Daily Archives: 7 Jan 14

Laverne Cox flawlessly shuts down Katie Couric’s invasive questions about transgender people

PRIDE Lecture featuring Laverne Cox

“The preoccupation with transition and surgery objectifies trans people. And then we don’t get to really deal with the real lived experiences. The reality of trans people’s lives is that so often we are targets of violence. We experience discrimination disproportionately to the rest of the community. Our unemployment rate is twice the national average; if you are a trans person of color, that rate is four times the national average. The homicide rate is highest among trans women. If we focus on transition, we don’t actually get to talk about those things.” (Salon)

When life support sets a dangerous precedent

‘Jahi McMath is dead. The 13-year-old was declared brain dead on Dec. 12, three days after a tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy to treat her sleep apnea resulted in “heavy bleeding, cardiac arrest and whole brain death.” The Alameda County coroner’s office issued a death certificate for her. And the New Beginnings Community Center says she “has been defined as a deceased person.” Yet there is no funeral planned for the girl, no memorials in her name. Instead, she has been moved to a facility where she receives “nutritional support, hormones and antibiotics to combat infections,” a place where family attorney Christopher Dolan says she is “going to be treated like the innocent little girl that she is, and not like a deceased body.” But while the recent battle over what to do with what remains of the once vibrant teen has for now been settled, the ethical questions over her case – and of what constitutes life and death – remain.’ (Salon).

Robert Reich: The Year of the Great Redistribution

‘ One of the worst epithets that can be leveled at a politician these days is to call him a “redistributionist.” Yet 2013 marked one of the biggest redistributions in recent American history. It was a redistribution upward, from average working people to the owners of America.

The stock market ended 2013 at an all-time high—giving stockholders their biggest annual gain in almost two decades. Most Americans didn’t share in those gains, however, because most people haven’t been able to save enough to invest in the stock market. More than two-thirds of Americans live from paycheck to paycheck. ‘ (Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics)

US freeze is nothing to do with a ‘polar vortex’

‘As temperatures fell, some blamed a mysterious polar vortex, but this is a system of winds in the stratosphere that spins around the Arctic and Antarctic during their respective winters, many kilometres above the weather. There is nothing unusual about the polar vortex, according to the UK Met Office. Instead, cold Arctic air has reached North America thanks to a weakened jet stream.’ (New Scientist).

UK legal proposal: authorities can prevent anyone from doing anything for any reason

‘ The UK’s proposed new Antisocial Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill creates a new kind of injunction, the Ipnas (“injunctions to prevent nuisance and annoyance”), which judges can hand down without proof of wrongdoing to anyone over ten, and send them to jail to violate them (kids go to young offenders centres for up to three months). Along with the Ipnas comes “dispersal orders,” which police can use to order anyone to leave any public place for any length of time, for any reason, on their own say-so. As George Monbiot writes in the Guardian “The new injunctions and the new dispersal orders create a system in which the authorities can prevent anyone from doing more or less anything.” ‘ (Boing Boing).

Extraordinary earthquake lights explained — they’re not UFOs

‘On an April day in 2009, bizarre four-inch flames of light were seen hovering above a stone-paved road in the historical city center of L’Aquila, Italy. Shortly after, a cataclysmic magnitude 6.3 earthquake devastated the area reportedly leaving about 300 people dead.

At the time, these light-filled flashes were thought to be a coincidental phenomenon, but now researchers believe they had a direct correlation to the earthquake.

A new study published in Seismological Research Letters says these flashes of light rarely seen before or during earthquakes are caused by naturally occurring electrical processes in certain types of rock.

L’Aquila was one of several places to see such lights before an earthquake. Other instances include the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, Calif., where locals witnessed a rainbowed light beam above a street right before the temblor, and the 1988 earthquake in Quebec, Canada, where people saw a purplish glowing sphere near the St. Lawrence River 11 days before the quake, according to National Geographic.

The lights can come in “many different shapes, forms, and colors,” study coauthor Friedemann Freund, an adjunct professor of physics at San Jose State University and a senior researcher at NASA’s Ames Research Center, told National Geographic. Not only are there globes of light and flickering flames, but some earthquake lights look like quick bursts of lightning coming straight out of the ground.

Past explanations for these strange colorful lights that preceded earthquakes were UFOs, birds, and planes. The phenomena is rare — it only happens in less than 0.5 percent of earthquakes — which would explain why some witnesses have claimed they were caused by aliens.’ (CNET News).