June 3rd, 2012


India’s ‘Third Gender’ Community Demands Social Equality and Its Own Passport Designation

On Saturday, members of India's transgender and hijra community convened in New Delhi for the first Hijra Habba in order to discuss ways to ameliorate the persistent discrimination that marginalizes Indian transgenders.

The hijra, known throughout south Asia as a "third gender" because they are born male and identify as female, live in close-knit communities on the fringes of mainstream society. Since many government documents, including passports, require them to identify as male or female, many of the hijra see their rights curtailed by the impassive machinery of government bureaucracy. Ironically, though the hijra have been widely stigmatized and harassed, they've occupied a venerable place in marriage culture since ancient times, often tasked with singing at weddings and births and, therefore, treated with respect among individual households.

According to Gauri Sawant, general secretary of the Transgender and Hijra Welfare Board of Maharashtra, transgender and hijra individuals are more vulnerable to abuse and discrimination precisely because so many of them remain undocumented. Says Sawant,

In India, cases of violence go unreported as the present social and legal environment is oppressive towards transgender persons and Hijras. Due to their different health identity, they are denied opportunities to earn a living, to study and to access health services. Even changing their names and sex in official documents is not easy

With this most recent hijra convocation in India, members of India's transgender and hijra community are hoping to change public perception and reverse a pernicious social stigmatization.


mus | like a bird in a cage

Grade 3 student receives ‘catastrophe award’ for most homework excuses; sparks online debate

Arizona third-grader Cassandra Garcia came home with an end-of-term award no parent wants their child to receive -- the "catastrophe award" for the most excuses for not having her homework done. The award was signed with a smiley face from her teacher.

Needless to say, Cassandra's mom, Christina Valdez, was not impressed:

"I was so ticked off," she tells the Toronto Star. "She said the teacher announced the award in front of the whole class and all the kids laughed at her."

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Body parts murder of Lin Jun provokes Chinese gov’t to warn its citizens in Canada

Even without Luka Rocco Magnotta, Canada is not a safe place:  that's the narrative you'd be receiving if you read the Chinese newspapers or internet chat rooms this weekend.

The grisly killing of Lin Jun — a 33-year-old Chinese student living in Montreal — allegedly at the hands of fugitive Magnotta, has provoked widespread anger in China, where many believe the crime was racially motivated.

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[edited for lj cut fail]
spock purls.
  • chaya

Actor Jason Alexander Apologizes for Jokes Made on CBS' The Late Late Show

On last Friday night’s episode of The Late Late Show on CBS, actor Jason Alexander repeatedly joked with host Craig Ferguson about the game of cricket being a “gay sport” as opposed to a “manly” one. Having had time to more carefully consider the jokes he made though, the Love! Valour! Compassion! and Seinfeld actor released a new statement through his Twitter account, explaining how conversations with his gay friends made him realize the effect that kind of denigrating humor has on the adolescents that so often find themselves the subject of it. You can read the full post below:

A message of amends.

Last week, I made an appearance on the Craig Ferguson show – a wonderfully unstructured, truly spontaneous conversation show. No matter what anecdotes I think will be discussed, I have yet to find that Craig and I ever touch those subjects. Rather we head off onto one unplanned, loony topic after another. It’s great fun trying to keep up with him and I enjoy Craig immensely.

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MISC - moustache

Legal cloud gathers over Scott Walker as recall election approaches

With the recall election less than two days away, federal prosecutors are closing in on Governor Scott Walker, according to veteran political reporter David Shuster, former Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, and former district attorney Bob Jambois.

In a conference call organized by state Democrats on Saturday evening, June 2, Shuster, Lautenschlager, and Jambois laid out evidence that Walker is a target of a federal investigation.

Wisconsin Democratic Party Communications Director Graeme Zielinski added that there is evidence of wrongdoing after Walker's time as Milwaukee County Executive, and that the investigation includes criminal activity during his time as governor.

Based on conversations with a lawyer who has knowledge of the investigation, "We believe that Scott Walker set up a secret computer network in the governor's office and Department of Administration offices, and that the John Doe investigation is seeking evidence of crimes he committed in Madison," Zielinski said.

Walker denied the allegations. At a campaign event on Saturday, Walker answered "absolutely not" to reporters' questions -- raised by David Shuster's reporting for Take Action News -- about whether he had been informed, either formally or informally, that he might be a target of federal prosecution. "I've never heard a single thing about that, other than spin from the left," Walker said. He described the allegations as "just more of the liberal scare tactics out there desperately trying to get the campaign off target."

"I stand by my reporting 100 percent," Shuster said in the conference call. "It's clear to me that he is, in fact, a target in a federal investigation."

Despite copious reporting, especially in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, about the Milwaukee County district attorney's probe of alleged violations when Walker was county executive -- including a secret email network maintained by his staff for the purpose of conducting illegal campaign activity on county time, the theft of funds intended for the widows and orphans of Iraq War veterans, and possible favorable treatment of campaign donors seeking public contracts, not much has been written about the FBI probe.

"The Wisconsin press has only reported about the John Doe -- the state component," said Zielinski. "They have not reported on the federal component of this."

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