is used to having things his own way but, civil society movement can no longer be suppressed, says Luke Harding, Tuesday 11 June 2013

The assault was as brutal as it was predictable. On Friday and Saturday Erdoğan had hosted a European Union meeting in Istanbul. Rumour had it that Turkey‘s prime minister would send in riot police to clear the demonstrators from Taksim Square – which they had peacefully occupied for 12 days — once his European guests had flown home.

And so it proved, with police encircling the square at 6am on Tuesday, firing rubber bullets and teargas, and ripping down banners calling for Erdoğan’s resignation. By happy coincidence, Turkey’s state media, which for days had blithely ignored the country’s huge anti-government demonstrations, were on hand to record the event.

Turkish TV viewers witnessed this: a small group of four or five “demonstrators” throwing molotov cocktails at police. At one point they advanced on police lines in a comic Roman-style phalanx while holding the flag of a fringe Marxist party. The “protesters” were in fact middle-aged undercover police officers, staging a not very plausible “attack” on their own for the benefit of the cameras.

But the violence meted out against the genuine protesters camped out under the plane trees of nearby Gezi Park was real enough. Dozens were left choking or injured as teargas billowed across central Istanbul. Meanwhile, some 50 lawyers acting for detained activists were themselves dragged away by police and roughed up at Istanbul’s Çağlayan court.

Faced with a choice between engaging with this new, vibrant civil society movement or crushing it, Erdoğan has picked the latter course. Indeed, his reaction to the nationwide citizens’ revolt reveals ominous parallels with another autocratic leader who has recently found himself in a tight spot: Vladimir Putin.

None of this bodes well for Turkey’s already tortuous EU accession prospects, for relations between secular and religious Turks, or for the country’s democratic future.

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The Turkish Spring: Lawyers Rounded Up

From The Jurist:

Marjorie Cohn
June 13, 2013

For nearly three weeks, thousands of protestors have gathered peacefully at Occupy Gezi in Taksim Square in Istanbul. Turkish police have unleashed a brutal crackdown, resulting in three confirmed deaths and nearly 5,000 injured. According to Turkish lawyer Kerem Gulay, a Fulbright Scholar and doctoral student at Cornell Law School, police tactics include excessive beatings with police batons and rifle handles, and the use of pepper spray and other chemicals, rubber bullets, and, allegedly, real bullets.

In order to provide a pretext for police aggression against peaceful protestors, undercover police officers, acting as agents provocateurs, threw Molotov cocktails Tuesday at police, after which police launched a vicious attack on protestors.

A broad coalition of groups courageously gathered in Taksim Square is protesting neoliberal governmental policies, including economic, agricultural and environmental policies, human rights abuses, mass detentions, privatization of water resources, attacks on freedom of the press and on freedom of religion, and the treatment of Kurdish citizens of Turkey. The protestors’ politics range from moderate to center right to nationalist to left liberal to extreme leftist. “All these people have in common,” Gulay told me, “is they are critical of government policies.”

When lawyers were issuing a press statement decrying the mass detentions of their clients, some 50 lawyers were arrested and dragged on the ground by riot police. Many lawyers were injured before they were released 10 hours later. Nearly 3,000 lawyers gathered at the courthouse Tuesday to protest these detentions.

There is an ongoing and dangerous process of criminalization of lawyers in Turkey. Nine of fifteen lawyers arrested on January 18, 2013, for representing unpopular clients, remain in custody without charges or access to legal papers about their cases. On that date, police raided the Istanbul and Ankara offices of the Progressive Lawyers Association (CHD), a member organization of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL). Twelve CHD officers or members were violently detained under vague terrorism-related allegations. They were interrogated about their representation of clients. They were denied water and the use of a bathroom.

These arrests, detentions, and seizure of property—including confidential client files—violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The cases are pending in the Special Heavy Penal Courts, which have jurisdiction over “terrorism” proceedings. Their use of secret evidence and repressive procedures have been condemned by several international and regional human rights monitoring bodies and mechanisms. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Gabriela Knaul, who recently visited Turkey, strongly criticized [PDF] the Special Heavy Penal Courts, saying their “special authority” does not comply with human rights standards on fair trial, and they should therefore be abolished.

A group of 500 lawyers who went to the courthouse to protest the lawyers’ detention in January were assaulted by police. The Istanbul Bar Association lambasted the unlawful raids as an “explicit attack towards the legal profession and its honor, as well as the people’s right to legal remedies.”

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We’re Prepared to Accept an Apology from Exxon & Lawmakers

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What Is a Derecho, Anyway?

From Mother Jones:

By Wed Jun. 12, 2013

You’ve probably heard that a massive system of storms is currently bearing down on the Midwest and expected to reach the mid-Atlantic on Thursday. Meteorologists are warning that the storms may turn into derechos, or “land hurricanes.” Almost 75 million people are in the path of the storms, and forecasters believe that conditions are favorable for one or more derechos this week. So what can we expect from these intense storms?

What is a derecho? According to NOAA, a derecho is a “widespread, long-lived windstorm that is associated with a band of rapidly moving showers or thunderstorms.” In order for a weather event to be classified as a derecho, the wind damage zone must extend more than 240 miles and include wind gusts of at least 58 miles per hour. In “super-derechos”, wind gusts can top 100 miles per hour.  “You can think of a derecho as a tropical cyclone over land,” NOAA research meteorologist Ken Pryor told Discovery News. “The impacts are very similar. There are damaging winds that cover a significant area.” The storms are known to occur frequently at night, and they often bring hail, flooding, and tornadoes.

Is it like a tornado? Not exactly. The two types of storms can occur in the same system, but the damage of a derecho is directed along a fairly straight path and tornadoes are more isolated events. “A tornado, when it does occur, may be on the magnitude of a mile or two wide; a derecho could go for hundreds of miles producing significant damage,” Jim Keeney, weather program manager at the national weather service’s office in Kansas City, Mo., told CBS.

What causes it? Derechos are associated with showers and thunderstorms where there are strong outflow winds that “move preferentially in one direction,” and are the products of downbursts, according to NOAA. “Imagine taking a water balloon and dropping it, where you see the balloon break and splatter on the ground. That’s basically how a downburst works,” Pryor told NBC News. “And you can think of a derecho as a large cluster of those downbursts all happening simultaneously.”

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Huffington Post: What Is A Derecho? Experts Warn Of Unusual Weather Event As Storms Threaten Mid-Atlantic

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