Just a warning before you read any further, this post is going to start of with a smidgen of whine and a half-hearted rant about…stuff.
It has been such a struggle lately….have you been feeling it? Maybe it is just something I am going through alone these days.
It has become a struggle to run my eyes over the headlines on Memeorandum.com or read the items in my RSS feed reader. Maybe it is feeling so much frustration…seeing Romney’s name plastered all over the place? Maybe it is the touch of coolness in the air…the leaves turning from green to gold, signaling a new season. My favorite season. Fall.
Last night before I started to write this morning’s post, I found myself finding little superficies to waste time. Yeah, just doing stupid things that would give me a reason to procrastinate a bit longer. Just the thought of clicking the laptop on, and scouring the news sites made me want to forget about the blog…and avoid writing this post.
I was thrilled to see Boston Boomer posting a thread late yesterday, it meant I could even avoid doing a quick evening reads. And believe me, I have saved up some good cartoons to share with you all…but my enthusiasm was lacking for even that kind of post.
We all experience that feeling of being fed up, yes? Different things affect us, and make us scream inside ourselves…and bring about a desire to run into the hills pulling our hair out. Cleaning the bathroom sink becomes more appealing than listening to one more politician drone on about shit we know is ridiculous and flat-out wrong.
Anyway, that is it…there was my whine and feeble complaint about the Political Affective Disorder that has hit me…big time.
So, it should come to no surprise that the news links for this morning reads will be in Link Dump fashion.
Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton watch as Chris Stevens’ remains are returned to the US at a military base in Maryland. Photograph: Molly Riley/Getty Images
Senior Republicans in Congress have written to Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, claiming to have evidence of a previously undisclosed attack on the US consulate in Benghazi and threats to American ambassador in Libya in the months before he was killed.
Darrell Issa, chairman of the House oversight and government reform committee, and Jason Chaffetz, chairman of a subcommittee on national security, are demanding Clinton hand over information about previous attacks and threats as Republicans step up pressure on the White House with accusations of incompetence and a cover-up over the assault that killed the US ambassador, Chris Stevens, and three other American officials last month.
The letter says that US diplomats in Libya made repeated requests for increased security at the Benghazi consulate but were rejected by officials in Washington. The congressmen have called a hearing for October 10 and want Clinton to reveal what the state department knew about earlier incidents and how it responded to the growing security threat.
I do like that photo from this Guardian story. It shows compassion and genuine feeling of sympathy. Geez, what are we going to do without Hillary? I mean, it doesn’t matter who wins…Romney or Obama, she is gone next year. Sigh..
he former Penn State graduate assistant who complained he saw former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky showering with a young boy on campus and testified at his sex abuse trial sued the university on Tuesday for what he calls defamation and misrepresentation.
Mike McQueary’s whistle-blower lawsuit claims his treatment by the university since Sandusky was arrested in November has caused him distress, anxiety, humiliation and embarrassment. The complaint, filed in county court near State College, where the university is based, seeks millions of dollars in damages.
Hey, McQueary got that promotion to assistant coach when he neglected to go to the “real” police after it was obvious that telling Paterno about the sexual assault he witnessed in the shower…did absolutely nothing…as far as Sandusky is concerned.
Yesterday there was a shooting on the border. Here is the latest: Border Patrol shooting: No suspects yet I don’t know, the timing of this thing is a bit too convenient for me. With the election a month away, I guess perhaps my spider senses are somewhat over sensitive.
And over in Georgia..the results are in. Georgia election: US and Russia hail parliamentary vote President Mikheil Saakashvili is out and the Dream Party is slated to take over. Let’s see what comes of this change…I guess it would give Romney a reason to start talking about how the Soviet Union will respond to new President, Bidzina Ivanishvili.
Mentally ill patients suffer from severe abuse at psychiatric hospitals and so-called healing centers in Ghana, with many chained to trees and even denied water, a human rights group said Tuesday.
Some 1,000 residents live in squalid, overcrowded quarters in Ghana’s three psychiatric hospitals, according to Human Rights Watch. Patients face physical and verbal abuse, and some are given electroshock therapy without their consent, said the group’s report.
The abuse is even worse in healing centers known as “prayer camps,” which lack government oversight, it said.
Thousands of mentally disabled people in the West African nation are sent to the camps, usually by their family members to be “cured” by self-proclaimed prophets through miracles, prayer and fasting. In most prayer camps, residents are only allowed to leave when the prophet deems them healed.
Fucking “organized” religion…used as an outlet for cruelty. Like we haven’t seen this shit before.
You may remember it? The one with the Justices up in a tree, and an elephant revving up a chain saw?
The campaign against the justices by Republican state party officials, a conservative group founded by the Koch brothers and a grass-roots group is similar to the successful push by conservative activists in Iowa during the 2010 election. Voters there defeated three Iowa Supreme Court justices over a ruling that allowed same-sex marriage in the state. A fourth Iowa justice who also ruled in the case is being targeted for ouster this year.
In Florida, the issue is not same-sex marriage but another politically divisive matter: President Obama’s health care law. In a 2010 ruling, the Florida Supreme Court removed from the ballot a nonbinding amendment allowing Floridians to refuse to buy mandatory health insurance. The justices ruled that the required ballot summary contained “misleading and ambiguous language” and asked the Legislature to fix it. Lawmakers did, and it is back on the ballot this year.
Spain’s 17 regional governments agreed on Tuesday to stick to budget deficit targets set by the central government, giving Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy some breathing space as he faces pressure from investors and his European partners to clean up Spain’s banks and public finances.
After a meeting in Madrid with leaders of the regional governments, Mr. Rajoy said, “Spain was giving a good message.” He added that he was “very grateful to everybody” for backing his government’s budget plans and avoiding a full-blown confrontation between the central and regional governments.
And these last two links are for all of us who are dealing with a cold from hell…it seems to be traveling through many of the front pagers on Sky Dancing, as well as some of our readers. (Beata, PD and HT…hope y’all are feeling better.)
Thousands of people, the largest celebration of union force since the strike began nearly a week ago, shook homemade protest signs in the air and wore the signature red T-shirts of the Chicago Teachers Union as they descended on Union Park, just west of downtown. The city skyline rose behind a stage from which a lineup of politicians, teachers, students and activists spoke about union strength and the need for better school conditions in the city.
Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis becomes emotional Saturday as she greets supporters at a rally at Union Park. (Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune / September 15, 2012)
Thousands of teachers from Chicago and beyond rallied at a Near West Side park Saturday as lawyers labored into the night at a Loop office to turn a framework for a new contract into finer points that can become a deal.
Parents can expect to wait until Sunday afternoon or later to find out whether their children will return to class Monday morning after missing a week of school because of the Chicago Teachers Union strike. Hundreds of union leaders are supposed to meet Sunday for a potential vote that could end the walkout.
While attorneys talked terms in private, the Saturday afternoon rally was filled with very public symbolism. Out-of-state teachers traveled to Union Park in solidarity with a city teachers union that has attracted national attention as organized labor looks for lessons in a fight with cash-strapped government.
After last night’s vigil, we went to eat at one of the local chicken joints…and Fox news was blazing away on the big screens. By the looks of all those “Fox News alerts” something big was going on. Via HuffPo US orders some diplomats out of Sudan, Tunisia
The State Department on Saturday ordered the departure of all family members and non-essential U.S. government personnel from its embassies in Sudan and Tunisia and warned U.S. citizens against any travel to the two countries due to security concerns over rising anti-American violence.
“Given the security situation in Tunis and Khartoum, the State Department has ordered the departure of all family members and non-emergency personnel from both posts, and issued parallel travel warnings to American citizens,” said department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland.
In Tunisia, the warning advised Americans that the international airport in Tunis is open and encouraged all U.S. citizens to depart on commercial flights. It said Americans who chose to remain in Tunisia should use extreme caution and avoid demonstrations. On Friday, protesters climbed the walls into the U.S. Embassy in Tunis, torching cars in the parking lot, trashing the entrance building and setting fire to a gym and a neighboring American school that is now unusable.
In Sudan, the warning said that while the Sudanese government has taken steps to limit the activities of terrorist groups, some remain and have threatened to attack Western interests. The terrorist threat level remains “critical” throughout Sudan, the department said. It noted that U.S. officials are already required to travel in armored vehicles and to get permission to travel outside Khartoum, where crowds torched part of the German Embassy and tried to storm the U.S. Embassy on Friday.
They are reporting some holdup in deploying the Marines because of the Sudan Government.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton worked the phones on Saturday, calling top officials from seven countries to discuss the situation following a wave of protest and violence over an anti-Muslim film that has swept across the Middle East and elsewhere in recent days. An obscure, amateurish movie called “Innocence of Muslims” that depicts Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a pedophile sparked the outrage.
I will post some updates in the comments below, it seems things are not cooling off any time soon.
The rest of today’s links will be on the human interest side. Mars has been in the news a lot this week, check it out, from Geekosystem:
While Curiosity has been getting a lot of well-deserved attention lately, it’s worth remembering that everyone’s favorite rover isn’t the only one doing cool stuff with Mars. When it’s not getting some glamour shots of its ground-based cousin, the Mars Reconaissance Orbiter (MRO) is still finding out all sorts of neat things about our nearest sibling in the solar system, like confirming the suspicion that Mars has instances in which it snows dry ice — carbon dioxide that has frozen at temperatures below -193 degrees Fahrenheit.
The super-cold snowfall takes place at the Martian poles, where solid dry ice has been known to exist for some time. It has never been observed as falling snow, though, so its origins, though suspected, remained uncertain. Not anymore, though. Analysis of clouds of CO2 imaged by the MRO in the Martian winter of 2006-2007 demonstrates that in addition to familiar, hydrogen dioxide snow, which was seen on the planet in 2008 by the Phoenix lander, the red planet gets snowstorms of frozen carbon dioxide.
Also, from Mars, this time from the Opportunity Rover:
The above picture may not look like much, but it could be a huge deal. The photograph, taken by the Opportunity Rover at Mars’ Cape York site, shows iron spherules that researchers commonly refer to as “blueberries.” Similar formations are found here on Earth. The catch is that, here, they are formed with help from microbial organisms, suggesting that these unassuming iron marbles could be a telltale sign of ancient life on the red planet.
Typically just a couple millimeters across, iron blueberries are a pretty standard part of the Martian landscape, found on the ground of the Cape York site where Opportunity is doing its research or embedded in rock. They bear a distinct resemblance to the “Moqui marbles” found around the American southwest. Ranging in size rom BB pellets to cannonballs, Moqui marbles are not unlike geological M&Ms, consisting of a thin iron shell filled will sand.
A study published earlier this month in the journal Geology found strong evidence that the marbles are not a purely geological oddity, but were formed with an assist from microbes. That finding is a strong suggestion that the Moqui marbles’ Martian cousins may be a good candidate for indicators that Mars once sustained microbial life.
Ashrafian said Tut’s supposed feminine features — the king has been depicted in statues and renderings as having had breasts and wide hips — are signs that he had a form of epilepsy that affects the temporal lobe, which is known to be involved with hormone release. The disease might be to blame for Tut’s death in addition to the deaths of several of his predecessors who died at young ages, Ashrafian claims.
Ashrafian also points to King Tut’s broken thigh bone, which he argues may have come from a fall during a seizure. The religious hallucinations Tut and his predecessors reportedly experienced were further evidence of the disease, Ashrafian told the Post, citing that seizures starting in the temporal lobe can result in such visions after sunlight exposure. The doctor reportedly came to these conclusions after reviewing family history of the king.
DNA studies have show that Tut suffered from malaria and a bone disorder that comes from inbreeding. (I could make a comment out Banjoville, but I won’t.)
Since the chests of both Tut and his father were missing, the researchers couldn’t definitively say whether or not Tut and his father had feminine features, which could suggest the presence of a genetic disorder.
However, the scientists noted that the mummies didn’t have signs of gynecomastia or Marfan syndrome, conditions that would result in the development of breasts in males. Some researchers theorized that representations of Tut and his father with breasts could reflect the belief that gods were androgynous.
Yes, it is a link to Steve Martin’s performance on SNL back in the seventies….
On to another cool dude, this time he is not wearing “jammies” he is sporting a bow tie, I am talking of course about Dr. Who…this American Prospect article by Amanda Marcotte discusses women on the new Dr. Who series: Bowties Are Cool, but So Are Kickass Female Characters
(AP Photo/ Donald Traill)
Actors Matt Smith and Karen Gillian are seen on location filming “Doctor Who” in New York on Wednesday, April 11, 2012.
For fans of the BBC’s reboot of the long-running sci-fi series Doctor Who, the beginning of season seven this September has a lot on offer so far: The Doctor in full badass hero form, a new potential sexy genius Companion, dinosaurs on spaceships, and Daleks, the villains that have been fan favorites since nearly the beginning of the series.
I wasn’t so crazy about the last remake, that doctor was too good looking and not “geeky” enough. I guess that is why I like the BBC’s latest version. But as Marcotte points out, the role of women on the show is stereotypical female. The show is getting pushed into a new direction from Steven Moffat who took over the show this season.
has doubled down on tinkering with the show to make it more appealing to mainstream audiences. To do so, he decided to turn down the volume on sci-fi cheese and inject more story lines about love, family, and romance. While this idea appeals in the abstract to many feminists who want the world of sci-fi and fantasy to stop being so decidedly dudely, many feminists have strong objections to how Moffat went about it. His strategy was to take the Doctor’s new companion, a character role on the show that is traditionally all about wide-eyed curiosity and boundless courage, and turn her story line into one about getting married and having babies.
Ever since Amy Pond first set foot onscreen, feminist fans have complained that Moffat created a fun character, gave the role to off-the-charts charming actress Karen Gillan, and then turned her into a passive object whose main job is to be married off to her simpering boyfriend Rory Williams. To make it worse, the relationship fits neatly into what feminists have deemed the “nice guy” narrative: That if a man hangs in long enough and shows enough devotion, a woman is pretty much obliged to be with him, even if her heart isn’t in it. Last year, Sady Doyle wrote the definitive piece detailing feminist objections to any and all stories about the Pond marriage:
The moment the Doctor found out about Rory, the importance of time-traveling adventures decreased radically. Instead, the Doctor became a matchmaker and alien fairy godmother, single-mindedly devoted to making sure that Amy overcame her ambivalence about Rory and married him straight away. He referred to this process as “getting [Amy] sorted out.” From henceforth, both the Doctor and the show have been cramming every bony, whiny inch of Rory down our throats, in a doomed attempt to convince us that he is awesome.
Read the rest if you are a Dr. fan…or not. There needs to be some more kickass roles out there for women, obviously…no question about that, but I think you may find Marcotte’s take on the new female character interesting.
he jungles of Guam have up to 40 times more spiders than do the forested areas of nearby Pacific islands thanks in part to the brown tree snake, according to a study published this week in the journal PLoS One.
The bird-devouring snake from northern Australia and nearby islands was introduced to Guam in the 1940s. The ravenous reptile became the dominant predator; bird numbers plummeted. By the 1980s, 10 of 12 native bird species had been wiped out, and the last two survive only in small areas, protected by intense snake-trapping.
Small-scale experiments show that areas without birds have more spiders – which makes sense, because birds eat spiders and the insects upon which spiders feed. But the sheer numbers of spiders found in Guam’s jungles were much greater than predicted by these small studies, suggesting the removal of birds from an entire forest can have unforeseen — and creepy — effects.
You can guess what those are, yes?
Study author Haldre Rogers, a researcher at Rice University in Houston, counted spiders throughout Guam’s jungles by counting spider webs (which correlate with spider population and are commonly used as a stand-in measurement).
The difference between the number of spiders Rogers and her colleagues counted on Guam and three nearby islands that still have birds “was far more dramatic than what any small-scale experiments had previously found,” she said in a statement from Rice.
“Anytime you have a reduction in insectivorous birds, the system will probably respond with an increase in spiders,” Rogers said. And she thinks this may be true elsewhere. “With insectivorous birds in decline in many places in the world, I suspect there has been a concurrent increase in spiders.”
That creeps me out, but it does lead me to the title of today’s post.
So y’all have a wonderful day, and please share what you are reading and thinking about this morning.
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It’s hard not to think we’re on the verge of civil war after watching the level of political nastiness around us these days. The level of incivility and meanness just has me at a complete loss for words at times. I am really glad there are no Republican primary debates scheduled for awhile. I really can’t take the language of religious jihad any more. I’m going to start out with some sane people for a change. I’ve been dealing with religious nuts since the 1980s and it’s making me depressed frankly. At least every one else knows about them now.
Maryland would join the District and seven states in allowing same-sex marriages. Supporters have cast the bill as a major advance in equal rights. Opponents have called it a misguided attempt to redefine the institution of marriage.
Despite one of the largest Democratic majorities in any state legislature, backers of gay marriage in Maryland had to overcome fierce opposition from blocks of African American lawmakers and those with strong Catholic and evangelical views to cobble together coalitions big enough to pass both chambers.
Here’s some really interesting academic research from folks at UMass-Boston that shows that the increase in household debt isn’t because of undisciplined spending. This comes from a guest post by JW Mason at Rortybomb and it’s very interesting. Nice to see some one did the math and didn’t rely on tired Puritan stereotypes. The reason is that key interest rates have been high, stayed high, gone higher. Also, flow of funds to households via savings and income increases have decreased while prices have not decreased. Some prices on key household expenditures have increased. So, the leverage increase has come more from the nature of already present debt.
First, as a historical matter, you cannot understand the changes in private sector leverage over the 20th century without explicitly accounting for debt dynamics. The tendency to treat changes in debt ratios as necessarily the result in changes in borrowing behavior obscures the most important factors in the evolution of leverage. Second, going forward, it seems unlikely that households can sustain large enough primary deficits to reduce or even stabilize leverage. Even the very large surpluses of 2006-2011 would not have brought down leverage at all in the absence of the upsurge in defaults; and in the absence of large federal deficits and an improving trade balance the outcome would have been even worse since reductions in household expenditure would have reduced aggregate income. As a practical matter, it seems clear that, just as the rise in leverage was not the result of more borrowing, any reduction in leverage will not come about through less borrowing. To substantially reduce household debt will require some combination of financial repression to hold interest rates below growth rates for an extended period, and larger-scale and more systematic debt write-downs.
Keeping in view the 51 per cent of the total population, it is a smart economics to ensure gender equality as a guarantee towards economic self reliance. By neglecting majority of the segment from the economic mainstream cannot produce better economic outcomes in this generation and the future. Social scientists are unanimous that implementation of gender equality has the potential and dynamics to double the GDP from four to eight per cent that is no less achievement in the current global scenario. For that matter, all you have to do is change the centuries old social misperceptions ingrained in the society. It is an undeniable fact that women in Pakistan remain at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder.
Femininity is measured to be the essential concern in the process of socio-economic infrastructure development. Therefore, investment in women’s empowerment in Pakistan is the key factor in improving the economic, political and social conditions in Pakistan. Hence, decision making processes for women empowerment; valuation planning and policy formulation should emphasis on main streaming gender equality around Pakistan.
Women empowerment is not limited to control over imitation or financial freedom only, rather it is a grouping of literacy, employment and health. Women empowerment is an important and functional concept in the development of a community as it represents women as active agents rather than inactive recipients of development policies …
Yup. It’s something they’ve noticed in all microfinance development strategies. Giving women ways to earn a decent living for their families and all kinds of things improve. But, it seems everywhere, there’s a back lash from hyperpatriarchal men. Women across the MENA regions–including Tunisia and Egypt–are taking stock of their rights. A series of protests and conferences are being held to ensure that the Arab Spring does not result in losses in human rights or women’s rights.
Perhaps one of the most important questions for women in the Arab Spring region is: Has women’s involvement in bringing change to Tunisia and Egypt been undervalued?
“… it was extremely unrealistic to imagine that the first sparks of a popular revolution would bring about overnight a radical transfor- mation in cultural attitudes towards women’s rights,” Elsadda continued. In January 2012 Elsadda was recently placed on the shortlist for her outstanding depth of writing by the Arabic Booker Prize. Her efforts to portray the real life and tone of Egypt have been outstanding.
“…What came as a surprise and a real shock, however, was the marked hostility and violence unleashed against women protesters who were harassed and shouted at by groups of men who encircled them,” Elsadda outlined in her book. “Egyptian women took to the streets to celebrate International Women’s Day [last year], in response to a call that was sent out on Facebook for a million women’s march.”.
Conditions for women in Tunisia have shown promise. “After 1956, we were given almost all the rights French women had,” said Staieb-Koepp during the Global Fund for Women event. “You can have an abortion, you can divorce… [even though] there has never been a very strong movement to get these rights,” she continued.
But Sraieb-Koepp also went on to convey that she worries that if Tunisian women are not especially aware, their rights could be taken away. According to Sraieb-Koepp Islamic fundamentalists in Tunisia are now arguing one of the best ways to cope with unemployment is to “keep women at home.”
While Tunisia and Egypt have different histories, Sraieb-Koepp sees the fate of women in both countries to be very similar, “…it is basically the same experience as [in] Egypt. Women took over the civil society activism and men were drawn to politics,” she added.
Buried in the Pew report was a little chart showing the relationship between one’s political party affiliation, one’s acceptance that humans are causing global warming, and one’s level of education. And here’s the mind-blowing surprise: For Republicans, having a college degree didn’t appear to make one any more open to what scientists have to say. On the contrary, better-educated Republicans were more skepticalof modern climate science than their less educated brethren. Only 19 percent of college-educated Republicans agreed that the planet is warming due to human actions, versus 31 percent of non-college-educated Republicans.
For Democrats and Independents, the opposite was the case. More education correlated with being more accepting of climate science—among Democrats, dramatically so. The difference in acceptance between more and less educated Democrats was 23 percentage points.
This was my first encounter with what I now like to call the “smart idiots” effect: The fact that politically sophisticated or knowledgeable people are often more biased, and less persuadable, than the ignorant. It’s a reality that generates endless frustration for many scientists—and indeed, for many well-educated, reasonable people.
On his Tuesday night show, Dobbs trashed the upcoming kids movies The Lorax and The Secret World Of Arrietty, accusing them of being liberal indoctrination that echoes the messages of Occupy Wall Street and President Obama. Dobbs didn’t appear to care that The Lorax is based on a book from 1971 and Arrietty is based on one from 1952 (and also, y’know, a Japanese film). Either that or the Occupy movement is much older than I thought.
Dobbs played clips from the movies and then drew the parallels.
“So, where have we all heard this before? Occupy Wall Street forever trying to pit the makers against the takers and President Obama repeating that everyone should pay their fair share in dozens of speeches since his State of the Union address last month.”
Guess there’s an occupy your local nursery and I missed the invite. Yes, the Loras is yet another Kenyan born Muslim that wants to inflict Socialism on your children.
So, how do these people manage to drive and walk in a world with so many imaginary friends and enemies wandering around? Is it something you have to have a special talent for like seeing dead people?
Anyway, that’s it for me on this Friday morning. Let’s hear what’s on your reading and blogging list today!
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Many cultures in the MENA region are well-known for their horrible treatment of women. We see practices like honor killings, genital mutilation, and taking child brides. One of the offshoots of the Arab Spring has been the central role of women looking for broader participation in their countries.
Just as we in the United States are experiencing a political/fundamentalist Christian backlash that has turned into a war on the rights of women, the protests movements associated with the Jasmine Revolutions and their related political change have brought out a wave of political/fundamentalist Muslim backlash. There are several signs of hope in a region experiencing lots of social unrest. First, we’ve become aware of a large number of feminist leaders. Second, we’ve seen that many women are putting their lives on the line to ensure that the social change includes improving the lives and status of women. While oppression of women is frequently attached to fundamentalist religious followers, the roles of traditional tribal cultures and their dominance in places that are underdeveloped and rural–like Alabama or Uganda–cannot be underestimated. Here’s some stories that have made headlines recently that show the global struggle for women’s rights–like the US struggle for women’s rights–is still an uphill battle.
In response, thousands of women — and men — marched Tuesday in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Observers say it was the largest demonstration of women in Egypt in decades. Not since 1919, when women mobilized under the leadership of feminist Hoda Sha’rawi in anti-colonial demonstrations against the British have so many Egyptian women taken to the streets. (After representing Egyptian women at the International Women Suffrage Alliance in Rome in 1923, Sha’rawi returned to Cairo and very publicly removed her veil.)
Women have played an important role in Egypt’s modern revolution but have struggled to translate their activism into a political role in the new, emerging system. They have been excluded from important decision-making bodies, and the military leadership declined to continue a Mubarak-era quota for women that ensured them at least 64 seats in parliament. Based on early election results, it appears that few women will win a place in the new government.
Nevertheless, one intrepid woman, Bothaina Kamel, is breaking ground with her candidacy for president. The campaign of Kamel, a well-known television presenter, at first was shocking,and certainly quixotic, with polls indicating her support is less than 1%. But her persistence has gained her credibility. While she has little chance of winning, she is helping to normalize the idea of women in politics — an idea that is deeply contested in Egyptian society. Leaders of Salafi parties, which gained a surprising 20% of the vote in the first rounds of elections, have spoken out against women running for office.
The recent women’s protest may breathe life into a movement that desperately needs new energy. In the early weeks of the revolution, women activists tried to bring attention to women’s issues but never succeeded in getting the masses behind them.
“We are all the women of Tunisia,” stated Professor Khalid Kshir of Tunis University in conversation with the author of this article. Professor Kshir is a member of the Democratic Modernist Pole, a coalition of leftist parties. He fears that the Ennahda party will push the country back instead of moving it forward.
Just a year ago, literally weeks before the start of the uprising in the country, Tunisians had joked that theirs was a country of free women and happy men. No other Arab nation had ever granted so many rights to women, fixed de jure and de facto, than Tunisia. That was something of which Tunisians were proud, and even boasted about. Today, many people in Tunisia fear that the country’s achievements on the road to becoming a modern society will be brought to nought.
”We need to focus all our efforts in the sphere of politics and culture on women’s rights, because women form half of our society and any infringement on their rights will be harmful to all of us,” Professor Kshir went on to say.
Strange as it may seem, the issue of women’s rights was also on the agenda of a conference on promoting tourism which took place in Tunisia early in November, shortly before the final election results were announced. The conference was organized by the Ennahda party, which decided not to wait for the National Constituent Assembly to convene and the government to be formed before holding a series of meetings with representatives of Tunisia’s major industries in order to lay out the priorities for getting the national economy out of its post-revolution stupor. The discussion on the prospects for yourism was among the first meetings to be held, along with a conference on the financial market, co-sponsored by Tunisia’s Brokers’ Association.
The party leader’s comforting assurance came in response to concerns expressed by travel agencies, tour operators, hoteliers and bankers at the meeting, who voiced questions such as, “What will be Tunisia’s international image following your electoral victory? What will happen to women’s rights? How will European tourists feel in Tunisia, and do they have a reason to fear Islamists?”
What started as a discussion on the prospects of tourism eventually escalated into a broader deliberation on Tunisia’s prospective path of development. There are strong reasons for such an interconnection: tourism accounts for six per cent of Tunisia’s GDP and makes up 60 per cent of the national trade deficit. The industry employs 12 per cent of the country’s working population, while one in eight Tunisian families live off tourism, one way or another. During the revolutionary turmoil which rocked the country between January and September 2011, tourism revenues in Tunisia plunged by 38.5 per cent compared to a similar period in 2010, while the overall number of tourists coming to Tunisia sank by 34.4 per cent.
That is why at present Ennahda is ready for dialogue and compromise. “We guarantee freedom in food, drink and clothes,” Hamadi Jebali said.
He emphasized that his party would respect democratic principles and that Tunisian society would retain its progressive nature. According to Jebali, the revolution took place in the name of improving the lives of Tunisian citizens and moving the country forward rather than hindering its development.
Many of those present at the conference believed the words of the Ennahda leader – or said that they did. “I believe Jebali. I am an optimist but only on condition that the rights of women won’t be violated and if we don’t follow the path of Saudi Arabia where a woman can do business but is forbidden to drive a car,” Sihem Zaiem, a member of the Federation of Tourist Agencies, said after the conference.
Delegates applauded her when she demanded that the Ennahda secretary-general explain Tunisia’s true face to the world as soon as possible, and demonstrate Islamists’ attitude to women’s rights. Jebali promised that nothing would change in the arena of women’s rights. His speech was very convincing.
Fadhila Al Mubarak, a 38-year-old mother of a 9-year-old boy, is still in jail after she was sentenced in an unfair military trial for charges related directly to exercising her right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. She was detained and prosecuted in a military court for playing revolutionary music in her car, trying to save her son and nieces, participating in peaceful protests in Pearl Roundabout and writing a poem to her son about the revolution, freedom and fighting for his future. The information available on the conditions of her detention is very worrying and her family has raised concerns over her health.
Fadhila, who was living with her husband and her son in the area of Aali, was arrested on 27 March 2011, just a few days after the National Safety Law was imposed on 15 March 2011. She was arrested at a checkpoint because there was an audio recording of revolutionary songs playing in her car. She was asked to pull over her car and step out. They insulted her, called her names and cursed her. While security officers at the checkpoint were talking to her, a man in civilian clothing tried to get into her car. In fear over the safety of the children, her son (9), nieces (14 – 15), she pulled him away thinking he was a thug who would kidnap or hurt them. Later, she found out he was a police officer.
Her family asked about her at police stations close to the checkpoint where she was arrested only to find out after four days that she was held in Riffa police station. She was later transferred to Isa Town women’s prison. During the period of her detention, her family had no contact with her and was not allowed to visit or talk to her over phone. Family members tried to appoint her a lawyer, a request that was rejected by the military court.
Of course, like the feminists have suggested, the Reform Era in 1998 has given women opportunities to revive the real spirit of Kartini. However, as Mariana suggested, the Reform Era was nothing but “a short-term honeymoon” moment for women’s movement.
When the late former president Abdurrahman Wahid changed the name of the ministry of women affairs into the ministry of women’s empowerment, for example, feminists felt very confident about their cause. In addition to that, the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) was given full support to continue its investigation into the May 1998 tragedy, where many Chinese women were sexually abused.
“During Megawati’s era, we were more enthusiastic because the first woman was finally installed as a president amid opposition from some religious leaders,” Mariana said. “Megawati then also succeeded in passing the law on domestic violence.”
Celebrating women’s achievement even more, she added, was the policy of granting women a 30 percent quota of seats in the Parliament.
However, this celebration of women’s movement had to end in 2005, when Susilo Bambang Yu-dhoyono won his first presidential term.
“The year marked the introduction of the pornography bill, which was mentioned by President SBY during his first [presidential] speech,” said Mariana. “He even took the opportunity to comment about women’s belly buttons!”
And from that moment on, she went on, the women’s movement in Indonesia started to lose its ground. While battling against the criminalization of women, feminists have been labeled as “Western devilish agents”, gaining a bad reputation in society.
It seems that vigilance of women over their rights in all democracies is important. That is why it is important that women officials with high public profiles–like US SOS Hillary Clinton–continue to keep their focus on the rights of women and also GLBT rights aound the world. The world’s religious fundamentalists continue to press for backsliding. Religious fanatics push for edicts that can run the gambit from defining an egg as a person to hold women’s bodies hostage to narrow religious views of ‘life’ as in seen in Arkansas recently. There are also the many Sub-Saharan African nations–like Nigeria and Uganda–where laws ignore or encourage violence against GLBT because of both Muslim and Christian extremists in the regions. The latter example has been funded for and encouraged by US fundamentalist Christians which is even a more outrageous intervention than just resurrecting or perpetuating native tribal traditions like the child bride tradition which is also a problem in places like highly Christian Guatemala as well as Western African countries.
In unusually strong language, the US secretary of state accused Egypt’s new leaders of mistreatment of women both on the street and in politics since the street revolt nearly a year ago that overthrew leader Hosni Mubarak.
“This systematic degradation of Egyptian women dishonours the revolution, disgraces the state and its uniform and is not worthy of a great people,” Mrs Clinton said in a speech at Georgetown University.
In images widely seen over YouTube, helmeted troops were shown beating a veiled woman after having ripped her clothes off to reveal her bra and stomach.
Other pictures circulating on social media networks that have enraged protesters include one of a military policeman looming over a sobbing elderly woman with his truncheon.
“Recent events in Egypt have been particularly shocking. Women are being beaten and humiliated in the same streets where they risked their lives for the revolution only a few short months ago,” Mrs Clinton said.
Here is the PBS NEWSHOUR coverage of the Egyptian Women’s protests and an interview with participant May Nabil. It has some interesting narrative of the march in that many woman spontaneously joined the march and weren’t just drawn to it via internet. Additionally, there were many supportive Egyptian men in attendance.
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Minx here, and since the last few days have been a living hell, this Sunday Reads are going to have lots of links…but not too much commentary. After suffering through a migraine, the brain takes a bit to re-boot. It is frustrating to try to get your thoughts straight…so if the post is off, you know why!
Huge swathes of the north-eastern United States have been hit by a rare October snow storm that struck across the region from Virginia all the way to Maine.
Dubbed “Snowtober” by news organisations covering the unusually early winter storm, the massive weather formation dumped up to 30cm (one foot) of snow in parts of the country that rarely see it this early in the year. Some estimates put the number of people affected by the unseasonal weather at around 60 million.
It sometimes shocks me when I spend a few days out of it with a migraine…and miss so much. If any one missed the great post from Wonk, Quixote, Peggy Sue, Dak and Boston Boomer…check them out!
General Julius Karangi, Kenyan (CDF) Chief of the Defense Force, speaks to journalists at a military press briefing in Nairobi. Kenya, October 29, 2011.
Kenya’s Defense Ministry says it has not set a time frame for its operation against al-Shabab militants in Somalia, saying troops will leave the country when Kenyans feel secure. Kenyan officials emphasized that they are not at war with Somalia, but with al-Shabab.
Kenya’s military chief, General Julius Karangi, told reporters Saturday that Kenya’s military will continue its assault in Somalia until Kenyans feel safe from what he called “the al-Shabab menace.”
“This campaign is not time bound, we shall leave it to the people of this country to decide that yes, we feel safe enough on the common border and then we shall come back. So key factors or indicators would be in the form of a highly degraded al-Shabab capacity,” he said.
The military says it has killed hundreds of al-Shabab militants in 15 days of fighting, while only one Kenyan soldier has been killed in battle.
Meanwhile, as the US sends troops to Uganda…this little bit of news from Oklahoma was reported by Al Jazeera.
A federal court in the state of Oklahoma has dismissed a lawsuit against Rwandan President Paul Kagame, brought by the widows of two assassinated African presidents, ruling that he had immunity in the US.
District Judge Lee West ruled on Friday that as a head of state recognised by the US government, Kagame was immune from the wrongful death civil suit. The Obama administration had urged the court to recognise Kagame’s immunity.
Juvenal Habyarimana, then president of Rwanda, and Cyprien Ntaryamira, president of neighbouring Burundi, were killed in a rocket attack on their plane at Kigali airport in 1994.
The attack triggered the Rwandan genocide, in which Hutu armed groups and soldiers killed 800,000 minority Tutsis and moderate Hutus.
The widows had sought $350m in damages, arguing that Kagame, leader of the Tutsi rebel group, the Rwandan Patriotic Front, had ordered the assassination of their Hutu husbands.
One of Congo’s leading peacemakers, Henri Ladyi – who has been called “Africa‘s Schindler” for his work rehabilitating child soldiers in the republic’s eastern region – said he feared years of hard work in demobilising militia members, especially child soldiers, was being undone. They were being pulled back into the bush to get ready for a fresh conflict, eight years after the formal end of Africa’s largest war, which killed 5 million people
He said chiefs of the Mai Mai – the name given to the vicious gangs who roamed eastern Congo, some politically motivated, others defending territory and stealing cattle – were preparing for clashes as they believed Congo’s president, Joseph Kabila, was cooperating with the Rwandan president, Paul Kagame, to organise wide-scale election fraud. Government efforts to disarm the militias, whose numbers have dwindled in recent years, were undermined by the fact that no proper peace and reconciliation process was followed, said Ladyi.
“We should have learned from every other African country – Liberia, South Africa, Rwanda – who put in place a reconciliation process after conflict. We did not succeed in DRC, and these leaders who are in power also don’t admit what their role was, so people do not trust them.
“There is no forgiveness in communities: people live alongside each other, shop in the same market, but with hatred still. We will not have peace in DRC until we have reconciliation. I fear instead we will have more war.”
A small but increasingly vocal minority of secular Tunisians are predicting that an Islamist-dominated national assembly will reverse key pieces of civil rights legislation, including those recognizing the right to abortion and prohibiting polygamy.
Tunisia’s secular feminists, many of whom are urban admirers of French-style secularism, see Ennahda women as unwitting agents of their own domination. Although Ennahda openly supports Tunisia’s 1956 Code of Personal Status — arguably the most progressive piece of women’s rights legislation in the Arab world — its critics accuse the party as a whole of purveying a “double discourse,” adopting a soft, tolerant line when speaking to francophone secularists but preaching a rabidly conservative message when addressing its rural base.
Rather than developing strong platforms of their own, secular opposition parties like Ettajdid have focused their campaign efforts almost exclusively on fear mongering, raising the specter of an Iranian-style Islamist takeover and the imposition of Shariah, the legal code of Islam. Daniel Pipes and other Western commentators have joined the fray, urging Washington to stand against the “blight” of Ennahda and labeling Islamism “the civilized world’s greatest enemy.”
But as the article continues, there is a sense of hope for women in Tunisia.
In May, Tunisia passed an extremely progressive parity law, resembling France’s, which required all political parties to make women at least half of their candidates. As a long-repressed party, Ennahda enjoyed more credibility than other groups. It also had a greater number of female candidates to run than any other party, and strongly supported the parity law as a result.
According to Mounia Brahim and Farida Labidi, 2 of the 13 members of Ennahda’s Executive Council, the party welcomes strong, critical women in its ranks. “Look at us,” Ms. Brahim said. “We’re doctors, teachers, wives, mothers — sometimes our husbands agree with our politics, sometimes they don’t. But we’re here and we’re active.”
These women are not likely to oppose women’s rights legislation. Ennahda women are, first and foremost, Tunisians. They are well educated, and their brand of Islamism, like Tunisian society as a whole, is relaxed and comparatively progressive. Since the 1950s, Tunisian women have enjoyed greater legal protections than their counterparts in other Arab states.
…if you wanted to understand the significance of the event, it was more useful to stand outside, where a few hundred people not lucky enough to get tickets were watching the gala on two large screens. It was a cold, miserable night, and the whole thing was covered live on television, but they stood there anyway, and when columns of ballerinas appeared to the adagio from “Swan Lake,” there were audible sighs of delight.
The reopening of the Bolshoi is freighted with political significance; the six-year restoration has turned the clock back to the late 19th century, replacing thousands of Soviet hammer-and-sickle signs with imperial double-headed eagles. More simply, though, it fills a vacuum in a country besotted by art.
A double-headed serpent Aztec figurine from Mexico (A.D. 1400-1600), part of a project to tell the history of the world in 100 objects from the British Museum.
IT was a project so audacious that it took 100 curators four years to complete it. The goal: to tell the history of the world through 100 objects culled from the British Museum’s sprawling collections. The result of endless scholarly debates was unveiled, object by chronological object, on a BBC Radio 4 program in early 2010, narrated by Neil MacGregor, director of the museum. Millions of listeners tuned in to hear his colorful stories — so many listeners that the BBC, together with the British Museum, published a hit book of the series, “A History of the World in 100 Objects,” which is being published in the United States on Monday
Halloween is my favourite holiday, though I’m not quite sure why. It may be some blood-deep ethnic link to the ancient Celtic festival from whence it came; it may be the fact that I’m crazy-stupid for slasher movies and monkey nuts. Either way, Halloween puts the frights on Christmas, terrorises Easter and sends Valentine’s Day bawling for its mommy. And one of the best ways to spend 31 October is by curling up with a creepy book, in a room lit by candles, with stiff drink and loaded revolver close at hand. Just in case.
However, being the très cool, alternative trendies that we are, let’s not settle for any old horror novel. Sure, American Psycho or The Shining will scare the bejeesus out of you, guaranteed. But that’s a bit too easy.
Instead, I’ve put together an alternative Halloween reading list in preparation for next Monday: novels that are eerie, horrifying or disturbing in unusual and different ways. (And please, no jokes about Jeffrey Archer or Cecelia Ahern being truly gruesome … mainly because I’ve just made one.)
Paul Zenk/PBS Nature “Invasion of the Giant Pythons”
A giant python swallows an alligator in Everglades National Park, Fla.
Pythons are known for their enormous appetites. In a single meal they can devour animals at least as big as they are — deer, alligators pigs and house pets, for example.
Equally remarkable is what happens inside the python as it digests its prey. Within a day, its heart and other organs can double in size. The metabolic rate and production of insulin and lipids soar.
Then, like an accordion, the python’s organs return to normal size in just a few days. Metabolism slows. Then the snake can fast for months, even a year, without losing muscle mass or showing any ill effects, ready to ambush new prey.
How this process happens so rapidly is a biological mystery with important implications for human health, particularly when it comes to heart failure. Now scientists at the University of Colorado here are reporting that they have partly solved it.
This thesis brings together all that is currently known of early medieval grave reopening in northern and western Europe. It investigates in detail an intensive outbreak of grave-robbery in 6th-7th century Kent. This is closely related to the same phenomenon in Merovingia: an example of the import of not only material goods but also a distinctive cultural practice. Limited numbers of similar robbing episodes, affecting a much smaller proportion of graves in each cemetery, are also identified elsewhere in Anglo-Saxon England. Although the phenomenon of grave-robbery is well-attested in Merovingia, this research is the first study at a regional level.
The aim is to advance the debate about early medieval robbery from general discussion of interpretative possibilities to evaluation of specific models and their compatibility with the archaeological evidence. The conclusions have significant implications for the interpretation of grave-robbery across early medieval Europe. In Kent robbing is at a level that must be considered in any discussion of cemetery evidence. The poor publication record has inhibited recognition and analysis of robbing in the county. However, by using extensive archive material, this thesis has shown that the practice of ransacking graves was on a similar scale in East Kent as in Merovingia.
This research identifies over 200 reopened graves across Kent, with at least 15 sites affected. At the most intensely robbed sites, an average of over 20% of burials were disturbed. Robbing is likely to have had a significant impact on artefact finds, especially from the late 6th century onwards. Grave-robbery opens a window onto the wider meanings and values of grave-good types within the early medieval period. The analysis in this thesis demonstrates that the main motive for reopening was the removal of grave goods. However, straightforward personal enrichment was not the goal. A deliberate, consistent selection of certain grave-good types were taken from burials, while other apparently covetable possessions were left behind. The desired grave-goods were removed even when in an unusable condition. It is argued that the selection of goods for removal was related to their symbolic roles in the initial burial rite. Their taking was intended to harm living descendants by damaging the prestige and strength of the dead. In addition to the robbed graves, there is a small number of graves spread across the sites which were reopened for bodily mutilation or rearrangement of skeletal parts. These closely resemble the better known deviant burial rites which were applied to certain corpses at the time of initial burial and are interpreted as a reaction to fear of revenants.
I want to end with this report of sexual assault on the MTV reality show, Real World…it is disturbing. You may remember some months ago, the Village Voice published an article about the contracts participants must sign to be on Real World. (link below) It absolved MTV of any responsibility if participants were sexually assaulted. Check this out…Was a “Real World” star raped by her castmates? – Reality TV – Salon.com
Tonya Cooley is a former “Real World Chicago” and “Real World/Road Rules Challenge” cast member. She’s been a Playboy “Cybergirl of the Week,” has worked with the Girls Gone Wild team, and done a little Cinemax softcore. And absolutely none of that means that she wasn’t raped.
I won’t go into the details, but it involves a toothbrush, a couple of guys, and a TV crew. Cooley was unaware of the event, she had drunk a lot of alcohol and passed out, no one alerted her to the video taped assault, however they did replace the toothbrush with a brand new one…
But without all the facts of the case, we know that Cooley is a loose cannon — and that reality TV depends upon bad behavior, and often encourages it. We know that MTV’s contracts have stipulated that if you get “non-consensual physical contact,” is a risk that comes with the territory — and the network is not responsible. We know that we still live in a world where the Huffington Post can blithely chalk up an alleged sexual assault as a “freak incident.” You know, like hail in the desert. And that on TVology.com, Terron Moore has decided the accused “did some things Tonya didn’t like… and well, she’s just now complaining about it.” You know, like anyone would if someone put an empty carton of milk back in the fridge. Of Cooley’s allegation that men were coached to feel up the females, he adds, “Who needs encouraging to touch privates, exactly? That’s the fun part!”
Clearly it’s time for a refresher course here. If you grope a person without consent, that is assault. If violate a human being, even one who is passed out drunk, you are raping that person. That is not a “freak incident” — and it sure as hell isn’t the fun part. Nobody should get a free pass to commit crime because he’s on a reality show, and nobody should sign away her right to safety from abuse to be on TV. Those who still don’t get it are the ones who need to get real.
What the hell…the PLUB religious right is not the only jackasses on an anti-woman campaign, they are getting the best kind of assistance by the media and entertainment industry…not to mention dumb assholes that feel it is “fun” to commit a violent act towards a woman. Where are we heading to…somebody tell me!
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The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.