Random Monday






All photos © C. Ford. I haven’t photographed Bull Riders in some time, but it’s always interesting, and a tad dangerous. Great way to get your camera absolutely filthy, too. I’ve come very close to being seriously injured when someone comes flying over the corral fence, and been charged more than once, too, as in the last photo. He was coming straight for me, and I held my ground long enough to get a shot, then scooched back *very fast*, in time to watch and hear the head clang on the corral fence. The only caption on that type of shot is “Oh Fuck!” There’s more here.

First Nations community grappling with suicide crisis: ‘We’re crying out for help’

People take part in a candlelight vigil Attawapiskat. Photograph: Chris Wattie/Reuters

People take part in a candlelight vigil Attawapiskat. Photograph: Chris Wattie/Reuters

After 11 people tried to take their own lives on Saturday evening, exhausted leaders declared a state of emergency. On Monday, as officials scrambled to send crisis counsellors to the community, 20 people – including a nine-year-old – were taken to hospital after they were overheard making a suicide pact.

“We’re crying out for help,” said Attawapiskat chief Bruce Shisheesh. “Just about every night there is a suicide attempt.”


There is no single reason for the toll. In Attawapiskat, Shisheesh pointed to overcrowded houses riddled with mould, drug abuse and the lack of a recreation centre that could give youth something to do. But mostly, he said, these children have fallen victim to the deeply rooted systemic issues facing Canada’s First Nations.

Chief among those is the lingering impact of the country’s residential school system, where for decades, more than 150,000 Aboriginal children were carted off in an attempt to forcibly assimilate them into Canadian society.

“You can’t attempt cultural genocide for 140 years, for seven generations – the last of these schools closing their doors in 1996 – and not expect some very real fallout from that,” author Joseph Boyden wrote this week in Maclean’s. “Attawapiskat is a brutal example.”

Rife with abuse, the schools aimed to “kill the Indian in the child”, as documented by a recent truth commission. Thousands of children died at these schools – the absence of dietary standards in the schools left many undernourished and vulnerable to diseases such as smallpox, measles and tuberculosis – with hundreds of them hastily buried in unmarked graves next to the institutions. In nearly a third of the deaths, the government and schools did not even record the names of the students who had died.

The legacy of these schools sits silently under the surface of much of First Nations life in Canada, often combining with deplorable living conditions to produce deadly results. Last month, after six suicides in some three months and more than 140 attempts in a two-week span, another remote community – the Pimicikamak Cree Nation in northern Manitoba – also declared a state of emergency.

[Read more…]

Atheists Fight to Offer College Scholarships



LOS ANGELES (CN) — A school district in California’s high desert refused to include scholarship offers from atheist groups in the lists they distribute to students, the groups claim in court.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Antelope Valley Freethinkers sued Antelope Valley Union School Board and its High School District on constitutional grounds Tuesday in Federal Court. […]

The Freedom From Religion Foundation annually offers $17,950 in college scholarships, and the Antelope Valley Freethinkers offered $1,750 in scholarships to three winners.
Both groups asked applicants to submit an essay on the challenges of being a “nonbeliever” or “freethinker.”
Both say the school district and Palmdale High School refused to make their scholarship announcements available to students, though the district did announce other scholarship offers that “solicited religious speech, required applicants to be religious, and dealt with the historically controversial topics of homosexuality and guns.” […]

Freethinkers president David Dionne, a plaintiff, says in the lawsuit that Deputy Superintendent Jeff Foster told him that “he couldn’t approve the scholarship the way it was worded because it would upset some parents. In particular, he cited the following sentence as particularly objectionable: ‘Perhaps you’ve been ridiculed, harassed, or punished for speaking up against religion in the classroom, at school events, in government, or within your family.'”
When Dionne offered to rewrite his announcement, he says, Foster told him: “”We simply do not have the time to ‘word smith’ language that might be acceptable to the district and yet meet the intent of your organization.”

Full Story Here.

Across the Pond: Prove Your Gender!

Ny Richardson.

Ny Richardson.

It looks like the insanity currently infecting uStates is spreading, all the way across the pond. Naturally, there’s a whole lot of denial going on, nothing new there, and there’s been quite the effort to blame the victim. Full Story Here.

Ny Richardson, a 16-year-old from Yorkshire, England, claims she was kicked out of her local McDonald’s after using the bathroom because the staff thought her gender didn’t match the facilities she used.

“I ordered my food and left it with my girlfriend as I went to the toilet,” Ny told Yahoo News. “When I was in there, someone told me to get out and when I sat back down, the manager came over and told me that I needed to leave because I have been in the girls’ toilet.”

Richardson protested and the manager asked the teenager to show her ID to prove her gender [Ed. note: C’mon, guys]. When she failed to produce any ID, the manager told her to leave and called the police.

Richardson says she was humiliated by the experience and calls the manager’s attitude towards her “disgusting.”

“I’m still angry about it now,” she added.

Los Angeles Bans Official Travel to North Carolina, Mississippi.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti

“With one stroke of their pen, Gov. Pat McCrory and Gov. Phil Bryant have jeopardized the safety and dignity of countless transgender, gay and lesbian people — who are already at an increased risk for violent crime,” Garcetti continued, referring to the governors of North Carolina and Mississippi, respectively. “As someone who has fought for many years on behalf of LGBT Americans and their right to equal protection under the law, I will continue to do everything in my power to keep L.A.’s tax dollars from supporting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

“State-sanctioned discrimination only perpetuates intolerance, hatred and violence,” said Councilmember Mike Bonin, who authored the resolution, in the same press release. “That is not at all what Los Angeles stands for, and today, we are sending a clear message that we will not endorse — with our dollars or our participation — discrimination toward our transgender, gay, lesbian, and bisexual sisters and brothers.”

Bloody well took them long enough. At least they have finally joined the sane faction in this toilet fight. Full Story Here.

“No Soy Tu Chiste ( I Am Not Your Joke).”


© Daniel Arzola.

Out: What prompted you to create the “No Soy Tu Chiste” campaign?

Daniel Arzola: Since I was a teenager I had been creating art with a purpose, with a social voice, a cry in a universal language. I started with poems, then photography, and finally illustration. For me art has always been a social expression. I called it “Artivism.” But, my story is not very different than the stories of so many gay and trans Venezuelan people. I had a difficult adolescence where I was constantly chased and bothered. When I was about 15 years old, neighbors tied me to an electrical post, took off my shoes and tried to burn me alive. They destroyed all my drawings.

I escaped. But, so many people don’t have the chance to escape from something like that. There was one guy who couldn’t run away—he was gay—his name was Angelo Prado. I saw it on the news. What struck me was that, even in this century, when you turn on the TV in Venezuela, if they talk about LGBT people, there is mockery. They are laughing about the pain of others. Making us a joke.

Full Article Here.

Sunday Facepalm: Our God is Bigger!

A Troup ISD student wears religious shirt (Facebook)

A Troup ISD student wears religious shirt (Facebook)

Troup ISD parents are upset after a letter was sent to the school district asking that a bible verse be taken down from its website.

The letter was sent out by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Brittany Taylor has two kids at Troup ISD.  She, along with other upset parents, are fighting a battle she says the schools can’t.


Parents at Troup are in the process of ordering shirts for their students that say, “Our God is bigger.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) said that’s not the point.


The bible verse that was on the website read  “As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him.” It comes from the Old Testament.

The FFRF said the verse promotes Christianity.

“I’m hoping that we get to put it back up because everybody should have freedom of religion,” said Jesse Calley, 7th grader.

Even if the quote never goes back on the website, parents said they’re planning to send pictures of the students wearing the shirts to the foundation in hopes of getting a message across.

“It will be in our children’s hearts and they will not stop praising God because a group told them to,” said Taylor.

Full Story Here.

Our God Is Bigger. That sentiment has a whole lot to answer for, mostly in the form of one war after another, with corpses strewn across the landscape. It’s simplistic, and terrifying. How about “Our God Doesn’t Require A Quote.”?

Gov. Phil Bryant Strikes Again

The stupid. The bigotry. The Pretend Persecution. It never ends. I think this story can be safely tucked into The Persecution Files.

A gun and a Bible (Shutterstock)

A gun and a Bible (Shutterstock)

Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed a gun rights bill on Friday allowing churches to create security programs designating members to carry firearms to defend worshipers against violence.

The legislation, called the “Mississippi Church Protection Act,” also makes it easier for residents in other settings to carry concealed weapons, drawing criticism from national gun control advocates.

Full Story Here.

Women of the Navajo Calendar Reject Trans Woman

Transphobia strikes everywhere. In long ago tradition, most Indigenous nations recognized that gender was much more than binary, however, it seems that much has been lost in the colonial zeal to rip people from their roots.

Sharnell Paul.

Sharnell Paul.

Lake Powell Life covered this story, and Terese Mailhot at ICTMN has a column about this story.


Had Women of the Navajo calendar founders included Paul, they would have been working against historical erasure, reclaiming the stories within their own inclusive cultural roots. Their discriminatory acts speak of lateral violence within our own communities. Oppression works laterally and vertically. Their acts against Paul are acts against cultural reclamation and Indigenous sovereignty. It’s time to give our people voice. Our bodies and our stories have the right to acceptance and recognition. Women of the Navajo had the opportunity to empower culture, identity, and acts of reclamation. Granted, it would have been late to the game, but it’s better to be late than never arrive at a political occasion that is inevitable. All Indigenous bodies are sovereign, deserving of protection, respect, and recognition. What are they scared of? Whatever phobia they invite, it is no doubt the product of boarding schools, assimilation, and other genocidal acts put upon us.


The stories where I’m from are gone. There is no pre-contact narrative of people who identified as anything beyond the gender binary. There are only a few stories of sexuality and gender, let alone any that speak of gender roles. Our ceremonies and stories were forbidden. Only within the past few generations have people been able to stand and bear witness. There is something from the past that still resonates: that our stories can be erased, and our bodies forbidden. If we do not claim our people, and their identities, and their stories, and their struggles, they will be erased from the continuum, just like everything that has been stripped from us. Their beautiful faces and struggles will not thrive if we don’t lift them up now, to praise their clarity and power.