All entries by this author


Oct 21st, 2017 10:59 am | By

A little about hedgerows from The Wildlife Trusts:

Criss-crossing the countryside, hedgerows – long rows of bushes, often with trees rising among them – can be seen dividing up our farmland and landscapes. They may be planted or they may be the remnants of ancient wooded areas, but they are mainly used as barriers to prevent livestock from escaping from the fields or to form boundaries between parishes.

Two thirds of England has been continuously hedged for over a thousand years, so many of our older hedgerows are a window into our past. They can range in date from medieval boundaries to the results of the 19th century Enclosures Act when many of the open fields and commons were divided

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Oct 21st, 2017 10:18 am | By

Trump last week put out a proclamation declaring October 15 through October 21 National Character Counts Week.

The first, tone-setting paragraph:

We celebrate National Character Counts Week because few things are more important than cultivating strong character in all our citizens, especially our young people.  The grit and integrity of our people, visible throughout our history, defines the soul of our Nation.  This week, we reflect on the character of determination, resolve, and honor that makes us proud to be American.

Note the impoverished idea of “character.” Note how militaryesque it is. Note how easily it can be adopted by bullies. Strength, grit, integrity, determination, resolve, and honor. Those are all useful qualities, to be sure, but only used … Read the rest

Insect holocaust

Oct 21st, 2017 9:25 am | By


The abundance of flying insects has plunged by three-quarters over the past 25 years, according to a new study that has shocked scientists.

Make that terrifying. That’s a huge tanking in such a short time.

Insects are an integral part of life on Earth as both pollinators and prey for other wildlife and it was known that some species such as butterflies were declining. But the newly revealed scale of the losses to all insects has prompted warnings that the world is “on course for ecological Armageddon”, with profound impacts on human society.

The new data was gathered in nature reserves across Germany but has implications for all landscapes dominated by agriculture, the researchers said.

And thus for … Read the rest

Say hello to the new goodwill ambassador

Oct 20th, 2017 4:47 pm | By

The World Health Organization has made Mugabe a “goodwill ambassador” to help deal with non-communicable diseases.

The appointment of 93-year-old Robert Mugabe will cause astonishment among many WHO member states and donors.

A goodwill ambassador may be a largely symbolic role, but the symbolism of giving it to a man whose leadership of Zimbabwe has, critics say, coincided with a collapse of its health service, and major human rights abuses, will be very unpopular.

Or to put it more bluntly than the BBC does, Mugabe is a notorious tyrant and human rights abuser, so making him any kind of “good will ambassador” for the WHO is insulting to nearly everyone on the planet.… Read the rest

We’re told not to question the general

Oct 20th, 2017 4:29 pm | By

And then there’s what Sarah Huckabee Sanders said about Wilson’s untruths. The Times piece reported it:

“General Kelly said he was ‘stunned’ that Representative Wilson made comments at a building dedication honoring slain F.B.I. agents about her own actions in Congress, including lobbying former President Obama on legislation,” Ms. Sanders said in a statement. “As General Kelly pointed out, if you’re able to make a sacred act like honoring American heroes about yourself, you’re an empty barrel.”

Ms. Sanders escalated the messaging a few hours later: “As we say in the South: all hat, no cattle,” she said. Ms. Wilson is known in the Capitol and in South Florida for her colorful hats.

Ms. Sanders also told a reporter who

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Which one is the empty barrel?

Oct 20th, 2017 4:03 pm | By

Oh gawd. I was put off by much of John Kelly’s tirade yesterday, and Lawrence O’Donnell on MSNBC was downright angry at the parts that belittled Florida Representative Frederica Wilson. Now we learn that what he said about her was not true. That’s especially ugly because he said it not in passing but lingeringly and with angry emphasis. He said he’d been stunned, stunned at what she said at an event honoring two FBI agents killed on the job. He conveyed fury and disgust…and she hadn’t said it.

Video of a 2015 speech delivered by Representative Frederica S. Wilson revealed Friday that John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, misrepresented her remarks when he accused her of

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Never apologize

Oct 20th, 2017 10:11 am | By

Brendan O’Neill, dismissive as ever.

In Britain a journalist can now have his career destroyed on the basis of one accusation.

So, a journalist is automatically a he? There are no journalists who are she? I could swear there are – I could swear I’ve read journalism by them.

Just like in the GDR. Yes, just as the Stasi and its myriad snitches could dispatch from public life writers and reporters they didn’t like simply by accusing them of something, simply by pointing a bony finger at them and saying, ‘I saw that person do a bad thing’, so in Britain in 2017 journalists can be hounded out of their profession by allegation alone.

Nothing hyperbolic there.

Consider the

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Oct 20th, 2017 9:12 am | By

Of course he did.

Trump personally interviewed 3 people for US attorney jobs…ones that just happened, in a startling coincidence that means nothing at all, to be in districts where Trump has an interest.

Trump has interviewed Geoffrey Berman, who is currently at the law firm Greenberg Traurig for the job of U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Ed McNally of the firm Kasowitz Benson Torres for the Eastern District post, according to the sources.

(One wonders what that can have been like. On the one hand an educated grownup with specialized professional training and experience, on the other hand a guy who can’t utter a coherent sentence and knows nothing about anything – … Read the rest

They require interpretation

Oct 19th, 2017 4:59 pm | By


Also, if god is so great, why couldn’t god have delivered a decent morality then? Why is all this nervous updating necessary? Hmmmmmm?

We know why. Plato (or Socrates, or both) knew why. It’s obvious why.

You can support Author here.… Read the rest

PinkNews Broadcaster of the Year Award

Oct 19th, 2017 12:52 pm | By

A press release from the Quilliam Foundation:

Last night, Maajid Nawaz won the 2017 PinkNews Broadcaster of the Year Award for his LBC radio show. The award was shared with Lorraine Kelly of ITV.

Other nominees in the category included: Coronation Street (ITV), Doctor Who (BBC), Loose Women (ITV), Lorraine (ITV), Orange is the New Black (Netflix), Sense8 (Netflix), Transparent (Amazon Prime), and Victoria Derbyshire (BBC).

The annual PinkNews Awards has become one of the UK’s most significant LGBT+ events, recognising the contributions of politicians, campaigners, charities, businesses, public sector employers, broadcasters and journalists towards achieving LGBT+ equality both in the UK and overseas.

Southern Poverty Law Center PLEASE NOTE.

Also at the event was London Mayor Sadiq Khan

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The “casual cruelty” he sees in public discourse

Oct 19th, 2017 11:29 am | By

Jeb Bush’s brother George gave a talk in New York this morning rebuking the many flaws of Donald Trump without actually saying he was talking about Donald Trump.

It’s funny about George. He’s the pretend folksy guy, and Trump is the real thing. George is from the upper crust, and Trump is from Queens. George fakes a Texas drawl, and Trump is stuck with a Queens snarl. Both grew up rich; both profited from a big boost from their daddies.

Former President George W. Bush never mentioned his name but delivered what sounded like a sustained rebuke to President Trump on Thursday, decrying nationalism, protectionism and the coarsening of public debate while calling for a robust response to Russian interference

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The eroticization of powerlessness

Oct 19th, 2017 10:53 am | By

A bit from Mill’s Subjection of Women, because I was reminded of it by a quotation from Sheila Jeffreys:

Girls learn to love and have sexual feelings in a position of low status, and the eroticization of powerlessness is a normal part of the construction of femininity.

That’s Jeffreys; now Mill.

All causes, social and natural, combine to make it unlikely that women should be collectively rebellious to the power of men. They are so far in a position different from all other subject classes, that their masters require something more from them than actual service. Men do not want solely the obedience of women, they want their sentiments. All men, except the most brutish, desire to have, in

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Officials said the man was proud of what he had done

Oct 19th, 2017 10:07 am | By

There was a protest march against al Shabaab in Mogadishu yesterday.

Thousands of Somalis have demonstrated against those behind the bombing that killed more than 300 people at the weekend, defying police who opened fire to keep them away from the site of the attack.

Wearing red headbands, the crowd of mostly young men and women marched through Mogadishu amid tight security. They answered a call to unity by the mayor, Thabit Abdi, who said: “We must liberate this city, which is awash with graves.”

You know what most of the victims of Islamist violence are? Muslim.

The attack in the heart of Mogadishu on Saturday has been blamed on al-Shabaab, the local violent Islamist group, and was one of

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Base in his motives and cruel in his targets

Oct 19th, 2017 9:53 am | By

Richard Cohen at the Post explains Trump.

Trump does not possess an ounce of compassion. He is reptilian, knowing only to show his fangs, hiss and attack. This is why he mocked a physically disabled reporter for the New York Times, why he derided the heroism of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and why he dismissed the authenticity of the Khans, who had lost their son in Iraq.

This inability to feel the pain of others — even to acknowledge it — is not a minor tick in an otherwise good man. It is the salient characteristic of a sadist, of someone so wrapped up in himself that he has contempt for victims. Trump’s name for them is “losers.” They

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He lied

Oct 18th, 2017 5:24 pm | By

John Nichols at The Nation hints that Jeff Sessions may be less than fully honest.

Jeff Sessions is a liar.

Strongly hints.

As President Trump’s nominee to serve as attorney general of the United States, the veteran senator from Alabama and early supporter of Trump’s presidential bid was asked by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee if he had met with Russian officials during the course of the 2016 campaign. He claimed that he had not—in response to a written question from the senior Democrat on the Committee, Vermont’s Patrick Leahy, and then under questioning from Minnesota Senator Al Franken.

Those were lies.

Well maybe so, but he gets very cross when Al Franken asks him about them.… Read the rest

Sing “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” instead

Oct 18th, 2017 4:49 pm | By

Trump again demonstrates that he has no idea how to value anything.

He thinks singing a patriotic song is what “real pride in our country” is all about. That’s a ridiculous thing to think.

I’m sure it’s an expression of pride for many people – but it has to be freely chosen to be genuinely that, surely. Trump’s bullying about it just turns it into a meaningless exercise at best and a punishment at worst. Anyway it’s not an expression of pride for all of us – for many it’s just an empty ritual, and for some it’s an insult. We’re allowed to think both of those thoughts and we’re allowed to refuse to sing the damn thing, at … Read the rest

No dystopian novels please, we’re woke af

Oct 18th, 2017 11:23 am | By

I didn’t realize the policing of Young Adult fiction was a thing until I read about the Kirkus fubar. It’s a thing.

The Black Witch, a debut young-adult fantasy novel by Laurie Forest, was still seven weeks from its May 1 publication date, but positive buzz was already building, with early reviews calling it “an intoxicating tale of rebellion and star-crossed romance,” “a massive page-turner that leaves readers longing for more,” and “an uncompromising condemnation of prejudice and injustice.”

The hype train was derailed in mid-March, however, by Shauna Sinyard, a bookstore employee and blogger who writes primarily about YA and had a different take: “The Black Witch is the

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Sorrow and value

Oct 18th, 2017 9:57 am | By

At CNN. Chris Cillizza – who did his bit to swing the election by keeping “Her Emails” constantly in the headlines – offers a best-case interpretation of how Trump messed up that phone call.

Don’t get me wrong: he starts with reasons to believe he messed it up badly and is lying about it now.

For those who are taking Trump’s side in all of this — alleging that Wilson is simply trying to score political points against a president the Democratic base hates — it’s important to remember a few things we know about Trump.

1. In the summer of 2016, he engaged in an extended back and forth with Khizr Khan, the father of an American soldier killed

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“I guess it hurts anyway”

Oct 18th, 2017 9:17 am | By

Oh goddddd reading this has made me feel sick. It may seem small in the scheme of things, but just the cold narcissistic callousness behind it is nauseating. Trump’s way of condoling the families of soldiers killed in action: he tells them they signed up for it but he guesses it hurts anyway.

In his call with Sgt. La David T. Johnson’s widow, Myeshia Johnson, Trump told her, “He knew what he was signing up for, but I guess it hurts anyway,” according to the account of Rep. Frederica S. Wilson (D-Fla.), who was riding in a limousine with Johnson when the president called and heard the conversation on speakerphone.

Wilson recalled in an interview with The Washington Post

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That other resistance

Oct 17th, 2017 5:50 pm | By

Yes, North Korea, yes, Iran, yes, Yellowstone and global warming and the toxic gas emanating from the White House – but also antibiotic resistance.

England’s chief medical officer has warned of a “post-antibiotic apocalypse” as she issued a call to action urging global leaders to address the growing threat of antibiotic resistance.

Professor Dame Sally Davies said that if antibiotics lose their effectiveness it will spell “the end of modern medicine”.

Without the drugs used to fight infections, common medical interventions such as caesarean sectionscancer treatments and hip replacements would become incredibly “risky”, she said.

And transplant medicine would be a “thing of the past”, she added.

It will be the way it was before penicillin, when … Read the rest