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Navy Probes Complaint of Cancer ‘Cluster’ Among Guantanamo Workers

Gitmo. (photo: Brennan Linsley/Getty Images)
Gitmo. (photo: Brennan Linsley/Getty Images)


Al Jazeera America | Reader Supported News | July 29, 2015

Complaint says seven Gitmo employees developed cancer, and seeks evacuation and investigations; jet fuel dump suspected


he U.S. Navy is investigating a complaint that seeks the evacuation of civilian and military lawyers from parts of the U.S. base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, following reports of cancer cases among personnel working on the trials of detainees there.

At least seven civilians and military members who worked on detainee trials at Guantanamo Bay have been diagnosed with cancer, according to the complaint, which was filed with the U.S. Defense Department’s Office of the Inspector General. The complaint calls on American military officials to remove personnel from court facilities on the base and test them and the base itself for carcinogens.

Civilian lawyers who have worked at the base said they supported the call for an investigation.

“There appears to be a cancer cluster surrounding the military commissions at Guantanamo,” said J. Wells Dixon, a lawyer with the Center for Constitutional Rights, who has represented dozens of Guantanamo detainees. “And the Centers for Disease Control should be brought in to investigate the matter thoroughly.”

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The 50th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act Will Not Go Unremembered

Fox News
Bend the Arc Jewish Action | July Newsletter 2015

On the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, Fox News will be moderating the first Republican presidential debate.

August 6th, 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act into law with Dr. King and other Civil Rights leaders by his side. This landmark piece of legislation, which created strong legal protections to prevent voter suppression, was gutted of much of its enforcement ability by the Supreme Court two years ago.

August 6 is also a significant date as it will be the first debate between the Republican presidential candidates hosted by Fox News. The leading figures of the Republican party, including Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Donald Trump, will gather to debate the future of their party and their party’s agenda for the 2016 election. The candidates are certain to debate the issues that they see as crucial to their party: immigration, law enforcement, and foreign policy. However, one topic we are sure they want to avoid is the issue of voting rights and the tide of voter suppression laws that have passed since 2013, some with their help.

Bend the Arc wants to ensure that the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) is fully present in the minds of the American public as we enter the 2016 election cycle. That is why we will be delivering a petition to Fox News to demand that the moderators of the debate pose the following question to the candidates: “What will you do to restore the Voting Rights Act, which was first signed into law 50 years ago today?” 

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Bernie Learns His Lesson — But Have the Rest of Us?

(Photo: Al Drago/CQ Roll Call via AP) Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders waits to speak to federal contract workers during a rally on Capitol Hill on Wedneday, July 22.


Adele M. Stan | The American Prospect | July 29, 2015

We want a nation where a young black man or woman can walk down the street without worrying about being falsely arrested, beaten, or killed,” Bernie Sanders told some 8,000 supporters in Dallas on July 19, the day after his contentious encounter with protesters from the Black Lives Matter movement at Netroots Nation.

While Sanders, the socialist U.S. senator from Vermont who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, appeared to have learned his lesson quickly, the same cannot necessarily be said for some of his most ardent followers, or for the progressive movement more broadly, where power rests primarily in the hands of white men.

When Sanders announced his candidacy, I welcomed it—and I still do. Standing far to the left of likely nominee Hillary Clinton, Sanders’s presence in the race, coupled with the impressive crowds he draws at his campaign events, offer the chance for a real debate about substantial issues in the primary campaign, not least of them the hijacking of the economy by the wealthiest Americans, and the struggles of everyday people to make ends meet.

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Praise for NY State Education Department Guidelines to protect against Transgender Discrimination

Originally posted on O-blog-dee-o-blog-da:

TLDEF Applauds New York State Education Department for New Guidance Designed to Protect Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students from Discrimination

Posted by Melanie Nathan, July 21, 2015.

New YorkNew York, NY –The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) commends the New York State Education Department for releasing comprehensive guidance to help ensure that transgender and gender nonconforming students are safe in schools and able to learn in discrimination-free environments. The Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Guidance Document has been sent to all public school districts in the state in an effort to “help districts comply with local, state, and federal laws concerning bullying, harassment, discrimination, and student privacy, and meet schools’ obligation to provide all students with a safe and inclusive environment.”

Statement from TLDEF Staff Attorney Ethan Rice:

“We applaud the New York State Education Department for releasing this important guidance to school districts across the state. The document…

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Historic Traditional Zulu Marriage Ending in Divorce

Originally posted on O-blog-dee-o-blog-da:

Screen Shot 2013-04-07 at 10.04.02 AM

By Melanie Nathan, July 16, 2015.

Back in April 2013, the reporting of a very special wedding story went viral as a young South African same-sex couple from Zulu and Sotho traditions held a traditional wedding ceremony to celebrate their marriage. Now, 2 years later,  it is with sadness that one of the couple is announcing the divorce.

Tshepo Modisane and Thoba Sithole, both 27, at the time of their wedding at in KwaDukuza, Stanger, are divorcing on the grounds of irreconcilable differences.

The importance of all marriage, is that it grants people legal rights and obligations in the relationship and so if a couple divorces, certain rights and obligations can be invoked under the law. With marriage comes a right to divorce and it is also because of these rights that marriage equality is so important.

Divorce zulu marriageIn a statement made public on Modisane’s Facebook page, he requests privacy and…

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The AIDS Institute Announces Launch of New Website for HIV/AIDS & Aging Awareness

National Policy Office – Washington, DC: 202-835-8373

Program and Administrative Office – Tampa, FL: 813-258-5929


Media Contact:  Michelle Scavnicky, (813) 258-5929,


The AIDS Institute Announces Launch of New Website for

HIV/AIDS & Aging Awareness

Washington, DC – The AIDS Institute (TAI) is thrilled to announce the launch of a new website for HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness as planning efforts begin for the 8th annual National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day scheduled for September 18, 2015. TAI encourages individuals and organizations within the HIV community to visit the new website for resources to support HIV prevention, testing, education, linkage and treatment activities for adults over 50 living with or at risk of HIV.


The AIDS Institute will host its National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day (NHAAD) Planning Committee Conference Call on Wednesday, July 22, 2015 at 3:00PM (EDT). The NHAAD Planning Committee will focus its plans to include a comprehensive awareness message for older adults by incorporating hepatitis education, prevention and testing into its existing HIV platform. For more information or to join the national planning committee, please contact Michelle Scavnicky


In addition, a technical assistance webinar entitled “Planning Activities for National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day” is scheduled on Tuesday, August 4, 2015 at 1:00PM (EDT). The webinar will provide technical assistance and planning support for community partners; including community-based organizations, faith-based organizations, HIV prevention providers, health departments, social service organizations, and other health care organizations to engage and participate in specific activities on or around National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day.


“Positive feedback from our annual technical assistance webinar in addition to an increase in newly reported activities and events across the country has shown us that more people are aware of NHAAD”, states Michelle Scavnicky, Director of Education and Capacity Building at The AIDS Institute. “Our goal is to continue to build upon the momentum and increase the number of organizations planning activities or events on or around September 18th”.


Click here to register for the NHAAD technical assistance webinar scheduled for Tuesday, August 4, 2015 at 1:00PM (EDT).


National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day materials and resources are now available. Please visit to access and download HIV and aging-related materials.

The AIDS Institute is a national nonprofit organization that promotes action for social change through research, public policy,  advocacy, and education.

For more information and to become involved, visit or write to us at, and follow The AIDS Institute on Twitter @AIDSAdvocacy and Facebook at

Transgender Professor’s Claim Against University Can Go Forward

Originally posted on O-blog-dee-o-blog-da:

Court OKs Transgender Professor’s Claim Against  Southeastern Oklahoma State University

Posted by Melanie Nathan, July 13, 2015.

Dr Tudor Trans  Univ profThe U.S. Department of Justice brought a complaint against Southeastern Oklahoma State University and another defendant on March 30, 2015. The suit alleged that the University terminated the employment of Dr. Rachel Tudor, an assistant professor, based on her gender, gender identity and gender expression, as well as in retaliation for making complaints of discrimination. Dr. Tudor intervened in the lawsuit by bringing her own complaint on May 5, 2015. She included an additional claim for the hostile work environment to which she was subjected. 

Southeastern and the other defendant, the Regional University System of Oklahoma, asked the Court to dismiss the hostile work environment claim. They argued that transgender people are not entitled to protection from sex discrimination under the federal Civil Rights Act because transgender people are not a protected class…

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