All entries by this author

After the flood

Jan 8th, 2016 11:16 am | By

The Book Case in Hebden Bridge has news.

As most people reading this will know, The Book Case in Hebden Bridge was destroyed by the major flooding in the Calder Valley on Boxing Day. Despite flood resilience measures taken after the last flood in 2012 we were completely wiped out as the water came through at over 5ft, nearly 2ft over the highest we had planned for. Like nearly all businesses in the town we were uninsurable against flooding.

We have just had the fantastic news that we will be receiving a £5000 grant from the James Patterson fund. Our enormous thanks to Meryl Halls at the Booksellers Association for organising this for us, and to the grant fund

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Snowy Owl in snowy landscape

Jan 7th, 2016 5:52 pm | By

Have a Snowy Owl, courtesy of the Quebec Minister of Transportation Robert Poëti. The photographer was a traffic camera.

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In praise of blasphemy

Jan 7th, 2016 5:31 pm | By

Caroline Fourest on Charlie Hebdo.

She worked there from 2004 to 2009 – five particularly intense and fascinating years, she says.

The first time I met its audacious, fabled editorial team was as a young journalist, in 1997. Beloved by the radical left, Charlie is the last French paper to maintain a long tradition of trenchant caricatures of the religious, the sacred and the powerful, and to openly mock all forms of fanaticism. Its greatest covers, for many years, were devoted to poking fun at the Pope and the Catholic Church’s antiquated positions on abortion, sexuality and women’s rights.

But fewer people know that Charlie has always been the rallying paper of the anti-racist French left. Its legendary cartoonists

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The truth about Charlie

Jan 7th, 2016 12:33 pm | By

At Open Democracy: Karima Bennoune on the truth about Charlie.

Two French Islamist gunmen of Algerian descent entered a newspaper office in Paris a year ago today and gunned down a generation of Europe’s greatest political cartoonists – many from an anarchist, anti-racist tradition  – along with their co-workers and those protecting them, who also included people of Algerian descent.  In case anyone is confused about the politics of this – it was a far right attack on the left.

So many people are so very confused about the politics of this. So many are convinced it was an anti-racist attack on racists.

At first the world reacted with justified horror and a solidarity which is not always

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They all remain Charlie

Jan 7th, 2016 12:03 pm | By


Sie alle bleiben Charlie:

There’s Salman Rushdie in the last frame. On Instagram:

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The word “gender” is not just a fancy word for your personality

Jan 7th, 2016 11:12 am | By

Another visit to Rebecca Reilly-Cooper’s post on “Gender is not a binary, it’s a spectrum” because there are so many lines I long to quote I can’t leave it at just one.

If you identify as pangender, is the claim that you represent every possible point on that spectrum? All at the same time? How might that be possible, since the extremes represent opposites of one another? Pure femininity is passivity, weakness and submission, while pure masculinity is aggression, strength and dominance. It is simply impossible to be all of these things at the same time. (If you don’t agree with me – if you’re angry right now about my “femmephobia”, because I’ve defined femininity as weakness and submission –

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An unprecedented amount of opposition

Jan 6th, 2016 4:07 pm | By

Think Progress on the Supreme Court abortion case.

A looming Supreme Court case that could severely undermine the right to an abortion has attracted an unprecedented amount of opposition from across the country.

A slew of organizations and individuals filed 45 legal briefs in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, each brief examining the case through a unique lens and each coming to the same conclusion: State laws that restrict abortion access are unconstitutional.

The case will examine the validity of a Texas law, known as HB2, that places burdensome, unnecessary guidelines on the state’s dwindling abortion clinics. These regulations, while framed as improvements to safeguard “women’s health,” ultimately have nothing to do with patient safety — and were instead

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The inimitable dolce vita of the Arab world

Jan 6th, 2016 3:09 pm | By

For the hip trendy fashion-forward woman forced to wear a black tent from head to foot – Dolce and Gabbana has the latest thing!

Exclusive: The Dolce & Gabbana Abaya Collection Debut

Mind you – in actual Saudi Arabia as opposed to whatever fantasy version Dolce and Gabbana is working with, those shoes would get that woman arrested if she didn’t get beaten to death first. Also? Her bare face would too. But no matter, because at least the black shroud is pretty.

Storied Italian House Dolce & Gabbana has launched its very first abaya collection and makes its global reveal here on For the most part, the collection comes in neutral hues—luxe black and sandy beige—while

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Your reading for today

Jan 6th, 2016 12:14 pm | By

I suggest you drop everything and read Rebecca Reilly-Cooper’s latest: “GENDER IS NOT A BINARY, IT’S A SPECTRUM”: SOME PROBLEMS.

Fans of gender identity think that gender is not a system of arbitrary rules imposed on all of us but “an internal, essential facet of our identity” that is much bigger and richer than any stinkin’ binary.

That idea is full of holes, and politically it’s a disaster.

First, if gender is a spectrum, then we’re all non-binary.

I would be happy with this implication, because despite knowing that I am female and calling myself a woman, I do not consider myself a one-dimensional gender stereotype. I am not some ideal manifestation of femininity, and so I am non-binary,

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For all of us, continue to create, to draw freedom

Jan 6th, 2016 11:41 am | By

The (staid, mainstream, conformist) New York Times has less hostile coverage of Charlie Hebdo than the putative “lefty” Guardian.

A special issue of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo went on sale in France on Wednesday, amid a week of official commemorations and other events paying tribute to the 17 people who were killed one year ago in attacks last January at the newspaper’s office and other locations in the Paris area.

The commemorations have been accompanied by a flurry of book releases and new documentaries on the subject, as well as a resurgence of questions about whether French intelligence and police services failed to adequately assess security threats against the newspaper, which had been under police protection.

The newspaper has

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L’assassin court toujours

Jan 6th, 2016 11:18 am | By

The new Charlie Hebdo is on the stands, the anniversary edition. The slaughter was a year ago, January 7 2015.

The murderer is still on the run.

The Guardian reports on this by letting us know what the Vatican thinks of it – as if we’re all somehow obliged to pay attention to what the Vatican thinks of our struggles to break free of its tyrannical murderous god.

The Vatican’s newspaper on Tuesday criticised French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo for a front cover portraying God as a gun-wielding terrorist to mark the first anniversary of a terrorist attack on the publication’s offices in which 12 people died.

A million copies of the special edition hit France’s newsstands on Wednesday with

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The tensions simmering

Jan 5th, 2016 5:01 pm | By

The New York Times story on the Köln (Cologne) mess is deeply depressing.

The tensions simmering beneath Germany’s willingness to take in one million migrants blew into the open on Tuesday after reports that scores of young women in Cologne had been groped and robbed on New Year’s Eve by gangs of men described by the authorities as having “a North African or Arabic” appearance.

The German authorities expressed outrage at the attacks and called them unprecedented in scale and nature, saying hundreds of young men appeared to have participated.

It was not clear that any of the men involved were recent arrivals to Germany over the last year from conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Africa and elsewhere. But

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Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole

Jan 5th, 2016 4:17 pm | By

CFI has filed an amicus brief in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, the Texas abortion restrictions case.

Steven Pinker, Eugenie Scott, Lawrence Krauss, Richard Dawkins, and more than 40 other eminent scientists and public intellectuals are backing the Center for Inquiry in a brief to the Supreme Court criticizing the state of Texas’s onerous restrictions on abortion providers. CFI’s brief argues that the alleged expert, scientific testimony used to justify the restrictions is flawed pseudoscience and the Court cannot constitutionally rely on it.

In Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, plaintiffs argue that restrictions on abortion providers passed in Texas in 2013 impose an undue burden on women’s constitutionally protected right to end a pregnancy. Since only a few

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Female privilege

Jan 5th, 2016 12:44 pm | By

Oh great, now street harassment of women is being organized.

The mayor of Cologne has summoned police for crisis talks after about 80 women reported sexual assaults and muggings by men on New Year’s Eve.

The scale of the attacks on women at the city’s central railway station has shocked Germany. About 1,000 drunk and aggressive young men were involved.

At least one woman was raped.

What is particularly disturbing is that the attacks appear to have been organised. Around 1,000 young men arrived in large groups, seemingly with the specific intention of carrying out attacks on women.

Police in Hamburg are now reporting similar incidents on New Year’s Eve in the party area of St Pauli. One politician

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“Are you looking for this?”

Jan 5th, 2016 12:10 pm | By

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Cricketer Chris Gayle, already facing a barrage of criticism over inappropriate remarks to a female television reporter, allegedly indecently exposed himself to a woman during a Sydney training session at last year’s World Cup.

The Australian woman, who was working around the West Indies team in Sydney, has detailed the incident to Fairfax Media. In the course of her work she entered the team dressing room to get a sandwich as she hadn’t eaten all day, thinking the players were on the field training.

Instead, she found Gayle in the room with one other player. Gayle was wrapped in a towel, which she says he pulled down to partially expose his genitals to her

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What color is the plate?

Jan 5th, 2016 11:36 am | By

Brace yourself. This one is really horrifying.

Jodhpur: In a shocking incident, a lower caste Dalit student of a government school was beaten up by his teacher till he started vomiting for touching plates being reserved for the upper caste.

According to media reports, the episode happened on October 1, a day before Gandhi Jayanti in Government Higher Secondary School in Osian town of Jodhpur, when a seven-year-old picked up a green coloured plate (reserved for the upper caste) where mid-day meal was being served.

“I picked up a plate reserved for upper caste students mistakenly and started having the rice on it. When the teacher saw this, he started hitting me badly on my head. I started vomiting,”

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From 202 to 276 since 2014

Jan 5th, 2016 10:56 am | By

Talking Points Memo addresses this whole “why did the Feds let Cliven Bundy get away with it?” question.

The situation presents a complicated challenge for authorities seeking to end the standoff peacefully but armed militia members itching for a confrontation. But some observers caution that once it is settled — however it is ultimately resolved — those involved must face consequences, unlike Bundy himself, who was never sanctioned for his armed showdown with the government and still owes some $1 million in disputed public grazing fees that triggered the initial incident.

“These folks are militant extremists and they need to be treated as such,” Jessica Goad — advocacy director at the Center for Western Priorities, a conservation group which

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“They’re starting to wear the trans uniform”

Jan 5th, 2016 10:12 am | By

Katie Glover writes in the Independent that men mustn’t be allowed to wear “women’s clothes” because that’s a “danger for trans women.”

She starts with the fact that 17-year-old Jaden Smith, son of American actor Will Smith, is going to be “the face of” Louis Vuitton clothes, specifically, women’s clothes.

Jaden seems to be up for this gender-neutral, equal clothing rights thing which allows men to wear women’s clothes without any fear of ridicule.  But there is another, more important issue afoot.

There’s a reason why men wear men’s clothes and women wear women’s clothes, and why they are generally so different.  OK, I know women have been wearing trousers for decades but they’re usually a femme version of the

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Jan 4th, 2016 4:52 pm | By

Yes, people in other countries are startled to learn we have no federally mandated paid maternity leave. I just heard from a startled person on Twitter. Employers are free to provide it, but they’re also free not to.

NPR did a piece on the subject last July.

If you’ve been paying attention to the political news in the past couple of years, you know that the U.S. stands virtually alone in not mandating paid leave of any type for its workers.

It’s because we love freedom. We love the freedom of employers not to provide it, and we love the freedom of workers to be screwed over.

President Obama likewise brought new attention to paid leave this year as

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An inspiration

Jan 4th, 2016 4:34 pm | By

Gulalai Ismail:

I had a wonderful start of the year, got to spend 1st of this year with amazing Hadiqa Bashir; a young activist from Swat who is fighting against child marriages in Swat, and she is just 14 years herself. She is very committed to the cause, and is an inspiration.

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