Notes and Comment Blog


A short distance from the children’s playground

Mar 28th, 2016 7:55 am | By

A Taliban splinter group says it did the Lahore bombing that killed more than 70 people (and more of the injured are expected to die).

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar said it had targeted Christians celebrating Easter, though police have said they are still investigating the claim.

There were scenes of carnage as parents searched for children amid the debris.

What a glowing advertisement for a religion: We Blow Up Children.

M Ilyas Khan of BBC News Islamabad offers analysis:

The bombing of the amusement park on Easter Sunday was the bloodiest attack on Christians in Pakistan since the 2013 Peshawar church bombing that killed more than 80 people.

But many believe there may be a wider context to the latest attack – 27 March was the deadline set by an alliance of more than 30 religious groups for the provincial government of Punjab to withdraw a new women’s rights law they oppose.

Ah, I see – so on the deadline a “religious group” aims its bomb at women and children playing in a park. “If the government won’t take your rights away, we’ll do it by killing you. Let’s see your fancy ‘rights’ now, bitches.”

And supporters of Mumtaz Qadri, a police guard executed last month for the 2011 killing of a provincial governor who advocated reform of the blasphemy laws, have also launched protests. They brought forward the customary 40th day mourning for Qadri by 13 days to coincide with 27 March and several thousand have now occupied a high-security zone in Islamabad to press demands which include the implementation of Sharia law.

God’s fascists taking over bit by bit.

The explosion, believed to have been carried out by one suicide bomber, hit the main gate to the Gulshan-e-Iqbal park in the early evening, a short distance from the children’s playground.

Officials said the device had been packed with ball bearings.

Read that slowly. Think about it.



The reactionary left on FGM

Mar 27th, 2016 12:06 pm | By

Sarah Peace on the so-leftwing-it’s-rightwing idea that it’s colonialist to oppose FGM.

I was to find out that my brazen anti-FGM stance is ‘regurgitating the hideous colonial project that imposed itself on the rest of the world on a civilizing mission to rescue the women of the third world from its savage men’. The rationale I am told, is that even as a Nigerian born woman, I cannot speak for other less privileged Nigerian women, how much less, a white woman on behalf of ethnic minorities.

It was at Goldsmiths University that I came to witness this betrayal first hand, which ascribes brutality onto people from other places as part of culture but fashions itself so self-righteously.

Goldsmiths – well of course it was.

Goldsmiths, very much like SOAS seems to be the hotbed of this double standard reinforced by some academics and propagated by a faction of student activists. In December 2015, the feminist and LGBT societies at Goldsmiths left even their own members baffled by their decision to extend ‘solidarity’ to the Islamic society, whose members disrupted human rights campaigner Maryam Namazie’s lecture. They had deemed Namazie a ‘notorious Islamophobe’, for referring to the veil as ‘bin bags’. During the lecture, Namazie backed up her statement and reinforced the importance of continued opposition against traditions such as FGM which are an affront to women’s rights.

When probed on the matter, a representative of the Goldsmiths LGBT society responded that as a white person, she “cannot condemn FGM because of my colonial past.” Is this putative desire to carry the burdens of the past squarely on one’s shoulders echoed among feminists?

Some of them, yes. I wrote a furious post in 2008 about some on the Women’s Studies mailing list.

Back to Sarah Peace:

Germaine Greer once argued that attempts to outlaw FGM amounted to ‘an attack on cultural identity’, stating: “one man’s beautification is another man’s mutilation.” Greer was widely condemned, almost unanimously. Nearly 20 years on, some fields of study in academia including critical race and gender theory are reawakening the same argument albeit from a postcolonial perspective – the difference now being that a generation of ethnic minority students have themselves, bought into this defeating narrative. The narrative becomes upturned, and any cause that contravenes the ugly history of colonialism is one they would sign up to, regardless of the implications.

This pattern of taking an apologetic stance is increasingly expressed on the far-reaching left, reinforcing the idea that concerns of gender based violence become a separate issue to feminism if the perpetrator is brown or black. The issue is deemed as ‘their own problem’, inherent to their culture, which should be left to them.

Rather the way the Final Solution was the Jews’ own problem which should have been left to them, I suppose.

It is possible that lecturers are finding it increasingly difficult to swim against the wave of regressive thought endemic to courses in humanities, nevertheless students should be presented with the plural sides of the debate. There was no mention of African feminists who have dedicated their lives to banishing FGM, such as the [late] Ghanaian activist Efua Dorkenoo, who worked tirelessly for 30 years and pioneered the global movement to end the practice, along with Egyptian feminist Nawal El Saadawi, a vocal abolitionist. In the diaspora, campaigners of African heritage include Mona Eltahawy, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Amal Farah, Nahla Mahmoud, Bogaletch Gebre, Alishba Zarmeen, Jaha Dukureh, Hibo Wardere, Salimata Knight, Mona Walter,Sainab Abdi, Leyla Hussein, Nimko Ali and many others too numerous to list.

Unlike veiling, FGM is not a category to which we can apply surplus doses of cultural relativism or justification by brandishing theories of orientalism and notions of colonial resistance. If we truly stand for universal human rights, we must demand better from our institutions.

Universal human rights of course are what lefties of the Goldsmiths type don’t stand for, and that’s what makes them so right wing under the left wing makeup.



A scientific fraud continues to occupy a spotlight

Mar 27th, 2016 10:29 am | By

The Andrew Wakefield “documentary” is no longer part of the Tribeca Film Festival.

In a statement, Robert De Niro, a founder of the festival, wrote: “My intent in screening this film was to provide an opportunity for conversation around an issue that is deeply personal to me and my family. But after reviewing it over the past few days with the Tribeca Film Festival team and others from the scientific community, we do not believe it contributes to or furthers the discussion I had hoped for.”

I don’t know what that “an issue that is deeply personal to me and my family” shit is supposed to mean. That’s an annoying thing to say, and I wish he’d left it out. Vaccination is personal to everyone, and it’s also impersonal to everyone. It’s not Special to the family of Robert DeNiro, and his being a movie star doesn’t make it so. Vaccination is a very public issue, and people who start thinking of it as “deeply personal” are likely to go on to think of it as something they get to opt out of, because they’re so special…while they depend on other, not-special people to go on vaccinating so that the no-vaxxers can still benefit from herd immunity.

Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, said on Saturday that he believed “the entire board as well as Mr. De Niro have learned a lot in the last several days.”

“My hat is off to them for listening, thinking about it, discussing it and responding,” he said.

Nevertheless, Dr. Schaffner said, it was troubling for scientists that a film promoting “discredited ideas” got so close to a forum as prestigious as the Tribeca Film Festival.

For scientists and also for all the rest of us, who prefer not to see a measles epidemic thanks very much. And yeah – it’s good that they pulled it but they shouldn’t have included it in the first place.

“It gave these fraudulent ideas a face and a position and an energy that many of us thought they didn’t deserve,” he said. “We’re all for ongoing reasonable debate and discussion, but these are ideas that have been proven to be incorrect many, many, many times over the past 15 years.”

And they’re harmful. They’re not just wrong, they’re harmful. Measles can kill.

People pointed out that the film’s presence on the schedule gave it credibility, and now Wakefield can play the “banned by BigPharma” card.

Doctors and infectious disease experts also spoke out. “Unless the Tribeca Film Festival plans to definitively unmask Andrew Wakefield, it will be yet another disheartening chapter where a scientific fraud continues to occupy a spotlight,” Dr. Mary Anne Jackson, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said in an interview on Friday.

As the criticism mounted on Friday, Mr. De Niro defended the film, saying that he and his wife, Grace Hightower, have a child with autism and that “we believe it is critical that all of the issues surrounding the causes of autism be openly discussed and examined.”

Sigh. They’ve been openly discussed and examined, Bob. People with the right kind of knowledge have found that Wakefield committed fraud in that discredited study. It’s a technical subject, and technical subjects, unlike political and ethical ones, don’t need public discussion to get things right. The discussion and examination happened years ago, the findings were published, there is no need to keep discussing.



Most of the dead and injured are women and children

Mar 27th, 2016 9:45 am | By

This hour it’s the turn of Lahore, Pakistan. The BBC reports:

An explosion in the Pakistani city of Lahore has killed at least 50 people and injured dozens more, officials say.

The blast was in a large park in the south-west of the city, where many people had gathered late on Sunday.

The Beeb’s reporter Shaimaa Khalil says speculation is the target was Christians out for the Easter weekend.

Most of the dead and injured are women and children, a senior local police officer told Reuters news agency.

One eyewitness said there was chaos, with a stampede breaking out and children separated from their parents in the rush to escape.

Another told local media of pools of blood and scattered body parts in the park.

Most of the dead and injured are women and children.



So many stand on the sidelines

Mar 26th, 2016 3:07 pm | By

Alice Dreger on Twitter:

This is not a healthy intellectual climate. A political movement that can demonize and lie about an academic of Alice Dreger’s caliber is not going to lead us to a better world.



He represents the possibility of a return to patriarchy

Mar 26th, 2016 11:24 am | By

Franklin Foer at Slate argues that Donald Trump’s actual core ideology is misogyny.

Trump wants us to know all about his sex life. He doesn’t regard sex as a private activity. It’s something he broadcasts to demonstrate his dominance, of both women and men. In his view, treating women like meat is a necessary precondition for winning, and winning is all that matters in his world. By winning, Trump means asserting superiority. And since life is a zero-sum game, superiority can only be achieved at someone else’s expense.

To tell the truth, I resent having to pay any attention at all to Donald Trump. I never have before, and I’m annoyed that I have to now. I don’t see why a real estate hustler thinks he’s qualified to be president in the first place, and I don’t see why he doesn’t have even the minimal conscientiousness it would take to realize he should be qualified for the job before trying to get it, and it pisses me off that his lacks force the rest of us to pay attention to him. What a ludicrous infantile setup.

This was a view etched in Trump from an early age. He was the archetypal brat. His father, himself a successful real estate developer, endlessly expressed a belief in his son’s greatness. “You are a king,” his father would tell Donald, according to his biographer Michael D’Antonio.

Sounds like that guy on Twitter who’s always saying he’s THE KING.

Trump considers himself such a virile example of masculinity that he’s qualified to serve as the ultimate arbiter of femininity. He relishes judging women on the basis of their looks, which he seems to believe amounts to the sum of their character. Walking out of his meeting with the Washington Post editorial board this week, he paused topronounce editor Karen Attiah “beautiful.” When he owned the Miss USA and Miss Universe pageants, he would screen all the contestants. His nominal reason for taking on this role was to make sure that his lackeys weren’t neglecting any beauties. His real motive was to humiliate the women. He would ask a contestant to name which of her competitors she found “hot.” If he didn’t consider a woman up to his standards, he would direct her to stand with her fellow “discards.”

Makes you proud to be an American, doesn’t it?

Humiliating women by decrying their ugliness is an almost recreational pastime for Trump. When the New York Times columnist Gail Collins described him as a “financially embittered thousandaire,” he sent her a copy of the column with her picture circled. “The Face of a Dog!” he scrawled over her visage. This is the tack he took with Carly Fiorina, when he described her facial appearance as essentially disqualifying her from the presidency. It’s the method he’s used to denounce Cher, Bette Midler, Angelina Jolie, and Rosie O’Donnell—“fat ass,” “slob, “extremely unattractive,” etc.—when they had the temerity to criticize him. The joy he takes in humiliating women is not something he even bothers to disguise. He told the journalist Timothy L. O’Brien, “My favorite part [of the movie Pulp Fiction] is when Sam has his gun out in the diner and he tells the guy to tell his girlfriend to shut up. Tell that bitch to be cool. Say: ‘Bitch be cool.’ I love those lines.” Or as he elegantly summed up his view to New York magazine in the early ’90s, “Women, you have to treat them like shit.”

Of course he doesn’t bother to disguise it. That kind of thing is massively popular. We didn’t know that until Twitter came along, but now we do.

This is one reason that evangelicals, both men and women, gravitate to Trump, despite his obvious lack of interest in religion and blatantly loose morals. He represents the possibility of a return to patriarchy, to a time when men were men, and didn’t have to apologize for it. While he celebrates his own sexuality, he believes that female sexuality has spun out of control and needs to be contained. The best example of this view is a reality show called Lady or a Tramp, which Trump developed for Fox but never aired. The premise of the show was that Trump would take “girls in love with the party life” and send them off for a “stern course” on manners. “We are all sick and tired of the glamorization of these out-of-control young women,” he told Variety, “so I have taken it upon myself to do something about it.”

While boasting about how much “pussy” he “gets” – from earlier in the piece:

When Tucker Carlson once mocked him on air, Trump called the pundit and left a voicemail: “It’s true you have better hair than I do. But I get more pussy than you do.”

Manly men get lots of pussy; women who have sex are out-of-control tramps.

I hope I can forget all about Donald Trump soon.



Nobody in Shawlands would have a bad word to say about him

Mar 26th, 2016 10:44 am | By

The Independent has more on the murder of Asad Shah.

A fundraising page set up by the devastated customers of a much-loved Muslim shopkeeper who was killed in a “racially prejudiced” attack has so far received more than £22,000 in donations to support his family.

Four of his regular customers said they decided to set up a ‘Support for Mr Shah’ fundraising page on the Go Fund Me website to contribute towards the cost of his funeral and to provide financial support to his family in the coming months.

asad-fund-fundraising.jpg

The customers wrote on the page: “Mr Shah was a popular, well-respected and much-loved member of our community and his death has devastated many.

“He was a warm and friendly man and he always went out of his way to make time to talk to you – he was more than just our local shopkeeper. He was a friend to many.”

There aren’t enough people like that in the world. We should never waste them.

Isabella Graham, 64, said Mr Shah had employed her daughter at the shop when she was younger and that she had cried when she called and told her of his death.

Placing flowers at the scene, Mrs Graham said: “He was an amazing, wonderful man, he couldn’t do enough for you.

“He wouldn’t hurt anybody. Nobody in Shawlands would have a bad word to say about him. I can’t believe he’s gone.”

Police Scotland said they have arrested a 32-year-old Muslim man in connection with the attack, which they are treating as “religiously prejudiced”.

Merciful god.

 



Guest post: Reinforcing the boxes instead of dismantling them

Mar 26th, 2016 9:48 am | By

Guest post by tiggerthewing.

Ophelia pointed out the strange gender-essentialist world of some millennials, as revealed by a Guardian article.

 

One of the commenters linked to a description by someone of their ‘gender fluidity’.

There was one comment in particular that showed that the idea of gender essentialism has bamboozled young people:

also, my gender fluidity seems a bit different than yours (I just want to point this out), for me, I don’t really have with my body, It’s with the way I feel, sometimes I feel boy-ish sometimes girly-ish, and isn’t really my body that’s that’s the problem.

Despite what these people might be reading and hearing, that isn’t a description of someone who is trans but a description of normal, everyday experience of being human – which is why prescriptive and proscriptive gender roles are so harmful.

That the idea, for instance, that all women – and only women – like sparkly, brightly-coloured clothes, make-up and long hair, is precisely what feminists are arguing against. Just because, like the religion of one’s parents, it is an idea trained into children long before they have any capacity to reason, doesn’t make it true.

But instead of listening to older feminists who are trying to explain that since everyone has moods when they experience desires and feelings that their society only deems suitable for the opposite sex, so we should change society to reflect that, they have what amounts to a religious fervour regarding the truth of gender roles, so must mould their bodies with each mood swing to reflect which of the two ‘genders’ their current mental state occupies.

In this topsy-turvy world view, sex becomes irrelevant, and ‘gender’ paramount. ‘Girls’ can have ‘girl-dicks’ (and, presumably, ‘boys’ can have ‘boy vaginas’). Note the infantilising language, too; another reminder that these views are entirely comfortable within patriarchal constructs, which hold that only the most masculine of manly men are true adults worthy of the state of full personhood and everyone else is pretty much a child with no rights. And feminism is transphobic for pointing out the inherent bigotry? Please!

Why are they fighting the very people trying to liberate them? Why are they so determined to fit themselves into the boxes that they’ll accept the notion that ‘boys’ can’t have feelings ascribed to ‘girls’ or vice versa? They think that they are actually (and bravely) moving between gender boxes, but really they are only moving to a different corner of the same one, and getting pissed off when people point out that they haven’t actually moved boxes at all; indeed, by reinforcing the boxes instead of dismantling them, they are making it harder to move between them.

Adults indulge small children when they toddle up and declare “I’m a tiger! Roar!” and I think that these people are disappointed that the indulgence doesn’t extend into adulthood. Declaring “Today I’m a girl, so I have a girl-dick!” doesn’t get the “Of course you are. Which pronouns do you prefer today?” response they think that they are entitled to.



The murder of Asad Shah

Mar 26th, 2016 9:05 am | By

A horrible event in Glasgow Thursday night

A well-respected Muslim shopkeeper who wished Christians a happy Easter and appeared to speak out against violence was killed in an attack police are treating as “religiously prejudiced”.

Asad Shah was found seriously injured outside his shop in Minard Road in the Shawlands area of Glasgow on Thursday night and pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.

The Scotsman says a Muslim man has been arrested.

My liberal Muslim friends on Facebook are saying Shah was an Ahmadi, and that Salafi extremists now dominate Glasgow mosque, having kicked out all the moderates.

Back to the Scotsman:

An Easter greeting from an online account apparently belonging to the 40-year-old Mr Shah, who was described as a “much loved” member of the local community and a “friend to many” had been posted earlier that day.

The Facebook message read: “Good Friday and very happy Easter, especially to my beloved Christian nation x!”.

Included in a series of posts and videos on the page in recent days were calls for peace and “love to all beloved mankind”.

Earlier this month in a video he called for a stop to “disorder” and “bloodshed” and urged people to live together in peace.

He also said: “All the religions failed to create peace and heaven on this earth, Now the situation is very critical. My dear beloved all mankind we were not created to see this kind of situation on this earth.”

All that, plus the neighbors say he was a very sweet guy. There was a vigil for him last night.

One of the vigil organisers, Eildon Dyer, said: “It was very respectful. There were a lot of people clearly very upset. There were a lot of tears and lots and lots of flowers.

“Everybody has said he was the nicest man. He was clearly much-loved. Everybody had nice stories to tell about him and warm stories. It’s just very, very sad.”

John Sargeant urges solidarity:

I wrote last year about my fears that theocratic killers would strike against other Muslims and ex Muslims in the UK. That we needed to challenge the theocratic justification that is disseminated to kill them.

This has come too late for Asad Shah. An Amahdi Muslim, the message he put up in his newsagents wishing Christians a Happy Easter summed up their philosophy of love for all, hatred for none. Hours later a Muslim stabbed him to death multiple times, and sat on his chest laughing.

The reports saying it was another Muslim that killed him, misses the nature of the attack. Shah was the wrong kind of Muslim. His killer plunged the blade into someone he regarded as an apostate – someone worthy of death.

 

Islamist fanatics victimize other Muslims first and most. Religious fanaticism is not good for anyone.



Leaving the women to their fate

Mar 25th, 2016 3:49 pm | By

Boko Haram kidnapped 16 women in Adawama state in northern Nigeria yesterday.

Locals said the hostages were seized in the bush while fetching firewood and fishing in a nearby river under the escort of two civilian vigilantes assisting the military against the Islamist insurgents.

“When the civilian vigilantes escorting the women saw the heavily armed Boko Haram fighters advancing on them they fled, leaving the women to their fate,” said Madagali resident Garba Barnabas.

Two women who escaped by jumping into the river and pretending to have drowned later returned to the village to raise the alarm, he added.

Madagali district, which lies on the border with Borno state, has been repeatedly attacked by Boko Haram during its nearly seven-year insurgency, which has left more than 17,000 people dead.

16 more women yanked into enslavement and misery.

 



Las Rocas Rodantes

Mar 25th, 2016 3:38 pm | By

Ah this is nice – Cubans in Havana are lining up in their tends of thousands for a free concert by the Rolling Stones, who used to be banned as “decadent.”

Fans travelled from many parts of Cuba and other countries to witness what some described as a historic moment.

“It was forbidden. We couldn’t have the Beatles or some singers from Latin America. Now we are allowed to hear what we want to hear,” a fan told the BBC.

“The visit from Obama [earlier this week], and now the Rolling Stones. It’s just unique and historic. So, yeah, nice to be here,” said another one.

The Rolling Stones released a short video saying their concert was a sign of change in Cuba.

“Time changes everything. So we’re very pleased to be here,” said Mick Jagger.

“It would have been surprising for this to happen 10 years ago,” he added.

At least a million people are expected to watch the British band’s first concert in Cuba from 00:30 GMT (20:30 local).

The Beeb has lots of happy photos.



They wanted to kill the book

Mar 25th, 2016 2:43 pm | By

Alice Dreger has posted an open letter to Tony Valenzuela, ED of the Lambda Literary Foundation.

She thought a tweet telling her about the nomination was a joke at first, because this nominating for an award and then rescinding the nomination routine has happened before. Dreger wrote about it in her book.

In my book—as in the earlier article that led to the misery that led to me to doing that book—I had traced out what happened in 2003 to J. Michael Bailey’s book, The Man Who Would Be Queen, when it had been named a finalist for a “Lammy”: A group of transgender activists upset with Bailey for writing about autogynephilia—a sexual orientation that reasonably motivates some natal-male’s transition to women—had launched a campaign against the Lambda Literary Foundation.

Deirdre McCloskey objected to Bailey’s book, the then ED Jim Marks asked the committee to vote again and they voted to keep it on the finalist list.

McCloksey and her two chief collaborators in the smear campaign on Bailey, Lynn Conway and Andrea James, upped their efforts. As I and Dr. Anne Lawrence (a transgender woman) have explained, the real “problem” was that Bailey’s book put forth ideas about women like McCloskey, Conway, and James that they didn’t want disseminated. They wanted to kill the book to stifle the ideas and stories in it, presumably also to stop others from talking about autogynephilia.

At the time of this mess, writer Victoria Brownworth, who was on the committee, said she saw the withdrawal as akin to censorship. But facing increasing harassment, the committee voted a third time, one vote flipped, and Bailey’s book had its finalist status withdrawn.

Harassment works. Bullying works. People are harassing Alice on Twitter right now, such that she has stopped looking at notifications.

Naturally, given the shitstorms I’ve been in with Bailey’s detractors since I showed in excruciating detail what they did to try to shut him up with a host of patently false charges, I had been assuming my book would never be named a finalist for the same award. Why would the Lambda Literary Foundation take that risk, particularly given that Andrea James had relentlessly harassed Jim Marks online even long after it was all over?

But it was true: my book was named a finalist in the non-fiction category. Learning it was real, I felt enormously honored and happy. I thought this was a sign that perhaps the foundation had decided that there was no way to make everyone in the LGBT world happy, and I’d done good enough work that even if some were unhappy, my work—on the Bailey book controversy, on the abuse of intersex children, on attempts to medically prevent lesbianism with prenatal treatments—was well worth recognizing.

Wouldn’t that be nice? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could have reasonable disagreements? I’m not talking about unreasonable disagreements, I’m not talking about making common cause with people who think all Xs are scum – but reasonable disagreements.

When I wondered who might have advocated for the book to receive a Lammy, I am happy to say that so many people I respect came to mind: Jim Marks, Victoria Brownworth, Dan Savage, Anne Lawrence, and others. The more I thought about it, the more finalist status made sense to me. Why should the Foundation, thirteen years after it was harassed unjustly, do anything other than march on without cowardice?

So I joyfully answered the congratulatory email I received from Lambda and started making plans to attend the awards ceremony in New York. Not too surprisingly, Conway and James soon launched a campaign against my book’s finalist status, but I pretty much ignored this. I figured the Foundation knew this would happen and was prepared to weather the storm.

But no. You caved. And quickly—much more quickly than the Foundation did under Marks in 2003. In spite of all the LGBT people who have actively praised my book, who have thanked me for the work, you quickly caved to a small group of bullies who have proven time and time again that they will do anything they can to get attention and to force everyone to adhere to their singular account of transgenderism, even when it negates the reported childhoods of gay and lesbian people, even when it denies the reality of many transgender people and attempts to force them into closets because of their sexual orientations.

It’s tragic.

I wonder if Tony Valenzuela will even reply. I wonder what he can possibly say.



Emotional interviews

Mar 25th, 2016 1:58 pm | By

Mary Elizabeth Williams at Salon:

There are not two sides to every story. Not every issue requires us to legitimize an opposing view. Like, for instance, when the other perspective is totally crackpot. For example, if you’re a disgraced fraud, maybe you’re really not the best source for information about vaccines.

Totally crackpot and harmful as well. The crackpot in question is Andrew Wakefield.

This week the Tribeca Film Festival announced it’s debuting a provocative new documentary with the flamboyant name “Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Controversy.” The film’s description promises, “Digging into the long-debated link between autism and vaccines, ‘Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe’ features revealing and emotional interviews with pharmaceutical insiders, doctors, politicians, parents, and one whistleblower to understand what’s behind the skyrocketing increase of autism diagnoses today.” It is directed by Andrew Wakefield. Yeah. That Andrew Wakefield.

The one who’s done more than anyone else to bring back measles.

In 2000, measles had been considered virtually eliminated in the U.S. — and in 2014 there were 644 measles cases spanning 27 states — more than than the previous four years put together. In Orange County the same year, 41 percent of kindergarteners were not vaccinated. Oh and here’s the thing: In 2011, Wakefield’s stunner of a report was fully retracted as “an elaborate fraud.” The British medical journal BMJ’s editor said at the time that “It’s one thing to have a bad study, a study full of error, and for the authors then to admit that they made errors. But in this case, we have a very different picture of what seems to be a deliberate attempt to create an impression that there was a link by falsifying the data.” Wakefield is now barred from practicing medicine in the UK.

Now that’s a guy who actually merits no-platforming.



What superstition does

Mar 25th, 2016 11:53 am | By

From last month – the Independent reports on a Danish aid worker who rescues Nigerian children who’ve been abandoned because someone thinks they’re “witches.”

An aid worker whose rescue of an emaciated two-year-old boy made headlines around the world has spoken about how she gave up everything in Denmark to help “the witch children of Nigeria”.

Anja Ringgren Lovén was pictured offering water and biscuits to a small and very thin little boy called Hope, who had been abandoned by his family because of local superstitions about witchcraft.

Ms Lovén took Hope in, and he is now one of 34 children being cared for at the African Children’s Aid Education and Development Foundation (ACAEDF) which she founded with her husband David.

Brace yourself.

Anja-Ringgren-Loven-Nigerian-boy.jpg

Speaking in an interview with the Huffington Post, Ms Lovén said she first saw the problems created by superstition in rural Nigeria when she travelled there alone three years ago and met children “who had been tortured and beaten almost to death because they were accused of being witches and therefore left alone on the street”.

“Being rejected by your own family must be the loneliest feeling a child can experience, and I don’t believe that anyone can imagine how that must feel like.”

“We rescue and we give love and support to the vulnerable children accused of witchcraft in Akwa Ibom. But to put an end to superstition, exorcism and black magic performed by pastors and the so-called witchdoctors, advocacy work must be carried out,” she said.

Also some law-enforcement would be useful.



No shirking

Mar 25th, 2016 11:13 am | By

Always remember, children, women are not people, they are machines for the making of babies. Because they are baby-making machines, they have to be subject to many laws regulating their behavior and making sure they don’t shirk their baby-manufacturing duties.

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed a controversial abortion bill Thursday that, among other things, would ban the procedure if it is sought because the fetus was diagnosed with a disability or defect such as Down syndrome.

Because what right does any woman have to decide she can’t or doesn’t want to have a disabled child? What right does any woman have to decide, before there is a baby, that she would prefer to terminate the process of gestation rather than have a disabled child? It’s not as if her body belongs to her after all, nor is it as if she has any right to try to shape her own future.

The law, which was passed by the legislature earlier this month, would make Indiana the second state in the nation, after North Dakota, to ban abortion in cases where a fetal anomaly is detected. It also would bar the procedure in instances where the decision is based on the sex or race of the fetus. And it could make Indiana the first state in the country to require that fetal remains be buried or cremated, rather than treated like medical waste.

Maybe Indiana should elect an all-fetus legislature.



Publicity for the “statement”

Mar 24th, 2016 5:46 pm | By

Some nasty posturing self-righteous goon on Twitter is claiming to be one of the people who sabotaged Kate Smurthwaite’s Goldsmiths show yesterday, starting with a “statement” (actually just some screen grabs of a bunch of assertions) about how right they are and how much good they did by sabotaging Kate’s show.

Have you ever seen the like?

The goon is complaining that Kate didn’t RT that ridiculous “statement” and that no one is publicizing it so I told the goon I would publicize the fuck out of it. Here I am doing that now. There it is, in all its brainless glory.

First there’s the brazen claim that they didn’t intend to silence Kate by making sure she had no audience, because she could have gone ahead and performed to an empty room. Then there’s the snotty insinuation that she’s used to performing to empty rooms. (Absolute bullshit. As I’ve said before, I’ve seen her perform: the place was packed, and the audience laughed itself sick.)

Then there’s the insulting claim that “this was a form of peaceful protest against someone who’s [sic] views we find abhorrent.” It is not peaceful protest to grab up all the free tickets to a gig so that no one else can go! And it is not anyone’s job or duty or even right to prevent people from attending a show on the strength of a claim that the performer’s views are “abhorrent.”

And then it’s just a pack of lies. Kate’s not any of the things this scumbag calls her. Kate’s comedy doesn’t harm vulnerable people. Kate’s on the side of vulnerable people.

If this is the left, we’re all fucking doomed.



Jian Ghomeshi got away with it

Mar 24th, 2016 12:48 pm | By

The CBC reports (on its former employee):

Jian Ghomeshi has been acquitted on four counts of sexual assault and one count of choking by an Ontario Court judge who says the “deceptive and manipulative” evidence of the complainants raised a reasonable doubt in the guilt of the former CBC Radio host.

In a searing rebuke of the complainants, Judge William Horkins said the evidence from all three not only suffered from inconsistencies, but was “tainted by outright deception.”

“The harsh reality is that once a witness has been shown to be deceptive and manipulative in giving their evidence, that witness can no longer expect the court to consider them to be a trusted source of the truth,” Horkins said.

That will encourage more women to report rapes. Not.



The Swedish Academy

Mar 24th, 2016 11:34 am | By

A mere 27 years after the fatwa was first issued, the Swedish Academy steps up and says it’s a bad thing.

The Swedish Academy, which selects the winners of the Nobel Prize in literature, has condemned an Iranian death warrant against British writer Salman Rushdie, 27 years after it was pronounced.

Two members quit the academy in 1989 after it refused to condemn Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini’s fatwa, or religious edict, against Rushdie for allegedly blaspheming Islam in his book “The Satanic Verses.” Citing its code against political involvement, the academy issued a statement defending free expression but without explicitly supporting Rushdie.

Well done by the two members who quit. Condemning an incitement-and-bribe to murder a writer does not have to be defined as “political involvement.”

But anyway, they’ve stepped up now.

However, in a statement posted on its website Thursday, the academy for the first time denounced the fatwa and reward money for Rushdie’s death as “flagrant breaches of international law.”

It didn’t specify what prompted its change of heart, but cited state-run Iranian media outlets’ recent decision to raise the bounty by $600,000.

“The fact that the death sentence has been passed as punishment for a work of literature also implies a serious violation of free speech,” the academy said, adding that literature must be free from political control.

Rushdie responded on Twitter, saying “I would like to thank the Swedish Academy. I am extremely grateful for its statement.”

People are murmuring that the Academy may not be finished with Salman just yet.

Kerstin Ekman, one of the members who resigned from the academy in 1989, welcomed the move.

“It took a few years but here it is. I think it is very good,” Ekman told Swedish public radio. She said she doesn’t plan to return to the academy, whose appointments are for life.

Maybe they could send her an invitation.



Many bodies with the hands still bound behind their backs

Mar 24th, 2016 9:53 am | By

Karadzic has been found guilty.

A former Bosnian Serb leader was found guilty of genocide and other charges Thursday for his role in deadly campaigns during the Bosnian war in the 1990s, including the massacres of thousands in Srebrenica, as an international tribunal announced a long-awaited reckoning in Europe’s bloodiest chapter since World War II.

Radovan Karadzic was found guilty of 10 charges including genocide in connection with the 1995 massacre of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in the Srebrenica enclave near the close of a three-year war.

Extreme nationalism is no more healthy or benevolent than theocracy or racism. All three motivate and justify loathing of The Other, and from there it’s just a step to persecution and, ultimately, elimination.

The court’s ruling placed widespread blame on Karadzic for directing murders, purges and other abuses against civilians, including the 44-month siege of the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, in which Serb gunners and snipers fired nearly daily from surrounding ridges.

Karadzic — both a Bosnian Serb political leader and commander of military forces — claimed he was seeking only to protect ethnic Serbs during the war.

Of course he did. That’s what Turkey claims about the Armenians, too. That’s what Hitler and the gang claimed about the Jews. It’s always self-defense.

Karadzic — who was indicted in 1995 but on the run until his capture in 2008 — was the most senior Bosnian Serb figure to face prosecution at the court, which has spent more than two decades probing the conflicts in the former Yugoslavia.

The trial also reopened memories of the horrors of Srebrenica, in which Bosnian Muslims where herded from U.N.-designated “safe havens” into killing fields over several days in July 1995, and their bodies dumped into shallow pits. Investigators later uncovered many bodies with the hands still bound behind their backs, and showing evidence of execution-style slayings with shots to the back of the head.

Only to protect the Serbs.

Following the verdicts Thursday, the top U.N. human rights official, Zeid Raad al-Hussein, said the decisions also send a wider message about the dangers of nationalism and ethnic vilification.

In a statement, he said the trial “should give pause to leaders across Europe and elsewhere who seek to exploit nationalist sentiments and scapegoat minorities for broader social ills.”

What I’m saying. That shit is dangerous.

Donald Trump please note.



When assembling your dog kit

Mar 23rd, 2016 5:57 pm | By