On Working Together Over Time

Way back in 1969, after I had transitioned and years before Gloria Steinem came out with her analogy about changing the shoe to fit the foot rather than changing the foot to fit the shoe, I had an ironic button that read “Biology is Not Destiny!”

Even in the pre-post-modern era, that was a button open to many textual and subtextual readings.

I’ve never bought into the idea that there was a real “gender” binary.  Too many masculine women and feminine men along with way too many folks who defied easy classification as they were a blend of masculine and feminine characteristics.

I’ve never really seen myself as either butch or femme.

It was my body I was uncomfortable in, more than it was the gender although according to my friends I never really managed to live up to the gender expectations placed on men and boys.

I was uncomfortable with gender expectations placed on boys/men.  Later I discovered I was equally uncomfortable with many of the gender expectations placed on girls/women.

That’s why feminism felt like a natural fit for me, particularly after sex reassignment surgery.  It is why I am still sort of a nerdy, hippie tomboy of an old woman.

As far as I am concerned SRS wasn’t changing my foot to fit the shoe.  It was changing the shape of my body to fit who I was inside or as Steinem’s metaphor put it “Changing the shoe to fit my foot”.

I always thought  Gloria Steinem was sucked into the transphobic whirlpool wrought by the sect of 1970s radical feminism rather than her actually being a transphobe.

I’ve had some sisters tell me I was engaging in wishful thinking.  I don’t know I still remember the heady days of 1970s Second Wave Feminism with a great fondness and sadness too wondering where all that energy went.

From the Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2013/10/02/op-ed-working-together-over-time

Journalist, feminist, and political activist Gloria Steinem says transgender identities should be celebrated, not questioned.

BY Gloria Steinem
October 02 2013

Movements are like rivers. Dipping into them is never the same twice.

Movements are like rivers. Dipping into them is never the same twice.

Remember in 2007 when the then president of Iran told students at Columbia University, “In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals, like in your country?” The response was laughter, but I had a sinking feeling that something more serious than denial was going on. It did indeed turn out that Iran’s “solution” to freely chosen same-sex relationships was to criminalize them and to subsidize and even compel sexual reassignment surgery. I doubt I would have been so suspicious if his words hadn’t hit memories of four decades ago when I began traveling as a feminist organizer.

In 1974, Ms. Magazine published a long excerpt from Conundrum, the autobiography of the writer Jan Morris, and her transition from her life as James Humphrey Morris, a British army officer. Hers was a brave voyage to authenticity and a story I was glad to play a role in bringing to this country.

The reaction was mixed. It caused some to think that Ms. or I was recommending sexual reassignment surgery as a way of dealing with bias, and others just to be reaffirmed in their idea that we were unnatural women. I remember an outraged professor at a Catholic university standing up in a lecture hall and reading aloud the closing lines of our excerpt: “I do not for a moment regret the act of change. I could see no other way, and it has made me happy.”

Feminists must be right up there with bartenders and therapists as recipients of personal stories, because I also began to hear from gay men and lesbians surrounded by such lethal homophobia that they were considering — and in a few cases proceeding with — transitioning, not to align their bodies with their internal identities, but because of society’s bias against their sexual orientation.

Such stories led me to write a 1977 essay reminding us that, in addition to supporting informed choices like those of Jan Morris, Renee Richards, and others in the news at the time, we also needed to change society to fit individuals. It asked the question: If the shoe doesn’t fit, must we change the foot?

Years passed the Internet arrived, and words circulated out of time and context. Last year one young transgender student on campus assumed that old essay’s use of the word “mutilate” for surgeries performed because of societal pressure meant I was against sexual reassignment surgery altogether. He didn’t consider that it had been written two generations before he was born, and also in the context of global protests against routine surgical assaults, called female genital mutilation by some survivors.

So now I want to be unequivocal in my words: I believe that transgender people, including those who have transitioned, are living out real, authentic lives. Those lives should be celebrated, not questioned. Their health care decisions should be theirs and theirs alone to make. And what I wrote decades ago does not reflect what we know today as we move away from only the binary boxes of “masculine” or “feminine” and begin to live along the full human continuum of identity and expression.

Obviously, there is much similarity among the challenges of transgender people and all women — from health care to harassment to discrimination in the workplace. And there is always the basic patriarchal bias against any sexual expression that can’t end in conception, which is why kids on campus are sometimes mystified by the fact that the same groups oppose both, say, contraception and lesbians. I also think we have a lot to learn from original cultures that often didn’t even have “he” and “she” in their languages, taught girls how to control their own fertility, and routinely accepted and had special roles for the “twin-spirited.” These facts may remind us that patriarchy, racism, and nationalism have been dominant for less than 5% of human history. Maybe they are an experiment that failed.

I know we’ve all worked hard on and are celebrating the Supreme Court marriage rulings this spring, but there is so much work to do to reach full LGBT equality — and ensuring that transgender people also have equality under the law has been the most left out and therefore should become foremost on that list. A stunning 90% of transgender employees have faced discrimination or harassment at work — and no federal law explicitly protects transgender people in the workplace, though nearly 80% of voters in the U.S. support such a law. In weeks, the Senate is expected to take up the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would provide basic protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity – ensuring that no one can be denied employment or a promotion, or be fired, simply for being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender. It’s time that law passed. Obviously, no LGBT person should be denied the ability to be who they are because their boss disagrees. I’m grateful for this opportunity to say that I’m sorry and sad if any words floating out there from the past seem to suggest anything other than support, past and present. As feminists know, power over our own minds and bodies comes first.

Together, we are learning the deepest lesson. Families are not about form but content. Humans are not ranked; we are linked.

The Strength in Being a Feminine Gay Man

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tyler-curry/the-strength-in-being-a-feminine-gay-man_b_3896302.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices


As the mainstream image of what a gay man is continues to morph into more of a hero and less of a victim, we continue to cast our most handsome, athletic and masculine men in the leading roles of the gay movement. As our rainbow fades to pastel, society now understands that gay men can be just like the rest of mainstream society. Our community has a new cast of gay heroes who place our most chiseled, scruffy-jawlined faces forward for everyone to see. From TV stars like Wentworth Miller to athletes like Jason Collins, the world now knows that we can be strong and manly and fit right in with the rest of the boys. But there is a different kind of strength that has always existed within gay culture, although it might not come in the form of bulging muscles and bass voices.

Unlike his masculine counterpart, the effeminate gay man doesn’t have the luxury of hiding behind a butch façade until he is comfortable with coming out of the closet. You know the type. He can learn the choreography to the latest pop song more quickly than you can learn the lyrics. In high school he had to make a beeline for his car the minute the bell rang so that he could avoid the worn-out name calling, bullying or even violence. The Bedazzler was, is, and always will be his best childhood friend. Yes, these queeny gays may have been born with a serious masculinity deficiency, but that is exactly what makes them the epitome of strength.

As someone who has always straddled the masculine/feminine divide, I desperately sought to play up my butch qualities and minimize my fairy wings as much as humanly possible. Thankfully I excelled at sports and had a muscular build and a sort of generic, all-American-white-boy appeal — until I opened my mouth, of course. I sounded more like a chipmunk with a lisp than the boy who’d just made the saving play on the soccer field. Eventually it was the only thing that people noticed.

Even after I accepted my sexuality, I struggled with my femininity. I spent hours in the gym, building my body in an effort to emulate the ideal of what men supposedly should look like. I stopped applying my coveted bronzer and shaved my head like a G.I. Joe. I even opted for a more understated wardrobe over the tight, bright T-shirts that I secretly loved. But the nasal voice and extra bounce in my step were inescapable. No matter what I tried, I always received degrading comments and snickers about my disposition, but not from the straight community. These came from gay men.

A girl can only take so much. I have learned to embrace and enjoy my feminine qualities just as much as my masculine ones. If masculinity is paramount, something that all men must strive for to be considered “real” men, then gay men, by definition, will always be considered lesser than their straight counterparts. We gay men know that there isn’t one definition of what a “real” man is. Hell, we are living proof. So discounting or stifling any feminine characteristics that we may have is a slap in the face of our own culture and an admission to others that there is something to suppress. The gay men who couldn’t help but shoot glitter out of every orifice were the ones who propelled gay rights into the mainstream. As we get closer to becoming fully integrated in the larger society, it is important that we not allow any segment of our own community to suffer in the process.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/tyler-curry/the-strength-in-being-a-feminine-gay-man_b_3896302.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

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Gender as Non-Fiction

From The Atlantic:  http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/09/what-feminists-often-get-wrong-about-gender/279962/

A Q&A with Julia Serano, author of Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive

Sep 25 2013

“My gender is a work of non-fiction,” author, activist, and biologist Julia Serano declares in one of the essays in her new book Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive, out on October 1. That’s in contrast to Judith Butler’s view, popular in feminist and queer theory, that gender is a social construct.

Serano attacks this concept from three perspectives. As a transsexual woman, she says that being a woman isn’t just something she puts on or pretends to be — it’s who she is. As a self-declared femme, she says that feminine gender expression — wearing make-up, or a dress, or crying — is not artificial, but rather natural to her. And as a biologist, she’s saying that gender isn’t performance, or isn’t only performance; it’s not (just) something you play at, but something you are.

Serano’s first book, 2007’s Whipping Girl, talked about the way that feminine gender expression — wearing dresses, or crying, or just being a trans woman, or for that matter being a cissexual woman — is often stigmatized as artificial or fake.  That stigmatization, she argues, occurs not just in the mainstream, but among some feminists, who see being feminine, or being trans, as reinforcing the patriarchy, or shoring up the gender binary. Attacking people for their gender expression in this way, Serano argues in Excluded, is just another kind of sexism. I talked to her about that, and about gender as non-fiction, earlier this week.

Would you call yourself a gender essentialist?

I don’t identify as a gender essentialist. Basically, gender essentialism is the idea that there are innate characteristics which all men share with each other and innate characteristics which all women share with each other.  And it leads to ideas that men are naturally aggressive, or that women are naturally nurturing and so on. And those ideas erase gender diversity. There’s lots of variation among people of different genders and a lot of overlap between the genders.

Gender essentialism comes up a bit in my book because a lot of feminists have historically associated people who talk about biology as automatically being gender essentialists. That’s because usually in mainstream society, people will point to biology to make the case that there are essential differences between the genders. I don’t do that. I actually argue that biology, culture, and environment all come together in an unfathomably complex way to create the gender diversity that we see all around us.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/09/what-feminists-often-get-wrong-about-gender/279962/

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Beauty Pageants and High School Queens: Is it Psychologically Good for Us?

From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-speckhard/beauty-pageants-and-high-_b_3968879.html


Beauty pageants have dominated the news this past week. First the French Senate banned them with for girls under 16, threatening a two-year prison sentence and stiff fines of thirty thousand Euros for organizers — or parents — who enter their children into illegally organized contests. The French bill referenced the spate of advertising already occurring in France with hypersexual images of prepubescent girls showing up in advertising and the potential negative mental health effects to girls of sexualizing them at a young age by requiring them to wear heavy makeup and provocative attire.

In the same week many in the U.S. were surprised to learn that we still hold the Miss America contest and that it was won by an American of Indian heritage. Derogatory comments on twitter erupted about why an Arab and Muslim had won the American contest despite the fact the new Indian descent Miss America was neither Arab nor Muslim and we already had an Arab Miss America two years ago (Rima Fakih). It seems some forget the beauty of the American dream — in myth at least — is its ability to assimilate and offer opportunity to all. Even our beauty contests allow American contestant of any ethnicity or religion to potentially win — despite prejudices held by these few on Twitter.

Next at Marina High School in Huntington, CA elected 16-year-old Cassidy Campbell, a male-to-female transgender who is still in the process of transition, to be its homecoming queen. It turns out that Campbell is not the first transgender girl to win the homecoming queen title. Jessee Vasold, a male-to-female transgender became homecoming queen in 2009 at William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA and a 19-year-old named Devon, also a male-to-female transgender student still undergoing transition was voted her school’s Junior Homecoming Princess. In the last case Devon was elected to the queen’s role without letting on about her status and prior to having sex reassignment surgery.

So what does all this news amount to? Is crowning any girl — a still transitioning or fully transitioned transgender woman, an Arab, a Muslim, or none of these categories — to become a high school or college homecoming queen, or beauty pageant winner a good thing? Is it healthy for any group of females to be submitting themselves to the organized judgment of others — to determine who is most worthy to be crowned among us? And when it comes to younger ages, are the French right that sexualizing young girls in order to place them in beauty contests is detrimental to their psychological health?

The French are perhaps the first to officially recognize that it is not healthy for young girls organized by adults — to try to fit stereotyped gender roles and compete in popularity contest in large or whole part based on sexualized ideals of beauty that have nothing to do with innocence or childhood.

Transgender individuals now entering into homecoming contests may perhaps begin to cause some of us to ask ourselves what is both gender and beauty anyway — and how much of it is culturally defined versus intrinsically known? And why would we want any developing young person under the age of 18 — male or female, transgender or not, to submit themselves to the scrutiny of others to decide if they measure up? For a country that got rid of royalty on its road to independence it seems Americans could also now grasp the wisdom of doing away with the hierarchical idea of beauty queens as well. Can’t we see the beauty in everyone and celebrate without any beauty king or queen being crowned among us?

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-speckhard/beauty-pageants-and-high-_b_3968879.html

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‘The Right Stuff’ doesn’t save NASA from shutting down on its birthday

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One More Thing, says House GOP, No Contraceptives for Women

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/09/29-1

Shutdown assured as Republicans rally in united front to force regressive agenda on nation

Jon Queally

Amid the ongoing budget battle and before the Republican-controlled House of Representatives voted once again to block funding for Obamacare overnight, the House Rules Committee slipped in a new provision to their stopgap proposal that would give U.S. employers permission to “opt out” of providing preventative care to their female employees, including contraceptives.

Despite the futility of the gesture much less the ridiculousness of its context—the House approved the bill, along party lines, knowing full well it will never pass in the Senate and therefore assuring a government shutdown this week—the move was slammed by women advocacy groups and Democratic lawmakers.

“Once again House Republicans have found a way to mount an ideological attack on women’s health as the clock ticks down on a crisis they created,” Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said in a statement Saturday night. “This is part of the right-wing playbook that’s going nowhere in the Senate. The truly unconscionable thing is that Republicans would try to rob women of access to health care while holding our economy hostage.”

According to the Huffington Post, Planned Parenthood’s executive vice president Dawn Laguens called the move “desperate, misguided, and extreme.” 

“The country wants Congress to focus on jobs and the economy, not on pushing an extreme agenda against birth control,” Laguens continued.


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The Deeply Disturbing Ways the Kochs Are Trying to Convince Us We Don’t Want Better Healthcare

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/media/trying-convince-americans-they-shouldnt-want-better-health-care-creepiness-only-kochs-could

Are we going to fall for the PR sham that we shouldn’t let ‘Uncle Sam stick his finger up our butt?’

By Marty Kaplan
September 30, 2013

“You’re not going to let Uncle Sam put his finger up your butt, are you, dude?”

We’re at a bustling town fair, a few weeks from now.  Kids climb on the firetruck. Community groups sell cupcakes and give out flyers.  At the “Enroll America” booth, people are on healthcare.gov signing up for the health insurance marketplace.

But here’s a weird sight: an Uncle Sam character, someone dressed in a Fourth of July costume and a creepy mask (think of the King character in the  Burger King commercials), is waving at fairgoers.

Creepy Uncle Sam doesn’t speak, but he’s accompanied by a normal-looking guy in his 20s who’s trying to pitch to young people in the crowd.

“Hey, how’s it going, bro?”

“Cool, man,” replies a Millennial, not stopping.  “Have a good one.”

The Millennial pauses.  “Actually, I am.”“Say, you’re not headed over to that booth to opt into Obamacare, are you?”

That’s when Creepy Uncle Sam produces a blue latex doctor’s glove and proceeds to put it on, and when the normal-looking guy says, “You’re not going to let Uncle Sam put his finger up your butt, are you, dude?”

Uncle Sam got this gig on Craigslist, where  ads now running seek actors to wear the costume for a weekend in exchange for $275 from Generation Opportunity, which is billionaires David and Charles Koch’s delivery system for this dirty bomb.

In case you haven’t seen the rollout of the Koch brothers’ latest disinformation campaign: Two Creepy Uncle Sam  ads are now running on TV, “The Glove” and “The Exam.”  “The Glove” targets young men.  A twenty-something guy is in an exam room.  The doctor tells him to take his pants off, lie on his side and bend his knees to his chest.  It looks like he’s going to get a prostate exam.  But his doctor leaves, and out of nowhere Uncle Sam pops up by the young guy’s behind and pulls on a latex glove.  The patient is freaked.  I’m freaked.  Every man watching, except for the odd alien abduction fetishist, is involuntarily freaked.

“Don’t let government play doctor,” the ad ends.  “Opt out of Obamacare.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/media/trying-convince-americans-they-shouldnt-want-better-health-care-creepiness-only-kochs-could

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Soaring number of elderly U.S. women live in extreme poverty

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/09/28/soaring-number-of-elderly-u-s-women-live-in-extreme-poverty/

By David Ferguson
Saturday, September 28, 2013

According to the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), the number of elderly U.S. women who live in extreme poverty has spiked abruptly since the previous year. Think Progress reported that a study by the NWLC showed an 18 percent increase in the population of women over 65 who are living on less than $5,500 per year.

According to the study, in 2012, 135,000 more elder women were living in extreme poverty than in 2011, raising the national number to 733,000. Alan Pyke at Think Progress wrote, “Put another way, there are more elderly women living on $15 per day than there are residents of Detroit, Michigan.”

Study author Kate Gallagher Robbins of NWLC told NBC News, ““The cause has to be something that hits elderly individuals particularly hard. We also know that poverty for elderly men and women was statistically unchanged so we are talking about a group of individuals who went from being poor to extremely poor.”

Possible causes include the decline of the private pension system, and Gallagher said, “One factor might becuts in recent years to Social Security Administration funding which may be making applications for [Supplemental Security Income] more difficult.”

Pike wrote, “Women are more economically vulnerable than men at all life stages. They are less likely to live in economically secure households and experience higher overall poverty rates. They are paid less than men starting from the very beginning of their careers, no matter how qualified they are or how high up the job responsibility ladder they rise. The share of job gains in the recovery from low-wage occupations was three times as high for women (60 percent) as for men (20 percent). Women are two-thirds of the entire minimum wage workforce.”

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Conservatives push secret deal to cut California pensions

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/09/28/conservatives_working_on_secret_deal_to_cut_pensions_for_californians_partner/

If enacted, the proposed law would allow public employers to cut retirement benefits for those currently on the job

Saturday, Sep 28, 2013

This article originally appeared on Frying Pan News.

In a move to slash the retirement benefits of public employees in California, a group of mostly conservative policy advocates has been working behind the scenes on a possible 2014 ballot initiative. A copy of the still-secret draft initiative, which could dramatically impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of Californians and send a signal nationwide, has been obtained by Frying Pan News. (See the document’s text following this article or click here.)

If enacted, the proposed law would allow the state and local governments to cut back retirement benefits for current employees for the years of work they perform after the changes go into effect. Previous efforts to curb retirement benefits for public employees have largely focused on newly hired workers, but the initiative would shrink pensions for workers who are currently on the job.

“This initiative defines that a government employee’s ‘vested rights’ only applies to pension and retiree healthcare benefits earned for service already rendered, and explicitly empowers government employers and the voters to amend pension and retiree healthcare benefits for an employee’s future years of service,” the private draft states.

In other words, current state and municipal workers’ retirement benefits will only be partially guaranteed by the number of years they have already worked; from the time the initiative becomes law, the accrual of those benefits will be drastically curtailed.

One of the rationales provided by the draft ballot to justify its unprecedented reach into the lives of public employees is the ongoing funding shortfalls that California and many of its cities find themselves confronting. But, while pledging to help the state “maintain retirement plans that are sustainable, fiscally sound and able to meet the commitments to its employees,” the draft also claims its reduction of pension benefits is being carried out “[i]n order to protect the government’s ability to provide essential services to the public.”

The draft initiative is being circulated by San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, who successfully pushed a pension-busting ballot initiative in his city’s 2012 election. That law, like a similar one passed the same year in San Diego, is currently being challenged in court. Reed, according to several sources, has been circulating the draft among other mayors, public officials and others in California who believe that public employee pensions should be scaled back.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/09/28/conservatives_working_on_secret_deal_to_cut_pensions_for_californians_partner/

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Employee or Independent Contractor? Employer Fraud Costs Workers

From Labor Notes:  http://www.labornotes.org/2013/09/employee-or-independent-contractor-employer-fraud-costs-workers

Chris Wagner
September 30, 2013

Misclassification of employees as independent contractors is a serious problem in the Texas construction industry—so serious that my local decided to do an undercover investigation, using covert workers to infiltrate job sites.

The conditions they found were severe.

“The workers sometimes wouldn’t even get paid that week. They were scared to report the violations to anyone. They feared their boss and the government due to deportation,” said Philip Lawhon, assistant business manager/organizer for Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 520.

“One of our members said that it reminded him of working in Mexico. He said, ‘I came to America to get away from these types of issues.’”

More than 40 percent of construction employees are misclassified as independent contractors, according to the Build a Better Texas report, released earlier this year by the Workers Defense Project.

It’s a problem for the workers who get misclassified: many labor laws do not cover them, exposing them to abuse. It’s a problem for legitimate employers, who are undercut by the unscrupulous ones.

And it’s a problem for all Texas residents, as cities and the state lose out on tax revenue, and social safety nets—already stretched thin—are forced to help out the cheated workers.

As business manager of Local 520, I instructed my organizing department to investigate these illegal employment practices and to act on their findings.

Going Undercover

Twelve high-rise projects, 17 to 50 stories, in and around downtown Austin are in some stage of construction, from planning to near completion. My organizers found that, of the eight that have started construction, six are using electrical contractors that misclassify their employees as independent contractors.

Continue reading at:  http://www.labornotes.org/2013/09/employee-or-independent-contractor-employer-fraud-costs-workers

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How the Unions support climate change & ObamaCare

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Energy Reform, Shale Gas and Public Spending Cuts in Mexico

From Truth Out:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/19078-energy-reform-shale-gas-and-public-spending-cuts-in-mexico

By Santiago Navarro F
Tuesday, 01 October 2013

“Peak oil is not the same as running out of oil. What it means is simply reaching the ceiling, and then starting a terminal decline in oil production as determined by basic geological and technological factors.”

– Bellamy Foster 2011

Recently the president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, introduced an energy reform bill that would modify existing legislation to allow greater public and private investment in the energy sector. This would enable the exploitation of more complex oil deposits, including unconventional oil. The inspiration for the bill comes in part from the 9,100 drilling permits that the US has granted to 170 oil companies for oil and shale exploitation, in contrast to the three deposits that have been opened to exploitation in Mexico.

With 680 trillion cubic feet, Mexico ranks fourth in the world – after China, the United States and Argentina – in shale gas reserves, according to estimates by the US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Agency. These are resources that must be exploited, according to the reform measure.

Shale gas is extracted from soft sedimentary rocks formed by deposits of mud, silt, clay and organic matter. The two techniques used for extraction of this gas are hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and horizontal drilling. These techniques have caused great alarm because of the environmental hazards associated with each process’ dependence on the use of millions of cubic feet of water and potentially harmful chemicals. An investigation conducted by the Tyndall Centre argues that the processes not only affect underground and surface aquifers but also human health. For example, 17 of the chemicals used in the extraction of shale gas have been classified as toxic to aquatic organisms, 38 as acutely toxic and eight as carcinogens. An additional six are suspected of being carcinogenic, seven are mutagenic and five have reproductive side effects.

For some time, the United States has been concerned about reaching “peak oil” with regard to conventional oil production. For political and economic reasons, the United States has exaggerated its reserves, since an admission of the real amount would mean a worsening of the economic crisis that has permeated the global capitalist system. With only 4 percent of the world population, the US consumes 25 percent of global energy output. Two-thirds of the oil consumed is in the form of gasoline and diesel fuel for cars and trucks. Therefore, the peak of conventional oil production could cause a catastrophic collapse of the United States’ economy if it doesn’t have access to sufficient hydrocarbon energy to allow for time to convert its vehicle fleet and alter production chains.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/19078-energy-reform-shale-gas-and-public-spending-cuts-in-mexico

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Meatless Monday: Eating to Save the World

One thing vegetarians forget is that farm animals produce the organic fertilizer that helps plants grow organically.  Perhaps vegetarians should read the Omnivore Dilemma.

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ellen-kanner/meatless-monday-eating-to_1_b_3990720.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009


Tomorrow is World Vegetarian Day, kicking off a whole month of meatless joy and awareness. Just in time, too, because honey, people need some of both. As a lead-up to World Vegetarian Day, I spoke to two different groups about my favorite subject — eating to save the world.

That sounds like a tall order. Can what we eat end sickness, war, global hunger or environmental catastrophe, basically your Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? I believe it’s possible. As I say in my book, “Feeding the Hungry Ghost,” change your diet, then change your life, then change the world. Any move towards a greener diet results in a stronger, healthier you and a stronger, healthier planet.

A diet of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans, nuts and seeds results in longer, healthier lives, according to a June JAMA study. Stanford University finds a produce-driven diet helps the planet live better, too. Growing produce generates less carbon emissions and uses less water than raising livestock and takes less of an environmental toll. Livestock production is also one of our greatest causes of deforestation, which is making for a hotter, less sustainable planet. And a new University of Minnesota study finds if we switch farmland dedicated to livestock production and livestock feed to food for us, we’d have a recipe to end global hunger.

The possibilities are so amazing, I get revved when I do these presentations — and I’m not a big talker by nature. I am, however, a very, very good listener. The best part for me comes after my presentation, when I can hear what’s going on with people in the audience. What they tell me is they’re overwhelmed — food allergies, environmental concerns, a kid who only eats chicken nuggets, no time. I try to offer people some real concrete takeaway, including my number one multitasking tool — eat less processed, more produce. I show how to add greens to your favorite foods, the ones you already turn to for comfort. I provide plant-based incentive by make something vegan to sample — free eats that taste good and do both you and the planet great good, too.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ellen-kanner/meatless-monday-eating-to_1_b_3990720.html?ncid=edlinkusaolp00000009

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Anti-vaccine parents caused California’s lethal whooping cough epidemic

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/01/anti-vaccine-parents-caused-californias-lethal-whooping-cough-epidemic/

By David Ferguson
Tuesday, October 1, 2013

California health officials are laying the blame for the state’s lethal 2010 outbreak of pertussis — also known as whooping cough — squarely at the feet of parents who refused to vaccinate their children as part of a bogus autism scare. According to NBC News, the outbreak, which killed 10 infants and sickened more than 9,000 others, was the worst the state has seen in 60 years.

A study released Monday in the medical journal Pediatrics analyzed the outbreak pattern and tracked the number of children whose parents filed for “non-medical exemptions” from the state’s vaccination program. Non-medical exemptions are given to families whose children are well enough to tolerate the vaccine, but who refuse to administer it to them anyway for religious or other reasons.

The California Department of Health identified 39 statistically significant geographic clusters of families seeking non-medical exemptions and two major zones of whooping cough cases. According to the data, non-medical exemption families were 2.5 times more likely to also live in an outbreak zone.

According to the study abstract, “The association remained significant after adjustment for demographic factors. Non-medical exemptions clustered spatially and were associated with clusters of pertussis cases.”

Historically, pertussis was a leading cause of infant mortality, killing thousands of children each year in the U.S. alone before the invention and implementation of vaccine programs. A bacterial infection caused by the microorganism Bordetella pertussis, whooping cough got its colloquial name from the high-pitched “whoop” sound infants make as they gasp for breath between violent bouts of coughing.

Pertussis is particularly deadly to newborns, in whom the constant coughing can cause pneumonia, brain injury, failure to thrive and death. The disease organism possesses an ability to suppress the body’s immune response, allowing it to rampage through the body unchecked. Children and adults with pre-existing immunological issues are more vulnerable to the disease than individuals with functional immune systems.

Families refuse to vaccinate their children for various reasons, but in 1998, British physician Andrew Wakefield published a now-roundly discredited study linking the Measles Mumps Rubella vaccine (MMR) with the onset of autism. Wakefield’s fraudulent research caused him to be banned from practicing medicine in the U.K. after being found guilty of “serious professional misconduct.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/01/anti-vaccine-parents-caused-californias-lethal-whooping-cough-epidemic/

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