Transgender people face strife at the doctor’s office

From CBC News Canada:

By Morgan Dunlop
Oct 10, 2013

After years of self-questioning, hormone treatments and surgery, Chase Ross, 22, is now legally a man.

Ross was born a woman but always felt like something wasn’t quite right. After finding a network of transgender people online, Ross figured out what was wrong.

“I realized this has to be my life. This has to be me for me to be happy,” he says.

Since coming out as a transgender person, Ross has discovered that some of the hardest things to deal with are the most unexpected — like what happens at a visit to the doctor’s office.

 “To add on to society’s hate, you have to deal with the doctor — the people you’re supposed to trust. It’s not fun,” he says.

Ross says he’s routinely asked irrelevant questions about his sexuality, name change and genitals.

However, he says one of the worst experiences was being refused treatment during a recent visit to a psychiatrist.

“She basically just went off on how she doesn’t know how to deal with anything trans-related, because it’s not her field of expertise. That kind of hurt because I wanted immediate help,” says Ross.

As an advocacy worker with Concordia University’s Centre for Gender Advocacy, Gabrielle Bouchard counsels hundreds of transgender people in Montreal. She says Ross’s experience is not unique.

The most common complaints she hears include medical professionals refusing to address a patient as the gender he or she identifies with, asking invasive and unnecessary questions, and — in some cases — refusing treatment.

“People will say, ‘I would rather die than go back and be misgendered or feel unsafe. So I will die of pneumonia before I will go back to the hospital,'” says Bouchard.

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Guilty of Sedition? Tea Party Threatens America’s Economic and Political Systems

From Alternet:

Pushing the country toward disaster is what right-wingers call patriotism. Perhaps there’s another name for it.

By Lynn Stuart Parramore
October 16, 2013

Members of the Tea Party like to wrap up in the American flag and call themselves patriots. But does a love of country include wrecking the country?

The behavior of the GOP’s extremist faction is looking increasingly outlandish and unprecedented, like the machinations of some lunatic fringe in a country far, far away. But they’re right here. They want to destroy the U.S. government and they will plainly thwart laws they don’t like in the name of foolhardy austerity and unregulated markets. Hindering a law by using threats or force, by the way, is sedition, and some have argued that the Tea Party members are guilty of this crime.

Certainly extortion has become the Tea Party’s method of choice, behavior Andrew Reinbach of Huffington Post suggests might make them subject to the 1951 Hobbs Act, which covers “extortionate threats of physical, economic and informational harm.”

As these radical elements push the country toward default, there is no doubt that much damage has already been done. The fragile U.S. economy has taken a blow as communities across the country have suffered from the shutdown. American consumers will likely be stuck with higher interest payments. The financial rating agency Fitch has warned that it may downgrade the country’s creditworthiness. That could happen even if lawmakers agree to a last-minute deal.

The deadline for default is Thursday, whether crazed Republicans can be dealt with or not. It’s difficult to say when exactly when the unpaid bills will start piling up as America’s creditors call in their debts. No one really knows precisely what would happen, because a default hasn’t occurred in modern times. But the stock market would likely take a nose dive, interest rates would spike, and a credit crunch could ensue. All of which could bring us right back to catastrophic recession. Fast.

Like a mentally unstable person standing on a bridge and mesmerized by the sight of the river below, the right seems hypnotized by a compulsion to jump into uncharted waters. They chatter that we could somehow prioritize payments. But they don’t know if this can even happen. They say that the Treasury could rig something up. Or maybe not. Maybe, deep in their hearts, they are craving a catastrophe that would weaken the government so effectively that oligarchs like the Koch brothers would be released on the country like the Kracken.

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The Strange Stalinization of the American Right

From Common Dreams:

by David Benjamin

“The tea party’s theory of government and the fear and loathing that many adherents harbor toward minorities find a truer expression in the Confederate flag than in the Stars and Stripes …” — Harold Meyerson, Washington Post

MADISON, Wis. — With the possible exception of the Post’s Harold Meyerson, who drew a trenchant parallel to Jacobins and Stalinists, the mainstream media, throughout the just-ended phony fiscal crisis in Washington, have avoided comparing today’s Tea Party zealots with the American Communist Party at the height of the Cold War.

But they should have.

The dread Reds of the Fifties evinced a rigid dogmatism and a contempt for partisan comity rare in U.S. politics. But their old-time religion is rivaled by the scorched-earth ideologues of the radical right who blackmailed the global economy in the name of, well… I guess it’s Ted Cruz, the Trotsky of Tortilla Coast.

The parallel didn’t entirely come home to me until I recently read Alex Ross’ New Yorker (14 Oct.) reassessment of socialist Henry Wallace, the one-term vice president under FDR who came remarkably close to the presidency.

Wallace was undone in his White House ambitions by a too-close association with the domestic Communist Party. His quixotic Progressive Party campaign floundered largely because a few Communist “bullies” in his camp pumped out speeches and statements rife with pro-Stalinist propaganda. For these left-wing zealots (as detailed in Thomas W. Devine’s new book, Henry Wallace’s 1948 Presidential Campaign and the Future of Postwar Liberalism), imposing their will — and their simpleminded version of Marxism — on the Wallace staff and the American public was the only reason they got involved.

They didn’t care if Wallace won, lost, or dropped dead. Nor did they care about the integrity of the electoral process, the sanctity of U.S. democracy or the mounting mockery of the press. Among their critics, quoted by Devine and Ross, was the great I.F. Stone. “In 30 minutes, cross-legged, saying ‘Oom’ with alternative exhalations,” wrote Stone, “I can conjure up a better third-party movement than Wallace’s.”

Wallace would have lost, anyway. But he might have retained the respect of the press and the sympathy of the electorate — who always love an underdog — if he hadn’t allied himself with the purist thugs of American Communism.

Among the characteristics of those leftist true believers were these:

They clung to a utopian fantasy theorized by a dead prophet, an ideal world appealing in a thousand romantic ways and impossible to implement among the dissonant denizens of reality.

The Communist Party, in those halcyon days of repression and anti-HUAC heroism, evinced a rabid hostility toward both major parties. Although they maintained tenuous bonds with Democrats and progressives, the Reds were happiest when the moment came (it always did) to disavow, denounce and betray their erstwhile friends for the merest heresy against Bolshevik scripture.

Old-school Commies, of course, wallowed in paranoia — their own and that of their McCarthyite foes. While hatching their own (usually feckless) plots, they perceived conspiracies all around them.

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Edward Snowden: US would have buried NSA warnings forever

From The Guardian UK:

Whistleblower says he shared information with media because he could not trust internal reporting mechanisms

in New York, Thursday 17 October 2013

Edward Snowden, the source of National Security Agency leaks, has insisted that he decided to become a whistleblower and flee America because he had no faith in the internal reporting mechanisms of the US government, which he believed would have destroyed him and buried his message for ever.

One of the main criticisms levelled at Snowden by the Obama administration has been that he should have taken up an official complaint within the NSA, rather than travelling to Hong Kong to share his concerns about the agency’s data dragnet with the Guardian and other news organisations. But in an interview with the New York Times, Snowden has dismissed that option as implausible.

“The system does not work,” he said, pointing to the paradox that “you have to report wrongdoing to those most responsible for it.” If he had tried to sound the alarm internally, he would have “been discredited and ruined” and the substance of his warnings “would have been buried forever”.

Snowden, 30, conducted the interview with the New York Times over the past few days, communicating from Russia, where he has been granted a year’s asylum, with a Times journalist in New York via encrypted email. He took the opportunity to try to quash several of the most widely aired criticisms of his actions.

He disputed speculation that he had run the risk of China and Russia gaining access to the top secret files. He said he was so familiar with Chinese spying operations, having himself targeted China when he was employed by the NSA, that he knew how to keep the trove secure from them.

As for Russia, he revealed that he had left all the leaked documents behind when he flew from Hong Kong to Moscow. He told the New York Times he had decided to hand over all the digital material to the journalists he had encountered in Hong Kong – Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill of the Guardian, and the independent filmmaker Laura Poitras – because to hang on to copies would not have been in the public interest.

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Keystone XL Fails the Climate Test — See the Proof for Yourself

From Alternet:

Obama says that he won’t approve the KXL pipeline if it will exacerbate carbon pollution. Well, check out this slideshow and see what you think.

By Tara Lohan
October 17, 2013

The Obama Administration can pass the buck or blame Congress for innumerable failures to not act to protect the environment. But when it comes to the ever-important Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, it’s in Obama’s hands entirely. For years now, concerned individuals have pushed Obama to deny the KXL permit. The issue of a spill is not an if, it’s a when. And the extraction, processing, transporting, and burning of tar sands will be a climate nightmare.

We also know that the oil industry has friends in high places, including the State Department where review of the project has been taking place. So it was encouraging that Obama, in a much touted climate change speech in June, said that he would evaluate the climate impact of the project before making a decision. He said:

Now, I know there’s been, for example, a lot of controversy surrounding the proposal to build a pipeline, the Keystone pipeline, that would carry oil from Canadian tar sands down to refineries in the Gulf. And the State Department is going through the final stages of evaluating the proposal. That’s how it’s always been done. But I do want to be clear: Allowing the Keystone pipeline to be built requires a finding that doing so would be in our nation’s interest. And our national interest will be served only if this project does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution . The net effects of the pipeline’s impact on our climate will be absolutely critical to determining whether this project is allowed to go forward. It’s relevant.

So, does the Keystone XL pass the climate test?

Environmentalists will hold Obama to his word. They are launching a new presentation this weekend at Powershift 2013. “With the new draft of the EIS coming out seemingly at any time, it’s a good time to prove once and for all that Keystone XL is a climate disaster,” said Daniel Kessler, US Communications Director for  “The facts are on our side. This presentation gives us and our hundreds of thousands of supporters are new way to make the case against KXL.”

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