Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Elton John stands up

Elton John's weighing on the war against LGBTQ+ people.  Jennifer Hassan (WASHINGTON POST) reports:

British singer Elton John has criticized anti-LGBTQ+ laws in the United States, saying “it’s all going pear-shaped in America” and that he will no longer hold residencies there.

“We seem to be going backwards. And that spreads. It’s like a virus that the LGBTQ+ movement is suffering,” the Grammy-winning singer said in an interview with the U.K.’s Radio Times.

[. . .]

More anti-LGBTQ+ bills passed into state law in the first four months of this year than at any other time in U.S. history, a Washington Post analysis earlier this year found. Many of these laws focused on transgender rights, and were signed into law either by Republican governors or GOP legislatures that overrode Democratic governors’ vetoes.

The American Civil Liberties Union has tracked almost 500 anti-LGBTQ+ bills in states across the country so far this year, and notes that “while not all of these bills will become law, they all cause harm for LGBTQ+ people.”

President Biden has described anti-transgender legislation in Florida as “close to sinful.” In December, he also signed the Respect for Marriage Act, granting federal protections to same-sex and interracial couples, in response to the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in many states.

Good for Elton John for calling it out.  Good for Sheryl Crowe, Lizzo, Taylor Smith, Cyndi Lauper, Beyonce, Jason Isbell, Maren Morris, Hayley Williams, Hozier, Mya Byrne, Julien Baker, Joy Oladokun,  and everyone else who has found the spine to stand up for what is right.  (I praise Garth Brooks for refusing to be bullied but I don't know that he's standing up for the LGBTQ+ community.  He may just be a Bud fan or he may just not want anyone to tell him what he's allowed to serve in his bar.)  

These measures are wrong, mean spirited, anti-democracy and so much more.  Thankfully, they have not faired well in court.  WPTA reports another judge has said no:

A federal court issued a preliminary injunction on Friday to block the Indiana law that bans doctors from providing gender-affirming care to minors.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana previously asked the Indianapolis judge for an injunction to stop the law from taking effect on July 1. The ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of four transgender youths and an Indiana doctor who provides relevant treatment after Governor Eric Holcomb signed the bill on April 5.

The group says the ban violates the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection guarantees, federal laws regarding essential medical services and wrongly prohibits Indiana doctors from communicating with out-of-state doctors about gender-affirming care for their patients younger than 18.

So that's  Indiana and there was Florida before. If it's an adult, it should be no one else's business.  If it is someone who's not yet 18, it's a family decision and Hate Merchants need to back off.  And it's three! AP reports:

A federal judge struck down Arkansas' first-in-the-nation ban on gender-affirming care for children as unconstitutional Tuesday, the first ruling to overturn such a prohibition as a growing number of Republican-led states adopt similar restrictions.

U.S. District Judge Jay Moody issued a permanent injunction against the Arkansas law, which would have prohibited doctors from providing gender-affirming hormone treatment, puberty blockers or surgery to anyone under 18.

Arkansas' law, which Moody temporarily blocked in 2021, also would have prohibited doctors from referring patients elsewhere for such care.

Republican lawmakers in Arkansas enacted the ban in 2021, overriding a veto by former GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Hutchinson, who left office in January, said the law went too far by cutting off treatments for children currently receiving such care.

GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie argued against bans on sex change treatments for minors, while a recent poll found that a majority of voters support restrictions on children receiving the life-altering procedures.
During a segment on CNN's "State if the Union" Sunday, Christie was asked his thoughts on Republican governors placing more bans on gender reassignment surgeries and puberty blockers for minors in their states.

"I don't think that the government should ever be stepping in to the place of the parents in helping to move their children through a process where those children are confused or concerned about their gender," Christie said defending minors access to sex change procedures, despite the majority of his base having a different stance on the issue. 

"What I would like to make sure each state does is require that parents are involved in these decisions," the Republican told CNN's Jake Tapper. "The fact is that folks who are under the age of 18 should have parental support, and guidance, and love as they make all the key decisions of their life, and this should not be one that excluded by the government in any way."

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, June 20, 2023.  THE GUARDIAN looks at the who's funding the war on LGBTQ+, a delegate in the US Congress calls for Donald Trump to be shot, some people seem confused over the difference between what Hillary Clinton was accused of doing and what Donald Trump's accused of doing, and much more.

I really had no interest in weighing on the indictment and charges against former US President Donald Trump.  But yesterday on USEFUL IDIOTS (watching only to see if they will note the war on LGBTQ+ people -- as I noted in "Transphobe Matt Taibbi," if you're not noting it, you don't belong on this site), it was stated that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump did basically the same thing -- her e-mail scandal, his stealing of classified documents.

No, they did not.

I would have been more than happy had Hillary been charged and tried for what she did.  Check the archives.  But what she did and what Donald did are not the same -- or what they were both accused of is not the same.

Hillary used multiple devices -- including devices that were not secure.  She argues she did what she did to make work more simple.  I'd argue if you're not up to protecting classified information, you're not up to being Secretary of State.  She was accused of mishandling classified information as a result of using multiple electronic devices.  She and/or her team did destroy evidence.  

I'm not seeing how that is the same as Donald.

Donald left the White House (reluctantly) and took classified documents with him.  As for his ability to declassify them as president, supposedly he's on tape stating that he didn't declassify them.  He took documents -- physical documents -- from the White House on his way out the door.  He was asked to return them.  He refused.  The FBI had to carry out a raid in order to get the documents back.

That is not what Hillary is accused of having done.

Hillary fans can argue she was just careless.  Donald shows clear intent to remove the documents from the White House and take possession of them and then refused to return them.    

It is not the same thing, not at all.  Either you don't understand the law or you're pretending.

As Jeffrey St. Clair (COUNTERPUNCH) points out, "If Trump had given his trove of documents to say Wikileaks (or even Tucker Carlson), he might have a credible claim as a whistleblower. Instead he kept them for his own vanity, flashed them to visitors and had his Justice Department file charges against Julian Assange for violating … the Espionage Act."

On the current case,  John Gallagher (LGBTQ NATION) notes:

Donald Trump’s behavior has already made it clear that he and his followers have no respect for the rule of law. Now they are making it clear that they have no respect for the institutions either.

In a dramatic escalation of rhetoric, Republicans are attacking the very structure of federal law enforcement, with the goal of not only discrediting it but destroying it altogether. They want the Department of Justice and the FBI to respond to the demands of the president, rather than maintain their current independence and integrity. Should the GOP succeed, it would have dire consequences for LGBTQ+ rights in the country. 

[. . .]

The proponents of this radical change dress it up as justifiable homicide. They argue that any federal agency is essentially under the president’s direct control and should act as such.

“Conservatives are waking up to the fact that federal law enforcement is weaponized against them and as a result are embracing paradigm-shifting policies to reverse that trend,” Russell Vought, who served Trump as director of the Office of Management and Budget, told The New York Times.

In short, the way to fight the alleged weaponization of the government is to really weaponize it.

Of course, not to be outdone, Trump’s rival Ron DeSantis goes one step further. He would dismantle the FBI and Department of Justice.

“We’re not going to let all this power accumulate in Washington, we’re going to break up these agencies,” DeSantis said during a private strategy session, according to a tape obtained by Real Clear Politics. He said that if he was elected, “some of the problematic components of the DOJ” would be “shipped to other parts of the country.”

This fits into a broader plan to stack the civil service with partisan hacks who will carry out the will of the president without regard to law or regulation. 

Since we're mentioning Donald, let's note an e-mail that came in last night.  US Delegate Stacey Plaskett declared Sunday on MSNBC that Donald needed "to be shot"  She then corrected it to "stopped."  An e-mailer to the public account insists that I won't call her out.  Of course, I will.  She said a stupid thing.  Not surprising because she's an idiot.  I called her out for bullying a witness.  I've called her out for being the head of a Committee since she can't vote in Congress.  I've called her out for, having failed in New York, moving  to the Virgin Islands so that she could become a delegate (stealing the job from someone who grew up there and could represent it better), I've even called out her cheap weave.  She can correct it all she wants, she said what she said and she meant it.  Things are at a high pitch already without members of Congress using such violent rhetoric.  It was wrong of her, it was stupid of her and she needs to apologize.  She also needs to be stripped of her post as Ranking Member on the House Select Subcommittee on Weaponization of the Federal Government.  

When you've called for someone to be shot, I think you've more than weaponized the federal government.  

Equally true, as a non-voting member (a delegate) she shouldn't be in a ranking member or chair of a committee or subcommittee.  

I had no problem calling out Stacey.

Staying with stupid, Hudson Crozier has an idiotic column at THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER (which may be redundant).  He's in a tizzy because a federal judge found that Middleborough Public Schools was right to send Liam Morrison home for wearing a shirt that declared "There Are Only Two Genders."  By the way, I haven't seen the shirt but I think it's very unlikely that's what was across the t-shirt.  Typically, it would be all caps: "THERE ARE ONLY TWO GENDERS."  Maybe the way Hudson rendered it is just another example of his gross stupidity.  And that's not a reflection on his university -- I love UNT.  Love the new student union they finished about seven years ago.  And any time I speak there, I make sure to go to the square downtown and pop into Recycled Books -- one of the best stores in the country.  

I doubt Hudson likes Recycled Books -- it's so well stocked it's practically a learning institution (do not fail to go through their vinyl record section).  Hudson writes:


Judge Indira Talwani agreed with the school that, actually, it was Morrison who “invaded the rights” of students through his factual, nonviolent statement. She cited the school’s unproven claim that offending a gender-dysphoric child’s sense of identity in any way puts them at risk of suicide. Even some doctors who support transitioning children agree that this narrative is “exaggerated and hysterical,” and there is no solid data to back it up, but Talwani treats it as an undisputed fact.

“School administrators were well within their discretion to conclude that the statement 'THERE ARE ONLY TWO GENDERS' may communicate that only two gender identities … are valid, and any others are invalid or nonexistent,” Talwani wrote, “and to conclude that students who identify differently, whether they do so openly or not, have a right to attend school without being confronted by messages attacking their identities.”

It would be impossible to argue that the Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution with the intent of protecting "gender nonconforming" children from any statement that might invalidate their feelings, a right given to no other group in society. But the leftist legal movement abandoned all notions of judicial integrity on politically charged legal matters long ago. Even so, Talwani's mental gymnastics are breathtaking.

See, the judge got it.  In the judge's quoted statement, the message on the t-shirt was in all caps.  When he's not quoting the judge Baby Dumb F**k Hudson keeps rendering it as "There Are Only Two Genders."  Again, that's not how a slogan on t-shirt usually reads.  The judge gets it, Hudson just gets to shove his thumb up is ass.

I don't believe anyone said the Constitution.  I do believe that Native Americans owned this country and it was stolen from them.  I do know that Native Americans did not believe in only two genders.  

One thing these new laws do not take into account is that the 12 federally recognized tribes in Montana have historically recognized multiple gender identities, including transgender identities. Most Indigenous peoples recognize multiple gender identities that are believed to be the result of supernatural intervention.

In this regard, Montana state Rep. Donavon Hawk, a Democrat from Butte who is Crow and Lakota, said, “It surprises me that this country is only a couple hundred years old, and we are not able to function with LGBTQ people in our communities.” Indigenous communities have incorporated LGBTQ+ peoples within their societies for centuries.

As an Indigenous scholar who studies the history and religion of Indigenous peoples, I am troubled by how these new anti-transgender laws might affect religious expression and the rights of Indigenous communities, not just in Montana but across the nation.

Indigenous ideas about gender

Indigenous peoples have been in North America for at least 30,000 years. As their societies developed over time, hundreds of different ethnicities, languages, religious practices, gender expressions and identities emerged.

Transgender individuals, an umbrella term for individuals whose gender identity is not linked to the sex they were assigned at birth, have existed throughout history, including within Indigenous communities.

I learned from my maternal grandparents about Blackfeet religion and history. The Blackfeet acknowledged and accepted individual gender expression and identity because it was granted by the divine. Personal gender identity was rarely questioned, because it was tantamount to questioning the divine.

I first learned about Blackfeet ideas about transgender individuals as a young person from hearing oral history stories about famous Blackfeet religious leaders, warriors and adventurers who were transgender. They were viewed as having a direct connection to the divine. People often sought out these individuals for blessings, prayer or spiritual guidance.

Indeed, anthropologists and historians have studied Blackfeet gender expression and learned that the Blackfeet recognized multiple gender identities, including what is defined today in Western societies as transgender.

Where's their freedom of religion?  Before it was stolen, this was all the country.  

I do get Hudson's anxiety.  If I were as ugly as he is, I'd be threatened by Elliot Page as well -- Elliot's a very cute looking man.  

I'd also point out that the right-wing hate merchants like Tulsi Gabbard keep saying "don't sexualize our kids!"  Seems like a t-shirt proclaiming any number of genders would be 'sexualizing' them.  You know, like when you preach opposite sex coupling in school, you're 'sexualizing' them.

The right-wing hate merchants are happy to scream 'sexualizing' when they disagree but are more than happy to sexualize and socialize if it meets their own desires.  They're hypocrites and they're idiots.  

UNT, Hudson does not speak well for you.  And I'm surprised by how many attacks he's published on the college since March.  

He's clearly a bitter little boy -- scared to trot by to Texas with that tiny little thing tucked between his legs. .  And if you were scrawny and ugly like him, I guess you would be too.  He didn't emerge triumphant from the genetic pool.

The war on the LGBTQ+ community if very real.  Those who are remaining silent?  They've chosen a side.  They're with the hate merchants.  By not speaking out, they've chosen a side.  At THE NATION, Karen Krajcer explains how this war impacts her life:

First, you find a folder.
It doesn’t have to be anything special—just something large enough to hold documentation of your love and care for your child. One of those cheery, primary-colored folders will do, like the one the kindergarten teacher slid into your daughter’s first backpack—the crisp, clean fabric doming over her shoulders like a turtle shell.

Into this folder, place the following:

A letter from your child’s pediatrician, confirming your child’s gender identity. Provide evidence of annual wellness checks and thorough vaccination records.

A letter from your child’s pediatric neurologist, detailing the negative impact of gender dysphoria on your child’s mental health. Ask them to please explain in layman’s terms how dysphoria—a feeling of unease or hatred of one’s body—is not necessarily inherent to being transgender but does result from having people (e.g., family, classmates, teachers, strangers, etc.) refuse to accept your gender identity. Ask them to explain that the disparity between the way society demands we behave and the way we see ourselves causes intense stress that often leads to depression, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts.

A seemingly harmless comment on the first day of kindergarten—_________ is wearing a dress!—can plague a child’s sense of self. ________ is wearing a dress! is the line she repeated to you when you tucked the covers around her tiny shoulders and she asked if she had to go to school tomorrow—only then the pronoun was he because you hadn’t yet understood what your child meant when she told you she is a girl. You’d set down your phone and, with the most self-satisfied look a parent can give, told your child that she didn’t have to be a girl to like girl things, that there was no such thing as girl or boy things.

[. . .]

You might do this because, one day, the CPS agent could knock on your door, and you would want the essential documents to be visible right away.

Have a plan for what you would do if the CPS agent does come. Accept that your life has now come to require these sorts of contingencies. Know exactly how you want to handle it if you hear the knock. We’re going to answer questions calmly. We’re going to help our children pack their essential items. We’re going to calm the neighbors. We’re going to keep our lawyer’s number in our favorites so that we can call right away.

Then we are going to stop. We’re going to look our babies in the eyes. We are not going to cry. We’re going to tell them that this is wrong and that we’ll see them soon. Then we will turn to the agent. We will tell them that they might not understand this now, but they could. That if they stop and really think about what’s happening, they’ll know this is wrong.

Do you understand now?

CPS did not open an investigation against our family, but the threat is real enough that my children and I are in Oregon now.

My daughter asking, Am I going to die? is when it felt most real. School employees calling CPS in tears, I don’t want to report this family, but I can’t lose this job. That is real. That is happening in our lifetime.

It doesn’t matter that we weren’t reported. Tragedy shouldn’t have to come knocking for you for it to matter to you. 

The hate merchants want to destroy democracy and freedom and all that is good in this country.  Adam Gabbat (GUARDIAN) reports:

With the US besieged by a rightwing culture war campaign that aims to strip away rights from LGBTQ+ people and others, blame tends to be focused on Republican politicians and conservative media figures.

But lurking behind efforts to roll back abortion rights, to demonize trans people, and to peel back the protections afforded to gay and queer Americans is a shadowy, well-funded rightwing legal organization, experts say.

Since it was formed in 1994, Alliance Defending Freedom has been at the center of a nationwide effort to limit the rights of women and LGBTQ+ people, all in the name of Christianity. The Southern Poverty Law Center has termed it an “anti-LGBTQ hate group” that has extended its tentacles into nearly every area of the culture wars.

In the process, it has won the ear of some of the most influential people in the US, and become “a danger to every American who values their freedoms”, according to Glaad, the LGBTQ+ advocacy organization.

Through “model legislation” and lawsuits filed across the country, ADF aims to overturn same-sex marriage, enact a total ban on abortion, and strip away the already minimal rights that trans people are afforded in the US.

Under the Trump administration, the group found its way into the highest echelons of power, advising Jeff Sessions, the then attorney general, before he announced sweeping guidance to protect “religious liberty” which chipped away at LGBTQ+ protections.

The organization counts among its sometime associates Amy Coney Barrett, the supreme court justice who the Washington Post reported spoke five times at an ADF training program established to push a “distinctly Christian worldview in every area of law”.

ADF is engaged in “a very strong campaign to put a certain type of religious view at the center of American life”, said Rabia Muqaddam, senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights.

“[The ADF campaign] extends to abortion, it extends to LGBTQ folks, to immigration, to what kind of religion we think is America, what kind of people we think are American,” Muqaddam said.

A 2,800-year-old stone tablet has gone on display in Iraq after being returned by Italy following nearly four decades.

The artefact is inscribed with complete cuneiform text - a system of writing on clay in an ancient Babylonian alphabet.

Italian authorities handed it over to Iraq's President Abdul Latif Rashid in the city of Bologna last week.

It is not clear how the tablet was found - or how it made its way to Italy where it was seized by police in the 1980s.

Iraqi Culture Minister Ahmed Badrani said that it might have been found during archaeological excavations of the Mosul dam, which was built around that time.

ALMAYADEEN notes, "The Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian, and Assyrian civilizations, to which humanity owes writing and the first cities, originated in the land of modern-day Iraq."


Suffer not Your neighbor's afflictionSuffer not Your neighbor's paralysisBut extend your hand Extend your handLest you vanish in the city And be but a traceJust a vanished ghost And your legacyAll the things you knew Science, mathematics, thoughtSeverely weakened Like irrigation systemsIn the tired veins forming From the Tigris and EuphratesIn the realm of peace All the world revolvedAll the world revolved Around a perfect circleCity of Baghdad City of scholarsEmpirical humble Center of the worldCity in ashes City of BaghdadCity of Baghdad Abrasive aloof
Oh, in Mesopotamia Aloofness ran deepDeep in the veins of the great riversThat form the base Of EdenAnd the tree The tree of knowledgeHeld up its arms To the skyAll the branches of knowledge All the branches of knowledgeCradling CradlingCivilization In the realm of peaceAll the world revolved Around a perfect circleOh Baghdad Center of the worldCity of ashes With its great mosquesErupting from the mouth of god Rising from the ashes likea speckled bird Splayed against the mosaic skyOh, clouds around We created the zeroBut we mean nothing to you You would believeThat we are just some mystical tale We are just a swollen bellyThat gave birth to Sinbad, Scheherazade We gave birthOh, oh, to the zero The perfect numberWe invented the zero And we mean nothing to youOur children run through the streetsAnd you sent your flames Your shooting starsShock and awe Shock and aweLike some, some Imagined warrior productionTwenty-first century No chivalry involvedNo Bushido
-- "Radio Baghdad" written by Patti Smith and Oliver Ray, first appears on Patti's TRAMPIN' 

Patti's touring overseas right now.  She returns for performances in the US in August (and September before going to Germany in October).

Of the nearly 3,000 year old stone tablet, AFP notes, "The tablet -- whose text is written in cuneiform, the Babylonian alphabet -- bears the insignia of Shalmaneser III, the Assyrian king who ruled the region of Nimrod, in present-day northern Iraq, from 858 to 823 BC."  


In May, New York prosecutor Alvin Bragg announced the return of two ancient sculptures to Iraq: a limestone Mesopotamian elephant and an alabaster Sumerian bull from the old city of Uruk.
The figurines, stolen during the Gulf War, were smuggled into New York in the late 1990s, according to the prosecutor’s office.
The bull was part of the private collection of Shelby White, a billionaire philanthropist and Met trustee.

Earlier this year, CBS SUNDAY MORNING did a report on looting and theft.

New content at THIRD:

The following sites updated: