Trans-Hating RadFem Bigots Steal Amanda Marcotte’s Blog Domain “Pandagon.Net”

For years Amanda Marcotte’s Blog: Pandagon @ was at the top of my daily must read blogs.  Right up there with Pam’s House Blend.

I loved that Amanda lived down in Austin and had written a couple of Third Wave Feminist books, both of which I had.

After the emotional beatings TS and TG women had taken at the hands of the 1970’s era RadFems I had pretty much written Feminism off as something I wanted to be part of.  I had apathetically slid into the category of “I am not really a feminist… But…”

So many other causes out there.

Feeling purged from movements or simply feeling those movements are irrelevant when it comes to meeting any personal concerns makes dropping out easy.  Why the fuck care when you have to hide who you are and pretend not to notice the abuse of people who are in the same category as yourself.

Pandagon brought me back to caring.  Amanda Marcotte is one of my blogging idols.

When something shitty like this happens to her I get pissed the same way I would if someone I was personally friends with was harmed.

Amanda moved Pandagon to Raw Story much the same way Pam moved her Blog to Fire Dog Lake.  Unfortunately she failed to renew ownership of the domain of her former stand alone Blog

RadFem hijackers with absolutely zero ethics stole the Domain, and are now using it to spread their TG/TS hating bigotry.

A Short Statement On Anti-Trans Bigots Swiping

“Well, I don’t think anyone’s fighting to be included in their circle jerk. I just don’t think we should do them the honor of calling them “feminists”, radical or otherwise. This isn’t a No True Scotsman thing; feminists believe in equality, and anti-trans bigotry is fundamentally anti-equality. it’s definitional, at a certain point.”   
Amanda Marcotte

By Amanda Marcotte
Monday, August 19, 2013 11:31 EDT

It’s been brought to my attention that the old URL for Pandagon, before it moved her to Raw Story, expired without my or Jesse Taylor’s knowledge, and has been purchased by a bunch of bigots who are using it as a platform to hate on transgender people. In case there’s any confusion—and I firmly believe that people of good faith know straightaway what Jesse and I have been targeted here and have nothing to do with this—let me state firmly, for the record: Jesse and I have nothing to do with this. I suspect what’s happened here is that a small group of obsessive anti-trans bigots—in order to “punish” me both for defending the rights of trans women to be called women and because I’ve pointed out before that transphobes claiming to be “radical feminists” are a marginal group of people who use social media and blogs to make themselves seem more relevant than they are—have hijacked the URL. That is the sort of sleazy behavior that you see with the small groups of obsessive haters that the internet is so good at cultivating, and practically an admission on the behalf of these anti-trans bigots that they have nothing better to do than harass people for disagreeing with them.

My fault here is in letting lapse, for which I apologize. For some reason, I don’t recall getting a notification that it lapsed. But let’s be clear: The real Pandagon is housed here on Raw Story, and anyone else using that name is a sleazy, corrupt, piece of shit.

To the people who took my old URL and are using it for your bigoted, hateful ends, I have only three words for you: GO FUCK YOURSELF.

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Imperial Court Founder Jose Julio Sarria Has Died at 91

From Frontiers LA:

by Karen Ocamb

LGBT pioneer Jose Julio Sarria died quietly at home in New Mexico Monday morning. Sarria was 91.

In 1961, Sarria became the first openly gay person to run for public office as a candidate for the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. At the time, homosexuality was illegal in the state. But Sarria is perhaps best known as “Empress Jose I, the Widow Norton,” and founder of the International Imperial Court.

The Imperial Court was honored by CSW/LA Pride in 2010 as the Community Grand Marshalls for their decades of community service and fundraising.

I will have more on this incredible gay man and proud drag queen in an upcoming special report.


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Lib Dem Baroness Barker: I regret that Parliament failed to make the marriage bill trans inclusive

From Pink News UK:

16 August 2013

Speaking to Diva magazine, gay Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Liz Barker says it’s wrong that trans people still require their spouse’s consent before they can have their gender legally recognised.

Many trans people and their allies are extremely disappointed that the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 for England and Wales has not removed the requirement.

Writing for earlier this month, Scottish Transgender Alliance Development Officer Nathan Gale explained: ”It is intended to protect the spouses of trans people from finding themselves in legally same-sex marriages, particularly as some people may have deeply held objections to same-sex marriage.

“At first glance this may seem fairly reasonable. But trans people must have been living as the gender they identify as for at least two years before applying for gender recognition and so their marriage has been in effect a same-sex marriage for that time already.”

In an interview with Diva, Baroness Barker admitted it was a failure of Parliament to allow the requirement to continue. She said: “I was sorry that we weren’t able to include the trans spousal veto in the new legislation; we spent a lot of time with representatives from the trans community and I know that they are not happy with the issue they refer to as ‘spousal veto’.”The government’s view is that the legislation now permits people who have transitioned to remain within the marriage they were in before, honouring their relationship. But they didn’t agree on the spousal veto, so the issue remains to be addressed in the future.”

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Calif. lawmaker removes son from school over transgender law

From LGBTQ Nation:

Friday, August 16, 2013

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A Republican state lawmaker says a new California law allowing transgender students to choose which restroom and locker room they use is part of the reason at least one of his sons will not return to his local public school this fall.

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, who lives in the Southern California mountain community of Twin Peaks, described his family’s decision in a column published on WND, a conservative website.

He wrote that under the bill from Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, the privacy rights of California students “will be replaced by the right to be ogled” and will encourage inappropriate behavior among hormone-driven teenagers.

“While trying to address a concern of less than 2 percent of the population, California is now forcibly violating the rights of the other 98 percent,” Donnelly wrote.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill into law on Monday, making California the first state to put such transgender pr otections into statute.

Donnelly told the Associated Press on Friday that his 13- and 16-year-old sons, who attend Rim of the World Unified School District in the San Bernardino Mountains, were “horrified” to learn they might have to share a restroom with female students.

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Success and Opportunity for Transgender Students

From Huffington Post:


The key to success and opportunity for transgender students throughout California is currently in the hands of Gov. Jerry Brown. Both houses of the California legislature passed A.B. 1266, a bill that would ensure that transgender students have equal access to facilities and activities that match their gender identity. Gov. Brown will now decide whether to sign this important nondiscrimination bill into law.

By making sure that transgender students can be themselves at school, A.B. 1266 will enrich the diversity of our schools and, ultimately, the lives of all our students. I know this firsthand.

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has had a similar approach in place for almost a decade. Our policy has helped transgender students feel comfortable, rather that isolated, at school. We made sure that students can use bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity. We have helped them join the appropriate gym classes and sports teams. And we have watched these students thrive.

Absent the protections offered by A.B. 1266, many transgender students throughout California will continue to go without essential support. They may fear going to school and being forced to use bathrooms and lockers rooms that do not reflect their gender identity. They may dread going to gym class and playing sports. They might skip gym class altogether and lose physical education requirements that are necessary for graduation.

Parent involvement is central to the success of our transgender students. When parents of transgender students come to us, they often think they are alone. These parents often worry about sending their children to school and fear that school officials will not know how to handle their gender identity.

Since the LAUSD implemented its policy, there has been a transformation in the district’s schools. Now numerous transgender students are succeeding, with the help and support of their families and schools.

Opponents of A.B. 1266 have expressed concerns that students will abuse the policy, imperiling the safety of others. But our experience stands in stark contrast to such fears: In all the years since the LAUSD implemented its policy, we have encountered nothing but positive results. We are committed to providing safe schools for all children. Our equal access policy enhances, rather than diminishes, school safety.

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‘We’re building a domestic army’ -Marine Corps colonel speaks out


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Which Side Are You On?

From World News Trust:

Mickey Z. — World News Trust
Aug. 16, 2013

“There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Anais Nin

How much more are we willing to tolerate before we take direct action?

What is our personal pain threshold?

When will we decide that we are less afraid of the State than of living on a planet without trees, without drinkable water, without arable land, without a hint of justice?

In the name of inspiring answers, I’ll say ssssshhhhhhh

Silence your cell phones, your TVs, silence the noise in your head… and just listen. Listen carefully. Can you hear it?

It’s a cry from the future, a mournful plea begging us to capture this moment. Can you hear it? Will you hear it? Or have you gotten so accustomed to losing that you choose instead to cover your ears, bury your head — finding endless excuses and myriad methods to ignore and/or discredit the efforts being made?

Listen again. Listen closer. This is our last, best chance… and what you hear is nothing less than the call to global revolution. How will you answer?

Another world is possible…
There was a time when human slavery was believed too deeply entrenched in American culture to ever be abolished. But the movement to end this “peculiar institution” was made up of individuals willing to recognize that some things in life are bigger than any of us.

Whether they literally risked their lives by rescuing slaves and running the Underground Railroad or played a role by sewing clothes or blankets for escaped slaves or lending financial support or handing out pamphlets or even writing books like Uncle Tom’s Cabin, the effort needed every single one of these brave humans doing their part — small or large.

File under: Tactics, diversity of.

What seems impossible and irreversible today can similarly be addressed when we’re willing to wake up and do the hard work… when we’re willing to stop making excuses for the reprehensible leaders (sic) — both political and corporate — who profit from our complacency.

Suggestion #1: The next time you’re about zone out to a Will & Grace re-run, why not do some deep contemplation instead? Take a good, long look into your heart and an even longer look at the choices you make all day, every day — not from place of guilt and shame but with a sense of revelation.

Ask yourself if your behavior is in line with your values. Accept the challenge to be better a human being, a more responsible earthling.

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How Laura Poitras Helped Snowden Spill His Secrets

From The New York Times Magazine:

Published: August 13, 2013

This past January, Laura Poitras received a curious e-mail from an anonymous stranger requesting her public encryption key. For almost two years, Poitras had been working on a documentary about surveillance, and she occasionally received queries from strangers. She replied to this one and sent her public key — allowing him or her to send an encrypted e-mail that only Poitras could open, with her private key — but she didn’t think much would come of it.

The stranger responded with instructions for creating an even more secure system to protect their exchanges. Promising sensitive information, the stranger told Poitras to select long pass phrases that could withstand a brute-force attack by networked computers. “Assume that your adversary is capable of a trillion guesses per second,” the stranger wrote.

Before long, Poitras received an encrypted message that outlined a number of secret surveillance programs run by the government. She had heard of one of them but not the others. After describing each program, the stranger wrote some version of the phrase, “This I can prove.”

Seconds after she decrypted and read the e-mail, Poitras disconnected from the Internet and removed the message from her computer. “I thought, O.K., if this is true, my life just changed,” she told me last month. “It was staggering, what he claimed to know and be able to provide. I just knew that I had to change everything.”

Poitras remained wary of whoever it was she was communicating with. She worried especially that a government agent might be trying to trick her into disclosing information about the people she interviewed for her documentary, including Julian Assange, the editor of WikiLeaks. “I called him out,” Poitras recalled. “I said either you have this information and you are taking huge risks or you are trying to entrap me and the people I know, or you’re crazy.”

The answers were reassuring but not definitive. Poitras did not know the stranger’s name, sex, age or employer (C.I.A.? N.S.A.? Pentagon?). In early June, she finally got the answers. Along with her reporting partner, Glenn Greenwald, a former lawyer and a columnist for The Guardian, Poitras flew to Hong Kong and met the N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden, who gave them thousands of classified documents, setting off a major controversy over the extent and legality of government surveillance. Poitras was right that, among other things, her life would never be the same.

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Glenn Greenwald: Detaining my partner: a failed attempt at intimidation

From The Guardian UK:

The detention of my partner, David Miranda, by UK authorities will have the opposite effect of the one intended

The Guardian, Sunday 18 August 2013

At 6:30 am this morning my time – 5:30 am on the East Coast of the US – I received a telephone call from someone who identified himself as a “security official at Heathrow airport.” He told me that my partner, David Miranda, had been “detained” at the London airport “under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act of 2000.”

David had spent the last week in Berlin, where he stayed with Laura Poitras, the US filmmaker who has worked with me extensively on the NSA stories. A Brazilian citizen, he was returning to our home in Rio de Janeiro this morning on British Airways, flying first to London and then on to Rio. When he arrived in London this morning, he was detained.

At the time the “security official” called me, David had been detained for 3 hours. The security official told me that they had the right to detain him for up to 9 hours in order to question him, at which point they could either arrest and charge him or ask a court to extend the question time. The official – who refused to give his name but would only identify himself by his number: 203654 – said David was not allowed to have a lawyer present, nor would they allow me to talk to him.

I immediately contacted the Guardian, which sent lawyers to the airport, as well various Brazilian officials I know. Within the hour, several senior Brazilian officials were engaged and expressing indignation over what was being done. The Guardian has the full story here.

Despite all that, five more hours went by and neither the Guardian’s lawyers nor Brazilian officials, including the Ambassador to the UK in London, were able to obtain any information about David. We spent most of that time contemplating the charges he would likely face once the 9-hour period elapsed.

According to a document published by the UK government about Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act, “fewer than 3 people in every 10,000 are examined as they pass through UK borders” (David was not entering the UK but only transiting through to Rio). Moreover, “most examinations, over 97%, last under an hour.” An appendix to that document states that only .06% of all people detained are kept for more than 6 hours.

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Breaking the Rules Thousands of Times at the N.S.A.

From The New Yorker:

Posted by August 16, 2013

What does the National Security Agency consider a small or a big number? The Washington Posts Barton Gellman has a report based on documents the paper got from Edward Snowden about an N.S.A. audit that found two thousand seven hundred and seventy-six “incidents” in 2012 in which it broke its own rules about spying on Americans, either accidentally or on purpose. That is seven times a day, which sounds less like a slip than a ritual. But to call those violations frequent, according to the agency, would be to misunderstand the scale of its operations: “You can look at it as a percentage of our total activity that occurs each day,” a senior N.S.A. official told the paper. “You look at a number in absolute terms that looks big, and when you look at it in relative terms, it looks a little different.” We spy so much that the math gets hard; even thousands of privacy and legal violations can’t really be held against us.

But how many thousands? As it turns out, there are numbers packed into the numbers. An “incident” can have affected multiple people—even multitudes. In a single one of the two thousand seven hundred and seventy-six cases, someone at the N.S.A. made a mistake in entering a number into a search request. As a result, instead of pulling information on phone calls from Egypt (country code 20) the agency got data on “a large number” of calls from Washington, D.C. (area code 202). How many, and what did they learn? There are more Egyptians than there are Washingtonians, but the N.S.A.’s mandate forbids it from spying on Americans, and singling out an area as politicized as Washington seems particularly unfortunate. Mistyping the country code for Iran could have left analysts looking at calls in North Carolina and Louisiana. Another incident involved “the unlawful retention of 3,032 files that the surveillance court had ordered the NSA to destroy…. Each file contained an undisclosed number of telephone call records.” The Post said that it was not able to tell how many Americans were affected in all. Those two examples suggest that the number could be very, very big—even by the N.S.A.’s standards.

There are other ways the number multiplies. One incident involved someone the N.S.A. continued to target well after it confirmed that he had a green card, and was therefore off limits. There were four “selectors” associated with this person—these might be things like e-mail addresses or phone number—which led to requests for “881 cuts in NUCLEON,” a program that collects the contents of phone calls; thirty-two reports; and “serialized dissemination” of information to other parts of the government. There are many ways to get on a list; what seems hard is getting off of one.

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GOP Tries to Convince Women That Having Their Rights Taken Away is a Good Thing

From PoliticusUSA:

By: Sarah Jones
Aug. 18th, 2013

Carly Fiorina is one of the Republican Party’s few female standard bearers and so she keeps getting booked on TV to sell Republicanism. On ABC’s This Week today, she pretended that the Republican Party is really not-so-extreme on women’s issues and thus, you single ladies should vote Republican.

Naturally this involved much moving of the goal posts in trying to pass off Rick Perry’s (R-TX) anti-women legislation as not extreme — thereby totally missing the point and ignoring the real issue, or as Republicans say, “Winning.”

Fiorina ended up actually arguing that there are only five countries in the world that give women freedom and authority over their bodies so why should we consider Republicans extreme for not wanting to be one of them?

(Quotes from ABC News’s transcript.)

Stephanopoulos asked, “Mitt Romney won married women, but lost single women by almost 50 — 46 points. How do you turn that around?”

Fironia tried to take Rick Perry’s anti-women turd and turn it into gold by distorting the issue, “We have to turn it around by having reasonable discussions around the things labeled extreme. A very simple example. First of all, not everyone in the Republican party is pro-life, I am, but there are many pro-choice republicans. When Governor Perry pushed forward legislation in Texas to ban abortion after 20 weeks, it was labeled as an extreme move.”

Oh, she was hardly done with pretending not to understand the real issue. She continued that there are only five countries in the world that give women freedom so why should we?

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Carly Fiorina: Texas abortion law ‘not particularly extreme’

Of course the Radfems never seem to attack Republican women who are misogynistic right wing Yuppie Scum.

From Raw Story:

By David Edwards
Sunday, August 18, 2013

Former Republican Senate candidate Carly Fiorina says that an abortion law that is expected to close all but five of the 42 abortion clinics in Texas is “not a particularly extreme” position.

During a Sunday panel discussion about how to attract more voters to the Republican Party, ABC News host George Stephanopolous asked Fiorina how the party could solve its demographic challenges and turn around Mitt Romney’s loss of single women by almost 50 points.

“We have to turn it around by having reasonable discussions around the things that are labeled extreme,” the former Hewlett-Packard CEO explained. “First of all, not everyone in the Republican Party is pro-life. I happen to be pro-life, but there are many pro-choice Republicans.”

“But, example: When Gov. [Rick] Perry pushed forward legislation in Texas to ban abortion after 20 weeks, it was labeled as an extreme move,” Fiorina pointed out. “That’s five months. Five months. There are only four counties in the world that have — that legalize abortion after five months: China, North Korea, Canada and the U.S. That’s actually not a particularly extreme position to say a woman needs to have a choice up to five months, and then there really has to be a medical reason.”

She added: “But it gets cast as a very extreme point. I would be willing to wager there are many, many single women who are pro-choice, who say, ‘You know what? Five months sounds reasonable to me.’ So, I think part of the Republican Party’s challenge is to not fall into the trap of having issues cast the way our political opponents want them cast, and be willing and courageous enough to actually have the debate on our terms.”

Whole Woman’s Health CEO Amy Hagsrom Miller told KUT News last month that the Texas law’s requirement that every abortion clinic in the state conform to ambulatory surgical center (ASC) standards would likely reduce the number of clinics from 42 to 5.

And The Austin Chronicle‘s Jordan Smith concluded that the law amounted to “suppression by regulation.”

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Hemant Mehta on rising atheism among millenials: ‘It’s not that Christianity is unpopular, it’s that it’s untrue.’

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Los Angeles Neighborhood Tries to Change, but Avoid the Pitfalls

The last area I lived in while in LA was East Hollywood, Where Hollywood met Silverlake and Los Feliz.  I used to go to a Chicano Coffee House occasionally and to a Chicano Art Gallery.  Before I left I was spending time in art spaces near Highland Park and down by the river.  It makes me happy en mi corazón to read of young and creative people choosing to live Boyle Heights and make it a place of art and culture.

From The New York Times:

Published: August 17, 2013

LOS ANGELES — When Juan Romero was a boy in the 1980s, people talked about his neighborhood, Boyle Heights, as a place to escape. The area was besieged by gangs, public schools were struggling, and a vast majority of residents were barely above the poverty line.

These days, the crime rate has plummeted. And while many residents in the largely immigrant neighborhood on the eastern edge of Los Angeles are still struggling to get by, there are signs of rapid change. Primera Taza, a coffee shop Mr. Romero opened, is one of them, evidence of what some local residents call gentefication, as more well-to-do and younger Mexican-Americans return to the neighborhood their parents fled.

The transition has provided a jolt of energy and a transfusion of money, but it has also created friction with working-class residents here. And tensions over just whom this neighborhood belongs to are a clear sign that Latinos have come of age in Los Angeles, where they are expected to become the majority this year. The changes highlight strong class divisions that continue — or are even worsened — among immigrants.

“We’re not trying to get out of the barrio, we’re trying to bring the barrio up,” said Marco Amador, who runs an Internet radio station out of a storefront he helped open in Boyle Heights last fall. It is just down the block from Mariachi Plaza, which for years has attracted musicians looking for jobs at weddings and quinceñeras — special 15th birthday celebrations.

Boyle Heights has historically attracted immigrants from Eastern Europe, Russia, Japan and Mexico. In the 1960s, it became a hotbed of Chicano activism, and many of the colorful murals over dozens of walls are a vivid reminder of the era. For those moving back now, the idea that they are pushing others out is the source of much consternation.

When Evonne Gallardo, the executive director of Self Help Graphics, an arts group that has worked in the area for decades, began to hear about plans to officially designate part of the neighborhood as an arts district, she welcomed the idea. But when she heard complaints from longtime residents, she organized discussions with community activists that turned into debates about the potential pitfalls of change.

“We all can think of examples of neighborhoods we don’t want to be,” Ms. Gallardo said. “But we don’t know exactly what we do want. It’s not just about staving off Starbucks, but how we keep the things that attract us to this neighborhood in the first place, where taco trucks were parked way before it was trendy.”

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Our Gilded Age Education System

From In These Times:

The ongoing education debate has little to do with schools and everything to do with money.

BY David Sirota
August 16, 2013

Paradoxes come in all different forms, but here’s one that perfectly fits this Gilded Age: the most significant lesson from the ongoing debate about American education has little to do with schools and everything to do with money. This lesson comes from a series of recent scandals that expose the financial motives of the leaders of the so-called education “reform” movement—the one that is trying to privatize public schools.

The first set of scandals engulfed Tony Bennett, the former Indiana school superintendent and much-vaunted poster boy for the privatization push. After voters in that state threw him out of office, he was quickly given a job as the education chief in Florida. At the same time, his wife not-so-coincidentally landed a gig with the Florida-based Charter Schools USA—a for-profit company that not only has an obvious interest in Bennett privatizing Florida schools, but that also was previously awarded lucrative contracts by Bennett in Indiana.

Grotesque as it is to shroud such self-enriching graft in the veneer of helping children, the self-dealing controversy wasn’t Bennett’s most revealing scandal. That distinction goes to recent news that Bennett changed the grades of privately run charter schools on behalf of his financial backers. Indeed, as the Associated Press reported, “When it appeared an Indianapolis charter school run by a prominent Republican donor might receive a poor grade, Bennett’s education team frantically overhauled his signature ‘A-F’ school grading system to improve the school’s marks.” Yet, the Associated Press also reported that just a year before, Bennett “declined to give two Indianapolis public schools (the) same flexibility.”

In response, the American Federation of Teachers is asking Indiana to release emails between Bennett and the education foundation run by former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.)—another  prominent face of the “reform” movement. The union is requesting this correspondence because of another scandal—this one publicized by the Washington Post.

Under the headline “E-mails link Bush foundation, corporations and education officials,” the newspaper earlier this year reported on correspondence showing the foundation carefully shaping its education “reform” agenda not around policies that would most help children—but around legislation that would most quickly expand the profit margins of its donors in the for-profit education industry.

Before all of these controversies, of course, there were plenty of ways to see that something other than concern for kids has been driving “reformers’” push to privatize public schools.

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Texan drought sets residents against fracking

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More Texas Cities Promoting Bicycle Use

From Texas Tribune:

August 18, 2013

In Fort Worth, the mayor hosts occasional bicycle rides called “Rolling Town Halls.” The Dallas City Council could may soon require new businesses to set aside space for bicycle parking. Over in El Paso, officials are developing plans for a bike-share system, which is expected to be the fifth such program in the state after Austin’s makes its debuts this year.

In car-clogged communities around Texas, a biking movement is gaining speed. Midsize and large cities are expanding bike trails and putting roads on “lane diets” to accomodate bike lanes.

“Biking has just exploded over the last year in Houston,” said Laura Spanjian, director of Mayor Annise Parker’s office of sustainability.

While curbing traffic and air pollution prompted earlier interest in such initiatives, those concerns are now overshadowed in some cities by other motivating factors, particularly boosts to public health, quality of life and economic development.

“It’s really being embraced for solving a lot of problems. It’s not this sort of fringe, tree-hugger issue anymore,” said Linda DuPriest, a former bicycle-pedestrian program coordinator for Austin who is now a senior planner for Alta Planning + Design, a Portland, Ore.-based design firm that focuses on bike infrastructure. In June, DuPriest opened the agency’s Texas office in Dallas.

“Texas is really ripe” for an expansion in bike infrastructure, said Mia Birk, the firm’s president and a former bicycle program manager with the City of Portland, widely regarded as a national model for biking infrastructure. “There’s so many cities that are growing and thriving, and really looking for ways to create healthier opportunities for residents and businesses.”

Rising obesity rates across the country have drawn increased attention to Texas, where two-thirds of the state’s residents are overweight or clinically obese. The unwanted publicity of landing high on various “fattest cities” lists has heightened interest in doing more to encourage bicycle use, according to some city officials.

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Movements Without Leaders

From Tom Dispatch:

What to Make of Change on an Overheating Planet

By Bill McKibben
August 18, 2013

The history we grow up with shapes our sense of reality — it’s hard to shake. If you were young during the fight against Nazism, war seems a different, more virtuous animal than if you came of age during Vietnam.  I was born in 1960, and so the first great political character of my life was Martin Luther King, Jr. I had a shadowy, child’s sense of him when he was still alive, and then a mythic one as his legend grew; after all, he had a national holiday. As a result, I think, I imagined that he set the template for how great movements worked. They had a leader, capital L.

As time went on, I learned enough about the civil rights movement to know it was much more than Dr. King.  There were other great figures, from Ella Baker and Medgar Evers to Bob Moses, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Malcolm X, and there were tens of thousands more whom history doesn’t remember but who deserve great credit. And yet one’s early sense is hard to dislodge: the civil rights movement had his face on it; Gandhi carried the fight against empire; Susan B. Anthony, the battle for suffrage.

Which is why it’s a little disconcerting to look around and realize that most of the movements of the moment — even highly successful ones like the fight for gay marriage or immigrant’s rights — don’t really have easily discernible leaders. I know that there are highly capable people who have worked overtime for decades to make these movements succeed, and that they are well known to those within the struggle, but there aren’t particular people that the public at large identifies as the face of the fight. The world has changed in this way, and for the better.

It’s true, too, in the battle where I’ve spent most of my life: the fight to slow climate change and hence give the planet some margin for survival. We actually had a charismatic leader in Al Gore, but he was almost the exception that proved the rule. For one thing, a politician makes a problematic leader for a grassroots movement because boldness is hard when you still envision higher office; for another, even as he won the Nobel Prize for his remarkable work in spreading climate science, the other side used every trick and every dollar at their disposal to bring him down. He remains a vital figure in the rest of the world (partly because there he is perceived less as a politician than as a prophet), but at home his power to shape the fight has been diminished.

That doesn’t mean, however, that the movement is diminished.  In fact, it’s never been stronger. In the last few years, it has blocked the construction of dozens of coal-fired power plants, fought the oil industry to a draw on the Keystone pipeline, convinced a wide swath of American institutions to divest themselves of their fossil fuel stocks, and challenged practices like mountaintop-removal coal mining and fracking for natural gas. It may not be winning the way gay marriage has won, but the movement itself continues to grow quickly, and it’s starting to claim some victories.

That’s not despite its lack of clearly identifiable leaders, I think. It’s because of it.

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