Transgender rights bill passes in Canada!

Back on March 20th, despite the Tories’ attempts at kicking the can down the road, NDP, Liberals and a whopping 15 Conservatives passed the controversial transgender rights bill in the House of Commons, making assault on a transgender person a hate crime, and protecting trans* folk against discrimination.

I hate having to say “the controversial” in this case, but as usual, it’s controversial because Conservatives don’t want to pass anything making it any less acceptable to attack anyone who isn’t a straight white cis-gendered males in this world. Making it illegal to discriminate against a trans* person, in the same way as it’s illegal to discriminate against any other non-ciswhitestraightmales, well, would simply be a bridge too far to most of them. So they’ve been fighting it with the rhetoric that it would allow sexual predators to assault women in bathrooms by pretending to be transgender. They’ve honestly smeared it throughout the media and throughout the political discourse as “The Bathroom Bill”.

Yeah, it makes about as little sense as it sounds.
[Read more...]

Anonymous hacks USSC.gov over Aaron Swartz’s death

Don’t get me wrong — I don’t advocate black-hat actions pretty much ever, even simple defacement. But the government’s pursuit of Aaron Swartz is one of those undeniably disproportionate responses to an internet activist for the crime of downloading too many PDFs at the same time. WITH AUTHORIZATION, no less.

What happened here, Anonymous hacking the USSC website to express their outrage at that travesty of justice — I’m fairly sympathetic to that cause. While it had already raised a public outcry, it certainly didn’t get enough of an outcry for the severity of the injustice perpetrated.

The Anonymous video, with text-to-speech of the USSC hack:

The most fascinating part of this is the “warhead” they included in the hack — links to an AES256 encrypted set of files with the names of the Chief Justices of the US as the filename. The files are intended to be spliced together — and Anonymous gave the command to do it, but also included “delete everything on your hard drive” at the end of the command in case you’re one of those types to blindly copy/paste commands into your command line.

The “warhead” will be “set off” by Anonymous releasing the decryption key for the encrypted file. Speculation abounds at what is in them, but Anonymous’ hack says:

The contents are various and we won’t ruin the speculation by revealing them. Suffice it to say, everyone has secrets, and some things are not meant to be public. At a regular interval commencing today, we will choose one media outlet and supply them with heavily redacted partial contents of the file. Any media outlets wishing to be eligible for this program must include within their reporting a means of secure communications.

Of course they won’t want to ruin speculation. That’s how things like this go viral.

[Read more...]

Sadie’s Dream for the World

An eleven-year-old transgender girl named Sadie has written an essay in response to Obama’s recent speech on his inauguration day to remind the President that there are some social justice causes that are being left by the wayside, even as he’s the first president to openly acknowledge the gay rights fight with a specific nod to the Stonewall uprising.

The world would be a better place if everyone had the right to be themselves, including people who have a creative gender identity and expression. Transgender people are not allowed the freedom to do things everyone else does, like go to the doctor, go to school, get a job, and even make friends.

[Read more...]

“Who wrote THAT? Are you kidding me?”

When even FOX News personalities scoff at the headlines they’re forced to read, you know there’s a problem with the network. At least pretty well everyone present guffawed heartily at the assertion that the Constitutional Law Professor-In-Chief doesn’t believe in the Constitution. I’m guessing because there’s an amendment to the constitution that forbids sensible regulations applied to your civilian militia? As though the 2nd Amendment was so hard to interpret!

Yeah.

And that’s not to mention the mockery of Te’o at the beginning of the clip.

Via Media Matters.

Alex Jones rants about a NWO trying to take away his guns

Alex Jones’ unhinged rant on Piers Morgan’s show, where the interviewer got maybe one question answered out of the three he managed to ask, tells me why I got a comment the other day demanding the rounding up and burning of antidepressants. There is now apparently a parallel narrative forming where antidepressants are responsible for mental instability, and that, combined with video games, induces people to obtain high-volume weaponry and commit mass-murder. And any attempt at taking away guns, instead of video games and antidepressants, is an attempt at creating a totalitarian single world government.

“You’re a hatchet man of the New World Order.” Someone please tell me how many guns Alex Jones owns. Actually, no, don’t. I’d be terribly frightened to know.
[Read more...]

Transgender rights bill status: have Tories run down the clock?

Among all the silence from Harper in response to the #IdleNoMore campaign, there’s also an important bill that’s been all but ignored in the media, and intentionally forestalled by Tories. Stall tactics work, I guess. Ignore the problem til the fury dies down and get the media to look the other way, and all your political hegemonic dreams will come true, I guess.

Bill C-279’s clock may have run out, and I’m having problems finding any further information about it outside of the last time it made it to the floor to be discussed. Apparently some changes were passed to the bill in committee, but through some procedural hiccup that appears to have been intentional, never made it back to the House.

National Post reports:

Last Thursday, Conservative MPs opposed to the bill brought up several objections and procedural questions that ate up most of the time allotted for clause-by-clause consideration and votes.

[Read more...]

Hawking and other scientists petition for Turing’s posthumous pardon

Stephen Hawking and a number of other notable scientists and humanitarians in the UK are petitioning David Cameron to pardon Alan Turing, one of computing’s forefathers, for the crime of being gay.

Now, several of the nation’s top scientists, including Stephen Hawking, and other leaders have penned a letter to the Telegraph, throwing their support behind the bill.

They write:

SIR – We write in support of a posthumous pardon for Alan Turing, one of the most brilliant mathematicians of the modern era. He lead the team of Enigma codebreakers at Bletchley Park, which most historians agree shortened the Second World War. Yet successive governments seem incapable of forgiving his conviction for the then crime of being a homosexual, which led to his suicide, aged 41.

We urge the Prime Minister formally to forgive this British hero, to whom we owe so much as a nation, and whose pioneering contribution to computer sciences remains relevant even today. To those who seek to block attempts to secure a pardon with the argument that this would set a precedent, we would answer that Turing’s achievements are sui generis. It is time his reputation was unblemished.

Lord Currie of Marylebone
Lord Grade of Yarmouth
Lord Faulkner or Worcester
Lord Rees of Ludlow

Astronomer Royal
Lord Sharkey
Lord Smith of Finsbury
Baroness Trumpington

Sir Timothy Gowers
Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics, Cambridge University
Dr Douglas Gurr
Chairman, Science Museum Group
Professor Stephen Hawking
Sir Paul Nurse
President, the Royal Society

I absolutely agree that Turing should be pardoned — with one reservation.
[Read more...]

New Zealand YWCA ad for equal pay

Shoe’s on the other foot now, huh? When you consider it perfectly acceptable to pay women less than men for identical jobs, why shouldn’t we also charge men more for identical services? Yes, it’s insane to charge someone more because they have a penis. Of course it is. So is giving women less money for the same job just because they don’t.

This ad from the Auckland YWCA for the New Zealand equal pay act is bloody brilliant. I can’t think of a proper rebuttal. I can’t think it’d be anything but political suicide to fight against such progress. I also have no idea about the gender politics or the political playing field in New Zealand, so the ad and the bill could fall completely flat. But this is framing we should damn well import the next time the evidence shows women make less than men even here, even now, even with measures attempting to correct that imbalance.

Via Copyranter.

(Also, inb4 “stop promoting a Christian organization“.)

A culture of scapegoating and responsibility-dodging

Surprising absolutely nobody, in the wake of Sandy Hook’s shooting, the American congress is swinging into rapid and decisive action… against video games. Cenk Uygur on The Young Turks sums it up nicely:

What’s more is, the narrative against video games appears to have been set well before there was any proof that the shooter, Adam Lanza, was a gamer. It was set, in fact, when reporters misreported the shooter as a Ryan Lanza, the name of Adam’s brother. People found a Ryan Lanza’s Facebook profile, though it might still have been an entirely unrelated Ryan; they noticed that he had Liked the page for Mass Effect, and Mass Effect became the first scapegoat for the shootings.
[Read more...]

On Systemic Violence, Misconceptions, and How We Fail Ourselves

Considered Exclamations has a guest post by Brendan Murphy, treasurer of the SSA’s board of directors, which analyzes the political reactions to previous mass shootings and the fallout thereafter. It’s what I was asking for yesterday: for people to look at these shootings as a trend, and deal with them appropriately.

The above sign is a decoration of Fenway Park, well-known to many Bostonians, and sponsored by the Massachusetts-based organization Stop Handgun Violence. After this morning’s violence in Connecticut, those big numbers will tick upwards by 18. And yet, White House press secretary Jay Carney had the following to say this morning:

“Today’s not … a day to engage in the usual Washington policy debates. That day will come, but today’s not that day.”

I agree – today is not the time to have ineffectual discussions peppered with political platitudes and unfulfilled promises of resurrecting bygone legislation. Now is the time to substantively discuss exactly what systemic forces lead us down this road time and time again. If all we do is grieve and mourn without addressing the why, we have failed the victims, and ourselves. Let’s look at some 2012 history, and what’s been said politically.

Keep reading.