Notes and Comment Blog

No guns, no cattle

Jan 27th, 2016 4:49 pm | By

From Facebook:

Blitzen River at Malheur:

Marilyn Miller

Nice timing

Jan 27th, 2016 11:52 am | By

And, speaking of the 71st anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz – Iran is holding another “Holocaust cartoons” contest.

Just in time for International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Iranian government has announced that it will be holding another “Holocaust Cartoons Contest,” in which the cartoonist who most viciously mocks the Nazi genocide will be awarded $50,000.

January 27 1945

Jan 27th, 2016 11:07 am | By

71 years ago today, Soviet troops arrived at Auschwitz. Survivors commemorated the date.

Survivors arrived with wreaths at a former execution site on the grounds of what now is the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and State Museum.

Flowers and candles were laid at the site where thousands were executed by firing squad, under the windows of prisoners’ living quarters, before methods of mass murder in gas chambers were introduced by the camp’s German administrators.

Around 1.5 million people were killed in Auschwitz alone, mostly Jews, but also Poles, Roma, Soviet prisoners of war, homosexuals and other minorities. The camp has since become a symbol of the horrors of the Holocaust.

Beware of inciting hatred. It’s so easy to do, and so disquietingly popular.


Reading a book also not advised

Jan 27th, 2016 10:36 am | By

High on the list of things not to do while driving. The Detroit Free Press:

Police say a man who was watching a movie on his phone has died in a car crash on a Detroit highway.

Clifford Ray Jones of Detroit was partially ejected through the sunroof when his 1996 Toyota rolled in the wee hours Sunday.

Fox 2 News reported that Michigan State Police said the man had been watching pornography and masturbating while driving. MSP also said he was not wearing pants at the time of the crash.

Driving is one of those activities that really does demand full attention.


Killing children

Jan 27th, 2016 10:25 am | By

Amnesty International calls Iran on its bullshit.

Scores of youths in Iran are languishing on death row for crimes committed under the age of 18, said Amnesty International in a damning new report published today. The report debunks recent attempts by Iran’s authorities to whitewash their continuing violations of children’s rights and deflect criticism of their appalling record as one of the world’s last executioners of juvenile offenders.

Growing up on death row: The death penalty and juvenile offenders in Iran reveals that Iran has continued to consign juvenile offenders to the gallows, while trumpeting as major advances, piecemeal reforms that fail to abolish the death penalty against juvenile offenders.

“This report sheds light on Iran’s shameful disregard for the rights of children. Iran is one of the few countries that continues to execute juvenile offenders in blatant violation of the absolute legal prohibition on the use of the death penalty against people under the age of 18 years at the time of the crime,” said Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

Isn’t it interesting how theocratic countries treat people like shit. Isn’t it interesting how theocrats worship a god who thinks human beings are shit. What a loathsome god it is, that prefers punishing people in horrible ways over making people better.

“Despite some juvenile justice reforms, Iran continues to lag behind the rest of the world, maintaining laws that permit girls as young as nine and boys as young as 15 to be sentenced to death.”

Nice touch that girls have it so much worse.

A total of eight people were arrested

Jan 27th, 2016 8:52 am | By

The Washington Post on the news from Harney County, Oregon:

Federal agents moved early Wednesday morning to seal off a remote wildlife refuge in Oregon, hours after authorities arrested several leaders of the armed activists who had seized the land in a shootout that killed one of the group’s most prominent members.

In the weeks since the group began its occupation, local and federal law enforcement officials had called for the occupation to end peacefully. On Tuesday, after these calls and attempts at negotiations went nowhere, authorities moved to arrest several group members while they were away from the compound. A total of eight people were arrested, at the shootout and other locations.


After the exchange of gunfire on a highway, Ammon Bundy, the group’s leader, and others were arrested on federal charges. Other members of the group remained at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, but before the sun rose over a remote swath of eastern Oregon previously best known for its bird-watching, authorities said they were blocking access to the federal land.

In a statement, the FBI and Oregon State Police said that they had established checkpoints along key routes to the refuge and that anyone who tries to travel inside would be arrested. Officials said people leaving the refuge would have their names confirmed and vehicles searched, but they did not say whether those people would be arrested.

Finally. I still don’t understand why they didn’t seal off the road at the beginning.

The FBI had refrained from making arrests on the refuge because it did not want to be seen as storming the compound, and officials had publicly said they sought a peaceful resolution. Up to this point, law enforcement has not impeded the travel of occupiers, a law enforcement official said Wednesday.

“But as we call for a peaceful resolution, we’re hoping that people on the refuge will now depart,” said the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing situation.

So instead the FBI is seen as sitting on its ass while hundreds of people illegally occupy a publicly owned wildlife refuge.

The FBI and Oregon State Police have also not said yet how many shots were fired, who fired them or identified the person who was killed. The person killed was later identified as LaVoy Finicum, who was a spokesman for the group, according to occupiers as well as Nevada assembly woman familiar with the occupiers and a Facebook page for Bundy’s father’s ranch. Finicum’s daughter also told the Oregonian that he was killed.

The people at the refuge are still being defiant.

Some worried that the prolonged success of armed standoffs like those at Malheur and Cliven Bundy’s ranch in 2014 would only encourage further showdowns. Brown and local officials in Burns demanded to know why U.S. officials hadn’t taken action.

Well quite. How could that prolonged success not encourage more such armed occupations?

But an image posted on the Bundy Ranch Facebook page condemned the violent outcome.

“Tonight peaceful patriots were attacked on a remote road for supporting the constitution. One was killed,” it read. “Who are the terrorists?”

Of course. They’ll be back.

Lesser charge

Jan 26th, 2016 5:56 pm | By

So if a guy gets really mad at his wife because she says she’s leaving him for another man, then it’s not murder when he kills her, it’s manslaughter. He was really pissed off, you see.

Jonathon Cudworth, 36, of Northbourne, near Deal in Kent, was cleared of murder but found guilty of manslaughter at Canterbury Crown Court.

During the trial, jurors heard Cudworth killed Polish-born Mariola, known as Mijka, because he feared she was going to leave him for another man.

Judge Adele Williams told Cudworth it was a “brutal, callous killing”.

When Cudworth gave evidence, he told jurors the couple had argued after she was late home from work, he grabbed her by the neck to stop her pushing him and then picked up a knife and stabbed her.

Then he hid the body and reported her missing.

After the hearing, Det Insp Richard Vickery said the killing was “a senseless act on an innocent woman”.

He said the families involved had been through an incredibly emotional ordeal because of Cudworth’s actions, not least because he refused to reveal where he had disposed of her body.

But he was really really pissed off, you see.

What he likes to think

Jan 26th, 2016 5:22 pm | By

Richard Dawkins chats with the New Zealand journalist Adam Dudding, starting with the former’s upcoming appearance at Wellington’s Michael Fowler centre during the New Zealand Festival in March.

In 2006, partly inspired by America’s lurch towards “theocracy” under born-again Christian George W Bush, Dawkins finally made his targetting of religion explicit, launching a blistering attack with his book The God Delusion. The book, which has since sold three milllion copies, transformed him from the evolution guy to the atheism guy.

He still writes and talks about science. Once we’re done with this interview he’ll spend the day checking proofs of a revised edition of his 2004 book The Ancestor’s Tale, but these days its his proclivity for bothering the god-botherers that largely defines his public profile.

Sometimes he wouldn’t mind a bit more help.

“I would like to see more activists. It’s a bit unfortunate if the impression gets around that there are only a few atheists – me and Sam Harris [author of The End of Faith] and so on – where the fact is that most intellectuals are atheists.”

It’s interesting then that he’s working so hard to turn so many of us away.

In Brief Candle in the Dark, Dawkins writes that even two of his heavy-hitting allies in science communication – American physicists Lawrence M Krauss and Neil deGrasse Tyson – have taken him to task for his alienating tone. He says he’s taken what they say to heart.

Well if he says that, he’s deep in denial. His alienating tone is getting more so by the day.

Yet that tone is still there in the YouTube clips, in the tweets, in the books: a sort of bristling conviction about his own rectitude and an exasperation with, maybe even a contempt for, those who just don’t get it. Is it contempt?

“Well,” says Dawkins, “when it comes to Young Earth creationists [those who say God literally created the entire universe planet 10,000 or fewer years ago], perhaps contempt is not too strong a word.

“But I’m rather fond of quoting British journalist Johan Hari – that’s H-A-R-I – who said, ‘I respect you too much to respect your ridiculous beliefs. That’s making the distinction between contempt for the belief, which I think is legitimate, and contempt for the person, which is probably not, because they may be ignorant, and ignorance is no crime.”

Demolishing a weak argument is one thing, but sometimes he almost seems angry when arguing his corner. Is he?

“There probably is a little bit of anger, but I like to think I keep it under control better than many people. Mostly when people meet me they don’t find me angry.”

Oh, christ. I’m sure he does “like to think” that, but it’s a crock of shit. He doesn’t keep it under control better than many people. He’s worse at it than most people. (I’m terrible at it myself, but that’s why I would never make that claim.) He makes a hobby of displaying his rancid anger on Twitter every day.

What really annoys him, though, is some of “what I would call my own people – decent liberal people who bend over backwards to apologise for all sorts of awful things like misogyny, homophobia, stonings and beheadings.”

They’ll say this stuff is all the fault of the West – that it’s because of the bombing and drones and things like that.

“There’s an awful tendency to turn a blind eye to evil things that are being done in the name of religion because of the political terror of being thought racist.”

Fair point, but some of the people who cheer Dawkinson on when he says stuff like this are, well, actual racists.

Yes, says Dawkins, that happens, and it’s “distressing” to have the wrong sort of people agreeing with you, but again that’s because the liberal left has left a vacuum.

In his case, no, not entirely. A lot of it is because he’s “the wrong sort of people” himself. Sharing that video by Carl Benjamin aka Sargon of Akkad is the latest pulsating neon sign of that.

Waverers can read the 370-odd pages of The God Delusion, or the 700-odd pages of the new edition of The Ancestor’s Tale once he’s read those proofs, or they can follow him on Twitter, where he’s knocked out 29,000 tweets since 2008 to 1.3 million followers.

Does he think his bite-sized provocations on Twitter about the folly of clergy, the viciousness of theocratic states, the timidity of western liberals and the political correctness of modern academia are achieving much?

“I don’t know,” says Dawkins. “I really don’t.

“I like to think my tweets are mostly reasonably good-humoured. They’re often satirical. Many people don’t get them, but that’s to be expected.

There it is again. He likes to think his tweets are mostly reasonably good-humoured – yes no doubt he does like to think that, but they aren’t. Some of them are venomous. Calling a kid in junior high school “Hoax Boy” over and over is venomous; his constant attacks on feminists are venomous. He is not a nice matey guy.


I guess we all have our delusions.

The two men share spiritual values

Jan 26th, 2016 4:39 pm | By

Nothing’s too good for the Iranian president.

Italian officials keen to spare the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, any possible offence on his visit to Rome covered up nude statues at the city’s Capitoline Museum, where Rouhani met Matteo Renzi, the Italian prime minister.

Photographs of Monday’s visit show both men standing near a grand equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor. Nude statues in the vicinity were covered by large white panels.

I think the Italian officials misunderstand. It’s not that the Iranian mullahs and government hate statues of naked women, it’s that they hate women – live women, women walking around and breathing, women who could cause trouble for them. The male theocrats aren’t prudes, they just want to control women. Statues are only statues, and besides they’re Italian, and in Italy.

The decision to cover the artwork was seen as a sign of respect for the Iranian president, according to the Italian news agency Ansa. Not everyone agreed.

“Respect for other cultures cannot and must not mean negating our own,” said Luca Squeri, a lawmaker in Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right Forza Italia party. “This isn’t respect, it’s cancelling out differences and it’s a kind of surrender.”

In another placatory gesture by Italian officials, alcohol was not served at an official dinner held in Rouhani’s honour, abiding by a standard diplomatic gesture for visiting Muslim dignitaries.

That’s a whole different thing though. It’s not comparable. Alcohol isn’t a person. Alcohol doesn’t have rights that the Iranian regime violates. The hatred of non-muffled women leads to violations of the rights of living breathing walking talking women. That’s a great deal more important then whether or not alcohol is served.

Rouhani’s visit to Europehis first since sanctions were lifted in Iran – was supposed to take place in November but was delayed following the Paris terror attacks. On Tuesday, he had a private meeting with Pope Francis and other top church officials where the two leaders held “cordial” talks, the Vatican said, adding that the two men shared “common spiritual values”.

Of course they do, especially the “value” that women are stupid and inferior and have to be suppressed.

Garbage out

Jan 26th, 2016 11:04 am | By

Dawkins this morning, a couple of hours ago.

Richard Dawkins‏@RichardDawkins
Obviously doesn’t apply to vast majority of feminists, among whom I count myself. But the minority are pernicious. …

Guest post: The solution is not to try to find groups to blame

Jan 26th, 2016 10:06 am | By

Originally a comment by Bernard Hurley on All the women SPIEGEL likes to call the “old feminists”.

About 25 years ago I was a parent governor of a school in Ilford in East London. According to their statistics, the intake was 60% Muslim. Most were from Bangladesh but there were some Kurds. At the time, apart from language difficulties, I had no problem talking to any of the mothers and they seemed to have no problem approaching me about any issues they might have with the school. One of then told me that she likes living in England because she can have more of a say about how her children are brought up. Most of these people came to England because they wanted a more western way of life, not because they were trying to escape from anything and so had some sort of commitment to finding out how the society works and what its values are.

However things seem to have changed – I have been told by one of my Muslim friends who still lives in the area that this would not be possible today. He puts this down to the spreading of Islamist propaganda among younger Muslims. Although I hadn’t realised it myself, I had provided a small area in which these women could start to find a way out of some of the traditional misogyny of the communities they came from. Today the Islamists would simply not allow this to happen. Nevertheless most Muslims who live in the area would be shocked by what happened in Cologne.

Even though most Muslims are not Islamists, the mere existence of Islamism as a political force will tend to make the traditional misogyny of some Muslim communities seem more acceptable. I should imagine that most of the perpetrators in Cologne were not in the West out of choice, had no idea what Western values are and, even if they rejected it, have been influenced by the Islamism that has affected the culture they were brought up in. Even so, even though there were many of them, they are but a small proportion of all the young male refugees to have come to Europe recently.

The solution, as always, is not to try to find groups to blame but to find out what exactly happened and why and to work out what to do about it.

Not a good precedent

Jan 25th, 2016 6:21 pm | By

BBC News:

Sweden’s prime minister has described as a “terrible crime” the stabbing of a female employee at a centre for young asylum seekers.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven visited the centre for unaccompanied migrants in Molndal, near Gothenburg, hours after the killing.

The suspect, an asylum seeker aged 15, has been arrested for the killing of the employee, who was 22.

Police officers arriving at the scene found a “crime scene with a lot of blood”, said police press spokesman Thomas Fuxborg.

“The perpetrator had been overpowered by other residents, people were down and upset.”

The unnamed victim died in hospital of her injuries.

So that’s appalling.


A felony charge of tampering with a governmental record

Jan 25th, 2016 5:17 pm | By

Aw gee, that attempt to damage Planned Parenthood has turned around and gone the other way.

A county grand jury here that was investigating allegations of misconduct against Planned Parenthood has instead indicted two anti-abortion activists who made videos of the organization.

In a statement, the Harris County district attorney, Devon Anderson, said Monday that the director of the Center for Medical Progress, David Daleiden, had been indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record and a misdemeanor count related to purchasing human organs.

Well that backfired.

Another center employee, Sandra Merritt, was indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record.

The Center for Medical Progress had covertly shot videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the provision of body parts from aborted fetuses for research. Mr. Daleiden, 26, had posed as a biotechnology representative to infiltrate Planned Parenthood affiliates and surreptitiously record his attempts to procure tissue for research.

The activists have claimed that Planned Parenthood has engaged in the illegal sale of body parts — a charge the organization has firmly denied.

And the “activists” faked the video in hopes of framing Planned Parenthood.

Mr. Daleiden has been praised as a hero by some religious opponents of abortion. On Thursday, Mr. Daleiden was a featured guest at an Evangelicals for Life conference and was interviewed by Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Jim Daly, the president of Focus on the Family.

Framing people for things they didn’t do is so heroic.

“This is how a good Muslim speaks”

Jan 25th, 2016 4:51 pm | By

Oh gawd.

ZoéS on Twitter:

Zoé S. @ztsamudz
Even HE must’ve realized how bad it was because he deleted it. Not to worry, here it is screenshot for posterity.

Embedded image permalink

This is how a good Muslim speaks. And how she dresses. And wears her beautiful hair.

Then a link to the World Government Summit.

God almighty.

All the women SPIEGEL likes to call the “old feminists”

Jan 25th, 2016 11:55 am | By

Spiegel Online gives us a conversation with two feminists on what happened in Cologne.

Alice Schwarzer, 73, the grande dame of German feminism, and Anne Wizorek, 34, a prominent member of the new generation of feminists, often have different views about the direction the women’s movement should take. For decades, Schwarzer — as publisher of Emma, the country’s highly influential women’s magazine — has been at the forefront of women’s issues. In more recent years, a younger generation of feminists, led by Wizorek, has sought to challenge Schwarzer’s preeminence.

I wonder if that last bit is true, or just Spiegel’s way of saying they’re not the same person, or something. If it is true I find it very tiresome. Why is there any need to “challenge” anyone’s “preeminence”? How can any social movement get anywhere if people are always too busy trying to knock each other off perches? How, specifically, can feminism ever get anywhere if women over 45 are invariably treated with hostility and contempt? Feminism has never stipulated that it’s only for women ages 20 to 45, and it shouldn’t, so the whole re-hashed Battle with Mommy is a bad idea.

Both women are concerned about recent developments in Cologne that saw mass sexual violence against women perpetrated by Muslim immigrants. The following is an excerpt from a combative interview with SPIEGEL in which the two share their at times divergent views on the violence and the consequences.

SPIEGEL: Ms. Schwarzer, Ms. Wizorek, what happened in Cologne on New Year’s Eve? Was it a particularly extreme example of sexism or the consequence of failed immigration policies?

Wizorek: The events were terrible and, given the scale, a new phenomenon. That’s why we need to take a very precise look at what happened. I really hope that the perpetrators are caught. The ensuing debate, though, unfortunately has had the wrong focus: It is wrong to only speak about sexualized violence if it is committed by migrants or refugees.

Schwarzer: The debate over sexual violence has re-emerged as a result of that night in Cologne. Even Germany’s justice minister, who for years allowed necessary reforms to tighten Germany’s rape laws torot in a drawer, has pulled them out again. But when you only speak using generalizations, you run the danger of denying the specific. In recent decades, millions of people have come to us from cultural groups within which women have absolutely no rights. They do not have a voice of their own and they are totally dependent on their fathers, brothers or husbands. That applies to North Africa and that applies to large parts of the Middle East. It isn’t always linked to Islam. But since the end of the 1970s, at the beginning of the revolution in Iran under Khomenei, we have experienced a politicization of Islam. From the beginning, it had a primary adversary: the emancipation of women. With more men now coming to us from this cultural sphere, and some additionally brutalized by civil wars, this is a problem. We cannot simply ignore it.

Wizorek hinted that perhaps we could, and should.

Schwarzer: Do you know what I just thought of, Anne? You were born in East Germany at the beginning of the 1980s, right?

Wizorek: Yes.

Schwarzer: It’s entirely OK that you missed certain things. In the 1960s and 1970s among the leftests in the West, one of the leading arguments against feminism was that it was only a subordinate issue. That’s what people said back then. The main issue was the class struggle.

Wizorek: I am familiar with the discussion.

So am I. We had it here, with class struggle replaced by struggle against racism. Women were told their struggle didn’t count.

Schwarzer: As soon as you opened your mouth and said the word woman, you were beaten down with the argument that you were betraying the class struggle. There are many poignant writings in which feminists first write pages about their class standpoint before getting to their actual issue. What was then known as class warfare is today called anti-racism. The threat of being accused of racism gave birth to false tolerance. Once, about 20 years ago, a police officer in Cologne told me, “Ms. Schwarzer, 70 to 80 percent of the rapists in Cologne are Turkish.” I was very upset and said: “Then good God, why don’t you bring the issue up?” Because only after you call a problem by name can you change it. And then he said, no way, that’s not politically opportune. So you see, the police have long been extremely frustrated by these hush-ups. I think that’s changing now, and that’s a good thing.

Wizorek: But that’s just another version of this terrible: “One should also be able to say …!”

Schwarzer: No, it’s the opposite. People aren’t stupid. They saw what was happening at the Cologne central station. A lawless space was created in the middle of a city of over a million. That has to be addressed and it has to be done so in a sober-minded way.

Then they agreed briefly, arguing that “groping” needed to be treated as a crime too, along with sexual harassment in general.

SPIEGEL: Ms. Schwarzer, what consequences will Cologne have?

Schwarzer: We need to finally be proactive in enlightening people from Islamic cultural groups. And this applies to immigrants already here as well as to current refugees. The German constitution stands above the Sharia. Schools need to offer classes on gender equality. You also have to offer an alternative to young men with a penchant for violence.

Wizorek: Only the young men? Education is important for all genders.

Schwarzer: Of course, because you have to tell girls what rights they have and you must stand by them as they assert themselves. We have to go into the relevant neighborhoods and do something to counter the campaigning Islamists. We failed to do that during the last 25 years. We also can’t be naïve when it comes to the refugees. Men who commit violence should of course be deported to their countries of origin. We already have enough problems here and we don’t need to import anymore.

Wizorek: Sexualized violence existed before the refugees — it has not been imported.

Schwarzer: I know that because I have been fighting against it since 1995, just like all the women SPIEGEL likes to call the “old feminists.” For us feminist pioneers, fighting sexual violence, which until then was totally silenced — be it abuse, rape within marriage or sex killings — has always been given top priority.

Remember those “slaves” in Saudi Arabia, whom it’s halal for their owners to rape.

Clean, nice, very informative

Jan 25th, 2016 10:56 am | By

The Bundyite fascists have big plans, The Oregonian reports.

Leaders of the armed protesters holding the national bird sanctuary on Tuesday plan to push their anti-government agenda in Grant County, whose sheriff recommends the government give in to two of their key demands.

Sheriff Glenn Palmer said in a statement to The Oregonian/OregonLive that “the government is going to have to concede something” to end the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

That’s a horrifying thing for a law enforcement official to say. The “occupation” of Malheur is illegal. The government doesn’t “have to” concede anything to the Bundyite fascists.

He said freeing a father-son ranching team from prison “would be a start. Sending the FBI home would be a start.” He referred to the FBI’s lead role in ending the refuge occupation.

“I just pray to God that cooler heads prevail and that no one gets killed,” Palmer said.

The sheriff’s endorsement of the militants’ demands stunned law enforcement officials, most of whom would not publicly discuss the matter.

Malheur County Sheriff Brian Wolfe, who has been helping in Burns, said Palmer’s position “doesn’t help the cause. If anything, it hampers the effort to end this.”

Palmer should be impeached.

Ryan Payne and Jon Ritzheimer, two leaders of the occupation, attended a lunch in John Day with about 10 local residents. Palmer was called to the lunch, but said he didn’t know ahead of time who was there.

He stayed for the lunch and then joined the group when it adjourned to meet in private at a nearby business.

Ritzheimer said that as the meeting ended, Palmer pulled out his pocket version of the U.S. Constitution.

He had the two militants autograph it, Ritzheimer said.

“We shared similar ideas about where we’re at” in the country, Payne said.

“The sheriff has a practical plan for helping unravel the federal government,” Payne said.

Yeeah we don’t need fascists and their plans to unravel the federal government, thanks.

Jim Sproul, a Grant County businessman who attended the meeting, said the protesters were “clean, nice, very informative.”

“What I took away from it is they’re no militants,” Sproul said. “They’re not terrorists. I think they are very patriotic.”

That’s not a very subtle code for “WHITE” – the lawbreaking fascists were clean, nice, WHITE.

This situation gets more foul every day.

The consensus of the scholars

Jan 24th, 2016 6:34 pm | By

A charming item from Deutsche Welle:

Muhammad Salih al-Munajjid is not really that old. Nevertheless, despite being born to Palestinian refugees living in Syria in 1960, and having lived in Saudi Arabia since he was a child, the opinions issued by this religious scholar read like documents from a time long, long ago.

He publishes his opinions on “,” the most popular Salafist website in the Arab speaking world. There, for instance, a young man asks him for the answer to a seemingly difficult question: What is the status of the many “slaves” that live in his home of Saudi Arabia? Can one have sexual intercourse with them? Even if one is married? The questioner himself does not define a “slave” – he assumes that this is common knowledge. In Saudi Arabia the term refers to the many Southeast Asian housemaids that work in the country.

Isn’t that pretty? All by itself, before we get to the “scholar”‘s answer? Isn’t it pretty that women from Southeast Asia who work in Saudi Arabia are called “slaves”? And that men are asking if they have religious permission to rape them?

No, it’s not, it’s disgusting enough to make me want to wash my eyes after reading it.

The religious expert knows the answer: “Islam allows a man to have sexual intercourse with a slave, no matter whether the man is married or single.” As justification, the scholar recites Koran passages, the biography of the prophet Mohammed and the opinions of leading sheikhs. “The scholars,” he summarizes, “are unanimous in this assessment, and no one is permitted to view this act as forbidden, or to forbid it. Whoever does so, is a sinner, and is acting against the consensus of the scholars.”

Not only is it permitted to rape women “slaves,” it’s forbidden and a sin to say it’s not permitted to rape women “slaves.” It’s just the most hateful, callous, contemptuous view of what’s good and what isn’t, and of human rights, and of women, and of foreign women, and of domestic servants, I can barely stand it. What a shit-colored awful loathsome place Saudi Arabia must be, steeped in that way of thinking.

The fatwa on the sexual availability of Asians, who have in fact only come to Saudi Arabia to carry out home cleaning duties, is just one of a universe full of fatwas that Saudi religious scholars publish on the role of women day after day.

Because that’s what religion is for – working out the details of how to provide men with as much fucking as possible.

The Tunisian feminist and historian Sophie Bessis says that Islamic theologians are trying harder than ever to force a religious identity on Middle Eastern countries.

She says that identity is based on signs and symbols reflected in traditionally dressed Muslim women. “Identity = religion = veiled women, is a triptych that Islamist movements propagate to Arabs,” writes Bessis in her book, “The Arabs, Women, Freedom.”

For years, the veil has been the sign that Muslims and non-Muslims alike have most strongly identified with Islam. But signs can have many meanings. What could the veil mean? Over the last several years many Western feminists have wanted to see it as a symbol of female emancipation.

But Ibtissam Bouachrine, who was born in Morocco and is now an associate professor at Smith College in Massachusetts, disagrees. In her book, “Women in Islam. Myths, Apologies and the Limits of Feminist Critique,” she writes that, “As a ‘mobile home’ the veil is always a reminder that the natural place for the woman in Islam is at home.”

At home, being raped, while elsewhere in the house “the slave” is scrubbing toilets and wondering when it will be her turn to be raped.

Sweeping demands

Jan 24th, 2016 6:21 pm | By

Oregon Live reports:

Occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for three weeks have made sweeping demands that local and federal authorities say are both brazen and unrealistic.

They want immediate freedom for imprisoned local ranchers. They want federal deeds voided and private owners to take over the property. They want the county to control the refuge. They want federal grazing permits vacated, leaving ranchers free to graze as they choose. And they say they won’t go until they get their way.

They mean they won’t go voluntarily. They can be made to go, and they should be. They’ve seized a wildlife refuge that belongs to all of us, and it’s not theirs to seize. They need to be thrown out and arrested and charged. They should not get bail.

Interviews with lawyers, ranchers, federal authorities and others make clear: Little of what they want is likely to happen for reasons that include legal principle, basic property rights, economic forces and cost. Federal authorities also say the occupiers are making demands that fly in the face of the U.S. Constitution.

Also? What they’re doing is extortion. Extortion is a crime.

In a 1976 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court confronted the point Bundy is trying to assert. New Mexico state officials tried to keep wild burros that they had seized from federal land. The officials claimed what the Oregon occupiers claim – that the Constitution strictly limits what property the federal government can own or control.

State officials argued in Kleppe vs. New Mexico that Congress had no power over public lands without state consent. “This argument is without merit,” the Supreme Court ruled.

State officials confused a constitutional provision focused more narrowly on how the federal government oversees land it acquires from a state with the unlimited powers granted to the federal government under the Constitution’s Property Clause, the court said.

They don’t get to overturn a Supreme Court ruling by force.

The occupiers advocate voiding grazing permits issued by the U.S. government as well.

Bundy is the son of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, who has renounced his federal grazing rights but continued running cattle on public land in a still-unsettled dispute with the federal land bureau. The dispute led to an armed standoff with federal authorities in 2014 – a precursor to the occupation underway in southeastern Oregon.

Voiding grazing rights, though, would be a vexing development in a region where many ranchers count on using public lands to feed livestock.

Occupiers say ranchers would revert to “historic” use of that land to continue grazing. What they seemed to have overlooked is that their plan calls for private ownership of the same high desert expanses that the federal government now rents at subsidized cost to the ranchers. They haven’t answered how ranchers would graze on what becomes private land.

By paying a much higher price! Freedom!!

Mommy and Daddy love you very much

Jan 24th, 2016 6:06 pm | By

Oregon Public Broadcasting reports there are children at Malheur.

The two young girls now staying at the occupied refuge are sisters, ages 8 and 9.

OPB is not naming the kids, nor their parents, to protect the identity of the children, but the mother and father are active and vocal militants in the armed occupation. Both parents have been involved in the incident since its start Jan. 2.

Well, that’s good responsible loving parenthood – taking young children to an active crime scene and keeping them there.

The children were visible inside one of the buildings Thursday evening. One of the little girls asked to come outside by a campfire but was not allowed. The kids were also seen playing and wrestling together in a hallway in their pajamas.

Human shields! If there are children there, law enforcement will just throw up its hands and give the criminals Malheur for their very own, right?

Or if not maybe the children will be martyrs.

Either way it’s just hella good child-raising.


Creating an altar out of snow

Jan 24th, 2016 5:18 pm | By

An unpleasant byproduct of the blizzard yesterday was repeatedly hearing about a bus full of Catholic high school students stranded on the freeway in Pennsylvania on their way back from an anti-abortion rally in DC.

Returning from Washington D.C., where they took part Friday in the annual March for Life, they at least had food and water on board, said Tim McNeil, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Omaha. A nearby maintenance building gave them access to bathrooms.

And while there was nothing resembling a chapel anywhere near the cars, buses and trucks stopped westbound between the Bedford and Somerset exits, the group managed to hold Mass anyway by improvising, creating an altar out of snow, he said.

See what I mean?

“We were proud that they stood up for a cause they believed in,” Mr. McNeil said of students and adults who participated in the pro-life trip; he commended their reaction to the storm as well. “We’re proud of them now for their resilience.”

Yeah, proud that they stood up for the cause of taking away women’s right to stop being pregnant.