How have these corporations colonised our public life?

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/08/corporations-public-life-unilever

Our politicians have delegated power to global giants engineering a world of conformity and consumerism


The Guardian, Monday 7 April 2014

How do you engineer a bland, depoliticised world, a consensus built around consumption and endless growth, a dream world of materialism and debt and atomisation, in which all relations can be prefixed with a dollar sign, in which we cease to fight for change? You delegate your powers to companies whose profits depend on this model.

Power is shifting: to places in which we have no voice or vote. Domestic policies are forged by special advisers and spin doctors, by panels and advisory committees stuffed with lobbyists. The self-hating state withdraws its own authority to regulate and direct. Simultaneously, the democratic vacuum at the heart of global governance is being filled, without anything resembling consent, by international bureaucrats and corporate executives. The NGOs permitted – often as an afterthought – to join them intelligibly represent neither civil society nor electorates. (And please spare me that guff about consumer democracy or shareholder democracy: in both cases some people have more votes than others, and those with the most votes are the least inclined to press for change.)

To me, the giant consumer goods company Unilever, with which I clashed over the issue of palm oil a few days ago, symbolises these shifting relationships. I can think of no entity that has done more to blur the lines between the role of the private sector and the role of the public sector. If you blotted out its name while reading its web pages, you could mistake it for an agency of the United Nations.

It seems to have representation almost everywhere. Its people inhabit (to name a few) the British government’s Ecosystem Markets Task Force and Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, the World Food Programme, the Global Green Growth Forum, the UN’s Scaling Up Nutrition programme, its Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Global Compact and the UN High Level Panel on global development.

Sometimes Unilever uses this power well. Its efforts to reduce its own use of energy and water and its production of waste, and to project these changes beyond its own walls, look credible and impressive. Sometimes its initiatives look to me like self-serving bullshit.

Its “Dove self-esteem project”, for instance, claims to be “helping millions of young people to improve their self-esteem through educational programmes”. One of its educational videos maintains that beauty “couldn’t be more critical to your happiness“, which is surely the belief that trashes young people’s self-esteem in the first place. But of course you can recover it by plastering yourself with Dove-branded gloop: Unilever reports that 82% of women in Canada who are aware of its project “would be more likely to purchase Dove“.

Continue reading at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/apr/08/corporations-public-life-unilever

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Florida City About To Make It Illegal For Homeless People To Have Possessions In Public

From Think Progress:  http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/04/21/3428899/fort-lauderdale-criminalize-homelessness/

By Scott Keyes
April 21, 2014

A backpack. Spare clothes. A notebook. Some keepsake photos. Crackers.

Though they may not have a home in which to secure their stuff, homeless people still have possessions like everyone else.

Yet the city of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida is on the cusp of passing a new regulation that would make it illegal for anyone to store their personal things on public property. Specifically, it would empower police to confiscate any personal possessions stored on public property, provided they have given the homeless person 24-hours notice. If the homeless people wish to retrieve their items, they must pay the city “reasonable charges for storage and removal of the items,” though that fee is waived if the person is able to demonstrate he or she cannot afford to pay. The city may dispose of any possessions not retrieved within 30 days. One of the driving factors behind the measure, according to the legislation, is the city’s “interest in aesthetics.”

Last week, the City Commission gave unanimous preliminary approval to the measure, despite overwhelming opposition from local residents who testified.

One woman, Gazol Tajalli, told Commissioners that is “insanity that we are even here discussing whether an individual can put on the ground the few objects that they own.” Another citizen, Rev. Gail Tapscott of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ft. Lauderdale, criticized some of the Commissioners for “demoniz[ing]” the homeless.

Maria Foscarinis, Executive Director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, chastised Ft. Lauderdale’s approach. “Maintaining city streets is a legitimate concern, but simply punishing homeless people for leaving their possessions in public places is not an effective or humane way to address it,” she told ThinkProgress. “Instead, city and business leaders should work with advocates and homeless people to develop alternative short and long term solutions, such as public storage options for homeless people and affordable housing.”

According to the Sun Sentinel, “The commission’s actions were backed by business leaders who said they were looking for some controls on a situation that scares away customers and makes visitors uncomfortable.” The commission is also considering other initiatives targeting the homeless, including stiffer penalties for urinating or defecating in public, prohibitions on panhandling at intersections or sleeping in public, and restrictions on charity groups that hand out food to the homeless.

Continue reading at:  http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/04/21/3428899/fort-lauderdale-criminalize-homelessness/

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I Just love the David Barton Like Approach to Transgender History That Operates on Virginia Prince Myth Rather Than the Lives of Actual Transsexual Women and Men

Recently Calpernia Addams and Andrea James have discovered what it feels like when the myth lovers of the Transgender Borg declare you obsolete.

It is sort of like a right of passage into post-transsexual status.

The Community of all knowing Newbies have pronounced, “That was then, this is Now.”

Then they proceed to whip out Virginia Prince generated stereotypes of what transsexuals were supposed to be like if they were actually women.

Thing is from Christine Jorgensen and Roberta Cowell forward damned few transsexual women and men fit the stereotypes that Virginia Prince and followers tried to foist upon us.

Further if you look in the early medical books regarding transsexualism you will find how big a role the Prince of many names played in the creation of this mythology.

When I read something like the piece in Huffington Post: Parker Molloy Does Not Hate RuPaul I am forced to speak out against the perpetuation of mythology worthy of the David Barton medal of historical lies and distortion.

Recently a public dispute erupted between the transgender old guard and the new wave of trans* advocates and journalists. This kind of thing is not new. When I was a young transgender woman coming to terms with my own gender identity, I recall vividly how many transsexuals found it offensive to be lumped in with crossdressers and gender queer individuals. I don’t think I quite understood the concept yet of “transsexual separatists,” but I often heard women speak about the differences between transsexuals and transgender people. Most of the transsexual women I knew had gone to Trinidad, Colo., in the 1970s and had received what was then called a “sex change operation.” These women were students of Dr. Harry Benjamin and had been convinced that once they had physically transitioned they must join “straight” society and then marry and live obscure lives in the suburbs.

I must be clear here when I tell you that Benjamin was a pioneer in recognizing that trans* people deserved the best medical care known to him at that time. From all accounts he was a doctor who understood that people presenting as gender-variant required a doctor to oversee their transition. On the other hand, Dr. Benjamin still did not understand that gender is not binary and in many instances, he pushed patients to learn to be attracted to members of the opposite sex. These were the very early days of gender confirmation in the United States.

Over the course of the following 50 to 60 years, much has been learned about the spectrum in which gender lies. The purpose of mentioning the early days of the transgender moment is that it directly connects to what our community is presently experiencing.

First bit of mythology and total bullshit (These women were students of Dr. Harry Benjamin)

I first came out to my parents in 1962, they had discovered a bunch of clippings from a tabloid featuring April Ashley’s life story including transition and sex change operation.  They asked me if that was what I wanted to be.  I said, “That’s what I am.”

When I came out in 1969 I was in the Bay Area and a number of sisters had laid the ground work, there were doctors at a public health clinic they had educated as to our needs.

There were a number of places we could get our sex change operations.

I was a left wing hippie radical in Berkeley at the time, aiding deserters and draft evaders.  I was afraid of the Tenderloin and never went there.  My friends were other left wing hippies.

Later I became involved with the National Transsexual Counseling Unit.  I taught doctors and others about transsexualism.  Oh Dr. Benjamin wrote my surgery recommendation.

I went through the Stanford Program, including the group sessions which were as diverse if not more so than similar sessions I visited in the 1990s.

It was 1972 and I met damn few sisters with stereotypical white picket fence dreams.  Indeed feminism was as popular with us as it was with non-trans women.  Maybe more so as most states wouldn’t change birth certificates and marriage legality was sketchy at best.  After all we knew what April Ashley had gone through.

Those of us who got our SRS in those early days included folks like Lynn Conway and others who helped make the tech industry a career of choice for so many of us.

A lot of us were dykes.  I came out after SRS and after breaking up with a boyfriend of three years.  Became a photographer, worked for the Lesbian Tide.

A few, a minority got married.

Then in 1980 Jon Meyers and Paul McHugh of Johns Hopkins came out with a study that pronounced Sex Reassignment Surgery a failure because so few of us conformed to the white picket fence stereotypes.

You see those stereotypes were more in the 1950s era imagination of Dr. Benjamin.  Contrary to popular thought his book wasn’t written in 1966 but was a compilation of articles written between 1950 and 1966.  It reflects the Feminine Mystique and little more.

I never called myself a Benjamin girl or Stanford girl, I was my own woman.  Most of us were.

Wrong statement. 2.:  (required a doctor to oversee their transition) Doctors were prescription writers, nothing more.  I saw more psychiatrists as a model client in an attempt to get the government to pay for SRS than I saw at Stanford as part of their pre-surgery screening process.  On doctor I went to when evaluating surgeons required only Dr. B’s letter and a letter from my prescribing physician.

All the requirements for psych professionals and doctors overseeing ones transition is a post 1980s era invention.

Fuck you and the “Transsexual Separatist” slur.  It is a tired piece of shit used to beat people up and keep them part of something long after they should have gotten on with their lives.

I had SRS over 40 years ago there are far more important things in my life than a bunch of whiny oh so sensitive trannie newbees demanding long time sisters and brothers hang around and wipe their noses.

Many of us lived lives on the edge and  face old age in poverty.  We aren’t all professional transgender care givers, paid to wipe noses.

Besides which there is more to life than just being trans*.

Most of us have lives and interests other than something we had an operation for many years ago.

Besides which the new generation knows everything there is to know and have rewritten history just like David Barton did to bolster their unwavering belief in a way of thinking that is pretty damned alien to those of us who went before.

I have my friends who are trans* but I am not part of “the Teans-Community.”  If I am a part of any communities they are defined by things like hippie or old, or swap meet folks.