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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DOJ withdraws lawsuit against N.C. anti-trans bathroom law

From The Washington Blade:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2017/04/14/breaking-doj-withdraws-lawsuit-n-c-anti-trans-bathroom-law/

Chris Johnson
April 14, 2017

Although North Carolina replaced anti-LGBT House Bill 2 with a law that critics say still enables anti-LGBT discrimination, the U.S. Justice Department has withdrawn the lawsuit against the state filed last year under Obama administration.

In a five-page notice, the Justice Department under U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced it has voluntarily withdrawn the lawsuit filed last year by former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

“In light of the passage of North Carolina Session Law 2017-4, House Bill 142, and pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 41, the Parties in the above-captioned action hereby stipulate that all claims or causes of action against Defendants and all counterclaims against Plaintiff which were the subject matter of this lawsuit are hereby dismissed with prejudice,” the notice says.

After North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper signed into law the replacement measure for HB2, whether the Justice Department would continue the lawsuit it filed against the state over the initial law was in question. As of last month, a Justice Department said the U.S. government “reviewing its litigation posture” in the aftermath of the HB2 replacement.

Lynch’s lawsuit alleged HB2, which barred cities from enacting pro-LGBT ordinances and transgender people from using the restroom consistent with their gender identity, contravenes federal law. The Justice Department alleged the law violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.

The deal Cooper signed, House Bill 142, replaces HB2 with a measure that LGBT advocates say is a bait-and-switch attempt giving the appearance of repeal while doubling-down on discrimination.

HB 142 prohibits state agencies, municipalities and the University of North Carolina from the “regulation of access” to bathrooms, locker rooms and showers unless they have the legislature’s permission. It also bans municipalities until 2020 from enacting LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination measures that would apply to private businesses or public accommodations.

Ford Porter, a Cooper spokesperson, said in response to DOJ’s withdrawal of the lawsuit against the North Carolina law the governor still supports statewide non-discrimination protections for LGBT people.

“The compromise to repeal HB2 took an important step in the right direction,” Porter said. “Gov. Cooper will continue to work to repair our state’s reputation and add statewide protections for LGBT North Carolinians.”

The withdraw of DOJ’s lawsuit in the aftermath of the switch is consistent with Sessions’ actions against transgender rights since his confirmation as U.S. attorney general. In fact, the Justice Department last month nixed its request for a preliminary injunction against HB2 in favor of an existing injunction against the law that was significantly more limited and applied only to plaintiffs in a separate lawsuit.

Jon W. Davidson, legal director for Lambda Legal, said in a statement the Justice Department is using the North Carolina’s new law as excuse to withdraw lawsuit even though the new statute still enables discrimination.

Continue reading at:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2017/04/14/breaking-doj-withdraws-lawsuit-n-c-anti-trans-bathroom-law/

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Texas bathroom bill targeting trans people would also strip rights for veterans, elderly and pregnant women

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/2017/04/texas-bathroom-bill-targeting-trans-people-would-also-strip-rights-for-veterans-elderly-and-pregnant-women/


17 Apr 2017

A bill sponsored by Texas state House Republicans aims to nullify anti-discriminations protections for transgender people who use public bathrooms, but the bill would also have the unintended consequence of endangering the bathroom rights of the elderly, disabled veterans and pregnant women.

According to The Dallas Morning News, the House Republican bill bans cities from protecting the rights of any group that is not already a protected class under state or federal law.

“It’s a one-sided proposition in that it forbids a city from protecting someone from discrimination but it doesn’t forbid a city from discriminating against a person,” Southern Methodist University constitutional professor Dale Carpenter told the paper. “It is very rare, if not unprecedented, to see actual language in a statute prohibiting classes of persons from being protected from discrimination.”

If the House bill becomes law, cities would no longer be able to extend protections beyond the federal minimums, which include race, religion and national origin.

Austin has added “age” as a protected class for older people who need special accommodations. And San Antonio passed resolutions to protect the bathroom rights of veterans and LGBT people.

But cities like Austin and San Antonio would no longer be able to protect the rights of the elderly, veterans, pregnant women and LGBT people if Republicans have their way.

Read the entire report from The Dallas Morning News.

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A Transgender Learning Gap in the Emergency Room

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/13/well/live/a-transgender-learning-gap-in-the-emergency-room.html

As an emergency physician, I’m always engaging in a fast-tempo, often awkward, all too stressful dance with strangers. Lately, though, I’ve noticed a particular gap in my own medical education and training, as well as in that of my colleagues, that’s further tripping up our steps: how to provide optimal health care for transgender patients.

The gap is amplified in the emergency room, where even under the best of circumstances the interaction we have with patients is typically rushed and never entirely comfortable — and where I’m usually meeting a patient for the first time and don’t have the patient’s medical history at my fingertips. Because transgender people are less likely to have health insurance and are four times more likely to live in poverty compared to the general population, the emergency room serves as a particularly important safety net for these patients.

Sometimes the patient is registered as the wrong gender immediately from triage, resulting in a strained communication from the get-go. Other times, a staff member lets out a surprised gasp as a patient undresses for a physical exam. Then there are the moments when providers call a patient a “he/she” or “they” on rounds. Private rooms are also hard to come by in busy, overcrowded emergency rooms, and patients may be inappropriately clustered by gender.

None of this, for the most part, is out of malice. Instead it’s because of our own ignorance — and stems from our lack of education and training on providing sensitive and evidence-based care for transgender patients.

Currently, American medical schools’ curriculums are not sufficiently addressing the health needs and concerns of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. A comprehensive survey of schools in the United States and Canada revealed that less than five hours in medical schools are devoted to L.G.B.T. health over all; some medical schools reported zero hours of training. While I did learn about providing health care for lesbian, gay and bisexual patients when I went to medical school over a decade ago, I didn’t receive any special education on the particular health needs and concerns of the estimated 1.4 million adults living in the United States who identify as transgender.

In one study, half of these patients had to teach their doctors about transgender health issues at some point. A Twitter hashtag #transhealthfail started trending in August of 2015, when transgender patients shared stories about their negative experiences with the health care system. Patients continue to use the hashtag today.

These holes in medical education and training can cost lives. Over 70 percent of transgender people nationwide say they have experienced serious discrimination in a health care setting. A third of transgender people postpone — or completely avoid — seeking health care because of the fear of discrimination. One in five have yet to disclose their transgender status to any medical provider.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/13/well/live/a-transgender-learning-gap-in-the-emergency-room.html

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The Tribal Case for Israel

From The Forward:  http://forward.com/scribe/368369/the-tribal-case-for-israel/

By Micha Danzig & Yirmiyahu Danzig
April 6, 2017

Supporting Israel means supporting indigenous rights. Despite the obviousness and the power of this statement, much of the rhetoric used by the pro-Israel community revolve around Israel’s technological innovation, treatment of women and the LGBTQIA+ community, democratic character, and morality.

While accurate, this paradigm is irrelevant to the average college student that supports BDS (the anti-Israel boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement) or is inclined to support BDS. For the average college student who supports BDS (or is inclined to), the view of Israel as a “Western” outpost in the Arab Middle East trumps all other considerations. Right or wrong, on today’s college campuses and in the places where the BDS argument has the most traction, people care far more about indigenous rights and justice for the indigenous than they do about almost anything else.

When Zionists declared independence and the return of Jewish sovereignty in the land of Israel, the founding fathers understood that they were making a proclamation of the justice of the Jewish people’s return to sovereignty in their indigenous homeland. That is why Israel’s Declaration of Establishment proclaims:

“Eretz-Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here, their spiritual, religious and political identity was shaped. Here they first attained to statehood, created cultural values of national and universal significance and gave to the world the eternal Book of Books. After being forcibly exiled from their land, the people kept faith with it throughout their Dispersion and never ceased to pray and hope for their return to it and for the restoration in it of their political freedom.”

This is the original language of Zionism. This is about the Jewish people’s indigenous rights in the land of Israel. This is also about justice; the justice of Zionism. Thus, every chance we get, we need to remind people that Zionism is the first successful indigenous movement of a dispossessed and colonized people regaining sovereignty in their indigenous homeland.

The facts are on our side. Even though it is an oft-repeated mantra of anti-Israel activists that Israel is a “colonial outpost” or a “colonial settler state,” there is indisputable evidence that the Jewish people are indigenous to the Land of Israel. Arabs, in contrast, originated in the Hejaz region of the Arabian Peninsula before they colonized much of the Middle East and Africa at the expense of many different indigenous populations (such as Copts, Yazidis, Assyrians, Amazighs and Jews).

Under the common-sense definition of Indigenous set forth in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the only living people who are uniquely indigenous to the land of Israel are Jews.

The evidence of Jewish indigeneity in the land of Israel is as obvious as the presence of ancient mikvot (ritual baths) and ancient Jewish coins that have been discovered all over Israel, and the Arch of Titus in Rome, which depicts the siege of Jewish Jerusalem.

Continue reading at: http://forward.com/scribe/368369/the-tribal-case-for-israel/

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Easter Message from Sean Spicer

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North Carolina Files Bill to Make Gay Marriage Illegal Again

From Out: http://www.out.com/news-opinion/2017/4/11/breaking-north-carolina-files-bill-make-gay-marriage-illegal-again

House Bill 780 claims the U.S. Supreme Court overstepped “constitutional bounds.”

By Justin Moran
April 11, 2017

Three Republican lawmakers filed today a new bill, which seeks to ban gay marriage in North Carolina, CBS reports. The “Uphold Historical Marriage Act” aims to invalidate the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling on same-sex marriage, claiming they violated “constitutional bounds” when the Court dismantled Amendment One.

More than 60 percent of those who cast a ballot in May 2012 voted in favor of Amendment One, which prohibited North Carolina from performing or recognizing same-sex marriages or civil unions.

Larry Pittman, Michael Speciale and Carl Ford are the core sponsors of House Bill 780, which quotes the Christian Bible and states the Supreme Court overstepped “the decree of Almighty God that ‘a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become 22 one flesh. (Genesis 2:24, ESV)'” HB780 also argues the Supreme Court “abrogates the clear meaning and understanding of marriage in all societies throughout prior history.”

If approved, the bill would make the Supreme Court’s federal decision on gay marriage void in North Carolina. Same-sex marriages would become invalid, regardless of being conducted within or outside of the state.

See complete article at:  http://www.out.com/news-opinion/2017/4/11/breaking-north-carolina-files-bill-make-gay-marriage-illegal-again

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Joe Biden Calls on Trump Admin to Condemn LGBTQ Crisis in Chechnya

From NBC News:  http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/joe-biden-calls-trump-admin-condemn-lgbtq-crisis-chechnya-n746696

by Mary Emily O’Hara
Apr 14 2017

Joe Biden is “disgusted and appalled” by reports of authorities in Chechnya torturing and killing men who are believed to be gay or bisexual.

On Friday, the former Vice President responded to growing concerns among international governments and human rights groups who have been pressuring the U.S. to take action and address the Chechen crisis with Russia.

“When faced with such crimes of hate and inhumanity, it is the responsibility of every person of conscience to speak out — to oppose this campaign of violence before it continues further,” Biden said in a statement released Friday afternoon.

The reports of a violent, state-sponsored campaign targeting local LGBTQ men in Chechnya first arose on April 1, when the Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta published a story revealing details of a prison-like facility near the Chechen town of Argun.

Novaya Gazeta spoke with Chechen men who reported being arrested and subsequently tortured with beatings and electric shocks, as well as being forced to supply authorities with the names and phone numbers of other LGBTQ people.

A St. Petersburg advocacy group, Russian LGBT Network, set up an emergency hotline to take calls from Chechnya — and now says it has received about 50 calls from people who were targeted or are trying to escape the region. As many as 100 men were believed to have been arrested for suspected homosexuality. Russian LGBT Network told NBC News it believes around 20 men have been killed by authorities as part of the roundups.

“People are very intimidated and not eager to talk. They are hesitant to even talk to us,” Natalia Poplevskaia, the network’s International Advocacy Officer and Monitoring Program Coordinator, told NBC News on Tuesday. “The people who have been targeted by the campaign need some time to get back to normal life.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/joe-biden-calls-trump-admin-condemn-lgbtq-crisis-chechnya-n746696

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We ask why nobody stopped the Nazis, then stay silent as gay men are tortured in Chechnya

From International Business Times:  http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/we-ask-why-nobody-stopped-nazis-then-stay-silent-gay-men-are-tortured-chechnya-1616686

Gay men are being detained and held in camps in the Chechen Republic.

By
April 12, 2017

It is a largely-forgotten stain on human history and it is a largely-ignored evil in our present. Homophobia, the world over, struggles to be taken seriously.

Gay journalists, such as myself, may write about it. Gay people may speak about it. But where are the statues to the countless millions who have been brutalised by their own countries for centuries? And, as we hear of yet more repulsive and frightening attacks on gay people in Chechnya, where is the worldwide political outrage?

In truth, there is none. Like rubberneckers on the motorway, politicians and social commentators tut and grimace as they respond to reports of barbarism against innocent gay men – and then, they drive on.

It seems increasingly clear that the torture of gay people in Chechnya and neighbouring countries including Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan and Armenia is taking an ever-darker turn into the depths of human cruelty.

Reports from the Russian LGBT Network suggest that gay men are being rounded up, beaten and abducted; that they are tortured, their hands electrocuted and their bodies beaten. They have been forced to sit on bottles. At least three of the 100 Chechen men taken have – we are told – been murdered and activists are trying to evacuate gay men from danger.

Rightly, the Foreign Office has condemned the Chechen Republic’s leadership not only for their reported barbarity, but also for the miserably-warped claim that they could not arrest gay men in their region because there are none.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s spokesperson, Alvi Karimov, said with Orwellian indifference: “You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic.”

And so, gay people across that region and in so many other countries, continue to be tortured, burned alive, imprisoned, beaten, thrown off buildings, ostracised, hanged and forgotten.

Can I, as a British subject, call on a political will to demand answers from Chechnya? Can we order our Foreign Secretary to gather his international counterparts and hold a summit? There is no such will to draw upon. A condemnation from the Foreign Office has gone largely unnoticed and it’s unlikely to have made any difference to the men waiting to become corpses alongside the three who have apparently already been beaten to death in a camp near the Chechen capitol, Grozny.

Continue reading at:  http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/we-ask-why-nobody-stopped-nazis-then-stay-silent-gay-men-are-tortured-chechnya-1616686

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Naomi Klein — How to Jam the Trump Brand

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Canada is moving to legalize marijuana — and it may violate international drug law to do it

From Vox:  http://www.vox.com/2017/4/13/15219524/canada-marijuana-legalization-bill

Canada’s move to legalize marijuana is big not just for Canada. It could impact global — and US — drug policy.

by German Lopez
Apr 13, 2017

Canada wants to legalize marijuana — and it may be willing to break international law to do it.

On Thursday, the ruling Liberal Party in the Canadian Parliament introduced a bill that would legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. It would be the first developed country in the world to fully legalize pot since the international war on drugs began in the 1970s.

The bill will set the minimum age for purchasing marijuana at 18, although provinces could raise the age within their borders. The federal government will handle licensing producers, while provincial governments will manage distribution and retail sales. And Canadians will be allowed to grow up to four marijuana plants per household and possess up to 30 grams per person. For the most part, the bill follows the recommendations made by a recent federal task force on marijuana legalization — although the bill could change as it works its way through Parliament.

None of this should seem too shocking in the US, where already eight states have legalized marijuana for recreational use and 28 have allowed cannabis for medicinal purposes. What sets Canada apart, though, is it’s doing this as a country. Currently, Uruguay is the only nation in the world that legally allows marijuana for recreational purposes.

This is an important distinction from state-by-state legalization because Canada, like the US, is part of international drug treaties that explicitly ban legalizing marijuana. And although activists have been pushing to change these treaties for years, they have failed so far — and that means Canada will be, in effect, in violation of international law when it moves to legalize. (The US argues it’s still in accordance with the treaties because, even though the federal government allows marijuana legalization to continue at the state level by taking a hands-off approach, federal law still technically prohibits cannabis.)

Still, the move is, according to advocates of legalization, long overdue. When Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s party was elected in 2015, one of the main promises he ran on was to legalize marijuana. But the process of actually beginning to legalize stalled as the government waited on the task force report on legalization, and finally put a bill together based on the recommendations.

“We will legalize, regulate, and restrict access to marijuana,” Trudeau’s Liberal Party declared on its campaign website. “Canada’s current system of marijuana prohibition does not work. It does not prevent young people from using marijuana and too many Canadians end up with criminal records for possessing small amounts of the drug.”

 The bill, of course, is not law just yet. It will need Parliament’s approval — which may require wrangling some changes to get — to become law. But the bill’s chances seem good: Liberals control a majority of the House of Commons, and on legalization they’re backed by the even more liberal New Democratic Party. Conservatives ran in opposition to legal pot, but at this point they are a fairly small minority in the Canadian government. Still, the bill may face some hurdles in the independent Senate, a legislative body that traditionally is more ceremonial in function but is recently doing more to assert its authority.
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Hannah Is a Girl. Doctors Finally Treat Her Like One.

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/08/opinion/sunday/hannah-is-a-girl-doctors-finally-treat-her-like-one.html

NEW HAVEN — Hannah is a 14-year-old girl, clad in leggings and an oversize T-shirt, with long brown hair that she curls around a finger. She was also born a boy.

The government can’t seem to decide whether it should affirm children like Hannah. President Trump jumped from supporting workplace protections for transgender people to ending supportive policies for transgender students in public schools. The Supreme Court waffled on whether or not these kids can use the bathrooms of their identified genders, sending the question back to the Fourth Circuit. Last month, North Carolina repealed a law that forced transgender people to use the bathroom corresponding with the gender on their birth certificates, while strangely prohibiting schools from adopting policies that would let transgender students use the bathroom of their choice.

Politicians could learn something from the doctors who treat these patients. Over the past few years, it has become clear that if we support these children in their transgender identities instead of trying to change them, they thrive instead of struggling with anxiety and depression.

Hannah is using a puberty-blocking implant and getting ready to embark on the path of developing a female body by starting estrogen. Ten years ago most doctors would have called this malpractice. New data has now made it the protocol for thousands of American children.

Being transgender doesn’t affect Hannah much. She is a straight-A student and auditioning for her school’s production of “Annie.” She’s both embarrassed and excited to talk about the two boys who asked her out this year.

“I turned to him and said, ‘You know I’m transgender, right?’ ” she tells me. “He said that he knows I’m transgender and that he also knows I’m pretty and sweet.”

Taking her red cheeks as a sign to change the subject, we switch back to medicine. I feel around her bicep, where a hard rod just beneath her skin releases a drug that turns off the brain cells that would otherwise kick off puberty. The implant has been in place for two years, preventing the process that would have deepened her voice and given her an Adam’s apple. She has been happy with the blocker, but is ready to move on.

“I’m tired of being the only girl in my grade who looks like a little kid,” she says.

She has a point. A review of recent studies suggests we could start cross-sex hormones as early as 14, so that transgender kids don’t suffer the stigma of starting puberty years after their classmates.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/08/opinion/sunday/hannah-is-a-girl-doctors-finally-treat-her-like-one.html

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Gun advocates fear armed Trump supporters as they escalate threats of violence against progressives

From Raw Story:  http://www.rawstory.com/2017/04/gun-advocates-fear-armed-trump-supporters-as-they-escalate-threats-of-violence-against-progressives/


15 Apr 2017

A friend writes, “For basically the past six months or so I’ve been trying to tell my lefty friends in so many words, ‘Hey, there are a bunch of people on the Internet who are waiting for someone to tell them it’s okay to start shooting at you.’” He became concerned when a thread at the non-political firearms-enthusiasts website he regularly follows became filled with comments in all caps referring to liberals as enemies who must be shot. Developments both online and off following Donald Trump’s election have caused me to share his concern.

In December, an author at the biggest and most explicitly non-political gun site, the Firearms Blog (its tagline is “Firearms, not politics”), recounted his experience with an outfit that offers tactical training based on the methods of the Israel Defense Forces. The moderator soon had to begin deleting comments. One that remains protested, “as if through the millennia, hundreds of nations, principalities and city-states reached the same conclusions,” and urged the curious to check out Judaism.is/genocide.html where one can watch the film Jewish Ritual Murder Revisited: The Hidden Cult.

Four days after Donald Trump’s inauguration, a community member on a moderate firearms law site, PAGunBlog, a civil redoubt welcoming “active participation by both firearms enthusiasts and people who hate them,” described his shock from that morning’s web-surf when “a long-time commenter who I recognized as right-leaning but mostly moderate commented that ‘The Jews own and control everything in America…’ Not many months ago no one except a flaming neo-Nazi would have dreamed of expressing such an opinion, but today it seems to have become an acceptable element of our discourse. I noticed that no one replied to or castigated the comment.”

Then came February 1 in Berkeley and things really started getting scary.

The saga of what happened when Milo Yiannopoulos came to speak at the flagship campus of the University of California has since become foundational, not just with the alt-right but with quite nearly the entire right. Alt-right provocateur Yiannopoulos was turned back by violent protests, which culminated in the burning of a portable generator. Stuffed down the wingnut memory hole are the events that preceded the mêlée. The violence was, in fact, preceded by peaceful protests by approximately 1,500 Berkeley students, until they were waylaid by a tiny handful of off-campus “Black Bloc” and “antifa,” or anti-fascist, cadres who believe racist speech licenses violent resistance. It was also preceded, less than two weeks earlier, by the shooting of a Milo protester in Seattle, by a gunman who has yet to be charged with any crime.

The Battle of Berkeley accelerated the construction of a body of mythology: the left has escalated its resistance to Trump into literal war, so Trump supporters must be prepared to resort to violence to oppose it.

How afraid of this should you be? The most interesting answers to that question do not come from the left. They come from concerned voices on the right, who’ve been monitoring the chatter with mounting alarm, going public with pleas to liberals to still the antifa renegades before bodies begin piling up. The most convincing evidence that they have a point comes in the ensuing comment threads, where the need to prepare for armed force is taken as gospel.

Continue reading at:  http://www.rawstory.com/2017/04/gun-advocates-fear-armed-trump-supporters-as-they-escalate-threats-of-violence-against-progressives/

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State Dept. mum on gay ‘concentration camps’ in Chechnya

From The Washington Blade:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2017/04/11/state-department-mum-gay-concentration-camps-chechnya/

by Michael K. Lavers
April 11, 2017

The State Department has yet to publicly comment on authorities in Chechnya sending gay men to secret prisons that have been described as “concentration camps.”

The Washington Blade was unable to ask Acting Spokesperson Mark Toner about the issue during a telephone briefing on Tuesday. He did not talk about the Chechen prisons with reporters before the call ended.

Toner on April 7 released a statement in which he expressed concern about the arrest of at least 100 gay men in the semi-autonomous Russian republic.

Novaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper, has reported at least three of the men who were arrested were later killed. A State Department spokesperson on Monday referred the Washington Blade to Toner’s statement in response to a request for comment on the prisons about which Novaya Gazeta reported last week.

“We are increasingly concerned about the situation in the republic of Chechnya, where there have been numerous credible reports indicating the detention of at least 100 men on the basis of their sexual orientation,” said Toner. “Some reports indicate many of those arrested have been tortured, in some cases leading to death. We categorically condemn the persecution of individuals based on their sexual orientation or any other basis.”

We are deeply disturbed by recent public statements by Chechen authorities that condone and incite violence against LGBTI persons,” he added. “We urge Russian federal authorities to speak out against such practices, take steps to ensure the release of anyone wrongfully detained, conduct an independent and credible investigation into these reports and hold any perpetrators responsible.”

Continue reading at:  http://www.washingtonblade.com/2017/04/11/state-department-mum-gay-concentration-camps-chechnya/

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