Friday Night Fun and Culture: Kaki King

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Christo-Nazi Hate Monger Robert Jeffress On Texas Marriage Ruling: ‘No Nation Can Survive That Condones What God Has Condemned’

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Exxon CEO Comes Out Against Fracking Project Because It Will Affect His Property Values

From Think Progress:

By Rebecca Leber
on February 21, 2014

As ExxonMobil’s CEO, it’s Rex Tillerson’s job to promote the hydraulic fracturing enabling the recent oil and gas boom, and fight regulatory oversight. The oil company is the biggest natural gas producer in the U.S., relying on the controversial drilling technology to extract it.

The exception is when Tillerson’s $5 million property value might be harmed. Tillerson has joined a lawsuit that cites fracking’s consequences in order to block the construction of a 160-foot water tower next to his and his wife’s Texas home.

The Wall Street Journal reports the tower would supply water to a nearby fracking site, and the plaintiffs argue the project would cause too much noise and traffic from hauling the water from the tower to the drilling site. The water tower, owned by Cross Timbers Water Supply Corporation, “will sell water to oil and gas explorers for fracing [sic] shale formations leading to traffic with heavy trucks on FM 407, creating a noise nuisance and traffic hazards,” the suit says.

Though Tillerson’s name is on the lawsuit, a lawyer representing him said his concern is about the devaluation of his property, not fracking specifically.

When he is acting as Exxon CEO, not a homeowner, Tillerson has lashed out at fracking critics and proponents of regulation. “This type of dysfunctional regulation is holding back the American economic recovery, growth, and global competitiveness,” he said in 2012. Natural gas production “is an old technology just being applied, integrated with some new technologies,” he said in another interview. “So the risks are very manageable.”

In shale regions, less wealthy residents have protested fracking development for impacts more consequential than noise, including water contamination and cancer risk. Exxon’s oil and gas operations and the resulting spills not only sinks property values, but the spills have leveled homes and destroyed regions.

Exxon, which pays Tillerson a total $40.3 million, is staying out of the legal tangle. A spokesperson told the WSJ it “has no involvement in the legal matter.”

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D.C. mayor to announce trans health insurance policy

From The Washington Blade:

on February 26, 2014

Mayor Vincent Gray is scheduled to announce on Thursday new steps the city plans to take to protect the transgender community from discrimination in health care, according to a statement released by the mayor’s office on Wednesday.

“Transgender individuals have historically been denied [health insurance] coverage for certain medically necessary health-care procedures,” the statement said. “This has resulted in a denial of benefits for some individuals because their gender identity or expression is different from their assigned sex at birth. The mayor and other District officials will clarify the District’s position regarding this issue,” the statement said.

The Blade will have coverage of the mayor’s action Thursday.

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Spike Lee’s epic anti-gentrification speech

From Salon:

“You can’t just come in the neighborhood like you’re Columbus and kill off the Native Americans”

Wednesday, Feb 26, 2014

Filmmaker Spike Lee has never been one to hold back his feelings. This, after all, is a man who’s compared Tyler Perry to Amos n’ Andy and said that Clint Eastwood ought to have an encounter “with a .44 Bulldog.” And at an African American History Month lecture at Pratt Institute Tuesday evening, he had some strong words for the mostly local crowd, this time about “the other side” of gentrification. His response to an audience member who brought it up: “Let me just kill you right now.”

Lee, who’s been famed for his explorations of class tensions and community ever since his groundbreaking 1989 “Do the Right Thing,” went on to expound about “some bullshit article in the New York Times saying ‘the good of gentrification.’” As Joe Coscarelli reports Wednesday in New York, Spike told the crowd, “I don’t believe that” before launching into an expletive-laced seven-minute discourse on the G-word.

“I grew up here in Fort Greene,” he explained. “I grew up here in New York. It’s changed. And why does it take an influx of white New Yorkers in the south Bronx, in Harlem, in Bed-Stuy, in Crown Heights for the facilities to get better? The garbage wasn’t picked up every motherfuckin’ day when I was living in 165 Washington Park … The police weren’t around. When you see white mothers pushing their babies in strollers, three o’clock in the morning on 125th Street, that must tell you something.”

But what, exactly, does it tell you? Earlier this month, the reliably rage-inducing Times Real Estate section ran a piece on the controversial “Case for and Against a Bed-Stuy Historic District,” a piece on what’s still one of the most dangerous, crime-riddled neighborhoods in New York City that came replete with dainty captions like “In Bed-Stuy, many a playful turret is to be found.” And New York magazine recently asked, “Is Gentrification All Bad?” in a story that focused heavily on the “Dickensian juxtapositions” of changing lower-class New York neighborhoods like Inwood, where I’ve lived for the past eight years. My family and I moved here when we were squeezed out of our old, insanely gentrifying neighborhood in – where else? – Brooklyn. Now Inwood has become the subject of much of the recent conversation around gentrification. The Wall Street Journal sat up and took notice last month when the mostly Dominican area got its very first Starbucks — where it naturally began offering overpriced, “exclusive” café con leche.

With his trademark passion and irritability, Lee made strong points Tuesday night about the exasperation felt by long-term residents when newcomers arrive with an inflated sense of entitlement. “The motherfuckin’ people moved in last year,” Lee said, “and called the cops on my father. He doesn’t even play electric bass! It’s acoustic!” And he certainly can’t be argued with regarding his questions over “Why did it take this great influx of white people to get the schools better? Why’s there more police protection in Bed-Stuy and Harlem now? Why’s the garbage getting picked up more regularly? We been here!”

Yet in Lee’s eagerness to be enraged, he glosses over the profound complexities of neighborhood flux. He rather dramatically announces that “You can’t just come in the neighborhood and start bogarting and say, like you’re motherfuckin’ Columbus and kill off the Native Americans. Or what they do in Brazil, what they did to the indigenous people.” The opening of a Connecticut Muffin shop is not now nor ever will be akin to genocide. And Lee can rail about “the white people” moving in, but that simplistic breakdown ignores issues of income and class.

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Texas Judge Strikes Down Marriage Ban

From The Advocate:

A federal judge today rules Texas’s marriage ban unconstitutional.

BY Michelle Garcia
February 26 2014

A federal judge today struck down Texas’s law banning same-sex marriage.

District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled that the U.S. Supreme Court’s rulings on marriage last summer trumps Texas’s state constitutional amendment, which voters overwhelmingly approved in 2005.

“Today’s court decision is not made in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedent,” he said in his order, The Dallas Morning News reports. “Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our U.S. Constitution.” The ruling came in a lawsuit filed by two couples, Cleo DeLeon and Nicole Dimetman, and Victor Holmes and Mark Phariss.

Garcia stayed his ruling from taking effect until the case goes through the appeal process, so same-sex couples in Texas cannot being marrying immediately. He said the case would probably be one of 23 other pending state-level marriage cases that head would head to the Supreme Court for a ruling.  

According to the report, Texas attorney general and gubernatorial hopeful Greg Abbott is likely to appeal the ruling. Abbott strongly opposes marriage equality, as does the other four Republicans who are running against him in the primary election.

The ruling is stayed, pending appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, so same-sex couples will still be unable to marry in Texas. But Rebecca L. Robertson, legal and policy director of the ACLU of Texas, says the ruling is still one step closer to the “inevitable end of official discrimination by the state of Texas. Gay and lesbian couples want the same thing as other loving couples — to stand before family and friends and declare their lifetime commitment to each other, and to enjoy the same recognition and protection for their families that only marriage can bring. We applaud the judge’s preliminary ruling, but we also recognize that there is a great deal of hard work to do to bring full equality to every Texan.”

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It’s Time to End the Long History of Feminism Failing Transgender Women

From Bitch Magazine:

by Tina Vasquez
on February 17, 2014

In August, a doctor in Toronto received an unexpected email.

It was from a stranger in Maryland, telling the doctor that one of the transgender patients whose care he was overseeing “regularly attacks women on social media who have a lesbian feminist polititical [sic] opinion. That is, he harasses us and establishes fake Twitter accounts to harass us… Query whether this is the kind of experience one must have to ‘live as a woman.’ – you bully other women?”

The clinic supervisor quickly wrote back, “Please be aware that our centre finds this email in violation of ethical practice, our anti-oppression principles, and offensive to trans* persons.”

That email came from Cathy Brennan, an attorney, radical feminist, and lesbian activist who is well known for her beliefs that transgender women should be considered men. In the name of feminism, Brennan has advocated against a UN policy that aims to protect transgender people from discrimination.

The Canadian patient, Emily Horsman, had been sparring with Brennan on Twitter, mocking and publicly questioning Brennan’s brand of feminism, and even setting up a Cathy Brennan parody account. In recent years, Brennan has become known for taking online arguments into real-world territory. She has contacted a trans woman’s employer, posted the OK Cupid dating profiles of trans women, and contacted the mother of an outspoken supporter of transgender issues.

“There’s something about Internet culture where everyone thinks everything they post just exists in this Internet bubble,” Brennan explained to the website Bustle in a recent interview. “And I’m not of that generation. If you are going to send me abuse, I am going to find out who you are.”

The people who are affected by Brennan’s activism clearly disagree.

“This kind of conduct is incredibly dangerous to trans women,” Horsman says. “We are a very marginalized minority and violence occurs to us constantly. Outing us in a workplace or school environment could easily damage our future and put us at risk for physical violence.” Horsman made the email to her doctor public because she believes “Brennan stepped past a boundary that even other radical feminists think is rash.”

The marginalization of transgender women in feminism is not new, but the decades-long debate has taken on new dimension thanks to social media and the ease of finding strangers’ personal information online.

In her 2013 article “Unpacking Transphobia in Feminism” on the website The TransAdvocate, writer Emma Allen explained that radical feminists such as Brennan assert that trans women are a problem because they perpetuate the idea that “gender roles are biologically determined rather than socially constructed” is the antithesis of feminism. “Radical feminists claim that gender oppression can only be abolished by getting rid of the whole concept of gender and they view transgender people as a threat to that ideal,” Allen wrote.

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