All entries by this author

An inherently exploitative dimension

Apr 8th, 2016 2:29 pm | By

The Guardian has a surprise:

This week, the French national assembly finally ended two years of wrangling and became the fifth European legislature to introduce a ban on buying sex. It is following the example set by Sweden in the late 1990s, and then by Norway and Iceland. In the UK, the Northern Ireland assembly banned it in June last year.

Many sex workers, admittedly, don’t want their clients criminalised. In France, backed by a commission of the senate, they vehemently protested that it would make their work more, rather than less, dangerous: it would reduce the number of punters, they say, and leave them facing greater competition, the more vulnerable because they would have less

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Does money make any difference?

Apr 8th, 2016 11:36 am | By

Naomi Klein also wrote about Clinton and corporate bribes, in the Nation the other day. I don’t read Naomi Klein much, because I think she tends to be simplistic, but she said some good things there.

The very suggestion that taking this money could impact Clinton’s actions is “baseless and should stop,” according to California Senator Barbara Boxer. It’s “flat-out false,” “inappropriate,” and doesn’t “hold water,” declared New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman went so far as to issue “guidelines for good and bad behavior” for the Sanders camp. The first guideline? Cut out the “innuendo suggesting, without evidence, that Clinton is corrupt.”

That’s one of the many harmful side-effects of the way … Read the rest

153 million

Apr 8th, 2016 9:43 am | By

I heard someone say on NPR the other day that the two Clintons have collected $150 million in speaking fees since he left office. My jaw dropped. I knew they’d both been pocketing huge fees, of course, but I didn’t know it added up to 150 MILLION.

CNN did the accounting a couple of months ago.

Hillary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, combined to earn more than $153 million in paid speeches from 2001 until Hillary Clinton launched her presidential campaign last spring, a CNN analysis shows.

In total, the two gave 729 speeches from February 2001 until May, receiving an average payday of $210,795 for each address. The two also reported at least $7.7 million for

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A mentality that puts male desires above women’s human rights

Apr 7th, 2016 5:29 pm | By

Meghan Murphy tells us:

On April 6, 2016, the French National Assembly recognized prostitution as a form of violence against women, voting to criminalize the purchase of sex in France. Under the new law, prostituted people will be decriminalized and men who are caught buying sex will be subject to fines.

In a press release, Ressources Prostitution points out that adopting this law ensures France is in compliance with international and national human rights commitments, including the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others (1949) and France’s national rape law, which defines rape as “any act of penetration imposed on someone by violence, surprise, threat, or

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You can report rape, but it’s already a form of rape

Apr 7th, 2016 5:10 pm | By

Former prostitutes who don’t view sex work as just another job.

AT RHIANNON’S* lowest point, she agreed to sex for money with a man who found her drunk, high on prescription drugs and crying on the street outside the strip club where she worked.

Back at his home, she cut her wrists in his bathroom and stuck toilet paper on them.

“The man felt it was worth paying a hundred dollars to have sex with a woman who had a tearstained face and bleeding wrists,” she said.

“I insisted on clutching the cash while he used me.”

She asked him to call her an ambulance and he shrugged, so she left and called one herself. She planned to jump … Read the rest

Grinding the faces of the poor

Apr 7th, 2016 1:27 pm | By

Fresh Air yesterday:

The North Carolina state legislature sparked a national controversy recently when it acted to overturn a law passed by the City Council in Charlotte, N.C. that banned discrimination against LGBTQ people. Our guest, Lisa Graves, says this move by the North Carolina Legislature is part of an increasingly common pattern in which towns and cities pass laws ranging from bans on fracking to increasing the minimum wage only to have their state legislature pass a law that overrules the local ordinance.

No minimum wage for you, city slickers! Your state knows best.

Lisa Graves is executive director of the Center for Media and Democracy. The center has been tracking this new trend of preemption laws on

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He didn’t worry about whether you were with him or not

Apr 7th, 2016 10:45 am | By

The NY Times on the murder of Nazimuddin Samad:

Mr. Uddin, 26, was a convinced atheist who frequently expressed his views on Facebook, often posting as many as five times a day. His family had asked him to stop, fearful that the posts would make him a target, and for about four months, ending in January, he had complied, said Gulam Rabbi Chowdhury, a childhood friend.

“To tell the truth, he was always a little detached from his family; he had trouble with them because of his views on religion,” Mr. Chowdhury said. “He was very outspoken. He didn’t worry about whether you were with him or not.”

Mr. Uddin’s killing deepens the sense of dread among those campaigning

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Threat season has begun

Apr 7th, 2016 9:52 am | By

The LA Times reports on threats made by supporters of Cliven Bundy and the Bundy gang.

In email, phone messages and Facebook posts, supporters have threatened retaliation for the mass arrests and the death of Robert “LaVoy” Finicum, 55, an Arizona rancher and spokesman for the Oregon refuge occupiers who was gunned down by state troopers during a roadside confrontation.

The messages target law enforcement officers and government officials, including Oregon’s governor, according to a sampling of threats released last week by the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office. Investigators gathered more than 80 threats as part of the office’s investigation into the Finicum shooting in neighboring Harney County.

“We’re going to shoot to kill,” said an anonymous caller to Gov.

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The cis-privilege of cats

Apr 7th, 2016 8:56 am | By

Look at all the good she does. (The Washington Post files this story under Inspired Life.)

My new cats were freaking out. In carriers in the back seat of the car, they yowled their displeasure. I reassured them: “Don’t worry boys, we’ll be home soon.”

Whoops! I had called them boys, when in fact they were girls. An understandable mistake, as I’ve had cats for about 50 years, and all of them have been male. “I’m going to have to work on using the right pronouns,” I thought. And then another thought: “Why? They’re cats.”

Yo – “boys” is not a pronoun, and neither is “girls.”

That’s when I decided to raise my cats to be gender neutral.


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Apr 6th, 2016 4:41 pm | By

A fun event (too bad we missed it) –

Debate topic

“Do Muslim Women Need Feminism”?

Photo of a man: Muhammad Kashmiri

Photo of a man: Assadullah Al-Andalusi


Thanks chaps.… Read the rest

They sang the usual Allahu Akbar song

Apr 6th, 2016 3:48 pm | By

The Dhaka Tribune on the murder of Nazimuddin Samad:

A masters student of Jagannath University was killed by suspected Islamist militants in Old Dhaka’s Sutrapur area last night.

Nazimuddin Samad, 28, was a student of the law department’s evening batch.

He was attacked at Ekrampur intersection around 8:30pm by three assailants while walking to his home in Gendaria with another youth after completing classes at the university near Bahadur Shah Park.

The other guy is missing.

His friends said that Nazim used to campaign for secularism on Facebook and was critical of radical Islamists. A day before the murder, he expressed concerns over the country’s law and order in a Facebook post.

Police said that the killers who came

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His logic terrifies

Apr 6th, 2016 3:33 pm | By

So we need some more blasphemy. MORE BLASPHEMY I say. Jesus and Mo oblige.

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Najimuddin Samad

Apr 6th, 2016 3:25 pm | By

CFI reports there is a new horror:

The Center for Inquiry is saddened and outraged to learn that a university student in Bangladesh has been killed in an attack by suspected Islamic extremists. Najimuddin Samad, a 28-year-old law student at Jagannath University, was hacked to death and shot by several assailants as he was returning home from classes last night. CFI, which has been working to rescue secularists in Bangladesh who have been targeted for killing, demanded that the Bangladeshi government take affirmative steps to protect its people and their right to criticize Islam.

It has been reported that the killers chanted “Allahu Akbar” as they hacked Samad with machetes. CFI can confirm that Samad was an atheist, as

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The eyes

Apr 6th, 2016 11:40 am | By

It’s great that all the silly old stereotypes have faded away.

Just kidding.

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Spirit truffles contain spirit dust

Apr 6th, 2016 11:28 am | By

Good grief – doesn’t Gwyneth Paltrow have any friends capable of convincing her that she doesn’t know enough to be giving out medical advice? That there really are compelling reasons for not telling the world what to put in or on or up its poor vulnerable body unless one has the relevant knowledge? Which she doesn’t?

Dean Burnett at the Guardian tells us about her dangerous hobby.

For someone of even the slightest scientific inclination, Goop is a veritable cornucopia of What-The-Fuck? There’s “spirit truffles”, which contain “spirit dust” which apparently “feeds harmony and extrasensory perception through pineal gland de-calcification and activation”. In fairness to Goop, those are definitely all real words. They’ve got us

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They prefer to hound fellow activists

Apr 5th, 2016 6:02 pm | By

Peter Tatchell has some sharp words for the purity-enforcing virtue-signaling pseudo-leftists who spend all their time and energy attacking other leftists for making an unauthorized departure from the Dogma Express. Mind you, Tatchell has done some of that himself, even recently, even very recently – distancing himself from Julie Bindel and Germaine Greer, for instance. Nevertheless his counterblast is refreshing.

The future of progressive politics is under threat, again. But this time from the left. Historically, socialists and greens have made gains by building broad alliances around a common goal, such as the campaigns against the poll tax and the bombing of Syria. We united together diverse people who often disagreed on other issues. Through this unity and solidarity, we

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Guest post: The Abortion Act was considered “religiously sensitive”

Apr 5th, 2016 4:49 pm | By

Originally a comment by Bernard Hurley on Too bad for her she lived in Belfast.

While the influence of the Catholic Church needs to be taken into account the situation in Northern Ireland is far more complex than than you suggest. NI is a sort of dual-theocracy. Members of the NI parliament who wish to be part of government must declare themselves to be either Nationalist or Unionist – in practice code for Catholic or Protestant – and the NI cabinet balanced to make it contain equal numbers of each. The NI parliament is about 52% Unionist (Protestant), 40% Nationalist (Catholic) with the other 8% undeclared. But it gets a bit confusing because, for instance, the Progressive Unionist Party … Read the rest

If women aren’t people to you

Apr 5th, 2016 3:10 pm | By

Dr Jen Gunter on Ted Cruz on Fox News:

When asked about abortion, given Trump’s recent flip flops (I think he’s had six or is that seven positions this week?), Ted Cruz said “the people” should decide. And that Roe is so terrible because it took abortion “out of the control of the people”

Not the women people, the other people.

And women should carry their rapists baby to term.

His plan, which he somehow feels is very moderate and filled with empathy, appears to be get rid of Roe and then let the voters decide state by state. Women and doctors? Silly, they don’t know anything.

If the majority decides women shouldn’t be able to decide … Read the rest

Going up

Apr 5th, 2016 2:52 pm | By

A NASA photo of a space shuttle leaving earth’s atmosphere:

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Men complain based on religious beliefs, and women are forced to move

Apr 5th, 2016 11:55 am | By

Nick Little – director of legal affairs and VP at CFI – casts a cold eye on this business of airlines making women change their seats when men afflicted with religious misogyny refuse to sit next to women. He starts with Renee Rabinowitz, and then proceeds to the general.

This isn’t an isolated event. This scene is being played out repeatedly at multiple airports, and on multiple airlines. Men complain based on religious beliefs, and women are forced to move. When men are denied this “accommodation” they have protested, stood in the aisles, and refused to allow the plane to take off. So the airlines have kowtowed to their demands, and the men have gotten their way. The offending and

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