There’s a lot going on in the middle east as tensions mount between Syria and Israel. The situation continues to unravel.
Israeli jets devastated Syrian targets near Damascus on Sunday in a heavy overnight air raid that Western and Israeli officials called a new strike on Iranian missiles bound for Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
As Syria’s two-year-old civil war veered into the potentially atomic arena of Iran’s confrontation with Israel and the West over its nuclear program, people were woken in the Syrian capital by explosions that shook the ground like an earthquake and sent pillars of flame high into the night sky.
“Night turned into day,” one man told Reuters from his home at Hameh, near one of the targets, the Jamraya military base.
Former Arizona Congress Woman Gabby Giffords won a profile in courage award in Boston. Her new role is an outspoken and effective symbol for more gun safety laws.
“It takes real courage to overcome a disability that is so personal,” says Guy McKhann, a leading neurologist at Johns Hopkins University.
Although he hasn’t treated her, he says it was clear that, distinct from cognitive abilities, retrieving the right words is difficult for Giffords. “What she wants to say sometimes doesn’t come out,” McKhann says. (A personal disclaimer: I am chairman of the Profile in Courage Committee that honored her Sunday and have a son with a brain injury.)
On Jan. 8, the two-year anniversary of the shooting, Giffords and Kelly started Americans for Responsible Solutions. They’ve already raised more than $10 million, enlisted more than 300,000 supporters, aired national television ads advocating expanded background checks for gun purchases and campaigned for the measure in a dozen states.
They are perfect for this role. She is a courageous survivor of a gun attack, a former Western member of Congress, a longtime hunter and supporter of gun rights. He is a combat veteran, Navy pilot and space shuttle commander. The National Rifle Association can’t paint them as effete foes of the Second Amendment.
In January, Giffords delivered emotional testimony on the measure to the Senate Judiciary Committee. She and Kelly personally lobbied members. Before last month’s Senate vote on the proposal, she sought out Arizona Republican Jeff Flake, a friend from her House days, and blurted out, “Need,” as in we need you. Unlike his Arizona colleague John McCain, who backed the background checks compromise, Flake voted no. The measure failed; since then, polls show a drop in Flake’s home-state popularity.
If you have young children around, this should scare you. You should also check the list at the link in the article to see if any of this crap is in your home.
Over 5000 children’s products contain toxic chemicals linked to cancer, hormone disruption and reproductive problems, including the toxic metals, cadmium, mercury and antimony, as well as phthalates and solvents. A new report by the Washington Toxics Coalition and Safer States reveals the results of manufacturer reporting to the Washington State Department of Ecology.
Makers of kids’ products reported using 41 of the 66 chemicals identified by WA Ecology as a concern for children’s health. Major manufacturers who reported using the chemicals in their products include Walmart, Gap, Gymboree, Hallmark, H & M and others. They use these chemicals in an array of kids’ products, including clothing, footwear, toys, games, jewelry, accessories, baby products, furniture, bedding, arts and crafts supplies and personal care products. Besides exposing kids in the products themselves, some of these chemicals, for example toxic flame retardants, build up in the environment and in the food we eat.
Examples of product categories reported to contain toxic chemicals include:
- Hallmark party hats containing cancer-causing arsenic
- Graco car seats containing the toxic flame retardant TBBPA (tetrabromobisphenol A)
- Claire’s cosmetics containing cancer-causing formaldehyde
- Walmart dolls containing hormone-disrupting bisphenol A
Kinda terrible isn’t it?
The basic idea behind Keynesian support for stimulus/opposition to austerity under current conditions is that when private demand is weak and monetary policy is up against the zero lower bound, there is no offset to changes in government spending. This shouldn’t be a hard concept to grasp — in particular, you would think that anyone posing as an economist could grasp the conditional nature of the statement.
Meanwhile, the proof is in the results. Look at the record highs in the Eurozone unemployment numbers.
European unemployment has hit a new record and Moody’s cut Slovenia’s debt rating to junk status as German Chancellor Angela Merkel defended her crisis strategy, pushing for twin goals of fiscal rigour and growth.
Grim new data showed on Tuesday that European unemployment set a fresh record in March with more than 19 million jobless people — including one out of four under-25-year-olds.
The Eurostat data agency reported an extra 62,000 people joining unemployment queues in just four weeks in the eurozone as the jobless rate climbed for the 23rd consecutive month — hitting 12.1 percent in March.
The frightening new figures — which showed almost two in three under-25s in Greece and Spain unemployed — come amid vocal criticism over the effects on jobs of the cost-cutting measures pushed by austerity advocates.
Anger against austerity is rising across Europe as hard economic data fails to show a turn-around.
Greece saw joblessness climb relentlessly to 27.2 percent in January, the latest available figures, from 26.3 percent in December.
Meanwhile Portugal, with unemployment at 17.5 percent in March, was seeking to agree new austerity measures after its Constitutional Court rejected as discriminatory cuts to civil servant salaries and pensions decided in response to demands by EU-IMF lenders.
In Cyprus, which saw a huge month-to-month rise in unemployment to 14.2 percent against 10.7 percent the previous month, the parliament was to debate the terms of a tough 10-billion-euro EU-IMF bailout.
The EU’s employment and social affairs commissioner Laszlo Andor warned that “EU institutions and governments, business and social partners at all levels need to do all they can to avoid a ‘lost generation’”
There is absolutely no reason for us to relive the Great Depression years and the complete political upheaval that resulted. I just do not get the obsession with debt. This is especially true because there is so little evidence for it and what evidence was provided was shown to be falsified, error-riddled, and just plain wrong by these kinds of numbers.
I wanted to end with a story that should be on every one’s radar but probably isn’t. Homelessness has been an increasing problem in this country for some time. So has the lack of treatment for the mentally ill. It’s been a Reagan pogrome that we can’t seem to rid ourselves of. Here’s the connection between the two.
Most homeless shelters in the US only take in people who are deemed mentally stable. Most don’t offer anything beyond basic shelter.
Housing programs that also provide psychological services are in the minority, homeless advocates told me. The harsh reality is that most homeless people living in the US who also suffer from serious illnesses like bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia and a host of other mental health disorders, are typically turned away from shelters on a nightly basis.
It’s a disturbing statistic when you discover, as I did, that more than 50 percent of the people living on the streets in the US are mentally ill. Of that number, I was told, less than half are receiving any mental health treatment.
For years, Candace Wood was one of them. I met with Wood in the dining room of Knoxville’s Volunteer Ministry Center (VMC).
For years the mission has dedicated itself to ending homelessness by providing not just housing, but the mental health services that ensures its residents don’t just get off the street, but also have the ability to stay off the street.
Wood told me that before she was connected with the VMC, she was, “wandering around aimlessly.”
“But, I was sick. I was sick because I didn’t take the medicine,” she said.
Wood said she is bi-polar. Since she was previously not on medication and was unable to manage her symptoms. She used to break into buildings to stay warm, hoping it would also get her arrested. Wood said that in jail she knew she’d get the meals and medication she needed.
Ginny Weatherstone is a passionate advocate for Knoxville’s homeless, she’s also the CEO of Volunteer Ministry Center. She says Wood’s story is a common one among the homeless who are also mentally ill.
“Three ‘hots’ and a cot. You get that in jail. For them, jail is their mental health hospital. Jail is their housing,” Weatherstone told me.
I’ve always felt that the Reagan and Bush years were all about punishing the poor, the ill, the elderly, the weak, the young, and the feeble. Statistics show that the wealthy have been doing fabulously since these three presidents reigned. It really is such a horrible statement on our countries’ priorities. How can so many folks be so rich and not give a damn about any one else.
The Rich Have Gained $5.6 Trillion in the ‘Recovery,’ While the Rest of Us Have Lost $669 Billion
It’s no accident.Oh, are we getting ripped off. And now we’ve got the data to prove it. From 2009 to 2011, the richest 8 million families (the top 7%) on average saw their wealth rise from $1.7 million to $2.5 million each. Meanwhile the rest of us – the bottom 93% (that’s 111 million families) — suffered on average a decline of $6,000 each.
Do the math and you’ll discover that the top 7% gained a whopping $5.6 trillion in net worth (assets minus liabilities) while the rest of lost $669 billion. Their wealth went up by 28% while ours went down by 4 percent.
It’s as if the entire economic recovery is going into the pockets of the rich. And that’s no accident.
A series of massive explosions illuminated the dark sky over Damascus early Sunday, igniting renewed claims that Israel has launched attacks into the war-torn country.
Syria’s government said the explosions were the second Israeli airstrike in three days. The latest target, officials said, was a military research facility outside the Syrian capital. A top Syrian official told CNN in an exclusive interview that the attack was a “declaration of war” by Israel.
Syrian authorities vowed to retaliate against Israel but did not specify what action they would take.
Following evidence of chemical warfare and an increasinly reticent US position, Israel has in recent days taken widely reported steps to neutralise threats emanating from within civil war-torn Syria.
While strikes from Lebanese airspace this weekend are not thought to have been on chemical weapons caches, the recent Israeli intelligence regarding the use of such weaponry is thought to have spurred on a round of strikes, including the latest just hours ago.
The Syrian state news agency SANA, citing initial reports, said early Sunday that Israeli missiles struck a military research center near the capital Damascus.
Syrian state television has reported that a major strike on an ammunition depot in Qassiyoun mountain shook Damascus, while Hezbollah’s Al-Manar station claimed the explosion may have been a downed Israeli jet.
Rumours are surfacing online that following the latest volley of attacks on the Syrian regime, President Bashar al-Assad will soon officially declare war on Israel, with speculators pointing to 5am local time for official confirmation. This information continues to persist despite the technical state of war that currently exists between the two states.
Many however, have been quick to dismiss these reports as strictly rumour, with various commentators claiming that such a move would be sure to end Assad’s reign of terror in Syria “within a week”.
The news of an Israeli intervention in Syria has caught the Obama administration on the back foot, with the US president refusing to comment at length about the strike. Obama said, “The Israelis, justifiably, have to guard against the transfer of advanced weaponry to terrorist organizations like Hezbollah.”
Israeli warplanes struck areas in and around the Syrian capital Sunday, setting off a series of explosions as they targeted a shipment of highly accurate, Iranian-made guided missiles believed to be bound for Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, officials and activists said.
The attack, the second in three days and the third this year, signaled a sharp escalation of Israel’s involvement in Syria’s bloody civil war. Syrian state media reported that Israeli missiles struck a military and scientific research center near Damascus and caused casualties.
Syria’s government called the attacks against against its territory a “flagrant violation of international law” that has made the Middle East “more dangerous” and warned it has the right “to defend its people by all available means.”
The generally muted response, read out by the information minister after an emergency government meeting, appeared to signal that Damascus did not want the situation to escalate.
Instead, it tried to use the strikes to taint the rebels, claiming the attacks were evidence of an alliance between Israel and Islamic extremist groups trying to overthrow President Bashar Assad.
The air raids pose a dilemma for a regime already battling a relentless rebellion at home. Failure to respond could make it look weak and open the door to more strikes. But any military retaliation against Israel would risk dragging the Jewish state and its powerful army into a broader conflict.
The tempo of the new strikes added a dangerous dynamic to the conflict, fueling concerns that events could spin out of control and spark a regional crisis.
Israel’s military on Sunday deployed two batteries of its Iron Dome rocket defense system to the north of the country. It described the move as part of “ongoing situational assessments.”
This is sure to bring a group of countries with touch-and-go-relationships into an unpleasant situation Isn’t it a bitch when your proxies just don’t act reasonably?
Evidence has emerged that the Assad Regime in Syria has crossed Obama’s red line and that Sarin Gas has been used. Is this a game changer?
The U.S. intelligence community has uncovered strong evidence that chemical weapons have been used in Syria. Several blood samples, taken from multiple people, have tested positive for the nerve agent sarin, an American intelligence source tells Danger Room. President Obama has long said that the use of such a weapon by the Assad regime would cross a “red line.” So now the question becomes: What will the White House do in response?
In March, the Assad regime was accused of using chemical weapons during an attack on the city of Aleppo. The blood samples were taken by Syrian opposition groups from alleged victims of that strike. But American analysts can’t be entirely sure where the blood came from or when the precisely exposure took place.
“This is more than one organization representing that they have more than one sample from more than one attack,” the source tells Danger Room. “But we can’t confirm anything because no is really sure what’s going on in country.”
What’s clear is that the samples are authentic, and that the weapons were almost certainly employed by the Assad regime, which began mixing up quantities of sarin’s chemical precursors months ago for an potential attack, as Danger Room first reported.
“It would be very, very difficult for the opposition to fake this. Not only would they need the wherewithal to steal it or brew it up themselves. Then they’d need volunteers who would notionally agree to a possibly lethal exposure,” the source adds.
SOD Chuck Hagel held a presser and the war of words between the administration and its critics has begun.
With intelligence showing that chemical weapons have probably been used in Syria, the pressure from the political right for decisive action by the president will only intensify.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who has long advocated a no-fly zone to stem the bloodshed in Syria that has left more than 70,000 dead, groused to reporters after being notified by the White House of the intelligence that sarin, a lethal nerve agent, has probably been deployed.
“Everything that the non-interventionists said that would happen in Syria if we intervened has happened,” McCain said. “The jihadists are on the ascendancy, there is chemical weapons being used, the massacres continue, the Russians continue to be assisting Bashar Assad, and the Iranians are all in. It requires the United States’ help and assistance.”
The shadow of the war in Iraq looms large for Obama. Without uttering the “I” word, the White House was quick on Thursday to recall the later-debunked intelligence that showed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction — the central underpinning of George W. Bush’s rationalization for going to war.
An Iraq-styled boots-on-ground intervention, of course, is not under serious consideration.
But Obama aides make clear that the intelligence community’s physiological evidence that indicates Syria’s use of chemical weapons is a bar too low to merit military action, such as implementing a no-fly zone.
“Given the stakes involved, and what we have learned from our own recent experience, intelligence assessments alone are not sufficient — only credible and corroborated facts that provide us with some degree of certainty will guide our decision-making, and strengthen our leadership of the international community,” Miguel Rodriguez, Obama’s liaison to Congress, wrote in a letter to lawmakers on Thursday.
The Obama administration is still pushing for a United Nations-led investigation into allegations and aides to the president on Thursday renewed the call for Assad to give the UN more direct access into Syria—something the Syrian president has thus far resisted.
Concerns about the way forward are also coming from Democrats. Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Thursday it was “clear that red lines have been crossed and action must be taken to prevent larger scale use.” But Feinstein also offered concerns about a doomsday scenario emerging as a result of the administration’s decision verifying its suspicion.
“I am very concerned that with this public acknowledgement, President Assad may calculate he has nothing more to lose and the likelihood he will further escalate this conflict therefore increases,” Feinstein said in a statement.
Pundits are also weighing in. This is from The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg.
If you recall, President Barack Obama drew a “red line” for you: no use of chemical weapons in your brutal attempt to put down the uprising against your regime. Any use of such weapons (even any “moving around” of such weapons) would “change my calculus,” Obama said, “change my equation.” In other words, welcome to the day in which the calculus might just be changing.
Hagel, speaking to reporters in Abu Dhabi, said that U.S. intelligence has come to believe — like the Israelis, the French and the British before them — that President Bashar al- Assad’s regime seems to have used sarin “on a small scale.”
I spoke with Representative Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who said that he thinks the Obama administration is hesitant to face the truth that the Assad regime has already used these sorts of weapons. “Clearly the administration doesn’t want to see this,” he said. “We have lost the confidence of the Arab League and the Syrian opposition because of our inaction.” Rogers said he was convinced at least a month ago that Syria had used a small quantity of chemical weapons against civilians.
Before we get to the meaning and potential consequences of this horrifying news, a brief primer on sarin, which was invented in Nazi-era Germany for use as a pesticide, and which was most famously used in the Tokyo subway attack by the Aum Shinrikyo cult in 1995 and against Kurdish Iraqis during Saddam Hussein’s genocide campaign.’
Descriptions of the chemical’s assault on the body follows the section that I highlighted from the Goldberg piece. Another point of view is expressed in the CSM here.
The US reluctance to join with three key allies – Britain, France, and now Israel – in concluding that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad has used chemical weapons in his country’s civil war confirms President Obama’s consistent wariness about US intervention in the two-year-old conflict.
Beyond that point, however, former officials and analysts are split over why Mr. Obama is so cautious about the issue – he even refused to answer a reporter’s question on the topic Tuesday – and what the apparently high bar the administration has set for evidence of chemical weapons use means.
“It’s a hard call as to whether the administration is trying to avoid something, or if they just don’t have the evidence,” says Wayne White, a former State Department official with experience in Middle East intelligence.
Obama has said repeatedly since last August that Syria’s use of chemical weapons is a US “red line” and would be a “game changer” for the US. But now some critics say the president’s caution suggests a moving or “fuzzy” red line.
For some, the president is simply being prudent, especially if the evidence presented so far is “inconclusive,” as a number of senior administration officials, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, have said. Obama, they add, wants to avoid a rush to judgment that turns out to be mistaken – and which could appear to the world like a repeat of the 2003 US decision to invade Iraq over weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday that the US is being “extremely deliberate” in investigating and evaluating the reports of chemical weapons use. And on Wednesday in Cairo, Secretary Hagel suggested the US would not be rushed to judgment by allies, saying, “Suspicions are one thing. Evidence is another.” He then added, “I think we have to be very careful here before we make any conclusions.”
But for others, the reason Obama is setting the bar high – in a situation where incontrovertible evidence could remain very difficult to come by – is because he has no desire to ratchet up US involvement in the Syrian conflict unless forced to.
The danger of this approach, critics say, is that it encourages an increasingly desperate President Assad to test the limits of US reluctance – perhaps even with limited, hard-to-prove use of some chemical weapons.
It seems like these hard choices keep popping up. There is total carnage in Syria on one hand. There is a war-weary US on the other. We’ve seen this president draw lines in the sand before. My best example is when Obama swore he would not extend the Bush tax cuts for those incomes about $250k. He signed the law that extended them above $450k. This history makes it difficult to say exactly what kind of hope the Syrians will have for regime change.
Many of you might be stuck in your homes today with all that weather so here are some things to keep you busy. First, Richard Engle’s Diary of his kidnapping in Syria has been published in Vanity Fair.
A group of about 15 armed men were fanning out around us. Three or four of them stood in the middle of the road blocking our vehicles. The others went for the doors. They wore black jackets, black boots, and black ski masks. They were professionals and used hand signals to communicate. A balled fist meant stop. A pointed finger meant advance. Each man carried an AK-47. Several of the gunmen began hitting the windows of our car and minivan with the stocks of their weapons. When they got the doors open, they leveled their guns at our chests.
Time was slowing down as if I’d been hit in the head. Time was slowing down as if I were drowning.
This can’t be happening. I know what this is. This can’t be happening. These are the shabiha. They’re fucking kidnapping us.
“Get out!” a gunman was yelling as he dragged Aziz from the car.
Then I saw the container truck. It wasn’t far away, parked off the road and hidden among olive trees. The metal doors at its rear stood open, flanked by gunmen.
That’s where they are going to put us. That’s here for us. We’re going into that truck.
I got out of the car. Two of the gunmen were already marching Aziz to the truck. He had his hands up, his shoulders back, his head tilted forward to protect against blows from behind.
Maybe I should run. Maybe I should run right now. But the road is flat and open. The only cover is by the trees near the truck. Maybe I should run. But where?
I saw John standing by the minivan. Gunmen were taking Ian toward the truck. It was his turn. Like me, John hadn’t been touched yet.
Maybe they’ve forgotten us? Maybe they don’t want us?
Our eyes made contact. John shrugged and opened his hands in disbelief. Time was going very slowly now, but my mind was racing like a panicked heart in a body that can’t move.
“Get going!” a gunman yelled at me in Arabic, pointing his weapon at my chest.
I looked at him blankly, pretending not to understand. Foreigners who speak Arabic in the Middle East are often assumed to be working for the C.I.A. or Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad. The gunman took me by the finger, holding on to it by the very tip. I could have pulled it away with the smallest tug.
But then what? Then go where?
John was the next to join us in the back of the truck. He walked slowly, as if being escorted to a waiting limo. John is a New Yorker and was dressed entirely in black. He has long white hair and a devilish smile, and his nickname is the Silver Fox. He and I had been in a lot of rough places—Libya, Iraq, Gaza. John, Ghazi, and Aziz were among my closest friends in the world.
At least I’ll die with my friends.
This will let you know how tough it is out here: “To Place Graduates, Law Schools Are Opening Firms”.
The plan is one of a dozen efforts across the country to address two acute — and seemingly contradictory — problems: heavily indebted law graduates with no clients and a vast number of Americans unable to afford a lawyer.
This paradox, fed by the growth of Internet-based legal research and services, is at the heart of a crisis looming over the legal profession after decades of relentless growth and accumulated wealth. It is evident in the sharp drop in law school applications and the increasing numbers of Americans showing up in court without a lawyer.
“It’s a perfect storm,” said Stacy Caplow, a professor at Brooklyn Law School who focuses on clinical education. “The longstanding concerns over access to justice for most Americans and a lack of skills among law graduates are now combined with the problems faced by all law schools. It’s creating conditions for change.”
Remember John Yoo. He was the lawyer/author of those Bush legal memos justifying torture. He thinks that Obama is “getting too much grief over targeted killing”.
And he wants Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)—who filibustered Obama’s nominee to head the CIA for 13 hours on Wednesday—to lay off.
“I admire libertarians but I think Rand Paul’s filibuster in many ways is very much what libertarians do, they make these very symbolic gestures, standing for some extreme position,” said Yoo, now a UC Berkeley law professor, who once suggested it was okay for the president to order a child’s testicles be crushed. Referring to Paul’s marathon filibuster, an attempt to force the Obama administration to clarify its views on the use of military force against terror suspects in the United States, Yoo said “It sort of reminds me of young kids when they first read The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged and they suddenly think that federal taxation equals slavery and they’re not going to pay any federal taxes anymore.” Yoo’s statements were made on a conference call Thursday held by the Federalist Society, an influential conservative legal organization.
Paul’s conservative colleagues also pushed back on him on Thursday: On the Senate floor, John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) mocked Paul’s objections as “ridiculous.”
Yoo said that he thought the administration’s problems stemmed from its belief that it needed to provide “due process” to terror suspects abroad—or even in the United States, referring to a recently leaked white paper outlining the Obama administration’s legal views on targeted killings of US citizen terror suspects.
So, here’s an interesting study. It seems that the “States With Most Gun Laws Have Fewest Gun Deaths”.
“It seems pretty clear: If you want to know which of the states have the lowest gun-mortality rates just look for those with the greatest number of gun laws,” said Dr. Eric W. Fleegler of Boston Children’s Hospital who, with colleagues, analyzed firearm-related deaths reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from 2007 through 2010.
By scoring individual states simply by the sheer volume of gun laws they have on the books, the researchers noted that in states with the highest number of firearms measures, their rate of gun deaths is collectively 42 percent lower when compared to states that have passed the fewest number of gun rules. The study was published online in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.
As proof, Fleegler pointed to the firearm-fatality rates in law-laden states such as Massachusetts (where there were 3.4 gun deaths per 100,000 individuals), New Jersey (4.9 per 100,000) and Connecticut (5.1 per 100,000). In states with sparser firearms laws, researchers reported that gun-mortality rates were higher: Louisiana (18.0 per 100,000), Alaska (17.5 per 100,000) and Arizona (13.6 per 100,000).
Speaking of working to end violence, today is Intentional Women’s Day. This year’s theme is “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women” Here’s some headlines for that celebration. First off, here’s French economist and head of the IMF Christine Leguarde. You can watch her speak at this IMF Link.
Here’s some suggested readings for you.
From the UK Guardian: “International Women’s Day: school is ‘the new front line of feminism’“
Surveys and anecdotal evidence may suggest that few young women identify with the word feminism, fearing it sits at odds with a desire to wear makeup or heels. Yet there are increasing signs of an interest in gender equality issues among these same young women, who are now turning to social media such as blogs, Twitter and Facebook to reach out to fellow activists or just to share experiences and seek advice about what can be done.
Laura Bates, the founder of the #everydaysexism campaign, says that 10% of its more than 20,000 entries detailing harassment come from under-16s, with many more from colleges.
Campaign group UK Feminista has been so inundated with requests to speak to schools around the country that it has now launched a two-year programme of workshops and campaigns aimed at secondary pupils. Called Generation F: Young Feminists in Action, it comes as the government considers a cross-party bid to make sex and relationship education compulsory in schools.
Australian women make up just over half of the total Australian population.
In some areas, equality has been achieved, but in others there is clearly a long way to go.
The boards of both private and public organisations are still dominated by men.
For instance, only about 10 per cent of the executives of companies listed in the Australian Stock Exchange Market are female.
And according to federal government figures, average weekly earnings for women are $250 less than men.
United Nations Women director for Australia, Julie McKay, thinks a combination of socio-economic factors contribute to this situation.
“I think there’s a huge issue about unconscious bias, that we sometimes don’t even realise that we have, about the roles that women should play and the sort of characteristics that make different people leaders. But I think we also got other issues around accessibility and affordability of child care, which prevent many women being able to access work and particularly full time work.”
Many migrant and refugee women in Australia can be prevented from working in the field in which they’re experienced, due to lack of English skills or problems with qualification recognition.
But Chin Wong, from the Australian Migrant and Refugee Women’s Alliance, says that doesn’t mean they don’t get into the workforce.
She argues that female newcomers can be preferred by employers because they are more likely to ignore their rights, and tend to argue less than men about working conditions.
“Sometimes the women can find jobs easier than men and therefore a lot of times the man become the homemaker, and the woman has to go to work. But that doesn’t mean that when they come home they don’t still have to make sure that the houses are maintained, because that’s culture. Some of the cultures mean that the women have to do most of the work.”
Here’s two suggested reads on racism in America by Ed Kilgore with a link to Ta-Nehisi’s Coates’ guest column in the New York Time.
If you are a white person who has on occasion felt aggrieved at the persistence of allegations of white racism in America, do yourself and your conscience a favor and read Ta-Nehisi’s Coates’ guest column today in the New York Times.
His point of departure is the humiliating frisking of the very famous and distinguished actor Forest Whitaker by an employee of a deli in Coates’ own Manhattan neighborhood. But he uses this incident to make the very important point that if we disclaim the possibility of racist behavior on the part of “good” or “moral” people, we may well wind up excusing racism almost altogether.
The idea that racism lives in the heart of particularly evil individuals, as opposed to the heart of a democratic society, is reinforcing to anyone who might, from time to time, find their tongue sprinting ahead of their discretion. We can forgive Whitaker’s assailant. Much harder to forgive is all that makes Whitaker stand out in the first place. New York is a city, like most in America, that bears the scars of redlining, blockbusting and urban renewal. The ghost of those policies haunts us in a wealth gap between blacks and whites that has actually gotten worse over the past 20 years.
But much worse, it haunts black people with a kind of invisible violence that is given tell only when the victim happens to be an Oscar winner. The promise of America is that those who play by the rules, who observe the norms of the “middle class,” will be treated as such. But this injunction is only half-enforced when it comes to black people, in large part because we were never meant to be part of the American story. Forest Whitaker fits that bill, and he was addressed as such.
I am trying to imagine a white president forced to show his papers at a national news conference, and coming up blank. I am trying to a imagine a prominent white Harvard professor arrested for breaking into his own home, and coming up with nothing. I am trying to see Sean Penn or Nicolas Cage being frisked at an upscale deli, and I find myself laughing in the dark. It is worth considering the messaging here. It says to black kids: “Don’t leave home. They don’t want you around.” It is messaging propagated by moral people.
The thing is, this has always been more or less true. My extended family (thought not, mercifully, my nuclear family) when I was growing up in the Jim Crow South was loaded with racists. None of them were members of the Ku Klux Klan, perpetrators of violence, or “bad people” by any general measure. Most of them were very regular church-goers. One of the sweetest people I ever knew was a great aunt who after MLK’s assassination allowed as how she wished she could take in the assassin and feed him and protect him for his great act in defending Christian civilization. That wouldn’t have been surprising to Dr. King himself, whose classic Letter From a Birmingham Jail was addressed to the good Christian clergy of that city who by their silence and calls for an unjust “peace” were defending segregation more effectively than the hooded riffraff of the Klan.
So, there are my suggestions today. Please be careful if the weather around you is “lionly”. What’s on your reading and blogging list?
Tonight’s reads will focus on other news events around the world.
Time for the Northeast to get hit again, this time the storm has been named “Athena” by The Weather Channel.
authorities warned weary residents not to ignore this storm’s dangers.
“You have to prepare for the storm that’s coming in a few hours,” New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told residents. “I’m waiting for the locusts and pestilence next,” he joked, in a reference to Old Testament plagues.
The low-pressure weather system brought wind gusts up to 60 miles per hour and could drop 2 inches to 4 inches of snow on New York City, the National Weather Service said.
Ice pellets hit Long Island and the storm lifted wave heights to nearly 20 feet off Nantucket, Massachusetts, AccuWeather reported.
School districts in Connecticut sent students home early as a precaution and the New York Stock Exchange removed the giant U.S. flag from its facade to protect it from high winds.
A mix of rain and snow fell on parts of New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, causing airport delays.
Airlines canceled more than 1,700 flights, with Newark airport facing the most cancellations, according to tracking service FlightAware.com.
Many folks are still without power, and this new storm in hitting them hard.
“It’s coming up on 10 days with people being freezing in their homes,” said Peter DiPaola, town supervisor of Pelham, north of New York City.
“I lost all my winter clothing in the flood, so I am wearing three layers of things in order to stay somewhat warm and dry,” said Wayne Steinman, a resident of Staten Island, one of the parts of New York City hardest hit by Sandy. “Everything becomes overwhelming.”
Utilities warned that the storm would slow their efforts to restore power to homes and businesses.
“Up until today we have been making some good restoration progress. We’ve had some good restoration weather, but today is certainly an exception,” said John Miksad, senior vice president of electric operations at New York-area utility Consolidated Edison Inc. “We actually pulled back as a result of the weather today but we will be back out there first thing tomorrow morning.”
There was also a large earthquake today, Strong quake off Guatemala kills 39, felt in Mexico City
A strong earthquake off the coast of Guatemala shook buildings in the capital and killed at least 39 people on Wednesday, trapping others under rubble and triggering evacuations as far away as Mexico City.
The 7.4 magnitude quake hit at 10:35 a.m. local time (11:35 EDT). A local fire chief said at least some of the dead were buried under debris in a mountainous region near the Mexican border.
Landslides blocked roads in some areas, authorities said, and about 40 houses were severely damaged.
It was the strongest earthquake to hit Guatemala since a 7.5 magnitude quake in 1976 that claimed more than 20,000 lives.
President Otto Perez said that as many as 100 people were unaccounted for, based on reports from relatives.
“These are preliminary figures and we don’t have them confirmed,” Perez said in Guatemala City. “Our priority is to focus on lives, rescuing people and treating the wounded.”
Okay, now for the man-made disasters: Greece narrowly passes crucial austerity bill
Greece’s Parliament passed a crucial austerity bill early Thursday in vote so close that it left the coalition government reeling from dissent.
The bill, which will further slash pensions and salaries, passed 153-128 in the 300-member Parliament. It came hours after rioters rampaged outside Parliament during an 80,000-strong anti-austerity demonstration, clashing with police who responded with tear gas, stun grenades and water cannons.
Approval of the cuts and tax increases worth €13.5 billion ($17 billion) over two years was a big step for Greek efforts to secure the next installment of its international rescue loans and stave off imminent bankruptcy.
The country’s international creditors have demanded that the bill and the 2013 budget, due to be voted on Sunday, pass before they consider releasing an already delayed €31.5 billion installment from Greece’s €240 billion bailout. Without it, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras says Greece will run out of money on Nov. 16.
“Greece made a big decisive and optimistic step today. A step toward recovery,” Samaras said, adding that he was “very happy” with the result.
A petrol bomb thrown by protesters explodes near riot police in front of parliament during clashes in Athens, Wednesday Nov. 7, 2012. Photograph: Dimitri Messinis/AP
David Cameron says he is determined to give Syria a brighter future as he met refugees of the conflict at a camp on the Syrian-Jordanian border.
Britain is to begin talks with armed Syrian rebels in a bid to unite the opposition to President Bashar al-Assad, the UK prime minister said.
The discussions are due to take place in Jordan and Turkey.
Visiting the refugee camp on Wednesday, Mr Cameron said the suffering of refugees was “horrendous”.
Up to 500 people a day have been arriving at the Za’atri camp, Mr Cameron was told, some having walked 15 days in order to try and find shelter.
I want to end this post with a video, I don’t know if it is “real” or not, but it sure is funny…and I think we all need a laugh.
It starts at 1:09, and it involves a bank robbery…
Now that isn’t just luck, that is plain dumb.
This is an open thread!