Notes and Comment Blog

Spam spam beans and spam

Jun 24th, 2016 11:33 am | By

I’m seeing this all over Facebook:

I actually remember that Britain, the one that had never heard of quiche or hummus or gelato, the one where “baked” beans on toast was considered an acceptable meal.

If you eat the cake, you no longer have it

Jun 24th, 2016 10:58 am | By

Cornwall voted to leave but hey don’t take away its EU subsidy ok?

The Cornish council has issued a plea for “protection” following the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union.

Cornwall, which has a poor economy and as such has received millions of pounds in subsidies from the EU each year for over a decade, voted decisively to Leave.

But this money is now threatened following the severing of ties with the EU.

Well it would be, wouldn’t it.

John Pollard, the leader of Cornwall council said: “Now that we know the UK will be leaving the EU we will be taking urgent steps to ensure that the UK Government protects Cornwall’s position in any negotiations.

“We will be insisting that Cornwall receives investment equal to that provided by the EU programme which has averaged £60m per year over the last ten years.”

I see. And by the same token we all want to pay zero tax while still collecting all possible subsidies and benefits.

But a statement on the council website posted on Friday said prior to the referendum said the county was reassured by the Leave side that withdrawing from the EU would not affect the funding already allocated by Brussels.

Leave campaigners also promised the county would not be worse off in terms of the investment it receives. “We are seeking urgent confirmation from Ministers that this is the case,” the statement added.

So the county assumed the Leave side was telling it the truth?

Bad move.

In 2014, Jonathan Lindsell, author of a report on industries benefit from the EU, told the Western Morning News: “Cornwall is a major beneficiary of EU spending so if Britain were to leave then the Treasury would have to take great care in ensuring its local economy was not crippled as a result.

“Not only do Cornwall’s many farmers and fishermen benefit from the Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy respectively, but the county receives tens of millions of pounds a year in structural and convergence funds to support local economic growth and communities.

“In the 2014-2020 budget, Cornwall has been allocated 592 million euros from the convergence fund to assist with further development. If Britain leaves the EU before 2020 the government should seriously consider keeping this fund up.”

Oh well – at least they gave those filthy foreigners a good poke in the eye.

Britons have voted for a myth of Camelot

Jun 24th, 2016 7:44 am | By

Some reactions:

Onjali Rauf:

Woke up with a gasp…that still hasn’t ended. Am in mourning for a UK that once was and will never again be. The rhetoric of racism has won. Lessons of the past ignored. And the future security of our human rights laws, our ability to tackle our government on injustices, and the EU funds which have helped thousands of charities survive to do our government’s dirty work, is in jeopardy. Oh Britain…what have you done?

Bill Cooke:

It’s a sad day for Britain, and for the world. Britons have voted for a myth of Camelot that never existed. We’ve shat on the future of the young generation, who supported Remain by 3 votes to 4. We’ve voted to have a recession. We’ve voted to be less significant in the world. And we’ve probably broken up the United Kingdom. Great way to ‘take back control’ guys.

Ishtiaq Ahmed:

Britons decide to leave the European Union,

So, finally the British people have expressed their choice. The European Union has been a great experiment in peace building and economic prosperty but now nationalism has struck back. I am afraid we are all going to see such a backlash in the rest of the EU.

Britain created a world empire and rule over several continents but now when power is to be shared with others in the European Union they want to separate.

Reminds me of the Muslim League’s stand that in a democracy the Muslims would be in a minority so we want a separate state – FOR THE 7 CENTURIES THE SAME ASHRAF ELITE only wanted to expand as much as they could in India but when it came to democracy they wanted separatism. The British attitude is the same.

Marina Strinkovsky:

So let’s take stock:

1. Nigel Farage starts the morning by retracting the £350 million claim
2. Daniel Hannan retracts the claim that leaving EU will reduce immigration
3. £100 billion wiped off the pensions, ISAs etc. invested in the FTSE
4. The pound suffers the largest currency depreciation of any currency ever
5. The Prime Minister resigns without mapping out a plan for implementing the results of the referendum

If I were a Leave voter, I would not be celebrating this morning. Sure, things might stabilise in time, but the immediate aftermath of the vote is admission that they’d been lied to & financial meltdown on a scale even pessimists did not predict. We Remainers may be in despair, but the Leavers ought to be fucking livid.

6. The biggest share price losses were Wimpy Taylor & Barclay Homes, at ~40%, which means the markets are expecting a housing crash
7. Apparently the pound’s value dropping so much means that the UK is no longer the 5th largest economy in the world – in a nicely symbolic move, we’ve been overtaken by France

“She said ‘No, no, no!’ ”

Jun 23rd, 2016 6:07 pm | By

And we thought the Brock Turner sentence was shocking…In Germany the victim would have been found guilty.

A 29-year-old German model was, according to her own account, drugged and raped by two men who filmed the ordeal and then posted it online. The woman pressed charges. But a judge gave the men a light fine for the incident while ordering the alleged victim to pay the equivalent of $27,000.

The judge — whose name was not disclosed — offered a nuanced argument for the surprise ruling. During the act, the alleged victim, the judge ruled, had said “No!” to the filming but not to sex. Therefore, the model’s claim of rape, the court decided, was false, fining her accordingly.

The fact that she was drugged is apparently not relevant.

In this country long criticized by women’s rights groups for what they call relatively weak rape laws, polls show that more than 86 percent of the public now favor stricter codes. Current law states that saying “No!” to sex is not enough to constitute rape: The victim must also show evidence of physical resistance.

Who wrote the existing laws, Himmler?

That definition has meant, rights groups say, that a plethora of alleged rapists have gone unpunished. They cite, for instance, an alleged assailant accused of sexually assaulting a pregnant woman in 2012. The courts let him off because the victim – who said she feared for the safety of her unborn child – did not fight back.

Whereas here the police advise women not to fight back, on the grounds that it’s likely to get them beaten up as well as raped.

“We need a tightening of the sex-crime legislation, so that finally sexual self-determination will be protected unconditionally in Germany,” Germany’s minister of family issues, Manuela Schwesig, told Spiegel Online this month in reference to the Lohfink case. “ ‘Stop it!’ is clear enough.”

But critics insist that the move will only open the door to more false accusations.

“Of course a woman needs to be protected by the law even if she looks like a Barbie doll,” Svenja Fläßpöhler wrote this week in the Süddeutsche Zeitung. But, the writer added, there is a danger that “men are accused out of revenge . . . or regret for the consummated act.”

Because women are basically lying bitches, right? so let’s always err on the side of assuming the rape didn’t happen. That way men will be ok and women will just have to lump it.

The case goes back to 2012, when Lohfink first accused two men, identified only as Pardis F. and Sebastian C., of rape. She claims that they drugged her, had sex with her and filmed it all while refusing her pleas to stop

The video was later distributed on social media, although various sites have now taken it down. According to German media outlets that saw the video, Lohfink can be repeatedly heard saying “Stop it!” and “No!” in the footage.

But in January, the court ruled that an analysis of the video and other evidence suggested that Lohfink had protested only the filming and appeared to consent to the sex.

Right, because if a woman repeatedly says “Stop it!” and “No!” while you’re raping her she obviously doesn’t mean the rape itself, she means some peripheral thing.

The court did find the two men guilty of wrongly making and distributing the sex video and fined them 1,350 euros ($1,500) each. But it reserved its gravest punishment for Lohfink, levying her a fine of 24,000 euros for falsely accusing the men.

It sounds like goddam Afghanistan, where women get thrown in prison for saying they were raped, because the men say oh no we didn’t and the woman has admitted to having sex outside of marriage, so wham – lock the slut up while the men go on their way rejoicing.

Lohfink’s attorney, Burkhard Benecken, said his client had pressed only charges for film and distribution because her recollection of the incident was initially hazy. Parts of her memory surfaced, he said, after she saw the video in full. He criticized the court for parsing her “No!” to mean a request only to stop filming the act.

“She didn’t say ‘No, stop filming!’ She said ‘No, no, no!’ ” he said. “It’s a daring theory to say that she referred to the filming. Does this mean a man can just continue without asking her what she means and later say, ‘Oh, I thought she said ‘No!’ because the music was too loud, or the light was blinding her?’ ”

Daring and…how shall I put this…piggy? It’s kind of piggy to say she wasn’t saying no to the sex.

A movement in support of Lohfink hasgone viral under the hashtag #TeamGinaLisa. Her supporters have been particularly outraged that her character and personality have come under assault, with articles and social media posts commenting on her platinum blonde hair and breast implants.

They are painting “an image of someone who isn’t credible. . . . Often she was simply described as ‘the blonde,’ which would never happen, if she had been a man,” said the German feminist blogger Anne Wizorek, who has rallied to Lohfink’s side. “By evoking such images, a judgment is basically being cast on her.”

She called the assaults on Lohfink a mirror on German culture that showed “how deeply rooted the idea still is in our society that women use their sexuality to take revenge and that they cannot be trusted.”

Oh well – take an aspirin.

Cannes Bayers ad


Submit submit submit

Jun 23rd, 2016 1:55 pm | By

Prepare to be horrified.

Deutsche Welle again, this time reporting that the police in Kano State, Nigeria are running around all over the place enforcing Ramadan. State police are running around forcing citizens to go without water and food from sunrise to sunset, because religion.

The religious police in Kano State have been cracking down on Muslims who fail to fast during the holy month of Ramadan. As DW’s Nasir Zango reports, the suspects could be caned in public if found guilty.

Caned in public for drinking water for example.

How do the police even know which people are Muslims and which aren’t? And how is it any of their business in the first place?

The Kano State Police, also known as Hisbah, have arrested scores of people for failure to fast and ensuring compliance with the rules of Ramadan, the third pillar of Islam.

Since Ramadan began on June 6, Kano police have deployed its men to strategic places in the state to ensure compliance with the rules of Ramadan. Those who are found to be violating the rules have been arrested and held for interrogation.

Why? Why? Why? Kano police are state police, government police. Ramadan is a religious thing. Last I heard Nigeria is not a theocracy. What is this? Are they all trying to out-Boko Haram Boko Haram?

Deputy Commandant of Kano’s Hisbahm, Nabahani Usman, said that those arrested would be prosecuted and be sentenced according to the law. “We hold them at Hisbah for at least two days to teach them the importance of fasting,” Usman said. He added that every adult Muslim must observe the holy month.

According to what law? Is there an actual law on the books that says Kano Muslims are required to observe Ramadan?

According to Islamic teachings, fasting helps one feel compassion for those who are less fortunate and underprivileged.

“We deem it fit and necessary to ensure that every Muslim in Kano State observe Ramadan. We have a report of people who are not complying with this important pillar of Islam; hence we mobilize our men to arrest them,” Usman emphasized.

But that’s not the job of the police, properly constituted. It doesn’t matter what some cop or set of cops “deem fit and necessary.” The cops aren’t there to make people nicer, or more dehydrated.

The “men” referred to are Muslim scholar operatives whose work is to enhance Islamic teachings based on the Quran. They also have powers to arrest and detain notorious “non-compliant” followers.

Oh really? Like the mutaween? So Kano is emulating Saudi Arabia then? Why?

Besides the arrests and detentions, the convicts are subject to beatings after they have been handed a sentence by the religious courts. However, punishments given out by the Hisbah police have been strongly criticized by human rights activists. They accuse the police of overstepping mandate.

Activist and law professor at University of Bayero in Kano, Barrister Audu Bulama Bukarti, said the Nigerian constitution does not allow any religion to punish anybody for not fasting.

“Section 36 of the constitution of Nigeria is very clear that nobody should be arrested or punished except for an offence which is defined by a written law of Nigeria,” Bukarti said. “I am not aware of any law that makes fasting compulsory in Nigeria whether on Muslims or on any other person in the country.” However he called on Muslims to abide by Sharia Law unless they have “acceptable excuses.”

He should have skipped that last bit. People need to stop all this religious policing.

DW’s correspondent Nasir Zango in Kano State has seen several people at the headquarters of the Hisbah in the Sharada area who are being held for non-observance of Ramadan. One of them told Zango that he failed to fast due to chronic ulcers.

“I cannot fast while also taking both modern and herbal medicine to cure it,” he said.

It is not the first time the Hisbah religious police have cracked down on people for not observing the rules of Ramadan in the region. In 2012, more than 20 people were arrested by Hisbah for deliberately refusing to fast and they were held in detention for three days.

Completely disgusting.

We are not 12 and we are not stupid

Jun 23rd, 2016 1:36 pm | By

So having read that interview with Rae Story I followed the link to her blog and fell deeply in love with the first thing I saw, 4 reasons she dislikes Everyday Feminism.

Number 1 is the lazy writing, such as having numbers one through four or seven or ten for everything instead of just doing joined-up writing like a grown up.

Second is the ridiculous content, always sniffing for novelty and never about anything that matters.

Third is the pig-ignorance.

4. And worst of all, the comic strips. Often about things such as “5 Things You Got Wrong About Narcissistic Personality Disorder”.  Just stop it. We are not 12 and we are not stupid. Clearly we have understood perfectly the Narcissistic Personality.  In any case, rendering an argument into comic form does not give it an objective stamp of approval. If you are talking bollocks, no amount of nifty little coloured boxes containing character strips with curiously undetailed and gormless faces, will change that.  I loathe the fact that one of the most popular feminist resources out there seems to want to engage in this serious political movement in the manner of Beavis and Butthead.

You can see why I’m smitten.

Allowing the richest pimps to leverage their capital

Jun 23rd, 2016 1:20 pm | By

At Feminist Current, Rae Story talks to Francine Sporenda about neoliberalism and the middle-classing of prostitution.

Rae Story worked in prostitution for a decade, primarily in the UK but also in other countries such as Australia and New Zealand. She exited prostitution last year and has subsequently written critically on the contemporary, libertarian push for full decriminalization and the concomitant project of sex industry sanitization and legitimization. Find more of her work at In Permanent Opposition. Rae tweets @raycstory.

Was it a choice? Sporenda asks. Yes, in a way, but the way addiction and abusive relationships can start out with a choice.

FS: Feminist challenges to the system of prostitution are often met with a response that claims only “sex workers” should be listened to, with regard to prostitution legislation. You, on the other hand, have written, “be wary of sex workers’ voices.” Why?

RS: The idea that those involved in prostitution should be supported in having their opinions heard is a good one. However, this basic idea has mutated into something more problematic. Having your opinion heard is not the same as saying, “You must agree with me and follow what I say without scrutiny or question.” That is not an academic way of doing things. Having some involvement in the sex industry is often brandished like a weapon in order to silence opposition and replace rigorous discourse. On social media, those involved in the sex industry will say things to abolitionist feminists like, “Stop talking over me. I am a sex worker,” despite the fact that their opinion has been heard and been responded to. Indeed, it is safe to say that prostitutes get far more air time in the media than those working in most other professions to discuss their thoughts and feelings about themselves. Cleaners, domestic workers, factory workers, and such are not considered even remotely as interesting, politically. The idea that prostitutes are silenced is laughable, frankly.

Not so many movies made about cleaners and factory workers, either.

Now, prostitute mouthpieces for the industry use the language of the personal in much the same fashion as one might argue the case for marriage rights for gay people. They refer to themselves as though being a “sex worker” is an identity akin to sexuality and as though decriminalizing prostitution enables them to enact their own personal sexualities. When, in fact, decriminalization or legalization is about industrializing prostitution, allowing the richest pimps to leverage their capital to create larger brothel businesses and chains.

In a way, it reminds me of the legal situation for businesses in the US. There, corporations are legally termed “persons” and their financial activities are termed “freedom of expression.” Money and business is given the vernacular of the personal, which is key to the neoliberal project. I see this political peddling around the identity of “sex worker” as a part of the same culture.

That’s a good point. The way people are turning everything into an “identity” and then using that as a shield against any and all criticism is…less than admirable. Lots of people’s identity is “mean bullying asshole”; it doesn’t follow that we have to “respect” that identity, much less allow it to set the terms of discussion around mean bullying assholes.

FS: You’ve discussed the way in which the pro-prostitution lobby has strategically presented itself as progressive and the underdog, while defending regressive values and working to silence survivors. Can you tell us more about this behaviour and these strategies?

RS: Well as I described earlier, there is a tone to this debate that reframes those who engage in prostitution as having an “identity,” like an ethnicity or sexuality, so fighting for decriminalization becomes a human cause — an issue of civil rights — rather than being about the rights of commerce. It’s effective because those who disagree with them can then be labeled “bigots” or “SWERFS” (sex worker exclusionary radical feminists). Quite what self-identified “sex workers” imagine they are being excluded from, I don’t know… In fact, prostitution is a material reality that relates to circumstance and to gender and economic inequality not personal politics. The desire for full decriminalization is about the right of businesses to expand without state intervention or consideration for the collective.

Is this where we’re supposed to shout something about kink-shaming?

Whenever I have been confronted by a pro-industry advocate, the veracity of my testimony has been rather nebulously questioned or I have been called an outright liar. Another tactic is to deploy the “I’m sorry you had a bad experience” method to imply that any negative feelings I have are isolated anomalies. The most insidious was the accusation that any mental health problems I suffer from are a result of personal failings or weakness and are not endemic to the industry.

This is a form of political gaslighting that pathologizes dissenters. The most grievous example of this was the method used to pathologize slaves who attempted to escape — their slavery was considered inherent to their personhood and trying to escape this personhood was considered an illness.

The people who employ theses tactics are not progressives in theory, nor are they, generally, in practice.

But they think they are. It’s how they identify.

Read the whole thing.

Freedom of the press? What’s that?

Jun 23rd, 2016 12:23 pm | By

Deutsche Welle reports that Turkey’s representative for Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has been arrested on charges of disseminating “terrorist propaganda.” Layers of irony there.

Reporters Without Borders’ Erol Onderoglu was charged Monday, along with journalist Ahmet Nesin and prominent academic Sebnem Korur Fincanci, for supporting an embattled pro-Kurdish newspaper, reports said.

RSF said the three were sent to pre-trial detention after they guest-edited pro-Kurdish newspaper “Ozgur Gundem” and campaigned against efforts to censor it. It was unclear how long they would be detained or when they would face trial.

Onderoglu has represented RSF in Turkey since 1996, while Nesin is a well-known writer and journalist, and Fincanci heads the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey.

“Ozgur Gundem” has for years been under pressure from the government over its alleged ties to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Erdogan doesn’t have much time for a free press.

Press freedom advocates have voiced concerns over the increasing erosion of media freedoms under Erdogan. Turkey came under fire last month after two prominent journalists at the opposition Cumhuriyet newspaper were sentenced to at least five years in jail for revealing state secrets. Authorities have also shut down several newspapers and taken broadcasters off their air.

More than a dozen journalists are in prison, although the government insists they have been jailed for criminal activity, not journalistic work.

The RSF ranks Turkey 151st out of 180 countries on its latest Press Freedom Index.

H/t Barry Duke.

Amjad Sabri

Jun 23rd, 2016 11:48 am | By

Tragic news from Pakistan:

One of Pakistan’s most famous singers, Amjad Sabri, has been shot dead in the southern city of Karachi.

Two gunmen fired on his car in the busy Liaqatabad area, police said. Sabri died on his way to hospital.

A faction of the Pakistani Taliban has told the BBC it carried out the attack.

Sabri was a leading exponent of Sufi devotional music, known as Qawwali. Sufism, a tolerant, mystical practice of Islam, has millions of followers in Pakistan but is opposed by extremists.

Of course. They don’t want tolerance and mysticism, they want rules and punishments and hatred. They don’t want music and devotion, they want submission and obedience enforced by punishment.

The BBC’s Islamabad correspondent M Ilyas Khan comments:

There have been the usual calls to identify and arrest the killers, but also voices of despair over the continued failure to end militancy in Pakistan.

Karachi has been under a military operation for more than three years, but the gunmen have shown they can still hit their targets at will.

Amjad Sabri came from a family which traces its musical links to the 17th Century court of India’s Mughal empire. The family adheres to the Sabiriyah branch of Sufi Islam, hence the name Sabri. It migrated to Pakistan when India was divided in 1947, and has been based since then in Karachi.

The band led by Amjad’s father, Ghulam Farid Sabri, dominated the Qawwali scene in India and Pakistan during the 1970s and 80s. Amjad himself was considered a great performer who produced both traditional and commercial music and also sang for movie soundtracks in India and Pakistan.

He apparently presented a soft target with a wider shock value.

Another morsel to toss into the gaping jaws of The Evil God.

The squalor of Bill Donohue’s crusade

Jun 22nd, 2016 4:50 pm | By

More of Bill Donohue’s attacks on people who dare to call the Catholic church to account.

June 7 – Margaret Markey should resign.

Bill Donohue comments on today’s lead story in the Daily News:

The Daily News is back at it again slamming the Catholic Church. But this time they really did themselves in: They floated a front-page story by a notorious anti-Catholic bigot accusing a local bishop of bribery.

Assemblywoman Margaret Markey—the number-one enemy of Catholics in New York—has accused Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of offering her a $5,000 bribe. He allegedly tried to get her to drop her support for a bill that would lift the statute of limitations on offenses involving the sexual abuse of minors. The bishop vehemently denies it.

Only a fool would believe Markey. First of all, the alleged bribe took place in 2010. Now are we supposed to believe that the same woman who is fixated on the statute of limitations as it relates to sexual abuse didn’t know that the statute of limitations for bribery in New York is three years?

Plus she didn’t report it, plus the media aren’t reporting on it.

When a public official tells malicious tales about a bishop, it is serious business. When the same person is a known anti-Catholic bigot, it is time for him or her to resign. Assemblywoman Margaret Markey should resign immediately. There is no place in public office for rogues like her.

Then he gives her work email address, so that his readers can harass her.

Next day – Probe of Margaret Markey Requested – by Bill Donohue, of course. He loves to report on himself in the third person.

Bill Donohue is calling for a formal investigation of New York State Assemblywoman Margaret Markey. Her defamation of Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio warrants a probe as to whether she has violated New York State’s ethics laws.

That’s the whole press release. I’m calling for Bill Donohue to go on a retreat to a very high mountain in the Himalayas, and there wait for further instructions.

The winsomely titled Markey Isn’t Only Victims’ Lobby Liar:

Bill Donohue comments on the victims’ lobby:

The plight of those who have been sexually abused, especially minors, is a condition eminently worthy of our compassion. Unfortunately, many of those who have professionally taken up the cause of these victims are dishonest activists who are not above lying to advance their interests.

Last week, NY Assemblywoman Margaret Markey lied about Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, accusing him of bribery.

In 2012, the director of SNAP, David Clohessy, admitted under oath that he has lied to the press.

In 2011, Terence McKiernan, founder of BishopAccountability, lied when he told a conference that Cardinal Timothy Dolan was protecting 55 priests.

Jeffrey—”I’m suing the s*** out of [the] Catholic Church” Anderson—has lied repeatedly about “smoking guns” that never seem to fire, trying to implicate the Vatican in U.S. abuse cases.

Last month, Yeshiva University lawyer Marci Hamilton lied to the press when she said the bishops pay my salary. She knows full well that the Catholic League is not funded by the bishops.

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, whose role was acknowledged in “Spotlight,” twice pressed charges against a priest who was never found guilty of anything: In 2011, he blew up at me for simply questioning him; he was even condemned by the Boston Globe for his recklessness.

In 2012, author Jason Berry lied when he said that I defended the disgraced priest, Father Marcial Maciel. He knew this was untrue.

In short, we are not dealing with honest champions of the abused. We are dealing with liars who exploit the very persons they claim to help.

I’m not sure I take your word for it, Bill.

Even Timothy Dolan edged away

Jun 22nd, 2016 4:08 pm | By

The Daily News – not normally one of my favorite news outlets – reported on Bill Donohue’s stomach-turning gloat.

Markey’s bill would have extended the timeframe in which a victim could bring a case by five years, opened a six-month window to revive old cases, and treated public and private institutions the same when it comes to child sex abuse cases.

The 2016 session ended 5 a.m. Saturday without a vote.

The ferocity of his statements, particularly his contention that advocates were out to “rape” the Church shocked sex abuse survivors and even had the group representing Timothy Cardinal Dolan and the state’s Catholic bishops distancing itself from Donohue.

Which says something, given how terrible Timothy Dolan has been about this.

Melanie Blow, of the Stop Abuse Campaign, called Donohue’s use of the word rape “very offensive, but not surprising.”

“Abusers tend to be very good at portraying themselves as victims,” Blow said. “Sex offenders will say their victim ‘ruined their life’ by going to the police.”

She also argued that the “victims’ lobby” Donohue referred to “is really the children’s lobby.”

“Most victims of sexual abuse aren’t interested in large sums of money, nor could they possibly receive it from suing a relative, family friend, etc.” Blow said. “Victims want to protect children by holding abusers accountable, and (statute of limitations reform) with a lookback window is the only way to accomplish that.”

Bill Donohue should try hard to be a less awful human being.

Bill Donohue rejoices that victims of the church will still be sidelined

Jun 22nd, 2016 3:34 pm | By

A press release from Bill Donohue aka “The Catholic League” (which is really just Bill Donohue) on Monday –

First of all the image:

That’s the first thing you see, before you start reading the “press release.”

Now for the words:

Bill Donohue comments on a New York abuse bill that failed:

The bill was sold as justice for the victims of sexual abuse, when, in fact, it was a sham: the proposed legislation that failed to make it to the floor of the New York State legislature in the wee hours of Saturday (the session that began on Friday ended at 5:00 a.m. the next day), was a vindictive bill pushed by lawyers and activists out to rape the Catholic Church.

Pause to savor that. People who want justice for the victims of child-raping priests after decades of lying and concealment…are “out to rape the Catholic Church.”

There are many good people in the Catholic church. Bill Donohue is not one of those people.

The principal enemy of the Church, Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, was confident that her bill would pass. On May 30, she told her allies at the discredited Daily News—the paper broke every tenet of journalism in its war on Catholicism—that “there is a strong movement in our house to bring [the bill] to a vote in the next few weeks.” On June 5, she told her buddies, “I really think we have a chance of getting this bill passed.”

If the statute of limitations were lifted on offenses involving the sexual abuse of minors, the only winners would be greedy and bigoted lawyers out to line their pockets in a rash of settlements. The big losers would be the poor, about whom the attorneys and activists care little: When money is funneled from parishioners to lawyers, services to the needy suffer.

The Catholic League is proud of its role in this victory. On March 31, we contacted Assemblyman Brad Hoylman requesting that he amend his bill to cover public institutions, and not just private ones. On April 1, we wrote to all members of the legislature asking them not to allow the public schools a pass. We won on this request.

On May 2, the Albany Times Union published a full-page ad exposing the agenda of those out “to stick it to Catholics.” On May 25, we unmasked activist lawyer Michael Dowd. On June 7, we called for the resignation of Markey after she slandered Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio. On June 8, we called for an investigation of Markey for violating the public trust. On June 13, we named seven liars in the victims’ lobby. On June 18, the bill failed. While this was a win for justice, more needs to be done: Markey needs to be censured for her recklessness.

Or maybe Donohue can just inspire someone to kill her.


What would make Congress do what is right?

Jun 22nd, 2016 11:12 am | By

In the House today:

Hold the floor

Jun 22nd, 2016 11:07 am | By

Representative John Lewis on Twitter


We must hold the floor until we get a vote. The time to act is now. #holdthefloor #goodtrouble

We have turned deaf ears to the blood of the innocent & the concern of our nation. We will use nonviolence to fight gun violence & inaction.

Act today for the victims of gun violence. Act today for their families. Act today for our nation who cries out for action.#holdthefloor

Babies, students, and teachers. Mothers and fathers. Sisters and brothers. Daughters and sons. Friends and neighbors.

Jun 22nd, 2016 10:36 am | By

Democrats did a sit-in for gun control, so Republicans turned the cameras off.

Led by civil rights [giant] Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Democratic members of Congress literally sat on the House floor on Monday to demand action on gun control. Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) responded by ordering the cameras off and abruptly ending the session.

“We have lost hundreds of thousands of innocent people to gun violence,” Lewis said on the House floor during Wednesday’s morning session. Dozens of Democratic members of Congress stood beside him, before they all took a seat on the floor.

Was this Monday or Wednesday? Today, apparently, so I guess the “Monday” in the first paragraph is a typo.

Anyway – there is John Lewis, who is a hero of mine.

On Monday, after Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) led a 15-hour filibuster, the Senate rejected four gun control measures that would have expanded background checks to all gun sales and made it more difficult for people on the terror watch list to purchase firearms. The Republican-led House is also unlikely to pass gun reform after the Orlando shooting — a fact that Lewis noted on Wednesday.

“We have turned deaf ears to the blood of the innocent and the concern of our nation,” Lewis said. “We are blind to a crisis. Mr. Speaker, where is the heart of this body? Where is our soul?”

“Give us a vote!” he demanded, echoing rhetoric he used to demand the passage of the Voting Rights Act decades ago. “Let us have a vote.”

Republicans are so bizarre.

He was aiming for the tire

Jun 21st, 2016 4:52 pm | By

Bridgette Dunlap says the reporting on that story about the Texas court that acquitted a guy of murder because he was defending his property was bad sloppy reporting.

A misreading of the verdict in a strange and upsetting Texas case has gone viral, since Gawker claimed: “Texas Says It’s OK to Shoot an Escort If She Won’t Have Sex With You.” Texas law does not say that, and the jury didn’t say that either. Pushing the idea that an “Insane Texas Law Made it Legal for a Man to Kill a Prostitute” is irresponsible; it misinforms the public and sends a terrible message to violent misogynists.

It is not in dispute that the defendant, Ezekiel Gilbert, paid the victim, Lenora Frago, $150 for 30 minutes of escort services advertised on Craigslist. After Frago refused to have sex with him, the defendant shot her. Frago was paralyzed and the defendant was charged with aggravated assault.  When she died seven months later Gilbert was indicted for murder instead.

The defense attorneys did argue that Gilbert was justified in shooting Frago because she had stolen from him and Texas law permits the use of deadly force to defend one’s property at night. That law is horrible and the defense is horrible, but that doesn’t mean it’s why the jury acquitted Gilbert.

The much more plausible reason for the verdict is that the jury believed the defendant’s claim that he didn’t intend to shoot the victim. Per Texas’ homicide statute, the prosecution needed to prove that Gilbert “intentionally or knowingly” killed Frago or intended to cause her “serious bodily injury.” The defense argued that Gilbert lacked the requisite intent for murder because when he shot at the car as Frago and the owner of the escort service drove away, he was aiming for the tire.

And he hit the tire, but a tiny piece of it hit Frago. (But she died, so doesn’t that make it murder? Morally, maybe. In Texas law, no. In the law of many states and countries, no – the law does distinguish based on intent.)

Unless someone has interviewed a juror or can read minds, they cannot claim the jury agreed the killing was justified. And the juries do not “cite” laws. They find facts and decide “guilty” or “not guilty.” And it isn’t accurate to call Frago a “prostitute.” Witnesses for the prosecution testified she was an escort who never agreed to have sex. Rather than siding with the killer’s characterization, writers should at least say “alleged.”

One would expect the jury to find that shooting at a car with an AK-47 is at least “reckless,” in which case he could have been convicted of manslaughter. But the prosecution didn’t charge him with manslaughter, only murder. Manslaughter is a “lesser included offense” of murder and the judge is entitled to instruct the jury if the evidence supports that charge, but it appears she did not. The jury can’t convict on a charge that isn’t before them.

I think Texas’s defense of property law is abhorrent and my gut reaction was that it was a reprehensible defense. This reaction suggests, that you should think twice before hiring me as your defense attorney, sadly. As Professor Michael W. Martin of Fordham Law’s Federal Litigation Clinic reminded me: “If the law allows the defense, the lawyer must use it, if it is viable, unless there is a good strategic reason not to. Otherwise, it is ineffective assistance of counsel. If the lawyer feels like he is ethically barred from using a legal, viable defense, he should ask to be relieved.”

H/t Nick Little, George Felis

It was a property crime

Jun 21st, 2016 1:41 pm | By

A Texas jury finds a man not guilty of murder for shooting a woman who refused to have sex with him.

A Texas jury has just acquitted a 30-year-old man who shot and killed a woman he met on Craigslist after she refused to have sex with him.

The man in question, Ezekiel Gilbert, has been cleared of murder after the Texas court determined that his actions were “justified after he shot an escort when she took his money but refused to have sex with him,” according to the Daily Mail.

Lenora Frago was shot in the neck by Gilbert on Christmas Eve 2009. As a result, the 23-year-old was paralyzed and died several months later.

The acquittal came from a Bexar County Texas court which determined that Mr Gilbert, who was facing a life sentence, should not be convicted of murder “because he was trying to retrieve stolen property.”

The defense argued that “the shooting was not intended to kill Miss Frago and his actions were justified because he believed sex was included as part of the fee.”

Apparently in Texas you’re allowed to kill people if you believe they stole something from you, including access to their own body.

Christopher Perkins, the young woman’s manager, explained to the court that while Frago was an escort, the $150 fee in no way guaranteed sex.

He explained that “Lenora normally would do lap dances and hanging out. That was her thing. Her regular customers were all quiet, reserved guys and she would hang out.”

Gilbert hugged his defense attorneys and thanked God, his lawyers, and the jury for being able to “see what wasn’t the truth,” as he claimed he was “just trying to retrieve” his stolen property… Frago’s body.

Yeah good old god. God always protects the johns.

Donne vincono

Jun 21st, 2016 12:43 pm | By

Heyyyyyy – Rome has a woman mayor for the first time ever. Take that, Vatican!

In a landslide, to boot.

Thirty-seven-year-old Rome city council member Virginia Raggi has been elected as the city’s first female mayor. Raggi is an attorney and a member of the antiestablishment Five Star Movement (M5S). As of Monday morning, she’d captured 67 percent of the vote, according to the Italian Interior Ministry.

Raggi campaigned against corruption and failing public services, soundly beating her Democratic Party (PD) opponent Roberto Giachetti, who was backed by Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, also of the PD.

In Turin, another female candidate took the mayorship as well. Another M5S member, 31-year-old Chiara Appendino tallied more than half the vote against PD rival and incumbent, Piero Fassino.


The girls of Kavumu

Jun 21st, 2016 12:04 pm | By

Lauren Wolfe on Facebook:

I’ve just confirmed that the arrest warrant for the suspected ringleader of the rapes of at least 50 little girls in Kavumu, DRC, was issued suddenly last night. He was arrested in the early morning hours along with 67 men under his command. These horrifying attacks have been going on for three years and this all happened hours after I revealed what I knew the government was sitting on.

I’m just going to just say that I’m tearing up right now. In my wildest dreams I don’t think I dared to imagine such an outcome. But if you need any reassurance that journalism isn’t dead: This is it.

In a comment she adds:

This has been a massive collective effort of people I can’t name here.

Her article was published at the Guardian yesterday.

A five-year-old sat shyly in her metal hospital bed as her mother described what had brought her to Panzi hospital in the city of Bukavu, in the far east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A couple of beds down lay a tiny six-year-old girl, and further along sat a speck of a three-year-old in a fuchsia hoodie. This smallest girl had been brought in the previous night and had a painful fistula from gang rape.


In each case, what had been done to the girls is remarkably similar. Each was abducted at night from a wooden shack in their impoverished village, called Kavumu, about an hour-and-a-half drive from the hospital over the mudscape that is DRC in the rainy season. Each was then gang-raped and left in a nearby government-owned field overgrown with stalks of corn, sorghum and dried-out cassava; the area is used as a kind of subsistence farm by former rebel soldiers. A walk through the meadow is a tour of one spot after another in which little girls have been found bleeding and unable to move in the dead of night.

It’s been going on for three years – girls grabbed out of their homes in the middle of the night while their families sleep on.

Parents assert that they’ve been drugged by a kind of “magic powder” sprinkled over their houses during the attacks. Men in groups of two, three or four have raped as many as 50 children, aged 18 months to 11 years old. At least two have died from their injuries. These girls are extremely young and malnourished, and therefore smaller than normal. Their injuries have been so extensive that one of the experienced doctors at Panzi, a hospital famous for treating the legions of women raped in DRC, told me that they had made her faint.

This is not your average “war rape”. These are terrifying, targeted, individual attacks against the country’s smallest children being perpetrated by what appears to be a powerful man and his minions, who believe – as do local Mai-Mai militia fighters – that the virgin blood of girls will fortify them for battle. The Guardian cannot name the man for legal reasons.

But that man has now been arrested.

For many months the government has considered this man to be its main suspect – and even knows the names of men believed to be working under him. Yet it still has not moved to arrest him.

Since I left Kavumu in January, four more girls have been abducted and raped – one as recently as 3 June – according to sources close to the cases. I have spent the months attempting to understand the delays in arresting this man and his underlings, to no avail. I’ve been told everything from “The local prosecutor is too busy” to “Paperwork is still being transferred between offices.” Rumours that arrest warrants have been issued turn into rumours that they haven’t.

There’s also a suspect in the matter of the sleeping powder.

What is happening in Kavumu is a clear manifestation of a government unable or unwilling to confront its country’s rape crisis. For years the president, Joseph Kabila, was seemingly indifferent to the fact that there was even a problem. In 2009, however, he declared a “zero tolerance” policy on sexual violence. He appointed a special representative on sexual violence, Jeanine Mabunda, in 2014. Yet in all this time little has changed, either in terms of impunity for rape or in regard to helping victims.

For example, to this day not a single court-ordered reparation has been paid to a single rape survivor in the country. When DRC finally paid out $155,000 owed to 29 women who were raped in a town called Songo Mboyo in 2003, the money was given to the wrong women in a pathetic case of fraud. At the same time, Mabunda’s office has spent tens of thousands of dollars (if not hundreds of thousands) employing fancy American PR firms to speak on her behalf.

And in a remarkable demonstration of skewed priorities, while the government has declared that there isn’t enough money to pay reparations, in February Kabila gave $2.16m worth of Toyota Land Cruisers to Congo’s national football team.

If only the rape victims could play football.


An act of compassion

Jun 20th, 2016 3:56 pm | By

From the Daily Beast:

Sheikh Farrokh Bahram Sekaleshfar, a Shia cleric of Iranian descent, sits opposite a reporter from the Australian TV network ABC. He is about to be kicked out of the country over his views, but he insists he played no role in the June 12 Orlando massacre.

Sekaleshfar’s name appeared in the news this week after a U.S.-born Afghan-American, Omar Mateen, shot dead 49 people and injured 53 others at Pulse, a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.

Sekaleshfar is on record saying that “death is the sentence” for homosexuals and that executing them is an act of “compassion,” since earthly punishment will gain them leniency in the afterlife. He has spoken on the subject at least twice in the U.S., once in 2013 at the University of Michigan, and again in April at the Husseini Islamic Center north of Orlando.

Some say he has the free speech right to say that, and the proper response is to dispute him, not revoke his visa.

Maybe, but then again – religion is a somewhat special case, in the sense that some believers take clerics very seriously, and think of such pronouncements as binding. That’s foolish and credulous of them, but then people are foolish and credulous.

Then again again, it’s not possible to expel all the clerics who say such things, so what’s the point?

In his interview with ABC, Sekaleshfar said he had made his comments in an academic setting, and that he regretted that they had been made public. He said he advocated the death penalty only for homosexuals who have anal sex in public in a country that abides by Islamic law.

“When does this question of death theoretically arise?” he asked the reporter. “It arises in a particular scenario that is such a small probability that I’ve never even heard of such a scenario arising in such a country, with such a mandate, where the rule of law is Islam.”

Then why talk about it?

But he’ll just say it somewhere else.