Trans woman, 22, kills herself after being sacked by Putin’s laws

From Gay Star News UK:

Russian woman who lost her job, her family and her home is being described as the ‘first victim of gay propaganda’

By Joe Morgan
21 October 2013

A young transgender Russian woman has committed suicide after being sacked by Putin’s anti-gay laws.

Dasha Shtern, a 22-year-old, killed herself after she had lost her job and was made homeless by her own parents.

Before last week, Shtern was working for the Yekaterinburg government in Sverdlovsk, central Russia, and was living with friends.

She had just been given a mortgage so she could buy her own apartment, had bought a car and was ready to go travelling.

But when Shtern’s bosses feared continuing to employ her would break ‘gay propaganda laws’, she lost everything.

Fired, she could not afford the payments on her car or mortgage.

She killed herself on Wednesday (16 October).

Top lawyer and trans rights activist Masha Bast described the sudden passing of Shtern was ‘shocking’ to her friends.

‘Vladimir Putin has created a system where there is no place for trans people, no place for people who are different,’ she said.

‘Dasha is a victim of Putin’s laws, and she is a victim of the indifference in Russian society.’

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Why is Gay Inc. Ignoring Chelsea Manning & CeCe McDonald?

From The Rainbow Times:

By: Keegan O’Brien
Oct 22, 2013

CeCe McDonald and Pvt. Chelsea Manning (formerly known as Pvt. Bradley Manning before recently coming out as transgender) are queer freedom fighters and political prisoners. The movements to free and defend them are two of the most significant queer struggles of our time, but have remained largely sidelined from the mainstream LGBTQ movement. CeCe McDonald is a black transgender woman from Minneapolis who faces life in prison for defending herself against a racist transphobic hate crime. Activists built an international solidarity campaign to free her, and although they did not win her release from prison, they managed to get her sentence reduced to two years. Pvt. Chelsea Manning is a name most Americans are probably more familiar with, as her case has become international news in recent years. Pvt. Manning leaked thousands of “classified” military documents to Wikileaks, and as a result helped expose hundreds of war crimes and violations of international law the U.S. had committed.

While grassroots movements have emerged in recent years to free these brave women, shamefully, both have been largely ignored by mainstream LGBTQ organizations, often times referred to as Gay Inc. But why do they ignore these causes and what should we do about it? To answer that, we need to address why these cases should even concern the LGBTQ community, let’s start with CeCe McDonald. On the most basic level, this is a case regarding the rights of oppressed people, including queer folks, to defend themselves, by any means necessary, against hateful and bigoted violence. No one should be punished for defending themselves against a hate crime–it is that plain and simple. But it’s more than just that. CeCe McDonald’s case is just one example of an all too frequent reality of discrimination and violence experienced by trans women, disproportionally trans women of color. According to a 2010 National Center for Transgender Equality Study, trans women make up 40 percent of hate crimes victims every year. For many trans women, simply walking out the door and stepping into the public world puts them at a tremendous risk of violence, harassment, and sexual assault.

But the problems don’t stop there. CeCe McDonald’s case illustrates how racism and transphobia permeate every level of America’s criminal injustice system. While George Zimmerman was set free and eventually found “not guilty” for racially profiling, stalking, and then murdering Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, CeCe McDonald was immediately arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law for defending herself against a racially motivated transphobic hate crime. George Zimmerman was considered within his right to stand his ground and kill an unarmed black teenager, but CeCe McDonald who defended herself against a hate crime was not. The message is clear: in the eyes of the criminal injustice system people of color, queer folks, and trans people have no right to defend themselves against racist, homophobic, or transphobic violence because our lives are of little value. There is no excuse for the neglect by Gay Inc. that has been shown toward CeCe’s case, and the important issues of racism, transphobia, and discrimination inside the criminal justice system that it involves. These issues, and therefore CeCe’s case, should be considered central to any LGBTQ organization, which seeks to address the multiplicity of problems that effect a broad and diverse LGBTQ community.

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Are You Suspicious? The TSA’s Database-Driven Screenings

From Common Dreams:

New program allows TSA to pre-screen travelers based on where they’ve been, where they work, and other captured data

Jon Queally

Want to leave your shoes and jacket on next time you pass through an airport security checkpoint?

If so, you might want to watch where you travel, how long you stay there, and make extra sure you don’t otherwise draw the suspicion of the Department of Homeland Security or the screening agents at the Transportation Security Administration.

According to new reporting Tuesday by the New York Times, the TSA is now performing more extensive pre-arrival screening of US airline passengers “by searching a wide array of government and private databases that can include records like car registrations and employment information” in order to determine which travelers should be targeted for higher scrutiny or physical screenings. And though the program has been underway, according to the Times, plans are underway to expand its possible scope and implementation.

As one government official familiar with the program, but unwilling to be identified, told the newspaper, “the main goal of the program was to identify low-risk travelers for lighter screening at airport security checkpoints, adapting methods similar to those used to flag suspicious people entering the United States.”

The Times reports:

It is unclear precisely what information the agency is relying upon to make these risk assessments, given the extensive range of records it can access, including tax identification number, past travel itineraries, property records, physical characteristics, and law enforcement or intelligence information.

The measures go beyond the background check the government has conducted for years, called Secure Flight, in which a passenger’s name, gender and date of birth are compared with terrorist watch lists. Now, the search includes using a traveler’s passport number, which is already used to screen people at the border, and other identifiers to access a system of databases maintained by the Department of Homeland Security.

Civil liberty advocates contacted by the newspaper were alarmed by the revelations.

“The average person doesn’t understand how much intelligence-driven matching is going on and how this could be accessed for other purposes,” Khaliah Barnes, a lawyer with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, told the Times. “There’s no meaningful oversight, transparency or accountability.”

And those critical of the already burdensome and ill-conceived TSA airport screening process were quick to point out what they consider the absurdity of the entire process. As Juli Weiner, writing for Vanity Fair, quipped:

Can we all agree that the one and only problem with airport security is that it does not begin sooner? Invasive new measures are being taken to ensure that passengers can experience the joys of the Transportation Security Administration right from the non-privacy of their own homes.

However, given the onslaught in recent months of news regarding the U.S. government’s alarming levels of domestic surveillance—mostly based on NSA documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden—the TSA, now shown to be sorting the traveling public into various categories of suspicion, might increasingly be the butt of less jokes, and instead, the target of more ire.


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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.

“What would be the unique value of personally carrying another copy of materials onward?” he said, adding: “There’s a zero per cent chance the Russians or Chinese have received any documents.”

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How The Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio

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Food Animal Industry Abuses ‘Worsened’ Under Obama Admin: Report

From Common Dreams:

Despite documented dangers, no efforts to curb antibiotic use in US livestock

Lauren McCauley

The abuses of the farm animal production industry are well-documented, from restrictive cages to the overuse of antibiotics to environmental degradation. Lesser known is that under the Obama administration, these “unsavory industry practices” have flourished. Fingering Congress and other regulatory authorities, a new report issued Tuesday by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF), slams the administration for the perpetuation of these conditions as well as the misleading legislation that has enabled them to do so.

The report, Industrial Food Animal Production in America: Examining the Impact of the Pew Commission’s Priority Recommendations, is a follow-up five years after a Pew Commission issued a series of recommendations to address the detrimental impact of industrial food animal production (IFAP) on public, animal, and environmental health.

“There has been an appalling lack of progress,” said Robert S. Lawrence, MD, director of CLF. “The failure to act by the USDA and FDA, the lack of action or concern by the Congress, and continued intransigence of the animal agriculture industry have made all of our problems worse.”

Half of the 24 recommendations made by the April 2008 panel fell under the umbrella of public health concerns with five of those dealing with antimicrobial use in livestock, which has gross consequences for the efficacy of antibiotics in humans. The FDA estimates that 80 percent of the antibiotics sold in this country are fed to food animals.

According to the report, Congress has killed every effort to legislate a ban on feeding farm animals antibiotics that are important in human medicine. As Reuters explains:

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has altered its guidelines to say antibiotics should be used only under the guidance of a veterinarian for prevention, control or treatment of disease, the Johns Hopkins report said there was a loophole. Drugs can be approved for disease prevention on the proviso that they are not being used as part of livestock production.

“This means that while antimicrobial approvals may change… antimicrobial use may not,” notes the report.

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The United States of Drought

From Inter Press Service:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

WASHINGTON, Oct 21 2013 (IPS) – As the planet heats up and larger populations demand larger water supplies, the United States will be left high and dry if it fails to address a worsening water shortage.

By 2060, the gap between water supply and demand could grow to nearly four billion cubic metres per year – 10 times the amount of water used by the desert-bound city of Las Vegas.

“Water shortage has huge ramifications not just for the entire national economy – as farmers, ranchers, cotton producers have to cope with less and less water – but also for the natural system itself,” Adam Freed, the director of the Securing Water Programme at the Nature Conservancy, an environmental organisation here, told IPS. “And climate change is only going to make it worse.”

According to a new trend analysis by scientists in the public and private sectors, U.S. population growth of nearly one percent and rising global temperatures will result in a clear and significant supply-and-demand imbalance.

Dr. Robert Mace, deputy executive administrator of water science and conservation at the Texas Water Development Board, which monitors aquifer levels throughout the state, told IPS that “2011 was both the hottest and driest year on record in Texas. Statewide agricultural losses [across all crops and livestock] that year totaled 7.62 billion dollars, making it the most costly drought in history – more than 3.5 billion dollars higher than the 2006 drought losses, which was the previous costliest drought on record.”

In the future, 16.7 percent of water supplies in the state are projected to come from agricultural irrigation conservation strategies, according to the 2012 State Water Plan.

In Texas and across the United States – as across the world – initiatives addressing water shortages are already emerging. Clean water funds and water efficiency infrastructure in a host of Western cities make clear that the reality of the looming problem has already begun to dawn on some policymakers.

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Shale gas protesters joined by Nova Scotians

From CBC News Canada:

President of the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association says no end in sight to dispute

CBC News
Oct 21, 2013

People from First Nations communities around the region are heading to Elsipogtog area of New Brunswick to show their support for those protesting shale gas exploration.

The protesters have been demonstrating for months, calling on a moratorium on shale gas exploration.

Cheryl Maloney, the president of the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association, drove to eastern New Brunswick Sunday to offer her support to protesters, in particular the women at the site.

She said she doesn’t see a resolution to the conflict any time soon.

“The community doesn’t want it, they don’t want fracking in their community. I know in Nova Scotia we had Boat Harbour and the community of Pictou Landing is now dealing with all kinds of environmental concerns, so we’ve been there and done that. So it’s not going to be that easy to come up with a nice negotiated little package that these people would be willing to accept,” she said.

Maloney said there have been a lot of women involved in the fracking protest and there were several women arrested during Thursday’s clash with police.

On Sept. 30, protesters set up a blockade in Rexton, preventing SWN Resources Inc. — the company at the centre of the dispute — from accessing seismic testing equipment.

Last week, protests turned violent when RCMP served an injunction to remove the protesters.

More than 40 people were arrested for refusing to abide by the injunction. During the clash, police seized firearms, knives and several explosive devices. Protesters were pepper sprayed and six RCMP vehicles were torched.

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