Friday Night Fun and Culture: 1960s Girl Groups

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Museum opens major exhibition on April Ashley and British trans lives

From Gay Star UK:

Museum of Liverpool and Homotopia open major exhibition on the life of transgender rights champion April Ashley and others like her

By Tris Reid-Smith
26 September 2013

The story of April Ashley, one of the first people in the world to have gender reassignment surgery, is to be told at a major exhibition opening tomorrow (27 September).

The Museum of Liverpool in north-west England will show the major exhibition for a year – telling 70 years of transgender history in Britain.

April Ashley: Portrait of a lady is the first major exhibition to look at her story and uncovers the lives of other transgender people during those decades.

Ashley said: ‘I’m very excited. I could never have imagined that when I left Liverpool 60 years ago I would one day return to an exhibition about my life in the museum.’

Ashley was born George Jamieson in Liverpool in 1935. She prayed each morning she would wake up a girl, and joined the Merchant Navy aged 14 to escape an unhappy home life and the confusion around her gender.

She attempted suicide, was admitted to a mental institution and endured electric shock treatment, then moved to Paris where she transitioned from male to female.

She became a dancer at Le Carrousel nightclub in the French capital to raise enough funds for gender reassignment surgery at a pioneering clinic in Casablanca, Morocco in 1960.

Back in Britain, she became a successful model and actress, photographed by David Bailey, appearing in Vogue.

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Scott Lively Sends Out a Hit List Targets Federal Judge and Lesbian Activist

From O Blog dee O Blog da:

Is Lively asking his flock to pray or prey?

By Cathy Kristofferson,
September 25, 2013

After failing, yet again, to have the case against him for Crimes Against Humanity dismissed, Scott Lively has sent what is tantamount to a persecutory email to his followers containing a ‘hit list’ of those who are supporting the prosecution of his persecution.

Lively sent his Defend The Family flock details of local Springfield citizens who he feels are “responsible” for the lawsuit brought against him in the guise of a ‘please pray for’ me  letter.  He labels those he has listed as “the Marxist activists that have conspired to bring this bogus litigation forward.” A defamatory term, no doubt, as he would be hard pressed to prove that the names he mentions are indeed Marxists. Perhaps more lawsuits ought to follow this misrepresentation and slander.

And he knows no bounds as his email letter is replete with names, places of employment, and photos.

It seems quite obvious that Lively is lashing out as a result of his recent court losses and because it is so obvious that praying for a third party does not require outing their personal details nor slandering their reputations with phony political attributions. Those types of details are not required for a call to pray and so Scott Lively’s motives are abundantly clear. The man wants revenge and is setting the activists up as targets.  It leads by providing the uncalled for details arm in arm with slanderous rhetoric,that Lively is calling upon his his flock to do his bidding – to take some form of revenge into their own hands.

Of course he didn’t publish it to the Internet, just his email list. But it is public and hence as dangerous and equally slanderous. He had his fellow SPLC- designated anti-gay hate list pal Peter LaBarbera, head of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH), do the worldwide push hoping to defend his “friend and culture war hero Scott Lively”.

Lively starts his hit list with the Federal Court Judge, then the local counsel, and then an activist from local social justice organizations making sure everyone reading knows just which person he is pointing at:

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H. Adam Ackley, Transgender Theology Professor, Asked To Leave California’s Azusa Pacific University

From Huffington Post:

By Sarah Pulliam Bailey 09/23/2013

A California Christian university has asked a professor who was once its chair of theology and philosophy to leave after he came out as transgender.

Heather Clements taught theology at Azusa Pacific University for 15 years, but this past year, he began referring to himself as H. Adam Ackley. “This year has been a transition from being a mentally ill woman to being a sane, transgendered man,” he said.

Ackley, who is in his third year of a five-year contract at a school that does not use the tenure system, said university policies seem to be silent about transgender issues, except that “Humans were created as gendered beings.”

“I did not get a sense directly from the individuals with whom I was speaking that they had a theological problem with transgender identity,” Ackley said. “I did get the message that it has to do with their concern that other people, such as donors, parents and churches connected to the university will have problems not understanding transgender identity.”

APU spokeswoman Rachel White declined to discuss Ackley’s employment, citing confidential personnel matters. Ackley planned to meet with a university lawyer on Monday (Sept. 23).

Ackley said he and APU have agreed to part ways and the university said it will continue to pay him through the academic year. But, he said, the university wants other professors to take over his current classes. He also said that his insurance was denied when he sought hormone treatment and “top surgery” for his chest area.

“They’re giving me privacy to transition but denying medical treatment to do that,” said Ackley, who is 47, has two children and is in the process of getting a divorce.

APU is an interdenominational evangelical university of about 10,000 students and 1,200 faculty located northeast of Los Angeles. It is one the largest member schools in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.

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Barilla to Gays: Eat Someone Else’s Pasta

Thanks for the Suggestion. Consider it done.

From The Advocate:

The world’s largest pasta producer only supports what it calls ‘traditional families.’

BY Sunnivie Brydum
September 26 2013

Italian pasta-maker Barilla apparently has a distaste for gay families. The company’s chairman told Italian radio show La Zanzara Thursday that the world’s largest pasta producer will never feature gay couples in its advertisements.

“I would never do [a commercial] with a homosexual couple, not for lack of respect but because we don’t agree with them,” said Guido Barilla, according to a Reuters translation. “Ours is a classic family where the woman plays a fundamental role. … If [gays] don’t like it, they can go eat another brand.”

Just to drive his point home, Barilla added, “I have no respect for adoption by gay families because this concerns a person who is not able to choose,” according to a translation from the U.K. Independent. “Everyone has a the right to do what they want without disturbing those around them.”


The backlash to Barilla’s comments was almost immediate, with LGBT activists in Italy and around the world calling for a boycott of Barilla products. By midday in Italy, the hashtag #boicottbarilla was trending on Twitter, according to Italian news service ANSA. Twitter users were circulating the meme at right.

Even members of Italian Parliament dished on the company’s discriminatory stance. “Here we have another example of homophobia, Italian style,” said Alessandro Zan, a member of the left-wing Sinistra Ecologia Libertá party, according to ANSA. “I’m boycotting Barilla and I invite other MPs … to do the same. I’ve already changed pasta brands. Barilla is terrible quality.”

More centrist lawmakers also expressed disappointment in the Italian company.

“It’s depressing that a businessman used to working and traveling around the the would should say what Guido Barilla had said,” Ivan Scalfarotto, a parliamentarian in the center-left Democratic Party, told the Independent. “I certainly won’t be buying his products anymore.”

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“Stun Cuffs” The New Shock Collar For The Sheeple

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UK detention of Reprieve activist consistent with NSA’s view of drone opponents as ‘threats’ and ‘adversaries’

From The Guardian UK:

A top secret NSA document provides context for yesterday’s abusive detention of Baraa Shiban

Read the excerpts of the drone document here, Wednesday 25 September 2013

A well-known and highly respected Yemeni anti-drone activist was detained yesterday by UK officials under that country’s “anti-terrorism” law at Gatwick Airport, where he had traveled to speak at an event. Baraa Shiban, the project co-ordinator for the London-based legal charity Reprieve, was held for an hour and a half and repeatedly questioned about his anti-drone work and political views regarding human rights abuses in Yemen.

When he objected that his political views had no relevance to security concerns, UK law enforcement officials threatened to detain him for the full nine hours allowed by the Terrorism Act of 2000, the same statute that was abused by UK officials last month to detain my partner, David Miranda, for nine hours.

Shiban tells his story today, here, in the Guardian, and recounts how the UK official told him “he had detained me not merely because I was from Yemen, but also because of Reprieve’s work investigating and criticising the efficacy of US drone strikes in my country.”

The notion that Shiban posed some sort of security threat was absurd on its face. As the Guardian reported Tuesday, “he visited the UK without incident earlier this summer and testified in May to a US congressional hearing on the impact of the covert drone programme in Yemen.”

Viewing anti-drone activism as indicative of a terrorism threat is noxious. As Reprieve’s Cory Crider put it yesterday, “if there were any doubt the UK was abusing its counter-terrorism powers to silence critics, this ends it.”

But perceiving drone opponents as “threats” or even “adversaries” is hardly new. Top secret US government documents obtained by the Guardian from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden characterize even the most basic political and legal opposition to drone attacks as part of “propaganda campaigns” from America’s “adversaries”.

The entry is part of a top secret internal US government website, similar in appearance to the online Wikipedia site. According to a June interview with Snowden in Hong Kong, the only individuals empowered to write these entries are those “with top secret clearance and public key infrastructure certificates”, special access cards enabling unique access to certain parts of NSA systems. He added that the entries are “peer reviewed” and that every edit made is recorded by user.

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Exposed: Enron billionaire’s diabolical plot to loot worker pensions

From Salon:

How an Enron billionaire, Wall Street and a major “nonpartisan” foundation are quietly robbing American workers

Thursday, Sep 26, 2013

This post is an excerpt of a major report the author wrote for the Institute for America’s Future. You can find the full report by clicking here.

In May of 2013, the Pew Charitable Trusts released a report that sounded a frightening alarm. Titled “Retirement Security Across Generations” and widely cited throughout the national media, the study found that a lack of retirement savings, less guaranteed pension income and the economic downturn have collectively exposed the next generation of Americans “to the real possibility of downward mobility in retirement.”

Summing up the study’s implicit push to stabilize Americans’ retirement future, a Pew official declared that lawmakers must focus on creating policies that help workers “make up for these losses and prepare for the future.”

Pew’s analysis, though eye-opening, was not particularly controversial. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, conservative Martin Morse Wooster acknowledges that the Pew Trusts are “treated as benign truth-tellers, so high-minded as to be beyond politics” – and the call to shore up Americans’ retirement security, indeed, upheld the organization’s promise 
to “generate objective data.” Based on indisputable evidence, it proved that the country’s move away from guaranteed pension income – and states’ willingness to raid worker pension plans to finance massive corporate subsidies – will have disastrous consequences.

What was surprising was the fact that at the same time one branch of Pew was rightly sounding this moderate non-ideological alarm to shore up retirement security, and Pew’s Economic Development Tax Incentives Project was warning of states’ wasteful tax subsidies, a more political branch of the organization was working in tandem with controversial Enron billionaire John Arnold to begin championing an ideologically driven plan to make the retirement problem far worse.

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Status of the Resistance Movement: Growing, Deepening, Succeeding

From Truth Out:

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers
Wednesday, 25 September 2013

So much has been accomplished by Occupy and other social justice movements in the past two years that it is incredible the corporate media and their pundits do not report on what is happening around them. Despite the lack of corporate media coverage, the movement is deepening, creating democratic institutions, stopping some of the worst policies from being pushed by the corporate duopoly and building a broad-based diverse movement.

This is not to say things are getting better for the 99%; in fact, quite the opposite is happening. Big business government continues to funnel money to the top while robbing most Americans of the little wealth they had. More Americans are being impacted by the unfair economy and realize that their struggle is not their fault but is the reality of living in a system with deep corruption and dysfunction. Economic injustice is the compost creating fertile ground for the movement to grow.

Too many commentators focus on the lack of encampments and think Occupy is dead. Camping out in public parks was a tactic – it was not the movement or the only tactic of the movement. Too many fail to look at what members of the Occupy community are doing along with other social justice, environmental and peace activists. We report on the movement every day at Popular Resistance so we see lots of activity all over the country on a wide range of issues and using a variety of tactics. And we see a growing movement having a bigger impact.

On the second anniversary of Occupy Wall Street (OWS), these writers captured the essence of Occupy. David Callahan, in Seven Ways Occupy Changed America And Is Still Changing It, correctly noted how we changed the debate, revived progressive populism, spurred worker revolts and challenged capitalism. Rebecca Solnit, who has been active in Occupy and other movements, also made important points. She writes, “Those who doubt that these moments matter should note how terrified the authorities and elites are when they erupt. That fear is a sign of their recognition that real power doesn’t only lie with them.”

Occupy taught us that we have power, that we can have an impact and that by building an ever-bigger movement, the power structure will shake. We are optimistic that the movements for peace and social, economic and environmental justice will continue to grow and find ways to work in solidarity. As the movements mature, we expect to see more successes in the struggle to weaken corporate domination and create a more just and sustainable society.

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Krugman: Rich are waging “pure class warfare”

From Salon:

The Nobel Prize-winning New York Times columnist argues the rich are even more selfish than you thought

Thursday, Sep 26, 2013

In a post at his blog, New York Times columnist and award-winning economist Paul Krugman argues that while it may appear the rich want to destroy all forms of government, that isn’t the case. What they really want to do, Krugman writes, is destroy all forms of government that don’t benefit themselves.

More from Krugman:

[M]any of the rich are selective in their opposition to government helping the unlucky. They’re against stuff like food stamps and unemployment benefits; but bailing out Wall Street? Yay!

Seriously. Charlie Munger says that we should “thank God” for the bailouts, but that ordinary people fallen on hard times should “suck it in and cope.” AIG’s CEO — the CEO of a bailed out firm! — says that complaints about bonuses to executives at such firms are just as bad as lynchings (I am not making this up.)

The point is that the superrich have not gone Galt on us — not really, even if they imagine they have. It’s much closer to pure class warfare, a defense of the right of the privileged to keep and extend their privileges. It’s not Ayn Rand, it’s Ancien Régime.

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People Want Full Medicare for All

From Common Dreams:

by Ralph Nader

Freshman Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who somehow got through Princeton and Harvard Law School, is the best news the defaulting Democratic Party has had in years.

As the Texas bull in the Senate china shop, he has been making a majority of his Republican colleagues cringe with his bare-knuckle antics and language. His 21-hour talkathon on the Senate floor demanding the defunding of Obamacare made his Republican colleagues cringe. His Nazi appeasement analogies and threats to shut down were especially embarrassing.

After listening to his lengthy rant on the Senate Floor on Tuesday and Wednesday, one comes away with two distinct impressions. Ted Cruz cannot resist inserting himself here, there and everywhere. And nothing is too trivial for Senator Talkathon. He likes White Castle hamburgers, he loves pancakes; he talked about what he liked to read as a little boy, where he’s traveled, what clothes he wears and other trivia.

You’d think he would have used his time to talk specifically about the suffering that uninsured people and their children are going through, especially in the Lone Star State. Or about what could replace Obamacare other than his repeated “free market” solution, which is to say the “pay or die” profiteering, tax-subsidized corporate system.

It was puzzling why he never mentioned that during his two days of talking, over two hundred Americans died, on average, because they couldn’t afford health insurance to get diagnoses and timely treatment. (A peer reviewed study by Harvard Medical School researchers estimated about 45,000 die annually for lack of affordable health insurance every year.)

The other reaction to Senator Cruz was that many of his more specific objections to Obamacare – its mind-numbing complexity, opposition by formerly supportive labor unions, and employers reacting by reducing worker hours below 30 hours a week to escape some of the law’s requirements – are well-taken and completely correctible by single-payer health insurance, as provided in Canada. Single-payer, or full Medicare for all, with free choice of physician and hospital has been the majority choice of Americans for decades. Even a majority of doctors and nurses favor it.

Single-payer’s advantage is that everybody is in, nobody is out. It is far more efficient, allows for better outcomes, saves lives, prevents injuries and illnesses, relieves people of severe anxieties and wasted time spent figuring out often fraud-ridden, inscrutable computerized bills and allows for the collection of pattern-detecting data to spot harmful trends.

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Obama’s Friends in Low Places

From Truth Dig:

By Robert Scheer
Sep 24, 2013

That Barack Obama is such a kidder. No matter how awkward the moment, he’s got just the right quip to purchase some wiggle room. Remember when his old Chicago banking buddy Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, first ran into that bit of trouble over his bank’s “London Whale” derivative scam? That scheme has already lost $6 billion with close to $1 billion more piled on by the SEC in fines last week after JPMorgan admitted it broke the law.

Well of course, being Obama, when the scandal first broke last year, the president picked a women’s daytime talk show, ABC’s “The View,” to deal with the scams of his leading Wall Street backer. “JPMorgan is one of the best-managed banks there is,” he told the “View” audience. “Jamie Dimon, the head of it, is one of the smartest bankers we got, and they still lost $2 billion and counting.”

Yes, counting; that $2 billion is now likely to end up around $16 billion given the future legal fees and possible payouts allotted to countering the myriad lawsuits connected with this admission of illegal activity. That’s aside from the mortgage fraud, Libor rate rigging and energy manipulation cases still confronting the beleaguered bank. Thursday, on the same day that Dimon’s bank got slapped with the SEC fine, federal regulators revealed that JPMorgan had agreed to pay $389 million in penalties and refunds to compensate for a credit card identity theft protection scam after $309 million already paid out in that case.

It should be remembered that this same Dimon, who appeared before a Senate committee wearing presidential cufflinks, once worked with Sanford Weill in engineering the reversal of the Glass-Steagall law to make Citigroup, a previously illegal merger of investment and commercial banks, possible. But despite his record as a leader in the radical deregulation of banking that caused all of the trouble, Obama turned to Dimon for direction on fixing the economy.

If you still require to be disabused of Obama’s pretend populism, consider his decision to select William M. Daley, JPMorgan’s representative in Washington, to be his White House chief of staff. It gave Dimon the key White House connection to accompany the passkey he already had at Treasury with his pal Timothy Geithner as secretary.

It was a real cozy arrangement; Dimon was still a governor of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, where he had served during Geithner’s presidency overseeing the banking meltdown. Geithner had been instrumental in arranging Fed financing for JPMorgan’s acquisition of troubled Bear Stearns through a $55 billion loan and later an additional $25 billion in TARP funds.

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Climate Week – An Ice Free Arctic?

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How to stop a coal train in its tracks

From Waging Non-Violence:

September 21, 2013

Last Sunday, 14 people walked past a “no trespassing” sign in-between two railroad tracks in Helena, Mont., and temporarily shut down the main rail line used to transport coal through Montana to the West Coast. The action marked the culmination of months of preparation, as organizers in Montana decided on the best way to bring direct action against coal transportation to a new level. Although the occupation of railroad property itself lasted less than an hour, by the time it was over something had changed significantly for Montana’s movement to stop coal exports.

This action began, as these things often do, with an unformed idea. A group of organizers in Montana, including myself, thought it was time to bring peaceful resistance against coal export plans to the next level. Some of us had been involved in last year’s Coal Export Action sit-in at Montana’s State Capitol — a week-long action during which 23 people were arrested protesting state officials’ decision to lease the Otter Creek Tracts in Southeast Montana to Arch Coal.

If built, the Otter Creek Mine would supply coal for export to international markets and be one of the biggest coal mines in North America. Not only that, it would put in place infrastructure that would make adjacent areas accessible to mining, paving the way for the transformation of rural Southeast Montana into an industrial coal extraction zone. Trains carrying coal from Otter Creek would add to local pollution in towns from Eastern Montana all the way to the West Coast. Burning all the coal from Otter Creek in overseas power plants would release more than 2.5 billion tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The summer that Arch Coal submitted its mining application (the next stage in the permitting process for the mine, after Arch got the initial lease from the Land Board), we held our sit-in at the Capitol. It became the largest act of climate-related civil disobedience in Montana history. Still, we knew it would take more than one action to win this fight.

A group of us started talking about how to make the next civil disobedience hit even closer to the source of the problem. How could we plan an action that would directly interfere with the transport of coal through Montana, but which ordinary working people with few financial resources could realistically participate in? This last point was especially important. We did not have the backing of a well-funded organization. In order to be successful, we needed to do all we could to avoid draining legal suits that would make it difficult for everyday people to participate.

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Fukushima Disaster Reaches Epic Proportions

From Nation of Change:

Christina Sarich
Thursday Sept. 26, 2013

Consuming cesium-tainted fish is probably about to be one of your least concerns. Most of us were already aware of the generalities of Fukushima’s defunct nuclear reactor seeping tons of toxic and radioactive iodone, cesium, and strontium-89 and 90 into the Pacific Ocean. We perhaps said a prayer and vowed to start consuming fish from other oceans. Now, there is news of Fukushima’s damaged Unit 4 pool, that a Yale professor warns “is in perilous danger and could threaten all of humanity for thousands of years.”

This is one of the biggest crises we’ve faced as a human race, as some have put it, since the disarming of the Soviet Union or the Cuban Missile Crisis. We need every activist to call for immediate action and all resources to be provided to the Fukushima plant without further finger pointing at the plant’s owner, Tokyo Electric (Tepco) in order for this calamity to be averted.

Within as few as 60 days, Tepco will begin trying to remove more than 1500 spent fuel rods from a badly damaged area of the nuclear reactor:

“[…] Much more serious is the danger that the spent fuel rod pool at the top of the nuclear plant number four will collapse in a storm or an earthquake, or in a failed attempt to carefully remove each of the 1,535 rods and safely transport them to the common storage pool 50 meters away. Conditions in the unit 4 pool, 100 feet from the ground, are perilous, and if any two of the rods touch it could cause a nuclear reaction that would be uncontrollable. The radiation emitted from all these rods, if they are not continually cool and kept separate, would require the evacuation of surrounding areas including Tokyo. Because of the radiation at the site the 6,375 rods in the common storage pool could not be continuously cooled; they would fission and all of humanity will be threatened, for thousands of years.”

Tepco has alluded to the fact that they don’t have the resources or expertise to try to remove these fuel rods safely, even though early on they tried to downplay the seriousness of the Fukushima event. The company already faces bankruptcy, but there is a much larger matter at hand. If the rods are not removed properly, more than 400 tons of fuel in that pool could spew out more than 15,000 times the radiation that was released at Hiroshima. We can’t leave this to Tepco and the Japanese government to handle. It is no longer a ‘foreign’ issue, but a worldwide concern to be taken extremely seriously.

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