Oh, Canada! Transgender Archives and Research Center Arises

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-beyer/oh-canada-transgender-arc_b_3977413.html?view=screen


I’ve been fortunate to know some remarkable people since I began my transition over 20 years ago. One of them is Dr. Aaron Devor, who has been doing unsung but indispensable work for years managing the world’s foremost transgender archives. He is very fortunate to call home the University of Victoria, British Columbia’s hidden gem sitting on Vancouver Island, itself one of the most beautiful places in the world. This public university is rated by the prestigious Times Higher Education World University Rankings as in the top 1 percent of universities in the world.

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly to some, UVic has become a world-class center for transgender research, largely due to the vision and hard work of Dr. Devor. Aaron is a world-renowned researcher in sociology, one of the founders of transgender studies, a former Dean of Graduate Studies, an out trans man, and the founder and Academic Director of the world’s largest transgender archives.

The Transgender Archives at the University of Victoria is committed to the preservation of the history of pioneering activists, community leaders, and researchers who have contributed to the betterment of transgender people anywhere in the world. The UVic Transgender Archives began actively acquiring documents, rare publications, and memorabilia of persons and organizations associated with transgender activism in 2007. I was fortunate to be present when Aaron officially announced the Archives at the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) meetings in Atlanta in September 2011. The collection includes more than 600 books on transgender topics, more than 500 transgender newsletters from around the world (including a full run of the pathbreaking Transvestia, 1960-86), and personal papers and memorabilia of transgender pioneers.

The archives began with the generous donation of the entire contents of the Rikki Swin Institute, which opened in Chicago in 2001, and was donated to UVic in 2007. The Rikki Swin collection includes the personal papers of Virginia Prince, one of the founders of transgender activism; 20 years of history of Fantasia Fair, the longest-running transgender convention (38 years this October); key documents from activist Ari Kane; and papers from the founders of the International Foundation for Gender Education (IFGE), Merissa Sherrill Lynn and Betty Ann Lind.

Other major collections include the personal papers of transgender pioneer, philanthropist, and activist Reed Erickson, founder of the Erickson Educational Foundation; and the entire University of Ulster Transgender Archives, chronicling more than 25 years of UK trans history and activism, which is on its way to UVic right now. There are also many smaller collections already in the Archives, and several more massive and historically significant collections that have been promised but can’t yet be publicly named. The Transgender Archives at the University of Victoria is open to the public, and content is being put online, as funds allow. I’m honored to have been asked to bequeath my personal papers to the archives. (If you have your own collections stashed away, they’d love to hear from you. You can reach Aaron Devor at ahdevor@uvic.ca.)

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dana-beyer/oh-canada-transgender-arc_b_3977413.html?view=screen

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Secret War Against Iran Underway Undercover Conflict Upon Iran Underway

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Seymour Hersh on Obama, NSA and the ‘pathetic’ American media

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/media/media-blog/2013/sep/27/seymour-hersh-obama-nsa-american-media

Pulitzer Prize winner explains how to fix journalism, saying press should ‘fire 90% of editors and promote ones you can’t control’

Friday 27 September

Seymour Hersh has got some extreme ideas on how to fix journalism – close down the news bureaus of NBC and ABC, sack 90% of editors in publishing and get back to the fundamental job of journalists which, he says, is to be an outsider.

It doesn’t take much to fire up Hersh, the investigative journalist who has been the nemesis of US presidents since the 1960s and who was once described by the Republican party as “the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist”.

He is angry about the timidity of journalists in America, their failure to challenge the White House and be an unpopular messenger of truth.

Don’t even get him started on the New York Times which, he says, spends “so much more time carrying water for Obama than I ever thought they would” – or the death of Osama bin Laden. “Nothing’s been done about that story, it’s one big lie, not one word of it is true,” he says of the dramatic US Navy Seals raid in 2011.

Hersh is writing a book about national security and has devoted a chapter to the bin Laden killing. He says a recent report put out by an “independent” Pakistani commission about life in the Abottabad compound in which Bin Laden was holed up would not stand up to scrutiny. “The Pakistanis put out a report, don’t get me going on it. Let’s put it this way, it was done with considerable American input. It’s a bullshit report,” he says hinting of revelations to come in his book.

The Obama administration lies systematically, he claims, yet none of the leviathans of American media, the TV networks or big print titles, challenge him.

“It’s pathetic, they are more than obsequious, they are afraid to pick on this guy [Obama],” he declares in an interview with the Guardian.

“It used to be when you were in a situation when something very dramatic happened, the president and the minions around the president had control of the narrative, you would pretty much know they would do the best they could to tell the story straight. Now that doesn’t happen any more. Now they take advantage of something like that and they work out how to re-elect the president.

He isn’t even sure if the recent revelations about the depth and breadth of surveillance by the National Security Agency will have a lasting effect.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/media/media-blog/2013/sep/27/seymour-hersh-obama-nsa-american-media

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America’s prisons have turned into de facto mental institutions

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The Cult of the Selfish

From In These Times:  http://inthesetimes.com/article/15657/the_cult_of_the_selfish/

When did America lose sight of the common good?

BY Leo Gerard, United Steelworkers President
September 24, 2013

Last week, in an example of what makes America beautiful, several strangers rushed to the aid of a New York City construction worker trapped in a burning fifth-floor apartment. The rescuers hoisted a ladder up a fire escape and extended it to the smoky windowsill where the victim clung.

One of the rookie rescuers risked his life clambering across the ladder-bridge four stories high and grabbing the victim as he dropped from the window.

A group of unrelated men cooperated to save the life of a fellow human. That is the best of America. That is what Americans aspire to be—participants in a human community that works together to benefit all, to advance everyone. But the American ideal of brotherhood from sea to shining sea is under attack.

A cult of the selfish relentlessly assails the value of American community. And now, the cult’s cruel campaign of civic meanness is achieving tragic victories. Just last week, for example, it succeeded in getting a bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives that would slash funding for food stamps by $40 billion—taking milk from the mouths of millions of babes in the richest country in the world. Also, it secured passage of a bill in the House that would de-fund the Affordable Care Act, thus denying health care—and in some cases life itself—to millions of uninsured Americans.

Denying food to the hungry, chemo to the cancer-stricken? That is not American. That is what ruthless dictators do. That is the stuff of Kim Jong-il. That is not how Americans treat each other.

It is, however, exactly what the cult of the selfish is seeking. It wants an America without community, where everyone is out for himself. Alone. Self-seeking. Self-dealing. In that world, the CEO who succeeds did it all by himself—no credit should be given to dedicated workers or community tax breaks or federal copyright protections. Similarly, in that world, the worker who is laid off has no one to blame but himself, not a crash on Wall Street, not the failure of a CEO to properly market products, not a technological transformation.

Decades ago, these scam artists tried to persuade Great Depression victims that their joblessness was their own, individual faults, not a result of the 1929 Black Friday market catastrophe. They’re resurgent now, trying to blame the 2008 Wall Street debacle on individual mortgage holders. They contend those working 40 hours a week for minimum wage deserve an income too paltry to pay for food and shelter. They insist that Social Security and Medicare be slashed, and if that means workers who paid into the programs their entire lives must live on cat food in retirement, well, that’s their individual fault.

What’s frightening is how close they’re getting to what they want—a country in which the rich get richer and everyone else blames themselves for falling behind.

Continue reading at:  http://inthesetimes.com/article/15657/the_cult_of_the_selfish/

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Greenwald and Snowden saved the media from itself

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/09/25/greenwald_and_snowden_saved_the_media_from_itself/

For all the scoffing among “journalists” at Glenn Greenwald, Americans trust the media more after his disclosures

Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013

There should be no doubt that the whistle-blowing of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and the reporting by Glenn Greenwald at the Guardian together comprise the single biggest ongoing media story of the last few months — and it has truly been a media story. Indeed, unlike the journalism that surrounds a spontaneous event like a natural disaster, the reporting surrounding the NSA disclosures is, in part, about the fundamental relationship between the press and the government. More specifically, as Snowden himself said, it is about “the journalistic responsibility to challenge the excesses of government” by publishing material the government wants to keep secret.

Greenwald in particular turned it into that media story by not only responsibly publishing that material like the Washington Post did, but also by doggedly flogging the controversy as an ongoing commentary about the entire relationship between the public, the government and the press. And because that intrepid effort subsequently made the NSA disclosures the highest-profile media story in a generation, it stands to reason that the story will have a disproportionate impact on the public’s view of the media itself. That impact, in fact, could be one of the many significant long-term Snowden Effects.

The question, then, is: Will that Snowden Effect further erode Americans’ trust in the beleaguered news business, or will the story begin rebuilding that trust?

If the new findings from Gallup are representative of a larger trend, the answer seems to be the latter.

In its annual survey about Americans’ views of journalism, the polling firm documented one of the decade’s largest jumps in the number of people who say they trust the media. Notably, the spike in confidence was seen across all party affiliations.

The takeaway should be fairly obvious: Gallup’s results almost certainly show that the Snowden Effect had a positive impact on the media’s image. To know that’s the case is to simply remember that a) the NSA disclosures were the most prominent media story at the time of the survey and b) the trans-partisan nature of the public opinion bump not-so-coincidentally tracks the trans-partisan nature of the response to the NSA story itself.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/09/25/greenwald_and_snowden_saved_the_media_from_itself/

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Spilling the NSA’s Secrets Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger on the Inside Story of Snowden Leaks

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How climate change contributed to Colorado flood

From Tree Hugger:  http://www.treehugger.com/climate-change/how-climate-change-contributed-colorado-flood.html

Chris Tackett
September 25, 2013

It has become a familiar pattern. A natural disaster occurs and we can’t help but wonder how it may have been influenced by climate change. With more than 97% of 11,944 peer-reviewed papers by climate scientists agreeing that global warming is man-made and basic physics and climate models predicting that a warmer atmosphere will lead to heavier rains, it’s understandable that the incredible rains that fell on Colorado would lead us to wonder what role climate change played in the devastating floods.

Michael Behar at OnEarth explained the weather pattern that led to the unprecedented rain:

Atmospheric water vapor fed by the remnants of two tropical storms—one in the Gulf of Mexico and another in the Pacific Ocean—had already reached the highest level ever measured in Colorado for September, usually one of our driest months. At the same time, a stationary high-pressure system to the east and a deep low to the west had trapped all that moisture up against the Rocky Mountains. Powerful easterly winds forced the moisture upward, where it quickly condensed in the cooler air, resulting in last week’s deluge.

In Colorado, these “upslope” storms are typically small and don’t last long—because the conditions to generate them rarely align for more than 12 hours. But not this time. Instead, optimal conditions persisted for nearly a week across a vast area from central Colorado to the Wyoming border. That’s why some meteorologists have called “Superflood 2013” a millennial storm: in any given year, they say, there’s only a one-in-1,000 chance that the atmospheric variables would come together to produce a tempest of such magnitude.

Continue reading at:  http://www.treehugger.com/climate-change/how-climate-change-contributed-colorado-flood.html


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For Democrats Nationwide, Pennsylvania Offers a Lens on the Widening Rift Over Fracking

From Food and Water Watch:  http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/blogs/for-democrats-nationwide-pennsylvania-offers-a-lens-on-the-widening-rift-over-fracking/

By Wenonah Hauter
September 23rd, 2013

The Democratic Party has a few problems. Recently, President Obama has been forced to confront growing discord within his own party over a number of issues, from foreign policy to economics and the nomination of a new Federal Reserve chair. But another fissure between the Obama Administration and rank-and-file Democrats across the country, one that’s been slowly developing for years, has suddenly cracked wide open. It threatens to split the party in two, just as it quite literally splits the bedrock beneath our feet. It is the extreme gas drilling and extraction process know as fracking.

In large, solidly Blue states like California and New York, where Democrats with national responsibilities (or national aspirations) consistently look for inspiration and cash, local grassroots movements against fracking have evolved and expanded into mainstream statewide forces. But perhaps more notably, resistance to fracking among Democrats has also recently flourished in states less reliably liberal, less environmentally inclined, and situated smack in the middle of oil and gas country. States like Pennsylvania.

After years of destructive and dangerous fracking in Pennsylvania, it all became too much to bear. Too many cases of poisoned drinking water. Too many cases of serious health effects, including asthma, nausea, dizziness, eye and skin impairments, and the like. Too many rural communities turned upside-down by sudden industrialization (with its increased crime, traffic accidents and social strains) followed by boom-and-bust economic hardship. Too many terrible side effects of fracking to tolerate.

So the Pennsylvania Democratic Party finally said “enough.” In June, its state committee passed a resolution calling for an indefinite moratorium on fracking. But as many party activists and officials cheered, the debate intensified. Democrats aligned with Obama’s naïve, uninformed vision of gas fracking as a “bridge” to American energy utopia immediately struck back, defending the companies that have long filled their campaign coffers. According to the group Common Cause, the natural gas industry gave $8 million to Pennsylvania political candidates from 2000 to 2012 and spent an astounding $15.7 million on in-state lobbying between 2007 and 2012.

Chief among Democratic fracking apologists was former Governor Ed Rendell – the same Ed Rendell that left the Capitol in Harrisburg to work as a highly paid lobbyist and spokesperson for the fossil fuel industry.

Continue reading at:  http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org/blogs/for-democrats-nationwide-pennsylvania-offers-a-lens-on-the-widening-rift-over-fracking/

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Ecological ‘Wake-Up’ Call Counters Corporate-Friendly ‘Free’ Trade

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/09/23-5

Report from UN body on sustainable agriculture stands ‘in stark contrast to the accelerated push for new free trade agreements, including the TPP’

Andrea Germanos

The world needs to “wake up before it is too late” and usher in a paradigm shift in agriculture that moves away from industrial agriculture in favor of “mosaics of sustainable regenerative production system” that favor small-scale farmers and local food production, a new report from a UN body states.

However, the call from the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) flies in the face of the goals laid out by trade deals now being negotiated including the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership.

The report—Wake up before it is too late: Make agriculture truly sustainable now for food security in a changing climate (pdf)—was written with contributions from over 60 experts, and finds that “urgent and far-reaching action” is needed to address the “collective crisis” of “rural poverty, persistent hunger around the world, growing populations, and mounting environmental concerns.”

The UNCTAD report was welcomed by groups who have long advocated for agroecological approaches, including GRAIN, La Via Campesina and the ETC Group.

“Long before the release of this report, small farmers around the world were already convinced that we absolutely need a diversified agriculture to guarantee a balanced local food production, the protection of people’s livelihoods and the respect of nature,” Elizabeth Mpofu, general coordinator of La Via Campesina, said in a statement.

However, as the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) points out, the approaches the report advocates are incompatible with the free trade agreements like the TPP.  In its contribution to the report, IATP focused on the effects of trade liberalization on agriculture systems. We argued that trade liberalization both at the WTO and in regional deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had increased volatility and corporate concentration in agriculture markets, while undermining the development of locally-based, agroecological systems that better support farmers.

The report’s findings are in stark contrast to the accelerated push for new free trade agreements, including the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the U.S.-EU Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), which expand a long discredited model of economic development designed primarily to strengthen the hold of multinational corporate and financial firms on the global economy. Neither global climate talks nor other global food security forums reflect the urgency expressed in the UNCTAD report to transform agriculture.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/09/23-5

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