Notes and Comment Blog


A sincerely held moral conviction that women are public property

Oct 22nd, 2018 4:09 pm | By

Trump thinks women don’t get enough shit yet, he wants to make sure they get more.

The Trump administration is expected to soon issue regulations that would expand religious and moral exemptions for covering birth control in employer health insurance plans, a move that critics say would limit women’s access to contraception.

“a move that critics say would limit women’s access to contraception” – why do news outlets say stupid things like that? Of course it would limit women’s access to contraception, by definition; if you remove an item from insurance coverage, then access to that item becomes limited. That’s like saying if you cut workers’ pay then workers have less money.

The exact details of the exemptions, and when they would take effect, remain unclear. But women’s health advocates are bracing for a legal fight. They expect the rules to mimic earlier regulations enacted by the Trump administration last year before being blocked by federal judges.

The rules allowed nearly any employer — nonprofit or for-profit — with a religious or moral objection to opt out of the Affordable Care Act provision requiring the coverage of contraception at no cost for the employee. The rules vastly expanded which companies could be exempt from the mandate and why, including a broad exemption for a “sincerely held moral conviction” not based in any particular religious belief. Perhaps most significantly, it required employers to provide no other accommodations for employees seeking birth control coverage.

Or, to put it more simply, fuck women. Take everything away from women; load women with every burden; make women responsible for everything; ignore the fact that it takes two people to create a pregnancy; just fuck fuck fuck women. Beat them into the ground and then dance a tarantella on the dirt.

The birth control rules are part of a broader effort by conservatives inside and outside of the White House to prioritize what they call religious liberty.

And what “religious liberty” means is sticking it to women. Making women second-class and subordinate, forcing women to stay home and have 43 children apiece; denying women education and freedom of movement; keeping women broke barefoot and pregnant until they drop dead during the last childbirth.



Load-bearing filaments

Oct 22nd, 2018 3:12 pm | By

I saw a thing today. I was out in the neighborhood, walking to and fro in the world and up and down in it; it’s very foggy here so there is heavy condensation on the bushes and trees and everything else. What happens when there’s condensation like that? You see how many spider webs there are everywhere. I stopped to look at one, because a spider web beaded in condensation is a damn pretty thing, and I looked so closely that I noticed a thing new to me. Webs have long radial lines, like spokes, and short lines between them. At the sides of the web, but not top and bottom, the short lines make a Y – they have 2 tiny lines to meet the radial line instead of just one – but only at the upper end.

I walked on and looked at another web and saw the same thing, then a bigger one and that had three lines on many of the short lines, a fork instead of a Y.

I searched Google images and found a perfect illustration:

Image may contain: plant and outdoor

See? Both Ys and forks on that one. Isn’t that interesting? Charlotte would be proud.

All the webs I looked closely at had a spider sitting placidly at the center, waiting for lunch.



Fake or real?

Oct 22nd, 2018 11:12 am | By

This is a thing from October last year but I’m curious about it. A friend posted it on Facebook yesterday (probably not noticing the date – it happens to all of us), and there are a lot of angry comments and a lot of comments saying it looks fake. My reaction when first reading it was it’s fake. I still think it’s fake. I’m curious about what others think.

A daycare center received this letter. This is trump’s America. 😥😡

Image may contain: text

The text of the letter:

Hello I am writing this as a concerned parent and friend!

So most of us noticed you have a black girl working for the daycare. Our problem is she’s too dark most of the kids is scared of her. I am only telling you this because some of us are planning to pull our kid form the daycare shes an eye sore. I see you’re trying to touch all of the nationalities but maybe hire a light skinned black she would blend more and not look like a “NANNY”. She’s not the first thing a child nor the parents want to see soon as they walk in the daycare. So the choice is yours! Choose wisely remember WE THE PARENTS PAY YOUR MORTAGE. I hope you make her aware shes not wanted. I’m sending her a copy as well. However if she needs a job Mcdonalds is always hiring her kind. So work your magic and make it disappear!!!

P.S. Just trying “TO MAKE YOUR DAYCARE GREAT AGAIN”

Why do I think it’s fake? I’m not sure. Partly I think because the tone is wrong – too perky for what it’s saying. Too facetious for what it’s saying. It sounds too Milo-like, too 4chan-like. Not that the racism is fake, but I think the note is a provocation of some kind rather than a serious request.

Snopes reports the day care center confirmed getting the note:

Although it is not uncommon for nasty letters and other controversies to be faked by social media users for attention or viral fame, this appears to be genuine — at least to the extent that we reached out to the daycare center, who averred that they received the letter but didn’t know who sent it or why.

Sarah Wojcik, a reporter for the local Morning Call, told us that that police were also aware of the letter:

Whitehall police Chief Michael Marks said he has never seen a letter so offensive in his 20 years in police work.

“It’s disturbing. This is not something you want to see in your community,” Marks said. “This is something we as a police department are going to take very seriously.”

Marks said such a letter could carry harassment and ethnic intimidation charges, though he conceded locating the sender is tricky. He said there’s been no similar incidents reported in the township.

The day care already has security measures in place for the safety of its children, but McKelley said staff is on added alert.

If it is a fake that doesn’t make it any better – it’s a “real” fake and doubtless made the staff at that day care center feel horrible and threatened.



A person who can keep things under check

Oct 22nd, 2018 10:25 am | By

Aaron Blake at the Post points out that Trump’s abject hero-worship of dictators is a tell:

President Trump has once again given away the game on Saudi Arabia and his reverence for authoritarians. But his soft stance on the Saudis’ killing of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi also betrays this irony: By going easy on them, he’s conceding his own weakness.

Despite ostensibly putting pressure on Saudi Arabia this weekend to come clean, Trump in an interview with The Post’s Josh Dawsey seemed to marvel at that same government’s ability to snuff out unrest.

“He’s seen as a person who can keep things under check,” Trump said of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “I mean that in a positive way.”

It’s a bad time to mean it in a positive way, Blake points out. Yes, it is, and it’s also a bad time to drool wishfully about Keeping Things Under Check. That’s not actually the goal. We’re supposed to value open discussion and freedom of thought, not battening everything down whether or not there’s a storm.

While this might be the most poorly timed bit of Trumpian admiration for authoritarians, it’s hardly the first example of it. Trump has praised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job” with his drug war, an initiative that has resulted in thousands of extrajudicial killings. He has praised North Korea’s Kim Jong Un for seizing power at the young age of 27, saying: “It’s incredible. He wiped out the uncle, he wiped out this one, that one.” He has praised stiflers of dissent such as China’s Xi Jinping, Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Egypt’s Abdel Fatah al-Sissi for consolidating power.

He’d like to keep us under check, but he can’t…yet.



We’re in a National Emergy

Oct 22nd, 2018 10:07 am | By

Good morning Don.

In case it gets corrected, it reads

Sadly, it looks like Mexico’s Police and Military are unable to stop the Caravan heading to the Southern Border of the United States. Criminals and unknown Middle Easterners are mixed in. I have alerted Border Patrol and Military that this is a National Emergy. Must change laws!



Vote…if they’ll let you

Oct 21st, 2018 4:11 pm | By

Jelani Cobb on the resurgence of voter suppression:

Decades ago, amid the most overt privations of Jim Crow, African-Americans used to tell a joke about a black Harvard professor who moves to the Deep South and tries to register to vote. A white clerk tells him that he will first have to read aloud a paragraph from the Constitution. When he easily does so, the clerk says that he will also have to read and translate a section written in Spanish. Again he complies. The clerk then demands that he read sections in French, German, and Russian, all of which he happens to speak fluently. Finally, the clerk shows him a passage in Arabic. The professor looks at it and says, “My Arabic is rusty, but I believe this translates to ‘Negroes cannot vote in this county.’ ”

But that was in the old days, when people were so much less hip than we are now. This year it’s all “exact match” and purges and “your polling place is ten miles away and there’s no bus service, have a nice day.”

The race between the Republican, Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state, and the Democrat, Stacey Abrams, the former minority leader of the state House of Representatives—who, if she wins, will be the first black female governor in the country—is a virtual tie. But Kemp has invoked the so-called exact-match law to suspend fifty-three thousand voter-registration applications, for infractions as minor as a hyphen missing from a surname. African-Americans make up thirty-two per cent of the state’s population, but they represent nearly seventy per cent of the suspended applications. Kemp’s move is particularly questionable given that Abrams’s electoral strategy hinges on mobilizing the six hundred thousand unregistered black voters who have long been seen as the holy grail of Democratic politics in the state.

It’s still amazing me that Kemp is both in control of these voter suppression tricks and running for governor.

According to the Brennan Center for Justice, ninety-nine bills designed to diminish voter access were introduced last year in thirty-one state legislatures. Many of the recent Republican-led efforts stem from the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby v. Holder. In an opinion that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that discrimination still exists, but not sufficiently to warrant the “extraordinary” remediation measures that the act imposed on the states of the former Confederacy. That argument is roughly equivalent to saying that a decline in the prevalence of an infectious disease means that we should stop vaccinating against it. Within hours of the decision, Texas announced a strict new voter-I.D. law. Mississippi and Alabama shortly afterward began enforcing similar laws that previously had been barred.

And there’s this.

 



The Saudis blithely assume abhorrence

Oct 21st, 2018 12:08 pm | By

Maureen Dowd on the role of Saudi bribery:

Hollywood, Silicon Valley, presidential libraries and foundations, politically connected private equity groups, P.R. firms, think tanks, universities and Trump family enterprises are awash in Arab money. The Saudis satisfy American greed, deftly playing their role as dollar signs in robes.

I’ve long thought there should be a great deal more reporting on this.

Donald Trump, who may be the only person more fond of lavish displays of arriviste gilt than the Saudis, is bedazzled by a Saudi pledge to buy billions worth of American weapons, just as he was flattered by the Saudi sword dance and weird luminescent orb séance on his visit to the kingdom.

Bedazzled and flattered and utterly helpless to counter any of that with scruples or rational thought or information or anything else that might prompt him to resist. He’s too stupid, too greedy, too corrupt, too ignorant, too mindless, too impulsive, too narcissistic…with nothing at all to pull the other way.

The Saudis blithely assume abhorrence at their inhumane behavior — from beheadings to forcing teenage girls without head scarves back into a burning school to die, as the religious police did in Mecca in 2002, to the brazen murder of Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist — can be lubricated away with oil and money.

And they’re right, too.

Our Faustian deal was this: As long as the Saudis kept our oil prices low, bought our fighter jets, housed our fleets and drones and gave us cover in the region, they could keep their country proudly medieval.

It was accepted wisdom that it was futile to press the Saudis on the feudal, the degradation of women and human rights atrocities, because it would just make them dig in their heels. Even Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, never made an impassioned Beijing-style speech about women in Saudi Arabia being obliterated under a black tarp.

And that hasn’t changed.



Trump threatens voters

Oct 21st, 2018 11:22 am | By

The president of the US engaged in active, blatant, highly visible voter suppression.



He has privately grimaced

Oct 21st, 2018 8:40 am | By

The Post called Don for a chat about Saudi Arabia last night.

President Trump strongly criticized Saudi Arabia’s explanation for the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi late Saturday, saying that “obviously there’s been deception, and there’s been lies.”

At the same time, Trump defended the oil-rich monarchy as an “incredible ally” and kept open the possibility that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman did not order Saudi agents to kill Khashoggi.

That is, Trump talked his usual incoherent contradictory bafflegab late Saturday.

Trump had told reporters Friday that the Saudi explanation was credible, but U.S. officials said he has privately grimaced that his son-in-law Jared Kushner’s close relationship with the crown prince has become a liability and left the White House with no good options.

You can’t “grimace that.” You can “grumble that” but you can’t grimace that. A verb for making a facial expression is not a verb for saying.

But putting accuracy in language aside, what is Trump doing complaining about Jared Kushner as if giving him a job in the White House had been someone else’s idea? He’s Trump’s daughter’s husband, not anyone else’s. It’s Trump who has put his family members in administration jobs, not anyone else. It’s Trump who has broken laws against nepotism from the outset, not anyone else.

In the interview, Trump defended Kushner as doing a “very good job” but acknowledged that he and the crown prince, both in their 30s, are relatively young for the amount of power they wield.

Well yes, they are, and in Kushner’s case at least also callow and ignorant and unqualified. Whose fault is that?! Whose idea was it to put callow young Kushner in that job? Trump’s, not anyone else’s.

“They’re two young guys. Jared doesn’t know him well or anything. They are just two young people. They are the same age. They like each other, I believe,” Trump said.

As is Princess Ivanka. Neither Princess Ivanka nor Prince Jared should be anywhere near the White House.

On Saturday, King Salman increased his support for the crown prince, putting him in charge of the official review of the Saudi intelligence apparatus.

The decision raised questions about the quality of Saudi Arabia’s review and investigation of its actions, which Pompeo touted as a key achievement of his trip.

“We talked about the importance of the investigation, completing it in a timely fashion, and making sure that it was sufficiently transparent that we could evaluate the work that had been done to get to the bottom of it,” Pompeo told reporters on the tarmac in Riyadh before leaving the country. “So that was the purpose of the visit. In that sense it was incredibly successful.”

Oh yes, hugely successful, with the crown prince now in charge of the review.

One U.S. official expressed dismay that Kushner’s close relationship with the crown prince was not enough to provide guardrails against the killing and now leaves the administration vulnerable to criticism that the United States is beholden to the Saudis.

The official said Trump is annoyed by a sense that he was blindsided and by what he sees as Kushner’s misjudgment. Kushner has in recent days been sidelined from the Khashoggi case, which many in the administration see as beneficial.

Blah blah blah; all this normalizing talk, as if there were nothing corrupt or incompetent about making stuffed dummy son-in-law responsible for the Saudi Arabia beat.

Trump suggested on Saturday that the crown prince was a stabilizing force in Saudi Arabia, despite the view of critics who note his government’s slaughter of civilians in Yemen, crackdown on dissent and jailing of political opponents.

“He’s a strong person. He has very good control,” Trump said. “He’s seen as a person who can keep things under check, I mean that in a positive way.”

Well of course he does; he’s a bully himself.



Don’t distract him

Oct 20th, 2018 11:27 am | By

Trump is pretending to believe the Saudis.

President Trump broke with his own intelligence agencies on Friday, appearing to accept Saudi Arabia’s explanationthat the journalist Jamal Khashoggi was killed by accident during a fistfight, while the United States’ spy agencies are increasingly convinced that he was assassinated on high-level orders from the Saudi royal court.

A fistfight for godsake. Right because journalists in their 50s always fling themselves into fistfights with 15 or 18 young beefy hit men and get accidentally beheaded as a result.

The growing evidence that Mr. Khashoggi, a Virginia resident and a columnist for The Washington Post, was killed on orders from the Saudi royal family has put Mr. Trump in an increasingly untenable position.

On Friday evening, the president praised the statement issued by the Saudi government, which confirmed Mr. Khashoggi’s death, as a “good first step” and a “big step.” Earlier, the prince and other senior Saudi officials had denied any role in Mr. Khashoggi’s disappearance.

Kushner has been leaning on his daddy-in-law to stay tight with MbS.

But as Turkish officials leaked details of the grisly killing of Mr. Khashoggi and of the dismemberment of his body, the White House has become increasingly isolated in its defense of Saudi Arabia.

A stream of prominent Wall Street and tech executives canceled plansto attend an investor conference convened by the prince next week in Riyadh, the Saudi capital.

Yes yes yes but Trump is busy holding rallies.

For Mr. Trump, who is on a three-day swing in the West before the midterm elections, the Khashoggi affair has become a distraction during a period in which he had hoped to campaign for Republican congressional candidates on a message of economic growth and the recent confirmation of Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Just after answering questions about the Saudi announcement, Mr. Trump flew to a “Make America Great Again” rally in Mesa, Ariz.

Dude’s got important business to take care of.



The gazelle card

Oct 20th, 2018 11:04 am | By

Not a good analogy. Nobody is saying trans people shouldn’t compete in sport at all, some people are saying male-bodied people shouldn’t compete against women. Nobody is saying trans people are non-human animals. Nobody is saying trans people should be rounded up and sent to camps. Feminist women are not comparable to Nazis.

This impasse is one reason I can’t see most trans activism as genuinely progressive: it’s so resolutely blind and indifferent to the vulnerabilities and disadvantages of anyone else. Another way of putting it would be that it’s so unintersectional. A progressive trans activism would give a shit about any physical advantages trans women might have over women. It wouldn’t callously wave that off and carry on regardless. It wouldn’t be so grossly narcissistic.

Updating to add: Of course there’s another aspect, which I overlooked.

Oh yes, that. Rachel McKinnon is not comparable to victims of Nazism. Rachel McKinnon being told that male bodies have an advantage over female bodies in cycle racing is not comparable to being a victim of genocide.

It’s all about the narcissism.



868 polling places closed

Oct 20th, 2018 8:59 am | By

Talk about voter suppression

At a time when many rural towns are slowly dying, the arrival of two massive meatpacking plants boosted Dodge City’s economy and transformed its demographics as immigrants from Mexico and other countries flooded in to fill those jobs.

Dodge City, Kansas, this is.

But the city located 160 miles (257 kilometers) west of Wichita has only one polling site for its 27,000 residents. Since 2002, the lone site was at the civic center just blocks from the local country club — in the wealthy, white part of town. For this November’s election, local officials have moved it outside the city limits to a facility more than a mile from the nearest bus stop, citing road construction that blocked the previous site.

One polling site…which is now outside of town and a hefty walk from the closest bus stop. That’ll keep those pesky immigrants from voting!

Do we not have any laws governing access to voting?

Some local voters and the American Civil Liberties Union have long criticized the use of a lone Dodge City polling site even before its move just weeks before the midterm election.

That single polling site services more than 13,000 voters in the Dodge City area, compared to an average of 1,200 voters per polling site at other locations, said Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU in Kansas.

Well, the Roberts Court said they could.

Kansas is not the only state that has closed polling sites. Polling places across the country have also been shuttered since the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013 struck down parts of the Voting Rights Act. A 2016 research report from the civil rights coalition Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights found local officials had shuttered 868 polling places in the three years after the court’s ruling.

That’s a lot of votes suppressed.



Grooming gang convicted

Oct 19th, 2018 3:21 pm | By

I saw a tweet from Nazir Afzal:

So I read the BBC report.

Twenty men have been found guilty of being part of a grooming gang that raped and abused girls as young as 11 in Huddersfield.

The men were convicted of more than 120 offences against 15 girls.

Victims were plied with drink and drugs and then “used and abused at will” in a seven-year “campaign of rape and abuse” between 2004 and 2011.

As if girls are just insentient objects there for the use of men.

During the three trials, jurors heard how the men – who are all British Asians mainly of Pakistani heritage – preyed on young, vulnerable girls, one of whom was described as having the mental age of a seven-year-old.

The men, all from Yorkshire, went by nicknames including “Dracula” – which Nahman Mohammed was known as.

Mohammed Imran Ibrar was known as “Bully”, Abdul Rehman was nicknamed “Beastie”, while Nasarat Hussain was known as “Nurse”.

All a joke to them, I guess.

In May, the former leader of the English Defence League Tommy Robinson was arrested for reporting on the case live on Facebook during the second of the trials.

Analysis by Mark Easton:

Rotherham, Oxford, Rochdale, Derby, Banbury, Telford, Peterborough, Aylesbury, Bristol, Halifax, Keighley, Newcastle… now Huddersfield. The list seems endless… and there will almost certainly be more.

The sexual abuse of vulnerable children in English towns by groups of men, often from immigrant communities, is an incarnation of a wider scandal that is dominating our news and overwhelming our police and our courts.

Victims and their families said they repeatedly told West Yorkshire Police what was happening but no arrests were made until years later.

Which is odd because West Yorkshire Police recently found time to caution Graham Linehan for saying Unapproved Things about “gender” on Twitter. Graham Linehan lives in Norfolk – a very long way away from West Yorkshire. Time to police what distant people say about gender on Twitter, but not time to police what men do to girls under their noses.



An opposition that excludes the space between

Oct 19th, 2018 11:40 am | By

Jane Clare Jones on ontological totalitarianism:

When I first encountered trans ideology about six years ago, it never occurred to me in a million years that the academy would just roll over for this pile of cobbled-together, anti-materialist, life-denying, patriarchal, bullying bullshit and ask it to tickle its tummy. The whole thing is a reality distortion cognitive dissonance machine. It’s an exercise in mass gaslighting that relies on a concatenation of double-thinks. And I had supposed, naively it turns out, that the people who are paid to think about things, would, y’know, think. Quite why it has prompted not inquiry, but compliance, is complex. It has, in the first instance, a lot to do with a catastrophically clay-headed application of the analysis of oppression. With the fact that people have just lapped up the cis-trans binary and the claim that women are the ‘oppressors’ of trans people, and that their political interests are, therefore, the interests of the dominant class (yeah, because radical feminists have so much institutional power, don’t they, Professors of Gender Studies?).

But why people have just lapped up the cis-trans binary and the claim that women are the ‘oppressors’ of trans people and have failed to spit it back out is still (and will probably always be) a profound mystery.

The other major factor in why this ideology has been so easily absorbed by the academy is, however, down to the dominance of what we’ve been talking around over the last few months – the pre-eminence of what we might call a ‘discourse all the way down’ model of reality. I’m not here, intending to ally myself with the Pluckrosean faction and start banging a drum for a simple return to objectivism (because yeah, that always collapses into a ‘view from nowhere’ which is also, often, ‘a view from privilege’).

Heh, and I just got finished dissing the bullshit from a member of the Pluckrosean faction claiming that it’s “posmodernism” to think it’s bad for presidents to rain insults down on women and other underlings in such a public outlet as Twitter.

However, as I’ve been trying to map out, the problem, as always, is with the way these two positions are structured in an opposition that excludes the space between. Reality is made between subjects and objects, between the subjective and the objective, between culture and nature, between ideas and material limits. It is as wrong-headed to think it’s all a matter of objective facts as it is to think it’s all a matter of discourse.

What I said in response to Lindsay, basically: language isn’t everything but neither is it nothing.

In short, get a grip.



The space is shrinking for civic voices

Oct 19th, 2018 10:56 am | By

The Independent has a profile of Gulalai and Saba Ismail.

Saba Ismail woke up in her Brooklyn home to a voicemail from her sister, Gulalai. She was calling to say she had been apprehended by Pakistan officials upon landing in Islamabad after a flight from London. The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) told Gulalai she had been put on an exit control list (ECL) and was going to be immediately detained. “The space is shrinking and closing out spaces for civic voices, voices who are raising for peace,” Gulalai says in the message recorded as she was being detained.

Speaking to The Independent later Gulalai says: “I am a well known human rights activist and I have always worked for countering extremism, for preventing young people from joining militant organisations, for peace-building, for inclusion of women in peace-building and I have always spoke for human rights of women in Pakistan.

“Adding my name on the ECL so that I can not leave Pakistan is an attack… on my constitutional right to speak up, my right to freedom of expression, my right to freedom of thought.

“Adding the name of a well renowned human rights activist in the ECL is a black spot on the character of Pakistan,” she says.

Pakistan has questions to answer, the Indy notes.

Raised in northwest Pakistan, Saba and Gulalai Ismail grew up in a progressive family where they, among their other siblings, were taught about human rights and gender equality, predominantly from their father Muhammad Ismail, a teacher and activist.

But outside of their home they saw a different world.

“Since I was born I have seen the differences in the way people treat their daughters than their sons,” 30-year-old Saba told The Independent. “Inside, outside, in schools – I saw that difference from a very young age.”

Although seeing gender inequality on a daily basis, there was one particular moment in her teenage years that still stands out for Saba.

“When my cousin was about 12 years old, she really wanted to become a pilot. One day she was told she can’t go to school anymore because she’s getting married to a man 15 years older than her, so she had to discontinue her education the very next day.

“I saw my male cousins going to school, continuing their education, and I thought, ‘she wants to be a pilot, and she’s not able to go to school, even though she wants to. She has to get married instead.’ That really sparked questions in mine and my sister’s minds.”

So the sisters started Aware Girls in 2002.

The seed of fighting injustice that was planted at such a young age has continued to grow throughout the lives of these two women. Saba spoke at the White House in 2017 about peace-building processes, she shared a panel with Melinda Gates and has regularly consulted for the UN. Gulalai too has worked with numerous organisations, winning the International Humanist of the Year Award and the Anna Politkovskaya award for campaigning against religious extremism. She was also previously named as one of 100 Leading Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine. Her passionate TED talk examines growing pressures of religious extremism and the non-violent ways of combating it.

Gulalai on Facebook two hours ago:

Dear Friends, As you know because of my over a decade work on human rights and political activism my name has been put on ECL and my passport has been confiscated. People all over Pakistan did online protests against my detention using hashtag #ReleaseGulalaiIsmail, because of the online public pressure I was released on interim bail. Here’s a petition asking for the return of my passport and removing my name from ECL- please sign the petition by opening the link and entering your name, country, and email address. I need your signatures to help me get back my passport and get myself off the ECL.

If you don’t know me and want to know more about the situation or myself, you can read this article [which is the Indy article linked and quoted above].

Link to Petition [hosted by the IHEU]

I’ve just signed.



Very conceptual

Oct 19th, 2018 10:31 am | By

Oh yes, if only we hadn’t internalized pesky “grievance studies” we’d be just fine with a president who calls women “Horseface” and “Pocahontas” and fat and ugly and all the rest of the bully-boy crap he vomits out.

False dichotomy, chum. It’s not a choice between “language is everything” and “language doesn’t matter.” Trump’s venomous name-calling is not all there is to Trump, but it’s not nothing, either.

Also I’m pretty sure it’s not a postmodernist invention that language matters.



Never shrug

Oct 19th, 2018 8:56 am | By

WHCA is the White House Correspondents’ Association.

Well said. Crisp and to the point.



The celebration of male thuggishness

Oct 19th, 2018 8:29 am | By

Worse every day. He’ll be outright calling for genocide in ten, nine, eight…

Jennifer Rubin at the Post:

One can hardly fathom the twisted psyche of a president who, after acknowledging that Jamal Khashoggi, a contributing columnist for The Post’s Global Opinions, had likely been murdered, would go before a cheering mob to lavish praise on a U.S. congressman who physically attacked a journalist. “Any guy who can do a body-slam, he’s my kind of — he’s my guy,” Trump said in a Montana campaign appearance on Thursday, referring to Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.) who pleaded guilty to assaulting the Guardian’s reporter Ben Jacobs, who had the temerity to ask Gianforte a health-care question. “I had heard that he body-slammed a reporter. And he was way up. … I said ‘Oh this is terrible, he’s gonna lose the election,’ ” Trump continued. “Then I said, ‘Well, wait a minute, I know Montana pretty well, I think it might help him.’ And it did.” And his ghoulish fans ate that up.

It’s like settling down to live in a sewer. Trump turns everything to shit; everything.

The Guardian’s U.S. editor responded with a statement: “To celebrate an attack on a journalist who was simply doing his job is an attack on the First Amendment by someone who has taken an oath to defend it,” said John Mulholland. “In the aftermath of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, it runs the risk of inviting other assaults on journalists both here and across the world where they often face far greater threats. We hope decent people will denounce these comments and that the president will see fit to apologize for them.”

The Guardian’s US editor should have phrased that last sentence differently. It’s pointless and feeble to express hope that Trump will do something an evil narcissistic moron will never do, plus it’s too late. He said the things; apologizing for them afterwards would be meaningless. Rubin points out that this is what Trump’s fans love about him:

the contempt for a free press, the celebration of male thuggishness, the mindless emotional outbursts. Somehow it empowers them, to side with brutes and bullies, to revel in the silencing of a free press.

That’s a tautology, really, because how else could they be his fans? What else is there to like about Trump? His wisdom, his insight, his eloquence, his generosity, his sense of justice? No, there’s only the gilded grinning monster, flapping his hands back and forth while encouraging violence against reporters.



The scary women

Oct 18th, 2018 5:15 pm | By

The what?

The actual MATERIAL violence that we as cis women pose to trans women? What the fuck is Zoé Samudzi talking about? Since when do women commit violence against people with male bodies? Her all-caps on MATERIAL make clear she doesn’t mean rhetorical or psychological violence but the real, physical, punch-kick variety. Women are not violent toward trans women. It’s some kind of wokeness or more radical than thou-ness that generates these ludicrous counter-factual panics, but that’s so radical it’s reactionary…as is so often the case when people start “standing with” their trans sisters.

Yes these terrible frightening women who say that women are women and men are not women – how very arrogant and playing-god-like.



They helped mislead investors and buyers

Oct 18th, 2018 4:37 pm | By

Speaking of Ivanka Trump, and the other Trumps – ProPublica published a big story yesterday on their criminal activities over the last couple of decades. It’s about all these international property deals, which they have said are just branding exercises with no actual involvement. Not true, says ProPublica.

The Trumps were typically way more than mere licensors or bystanders in their often-troubled deals. They were deeply involved in these projects. They helped mislead investors and buyers — and they profited handsomely from it.

Patterns of deceptive practices occurred in a dozen deals across the globe, as the business expanded into international projects, and the Trumps often participated. One common pattern, visible in more than half of those transactions, was a tendency to misstate key sales numbers.

In interviews and press conferences, Ivanka Trump gave false sales figures for projects in Mexico’s Baja California; Panama City, Panama; Toronto and New York’s SoHo neighborhood. These statements weren’t just the legendary Trump hype; they misled potential buyers about the viability of the developments.

Can you say “felony fraud”?

Not so much the most competent to be US Ambassador to the UN as a crook who lies to potential buyers to get them to overpay for dud properties. There was that project in Panama City that flopped, for instance.

Trump touted himself as a “partner” of the developer. His daughter Ivanka briefly boasted that she had personally sold 40 units. (A broker on the project said he couldn’t remember her selling even one.) Meanwhile, Ivanka told a journalist at the time that “over 90 percent” of the Panama units had sold — and at prices five times as high as comparable buildings. Both statements were untrue.

Not only were the Panama sales figures inflated, but many “purchases” turned out to be an illusion. That was no coincidence. The building’s financing depended on obtaining advance commitments from buyers, often before concrete had started pouring. But in between the sale of the bonds in 2007 and 2013, the year the building went bankrupt, buyers of 458 units in the 1,000-unit building abandoned their purchase contracts. Those buyers forfeited more than $50 million in deposits, and they never took possession of finished units. Given that the “buyers” were often shadowy shell companies or other paper entities, it was nearly impossible to discern who the actual purchasers were, let alone why they backed out.

Trumps “forfeiting” deposits that they had paid themselves via shell companies to lure in real buyers?

They’re skilled at being crooks, I’ll give them that.