After DADT: Transgender Life In The United States Military

From The New Civil Rights Movement:

Brynn Tannehill
August 5, 2013

It has been nearly two years since the end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT).  Most people, including many within the LGBT community (including some very prominent LGBT leaders), were or still are unaware that the end of DADT did not end the exclusion of transgender people from military service.  There is no law preventing transgender individuals from serving. However, being transgender is still grounds for “rejection for military service.”

A Department of Defense instruction document, DoDI 6130.03, which is as clinical as its title suggests, states that the following exclude one from military service:

14 Female Genetalia f: History of major abnormalities or defects of the genitalia including but not limited to change of sex (P64.5) (CPT 55970, 55980), hermaphroditism, pseudohermaphroditism, or pure gonadal dysgenesis (752.7).

15 Male Genetalia f: History of major abnormalities or defects of the genitalia including but not limited to change of sex (P64.5) (CPT 55970, 55980), hermaphroditism, pseudohermaphroditism, or pure gonadal dysgenesis (752.7).

29.r: Current or history of psychosexual conditions (302) including but not limited to transexualism (sic), exhibitionism, transvestitism, voyeurism, and other paraphilias.

The exclusion of transgender people from the military is three-fold. First is the basis of needing intact gonads on the basis that the service does not need the added burden of maintaining an individual’s endocrine system. The second is the psychiatric rationale that Gender Identity Disorder (GID), as defined by the DSM-IV, is a mental disorder. The last, unstated assumption is that having openly transgender people would be prejudicial to good order and discipline.

While each of these rationales is demonstrably false, overcoming them is extremely difficult due to public stigmatization of the transgender community.

Each branch of the service has their own guidelines for separating transgender service members administratively. Waivers for being transgender are not granted. This last part is somewhat ironic, because waivers for pedophilia, voyeurism, and bestiality are.

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Russia’s homophobia worth a boycott

From The Canberra Times Au:

Peter FitzSimons
August 8, 2013

Here’s the thing. When it came to the liberation of South Africa from white-only rule and dismantling the outrageous system of apartheid, sport played a wonderful role. Through the imposition of sanctions from the early 1970s onwards, sport was able to very publicly isolate a country that granted voting power and human rights according to skin pigmentation alone.

Yes, there were economic sanctions too, but while there was always a way to get around those and get oil, Massey Ferguson tractor parts and hydraulic gauges from the black market if you had to, there was no such black market in sport. With only one genuine set of Wallabies, All Blacks and Tricolores to go around, when they said they wouldn’t play against the Springboks while apartheid was still in existence – even if it took 20 years – it kept the pressure on. Most importantly, it highlighted the fact South Africa could not take its place in the family of nations when it treated its own citizens in such an abominable fashion.

So why doesn’t sport do exactly the same thing when it comes to Russia now? I refer to that country’s appalling anti-gay laws and the forthcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi. As highlighted by my Fairfax Media colleague Andrew Webster on Tuesday, Russia has passed antediluvian laws “that would jail athletes and spectators who so much as wear a rainbow flag supporting gay and lesbian rights at next year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi”.

Webster notes: ”Having decriminalised homosexuality in 1993, Russia stands accused of pushing gay rights back to the days of Stalin after the Kremlin overwhelmingly approved homophobic legislation in June that advocates serious punishment to those who provide information about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to minors or hold gay pride rallies … Public displays of affection by same-sex couples are illegal. Foreign citizens arrested under the law can be jailed for 15 days then deported.”

This, in the 21st century! And so where is our sporting leadership on this? Nowhere. In response to such an outrage – so totally inimical to what is supposed to be the core inclusive values of the Olympic movement – the IOC has not uttered a peep of criticism. Nor has the AOC! Not a peep! It is particularly disappointing John Coates, who is targeting the IOC vice-presidency, has not seen fit to call this for what it – completely outrageous. Instead, there appears to be a tacit acceptance that the Russians are just a bit weird on this, so let’s just ignore it.

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A Domestic Surveillance Scandal at the DEA? Agents Urged to Cover Up Use of NSA Intel in Drug Probes

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How Payday Lenders Escape State Crackdowns

They have Cathy Brennan and other hired legal goons shilling for them.

From Mother Jones:

Need money fast? Hope you don’t mind an annual interest rate of nearly 700 percent.

By Wed Aug. 7, 2013

This story first appeared on the ProPublica website and in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

In 2008, payday lenders suffered a major defeat when the Ohio legislature banned high-cost loans. That same year, they lost again when they dumped more than $20 million into an effort to roll back the law: The public voted against it by nearly two-to-one.

But five years later, hundreds of payday loan stores still operate in Ohio, charging annual rates that can approach 700 percent.

It’s just one example of the industry’s resilience. In state after state where lenders have confronted unwanted regulation, they have found ways to continue to deliver high-cost loans.

Sometimes, as in Ohio, lenders have exploited loopholes in the law. But more often, they have reacted to laws targeted at one type of high-cost loan by churning out other products that feature triple-digit annual rates.

To be sure, there are states that have successfully banned high-cost lenders. Today Arkansas is an island, surrounded by six other states where ads scream “Cash!” and high-cost lenders dot the strip malls. Arkansas’ constitution caps non-bank rates at 17 percent.

But even there, the industry managed to operate for nearly a decade until the state Supreme Court finally declared those loans usurious in 2008.

The state-by-state skirmishes are crucial, because high-cost lenders operate primarily under state law. On the federal level, the recently formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can address “unfair, deceptive or abusive practices,” said a spokeswoman. But the agency is prohibited from capping interest rates.

In Ohio, the lenders continue to offer payday loans via loopholes in laws written to regulate far different companies — mortgage lenders and credit repair organizations. The latter peddle their services to people struggling with debt, but they can charge unrestricted fees for helping consumers obtain new loans into which borrowers can consolidate their debt.

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Law to Clean Up ‘Nuisances’ Costs Innocent People Their Homes

From Crooks and Liars:

By Isaiah Thompson

When Rochelle Bing bought her modest row home on a tattered block in North Philadelphia 10 years ago, she saw it as an investment in the future for her extended family — especially for her 18 grandchildren.

Bing, 42, works full-time as a home health assistant for the elderly and disabled. In summer when school is out, her house is awash with grandkids whom Bing tends to while their parents work. And the home has been a haven in troubled times when her children needed help or a father went to jail. One of Bing’s grandchildren lives there now.

“That’s the only reason I bought my home — I needed stability for my children,” Bing said. “And if anything was to happen to me, they would have a home to live in.”

But four years ago, something happened that imperiled Bing’s plans. In October 2009, police raided the house and charged her son, Andrew, then 24, with selling 8 packets of crack cocaine to an undercover informant. (Upon entering the house, police reported finding unused packets, though not drugs, in a rear bedroom.) Rochelle Bing was not present and was not accused of a crime. Yet she soon received a frightening letter from the Philadelphia district attorney’s office. Because Andrew had sold the drugs from inside his mother’s house, a task force of law enforcement officials moved to seize Bing’s house. They filed a court claim, quickly approved, that gave Bing just 30 days to dissuade a judge from granting “a decree of forfeiture” that would give the DA’s office title to the property. Bing was devastated.

“For me to lose my home,” she recalled recently, “for them to take that from me, knowing I had grandchildren – that would have hurt me more than anything.” And so Bing resolved to do what whatever was necessary to keep the house.

She had no idea how long and how difficult that fight would be.

On its face, Bing’s predicament might seem implausible if not unjust. How could someone who’s neither accused nor convicted of a crime be forced to give up her property because of another’s misdeeds? But stories like Bing’s are increasingly more common as Philadelphia and other jurisdictions have embraced the expansive power of forfeiture as a crime-fighting tool.

The idea behind forfeiture is simple enough: drug kingpins, embezzlers, racketeers and other offenders should not be able to keep the financial fruits of illegal acts. Prosecutors often ask a judge to seize the money, vehicles or real estate of a person convicted of a crime.

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A Brief History of Squatting

From In These Times:

The Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space chronicles decades of Lower East Side occupations.

BY Arun Gupta
August 1, 2013

He had warned me about showing up unannounced, but it’s easy to rationalize such things when you’re jonesing. It was 1999. I stood outside the Lower East Side squat bellowing, “Laaaarr-rreeee.” Making myself a nuisance earned me admission into the building, though the squatters clustered out front looked at me with expressions that read: “Who is this idiot?”

Larry was livid when I stepped into his apartment. “Don’t ever fucking do that again!” he roared. But in an instant his eyes were smiling and he sweetly inquired, “Now, how may I help you?”

Chagrined, I conducted my business and exited. Striding past the German beer garden, I mentally savored my spliff while lamenting the disappearance of the storefront dealers who peddled dime bags with the convenience of a 7-Eleven. That’s routine for denizens of the Lower East Side: to wistfully recall what once was.

Before Rudy Giuliani became mayor in 1994, the neighborhood was alluringly feral. The withdrawal of public services, crime epidemic and abandonment of housing decades earlier had spawned a multiracial movement of neighborhood associations, building takeovers, community gardens and thriving institutions such as the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, the punk-centric ABC No Rio and the housing-rights organization Good Old Lower East Side.

No one misses the muggers, street dealers hawking smack, or addicts openly sticking needles in their arms. Social pathologies were the last line of defense against capital, until Giuliani used his “quality of life” campaign against the homeless, potsmokers, bicyclists and the poor to also sweep away Bohemia.

The transformation from heroin shooters to oyster shooters is now complete, but the past still pokes through the present landscape of faux speakeasies, fin-de-siècle bistros and bucolic gastronomica.

The Museum of Reclaimed Urban Space (MoRUS), located in a storefront of C-Squat, is one of 11 surviving squats that have made peace with the city. The mini museum, a tribute to local activism, contains a photographic journey through decades of squatting, gardens, Critical Mass, Reclaim the Streets and Occupy Wall Street. Co-founder Bill DiPaolo calls it “living history,” and it faithfully evokes decades of resistance to a hidden market and its visible fist.

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Has the Fukushima “China Syndrome” begun?

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Noaa report says Arctic sea ice is disappearing at unprecedented pace

From The Guardian UK:

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration climate study puts 2012 among the 10 warmest years on record

, US environment correspondent, Tuesday 6 August 2013

The Arctic lost record amounts of sea ice last year and is changing at an unprecedented pace due to climate change, a landmark climate study said on Tuesday.

Last year was among the 10 warmest years on record – ranking eighth or ninth depending on the data set, according to a report led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa). The year 2012 also saw record greenhouse gas emissions, with concentrations of carbon dioxide and other warming gasses reaching a global average of 392.7 parts per million for the year.

“The findings are striking,” Kathryn Sullivan, Noaa’s acting administrator, said on a conference call. “Our planet as a whole is becoming a warmer place.”

The scientists were reluctant to point directly to the cause of the striking changes in the climate. But the annual reports are typically used by the federal government to prepare for the future, and in June president Barack Obama used his climate address to direct government agencies to begin planning for decades of warming atmosphere and rising seas.

The biggest changes in the climate in 2012 were in the Arctic and in Greenland, said the report, which is an annual exercise by a team of American and British scientists. The Arctic warmed at about twice the rate of lower latitudes, the report found. By June 2012, snow cover had fallen to its lowest levels since the record began. By September 2012, sea-ice cover had retreated to its lowest levels since the beginning of satellite records, falling to 1.32 million square miles.

That was, the report noted, a whopping 18% lower than the previous low, set in 2007, and a staggering 54% lower than the mark for 1980.

The changes were widespread on land as well, with record warm permafrost temperatures in Alaska and in the Canadian Arctic, the report’s authors noted. On 11 July last year, Greenland experienced surface melting on 97% of the ice sheet. The record-breaking events indicate an era of “new normal” for the climate, the researchers said.

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California’s Fracking Regulatory Bill: Less Than Zero

From Common Dreams:

by Lauren Steiner

A year after buying his dream home in Los Angeles, Gary Gless started falling down and breaking bones.

Fourteen years and one thousand doctors visits later, his neuromuscular disorder hasn’t been specifically diagnosed. He survives on painkillers and sleep aids.

Gless’s backyard overlooks the Inglewood Oil Field, the largest urban oil field in the nation. Within the field, gas companies have been secretly fracking in the middle of this community of 300,000 residents for nine years.

Many of Gless’s neighbors also suffer from neurological, auto-immune and respiratory diseases and several types of cancers. Many have died. Homes and swimming pools are cracking.

None of these people will be helped by passage of the only fracking bill still alive in California’s legislature: Senate Bill 4. That’s because the regulations in SB 4 do nothing to actually make fracking safer.

Instead, the flawed bill sets up a process for notification, disclosure, monitoring and permitting and simply calls for future regulations by other agencies and a scientific study.

Telling someone when you’re going to frack, where you’re going to frack and what chemicals you will use, is like a murderer telling you he’s going to shoot you on your front porch at noon tomorrow using an AK-47.

At the end of the day, you’re still dead.

The State of Play

Worse than having no regulations, weak regulations provide political cover to legislators who could otherwise be pressured to vote for a moratorium on the practice.

58% of Californians want a moratorium on fracking. The state Democratic Party, the majority party, passed a resolution calling on legislators to impose a moratorium.

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Shift to a Low-Carbon Economy? Global Investors Say Yes

From Common Dreams:

Climate change is having a direct impact on investment decisions, new report shows

Andrea Germanos

Climate change is having a direct impact on investors across the globe, in some cases prompting divestments, results from a new survey show.

The third annual Global Investor Survey on Climate Change report, which reveals investment practices of 37 asset owners and 47 asset managers, showed that the majority of asset owners—81%—see climate change as a risk or opportunity across their entire investment portfolio.

Climate change concerns prompted an increase in the number of asset owners who avoid a particular investment or make a divestment by 23% in 2012, up from just from 9% in 2011.

The report also found that 70% of asset owners and 60% of asset managers reported low carbon investments, such as solar energy or fuel-efficient equipment services, in 2012.

One North American equity manager quoted in the survey said, “Starting in late 2012, we divested from companies for which the majority of operations were in the tar sands, as well as utilities whose reliance on coal was greater than the national average. We also stated that we would not invest in coal companies.”

Another European equity manager who responded to the survey stated, “We divested from a company when we came to the conclusion that they were no longer part of the transition to a low-carbon economy as their portfolio of carbon-based fuels/assets began to rise materially.”

While the responses from the two equity managers above come from companies whose profiles have a specific sustainability or climate change theme, even mainstream investors mentioned veering away from high-carbon investments.

“We are highly unlikely to participate in unlisted equity investments that are high carbon,” said one mainstream Australian asset owner.

The groups that coordinated the survey, the European Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, the North American Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR), the Australia/New Zealand Investor Group on Climate Change and the Asia Investor Group on Climate Change, said the findings were “encouraging” but that climate change policy uncertainty remained.

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