Wednesday Reads: Buckets of what?

 

That about sums it up….buckets of shit.

Today’s thread is hosted by a twisted children’s books spoof meme. I’ve done this theme before but since then more of the little devils have sprung up on Pinterest and the like so I thought, why not.

It is sadly however that the news stories I bring you are not spoofs, but the real thing, yes…these are the tales of children…no wait. Former Fetuses…. Who find themselves to be in the unfortunate circumstance now (at least) to be a Female Former Fetus aka Woman/Girl living in a PLUB Anti-choice world.

imageNow there are plenty of links here, some are a few weeks old…but they all focus on primarily one thing.

Starting off with Sam Bee.

Watch: Samantha Bee Exposes the Hideous Lie of Fake Abortion Clinics | Alternet

Recently Samantha Bee introduced her audience to an atrocious anti-woman lawmaker, Senator Renee Unterman of Georgia, who has fought against justice for rape victims. Turns out that is not the only thing Unterman has been doing. She also wrote legislation that allows Georgia to give state money to [Crisis] Pregnancy Resource Centers.

“Woman, have you lost your f*cking mind?” Samantha Bee, host of “Full Frontal,” shouted.

Pregnancy Resource Centers are places that deliberately mislead women about the services that they actually offer.

“Much like Renee Unterman, Crisis Pregnancy Centers may look sweet and helpful, but they’re really full of toxic bullsh*t,” confirmed Bee.

Samantha Bee Takes Down Fake Abortion Centers — The Cut

 

 

If you want to see the rape kit bit Sam Bee mentions in the Abortion clip…here is that video.

 

By the way, other Sam Bee videos can be seen here: Full Frontal with Samantha Bee – YouTube

Back to the links…

imageCrisis Pregnancy Centers Are Pretty Bad at Dissuading People Seeking Abortion – Rewire

Until recently, a person who Googled “abortion clinic” might be directed to a CPC instead. CPCs, as a result, are reaching more clients than ever, but as statistics indicate, persuading very few to remain pregnant.

Crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) are billed as alternatives to abortion clinics, but new data suggests they largely fail at their mission, persuading less than 4 percent of clients to forgo abortion care.

Of the 2.6 million clients who visited crisis pregnancy centers since 2004, 3.52 percent, or 92,679 people, decided against having an abortion. The statistics come from eKYROS.com, Inc., an anti-choice, Texas-based software company, which says more than 1,200 CPCs use its software to track clients and measure results.

The publicly available data, as the eKYROS website explains, reflects “clients who came to the center with initial intentions of Abortion or Undecided and then changed their mind to carry baby to term.”

The eKYROS software allows CPCs to collect demographic information on clients and categorize them based on a variety of criteria, including whether they are “abortion minded,” “abortion vulnerable,” or “likely to carry“—categories described in a software demo posted online. These categories are key to assessing whether the facilities are achieving what is at the heart of CPCs’ mission: convincing pregnant people to “choose life,” a viewpoint reflecting the largely evangelical Christian ideals of the centers’ religious operators.

imageFucking hell….

And as the Sam Bee video up top explains, these fuckers get money funds from the government! Yeah, as if having damn “tax free church status” wasn’t enough.

Georgia GOP Approves $2 Million for Anti-Choice Pregnancy Centers – Rewire

Elizabeth Nash, a policy analyst at the Guttmacher Institute, said the Republican-backed measure “allows state funds to go to organizations providing women with incomplete information or outright misinformation.”

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) signed a bill Tuesday that provides $2 million in state funding for anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs), reported the Associated Press.

SB 308, sponsored by state Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), would establish a program through the Georgia Department of Public Health that will provide grants to organizations “whose mission and practice is to provide alternatives to abortion services to medically indigent women at no cost.”

imageOh, but I wonder what will happen to those women and former fetuses once they are looking for help or assistance from these same fuckers?

State lawmaker seeks dramatic cuts in welfare, food stamps | www.ajc.com

This week I wrote about how Georgia won’t be requiring photos on food stamp cards. But that’s just a proxy for the real battle underway to dramatically scale back the food stamp program in Georgia.

State Rep. Greg Morris wants to dial back the state’s social safety net significantlyby requiring Georgia adopt only the bare minimum standards to qualify for federal welfare and food stamp funding.

imageGet this…

“The fundamental issue is that there are too many people” receiving benefits, said Morris, chairman of the House Banking Committee.

Morris has tried to trim the food stamp rolls before. In 2014, he sponsored House Bill 772, which required recipients suspected of using drugs to submit to urine tests and for all recipients to have their photos put on the EBT cards they use to access benefits.

About 1.6 million Georgians are enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, roughly 16 percent of the overall state population, according to the state Division of Family and Children Services. About half of food stamp recipients are children.

The food stamp program brings $2.8 billion in annual federal aid to the state, with an average monthly benefit about just under $130 per person.

imageAssholes.

Meanwhile in Alabama, Alabama’s creative new anti-abortion strategy: regulate clinics like sex offenders – Vox

Over the past five years, some states have become quite creative about passing laws that seem specifically designed to close abortion clinics. Innocuous-sounding requirements about building codes ormedical licensing have proven so impossible for abortion providers to comply with that the Supreme Court is considering whether to overturn them.

But Alabama might have just come up with the most creative idea yet:forbidding abortion clinics from operating within 2,000 feet of a public elementary or middle school. Two of the state’s five abortion clinics fit this description — two of the largest, no less, which together provide more than half of all abortions in the state.

imageAs Hannah Levintova of Mother Jones points out, the bill would quite literally regulate abortion clinics in a similar manner as sex offenders. Alabama state law forbids registered sex offenders from living within 2,000 feet of schools and child care facilities. And the bill’s sponsor has made this comparison explicit.

“We can put a restriction on whether a liquor store opens up across the street and make sure pedophiles stay away from schools,” Alabama state Sen. Paul Sanford told the Times Daily in February. “I just think having an abortion clinic that close to elementary-age school children that actually have to walk on the sidewalk past it is not the best thing.”

The bill’s opponents argue that the children would never even know abortions were performed there if not for the disruptive protests outside of the clinic. This, by the way, is why one Washington, DC, charter school is now suing anti-abortion activists.

imageWhat it’s like to own an abortion clinic in a deep red state | Fusion

June Ayers does not ignore calls.

It was after 4 p.m., and Reproductive Health Services, the clinic she has owned and operated for the last 30 years, was closed for the day. Ayers, in periwinkle scrubs dotted with purple butterflies, was seated behind a front desk covered with patient charts. A muted television played HGTV to an empty waiting room. The silent feed from the security cameras revealed a deserted parking lot.

But the phone kept ringing, so Ayers kept answering.

“Reproductive Health, may I help you?” Ayers, 61, has been repeating this line for decades. And her voice—Alabama drawl, all heavy vowels, sugar-sweet with a little rasp—is very likely one of the first things you will hear if you need an abortion within 100 miles of Montgomery.

The clinic is one of just five left in Alabama, which means that a majority of women in the state live in a county without an abortion provider. So in Alabama—like in Texas, like in Mississippi, like in a growing number of states across the country—to have an abortion means to travel.

It also means state-directed counseling intended to discourage abortion, a mandatory ultrasound, two separate clinic visits, and a 48-hour waiting period between them. For women who live outside of Montgomery, the waiting period requires time off work, traveling hundreds of miles for repeat trips, or finding somewhere to stay in the area overnight. And because 60% of women who have abortions are already mothers, the travel required means, in some cases, two full days of childcare. None of it comes cheap.

“And right now the state Legislature has seven other bills ready to go,” Ayers told me as we talked that afternoon, gliding her hand in the air like a conveyor belt.

Minors in the state must overcome another potential barrier: parental consent. Alabama is one of 21 states in the country that require minors to obtain the permission of at least one parentbefore terminating a pregnancy. If they can’t get that, whether because their parent is incarcerated or estranged, abusive, or strictly anti-abortion, then the law says they have to go to court.

For people under the age of 18, getting an abortion in Alabama is a little like that line about Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire: all the same steps, except backward and in heels.

imageThe Long Term Impact Of Alabama’s New Abortion Clinic Location Restrictions | Care2 Causes

Alabama, never one to shy away from in your face anti-abortion sentiment, has come up with a new bill that will help to shutter clinics in the state – a requirement that all abortion providers be located at least 2000 feet from any schools. This seemingly innocuous restriction is poised to completely change the landscape of access in the state and beyond, even more than the critics themselves may realize.

The 2000 foot bill was introduced last legislative session as an attempt to close the abortion clinic in Huntsville, Ala., the only clinic in the northern part of the state. It was introduced to target the clinic, which had only recently reopened after moving to a new location because it could not meet the newly enforced building requirements that had been a part of new legislation passed one year prior. Instead, the clinic relocated into a new building that met most of the standards – but was also located across the street from a local school.

The bill failed to make it through both chambers last year, but came back again this session. A brief debate was held over whether the new legislation should allow a grandfather clause, which would have allowed existing clinics an exception. That proposal failed, and now Huntsville – and possibly the clinic in Tuscaloosa, Ala., too – is in danger of losing licensure.

 

imageI’ve used this article before in one of my post, but I think it is important to state it again here:

Missouri Republicans spend more than $8 million to block less than $400,000 in federal funding for Planned Parenthood 

Why?

Anyway, more crazy in Utah:

Utah abortion providers stumped by law requiring fetal pain relief | PBS NewsHour

Utah’s first-in-the-nation requirement that fetuses receive anesthesia or painkillers before some abortions takes effect Tuesday, but doctors say it’s unnecessary and impossible to comply with.

The law requires pain relief for a fetus before any abortion at 20 weeks of gestation or later, based on the disputed premise that a fetus can feel pain at that stage.

 

New Utah Law Will Require Abortion Doctors To Lie To Their Patients | ThinkProgress

A new Utah law that goes into effect on Tuesday will force doctors to shirk their promise to “do no harm” by dangerously over-anesthetizing women who seek a later abortion.

Informed by anti-abortion state lawmakers rather than by medical experts, the “Protecting Unborn Children Amendment” requires physicians to administer an anesthetic to any women seeking an abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy or later, to “eliminate or alleviate organic pain to the unborn child.” Like many anti-abortion laws on the state level, Utah’s law rests on the unscientific belief that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks of gestation.

Most states that introduce “fetal pain” legislation try to ban abortions entirely after 20 weeks — and at least 12 have been successful. Utah is the first to pass a anesthesia-related bill instead of outright prohibiting the practice. But according to physicians, it may as well be a ban.

“You’re asking me to invent a procedure that doesn’t have any research to back it up,” said Dr. Leah Torres, an OB-GYN who works at one of Utah’s two licensed abortion clinics, in an interview with the New York Times. “You want me to experiment on my patients.”

Utah physicians have strongly opposed the bill since its inception, arguing that unscientific opinions from state lawmakers have no place in a safe doctor-patient relationship — especially if they put a woman’s life at risk.

 

imageIn other Utah news…At Brigham Young, a Cost in Reporting a Rape – The New York Times

Before she could move into a dormitory atBrigham Young University or sign up for freshman classes, Brooke had to sign the college’s Honor Code.

Part moral compass and part contract, the Honor Code is a cornerstone of life for the nearly 30,000 students at Brigham Young, a Mormon-run university. It points students, faculty and staff members toward “moral virtues encompassed in the gospel of Jesus Christ,” prizing chastity, honesty and virtue. It requires modest dress on campus, discourages consensual sex outside marriage and, among other things, prohibits drinking, drug use, same-sex intimacy and indecency, as well as sexual misconduct.

But after Brooke, 20, told the university that a fellow student had raped her at his apartment in February 2014, she said the Honor Code became a tool to punish her. She had taken LSD that night, and also told the university about an earlier sexual encounter with the same student that she said had been coerced. Four months after reporting the assault, she received a letter from the associate dean of students.

“You are being suspended from Brigham Young University because of your violation of the Honor Code including continued illegal drug use and consensual sex, effective immediately,” the letter read.

This is something of a habit over there at BYU…

In the past few weeks, Brooke and a handful of other female students have come forward, first at a rape-awareness conference and then in The Salt Lake Tribune, to say that after they made complaints of sexual abuse they had faced Honor Code investigations into whether they drank alcohol, took drugs or had consensual sex.

image“They treated me in such an un-Christlike way, like I was some sinner,” said Brooke, who agreed to be identified by her first name. “There was no forgiveness and mercy.”

Their accounts have brought a national debate over colleges’ disparate treatment of women who have reported sexual assaults crashing onto this faith-driven campus, where Mormon students gather from around the globe, skirts must fall to the knee and beards are outlawed. The women’s complaints have focused attention on how the university deals with such cases as it also seeks to uphold a moral code that lies at the heart of its identity.

Brigham Young’s policy on sexual misconduct urges students to come forward even if they have broken university policies. The university says that it investigates sexual assault complaints fully, but that it also has an obligation to pursue misconduct under the Honor Code. According to the sexual misconduct policy, violations of its code discouraging consensual sex are not exempt from scrutiny.

“Brigham Young University cares deeply about the safety of our students,” Carri Jenkins, a university spokeswoman, wrote in an email. “When a student reports a sexual assault, our primary focus is on the well-being of the victim.”

Sometimes, though, “facts come to light that a victim has engaged in prior Honor Code violations,” she said.

While the recent complaints about Brigham Young have come from female students, the university says that all students are required to follow the Honor Code “at all times,” whether on or off campus. Any potential violation that comes to the university’s attention could be investigated, it said. In the wake of the students’ complaints, the university announced last week that it would review how it handled reports of sexual assaults.

Go to the link to see other stories on the situation at BYU,  and to read more about this case.

Then remember this new law in Oklahoma:

imageOklahoma Says Drunk Girls Can’t Get Raped and the Other Worst Rape Laws in the U.S. – The Daily Beast

Bizarre loopholes and double standards in rape legislation aren’t just confined to Oklahoma.

On March 24, an Oklahoma appeals court unanimously ruled that “forcible sodomy cannot occur where a victim is so intoxicated as to be completely unconscious at the time of the sexual act of oral copulation” (PDF). 

Translated into English: Forcing a woman to perform oral sex while she’s blackout drunk isn’t rape.

Oklahoma Watch first reported the shocking decision, which Tulsa County assistant district attorney Benjamin Fu called “dangerous” and “offensive.” Fu served as the lead prosecutor in a case against a 17-year-old boy who claimed in a police interview that a 16-year-old girl he drove home from a park had consented to oral sex.

 The girl said she did not remember what happened and another boy who rode in the car confirmed that she was having difficulty staying conscious. After she was taken to the hospital early the next morning, tests showed that her blood alcohol level was a staggering .341 and that traces of the boy’s DNA were around her mouth.

But because she was intoxicated—and because the alleged rape was oral rather than vaginal—the court determined that Oklahoma law did not apply to her case. 

Oklahoma’s “rape in the first degree” statute is fairly comprehensive, applying to victims who were mentally ill, intoxicated, unconscious, physically coerced, or threatened with violence. But the “forcible sodomy” statute only lists two barriers to consent: mental illness and violence. 

The difference between the statutes might seem like a technicality, but it’s one that the appeals court took seriously, writing that they could not “enlarge a statute” in order to prosecute the boy.

More alarming than this conclusion is the fact that these bizarre loopholes and double standards in rape legislation aren’t just confined to one state.

As of 2013, the FBI defines rape as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” The agency’s prior definition—“the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will”—was not only archaic, it was ambiguous about what, precisely, counted as rape: Did “carnal knowledge” include oral rape, anal rape, rape with an object? 

But even though the federal government has now laid out a crystal clear and expansive definition of rape, several states—not just Oklahoma—still regard nonconsensual vaginal penetration with a penis differently from other, equally serious forms of forcible sex.

As Jennifer Gentile Long, CEO of AEquitas, a resource for prosecutors in cases of violence against women, told The Guardian of the Oklahoma case, “There are still gaps in the ways laws are written that allow some cases to fall through the cracks. This case seems to be one of them.”

imageThat article has other state laws similar to OK which will make you red with anger…but since I am sticking to Oklahoma right now….

This Is Why A Ruling In An Oklahoma Courtroom Disgusted Everyone Including the DA

Unconscious, where you can’t make decisions because you are not awake.

 In an Oklahoma court, a decision was made that states the law doesn’t criminalize oral sex with a victim who is completely unconscious. The ruling is, of course, sparking outrage because critics say the judicial system was engaged in victim-blaming and believing outdated notions in regards to rape.

Sexual Assault Ruling in Oklahoma Spurs Calls to Change State Laws – The New York Times

Outraged activists and prosecutors in Oklahoma called for changes to a state law on forced oral sex after a court rejected the prosecution of a teenage boy in Tulsa because his 16-year-old accuser had been intoxicated to the point of unconsciousness.

“Forcible sodomy cannot occur where a victim is so intoxicated as to be completely unconscious at the time of the sexual act of oral copulation,” the Court of Criminal Appeals ruled in the case.

image“We will not, in order to justify prosecution of a person for an offense, enlarge a statute beyond the fair meaning of its language,” it said.

Advocates for rape victims said the decision by the appeals court was not all that surprising given the patchwork inconsistency of state-by-state sexual assault laws that leave legal gray areas. But other experts said the ruling should jolt other states into examining their own laws.

Oklahoma court rules that forced oral sex is not rape if victim is unconscious from drinking

On yet another abortion front, in this war on women:

Meet the abortion doctor fighting her hospital’s ‘gag order’ | Fusion

Many women’s health advocates wear their passion on their sleeve. Diane Horvath-Cosper wears hers on her ankle, in the form of a coat hanger tattoo—a reminder to herself and others, she says, that our country is rapidly returning to the dark ages of abortion and the horrors this reality entails.

I know about Horvath-Cosper’s new tattoo because I was with her when she got it last month. After we left the tattoo parlor, she promptly Instagrammed a photo of it with the hashtag #NeverAgain, then turned to me and said, sarcastically, “My parents are going to love this.”

imageAs a fellow OBGYN and a friend of Horvath-Cosper’s, I was proud but not at all surprised when she announced, in a mic-drop moment last week, that she was taking legal action against her hospital for forbidding her to speak publicly about her work and beliefs as an abortion provider.

As The New York Times first reported, Horvath-Cosper is filing a civil rights complaint against MedStar Washington Center Hospital in Washington, D.C. for what she describes as a “gag order” that has essentially put the kibosh on her work as an abortion rights advocate. “I don’t think the way to deal with bullies is to cower and pull back,”she told the paper.

Not surprisingly, news of Horvath-Cosper’s decision temporarily broke the internet—or at least that sliver of the internet reserved for abortion news, making her an overnight feminist heroine.

Read the rest about Diane Horvath-Cosper at the link…

‘Abortion Reversal’ Is Scary, Bogus Science – The Daily Beast

Louisiana is the latest state to legislate ‘abortion reversal,’ an unproven and potentially dangerous procedure to counter medical abortion.

imageThe “abortion pill” isn’t one pill, but two pills taken in sequence. First, women visit a clinic and take mifepristone, which blocks progesterone. Then, one to two days later, the drug misoprostol can be used to induce an abortion at home. The entire process—known as medical, rather than surgical, abortion—is safe, effective, and increasingly common.

In recent years, the rise of medical abortion has led some anti-abortion activists and lawmakers to claim that the process can be reversed with an emergency treatment after the first pill. But even if they succeed at turning that myth into law, the truth is that science is not on their side.

What Part Of Your Rape Is My Problem? An Open Letter By Oklahoma Republicans | Left Wing Nation

The Latest Strategy To Prevent Women From Getting A Safe Abortion | ThinkProgress

And the rest of today’s links are on women…yes? And other things….

imageJudge accused of offering young men reduced sentences for sexual favors | www.ajc.com

A district court judge in Arkansas resigned Monday and agreed to never pursue public office again in the face of mounting evidence that he traded reduced sentences and fines for sexual favors and provocative photos of young men under the guise of “community service.”

The Arkansas Judicial and Disability Commission launched an investigation to determine whether to sanction or remove part-time Cross County District Court Judge Joseph Boeckmann from the bench after an investigator working on an elder abuse case complained that witnesses connected to Boeckmann were dropping his name and refusing to speak with her.

During the course of their investigation, the commission unearthed allegations of misconduct dating back decades.

“He’s a criminal predator who used his judicial power to feed his corrupt desires,” David Sachar, executive director of the commission, told The Associated Press. “Every minute he served as a judge was an insult to the Arkansas Judiciary.”

Boeckmann became a Cross County District Court judge on Jan. 1, 2009. However, the commission said it discovered Boeckmann was using his position to sexually prey on young men as far back as 1985, when he worked as a deputy prosecuting attorney.

 

imageReport Catholic Hospitals Denying Reproductive Care

Jailed in El Salvador after losing their pregnancies

State’s doctors join suit over Dignity Health sterilization ban – SFGate

Purity Pledges May Lead to a Higher Chance of Pregnancy and STDs | Teen Vogue

Priest banned for molesting girl gets a new job as director of teen pregnancy center

Atlanta AIDS epidemic as bad as in some developing countries | www.ajc.com

Gloria Steinem: Feminism and New Documentary – Motto

The U.S. Women’s Soccer Team Says Olympic Boycott Is ‘On The Table’ | ThinkProgress

Former Australian PM Julia Gillard: Women Need to Call Out Sexism – Fortune

Study: Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, gets the most negative media coverage – Vox

FOX News Tried to Delete Their Fans’ Racism Towards Malia Obama, But We Got Screenshots

imageTrump appeals to men ‘petrified to speak to women’ | Jay Bookman

Donald Trump Promises To Appoint Anti-Abortion Justices To Supreme Court

Anti-Abortion Group Once “Disgusted” by Donald Trump Now Supports Him | Mother Jones

Two Decades After Genocide, Rwanda’s Women Have Made the Nation Thrive – The Daily Beast

Stonewall Inn First LGBTQIA National Monument | The Mary Sue

And we will end this post with Women in Unexpected Places: Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction – Beacon Broadside: A Project of Beacon Press

Erika Janik and her new book Pistols and Petticoats: 175 Years of Lady Detectives in Fact and Fiction! Pistols and Petticoats is a lively exploration of the struggles women have faced in law enforcement and in mystery fiction since the late nineteenth century. Working in a profession considered to be strictly a man’s domain, investigating women were nearly always at odds with society. These sleuths and detectives refused to let that stop them, and paved the way to a modern professional life for women on the force and in popular culture. We caught up with Janik to ask her about the social implications of women joining the police force, “murder as entertainment,” and how the reality of policewomen compares with the stories told in the crime genre.

What made you decide to write a book on women detectives and the mystery genre?

Something that always grabs my interest is what I sometimes refer to as “women in unexpected places.” I ran across a woman in Chicago who ran her own private detection agency around the turn-of-the-twentieth century and immediately wanted to know more. That led me deep into reading about real women in law enforcement—there are some real characters in the early years!—and thinking about how that reality compared with the fictional worlds I knew from a lifetime of books, television, and movies.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, how did the role of women in detective stories differ from women’s perceived role in society? How does it differ today, if at all?

Fictional female detectives were definitely on the fringes of acceptable female behavior of the time. Women were thought to be emotional—not logical—and rational beings capable of putting the pieces of a mystery together. Women were also expected to be in the home, not out on the street tailing suspects or inspecting crime scenes for clues. At the same time, though, most of these fictional detectives were either young women or spinsters, two stages of life during which women had a bit more latitude because they didn’t have husbands or children.

Fictional detectives today are much closer to real women in that it’s not unusual for a woman to work or to be out in the city at night on her own. Fictional detectives today also tend to have more complicated personal lives. They may be divorced or from a troubled home. One thing that hasn’t changed is that fictional detectives still tend not to be married.

Pistols and PetticoatsIndustrialization and greater education opportunities in the nineteenth century gave women more time to volunteer and to work in social reform. One role borne of this charitable work was the prison matron, a role that paved the way for women on the force. How did the introduction of prison matrons in women’s correctional facilities impact the lives of female inmates and the view of women in policing?

Reformers lobbied hard for the introduction of prison matrons to help protect female inmates from abuse in prisons run by and designed for men. In some prisons, female and male inmates were housed in the same cell, while in others, women were packed together in a single room and largely ignored. Prison matrons did bring more attention to female inmates and had a better understanding of their charges. It also helped to change perceptions of female inmates among the matrons and other reformers. Where before, a woman in prison would be considered “fallen” and beyond redemption, through their work, matrons began to sympathize and understand the circumstances that often drove women to crime. They actually began to point to men as the problem and cause of women’s downfall.

Prison matrons helped ease the path for women in policing because they demonstrated that women could successfully work in a law enforcement capacity.

When women first entered the world of policing, the typical lady detective was young and unmarried or an older “spinster” to allow more time to focus on the job, as all other women were expected to be married and tending to their families. What were the societal implications when married women and mothers began to enter the police force?

Married women entering the police force faced many of the same obstacles and pressures as any married, working mother took on, though law enforcement definitely had the added potential of bodily harm or even death on the job. Fictional female detectives today still tend to be young or unmarried “spinsters,” widows, or divorcees today—that hasn’t changed. This is one area where reality strongly diverges from fiction because many real female officers had partners and children from the very beginning. For instance, Chicago detective Alice Clement was married with a daughter and still made headlines for her adventures in the 1910s.

 

Sounds like an interesting book…..

Why do you believe “murder as entertainment” as depicted in crime fiction and news reporting was such a satisfying genre for audiences in the nineteenth century? How do audiences view the genre today, and how does that affect the way we view current policewomen and female detectives?

I think that murder becomes satisfying entertainment as it becomes less common and as societies become more ordered. When you aren’t living in fear for your life every day, crime can be thrilling and fun as well as a way to play out our fears within a safe space. We also love a good story, even better if it has clear good and bad guys to cheer for and root against. I don’t think that has changed. Scandinavia is one of the safest places in the world today and yet their top literary genre is crime.

There are far more women in fictional detective settings than in real life. I think these fictional depictions of policewomen on television, in particular, have made it easier for our culture to imagine and accept a woman in that role. Unfortunately, that hasn’t necessarily translated to parity on our nation’s police forces.

Or as any of the links in today’s post show…women still are fighting for their basic rights. We have a woman running for president, dealing with a negative press like no other…women jailed for miscarriages, abortions…doctors required to lie to their patients, if only things were like fictional novels. (But even then, horror tales of Handmaids can and do become reality.)

This is an open thread.


Wednesday Reads: Composite and Composure 

Good Afternoon

Who know a few album covers could look so dramatic?

The images you will see today are from one of my favorite photo blogs: vintage everyday: Mix and Match – Strange and Amazing Collage Arts from Famous Album Covers of the 1980s and 1990s

Christian Marclay is a Swiss, New York-based modern artist and composer. He came up with an idea to create funny collages from famous album covers.

So enjoy these collages as we look into some non-election news.

A couple of days ago, LG&M had a post that caught my attention…see if you get the same vibe as I did: Clearly, Paying Teachers Peanuts is the Way to Produce Good Teaching – Lawyers, Guns & Money

635633926025679244-TeacherPayMap

I can think of no better way to provide quality education for our students than paying teachers so poorly that they are forced to get 2nd and 3rd jobs to make ends meet, thus giving them no time to prep for class or rest.

Second and even third jobs are the norm for many school teachers in South Dakota, where teacher pay ranks lowest in the nation, according to a state education task force. Gov. Dennis Daugaard has proposed a half-cent sales tax increase to help raise teacher pay, but his plan needs two-thirds approval in both the House and the Senate — a tough proposition in a legislature with an anti-tax lean.

Mary McCorkle, president of the South Dakota Education Association, said teachers often give up their evenings by grading papers and preparing lessons, and second jobs lead to burnout.

“Something has to give, whether it’s your health, your sanity,” McCorkle said. “You just can’t do everything, and you want to be there for your students.”

The SDEA, which represents more than 5,000 teachers in the state, said Daugaard’s proposal is an acknowledgement that South Dakota schools are having trouble hiring and keeping teachers.

The Brookings School District used to get dozens of applications for each open teaching position but now receives resumes from just a handful of qualified candidates, said school board President Steve Bayer. The pool depth is likely dwindling as applicants look across South Dakota’s eastern border to better-paying jobs.

“When you can make another thousand dollars a month as an experienced teacher, it’s probably worth looking at a place in Minnesota,” he said.

South Dakota’s average teacher salary of $40,023 in 2013-14 lagged an average of six states that border it by $11,888 a year and was $8,643 behind the next lowest neighbor, North Dakota, the group found. In some of South Dakota’s more remote areas, that average salary drops quickly.

Now, this next link will take you to the average starting teacher salary per state: NEA – 2012-2013 Average Starting Teacher Salaries by State

image

And here is a site that give you both starting and general average salaries, which is a bit convoluted to discern.  Teacher Salaries By State | Average Salaries For Teachers | Beginning Salaries For Teachers | Teacher Raises | TeacherPortal.com

Finding accurate beginning and average salaries for teachers by state is a tricky business. In our effort to build the most accurate list of teacher salaries by state, we have averaged the salary from multiple sources, including the National Education Association, job surveys, and private data analyses to create the Salary Comfort Index.

So if you are curious…take a peek at those numbers.

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While on the subject of schools…in South Dakota:

South Dakota Is The First State To Pass A Transphobic Student Bathroom Bill

I will leave that story up to you. Take a gander at the new bill and the logic behind this mess.

The bill was approved by the state Senate on Tuesday and now awaits the signature of Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R), who has said it seems like a good idea. The measure would mandate that students use facilities corresponding with their “physical condition of being male or female as determined by a person’s chromosomes and anatomy as identified at birth,” not the gender with which they identify.

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Next up: The Pope….

He was in Mexico this week.

The Latest: Cleric stresses moral message of Pope at border – The Washington Post

Religious leaders and migrants rights advocates in the United States say Pope Francis’ acknowledgment during his visit to the U.S.-Mexico border of the struggles of immigrants will send a humanitarian message.

Just before his Mass Wednesday afternoon in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Francis is to walk to the border fence along the Rio Grande, which separates the two countries. There, he’ll offer a prayer for migrants on the other side and for those who died trying to get to the U.S. A group of about 500 people, including migrants and refugees, will be on the U.S. side.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville said at a news conference in El Paso Wednesday that “because something has political dimensions it doesn’t mean that it does not also have moral dimensions.

That is sweet…because with the statement the Catholic Church put out on the Zika virus…we don’t want to get into a discussion on Moral Dimensions…or Dilemmas!

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Catholic Leaders Say Zika Doesn’t Change Ban on Contraception – The New York Times

As the Zika virus spreads in Latin America, Catholic leaders are warning women against using contraceptives or having abortions, even as health officials in some countries are advising women not to get pregnant because of the risk ofbirth defects.

The challenge posed by Zika for the Roman Catholic Churchcomes as Pope Francis is making his first trip to Mexico, where the virus appears to be spreading.

After a period of saying little, bishops in Latin America are beginning to speak up and reassert the church’s opposition to birth control and abortion — positions that in Latin America are unpopular and often disregarded, even among Catholics.

“Contraceptives are not a solution,” said Bishop Leonardo Ulrich Steiner, the secretary general of the National Council of Bishops of Brazil, and an auxiliary bishop of Brasília, in an interview. “There is not a single change in the church’s position.”

He urged couples to practice chastity or use “natural family planning,” a method in which women monitor their menstrual cycles and abstain from sex when they are fertile.

Of course these babies are gifts from Gawd.

This is not a stance likely to win many new followers. South America happens to be the continent with the highest proportion of Catholics who already disagree with the church on abortion and birth control, according to a large international poll commissioned by Univision in 2014. Seventy-three percent of Catholics in Latin America said that abortion should be allowed in some or all cases, and 91 percent supported the use of contraceptives — a higher percentage even than in Europe or the United States.

[…]

“The Vatican is very well aware of the seriousness of this issue, and the Holy Father is very aware of it,” Father Rosica said. “We’re waiting to see how the local churches in those countries respond.”

But Father Rosica said church teaching on abortion and contraception remains the same. The Zika epidemic, he said, presents “an opportunity for the church to recommit itself to the dignity and sacredness of life, even in very precarious moments like this.”

The five countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that have advised women to delaypregnancy are Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Colombia and Jamaica. But access to contraception is limited throughout the region, especially for poor and rural women. Abortion is restricted in many countries, and it is illegal without exceptions in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Nicaragua, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

[…]

There is no vaccine for the Zika virus, and no cure for microcephaly. The World Health Organization this monthdeclared the Zika epidemic an international public health emergency. The organization advised that women should have full access to a range of contraceptive options, as well as “safe abortion services to the full extent of the law.”

Many church officials are wary that the Zika epidemic will lead to the loosening of laws on abortion and contraception. Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras, who serves on Pope Francis’ nine-member advisory council, denounced the notion of “therapeutic abortions” for women carrying babies with microcephaly. He spoke at a Mass attended by the Honduran president and first lady.

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Another link on the Zika epidemic….WHO: $56 Million Needed To Combat Zika Virus Through June

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday that $56 million were needed to combat the Zikavirus until June, including for the fast-tracking of vaccines, diagnostics and research studies into how it spreads.

The funds, including $25 million for the WHO and its regional office, would also be used to control the mosquito-borne virus that has spread to 39 countries, including 34 in the Americas, and has been linked to birth defects in Brazil.

“Possible links with neurological complications and birth malformations have rapidly changed the risk profile for Zika from a mild threat to one of very serious proportions,” WHO director-general Margaret Chan said in the WHO Strategic Response Framework and Joint Operations Plan issued in Geneva.

The WHO expects the funds to come from member states and other donors and said that in the meantime it has tapped a new emergency contingency fund for $2 million to finance its initial operations.

Chan will travel to Brazil from Feb 22-24 to review Zika-related measures supported by WHO and will meet the health minister, a WHO spokeswoman said.

The United Nations health agency declared the Zika outbreak a global public health emergency on Feb 1, noting its association with two neurological disorders, microcephaly in babies and Guillain-Barre syndrome that can cause paralysis.

Brazil is investigating the potential link between Zika infections and more than 4,300 suspected cases of microcephaly, a condition marked by abnormally small head size that can result in developmental problems.

More at the link.

Just a question…and it is a offensive one at that…since my life is defined by classic film and movies, the flick “Freaks!” (Yeah, I’m going there.) Didn’t the pinheads suffer from microcephaly? Innit that the same thing as this Zika virus? NWLuna? School me right!

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Shit, I said I wasn’t going to mention the idiots of the election: Trump Surrogate Blows Up Panel Discussion By Referring To ‘Big Boobs’ | Crooks and Liars

There is a reason for this…I promise.

Nothing says 2016 political discourse like a Trump surrogate and supporter calling out another panelist’s “big boobs” on Fox Business. I’m pretty sure all those stock market geeks tuning into Fox Biz were delighted by it.

Transcript viaMediaite:

Manigault: Yes, so let’s talk about Iraq and let’s talk about Donald Trump’s position. When Ta-mah-ra says that Donald Trump’s–

Holder: Tah-mara. It’s Tah-mara.

Manigault: It’s the same difference. You want to come on with big boobs, then you deal with the pronunciation of your name. Look. Donald Trump stands firm on what his position is about us going into Iraq —

Baritromo: Wait a second! Why are you bringing up Tamara’s boobs? I don’t understand why you brought up Tamara’s boobs.

The C&L post makes a point about why the mention of boobs is made:

Poor Maria just cannot understand. It’s because it gets attention, Maria! Mention boobs and every man watching looks up from his otherwise boring work to see what the catfight is all about.

Of course, it’s also crass and sexist but that’s what Trump’s campaign embodies. And who better than Omarosa to speak for Trump about some other woman’s breasts?

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I think it is just a carry over of the Sexist and Misogynistic culture (as related to rape culture) that is allowed to flourish as Sexual Harassment in our high school’s and college’s locker rooms…as discussed in this article from Deadspin: How Tennessee’s Sexual Harassment Allegations Caught Up With Peyton Manning 20 Years Later

This is a very long read, I know that BB has written post on Manning before, but please take some time and look it over.

In 1996, the summer before Peyton Manning’s junior season at the University of Tennessee, with his Vols a national championship contender, associate trainer Jamie Whited—later Jamie Naughright, after her divorce—filed an employment discrimination complaint. In that complaint, filed with the Tennessee Human Rights Commission and Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, she listed 27 specific examples of sexual harassment and discrimination she claimed to have experienced while working for Tennessee’s athletics department.

Athletes, she said, called her breasts “midgets.” One athlete called the women at the sexual assault crisis center center “white ‘male hating’ females.” And her concerns about violence by athletes toward women were “played down by my supervisors, and an effort was made to shield the student athletes.”

It was accusation No. 27 that lives on, though. An unnamed athlete, later identified as Peyton Manning, “pulled his pants down and exposed himself to me, as I was bent over examining his foot after asking me several questions.”

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“Despite the above referenced complaints,” her filing said, “no effective remedial action has been taken by coaches, or other supervisor personnel. Instead complaints of sexual harassment are treated as jokes and efforts are made to protect the student athletes, and cover-up the complaint.”

Naughright settled with Tennessee. The investigative report on her allegations, compiled by Tennessee’s Office of Diversity Resources and Educational Resources (DRES) repeatedly finds that she was “not subjected to unwelcome sexual conduct,” and that “many of the individual allegations involved conduct that was not sexual in nature.” Her accusation against Manning seemed destined to become another incident written off as a young man’s foolishness.

Her claims and the investigative findings read differently, though, in the context of a wide-reaching Title IX lawsuit recently filed against the University of Tennessee, which describes Tennessee as having cultivated a “deliberate indifference to known sexual assaults so as to create a hostile sexual environment.” So, too, does her long legal history with Manning, recently brought back to public attention by the Daily Beast’s Robert Silverman and bythe New York Daily News’s Shaun King publishing a 74-page “facts of the case”from Naughright’s 2002 defamation suit against Manning. That document outlines, from the perspective of her lawyers, a claim that the Manning family and Tennessee essentially covered up a case of sexual assault to protect the star quarterback.

It will get you going…be prepared for the usual excuses and typical outcomes.

Let us see if the new combat roles for women change the way the military works…Exclusive: Report shows Marines’ shifting approach to women in combat – CSMonitor.com

The Marines have long been resistant to including women in combat units. But a Pentagon document obtained by the Monitor offers a more optimistic view.

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 Check it out…details emerge on the new airline plans for Cuba:

U.S., Cuba sign civil aviation accord in Havana as Cuba’s foreign trade minister visits Washington | Miami Herald

I always loved the way this man’s name sounded when I was a kid…now comes news of his death: United Nations News Centre – UN mourns death of former Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali

Another death, this time an actor. You may remember him in Tootsie and Mel Brooks To Be or Not To Be: George Gaynes Dead: ‘Police Academy’ Star Dies at 98 – Hollywood Reporter

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The rest in link dump format, because it is really getting late:

Apple CEO Tim Cook opposes court order to help FBI unlock San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone

Global food production needs ‘significant’ fertiliser boost – BBC News– This talks about the phosphate shortage. In Florida, you could spot a phosphate mine miles away. (Well, I don’t know about technically miles…but damn if you could not see them from across the bay.) Our science class would have field trips inside those mountain valley holes to look for fossils. Anyway, give that link a moment of your time.

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Scalia’s Death Might Have Saved Abortion Rights | Mother Jones

Survival Mode: Growing Up With Violence – Al Jazeera English

CDC investigates why so many students in wealthy Palo Alto, Calif., commit suicide – The Washington Post

U.S. Health Officials Are Finally Paying Attention To Palo Alto School Suicides

Teen suicide clusters in Palo Alto: Is media attention at fault? – CSMonitor.com

Let’s end it with two videos….

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Voting (HBO) – YouTube

Syrian Refugees Part 1 | Full Frontal with Samantha Bee | TBS – YouTube

This is an open thread..post what you want…

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Wednesday Make-Up: A Laugh and Two, Ending on a Sharp Note.

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Uh, Boy!

 

I slacked off on Friday…with Christmas and all…there was no Friday Nite Lite thread. Well, I will make-up for it now with a comic filled post. I’ll throw some links in that you might find interesting.

 

 

12/29/2015 Cartoon by John R. Rose

Cartoon by John R. Rose -

 

Trump Cards: 12/29/2015 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Trump Cards

 

This next one is a local NC cartoon, but the same could be said for the GOP asswipes in any double red State:  12/29/2015 Cartoon by John Cole

Cartoon by John Cole -

 

In Louisiana and several other states: 30,000 Louisianans Scheduled to Lose Food Stamps | Al Jazeera America

Joanika Davis relies on the $194 per month she receives in food stamp benefits every month to help her get by as she searches for employment.

But on Jan. 1, Davis is set to lose that financial lifeline — one of approximately 31,000 Louisianians set to suffer as a result of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s decision to reinstate the work requirement for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in his state.

SNAP rules typically allow full benefits to single able-bodied adults only if they have jobs or are enrolled in a job-training program. Otherwise, they may access food stamp benefits for no more than three months every three years. States with high unemployment can apply for a federal waiver, dropping that work requirement and allowing single adults to access full benefits regardless of their job status.

Since the beginning of the Great Recession, nearly every state in the country sought and was granted a federal waiver at some point. But recently, a number of states with Republican governors have allowed their waivers to expire, citing improved economic circumstances and a desire to get their food stamp recipients back to work. Jindal, a Republican, allowed Louisiana’s waiver to lapse on Oct. 1.

“We continue to seek opportunities for SNAP recipients to increase their self-sufficiency. Engaging in work activities is a key step in that transition,” said Suzy Sonnier, the head of Louisiana’s Department of Children and Family Services, in a Sept. 30 statement.

Starting in January, Davis, who told Al Jazeera that she is still hunting for a job, will have to find ways to make up a monthly shortfall of nearly $200. “Why should I have to fight for food right now?” she asked. “Why should I have to fight to drink water?”

And it is not only people in Louisiana who are losing out.

Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming have recently allowed the work requirement to be reimposed, leaving 28 states with their food stamp waivers intact in fiscal year 2016.

The people affected by the reinstatement of the work requirement tend to be among the poorest of the poor, according to an analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, an economic think tank. In 2014 able-bodied, childless, unemployed adults on food stamps had an average of $2,200 in gross income, the center found.

It also found that states that reimpose the work requirement tend to see a sudden sharp drop in SNAP participants, suggesting that thousands of unemployed recipients are unable to find work and maintain their eligibility.

“The idea that anybody is choosing not to work because of $190 dollars a month in food stamps — that’s really kind of a stereotype,” said Steve Spires, a senior policy analyst for the Louisiana Budget Project. “The reality is a lot of people want to work. There simply aren’t jobs…”

 

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon: 12/29/2015 Cartoon by Clay Bennett

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

On the latest Trump news: 25% of Donald Trump’s political spending goes to his own companies – Quartz

“It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it,” Donald Trump told Fortune in 2000, during his first abortive run for president.

He was referring to a $1 million motivational speaking deal he got from Tony Robbins that he timed to coincide with his campaign stops. Then, he didn’t dominate the headlines—apparently the Clinton-Bush-Gore psychodrama was more compelling—and Trump’s greatest accomplishment was winning the Reform party nomination in California with a scant 15,311 votes. (His bon mots haven’t changed much—Fortune refers to “his usual critiques of Pat Buchanan (‘a Hitler lover’), Bill Bradley (‘a total disaster’), George W. Bush (‘no Einstein’), Fidel Castro (‘a bad guy’), North Korea (‘run by some very bad people’), and Russia (‘totally mixed up’).”)

This time around, as the leading candidate for the Republican nomination, he operates on a more rarified and lucrative plane: Trump’s companies have already earned $1.4 million from his campaign.

The billionaire builder often argues that his wealth guarantees his political independence, and describes his campaign as “self-funding.” That’s no longer true: While he was the main source of campaign funds during the early part of his run, the most recent financial disclosures through the end of September 2015, show Trump put less money into his campaign than his donors—and he stands to profit in particular from their backing.

Like the article says…”Follow the money.” And read the rest at the link.

 

Bruce Plante Cartoon: That Drone: 12/29/2015 Cartoon by Bruce Plante

Cartoon by Bruce Plante - Bruce Plante Cartoon: That Drone

12/29/2015 Cartoon by Nick Anderson

Cartoon by Nick Anderson -

 

The storms this Christmas have been terrible….The Mississippi River Is About to Have a Record Flood Completely Out of Season

The Mississippi River is flooding in a big way right now, at the wrong time of year, and is forecasted to match or break 22-year-old crest records over the next few days. Meteorologists are calling it “insane.”

Over the next three to four days, the Mississippi is predicted to reach a crest height of 49.7 feet at Chester, Illinois, one of several locations where the National Weather Service records data about the river. As of Tuesday afternoon, the river has already risen to 40.8 feet. According to Taylor Trogdon, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Memphis, that is an “absolutely remarkable” forecast.

 

The “great flood of 1993,” as it has come to be known, was “one of the most significant and damaging natural disasters ever to hit the United States,” according to a National Weather Service hydrologist, writing in 1996. “Damages totaled $15 billion, 50 people died, hundreds of levees failed, and thousands of people were evacuated, some for months.”

TRUMPNADO: 12/29/2015 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - TRUMPNADO

JEB RESOLUTION: 12/28/2015 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - JEB RESOLUTION

NAUGHTY LIST: 12/24/2015 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - NAUGHTY LIST

THE DONALD: 12/17/2015 Cartoon by Deb Milbrath

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - THE DONALD

Cruz’s Daughters: 12/27/2015 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Cruz's Daughters

 

A few links regarding Cruz:

Cruz supporters are just as bonkers as Trump’s: Obama ‘ruined our country, ruined Christmas’

A woman spoke to C-SPAN at a recent Cruz rally in Mechanicsville, Virginia, where she explained that she intended to vote for the Texas Republican to drive President Barack Obama, who is constitutionally prohibited from seeking a third term, from office.

“I don’t like Obama no more,” the woman explained. “He’s ruined our country, ruined Christmas. He’s let the Muslims in. We can’t say that word, we’ve got to be ashamed of it — and we’re not ashamed people. We’re a proud people, and we’re gonna take our country back. So watch out, Obama! We’re coming.”

The reporter asked the woman to explain how Obama had ruined Christmas.

“He’s scared the little children,” she said. “They’re not allowed to have Santa Claus in the schools where, you know, it might offend the Muslims. But what about us?”

The woman’s loopy rant was reminiscent of remarks made earlier this month by Trump supporter Susan DeLemus, a New Hampshire state representative, during a CNN focus group.

“We’ve got people in positions of power who I know for a fact are liars. Liars!” DeLemus said. “I watch the TV — My president comes on the TV and he lies to me! I know he’s lying. He lies all the time.”

Cruz himself is a nut:

Via Conservative Tribune. com (I won’t quote the thing cause I don’t want any crazy Cruz troll nuts here making trouble…) you can look it up by the title of the article: Ted Cruz Issues Huge Statement on What the Bible Says About Killing Muslims… This Is Brutal

Sen. Ted Cruz said that he would not be violating his Christian faith if he followed through on his vow to “carpet bomb” Islamic State group militants — a statement that’s sure to upset liberals across the country.

The Texas Republican and presidential candidate told Newsmax Wednesday: ”Let’s be clear, the Bible says, ‘Thou shalt not murder,’ which is different from ‘Thou shalt not kill.’”

“Defending yourself is an obligation of any president. It is not murder,” Cruz added in the interview with Ed Berliner on “The Hard Line.”

What the fuck is that? Justified killing for “Jesus.” Sounds like what a religious zealot says after shooting and killing a bunch of innocent people at a Planned Parenthood Clinic.

But wait there is more:

Cruz pointed out that while America killed Nazis in World War II, it wasn’t murder.

“When you have the face of evil that has declared war … then it is the essence of duty to defend your nation, to defend the innocent,” he said. “When it comes to jihadists, they have declared war on us, and that’s what President Obama and Hillary Clinton refuse to acknowledge.”

The leader of the United States should fight radical Islam the same way President Ronald Reagan fought the Soviets when bringing an end to the Cold War, Cruz said. Reagan aimed his foreign policy around the notion of defeating communism — a strategy of “we win, they lose.”

Reagan “championed tax reform and regulatory reform,” Cruz said, which “unchained the American economy.” The economic growth that resulted from from his reform allowed the former president to rebuild the military and challenge Soviet communism “on every front, strategically we bankrupted the Soviet Union and won the Cold War.”

There is recorded sound from the interview at the conservative tribune link…if you must hear it. Five fucking minutes of this shit. Of course the CT (cuntservative tribune) is all hard for Cruz.

Speaking of Reagan…up next, a link sent to me from Boston Boomer: Behind the Ronald Reagan myth: “No one had ever entered the White House so grossly ill informed” – Salon.com

Reagan embarrassed himself in news conferences, Cabinet meetings. Recalling how GOP cringed at his lack of interest

I always thought Reagan was much further gone with Alzheimer’s than we’re all led on now to believe…if that makes any sense. (As I am probably in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s myself.)

For BB: The Six Most Interesting Psychology Papers of 2015 – The New Yorker

I thought many of you would find this a good read: Sudan’s midwives take on Female Genital Mutilation

And this: 15 Remarkable Women of Color Who Rocked 2015 | Colorlines

This little tidbit: 8 Crazy Cuban New Year’s Eve Traditions — My Big Fat Cuban Family: A Cuban-American Blog

My Granny would throw a bucket of water out the back door, to wash away the bad luck from the last year…I don’t remember if it was dirty water or not.  Actually…I think she would toss a big pot of water. (One of her big cooking pots full…) So it would not be “dirty” and maybe that is why it never worked? She always had terrible luck…

 

Bruce Plante Cartoon: Bill and Hillary; Running Mates: 12/27/2015 Cartoon by Bruce Plante

Cartoon by Bruce Plante - Bruce Plante Cartoon: Bill and Hillary; Running Mates

12/26/2015 Cartoon by John Branch

Cartoon by John Branch -

Trump’s Flying Monkeys: 12/28/2015 Cartoon by Paul Fell

Cartoon by Paul Fell - Trump's Flying Monkeys

 

After U.S. Refuses Entry To British Muslims, Indian Students Are Being Turned Away In Droves | ThinkProgress

Twenty Indian students carrying valid student visas for colleges in California were denied entry in Chicago and put on planes back to India on Sunday, following other incidents of the U.S. turning away people from certain countries.

The U.S. is in a heightened state of vigilance since the terror attacks in Paris, France and San Bernardino, California. One of the shooters in San Bernardino came in on a fiance visa, prompting concern that potential terrorists could find loopholes to enter the country on valid visas or through the visa waiver program, which allows citizens of friendly countries to visit the United States without visas.

Some foreigners have already been barred from entering the country without being told why. Last week, a British Muslim family planning a trip to Disneyland was told by United Kingdom border officials that they wouldn’t be allowed to board a plane to the United States. Another 20 British Muslim families were reportedly denied entry into the United States without explanation.

 

12/28/2015 Cartoon by Randy Bish

Cartoon by Randy Bish -

Present Danger: 12/24/2015 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Present Danger

Jingle Trump: 12/22/2015 Cartoon by Rob Rogers

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Jingle Trump

All Purpose Hate Speech: 12/24/2015 Cartoon by Monte Wolverton

Cartoon by Monte Wolverton - All Purpose Hate Speech

So Long to the Year of Trump: 12/24/2015 Cartoon by Sage Stossel

Cartoon by Sage Stossel - So Long to the Year of Trump

From Riese via AutoStraddle.com: Our Picks For 2015’s Best Longform By Women

Hey, so, maybe you’ve heard about this gender byline gap? Like how in print, men make up about 62% of bylines in the most widely circulated newspapers, and 58% of those at the top four online news sites, (according to the Women’s Media Center). Or how women head fewer major US newspapers today than they did 10 years ago and are underrepresented in op-eds, book reviews and photojournalism. Or maybe you read that article by Dayna Evans on Matter about the otherwise progressive Gawker Media’s treatment of women, which noted that if Jezebel was excluded from the company’s editorial statistics, its staff would be 28% female. (It’s 38% female with Jezebel included.) Perhaps you’re aware that racial diversity in media is even worse — people of color account for only 13.34% of journalists at daily newspapers.

I’ve been assembling weekly, and then bi-weekly, lists of the web’s best longform for Autostraddle for four years now, and because of all those reasons above (and because we love women around here), I wanted to do a year-end round-up of the best longform written by women. I qualified “longform” as containing 3,000 words or more, but there are ten or so articles I included despite falling under that word count. I wanted a racially diverse group of writers and I wanted to represent as many independent and women’s publications as possible — which was tougher than I’d hoped, as most mainstream women’s magazines and even some of the most hyped new media sites for women rarely publish articles over 2,000 words. Independent women’s publications, like ours, face serious budget constraints when it comes to commissioning longer pieces outside of personal essays. But even well-funded properties go light on women’s longform; it remains far easier to find longform by women in major men’s magazines like GQ and Esquire than their female counterparts, like Elle and Vogue. As Amanda Hess wrote in Slate following a controversy regarding a male-dominated Port Magazine feature about the future of print media, “I hope we can also take this opportunity to question why women’s writing is aligned so heavily with personal essays and service journalism — the forms that are the cheapest and ad-friendliest to produce.”

That being said, it wasn’t hard to find women writing amazing shit all over the internet. Longreadswas an incredible resource for me when putting this together, and if you don’t follow them, you really ought to. Specifically, Emily Perper does some incredible work over there. And although I remain bitter that Longform.org has yet to include our site on their app or website, I’m madly in love with their app and their website, and have been for years.

In some of the reporting pieces, men also were writers of the piece. I only selected a piece that had men involved if there were equal or more women involved.

In other news dealing with Women and GLBT’s Issues:

Hospital Refuses Pregnancy-Related Care Again Because of Religious Directives | American Civil Liberties Union  Another Catholic Hospital..

Religious Universities Get Exemption to Discriminate Against LGBTQ Students, Faculty

Forty-three religious universities applied for waivers in 2015 that will allow them to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. The Department of Education approved twenty-two of those requests, and the rest remain pending,BuzzFeed reported.

The number of schools seeking these waivers has spiked in recent years, jumping from one school in 2012 to 43 this year, according to a new report from the Human Rights Campaign.

Another story not getting much notice: Manning: Healing Continues 125 Years After Wounded Knee Massacre – ICTMN.com

This year marks the 125thanniversary of the Wounded Knee massacre. On December 29, 1890, as many as 300 innocent and unarmed Lakota men, women, children, infants, and elders were gunned down by the United States 7thCavalry at Wounded Knee Creek in South Dakota. After the bloodshed, Chief Big Foot (Spotted Elk) and his band lie dead in the snow where they remained frozen for three days, until all were buried in a mass grave.

For decades, the Wounded Knee massacre was masqueraded as a battle, and marked in many American history books as such. A few months following the massacre, the United States government awarded 20 troops of the U.S. 7thCavalry with the Medal of Honor, and to this day, those medals have yet to be rescinded.

 

12/24/2015 Cartoon by Chan Lowe

Cartoon by Chan Lowe -

12/23/2015 Cartoon by Chan Lowe

Cartoon by Chan Lowe -

12/24/2015 Cartoon by John Cole

Cartoon by John Cole -

12/24/2015 Cartoon by Tim Eagan

Cartoon by Tim Eagan -

Now some other links…Science, History and Art, oh…and a huge ass natural gas leak in California:

Training The Immune System To Fight Cancer Has 19th-Century Roots : Shots – Health News : NPR

Ancient DNA sheds light on Irish origins – BBC News

Genetic Study Traces the Origins of the Irish – Archaeology Magazine

Fishermen Report Medieval Shipwreck Off Italy’s Southern Coast – Archaeology Magazine

We Ask Some Art World Luminaries to Pick the Best & Worst of 2015

Here’s what the English language sounded like 500 years ago

“Unstoppable” California gas leak being called worst catastrophe since BP spill

 

Gas is escaping through a ruptured pipe more than 8,000 feet underground, and it shows no signs of stopping,” as according to the California Air Resources Board, methane – a greenhouse gas 72 times more impactful in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide – has been escaping from the Aliso Canyon site with force equivalent “to a volcanic eruption” for about two months now.

New infrared footage exposes the massive leak…

Go to link to see that video…also looks like Erin Brockovich is working on this…

Infographic of leak (and potential solution)

As TheAntiMedia.org’s Claire Bernish details, methane gas continues spewing, unchecked, into the air over southern California from a fractured well to an underground storage site — at such an alarming rate that low-flying planes have necessarily been diverted by the FAA, lest internal combustion engines meet highly volatile gas and, well, blow the entire area to hell.  

This is, indeed, the biggest environmental catastrophe since the BP Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010; and for now, there is no way to stop it.

This methane disaster is worse than can be sufficiently described in words, because while it’s estimated well over 100,000 pounds of methane spew into the atmosphere every hour, the leak can’t be halted, at least until spring. Even then, that stoppage depends entirely on the efficacy of a proposed fix — which remains a dubiously open question.

Yeah, I am ending it on that disturbing note. There is plenty more at the link…it is a very long read. (I will say it is via a website called intellihub.com. I am not familiar with that site, however…they do quote from reliable sources i.e. LATimes, CBS News, NY Daily News, court documents etc., which you can also verify by clicking those links within the article itself.)  In fact I would also suggest you read the comments…it may lead you to research into more natural gas leaks you can look up on Google…some fun for ya on the crust of the shitty year “2015” as we head over the cusp of the new year “2016.”

12/28/2015 Cartoon by Ann Cleaves

Cartoon by Ann Cleaves -

 

That does it for this Wednesday’s post…y’all enjoy this last couple of days of 2015!

What is going on in your part of the world? This is an open thread…


Woman in Red: Debate, Election and the Shutdown…The GOP’s Albescent-churian Candidate

Womaninred

 

Good Morning

As promised…I bring you the latest edition of The Woman in Red….(It has taken me days, in fact almost the last 24 hours has been straight on through.)

You can read the earlier issues at these links:

The Woman in Red: Protector of the Uteri, Defender of Vajayjay Rights and Fighter Against the #WarOnWomen | Sky Dancing

The Woman In Red: Against The Monsters On The Hill… A comic-ill perspective observation | Sky Dancing

The Woman In Red: Battle of the Sexes…Fight Until the Vacuum Cleaner is Broken | Sky Dancing

As before, click the image to see the full size…and then click on the image itself to enlarge the picture, otherwise you will not be able to read the captions.

So….here we go!

Woman in Red:

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Debate, Election and the Shutdown…

The GOP’s Albescent-churian Candidate

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Tonight is the Republican Presidential Candidate Debate…..

4 things to watch in Wednesday’s Republican debate | MSNBC

Republican Presidential Debate 2015: Start Time, TV Channel, Radio Info For Second GOP Debate

Gloves likely to come off at second GOP 2016 debate – NY Daily News

 

Let’s take you to the debate venue, shortly before the event is to begin……

 

wir debate

 

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outside of debate

 

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debate in progress

 

fox cover debate

 

debate result

 

reaction

 

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wir spe

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wir spe com

 

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Bloody hell, I am exhausted!

Hope you enjoyed this edition of The Woman in Red, and the introduction of the new arch nemesis…S.P.Ermand…The Sperm Man!

This is an open thread.


Wednesday Reads: Getting Medieval on the GOP’s Ass!

015869e914b4837726f0e88eeec3b043e2fb7bdbadHey Y’all

I could not bear to write a post today. So just take this one for what it is, my overzealous attempt to find a few Medieval images for the thread that reminded me of the GOP idiots who are running or announcing that they are running for Prez…in 2016. I was looking and next thing I know it is four am…go figure.

So, I decided to post the illuminations, manuscripts,  marginalia, bestiary, cheeky monkeys and the like with my own various commentary. Most of which will call back to the clowns that Boston Boomer and Dakinikat have been talking about lately. The images below are found here:

J.J. Lopez Minkoff on Pinterest

and here:  Pinterest: Getting Medieval On Your Ass

 

So the captions within the slide show are just my observations. Click on the links above for the information on the links.

Just a few that are beyond the scope of the political references that are the theme of the post today.

 

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This reminds me of the Seinfeld episode with the marbled rye…“Seinfeld” The Rye (TV Episode 1996) – IMDb it airs tomorrow by the way on TBS.

 

The next image is also from a Seinfeld episode.

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Little Jerry was born to cock fight! “Seinfeld” The Little Jerry (TV Episode 1997) – IMDb

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Little Jerry is lean, mean, peckin’ machine!

 

 

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Tamale!

Okay, now for the slide show…click on the first picture below, it should open up to the larger gallery slide show….if you cannot read the full caption under the image, use the down arrow on your keyboard, it should work to move the text so you can read the entire entry.

 

 

This is an open thread.


Wednesday Reads: Safe…or not safe?

8785b62ad983646e2a97b9280b2a18baGood Morning

Sorry this is so late, I just could not get it together this morning. Let’s continue to blame it on the DISH blackout of my favorite and sanity saving Turner Broadcasting channel: TCM.

Starting off this post with a contradiction…at least I think it is.

New York City’s public transport system ranked world’s safest for women | Al Jazeera America

Compared to 15 of the world’s largest capital cities, New York City has the safest public transportation system for women and Bogotá has the most dangerous, according to a survey published Tuesday by Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Researchers surveyed more than 6,000 women in the 15 most populous world capitals and New York City to gauge women’s experiences with harassment and violence while riding public transportation. Survey questions focused on how safe women felt taking public transportation after dark, perceived risk and experience with verbal and physical harassment, the likelihood of bystander assistance and trust in authorities handling reported cases.

Cities were then scored and ranked in order of how safe their public transport systems are for women.

I always felt safe in the NYC subway system myself. But then that was back in 2000…while in DC a few years ago, that subway scared the crap outta me.

New York City led the pack with Tokyo and Beijing coming in second and third. Latin American cities ranked the lowest, with Bogotá being the worst, and Mexico City and Lima not too far ahead.

“Public transport is a nightmare,” explained Beatriz Rodriguez, 26, a domestic worker and resident of Bogotá. “Mobile phones are frequently stolen, and you can be a victim of harassment as I’ve been.”

“At first I thought what I felt against my back was a bag, but when I turned around, I realized it was a man rubbing up against me, exposing himself,” she lamented. “It’s disgusting to have to face this on your way to work.”

Safe transport

The survey’s findings reveal far-reaching consequences for women, especially those who live in low- or middle-income areas where they “tend to be more reliant on public transport and on non-motorized means,” said Mary Crass, head of policy at the International Transport Forum, an Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) think-tank.

“When there is not frequent, reliable, accessible transport, this can affect women and anyone’s ability to access opportunity and notably employment in urban areas, which can make a big difference for women in particular,” she added.

In the United States, a record 40 percent of all households with children under 18 include mothers who are the sole or primary source of income for the family. Single mothers, with a median annual income of $23,000, are more likely to be dependent on public transportation to commute to their jobs, according to a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

In New York City 30 percent of women surveyed reported having experienced verbal or physical abuse while riding the city’s public transportation system, while in Mexico City more than 60 percent reported such violence.

Now I am glad that AJam mentioned the NYC verbal abuse because this is the subject of my next link:

Watch This Woman Receive 100 Catcalls While Walking Around For A Day

What is the scariest part of this video…is the dude who follows her around for a while and does not let up.

 

Ten hours of walking around New York City, 100 catcalls and one huge problem.

Rob Bliss of Rob Bliss Creative makes viral videos for a living and decided to use his craft to shine a light on street harassment, a pervasive issue affecting females around the world. Partnering with actress Shoshana B. Roberts and Hollaback, a nonprofit movement launched by activists to end street harassment, Bliss packaged his production as a PSA and offers viewers a different perspective on the problem.

“I felt like no one had ever really shown what it’s like to experience street harassment, more or less,” Bliss told The Huffington Post. “No one has — from a third-party perspective, on the outside looking in — been able to step back and look at it and watch it happen in front of them.”

81fdbbffe84fb39d68085fa029214848 His intent, he said, was to offer an “unbiased” look at what many women experience on a daily basis. “No messaging. No judgement. Let people view it as it is and talk about,” he added.

During filming, Bliss attached a GoPro camera to his back with a chest strap; he wore a yellow backpack, sunglasses and earbuds to look unassuming while walking five to 10 feet ahead of Roberts, who held two microphones in her hands. The actress wore simple clothes for the shoot: jeans and a black, crew-neck T-shirt.

“It was completely intentional that she wore what she wore,” Bliss said. “I wanted to fight back against the ‘Oh, she’s wearing blah blah blah.’ I didn’t want to give ammunition to anyone who may detract from this video. If she wanted to wear something that showed more skin, I definitely think that guys would have been louder and more vocal about this.”

Well, this is where you get down to it…

In 10 hours of walking, Roberts faced more than 100 instances of street harassment. Responses ranged from catcalls — “beautiful,” “sexy,” “God bless you” — to angry remarks.

“Somebody’s acknowledging you for being beautiful. You should say thank you more,” one man said.

“You don’t wanna talk? Because I’m ugly? We can’t be friends, nothing? You don’t speak?” another persisted.

Multiple men walked with Roberts for extended periods of time. One remained silently at her side for five minutes.

“I was going in blind without expectations, especially as a guy,” Bliss told HuffPost. “I was very surprised that we had so much interaction, some of it being as aggressive as it was, [like] the stalking that was involved repeatedly from different groups. That blew my mind. It made me sick to my stomach. I felt something I had never really felt before, almost feeling as if I were in her shoes. I didn’t experience it personally, but I was in such close proximity to it.”

Roberts was not immediately available for comment when contacted by HuffPost, but she told Hollaback, “I’m harassed when I smile and I’m harassed when I don’t. I’m harassed by white men, black men, Latino men. Not a day goes by when I don’t experience this.”

Read more about the group called HollaBack:

Hollaback! You have the power to end street harassment  A non-profit and movement to end street harassment powered by local activists in 79 cities and 26 countries 

Since this post is so damn late, I will give you a quick trip through the rest of today’s links.

Bill Cosby has another actress giving details of abuse: Actress Details Years of Alleged Rape and Manipulation by Bill Cosby

How I wish Obama had never opened the Birth Control religious conscience can of worms…New birth-control rules found too demanding : SCOTUSblog

There is a shit can of worms that should be opened here in Georgia. I am talking about a whole mess of voters that seem to be totally fucked over: BREAKING: Court Refuses To Intervene In Case of 40,000 Missing Voters In Georgia | ThinkProgress

When I saw this next headline, I immediately thought of Brawndo…it’s got electrolytes. But seriously: BBC News – UN urges salt-damage solution to reduce threat to crops

About 2,000 hectares of fertile land are lost each day due to damage caused by salt, according to a UN analysis.

The total area now affected is equivalent to the size of France – 62 million hectares – which has increased from 45 million 20 years ago.

In other “science” news: Vaccine ‘success’ raises hopes of saving koalas from chlamydia  Now that is something hopefully one day we will have a vaccine for humans.

Sticking with science stuff: Pope reminds Catholics: evolution, Big Bang are true | Ars Technica

Pope Francis took a stroll yesterday from the Vatican guest house apartment where he lives over to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences to unveil a bust of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. The bust itself is rather Teutonically foreboding, but the most interesting bit of the unveiling came when Francis made a short speech to assembled members of the Academy. Though only a few paragraphs long (and currently available only in Italian; the translation below is unofficial), Francis’s remarks focused largely on evolution—still a controversial doctrine in parts of the worldwide Christian church.

“When we read in Genesis the account of Creation, we are in danger of imagining that God was a magician, complete with a magic wand capable of doing anything,” Francis said. “But he was not. He created beings and let them develop in accordance with the internal laws that He has given to each one.”

Tell it to the right-wing bible thumping nuts who think the world is only 6,000 years old.

More at the link.

And hey…since we’ve got articles on birth control in humans…chlamydia in koalas…how about A battle for ant sperm?

8c3319c725bc93094041cefc7d5d811eAnd a little something on:  Spiders and transgenic goats lead to new silk road | Al Jazeera America

For scientists around the world, a multibillion dollar prize has been hiding from them in cobwebs floating just above their office desks.

It’s the hunt for spider silk — and an efficient way to make a lot of it — that has evaded researchers for the last two decades. But why are they after spider silk?

As Professor Randy Lewis of Utah State University puts it, it’s the “ancient biomaterial of the future.” Spiders have made their silk for 400 million years, and we’re just now beginning to realize just how strong, absorbent and useful it is.

The other story about the goats: From spiders to goats in search of silk | Al Jazeera America

There is a new app that looks like it will be beneficial: UK charity launches app to scan for suicidal tweets

And if you don’t feel suicidal now…take a look at this funny thread from TBogg: It’s a Very Duggar Wedding Registry: What would Jesus buy?

The reality that these Duggar people are out there, and they have a following…and that following votes, should be enough to get you tweeting things that could trigger that new Twitter app.

 

Finally, from Medievalist.net: The Re-medievalization of Halloween

From punkin chunkin to the newfound popularity of witches, the festival of Halloween is reaching back to the Middle Ages for its traditions. Is this a good thing for medievalists?

This is the question raised by M.J. Toswell in her paper, “The Dangers of the Search for Authencity? The Ethics of Hallowe’en”, which appears in the latest issue of Studies in Medievalism. The Western University professor examines how the popular North American holiday is in recent years seeking to give “a veritably medieval experience.”

 

Interesting read…give it a look.

All I know is that I am so ready to get medieval on DISH’s ass!

heracliteanfire:</p>
<p>‘Marginalia of the earliest known illustrated example of a witch on a broomstick in the 1451 manuscript, Hexenflug der Vaudoises (Flight of the Witches), authored by Martin Le France (1410-1461).’ (via Letterology: Halloween Heresy)<br />

heracliteanfire: ‘Marginalia of the earliest… | Illumanu

‘Marginalia of the earliest known illustrated example of a witch on a broomstick in the 1451 manuscript, Hexenflug der Vaudoises (Flight of the Witches), authored by Martin Le France (1410-1461).’ (via Letterology: Halloween Heresy)

 

Whats going on in your neck of the woods?


Thursday Reads: Religious Fascism Continues its March

Good Morning!

Soumaya YazidiI’ve been spending a lot of time studying all kinds of things on the Middle East recently because I believe the human rights violations committed by extremist religious states are dire.  It’s almost impossible to pick out a region of the world these days–or a continent–where religious extremists aren’t committing atrocities and removing the rights of others.

I want to start with ISIS.  ISIS is a radical Sunni Jihadist group that is tearing through parts of Iraq and Syria.  They are destroying historical sites, villages, homes, and competing religions in an attempt to create a homeland for radical Sunnis.  They have recently attacked the Yazidis and the Kurds.  Yazidis are a hybrid of various traditions of Islam–primarily of the Sufi school–and Zoroastrianism. There are hundreds of thousands of displaced citizens due to recent ISIS aggression into the region.

A humanitarian crisis that could turn into a genocide is taking place right now in the mountains of northwestern Iraq. It hasn’t made the front page, because the place and the people are obscure, and there’s a lot of other horrible news to compete with. I’ve learned about it mainly because the crisis has upended the life of someone I wrote about in the magazine several weeks ago.

Last Sunday, Karim woke up around 7:30 A.M., after coming home late the night before. He was about to have breakfast when his phone rang—a friend was calling to see how he was doing. Karim is a Yazidi, a member of an ancient religious minority in Iraq. Ethnically, he’s Kurdish. An engineer and a father of three young children, Karim spent years working for the U.S. Army in his area, then for an American medical charity. He’s been waiting for months to find out whether the U.S. government will grant him a Special Immigrant Visa because of his service, and because of the danger he currently faces.

Karim is from a small town north of the district center, Sinjar, between Mosul and the Syrian border. Sinjar is a historic Yazidi area with an Arab minority. Depending on who’s drawing the map, Sinjar belongs to either the northernmost part of Iraq or the westernmost part of Kurdistan. Since June, when extremist fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham captured Mosul, they’ve been on the outskirts of Sinjar, facing off against a small number of Kurdish peshmerga militiamen. ISIS regards Yazidis as devil worshippers, and its fighters have been executing Yazidi men who won’t convert to Islam on the spot, taking away the women as jihadi brides. So there were many reasons why a friend might worry about Karim.

“I don’t know,” Karim said. “My situation is O.K.” “No, it’s not O.K.!” his friend said. “Sinjar is under the control of ISIS.”

Karim had not yet heard this calamitous news. “I’ll call some friends and get back to you,” he said.

But the cell network was jammed, so Karim walked to his father’s house. His father told him that thousands of people from Sinjar were headed their way, fleeing north through the mountains to get out of Iraq and into Kurdistan. It suddenly became clear that Karim would have to abandon his home and escape with his family.

ISIS had launched its attack on Sinjar during the night. Peshmerga militiamen were outgunned—their assault rifles against the extremists’ captured fifty-caliber guns, rocket-propelled grenades, mortars, anti-aircraft weapons, and armored vehicles. The Kurds began to run out of ammunition, and those who could retreated north toward Kurdistan. By dawn, the extremists were pouring into town. Later, ISIS posted triumphant photos on Twitter: bullet-riddled corpses of peshmerga in the streets and dirt fields; an ISIS fighter aiming his pistol at the heads of five men lying face down on the ground; Arab locals who stayed in Sinjar jubilantly greeting the new occupiers.

Karim had time to do just one thing: burn all the documents that connected him to America—photos of him posing with Army officers, a CD from the medical charity—in case he was stopped on the road by militants or his house was searched. He watched the record of his experience during the period of the Americans in Iraq turn to ash, and felt nothing except the urge to get to safety.

 The Yezidi are now a diaspora trapped on a mountainside.   They practice some of the oldest religious traditions mankind invented and many of their osa_kidpractices and myths found their way to much younger traditions like Christianity.

They are scared of lettuce. They abhor pumpkins. They practise maybe the oldest religion in the world. And now, after at least 6,000 years, they are finally being exterminated, even as I write this.

If you haven’t noticed this epochal crime – the raping and the slaughter – you’re not alone. Of late, the world has focused on the horrors of Gaza. When we’ve had time to acknowledge the Satanic cruelties of Isis, in Iraq, we’ve looked to the barbaric treatment of women, and Christians. Yet the genocide of the Yezidi, by Isis, is as evil as anything going on right now in the Middle East; it is also uniquely destructive of a remarkable cultural survival.

So who are the Yezidi? Some years ago I studied them when researching a thriller. I also traveled to meet their small diaspora community, in Celle, north Germany. And what I found was astonishing.

Yezidism is much older than Islam, and much older than Christianity. It is also deeply peculiar. The Yezidi honour sacred trees. Women must not cut their hair. Marriage is forbidden in April. They avoid wearing dark blue because it is “too holy”.

They are divided strictly into castes, who cannot marry each other. The upper castes are polygamous. Anyone of the faith who marries a non-Yezidi risks ostracism, or worse. Yezidism is syncretistic: it combines elements of many faiths. Like Hindus, they believe in reincarnation. Like ancient Mithraists, they sacrifice bulls. They practise baptism, like Christians. When they pray, they face the sun – like Zoroastrians. There are also strong links with Sufism, the mystical branch of Islam.

Then there is the devil worship: arguably, the Yezidi worship what Christians or Muslims might call “Satan”, though the Yezidi call him “Melek Taus”, and he appears in the form of a peacock angel.

Why might Melek Taus be “the devil”? For a start, the Yezidi believe the peacock angel led a rebellion in heaven: clearly echoing the story of Lucifer, cast into Hell by the Christian God. Also, the very word “Melek” is cognate with “Moloch”, the name of a Biblical demon – who demanded human sacrifice.

The avian imagery of Melek Taus likewise indicates a demonic aspect. The Yezidi come from the ancient lands of Sumeria and Assyria, in modern-day Turkey, Iraq and Kurdistan. Sumerian gods were often cruel, and equipped with beaks and wings. Birdlike. Three thousand years ago the Assyrians worshipped flying demons, spirits of the desert wind. One was the scaly-winged demon in The Exorcist: Pazuzu.

The Yezidi reverence for birds – and snakes – also appears to be extremely old. Excavations at ancient Catalhoyuk, in Turkey, show that the people there revered bird-gods as long ago as 7000BC. Even older is Gobekli Tepe, a megalithic site near Sanliurfa, in Kurdish Turkey (Sanliurfa was once a stronghold of Yezidism). The extraordinary temple of Gobekli Tepe boasts carvings of winged birdmen, and images of buzzards and serpents.

Taking all this evidence into account, a fair guess is that Yezidism is a vastly ancient form of bird-worship, that could date back 6,000 years or more. If this is right, it means that Yezidism is therefore the Ur-religion, the mother ship of Middle Eastern faiths, and it is us who have incorporated Yezidi myths and beliefs into our religions, of Christianity and Islam and Judaism.

IsraelISIS is literally exterminating all those individuals of rival religions. It is destroying their places of worship and any historical artifacts related to their existence.

The Yezidi religion is part of the Kurdish identity. Iraqi Kurdistan’s flag eschews the crescent moon so common on the flags of Islamic countries and opts for fire imagery from the Yezidi religion instead. Many years ago I interviewed the president of Duhok University in Iraq Kurdistan and he seemed to speak for the majority when he professed his affection for these people and their ancient religion. “I am a Muslim,” he told me. “But I love the Yezidis. Theirs is the original religion of the Kurds. Only through the Yezidis can I speak to God in my own language.”

Sinjar is a Kurdish town, but it’s in Nineveh province outside the Kurdish autonomous region. The armed Kurdish Peshmerga forces operating there ran out of ammunition and had little choice but to retreat in the wake of the ISIS assault. Tens of thousands of civilians fled the area and are stranded atop a remote mountain without food, water, or shelter.

Eight years ago I visited the Yezidi “Mecca” in Lalish, Iraq, inside the Kurdish autonomous region a ways south of Duhok. This is where the Yezidis believe the universe was born. Eternal flames burn forever in little shrines. Baba Sheik, their leader, showed me around and took me into their temple.

“All people in the world should be brothers,” he said. “You are welcome here for the rest of your life.”

A Muslim child lies in a hammock at a refugee camp outside of SittweMeanwhile, we continue to witness the effects of the latest Israeli attack on Gaza.  This includes reactions that may surprise you.  Universities are supposed to grant professors academic freedom to express unpopular ideas.  It’s a hallmark of a free country and an open learning environment. Today, an Arab American professor has lost his job due to his open support of the Palestinian cause on Twitter.  I’m going to refer you to the blog of Corey Robin. 

Until two weeks ago, Steven Salaita was heading to a job at the University of Illinois as a professor of American Indian Studies. He had already resigned from his position at Virginia Tech; everything seemed sewn up. Now the chancellor of the University of Illinois has overturned Salaita’s appointment and rescinded the offer. Because of Israel.

The sources familiar with the university’s decision say that concern grew over the tone of his comments on Twitter about Israel’s policies in Gaza….

For instance, there is this tweet: “At this point, if Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised? #Gaza.” Or this one: “By eagerly conflating Jewishness and Israel, Zionists are partly responsible when people say antisemitic shit in response to Israeli terror.” Or this one: “Zionists, take responsibility: if your dream of an ethnocratic Israel is worth the murder of children, just fucking own it already.”

In recent weeks, bloggers and others have started to draw attention to Salaita’s comments on Twitter. But as recently as July 22 (before the job offer was revoked), a university spokeswoman defended Salaita’s comments on Twitter and elsewhere. A spokeswoman told The News-Gazette for an article about Salaita that “faculty have a wide range of scholarly and political views, and we recognize the freedom-of-speech rights of all of our employees.”
I’ve written about a number of these types of cases over the past few years, but few have touched me the way this one has.

It’s unbelievable to me that the University of Illinois could be quite so blind to the principles of academic freedom.  This is a principle worth defending.Yazidi children

While Salaita has been until very recently very active on Twitter, he stopped posting several days ago, which is unusual for him. He is an active writer beyond Twitter, with op-eds (which of late have identified him as an Illinois professor) and with campaigns on behalf of the movement to organize an academic boycott of Israel. He has also published scholarly books, including Israel’s Dead Soul (Temple University Press) and Arab American Literary Fictions, Cultures, and Politics (Palgrave Macmillan).

Salaita’s writing last year, while at Virginia Tech, drew fierce attacks (including death threats). In a piece in Salon, he questioned the idea that people should be asked in various ways to “support the troops.”

“ ‘Support the troops’ is the most overused platitude in the United States, but still the most effective for anybody who seeks interpersonal or economic ingratiation,” Salaita wrote. “The platitude abounds with significance but lacks the burdens of substance and specificity. It says something apparently apolitical while patrolling for heresy to an inelastic logic. Its only concrete function is to situate users into normative spaces.”

While Virginia Tech did not fire him (as many critics urged it to do), some faculty members thought the university — in pointing out that his views didn’t reflect those of the institution — didn’t do enough to defend his academic freedom.

Some who have raised questions about Salaita at Illinois have stressed that they are focused on what they see as incivility and bigotry, not opposition to Israeli or American policies.

Read the rest of this entry »