New Zealand: it would be “unduly harsh” to send British trans woman back

Apparently the United Kingdom is so verifiably transphobic that a British trans woman successfully appealed to New Zealand immigration to grant her residency on humanitarian grounds. In essence, she made a refugee claim against the United Kingdom. 

Content notice: The Guardian, progressive-rag extraordinaire, using outdated and trans-antagonistic terms.

A transgender woman who suffered years of discrimination and abuse in the UK has been granted residency in New Zealand on exceptional humanitarian grounds.

The 57-year-old woman was granted New Zealand residency by the immigration and protection tribunal in Auckland, who decided the woman was safer to remain in her adopted country where she had experienced no abuse or discrimination since arriving in 2009.

The tribunal deemed it would be “unduly harsh” for the woman to be forced to return to the UK, where she suffered years of “persecution” due to her gender identity disorder.

The woman, who works as an IT specialist and has a degree in engineering, was described as a vulnerable but “highly intelligent and skilled” individual by a psychologist who assessed her. The woman declined to be interviewed by the Guardian.

In 2005, whilst living in the UK, the woman transitioned from a male to a female, after decades of escalating confusion and mental health problems arising from her undiagnosed gender identity disorder.

(The current version of the DSM emphasized that gender dysphoria is a pathology, but not the identity of transgender itself.)

The rest of the article unnecessarily focuses on the trans woman’s confidential medical choices and is a splendid example of well-meaning coverage utterly butchering journalistic ethics. However, I thought I’d share the surprising bit of news. Surprising not because I think the UK is overly tolerant to trans folk, but surprising because exploiter countries are seldom held to account for social failings the way exploited countries are.

-Shiv

Catholic bishop writes policy for public school

Patricia Grell, well known on this blag for being basically the only Catholic with a conscience in the whole of Edmonton, dropped a piping hot revelation before Edmonton’s municipal elections take off: Catholic bishops have been pressuring elected school boards to adhere to church policy, rather than public law.

Not only is it an occupational hazard for Boards to be overrun by their administrators but with Catholic boards, the problem is compounded by the role of the church hierarchy.   Canon Law 803 states that “A catholic school is understood to be one which is under the control of the competent ecclesiastical authority…No school, even if it is in fact catholic, may bear the title ‘catholic school’ except by the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority”. Instead of working collaboratively with the ECSD Board, Archbishop Richard Smith chose to use this Canon to put undue pressure on it.

In December 2014 Archbishop Richard Smith used Canon Law to threaten to remove the catholic designation of the ECSD Board when Trustee Bergstra was intending to bring forward a motion to encourage the establishment of GSAs in our Catholic schools.  All the administrators and trustees who were present at this meeting at the Pastoral Centre – about 10 of us — would have to lie under oath to deny that this happened. I am embarrassed to admit that in those early days of my term, I was influenced by the archbishop’s threat and asked Trustee Bergstra not to bring forward her motion.  She didn’t and in the end didn’t have to because the provincial government soon passed Bill 10.

Not only did the archbishop threaten the Board but he meddled in our Board’s policy making.[2]   When Trustee Acheson and I were working on developing an LGBTQ policy, Archbishop Smith wrote a letter to Trustee Acheson to wait for and follow what the Catholic Superintendents were developing (cf. Letter from Smith 20.08.15.)  Neither Catholic Superintendents nor the archbishop is elected and their job is not to write policy for school districts.  This is the role of duly elected trustees.  Yet here is an example of administrators and the hierarchy working together to try to undermine the role of elected Boards.

Burn it all to the ground. Plough the whole damn thing with salt. Why we still funnel funds to a brazenly corrupt and criminal organization is beyond me.

-Shiv

Silver-lining-in-genocide Senator wants to assimilate you

If there was ever an argument for abolishing Canada’s appointed Senate, Lynn Beyak is it. After defending the first genocide of the continent’s first nations by European colonials, then the second genocide through the residential school program by bonafide Canadians, Beyak spent her summer months supposedly meeting with Indigenous communities. Her takeaway? Give up your culture and assimilate–also, apply for citizenship that you already have.

“Trade your status card for a Canadian citizenship, with a fair and negotiated payout to each Indigenous man, woman and child in Canada, to settle all the outstanding land claims and treaties, and move forward together just like the leaders already do in Ottawa,” she said in an open letter published Sept. 1 on her Senate website.

(Indigenous people born in this country are Canadian citizens, and were given full voting rights in 1960.)

“Like the leaders already do in Ottawa” is an interesting euphemism, considering the outstanding criticism is that we flout our treaties. Perhaps Beyak is unaware, but a federal government dishonouring its agreements is generally perceived as a high-risk partner in diplomacy, and it severely damages your government’s ability to bargain. There’s a reason North Korea has exactly zero friends, with their supposed ally mostly using NK as a proxy to undermine the United States. The fact that Trudeau is undermining “fewer” of these treaties isn’t… exactly… progress.

Also, she’s apparently unaware that status first nations are still citizens? Why is this twit being paid with my tax money?

“None of us are leaving, so let’s stop the guilt and blame and find a way to live together and share,” she wrote. “All Canadians are then free to preserve their cultures in their own communities, on their own time, with their own dime.”

Great! So we’re de-funding the Catholic systems then! (Somehow I doubt that’s what she actually means)

How about, instead of paying this leaking ass-pimple her salary, we use the money to fire her into the fucking sun.

-Shiv

 

Threatening protesters with 75 years is totally reasonable, rules #j20 judge

I find myself gobsmacked in reading these statements. The entire argument by the hundreds of defence lawyers for the J20 defendants mass arrested on Trump’s inauguration is that taking protesters to trial for 55+ years worth of charges is an act of intimidation in and of itself, in violation of the First Amendment. The j20 judge just kind of… completely ignores the implications of Kerkhoff’s [the prosecutor] actions and ploughs straight ahead.

“The government comes in and says my client is liable for a felony—all they’ve established is that he’s arrested, not even what he did during the march,” defense attorney Veronice Holt argued in July. “You can’t just say, ‘As many people as the government can catch need to stand trial.'”

But Judge Lynn Leibovitz writes in her decision that the charging document has all of the necessary specificity to go to trial. The government says that all of the defendants operated as part of the “black bloc,” using those tactics to commit violence and evade identification. Because the government is using aiding and abetting and conspiracy liability, “each defendant charged in the indictment may be liable for the acts of others alleged in the indictment,” writes the judge

Yes, Leibovitz. That’s the fucking problem. If these charges result in conviction, it’s a blank cheque to police to scoop up as many people as they want, as long as some twit breaks a window.

She also rejected the argument that the charges amounted to a First Amendment violation. Defense lawyers said that people might protest less if they feared they would be held legally responsible for the actions of others.

But Leibovitz writes that those arguments are, in essence, also about whether the government has evidence against the individual defendants that would justify their charges, a question she writes is better addressed at trial, the first of which is slated to start in November. She concludes that the indictment’s details survive both First and Fourth Amendment challenges.

In essence? Threatening you with several decades is entirely reasonable and not at all intimidation.

Solidarity is now evidence for conspiracy.

I’m sure the freeze peachers will be here any minute now.

-Shiv

Anti-fascism declared terrorist activity

Recently revealed by Politico, “antifa”–a reminder that this is simply “anti-fascist” truncated–was declared a “domestic terrorist group” in April of 2016. Analysts credit Trump’s violent rhetoric for inflaming “antifa” activities.

Media outlets, as ever, refuse to acknowledge that white supremacist organization is on the spectrum of violence, and the Department of Homeland Security apparently deems “antifas” (I keep scare-quoting because anyone against fascism is ostensibly “antifa”) the “primary instigators.”

Just to make things clear: So-called antifa organizations are not in a hierarchy, have no formal structure, and largely improvise their planning. They assemble and disband constantly. The groups are so loosely defined that the definition of an anti-fascist can be expanded at will for anyone that’s inconvenient. In fact if any protest gets rowdy the FBI could use evidence of organization as evidence of “anti-fascist membership.” This is hardly implausible–Canada tried the same with the G20 arrests in 2015, and the American federal government is doing it with J20 right now.

Enjoy your FBI dossier.

Conference organizers: Just assume I’ll be denied at the border.

I’m sure all those frozen peachers are right around the corner. Any second now.

-Shiv

 

 

Why yes, I do indeed see pee

Alberta’s political landscape has been shifting rapidly in the past few months, and I just haven’t had time to write about it. Now that the dust is starting to settle, we can get back to business as usual in the Texas of Canada. Starting with: The you-see-pee.

By now it can’t have escaped the attention of anyone who follows Alberta politics that members of the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties have voted to merge their parties into a single political entity by percentages worthy of a North Korean election.

The Yes vote percentage for both parties was, coincidentally, 95 per cent – that is to say, for those of you who like to know these things to the precise percentage point, 94.9 per cent for the PCs now led by Jason Kenney and 95.4 per cent for the Wildrosers now led by Brian Jean.

While the favourable result was not unexpected, it seems likely a merger endorsement with numbers that stratospheric should be enough to settle down any remaining conspiratorially minded skeptics in Wildrose ranks about the outcome of the vote in spite of Friday’s party PIN problems.

The numbers of PCs and Wildrosers who voted to create the “United Conservative Party” – the Alberta right’s answer to the Vulcan mind meld – were curiously similar too.

A total of 24,598 Wildrosers voted, and 23,466 said yes to the merger, while 27,060 PCs voted and 25,692 said yes. The Wildrosers said that was about 60 per cent of the voters eligible, the CBC reported from the party’s special meeting yesterday in Red Deer. The Conservatives don’t seem to have said, but with a claimed membership of around 50,000, the turnout would be about 55 per cent. Given the importance of the vote, the turnout is probably a worthy topic of some future interpretation.

In the mean time, it almost seemed as if the same people were voting in both parties – which, come to think of it, may have been the case!

Given that the raging, foaming misogynist redneck vote was split between the Dickweeds and Regressive Preservatives, it is in fact a possibility that enough ridings will swing back into nihilist neocon hands in the next election to unseat our refreshingly reality-based government. It’s way too far off to make a reasonable prediction with any degree of accuracy–but most commentators (who aren’t highly paid conservative pundits–so, nobody in print news) agree that it means, at minimum, a harder campaign for the New Democratic Party.

So now that country bumpkins, racist asshats, Christian theocrats, and alt-right goons have rallied under one banner, what have they been up to with their new found unity?

AtG favourite Derek Fildebrant has been grifting taxpayers to subsidize his renting scheme. Subsidies? What a communist! Also that surely meets some definition of “misappropriation of funds.”

Jason “I don’t get caught up in the details” Kenney has still been vowing to publicly out every student who joins a student-run gay-straight alliance in public school.

And Brian Jean wants to gut healthcare’s budget to post-Ralph Klein levels. Despite the fact that we are twice as populous as we were then (effectively making his proposal a 75% reduction in the healthcare budget). Hey, at least if you start dying in the emergency room, you won’t have to pay for an ambulance!

In other words: I fucking told y’all so.

There are no moderate conservatives. There are only criminals and fools in denial.

-Shiv

Four days. Zero arrests.

Meanwhile, in Durham County:

RALEIGH, N.C.—More protesters were arrested Wednesday for participating in a demonstration that toppled a Confederate statue in North Carolina.

The statue in Durham came down Monday night when a protester climbed a ladder to attach a rope and demonstrators on the ground pulled the bronze soldier from its pedestal.

On Wednesday, Dante Strobino and Ngoc Loan Tran were led away in handcuffs when they came to a court hearing for the woman who climbed the ladder.

The Durham County Sheriff’s office said Tran and Strobino are charged with two felonies related to inciting and participating in a riot that damaged property. The woman who climbed the ladder, Takiyah Thompson, was charged with the same counts Tuesday.

The three are affiliated with the Workers World Party, which helped organize the Durham protest in response to deadly violence over the weekend during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

That took less than a day.

Still waiting for a single fucking white supremacist to be arrested for their participation in their riot.

-Shiv

Remember this when not a single white supremacist is arrested for their Charlottesville participation

The Department of Justice produced a warrant to acquire the IPs, email addresses and content, and contact information the 1.3 million people who have visited the DisruptJ20 website. This is relation to the J20 protest where over 200 defendants are still facing a stiffer sentence than the Charlottesville murderer for wearing the same colours as someone who broke a window.

-Shiv

Oh look the deficit spending did exactly what it was supposed to do

It’s almost as if we have data on this or something.

While Conservatives busy themselves self-immolating over the government’s choice to deficit spend, the economy moved the fuck on and responded exactly as predicted:

Alberta’s economy is more than just back on its feet, it’s about to run faster than any other region in Canada.

Gross domestic product in the western province will rise by 2.9 percent this year, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists, up from an April estimate of 2.5 percent. That matches forecasts for neighbouring British Columbia, and in 2018 Alberta comes out on top with a 2.4 percent expansion that would be tops among Canada’s 10 provinces.

It’s a huge comeback from Alberta’s last place finish in each of the last two years when oil prices plummeted below $50 a barrel, triggering layoffs and an investment freeze that shrank GDP by about 4 percent. The rebound is another sign Canada may retain its top spot among Group of Seven nations as economic growth diversifies away from consumer spending.

Step two, of course, is the part that really gets the Conservatives excited–Keynesian spending requires taxation during the booms. It remains to be seen whether this will be the case. Conservatives tend to shriek “Greece!” the moment someone suggests 8 hours is not an adequate response time in the emergency room, but they do have a point. You have to balance the budget eventually, and a boom is the best time to do just that. Just running a deficit is the easy part, the real test will be whether Alberta’s NDP or the Canadian Liberals actually shear their capitalist sheep. The saying is “tax and spend,” not just “spend,” after all.

-Shiv