Notes and Comment Blog


Including

Oct 11th, 2018 10:11 am | By

X is jus making it a bit more inclusive, so it includes women of color, it includes trans women…

[through clenched teeth] “Women” already includes women of color, and it includes trans women for people who believe the formula “trans women are women.” The word “women” does not need to be “a bit more inclusive,” just as women don’t need to be colonized by men telling them to be more intersectional and inclusive by shutting up about women and talking about everyone else instead.

It’s both weird and alarming that the very word “women” is now being framed as selfish and exclusive.

Image result for cruella deville



Equal attention

Oct 11th, 2018 9:41 am | By

A pull quote I strongly disagree with.

“Feminism without intersectionality—in other words, without sensitivity and equal attention to other nexuses of discrimination and oppression, such as race and sexuality—is worthless.”

Bollocks.

Feminism is feminism. It’s about resistance to and elimination of the subordination of women. Its attention is for that. Intersectionality is about awareness that there are other forms of oppression and subordination, all of which can affect women; it is not about giving equal attention to all forms of oppression and subordination.

I keep saying this, but I suspect it needs to be said more times than there are atoms in the universe: isn’t it interesting how it’s only feminism that is constantly shouted at for not shifting its attention to everything except its own oppression. Isn’t it just a classic illustration of why feminism is needed in the first place. Isn’t it interesting the way the entire world expects women to be the caretaking class and thus feminism to be the self-abnegating rebellion.

In short, fxck off.



If only it were an attempt to get away from patriarchal language

Oct 10th, 2018 5:53 pm | By

The BBC is on the “womxn” issue.

Womxn – to the untrained eye it may look like a typo.

But when the Wellcome Collection – a museum and library in London – sent a tweet promoting an event using the word it led to a Twitter backlash from hundreds of women, and an apology from the organisation.

Like women, womxn refers to females, but it is an attempt to get away from patriarchal language.

The hell it is. That was “womyn,” which was floated decades ago and was largely ignored. No, this is not about getting away from patriarchal language, it’s about making women more “inclusive,” which is quite a different thing. It’s about “including” men in the category “women.” That’s not anti-patriarchal.

Dr Clara Bradbury-Rance, fellow at King’s College London, said the spelling “stems from a longstanding objection to the word woman as it comes from man, and the linguistic roots of the word mean that it really does come from the word man”.

No, that’s “womyn.” A third spelling just confuses the matter.

The word is also supposed to be inclusive of trans women, and some non-binary people.

Men, in other words. (“Women” already includes trans women according to the “trans women are women” doctrine, so a new word for women is not needed.)

But the term led hundreds of people, many women, to mock and criticise the Wellcome Collection.

Guardian journalist Hadley Freeman said the museum’s “new gender categories are ‘men’ and ‘other'”.

Suzie Leighton said she would not be referred to as a womxn until men became mxn.

So did a lot of us. The omission is pretty striking. Isn’t it just so odd how it’s always women who are told to move over and give way and share and change and tweak in order to accommodate others (i.e. men) and never men who are told to do all that to make room for women?

The Wellcome Collection said it used the word womxn “with the intention of being inclusive”.

One of the groups that the term was supposed to include was trans women. But campaign group Trans Media Watch said it would never use that term.

Chair Jennie Kermode said: “We would generally just write women in the usual way because we feel it’s important for people to recognise that trans women are women.”

See? What I said.

The Beeb apparently hasn’t seen the Her Stories one yet.



If only they’d agreed to kill SOME people

Oct 10th, 2018 5:29 pm | By

Well that’s disgraceful.

The US is one of just 13 countries to have voted against a United Nations resolution condemning the death penalty for having gay sex.

Although the vote passed, America joined countries such as China, Iraq and Saudi Arabia in opposing the move.

The Human Rights Council resolution condemned the “imposition of the death penalty as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations”.

Ah so maybe it wasn’t the same-sex relations part that was the problem, maybe it was blasphemy and apostasy. Trump does pretend to be goddy these days.

Despite America’s opposition, the vote in Geneva passed with 27 of the 47-member Human Rights Council in favour.

There are currently six countries where the death penalty is used for people in same-sex relationships: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria and Somalia. This number rises to eight if the Isis-occupied territories of Iraq and Syria are included.

Good company.

Heather Nauert, State Department spokesperson, told The Independent: “The headlines, reporting and press releases on this issue are misleading. As our representative to the Human Rights Council in Geneva said on Friday, the United States is disappointed to have to vote against this resolution. We had hoped for a balanced and inclusive resolution that would better reflect the positions of states that continue to apply the death penalty lawfully, as the United States does.

“The United States voted against this resolution because of broader concerns with the resolution’s approach in condemning the death penalty in all circumstances and calling for its abolition.”

Still disgusting.



Invoking the Magnitsky Act

Oct 10th, 2018 4:30 pm | By

This happened.

CNN reports:

President Donald Trump is facing new pressure to investigate the disappearance of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi and determine whether to impose sanctions on those responsible after receiving a letter from a bipartisan group of senators Wednesday.

The letter, which triggers an “investigation and Global Magnitsky sanctions determination” was penned by the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chairman Sen. Bob Corker and ranking member Sen. Bob Menendez, along with the leaders of the appropriations subcommittee for the State Department, Sen. Lindsey Graham and Democrat Sen. Patrick Leahy.

“The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act requires the President, upon receipt of a request from the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, to determine whether a foreign person is responsible for an extrajudicial killing, torture, or other gross violation of internationally recognized human rights against an individual exercising freedom of expression, and report to the Committee within 120 days with a determination and a decision on the imposition of sanctions on that foreign person or persons,” the letter states.

“We request that you make a determination on the imposition of sanctions pursuant to the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act with respect to any foreign person responsible for such a violation related to Mr. Khashoggi,” it adds.

Corker says it’s a forcing mechanism. He also says it’s not meant to be a shot across Trump’s bow, but it is meant to be a shot across Saudi Arabia’s bow.



Fxck off

Oct 10th, 2018 11:56 am | By

Oh no, even as the Wellcome Trust takes it back, it’s spreading. It’s Invasion of the Word-snatchers.

Twice in the headline. Four times in the first paragraph. Three times in the second paragraph.

No. No. No. NO. We are not “cis” and we are not “womxn.”

NO.



Behold the healing modalities

Oct 10th, 2018 10:50 am | By

The Post has more on Paltrow’s wellnessbabble.

Gwyneth Paltrow’s wellness brand, Goop, has promoted “energy stickers” made from “the same conductive carbon material NASA uses to line space suits” — even though the stickers had nothing to do with spacesuits at all.

And coffee enemas.

And vaginal steaming.

And the jade eggs.

Why stop there? Why doesn’t she move on to gasoline ear-irrigations? Vaginal cauterization? Cyanide enemas? The all-coffee diet? Serenity through blood-letting? Leeches for the flu?

But when asked whether the products Goop sells online are based on pseudoscience, Paltrow told BBC News no.

“We disagree with that wholeheartedly,” the actress and business executive said Tuesday on “BBC Breakfast.” “We really believe that there are healing modalities that have existed for thousands of years, and they challenge maybe a very conventional Western doctor that might not believe necessarily in the healing powers of essential oils or any variety of acupuncture — things that have been tried and tested for hundreds of years. And we find that they are very helpful to people and that there’s an incredible power in the human body to heal itself.

There’s so much horseshit in that – hey maybe she could harvest it and use it in a poultice to cure Crohn’s.

It doesn’t matter how “wholeheartedly” she “disagrees” that her claims are bullshit. This isn’t poetry, it’s medical science, and amateurs don’t get to just make shit up and then use their passion as a form of argument. For the same reasons it doesn’t matter whether or not they “really believe” – they’re still wrong. “Healing modalities” is a significance-pump. The fact that the “modalities” have existed for thousands of years does not mean they have curative powers. Calling medical doctors “very conventional Western” is just manipulation. “Healing powers” could mean anything, including “it doesn’t kill you and it’s comfortable in the meantime.” And then in summation she jumps to the usefully vague “helpful,” which isn’t really the issue. If Goop’s advertising said no more than “Buy this, it’s pleasant and helpful,” there would probably be no lawsuits.

“And so, I think, anytime you are trying to move the needle and you’re trying to empower women, you find resistance, and we just think that’s just part of what we do, and we’re proud to do it.”

Oh fuck off, Gwyneth. Peddling woo does not empower women.

Goop’s $145,000 penalties stemmed from a consumer protection lawsuit filed by 10 prosecutors across California who accused Paltrow’s company of advertising products with medical claims that “were not supported by competent and reliable science.”

The Santa Clara County district attorney’s office detailed some of Goop’s claims in a news release about the settlement:

Goop advertised that the Jade and Rose Quartz eggs — egg-shaped stones designed to be inserted vaginally and left in for various lengths of time — could balance hormones, regulate menstrual cycles, prevent uterine prolapse, and increase bladder control. Goop advertised that the Inner Judge Flower Essence Blend, a blend of essential oils meant [to] be taken orally or added to bathwater, could help prevent depression.

What I’m saying. Those claims go well beyond “pleasant and helpful.” And they are not just conversation, they are used to sell the product. She’s not giving it away. It’s not cheap, either.

She’s like Trump, though; the more criticism she gets, the more people flock to her.

Image result for jade egg



Racial disparity in the process

Oct 10th, 2018 10:11 am | By

More than 53,000 voter registration applications are sitting on hold with Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office. Most people on that list are black; many don’t know their registration is stalled.

Tuesday is Georgia’s deadline to register and be eligible to vote in the November General Election.

Kemp, who’s also the Republican candidate for governor, is in charge of elections and voter registration in Georgia.

His Democratic opponent, former state Rep. Stacey Abrams, and voting rights advocacy groups charge that Kemp is systematically using his office to suppress votes and tilt the election, and that his policies disproportionately affect black and minority voters.

Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams agree on a few public education issues, but they disagree on plenty of other issues that affect Georgia schools. Kemp and Abrams are vying to be Georgia’s next governor.

Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams (John Amis/Associated Press)

Kemp is one of those “Beware voter fraud!!” types. Voter fraud is not an issue (because it’s extremely rare); voter suppression is.

[Kemp’s] campaign spokesman Ryan Mahoney said in a statement that because of Kemp, “it has never been easier to vote in our state” and pointed to a new online voter registration system and a student engagement program implemented under his tenure.

“Kemp is fighting to protect the integrity of our elections and ensure that only legal citizens cast a ballot,” Mahoney said.

But that’s not a fight that needs to be fought.

An analysis of the records obtained by The Associated Press reveals racial disparity in the process. Georgia’s population is approximately 32 percent black, according to the U.S. Census, but the list of voter registrations on hold with Kemp’s office is nearly 70 percent black.

Kemp’s office blamed that disparity on the New Georgia Project, a voter registration group founded by Abrams in 2013.

Kemp accuses the organization of being sloppy in registering voters, and says they submitted inadequate forms for a batch of applicants that was predominantly black. His office has said the New Georgia Project used primarily paper forms and “did not adequately train canvassers to ensure legible, complete forms ….”

His office says “the law applies equally across all demographics,” but these numbers became skewed by “the higher usage of one method of registration among one particular demographic group.”

The one that has been systematically disenfranchised for the entire history of this infuriatingly hypocritical country.



They had some questions

Oct 10th, 2018 7:44 am | By

Remember the Wellcome Trust and “womxn”? From two days ago? With so much to laugh at in the list of 100 Narcissistic Non-negotiable Demands yesterday it’s easy to lose track.

It got a lot of [cough] disagreement so it explained its reasons.

I’m kidding, of course. “We’re using it because we feel that it is important to create a space/venue that includes diverse perspectives” explains nothing. For one thing why didn’t they include even more diverse perspectives by changing not just one pitiful letter but all the letters? Why not change “women” to “rbsnx”? But more seriously, what do they even think they’re talking about? Why do they think changing the spelling of the word that names half the population (while not doing that to the word that names the other, dominant half of the population) does anything to include diverse perspectives? What makes them think the word “women” excludes diverse perspectives? Are they even adults?

Replies were scorching.

So an hour ago they fixxxed it.

I still want to know why “with the intention of being inclusive” is their explanation. I still want to know exactly why the word “women” is seen as exclusionary. I still want to know why this weird covert handwaving campaign to shove women aside is so popular with people who see themselves as woke.

Notes and References

  1. (Katha Pollitt []


And then buy us things

Oct 9th, 2018 4:49 pm | By

I’m not the only one who found that List of 100 Ways You Have to Grovel to the Trans Community grotesquely narcissistic and entitled. I’m seeing a lot of others on Twitter.

Flowers, dinner, cash – a car, a house, a yacht – any little token will do.

But there’s a feedback loop going on. The dogmatism and narcissism attract people who like that kind of thing, so they compete with each other for who can be most dogmatic and narcissistic, which attracts even worse dogmatic narcissists, and on it goes.



Just a verbiage issue

Oct 9th, 2018 11:16 am | By

Gwyneth Paltrow reassures us that she is not talking bullshit by talking bullshit.

Earlier this year, the lifestyle corporation fell under scrutiny once more when nonprofit group Truth in Advertising accused Goop of exploiting women with products which claim to combat health problems.

And now Gwyneth has opened up about the controversy.

When asked by the Radio 4 Today Programme about the flack the company has faced about some of the health benefits the products claim to have, Gwyneth replied that she thinks the criticism is important.

“If we’re not criticised we’re not doing our job. What we’re here to do is trailblaize and try to move culture forward,” she said.

“If we’re not criticised we’re not doing our job”? What’s she talking about? If you’re a corporation that purports to sell products that promote “wellness” then why is criticism required to do the job? Why not just sell the correct stuff to promote “wellness” instead?

And then the trailblazing. Why should a movie star be “trailblazing” on medical products? She has no relevant education or training. She’s an actor. And what does she mean by “move culture forward”? Isn’t it, rather, backward? Back to a time when no one knew very much about medicine so guesswork was all they had?

When asked about the specific law suit the company faced she explained:

“In that case there was just a verbiage issue. As you grow as a company, you learn about claims. If you look a product that says this may help with wrinkles you can’t say this will eradicate wrinkles.

That is, you can’t if it doesn’t. If she weren’t peddling woo she wouldn’t have to be careful about the “verbiage” in that way. She can’t say it eradicates wrinkles for the simple reason that it doesn’t. Saying it “may help with” is legal because it’s empty…but, sadly, persuasive to the inattentive.

The interview went on to discuss the Carnelian crystal that claims to help treat infertility.

Gwyneth pointed out that though she’d never tried it she believed there are “ancient healing modalities that have existed the power of oils and crystals for thousands of years that people find really effective.”

Who cares what she believes? This isn’t Tinkerbell. And calling them “modalities” doesn’t make them work any better.

It wasn’t long before people took to Twitter to let their thoughts on the interview known.

I found a few myself.



About that little tax fraud thing

Oct 9th, 2018 10:52 am | By

The Kavanaugh mess distracted a lot of us from the Times’s big story on the Trump empire’s vast tax fraud. Paul Waldman at the Post reminded us to be reminded of it.

It has been less than two days since we learned that Donald Trump and his family appear to have engaged in a years-long conspiracy to commit tax fraud on an absolutely gigantic scale, evading hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes they owed to the federal government. We learned this from a mother lode of documents obtained by the New York Times — including tax returns, business records and bank records.

And nearly everyone seems to have already forgotten.

I didn’t forget but I did put it aside for later. It is a very long story. Sarah Sanders said it’s 14,000 words.

If you haven’t read the (incredibly long) article, the quick summary is that, in the later years of his life, Fred Trump — the president’s father — with the help of his children, constructed an intricate web of vehicles to escape income taxes, gift taxes and estate taxes, passing more than $1 billion worth of assets to his children while avoiding the taxes that should have been paid on them. While wealthy people often take advantage of the tax code’s numerous loopholes to avoid taxes, what the Trump family did was, as the Times described it, “outright fraud,” including hiding transactions with shell companies, undervaluing properties, creating invoices with fake charges, and what amounted to hundreds of subsidiary schemes and scams.

Loopholes are legal; that other stuff not so much. These are crimes. Trump appears to have committed many crimes.

He will likely never be prosecuted for them because the statute of limitations has expired (though both New York state and the federal government can mount a civil case against him, which could force him to pay the taxes he evaded, plus fines). But the Times article contains documentary evidence — shell companies owned by Trump, his signature on documents — showing that he was an active participant in the scheme.

The paper obtained Fred Trump’s tax returns, but not Donald’s, so it’s entirely possible that, for instance, after Fred evaded gift taxes when he was showering Donald with cash, Donald also didn’t pay the income taxes he should have owed on the same money.

The only way to find out if that happened is to examine Trump’s tax returns. Which he has steadfastly refused to release.

It’s clearer than ever why he refused to release them.

To repeat, because we have to keep repeating this, we now have hard evidence — not allegations, not hearsay, not suspicion, but hard evidence — that Donald Trump and his family committed tax fraud on a massive scale. What should be done about it now? It has to be followed up by every news organization with the means to do so. It has to be investigated by Congress (though, of course, that won’t happen unless Democrats take back one or both houses of Congress). We have to get the president’s tax returns. And we have to never stop asking questions until all the facts are known, and Trump, one way or another, is held to account. No matter what else is competing for our attention.

Let’s hope we can do all that before he seizes absolute power.



Basketball tickets the price of a car

Oct 9th, 2018 10:21 am | By

Nikki Haley has resigned as Trump’s ambassador to the UN. Walter Shaub has a few totally unrelated remarks.



List of things everyone has to do

Oct 9th, 2018 9:09 am | By

Oh look, another  sighting of “womxn” already – this time in a piece at Vice explaining what “cis people” have to do to be allowed to live helpful to trans people.

Kai Isaiah-Jamal begins briskly.

Let’s cut the shit – there’s no positive way a cis person can dictate or speak on a life that you do not live and a world you do not have to navigate as a trans person.

Well, if that’s true, then nobody can say anything about anything, right? We can all come up with labels to brandish at the rest of the world by way of saying “don’t you dare disagree with me or dispute anything I say no matter how stupidly and irrationally and dogmatically I say it.” Nobody lives my life except me, and that’s a sentence that every human can say. It’s true, and obvious, and otiose. We all live our own lives, but most of us don’t want to live them entirely solipsistically, so we do our best to talk across the barrier of Self in order to communicate with others.

Isaiah-Jamal’s point is presumably that people who have “cis privilege” mustn’t dispute anything trans people say about trans rights, because the formers’ privilege blinds them to the reality of the latters’ experiences and needs, just as white people can be blind to the reality of racism. One problem with that is that the “just as” isn’t. Racism is not analogous to skepticism about some/much/all of the dogma around being trans.

In a world where misconstrued ideas about trans folk – what we need, what we deserve, how we should live – fall from the lips of so many cis people, we need to end the debate on whether trans womxn are womxn, whether we should be able to use the correct bathrooms and changing rooms, and whether we should be parents or teachers. Because it’s not a debate. We are entitled to our human rights just as much as everyone else.

Only the second paragraph, and already so confused.

There’s the “womxn” again.

Do women get this same “you don’t get to question me” privilege too? Are we denied it because we’re “cis”? Does being cis cancel out being female? Are women no longer an oppressed class, because we are “cis”? Is it only “womxn” who belong to the oppressed female class?

And why are we told to end the debate on whether trans womxn are womxn but not to end the debate on whether trans men are men? Or should that be whether trans mxn are mxn?

And do women get a say about whether or not we want to lose the word “women” and have to use “womxn” instead?

And what are the criteria for “the correct bathrooms and changing rooms”? What makes a bathroom or changing room “correct” and who gets to decide?

And who has suggested taking away the rights of trans people? And what rights exactly are we talking about? And is there any difference between familiar, well-described, clearly delineated rights, and brand new rights that apply to brand new categories and concepts, that many people haven’t even heard of yet? And is there a “right” to be a teacher, or does being a teacher rather depend on meeting certain criteria?

And so on. I could go on this way all day. In just the first two paragraphs Isaiah-Jamal assumes an enormous amount that is not in evidence, and proceeds as if there were no need to explain further. That’s characteristic of much of this type of “activism” and it doesn’t inspire confidence. I feel only a faint curiosity about the rest of Isaiah-Jamal’s demands, which go on for a very long way.



The theory never stopped sounding ridiculous

Oct 8th, 2018 5:11 pm | By

The Republicans are saying it’s all a matter of mistaken identity.

The politically convenient, scientifically baseless theory that sexual assault so traumatized Christine Blasey Ford she mixed up her attacker is now something like common wisdom for many Republicans.

President Trump explicitly endorsed the theory Saturday, shortly after Brett M. Kavanaugh was narrowly confirmed as a Supreme Court judge, telling reporters he was “100 percent” sure Ford accused Kavanaugh in error.

Collins said it, Manchin said it, Graham said it.

[F]or many cognitive researchers who study how memories actually form during traumatic events, the theory never stopped sounding ridiculous.

“The person lying on top of you — who she’d previously met — you’re not going to forget that,” said Richard Huganir, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. “There’s a total consensus in the field of memory … If anything, fear and trauma enhances the encoding of the memory at a molecular level.”

As he and several other researchers told The Washington Post, being attacked floods the brain with chemicals, including norepinephrine, which helps people remember whatever they are focused on. (Ford, a psychologist herself, even mentioned it in her testimony.)

It’s essentially the same phenomenon that makes people forever remember what they were doing when planes hit the World Trade Center on 9/11, or when they learned John F. Kennedy was shot. It’s such a basic tenet of psychology and cognitive science that some researchers watched the mistaken-identity theory spread through the Senate this month with a sense of stunned dismay.

Because she already knew him. Misidentification of strangers is one thing, but he wasn’t a stranger to her.

Lila Davachi, a cognitive neuroscientist at Columbia University, analogized the traumatic memory formation process to cranking up the contrast on a photo — central details get heightened, while those in the background get washed out.

“If someone has a gun on you you’ll remember the gun. There’s a snapshot of critical features,” she said. “In this case it was a party with friends and she knew him. It is ridiculous to say she wouldn’t remember who it was.”

Ridiculous, but convenient.



Back into history and out again 15 words later

Oct 8th, 2018 4:07 pm | By

Say what now?

“womxn”? What the fuck is that? I know what Latinx is but what the sam hill is “womxn” and what do they mean typeset women back into history when they immediately grab them back out again? With an X?

Urban dictionary:

TOP DEFINITION

womxn

A spelling of “women” that is a more inclusive, progressive term that not only sheds light on the prejudice, discrimination, and institutional barriers womxn have faced, but to also show that womxn are not the extension of men (as hinted by the classic Bible story of Adam and Eve) but their own free and separate entities. More intersectional than womyn because it includes trans-women and women of color.

Womxn’s voice’s have been excluded from mainstream dialogues for generations.
by juniperberry April 03, 2016

No.

Since when does “women” exclude women of color? Since never, that’s when. Women of color are women. The word “women” has never excluded them; throwing out the word would be fixing something that’s not broken. As for trans women – there’s “trans women.” How are they more included if the word “women” is misspelled? And why does the word “women” need to be thrown out while the word “men” carries right on, there for Brett Kavanaugh just as it is for Wokey McWokerson Esquire? For the same reason all the “trans-inclusive” duty is dumped on women – because women are seen as and treated as a dumping ground.

(Look it up if you don’t believe me. Google “mxn” – you don’t get the urban dictionary saying it’s the Inclusive for “men.”)



Shut up, don’t resist, shut up

Oct 8th, 2018 11:29 am | By

It can always be worse. It always is worse somewhere. At least Republican senators didn’t attack Christine Blasey Ford with sticks. The Guardian:

Thirty-six Indian schoolgirls have been treated in hospital after they were attacked by a large crowd of teenage boys and their parents when they complained of sexual harassment.

Six boys and one woman were arrested in the north-eastern state of Bihar after the attack at a girls’ boarding school.

Police and witnesses said girls from the government school in Triveniganj – about 160 miles (260km) east of the state capital, Patna – had been playing in a sports area on Saturday night when a group of teenage boys began making lewd comments.

Welll, you can see their point of view. What business do school girls have playing in a sports area? Who do they think they are?

The girls argued back and some physically remonstrated with the teenage boys, who initially backed off. Police say a group of the boys and some of their parents returned about 20 minutes later carrying bamboo sticks and iron rods.

Some of their parents. That’s nice.

“They dragged us by our ponytails, assaulted [us] with bamboo sticks and kicked and punched,” said Gudia, one of 36 girls who were treated in hospital after the attack.

“We were totally unarmed and had nothing to protect us. I saw many of my friends lying on the ground and crying with pain.”

The girls admitted to hospital were aged between 10 and 14.

Gudia said the young men were angry “because we had protested [against] their sexual advances”.

“They had been always teasing us and scribbling dirty words on the walls of our school,” she said, adding that she and other girls had tried to report the harassment to local government officials but were not taken seriously.

They’re just girls. Why would anyone take them seriously?



Being a girl is about pleasing men

Oct 8th, 2018 10:34 am | By

Katha Pollitt talks about the way women have to be “likable” no matter what (and when they are it’s still not enough), while men can be as violent and belligerent and mendacious as they like and the world will still embrace them and say that was way back then.

These are the rules of The Patriarchy that the #MeToo movement has exposed: the education, extracurriculars, service projects, credentials—they were never what being a girl was all about. Being a girl is about pleasing men: What they think of you and want from you and how you negotiate that in a world that does not want to hear about the darker side of what that can mean.

And thus it’s also about pleasing women, but in a men-pleasing way. It’s about people-pleasing and man-pleasing and the ways they are entangled with each other. We’re all pickled in it; it’s the medium we grow in; we can’t get away from it any more than a daffodil can hop away from its soil.

This for me is the meaning of the Senate Judiciary Committee testimony by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Whatever else a woman is—a PhD, a mother, a victim of a sex crime—the most important thing is that she be likable: attractive, relatable, unthreatening, nice. And Dr. Ford was so nice! Pretty—but not too pretty—educated, upper middle class, white, with glasses and a husband and kids and a house. She was just emotional enough—not detached, not “hysterical”—to conform to expectations about what a woman should look like when she tells the truth about being assaulted.

Imagine, Katha goes on, if she hadn’t been like that.

Others have said this, but it’s worth repeating that if Dr. Ford had behaved like Judge Brett Kavanaugh, she would have been dismissed as a liar and a crazy lady. Imagine if she had talked about how much she liked beer some 30 times. Imagine if she had displayed anger, hostility, arrogance, boasted about having gone to Yale, cried self-pitying tears, and thrown questions back in the senators’ faces, asking them if they ever had blackouts. Imagine if her high-school yearbook page were full of sexual slang and drinking innuendoes obvious to anyone who had ever been a teenager, and she had explained them away with obvious falsehoods.

In all fairness, that disgusted many of us when Kavanaugh did it, but the point of course that it didn’t disgust them enough to make them vote him down. The importance of forcing women to be “nice” and “likable” by bearing children they don’t want to bear outweighed the tackiness of putting a lying shouting assaulting sexist pig on the Supreme Court.

Does #MeToo have the power to change this narrative? Women’s anger is the topic du jour. Rebecca Traister’s brilliant and bracing Good and Mad could not have been published at a better moment and joins Soraya Chemaly’s Rage Becomes Her and Brittney Cooper’s Eloquent Rage on a lengthening shelf of books calling for women to own their righteous rage and use it to win justice.

I wish us all luck with the project.



Libertarians will save us

Oct 8th, 2018 10:07 am | By

Grim news on the climate change front:

A landmark report from the United Nations’ scientific panel on climate change paints a far more dire picture of the immediate consequences of climate change than previously thought and says that avoiding the damage requires transforming the world economy at a speed and scale that has “no documented historic precedent.”

The report, issued on Monday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a group of scientists convened by the United Nations to guide world leaders, describes a world of worsening food shortages and wildfires, and a mass die-off of coral reefs as soon as 2040 — a period well within the lifetime of much of the global population.

I think the imminent mass die-off of coral reefs was already widely reported – I know I’ve seen at least two nature or science documentaries that said it’s happening now and it’s unstoppable and it will be a disaster.

The authors found that if greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, the atmosphere will warm up by as much as 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Celsius) above preindustrial levels by 2040, inundating coastlines and intensifying droughts and poverty.

And it won’t be: things will be ok until 2040 when bam they’ll fall off a cliff. No, it will be things are already bad and will get steadily worse. They already are, and we’re seeing it, and they’re not going to turn around.

Avoiding the most serious damage requires transforming the world economy within just a few years, said the authors, who estimate that the damage would come at a cost of $54 trillion. But while they conclude that it is technically possible to achieve the rapid changes required to avoid 2.7 degrees of warming, they concede that it may be politically unlikely.

Ya think? Right now it’s not politically unlikely, it’s politically out of the question.

For instance, the report says that heavy taxes or prices on carbon dioxide emissions — perhaps as high as $27,000 per ton by 2100 — would be required. But such a move would be almost politically impossible in the United States, the world’s largest economy and second-largest greenhouse gas emitter behind China.

We don’t do science here. We do deals and casinos and reality tv.

President Trump, who has mocked the science of human-caused climate change, has vowed to increase the burning of coal and said he intends to withdraw from the Paris agreement. And on Sunday in Brazil, the world’s seventh-largest emitter of greenhouse gas, voters appeared on track to elect a new president, Jair Bolsonaro, who has said he also plans to withdraw from the accord.

Yeah; fuck the climate, right? Who needs it? So it’s a little too warm now and then – just turn up the AC in the Mercedes SUV.

To prevent 2.7 degrees of warming, the report said, greenhouse pollution must be reduced by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050. It also found that, by 2050, use of coal as an electricity source would have to drop from nearly 40 percent today to between 1 and 7 percent. Renewable energy such as wind and solar, which make up about 20 percent of the electricity mix today, would have to increase to as much as 67 percent.

“This report makes it clear: There is no way to mitigate climate change without getting rid of coal,” said Drew Shindell, a climate scientist at Duke University and an author of the report.

Sorry; no can do; we’ve got Beautiful Clean Coal Donald Trump breaking everything and we can’t get rid of him.

The World Coal Association disputed the conclusion that stopping global warming calls for an end of coal use.

People who sell coal tell lies about coal and climate change; tell us something we don’t know.

Americans for Prosperity, the political advocacy group funded by the libertarian billionaires Charles and David Koch, has made a point of campaigning against politicians who support a carbon tax.

Yeah, let’s Liberty the climate until nothing but tube worms can survive.



The knife emoji

Oct 8th, 2018 9:34 am | By

China disappears the head of Interpol:

The detained Chinese head of Interpol, Meng Hongwei, is being investigated for alleged bribe-taking, Chinese authorities have announced.

Mr Meng was first reported missing in late September after travelling from Interpol HQ in France to China.

His wife has revealed that he sent her a text message with a knife emoji on the day he went missing.

Mr Meng is the latest high-profile target to be ensnared in China’s sweeping anti-corruption campaign.

Actual corruption case, or China being China?

In a statement on Twitter on Sunday, [Interpol] said it had received Mr Meng’s resignation with immediate effect. Under its terms it has appointed senior vice-president Kim Jong-yang of South Korea as acting president.

A new president will be elected for the remaining two years of Mr Meng’s mandate at the general assembly in Dubai next month.

On Saturday, the international police agency urged China to clarify Mr Meng’s status, saying it was concerned about the well-being of its president. There has been no word from him on the charges he faces.

His wife is worried.

Grace Meng, speaking shortly before China’s confirmation of the detention, had told journalists she thought he was in danger.

She issued an emotional plea for international help to find her husband.

On the day he went missing, she said he had sent her a social media message telling her to “wait for my call”, before sending a knife emoji, signifying danger.

H/t Acolyte of Sagan