Friday Night Fun and Culture: Leonard Cohen

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Friday Night Fun and Culture: Leonard Cohen

Petition: Provide Manning the Necessary Treatment

From Fire Dog Lake:

After Pfc. Manning’s sentencing, the whistleblower released a statement in which she said she would henceforth be known as Chelsea Manning, and that she will begin transitioning while in prison.

Unfortunately, the military is notoriously ignorant of the needs of LGBT soldiers, let alone detainees, and it is highly unlikely that Manning will receive the attention she needs without our help.

Sign our petition demanding the Brig Commander at Ft. Leavenworth provide Chelsea Manning with the necessary treatment to complete her transition — or transfer her to a federal facility where such treatment is available.

We the undersigned call on the Brig Commander at Ft. Leavenworth to give Chelsea Manning the necessary treatment to complete her transition or transfer her to a facility where she will receive that treatment.

Click Here to Sign Petition.

Veterans Outraged at Harsh Sentence of Chelsea Manning, Join in Nationwide Protests

This was posted the day before Chelsea came out.

From Veteran For Peace:

August 21, 2013


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Contact: Gerry Condon 206-499-1220
Patrick McCann 240-271-2246
Ward Reilly 225-766-1364

Bradley Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison on Wednesday for handing WikiLeaks amassive cache of sensitive government documentsdetailing the routine killing of civilians by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Outraged members of Veterans For Peace are joining in protest actions around the country and around the world.

Bradley Chelsea Manning is a hero, and we are both proud of his Her actions, and angry at his her sentence,” said Patrick McCann, President of Veterans For Peace. “Reporting war crimes is not a war crime. Bradley Chelsea Manning swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, and is now being penalized for doing just that.”

This harsh sentence is an outrage to all who believe in truth, transparency and freedom of the press,” said Gerry Condon, member of Veterans For Peace Board of Directors. “Bradley Manning has not harmed a hair on any person’s head. He She exposed that the U.S. Military was routinely killing civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. The U.S. Government should prosecute war criminals, not whistle-blowers.”

While a 22-year-old intelligence analyst stationed in Iraq in 2009-10, Pfc. Manning witnessed war crimes, rampant corruption, and covert abuse. He She exposed what he she saw by leaking hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic files to the transparency website WikiLeaks.

Manning, 25, was not allowed to make a statement when his her sentence was handed down by military judge Col. Denise Lind at Fort Meade, Maryland. Guards quickly hustled him her out of the courtroom, while at least half a dozen spectators shouted their support.

Amnesty International immediately called on President Obama to commute Manning’s sentence.

Bradley Chelsea Manning acted on the belief that he she could spark a meaningful public debate on the costs of war, and specifically on the conduct of the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan,” Widney Brown, senior director of international law and policy at Amnesty International, said in a statement. “The US government should turn its attention to investigating and delivering justice for the serious human rights abuses committed by its officials in the name of countering terror.”

The only person prosecuted for the crimes and abuses uncovered in the WikiLeaks’ releases is the person who exposed them,” said Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg. “That alone proves the injustice of one more day in prison for Bradley Chelsea Manning.”

Manning can subtract more than three and a half years off of his her  35-year sentence, for the time he she has already served and the mere 112 days he she was credited for enduring torture and abuse while detained at the Quantico Marine Brig. He She will be eligible to reduce his her sentence by 10% for good behavior. He She may also be eligible for parole after serving one third of his her sentence.

Veterans For Peace is calling on Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan, Military Commander of the District of Washington and Convening Authority of Manning’s court martial, to reduce the sentence, which he has the legal authority to do.

Please help us reach all these important contacts:
Adrienne Combs, Deputy Officer Public Affairs (202) 685-2900

Col. Michelle Martin-Hing, Public Affairs Officer (202) 685-4899

The Public Affairs Office fax #: 202-685-0706

Try e-mailing Maj. Gen. Buchanan at
For more information, go to and

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Veterans Outraged at Harsh Sentence of Chelsea Manning, Join in Nationwide Protests

Chelsea Manning Reveals Gender Identity; Army Unlikely to Grant Hormone Therapy Request

From Truth Out:

By Martha Sorren
Thursday, 22 August 2013

Private Chelsea Manning (tried and sentenced by the US military as Bradley Manning) has released a statement via her lawyer announcing that she wants to live as a woman and begin hormone therapy as soon as possible.

“I am Chelsea Manning. I am female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition,” she said in the statement.

She also requested that she be referred to by her new name of Chelsea and that the feminine pronoun be used. Truthout will do so in all future reporting and commentary.

During Manning’s trial, her gender dysphoria was revealed. An email Manning sent to her supervisor, titled “My Problem,” included a photo of Manning in a long blonde wig, wearing lipstick.

She wrote, “This is my problem. I’ve had signs of it for a very long time. It’s caused problems within my family. I thought a career in the military would get rid of it. It’s not something I seek out for attention, and I’ve been trying very, very hard to get rid of it by placing myself in situations where it would be impossible. But, it’s not going away; it’s haunting me more and more as I get older. Now, the consequences of it are dire, at a time when it’s causing me great pain in itself. I don’t know what to do anymore, and the only “help” that seems available is severe punishment and/or getting rid of me.”

Manning’s lawyers claimed that the lack of available help and the struggle in what her former Army counselor, Captain Michael Worsley called “a hyper-masculine environment,” played a large role in Manning’s worsening mental state.

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in the military prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, on August 21, and it seems unlikely that the prison will comply with Manning’s wishes to start hormone therapy right away.

Kimberly Lewis, a spokeswoman for the prison, said, “The Army does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender-identity disorder.”

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Chelsea Manning Reveals Gender Identity; Army Unlikely to Grant Hormone Therapy Request

When I’m Old and Gay

From The American Prospect:

Retirement can be sweet for well-off LGBT elders, but it is fraught with perils for most.

In the 1960s and 1970s, members of the Stonewall generation carved out communities like the Castro in San Francisco, the West Village in New York, and Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., safe havens where a man could walk down the street in heels without causing a ruckus or a lesbian couple could hold hands while shopping. The gay retirement villas sprouting up at the turn of the millennium were far more commercial—and planned—than those early “gayborhoods,” but at a basic level what they offered was similar: insulation from prejudice, places where queer people were free to be queer. But as the wrought-iron gate at its entrance suggests, the Cove is far more exclusive than an urban neighborhood.

Set against a densely wooded incline with winding dirt roads, the Cove could have been plucked from a travel brochure for the Bavarian Alps. From a cleared plot at the apex of the development—the site of a planned clubhouse—stone chimneys poke through a canopy of trees. Along the horizon, the mountain ranges crowd against each other, gradient shades of purple fighting for the skyline. It’s summer, before the humidity has set in, and the air is crisp and clean.

Cathy Groene, one of the Cove’s developers, gives me a tour of the grounds. As she descends along the main dirt road, she stops periodically to point out one of the project’s 25 homes—all log, stone, or cedar-sided cabins, as required by the charter. She offers a detail about each occupant as we go; everybody knows everybody here. Along the path, beech and maple trees soar into the sky, and sunlight filters through the leaves. Daniel Boone, who opened up the Appalachians, is purported to have said he had “never been lost but was bewildered once for about three days.” This is the sort of place where you wouldn’t mind being bewildered for a while.

Continue reading at:


Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on When I’m Old and Gay

New York City police investigate a transgendered woman’s death as a hate crime

From Gay Star News:

Islan Nettles, and a companion, were punched by a group of boys across from a police precinct

By James Withers
23 August 2013

The death of a New York City transgendered woman is being investigated as a possible hate crime.

Today (22 August) Islan Nettles died after being on a ventilator for less than a week. Last week, 17 August, the 21-year-old was walking with a transgendered female friend in Harlem, the traditional African-American neighborhood in the city.

According to the local news station NY1, the pair walked by a group of boys. When the group realized Nettles and her friend were transgendered, an argument erupted.

A suspect allegedly said anti-gay remarks, and punches were thrown. The attack happened across from a police precinct.

Nettles, who also went by Vaughn Nettles and Alon Nettles, was on a ventilator since 17 August.

A suspect is in custody, but authorities are not releasing his name until the charges have been upgraded.

The death of Nettles is another crime in a summer of anti-gay violence in New York City.

Continue reading at:


Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on New York City police investigate a transgendered woman’s death as a hate crime

Saying no to your tiny techie

From Waging Non-Violence:

August 4, 2013

I am old school. I got my first cell phone in 2003 and have not upgraded since. It is a flip phone that makes and receives calls, and sends and accepts text messages. Supposedly it has a camera, but I don’t know how it works.

When I send a text message it is almost like I am deploying smoke signals — choose the right spot, make the fire, get it smokey, start waving the blanket and making letters. It takes just about that long. Each text message is an artisanal product made with painstaking care. To say “hi,” I tap the four button two times, wait a beat and then tap it three times. So, be patient if you want me to text you.

Seamus — my very bright and inquisitive one-year-old — is already very curious about my cell phone. Whenever I am holding it, he wants it. If I am on the phone, he tries to pull it out of my hands. He loves opening and closing it and the noises it makes when messages come in. But it is just a simple phone — no games, no stories, no excitement. It is just an object that he likes.

At the doctor’s office, in line at the post office, in restaurants and on the playground, I see kids not that much older than Seamus using cellphones and hand-held games with a confidence and alacrity that I will never evolve into. I was in a waiting room yesterday and a girl of about four was playing on a small tablet computer. I have never even held a tablet computer in my hands. I don’t even know what games can be played on one of those things.

Seamus and I took the train from New London to Baltimore earlier this year. It was much more comfortable than the bus, and I packed toys for him and crossword puzzles for me and snacks for both of us. It was a six or seven hour trip. I pulled out the crossword once, while he was asleep and draped across my lap. It was not easy (even though it was only a Wednesday) to work on the puzzle around his little body. The rest of the time I was trying to keep him from catapulting down the aisle, helping him play peekaboo with our neighbors, taking him for walks, chit-chatting with his train full of admirers, reading him the same two books over and over and over again, and trying to get him interested in the post-industrial wastelands outside. But all he wanted to do was lick the window.

It was not a relaxing trip, but we had a good time. As we were de-training in Baltimore, I noticed a woman with a two- or three-year-old girl in our car. I had not seen or heard her the entire trip. She had big pink headphones on and was glued to a tiny screen. Her mom was glued to her own slightly larger screen. I felt a twinge of envy. With all that quiet and not touching, she totally could have finished the puzzle, I thought. And then I felt a twinge of sadness. They were missing out on each other. But who knows. Maybe they had just finished a long conversation about semiotics in Sesame Street or the mom had succumbed to cotton mouth after reading many chapters of War and Peace aloud to her little sweetheart. I just saw a moment. But it was a moment of total detachment.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Saying no to your tiny techie

The Un-American Way: The Trans-Pacific Partnership deal threatens food safety and public health.

From Other Words:

August 21, 2013

Reposted with Creative Commons Permission

The United States is negotiating a NAFTA-style trade deal that should be alarming to American consumers. The main reason it’s not getting much attention is that the mainstream media is largely ignoring it.

This pact deserves more news coverage. It threatens to undermine our own laws and increase the opportunity for corporate takeovers of public resources in the United States and abroad. The worst part? These negotiations are taking place behind closed doors.

This controversial agreement is called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It’s comprised of the United States plus 11 other nations that border the Pacific Ocean. The TPP would boost liquefied natural gas exports and food imports. This increases the real dangers posed by reckless fracking for natural gas and the growth of imported food from several countries whose safety standards fall far short of our own.

The TPP could become the biggest corporate power grab in U.S. history. This deal would establish a regime under which corporations would acquire an equal status to countries, allowing them to take legal action against governments both at the national and local levels.

With this power, multinational corporations — especially energy companies — could overturn laws enacted to protect the public and the environment if they were to deem that those protections violated the profit-based terms of this trade agreement.

The United States currently has enough challenges plaguing our food system, with many of our would-be TPP partners shipping unsafe food even without these so-called free-trade agreements. Seafood imports alone have been particularly troubling. Much of the seafood we import is farm-raised using antibiotics and hormones that are illegal in our own country, and a mere 2 percent of those imports are actually inspected by the FDA.

The TPP would encourage increasing the amount of seafood we take in without requiring the trading partners to ban the use of illegal chemicals.

This could also hurt the American consumers through the expansion of the oil and gas industry, as it tries to increase its land use at home to frack more gas for export to our new TPP partners.

This pact could quickly undermine local, state, and even federal laws that protect public health and the environment. Many localities have recently passed laws to ban fracking. Unfortunately, a lot of the companies that are pursuing hydraulic fracturing in the U.S. are either foreign-owned or have foreign investors.

The TPP would potentially give companies the power to sue local governments, granting them their own permission to exploit natural resources and undermine local laws.

Treaties like the TPP undermine important efforts by grassroots movements and governments to protect people and the environment against the dangers of infecting our food system with increased use of antibiotics and hormones or the risks associated with fracking for natural gas.

Protests against this trade accord have already gotten started in other countries, including Japan and Malaysia, as concerns grow over its expected negative effects. The bottom line is that TPP will bring little, if any, benefit to small-scale growers and producers.

As negotiations near completion, it’s critical that we let our members of Congress know that we don’t support this kind of corporate power grab. President Barack Obama is asking Congress to grant “fast-track” authority, allowing him to negotiate the TPP and other trade deals without otherwise requisite congressional oversight. We must stop that from happening.

Undermining laws that U.S. citizens voted to put in place isn’t the American way.

Wenonah Hauter is Executive Director of Food & Water Watch.

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on The Un-American Way: The Trans-Pacific Partnership deal threatens food safety and public health.

Lavabit founder: ‘My own tax dollars are being used to spy on me’

From The Guardian UK:

Since shuttering his email service, which was used by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, Ladar Levison has been stuck in a Kafkaesque legal battle – and that’s about all he can say, Thursday 22 August 2013

The Obama administration has created a surveillance state on a scale not seen since senator Joe McCarthy’s infamous 1950s crackdown on suspected communists, according to the tech executive caught up in crossfire between the NSA and whistleblower Edward Snowden.

“We are entering a time of state-sponsored intrusion into our privacy that we haven’t seen since the McCarthy era. And it’s on a much broader scale,” Ladar Levison, founder of Lavabit, told the Guardian. The email service was used by Snowden and is now at the center of a potentially historic legal battle over privacy rights in the digital age.

Levison closed down his service this month, posting a message about a government investigation that would force him to “become complicit in crimes against the American people” were he to stay in business. The 32-year-old is now stuck in a Kafkaesque universe where he is not allowed to talk about what is going on, nor is he allowed to talk about what he’s not allowed to talk about without facing charges of contempt of court.

It appears that Levison – who would not confirm this – has received a national security letter (NSL), a legal attempt to force him to hand over any and all data his company has so that the US authorities can track Snowden and anyone he communicated with. The fact that he closed the service rather than comply may well have opened him up to other legal challenges – about which he also can not comment.

What he will say is that he is locked in a legal battle he hopes one day will finally make it clear what the US government can and can not legally demand from companies. “The information technology sector of our country deserves a legislative mandate that will allow us to provide private and secure services so our customers, both here and abroad, don’t feel they are being used as listening posts for an American surveillance network,” he says.

And in the meantime what he will not do is stay silent – within legal limits. “I will stand on my soapbox and shout and shout as loudly as I can for as long as people will listen. My biggest fear is that the sacrifice of my business will have been in vain. My greatest hope is that same sacrifice will result in a positive change,” he says, words that closely echo Snowden’s own feelings about becoming a whistleblower.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Lavabit founder: ‘My own tax dollars are being used to spy on me’

Campaigners Deliver Message to Obama: ‘Yes We Can… Ban Fracking’

From Common Dreams:

‘From California, to Colorado, Pennsylvania to New York, and everywhere in between, the public understands that fracking poses an immediate threat to our water, air, health and climate, and they’re fighting back.’

Jon Queally

A day before the peroid of public comment ends on the US government’s proposed plan to open public lands to industrial hydraulic gas fracturing, a coalition of anti-fracking and public interest groups descended on Washington, DC Thursday calling for a commitment from President Obama to reject the proposal and ban the practice.

“Yes We Can… Ban Fracking,” the collection of environmental, conservation, and health advocacy groups told the president, borrowing the famous phrase from Obama’s 2008 campaign.

The petition, which attracted nearly 650,000 signatures, argues that the dangerous practice—which would contaminate vital water resources, threaten public health, and add to the planetary crisis of climate change—should not be allowed and banned outright.

“From California, to Colorado, Pennsylvania to New York, and everywhere in between, the public understands that fracking poses an immediate threat to our water, air, health and climate, and they’re fighting back. President Obama needs to stop listening to the oil and gas industry and instead listen to the people who elected him,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, a member of the national coalition.  “If President Obama truly wants to curb climate change and move us to a renewable energy future, he should listen to the science and ban fracking.”

According to a letter sent to Obama along with the petition signatures, the anti-fracking coalition explained that among the more than 700 million acres of mining rights administered by the Bureau of Land Management—many of which are beneath federal public and Native American land and targeted for drilling and fracking—are watersheds vital for the provision of clean drinking water for millions of Americans.

Those lands include places such as the Shawnee National Forest in Illinois, Wayne National Forest in Ohio and George Washington National Forest in Virginia and other public lands near iconic national parks, such as Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, Arches and Canyon lands National Parks in Utah and Sequoia National Park in California, among others.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Campaigners Deliver Message to Obama: ‘Yes We Can… Ban Fracking’

An ‘aporkalypse’ has Texas fighting losing battle against feral pig menace

From The Guardian UK:

What was once a rural problem is now blighting suburban areas causing $52m in damages the to state’s agriculture industry

in Houston, Thursday 22 August 2013

Texans have penned them in state-of-the-art traps, tracked them with night-vision goggles, massacred them with machine guns and and even shot them from helicopters.

But despite all the firepower and ingenuity the Lone Star State can muster, it is losing the war on feral hogs. The population of one of the most invasive and destructive wild animals in the United States is growing rapidly. And now they are trotting inside city limits.

What was once a largely rural problem is blighting suburban areas near parks and lakes. The city of Dallas has contracted a company to catch the swine starting next month after discovering that they are causing damage only a couple of miles from the heart of downtown.

“They’ve come to downtown Dallas using the flood plains, using the levees,” said Kevin Acosta, a city employee. “We’ve already had damage in parks, trails, city building locations near our landfill. Rooting with their nose they can dig two-to-three feet below the surface. They kill, in a sense, the ground – you’d think a machine had come through.

“We’ve seen the damage they can do in some of our parks where we have plants growing … we don’t have exact numbers but we do know they are increasing. When you look at the spots, you’d be surprised: ‘they went here?’ ‘How did they get here?'”

Dallas created a task force to tackle its pig problem and it is cooperating with affected neighbouring cities such as Arlington and Fort Worth. It is illegal for civilians to discharge a firearm inside Dallas’ city limits so the hogs must be caught and then slaughtered elsewhere.

Texas A&M University’s AgriLife Extension service conducts feral hog research and educates landowners. It has launched an online reporting system in a bid to track activity.

Mark Tyson, from the project, said that studies indicate there are between 1.8 and 3.4m wild hogs in Texas – about half the total number in the US. Some 79% of the state’s land mass is a suitable habitat for them, and they have infiltrated almost every county.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on An ‘aporkalypse’ has Texas fighting losing battle against feral pig menace

Anti-Fracking Protestors to Appeal Directly to President Obama during Presidential Visit to Shale Country

From Natural Resources Defense Council:

Kate Sinding’s Blog
August 22, 2013

President Obama’s welcome on his trip to Pennsylvania and New York this week may not be as warm as he’d hoped. Anti-fracking citizens in both states, dismayed at the President’s decision to embrace natural gas development as a major energy priority, plan to protest his visit to shale country. They join a growing number of Americans living in the gas industry’s path with real and substantial concerns about what the President’s policies might mean for their future.

Although Americans concerned about climate change have rightfully applauded the President’s newly announced climate initiatives, especially his decision to set carbon standards for power plants, his strong endorsement of expanded domestic natural gas development has concerned some environmentalists and local citizens (as well as the editorial board of the Albany Times Union). This is particularly so in the face of the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent withdrawal from three high-profile, potentially precedential, investigations related to alleged drinking water contamination from fracking, which raises red flags about the seriousness with which the Administration is taking its on-going study of fracking’s risks. Determined to ensure the President understands these concerns, activists across Pennsylvania and New York plan to make their voices heard at each stop along the President’s journey.

Several grassroots environmental groups are involved, with New Yorkers Against Fracking organizing the New York protests. Isaac Silberman-Gorn, an activist with Citizen Action and a member of New Yorkers Against Fracking, pledged: “we will chase him around the state.” “He’s promised all of these great things for climate change,” says Silberman-Gorn, “but he’s pushing a plan that is really at odds with that.” A spokesperson for New Yorkers Against Fracking, John Armstrong, hoped to “send a strong message to him and to all politicians that our health, environment and clean water are not for sale to the oil and gas industry and political influence.” Meanwhile, Food and Water Watch and Protecting Our Water are planning similar protests across the border in Pennsylvania.

The President’s trip will also highlight the continuing pressure from Governor Cuomo’s base to protect the state from fracking’s risks. The Governor reportedly decided not to join the President on his bus tour through hotbeds of anti-fracking sentiment including Binghamton and Syracuse, but will meet with the President in Buffalo. On Monday, in response to press inquiries, Governor Cuomo said he was no closer to reaching a decision on fracking, standing by his promise to hold his decision until Health Commission Nirav Shah’s health review is complete. We applaud the Governor’s continuing commitment to letting the science rule the day, and trust that his recent public statements indicate he will not allow the President’s visit to shake that resolve.

Both the Governor and the President should heed the messages being given this week. The people of Pennsylvania who are already living with fracking, and the people of New York who could face fracking in the future, deserve nothing less.

Continue reading at:

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Anti-Fracking Protestors to Appeal Directly to President Obama during Presidential Visit to Shale Country