Queery: Kye Allums

From The Washington Blade:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/08/28/queery-former-gwu-basketball-player-and-trans-advocate-kye-allums-lgbt-sports-issue/

on August 28, 2013

When Kye Allums told his fellow players on the women’s basketball team at George Washington University during his sophomore year that he wanted them to start using male pronouns and his new name it took a little time for them to get it.

“They laughed at first,” the 23-year-old St. Paul, Minn., native says. “They were like, ‘Yeah, you woke up, now you’re a boy, whatever,’ but when they knew I was serious, they didn’t understand it at all, but they started seeing how it was affecting me. I was smiling then. In the end, they started to switch because they could see using the appropriate name made me happy and in the end they wanted to support me.”

Allums says the issue of being male on a women’s team “didn’t bother me at all.”

After graduating, Allums (imenough.org) parlayed his career into trans advocacy work — mostly visiting college campuses where he spreads his belief that “I am enough — what I say, what I feel, that is enough. You shouldn’t have to tweak yourself to make somebody else happy.” He splits his time between New York and Washington when he’s not traveling (which he says was about 93 percent of the time in the last year). He just got back from London and Scotland where he worked on a documentary about the experiences of trans people around the world. He hopes to finish it with a trip to the United Arab Emirates and Thailand in December.

Allums is single — one of the downsides of constant travel, he says. He enjoys writing, shopping for shoes, Netflix and traveling in his down time.

How long have you been out and who was the hardest person to tell?

I’ve always known who I was. However, I didn’t always have the vocabulary to describe myself. When I was 14, I came out to my friends as a gay female. The hardest person to tell was my best friend at the time. In the end I never told her. I let someone else (who loved to spread other people’s business) tell her for me. When I was 18, I found out what being a trans man meant. Then I came out to myself. Honestly I’d say coming out to myself was harder than coming out to anyone. I had these negative views of trans people and what I thought it meant and I hated that I fit under that “label.” Little did I know that being trans is simply customizing my identity to what I want it to be. Not my parents, friends or society. Me. I get to be who I choose to be and I love everything about that. Oh yeah, and I recently came out as a gay man!

Continue reading at:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2013/08/28/queery-former-gwu-basketball-player-and-trans-advocate-kye-allums-lgbt-sports-issue/

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Rumble: Doesn’t Chelsea Manning Deserve Her Rights?

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Getting Hormones and Surgery for Transgender Prisoners

From The Atlantic:  http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/08/getting-hormones-and-surgery-for-transgender-prisoners/278998/

The Army’s blanket denial of hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery to Chelsea Manning may not be the final word on the matter.

Aug 23 2013

Yesterday, one day after the whistleblower formerly known as Pfc. Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking thousands of classified documents, Manning announced that she has embraced her true gender identity and would like to live out the rest of her sentence—and the rest of her life—as Chelsea Manning, a woman. So how does the criminal justice system care for the health and well-being of transgender prisoners?

Access to transition-related healthcare services, such as hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery, has been a major concern for transgender prisoners and advocates. Before 2010, it was the policy of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons to provide hormones at whatever level was maintained prior to the incarceration. After a 2010 lawsuit, however, the bureau reformed those regulations to include transgender women who did not begin hormone therapy until after their incarceration—and today, for the most part, transgender prisoners are able to access necessary hormone therapy. When Pfc. Manning mentioned in her statement that she would like to begin hormone therapy “as soon as possible,” the Army quickly released a statement saying that it “does not provide hormone therapy or sex-reassignment surgery for gender identity disorder.”

“It seems odd that the Army would make a determination on Manning’s healthcare needs before they’ve even had an assessment,” says Masen Davis, the Executive Director of the Transgender Law Center. “Manning has the right to access necessary medical care while she is in prison, which may include estrogen. That should be determined by a doctor and the patient, not by bias.”

Although transgender inmates are not currently able to receive sex reassignment surgery while incarcerated, in 2012 a U.S. District Judge ordered Massachusetts prison officials to provide sex reassignment surgery to Michelle Kosilek, a transgender woman serving life in prison for murder, on the basis that the surgery would meet Kosilek’s “serious medical need.” The Massachusetts Department of Correction is currently appealing the decision, but according to Jennifer Levi, Director of the Transgender Rights Project for the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), the decision opens the door to the possibility that transgender inmates might be able to access sex reassignment surgery.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/08/getting-hormones-and-surgery-for-transgender-prisoners/278998/

Transgender People Being Murdered At A Rate Almost 50 Percent Higher Than Lesbians And Gays

From The New Civil Rights Movement:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/transgender-people-being-murdered-at-a-rate-almost-50-percent-higher-than-lesbians-and-gays/news/2013/08/26/73904

by David Badash
on August 26, 2013

Transgender people were murdered last month at a rate that is almost 50 percent higher than the murders of lesbian and gay people. From Canada to the United States to Central and South America, in the month of July alone, 23 transgender people and 16 gay men and lesbian women — a total of 39 people — were murdered, according to a study from the Organization of American States. The OAS represents all 35 countries of the American continent. In just the U.S., an estimated .3 percent of the total population openly identify as transgender, and 3.5 percent of American adults openly identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, with bisexual people making up 1.8 percent of that 3.5 percent, according to the Williams Institute.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the OAS issued a warning earlier this month, “reiterat[ing] its deep concern on violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, trans, bisexual and intersex persons (LGTBI), and against persons perceived as such in the Americas.” The group “urges OAS Member States to adopt urgent measures to prevent this violence and discrimination. In particular, the Commission is concerned about the high levels of violence and discrimination faced by gay, lesbian and trans youth in the region.”

The IACHR added it “was informed that, during the month of July 2013, 23 murders were committed against trans persons and trans women or those perceived as such in Brazil (9), Colombia (2), Honduras (4), Jamaica (1), Mexico (2), Paraguay (1), Peru (2), the United States (1), and Venezuela (1). It is reported that most of these victims were less than 35 years of age, a majority of them being under 25.”

The report adds, “the majority of these victims were shot, most of them multiple times.”

Additionally, the IACHR was informed of 13 cases of murders of gay men of all ages in Brazil (8), Honduras (1), Mexico (1), Peru (2), and Venezuela (1), the vast majority of which were beaten to death. It also received information on the murders of three Brazilian lesbian women, two of them less than 25 years of age.

The report does not specify numbers for bisexual people.

In all likelihood, these numbers are just the tip of the iceberg.

Continue reading at:  http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/transgender-people-being-murdered-at-a-rate-almost-50-percent-higher-than-lesbians-and-gays/news/2013/08/26/73904

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Chelsea Manning Considered Gender Transition Long Before Announcement

From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/27/chelsea-manning-gender-transition_n_3818080.html?ref=topbar


NEW YORK — Chelsea Manning’s announcement about her gender transition last Thursday seemed to catch many casual observers by surprise. The former Army intelligence analyst and WikiLeaks source arrested in May 2010 wanted to be known as a woman, not as Bradley.

“I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible,” the 25-year-old Manning wrote. The day before the announcement, a military court gave Manning a 35-year sentence for leaking 700,000 files to WikiLeaks.

To many LGBT advocates, Manning’s declaration came as a relief. They had struggled for years over how to handle the numerous signs suggesting Manning’s desire to transition. Now, The Huffington Post has obtained another data point in Manning’s long, mostly private transition to transgender woman: an email Manning sent to a leading “don’t ask, don’t tell” researcher asking for advice on military service for transgender people.

That email, with the subject line “Questions,” arrived in researcher Nathaniel Frank’s inbox on April 28, 2010.

“I’m doing a little research, and I have a few questions regarding Transgender people and the U.S. Military,” Manning wrote. “What laws / policies bar servicemembers from seeking name changes, birth certificate changes, and hormone replacement therapy, etc? … What changes would be required for these policies to feasibly allow a soldier to transition in the military?”

That email came four days after Manning sent the non-commissioned officer in charge of discipline in her Army intelligence unit an anguished email titled “My problem” with an image of herself in a woman’s wig and makeup attached.

The email also came just days before a dramatic late-night counseling session on May 8, 2010, in which Manning made a “revelation” about her gender identity to her Army psychologist, Capt. Michael Worsley. Manning was in fact in the process of being administratively separated from the Army because of Worsley’s diagnosis of gender identity disorder (a condition now known as gender dysphoria), which Worsley felt could only be effectively treated outside of the Army.

Transgender people are not allowed to publicly serve in the military, and the Army does not provide soldiers with hormone therapy. Manning’s lawyer introduced the “My problem” email, as well as Worsley’s testimony, during the sentencing phase of the trial to show the judge overseeing the case that Manning was under extreme stress when she made her leaks. The testimony suggested that Manning’s judgment about the consequences of her actions had been affected by the stress.

Continue reading at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/27/chelsea-manning-gender-transition_n_3818080.html?ref=topbar

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Senator Leahy Calls For Federal Marijuana Hearing; Invites Attorney General Holder

From Toke Signals: http://tokesignals.com/senator-leahy-calls-for-federal-marijuana-hearing-invites-attorney-general-holder/

On August 26, 2013

Hearing To Address Differences Between Federal and State Cannabis Laws

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) announced on Monday that he will address discrepancies between federal and state marijuana laws in an upcoming hearing on September 10. Leahy has invited Attorney General Eric Holder and Deputy Attorney General James Cole to testify.

“It is important, especially at a time of budget constraints, to determine whether it is the best use of federal resources to prosecute the personal or medicinal use of marijuana in states that have made such consumption legal,” Sen. Leahy said. “I believe that these state laws should be respected. At a minimum, there should be guidance about enforcement from the federal government.”

Twenty states now allow medical marijuana, and Colorado and Washington recently became the first two states to approve the legal regulation of marijuana for non-medicinal purposes.

Last December, in a letter to U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, Senator Leahy asked how the federal government intends to deal with states like Colorado and Washington. In the letter, Senator Leahy also suggested that federal legislation could be introduced to legalize up to an ounce of marijuana, at least in states that have legalized it. He also sought assurances that state employees would not be prosecuted for implementing state laws.

There are several bipartisan bills in the U.S. House that would reform federal marijuana laws, but so far none in the Senate.

“Two states have made marijuana legal for adult use and are establishing regulated systems of production and distribution,” said Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). “Twenty states plus our nation’s capital have made it legal for medical use. By failing to recognize the decisions of voters and legislators in those states, current federal law is undermining their ability to implement and enforce those laws.

Continue reading at:  http://tokesignals.com/senator-leahy-calls-for-federal-marijuana-hearing-invites-attorney-general-holder/

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Misogynistic GOP’s gross new talking point Lie: Feces

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/08/28/gops_false_new_talking_point_feces/

The right claims abortion rights protesters brought excrement-filled jars into the Texas Capitol. Here’s the truth

Wednesday, Aug 28, 2013

There was a minor, kind of disgusting subplot in the high-profile fight over Texas’ strict new antiabortion law that made Wendy Davis a star: Pro-choice activists were accused of bringing jars of feces and urine into the state Capitol.

The Texas Department of Public safety said that it had confiscated “one jar suspected to contain urine [and] 18 jars suspected to contain feces,” which naturally provoked the kind of schadenfreudish condemnation from the anti-choice right that can only be achieved when your political opponents are caught doing something distasteful.

Conservative blogs and tweeters assumed protesters were going to use the jars as scatological bombs against pro-life lawmakers and naturally flipped out. National Review called it “typically charming,” Texas Republican Rep. Steve Stockman said it was “Texas Democrats [sic] idea of ‘civility,’” while WND even claimed some activists were wearing diapers to resupply their ammunition.

Well, as it turns out, there was no poop in poop-gate. The AP reports today:

Texas Department of Public Safety documents show troopers seized no jars of urine or feces from Capitol visitors the day of debate of controversial abortion bill. That’s counter to a DPS statement issued the night of the July 12 debate and filibuster by Democratic state Sen. Wendy Davis.

The Texas DPS came under scrutiny for the statement, with pro-choice protesters saying they most certainly had not brought jars filled with toilet matter into the Capitol. DPS initially stood by the statement, but refused to release additional information.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/08/28/gops_false_new_talking_point_feces/

See Also:

Slate: Remember How Pro-Choicers Brought Jars of Feces to the Texas Statehouse? Turns Out That Probably Didn’t Happen.

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The Personal Life of Bayard Rustin

From Out Magazine:  http://www.out.com/news-opinion/2013/08/28/bayard-rustin-walter-naegle-partner-gay-civil-rights-activist-march-washington

By Robert Drayton

The partner of the gay Civil Rights activist and organizer of the March on Washington’s shares his side of the story

This week, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. This march pressured the federal government to pass the Civil Rights Act, promoting equality in a country that had espoused freedom and equality for all since its inception, and yet had continuously come short of that mark.

Our country moves closer to its goal this year with Supreme Court rulings striking down DOMA and Prop 8. In addition, the Obama Administration has announced that it will award the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award offered by our government, to Bayard Rustin, who was a key organizer of that 1963 march. Because he was gay, Rustin was usually not accorded the recognition given to others in the Civil Rights Movement.

With the White House announcement of the recipients 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom on August 8, more Americans are learning about Bayard Rustin, a pacifist, civil rights leader, and a top aide to Martin Luther King, Jr., who rallied over 200,000 people to march on Washington—without the aid of computers or the Internet. But there’s one chapter of Rustin’s life story that still remains an enigma—his personal life.

Last week, Walter Naegle, Rustin’s partner for the last 10 years of his life, spoke about his relationship with Bayard and his feelings about the medal. “I think it’s wonderful. Certainly well deserved,” Naegle says, sitting in the Manhattan apartment he shared with Rustin. “In Bayard’s case, it recognizes him as someone who was working to expand our democratic freedoms and increase our civil liberties and our individual freedoms. There were times that he got it from both the right and the left, but this establishes him as someone who made an important contribution to the growth of the country while not pandering to either extreme.”

Bayard’s refusal to create a political image that would cater to a particular party often got him into trouble. “He wouldn’t have been particularly comfortable being the type of political person who has to run and get votes and take positions and not veer from them,” Naegle explains. “He was always very much the individual.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.out.com/news-opinion/2013/08/28/bayard-rustin-walter-naegle-partner-gay-civil-rights-activist-march-washington

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Big, Glitzy Marches Are Not Movements

From The Boston Review:  http://bostonreview.net/us/robin-kelley-big-glitzy-marches-are-not-movements

In 1963 and today, the real work happens elsewhere.

August 28, 2013

Anyone paying attention to the events leading up to the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington should know by now that this historic gathering rallied under the banner of “jobs and freedom.” It has become common knowledge that economic justice was at the heart of the march’s agenda, and the main forces behind the event had roots in socialist movements—Bayard Rustin and veteran black labor leader A. Philip Randolph, who threatened a similar march two decades earlier after a black woman activist proposed the idea at a Civil Rights conference in 1940.  Thanks to the penetrating scholarship of William P. Jones’s March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights, Gary Younge’s The Speech: The Story Behind Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, Dream, and Michael Honey’s eye-opening collection of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, forgotten speeches on labor, All Labor Has Dignity, among many other books and films, we have finally begun to crack a half century of myth portraying the march as a moment of Civil Rights triumph culminating in Dr. King’s optimistic and iconic “I Have a Dream” speech.  While King’s speech remains the focus of every commemoration, A. Philip Randolph’s opening remarks are now getting some attention.  Echoing Karl Marx’s oft-quoted line in Capital, that “Labor cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the black it is branded,” he presciently warned,

This civil rights revolution is not confined to the Negro, nor is it confined to civil rights for our white allies know that they cannot be free while we are not. . . . [W]e have no future in a society in which six million black and white people are unemployed and millions more live in poverty.  Nor is the goal of our civil rights revolution merely the passage of civil rights legislation. Yes, we want all public accommodations open to all citizens, but those accommodations will mean little to those who cannot afford to use them. Yes, we want a Fair Employment Practice Act, but what good will it do if profit-geared automation destroys the jobs of millions of workers black and white?

Less obvious, but equally important, was the incredibly violent context for the march.  The peaceful, orderly character of the gathering continues to elicit commentary from both defenders and detractors of the march—the latter repeating Malcolm X’s point that 250,000 bodies descending on the nation’s capitol should have disrupted business-as-usual, waging a massive civil disobedience campaign in order to force the federal government’s hand.  But looking back fifty years later, we are reminded that opponents of the march, including the Kennedy administration, used the fear of black violence to scare potential white marchers and to justify possible military action against the demonstration.  The fact that D.C. area liquor stores were closed as a precaution against uncontrollable drunken Negroes rioting in the streets was an affront to black activists who spent months, if not years, confronting state and vigilante violence simply for demanding basic Constitutional rights.  The irony was not lost on movement folks who had only months earlier faced Bull Connor’s dogs, water hoses, batons, bullets, and jail cells in Birmingham, suffered near fatal attacks in Mississippi for attempting to register voters, or attended the funerals of Herbert Lee or Medgar Evers.  March organizers had every reason to be worried about violence, for they were dealing with palpable threats of terrorist attacks on buses carrying marchers and confrontations with American Nazis and Klansman showing up on the mall.  And yet, as much as Bayard Rustin, Randolph, King, and others emphasized the peaceful nature of the gathering, they quietly placed the question of racist violence on display by deliberately choosing August 28 to march—the eighth anniversary of the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till in Mississippi.

Continue reading at:  http://bostonreview.net/us/robin-kelley-big-glitzy-marches-are-not-movements

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War on Syria: Twenty Pounds of Stupid in a Ten-Pound Bag

From Truth Out:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/18416-war-on-syria-twenty-pounds-of-stupid-in-a-ten-pound-bag

By William Rivers Pitt
Tuesday, 27 August 2013

I’m just going to throw this out on the stoop and see if the cat licks it up: instead of attacking Syria, how about we don’t attack Syria?

Crazy, I know; this is America, after all, and our presidents like nothing more than to flip a few cruise missiles at other countries, combined with a few bombing sorties for good measure, because it’s a hell of a lot easier than actual statecraft. Besides, it looks good on television, and all those meanies in Congress can’t accuse the Commander in Chief of not doing anything. Oh, also, cruise missiles and bombs cost a lot, so if we pull the trigger on Syria, someone will get paid handsomely.

What ho, this we call “diplomacy,” right? Flatten a few buildings, blow some children sideways out of their kitchens during breakfast, take a victory lap on the Sunday morning talk shows…what could possibly go wrong?

Quite a bit, as it turns out.

Once again, it is weapons of mass destruction at the crux of the matter. Unlike our Iraq debacle, however, there seems to be a fairly impressive body of evidence to suggest that chemical weapons were used in Syria. Doctors Without Borders seems pretty convinced it happened, despite the fact that the use of such weapons by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad doesn’t make a whole hell of a lot of sense, given the fickle nature of chemical weapons and how closely concentrated his own forces were near the area of the attack. A rogue military commander, perhaps? The rebels themselves?

The answer to whether or not a chemical attack took place will soon be forthcoming, as UN inspectors have arrived at the scene to investigate after being greeted with sniper fire. If it is established that the Syrian government did this, enormous pressure will be brought to bear on President Obama to “punish” the Assad regime with a military attack of some kind.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/18416-war-on-syria-twenty-pounds-of-stupid-in-a-ten-pound-bag

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How an Insular Beltway Elite Makes Wars of Choice More Likely

From The Atlantic:  http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/08/how-an-insular-beltway-elite-makes-wars-of-choice-more-likely/279116/

The pressure on President Obama to intervene in Syria is hyped — and the pressure to stay out of the conflict is unjustly ignored.

Aug 28 2013

Intervention in Syria is extremely, undeniably unpopular.

“Americans strongly oppose U.S. intervention and believe Washington should stay out of the conflict even if reports that Syria’s government used deadly chemicals to attack civilians are confirmed,” Lesley Wroughton of Reuters reported August 24. “About 60 percent of Americans surveyed said the United States should not intervene in Syria’s civil war, while just 9 percent thought President Barack Obama should act.” And if there were proof that Bashar al-Assad’s forces used chemical weapons? Even then, just one in four Americans favors intervention.

The citizenry wants us to stay out of this conflict. And there is no legislative majority pushing for intervention. A declaration of war against Syria would almost certainly fail in Congress. Yet the consensus in the press is that President Obama faces tremendous pressure to intervene. In fact, the same Reuters reporter, Lesley Wroughton, co-bylined another piece last week that began:

With his international credibility seen increasingly on the line, President Barack Obama on Thursday faced growing calls at home and abroad for forceful action against the Syrian government over accusations it carried out a massive new deadly chemical weapons attack …

If allegations of a large-scale chemical attack are verified — Syria’s government has denied them — Obama will surely face calls to move more aggressively, possibly even with military force, in retaliation for repeated violations of U.S. “red lines.” Obama’s failure to confront Assad with the serious consequences he has long threatened would likely reinforce a global perception of a president preoccupied with domestic matters and unwilling to act decisively in the volatile Middle East, a picture already set by his mixed response to the crisis in Egypt.

Where is this pressure coming from? Strangely, that question doesn’t even occur to a lot of news organizations. Take this CBS story. The very first sentence says, “The Obama administration faced new pressure Thursday to take action on Syria.” New pressure from whom? The story proceeds as if it doesn’t matter. How can readers judge how much weight the pressure should carry? Pressure from hundreds of thousands of citizens in the streets confers a certain degree of legitimacy. So does pressure from a just-passed House bill urging a certain course of action, or even unanimous pressure from all of the experts on a given subject.

What I’d like is if news accounts on pressure to intervene in Syria made it clear that the “growing calls … for forceful action” aren’t coming from the people, or Congressional majorities, or an expert consensus. The pressure is being applied by a tiny, insular elite that mostly lives in Washington, D.C., and isn’t bothered by the idea of committing America to military action that most Americans oppose. Nor are they bothered by the president launching a war of choice without Congressional approval, even though Obama declared as a candidate that such a step would be illegal. Some of them haven’t even thought through the implications of the pressure they’re applying.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/08/how-an-insular-beltway-elite-makes-wars-of-choice-more-likely/279116/

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UK protesters urge the West not to get involved in Syria

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Our Banks Own Airports, Control Power Plants and Much More—How Can We Stop Them from Controlling the Lifelines of the Economy?

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/economy/banks-are-buying-essential-lifelines-our-economy-and-jacking-costs-max-profits

Aren’t there rules against that? And where are the banks getting the money?

By Ellen Brown
August 26, 2013

Giant bank holding companies now own airports, toll roads, and ports; control power plants; and store and hoard vast quantities of commodities of all sorts. They are systematically buying up or gaining control of the essential lifelines of the economy. How have they pulled this off, and where have they gotten the money?

In a  letter to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke dated June 27, 2013, US Representative Alan Grayson and three co-signers expressed concern about the expansion of large banks into what have traditionally been non-financial commercial spheres. Specifically:

[W]e are concerned about how large banks have recently expanded their businesses into such fields as electric power production, oil refining and distribution, owning and operating of public assets such as ports and airports, and even uranium mining.

After listing some disturbing examples, they observed:

According to legal scholar Saule Omarova, over the past five years, there has been a “quiet transformation of U.S. financial holding companies.” These financial services companies have become global merchants that seek to extract rent from any commercial or financial business activity within their reach.  They have used legal authority in Graham-Leach-Bliley to subvert the “foundational principle of separation of banking from commerce”. . . .

It seems like there is a significant macro-economic risk in having a massive entity like, say JP Morgan, both issuing credit cards and mortgages, managing municipal bond offerings, selling gasoline and electric power, running large oil tankers, trading derivatives, and owning and operating airports, in multiple countries.

A “macro” risk indeed – not just to our economy but to our democracy and our individual and national sovereignty. Giant banks are buying up our country’s infrastructure – the power and supply chains that are vital to the economy. Aren’t there rules against that? And where are the banks getting the money?

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/economy/banks-are-buying-essential-lifelines-our-economy-and-jacking-costs-max-profits

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Keystone XL Decision Delayed Again? Inspector General Pushes Report on ERM Scandals to January

From Desmog Blog:   http://desmogblog.com/2013/08/23/keystone-xl-decision-IG-report-delayed-until-january

Brendan DeMelle
Fri, 2013-08-23

Did the Obama administration’s decision on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline just get delayed again? Quite possibly, since the State Department Inspector General announced today that it has delayed until January the release of its review of the scandals surrounding Environmental Resources Management, Inc., the contractor chosen by TransCanada to perform State’s Keystone XL environmental review.

Although the State Department was evasive about whether the IG’s announcement signals a delay in the administration’s decision, it would seem odd for President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to decide on the fate of the KXL export pipeline without waiting for the results of this critical report.

Bloomberg News and The Hill broke the news about the delay, and all signs point to the fact that State’s “inquiry” has morphed into a thorough conflicts-of-interest investigation into ERM’s financial ties to TransCanada and other scandals. 

Ever since the March 2013 release of the State Department’s environmental impact statement, critics have pointed to ERM Group’s historical ties to Big Tobacco, its green-lighting of controversial projects in Peru and the Caspian Sea, and its declaration that a tar sands refinery in Delaware made the air “cleaner,” among many other industry-friendly rulings.

Worst of all, perhaps – and potentially in violation of federal law – ERM Group lied on its State Department contract, claiming it had no business ties to TransCanada and the tar sands industry. The facts showed otherwise.

Continue reading at:  http://desmogblog.com/2013/08/23/keystone-xl-decision-IG-report-delayed-until-january

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Brutal Death and Suffering; Business as Usual in The Faroe Islands

From Sea Shepherd: http://www.seashepherd.org/commentary-and-editorials/2013/08/21/brutal-death-and-suffering-business-as-usual-in-the-faroe-islands-617

by Erwin Vermeulen
August 21, 2013

It’s been an extremely bloody few weeks in the Ferocious Isles, even by Faroese standards. On August 8, 107 Long-finned Pilot whales were slaughtered in Sandavágur. On August 11, 21 were butchered in Leynar and on the 13th, 135 lost their lives in Húsavík.

The grind(adrap), as the Pilot whale drive is called, has a recorded history since 1584. There are 23 whaling bays assigned to six districts in which the meat and blubber are divided among the population. A drive is initiated when fishermen or ferries offshore sight dolphins. The dolphins are driven into a bay with boats and even jet skis and pulled up onto the beach with a hook in the blowhole. Then the spinal cord is cut with a knife.

The Húsavík massacre on the 13th was not the only one that took place that day. In Hvalba, the incredibly high number of 430 Atlantic White-sided dolphins were driven into ‘whale bay’ and brutally murdered. Some people might be surprised to hear that these islanders are targeting species other than Pilot whales, but they have always hunted smaller dolphins, especially in Hvalba. They last killed Atlantic White-sided dolphins in Hvalba in August 2010 and Risso’s dolphins earlier that year in April. Oravik took 100 Atlantic White-sided dolphins in August 2009. That same month, Hvalba killed two Northern Bottlenose whales that were reported as stranded, and a month later Klaksvik took three Risso’s. In June 1978 that town even butchered 31 Orcas.

While White-sided and Bottlenose dolphins and Harbor porpoises can be driven to slaughter, according the local regulations, it is illegal to kill Risso’s and Orcas. In all of these instances, mistaking them for Pilot whales was cited as the excuse for killing them. ‘Cetaceans for dummies’ has obviously not been translated into Faroese.

Soon however, wannabe dolphin killers will have to pass a test before they can participate in the bloodshed. The Minister of Fisheries announced that as of May 2015 all persons taking part in the slaughter must take a course in the laws and correct procedures relating to the grinds, and possess the relevant license to kill. They will get training in the use of the grind tools that will be permitted as of 2015, nostril hooks and spinal lances; the ability to recognize death signals (not suffering, as that is irrelevant to the killers) of the animals; and be familiar with all legislation before they can participate. Use of the grind knife and grinding hook will no longer be allowed except in special circumstances by permit. Some conservation groups have hailed these measures as the beginning of the end of the grind. These are usually the same groups that believe in winning the hearts and minds of the Faroese people to encourage them to stop killing.

Complete article at:  http://www.seashepherd.org/commentary-and-editorials/2013/08/21/brutal-death-and-suffering-business-as-usual-in-the-faroe-islands-617

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Fukushima keeps on leaking, Japan keeps on issuing confusing explanations

From The Gristhttp://grist.org/news/fukushima-keeps-on-leaking-japan-keeps-on-issuing-confusing-explanations/

By 28 Aug 2013

Problems continue to burble up at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant — or, in this case, gush out.

We learned last month that contaminated water has been leaking from the plant into the sea at a rate of about 300 tons a day. Then last week came word of a more serious spill of 300 tons of extremely radioactive water, which the government classified as a level 3 incident on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale.

The scale runs from zero, where everything is peachy, past level 3, which indicates a “serious incident,” up to level 7, which means the kind of living hell that engulfed the facility when its reactors melted down following an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

From CNN:

The decision to issue the level 3 alert came two days after a Japanese government minister had compared the plant operator’s efforts to deal with worrying toxic water leaks at the site to a game of “whack-a-mole.”

Now the International Atomic Energy Agency wants to know why last week’s spill received an incident rating while other accidents at the site over the past two years — from a rat-induced cooling outage to seemingly endless radioactive spills — received none. The IAEA says Japan should avoid sending “confusing messages.”

Meanwhile, Japan is forging ahead with plans to allow utilities to begin firing back up their nuclear power plants, which were all shut off in the wake of the Fukushima meltdown. What could go wrong?

Continue reading at:  http://grist.org/news/fukushima-keeps-on-leaking-japan-keeps-on-issuing-confusing-explanations/

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Another No Nuke Victory: Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant to Close in 2014

From Earth First News:  http://earthfirstnews.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/another-no-nuke-victory-vermont-yankee-nuclear-plant-to-close-in-2014/

by Laura Beans
Aug. 28, 2013

In the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster, the nuclear energy sector has seen a downturn, enduring bad press and changing financial trends as well as racking up a running list of safety issues in plants around the world. 

Nuclear energy opponents have seen a series of successes recently, from the closing of San Onofre in California to the Paducah plant in Kentucky in May. Yesterday, Entergy Corp. announced it would decommission Vermont Yankee in 2014, the state’s only nuclear power plant.

The decision to close and dismantle the plant ends a nasty legal battle between Entergy and the state of Vermont, and is another win for the growing anti-nuclear energy movement. Global electricity generation from nuclear power dropped by seven percent in 2012, after a four percent decline in 2011, according to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report.

Vermont Yankee opened in 1972 in Vernon, on the banks of the Connecticut River. According to the Associated Press, the plant currently employs about 630 people, and while in the past it provided almost one-third of the state’s electrical supply, it now ships nearly all of its power to electric companies in neighboring states. In 2010, citing safety issues and the age of the plant’s reactors, the Vermont Senate voted against a measure that would have authorized a permit to Vermont Yankee allowing it to operate for an additional 20 years.

Reactions from state leaders have been positive, as the closure is seen as long overdue. ‘‘This is the right decision for Vermont and it’s the right decision for Vermont’s clean energy future,’’ said Gov. Shumlin (D-VT) in the Associated Press article.

According to Entergy, the plant is expected to cease power production after its current fuel cycle and move to safe shutdown in the fourth quarter of 2014. The station will remain under the oversight of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission throughout the decommissioning process.

Continue reading at:  http://earthfirstnews.wordpress.com/2013/08/28/another-no-nuke-victory-vermont-yankee-nuclear-plant-to-close-in-2014/

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