Notes and Comment Blog

Not just beautiful

Jul 28th, 2016 5:37 pm | By

Trump is such a sleaze. The racism is worse, the lack of inhibition is more terrifying, but the sleaze is more shaming and disgusting.

They tripped in the dark and accidentally deleted Melania Trump’s website and biography.

The disappearance of Trump’s elaborate website comes just days after news outlets, including The Huffington Post, raised serious questions about whether she actually earned an undergraduate degree in architecture from the University of Ljubljana, which is in Trump’s native Slovenia. Her online biography claimed she had, but a book about her life published earlier this year says she left the university after one year so she could pursue a modeling career.

Well maybe it was a one-year degree. Architecture is pretty simple, isn’t it?

Embellishing Trump’s educational achievements in her online biography “was almost certainly done in consultation with Trump and his advisors, as they were desperate to give off the impression that the Slovenian model was not just beautiful, but also smart and well-educated,” according to Melania Trump: The Inside Story, an unauthorized biography of the potential first lady.

Nobody smart and well-educated would be able to stand Trump, no not even for all those billions.

Sick of being told to suck it up

Jul 28th, 2016 12:12 pm | By

Speaking of misogyny, and threats against women – Jessica Valenti has felt compelled to leave social media because of threats to her daughter age 5. Valenti is a writer, remember – social media are part of writers’ equipment now. Being forced off social media is crippling. It’s a figurative form of kneecapping.

On Twitter, popular writer Jessica Valenti wrote: “This morning I woke up to a rape and death threat directed at my 5 year old daughter. That this is part of my work life is unacceptable.”

Valenti, author of 2007’s Full Frontal Feminism and co-author of Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape in 2008, becomes the latest in an increasingly long line of women who have been harassed and threatened online by anonymous stalkers from SNL cast member Leslie Jones to Gamergate targets Anita Sarkeesian, Briana Wu and Zoe Quinn.

In a series of tweets, Valenti lamented the daily barrage of attacks and threats online by people who are threatened by feminism, while also slamming law enforcement for not taking online threats seriously.

She also hammered social media companies who did little to police vicious and threatening commenters.

Little or nothing. Mostly it’s nothing.

It gets very, very sick-making.

No visible injuries or signs of violence

Jul 28th, 2016 11:59 am | By

Naz Shah is accusing the Pakistani authorities of trying to cover up the murder of Samia Shahid.

Pakistani police investigating the death told the Guardian on Sunday that there were “no visible injuries or signs of violence” on Shahid’s body when it was found last Wednesday in the family home in Pandori, Jhelum, 50 miles (80km) south of Islamabad.

A postmortem report released on Thursday shows that her body did in fact have a “reddish brown linear horizontal bruise measuring about 19cm extending from just below [the] right ear and around the neck”.

The Guardian has seen photographs of Shahid’s body, which appear to confirm the finding. There also appear to be two purple welts around her neck. Naz Shah, Shahid’s MP in Bradford West, has accused Pakistani authorities of a potential cover-up in light of the findings.

She said on Thursday: “I originally intervened in this case to demand that there was a proper investigation into my constituent’s death, saying it had all the hallmarks of a so-called ‘honour’ killing. Having seen the autopsy report, I think we are now also looking at a case involving a potential cover-up.”

It has to do with that huge bruise on her neck that the police did not mention to the Guardian on Sunday, and the two welts on her neck ditto.

“I have asked for the police officer and the physician who did the first postmortem to be investigated,” the MP said. “Just a few days ago they were telling us the autopsy was inconclusive and that there were no visible signs on her body and now the autopsy report shows that there were marks on her neck.”

Oh those.

Shahid’s family have said variously that she died of a heart attack or an asthma attack and insist they did not kill her.

It was a wasp sting! No, she fell down the stairs by accident. No, she choked on an apple. No, she held her breath out of spite.

The family insist Shahid was married to Shakeel, a first cousin, and police in Pakistan say they have not received any documents proving otherwise.

In fact, she divorced him in a UK sharia court in 2014 and then married Kazam at Leeds town hall in September 2014, after converting to Shia Islam, while her family is Sunni.

Friends of Shahid in the UK said the family felt so dishonoured by her behaviour that they did not acknowledge she had remarried.

A family member in Bradford was given a harassment warning by police in September 2015 when Shahid, who was living in Dubai, returned to the UK to try to patch things up with her family, West Yorkshire police said.

Two people, believed to be cousins of Shahid, were arrested in Bradford this week on suspicion of threatening Shah. Both were bailed on Wednesday night pending further investigations.

A nasty, nasty business.

Haven’t you got a sense of humour, love?

Jul 28th, 2016 11:02 am | By

Joan Smith on the resurgence of misogyny.

The murder of Jo Cox rightly caused an outpouring of emotion, from shocked disbelief to calls for more civility in public discourse. But memories are short, especially in the feverish atmosphere of a Labour leadership contest. I could hardly believe my ears when Owen Smith, in a campaign speech about equality, said he was upset that Labour did not have the power to “smash” Theresa May “back on her heels”.

Woman-hating has come roaring back, borne on a tide of recession, economic uncertainty and religious extremism. In this country, we have just witnessed misogyny in its “jokey” form, prompted by May’s arrival at No 10 Downing Street. “Heel, Boys” declared the Sun, showing a pair of kitten heels trampling on the heads of six of her most senior colleagues. Haven’t you got a sense of humour, love? It revived memories of an old trope of Margaret Thatcher as the Conservative party’s dominatrix, confirming that some people cannot see a woman assuming power without thinking of men being humiliated.

It’s true you know. I remember a “political” cartoon of Thatcher with guns firing out of her tits, hahaha geddit she has tits so it’s funny to pretend her tits can fire bullets hahaha.

Misogyny has deep roots. It sometimes becomes dormant – usually when the economy is doing well – but it never really goes away. It is a mistake to regard it as just another form of abuse; it is a peculiarly intimate form of hatred, rooted in relationships carried on behind closed doors but that frequently spill over into the public world. (Racists rarely marry their victims but misogynists often do.)

It needs to be met with zero tolerance, because once it starts being culturally sanctioned, there is no end to it. When a well-known woman starts receiving rape threats on Twitter, hundreds of other people join. In a more extreme example, the prohibition of rape has been abolished in areas of Iraq and Syria occupied by Isis, attracting recruits who like the idea of having coercive sex with 14-year-old girls.

What are its deep roots though? I don’t  know. I’ve been trying to figure that out my whole adult life, with not much success. I suspect it’s just itself – deep hatred is deep hatred. Women are inferior, so we hates’em.

A day after Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader, the three great offices of state in his shadow cabinet were given to men. It came as no surprise to feminists, who know that the hard left rarely pays more than lip service to a movement it regards as a distraction from the struggle against imperialism. Nor am I surprised that Labour has become a poisonous environment for women MPs. Last week 45 of them signed a letter to Corbyn, demanding that he do more to stop harassment, vilification and intimidation.

I have watched these developments with outrage – and a weary sense of deja vu. Many brave women died for freedoms that are under attack once again, all over the world. And I am as offended by people who play down outbursts of misogyny as I am by those who unashamedly revel in it.

So am I, and unfortunately it’s commonplace right now – masses of people defending outbursts of misogyny as free speech, pushback against PC, a rebuke to the excesses of “SJWs,” jokes, banter, normal give and take, high spirits, social media, the internet, whaddya gonna do. It sucks.

Oh that? On her neck?

Jul 28th, 2016 9:35 am | By

Oh hey gee what do you know – there’s a huge bruise on Samia Shahid’s neck. Maybe she grabbed herself by the neck when she had her “heart attack” or was it her “asthma” attack.

Police in Pakistan investigating the death of a 28-year-old British woman have confirmed a bruise was found on her neck after her death.

Samia Shahid’s husband claims she was murdered in a so-called honour killing.

There was a 7.5in (19cm)-long mark around her neck below her right ear, police said.

Meanwhile, her first husband has been granted “pre-arrest bail” and is expected to offer himself for interview, according to police.

The move means he cannot be arrested in connection with her death, for an as yet unspecified period.

Well that must be pleasant for him. Not so pleasant for her, but hey, she was just a woman.

Meanwhile in the UK, two people, including a relative of Ms Shahid, have been bailed over alleged threats made to MP Naz Shah.

The arrests were made after the Bradford West MP said she was looking into the death of Samia Shahid, 28.

West Yorkshire Police were questioning a 32-year-old woman, a relative of Ms Shahid, and a 37-year-old man.

If women would just do what they’re told, there’d be no need for all this threatening and murdering.

There was no subtext

Jul 27th, 2016 5:14 pm | By

On Fresh Air yesterday, a guy who wrote a book about Roger Ailes. Roger Ailes resigned last week as CEO of Fox News on account of a flood of accusations of sexual harassment. It turns out it was all very open – women had to say Yes to the Harassment if they wanted to get anywhere at Fox.

GROSS: So sum up where we are now in terms of how many women have come forward alleging that they were sexually harassed by Ailes or by somebody else at Fox News. And I should say, we’re recording this at 9:00 in the morning. And I’m not sure if that number is going to change by the end of the day.

[Gabriel] SHERMAN: Well, Terry, where we are now since Gretchen Carlson filed her, really, landmark lawsuit on July 6 is that 25 women have come forward to the outside law firm Paul, Weiss, that was hired by 21st Century Fox to investigate the sexual harassment allegations. By my reporting, more than 25 women have come forward to allege their experiences of harassment at Fox. And this number could be growing by the day. The lawyers are hearing from women.

And I think there’s a fear inside the company that this could snowball into – I mean, it’s already a shocking scandal, but that, you know, dozens of more women could come forward. And then you really have to start to question, did Roger Ailes preside over a culture that was not only – it tolerated sexual harassment, but it was almost built to encourage it?

And the answer is yes, he did.

GROSS: How many women have you spoken with about their charges?

SHERMAN: Well, I’ve spoken with more than 15 women who have had experiences of sexual harassment and unwanted sexual advances by Roger Ailes over the years. And, you know, I just want to step back for a second, Terry, because what’s so, in a sense, sad about this story is that when it broke in July – on July, 6, with Gretchen Carlson’s lawsuit, I wasn’t surprised because in my biography of Roger Ailes that was published in 2014, I detailed multiple instances of sexual harassment. I quoted a very brave woman named Randi Harrison on the record who said that when she was a young producer at NBC in the 1980s, Roger Ailes said that he would give her a raise of $100 a week in exchange for sex whenever he wanted.

And this was, you know, shocking. This was all published back in 2014, and it didn’t quite make the wave that I thought it might. And so this story that’s, you know, exploded into a national scandal – sometimes, I guess, it just takes the right moment for the public to pay attention. But I, again, have, you know – over the years, I’ve interviewed more than 20 women who have had these types of experiences with Ailes. And you know, again, that – to me, it just seems like the tip of the iceberg.

GROSS: I want to emphasize here that Roger Ailes has denied the allegations of sexual harassment.

Of course he has. They think they have a right to demand access to women’s holes, and they don’t consider that sexual harassment. Of course they deny it.

Then again, Shermans says Ailes’s attorney threatened one of the women, and that doesn’t sound like innocence.

And so this culture of intimidation, you know, that – to me, that does not strike me as a man that is – that knows he’s innocent. It strikes me as a man that is, again, attempting to preserve this wall of silence that he’s built around himself.

But I bet he does think he hasn’t done a damn thing wrong. I bet he thinks he has every right to coerce women to have sex with him.

GROSS: Give us a sense of the allegations of the women who have worked at Fox News with Roger Ailes.

SHERMAN: Well, Terry, I think that the most important thing to stress is that this is not about – well, it is about Roger Ailes. It’s not about Roger Ailes. It’s about a culture – a television news network that played a undeniable role in reshaping American politics over the last 20 years. And it was a culture where this type of behavior was was encouraged and protected. The allegations are that women routinely had to sleep with or be propositioned by their manager – in many cases, Roger Ailes, but I’ve reported on another manager who did this – in exchange for promotions.

And so this is a culture where women felt pressured to participate in sexual activity with their superiors if they wanted to advance inside the company. And it was so – it was shocking to me – it was not that it occurred, but that it was so explicit, that it was – there was no subtext. There was no subtlety to it. It was just there. It was just almost blatantly stated. If you want this, you have to have sex with me or allow me to make sexually unwanted comments about you. And it was so blatant that it’s almost now unbelievable. But it – we’re learning more and more every day. This is what women who worked there had to endure for the last 20 years.

That’s Fox News, which has done so much to ruin the political discourse in this country.

WikiLeaks doxxed millions of women

Jul 27th, 2016 4:08 pm | By

Zeynep Tufecsi says that WikiLeaks put women in Turkey in danger with its latest dump of stolen information.

Just days after a bloody coup attempt shook Turkey, WikiLeaks dumped some 300,000 emails they chose to call “Erdogan emails.” In response, Turkey’s internet governance body swiftly blocked access to WikiLeaks.

Turkey’s response was widely reported as “censorship.” Wrong, says Tufecsi.

Journalists and anti-censorship activists who I am in touch with in Turkey have been combing through the leaked documents, and I am not aware of anything “newsworthy” being uncovered. According to the collective searching capacity of long-term activists and journalists in Turkey, none of the “Erdogan emails” appear to be emails actually from Erdogan or his inner circle. Nobody seems to be able to find a smoking gun exposing people in positions of power and responsibility. This doesn’t rule out something eventually emerging, but there have been several days of extensive searching.

However, WikiLeaks also posted links on social media to its millions of followers via multiple channels to a set of leaked massive databases containing sensitive and private information of millions of ordinary people, including a special database of almost all adult women in Turkey.

Yes — this “leak” actually contains spreadsheets of private, sensitive information of what appears to be every female voter in 79 out of 81 provinces in Turkey, including their home addresses and other private information, sometimes including their cellphone numbers.

So that’s horrifying.

We are talking about millions of women whose private, personal information has been dumped into the world, with nary an outcry. Their addresses are out there for every stalker, ex-partner, disapproving relative or random crazy to peruse as they wish. And let’s remember that, every year in Turkey, hundreds of women are murdered, most often by current or ex-husbands or boyfriends, and thousands of women leave their homes or go into hiding, seeking safety.

I have confirmed that these files indeed appear to contain correct private information by confirming that dozens of my friends and family members in multiple cities were included in that database, to my horror, with accurate private data. The files also include whether or not these women were AKP members — right after a brutal and bloody coup attempt to overthrow the AKP.

But hey, it’s data! Data must be free! All of it – no matter what – even if it’s of no legitimate use or interest to anyone, and even if it’s the private information of ordinary people.

I’ve long been critical of the AKP’s censorship practices in Turkey and will continue to speak out. But there is not a single good reason to put so many men and women in such danger of identity theft, harassment and worse — especially after the country was rocked by a bloody coup targeting this political party. I also cannot understand why the leak of such private and sensitive information has been met with such uncritical reporting during such a dangerous week.

Incompetence and laziness could be the only explanation needed.

I hope that people remember this story when they report about a country without checking with anyone who speaks the language; when they support unaccountable, massive, unfiltered leaks without teaming up with responsible parties like journalists and ethical activists; and when they wonder why so many people around the world are wary of “internet freedom” when it can mean indiscriminate victimization and senseless violations of privacy. Discretion is not censorship.

 Tell that to Milo Yiannopoulos.


Trump to citizens: none of your business

Jul 27th, 2016 11:49 am | By

Trump won’t be releasing his tax records, because he’s better than you.

A top aide to Donald Trump said Wednesday that the Republican presidential nominee “will not be releasing” his taxes.
“Mr. Trump has said that his taxes are under audit and he will not be releasing them,” Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort told “CBS This Morning.”

That “auditing” nonsense has nothing to do with it; it’s just code for he doesn’t want to plus fuck you.

Trump has pushed back in recent months on calls from Democrats and some Republicans, namely former GOP nominee Mitt Romney, to release his tax returns.

Conservative columnist George Will this week argued Trump doesn’t want to release his taxes because they show “he is deeply involved in dealing with Russia oligarchs.”

“So to be clear, Mr. Trump has no financial relationships with any Russian oligarchs?” CBS’s Norah O’Donnell asked Manafort.

“That’s what he said, that’s what I said,” Manafort responded. “That’s obviously what our position is.”

And why would we not take his word for it and what possible reason could he have to lie about it?

Which is the true sham marriage?

Jul 27th, 2016 11:18 am | By

West Yorkshire police are looking into the suspicious death of Samia Shahid in Pakistan.

Samia Shahid had previously been harassed by a family member in Bradford last September, the West Yorkshire force has confirmed.

Bradford West MP Naz Shah is also investigating Ms Shahid’s death.

“I’m not going to rest until I’m satisfied I know the cause of her death – we need to investigate it fully,” said Ms Shah, who has written to the prime minister of Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif, calling for Ms Shahid’s body to be exhumed.

“It’s very suspicious circumstances,” she added.

The fact that she was young and healthy. The fact that her family disapproved of her divorce and re-marriage. The fact that her family have said she died of a heart attack, asthma, and whatever else occurred to them when asked. All suspicious.

Husband Syed Mukhtar Kazam, said that before she went to Pakistan, his wife’s family had threatened her life.

“They were threatening us because she got married out of the family with her own will and they didn’t like it”, he told the BBC.

He said his wife had gone to Pakistan because she thought her father was ill.

Joke’s on her, it turns out she’s the one who was “ill”; so “ill” that she died.

[Her father] Muhammad Shahid, who denies the murder claim, has also said he does not know who Syed Mukhtar Kazam is.

Tabraz Akhtar, an uncle of Samia Shahid, said the family was going through “a hard time”.

“This person pretending to be her husband – that is wrong,” he said.

“That looks like a sham marriage, she’s married from Pakistan to her cousin.”

However, the BBC in Islamabad has seen a UK marriage certificate for the couple.

Yes but that doesn’t count, because it’s only her father who gets to decide who her real husband is.


Her harder edges

Jul 27th, 2016 10:22 am | By

It’s time to “soften” Hillary Clinton’s image. Gotta soften that baby right up. Can’t have any hardness around.

At a time when many voters say they don’t trust Hillary Clinton, her husband sought to soften her harder edges.

I have an idea. How about she just transitions, instead? Wouldn’t that be a lot easier?


Russia, if you’re listening

Jul 27th, 2016 9:53 am | By

The New York Times reports, aghast –

DORAL, Fla. — Donald J. Trump said Wednesday that he hoped Russia had hacked Hillary Clinton’s email, essentially encouraging a foreign power’s cyberspying of a secretary of state’s correspondence.

“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Mr. Trump said, staring directly into the cameras. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”

Mr. Trump’s call was an extraordinary moment at a time when Russia is being accused of meddling in the U.S. presidential election. His comments came amid questions about the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computer servers, which researchers have concluded was likely the work of two Russian intelligence agencies.

Trump seems to think he and Clinton are business rivals, or perhaps contestants on a reality tv show – Top Campaigner maybe? He seems to have forgotten that the object of their rivalry is the presidency, and that presidents (and thus aspirants to the presidency) shouldn’t be encouraging foreign autocrats to spy on our own secretaries of state.

Or, to put it more bluntly, he seems to be flirting with treason, which isn’t a good look on a major party candidate.

John Nimmo

Jul 27th, 2016 9:34 am | By

An internet threat-maker faces jail for making threats. Again.

John Nimmo, 28, from South Shields, sent two emails to [Labour MP] Luciana Berger where he told her to “watch your back Jewish scum”. The second message to the 35-year-old MP for Wavertree, who is running to become mayor of Liverpool, also included a picture of a large knife.

Nimmo was previously jailed in 2014 for eight weeks for sending abusive messages on Twitter to feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez and MP Stella Creasy.

Just banter. Just his opinion. Free speech. If women don’t like it they should shut up get offline.

Along with Isabella Sorley, Nimmo previously pleaded guilty at Westminster magistrates court in 2014 to abusing Criado-Perez and Creasy. The abuse came after Criado-Perez led a campaign using social media for a female figure to appear on a Bank of England note. It included Nimmo telling Criado-Perez to “shut up” and made references to rape, followed by: “I will find you (smiley face)”.

Paul Kennedy, for the defence, had argued for a suspended sentence, saying “he says these things for attention”.

“He does not desire to carry out these threats,” he said.

Women should either laugh merrily at the threats or stay out of public life and off the internet.

People shocked, shocked to learn there was slavery in DC

Jul 26th, 2016 6:45 pm | By

Some people saw fit to get huffy about Michelle Obama’s saying that slaves built the White House. Jeezus, folks, where have you been? You do realize Washington was in the South, right? You know there were slave markets in DC? You know the White House wasn’t built from a kit? Why wouldn’t slaves have built it?

There is little dispute among historians that slaves had a role in the building of the White House. According to the White House Historical Association’s website, planners had initially intended to import workers from Europe but had trouble recruiting any, so they “turned to African-American — enslaved and free — to provide the bulk of labor that built the White House, the United States Capitol, and other early government buildings.”

And guess what, that’s why slavery was a thing at all – the colonists desperately needed labor, a lot more labor than they had, so – they stole it. They didn’t have enough so they stole other people’s.

Jesse Holland, a Washington-based journalist who wrote “The Invisibles: The Untold Story of African American Slaves in the White House,” said that most people never thought about how the president’s house and other important government buildings had been constructed, but that historians had long acknowledged the role of slaves.

“If you think about it, it would be pretty obvious: The White House is a neo-Classical mansion that was built in the South during slavery, and a majority of the mansions that were built in the South during slavery used slaves,” Mr. Holland said in an interview.

“We as Americans build up a myth of our country, and a lot of times, we don’t want to look behind that myth,” he added. “For me, finding out the truth and acknowledging the participation of everyone in the construction of this country just makes our country richer.”

Mrs. Obama was reaching for a similar point on Monday, emphasizing as President Obama often does that the strengths of the United States spring in part from its ugly, painful past.

It was a hell of a powerful moment in her speech, too.

She said America’s story was “the story that has brought me to this stage tonight, the story of generations of people who felt the lash of bondage, the shame of servitude, the sting of segregation, but who kept on striving and hoping and doing what needed to be done so that today, I wake up every morning in a house that was built by slaves, and I watch my daughters — two beautiful, intelligent, black young women — playing with their dogs on the White House lawn.”

Well, yes. It’s not as if that’s not part of the story.

Guest post: The influence of Revenge of the Nerds

Jul 26th, 2016 6:25 pm | By

Originally a comment by Freemage on Where it gets complicated.

In addition to Cressida’s point, there’s also the difference, highlighted in Ophelia’s original post, even, between ‘having a fantasy’, ‘acting out a fantasy’ and ‘depicting that fantasy for others to consume’ (and then, on that last one, depicting a fantasy for money, which usually means it’s probably not your fantasy to begin with). Each step in that chain is a different beast, entirely, and conflating it all as one big happy ball of sex positivity is a deliberate attempt by porn producers to add legitimacy to their activities.

Having a fantasy is fine. Acting out that fantasy, in a safe fashion with a trusted and consenting partner, is fine.

Depicting it for others, however, creates the impression that this is what sex ~should~ be like. That has a massive implication that needs to be examined, addressed and challenged.

For a non-pornographic version of how much consuming media can influence a culture, go back and watch 1984’s Revenge of the Nerds. This ‘comedy’ is commonly cited as a cornerstone of modern nerd culture, coming as it did during the formative years of the current 35- to 50-year-old set. I see it come up in conversations in forums for comics, computer games or tabletop role-playing all the time.

In it, the protagonists commit virtually every form of misogynistic behavior we’ve seen take a rise in the internet age: Stalking, voyeurism, revenge porn and hey, even rape (which is totally forgiven because the ‘hero’ is so good at sex). (We also get a hefty side-order of the ‘struggles’ of white male nerds being compared to that of African-Americans, because why not?)


Jul 26th, 2016 4:33 pm | By

You cannot be serious.

The British Council has said it will investigate comments allegedly made by one of its senior employees on Facebook that criticise Prince George for living “on public money”.

Angela Gibbins, head of global estates at the charity, was reported to have commented on a picture of the young prince, which someone had captioned: “I know he’s only two years old, but Prince George already looks like a f****** d***head.”

A spokeswoman said: “This comment was made on a private social media account. It has absolutely no connection to the British Council and does not represent the views of the British Council.

“That said, we expect the highest standards of our staff and we will be investigating the matter further.”

How can they “investigate” what an employee says on a private account? And even if they can why would they?

Gibbins’s apparent comments, which were reported in the Sun, were on a photograph of the duke and duchess of Cambridge’s firstborn taken for a set of stamps to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday when he was two years old.

She allegedly said: “White privilege. That cheeky grin is the innate knowledge he’s royal, rich, advantaged and will never know *any* difficulties or hardships in life.

“Let’s find photos of 3yo Syrian refugee children and see if they look alike, eh?”


People are allowed to take a critical view of the “royal family” in the UK aren’t they? Even on Facebook?

Simply an administrative matter

Jul 26th, 2016 4:26 pm | By

You can just never hate women enough, can you. The dosage always has to be increased. El Salvador’s law banning all abortions without exception no matter what has been found to be not harsh enough.

Abortion has been illegal under all circumstances in El Salvador since 1997, with a penalty of two to eight years in prison. Now, the right-wing ARENA Party has introduced a bill that would increase that penalty to a prison sentence of 30 to 50 years—the same as aggravated homicide.

That’s some heavy-duty hatred of women there.

The bill’s major sponsor, Rep. Ricardo Andrés Velásquez Parker, explained in a television interview on July 11 that this was simply an administrative matter and “shouldn’t need any further discussion.”

Since the Salvadoran Constitution recognizes “the human being from the moment of conception,” he said, it “is necessary to align the Criminal Code with this principle, and substitute the current penalty for abortion, which is two to eight years in prison, with that of aggravated homicide.”

It’s too bad the Salvadoran Constitution does not recognize women as human beings.

How would it be possible to libel Andrew Wakefield?

Jul 26th, 2016 12:26 pm | By

The Irish Examiner:

A US film studio has threatened to sue an Irish autism-rights advocate if she continues to speak out against its controversial anti-vaccine documentary, Vaxxed: From Cover-Up to Catastrophe.

West Cork-based mother, Fiona O’Leary, who wants to block the film’s release in Ireland and Britain, said she was outraged to receive a legal letter from California-based Cinema Libre Studios over the weekend.

The letter claimed that her public comments about the 90-minute film were defamatory and that her comments about the filmmaker were libellous.

They demand that she immediately shut up, or else.

“In the event that you do not comply with this demand, we intend to file an action against you. We will ask for punitive damages and financial compensation for all losses to our business directly resulting from your actions.”

The documentary alleges that the US government agency charged with protecting the health of US citizens destroyed data from a 2004 study that showed a link between the MMR vaccine and autism.

It is directed by discredited anti-vaccine activist, Andrew Wakefield, whose controversial 1998 study first suggested a link between autism and vaccines.

Why is he discredited? Because his “study” was fraudulent. Wikipedia:

Andrew Jeremy Wakefield (born c. 1957) is a British former gastroenterologist and medical researcher, known for his fraudulent 1998 research paper in support of the now-discredited claim that there was a link between the administration of the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine, and the appearance of autism and bowel disease.

His fraudulent 1998 research paper. The “discredited” above is polite, given the facts. More Wikipedia:

On 28 January 2010, a five-member statutory tribunal of the GMC found three dozen charges proved, including four counts of dishonesty and 12 counts involving the abuse of developmentally challenged children.[12] The panel ruled that Wakefield had “failed in his duties as a responsible consultant”, acted both against the interests of his patients, and “dishonestly and irresponsibly” in his published research.[13][14][15]The Lancet fully retracted the 1998 publication on the basis of the GMC’s findings, noting that elements of the manuscript had been falsified.[16]The Lancet’s editor-in-chief Richard Hortonsaid the paper was “utterly false” and that the journal had been “deceived”.[17] Three months followingThe Lancet’s retraction, Wakefield was struck off the UK medical register, with a statement identifying deliberate falsification in the research published in The Lancet,[18] and was barred from practising medicine in the UK.[19]

He directed this dangerous film, and the film company has the gall to threaten a critic and tell her to shut up.

It’s Trump-level disgusting.

Go high

Jul 26th, 2016 11:42 am | By

Irony stretched to the breaking point – a Facebook rant (sorry, I instantly forgot who posted it so can’t link) about how pathetically unelectable the Dems are, because all the people who spoke last night – Cory Booker, Michelle Obama, Elizabeth Warren among others – never struggled a day in their lives, so how can they possibly lure voters away from Trump?

What universe is this? Trump is the one who inherited millions. Michelle Obama and Elizabeth Warren grew up working class. Cory Booker’s parents were IBM executives, but I don’t think we should be assuming that even comfortably middle class black kids grow up with zero struggle, especially compared to rich white kids.

People seem to confuse Trump’s incredible vulgarity with his being somehow working class and not privileged and representative of the struggling masses, and the striking unvulgarity of Booker and Obama and Warren with silver spoon births. That’s ridiculous. Trump is indeed a boor, and ignorant, and profoundly trashy – but that’s not because he ever had to “struggle” – it’s because that’s what he’s like.


Jul 26th, 2016 7:12 am | By

The BBC reports fallout from its own reporting on the “hyena” in Malawi who cheerfully admitted that he’s HIV-positive.

An HIV-positive Malawian man, who says he is paid to have sex with children as part of initiation rites, has been arrested on the president’s orders.

Eric Aniva, a sex worker known in Malawi as a “hyena”, was the subject of a BBC feature last week.

He told the BBC that did not mention his HIV status to those who hire him.

President Peter Mutharika said the police should investigate and charge him over the cases of defilement he had seemingly confessed to.

“Defilement” is a horrible choice of word. He apparently confessed to potential infection.

“While we must promote positive cultural values and positive socialisation of our children, the president says harmful cultural and traditional practices cannot be accepted in this country,” presidential spokesman Mgeme Kalilani said in a statement

Mr Avena would “further be investigated for exposing the young girls to contracting HIV and further be charged accordingly”, he said.

The president had also ordered all men and parents involved should be investigated, Mr Kalilani said.

“All people involved in this malpractice should be held accountable for subjecting their children and women to this despicable evil,” the statement said.

Well, good. That’s a cultural practice that should come to an immediate end.

Where it gets complicated

Jul 25th, 2016 4:19 pm | By

When choosy-choice libertarian “feminism” meets Porn Culture Today – and the result is hipster bullshit.

Can a feminist have rape fantasies?

According to feminist pornography producer Pandora Blake, who runs the fetish porn site Dreams of Spanking and frequently portrays fantasies of “non-consent”, the answer is a no-brainer. “Absolutely.”

The general consensus in the feminist porn movement is that no fantasy, no matter how anti-feminist the subject matter appears to be, is off limits. To tell a woman what she is and is not allowed to be turned on by is just about as anti-feminist as it gets.

No, it really isn’t. We know the advertisers and marketers and porn producers want you to think that, but if we think really hard we can come up with a reason for that that’s separate from “because it’s true.”

First, “allowed to” isn’t the issue. That’s where the bullshit comes in – it’s dishonest. Saying X isn’t feminist does not equate to saying X isn’t allowed, much less you’re not allowed to X. None of this has anything at all to do with permission or commandment.

Second, it’s possible to be turned on by something that makes you feel uncomfortable to be turned on by. Third, it’s ok to talk about that, in fact it’s good to talk about that. Feminists have been trying to figure out the guilty pleasure of rape fantasies since forever. Trying to figure it out is one thing, and claiming it’s obviously and “absolutely” feminist in itself is another.

Feminists routinely fight for sexual agency – a woman’s right to make decisions about her own sexuality, including when and with whom to have sex, and when, if ever, to get pregnant. Feminists traditionally rebel against the forces that would hem in these rights: the puritanical voices that say that a woman who enjoys sex is a slut, that would restrict access to contraceptives, that claim that dressing provocatively is inviting rape.

Following that logic, feminists argue they shouldn’t invoke shame around the sexual fantasies of others – even if those fantasies include images of kink and domination, or even rape.

But not invoking shame is one thing, and celebrating is another.

“There’s a clear distinction between fantasizing about being coerced, and actually being coerced,” Blake says, explaining that just because she has (and depicts) dark fantasies doesn’t in any way mean that she’s endorsing real-life nonconsensual sex acts.

Wait. They keep sneaking extra claims in here. Having fantasies is one thing, and depicting them (and distributing and profiting from the depictions of them) is another.

The feminism of Trouble and Taormino’s porn isn’t limited to the content – they are also strongly committed to a safe and comfortable work environment, fair pay, and a creative voice for their actors. This behind-the-scenes work is especially important for porn like Blake’s. While Blake doesn’t believe that the content of her work is at odds with her feminism, where it gets complicated, she says, is in portraying and sharing those fantasies without promoting actual violence toward women. In a world where porn is the de facto sex education for any teenager with an internet connection, socially responsible producers have to think not only about what will get people off, but what people will learn.

Well exactly. So why begin the piece with all that dishonest blamey crap then?

Because it’s hotter that way, I suppose.