List o’ Whoppers

Aug 4th, 2020 4:12 pm | By

Daniel Dale lists some of Trump’s lies in the Axios interview – some because they’re still reviewing it at CNN and there could be more, because, you know, Trump.

Many of Trump’s interviewers are right-wing sycophants who have no interest in challenging him. But Trump has defeated even his other interviewers by employing a strategy we can call the hit-and-run — saying dishonest stuff, then darting ahead to other dishonest stuff before the interviewer reacts.

Aka not letting other people get a word in. I just watched a 15 minute clip of the Swan interview, coronavirus section, and it’s maybe Trump’s one actual talent – the ability to keep the flow going no matter what nonsense he has to talk. He just keeps talking. It’s not a talent in the ordinary sense because it’s so infuriating and repulsive, but it does take a kind of skill. Can you imagine what a nightmare it must be to be around him all the time?

Swan had similar success when Trump returned to his laughably inaccurate claim that the virus is “under control,” which he has now been making for more than six months.

Trump: “Right now, I think it’s under control. I’ll tell you what –“

Swan: “How? 1,000 Americans are dying a day.”

Trump: “They are dying. That’s true. And you have — it is what it is. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing everything we can. It’s under control as much as you can control it.”

Again, Trump didn’t explicitly surrender. But Swan’s basic follow-up — a “how?” and a single key statistic — forced Trump into a de facto surrender (“It’s under control as much as you can control it”) and another revealing remark, “It is what it is.”

Trump made at least 17 additional false claims in the 35-minute interview. (We’re still reviewing the transcript, so the final total might be higher.)

An incident in Portland: When Swan mentioned “disturbing footage of people in fatigues beating the Navy veteran” in Portland, Trump said “no” repeatedly and then said, “Fake news.” (There was nothing fake about what Swan said. As Swan noted, the beating of protester Chris David was captured on video.)

The Portland courthouse: Trump claimed that the federal courthouse in Portland, which has endured damage from some of the protesters in the city, is a “$600 million building.” (The courthouse cost a reported $129 million to build in the 1990s; even with inflation, that is roughly $200 million in today’s dollars. Trump claimed last week that it was a “billion-dollar building.”)

South Korea’s death toll: Trump cast doubt on Swan’s correct statement that South Korea has 300 deaths from the coronavirus, saying, “You don’t know that.” When Swan pressed him on whether he thinks South Korea is faking its statistics, Trump said, “I won’t get into that because I have a very good relationship with the country. But you don’t know that.” (South Korea had precisely 301 confirmed deaths as of Tuesday; there is no basis to claim the country is faking its data. Many countries, including South Korea and the US, likely have more actual coronavirus deaths than have been confirmed to date, but Swan was correctly using the available numbers.)

Mail-in voting and fraud: Trump claimed, “There is no way you can go through a mail-in vote without massive cheating.” (There is no evidence of massive cheating with mail-in voting — and five states, including conservative Utah, have previously conducted fair elections almost entirely by mail.)

Black Americans: Trump claimed that he has done “more for the Black community than anybody with the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln, whether you like it or not.” When Swan asked him specifically if he thinks he did “more than Lyndon Johnson, who passed the Civil Rights Act,” Trump said yes. (We give Trump wide latitude to express opinions, but this one is ridiculous. Lincoln, who emancipated the slaves and won the Civil War, is a certain exception, not a possible exception; Johnson’s monumental Civil Rights Act and Voting Rights Act clearly dwarfed the impact of any of Trump’s policies.)

That’s just some of them.

It’s under control as much as you can control it

Aug 4th, 2020 12:46 pm | By

He’s bumpity-bumping down the stairs.

Donald Trump stumbled through his second damaging interview in as many weeks, floundering in a conversation with the news website Axios over key issues he is tasked with responding to as president.

In a lengthy discussion about the US’s poor response to coronavirus, Trump described the pandemic as “under control”.

Swan responded: “How? A thousand Americans are dying a day.”

“They are dying. That’s true. And you – it is what it is,” Trump said. “But that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing everything we can. It’s under control as much as you can control it.”

Ohhhhhhhhhh I see, “under control” means “as under control as we can get it, which is zero, because we’re not trying, and in fact we’re trying to make it worse.” That explains a lot.

The president then appeared unable to distinguish between different measurements of coronavirus deaths.

Trump brandished several pieces of paper with graphs and charts.

“United States is lowest in numerous categories. We’re lower than the world. Lower than Europe.”

“In what?” Swan asked. As it becomes apparent that Trump is talking about the number of deaths as a proportion of confirmed Covid-19 cases, Swan said: “Oh, you’re doing death as a proportion of cases. I’m talking about death as a proportion of population. That’s where the US is really bad. Much worse than Germany, South Korea.”

Trump responded: “You can’t do that.”

We can and we have to.

Sorry for all the pain

Aug 4th, 2020 12:20 pm | By

More on the apparent “tragic death of non-existent person” hoax from Ed Cara at Gizmodo:

A bizarre saga of events played out on social media over the weekend, embroiling much of the close-knit world of scientists, academics, and researchers on Twitter. It started with accusations that Arizona State University’s actions had exposed one of their faculty members, an Indigenous woman and anthropologist, to an ultimately fatal case of covid-19. But it ended with allegations that the death was a hoax, carried out by someone who also faked the supposed professor’s entire existence.

Given that many colleges and schools are debating if and how it’s possible to reopen physically this fall in the midst of the pandemic, the accusations of negligence on the part of Arizona State University carry a heavy weight. But many members of the science Twitter community now suspect that the academic who was the first to report the woman’s death, Tennessee-based neuroscientist BethAnn McLaughlin, has pulled off a catfishing scam for years, citing inconsistencies in the woman’s accounts of events in her now-gone tweets.

Wally’s fakery was very obvious. It still mystifies me that so many intelligent people were snookered by it. A fakery carried out entirely on Twitter would be a different thing, because it’s too much trouble to keep track of Person X’s tweets, so you might not notice fakery right away.

The case for McLaughlin being @sciencing_bi is largely circumstantial for the time being. Accounts on Twitter and Reddit have highlighted now-unverifiable tweets where it appears that @sciencing_bi used stock images to describe events that were supposedly happening in real life. One user I reached out to over Twitter mentioned an experience where they had contacted @sciencing_bi to volunteer her help in securing McLaughlin tenure at Vanderbilt University where she was then employed. Soon after, she received an invite to a Google Docs group, not from @sciencing_bi, but McLaughlin herself. Another user told me of a time when @sciencing_bi appeared to be in financial trouble and was soliciting donations over Venmo. However, the Venmo account they were asked to donate to belonged to McLaughlin. No one besides McLaughlin seems to have reported ever seeing @sciencing_bi in person.

She’s still standing by her story, it seems.

I asked what McLaughlin would say to the people who now believe that @sciencing_bi is an elaborate hoax, including those who had positive experiences with both of them. “I’m really sorry, for all the pain they’re feeling now,” she said.

Just the pain they’re feeling – not the causing of it.

The one salient point

Aug 4th, 2020 10:49 am | By

How that went:

Interviewer: John Lewis is lying in state in the US Capitol, how do you think history will remember John Lewis?

Trump: I don’t know. I really don’t know. I don’t know John Lewis. He chose not to come to my inauguration. He chose, uh – I never met John Lewis, actually, I don’t believe.

Interviewer: Do you find him impressive?

Trump: [pause with mouth open and disdainful “tsk” sound] Uhhh…I can’t say one way or the other. I find a lot of people impressive. I find many people not impressive – but – [shrug] no – but I didn’t uh – [hands come up in accordion gesture; meanwhile interviewer is asking “Do you find his story impressive?”] – he didn’t come to my inauguration. He didn’t come to my State of the Union speeches. [accordion gesture gets wider] And that’s OK. [pause] That’s his right. [pause] And, again, [more accordion gestures] nobody has done more [voice is an indignant whine now] for Black Americans than I have. [interviewer saying “I understand, I understand that”] He should have come. [still indignant whine] I think he made a big mistake.

That’s it. That’s this disgusting criminal pinhead’s response to the life and significance of John Lewis – He diDn’t coMe to MY inauGurAshun. That’s all that can find room in his horrible shrunken spite-riddled brain. No, he didn’t find John Lewis impressive; John Lewis didn’t come to his inauguration; he, Trump, has done more for Black Americans than anyone, obviously including John Lewis. Who, by the way, didn’t come to his inauguration.

This pampered soft greedy pig of a man who was at Fordham getting bone spurs deferments when John Lewis was getting his head split on the Edmund Pettus bridge has the fucking gall to say he’s done more for John Lewis’s cause than John Lewis ever did. This evil greedy lying pig of a man who systematically refused to rent apartments to Black Americans has the fucking gall to say he’s done more for Black Americans than John Lewis has.

It makes me angry.

Who matters

Aug 4th, 2020 9:59 am | By

An ego that blots out the sun and an empathy that can’t be found with any tool of human inquiry.

Lies and shamings

Aug 3rd, 2020 7:00 pm | By

Trump has been shouting at us again.

Donald Trump used his White House coronavirus press conference on Monday to repeat his opposition to lockdowns as a means of bringing the contagion under control, claiming falsely that under his leadership the US has done “as well as any nation”.

If by “as well as” he means “worse than” he’s right on the money.

On a day that the US had surpassed 4.7m confirmed cases of infection – more than a quarter of the global total – Trump tried to deflect criticism of his administration’s handling of the pandemic on to other countries.

Finland! Blame Finland! Also Senegal – why not? And how about Peru? Blame Peru!

He cited Spain, Germany, France, Australia and Japan as countries experiencing “significant flare ups” as the virus surges again. In fact, while Australia and Japan are experiencing renewed surges, their total incidence of disease remains a fraction of the catastrophe now sweeping across the US.

Ok but we invented Kentucky Fried Chicken, so it’s a tie.

Meanwhile he also turned on Birx, because of course he did.

While Trump has been in an ongoing public back-and-forth with Fauci, this is the first time he has singled out Birx, who has worked especially closely with the president, for a public shaming.

There’s always a first time. He’ll publicly shame anyone at any time; that’s who he is.

Let’s do this thing

Aug 3rd, 2020 3:11 pm | By

Sir about those tax returns sir.

A New York City prosecutor fighting to get President Donald Trump’s tax returns told a judge Monday he was justified in demanding them because of public reports of “extensive and protracted criminal conduct at the Trump Organization.”

In other words we have a hardened criminal as president of the US. Ain’t life grand.

Manhattan District Attorney District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. is seeking eight years of the Republican president’s personal and corporate tax records, but has disclosed little about what prompted him to request the records, other than part of the investigation related to payoffs to two women to keep them quiet about alleged affairs with Trump.

Probably a thousand newspaper articles about Trump’s criminal practices also had something to do with it.

In a court filing Monday, attorneys for Vance said the president wasn’t entitled to know the exact nature of the grand jury investigation.

They noted, though, that at the time the subpoena for the tax filings was issued to Trump’s accountants, “there were public allegations of possible criminal activity” at the president’s company “dating back over a decade.”

They cited several newspaper articles, including one in which the Washington Post examined allegations that Trump had a practice of sending financial statements to potential business partners and banks that inflated the worth of his projects by claiming they were bigger or more potentially lucrative than they were.

Which bears an uncanny resemblance to what he’s doing to all of us now. The economy is roaring back! The virus is going away! The US is awesome! Black lives don’t matter!

Vance’s lawyers urged U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero to swiftly reject Trump’s further arguments that the subpoenas were improper, saying the baseless claims were threatening the investigation.

“Every day that goes by is another day Plaintiff effectively achieves the ‘temporary absolute immunity’ that was rejected by this Court, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court,” Vance’s lawyers said.

And it’s another day a criminal squats in the Oval Office and tells us lies at press conferences.

Who is @Sciencing_Bi?

Aug 3rd, 2020 11:25 am | By

Weird occurrences on social media.

There’s an advocacy person called BethAnn McLaughlin who founded MeTooSTEM.

MeTooSTEM has accomplished much since it was founded in 2018 to fight sexual harassment in academic science. Since November alone, according to the group’s accounting, it has engaged with more than 750 individuals requesting assistance, filed hundreds of open-records requests about harassment cases and made dozens of complaints to funding agencies regarding researchers’ conduct.

The group has visited some 20 campuses to discuss federal laws governing gender-based discrimination and sexual misconduct in education, put on webinars and awarded $12,000 to advocates for women in science. Its founder BethAnn McLaughlin, also received the Disobedience Award from Massachusetts Institute of Techonolgy’s Media Lab last year, alongside Me Too movement found Tarana Burke and consultant and activist Sherry Marts.

But there have been complaints and criticisms. The Inside Higher Ed piece goes into some of them.

Then a new thing happened.

bethann mclaughlin

That sounds sad; tell us more about Sciencing_Bi.

For several years, academics and activists around the country interacted with the Twitter account @Sciencing_Bi, which was supposedly run by an LGBTQ Native American Anthropology professor at Arizona State University. They reacted with tributes and grief when a controversial former professor and anti-sexual harassment #metoo crusader named BethAnn McLaughlin announced on Twitter that @Sciencing_Bi had died of COVID-19, blaming the university where @Sciencing_Bi supposedly worked for making people teach on campus during the pandemic.

But there were some snags, one of them being that ASU said what? No professors have died here. Professors at ASU said what???? Why weren’t we told? Professors in Anthropology at ASU asked around and found all their colleagues not dead.

However, what unfolded next is a complex and bizarre tale of accusations and confusion, as academics and others on social media are now accusing McLaughlin herself of possibly being @Sciencing_Bi and masquerading as a fake Native American professor online, ASU is saying it can’t come up with a death of any professor from COVID-19 recently, and Twitter has suspended both the accounts of McLaughlin and the now mysterious @Sciencing_Bi (as of the early morning hours of August 3).

People who had been friendly with @Sciencing_Bi (Twitter friendly) were upset about the tragic news and are now upset in a different way.

“Sad to report @Sciencing_Bi died from COVID this evening,” McLaughlin wrote on July 31, 2020. “She was a fierce protector of people. She let me take my shoulders away from my ears knowing she was meaner and more loving than everyone else. No one has ever had my back like that. I don’t know what I’m going to do.” In a eulogy on Twitter, she spun an elaborate narrative, saying that @Sciencing_Bi wanted them to get matching tattoos in an indigenous language and texted her daily. “Please read her timeline. She was forced by her university to teach in person until April,” McLaughlin tweeted. “Campus closed and she was in the hospital a week later. Be mad about COVID but be more mad that BIPOC community is most vulnerable and underrepresented on campus. We are killing them.”

@Sciencing_Bi wrote about her supposed battle with COVID-19 in dramatic terms. “ASU kept teachers, staff and students on campus until April. That’s well after we knew this was a killer disease. Many got covid. Including me,” read a May 23 tweet by @Sciencing_Bi, whose name on Twitter was given as only “Alepo” next to a rainbow flag.

It’s just weird.

It reminds me of Wally Smith all those years ago.

Calling all bullies

Aug 3rd, 2020 9:40 am | By

Transwoman Dawn Ennis summons allies to bully the women who don’t want to include men in women’s sports:

Outsports has obtained the names of more than 300 women athletes who signed a letter sent to the Board of Governors of the National College Athletic Association last week, expressing their opposition to transgender inclusion.

No, not to “transgender inclusion”; to the inclusion of men in women’s sports. Include trans women by all means, but not competing against women.

The anti-trans group, Save Women’s Sports, collected the 309 names in the interest of pressuring the NCAA leadership ahead of its meeting this week.

The group is not anti-trans. It’s in the name – the group is pro-women’s sports.

In June, the NCAA announced it would consider what to do about that state’s new law, HB500, which bans trans student athletes from competing according to their authentic gender.

Because the issue is authentic sex, not “authentic gender,” which is meaningless. No doubt they do authentically think they think they think they feel like women, but their bodies remain the bodies of men, because thinking is not magic.

With hundreds of women supporting its effort, Save Women’s Sports sent its letter asking the NCAA for a “fair and level playing field” for women’s sports — coded language which means the group opposes trans women being allowed to compete with women who are cisgender…

Well now who is really using “coded language” here? Yes, the group does oppose trans women being allowed to compete against women, because trans women have male bodies. That’s not “coded,” it’s just the reality. It’s men who identify as women calling us “women who are cisgender” who are really using coded language, and reversing reality in the process. They’re appropriating the word “women” and then accusing us of being fakes. That takes a lot of gall…the kind of gall male people are encouraged to develop when it’s time to bully women.

Save Our Women’s Sports told Outsports in a tweet, “We don’t have anything to prove to you. The NCAA has the names and that is all that matters.”

And now we do, too, and it’s up to the athletes who signed the letter to answer for it.

Openly bullying. Your bristles are showing, Dawn!

Despite what some may say, this is not a witch-hunt. We oppose all violence, especially the significantly greater incidents of violent attacks on trans people, and murders. compared to the number of threats that cisgender opponents of trans inclusion have claimed and reported.

How about: compared to women? I think you’ll find that women are more the targets of male violence than men are the targets of female violence.

Ennis updated the post to add a tweet from Linda Blade, apparently thinking it makes Blade look bad. Delusion is a dangerous drug.

Guest post: Shopping for favorable reviews

Aug 3rd, 2020 9:05 am | By

Originally a comment by Claire on Losing sight of women’s rights.

If you have not witnessed these kind of shenanigans, then you are lucky. I am aware of several, including stories about the infamous Wakefield autism paper that should have gotten the editor fired, although in this case it was the other way around.

Two people I know were reviewers, who roundly rejected the paper citing grave concerns about methodology, result and conclusions. One said to me that they didn’t even think the introduction was good, failing to cite some seminal work that would have rather undermined his central premise. Two bad reviews from respected authors in the field should have been enough to kill it. Instead the editor (or more likely the associate editor) reviewer shopped until they got the number of reviews they needed to proceed to publication.

It was outrageously unethical behavior and it’s always been disappointing to me that the Lancet did not thoroughly audit their processes afterwards. Nor was the internal audit at the Royal Free any more than window dressing. Dismissing it as one bad apple, no attempt was made to discover how a bad apple was able to operate with impunity without ethics approval. Despite the fact they supported him long after it was clear something fishy was going on.

I’m an associate editor for a journal and I can tell you it’s hard getting reviewers. To collect as many as this one did, is very unusual, not to mention a lot of work. It still staggers me that every step of the peer review process, which is meant to prevent this kind of thing failed.

The same is true in this instance. If a paper has been accepted and does not contain lies or inaccuracies, how does someone biased get into the process?

Claire adds: I would state that I am not a first-hand witness to these events. I am relating to you only what I was told, although I have no reason to doubt its veracity.

A fair playing field for women and girls

Aug 3rd, 2020 8:59 am | By

After three years of legal battles

Aug 3rd, 2020 8:25 am | By

From the Department of New Milestones for Women

A transgender female prisoner received her gender confirmation surgery after three years of legal battles, her attorney Lori Rifkin confirmed to CNN Tuesday.

Adree Edmo has been in custody of the Idaho Department of Correction since 2012 and petitioned for her gender confirmation surgery in 2017.

She was convicted of sexual assault of a 15-year-old boy while he was sleeping, according to court records.

That is, he was convicted of sexual assault of a 15-year-old boy while he (the boy) was sleeping. That isn’t something a woman did, it’s something a man did. Statistics on crime need to be accurate. Women are much less likely to rape teenage boys than men are. Reporting on crime need to be accurate too, especially crimes of violence, especially predatory violence.

No Dunkin for Punkin

Aug 2nd, 2020 5:58 pm | By

Goodness, he is cross.

Barr’s unswerving loyalty to Trump

Aug 2nd, 2020 5:28 pm | By

Barr’s performance on Capitol Hill last week underlined how thoroughly he works for Trump and not for us.

During the five-hour session on Capitol Hill in Washington this week, Barr made clear why he has been dubbed Donald Trump’s faithful protector and personal henchman. He defended using federal forces in US cities, denied giving Trump’s allies favorable treatment and demurred on issues such as foreign election interference or whether November’s poll can be postponed.

For critics, it was proof positive that Barr’s unswerving loyalty to the president has torn down the wall that separates the White House and justice department and ensures law enforcement operates independent of politics. Some believe he now poses an existential threat to democracy itself.

That seems true by definition. If the guy at the top of the legal system is working for the criminal president instead of for the country, of course that’s an existential threat to democracy at least in the US.

“Because of his position as the attorney general, he has control over a lot of what’s acceptable and what isn’t under the law up until the point where the federal judiciary can stop him. It makes him very dangerous, especially when you’re dealing with a president who has no regard for the constitution or the rule of law,” said Tara Setmayer, a former Republican communications director on Capitol Hill.

A president who has no regard for the constitution or the rule of law and is in fact a life-long criminal.

Matthew Miller, a former director of the justice department’s public affairs office, said: “Bill Barr has gone off the deep end like the entire Republican party. His journey is just the same journey the rest of the Republican party has gone on which is very conservative, but also he’s had his brain pickled by years of Fox News.”

Miller added: “I think he has all of Trump’s bad intentions but with little of Trump’s incompetence. You combine Trump’s bad intentions with someone who is actually competent and mastering the levers of government and it’s fairly dangerous.”

Meanwhile they’re killing the post office in order to kneecap the election. Bumpy road ahead.

How to raise funds

Aug 2nd, 2020 5:00 pm | By

Oh look, how funny, haha.

K-9 demonstration of dogs attacking a guy in a Kaepernick shirt.

The Guardian reports the Navy says it’s sorry.

The US Naval Special Warfare Command said Sunday it is investigating a video that showed military working dogs attacking a stand-in wearing a Colin Kaepernick jersey during a demonstration at the Navy Seal Museum last year.

The video, first posted to Instagram in January 2019, resurfaced on social media on Sunday morning. The caption read: “Colin Kaepernick stand in Josh gets attacked by 5 Navy SEAL dogs for not standing during the National Anthem at a Navy SEAL Museum fundraiser.”

Yes, that’s hilarious, staging dog attacks on an activist for protesting our pesky habit of murdering black people who go for a run or buy Skittles or sell cigarettes. How dare an activist protest police murders instead of getting all reverent and solemn about our precious National White Anthem? Send in the dogs.

“The inherent message of this video is completely inconsistent with the values and ethos of Naval Special Warfare and the US Navy,” the statement said. “We are investigating the matter fully, and initial indications are that there were no active duty Navy personnel or equipment involved with this independent organization’s event.”

The Navy Seal Museum, located in Fort Pierce, Florida, is a non-profit “dedicated solely to preserving the history of the US Navy Seals and their predecessors,” according to its website.

So the museum is independent of the Navy? Not a government institution? If so the Navy probably can’t tell them to knock it off.

Losing sight of women’s rights

Aug 2nd, 2020 12:08 pm | By

The authors of the paper issued a statement on the attempt to shut them up:

This time last year, our article ‘Losing sight of women’s rights: the unregulated introduction of gender self-identification as a case study of policy capture in Scotland’ was published in the journal Scottish Affairs.

A couple of months prior to publication, we were made aware of an effort from within the publishing house, Edinburgh University Press (EUP), to prevent publication on the grounds that our article was transphobic.

This clarifies a point I didn’t fully grasp via the Times article – EUP simply publishes the journal Scottish Affairs, it doesn’t edit it or oversee it. The officious complainer works for EUP, not for Scottish Affairs. That makes the intervention all the more ludicrous and outrageous.

When EUP senior staff received an internal memo with this accusation, which we strongly dispute and which was evidenced only by a disagreement over our use of the word “woman”, they shared it outside the organisation. Before doing so, they appear to have made no further assessment of its reasonableness and gave us no opportunity to comment. Without our knowledge, despite the article having been accepted for publication by the journal editor, EUP editors sent the unanonymised article to the University of Edinburgh legal team, on the basis that two of us were understood to be employees of the University.

EUP is on the record as having done this to establish whether the content of our article breached the University’s Dignity and Respect policy, an internal guidance document setting out behaviour expected of University staff and students.

This was an exceptional breach of normal practice.

The University legal team declined to give an opinion on compatibility with internal university policy, citing academic freedom and the right of the journal’s editorial board to publish. The EUP, quite exceptionally, also subjected the journal to questions about its internal processes.

It’s as if all the rules get re-written for this one tiny category of people – men who say they are women.

This was a shocking experience for the three of us, both at a personal and professional level, and also because of the implications for freedom of speech and academic freedom. We included an account of this episode in our submission to the Scottish Parliament on the Scottish Government’s Hate Crime and Public Order Bill, as we believe that had this happened with the provisions in the bill enacted, the proposed “stirring up” provisions could easily have been invoked by those making wholly unreasonable accusations against us, and the stakes would immediately have been much higher for all concerned, however much we contested the reading of our piece.

We remain grateful to the journal for standing by its original decision to publish.

Dr Kath Murray, Lucy Hunter Blackburn and Lisa Mackenzie

It’s grotesque.

Prophylactic censorship

Aug 2nd, 2020 11:34 am | By

Let’s shut it down just in case.

Three female academics have complained about an attempt to censor an article that had been accepted for publication in an academic journal published by Edinburgh University Press (EUP).

The women say they were falsely accused of being transphobic as a way to silence their views and stifle academic freedom. In recent years several women academics have had talks cancelled, articles refused or speaking dates withdrawn after transgender activists accused them of transphobia.

PhD student Lucy Hunter Blackburn and research fellow Dr Kath Murray, both at Edinburgh University, together with independent policy analyst Lisa Mackenzie make their claim in a submission to the Scottish parliament.

They are giving evidence in a consultation on a hate crime bill, which would make it an offence to “stir up hatred” in relation to transgender people.

Ah yes “stir up hatred” – by saying for instance that only women have a cervix.

Blackburn, Murray and Mackenzie think the bill is a bad idea because such accusations are way too easy to make, and they cite their experience trying to publish an article that argues “that organisations ignored the effect on women when making policies to improve the treatment of transwomen in prisons and other places.” As in: make things nicer for trans women in prison by housing them with actual women, and never mind what the actual women think about that, let alone what will actually happen to them.

The article was peer-reviewed and accepted by the journal Scottish Affairs, published by EUP. Before it appeared in print the women say “an attempt was made from within [the]… publisher to prevent publication”.

They say “a member of EUP staff, who […] would not normally have any role in relation to journal content, wrote in an internal note that they had been passed the article and had concerns about it”. The note complained that the article “both expresses anti-trans sentiment and also uses terms that are discriminatory and insulting towards trans women (for example, the use of the word ‘women’ as specifically excluding trans women)”.

Which sounds as if some very young very clueless woke person read the article sniffing for Forbidden Words and found a couple – joy! A chance to shut down a woman – no, better than that, three women! Three women defending women’s rights! Ecstasy!

Senior staff at EUP contacted Professor Michael Rosie, the editor of Scottish Affairs, to highlight the concern, without telling the authors. The press also sent a copy of the article to the university’s legal team. The academics believe this was an attempt to see whether the article contravened policies on “dignity and respect”.

One wonders why. One wonders why senior staff didn’t just ignore the member of staff who would not normally have any role in relation to journal content. In fact one wonders why senior staff didn’t tell the member of staff to fuck all the way off.

Fortunately the lawyers in effect did it for them, declining to get involved and saying it was a question of academic freedom. But! Irrelevant member of staff still gets revenge.

The article was published after the board was consulted and backed publication. The journal has since commissioned a “formal critical response” to the women’s article, which will be published in Scottish Affairs in January.

Don’t bother, we know what it will say.

Hunter Blackburn said: “It was really shocking to discover that an internal email written by a member of staff at EUP had been shared outside the press without our knowledge.” She said the note “made horrible claims about our motivation, alleging transphobia. We are not transphobic. Of course, I understand that people will disagree about issues but we were simply trying to have a debate and put our point of view.”

Ah but the definition of “transphobic” is “anything I [random person of the moment] disagree with.” This means there’s no such thing as not being transphobic.

Hard & smart

Aug 2nd, 2020 10:28 am | By

Trump continues to think he knows better than Fauci.

Donald Trump has again publicly contradicted Dr Anthony Fauci, claiming the US’s top infectious disease expert is “wrong” to attribute the surge in US coronavirus cases to the country’s failure to sufficiently shut down its economy.

The US president came in hot on Saturday after a lengthy-for-him 15-hour hiatus from Twitter, responding to a clip of Fauci’s testimony before Congress from Friday with the largely debunked claim that Covid-19 cases in the US are surging exclusively due to increased testing.

“Wrong!” Trump said. “We have more cases because we have tested far more than any other country, 60,000,000. If we tested less, there would be less cases. How did Italy, France & Spain do? Now Europe sadly has flare ups. Most of our governors worked hard & smart. We will come back STRONG!”

A guy who confuses testing with creating thinks he knows enough to say Anthony Fauci is wrong about the numbers.

The idea that case numbers are high only because diagnostic testing has exp[a]nded has been continually shot down by Trump’s own top public health officials, as the increase has also revealed the percentage of tests coming back positive for the virus is climbing across nearly the entire country.

“A high rate of positive tests indicates a government is only testing the sickest patients who seek out medical attention and is not casting a wide enough net,” according to the Johns Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center, a primary source of updated information on the pandemic.

How about we stop testing anyone, and then it will disappear. Right?

The beloved community

Aug 1st, 2020 5:59 pm | By

John Lewis wrote us a farewell letter in the New York Times, which is not behind the paywall.

While my time here has now come to an end, I want you to know that in the last days and hours of my life you inspired me. You filled me with hope about the next chapter of the great American story when you used your power to make a difference in our society. Millions of people motivated simply by human compassion laid down the burdens of division. Around the country and the world you set aside race, class, age, language and nationality to demand respect for human dignity.

That is why I had to visit Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, though I was admitted to the hospital the following day. I just had to see and feel it for myself that, after many years of silent witness, the truth is still marching on.

Emmett Till was my George Floyd. He was my Rayshard Brooks, Sandra Bland and Breonna Taylor. He was 14 when he was killed, and I was only 15 years old at the time. I will never ever forget the moment when it became so clear that he could easily have been me. In those days, fear constrained us like an imaginary prison, and troubling thoughts of potential brutality committed for no understandable reason were the bars.

Though I was surrounded by two loving parents, plenty of brothers, sisters and cousins, their love could not protect me from the unholy oppression waiting just outside that family circle. Unchecked, unrestrained violence and government-sanctioned terror had the power to turn a simple stroll to the store for some Skittles or an innocent morning jog down a lonesome country road into a nightmare. If we are to survive as one unified nation, we must discover what so readily takes root in our hearts that could rob Mother Emanuel Church in South Carolina of her brightest and best, shoot unwitting concertgoers in Las Vegas and choke to death the hopes and dreams of a gifted violinist like Elijah McClain.

Morgan Freeman reads the letter.

Disastrous and deadly

Aug 1st, 2020 5:04 pm | By

The news that Jared Kushner wanted the virus to kill off Democrats hasn’t gone over well with everyone.

In the wake of devastating new reporting by Vanity Fair, a chorus of voices Friday called for the immediate resignation of Jared Kushner, a top White House advisor and the son-in-law of President Donald Trump, for disastrous—and deadly—failures by the administration that appear to have put the political desires of the president above the public health needs of the American people.

“Imagine the administration had intel on an imminent terrorist attack that would kill over 100,000 people, and chose to do nothing because it was politically easier,” tweeted Matt Duss, foreign policy advisor for Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), on his personal account. “That’s what we have here. We need to be talking about accountability. For all of it.”

If only he would go poof into thin air.