Inclusion of Transgender Student Athletes Violates Title IX, Trump Administration Says

What happens if an F to M boy wants to participate in sports and is taking testosterone plus has had top surgery.  He has to compete against young women using this logic.

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/29/us/connecticut-transgender-student-athletes.html

Three female high school students in Connecticut had challenged a scholastic sports policy that allows transgender athletes to compete against them in track.

By Michael Levenson and Neil Vigdor
May 29, 2020

A high school sports policy in Connecticut that allows transgender students to participate in athletics based on their gender identity violates federal law and could cost the state federal education funding, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has found.

The finding came after the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian organization (aka right wing Evangelical hate group), filed complaints against the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference and the Glastonbury school board on behalf of three high school student-athletes.

It was issued on May 15 but did not become public until Thursday. The policy is also being challenged in court. The students contended that the policy gave transgender students an unfair advantage in athletic competition and in the race for public recognition that is critical to college recruiting and scholarship opportunities.

The office said that, after an investigation, it had found that the policy violated Title IX, the 1972 federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in programs that receive federal funding.

By allowing transgender students to compete on female track teams, the policy “denied female student-athletes athletic benefits and opportunities, including advancing to the finals in events, higher level competitions, awards, medals, recognition, and the possibility of greater visibility to colleges and other benefits,” the office said.

The office gave the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference, which governs high school athletics in the state — as well as school officials in Glastonbury, Bloomfield, Hartford, Cromwell, Canton and Danbury — 20 days to resolve the violation.

It said it would then begin the process of suspending, terminating or refusing to grant financial assistance to the association and the districts or refer the cases to the Justice Department for further action.

Transgender rights advocates denounced the finding, calling it another attempt by President Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to trample civil rights for transgender youths.

In 2017, just weeks after the Trump administration took office, the Education and Justice Departments rescinded an Obama-era guidance document that informed schools that denying students access to bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity was a violation under Title IX.

Last year, a report by the liberal Center for American Progress found that students who said they had been discriminated against because of their sexual orientation or gender identity were significantly less likely to get relief from the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights under the Trump administration than they had been under the Obama administration.

“Today’s finding, which is not a legal ruling, represents another attack from the Trump administration on transgender students,” said Chase Strangio, deputy director for Trans Justice with the ACLU’s L.G.B.T. & H.I.V. Project. “Once again, the administration is wrong on the law, and we will continue to defend transgender students under Title IX and the Constitution. Trans students belong in our schools, including on sports teams, and we will not back down from this fight.”

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/29/us/connecticut-transgender-student-athletes.html

Anti-Semitism examined as a social virus in new PBS documentary

Tina and I watched this documentary earlier this week.  The following day I got into an argument with one of the “Anti-Zionist not antisemitic” tools.  Guess what he is petty much down with wiping out Israel and absolutely denies that Jews have any right to live there.  His labeling them as settler-colonialist only make sense if one ignores Jewish ancestral claims to Israel, which requires ignoring some 3500 years of history.  But listen to an “anti-Zionist no antisemite” for five minutes and you start seeing how much they have in common with the folks who say “I am not a racist, but…”

The film is available for streaming.

From The Times of Israel: https://www.timesofisrael.com/anti-semitism-examined-as-a-social-virus-in-new-pbs-documentary/

‘Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations’ looks at how hatred of Jews is treated, and spreads, like a virulent disease, and at how humanity can hope to combat it

By LAURA PAULL
27 May 2020

J. The Jewish News of Northern California via JTA — Any person who follows the news knows that anti-Semitism is on the rise around the world. As it has spread, so has our insight that this is a hatred with many faces, a many-headed monster fed by myths about Jews that will not die.

Its more violent manifestations — defacements of Jewish cemeteries, street attacks, armed assaults on Jewish institutions — are often referred to as “outbreaks,” as if anti-Semitism were a disease. Indeed, the phrase “virulent anti-Semitism” is often used to describe the manifold expressions of that ideology. And as with a contagious disease, humanity must marshal all its informational resources to have any hope of defeating it.

That is the concept of “Viral: Antisemitism in Four Mutations,” a probing new documentary making its television premiere May 26 on PBS.

“Our thought was that much of anti-Semitism spreads on the internet — it goes viral, in that sense,” director-producer Andrew Goldberg told J. recently. “But illness as a metaphor for anti-Semitism has been used for a long time.”

The film, which was in theaters briefly in February, opens with a black-and-white animation of what looks to be virus cell activity under a microscope.

“It started long ago … with a lie about the Jew,” the voiceover by actress Julianna Margulies explains. “The lie said the Jew was evil … conspiring … the enemy of God. The lie evolved and spread like a virus … and still does. Many don’t know they’re infected. Others don’t care. Some define themselves by it. The virus has endured for so long and spread so far because of its power to adapt and deceive. Of its thousands of mutations, this is the story of four.”

The film then launches into the first of four segments, looking at the American strain. In Pittsburgh, Goldberg examines the significance of the assault on the Tree of Life synagogue, then heads to North Carolina, where he engages with Russell Walker, an open racist and anti-Semite who got 37% of his district’s vote when he ran for the state House of Representatives in 2018.

Other segments examine state-sponsored anti-Semitism in Hungary under the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban; the rise of anti-Semitism in England within the leftist Labour Party under past leader Jeremy Corbyn; and beliefs about Jews among some North African immigrants in France. In the latter case, those beliefs have conjoined with growing disaffection with global capitalism among the French Left, resulting in an atmosphere harshly inhospitable to French Jews.

Goldberg travels to each of these locales to interview victims, witnesses, anti-Semites and experts — with his low-key, seemingly neutral style eliciting inside knowledge, alarm and, sometimes, acute pain.

A number of commentators are called upon to add information and perspective. This list includes former President Bill Clinton, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Holocaust historian Deborah Lipstadt, and journalists Fareed Zakaria, George Will and Yair Rosenberg of Tablet.

“Anti-Semitism is a conspiracy theory,” Lipstadt says of the penchant for anti-Semites to blame Jews for just about everything based on “the notion that there are forces more powerful than you.”

Continue reading at:  https://www.timesofisrael.com/anti-semitism-examined-as-a-social-virus-in-new-pbs-documentary/

No, Donald Trump, Americans are not dying to work – work may cause them to die

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/24/donald-trump-fox-news-sean-hannity-dying-to-work-coronavirus

The president, the Republican party and their Fox News cheerleaders care only for corporate profit


Sun 24 May 2020

Most of Europe and all 50 US states are in various stages of “reopening”. But why, exactly?

The pandemic is still with us. After the first tentative steps to ease the lockdown in Germany – the most successful large European country in halting the spread of the virus, thanks to massive testing – the disease has shown signs of spreading faster.

At least Germany is opening slowly and carefully, as is the rest of the EU.

By contrast, the US – with the highest number of deaths and most haphazard response to Covid-19 of any advanced nation – is opening chaotically, each state on its own. Some are lifting restrictions overnight.

Researchers expect the reopenings to cause thousands of additional deaths.

Two weeks after Texas’ governor, Greg Abbott, began reopening, the state experienced the single-highest rise in cases since the beginning of the pandemic. Since Nebraska reopened on 4 May, Covid-19 cases in Colfax county alone surged 1,390%.

Experts warn that Dallas, Houston, Florida’s Gold Coast, the entire state of Alabama and several other places in the south that have rapidly reopened their economies are in danger of a second wave of coronavirus infections over the next four weeks.

Last Monday, Ford reopened its large North American assembly plants. On Tuesday, it closed and reopened its Chicago Assembly plant twice in less than 24 hours, after two workers tested positive for Covid-19. On Wednesday, Ford temporarily shut its Dearborn, Michigan truck plant after an employee tested positive, then promptly resumed operations.

So why “reopen” so abruptly, when Covid-19 continues to claim lives?

The main reason given is to get the economy moving again. But this begs the question of why an economy exists in the first place, other than to promote the wellbeing of people within it.

Both Ford plants are vital to the company’s profitability, and that profitability is important to jobs in the midwest. But surely the wellbeing of Ford workers, their families, the people of Chicago and Dearborn and others are more important.

A related argument is that workers are clamoring to return to their jobs. “People want to get back to work,” Trump has asserted repeatedly. Fox News host Sean Hannity claims people are “dying to get back to work”, seemingly unaware of the irony of his words.

Polls suggest otherwise. Americans whose jobs require them to leave home express trepidation about doing so: 60% fear exposing their families to Covid-19.

Many Americans must return to work because they need the money, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Rich economies can support their people for years if necessary. During the second world war, America shut down most of its economy for nearly four years.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/may/24/donald-trump-fox-news-sean-hannity-dying-to-work-coronavirus

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‘Believe All Women’ Is a Right-Wing Trap

I got over the idea that I had to believe everything anyone told me because of who they were by about the age of five or so.  That goes for politicians and professors, advertising and everyone else.  Individuals have varying levels of ethics and honesty.  You have to look at their histories to gauge probable levels of credibility.

Living your life by political slogans means setting aside your personal internal fact check.  People on the left can and often are just as stupid and dogmatic a herd of slogan regurgitating sheep as the Trumpster Tea Baggers.

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/18/opinion/tara-reade-believe-all-women.html

How feminists got stuck answering for a canard.

By Susan Faludi
May 18, 2020

Joe Biden has been accused of sexual assault, and conservatives are having a field day, exultant that they’ve caught feminists in a new hypocrisy trap. A woman, with no corroboration beyond contemporaneous accounts, charges a powerful man with a decades-old crime? Hmm, doesn’t that sound mighty close to Christine Blasey Ford’s complaint against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh? Yet this time, many liberals who’ve championed the #MeToo movement seem skeptical?

Gotcha!

Tim Graham, executive editor of NewsBusters: “Where is the #MeToo movement on this story? What happened to their rigid ‘Believe All Women’ boilerplate?”

Fox News host Tucker Carlson: “the infuriating, the sickening hypocrisy of the media and the professional feminist movement. ‘Believe All Women!’ No they don’t.”

White House adviser Kellyanne Conway: “Three magic words, ‘Believe All Women.’ I didn’t hear an asterisk; I didn’t see a footnote, ‘Believe All Women so long as they are attacking somebody aligned with President Trump, Believe All Women so long as they are — have a college degree or better or are — are for abortion in the ninth month.’”

In fact, “Believe All Women” does have an asterisk: *It’s never been feminist “boilerplate.” What we are witnessing is another instance of the right decrying what it imagines the American women’s movement to be.

Spend some mind-numbing hours tracking the origins of “Believe All Women” on social media sites and news databases — as I did — and you’ll discover how language, like a virus, can mutate overnight. All of a sudden, yesterday’s quotes suffer the insertion of some foreign DNA that makes them easy to weaponize. In this case, that foreign intrusion is a word: “all.”

“All” insertion was all the rage during the Kavanaugh hearings. When senators from Kamala Harris to Mazie Hirono had their regard for Dr. Blasey’s credibility elevated by Fox News pundits to universal gender credulity, their actual words, “I believe her,” became believe all women. “That’s literally the hashtag,” former Fox News contributor Morgan Ortagus said in February 2019. “There’s a great search function on Twitter, and you can search the #BelieveAllWomen. For those of you who don’t believe that’s what the Democrats had in the case of Kavanaugh.”

Is there “literally” a hashtag? Well, kind of.

Meaningfully tracking hashtags on Twitter is a confounding chore, even for the professional data scrapers I consulted. “It’s a very interesting rabbit hole,” Pablo Morales Henry, digital archivist at Harvard University’s Schlesinger Library, which maintains a collection of more than 30 million MeToo-related tweets, told me.

Nevertheless, let’s take the Ortagus challenge. As she noted, Twitter has a search function that, while hardly “great,” does at least crudely reflect the site’s use — especially by its most popular users who are most likely to spread a hashtag far and wide. For instance, type in #BlackLivesMatter or #MakeAmericaGreatAgain” for 2016, and you get a bottomless well of references. Type in #BelieveAllWomen for 2017, when the #MeToo movement took off in October, and you get several dozen references, followed in 2018 (the year of the Kavanaugh hearings) by many more. But here’s the thing: I found that the hashtag is, by a wide margin, used mostly by its detractors.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/18/opinion/tara-reade-believe-all-women.html

UK launches unprecedented attack on trans rights, will ban transition before 18

From Gay Star News:  https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/uk-launches-unprecedented-attack-on-trans-rights-will-ban-transition-before-18/

Statement appears to threaten trans bathroom access.

Tris Reid-Smith
Apr. 23 2020

Britain’s new Equality Minister Liz Truss has announced a major government policy change on trans rights, banning transition before the age of 18.

Her statement may also be the start of an attack on trans people being able to use the right bathrooms and changing rooms.

Truss made the statement to the UK Parliament’s Women and Equalities Select Committee. Her comments came as the UK Parliament got back to work yesterday with MPs speaking online from their homes.

In it, she said the government would finally be updating the Gender Recognition Act this summer.

The current law dates from 2004. And the Conservative government has been promising to update it for several years. They ran an extensive public consultation in 2018. But further progress stalled in 2019 as the UK parliament imploded over Brexit.

Trans people initially believed the act would make it easier to change gender. But since it went up for debate, new anti-trans voices have emerged in UK media and social media.

Truss’ statement on trans rights

Truss told the Women and Equalities Select Committee yesterday that they would be putting forward their plans for the Gender Recognition Act by the summer. She said:

‘There are three very important principles that I will be putting place.

‘First of all, the protection of single-sex spaces, which is extremely important.

‘Secondly making sure that transgender adults are free to live their lives as they wish without fear of persecution, whilst maintaining the proper checks and balances in the system.

‘Finally, which is not a direct issue concerning the Gender Recognition Act, but is relevant, making sure that the under 18s are protected from decisions that they could make, that are irreversible in the future.

‘I believe strongly that adults should have the freedom to lead their lives as they see fit, but I think it’s very important that while people are still developing their decision-making capabilities that we protect them from making those irreversible decisions.’

Continue reading at:  https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/uk-launches-unprecedented-attack-on-trans-rights-will-ban-transition-before-18/

“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling continues support for extreme anti-transgender rhetoric

From LGBTQ Nation:  https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2020/05/harry-potter-author-j-k-rowling-continues-support-extreme-anti-transgender-tweets/

Rowling approved of a tweet that called a trans woman a “guy” who is “an adult human male who claims to be a lesbian.”

By
Monday, May 18, 2020

J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, is once again drawing criticism for liking anti-transgender rhetoric on Twitter.

Rowling, who has a strong Twitter presence, has liked transphobic tweets in the past, although her publicist said that the author clicked “like” by accident in a “clumsy and middle-aged moment.”

This past December, Rowling tweeted that “sex is real,” a common statement used by transphobes to imply that sex assigned at birth determines a person’s entire life, effectively erasing gender identity.

She used the hashtag #IStandWithMaya in that tweet, a reference to British anti-transgender activist Maya Forstater, who lost her job at a progressive organization for her statements about transgender women, including “men cannot change into women” and that transphobia against trans women only “hurts men’s feelings.”

Over the weekend, Rowling liked a tweet from anti-transgender activist Fred Sargeant. On Twitter, Sargeant frequently advocates that it’s “time to remove the T from same-sex advocacy groups” and that transgender women can’t be oppressed because they’re assigned male at birth.

The tweet in question wasn’t on a different topic. Sargeant wrote about Alex Drummond, a Welsh trans woman who has a beard, calling her “an adult human male who claims to be a lesbian.”

She “believes that real lesbians who aren’t into penises are transphobic and should be excluded from the lesbian community,” according to Sargeant, who misgendered her by calling her “this guy.”

Continue reading at:  https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2020/05/harry-potter-author-j-k-rowling-continues-support-extreme-anti-transgender-tweets/

 

Who Will Prosper After the Plague?

From The Tablet:  https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/kotkin-coronavirus-feudalism

The tech sector and the managerial class will get richer, while the rest of us become their serfs

by Joel Kotkin
April 13, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to widen even further the growing class divides now found in virtually every major country. By disrupting smaller grassroots businesses while expanding the power of technologies used in the enforcement of government edicts, the virus could further empower both the tech oligarchs and the “expert” class leading the national response to the crisis.

In our increasingly feudal society, the small property owning yeomanry who operate the local businesses essential to Los Angeles shopping streets, and New York neighborhoods are already under threat and will be squeezed further by both the pandemic and its aftermath. But even more hard-pressed will be the growing, propertyless serf class that includes laid-off workers and the roughly 50 to 60 million workers in essential jobs, notes a new report from Richard Florida, and of those, 35 to 40 million require close physical proximity as opposed to those who can retreat to safety behind their computers. Roughly 70% of these workers are in low-wage professions, such as food preparation, and often, despite their increased risk, often lack health insurance from their employers.

Plagues, such as in the 14th century, may have wiped out as much as one third of Europe’s population, and devastated great Renaissance trading cities. In the Middle Ages, the wealthy sought safety in their country estates, much like the affluent now fleeing major European and American cities. Diets and survival rates varied enormously between the upper and lower classes. As one 14th-century observer noted, the plague “attacked especially the meaner sort and common people—seldom the magnates.”

But the wreckage also created new opportunities for those left standing. Abandoned tracts of land could be consolidated by rich nobles, or, in some cases, enterprising peasants, who took advantage of sudden opportunities to buy property or use chronic labor shortages to demand higher wages. “In an age where social conditions were considered fixed,” historian Barbara Tuchman has suggested, the new adjustments seemed “revolutionary.”

What might such “revolutionary” changes look like in our post-plague society? In the immediate future the monied classes in America will take a big hit, as their stock portfolios shrink, both acquisitions and new IPOs get sidetracked and the value of their properties drop. But vast opportunities for tremendous profit available to those with the financial wherewithal to absorb the initial shocks and capitalize on the disruption they cause. As in 2016, politicians in both parties have worked hard in the new stimulus to get breaks for their wealthy constituents, whether they are big retail chains, rich California taxpayers, or, in some cases, themselves.

Over time, the crisis is likely to further bolster the global oligarchal class. The wealthiest 1% already own as much as 50% of the world’s assets, and according to a recent British parliamentary study, by 2030, will expand their share to two-thirds of the world’s wealth with the biggest gains overwhelmingly concentrated at the top 0.01%.

In an era defined by “social distancing,” with digital technology replacing the analog world, the tech companies and their financial backers will prove the obvious winners. In a sign of what’s to come, tech stocks have already soared.

The biggest long-term winner of the stay-at-home trend may well be Amazon, which is hiring 100,000 new workers. But other digital industries will profit as well, including food delivery services, streaming entertainment services, telemedicine, biomedicine, cloud computing, and online education. The shift to remote work has created an enormous market for applications, which facilitate video conferencing and digital collaboration like Slack—the fastest growing business application on record—as well as Google Hangouts, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams. Other tech firms, such as Facebook, game makers like Activision Blizzard and online retailers like Chewy, suggests Morgan Stanley, also can expect to see their stock prices soar as the pandemic fades and public acceptance of online commerce and at-home entertainment grows with enforced familiarity.

Continue reading at:  https://www.tabletmag.com/sections/news/articles/kotkin-coronavirus-feudalism

Alcoholics Anonymous vs. Other Approaches: The Evidence Is Now In

I should have put this up sooner.  I’ve been totally vegging out, bingeing on Netflix and learning to bake bread.

AA works.  As of Dec 31 this year I will have been sober for 20 full years.

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/11/upshot/alcoholics-anonymous-new-evidence.html

An updated review shows it performs better than some other common treatments and is less expensive.

By Austin Frakt and Aaron E. Carroll
March 11, 2020

For a long time, medical researchers were unsure whether Alcoholics Anonymous worked better than other approaches to treating people with alcohol use disorder. In 2006, a review of the evidence concluded we didn’t have enough evidence to judge.

That has changed.

An updated systematic review published Wednesday by the Cochrane Collaboration found that A.A. leads to increased rates and lengths of abstinence compared with other common treatments. On other measures, like drinks per day, it performs as well as approaches provided by individual therapists or doctors who don’t rely on A.A.’s peer connections.

What changed? In short, the latest review incorporates more and better evidence. The research is based on an analysis of 27 studies involving 10,565 participants.

The 2006 Cochrane Collaboration review was based on just eight studies, and ended with a call for more research to assess the program’s efficacy. In the intervening years, researchers answered the call. The newer review also applied standards that weeded out some weaker studies that drove earlier findings.

In the last decade or so, researchers have published a number of very high-quality randomized trials and quasi-experiments. Of the 27 studies in the new review, 21 have randomized designs. Together, these flip the conclusion.

“These results demonstrate A.A.’s effectiveness in helping people not only initiate but sustain abstinence and remission over the long term,” said the review’s lead author, John F. Kelly, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Recovery Research Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital. “The fact that A.A. is free and so widely available is also good news.

“It’s the closest thing in public health we have to a free lunch.”

Studies generally show that other treatments might result in about 15 percent to 25 percent of people who remain abstinent. With A.A., it’s somewhere between 22 percent and 37 percent (specific findings vary by study). Although A.A. may be better for many people, other approaches can work, too. And, as with any treatment, it doesn’t work perfectly all the time.

Rigorous study of programs like Alcoholics Anonymous is challenging because people self-select into them. Those who do so may be more motivated to abstain from drinking than those who don’t.

Unless a study is carefully designed, its results can be driven by who participates, not by what the program does. Even randomized trials can succumb to bias from self-selection if people assigned to A.A. don’t attend, and if people assigned to the control group do. (It may go without saying, but we’ll say it: It would be unethical to prevent people in a control group from attending Alcoholics Anonymous if they wanted to.)

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/11/upshot/alcoholics-anonymous-new-evidence.html