Voices from Russia

Saturday, 30 June 2018

“Alternative Sexual Identity”: Austria Recognises “Third Gender”

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Austria’s Constitutional Court handed down a verdict that allows people to register themselves in official documents as something other than male or female if they wish. The Austrian court, in response to a request from an intersexual activist known as Alex Jürgen, called upon the European Convention on Human Rights to introduce the option of “other” or “inter” on civil register forms that ask for a person’s gender. Jürgen, whose birth name remains secret, said:

For the first time in my life, I feel like I’m recognised as what I am, how I was born.

The court emphasised in its ruling that Article 8 of the European Human Rights Convention certifies the right to “an individual sexual identity” and defends “in particular, people with an alternative sexual identity”. The court decision won’t amend existing law since it doesn’t explicitly require documentation of male or female gender.

Last November, Germany became the first European country to call for official recognition of a “third sex”, a decision supported in May by the Netherlands. The third gender already received legal recognition in several countries, Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Canada, India, Pakistan, and Nepal. According to UN experts, from 0.05 to 1.7 percent of global births are intersex.

30 June 2018

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/europe/201806301065909946-austria-court-third-gender/

Editor:

I find this more than a little disquieting. It appears to hinge upon personal choice, not objective medical criteria. It’s one thing if an intersex person or a transsexual under medical supervision asks for a change in gender on documentation, but it’s quite another if we open it to untrammelled personal whim. I know that this’ll open me up to attacks from both sides of the aisle. Those on the left will excoriate me for not being “sensitive” enough. Those on the right will vilify me for even offering a pathway to change one’s documents (they wouldn’t even accept medical vetting, I’ve found). I’d say to you to ignore the activists on both sides and keep it grounded in medical reality. That’s how it stands in most places today (including my home state of New York), and I think that it’s best kept that way. That is, there should be a limited and controlled way to amend one’s personal documents. Otherwise, it becomes anarchy and chaos. Keep it grounded and you won’t go wrong.

BMD

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America’s Problem Isn’t Immigration… America’s Problem Is White Supremacy

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The USA appears to be destined by Providence to plague [the continent of] America with misery in the name of liberty.

Simón Bolívar

These words of the great 19th-century Latin American emancipator accurately describe the relationship between the USA and Latin America to this day. It’s why the punitive treatment by the Trump Administration of migrants attempting to cross the border from Mexico into the USA constitutes a double injustice.

The first injustice is the role that Washington plays and played in destabilising and impoverishing the economies of Latin American states over generations, while subverting and helping to bring down those governments south of the border that dares attempt to unshackle their countries from the chains of US imperialism, in process of which rampant crime, corruption, and violence prosper. The second injustice is the dehumanisation and demonisation meted out to the victims of the ensuing instability and social and economic dislocation wrought when in a state of extremis they flee their homes for sanctuary across the border with their families. Under no moral code can you justify or defend the forced separation of children, including infants, from their parents… none whatsoever. We saw this in the justifiable outcry unleashed in response, which eventually forced Trump to rescind the policy. However, this being said, the nauseating hypocrisy of liberals excoriating the president over the policy of separating children at the border with Mexico has been near impossible to bear. The likes of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, people who when they weren’t responsible for the mass slaughter of children in the Middle East with their régime-change wars, have, in the case of Clinton, supported mass incarceration in the USA itself, involving the forced separation of families, such people have absolutely no right to take any moral high ground on this issue.

Focusing on the whys and wherefores of mass migration, it’s incumbent on those who are serious about grasping the issue at its roots to identify its causes, rather than continue to deal with its symptoms, and thereby only succeed in creating more causes. In so doing we come to the role of US imperialism in sowing uneven and combined development throughout the Americas. Putting it another way, the development and wealth of the USA were contingent on the underdevelopment and poverty of Latin America… the former impossible without the latter. As Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano pointed up in his classic work Open Veins of Latin America:

Underdevelopment isn’t a stage of development, but its consequence. Latin America’s underdevelopment arises from external [European and US] development and continues to feed it. The strength of the imperialist system as a whole rests on the inequality of its parts.

No leader of a Latin or Central American country defied and resisted the juggernaut of US imperialism more than Fidel Castro did. Of the countless speeches he gave during his time at the helm of Cuban politics and society, The Second Declaration of Havana (1962), is among the most powerful:

Since the end of World War II, the countries of Latin America have become more and more impoverished. Their exports have less and less value, their imports cost more. The per capita income falls, the frightful rate of infant mortality doesn’t decrease. The number of illiterates is higher; the people lack jobs, land, adequate housing, schools, hospitals, means of communication, and means of life. Latin America is the provider of cheap raw materials and the buyer of expensive finished articles.

Lest anyone believe that Castro’s views of the relationship between North and South America in the early 1960s bear no relation to the same relationship today, consider, if you will, the plight of Honduras. According to Human Rights Watch, the Central American country in 2018 has violent crime, corruption, and political repression. Meanwhile, according to the World Bank, over 6o percent of its people live in poverty. What we shouldn’t forget is that in 2009 the army toppled the country’s democratically elected leftist President, Manuel Zelaya, in a coup sanctioned by the Honduran Supreme Court and supported by the Obama Administration. As Stephen Zunes reminded us in a 2016 article:

During his [Zelaya’s] tenure, he raised the minimum wage and provided free school lunches, milk for young children, pensions for the elderly, and additional scholarships for students. He built new schools, subsidised public transportation, and even distributed energy-saving light bulbs. None of these was particularly radical, but it was nevertheless disturbing to the country’s wealthy economic and military élites. More frightening was that Zelaya sought to organise an assembly to replace the 1982 constitution written during the waning days of the US-backed military dictator Policarpo Paz García.

With this sorry fate of the country in mind, is it any accident that the number of illegal Honduran migrants into the USA across the Mexican border spiked in recent years? At this juncture, I feel obliged to make a confession. Back in the early to mid-1990s, I was an illegal immigrant living in the USA. However, unlike those crossing the border from Mexico, I wasn’t fleeing natural disaster, grinding poverty, political repression, or a society plagued by crime and violence. I instead had travelled to the USA compelled to do so by nothing more than personal ambition, succumbing to the myth of the American Dream, which as the saying goes is a dream because you have to be asleep to believe it. Anyway, I spent five years in LA as part of the British expat community in Santa Monica, replete with its British pubs, shops, and all the rest, rubbing shoulders and working alongside many other Brits who lived there illegally, many of them having done so for a long time. I worked, paid tax, and was able to exist as if completely legal.

Of course, the difference boils down to the fact that I, and we, happened to be white Europeans, and thus accorded the unwritten but nonetheless obvious privileges white skin affords you in the land of the free. This, ultimately, brings us to the heart of the matter. America’s problem isn’t immigration, its white supremacy. Whether conscious or unconscious, it matters not. The result is brutal treatment meted out to people of colour, migrant and non-migrant alike.

25 June 2018

John Wight

Sputnik International

https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201806251065767940-us-problem-not-immigration/

Friday, 29 June 2018

29 June 2018. ENJOY LIFE! Comandante Fidel Did… So Should You

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Some people think that they have to be serious and earnest all the time. Comandante Fidel disagreed with them. In this photo from 1960, Fidel took a break from making the Revolution and went fishin’. He landed himself a 25-kilo marlin, lookit that! Now, there was a man who had his priorities straight… he knew when to work (and work hard) and when to relax (utterly and completely). Steve… this one’s for you… now, go and do likewise… grab a fishin’ pole and a cooler full of brewskies and enjoy the summer!

You’d be interested to know that Patriarch Kirill and Comandante Fidel were good and close friends. His Holiness sent a beautiful letter of condolence to the Castro family. He made an oligarch-loving rightwing cleric deliver it to the Cuban Embassy… and made the creepo-supremo smile when he did so… now, that’s REVENGE…

BMD

Sunday, 24 June 2018

24 June 2018. Animal Funnies… A House Isn’t a Home Until There’s a Cat in It!

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