Notes and Comment Blog


Women who eat anywhere ever

May 8th, 2014 12:05 pm | By

This seems useful and healthy – this Facebook group called Women Who Eat on Tubes*, which features sneak photos of just that.

Some women had a picnic on the tube last month to mock the whole disgusting thing.

Sarah Hardcastle, in a T-shirt reading “women who eat wherever the fuck they want”, produced a bottle of juice neatly relabelled “bloody feminist cocktail”.

“It’s very bitter,” she explained.

The gathering in a London underground train carriage was a response to a controversial Facebook group entitled Women Who Eat on Tubes, featuring surreptitious mobile phone photographs of just that.

Hardcastle, an advertising copywriter, was already wearing the T-shirt when she heard Lucy Brisbane McKay confront film-maker Tony Burke on the Radio 4 Today programme on Friday, and realised gratefully that she and her friends were not the only ones who found his Facebook and Tumblr pages creepily misogynist.

Oh, pshaw. It’s important to monitor the behavior of women in public so that they will be sure to either do the right thing (as determined by randos with camera phones) or stay home.

It was, Burke said, an art project, mere reportage – “an observational study”.

Julia Bohanna disagreed. “I write about art and that’s rubbish,” she said. “You only have to look at captions commenting on the size of a burger a woman is eating. It’s voyeuristic bullying, turned on a group which may include many vulnerable people. The mere idea that these photographs could be called high art is borderline hilarious.”

I think “contemptible” is the word, more than “hilarious.”

Hardcastle said: “Some people have asked us: ‘Why are you standing up about this? Why aren’t you tackling a real cause?’ But you can’t do everything – and when you can do something, it’s better than doing nothing.”

In other words, some people were all “Dear Muslima” – so fuck them.

* “Tubes” in the sense of the London Underground. “On Tubes is slightly odd, now I think about it; “on the Tube” would seem more normal to me, but “on Tubes” just means on different trains on the Tube.

 

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Guest post: Women in Comics–an Independent Research Report, by Erica

May 8th, 2014 10:01 am | By

Jen Phillips’s 11-year-old daughter wrote a research paper for school which is so good it needs to be published here, which Jen gave me permission to do.

It was first published on J. Robert Deans’s blog in UPDATE #2: Hey, Ladies! (You Are) Comics!

Women in Comics–an Independent Research Report, by Erica

Women In Comics: Panel One

Women In Comics: By Erica

The topic I chose is female superheroes in comics. I’ve always been interested in comics, especially when there is a female main character. I noticed some differences in the way female characters are represented compared to male characters. I think it is important that women and men are represented as equals, so I decided to dig deeper into the creation of the characters. I learned some interesting thing that I will now share with you!

Women In Comics: Panel Two

Black Widow

First, I noticed a big difference in how men and women were drawn. Almost all the men have better powers stances, like “I’m ready for action” and the women look graceful and dainty. It seems as if they can’t look like a warrior and pretty at the same time. Most male superheroes are drawn with normal athletic bodies and usually have adequate clothing. Also almost all the females have long hair that is always down, which is easy to grab in combat Not very practival right? The females often have exaggerated body parts and body shapes, and physically impossible  poses. This matters because if you were a little boy and you read a comic with a great male superhero who saves the day and looks heroic too, then you would want to be that person. But if you were a little girl and all the females in your book had skimpy costumes then you would most likely not want to be them.

Women In Comics: Panel Three

Susan Richards: The Invisible Woman, and a wife and mother

Women In Comics: Panel Four

Jessica Walters: the She-Hulk, and a practicing attorney

We all know superheroes don’t fight every second right? Outside of fighting, most superheroes are important to the world in other ways. For example,  She-Hulk is a lawyer, Captain Marvel is an airforce pilot, Sue Storm (A.K.A. The Invisible Woman) is a mother and a wife, and Storm (from X-Men) is a teacher. These jobs are all very important, but if you compare them to the men’s jobs, there are some differences.  For example, Iron Man is a brilliant billionare inventor, Reed Richards (Mr.Fantasic and Sue Storm’s husband) is a scientific genius, as is Peter Parker (A.K.A. Spiderman).  These men are all portrayed as super smart and acomplished. The women’s jobs are not on the same level.

Women In Comics: Panel Five

Susan Storm, from team “mascot” to its most important member

Superheros get their powers in many different ways. Some, like Mystique, Storm, Emma Frost, and Jean Grey from “X-Men” are born mutants. Others, like the Invisible Woman and the rest of the Fantastic Four, got their powers from being exposed to space radiation. Not every superhero has super powers though, for example Black Widow is great at martial arts and uses high tech equipment. There are many different types of powers, but in general male superheroes have offensive powers for attacking, while the female superheroes have defensive powers for protecting themselves and the team.  I was surprised when I relized that the types of powers weren’t equal.

Women In Comics: Panel Six

Unrealistic Poses

Change can be big or change can be small. The changes of the female characters over the years were big and small. In WWII, (1940s) there were a lot of patriotic superheros. Most of the female characters were drawn so the soliders would have pretty pictures of women to look at. Also in the 1940s, more than half the time Female characters were shown, they were doing chores. If the female characters had children, the child was more likely to be a son. During the 1960s, comic artists tried to draw female characters more equal and powerful but that didn’t work because that wasn’t what the buyers wanted, so they went back to drawing them with not much clothing and unrealistic body shapes and poses. In the past most female characters were sidekicks or assistant to the main MALE superhero. In the past few decades, female characters have slowly gotten more speaking roles and more equal partnerships.

Women In Comics: Panel Seven

Why can’t all comics be like this?

Women In Comics: Panel Eight

Women In Comics: Panel Eight

As history shows, comics have ben mostly drawn for boys and men. Even though changes have happened over the years, in 2010 the editor of DC comics said “The superhero story has been more appealing to boys than girls”. This attitude explains why most comics are still made for male readers. Recently though, more female writers and artists are working in comics and have been giving female characters more speaking lines, cooler roles, and more diversity. But not everybody is happy with these changes. Last month,  Janelle Asselin, a comic book editor and writer, wrote an article criticizing the cover art of the new Teen Titans series. Ms. Asselin thought the teenage girl on the cover was drawn inappropriately and also thought it was bad that the only person of color on the team was way in the background. She felt that the cover art would probably not attract new readers who were girls or people of color. After her article was published, she received hundreds of angry letters and even threats of violence. I can’t believe people would treat a real person that badly over an opinion she had about a comic book character.

I was very interested in learning more about this topic. I don’t like how the comic industry is disrespecting women. There have been some changes in how the characters have been portrayed since they were first created, but the genre is still not very open to women.  As a fairly educated comic book reader, some of the pictures that I see now make me feel uncomfortable and disappointed that someone would draw a human being like that. I think a lot of the stuff I learned was very important and I think comic artists and editors still have a long way to go before their comics will appeal to female readers.  Maybe they can put more women on the offensive side and more men on the defensive side, not completely switching the two, but making them more equal.  I hope some day all the comics will be more equal and diverse. After all, there are more ways to be super than looking super!

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Also sentenced to 1,000 lashes

May 8th, 2014 9:28 am | By

Major English language media are now reporting the horrendous news about the new and even more barbaric sentence imposed on Raif Badawi.

The BBC reports.

A Saudi court has imprisoned blogger Raif Badawi for 10 years for “insulting Islam” and setting up a liberal web forum, local media report.

He was also sentenced to 1,000 lashes and ordered to pay a fine of 1 million riyals ($266,000; £133,000).

I would put the 1000 lashes first.

Mr Badawi, the co-founder of a website called the Liberal Saudi Network, was arrested in 2012.

A Saudi newspaper close to the government reported that he had lost his appeal against an earlier, more lenient sentence of seven years and three months in jail and 600 lashes.

Makes the blood run cold, doesn’t it, when a sentence of seven years and three months in jail and 600 lashes for atheist opinion and a liberal web forum is called “more lenient”?

Amnesty International describes him as a “prisoner of conscience” and has called for his release.

“Raif Badawi is the latest victim to fall prey to the ruthless campaign to silence peaceful activists in Saudi Arabia,” it said in a statement.

Last October a Saudi journalist was freed after spending a year and a half in prison for writing insulting tweets about the Prophet Muhammad.

Hamza Kashgari fled Saudi Arabia for Malaysia in 2012 but was extradited just days later. He was released last year after making a public apology.

Way to make everyone love Islam, Saudi Arabia – keep telling the world that refusal to love Islam gets you fined and imprisoned and whipped ONE THOUSAND TIMES. Yes that should work well.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Girls hogging the microphone again

May 7th, 2014 5:52 pm | By

Well thank fuck somebody is asking the real question about the kidnapped and enslaved schoolgirls in Nigeria. Noah Rothman at Medialite is asking it.

This focus on Boko Haram from both the media and the government is an unqualified good. The press arguably increased the pressure on global governments to do something about this backwards group of terrorists. But Boko Haram is not a new phenomenon. It was not long ago that some – including this author – were asking why this group’s atrocities were not generating any attention in the press.

On February 25, between 40 and 59 children were killed by the fundamentalist militant group. Early that morning, Boko Haram terrorists attacked a boarding school and shot many of children, aged 11 to 18, while they slept. Some of the students were gunned down as they attempted to flee. Others had their throats slit. In some buildings, Boko Haram militants locked the doors and set the building alight. The occupants were burned alive.

All of the victims were boys. Reports indicated that the young girls the militants encountered were spared. According to the BBC, the militants told the girls to flee, get married, and shun the western education to which they were privy.

Beyond wire reports and a handful of segments on globally-focused outlets like NPR, this atrocity went unremarked upon in the popular news media.

February 25 was not Boko Haram’s first atrocity. By March, more than 1,000 people had been killed in the country’s northeast since the first of the year. Prior to Boko Haram’s shift in tactics, from wholesale slaughter of young men to the kidnapping of young women, the group traveled from village to village where they killed children and razed buildings with near impunity.

The massacre in February prompted me to ask what the press found lacking in story surrounding Boko Haram’s atrocities that they would not cover it extensively. Was it a geographical bias? Was reporting from Western Africa more difficult than Beslan, Russia? There, hundreds of school children were massacred in 2004, and that event comprehensively covered in the Western press. Maybe there was simply an ethnic bias at play, and American audiences were prejudged to care less about atrocities in Africa than in Europe.

But the events of the last month have demonstrated that none of these explanations were accurate. Apparently, the press simply needed the right reason to cover this terrorist group and their brutal tactics. But an even more disturbing question needs to be asked now: why did the press spring to action when young women were kidnapped, but were virtually unmoved when it was young boys who were being slaughtered and burned alive?

Yes, that’s the important question here.

 

 

 

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Bring them back

May 7th, 2014 5:44 pm | By

Malala Fund’s photo.

Photo: Michelle Obama: #BringBackOurGirls.

 

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



No human rights for Pakistan then

May 7th, 2014 5:34 pm | By

A Pakistani human rights lawyer was shot to death in his office, AFP and Dawn report.

Human Rights Advocate Rashid Rehman Khan was gunned down by unidentified attackers in Multan, DawnNews reported late on Wednesday night.

Initial reports suggest that Khan was targeted by two gunmen inside his office at Kachehri Chowk.

Because of the human rights I suppose? That’s blasphemy, is it? Yes, of course it is. Lawyers should be defending the prophet’s rights, not human rights.

Advocate Rashid Rehman Khan was a coordinator for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP). The senior lawyer was defending a university lecturer accused of blasphemy and had complained that he had been receiving threats on his life.

The HRCP had voiced serious concern over the threats extended to Khan.

The Supreme Court advocate had submitted an application with the District Bar Association president Sher Zaman Qureshi last month, saying he was threatened by two lawyers and two other persons who asked him not to appear in the case he was representing.

Rehman was representing Junaid Hafeez, a lecturer at Bahauddin Zakariya University.

Hafeez was known for his liberal views at the university and the case of blasphemy was registered after pressure from right-wing student groups, said a student, who wished not to be named.

What kind of pressure? The kind of “pressure” that was applied to Rashid Rehman Khan?

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Wear the P

May 7th, 2014 4:56 pm | By

Luke O’Neil at Medialite warns that there are risks in mocking the self-satisfied obliviousness of haplessly privileged college kids, who could become embittered Republicans as a result.

But screw it, let’s do it anyway. It’s unlikely we’re going to find a better candidate for a ideological stoning than Tal Fortgang, of the New Rochelle Fortgangs, who courageously struck out against the oppressive climate of basic cultural awareness and bare minimum human decency that has despoiled college campuses everywhere by penning a whinging invective against the concept of “checking your privilege” in The Princeton Tory. The piece was republished by Time, and a profile of the Rosa Parks of Ivy League white guys was published by The New York Times yesterday, something that always happens to people without privilege.

No, it always happens to people who work hard, like Tal Fortgang.

Fortgang, as many Ivy League students often do in their first few months on campus, found himself being challenged by a concept from outside of his hermetic culture bubble, when classmates began telling him to “check your privilege.” Also like most entitled white guys, upon finding himself on the opposite end of the entire world’s fawning approval, he started crying about it.

“The phrase, handed down by my moral superiors, descends recklessly, like an Obama-sanctioned drone, and aims laserlike at my pinkish-peach complexion, my maleness, and the nerve I displayed in offering an opinion rooted in a personal Weltanschauung.”

Fox News and other conservative outlets, perhaps reeling from the vacuum created by the Cliven Bundy-shaped hole in their hero narrative, picked up the story as well.

Instead of stopping to consider why so many people around him had begun suggesting he may want to question where some of his opinions come from, Fortgang tap-danced through a series of aggrieved conservative cliches, practically reaching Reverse Racism Bingo before the end of his second paragraph.

And that will be why Time saw fit to publish it. “So many clichés collected in one place by one so young – this is for us.”

Looking through the rest of Fortgang’s [Twitter] timeline you’ll find many other caustic clichéd opinions you’d expect from a young, clueless, aggressively aggrieved conservative. Actually, feminists are the ones with the discriminatory problem, seems to be a common theme.

The cognitive dissonance is just too good to pass up. Sure, my father became a successful businessman, he says, but what does that have to do with me? His father before him didn’t have it so great.

I’m pretty sure almost every person of privilege could say the same. I come from a relatively comfortable background, but if you go back a few generations my ancestors were shitting in holes in the ground, so therefore everything I think and say is good.

What follows in the rest of the piece is a detour into the greatest hits of “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” mythologizing. Maybe if people moaning about privilege simply worked harder and stopped worrying about what other people have, then they’d be in a position of privilege, like me!

Well that’s what America means. If you work hard and ignore all possible sources of structural inequality, then you can wear your P for Privilege with pride!

 

 

 

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Call things by their right names

May 7th, 2014 11:51 am | By

The Guardian tells us there are FGM “parties” in the UK. No punch, no cheese straws, no gossip, just carving up of little girls’ genitals.

The cutting of girls at female genital mutilation “parties” is still going on in Britain and not just taking place abroad, healthcare experts have told MPs.

The Commons home affairs select committee has heard that “cutters” – often older women – are flown into Britain for the events, at which as many as a dozen girls may be operated on.

“Operated on”? Don’t be silly, Graun – the cutters are not surgeons, and what they do is not an operation. They carve up little girls’ genitals.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



The privilege is the absence of barriers that exist for other people

May 7th, 2014 10:49 am | By

You may not have noticed this (I kid), but talking about privilege doesn’t always work out. If it did, we wouldn’t be hearing so much about that guy Tal Fortgang, who is so remote from having any privilege that major media are paying close attention to his lack of privilege. Mychal Denzel Smith explains in The Nation why it all goes wrong.

When people with privilege hear that they have privilege, what they hear is not, “Our society is structured so that your life is more valued than others.” They hear, “Everything, no matter what, will be handed to you. You have done nothing to achieve what you have.” That’s not strictly true, and hardly anyone who points out another’s privilege is making that accusation. There are privileged people who work very hard. The privilege they experience is the absence of barriers that exist for other people.

But they don’t grasp that, because they’re not aware of the barriers that exist for other people, because they’re not other people. That’s the “privilege” they have. It’s so fatally easy to translate lack of awareness of X to what you think is awareness that not-X. I know this; I catch myself doing it all the time. It’s one of the fast thinking mistakes we make. It needn’t be an accusation, it’s just reality.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Benign acknowledgment

May 7th, 2014 9:57 am | By

One thing Kennedy said in the Greece ruling -

That the First Congress provided for the appointment of chaplains only days after approving language for the First Amendment demonstrates that the Framers considered legislative prayer a benign acknowledgment of religion’s role in society.

Well if so, the Framers were wrong. One, it’s not automatically “benign”; two, it’s a lot more than a mere acknowledgment; three, religion’s role in society is not necessarily something that should be encouraged, let alone imposed.

I for one don’t consider it at all benign for a major branch of government to give its imprimatur to the fanciful idea that there’s a Big But Absent Person in charge of us all and paying attention to our “prayers.” It’s a silly childish belief on a par with belief in fairies or ghosts, and it’s only this kind of supposedly “benign” public deference to it that allows to many people to think otherwise. It’s far from being just an acknowledgment; it is an endorsement.

Religion’s role in society is a mixed bag at best. There’s no obvious reason for Congress to “acknowledge” that role at all, and in any case hiring a chaplain to deliver a daily prayer is not acknowledgement but participation.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Boko Haram has a busy day

May 7th, 2014 9:33 am | By

CNN reports:

Details emerged Wednesday of an apparent Boko Haram attack on a Nigerian village in which at least 150 people died, the latest in a series of attacks and abductions of schoolgirls attributed to the group.

Militants dressed in military uniforms, backed by armored personnel carriers and shouting “God is great” attacked Gamboru Ngala Monday afternoon, firing rocket-propelled grenades and tossing improvised bombs into a crowded outdoor marketplace, witnesses told CNN Wednesday.

They then set fire to buildings where people had tried to take shelter from the violence, the witnesses said.

The fighters also attacked the police station during the 12-hour assault, initially facing stiff resistance. They eventually used explosives to blow the roof off the building, witnesses said. Fourteen police officers were found dead inside, they said.

The final death toll could be closer to 300, Nigerian Sen. Ahmed Zanna told CNN.

“Militants”? “Fighters”?

Militants in the cause of what? Fighters for what? Don’t say sharia or a caliphate or the ummah or Islam, because any of those would give an impression of some kind of idealism, however warped. I don’t believe it. I think they’re just murdering and enslaving people for the sake of murdering and enslaving people. I think they’re drunk on their ability to blow everything up, and enjoying their power to slaughter people and make all the survivors miserable.

 

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



One thousand lashes

May 7th, 2014 9:21 am | By

It’s been reported – indirectly so far, which is to say, no English language news sources – that today Saudi Arabia changed Raif Badawi’s sentence to an even harsher one.

Amnesty International reports:

Amnesty International is calling on Saudi Arabia’s authorities to quash the outrageous sentencing today of Raif Badawi in connection with an online forum for public debate he set up and accusations that he insulted Islam.

Raif Badawi, co-founder of the “Saudi Arabian Liberals” website, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, 1,000 lashes and a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals (about US$266,631) by Jeddah’s Criminal Court.

A THOUSAND LASHES.

Not to mention ten years – 120 months, 3,560+ days – in prison.

Corporal punishment, such as flogging, violates international law, which prohibits torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Raif Badawi was first jailed in 2012 for violating Saudi Arabia’s IT law and insulting religious authorities through his online writings and hosting those of others on the “Saudi Arabian Liberals” website. He was sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes.

Last December, an appeals court overturned his conviction and sent the case to Jeddah’s Criminal Court to be reviewed. He had initially been charged with “apostasy”, which is considered a serious crime in Saudi Arabia and carries the death penalty.

It’s a god damn outrage.

#FreeRaif

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Dashboard transcendence

May 7th, 2014 8:57 am | By

Dave Richards gave me blanket permission to post his photos so here’s another one of Merlyn that I’ve always loved – this one from when he was a brand new arrival.

Magic Merlyn is magic

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Human beings who have names

May 6th, 2014 6:11 pm | By

Martin Wagner posted this on Facebook. The names of 177 of the schoolgirls kidnapped and enslaved by Boko Haram.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



A policy that could lead to the exclusion of non-Christian groups

May 6th, 2014 11:15 am | By

The Supreme Court ruling handed down yesterday is inspiring new efforts, just as everyone knew it would. The Board of Supervisors of Roanoke County, Virginia, for instance:

Roanoke County’s Board of Supervisors may be headed toward another discussion of prayer following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling handed down Monday. The board dealt with the matter in 2012, eventually passing a nonsectarian prayer policy that Supervisor Al Bedrosian is ready to strike from the books.

“The freedom of religion doesn’t mean that every religion has to be heard,” said Bedrosian, who added that he is concerned about groups such as Wiccans and Satanists. “If we allow everything … where do you draw the line?”

The supervisor campaigned on the idea of eliminating the policy, and the ruling has breathed new life into his idea for a policy that could lead to the exclusion of non-Christian groups from the invocation.

Yay. Formal, official Christian supremacy in government at last. The city on a hill is in sight.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Getting rid of it was long overdue

May 6th, 2014 10:39 am | By

The Borowitz Report* on the Supreme Court ruling in Greece v Galloway.

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) — In what legal experts are calling a landmark decision, on Monday the United States Supreme Court struck down what many believe to be the main reason the country was started.

By a five-to-four vote, the Court eliminated what grade-school children have traditionally been taught was one of the key rationales for founding the United States in the first place.

“The separation of church and state has been a cornerstone of American democracy for over two hundred years,” said Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority. “Getting rid of it was long overdue.”

Hahasob. Yeah.

*satire

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



“God instructed me to sell them, they are his properties”

May 6th, 2014 10:20 am | By

The BBC has more on the enslavement in Nigeria.

In the video, Abubakar Shekau said the girls should not have been in school in the first place, but rather should get married.

“God instructed me to sell them, they are his properties and I will carry out his instructions,” he said.

Yes that sums it right up, doesn’t it – girls are inferior beings, therefore they should not be in school, they should be enslaved in “marriage” because that’s all that inferior beings are good for.

Meanwhile, a woman who helped organise protests over the abduction was detained and later released.

Naomi Mutah was taken to a police station after a meeting called by First Lady Patience Jonathan.

Mrs Jonathan reportedly felt slighted that the girls’ mothers had sent Ms Mutah to the meeting instead of going themselves.

Mrs Jonathan is seen as a politically powerful figure in Nigeria but has no constitutional power to order arrests.

Ms Mutah, a representative of the Chibok community, organised a protest last week outside parliament in Abuja.

Wow, that’s some heavy-duty self-absorption – for Patience Jonathan to be more worried about her own importance than the issue that Naomi Mutah was there to discuss with her.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



They said they would

May 6th, 2014 9:15 am | By

As promised, fucking Boko Haram has grabbed more girls.

Of course it has. It’s easy. Soft targets. Villages of ordinary people; it’s dead easy to burst in with guns and grab a bunch of the girls. Anybody could do that at any time. But decent people don’t do that. We’re all soft targets; we don’t all prey on each other just because we can.

Suspected Boko Haram gunmen kidnapped eight girls aged 12 to 15 from a village near one of their strongholds in northeast Nigeria overnight, police and residents said today.

“They were many, and all of them carried guns. They came in two vehicles painted in army colour. They started shooting in our village,” said Lazarus Musa, a resident of Warabe, where the attack happened.

So what could the people of Warabe do? Nothing. So the men with guns were able to grab the girls.

Homo homini lupus.

 

 

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



Magic cat

May 6th, 2014 8:33 am | By

This beautiful cat’s human takes the most beautiful pictures of him – and this one that he posted yesterday (the human, not the cat) I couldn’t stop gazing at. So I got permission to share the pleasure of it with you all.

The cat is Merlyn. The genius with the camera is Dave Richards.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)



It’s not tomorrow

May 6th, 2014 8:22 am | By

Climate change is already here and already messing things up.

Climate change has moved from distant threat to present-day danger and no American will be left unscathed, according to a landmark report due to be unveiled on Tuesday.

The National Climate Assessment, a 1,300-page report compiled by 300 leading scientists and experts, is meant to be the definitive account of the effects of climate change on the US. It will be formally released at a White House event and is expected to drive the remaining two years of Barack Obama’s environmental agenda.

Gary Yohe, an economist at Wesleyan University and vice-chair of the NCA advisory committee, said the US report would be unequivocal that the effects of climate change were occurring in real-time and were evident in every region of the country.

“One major take-home message is that just about every place in the country has observed that the climate has changed,” he told the Guardian. “It is here and happening, and we are not cherrypicking or fearmongering.”

But Fox News and Rush Limbaugh and the entire Republican party will say they are, just the same.

Some changes are already having a measurable effect on food production and public health, the report will say.

John Balbus, senior adviser at the National Institute of Environmenal Health Science and a lead author of the NCA report, said rising temperatures increased the risk of heat stroke and heat-related deaths.

Eugene Takle, convening lead author of the agriculture chapter of the NCA report, and director of the Climate Science programme at Iowa State University, said heatwaves and changes in rainfall had resulted in a levelling off in wheat and corn production and would eventually cause declines.

And elsewhere in the world…the real terror is the melting of Himalayan glaciers and thus the loss of irrigation from the great rivers those glaciers feed and thus famine in much of Asia.

The assessments are the American equivalent of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports. This year’s report for the first time looks at what America has done to fight climate change or protect people from its consequences in the future.

Under an act of Congress the reports were supposed to be produced every four years, but no report was produced during George W Bush’s presidency.

Thud.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)