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Guest post: Reply to Consumers Union

Nov 5th, 2015 12:11 pm | By

Guest post by Josh Spokes. An email from Consumers Union to members, and his reply.

Policy and Action from Consumer Reports

If you want the right to know, speak out now.

Monsanto is telling Senators you don’t need to know about GMOs in your food. We think you have the right to make up your own mind! Tell your Senators to support GMO labeling.

Take action

Dear Joshua,

If you want the right to know what’s in your food, now is the time to speak out. If you wait, you may forever be kept in the dark.

As you read this, Senators are writing a bill that could determine the fate of GMO food labeling. They will decide whether you … Read the rest

After igniting a backlash

Nov 5th, 2015 10:30 am | By

Journalism again treating violent unreasonable reactions to other people’s reasonable actions as “provoked” or “sparked” or “ignited” by the people who did nothing wrong. Charlie Hebdo “sparked” the violence that left nine of them dead; Lars Vilks “set off” outrage; Raif Badawi “triggered” his own ferocious punishment.

This one is the New York Times:

An actress from Iran has gone on the run after igniting a backlash by posting photos of herself on social media showing her not wearing a hijab…

Seriously: journalists need to be more careful with the way they write these stories. She didn’t “ignite” anything.

Sadaf Taherian began posting the controversial photos on Facebook and Instagram over the last two weeks and the response

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Insulting the holy cow

Nov 5th, 2015 8:56 am | By

In India: another Muslim killed by a mob because they thought or pretended to think he had been rude to a cow.

[A] Muslim man was beaten to death on Monday by a mob of Hindus who suspected him of stealing a cow, a revered symbol in the Hindu religion. It was the fourth time in six weeks that Hindus had killed Muslims they suspected of slaughtering, stealing or smuggling cows.

This isn’t animal rights; don’t be confused about that. This is about pretending one particular species is “sacred.”

The recent killings are occurring against a backdrop of intensifying political conflict over laws and policies aimed at protecting cows from slaughter and consumption. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya

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Once queer meant that one could get outside of one’s own identity

Nov 4th, 2015 5:14 pm | By

Suzanne Moore says remember who brung ya.

Everyone now is bisexual, pansexual, agender (without a gender). It’s all so wild. Miley, Cara, various models. Young people are coming out of the closet into a hall of mirrors. For this “coming out” often says my insides feel different to my outsides. Hear me roar. Welcome to the world, friends, for who does not feel like that?

Exactly. This isn’t some hot new thing, it’s just how people are. Granted it is more talked about now, but that doesn’t mean it’s a new invention.

Now that there is a new set of identities for people to pick’n’mix, it would be gracious not to erase those who lived and died with more

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Self-abnegation gets you negated

Nov 4th, 2015 3:49 pm | By

I saw a very bizarre remark – by a woman – on Twitter today.

Sick and tired of cis & white feminists thinking they own feminism.

Leaving aside the “white” part, the remaining claim is pretty staggering. “How dare women think feminism is about women?!”

What other oppressed class is subject to this kind of bullshit? What other oppressed class gets shouted at for thinking its own liberation movement is not “owned” by someone else?

It’s only women who are willing – in fact eager – to erase themselves this way.

Maybe that’s enough to tell me I’m not a woman after all. I’m not a fucking political masochist.… Read the rest

As the barrage of stones intensifies

Nov 4th, 2015 10:31 am | By

Another woman stoned to death in Afghanistan.

The men surround the woman as she stands in a hole dug into the stony ground, only her head pokes above the surface. Then they begin to pick up rocks and hurl them at her again and again from close range.

Her agonized cries grow louder as the barrage of stones intensifies.

They like that. They like her agonized screams.

The 19-year-old woman, identified as Rokhshana, had been forced to marry against her will and recently fled with another man, said Seema Joyenda, the governor of Ghor province. The couple were caught after two days, and the Taliban leader of the village ordered that Rokhshana be stoned to death for adultery, Joyenda

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The Dalit question

Nov 4th, 2015 10:07 am | By

The Economist tells me something I didn’t know: Jeremy Corbyn is an advocate of justice for Dalits.

Specifically, Mr Corbyn wants British law to prohibit discrimination on grounds of caste, a step which the government seems reluctant to take, and one which some prominent British Hindus adamantly oppose. These opponents insist that the existence of caste discrimination in Britain is unproven, and that outlawing it would be an insult to the Indian community.

Except of course for the Dalit portion of “the Indian community.”

All this matters more than ever because a political battle over the Dalit question may soon come to a head in Britain after simmering for a long time.  Arguments over whether Britain should explicitly outlaw

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Screamed at by the identifarians

Nov 3rd, 2015 5:27 pm | By

Julie Bindel and Rachel Jolley were on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking tonight talking about no-platforming and radical feminism – “not the fun kind that men love, pole dancing your way to liberation,” Julie said.

Their segment starts at 30 minutes.… Read the rest

Rue Avijit Roy, Paris

Nov 3rd, 2015 4:11 pm | By

Via Riasat Ahsan on Facebook:

Reporters sans frontières / Reporters Without Borders / RSF renamed the road of the Bangladeshi embassy in Paris to “RUE AVIJIT ROY” today, in honour of Avijit Roy, the first to be slain as part of a series of fatal attacks on outspoken secularists in Bangladesh this year, which still continues today.

Congratulations you “soldiers of Allah”, members of Ansarullah Bangla Team! Thanks to you, whenever people think of Bangladesh, they’ll be reminded of a brave people, voices of dissent who were so powerful, the only thing you could do to stop people from listening was to silence them forever. But alas, they speak on! They live on. Thanks to you, their voices

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Nov 3rd, 2015 3:59 pm | By

The Ansarullah Bangla Team has put out a new hitlist. Taslima’s name is at the top.

The group reportedly put up a list of 14 names of bloggers and writers on social media on Sunday, which includes several Bangladeshi writers who are now living abroad.

Taslima Nasreen has been living in the United States after threats to her life. She was moved to the US in May this year by the Center for Inquiry (CFI), which had said Nasreen was the ‘next target for murder by Al Qaeda-linked extremists’.

Apart from Nasreen, , other bloggers and writers on the terror hit list are Farjana Kabir Khan and Asif Mohiuddin who are currently in Germany, and Arifur Rahman and 

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Nobody has read the blogs

Nov 3rd, 2015 3:47 pm | By

In Dhaka today:

About 1,000 Bangladeshi authors and teachers marched through the streets of the capital on Tuesday, asserting their right to free speech days after a suspected Islamist group attacked writers and publishers critical of religious militancy.

That’s so brave of them. On protests here you know the police may be taking pictures. There you know guys with machetes may be taking pictures.

Despite the climate of fear caused by the attacks that follow the killings of four secularist bloggers this year, writers turned out in large numbers for the rally in Dhaka.

“No one is safe. First they killed bloggers. Now they are targeting publishers. Soon they will attack anyone who is progressive-minded,” said Khaledur Rahman, an

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A Pesticide as Medicine? Medicine as Poison? Or What is in a Name? 3

Nov 3rd, 2015 | By Thomas R. DeGregori

The Type III (or Type IV) ranking of glyphosate was long ignored by the anti-biotech opponents of Ht cotton as was the assessment by WHO and various Cancer societies that it was not likely a carcinogen. Suddenly with the new findings, the same groups are now demanding policy actions based on the findings of a source which they long implicitly discredited by ignoring it. Any credible evidence that does not support their firmly held beliefs does not exist in their universe. Nor did they indicate any awareness of the array of more toxic pesticides that were replaced by glyphosate or the resulting significant improvement in the Environmental Impact Quotient (EIQ – “The EIQ impact assessment is based on the three … Read the rest

A Pesticide as Medicine? Medicine as Poison? Or What is in a Name? 2

Nov 3rd, 2015 | By Thomas R. DeGregori

The concern over the Bt. Is a subset of the obsession, some might legitimately call it hysteria over the safety of transgenic using recombinant DNA (rDNA) to produce agricultural crops, particularly food plants generally called genetically modified or GMOs. It is easier to scare people than educate them. Need a new term for some forms of ignorance that is less pejorative. In the vast array of human knowledge, the best any one of us can do is to master small portion of it. In another words, all of us are uninformed or ignorant or at best minimally informed about all the rest of knowledge.  True ignorance is when an individual or group has an absolutely unshakeable conviction on a subject … Read the rest

A Pesticide as Medicine? Medicine as Poison? Or What is in a Name?

Nov 3rd, 2015 | By Thomas R. DeGregori

What is in a name?  Plenty! The mere hint or even question suggesting that a pesticide might have any medicinal value would strike many as being ludicrous while to many others if not most others, it is beyond belief and therefore there is no need to continue reading. PESTICIDES ARE POISON! They are inherently evil and any attempt to define them in any other way makes one a member of a corporate cabal or a servant of them.  For those brave souls still reading, let us begin with a few definitions or concepts – oversimplified but not incorrect.

Poison – disrupts a vital function or functions in a living organism or organisms that could lead to death but not necessarily … Read the rest

No significant difference

Nov 3rd, 2015 10:50 am | By

Nora Caplan-Bricker at Slate reports:

Men and women are equal—and so are the architectures of our brains, according to a new study by neuroscientist Lise Eliot of the Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. According to a write-up in Wired, the study was aimed at evaluating the theory that the hippocampus is larger in women than in men; since the hippocampus is the part of the brain associated with memory and emotion, this has been proposed as an explanation for all those feelings ladies tend to have. Eliot and her team analyzed 6,000 MRI scans and found “no significant difference in hippocampal size between men and women.”

This isn’t the first study that has shown no … Read the rest

It is the mindset of gender inequality

Nov 3rd, 2015 9:01 am | By

I’ve written before about Leslee Udwin’s interviews with the men who raped Jyoti Singh and pulled her intestines out on that Delhi bus in 2012. But here’s another sample, from NPR:

They play a clip from Udwin’s film, then the interviewer asks Udwin about it:

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: A lady are more precious than a gem, than a diamond. It is up to you how you want to keep that diamond in your hand. If you put your diamond on the street, certainly the dog will take it out. You can’t stop.

MARTIN: So what is he saying?

UDWIN: Well, essentially, he is giving expression to patriarchy. He is saying that men hold this diamond – this precious gem of

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Oops, there goes the baby

Nov 2nd, 2015 3:52 pm | By

Again with this. This time at Feminist Philosophers, in a post about two posts discussing Germaine Greer.

There’s a lot wrong with it, but this one claim is especially infuriating (as well as all too familiar):

‘But I don’t get why gender identity is such a big deal’ – Sometimes, lurking in the background of these kind of criticisms of trans feminism is the suggesti[on] that we probably shouldn’t make such a fuss over gender identity. For [those] who have a relatively limited sense of or feelings toward their own gender identity, it can sometimes be hard to understand why some people think it’s so important. (Insert obligatory grumbling about ‘identity politics gone mad’.) As trans people have argued,

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Girlish and boyish

Nov 2nd, 2015 10:54 am | By

I hate to use the Daily Mail as a source, but every now and then I do. This story on Saturday reports that an organization called Gendered Intelligence runs workshops in a few primary schools in the UK. Very few – the Mail says “up to 20” schools a year get the workshops. Well 20 is a tiny number. Minuscule. The issue I have isn’t with the quantity but with the content.

In one class, Year Six boys at Hotspur Primary in Newcastle are asked to describe the ‘girlish’ things they like to do, while the girls say what ‘boyish’ pursuits they enjoy.

Gendered Intelligence’s founder Jay Stewart, who is giving the class, asks the pupils if they think ‘life

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Selfies with a mutilated corpse

Nov 2nd, 2015 9:32 am | By

Just fucking unbelievable. The Jack the Ripper “museum” was promoting the opportunity to take selfies with “Jack” and the facsimile corpse of one of the murdered mutilated women. Selfies with the corpse of a slashed woman. What is wrong with everyone?

The museum was promising Halloween selfies with models of his victims and the founder of the museum, who was dressed as Jack the Ripper.

“Dressed as Jack the Ripper” doesn’t mean anything, because no one knows who the murderer was. “Perp the mutilator” would be a better name for him. (Yes, I doubt the perp was a woman.)

On their website, they posted: “How about a picture with Jack in Mitre Square together with the body of Catherine

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The revolutionaries

Nov 1st, 2015 4:16 pm | By

I find it hard to believe this isn’t satire, but people tell me it’s not. Ok then – meet The five young revolutionary feminists you need to listen to.

Just because you lop off your dick doesn’t make you a fucking woman

This is just one regressive comment recently shit out by Germaine Greer – Australian second-wave “feminist”, writer and author of The Female Eunuch.

Her shitty statements have incited a rally of essays rightfully calling out her attempt to pitch transgender women as imposters, claiming they don’t “look like, sound like or behave like women.”

Essentially, her violent comments attempt to erase, undermine and deny the identity of transgender people, many of whom fall victim

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