Coming Of Age As Gender Non-Conforming

I always wondered what it would have been like being part of the greater community rather than apart from it.  Caring people both religious and secular are taking step to help transkids feel they are part of their community rather than alien from it.

From Jewish Week: Times of Israel:  https://jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/coming-of-age-as-gender-non-conforming/

Rabbi Mike Moskowitz discusses CBST’s work on creating gender non-conforming b’nai mitzvah rituals.

By Mike Moskowitz and Yael Rapport
August 30, 2018

In the Shema we read: “וְשִׁנַּנְתָּם לְבָנֶיךָ וְדִבַּרְתָּ בָּם,” “Teach them to your children and speak with them.” “Them” (בם) has been understood as an acronym for the first word of Genesis, “בראשית” and of the opening Mishnah of the Talmud, “מתי” (when). The word “מתי” comes from the Mishnah’s opening question, when do we begin reciting the Shema of the evening?  Together, these words stand for the entire written and oral law.

Part of the lesson we are meant to impart to children is that whenever we start something new, there is a desire to ask “when will we get there.” On the journey of Rabbinic Allyship for gender nonconforming b’nai mitzvah, we are just getting started.

Everyday, as cis-clergy at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, the largest LGBTQ synagogue in the world, we think about what it means to identify as a woman or as a man, and about how to continue becoming the people we aspire to be, culturally, socially, and spiritually. Serving CBST means that we are frequently asked to provide language and guidance for gender non-conforming kids who are looking for a ritual that supports who they are, rather than forcing them into the binary of either bar or bat mitzvah (son or daughter of the commandments).

Serving CBST means that we are frequently asked to provide language and guidance for gender non-conforming kids.

How can we structure this ancient rite of passage so that it inspires children to transition into Jewish adulthood, while also being sensitive to the struggles they face in a community that does not provide gender affirming language beyond the binary?

The Gaon posits that the first Mishnah is focused on Shema because when a child becomes an adult at sundown, it will be the first biblical commandment for which they are responsible. As adults, when we find ourselves in uncharted territory, the Shema continues to be a helpful tool. It offers navigational advice for the new traveler asking, “Are we there yet?” or “When will we finally achieve social change?”

No one knows where or how long our path goes, and all we can do is reach for the best in each moment. For us all that means: קורין את שמע, read the shema, because whoever we are, wherever we find ourselves, we seek to be grounded in our connection to G-d, who is everywhere at all times.

Continue reading at:  https://jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/coming-of-age-as-gender-non-conforming/

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Union Songs For Labor Day

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The Next Crash

From Robert Reich:  http://robertreich.org/post/177630241550

Robert Reich
Saturday, September 1, 2018

September 15 will mark the tenth anniversary of the collapse of Lehman Brothers and near meltdown of Wall Street, followed by the Great Recession.

Since hitting bottom in 2009, the economy has grown steadily, the stock market has soared, and corporate profits have ballooned.

But most Americans are still living in the shadow of the Great Recession. More have jobs, to be sure. But they haven’t seen any rise in their wages, adjusted for inflation.

Many are worse off due to the escalating costs of housing, healthcare, and education. And the value of whatever assets they own is less than in 2007.

Last year, about 40 percent of American families struggled to meet at least one basic need – food, health care, housing or utilities, according to an Urban Institute survey. 

All of which suggests we’re careening toward the same sort of crash we had in 2008, and possibly as bad as 1929.

Clear away the financial rubble from those two former crashes and you’d see they both followed upon widening imbalances between the capacity of most people to buy, and what they as workers could produce. Each of these imbalances finally tipped the economy over.

The same imbalance has been growing again. The richest 1 percent of Americans now takes home about 20 percent of total income, and owns over 40 percent of the nation’s wealth.

These are close to the peaks of 1928 and 2007.

The U.S. economy crashes when it becomes too top heavy because the economy depends on consumer spending to keep it going, yet the rich don’t spend nearly as much of their income as the middle class and the poor.

For a time, the middle class and poor can keep the economy going nonetheless by borrowing. But, as in 1929 and 2008, debt bubbles eventually burst.

We’re getting dangerously close. By the first quarter of this year, household debt was at an all-time high of $13.2 trillion.

Almost 80 percent of Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck. In a recent Federal Reserve survey, 40 percent of Americans said they wouldn’t be able to pay their bills if faced with a $400 emergency.

They’ve managed their debts because interest rates have remained low. But the days of low rates are coming to an end.

The underlying problem isn’t that Americans have been living beyond their means. It’s that their means haven’t been keeping up with the growing economy. Most gains have gone to the top.

It was similar in the years leading up to the crash of 2008. Between 1983 and 2007, household debt soared while most economic gains went to the top. Had the majority of households taken home a larger share, they wouldn’t have needed to go so deeply into debt.

Similarly, between 1913 and 1928, the ratio of personal debt to the total national economy nearly doubled. As Mariner Eccles, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board from 1934 to 1948, explained: “As in a poker game where the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing.”

Continue reading at:  http://robertreich.org/post/177630241550

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Coconut oil is ‘pure poison’, says Harvard professor

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/food/2018/aug/22/coconut-oil-is-pure-poison-says-harvard-professor

It is feted as a healthy choice but the oil, which is high in saturated fat, is ‘one of the worst things you can eat’ says expert

Ian Sample
Thu 23 Aug 2018

For certain health food shops and wellbeing sites it is the panacea that helps everything from bad hair and mental grogginess to obesity and haemorrhoids. But the carefully-crafted image of coconut oil as a cure for many ills has been roundly rejected by a Harvard professor.

Karin Michels, an epidemiologist at the Harvard TH Chan school of public health, poured scorn on the superfood movement and singled out the fad for coconut oil in particular, calling the substance “one of the worst things you can eat” that was as good for wellbeing as “pure poison”.

Michels made her comments in a recent lecture entitled “Coconut oil and other nutritional errors” at the University of Freiburg, where she holds a second academic position as director of the Institute for Prevention and Tumour Epidemiology. The speech, delivered in German, has now been watched nearly a million times on YouTube.

Michels based her warning on the high proportion of saturated fat in coconut oil, which is known to raise levels of so-called LDL cholesterol, and so the risk of cardiovascular disease. Coconut oil contains more than 80% saturated fat, more than twice the amount found in lard, and 60% more than is found in beef dripping.

Last year, the American Heart Association reviewed the evidence on coconut oil among other foodstuffs. While three quarters of the US public considered coconut oil to be healthy, the review noted that only 37% of nutritionists agreed. The authors attributed the gulf in perception to the marketing of coconut oil in the popular press. “Because coconut oil increases LDL cholesterol, a cause of CVD, and has no known offsetting favourable effects, we advise against the use of coconut oil,” the review concluded.

Other organisations have issued similar warnings. “Coconut oil can be included in the diet, but as it is high in saturated fats should only be included in small amounts and as part of a healthy balanced diet,” the British Nutrition Foundation said. “There is to date no strong scientific evidence to support health benefits from eating coconut oil.”

Despite the advice, promotions from health food shops such as Holland and Barrett, and celebrity endorsements from Gwyneth Paltrow and others, have helped UK sales of coconut oil surge in recent years from about £1m to £16.4m in the past four years, according to the consumer research group Kantar. In the US, coconut oil sales appear to have peaked in 2015 at $229m, according the market research firm Spins.

“Coconut oil is about 86% saturated fat, about one-third more saturated fat than butter,” said Victoria Taylor, a senior dietician at the British Heart Foundation.

“We know that diets high in saturated fat are associated with increased non-HDL cholesterol in the blood, and high cholesterol is a risk factor for coronary heart disease and stroke.

“There has been speculation that some of the saturated fat present in coconut oil may be better for us than other saturated fats, but so far there is not enough good-quality research to provide us with a definitive answer.

“What we do know is that replacing saturated fats with unsaturated fats like vegetable oil, olive oil and sunflower oil, and their spreads, has been shown as an effective way to help reduce LDL cholesterol levels, so this would be a healthier choice.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/food/2018/aug/22/coconut-oil-is-pure-poison-says-harvard-professor

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In closed-door meeting, Trump told Christian leaders he got rid of a law. He didn’t.

How can you tell Trump is lying?  His lips are moving.

From NBC News:  https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/elections/trump-told-christian-leaders-he-got-rid-law-he-didn-n904471

According to recorded excerpts of private remarks, he said evangelicals were “one election away from losing everything.”

by Aliza Nadi and Ken Dilanian
Tue Aug 28 2018

In a closed-door meeting with evangelical leaders Monday night, President Donald Trump repeated his debunked claim that he had gotten “rid of” a law forbidding churches and charitable organizations from endorsing political candidates, according to recorded excerpts reviewed by NBC News.

In fact, the law remains on the books, after efforts to kill it in Congress last year failed.

But Trump cited this alleged accomplishment as one in a series of gains he has made for his conservative Christian supporters, as he warned, “You’re one election away from losing everything that you’ve got,” and said their opponents were “violent people” who would overturn these gains “violently.”

Trump addressed the law and the upcoming midterms in private remarks Monday during a dinner with evangelical supporters at the White House after the press had left.

At stake in the November midterms, Trump told the audience, are all the gains he has made for conservative Christians.

“The level of hatred, the level of anger is unbelievable,” he said. “Part of it is because of some of the things I’ve done for you and for me and for my family, but I’ve done them. … This Nov. 6 election is very much a referendum on not only me, it’s a referendum on your religion, it’s a referendum on free speech and the First Amendment.”

If the GOP loses, he said, “they will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and violently, and violently. There’s violence. When you look at Antifa and you look at some of these groups — these are violent people.”

The law that Trump says he got rid of is the so-called Johnson Amendment, a provision inserted into law in 1954 by then-senator and future President Lyndon Johnson of Texas, who was miffed that a conservative nonprofit group was helping his opponent.

The law says churches and charities “are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.”

“Now one of the things I’m most proud of is getting rid of the Johnson Amendment,” the president said. “That was a disaster for you.”

The president doesn’t have the power to repeal a law — only Congress can do that. The Supreme Court can also rule a law unconstitutional, but that has not happened in this case.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/elections/trump-told-christian-leaders-he-got-rid-law-he-didn-n904471

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America’s Real Economy: It Isn’t Booming

From Forbes Magazine:  https://www.forbes.com/sites/petergeorgescu/2018/08/22/americas-real-economy-it-isnt-booming/#78f849dd60b7

Peter Georgescu
Aug 22, 2018

Ostensibly, for the past ten years, our economy has been recovering from the 2008 collapse. During the past few years, our comeback seems to have gained momentum. All the official indicators say we’re back in boom times, with a bull market, low unemployment and steady job growth. But there is an alternative set of data that depicts a different America, where the overlooked majority struggles from month to month.

The Nation recently published a stunning overview of the working poor and underpaid. One of the most powerful data points in the piece described how empty the decline in unemployment actually is: having a job doesn’t exempt anyone from poverty anymore. About 12% of Americans (43 million) are considered poor, and yet they are employed. They earn an individual income below $12,140 per year, and slightly more than that for a family of two. If you include housing and medical expenses in the calculation, it raises the percentage of Americans living in poverty to 14%. That’s 45 million people.

At that level of income, there’s almost no way to pay for food and shelter in any sizeable American city. That means people now can both be employed and homeless. Rajon Menon writes, for The Nation:

In America’s big cities, chiefly because of a widening gap between rent and wages, thousands of working poor remain homeless, sleeping in shelters, on the streets, or in their vehicles, sometimes along with their families.

Fewer and fewer people have savings to weather time between jobs or an emergency expense. A third of the U.S. population has no savings and another third has saved less than $1,000. Two-thirds of American households, by this measure, are desperately scrambling to make ends meet from check to check. Nearly half the American population earns too little to live on comfortably:

One-third of all workers earn less than $12 an hour and 42% earn less than $15. That’s $24,960 and $31,200 a year. Imagine raising a family on such incomes, figuring in the cost of food, rent, childcare, car payments (since a car is often a necessity simply to get to a job in a country with inadequate public transportation), and medical costs.

Even in households that combine income from two wage-earners, it’s rarely enough to live on without anxieties about money. It takes an average of a little more than $100,000 per year now for a household to be able to live without anxieties about money.

Continue reading at:  https://www.forbes.com/sites/petergeorgescu/2018/08/22/americas-real-economy-it-isnt-booming/#78f849dd60b7

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Female Vets Running for Congress Find Service Records Under Attack

From Military.com:  https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/08/26/female-vets-running-congress-find-service-records-under-attack.html

By Kevin Landrigan
26 Aug 2018

Maura Sullivan was a Marine captain in Iraq.

With a Sept. 11 primary fast approaching, two female congressional candidates are defending their military service after they were criticized for using the word “combat” in their political campaigns.

Rochester City Attorney and 1st District Democratic candidate Terence O’Rourke of Alton, New Hampshire, lit the first fuse after accusing primary rival Maura Sullivan of Portsmouth of lying to inflate her service record as a Marine captain in Iraq.

“It is sad and disgraceful that Ms. Sullivan would tarnish the memory of brave Marines to cover up her exaggerations about her service. Words have meaning and she was the one who chose to say she fought in Iraq when she did no such thing,” O’Rourke said. “She is the one who persisted in her lies after being called out. She is the one who chooses to question the integrity of others when she clearly has none herself.”

Sullivan countered that it’s O’Rourke who’s the disgrace and that his accusations reveal a “sexist and badly outdated” attitude toward women serving in combat zones.

“This attack comes from someone who clearly doesn’t understand or value the role of women in the military, and it displays an appalling level of ignorance and disrespect toward both the women and the men with whom I served, and the families of many who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Sullivan responded. “I’ve never gone around telling war stories or making myself out to be a hero. In fact, among the veterans community, it’s not respected to boast about your valor, especially to demean the service of others.”

Over in New Hampshire’s 2nd District, some veterans charge that retired Navy nurse and GOP candidate Lynne Blankenbeker of Concord is guilty of her own resume manipulation — pointing to her campaign signs that read “combat proven.”

State Rep. Sean Morrison, R-Hampton, formed the Veterans Caucus in the New Hampshire Legislature after joining the Army National Guard at 30 and making combat deployments to Iraq.

“The ‘combat proven’ thing seemed to me to be close to stolen valor,” said Morrison, who is supporting state Rep. and Air Force veteran Steve Negron of Nashua in the GOP primary.

“That means you were in direct combat with the enemy and you acted appropriately. I don’t think anyone should be separating and holding themselves up on a pedestal as veterans.”

A clearly upset Blankenbeker said Friday that Morrison and others who share his views should be “ashamed of themselves.”

“I was a combat nurse in a combat hospital in a combat zone caring for combat casualties while the hospital took on an average of 18 mortar attacks in a given day,” Blankenbeker said of her time in Afghanistan’s violent Kandahar province during 2010-11.

Continue reading at:  https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/08/26/female-vets-running-congress-find-service-records-under-attack.html

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