Notes and Comment Blog


Angry boys

Jul 30th, 2016 11:24 am | By

So you type “angry trump hitler” into Google and pop, Google knows what you mean.

Not what you want. Hot rage is not what you want in a head of state. Chronic hot rage is really not what you want in a head of state. Trump is unmistakably a horrible human being, a bully of the worst kind. His candidacy makes me ashamed to be a Yank.

Image result for angry trump hitler

Image result for angry trump hitler



Daring to make their own choice

Jul 30th, 2016 10:46 am | By

Helen Pidd and Jon Boone at the Guardian have more details on the apparent murder of Samia Shahid.

Such crimes are often triggered by women defying centuries-old patriarchal codes and daring to make their own choice about who they marry, or how they live their lives. Shahid not only married a man of her choice, she also divorced her first husband, her cousin Shakeel, a man Kazam says she was pressured to marry in a lavish wedding in Pakistan in 2012.

The marriage had been arranged when she was young and it is believed Shahid was expected to apply for a visa for Shakeel so he could join her in the UK. “The nearer [the wedding] day came, the more she didn’t want to do it,” said a friend in Bradford.

She went through with the marriage but was so determined not to become pregnant that she asked a British friend in Pakistan to help her get the contraceptive pill – hard to come by in rural Pakistan.

Shahid eventually returned to the UK, where she sought a divorce via the Sharia courts and couriered the legal papers to Shakeel at his Pandori home. Her rejection of the marriage is said to have gravely insulted her family, who refused to recognise the divorce. They reported her missing to the police in November 2014 when she left the UK to live with her new partner, Kazam, in Dubai.

Her new husband, that is. They got married – willingly and happily on both sides! – in September 2014.

The family was never likely to approve. Kazam was an outsider; a member of the Syed clan rather than their own Choudhry clan and with no links to their ancestral village near the Mangla dam in Punjab.

They married at Leeds Town Hall, with a legally binding UK marriage certificate as well as a nikkah. Samia converted to Shia Islam.

Shahid had attempted to restore her relationship with the family on a return visit to Bradford in September 2015, the Guardian has learned. She was sufficiently worried that she asked a police chaperone to accompany her to a meeting with her own family.

It didn’t go well. Even with the officer present, the meeting became heated and one of her relatives received an official police harassment warning, West Yorkshire police said. “She was very smart, was Samia,” said a friend in Bradford. “That’s why she took the police officer with her. She thought they’d hurt her or take her passport off her or both.”

But she went to Pakistan anyway when they told her her father was dying. He wasn’t. Her stream of instant messages to Kazam suddenly stopped.

When he phoned her cousin, a man called Mobeen, Kazam said he was told Shahid – who he says was a healthy 28-year-old woman – had died of a heart attack. It was the first in a number of conflicting explanations of her death, including that she had fallen after an asthma attack. The local press carried a story claiming she had killed herself because she was depressed about not having had children, but the family have rejected this.

Aqeel Abbas, the investigating officer on the case, played down the likelihood of foul play, telling the Guardian on Sunday that there had been no signs of external physical injury on Shahid’s body. However, it emerged days later through an autopsy – and pictures of her body seen by this newspaper – that Shahid has visible bruising around her neck. A source involved in the investigation said they suspected Shahid was poisoned.

I’ve seen one of those pictures too. The bruise is very visible. It’s all across the front, and it stands out. There’s also a stream of blood at one corner of her mouth.

[MP Naz] Shah’s complaints dramatically raised the profile of a case that might otherwise have never gone further than the local Urdu language press in Jhelum district. The interior minister has demanded an in-depth investigation while the chief minister of Punjab has ordered a special committee of top provincial policemen to prepare a report into the affair within three days.

All because she divorced a man she never wanted to marry, and married a man she did want to marry.



Guest post: A small hardcore of patients who are quite well but think they’re not

Jul 30th, 2016 10:03 am | By

Originally a comment by Steamshovelmama on An extended discussion with their homeopath.

This is one of the appealing things about most “alternative therapies”. You’re paying through the nose for the “therapist”‘s time so you get a nice comfy sit down with a cup of tea and have a long chat with someone who is basically there to listen to you talk about your problems. There’s no rush, there’s time to talk about all those neurotic little issues – which we all have but which medical doctors don’t want to hear about because theres’s nothing they can do about them. Then you go home with (or having had) the equivalent of a sugar pill which, yes, probably does do you some good because you’ve performed all the necessary steps to activate the placebo effect. You’ve been spoken to by someone you consider to be in a position of authority, you’ve sacrificed (paid a shitload of money), you’ve undergone/will carry out some ritually prescribed actions (been physically manipulated/massaged/had needles stuck in you, been given magic pills to take a set time every day etc) so it’s no wonder some people swear by them. Between the placebo effect – actually very strong – and regression to the mean (most things get better on their own in a few weeks) people do perceive they are getting an effect.

This has led to suggestions it should be offered on the NHS. Not because it does anything more than placebo but because it’s basically harmless. You see, every GP’s surgery has a small hardcore of patients who are quite well but think they’re not. They have a plethora of physical symptoms, all of which are either self-evidently neurotic or have been investigated in every way possible. They aren’t actually mentally ill as such so referral to the psych services (which are very overstretched) is just bouncing the problem elsewhere. Back in the 1940s and 50s it wasn’t uncommon for this group to be appeased by being prescribed something innocuous – a sugar pill. These days we aren’t allowed to lie to patients (and all medication can be easily looked up on line) so this small coterie of patients often ends up having their symptoms treated because the GP is left with no choice. The suggestion was to employ a homoeopathist or an acupuncturist to deal with these people’s problems. They get their sit down and chat about their issues. They get their sugar pills (or magic water), they go home happy and free up a shit-load of appointments at their GP’s surgery. The GP keeps a weather eye on them to make sure the symptoms that have been interpreted as innocuous don’t transform into something treatable. Everyone is happy – except for the folks who make the argument that the NHS should never, under any circumstances, pay for anything that doesn’t work.

I can see both sides. The problem with the current system is that, in order not to lie to this group of patients, we have to poison them, which also costs the NHS money. Overall, a local complementary therapist might well be cheaper – especially if he/she negotiates a lower rate to ensure regular NHS business. It’s not much different to the “exercise prescriptions” that GPs can give out which may include access to local authority gyms.



An extended discussion with their homeopath

Jul 29th, 2016 5:07 pm | By

But we mustn’t say that anti-vaxxers are wrong or that homeopathy is bullshit, because that would be Elitist and Wrong.

One of the attractions of homeopathy is the inclusiveness it offers patients, in contrast to the perceived exclusivity and elitism of medicine and science. Participants are welcomed and can engage in an extended discussion with their homeopath. They are able to develop a longstanding relationship with an individual who gets to know them personally and offers supportive guidance. Consider this in contrast to the doctor’s surgery, often over-subscribed, where patients may be required to wait up to two weeks for an appointment.

I think it would be great if people could get to see doctors more promptly, and if doctors could spend a lot more time talking to patients – but that’s not a reason to embrace homeopathy. Of course “participants” (aren’t they supposed to be patients? seeking treatment?) are welcomed and can engage in an extended discussion with their homeopath. Guess why that is! It’s because the homeopath has nothing else to do. It’s all just magical handwaving, so there’s no need for an examination or a look at the patient’s history, so there’s all the time in the world for a nice long chat. Nobody really needs a homeopath, either, so they can schedule an hour or two for each patient participant.

We don’t really want or need “inclusiveness” from our doctors, apart from the obvious basic inclusiveness of accepting us as patients. We want competence and a working knowledge of medicine.

Corbyn’s critics’ attempt to reinforce the perception that believers in homeopathy are ignorant is divisive political rhetoric and an attempt to discredit a progressive political figure.

It also helps to reinforce the perception that science and the methods that it applies are elitist and exclusionary.

They are “elitist and exclusionary” in the sense that we can’t just pick them up by reading the odd magazine. There is an accumulated body of knowledge behind medical science, and it takes time and effort to learn it. The result is that doctors can quite often fix what’s wrong with you, and that’s a good thing. It’s an improvement on the days when the remedy for most things was bleeding, which tended to kill people. Amateurism isn’t useful in medicine. Sorry to be so elitist not really sorry.



Ann Coulter rises to the occasion

Jul 29th, 2016 3:05 pm | By

Ah yes, Ann Coulter exists. I’d forgotten.

Those pesky immigrants with their foreign accents – Lafayette, Einstein, Wiesel, Rushdie – how much richer and wiser we’d be if we’d kept them all out.

Also I wonder how many languages Ann Coulter speaks fluently. My informed guess is that the number is precisely one. She’s contemptuous of Khizr Khan for speaking a second language with an accent, and apparently indifferent to the soldiers who went on being alive after Khan’s son told them to step back while he went forward to check out a vehicle…which exploded, killing him.

I guess she serves as an example, in the same way Trump does. Here’s what’s not to be: don’t be like these people.



The “legal headache” of the Voting Rights Act

Jul 29th, 2016 11:21 am | By

Ok here’s some good news though.

(Mind you, it’s the kind of “good” news that’s just the undoing of some bad news, as so much of what passes for “good” news is these days. Or maybe it’s always like that.)

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit has struck down North Carolina’s horrible voter ID law.

A federal appeals court on Friday struck down North Carolina’s requirement that voters show identification before casting ballots and reinstated an additional week of early voting.

The decision by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit was an overwhelming victory for the Justice Department and civil rights groups that argued the voting law was designed to dampen the growing political clout of African American voters, who participated in record numbers in elections in 2008 and 2012.

I’m reading Ari Berman’s Give Us the Ballot right now; it’s an excellent account of the moves to suppress all these pesky new brown voters. He says North Carolina’s was the worst of all.

“We can only conclude that the North Carolina General Assembly enacted the challenged provisions of the law with discriminatory intent,” Judge Diana Gribbon Motz wrote for the panel.

Which was the point of the Voting Rights Act – to put an end to that.

The challenge to North Carolina’s law is one of several cases throughout the country seeking to eliminate strict voting rules in place for the first time in the November presidential contest.

Opponents of the law, led by the state NAACP, asked the three-judge panel to reverse a lower-court ruling that upheld the voting rules.

In 2013, North Carolina lawmakers overhauled election law soon after the Supreme Court got rid of a requirement that certain states with a history of discrimination receive approval before changing voting rules. Legislators eliminated same-day voter registration, rolled back of a week of early voting and put an end to out-of-precinct voting.

The ruling in Shelby County v Holder was a green light for new voter suppression laws, and they tumbled out in abundance.

During oral arguments, Judges James A. Wynn Jr. and Henry F. Floyd remarked on the timing of the changes and on comments from a state senator who said lawmakers were no longer restrained by the “legal headache” of the Voting Rights Act.

Uh huh – the “legal headache” that meant legislators couldn’t impose rules that burdened non-white people disproportionately. In a set-up where non-white people are statistically poorer and thus have less easy access to things like cars and the money to pay for picture ID, it’s easy to think up ways to filter them out.

So this ruling is good news.



Did she think vaccines were harmful?

Jul 29th, 2016 10:48 am | By

I’m glad I was never tempted by Jill Stein. The Washington Post reports (uncritically) her woo-based ideas:

Did she think vaccines were harmful?

“I think there’s no question that vaccines have been absolutely critical in ridding us of the scourge of many diseases — smallpox, polio, etc. So vaccines are an invaluable medication,” Stein said. “Like any medication, they also should be — what shall we say? — approved by a regulatory board that people can trust. And I think right now, that is the problem. That people do not trust a Food and Drug Administration, or even the CDC for that matter, where corporate influence and the pharmaceutical industry has a lot of influence.”

But a lot of people don’t “trust” the FDA because they’ve bought into a lot of bullshit claims about vaccines and Big Pharma.

Stein’s warning about corporate influence in the vaccine approval process is often voiced by “anti-vaxxers.” In reality, most members of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee work at academic or medical institutions, not drug companies. But for Stein, the fact that people saw corporate and lobbying influence running rampant meant that some skepticism was warranted.

But for reasonable people, that of course does not follow. People can “see” all kinds of nonsense, especially when they get their “information” from woo-peddlers. The fact that some people “see” something doesn’t mean the rest of us should be influenced by what they “see.” Perception can be wrong.

“Monsanto lobbyists help run the day in those agencies and are in charge of approving what food isn’t safe,” said Stein, whose platform calls for a moratorium on genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

Ok that’s it. That’s a vote for famine. No we do not need a moratorium on GMOs.

Stein went on to explain that she’d studied the value of vaccines and come out with questions.

“As a medical doctor, there was a time where I looked very closely at those issues, and not all those issues were completely resolved,” Stein said. “There were concerns among physicians about what the vaccination schedule meant, the toxic substances like mercury which used to be rampant in vaccines. There were real questions that needed to be addressed. I think some of them at least have been addressed. I don’t know if all of them have been addressed.”

So, she seems to be saying, be worried about vaccines just in case, and tell other people to be worried about them just in case, and advise people not to get their kids vaccinated just in case.

Shockingly irresponsible.



Mahasweta Devi

Jul 29th, 2016 10:24 am | By

The Indian writer and activist Mahasweta Devi has died.

Devi was an outspoken proponent of equal rights.

She famously made a speech at India’s prestigious Jaipur literary festival where she said all humans had the fundamental “right to dream”.

“I would remember her as one of the most important writers in India because of the subjects she chose and remained faithful to them,” publisher Urvashi Bhutalia told the BBC.

“Her writing was a political battle for the downtrodden and she never compromised on her ideas. She was a very kind human being.”

A number of her works, including the best-selling Breast Stories, have been translated into English from Bengali, and are also studied in universities across India.

She was a friend of Taslima’s.



15 rupees

Jul 29th, 2016 9:54 am | By

In Uttar Pradesh yesterday a shopkeeper murdered a Dalit couple because they owed him 15 rupees – 22 cents.

Police told the Press Trust of India news agency the incident took place in Mainpuri district early on Thursday as the couple were on their way to work.

They were stopped by Ashok Mishra, the owner of a village grocery, who demanded that the couple pay the money for three packets of biscuits that they had bought for their three children a few days ago, reports say.

The couple reportedly told him they would pay after they received their daily wages later in the evening.

“While Mishra kept shouting for the money, the couple started walking towards the fields. Mishra then ran to his house nearby and returned with an axe. He hacked Bharat repeatedly and then attacked Mamta who was trying to rescue her husband. The couple died on the spot,” Nadeem, a local villager, told The Indian Express newspaper.

I hope those three children have somewhere to go.



Not just beautiful

Jul 28th, 2016 5:37 pm | By

Trump is such a sleaze. The racism is worse, the lack of inhibition is more terrifying, but the sleaze is more shaming and disgusting.

They tripped in the dark and accidentally deleted Melania Trump’s website and biography.

The disappearance of Trump’s elaborate website comes just days after news outlets, including The Huffington Post, raised serious questions about whether she actually earned an undergraduate degree in architecture from the University of Ljubljana, which is in Trump’s native Slovenia. Her online biography claimed she had, but a book about her life published earlier this year says she left the university after one year so she could pursue a modeling career.

Well maybe it was a one-year degree. Architecture is pretty simple, isn’t it?

Embellishing Trump’s educational achievements in her online biography “was almost certainly done in consultation with Trump and his advisors, as they were desperate to give off the impression that the Slovenian model was not just beautiful, but also smart and well-educated,” according to Melania Trump: The Inside Story, an unauthorized biography of the potential first lady.

Nobody smart and well-educated would be able to stand Trump, no not even for all those billions.



Sick of being told to suck it up

Jul 28th, 2016 12:12 pm | By

Speaking of misogyny, and threats against women – Jessica Valenti has felt compelled to leave social media because of threats to her daughter age 5. Valenti is a writer, remember – social media are part of writers’ equipment now. Being forced off social media is crippling. It’s a figurative form of kneecapping.

On Twitter, popular writer Jessica Valenti wrote: “This morning I woke up to a rape and death threat directed at my 5 year old daughter. That this is part of my work life is unacceptable.”

Valenti, author of 2007’s Full Frontal Feminism and co-author of Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape in 2008, becomes the latest in an increasingly long line of women who have been harassed and threatened online by anonymous stalkers from SNL cast member Leslie Jones to Gamergate targets Anita Sarkeesian, Briana Wu and Zoe Quinn.

In a series of tweets, Valenti lamented the daily barrage of attacks and threats online by people who are threatened by feminism, while also slamming law enforcement for not taking online threats seriously.

She also hammered social media companies who did little to police vicious and threatening commenters.

Little or nothing. Mostly it’s nothing.

It gets very, very sick-making.



No visible injuries or signs of violence

Jul 28th, 2016 11:59 am | By

Naz Shah is accusing the Pakistani authorities of trying to cover up the murder of Samia Shahid.

Pakistani police investigating the death told the Guardian on Sunday that there were “no visible injuries or signs of violence” on Shahid’s body when it was found last Wednesday in the family home in Pandori, Jhelum, 50 miles (80km) south of Islamabad.

A postmortem report released on Thursday shows that her body did in fact have a “reddish brown linear horizontal bruise measuring about 19cm extending from just below [the] right ear and around the neck”.

The Guardian has seen photographs of Shahid’s body, which appear to confirm the finding. There also appear to be two purple welts around her neck. Naz Shah, Shahid’s MP in Bradford West, has accused Pakistani authorities of a potential cover-up in light of the findings.

She said on Thursday: “I originally intervened in this case to demand that there was a proper investigation into my constituent’s death, saying it had all the hallmarks of a so-called ‘honour’ killing. Having seen the autopsy report, I think we are now also looking at a case involving a potential cover-up.”

It has to do with that huge bruise on her neck that the police did not mention to the Guardian on Sunday, and the two welts on her neck ditto.

“I have asked for the police officer and the physician who did the first postmortem to be investigated,” the MP said. “Just a few days ago they were telling us the autopsy was inconclusive and that there were no visible signs on her body and now the autopsy report shows that there were marks on her neck.”

Oh those.

Shahid’s family have said variously that she died of a heart attack or an asthma attack and insist they did not kill her.

It was a wasp sting! No, she fell down the stairs by accident. No, she choked on an apple. No, she held her breath out of spite.

The family insist Shahid was married to Shakeel, a first cousin, and police in Pakistan say they have not received any documents proving otherwise.

In fact, she divorced him in a UK sharia court in 2014 and then married Kazam at Leeds town hall in September 2014, after converting to Shia Islam, while her family is Sunni.

Friends of Shahid in the UK said the family felt so dishonoured by her behaviour that they did not acknowledge she had remarried.

A family member in Bradford was given a harassment warning by police in September 2015 when Shahid, who was living in Dubai, returned to the UK to try to patch things up with her family, West Yorkshire police said.

Two people, believed to be cousins of Shahid, were arrested in Bradford this week on suspicion of threatening Shah. Both were bailed on Wednesday night pending further investigations.

A nasty, nasty business.



Haven’t you got a sense of humour, love?

Jul 28th, 2016 11:02 am | By

Joan Smith on the resurgence of misogyny.

The murder of Jo Cox rightly caused an outpouring of emotion, from shocked disbelief to calls for more civility in public discourse. But memories are short, especially in the feverish atmosphere of a Labour leadership contest. I could hardly believe my ears when Owen Smith, in a campaign speech about equality, said he was upset that Labour did not have the power to “smash” Theresa May “back on her heels”.

Woman-hating has come roaring back, borne on a tide of recession, economic uncertainty and religious extremism. In this country, we have just witnessed misogyny in its “jokey” form, prompted by May’s arrival at No 10 Downing Street. “Heel, Boys” declared the Sun, showing a pair of kitten heels trampling on the heads of six of her most senior colleagues. Haven’t you got a sense of humour, love? It revived memories of an old trope of Margaret Thatcher as the Conservative party’s dominatrix, confirming that some people cannot see a woman assuming power without thinking of men being humiliated.

It’s true you know. I remember a “political” cartoon of Thatcher with guns firing out of her tits, hahaha geddit she has tits so it’s funny to pretend her tits can fire bullets hahaha.

Misogyny has deep roots. It sometimes becomes dormant – usually when the economy is doing well – but it never really goes away. It is a mistake to regard it as just another form of abuse; it is a peculiarly intimate form of hatred, rooted in relationships carried on behind closed doors but that frequently spill over into the public world. (Racists rarely marry their victims but misogynists often do.)

It needs to be met with zero tolerance, because once it starts being culturally sanctioned, there is no end to it. When a well-known woman starts receiving rape threats on Twitter, hundreds of other people join. In a more extreme example, the prohibition of rape has been abolished in areas of Iraq and Syria occupied by Isis, attracting recruits who like the idea of having coercive sex with 14-year-old girls.

What are its deep roots though? I don’t  know. I’ve been trying to figure that out my whole adult life, with not much success. I suspect it’s just itself – deep hatred is deep hatred. Women are inferior, so we hates’em.

A day after Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader, the three great offices of state in his shadow cabinet were given to men. It came as no surprise to feminists, who know that the hard left rarely pays more than lip service to a movement it regards as a distraction from the struggle against imperialism. Nor am I surprised that Labour has become a poisonous environment for women MPs. Last week 45 of them signed a letter to Corbyn, demanding that he do more to stop harassment, vilification and intimidation.

I have watched these developments with outrage – and a weary sense of deja vu. Many brave women died for freedoms that are under attack once again, all over the world. And I am as offended by people who play down outbursts of misogyny as I am by those who unashamedly revel in it.

So am I, and unfortunately it’s commonplace right now – masses of people defending outbursts of misogyny as free speech, pushback against PC, a rebuke to the excesses of “SJWs,” jokes, banter, normal give and take, high spirits, social media, the internet, whaddya gonna do. It sucks.



Oh that? On her neck?

Jul 28th, 2016 9:35 am | By

Oh hey gee what do you know – there’s a huge bruise on Samia Shahid’s neck. Maybe she grabbed herself by the neck when she had her “heart attack” or was it her “asthma” attack.

Police in Pakistan investigating the death of a 28-year-old British woman have confirmed a bruise was found on her neck after her death.

Samia Shahid’s husband claims she was murdered in a so-called honour killing.

There was a 7.5in (19cm)-long mark around her neck below her right ear, police said.

Meanwhile, her first husband has been granted “pre-arrest bail” and is expected to offer himself for interview, according to police.

The move means he cannot be arrested in connection with her death, for an as yet unspecified period.

Well that must be pleasant for him. Not so pleasant for her, but hey, she was just a woman.

Meanwhile in the UK, two people, including a relative of Ms Shahid, have been bailed over alleged threats made to MP Naz Shah.

The arrests were made after the Bradford West MP said she was looking into the death of Samia Shahid, 28.

West Yorkshire Police were questioning a 32-year-old woman, a relative of Ms Shahid, and a 37-year-old man.

If women would just do what they’re told, there’d be no need for all this threatening and murdering.



There was no subtext

Jul 27th, 2016 5:14 pm | By

On Fresh Air yesterday, a guy who wrote a book about Roger Ailes. Roger Ailes resigned last week as CEO of Fox News on account of a flood of accusations of sexual harassment. It turns out it was all very open – women had to say Yes to the Harassment if they wanted to get anywhere at Fox.

GROSS: So sum up where we are now in terms of how many women have come forward alleging that they were sexually harassed by Ailes or by somebody else at Fox News. And I should say, we’re recording this at 9:00 in the morning. And I’m not sure if that number is going to change by the end of the day.

[Gabriel] SHERMAN: Well, Terry, where we are now since Gretchen Carlson filed her, really, landmark lawsuit on July 6 is that 25 women have come forward to the outside law firm Paul, Weiss, that was hired by 21st Century Fox to investigate the sexual harassment allegations. By my reporting, more than 25 women have come forward to allege their experiences of harassment at Fox. And this number could be growing by the day. The lawyers are hearing from women.

And I think there’s a fear inside the company that this could snowball into – I mean, it’s already a shocking scandal, but that, you know, dozens of more women could come forward. And then you really have to start to question, did Roger Ailes preside over a culture that was not only – it tolerated sexual harassment, but it was almost built to encourage it?

And the answer is yes, he did.

GROSS: How many women have you spoken with about their charges?

SHERMAN: Well, I’ve spoken with more than 15 women who have had experiences of sexual harassment and unwanted sexual advances by Roger Ailes over the years. And, you know, I just want to step back for a second, Terry, because what’s so, in a sense, sad about this story is that when it broke in July – on July, 6, with Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit, I wasn’t surprised because in my biography of Roger Ailes that was published in 2014, I detailed multiple instances of sexual harassment. I quoted a very brave woman named Randi Harrison on the record who said that when she was a young producer at NBC in the 1980s, Roger Ailes said that he would give her a raise of $100 a week in exchange for sex whenever he wanted.

And this was, you know, shocking. This was all published back in 2014, and it didn’t quite make the wave that I thought it might. And so this story that’s, you know, exploded into a national scandal – sometimes, I guess, it just takes the right moment for the public to pay attention. But I, again, have, you know – over the years, I’ve interviewed more than 20 women who have had these types of experiences with Ailes. And you know, again, that – to me, it just seems like the tip of the iceberg.

GROSS: I want to emphasize here that Roger Ailes has denied the allegations of sexual harassment.

Of course he has. They think they have a right to demand access to women’s holes, and they don’t consider that sexual harassment. Of course they deny it.

Then again, Shermans says Ailes’s attorney threatened one of the women, and that doesn’t sound like innocence.

And so this culture of intimidation, you know, that – to me, that does not strike me as a man that is – that knows he’s innocent. It strikes me as a man that is, again, attempting to preserve this wall of silence that he’s built around himself.

But I bet he does think he hasn’t done a damn thing wrong. I bet he thinks he has every right to coerce women to have sex with him.

GROSS: Give us a sense of the allegations of the women who have worked at Fox News with Roger Ailes.

SHERMAN: Well, Terry, I think that the most important thing to stress is that this is not about – well, it is about Roger Ailes. It’s not about Roger Ailes. It’s about a culture – a television news network that played a undeniable role in reshaping American politics over the last 20 years. And it was a culture where this type of behavior was was encouraged and protected. The allegations are that women routinely had to sleep with or be propositioned by their manager – in many cases, Roger Ailes, but I’ve reported on another manager who did this – in exchange for promotions.

And so this is a culture where women felt pressured to participate in sexual activity with their superiors if they wanted to advance inside the company. And it was so – it was shocking to me – it was not that it occurred, but that it was so explicit, that it was – there was no subtext. There was no subtlety to it. It was just there. It was just almost blatantly stated. If you want this, you have to have sex with me or allow me to make sexually unwanted comments about you. And it was so blatant that it’s almost now unbelievable. But it – we’re learning more and more every day. This is what women who worked there had to endure for the last 20 years.

That’s Fox News, which has done so much to ruin the political discourse in this country.



WikiLeaks doxxed millions of women

Jul 27th, 2016 4:08 pm | By

Zeynep Tufecsi says that WikiLeaks put women in Turkey in danger with its latest dump of stolen information.

Just days after a bloody coup attempt shook Turkey, WikiLeaks dumped some 300,000 emails they chose to call “Erdogan emails.” In response, Turkey’s internet governance body swiftly blocked access to WikiLeaks.

Turkey’s response was widely reported as “censorship.” Wrong, says Tufecsi.

Journalists and anti-censorship activists who I am in touch with in Turkey have been combing through the leaked documents, and I am not aware of anything “newsworthy” being uncovered. According to the collective searching capacity of long-term activists and journalists in Turkey, none of the “Erdogan emails” appear to be emails actually from Erdogan or his inner circle. Nobody seems to be able to find a smoking gun exposing people in positions of power and responsibility. This doesn’t rule out something eventually emerging, but there have been several days of extensive searching.

However, WikiLeaks also posted links on social media to its millions of followers via multiple channels to a set of leaked massive databases containing sensitive and private information of millions of ordinary people, including a special database of almost all adult women in Turkey.

Yes — this “leak” actually contains spreadsheets of private, sensitive information of what appears to be every female voter in 79 out of 81 provinces in Turkey, including their home addresses and other private information, sometimes including their cellphone numbers.

So that’s horrifying.

We are talking about millions of women whose private, personal information has been dumped into the world, with nary an outcry. Their addresses are out there for every stalker, ex-partner, disapproving relative or random crazy to peruse as they wish. And let’s remember that, every year in Turkey, hundreds of women are murdered, most often by current or ex-husbands or boyfriends, and thousands of women leave their homes or go into hiding, seeking safety.

I have confirmed that these files indeed appear to contain correct private information by confirming that dozens of my friends and family members in multiple cities were included in that database, to my horror, with accurate private data. The files also include whether or not these women were AKP members — right after a brutal and bloody coup attempt to overthrow the AKP.

But hey, it’s data! Data must be free! All of it – no matter what – even if it’s of no legitimate use or interest to anyone, and even if it’s the private information of ordinary people.

I’ve long been critical of the AKP’s censorship practices in Turkey and will continue to speak out. But there is not a single good reason to put so many men and women in such danger of identity theft, harassment and worse — especially after the country was rocked by a bloody coup targeting this political party. I also cannot understand why the leak of such private and sensitive information has been met with such uncritical reporting during such a dangerous week.

Incompetence and laziness could be the only explanation needed.

I hope that people remember this story when they report about a country without checking with anyone who speaks the language; when they support unaccountable, massive, unfiltered leaks without teaming up with responsible parties like journalists and ethical activists; and when they wonder why so many people around the world are wary of “internet freedom” when it can mean indiscriminate victimization and senseless violations of privacy. Discretion is not censorship.

 Tell that to Milo Yiannopoulos.

 



Trump to citizens: none of your business

Jul 27th, 2016 11:49 am | By

Trump won’t be releasing his tax records, because he’s better than you.

A top aide to Donald Trump said Wednesday that the Republican presidential nominee “will not be releasing” his taxes.
“Mr. Trump has said that his taxes are under audit and he will not be releasing them,” Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort told “CBS This Morning.”

That “auditing” nonsense has nothing to do with it; it’s just code for he doesn’t want to plus fuck you.

Trump has pushed back in recent months on calls from Democrats and some Republicans, namely former GOP nominee Mitt Romney, to release his tax returns.

Conservative columnist George Will this week argued Trump doesn’t want to release his taxes because they show “he is deeply involved in dealing with Russia oligarchs.”

“So to be clear, Mr. Trump has no financial relationships with any Russian oligarchs?” CBS’s Norah O’Donnell asked Manafort.

“That’s what he said, that’s what I said,” Manafort responded. “That’s obviously what our position is.”

And why would we not take his word for it and what possible reason could he have to lie about it?



Which is the true sham marriage?

Jul 27th, 2016 11:18 am | By

West Yorkshire police are looking into the suspicious death of Samia Shahid in Pakistan.

Samia Shahid had previously been harassed by a family member in Bradford last September, the West Yorkshire force has confirmed.

Bradford West MP Naz Shah is also investigating Ms Shahid’s death.

“I’m not going to rest until I’m satisfied I know the cause of her death – we need to investigate it fully,” said Ms Shah, who has written to the prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, calling for Ms Shahid’s body to be exhumed.

“It’s very suspicious circumstances,” she added.

The fact that she was young and healthy. The fact that her family disapproved of her divorce and re-marriage. The fact that her family have said she died of a heart attack, asthma, and whatever else occurred to them when asked. All suspicious.

Husband Syed Mukhtar Kazam, said that before she went to Pakistan, his wife’s family had threatened her life.

“They were threatening us because she got married out of the family with her own will and they didn’t like it”, he told the BBC.

He said his wife had gone to Pakistan because she thought her father was ill.

Joke’s on her, it turns out she’s the one who was “ill”; so “ill” that she died.

[Her father] Muhammad Shahid, who denies the murder claim, has also said he does not know who Syed Mukhtar Kazam is.

Tabraz Akhtar, an uncle of Samia Shahid, said the family was going through “a hard time”.

“This person pretending to be her husband – that is wrong,” he said.

“That looks like a sham marriage, she’s married from Pakistan to her cousin.”

However, the BBC in Islamabad has seen a UK marriage certificate for the couple.

Yes but that doesn’t count, because it’s only her father who gets to decide who her real husband is.

 



Her harder edges

Jul 27th, 2016 10:22 am | By

It’s time to “soften” Hillary Clinton’s image. Gotta soften that baby right up. Can’t have any hardness around.

At a time when many voters say they don’t trust Hillary Clinton, her husband sought to soften her harder edges.

I have an idea. How about she just transitions, instead? Wouldn’t that be a lot easier?

 



Russia, if you’re listening

Jul 27th, 2016 9:53 am | By

The New York Times reports, aghast –

DORAL, Fla. — Donald J. Trump said Wednesday that he hoped Russia had hacked Hillary Clinton’s email, essentially encouraging a foreign power’s cyberspying of a secretary of state’s correspondence.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Mr. Trump said, staring directly into the cameras. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Mr. Trump’s call was an extraordinary moment at a time when Russia is being accused of meddling in the U.S. presidential election. His comments came amid questions about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computer servers, which researchers have concluded was likely the work of two Russian intelligence agencies.

Trump seems to think he and Clinton are business rivals, or perhaps contestants on a reality tv show – Top Campaigner maybe? He seems to have forgotten that the object of their rivalry is the presidency, and that presidents (and thus aspirants to the presidency) shouldn’t be encouraging foreign autocrats to spy on our own secretaries of state.

Or, to put it more bluntly, he seems to be flirting with treason, which isn’t a good look on a major party candidate.