By Thomas Matt
Tuesday, Oct 22, 2013
I never thought I would have to come out about being attracted to women. But that’s the funny and sad position I’m in these days. Although I don’t see anything different about my sexual orientation, most people do.
About four years ago, I was an exchange student in Thailand, a country known for its large, open transgender population. While most men avoided trans women, I saw no difference between them and cisgender women (women who were born biologically female). I was attracted to trans women, in other words, and I spent the next three years of my life in confusion and shame.
The heteronormative world in which we live had successfully convinced me that being attracted to transgender women meant I had a fetish. I began questioning my sexuality and even my masculinity. I didn’t even know what to call my sexual orientation. Finally one day, after hours of searching, I came across two terms that described what I was feeling. Trans-attraction and trans-orientation. Neither one is official or common, but their use is growing due to the increasing demand for a way to categorize people who are attracted to transgender people. When I saw these words, a feeling of relief washed over me: I was not alone. I don’t always describe myself as trans-attracted, but the label helped me feel like I had a place in the queer community and it helps others understand my sexuality.
My year in Thailand made it a second home for me, and I returned last spring for a study abroad semester. Once again surrounded by the transgender community, I started thinking about my sexuality almost every day and this inner conflict re-arose. That was when I started reading queer theory. Julia Serano, a transgender activist and writer, pointed out that it is not acceptable to consider attraction to trans women a fetish, because that reduces them to fetish objects. Trans women are treated as if they are not worthy of love. In her speech, titled “The Beauty in Us,” she said, “Because our culture deems us undesirable, our lovers and partners are often expected to explain why they choose to be with us.” After reading that powerful speech as well as many other queer theorists, I stopped feeling so backward. It was the shaming of trans-attraction that was ridiculous — not my sexual orientation.
Continue reading at: http://www.salon.com/2013/10/22/im_attracted_to_trans_women/
by Brian Tashman
on Monday, 10/21/2013
Several conservative media outlets, including Fox News and the Christian Broadcasting Network, have reported that a transgender student in a Colorado high school has been harassing other girls in the locker room and restrooms, citing claims made by the anti-LGBT Pacific Justice Institute (PJI).
However, the school never found any verified cases of harassment.
As it turns out, the PJI never found any cases of harassment either, but simply considers the use of a women’s restroom by a transgender girl to be “inherently intimidating and harassing.”
The Transadvocate reports that the mother of the transgender student, who for privacy reasons is referred to as “Jane Doe,” is now speaking out about how the PJI is trying use the bogus story to paint her daughter as a sexual predator in order to boost its campaign to repeal a California law protecting transgender students:
When she went to her old school as herself, Jane flourished. When asked if she had experienced any bullying at the time she said, “Just some name calling.” Jane’s mother elaborated, “Before she transitioned, we would go to shopping and when she would try to use the male restroom, they would make rude comments.” I asked her if she meant that men in the restrooms would verbally abuse her daughter before she ever transitioned because she was perceived to be female even when trying to present as male. “She was scared to use the restroom. They made rude comments, language that she didn’t need to hear just because she was trying to go to the bathroom that she thought she had to be in.”
“Since she changed, she’s comfortable with life. She’s really feminine, but doesn’t do tons of makeup each day. She’s just a normal girl. If people see her on the streets, people don’t… didn’t know, you know? Before all of this stuff happened, none of this bothered anyone.”
When Jane’s mother refers to the “stuff that happened,” what she means is that one of the nation’s most influential ex-gay organizations suggested to the international press that her daughter was predator. The Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), an ex-gay organization, needed someone to be their cautionary tale if they hoped to fight an effective battle to end protections for trans children in California and apparently decided that Jane fit the bill.
By Elizabeth Limbach
October 20, 2013
One in eight. That’s how many women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI). This grim statistic lands in the spotlight during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is currently underway.
But, for all of the awareness raised about breast cancer over the years, there’s a certain term that is largely left out of the lexicon surrounding breast cancer,the most common cancer in women. It’s a term Connecticut resident and cancer survivor Nancy Cappello has spent nearly a decade fighting to retrieve from the shadows and inject into the conversation. This term is “breast density.”
“If you look in the news this October, it’ll be pink, pink, pink for Breast Cancer Awareness month,” says Cappello. “I call it breast density unawareness—many women still do not know of breast density, or if they’ve heard of it, they don’t know what it really means to them.”
Breast density refers to the ratio of tissue to fat in a woman’s breast. A dense breast has more fibroglandular tissue and less fat. Forty percent of women have dense tissue, according to the American College of Radiology Imaging Network (ACRIN), which is significant because these women are five times more likely to develop breast cancer. They’re also less likely to have it detected on a mammogram.
A January 2011 Mayo Clinic study found that mammograms fail to find 75 percent of cancer in women with dense breast tissue. The primary cause of “false-negative results” in mammograms is high breast density, according to the NCI.
However, until recently, it was standard practice nationwide for doctors to keep information about breast density from patients, and as a result many people with dense breasts do not have cancer detected until it is well developed.
While breast density—and the ineffectiveness of mammograms on dense breasts—is not new, in recent years a battle has arisen to bring unprecedented attention to the issue. As a result the standard practice of keeping breast density knowledge a secret from women has begun to change, but not without a surprising amount of opposition. On the frontlines of resistance is the American College of Radiology (ACR), the nation’s principal association of radiology professionals, an organization that benefits financially from mammograms.
From The New York Times:
By JOYCE WADLER
Published: October 18, 2013
I was messing around on the couch with an old boyfriend when he mentioned that he had a new sex med and that it was stashed in the fridge because it had to stay cold.
This is the sort of info that brings things to a screaming halt, but feature writers like me don’t mind at all, because it is so weird.
“What?” I say. “I thought this stuff was just pills.”
“They’re new little pills,” the guy says. “You have to keep them cold.”
“What if you have to travel with them?” I ask.
“I put them in a plastic bag with two ice cubes,” he tells me.
“What if you’re Lawrence of Arabia, and you want to have sex in the desert?” I say.
We are both laughing.
“You don’t get to have sex in the desert,” he says.
I’ll tell you the truth. This is one of the things I like about middle-aged sex: the level of comfort required.
“I have diabetes and have to take these little pills, which in my case take a few hours to work, so you got to give me some notice before we pull off the highway.”
“It’s been a while. I’m a little out of practice.”
“I’ve had breast cancer, and my new breasts, while spectacular, will be different from others you have known.”
Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/22/booming/my-body-changed-so-did-intimacy.html?_r=4&
From Political Garbage Chute: http://www.politicalgarbagechute.com/confflag/
by James Schlarmann
October 24th, 2013
“A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery. He is to be entrusted with the administration of the common Government, because he has declared that that “Government cannot endure permanently half slave, half free,” and that the public mind must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.” — Excerpt from South Carolina’s Letter of Secession; Adopted December 24th, 1860
“Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery – the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product, which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization.” — Excerpt from Mississippi’s Letter of Secession; c. January 9th 1861
”And as it is the desire and purpose of the people of Alabama to meet the slaveholding States of the South, who may approve such purpose, in order to frame a provisional as well as permanent Government upon the principles of the Constitution of the United States” — Excerpt from Alabama’s Letter of Secession; February 4th, 1861
“For the last ten years we have had numerous and serious causes of complaint against our non-slaveholding confederate States with reference to the subject of African slavery. They have endeavored to weaken our security, to disturb our domestic peace and tranquility, and persistently refused to comply with their express constitutional obligations to us in reference to that property, and by the use of their power in the Federal Government have striven to deprive us of an equal enjoyment of the common Territories of the Republic.” — Excerpt from Georgia’s Letter of Secession; January 29th, 1861
There’s a reason that I started this piece off with four quotes, pulled directly from the actual letters that South Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia drafted and sent to The United States of America, declaring their secession from the union. That reason is that I’m sick and tired of watching uninformed people claim that slavery had little or nothing to do with the Civil War, and I’m really sick and tired of people thinking they can wave a Confederate flag around and it doesn’t have any undertones of racism.
Continue reading at: http://www.politicalgarbagechute.com/confflag/
From The Guardian UK: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/24/nsa-surveillance-world-leaders-calls
• Agency given more than 200 numbers by government official
• NSA encourages departments to share their ‘Rolodexes’
• Surveillance produced ‘little intelligence’, memo acknowledges
The Guardian, Thursday 24 October 2013
The National Security Agency monitored the phone conversations of 35 world leaders after being given the numbers by an official in another US government department, according to a classified document provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden.
The confidential memo reveals that the NSA encourages senior officials in its “customer” departments, such the White House, State and the Pentagon, to share their “Rolodexes” so the agency can add the phone numbers of leading foreign politicians to their surveillance systems.
The document notes that one unnamed US official handed over 200 numbers, including those of the 35 world leaders, none of whom is named. These were immediately “tasked” for monitoring by the NSA.
After Merkel’s allegations became public, White House press secretary Jay Carney issued a statement that said the US “is not monitoring and will not monitor” the German chancellor’s communications. But that failed to quell the row, as officials in Berlin quickly pointed out that the US did not deny monitoring the phone in the past.
The NSA memo obtained by the Guardian suggests that such surveillance was not isolated, as the agency routinely monitors the phone numbers of world leaders – and even asks for the assistance of other US officials to do so.
Continue reading at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/24/nsa-surveillance-world-leaders-calls
By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers
Wednesday, 23 October 2013
The story of Fukushima should be on the front pages of every newspaper. Instead, it is rarely mentioned. The problems at Fukushima are unprecedented in human experience and involve a high risk of radiation events larger than any that the global community has ever experienced. It is going to take the best engineering minds in the world to solve these problems and to diminish their global impact.
When we researched the realities of Fukushima in preparation for this article, words like apocalyptic, cataclysmic and Earth-threatening came to mind. But, when we say such things, people react as if we were the little red hen screaming “the sky is falling” and the reports are ignored. So, we’re going to present what is known in this article and you can decide whether we are facing a potentially cataclysmic event.
Either way, it is clear that the problems at Fukushima demand that the world’s best nuclear engineers and other experts advise and assist in the efforts to solve them. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds.org and an international team of scientists created a 15-point plan to address the crises at Fukushima.
A subcommittee of the Green Shadow Cabinet (of which we are members), which includes long-time nuclear activist Harvey Wasserman, is circulating a sign-on letter and a petition calling on the United Nations and Japanese government to put in place the Gundersen et al plan and to provide 24-hour media access to information about the crises at Fukushima. There is also a call for international days of action on the weekend of November 9 and 10. The letter and petitions will be delivered to the UN on November 11 which is both Armistice Day and the 32nd month anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
The Problems of Fukushima
There are three major problems at Fukushima: (1) Three reactor cores are missing; (2) Radiated water has been leaking from the plant in mass quantities for 2.5 years; and (3) Eleven thousand spent nuclear fuel rods, perhaps the most dangerous things ever created by humans, are stored at the plant and need to be removed, 1,533 of those are in a very precarious and dangerous position. Each of these three could result in dramatic radiation events, unlike any radiation exposure humans have ever experienced. We’ll discuss them in order, saving the most dangerous for last.
WASHINGTON — The proposed Keystone XL pipeline is “ridiculous” and “an atrocity,” said former Vice President Al Gore on Thursday.
Speaking at an event honoring the 10th anniversary of the progressive think tank Center for American Progress, Gore praised President Barack Obama’s efforts on climate change, stating that he thinks the president is sincere and that it will be a legacy issue for him. But on Keystone XL, which is waiting to hear its fate from the Obama administration, Gore was unequivocal.
“I hope as he gets down to the licklog, as he gets down to the decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, that he understands what this means,” Gore said. “This should be vetoed. It’s an atrocity, it’s a threat.”
Gore, who just concluded his third annual 24 Hours of Reality event, compared the reliance on fossil fuels — particularly those derived from tar sands, which the Keystone pipeline would spur further development of — to a drug addiction.
“Junkies find veins in their toes when their arms and legs go out,” Gore said. “We are now at a point where we are going after dangerous and dirty fuels.”
Because the proposed pipeline crosses an international border, the northern part of it must get approval from the State Department before it can go forward. The issue has been a major source of controversy for the Obama administration, as environmental groups argue that the pipeline would exacerbate global warming.
In his climate speech last June, Obama said the pipeline should be approved only if it “does not significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.”