Nuclear war has become thinkable again – we need a reminder of what it means

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/17/nuclear-war-has-become-thinkable-again-we-need-a-reminder-of-what-it-means

As Trump faces down North Korea, it’s alarming to think that most of the world’s nuclear warheads are now in the hands of men who are prepared to use them


Monday 17 April 2017

Last week, Donald Trump deployed his superweapon Moab, the “mother of all bombs” – 10 tonnes of high explosive detonated in mid-air in such a way as to kill, it is claimed, 94 Isis militants. The Russian media immediately reminded us that their own thermobaric bomb – the “father of all bombs” – was four times as powerful: “Kids, meet Daddy,” was how the Kremlin mouthpiece Russia Today put it. But these are child’s play compared with nuclear weapons. The generation waking up to today’s Daily Mail strapline – “World holds its breath” – may need reminding what a nuclear weapon does.

The one dropped on Hiroshima measured 15 kilotons; it destroyed everything within 200 yards and burned everybody within 2km. The warhead carried by a Trident missile delivers a reported 455 kilotons of explosive power. Drop one on Bristol and the fireball is 1km wide; third-degree burns affect everybody from Portishead to Keynsham, and everything in a line from the Bristol Channel to the Wash is contaminated with radiation. In this scenario, 169,000 people die immediately and 180,000 need emergency treatment. Given that there are only 101,000 beds in the entire English NHS, you can begin to imagine the apocalyptic scenes for those who survive. (You can model your own scenario here.)

But a Trident missile carries up to eight of these warheads, and military planners might drop them in a pattern around one target, creating a firestorm along the lines that conventional Allied bombing created in Hamburg and Tokyo during the second world war.

I don’t wish to alarm you, but right now the majority of the world’s nuclear warheads are in the hands of men for whom the idea of using them is becoming thinkable.

For Kim Jong-un, it’s thinkable; for Vladimir Putin, it’s so thinkable that every major Russian wargame ends with a “nuclear de-escalation” phase: that is, drop one and offer peace. On 22 December last year, Trump and Putin announced, almost simultaneously, that they were going to expand their nuclear arsenals and update the technology.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/17/nuclear-war-has-become-thinkable-again-we-need-a-reminder-of-what-it-means

Why I Might Not Tell You I’m Transsexual | Transgender Living

Empathy And Spectacle In The Transgender Killing Fields: On Media Coverage Of Anti-Trans Violence

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/empathy-and-spectacle-in-the-transgender-killing-kields_us_58f2884de4b0156697224ff3?section=us_queer-voices

To focus on us in exclusively extreme circumstances reinforces our marginal status.

Anastasia Walker, Contributor
04/15/2017

o assert that our nation is in crisis seems simultaneously banal and something of an understatement. From the blitzkrieg of deplorable EOs and inhumane legislative and budget proposals coming out of DC to the new POTUS’s itchy Twitter finger, the executive branch has come to seem, in the eyes of many Americans, like an existential threat to the nation – and to more than a few, even to life on the planet. One of the potential casualties of this situation is our capacity for empathy. When there are so many battles raging at once, how many can we reasonably follow, let alone join? How to stave off rage fatigue? How to avoid slumping into cynicism, or mere indifference?

For those of us who find ourselves on the front lines of the new régime’s assaults by virtue of our membership in one or more vulnerable minorities, both fatigue and cynicism are real dangers. We don’t have the luxury of indifference, however, or of allowing others to be indifferent to us. If we’re to combat the far-right push to further marginalize or even extinguish us as groups, we must remain a pressing concern to our allies (existing and potential) amidst the chaos.

The plight of trans Americans, the minority I belong to, is particularly difficult in the current climate. As a group, we’re relatively small, though not as small as was long thought. We’re also relative newcomers to mainstream public discourse, and our very existence is contested by many. In trying to get people to keep, let alone start caring about us, then, we have additional hurdles to overcome that are less of (or not) an issue for many other minority groups.

I’ve been arguing pretty much since I started blogging for HuffPost a year ago that our widespread acceptance by the cis majority is ultimately contingent on our being recognized as fully human. Though it may seem like a perfectly obvious point to make, it’s only when we’re seen first and foremost as friends and neighbors, and not victims (or deviants), that our plight ceases to be a sideshow and becomes for them what mainstream media organs like Time and The New York Times have declared it to be, a full blown civil rights issue.

In part because of lingering perceptions (and prejudices), though, and in part because of the prominent role that sensationalism and spectacle play in the media, the dominant narrative about us is still the sideshow one. In terms of airtime, the two main storylines about trans folks in the U.S. at present remain: (1) Our role as political scapegoats of the far right, most notably in the ongoing efforts by red-state lawmakers to pass discriminatory “bathroom bills,” and (2) Our status as victims of myriad forms of violence, in particular murder. I’ve written a lot about the first of these; I’d now like to consider the latter.

It comes as no surprise that outside academia, the lion’s share of discussion about violence against trans folks appears in the liberal media and blogosphere – the right evidently having little interest in (or stomach for) delving into the challenges facing a group that their loudest members are intent on demonizing. And it’s not all that surprising that while the violence plaguing the trans community assumes a wide range of forms – from snide looks and other microaggressions to verbal harassment to physical assaults – murders feature prominently, even disproportionately, in this discussion. Indeed, murder is often talked about as if it’s the only form of anti-trans violence that matters, even by those who should know better.

That’s not to say that there aren’t any upsides to this coverage. For trans advocates and allies, stories about murders serve a couple of purposes. In the first place, they’re effective shorthand for the high incidence of violence visited on us as a community, and in particular on trans women of color (who represent all eight reported victims so far this year). Second, and more basically, murder is an easy way to keep trans folks on people’s radar. Headlines like “At least 7 transgender women have been killed in 2017” and “Four Transgender Murders in a Week ‘Alarming Trend’” are good journalistic eye candy. These stories also confer on the victims a couple of things historically denied to trans folks: visibility and dignity. By moving beyond bare-bones, Dragnet-style summaries of the climactic event to include pictures and brief bios, they present the victims as more than mere crime statistics, in a real sense serving as obituaries for them. Additionally, they often correct other reporting on the incidents, since local news outlets frequently ignore the victims’ declared, lived identities, and deadname and/or misgender them (more than occasionally, following the lead of law enforcement and other state agencies in doing so).

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/empathy-and-spectacle-in-the-transgender-killing-kields_us_58f2884de4b0156697224ff3?section=us_queer-voices

Friday Night Fun and Culture: James McMurtry’s “Complicated Game”

Here’s Why A Nonprofit Named For Anne Frank Keeps Attacking Trump

From Huffington Post:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/anne-frank-center-donald-trump_us_58f14c9ae4b0b9e9848c23a3

How the previously obscure Anne Frank Center became one of the most scathing critics of the new administration.

By Jessica Schulberg
04/16/2017

WASHINGTON ― Before this year, the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect rarely made headlines. On the rare occasions the group, named for the young Jewish diarist who died in the Holocaust, appeared in the news, it was never tied to controversy. “Diary of Anne Frank brought to life through music,” one story that mentioned center reported last year.

But in the months since President Donald Trump took office, the New York-based nonprofit has catapulted to national prominence with a series of aggressive attacks on the new chief executive and his policies. Unlike other advocacy organizations, which take hours to craft carefully worded statements that usually land in reporters’ inboxes after their stories are already published, the Anne Frank Center’s executive director, Steven Goldstein, posts his unfiltered responses directly to Facebook.

Under Goldstein’s watch, the center has become one of the most outspoken critics of the Trump administration. His sharp-tongued approach has earned his group citations in The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, NBC, The Huffington Post and others.

The group, which was founded by Anne’s father, Otto Frank, has also been the subject of several stories in Breitbart, the far-right news outlet closely aligned with the Trump administration. Goldstein “has no qualms about exploiting the name and memory of Anne Frank for his purely partisan purposes,” Breitbart’s Joel Pollak wrote. “It is Holocaust desecration, if not outright denial.”

Goldstein, who took over as the center’s executive director last year, dismisses this type of criticism. He knows his style is provocative, but he says that’s intentional ― and that, in some ways, it’s similar to how Trump reaches his own audience. The president’s way of communicating “clearly touches a chord with the people of this country,” said Goldstein, who disagrees with Trump on nearly every issue.

Goldstein’s goal “is to speak with equal directness, but add compassion and justice and morality to it,” he said.

The Anne Frank Center was founded in 1959 with the goal of creating a “world based on equal rights and mutual respect.” In the decades before Goldstein took over the organization, it existed primarily as an educational exhibition, teaching visitors about Frank’s life and the dangers of discrimination.

Goldstein had never even heard of the group when its board of directors asked him last year if he was interested in taking over as executive director. That wasn’t a good sign, he thought. “I’m a social justice activist, I’m a Jewish activist, I’m a native New Yorker, so for me to not to have heard of an Anne Frank organization means the organization must have had an extraordinarily low profile,” he said.

Keeping a low profile is not Goldstein’s style. When he was 6 years old, he skipped school to stuff envelopes at the local Democratic headquarters for then-presidential nominee Hubert Humphrey, according to a bio he provided. He has worked on Capitol Hill for Democratic lawmakers Frank Lautenberg and Chuck Schumer. In 2004, he founded Garden State Equality, the New Jersey-based marriage-equality group that went on to successfully sue for expanded rights for same-sex couples. His character was featured in a movie about a terminally ill police officer’s fight to secure death benefits for her same-sex partner.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/anne-frank-center-donald-trump_us_58f14c9ae4b0b9e9848c23a3

With North Carolina, the NBA, and the NCAA Caving on Trans Rights, Texas Finds New Momentum for Discrimination

From The ACLU:  https://www.aclu.org/blog/speak-freely/north-carolina-nba-and-ncaa-caving-trans-rights-texas-finds-new-momentum

By Chase Strangio, Staff Attorney, ACLU LGBT & HIV Project
April 18, 2017

Last month, North Carolina lawmakers passed what they called a “compromise repeal” of the state’s notoriously costly and discriminatory anti-LGBT law, House Bill 2. HB2 mandated statewide discrimination against trans people in schools and other government buildings and restricted the ability of localities from passing nondiscrimination ordinances protecting against sexual orientation and gender-identity-based discrimination.

But the HB2 replacement, House Bill 142, is no repeal — it is just a slightly restructured version of the same discriminatory mandates of its predecessor and once again singles out trans people for discrimination in both rhetoric and law.

Shortly after the passage of this fake repeal of HB2, both the NCAA and the NBA announced that they would again consider North Carolina to host events after they had pulled events from the state in 2016 — costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars in lost revenue — following the passage of HB2. Showing just how quickly the defense of civil rights collapsed in the name of profit, the NBA and the NCAA have now further opened the door to new waves of discrimination in North Carolina and across the country.

Wasting no time, leading anti-trans lawmakers in Texas are now rushing to pass a clone of North Carolina’s HB142 — seizing on the tacit, if not explicit endorsement, of discrimination by the NCAA and NBA. The Texas bill, House Bill 2899, is expected to be heard on Wednesday, April 19. And like its clone in North Carolina, and the bill once again animated by the dangerous lie that it “provides clear direction to public schools and government institutions on how to protect privacy and safety by ensuring that men do not enter women’s showers, locker rooms and restrooms.”

But make no mistake — this bill protects no one.

Texas’s HB2899 and SB6 — the HB2-like ban on trans people using restrooms that accord with their gender — and North Carolina’s HB142 are not about privacy or safety. These measures are about cultivating fear of trans people in public space, and they ultimately seek to expel us from participation in public life.

The proposed laws and the support for them rely on and reinforce the idea that women who are trans are “really” men and that trans people, by living as our authentic selves, are deceiving others.  And the subtext is always that our mere presence in single-sex spaces compromises the safety and privacy of others.

But this is simply not true.

Most of these lawmakers have already shared restrooms with trans people, and it went unnoticed because like all people, we (trans) people go to the restroom to do our business and get out. The only people who seem fixated on our presence there are the lawmakers seeking to bar us from the spaces we have been using for as long as we have existed.

And whether North Carolina, Texas, or any other state uses overt or covert tactics to restrict us from using the restroom that accords with who we are, the effect is the same and the message is clear: “You are not welcome here.”

Continue reading at:  https://www.aclu.org/blog/speak-freely/north-carolina-nba-and-ncaa-caving-trans-rights-texas-finds-new-momentum

My Daughter Is Not Transgender. She’s a Tomboy.

In the post-modern world of gender, gender, gender where gender has become some sort of Swiss Army Knife that encompasses all those things we used to think of as sex or sex roles/gender roles it is hard not to give into the hegemonically  pushed notion of there actually being a gender binary.  After all such diverse groups as Trans-activist and Vogue magazine as well as Fundie religious folks of various stripes insist there is a real gender binary .

Twenty-five years ago or so when I first heard this one pushed I threw out women in the military or police who are still women and  men in traditionally female considered professions.

Well merrily we roll along and it is 2017 and now if you don’t adhere to gender, gender, gender and don’t identify as transgender you are some how considered a gender variant.

Simone de Beauvoir is long dead and buried, besides even in translation The Second Sex is a slog to read. Besides isn’t it obsolete?  Well no!

Masculinity and femininity are culturally defined and vary over time.  Free people reject being defined by gender, gender, gender and the attendant corporate hard sales pitches.

We like what we like and don’t much care whether what we like is defined as masculine or feminine.  We don’t let gender play that big a role in choosing to like an activity or not.

I never really out grew the 1960s and 1970s and era when both hippies and 1970s era dykes spit in the eye of the influence peddlers trying to sell us products by using a heavy dose of gender insecurity.  Ignoring advertising or filing it under “Things to be skeptical of” immunizes one a bit from the propaganda of gender, gender, gender.

From The New York Times:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/18/opinion/my-daughter-is-not-transgender-shes-a-tomboy.html

By Lisa Selin Davis
April 18, 2017

“I just wanted to check,” the teacher said. “Your child wants to be called a boy, right? Or is she a boy that wants to be called a girl? Which is it again?”

I cocked my head. I am used to correcting strangers, who mistake my 7-year-old daughter for a boy 100 percent of the time.

In fact, I love correcting them, making them reconsider their perceptions of what a girl looks like. But my daughter had been attending the after-school program where this woman taught for six months.

“She’s a girl,” I said. The woman looked unconvinced. “Really. She’s a girl, and you can refer to her as a girl.”

Later, when I relayed this conversation to my daughter, she said, “More girls should look like this so it’s more popular so grown-ups won’t be so confused.”

My daughter wears track pants and T-shirts. She has shaggy short hair (the look she requested from the hairdresser was “Luke Skywalker in Episode IV”). Most, but not all, of her friends are boys. She is sporty and strong, incredibly sweet, and a girl.

And yet she is asked by the pediatrician, by her teachers, by people who have known her for many years, if she feels like, or wants to be called, or wants to be, a boy.

In many ways, this is wonderful: It shows a much-needed sensitivity to gender nonconformity and transgender issues. It is considerate of adults to ask her — in the beginning.

But when they continue to question her gender identity — and are skeptical of her response — the message they send is that a girl cannot look and act like her and still be a girl.

She is not gender nonconforming. She is gender role nonconforming. She does not fit into the mold that we adults — who have increasingly eschewed millenniums-old gender roles ourselves, as women work outside the home and men participate in the domestic sphere — still impose upon our children.

Left alone, would boys really never wear pink? (That’s rhetorical — pink was for decades considered a masculine color.) Would girls naturally reject Matchbox cars? Of course not, but if they show preferences for these things, we label them. Somehow, as we have broadened our awareness of and support for gender nonconformity, we’ve narrowed what we think a boy or a girl can look like and do.

Continue reading at:  https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/18/opinion/my-daughter-is-not-transgender-shes-a-tomboy.html