Notes and Comment Blog


It is understood that YS stands for “young sluts”

Jul 18th, 2016 5:30 pm | By

Boys at a private school in Melbourne set up an Instagram account last week in order to post photos of little girls and call them sluts.

Police are investigating an Instagram account which was set up by students at an exclusive private boys’ school to share photos of young girls without their knowledge.

The offensive account was created by two Year 11 boys at Brighton Grammar School and encouraged viewers to vote on the “slut of the year”.

“Offensive” isn’t the right word there. It’s misogynist and sexist and rapey.

A Melbourne mother who spoke out in disgust on her Facebook page after discovering that photos of her young daughter were uploaded onto the social media page, told Fairfax Media that she received a threatening phone call from from an “old boys’ club” parent on Sunday night.

The caller, who phoned on a blocked number, said the Instagram account “was just a group of young boys having fun”.

Having “fun” by violating the privacy of younger girls, by inviting people to call them “sluts,” by treating them as contemptible objects of sexual consumption, by expressing contempt for them themselves. That’s a deeply fucked up idea of “fun” and that parent should get in the sea.

One photo apparently showed a schoolgirl wearing bikini bottoms and a white singlet top and included a caption describing sex acts she would perform, the mother said. Another photo featured a group of grade six girls in their school uniforms as they walked to meet their parents after school.

“I am writing this as a mother of a girl that has not only been sexualised but violated within our small community,” the concerned mother wrote on a public Facebook post, which was shared hundreds of times before she made the post private on Sunday night.

What is this sick combination of sexual interest coupled with loathing and contempt?

The account – which was titled ys_academy_puspus – was set up by the students after school on Friday and deleted over the weekend after Brighton Grammar became aware of its existence. It is understood that YS stands for “young sluts”.

Maybe it will be the Facebook of tomorrow.



Be afraid

Jul 18th, 2016 4:35 pm | By

Right Wing Watch tells us about one of the people speaking at the Republican convention this week.

The Republican National Convention released a partial list today of the politicians, activists, C-list celebrities and Donald Trump family members who will be speaking at next week’s convention. What the speakers’ list lacks in establishment GOP leaders it makes up for in fringe activists. One name especially stands out: Sheriff David Clarke, the Milwaukee law enforcement officer who has made a name for himself hurling anti-Obama vitriol on Fox News and elsewhere while quietly cozying up to anti-government extremist groups.

Clarke, who is African American, has built a conservative following by enthusiastically bashing President Obama, his Justice Department, Hillary Clinton and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Clarke has been colorful in his condemnation of President Obama and Hillary Clinton for sympathizing with the Black Lives Matter movement, calling them “straight-up cop haters.” He called Obama a “heartless, soulless bastard” for speaking up about “goons” killed by police and said that the Obama administration’s attempts to address racial disparities in policing were a plot to “emasculate the police” in order to impose dictatorial control.” He accused the president of worsening racial divides in the country by pitting “whites against blacks” and “Hispanics against Americans.”

The sheriff is also happy to throw red meat to his conservative audience on a number of other topics. After the Supreme Court struck down state marriage equality bans, Clarke called for a “revolution” to “get this country back,” complete with “ pitchforks and torches ,” urging his audience to launch a standoff against the federal government the next time a bakery or the like is fined for refusing business to a same-sex couple.

Not all that surprising in a Trump ally, I suppose. But it gets worse.

While Clarke has no patience for African Americans who have deadly run-ins with the police, he has repeatedly associated himself with anti-government militia groups who have staged armed standoffs with federal government agents or who threaten to defy federal law. Earlier this year, when a group of armed activists took over a federal wildlife refuge in Oregon, Clarke backed their cause, saying that the country had reached a “pitchforks and torches moment” that couldn’t be solved by an election.

In 2013, after he aired his ads discouraging citizens from relying on 911, Clarke accepted the “ Constitutional Sheriff of the Year” award from the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, an anti-government group that promotes the idea that county sheriffs are the highest law enforcement officers in the country and thus have the power to defy federal laws that they believe are unconstitutional. In his acceptance speech , Clarke declared that “government” was the “common enemy” of the “patriots” in the room. In a radio interview that year, he said that “on an everyday basis, to me, federal government is a bigger threat” than terrorism.

Just this year, Clarke spoke at a fundraising event for the New York chapter of the Oath Keepers, an anti-government group aligned with the Constitutional Sheriffs that urges law enforcement officers and military personnel to defy laws they believe are unconstitutional and encourages its members to form militias ready to defy an out-of-control federal government.

That’s fucking scary. It’s fascism – and he’s speaking at the Republican convention.



The teenager reportedly shouted

Jul 18th, 2016 4:16 pm | By

Another day, another Allahu Akbar. Today’s location is Germany.

A police operation is underway in the German town of Heidingsfeld, part of the southern city of Würzburg, after a man launched an attack on a regional passenger train at around 9.15pm local time (1915 UTC) on Monday.

Three people were seriously injured and a fourth suffered light injuries. Another 14 are being treated for shock.

The suspect was a 17-year-old Afghan refugee.

The teenager reportedly shouted “Allahu Akbar” before launching the attack using a knife and axe. He was shot dead by police in Heidingsfeld as he attempted to flee the scene. His motive was not immediately clear.

If it’s true that he shouted “Allahu Akbar” then his motive is pretty clear.



Like so many other differences

Jul 18th, 2016 2:58 pm | By

I shouldn’t laugh, but…who could possibly help it?

What We Mean When We Say “Femme”: A Roundtable

Oh wow, don’t you just long to know what they mean when they say “femme”? I’m all agog, myself.

Femmes. We live in different places. We’re different ages. We have different gender identities. Some of us are people of color, some of us are white. In this representative sample, we are Autostraddle writers, or artists, or musicians, or educators, or all of these things. The only thing we have in common is that we’re queer and that, in our own deeply personal way, we breathe life into the word femme. But like so many other differences, we don’t agree on what the word femme means to us. This is the beauty of gender fluidity. We live in a world where it is totally possible to claim the same word as someone else and completely disagree on what the word means.

We are this Word, but we disagree on what the word means – yet all the same we know we are it. Isn’t life exciting? Isn’t having everything both ways a joy? Isn’t it fabulous to be fluid and rigid at the very same time? And by the way, don’t you just hate femmephobes?

In organizing this roundtable, I did have some questions in mind, like: what does the word femme mean to you, personally? How do you think the meaning of the word femme has changed in the past ten years? Do you tie your experience of femme to emotional labor, or care work? What are your femme roots? And do you lean on a queer femme aesthetic to signal your queerness, and if so, do you think this aesthetic has been co-opted? The answers revealed the exciting ways the queer world is living the word femme, right now, in this moment.

And are you totally self-obsessed, or mostly self-obsessed, or very self-obsessed indeed? The answers reveal the exciting ways self-obsession has completely replaced actual politics while nobody noticed.

Or did someone notice? Did Rudy notice?

None of the ways I describe femme are based on how someone looks. When I re-discovered femme, it was really linked to witchy things, and spirituality, and care work. Femme is connected to emotional labor and healing. It’s based on the energy you put into the world, the connection you make with people and the care you have for them. It’s allowing a particular kind of tenderness to be part of your identity. That might sound really woo-woo, but it’s true. It’s not just an aesthetic. Having something based on just aesthetics is really dangerous because it removes the politics from things.

Look around you, Rudy. It’s coming from inside the house.



Loophole closed

Jul 18th, 2016 11:44 am | By

Dawn reports:

LAHORE: A First Information Report (FIR) registered against the nominated killers of social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch was transformed into a non-compoundable FIR on Monday, police said, making it impossible for Qandeel’s family to pardon her killers.

A senior police officer investigating the case told Dawn that Sections 311 and 305 of the Pakistan Penal Code had been added to the FIR.

Advocate Balak Shair Khosa, while talking to Dawn, said the addition of these sections was a welcome step.

“There cannot be an agreement [after this]. These sections were created to end karo-kari. Now that they have added them to the FIR, the victim’s family cannot forgive the killers as the state has become a complainant. It will be taken as a murder against the state.”

No doubt angry Islamists will take to the streets to protest this outrage.

Qandeel, who was a model and an actress, was strangled to death in her house in Multan’s Karimabad area in the early hours of Saturday. Her father claimed that she was killed by her younger brother, Waseem, in the name of honour.

Waseem, accompanied by police, confessed in a press conference that he had drugged and strangled his sister, adding that the motive behind the murder was that “she brought dishonour to the Baloch name” due to risque videos and statements that she posted on social media.

It’s interesting that they don’t think murdering a sister can bring dishonour to the Baloch name. It’s interesting that they think twerking is a capital crime while murder is an honorable good deed. It’s interesting that love just doesn’t come into it at all – the basic norm that family members should love each other, at least enough not to murder a sister for being sexy on Twitter. The whole warped morality gives such a hideous, bleak picture of life in such a family.

H/t Artymorty



They’re in the stadium

Jul 18th, 2016 11:25 am | By

The failed coup has been a gift to Erdoğan. Patrick Coburn at the Independent says he’s using it to get rid of what’s left of secularism in Turkey.

The number of people detained so far is at 6,000 including soldiers, and around 3,000 judges and legal officials who are unlikely to have been connected to the attempted military takeover.

Reichstag fire.

The failed coup is serving as an excuse for a massive round-up of members of the judiciary and army officers, far greater than anything seen in Turkey for years, and is presumably a bid to secure Erdogan’s grip on the Turkish state. So numerous are those detained that a sports stadium is being used to hold some of them, a development that has ominous similarities with mass arrests in South American coups in the last century. Some 140 out of 387 judges in the Court of Appeal have been detained along with 48 out of 156 from the Council of State.

It may be that Erdogan is using the coup to eliminate the most powerful officials seen as loyal to Turkey as a secular state.

Just possibly.

 



Helping men become more alpha

Jul 18th, 2016 10:57 am | By

The NY Times on the Baton Rouge shooter.

As investigators worked, details about [Gavin] Long, 29, of Kansas City, Mo., began to emerge. Court records filed in Missouri showed that Mr. Long filed a name-change notice with the Jackson County recorder’s office, seeking to change his name to Cosmo Ausar Setepenra and saying he was a member of an indigenous tribe. A spokeswoman for the court said Mr. Long never filed a petition with the court, so the document was not legally binding.

Using that name, Mr. Long billed himself online as a self-help author and life coach who could help men become more “alpha.”

Like the gunman who killed five police officers more than a week ago in Dallas, Mr. Long had served abroad in the military.

Men who see themselves as “alpha,” and who see “alpha” maleness as a valuable thing, and who have spent time in the military.

Internet domain search tools show that Mr. Long registered a website called convoswithcosmo.club in April. Another website, registered privately, convoswithcosmo.com, is filled with blog posts and podcasts that match Mr. Long’s biography, including his stint in the military and educational career. The site promotes three self-help books and offers life coaching sessions for $119 an hour.

The podcasts, which began in April, are more focused toward helping men become more authoritative to impress women.

And to subordinate them. That’s what alpha males do, after all – no alpha male is going to be pussywhipped. Those are the only two choices: either the male dominates, or he’s pussywhipped. Equality isn’t a thing.



Left for dead in the bushes

Jul 18th, 2016 10:19 am | By

The punishment for reporting a gang rape is…another gang rape. By the same gang.

There has been outrage in India after a student was allegedly gang-raped by five men who had also raped her three years ago.

Police are yet to make any arrests although the 21-year-old was attacked last week in Rohtak town in the northern state of Haryana.

She had been pursuing a case in court against the five men, when she was attacked on Wednesday.

The woman said she was forced inside a car and the men tried to strangle her.

She was seriously injured and left for dead in the bushes. A passerby saw her and took her to the hospital.

She’s a Dalit.

Geeta Pandey of BBC News Delhi offers analysis.

The gang rape of the student in Rohtak, allegedly by the same men who raped her three years ago, is an example of how callously the authorities treat victims of rape.

Questions are being asked about how the five men, who were accused of a serious crime like rape, were free to conduct another attack.

There is also the question of why the victim and her family were not provided with any security when they said they had been threatened.

If they were higher caste, and richer, and more important…maybe security would have been forthcoming.



“Yes of course, I strangled her,” he said

Jul 17th, 2016 5:42 pm | By

Qandeel Baloch’s brother confirmed that he killed her. He’s fine with it. No problem. She was embarrassing, so obviously he had to make her dead. Women who make men feel ooky don’t get to go on being alive.

Police presented Azeem before the media in Multan, where he confessed to killing her. He said people had taunted him over the photos and that he found the social embarrassment unbearable.

“Yes of course, I strangled her,” he said.

Of course. What else is a man supposed to do when his sister causes social embarrassment that he finds unbearable? His feelings of social discomfort are obviously infinitely more important than a trivial thing like her life.

Azeem said he acted alone and was “not embarrassed at all over what I did.”

“I was determined either to kill myself or kill her,” he said as he was being led away.

And so of course he killed her and not himself.

The Multan police chief, Akram Azhar, says authorities will charge Azeem with murder and seek the “maximum punishment”. Murder carries a potential death sentence, but under Pakistani law the family of the victim would be able to pardon him.

And since the family of the victim is also the family of the murderer, and the victim was a whorey slutty whore who made them feel embarrassed, obviously they will pardon him – so the whole thing is a farce. Why even bother to arrest and charge him?

Nearly 1,000 women are killed by close relatives in Pakistan each year in so-called “honour killings” for violating conservative norms on love and marriage.

That’s bound to be a very conservative estimate, since in most cases the close relatives keep the whole thing secret.

Baloch’s brother had allegedly told her to end her social media activity, which had won her legions of fans, but left many dismayed. She shot to national attention in March when she released a video promising to perform a “striptease” if the Pakistani cricket team won the world Twenty20 cricket championships.

Although Pakistan did not win, she still danced on camera, saying the performance was in honour of the victorious Indian team. She was unapologetic about upsetting conservatives in the Muslim-majority state, where radical forms of Islam have grown in popularity in recent years.

She recently described herself as an “inspiration to ladies who are treated badly”.

And the men who hate them.

She had recently demanded that the government provide her with security after receiving death threats, but no help was given. She told the media she was considering moving abroad with her parents as she did not feel safe.

In one of her last interviews, she talked about being forced to get married against her will at the age of 17 to an uneducated man, whom she described as “an animal”. “I said: ‘No, I don’t want to spend my life this way.’ I was not made for this. It was my wish since I was a child to become something, to be able to stand on my own two feet, to do something for myself.”

And it was her brother’s wish to stop her, and he won.



Something did

Jul 17th, 2016 4:55 pm | By

Well, if you want to turn the sadness dial up you can always look at Qandeel Baloch’s Twitter.

July 15 – the day her brother strangled her to death.

July 14

As a women we must stand up for ourselves..As a women we must stand up for each other…As a women we must stand…

If you follow the link, you get the Facebook Not Here message.

Also July 14

Another on July 14

If you have a strong will power definitely nothing can let you go down..Life has taught me lessons in a early… http://fb.me/2JOC3RxH2

Nothing…except maybe an enraged brother or father, except maybe a woman-hating religious ideology, except maybe a god that hates women.

July 13



A rather more sinister trend

Jul 17th, 2016 12:35 pm | By

Chris Moos pointed out to me another Theos blog post by Ben Ryan. It too is badly written and badly thought.

A blog was recently drawn to my attention by one Dr Chris Moos that tries to paint the LSE Director Professor Craig Calhoun as a “faith warrior”. By deigning to argue that religion ought to be taken more seriously in academia in a range of different subjects as an overlooked cause Calhoun is displaying some sort of scary Christian zeal (apparently).

That last sentence really is gibberish, plus he appears not to know what “deign” means. To attempt to translate: I think he’s saying that Chris Moos is saying that Calhoun is a faith warrior because he (Calhoun) says religion should be taken more seriously. I think Ryan is also saying that Chris is being naughty in saying that. Meh. I tend to resent people who say we should take religion more seriously, and I do think it’s a form of bullying, and thus that “faith warrior” is not a bad metaphor.

It is the second half of Dr Moos’s blog that what I suspect is the real reason for the anti-Calhoun attack.

Missing word there. Contains? States? Explains? Offers? It takes a pretty bad writer to leave out a key word and not notice.

Moos led one of a series of stunts in which atheist and humanist societies show up to Freshers’ Fairs wearing t-shirts showing “Jesus and Mo cartoons”. Reports as to what happened next differ depending on who you ask, ranging between just short of the heroic martyrdom of these champions of free speech to a minor disagreement after which they were asked by the LSE to stop wearing the t-shirts or leave. This event has somehow become a cause and argument which has rumbled on now for years.

It wasn’t a “stunt.” That’s just rude. ASH societies like other societies have tables at the Freshers Fairs, and they have material on their tables and they wear relevant T shirts if they feel like it. That’s not a stunt, it’s just a thing that societies do. They weren’t asked by LSE to leave, they were asked by an officer of the LSE Student Union. The LSE SU officer really had no business doing that.

My concern over these stunts is that in this ongoing pointless dispute the protagonists are actually becoming part of a rather more sinister trend and that they have lost sight of the point of their campaigning.

First to be entirely clear – this is a deliberately provocative gesture, whatever its supporters might say to the contrary. The cartoons have been a cause celebre for years, the effect they have is well known.

Nonsense. That’s not true. Ryan may be thinking of other cartoons – the Danish Motoons and/or Lars Vilks – or he may be deliberately misleading the readers. It’s not true that J&M have been a cause célèbre for years. And that crap about deliberately provocative gesture is more of the same old bullshit by which people adopt the viewpoint of enraged theocrats in order to chastise people who are doing things that ought to be completely uncontroversial in a liberal society. It’s a bullying move, and it stinks.

If it were simply provocative that would be a bit irritating but not especially problematic – perhaps universities ought to be forced to be clearer on their stance on particular issues. However, it is the choice of target that I find distasteful. It’s the unpleasant use of jokes and mockery to create an acceptable “other”. In Britain in the past the butt of such jokes have at various times been the Irish, Jews, or among others, West Indians. Each time the effect is to justify a perception that “those people” are not welcome here or that they undermine the efforts of the rest of us. In our own time the acceptable other at which abuse can be thrown has become Muslims.

Every time these student societies decide to be provocative it is invariably Muslims who bear the brunt of the mockery. It is never Sikhs, or Hindus, or Jews or any other minority group.

Dense, isn’t he. He’s apparently forgotten all about poor dear Jesus – who is after all half of Jesus & Mo. How are Muslims bearing the brunt of the mockery when Jesus has top billing?

The guy’s a faith warrior in training.



Theos researcher says “surrender now”

Jul 16th, 2016 5:38 pm | By

A researcher at the godbothering thinktank “Theos” wrote a blog post saying France should stop being so stubborn and just do what the murderers want, dammit.

After each attack the security services and beefed up. After each atrocity gallons of ink are spilt about whether it is time to rethink laïcité (the famous French model of secularism) or the nature of Republic French values.

That’s how badly he writes. Apologies for making you read it.

If it’s true that after each atrocity gallons of ink are spilt about whether it is time to rethink laïcité, then people should save their ink, or rather their keyboard tapping. No, it is not time to rethink laïcité, nor is it time to rethink women’s rights or LGB rights or Kashmir or anything else the murderers may or may not be Aggrieved about. No, one does not respond to mass murder by doing what one thinks the murderers want.

But as for real change to have come from these tragedies? It seems like the increasing militarization of public spaces, with more and more armed police and soldiers, has been the only meaningful consequence. The lack of change, or at least the sense of a French state finding a way forward, creates a collective hopelessness and a helplessness. Tragedy fatigue is real; the more tragedies that occur without prompting a change the less willpower there will be to create something. There is a remarkable capacity to accept even the most appalling situations as normal.

It’s quite remarkable what Ben Ryan is saying there. He’s complaining about France’s failure to change at the behest of mass murderers. He’s saying that failure to change at the behest of mass murderers creates hopelessness – as if there were a universal desire for France to do what the murderers want. He’s saying the mass murders – the “tragedies” – should prompt change.

This is the moment to call for a new approach to French society and secularism. It is now, surely, clear to anyone with eyes to see that the hopes of creating a purely civil identity in which religion and race are irrelevant are failed. It is time the French state begins recording data on the religion of its citizens, so that it can see how trends are emerging and be responsive to the reality on the streets, not just vague assumptions and prejudices.

It’s time to question again whether aspects of laïcité that seem to disproportionately hurt minority faiths (and especially Islam) are a sensible approach to pluralism and to remove those aspects that are doing more harm than good at fostering integration. Schools need the freedom to address religious and identity issues in the classroom. It’s time to stop pretending that Frenchness can sweep these issues under the carpet and start “doing religion”, not just opposing extremism.

He reminds me of that nice Maréchal Pétain who shook hands with Hitler so politely that one time.



Testing, testing

Jul 16th, 2016 3:45 pm | By

No no no. We don’t need a “Sharia test.” That’s ridiculous.

Newt Gingrich says we do.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has suggested testing all US Muslims to see if they believe in Sharia, and deporting those who do.

Mr Gingrich’s comments follow an attack in the French city of Nice, which has killed at least 84 people.

His comments echo the sentiments of Donald Trump, who has said Muslims should be banned from entering the US.

That’s a crap idea for civil rights reasons and basic decency reasons, but even if it were acceptable to go around “testing” citizens and immigrants in that way, believing in Sharia would be the wrong criterion. I hate religious laws in general, and the ones that conflict with secular human rights in particular, but many millions of people believe in them, and we can’t seal them all off. I dislike religious conservatism and don’t want it interfering with people’s rights, but I don’t get to exile all the religious conservatives. Most people who believe in Sharia do not believe in mass murder. Gingrich is being a scaremongering xenophobic fascist by saying what he said.



The transfer of those lands identified

Jul 16th, 2016 12:00 pm | By

The Republicans have added a Bundy-party clause to their platform.

The Republican platform committee met this week to draft the document that defines the party’s official principles and policies. Along with provisions on pornography and LGBT “conversion therapy” is an amendment calling for the indiscriminate and immediate disposal of national public lands.

The inclusion of this provision in the Republican Party’s platform reflects the growing influence of and ideological alliance between several anti-park members of the GOP and anti-government extremists, led by Cliven Bundy, who dispute the federal government’s authority over national public lands.

“Congress shall immediately pass universal legislation providing a timely and orderly mechanism requiring the federal government to convey certain federally controlled public lands to the states,” reads the adopted language. “We call upon all national and state leaders and representatives to exert their utmost power and influence to urge the transfer of those lands identified.”

That’s what the armed robbers who stole Malheur National Wildlife Refuge last January were demanding – the transfer of federal land to the states.

The provision calls for an immediate full-scale disposal of “certain” public lands, without defining which lands it would apply to, leaving national parks, wilderness areas, wildlife refuges, and national forests apparently up for grabs and vulnerable to development, privatization, or transfer to state ownership.

What could possibly go wrong?

“I have long believed that public lands are an equalizer in America, where access to public lands ensures that you don’t need to be a millionaire to enjoy the great outdoors or to introduce your children to hunting, fishing and hiking,” said Senator Martin Heinrich during a recent floor speech on ALEC-funded land seizure legislation. “This land grab idea is just as ludicrous as denying climate change, just as detached from reality, and similarly comes at the expense of our public health and protection of our public lands and resources.”

It’s just as ludicrous, but I don’t agree that it’s just as detached from reality, because that’s not the issue. The issue is one of values or goals, not one of facts. It’s not a fact that it’s good to ensure that you don’t need to be a millionaire to enjoy the great outdoors or to introduce your children to hunting, fishing and hiking; it’s a value, aka a preference, aka a moral view.

But it definitely is a value, and the Republican one is despicable.



2,745 judges

Jul 16th, 2016 10:40 am | By

And Turkey.

Prime Minister Binali Yildirim called the insurrection “a stain in the history of democracy” at a news conference on Saturday in Ankara, the capital. He raised the death toll in the clashes to 265, with 1,440 people wounded, and he said 2,839 military personnel had been detained.

Early Saturday, soldiers surrendered on a bridge that traverses the Bosporus, one of two bridges that the military shut down as the coup attempt began Friday evening. Footage showed abandoned military clothing and helmets along the bridge. The government also moved on a military school in Istanbul, arresting dozens.

Disciplinary actions extended to the judicial system on Saturday as an oversight body, the High Council of Judges and Prosecutors, announced that 2,745 judges had been dismissed, the Anadolu agency reported.

That’s not a good sign. That looks like Erdoğan making himself more of a dictator than ever.



One way or another

Jul 16th, 2016 9:25 am | By

The BBC reports arrests in the Nice slaughter.

Five people believed to be linked to the man who killed 84 people in Nice are in police custody, the Paris prosecutor’s office says.

Three arrests were made on Saturday and two on Friday, including the man’s estranged wife, Le Monde reported.

Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel drove a lorry into crowds marking Bastille Day on the Promenade des Anglais on Thursday before he was shot dead by police.

So-called Islamic State claimed one of its followers carried out the attack.

A news agency linked to the group, Amaq Agency, said: “He did the attack in response to calls to target the citizens of the coalition that is fighting the Islamic State.”

Not everyone believes it though.

Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was known to the police as a petty criminal, but was “totally unknown to intelligence services… and was never flagged for signs of radicalisation,” prosecutor Francois Molins said.

However, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said he was “in [one] way or another” linked to radical Islam and Paris prosecutor Francois Molins said the attack bore the hallmarks of jihadist terrorism.

A neighbour of Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, who used to live in a high-rise block of flats on Boulevard Henri Sappia with his family, said he did not believe the 31-year-old was involved with IS.

Samiq, who did not want to give his surname, told the Press Association news agency: “I never saw him going to the Mosque. He was not a Muslim. During Ramadan I saw him smoking.”

Whatever. He wanted to kill a bunch of people for the fun of it, or he wanted to kill a bunch of people for the fun of it plus Allahu akbar.



Controversial, provocative, notoriety

Jul 16th, 2016 8:24 am | By

Well today is looking gruesome – Erdoğan is busy purging judges as “plotters” by way of making himself even more of a dictator, IS says Lahouaiej-Bouhlel was one of theirs, and Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian has been murdered by her brother for being Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian.

Pakistani social media celebrity Qandeel Baloch has been killed by her brother in an apparent ‘honour killing’ in the province of Punjab, police say.

Ms Baloch, 26, recently caused controversy by posting controversial pictures of herself on social media, including one alongside a Muslim cleric.

She caused controversy by being controversial. Got it.

This is, of course, the BBC yet again reporting violence from the point of view of the perpetrators, which I wish they would learn to stop doing. They did it with Salman Rushdie, with the Motoons, with Lars Vilks, with Charlie Hebdo, and now they’re doing it with Qandeel Baloch. She didn’t “cause controversy”; some people chose to consider her pictures of herself “controversial.”

Ms Baloch’s parents told The Express Tribune that she was strangled to death on Friday night following an argument with her brother.

They said her body was not discovered until Saturday morning. Her parents have been taken into custody, the Tribune reported.

Ms Baloch had gone to Punjab from Karachi because of the threat to her security, police say.

Maybe she thought she would be safer with her family? Poignant, isn’t it.

“[Her] brothers had asked her to quit modelling,” family sources quoted by the Tribune said.

Sources quoted by the newspaper said that Wasim was upset about her uploading controversial pictures online and had threatened her about it.

There again – the BBC has to help Wasim work up indignation at her, by saying yet again that her pictures are “controversial.” Listen, in Pakistan it’s “controversial” for a woman to walk around with a naked head; that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to see it that way.

Jill McGivering adds some analysis.

Qandeel Baloch used social media to find fame and the reactions there showed the feelings she inspired, from admiration to disgust.

Some called her death “good news” and even praised her suspected killer. Others said it was wrong to condone her murder, even if she was flawed. Some showed outright support.

Qandeel Baloch has been dubbed Pakistan’s Kim Kardashian. There are comparisons: the provocative selfies, the pursuit of celebrity, the controversial rise to notoriety.

Blamey blamey blamey, again. There’s no need for the BBC to label her selfies “provocative” or her status “notoriety.” She’s already dead – I don’t see why the Beeb needs to throw mud at her.

But in Pakistan, women, especially poor ones, still lack basic rights, from schooling to choosing a husband and violence against them is rife. The country struggles with sexuality and especially with “immodest” women.

The fact that many of Qandeel’s videos went viral suggests a titillating fascination with confident female sexuality – along with fear of its power and of her assertion of independence. However she lived her life, tweeted one, it was her life.

It was her life, but the BBC will pin pejorative labels on it after she’s been murdered, all the same.



Not just a few colonels

Jul 15th, 2016 3:51 pm | By

More from the BBC:

An army group in Turkey says it has taken over the country, with soldiers at strategic points in Istanbul and jets flying low in the capital, Ankara.

A statement read on TV said a “peace council” now ran the country and there was a curfew and martial law.

Erdogan is saying no it hasn’t, this is just some hotheads. He told the people to resist and that he’d be there to help as soon as possible.

PM Binali Yildirim had earlier denounced an “illegal action” by a military “group”, stressing it was not a coup. He said that the government remained in charge.

The military group’s statement on national broadcaster TRT, read by an announcer, said that democratic and secular rule of law had been eroded by the current government. There would be new constitution, it said.

This isn’t the first time secularism has been defended (or imposed, depending on your point of view) by the military.

One European Union source told Reuters that the military action “looks like a relatively well-orchestrated coup by a substantial body of the military, not just a few colonels”.

Visiting Moscow, US Secretary of State John Kerry said he hoped for peace and “continuity” in Turkey.

“Continuity” could mean a lot of things.



Would you prefer frying pan, or fire?

Jul 15th, 2016 3:41 pm | By

And now for something completely different – a military coup in Turkey. The BBC is live updating.

Summary

  1. A Turkish military statement read out on television says it has taken over power
  2. The prime minister says security forces have been called in to deal with the situation
  3. Military jets and helicopters are seen flying over the capital, Ankara
  4. Military vehicles are said to be blocking bridges in Istanbul and gunfire is heard
  5. Turkey soldiers launch ‘illegal action’

Then a frightening reminder:

New British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson ‘very concerned’

https://twitter.com/BorisJohnson/status/754071415612116992

Not reassuring.

Military coups are not legitimate, but neither is theocracy.



Merely to satisfy the cruelty

Jul 15th, 2016 11:29 am | By

The New York Times:

The toll of an attack on a Bastille Day fireworks celebration in the southern French city of Nice rose on Friday to 84 dead and 202 injured, as the government identified the assailant as a 31-year-old native of Tunisia, extended a national state of emergency and absorbed the shock of a third major terrorist attack in 19 months.

Starting around 10:45 p.m. Thursday, the attacker mowed down scores of victims in Nice with a rented 19-ton refrigerated truck before engaging in a gunfight with three police officers, who pursued him down a storied seaside promenade before finally killing him.

The Paris prosecutor, François Molins, identified the man as Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who was born on Jan. 3, 1985, and raised in Msaken, a town in northeastern Tunisia.

No organized group has said “We did it!” They do say they did it when they did it, because they’re proud of doing it. The fact that they haven’t said that is a strong hint that they didn’t do it.

Mr. Bouhlel had a history of petty crime, including theft, going back to 2010, and he received a six-month suspended sentence in March for assaulting a driver during an altercation in January.

“However, he is completely unknown by intelligence services, both at the national and local levels,” Mr. Molins said. “He has never been in any database or been flagged for radicalization.”

Maybe he wasn’t “radicalized.” Maybe he just wanted to kill a bunch of people, for the sheer glorious fun of it. Maybe he wanted to live out a fantasy. Mowing people down with a big truck is one fantasy a person can have, and maybe Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel simply wanted to do that – maybe there was no more ideology to it than that, nothing but a love of violence and not enough compassion to inhibit him from pursuing his love.

“There are many children, young children who had come to watch fireworks with their family, to have joy, to share happiness, delight, amazement, and who were struck, struck to death, merely to satisfy the cruelty of an individual — and maybe of a group,” Mr. Hollande said, flanked by Mr. Valls and Health Minister Marisol Touraine, after meeting with victims and medical workers at the Pasteur Hospital in Nice.

Maybe that was the only point. People were out having fun, including children, enjoying a fireworks display just as we did here in the US 11 days ago – maybe Bouhlel’s only goal was to fuck that up.

He’s been given plenty of role models lately though, role models who did have an ideology. It’s the hot new thing, picking out a place where people are crowded together – an airport, a bar, a football ground, a music theater, a busy street – and killing as many of those people as possible.

Pick your role models carefully.