Transgender People In The Workplace

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Lateral Hostility and the Transgender Woman

From Info Barrel:

Mar 1, 2013

Are you a transgender women who has experienced hostility from the transgender community? I would dare to say that a lot of transgender women have been the victim of bullying and pigeonholing into the brutally enforced “hierarchy” of transgender women through cyber-bullying, ostrification and deadly gossip. I use the word deadly because I believe that this behaviour is directly related to the skyrocketing transgender suicide rate. We don’t we just add to the suffering and feeling of isolation that most of us feel. Some of us take their own lives; could this hostility among trans women be a factor? Perhaps something to think about the next time someone is being persecuted by our very own. We are doing it too ourselves people! It has to stop if we are going to get anywhere in society as a group of oppressed people. I asked my doctor about this phenomenon and he simply relied “it’s called lateral violence”; he continued “when a group of people are singled out and ridiculed in society and have no place to put the anger and frustration they feel so they put it on the closest people to them who are on the same social rung as themselves”.

It kind of makes sense to me but it does not explain the competition over hormones, surgery and boob size, etc. Do trans women bring the competitive nature of men with them when they transition? It would appear so. A pecking order does exist and in my experience with trans groups is that most of the time is spent attacking each other. And why no cross talk in trans support groups? Perhaps that would help. There is a rather offensive joke that I have heard about trans women; “you’re not trans unless your insulted five times a day”. I was offended, for the fifth time that day. But then I thought about it I realized that sometimes jokes point out things about ourselves that we don’t like. We are offended, and often. We form little “cliques” and attack other trans women, forcing them out of support groups and ostracizing them even further from any kind of support we may offer as fellow trans women. Its so sad, can you imagine what we could accomplish if we worked together?

Lateral Hostility or violence is a term describing physical, verbal, or emotional abuse of an individual by a person or persons with the intend of doing emotional and mental harm. Backstabbing, scapegoating,verbal attacks or non verbal attacks like rolling your eyes or sopping or spreading unfounded rumours. This happens constantly on the internet and it is a crime called cyber-bullying! How many transgender women have experienced this? Not only lateral hostility in the support groups but over the internet as well.

Why do we do this? Why do we internally proclaim I am “trannier than thou”, and I am going to make you aware of it at all costs. This does not go far enough to explain why so many good heart-ed people end up in brutal fights; e-hair pulling, e-scratching and biting! Forming groups of “she is my friend so go away”, no “she is MY friend so you go AWAY!”, simply by having a difference of opinion over anything even mildly controversial. Everything IS a personal attack. the words “I disagree” is an act of WAR!!. Does the dysphoria make us closed to new ideas and points of view? Does it make it an imperative to be right no matter what the cost in terms of friendships and heartbreak? Could it be the dysphoria which causes us to put each other down over size of body parts and size of shoe? I dress more like a woman than you do, are you on hormones? Are you It’s not a race, it’s not a competition to out transition every other transgender woman you come in contact with. But this seems to be the attitude you run into.

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Stoli’s parent company changes nondiscrimination policy to include gay — but not trans — employees

From Raw Story:

By Scott Kaufman
Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The worldwide boycott of Russian vodka by LGBT activists has had little appreciable effect on official Russian policy toward LGBT people, but according to AMERICAblog‘s John Aravosis, it appears to have had an effect on the parent company of Stolichnaya vodka, SPI Group.

A recent update of its “About” page includes a paragraph in which it claims to be “an equal opportunity employer” that doesn’t discriminate “in employment or personnel practices on the basis of race, sex, age, sexual orientation, handicap, religion, national origin.” While such a change in language is, as Aravosis writes, “laudable,” it is unclear what corporate policies it actually reflects.

It fails to mention whether it offers same-sex partners the same benefits as their straight coworkers, for example, and offers no indication as to the protection it does or doesn’t offer transgender employees. The Advocate‘s Daniel Reynolds quotes an open letter by SPI Group’s CEO, Val Mendeleev, in which he claims that “[i]n the past decade, SPI has been actively advocating in favor of freedom, tolerance and openness in society, standing very passionately on the side of the LGBT community and will continue to support any effective initiative in that direction.”

The newly disclosed nondiscrimination policy contains, as Aravois notes, no “definitive answers.” It does, however, indicate the potential effectiveness of online boycotts. Prior to the July 22nd boycott, SPI Group thought it unnecessary to even address the issue of sexual orientation on its “About” page; now, it has done so and it has the opportunity to make a bold statement about the rights of transgender employees at a time and in a country when merely acknowledging the existence of any sexual minority could result in criminal action.

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Angela Y. Davis at the University of Chicago – May 2013

Wal-Mart Women Denied Class Status by California Court

From Ring Of Fire Radio:

by Joshua Schwitzerlett

A California court has shown, yet again, that it’s in the service of big business this past week when it decided that California Wal-Mart employees cannot sue for sex-based discrimination as a group. The court cited that the women did not have enough in common to establish a class certification.

In 2001, a group of women from various Wal-Mart stores filed a claim in San Francisco claiming that they had been denied promotion and pay. The lawsuit alleged that the retail giant’s employment policies created a structure that made the disparate treatment of women systemic.

Unfortunately, the actions of the California court seem to be establishing a precedent for courts across the country. A claim in Texas was recently dismissed that alleged similar facts.

“Companies, like Wal-Mart, are encouraged to discriminate against their employees because individualized lawsuits are much less costly than paying a fair or non-discriminatory wage,” commented James Kauffman, an attorney with the Securities and Business Litigation Department at Levin, Papantonio, “Unfortunately, rulings that strike down class treatment leave the victims with no access to a realistic or effective means to make companies accountable for their misconduct.”

Individual proceedings still pend in many states. The dismissal of the California and Texas courts did not pass judgment on the women’s claims that they were discriminated against. The decision set forth only that women failed to meet the requirements necessary to establish a class.

The ability to establish a class for the purpose of litigation is powerful as it can unify discovery efforts. The court’s decision to deny the women the establishment of the class in this case denies them the ability to enjoy those benefits.

The allegations of unfair labor practices on the part of Wal-Mart are not uncommon. Earlier this year Wal-Mart threatened to stop plans to build 3 stores in Washington D.C. because the city was considering a bill that would have forced the retailer to pay slightly above minimum wage.

Joshua is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire. Follow him on Twitter @Joshual33.

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Revenge of the “Abortion Barbies”

From Salon:

A scared right-winger slurs Wendy Davis and shows GOP’s growing terror of mobilized women. He’s right to be scared

Tuesday, Aug 6, 2013

Erick Erickson is the insecure frat-boy id of the Republican Party. Oh, sure, party leaders wring their hands about their problem with women voters, but deep down, we’re all “Abortion Barbie” to a whole lot of them. Only Erickson is creepy enough to say so.

In case you missed it: Erickson — last seen freaking out over women as breadwinners, and being schooled by Fox host Megyn Kelly — apparently had a panic attack today over Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis, and decided to call her “Abortion Barbie.” That’s clever, and likely to do his party as much good with women as when Rush Limbaugh decided to call Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.”

But Erickson’s outburst comes in a week when Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus melted down over CNN and NBC plans for a Hillary Clinton miniseries, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell got so rattled by Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes that he disrespected her by attacking her dad, as though the girl in the race didn’t matter enough to engage directly.

Psychologically a lot of Republicans seem to have problems with women, with our real and imagined power. The conservative project of controlling us is coming undone, and their fear is showing. But politically, they’ve got even bigger problems, with women’s genuine and growing political power. From Wendy Davis to Alison Grimes to Michelle Nunn in Georgia (she’s leading all her GOP Senate rivals in the latest PPP poll), female candidates are giving Red State Democrats some hope that they may win more statewide power sooner rather than later.

So Mr. let loose another well-timed slur to give us a window onto his fear and loathing.

Reince Priebus has so many fears: He of course fears Hillary Clinton, since the GOP doesn’t have a candidate who could win a primary who could beat her if she runs. He fears his party’s likely 2016 roster, which may not be as chock-full of wacko birds as the Michele Bachmann-Herman Cain 2012 slate, but will still have plenty of characters to scare moderate voters. He fears a rerun of the grueling 2012 debate schedule, where said wacko birds had more than enough time to hang themselves with their own words.

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Nothing to Prove – Geek Girls & The Doubleclicks

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Who’s Afraid of Radical History?

From The Nation:

Mitch Daniels’ Covert War on Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States.

Robert Cohen and Sonia Murrow
August 5, 2013

A recent Associated Press expose—drawing on e-mails obtained under the Freedom of Information Act—revealed that in 2010, Mitch Daniels, then Indiana’s Republican governor, covertly set out to ban Howard Zinn’s best-selling A People’s History of the United States from Indiana’s classrooms. Daniels had privately responded to Zinn’s death that year with unseemly glee; “This terrible anti-American academic has finally passed away,” he crowed. Daniels attempted to banish Zinn’s book on the grounds that it was “a truly execrable, anti-factual piece of disinformation that misstates American history on every page…. How do we get rid of it before more young people are force-fed a totally false version of our history?” When Daniels’s education adviser replied that A People’s History was being used in a social movements course for teachers at Indiana University, the governor insisted that “this crap should not be accepted for any credit by the state,” sparking a proposed statewide review of university courses designed to “disqualify propaganda” from Indiana’s curriculum.

This view of A People’s History as propaganda was not shared by the historians who named it a finalist for the American Book Award in 1981—an honor virtually never accorded to historical surveys—or by the more than two million readers who made A People’s History the most popular radical history in the US during the last three decades.

As governor, Daniels seemed unconcerned that purging Zinn from Indiana’s educational system constituted a violation of academic freedom. But this issue emerged in the political storm unleashed by the AP story, in part because Daniels is currently president of Purdue University. Aware that trampling academic freedom is incompatible with leadership in higher education, Daniels sought to evade the issue by claiming (falsely) that he had respected academic freedom at the university level and only sought to keep Zinn out of the K-12 educational curriculum.

Upset by Daniels’s refusal to admit last week that he had erred in seeking to ban Zinn, dozens of Purdue’s faculty, including some of its most prominent historians, wrote an open letter explaining how “troubled” they were by his failure either to stand up for “academic inquiry and exchange” or to realize that “academic freedom is essential to all levels of education.” The American Historical Association condemned Daniels’s war on Zinn as “inappropriate and a violation of academic freedom,” and championed “open discussion of controversial books,” which “benefits students, historians, and the general public alike.” “Attempts to single out particular texts for suppression from a school or university curriculum,” the AHA wrote, “have no place in a democratic society.”

Governor Daniels assumed, without evidence, that teachers “inflicted” Zinn’s book on their students and “force-fed” them Zinn’s radical view of the American past, indoctrinating them with leftist “propaganda.” But the way that A People’s History has most commonly been used in history classes bears no resemblance to Daniels’ overheated, ideological imaginings. For example, the Indiana University professor, Carl Weinberg, whose use of A People’s History so angered Daniels in 2010, assigned the book’s civil rights movement chapter, along with conflicting accounts of the movement, in order to explore competing theories about how social movements arise—just what one would expect and hope for in a class on mass protest.

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Why ALEC Fabricated Public School Failures (and Why We’re Not Surprised)

From Truth Out:

By Judy Molland
Monday, 05 August 2013

“ALEC vs. Kids: ALEC’s Assault on Public Education”. That’s the alarmingly accurate title of a new report that focuses on how the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) education task force has used a state-by-state report card to fabricate failure in state public education systems in order to create sales opportunities for their corporate membership.

ALEC – All About Favoring Corporations

ALEC was formed in 1973 by a group of conservative activists who came together to advance a national right wing agenda in state legislatures across the country. They do this by coordinating and connecting corporate special interests, insurance companies, lobbyists, right wing think tanks, the super rich and conservative state legislators.

They then produce model policies on issues affecting many facets of American life, with the goal of making conditions as favorable to corporations as possible. The group is behind just about every bad Republican initiative, including union-busting, Voter ID and Stand Your Ground gun laws that helped George Zimmerman go free after murdering an unarmed Trayvon Martin.

Recently the conservative lobbying group has found its way into the previously untapped market of public education by producing an education “report card.” And the 2013 result is not a pretty sight.

Report Full Of “Shoddy” Research

Professor Christopher Lubienski and doctoral candidate T. Jameson Brewer, both of the University of Illinois, reviewed the document:

The ALEC report card assigns its grades based on states’ policies regarding their support for charter schools, their implementation of school voucher plans, and the permissiveness they display toward homeschooling.

The authors contend that these grades are based on “high quality” research demonstrating that the policies for which they award high grades will improve education for all students, Lubienski and Jameson write. Instead, the report card draws on the work of advocacy groups and is grounded in ideological tenets, leading the authors to assign high grades to states with unproven and even disproven market-based policies, the reviewers add. They point out that the authors’ claims of a growing body of research lacks citations; their grading system contradicts testing data that they report; and their data on alternative teacher research is simply wrong.

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‘Medicare for All’ Would Cover Everyone, Save Billions in First Year: New Study

July 31, 2013
12:35 PM

CONTACT: Physicians for a National Health Program

Mark Almberg, communications director, PNHP, (312) 782-6006,

‘Medicare for All’ Would Cover Everyone, Save Billions in First Year: New Study

Economist says Canadian-style, single-payer health plan would reap huge savings from reduced paperwork and from negotiated drug prices, enough to pay for quality coverage for all – at less cost to families and businesses

WASHINGTON – July 31 – Upgrading the nation’s Medicare program and expanding it to cover people of all ages would yield more than a half-trillion dollars in efficiency savings in its first year of operation, enough to pay for high-quality, comprehensive health benefits for all residents of the United States at a lower cost to most individuals, families and businesses.

That’s the chief finding of a new fiscal study by Gerald Friedman, a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. There would even be money left over to help pay down the national debt, he said.

Friedman says his analysis shows that a nonprofit single-payer system based on the principles of the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, H.R. 676, introduced by Rep. John Conyers Jr., D-Mich., and co-sponsored by 45 other lawmakers, would save an estimated $592 billion in 2014. That would be more than enough to cover all 44 million people the government estimates will be uninsured in that year and to upgrade benefits for everyone else.

“No other plan can achieve this magnitude of savings on health care,” Friedman said.

His findings were released this morning at a congressional briefing in the Cannon House Office Building hosted by Public Citizen and Physicians for a National Health Program, to be followed by a 1 p.m. news conference with Rep. Conyers. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and others in observance of Medicare’s 48th anniversary at the House Triangle near the Capitol steps. A copy of Friedman’s full report, with tables and charts, is available here.

Friedman said the savings would come from slashing the administrative waste associated with today’s private health insurance industry ($476 billion) and using the new, public system’s bargaining muscle to negotiate pharmaceutical drug prices down to European levels ($116 billion).

“These savings would be more than enough to fund $343 billion in improvements to our health system, including the achievement of truly universal coverage, improved benefits, and the elimination of premiums, co-payments and deductibles, which are major barriers to people seeking care,” he said.

Friedman said the savings would also fund $51 billion in transition costs such as retraining displaced workers from the insurance industry and phasing out investor-owned, for-profit delivery systems.

Over the next decade, the system’s savings from reduced health inflation (“bending the cost curve”), thanks to cost-control methods such as negotiated fees, lump-sum payments to hospitals, and capital planning, would amount to an estimated $1.8 trillion.

“Paradoxically, by expanding Medicare to everyone we’d end up saving billions of dollars annually,” he said. “We’d be safeguarding Medicare’s fiscal integrity while enhancing the nation’s health for the long term.”

Friedman said the plan would be funded by maintaining current federal revenues for health care and imposing new, modest tax increases on very high income earners. It would also be funded by a small increase in payroll taxes on employers, who would no longer pay health insurance premiums, and a new, very small tax on stock and bond transactions.

“Such a financing scheme would vastly simplify how the nation pays for care, restore free choice of physician, guarantee all necessary medical care, improve patient health and, because it would be financed by a program of progressive taxation, result in 95 percent of all U.S. households saving money,” Friedman said.

Friedman’s findings are consistent with other research showing large savings from a single-payer plan. Single-payer fiscal studies by other economists, such as Kenneth E. Thorpe (2005), have arrived at similar conclusions, as have studies conducted by the Congressional Budget Office and the General Accountability Office in the early 1990s. Other studies have documented the administrative efficiency and other benefits of Canada’s single-payer system in comparison with the current U.S. system.

Friedman’s research was commissioned by Physicians for a National Health Program, a nonprofit research and educational organization of more than 18,000 doctors nationwide, which wanted to find out how much a single-payer system would cost today and how it could be financed.

Funding H.R. 676:  The Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act – How we can afford a national single-payer health plan in 2014,” by Gerald Friedman, Ph.D., Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.


Physicians for a National Health Program is a single issue organization advocating a universal, comprehensive single-payer national health program. PNHP has more than 15,000 members and chapters across the United States.

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In Need of a New Hip, but Priced Out of the U.S.

From The New York Times:

Published: August 3, 2013

Mr. Shopenn, 67, an architectural photographer and avid snowboarder, had been in such pain from arthritis that he could not stand long enough to make coffee, let alone work. He had health insurance, but it would not cover a joint replacement because his degenerative disease was related to an old sports injury, thus considered a pre-existing condition.


Desperate to find an affordable solution, he reached out to a sailing buddy with friends at a medical device manufacturer, which arranged to provide his local hospital with an implant at what was described as the “list price” of $13,000, with no markup. But when the hospital’s finance office estimated that the hospital charges would run another $65,000, not including the surgeon’s fee, he knew he had to think outside the box, and outside the country.

“That was a third of my savings at the time,” Mr. Shopenn said recently from the living room of his condo in Boulder, Colo. “It wasn’t happening.”

“Very leery” of going to a developing country like India or Thailand, which both draw so-called medical tourists, he ultimately chose to have his hip replaced in 2007 at a private hospital outside Brussels for $13,660. That price included not only a hip joint, made by Warsaw-based Zimmer Holdings, but also all doctors’ fees, operating room charges, crutches, medicine, a hospital room for five days, a week in rehab and a round-trip ticket from America.

“We have the most expensive health care in the world, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best,” Mr. Shopenn said. “I’m kind of the poster child for that.”

As the United States struggles to rein in its growing $2.7 trillion health care bill, the cost of medical devices like joint implants, pacemakers and artificial urinary valves offers a cautionary tale. Like many medical products or procedures, they cost far more in the United States than in many other developed countries.

Makers of artificial implants — the biggest single cost of most joint replacement surgeries — have proved particularly adept at commanding inflated prices, according to health economists. Multiple intermediaries then mark up the charges. While Mr. Shopenn was offered an implant in the United States for $13,000, many privately insured patients are billed two to nearly three times that amount.

An artificial hip, however, costs only about $350 to manufacture in the United States, according to Dr. Blair Rhode, an orthopedist and entrepreneur whose company is developing generic implants. In Asia, it costs about $150, though some quality control issues could arise there, he said.

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Climate Change & Violence Now Linked Together

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Starved polar bear perished due to record sea-ice melt, says expert

From The Guardian UK:

Climate change has reduced ice in the Arctic to record lows in the past year, forcing animals to range further in search of food, Tuesday 6 August 2013

A starved polar bear found found dead in Svalbard as “little more than skin and bones” perished due to a lack of sea ice on which to hunt seals, according to a reknowned polar bear expert.

Climate change has reduced sea ice in the Arctic to record lows in the last year and Dr Ian Stirling, who has studied the bears for almost 40 years and examined the animal, said the lack of ice forced the bear into ranging far and wide in an ultimately unsuccessful search for food.

“From his lying position in death, the bear appears to simply have starved and died where he dropped,” Stirling said. “He had no external suggestion of any remaining fat, having been reduced to little more than skin and bone.”

The bear had been examined by scientists from the Norwegian Polar Institute in April in the southern part of Svalbard, an Arctic island archipelago, and appeared healthy. The same bear had been captured in the same area in previous years, suggesting that the discovery of its body, 250km away in northern Svalbard in July, represented an unusual movement away from its normal range. The bear probably followed the fjords inland as it trekked north, meaning it may have walked double or treble that distance.

Polar bears feed almost exclusively on seals and need sea ice to capture their prey. But 2012 saw the lowest level of sea ice in the Arctic on record. Prond Robertson, at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute, said: “The sea ice break up around Svalbard in 2013 was both fast and very early.” He said recent years had been poor for ice around the islands: “Warm water entered the western fjords in 2005-06 and since then has not shifted.”

Stirling, now at Polar Bears International and previously at the University of Alberta and the Canadian Wildlife Service, said: “Most of the fjords and inter-island channels in Svalbard did not freeze normally last winter and so many potential areas known to that bear for hunting seals in spring do not appear to have been as productive as in a normal winter. As a result, the bear likely went looking for food in another area but appears to have been unsuccessful.”

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Climate change pushing marine life towards the poles, says study

From Grist:

By Helen Davidson
6 Aug 2013

Rising ocean temperatures are rearranging the biological makeup of our oceans, pushing species towards the poles by 4.4 miles every year, as they chase the climates they can survive in, according to new research.

The study, conducted by a working group of scientists from 17 different institutions, gathered data from seven different countries and found the warming oceans are causing marine species to alter their breeding, feeding, and migration patterns.

Surprisingly, land species are shifting at a rate of less than 0.6 miles a year in comparison, even though land surface temperatures are rising at a much faster rate than those in the ocean.

“In general, the air is warming faster than the ocean because the air has greater capacity to absorb temperature. So we expected to see more rapid response on land than in the ocean. But we sort of found the inverse,” said study researcher Christopher Brown, post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Queensland’s Global Change Institute.

Brown said this may be because marine animals are able to move vast distances, or it could be because it’s easier to escape changing temperatures on land where there are hills and valleys, rather than on a flat ocean surface.

The team looked at a wide variety of species, from plankton and ocean plants to predators such as seals, seabirds, and big fish.

“One of the unique things about this study is that we’ve looked at everything,” said Brown.

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In the Dark About Light

From In These Times:

Our streetlight problem.

BY Elizabeth Sanders
August 5, 2013

Outdoor lighting creates a warm welcome,” proclaims a full-page ad in a recent issue of Real Estate Journal. The ad urges homeowners to splash decorative and dramatic outdoor lighting all around their yards to “welcome your guests and yourself home while adding elegance, value and safety.” This is typical of the way outdoor lighting is often viewed (and presented by the lighting industry and the architectural profession). Yet, though it may strike a chord deep in our caveman genes, ingrained over millennia as primitive humans hunkered be- hind fires they hoped would repel wild animals, illuminating the night from dusk until dawn carries a host of negative consequences for human health and the environment, nearly all of which are avoidable.

There are some 44 million municipal streetlights in the United States. Most of these are of the older “cobra head” variety, with drop lenses that extend down below the fixture and project much of their light output horizontally—into the eyes of drivers and pedestrians—and even upward into the sky, where it does no good at all. The International Dark- Sky Association, a nonprofit group that advocates for more rational and progressive use of outdoor lighting, estimates that 30 percent of the light from streetlights with drop lenses—and by extension the energy generated to produce it— is wasted. When one considers that there are more private outdoor lighting sources—“security” lights, advertising bill- boards, and purely ornamental floodlights directed at signs, trees and the sides of buildings—than there are streetlights, the true scope of this waste becomes clear.

In addition to wasting electricity, ill-designed outdoor lighting harms human health and our environment in myriad ways.

The important issue in lighting design that’s most often overlooked is that of “color temperature.” Expressed in degrees Kelvin, color temperature is an inverse measurement of the “warmth” of light, with higher Kelvin light sources such as the fluorescent tubes commonly used in office buildings producing “cooler” or bluer light, while lower Kelvin sources like standard incandescent blubs radiate “warmer” or redder light. In practice, lower Kelvin light is perceived as intimate and calming.

In outdoor lighting, a cool tint has significant drawbacks. According to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Environmental Management, when blue light seeps into people’s homes at night through windows or slats in blinds, it can alter circadian rhythms and suppress melatonin production, leading to difficulty sleeping. A low melatonin level has also been linked to breast and prostate cancer. What’s more, blue light contains ultraviolet light, which cannot be seen, but can damage retinas and contribute to macular degeneration. Abraham Haim, director of the Center for Interdisciplinary Chronobiological Research at the University of Haifa and coauthor of the study, urges that “short wavelengths should be eliminated from the nocturnal spectrum.”

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Green Groups: If Courts Won’t Protect Arctic from Oil Drilling, We Will

From Common Dreams:

Alaska court green-light for Shell’s Arctic drilling plans is dangerous act of ‘wild-eyed optimism,’ say campaigners

Jacob Chamberlain

Despite a series of accidents and mishaps last year off the coast of Alaska, oil giant Royal Dutch Shell will be allowed to resume its drilling exploration in the Arctic after a U.S. federal court on Monday deemed Shell’s spill clean up plans in compliance with legal guidelines.

The ruling follows a complaint lodged by several green groups including Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace, Oceana and the Natural Resources Defense Council who said that the inevitable oil spills in Alaska’s Beaufort and Chukchi Seas would be very difficult to clean up and that Shell did not have a sufficient plan or the technology for such an emergency.


“The ruling doesn’t change the fact that, as Shell’s misadventures last year showed, the Arctic Ocean is no place for rosy-eyed optimism,” Earthjustice, the environmental nonprofit law firm who represented the groups, said in a statement.


Judge Ralph Beistline in the Alaska U.S. District Court said the Interior Department didn’t violate the Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act or National Environmental Policy Act in approving Shell’s spill plans, as the groups had argued.


“Last summer when the veneer of empty promises and fanciful reassurances was peeled back, the dirty reality of Arctic oil drilling appeared: harsh weather, equipment failures, human error and legal violations all characterized Shell’s 2012 drilling season,” said Rebecca Noblin, the Center for Biological Diversity’s Alaska director. “Despite this court’s decision, we will continue to do everything we can to protect the Arctic from unsafe drilling.”


“The first court in the country said these spill plans were sufficient, but this is only the beginning of the effort to define the obligations to address oil spill prevention and response, especially in remote, isolated areas like the Arctic Ocean,” Holly Harris, an attorney for Earthjustice, told Boomberg.


“Climate change already threatens the Arctic’s rich array of wildlife, as well as the traditional practices of Alaska Natives who have lived there for millennia.  Yesterday’s decision by the Court allows Big Oil to pile on to those threats by allowing Big Oil to put this remarkable landscape at risk to oil spills and industrialization as well,” added Dan Ritzman, Sierra Club’s Alaska Program Director. “We should not allow dirty and dangerous oil drilling in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas to pile yet more risk onto this vibrant but fragile region.”

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