While all eyes and the media was focused on the gubernatorial race in Kentucky and Virginia state legislature, the Pennsylvania suburbs made a sharp left turn getting a lot bluer. From Kate Riga at Talking Points Memo The erosion of Republican dominance in places like Delaware County was stark. There, Democrats swept the county council, …
Mar 15 2018
In Pennsylvania congressional district that was so strongly Republicans in 2016, Democrats didn’t even bother to field a candidate. PA-18 went for Donald Trump 20 points over Hillary Clinton and incumbent Representative Tim Murphy (R) ran unopposed. The nonpartisan Cook Political Report rated the district R+11 due to partisan gerrymandering. Then Murphy had to resign …
Aug 23 2014
Riley Matthew Moscatel came out as transgender in 11th grade English class at Bucks County Technical High School this past spring. From all reports, his transition had gone well at school.
Everyone supported him. Everyone loved Riley. He was everyone’s best friend.
–Kate Cimino, a friend
Other friends noted that Riley suffered from depression in the past but appeared to have improved. But, they say, he had become increasingly uncomfortable with his body.
Riley uploaded a message to his Instagram account on Monday.
My mirror reflects Jessica, my heart and mind say Riley … You see me as the happiest person in school, I’m a prisoner of my own body …
Police have recovered surveillance video that shows Riley stepping in front of an Amtrak train early Monday afternoon near his home in Bristol.
Feb 15 2014
The Philadelphia police have a new policy intended to eliminate the divide between the the city’s transgender citizens and the people sworn to protect them.
Historically police the world over have tended to use the wrong honorific (sir instead of ma’am or vice versa) and/or have declined to use our adopted names.
It’s enough to put fear into you or make you feel uncomfortable or uninvited.
–Samantha Dato, director of Philadelphia’s Trans Health Conference
The new policy, formally called Directive 152, was originally announced in December and addresses how officers will interact with transpeople and the housing, transportation, and processing of transgender inmates. It also addresses how to speak with reporters about transgender offenders or victims of crime.
In cases where a transgender victim has died, the policy states officers should “use pronouns and titles of respect appropriate to the individual’s gender identity as expressed by the individual.”
We were vulnerable because we had no real policy in place.
–Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey
For officers to start addressing people with their proper pronoun, that to me is totally amazing. I do want to see them come through with this.
It is amazing to me that we would be amazed at being treated respectfully. People should not get Brownie Points for not being rude.
Aug 05 2013
The Great Philadelphia Textile Strike of 1903
The Central Textile Workers Union of Philadelphia held a meeting the evening of May 27, 1903. A vote was taken and a general strike call was issued. That general strike eventually caused 100,000 textile workers to go out on strike in the Philadelphia area. 16,000 of those were children under the age of 16, some as young as 8 or 9 years of age. The textile industry of the day employed children at a higher rate than any other industry. The number given from the 1900 census was 80,000. In cotton textiles, they made up 13.1% of the work force, and that rate reached 30% in the South.
The Central Textile Workers’ Union issued this statement:
Thirty-six trades, representing 90,000 people, ask the employers to reduce working hours from sixty to fifty-five hours a week. They are willing that wages be reduced accordingly. They strike for lower wages in an effort to get shorter hours.
Three trades, representing 10,000 people, ask for the same reduction in working hours, but, in addition, they ask for the same weekly wages or a slight increase, averaging ten per cent.
The request for shorter hours is made primarily for the sake of the children and women. For six years the organized textile workers of Philadelphia have been trying in vain to persuade the politician-controlled Legislature of Pennsylvania to pass a law which would reduce the working hours of children and women and stop them from doing night work.
Average wages for adults for 60 hours of work were $13. Children working 60 hours(!) got $2.
On Monday June 1st, at least 90,000 textile workers went out on strike in the Philadelphia area. Of the 600 mills in the city, about 550 were idle. Philadelphia now had more workers out on strike than at any other time in her history. Several thousand workers had already been on strike before the textile strike began, including: the carriage and wagon builders, and the carpenters along with others working in the building trades. It appeared that the city would be in for a long hot summer.
By the next day, Tuesday, the strike spread to the hosiery mills, increasing the army of idle workers by 8,000 Most of these were women and children employed in the Kensington district. This class of workers was unorganized, but they decided to join the ranks of the unionist in other branches of the textile trade as they witnessed the magnitude of the fight for a shorter work week. The Manufacturers vowed they would not submit to the union demands even if they had to shut down their factories indefinitely.
Jul 27 2013
Diamond Williams is described as someone who had a big personality and even bigger heart.
She was so full of life. She was funny and we used to laugh. And I remember just acting silly with her and I just miss her because we had a lot of great times.
She was a very loving, caring, and creative person. We were family. We were like sisters and she loved her sisters. No one should ever have to die the way she died.
Williams, 31, was killed last week after having sexual relations with Charles Sargent, 43. Sargent allegedly dismembered her in his apartment and then dumped her body parts in a field in North Philadelphia.
I don’t care if he knew or he didn’t know. Nobody deserves to die like that. That’s someone’s life that (you) just brutally murdered and dismembered and threw her parts in a field.
Oct 02 2012
Pennsylvania Judge Robert Simpson, who had previously ruled that the state voter ID law could go forward, has suspended the portion of the law that would required voters to have a state issued ID to vote on November 6. Voters can still be asked for ID but if don’t have it, they can still go ahead and vote:
Judge Simpson said in his Tuesday ruling that for the presidential election of Nov. 6, voters in Pennsylvania could be asked to produce the newly required photo IDs, but if they did not have them could still go ahead and vote. The decision could still be appealed to the state Supreme Court.
“While we’re happy that voters in Pennsylvania will not be turned away if they do not have an ID, we are concerned that the ruling will allow election workers to ask for ID at the polls and this could cause confusion,” said Penda D. Hair, co-director of Advancement Project, one of the groups that challenged the law. “This injunction serves as a mere Band-Aid for the law’s inherent problems, not an effective remedy.”
The ruling does not stop the law from being enforced in future elections and there are some serious concerns. Poll workers can still ask for ID and that creates confusion about provisional ballots, as David Dayen at FDL News points out:
Just think of the scenarios. A voter is asked for ID, and producing none, instructed to write a provisional ballot. Technically that ballot must be counted, but the voter might leave, suspecting their vote won’t count. Or they may not follow the provisional ballot instructions closely enough. Or poll worker error could easily lead to a voter being asked to leave without voting. [..]
So this all relies on poll workers knowing that the provisional ballot process is not in effect for voter ID, but that they have to ask for a voter ID anyway. I’m not necessarily confident in that approach, but it’s better than how it initially looked.
What Atrios said
I tried to read the ruling, but it’s written in gibberish. The smart lawyer people on the internet seem to agree that the judge has decreed that poll workers will ask for IDs, but if people don’t have them they should let them vote anyway. In other words, better than nothing but untrained poll workers are not going to have any idea what they’re supposed to do so this election in PA will be a complete mess.
Dec 18 2011
What is Government?
Why do we submit to the law?
We can’t run very fast. We have no sharp teeth or claws. Long ago it became obvious that it was in humanity’s self interest to ban together for our mutual security. We each give up a small amount of personal freedom, for the greater good of the whole. That is the basis of the social contract.
As citizens, our responsibility is to uphold the laws of government. The government, in turn, also has obligations. The bare minimum of those obligations are to protect the majority of people from enemies both foreign and domestic. What enemies do we wish to protect ourselves from? At the very least hunger, disease, invasion by hostile forces (external security), and threats to our self-governance (internal security).
So how are we doing in that respect? Lousy.
We all but wiped out hunger in the US shortly after the Kennedy administration (ended 1963), but the government intentionally reintroduced it in the Reagan administration to drive down worker wages. What is left of our health care system is sowing the seeds of its own destruction. Foreign NGO’s have been invited by the Supreme Court to financially manipulate campaigns and thus our government. Internal threats to self-governance are too numerous to recount here, and in any case the Supreme Court has abandoned all pretense that this was a democracy and officially ruled the US a plutocracy.
We are in essence living in a failed state. Just because I am writing about the US, don’t think your country is doing any better. Most of the Western world is in the same boat.
Other articles have detailed the complex road we took to get here. That is not the purpose of this series. This series discusses how we get out.
Specifically, how to tell our government “No!”
Oct 22 2011
I figure international news includes the United States. There’s a pretty even split between stories from other countries and national stories, presented so the public might know a little better what’s happening of interest to people in the trans community.
Anna Grodzka, 57, became the first ever Polish lawmaker to have had sex reassignment…which makes her the only current transsexual national legislator on the planet. Spain’s Carla Antonelli is transgender, but has not had sex reassignment surgery.
Grodzka runs Trans-Fuzja (website is in Polish), a foundation which supports Poland’s transpeople and says she decided to run in order to promote the work of the foundation. She won 19,451 in the Krakow II electoral district, making her the top vote-getter for Palikot’s Movement in that district and thereby winning one of the 460 seats in Poland’s lower house, the Sejm.
The world’s first transsexual MP was Georgina Beyer of New Zealand’s Labour Party, from 1999 until she resigned her seat in 2007.
Today, Poland is changing. I am the proof along with Robert Biedron, a homosexual and the head of an anti-homophobia campaign who ran for office in Gdynia.
Grodzka says that the time has come for sexual minorities to enjoy equal rights in Poland.
Enough of this concealing of the truth. This group of people, even if small, has its rights and they should be respected. They should not be pushed into oblivion.
On her to-do list are legal partnerships, job security, and state funding of sex change procedures.
Sep 16 2011
Or how to cheat to win by rigging the system:
Republican state legislators in Pennsylvania are pushing a scheme that, if GOPers in other states follow their lead, could cause President Barack Obama to lose the 2012 election-not because of the vote count, but because of new rules. That’s not all: There’s no legal way for Democrats to stop them.
The problem for Obama, and the opportunity for Republicans, is the electoral college. Every political junkie knows that the presidential election isn’t a truly national contest; it’s a state-by-state fight, and each state is worth a number of electoral votes equal to the size of the state’s congressional delegation. (The District of Columbia also gets three votes.) There are 538 electoral votes up for grabs; win 270, and you’re the president.
Here’s the rub, though: Each state gets to determine how its electoral votes are allocated. Currently, 48 states and DC use a winner-take-all system in which the candidate who wins the popular vote in the state gets all of its electoral votes. Under the Republican plan-which has been endorsed by top GOPers in both houses of the state Legislature, as well as the governor, Tom Corbett-Pennsylvania would change from this system to one where each congressional district gets its own electoral vote. (Two electoral votes-one for each of the state’s two senators-would go to the statewide winner.)
Some Republicans in the House see a downside to this thus hitting a snag:
With next year’s presidential election expected to be hard-fought, even sapping some electoral support from Barack Obama in Pennsylvania could have a major impact on the national results. But to several Republicans in marginal districts, the plan has a catch: they’re worried that Democrats will move dollars and ground troops from solid blue districts to battlegrounds in pursuit of electoral votes – and in the process, knock off the Republicans currently in the seats.
Suburban Philadelphia Reps. Jim Gerlach, Pat Meehan and Mike Fitzpatrick have the most at stake, since all represent districts Democrats won in the last two presidential elections. They and the rest of the Republicans in the delegation are joining with National Republican Congressional Committee officials to respond and mobilize against the change.
“Any proposed change to the election laws shouldn’t be done under the radar,” Fitzpatrick told POLITICO. “If every vote matters, everyone should have a chance to discuss this.”
State GOP chairman Rob Gleason is also opposed to the plan.
As David Nir at Daily Kos points out the electoral college is unfair as it is but there is a solution:
(T)he only way to fight back is to push for the national popular vote, something which can be achieved via an interstate compact between states. The states in the compact would all award their EVs to the winner of the national vote, but the law would only take effect once enough states signed on (i.e., states with 270 electoral votes between them). Several states have already signed on (including big boppers like California and Illinois), and this way, no constitutional amendment is necessary.
If the GOP presses forward with their Pennsylvania plan, we’ll have to respond somehow, and I think the national popular vote is the best plan.
As John Aravosis at AMERICAblog notes:
If the Democrats tried this, the Republicans would be rioting in the street. They’re quite literally trying to steal the presidential election. How will the Democrats respond? The word feckless comes to mind.
Dec 08 2010
In an open letter to the leaders of the Philadelphia labor movement, the young and energetic organizer for UFCW Local 152 Hugh Giordano has challenged the city’s unions to have the courage to support the Green Party. Giordano ran an exceptionally strong campaign as a Green for state legislature this year, raising almost $30,000 from unions and individuals and capturing over 18 percent of the vote in a three way race. Now he would like to spread the same movement for honest politics, workers’ rights, and a clean environment (among other things) to the rest of Philadelphia, beyond his single district.
As the members of the party, which I am aiding in every way I can, build the organization for the 2011 local elections, Giordano has seized the opportunity make the area’s union leadership reconsider the popular path of supporting corporate Democrats. In his words, “Why are we, the strong men and women of the labor movement, bowing down to the corporate bosses and politicians…Union brothers and sisters, when any one of us becomes ‘fearful’ or ‘controlled’ by a political party – it’s time to step down and pass the torch on.”
The full letter is printed, with Hugh Giordano’s permission, below the fold.
Oct 17 2010
Originally posted at PoliZeros.
I went to a protest in Philadelphia this past Saturday, and it was more disheartening than anything else. It was against the wars and various other injustices, with a special focus on he recent FBI raids of peace activists and Pennsylvania Homeland Security spying on innocent civilians and activists.
By the end of it, I kind of just felt like going up to the megaphone and asking, “How much moral outrage can one person muster? There are more people handing out fliers here than not, and with this country committing so many disgusting, outrageous acts, I don’t blame you.” I won’t lie, I handed a few out myself. Yet the contrast between the righteous causes featured in the speeches and on the signs and on the fliers and the, as a fellow protester said to me, “complete lack of solidarity” was striking.