Tina K. Russell

October 14, 2009

The defense

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Tina Russell @ 1:29 pm

The murder case of transsexual Melek K. who was killed in her home in Ankara was continued. The prosecutor claimed to try defendant T.P. under six different charges such as murder, plunder, theft and further allegations.

via English :: Prosecutor Claims 6 Different Charges against Melek K.’s Murder – Bianet.

I have a few things to say after reading the article:

  1. This Turkish news site was funded in part by the Swedish International Development Agency. Cool. (Hooray for Scandinavia!)
  2. It’s sad to see that even in Turkey murderers of transsexual women use the “tranny panic” defense, which is where you say the two of you were about to have sex when you saw her genitals, panicked, and killed her. In the States at least, it often works, as a means to get the jury on your side by playing to their prejudices. The thing is, not only is it bizarre and indefensible (you panicked and killed someone over their genitals?), it’s always a lie. Murderers of transsexuals can and do seek out their victims first.
  3. For the good news, the perp is dead to rights: evidence shows the victim still had her clothes on during the murder. For once, the tranny panic defense won’t work, and let’s hope it never does again.

July 19, 2009

Amazon.com’s memory hole

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 5:05 pm

In a move that angered customers and generated waves of online pique, Amazon remotely deleted some digital editions of the books from the Kindle devices of readers who had bought them.

An Amazon spokesman, Drew Herdener, said in an e-mail message that the books were added to the Kindle store by a company that did not have rights to them, using a self-service function. “When we were notified of this by the rights holder, we removed the illegal copies from our systems and from customers’ devices, and refunded customers,” he said.

Amazon effectively acknowledged that the deletions were a bad idea. “We are changing our systems so that in the future we will not remove books from customers’ devices in these circumstances,” Mr. Herdener said.

via Amazon Erases Orwell Books From Kindle Devices – NYTimes.com.

Two thoughts:

  1. I had no idea that my skepticism of the Kindle would be vindicated so soon. I never liked the idea, in theory, that Amazon.com can remove, remotely, any feature or purchase from your device without your knowledge or consent. I didn’t like the theory, and now it’s in the realm of practice. (Yes, they won’t do it again, they say… sure. Let’s see how they hold up the next time they’re assaulted by a gaggle of lawyers carrying pitchforks and legal briefs.)
  2. Wait… the bogus publisher placed pirate versions of Orwell’s books onto the Kindle store using a self-service feature? Amazon.com allows you to add books to the store on the honor system? That’s insane. And, incidentally, be on the lookout for the ultra-bestseller Twilight, now from Tina Russell Publishing, LLC, available on the Kindle Store in about fifteen minutes.

May 10, 2009

Decisions, incisions

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Tina Russell @ 1:35 pm

PrideSource: Austrian court strikes down transsexual surgery law
Austria’s Administrative High Court has struck down a law that blocked recognition of male-to-female transsexuals’ new gender unless an individual’s penis had been removed.

“Mandatory sex-change surgery today is outdated and not scientific state-of-the-art anymore,” the GLBT group Rechtskomitee Lambda said in a statement. “On the contrary, it is understood as a human rights violation.”

Thank youuuuuuu!!

Many people don’t realize that successful transition consists of many steps and options, and it’s the right of the individual to decide where he or she wants to go. Many, if not most, female-to-male transsexuals, for instance, opt not to get genital surgery at all, because the surgery is somewhat more crude at this point than the reverse. Meanwhile, many transsexuals in general envision getting the surgery but realize, after a successful transition of everything but what’s downstairs, they’re perfectly happy in their bodies and don’t feel the need to change their genitals.

Your junk is your business! Don’t let anybody tell you who you are based on what’s in your pants.

(None of this, of course, stops the global news media from freaking out when a transsexual man decides to keep his womb around so that he can give birth, and does it with dignity, but never mind…)

November 21, 2008


Early Test for Obama on Domestic Spying Views – NYTimes.com
Some Democratic lawmakers have said they would like to conduct a more thorough investigation than was possible during Mr. Bush’s tenure, but other Democratic advisers say they see little gain from trying to investigate past abuses and that an investigation risks harming the bipartisan spirit of cooperation that Mr. Obama has promised.

“We cannot be facile and say bygones will be bygones, because they will not be bygones and will return to haunt us. True reconciliation is never cheap, for it is based on forgiveness, which is costly. Forgiveness in turn depends on repentance, which has to be based on an acknowledgement of what was done wrong, and therefore on disclosure of the truth. You cannot forgive what you do not know.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, as chair of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1995

October 13, 2008

Conscience and courage in Connecticut court

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Tina Russell @ 6:49 pm

Gay Marriage Is Ruled Legal in Connecticut – NYTimes.com
A sharply divided Connecticut Supreme Court struck down the state’s civil union law on Friday and ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry. Connecticut thus joins Massachusetts and California as the only states to have legalized gay marriages.

The ruling, which cannot be appealed and is to take effect on Oct. 28, held that a state law limiting marriage to heterosexual couples, and a civil union law intended to provide all the rights and privileges of marriage to same-sex couples, violated the constitutional guarantees of equal protection under the law.

October 28th is my birthday! Thank you, Connecticut. You thought of me.

Really, you should visit the article ’cause the photograph… it will just put that fuzzy lump in your heart. It’s wonderful! Human rights does that to you.

Suddenly, couples that have been together for years or decades can finally get married, and be considered equal citizens in the eyes of the state. No longer will gay people in Connecticut have to get married on a separate “track” of some kind, raising the dark specter of “separate but equal” that had a sad history in the United States. But most of all, I just love the idea that human beings, regardless of sexual orientation or race or class or whatever, deserve equal rights and respect. The fact that the government, which plays a large role in setting the tone for society, is extending that respect is wonderful.

Let this freedom spread from state to state! Equal marriage rights for gay couples! Go forth!

Striking at the heart of discriminatory traditions in America, the court — in language that often rose above the legal landscape into realms of social justice for a new century — recalled that laws in the not-so-distant past barred interracial marriages, excluded women from occupations and official duties, and relegated blacks to separate but supposedly equal public facilities.

“Like these once prevalent views, our conventional understanding of marriage must yield to a more contemporary appreciation of the rights entitled to constitutional protection,” Justice Richard N. Palmer wrote for the majority in a 4-to-3 decision that explored the nature of homosexual identity, the history of societal views toward homosexuality and the limits of gay political power compared with that of blacks and women.

“Interpreting our state constitutional provisions in accordance with firmly established equal protection principles leads inevitably to the conclusion that gay persons are entitled to marry the otherwise qualified same-sex partner of their choice,” Justice Palmer declared. “To decide otherwise would require us to apply one set of constitutional principles to gay persons and another to all others.”

September 27, 2008

Victorious Transsexuals: Diane Shroer

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Tina Russell @ 2:59 am

You’ve probably heard about the severe pwnage achieved by counterterrorism expert Diane Shroer and her ACLU legal team. If this ruling stands, and God I hope it does, it’ll be a wonderful day for transsexuals who have now learned that, wow, they can get jobs now. And keep them. You know, our transsexual sons and daughters will get to grow up to be professionals, rather than be limited to prostitution and hairdressing.

GayCityNews – Trans Bias Claim Okayed
“No court would take seriously the notion that ‘converts’ are not covered by the statute,” [US District Judge James Robertson] wrote. “Discrimination ‘because of religion’ easily encompasses discrimination because of a change of religion. But in cases where the plaintiff has changed her sex, and faces discrimination because of the decision to stop presenting as a man and to start appearing as a woman, courts have traditionally carved such persons out of the statute by concluding that ‘transsexuality’ is unprotected… courts have allowed their focus on the label ‘transsexual’ to blind them to the statutory language itself.”

Anyway, this write-up from the AP is a great summary of the logic behind the ruling. A key component of the issue at hand is that the 1964 Civil Rights Act was not crafted with transsexuals in mind. Can you read the statutory language of a ruling to include people not thought of at the time? Well, you can, according to a line of reasoning increasingly used by the Supreme Court, and consistently advocated by one of its more right-wing members.

His name? Antonin Scalia.


Anyway, I’m really happy to know that a federal court has acknowledged that when you discriminate against transsexuals, it’s sex discrimination. I hope y’alls, my cissexual brothers and sisters, can understand how much that feels like the clouds lifting and the sun coming out. I have a future, and it’s in large part thanks to a wise and forward-thinking ruling out of a US District Court.


September 9, 2008

Proprietary science is patently absurd

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , — Tina Russell @ 10:18 pm

(I also wanted to call this post, “Putting drug companies on the Dole? I don’t Bayh it!”)

Unboxed – When Academia Puts Profit Ahead of Wonder – NYTimes.com
In the past, discovery for its own sake provided academic motivation, but today’s universities function more like corporate research laboratories. Rather than freely sharing techniques and results, researchers increasingly keep new findings under wraps to maintain a competitive edge. What used to be peer-reviewed is now proprietary. “Share and share alike” has devolved into “every laboratory for itself.”

In trying to power the innovation economy, we have turned America’s universities into cutthroat business competitors, zealously guarding the very innovations we so desperately want behind a hopelessly tangled web of patents and royalty licenses.

The Bayh-Dole Act of 1980 is one of my least-favorite pieces of legislation ever for this reason. Once upon a time, the results of federally financed research were public domain, since after all, we paid for them! Of course, two Senators got it into their heads that this was a problem, that America can succeed as a country only if we devolve into everyone-for-themselves, Lord of the Flies melee combat. Now universities are in a rush to patent their findings (as though basic knowledge of the universe could be patented) and license them exclusively to drug companies that can take advantage of a sick and desperate audience and bilk us for all we’re worth. (The “cost of innovation” excuse is nonsense, as anyone who knows about price elasticity of demand is aware.)

Please read the article! It tackles the research rather than the public health side, but it’s a blow-by-blow account of the mess we’re in. Over in the software world, we’ve slowly learned that sharing information and then competing on merit—that is to say, standing on the shoulders of giants, who are themselves standing on the shoulders of other giants—produces better software than locking up our code and having to reinvent the wheel each and every time we make a new application (and even then not being able to release it without a maelstrom of C&Ds from opportunistic patent trolls). In science, sadly, we run a risk of slipping steadily back from this realization, from Jonas Salk’s bemused reaction of “there’s no patent… could you patent the sun?”, and into a world in which we compete not for titles or reputations but for cold, hard cash, and are willing to let the scientific world splinter into a thousand pieces and let innovation grind to a halt for that worship of money.

I like intellectual property, I like copyright, I like the idea that you have control over the things you create. I want people who write books and make movies and report the news and create astonishing inventions and build the latest videogame to be able to make lots of money from what they do. However, when a university is receiving public money, they ought to be willing to give back to the people that gave them the opportunity, and we ought to attach those strings to the money we give.

More important than any of that though is the simple fact that—as we’ve learned in software—a mad rush to patent everything “under the sun, made by man” does not promote innovation but rather grinds it to a halt. Innovation, by and large, is not a college student with a billion-dollar idea; it’s many, many bright people slowly building on an idea until it becomes robust and unstoppable. An angel coming down from the heavens with the concept for your next patent application is rare, and those “aha!” moments can only come from the long hours of drudgery, the thankless work of intellectual labor, the ninety-nine percent perspiration whose inspirational component makes it all worth it. When you cannot build on others’ ideas, when the giants are wearing massive, spiked shoulder-pads of IP to prevent you from standing on their shoulders, you must repeat every act of this intellectual drudgery that anyone before you has ever completed before. Oh, and if you work for an institution with such a strong-IP bent, and you leave or are fired or laid off, guess what? Work-for-hire just means you lost your life’s work. Sucks to be you.

What’s more, the article goes on to discuss how these patents, for the massive intellectual gold rush going into them, for the university legal departments sprouting up like mini-malls and the armies of men in lab coats hiring brokers, are mostly not even profitable! The money that goes into the sheer legal paperwork and hoop-jumping of the patent mess—not to mention enforcing your patent in costly lawsuits—is more money than you can ever hope to get from Fig. B. This doesn’t even begin to describe the massive deadweight loss to society when universities quit cooperating and attempt to establish their own scientific fiefdoms, their own legal terrariums, sheltering their research from the outside world, forcing institutions of science to go it alone and duplicate every lab-room slough that anyone has ever endured if they ever want to make any kind of discovery.

This is something that’s crushing to me not only because I have ADD and the patent on my medication does not run out until 2018 because somebody decided that you could patent the very concept of a generic medicine with an immediate- and extended-release mechanism (not such a mechanism, but the basic idea of one!), and the courts and the patent office have rolled over like doting puppies. It’s not crushing to me just because of the rising costs of healthcare across America are explained not only by very real and impressive technological and medical advances but also because of an elaborate scheme of publicly-funded extortion of sick people unknowingly set up by our government and paid for by taxpayers (twice!). It’s crushing to me because I love science, and science can’t happen if no one is able to stand on the shoulders of giants because the giants have taken out patents on their shoulders and they won’t be public domain for twenty years, at which point they’ll be changed slightly solely for the sake of a new shoulder-patent.

Today’s science patent scheme was supposed to create innovation by allowing scientific institutions to have twenty-year monopolies on their discoveries. It works great for books or movies (unless Disney can buy enough Congressmen to keep America’s cultural heritage under copyright forever), and it’s great for specific inventions that are reasonably clever and nonobvious. For science, however, excessive patenting means that innovation happens in a glacial, twenty-year cycle. I can’t think of a good way to get the public riled up about this, but we must. Don’t pay for your medicine at both ends. Lets restore trust in our doctors and scientists and kick out the plague of greed from our institution of science.

America’s economy of innovation depends on it. Public funding should mean public domain.

July 14, 2008

People of the cloth, people of the bracelet

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — Tina Russell @ 11:06 pm

This is from an article on a priest whose predominently Hispanic church became a haven for families caught up in the Agriprocessors immigration raids in Postville, Iowa.

On Religion – Immigrants Find Solace After Storm of Arrests – NYTimes.com
Already, members of the church staff and a Spanish teacher from a nearby college were tallying the names of the detained workers. Father Ouderkirk conducted his own version of a census in this predominantly Hispanic parish. Gone were all but two members of the choir he had assembled over the years. Gone were all but one of the eight altar servers. Gone were the husbands from the weddings he had performed, and gone were the fathers of the children he had baptized.

As for the mothers, many of them also worked at Agriprocessors and had been arrested. In a putative show of compassion, federal authorities released them after putting an electronic homing device on each woman’s ankle to monitor her whereabouts. These mothers were, in the new lexicon of Postville, “las personas con brazalete,” the people with a bracelet.

During his earlier tenure at parishes in North Texas and Marshalltown, Iowa, Father Ouderkirk had experienced immigration raids twice before, but never on this scale. By the second day, he had moved back into his bedroom in the rectory.

“It’s like God saying, ‘I gave you a little practice,’ because this is the worst,” Father Ouderkirk said in an interview late last month at St. Bridget’s. “This has happened after 10 years of stable living. These people were in school. They were achieving. It has ripped the heart out of the community and out of the parish. Probably every child I baptized has been affected. To see them stunned is beyond belief.”

It seems stupid, to me, to be focusing our law enforcement efforts on people that remind me so much of our ancestors, the early settlers, working hard and chasing the American dream. (I’ve mentioned before that my lineage traces back to the Mayflower; we didn’t exactly have green cards, either.) Whatever crafty means they employed to come here and stay, I hardly think heavy-handed deport-’em-all tactics are warranted, especially given how such brutal efforts have ripped hard-working families apart.

America is a nation of immigrants. Deal.

June 24, 2008

No justice here

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Tina Russell @ 9:11 pm

Doubting Case, a Prosecutor Helped the Defense – NYTimes.com
The Manhattan district attorney, Robert M. Morgenthau, had a problem. The murder convictions of two men in one of his office’s big cases — the 1990 shooting of a bouncer outside the Palladium nightclub — had been called into question by a stream of new evidence.

So the office decided on a re-examination, led by a 21-year veteran assistant, Daniel L. Bibb.

Mr. Bibb spent nearly two years reinvestigating the killing and reported back: He believed that the two imprisoned men were not guilty, and that their convictions should be dropped. Yet top officials told him, he said, to go into a court hearing and defend the case anyway. He did, and in 2005 he lost.

But in a recent interview, Mr. Bibb made a startling admission: He threw the case. Unwilling to do what his bosses ordered, he said, he deliberately helped the other side win.

Mr. Bibb said he shared his growing doubts with his superiors. And at a meeting in early 2005, he recalled, after defense lawyers won court approval for a hearing into the new evidence, he urged that the convictions be set aside. “I made what I considered to be my strongest pitch,” he said.

Instead, he said, he was ordered to go to the hearing, present the government’s case and let a judge decide — a strategy that violated his sense of a prosecutor’s duty.

Still, Mr. Bibb said, he worried that if he did not take the case, another prosecutor would — and possibly win.

Today, Mr. Bibb says he does not believe he crossed any line.

“I didn’t work for the other side,” he said. “I worked for what I thought was the right thing.”

That’s kind of beautiful, but still disturbing. If a prosecutor does not believe in the truth of his case, he should recuse himself, not throw the case entirely by intentionally botching it. If the prosecutor is convinced that the man he’s prosecuting is innocent, that does not make him qualified to trick his colleagues, colleagues tasked with finding impartial justice, into finding the man innocent. He is a prosecutor, not a detective, not a jurist, and not a judge. Throwing the case not only defrauds his employer–the people–of requested services, it appoints him to judge and jury of a case that aleady stinks to high heaven.

Police often do the same thing, by fabricating and trumping up evidence against someone they sincerely believe is guilty (known as “framing a guilty man”). That’s still bad; it’s deciding, on your own, to take more power than society has alloted you, more power than you have been permitted, and have stated yourself, to represent.

June 10, 2008

On racism

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — Tina Russell @ 10:06 am

States Take New Tack on Illegal Immigration – Series – NYTimes.com
Three months after the local police inspected more than a dozen businesses searching for illegal immigrants using stolen Social Security numbers, this community in the Florida Panhandle has become more law-abiding, emptier and whiter.

Sheriff Wendell Hall of Santa Rosa County, who led the effort, said the arrests were for violations of state identity theft laws. But he also seemed proud to have found a way around rules allowing only the federal government to enforce immigration laws. In his office, the sheriff displayed a framed editorial cartoon that showed Daniel Boone admiring his arrest of at least 27 illegal workers.

His approach is increasingly common. Last month, 260 illegal immigrants in Iowa were sentenced to five months in prison for violations of federal identity theft laws.

At the same time, in the last year, local police departments from coast to coast have rounded up hundreds of immigrants for nonviolent, often minor, crimes, like fishing without a license in Georgia, with the end result being deportation.

In the immigrant community, fears now cloud the most basic routines. Many Hispanics said they avoided being seen or heard speaking Spanish in Wal-Mart, even if they live here legally. Others detailed their habit of meticulously checking their cars’ headlights, blinkers and registration to avoid being pulled over.

This is absolutely sick. There’s no question that crossing over the border into the States without a visa or passport is a crime. What I’m not sure of is when this became the worst crime in the world, a crime so bad that we can subvert every one of our laws, and our entire system of justice, to combat this. These are, generally, people who come here, work hard, and chase the American dream, and we treat them like dirt for it. Everyone involved in this should be deeply ashamed for how they’re tarnishing this country’s name.

(Might I remind you that this country was founded by illegal immigrants? Anyway…)

Oh, and, incidentally, identity theft panic is being used in Oregon, at least, to push zero-tolerance foreign worker laws. So, be wary when somebody asks you to sign a petition to help “identity theft victims.”

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