Police mum on Denton trans murder

From The Dallas Voice:  http://www.dallasvoice.com/police-mum-denton-trans-murder-10159252.html

Lack of answers by investigators,  attention by community sparks national upset surrounding the death of Artegus Konyale Madden

ANNA WAUGHOctober 11, 2013

SAVANNAH, Denton County — Investigators with the Denton County Sheriff’s Office have few answers about the death of transgender woman Artegus Konyale Madden.

Madden, 34, was found dead in her home on Hayden Lane in Savannah Estates by friends on Sept. 1. Savannah is a small town east of Denton.

Madden’s death was ruled a homicide by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office, which covers Denton County. She was killed in her living room with the cause of death a gunshot wound to the neck.

Investigators are not releasing much information surrounding the incident. No motive or suspect information has been made public. The lead investigator on the case has not returned numerous calls over several weeks.

Denton County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Sandi Brackeen said she didn’t know if the case was a hate crime. She said officials are not releasing any information about the case because it is still under investigation.

While Texas’ hate crime enhancement law only includes “sexual preference,” not gender identity, law enforcement agencies are required to report bias-motivated crimes to the FBI.

Madden grew up in Longview and attended the University of Texas at Arlington, according to her obituary. She attended services at the Potter’s House of Dallas regularly.

The Rev. Carmarion Anderson, who is also trans, said she met Madden about 10 years ago through a mutual family member. She said she had a passion for living free and was a spiritual person, often saying that “living her ‘truth’ was the appropriate way to display the Love of Christ provided to humanity.”

Madden’s death was heartbreaking for Anderson, who said she was even more upset by the way her death has been handled by authorities.

Continue reading at:  http://www.dallasvoice.com/police-mum-denton-trans-murder-10159252.html

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Op-ed: Don’t Let My Son Lose His Right to a Fair Education

From The Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2013/10/14/op-ed-dont-let-my-son-lose-his-right-fair-education

A groundbreaking law to protect transgender students in schools is already under attack.

BY Catherine Lee
October 14 2013

No parent ever wants his or her children to be mistreated or hurt by anyone, especially by those who want to block their opportunities and success.

But over the last few years, I’ve often felt powerless in my struggle to help my son navigate through a system that hasn’t always been fully supportive of who he is — an ambitious, extremely bright, friendly, and outgoing young transgender man.

When I learned that California governor Jerry Brown signed the School Success and Opportunity Act into law August 12, I was overwhelmed. For the first time, my 16-year-old Ashton will be able to fully participate in his Manteca, Calif., high school under the new law that ensures that school administrators know their requirements to treat all students equally.

The new law ensures that my son and others like him have a fair opportunity to succeed in school and to participate in all school-sponsored programs and activities on an equal basis with other students. A similar policy has been working successfully for years in the Los Angeles Unified School District, where district leaders have seen students excel when they can participate in school as themselves without fear of shame and stigma. This law means so much to me and other parents of transgender students, and it will make our children’s lives and future prospects so much safer and brighter.

Sadly, however, almost immediately after Governor Brown signed this important new law, it came under a vicious attack from an extreme fringe group that has repeatedly opposed legal protections for LGBT people and families, and women, in the past. This organization, the Capitol Resource Institute, has a documented record of purposefully spreading misinformation to the public. Now the group is at it again, spreading lies and misinformation about the new law and launching a horrific campaign to demonize transgender children. This is despicable. As the parent of a transgender child, I feel a deep responsibility to speak out against these appalling and hateful tactics.

In addition to propagating hatred against a group of vulnerable children, the institute is also violating the law . My son and I recently filed a complaint with the California attorney general’s office after learning that the institute is soliciting donations as a tax-exempt organization even though the IRS revoked its tax-exempt status months ago for failing to submit proper financial information for three years.

Continue reading at:  http://www.advocate.com/commentary/2013/10/14/op-ed-dont-let-my-son-lose-his-right-fair-education

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The Coming Storm: ‘Controversial’ Transgender Stories

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/parker-marie-molloy/the-coming-storm-controversial-transgender-stories_b_4023664.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices


In the coming year, as A.B. 1266 goes into effect in California, be prepared to read a lot of stories like this: “Local Transgender Student Provokes Mixed Reactions.” Leanne Suter of KABC-TV Los Angeles writes about the “controversy” surrounding news that a transgender elementary school student in Glendale, Calif., would begin attending school presenting as a girl. The story goes on to talk about how one parent, Rochelle Mazel, opted to keep her kids home from school on Monday, “afraid the situation at school could be too chaotic or confusing for her children.” She later states that she wishes the school had provided a psychologist for the benefit of the other students. Another parent, Natalia Selway, is quoted as saying, “[I]t would be a lot of questions that would be hard to answer, and I would prefer not to deal with this.”

These parents don’t seem to realize that the reason that children go to school is to gain an education. “Too confusing” and “hard to answer”? Maybe. But Selway’s quotation, “I would prefer not to deal with this,” is a summation of the attitudes of the ignorant. A core component of being a parent is the ability to answer the tough questions, to enlighten your children instead of leaving them in the dark, but Selway and Mazel are choosing to shield their children from developing a healthy worldview, condemning them to remaining just as much in the dark as their parents are. I feel sorry for these children.

Of course, other parents voiced their concerns over which bathroom the transgender student would be using. It always comes back to the bathroom somehow, doesn’t it?

This is a prime example of why legislation like California’s A.B. 1266 is so important. It takes so much bravery on the part of this young trans student to do what she’s doing. We need steps in place to prevent parents of cisgender children from throwing trans students under the bus, and from trying to change school policy through pulling their own students from the classroom.

Obviously, the goal of such pseudo-protests is to gin up faux damage allegations, claiming that the only way to protect their own children would be to pull them from school, denying them an education. In the minds of these parents, it’s not their own fault for pulling their child from school; it’s the fault of transgender student.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/parker-marie-molloy/the-coming-storm-controversial-transgender-stories_b_4023664.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

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For young people, transgender life means stress and confusion over restrooms, sports and harassment

From The ABA Journal:  http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/a_gender_change_at_a_tender_age/

By Stephanie Francis Ward
Oct 1, 2013

Coy Mathis, 7, was born male. But as a toddler Coy chose items traditionally associated with girls, like tutus and swimsuits featuring the cartoon character Dora the Explorer.

When Coy started to talk, the child said she saw herself as a girl. Kathryn and Jeremy Mathis enrolled their child in kindergarten as a male, but by November Coy became depressed when people referred to her as a boy. It interfered with the child’s learning, according to an administrative ruling.

“Not even my teacher knows I’m a girl,” Coy reportedly told her parents after an educator at a Fountain, Colo., school made the child join the boys’ line in music class. A therapist diagnosed Coy with gender dysphoria, the clinical term for those who are discontent with their birth sex.

Even children as young as Coy may know they are transgender, says Coy’s lawyer, Michael D. Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund.

“It’s body image,” says Silverman of New York City. “They know, and often will ask the question: ‘Why does my body look like this—and not like that?’”

Coy’s parents decided that their child should be treated as a girl everywhere, including school. Initially, the school was “really fantastic” about supporting the Mathis family’s decision, Coy’s parents said in a February civil rights filing with the Colorado Civil Rights Division.

But that changed in first grade, when the Fountain-Fort Carson School District (near Colorado Springs) and its lawyer decided that Coy could no longer use the girls’ restroom, according to the family’s filing. Instead, the district decided Coy should use the boys’ restroom or single-user restrooms in the health office and the faculty area.

The district’s reasoning, the filing states, was the concern that as Coy got older other students might be uncomfortable sharing the girls’ restroom with a person who was born male. Also, the agency thought that banning Coy from the girls’ restroom would lessen chances of harassment or bullying.

The Civil Rights Division filing alleges that the school district discriminated against Coy based on the child’s female sex and transgender sexual orientation. And the filing notes that the government recognizes the child’s sex as female on her U.S. passport and state-issued ID. For both, letters from her doctor were required, with him stating that based on his care of Coy, his medical opinion is that her gender is female.

Continue reading at:  http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/a_gender_change_at_a_tender_age/

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NEWSNIGHT: Glenn Greenwald full interview on Snowden, NSA, GCHQ and spying

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AP: Another Historically Low Increase to Social Security on Its Way

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/10/14-2

Andrea Germanos

Next year’s benefit increase for Social Security recipients is projected to be one of the smallest increases ever, according to a new analysis by the Associated Press.

The AP projects that the cost of living adjustment (COLA) for the 58 million Americans who rely on Social Security will raise just 1.5 percent, meaning a $17-monthly increase. That would mark the second year in a row of “one of the lowest raises since automatic adjustments were adopted in 1975.”

“This [COLA] is not enough to keep up with inflation, as it affects seniors,” the Washington Post quotes Max Richtman, who heads the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, as saying. “There are some things that become cheaper but they are not things that seniors buy. Laptop computers have gone down dramatically, but how many people at 70 are buying laptop computers?”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) also raised concern over the small increase in a time of increasing senior poverty, and reiterated his warning that the push championed by some Republicans and Democrats to switch the way adjustments are calculated by using a “chained CPI” would bring a further attack to Social Security recipients.

As professor of economics John Miller explained:

The Social Security Administration currently uses the CPI–W, a measure of the price of a basket of goods and services typically purchased by urban wage-earners and clerical workers, to calculate COLAs for Social Security recipients. The “chained CPI-U,” as it is officially designated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), grows at a slower rate than the CPI-W. Therefore, calculating the COLAs using the chained CPI will reduce future Social Security benefits by more and more each year.

“I find it incomprehensible that any serious person would believe that a 1.5 percent COLA is too generous and would want to enact a chained CPI which would make these COLAs even lower,” Sanders said in a statement.

“This is an attack not only on seniors but on disabled veterans and other people with disabilities. It cannot be allowed to succeed,” he added.


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The Far-Right Christian Movement Driving the Debt Default

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah-caldwell/christian-dominionism-debt-default-_b_4097017.html


If the U.S. breaches its debt ceiling this week, bringing with it the global financial panic economists predict, leaders of a little-known far-right movement called Christian Reconstructionism can claim partial responsibility. Their goal: to eradicate the U.S. government so that a theocratic Christian nation emerges to enforce biblical laws.

That’s right — laws out of the Book of Leviticus prohibiting adultery, homosexuality, and abortion, with penalties including death by stoning.

The key leader of this movement is Gary North, founder of the Institute for Christian Economics in Tyler, Texas. He’s a long-time associate of Ron Paul, intellectual godfather of the Tea Party movement — the very people responsible for Congressional deadlock over the government shutdown and debt ceiling debate.

Paul and North go way back. North served on Paul’s first congressional staff in 1976, and North describes himself as Paul’s “original staff economist.” Earlier this year, Paul announced plans for a curriculum for home schoolers that will teach “biblical” concepts. The director of curriculum development for the program? Gary North.

In an Oct. 4 column in The Tea Party Economist, North describes government default as a “fake threat.” So it can’t be a surprise that the Tea Party caucus isn’t taking government default seriously.

And what of the connection between this group and Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who almost singlehandedly created the government shutdown and debt ceiling crisis?

Cruz is the son of Rafael Cruz, a Texas pastor who directs Purifying Fire Ministries. According to a biography page for the True the Vote summit in April 2013, Rafael Cruz became active in politics during the 1980 presidential campaign, joining the Religious Roundtable, founded in 1979 to involve conservative Christians in politics. “The Religious Roundtable was a Judeo-Christian organization that mobilized millions of Christians all across the United States and helped elect Ronald Reagan,” Cruz said. “It was a precursor of the Tea Party, even before the Moral Majority.”

What to make of all of this? For the last few weeks Tea Party-leaning members of Congress have been described as “kooks” and “crazies” by the Washington establishment, liberals, moderate Republican leaders, and the media.

The name-calling might be satisfying to those who oppose the Tea Party, but it’s entirely untrue. These are people who are patient, determined, deliberate, and rational.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/deborah-caldwell/christian-dominionism-debt-default-_b_4097017.html

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Greed destroyed us all: George W. Bush and the real story of the Great Recession

From Salon: http://www.salon.com/2013/10/14/greed_destroyed_us_all_george_w_bush_and_the_real_story_of_the_great_recession/

Faulty monetary policy and insufficient regulation helped — but old-fashioned avarice really tanked the economy

Monday, Oct 14, 2013

If financial crises came with their own nicknames, the subprime meltdown surely would have earned the sobriquet “worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.” That mantra has been chanted over and over again, not only by leading academics and media pundits, but at the highest levels of policy making. When President Barack Obama selected Christina Romer, an economic historian from the University of California, Berkeley, as chair of his Council of Economic Advisors, some carped that the president should have selected an economist with a deeper background in policy rather than in economic history. When Romer herself later asked President Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel why she got the job, Emmanuel answered: “You’re an expert on the Great Depression, and we really thought we might need one.” Given how close the subprime crisis came to economic Armageddon, it is important to understand the series of policy mistakes behind it.

For the most part, previous chapters in this book have focused on particular policies that have had disastrous results, rather than on economic disasters and the policies that led to them. The three policy failures of the interwar period—German reparations after World War I, the interwar gold standard, and the increasing trade protectionism of the 1930s—each merited its own chapter instead of being discussed in a single chapter on the Great Depression. The approach adopted here is different. Rather than starting with a failed economic policy, this chapter starts with a disaster—the subprime crisis—and examines the policies that contributed to it.

There are good reasons for proceeding in this way. The interwar policies discussed earlier had their origins in different countries and occurred under widely differing circumstances. World War I reparations resulted from fears that an isolationist United States would not be able to counter future German aggression, the heavy burdens of inter-Allied debts, and a French desire to punish Germany. The worldwide return to the gold standard was galvanized by the British precedent, which was based on a desire to return to the monetary “normalcy” of the nineteenth century. And the rise of trade protectionism, spurred by the United States’s Smoot-Hawley tariff, was a response to the beginnings of a global economic downturn and domestic political factors. By contrast, the subprime crisis originated almost entirely in the United States, although it subsequently spread far and wide. The main culprits behind the crisis were ill-conceived and ideologically motivated fiscal and monetary policies, which were aided and abetted by inadequate regulation and a variety of other policy mistakes.

Despite the severity of both the Great Depression and the subprime crisis, neither was completely unprecedented. Banking crises were common during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries: there were more than 60 such crises in the industrialized world during 1805–1927. Many of these crises shared a common “boom-bust” pattern. Boom-bust crises occur when business cycles—the regular, normally moderate upward and downward movements in economic activity—become exaggerated, leading to a spectacular economic expansion followed by a dramatic collapse. Boom-bust crises play a central role in formal models of financial crises dating back at least as far as Yale economist Irving Fisher, who wrote about them in the 1930s. In Fisher’s telling, economic expansion leads to a growth in the number and size of bank loans—and even the number of banks themselves—and a corresponding increase in borrowing by non-bank firms. As the expansion persists, bankers continue to seek profitable investments, even though as the boom progresses and more investment projects are funded, fewer worthwhile projects remain. The relative scarcity of sound projects does not dissuade eager lenders, however, who continue to dole out funds. Fisher laments this excessive buildup of debt during cyclical upswings: “If only the (upward) movement would stop at equilibrium!” But, of course, it doesn’t.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/10/14/greed_destroyed_us_all_george_w_bush_and_the_real_story_of_the_great_recession/

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How Christian Delusions Are Driving the GOP Insane

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/belief/how-christian-delusions-are-driving-gop-insane

Why aren’t Republicans more frightened of the consequences of a shutdown and default? Part of the reason is magical religious thinking.

By Amanda Marcotte
October 9, 2013

Why aren’t Republicans more afraid? The entire premise of both the government shutdown and the threats to force the government into debt default is that Democrats care more about the consequences of these actions than the Republicans do. Republicans may go on TV and shed crocodile tears about national monuments being shut down, but the act  isn’t really fooling the voters: The only way to understand these fights is to understand that the GOP is threatening to destroy the government and the world economy in order to get rid of Obamacare (as well as a panoply of other right wing demands). Just as terrorists use the fact that you care more about the lives of the hostages than they do to get leverage, Republican threats rely on believing they don’t care about the consequences, while Democrats do.

So why aren’t they more afraid? Businessweek, hardly a liberal news organization, said  the price of default would be “a financial apocalypse” that would cause a worldwide economic depression.  This is the sort of thing that affects everyone. Having a right wing ideology doesn’t magically protect your investments from crashing alongside the rest of the stock market.

The willingness of Republicans to take the debt ceiling and the federal budget hostage in order to try to extract concessions from Democrats is probably the most lasting gift that the Tea Party has granted the country. More reasonable Republican politicians  fear being primaried by Tea Party candidates. A  handful of wide-eyed fanatics in Congress have hijacked the party. The Tea Party base and the hard right politicians driving this entire thing seem oblivious to the consequences. It’s no wonder, since so many of them—particularly those in leadership—are fundamentalist Christians whose religions have distorted their worldview until they cannot actually see what they’re doing and what kind of damage it would cause.

The press often talks about the Tea Party like they’re secularist movement that is interested mainly in promoting “fiscal conservatism”, a vague notion that never actually seems to make good on the promise to save taxpayer money. The reality is much different: The Tea Party is actually driven primarily by fundamentalist Christians whose penchant for magical thinking and belief that they’re being guided by divine forces makes it tough for them to see the real world as it is.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/belief/how-christian-delusions-are-driving-gop-insane

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Climate Change – We Now Know The Point of No Return

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More Details on Ocean Fracking Revealed as Environmentalists Challenge Federal Regulators

From Truth Out:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/19340-more-details-on-ocean-fracking-revealed-as-environmentalists-challenge-federal-regulators

By Mike Ludwig
Thursday, 10 October 2013

Federal regulators approved at least four hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” operations in the Santa Barbara Channel off the California coast this year by signing off on minor revisions to permits that regulators “categorically excluded” from environmental impact reviews. Now, an environmental group plans to take legal action if two federal agencies fail to halt offshore fracking and conduct the reviews that activists say are required under federal law.

Federal regulators, environmentalists argue, do not know enough about the risks posed by offshore fracking to assure the public that the technology is safe, and few regulators understood that fracking technology had been deployed in the Pacific Ocean before journalists and watchdogs started asking questions and filing information requests.

In July, a Truthout investigation confirmed that the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), the federal agency that issues offshore oil and gas permits, gave the oil firm DCOR a green light to use fracking technology to stimulate oil production from a well 1,500 feet from a seismic fault under the Santa Barbara Channel. Since then, new documents released to Truthout under the Freedom of Information Act show that, earlier in 2013, BSEE also gave DCOR permission to frack three other wells in the area. The fracking operations are scheduled to take place in early 2014.

Unconventional fracking operations on land, which are typically much larger than offshore fracks, have ignited a nationwide controversy, and Californians were alarmed to learn that similar technology is being used in sensitive marine areas without reviews that critics say are required under the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).

On October 3, the Center for Biological Diversity notified BSEE and its sister agency, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), that the group would take legal action if the agencies fail to suspend fracking operations in the Pacific Ocean and review fracking’s potential impacts on marine environments.

“Oil companies are fracking California’s beautiful coastal waters with dangerous chemicals, and federal officials seem barely aware of the dangers,” said Miyoko Sakashita, an attorney and ocean program director at the Center For Biological Diversity. “We need an immediate halt to offshore fracking before chemical pollution or an oil spill poisons the whales and other wildlife that depend on California’s rich coastal waters.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/19340-more-details-on-ocean-fracking-revealed-as-environmentalists-challenge-federal-regulators

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Monsanto Buys a Food Prize

From The Progressive:  http://progressive.org/monsanto-buys-itself-a-food-prize

By Jim Hightower
October 14, 2013

As Lily Tomlin has noted, “No matter how cynical you get, it’s almost impossible to keep up.”

For example, imagine if a prestigious group announced that this year’s “World Environmental Prize” will be awarded to BP for its unique contribution to the ecology of the Gulf of Mexico. Too absurd, you say?

Right, but try this one: An Iowa group announces that the “World Food Prize” will go to Monsanto for pushing its patented, pricey, genetically-tampered Frankenseeds on impoverished lands as an “answer” to global hunger. This would be so morally perverse that the “cyn” in cynical would be spelled S.I.N. Yet, it’s actually happening.

Rather than encouraging sustainable farming and self-sufficiency in impoverished communities as a way to alleviate poverty and malnutrition, the World Food Prize has been “won” by a profiteering, biotech, seed-and-chemical monopolist that’s the freakish opposite of sustainability. Monsanto is globally infamous for bullying family farmers, bribing and corrupting governments, stiffing independent scientific inquiries into its hokum, running false ads and fraudulent PR campaigns, and going all out to keep consumers from knowing that the crops produced by its seeds contain alien, bioengineered DNA and have not been tested for longterm health and environmental problems.

Complete article at:  http://progressive.org/monsanto-buys-itself-a-food-prize

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