A problematic gay rights victory in Lebanon

On the one hand, the fact that a judge in Lebanon ruled in January that criminalization of gay sex in that country must cease is a very good thing.

On the other hand, the case way that happened…the case that won that ruling…and the aftermath are off-putting.

Although the case was decided at the end of January the result was not made public until it was released in the arabic legal magazine Legal Agenda last week.

Judge Naji El Dahdah of Jdeide Court in Beirut dismissed a case on January 28 in which the country of Lebanon accused a self-described transgender woman of having a same-sex relationship with a man. From a transgender perspective, these two individuals were having a heterosexual relationship.

The defendant, whom the report does not name, was born with deformed or incomplete genitalia, but was described as male on her personal status registry. However, she said she always felt she was a woman, and underwent surgery in the 1990s to remove her male genitals and create a vagina.

--Venetia Rainey, The Daily Star

So here we discover that the transgender woman was, in fact, intersex.

And the gay news media was all about the legalization of gay sex…even though the ruling was about penis/vagina sex.

Can you say erasure.



What About When Both Sides Suck? Ukraine Edition

Burning the Midnight Oil for the Arc of the Sun

This is not an effort to engage in an in-depth analysis of the Ukraine Crisis, but is rather a reflection on a challenge the seems to face online discussions about crises such as these.

Much of the analysis of the crisis goes along lines similar to the following:

  • The current government of the Ukraine sucks for [reason], therefore the opposition is great
  • The current opposition of the Ukraine sucks for [reason], therefore the government is great
  • United States foreign policy sucks for [reason], therefore Russia is great
  • Russian foreign policy sucks for [reason], therefore the United States is great

I am sure that anyone who has followed the online discussion of this crisis or, indeed, any of the previous international crises of the past five years will be familiar with arguments along these lines. After all, people who engage in this type of reasoning can come to conclusions about complex crises much quick than other people ...

... who are grounded in the reality that sometimes both sides suck.



Maryland set to protect transgender people from discrimination

On Tuesday the Maryland Senate approved the Fairness for All Marylanders Act of 2014 which would expand Maryland's anti-discrimination laws to add transgender people to the list of classes of people protected against discrimination in housing, employment, access to credit, and public accommodations. The bill exempts religious organizations, private clubs, educational institutions, small businesses and owner-occupied rentals.

There was virtually no debate on the bill, though Anne Arundel Republican Bryan W. Simonaire tried to raise "the bathroom question."

Baltimore CIty, Baltimore County, Howard County and Montgomery County all have protections against disrimination on the basis of gender identity and officials in those locales say they have had no complaints concerning restroom usage.

The bill passed by a margin of 32-15, with four democrats (John Astle (Anne Arundel), James E. DeGrange Sr. (Anne Arundel), Roy P. Dyson (Southern Maryland), James N. Mathias Jr. (Lower Eastern Shore) joining the mostly republican opposition. Howard County Republican Allan H. Kittleman, on the other hand, spoke in support of the bill.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Richard S. Madaleno, Jr (D-Montgomery).



Gender Prison: Transgender student sexually assaulted in California high school boys' room UPDATE: Hoax.

Hercules High School in the northern reaches of San Francisco's Bay Area has been in the news recently for all of the reasons that a school doesn't want to be in the news. Bullying by students, alleged bullying by the principal, a federal investigative report detailing the school's lack of effort in addressing complaints of bullying, and an overwhelming vote of "no confidence" in the principal by the faculty all bleed into the press and/or go viral on the Internet.

And now it has gotten worse.








Sunday Train: The Ends of Amtrak

At the beginning of last month, Paul Druce of "Reason & Rail" discussed the possible impact of the pending upgrade of the Amtrak Acela route in Acela II is the path towards Amtrak operational self-sustainability:

The forthcoming Acela II isn’t just supposed to be significantly faster than the current Acela service, cutting 24 minutes from the scheduled time between Washington and New York and 38 minutes between Washington and Boston, but it will also represent a significant boost in capacity. ...

With an increase in seating capacity, Amtrak will be able to garner significantly more revenue, even if it lowers the price of Acela seating somewhat. This added revenue comes with no significant increase in operational cost and quite possibly a lowered cost, as there should be a higher rate of availability and lowered mechanical costs for what is essentially an off the shelf train, along with significantly lower energy consumption. With current averages for occupancy and passenger revenue unchanged, an Acela II train service could see $742 million in revenue, with $447 million in operational profit.

This will have an even larger effect upon Amtrak’s financial deficit than initially appears because starting in FY2014, the states bear a greater responsibility for the short distance train corridors. This had the affect of reducing Amtrak’s FY2014 budget request to only $373 million for the operating grant; 2013’s appropriation, by contrast, was $442 million.

Note that what Paul Druce refers to as "operational profit" is what I have been calling "operating surplus" in the Sunday Train, the surplus of revenues from operations over operating costs. This is nothing like an operational profit, at present, since a profit is a financial benefit from a difference between revenue and costs, and there is nothing in the current organization of the Acela services that make a surplus on their operations into a distinctive financial asset for any purpose ... whether public or private.

Whether or not all or part of this operating surplus should be made into an operational profit is a question that goes to the heart of what is the purpose of Amtrak. The way that this surplus is spent can be the means to service a range of ends ... but what are the ends that are a legitimate use of these means?

Since Amtrak was established, and exists, as a political compromise, this is not a question about what is the proper "End" for Amtrak activities, but what are the proper "Ends" for Amtrak activities.




Hellraisers Journal: Defense Further Demolishes Case Against Cripple Creek Strike Leaders

You ought to be out raising hell. This is the fighting age. Put on your fighting clothes.
-Mother Jones

Wednesday March 2, 1904
Cripple Creek District - Witnesses for the Defense Demolish Case Against Union Leaders

Cripple Creek Strike, Colorado: The Bull Pen

The work of demolishing the case against the district leaders of the Western Federation of Miners, begun early last week by the "persecution's" own witnesses, was completed later in the week by the witnesses for the defense. The case for the defense was presented, beginning on Friday. Mrs. Emma F. Langdon offers this report from the courtroom:





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