Gov. Abbott says he wants to sign a transgender bathroom bill

From American Statesman:  http://www.mystatesman.com/news/state–regional-govt–politics/gov-abbott-says-wants-sign-transgender-bathroom-bill/MlhXusdnlfHWxgbpIyGnUL/

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Texas transgender mayor Jess Herbst takes action in Austin

From Planet Transgender:  http://planettransgender.com/texas-transgender-mayor-jess-herbst-takes-action-in-austin/

by Kelli Busey
April 15, 2017

New Hope Mayor Jess Herbst led a group of transgender activists to the halls of the Legislative building Thursday, April 6th in response to SB6, the infamous Texas bathroom bill.

Mayor Herbst was hopeful that after lawmakers had an opportunity to meet the people they are so intent on criminalizing they might have a change of heart. Perhaps her group succeeded in some way as the far right ‘Texas Freedom Caucus”(TFC) failed to advance SB6 Thursday.

But on the following Monday, it was learned that TFC house members used the ‘Bathroom’ amendment as a bargaining chip to defund Planned Parenthood while bringing HB 2899, an act which would strip LGBT protections from 9 million Texans to a public debate at the State Affairs Committee Wednesday.

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Robert Reich: The Resistance Report 4/17/2017

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Every Republican in the Texas Senate Voted to Attack Marriage Equality

From The Advocate:  http://www.advocate.com/politics/2017/4/12/every-republican-texas-senate-voted-attack-marriage-equality

Stop swooning over Justin Trudeau. The man is a disaster for the planet

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/17/stop-swooning-justin-trudeau-man-disaster-planet

Donald Trump is a creep and unpleasant to look at, but at least he’s not a stunning hypocrite when it comes to climate change


Monday 17 April 2017

Donald Trump is so spectacularly horrible that it’s hard to look away – especially now that he’s discovered bombs. But precisely because everyone’s staring gape-mouthed in his direction, other world leaders are able to get away with almost anything. Don’t believe me? Look one country north, at Justin Trudeau.

Look all you want, in fact – he sure is cute, the planet’s only sovereign leader who appears to have recently quit a boy band. And he’s mastered so beautifully the politics of inclusion: compassionate to immigrants, insistent on including women at every level of government. Give him great credit where it’s deserved: in lots of ways he’s the anti-Trump, and it’s no wonder Canadians swooned when he took over.

But when it comes to the defining issue of our day, climate change, he’s a brother to the old orange guy in Washington.

Not rhetorically: Trudeau says all the right things, over and over. He’s got no Scott Pruitts in his cabinet: everyone who works for him says the right things. Indeed, they specialize in getting others to say them too – it was Canadian diplomats, and the country’s environment minister, Catherine McKenna, who pushed at the Paris climate talks for a tougher-than-expected goal: holding the planet’s rise in temperature to 1.5C (2.7F).

But those words are meaningless if you keep digging up more carbon and selling it to people to burn, and that’s exactly what Trudeau is doing. He’s hard at work pushing for new pipelines through Canada and the US to carry yet more oil out of Alberta’s tar sands, which is one of the greatest climate disasters on the planet.

Last month, speaking at a Houston petroleum industry gathering, he got a standing ovation from the oilmen for saying: “No country would find 173bn barrels of oil in the ground and just leave them there.”

Yes, 173bn barrels is indeed the estimate for recoverable oil in the tar sands. So let’s do some math. If Canada digs up that oil and sells it to people to burn, it will produce, according to the math whizzes at Oil Change International, 30% of the carbon necessary to take us past the 1.5C target that Canada helped set in Paris.

That is to say, Canada, which represents one half of 1% of the planet’s population, is claiming the right to sell the oil that will use up a third of the earth’s remaining carbon budget. Trump is a creep and a danger and unpleasant to look at, but at least he’s not a stunning hypocrite.

This having-your-cake-and-burning-it-too is central to Canada’s self-image/energy policy. McKenna, confronted by the veteran Canadian environmentalist David Suzuki, said tartly: “We have an incredible climate change plan that includes putting a price on carbon pollution, also investing in clean innovation. But we also know we need to get our natural resources to market and we’re doing both.” Right.

But doing the second negates the first – in fact, it completely overwhelms it. If Canada is busy shipping carbon all over the world, it wouldn’t matter all that much if every Tim Hortons stopped selling doughnuts and started peddling solar panels instead.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/17/stop-swooning-justin-trudeau-man-disaster-planet

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Transgender Texans Under Attack: Students Speak Out

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Why the Left-wing Needs a Gun Culture

From Diversity of Tactics:  https://diversityoftactics.org/2017/01/21/why-the-left-wing-needs-a-gun-culture/

by Lorenzo Raymond
January 21, 2017

We become depressed when we look around and see 1100 white supremacist militia groups, and some of our names at the top [of their kill lists]! You say ‘Oh my god, they got 1100 right-wing militia groups—how many left-wing ones we got?’  ‘Well, we’re working on our journal…’  I got nothing against journals, but it’s lopsided!’” 

Cornell West, Left Forum 2014 keynote address

“When you are attacked by a rabid dog you don’t run or throw away the walking stick you have in your hand.” 

– Gloria Richardson, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee organizer, Cambridge, Maryland, July, 1964 ¹

We live in a historical moment where everything seems upside down. A proto-fascist seemingly despised by the political establishment has ridden into the White House. That same establishment is now squirmingly trying to accommodate itself to that which it formerly despised. Social media—once thought of as the domain of lefty social justice warriors—turned out to be the far-right’s pathway to power. And while the reactionary candidate praised “the common man,” the liberal candidate gave secret speeches to Wall Street.

Now is the time to reconsider long-held preconceptions, as they embody precisely the thinking which led us to this point—this point where hate crimes against minorities are growing, and economic and ecological hopes are rapidly shrinking. At a juncture where liberals’ wholesale denunciation of “violence” and “gun culture” are revealed to have done nothing to reduce either one, the Left needs to disentangle the issue of oppressive force from that of necessary self-defense against oppressive force.

Brutality against minorities is escalating in the aftermath of the election, and we can only imagine what level it will reach as the Trump administration entrenches itself. Reports of attacks are too numerous to recount here, but the recent murders of a famous Black athlete (Joe McKnight) a young Black musician (Will Sims) and a 15-year old Black boy (James Means) are the most notable manifestations of the racist terror which is growing across the country. As the federal exoneration of George Zimmerman demonstrates, a state crackdown on such murders has never been in the cards, and will be even more remote under the Trump regime.

Reports from the BBC and other major news outlets show that gun ownership in the Black community has begun to grow in recent years. A Pew survey shows at least 54 percent of African-Americans have a favorable view of firearms, up from just 29 percent in 2012. The last poll was taken in 2014—in the years since then, a Southern Christian Leadership Council official has publicly called for armed self-defense, and Black Twitter, in the face of the Charleston massacre, has trended the hashtag #WeWillShootBack—so today the figures are likely higher.

Is the growing black gun movement succumbing to blind emotion and sowing the seeds of destruction? A look at progressive African-American history would suggest not. Although many sectors of the Left prefer to ignore it, there is now a small bookcase of academic studies with names like This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible. The importance of these studies is far from academic, however. They redefine our understanding of the most important American social movement of the past fifty years.

One of the first arenas of that struggle was the campaign to expose lynching in Mississippi, specifically the 1954 murder of Emmett Till. The key organizer of that campaign, TRM Howard, not only carried guns for his own protection, but made sure that there were armed guards at all times around campaign spokespeople like Mamie Till. After the rise of Martin Luther King, nonviolence became the image of civil rights, but this nominally pacifist movement never renounced its right to bear arms. When the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) came to the Deep South to organize, they encountered a vigorous Black gun culture among those who were prepared to campaign for equality. Fannie Lou Hamer, legendary founder of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP), told one interviewer that, “I keep a shotgun in every corner of my bedroom and the first cracker even look like he wants to throw some dynamite on my porch won’t write his mama again.” Prior to the MFDP’s work, voter suppression of African-Americans was the rule in Mississippi, but after its ascendance in the late 1960s, Blacks had full ballot access and the Klan was in retreat. The Mississippi movement represents the most effective organizing of the post-war Left; Their policy on armed self-defense can teach us a great deal, particularly as the whole country begins to feel more and more like the Jim Crow South.

But aren’t guns inherently oppressive, reactionary and patriarchal? This idea has found currency in the years since the end of the civil rights movement, but the years since the civil rights movement haven’t been especially good for the Left. From Jimmy Carter to Obama—not to mention from Reagan to Trump—the US has steadily slid to the Right in all but the most superficial ways. In place of working-class activists like Fannie Lou Hamer, we’re now led by pseudo-working-class celebrities like Michael Moore, who cemented the gun control consensus with his sensationalized documentary Bowling for Columbine. Just as Moore denounces the Democratic Party in three year cycles but always comes back to them at election time, his film admitted that there are more important factors contributing to violence than guns, but finally dumped the whole problem at the feet of the NRA. It is revealing that the very same Hollywood establishment that gave Moore an Oscar for Bowling for Columbine proceeded to boo him at the ceremony for opposing the Iraq War. For them, gun control has nothing to do with genuine peace, but everything to do with an orderly and centralized capitalist empire.

It’s inevitable that liberals’ perception of guns is formed hegemonically through the mainstream news media, despite the Left’s claim to be skeptical of it. While such outlets often tell us that guns kill 33,000 people per year in the US, we’re seldom reminded that alcohol kills over 80,000, and prescription drugs kill a devastating 120,000 each year. This may have something to do with the fact that pharmaceutical companies give corporate media over $5 billion per year in advertising, alcohol companies spend $2 billion on the same, and gun manufacturers comparatively nothing. The conventional liberal wisdom is that gun advocates make up for this in lobbying dollars, but shockingly, prescription opioid manufacturers alone spend eight times more courting politicians than the NRA does. Perhaps the gun lobby would like to spend more, but as The New York Times once acknowledged, “guns are a relatively small business in the United States.”

Some liberals sincerely believe that gun control will bring us closer to a humane society, of course, but there’s little in the history of gun regulation anywhere in the world to support that theory. Hillary Clinton and other Democrats often hold up Australia’s compulsory gun buyback as a model, but decades after the confiscations, Australian society is not any kinder: The country maintains a level of economic inequality comparable to the US, and has a growing prison population. As in the US, a disproportionate number of these prisoners are immigrants and ethnic minorities. Recently video leaked out of Australian guards torturing a 14 year-old Aboriginal boy. Contrary to prominent liberals’ implications, an anti-gun culture like Australia’s just doesn’t inspire much in the way of anti-racist, anti-nationalist, or anti-capitalist culture and policy. Likewise there is no evidence that gun culture precludes a progressive society—the pioneering open-carry state of Vermont has elected Bernie Sanders to the US congress for twenty years. The autonomist Kurds of Northern Syria, “the most revolutionary women’s rights movement in the world,” according to The Independent, are explicitly armed.

The Left’s gag reflex at the Second Amendment is a Pavlovian one, conditioned by mainstream liberals’ association of gun rights with conservatism. But the unilateral disarmament of the American Left is a recent development. Eugene Debs, reputed to be the hero of Bernie Sanders, responded to the 1914 Ludlow Massacre by urging labor activists to acquire “enough Gatling and machine guns to match the equipment of Rockefeller’s private army of assassins…The constitution of the United States guarantees to you the right to bear arms, as it does to every other citizen…” Howard Zinn wrote that “Thousands of dollars were sent for arms and ammunition,” to the Colorado miners from union halls across the country. The post-World War I era collapsed the labor movement across the board, but when it roared back in the early 1930s, it was ushered in by armed miners in campaigns like the Harlan County War (Urban unions hired mobsters to do armed defense against strikebreakers in this period, most likely because gun control laws prevented them from doing it themselves). It was this militant labor resistance that created the New Deal.

Continue reading at:  https://diversityoftactics.org/2017/01/21/why-the-left-wing-needs-a-gun-culture/

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Pro-Trump rioters got away with beating anti-fascists in Berkeley — and likely won’t stop there

From Salon:  http://www.salon.com/2017/04/18/pro-trump-rioters-got-away-with-beating-anti-fascists-in-berkeley-and-they-likely-wont-stop-there/

The Berkeley street violence was a great marketing event for alt-right types eager to attack anti-Trump protesters


Tuesday, Apr 18, 2017

Most of the demonstrations held on April 15, which was set aside by progressives for marches to demand that Donald Trump reveal his tax returns, were peaceful. The notable exception was the city of Berkeley, California — often described as the most liberal community in the nation — where things rapidly descended into a street fight between radical right-wingers and more left-leaning counterprotesters.

A group of hard-right extremists came to Berkeley to hold a rally in support of Trump. While they are, of course, claiming that they only resorted to violence in self-defense, it’s clear from the social-media organizing done ahead of time that their intention was to start a riot.

David Neiwert of the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote in a blog post:

On social media, the organizers and supporters called it “the Next Battle of Berkeley,” a chance to gain revenge for an earlier event on the University of California campus that they believed had infringed on conservatives’ free speech rights: In February, a scheduled appearance by alt-right provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos was shut down by rock-throwing “antifascist” protesters.

One Twitter user also documented the way that alt-right folks were instructing one another in how to smuggle weapons past the police.

hey wanted a fight and a fight they got. Eleven people were injured, and six were hospitalized. One white supremacist identified as Nathan Damigo was filmed sucker punching a young woman.

It’s tempting to write off this event as something unique to the Berkeley area. The area has a robust “antifa” presence, which is the name given to a small group of youthful anarchist-leftist sorts who tend to reject nonviolent approaches in favor of aggressive confrontation. The white nationalists and fascists knew full well that going to Berkeley meant they would be met with an aggressive response. If they had tried the same stunt in, say, New York, it probably wouldn’t have devolved into a violent melee like it did in Berkeley.

But while this particular situation might not have happened anywhere else, now that it has, there’s good reason to worry that the violence could spread. By staging this street fight in Berkeley, the alt-right sent a message to its sympathizers across the country, encouraging them to start organizing brownshirt efforts of their very own.

For one thing, while there were 21 arrests at this particular street fight, most of the right-wing fighters — including, apparently, Damigo — walked away scot-free and full of pride about this supposed victory, as Mother Jones reporter Shane Bauer recorded on Twitter.

Complete article at:  http://www.salon.com/2017/04/18/pro-trump-rioters-got-away-with-beating-anti-fascists-in-berkeley-and-they-likely-wont-stop-there/

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Texas to consider anti-LGBT legislation based on HB2 deal

From Washington Blade:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2017/04/14/texas-consider-anti-lgbt-legislation-based-hb2-deal/

by Chris Johnson
April 14, 2017

In a sign the new law in North Carolina that replaced House Bill 2 may be exported to other states, the Texas legislature is set on Wednesday to consider anti-LGBT legislation that bears a striking resemblance to the North Carolina deal.

The bill, House Bill 2899, was introduced Friday by Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton) as a compromise proposal for lawmakers seeking to enact anti-LGBT legislation in Texas as the biennial legislative session in Texas winds down. The legislation is set for a hearing Wednesday in the House State Affairs Committee.

The measure would prohibit municipalities from enacting ordinances that would “protect a class of persons from discrimination” or reduce or expand the classes of persons protected from discrimination under state law. In effect, the proposal would bar cities from enacting ordinances barring anti-LGBT discrimination because Texas state law affords no protection based on sexual orientation or transgender status.

The proposal has explicit language stating city ordinances would become null and void if they enacted prior to the passage of the law. That would eliminate non-discrimination ordinances already in place in Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Piano and San Antonio, according to the Human Rights Campaign’s 2016 Municipal Index.

HB 2899 would take effect immediately if it receives a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house as provided under the Texas Constitution. But if the legislature approves it by a simple majority, it would take effect on Sept. 1, 2017.

The law is proposed as alternative to anti-LGBT legislation already approved in the Senate, Senate Bill 6, which seems to have stalled out after House Speaker Joe Strauss said he opposed the bill and had no intention of bringing it up. That proposal would bar cities from enacting measures to bar discrimination against transgender people in restrooms and prohibit transgender people from using the restroom consistent with their gender identity in public spaces, such as schools and government buildings.

Continue reading at:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2017/04/14/texas-consider-anti-lgbt-legislation-based-hb2-deal/

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