BY Riki Wilchins
August 14 2013
Another August, and another Michigan Womyn’s (But Not Trans) Music Festival, an annual exercise in gender hypocrisy. Even as the military has given up “don’t ask, don’t tell,” MichFest clings to it like drowning myn to a raft.
In case you’ve missed the beginning of this saga, some years ago MichFest security personnel forcibly ejected an attendee they suspected of being a transgender woman. She was given time neither to alert her friends nor collect her belongings.
MichFest’s owner then retroactively announced a new policy called “womyn-born-womyn only.” This may have lacked an exact English-language translation but had the advantage of being understood by all concerned as a kinder, gentler expression of “No Trannies Allowed.”
In subsequent years Camp Trans, an educational protest event, set up shop across the road from the main gate, and it eventually attracted hundreds of trans women and their friends. It was often difficult to tell the genderqueer women at Camp Trans from the genderqueer women going into the festival across the road.
After some years of confrontation, festival officials decided to cease ejecting transgender women and settled into a surly silence on the issue. Their gender policy can be distilled to four familiar words: “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
They won’t ask if we’re transgender, and we can attend as long as we don’t tell them, or anyone else. This policy was just so successful for gay Marines in the showers, so why not let it work its magic in peace at Michigan?
Oh, yeah. Even the Marines have given up DADT.
So that leaves MichFest as the remaining pillar supporting this discriminatory, duplicitous, and degrading policy. Even well-known lesbian artists like the Indigo Girls have responded by refusing to play any further MichFest dates until the festival adopts a fully inclusive attendance policy.
The reality of male privilege is well established. Women struggle to get into positions of power within business or politics. Women make 5- to 7-percent less than similarly situated men, even when all other variables are accounted for, leaving discrimination as the primary culprit. The epidemic of sexual assault in the military is longstanding, getting worse, and a national shame. There is no question that being female carries a significant “life penalty” with it. There’s no denying that male privilege exists.
However, sometimes it feels taboo to ask how far male privilege goes. Who better to ask about it, though, than trans men and women who have lived on both sides of the divide?
Recently, I came across a blog post by a trans man of color who asked whether trans men really have it easier. It explored the intersectionality of gender and race in his experience. He concluded that being seen by society as a black man carried more disadvantages than being seen as a black woman, thanks to the prevalence of profiling. When I shared this blog post with other trans people, the responses were mixed.
A white trans man friend who read this blog post observed:
I’m hesitant to say that either side of the spectrum has it easier than the other, because a struggle is a struggle. But 99% of the time, trans men definitely do have it easier.
A trans woman of color who is also a veteran observed that the intersection of being a person of color and a trans woman is even worse:
I was stopped for looking like a drug dealer by the local police. It didn’t help when the local addicts would walk up to me and ask for their stuff. However, I haven’t read a single story when a trans* woman of color was attacked and lived. I’ve slowly accepted the fact that my chances of surviving in Afghanistan were higher than my chances being out in America. Once I transition, life expectancy goes out the window.
Her observations are in line with the statistics we have. According to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 45 percent of all LGBT people murdered in hate crimes are trans women (despite being only about 6 percent of the LGBT community). Of those transgender persons murdered, 87 percent are trans women of color. My friend was even right about the level of violence: Trans people who survive hate crimes are 1.76 times more likely to require significant medical attention than other LGB victims. Economically, transgender people are twice as likely to be unemployed and four times as likely to live on less than $10,000 per year.
BY Sunnivie Brydum
August 15 2013
A federal judge ruled Wednesday that a first-of-its-kind persecution case against antigay American evangelist Scott Lively filed by LGBT Ugandans can proceed, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights, which helped Sexual Minorities Uganda file the international lawsuit. Lively had filed a request to dismiss the suit, saying his antigay proselytizing was protected by his First Amendment rights to free speech.
The ruling “is a significant victory for human rights everywhere but most especially for LGBTI Ugandans who are seeking accountability from those orchestrating our persecution,” said Frank Mugisha, executive director of SMUG.
The suit seeks to hold Lively responsible for conspiring with religious and government leaders to persecute LGBT people in Uganda, where parliament is still considering the so-called Kill the Gays bill that proposes capital punishment of homosexuality in certain instances.
During opening arguments in January, the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights said Lively’s decade-long collaboration with political and religious leaders in Uganda deprived the nation’s LGBT people of basic human rights and should therefore be punishable under the Alien Tort Statute, which gives “survivors of egregious human rights abuses, wherever committed, the right to sue the perpetrators in the United States,” according to the Center for Justice and Accountability.
From Equality Matters: http://equalitymatters.org/blog/201308130004
by Luke Brinker
August 13, 2013
CNN invited hate group leader Randy Thomasson to appear on the network to condemn a new California law ensuring the rights of transgender teens to use facilities and participate in programs corresponding to their gender identities. Thomasson appeared along with the Transgender Law Center’s Masen Davis, a transgender male. At the end of the segment, Thomasson told Davis and host Brooke Baldwin, “Hey, good to talk to you ladies.”
Appearing on the August 13 edition of CNN Newsroom, Thomasson, president of the anti-LGBT hate group Save California, peddled standard transphobic tropes about “sexually confused” transgender individuals, before closing with his snide remark:
Such mean-spiritedness has been a hallmark of Thomasson’s work, so it is unclear why CNN saw fit to grant him a platform to spew his hatred. Thomasson routinely employs apocalyptic, hysterical rhetoric to denounce the LGBT movement. He has:
Continue reading at: http://equalitymatters.org/blog/201308130004
Media Matters: On CNN, Hate Group Leader Calls Transgender Man A Lady
From The Washington Blade: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/08/13/doma-benefit-issues/
By Chris Johnson
on August 13, 2013
Following the Supreme Court’s decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, the extent to which many federal benefits — taxes, Social Security, veterans benefits and family leave — will flow to married same-sex couples remains in question.
The Obama administration has extended certain benefits to married same-sex couples regardless of whether they live in the United States, but other benefits are still in limbo because of law, regulation or policy that determines whether a couple should be considered legally married.
Here’s a breakdown of these benefit categories and where they stand in terms of what’s obstructing their flow to married same-sex couples and what LGBT advocates see as the way forward:
Last week, the Social Security Administration announced for the first time it was starting to process retirement claims for married same-sex couples who apply for them in aftermath of the court decision on DOMA. But the extension of these benefits is limited.
On Friday, the agency published guidance indicating these benefits will flow to same-sex married couples living in states that recognize their unions, but couples that apply for these benefits in non-marriage equality states for the time being will have their requests placed on hold.
“Bill (the claimant) and Bob (the NH) marry in MA after MA recognizes same-sex marriage, but are domiciled Texas (TX),” the guidance says. “Bill files for husband’s benefits on Bob’s record. They meet all other factors of entitlement. Hold the claim.”
William “BJ” Jarrett, a Social Security spokesperson, confirmed on Monday the agency is processing some Social Security retirement spouse claims when the individual was married in a state that permits same-sex marriage and lives in a marriage-equality state at the time of application — or while the claim is pending a final determination. Still, he acknowledged other retirement claims are on hold.
Continue reading at: http://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/08/13/doma-benefit-issues/
By Kelly Diels
Tuesday, Aug 13, 2013
When Rebecca Meredith took the stage in March at the Glasgow Ancients, an annual university debate tournament, she and her debate partner, Marlena Valles, were prepared for a little heckling. After all, Meredith is ranked the third top university debater in Europe in 2012 and Valles won best speaker in Scotland’s 2013 national championship, so between the two of them they’ve “beaten men in debates hundreds of times” and “can deal with heckles,” writes Meredith in the Huffington Post. But even before the two debaters started speaking, a cadre of men in the audience began to boo, continued to boo throughout the debate, shouted “Shame, woman!” and “analysed their sexual attractiveness.” When a woman judge intervened, reports Lucy Sheriff, the men called the judge “a frigid bitch.”
Feminist Marilyn Webb has a similar story. When she took the stage to speak at the New Left’s Counter-Inaugural, she tells Susan Faludi in the April edition of the New Yorker, men in the audience immediately started shouting things like “Take her off the stage and fuck her!” and “Fuck her down the alley.” Author and activist Shulamith Firestone tried to speak after Webb, writes Faludi, “but was drowned out by a howl of sexual epithets.”
Legally speaking, “you can heckle a speaker but you can’t drown them out,” explains Wendy Kaminer, a lawyer, author and free speech advocate. Drowning out speakers or preventing them from speaking by threatening to create a violent reprisal is called “the Heckler’s Veto.” Considering the 2010 case of University of California students arrested for trying to prevent Karl Rove from speaking at a book-signing, Kaminer writes for the Atlantic that “protestors were not exercising their First Amendment rights so much as they were effectively restricting the rights of others.” Because they sought to use their heckler’s veto to silence a speaker, the speech of the students was no longer protected as free by the First Amendment.
The Heckler’s Veto is an ongoing concern for free speech advocates because it’s a live-action attempt to curtail the free speech of a public speaker – one that’s used time after time, year after year. The New Left Counter-Inaugural at which women speakers were heckled and drowned out, for example, took place in 1969. Rebecca Meredith’s experience with an attempted heckler’s veto (she and her partner went on to finish their debate) was in 2013.
Forty-four years. What’s changed?
Continue reading at: http://www.salon.com/2013/08/13/womens_free_speech_is_under_attack/
By Amanda Hess
Posted Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013
Cindy grew up in small-town Ohio, the daughter of a union factory worker and a homemaker. Her mom packed her dad’s lunch every day, the family headed to church every week, and summers were punctuated by car-trip vacations. Now in her mid-40s, Cindy is a twice-divorced single mom working a minimum-wage job at a local convenience store in her hometown. Her first husband deserted her; her second beat her. She now lives with her daughter Megan, 20, who never graduated high school, has already weathered one abusive relationship, and is currently dating a man who is in jail. Neither Megan nor Cindy is eager to get married anytime soon.
Compare them to Earl and Jan, a middle-aged, middle-class couple living in the Pacific Northwest with their two children. Earl and Jan maintain the health of their marriage by “eating dinner as a family most nights, scheduling couple’s ‘date nights,’ spending family weekends at their vacation cabin disconnected from electronics, and traveling together at least once a year.” When their daughter began acting out in her teen years, they constructed a barn, bought her a horse, and enrolled her in a private school “with an equestrian focus.” When their children left the nest, they recommitted to their relationship by investing in a gym membership for Earl and college courses for Jan. They remain happily married.
For their new paper “Intimate Inequalities: Love and Work in a Post-Industrial Landscape,” University of Virginia sociologist Sarah Corse and Harvard sociologist Jennifer Silva interviewed 300 working- and middle-class Americans like Cindy, Megan, Earl, and Jan about their work and relationships. They found that as the American workforce and the American marriage have destabilized over the past half-century, marriage has become an increasingly inaccessible option for working-class Americans. While middle-class people like Earl and Jan are throwing money at their intimate relationships to keep them stable, working-class people like Cindy and Megan have been priced out of the institution.
Thanks to falling working-class wages, the outsourcing of American manufacturing, the thinning of company benefits, and the rise of part-time and self-employment, American jobs are, in many ways, less stable than ever. Unskilled workers without a higher education are finding it more difficult to translate blue-collar work into middle-class stability. Many of the working-class Americans interviewed by Silva and Corse are now too concerned with maintaining their “own survival” to “imagine being able to provide materially and emotionally for others.” Meanwhile, marriage itself has transformed into a luxury item. Over the past century, the old model of obligatory American marriage, which was “rooted in male authority” and “backed by both religious and legal mandates,” gave way to “companionate” marriages dedicated to prioritizing “the couple as equal individuals” in the family structure. Now, as Silva and Corse tell it, a new age of “therapeutic” marriage has arisen to focus on the “happiness, equality, mutuality, and self-actualization of individuals.”
From Robert Reich: http://robertreich.org/post/58082787864
Why is the nation more bitterly divided today than it’s been in eighty years? Why is there more anger, vituperation, and political polarization now than even during Joe McCarthy’s anti-communist witch hunts of the 1950s, the tempestuous struggle for civil rights in the 1960s, the divisive Vietnam war, or the Watergate scandal?
If anything, you’d think this would be an era of relative calm. The Soviet Union has disappeared and the Cold War is over. The Civil Rights struggle continues, but at least we now have a black middle class and even a black President. While the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been controversial, the all-volunteer army means young Americans aren’t being dragged off to war against their will. And although politicians continue to generate scandals, the transgressions don’t threaten the integrity of our government as did Watergate.
And yet, by almost every measure, Americans are angrier today. They’re more contemptuous of almost every major institution — government, business, the media. They’re more convinced the nation is on the wrong track. And they are far more polarized.
Political scientists say the gap between the median Republican voter and the median Democrat is wider today on a whole host of issues than it’s been since the 1920s.
Undoubedly, social media play a part — allowing people to pop off without bearing much responsibility for what they say. And most of us can cocoon within virtual or real communities whose members confirm all our biases and assumptions.
Meanwhile, cable news and yell radio compete for viewers and listeners by being ever more strident. Not long ago I debated a Republican economic advisor on a cable TV program. During the brief station-break, the show’s producer told me to “be angrier.” I told her I didn’t want to be angrier. “You have to,” she said. “Viewers are surfing through hundreds of channels and will stop for a gladiator contest.”
Continue reading at: http://robertreich.org/post/58082787864
The first batch of secret service documents about Aaron Swartz has been released amid a legal battle to publicly share the 14,500 pages the government has amassed in its investigation of the internet activist.
A report of his suicide, evidence documents and a memorandum of an interview with an unidentified acquaintance are included in the 104-page cache published by Wired’s Kevin Poulsen on Monday.
Swartz was federally indicted on 13 charges including computer fraud, theft of information and wire fraud for downloading 4m articles from the JSTOR database through the Massachusetts Institute of Technology computer network. He was facing up to $1m in fines and 35 years in jail for these charges when he killed himself in January.
The documents show that the secret service was interested in a document penned by Swartz and others calling for open information – the Guerilla Open Access Manifesto. Some, including a congressional aide, believe this document was used to establish “malicious intent” in the government’s case against him.
A considerable portion of the documents are evidence logs detailing the equipment seized by the government or handed over by Swartz, including computers, storage equipment and earnings statements from Google and Harvard University.
Swartz was present for at least one search of his Cambridge apartment, according to a February 2011 document that reads: “While the search was conducted, Swartz made statements to the effect of, what took you so long, and why didn’t you do this earlier?”
Nearly every page included in the release is redacted in some way, primarily obscuring names of investigators or those who were interviewed by government officials about Swartz.
Two groups that have impeded the release of the documents, JSTOR and MIT are not mentioned in the released files. The groups are seeking approval to get an advance review of the documents, following a court order for the files to be released.
By Arturo Garcia
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Police in Arlington, Texas are being criticized for their tactics during a drug raid on a local farm that came up empty while allegedly damaging both the property and the crops.
“They can’t even tell the difference between tomato plants and a marijuana drug cartel,” farm resident Quinn Eaker told KXAS-TV. “That’s just really bad intel.”
Eaker said to KXAS that he and several residents at the “Garden of Eden” sustainability garden were handcuffed at gunpoint by officers during the Aug. 2 raid, which also involved a SWAT team, after an undercover officer and helicopter surveillance allegedly gave authorities probable cause to believe there was marijuana being grown on the premises.
“They came here under the guise that we were doing a drug trafficking, marijuana-growing operation,” owner Shellie Smith told WFAA-TV. “They destroyed everything.”
The Dallas Morning News reported that the farm’s account of the raid, which accuses police of destroying plants and removing needed materials from the farm, has spread online, while police counter that they conducted themselves professionally during the action.
“Yes, they were initially handcuffed,” police spokesperson Christopher Cook told the Morning News. “However, once it was determined it was secure they were taken out of handcuffs. Typically we wouldn’t do that, but they were compliant.”
Yet instead of sending in a tactical team to tear down Bulger’s door in the middle of the night, the FBI took a different appraoch. After some investigating, FBI officials cut the lock on a storage locker Bulger used in the apartment complex where he was staying. They then had the property manager call Bulger to tell him someone may have broken into his locker. When Bulger went to investigate, he was arrested without incident. There was no battering ram, there were no flash grenades, there was no midnight assault on his home.
That peaceful apprehension of a known violent fugitive, found guilty this week of participating in 11 murders and a raft of other crimes, stands in stark contrast to the way tens of thousands of Americans are confronted each year by SWAT teams battering down their doors to serve warrants for nonviolent crimes, mostly involving drugs.
On the night of Jan. 5, 2011, for example, police in Framingham, Mass., raided a Fountain Street apartment that was home to Eurie Stamps and his wife, Norma Bushfan-Stamps. An undercover officer had allegedly purchased drugs from Norma’s 20-year-old son, Joseph Bushfan, and another man, Dwayne Barrett, earlier that evening, and now the police wanted to arrest them. They took a battering ram to the door, set off a flash grenade, and forced their way inside.
As the SWAT team moved through the apartment, screaming at everyone to get on the floor, Officer Paul Duncan approached Eurie Stamps. The 68-year-old, not suspected of any crime, was watching a basketball game in his pajamas when the police came in.
By the time Duncan got to him in a hallway, Stamps was face-down on the floor with his arms over his head, as police had instructed him. As Duncan moved to pull Stamps’ arms behind him, he says he fell backwards, somehow causing his gun to discharge, shooting Stamps. The grandfather of 12 was killed in his own home, while complying with police orders during a raid for crimes in which he had no involvement.
From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/08/15-4
We are well into summer 2013, and in the West temperatures are high, wildfires are raging, and droughts are in effect in many states.
One state that has been hit particularly hard is New Mexico. Nearly 90 percent of the state is experiencing extreme to exceptional drought conditions, and the Rio Grande is now often referred to as the “Rio Sand.” This is why a recent headline in the Albuquerque Journal titled “NM Farmers Selling Water to Oil and Gas Developers” makes absolutely no sense. In fact, it reflects the sheer folly and arrogance of humankind.
The paper reported that some farmers in New Mexico, who have been impacted by the drought, have been selling water to the oil and gas industry for fracking (hydraulic fracturing refers to the process by which fluid is injected into wells under high pressure to create cracks and fissures in rock formations that improve the production of these wells). Some are even pumping precious water from aquifers to sell to frackers.
A New Mexican water official said “The oil and gas industry is requiring a lot of water and our concern is the effect it’s having on our aquifer,” he added. “We are concerned about losing water that can’t be recovered. Hopefully, we will get through this drought and everyone will be intact.”
On top of the insanity of desperate farmers selling water for fracking is the number of people still moving to arid places, and the impact on the environment. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times – “New Mexico is the Driest of the Dry” – noted that “As Western cities continue their march into wildlands, the growing desert and the sprawling suburbs are on a collision course.” At least in New Mexico the population is barely growing, but there is the ever constant push for more and more unsustainable development.
Facts on Fracking and Water
The Pacific Institute, a nonprofit research and policy organization, reported in its 2012 study Hydraulic Fracturing and Water Resources: Separating the Frack from the Fiction that “The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) reports that fracturing shale gas wells requires between 2.3 million and 3.8 million gallons of water per well. An additional 40,000 – 1,000,000 gallons is required to drill the well.” The authors also found that “New data, however, suggest that the water requirements for fracking shale gas wells might be both much larger and more variable than is reported by the U.S. EPA.”
Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/08/15-4
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers
Wednesday, 14 August 2013
While a clean energy future is inevitable, questions remain about how quickly we will get there.
The impossible has become inevitable. A carbon-free, nuclear-free energy economy is our future. Despite the energy industry’s hard work to keep energy dirty and damaging, the future will be clean and sustainable. Government is not leading the way. The new energy revolution is coming from the ground up, not the top down.
The United States and world face a series of interconnected crises: climate change caused by carbon-based energies like oil and methane gas; a shrinking supply of carbon fuel that has led to wars for oil and extreme extraction methods using tar sands, hydro-fracking, mountaintop removal and deep off-shore drilling; and proliferation of nuclear weapons of mass destruction and long-term environmental damage from the production of nuclear energy.
The human and environmental costs of fossil fuel and nuclear power as sources of energy are being felt by a growing number of people worldwide. At the same time, there is a realization that the government is doing little to nothing to encourage a transition from extractive to clean renewable sources. Instead, the Obama administration reveals its alliance with the status quo through the revolving door between industry insiders and government positions, the use of energy industry consultants to perform environmental impact statements, the suppression of unfavorable analyses and disregard for the concerns of people who are affected by energy extraction.
These crises and lack of response have sparked widespread resistance and a variety of approaches to stop extraction and demand renewables. This summer, there have been direct actions almost daily by coalitions of people through Fearless Summer, Sovereign Summer and Summer Heat to shut down pipeline construction and drilling for fracking. Anti-nuclear groups have won several victories to close plants and prevent the construction of new ones.
And the oil, gas and nuclear industries are employing more extreme methods to protect their profits, including the use of eminent domain to take land, hiring local police to patrol pipelines and avoiding the costs of cleaning up their toxic spills. People who object to the poisoning of the air, land and water are labeled “terrorists” and treated abusively. And families that are sickened from chemicals used in processes such as fracking and their doctors are forbidden to reveal the identity of those chemicals to others.
By Rod Bastanmehr
August 15, 2013
Hello everyone, hope you’re doing well. Just wanted to quickly check in and remind you that we are literally destroying this planet and making it into hell on earth.
According to a new study designed to both inform and ruin your day a little bit, severe heat waves—the kind that make it impossible to grow crops or have, like, forests—are expected to become increasingly and horrifically frequent over the course of the next 30 years (and here’s the worst part, so sit down if you haven’t already died of heat stroke): this will happen regardless of whether humans curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Much of the effects that we’ll be seeing come from steady momentum started by the constant carbon dioxide emissions of the 21st century, but decreasing emissions for the second half is, according to the study, imperative—even though we may not see the impact of such reductions for another several decades.
Additionally, the frequency with which we’ve begun seen heat waves has strongly increased since about the 1950s, and “right now they cover about 5% of the global land area,” said Dim Coumou, a climate scientist for the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany (or PICID, for those tallying up some of the world’s most heinous sounding acronyms). As of now, if levels of carbon dioxide continue to increase in the atmosphere as they are today, researchers believe that heat extremes might cover 85% of the Earth’s land by 2100. And worse (worse!) five-stigma event, an even hotter and currently nonexistent heat wave—would affect 60% of the globe’s land area.
In the meantime, scientists have began explaining the kind of changes we will be seeing to the culture at large, including the need to breed crops that are more resilient to heat and drought, or preparing the healthcare system for the wave of heat-stressed patients that will surely be cropping up (also, phrases like “cropping up” will surely become obsolete once it is revealed that we are no longer able to grow crops).
Continue reading at: http://www.alternet.org/environment/extreme-heat-waves-quadruple-2040