Minneapolis City Council elections

Two openly transgender people are running for positions on Minneapolis' City Council this year.

There’s just not a lot of candidates running yet, and that’s what’s so exciting about Minneapolis. Without endorsing anybody, it is overall a good thing that two trans people have stepped up, and two trans people who at least on paper aren’t unrealistic candidates.

--Mara Keisling, NCTE

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Sunday Train: The Steel Interstate & Sustainable Transport in the Age of Trump

So, we are two weeks into the Trump administration, and we see a runaway rush to promote economic suicide through pandering to oil and coal companies. Because, it would seem, the slogan was really "Make America Great At Propping Up Dead End Industries Again", but #MAGAPUDEIA" had to be edited down, both for length and because too few of Trump's core base supporters were confident they could pronounce it.

One implication is that much work for sustainable transport and Living Energy Independence has to shift down to the state and local level, which was the focus of last week's Sunday Train and the Sunday Train two weeks ago.

We still do not have a firm outline of the promised "$1T infrastructure" policy, but early indications are that it will be (1) a package of tax breaks for private investment in infrastructure, (2) wide open to grabbing tax breaks to spending that would have been done anyway, and (3) at a level too small to back $1T in total spending, even setting aside the tax breaks going to infrastructure spending that would have happened anyway.

It is a $1T infrastructure plan in the same sense that putting a fiberglass body that emulates a Ferrari on a go kart would make me a Ferrari owner. And still, if the Republicans push it through Congress, there is still an opportunity to use such a system to make progress toward sustainable long distance intercity transport ... through the Steel Interstate proposal being advocated by Solutionary Rail.

How and why, below the fold.

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The depression won

A sad story

On December 8, the student everyone knew as Carl climbed into the pulpit at St. Joseph's Chapel at Kent School in Danbury, Connecticut.

For once, I’ve actually chosen my words very carefully. ... Let me explain myself to you, not as Carl the experienced senior giving a chapel talk. But as Carl, the really scared child who is worried that they may have waited too long to get real.

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San Francisco establishes Compton Historic District

The world's first TLGB district was unveiled in San Francisco on Tuesday.

Named after the historic Compton's Cafeteria riots in 1966 (the first known incident of collective LGBT resistance to police harassment in U.S. history), The Compton's TLGB District will encompass six blocks in the southeastern Tenderloin and will cross over Market Street to include two blocks of 6th Street. The intersection of Compton's Cafeteria Way and Vikki Mar Lane (previously portions of Turk and Taylor Streets) will be a hub of services and economic opportunities for trans and gender-nonconforming communities, as well as a place to honor the community's history.

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Texas mayor comes out

 photo herbst_zpsl13mayhe.jpgNew Hope, TX has a population of 670 with 640 registered voters. The Collin County town is in one of the most conservative suburban parts of Texas, situated 40 miles northeast of Dallas. Jess Herbst had been elected as an alderman after previously being the road commissioner. When Mayor Johnny Hamm died last year, Herbst was selected to be mayor pro tem.

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South Dakota anti-trans legislation withdrawn

A bill that was introduced in the South Dakota State Senate that would have required the state's public school students to use locker rooms, shower rooms and changing facilities matching the gender they were assigned at birth was withdrawn yesterday. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Lance Russell, who said he withdrew the bill because of Gov. Dennis Daugaard's promise to veto the bill if passed and because the legal defense team which promised to defend the bill withdrew its support because bathrooms were not included in the restrictions.

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Scouts open door for trans boys

A week after the UK opened membership in the Girl Guides to transgender girls, a few days after the Irish Girl Guides followed suit, and facing a lawsuit over discriminating against New Jersey trans boy, Joe Maldonado, The Boy Scouts of America has announced that it will begin accepting members based on gender identity.

For more than 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America, along with schools, youth sports and other youth organizations, have ultimately deferred to the information on an individual’s birth certificate to determine eligibility for our single-gender programs. However, that approach is no longer sufficient as communities and state laws are interpreting gender identity differently, and these laws vary widely from state to state.

They don't sound so enthusiastic about accepting trans kids.

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Sunday Train: Is Cuomo Dragging His Feet on the Empire Rapid Rail Corridor?

It's been two and a half years since I started working full time for my University here in Beijing, and in that time, the frequency of the Sunday Train dropped from once a week a week with only the occasional missed week, to a few scattered runs during Semester breaks.

Back in January 2014, more than half a year before I started my job in Beijing, the Draft Tier I Environmental Impact Statement for the New York State Empire Corridor High Speed Rail study was signed off on by Joseph Szabo, then Administrator of the Federal Rail Authority. It was released with a comment period through to March 24, 2014.

So, let's catch up to the current state of play. As Albany's Times Union reported on 8 Oct, 2016:

Although the public comment period on the draft of the study ended April 30, 2014, the final environmental impact statement has yet to be released.

Now, the state Department of Transportation, which led the study, says it hopes to have the final document completed by the end of March, agency spokeswoman Jennifer Post said. The Federal Railroad Administration, at the state DOT's request, has extended the deadline to Sept. 30, 2017.

Well, then, haven't missed much. Join me for a look at what is up with the Empire Corrior, and why the NY DOT has been slow-walking the completion of this report, below the fold.

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South Dakota governor pledges veto

Yesterday, South Dakota Governor Dennis Daugaard pledged to veto a discriminatory bill that would restrict transgender students from accessing locker rooms and facilities that match their gender identity.

SB 115 was introduced this week even though Daugaard vetoed a similar bill last spring.

The legislation does not address any pressing issue concerning the school districts of South Dakota.

I haven’t heard one instance of a problem in this area. Not one. But we have seen major problems in North Carolina when a bill like this was enacted.

--Daugaard

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