Notes and Comment Blog

He raised a clenched fist and shouted loudly

Aug 10th, 2016 10:07 am | By

Yesterday Tanveer Ahmed was sentenced to 27 years in prison for the murder of Asad Shah last March.

Tanveer Ahmed drove to Glasgow from Bradford on March 24 to confront Shah before stabbing him to death in a ‘religiously motivated’ attack at his south side convenience store.

The popular shopkeeper, a member of the Ahmadi Muslim community who have suffered persecution and discrimination from other Muslim sects, was targeted over messages he had put out on social media. His final video post on Facebook contained an Easter message for members of the Christian community.

From all accounts Shah was a sweet, kind-hearted man who went out of his way to brighten up the lives of his customers and neighbors.

Taxi driver Ahmed was arrested at the scene and following a court hearing in April he released a statement through his lawyer saying he had murdered Mr Shah because he had “disrespected the message of the Prophet Muhammad”.

The High Court in Glasgow heard how Ahmed had watched that clip featuring Mr Shah on his mobile phone as he travelled to Glasgow on the day of the murder and was heard in a phone message saying: “listen to this guy, something needs to be done, it needs nipped in the bud”.

As Ahmed was led away in court, he raised a clenched fist and shouted loudly: “Praise for the Prophet Muhammad, there is only one Prophet.”

Some of his supporters responded by raising their arms and repeating the phrase.

He has “supporters.” They were in court to endorse his murder of a kind man who refused to hate people of other religions.

A self-proclaimed Constitutionalist

Aug 10th, 2016 9:44 am | By

And while we’re on the subject of more or less veiled or implied or ambiguous threats – Peter Walker shared this cuddly story about a guy who “monitored” cops at a Portland (Oregon) precinct for months, from a car that held enough weapons and ammunition to take down a platoon.

A 39-year-old man who police describe as a “self-proclaimed Constitutionalist” was arrested Sunday with a cache of weapons.

Officers first noticed Eric Eugene Crowl parked outside Portland Police Bureau’s East Precinct in April. He would reportedly sit in his gray Chevrolet Tahoe and film police officers as they entered and left the building during shift changes, police said.

He also had a police scanner in his car, according to PPB.

On April 22, an officer spoke over the police radio frequency to report that he had seen Crowl watching and filming officers over the past week. Crowl was pulled over during a traffic stop, and when officers asked him why he had been following police he responded by saying, “it was his right to do so and he was a ‘free man.’”

In a way, it is his right to do that, in some sense. (I don’t know if there are any laws against it or not.) Citizens have a moral right to monitor public officials. But…in other ways maybe not. Do they have a moral right to do that from a car full of loaded guns? No, I don’t think so.

On June 21, an officer with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force went to Crowl’s home on the 14700 block of SE Rhone Street. Crowl reportedly told the officer “his intention of videotaping and scanning the police was to hold law enforcement accountable.”

Crowl allegedly had a negative experience with PPB and Washington County Sheriff’s Office in the past and took it upon himself to weed out any “bad apples”.

Crowl told the JTTF investigator that “he did not mean to harm anyone or cause any problems to law enforcement who are doing their job accordingly,” records state.

The problem with that is that you can’t “hold law enforcement accountable” by filming cops going in and out of the precinct during shift changes. All that does is…well, threaten, frankly. The stuff the police need to be held accountable for doesn’t happen as cops go in and out for shift changes. This implies that it’s logistically quite difficult to hold police accountable by monitoring them in a useful way, and that’s true, because they’re work is reactive by nature, as opposed to scheduled. Parking outside the precinct with a camera isn’t going to work as a form of monitoring the police for examples of brutality or racial profiling or the like.

To put it another way: scary shit.

Hit list

Aug 10th, 2016 9:23 am | By

I’d forgotten this. Sarah Palin’s cross-hairs on political “enemies” – one of whom was Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head days later.


Aug 9th, 2016 4:48 pm | By

Republicans continue to flee Trump. I doubt that his antics this afternoon will turn that around.

In what seems like a nearly daily occurrence, Republicans are bolting their party’s nominee. But if not him, who? Some are going so far as to endorse Democratic rival Hillary Clinton; others, like Maine Sen. Susan Collins on Tuesday, are just saying they can’t stomach supporting the GOP nominee.

Last week, Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois announced he will not back Trump, telling CNN’s Wolf Blitzer: “I’m an American before I’m a Republican.”

Kinzinger, however, will not vote for Clinton either. Instead, he may write in a candidate. He joins Mark Kirk, an Illinois senator, who in June withdrew his endorsement of Trump.

On Monday in the Washington Post and Tuesday on CNN, Collins, a moderate GOP senator, said she would not support Trump because he “does not reflect historical Republican values nor the inclusive approach to governing that is critical to healing the divisions in our country.” She didn’t say whom she’d vote for in November, but told CNN it won’t be Clinton.

Yesterday there was the letter from the security boffins:

Fifty of the nation’s most senior Republican national security officials, many of them former top aides or cabinet members for President George W. Bush, have signed a letter declaring that Donald J. Trump “lacks the character, values and experience” to be president and “would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.”

Mr. Trump, the officials warn, “would be the most reckless president in American history.”

The letter says Mr. Trump would weaken the United States’ moral authority and questions his knowledge of and belief in the Constitution. It says he has “demonstrated repeatedly that he has little understanding” of the nation’s “vital national interests, its complex diplomatic challenges, its indispensable alliances and the democratic values” on which American policy should be based. And it laments that “Mr. Trump has shown no interest in educating himself.”

A short way of putting it is that he’s not a grown-up. He’s not campaigning as a grown-up but as some kind of frat boy. I always felt that way about Bush Junior, too, but Trump is even worse than that.

While foreign policy elites in both parties often argue among themselves — behind closed doors, or politely in the pages of Foreign Affairs magazine — it is extraordinarily rare for them to step into the political arena so publicly and aggressively. Several former midlevel officials issued a similar if milder letter in March, during the primaries. But Monday’s letter included many senior former officials who until now have remained silent in public, even while denouncing Mr. Trump’s policies over dinners or in small Republican conclaves.

The letter underscores the continuing rupture in the Republican Party, but particularly within its national security establishment. Many of those signing it had declined to add their names to the letter released in March. But a number said in recent interviews that they changed their minds once they heard Mr. Trump invite Russia to hack Mrs. Clinton’s email server — a sarcastic remark, he said later — and say that he would check to see how much NATO members contributed to the alliance before sending forces to help stave off a Russian attack. They viewed Mr. Trump’s comments on NATO as an abandonment of America’s most significant alliance relationship.

Mr. Trump has said throughout his campaign that he intends to upend Republican foreign policy orthodoxy on everything from trade to Russia, where he has been complimentary of President Vladimir V. Putin, saying nothing about its crackdown on human rights and little about its annexation of Crimea.

Why wouldn’t we want a pig-ignorant condo-developer and reality tv performer upending everything about current foreign policy? What’s the down side?

“We agreed to focus on Trump’s fitness to be president, not his substantive positions,” said John B. Bellinger III, who was Ms. Rice’s legal adviser at the National Security Council and the State Department, and who drafted the letter.

He said that among the signatories, “some will vote for” Mrs. Clinton, “and some will not vote, but all agree Trump is not qualified and would be dangerous.”

Yet perhaps most striking about the letter is the degree to which it echoes Mrs. Clinton’s main argument about her rival: that his temperament makes him unsuitable for the job, and that he should not be entrusted with the control of nuclear weapons.

Well that aspect does jump out at us. Then again I always thought that of Bush, too, though not to the same extent.

“He is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood,” the letter says. “He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism. He has alarmed our closest allies with his erratic behavior. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be president and commander in chief, with command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.”

Some of that describes Bush.

I do think we have a bad habit of putting desperately underqualified and unsuitable people in this job. Trump is just the worst, he’s not unique.

Trump suggests someone should kill Clinton

Aug 9th, 2016 3:23 pm | By

I go outside for an adventure for a couple of hours and look what happens – Trump suggests assassination for his opponent.

At a rally here [in Wilmngton, North Carolina], Mr. Trump warned that it would be “a horrible day” if Mrs. Clinton were elected and got to appoint a tiebreaking Supreme Court justice.

“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Mr. Trump said, as the crowd began to boo. He quickly added: “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”

Even those in Mr. Trump’s audience appeared caught by surprise. Video of the rally showed a man seated just over Mr. Trump’s shoulder go slack-jawed and turn to his companion, apparently in disbelief, when Mr. Trump made the remark.

My jaw dropped when I read it in a friend’s Facebook post.

Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, who has made gun reform his signature issue after the Sandy Hook shooting in his state, took to Twitter to castigate Mr. Trump, calling his remarks “disgusting and embarrassing and sad.”

And frightening. This reckless sociopathic narcissist must not be president of the US.

“This isn’t play,” Mr. Murphy wrote. “Unstable people with powerful guns and an unhinged hatred for Hillary are listening to you, @realDonaldTrump.”

And Representative Eric Swalwell, Democrat of California, wrote on Twitterthat the Secret Service should investigate Mr. Trump for making a death threat against Mrs. Clinton: “Donald Trump suggested someone kill Sec. Clinton. We must take people at their word.”

That was my first thought. The Secret Service is supposed to investigate all threats of that kind, and Trump’s doing it is way more dangerous than some schmuck on Twitter.

Mr. Trump’s campaign events and rallies have grown increasingly vitriolic, with angry chants and jeers directed at Mrs. Clinton, some of them led by the candidate himself. On Tuesday, Mr. Trump called Mrs. Clinton a “liar” and “wacky.”

Chants of “lock her up,” which first gained traction during the Republican National Convention, were loud and frequent in Wilmington before Mr. Trump took the stage. One speaker, former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani of New York, tried to steer the crowd away from the chant.

“No, no, we’re here to beat her, and keep her out of Washington,” Mr. Giuliani said as he waved off the chants. He was interrupted by the same chant minutes later, and again paused and tried to wave off the crowd.

Which, again, is fascism. That’s how you get fascism.

Dangerous times.

Correct. O.K.?

Aug 9th, 2016 12:34 pm | By

Trump has decided that the thing to call his foreign policy is America First. I heard that on NPR a couple of days ago and was stunned. Hello Colonel Lindbergh? We’re going openly pro-Nazi now? Seriously?

Plus also it’s just hideous on its face, for the obvious reasons? It’s like sitting down at a crowded dinner table and shouting “Me first!”

I’m late in noticing this, but you know how it is – I was hoping to be able to get away with ignoring Trump, until the convention made that no longer tenable.

The New Yorker was on it a couple of weeks ago.

When the New York Times interviewed Donald Trump in March, one of the reporters, David Sanger, suggested that Trump’s foreign policy could be summed up as “America First”—“a mistrust of many foreigners, both our adversaries and some of our allies, a sense that they’ve been freeloading off of us for many years.”

“Correct. O.K.? That’s fine,” Trump responded. Sanger pressed him to be sure. “I’ll tell you—you’re getting close,” Trump said, in his typically staccato style. “Not isolationist, I’m not isolationist, but I am ‘America First.’ So I like the expression. I’m ‘America First.’”

So he adopted it and ran with it. Ok then, says Louise Thomas.

Sixty-five years ago, the spokesman for America First was another celebrity, Charles Lindbergh, who was famous for his historic solo nonstop flight across the Atlantic, and because of the kidnapping and murder of his child, which was reported so exhaustively and sensationally by the press that it became known as “The Crime of the Century.” In 1935, Lindbergh and his family fled to Europe. Unlike Trump, he didn’t want the notoriety. He was a man of secrets. He sought privacy.

But he also wanted order. In the years immediately before the outbreak of the Second World War, he visited Germany, and it impressed him. While the rest of the world seemed to crumble, Germany struck him for its “organized vitality.” “I have never in my life been so conscious of such a directed force,” Lindbergh recalled in his 1978 memoir, “Autobiography of Values.” “It is thrilling when seen.” He toured the Luftwaffe, the German Air Force, and became convinced that no power in Europe—or the United States—could defeat it. A war with Germany would be bad for the United States, he believed. And it would be bad for “the white races.” He condemned Kristallnacht, but he wrote, in an infamous essay published by Reader’s Digest in November, 1939, weeks after the war in Europe began, that Western nations “can have peace and security only so long as we band together to preserve that most priceless possession, our inheritance of European blood.”

That’s what Trump is aligning himself with.

In 1940, Lindbergh, who had by then returned to the U.S., was recruited to speak on behalf of America First, an antiwar group founded by several Yale students (including Gerald Ford, the future President, and Potter Stewart, the future Supreme Court Justice) who saw the Second World War as an awful consequence of the First—and who were determined to avoid another disastrous war. The group attracted a wide range of supporters, from celebrities to pacifists (including the leader of the Socialist Party, Norman Thomas, who was my great-grandfather); America First also included more than its share of people whose views had less to do with the catastrophes of the First World War than with their nativism and xenophobia. At its peak, it had eight hundred thousand dues-paying members, many in the Midwest. Lindbergh was the ideal spokesman: charismatic, handsome, brave, sympathetic. His appeal was democratic—until it wasn’t.

On September 11, 1941, Lindbergh gave a speech to a huge crowd in Des Moines, in which he described the agitators for the U.S. to enter the war. There were three groups: the British, the government, and “the Jewish race.” “Their greatest danger to this country lies in their large ownership and influence in our motion pictures, our press, our radio, and our government,” he told the audience.

That’s what Trump is aligning himself with.

Anti-Semitism was prevalent in Lindberg’s time; his attitudes were not fringe. He had not made a secret of his interest in eugenics, nor his racial attitudes, which today seem reprehensible. But with that 1941 speech he seemed to cross a line. He was strongly and swiftly condemned for his anti-Semitic and divisive words—not only by interventionists who were opposed to America First but by those who had lionized him. The Des Moines Register called his speech “so intemperate, so unfair, so dangerous in its implications that it cannot but turn many spadefuls in the digging of the grave of his influence in this country.” The Hearst papers, which were generally sympathetic to the non-interventionists—and open about their hatred of Franklin Roosevelt—condemned Lindbergh, calling his speech “un-American.” His home town took his name off its water tower. Three months later, the Japanese attacked at Pearl Harbor. Lindbergh, who had resigned his commission in the Air Force at the demand of Roosevelt, asked to be recommissioned; Roosevelt denied the request. In the public’s view, too, Lindbergh was disgraced. His reputation did not fully recover.

I hope Trump will join him in that fate.


Aug 9th, 2016 11:39 am | By

Two of the worst guys in the world have patched up their quarrel. Putin and Erdoğan are besties again.

What brought the two he-men back together?

[A]fter the 15 July coup attempt in Turkey, Mr Putin expressed support for Mr Erdogan. He did not criticise Mr Erdogan’s crackdown on political opponents and purge of alleged “plotters” in state institutions.

The BBC’s Sarah Rainsford says Russia is keen to capitalise on Turkey’s cooling relations with the West following the failed coup.

Mr Erdogan was angered by criticism from the EU and the US of the mass detentions of suspected plotters.

If people are giving you the stink-eye because of your brisk way with human rights, who ya gonna call? Not the same kind of bleeding heart human rights-lovers who are scowling at you, but a standup no bullshit fuck all this PC nonsense guy like Putin, that’s who.

It’s not all roses and chocolates though. They have their differences.

They back opposing sides in Syria. Turkey is furious at the scale of Russian air support for Syrian government forces, as Mr Erdogan reviles Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia has accused Turkey of backing Islamist anti-Assad groups, including some accused of “terrorism” in Russia.

Turkey is at war with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the PKK’s Syrian allies. Mr Erdogan has accused Russia of arming the PKK.

For centuries Russia and Turkey have been rivals for influence in the Caucasus and Black Sea region.

Turkey was also angered by Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, accusing Moscow of violating the rights of Crimean Tatars. The Muslim Tatars have long had close ties to Turkey.

Russia annexed Crimea??! I thought that was Obama! Or Hillary! Or future-Hillary! Someone like that.

Persecution by the state

Aug 9th, 2016 10:32 am | By

From the “what are they thinking?!” files

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood, a group classified as a terrorist group in Egypt, qualify for asylum in the UK if they are considered under threat of persecution. In its revised guidelines on the group, the UK Home Office said that asylum can be sought over “a fear of persecution or serious harm by the state because of the person’s actual or perceived involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood.”

The 22-page document Country Information and Guidance Egypt: Muslim Brotherhood, was updated this month. It said that in cases of high profile supporters of the group, including journalists, at risk of persecution, “a grant of asylum would be appropriate.”

Well don’t stop there. Grant asylum to the people who took over Malheur National Wildlife Refuge last winter too, because they’re being “persecuted” by the state right now, for breaking a whole bunch of laws.

Oh that was today?

Aug 8th, 2016 4:20 pm | By

Surprise surprise: Samia Shahid’s ex-husband, father and cousin have failed to show up for a court appearance.

Days after forensic tests by Pakistani police indicated that 28-year-old Samia Shahid was strangled, a lawyer for the three suspects told the court in Jhelum, in Pakistan’s Punjab province, that they were being illegally detained by police.

However, the senior officer in charge of the police station where the murder case has been registered said the trio are on the run.

Oh I’m sure they just forgot to wind the alarm clock.

Malik Ageel, station house officer (SHO) of the Mangla police station in question, denied any knowledge of the whereabouts of the accused. “We questioned them when they came in but then let them go. They are on the run but we will find them,” he claimed.

The court had been due to hear arguments from both sides on Saturday and was to decide on whether to extend Shakeel’s pre-arrest bail. After the suspects failed to appear, the judge extended Shakeel’s bail until the 13 August and told the SHO to produce him and the rest of the accused to the courts by that date.

The judge also recommended that the lawyer of the accused file a formal complaint of kidnapping against the SHO, so action would be taken against him if he failed to produce the defendant in court by 13 August.

Of course if the accused are in fact on the run, it won’t do much good to take action against the station house officer, who doesn’t know where they are.

From lily white Christianist Americans

Aug 8th, 2016 3:40 pm | By

Jim Wright has an eloquent denunciation of the lying ways of people like Michele Bachmann and outlets like The Daily Caller.

ou know, for somebody who loudly and routinely claims to be such a pious Christian, she sure missed the boat on that whole “Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor…” rule.

First, The Daily Caller?

Seriously? The Daily Caller? You should be slapped upside the head repeatedly for using the The Daily Caller as any kind of reference. It’s true! I read it on The Daily Ca <SLAP!> No really it’s <SLAP!> But <SLAP! SLAP! SLAP! AND SHUT THE FUCK UP and SLAP! for good measure> The Daily Caller, Jesus H Christ.

That said, the article she references is just a bunch of random information cobbled together in no particular coherence supposedly describing how 31 ISIS terrorists have been arrested in the US in the last year — except none of the information provided actually supports the headline in any way. Which is pretty goddamned typical of The Daily Caller where the standard editorial technique is to post an inflammatory headline and smear dog shit in the space under it. And this works, because those who use The Daily Caller as a reference can’t actually read anyway.

The headline is: 31 Suspected ISIS Terrorists Have Been Arrested In The U.S. In The Past Year. Sure enough, the article doesn’t demonstrate that.

Jim Wright sums up:

This hysterical, frightened, hateful, bigoted, ignorant, delusional, backward, shameful, false, ridiculous mindset from lily white Christianist Americans is a FAR, FAR, FAR greater threat to liberty, freedom, and America than any immigrant.

Yes but they’re our threat to liberty, freedom, and America.

An exercise in sharia-compliance

Aug 8th, 2016 12:16 pm | By

Gita Sahgal on the Home Office inquiry into Sharia courts:

Feminist campaigners from minority women’s organisations in Britain, backed by prominent women human rights advocates from all over the world, wrote an Open Letter to Theresa May, then Home Secretary, criticising the way she was intending to carry out a long-awaited review of sharia in Britain.  May was forced to defend ‘one law for all’ when she became Prime Minister.

An investigation shows that the concerns of campaigners such as myself were well-founded. The Home Office has established a panel which is fit for the purpose of a theological exercise rather than a human rights investigation. The appointment of a theologian to chair it and imams as advisors to the Review Panel, was a thoroughly bad sign as far as feminists were concerned.

Having imams as advisors is not unlike putting foxes in charge of the hen house, or bankers in charge of bank regulation. Imams have an interest.

If the Sharia Review Panel is examined as an outcome of counter-extremist measures, as well as the battle of the Church of England to create religious exemptions from secular law, then its composition makes perfect sense. That probably explains why the Home Office and the panel Chair, the theologian Mona Siddiqui, have remained unmoved as evidence of discrimination on the panel emerges.

They’re doing an inquiry that ensures a particular finding.

The One Law for All campaign looked into the backgrounds of the imams. One of them, Said Ali Abbas Razawi, has a disturbing tendency to talk about end times in apocalyptic and very sexist terms:

“Homosexuality will increase, zinaa [adultery] will increase in society; illegitimacy will increase in society. Men will look like women; women will look like men. What does that mean? What does that mean? That means men won’t be manly anymore….. Heralding the last days… they will be wearing clothes which are tight and will be see through. They will have clothes but they won’t have clothes on.”

It’s like putting Catholic priests in charge of investigating child abuse in the Catholic church. Guess what they will find!

Mona Siddiqui, Chair of the Reveiew Panel, told the Independent that imams are on the panel because they ‘have the ear of the community’; a remark that lead to such outrage, that we decided to call for a boycott of the inquiry.

But the same Imam. Said Ali Abbas Razawi, leads delegations to Iran, and attacks ISIS. His apocalyptic views on the end times are simply not alarming to officials dealing in counter-extremism. The dominant view of counter-extremist officials is that fundamentalists or what they like to call ‘non-violent extremists’ or sometimes ‘moderates’ are part of the solution.

It’s a very low bar. Just “not into blowing people up” is not good enough. Non-bombers who want to keep women subordinate are still a threat to women, even if the women do get to keep all their limbs.

The Home Office responds to all inquires by saying the imams are experts, yes really, experts, they know all about the theology, they’re experts. But that’s not the question.

The government has carefully restricted what the independent panel is supposed to do. Rather than examine the dangers of legal pluralism, as campaigners had suggested, it endorsed ‘sharia law’ as ‘a source of guidance to many Muslims, ‘and limited the panel to ‘assessing whether Sharia may be being misused, or exploited, in a way that may discriminate against certain groups, undermine shared values or cause social harms.’  The focus on group rights and social cohesion gives the game away. Harms to women are to be investigated, but only in the most limited way.

Because women’s rights aren’t among the group rights the Home Office is seeking to protect.

Then the Home Office added a judge who is a Christian theocrat to the panel.

Sir Mark Hedley is a former Judge of the family division. He is an active Christian in the Church of England, the Deputy Chair of the Clergy Discipline Commission, Deputy President of Tribunals and is associated with the Lawyers Christian Fellowship. His knowledge of ecclesiastical courts, and the values of a fundamentalist organisation makes him the closest thing to a sharia court judge that it is possible to find in the English judiciary.

Lawyers associated with the Fellowship vigorously oppose equality legislation. They vocally oppose the removal of religious privilege, and are vitriolic about ‘the homosexual lobby’. They have fought hard to exempt religious individuals or groups from complying with legislation on same sex marriage, adoption by single sex couples and other issues important to Christian fundamentalists. The National Secular Society accuses them of bullying tactics. Their recent campaigns have largely failed, but not before both Anglican and Catholic Churches threatened to withdraw their services from vulnerable individuals and teamed up with Muslim groups to try and defeat the proposals which they claimed would force them to ‘actively condone and promote homosexuality.’

Gita made extensive efforts to talk to the people in charge, and they brushed her off.

At the end of this back and forth, all the organisations which had called for the boycott received letters from the Sharia Review. There was no acknowledgement of any of the criticisms made. The campaigners were blandly asked to give evidence at the Review on August 9th, ‘As well as speaking to yourself, the review team are keen to hear from people with first hand experience of the application of Sharia law. ‘

Not a single mention was made of the Open Letter, the boycott, or any of the concerns raised.

As it stands, the Home Office and the Review Panel fail to meet the most basic standards on impartiality, equality impact and safeguarding. It is an exercise in sharia-compliance and a dangerous tool of the government’s counter-extremism strategy.

There won’t be a single chicken left.


Aug 8th, 2016 10:34 am | By

On today’s list of horrors – a massive bombing at a government hospital in Quetta, Pakistan.

Police official Afzal Khan says several people were also wounded in Monday’s blast, which took place shortly after the body of a prominent lawyer killed in a shooting attack earlier in the day was brought to the hospital.

Khan says dozens of lawyers and journalists were present inside the hospital when the bomb went off. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Anwalullah Kakar, the government spokesman in southwestern Baluchistan province, says an investigation is underway.

It was also unknown who was behind the killing of the lawyer, Bilal Kasi, who was gunned down on his way to court earlier in the day.

About four hours later the Times updated:

Pakistani police say a suicide bomber carried out the attack at the government-run hospital in the southwestern city of Quetta that killed 53 people and wounded dozens.

Senior police officer Zahoor Ahmed Afridi says bomb disposal experts have informed him that remains of the attacker have been found at the scene after Monday’s bombing.

Ali Zafar, the top leader of Pakistan’s main lawyers’ association, denounced the bombing as “an attack on justice.” He said lawyers across the country will observe three days of mourning and will stay away from court appointments to express solidarity with those killed in the attack.

The current body count is 67 killed, 92 injured. Another update:

A breakaway faction of the Taliban in Pakistan has claimed responsibility for the suicide attack at a hospital in the southwestern city of Quetta which killed at least 64 people.

In a statement, Ahsanullah Ahsan, spokesman for Jamaat-ul-Ahrar militant group, also said their men killed Bilal Kasi, the president of Baluchistan Bar Association, and then targeted the mourners who had gathered at the government-run Civil Hospital. The group has been behind several acts of terrorism in Pakistan in recent years. The claim could not be independently verified.

God hates humans.

Man’s wife wins medal

Aug 8th, 2016 10:15 am | By

Even at the Olympics. Even when women win gold medals at the Olympics – still they are called “wife of Man” instead of their own damn name or their event is given a cutesy belittling label.

Take judo. Majlinda Kelmendi made history when she became Kosovo’s first ever Olympic medallist – and a gold medallist to boot.

Her triumph in the 52kg event against Italy’s Odette Giuffrid marked a huge moment for a war-torn country that declared independence from Serbia eight years ago, and was only admitted into the International Olympic Committee in 2014.

And yet many viewers were taken aback as one BBC commentator described the contest – a sophisticated match-up of strength and guile – as a “catfight”.

A catfight. Geddit? Two bitchy girls clawing each other, hahahahahahaha girls are so stupid.

But sometimes they’re married to a man, so at least that helps them not be so insignificant and trivial.

Corey Cogdell-Unrein won a bronze medal in the women’s trap shooting – the second for the US shooting team in Rio and her second Olympic medal.

This is how the Chicago Tribune reported the news.

Chicago Tribune ✔ @chicagotribune
Wife of a Bears’ lineman wins a bronze medal today in Rio Olympics
2:33 PM – 7 Aug 2016

A guy’s wife won a bronze medal. Nice job, honey. Congratulations, babe. Well done, sweetheart.

A bunch of men telling women what’s good for them

Aug 7th, 2016 3:45 pm | By

Speaking of the Republican party…Politico points out that there are fewer Republican women in Congress than there were ten years ago.

So far this year, Republicans have nominated women in just 26 of the 308 congressional districts that have held primaries. That’s a mere 8 percent—and it’s in line with the current makeup of the House Republican Conference, which is 91 percent male and 9 percent female.

Welllll, you know, Christina Hoff Sommers would say that’s because women prefer not to go into Congress, and you can’t mess with people’s preferences. It’s not at all structural or systemic or a result of the several thousand roadblocks there are in the way of women who seek public office. The way things are is exactly how they’re supposed to be, because they’re exactly how everyone intended them to be, so relax and go back to sleep now, after sending a large donation to the American Enterprise Institute.

During the past decade, that disparity has actually grown wider, as wave elections swept out a number of established Republican members of Congress (in 2006, 2008 and 2012), and swept in a lot of new ones (in 2010 and 2014). Since 2006, the proportion of women in the House GOP caucus has dropped from 11 percent to just 9 percent today. Although there are now 247 Republicans in the House, up from 229 a decade ago, there are fewer women: 22, down from 25.

Over the same period, Democratic women took advantage of these electoral shifts, replacing men from their party’s old boys’ network with women backed by EMILY’s List and other advocacy groups seeking to increase women’s representation in office. From 2006 to today, women grew from 21 percent of the House Democratic Caucus to 33 percent. And the party isn’t about to let anyone forget it: Their new class was on display in full force when the House’s Democratic women gathered on stage behind Nancy Pelosi during the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

Women cominna getcha!

This growing disparity, with Democrats electing ever more women and Republicans ever fewer, repeats at every level of government: U.S. Senate, statewide offices, upper and lower state legislatures, and municipalities. (The Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University maintains useful records on this.) What that means is that there’s no sign the GOP’s current woman problem is going to get any better any time soon.

It’s almost as if the Republican party doesn’t really feel all that welcoming to women.

The decline of the Republican woman is a public relations disaster for the GOP.

It means that every time a male Republican officeholder or candidate puts his foot in his mouth about women—from former Congressman Todd “legitimate rape” Akin to Donald “blood coming out of her wherever” Trump—effectively the only Republicans who can rush to their defense are other men. Whenever Republican leaders gather to speak about welfare, abortion, the minimum wage or pay equity, they look like a bunch of men telling women what’s good for them.

Look like? Look like? They don’t look like, they are.

To be honest, though, I don’t consider this a problem, because I don’t think women should be Republicans; Republicans don’t look out for the interests of women. If the Republican party doesn’t want to fix that problem, that’s their tough luck.

It is a fact

Aug 7th, 2016 11:03 am | By

One of the tributaries that flowed into the river of Nazi antisemitism – a pastoral letter by a senior German Polish cardinal read out in every Catholic church in the country in 1936 included this assertion:

It is a fact that the Jews are fighting against the Catholic Church, persisting in free-thinking, and are the vanguard of godlessness, Bolshevism and subversion. It is a fact that the Jewish influence on morality is pernicious and that their publishing houses disseminate pornography. It is a fact that Jews deceive, levy interest, and are pimps. It is a fact that the religious and ethical influence of the Jewish young people on Polish young people is a negative one.

Other than that

Guest post: He would survey the smoking ruins and announce that they were losers anyway

Aug 7th, 2016 10:34 am | By

Originally a comment by A Masked Avenger on The classic symptoms of medium-grade mania.

Adult child of narcissist here. While I’m not qualified to diagnose, and Drumpf is not my patient, he checks every box for narcissistic personality disorder. This idea of mania is interesting, but I’d suggest that if so his mania is comorbid with NPD.

Although the specifics are sometimes surprising, all of his behaviors are either predictable or explainable by this hypothesis. The fact that he became jealous of a baby stealing attention from him is classic. ACoNs can tell stories of their parents visiting and losing it because a new baby stole their show. “She actually believed I love when a baby cries while I’m speaking.” That’s right: I’M speaking, you rude fucking baby.

He recently accused fire marshals of turning away supporters from in-filled halls. It reads to me as random bullshit triggered by this same stream of consciousness. First he brags about his many fans; then it occurs to him to comment that this is only a small sample of his many many more fans; then he suggests that many more fans were disappointed not to be present; then it hits him that someone must be to blame for that; and of course all detractors and other ego-threats are ultimately manifestations of a single entity (Not-Me), just as most of us are extensions of his ego; therefore the fire marshals can only thwart him if they’re supporting Hillary and probably acting on her direct orders…

For me it’s quite triggering. I’ve rid my life of one malignant person for whom I don’t exist except as an extension of and food supply for his ego, and who will do anything, cause unlimited harm, in service to his ego, without any conscience at all. And here another who wants to run the entire country I live in, and get his hands on the nuclear football. (My hypothesis predicts that if it were up to only himself, he would nuke a country–or a US city–without hesitation if he perceived it as a threat to his ego. He would survey the smoking ruins and announce that they were losers anyway.)

And worse are the enablers–all the family members who tell you it’s you, not him, and who validate his every narcissistic fantasy. Partly to stay on his good side, and partly because he has made that kind of narcissistic behavior the new normal. We’re now surrounded by millions who simultaneously believe he will build a wall and are prepared to tell us we’re idiots for ever thinking he meant that literally.

So many that are talented people

Aug 7th, 2016 9:36 am | By

When asked what women he might appoint to his cabinet, Trump can’t think of any except his daughter.

“I want to know just as a female, who you would actually put into office as one of the first females in your cabinet?” asked Angelia Savage, a reporter with “First Coast News.”

“Well there are so many different ones to choose, I can tell you everybody would say — ‘Put Ivanka in! Put Ivanka in!’ You know that, right?” Trump said.

“She’s very popular, she’s done very well. And you know Ivanka very well. But there really are so many that are talented people, like you,” he said to Savage, “You’re so talented, I don’t know if your viewers know that.”

Ok, he can’t think of any except his daughter and the one sitting in front of him at the time.

Flirtations with fascism

Aug 7th, 2016 9:04 am | By

The Harvard Republican Club has “for the first time in 128 years” declined to endorse the Republican candidate for president.

The club gives policy reasons but the real energy is in the problems with Trump the human being.

Perhaps most importantly, however, Donald Trump simply does not possess the temperament and character necessary to lead the United States through an increasingly perilous world. The last week should have made obvious to all what has been obvious to most for more than a year. In response to any slight –perceived or real– Donald Trump lashes out viciously and irresponsibly. In Trump’s eyes, disagreement with his actions or his policies warrants incessant name calling and derision: stupid, lying, fat, ugly, weak, failing, idiot –and that’s just his “fellow” Republicans.

He isn’t eschewing political correctness. He is eschewing basic human decency.

That’s good. That’s a good line. Mind you, people who make a show of “eschewing political correctness” usually are eschewing human decency, but Trump is doing it on a national stage.

Donald Trump, despite spending more than a year on the campaign trail, has either refused or been unable to educate himself on issues that matter most to Americans like us. He speaks only in platitudes, about greatness, success, and winning. Time and time again, Trump has demonstrated his complete lack of knowledge on critical matters, meandering from position to position over the course of the election. When confronted about these frequent reversals, Trump lies in a manner more brazen and shameless than anything politics has ever seen.

Millions of people across the country are feeling despondent. Their hours have been cut, wages slashed, jobs even shipped overseas. But Donald Trump doesn’t have a plan to fix that. He has a plan to exploit that.

Donald Trump is a threat to the survival of the Republic. His authoritarian tendencies and flirtations with fascism are unparalleled in the history of our democracy. He hopes to divide us by race, by class, and by religion, instilling enough fear and anxiety to propel himself to the White House. He is looking to to pit neighbor against neighbor, friend against friend, American against American. We will not stand for this vitriolic rhetoric that is poisoning our country and our children.

Trump will say they’re losers.

Gang rape videos are a popular seller

Aug 6th, 2016 5:32 pm | By

I’m finding this one hard to read without nausea. Gang rape videos are a hot item in Uttar Pradesh.

According to Reuters, gang rape videos have become a popular seller in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state located in the northern region of the country.

Graphic cellphone videos depicting gang rapes are being bought and sold inside shops in the state. The videos last anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes, and can cost between 75 cents and $2. The disturbing trend is indicative that there has been an increase in gang rape perpetrators using mobile phones to document their horrific crimes — and an increase in demand to view such depraved content.

So there are gang rapes, and there is filming of gang rapes, and the resulting films are sold, and they’re popular.

There just is no limit to how much women are hated, is there.

The police say they’re trying to stop it, but it’s really difficult, Mom.

Reuters has more.

Last week, a woman and her 14-year-old daughter were dragged from their vehicle at gunpoint on a major highway and gang-raped for hours in nearby fields. Local media reported that initially the police did not respond to a call for help.

The daily Indian Express reported that this week another woman was gang-raped in Uttar Pradesh, and said the incident had been recorded on a mobile phone.

Increasingly, perpetrators are recording their crimes on mobile phones to use as a blackmailing tool and to dissuade victims from going to the police, the Times of India said.

That’s pretty astonishing – the perps document the crime, to prevent police action. I’m more used to a setup where documenting a crime makes it more possible to prosecute, not less.

Story via the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change.


Aug 6th, 2016 4:56 pm | By

Out Sports tells us about a not so festive chant in Rio:

Soccer fans at the opening matches of the Olympic women’s soccer tournament chanted homophobic slurs, among other horrible things, at various players on Wednesday. Reports from various sources say the Portuguese term “bicha” was tossed around liberally by fans during the matches; That is similar to the “puto” chants we have heard from fans of Mexico and other Latin American countries.

The Los Angeles Times‘ Kevin Baxter, who is in Brazil covering the Olympics, said that the homophobic slur was aimed at the U.S. Women’s National Team during its 2-0 victory over New Zealand on Wednesday. At least one of the USWNT players — Megan Rapinoe — is gay, as is head coach Jill Ellis.

You know what else about them? They’re women. Ew, sick, right?

The chant surfaced during the Australia-Canada match as well, in which at least four players identify publicly as LGBT. One of those players is Stephanie Labbé, the Canadian goalkeeper. Given the chant surfaces when the goalkeeper occupies the ball, it’s particularly gross that they would use it specifically targeting Labbé.

The use of “bicha” by fans in men’s matches isn’t new. Janet Lever talks about it in her 1995 book,Soccer Madness: Brazil’s Passion for the World’s Most Popular Sport, describing up to 100,000 people chanting the slur in unison. However, it’s a bit odd for the slur to surface in women’s matches, as it’s a term aimed at men.

Maybe everybody could chant whatever their own language’s word is for human being. Human being! Human being!!

It would make a change, at least.