Notes and Comment Blog

A ruling

Aug 23rd, 2019 4:27 pm | By

Back in June I did a post about a lawsuit by a trans woman against the Times.

The hearing at the Edinburgh Employment Tribunal, which began on Wednesday, could have far-reaching implications for UK’s news outlets. In addition to the standard employment law charges such as discrimination and victimisation, the case also rests on an argument that has never before been tested.

O’Donnell and her lawyer — Robin White of Old Square Chambers — allege that it wasn’t just what happened in the newsroom but also what those inside it published in the newspaper about trans people that constituted a hostile, anti-transgender place to work.

Sly. Very very sly. Bring one case and (if you win) make it so that the news media can no longer write or broadcast anything critical of trans activism or trans ideology. Wouldn’t that be awesome.

The Tribunal has ruled.

A transgender former journalist at The Times has lost an employment tribunal claim that she was the victim of discrimination and unfair dismissal.

Katherine O’Donnell had claimed that there was a “toxic environment for trans people” at the newspaper and criticised its reporting of transgender stories.

John Witherow, the editor of The Times, appeared as a witness at the tribunal and defended the paper’s coverage of transgender issues. He denied that there was bias or inaccuracy in its reporting.

Judge Jane Porter dismissed Ms O’Donnell’s claims of direct discrimination, harassment, victimisation and unfair dismissal after hearings that lasted a total of 19 days. In her judgment she wrote: “The tribunal does not accept the evidence of a ‘boys club’ during the claimant’s employment . . . there was a significant number of senior women in powerful positions.”

A spokeswoman for The Times said: “We are pleased this judgment dismisses all the claims made by the claimant and confirms that The Times took reasonable and appropriate decisions and did not show any anti-transgender bias towards its staff.”

I don’t think trans women should be complaining about boys’ clubs as applied to themselves.

It’s very special

Aug 23rd, 2019 3:54 pm | By

The whole King of the Jews – Chosen One – Basically God thing inspired The Caring Atheist to resurrect (see what I did there?) an old clip of Trump pretending to love the bible while actually not knowing a damn thing about it.

1. You mention that the Bible is your favorite book !!!

2. What are your favorite Bible verses ? – I don’t want to get into it

3. The Bible means a lot to me

4. Are you a New or Old testament guy ? – Probably equal

5. The Bible is just incredible

6. The Bible is special

Too little too late

Aug 23rd, 2019 12:21 pm | By

The evil David Koch is dead but his evil will live on until planet death snuffs it out too.

While he certainly enjoyed the fruits of his labors to deregulate U.S. industry and reduce taxes on the super-wealthy like himself, he will never have to experience the consequences of his biggest achievement: putting the entire planet on the brink of crisis in the service of enriching himself and a few other fossil fuel billionaires. And we, the people and future generations who are going to live with the fallout, will never see him or the small cadre of wealthy conservatives who funded decades of climate denial face any form of justice.

Koch’s death was first reported by the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer Friday morning and confirmed by his surviving brother, Charles, shortly thereafter. The two brothers were tied as the 11th richest people on the planet on the Forbes 100, with an estimated net worth of $50.5 billion each. They amassed so much wealth in part through business savvy—you likely don’t go a day without coming in contact with something made by some subsidiary of their privately owned Koch Industries conglomerate—and in part because they spent a comparative pittance of that fortune on turning our political system into a fucking nightmare. Funding astroturf groups like Americans for Prosperity and conservative politicians has led to widespread deregulation and huge tax breaks for their businesses, allowing them to take an even bigger share of the pie.

And above all it has blocked efforts to deal with global warming.

[T]he Koch brothers’ businesses from fossil fuel extraction and refining to petrochemical and fertilizer production all rely on being able to emit carbon pollution with abandon. In the 1990s, as the world moved toward an awakening on climate change and the need to address it, the Koch machine moved to block any regulations or price on carbon that would cut into their profits by funding doubt and denial. Greenpeace estimates the brothers spent $127 million from 1997 to 2017 funding 92 organizations that muddied the waters on climate change, a move that helped make international efforts to combat climate change, like the Kyoto Protocol, worthless. They funded a network of overlapping climate denial organizations to kill a 2009 bill that would have created a cap and trade system, a very business-friendly climate solution they rejected on principle.

It’s a pity they didn’t both die decades sooner.

Made in China

Aug 23rd, 2019 11:58 am | By

We should all start using the word “hereby” a lot; it makes a person sound more powerful and authoritative and official. Or else it makes a person sound more deranged and out of touch with reality and helpless. It’s one of those.

Donnie Two-Scoops three hours ago:

Our Country has lost, stupidly, Trillions of Dollars with China over many years. They have stolen our Intellectual Property at a rate of Hundreds of Billions of Dollars a year, & they want to continue. I won’t let that happen! We don’t need China and, frankly, would be far…….better off without them. The vast amounts of money made and stolen by China from the United States, year after year, for decades, will and must STOP. Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing…..your companies HOME and making your products in the USA. I will be responding to China’s Tariffs this afternoon. This is a GREAT opportunity for the United States. Also, I am ordering all carriers, including Fed Ex, Amazon, UPS and the Post Office, to SEARCH FOR & REFUSE,……..all deliveries of Fentanyl from China (or anywhere else!). Fentanyl kills 100,000 Americans a year. President Xi said this would stop – it didn’t. Our Economy, because of our gains in the last 2 1/2 years, is MUCH larger than that of China. We will keep it that way!

Magical thinking at its loopiest. All he has to do is say “I hereby order” on Twitter and the job is done; he has Absolute Powers!

Politico documents the other times he’s engaged in this public fantasizing:

March 3, 2017“I hereby demand a second investigation, after Schumer, of Pelosi for her close ties to Russia, and lying about it,” Trump tweeted.

May 20, 2018: “hereby demand, and will do so officially tomorrow, that the Department of Justice look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes – and if any such demands or requests were made by people within the Obama Administration!” Trump tweeted.

April 13, 2019: “Just out: The USA has the absolute legal right to have apprehended illegal immigrants transferred to Sanctuary Cities. We herebydemand that they be taken care of at the highest level, especially by the State of California, which is well known or its poor management & high taxes!” Trump tweeted.

Of course it’s trending on Twitter.

Tom Nichols:

I hereby order my Great American Cat not to wake me up at 6am I hereby order my Great American Daughter to be nice to her dad even when she feels like a moody teenager I hereby order our Great American postal service not to deliver flyers from stores I don’t like


George Conway:

I hereby order the White House staff to take @realDonaldTrump to Walter Reed, and to convene the cabinet under Section 4 of the Twenty-fifth Amendment.


With many appearances of this snap:


Darkness at 3

Aug 23rd, 2019 11:22 am | By

The smoke from wildfires was bad here last summer but it didn’t actually get dark in the afternoon. Stinky and unhealthy, yes, but dark, no. São Paulo on the other hand

In the middle of the afternoon on August 19th South America’s largest city went dark. Under a thick, black cloud at 3pm, the lights flickered on in São Paulo’s skyscrapers; on the motorways brake lights started to glow in the city’s bumper-to-bumper traffic, and many Paulistanos were worried. Social-media users posted pictures of the gloom, juxtaposing the dystopian afternoon sky with fictional apocalyptic places such as Gotham City from “Batman”, Mordor from “Lord of the Rings” and “the upside down” from “Stranger Things”.

Meteorologists scrambled to explain what was going on. But the most likely explanation, most accept, is that fires burning far away in the rainforest are to blame. Climatempo, a popular private meteorology website, reported that a cold front brought low-lying clouds which then combined with smoke to form the thick black smog.

Sorry women, time to move over

Aug 23rd, 2019 10:42 am | By

And there’s another one.

Meanwhile in the US, middle distance runner Jonathan Eastwood will be running as ‘June’ in the women’s races. Jonathan can run 800m faster than @damekellyholmes at her peak. Looks like we have another ‘exceptional woman’ about to hit the track. Sorry women, time to move over.


More joy of sport for you.

The simple joy of sport

Aug 23rd, 2019 10:19 am | By

Jolyon Maugham QC thought that BBC story about the male rugby player joining a women’s team was just lovely.

How the simple joy of sport can transcend fear and hate. Wonderful reporting.

Mm. Can it also transcend the male physical advantage? The ability to fold a female opponent “like a deck chair”? The risk of injury to opposing players that the male manager treated as a joke? The woman who doesn’t have a place on the team because the man does? Many people asked, but Maugham did not enlighten.

No one – not her, her opponents, her team mates, the sporting regulatory authorities – is complaining in this piece. All are trying, with dignity and care, to adapt to a world that is not binary. A pity some of my respondents are unable to do the same.

Yes, if only we would adapt to men taking women’s places in sport. If only we would adapt to the obvious unfair advantage. If only we would adapt to the risk of injury to women. Why are we so obstinate?

Hadley Freeman asked:

She’s going to be a good player, as long as we can stop her injuring players in training.” I guess all those injured female players should transcend their pain by celebrating the joy of sport, right?

Maugham declined to care:

You missed out that that (explicitly) was a joke. And that she is friends with the only person at the wrong end of a size advantage she can do nothing about. And that she feels guilty about her size but can do nothing about it.

I wonder who, and what, you are arguing for?

That’s easy. Women. What is Maugham arguing for? Men displacing women.

Not the least racist person ever to serve in office

Aug 22nd, 2019 5:52 pm | By

Michael Gerson on Trump’s deranged performance yesterday:

With the whir of a helicopter engine in the background, President Trump veered from topic to topic with utter confidence, alarming ignorance, minimal coherence and relentless duplicity.

President Vladimir Putin, he said, “made a living on outsmarting President Obama” — even though it is Trump who now urges a Russian return to the Group of Seven summit without any concessions on Putin’s part.

On pursuing the trade war with China, Trump called himself the “chosen one.” This came within hours of tweeting a quote that he is loved like “the second coming of God.” At some point, arrogance is so extreme and delusional that it can only be expressed in blasphemy.

Trump accused the Danish prime minister of “blowing off the United States” because she scorned his own balmy, offensive musings on the future of Greenland. “We treat countries with respect,” he said — except, presumably, the “shithole” ones.

Oh no, except all of them. He treats all of them as supplicants whom he can insult at will.

Trump’s new immigration rule, he claimed, would “do even more” to bring migrant families together — though this togetherness, he failed to mention, would come by allowing the indefinite detention of migrant families.

“I am the least racist person ever to serve in office,” said the man who is increasingly bold in his use of racist tropes.

He joked again about being in office 10 or 14 years from now — appealing to people who find overturning the constitutional order a laugh riot.

It’s every bit as funny as the “joke” about being the chosen one and the “joke” about not putting a Trump tower on the shore in Greenland.

“Our Second Amendment will remain strong,” Trump promised, while previewing an effort to overturn that portion of the 14th Amendment guaranteeing birthright citizenship. Some parts of the Constitution, clearly, are more constitutional than others.

Trump pledged the return of thousands of captured Islamic State fighters to Europe, one way or another. “If Europe doesn’t take them, I’ll have no choice but to release them in the countries from which they came, which is Germany, France and other places.” Did the president of the United States just threaten to release dangerous terrorists on the streets of our closest allies? Evidently.

Of the wounded and grieving families Trump visited following recent mass shootings: “The love for me,” he boasted, “and my love for them was unparalleled.” And this was demonstrated by “hundreds and hundreds of people all over the floor.” No one draws a bigger crowd in an intensive care unit.

After repeating an anti-Semitic trope about the disloyalty of Jews who vote Democratic, Trump insisted to a reporter, “It’s only anti-Semitic in your head.”

It’s anti-Semitic in a lot more heads than that of one reporter.

He was impeached for the speeches in question

Aug 22nd, 2019 1:40 pm | By

Interesting. One of the articles of impeachment against Andrew Johnson was his habit of screaming vulgar insults at people.

Benjamin Wittes:

The last president I know of who compared himself to the Messiah was Andrew Johnson. He was impeached for the speeches in question.

Here is Jeffrey Tulis’s account of those Johnson speeches, from his incredible book, The Rhetorical Presidency.


…deny that he was a traitor as others alleged, attack some part of the audience (depending on the kinds of heckles he received), defend his use of the veto, attack Congress as a body and single out particular congressmen (occasionally denouncing them as traitors for not supporting his policies), compare himself to Christ and offer himself as a martyr, and finally conclude by declaring his closeness to the people and appealing for their support.

Trump is even worse, but still, the resemblance is close.

Wittes suggests we pay special attention to the 10th article of impeachment. The Senate has them all:

ARTICLE 10.That said Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, unmindful of the high duties of his high office and the dignity and proprieties thereof, and of the harmony and courtesies which ought to exist and be maintained between the executive and legislative branches of the Government of the United States, designing and intending to set aside the rightful authorities and powers of Congress, did attempt to bring into disgrace, ridicule, hatred, contempt and reproach, the Congress of the United States, and the several branches thereof, to impair and destroy the regard and respect of all the good people of the United States for the Congress and the legislative power thereof, which all officers of the government ought inviolably to preserve and maintain, and to excite the odium and resentment of all good people of the United States against Congress and the laws by it duly and constitutionally enacted; and in pursuance of his said design and intent, openly and publicly and before divers assemblages of citizens of the United States, convened in divers parts thereof, to meet and receive said Andrew Johnson as the Chief Magistrate of the United States, did, on the eighteenth day of August, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-six, and on divers other days and times, as well before as afterwards, make and declare, with a loud voice, certain intemperate, inflammatory and scandalous harangues, and therein utter loud threats and bitter menaces, as well against Congress as the laws of the United States duly enacted thereby, amid the cries, jeers and laughter of the multitudes then assembled in hearing…

Ok now that is a perfect match.

Hot pants

Aug 22nd, 2019 12:27 pm | By

It all makes a sick kind of sense.

Jeffrey Epstein reportedly told women and young girls that he was a modeling scout for Victoria’s Secret. The financier never worked for the lingerie retailer, or even, technically, for its parent company, L Brands. But he had a close relationship with the head of L Brands, Leslie Wexner, assuming an unusual degree of control over Wexner’s assets and personal life, according to reporting by The New York Times. Epstein seems to have exploited his proximity to Victoria’s Secret to facilitate his alleged crimes. According to Alicia Arden, a model and actress, this was Epstein’s ruse when he lured her to a Santa Monica hotel room and assaulted her in 1997. When Maria Farmer, who worked the door at Epstein’s New York mansion, asked why so many young girls were going in and out of his home, she says she was told that they were auditioning to be models for the lingerie brand.

It’s the sexism from both directions thing.

Girls and women are bombarded with messages telling them they have to be hot and gorgeous and fuckworthy, and that they’re contemptible and disgusting if they’re not.

They’re also subject to assault for being hot and gorgeous and fuckworthy as well as for not being hot and gorgeous and fuckworthy.

It totally makes sense that a prolific rapist and trafficker would use catch me-fuck me underwear modeling as a lure for the young humans caught in this stupid trap.

L Brands executives were reportedly made aware, in the mid-1990s, that Epstein was posing as a modeling recruiter for the company. Although they alerted Wexner, he seems to have taken no action. His relationship with Epstein endured, and in 1998 Wexner let Epstein take possession of his palatial mansion on East 71st Street in Manhattan where much of Epstein’s abuse is said to have taken place. Even after Wexner severed ties with Epstein, Victoria’s Secret continued to work with MC2 Model Management, an agency whose owner, Jean-Luc Brunel, has been accused of operating a sex-trafficking operation for wealthy men, Epstein among them. Models from MC2 walked in the brand’s televised fashion show as recently as 2015.

It’s all basically the same thing – an industry based on shaping female humans into fuck toys, and people connected to and raping the products of that industry.

It’s always been about the male fantasy.

Founded in 1977 by a California man named Roy Raymond, Victoria’s Secret was initially imagined as a haven for straight men, something more titillating than the mainstream department-store offerings but less salacious and fringe than sex shops. Raymond told Newsweek in 1981 that he started Victoria’s Secret after having a bad experience in the lingerie section of a department store. The offerings weren’t sexy enough, and the saleswomen seemed uncomfortable with his presence. He wanted to make a place where men could buy provocative, elaborate sexual garments for their wives or girlfriends, and he opened the first store with the help of a $40,000 loan from his relatives.

Men are weird. “Sexual garments” for god’s sake. Somebody should come up with a line of sexy oven mitts; it makes just as much sense.

To make the store more appealing to women, Raymond invented “Victoria,” an imaginary British woman whom he cast as the owner of the company. In the early days, the mail-order catalog featured letters to customers from Victoria, written in the first person. Raymond chose the name of the boutique and its titular owner from the Victorian era, and modeled the store interiors after 19th-century British brothels. It’s unclear exactly what the “secret” was meant to be: Maybe that “Victoria” had sex, or maybe just that she wore underwear.

I’ve had a few laughs over the years wondering what the secret might be. “Ooooh I have a vagina.” “Oooooh I’m naked under these naughty knickers.” “Ooooh I sit down to pee.”

When The Limited took over the brand, the new chief continued the theme. “Women get a little pip, a little perk out of,” wearing lingerie, Howard Gross told Faludi. Gross, who was the president of Victoria’s Secret from 1985 to 1991, went on to narrate what he imagined to be the inner monologue of a woman wearing Victoria’s Secret garments. “It’s like, ‘Here I am at this very serious business meeting and they really don’t know that I’m wearing a garter belt!’”

laughs hysterically

Yeah no guys that’s you, that’s not us. We’re at that very serious business meeting wishing Bill from Accounting would quit staring at our tits.

What does Victoria’s Secret think about women? It doesn’t think of them very much at all—instead, the company speculates about what men want women to be, and then sells that. The result is a bleak vision of heterosexuality, one in which desire is a one-way street running from male to female, in which all women merely want to be wanted by men, and all men want the same thing from women, namely some combination of malnourishment and silence. It’s a vision of sex in which women are not participants or collaborators or subjects with desires or agendas of their own, but something more like ornaments.

So it’s no wonder that Epstein was into it.

[W]e are kidding ourselves if we do not concede that images like those put forward by Victoria’s Secret enable sexual violence like that which Epstein is accused of. Images of women and girls as thoughtless and hypersexual have contributed to a culture of sexual abuse and impunity, a culture in which men feel entitled to treat the women they desire the way those women have always been depicted: as objects.

If we believe in the power of words and images to shape our minds and our lives, then we must also believe in the power of advertising, the power of the assumptions and messages of that advertising, to inform our behaviors. Although the Victoria’s Secret marketing strategy is not, again, a moral equivalent to the rape and abuse of women and girls, this does not mean that we must ignore the plain reality that the two things partake of the same logic: a logic in which women’s inner lives don’t matter, or in which they are at least much less important than men’s sexual gratification. We don’t know what Epstein thought of the girls he abused, but he perhaps thought of them more or less the way Victoria’s Secret assumed men did.

Since I’m writing a blog post and not a piece for the Atlantic, I don’t feel any need to point out that Victoria’s Secret’s marketing strategy is not a moral equivalent to the rape and abuse of women and girls, because duh, so I can just get on with saying both are part of the same hideous, creepy, mistaken, sinister view of women as mindless lumps attached to valuable genitalia.

No matter what competitors say

Aug 22nd, 2019 11:21 am | By

Bicycling Magazine tweeted a couple of days ago:

.@rachelvmckinnon is going to continue racing—doing what she loves to do, which she has a right to do—no matter what internet commenters or competitors say.

The linked article is from January.

The wording of the tweet is odd. It sounds like any male abuser or schoolyard bully…you can almost hear the word “bitch” as you read it. That “no matter what competitors say” – that’s a defiance too many, I would think. “McKinnon is going to continue cheating no matter what competitors say” – they really want to go there?

It’s also an odd picture to use. McKinnon towers over the woman, which underlines the fact that he’s cheating.

Reactions are not uniformly impressed.

So brave of you to encourage and support cheating. So very brave and…predictable.

And a female athlete is excluded every time Rachel competes. So inclusive.

Women rarely win against men in competitive sport because male bodies are bigger. That’s why female categories were established, not to accommodate the inner ‘feelings’ of individuals.

Of course Rachael has a right to compete, IN THE MALE CATEGORY.

As usual my question is, who came 4th? Because that’s the woman who’s been cheated out of a medal & a place on that podium, that’s the woman who may now not get a sponsorship, that’s the woman who has trained hard but lost to a man. McKinnon isn’t a world Champion, he’s a cheat.

There’s just nothing quite like it for reminding us that we – women – don’t matter.

Blazing a trail

Aug 22nd, 2019 10:21 am | By

The BBC celebrates a male rugby player who has moved to a women’s team:

Kelly Morgan is a trailblazer.

Born Nicholas Gareth Morgan, she played representative rugby for east Wales as a teenager.

Then he spent ten years “wrestling with gender identity” and now is playing with (and against) the wims.

Transgender women participating in female sport is a divisive subject, and one not confined to Welsh rugby.

Brushing it off with “divisive” is lazy and cowardly. The BBC might as well say it’s “divisive” for men to punch women in the face whenever they get annoyed.

Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) guidelines – which are “fully committed to the principles of equality” – state Kelly can play providing her blood-measured testosterone levels are within a certain range.

They can say they’re fully committed to the principles of equality all they like, but that doesn’t make it true, and letting people with male bodies trample over women has nothing to do with any “principles of equality.” It has to do with letting men get what they want while women get stomped.

Kelly has been taking estrogen for 18 months. Kelly still has a male body.

At nearly 6ft she stands out among her team-mates, and club captain Jessica Minty-Madley recounts a time she folded an opponent “like a deckchair”.

I guess Minty-Madley is ok with that because the folded one was an opponent? But that’s called “cheating” and it’s frowned on.

But coach Wayne Mansell notes: “I’ve seen Kelly struggling more than a lot of the girls with the demands our of training.”

That said, Kelly, 33, accepts transgender women may have an advantage in terms of size and strength.

“I do feel guilty, but what can you do?” she says. “I don’t go out to hurt anybody. I just want to play rugby.”

What can you do? What can you do? WHAT CAN YOU DO? You can refrain from cheating, that’s what. You can grasp that you feel guilty for a reason and stop doing the bad thing you’re doing that makes you feel guilty. Play mixed-sex non-professional rugby if there is such a thing, or play on a men’s team if there isn’t, but don’t make women pay the price for your desire to play rugby while pretending to be a woman.

Brian Minty, who founded the team four years ago, says: “I’ve always taken rugby as a totally inclusive sport and we’re happy to welcome Kelly to the club.”

Inclusive how? Anyone can be on the team, no matter what the level of skill or fitness or preparation? Toddlers can play alongside huge adult men?

“Inclusive” in this context ought to mean no arbitrary barriers – no exclusion for race or class or sexual orientation or political allegiance or immigration status and the like. But if you have a women’s team, as they do, it’s not arbitrary to exclude men from the women’s team. Possession of a male body is not an arbitrary attribute in this context.

“One of the main things Kelly does is give confidence to the other people around her. We’ve got a number of people who’ve only just started playing.”

He can’t resist a joke, though, adding: “She’s going to be a good, good player for the next few years, as long as we can stop her injuring players in training.”

Oh hahahahahahahaha that is hilarious, it’s funny the way Trump’s jokes are funny. Hahahahahaha he might injure the women hahahahahaha what could be funnier than that.

Minty-Madley says Kelly is not treated differently to other members of the squad.

“Kelly has become completely and utterly absorbed into the team,” she says.

“She’s one of us. She comes in, trains hard, plays hard and parties hard with us afterwards.

“She folded a girl like a deckchair during a game, which was quite funny, but they’re still friends.”

So funny. So very hilariously uproariously funny.

Mansell sees Kelly as a great addition to his squad.

“Straight away we just saw there was a load of ability there,” he says.

“Some days are good, some days are bad, but at the end of the day can you really exclude people?”

Can you really exclude men from playing on women’s teams? Yes of course you can, and you have to.

Rigging the vote is TOTALLY fair

Aug 21st, 2019 5:48 pm | By

I thought this was just some random (albeit blue-checked) person on Twitter responding to a Fox News tweet about Ocasio-Cortez’s saying the Electoral College is a scam.

Actually @AOC, eliminating the Electoral College would silence our voices here in Iowa and in many other states across the country.

This is just more evidence of how out of touch the Democrats have become.

So I pointed out that an equal vote doesn’t silence anyone and it’s the outsize vote for less populated states that’s the real silencing, and then I looked to see who she is.

She’s a senator! A US senator!

And it’s the Democrats who are out of touch. Oy.

No YOU’RE abzurd

Aug 21st, 2019 5:24 pm | By

Just in case you want to see him telling reporters that Denmark can’t talk to him like that.

Denmark can’t call his excellent very good outstanding idea abzurd. It is not either abzurd, it’s very excellent. Besides they didn’t say it about him they said it about the United States. He doesn’t mind about himself, he’s the most humble self-effacing guy you’d want to meet, but they said it to the United STATES I tell you.

74,155 fires

Aug 21st, 2019 4:46 pm | By

About that Amazon rain forest

Fires in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest are proliferating at an alarming rate.

That’s the gist of an announcement this week by the country’s National Institute for Space Research, or INPE. According to the agency, there have been 74,155 fires in the Brazil so far this year — most of which erupted in the Amazon. That represents an astonishing leap of more than 80% over last year, and by far the most that the agency has recorded since it began compiling this data in 2013.

Over half of those fires, or nearly 36,000 of them, have ignited in just the past month. That’s nearly as many as all of 2018 combined. Smoke from the fires has darkened the skies over major Brazilian cities such as São Paulo.

Meteorologist Eric Holthaus puts it this way:

The Amazon rainforest—an irreplaceable part of what makes life on Earth possible—is burning at a record rate. Global CO2 emissions are at a record high. Last month was the hottest month on our planet in recorded history. We are in a climate emergency.

You know what happened to Rapanui, aka Easter Island?

The Easter Island of ancient times supported a sub-tropical forest complete with the tall Easter Island Palm, a tree suitable for building homes, canoes, and latticing necessary for the construction of such statues. With the vegetation of the island, natives had fuelwood and the resources to make rope. With their sea-worthy canoes, Easter Islanders lived off a steady diet of porpoise. A complex social structure developed complete with a centralized government and religious priests.

It was this Easter Island society that built the famous statues and hauled them around the island using wooden platforms and rope constructed from the forest. The construction of these statues peaked from 1200 to 1500 AD, probably when the civilization was at its greatest level. However, pollen analysis shows that at this time the tree population of the island was rapidly declining as deforestation took its toll.

Around 1400 the Easter Island palm became extinct due to overharvesting. Its capability to reproduce has become severely limited by the proliferation of rats, introduced by the islanders when they first arrived, which ate its seeds. In the years after the disappearance of the palm, ancient garbage piles reveal that porpoise bones declined sharply. The islanders, no longer with the palm wood needed for canoe building, could no longer make journeys out to sea. Consequently, the consumption of land birds, migratory birds, and mollusks increased. Soon land birds went extinct and migratory bird numbers were severely reduced, thus spelling an end for Easter Island’s forests. Already under intense pressure by the human population for firewood and building material, the forests lost their animal pollinators and seed dispersers with the disappearance of the birds. Today, only one of the original 22 species of seabird still nests on Easter Island.

With the loss of their forest, the quality of life for Islanders plummeted. Streams and drinking water supplies dried up. Crop yields declined as wind, rain, and sunlight eroded topsoils. Fires became a luxury since no wood could be found on the island, and grasses had to be used for fuel. No longer could rope by manufactured to move the stone statues and they were abandoned. The Easter Islanders began to starve, lacking their access to porpoise meat and having depleted the island of birds.

We’re doing the same thing to the whole planet, and the disappearances and dryings up and plummetings are speeding up.

No edible food for them

Aug 21st, 2019 3:35 pm | By

On this already full day, Trump is also finding new ways to trample human rights.

The Trump administration announced on Wednesday a plan to eliminate a federal court agreement and replace it with a regulation that would allow the government to indefinitely detain migrant children with their parents.

Of course it did. When there’s an opportunity for rich white people to torture impoverished brown people, Trump’s your man.

By replacing the agreement, known as the Flores settlement, the government could dramatically expand family detention and increase how long children are held in custody. The government would also have more power to determine the standards of care for children and families in custody.

The Trump administration has prioritized ending the decades-old Flores agreement, which says the government must hold children in the least restrictive setting and release them as quickly as possible, generally after 20 days in detention. A legal team representing migrant children is also allowed to monitor the government’s detention practices under the terms of the settlement.

Can’t have that. Gotta hold them as long as possible, and make them as miserable and sick as possible while they’re there.

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A lawyer for the migrant children in the Flores case, Holly Cooper, said the legal team would file a response to the Trump administration rule after it is formally published. “Because the federal government is publishing a final rule on the heel of multiple findings of violations of the Flores settlement agreement it is incumbent on us to protect those interests,” Cooper said.

As part of the Flores agreement, a federal appeals panel found last week that detained children should get edible food, clean water, soap and toothpaste after the government argued hygiene products did not need to be provided. It was also a team of Flores attorneys who raised the alarm about dire conditions for migrant children at border processing facilities in June.

The Trump administration is publicly saying it wants to deprive migrant children of edible food, clean water, soap and toothpaste. Trump and his people want that to be government policy.

California’s attorney general, Xavier Becerra, condemned the Trump administration plan and said the state was prepared to “defend the human rights of children”.

“Children don’t become subhuman because they are migrants. All children are God’s children, our children, and America should never treat them otherwise,” Becerra said in a statement. “Yet, the Trump administration is about to take America down that dark road stripping protections that spare children from the trauma and harm caused by unlawful, cruel and prolonged detention.”

Let’s not go down that road.

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Psychotic break or drugs?

Aug 21st, 2019 12:35 pm | By

Is there any reason not to think Trump is simply completely out of his mind now? And thus a throbbing pulsating threat to us all?

Eugene Wu, MD:

We learn in med school that if someone comes to the emergency room calling themselves the King of Israel and the second coming of God, that patient is either high on drugs or is having a psychotic break and needs to be promptly evaluated with a tox screen and psychiatric consult.

John Haltiwanger, reporter for Business Insider:

In the past 24 hours Trump cancelled a trip to Denmark because it wouldn’t sell him Greenland, referred to American Jews who vote Democratic as disloyal, and tweeted Israeli Jews view him as the “second coming of God” and the “King of Israel.”


Also he stood in the Rose Garden and told reporters he’s The Chosen One.

It’s at .32 if you want to skip ahead.

Very seriously

Aug 21st, 2019 12:12 pm | By

In his Shout at the Reporters session this morning Trump pretended he can change the Constitution all by himself.

Nah. He can’t.

Trump said on Wednesday that his administration was seriously looking at ending the right of citizenship for U.S.-born children of noncitizens and people who immigrated to the United States illegally.

“We’re looking at that very seriously, birthright citizenship, where you have a baby on our land, you walk over the border, have a baby – congratulations, the baby is now a U.S. citizen. … It’s frankly ridiculous,” Trump told reporters outside the White House.

He can look at it very seriously all he wants, but he can’t do anything about it.

The Constitution’s 14th Amendment, passed after the Civil War to ensure that black Americans had full citizenship rights, granted citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States.”

It has since routinely been interpreted to grant citizenship to most people born in the United States, whether or not their parents are American citizens or legally living in the United States.

He can’t just wave his pudgy little fist around and make that go away.

Guest post: Offer ends soon!

Aug 21st, 2019 12:05 pm | By

Originally a comment by Omar on A very not nice way of saying something.

“Essentially it’s a large real estate deal,” he said.

Greenland will all be prime real estate in just a few short years..! Up for fantastic developments..! All Trump’s usual stuff: casinos, golf courses, spa resorts…… Reindeer rides for the kids; Christmas shopping like you’ve never seen, and then…..who knows?

As the rest of the world cooks in the global warming Trump says he does not believe is happening, he and Melania can move there and enjoy its balmy tropical weather: far away from the arid deserts that are fast taking over in so many other parts of the world and spoiling so many real estate markets, which will likely move southwards in the financial sense.

Greenland also has US bases for use by Trump as backup on the day that he announces that he has no more territorial ambitions anywhere in the world, save for the fast-thawing Antarctic Continent, to which he is moving massive ‘research operations’ inspired by the Japanese whaling ‘research’ precedent, which will involve every arm of the US military-industrial complex, and a once in a lifetime offer to the Russians that they will not be able to refuse: for all their real estate interests in Antarctica.

Under Trump, the United States of America is on course to become the United States of the Earth. Capital (or should that be Capitol?) Mar-Aaargh-Lago, Florida.

Stand by for developments. Address all real estate enquiries to the US Embassy in your own national capital, which I am sure will be only too happy to provide you with brochures setting out all the wonderful real estate options currently on offer.

But don’t delay! Offer is sure to end soon!

He said, denying that his words were antisemitic

Aug 21st, 2019 11:43 am | By

Trump, like any other stubborn toddler, has repeated the grossly anti-Semitic “the Jews are disloyal” trope from yesterday.


There were the King of the Jews tweets, but he didn’t stop there.

The president returned to the subject yet again later on Wednesday as he addressed reporters on the South Lawn of the White House before his Marine One departure to Kentucky where he was scheduled to speak to military veterans. Despite the furor surrounding his claims, he made his most specific suggestion yet that American Jews intrinsically have divided fealty.

“If you vote for a Democrat, you’re being disloyal to Jewish people and you’re being very disloyal to Israel,” he said, denying that his words were antisemitic.

Oh well as long as he denies it that’s ok then.

Ted Deutch, a Democratic congressman from Florida who has supported aspects of Trump’s Israel policy in the past, including the decision to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem, was also harshly critical. Talking to the CBS franchise in Miami, he called on Trump to apologise.

“It would be an enormous start if we can all acknowledge there is no place for language like that,” he said.

Deutch, who is Jewish, told the TV station that after Trump made his contentious remarks he had received a text from a friend whose 98-year-old mother was a Holocaust survivor. She wanted the congressman to know, he said, “that the language she heard today was language she heard as a kid in Germany”.

But Trump says it isn’t, so that’s ok.