Happy Joyous Hanukkah, Nefesh Mountain

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: 1960s Folk Music

When I started converting to Judaism in 2019, some one said to me, “Oh no, you won’t like it, you are too independent and too much of a non-conformist.” I said: “I’m converting Reform.” He said: “oh campfires and folk music, that’s different.

The people I’ve met at Temple tend to be the sort who listen to NPR and watch PBS, which is currently running a Beg-a-thon. Which brings me to Folk Music and one of their staples. The Folk Music Revival.

Here’s my version:

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Tulsi Gabbard Introduces Anti-Transgender Bill After Claiming To Be LGBTQ-Friendly

From Huffington Post: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/tulsi-gabbard-anti-transgender-bill-title-ix_n_5fd2de33c5b66a75841389b5

The Hawaii Democrat has drafted a bill to bar schools from receiving federal funds if they allow transgender girls and women to compete in women’s sports.

By Dominique Mosbergen

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) introduced legislation in the House on Thursday that would bar schools from receiving federal funding if they allow transgender girls and women and non-binary people to compete on sports teams consistent with their gender identities.

The bill — co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma — was met with immediate outrage from transgender activists and allies who labeled the legislation “blatantly transphobic.”

The “Protect Women’s Sports Act” seeks to clarify that Title IX protections for female athletes are “based on biological sex,” Gabbard and Mullin said in a statement.

Title IX protects people from discrimination based on sex in educational programs that receive federal financial assistance. The new bill would bar schools from receiving such funds if they permit “a person whose biological sex at birth is male to participate in an athletic program or activity that is designated for women or girls.”

A similar bill was introduced in the Senate earlier this year by Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia) and other Republicans. Loeffler is one of two Republican senators facing competitive runoff elections in Georgia in January.  

Explaining her support for the bill, Gabbard ― who’d previously claimed she supported LGBTQ rights ― said she wants to protect “Title IX’s original intent which was based on the general biological distinction between men and women athletes based on sex.”

“Title IX was a historic provision … to provide equal opportunity for women and girls in high school and college sports. It led to a generational shift that impacted countless women, creating life-changing opportunities for girls and women that never existed before,” she said.

“However,” she added, “Title IX is being weakened by some states who are misinterpreting Title IX, creating uncertainty, undue hardship and lost opportunities for female athletes. It is critical that the legacy of Title IX continues to ensure women and girls in sports have the opportunity to compete and excel on a level playing field.” 

Gabbard faced immediate backlash for the legislation.

Continue reading at: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/tulsi-gabbard-anti-transgender-bill-title-ix_n_5fd2de33c5b66a75841389b5

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What If Friendship, Not Marriage, Was at the Center of Life?

From The Atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2020/10/people-who-prioritize-friendship-over-romance/616779/

“Our boyfriends, our significant others, and our husbands are supposed to be No. 1. Our worlds are backward.”

by Rhaina Cohen
October 20, 2020

Kami West had been dating her current boyfriend for a few weeks when she told him that he was outranked by her best friend. West knew her boyfriend had caught snatches of her daily calls with Kate Tillotson, which she often placed on speaker mode. But she figured that he, like the men she’d dated before, didn’t quite grasp the nature of their friendship. West explained to him, “I need you to know that she’s not going anywhere. She is my No. 1.” Tillotson was there before him, and, West told him, “she will be there after you. And if you think at any point that this isn’t going to be my No. 1, you’re wrong.”

If West’s comments sound blunt, it’s because she was determined not to repeat a distressing experience from her mid-20s. Her boyfriend at that time had sensed that he wasn’t her top priority. In what West saw as an attempt to keep her away from her friend, he disparaged Tillotson, calling her a slut and a bad influence. After the relationship ended, West, 31, vowed to never let another man strain her friendship. She decided that any future romantic partners would have to adapt to her friendship with Tillotson, rather than the other way around.

West and Tillotson know what convention dictates. “Our boyfriends, our significant others, and our husbands are supposed to be No. 1,” West told me. “Our worlds are backward.”

In the past few decades, Americans have broadened their image of what constitutes a legitimate romantic relationship: Courthouses now issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Americans are getting married later in life than ever before, and more and more young adults are opting to share a home rather than a marriage license with a partner. Despite these transformations, what hasn’t shifted much is the expectation that a monogamous romantic relationship is the planet around which all other relationships should orbit.

Continue reading at: https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2020/10/people-who-prioritize-friendship-over-romance/616779/

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Friday Night Fun And Culture: Bob Dylan

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Conservatives outraged that Joe Biden promised to “flat out change” anti-transgender laws

From LGBTQ Nation: https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2020/10/conservatives-outraged-joe-biden-promised-flat-change-anti-transgender-laws/

Biden said there should be “zero discrimination” against transgender kids. Cue the outrage.

An anti-LGBTQ hate group is attacking Joe Biden for supporting transgender people’s rights.

“Joe Biden is wrong to encourage gender transitions for eight-year-old children,” said Peter Sprigg of the anti-LGBTQ hate group Family Research Council.

prigg was reacting to comments Biden made at an ABC News town hall event this past Thursday, where Mieke Haeck, the mother of an eight-year-old transgender girl, asked Biden what he would do to reverse the Trump administration’s onslaught of anti-transgender policy. She specifically cited the transgender military ban and the Trump administration’s rollbacks of the Obama era protections for transgender people in schools, homeless shelters, and other areas.

“I will flat out change the law,” Biden said, explaining that he’ll “eliminate those executive orders.”

“There should be zero discrimination,” he continued, saying that Haeck’s transgender daughter should have all the same rights as her cisgender daughter.

Christian conservatives have been outraged over Biden’s response.

“No, no, no. If you have a child with gender conflicted feelings, you aren’t helping them by encouraging them to embrace body-denying propaganda,” tweeted Kenwood Baptist Church Associate Pastor Denny Burke. “Their body isn’t lying to them about maleness/femaleness. Don’t lie and tell them that it is.”

Over the weekend, Biden wrote a statement where he discussed the “unacceptable” number of Black and brown transgender women of color who have been murdered this year.

“These deaths don’t exist within a vacuum,” he wrote. “Dehumanizing government actions and rhetoric as well as a failure to address risk factors like domestic and intimate partner violence, underemployment and unemployment and poverty, housing insecurity and health disparities, put this community at risk.”


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Friday Night Fun and Culture: Molly Tuttle

It’s been a while since I put up something other than death notices. Over the High Holidays I decided that in the next year I needed to recapture hope and optimism. I need to revitalize this blog and find more joy in life. Early last Sunday morning I stumbled on a radio station playing Molly Tuttle. She is one hell of a guitar player.

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Feminist icon Roxane Gay thinks JK Rowling was ‘rightly vilified’ after ‘painting herself as a victim’

From Pink News:    https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2020/10/13/roxane-gay-jk-rowling-transgender-transphobia-bad-feminist-open-letter/

Roxane Gay thinks Harry Potter author JK Rowling was “rightly vilified” when she tried to turn her explosive views on trans people into a “grand statement on gender”.

Patrick Kelleher
October 13, 2020

The queer author of Bad Feminist lambasted Rowling in an interview with The Irish Times.

“She’s been rightly vilified,” Gay said, when asked about the public backlash Rowling has faced since she publicised her trans views in a lengthy essay in June.

She is painting herself as a victim, but she’s not. She’s a billionaire who has decided to pick on one of the most marginalised groups of people in the world.

“And she has done so by making her fears into some sort of grand statement about gender. It’s absurd. And it’s shocking, that she doesn’t get called out on it more by other writers.”

Gay’s comments come just days after she signed an open letter from the American and Canadian literary community pledging support to trans and non-binary people.

The powerful letter was signed by more than 1,800 high-profile literary figures, including Stephen King, Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman.


The letter, while not directly addressing Rowling’s comments, was initiated by author Maureen Johnson over “transphobia in the publishing discourse and community” .

“When JK got involved in [trans rights] it gave a lot of legitimacy to something that before seemed fringe. It became more accepted, because people know JK from Harry Potter,” Johnson told Publishers Weekly on Thursday.

“Sometimes you need to put your name on the line and say: ‘I don’t agree with what’s going on.’”

Gay has been a vocal advocate for trans rights for some time. Speaking to the New Statesman in 2019, the writer and commentator hit out at anti-trans feminists, saying they should “know better, having been marginalised as women throughout history and today”.

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Monica Roberts Has Passed Away

Monica Roberts was a billion watt voice for the often overlooked Black Trans-Community.  Always there to point out how many of the murdered tranwomen we remember each November were Black and at an intersection of oppressions.

She was unique as are all trans-activists.  We all sing out against our oppression with our own voices coming from our own life experiences. Now her voice is silent, others may step up and keep speaking out against the same forces of oppression but they will never have the same power of anger and outrage as Monica.

She wasn’t an easy person for me to get along with, even when we agreed 100% on issues.  But when it came to speaking truth to power Monica was second to none.

She needs to be remembered whenever future trans-activists are setting policies and may not have considered the needs of people of color in setting those policies.

From LGBTQ Nation:  https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2020/10/black-transgender-journalist-advocate-monica-roberts-passed-away/


Monica Roberts has passed away and TBLG media will not be the same.

Roberts, 58, was best known on the internet for her award-winning blog, TransGriot, a website that covered transgender news before there was much trams representation in major TBLG (her preferred order for the letters) publications. Even up to this today, several writers and editors at LGBTQ Nation checked her website daily to see what she had to tell the world.

Continue reading at:  https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2020/10/black-transgender-journalist-advocate-monica-roberts-passed-away/
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Another transgender woman fatally shot in Puerto Rico – the 6th killing of a trans person this year in the U.S. territory

From The New York Daily News: https://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/ny-transgender-woman-killed-puerto-rico-michelle-ramos-vargas-20200930-xnf2a4i6ivdt7phe5eqjwwriwu-story.html

Human rights activists are mourning the loss of another transgender woman in Puerto Rico.

The body of 33-year-old Michelle Ramos Vargas was found Wednesday morning alongside an isolated road near a farm in the southwest town of San German, according to The Associated Press.

Local newspaper Noticel reported that police haven’t ruled out her killing as a hate crime.

Police officer Manuel Cruz told the AP that the victim was shot several times in the head. She apparently worked as a bartender and was studying to become a nurse.

Human rights activist Pedro Julio Serrano condemned the killing and denounced the negligence and inaction of the local government on violence against the island’s LGBTQ community.

“They are violating us, they are hunting us and they are murdering us while [Puerto Rico governor] Wanda Vázquez and her government chooses to look away,” Serrano said in a statement, noting that there have been six transgender people murdered in Puerto Rico this year.

“Enough of so much hatred. Trans people are as human beings as others and they deserve to live in peace, equity and freedom,” he added.

Earlier this year, the bodies of Layla Peláez, 21, and Serena Angelique Velázquez, 32, were found inside a charred Hyundai Elantra on April 22 in the city of Humacao, on Puerto Rico’s eastern coast.

Their deaths came just days after 31-year-old Penélope Díaz Ramírez, was killed at the Bayamon correctional complex.

On Feb. 24, Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, another trans woman, was fatally shot in Toa Baja, in northern Puerto Rico. About a week later, Yampi Méndez Arocho, a transgender man, was killed after being assaulted in Moca, some 50 miles east of Toa Baja.

“There is no plan to stop these hate crimes, a state of emergency for gender violence has not been issued, there is nothing,” Serrano tweeted.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, there have been at least 29 violent deaths of transgender or gender non-conforming people in the U.S. this year — nearly all of them are trans women of color.

Ramos became the 30th known transgender person to be murdered in the U.S. in 2020.


From HRC:  https://www.hrc.org/news/hrc-lamenta-la-p%C3%A9rdida-de-michelle-michellyn-ramos-vargas-una-mujer-transg%C3%A9nero-asesinada-en-puerto-rico

by Madeleine Roberts
October 2, 2020

HRC lamenta la pérdida de Michelle Michellyn Ramos Vargas, identificada como Michelle Ramos Vargas o Michellyn Ramos Vargas, una mujer transgénero asesinada en San Germán, Puerto Rico, de acuerdo con algunos informes.

Vargas fue encontrada muerta por múltiples heridas de bala en la madrugada del 30 de septiembre. Se cree que su muerte corresponde al a la numerosa e inexacta lista de asesinatos violentos de personas transgénero o de género no conforme en lo que va del año en los EE.UU. Decimos “inexacta” porque con frecuencia estas muertes no son reportadas o lo son de manera errónea. El número de muertes de personas transgéneros o de género no conforme, de acuerdo con el registro de HRC durante todo este año, ha superado el número total de asesinatos del registro de 2019.

“Por lo menos tres mujeres transgénero fueron asesinadas en menos de dos semanas. Este nivel de violencia o cualquier nivel de violencia, es inaceptable,” dijo Tori Cooper, directora de Participación Comunitaria y la Iniciativa de Justicia Transgénero de HRC. “El racismo, la transfobia y misoginia desempeñan un papel clave en las muertes de personas transgénero y de género no conforme, en particular a mujeres transgénero de color. Mientras lamentamos la muerte de Michelle, debemos tomar iniciativa contra la violencia hacia la comunidad transgénero. Una de las acciones que debemos tomar es colaborar con legisladores para establecer y asegurar las políticas que protegen los derechos de las personas transgénero. Debemos trabajar juntos para apoyar a nuestro familiares y comunidad transgénero”.

Vargas, de más de treinta años aproximadamente, estaba estudiando enfermería en Ponce Paramedical College.

En 2020, seis de las 30 muertes de personas transgénero y de género no conforme ocurrieron en Puerto Rico. A principios de este año, otras cinco personas transgénero: Neulisa Lucian Ruiz (también conocida como Alexa), Yampi Méndez Arocho, Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, Layla Pelaez Sánchez y Penélope Díaz Ramírez fueron asesinadas en la isla.

Más de 10,000 crímenes de odio en los EE. UU. involucran un arma de fuego cada año, lo que equivale a más de 28 por día, según un informe de HRC, Everyone for Gun Safety Support Fund, Giffords Law Center e Equality Florida titulado “Recordando y honrando Pulse: Los prejuicios anti-LGBTQ y las armas están acabando con la vida de innumerables personas LGBTQ”. El informe también señala un marcado aumento en los delitos de odio contra las personas LGBTQ, especialmente contra personas trangénero. Tres cuartas partes de los homicidios de las personas transgénero han involucrado un arma, y casí ocho de cada 10 homicidios de mujeres transgénero negras involucran un arma. Además, los defensores de derechos vieron un aumento del 43% en la formación de grupos de odio anti-LGBTQ en 2019.

Debemos exigir el bienestar de esta comuniad a nuestros funcionarios electos y rechazar la legislación anti-transgénero dañina a nivel local, estatal y federal. Este tipo de violencia mortal afecta de manera desproporcionada a las mujeres transgénero de color. El conjunto interseccional de racismo, transfobia, sexismo, bifobia y homofobia conspiran para privarlas de condiciones básicas para vivir y prosperar.

Esta epidemia de violencia dirigida desproporcionadamente a personas transgénero de color, en particular las mujeres transgénero negras, debe cesar.

Para obtener más información sobre el trabajo de justicia transgénero de HRC, visite hrc.org/transgender.

HRC Mourns Aerrion Burnett, Black Trans Woman Killed in Missouri

From HRC: https://www.hrc.org/news/hrc-mourns-aerrion-burnett-black-trans-woman-killed-in-missouri

By  Madeleine Roberts

The Human Rights Campaign is horrified to learn of the death of Aerrion Burnett, 37, in Independence, Missouri. Burnett, who was from Kansas City, was found dead of a gunshot wound early on September 19. Her death is believed to be at least the 28th violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person this year in the U.S. We say “at least” because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported. The number of transgender or gender non-conforming people whom HRC has tracked as being killed so far this year has now surpassed the total number of deaths that HRC tracked in all of 2019.

“Black transgender women are being killed at horrifying rates in this country,” said HRC Director of Community Engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative Tori Cooper. “The number of violent deaths of trans and gender non-conforming people that HRC has tracked this year has now surpassed the number we saw for all of last year. This level of violence is staggering, and it cannot continue. We need everyone — from community organizers to those in the highest levels of our government — to take action to end this epidemic of violence. I and everyone in the trans community are mourning Aerrion’s death. As we remember her, we continue to call for justice for all trans and gender non-conforming people.”

Burnett’s family and friends held a vigil the day after her death, releasing balloons in her honor and sharing memories of her.

“She was a goddess,” said her friend Korea Kelly. “If you wanted to have a good day, you need to smile, Aerrion was the person you wanted by your side.” Another friend remembered her as the “life of the party.”

Members of Burnett’s family also called for justice.

“Enough is enough,” said a cousin of Burnett’s. “Stop taking our lives. Lives matter. You can’t get them back, and it hurts so many people.”

In an injustice compounding this tragedy, Burnett has been misgendered and misnamed in the media following her death. Anti-transgender stigma is exacerbated by callous or disrespectful treatment by some in the media, law enforcement and elected offices. According to HRC research, it is estimated that approximately three-quarters of all known victims were misgendered by the media or by law enforcement. In the pursuit of greater accuracy and respect, HRC offers guidelines for journalists and others who report on transgender people.

More than 10,000 hate crimes in the U.S. involve a firearm each year, which equates to more than 28 each day, according to a report from HRC, Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, Giffords Law Center and Equality Florida titled “Remembering and Honoring Pulse: Anti-LGBTQ Bias and Guns Are Taking Lives of Countless LGBTQ People.” The report also notes a marked increase in anti-LGBTQ hate crimes, especially against transgender people. Three-fourths of homicides against transgender people have involved a gun, and nearly eight in 10 homicides of Black trans women involve a gun. Further, advocates saw a 43% increase in the formation of anti-LGBTQ hate groups in 2019.

The Independence Police Department, which is currently investigating Burnett’s killing as a homicide, asks anyone with information about this case to contact the Tips Hotline at (816) 474-TIPS, IPD tips at (816) 325-7777 or email leads@indepmo.org.

At the state level, transgender and gender non-conforming people in Missouri are not explicitly protected from discrimination in employment, housing, education and public spaces, although Missouri does include gender identity as a protected characteristic in its hate crimes law. Nationally, despite some marginal gains that support and affirm transgender people, the past few years have been marked by anti-LGBTQ attacks at all levels of government.

We must demand better from our elected officials and reject harmful anti-transgender legislation at the local, state and federal levels. It is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color. The intersections of racism, transphobia, sexism, biphobia and homophobia conspire to deprive them of necessities to live and thrive.

This epidemic of violence that disproportionately targets transgender people of color — particularly Black transgender women — must cease.

For more information about HRC’s transgender justice work, visit hrc.org/transgender.

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Hannah Story | Isabel Rose | Central Synagogue Rosh HaShanah 2020

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Judith Butler on the culture wars, JK Rowling and living in “anti-intellectual times”

From The New Statesman:  https://www.newstatesman.com/international/2020/09/judith-butler-culture-wars-jk-rowling-and-living-anti-intellectual-times

The philosopher and gender theorist discusses tensions in the feminist movement over trans rights.

By Alona Ferber
22 September 2020

Thirty years ago, the philosopher Judith Butler*, now 64, published a book that revolutionised popular attitudes on gender. Gender Trouble, the work she is perhaps best known for, introduced ideas of gender as performance. It asked how we define “the category of women” and, as a consequence, who it is that feminism purports to fight for. Today, it is a foundational text on any gender studies reading list, and its arguments have long crossed over from the academy to popular culture.

In the three decades since Gender Trouble was published, the world has changed beyond recognition. In 2014, TIME declared a “Transgender Tipping Point”. Butler herself has moved on from that earlier work, writing widely on culture and politics. But disagreements over biological essentialism remain, as evidenced by the tensions over trans rights within the feminist movement.

How does Butler, who is Maxine Elliot Professor of Comparative Literature at Berkeley, see this debate today? And does she see a way to break the impasse? Butler recently exchanged emails with the New Statesman about this issue. The exchange has been edited.

Alona Ferber: In Gender Trouble, you wrote that “contemporary feminist debates over the meanings of gender lead time and again to a certain sense of trouble, as if the indeterminacy of gender might eventually culminate in the failure of feminism”. How far do ideas you explored in that book 30 years ago help explain how the trans rights debate has moved into mainstream culture and politics?

Judith Butler: I want to first question whether trans-exclusionary feminists are really the same as mainstream feminists. If you are right to identify the one with the other, then a feminist position opposing transphobia is a marginal position. I think this may be wrong. My wager is that most feminists support trans rights and oppose all forms of transphobia. So I find it worrisome that suddenly the trans-exclusionary radical feminist position is understood as commonly accepted or even mainstream. I think it is actually a fringe movement that is seeking to speak in the name of the mainstream, and that our responsibility is to refuse to let that happen.

AF: One example of mainstream public discourse on this issue in the UK is the argument about allowing people to self-identify in terms of their gender. In an open letter she published in June, JK Rowling articulated the concern that this would “throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman”, potentially putting women at risk of violence.

JB: If we look closely at the example that you characterise as “mainstream” we can see that a domain of fantasy is at work, one which reflects more about the feminist who has such a fear than any actually existing situation in trans life. The feminist who holds such a view presumes that the penis does define the person, and that anyone with a penis would identify as a woman for the purposes of entering such changing rooms and posing a threat to the women inside. It assumes that the penis is the threat, or that any person who has a penis who identifies as a woman is engaging in a base, deceitful, and harmful form of disguise. This is a rich fantasy, and one that comes from powerful fears, but it does not describe a social reality. Trans women are often discriminated against in men’s bathrooms, and their modes of self-identification are ways of describing a lived reality, one that cannot be captured or regulated by the fantasies brought to bear upon them. The fact that such fantasies pass as public argument is itself cause for worry.

AF: I want to challenge you on the term “terf”, or trans-exclusionary radical feminist, which some people see as a slur.

JB: I am not aware that terf is used as a slur. I wonder what name self-declared feminists who wish to exclude trans women from women’s spaces would be called? If they do favour exclusion, why not call them exclusionary? If they understand themselves as belonging to that strain of radical feminism that opposes gender reassignment, why not call them radical feminists? My only regret is that there was a movement of radical sexual freedom that once travelled under the name of radical feminism, but it has sadly morphed into a campaign to pathologise trans and gender non-conforming peoples. My sense is that we have to renew the feminist commitment to gender equality and gender freedom in order to affirm the complexity of gendered lives as they are currently being lived.

Continue reading at:  https://www.newstatesman.com/international/2020/09/judith-butler-culture-wars-jk-rowling-and-living-anti-intellectual-times

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Two Self-Described “Boogaloo Bois” Charged with Attempting to Provide Material Support to Hamas

US Department of Justice:  https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/two-self-described-boogaloo-bois-charged-attempting-provide-material-support-hamas

Department of Justice
Office of Public Affairs

Friday, September 4, 2020

Two Self-Described “Boogaloo Bois” Charged with Attempting to Provide Material Support to Hamas

The Justice Department today announced a federal criminal complaint charging Michael Robert Solomon, 30, and Benjamin Ryan Teeter, 22, with conspiring and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization (Hamas).

Solomon and Teeter, who were taken into custody yesterday evening, made their initial appearances earlier today before Magistrate Judge Tony N. Leung in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  The defendants were ordered to remain in custody pending a formal detention hearing, which is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020.

“This case can only be understood as a disturbing example of the old adage, ‘The enemy of your enemy is your friend,’” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers for the National Security Division.  “As alleged in the complaint, these defendants sought to use violence against the police, other government officials and government property as part of their desire to overthrow the government.  While planning these activities, the defendants met individuals whom they believed to be members of the foreign terrorist group Hamas.  Thinking that they shared the same desire to harm the United States, they sought to join forces and provide support, including in the form of weapons accessories, to Hamas.  They failed.  No matter what witch’s brew of ideological motivations inspire those who seek to engage in terrorist activity and harm our country and our fellow citizens, the National Security Division is committed to identifying and holding them accountable.  I want to thank the agents, analysts, and prosecutors who are responsible for this case and ensuring that these defendants could not carry out their deadly plans.”

“Michael Solomon and Benjamin Teeter proclaim themselves to be members of the Boogaloo Bois, a group that espouses a violent ideology and an objective to overthrow the government.  The defendants believed their anti-U.S. government views aligned with those of Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization, and actively developed plans to carry out violence in Minnesota and elsewhere,” said U.S. Attorney Erica H. MacDonald.  “Whenever extremist ideologies, regardless of their roots, move into the realm of violence, the FBI and its Joint Terrorism Task Force stands at the ready to prevent potentially deadly and destructive plots.”

“The FBI is committed to stopping acts of violence against law enforcement officers or anyone else in our communities. According to the criminal complaint, the defendants in this case were willing to work with Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization, in order to get money for potential acts of violence here in the U.S.,” said Jill Sanborn, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division.  “The FBI’s Minneapolis Field Office demonstrated that we will continue working with our law enforcement partners to detect and stop such activity and protect public safety.”

According to the allegations in the criminal complaint and law enforcement affidavit, in late May of 2020, the FBI initiated an investigation into Solomon and Teeter, two members of the “Boogaloo Bois,” and a sub-group called the “Boojahideen.”  The Boogaloo Bois are a loosely- connected group of individuals who espouse violent anti-government sentiments.  The term “Boogaloo” itself references a supposedly impending second civil war in the United States and is associated with violent uprisings against the government.

According to the allegations in the criminal complaint and law enforcement affidavit, during the civil unrest in the Twin Cities following the death of George Floyd, according to a witness, Solomon was openly carrying firearms in a residential neighborhood in Minneapolis.  Solomon and Teeter interacted with the witness over the course of several days.  The witness told FBI agents that Solomon and Teeter possessed firearms and substantial quantities of ammunition and that Solomon, Teeter, and other members of the Boogaloo Bois and Boojahideen discussed committing acts of violence against police officers and other targets in furtherance of the Boojahideen’s stated goal of overthrowing the government and replacing its police forces.

According to the allegations in the criminal complaint and law enforcement affidavit, in early June, the FBI received information about Solomon, Teeter, and other members of the Boogaloo Bois and the Boojahideen through a confidential human source (“CHS”), whom the defendants believed to be a member of Hamas.  In audio-recorded conversations, Solomon and Teeter expressed that Hamas shares anti-U.S. government views that align with their own views.  Solomon and Teeter also expressed their desire to employ themselves as “mercenaries” for Hamas as a means to generate cash for the Boogaloo Bois/Boojahideen movement, including funding for recruitment and purchasing land for a training compound.

According to the allegations in the criminal complaint and law enforcement affidavit, Solomon and Teeter shared with the CHS, and another individual whom they believed to be a more senior member of Hamas (and who was actually an undercover employee of the FBI), their ideas about destroying government monuments, raiding the headquarters of a white supremacist organization in North Carolina, and targeting politicians and members of the media.

Solomon and Teeter also expressed their ability to manufacture unmarked parts for guns and create unregistered and untraceable weapons, including suppressors.  On July 30, Solomon and Teeter delivered to the individual they believed to be a senior member of Hamas five suppressors and expressed their desire to manufacture additional suppressors and fully-automatic weapons for Hamas.  Solomon and Teeter later negotiated with the individual a price of $1,800 for five additional suppressors.  Solomon and Teeter also delivered to the individual a “drop in auto sear” (“DIAS”), a part designed and intended for use in converting a weapon to shoot automatically.  Solomon and Teeter believed the suppressors and the DIAS would be used by Hamas overseas to attack Israeli and U.S soldiers.

This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, with assistance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew R. Winter, and Trial Attorneys George Kraehe and Phil Viti of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.

This case falls with the purview of the Attorney General’s Task Force to Combat Violent Anti-Government Extremism. Launched in June 2020, the Task Force is dedicated to supporting the investigation and prosecution of any person or group who commits violence in the name of an anarchist ideology.

The charges contained in the complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Defendant Information:

Michael Robert Solomon, 30

New Brighton, Minn.


  • Conspiring and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization (Hamas)

Benjamin Ryan Teeter, 22

Hampstead, N.C.


  • Conspiring and attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization (Hamas)
National Security
Press Release Number:
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Conservative group releases anti-transgender political ads in Michigan

From NBC News:  https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/conservative-group-releases-anti-transgender-political-ads-michigan-n1239319

American Principles Project announced that it will spend millions in battleground states to expose Democrats’ “transgender radicalism.”

By Brooke Sopelsa
Sept. 4, 2020

“All female athletes want is a fair shot at competition,” a young woman can be heard saying over a video of several athletes preparing to run a race. “But what if that shot was taken away by a competitor who claims to be a girl but was born a boy?”

That controversial digital ad — which then shows a teen boy outrunning his female competitors and shrugging at them with indifference afterwards — is one of three released this week by the American Principles Project, a Virginia-based conservative think tank, and its PAC. The group issued a statement Thursday saying the political ads are part of a $4 million effort to “target persuadable Democrats and independent voters in key swing states.”

Half of the campaign budget will be spent in Michigan, a state Trump won in 2016 but now lags in the polls, and the American Principles Project confirmed it will release ads in Wisconsin “in the coming weeks.” The group said it hopes the Michigan ads draw attention to the support of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., “for policies which would allow biological males to compete in women’s sports and push children into dangerous, life-altering sex-change” procedures.

The two other ads feature Kevin Whitt, a man who says he lived as a woman for 17 years before deciding to detransition. Whitt warns viewers that “treatments to change the gender of a minor are very dangerous and irreversible.”

The Biden and Peters campaigns did not immediately respond to a requests for comment.

National LGBTQ advocacy groups, including the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD, were quick to denounce the campaign.

“These ads perpetuate dangerous stereotypes, traffic in misinformation, and put the lives of transgender people at risk,” GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. “Sites and social media platforms like YouTube and Facebook should decline to run them and send a message loud and clear that those who would use their platforms to peddle hate and lies will not be tolerated or validated.”

The Human Rights Campaign also called for social media companies to take down the digital ads, saying they are blatant lies from an “outdated playbook.”

Continue reading at:  https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/conservative-group-releases-anti-transgender-political-ads-michigan-n1239319

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Femicide Is a Growing Issue in the United States

The murder of transwomen doesn’t occur in a vacuum.  Transwomen are just among the most vulnerable of women in a growing climate of violence perpetrated by men who have come to realize they are not the masters of the universe the way they fantasize they are.

From Teen Voguehttps://www.teenvogue.com/story/femicide-is-a-growing-issue-in-the-united-states

The killings of Vanessa Guillén, Oluwatoyin Salau, Nina Pop, and many more are part of a global problem.

August 28, 2020

The killing of 20-year-old Vanessa Guillén, a Mexican-American Army specialist who disappeared from Fort Hood, Texas on April 22, whose remains were found more than two months later on June 30, has spurred conversations about violence against women in the military. Hundreds of women, in what has been called the “military’s #MeToo moment,” have shared stories about sexual harassment and assault, illustrating a culture of violence within the ranks of the U.S. military.

Before her disappearance, Guillén told her family that she had been sexually harassed. News of her experience with sexual harassment spurred other women service members to share their own stories under the hashtag #IAmVanessaGuillen. After her remains were found, a criminal complaint released by the Department of Justice alleges that fellow soldier Aaron Robinson murdered Guillén at Fort Hood, dismembering and burying her body with the help of his girlfriend, Cecily Aguilar. On July 1, Robinson died by suicide. Aguilar has been charged with tampering with documents or proceedings and has pleaded not guilty.

As Vanessa Guillen’s murder, horrific in its own right, has helped uncover a pattern of violence within the military, it also reveals a larger global epidemic of violence against cis and transgender women. Femicide, generally understood to mean the murder of women for being women, a term often applied abroad, is a global issue that significantly impacts Black, Indigenous, poor, and migrant women. It’s oftentimes thought of as violence relegated to peripheries, border cities like Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, or endemic to regions like Latin America or Africa. The truth is that femicide is an ever-present and growing crisis in the United States.

There are various types of femicide, and it can be hard to collect data on these killings because some countries don’t collect information that could categorize them as so, according to the World Health Organization. Compounding that difficulty is that various places define the word differently — for some, femicide means the killing of women because they are a woman, while for others it’s any murder of a woman. Some countries, like Mexico, have passed laws against femicide, giving a legal meaning to the term: the murder of a woman can be classified as a femicide if her killing was motivated by gender. The U.S. hasn’t adopted a standardized definition for the term but the federal government tracks domestic violence killings. The Violence Against Women Act passed in 1994 recognizes domestic violence as a national crime.

While there’s no consensus on what qualifies as femicide, this kind of violence has been on the rise globally. In Latin America, El Salvador and Honduras are consistently among the countries with the highest femicide rates globally, while Mexico saw a 145% jump in femicide cases between 2015 and 2019. Last year, South Africa declared femicide a national crisis when nearly 3,000 women were murdered between 2018 and 2019.

These numbers are shocking, but often ignored are the rising rates of femicide in the United States.

Please, please follow the link I’m giving you and read the rest of the article: https://www.teenvogue.com/story/femicide-is-a-growing-issue-in-the-united-states

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Transgender Woman Found Dead At the Bronx’s Orchard Beach

From Gay City News: https://www.gaycitynews.com/transgender-woman-found-dead-at-orchard-beach/

September 1, 2020

A 23-year-old woman that police say was found dead at Orchard Beach in the Bronx on the morning on August 31 was transgender, according to news reports as well as to the confused manner in which the NYPD described its discovery of the death.

Police found the woman unconscious and unresponsive in the sand near Orchard Beach Road and Park Drive at approximately 6:09 a.m. EMS responders arrived shortly thereafter and pronounced the individual dead.

There are very few additional details surrounding the circumstances of the victim’s death. An investigation is underway and the NYPD is awaiting a cause of death from the medical examiner.

Investigation underway as officials await cause of death from medical examiner

Police identified the individual as a woman but appeared to deadname her with a male first name in an email. However, a spokesperson representing the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner subsequently told Gay City News that the individual was known as Ellie Williams. In a GoFundMe apparently posted by the victim in July, they identified as Elie Che and described themselves as a “Black trans woman.” An individual who said they were a friend of the victim contacted Gay City News to say they victim used the pronoun they/ them.

The victim resided in Manhattan, according to the NYPD. The police did not immediately respond to an email seeking clarification about the individual’s gender identity, but NBC New York reported that the person was a transgender woman.

Out gay Bronx City Councilmember Ritchie Torres, who is well on his way to Congress after winning his Democratic primary in June, responded to the news with a call to action to stand up for trans individuals.

“We continue to live in a society that brutally devalues trans lives, often with murderous consequences,” Torres said in a tweet. “All of us must do our part in fighting institutional transphobia.”

The case marks yet another violent death of a transgender woman just over a month after Tiffany Harris, a Black trans woman, was fatally stabbed inside an apartment building at 2575 Jerome Avenue in the Bronx. In another case stemming from March, a 33-year-old trans woman named Lexi was stabbed to death in East Harlem. Two transgender women from New York City were killed in April when they were visiting Puerto Rico.

At least 26 known transgender, gender non-conforming or non-binary individuals have suffered violent deaths so far this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign. There were 27 such deaths in all of last year.

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American, Military Hopeful, Transgender

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JK Rowling returns human rights award to group that denounces her trans views

I hate it when artists who produce work I enjoy turn out to be really scummy bigots.  I can excuse some who were writing, painting etc long ago as just being a product of their times.  But when you are current and people are calling on you to try and change your bigotry it is a different story.

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/aug/28/jk-rowling-robert-f-kennedy-human-rights-award-trans-views

Author ‘follows my conscience’ after head of Robert F Kennedy Human Rights group says her views are transphobic

Fri 28 Aug 2020

JK Rowling is returning the Ripple of Hope award given to her last year by the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights (RFKHR) organisation after its president, Kennedy’s daughter, criticised her views on transgender issues.

The award, which is for people who have shown a “commitment to social change”, was presented to Rowling in December for her work with her children’s charity, Lumos. On receiving the award, Rowling called it “one of the highest honours I’ve ever been given” and said “Robert Kennedy embodied everything I most admire in a human being”. Previous winners include Barack Obama, archbishop Desmond Tutu and Joe Biden.

But earlier this month, Kerry Kennedy, a lawyer and president of RFKHR, put out a statement describing her “dismay” over what “deeply troubling transphobic tweets and statements” made by the Harry Potter author.

In early June, the author wrote a series of comments on Twitter laying out her views on gender identity, including one that said: “If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives.” These comments were condemned by LGBT charities, as well as several actors who have worked in the Harry Potter franchise. Rowling then wrote a highly personal essay revealing her experience of domestic abuse and sexual assault, in which she argued that trans women who have not undergone hormone therapy or surgical transition should not have access to single-sex spaces.

In her statement Kennedy said that Rowling’s comments “had the effect of degrading trans people’s lived experiences”, and that her “attacks upon the transgender community are inconsistent with the fundamental beliefs and values of RFKHR and represent a repudiation of my father’s vision”.

“The science is clear and conclusive: sex is not binary,” wrote Kennedy, adding that she had spoken with the author to express her “profound disappointment that she has chosen to use her remarkable gifts to create a narrative that diminishes the identity of trans and nonbinary people, undermining the validity and integrity of the entire transgender community”.

On Thursday, Rowling announced on her website that she would be returning the award.

“Because of the very serious conflict of views between myself and RFKHR, I feel I have no option but to return the Ripple of Hope award bestowed upon me last year,” Rowling wrote. “I am deeply saddened that RFKHR has felt compelled to adopt this stance, but no award or honour, no matter my admiration for the person for whom it was named, means so much to me that I would forfeit the right to follow the dictates of my own conscience.”

Rowling said that Kennedy’s statement “incorrectly implied that I was transphobic, and that I am responsible for harm to trans people”.

The author said she had received “thousands of private emails of support … from people affected by these issues, both within and without the trans community” and that she “absolutely refute[s] the accusation that I hate trans people or wish them ill, or that standing up for the rights of women is wrong, discriminatory, or incites harm or violence to the trans community”.

“RFKHR has stated that there is no conflict between the current radical trans rights movement and the rights of women,” said Rowling. “The thousands of women who’ve got in touch with me disagree, and, like me, believe this clash of rights can only be resolved if more nuance is permitted in the debate.”

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/aug/28/jk-rowling-robert-f-kennedy-human-rights-award-trans-views

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Trans women pose no threat to cis women, but we pose a threat to them if we make them outcasts

From The Guardian UK:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/aug/10/trans-rights-feminist-letter-rebecca-solnit

Growing up in San Francisco, the loudest, proudest queer town around, made it clear to me that gender was what you made of it

Mon 10 Aug 2020

Dear ladies who are fearful and hostile to trans women,

That I grew up and spent most of my life in San Francisco I consider one of my greatest strokes of luck, because it was in its heyday the loudest, proudest queer town around. Even as a straight girl, maybe especially as a straight girl, I benefited endlessly from that. I went to my first gay bar here when I was about 14, with a gay man who was the kindest person in my adolescence. The drag queens who were his friends were also kind, and fortysomething years later my life in and around the queer community has been largely an experience of kindness. Of kindness and liberation, because all these people made it clear to me that gender was what you made of it, and biology is not destiny, and that was really helpful.

As I’ve watched transphobia explode in the American right and the British whatever, I’ve thought over my own experience. San Francisco has been for a century or so a sanctuary city for dissident, rebel and queer people, so I suspect I have lived my whole adult life in a place with more trans people per capita than almost anyplace else. Transphobes are always warning us that if trans people live in peace and legal recognition and even have rights, there will be terrible consequences, but I assume that we here have long realized, at least to some extent, that dreaded future, and we’re all fine.

Despite this, people – many of whom are supposed to be feminists – keep coming up with lurid “what ifs”. My response to them is: trans women do not pose a threat to cis-gender women, and feminism is a subcategory of human rights advocacy, which means, sorry, you can’t be a feminist if you’re not for everyone’s human rights, notably other women’s rights.

Second wave feminism produced the classic 1972 children’s album Free to Be You and Me, which I’d like to point out was not titled Free to Be Me But I Get to Define You. Back then we thought gender really was kind of binary and defined by genitals; science has gotten smarter in the decades since and we now know it’s a complex interplay of chromosomes, hormones, primary and secondary sexual characteristics and other stuff, some of which is in the brain, not the pants, and also that quite a significant number of people are born intersex, and some are misgendered at birth, and male and female never were airtight categories anyway. Cultures from Native America to India have long recognized that there are other ways to be gendered. This complexity and fluidity can be a blessing and it’s something feminism embraced when it demanded that “woman” not be a category be so tightly defined by roles, relationships, appearances and limits set upon our options.

At this point in my life I have trans friends and nonbinary friends, bisexual, gay and lesbian friends who are poets and photographers, doctors and nurses, climate organizers and professors and historians and one gay Buddhist priest who’s also a Sister of Perpetual Indulgence, speaking of San Francisco things I’m proud of. I’m not speaking for any of them; so many queer and trans people have already spoken up eloquently, but perhaps there’s something useful for a cis-gender straight woman to say to other cis-gender women, which I’m gonna say as someone who is also a hardcore feminist: the major threat to women, straight or not, cis- or not, always was and still is straight men and patriarchy.

Every category is leaky and there are exceptions to every rule, but that’s where the lion’s share of violence against women comes from, as rape and domestic violence and harassment and murder. One of the really weird fears about trans women is that they’re men pretending to be women to do nefarious things to other women, but that’s either a fear of straight cis-gender men who do horrific things to women incessantly all over the world, in which case the problem is still straight men, or a deep misunderstanding of what trans women are. And yes, men who want to harm women could dress up as women, but they could also pretend to be repairmen or emergency workers to get into our homes, and actually have, and we haven’t banned repairmen and emergency workers yet.

Continue reading at:  https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/aug/10/trans-rights-feminist-letter-rebecca-solnit

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