As we learn more about Omar Mateen, the man who murdered 49 people and injured 53 others at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, it is becoming clear that it was no accident that the gunman deliberately targeted LGBT people. His claims of connections to overseas terror groups may have been little more than a cover for his own “internalized homophobia.” From an LGBT support website “Revel and Riot.” The image at the top of this post also comes from the Revel and Riot article.
Simply put, internalized homophobia happens when LGBQ individuals are subjected to society’s negative perceptions, intolerance and stigmas towards LGBQ people, and as a result, turn those ideas inward believing they are true.
It has been defined as ‘the gay person’s direction of negative social attitudes toward the self, leading to a devaluation of the self and resultant internal conflicts and poor self-regard.’ (Meyer and Dean, 1998).
Or as “the self-hatred that occurs as a result of being a socially stigmatized person.” (Locke, 1998).
PROBLEMS WITH THE TERM
Many LGBQ people do not relate to the expression “internalized homophobia” and as a result end up rejecting the idea before thoroughly examining its meaning. The word “internalized” presents the first barrier. “The concept suggests weakness rather than the resilience demonstrated by lesbians and gay men and keeps the focus away from the structures of inequality and oppression.” (Williamson, I., 2000) The word “homophobia” is the next complication – a difficult and seemingly illogical possibility. How can someone who identifies as LGBQ also have feelings of dislike, fear, and disgust towards themselves? So what can we do about the fact that the combination of words “internalized” and “homophobia” feel unrelatable for so many LGBQs?
Researchers have suggested that using ‘heterosexism’, ‘self-prejudice,’ and ‘homonegativity,’ in addition to the widely accepted term “internalized homophobia,” can help to add depth to our comprehension of the true meaning of the issue.
WHY DOES IT HAPPEN?
Internalized homophobia is a concept much more nuanced than it’s simple definition would suggest. It is clear that the word “homophobia” in this context, is misleading – the over simplified idea that it is individual acts of fear and ignorance diverts our attention from the much more pervasive systemic oppression that is at the root of the problem. The hateful and intolerant behavior of those closest to us often has the most profound impact (parents, church community, peers, partners). While they should be held responsible as individuals, the real culprit is an aggressively heterosexist society that is defining what is “normal,” and therefore what is “right” and “wrong,” through laws, policy, culture, education, health care, religion and family life. This systemic oppression is meant to enforce the gender binary, marginalize LGBTQ people, and keep heterosexual people and their relationships in a position of dominance and privilege.
When we see that homophobia is a result of a this larger system, we see that it is institutional; that it is impossible to exist outside of it; that the real definition of it is so much more than the dictionary simplicity of “irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against homosexuality or homosexuals;” that the root structure is vast, affecting every aspect of life and culture. All of these factors make dismantling heterosexism extremely complicated, and uprooting internalized homophobia even more so.
The above paragraphs form the introduction to a long article, complete with academic references. I can’t help but wonder if it may provide a better explanation for Omar Mateen’s actions than the reflexive assumption that his terrorist attack was inspired the quite disparate terror groups that he claimed connections with.
An American man suspected of killing at least 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando espoused support for a jumble of often-conflicting organisations, according to the director of the FBI.
As details of the worst mass shooting in US history emerged, FBI Director James Comey said on Monday that the suspect, identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen, had not only pledged loyalty to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS), but also expressed solidarity with the Tsarnaev brothers who carried out the Boston Marathon bombing and a suicide bomber who died on behalf of the al-Nusra front, a group at odds with ISIL.
“They’re really trying to paint a picture of a confused person, who felt targeted because of his religion,” said Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane, reporting from Orlando.
The shooter had called 911 during the attack at the Pulse nightclub early on Sunday to express his allegiance to ISIL.
But Comey – who believed Mateen had “strong signs of radicalisation” – said that in the past few years, the gunman also expressed support for both al-Qaeda and Hezbollah.
The FBI investigated Omar Mateen for 10 months beginning in May 2013 after he was said to have inflammatory remarks in support of terrorists.
Mateen appears to have been confused about the groups he named and that they were in opposition to each other. It now seems that these claims were attempts to draw attention away from his conflicted attitudes toward LGBT people and possibly toward his own sexuality.
A former classmate of Omar Mateen’s 2006 police academy class said he believed Mateen was gay, saying Mateen once asked him out….
The classmate said that he, Mateen and other classmates would hang out, sometimes going to gay nightclubs, after classes at the Indian River Community College police academy. He said Mateen asked him out romantically.
“We went to a few gay bars with him, and I was not out at the time, so I declined his offer,” the former classmate said. He asked that his name not be used.
He believed Mateen was gay, but not open about it. Mateen was awkward, and for a while the classmate and the rest in the group of friends felt sorry for him.
“He just wanted to fit in and no one liked him,” he said. “He was always socially awkward.”
Members of YAWF (Youth Against War & Fascism) carry a banner in the Fifth Annual Gay Pride Day march (Gay Liberation Day), New York, New York, June 30, 1974. It reads ‘Stonewall Means… Fight Back! Smash Gay Oppression!’ (Photo by Fred W. McDarrah/Getty Images)
At least four regular customers at the Orlando gay nightclub where a gunman killed 49 people said Monday that they had seen Omar Mateen there before.
“Sometimes he would go over in the corner and sit and drink by himself, and other times he would get so drunk he was loud and belligerent,” Ty Smith said.
Smith told the Orlando Sentinel that he saw Mateen inside at least a dozen times.
“We didn’t really talk to him a lot, but I remember him saying things about his dad at times,” Smith said. “He told us he had a wife and child.” ….
Another Pulse regular, Kevin West, told the Los Angeles Times that Mateen messaged him on and off for a year using a gay chat app.
They had never met, West said, but he watched as Mateen entered the club about 1 a.m. Sunday, an hour before the shooting began.
There’s quite a bit of information about Mateen’s connections to law enforcement in the article. I think those could reveal a great deal about his personality as well as his attitudes toward homosexuality. I’m sure we’ll be learning more in the days ahead.
According to The Daily Mail, even Mateen’s ex-wife says he had “gay tendencies.” From the article:
Many in the Orlando gay community are now coming forward to share similar stories of seeing Mateen at clubs for the past decade or speaking to him on hookup apps….
Regulars at Pulse said they saw Mateen several times over the past three years drinking alcohol and dancing with men.
A couple who perform as drag-queens at the popular venue in 1912 South Orange Avenue said they had seen the 29-year-old party at Pulse.
Ty Smith and Chris Callen said the father-of-one was sometimes so drunk he had to be removed from the club.
Callen, who performs as Kristina McLaughlin, said: ‘I’ve seen him a couple of times at Pulse, a couple of other people that I’ve spoken with, including an-ex security guard, have actually witnessed this guy at Pulse many times before.’
Smith said he’d seen Mateen at Pulse ‘at least a dozen times.’
‘We didn’t really talk to him a lot, but I remember him saying things about his dad at times,’ Smith said. ‘He told us he had a wife and child.’
A security guard who worked at the club two years ago still remembered Mateen turning up to the venue, he added.
Orlando’s gay community is still reeling from the tragedy, and those who had seen Mateen at gay clubs before seem to all have a story to share about his temper.
Callen said Mateen, who seemed like a ‘nice guy’ and was ‘comfortable’ with the draq queens, threatened someone with a knife when he became angry about a religious joke.
Remarks that Mateen drank heavily conflict with his apparently strict adherence to his Muslim faith, including regular worship at a mosque in his home town of Port St. Lucie – where he was quiet and kept to himself.
Homophobes should consider a little self-reflection, suggests a new study finding those individuals who are most hostile toward gays and hold strong anti-gay views may themselves have same-sex desires, albeit undercover ones.
The prejudice of homophobia may also stem from authoritarian parents, particularly those with homophobic views as well, the researchers added.
“This study shows that if you are feeling that kind of visceral reaction to an out-group, ask yourself, ‘Why?'” co-author Richard Ryan, a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, said in a statement. “Those intense emotions should serve as a call to self-reflection.”
“Sometimes people are threatened by gays and lesbians because they are fearing their own impulses, in a sense they ‘doth protest too much,'” Ryan told LiveScience. “In addition, it appears that sometimes those who would oppress others have been oppressed themselves, and we can have some compassion for them too, they may be unaccepting of others because they cannot be accepting of themselves.”
Ryan cautioned, however, that this link is only one source of anti-gay sentiments.
Read much more about these studies at the link.
It’s very important not to allow the media and Republicans to erase the fact that the attack on The Pulse was an attack on the rights of people in the LGBT community and their freedom to gather and support each other in public places.
On May 17, Americans and people around the world mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia by reaffirming the dignity and inherent worth of all people, regardless of who they love or their gender identity.
Our nation is committed to the principle that all people should be treated fairly and with respect. Advancing this goal has long been a cornerstone of American diplomacy, and I am proud that my Administration has made advancing the human rights of LGBT individuals a specific focus of our engagement around the world. I am also proud of the great strides that our nation has made at home in recent years, including that we now have marriage equality as a result of last year’s landmark Supreme Court decision.
At the same time, there is much work to be done to combat homophobia and transphobia, both at home and abroad. In too many places, LGBT individuals grow up forced to conceal or deny who they truly are for fear of persecution, discrimination, and violence. All nations and all communities can, and must, do better. Fortunately, human rights champions and good citizens around the world continue to strive towards this goal every day by lifting up the simple truth that LGBT rights are human rights. The United States honors their work and will continue to support them in their struggle for human dignity.
“Today, I join Canadians – and people around the world – to recognize the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.
“Everyone deserves to live free of stigma, persecution, and discrimination – no matter who they are or whom they love. Today is about ensuring that all people – regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity – feel safe and secure, and empowered to freely express themselves.
“On this important day, I encourage all Canadians to raise awareness, and mobilize to end the violence, prejudice, and judgement faced by LGBTQ2 persons.
“As a society, we have taken many important steps toward recognizing and protecting the legal rights for the LGBTQ2 community – from enshrining equality rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to the passage of the Civil Marriage Act. There remains much to be done, though. Far too many people still face harassment, discrimination, and violence for being who they are. This is unacceptable.
“To do its part, the Government of Canada today will introduce legislation that will help ensure transgender and other gender-diverse people can live according to their gender identity, free from discrimination, and protected from hate propaganda and hate crimes.
“Today, let us unite in a global celebration of diversity, and reaffirm our commitment to unequivocally defend LGBTQ2 rights as human rights. We will never stop fighting for a safer, more equal, and more just world for all of our children.”
According to multiple reports, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has proposed legalizing same-sex marriage across the entire country. Should Mexico recognize same-sex marriages at the national level, it would join the United States and Canada as the only North American nations to do so. Nieto’s proposal comes as part of a string of socially liberal policy ideas from the 49-year-old president, including the legalization of medical marijuana and an overhaul of the country’s war on drugs.
In what’s sure to be part of a growing trend, a young woman in a Walmart restroom Friday was treated to a stern anti-transgender scolding from a self-appointed member of the Moral Police in Danbury, Connecticut. Aimée Toms, a 22-year-old college student from Naugatuck, was washing her hands when a complete stranger hissed “You’re disgusting!” and “You don’t belong here!” Toms, you see, has really short hair and was wearing a baseball cap, which was enough to convince the sharp-eyed Walmart shopper that Toms had to be one of those filthy transgender people using the ladies’ biffy, endangering The Children and ruining America. Toms posted a fine video rant about the experience to Facebook Friday evening, and the video quickly went viral, with nearly 40,000 views since it went up. We have to say we like the cut of her jib. Toms introduces the video with this brief caption:
If it really takes me pulling up my shirt and showing someone I grew these boobs myself for them to leave me alone in a restroom, I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.
Students in North Georgia are the targets of the latest transphobic outcry.
Parents in Fannin County, organized by school resource officer Anthony Walden, rallied last week against a policy supporting transgender students using bathrooms that align with their gender identity, instead of their sex assigned at birth.
Parents packed the Thursday school board meeting to decry the policy, which stems from federal government guidance, with media reports of anywhere from one to three hundred people in attendance.
“We could stand to lose 3.5 million dollars, that’s federal money,” school attorney Lynn Doss toldFox 5 News.
Following the egregious N.C. “bathroom bill,” the federal government issued a letter to schools urging them to allow transgender students to use restrooms and other facilities that correspond with their gender identity and not their sex assigned at birth.
N.C. and Gov. Pat McCrory are facing a lawsuit from the federal government over HB 2, with the Dept. of Justice making clear that transphobic bathroom policies are discriminatory and a violation of student’s civil rights.
So much love to Loretta Lynch for this: “Let me also speak directly to the transgender community itself…no matter how isolated, no matter how afraid, and no matter how alone you may feel today…we see you, we stand with you, and we will do everything we can to protect you going forward.”
I think you can tell the direction this article is taking….
Transphobic statements abounded during the three hours of public comment. Parents and local leaders encouraged the school board to forego the federal dollars, threatening to remove their kids from school.
“We’re going to do everything we can to stop this, and if not, then us moms are going to come home and teach our kids like it used to be,” Parent Angel Chancey said.
“Ask the question what would Jesus have me do in this situation,” said Matthew McDaniel, a pastor at First Baptist Church. “We need to stand on God’s truth in this perverse situation.”
Speaker David Ralston, who represents the area, even waded in, sending a letter to Ga. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Purdue asking them to get involved.
Calling it “a vast overreach of federal authority,” Ralston asks them to “take appropriate action to protect our students and our local educators from the heavy hand of the federal government.”
Well, he certainly doesn’t seem interested in protecting transgender students, and that does not bode well for continued “religious freedom” rabble-rousing during next year’s legislative session.
Have I mentioned how much I hate the people up here in Banjoville. Fannin is the county next door…so they are our Banjoneighbors.
State Sen. Steve Gooch (R-51), Senate Majority Whip, is calling on Georgia’s top officials to take a firm stand against President Barack Obama’s letter sent to school systems Friday with guidelines allowing transgender students to use bathrooms matching the gender they identify with.
“We’re asking the governor and lieutenant governor to look at the president’s policy initiative that he announced this week that basically threatens local governments with withholding their funds for their local schools,” Gooch said Tuesday. “We think that’s a wrong direction for our country. We shouldn’t be controlling local school boards and dictating them and holding this over their head.”
Gooch, of Lumpkin County, briefly answered questions during Tuesday afternoon’s Helen City Commission meeting.
Mike Webb is a conservative candidate for the United States Congress (VA-8) and he’s hoping to bring “responsiveness and accountability” to Washington, D.C. From hiscampaign announcement:
“If we succeed in winning this race as a conservative Republican in the most liberal district in the nation and the most Democratic in the South, that will be a real revolution that will have national implications,” he said in a press release.
He is campaigning with a hands-on approach, insisting he does all of his own social media:
Webb claims that many residents are looking for responsiveness and accountability from their elected and appointed leaders. “One way to do that is to personally respond on social media. Talk and engage with people. Joke and chide. Engage in dialogue. That is what it is all about.”
Unfortunately for Mike Webb, he’s probably now wishing he had someone running his social media. He shared a screenshot of his computer screen while trying to make a point (that was partial conspiracy theory) about trying to find employment and he forgot to close out a couple of tabs:
Oh, my! Fans of Mike Webb’s Facebook page were quick to point out that the two tabs above led to two porn sites. Needless to say, fans were amused:
Picking out single words in a flow of speech is no easy task and, according to linguists, to succeed in doing it the brain might use statistical methods. A group of scientists has applied a statistics-based method for word segmentation and measured its efficacy on natural language, in nine different languages, to discover that linguistic rhythm plays an important role.
Have you ever racked your brains trying to make out even a single word of an uninterrupted flow of speech in a language you hardly know at all? It is naïve to think that in speech there is even the smallest of pauses between one word and the next (like the space we conventionally insert between words in writing): in actual fact, speech is almost always a continuous stream of sound. However, when we listen to our native language, word “segmentation” is an effortless process. What are, linguists wonder, the automatic cognitive mechanisms underlying this skill? Clearly, knowledge of the vocabulary helps: memory of the sound of the single words helps us to pick them out. However, many linguists argue, there are also automatic, subconscious “low-level” mechanisms that help us even when we do not recognise the words or when, as in the case of very young children, our knowledge of the language is still only rudimentary. These mechanisms, they think, rely on the statistical analysis of the frequency (estimated based on past experience) of the syllables in each language.
I hope you enjoy that one BB…
Have a good day y’all, treat this as an open thread of course.
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It’s been since at least November since I’ve had some time to myself when I wasn’t completely in need of tons of sleep so I’m enjoying spending some time in bed with my feet up getting my reads on. There’s not been a lot that’s intrigued me but it beats designing and updating an on line International Finance Class, believe me. So, imagine my sheer joy when I found out that Walmart broke down and upped its wages.
There are several reasons the America’s #1 corporation and chain store made the leap. It was probably a combination of fear of unionization and the incredible employee turnover rate. It really costs to hire and train new workers so upping the salary is really the required move for that one. There’s a lot of analysis on the deed so I’d thought I’d take a look at it. First up, Joe Pinsker at The Atlantic discusses the move.
The CEO of Walmart announced earlier today that all of the company’s employees will, starting in April, be paid at least $9 an hour, nearly $2 more than the federal minimum wage. That’s still far short of the $15 per hour pushed for by OUR Walmart, a union-like group of Walmart workers. Still, it’s a change for a company that has stubbornly opposed such a raise for years.
Walmart’s CEO framed the raise as an act of corporate benevolence, but the reason his company will inch closer to paying all its employees fair wages has little to do with goodwill (few business decisions do). If Walmart has determined that it’ll need to start paying higher wages to stay competitive, then other retailers might arrive at the same conclusion. This isn’t an isolated act of corporate social responsibility—it’s a response to the current realities of labor economics that will likely inform the behavior of other American employers.
Some companies have set even higher wage floors more in line with living wage expectations. Most recently, for example, Aetna set its floor for US workers at $16 an hour, twice the current federal minimum wage.
“Raising wages among low-wage workers shifts income into the pockets of workers and families that are highly likely to quickly spend every additional dollar they earn,” says David Cooper, economic analyst at the Economic Policy Institute.
“So even though some businesses have to pay their workers more, they see more customers coming through the door because now there’s additional dollars rippling out through local economies in a way that doesn’t really happen if those dollars just go back into the bank accounts of corporate shareholders.”
So what has changed? The simple answer is that the world for employers is very different with a 5.7 percent unemployment rate (the January level) than it was five years ago, at 9.8 percent. Finding qualified workers is harder for employers now than it was then, and their workers are at risk of jumping ship if they don’t receive pay increases or other improvements. Apart from pay, Walmart executives said in their conference call with reporters that they were revising their employee scheduling policies so that workers could have more predictability in their work schedules and more easily get time off when they needed it, such as for a doctor’s appointment.
The giant question now is not whether there will be some meaningful wage gains in 2015; beyond the anecdotal evidence from Walmart and Aetna, the collapse in oil prices means even modest pay increases will translate into quite large inflation-adjusted raises. The question is whether wage gains will be strong enough to create a virtuous cycle in which rising pay for the workers at the bottom three-quarters of the income scale, who are most likely to spend the money and get it circulating through the economy, will spur more investment and hiring.
To the degree their logic was, “We think we’re going to need to raise wages this much in the next couple of years anyway to retain good workers and maximize profitability, so we may as well get ahead of the curve and get a public relations bump out of it and announce the plans in a big splashy way,” that would be the best news for American workers. Because that would imply that it won’t just be Walmart workers getting a raise in 2015.
Sitting in the pediatrician’s office with their 6-day-old daughter, the two moms couldn’t wait to meet the doctor they had picked out months before.
The Roseville pediatrician — one of many they had interviewed — seemed the perfect fit: She took a holistic approach to treating children. She used natural oils and probiotics. And she knew they were lesbians.
But as Jami and Krista Contreras sat in the exam room, waiting to be seen for their newborn’s first checkup, another pediatrician entered the room and delivered a major blow: The doctor they were hoping for had a change of heart. After “much prayer,” she decided that she couldn’t treat their baby because they are lesbians.
“I was completely dumbfounded,” recalled Krista Contreras, the baby’s biological mother. “We just looked at each other and said, ‘Did we hear that correctly?’ …. When we tell people about it, they don’t believe us. They say, ‘(Doctors) can’t do that. That’s not legal.’ And we say, ‘Yes it is.'”
The Contrerases of Oak Park are going public with their story to raise awareness about the discrimination that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community continues to face. There is no federal or Michigan law that explicitly prohibits discrimination against LGBT individuals.
For months, the couple kept quiet about what happened to them and their baby — Bay Windsor Contreras — at Eastlake Pediatrics last October.
But the pain and frustration wouldn’t go away. So they broke their silence.
“We want people to know that this is happening to families. This is really happening,” said Jami Contreras, 30, who was blindsided that fall day in the doctor’s office. “It was embarrassing. It was humiliating … It’s just wrong.”
Benton County Superior Court Judge Alex Ekstrom rejected arguments from the owner of Arlene’s Flowers in Richland that her actions were protected by her freedoms of speech and religion. While religious beliefs are protected by the First Amendment, actions based on those beliefs aren’t necessarily protected, he said.
“For over 135 years, the Supreme Court has held that laws may prohibit religiously motivated action, as opposed to belief,” Ekstrom wrote. “The Courts have confirmed the power of the Legislative Branch to prohibit conduct it deems discriminatory, even where the motivation for that conduct is grounded in religious belief.”
Barronelle Stutzman, the owner of Arlene’s Flowers, sold flowers for years to customer Robert Ingersoll. She knew he was gay and that the flowers were for his partner, Curt Freed.
After Washington state legalized same-sex marriage in 2012, Ingersoll went to the shop the following spring to ask Stutzman to do the flowers for his wedding. At the time, floral arrangements for weddings made up about 3 percent of her business.
She placed her hands on his and told him she couldn’t, “because of my relationship with Jesus Christ,” she said in a deposition. As a Southern Baptist, she believed only in opposite-sex marriages.
For more than 30 years, Emmy-winning journalist, documentary filmmaker, and Al Jazeera America anchor Tony Harris has reported on senseless and vicious acts of violence, many fueled by intolerance, fear and hate. In the new Investigation Discovery one-hour special HATE IN AMERICA, Harris partners with The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a non-profit that has been tracking hate groups across the country since 1971, and NBC News’ award-winning production arm Peacock Productions, to examine the current realities of intolerance in America.
According to the SPLC, more than 900 active hate groups currently exist across the United States, from neo-Nazis to anti-government militias, targeting entire classes of people for their race, religion, and sexuality, among other immutable characteristics. Largely propagated by anger and fear over the nation’s ailing economy and the diminishing white majority, that number has been on the rise for over a decade.
Traveling to communities torn apart by violence, Harris pulls back the curtain on what drives modern-day hate, and comes face to face with its victims to examine HATE IN AMERICA.
HATE IN AMERICA premieres on Investigation Discovery on Monday, February 23, at 8/7c.
I’ve often wondered why my attitude towards shopping has changed over time. I used to love going to the big stores downtown and the clerks all seemed so cheery and glamorous. The buildings were vast and had huge tall ceilings supported by ornate columns. The window decorations were incredible during the holidays and they were up such a short period that you had to rush down there just to catch them. It was fun to walk from store to store and each store had its on personality and personalities. This is so different from today’s megastore where every one is rude and seems to only care about low priced junk. The aisles are tight and packed with crap and the crap is hard to find. There is very little help and only cashiers in far off places.
I used to think I started disliking stores and shopping just because I’d worked so much retail in high school and college. But, I still love to hit little antique stores in quaint places and will take hours staring down some bargain. I figured I’d just burned out on the entire store experience from those years. But, I still love hopping around the big stores in NYC and I used to love hitting the Maison Blanche in downtown New Orleans when I first moved here. So much of the things I enjoyed about shopping as a customer are gone. Also, when I was small, even retail store owners and employees had civilized work hours. Now, all I can think about it how grumpy every one looks and how junky the merchandise has become since they work night and day on every day imaginable. I’ve taken to ordering a lot of stuff on line just to avoid the overall experience of the ugly buildings, merchandise and people. The thought of going to a Walmart stresses me out. It’s something I avoid if I can. So, I don’t know. What happened?
Whatever happened to a fun day at a store? Oh, well. Everything changes and now it’s just all about returning profits to a few at the inconvenience and dismay of the many.
So, those are the two interrelated topics that I’ve been investigating this week. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
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Is it just me, or is there less exciting news this summer than usual? Today, the top stories are the Israel-Palestine conflict and President Obama’s supposed sudden freedom to be himself. Oh, and the so-called “super moon” that reached its peak last night.
I have to be honest; I don’t understand why Israel is stepping up its attacks on the Palestine territory; Israel-Palestine discussions always seem to lead to bitter fighting on blogs, so I tend to avoid the issue entirely. But I’ll try to pick out some helpful stories on the conflict this morning.
GAZA CITY — Thousands fled northern Gaza on Sunday as the Israeli military notified residents of an impending attack and its ground troops briefly crossed the border on a mission to destroy a launching site.
“Civilians are requested to evacuate their residences immediately for their own safety,” the leaflets dropped by air said, before listing specific areas that would “prove to be most dangerous.”
Israeli airstrikes hit more than 200 homes and buildings across Gaza on Sunday, bringing the death toll in the sixth day of the Israeli offensive Operation Protective Edge to 166 with more than 1,000 injured, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.
Despite calls from the United Nations and world leaders, there are no signs the two sides will agree to a cease-fire anytime soon.
“We don’t know when the operation will end,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a Cabinet meeting Sunday. “It might take a long time.”
The death toll passed 160 on Sunday on the Palestinian side, with no Israeli fatalities reported. The United Nations called on Israel and Hamas to end hostilities. Instead the violence escalated with more exchanges of rocket fire from Gaza and missiles from Israel….
The military said four Israeli navy commandos were lightly wounded in a shootout with Gaza-based Hamas fighters as they carried out a raid to destroy a rocket launching site on Sunday morning. It marks the first time the sides have directly clashed since Israel began a devastating bombardment in response to rocket fire. Hamas said its fighters had fired at the Israeli force offshore, preventing them from landing.
Both sides have dismissed calls for a truce and Israel has continued to build up troops along the Gaza border ahead of a possible ground invasion.
So is this all-out war?
There has been little sign that either side is interested in an immediate end to the hostilities, which appeared to be ramping up over Saturday night….
The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, said on Friday that “no international pressure will prevent us from striking, with all force, against the terrorist organisation which calls for our destruction”.
Hamas’s Haniya sounded a similar tone, saying: “[Israel] is the one that started this aggression and it must stop, because we are [simply] defending ourselves.”
The latest conflict unfolded after last month’s kidnap and murder of three young Israelis in the occupied West Bank and the brutal revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager by Jewish extremists.
What are we to think about this seemingly endless, unresolvable conflict? I gained a bit of insight from two posts at Tikkun by David Harris-Gershon.
Gershon writes that he was brought up by parents who were very liberal; at the same time he was taught to be loyal to the state of Israel and to believe that the Palestinians were evil.
As an adult, I’ve moved away from such naiveté while holding on to both my Zionist and progressive leanings, despite the growing struggle for coexistence between the two. And it’s not as though I’m mildly informed about the region or mildly invested in Israel and my Jewishness. The opposite, in fact, is the case. I’m a Jewish studies teacher at a day school, yeshiva-educated with a master’s degree from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. I’ve authored a memoir about my experience with terror and reconciliation, and write extensively about the region, often critiquing Israel from a progressive perspective while maintaining my desire for a two-state solution to the conflict.
As an adult, I’ve learned about the cleansing of Arab villages which took place from 1947-1949 to make way for the Jewish state. I’ve learned about the ongoing settlement enterprise, the appropriation and bifurcation of Palestinian lands. I’ve learned the horrors of Israel’s decades-old occupation of the West Bank, about the suppression of basic human rights and the atrocities committed. I’ve studied Israel’s use of indefinite detentions, home demolitions, restrictions on goods and movement, and the violence visited upon those being occupied.
I’ve learned that – and this is just one example of many – a Palestinian child has tragically been killed every three days for the past 14 years. That bears repeating, since such deaths are rarely, if ever, given any attention in America: Palestinian parents have had to bury a child every three days for the past 14 years.
Knowing all this, I’ve still held fast to my ‘progressive Zionism,’ hoping Israel could become that beacon of liberalism I was presented as a child, a beacon which never truly existed in the first place, despite the country’s socialist roots. Why have I done so? For two reasons: 1) deep down, I still believe in the promise of Israel, and 2) I can’t shake the notion that a Jewish state is absolutely necessary for our security….
Gershon writes that he has worked with others to try to get Israel to change its warlike, even racist, policies, but with little success. he has come to the conclusion that the Israeli government has “little interest in peace.”
These realities have forced me to consider the incongruity between my American-borne progressivism and my Zionism. They have forced me to admit, like Peter Beinart, that in order to continue supporting Israel as a Jewish state, with everything it continues to do, I must compromise my progressivism.
However, the mind-numbingly horrific events of the past week have forced me, for the first time, to wonder whether such compromising can be sustained.
Smoke and fire rise above the skyline following an Israeli air strike on July 11 in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Israeli warplanes kept up deadly raids on Gaza Friday but failed to stop Palestinian militants firing rockets across the border (NBC News).
I was sitting in Philadelphia’s airport recently, awaiting a flight back home, the book I had been reading turned face down in my lap. Intentionally. I didn’t want anyone to see the cover. Didn’t want anyone to associate its cover with my views – these people I didn’t know, people I would never know.
I had just opened to the book’s second chapter – “Does Israel Have a Right to Exist as a Jewish State?” – and had closed it quickly. Shocked by the question. Shocked by my imagined (and false) notions of what a chapter with such a title might contain, by the prospect of a stranger seeing me reading it.
So I shut the book – Ali Abunimah’s The Battle for Justice in Palestine, which argues that only a bi-national state can justly end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – and quickly hid it from those milling about.
Gershon goes on to discuss his recent epiphany about the Israel-Palestine conflict.
…recent, unspeakable events of the past two weeks have begun to make me question whether a two-state solution is even remotely possible anymore, particularly as Israeli officials begin embracing various one-state solutions.
Such internal questioning reached a climax on Friday, when Netanyahu explicitly stated that he wanted Israel to control the West Bank indefinitely, marking his first-ever public rejection of the two-state solution and Palestinian statehood.
My jaw dropped.
There’s much more at the link. I hope you’ll check it out.
More than five years into his presidency, Obama is trying to free himself from the constraints of office, whether by strolling on the Mall or hopscotching the country as part of a campaign-style tour. White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer says the president “just wants to get out” and influence “our overall political conversation” by connecting with ordinary Americans.
But to some, breaking free can also look like running away.
Obama’s trip to Colorado and Texas this week took place against the backdrop of a burgeoning crisis on the Mexican border, where tens of thousands of children have been apprehended seeking entry into the United States. In Dallas, Obama dismissed the idea of heading farther south for a border visit as a “photo op” — not long after those photo ops showing him shooting pool and sipping beer in Denver.
Read more at the link. To me it looks like Obama is feeling freed up lately–mostly because he seems to be ignoring Republican nonsense and express his real opinions. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but it feels that way to me.
A gay employee at Franklin Barbecue in Austin had “a lucky day to be the register girl” Thursday, as he not only got to wait on President Obama but got a fist bump in support of LGBT rights.
Daniel Rugg Webb, a musician and comedian who works part-time at the restaurant, was on duty at the register as the president came up to pay for more than $300 worth of takeout, The Austin Chronicle reports. Webb slapped the counter and shouted, “Equal rights for gay people!” Obama asked, “Are you gay?” and Webb replied, “Only when I have sex.”
“That’s when he laughed and said, ‘Bump me,’” Webb told the Chronicle. Several onlookers photographed the fist bump and circulated the photo on Twitter. “It was just a lucky day to be the register girl,” Webb added.
“As a comedian, it was cool to have a moment where I was making a sitting president laugh — over something that might be considered inappropriate is a bonus,” Webb said of the experience.
He said he had been hoping to get in a joke about Texas Governor Rick Perry, who he described as “famously anti-gay.”
While Webb said he appreciates Obama’s social progressiveness, he expressed hope that the president will close the gap between his own relative forward-thinking on gay rights, and his general quietness on the anti-gay views of many state leaders before he leaves office.
“It would be interesting if he could call some people out for it. People can use a lot of things—religion, freedom of speech—to be anti-gay, but I need people to understand you can call people out for civil rights things,” Webb said.
“We are an anti-gay state. We are a state with a whole bunch of hungry children and sick old people, and [Rick Perry is] grandstanding on things that will get him a better election,” Webb said. “And it’s glaringly obvious. He’s kind of primitive in his social beliefs. I would like to see Rick Perry negatively influenced by any kind of attention. Even Obama laughing at something as, hopefully, acceptable as sexuality can show the difference.”
What do you think? Is Obama really changing?
What other stories are you following today? I have a few more news links, but I’ll post them in comments.
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There’s still a lot of questions on what actions the US will take (if any) in Russia’s promise to enforce its anti-LGBT “propaganda” laws during the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games. Yesterday, the big soccer association behind World Cup got involved. Russia is hosting the 2018 World Cup and FIFA has a strict no discrimination policy: FIFA asks Russia to explain anti-gay law
FIFA says it has asked 2018 World Cup host Russia for “clarification and more details” about a new anti-gay law.
The legislation prohibiting “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors” prompted an international furor and the IOC already is seeking answers about how Russia will enforce it during the Sochi Winter Olympics next February.
FIFA says in a statement that “Russia has committed to provide all visitors and fans with a warm welcome and ensure their safety” during its monthlong marquee tournament. Football’s governing body added that it “trusts that the 2018 FIFA World Cup hosts will deliver on this promise.”
FIFA says its statutes foresee “zero tolerance against discrimination.”
I won’t praise FIFA for the query…seeing as their “zero” tolerance is a mere few months old…and comes after so many questionable actions of their own. Mostly however regarding the discrimination of women, but that is another story.
But back to the anti-gay crap over in Russia… would you believe that even the conservative mouthpiece over at WaPo, Jennifer Rubin, has something to say about supporting Human Rights, and by a round about way…gay rights…check it out: Support human rights, punish Sochi sponsors
I’m a bit of an Olympics grouch. Maybe it was holding games in repressive, pollution-laden communist China. Maybe it was the refusal to designate a moment of silence commemorating the murder of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich games. Or maybe it is the anti-nationalistic blather voiced about games in which every athlete wears his country’s uniform and each nation’s medal haul is calculated by the hour. But Sochi, Russia, really is the last straw.
I agree with Minky Worden of Human Rights Watch. She explains that host countries are supposed to comply with the “Fundamental Principles of Olympism,” which include respect for human rights and freedom of the press:
Starting in 2008, Human Rights Watch has documented myriad Russian abuses associated with preparation for the Olympics. These include government harassment and intimidation of activists and journalists, abuses of migrant workers from the former Soviet bloc who are building all the major Olympic venues (including the media center) and forced evictions of some families without compensation. Some migrant workers who tried to complain have been detained.
Over the past year, Russia has also introduced repressive laws targeting certain nonprofit organizations as “foreign agents.” With raids, threats and intimidation, the crackdown has been the most severe of its kind in the post-Soviet era. Central to this campaign is a new law targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. All these efforts are at odds with the Olympic ideal, as expressed in its charter, of “promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.” Russian authorities are apparently counting on the I.O.C. to keep quiet again.
And then there are the rigged elections, corrupt government, imprisonment of political opponents and — let’s not forget — invasion and occupation of 20 percent of Georgia.
The International Olympic Committee is hopeless, and Vladimir Putin is indifferent to public criticism, but sponsors are another matter altogether. Worden is most upset about gay rights (“Unless sponsors and franchise-holders like NBC, Coca-Cola, G.E., McDonalds and Visa want to risk being associated with an officially homophobic Olympics, they must find their voices — before the next I.O.C. head is anointed.”) But there are many reasons not to patronize the Olympics or patronize those companies getting blood money for the mockery of the Olympic spirit.
Yeah, I went ahead and quoted the whole post…it was a short one but I wanted to make sure you saw all of Rubin’s op/ed. Dang…doesn’t this go against everything a Jennifer Rubin should believe in? Looks like she is calling for the kind of boycott uprising ala Stop Rush.
Actually, I am being a bitch there…and should be thrilled that someone like Rubin is supportive of what is right…for a change.
I also think the IOC is going to pull a Sgt.Schultz on the entire mess…”I see nothing, I hear nothing.” I mean, for an organization that would throw out wrestling and baseball and consider pole dancing as a sanctioned Olympic sport, what else would you expect? As Worden states above:
…the Olympic ideal, as expressed in its charter, of “promoting a peaceful society concerned with the preservation of human dignity.”
Yeah…nothing says “human dignity” more than a woman dressed in skimpy clothing doing a “Spatchcock’ on a stripper pole. (You read that right…spatch…cock.)
IPSFLiza Szabo tries a ‘Spatchcock’ at the World Pole Sports Championships.
A police SWAT team stormed a rural Louisiana bank early on Wednesday, killing a gunman after he shot and critically injured two hostages, in a dramatic end to a 12-hour standoff.
State Police spokesman Albert Paxton said officers entered the bank building in the small town of St. Joseph shortly after midnight because the gunman was threatening to kill one or both of the hostages he was holding.
The man, identified as 20-year-old Fuaed Abdo Ahmed, the California-born son of Yemeni parents, shot both hostages when police entered the building. Police then shot and killed him, Paxton said.
“He was angry and he wanted to kill hostages,” Paxton said of the gunman, who initially took three bank employees hostage but released one woman after several hours.
Paxton said Ahmed was mentally ill and had complained of hearing voices. The gunman’s family owned a convenience store in the town, officials said.
The wounded hostages, previously identified as one woman and one man, were taken to local hospitals. Their names were not released.
New Jersey voters took a step closer to choosing a new United States senator Tuesday, picking Democrat Cory Booker and Republican Steve Lonegan to face off in an October special election.
Tuesday’s vote capped a frantic two-month scramble for votes consistently led by Booker, the popular Newark mayor, and Lonegan, a former Bogota mayor with ties to the Koch brothers. Booker easily defeated Rep. Frank Pallone, Rep. Rush Holt, and state Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver. Lonegan beat physician Alieta Eck.
Booker captured 18 of the state’s 21 counties in his landslide win. Pallone, the second-place Democrat, easily won his home county of Monmouth, but lost to Booker in Middlesex County, which he has long represented in Congress. Holt, the third-place finisher, captured his home county of Mercer and also won in Hunterdon County, which he has represented in Congress.
Scientists have cloned a colony of rabbits that glow bright green in the dark, in an attempt to advance research into treatments for life-threatening illnesses.
Researchers based in Hawaii and Turkey produced a litter of eight rabbits, two of which glow green in the dark.
Dr. Stefan Moisyadi, a biogenesis researcher, said the rabbits are like “an LED light”, during an interview with Khon2. “And on top of it, their fur is beginning to grow and the greenness is shining right through their fur. It’s so intense,” he added.
The florescent colouring is used to indicate that the genetic material injected into the embryos is incorporated into the rabbits’ natural make up.
‘It’s just a marker to show that we can take a gene that was not originally in the animal and now exists in the animal,’ Dr Moisyadi explained.
Dr Moisyadi said the animals are not affected by the fluorescent protein and will have the same life span as other rabbits. “The green is only a marker to show that’s it’s working easily,” he said.
Video at the link and a description of how the scientist made the little green buggers.
I hope that these stories were not repeats, I haven’t been able to read much of anything the last day or so. We had a dishwasher blowout at my house Tuesday around 3 am…I went down to the kitchen to get an ice cream sandwich and stepped into a puddle in front of the refrigerator. I’m not talking a little puddle either, I’m talking a Singing in the Rain puddle.
Oh, it was a mess. And it went down into the basement too. Yesterday was also the day I had promised to make the Sicilian pizza for the family. So there was the dishwasher disaster combined with the big swelling lumps of dough, rising for the crust…looking like my Nana’s huge eggplant shaped breast nestled inside the glass Pyrex pans and bursting out of the saran wrap. Hot and sweaty and cooking up something good. What fun. All we needed was a pole and I could have given my best try at a Spatchcock. Oh well, you can’t have everything.
That is all I got for you, now what do you have for us this morning? Share your thoughts below!
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The Sky Dancing banner headline uses a snippet from a work by artist Tashi Mannox called 'Rainbow Study'. The work is described as a" study of typical Tibetan rainbow clouds, that feature in Thanka painting, temple decoration and silk brocades". dakinikat was immediately drawn to the image when trying to find stylized Tibetan Clouds to represent Sky Dancing. It is probably because Tashi's practice is similar to her own. His updated take on the clouds that fill the collection of traditional thankas is quite special.
You can find his work at his website by clicking on his logo below. He is also a calligraphy artist that uses important vajrayana syllables. We encourage you to visit his on line studio.