Our Shameful Cotton Ceiling: Lesbian TS/TG Women Rejecting Other TS/TG Women as Partners

I’ll confess something that many consider to be something icky.  I have always been kiki.

That is to say I have always been sexually attracted to other TS/TG women. While I am at it I confess to being attracted to quite a few brothers too.

Over the years I’ve watched a number of my sisters deny any element of attraction to other sister yet they have formed their closest and most intimate bonds with one another.

Why do so many of us have such a hard time to admitting this?

Tina and I are rather open about loving each other.  Yet we have known other sisters who have lived together, including the same bed for years, yet they deny being lovers.

Why do we act as though a loving relationship with another TS/TG person is somehow a second class relationship? An inauthentic version of a lesbian relationship…

I was pre-op when I had my first relationship with a sister.  She identified more as a queen than as transsexual. She taught me how to negotiate my way through sexual relations as a pre-op, how to say what I was or wasn’t okay with doing.

Shortly after my SRS I fell in love with another sister, also a pre-op. She was very strung out on downers and kept over dosing. She was also incredibly wild and I was fortunate enough to be able to photograph her and document part of her tragic life. When she died her parents buried her as a boy.

I realized I didn’t fall in love with people’s genitals, that indeed their genitals rarely played a part in why I was attracted to them.

I like quirkiness, wit, intelligence and a lust for life.

I found myself looking for those traits in others.  I was also attracted to people who were physically like myself in some way.

My sisters found this weird.

But sex is sex… only delusional people believe they have discovered a new or novel way of doing it.

Affection, love… Now that is a much deeper topic.

I’ve had relationships with cis-sex/gender people.  I hate the routine of having to explain.  I hate having to feel defensive of my authenticity, as though my realness can be canceled at any moment.

I believe it is only ethical to realize other TS/TG people have the same sorts of feelings I have, therefore I shouldn’t go around playing HBS Troll games of “I’m real and you are not.”

One thing I learned over the years is that self-esteem comes from within.  So does authenticity.  It isn’t gained by challenging the authenticity of others.

I also learned there are homogender relationships that some might consider heterosexual due to the genitals involved.  As well as heterogender relationships that might be considered homosexual for the same reason.

So what is it that makes lesbian TS/TG women uncomfortable about partnering with another sister?

Why do we feel more valid partnering with a cis-person than another trans-person?

What does that say about us?

Further if we see other trans-people as somehow undesirable or unattractive how can we expect others to find us attractive?

Vancouver Rape Relief invited Janice Raymond to speak at the Vancouver Public Library Nov. 30, 2013

This is from a Facebook post.  More Info will follow

Natalie Reed

So… VANCOUVER TRANS PEEPS (and allies)… as many of you know Vancouver Rape Relief has invited Janice Raymond to speak at the Vancouver Public Library (presumably the downtown location) on November 30th, as an event memorializing the massacre at L’Ecole Polytechnique. Given VRR’s trans-exclusionist policies, history of trans-misogyny, ongoing support of transphobic feminism, dismissal of Kimberly Nixon, subsequent legal defense, and role in setting legal precedent that permits anti-trans discrimination in Canada, and Janice Raymond’s own history of extraordinary trans-misogyny and central role in the development of transphobia within feminism, we can’t really consider this coincidental or benign, nor can we assume the talk will simply be about L’Ecole Polytechnique, misogynistic violence or women in STEM fields.

In all likelihood, it will almost certainly be an openly cissexist, trans-misogynistic talk, probably based around arguing for trans-exclusionist policy to “protect” the “safety” of “womyn-born-womyn”.

Many folks are trying to prevent VPL from hosting the event, especially given that VPL’s own policies insist upon events being inclusive and respectful towards marginalized groups and identities (and IIRC, gender identity is specifically mentioned). *Hopefully* the talk being prevented from taking place at VPL is what will happen, or at least VPL inviting members of the trans community to respond / debate. BUT IF THE VRR / JANICE RAYMOND TALK PROCEEDS AS PLANNED… I would very much like if we could organize a counter-event to take place at VPL the same day (with or without explicit approval from VPL… library square’s status as public space should permit us to gather there regardless of prior approval- at least long enough to stage the response event- as long as we aren’t being destructive or harassing anyone or anything).

I was thinking of organizing speakers to talk on four topics that would serve as a useful counter-point to the trans-misogyny of Vancouver Rape Relief and Janice Raymond:

1) The consequences of trans-exclusionist policy, and/or trans people being unable to safely access services like rape/abuse/DV support services, homeless and emergency shelters, sexual health services, police services, medical care, etc. …with a definite focus on the rape/abuse/DV stuff (I could take this up as a topic myself, if needed, based on my experiences as a trans rape survivor and my ongoing inability to find any suitable support or resources).

2) The consequences of transphobic, cissexist and trans-misogynistic feminism, as exemplified by writers like Janice Raymond, Sheila Jeffries, Mary Daly, etc., and the consequences of exclusion of or unwelcoming attitudes towards trans women in women’s spaces, organizations, communities, etc. (perhaps tilted towards trans women’s exclusion from feminist space and queer women’s space).

3) Trans-misogynistic violence (which can tie into TDoR and recent events).

4) How trans women are impacted by misogyny and misogynistic violence, like that of the L’Ecole Polytechnique shooting, and how trans-misogyny, transphobia, cissexism, etc interrelates with misogyny, patriarchy, etc.

I think these topics will make a compelling point (ideally to ppl who are there for the Raymond talk, or who have uncritically supported VRR in the past, or who are associated w/ VPL, or who are simply unaware of these issues)… particularly if our event manages to round up better attendance than the Raymond talk itself.

If interested in helping organize this event, or interested in speaking, or interested in helping out in any way at all, please please comment or message me or e-mail me at sincerelynataliereed@gmail.com Also, even just expressing interest in ATTENDING could help give a good idea of whether this works as an idea.

Hopefully none of this will be necessary, but given that it’s less than two weeks away, we should start organizing ASAP.

(also my FB is being slow so I can’t tag everyone… so help me get the word out?)

London to pay tribute to murdered trans victims

From Gay Star News UK:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/london-pay-tribute-murdered-trans-victims191113

To mark Transgender Day of Remembrance, Paris Lees will speak at an event with musicians, poets and mourners

By Joe Morgan
19 November 2013

Trans activist, journalist and broadcaster Paris Lees, who topped The Independent’s Pink List, will be delivering the key note address.

While the first half will be a period to mourn, as the attendees remember the 238 trans people murdered in 2013, the second half will be a celebration of trans lives.

Trans musicians, poets and others will be entertaining the crowd, including Yui Karlberg and Naechané Valantino.

Natacha Kennedy, trans activist, told Gay Star News: ‘The reason we do this is because no one else does, and no one will remember their lives.

‘It’s about drawing the attention of the authorities and other organizations to this…

‘If we can start putting pressure on the governments like we are with Russia and the Sochi Olympics, then maybe we can stop them turning a blind eye to it.’

Kennedy will be speaking at the event, alongside Roz Kaveney and Jon Gierson.

This year, Brazil once again had the most murders with 95 trans people losing their lives.

Other countries include Mexico, with 40 deaths, United States, with 16, Venezuala with 15 and Colombia, with 12.

Continue reading at:  http://www.gaystarnews.com/article/london-pay-tribute-murdered-trans-victims191113

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What the National Organization for Marriage’s Shift to Trans-Bashing Means

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michelangelo-signorile/national-organization-for-marriage-trans-bashing_b_4255536.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices


The National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the leading force behind the now-failed effort to stop marriage equality, announced in September that it will be joining the ugly fight against a law passed in California to protect transgender children in schools from bullying and discrimination. The move is completely outside NOM’s claimed mission to “defend” marriage as an institution of “one man and one woman.” But it’s not a shocker. We’ve seen it all before among radical right groups hellbent on enforcing a religious agenda.

During the ’80s and early ’90s, amid the darkest years of the AIDS epidemic and well before the reality of marriage equality, conservative religious groups that were focused on battling against abortion rights would sometimes meet with limited success. The groups often shifted into gay-bashing campaigns (augmenting the work of lesser-known, diehard anti-gay activists) as a way to raise lots of money to re-energize their anti-abortion crusades. The Oregon Citizens Alliance (OCA), for example, got an initiative on the ballot in that state in 1990 to require parental notification for abortions by minors. It failed, and the OCA came back in 1992 with Measure 9, which would have had the Oregon Constitution deem “homosexuality, pedophilia, sadism and masochism as abnormal, wrong, unnatural, and perverse.”

That failed too, but not until after a long, brutal campaign punctuated by hate and violence in which the OCA and other groups raised a lot of money. The issue of gay and lesbian rights was always a cash cow, because there was much fear and misunderstanding about gays, a tiny and often invisible minority at the time. AIDS only exacerbated that, as the right exploited a panic over the epidemic and further stigmatized gays as diseased, dirty and disgusting. Radical right groups promoted fear and ignorance, putting money in their coffers for the larger ideological battles they were waging against women’s right to choose, secular society, free speech and what they saw as widespread sexual immorality — battles that have re-energized them over the years and which they are still waging, sometimes with alarming success (as evidenced by recent anti-abortion legislation in the states), using the Republican Party to do it.

Today, with Hawaii on the verge of becoming the 16th state to pass marriage equality, and with gays much more visible, conservative ideologues are having a harder time on the issue, including trying to raise money around it. But it doesn’t mean they’re any less ferociously focused on taking away the rights of gays — or women, or Muslims, or atheists or any other group that doesn’t fit their Christian theocratic worldview.

Enter transgender rights, the newest potential cash cow for the extremist right. NOM has joined the fight against a bill signed by Gov. Jerry Brown this year that allows trans students to define their genders themselves, choose which restroom they want to use and decide whether to play on girls’ sports teams or boys’ sports teams, in accordance with their gender identity. And this week, the California group attempting to repeal the law announced that it has enough signatures to bring the issue to the California ballot next year (though it’s not clear whether they actually have enough signatures), setting up a similar battle to that of Prop 8, which NOM helped pass. Frank Schubert, the strategist who exploited voters’ ignorance and irrational fears about gays and children to pass Prop 8 (and who crumbled under questioning when I interviewed him), is leading the effort.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michelangelo-signorile/national-organization-for-marriage-trans-bashing_b_4255536.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices

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Family Research Council relying on an outdated, flawed study to smear lgbt couples

From Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters:  http://holybulliesandheadlessmonsters.blogspot.com/2013/11/family-research-council-relying-on.html#.UoxGHOJ1Epn

Alvin McEwen
Monday, November 18, 2013

Reposted with Permission

It’s bizarre how certain things happen.

I was just looking on the Family Research Council webpage and I found the following statement:


Comparing the Lifestyles of Homosexual Couples to Married Couples

“Married and Gay Couples Not All that Different,” … (more)

So apparently on the FRC webpage, this study seems to be popular and that’s not necessarily a good thing because it is flawed on so many levels. The headline should give you an indication of one flaw, i.e. the comparison of  homosexual couples to married heterosexual couples.The study ignores the simple fact that lgbts can now marry in 15 states.   

Allow me to do a recap. Amongst the errors, Comparing the Lifestyles of Homosexual Couples to Married Couples contains:

– A citation of the book Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women by Alan Bell and Martin Weinberg as a correct generalization of lgbt sexual habits despite the fact that it was published in 1978 and was not meant by the authors to be a correct assessment of the lgbt community in general.  A passage from Homosexualities clearly says:

“. . . given the variety of circumstances which discourage homosexuals from participating in research studies, it is unlikely that any investigator will ever be in a position to say that this or that is true of a given percentage of all homosexuals.”

– A citation of the book The Male Couple: How Relationships Develop by David P. McWhirter and Andrew M. Mattison despite the fact that the book was written 1984 and was not meant to be a correct assessment of the lgbt community in general.  A passage from The Male Couple says:

“We always have been very careful to explain that the very nature of our research sample, its size (156 couples), its narrow geographic location, and the natural selectiveness of the participants prevents the findings from being applicable and generalizable to the entire gay
male community.”

In addition to outdated work, the study also distorts the work of researchers Timothy Biblarz and Judith Stacey to make the case against children being raised in lgbt homes.

Claims regarding the numbers of children being raised in homosexual and lesbian households vary widely and are often unsubstantiated. According to a study on homosexual parenting in the American Sociological Review, researchers have given figures “of uncertain origin, depicting a range of…6 to 14 million children of gay or lesbian parents in the United States.” According to the study’s authors, Judith Stacey and Timothy J. Biblarz, the higher estimates are based upon “classifying as a lesbigay [sic] parent anyone who reports that even the idea of homoerotic sex is appealing.” Instead, the authors favor a figure of about one million, which “derives from the narrower…definition of a lesbigay parent as one who self-identifies as such.”

However, FRC and Dailey conveniently fails to mention that Stacey and Biblarz’s study found:

. . . that lesbian and gay parents were as competent as heterosexual parents. The article did note some differences between families with gay and lesbian parents and those with heterosexual parents, but was careful to emphasize that these were differences, not deficits. Many of those opposing parenting rights for lesbian and gay people seized on these differences, using them to assert that gay and lesbian parents were not as effective as heterosexual parents.

Furthermore, during an interview with the organization Soulforce, Stacey complained about the distortion of her work:

“Significant, reliable social scientific evidence indicates that lesbian and gay parents are as fit, effective, and successful as heterosexual parents. The research also shows that children of same-sex couples are as emotionally healthy and socially adjusted and at least as educationally and socially successful as children raised by heterosexual parents.” Later in the interview she commented: “There is not a single, respectable social scientist conducting and publishing research in this area today who claims that gay and lesbian parents harm children.” She explained that the research does find some differences between families with gay and lesbian parents and those with heterosexual parents, but emphasized that they are differences, not deficits. For example, daughters of lesbian moms tend to be somewhat more career-oriented than other daughters. That anti-gay activists had cited these differences as evidence supporting their efforts to deny partnership and parenting rights to lesbians and gays was for Stacey “a serious misreading and abuse of our work.”

To give an exact impression of badly Dailey manipulates credible research in the study, one could take the examples he lists showing the so-called promiscuity of lgbt relationships as opposed to heterosexual marriages and compare them side by side.

Dailey claims that lgbt relationships are more promiscuous than heterosexual marriages. 
Dailey’s examples of married heterosexual couples:
 – A nationally representative survey of 884 men and 1,288 women published in the Journal of Sex Research in 1997 
 – Another 1997 national survey appearing in the Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States. 
  – A telephone survey conducted for Parade magazine of 1,049 adults selected to represent the demographic characteristics of the United States published in 1994.
 All of the couples listed in the above examples were married. 
The following are the examples Dailey used for lgbt couples:
  – A Dutch study of partnered gay men in the Netherlands that collected data between the years of 1984-2000 (same-sex marriage was legalized in the Netherlands in 2001).
  Homosexualities: A Study of Diversity Among Men and Women, a study of gay men in the city of San Francisco in the early 1970s. 
 – A study of the sexual profiles of 2,583 older homosexuals published in the Journal of Sex Research published in 1997. The study included homosexual men in other countries. More than three quarters of men were born in Australia or New Zealand (78.1%), a high number of the men were from United Kingdom or elsewhere in Europe (19.5%) and a small percentage of men surveyed were from other countries (Asia, Africa, Oceania, North, Central or South America—2.3%). 
 – A survey conducted by the gay magazine Genre. Dailey received the results from a web page with an anti-gay bias.(The Lambda Report was a publication founded by anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera in 1993.)
None of the gay couples were married and lesbian couples were omitted from every example.
I was surprised to see this study take such a prominent place on FRC’s webpage. It was my understanding that the organization had kept it shoddy research in the background in lieu of portraying itself and other groups like it as so-called victims of an “aggressive gay agenda.”
But with this flawed study taking a prominent place, it gives the lgbt community an opportunity to show what we and the Southern Poverty Law Center have been talking about when we describe FRC as a hate group.
FRC’s crap study is pseudo-scientific work not unlike the work which claims that African-Americans or women are inferior. I guess the difference is that neither racists nor misogynists have a Bible to hide their true motives behind.
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Oh, noes!!! Transgender teachers!

From Daily Kos:  http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/11/05/1253257/-Oh-noes-Transgender-teachers

Tue Nov 05, 2013

The Weekly Standard’s John McCormack couldn’t resist.  In the face of the Senate’s immanent passage of the Employment NonDiscrimination Act, McCormack stated the real concern:  ENDA Would Grant Transgender Rights to Elementary School Teachers…by which I believe he is concerned with the fact that transgender people might…just might…become elementary school teachers.

John, John, John, oh, John.  That boat left the dock decades ago.  Teaching is one of the foremost occupations that transgender people gravitate to in their lives before transitioning.

McCormack bemoans the numbers claimed by the Human Rights Campaign…that 88% of Fortune 500 companies have formal employment policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  McCormack even brings up the fact that Rick Santorum has a gay friend and confidante.

It’s hard to imagine that in the year 2013 that any business in the country could fire someone simply because he is gay without facing a major backlash and boycotts.

Transgender, on the other hand, is a different matter.

ENDA contains no exceptions for schools at any age level (though the law does contain a modest religious liberty provision).

Horrors!  Transgender teachers!  Run!

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GOP’s newest demented crusade: War on mothers

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2013/11/11/gops_newest_demented_crusade_war_on_mothers/

A Bush and Romney economic adviser compares having a baby with buying a Porsche. They can’t be this dumb, can they?

Monday, Nov 11, 2013

Conservatives continue to be outraged by the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that basic insurance policies cover maternity and newborn care. When Rep. Renee Ellmers, the chairwoman of the House GOP Women’s Policy Committee, asked Kathleen Sebelius “Has a man ever delivered a baby?” she was introducing her party’s best new argument against Obamacare. Forget “death panels”; now we have “birth panels,” which force Americans to pay for the continuation of the human species whether they want to or not.

You would think the supposedly “pro-life” party would be happy to put the power of the government behind keeping pregnant women and unborn babies safe and healthy. We should never let her lack of access to prenatal and newborn care make a woman decide abortion is a better choice, right?

Wrong. In fact, the right’s campaign against maternity coverage has only gotten more strident. Just Monday morning, Harvard economist and George W. Bush Council of Economic Advisors chair Greg Mankiw argued against such coverage with the worst analogy yet:

But having children is more a choice than a random act of nature. People who drive a new Porsche pay more for car insurance than those who drive an old Chevy. We consider that fair because which car you drive is a choice.  Why isn’t having children viewed in the same way?

Oh boy. Maybe Mankiw needs to read E. J. Dionne’s latest column, “What’s the Matter With Motherhood?” Dionne is a Catholic liberal with a long history of advocating that pro-choice liberals should try to find common ground with antiabortion folks on issues like maternal and child care, women, infants and children nutrition programs and other supports to make sure women are never forced to have an abortion for economic reasons. But in the last decade liberals can’t find conservatives in Congress to collaborate with on those issues.

Indeed, Dionne found that conservatives are tying themselves in knots arguing against the ACA’s maternity-coverage provisions. In the National Review, Deroy Murdoch takes a novel gay-rights approach. “How about lesbians who do not want kids, and are highly unlikely to become pregnant accidentally?” Is the National Review now going to champion the rights of lesbians? Don’t hold your breath.

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/11/11/gops_newest_demented_crusade_war_on_mothers/

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Elizabeth Warren: EXPAND Social Security benefits

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Border Patrol International: “The American Homeland Is the Planet”

From Truth Out:  http://truth-out.org/news/item/20144-border-patrol-international-the-american-homeland-is-the-planet

By Todd Miller
Tuesday, 19 November 2013

It isn’t exactly the towering 20-foot wall that runs like a scar through significant parts of the U.S.-Mexican borderlands. Imagine instead the sort of metal police barricades you see at protests. These are unevenly lined up like so many crooked teeth on the Dominican Republic’s side of the river that acts as its border with Haiti. Like dazed versions of U.S. Border Patrol agents, the armed Dominican border guards sit at their assigned posts, staring at the opposite shore.  There, on Haitian territory, children splash in the water and women wash clothes on rocks.

One of those CESFRONT (Specialized Border Security Corps) guards, carrying an assault rifle, is walking six young Haitian men back to the main base in Dajabon, which is painted desert camouflage as if it were in a Middle Eastern war zone.

If the scene looks like a five-and-dime version of what happens on the U.S. southern border, that’s because it is. The enforcement model the Dominican Republic uses to police its boundary with Haiti is an import from the United States.

CESFRONT itself is, in fact, an outgrowth of a U.S. effort to promote “strong borders” abroad as part of its Global War on Terror.  So U.S. Consul-General Michael Schimmel told a group from the Columbia Law School Human Rights Clinic in the Dominican Republic back in 2008, according to an internal report written by the law students along with the Dominican immigrant solidarity organization Solidaridad Fronteriza. The U.S. military, he added, was training the Dominican border patrol in “professionalism.”

Schimmel was explaining an overlooked manifestation of U.S. imperial policy in the post-9/11 era.  Militarized borders are becoming ever more common throughout the world, especially in areas of U.S. influence.

CESFRONT’s Dajabon commander is Colonel Juan de Jesus Cruz, a stout, Napoleonic figure with a booming voice. Watching the colonel interact with those detained Haitian teenagers was my first brush with how Washington’s “strong borders” abroad policy plays out on the ground. The CESFRONT base in Dajabon is located near the Massacre River that divides the two countries.  Its name is a grim reminder of a time in 1937 when Dominican forces slaughtered an estimated 20,000 Haitians in what has been called the “twentieth century’s least-remembered act of genocide.” That act ensured the imposition of a 227-mile boundary between the two countries that share the same island.

As rain falls and the sky growls, Cruz points to the drenched young Haitians and says a single word, “ilegales,” his index finger hovering in the air.  The word “illegals” doesn’t settle well with one of the teenagers, who glares at the colonel and replies defiantly, “We have come because of hunger.”

Continue reading at:  http://truth-out.org/news/item/20144-border-patrol-international-the-american-homeland-is-the-planet

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The rise of the far right: a European problem requiring European solutions

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/15/far-right-rise-european-marine-le-pen-geert-wilders

As Marine Le Pen and Geert Wilders unite to wreck the EU, the left must fight for its alternative to economic stagnation at a European level

The Guardian, Friday 15 November 2013

In the years since the global banking crisis in 2007, commentators across the political spectrum have confidently predicted not only the imminent collapse of the euro – but sooner or later an unavoidable implosion of the European Union itself. None of this has come to pass. But the “European Project”, launched after the devastation of the second world war, now faces the most serious threat in its history. That threat was chillingly prefigured this week in the launch of a pan-European alliance of far-right parties, led by the French National Front and the Dutch Party of Liberty headed by Geert Wilders, and vowing to slay “the monster in Brussels”..

Of course, the growth in support for far-right populist, anti-European, anti-immigrant parties has been force-fed by the worst world recession since at least the 1930s and possibly since before 1914. Mass unemployment and falling living standards in the euro-area and the wider EU made worse by the crazy and self-defeating austerity obsession of European leaders has opened the door to the revival of the far right.

Parties that skulked in the shadows for decades after 1945, playing down their sympathies with fascism and Nazism are now re-emerging having given themselves a PR facelift. Marine Le Pen, leader of the French NF, plays down the antisemitic record of her party..

The Dutch far-right leader has ploughed a slightly different furrow – mobilising fear and hostility not against Jews but rather Muslim immigrants in the Netherlands. Like Marine Le Pen, Wilders obsessively focuses on the alleged cosmopolitan threat to national identity from the European Union. It is a chorus echoed in other European countries by the Danish People’s party, the Finns party and the Flemish Vlaams Belang among others.

For now, the French and Dutch populists are carefully keeping their distance from openly neo-Nazi parties such as Golden Dawn – whose paramilitary Sturmabteilung – have terrorised refugees and immigrants in Greece, and the swaggering Hungarian Jobbik, who terrorise the Roma minority. For now, our own Ukip is tactically keeping its distance from the new European far-right alliance while whispering a similar story about “east European immigrants”.

Ridiculous comparisons have been drawn by some commentators between the rise of the populist far right and the growth of the radical left – notably the Syriza party in Greece, which has pushed for a reverse of austerity crisis policies, both in Greece and throughout Europe. In fact, Syriza represents the main challenge to Golden Dawn’s offensive. Moreover, while the Italian Northern League may be drawn to the far-right alliance, the bulk of the semi-anarchist followers of the comedian Beppe Grillo in the Italian parliament are anti-fascist and unlikely to take the same path.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/15/far-right-rise-european-marine-le-pen-geert-wilders

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The Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty is the complete opposite of ‘free trade’

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/19/trans-pacific-partnership-corporate-usurp-congress

The TPP would strip our constitutional rights, while offering no gains for the majority of Americans. It’s a win for corporations

theguardian.com, Tuesday 19 November 2013

The proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement among 12 governments, touted as one of the largest “free trade” agreements in US history, is running into difficulties as the public learns more about it. Last week 151 Democrats and 23 Republicans (pdf) in the House of Representatives signed letters to the US chief negotiators expressing opposition to a “fast track” procedure for voting on the proposed agreement. This procedure would limit the congressional role and debate over an agreement already negotiated and signed by the executive branch, which the Congress would have to vote up or down without amendments.

Most Americans couldn’t tell you what “fast track” means, but if they knew what it entails they would certainly be against it. As one of the country’s leading trade law experts and probably the foremost authority on Fast Track, Lori Wallach of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, put it:

[Fast track] authorized executive-branch officials to set US policy on non-tariff, and indeed not-trade, issues in the context of ‘trade’ negotiations.

This means that fast track, which first began under Nixon in 1974, was not only a usurpation of the US Congressconstitutional authority “to regulate commerce with foreign nations”.

It also gave the executive branch – which is generally much less accountable to public pressure than the Congress – a means of negating and pre-empting important legislation by our elected representatives. Laws to protect the environment, food safety, consumers (from monopoly pricing), and other public interest concerns can now be traded away in “trade” negotiations. And US law must be made to conform to the treaty.

How ironic that this massive transfer of power to special-interests such as giant pharmaceutical or financial corporations has been sold to the press as a means of holding “special interest” groups – who might oppose tariff reductions that harm them but are good for everyone else – in check.

But the TPP and its promoters are full to the brim with ironies. It is quite amazing that a treaty like the TPP can still be promoted as a “free trade” agreement when its most economically important provisions are the exact opposite of “free trade” – the expansion of protectionism.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/19/trans-pacific-partnership-corporate-usurp-congress

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We Are in the Midst of Defeating the Largest Corporate Trade Agreement in History

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/activism/awakening-mass-political-consciousness-happening-and-corporate-elites-arent-able-put-stop

The awakening of mass political consciousness is happening, and corporate elites can’t do a thing to stop it.

By Margaret Flowers, Kevin Zeese
November 15, 2013

These are times of great secrecy and misinformation. Government and corporations hide their actions to avoid public disapproval and accountability. Courageous truth-tellers are persecuted for exposing the deep corruption. We depend on whistleblowers to expose the lies and shine light on information that is hidden from the public so we can understand what is happening around us. We need to know the truth in order to participate in the great debates that shape our futures.

This week, we learned that a brave whistleblower gave the text of the full intellectual property chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to Wikileaks. This  text was released to the public on Wednesday and has spurred quite a stir as we discover that our concerns about the TPP are justified. We learned that the United States stands out in bullying other countries on behalf of multinational corporations and that the TPP will provide extraordinary patent protections and internet restrictions designed to further enrich the wealthy while the race to the bottom accelerates.

A confluence of events this week has weakened the chances of the TPP’s survival. On Tuesday night, there were  light brigade actions in 13 cities from coast to coast. And  three letters signed by 180 members of the House of Representatives were submitted in opposition to the President’s request for Fast Track, an authority that would allow him to negotiate and sign the TPP before it would go to Congress for limited debate and only an up-or-down vote. Two letters were signed by Democrats, another by Republicans. Three-quarters of Democrats oppose Fast Track and one-third of Democrats on the committee responsible for Fast Track oppose it as currently constituted. The former US Trade Representative said in 2012 that to complete the TPP “ We’ve go to have it.”  Now, Congress will not consider Fast Track until the do-nothing election year of 2014, if even then.

Opposition to the TPP continues to build. Next week, negotiators will be in Salt Lake City, UT and  actions are being planned to protest those meetings. Communities are starting to pass resolutions saying that they will not obey if the TPP changes laws in a way that harms them. You can learn more about this on an  open training call on November 20. A  global day of protest against toxic trade agreements is being organized for December 3. And that same day,  two members of the Australian Parliament will submit a request that the text of the TPP be made public.

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/activism/awakening-mass-political-consciousness-happening-and-corporate-elites-arent-able-put-stop

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Celebrities Ask President Obama: What the Frack?

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Our Response Plan For Oil Spills Isn’t Working

From In These Times:  http://inthesetimes.com/article/15841/sickness_after_the_mayflower_oil_spill

We know how to sponge oil off pelicans. But when it comes to human health, we’re alarmingly clueless.

BY Brad Jacobson
November 12, 2013

More than 2.6 million miles of oil and gas pipelines currently snake through the U.S., overseen by only 135 inspectors from the Transportation Department’s regulatory agency—a safety system the top pipeline safety official recently described as “kind of dying.” That’s particularly alarming considering plans for new pipelines such as the Keystone XL, which, if approved, will increase the mileage of oil-bearing pipes in the U.S. by 1,700 miles and carry millions of gallons of particularly toxic tar sands oil right through the heartland of America. A spate of U.S. pipeline ruptures in recent years underscores how ill-prepared we are to address the health needs of residents following oil spills, and how poorly we document the health impacts so as to develop better responses to future spills.

When ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline ruptured last March and flooded a Mayflower, Ark., neighborhood with an estimated 210,000 gallons of heavy crude oil, our National Contingency Plan (NCP) for responding to hazardous substances, including oil spills, was set into motion.

In a nutshell, this is how the plan operates: The company that spilled the oil works with federal, state and local agencies to stanch the flow, and then eventually begins the daunting task of cleaning up the mess. All parties work in concert to monitor air and water quality, which is supposed to limit residents’ exposure to toxic and carcinogenic chemicals found in the oil. The Environmental Protection Agency is the official on-scene coordinator for inland areas, the Coast Guard for coastal or major navigable waterways.

You may notice what’s missing from this plan: what happens when people actually get sick. The plan doesn’t prioritize responding to the acute, chronic and long-term medical health of exposed local populations—including prompt screening for baseline signs of disease, which public health experts say is crucial for both proper medical treatment and effective research on human health effects. That’s left largely up to state and local agencies, which invariably don’t have the expertise or the resources to adequately carry out the task. So in spill after spill, emergency responses vary, citizens often suffer the health consequences with little or no recourse, and there continues to be a dearth of data on the health impacts.

Public health experts with experience in oil spill response who spoke with In These Times stressed the need for the NCP to utilize the type of specialized medical teams that are sent to areas during such disasters as catastrophic storms or infectious disease outbreaks.

Continue reading at:  http://inthesetimes.com/article/15841/sickness_after_the_mayflower_oil_spill

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Guessing at Failure: On Climate Change, Nuclear Disaster, and Geoengineering

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/11/19

Continuing to burn fossil fuels is certain disaster, but rapid expansion of nuclear power is no solution

On November third James Hansen joined other scientists in signing an open letter addressed to environmental organizations urging them to demonstrate “real concern about risks from climate damage by calling for the development and deployment of advanced nuclear energy.”

Like Hansen and some notable long-time environmentalists who have recently come out in support of nukes, I am desperate. I am desperate because, like them, I know we we have very little time left to pull off the greatest technological “re-boot” in human history, turning global fossil-fuel-istan into global renew-conserve-istan before it is too late. That is why I recently sent my own open letter to those in the climate justice movement who argue that green capitalism is an oxymoron and climate change can only be solved by economic system change. In my view those who argue that greener capitalism is a false hope and not worth pursuing have no sense of time. They have no sense of how fast irreversible climate change is coming compared to how fast we can marshal support for economic system change. However, I find it sad that people like Hansen are caving on nukes when we do not need dangerous or new technologies to solve the problem.

The problem with geoengineering schemes like pumping sulphur dioxide aerosols into the atmosphere or fertilizing the ocean with iron filings is that they are unproven and highly risky. And if history is any guide regarding small scale human ecological experimentation, we should anticipate that an attempt to prevent climate change through geoengineering on a global scale may well have disastrous unforeseen consequences. In all likelihood focusing on geoengineering schemes will prove fruitless and only distract us from getting on with mundane solutions we know will work.

However, unlike geoengineering proposals where long-run consequences are highly unpredictable, the long-run consequences of making the global energy system fully nuclear is predictable. Where geoengineering schemes pose unknown dangers, we know very well what dangers lurk if we fully embrace a nuclear future. Just ask the residents near Fukishima. Nukes are the epitome of the present generation going easy on itself by refusing to solve a problem it could solve by safe means today, and instead kicking disaster down the road onto our children or grandchildren. Of course it is also a way for major international corporations to turn a crisis largely of their making into a new source of bloated profits at public expense. If this were not the case it is hard to imagine that a “nuclear solution” would even be discussed.

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/11/19

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McDonald’s Closing All Restaurants In Bolivia As Nation Rejects Fast Food

From Get Holistic Health:  http://www.getholistichealth.com/38160/mcdonalds-closing-all-restaurants-in-bolivia-as-nation-rejects-fast-food/

by: Lance Johnson
Nov 17, 2013


(NaturalNews) McDonald’s happy image and its golden arches aren’t the gateway to bliss in Bolivia. This South American country isn’t falling for the barrage of advertising and fast food cooking methods that so easily engulf countries like the United States. Bolivians simply don’t trust food prepared in such little time. The quick and easy, mass production method of fast food actually turns Bolivians off altogether. Sixty percent of Bolivians are an indigenous population who generally don’t find it worth their health or money to step foot in a McDonald’s. Despite its economically friendly fast food prices, McDonald’s couldn’t coax enough of the indigenous population of Bolivia to eat their BigMacs, McNuggets or McRibs.

One indigenous woman, Esther Choque, waiting for a bus to arrive outside a McDonald’s restaurant, said, “The closest I ever came was one day when a rain shower fell and I climbed the steps to keep dry by the door. Then they came out and shooed me away. They said I was dirtying the place. Why would I care if McDonald’s leaves [Bolivia]?”

The eight remaining McDonald’s fast food shops that stuck it out in the Bolivian city’s of La Paz, Cochabamba, and Santa Cruz de la Sierra, had reportedly operated on losses every year for a decade. The McDonald’s franchise had been persistent over that time, flexing its franchise’s deep pockets to continue business in Bolivia.

Any small business operating in the red for that long would have folded and left the area in less than half that time. Even as persistent as McDonald’s was in gaining influence there, it couldn’t continue operating in the red. After 14 years of presence in the country, their extensive network couldn’t hold up the Bolivian chain. Store after store shut down as Bolivia rejected the McDonald’s fast food agenda. Soon enough, they kissed the last McDonald’s goodbye.

Continue reading at: http://www.getholistichealth.com/38160/mcdonalds-closing-all-restaurants-in-bolivia-as-nation-rejects-fast-food/

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Fracking Unfocus: How the EPA’s Long-Awaited Hydraulic Fracturing Study Could Miss the Mark

From Truth Out:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/20039-fracking-unfocus-how-the-epas-long-awaited-hydraulic-fracturing-study-could-miss-the-mark

By Roger Drouin
Monday, 18 November 2013

The fracking rush will boom for at least two more years before a long-awaited EPA study probing the industry’s dangers posed to drinking water will be completed.

That’s too long for states like Pennsylvania to wait, says Steve Hvozdovich, Marcellus Shale coordinator with Clean Water Action Pennsylvania and one of a growing group of environmental advocates and chemical scientists who now worry the study will fall short on several fronts.

“We have to wait two years for the study to come out, and another year for a review,” Hvozdovich said. “Three years is a long time for states like Pennsylvania, who are dealing with the impacts of gas drilling every day, to get some help from the federal government.”

The study will examine the impact of chemicals injected deep into the Earth during the full water cycle in hydraulic fracturing – an industry that is largely exempt from federal regulation.

Yet Hvozdovich is concerned the study relies too much on data provided by oil and gas companies, that it ignores possible air pollution and that it will not include specific recommendations aimed at preventing water contamination. The biggest concern, however, is that the study’s conclusions will be too little, too late after a two-year delay, announced by an EPA official in June 2013.

The EPA’s delay in the national study – combined with the agency’s recent decision to abandon an investigation that linked fracking chemicals with groundwater contamination in Pavilion, Wyo. – raises the question “of whether there is a serious commitment to doing something about water contamination issues having to do with natural-gas fracking,” Hvozdovich said.

In 2010, Congress ordered the EPA to look into the dangers posed to drinking water sources by hydraulic fracturing. It was viewed as an ambitious study, designed to inform policymakers and bring legislative changes.

The research was expected to be completed in 2014. Then in 2013, in an announcement that was overlooked by most media outlets, EPA officials delayedthe study until 2016.

Continue reading at:  http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/20039-fracking-unfocus-how-the-epas-long-awaited-hydraulic-fracturing-study-could-miss-the-mark

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‘Who Rules the World? Fossil Fuel Industry or the People?’

From Common Dreams:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/11/18-0

Global coal conference targeted by climate activists in Warsaw

Jon Queally

As the COP19 UN climate conference entered its second week in Warsaw, Poland on Monday, a global coal conference that kicked off just down the road was met with protest by environmental activists upset with the high-profile presence of the very industry they say is largely driving the global warming crisis.

As dawn broke over the city, an international team of Greenpeace campaigners representing at least twenty countries took to the roof of the government’s finance ministry building in order to hang a larger banner that read: “Who rules the World? Fossil Industry or the people?” Above the banner, the activists displayed flags from the US, Canada, Germany, Brazil, Australia and many other countries.

“Hosting a PR event for the coal industry during a climate conference is a slap in the face to all the people suffering from the catastrophic impacts of climate change,” declared Martin Kaiser, Head of the COP19 Delegation for Greenpeace International, in a statement. “New investments in fossil fuels, like coal and oil, need to be stopped and transferred into renewable energy.”

Polish members of Greenpeace dropped a second banner in protest of their own government’s decision to allow the coal conference to take place alongside the COP19 summit. Carrying a similar message, their banner read: ““Who rules the Poland? The Coal Industry or the people?” Poland continues to be Europe’s leading consumer of coal despite repeated warnings about its destructive climate impact.

“Politicians are elected to stand up for the will of the people, not for the financial interests of an aging, dirty coal industry,” said Maciej Muskat, Director of Greenpeace Poland. “Prime Minister Tusk must listen to the people and initiate a shift towards renewable energies.”

As the banner dropped, other protesters gathered below calling it a sham to allow coal corporations and other industry lobbyists to continue their push to extract and burn more carbon-based fuels while the planet’s atmosphere and oceans are quickly deteriorating from humanity’s over-consumption of fossil fuels.

Agence France-Presse adds:

Continue reading at:  http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/11/18-0

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