Friday Night Fun and Culture: Diana Krall

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National Coming Out Day

Fuck it…

Yet another great idea that was fresh 45 years ago, but has become a meaningless ritual for many of us.

Why? Seriously why? It is like identity politics which have turned into a way for people to pretend they are doing something meaningful while getting paid to do activism.

If people can’t figure out that I’m a lesbian it is their problem.

As for transsexualism? I had an operation for that one a long, long time ago.  It worked.  I’m cured.  I haven’t had any desire to change my sex since.

Most of the gender stuff seems like academic wankery or some form of arcane religion.

I’m an old woman. Go away, leave me alone. I have more important things to worry about like survival and avoiding homelessness in my remaining years now that the powers that be have decided I know too much for their games.

Way back when, some forty years ago the struggle was to have the same rights, including the right to be ordinary and not have to constantly explain our existence.

Some things seem better left to the young.

I find very little to be part of in the LGBT Communities.  I’m married so finding someone for sex isn’t something I do.

The musicians I like are more likely to be found in a predominantly straight venue.

I avoid lesbian gatherings because of the negative history.

So…  National Coming Out Day… Meh.. Been there, Done that, no longer think it necessary.

Health Insurance Exchanges Might Not Be Accessible to Trans@ People

From Huffington Post:


As the largest-ever health insurance expansion rolls out, the promise of finally getting health care will be a boon for many — but not necessarily for trans@ people.

Last month the White House brought in LGBT community leaders from many states to a banner event helping us all understand the big insurance expansion on the horizon (see the video here) and the launch of the great new Out2Enroll LGBT portal. As of Oct. 1 enrollment began, and on Jan. 1 millions more Americans are expected to have health insurance. Importantly, all the newly insured will have access to preventative medicine. An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure in health, and, ultimately, that translates to dollars saved from the national health budget and years of good health saved for individuals.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius was clear that with one in three low-income LGBT Americans living without health insurance, this is a huge opportunity to stabilize the health of our communities. Plus, with expansions in regulations, insurance providers can no longer discriminate against people for being LGBT, charge higher premiums for this status, or deny coverage because of preexisting conditions like HIV or being trans@. This alone could really affect the many trans@ folk like me who’ve spent years hiding their trans@ status from health insurers to make sure we don’t get denied routine coverage. Those fears are not an exaggeration. A few years ago, when my doctor helpfully changed my sex from female to male on their records, my insurer reacted by denying 100 percent of benefits until we finally caved and pretended it was a mistake.

Secretary Sebelius went even further, announcing that HHS has strengthened the civil rights clause of the Affordable Care Act. The prohibition on sex discrimination now includes sex stereotyping (think LGB) and gender identity. Plus, Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh ran down the list of everything that HHS is doing to collect trans@ data now, reassuring us that they were being responsive to community calls for trans@ data collection. That is certainly desperately needed, because we can’t fix problems we can’t see, and data collection is how we see problems in the public health world.

Then the news turned grim. In one example of how data collection helps us see problems, the Center for American Progress commissioned research on the messaging about how and why LGBT people should enroll in the new insurance offerings. The findings showed that the existing messaging works for most LGB people, but not for trans@ people. The researcher was blunt: The trans@ focus groups were some of the saddest she had ever run. The participants had such a profound history of discrimination that they had developed extreme wariness of any representative of the health care system. Plus, trans@ people needed to have very specific questions answered: Will the policy cover hormones, have friendly providers, or cover gender confirmation surgeries? But people had no confidence that insurance navigators could answer these questions, and, worse, no confidence that they’d even be treated decently once they disclosed they were trans@. Again, these fears are not without exaggeration either; the evidence from the most recent assessment of trans@ needs showed that nearly one fifth of respondents had not just been discriminated against by health providers but outright turned away from care for being trans@. So, while the new protections are wonderful, saying them in Washington doesn’t mean my people can trust that they will be in effect all around the country.

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Single-Payer Prescription for What Ails Obamacare

From Truth Dig:

by Amy Goodman

“We apologize for the inconvenience. The Marketplace is currently undergoing regularly scheduled maintenance and will be back up Monday 10/7/3013.” You read it right, 3013. That was the message on the homepage of the New York state health insurance exchange website this past weekend.

Yes, the Affordable Care Act (ACA), popularly known as Obamacare, is going through difficult birth pains, as the marketplace websites went live only to crash. The government is not giving out numbers, but informed observers speculate that very few people have succeeded in signing up for any of the plans so far.

The ACA rollout occurred as Republicans shut down the government in their attempt to defund Obamacare. But their strategy backfired. Had there been no shutdown, all of the attention would have been on the disastrous rollout. The fundamental issue, at the core of the health-care dispute, is typically ignored and goes unreported: The for-profit health-insurance industry in the United States is profoundly inefficient and costly, and a sane and sustainable alternative exists—single-payer, otherwise known as expanded and improved Medicare for all. Just change the age of eligibility from 65 to zero.

“When Medicare was rolled out in 1966, it was rolled out in six months using index cards,” Dr. Steffie Woolhandler told me Monday. “So if you have a simple system, you do not have to have all this expense and all this complexity and work.” Woolhandler is professor of public health at CUNY-Hunter College and a primary-care physician. She is a visiting professor at Harvard Medical School and the co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program, or PNHP. PNHP is an organization with 17,000 physicians as members, advocating for a single-payer health-care system in the U.S.

What is single-payer? Critics denounce it as “socialized medicine,” while ignoring that single-payer is already immensely popular in the U.S., as Medicare. A 2011 Harris poll found that Medicare enjoyed 88 percent support from American adults, followed closely by Social Security. Woolhandler explained that with a Medicare-for-all system, “you would get a card the day you’re born, and you’d keep it your entire life. It would entitle you to medical care, all needed medical care, without co-payments, without deductibles. And because it’s such a simple system, like Social Security, there would be very low administrative expenses. We would save about $400 billion [per year].” Dr. Woolhandler went on, rather than “thousands of different plans, tons of different co-payments, deductibles and restrictions—one single-payer plan, which is what we need for all Americans to give the Americans really the choice they want … not the choice between insurance company A or insurance company B. They want the choice of any doctor or hospital, like you get with traditional Medicare.”

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Madonna: I was raped at knifepoint

From The Guardian UK:

Singer writes of how she was held up at gunpoint, raped on a rooftop and burgled three times in first year in New York, Saturday 5 October 2013

Madonna has detailed how she was raped not long after she moved to New York City at the age of 19, in a revealing account of her life to date.

In an article for Harper’s Bazaar magazine, the singer said she was forced on to the roof of a building at knifepoint and attacked. The first-person account, which accompanied a fashion shoot, spans Madonna’s life from growing up in the US midwest and moving away from home, to her marriages and children.

“New York wasn’t everything I thought it would be. It did not welcome me with open arms. The first year, I was held up at gunpoint. Raped on the roof of a building I was dragged up to with a knife in my back, and had my apartment broken into three times. I don’t know why; I had nothing of value after they took my radio the first time,” she wrote.

Madonna says her breath was taken away by the size and scale of the city, and she was “scared shitless and freaked out by the smell of piss and vomit everywhere”.

“Trying to be a professional dancer, paying my rent by posing nude for art classes, staring at people staring at me naked. Daring them to think of me as anything but a form they were trying to capture with their pencils and charcoal. I was defiant. Hell-bent on surviving. On making it. But it was hard and it was lonely, and I had to dare myself every day to keep going,” she said.

The move to England, following her marriage to the film director Guy Ritchie, “wasn’t easy for me”.

“Just because we speak the same language doesn’t mean we speak the same language. I didn’t understand that there was still a class system. I didn’t understand pub culture. I didn’t understand that being openly ambitious was frowned upon. Once again I felt alone. But I stuck it out and I found my way, and I grew to love English wit, Georgian architecture, sticky toffee pudding, and the English countryside. There is nothing more beautiful than the English countryside.”

Madonna described the decision to adopt her son David from Malawi as “another daring chapter” in her life and one which threw her back into “another shit storm”.

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Bible scholar claims Christianity invented as part of ancient Roman psy-ops campaign

From Raw Story:

By Travis Gettys
Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Christian faith is the result of the most successful psy-ops program in history, according to a self-professed American Bible scholar.

Joseph Atwill will present his controversial theory Oct. 19 in London that the New Testament was written by first-century Roman aristocrats as part of a sophisticated government project to help pacify Jews in occupied territories.

Atwill, author of “Caesar’s Messiah,” claims he’s found ancient confessions by the scriptures’ authors that they invented Jesus Christ and his story as basically a form of propaganda.

“Jewish sects in Palestine at the time, who were waiting for a prophesied warrior Messiah, were a constant source of violent insurrection during the first century,” Atwill said. “When the Romans had exhausted conventional means of quashing rebellion, they switched to psychological warfare. They surmised that the way to stop the spread of zealous Jewish missionary activity was to create a competing belief system. That’s when the ‘peaceful’ Messiah story was invented. Instead of inspiring warfare, this Messiah urged turn-the-other-cheek pacifism and encouraged Jews to ‘give onto Caesar’ and pay their taxes to Rome.”

He says that Jesus was not based on an actual historical figure, but Atwill argues that the events of his life were overlaid on top of actual events from the First Jewish-Roman War, waged by Emperor Titus Flavius in Palestinian territories.

“The biography of Jesus is actually constructed, tip to stern, on prior stories, but especially on the biography of a Roman Caesar,” he says.

Atwill said he understands that his theory is bound to upset Christians, and he’s hoping skeptics will come to challenge him after his lecture as part of a symposium, “Covert Messiah,” along with Kenneth Humphreys, author of “Jesus Never Existed.”

Complete article at:

See Also:

PR Web:

Ancient Confession Found: ‘We Invented Jesus Christ’

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How the FBI Manipulates Grand Juries to Intimidate Political Dissidents and Radicals

From Alternet:

Grand juries have seen a resurgence as the FBI cracks down on radical communities.

By Anna Simonton
October 9, 2013

From the narrow windows of New York’s Metropolitan Correctional Center, 24-year-old anarchist Jerry Koch can see the last place he stood as a free person.

The federal courthouse at 500 Pearl Street is a familiar setting where Koch spent much of his time over the past several years providing legal support to New York activists. During Occupy Wall Street, Koch gained a reputation as the go-to person for help contacting lawyers, raising bail, and organizing supporters to be there when someone had a hearing or was released. This, his supporters say, is why he now has a view of the courthouse from his cell in the federal prison across the street.

Koch’s partner, Amanda Clarke, will tell you that all prisoners are political prisoners. Koch, however, fits a more traditional definition of the term. He has not been charged with or convicted of any crime. Legally, his incarceration is not considered punishment, but rather “coercion.” He is being held in contempt of court for refusing to testify before a grand jury in what many believe is an effort by the FBI to intimidate other anarchists, and anyone else engaged in political dissent.

Grand juries have been a tool in the FBI’s arsenal of intimidation and information-gathering tactics for decades. They were a hallmark of the Red Scare, COINTELPRO, and more recently the Green Scare, in which animal rights activists and environmentalists have been branded “eco-terrorists” by law enforcement.

Over the past year grand juries have seen a resurgence as the FBI has cracked down on radical communities. Koch’s case was preceded by a high-profile grand jury in the Pacific Northwest, where four people from Washington and Oregon were imprisoned for refusing to testify.

Will Potter, author of Green Is the New Red, a historical survey of the Green Scare, says there are parallels between these recent grand juries and past FBI interference in social movements. But these cases also mark what he views as a change in tactics on the part of law enforcement.

“When we’re seeing things like the grand juries in the Northwest, or Jerry’s case in New York, we have to remember that the FBI is giving training presentations to new agents identifying anarchists as ‘criminals in search of an ideology,’” Potter warns. “What we’re seeing is a criminalization of an entire belief system.”

Potter says that historically grand juries have indicted prominent figures such as Craig Rosebraugh, spokesperson for the Earth Liberation Front. However, in recent years federal law enforcement agencies have targeted people who may not have direct affiliations to organizations under scrutiny, but are believed to be of the same political persuasion.

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Wake Up! Private Prisons are a Scam

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The L.A. Times won’t publish letters from climate deniers

From Salon:

The paper distinguishes between opinions and factual inaccuracies

Wednesday, Oct 9, 2013

After conservative news outlets attacked it for refusing to publish letters from climate deniers, the Los Angeles Times has been forced to give its readers a refresher on the difference between “fact” and “opinion.”

The controversy began over the weekend, when the conservative blog NewsBusters “exposed” the Times for its supposed anti-climate denier bias. “It’s one thing for a news outlet to advance the as yet unproven theory of anthropogenic global warming,” wrote blogger Noel Sheppard, “it’s quite another to admit that you won’t publish views that oppose it.”

The statement of policy was in fact no more than a parenthetical aside in an Op-Ed about the congressional debate over Obamacare. The unsigned editorial read:

Simply put, this objection to the president’s healthcare law is based on a falsehood, and letters that have an untrue basis (for example, ones that say there’s no sign humans have caused climate change) do not get printed.

Yesterday, Paul Thorton, the Times’ letters editor, posted a longer explanation in response to the attacks:

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USDA’s Failure to Stop Contaminated Chicken Goes Far Beyond the Government Shutdown

From Food and Water Watch

By Tony Corbo
October 9th, 2013

Over the couple days, several media outlets have reported that the salmonella outbreak that has sickened nearly 300 people in 17 states has become a symbol of the government shutdown or its “worst-case scenario realized.” And while the shutdown has absolutely made things worse (I’ll get to how later), it’s important to realize that this crisis has been brewing for months and its origins go much deeper than this latest episode of House Republicans holding our economy hostage.

At 6:38 p.m. on October 7, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued a “public health alert” announcing that some 278 consumers were sickened eating poultry products that were processed at three different California plants operated by Foster Farms. What makes this foodborne illness outbreak even more troubling is that 42 percent of the consumers got sick enough to be hospitalized – that’s double the normal rate. The pathogen that is causing these illnesses is Salmonella Heidelberg. In the current outbreak, some strains of Salmonella Heidelberg were found to be antibiotic resistant – that is, when physicians tried to treat their patients with antibiotics, the medication did not work.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has been leading the investigation into this outbreak and it reported yesterday that the first reported illness associated with this outbreak occurred in March but it took over seven months to figure out that it was poultry from these three Foster Farm facilities that caused the illnesses. Unfortunately, CDC’s investigation was interrupted by the Federal Government shutdown on October 1 when most of their foodborne illness analysts were furloughed. Some of them have been called back to work as a result of the action taken by FSIS on October 7 in order to resume their investigation.

Despite the quantity and severity of these illnesses and FSIS fingering these three Foster Farms plants as the culprits for putting this contaminated chicken into commerce, no recalls have been issued of any products from these plants that might still be in grocery stores or in people’s homes. Why? FSIS claims that it still does not know the specific products implicated in the outbreak.

There a bigger issue at play here. Unlike E.coli 0157:H7 in beef, no strain of salmonella is considered to be an adulterant in poultry. Poultry processors can put products into commerce that have salmonella contamination on them and FSIS does not the legal authority to stop them until people get sick. Spokespersons for Foster Farms have argued in recent press statements that it was the consumers’ fault that they got sick because they did not cook the chicken thoroughly. Nice try, but there is something drastically wrong going on at Foster Farms that is putting consumers at great risk.

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Monsanto, Rural Debt and the Suicide Epidemic in India

From Truth Out:

By Belén Fernandez
Thursday, 10 October 2013

Since 1976, Project Censored has been identifying articles and topics ignored or inadequately covered by the mainstream corporate press. This October, it just released its latest edition of the top 25 stories that merit more public attention in Censored 2014.

In fact, Truthout’s Mike Ludwig was one of the winners for his article, “Millions Go Hungry as Congress Considers Food Stamp Cuts and Drought Threatens Crops.”

Another journalist recognized by Project Censored is Belén Fernandez, whose book The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work was selected as a Truthout Progressive Pick of the Week.

The following is Belén Fernandez’s Censored 2014 winning article: 

Dirty White Gold: Monsanto’s Claim That It’s a “Sustainable Agriculture Company” Doesn’t Hold Water

The website of US-based biotech giant Monsanto boasts that the corporation qualifies as “a sustainable agriculture company.”

Given Monsanto’s legacy as a producer of the lethal defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, Southeast Asian agriculture would presumably beg to differ with this characterization.

Sustainability is also not the first word that comes to mind when contemplating Monsanto’s policy of sowing the earth with genetically modified seeds that destroy soil and are designed with nonrenewable traits so as to require constant repurchase as well as acquisition of a variety of other company products like fertilizers and pesticides.

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20,000 barrels of crude oil spilled in North Dakota

From Salon:

The state experiences its first major consequence of being a big-time oil produer

Thursday, Oct 10, 2013

Welcome to the big leagues, North Dakota.

In the biggest spill since the state became a major oil producer second only to Texas, an estimated 20,600 barrels of crude oil leaked from a pipeline into a remote field.

The pipeline, a Tesoro Logistics LP operation, was carrying oil from the Bakken shale play, Reuters reports. A local resident first noticed the leak on September 29; the amount spilled since places the disaster among the country’s biggest in recent years.

According to the state Department of Health, groundwater sources are not immediately threatened, and fortunately, there are no lakes, streams or rivers within five miles of the spill zone. What caused the spill, as well as how long it lasted, remains unknown, but Tesoro says that the affected portion of pipeline has been shut down.

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