All entries by this author

Getting away with it

Apr 14th, 2017 10:03 am | By

So they can just say anything, and then say its opposite a few months later, and not be held to account – even when the “anything” in question involves existential threats to the polity and the country.

In his first speech as director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo, the former Republican congressman who once applauded disclosures by WikiLeaks, attacked the group on Thursday as a stateless hostile intelligence unit eager to do the bidding of Russia and other American adversaries.

“WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service,” Mr. Pompeo said. To support his assessment, he cited how the group had encouraged followers to join the C.I.A. and steal

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Known for her steadfast liberal voice

Apr 13th, 2017 6:02 pm | By

The death of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam is desperately sad news.

She called her chambers on Tuesday to say she wasn’t coming in. The next day she was found in the Hudson, with no signs of trauma.

The unexpected death was shocking and saddening and even set off some suspicions among Judge Abdus-Salaam’s friends and colleagues, many of whom said she had given no indication that anyone — including herself — would want to do her harm.

In the hours after her body was found, the police said they were treating her death as a suicide. The judge, 65, had recently told friends and a doctor that she was suffering from stress. And tragedy had followed her closely: On Easter

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Offensive content

Apr 13th, 2017 5:24 pm | By

God the BBC can be infuriating. In its reporting on the murder by torture of Mashal Khan for instance.

A university student in Pakistan accused of blasphemy against Islam has been killed by a mob of fellow students on campus, police say.

Many students have been arrested after the brutal attack in the northern city of Mardan, and the campus has been closed.

Reports suggest that two young men were accused of posting offensive content on Facebook. One survived with injuries.

It’s not for the BBC to call the content of Khan’s posts “offensive.” It’s not for the BBC to agree with the idea that skepticism or mockery of religion is “offensive” – especially not hours after someone was violently … Read the rest



260,000 people could be disenfranchised

Apr 13th, 2017 4:07 pm | By

Ari Berman in The Nation:

My grandmother Sylvia moved from Brooklyn to Iowa when she was 89 years old. It was a culture shock, to say the least. When my mom took her to vote, she complained of the candidates, “There isn’t anybody who’s Jewish!”

I thought of my grandmother, who passed away in 2005 at 99, when the Iowa Legislature passed a strict voter-ID law today. She didn’t have a driver’s license because she never drove (she’d frequently walk two miles from her apartment to the grocery store). Her passport expired long ago. She never had a US birth certificate because she was born in Poland and fled the Holocaust. She used her Medicare card as identification.

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Beaten with planks until his skull caved in

Apr 13th, 2017 12:21 pm | By

And in Pakistan:

A mob beat a Pakistani student to death at his university campus on Thursday after he was accused of sharing blasphemous content on social media, university and police officials said.

A group of about 10 students shouted “Allahu Akbar” during the attack on fellow student Mashal Khan, who was stripped naked and beaten with planks until his skull caved in as other students looked on, video obtained by Reuters showed.

If god is so great why does it need humans killing other humans for not groveling to it enough? If god is so great why can’t it just let us come to our own conclusions?

In recent months, Pakistan’s government has been vocal about the issue,

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Biggest ever

Apr 13th, 2017 11:50 am | By

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan

The US military has dropped the biggest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat on an Islamic State group tunnel complex in Afghanistan, the Pentagon says.

The GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB), known as “the mother of all bombs”, was first tested in 2003, but had not been used before.

The Pentagon said it was dropped from a US aircraft in Nangarhar province.

The news came hours after the Pentagon admitted an air strike in Syria mistakenly killed 18 rebels.

The 21,600lb (9,800kg) bomb was dropped in Achin district on Thursday evening local time, the Pentagon said. It is more than 9m (30 feet) in length.

“We targeted a system of tunnels and caves

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Such friendly skies

Apr 13th, 2017 11:22 am | By

It was obvious that David Dao – the guy violently thrown off that United flight because United wanted to give his seat to one of their employees – might have a concussion. His lawyer confirms that he does have a concussion. But a concussion is not all.

David Dao, a 69-year-old Vietnamese-American doctor, was hospitalized after Chicago aviation police dragged him from the plane as the airline sought to make space on a flight from the city’s O’Hare International Airport to Louisville, Kentucky.

Demetrio said the law stated that passengers could not be ejected from planes with unreasonable force. Chicago runs the airport and the city’s department of aviation employs the three officers who dragged Dao off the plane.

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Guest post: Reading Whipping Girl

Apr 13th, 2017 11:00 am | By

Guest post by Lady Mondegreen.

I recently read Julia Serano’s Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, a book beloved of trans activists, and Ophelia has invited me to share some of my thoughts here. Whipping Girl, first published in 2007, is a popular and influential book that exemplifies trans ideology, at least where that ideology intersects with feminism, and so it matters to the debate between trans ideologues and gender-critical feminists.

For now I’m going to skip ahead of Serano’s introduction and her Manifesto. Serano’s book is largely about gender; to engage Serano’s ideas about gender we need to know how she defines it, right?

Here is Serano’s definition of the word … Read the rest



The exact opposite of what higher education is supposed to do

Apr 13th, 2017 10:35 am | By

Terry Gross did an interview about for-profit colleges a couple of weeks ago that I kept meaning to blog if only Trump would shut up for one second. Her guest was Tressie McMillan Cottom, who has written a book about them called Lower Ed.

She worked as an enrollment officer for two for-profits at opposite ends of the spectrum – a cosmetology career school and a large college that offered associate’s, bachelor’s and graduate degrees. She left after fearing that instead of helping the students she recruited to improve their financial future, she was leaving them with large student loan debt they’d never earn enough to repay.

When she left the for-profit college sector, she returned to college, completed her

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Student debt has crippled a generation

Apr 13th, 2017 9:44 am | By

I saw this tweet from Elizabeth Warren

so I went to the Google to find news coverage. The Times has an editorial.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is inexplicably backing away from rules that are meant to prevent federal student loan borrowers from being fleeced by companies the government pays to collect the loans and to guide people through the repayment process.

On Tuesday, she withdrew a sound Obama administration policy that required the Education Department to take into account the past conduct of loan servicing companies before awarding them lucrative

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Return of the thought leaders

Apr 12th, 2017 6:14 pm | By

Eric Alterman in The Nation on “thought leaders” via a new book by Daniel Drezner. He says Drezner doesn’t pay enough attention to the power of money to corrupt and control literally everything with which it comes into contact—most particularly intellectual culture.”

Drezner by no means ignores the issue. Early on, he makes a crucial distinction between old-fashioned “public intellectuals” and the now-trendy “thought leaders.” The latter model is one that sells itself less to an identifiable “public”—something that has become increasingly difficult to define in a society continually segmenting itself according to ever-more-narrow criteria—than to plutocratic patrons…

Today, our most famous purveyors of ideas sell themselves to the wealthy much like the courtiers of the Middle Ages.

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Now Hungary leads the nationalist populist march away from freedom

Apr 12th, 2017 5:46 pm | By

Timothy Garton Ash knew the young Orbán.

As I saw on a recent visit to Budapest, the country no longer has the pluralistic media you need for liberal democracy, while the independence of the judiciary has been eroded, as it has more recently in Poland. Even as Orbán tries to take down the Central European University (CEU), founded by George Soros, he is also preparing a squeeze on all NGOs, and proposing to pack refugees and their families into containers, in violation of international humanitarian law.

I write as someone who stood on Heroes Square in Budapest in June 1989 and watched with admiration as the then little-known 26-year-old Orbán electrified the crowd with a call for Russian

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Dispatches from Budapest

Apr 12th, 2017 5:21 pm | By

There was a massive demonstration in Budapest today.

Tens of thousands of protesters demonstrated Wednesday in the Hungarian capital to oppose government policies that are seen as limiting academic freedom and intimidating civic groups.

After the rally officially ended at Heroes Square, a Budapest landmark, some protesters faced off with police officers blocking access to the nearby headquarters of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party. There were small scuffles when some pushed up against police lines.

By nightfall, thousands of protesters were at Parliament, chanting anti-government slogans.

The Guardian has more:

A Hungarian law that threatens a leading university with closure is being investigated by the EU executive, as fears grow that Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orbán, is

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A witness

Apr 12th, 2017 4:52 pm | By

A letter from someone who was aboard United flight 3411 when it all went wrong:

Unfortunately, I was aboard United Airlines flight 3411 from Chicago to Louisville, Ky., on Sunday. Even more unfortunate was the fact that I was returning from a spring break trip with seven of my students from Louisville Male High School who also witnessed the unconscionable treatment of the passenger.

The disgusting mishandling of the situation included everyone from the rude ticket agent who demanded that this man give up his seat on the flight United overbooked, to one of the officers laughing in the midst of the incident, to the violent, abusive way the passenger was dragged off the plane by the officer. It was

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The attack on expertise

Apr 12th, 2017 4:09 pm | By

How ludicrous it is that what Adam Frank says needs to be said:

The attack on expertise was given its most visceral form by British politician Michael Gove during the Brexit campaign last year when he famously claimed, “people in this country have had enough of experts.” The same kinds of issues, however, are also at stake here in the U.S. in our discussions about “alternative facts,” “fake news” and “denial” of various kinds. That issue can be put as a simple question: When does one opinion count more than another?

By definition, an expert is someone whose learning and experience lets them understand a subject deeper than you or I do (assuming we’re not an expert in

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Don’t get your hopes up

Apr 12th, 2017 12:03 pm | By

The news outlets are excited that Bannon may be on his way out. I can’t get all that excited about it, myself – he’s loathsome and he doesn’t belong there times a billion, but it’s not as if his departure will make anything better. It’s all too clear that nothing will make anything better, because Trump is Trump and isn’t going to morph into a reasonable adult devoted to the general welfare.

But anyway, Bannon may be on the We Don’t Like Him Any More list.

In an interview with the New York Post’s Michael Goodwin, Trump seems to push away Bannon.

“I like Steve, but you have to remember, he was not involved in my campaign until

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A Ritual of Exile

Apr 12th, 2017 11:26 am | By

National Geographic reports on the work of photographer Poulomi Basu.

“As I grew up, I realized how customs and traditions are used as forces to bring women to subservience and control them,” and this includes the use of color, she says.

With her series, “A Ritual of Exile,” Basu studies red as related to the blood of menstruation. Her long-term goal is to help end the entrenched Hindu practice of Chaupadi, which pushes menstruating women into isolation and into a normalized cycle of violence perpetuated by custom, tradition, and religion.

It’s interesting how often “custom, tradition, and religion” are all about subordinating women and girls. It’s interesting what a central goal that is.

Photographed in neighboring Nepal, the

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Chocolate cake diplomacy

Apr 12th, 2017 10:13 am | By

Jenna Johnson at the Post shows how completely random Trump’s thinking is and how frivolously he expresses it in an interview on Fox Business Network this morning.

Soon after the strike, Trump delivered a statement Thursday night from his private club in Palm Beach, Fla., saying that he was moved to act after reports that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used chemical weapons to kill “helpless men, women and children,” including “beautiful babies.” After delivering those scripted remarks, the president retreated from public discussion of the attack, while his aides tried to explain how this strike fits with Trump’s “America First” doctrine and campaign pledge not to get involved with conflicts in other countries.

It doesn’t, of course. Either he didn’t … Read the rest



Mood swing

Apr 11th, 2017 4:56 pm | By

Belatedly, and therefore unconvincingly, Oscar Munoz issued a statement saying he feels just terrible about the whole thing. If that’s true why didn’t he mention it yesterday?

The truly horrific event that occurred on this flight has elicited many responses from all of us: outrage, anger, disappointment. I share all of those sentiments, and one above all: my deepest apologies for what happened. Like you, I continue to be disturbed by what happened on this flight and I deeply apologize to the customer forcibly removed and to all the customers aboard. No one should ever be mistreated this way.

Very true, so why didn’t you say so yesterday? Sir. Why did you say yesterday that the passenger who was beaten … Read the rest



Hitler did not sink to that level…

Apr 11th, 2017 4:40 pm | By

Jeez, you turn your attention away for a few hours and look what happens.

Spicer happens.

In criticizing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday that even Adolf Hitler did not sink to that level of warfare, despite Hitler’s use of gas chambers to kill millions of Jews.

When given the chance to clarify his comment — uttered during Passover, the most celebrated Jewish holiday in the United States — Spicer then said Hitler took Jews “into the Holocaust center” but that Hitler “was not using the gas on his own people in the same way that Assad is doing.”

So I guess he doesn’t know that Zyklon B … Read the rest